Sunday, August 30, 2015

Yet another headache...

How long is time enough to wait for a headache to just go away? Begone! I held out for three hours, it's not following directions. Sigh. Hello Advil for breakfast. Ugh.

When my head hurts, the last thing I want is food so that I can take the blasted Advil. Maybe take it with some choco-milk, instead. If only I had some more milk....

Update: Advil is not working. Perhaps some wine. Is it 5 PM somewhere yet?

I slept wrong, usual culprit. My old whiplash is paying me back. I couldn't get my head/neck comfortable last night. I thrashed so hard that the pillowcases slid right off the pillows! It was probably some odd movement I did yesterday to set it off. I've also been thirsty lately, I drank lots of water last night.

Sneezing and swigging my tea with milk and sugar but nada. So Advil, it is. Either that, or I'll gnaw on somebody's ankle. Gotta go shopping before the thundering hoardes arise. Hoards? LOL. I need MILK (said the kitten.) Hordes. You just can't hoard milk. It doesn't work that way.

What exacerbates this, is that I'm drug intolerant. Especially when it comes to pain medications. I can't abide Tylenol. My body thinks it's poisonous. I am le barfoquean, I am. Can't take Excedrin, either. Tunnel vision and general weird out of body experiences are not complimentary to a full-on headache.

Friends suggest caffeine, Coke, chocolate, cannabis, and chamomile. But I can take chocolate. If only I had some chocolate. At this point maybe some hash brownies might offer relief. Rage, rage against the light, and the noise, and the heat, and the light. I can't read, I can't watch TV, I can't surf the internet...

Still no luck. Round three for Advil. what kind of baseball game is this anyway?

POSTSCRIPT: That was a three-day headache. Finallly, some relief. I broke the back of that sucker with a lethal combo of Advil, chocolate and wine, plus gallons of tea.

Revised from a Facebook post: added 8/17

Wednesday, August 26, 2015



When I question my motives
as to why I lean so heavily upon memoir,
Pat Conroy's dark family secrets,
posing as fiction, came to mind.
He said you need to know
" to differentiate
between getting even
and getting it right,
telling off, and telling the truth,
and why we sometimes choose 
fiction over memoir."
That last one is where
I struggle the most,
the compulsion to tell
the truth as I perceive it,
is so enduring, so obdurate,
why it's hard to ameliorate
something as hard as stone.
Who might or might not be hurt
by my words, or if they would ever
even bother to read it.
It's always a gamble.
The dark truth over beauty.
I envy those fiction writers,
how they transcend those secrets.
But then there's always the unsaid:
Getting it right is the best revenge.
Funny, how Pat's father didn't think so.
As Pat's stories, like shining swords,
severed darkness from the past,
and yet still drew fresh blood,
he became a pugnacious apologist,
saying, That wasn't me. He said,
That wasn't me. That
wasn't me.... rubbing
salt into the wounds
of the past.


Monday, August 24, 2015


Someone asks about saudade. Yes, I answer, it's longing, yearning (melancholia/nostalgia). He is yearning for home = tá cumha air i ndiaidh a bhaile (literally, "there is loneliness on him after his home"). There are at least five words for that ephemeral state of being in Scots Gaelic.

In Welsh, it's hiraeth, a homesickness for somewhere you cannot return to, the nostalgia and the grief for the lost places of your past, places that never were.

The Breton for the French nostalgie is hiraezh. This could be a cognate, or borrowed from the Welsh. Hiraeth (first recorded in 1499) corresponds with Cornish hyreth, and Irish sireacht."

The Welsh and Breton come from the Celtic root siros, related to Latin serus.

Full circle to Saudade.


Ukrainian Independence Day

A friend writes: Today, Aug 24, Ukrainian Independence Day! Слава Україні! Героям слава! синій і жовтий! He posts a Ukrainian flag.

I was transfixed by the image, then was deluged by memory. The trident and its hidden sword—I remember the day the Ukrainian flag was raised in Cherkassy. One hot August afternoon, in 1989, we attended a special cultural event, my translator explained, thinking I might find it interesting.

The old Soviet style wood-paneled hall, decorated with sheaves of wheat surrounding hammer and sickle, was oppressively hot, no air conditioning. People, dressed in their Sunday best, circa 1950, were packed in like sardines. It looked as if the entire town had turned out for the event. For us, it was standing room only. Our clothing stuck to our backs as if we'd been working in the fields. We were a rather damp cultural conspiracy.

How I got to the USSR, in particular, the heartland of the Ukraine was through a Sister City cultural exchange with Santa Rosa in California, and Cherkassy. (See my blog links below for that story).

