Tuesday, March 31, 2009


This sentinel oak is an old friend that grows near the road where I walk and drive by each day. I'll never forget the first time I saw the baby blue eyes that beautify a spot beneath that oak. I was still half flatlander, and with permission of the owner of the property, I dug a plug from that spot to spread those baby blue eyes onto my own property. Un huh! It doesn't work that way. The master gardeners and naturalists that tell you: 'don't try to transplant wildflowers because they fail,' were right, of course. I tried several different wildflowers over those first few years. None took. I'm an avid environmentalist now, and recognize it as a transgression to move wild plants.
But then...as though to punish me for my transgression, the baby blue eyes didn't bloom the following spring, and another. Over the 31 years I've watched that spot, they continue to bloom, off and on, always glorious and welcoming when they do.
When they didn't show for several years in a row, my daughter Virginia, then 10 years old, lamented their passing. She worried about the baby blues and shooting stars in our pasture that also fail to bloom prolifically every year. Nature has its own plan. Enjoy what you can. Come up for a wildflower day in the motherlode and you won't regret it. Poppies, popcorn flowers, lupines, mustard, fruit trees, and more. The blooms this year are spectacular. Don't miss them.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


The Kautz Winery gold nugget is a fixture. It can be seen anytime, but so many other motherlode treasures are elusive. Vistas of wildflowers in bloom; old miner's shacks; river views such as Candy Rock, and Natural Bridges. Photo ops abound. A plethora of events in multiple communities offer art, drama, street faires, musical events and more. There is an ice rink in Long Barn, skiing on Ebbetts Pass and Sonora Pass. River rafting, antique boutiques, equestrian events Civil War Re-enactments, open air markets, casinos, crafters, spinners... the list seems endless. A treasure within reach for day trippers and weekenders both.
This blog will alert you each Friday about upcoming events in the Motherlode. Currently, in Sonora, Fiddler on the Roof is still playing at Sonora Repertory Theatre through April 5th. Curtain times Thursdays and Fridays 7 p.m. Saturdays 8 p.m., and Sundays 8 p.m. and 2 p.m.. Dracula plays at Fallon House, Columbia, through April 19th. Call 209-532-3120. Classical guitarist Antoniy Kakamakov will be in concert at Columbia College 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 31.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Its not bad enough when you get to Metamucil age, but its nuts to have to be a detective to figure out what the labels mean on the products we buy. Not in all cases, but, it is very annoying that the product, Equate Fiber Therapy on the front of the label reads, 100% natural psyllium husk fiber. Doesn't that suggest to you that 100% of the contents of this package, which is meant to "Equate" to Metamucil, the big brand, big seller, is psyllium husk? Heck no! Its major ingredient is sugar. In other words, to obey truth in advertising, it should be reading Sucrose, with added psyillium husk and polysorbate-80, the other item on the list of ingredients. So, just what is polysorbate-80? Well, according to the woman who answered the telephone at Accumed, the company that produces this product for distribution at WalMart, it is a substance that helps the husk to mix with water. And, you have to look carefully to find the company Accumed on the label, as well. What are they trying to hide? Oh! But what about the salt content not listed in the ingredients and, instead listed under "Other information?"
"Those salts are part of the manufacturing process," I was told. Oh, but not in the ingredients? Why, I asked, is there more sugar than husk in this product? Her answer: "To equate to Metamucil."
Oh, boy. She offered to have a company spokesperson call me within 72 hours. The call came within hours and I was told my complaint would be submitted to the label design committee, must be those dummies fault.
If you really want a product without all that sugar with 100% psyllium husk, choose Yerba Prima brand Whole Psyllium Husk. It has NO other ingredients and is available at Trader Joes and a number of other stores and health food stores. And, the company name is prominently printed on the label in big letters. I get a bit fieisty when I've been duped.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Tedd and Audrey Determan are among the people you meet on a trip and never forget. Chance encounters that are unforgettable have happened to me several times and this one was in China 2006. Audrey was explaining Tedd's bent little fingers, and with some probing, here is what I learned:
"My father's mother was a Charnofski, (spelling) which was a large, Polish Royal landowning family," explained Tedd. "Her mother, (my great grandmother) lived her last days with my grandparents. My great grandma was really wrapped up in the heritage of the family, the titles, the land, and, I guess, the castles. There was a tradition that all of the male heirs of the family, since there was only verbal tradition (of lineage), had their little fingers on both hands broken...to identify who the real heirs are. I was around 2 years old when my great grandma took me out on the porch late one night and proceeded with hammer and some other tool to break my poor little pinkies. I have been told by my Mom that that caused quite a ruckus, especially since it is very hard to break the finger of a child..the green-tree syndrome and all. In any event, I have very bent little fingers, especially the left one...and a wonderful story for my wife to tell."
Being royalty isn't so great when you have broken fingers and none of the land, the titles and the castles.
But, the story is wonderfully rich.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Coping with hard times today is a world event, as it was before and during World War II. Brunhilde Overstreet, 70, of Sonora remembers those difficult years in West Germany between 1938 and 1944, living in a barn, watching bombs fall and destroy people when the war was going on. "My mother took her jewelry to the mountains to sell for money for food. Old clothes were cut down...we had no garden because we couldn't get seeds. We lived on plants and herbs grown wild. We made tea with mistletoe. One time, all we had was large-kernel corn, the kind fed to animals. It smelled awful and took hours to cook. We lived cold-it was easy to etch flowers in the ice on walls. It was not easy. (Subscribe to "friends & neighbors" at tcfan.net)
Margot Osborn of Murphys also lived through the war years in West Germany as a little girl. Her family lived in a cellar and they ate mostly wild foods. Without electricity, her mother stole coal for the stove and peaches and apples from a nearby orchard during the spring. "We ate wild rabbit with potato peelings and oatmeal. I had bad teeth because we didn't get enough milk. My mother had sold her silver on the black market when we got desperate, where you could buy very little, a bit of sausage and cheese. My clothes were one skirt and one pullover that I got from an aunt. In 1947 my father got a job working for the British in Bonn and he would bring home powdered chocolate in metal boxes. We' d have a treat and sell the rest. Then the Marshall Plan helped us recover. West Germans worked together to rebuild stone by stone, the bombed out buildings."
People who experienced those hard times never forget and we can learn from them as we and our children face thinner times today.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Kautz Winery hosts Daffodil Days each spring in Murphys. Millions of them pop up along the vineyards and roadside leading up to the winery. Buckets and barrels of flowering bulbs surround the tasting room and patios. The cool spring has been especially beneficial to the daffodils, encouraging them to hold their blossoms longer than usual. There is still time to see them before they fade. The celebration includes a competiton for best showing of daffodils. The blossoms are picked and displayed in vases at the winery and will remain for the rest of the week for viewing although the judging was finished on Sunday last. Its positively amazing how many different and exotic varieties of daffodils are grown and admired. Come see!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Shady Ladies, the White Hackle Pipe Band, Dulcimer musicians, and local artists all entertained the crowds on Main St. Murphys to celebrate Irish Days. The event hosted by the Murphys Business Association attracted throngs of people Saturday. I don't get out much with my recent surgery but Jim and I managed to slip downtown and grab a corned beef sandwich and a beer at the Native Son's Hall. It felt great, the crowds were an amazing "people watch" and an opportunity to greet old friends and make some new. The faith be wi' ya, doncha know. If you missed this year, you won't want to miss a galavant to the motherlode and partake next year!

