Sunday, January 31, 2016


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We all lose loved ones and we know it is hard to bear.  My friend Sharon lost her husband, mother and sister in a period of six weeks. She meets with a grieving group. She has many friends in her church and several nearby family members. Those connections play a huge part in healing. Some people have more difficulty than others and have fits of despair. I try to keep her laughing.

We went to what she heard was a good movie, thinking funny and full of laughter. It was a good movie, full of dysfunctional family, struggle for achievements and in the end a success story. The name of the movie was Joy, about a woman inventor. Empowering in its way, but funny  it was not. Still, stepping out, enjoying a burrito bowl afterwards at Firewood in Murphys, certainly entertained both of us enough to decide we should do it more often. I've promised myself.  Ciao

Saturday, January 30, 2016


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My friend, Paul Moeller is in a physical therapy unit in Sonora after a fall that broke his femur at the hip. He is 88 years old. I met him in 1980 when he was putting together a calendar of local activities and events to promote interest in the county. He did this as a volunteer and he came to visit my writer's workshop. I had a batch of kittens at the time, and he took one of them home for his wife.

In 1982, he asked for volunteers to videotape events in the county and I answered the call. I later joked, that once he got his grip on you, there was no escape. Hardworking, indomitable, always a positive thinker, results is to his vision and credit, a small rural county has a Public Access Studio while large cities like Stockton and Modesto do not.
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The Paul Moeller Studio was built by all we volunteers on an undeveloped lot owned by the Calaveras County Water District.  The CCWD Board granted permission for the studio out of respect for Moeller's  dedication and hard work. He taped the North Fork dam, a federal project with CCWD as one of the integral water interests involved. The video taping continued for over a year during that project.

The County Board of Supervisors named the Studio after Moeller years later as a thankful honorarium. He has so many visitors, people at the rehabilitation center, ask,"Is he famous?"  We laugh and say, "yes."
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Yesterday, I met with Ed Lark, the studio manager and Robert Creamer, an engineer from CCWD. Our volunteer group is negotiating to buy the land under the studio which involves separating the "back lot" from the rest of CCWD property. They want to sell their old office buildings. They've moved to new quarters but our interests are tied together.
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It involves, relocating water lines, surveying and conveying a new lot, access to the property that doesn't go through the front part of their lot and so on.  Negotiations have been ongoing  since 2005. There are three volunteers left. None of us do programming anymore. Government works slowly. I rarely visit the studio for any length of time, but yesterday, I wanted to tromp the property and see for myself what the engineer had in mind.
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The engineer is very knowledgeable and accommodating and I got an education in planning. While interesting to me, probably boring to anyone else. But, the way the studio was built is an  unconventional story.

We had no funds so we charged $60 to put a program on channel. That money came from local businesses. There was no advertising, but the sponsors got credit for supporting each program. We operated that way for about ten years.

Moeller and a  supportive business man, Mearl Lucken, talked the bank into giving us a loan to build our studio.  The plan was for the Bret Harte High School woodshop class to build the studio labor free, for their education. When the foundation was done, school was over, the kids disappeared and Moeller decided we had to have a new plan.

The economy was in a slump. Enter local contractor Gary Hensley from Valley Springs. He had very little work. He quizzed Moeller about how much money he made from CCTV. When he learned that Moeller and all 230 volunteers, received nary a penny, he agreed to build the studio. His crew of five came early each morning, and worked for half a day. Volunteers handed up boards as the studio rose.
They made the workers lunch. It was a jolly time.
The inside, sheet rock, plumbing and air conditioning and so on, was done by contractors who worked for reduced prices to support our non-profit. The complicated electrical was done by Moeller himself.   The rest, as they say, is history. An amazing community effort.   What keeps me involved is respect for Moeller, and knowing that he accomplished all the above by dint of his personality and at the same time, he did other volunteer work in the county as well. Indefatigable.

Friday, January 29, 2016


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Restaurants really have to be good to make it. Sidewinders, in Angels Camp, just got new owners. I had to make a bunch of copies and I had errands ahead of me in town and hunger drove me to a quick lunch.
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I ordered the grilled chicken sandwich, believing it would be served on a cheap hamburger bun from the waitresses description. To my surprise, a quality roll, a tender, tangy grilled chicken breast with crisp condiments. A condiment bar allows you to add whatever. Very tasty. Sides are by choice, I could have chosen coleslaw, beans, or other items rather than cottage cheese and fruit.
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A rarity for fast food, fresh flowers on every table.
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Angels Camp has a couple of these old buildings with stone walls.
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The stone is not only beautiful, but cool in hot summers. Sidewinders has a basement and plenty of room and charm. Though you order from the counter, they bring your food to you and the owner, Stacy Piersons was attentive and service oriented, checking to see if all was good. Really nice. It was fast, good and comfortable. Just what I needed.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


Many of you, me too, get emails about scams.  Is a scammer committing fraud? I'm learning a hard lesson because I've been duped. There is surprisingly little help for my situation, though fraud is definitely at work here. To me, most scammers are so obvious, I'd never fall victim to their tricks.

Here is what happened to me.
While on my email, a side bar had an ad for a wrinkle cream, recommended by Dr. Oz, a famous television personality. I don't watch his show, but I know of him. His picture was on the video ad showing the testimonials and visible changes from users that showed quite credible results. Trial order, free, just pay shipping and handling of $8.99. I decide to try it knowing that shipping and handling cover the cost of the cream. Legitimate companies do this because they believe in their product and figure if you like it you will buy it again.

I fill out the order form and enter my credit card info and instantly a new screen pops up and reads people who buy our skin cream also like our eye cream. Do you want to try it? I check the NO button and I'm not even sure it registered before the screen disappears and I'm left with nothing. No tracking number, no confirmation that I bought anything. Nor the name of the company. Gone. I go back to look for the ad, and can't find it. I think, oh well, some glitch, I'll probably not get anything.
Both creams arrive and I decide to pay for the eye cream and not worry about it since I don't know the name of the company to send it back to. The creams are each under an ounce and are made by Aurora, not the company I ordered from.
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I've had eye cream, that came in a squat jar and, without reading the labels, I used the spray bottle, as face cream instead of eye cream.  It peeled the skin off my face, like any acid peel. My God, had I used it on my eyes....I'd be in a serious lawsuit. My skin product of choice is Thymes Lavendar skin lotion for my face.  It is a wonderful product. I can no longer get it locally which is why I decided to try this online cream.
Then, I get my Mastercard bill.
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Never in  my life would I pay $89.71 cents for less than an ounce of skin cream. Thymes is about $20 for 8.75 ounces. I use Aloe Vera Crystal Clear Gel at night, $13 for 20 ounces. It is a healing lotion and makes my skin feel like silk. I buy it in Oregon. At one time I could buy it at Longs Drug store. I'm sure I could find it in California if I looked hard enough.
I have prepaid Legal Shield. My attorney explains the company is guilty of fraud for using Dr. Oz's name. That is HIS issue, not mine. They will send a collection letter to them on my behalf.
Barclay Master Card resolution team says, once I agreed to the purchase and gave them my credit card number, it is my responsibility to pay, but they will try to get them to reverse the charges.  Not very promising.
I called the number from my bill and they refuse to give me the name of the company that is listed as THM and THA.  When I looked up THM and THA, I got the name of the company Excipial, but it is a dead end. The Customer Service rep did give me an address in Santa Ana. I spent over two hours on the phone while Sallie argued with me, offering me 15% off, then 35% off, then 50% off then 100% off. They said they'd send a confirmation number for the 100% money back. It didn't show up. They basically waited until I got tired.

The bank knows about this outfit and said, what you are required to do is click on their conditions and read that you've agreed to receive a product every month from them and you pay for it in advance unless you tell them not to. That is the $89.77.  And, they informed me that Dr. Oz repeatedly states he does not recommend any products. I had no chance to tell them anything or read their conditions online. I wish someone had warned me, so I'm warning you.
Even though I never had a chance to press that button, the burden of proof is on me. Fraud is difficult to prove without a witness or some paper proof.

I went on-line and found CFTC SmartCheck. It is a site worth checking when you don't know exactly who you are dealing with. I believe it is a free service.

