Posted in grit and glitter, Lifestyle, Prosecutor's Corner, Uncategorized

#1 The One in Which I Had my First Jury Trial

The year was 2012. I had been a lawyer for about 6 years in the civil sector with nary a jury trial to my name. You see, what they don’t tell you in law school, that jury trials in the civil sector are expensive, which means working for a small boutique law firm in rural Northern California gives you zero opportunites to have a trial go out.

After Maizy was born I set out on my own, opened my own practice and worked next to my family and their shirt shop they had owned my entire life…but that it a story for another day. Let’s just say that it got to a point where I had to decide whether to hire a legal secretary and work full time or pursue my dream of working in criminal prosecution. Criminal prosecution won that battle and my first jury trial came about 8 months later.

As a new prosecutor I was assigned to work in the misdemeanor division. This is a fast paced part of the DA’s office. So many cases come through any misdemeanor prosecutor’s door on any given day and this is where you are expected to cut your teeth on jury trials. On this particular ocassion the Court had become disillussioned with the number of cases pending trials and set multiple defendants with multiple cases for the same jury trial dates. Something was bound to get out.

I spent the weekend (the cases were confirmed Friday morning for a Monday jury trial) prepping ALL of my cases. And there was a stack of them. 3 defendants in total. 2 each had 1 case a piece and the final defendant had 3 cases. At the very bottom of the stack was a relatively simple case of driving on a suspended license. It was the very last in terms of priority and unlikely to confirm, or so we thought.

Monday morning came around and I watched as the cases were called widdling down to the very last one. One defendant failed to show up. One pled. One case had a necessary witness that was unavailable. And so we had it. My first jury trial was going to be Driving Under a Suspended License.

It was relatively straight forward. The case boiled down to an officer observing the defendant driving. Based on prior contacts the officer knew the defendant’s license was suspended. The defendant was contacted in the parking lot where he had parked and admitted his conduct. Proof of the suspension came from certified DMV documents that showed proof of notification of the suspension was received. To add to the mix, defendant opted to testify on his own behalf in the trial and TOLD THE JURY HE HAD BEEN DRIVING. A guilty verdict was received.

When the defendant tells you he did something, you beleive it.

One of the most poignant traditions we have at the DA’s office is a tie-cutting ceremony which occurs the first time you receive a guilty verdict on a trial. My scarf (no ties were worn by me) was off of the burgandy blouse I had worn in trial. It hangs in a case with my DDA counterparts as evidence of a job well done.

Posted in family and home, Lifestyle, My Why, Travel Log

Going to the Snow

Going to the Snow

How our day trip to Donner Memorial Park reminded us to stay resiliant.

Miles, my 17 year old, pointed out to me that only in California do we say things such as, “going to the snow.” The snow is not so much a place as it is a weather condition, but despite that, in California we “go to the snow.” Growing up this phrase meant my family was going to pack up in our mini-van and drive up the mountain. Usually it was a couple of hours until we found a spot, conviently located close to the side of the road. Then we would hop out of the car to go sledding, make a snowman, and then go home. Say what you will about my home-state, the ability to drive equal distance to the snow or the beach will always be one of the main reasons I continue to reside here.

One such trip to the snow as a child occurred in the late-80’s, early 90’s, when my family spent the day at Donner Memorial State Park. Located off of Interstate 80, this park has a small museum and statue memorializing the fate of the Donner party, who got snowed in at this particular location while trying to migrate to the west. They got stuck, people died, and some of those people got eaten. 7th grade me, along with my 3 brothers, made LOTS of jokes while we were at the location. But the magnitude of this event has always stuck with me. Especially when you take into account the fact that the memorial statue is built to represent the height of the snow these pioneers were stuck in. It’s leaves you awestuck at the fierceness of nature and at the resiliance of humans when faced with a seamingly impossible task. 22 feet of snow stopped those pioneers in their tracks. And still, with the help of others, they made into the North Valley of California. Not how they had planned, but they persisted.