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Four plus years ago, I opted to have solar panels put on my roof. I've been very happy with that decision, in fact, soooo happy I wanted to have solar on my cabin in Oregon. However, Oregon's Pacific Power would not offer net metering in 2005. I'm pleased to say that Pacific Power of Oregon now offers net metering. And, Oregon's Independence Station is planning to be the greenest building in the world with solar, ethanol, water catchment and reuse, plus other green features. Right now, in California, the Alameda County Jail has the biggest solar installation in the state. Green is beautiful. Its catching on and it is so profitable. Here is a list of my electrical bills for a two story 3000 sq. foot home in Murphys. 2005-$178.45, 2006-$210.18, 2007-$222.44, 2008-$72.83. That's per year folks. In all fairness, on top of that you have to pay the meter reading fee each month which comes to a little over $60 per year. Even so, solar pays and the price of electricity is going up. My next investment is to buy smart power strips which automatically sense when computer monitors, televisions and other electronic equipment is idle and automatically cuts the power. Electronic power "leakage" uses over $2 billion a year that could be saved. Do yourself and the planet a favor and go green.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Friends my own age remember the depression through our parents, or aunts and uncles who told us stories of the depression days. Pam Quyle, of Murphys, learned about hard times from her mother, Joyce Miller, from South Dakota. Not only did they deal with the depression but, even worse, was the dust bowl. "My mother repeated to us about how awful it was when the locusts went through" explained Pam. "For miles you could see nothing but naked branches, not one green thing. Animals were killed because there was no feed. They ate what they could but without refrigeration, the meat was wasted. They lived on their oat crop with nothing but oats for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The whole (Miller) family moved away from there and escaped. My uncles eventually returned, but my mother never wanted to go back to South Dakota and didn't."
Kenneth Myles, 84, of Jamestown hailed from Terre Haute, IN. He remembers his father worked at anything he could find. "My mom took in laundry. She got 10 cents a piece for washing, ironing and starching a shirt. When the tomato factories were canning, she would work for three or four weeks."
Ken and his brother both dropped out of school at 14 to help put bread on the table. His brother worked the wheat fields for a $1 a day. "I carried newspapers and brought home $2.50 a week." Then they both got jobs at a bakery greasing and stacking pans. "Everybody was in the same boat and everybody worked together," said Ken. You can read about Ken in "friends and "neighbors" magazine celebrating Tuolumne Seniors.
To be continued

Thursday, March 19, 2009


The depression affected people differently in different parts of the country as stated previously. But, no one was immune. Phyllis Morad, 78, of Groveland, (as featured in Tuolumne County "friends and neighbors magazine) lived in Buffalo, New York. "The depression lingered for years until the war started. "...I remember our icebox was in the hall. The iceman had to come weekly with his big tongs and ice cube. The rag man came in a horse and wooden wagon, yelling 'Rags!'All the women kept their rags in a special bag. He would weigh them and pay for them. Lots of our meals were soup and rye bread. My mom sewed. She made my sister and me matching outfits, and curtains for the house. One day, my father came home with a brand-new sewing machine. She was in tears and made him take it back, because even though she really wanted it, she knew we couldn't afford the payments.
I remember stepping on tin cans and toothpaste tubes, made out of lead, which were saved for the war effort. We had rationing for shoes, sugar and butter, little stamps to get those items. If you needed shoes and didn't have a stamp...what were you going to do?"
Facing a depressed economy today is harder since most families have become used to instant gratification. We can learn a great deal from the past.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Melva Anderson, 82, of Murphys remembers the depression years from the small farming community of Wilsonville, Nebraska. "The depression didn't affect us as much as some people," explained Melva. "We did get government canned goods and my father got help from the Conservation Corp. Men came out and helped him plant his grain because there wasn't much money for anything. Because we were a farm family with cattle, pigs and a big garden, we didn't go hungry. My mother had a hired girl to help, but she had to be let go."
Farm families were used to conserving and Melva's family didn't feel the shortage of gas since they still used horses.
Kathryn Puterbaugh, 84, (pictured), of Sonora, described in "friends and neighbors" magazine typical meals during the 1930's while living in Denver, Colorado. "Dinner: Monday through Thursday, leftovers from the weekend (usually) soups which were made from leftovers; on Fridays, fish; on Saturdays, corn bread with syryp and one link sausage; on Sunday, whole fried chicken pieces or pot roast.
"We had hand-me-down-clothes and shoes and no radio or TV. When World War II began...and later living on my own, I remember standing in line for food and ration stamps, sharing living quarters due to the housing shortage, sharing rides due to auto and gas shortages-and mending runs in my nylon hose with nail polish."
We take American affluence for granted, but it hasn't always been so!
To be continued-

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Claude Guash, 82, of Murphys remembers well the depression years. "Times were thin," he remembers. "We had a restaurant in San Francisco and my dad sold dinners for $1.50, big meals with raviolis or enchiladas and salad, soup and bread. Lunches for 3o cents. Nobody had any money. My folks worked from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. but never seemed to get ahead. They couldn't afford to buy a home, they always had to rent. My father did the cooking and ran the restaurant and my mother was the cashier. Me and my brother went to the restaurant after school and worked until 7 p.m. Dad would give us 5 cents for the trolley but we'd walk the two miles and use the nickel for an ice cream instead. The tough years were before the war. You couldn't get certain things. No laundry. So we actually saved money by using paper table cloths. No meat Tuesday, meant we closed on Tuesday. With the gas shortages, you couldn't get deliveries for small restaurants. When I got old enough to drive, I'd go get everything from suppliers. But we made delicious minestrone soup with french bread and always had enough to eat. I took bread and jelly sandwhiches to school and would trade with a friend for his egg salad. In 1938 I remember church kitchens feeding people. But then, after the war got going, the shipyards were booming and things got better. Eventually, my dad sold the restaurant and made enough money to retire to Palo Alto."
Francis Harden, 87, of Sonora (above) and her older sister were raised by her mother, a single parent. One of the original multi-taskers, her mother sold magazines, baked and sold cakes, sold bread for a Campbells Co. and gave piano lessons in her home. (See the original story on Francis in "friends and neighbors" magazine. Francis lived in Berkeley. The depression affected people differently in different parts of the country.
to becontinued.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Suzy Hopkins is the editor and publisher of a new magazine called "friends and neighbors" its emphasis is on celebrating seniors, but, as one of her fans wrote, "You might think this magazine is only for seniors. No, not at all..." Shirley Singley. Shirley is right. Its about our friends and neighbors and topics of interest to everybody.
Suzy has generously given me permission to revisit some of her pieces in "Friends and Neighbors" on my blog while I'm recuperating from shoulder surgery. To the right is a link to the magazine so you can peek for yourself at www.tcfan.net
Bay Area people have been retiring to the Mother Lode after visiting here for years. We welcome their expertise and knowledge and many contributions to our communities and Susy is right to celebrate them. Their numbers are expected to grow in the coming years and Tuolumne County is preparing for that influx with emphasis on safe driving, transportation, housing, etc.
The magazine has a very professional staff and great graphics, photos and color. It can be found all over Tuolumne County-free. Just ask a local business person. It is also available to folks in Calaveras County in nearby Angels Camp and Murphys. When you are headed up this way, be sure and pick up a copy.
Now, when you visit the Motherlode, you will meet some of the fascinating people who call it home.

Monday, March 9, 2009


After Monte's disappearance, the stories began to flow. His exploits as a hunter; his quirky ways; his feats of strength. They came from so many sources, they are collectively a picture of the real Monte Wolfe regardless of his origins or what his real name may have been.
He spelled his name Wolfe with the English e on the end. He used expressions like thar and by gar, and made some "Canuck" bunk beds for friends of his. He served some time in jail as Ed Mc Graff for relieving Constable Billy Schmidt of his gun while trying to arrest him for stealing a gun from Alexander Chauncey. He was prosecuted as Ed Mc Graff in Tuolumne County and sent to State Prison. He also supposedly served in War War I as Ed Mc Graff, but he once corrected someone and told them his name was Monte Rice, and another time Ed Wright? He wanted to be unfound and his inconsistencies made everyone more curious. For instance, he had a barely accessible cabin on the Ned McGrath ranch on Little Humbug Creek. Ned McGrath, Ed McGraff? The names so similar? He claimed to be Catholic and his mother had a proper upbringing. He canned venison, never dried fish or meat as the Indian's did. His cabin building skills and handiness with an ax suggest a Canadian background. No one knows for sure who he was, but his feats of strength were legendary and indisputable. He would easily ski to Nevada to get his mail since the rangers took his mailbox away in Calaveras County. He'd pack people into the woods and carry their stuff plus his own. He'd catch fish for them if they didn't get their limit. His main cabin was two rooms, 14 by 20 with a loft. It had guest beds made of metal with real mattresses. He had a cement mixer, a wheel barrow and a heavy cast iron cook stove that he carried into the canyons by himself along with a victrola, steel cookware and other heavy items.