The cultural event turned out to be a variety show. Performers dressed in embroidered peasant garb, sang ancient folksongs accompanied by banduras and balalaikas. Floral-wreathed maidens sang sweetly, and Cossacks exuberantly squatted and danced.

There were classical piano recitals, and kids reciting the poetry of Cherkassy Oblast's own native son, Taras Shevchenko. We all applauded heartily during their final bows. But something more was afoot. 

At the end the event, a grizzled actor still dressed in his cossack attire, came on stage and began to sing "Ще не вмерла Україна," the Ukrainian National Anthem. The audience hesitantly began to join in. As they found their way, remembering the old melody and words, they soon sang with vigor. It was positively electrifying. The walls resounded like the inside of a drum.

Then the actor unrolled an old Ukrainian flag made of silk, bordered with a golden fringe. A flag of blue sky and yellow wheat from 1917. The audience became still as death.

My translator was transfixed—caught up in the moment—he forgot to translate. I was lost between worlds. Something momentous was happening and I couldn't understand a word of it. He said: This is something that has never happened in my lifetime. I never thought I would live to see a day like this. I could only dream of such a day.

The actor gave an impassioned speech and saidГероям слава! Glory to the Ukraine. The crowd exploded. A cultural event suddenly turned into a political rally, my excited Ukrainian host explaining the significance of the song. Ukraine has not perished. 

People were prosecuted as criminals and arrested for merely owning the Ukrainian flag, let alone, raising it, he said. It had survived, hidden all these years. I remember shivering that hot August day—wondering if we were all going to be disappeared to the gulag.

This was before the fall of the USSR, during the heady days of Glasnost, but revolution and the idea of freedom was well on its way during the summer of 1989. The stifling heat along the vast Dnipr River Valley no longer oppressed us. 

And Neptune's trident (some say it was a hovering falcon and a cross), held aloft against a cerulean sky and endless golden wheatfields, so far from the sea, offered promise of a cool breeze at the back of our necks.

 As we walked home, the leaves of the linden trees whispered secrets, then as the breeze picked up, they applauded the sky.

A forerunner of things to come.



Dawn on the Black Sea
White swans emerge from the fog
riddled with streetlight.

(From this video)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Cracked my lower #31 molar

Cracked my lower #31 molar all the way down to the gumline. Owwww. I've been in incredible pain—beyond belief—enveloped the entire side of my head, since Friday afternoon. I thought it was a migraine or a stellar earache at first. Pain finally declared itself and localized on Monday, a toothache, but no abscess.

I've been to a dentist and an endodontist, next up is the oral surgeon. Everyone is very urgent. They say the tooth can't be saved—crack is too deep. I haven't been able to eat since Friday—other than swallow food whole. Not recommended. Any wisdom (or jokes) to share about getting a tooth extracted? 

I do have all my wisdom teeth, TG...they were all so sure it was a wisdom tooth issue. I said Step away from my wisdom teeth. They're mine and I plan to keep them. They laughed. I'll still have two molars in a row to grind up my food. I go in at 11AM today (cancelled yesterday, I wasn't ready...) I'm terrified. Never had a tooth pulled before. Never had a toothache either.

I'm in that slender boat. Can't take pain meds. I barf them across the room. I can't believe I can tolerate Advil this long *since Fri). but so far, so good. Oil of clove and Scotch as a mouthrinse seems to help. I've been a TMJ gnasher, I've snapped at the air, bitten my tongue, all in my sleep. Fractures occur, and the tremendous amount of pressure on our lower jaws finishes them off when you bite down wrong on a tiny little seed, etc.

It's done, I'm toothless in Gaza. Well, I'm minus one tooth, packed in gauze, but I still have more teeth than the average bear as I still have all my wisdom teeth. SO was a not very smart tooth pulled? Some silly putty.

I had to pay the dentist, the endodontist and the oral surgeon. Wisdom tooth is pretty well rooted in my jaw, so it's not going to move much, says the oral surgeon. The other molar might move but apparently teeth tend to move forward, not backward in the mouth. Who knew? In three months I can get a titanium bolt shot into my jaw and a fake tooth added. Need to price them out.

Swishing with saltwater after every time I eat. At least I can now eat soft food. It was pretty surreal getting a tooth pulled. Eating is still tricky business. I was using whisky as a swish gargle to numb the pain, followed by oil of clove, then waited for the Advil to kick in. A good thing about a whisky gargle, is that you can drink it when you're done. I whipped out my flask every time it became unbearable. It got so that I began to like the taste of whisky as it killed the pain...LOL

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cracked tooth

So I cracked a lower molar all the way down to the gumline—chewing some tough Frenchbread. I've been in incredible pain since Friday afternoon, which enveloped the entire side of my head. At first, I thought it was a migraine, or a stellar earache. Pain finally declared itself on Monday, and localized, a toothache. Yowza.

