Thursday, June 26, 2014


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Yesterday, I had to drive my Prius back across the river for the body and fender guy to take pictures of the inside of my vehicle so the insurance company could make their decision on whether to total it, or fix it.  This time I remembered my camera. Click the picture to enlarge it and you will be able to see the line of the old road down into the canyon before the dam was built.
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Here is  closer shot. Tree tops are showing that once grew on the river’s bank.
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A closer shot. I used to love to drive this road and was on the side of the protesters trying to keep the river scenic and wild.  A guy named Mark, forgot his last name, tied himself to a rock so that if it flooded he’d drown. His ploy didn’t work, obviously. The protests raged on for months and got desperate toward the end.
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Of course it is all water under the bridge, to quote a cliché. By the way, I had two people ask me why I had to drive the 18 miles to the body shop instead of an insurance adjuster coming out to make the decision. The body shop guy told me, “Oh, we do that. We take the pictures and they make the decision from there. It saves you money” Huh!  Do I believe it saves ME money?  Not for a minute. The woman who hit me paid big premiums for her full coverage, $100 deductible, she told me. Another short cut, downsize jobs. Ugly. I’m very disenchanted with our corporatocracy. We need  some balancing socialized government, like medicare and no child left behind. Similar programs that protect people. Isn’t government supposed to be …by the people, for the people?   It reminded me of a great quote from a man who lived before Christ was born. Ever wise Confucius  said:

When a country is well governed, poverty and a mean condition are things to be ashamed of. When a country is ill governed, riches and honor are things to be ashamed of.

Unfortunately, we do not learn from mistakes of the past.

Monday, June 23, 2014

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Summer solstice, the observance of the longest day of summer, or the beginning of summer, is cause for celebration in many cultures. Five thousand-year old Stonehenge is mobbed on June 20th with people hoping to see the sun, at its highest point, shine through the altar stone. I skipped the evening program, but I enjoyed the afternoon  music, wine and food at Quyles. Bear and Summer Moon Dyken played one slot of three in a beautiful setting, under the trees on a  beautiful Saturday afternoon.
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Bear and Summer Moon are multitalented and well-known in the Mother lode for their music and instrumentation.
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But the real star of the venue was Jill Warren, a newcomer to our area. WOW!  She can make her guitar talk. And, her rendition of old favs, like Summertime?  Amazing. I couldn’t get enough. I tried to buy a CD?  She hasn’t got one. If you are looking for an entertaining, very talented musician, Jill Warren is a great choice. I don’t often do this, but here is her phone number (599) 280-9123. And, She is also on facebook. Jill Warren rocks. I’m hoping the Arts Council will pick her up, but their schedule for this summer is already filled. Hey, Mary Jane, take note for next year.
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So, between events, I poked around Quyle’s to see what’s new or interesting. The blacksmith forge was up and running.
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They have lessons the first Saturday of the month. And then meet and play the third Saturday of the month.  These two boys are the youngest practitioners I’ve ever seen at the forge. They were surrounded by people watching them.  I’m guessing 9 years old and 13?
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Marlene Bradford teaches at the pottery. And this unfired bust is drying before firing. This is her signature talent. Don’t know who made her. Jim Bass was giving lessons on the patio, but he was gone when I returned to take pictures. Always something going on.
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People travel with their dogs, these days. This well-behaved pooch was, I’m sure, glad to be out and about, and not in a backyard. Quyles has several old dogs that found  rescue here.
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I stopped this woman for a picture because her boyfriend was hassling her a bit. I told him she was cuter than he is.
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This bug isn’t real, but I found  two horn worms on an anise plant in the garden. Dolores Quyle, who planned the women only singers for this venue, since the sun-god was a female, told me everything is organic. They even buy organic compost put together from Diestel Turkey Ranch droppings with organic mulch. I once got straight turkey poop for my orchard and it stunk so bad the neighbors held their noses when they walked by my place. Voila!  Now I know where to get good stuff that doesn’t stink. Of course, I’ve neglected my orchard these last five years, one can hardly call it an orchard. Well, maybe someday it will be again.  It was a fun day. Night time revelers were invited to bring a tent and stay the night if they don’t mind sleeping on the grass. Too cool!

