Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Goodbye, California

Goodbye, California. It's been a wonderful three weeks. The weather was very good. I got that needed shot of sunshine and I feel fortified and ready to go home now.

Los Angeles is such a lively place. Everything awful you ever heard about this place is completely true, but the excellence shrines through the smog and debris. I have seen ugly art, hideous architecture, dirty streets, and pathetic people desperate for attention. But the sheer vitality of this city amazes me.

Looked at rationally, Los Angeles shouldn’t even exist. There are too many people living in a desert landscape and the doomsday scenario is compelling, but it’s like riding the big wave -- you’re on the nose of the surfboard riding for hell with a thousand tons of water about to crash over your head and smash your bones on a rocky shore. So you just keep going because there’s no way to go back.

Los Angeles is the future, and with all its problems, this city could turn on a dime. It’s amazing what people can do when they finally get focused. That’s why I said it’s only five years away from paradise.

HAPPY NEW YEAR. Every news writer in the country is posting a ten-year review, and most have said it was a dismal period of failure. I agree. We’re worse off now than we were in 1999.

Personally, I haven’t done so well these past ten years. I can’t wait for this decade to end. There’s a lot of bad luck and poor decisions that I want to put behind me. But we do get more chances. And 2010 is looking sweet. I have plans to work on and dreams that might come true.

Likewise, the nation can rise, and it will rise. It’s such a beautiful country. Maybe we got kicked around and fell flat. So? Stuff like that happens. We just dust ourselves off and get a little smarter because there isn’t anything wrong with this country that can’t be fixed.

THOSE AWFUL CALIFORNIA TOMATOES. Boy, here’s something that needs to be fixed. First I read the harvest report at the Western Farm Press website. In 2009, California growers harvested 13.3 million tons of tomatoes on 308,000 acres, with an average yield of 43.2 tons per acre.

These tomatoes are hard as baseballs, tasting like cardboard, soaked in pesticide, and destined for the processing market, for Hunt’s tomato paste, for wholesale contracts with Domino’s pizza, and for the shelves of Wal-Mart SuperCenters across the land.

California produces more than 90 percent of the nation’s processed tomatoes and nearly half the world’s total processed tomato tonnage. This is industrial production and a lot of us would like it to be better, meaning better tasting and with fewer chemical inputs.

We want the growers to make a profit, but we want the field workers to -- not just get paid better -- but to enjoy a higher status.

California tomatoes need irrigation, but this precious water must be carefully husbanded, and what flows off the field needs to be as clean as when it flowed in.

So, if a can of crappy cardboard tomato paste cost a dollar, would you pay $1.25 for something better? I would.

THE MARKETS. The industrial growers of Central Valley have given California produce a bad reputation. But I visited four farmers markets while I was here -- in Santa Monica, Venice, and nearby communities. I saw mouth-watering beautiful fruits and vegetables. I bought sumptuous table grapes. I tasted fresh, local strawberries that were actually good.

One friendly farmer, as a New Year’s gift, gave me a pint of his own fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice -- it was spine-tingling tasty.

These are the smaller growers. They truck it fresh to market and they get a higher price. They don’t sell much wholesale because they can’t compete with the giant growers.

Instead they sell quality and freshness and the demand is growing year by year.

This is the future in California, and similar changes are taking place in the Skagit Valley and around the country.

We’re going to fix the farm and grow tastier food with fewer chemical inputs. We’re going to husband the soil and use water prudently. We’re going to pay good wages to willing farm workers.

And that isn’t pie in the sky. That’s just something we can do when we decide we really want to do it.

The history of American agriculture is about innovation. Farmer have never been conservative in that respect, but among all professions, most willing to try something different.

PROPS TO THE PEOPLE. I want to give a generous round of applause to my fellow Americans. They can talk all the want about how the system failed on Christmas Day when the Nigerian tried to ignite his underwear in an airplane flying to Detroit -- because we know what a bunch of alert citizens can do. They jumped all over him -- no waiting for instructions -- they put him down and got the fire out.

The government is doing a poor job defending us against terrorists. President Obama is sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. That is a waste of American lives.

But I have a confidence in the strong and alert citizens of America. They kicked the would-be terrorist right where it hurt the most and took him down.