I've been to a dentist, an endodontist, an oral surgeon. Everyone is very urgent and efficient. They all cluck like chickens and say that the tooth can't be saved—the crack is too deep. I haven't been able to eat since Friday—other than swallow my food whole. Not recommended.

They were all so sure it was a wisdom tooth issue. I said, Step away from my wisdom teeth. They're mine, and I plan to keep them. Thank you very much. They laughed. I'll still have two molars in a row to grind up my food. what is it about dentists and their classic hatred of wisdom teeth, anyway?

I got a new appointment at 11AM today (I cancelled yesterday, I just wasn't ready). I stalled when I realized that I'd made it through the worst part of the pain and didn't need to go in stressed to the max, and be bilious to boot. I am researching the process now to see if there's a chance to save a split tooth. Also I resented the fact that everybody was rushing me about, trying to help, because I was in so much pain. Advil is working. I know my tooth is not going to get infected in the next few hours, etc. So, chillax, already.

The truth is, I'm secretly terrified. I've never had a big tooth pulled before. Never had a toothache either. To further complicate things, I'm in that slender boat where I can't take the usual opiate pain medications. I tend to barf them across the room. I can't believe I have tolerated Advil this long, but so far, so good. Oil of clove and Scotch as a mouthrinse seems to help.

Fairfax dentist, Thos. J. Snead, D.D.S., was a a bit of a sadist, his oral regime did not include pain relief. He's the reason why I abhor dentists. He wanted to yank my wisdom teeth, but I had a gum infection, so he couldn't have at them. I am so glad I have them now.

I've been a TMJ gnasher all my life, I've snapped at the air, bitten my tongue, grated my teeth, all in my sleep. Fractures occur, and the tremendous amount of pressure on our lower jaws finishes them off when you bite down wrong on a tiny little raspberry seed, a corn nut, granola, etc. The sheer shear factor.

The past few nights, I've had such wild dreams about my teeth. I realized that I need to say goodbye to my tooth. It sounds silly, I know. But I also want you to know that I was using whisky as a swish gargle to numb the pain, followed by oil of clove, then I waited for the Advil to kick in. So there were mitigating circumstances, in that I was pleasantly pickled these past few days. 

One good thing about a good whisky gargle, is that you can drink it all up when you're done with the gargling part. Very efficient, if I don't say so myself. Every time the pain became unbearable, I whipped out my flask, pronto. And gargled on, much to the dismay of my cousins. I began to like the taste of whisky as it efficiently killed the pain, LOL.

It's done, I'm toothless in Gaza. Well, I'm minus one tooth, packed in gauze, but I still have more teeth than the average bear as I still have all my wisdom teeth. So, inquiring minds wanna know, was a not so very smart tooth pulled? Black teabags are my go-to gum packing devices. The caffeine brings some relief too.

My wisdom tooth is pretty well rooted in my jaw, so it's not going to move much, so says the oral surgeon. He said the other molar might move a bit, but apparently teeth tend to migrate forward, not backward in the mouth. Who knew?

I approach the concept of eating with trepidation. A good thing I don't like Tootsie Rolls. I have an earache right now. I'm swishing with saltwater after I eat. At least I can gum soft food. It was pretty surreal getting a tooth pulled. I can see that eating is will continue to be a tricky business.

added 8/19, rev.
I used most of this in my next post. Need to combine and delete. I was too out of it to edit.

Monday, August 17, 2015


A 4.1+. So that's what woke me!
Shaken, not stirred in Nicasio.
Hayward Fault is shaking its mantle.
And here I thought it was my cracked tooth.

Saturday, August 15, 2015


On the day of my aunt's memorial, it is hotter than Hades, and the sky is burning. We head to the coast. Everyone else is thinking the same. It's a parking lot in Pacifica. But at least there was less smoke along the ocean. We're hours late for the memorial.

There was a fire in Terra Linda last night. Probably the fresh smoke I was smelling. This current wave of smoke is from more than the Lake County Jerusalem fire, northeast of Clearlake. I couldn't even see Mt. Tam from the East Bay. Huge roils of smoke are seething all up and down the coast—to at least Santa Cruz and beyond.
"Smoke from a series of Northern California wildfires on Saturday set a thick haze over Sonoma County and reached south to much of the Bay Area. The air around Santa Rosa smelled of smoke Saturday and visibility was greatly  diminished. Local fire officials said the smoke wasn’t due to fire activity in the county. Northern California wildfires blamed for hazy skies over Bay Area
The air is contaminated by huge fires in Northern California and beyond. There are reports that it's hazy in Santa Rosa, and you can can smell the fires burning. In Modesto there was so much smoke, it was as if the fire were burning right on Hwy 99. All that smoke slowly being pushed south by gentle winds. The wind has shifted and we're getting the brunt of it now. The smoke is supposed to be even worse tomorrow.
Fire officials said the blazes responsible for the smoke weren’t in Lake County, where nearly 150 square miles of grass and woodland have been on fire in recent weeks. Instead, the shift in winds overnight Friday pushed the heavy smoke from several fires in far northern Trinity County into the area.
When I came down from Canada, I saw how bad it was all the way down, especially in Oregon and on the California borders. Wildfires from British Columbia to Napa are raging through the night. Weird to think that we are breathing in the carbon residue from trees dying in the Trinity Alps. 

Today, the gentle wind currents brought more smoke down from Lake County. It was smoky in SF all day, and also in Oakland once I got home. Even Monterey and Santa Cruz are blanketed in thick smoke.There is that orange alpenglow in the sky, casting purple shadows on the landscape as the sun sinks lower on the horizon. Surrealistic landscape. On the day we said goodbye to my aunt Jane.

added & revised 8/17

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Midgies vs Mosquitoes

Are you a midge or a mosquito? Inquiring minds need to know.

In Vancouver people kept warning us: Beware the midges! —like it was the Ides of March come to visit us all toga-ed up during the dog daze of August. Et me, you brutal midgie? Take that!  Talkin' smack, here. Fkn bloodsuckers.

I asked: Did you mean small mosquitoes? (In the Sierras, Alaska, and upper BC, mosquitoes the size of small helicopters, bloodthirsty packs have been known to drain a caribou dry in a single night). No? What were they referring to?

On the other end of the biting insect spectrum are the no-see-ums. They do bite. But not all small flies suck blood or bite. Most of them just don't. Well, it turns out that it's a case of generic mistaken identity. I always assumed midge stood for midget mosquitos, mosquitoes being a Spanish word, and we all know how the British like to masticate and mangle foreign words. (That's masticate, you durty bird).

Some of those small UFO clouds of hovering flies that try and crash-land in our nostrils, mistaking them for hangars, are also sometimes called midges too. (We called them gnats and mayflies in Marin). Nothing quite like breathing in a fresh cloud of gnats.

It also seems that folks in the UK have a pathological fear of all one thousand and one varieties of mosquitoes—especially she-who-shall-not-be-named. And they erroneously assume that all mosquitoes are tropical poseurs, and they carry all manner of deadly diseases (so not true). We'd all be dead in North America if that were so. (Well, there is the West Nile Virus.)

I found conflicting information that midges do (or do not) bite—at least in Scotland they do. Apparently all Highland midges carry small bagpipes and a big proboscis. It's not just a case of Scottish DTs in progress as no unidentified flying pink elephants were involved. 

Mosquitoes, on the other hand, are all about the meeeeeeeeeee generation. You can hear them coming in for a soft landing at 3 AM. And of course you do know that the word "mosquito" (mosca and diminutive -ito) is Spanish for little itty-bitty fly. Make that bite-y fly. All thousand and one-two-three species of them.

But do we have midges in Western North America? I think they do have midges on the East Coast. They're called 
no-see-ums or punkies. Punkies! Or is it merely a case of mistaken identity, or a case of mistaken similarity, in the case of our Vancouver midgie friends—like old and new world robins?

Have you ever seen a British robin, he's the size of a midge, er, minute, compared to our American robin red breasts. I had one boldly hop up to me on Callendar Bridge, and I was dumbfounded as to what he was, until the Robin Red Breast rhyme came to mind. A tiny bit of orange fluff on twig legs, not at all like our pigeon-sized robins.

In any case, back to the story of True Blood. Those blasted broody female midges and mosquitoes are ardent Dracula fans. I vant you for your blood! The bhoys midges and mosquitoes, on the other hand, are content with supping and sipping on flower nectar all day long, not feasting on our necks. Better 
bless those bats who are the first line of defense against the bloodthirsty mosquitos and midges.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015



An abrupt move forced my hand.
As I packed my bags to go,
this time I thought, for good,

I assumed if I stayed still as a stone,
it would be a figment of my imagination,
perhaps a bad dream on a clement shore.

What was revealed
was the forgotten detritus of the past.
This galvanized me into verb.

I am only just now surfacing,
madly documenting whatever I can,
in a haphazard manner, scanning
my life, such as it was.

Then unpacking my bags
again. Clemency granted.
Such as it is.