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Barbar Grogan, Madelaine Krska,Patty ?
We call ourselves girls, as in girl friends, girls night out. I guess when we are 90 we'll still be girls. Girlfriends are the best, we decided.  Barbara Grogan, Madelaine Krska and Patti Johansen, are from north county. It was touch and go as a fire had the road between San Andreas and Angels Camp closed for a while. They got through and we gratefully hoisted our drinks, and nibbled on appetizers on the patio while the band set up.
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We moved inside to listen to the music and chat. Madelaine talked to Bob Leemans during a break. Men Of Worth will be playing Camps for over a month of weekends, so if you want to catch them, go for it. Their singer is in his eighties and still has a powerful voice. He is a former musical arranger for a host of Hollywood greats, now retired and living in Sonora. We didn't dance, but others took to the floor.
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Barb, Maddie and Patti are old friends of Laurie and Bob Leemans.  Laurie decided to attend her husband's gig another night. Barbara and I did a fair amount of people watching. A table near us had a couple who couldn't see any one else but each other in the room. We chuckled a bit. Been there done that in another life. Before leaving Barbara got a hug from Bob.
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Patti took advantage of Mark Twain's sculpture at Camps Restaurant and Bar entrance,  and hugged him before we left. The sculptor captured Twain's  rascally personality.  It was nice to step out with friends and get someone to commiserate with me on my car.
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We left just as the sun was setting. No matter how busy life gets, friends, music and time away, the perfect solution to off-set the day's tribulations.

Saturday, June 21, 2014


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I'm beastly busy as I get ready for my family & friends reunion over Independence Day weekend. Got the tubes out to be patched and blown up with the compressor.
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Getting some long neglected yard clean-up done, since some people camp in tents under the trees. My old fruit ladder needs a new home. I hate to take it to the dump, but it is too heavy for me to use anymore.  Twelve feet high. Any takers?
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No matter how busy I am, I have to take time for fun projects. It's just my nature.  To do that, I gather everything on my table where I won't put it aside. Like this old purse, dreary old khaki color, but with the amazing pockets handy for all items I like to carry, especially when I'm on the road with Jim and we are out for the day, hiking or wandering. My housemate can't understand my logic of forcing myself to complete a project by leaving the mess, paints, papers, etc. on the table. It works for me.  I finally completed the paint job, a cat on one side, some background brown.
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Sad and happy faces on the front pockets. And, I'm blaming this need to paint on my friend Pam Munn who got me painting again, and now I've got the itch.
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The end pockets are still pretty plain, but a painting is never finished. I can always go back and add some decorations when I have more time. Ah, me. To foil oneself into fun projects.
Now, hopefully, I can make progress on shopping for a comparable car to replace my electric.  The possibility of a "total" is hovering.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


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Yesterday, I crossed the river (without my camera,) and a woman plowed into me in a shopping center. Typically called a fender bender. The front passenger door could open but the back door, no. When I called the insurance, I told them, I have to have my little Prius back because I bought the first one in the state. Toyota shipped three to each dealership from Japan in 2000, and they gifted me and took my picture for the news. I love my little Prius, not only for its good mileage but because it fits in my small garage. The sticker on the back fender was proof of an electric, and used to allow me in the diamond lanes without the two-people-in-the-car requirement. Since, rescinded. Thankfully, it is fixable and neither of us were hurt.
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I normally let my chickens out about 6 a.m. or even a tad earlier. But, yesterday, I heard a commotion and the chickens had scattered to all parts of the yard. When I got outside, I had to chase a fox out of the yard. I scolded him, but a hungry fox is likely to return. Because these chickens were in a small yard, their wings are clipped and they don’t have much defense. Hopefully their wing feathers will quickly grow. They think I’m God. I only give them a treat at night, whatever greens, or compost stuff I have. Yet, the minute I let them out in the morning, they follow me like I’m the pied piper. I think it is interesting that I’ve had chickens at every house I’ve owned, from 1961, except this one. And, I’ve never had a coop. They can basically take care of themselves, but always before, I had a rooster.
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So, here I am, with the Taj Mahal chicken coop; it still needs paint and a few other modifications, like automatic water, and so on. These girls get all organic feed and let me tell you, these are the most expensive eggs I’ve ever eaten. And, that fox is NOT going to get them. I’m going to build a yard roost they can fly up to for protection. Hey, I’m having fun. My housemate loves watching them from the deck. They follow her around too and one of these days I’ll get a picture because it just tickles me to see them following her. I guess they have two Gods. Life is never dull.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