One man recalls meeting Monte carrying a keg of heavy nails on his shoulder. He stopped to talk for several minutes and never set his burden down, but continued on as though it was nothing.
He made a log ramp and hoisted 600 to 800 pound logs up the ramp he made while building his main cabin. After working all day on his "new" cabin, he still had energy enough to hike five hours out to escort people to their cars as the day dwindled, making it back alone at night.
The Lewis family recall that he offered to build them a cabin on the Moke River if they would supply the windows. He showed them a couple catfish lakes so full of fish they'd practically jump in the pan. "His legs were like fence posts and we couldn't keep up with him. Monte explained that he wore several pairs of stockings to protect himself from rattlesnakes," said Earl Lewis.
Monte loved to be social and readily sought company on his terms. Yet, he gave the impression that he was hiding from justice.
All the little contacts people had with him through the years verify his unusual personality, his strength, his sense of fun. He would ski into Tamarack and chase the giggling cook around the bar (a skit they planned for the entertainment of patrons) and through the kitchen, jump up on the bar and emote with relish. He loved talking about his encounters with cougars and bears.
Slim Hinton remembers he started a forest fire once and was embarrassed by it. He burned around his cabin every year and it got away from him. The burn exposed a cast iron stove he had tried to move to his lower cabin. It even defeated Monte. Hinton said he couldn't even budge a corner of the thing. Another time he used his shoulder to lift and nudge a cabin into position that he helped another guy build. He liked women and had a number of women visitors. He worked for others when he could find work, but he always left himself an out. He had many a cache stored around a four county area to give him a wide range and an "out" if he needed it.
The above pictures show Monte's smaller cabin, one of the log bridges and a cache wired into a hollow of an oak tree. He kept his food in water tight, vermin proof containers. He grew 500 pounds of potatoes a year and kept them buried in oak leaves near his cabin.He would have enjoyed knowing people are still talking and reading about him today.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


For many years after Monte Wolf's disappearance, his main cabin was kept in repair by a group of interested citizens from Calaveras County calling themselves The Friends of Monte Wolf Society. The trail to the one remaining is difficult to find, but Monte hasn't been forgotten. People still remember him, his haunts and wonder what could have happened to him? No trace of Monte was ever found.
Harry Schimke (pictured above) made a point of trying to find out what could have happened to Monte. He voiced three credible theories:
When the Lindord's went looking for Monte, they found his lower cabin door ajar. There was a dead cat inside, all skeletonized. The cabins were about 7 miles apart deep in the Stanislaus canyons. At his upper cabin was another dead cat. His furs were still hanging. He hadn't shipped them. It was obvious he meant to come back. Fred Day, and others, believed that Louis Bauer made good on his promise to kill him. Day put the question to Bauer at the Camp Connell Store. "What happened to Wolfe?" Bauer answered, "I'll tell you what happened to Wolfe..." but someone came in the store and Bauer clammed up. People who knew Bauer gave that theory some weight.
But the most plausable theory is that he went fishing. Others who knew him said his fishing creel and his favorite pole were missing. In April when the snow is melting, the runoff in those streams can grind you up and tuck you away. The turbulent water would be filled with boulders and pieces of broken timber. But why would Monte stop in the middle of breakfast, (there were bisquits drying on the oven door) and suddenly go fishing? Unless he was called away from his meal by someone he knew, Bauer? Slim Hinton, who knew him claimed he had an efficient fish trap on the river and a dozen log bridges across the river where he crossed frequently and hung out. He knew better than to tangle with a melt swollen creek.
