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Saturday, July 19, 2014


       Yesterday we arrived at our final destination, a lovely beach house near Santa Cruz.  Francesca and I walked to the Pacific's shore admiring the thousands of seashells glistening in the distance. A few steps further told us they At least a half-million of them, mouths agape, piled on the beach. 

   A TV reporter asked, " How do you feel?" I told him I was sad. We later learned that they were white croakers that were probably drowned by -and dumped from- huge gill nets used by large fishing boats.  We learned they become "by-catch" because they have little commercial value.  It was impressive to get a first hand look at one reason why our oceans are dying.

  Thousands of stuffed seagulls stood nearby, waiting to get their appetite back.   We returned at sunset when there were even more.  

  Today the fish were adding  aroma to the air.  The birds and the tide have taken many but not the one with the big, boney head.
  We saw the young mola ("sunfish") staring out to sea, his bottom fin missing, a six-inch wide shark bite on his back.  It was amazing to see a creature I had only admired photographs.  We learned that thousands are killed every year by the nets a well.  
 Photo: An ocean sunfish or mola

Molas can grow as large as a truck and weigh 5000 pounds.



 Last week we visited Miami friend Tom Ferrer and his wife, Debbie. They now live in California's Gold Country with dozens of  hummingbirds, a bear and three dogs. The Forty-Niners rushed there for gold 165 years ago (we found gold too.  More on that later). 

   Tom and Debbie built an energy-efficient house on forty-acres overlooking a delicious, distant blue lake. They'd like to sell it because it's getting too hot.  When we visited 5 years ago it hit 110.  

  Sheets are not hung out to dry. They block the morning and evening sun.
     Sometimes a hungry 300-pound bear stops by to whack bird seed out of their feeders. 

Photo taken through the kitchen window last month.  Debbie said when she opened it and yelled, "Go away!", he did.



   We did not see a bear but we did see many animal skulls on a porch table. Tom explained that the largest one once belonged to his dog, Yuba II.  He went on to explain that Yuba I was buried nearby and that their most recent Yuba, Yuba III, had died two months ago. 
     The Ferrers are experimenting with "green burials" now.  Tom said, "It's how most Indians treated their dead; a body would be left on the ground to let nature to take its course. After I die Debbie can lay me out in the woods too."

    There is a growing green burial movement. Proponents want laws changed so one can simply bury a body without adding embalming and concrete vaults to the process.
It's a great idea.

Image result for image of galen clark  He planted young Sequoia trees at its four corners so "their roots can reach in and take me up to their magnificent, lofty branches".    Last week we learned that California pioneer Galen Clark, one of the founders of Yosemite National Park, dug his own grave at 83, thirteen years before he 
died. That doesn't sound so bad. 

     On a walking tour of their property, the Ferrers offered to show us the remains of their latest dog.  Yuba III's bones were in a clearing, scattered a bit by hungry animals. Tom picked up the head and tail restoring them to their proper places.

  I doubt I'll be asking Francesca to set me out in a field or require her to re-arrange my bones, but somewhere under a mango tree might be good.

    Heading back to the coast we stopped in Sacramento to have lunch with Francesca's nephew and his wife, Rosa.  Afterwards Alan took us swimming in the American River where tiny golden flakes reflected sunlight from the sand.
He told us it was indeed, gold, but the pieces were too small to finance our retirement or even our vacation's gas money.
       With that in mind, we will return to our jobs next month.

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