Thursday, April 30, 2009


Collecting and the things people collect fascinate me. Probably because I'm a traveler and collector myself. My daughter-in-law started collecting elephants as a pre-teen and relatives and friends continue to add to her collection. Some people have the ability to resist collecting things, others don't. What fascinated me about Laurie's elephant collection is the many guises an elephant could take, from swizzle sticks, jewelry, wind chimes, baskets, tea pots, cookie jars, ash trays to musical instruments. She adroitly places them about the house, approximately 800 of them, in places they are visible, and yet fit into the general decor. Not easily done. I photo inventoried her collection for insurance purposes and wish I'd kept a copy of the photos to enjoy and share.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


My life partner Jim has done the Atkins diet, and would avoid bread if it was in any way avoidable. My view is that life is too short to do without good bread, so he has capitulated. Of course, even if it takes a chainsaw to cut through it, as he complained over this last wonderful, but very hard crust, we still eat it. Shucks, a sprinkle of water and a quick zap in the microwave renders it edibile. Besides sustainance, a good, hard, chewy crust cleans your teeth and gives you a visceral wolf-like feel. It can change your personality in one, tearing bite.
Good bread has always been a staple in my life, but my good friend, Fred Williams, who did some time in the Navy brig on bread and water stamped that nugget of wisdom home for me. "...but, it was the best bread I ever ate," claimed Fred. "It made me really appreciate how bread became the staff of life." For the rest of his life, Fred made it a point to enjoy good bread. And, I will... even if it takes a chainsaw.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


This antenna is slated to go the way of the buggy whip and I, for one, lament its passing. When commercial and government interests join hands to keep signals from delivering freely through the air and stop them in a box or cable before they reach the receiver, I'm not convinced its in my best interest.
In Calaveras County we were promised that cable would be competitive and keep prices low. I've seen cable prices go up, up and up with the same cable company delivering cheaper prices in Oakland, for instance, with more choices, than in my community. The cable companies have bought into satellite networks making competition pretty nil.
How does this affect us when we travel? In Spain, can I get CNN? Or is it controlled? No more American television in Italy unless U.S. interests place what they want seen there? Hmmm! Its a sorry fact of life that most U.S. Citizens no longer trust their government.
What about Public Television, the most revered broadcasting program available according to surveys. Will we have to pay a premium to see PBS down the line?
The companies that make antennas apparently don't have a strong enough lobby to complain about the government shutting down THEIR businesses.
Maybe what we need to do more than anything else, is protect radio signals with all our might before they enclose them in a cable box and feed us what they want us to hear as well. I particularly dislike the Communications Commission attitude toward the people's right to the airwaves. After all, our airwaves, like free speech, water, and oxygen should not be sold to the highest bidder. Other countries have control of their channels and they dedicate one or more as an election channel so elections are not so expensive. Our government could do the same but doesn't. And, God knows, we need cheaper electioneering. I guess this is a rant.