And, I will report them to the California State Attorney General since they operate out of Santa Ana, California.  And, I'm going to look into Elder Financial Abuse, and see what they can do. After all, I'm  senior and I've been taken advantage of. You can bet I'm going to cancel my Mastercard from Barclay. I'm going to ask them why they don't print out known scams to their customers. They knew all about it and told me that Dr. Oz does not recommend products. Color me mad but wiser now.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


As requests for money increase in fury, and the political scene explodes before our eyes, I thought these Apolitical aphorisms would be a bit of fun. Especially fun for me since I discovered yesterday, I've been the victim of on-line fraud. More on that as I sort through several critical projects. The aphorisms were sent to me in an email and have been around for a longtime. Hope you enjoy them.

If God wanted us to vote, he would have given us candidates.
~Jay Leno~
 The problem with political jokes is they get elected.
~Henry Cate, VII~
 We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.
 If we got one-tenth of what was promised to us in these Electionspeeches, there wouldn't be any inducement to go to heaven.
~Will Rogers~ 
 Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.
~Nikita Khrushchev~
When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become Prime Minister or Premier; I'm beginning to believe it.
~Clarence Darrow~
Why pay money to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for you.
~Author unknown~
Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel.
~John Quinton~
 Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.
~Oscar Ameringer~
 I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them.
~Adlai Stevenson, campaign speech, 1952~
 A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country.
~ Tex Guinan~
 I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.
~Charles de Gaulle~
 Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks.
~Doug Larson~
 There ought to be one day -- just one -- when there is open season on senators.
~Will Rogers~

Monday, January 25, 2016


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Jim Hightower writes the Hightower Lowdown, a national newsletter that exposes injustice in America, only he calls it exposing bushwackers, bullshitters, gooberheads, plasticized morons, moon howling...well, the adjectives, some invented by him, are numerous and humorous. He says he is an agitator..."the center post of the washing machine that gets out all the dirt." And, right now, he doesn't like the hucksters running a Democracy where 4 people, all of them hedge fund managers, each earned 10 Billion dollars last year, where 108 Kindergarten teachers split 1 million. The hedge fund managers pay taxes at a rate of 15% and the teachers pay at a rate of 35%. Democracy works best from the bottom up and includes everybody. That's you and me folks. Its revolution time for people tired of being the fire hydrants for all of those top dogs. And, the chorus sang, Hallelujah.

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They did, but it wasn't quite in that order. First, the Mother Lode Martin Luther King Jr. Chapter, active in our area for 23 years, drew over 500 people to hear Hightower speak. Amazing because this is a very white, rural community.

The program began with Martin Luther King Jr.'s last speech on a movie screen. I had forgotten what a powerful and passionate speaker he was. It was an emotional moment to turn back the pages of time and remember, the women who died in a baptist church, Rosa Parks refusing to move to the back of the bus, little girls being escorted to all white schools by the National Guard in the fight for equal rights for black Americans;  a fight that is on going to this day, 48 years after his death.  Hightower reminded us that Katie Stanton, and the jailed and punished suffragettes didn't get the right to vote that they fought for either, but WE got it because of them.

And, that my friends is his point. Money now flows upward and the rich have so much money they can air condition hell while the poor and middle class struggles to make ends meet.

"We don't want charity, we want economic justice. And Congress, the House and the President is stealing from us with a fountain pen." He pointed to the current NAFTA agreement where 500 corporations and that included the Koch Brothers, met in secret, and hammered out an agreement and stuffed it down our throats without one member of a Union or anyone from the middle class and small business sitting at the table.

Hightower believes that people like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who don't accept money from the big super pacs can overcome the moneyed elites who have corrupted our politics and rigged our economy to squeeze the life out of the middle class.

Bernie's average donation is $23. Hightower says, you can't buy a presidency with $23. His campaign is about We The People. Hightower convinced me that, with Bernie, its time to rock the boat.

