Wednesday, December 31, 2014

TURNING OVER A NEW YEAR.

It is a marvelous feeling to look back on a year and find good things among the inevitable sorrows. I can say with certainty that good health is a giant totem along with grandchildren who live and learn well that life is what you put into it, brings me great joy. Grandchildren are the frosting to match the silver in my hair. Friends are gold without which life would be tarnished. I can truthfully say my cup runneth over.
I will toast all of you tonight as I hoist a glass with my son and daughter-in-law, even if the end of this year was a bummer and a lesson learned.

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I received this packet from the postmaster with ruined Christmas cards and bills ransacked for checks, then tossed on Sheep Ranch Road, found there, and returned to me. It is a federal offense to steal from a postal box and I will contact them this morning. Don't know if they will bother to lift  a print from paper. I'll let you know. What I learned, is never to put checks in my mail box at Christmas time. And, I'm grateful they were found so my friends don't wonder why they didn't hear from me. It took over two hours at the bank to get my account changed. If they hadn't been found, I wouldn't have known and my account information could have been sold to some professionals.

But on to the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship, but never in want. (Traditional.)

I love toasts and here are a few fun ones:
As you slide down the bannister of life, may all the splinters point in the wrong direction!

Here is one bottle for the four of us. Thank God there's no more of us.

Bless oh Lord, these delectable vittles
May they go to your head and not to your middles.
Here's to the bottle that holds a store of imprisoned joy and laughter,

Here's to the bottle, many more bottles, and others to follow after

(But, don't rack up too many.) 
Happy New Year

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

SOLVING THE PLASTIC PROBLEM



Those handy, dandy, flimsy plastic bags are going to be forever banned in grocery stores and I for one am going to miss the little suckers. Not that I use them for groceries, I have my own heavy-duty canvas bags that are so much more efficient and practical.  My major grocery store keeps a recycle bin in front of the store. I reach in and grab a gob of used bags and line my garbage cans with them. They are great for picking up dog pop and other nasty chores.

 Of course we all know that plastic bags end up in the rivers and oceans and cause a horrible situation for wildlife. Mine go to the landfill.

Now, will people graduate to paper bags?  They don’t kill wildlife, but paper bags use billions of trees every year.  35% of trees cut world-wide are used in the paper industry, 4 billion trees.  They continually replant trees for the paper industry, but manufacturing them causes 70% more chemical pollution than plastic bags, just another damaging environmental process.

Ta dah!!!  Here comes super plant to the rescue—–HEMP!
http://www.hempbasics.com/shop/hemp-information

The above link gives you in-depth information about hemp, its value and what countries produce it for commercial products, etc. and etc.
But, here are some basic facts about hemp you might want to think about:
According to the Department of Energy, hemp requires the least specialized growing and processing procedures for all hemp products. (And there are many.) Hemp can be grown organically. Hemp is also a natural weed suppressor due to fast growth of the canopy.
Hemp produces more pulp per acre than timber on a sustainable basis, and can be used for every quality of paper. Hemp paper manufacturing can reduce waste water contamination. Hemp’s low lignin content reduces the need for acids used in pulping, and its creamy color lends itself to environmentally-friendly bleaching instead of harsh chlorine compounds.

 Hemp fiber paper resists decomposition, and does not yellow with age when an acid-free process is used. Hemp paper more than 1,500 years old has been found. Hemp paper can also be recycled more times than wood-based paper.
 Hemp fiberboard produced by Washington State University was found to be twice as strong as wood-based fiberboard. No additional resins are required due to naturally-occurring lignins.

Okay, that’s the basics. Besides, hemp doesn’t make you high and the seeds are nutritious and higher in protein than soy products. Hey, what’s not to like?  It’s a no brainer.  Do you think if we wrote our congressional representatives they would subsidize hemp?  No, the current paper industry would buy them off. I’m sooooooo cynical. But, we might be able to prod our governor into action in California.