The Miller’s at Donner Memorial in 2021

The Nelson's at Donner Memorial in the late 80's early 90's

So, when my kids asked to go to the snow a couple of weeks ago, this was the obvious choice. It took us just a couple of hours to reach the park, which was teaming with people in the parking lot, but which was spacious enough to let us all comply with social distancing guidelines. The snow there on this day, wasn’t as tall as the statue, in fact it was only about a foot or two deep, but it was enough ot make some snowballs and have a couple failed attempts at snow angels. Most important, it got us out of the house for awhile. With all that 2020 had thrown at us, any excuse to get out into nature is a welcome excuse.

As soon as we got out of the car I was hit with the cold-clean fresh air; such a welcome change from the indoors. I was instantly relaxed. The kids too seemed to relax just by the mere fact that they were outside. We walked over to the monument and spent just about an hour in the snow. We tried our hardest to make snow-balls, snow-angels, snow-anything really. The absurdity of chunking out ice and then throwing rock hard bits at one another had us all laughing out loud.

Unfortunately, the snow was not fresh and there was far-less than 22 feet of it. We really didn’t mind the lack of resources. The important thing was we were outside and we were making do with the circumstances as they were dealt us. With everything my kids and husband have had to deal with over the last year, quaratine, staying at home, grief over the life we used to live, my kids rarely get the chance to just be kids anymore. And with Miles about to go on to college, he rarely lets himself act his age. For just a little bit, my kids and husband spent time just being themselves without a worry for all of those problems waiting for them once we returned.

Going home, we felt a bit lighter, refreshed by the outdoors, and grateful that we live in a place where such day-trips are possible. One thing is for certain, in 2021 I am grateful for the ability to “go to” just about anywhere. Getting there may not be what we planned, but we’ve made it ours just the same.

Looking for more informaiton on Donner Memorial Park? Here is the link to the website: Donner Memorial Park

Posted in family and home, Lifestyle, Motivation, Travel Log

Geneva: Who knew traveling and dining in the City could give us the best souvenir we could ever imagine?

Night or day, transportation and food in Geneva did not disappoint.
While it was easy, it was still COLD.
After all, we were in Geneva in the winter!

In preparing for my family’s trip to Geneva, one of the things I repeatedly came across was how expensive the city was. And really, the cost of food was a bit of a shock; however, it was worth it. Oh. So. Worth. It.

Perhaps to offset that, Geneva provides some of the most efficient and wide-spread public transportation I have ever experienced. Now don’t get me wrong, I live in a small town in Northern California where public transportation isn’t really a thing. But even with my relatively limited experiences with big-city transport (think San Francisco, Boston, Chicago), I was impressed.

As an added bonus, most hotels in Geneva, including ours, provided public transportation passes to their guests during the duration of your stay. This was especially important to us as we were technically staying outside of Geneva proper, in the smaller township of Meryn. Daily trips into the city only took us about 20 minutes, or perhaps a little longer if we were going outside the main area of the city.

The transportation system was entirely in French, however, the lines running in and out of the city on both the trams and buses were super easy to understand…and since I’m a bit of a Type A personality, Google Maps also kept us on track.

Once inside the main part of the City, the Jet D’Eau (or “Old Spouty”) really acted as a gauge for where we were. This fountain, located in Lake Leman, started out as a pressure release valve for the City’s water system. Now, it is a giant symbol of Geneva proper and can be seen throughout the entire city for the most part. We had fun trying to find it where ever we were and often used it to walk back to the tram station we used most often called “Bel Air.”

Jet D’Eau in the morning

One of our favorite thing to do as a family was to meet up with Jason after he was done with work to eat a meal at a cafe or restaurant. We would often pick a small eatery close to where-ever the kids and I had been that day and Jason would hop on the tram to meet us.

A word of caution, food is on a strict schedule in Geneva.

Fondue on our final night

Breakfast is typically open from 7am to about 9am

Lunch from 12pm to about 2:30pm

One of our favorite cafes had a
rabbit theme. How could you
resist taking photos?

Dinner starts at 6pm and goes until about 2am

These were not negotiable. So we learned rather quickly to time our meals to the schedule of the restaurants.

