Sunday, July 28, 2013


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Virginia and the kids came up for the weekend, kind of a last fling at the flume, some blackberry picking, which Doug calls “black pearls”,  and picking peaches out of my much neglected orchard. Some plums were ripe, too.
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I dunked my feet in the water and just kept cool.
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We relaxed…
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Owen brought a book.
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We enjoyed a nice cool watermelon after our cool dunk.
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Back at the house, Owen decided to take a nap with the timer set…on his head while the rest of us tackled the peach tree. Actually, Theo picked while I held the ladder.
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While we got a good volume of peaches, they are small and bird pecked so I only set one strip out to dry. Virginia took the rest of them home to turn into jam, along with a big container of plums.
I practiced my Massachusetts pronunciations so I don’t say things wrong and get shunned.
Worcester: Wuhsta or Wistah,
Gloucester:  Glaw-stah
Leicester: Lestah
Woburn: Woo-ban
Dedham: Dead-um
Tewksbury:  Tooks-berry
Leominster: Lemin-stah
Summerset: Sam-ah-set or Sum-aw-set
never: nevah
There, that ought to do it.

Saturday, July 27, 2013


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My friend Marll is selling her house in Forest Meadows and came to check on progress. She spent the night in her "former" home and really missed being in the foothills. She waxed poetic about musical events at Bryce Station Winery, the food the fun, the mountain air she misses.
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Twice this trip home I've stopped to chat with sisters Pam and Delores, and the winery barrel garden was in full bloom.
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One trip home to Murphys I did make one of the events, and the caterer they use is the best I've tasted at any of the wine events. Well, some are more fancy than this couple who barbeque and hand you an ample plate of delicious food. I'll take the casual anytime, but I don't know their names. You just have to go.
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Of course, barrel gardens take a lot of water, everyday, sometimes twice a day in this weather.
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Luscious. The winery is owned by Delores and Stewart Mast, terrific people. And, just across the driveway is Quyle Kiln
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Delores and Pam's parents  have made high quality dinnerware here since about 1926.  Pam is the potter and she features 28 others displaying wares and giving classes in her pottery. The winery and pottery make a great mix. Don't miss it if you travel between Murphys and Arnold on Highway 4. It is located just below Forest Meadows. Great wine, flowers, events with music, wine and good food, and a gift of beautiful pottery if you are so inclined.

Friday, July 26, 2013


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My daughter-in-law and I trekked to Chico, about  three hours north of us, to visit friends and family. Laurie has a 91-year-old aunt in nearby Hamilton, and my 80-year-old sister is staying with her daughter in nearby Durham.  We gassed up in Valley Springs before leaving and I took a picture of this “only in America” truck. How high can you go?  The kid driving it told me he drives out in the hills with it and likes high clearance.
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Our first stop was Durham, 25 minutes from Chico, where my sister, who is recuperating from lung cancer surgery,  was doing very well. She was fixing her own breakfast and pain-free. It’s just a matter of gaining strength, she says.
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Her daughter, Debbie, convinced her to move into one of those assisted living places in Chico.
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It’s called The Terraces and we spent about two hours inspecting the place, walking around, getting oriented to her room and the many activity centers. We met newcomers like she will soon be, checked out the pool and a small lake. It’s like a fancy hotel. She’ll have a sunny corner unit with two bedrooms and she wont have to cook if she doesn’t want to.
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Debbie, her husband Bob, Dawn and I enjoyed dinner at Michael Christians,  a popular Chico Restaurant. My daughter-in-law went to a concert with friends she stayed with.
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The next morning, I took a walk before breakfast, with my camera, of course. These cute cottontails are everywhere.
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The neighbor has a handsome bull that Bob says is just a pet. They don’t raise cattle, or butcher their meat.
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Debbie and Bob have two Paint horses and at one time raised and bred Angus Cattle as a side-line. Their kids are now bringing home the grand-kids to ride, so they keep the horses. Bob is hoping to retire from teaching in a couple of years. Debbie has taught special needs students, and worked in counseling and school administration over the years. With the recent cut-backs in education funding, she is back in the class room teaching mentally disturbed children.
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An avid quilter, she made a wall hanging for her mother to hang in her new digs at the Terraces. I was impressed with the place and am happy to see that my sister is looking forward to downsizing and embracing a new role. When she was diagnosed with lung cancer she asked the surgeon if she should make out her will. “He said, yeah, but not because you have lung cancer.”  She is doing remarkably well, and she already had a will.  Her surgery was July 2nd.

