Celebrating statewide writing award

Celebrating statewide writing award

Awards always feed the ego. They also make the long hours of hard, sometimes tedious, work worthwhile. When the award comes from your peers it’s even more special.

Such is the case with having just been awarded first place for Enterprise News Story in the California Journalism Awards which is sponsored by the California News Publishers Association. This particular category was judged by journalists outside of the state.

A few things made it even more special. One, I didn’t know any of my stories had been entered in the contest. Two, it’s a story I wrote as a freelancer, so for the publication to include it with staff submissions made me feel really good. Three, doing a little research about this year’s awards made me realize CNPA has evolved—and that’s a good thing. The N used to stand for newspaper; while now it is news, which is more inclusive. CNPA also used to not allow digital publications in its membership nor did it have an awards category for online news sites. It was also an impediment to allowing online only news organizations to publish legal ads, which is a cash cow for print publications. I don’t know where its policy on legals is today, but once upon a time it mattered a great deal in my life.

Back to the award.

The story was published in the North Bay Business Journal in September. (The awards are for stories written in calendar year 2021.) The article talks about the growing demand for vegetarian and vegan food in grocery stores and how the dairy industry in particular is not thrilled.

CNPA’s criteria for an enterprise news story is it must be: a proactive story or series that is not directly based on a news event and that covers a topic or issue in a new and creative way. Coverage should be comprehensive and enlightening, while demonstrating effort and difficulty; quality of writing; selection of material, balanced reporting; local appeal; photography, graphics and headlines. Awards are handed out based on whether the publication is a weekly or daily and then its circulation size.

This is what the judges said about my story: “Beautiful, explanatory journalism that reveals to readers facts they may have not known. This should make people look at grocery store food aisles in a whole new way.”

There is no money associated with the award. No one ever writes for monetary gain.

Even after all these years, I’m still idealistic about the purpose of quality news sites such at the North Bay Business Journal. I’m proud to be associated with such a publication and humbled to have my work submitted for an award.

Marchers protest threat of abortion becoming a crime

Marchers protest threat of abortion becoming a crime

Hundreds of people took to the streets of Chico on May 14 to show their support for women’s reproductive rights.

Marchers gather at Chico City Plaza on May 14. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Women and men of all ages walked with homemade signs stating their position. Some signs were wrapped around coat hangers, a visual reminder of tools used by women when abortions were illegal.

People show their beliefs with signs. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

This was one of more than 450 marches that were planned throughout the U.S. in the wake of the leaked U.S. Supreme Court brief that indicated the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision would be overturned, thus making abortion illegal.

On May 11, the Senate failed to advance legislation ensuring abortion rights in every state.

Hundreds of people in Chico march for women’s reproductive rights on May 14. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

At the Chico march various slogans where chanted, including:

  • Bans off our bodies/pro choice.
  • Our bodies, our choice.
  • What do we want?/Reproductive freedom. When do we want it?/Now.
  • Two, four, six, eight abortion rights in every state.
  • Women’s rights are human rights.
  • Not the church, not the state, women must decide our fate.
  • Free abortion on demand. Can we do it? Yes, we can.
  • Hey, hey, ho, ho your backward views have got to go.
  • Screw the state and the legislators, women are not incubators.
Mother’s Day may no longer be something to celebrate

Mother’s Day may no longer be something to celebrate

It’s Mother’s Day. The way things are going in this country fewer women will want to celebrate this day.

What if you never wanted your child? What if that child’s father is your rapist? What if your child’s father is your own father? Or your uncle or your brother? Maybe he is a stranger or even the man you love. No matter who he is, it does not mean you wanted to be pregnant and to carry it to term.

All health care issues should involve only the patient and medical provider, not lawmakers. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

No woman should have to give birth to a child they don’t want. Nor should she have to explain her decision to anyone. It’s her body. Her choice.

This Mother’s Day comes with a cloud over it in the wake of the news the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to rule on a case that would subsequently overturn Roe v. Wade, which would then let states regulate abortion.

So many states have already enacted restrictive legislation. Even more have trigger laws if the federal legislation is revoked; meaning abortion becomes illegal in those states.

I’m fortunate I’m past my childbearing years, and that I live in a state that is progressive and wants to do even more to ensure a woman’s right to an abortion. Even so, not every place in California makes it easy to get an abortion. In 2017, I wrote about how there are no abortion providers in the Tahoe-Truckee region.

The early release of the draft Supreme Court ruling proves many things, with an overriding one being the importance of voting. Too many people sat out the 2016 presidential election or opted to not vote for “that woman” or thought the “orange man” was the lesser of two evils. Plenty of talk at the time said how that next president was likely to have the opportunity to appoint several Supreme Court justices. Trump did—three. Those should have been Hillary Clinton’s appointments if popular vote (aka true democracy) mattered in this country.

What this shows me is that voting is so dang important in every election. It’s possible Congress could codify a woman’s right to an abortion at the federal level. If this issue and other topics that could come before the courts matter to you for whatever reason, then vote in the primary election and again in the November general election. Vote every year.

Abortion may not affect you directly, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fight for what’s right—which is for women to have control over their bodies.

If we can’t have that, then it’s time boys/men start having mandatory vasectomies. After all, it takes a penis to get pregnant.

Masks continue to be a regular part of my life

Masks continue to be a regular part of my life

Each day that goes by I become part of a larger minority.

I’m one of the few who still wears a mask indoors.

I’ve never understood why people had such a problem with masks. I don’t even understand how people can say they don’t do anything positive. If this were true, why do so many professions require them.

Dentists, dental assistants, surgeons, others in the medical profession, welders, people working with chemicals and steam, those operating power tools, HVAC workers, ice chippers, painters, sanders, laboratory workers—they all wear a face mask or shield. It has nothing to do with a pandemic. It’s a safety precaution for them. It’s safety from debris hitting them, from exposure to dangerous microbes they can’t see (much like a deadly airborne virus that causes a pandemic), and helps protect patients they are breathing on.

See, masks are a tool in their trade.

Kae Reed wears a mask in 2020 made by her sister who is now an avid anti-masker.

With masks keeping these people and so many other workers safe, why wouldn’t people in everyday life want to take a similar precaution?

All of my massage clients are vaccinated and boosted. I’m boosted and will get the second booster.

I can’t afford to get COVID. Sure, I could swing not working a couple weeks, but being self-employed means I don’t get paid sick leave. I can’t use up vacation time because I don’t have that either. I also don’t have disability insurance through work; though I could pay for it on my own. I don’t know if long COVID would be covered. Yes, it’s my choice to be self-employed. I love it, but it also comes with the reality of knowing I don’t have a safety net umbrella that I had working in the corporate world as an employee.

I also want to stay healthy to be here for my 87-year-old mom who I live with.

I have family members who won’t wear a mask at June’s reunion no matter what; and there will be people younger than 5 and older than 80, along with people who have health conditions. Several family members also won’t take a PCR test ahead of time or a rapid test upon arrival. I’m not going to the reunion for a variety of reasons, but in part because people chose to put money (potential loss of deposits/airfare if they tested positive) ahead of everyone else’s health. These are not the type of people I want to socialize with.

After tennis camp I took a rapid test to make sure I was COVID-free before going home. To me, this was the responsible thing to do. Call it living in fear if you want; I’m OK with that.

I don’t think wearing a mask or wanting to take precautions makes me not living my life to the fullest. Most of what I like to do is outside—tennis, hike, walk, bike. There is a concert this summer that mildly interests me but I’m not ready to be in such a venue without COVID protocols. That, though, is the only thing I’ve said no to this year.

I expect I’ll wear a mask on airline flights long after this pandemic is in the rear view mirror. After all, how many times have you heard someone hacking on a plane or come down with a cold after flying? A mask can help keep those germs from entering my body.

Mostly I wear a mask in stores and at the post office—the two types of indoor places I frequent most often. Dining out is a rarity for me (always has been), but I do size up how far apart the tables are or opt for an outdoor spot. I felt uncomfortable at the indoor post-ride dining venue at the Wildflower event last month without my mask. I got my food and beer as fast as I could before sitting at a table outside. Why large tents weren’t set up is beyond me.

Our house policy remains: no one comes in who isn’t vaccinated, and if they aren’t, they must be masked. Neither my mom nor I have had COVID. I want to keep it that way. Next to be decided is how long we have this rule, and if we keep it, will boosters be required, and then one or two?

Immersive art show lacks detail of traditional exhibit

Immersive art show lacks detail of traditional exhibit

An immersive exhibit of Frida Kahlo is in San Francisco and other cities. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Being immersed in art is a wonderful thing—until it’s not.

I learned I like my art old school. On a wall where I can take my time to appreciate the artist’s work, to contemplate the detail, the grasp the nuances, to even walk away when it hasn’t grabbed me.

Earlier this month I experienced “Immersive Frida Kahlo: Her Life, Her Love, Her Art” in San Francisco. (“Immersive Van Gogh” plays on other days at the same venue.) I didn’t entirely know what to expect, but had heard/read good things about both exhibits.

But this isn’t really an exhibit. It’s a movie of sorts. For more than 40 minutes there is a continuous loop of digitalized art projected on all of the walls of this large room. Most people were sitting socially distanced apart in circles, with a few benches available, while others were on cushions they rented.

The “movie” tells the story of Kahlo’s life, if that’s possible in such a short amount of time without any narrative. It helped to know a little about this artist from Mexico who lived from 1907 to 1954 in Mexico, the United States and France. Twice she was married to Diego Rivera.

I believe this immersive presentation would be a good introduction to art, especially for those who find museums too stodgy and impersonal. For the generations that need constant stimulation these immersive art shows are probably ideal. The visual is not static, it’s always moving and changing. Images of Kahlo’s art sit for a moment, but not long enough to truly appreciate it—or even get bored by it.

Music plays, so you aren’t sitting in silence. One couple in their twenties spent more time dancing than they did looking at what was being shown. This was not a dancing event. They missed the point. Or maybe I did.

I’m glad I went. I just wouldn’t need to go to another immersive art exhibit.

Finding somewhat affordable gas at Indian casinos

Finding somewhat affordable gas at Indian casinos

Indian casinos often have the cheapest gasoline. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

I’ve become a semi-regular at Indian casinos of late. But I never go in. I always stay outside.

That’s because this is where the gas pumps are.

RV’ing friends enlightened me that Indian casinos are the go-to place to get the cheapest gas. Even cheaper than Costco, which is usually my go-to.

Tribal gas stations are able to offer fuel for less because they usually don’t have to pay federal and state taxes.

At the Wintun Mini Mart, part of the Colusa Casino Resort, prices on April 14 were:

  • Regular—$4.89/gallon
  • Plus—$5.29
  • Supreme—$5.69
  • Diesel—$5.49.

I have not seen low grade gas for less than $5 a gallon for a while now except at these tribal locations.

It takes some searching for these stations. They aren’t always obvious, which seems ridiculous. This one in Colusa doesn’t have much signage from the street. I happened to pull in one day to see if they had pumps, and sure enough they do on the north side.

I’ve also filled up in Middletown in Lake County.

The nearest to me is in Oroville, where mom and I filled her tank one day. But it’s not like I would drive there to do so. After all, driving all over for the cheapest gallon of gas can be self-defeating. But when convenient, I fill up or top off my tank at tribal stations.

California has some of the highest gas prices in the country, which in part has to do with the taxes.

CalMatters reports, “California taxes gas before it gets sold and uses the money to fund highway improvements and transit projects. Right now that tax—paid by suppliers—is about 51 cents per gallon, which makes it the second highest in the nation, after Pennsylvania’s tax.”

The state Legislative Analyst’s Office, a nonpartisan policy and fiscal advisor to the state Legislature, broke down the gas taxes the following way. If a gallon of gasoline costs $4.64, taxes make up about 20 percent of that price, with more than half being the state excise tax (51.1 cents). The federal excise tax is 18.4 cents per gallon.

The state tax is recalibrated every July based on inflation, not so for the federal tax. Expect a 3 cent hike in California taxes this summer.

Also in that gallon of gas are state and local sales taxes, which together average about 3.7 percent.

“Sales taxes are set as a percent of the price of gasoline. Unlike excise taxes, drivers are charged these taxes directly at the pump, although gasoline stations include the tax in the prices they advertise. The current average state and local sales tax rate on gasoline is 3.7 percent, though the rate can vary from as low as 2.25 percent to as high as 5.75 percent depending on the locality,” according to the LAO.

While it could be detrimental to our roads to always fill up at Indian gas stations, it will likely be better for your wallet. Here is a link to tribal gas stations in California.

Story of Manzanar told through photographic exhibit

Story of Manzanar told through photographic exhibit

Somber. That was the mood of the assembled viewers. How could it have been otherwise?

What we were looking at were 50 photographs taken by Ansel Adams at Manzanar, the World War II concentration camp where people of Japanese descent, most who were U.S. citizens, were sent.

Traveling exhibit of Ansel Adam’s work shot at Manzanar is powerful. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

The exhibit at the Museum of Sonoma County in Santa Rosa opened Feb. 19. This date marked the 80th anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt signing the executive order that mandated these innocent people’s captivity.

From 1942 to 1945 the U.S. opened 10 internment camps to house nearly 120,000 Japanese-Americans. Many lost their homes, vehicles and other belongings during their forced exile. They had committed no crime. They just didn’t look like the white establishment.

It’s another horrific chapter of racism in the United States, that in many ways continues today for Asians.

“Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams” is an opportunity to see the people who were kept behind barbed wire. The intensity on some of their faces is gut-wrenching. The ordinariness of the action taking place in many of the photos is startling; showing that these people were resilient as they tried to make the best of a horrific situation.

Adams published the book Born Free and Equal in 1944 after he had visited the concentration camp along Highway 395 in the Owens Valley of California. It was controversial at the time because the war was still raging.

This is what the Library of Congress has on its website when talking about this book: “In a letter to his friend Nancy Newhall, the wife of Beaumont Newhall, curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, Adams wrote: ‘Through the pictures the reader will be introduced to perhaps twenty individuals … loyal American citizens who are anxious to get back into the stream of life and contribute to our victory.’”

Today, Manzanar is a National Historic Site which should be visited by everyone. If the exhibit comes to a city near you, go.



  • Exhibit runs through May 29.
  • Museum is open Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-5pm.
  • Cost: $10.
  • Address: 425 Seventh St., Santa Rosa.

Cops disrupt sleep during Bay Area tennis camp

Cops disrupt sleep during Bay Area tennis camp

Pieces of vehicles being confiscated by Oakland police officers on April 14. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

It’s been a while since I’ve had an early morning encounter with the cops.

The first time was when I was in my 20s living in South Lake Tahoe. That’s a story probably not for publication. (I did nothing illegal, was just stupid—but still kept my job.)

The recent early morning intrusion was last week in Oakland where I was staying in a house with five friends from Lake Tahoe. Luckily, I was actually awake, so the police officer yelling on the bullhorn was not as alarming at it was to others in our house. It paid off to choose a room not on the louder street side.

Some in the house woke up to, “Residents of XXX El Paseo Drive this is the police. Come out with our hands up.”

This was not our address, but not everyone in the house knew what our address was. All I heard was the “this is the police” part. I ignored the commotion at first because I was sure no one in our house was wanted by the police.

(I’m not using the exact address because this isn’t a news story, I don’t know the details, I could not find any news story about the incident online, and it’s just not worth it to stir the pot.)

Once up, I went to a front window to see what was going on. The red and blue lights were swirling down the street. A few people wanted to stay away from the windows in case bullets started flying. Part of me wanted to go outside to see what was going on. Hard to kill that journalistic drive to run toward danger.

We all eventually went back to bed. It was still dark out after all and we didn’t have to be anywhere for several hours.

Once dressed and daylight was upon us I wandered down the street. The neighbors said they didn’t know what was going on or who lived there. Of course, they may not have wanted to tell this stranger anything either. A pickup was on a flatbed tow truck with the doors and tailgate detached. Someone said it might be drug related.

I went back to the house without much to report other than we would not be getting out our usual way because the tow truck was taking up the width of the street. Unmarked cop cars were on either side of it.

Then as we were about to leave more of the tennis crew wandered down. A plain clothed cop (detective probably) came over when he saw me taking pictures with my iPhone. I turned away. After all, nothing illegal about taking pictures while on public property—which the street is. I just didn’t need want that confrontation.

A tennis friend explained why we were being curious—how we were in town for tennis and staying four doors down.

Cop wouldn’t answer if anyone had been arrested, or if drugs were involved, or if this was a chop shop. I think it was the latter because of the second flatbed overflowing with dismantled vehicle parts, and more being hauled off the property.

The curious part was the woman in this same yard talking to people on the street, all nonchalant like, laughing and making jokes. I’d like to know her story. I’d really like to know the whole story.

Maybe it was just another day in Oakland and it wasn’t newsworthy. Maybe the paper doesn’t cover “routine” cop stories. But who knows if this was routine. So many questions that will be never answered. But it does make for some interesting memories of tennis camp.

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