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Jane B. Reilly obituary, Marin IJ

Jane B. Reilly
August 9, 2015 |Marin Independent Journal (San Rafael, CA) 

Santa Cruz CA United States

Jane B. Reilly June 26, 1929 ~ July 26, 2015 Resident of Santa Cruz Jane Bernadette Reilly of Santa Cruz, CA. passed away peacefully in Santa Cruz at the age of 86 surrounded by her loved ones on 7/26/2015. Jane was born in San Francisco on 6/26/1929 to Jennie and Bernard Reilly and was the oldest sister of 8 children. Jane lived most of her life in Lagunitas, CA until she moved to Santa Cruz to be with her sister in 2009. Proceeded in death by her parents Jennie and Bernard Reilly, brothers William, Myles and Felim Reilly, sisters Maureen Hurley and Canice Santos. Jane is survived by her brother John Reilly of Santa Clara and sister Kathleen Ritter of Santa Cruz. Jane had no children but was the proud loving aunt and great aunt to her many nieces and nephews related biologically as well as an extended family in Santa Cruz that loved her very much. Jane always had a hug and a kiss ready for the little ones whenever she saw them. She also was very patient in sharing her love of gardening and cooking. She was also a model in her day for Gallo wines. It was very exciting for her to see herself on a billboard posted in Time Square in New York City. Jane was very active in the Republican Party elections in San Francisco in the 1960's and 70'and had many stories about her experiences. Jane also enjoyed skiing, golf and swimming throughout her life. A service will be held in Santa Cruz, CA, August 15th 2:00pm. at Oakwood Crystal Chapel, 3301 Paul Sweet Road, Santa Cruz, CA 95065 She will be interred at Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Coloma, CA in the Reilly family plot at a later date. If you would like to send your condolences to Jane's family or share a photo or memory please visit

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Jane Bernadette Reilly

During the late 1960s, my aunt Jane Reilly, left a job where she had been a data processor at (Southern Pacific) Pacific Fruit Express for 17 years. (After graduating from Star of the Sea Academy, Jane studied accounting at Golden Gate College.) But she decided there was more to life than crunching data.

After a long overdue Hawaiian vacation, Jane joined C&H Sugar Company in San Francisco as a claims accountant and IBM tab operator, to work with their big IBM mainframe computers, but in 1969, it was a man's world. So, she saved her pennies. In her early 40s, Jane threw it all over. Emulating Julia Child, who inspired the American public with her television series, The French Chef, in 1973, Jane followed her dream and flew off to Paris to garner her Grand Diplôme at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France.

Jane's Grand Diplôme signed by Madams Brassart, herself.

When Jane returned to San Francisco in 1975, flat broke, with diploma in hand, she moved in with my grandmother and me. She sent out carloads of resumes, but didn't get a nibble, not even as a sous chef—because she was a woman. It was pretty much next to impossible for a female chef to land a job during that era. Especially in provincial Marin. it was still the 1970s.

So Jane diversified and made friends with the men chefs. Those connections landed her an itinerant position making pastries for Marin restaurants including San Rafael's La Petit Auberge. To make ends meet, she also cooked for the Marin Civic Center cafeteria. All the lawyers would line up when she placed her prized lemon meringue pies in the glass showcase.

In order to attend the French cooking school, Le Cordon BleuJane had to learn French from scratch, she attended night school at City College. Learning French from audio tapes was difficult enough, but once she got to France, she found it wasn't easy being a woman chef at the male-centric Cordon Bleu. There is still tremendous prejudice against women chefs. Julia Child crashed that male-dominated enclave, and my aunt was right on her heels. But the kitchen door swung shut.

The irony is that Le Cordon Bleu was founded by a woman, Marthe Distel, in honor of
 courtesan Jeanne Bécu, comtesse du Barry. King Louis XV stated to Jeanne, his last Maîtresse-en-titre, that only male chefs were capable of producing haute cuisine. 

Madame du Barry (whose father was a cook called Gourmand), specialized in light flavorful dishes, said the French equivalent of Game on! and invited the king to Petit Trianon for a savory supper of pheasant consume, roast chicken with watercress salad, iced peaches and strawberries in maraschino, washed down with a vat of green walnut liqueur.

Louis was so enamored, he wanted to hire the chef on the spot for the court kitchens. Madam du Barry demanded that "he" first be awarded the coveted highest knight's award, Le Cordon Bleu, the blue ribbon. Then she introduced the chef. A woman. Alors! Said the king. Court food was forever changed. But when the king died, common-born Jeanne ran afoul with Marie Antoinette, and lost her head. So much for letting them eat cake.

Jane holding aloft some Cook's Champagne.

