August 31, 2017

Hurricane Harvey: Red Rover providing emergency relief efforts for pets.

Credit:  Red Rover Facebook Page
Hurricane Harvey has brought untold misery the the Texas gulf coast area, including lost pets, injured pegs, and pets in need of immediate emergency shelter.

Sacramento California-based Red Rover, a non-profit charitable organization, is helping to spearhead animal relief efforts, providing emergency care and shelter to displaced animals, including reuniting pets with their owners, and transporting animals by air to safe locations.

Please click on their Facebook post below for more information, including how to donate to Red Rover's Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, and links to pet-related resources for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

Thank you, Red Rover, for your much needed emergency assistance.

Mary Rae Fouts

August 29, 2017

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner: Doesn't care if Houston residents lack food and water.

To add to Houston residents' misery, they have a leader - Mayor Sylvester Turner - who clearly does not care.

Houston Evacuees
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In what can only be described as a head shaking, lame brain statement of epically inane proportions, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said this about residents' "lilypad" safe havens he has ordered opened in Houston areas:
"I don't care if there is no food or water there.
I just need to have a safe place for people to go." 
-- Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner; August 27, 2017. 
Read more about Mayor Turner's callous statement in this Weather Channel article.

Houston Evacuees
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How incredibly heartless to not care if your constituents lack food and water.

How cruel to add more misery to what must already be a nearly unbearable situation for many people in the greater Houston area.

Mayor Turner:  You need to go.  A person with your cruel convictions has no business serving as Mayor.  Or any other elected official, for that matter.

Mary Rae Fouts

August 28, 2017

Hurricanes: If you live in a hurricane-prone region, are you prepared?

Hurricane Harvey has unleashed devastation and misery on Houston, Texas and the surrounding coastal area.  And the worst may be yet to come, with a possible additional 24 inches of rain forecasted through Wednesday.  Dr. Greg Postel, hurricane specialist for The Weather Channel, said flooding in the Houston area "could be the worst flooding disaster in U.S. history."

Houston' Hobby Airport yesterday morning.
Devastation.  Runways flooded.

If you live in a hurricane-prone area, do you have an emergency preparedness plan in the event of a hurricane?  If not, make a plan now now.  Not tomorrow, but today.   The lives of yourself and your loved ones, including pets, just may depend on it.

For more information about hurricane preparedness and safety, visit the Hurricane page at

Mary Rae Fouts

August 25, 2017

Monarch Butterfly: How you can help save this struggling species.

The Monarch Butterfly. 

A stunning diminutive creature weighing a 0.0026 ounce or less, yet with the ability to migrate an amazing 3,000 miles to winter living areas in Mexico and California, including my San Francisco Bay Area. 

The Monarch Butterfly is in serious trouble, with loss of habitat, and loss of essential milkweed and other nectar plants Monarchs rely on for food sources.  The food source loss is greatly impacted by big agriculture's reliance on herbicides (weed killers) such as Roundup, which have wiped out vast areas of milkweed and nectar plant food sources.

But you can help.

Plant a Pollinator-Friendly Garden

The garden does not have to be large; you can help even if you only have room for a few pots on your deck.  Plant a variety of butterfly and bee-friendly plants that will provide food and nectar throughout yearly growing seasons.

Also, don’t be in a rush to dead head your flowers and herbs.  Birds rely on flower and herb seeds for food.  Also, some annual and perennial flowering plants easily reseed, helping create a naturalized garden effect and a new supply of free plants.  And what's not to love about free gardening!

A few of my gardens' pollinator-friendly flowers.

And Don’t Forget to Plant Milkweed

One must-have plant for your garden:  Milkweed.
 In the butterfly stage of life, the Monarch Butterfly obtains food (nectar) from a variety of flowering plants.  However, the Monarch lays its eggs on milkweed plants.   In fact, as explained in this Natural Geographic article
“Monarch butterflies begin life as eggs and hatch as larvae that eat their eggshells and, subsequently, the milkweed plants on which they were placed. (Monarchs are dependent on milkweed plants, which larvae eat nearly exclusively.)”
Many types of milkweed plants exist.  When possible, look for varieties native to your area.  Milkweed can be started with either seeds or plants obtained from your local garden center.

Here is a Monarch Butterfly this month checking out some of my gardens’ milkweed plants.  Beautiful, huh?

Lastly, when planning and taking care of your garden, garden organically to the extent possible.  Do not use pesticides (bug killers) or herbicides (weed killers) in your gardens.  Both can harm the Monarch Butterflies (and other pollinators) as well as their plant-based food sources.  You can read more about pollinator-friendly gardening at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.