However, dining in Geneva was so much different than what my family typically experiences. Usually we eat a meal in 20 minutes to 45 minutes at a restaurant. In Geneva we were expected to be there at least an hour or two. I got the impression that we could have stayed for 3 hours and still have been fine. And we would always have to ask for the bill; once you were there to eat, you were there for the duration. My family really embraced this style of eating. In fact, now that we are home, the kids have asked for us to have a longer meal once a month so we can spend some time at the table “like Geneva” and just catch up with one another.

These two aspects of any city are essential to having a smooth and pleasant vacation and my family was more than pleasantly surprised by both. More importantly, these practical and necessary parts of our trip gave us one of the most valuable things we brought home. A genuine understanding of why slow family meals are important; a cultural insight that I am so glad we have brought home to our little family.

Posted in family and home, Lifestyle, Travel Log

Geneva: History Comes to Life with La Escalade

Here we are in front of Jet D’eau (or “Old Spouty” as we came to call him throughout the week). This truly is a symbol of Geneva. Throughout the week we used it to get our bearings and to remind us of what an amazing adventure we were on.

Sometimes an opportunity comes along you just cannot refuse. This happened to my family in December when my husband was asked to teach for a week in Geneva. We jumped on the opportunity to take the kids; even though this was definitely not a trip we had planned for at all. Geneva has never been on my radar as somewhere we would go independent of a larger trip to Switzerland. Finances were also a concern given the fact that we had done zero planning in advance for this trip-which was scheduled approximately 4 weeks before we left.

In fact, immediately I was faced with the choice: Do we do an in depth week in the city or do we tackle a more broader trip with the kids (and without my husband)? I knew nothing about Geneva, other than it housed the United Nations AND that it was the hub of Swiss banking. However, given time constraints and the fact that we did want to actually hang out with Jason after he was done teaching for the day, we opted to dig deep into the city of Geneva.

I am SO glad that we did!

First of all, every year Geneva celebrates in its Old Town the Fete De La Escalade, which commemorates the City’s victory over a Paris invasion in 1608. This festival just so happened to be the weekend we arrived. It involved patrols of the Old Town by soldiers in period clothing (a portion of Geneva that is filled with cobblestone and notably, St. Peter’s Cathedral), demonstrations of drums, sword fighting, mulled wine and sausages, a SECRET TUNNEL only opened one weekend a year, and ends with a giant bonfire at the base of St. Peters. Approximately 600 volunteers march through the city to ignite the fire and celebrate their continued independence.

Oh and let’s not forget the chocolate sculpted cauldrons with sculpted candy vegetables that you break open with a sword in celebration! We got in on the action ourselves by buying a small pot and breaking it open with Maizy’s Swiss Army Knife!

The City was full of Chocolate Shops selling these beauties! We opted to get our’s at the convenience store call Migros. It quickly became one of our favorite places to stop and get a snack.

I would say one of the highlights of the festival was the free access to the bell towers in St. Peter’s Cathedral. If you arrived after 2pm you were given access to all three. This involved what seemed like a never ending ascension into the towers by winding cobblestone and rock stairways. There were three separate towers: The original bell tower (which was complete with hand rung bells), the mechanical tower, and the watch tower.

We stopped for a photo during our never ending climb.

St. Peter’s Cathedral served as a lookout for invaders and was continuously manned until after the end of WW1. The bell in that tower was used to warn the city about fire and invasion up until that time.

What an experience we had being thrown into the heart of this truly Genevian celebration. Geneva is primarily a French speaking town; although we were able to communicate just fine with our limited French ability (think Google translate) because most people understood and spoke English as well. Regardless, our experience with the festival was truly magical. We felt like we got to see a glimpse into a side of the City not available any other time of the year.

Posted in family and home, HD Beauty, HD You, Lifestyle, Travel Log

Day Tripping: A Family Hike in Chico’s Seed Orchard

Who knew there was a Seed Orchard in Chico, California? Anyone? I certainly had no idea what a seed orchard was, much less that there was one in Chico, California. That is, until I scrolled across a video posted by @explorebuttecountyca this week:

As a lifelong Butte County resident I had never heard of this place. So, this Sunday, we took the opportunity to take the kids and explore this hidden gem. Turns out the Chico Seed Orchard is part of the Mendocino National Forest and is 209 acres designated to plant breeding, research and introduction for different plants all around the world. It is also a place to preserve two of our areas most common trees: Ponderosa Pines and Douglas Firs. There happen to be seed orchards all around the State! They have a secondary function of recreation-which was exactly why were were there.

