Sunday, April 13, 2014

WILDFLOWER GOODBYE

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My friend Jan and I went to see wild flowers when we veered to Jackson. Here they are in an album along with those from Tuolumne County. Hope you enjoy them. This will probably be my last blog until I return from Turkey. Much to do. Can’t wait to share my photos from Istanbul and the countryside.  Hope we have good weather.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

HANGTOWN FRY.

Blogging about Jackson history yesterday put me in mind of Placerville, which was known as Hangtown in the old days. And, I had a visual reminder as well, this coin.
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Many stories exist on how this name was acquired, the most famous story involved a colorful event that occurred in January of 1849. A gambler named Lopez gained a lot of attention for his big winnings at a local saloon. After he retired for the evening, several men tried to overpower him. Lopez fought back, and with the help of others, the robbers were captured. During their "flogging", three of the robbers were also accused of being wanted for a murder and robbery.
With no more evidence than that, a short 30 minute trial took place and a unanimous "guilty" verdict was given. The crowd demanded that the men be sentenced to "death by hanging" and the rest was history. The famous hanging tree once stood in Elstner’s Hay Yard, next to the Jackass Inn. Today, the original stump from the old tree remains in the cellar of "The Hangman’s Tree" tavern on Historic Main Street.  (Information from Placerville Historical So.)
By other accounts, there were plenty of hangings in Hangtown over gold disputes and disreputable characters, gamblers, con men taking advantage of local miners claims.
  By 1850, the temperance league and a few local churches had begun to request that a more friendly name be bestowed upon the town. The name was changed in 1854 when the City of Placerville was incorporated. At its incorporation Placerville was the third largest town in California. In 1857 the county seat was then moved from Coloma to Placerville, where it remains today.
There you have it, but my own memories of moving to the Mother Lode was eating my first Hangtown Fry. It was a delightfully, greasy sandwich filled with fried onions, green peppers and oysters to which you could add steak sauce or Worcestershire and lettuce on a hard french roll. Yum. I've made them at home. The key is not to overcook the oysters.
But, I've learned since there is a legend behind the Hangtown Fry.
Legend has it that a 49'er hit a glory hole, an incredibly rich pocket of gold nuggets. He walked into the El Dorado Hotel restaurant in Hangtown, now Placerville California, and asked the waiter what was the most expensive item on the menu. The waiter answered that would be one of three things, oysters, which were tinned and shipped all the way from Boston, Bacon, which was scarce, and Eggs, which were also scarce and hard to get to the Motherlode without breaking in a bumpy stage-coach ride.  The prospector answered, fix them all on one plate and bring it to me.
Another story claims it was a prisoners last dinner and he chose items hard to get to delay his hanging because it took several weeks to get oysters. Though available in San Francisco bay, they would spoil and had to come around the horn in cans.  So was born the 'Hangtown Fry'.
It was a San Francisco Restaurant that named it and kept it on their menu for 160 years. I don't even know if you can buy one in Placerville. But, there are many variations on that dish, as omelet and a sandwich. Keeping the oysters tender. Coat them in flour, saute in butter, then pour the eggs over last. All manner of herbs can be added. And, restaurants continually refine and add to the Hangtown Fry.
There you have it folks. Enjoy.

Friday, April 11, 2014

THE OLDEST PROFESSION.

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My  friend Jan, and I, took a ride out toward Jackson to see a rugged wall of wild flowers along the river. We tripped on seven miles more into Jackson to be tourists for a couple of hours.
We stopped to read the above plaque embedded in the sidewalk which refers to the wild west type of politicking, rough and deadly. Jackson is in Amador County, but at one time Jackson was part of Calaveras County. Mokelumne Hill is still part of Calaveras Co. The two towns are across the Calaveras River from each other.
The plaque reminded me of other heart-shaped plaques that lined the Main Street of Jackson commemorating a more shady history of the gold rush, the buildings that were once bordellos. The idea being the plaques would  bring more tourists to town. Some people thought it was too risqué and a little war raged over the plaques until  they were removed and peace reigned. I was surprised when Jan had never heard of them. Nor had the owner of the olive oil place.
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She met the owner of this business, and visited her ranch a long time ago. We asked several business owners on the street and the answer was “No way!”  “Never heard of it.”
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We walked along looking for where there might have been a plaque and found several scraggly heart-shaped sidewalk patches, but none quite as obvious as this one next to the Jackson Hotel. The owner, Sam, was a supporter of the plaques and it is possible the plaque is still hiding under the patch. ONE hotel employee knew of the plaques and told us to go to Fargo, the bar across the street. They saved a plaque that now hangs on their wall.
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It might have been the ERECTIONS word that offended some of the towns people, instead of saying erected in 1968. But, this one is the only one left in town. Another is in a restaurant and bar in the town of Volcano, nine miles from Jackson.
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Fargo flaunts their former history.
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This is a portrait of Miss Kitty. I have no idea if the history they flaunt is accurate or not, or if there was a Miss Kitty. But, the bartender at Fargo knew all about the plaque’s history.
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I thought this is a good time to publish pictures of my coin collection. They are for sale at the Bathroom Machineries Store in Murphys. I thought they were fun.
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I don’t know if any of these coins came from Jackson Bordellos, but they were definitely used during the gold rush. One I have is from nearby Placerville, or Hangtown as it was called then. DSC04361 (Copy) (Copy)

