Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Fish and the Eel

I was recently snorkeling along the Kohala coast in Hawaii. A small group of friends and I hiked through a nice golf course to get to this great snorkeling area. We got our masks and snorkels on and headed out to the reef ledge near by. Lots of big yellow Tangs the size of dinner plates were swimming about. Blue Parrot fish and multi-colored Wrasses swam right past us. For some reason all of these fish were larger here than I have ever seen anywhere else. It must be a perfect habitat. A few golf balls were strewn about the sandy bottom or lodged in coral stands. I was watching this one big fish (a Grouper) with a black body and purple fins swimming rapidly along this one coral ledge. He (or she) would swim fast, then stop as if it was looking for something it had lost. All of a sudden a big whitemouth spotted eel pokked its head out. The fish swam over quickly to the eel. I though for sure there was going to be a fight and one of them would eat the other. The eel swam out of his coral cave to meet the fish. Then the two of them swam together for a few yards and the eel popped back into another coral cave. The fish searched frantically from entrance to entrance to find the eel again. The eel would come out, swim for a short while and pop back into another cave. Eels remind me of boa constrictors, but have a blunt end. I watched this cat and mouse game for at least 15 minutes, facinated by this display. I concluded that they were playing hide and go seek for fun! They were friends. It was a very cute display of affection and connection between two very opposite species of the sea world. I think we can all appreciate this!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Striped Bass

Continued story from 'Hot Fudge Sundae's' . . .

After Nate and I left Ghiradelli Square we turned down Van Ness Avenue going south. I said. "Naty, do you want to go down the crookedest street in the world?!" And of course what do you think a seven year old boy would say, "Yeahh, that would be cool!". "Alright, lets go!", I said as I turned upward onto Lombard Street. We both admired all the beautiful homes as we ascended, finally getting to the top of the hill. The view was crystal clear and we could see Mt. Diablo. The grid pattern of the San Francisco landscape rolled out below us like a tapestry. Coit Tower, the Bay Bridge and little neighborhoods were all in perfect alignment. Lombard Street had the blooming hydrangas in full force- light blues, pinks and purple bubble-like gum flowers. Nate was awed by this experience, he even commented on the pretty houses lining the street. He wanted to park and get out to walk the street. I explained that no one is allowed to stop on the crookest street in the world. When we got to the bottom Nate wanted to do it again, but I said we need to go to Chinatown to get some fish and vegetables.
We went directly to Montgomery Street into the heart of the real Chinatown. Not many tourists in this area. As we were driving there we passed alot of appartments that had clothes strung on ropes between houses just like a scene from Italy. "Auntie Kristi, look, theres somebodys' underwear", my little Nephew observed. And they were the biggest men's briefs I'd ever seen. We ended up parking at the top of a hill, I had to remember how to turn the tires into the curb correctly. Nate and I made our way through the heavy street population into the produce market. Since there is little sense of personal space we were upclose with the ladies haggeling over vegetables. It was somewhat easy keeping an eye on blond haired Nate. I gave him the lechee nuts, basil and lemon grass to carry as we made our way to the fish market. The first fish market we went into had crates of l big live snapping turtles, frogs and aquariums loaded with fish. The fish monger was yelling at a customer, it was hot and congested, so we left and went to the next fish store two doors down. The second store was much more pleasant, clean, air conditioned and calm. The fish in the tanks looked clean. Nate was amazed at all the tanks bubbling about. He loved the catfish in particular. I pointed to two striped bass I thought looked good. The fish man got his net and scooped them out, put them on the floor for my approval where Nate was standing. Then with my nod he grabbed the wooden club and wacked the fish on the head. Hopefully it was quick and painless for for our little friends. Nate was speechless. I personally think it is good for people to know where thier food comes from and some of the processes involved. Our over-sanititized American culture misses this point. The fish monger put the fish on the wooden chopping block and cleaned them. Nate had never wittnesed such an event so closely. He was impressed with all the fish guts at the back of the board. I've never known him to be so quiet for so long. We talked about this all the way home to the Bay Area hills. We ended up grilling the bass the next day at our Thai meal feast. When we asked Nate if he liked the fish, he said,"No, not really". Oh well, the experience was worth it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Providing Comfort for Our Marines

This week the Jefferson Award has been awarded to Lavella Cassinelli who is the chair of the Community Quilts program. More than 10 years ago, Mrs. Cassinelli discovered her passion for quilting. She took classes in quilt making and assembled a group of fellow quilters to start quilting for those in need. In 1997 she became chair of the Community Quilts program. "Whenever it's time to take the finished quilts and deliver them to the people, it makes me feel so good", said Cassineli. She said the Community Quilts program produces and delivers more than 1,000 quilts a year.
The Wounded Warrior Battalion at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base is a project close to Cassinelli's heart. She is a native of Monterey County (Soledad). Through the program , the Marines recieve full and queen-size bed coverings. "It makes their rooms look more like home, and it's just comforting to them to know that people are thinking about them and sending them large quilts to put on their beds", said Cassinelli. "Its great for their moral".
We are definately thinking of our Marines, our Heros and everyone else who help keep our country safe. Happy Fourth of July!!!

This positive news was adapted from the San Francisco Chronicle article written by Shelah Moody on June 29, 2008. For more information about the Community Quilts program, visit www.santarosaquiltguild.org.