Happy gardening, everyone, and thank you for helping the Monarch Butterfly and other pollinators! 

Mary Rae Fouts

August 24, 2017

National Dog Day: How are you going to celebrate?

Admittedly, every day is a Dog Day at my home!  Husky-mix Sid and Chow-mix Lexi are, well, family.  My four legged children.

Husky-mix Sid and Chow-mix Lexi "help" me prepare dinner.
The are resting on their Safe Spot in the kitchen as I cook.
I trained them to remain in this Safe Spot when I am cooking.
Easy to do with treat-based training, although Sid does sometimes
wander off the spot when the food smells really good!
The spot is away from the oven and my knife-using area,
to prevent them from getting hurt.

But on a grander level, National Dog Day is a hop and skip away on August 26.  How will you celebrate?

And remember to always live in the present as do our Faithful Canine Companions, as every day is truly a gift!

Mary Rae Fouts

August 23, 2017

California Drinking Water: The latest tax target.

I swear, nearly everything a person touches in California has a tax or fee associated with it.  What do our esteemed politicians want to tax now?

California's drinking water.

As if our tap water rates were not already high enough, now a state-wide California water tax is being considered.  Then what's next?  Taxing the recycled water my husband hauls for watering our gardens and trees?  Or how about a tax on the air we breath?

Purportedly the tax is necessary to clean up groundwater contaminated by agriculture, primarily in California's agricultural areas.  If agriculture businesses - primarily huge corporate farming operations - caused the contamination, why aren't they forced to pay for clean up?  Yet another bailout, this one funded by the glass of tap water you drink.

Read this East Bay Times article for more information about the proposed tax.

Mary Rae Fouts

August 22, 2017

Puzzles: Put some fun and positive benefits into your life!

Want to add easy fun to your life while also improving your vocabulary, problem solving skills, and brain health?

Say hello to puzzles!

A completed Scrabble board.  Fun!

I am an avid crossword puzzler (which is one of the reasons I subscribe to the New York Times) and Scrabble player.   Oh, and I also enjoy reading the dictionary, doing so becomes addictive and greatly increases your vocabulary.

But let's get back to puzzles.  Crossword, Anagrams, Scrabble, Sudoku, or any other puzzle.  Find puzzles that you enjoy playing, and make playing puzzles part of your daily routine.  Not only will you add fun to your life, but you will enjoy many other positive benefits, including improved brain health.

For more information about the benefits of puzzle playing, visit the Clue Detective Puzzle Agency.

Mary Rae Fouts

August 21, 2017

Homemade Ice Cream: Who said it had to be difficult and time consuming to make?

Photo credit:
Homemade ice cream .... Yum!  Think making this delicious delight has to be a difficult, rock-salt covered, time consuming chore?  Nope.

Check out this easy 3 ingredient Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from USA Pans.  (And by the way, I LOVE their pans, and have 2 of the 1.5 pound pans used in this recipe.)  I plan to make it soon.  This ice cream will be very easy to modify to "make it your own" by adding chocolate chips, Heath bar pieces, crumbled Oreo cookies, or your favorite flavor addition.

Happy cooking and baking, everyone!

Mary Rae Fouts

August 18, 2017

Crayola Crayon: Vote to name the new blue crayon!

Dandelion Crayon, a yellow crayon beloved by many since its introduction in 1990, has been retired.

But for coloring aficionados of all ages, there is a bright spot in the crayon spectrum:

A New Blue Crayon

Yes, a new blue crayon is joining the Crayola Crayon family, and you can help pick its name!

Vote here at Crayola Crayon's website (which is a really cool site, by the way, including free downloadable coloring pages for kids and adults alike) to select your choice from five names:

Blue Moon Bliss
Dreams Come Blue
Reach For The Stars
Star Spangled Blue

You can vote once per day until voting ends on August 31.  My choice?  Bluetiful.  But truly ... or perhaps bluely 😊, the name choices are all great.

So vote for your favorite, and get to coloring!

August 16, 2017

Peace and Harmony: Capture them in your life, just as our Faithful Canine Companions do!

Peace.  Harmony.  They are yours in your life if you want them.

I originally published the post below in July 2016, but with all the violence and anger spewing about today, it's worth another read.

Your life ... including your emotional well-being ... is created in part by what you ... yes, you ... choose to focus and dwell on.  While there is much in life we cannot control, we CAN control our personal focus and values.  Personally, I always say a big no to negativity!  We can all make the world a better place, one little task or kind thought at a time.

