Friday, February 27, 2009


At a writer's workshop years ago, I was fascinated by a teacher who prompted us to find a subject to write about whenever we passed through a new community. Her subject that day was a sign she had seen in town. I can never pass an unusual sign without thinking of her. And while the firewood for sale sign is built of firewood and fits the motherlode perfectly, the sunglasses sign was taken in Yuma, Arizona a month ago, and is certainly an elaborate and interesting way to get to get your attention in sunny Yuma.


In the 1860's, livestock owners allowed their cattle or sheep to run unfettered anywhere they chose to graze. But, in the 1870s, California passed laws to protect farmer's crops from livestock. Ranchers were held liable for damage from their herds whether the farm had a fence or not. Tuolumne, Amador and Calaveras Counties have an abundance of rock fences and corrals. The native rocky terrain is the result of prehistoric volcanic flows, a material that was plentiful and cheap. These stone fences and corrals are clearly visible on private and public lands from the highways. The barriers kept animals from trespassing and also helped keep fires from spreading. They were built by Chinese laborers, stonemasons, ranchers, prospectors and homesteaders and are still serving as fences today, a testament to the stone workers craftsmanship of long ago since they were built without mortar. Its called "laid dry". Some of the oldest examples are found at the Russell and Twist ranches and the Crimea House near Jamestown on Highway 108 that date back to the 1850s.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


On a day trip to Sonora, I chanced to meet cobbler, (Eric) Rick Hanson who is Swedish. I dropped some sandals that needed fixing and he thanked me with a “toss a mosha” spelled prominently in his antique and tool laden shop as tac sa mick ca. Since this was my first visit, I stood in awe of the many fascinating artifacts covering the high walls and every nook and cranny of the place and politely listened to customers as they chatted with an amiable neighbor. Rick obviously enjoys the sociability of his business and the ability to discuss local politics, or family relations at leisure.
Cobbler shops are almost extinct and a guy like Rick keeps the craft from disappearing. Curiosity made me wonder and I asked a few questions.
“I began working at Gabe’s Shoe Service in the 50’s. I started doing it with him and then decided to open my own shop. I went full time in 1962 and moved to Sonora in 1972. I guess I just like working with my hands. Its fascinating, creative. The people are wonderful and you are helping someone and independent at the same time. But any success I owe to the good Lord,” claims Rick.
As for the antiques, he always liked them. “I’ve got the Permission To Sail certificate of Eric Jacobson, my grandfather who was born in 1833, set sail in 1851. I also have his marriage License to wed Kathren Johanson, dated 1858, a damn yankee, so the family told. I’m named for a slew of Eric Jacobsons, grandfather after grandfather.
“The Jacobsons were at one time jewelers for the King of Sweden.
“Another a grand master carpenter for the ship building trades. I have my grandfather’s Thesis, which was a hand built and hand veneered wooden box dedicated to Olga, his wife. “State side, one grandfather was among the founding fathers of Dayton, Ohio. He settled and farmed there on 100 acres that he bought for $144 and a contract to pay at $12 per month. I have all the paperwork. I also have relatives on my mother’s side that were hell bent for brimstone Lutheran, and that is just how it was stated in some family papers. Fascinating. Fascinating.”
Rick is definitely fascinating and could have told stories all day, but I had to leave.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I moved from Escanaba, Michigan in 1954. During the last fifty plus years in California I’ve seen references to Escanaba three times. One reference is a sign-post on the MASH television series; another was Jimmy Stewart’s speech for the United States Bicentennial Celebration in 1976 in which he eloquently recited the names of gobs of cities from every state in the union. Escanaba was one of them. The third came from my political science teacher at Ohlone Jr. College in Fremont who described Escanaba as “…the Appalachia of Michigan…
What are the odds that a little known town sitting on Little Bay de Noc in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan would be the subject of a play in the small town of Murphys, California?
Oh, for crumps sake, I hadda go see it, doncha know. I ain’t givin’ the story away, now, or anyting. Ya wanna see it, aye? Its darn funny.
UP-ers are a bit covetous of being from the Upper part of the state. They don’t have much in common with the big city folk in Detroit and like it that way. Beer and whiskey drinkers, hunters and fishermen, they would not have identified with the Wine Club that enjoyed a fine repast in the lobby of the Black Bart Playhouse to see Escanaba In Da Moonlight. The play, written by Jeff Daniels while he was filming “Dumb and Dumber” is performed by the Murphys Creek Theatre Company at the Playhouse in Murphys, Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday matinees through March 8th. It’s worth a trip to the motherlode. Its a hoot!!


Visitors to the Motherlode pine to live in "God's Country." But, they haven't a clue what life can be like in a wonderful, colorful, quaint, historical, eminently visitable community like Murphys. But, fellow travelers, if it has leaves and branches, you are gonna have trouble with it. Oaks keep most of their leaves through winter. An unaccustomed snow fall can cause a tree fall too. Or it breaks and falls half way. Or it hits a building, or car, or neighbor's building, fence or car. Its happened to me several times. Be warned, flatlander! If on top of that, you have drenching rains, the whole tree can become uprooted and flatten anything it sight.
If, like me, you are lucky enough to know someone like Bob Urban, thought, things can look much better in a short period of time.
Bob teased this huge monster down from its dangerous bend by weakening the arch top with small notched cuts, over a dozen of them. Then, one uppercut and he calmly shoved it over. What a guy! He makes it look easy. This tree was dangerous because a straight cut could have caused it to spring back or snap disable the cutter. Control is the name of the game. And, little dog Bird, Bob's companion, knows enough to stay out of the way. The Urban Duo. The thumbs-up and smile tell the tale and we'll both have wood to keep us warm when the next snowfall happens our way.


My cousin Bob Moore became a “Phillipshead” years ago when he got acquainted with an outlaw radio station in the San Francisco Bay Area, KFAT. They had a small but loyal audience and Bob first heard Bruce Phillips, or Utah Phillips as he is known, on KFAT and began attending his concerts. He became a devoted fan of Utah’s.
Bob retired from Pleasanton and relocated to Nevada City because it had good bookstores as a major plus. It was also, coincidentally, the home of Bruce Phillips. He appreciated Phillips wobbly background, friendliness and approachability. Phillips took up causes and it showed in his incredible music.
“He was always there to meet and greet people after his concerts. A big guy with a long flowing main of silver hair and a silver beard. I’d see him around town, most often dressed in bib overalls and a flannel shirt, just a common guy but an unbelievable philosopher. Unfortunately, his most requested song was Moose Turd Pie, but he really did some great music. The Long Memory is my all time favorite. He could really make you think. He had a great impact on me.
“About 4 years ago, Phillips got the Hospitality House started here in Nevada City. It was a moving shelter that moved from church to church and provided services to the homeless. He started this event where he encouraged the local potters to make soup bowls. The restaurants made the soup, the bakeries made the bread and people bought a bowl of soup and bread for $10, (now it costs $20), and they got to keep the bowl. The proceeds went to support the indigent.
"I can also recommend his protégé, John Mc Cutcheon who sings all the Woody Guthrie era music. He always involves the audience and if you go---you sing!”
Bob told me about Utah Phillips and I visited his website. Great stuff.
Bob, is a philanthropic soul himself, having a huge part in the charitable Thanksgiving Day Dinner served free every year in Pleasanton. The feast is now a long term event and anybody is welcome to participate. Kudos!

Monday, February 23, 2009


Some people love the Academy Awards, but I happen to love potato salad. I’m always lured by a different recipe for potato salad while my friends prefer the likes of Reece Whitherspoon and the handsome hunk from “Austrailia.” I will admit I enjoyed the awards better than in past years. I’m not sure quite what was different because our “girls night” chit chat was fun and we didn‘t stay glued to the set. And, of course, there was the potato salad. Margot Osborne made it. Red potatoes, cooked in skins, then peeled. A bit of red onion, tiny florets of curly leaf parsley, thin slices of English cucumber, capers, vinegar and a smidge of mayonaise. Slap that on a plate with salty olives and some German mustard. I was in heaven. (Margot doesn’t measure.)
I have to see “Slumdog Millionaire“, “Australia,” and “Milk”. I’m so glad Sean Penn was finally recognized for his great acting ability. And the “Reader” and…well…I do love movies. But, the potato salad, now that’s art.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


