Monday, December 21, 2009

Big Rock Candy Mountain

Look at my beautiful Mother-in-Law, her Mother "Mom" turned 96 1/2 years old and both are beautiful puritan pioneers who stuck with family and their country. Both highly educated they forged the way for all of us coming after them. True revolutionaries with warm hearts and a sense of family which is admirable.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Valley of Death

Life tastes so much sweeter after the spirit of darkness has summoned you. Three thirty on the morning of November 5th, after driving eight and a half hours, the unfastened road finally took a-hold of us.

The gazing of the moon and how the Panamint Valley to the East with it's Slate Range glistening under a star-spangled sky became secondary.  For a split second the sandy road catapulted us into a spinout with about twelve seconds of major fish tailing - even feeling at times merely two wheels were on the road. 

I prayed. 

I did not scream. 

I did not say a word. 

My eight-year-old had awoken from a deep slumber in the backseat, and was now staring through the two front seats with lightning-bolts in her eyes. 

"Das Schwert im Herzen, mit tausend Schmerzen blickst auf Deines Kindes Tod." Faust

"Mephisto says to Death that for him to protect her, the Beyonder must die." 

Spirit of Darkness you have summoned me . Here I am the partos of darkness are open and the shadows of the dead hunt over the earth.

Thirty minutes later we fell asleep for two and a half hours at the Wildrose Campground. 

Breakfast at the Stovepipe Wells Village and afterward we had to empty our bag-packs and had  surrender to our leaders everything they thought frivolous or unnecessary. They got rid of tents, clothes, shoes, food... In fact we had a sleeping-bag, a tarp and water mixed with some food weighing about 10 pounds left over; a delight for my back.

 I trusted we would be okay. 

These people are hard-core, they are survivors, and modern age explorers. 

At the Stovepipe Wells Village we received from the ranger station our wilderness-passes. We left in four four-wheel drive cars and found ourselves on roads so sandy and rocky that we spent a lot of time building the path ahead. Someone was joking that if you spent more time  building the road than sitting in the car you might as well walk.

We drove about three hours to get to the trailhead and after we had secured all cars in different locations (a complicated Pythagorean calculation - I did not want to  attempt to figure it out) we forged ahead on foot. 

The landscape brought us through open wash, riparian forest, high desert and deep slot canyons. We saw amazing geology,(see the photo of our Geologist checking with her cheek and tongue the stone), petroglyphs, and pioneer inscriptions-and some of us even spotted wild horses and bighorn-sheep. 

Springs were supposed to supply us with water, unfortunately only the first gave sufficiently of this life sustaining elixir. We used filters and iodine. It tasted awful. Secretly, we were hoping the second spring would be more tasty.

Unfortunately the second spring turned out to be even less worthy since a mountain-lion had just feasted on an antelope. The water looked sluggish and our surgeon on board claimed it undrinkable. 

After another very cold night and a fabulous home-freeze-dried breakfast of rice, corn and hash we headed through the most amazing mountains, complete with distant alluvial fans where DylanGrace was able to point out the easiest lowest slope we would climb. 

Our retired surgeon, still so fit I would let him operate on me if I needed the help, mole skins his feet for preventive measure. Please see picture to right.

We finally arrived at the Petroglyphs and were not disappointed. The canyons forced me to my knees with tears in my eyes. Twenty miles we hiked in three days and when we arrived back at the trailhead, we had to wait another hour and a half and then drove another 3 hours through the sand again. 

All along my tummy was so tight with fear (in fact that is how I keep trim and in shape, shear fear)!

 Stovepipe Wells Village seemed like an oasis yet we still had to drive back to the Bay Area which took until 3 AM that morning. Believe it or not, DylanGrace and I were on time at 7:50 AM to pick up carpool kids for school and arrived on time for class at 8:35 AM.

Desert Survivors check them out, if you are like me, running from death.

he angle of repose (sometimes incorrectly confused with the 'angle of internal friction') is an engineering property of granular materials. It is the maximum angle of a stable slope determined by frictioncohesion and the shapes of the particles.
When bulk granular materials are poured onto a horizontal surface, a conical pile will form. The internal angle between the surface of the pile and the horizontal surface is known as the angle of repose and is related to the densitysurface area and shapes of the particles, and the coefficient of friction of the material. Material with a low angle of repose forms flatter piles than material with a high angle of repose. In other words, the angle of repose is the angle a pile forms with the ground.An alluvial fan is a fan-shaped deposit formed where a fast flowing stream flattens, slows, and spreads typically at the exit of a canyon onto a flatter plain. A convergence of neighboring alluvial fans into a single apron of deposits against a slope is called a bajada, or compound alluvial fan.[1]

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hypsiglena torquata


I have identified the snake we saw on October 3 on the morning hike.  It
was a night snake (Hypsiglena torquata).  The picture in the book
clearly shows the black stripe in the face, extending all the way from
past the eye to the mouth.  The markings on the back also conform.  
The painting in the book was done of a snake Contra Costa County, 
which includes Briones.

It is a nocturnal snake, not often seen during the day.  It is venomous in
the grooved teeth in the back of the upper jaw, and uses its venom to
kill frogs and lizards.  Its striking behavior is probably its normal
hunting practice, but we certainly riled it up!

I think we were lucky to see it.

Steve Tabor, President
Desert Survivors
PO Box 20991
Oakland, CA 94620-0991

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Review of the Desert Survivors Route-Finding Seminar

By default my daughter eight years old and I strolled the Solano Stroll and stumbled upon Mr. Steve Tabor's booth and his Desert Survivors. A short glance at the schedule for the Autumn of 2009 convinced me that we needed to join immediately. Any organization who will go in after Burning Man's big bash to the Black Rock Desert to work on preservation and up-grading was an organization I could put my name down for full-heartedly.

We had a great time Saturday. We hiked 5 miles with the Desert Survivors through Briones State Park. I had never been there. The park itself takes getting used too and we did find a few very scenic look-outs and some unexpected wildlife such as of now unidentified snake which had attack maneuvers like a rattler and made moves as being mesmerized by a snake-charmer. It was an amazing trip and learning experience. The steepest we hiked was at 30% and I realized that I will have to resole my 20 year old hiking-boots which I almost use daily once we get ready for a real trek with them.

I met amazing people i.e. a man from Sweden his name was David Jorgens, a retired mathematician who travels the world to teach mathematics. He was recently in Tanzania and between seminars hiked up Mt. Kilimanjaro. His group were Italian gymnasts who all wanted to run up the mountain.

Well, guess what happened? Who was the only one who made it? Of course Mr. Jorgens. He is in his seventies. The Gymnasts ran up the mountain and after the fourth day were laying by the side of the path with acute mountain sickness. Their leaders made them go back and Mr. Jorgens was the only one who got to reach the summit. What a great example of the tortoise and the hare.

The morning was dedicated to the compass and that triangulation is key for that maneuvering tool. We used U.S. Geological Survey, Topographic maps. Scales and miles - versus kilometers and squares. Learned that we need to think about declamation=which means that the magnetic North declines about 15 1/2 feet north on every map.So the magnetic north is not the same as the true north. The map colors: Green is vegetation, blue is water and white are valleys. Lines signal the level; the closer they are together the steeper the hill. Elevation lines go up as an app-ex and a drainage ditches are angling from high to low.

Meanwhile western bluebirds, possibly young residents, not migrators, were surrounding us and playing with one another. Most lovely.

The afternoon we learned about global positioning and that there are 12 satellites in orbit. They were put there in the sixties and were used for air-bombings in Vietnam. They are geo-synchronous and move the same as the earth. They communicate with each other and us down here. It is an electronic signal instead of a compass-line. At that point DylanGrace asked "How do people know that the earth moves?" One of the participants simple said: " That is a different seminar!"

Hope to see you November 20 in the North Mesquite Wilderness.

Martina Konietzny

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Desolation Wilderness

I had this incredible chance to get away with a few great women from our kid's school. Unbeknownst to me with this trip I fulfilled one of my many dreams: To hike the "Desolation Wilderness".

Now I just have to bicycle-ride through Cuba and climb Machu Piccuh.

Yom Kippur-My Day Of Atonement

Once a year I swim through Lake Anza, passed the lines and signs saying "No Swimming, No wading". Over to the big rock and once all around. I leave all regrets, wrong turns, things said and unsaid, harm done - in the middle of the lake.
Sundown the water was rippled and when I got out it took me hours to warm up. I ate dinner with a fleece blanket wrapped around me and two sleeping-bags.
Spirit clean new year can begin. My favorite holiday in the Jewish tradition.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Teddy in the Wilderness

My daughter and I were getting ready for our adventure trip to the Indian Grinding Rock State Park and of course Teddy needed a fishing and hiking outfit. A local garage sale had small baby clothes available and the smoking father of toddler twins tried to help her pick out the right clothing and asked DylanGrace :"Is your teddy a "he" or is she a "she", while holding up a tiny "Bob the Builder" T-shirt?" DylanGrace answered enlightened: "He is really both. He is a SHAPESHIFTER!"

The grown-ups burst into laughter.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Rumford Versus Clabber Girl

Here is something I did not know and I find important. 

For years I have not used deodorant because of the aluminum content.

 Now I have found out while reading my beloved Dr. Northrup that we also need to watch out for it in the baking powder.

All my lovely baking friends with your incredible "Pflaumenkuchen"
please make sure to use Rumford and not Clabber Girl.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The King of Pop

I too mourn the death of Michael Jackson. My secret I will reveal to you and the world. When I feel like dancing I put my headphones on and "Don't stop 'til you get enough". If he would have stopped with his plastic surgery in 1982 right after "Thriller" or possibly after "Bad" 1986 he would still be alive today. I had one personal interaction with him in 1982. 
I heard that he was coming to town. So I walked out of my S.F. apartment on Post Street and headed down to Geary, the Clift Hotel. My F4 Nikon in my hands, 35 mm lens, Ilford HP4 black & white film pushed to 1600 ASA. As I crossed the street a huge black limo landed in front and Michael Jackson got out. I was the only person standing on the sidewalk. Star-struck I lifted my camera to take his picture and that instant he threw his fur sable coat over his whole body and ran into the foyer of the hotel and elevator. I took an image of him with a coat over his head.
 Here is a picture of him which I took in the De Young Museum a while back. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Children and Food

All you mothers and fathers out there have had the occasional run-ins with certain foods their children just won't eat or even try. Our daughter already at age four and a half had figured out that if she did not like a certain food such as i.e. "spinach", she simply, in her Northern California way would say:" No, thank you, I am allergic to spinach and kale." 
Yesterday, this little whippersnapper turned eight and a half and food is often still a discussion. She came home a few days ago and told us that she had learned in school that people who have no sense of smell have a decreased sense of taste.
Equipped with this new knowledge and just finishing second grade she eats her food now. Yes-with a wooden clothespin stuck to her nose.

Clothes Pins:
 Invented by David M. Smith of Springfield,Vermont in 1853. I encourage all of you to get clothes lines and pins. You can reduce the washing powder by half and use no bleach. I promise having your clothes hang out in the sun is a natural bleacher and refresher let alone the electricity bills will be a delight to savour. Believe me the fish out in the reefs will thank you.  

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Claymation by DylanGrace and Coralie Border

Last week we received a phone call by our lovely friend Laurey and were asked if we could watch her daughter Coral on Friday while her and her husband Geefwee attend a fabulous party at Pixar. Well, I rather would have liked to go along to the party yet then remembered I had an evening planned with Andrea to go see "Revenge" at the Landmark Theatre in Berkeley. So my beloved husband spent the evening with two 8 and 9 year olds and they decided to make a movie out of clay figures. When we all got home we were floored what they had achieved. Please see for yourself. 

Hallelujah, the new Berkeley Bowl opened this week

Everyone out there knows that I sing praises when it comes to the Berkeley Bowl but hardly anybody has it in them to actually go there and shop. My very own husband usually would loose it in the vegetable and fruit isles and come home with neither fish nor milk since it would have mend to walk more of those overcrowded aisles. 

Well, our property value probably took a seismic jump this last Thursday when the 

doors to the new 'Berkeley Bowl West' opened on Ashby and Heinz across the street from the Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley. 

We all went to check it out on our bicycles with backpacks on our backs. The store is a hybrid between a Whole Foods and a  Cosco and I am in absolute heaven to have it that close.

 Now between my garden's bountiful harvest and the new Bowl I have it made in the shade and every day when it comes to shopping and cooking is a day at the beach.

Three Museums in three Days

Go check out the new Rooftop Gardens at the MOMA. Flush a Mondrian Vanilla, Red Velvet Cake Chocolate Ganache down with a cup of  Blue Bottle coffee. 

 Andy Warhol, currently at De Young Museum, liked the mother of Liza Minelli? I did not know who she was? 

Squeak Carnwath at the Oakland Museum go and find out why she paints a rabbit into most of her paintings and which mediums she uses for her collage style work.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Mothers

Dear Sarah, 

I could have walked for days longer.
Thanks for organizing the day and being the trailblazer you are. 
Highlight was the the eastern warbler, the snake and the coffee break at Pt. Reyes Station. 

Mother's Day Contest

I came home after a long day of hiking to a rose-petaled path which led me to a table of flowers, photographs, notes and homemade gifts - and dinner.

Mothers please tell me your favorite Mother's Day remembrance and a complimentary portrait might be heading your way.  Write an e-mail to receive contest entry forms.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bezerkeley Berkeley

Nothing to do on Sunday head to Stow Lake

There is nothing more leisurely and more relaxing than a pedal-boot ride around Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park. All the little ducklings, turtles and geese are born and swimming up a storm. 
The calming green of the water, the falling waters in the cascades, being with friends. Our daughter; having a ball, pedaling, steering and driving backwards.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Colorado Public Radio CPR 90.1

My ex-brother-in-law, Joseph Pope, was interviewed on NPR today in regards to punk music from in and around Boulder, Colorado.

 His new compilation CD, of early Punk Rock  'Rocky Mountain Low', features crazy bands like 'Guys', an all female band from Denver; as well as 'Profalactics', 'Instants' and the 'Healers' { Me and some friends screwed around in my

parents' living room when no one was home and called ourselves the

Healers.Eric Reed also known as Jello Biafra }

Jon Risk, the 'chest', on the cover wearing a T-Shirt by the "Allman Brothers Band", called tonight and via our telephones, him and I listened to the interview by his brother together. Mega-fun. Later that night Jon told me the most amazing story. 

During touring with 'Angst' formerly 'The Instants',  Mr.Risk had run into B.B. King. He had a chat with him. B.B. King was sad about the fact that his music kept him away from his family and children. He did not enjoy that very much.
One day in the mid 80's I was photographing a B.B. King concert at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. He, Jon Risk, received  a personal phone-call from B.B. King in our apartment on Post Street. (This is prior cell-phone days). When Jon answered the phone, B.B. King asked him if he could give Martina a message. The message from King was, that he is sorry he could not meet Martina for dinner since he run into his friend Van Morrison and he had to spend the evening with him.

We both were floored, Jon, because B.B. King made "touring the road" look so bleak while asking his own wife out for dinner, and I was floored because I had no recollection of this incident. 

  I know myself:  I probably did not take the dinner invitation by the great B.B. King seriously anyways.  History made.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Danger in Durable Plastics

Most of us who camp and exercise own these hard plastic-bottles we store our water in. Well, can you believe it, they have been recalled. I owned three of them for years and the Nalgene company actually gives you your money back. All you need to do is get them down to the return counter of REI and they will refund it to your REI account or put it straight onto your credit card. Well, I walked out of there with over 
$ 27.00. 
Unfortunately I do not know the health damage I walked away with. 

Currently Cleaned Your Coils?

I know, I know, not the greatest fun. However, if you want to be part of saving the planet you got to clean your coils in your refrigerator. 

Here is my proof and I tell you,
 it knocked a mere $ 15 of my bill monthly. So get down, get dirt and dust away.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Back On Line

Hi everybody, we are back on line. However I have to shoot a wedding tomorrow so I'll talk to you next week. Have a safe Memorial Day. Love Martina 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sunol Wilderness-Wilderness for the Wild

Every year our daughter's school goes camping and hiking in the Sunol Wilderness. 

It is the most organized and stress-free camping one can ever imagine. An event that shall never be missed.

 The campground features a creek and fabulous campsites. No electricity and no water  The evenings are filled with song and dance
around the campfire as well skits and shows.

