Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thoughts on Turning Seventy ~ March 17, 2015

As we start crossing thresholds like 30, parents seem to morph into "senior citizens" from our point of view. Wrong assumption! Little do we know about aging and such things until we get here. Mom and Dad retired at 52 and 61 in 1971. They sold the family compound and hit the road for a decade to explore the US and Canada before settling in Arizona. They reinvented themselves, followed their artistic muses, fished, rode trains and made friends around the country. 

As Mark Twain said "Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind it doesn't matter." Hell, at 70 I've reached wise woman status and consider myself a true broad, following in the footsteps of the irreverent and forward thinking women of my family.

To celebrate this milestone of a birthday we gathered friends and neighbors for a day filled with great food, stories, laughter and decadent desserts. A BBQ in March you ask? Yup, perfect winter weather, California style. 

Birthday Girl

Special request
Lemon cake with dark chocolate frosting
from neighbor Carol

Green Goddess Lilies from Susi's garden

Before guests arrive

The afternoon: relax, chat and eat dessert

Secret to success in life and aging

Enjoy life, take care of yourself and follow your dreams.  
Question authority, be your own advocate and never stop learning. 
Always trust your gut and keep negative people out of your life.
Give back, pay it forward and take care of your own little corner of the world.
Never take anything for granted and find the humor in all situations. 
Most important is to be who you are and not give a rat's ass about what other people think.  

Some words from a few well known elders:

George Will

After 70: One has the pleasure of playing, as it were, with house money and to have escaped the disagreeable fate of dying young.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old.

Helen Hayes
The hardest years in life are those between ten and seventy.

Maurice Chevalier
The French are true romantics. They feel the only difference between a man of forty and one of seventy is thirty years of experience.

Mark Twain's Recipe for Long Life. 
The New York Times, December 6, 1905

I have achieved my seventy years in the usual way: by sticking strictly to a scheme of life which would kill anybody else. It sounds like an exaggeration, but that is really the common rule for attaining old age. When we examine the programme of any of these garrulous old people we always find that the habits which have preserved them would have decayed us. I will offer here, as a sound maxim this: that we can't reach old age by another man's road.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fabulous Friday Find ~ Must Dance into Spring ~ March 20, 2015

Cool Kitty

With the future so bright 
We all need cool sunglasses
Whether out for a walk
Calling in vague or cutting classes

Life is too short to be good all the time
Take a time out and experience "sublime"
Riots of spring flowers and songbirds at dawn
It's time to go play, so color me gone

Cool Cat Painting// Cool Cat print // Cat with Shades // Cat Decor // 8 X 10 PRINT // Future So Bright
Just Be

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tombstone Series ~ Those Big Business Sons of Bitches ~ Part I

The monograph, quoted below, was written by my grandfather John Sherman Bagg. It is undated, but probably from the 1950's. It's a wee bit of his family history ala the Reduced Shakespeare Company's take on Shakespeare's plays "Brevity is the Soul of Wit". The corrections and additions, in parentheses, are attributed to some of my research and that of his sister Katherine Bagg Hastings. I wish I'd had the chance to meet him. 

"This then is the story of a lifetime on contacts with these so-called big businesses. It is a personal and first hand story, and involves the thefting, mooching and framing of the American Public out of Billions of dollars, and involves Kennecott Copper Co, The Standard Oil Co and Koppers, the Interior Department, Bureau of Mines and Land Management, the American Crayon Company, the Land Grant Railroads and others. 

I'm paying an ancestral debt by these exposures. An obligation to those who have fought and battled to build and preserve this union against these Sons of Bitches of Big Business. The fight with the greedy amoral bunch of necrophagen still goes on and only those who are born into the purple of dedicated Americanism are able to see and feel and smell it and to those we bow, and with these we join hands and carry on. My right to stand against these sons of bitches who are gnawing at the vitals of our country, stems from the Mayflower. 

I, John Sherman Bagg, am registered in the Studbook of the Mayflower as ninth descendant from John Tilley and his wife Bridget (actually his wife Joan according to William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation)Their daughter Elizabeth married John Howland of the Howland House in Plymouth, whose daughter (Hope Howland) married John Chipman, whose daughter (Sinai Fitch Chipman) married a Welles (D. Cyrus Wells)whose daughter, (Frances Wells) married my grandfather John Sherman Bagg. He was a law partner of John Lansing, father of Robert Lansing of Woodrow Wilson's cabinet with offices in Landsborough, Massachusetts.

