Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I was scrolling through the pictures of our Cleo's Bath hike and found this one.  Travis was ahead of me on the hike and we were talking about how happy we were that we didn't see any lightning.  All of a sudden, Travis jumps at least 2 feet in the air and steps back to prevent me from walking forward onto this pretty little snake.  I have no idea what it is, and I'm not particularly scared of snakes...but Travis has an aversion to them.  I guess he's walked onto a few rattlesnakes while hunting and actually heard them rattle at him.  When I asked him what he did when that happened, he said he disposed of the snake before the snake could dispose of him.  I've never seen a rattlesnake in nature, but I have seen my share of other snakes and I don't normally get scared.  I get scared when I see tarantulas wandering down the center of the road (like we see almost every year at Don Pedr0).  Anyway, back to the picture, I guess the snake was sitting in the center of the path, sunning itself, when Travis startled it.  The snake quickly slithered into the underbrush and I tried to follow it to document that it had actually happened.  As you can see, the snake doesn't even blend into the surroundings.  I thought they were suppose to be camouflaged by their markings. Whatever the case, he was beautiful.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

San Fran

Travis and I just returned home from a night in the city, trying once again to escape from the heat.  We had no plans and it was fantastic.  I loved roaming around the Union Square area without a deadline.  We just picked a direction and walked.  Wednesday afternoon we walked through Chinatown and found Mochi...a rice paste dessert we have been looking for since we moved back from Hawaii.  Yummy!  Thursday we found a farmer's market in a small outdoor mall.  There was a woman about my age standing by her tables of fresh fruit handing out free samples.  Being a child of the valley (doesn't that sound like a murderous thriller?!), I have always wondered where they grow the fruit and veggies at the "local" farmers market so I asked.  She answered (I SWEAR this happened, Travis can attest to it), "Turlock."  We started laughing and told her we were from Turlock and she thought we were joking...turns out she was selling produce from the fruit stand we frequent!  We walked down the rest of the market and found that three other Turlock fruit stands were there...how funny.  Hilary- if you're looking for a white nectarine from home, check out the farmers market on Sutter street on Thursday mornings :)  Sooooo sweet and juicy!  The second picture is of ONE of the three major fruit stands in Turlock....isn't it beautiful?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Cleo's Bath

After returning from Santa Cruz, we decided to head up the hill to my parents' place in Mi Wuk.  We had a great picnic at Twain Hart's Concert in the Park event (happens every Saturday Memorial Day to Labor Day) and then decided to hike to Cleo's Bath on Sunday.  Cleo's Bath is above Pinecrest Lake and a nice three hour hike, round trip.  The weather was slightly overcast, so we had the trail and the pools to ourselves for the most part.  It's a beautiful hike, with a tad bit of rock scaling right before the pools (just enough to make me feel a lot older than my age!)  It was a great way to spend Sunday morning, and I'm so happy that we're getting back into our old active lifestyle.  Here are a few pictures from the top.   It was beautiful and I highly recommend the hike to anyone who doesn't mind sweating :)  
I took the first picture with my back to Pinecrest Lake, facing the falls.  I took the second picture as I was walking around the pools to the falls- Travis is standing just in front of the falls.   I fell in love with the crooked tree that still grew straight, so I turned around and took another picture of it :)  The falls are small, more like fountains, but they are still beautiful.  The next picture is a close up of some of them.  The last picture is from the falls looking back towards Pinecrest lake.  I was surprised at how far away we had hiked from it. 

SC again

We ran away from home this week...okay, we weren't running from our home so much as we were running away from the heat inside our home.  Wednesday we both started a three-week stretch of vacation time so we packed the dogs and took off to Santa Cruz.  Travis was able to go free-diving with one of his closest friends and I was able to go for a few runs along West Cliff Drive.  As you can see, the dogs were fine with us dragging them along to the cool coastal air.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Something happened on Saturday that I haven't been able to get out of my  head, so I thought I'd throw it out to Blogland and see if anyone else has had similar experiences...
Travis and I had just finished grocery shopping at a large chain store here in Turlock and we were loading the groceries into my car when an older lady stepped out from behind the cart return thing and said, "Can you help me?"  She was clean, hair brushed, wearing clean clothes, and I think she was a little mentally challenged or delayed.  Despite all this, my first thought was that she was going to ask for money because there have been pan handlers out front this particular store many times in the past.  With a slight hesitation, I said, "What do you need?"  She responded, very politely, "Do you have some food I can have?"  I turned to my car, packed full of our carefully budgeted groceries and started digging for something that we could spare.  I ended up giving her one yogurt container and a healthy meal-replacement/snack bar.  She was so grateful she said thank you multiple times and then sat down and scarfed up the food.  As we drove away I felt so guilty that we didn't give her more, but I was unsettled at how the whole thing took place. I'm not sure why, and I still can't put it into words, but I felt guilty and sad more than I felt happy that I could help someone else.  Why is that?
I have a personal policy against giving money out, but I have given food to people on quite a few occasions.  Travis and I discussed how much more willing we both are to give something substantial to someone in need than to give money.  I'd rather give this lady a fiber-rich bar and  calcium-rich yogurt than give her the equivalent in money that she might take to buy crappy fast food that will leave her hungrier than she was to begin with.
I still feel guilty that I didn't give her more food.  We don't have a lot of money, and we budget very carefully, and even when I was giving her what we could I was calculating what that removes from our existence.  That negated any good will that I had felt about my actions.  Does anyone have any thoughts on the matter or similar stories?
Travis and I went to school in Santa Cruz where there are always people asking for free handouts.  Santa Cruz is really supportive of their homeless population and there are MANY different organizations the dispense aide and vocational support.  I was completely desensitized to people asking for help when I routinely saw them taking the money they received into Starbucks for a mocha or into the bar for a draft beer instead of into the grocery store for food.  I've been known to give much of my own lunch away to people who ask specifically for food.  I've given clothes from my car- not from my to-donate-to-Goodwill-because-I don't-wear-it-anymore pile,  but from the it might be cold so I'll through in another layer pile in my car.  I've given people rides to the bus station, and other things like that, but I just can't hand over money.  I want to help people help themselves, not help them perpetuate their current state of being, and I guess the only way I feel I can do that is if I am aware of exactly what my actions are doing for the other individual.
Travis spent most of his youth in Santa Cruz, so he's even more hardened than I am, but he said his actions were changed one night when he was 18 or 19.  He was running into the grocery store for something silly and there was a young man outside the store asking people if they could buy him diapers or give him money to buy diapers.  Travis went inside and bought the diapers for him because he didn't think any child should have to suffer for the actions of the parent; who knows what the story was for the parent, but Travis could help a child, even if it was just for a couple of days.
I have no idea what this lady's story was, all I know is she ate that food so quickly she probably hadn't eaten for a while.  We didn't do a lot for her, but we did a little something and she's still in my thoughts.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

New Beginnings

I started my new job today.  I am now an Autism Specialist for Stanislaus County Office of Education.  I still prefer to go by the title behavior analyst or behaviorist, but my official title is AS for SCOE.  The coworkers I met today all seem to be approachable and supportive.  I've been given lots of material to research and study to prepare myself for the start of the school year in August.  Surprisingly, I miss research!  I never thought I'd say that after completing my thesis, but I really do miss learning new things.  I'm so excited to start this position- and apparently, the kids are excited that I've started the position too.  In the first classroom I visited I had a darling little guy of about four come up to me and ask, "What's your name?" To which I replied,
"My name is Margo, what's yours?"  He responded with, "XXXX.  I love you."  He proceeded to hug my leg and then was lead away to complete his next task.  How do you beat that for a first day one the job?  It was just what I needed to feel welcome.