MALIBU, HOME OF THE SURF GODS. On my last day in California, I drove up to Malibu to visit the surf gods. These are men my age who have dedicated their lives to being on the beach at Malibu. Some of them are bums and some of them are millionaires, but it’s all about the beach and the surf. It’s all about being there, and whatever you have to sacrifice or give up in order to be there -- every day, all year, for your whole life, in the waves and riding the surf. These guys are my people.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Love of Nature

On Sunday we drove to the edge of the San Gabriel Mountains in Pasadena, where the city stops and the wilderness begins. The boundary is really quite abrupt. The city lies flat and to the south, extending for many freeway miles. The canyon and the foothills rise to the north, too steep for a road, and no one has ever lived there.

We walked up the canyon in a family party. The first mile is an easy stroll. At the beginning, it's not really a canyon with steep sides, but just a wide stream bed.

The stream runs cold and clear coming out of the foothills. My brother says the creek runs until June and then it dries up. He lives nearby and hikes this trail often.

Here it is late December and it's still autumn -- the sycamore trees have golden brown leaves falling down around their trunks in piles, waiting for the wind to blow them someplace else. The sycamore trees favor the stream side in this dry country and they can get very big. They have beautiful smooth silver trunks.

The other tree is a kind of California oak with shiny, tough leaves, the color of dark green. You look at these oak trees and you know it can get really hot and dry around here. They just look kind of desert tough, like they're going to hold on to their water root by root and leaf by leaf.

Away from the stream, the foothills rise quickly with no trees at all. Looking up you only see brush on this south-facing slope. Of wildlife, there are bears, lions, coyotes, deer, foxes, hawks, eagles, and less glamorous species such as possum, raccoon and rabbit.

The mountains rise up to snow-capped peaks. You can see them in the distance driving on the San Bernardino Freeway -- snowy mountains far away, in the winter-time, when the air is clear.

The Station Fire last August was one of the biggest burns in California history at 250 square miles. After our canyon hike, we drove a few miles to the west where we could view the burned out area. The blackened hills extend for miles.

The fire was not completely extinguished until mid-October. Many residents at the base of the foothills were evacuated. Many others were safe in their homes, but for the choking smoke. The fire was just barely stopped here at the edge of the city. Unfortunately, the stronger winds blew north, and there was nothing to stop it going that way, so the fire just took off like a freight train and raged across the Angeles National Forest until it was spent and then finally corralled.

Now the residents fear the mudslides. In Southern California, mudslides follow brush fires. So the residents at the base of foothills held their breath last week when we got 2.5 inches of rain. There were sandbags installed ahead of time, and concrete abutments in critical areas, and the damage was minimal.

The danger of mudslides will not diminish until the soil is settled with new grass and brush. The winter rains should get things growing again, and it is reasonable to expect a show of green on the foothills fairly soon.

Far into the mountains, the Singing Springs Resort burned to the ground during the fire. It had been a group of small cabins and a big house and barn used by the gatekeeper. The Webb family has owned this 16-acre property since 1947. They used to have a roadside store, a gas station, even a post office. But business dwindled in recent years and maintenance was poor.

The Webb family found that they could rent out the property to film-makers as a location. They made less money than when it was resort, but the costs were lower and they were able to keep the property and pay the taxes. But the Station Fire last August destroyed all the buildings and filled the abandoned swimming pool with ash and debris.

They were at a loss until they discovered they could still rent the property as a movie location -- to people making disaster movies.

Do you need burnt-out ruins amid a bleak ash-ridden landscape for your next apocalyptic film? Then call the Webb family and they will rent you their recently destroyed property. They’ve had three takers so far, and life goes on, because this is Los Angeles, and no matter what the trouble, you just make a movie out of it.

The caretaker has moved a small trailer on to the property with a generator. He reports new shoots of green in the burnt land. He has seen mice and other rodents and even a rattlesnake or two. One of the singed sycamores recently sprouted shoots of new leaves. The Singing Springs Resort has survived another disaster.

The brush fires and mudslides in a desert landscape make you wonder how anybody can live in this desert climate. Throw in the earthquakes, and it’s a miracle that one of the world’s biggest cities exists here at all.