I learned to make Jeanne du Barry's fam
ous crème brûlée, and pâte à choux for profiteroles from Jane who was a top notch chef, and her pastries were divine. Jane used to make a killer chocolate gateau for my birthdays.... (devil's food cake kicked up several notches).

I learned many recipes from her, including how to properly make ratatouille, and who hasn't tried chicken Cordon Bleu or crème du Barry (chou-fleur soup)? But mon petit chou-fleur, my personal favorite was real French mousse au chocolat made with egg whites (not whipped cream). Jane brought me my first Sabatier vegetable knives, and a huge copper bowl for making mousse and meringues. Her lemon meringue pie was to die for. 

Jane had a secret fudge recipe she had purloined from See's Candies, a main customer of C&H Sugar, and those old IBM reels made perfect candyboxes at Christmas time. I still make a mocha variation of that infamous See's fudge during the holidays.

Jane cooked for a French family for room and board, and they treated her quite poorly. Despite their bad manners, they were her guinea pigs. and had no complaints about eating 3-star Michelin meals. When she left, they all resembled the rotund Michelin Man.

All was not a cultural desert in the realm of women chefs, in 1971, Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse in Berkeley. But few women chefs have shattered that glass wall. Even today, only 19% of professional chefs are women, and they earn $20k less than men.

If Jane had been able to obtain the backing to open her own restaurant, or if she had been born a few decades later, her story may have been very different. She would've been celebrated on Master Chef, I'm sure. TV would've suited her.

Jane dancing the can-can at Old St. Mary's Church in San Francisco.

When Jane was young, she danced in a few amateur musical theater shows in SF, including The Mikado, and a Barbary Coast review, The Golden Nugget, an original musical performed by the Young Adult Players, where she was the lead can-can girl. 

At nearly 6 feet tall, Jane was statuesque, and looked like Maureen O'Hara, so photographers including Peter van Nghiem sought her out as a model for their portfolios. That exposure landed her the job as a model for the Gallo ad. (She even dragged me to the Eileen Ford Agency when I was 16.) She was an avid golfer and skier, but swimming was her main sport.

Jane remained interested in musical theater (my mom was also an actress at the Gate Playhouse in Sausalito). When Jack Aranson staged his one-man monologues of Moby Dick and Dylan Thomas at College of Marin, we catered the events. Ratatouille and lamb burgers. Jack was an old friend of Jane's from way back. Irish connections run deep.

A 1950s rendering of Jane on the back pages of of funny papers & magazines. 

Jane was the first model for Gallo's Paisano wine (they had to make her look Italian), and various permutations of this ad appeared in magazines and on billboards across the nation—including in Times Square. An image I saw throughout my childhood. I thought everybody's aunt appeared on the back page of the funnies. 

This half-page front section ad appeared in the Food section of the San Francisco Chronicle, July 1, 1954. Check out the price of wine. 

I found a version of the color ad in extremely poor condition in my grandmother's damp basement. With the help of Photoshop, I was able to mend the ad and the crumpled and torn photos. But time and dampness had reduced most of her memorabilia to pulp.

Jane holding the color ad that was a billboard in Times Square.

The Paisano trademark of E. & J. GALLO WINERY patent was filed on June 8 (1953), they opened for business in 1954, so this is really the first ever Gallo ad. There were supposedly also television ads as well, but I never saw them as we didn't have a TV. Later, Piasano was given its own label Carlo Rossi. Top salesman Charlie Rossi was a Gallo relation and starred in commercials during the 1970s. I wonder if Gallo even has Jane's ad in their archives. I never found one online.

This photo inspired the Gallo ad. No one—Jane, the photographer, nor the artist—were paid much for their time.

After Paris, Jane was bitten by the travel bug, and ran Valley Travel in Lagunitas for several decades. (Maybe it was all those years working for Southern Pacific that whetted her appetite for travel.) Many West Marin folks bought their airline tickets and planned their journeys with her, including myself. She returned to France several times, and traveled to Ireland* and Tahiti as well.

(*In 1964, Jane bought a one-quarter ticket on the Irish Sweepstakes, and took my grandmother to Ireland on her winnings. The Irish government literally rolled out a red carpet when they landed at Shannon Airport via Aer Lingus, as my grandmother had left Ireland before it was a republic, and had no passport. She was so embarrassed she sneezed and broke her false teeth, on the tarmac, so her first appointment in Ireland was with a dentist for a new set of choppers.)

Jane, a staunch Republican, was active in politics, and worked on Nixon and Barry Goldwater's campaigns. We never saw eye-to-eye on politics. I found Goldwater and Nixon buttons and autographed photographs of Dr. Rand Paul  (who, like Goldwater was against socialized medicine) in her abandoned belongings. 