First of all, this place is literally tucked away in South Chico behind an industrial area and between several homes. You park outside the chain link fence surrounding the area and walk in to the facility. They have a short hiking trial that meanders alongside Camache Creek. There are no shortage of picnic tables and benches to sit at, making for a great environment should you want to escape into the trees for a bit. The water was swift, cold and intense; probably because of the intense snow pack we have up in the Sierra’s right now.

The path is paved; however, the trees themselves are quite overgrown, making for a beautiful and peaceful walk. We encountered several groups while we were out there, mostly having a stroll and watching the water, just like us. While we encountered many different types of trees along the walk, it was difficult to ascertain their unique features because of the overgrowth. I found that aspect of the walk beautiful. Nature overtaking nature as if it were going to go back to its original form one way or another.

The kids’ favorite was the large bamboo growing right behind the Ranger’s station (which was a rather adorable main house and outbuilding). Of course we stopped and did our best tree poses in the bamboo, while Jason zenned out on a bench carved out of a log, while watching the water just roll on by.

Jason’s zen. The sounds of Camache Creek

It took us about an hour to walk the whole path and to check out some of the orchards that were clearly designated for tree production. We saw lizards, birds and squirrels everywhere and the place was so quiet. As we were leaving several groups had entered the park with food, clearly intending to spend a quiet Sunday with the trees.

More information on the Chico Seed Forest can be found HERE.

Posted in HD You, Lifestyle, Motivation, Self Care, Year of Self Love

Week 23: Change your space, change your perspective

In law school I would find myself spending an obnoxious amount of time, right around finals, cleaning my apartment. At the time I thought it was a classic avoidance technique…I will clean so I don’t need to focus on what really matters, my studies.

Today I think what was really going on was much different. You see, in law school, I would spend an entire semester cramming my head full of terminology, case law, statutes, common law and the like into my brain. My brain would be full by the end of the semester. No more penguins could fit on that iceberg come May.

In fact, towards the end of the semester I was known for forgetting the name to common household items (it was a spoon) AND for putting stamps on the wrong side of the envelope. Too many penguins on the iceberg resulted in good penguins jumping ship!

Anyway, what I really think was going on during these cleaning frenzies was that my mind needed a fresh perspective and by cleaning and reorganizing my living space, it was allowed to take a breather and have a fresh perspective, so that my brain could organize and focus.

That is what the year of self love challenge is focusing on this week. Take some time to rearrange your living space. It could be your bedroom, office or even the bathroom. Buy a new bedspread. Get out a different set of dishes.

What ever it is rearrange the living spaces in your life differently to allow that fresh perspective to sneak in. Your brain (and those penguins) will thank you for it.

Posted in HD You, Lifestyle, Motivation, Self Care, Uncategorized, Year of Self Love

Week 22: Try a new hairdo or a fresh look

3 inches off the bottom should do it! New hairdo completed; now it’s time to bring on summer!

I’m a firm believer that problems get solved with some fresh perspective. This is true when you are working too hard (just take a walk or run your ideas by someone else) or when you are in a rut (try something new and see how inspired you get).

That’s why I love this week’s challenge so much! In a year devoted to loving yourself as best you can, what better way is there to get a fresh perspective about yourself? Try a new hairstyle or makeup look.

For me that meant cutting a couple inches off the bottom to get ready for summer. My head feels so much lighter now that that dead weight is off. I’m ready to see where the next 6 months of the year takes me for sure.

This doesn’t have to be extreme. Maybe part your hair a different way or try a new style.

Go to a beauty counter and have them give you a new lip or eye option.

The possibilities are as minimal or as extreme as you want them.

Oh, and I also resurrected an old hairstyle this week as well. You have to put on a scrunchie with a high ponytail when you go to see New Kids on the Block!

NKOTB 4EVER!!!
Posted in Ballet, grit and glitter, HD Beauty, HD You, Lifestyle, Motivation, Self Care, Year of Self Love

Week 21: Get up and move!