Friday, April 24, 2009


The weekend is full of attractive venues in the Mother Lode, but if nothing excites you, come and see the Big Trees. This group of young people made great sport of attempting to push the "Big Tree" stump an inch or two. Hah!
Art In The Park from noon to 4 p.m. in Jamestown Saturday with wine and violins may interest you.
The Valley Springs Jazz Festival from 10am to 9pm at the Terrace on Saturday, with great bands. Online info or call 209 772-3000.
Sierra Repertory opens "Around The World In 80 Days" Friday through May 24. 209 532-3120.
Murphys Creek Theatre has two comedies, "Laundry And Bourbon" and "Lone Star", Fridays and Saturdays at Black Bart Playhouse through May 17. 209-728-8422, (for mature audiences.)
Sonora Spring Festival 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat. features bands, a chili cook off, art, activities and demonstrations for all ages. 209 532-7725.
Competitors from all over the world come for the Bob Mernickle Fast Draw Challenge 10am Saturday and Sunday at the Mother Lode Gun Club in Jamestown. 847-0483.
And, "Barefoot In The Park" by Stage 3 through May 17. 209 537-1778. Sonora.
Gold Rush Day: A Miner's Picnic", Sat. at the Angels Camp Museum. There is frog jumping, Gold Rush Impersonators, gold panning, and haircuts. Haircuts? 209-736-4658.
A Double Horseshoes Tournament will begin at 10 am. $40 per team, price includes a barbeque lunch and prizes or just come and watch. 209 743-5119.
Cinco De Mayo Family Festival Sat. 5 to 9p.m. Mother Lode Fairgrounds Sonora. Mariachi music, games, dinner, 209 984-0888. But, hey, I'd try those haircuts.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Have you read about those contest local communities have where they vote for the best area taco, or burrito, or grocer, and so on?
They are appealing and amusing and prod you to go on a taste test. Now, the best squid, rubbery and smokey and delicious can be had at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan. Yes, I know its a long way to go, but don't miss this vendor when you are there. The corn wasn't bad either. Just thought I'd let you know.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Traveling through Pennsylvania mining country during the 1970's, I was shocked at the ugly slag heaps and stagnant pools of water scarring the landscape. Living in a Western state gives you a rosier view of what the country could and should look like. Mining may be a necessary and dirty business but lets not call it clean.
There is an army of lobbyists descending on Washington to prevent any legislation to clean air (read curb climate change) at the expense of coal. The brazen rebranding effort by The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity is un-American. Peddling lies is so common by major corporations, we don't even notice it any more. Let no one be convinced there is such a thing as a healthy cigarette or clean coal. The American coal industry pumps 2 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year, 1/3 of the nations greenhouse gas emissions. They are spending millions on this slick campaign to convince you they are committed to clean coal instead of investing in technologies to help curb their emissions.
Looking at coal another way, in 1955, the Kingston, TN. mine infected an area forty times larger that the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska when a billion gallons of toxic sludge broke a dike and rolled down hill into the ground, water, and homes of Eastern, Tennessee. As recent as last year, miners were killed in an underground mine with multiple safety violations. Black lung, battered and exploited communities, explosions and brutal strikes for fair wages is the true legacy of coal. And, yes, power transmission.
How serious is the coal industry about cleaning up its act? Can it happen? Or, are they just pushing a crafty makeover that will negatively impact our energy future and way lay cleaner energy for years to come?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


There is a spot in the ocean the size of the United States filled with plastic bags. They cause ove100,000 water bird deaths each year. Some are dumped there by ships, or tossed on beaches. Most of them get there by washing down waterways and eventually into the ocean. An estimated one million plastic bags make their way into San Francisco Bay each year, endangering hundreds of species of animals and birds. They pollute drinking water and even minor clean-up efforts by individual communities cost tax dollars better used elsewhere.

The Ocean Protection Council has listed reducing plastic bag use as a key priority in its strategic plan to protect California waterways. They can't do this without first developing a Master Environmental Assessment, however. Please ask your friends and family to join us as we urge Governor Schwarzenegger to require this critical assessment! >>

The San Francisco Bay is the largest estuary on the West Coast and is particularly vulnerable to plastic litter and debris. Thirty percent of California's land and thousands of miles of creeks and rivers drain to the Bay.

Right now, there are 100 plastic bags for every seal, duck and pelican. We can all help by using our own shopping bags. My net bag holds more than I can lift. It never tears. It folds up and fits into a small corner of my purse. I carry two other, larger cloth grocery bags in my car between the driver and passenger seat so I don't forget them when I go shopping. We can make a huge difference with very little effort.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Yesterday, Wikipedia provided information on the George Clymer Columbian Press, one of which is located at Quyle Kilns in Murphys.
Pam Quyle very graciously sent me more information on the press, which follows:

Hello Mary, The press is an 1825 George Clymer Columbian Press. Clymer patented the press design before the war of 1812. It is considered an American invention. However, the Colonial printers rejected it preferring the ease of mobility (and cost savings) of the wooden press (getting out of town before being tared and feathered...) Clymer took his wooden prototypes and moved back to England in 1817 and set up a foundry outside of London and produced the cast iron presses there for many years. They sold very well in Europe where print shops stayed in one place. Clymer changed the ornamentation on the presses from year to year. First changing the coiled serpent of the thirteen colonies for a sea serpent and adding a cornucopia of fruits around the brass face plate, and offering other counterweights other than the American Eagle . (The French however preferred the American motifs as they were geared up for revolution also. ) The presses sold throughout Europe and were widely copied. The press we have here in Murphys was sold to a print shop in Nottingham England in 1825 and is one of 12 remaining made by Clymer himself. Paul Quyle (Pam's father) heard it was for sale (in 1962) through an English printing friend, and cabled a bid of two hundred dollars for it which they accepted, boxed it and shipped it to us. Six of his presses have been brought back to the Americas and the other six are still in Europe. In California there are 5 presses, one at UC Davis, ours and three at a printing museum in Los Angeles. The sixth one is at the university at Reno Nevada. Clymer died at age 80 in 1834. The Columbian press continued to be manufactured for many years after his death. However every year shows progressively less ornamentation and the presses became strictly utilitarian. Our press is in perfect working order and sits in our pottery show room in Murphys where it's story entertains (and surprises) our guests daily. Eventually we plan to donate it to a library who will cherish it as we have. The Smithsonian had one on display for many years and just closed their printing section and sent theirs to that printing museum in LA. (Humph!) Thanks for your interest, sincerely Pamela Quyle


A trip to the Mother Lode Community of Murphys wouldn't be complete without stretching up Highway 4, just above town, to Quyle Kilns. Pottery isn't the only attraction at Quyles. Pam Quyle's showroom has watercolors, glass art, jewelry, the work of other potters, pounded copper, and various other wonders. Pam is a most congenial and knowledgeable hostess and central to the showroom is a George Clymer Printing Press, one of a huge collection on the property.
Clymer, an American Mechanic invented the Columbian Printing Press, basically, an iron, lever operated, and more efficient replacement for the wooden Gutenberg Press. He chose to decorate the press with eagles and serpents and other additions to set it apart from competitor's presses.
Besides the Clymer, photos above show an unusual color glaze and a second firing glaze batch ready for the kiln.
Delores Quyle, Pam's sister, and her husband, Stewart Mast, have fine wines and a tasting room nearby. You can't miss being entertained and enchanted by the talents of the Quyle family.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Some people really get into their photography and I enjoyed watching this woman's technique. Tulips are ablaze where the daffodils have finished. At Kautz Ironstone Winery, you can Tiptoe Through The Tulips. Come up and enjoy the flowers.

Friday, April 17, 2009


If you want rollicking laughter, Neil Simons Barefoot In The Park opens tonight and plays through May 17th at 208 S. Green St. , Sonora. Stage 3 theatre. Call 209 536-1778 for info.
The 30th annual Old Mill Run, Saturday, Columbia Park begins registration at 7 a.m. Call 209 586-4802.
The 5th Annual Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival stops at Newsome Harlow Tasting Room, Saturday, Main St. Murphys at 6:30 p.m. starting with wine tasting. The Greening Of Southie shows at 7:45 p.m. Admission free.
Big Band Meets Latin featuring Mario Flores Latin Jazz Band at 7:30 p.m. in the Dogwood Theatre Columbia College, Saturday, April 18th., call 209-588-5211.
Blues Jam spreads to Murphys, Saturday 1-6 p.m. at the Nugget Bar in Murphys. Individual artists and bands are welcome to join the jam, full bands are limited to three, on a first come basis. Free admission.
Sheron Mc Carthy Scholarship Concert 2p.m. Sunday, at the Bret Harte Theatre in Angels Camp. Tickets at the door.
A dessert tasting contest (a benefit) will be held at Sonora Elks Lodge Sunday, April 19 from 2-4 p.m. Desserts from local restaurants, yum! Call 209 533-1397.
The 60th Annual Columbia Wine tasting 1-4 p.m. Columbia Park, Sunday.
The Sierra Rock Garden Society will hold a free Spring Garden Tour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.-free. Five local gardens will be featured. Call 209 532-8094.
There is a children's fair, numerous art happenings, a classic car run, open air markets and more this weekend in the Mother Lode.
Next week April 21-25 think about catching the 16th Annual Art Glass Show with a Saturday reception 11-4 at My Glass Shop, 291 South Washington St., Sonora. And the fast draw contest April 24 & 25 at the Mother Lode Gun Club on Jamestown Rd. in Sonora. Fun for everybody.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