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Keeping up acreage has its disadvantages. I'm lucky a young friend of mine, Bob Urban, is a tree expert and he takes care of my trees. He came with his new best friend, Daisy. She enjoyed herding my chickens, but doesn't harm them. He has a coop full of his own.
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Mark Piehl, left, and my grandson, Stewart finished a new stretch of replacement fence. They worked 8 hours and did some heavy lifting, trenching around the new coop and wiring out a fox, just a few tasks I put them through, while I fetched tools and pointed to the next task. They kept me running. I couldn't wait until they left so I could sit in my chair and be old.
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Mason washed down the house, scrubbed the walls, face boards and gutters, then scraped loose paint off the deck and painted patches getting ready to repaint. The prep works is harder than the paint job itself.
I remember when I could work hard and fast. But, as poet Gregory Orr says, If we are not supposed to dance, why all the Music?  Those three busy days are behind me. Today, I'm going to dance....ah, no, I'm kidding myself. I have to do some shopping. Darn.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


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The first Friday of each month, the Business People/Community Club host a free concert in the park. A local caterer provides a meal to buy, or you can bring your own food and drink and just enjoy the burbling creek, a bit of sunshine, the company of your neighbors and friends and have a good time dancing or just listening to the music.  I love Murphys. Above is Glorious Gloria and Dennis Graves listening to someone who stopped by our table to visit.
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Jan brought a pesto cheese bread to snack on that was super delicious. She was about to take off her sweater and go swimming in the creek, I think.
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The kids love it at the creek and don't hesitate to jump in. How many towns have a creek flowing through the middle of it for all to enjoy?
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And Donna, with the cutest hat.
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The Reagans, I never see anymore except at events like this. It is my fault because I travel so much.
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I didn't dance this time, but, when I do get home, I'm soooo glad I live in Murphys.

Saturday, June 14, 2014


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The world is full of junk keepers, yours truly,-guilty! For weeks I've been hunting a storage container. To pay to store things, at least for any long term, is just not cost affective. Smarter to buy a container and store items until you decide what to do with them, right? Storage containers have become very popular and they can be pricey. I went back and forth with several outfits, one guy tried to sell me a container full of rust. An Oakland outfit had beautiful containers, well maintained, but by the time we added in a regular door, a window for some light, paint, vent etc. it became too expensive. During the sales speech he made it clear that if it is 100* outside, it will be 120* inside. Do I really want to fry anything worth storing? i realized, a shipping container is NOT the answer for me.

My neighbors have a marvelous building made of styrofoam.  This is the door to their wine cellar. Made of styrofoam blocks. You can see the door is about 12 inches thick.
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This is their garage. The same thick walls. The garage is under the house. Styrofoam? Holding up a house you might ask? Well, the blocks are hollow. They have re-enforcing rod in them. They are erected as a kit and go together like legos.  Then the four walls are poured full of concrete in one day. Six inches of concrete, six inches of styrofoam. Instant insulation. It maintains an even temperature summer and winter. One small portable electric heater, heats the entire house on extra chilly days.
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This is a doorway to the house. They mounted an air conditioning unit that they rarely use, because they didn't know how cool the house would stay. It is a true,  "green" house. The studs are steel.
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The indoor walls are made of foam panels that can be sheet rocked or paneled just like conventional walls.
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The outside can be wood or plastic, siding. This house has an off-center roof, to hold enough solar panels to power their original stick house and this new one. The house has a conventional wood truss roof, with shingles.  The kit for the house was $7200 seventeen years ago. The wood floor to mount it on, the roof, the concrete pour, electrical and plumbing, extra. Still, an economical way to build. This couple, he, a chef, her an airline agent, had no building experience. They put kit walls up themselves, in two days. A friend helped by making sure the metal rail that holds the steel studs, was perfectly straight.

Now I have to start all over again, to find a supplier for a cool green storage building. The downside is, I was hoping to have storage before my family reunion over July 4th weekend. Since I've  been on the road with Jim, my place gets pretty neglected. A lot of work ahead during this extended home-stay.

I love building. And I love learning something new. Now, I'm excited.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


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A master potter demonstrated his craft upon a no longer used ancient kick wheel while we listened to music from an ancient instrument.
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Even though we are in Cappadocia, the district is Antalya. A historic vessel, hollow in the middle, holds wine or water. They are icons of Turkish historical pottery and you find then everywhere for sale in Turkey.
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After our  concert, we have volunteer try her hand at the potting wheel.
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Joyce B. tried her hand at crafting a pot. She admitted using a potting wheel before. We like it hen people try their hand at crafts like potting.
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Pots here are all hand made and hand decorated.
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I found the designs more intricate than anything done in a United States pottery.
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For sure you won’t see turban wearing sultans on horseback with spears from a U.S. Pottery.