SUBSCRIPTIONS. It's all right to buy a subscription any time of the year. Like right now. For $25 you can become one of the honored subscribers to Frog Hospital. Subscribers have no special influence over what gets written, yet they are held in the highest esteem by this writer. You can mail a check for $25, made out to Fred Owens, and mail it to Box 1292, LaConner, WA 98257. Or go to my Frog Hospital blog and hit the PayPal button and pay that way.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Insulation is Sexy

Before flying to Copenhagen to discuss climate control with the important people, President Obama stopped at a Home Depot in northern Virginia to pitch energy independence as a surefire way to produce jobs.

And he said, several times, that weatherizing or insulation is sexy, explaining that it's cool to save money.

"Insulation is sexy." That is probably the most profound thing Obama ever said and I really mean that. It's so totally cool. Let's retrofit the entire country -- caulk every window and seal every crack, and wrap a blanket around every hot water heater in the land.

Insulate the ceiling, then crawl under the house and insulate the floor.

Good insulation makes your house warmer in winter, cooler in summer, and helps to keep out the noise from traffic. It's an investment that pays off in the long run.

That's why President Obama said insulation is sexy.

Now I would like to hear someone like Glenn Beck say otherwise. I would like to hear Glenn Beck say that insulation is stupid and a waste of money.

Glenn Beck would say, why those people in China and India aren't going to insulate their homes, so why should we?

Then Glenn Beck would start to wonder about those people at Home Depot who sell insulation -- they're communists. They hate America. They want to take control of the government and bury us under intense regulation and taxation.

Boycott Home Depot! We're madder than hell.

That's probably what Glenn Beck is saying right now, as President Obama flies to Copenhagen.

Well, Obama is no angel of environmental perfection, and Air Force One spews a fair amount of carbon dioxide in a trans-Atlantic journey, but I think he's working in the right direction when he talks about weatherization and the benefits of insulation.

There is no dramatic solution to global warming. It's going to take a thousand small steps and adjustments to make our economy fit the changing conditions.

And one of the things to keep in mind is the following principle:

EVERY SOLUTION CREATES ANOTHER PROBLEM. An important principle that undergirds any attempt to improve our environment and conserve our natural resources is this: every solution creates another problem.

Here's a very clear example. Municipalities across the country have been replacing the incandescent bulbs in traffic lights with LEDs -- or Light Emitting Diodes.

The LEDs consume far less electricity and the bulbs last much longer. This brings considerable savings in energy and money.

So it's all good, right? No, it's only partly good because this solution has created another problem.

It was something nobody expected. The old incandescent bulbs generate a lot of heat, which is wasted energy, but that heat comes in handy on a cold snowy day in the Midwest.

Because when snow falls on the traffic lights, the heat from the bulbs melts the snow, and traffic lights remain visible -- in places like Minneapolis and Chicago.

Now, when the LEDS were installed in the traffic lights, they don't generate any heat, which is great, except when the snow falls.

When the snow falls, the LEDS cannot melt it, and traffic lights becomes obscured and invisible.

This has resulted in a rash of accidents -- fender benders mostly, but people have been injured.

So we can see that this energy-saving solution, to replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs, has created another problem.

Now, we'll listen to what Glenn Beck might say about this -- with dramatic emphasis, with tears in his eyes, he says, "LEDs are killing Americans! Killing them! Environmental wackos, intent on taking over the government and forcing us all to submit to tyranny, have forced LED traffic lights on unsuspecting communities in the Midwest.

"LEDS are dangerous, This is further evidence of a terrorist/communist plot. Real Americans use incandescent bulbs. Only pinkos and wackos use LEDS."

But the rest of us, guided by the principle that every solution creates another problem, are not dismayed. We simply have to figure out a way to remove or melt the snow that can obscure LED traffic lights. We just tap into that can-do spirit, that All-American ingenuity, that Yankee know-how that is our birthright and tradition.

We just tinker with it until we get it right.

You want to know who my guiding spirit is? Not Glenn Beck, that's for sure, but Thomas Edison.

Edison invented the incandescent bulb, and I'll bet a hundred dollars that he would be a champion of the new LEDS if he were alive today.

Edison would say, "LEDs are the future. They burn cooler. They use less electricity, and the bulbs last much longer. Sure we might discover a few problems as we develop their uses, but we're not going back to the old way of doing things. We're headed to the future, and the future is lit with LEDs."