There has never been a time in my life when water wasn’t significant to my deepest feelings about life. I was born and lived near or on the Great Lakes. With our young family, we chose to lease camping space on the Stanislaus River where the kids could fish, learn to swim, hunt crawdads, watch salmon spawn, pick berries and cattails. I bought river property for vacationing and retirement. Its life sustaining properties seduce my back-to-earth fantasies and genuine survival instincts. Land, water, growing your own food… America, where access to clean, safe drinking water is a basic right.
That is, it used to be. Our government is turning over public water systems to private corporations. And why not? They can make a great profit…just think. Coca-Cola sold $346 million dollars in Dasani bottled water in one year. Nestle sold $200 million in Poland Spring that same year. So, now we have EXPENSIVE water, sold in plastic that leaches chemicals into our water. Its not cleaner nor safer. The plastic is trashing our environment. In the past three years the Federal Government has slashed funds for clean water in half. Multinational corporations are swooping in to buy up our public water systems. It takes 47 million gallons of oil to produce those plastic bottles.
HELP!! Pledge NOT to buy bottled water. Tap water is better for your health, your checkbook and the environment. Also, check out

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Saturday, February 21, 2009


My neighbor, Karen Phillips, adopted two cats, sister and brother from the same litter. They’ve been growing in leaps and bounds and she decided it was time to have Wiley, the male fixed. When she returned with Wiley, his sister would have nothing to do with him in his altered state. She hissed at him and swatted him away from her. She hissed him away from the water dish and food, “No, no, no! You are useless to me now”, she seemed to say.
Karen determined that her female is probably pregnant at four months old… by brother Wiley. I guess that is what you call Sex in the Country.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Alameda County Sheriff's Archive Association and Escapees

This very authentic Public Works produced sign was installed on the freeway next to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin during a time, long ago, when the old facility was "leaking" prisoners. They had 150 escapes in one year. In defense of the County Sheriff, the facility was an old, falling down leftover from Camp Shoemaker-the old barracks, in fact, and it was no match for the determined inmate of 1969. The sign was erected by "unknowns," the local newspaper was alerted by "unknowns. The paper had the sign photographed and published it. The poor put-upon jail commander had it hastily removed within hours of its installation and then it disappeared, but not completely. It finally made its way to the Archive two years ago. One thing about cops, they have an unflagging sense of humor. I've witnessed that humor many times over the last 18 years at the Archive. The Alameda County Sheriff's Archive is a treasure trove of wonderful records, photos and memorabilia of all kinds-and, yes, many humorous tales.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Happiness gathers around great souls like sunshine gathers in a meadow. Faye and Dave are great souls. In High School, I always felt honored to be spoken to by beautiful, popular, outgoing, Faye. It wasn't until we were young marrieds that our true friendship bloomed and I came to respect what a wonderful woman Faye was. Hard working and employed all of her married life, while I had the leisure to pursue rug-making, crafts with my children, and afternoon card parties. Faye's middle name is "patience or tolerance." Her only daughter grew into a strong, independent, woman. Celeste didn't fall far from the tree.
Our paths separated many times, but we always maintained that connection. For awhile, Faye volunteered for me at the Alameda County Sheriff's Archive Association. Now, we have the opportunity to just have fun. I treasure the times we get together. And Dave is the perfect match for Faye. Both of them are taking care of an aging parent, with love and dedication.
Thanks for being there and occasionally giggling with me until we wet our pants. (Dave was the designated driver and never complained.)
We take care of our health, we lay up money, we make our roof tight but the best property of all is our friends. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


My cousin Terri Cardoza is the hostess extraordinaire. Here she dishes up oso buco with her neighbor Millie Freitas watching, who is pushing 90 very hard, and a genuine character in her own right. Richard Cardoza hungrily watches. Countless times I've sat at their table and enjoyed bountiful meals and wonderful evenings of cards and/or dice. Millie inspires me to Dare-to-be-100, as she stays actively involved with her garden and neighbors. Terri has adopted the philosophy of the American Humane Society which basically postulates that if you take animals to the pound that are active in your neighborhood, others will soon move in to claim their territory. You never rid yourself of strays. Instead, you have neighborhood strays "fixed", thus keeping them actively hunting mice, gophers, etc. and preventing a cat population from exploding. She has trapped 25 cats and had them fixed with cooperative vets and help from the Humane Society. Richard, an excellent mechanic, belongs to a car club and has restored many interesting vehicles over the years. His current favorite is a 1969 Camaro. Besides cars, he has an unbelieveable electric train set-up that takes up a whole room; he barbeques in the summer and you couldn't ask for a better friend than Richard. His current ride of choice is a 1969 Camaro. Jim met them for the first time and, of course, they made him feel right at home. I feel so lucky that we are family.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Everyone tells me they love my excerpts from Bob Gambols backpacking trip. Bob is in China walking and hitching, avoiding the ordinary, finding the extraordinary. He got a connection out of Lanzhou to Urumqi the Western terminus of the Chinese rail near Kazakstan on the Russian Border.
“This connection was a 3½ day trip, which took three engines to get it over the hill. It had a diesel engine, one coal fired engine and one steam engine, but the smoke in there from the coal was horrible. Plus everybody smoked cigarettes. The smoke was so heavy I had this artist I befriended make me a No Smoking sign. But, when I’d put up the sign they’d all vacate. Later I got friendly with a Chinese Fuller Brush man and he told me my no smoking sign was offensive because everyone thought I was contagious. What it actually said was, Stop Smoking. I Cannot Breathe. They thought I had a disease", Bob chuckles.
“On this trip, I befriended a conductor and I admired the pin on his hat and he gave it to me. That is a souvenir I really treasure, the insignia of the Chinese Rail System.

