Monday, August 29, 2011

Minding My Own Business

Ok. I got to work this morning figuring (well, I do try to plan once in awhile) that if I got there early, I would be done early.

I know better.

Judges run their courtrooms the way that they want to run their courtrooms. It has a logic that is peculiar to each judge. Thus the saying that it is good for business to know the judge. It has nothing to do with getting a favor granted. It has to do with getting your case called at all!

Anyway, I am sitting in the courtroom waiting. Minding my own business when I hear the voice from on high.

"Mrs. (he always says Missus-never Mzzzz or Miss. Although the latter would really be stretching it.) Mueller, can you look at this discovery and see if you can take this case."

Not a question. Not a statement. An order.

"Be glad to, your honor." (I did NOT smirk. I swear it.)

I don't look at the person that might become my client. I don't do anything but read the charge and the attached police reports. 

I take the inch and a half stack of paper and begin reading. Carefully, thoughtfully. I am looking for a reference to the defendant that I might be representing.

By now, I know it is a murder case. (YESSSSSSSS!)(See former blogs for my predilections in this area)

After about an inch or so, I begin flipping pages. Yada, yada, yada. It takes me a half an hour to get to my potential client.

What I learned then almost broke my heart. My potential client is severely mentally challenged. (in the words of the police report.) For the first time, I look at my client. He cannot understand what is happening to him.

I didn't read the rest. I stood up. I addressed the court. 

"Your Honor, I will represent this man."

It is my privilege. It is my business. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My Mentor Is Gone

Awhile back I wrote about my mentor. The Honorable Judge Arthur E. Wallace of the Kern County Superior Court.

He was the judge who most helped me cut my chops in felony trial work.

And he mentored me through some very tough times in my life.

He became a life long friend.

I can truly say that now. He died last night after a 4 year battle with pancreatic cancer.

To say that I will miss him is an understatement.

He never met Dan but I am sure that they will have some great intellectual arguments where they are now.

I wish I could listen in.

Schools Out

My offspring finishes her last class in law school today. At exactly 4:30pm.

Five years ago, (I think) I offered her a job. Actually, I made a deal with her. I would move to the Central Coast, open a business here, hire her at a wage matching her current one, and pay her law school tuition. If, and only if, that is what she wanted to do.

I was still going to move to the coast and open a business but I would have to hire a legal assistant if she didn't want to go on to school.

She thought about it and decided that she would go to law school on line. There are no ABA accredited schools in our area. The closest State accredited on was a 2 hour drive away and there were two on line schools that were getting decent reviews.

She made the decision based on all the facts. She knew what kind of law she wanted to practice. She knew that she would not be leaving the State of California to practice and she knew that she would be part of my business or running her own.

So four years ago she began.

Her first lesson was that her parental units (both lawyers) were no help. We had forgotten everything (or nearly everything) that first years are taught.

But she studied and she did well. Then she did better. Then she did best.

She began to join in the discussions at work with the me and with the civil attorneys.

Then the attorneys started going to her to get ideas and discuss issues.

I watched her go through the process of learning to think like a lawyer. It was amazing.

And now she is done with school. There is just one more hurdle. The Bar Exam.

And I know that she will approach that with the same methodical tenacity that produced the woman who is treated like a lawyer already.

I am proud but not surprised.

Well, I am surprised. I am surprised that I am in any way related to such a sparkling young, strong woman.

Schools Out.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back in Lindsay

Somebody started up a "You know you came from Lindsay when..."  page on Facebook and I have been fascinated by it.

I was born and raised in that town. Everything that I am is based on what occurred in that little bitty town of 5,000 people. Everyone knew you and your family for the last three generations and everyone knew your business and the business of everyone else. If you got in trouble at the park, your parents knew about it before you got home. And there were no cell phones!

I have friends that I have known from birth. I don't remember not knowing my friend Vicki. Her mother and my mother were nurses together at the Lindsay Hospital. Vicki and I use to get up early, go to work with our mothers at 7AM, wait in the hospital waiting room and then walk to school together.

That hospital, small as it was, was central to my life. My mother worked there. Both my brothers worked there as orderlies at one time or another. I had my first surgery there. (an appendectomy when I was 8.) I played cribbage with my great-grandmother there the night before she died (at the age of 103). And I gave birth to my daughter in that hospital, in the same room that my mother gave birth to me.

The hospital was in the park. Where the pool was where I learned to swim and continued to swim through high school. Where the golf course was where I was actually allowed to play but mostly where father played. Where there were jungle gyms and swinging rings to play on and the dogs ran free.

But today, on the Facebook page I learned that it is gone. They tore it down. Lindsay does not have a hospital anymore.

The loss that I feel right now I can't explain. Of course they tore it down. It was old and I am sure that it was no longer operating as a hospital. Small towns can't afford such things anymore.

But it was a huge part of my life. My mother, my friend, my daughter all were centered there.

Now they are centered in my heart. And in my memories of the Lindsay District Hospital.

Friday, August 19, 2011

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother: He is still watching--now this is fun?

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother: He is still watching--now this is fun?: I am driving to the office today. I am minding my own business. Of course I am driving from Santa Barbara so I am on the tail end of a 2+h...

The Rest of the Chidren

I don't often talk about my cats. Don't know why. They are just always here and I play with them and clean up after them and do all the things that cat mommies do.

I just don't talk about them alot.

So let me introduce them.

Putter (up top) and Diamond
Now you must understand that my cats love to lounge. As illustrated above.

And they love to lounge where dogs will be most annoyed with their lounging. As illustrated above.

You see, that particular cat tree is blocking the gate into catland. The one and only room in the house reserved exclusively for cats. It has a restaurant with table service, clean and tidy restrooms, cozy beds, luxurious trees and sunshine. It also has hidy-holes and high places for amusement and relaxation.

Mostly it has maid service. Me. And it is dog-free. At all times.

So the tower upon which they prefer to lounge (see above illustration) is JUST outside the gate to catland. It is officially in DOGland. But the dogs are short and the tower is tall.

It is also the place where humans must pass in order to enter their sleeping room. So scritchy-scratching is guaranteed at this placement. This also drives dogs out of their minds.

Dogs do not understand why a human would touch a cat. It is simply beyond comprehension. And requires significant whining to advise the human of their error in judgment.

By the way, Putter and Diamond have never been outside. They live entirely in the home of humans and dogs. And guess who rules?

Stupid question.

Monday, August 8, 2011

More Dogs (Good Grief!)


Her name comes not from Dobbie Gillis but from F. Scott Fitzgerald. Well, that's the way it fits her.

It actually came to her as the last name in a book of baby names-----but that is another story.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's Zelda was sweet and loving and self-centered and manipulative and beautiful and blonde.

So, I give you Exhibit A:

She is shaved down for summer so her Cocker coat doesn't show. But she does not mind. She KNOWS that she is beautiful.

She is also willful and very, very active. She dances for her food. She runs the full length of the yard chasing the scents of cats, skunks and other unknown and unseen critters. She scampers up stairs and races around the circle of the house.

Until yesterday.

She lay on the bed and just looked at me. And she shook her head.

In Cocker speak that usually means ear problems. But examination of that region showed nothing. No odd smell, no redness, no dirt, no swelling. Nothing that would denote a problem.

Then she scratched at her neck. And, being a good dog detective, I looked in the fold of her neck.


Her collar had rubbed her raw. And a LARGE ECZEMA patch had formed.

So off to the doctor we go. Well, not me. The spouse had to take her.

So now we have ZELDA on STEROIDS.

This should be lots of fun.......

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Have I Mentioned the Buffalo?

There is this great road, well, highway, between Bakersfield and San Luis Obispo.

Very few people drive it because it is your basic two-lane mountain road.

Translation: It has lots of curves and very few straight stretches. Getting caught behind a slow moving vehicle are stuck.

There are no gas stations, restaurants, or other signs of civilization. (There is a large turn out with a sign saying "WeePee Park". But that's another story.)

There are lots of ranches, open pasture, oaks, pines, and rolling hills. There are some horses. Some cattle. You will see the occasional deer.

Oh, have I mentioned the BUFFALO?

About 25 miles East of Santa Margarita there is a ranch that has buffalo. Not just this big guy but a whole herd.

They are beautiful creatures. And I stop every time I take that road and they are out where I can see them.

I marvel at them. I think about their history and how they almost didn't make it this far.

It seems appropriate that they are on a lonely stretch of road where one has to seek them out to contemplate their existence.

It seems appropriate that I take that road just to contemplate my own existence.

The buffalo are special to me.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Finding Critters

Up at the cabin (Camp Nelson) there were always critters. Bobcats, deer and Bears, oh, my!

There were mice (by the millions), squirrels, moles, gophers, mountain lions, snakes (only a few), skunks, raccoons and other such things.

Most of them avoided us big, clunky, loud humans. We made no sense to them except when we left out the garbage or the birdseed.

But in the towns along the Central Coast you see fewer of them. They really do avoid the human world and run when they are approached in any way. (Well, the bears and cats don't run so much. But the littler guys do!)

So when I arrived at my usual Monday night rest stop in Santa Barbara (Thank you, Ramada Limited for keeping a room for me when I forget to make the weekly reservation!) I was a bit surprised to see a critter in the bushes in front of my parking spot.

It was well hidden and at first I thought it was a cat. But it was startled as I got out of the car and it looked at me. It was not a cat.
See him?

I barely could. So I crept a little closer. And I got this one.

It appeared to be just a little raccoon and he just stared at me. He didn't try to run. Of course it was daylight and not his favorite time of day.

I asked the management about him and they told me he had been in the area for quite some time. I was relieved because that meant he was on home turf and was not hurt.

He just wanted to go back to sleep.

So I let him.