Monday, December 29, 2014

A LOW KEY CHRISTMAS

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I know, I know, Christmas is over. I've been distracted and busy with long neglected upkeep around my place. I got tired of cleaning gutters and I had a company install gutter guards.  Now I have a leak right in front of my front door. They've been back twice to fix things. Maybe by next week it will get fixed  Luckily Christmas was very low key. I put a wreath on the door. The tree in front of my living room window, undecorated.
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In the dining room I set up some decorated mini-trees They stay decorated in the box. With one string of lights in the living room window and another facing the street. That was it.
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Neighbors, Ron and Suzy asked me over for Christmas Eve for snacks and wine. His sports room his filled with neon lights and the whole place turns red.
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He has a huge collection of sports pennants and about a dozen neon beer signs, bottles and related items. It is a fun hobby and the whole room lights up like a Christmas tree.
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Christmas Day was at my son, Ken's. A real, live, nice smelling tree. Still low key with their family of four, my brother, Bill, Doug and I.
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Doug managed to get the plumbing contractor in and out, the siding finished, the house locked up and came home for Christmas. He said he was growing webs on his feet in all the wet and muck. He was lucky to get over the pass before it snowed. And, grateful for his own bed.
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Theresa and brother Clark stopped by for half an hour, to wish us a merry Christmas before they went to her daughter's family in Acampo to spend the day.
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I didn't take many pictures, nor did I bake even one cookie. Laurie did a variety and Doug took time to bake his usual cookies. Plus we decided upon a Cajun Christmas with Laurie's Jambalaya recipe, I made chicken and sausage gumbo, some red beans and rice. And, then there was the famous boudin.
When we made it, the first batch was so tasty, it never got as far as the casings. Ken, Laurie, the boys and I ate the whole batch for dinner that night. So the ingredients were right and tasty, but in the casing, the sausage was too dry and we didn't put in all of the rice which gave the ground meat a gritty texture.  I guess it takes experience to make boudin. I took some home, put it in salad, soup and mixed it with potatoes and onions as a stir fry and it was very tasty. Laurie also experimented and used it with with other ingredients and pronounced it "delicious."
We played cards into the evening, and enjoyed the game of Phase 10 and Elevator.
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Both my grandsons, Stewart and Mason are talented graphic artists. Stewart is branching out and made this self portrait entirely with dots.
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He likes cartooning and grew up on Calvin and Hobbs, his fav.
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He is developing his own cartoon strip and I think he has a web-page. Since I can't even draw a tree, I'm very admiring.
Today, I pick out paint colors for the new house.
Tomorrow, Virginia and her family return from Australia, via Vietnam, and points East.
Kristanne and her family stayed in with the flu and had no plans to make it to Calaveras County for Christmas.
Like I said, low key. New Years parties are, as my husband used to say, are for amateurs. We attended a few where there was no driving. He peeled a couple of dead drunks off the road as a cop and shunned New Year parties. Besides, he liked the early morning after parade and the football games.  Ciao, for now.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS CARDS.

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Christmas cards trend toward themes. Popular at one time are replicas of old-fashioned cards. So familiar are Currier and Ives, small snowy towns, people sledding through the snow. This one is a famous painting and charming. (Not Currier and Ives.)
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This is also a painting. The clothing shows the affluence these children enjoyed, reflecting their times.
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A famous Madonna painting. There are so many beautiful paintings of the Madonna in museums all over the world and many of them are replicated on Christmas Cards.
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What would Christmas be without an angel?
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Or thoughts of peace and good will?
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Also from a painting, these happy children playing in the snow.
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A more contemporary vision of children playing in the snow.
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Something warm and fuzzy.
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This is my favorite. It much reflects the era of my childhood. The kids of all ages, a couple of them playing on the floor, the boy reading in his socks with his feet up on a book, apples on the tree, showing your treasures to grandpa. The homey pictures on the bureau. The girls are wearing those awful long stockings I hated so much growing up in a winter clime.
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A touch of humor. Birds, animals and nature play heavily on Christmas cards.
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This one is such a sweet tickle. It also shows another tradition; we decorate and light up trees in our yards.
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Famous artists lend their skills to a Christmas card.
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A Christmas tree can be almost anything.
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I read in Smithsonian where it took a long time for Christmas trees to catch on. Now, a Christmas never goes by without a card with a Christmas tree of some kind on it.
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I liked this lovely message. Some are old worn out clich├ęs.
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Christmas caroling is something not many people do anymore, but Christmas has its own special music, evolving year by year. But the old songs never go away.
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A popular song clings to us for years and here we see a popular song in this card, "...the partridge in a pear tree."
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A Christmas card can be whatever you make it. And here I have to salute a local artist, Bambi Papais. She and her sister Judie are both terrific artists admired and locally renowned. So with that in mind, I hope you've enjoyed my rummage through my box of Christmas cards from 1992.
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Happy holidays.
Mary

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

CHRISTMAS CARD COLLECTION

I dropped some stuff off at a Thrift store, including a couple of packets of free Christmas cards that charities send you for a donation.  The attendant said to me, "We have so many cards. It is a shame, people don't send Christmas cards anymore. They use on-line cards. It's the young people. I miss real cards." I told her I like "real" cards, too but explained I don't send as many as I used to and I do the same on-line. Now, I'm ever more grateful I insanely kept every card that was ever sent to me, to my mother, and other family members. I picked up a box from 1992 and randomly looked through it. I found humorous cards depicting Santa as an ordinary guy with hobbies and a very "dad" like personality.
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Love the sunglasses and guitar.
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You would have never seen a Santa like this motorcycle dude in the 1950's or 60's.

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Or an upscale golfer, then, either. Things have changed. Santa has hobbies and reflects everything we do.
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And, of course his reindeer are his best buddies
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The whole gang jogs together, can't forget the elves.
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They commiserate
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...they celebrate
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...and settle in for a bit of football and a nap. Just like dad.
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I couldn't resist including this rapper themed card. I thought, has rap music been around that long? I guess so. I'm remembering a Santa flying in a helicopter, using a taxi, and riding a train. Don't remember what year those cards came out. But, it is kind of fun to see Santa in personal pursuits after his job is done.  Tomorrow, I'll post some traditional cards from my collection.
Merry Christmas everyone.
 

Monday, December 22, 2014

SONORA ELKS CLUB OPEN HOUSE

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I missed most of the Christmas events I usually attend so I was determined to get to my Elks Club Open House. The food was excellent.
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The bar was suitably busy. The bartender is a member volunteer, and he had his hands full.
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Everyone seemed happy and full of Christmas spirit. The guy with the smile is just recently engaged to be married. His fiance is not in the picture.
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Our club is lucky to have Lynn, a piano player who always provides music for every event, every dinner. Any club would be lucky to have a guy like him.  A fairly new member revealed her exceptional voice and sang beautifully.
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Because I travel so much, I forget peoples names. I recognize faces and people who have been welcoming and nice to me.
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Our club is very active and you look around and figure, someone put a lot of time and effort into decorating our hall.
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And, while I forget names, I never forget my sponsor, he goes by the honiker "Skip Ahoy". Also an officer of the club. He and his wife contribute a great amount of time and effort to Elks, and I admire them both.
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My table mate is also a newer member and an officer. He used to be a computer tech. He said "I got tired of fixing people's computer problems, so now I teach at Columbia College and show people how to fix their own."  His wife and daughter left early. He stayed for the clean-up.
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It had been awhile since I drove over the river to Tuolumne County.  The reservoir is shockingly low, down below the foundation attachment to the bridge.
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Visible is the straight line of the old road that took the driver to a small bridge over the river then the road climbed back up to the other side. The canyon was flooded by Mellones Dam under protest from the locals who liked their wild and scenic river. I enjoyed the twisty road and the canyon, and most of all river rafting. Those things are gone, but the reservoir certainly provided valuable water to communities below us with water they wouldn't have had.
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The tops of once live trees stick up above the surface of the water and the whole canyon is now unsafe for boating. We do complain about the rain because it is wet and cold, but we don't complain too hard. We need that rain for the snow pack and hope we have a normal year.
Today, I'm planning to hunker down and get some Christmas cards out. I know-it is last minute but this has been one of the busiest times at home, with friends in need, and more on my plate than normal. We are promised a non-rain day, with some clouds and a bit of sun. Nice.