To be continued...

Monday, February 16, 2009


This morning the sound of chain saws resonated throughout the area as everyone addressed their storm damage. My upper driveway was blocked and is now clear, thanks to the quick action of Gabe and his handy chainsaw. One huge multi-trunked oak is dangerously positioned above a second driveway. One tree is down on a storage building. Several other random branches have broken off in several lengths. I guess that is the price of living in the country. Even so, I wouldn't change it...except when I'm ramblin.
Hasta la Vista

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Son Doug called me this morning to warn me an 80 mile long by 40 mile wide weather system was headed our way. Oh, Joy! Didn't we just have enough snow to quality for exemplary weather? Jim insists that we saved all this weather just for him! Together we carried in a load of wood for the stove, then he fired up his vehicles to make sure the batteries stay healthy. It IS cold and windy.
Inside, he huddled into a sweatshirt and gloves and declared he would not go out again today. Can't say I blame him. This is unusual weather even for Murphys. The snow is supposed to stay at a higher elevations. Oaks keep their leaves and do not do well with a heavy wet snow. Then a good hard rain saturating the ground, and fifty mile an hour winds? Possible heavy tree damage. I have multiple wood piles about the place from past tree disasters. I maintain the weak trees are already gone. I have nothing left to lose. Then I pray its true.
Truth be said, we have no control over old man weather, so enjoy or curse. Its all the same.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Old Bishop Valentine didn't intend February 14th to be the celebration of love in his name. He was executed on Feb. 14th because he secretly married Claudius' soldiers against the Emperor's wishes. To read the contradictory history of Valentines Day, with the Pagans beating young women to insure their fertility for the year; Shakespeare alluding to mating birds...cupids running amok...and St. Valentine? None of it makes any sense. So, who said love was sensible? To the contrary, wise sages over the years have difficulty defining love. Love is blind...As love increases, prudence diminishes...Love never reasons...A miser in wealth but generous in love...No cord nor cable can draw so forcibly or bind so fast, as love can do with a single thread...It is a beautiful necessity of our nature to love...but, absence in love is like water upon fire; a little quickens, but much extinguishes it...Ah, the contradictions of the intoxication called love. Maybe, its best to forget the origins and definitions and just be happy that one day of the year is devoted to lovers. For sure...take away love and the world would be palsied. Aren't we fortunate? Happy Valentines Day from Mary and Jim.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Where are the grandchildren when the big snow hits? Its a school day, and Owen's 9th birthday today. Happy Birthday Owen!! Wish you were here to see the beauty and have a snowball fight with Grandma. The best I could do is take some pictures. One of six inches of white stuff on Jim's motorhome. He tells me the motorhome has rarely experienced snow. (Check out his blog.) But, its beautiful stuff and I actually went outside and made a snowball and threw it at Jim and he caught it. The trees in the yard look like we live on a different planet. Both of us appreciated the beauty, despite the cold. Besides, what's winter without a bit of white stuff now and then? Of course, I'm glad to see it melt off before I have to get out the shovel. And, I don't live in Avery where Pam Quyle of Quyles Kilns tells me the power has been out for a couple of hours.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Daughter Virginia and her husband Cedric are both greens. They passed up the new rage bamboo, or cork, or cactus flooring and purchased used wood from Heritage Salvage in Petaluma, Ca. The wood came from an old granary, the Moscow Idaho Seed Company that opened in 1927 by Joe Zeb. They bought old tamarack beams and douglas fir re-milled as flooring which Heritage Salvage’s owner Bud Deakins kind of lovingly held in his hands as though appreciative that someone else shared his vision of reusing beautiful old wood. Bud found some old sacks left in the building and gave one to the kids with their purchase. They decided to frame and hang it in the cabin they’re building north of Laytonville.
It’s a bit like the “good old days” that everyone seems to long for. The loving attention devoted to old woods and re-useable materials; the personal exchange of a businessman with his customer and the satisfaction the kids derive from preserving something of beauty from the past.
Heritage Salvage’s website is with a link to Moscow Idaho Seed Company’s story of redistribution. Very interesting story. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Michal Houston graciously invited Jim and I for dinner at her lovely home in Murphys. I've known Michal to invite people she'd just met a couple hours previously for dinner. Everyone is welcome at her table and what an elegant table it is. Making people welcome is part of her Southern heritage. Jim lit the candles and played engineer with her recalcitrant icemaker. I focused on her latest piece of art work, the decorated chair painted and festooned by artist Lori Kelly. It was auctioned off by the Calaveras Arts Council to support the council and a local charity. Its a beauty and I'm ravenously jealous that I couldn't attend that auction.
Jeff, owner of Twisted Oak Winery, welcomed Jim to Murphys on Jim's blog. Michal let us know that Twisted Oak has be our next stop, and when the weather clears, it will be. Murphys is such a nice place to live. Thank you Michal and Jeff.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I interviewed Bob Gambol before I left Yuma. His story is so interesting I can't resist printing previews of his adventures on my blog. This segment was from 1991 when China was still a Communist country.
“I was on the platform at a stop at Guan Zou on my way to Chon Quing and I hooked up with a Chinese gal who had left home. She got manhandled at the border crossing and she asked me, “Can I travel with you? I’m afraid.” So, she stuck close to me for several days until she got her confidence back. O
“In the Port city of Chon Quing I couldn’t get a ride hitching because there were few private cars. So I caught a local train to the end of the line which happened to be a restricted city closed to tourists. The officials there got a woman interpreter and she interrogated me. They thought I was some kind of spy. I told them I was just an old codger wanting to see the country. "Well, you can’t stay here" I was told. After the questioning, hell, I didn’t have anything on me but my backpack, they put me in a hotel, at no cost, but I couldn’t walk around. They told me I’d have to leave in the morning. I didn’t have to pay for meals either. They fed me and sent me back to Chon Quing.
“I took a Chinese cargo boat down river through the gorges to Wu Han. It was a triple-decker where you slept in hammocks on deck. What a fantastic view of the real China. At the end of the line, they didn’t have much in the way of accommodations for tourists and I stayed over in the Rail Road Hotel. They let me stay there, which isn’t the norm. I traveled on from there by rail to Beijing. The train that I took had open pit toilets which were just holes in the bottom of the train.
“In China, riding the rails going west, the train would run over something, including people. The engineer would just stop and they'd just drag whatever it was off the tracks and go on.
To be continued-

Monday, February 9, 2009


Jim arrived late yesterday and we put the motorhome in hibernation. I didn't know a motorhome could hibernate but with snow predicted, we hastily drained tanks and insulated vents, etc. But my guy, he showed up in a sleeveless shirt and shorts. I tell ya, these follow the sun types haven't a clue. But my rover enjoyed a taste of Red Rover Prosecca by Stevenot Winery and we celebrated his arrival. Then, he admitted, he felt a bit cheated because the snow didn't show up as predicted. What I'm gonna do with this guy?? Actually he's my hero. He has promised to take care of me when I'm incapacitated by shoulder surgery. (He is clueless but I love him.)

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Having children die because of faulty smoke detectors is unforgiveable. Paying for something that doesn't work is unacceptable. All planning departments should reconsider their requirements for smoke detectors. As an activist, I wish to expose this sham to as many people as I can. Please tell your friends to contact their supervisors and question what they know about smoke detectors.

These quotes prove that decades ago fire officials knew that detector failures were causing wrongful fire deaths but they hid the truth:

John C. Gerard, Fire Chief of the Los Angeles Fire Department cited national statistics showing battery powered devices have a 50 to 80 percent failure rate.”

Source: Fire Chief Magazine, January 1980.

Smoke detectors were an unknown term to 99 percent of the population 10 years ago. Today, millions of single family dwellings have them, yet there is no reduction in loss of life from fire. This paradox has not been explained. Source: Fire Chief Magazine, January, 1980.