There was a time when birds of all types flew and sounded in and about the yard, on the road, and wherever we moved about. Its getting harder and harder to find them now. These finches crowding the bird feeder are a welcome sight. Audubon once observed that song birds were so numerous when he caught birds to paint, flocks taking flight could blacken the summer sky in front of him. We've come a long way down since then. I keep that in mind when I see a bird in the wild or those attracted to a feeder. Efforts to save bird habitat are working. We now see ospreys nesting in the mother lode. Neighbors are putting up western blue bird boxes. Saturday, in Sonora, the Audubon Society is selling various sized birdhouses, bat houses and bird feeders at the West America Bank parking lot 14729 Mono Way, East Sonora. The American Native Plant Society is also having its annual sale at the same time. No time was given but you can check on line.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


This lemon is 8" tall to the top of the stem, a marvelous specimen from Danville. Being raised in Upper Michigan, lemons were expensive and rare in our part of the country. When I first moved to Murphys, I planted a Myer lemon tree on the south west corner of my house. It grew and produced lemons for 11 years before a hard freeze backed it off to the ground. It didn't actually kill it, but it never came back with vigor. As a mix for drinks, condiments, many ways to use them. Favorite recipes come to mind. The juice with baking soda makes a good cleaner. Now, my question is, why do they call a failed auto a "lemon". I drive a truck purchased under the lemon law and it runs just fine, thank you.
I don't recommend you plant a lemon tree in the mother lode, but, mine did very well by me.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Around the Mother Lode, these massive oaks are distinctive among the much more prolific live oak that is common to our environment. Unfortunately, they are not regenerating as well as they should. The causes are many and scientists are working on why. Perhaps that is why I appreciate them so much. I do know I took four acorns and planted them on my property and I now have two young trees about 15 feet tall. This particular oak on my road is a "healer". It has lost numerous branches over the years, but they heal over. The bark actually grows over the wound and heals the tree. It takes a long time for this type of healing to take place and I can't help but admire its fighting spirit.
There is a poem by Henry Cuyler Bunner worth reading entitled The Heart Of The Tree-
What does he plant who plants a tree?
He plants a friend of sun and sky;
A shaft of beauty, towering high;
And seed and bud of days to be...
I've always been sappy about trees.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Whenever friends come to Murphys, I bring them by the "toilet" store. Unique toilets, to be sure. Pieces of art from the past that speak for themselves. Tom Scheller and Mike Skenfield opened this place as a mail order shop called the IDEA store (late 1960's)) and it once had a huge Clivus Multrum composting toilet on display. (Think Alcatraz). Imagine a shower that had seven or eight arms. (The shower sold and I can no longer show it off.) Its worth a trip to Murphys just to see this place with its plumbing fixtures and other amazing working gadgets from the past.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Easter was almost as wonderful as Christmas when we were kids. Lent was over and the hoarded goodies could then be eaten, stale, along with decorated eggs and a chocolate treat. We'd get decked out in our best finery, always a hat, and head for church. It was a parade of sorts as the women wore their newest hat and gloves, maybe a new dress and shoes. Neighbors stopped outside to chat and preen just a little bit before heading home for a ham dinner.
Here in the mother lode weather has proved unpredictable. Last week the neighborhood horses basking in the lush grass and sunshine have now been covered with winter coats. The daffodils are beaten to the ground in recent rains, the squirrels have retreated to their warm nests.
Though it is Easter Sunday, hardly anyone wears a fancy hat anymore, but this delightful hat display is a reminder of Easter's past and prudently defies the weather.

Her feet beneath her petticoat
Like little mice, stole in and out,
As if they feared the light;
But oh, she dances such a way!
No sun upon an Easter-day
Is half so fine a sight.
(From Ballad Upon A wedding-1641)

Oh, enter spring and new beginnings.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Randy Vining is a unique character who chooses to live full time traveling the country in his "stealth" RV. When Randy stopped in Murphys for a few days, Producer, Paul Moeller decided to feature his interesting vehicle and lifestyle on a program for Public Access.
Randy likes the anonymity his vehicle gives him. He can pull into any parking lot, or reasonable space and stop for lunch, or a nap, or wait out a storm, then pick up and be on his way.
The vehicle is a featherweight cargo trailer converted through his own inventiveness into 84 sq. feet of living space. It contains a shower, toilet, holding tanks, refrigerator, stove and a bed. Not that you can see them. The vents are really windows. He has solar panels on the roof. Its hard to believe that he can manage his favorite radio station, television, a computer desk and all of the comforts of what the rest of us call home, in such a small space. RVers tend to live light inside and heavy outside where the weather is pleasant and cares are few. (No mortgage). Randy has been retired for 35 years, much of it spent on the road, and wouldn't want to live any other way. Travel as a way of life gives him the time to write his poetry, philosophical essays, indulge his curiousity about people he meets, and visit quirky places in this country most of us have never heard about. Check him out at www. and I loved hearing his stories from the road. Local Access in Calaveras County is Channel 7.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Two great musical groups will play at Sutter Creek Theatre on Sat., April 25 at 8:00-West of Next and Faux Renwah. High energy and lots of fun.

SUTTER CREEK THEATRE has been nominated as Best Indie Theatre for the KCRA 3 "A" List!
Great community and great arts and entertainment. If you are visiting the mother lode check them out: .
Egg hunts and other Easter activities in Calaveras and Tuolumne County galore, but one of the largest Easter events in the foothills is the Victorian Easter Celebration Sunday in Columbia with an Easter Parade at 12:30 on Sunday. The Murphys Angels Lions Club holds their Egg Hunt at Ironstone Vineyards.
Sonora Smokepolers host a black powder shoot Friday through Sunday at Camp Six-Bits in the Red Hills near Chinese Camp.
A poultry show at Calaveras County Fairgrounds; an Art Walk in Murphys, and Pet Photographs all on Saturday. Something for everyone.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Its not often that your next door neighbor is in a sling at the same time you are. I guess we are the "sling sisters". Suzy Hayes is the best neighbor even if she is a "copycat."
Always helpful, funny and she cooks for me when I am down. Its been so much fun having her for a neighbor, I can't imagine it any other way. The traditional saying about friends being gold is true.
I had rotator cuff surgery and Suzy had elbow surgery. She will be out of her sling soon. I still have a month and much therapy to go.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


THE MAN HIMSELF We love the verve of youth and I found this guy on
Pretty cool lookin' cat, huh! Check him out. I looked at his content and realized he knows more about musical instruments than I know about raising kids. His music is stuff I never heard of and if I'm to keep up with the world and understand where its going, I'd better get with it and tune into youth. Obama is leading the way. So, I joined facebook, twitter, plax-something-or-other, but blogging has become my passion. It is an outlet for a writer like no other. It keeps me in touch with the world of senior citizens, working people, activism, social movements and youth alike.
I particularly like this guy, though. His name is Mason Matzek. I guess its no coincidence that my name is Matzek, too. I'm so proud to have a grandson that is wholesome, intelligent, interested in music, and fun to be with. He and I will be vacationing in Thailand in December. When we return, we can both share our experiences with everyone via this amazing tool.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Some years ago, an old dilapidated mining shack visible from Highway 49 between Angels Camp and San Andreas was threatening to fall over. It became habit to check it out at each passing to make sure it was still there. Eventually, the local newspaper got into the act and speculated, on behalf of its readers. how long might the old relic last? It diminished month by month, board by board and finally fell. I miss the old wooden shacks and barns that populated this rural county. It is sad to see them lose the battle with time. I've photographed a number of beautiful old barns that have since disappeared. Various artists have painted the old relics and saved them for posterity. And, I will periodically, photograph those I see and share them with you. Old mining equipment lasts longer, but, it too will lose the battle to rust some day.

