Category: ramblings Page 1 of 6

books I read

Within the last few years, I unknowingly purchased a book from the dollar store, that would change me into a better person for having read it. In fact, the book I purchased was the fourth in a 13.5 book series. Which of course I didn’t know at the time. Thus started my addiction to a charming and thoughtful way of storytelling.

Darynda Jones has since become one of my favorite writers. She not only unfolds a story with witticism and characters that spring from the pages with love and laughter, she creates a world, a universe where they exist! The fourth book of the Grave Series is where I began my journey. For a buck no less…smile!

I even wrote a fan email asking for her to make sure the rest of the series would end up at Dollar Tree as well. A polite reply saying it was out of her hands was my reward. (smile) I managed to find most used at Thriftybooks online and a few on ebay.  When I finished the series, (sadly as I never wanted them to end!) I realized she had written other books. Go figure, a writer who writes more books?

I was delighted to find 2 of her new series, one being a trilogy called Betwixt and the other series Sunshine Vicram and immediately devoured them both. Happy to say her writing is amazing even though she broke my heart when she ended the Grave Series.


Over the weekend I did quite a bit of hiking. And besides the hazards of tiny little insects that burrow into your skin and fill up on your delicious tasty blood, there are also various plants to watch for. Some are healthy options that can work in your afternoon salad and others, well not so much. The main picture above is lemon basil from a hike off Topanga Canyon. Smells pretty darn good too! The smaller pictures are from a hike in Newhall.

Poison oak comes in various shapes and sizes to always keep you guessing. The standard phrase “Leaves of Three, let them be” is not always accurate as wild blackberry leaves also grow in threes. However, the blackberry leaves are closer to a saw blade with thorns on the stems and poison oak does not have thorns or saw blade style leaves. Yes, some kinds of poison oak have irregular, oval, reddish, shiny leaves.

Mugwort for some evolutionary reason, tends to grow close to patches of poison oak. If you have brushed against poison oak, pick a few leaves of mugwort, crush them in your hands with a little bit of water and rub them on the area. It binds to the urushiol preventing or lessoning the chances you break out in blisters etc.  I’ve also found that Fast Orange (hand cleaner) and Tecnu work about the same in removing the oils from your affected area. Tecnu is petroleum based so I am sticking with Fast Orange for now. What’s super cool about mugwort is the double duty it does as an insect repellent. Rub a few leaves on any unprotected skin beforehand and laugh in the face of danger. And  grab a few extra leaves to make a medicinal tea at home or to add to a salad. The native Indians had many uses for mugwort – and some tribes would even eat the first baby leaves of poison oak to build an immunity to it over time. To be clear, not me. EEK!

Miners lettuce, is crunchy, pleasant tasting, mild and earthy. The plant got its name because the Gold Rush miners ate it to stave off scurvy, which is caused by a Vitamin C deficiency.

Sticky monkey orange flowers are also somewhat edible. The leaves have a very, very strong unique flavor, mildly bitter while reminiscent of mint.

The flower has some nectar which is also slightly sweet! The base of the flower has a volatile oil which has a sticky quality to it.

Disclaimer: Do your own research regarding edibility of the plants in this post. While I have eaten miners lettuce, I have not tried any of the others and will probably never ingest poison oak. Ewe!

See ya soon…


UPLOAD is an amazing new series on Amazon Prime that has recently wormed it’s way into my favorite series of the decade!  The main premise is a love story and murder mystery that’s set in a future where you can Upload your consciousness into a virtual world – for a price. The humor is great, the satire is subtle and the jokes make me laugh so hard I have to screw my nose back on.

There are plenty of reviews on the web you can read. But the best thing you can do is muddle past the first 2 episodes which gives you the technology and basic terms you need to understand the plot. Once past them you forget the gadgets and tech – accepting everything as real and amazingly cool to boot.

