Thanksgiving a time to be grateful

Thanksgiving a time to be grateful

I’ve never made a turkey. This could matter only because mom and I are hosting Thanksgiving.

Even a day later I’ll still be able to say I have never made a turkey.

Nothing is written in stone that Thanksgiving dinner must include a dead bird. OK, that was a little dramatic, but I am a vegetarian after all. And the last time I remember hosting Thanksgiving was years ago in Tahoe. I’m pretty sure mom made the turkey that year. It certainly wasn’t me.

There will be meat served this year, just not turkey. After all, everyone else who will be at the table is of the meat-eating persuasion, including the other hostess. She’ll be taking care of that part of the meal.

Others in the family are contributing in different ways. In other words, it’s a communal meal of sorts with mom and I the conductors.

Shared experiences (ideally good ones) are the foundation of memories. Building memories is in large part what life is about. Even the not so great memories are pieces that enhance the larger picture. In fact, sometimes it is the dark moments of life that can make the good ones seem even better.

Enjoy this Thanksgiving.

As Willie Nelson said, “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”

‘Guilty Christmas’–A Comical Play About S. Lake Tahoe

‘Guilty Christmas’–A Comical Play About S. Lake Tahoe

The cast of “Guilty Christmas” entertains at the Valhalla Boathouse Theater through Nov. 20. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Be ready to laugh, shake your head and have an evening of fun at “Guilty Pleasures,” the self-deprecating musical comedy about most things Tahoe related.

If this play sounds familiar, then you probably saw the original “Guilty Pleasures” when it first came to the stage at the Boathouse Theater at Valhalla in 2002. That play had multiple iterations through the years.

Then director Dave Hamilton and music director Mark Williams got the idea for a Christmas version of this irreverent show. Covid and snowstorms prevented it from being staged the last two years.

It opened Nov. 15 to a nearly sold-out audience. Get your tickets now as the show runs through Nov. 20.

One of my favorite scenes in the two-act play was “The 12 Days of Quarantine” that was sung to “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” It would be hard to find someone who could not relate to most of the lyrics. This definitely received the loudest applause.

While that was one of the numbers that was not Tahoe specific, most were.

All those bearded beanie wearing guys of a certain age have been immortalized in “The Guy from South Lake Tahoe”—a parody about what it’s like for a single woman looking for a man in Tahoe.

While the original “Guilty Pleasures” had a driving scene about driving 50 on 50 (as in Highway 50), the holiday show starts off with “Winter Driving” and the hazards of being on the road with tourists.

Another memorable segment was “I Have Seen the Light” which saw Scrooge, who is a greedy developer, reliving Tahoe past to see what he created that is now Tahoe present and what Tahoe future might be.

Vacation rentals were not spared, nor was the South Lake Tahoe City Council or TRPA.

One would not have to be a local (or former local as the case may be) to understand all the references, but it sure helps. An out-of-towner isn’t going to appreciate the reference to the Jamie Orr-ification of South Lake Tahoe.

If you want a night of frivolity that will have you laughing, applauding and making you appreciate South Lake Tahoe despite all of its imperfections, then go see “Guilty Christmas.”

Get rid of polling, focus on issues and educate yourself

Get rid of polling, focus on issues and educate yourself

The media’s fixation with polls needs to end.

I understand a candidate taking a poll or having focus groups to gauge what people are thinking. That will help them to solidify their platform and message. This would be akin to companies doing market research.

The polls that bother me are the ones asking people who they are going to vote for, what you think of a candidate, potential candidate, or current elected. Who do these polls help? What is the purpose? Why should an individual care?


I don’t care that more than 60 percent of those polled (that doesn’t mean more than 60 percent of the population) give a thumbs down to President Biden. He’s certainly not my favorite president. Depending on how the polling question were phrased I would be part of that 60 percent.

However, that does not mean I would rather have his 2020 opponent in the White House. Never would that be the case.

Plus, polls are only as good as the answers received. In other words, were the respondents being truthful? With the outcome of the recent election, one might surmise the pollsters were lied to.

Let’s get rid of polls and talk issues. Let’s talk solutions. That’s what matters.

One of the problems is we have an ill-informed electorate that struggles to or is unable or unwilling to talk issues.

But dammit that’s not good enough. You can’t whine about gas prices, food prices and whatever else without knowing why prices are escalating and who can actually do something about it.

Have you looked at corporate profits? Do you know who wants corporations to pay their fair share of taxes and who has given them more tax breaks?

If people were asked what they thought about the Inflation Reduction Act that was signed into law this year, would they have an opinion? There is so much to this bill that it is understandable to be overwhelmed by it and not comprehend it.

According to the Senate, these are some of the things the Inflation Reduction Act will do:

  • Enacts historic deficit reduction to fight inflation.
  • Lowers energy costs, increases cleaner production, and reduces carbon emissions by roughly 40 percent by 2030.
  • Allows Medicare to negotiate drug prices and caps out-of-pocket costs to $2,000.
  • Lowers ACA health care premiums for millions of Americans.
  • Make biggest corporations and ultra-wealthy pay their fair share.
  • There are no new taxes on families making $400,000 or less and no new taxes on small businesses. We are closing tax loopholes and enforcing the tax code.

The CHIPS and Science Act is another huge bill that passed Congress and was signed by the president this year. This will bring more jobs to the United States and will mean less dependency on China.

Also passed this year were the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act and the Emmett Till Antilynching Act. Biden also signed the Safer Communities Act. This is the first major piece of gun legislation to become law since 1994.

I mention all of these laws because I know most people know nothing about them.

People who are not in Biden’s party (I’m not in it either) have told me he isn’t doing anything. Look at the above legislation and other laws that he has signed. You may not like these laws, but you can’t legitimately say he is not doing anything. And, of course, he is not doing this alone. The House and Senate first had to approve them.

It’s time the media spend more time on issues and less time on polls. Then maybe we would have a better informed electorate. Of course this is assuming people actually want to become informed. After all, there is a lot of legitimate information out there if people were paying attention and cared.

Walking with the purpose of finding gratitude

Walking with the purpose of finding gratitude

More than 50 people on Nov. 5 participate in the inaugural Gratitude Walk in Chico. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Every organized walk has a purpose beyond walking. It’s usually to raise money for some worthy cause. But when, if ever, have you walked with the purpose being gratitude?

Saturday was the first time for me. It’s not that I haven’t been grateful for being able to walk, to be with the people or dogs I was with—or even alone, or even in the environment I found myself in. What made this different is that it was called Gratitude Walk.

Chico resident Crystal Lively made the years’ long idea become a reality on Nov. 5. She told the Enterprise-Record, “The goal is to bring gratitude to the hearts and minds of each of us individually and together collectively.”

This city could use some healing, which in turn means everyone in it could use a dose of gratitude. I have never seen such vile political propaganda mailers. It was bad, really bad. This hateful crap involved local City Council and school board elections.

Besides this being election week, Nov. 8 marked the four-year anniversary of the Camp Fire which decimated the town of Paradise and in turn seems to have forever changed Chico with the migration of people and influx of problems the city wasn’t ready to handle.

Kae, Priscilla and Cleo at the “love” station along the walk.

So, it’s easy to see why someone would find it in their heart to want to focus on gratitude, if only for a morning.

The Chico Area Interfaith Council is one of the three financial beneficiaries of the event. A tag on bottles of water at the event said the following:

“The Interfaith Council Believes:

  • You do not have to be wrong for me to be right.
  • Our diversity makes us unique and beautiful.
  • To love God is good enough, and the path to that love should not cause disunity.
  • There can be unity in diversity.
  • Shine in your unique way and love all of humankind.”

While I’m not religious, it is hard not to agree with the sentiments being conveyed.

(Other groups receiving part of the proceeds include Friends of Bidwell Park and North Valley Community Foundation,)

Along the route in Lower Bidwell Park were different “stations” including: peace, joy, love, connection, harmony, compassion, community and grateful.

It was the “connection” stop that had us pause on a bridge crossing the creek. Facing one direction we were to open our arms and silently get rid of at least some of the negativity in our life. Walking to the other side we were again told to outstretch our arms and “embrace” the good we want to hold onto.

It’s amazing how I actually felt lighter as I consciously said to myself the negatives I wanted to let go of. I want to remember that feeling so I don’t let that negative aspect of my life consume such a large chunk of my consciousness, thus impacting my well (or not) well being.

Yes, I really do believe in positive affirmations.

I have a ton of gratitude for Priscilla and mom inviting me on this walk.

Gripping documentary about 1982 Alpine avalanche

Gripping documentary about 1982 Alpine avalanche

Because people will never be able to control Mother Nature there will always be deadly avalanches.

One of the most memorable ones in California was on March 31, 1982, at Alpine Meadows ski resort. Seven people died that day when the snow came tumbling down the mountain. It could have been worse. The Tahoe area resort was closed because of potential danger so not many people were there.

The story of that fateful day, and the ensuing rescue and recovery are the subject of a movie that came out this fall. It opened in Bay Area theaters in September, but just this week became available on Amazon and Apple TV.

Buried: The 1982 Alpine Meadows Avalanche is a documentary worth watching even if you think you know all you want to know about that deadly day. This feels like such a complete, truthful telling of what happened 40 years ago.

Filmmakers Jared Drake and Steven Siig both live in Lake Tahoe. I’m sure this helped make the film so authentic.

Plus, Siig is personally familiar with avalanches because of living in the Alpine Meadows’ avalanche zone. This 2017 story by his wife, Melissa, relives one of their encounters.

The movie is as much about avalanches as it is the ski patrollers who were tasked with keeping the resort safe to ride. Interviews with several of the people who were there that day is what makes the film so intriguing.

While I knew the outcome, the movie kept my attention all 96 minutes of it.

Chico parks and rec crews screw up public tennis courts

Chico parks and rec crews screw up public tennis courts

City of Chico employees make tennis and pickleball impossible. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

First there were eight, then six, and now there are four. In this case, less is not more.

That is the plight of public tennis courts in Chico.

It’s sad.

And really, the number of courts available at 20th Street is three because the first court is for the pro, so it is not available all the time.

While tennis loses a third of its courts, the number of pickleball courts is doubling. Four pickleball courts can go on one tennis court.

The reason tennis players lost the first two courts was pickleball. Same reason this go-round.

What is really sad is that no one will be playing on these deconstructed courts for several months. That’s because the wonderful people who make decisions regarding Chico parks thought it a brilliant idea to start the project at the end of October. They are not playable for either sport today.

A sign says, “Project Begins: October 27 … Project Complete: Due to inclement weather, project delayed until spring 2023.”

What the hell?

What kind of incompetence is this? Who doesn’t look at the weather forecast before starting an outdoor project? Why start something if you can’t finish it in a timely manner?

There is a QR code on the sign as though one could get more information about the project. The link goes to the city’s recreation site with information about other projects, but nothing is there about the tennis courts.

Just another sad, disappointing day in the life of a tennis player.


Creating an altar for dogs on Day of the Dead

Creating an altar for dogs on Day of the Dead

Photos of the three most significant dogs in my life are in my bedroom, so why build an altar for them?

Why not? Was my short answer.

An altar for dogs who are no longer in this world. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) has been a ritual for thousands of years. It’s an Aztec tradition rooted in what is today Mexico. The celebrations, though, have been growing in popularity every year.

In large part this has to do the 2015 James Bond movie “Spectre” and “Coco” the 2017 movie. The latter truly makes it easy to understand what Day of the Dead is all about. Mexico City’s first Day of the Dead parade was the year after the Bond film debuted. Now it’s a tourist attraction.

I decided with the death this year of my dog, AJ, that I would build her, Bailey and Nefi an altar, also known as an ofrendra. Nefi was the Dachshund I grew up with, while Bailey was the first dog I had as an adult.

I thought it appropriate to make the altar in my bedroom where AJ used to sleep. Her bed was donated to the humane society, but I still have her blanket and other items like her bowl and leash. I also have the pine boxes containing her ashes as well as a larger one containing Bailey’s. (She was a black Lab; almost twice the weight of AJ.)

Photos of all three dogs were on the altar. Dog treats and poop bags were also part of the display.

A candle was lighted for each of the four leggeds.

The belief is that on Day of the Dead there is no separation between the spirit world and real world, with those who have died returning to feast, dance and celebrate.

I sat at the foot of altar thinking about all three of these dogs and the important roles they played in my life. It was good for me to pause, to be reflective. It made me realize I need to do this more than once a year.

Halloween a sweet injection of cash into the economy

Halloween a sweet injection of cash into the economy


Apparently, even skeletons like to relax. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Halloween is big business.

This is expected to be a record year for spending in the U.S., according to the National Retail Federation. NRF says 2022 should beat the 2021 record of $10.14 billion in sales, with nearly $10.7 billion in sales predicted.

Most of the money is expected to be spent on costumes—$3.6 billion, while decorations come in at $3.4 billion, candy at $3.1 billion, and greeting cards at $600 million.

Billions of dollars of candy is sold in the United States at Halloween. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

It seems like every year no matter where I live the decorations for Halloween just keep getting more elaborate. It’s been fun walking and driving around the neighborhoods seeing all the creativity. For the people who are into this holiday, they seem to go all in.

No longer is a pumpkin or jack o’lantern on the stoop enough to say you have decorated.

My mantra most years when it comes to buying candy to give out is to buy what I don’t like. Then there won’t be an issue with eating it all either before, during or after the big night.

This year is different. Mom is going to be here and wants candy she likes. Peanut M&M’s are in the house. Dang—I like those.

This witch looks ready to take off. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Part of me hopes we have a handful of trick or treaters like last year so we have a treat for ourselves in November (doubtful they’d last longer than that), and part me hopes we have more people ringing the door so there are not extras. Time will tell.

One year when I lived in Lake Tahoe we were running out out of candy and more had to be bought in the middle of kids trick or treating. The neighborhood was full of full-time residents, so people would drive their kids there knowing they were sure to have full sacks by the end of the night.

While I’m still in a full-time residential neighborhood, it’s not full of kids. It was more “big” kids who came last year and not the cute little kids that make this holiday more fun.

No matter who comes, hopefully the M&M supply remains intact.

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