Friday, May 27, 2016


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I feel fortunate that I have a friend who not only brings me brownies, but will, at the merest suggestion, drive me downtown Murphys where we pretend to be tourists. That is Jan Stewart. Always ready to seize the day.
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I hadn't been to Hovey's tasting room in ages, nor had I seen this clever sign.
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Inside I was pleased and surprised by the variety of craft beers they support. The public likes wine but they also like good beer.
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Another sign drew us into Frog's Tooth, a wine I'd never sampled.
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At 10:00 a.m. neither of us were in the mood for wine tasting, but they had a barrel full of good reds to be had for $12 a bottle.
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Of course, because of Mark Twain, frogs are a prominent feature in Calaveras County, but what I liked here is the warmth and friendliness of the staff. A very inviting atmosphere.
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This customer is wearing a shirt from a tasting room in  an old school-house, I believe she said in Grass Valley. It reflects the grammar school punishment of writing on the black board over and over again, I Promise Not To Hit Tommy, or some such. Cute.
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Town was loaded with motorcycles, all coming for the "Jumps", as they relate to the Calaveras Fair and Frog Jumping Jubilee. Nationally famous after its small beginnings.  I remember a picture of Little Flower, Governor LaGuardia who attended the Jumps as fascination with jumping a frog spread far and wide.
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Both bikers, the guy on the left hugged Jan and said,"I know you!"  He is her chimney sweep. His buddy said, "If anybody had told me I'd be a biker with multiple tattoos on my body, I'd have said yer crazy." I had to laugh to find they are locals from Murphys. Tourists just like us.
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I liked this gal's leathers and took a picture and she said, "No, no. You caught me with a phone and I'm constantly pushing people I know to put their damned phone away and look up."  So, she posed for me on her bike.
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Creative. Guess we can call her Spider Woman, and, by the way, she is from Murphys.
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She looked askance at the big hogs lining the street and said, "If one of these guys tips his bike over, he will not be able to pick it up by himself."  We concluded they are for show and pride of ownership as well as performance.
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There were some out-of-towners.
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I wanted a picture of this guy's curled mustache because it reminded me of Joe Cardoza, a former neighbor and local character who grew his curled and waxed mustache about seven inches long for the local Whiskerino Contest. He had too much to drink and went for a haircut. Jack, the barber was a known prankster and cut half of his mustache off, I expect with Joe's consent. I thought it was cruel, even so.
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There were street musicians.
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The Murphys Hotel hired a band. The courtyard was packed with people eating, enjoying the music and even getting up to dance in the tight space around the musicians.
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A couple local vets told us they placed 400 flags on veteran graves with Memorial Day coming up. They do it every year.
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Among  those who served I knew Norm Tanner and a couple others. Norm was a good friend to my husband. I'll be sure to remember those close to me who were vets; I may not get to a grave, but there will be a knot in my heart has I put out the flag on my deck.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


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It is never the order of things that Stuart and Dolores (Quyle) Mast, or any parent should outlive their child.
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Sorrow and loss pinched hundreds of faces at the hilltop service at Quyle's ranch, the property where Robbie Mast grew up, but there was something else there.
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The unquenchable spirit of Robbie himself, who left an indelible print on the wide world around him in his short 25 years.
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Principal of Avery Middle School, Michael Chimente, reminded us of his leadership role, as honor student, class president as a sixth grader and a young high school student who applied to be Principal at Bret Harte High School.
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The gang of six friends he grew up with helped us relish the humor, the mischief, the love of nature, beauty and friendship he brought into focus for them. Robbie liked to ride a bike, but he wanted to build bikes and ride around the world. It took him twenty-two months from New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore, Istanbul, Bulgaria, Italy, France and England. As the son of  wine makers, he worked in vineyards wherever he went; volunteered at a self-sustaining farm and spiritual center. He touched people;  made friends; took lessons home with him.
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Ryan Anderson and Bryan Hitchcock, two older friends, remarked how Robbie came to them and said he'd signed himself out of Gym in High School. He preferred hiking and biking and camping and nature. They convinced Bret Harte that he had engaged in private Boxing lessons in place of Gym and he was allowed to graduate with his class. Robbie hungered to invent, to explore, to challenge himself, to enjoy life with humor. He was an artist,  an actor, a story-teller. Wise beyond his years, he made every second of his life meaningful.  DSC08164 (Copy)

Each speaker revealed another dimension to Robbie's  life.  In his own words, from eighth grade, "Life is a journey...judge those less fortunate...stop and smell the roses...never be content...question and wonder...people are is the strongest force in the goes like every day was your last...

If you see a shining star never let it fade away.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


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I've lived 37 years in Murphys, 26 of them in this house and I had never had a mouse in the house. Tilt!  Except for a cat who loved hunting mice and would bring them in through the cat door, and play with them until they escaped somewhere to die in peace.

Fast forward, no cat. Two of these live uninvited beasties plagued me for almost two weeks before I managed to outwit them. They seemed to have secret knowledge of all mouse traps and attractants. Once gone, I bought three sonic pest repellers and plugged them in. They are designed to repel spiders, mites, mosquitoes, roaches, and other nasties. It is a fact that when you remove an active spider web, if you don't kill the bugger, it will rebuild its web the next day. Hmm! How do I know if this thing works as I see a spider happily spinning its web?

Online I read that sound waves do not bend around corners, or work through walls and furniture.
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With some effort I managed to prop them in high positions. Looks ugly as hell. I will have to move them occasionally to cover my big rooms. But yesterday, I found six spiders, big and little exiting (with suitcases in hand), trying to get under my outside door in my bedroom. And, later, when I went to take a shower, two more were hiding under a plastic bucket I keep to collect water for plants. (Part of our drought relief program.)
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Voila!  They work. I'm ordering two more for my garage.

Friday, May 20, 2016


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Blogging right now is tough for me. Typing one finger with left hand is slow and tedious. I've hesitated to eat out since eating left-handed is "sloppy".  Neighbor Jan enticed me to a Sunday breakfast at the Native Sons Hall. And, I'm getting more adept with my left hand. She was just rewarded with a plaque for being the best CERT volunteer of the year. We celebrated, and heard a great bear story.

We sat across from two guys, one an electrician the other a general contractor. I took their cards and they are around-somewhere. I believe the contractor's name was Paul Belleni. He was fixing a broken water pipe at a house in Arnold and heard a sound. He turned around to face a mama bear with two cubs. She let out a distinct cry unlike anything he'd ever heard,  and the two cubs scooted up trees immediately. One tree bent to the ground with baby in it. Mama bear dashed past Belleni to protect her cub and he decided to run. He went down hill through a gully and ran for his life with mama behind him and eventually came out on the sixteenth tee at Sequoia Woods Golf course. One of the golfers said "Hey, you, what the hell are you doin'?" (Or something like that as Paul whizzed past.)  Then they spotted the bear. At that point the bear gave up and returned to her cubs. Whew!

He told us with emotion in his voice her claws were so long they were like a second hand.  Looks like a  bent tree saved his bacon. The story came to light as I told my recent encounter with a bear, I've had four, but none as dangerous as Paul Beleni's close call.  But, my cougar story, hey...another time.

Thursday, May 12, 2016


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My sister-in-law Theresa...
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...and brother Clark hosted a Mother's Day bash. Clark is a genius at the barbeque with ham, tri-tip and chicken and sweet potatoes.
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Theresa's siblings and daughters, like her, are good cooks. Whitney, above with their Dad, My injured arm limits my typing, so I'll be brief.

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Tommy and Mariana.  Clark's nephew, Tommy is older than he is. They grew up together on the same street and still hang out together.

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Theresa prepared a table full of snacks and cheeses. Everything is double yum.

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Theresa's mom, also a great cook, most likely where Theresa and her siblings learned.

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Her Dad, with one of the great grandchildren, Gabriella.

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Brother Bill also had a birthday May 8th. He is 78 years young; an avid volunteer.

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Estella with her family, I don't know all the names...
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Ken and Laurie made room at the snack table.
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 The cheeses and cookies beckoned all.

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Clark enjoys his role as grandad to Theresa's grandkids.

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Virginia with Owen and Theo. Owen sent me a note that he is driving now and warned me I have enough time to move to Alaska.Theo will be my partner in India in December.

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The food was exceptional and since I can't cook very well, I went home with Doggie Bags. And all mothers took home a beautiful petunia. Doug brought mega cans of cookies, his specialty.

Saturday, May 7, 2016


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Blogging is going to be sporadic as I recuperate from rotator cuff surgery. Therapy once a week for a total of 16 weeks and remaining in a sling for those weeks necessarily hampers my activities, as in NO driving. Count down, 13 weeks to go.
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I've been fortunate to have Jim take care of me, drive me around to my appointments and even give a private serenade on the side. He has taken up harmonica as you can tell from an earlier blog. Quite challenging for him. I face the challenges of getting well, obeying doctor's instructions and limiting activities-hard for me.
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One of the real treats of my "down" time was having Kathryn, my husband's daughter, bring her husband Hank to meet me. Catching up with family matters, pictures mostly, since we have shared by email necessary dates and information for the family genealogy. A natural  interest in our respective ancestors is a fascinating subject. Now Kathryn has married into a large, active family with plenty of exciting new faces, including Hank's mother who lives near them. She is 94 years old.
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And we cooked. Hank knows his way around the kitchen and loves fixing breakfast. Here he is testing one of Kathryn's waffles.  And I managed a couple of crock pot dinners with their help. We ate, and snacked and toasted a glass of vino or two. Hey, isn't that what family gatherings are all about? In part, anyway. It tickled me to see Kathryn with her nose in the papers while eating, a habit she must have inherited from her dad. She loves crosswords and Hank prefers sodoko.
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Kathryn has a friend in Angels Camp she and Hank are also visiting. Hank spent time in the Motherlode as a kid with his family, so the area is familiar to him.
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Jim took our picture before they left. Her half brothers and sisters were working and unable to visit while here, but we expect to see much more of them in the future and fix that.
Kathryn's children live in Southern California, and like all adult children, they have their own busy lives, too.  But, someday, we hope to all get together. Isn't that cool?

Sunday, May 1, 2016


We've had much rain and the green is refreshing and beautiful to behold. Wildflowers waiting to pop into bloom when I took this picture. They are now everywhere. I'm impaired and hampered but I can't resist carrying a camera and grabbing beauty when I see it.
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The size and perfection of some blooms in my own yard are stellar.
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Iris have such variable colors.
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It is unusual to have stems three feet long and yard grass as high as my hips.
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I can't remember when I've seen a more perfect rose. A prize winner if shown.
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All that beauty comes with a price.
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Rain and hail sluicing in torrents. Puddles for days.
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A fallen giant, unable to hold on in heavily saturated ground.
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We can't control the weather, so there is nothing to do but enjoy the beauty, though with a niggling worry of what is to come. Climate change specialists are telling us we'll pay for it this summer with brutal heat and little relief. My well is dry. The annoying mucus eating gnats I normally don't encounter until the 3000 foot elevation are pestering me as I walk. We've had 81 degree days then cold 28 degree weather back to back in the same week. But, again, we choose to enjoy what we can when we can.
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Bridal wreath spirea.
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About two weeks ago, the grass was still low enough to see the chickens. Now they can hide completely in it and seem to love it. Unfortunately, one chicken died two weeks ago and we are down to one brown, Della and one white, Blanche.
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And yesterday, a cache of turkey eggs hidden so deeply in the overgrowth, my gardener didn't see the setting mother until she exploded out of the nest and into his face. Sadly, she didn't return, but it is nice to know the wildlife will survive and adapt. My gardener took the eggs home to put in his incubator.
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I rode by this plant, and now I'm walking the road with Jim each day as I heal, and this plant and others in my yard are done blooming. Not a blossom anywhere. What brings tomorrow?