SUBSCRIPTIONS. It's all right to buy a subscription any time of the year. Like right now. For $25 you can become one of the honored subscribers to Frog Hospital. Subscribers have no special influence over what gets written, yet they are held in the highest esteem by this writer. You can mail a check for $25, made out to Fred Owens, and mail it to Box 1292, LaConner, WA 98257. Or go to my Frog Hospital blog and hit the PayPal button and pay that way.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's Only Five Years to Paradise

It rained pretty good on Friday and Saturday. It was a warm, easy rain. The earth smells sweet now and the air is clean.

The roses are getting ready for the Rose Bowl Parade. I was over in Pasadena yesterday -- it's the old part of town. There is no movie money over here, it's too conservative. You see lots of mansions set back from the road behind tall hedges. And lots of roses blooming.

The summer is very hard in Pasadena, because it gets seriously hot and the smog backs up against the San Gabriel Mountains. But it's nice in the winter.

It's also less frantic than the West Side. Everybody on the West Side wants to be like Hollywood or be near the beach and be young, pretty and well-connected. The traffic is terrible, the streets are crowded, and everybody's in a big hurry on their cell phone.

So you get off the West Side and drive east, going through downtown Los Angeles -- past the new skyscrapers, past Staples Center where the Lakers play.

You go past downtown, you go by Chavez Ravine, the home of Dodgers -- a fine ball park nestled in a hillside covered with eucalyptus trees.

But you go keep going east to Pasadena, where the old money lives -- the bankers, the railroad fortunes and the big landowners. It's not Hollywood, not "cosmopolitan," but quieter and the traffic is slower.

I went there to visit my brother. I hate being accurate, but my brother actually lives in "Altadena," which is right next to "Pasadena" so we have to respect local usage.

Okay, they still have some of the movie business in "Pasadena." Like down the street from my brother's house lives a man who makes a living as a "location agent." He represents the owners of more than 600 houses which can be rented and used for location shots.

The shots might be for a movie, a TV show, or a commercial, but the agent has a portfolio of homes and the producer can pick just the right one for his shot.

When I was there, they were using a classic California Craftsman home as a set-up for the new TV hit "Parks & Recreation."

Now, the owners of the home have to vacate the premises for several days, and then ALL their furniture is put out on the sidewalk, to be replaced by furniture suitable for the film or TV show. But the owners get paid well for the inconvenience.

So, if you watch Amy Poehler come home from work on "Parks & Recreation," then you will see her enter a house just down the street from my brother's house.

As I said in the previous newsletter, it's how people in Los Angeles make a living, and there are hundreds if not thousands of jobs involved besides the the famous names and faces you see on TV -- like all those guys we saw moving the furniture in and out of the house and setting up lights, bringing in the portable toilets, and taping NO PARKING signs to the trees so that residents nearby won't interrupt the shoot.

It's a big deal and it's really cool to watch.

THEME. Now we have arrived at the THEME of today's newsletter, titled "It's Only Five Years to Paradise."

Or it's more like a hope. I look around Los Angeles -- the air is dirty and the traffic is terrible, but it would only take five years to turn this city back into a paradise.

A paradise, if only the people who lived here wanted it to happen. You shut down the freeways, and you rebuild what was once the nation's biggest system of street cars. That solves the traffic problem. Then you tear up all the lawns and build luscious organic gardens on every block.

You retrofit every house and building with a roof-top rainwater collection system that drains into an underground cistern. That solves the water problem.

Then you put solar panels on every one of those same roof tops, and the solves the energy problem

Bingo, the air is clean, the streets are quiet, and every one is happy. It wouldn't cost that much money. You could still use some stretches of the old freeways for racetracks and custom car shows.

It would take five years to do this, whenever the people around here decide that's what they want.

Five years to paradise. I can see it right over the horizon.

SUBSCRIPTIONS. It's all right to buy a subscription any time of the year. Like right now. For $25 you can become one of the honored subscribers to Frog Hospital. Subscribers have no special influence over what gets written, yet they are held in the highest esteem by this writer. You can mail a check for $25, made out to Fred Owens, and mail it to Box 1292, LaConner, WA 98257. Or go to my Frog Hospital blog and hit the PayPal button and pay that way.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Los Angeles in Winter

Los Angeles is wonderful in the winter. The cooler temperatures and occasional rain make people subdued, flannel-wrapped, and easier to take. Even the traffic, I swear, is just a hair slower. I was crossing Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice this morning -- jaywalking -- and the drivers weren't trying to kill me, they weren't even aiming at me. I felt just the barest touch of consideration. It's really great.

I love Los Angeles. I looked at a favorite garden, just down the street from my sister's house. Roses were blooming. They looked so pretty.

Then I went to the coffee shop -- I have some old friends there, habitues, they go there every day. I sat with Eric and Evan and Chaz, reading the Los Angeles Times.

The most beautiful women in the world walk into this coffee shop. One after another, it's so stunning. It's a good show. Don't tell me it's an illusion. It's how people make a living around here. I love the movies and I love being around the people who make them.

Meanwhile, across the world, Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize just a week after announcing a troop increase in Afghanistan. He shits diamonds. I don't know how else to put it.

I'm not having such a bad week myself, so I don't complain. I read Thomas Friedman's column on global warming, and I agreed with him. I think it's a problem and we ought to do something about it:

"If we prepare for climate change by building a clean-power economy, but climate change turns out to be a hoax, what would be the result? Well, during a transition period, we would have higher energy prices.

But gradually we would be driving battery-powered electric cars and powering more and more of our homes and factories with wind, solar, nuclear and second-generation biofuels. We would be much less dependent on oil dictators who have drawn a bull’s-eye on our backs; our trade deficit would improve; the dollar would strengthen; and the air we breathe would be cleaner.

In short, as a country, we would be stronger, more innovative and more energy independent."

That's how Friedman puts it, and I agree.

The problem is that I don't know any scientists -- only a few, and them not well, so it's hard for me to make a judgment on this question. It's not something I can verify with my own observation.

I have always kept a small carbon footprint, before it was called a carbon footprint, and before I ever heard of a global warming hypothesis, so I'm already going that way, and there are many compelling reasons to conserve our natural resources besides prevention of global warming.

When they had the climate convention in Copenhagen, there were too many limousines and there was too much conspicuous consumption. We should have seen electric cars, and carpooling, and people walking instead of driving -- even if it was hypocritical posing, it still would have been more persuasive.

These are people with big carbon foot prints telling people like us with small carbon foot prints how to be have. That isn't right.

It bolsters the conservative objection that a global elite is using the climate change hypothesis to impose radical restrictions on personal freedom. This objection is plausible and needs to be addressed squarely.

But then there was the stolen e-mail scandal showing that some scientists in England cooked data to prove a pattern of global warming caused by human activity, and also conspired to prevent opposing views from gaining access to prestigious publications.

Cooking data is cheating, pure and simple, and stifling opposing views is just as wrong. But it only looks like a few bad apples. It doesn't look like a widespread conspiracy.

True, academic people, as I have known them, are subject to fads, social pressure and careerism, just like the rest of us.

Therefore, one remains skeptical. To say one "believes" in global warming is ludicrous. Instead, one makes a judgment based on the best available evidence. Belief has nothing to do with it. Climate change caused by human activity is plausible. We should cultivate a careful regard for whatever emissions we pump into the atmosphere under any circumstances. We can achieve a cleaner environment without excessive austerity and without excessive regulation. This is very possible and a good thing, and it's what I am working for.

THE HYPE. Los Angeles is all about the Hype. I went for a walk on the Venice Boardwalk. I spotted a film crew working in a roped-off area, with bright lights on poles, and electric cables snaking all over the place, generators, utility trailers, tracks laid for the camera to move one, a side tent with a catered meal, and more equipment -- there were at least forty people working there, including one Los Angeles cop astride a motorcycle doing crowd control.

All this was for a short segment of a commercial for Buffalo Wings, I was told -- because I talking to the cop on the motorcycle. He was taking it easy, working a cross-word puzzle. His cycle said "Film Unit." He said the LAPD had 150 retired officers who worked the Film Unit on an as-needed basis.

The cops get a lot of variety on the Film Unit, working all over the city on different days. Plus, it was a fair-weather job -- the film crews can't work on location on rainy days.

I would have said the cop had it easy, but after we lost four policemen in Seattle last week, I won't ever say that again.

Anyway, it was good to see the forty people working on the commercial, plus the cop on the Film Unit. They were all getting paid, even if they weren't producing Art for the Ages.

