The Villaj Idiut: Puppet master

Is it just me, or does it feel eerily like the United States has become the world’s largest puppet, and Russian President Vladimir Putin is backstage cheerily pulling string after string for his own amusement and benefit?

One of the kicks I now get as a former journalist is, when I read a sourced story, to try to figure out who the source (or, in the parlance of the Trump administration, “leaker”) is.

A Piece of My Mind: California under fire

A few weeks ago I drove down to Ojai to visit a cousin and some friends. East of Los Alamos, I took the Cachuma Highway (CA-154) to avoid the dogleg south on 101 through Buellton, Solvang, Goleta and along the coast.

My notes describe the cutoff as “a two-lane road with two stop signs and one traffic circle in 40 miles, snaking through beautiful high country along the Cachuma Reservoir, which was looking still a bit underfilled despite one year of hefty rain after California’s five years of drought.” This road is a playground for sports cars, and I had to pull over several times in my sedate four-cylinder Camry to let a Mustang or Camaro roar by. I was looking forward to a return trip on the same road, planning to check out the vista points overlooking the reservoir and maybe take a rest stop at the little nature center near the Boy Scout camp.

Haugh About That?: Setting me free

As I stood ready to say goodbye, I shuddered. We’d been through a lot: four children, celebrations, the death of loved ones and my divorce. For 35 years, my girlfriend held my hand through it all, but it was time to let her go.

In 1982, my former husband and I went on the hunt for the perfect house. It was a buyer’s market and properties sat, allowing shoppers time to make their choices. After a month of seeing everything there was to see, we decided on a ranch-style home in a quiet enclave in south Los Altos.

Other Voices: Ode to summers past


This is my favorite place. It’s not exotic – it’s just the barn and field adjacent to my parents’ house, which I’m lucky enough to come home to because my parents still live in the house I grew up in.

Touched by God: The Villaj Idiut

Frank Hughes/Special to the Town Crier
Father’s Day at Lake Tahoe featured this spectacular sunset. More photos can be found on the Town Crier’s Facebook page (

I have been on this Earth for nearly a half-century. I have always thought, if I died tomorrow, that I’d be OK with it, that I’d lived a full life and seen and experienced more than the average person.

And then I witnessed a sunset in Lake Tahoe on Father’s Day, and it was a reaffirmation of life. To the point that I wondered: What else could be out there that I’ve missed and didn’t know?

Fish out of water


My favorite joke is the one about two fish swimming down a river. They pass a fisherman sitting on the riverbank who calls out to the pair, “Hey fellas, how’s the water?”

“Just fine!” they respond, and continue on their way. Moments later, however, one fish stops, confused, and turns to the other one to ask, “What’s water?”

A Piece of My Mind: A modern-day visionary

On my travels in June, I met a modern-day visionary. His name is Zachary Brown and he is the co-founder, executive director and so far the sole employee of the Inian Islands Institute, a center designed, according to his business card, to provide “Experiential living and learning in the Wilderness of Southeast Alaska.”

Zach was raised in in Gustavus, Alaska, a town of 400 people at the northern end of the Alaskan panhandle, surrounded on three sides by Glacier Bay National Park and on the fourth by Icy Strait. Gustavus is accessible only by boat and seaplane. When the residents of Gustavus feel the need to escape the hustle and bustle of town, they visit the Hobbit Hole.

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