Grandfather left that partnership and took over the Watertown New York Freeman, because he wanted to fight the Big Business Sons of Bitches. He was a close friend of President Polk, and at his request "went West" to Detroit where he was postmaster and U.S. Marshall, and finally, at Polk's request he founded the Democratic Free Press to fight slavery. He later changed this to the Detroit Free Press which it is today. 

His son, Stanley Chipman Bagg, moved from Ann Arbor College to Santa Barbara, CA where he was introduced to Colonel
(William Welles) Hollister, a friend of my Grandfather. Colonel Hollister sent him onto the Las Armitas Rancho in the foothills of Goleta, where we leave him for the moment." 

Stanley Chipman Bagg
undated Photo

What Grandfather doesn't mention is that Sinai Fitch Chipman's roots trace back to William Bradford, governor of Plymouth Colony, and his wife Alice Carpenter Bradford, a fact chronicled in his sister Katherine's genealogy, researched and written in 1929, tracing the family lineage back to the Mayflower. 

Barbara and Elizabeth are my mother and aunt and his daughters

Part II of the story will take up the Winchester side of the family. Researching family history is an adventure in perseverance and full of surprises. It is amazing how much you can find on line: from the freshman class of 1873 at Ann Arbor College to an ancestor already cited in another's family tree. If you find a closed door, you'll probably discover an open window or a quiet path to another key in the puzzle. Trace your roots, create a legacy for generations to come. I have no children, but there are generations of other families who share common roots with me. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Just a Thought Series ~ Time on my Mountain ~ December 10, 1970

Thinking of a sunshine day
On the dark lime velvet 
Of Tamalpa's robes
Sentries oak and noble redwood
Watching for the spirit wind

Far below
The ocean's cycle
In lake like calms
Toy boats rock in the crispness
Of a December morn

Looking down from Mt. Tam to Stinson Beach

The clarity of winter
So defines itself
In the timelessness of the day
The innocence of truth's heartchild
Holds me in the peaceful void
Of non-seeking

Transcending the duality of
Observer and observed
I rest quietly in oneness
With the moment between
All time and no time

19 Ought 70 was a year of transition for me. I moved back to Marin County after six years away at college and spent part of the summer exploring British Columbia and Alberta with my dog and two friends I met along the way. Home in the fall to start the next chapter of my life. Growing up on Mt. Tamalpais is a gift that continues to shape my world. It's always a calming and magical place to spend time. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Perfect Winter Day ~ California Style ~ March 4, 2015

Time to clean house this morning, top to bottom. It took us a few hours, but well worth the effort. What to do with the rest of the day? In the interest of keeping the house clean for as long as possible we ran away from home. First stop was a well earned lunch at the Hole in the Wall in Sebastopol. If you live locally you need to try it. 

It's time to check out the new North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve. We were looking for challenge and were not disappointed. The Lookout Trail climbs 800 feet in elevation from the parking lot. It is a 4.2 mile round trip of rambling trail and switchbacks winding through meadows, woods and open space. The view is nothing short of astounding.

The wildflowers are starting to show themselves, but are probably a couple of weeks from "full tilt boogie" color. It is early March after all! The cool winter weather was perfect for the hike. Don't know that I'd want to try it in the heat of summer.

Due to it being mid-week the park was uncrowded. About 90% of the folks we met on the trail were senior citizens like ourselves, further proof that age is only a number, and youth a state of mind. Rod did a short video from the lookout with his iPhone. The youtube link is

Return trip ~ all down hill

Wherever we hike we are always on the lookout for hearts and have never been disappointed. Found these on the trail. We got back down to the parking lot about 4 pm. Rather than head home and mess up the kitchen we stopped at Fandee's, another of our go to places in Sebastopol, for soup and salad.

It was a day well spent, a treasure for us both. We did 4.2 miles of four wheel drive hiking and were no worse for wear. Where to for the next hike? Well we have a Sonoma County Park pass, so must be time to do some exploring in our own backyard. Welcome to the Use It or Lose Tour. Now go play outside.