"Monte was in the process of building a new cabin," explained Harry. "Harold Lombardi and my brother Art ran into it one time on horseback. It was already head high and sitting on a beautiful flat spot next to the river around Grouse Creek. Monte's tools were still laying around the site. After Monte disappeared Bill Lunsford and I went on foot looking for that cabin. from Grouse Valley, to Camp Irene and down river to Grizzly Ski Area, every flat possible. The spot that Harold pointed out as the new cabin site sat below a 200 to 250 foot bluff. The river sits in front of it. Trees become airborne and are sheared 75 to 100 feet in the air. At the foot of the bluff is the debris typical of avalanche. Avalanches are common there. I think he could have been trapped by an avalanche.
No one knows what killed Monte Wolf, but his exploits are still talked about today.
To be Continued...

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Mountain man Monte Wolfe chose the rugged canyons of the Sierra Nevadas as his home where he could range unhindered over several hundred square miles, hunting, trapping and fishing. He prided himself on his ability to live off the land and turned himself into a legend in the process. He loved the grandeur of the mountains and the quiet, privacy it offered. He liked people,too, on his terms. Some swore he was a wanted man, and were afraid of him. Others loved him for his unique lore of the woods and his willingness to share it. Monte disappeared in 1940. Those who knew him speculate that he would have enjoyed the controversy and mystery his disappearance caused.
Harry Schimke of Sonora was the last person to see him alive. He and his brother Art had a cabin in the Stanislaus range where they wintered and knew Monte from 1936 to 1940. Monte visited them whenever they were in camp.
"When I first met Monte," said Harry, "he was hiring out as a mountain guide from a tent at Tamarack. He'd take hunters and fishermen into the remote canyons. When he wasn't on a trip, he'd put on a campfire for the summer people. He was quite a showman and he'd tell great stories of his hunts with a lot of flourish. It was obvious he liked to entertain. Near Tamarack was a guy and his wife, Retha and Louis Bauer. They were good friends for years but not long after I met him, they had a falling out and Monte avoided their place. Louie would sit all day with a jug and lace his wine with pepper to spice it up a bit. Louie had it in for Monte and spoke viciously about "getting" Monte someday and I believe he was capable of doing Monte in. It was rumored Monte had an affair with Retha and Louis hated him for it. Louis was such a drunk and M0nte was so normal, and a virile man. I believed it. Besides, Retha was half Indian like Monte.
"Anyway, he gave up his GUIDE operation and continued to sell furs, hunt, fish, garden and live off the land. He'd have a drink with us at the cabin, or if someone else was buying, he'd drink at the bar, but he didn't buy drink, nor smokes. I never saw him inebriated.
"Monte turned into a superman after he disappeared, but he wasn't a superman really. He was a small guy about 165 pounds, but he was tough. He could hike miles up and down hill through rough country with a 100 pound pack on his back like it was nothing. He had huge calf muscles from all that hiking and he wasn't young. I remember him talking about being in WWI, but he was in such good shape he looked like he was in his forties. He had a habit of disappearing for months and then he's just pop in on you. I think he liked the idea of being a little mysterious and not telling anybody too much about his past.
"I liked Monte but he wasn't well liked by everyone. For one thing, he tended to take things that didn't belong to him. If something was left unused, he'd take it an use it. It was his way, but it caused resentments. Then there was his problem with Louis Bauer. He had a few scrapes with the law but the constable considered him harmless and didn'[t act on them. Some people said he was an ex-con running from the law. People were a little afraid of him. He had a temper if you got him riled up. And, no one knew for sure what his real name was. Veda Linford knew him well and wrote a book on Monte called Monte, The Lone Wolf of the Mokelumne. Its pretty accurate.