In the early morning you will awake to the scented air of fresh brewed coffee.
 Frothy lattes, filtered coffee and french press coffee, just to name a few. 

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Eliana & Stacy's Birthday May 9th, 2009

What a party this was. Annually a great music smash for adult and children alike. 

The big bouncy dragon was a hoot. See how all the different sets of legs disappeared in the fiery dragon's throat.

We had a ball. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bodhisattva- Our Holiness the Dalai Lama/ Part Two

Well, I never got to find out if I could hear the Holiness from my position in front of the will-call area. 
While being surrounded with hundreds of people who did not have a ticket, I resigned for a moment and I was not thinking. I had made friends with the security people and the ticket manager - then it happened. 

Suddenly a ticket appeared in front of my face and a voice behind it asked: "Anyone who is here by themselves?" I simply answered:"  "Me", and I was handed a $ 50.00 ticket for the 6th row on the 13th seats, with the words: "Enjoy".

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bodhisattva- Our Holiness the Dalai Lama/ Part One

Riding my bike up Dwight last Saturday; a bit late for my taste, 1:50 PM. 

I had wanted to volunteer in my daughter's German Saturday school to do my good deed for the day. That school is the perfect place for practicing random acts of kindness; which neither will be seen nor appreciated yet while there more will be put upon you. 
When you are done with them they are done with you. They simply go to the next person. 
That school with all guarantee, you will not be seen and no thanks will be given. An ideal place to let your inner Dharma roam and have him or her plant continuous inner glow inside your eyes and plant a permanent smile onto your lips. 

Now I was finally where I wanted to be all day close to all the" lamas" who were lining up to see the Dalai Lama. I  build up courage to ask everybody in line if they had an extra ticket. Some let me know that it took them a whole day to stand in line to buy a ticket months ago.

 The event was sold out. Completely! The convoy of the Holiness  raced by - in 90 miles an hour.

Dalai Lama-his holiness spoke at the Greek Theatre:

"The young ones are the source of hope. Implement realistic approach to gain fuller knowledge of reality. Appearance in our mind is the same perception causes confusion. Mr. Bush is a good human being that I love. He is not a good leader and not a good politician. I have some reservations. He has a lack of fuller knowledge, of reality. America is the champion of Democracy. Reality is not one event. It is many factors. In order to know the reality we need to look more holistically."

Walking up to will-call trying to get a ticket which was not picked up yet. Time 2:30 pm. The security was strict. You could not bring in cameras, water-bottles and back-packs. People were hiding their cameras and stainless steal water bottles in the bushes. I left my leather bag-pack on my bicycle with everything in it. My camera however I hid in my sunhat. It had to come with me. I was standing behind the barricades wishing for the talk to start. I would soon find out if I could hear him from my position.

Daughter DylanGrace the Gracious

A child needs to taste the outdoors early to love it for a life time.

Spring- Elixir of Renewal

Almost saw Green Way instead of Leonard Cohen

Dear Followers, 
I know everyone is dying to find out how on earth I could be purchasing a ticket for Green Way; if needing a ticket for Leonard Cohen? Well, on April 14, I took my car to downtown Oakland.  I parked what seemed out of range for the Paramount Theatre; and in fact from where I was; I had lost all my bearings. So I wondered toward crowds of people cuing around a luxury theatre.
  I had my sign "Need free ticket" in my hand (people chuckled as they read it). After a few minutes a young man told me that his girlfriend had not shown. He would be glad to sell hers to me for $ 20. We waited in line chatting and laughing. 
At one point I said somewhat out loud; how funny it was that the theatre was already announcing next weeks shows and that there was no mentioning of the Paramount and Leonard Cohen. 
"No", he said, "we are not going to see Leonard Cohen. We are going to see Green Way. This was the Fox Theatre not the Paramount and Green Way was playing at the Fox.  The Paramount with Leonard Cohen is a couple of blocks up". I was dumbfounded.

  Later I found out Green Way never plays in such intimate theaters as the Fox. I could have gone to see Leonard Cohen the next day. 
What struck me the most is how a city, dilapidated with the highest crime in the U.S., could have two huge sold out shows in two brilliantly refurbished theaters looking like twins simultaneously as far as the eye could see with all caucasian  people! 
Sometimes life is just unbelievable.