Monday, April 6, 2009


California is only green for a few short months. Folks riding the steam train talked and sighed appreciatively over the beauty and coolness of the green, green hills surrounding us as we moved along Woods Creek through mining country. All too soon the heat is on and the grass turns brown.
Sometimes we forget how much the animals enjoy and count on the grass and wildflowers for forage. These fat horses engorge than lie down for a rest before getting up and eating more. I imagine the deer are snorting their appreciation as well.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


It tickles me how much the locals love their old locomotive steam train here in Jamestown, an old gold rush conclave four miles west of Sonora. Free to locals for opening weekend, we were entertained by a fiddler and regaled with wonderful gold fever stories told by a docent conductor. The huge nugget at Kautz winery was pulled from Jamestown, or Jimtown, as it is lovingly knicknamed. The train was loaded and the locals don't care that they have to stop at crossroads for the slow moving engine. They don't mind the two long, one short and one long blast of the screaming steam whistle as it warns its approach to the crossings and wakes up the whole town. The kids on board were delighted and recognized that this ride is something different, something special. Right out of the movies, in fact. Over 200 movies and/or television episodes were filmed here in part, using the train and environs. We decided to watch "The Unforgiven" , after spending the day in Jimtown and riding this special attraction. The working steam train and round house, are the only ones that exist west of the Mississippi River. Don't miss it.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Photographs enhance a trip, no doubt. Our memories come flooding back in detail when prompted by an old photo. But, what do you do with over 3,000 slides and 2,000 stills that sit in albums you haven't picked up in years?
Jim found a scanner for slightly over $100 designed to specifically scan slides and photos. The quality is good and the ability to post slides on the internet and use them, or transfer them to a photo frame tempted him to put in the time.
He estimates he put in 100 hours over several weeks on the slides. Photos aren't finished yet. To quote him: "The trip down memory lane was worth it."

Friday, April 3, 2009


Sierra Repertory Theatre is 30 years old and repeating Dracula, their first production. This rendition is much more sophisticated since their growth and maturity. Sierra Repertory draws more than 60,000 people a season to East Sonora and Fallon House Theatres. Dracula plays through April 19th. Fiddler On The Roof finishes its run this weekend. Last night was again a full house for Fiddler. The picture above is of the set since cast pictures are not allowed. The show is everything one could desire, humor, wonderful, strong voices and pathos. Stage 3 will continue its music series with a performance by Coyote Hill, Sat. at 7P.M. Location 208 S. Green St. downtown Sonora.
This weekend, the Steam train at Jamestown opens for the season. Local residents ride free. La Grange hosts a weekend rodeo Sat. & Sun. Afternoons. Food all day, beginning at 7:00 for breakfast. Kelly Flynn plays Sat. at the Jack Douglass Saloon, Columbia Historic Park. The choices are many. Come visit.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


When I first moved to the Mother Lode, people would ask me, "What do you do?" Inherent in that question was another, 'aren't you bored?' Nobody asks that anymore, and, I've never been bored. Paul Moeller is known in the area as Mr. Community Television. He started Calaveras Community Television in 1983. He went on to help nearby Amador, and Tuolumne Counties start their access programs. He taught video classes at Columbia College and at every school in the county. He promoted building a studio and it was built with the expertise of a volunteer contractor and volunteer labor. A stunning achievment. Paul is an indefatigable producer recognized everywhere he goes. He has produced 5,000 shows for Public Access in Calaveras County. At 82 years old, he is still shooting every week.
Here he is taping myself and the Ramblin Man, Jim Jaillet and interestingly, Jim has produced 95 Public Access programs for Olympia Public Access in Washington State and I've worked on over 85 programs for Public Access here in Calaveras County, mostly as an anchor. There are activities for every interest in the Motherlode. I'm probably biased but I think Calaveras County is the jewel of the Motherlode.