Read the original post here, and share your comments below.

My Husky-Malamute Mix Sid!!!

Mary Rae Fouts

August 14, 2017

Big Ben: Famous Clock Shut Down Four Years for Repairs

Bummer.  The world famous 157-year old Big Ben clock in London will be stopped for 4 years for repairs, beginning August 21.

Yes four years.  Four years without Big Ben's towering 315-feet (96 meters) presence, hourly bong, and quarterly chimes to remind you of the time.

Photo credit:
What an environmental, and perhaps emotional, change for people in London who frequent Big Ben's area:  the silence of this stately and ever-present constant, Big Ben.  Not to hear Big Ben's majestic hourly bong, nor his more delicate quarterly chimes.  Not to see his magnificent hands rotating around his captivating face.  However, Big Ben's chimes will be made available for special events, including New Year's Eve.

Read more about this fascinating restoration project in this Guardian article.

Rest east, Big Ben, and look forward to your full return in 4 years!

Mary Rae Fouts

August 10, 2017

Obamacare: What happens if people have no Obamacare health insurance choices?

Obamacare:  What happens if all insurance companies exit the Obamacare marketplace, and people have no Obamacare health insurance choices?

Good question, given the number of insurance companies fleeing the Obamacare marketplace, including Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield.  With Anthem's Nevada exit, 17 Nevada counties currently have no Obamacare health insurance coverage choices for 2018.

And the answer?  Right now, no one knows. The Obamacare law (technically the Affordable Care Act, although the insurance coverage has proven to be anything but affordable for many people) is a mega 961 page document.  But nowhere ... nowhere ... does the law address remedies for consumers who are legally required to purchase Obamacare health insurance coverage, yet cannot do so because no insurance companies offer coverage in their area.

Yes, the politicians who drafted this law thought that scenario would never happen.  They thought insurance companies would be lining up outside the door to provide coverage in the Obamacare insurance exchange, when just the opposite is happening.  And remember, our politicians also assured us that Obamacare consumers would be able to keep their current doctors and health plan, with lower costs to us all.  Turned out to be a bold faced lie.
"If you like the plan you have, you can keep it.  If you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor, too.  The only change you’ll see are falling costs as our reforms take hold."  -- President Barack Obama, June 6, 2009.
Concerns about Health Insurance or Related Obamacare Matters?

Mary Rae Fouts, EA assists clients who have concerns about insurance, tax, and related financial issues.  For more information about Mary's Tax, Consulting, and Expert Witness Services visit Fouts Financial Group.  She welcomes your call at (510) 421-5457 or email to

Mary Rae Fouts

August 9, 2017

Anthem pulling out of many Obamacare markets, including the entire state of Nevada.

What a mess.

If you have health insurance coverage through Obamacare (technically the Affordable Care Act), your coverage options continue to decrease, access to doctors and hospitals continues to decrease, while premiums continue to increase.  Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield (Anthem Blue Cross in California) is fleeing the Obamacare marketplace, leaving some counties with no Obamacare insurance options in 2018.

Consumers deserve much better.  Obamacare is a mess, and has been from the start.

Read this Business Insider article for more information about Nevada's Obamacare plight.  I welcome your call at (925) 979-9972 or email to if you have questions about health insurance matters.

Mary Rae Fouts

August 7, 2017

Foxtails can be deadly for dogs ... Here are some safety tips.

Foxtails.  They are nasty!
Foxtails.  The dangerous, spring-through-autumn threat for our Faithful Canine Companions in the Western part of the United States.

What are foxtails?  They are grasses with seed awns (see photo) capable of boring into a dog's body ... ears, eyes, nose, paws, belly, you name it.  Foxtails can be dangerous for dogs, to the point of deadly.  With the heavy winter rains in the San Francisco Bay Area, foxtails grew with great abundance and are simply terrible this year.

Click on the Canine Foxtail Safety post below for more information.

Mary Rae Fouts

August 2, 2017

Got Physics? Planetary Protection Officer Position Open at NASA.

Who says science is boring?  If you have an advanced degree in physics, this job just may be for you:  

Planetary Protection Officer at NASA.

Job responsibility?  

To ascertain that Earth's space travel does not contaminate outer space, and conversely to insure any celestial bodies do not contaminate Earth.

How Cool is That?  A real life Defender of Earth!  And a nice six figure salary - up to $287,000 - plus benefits, to boot.

And to think this job was created when the United States ratified the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 ... yes, 50 years ago.  Click on the Business Insider post below for more information.

Mary Rae Fouts