The quiet before the fireworks

We’re girding for the Fourth of July. On Independence Day, the town gets hemmed in by so many tourists that it’s hard to see the forest for the people.Fireworkds

This weekend gives us our last chance to be small for a while. I took the camera out today to give you a glimpse at my everyday California. The scene of many movies and TV shows, it never plays itself, so you may have seen it without realizing it. Its credits include “The Parent Trap” with Lindsay Lohan, in which a camp played a camp, and “Next” with Nicholas Cage and Julianne Moore, in which a restaurant played a motel.

Today, sad to say, two teens selling lemonade for 50 cents were disassembling their stand as I passed, taking apart their photo opp. Something has become of the thermometer that for several months has tallied donations to the Fourth of July fireworks fund – the more money donated, the longer the fireworks show over the lake. Last year, the fireworks committee collected enough More

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How we scare mountain newbies

Big cone

Giant pine cones under construction. Look before you park! (Holly Ocasio Rizzo)

It’s not that mountain people want to frighten sweet, innocent newcomers, exactly. We simply want them to be prepared.

We want them to be ready especially for two minor dangers: those that want to eat us and those that can squash us flat.

We take in stride the creatures that want to eat us, hustling online to post mountain lion sightings and photos of bears on the patio. Full-time residents rarely call the sheriff to report lions and bears, because we know what often comes next when an animal with teeth and claws shows up in the flatlands, where deputies are trained. Cue Chopin’s Funeral March.

We also sleep right through skunks and raccoons rustling around noisily at night. Beware of letting your cat roam outdoors; when a cat doesn’t come home, the natural conclusion is that it fed a bobcat or a coyote. As far as your head goes, don’t worry – the bald eagles won’t attack like eagles do in other places.

Some things, however, might squash you flat. We love to tell stories about people squashed flat by rocks falling on their cars. In the stories, the victims are always flatlanders, never locals, as if falling boulders had radar More

Out, damned spots!

The California Assembly last week passed a bill by a 45-10 vote that bans microbeads from personal-care products. The proposal has gone to the state Senate for consideration. Skull and crossbonesWhat’s behind it? Microbeads, the tiny plastic abrasives found in body washes and facial scrubs, are passing through water-treatment plants and into waterways worldwide. Some scientists say the beads do more than scrub skin – they also pick up chemicals along their journey. They don’t break down, and they’re winding up in fish in our rivers, lakes and oceans and, ultimately, on our tables.

California isn’t alone in the quest to ban microbeads. In February, a similar bill was introduced in the New York Assembly. Procter&Gamble, More

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