When you hang out with Jan, you are bound to get in trouble. She said, “Let’s sign our names to this one.”  Yeah, sure. I’m not bailing you out of jail when you get arrested for defacing property.
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She didn’t sign her own name, but I can honestly say the rains will soon take care of the graffiti. And, there probably was a “girl” name Mary in one of those places. It is an old name.

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We shared a beer at Fargo. Tasted some delicious, flavored olive oils. Looked at pretty stained glass. Tourists to the core. Jan reminded me about visiting a gold rush town in Alaska that had a shop called “The House Of Negotiable Affections.” (Where men and fish spawn for sperm.) Hey, its life.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

ROADSIDE WILDFLOWERS.

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The late rains have brought out the wildflowers and we thought it would be a shame to miss them with the lens. So out, we went. I admire every year this knobby hilltop when it get's taken over by swaths of white and yellow in its green meadows.
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We crossed the bridge to Tuolumne County and noticed the swaths of purple taking over the barren banks of the reservoir.
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The purple is most likely a combo of lupines and purple vetch, above. The lupines are big and showy this year.DSC04301 (Copy)

And they seem to like the same soil as these small yellow California poppies.
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It seems so sweet of them to cover ugly spots and beautify the scraggliest places along the road. Wouldn't we feel cheated without them in the spring?
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A close up of the poppy blanket.
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Here and there is this orange flower.
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Some pretty blue bells.
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And a buttery yellow flower that grows bushlike.
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Two types of insignificant, tiny, white flowers cover the forest floor.
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Unless you look closely, you don't notice the difference.
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What they lack in size they make up for in numbers. These tiny beauties can cover acres of ground on a hillside, and make themselves tall in the shade of trees.
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Looking back at the river from our hillside perch, we saw about five red tail hawks combing the area for food.
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Graceful wings, just there to offer more beauty to our day.
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Man made signs, have  beauty too.  We returned to Calaveras County, a day well spent. Tomorrow, I'll try and figure out how to provide a  slide show of all the pictures. It will probably be my last blog before leaving for Turkey. I heard from our guide today and his information has rearranged my packing and what I will bring.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Yesterday, I printed out all my paperwork associated with my trip. Copies of credit cards, insurance papers and so on. I make a copy of everything important for my grandson to carry with his things. The idea is if your suitcase gets lost, you have the numbers and information in his luggage. And, his information is in my luggage should his get lost. It is a precaution we hope we won't need, of course.

Then I read about the clothing requirements, or suggestions,  as I prepared to select what I would take with me.  In the country, men and women do not wear sleeveless shirts or shorts. Women cover their hair. In mosques, if you do not have proper attire, you must rent it or stay out of the mosque.

In the cities, one can get by with showing knees, or even a sleeveless shirt, but it is still considered rather impolite to go out in public "improperly" dressed. Boys do not typically wear shorts. They wear trousers. I'd forgotten how much importance is placed on what we wear.

It wasn't too long ago that women wore house dresses. The first time my mother came home with a pair of "slacks", it was war at her house. She wore her slacks until they were thin and then used them to make a rug which I still have. She wore house dresses most of her life and only rarely reverted to "pants."  For my generation it was giving up nylons at church and at work. I still had to wear a hat to church as a kid. Not until I met a firebrand teacher in fifth grade, was I allowed to wear anything but skirts and long stockings over long underwear to school. Boys had warm legs, we girls had to freeze. She let us wear "Jeans" which we did at home, by then, on the farm. Oh, how we adored her.

That was reversed when we moved back to Escanaba. We were required to wear long stockings, (no Jeans)  to school for seventh and eighth grades. By the time I arrived at school in the winter, my hands were so stiff with cold, I had to warm my hands before I could open my combination lock to my locker.