Monday, July 22, 2013


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Doug and Jose have a yearly ritual of picking wild blackberries. They pick enough for pies, jam, and some for best friends, as well. Doug is the pro and leads the pack. His banner year was 57 quarts when the berries cooperated. Doug is washing his pick while Norma is picking thorns out of her husband’s arms.
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Grandson Stewart picked for the first time this year, as well has my son Ken, who hasn’t lived in the county since his last year of high school.
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Ken showed his pick.
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And his scars. Doug decided Ken deserved his berry picking medal.
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They picked three huge thorns out of his head, too. (Mom’s hint: WEAR LONG PANTS, LONG SLEEVES AND A HAT.)
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Antony said, I picked some of those, too. He has the stains on his shirt to prove it. He picked into small containers and dumped into the bigger bowls. He is only six but likes to be like the big guys.
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Everyone went to the flume to cool off after picking. Ken’s legs got rinsed and cooled.
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Norma, who has never picked before,  decided this was the year. Abby fell asleep in the car after a short dunk in the flume. She’s only four.
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Everyone snacked and listened to berry tales of derring-do. Stewart is a skeptic.
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Laurie and Stewart played Cribbage, and Stewart beat his mom. Mason claims he doesn’t play because he always wins and it’s boring. (The challenge has been hurtled, Mason.)
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I can’t figure out why Doug likes to barbeque in the heat. Laurie brought a Mexican coleslaw with black beans, peppers and fresh corn. Norma brought Enchiladas that we could warm in the microwave. The chicken and ribs were delish along with some marinated carnitas Norma brought, just for us to taste.
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The guys went out for a second round of picking in the late afternoon when it had cooled a bit. Norma and I stayed inside. She brought me two big Aloe Vera plants and potted them and arranged them in my greenhouse. When Doug was seriously burned, about fifteen years ago, he was able to avoid skin grafts by squeezing fresh aloe vera juice on his burns. When his partner bought the aloe vera salve in a tube, it didn’t have the same effect. It was a long, painful experience. He couldn’t wear a shoe on his foot and he was out of work for nine months. It ended well because of aloe vera. Norma claims she peels it into thin filets and puts it in a blender with milk and other fruits and it retards pain. She has a neuropathy in her foot that is very painful.
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I’m looking forward to trying her smoothie idea.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


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Madaline Krska celebrated her 70th birthday with a theme, a slew of friends, and the idea that we  are all celebrating birthdays and walking in the sun. She was flitting about and being the perfect hostess so it was hard to corner her for a picture. (Her smile is famous.)
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We had an opportunity to don a lei and put a paper flower in our hair. We got name tags and noted our own birthdays…for later.
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Laurie didn’t have enough hair for a flower so she  put her flower on her dress.
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 Some people just don’t know any other language than smile. Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be?
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It was fun to catch up with old friends from the Calaveras Arts Council, Marta and Kevin-artists, both.
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Penny and Glenna.
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Many people I had never met before.
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Character shows.
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Irene is a renownded  activist in the Motherlode.
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Ed Klein is a talented photographer.
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Don was born in January. You can see it on his name tag. I’d never met him before.
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Getting help from your partner.
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Hey, where is your lei?
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The food was wonderful.
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It was interesting to ask people you didn’t know how  had they met Madaline.
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There was a lot of talent roaming around the pool and grounds at the Leger Hotel in Mokelumne Hill, but this woman has the most.  She can put two fingers in her mouth and whistle loud enough to bring the whole crowd to a standstill. I’m ever envious.
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And thus we gathered to toast Madaline and each other in turn, those born in January,  February and March. Those April, May and June. July, August and September, October, November and December, each group in turn.  We all walk in the sun. Penny read off a list of famous people who share Maddie’s birthday and those famous ones who no longer walk in the sun.
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We had our champagne with Little lavender cupcakes from Lila and Sage of Murphys.
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My favorite picture was this one of Maddie’s daughter, Shelly. We had never met before and I found a fellow rambler. A woman who trekked across country by herself in a camper and hopes to do more of the same with a friend as time allows.  While I was setting my camera for my flash, she popped our Mary and Jim card into her hand and held it up. Isn’t that cool?
For the rest of the photos I took, you can click on the link below: