Are You Juicy?

I've been writing about women and age since I charged into my 50s. That was a while back - during the Clinton years, to be honest. But I was determined then, as now, to not let the culture, the media or a birth date inhibit those lush women I call Juicy Tomatoes.

And look at what we've done together. We've grown into the role models we were looking for. We've got the juice. And we have a voice.

I use mine to comment on Washington, global women, the media, un-retirement, hair color, the need to dance...
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Juicy Time Out

January 7th, 2014 © by Susan Swartz Leave a Comment »

Hello readers: I’m putting a hold on this blog for a while to explore and complete some other writing projects. Stay juicy.

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What Price This Thirsty Beauty?

November 21st, 2013 © by Susan Swartz 1 Comment »

My Indiana friend sent a photo of her dazzling ruby-colored backyard. For your fall fix, she wrote.  A California friend visiting Maine posted golden leaves on Facebook and happily reported it blustery enough for gloves and scarves.

Many who don’t live in Sonoma County and even locals believe we lack the autumnal graces. Certainly no fall to match the glory of Back East or the Midwest with their leaf peeping attractions, picturesque  landscapes, little kids in red sweaters scuffing piles of leaves.

But they are wrong. We are not seasonally deprived. Our wind blusters. We scuff  leaves.  We are glove wearing people. Our leaves are worthy.

 TREESCertainly there is nothing second rate about this golden season. Look at that flash of ash. Check out the canopies of liquidambar. Come take our picture. We have old barns and gap toothed fences and last minute apples. Have you met our maples?

 Unusually dry weather plus cold nights push the paintbrush. But are we paying for this beauty? We need more rain.

California is heading for the driest year on record. Photos of some of our reservoirs look like those parched watering holes in Africa where wildlife no longer gather to drink.

But do not miss our pinot colored grapevines, surrounded by redwoods, fit for framing. Our own backyard gingko trees spin off yellow discs into the faded garden with one white hollyhock and three tomatoes. Down the road I spotted a yellowed hill with a lone cow on the top against a rain-is-maybe-coming sky.

It didn’t rain that day, but we were graced this week. Our shiny fall was starting to get a little creepy, its beauty like a  woman in a lovely gown who twirls to show a smiling Day of the Dead skeleton face. Still, we’ll need to dance and howl at the cold night moon for a drought-changer.

A monster typhoon hit the Philippines and its devastated people plead for relief, painting a sign across a road, saying “Help. Water.”  The UN representative from the Philippines wept and called the climate crisis “madness.”

Closer to home, a meteorologist talked about the California drought and said we’re messing with the basic support systems of the planet. The starfish are losing their arms, melting into lifeless globs from a wasting disease. A strange anomaly, say marine scientists, trying to figure out what is wiping out these saltwater stars from Alaska to Santa Barbara. Is Fukushima radiation cooking our sea life?

Coastal people have front row seats on the ocean, wrote the New York Times, “where climate change will have a profound effect.” Keep a lookout.

Fodor’s Travel lists the five most amazing places to visit before climate change and pollution alters them forever. Antarctica is thawing. Mount Kilimanjaro is losing its storied snowcap. The Great Barrier Reef is eroding. The Taj Mahal is crumbling. The Dead Sea is sinking.

Might  global warming have anything to do with our  exceptional fall?  It’s hard to remember what is normal. Next worry, what happens to the snow pack in the Sierra if the winter is dry. Can I rationalize watering my kale and spinach if I let the mums and pansies go?

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Toy Guns in a Trigger-happy World

November 9th, 2013 © by Susan Swartz 3 Comments »

I hid the Star Wars coloring book from our four year old grandson because of the weapons. One could make the point that they aren’t really guns. They’re light sabers.  It’s not real people-killing violence. It’s fantasy violence. But I don’t want him spending time with scary looking critters pointing what sure look like guns to me.  

I do apologize to any of the other grandparents who might have spent their money on the coloring book which he brought over to our house in his backpack. But it’s disappeared. Same thing will happen to a toy gun. Any and all will be confiscated at the front door.

There is no such thing as a safe toy gun. We know that now. Pretend guns are designed to look like the real thing. So real that some veteran cops say they can’t tell the difference. You could be a kid walking down the street on a warm fall afternoon with your make believe gun and end up dead.

That’s what happened to Andy Lopez of Santa Rosa, Ca.  Shot seven times with real bullets because he had a BB gun designed to look like an assault rifle. It wasn’t a real assault rifle but it was a good enough facsimile to cause a kid to be killed.

andy lopez 2Thirteen year old Andy Lopez was fatally shot by a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy when the deputy told him to drop the gun. The boy turned toward the deputy, maybe to see who was shouting at him. Maybe to show that he didn’t have a real gun. But when he turned his body the toy gun turned too. The deputy said he thought his life was in danger. So he shot Andy.  

If  you are a grandparent or a parent you likely had a toy gun yourself when you were a kid. I had a plastic water pistol. My husband got a double gun and holster set for his fifth birthday. He took it to bed every night.

But that was then. The old “when I was a kid” nostalgia defense doesn’t work when you’re talking about guns and kids today. We do not live in the days of Ralphie, the 9-year-old who pined for a BB gun in that holiday  TV classic “A Christmas Story.”

I’m sure it’s much scarier being a cop these days. It’s certainly a worrisome time to be a parent. And a dangerous time to be a kid.

When our friends’ son was little his parents worried about guns being in the homes of his playmates. Today a parent might want to inquire if their kid’s friends’ parents let them play with pretend guns, toy guns. I wonder what our gun-adoring culture would say to a campaign to get kids to give up their toy guns, turn them in like they do leftover Halloween candy to the local dentist for something healthier. Trade you a soccer ball for that mock AK-47?

As for getting any new control on real guns, in Sanford, Florida, the town where  17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot dead by a neighbor on self-appointed patrol, weapons have now been banned from neighborhood watch volunteers. But only a month away from the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook school massacre, the most dramatic action is to demolish the school where 20 first graders were gunned down.

No,  on guns, the NRA continues to run this country, leaving many of us to ask why do gun rights count more than children’s lives? And now we can ask, why do toy makers create play weapons that look as big and bad as the real thing? And why, here in beautiful Wine Country, did a child have to die in a vacant lot now covered with candles and outrage?

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