Now, though it is inconvenient and seems silly to me, I make it a point to obey the dress codes of the countries I travel in.  Each non-westernized country is so unique and interesting, I’m glad that I got to see the colorful clothing of the Inca peoples of Peru. And the folk music and dance costume of Costa Ricans, and that I learned to tie a piece of fabric that covers a man or a woman from head to toe without buttons to assist keeping it in place.

On our boat, we can only wear boat shoes or socks or bare feet. And, there is no electrical connections on the small boat we sail for a short time. I finally have taken the time to be excited about my upcoming trip, and can enjoy it through the printed word, first.

Today, Jim and I are going to go out and look for wildflowers in bloom and stop and take pictures.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

LIFE IS BUSY, DUTY CALLS.

Since I’ve been absent these pages, Jim thinks I should let people know what is going on in my life.
There is before taxes and now, after, taxes. Pre-trip details to ready. Also working on a new computer, and a new printer. The printer had to be shipped back. It weighs 45 pounds!!
I’ve been taking pictures of items I’ve purchased to place with receipts because my insurance will not cover them without receipts, should something happen. One of those things a person should do as you go, but I didn’t.
Also fielding the progress and problems with building a new place in Oregon.
Getting ready to leave for my trip to Turkey, means my housemate must be ready to take care of things while I’m gone. Jim will move on after I leave.
I’m also intent upon scanning pictures from my trip to Africa and Portugal and Spain and getting those old trips ready to blog. (Haven’t started yet.)  Some of the pictures, and experiences were pretty fantastic.  I think the accident made me realize how short life is and if you really want to do something, better get at it.
Now you know.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

THE 99 CENT STORE DIET

I’m a fan of John Tesh who provides a radio segment several times a day called Intelligence For Your Life.
He has a staff of researchers who read through scientific journals and studies;  magazines that specialize in cooking, nutrition, gardening, parenting, counseling, home place and work place advice, relationships, marriage, school… I’ve heard him weigh in on topics such as cigarette damage from third- hand smoke (just recently), resumes, how to handle problems on the job, how to get a job and so on.
He happens to be on our local station Star 92 at 92.7 on my radio dial. If you are interested, his archive of “intelligence” is located on his website at:
http://www.intelligenceforyourlife.com

I heard him yesterday talk about a guy who lost over 250 pounds on the 99 Cent Store Diet.  I went to the dentist and my hygienist sent ME to the 99 cent store for some fuzzy toothpicks. So, while I was there, I looked around at what Tesh was talking about.
First the diet:
What this guy did was eat omelets with spinach or some type of vegetables for breakfast.
For a snack, he’d have yoghurt and fruit.
For lunch he’d eat whole grain bread sandwiches with canned chicken or tuna.
And for dinner he chose beans and rice with a small amount of meat, and a salad. Or soups with vegetables and beans with very little meat.  He avoided ANY sugar. No sugar at all, which is hard to do. In two years, he took off over 250 pounds, cured his diabetes, lowered his blood pressure so he didn’t have to take drugs and he bought everything from the 99 Cent Store because it is cheap.

Well, not all 99 cent stores carry fresh vegetables and eggs, but most have canned meats and vegetables. I expect the someone locally could vary his/her diet a bit with fresh veggies and a choice of fresh meats. And, it can certainly be done cheaply, even for a family or individual on  food stamps. I know, because I have a close friend that is temporarily on food stamps. Or the SNAP card, as it is called, and she eats healthfully.
When Jim and I are out on the road, we do shop some at 99 Cent stores and they have some wonderful stuff. I wouldn’t do it on a regular basis because I read labels and the chemicals are enough to turn you away from canned and packaged goods in the discount grocers and 99 cent stores. But, cheap, fresh produce, and the healthy improvement is worth the temporary, and yes, I’m calling a two-year program, temporary risks, of canned chemicals until your weight is under control.

I don’t often feel I need Tesh’s advice, since it is aimed at much younger people for the most part, but, it validates my thoughts on a subject; he dispenses common sense; and I never fail to learn something new from John Tesh. That’s  why I’m a fan.

Monday, March 31, 2014

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH OLD BOOKS?