He stayed with us one night at Alpine. He took off the next morning on his skis. It was January, 1940. I saw his tracks up around Wheeler Lake on April 1st. That was the last sign of Monte Wolf. In June, the Linfords went to his cabins and found no sign of Monte. The last date marked off his calendar was April 20th.
To be continued.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Its not too often you find a small plastic container with a cardboard identifier that is recyclable. HOSA is an American company out of Buena Park, California that sells cables and plugs and jacks and stuff electronic on-line. My appreciation is expanded when I find a corporation that is willing to do things in an earth friendly way. I'll make sure and use them the next time I need a cable and I hope you consider doing the same.
Its just a small thing but our generation was raised on the adage-every little bit helps!

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Bob Gambol backpacked the world over a period of six years. He started when he was 55 years old. My "chance encounter" with Bob proved to be interesting indeed. Not only do I now regard him and his partner Hilda as friends, but I get to share his story in bits and pieces with my readers. This excerpt is from China in 1991 after leaving Kazakstan by train.
"They moved us from the train to a bus which must have had a special engine to make those grades in winter. I got put on top of the bus. I had bought a better coat while I was in Peru, and some ear muffs, so I was okay at that cold elevation.
“I got down at Gilgit. There I bought needed supplies. In a couple of villages along the way I had to sleep with the goats. I carried my own sleep sack, but it’s a fact of life traveling like I did that you get scabies, bed bugs, lice. I got it all. There I had to wash my clothes in a glacial river and dry them over a smoky fire. I hiked up over a 14,000 foot pass. The local kids in this one village wanted to carry my pack, I’d be huffing and puffing. It weighed 50 pounds, and I would have liked to let them carry it for me, but I was worried they’d take off running with it and I’d never get it back. I finally let them carry my knapsack. I took pictures of the kids and mailed them to them when I got home. Probably the only snapshots they ever saw. The view there was breathtaking; the air clean and crisp. The people friendly and beautifully costumed.
"At this elevation they had an animal similar to the llama they used for packing, clothing and meat."
to be continued

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I remember from years ago when the old folks would visit and discuss their illnesses, medications and operations. I'd shake my head in disgust and say, I'm never going to do that when I get old. BORING! Its kind of funny that when someone else has surgery, its pretty commonplace, right? Everyone has surgery, or so it seems. But when they are cutting on your own tender meat, that's different.
I had a massive, supposedly unrepairable rotator cuff with two detached tendons. That was one surgeon's diagnosis. A second from Dr. Kauffman of Sacramento Knee And Sports Medicine saw things differently and completely attached both tendons, sewed the cap and did it all orthoscopically. I'm totally impressed and doing grrrrrrreat, as Tony The Tiger would say. The staff was fun and competent and ON TIME. The surgery took less time than allotted. My anesthetic was two Celebrex and some numbing agent, two other little pills. I got home at 8:00 p.m. last night and I'm up and about today, much to my surprise. The top photo is in the prep room at the surgery center. The bottom photo is me in my Laz-E-Boy bed acting a bit goofy with an EKG of the brain. The most fun is when Jim comes in with a napkin over his arm and in pseudo french offers me a Celebrex on a plate. Laughter is healing and I'm done, finished with this subject.
Thanks for bearing with me.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Its always nice when the family shows up to celebrate birthdays, or just get together. Since I'm having serious surgery this afternoon, it was nice to have one last weekend of family fun, good food and wine. The little ones get to do things they can't do at home, like haul in wood and jump on the trampoline and mess up the house, and spend more time on computer than is allowed at home. The best part is they entertain grandma.
The adults get in a game or two, catch up on family news and enjoy each other's company in general. I would have to admit we specifically enjoyed Stevenot's Pinot Grigio 06 and Folie A Deux Menage a Trois, a delightful blend of zin, cab and merlot and Pizza at Mountain Mikes with Michelob Amber Bock. The next few weeks will be thin. My life partner claims I'll lose 20 pounds on his cooking, but I can always make up for it with lottsa beer and take out. (Besides, the neighbors promise to rescue me.)