Tutus on the Barre at Northern California School of Ballet, Oroville

Getting up in the morning and moving a bit has been one of the best things I have done for myself in a long time. It gets my body moving, helps to stretch me out and gets the blood flowing to my brain.

My movement is simple: 30 jumping jacks, 30 second plank and either burpees or kettle-bell swings. It takes me 5-10 minutes, but the effects on my mood are astounding. I am awake, rejuvenated and ready to take on the day.

This week, pick out your favorite exercise outfit and get moving in the morning. It doesn’t have to be long…but it totally can be if you want.

My favorite exercise outfit is my leotard and tights from ballet class! While I don’t wear that during my morning exercise routine, those 2 classes I spend at the barre are the favorite 90 minute blocks I have to myself all week. One day I will be wearing one of those tutus on the bar you see above. For now, I will settle for my black leo’ and my steady improvement in the realm of ballet.

Happy movement this week!

Posted in HD You, Lifestyle, Travel Log

Let’s Taco-bout San Diego: What a taco a day really looks like

Last week I spent 5 days in the Carlsbad/San Diego area for a work. Most of my days were spent in lecture; however, the lunches and evenings were free to explore. Luckily, I was with co-workers who were as committed as I to eating at least one taco a day (which turned into two taco meals a day on at least one occasion. No judgment here, right?)

A Taco a Day Makes for One Happy Traveler

Now let me be clear. This isn’t going to be a recitation of all the places I ate and what I thought of each delicious one. I literally didn’t find a taco in San Diego/Carlsbad that I didn’t love. The point was that I knew I wanted to experience my favorite food in a location known for it’s AMAZING Mexican cuisine. While I can get good Mexican in Northern CA, it is definitely different down South. For example, I literally watched the tortilla I ate being made in front of me on more than one occasion.

My favorite place by far was Salud, located in Barrio Logan in San Diego. Only 10 minutes away from the San Diego airport. This was the last taco shop we visited before leaving the area. The wait? Over an hour, but oh it was worth it! My al pastor taco was on the best tortilla I have ever eaten AND I also ordered Cerviche and promptly ignored my travel-mates for at least 10 minutes while I ate it (and no I didn’t share).

Also in Barrio Logan was a little coffee shop called Por Vida Cafe. The picture of me with Frida Kahla in the gallery was taken there. Horchata Cold Brew has never been on my radar. But now that I’ve tried it I can never go back. I’m putting this little art district barrio on my “must return” list because there was so much in this area I wanted to see; however the plane was calling.

Other highlights of the trip?

The Flower Fields

Carlsbad is home to this little gem of a location, wedged between Lego Land and the Outlets, that is a must see if you are in the area in Spring. There were so many people there living their best insta-life’s!!! So many photos were taken by me, my friends, and just about everyone there. And how could you resist? The fields of flowers were stunning and provided the perfect background. I’m not going to lie, I’m not sharing the most ridiculous photos here but, at one point, I was pretending to be a lion looking through a field of flowers. In addition to just being able to walk the grounds, you can also take a tractor ride AND get a strawberry dole whip. There is a wedding chapel, large lawn chairs, and tractors. Everything about this location screams, “Come and see me! Take your picture!” I was happy to indulge.

The Grass Skirt

We happened upon this Tiki Bar while looking for more Dole Whip. At first there was mass-confusion by our group on how to get in. We could see that there were people inside enjoying their fruity punch tropical drinks but none of the doors were open. We took to Google and I called the number hoping to be clued in. Simultaneously we heard the phone ringing in the neighboring Poke Bar AND saw another group of individuals disappear into the walk-in freezer.

That’s right, the Tiki Bar had a secret entrance using the neighboring Poke Bar’s walk-in!

I’m not exaggerating when I say I could have stayed at The Grass Skirt all night. The vibe, the drinks, and the mystique was right up my alley.

The Beaches

Need I say more?

Overall my work week was filled with plenty of after hours activities making my short trip to the Carlsbad/San Diego full to say the least. These were the highlights for me and this small taste of the area has left me hungry for more.