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I have some old books and the book seller came by yesterday. He left with about 10 books and gave me $10.  More contemporary stuff. My old stuff, well, none of it is first edition, or signed or in great shape, or by famous authors. There are millions of books out there I’ve learned.  With the internet you can get some I have for a penny each. I was feeling a bit disappointed yesterday after this nice, honest gentleman left, but my old stuff is precious to me and I can only give it away to someone who would really appreciate it. And, a buck here and a buck there  does not express appreciation to me.  This old poultry book has gold gilt on the cover and page edges. Inside are beautiful artist plates of beautiful chickens.  The book is in very worn shape. Valueless.
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This lovely book of poetry/philosophy fits into that same category.  I went out on the internet and looked for things to do with old books, thinking I’d find some fun, preservational way to use them.  I found ideas like tear out the pages and make a bird house, or make paper roses from the pages, sprayed to shine. Or cut out a portion of an illustration and make jewelry. Fun ideas, but they don’t preserve a book. I began to think that some of the covers I have would make great floor tiles or insulation glued to my storage shed walls. But, what about these old beauties?
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Well, this morning I went to on-line booksellers and looked at books. ABE.books has videos on books with gilt, embroidered covers, and other beauties that people covet. I decided that those I love should be treasured and displayed. It gave me heart. And, I found another site with ideas on using old books. I long ago learned to make wallpaper out of magazines. I’m not ready to part with these or some of the more contemporary books I have that can serve another use.  I guess the answer to my question is appreciate them.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

KING HENRY THE VIII

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My friend Pam set me up with a book buyer because I have a lot of books. He comes from San Francisco and looks over your collections to possibly buy some that you have. I began to look at my books from a different point of view. This one about King Henry The VIII, by Neville Williams made me rethink King Henry because the  book is written with a more personal and kinder view of him. It is easy to get stuck with the historic view of what a terrible person he was to have wives and friends beheaded, and that he died of syphilis, which he didn’t. Not that beheading wives and creating the Church of England to wage a divorce were very honorable actions, but he was a very special king in many other ways. People of the times were motivated, especially royalty, by other factors than those we or his people faced. I guess what I’m trying to say is he wasn’t ALL bad. He was generous and intelligent and wanted to learn, in his younger days. The last 20 years of his life were pain filled from an injury that ulcerated his leg and eventually killed him. He was sour and mistrusting as he aged by the intrigues and manipulations of those around him who were set on protecting their own powers and favor.
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And, because he was a king, there were many beautiful paintings in the book that I relish and enjoyed viewing. This one is just a small part of a full-page of pageantry. The wonderful celebrations and attention made of the King gave people better entertainment than television.  His peasants, who stood by the road to get a glimpse of him and his court, were enthralled. And, this king could ride through his kingdom without secret service people or a bulletproof glass to protect him, in beautiful fresh, unpolluted air.  It was interesting to think about those times and will the mind back to a royal society and what beauty it created, while also temporarily putting aside the cruelty of the times and understand how he could convince himself that several wives were not legally his wives.

It was a beautiful rainy day and we spent most of it home. But Jim’s Bronco needs a new transmission. Not good news.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

GO BINS.

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Our society is a throw-away society. Clothing clots the second-hand stores and everyone tends to wear an item once and toss it in the wash. The idea of wearing a pair of jeans for three or more days is foreign to young people. I not only wear my pants for a week, if they are clean, but T-shirts two or three days as well. If I’m out and about, I change, but to work around the house? It seems practical to me to do less washing and wear my clothing until it gets dirty. It lasts longer and doesn’t get washed to death. It saves water.
I’ve complained in this blog about truck loads of clothing and useable items being dumped into the landfill by a second-hand store manager. When I asked him why he doesn’t offer it to people for free, he said to me:  “You take care of your business and I’ll take care of mine.”
The economy has changed considerably since then. I was pleased to learn that Goodwill has put GO BINS in apartment complexes and other public places for people to unload their unwanted clothing and useable hard goods conveniently. And, in Calaveras County, where clothing was dumped in the landfill,  the county supervisors decided to approve the idea of deposit boxes in shopping centers with the same intent in mind. They used to have them, but they became messy as people rummaged through things and tossed stuff all over the parking lot. I don’t know how they intend to prevent that from happening. The Go Bins have a sensor telling when they are full.  Here,  I think they should do like Telluride, Colorado, and put up a shelving unit marked FREE. Like a bulletin board, people can bring or take things. What doesn’t get taken can be removed to a second-hand store or shipped overseas to countries that accept such goods. Waste is waste, and kids (and adults) might catch on to the benefits of not wasting stuff. Why not start a local factory producing rugs and quilts and insulation from unwanted fabric?  I’ve seen it done by volunteers all over the U.S. It can work here.