Jane co-chaired The Coffee Bar, a Catholic social club, with Eileen Nugent. Jane also served as an officer for the San Francisco Toastmasters (it was then called the Toastmistress Club) whose focus was to enrich lives through communication, leadership & community.

I remember Jane preparing speeches when I used to visit her in San Francisco, when I was a teenager. With regret, I dumped boxes of her Toastmistress binders, when I was cleaning out the basement. Jane was also a member of the Mechanics' Institute Library and Chess Club, and I loved visiting the library when I was writing term papers. 

Jane also donated her time to Catholic and Irish charities. One project stands out—I think it was for Project Children, bringing together Catholic and Protestant Irish kids to America from war-ravaged segregated Belfast ghettos to facilitate mutual respect and understanding. The Troubles—the sectarian violence that began in 1969, had created a vicious self-perpetuating cycle of endless violence. 

The central focus of Project Children was to break the pattern of terrorism and despair, child by child, by lifting them out of Northern lreland and placing them with American host families for the summer to offer them some respite from the ravages of ongoing war trauma. I don't know how Jane got involved with this project, probably through the church or the travel agency, but her role as a host coordinator changed a lot of children's lives for the better.

My cousin with Jane Reilly on her 86th birthday, June 26, 2015.

I last saw Jane on her birthday, June 26th, a month before she died. We brought her a pot of pink lilies, some chocolate and a Trader Joe's cloth bag. She was very good at covering up her dementia but she didn't even know it was her birthday. When we showed her all the old photos I'd scanned, including the Gallo ad, which tickled her to see it again, her memory came trickling back, and she told us stories and names to go with the photos.

She said she had a scratch on her leg. It was melanoma. The doctor removed it, found bone cancer, then, he found uterine cancer. She'd had breast cancer a decade earlier but refused to take her estrogen blockers. She also refused implants or any medical aid, she paid for it all herself. Didn't want to be beholding to anyone. But hospice came in to transition the end and took care of her, along with my cousins.

Jane's memorial service will be held in Santa Cruz on August 15th, at 2 PM. RIP Gallo Girl, you were a real blue-ribbon champion to the very end.

6/26/1929 - 7/26/2015

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Wildfires in the Cascades

OK, it's time to jump into the fray, into the thick of it. No deep breathing allowed until we get past Sacramento. Burning, weeping eyes. It smells like we're inside a really big BBQ pit. We can't even see most of the Cascades. Are we in Armageddon yet? The smoke made vast black walls behind the clouds above Crater Lake.

There were hellacious thunderclaps in Klamath Falls the other night, and it railed all the way to Weed, enough to leave puddles in parking lots. Last night's thunderstorm cleared the air somewhat. We were stuck a couple of days in Klamath Falls, getting a windshield fixed. Not much to to there. Some cool old Art Deco buildings downtown, an old car dealership with frescos in the style of King Tut, but this is no Luxor, the town has been eviscerated.

I was shocked to discover that there are no falls in Klamath Falls.The entire Lower Klamath Lake has been drained. You can see the levees. I had no idea that the entirety of the Trinity River Complex, a major contributor to the Klamath River, is almost all diverted, and all within my lifetime—to sell alfalfa hay to the UAE, and China. So much for the Klamath River salmon run. No place for them to go. Meanwhile, the drought continues unabated. Wildfires have become the norm. This is not good. A thirsty earth, angry wildfires. The name of the future is upon us.

My. Shasta hiding behind a veil of smoke.

I did not clean my cover photo up with auto contrast so you could see how thick the smoke really is. It got worse by late afternoon. How thick was the smoke? Can you even see Shasta looming dead ahead in this photo? We're at the Hwy  99 overlook. It's mid-day, around 2 PM.

And this is only the Northern California fires....

Home again, jiggity-jig. Never thought I'd say the air is so much better in the Bay Area than in Northern California....the smoke was MUCH worse as we headed south into Weed, Shasta and especially Dunsmuir and Redding, it was almost like twilight with smoke, though the clock said 3PM. Highway 97 goes right past Shasta, and we could barely see it. Smoke was thick as knives as we neared Davis, from Lake County fire. It was like a brown cloud roof over us, the sun glowed like a strange pumpkin. A portent of things to come.

Added 8/19, from Facebook posts

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Mt Hood from the timberline parking lot

Mt. Hood. Less smoke at the higher altitudes. I'm freakin bummed that I can't walk up this path, my knees are so done with me...even with knee braces. Payback. Trail becomes a free-for-all in a few meters. Then you follow the lava flows. and what once was an icefield. Timberline is behind me, and I can't go up the mountain because of my knee injury. What a fucking dilemma. This is out the back side of Timberline Lodge which is a beautiful lodge. But I can only get so excited over a lodge. Neil took off for the afternoon without telling me so I was stuck in the car for hours. Waiting. I was furious. He hitched a ride on a gondola. I could’ve seen the mountain as well, had he bothered to think of me too. At least the air was easier to breathe.

Crater Lake vog (photo)

Where there's smoke...yeah. It smells like we're inside a really big BBQ pit. We can't even see most of the Cascades. My eyes are burning so much I kept calling it vog. The smoke made vast black walls behind the clouds above Crater Lake. Last night's thunderstorm cleared the air somewhat. I did not clean my cover photo up with auto contrast so you could see how thick the smoke really is. It got worse by late afternoon. it got MUCH worse headed south into Weed, Shasta and especially Dunsmuir and Redding, it was almost twilight with smoke, though the clock said 3PM.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Crooked River, Oregon (photo)

Crooked River, Gorge, somewhere in Oregon on the back side of the Cascades. The best Roadside Rest stop—ever. I literally screamed STOP THE CAR as we drove over the bridge. Neil was so startled, he actually did it. That's 300 feet straight DOWN. Gorgeous, literally. My eyes couldn’t stop drinking it in. Long columns of basalt crystals. WOW. Crooked River, Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint along U.S. Route 97 in Oregon.

Welcome to Boring. Paired with Dull (photo)

One guess, where am I? Leaving the Columbia River Gorge after the Enumclaw Games, we stumbled across this sign and burst out laughing.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

At Wreck Beach for BC day

Last night there was a spectacular sunset at Wreck Beach, followed by fireworks (BC Day), and a blood-red moonrise. There were hundreds of stairs to navigate just to get down to the beach, which nearly killed me. Mobs of people. Everyone was intent on getting high. I could have killed our host, a moon-mad musician, Elegwen Ó Maoileóin, for dragging us all the way down the cliff to the beach. My knee brace was useless, and I had to navigate my way back up the stairs again amidst throngs of people. Not only that, he had frittered away the entire day, which meant we were in a waiting pattern in the house all day, when we could’ve done something else—like see the beach during daylight—and it was a rare, hot, beautiful day. I could have been out taking photos. My happy zone. Lord knows I don’t have many happy zones these days. His spirit guide is inertia. I’m no good at playing the waiting game. Lord knows I did enough of that with my mother, and paramour, Tom. Always jonesying for the next fix. At least I am leaving this place cleaner than when we arrived. The house was a shambles, he had crap everywhere. We created some semblance of order during our stay in there. We earned our keep. I fixed his old MacBook, bought him a hard drive. Salvaged his long lost files. Gave him money. Turns out Neil gave him money too.

The last time I was at Wreck Beach was with an old boyfriend, Bob Hamilton, during the mid-1970s. I remember that there was a Soviet trawler offshore. Exotic visitor. Russian sailors in port. I had no idea I would one day visit the USSR, but the memory was etched into my retina. I wanted to take new photos as my old photos were long lost. Our last free day in Canada was spent waiting for nothing—while Elegwen got high. I grieve, knowing that I will never pass this way again. My idea of purgatory. See, we had the car... I’m livid, icing my poor throbbing knee, which is enflamed, and the size of a basketball. Today, the sunlight has a sepia tinge. Smokebank in the distance, like a hangover fog, obscuring the It’s definitely time to leave when the host begins to smell of week-old fish.  horizon. Raging fires on the Olympic Peninsula, Mt. Baker & Snoqualmie—a Salish word for the moon.

added, revised 8/20

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Pacific Northwest is on fire (photo)

Moonrise over Mt. Baker, 3 nights ago., now you can't even see the mountain.

The Pacific Northwest is on fire. Yikes! The Olympic Peninsula is burning—Paradise on Mt. Rainier is burning. The Hoh River Valley rainforest—one of the wettest place on earth, is burning. I'm crying useless tears for the venerable trees of antiquity burning. Much of Western Canada is burning. The Vancouver sky is a dirty vanilla color with all the smoke. You can no longer see the mountains—not even Mt. Baker. In California, Humboldt and Trinity, as well as Lake County are being evacuated. It hurts to breathe. Is Yolo County still on fire? What about Sierra Foothills? We need a list of places burning. There's no one central site. Wondering how we're going to get home if Interstate 5 is closed. Everything is burning.  SoCal, San Marcos/San Diego. Where else? Happy Lúgnasadh, some bonfire, the West Coast is burning—the gods must be really happy.

added 8/20