No one addresses him as Senator Sanders, he is just Bernie, and one of the poorest Senators in the pack. He hasn't parlayed his position to great wealth like most national office holders have.
He came from a low-income working class family in Brooklyn. He first worked as a carpenter, then film maker, writer and agitator. An agitator in college during the 60's, he moved to Vermont and began exposing Burlington money boys who ran the town for their own fun and profit. Then he stunned everyone by winning an election for Mayor in Burlington. Bernie has never abandoned his working class roots. I've changed my position to clearly stand with the candidate who says: "I can't do this, but WE can."
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The program ended with everyone singing the song:  We Shall Overcome. Hightower was available to talk to people at a reception after the program.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


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I spent two nights in the Bay Area while I visited the Northern California Spine Institute. I'm fortunate to have friends and relatives who give me "hotel" space to keep my appointments. My friend Joy Kish and I met when my husband and I moved into our first house in Fremont when my oldest son was 8 months old. As our children grew in number and size, we, with other neighbors formed a baby-sitting co-op using a point system. Members took care of each others' children with no costs. The secretary who kept the books changed from month to month, so that each family shared in the work to keeping it going. I had foster children when we formed the co-op and the county rules were such that you could only have adults care for your foster children. The co-op allowed us an affordable way to step out, or get to a doctor's appointment without having to cart three kids to the doctor's office for one kid's appointment.  Joy and I share a lot of memories of raising our kids and our kids still have some contact in their 50's.  In a sense we are like extended family. We had dinner out at Chilis restaurant and enjoyed a couple of margaritas.

While home, I'm contemplating blogging every other day since I don't have much to say and I have plenty to do. A reader commented on a blog I did on Blaine, County Montana and I went back and read the blog and found it interesting. I am sometimes surprised at how much I've learned about this country during my travels with Jim and may re-blog some of them. Ciao.

Thursday, January 21, 2016


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No longer homeless, my brother has a job and is working in Manteca. I drove down and took him to lunch for his birthday. He is still attached to his bible and a new church. He is refurbishing a rental that was burned out from the inside. His pay is a place to live. He previously built a house in Hayward for the owner before he had his stroke. Now, he lives and works in the same place. A good deal for both.

As anyone who reads my blog knows, I've been an advocate of housing homeless people. It works in other states and is cheaper than shuttling them around and treating them as though they are human trash. The highest costs come from arresting them and creating a revolving door through the courts for trespassing, drunkenness, drugs, or aberrant behaviors. Mental patients are among the most common people on the streets and hospitalizing or jailing them is more costly than housing and treating them.  I'm sure I will be addressing this subject in the future.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Hidden Giants by Lori Kelly
Hidden Giants by Lori Kelly.   The rules behind this competitive art show called Animalscapes, of Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne counties, required depictions of animals from our area. I know we don't have elephants.
Chains to Flowers by Jim Sells
Chains to Flowers by Jim Sells.  A second elephant, embracing an unmistakable theme, and preciously done, reminded me that we do have elephants in Calaveras county, in the rescue acres at PAWS, the Performing Animal Welfare Society. They definitely live here.
Black Tail Deer by Laurie Williams.
Black Tail Deer by Laurie Williams.  The animals I see the most is deer.
Companions-Sifu Berchtold
Companions-Sifu Berchtold. And these pesty little beauties, the pileated woodpeckers.
Whee! By Juliana Tillman
Whee! By Juliana Tillman. Visitors can vote for a favorite. I spoke with an arts council friend who was a judge and she was surprised at the outcome. She did not reveal her choice as discretion is important in these things. None that placed would have been my picks. I find that happens a lot at art and quilt shows.  I quickly decided this one was going to be my fav. The opening event was one where you could meet the artist, and I met some of my favorite artists. Not all had an entry, but they do turn up for the arts.
Meet the artist, Juliana Tillman
Meet the artist, Juliana Tillman  I managed to corral the artist, I'd never met her before.
Spotted Owl-Forget Me Not, Diana Boyd
Spotted Owl-Forget Me Not, Diana Boyd.  There were many owls entered in the competition. Held at Kautz Winery, I learned that the Owl is the symbol of the Kautz Coat of Arms.
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And, two real owls there to raise money for Wildlife Rescue organizations. This is a barn owl.
Sawwhet owl
And this sawwhet owl is three years old and looks like a baby. She bites, the rescue worker told me. Her role in life is to tear her prey to bits and she is good at it. On an African Safari I took in 1997, that point was made so unforgettably clear, I could never again view deer as Bambi's nor lions as talking characters. The wild is something to respect and I never cross that line and feed wild animals. I love watching, though.
Bell Meadow Bears, Karen Nina Kling
Bell Meadow Bears, Karen Nina Kling. Baby animals, no matter what specie, are adorable.
The Threat by Marta Magstrali
The Threat by Marta Magstrali.  Named the threat, huh!  The most petted piece in the show. You couldn't help but run your hands over this unique fellow.
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The little mouse on his behind made me smile. What an enjoyable piece of art.
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And, then I came upon the piece I voted for. This Horse Head by Larissa Stephenson. So real looking I wanted to reach out and pet its nose, even though the feel of velvet would be missing.
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The show had a musician and young women passed out champagne and hors d'oeuvres. It was lovely and I'll see the show again when it moves to Amador County. I'm meeting a friend from Discovery Bay there for lunch next month.
Art Director Susie Hoffman
I met Art Director, Susie Hoffman. I stopped her to take a picture of her feather earrings, very Native American looking. She bought them in Paris. She is director at Town Hall Arts, Galerie Copper in Copperopolis. She invited me to visit and I will get there one of these days. I love that I live in a community where the arts have such  great prominence. For the rest of my photos click the link below:


Tuesday, January 19, 2016


I mentioned I had taken pictures of samplers to a friend who wanted to know, " that like people who eat lunch at Costco by sampling all the little bites of food they put out to try and get you to buy them?" We both laughed. No. It was a reasonable assumption, I had just returned from a trip to Costco. But, she had never heard of the type of sampler I meant.
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This one is a cross stitch sampler, with a clever verse, and signed. Most likely a pre-stamped pattern to work. Samplers were designed to teach young girls how to embroider or cross stitch in homey designs that also taught them the alphabet and sometimes included numbers from 1 to zero.
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Samplers are highly prized and my cousin had them hanging under glass in a bathroom and a somewhat poorly lit bedroom. Since I love collections, I had to photograph them.
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Few letters, and no verse, the scene is appealing and tells a bit about the times and gave the person a lot of practice making stitches. Needlework was considered a necessary skill for young women to learn.
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Most of the samplers were unsigned.
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This is an embroidered sampler, much harder to work than cross stitch. This one from a modern era and most likely hand drawn. A full story in pictures and words. And, the misspelled GUEST?  Curious.
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My mother prompted me to make a sampler when I was young, but when I got to the "dime" store to pick out a pattern, I opted for more practical pillow cases to embroider instead.
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An unusual statement, almost biblical.
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A wry truth.
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A sampler  high on the wall, under glass, in poor light. Many photos didn't turn out, but I had to include this blurry one because the spelling, so quaint, suggests someone of German descent.

I was more tomboy than girl and while I did learn to sew and work quilts, my mother did excellent crochet, a skill I never mastered. I'm grateful to have some of her doilies, another collectible item you can find in the thrift stores.

Sunday, January 17, 2016


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If you are going to have a birthday party as an adult, you expect to enjoy it. The band, dedicated their music to Carole Gordon, whose birthday was being celebrated.
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I don't know who they are, which didn't affect my enjoyment of their music. I heard guest, Alan Test, say, "Oh, that's Lightening Boy."  Lightening Boy moved quickly and I never did get his picture.
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Carole got up and danced-and the night was hers.
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These two singers and players are personal friends of Carole's.
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They each wrote a song about their experiences in Viet Nam and sang them. The man on the left wrote and dedicated a poem to her.
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The fellow doing sound and lighting reminded me of Rumbledore from Harry Potter.
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 Carole was a teacher at Michelson Elementary School when we moved to Murphys 37 years ago. As our kids grew up, we were both involved in AFS (American Field Service.)  My exchange student, Linda, from Indonesia and her exchange student, Phillip, from South Africa, were good friends during their year together in Murphys.  AFS is a bonding experience, much like a family. Jim and Alisha Riggs were at the party, too. Jim had a student from Ethiopia before my family got involved in AFS.
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Of course, the party wasn't only about the band. Selections of wine, beer and water.  The hors d'oeuvres were fabulous, followed by a full dinner of ribs, chicken, roast beef, mashed potatoes and green beans.
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I missed taking a picture of this birthday cake before it got cut.
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But, I did get a picture of one of the chocolate cakes. All came from our local bakery in Murphys. Needless to say, I went home stuffed and smiling with pleasure.
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Where is that Lightening Boy?