SUBSCRIPTIONS. It's all right to buy a subscription any time of the year. Like right now. For $25 you can become one of the honored subscribers to Frog Hospital. Subscribers have no special influence over what gets written, yet they are held in the highest esteem by this writer. You can mail a check for $25, made out to Fred Owens, and mail it to Box 1292, LaConner, WA 98257. Or go to my Frog Hospital blog and hit the PayPal button and pay that way.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The War on Terror

I heard President Obama speak about Afghanistan and how he was going to send another 30,000 troops to that country. I think it's a bad idea. I don't know what to say -- I voted for him.

Maybe I just heard what I wanted to hear when we had the election last year -- how Obama said he wanted to get our troops out of Iraq. I heard that part. But when he talked about Afghanistan, I thought he was kidding -- you know, some campaign rhetoric to make him look like he wasn't afraid of a fight.

Now I find out he wasn't kidding. Somehow, our military forces are supposed to accomplish something in that far away country. And then the troops will come back home again.

I'm very skeptical. We still have 28, 000 troops in South Korea. We have not yet won the war in Korea. There has been no victory and no parade, just a tense truce, and going on 50 years now.

Why would it be any different in Afghanistan?

Somehow, in Afghanistan, they're going to build up an army which will look respectable in Western eyes, and when that happens the troops come home.

It doesn't make any sense. But I voted for the guy, so I don't know what to say.

LACONNER TOWN COUNCIL REDUCES THEIR OWN BENEFITS. In an almost unheard of development, the LaConner Town Council voted to discontinue their own health care benefits. This should be national news. It is exceedingly rare for a legislative body to reduces its own pay or benefits.
But they did it in LaConner, by a fair and square vote, taking money out of their own pockets, as it were.

The town had been paying the health insurance of town council members at a cost of over $30,000 per year -- which was a nice little fringe benefit if you could manage to get elected. But this year revenue was too tight, and voters were saying to cut back expenses anywhere possible, so the town council did the right thing and eliminated their own town-paid health insurance. It can't be easy to give up something like that

The council members do have alternate means of obtaining health insurance, but it will cost them money out of their own pockets.

THE WINTER OLYMPICS IN VANCOUVER. The Winter Olympics in Vancouver are a looming disaster. It would be a hollow gesture on my part to boycott the event. The fact is that tickets are incredibly expensive and nobody I know can afford to go.

The site of the Olympics is a only a two-hour drive from LaConner, but you have to get across the border.

That used to so easy. Now, crossing the border in to Canada or coming back can be a nightmare -- long waits and being asked stupid question by intimidating border patrol agents.

It's not like it happens very often -- a hassle at the border. But it used to never happen at all.

Anyway, seats at the Winter Olympics are reserved for the global elite. The rest of us can watch it on TV.


War on Terrorism

War on Drugs

War on Crime

War on Poverty

This dates me, but when I came on the scene, we had the “War on Poverty,” which didn’t work because (a) we didn’t try hard enough, and (b) we got distracted by the War in Viet Nam, which didn’t work either.

Then we had the War on Crime, which worked because crime statistics are way down, But it didn’t really work because everyone is still too scared, and there are too many young men in prison.

Then we had the War on Drugs, which hasn’t worked at all -- there are tons of illegal drugs everywhere.

Now we have the War on Terrorism. In this case expectations are being carefully managed: This war, we are being told, will go on for a long time.

Oh, I forgot: we had the War on Communism. It’s over and we won.

But we still have these four enemies, these four horrifying horsemen: poverty, crime, drugs, and terrorism -- all misery, all connected, each one causing the other.

Taking it all together, I think we should go back to the War on Poverty -- that being the best way to work on solving these problems.

KUKLA, FRAN & OLLIE. Kukla, Fran & Ollie decorate their Christmas tree on YouTube.

SUBSCRIPTIONS. It's all right to buy a subscription any time of the year. Like right now. For $25 you can become one of the honored subscribers to Frog Hospital. Subscribers have no special influence over what gets written, yet they are held in the highest esteem by this writer. You can mail a check for $25, made out to Fred Owens, and mail it to Box 1292, LaConner, WA 98257. Or go to my Frog Hospital blog and hit the PayPal button and pay that way.