We put 50 million smoke detectors in buildings in America in a two year period and our fire loss and death rate goes up. We’re having a little trouble explaining these things.” Statement by Gordon Vickery, former head of the U.S. Fire Administration. Source: Fire Engineering Magazine, September 1980.

Residential fire death rate increases nearly 20 percent over 1984 residential death rate with over 100 million smoke detectors installed in American homes

Source: NFPA Fire Journal, November 1986, page 44

Saturday, February 7, 2009


Some of us love weather. There is just something about the bluster and change that winter brings; the winds of March and the bursting greens of spring with hot summers to follow that makes you feel alive. But...not so for Jim. He likes the 74-80 degree weather pattern and if HE were to control, it wouldn't change. He is driving to Murphys in his motor home as I write and I haven't warned him that the weather report is predicting snow-OH, NO, SNOW-down to 2,000 feet. He hasn't been rained on in 8 years, or some such! Haven't a clue what will happen if the white stuff actually touches his skin. Yikes!
But, you know, the drought is upon us and we need that water even if it comes down as bits of ice. I took a picture of the Parrots Ferry Bridge over New Mellones. The red dirt shows how low the reservoir is and how dismal the future for Calaveras County and California in general, if this dry trend continues.
Soooo, I've got wood for the fire, I'll mull some wine, light the candles, and cook up some South of the Border Stew. Ahh. Stave off the chill. But, I think I'll hide the thermometer just the same.

Friday, February 6, 2009


In a previous blog I posted an incorrect address dealing with smoke detector failure, something I learned about from my inside the industry friend, Richard Patton. I corrected it, but I'm copying the letter I received from Adrian Butler so you will see the correct address and be reminded once again about this important issue because even Public Fire Safety people have been bamboozled about the efficiency of smoke detectors.
Gidday Mary
Crickey that was quick! What would we do without the Internet :-)
If you go onto 'The Evidence' page and scroll down to the 'Far Worse than the Pedophile Priests' document by Mr Patton (10 Jan, 2009), then click on the 'More>>>' button you will see that you have a friend who could soon become famous. Mr Patton is an inspiration to us here at the World Fire Safety Foundation in Australia. We would have given up on this battle had it not been for his amazing tenacity. If you have an opportunity you'll find the website is particularly damning now as we've started calling a spade a spade. If you haven't seen 'The Corporation' it is an amazing film to watch - please get all your friends and family to check it out too as it is a real eye opener. You can access it from our 'Home' page.

Take care Mary and thank you once again for your help in spreading the word.

Warmest regards

Adrian Butler
World Fire Safety Foundation
Gold Coast, Qld, AUSTRALIA
Phone: +61 409 782 166

Thanks Adrian for giving me another opportunity to get the word out.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Back packing around the world isn't for sissies as Bob Gambol can tell you. He had so many interesting experiences he is rich in memories, some of which I will share with you. He wanted to travel in Viet Nam to close that chapter of his life. Here he describes a memorable meal he had in 1995.
“In Viet Nam, prostitutes take cabs back and forth across the border but they have to have 4 people in a cab. So I got a ride with three gals right up to the border village at the Port of Entry. The U.S. Consulate is situated across the land border. I was told I had to leave and enter at the same place. So I stayed in the village and walked to a jungle compound and got a room in a cement block building with a cot. These guys were sitting under a tree and it was hot and humid and I had a beer with them. I asked, what’s for supper? They got a kid to come over. He ran into the jungle with a knife and came back with a big old snake. He went into the kitchen and skinned that thing, filleted it and we ate it with vegetables and rice. It was a great meal." Bob can be reached at

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


That song, “I Was Born In A Small Town,” has been running through my mind a lot lately. And, Murphys is a small town with a lot of character and much to recommend it. I remember upon first moving here in 1978 that everyone waved at you from their vehicles whether they knew you or not. It was a typical friendly gesture from the townsfolk even to a “flatlander” as we later learned we were called.
In those days we spied someone wearing a T-shirt with the message, “I’m not a tourist I live here in Murphys.” A nice distinction, and kind of fun. We bought them immediately. Those were the days when messages on T-shirts were popular-and they still are. But…now I see personal messages on cars and it kind of tickles me. In the 70’s if you painted your car you were a hippy. Now, anything goes. Everyone is trying to get their message out. I'm no different, I’m blogging! Its kinda crazy, and new, but I like it. Don’t think I’ll write on my car, though. Or maybe...?