I plan on watching the first season over again. It was that good. I know I missed some satire and jokes as well. Hoping to catch them this time…





Sometimes I like to sit down and watch a show that has an interesting story and characters. That show this year is Afterlife on netflix. What a kick asterisks show! What I meant to type was kickass but since my site is “G” rated, I tend to tone it down a bit.

In the picture above, I can hear Tony (played by Ricky Gervais) saying to his now deceased wife Lisa (played by Kerry Godliman)

“So, passing a kidney stone on the dance floor and shoving your heel into my toes, is not what I had in mind when you asked me to dance”

The show has so many tender moments – that to me, are teaching ones. We may never know exactly what Ricky was shooting for in this series being the writer and director, but it doesn’t really matter. Every one of us may perceive the situations and story different. I find the show charming, witty, heart moving and mostly teaching. Yes, I said teaching.

Where else can you find the word “cunt” said over and over without a new law being passed – that you can’t say that? I cringed the first time I heard them say that, but upon reflection, it’s just a word being used to further the storyline.

The show has opened my heart and soul to various life/death issues. I hope the show continues to expand on these lines in the near future.

“I have hope”, which is something I said in an earlier post.

What are your thoughts on the show?


The other day I was hiking in this apocalyptic world we are all enjoying (sarcasm) and while I am not advocating ignoring our wonderfully disconnected leaders in IcontrolyouFornia, I’m saying that if I were to go hiking, it’s possible that the scene might resemble a mini Stonehenge at some point during the imaginary hike.

Which is to say there are some very creative people that were also not ignoring our beloved politicians. (sarcasm) In fact, even though this photo might be faked, it could be located along the Limekiln Hiking trail near Corbin and Rinaldi in Porter Ranch. IF, and a big IF it was a real photo.

Even so, I find it comforting that others are also braving the outdoors amid sneers from onlookers with useless pieces of cloth attached to their chinny chin chins.

Now “The Walking Dead” which at one time was my all-time favorite for a brief spell, where zero masks were worn as everyone had been previously exposed in the world, was a depiction of a possible real world enactment of what could really happen! Come-on, Rick was saving almost everyone, in five minute increments during the show. You could count his failures and successes on your fingers and toes each episode. 

So, a mini Stonehenge is kinda cool. Encouraging. Even the graffiti below gives a refreshing feel to an otherwise Crazyfornia where you can lose your job, can’t pay bills, fink on your neighbor for not staying 6ft away, wait in long supermarket lines for one roll of paper towels and spend most of the day catching up on Netflix series and a few other shows.

I thought to myself, “I must share this” so, here I am sharing. Amazing how thoughts can become actions…(smile) 

perfectly imperfect

I watched this movie called “Faith, Hope & Love” the other night.  Definitely a B movie. But what a B movie it was! I loved it. The dancing was kinda amazing and the story sweet and loving. It’s about a widower who enters a dance contest at the urging of his youngest daughter. Of course, he falls in love with the beautiful teacher along the way. There’s some spiritual context and a few surprise older actors that add a hint of mischief as well.

The story never loses sight of what human contact is all about, especially with the dance sequences that enthrall and delight, well at least to me. I couldn’t help the misty teary eyes that occasionally came out during some of the more romantic scenes in the movie. 

One line in the movie held my attention. “Perfectly Imperfect”

Yep. What a great thought! And of course the movie ends on a up note. Which is how I like my stories. Yes, I’m a sap and like happy endings. It seems Hollywood has forgotten how to do that. And when a simple one comes along that most people wouldn’t give the time of day to watch, a movie that’s just engaging enough…to keep me from pressing the back button on my Roku, well, that makes me happy!

For those of you who want to check it out, I think it was on netflix.

Enjoy the cool crisp night air, I’ve got some texts to catch up on…

it’s time for a Monarch!

Yep. It’s that time again. March and April are when the first generation Monarch butterflies lay eggs on milkweed. About 4 days later they begin to hatch and the tiny caterpillars start munching on the milkweed. Two weeks after that, they find a nice place to attach themselves too, and begin the transformation into a chrysalis.

For the next 10 days an amazing metamorphosis is taking place within the chrysalis. On the outside, it doesn’t look like much. But soon the butterfly emerges to live a short life of anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. Feeding on flowers seemingly without a care in the world until it lays eggs and the next generation is born in May/June starting the cycle again. The third generation is July/August and the forth generation is September/October. However, the forth generation plays out a bit different as this is the only generation that lives almost 6 months until that new first generation is started again. So unlike every generation before which only lasts 2-6 weeks, the forth won the lottery.


So mother nature has once again insured that the beautiful Monarch’s cycle keeps it going for an entire year. Never becoming over populated as well.

I think I was a butterfly in a former life.

the perfect popcorn

Ever had that late night craving for a snack? One that crunches yet has an airy texture, just a tad of salt?

WOW! Me too! I have that sometimes. In fact a few weeks ago I went to make a small batch of my favorite seasoned popcorn. That’s when I discovered my popcorn maker was no longer working. Cry, sniff. Should I make it the old fashioned way, in a pot? Nah, I always burned it. So, the search for a new machine began in earnest.

I scoured the internet (nah, but it sounds good) checking various big box stores like Walmart, Target and even Ross! Amazon and ebay, along with local bargain outlets etc. I was beginning to think this was a somewhat overboard search. I mean, it’s just a popcorn machine. Could the reason for my intense search be somehow related to my childhood? Possibly. Although I personally believe my financial and living situation along with lack of funds inspired me to find inexpensive snack materials. Such as… YEP! Popcorn.

Fast forward to now… my machine was on the blink. Years past I tried an air popper. Nah. Popcorn always tasted like an incomplete treat. Jiffy POP. Now there’s a fun way to make it. However for me, the bottom always burned some. Before you say “Carl, you weren’t doing it right.” I already know I wasn’t doing it right. Heck, my middle name was “not doing it right” at the time. Still, there was something missing from jiffypop that I couldn’t quite classify.

Microwave popcorn. Nope. Too many issues and strange flavors for me. Heck, the price was right at the local dollar store. But then I started reading about various issues with the lining inside and diseases associated with it. Kinda made my head spin. So, microwave popcorn was crossed off the list.

Having a bonfire in the backyard, letting the flames die down and heating the popcorn over simmering coals. Great popcorn! But tedious and time consuming. Plus with which, summer was off limits due to fire concerns. And that was my favorite time to make the stuff!

Years back I had purchased an old fashioned popcorn maker like the ones in movie theaters. But smaller. And very cool! Made excellent popcorn with it every time. Once again the shear amount of time involved made it the subject of mostly weekends. The machine I had been using (before it went to the Great Pop in the sky) was simple. A built-in bowl, a motor that would reverse directions upon getting jammed and almost perfect pop. Decision made: 2020.

Presto stirring popper. The closest replacement to my previous maker. Does it work? Heck yes. Has it burned any popcorn. Not yet. Does the popcorn come out refreshing and light, yet tender and firm? You betcha!

In fact, all this talk has me craving a tad. Off to the kitchen. Enjoy your evening.






Had a little time on my hands this morning…

Proves the “idle hands – devils playground” theory. (smile)

…the second song

Just a Dream.

The second song from almost 30 years ago I wrote/played and Stephen Wolfe Smith sang. Adding lyrics and making the videos have been a blast! And Stephen poured his heart into every song we did together and it shows in his emotion, nuances and beliefs he held true to his heart.

Me, being the romantic song writer. Who would ever have pictured that? Not my dogs. Or my neighbors. Maybe my therapist. At least if I had one. At the time, I was too poor. Lived on Nestles Quik chocolate milk and BBQ potato chips I would get from 7/11.

Ah, the good days…(smile)

One song to go in our trilogy of recordings. The next one, well, is not romantic. I know, right? You were thinking that’s all I know how to write! Surprise! Until then…


Page 1 of 6

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén