Nobody Likes a Back Seat Driver

A friend just came over for a visit and we decided to go out for lunch, so we walked to my car and got inside. As I was looking behind me and backing out of my carport, she also craned her head to look behind us to make sure it was safe. I said to her, “I don’t know how I’ve been able to drive safely all this time without you.” We both laughed and she apologized, saying it was just habit.

So, I told her my parents’ story. It was the late 1940’s and my parents were newly married and driving over the Bay Bridge into San Francisco. My mom was back seat driving and I guess my dad had enough of that, so he pulled the car over to the right side on the bridge and put it in park with the engine running. He walked around to her side of the car, opened her door and said, “If you think you can do a better job, have at it.” My mom said, “No thank you,” and that was the end of that. They were happily married 49 years before she passed away.

I guess it runs in the family.

Written by Susan 4/25/18

A Yiddish Yarn

When I did my DNA testing, I found out I was .1% Ashkenazi Jew. It’s not much, but it was enough to get me thinking. I’ve used Yiddish words before, but I wondered exactly how many I knew and understood, so I started counting and I came up with 49 that I recognize. Then I wondered if I could write a blog using some Yiddish words, so I gave it a go.

Shalom! I started my day with a little nosh – a schmear on my bagel. Then, instead of cleaning my house and dusting my tchotchkes, I sat on my tuches and futzed while I tried to write. I ran into some glitches, which made me feel like a literary klutz. I didn’t want it to be a megillah and I didn’t want to kvetch, but I started to feel like a shlump. I began to wonder if I was a meshuggeneh and if this was mishegoss. Then I took a a couple of deep breaths and next thing I knew, I had shpilkes and I was shvitzing as the Yiddish words poured out of me. I don’t want to sound schmaltzy, but I’m proud of myself. Before I knew it, I was feeling verklempt. Oy vey, it wasn’t easy, but I did it. I’m just a shiksa, but I’ve got a lot of chutzpah. My bubbe would be proud of me and think I was a mensch. Mazel Tov!

Written by Susan 4/13/18

The Blue Morpho Butterfly

This photo is my proudest accomplishment as a photographer, and I have it framed in a bright green frame with a blue mat hanging on my living room wall. I took it back in 2008 during a visit to the Academy of Sciences’ Rainforest Exhibit. If you’ve been there, you know it’s an enclosed 90-ft. dome with a spiral staircase up to the top. I took this photo from the top looking down on the first floor, hand-held with a zoom.

The Blue Morpho butterfly is an interesting creature from the Amazon rainforest, from Mexico to Colombia. It’s not really blue. Its color is caused by light reflecting off microscopic scales on the back of their wings which makes it look iridescent and blue. The underside is camouflaged in brown, black and grey to keep predators away, so when it flies the contrasting bright blue and dull brown colors flash, making it look like it’s appearing and disappearing and that makes it hard for predators to follow. They can also release a strong odor when a predator is near.

It’s one of the largest butterflies in the world with a wingspan of 5-8 inches. They can’t chew, so they use their proboscis as a straw to suck up sweet fluids. The Blue Morpho butterfly only lives four months and they spend most of their lives feeding and reproducing. Traditionally, the native people were superstitious and alternately thought they were either wish granters or evil spirits. Like many Amazon specifies, they’re threatened by deforestation and habitat fragmentation, and also those who collect them for for artistic purposes, like making jewelry out of their wings. I say they’re better left in places like the Academy of Sciences so we can view them through our lenses.

Written by Susan 4/4/18

The Wild Horses of Nevada

I took this picture when I was living in Dayton, Nevada. I had been stalking wild horses for a while and had my camera with me, but they seemed to elude me. That is, until one night when I was driving home after work and I saw them off in the distance, thankfully away from the highway. Too often these wild horses are hit by cars, so I was happy to see they were safe.

I parked my car, got out my camera and started walking toward them, approaching slowly so as not to scare them. They noticed me and watched for a few seconds, but then went back to their business. I thought I’d try some humor to get their attention, so I said “Why the long face?” Baddaboom! That’s when I got this shot.

Written by Susan 4/3/18