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Nor a plate with Whirling Dervishes. Another Turkish icon at the pottery.
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I wanted something with the beautiful Turkish tulips on it. This tile was over two-hundred dollars and I decided I’d better keep looking. It is only about nine inches high and seven inches wide.
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Everything in the shop was extraordinary.
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Once you ask for a price, they see you as a potential buyer and continually make you offers on things you see.
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I told the sales person I was only planning to photograph their beautiful wares and would tell other people how beautiful their work is.
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I continued to spot things with tulips.
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I liked other pieces as well.
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He asked me, if you could choose any piece in this room (a room with more economical pieces,) and price was no object, what would you choose? I chose the turbaned gentleman with a flute. He said, that is too big for you I have another, smaller with more detail. You have very good taste. That is made after a famous $1,500,000  painting in the National Gallery entitled “The Turtle Trainer.”  He gave me an affordable, but still high quote. So, he offered me a second plate, with tulips on it, both for that quoted price and I accepted. So, now I have to look up the Turtle Trainer and read about the painting. And, I’m already enjoying him hanging on my dining room wall along with a lovely saucer of tulips. DSC06708 (Copy)

It is our last day before flying from Cappadocia to Istanbul, to U.S. After a break for lunch, Usla has the bus drop us off near a field from which we hike to the village of Usichar. On the way, he sees a “momma” weeding grapes with her two children. He stops to talk and he picks vines new and green. He shows us that you can strip the peeling and eat the center stalk. The stalk is moist and tastes much like lemon-grass.
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We hike up-hill and stop at a cemetery before entering the village. Some of the graves are unmarked stones.  Because they are ancient, some BC, the wind and rain have eroded any inscriptions away. Contrasting is a part of the cemetery where recent deaths can be easily read. In highly populated areas, Moslems are now cremated and their ashes buried. But, in the countryside, people are buried the old way. The body is brought to the Mosque and faces East. The Imam chants and prays.  At the end of the prayer, he says: “How do you know this man?”  Answer: “He is a good man.”  (Or woman or child.) He repeats that question and receives the answer three times.  A second service is held at the graveyard, where the body is removed from the shroud and he is buried “soil to soil.”  Then the mourners wail and cry and cry and pray. The coffin is recycled for the next death.
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Surprisingly, small villages like Usichar have solar water heating on roof tops.
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The village has narrow streets with little souvenir shops and spots to eat or have tea. We strolled around a bit and then headed up hill, a steep climb, we were warned, on uneven surfaces, unstable rock and shale. I almost opted out but at the last minute followed everyone up the hill.
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Up, up and up we wound around the narrow streets.
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Near the top we meet a “momma”. Usla knows her.
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She chatters non-stop and hugs us and gives us air-kisses, both sides of face. We have a picture taken and she continues her chatter to any and everyone. A sweet  soul who cherishes all.
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From this vantage point, we can see the village below, its main street, the mosque, the houses and businesses, and the distance we walked.
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We finally reach the top and Usla decides we should head down the back way.  I took a panorama from the top.
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We start down.
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The path is narrow, very steep and slippery with loose rock.
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We see tufa formations 250 feet high on the steep hillside.
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A little ladder beckons Owen, but I make him stay on the path with the rest of us.
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Ancient graffiti.
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At one point on the path, two Moslem women with inappropriate shoes are having difficulty and in danger of falling. Our effervescent, ever helpful, Joyce, offers to help them and they glom onto her so tight, one on each side, she was unsure if her arm would ever regain feeling. They smiled and thanked her gratefully at the bottom of the hill for her help.
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We strolled through the town. Everybody wanted an ice cream and we got it from a magician. He would hand you the cone, and draw it back quickly and tap the ice cream across your nose or cheek. Then, he’d flip it and do other maneuvers to keep you laughing before finally relinquishing your treat. Owen got his ice cream and cone separately. We paid, and Owen reached in my hand and took two lira back to his tip jar. It was worth it.

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We had a final happy hour with Usla, paid our tips, ate our last dinner in the hotel and headed for bed.
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Three flights in the morning, one from Cappadocia to Istanbul, Istanbul to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to San Francisco, for us. Because of our snafu on the way out and because I couldn’t get our flight up on-line at the hotel, I worried we’d have the same problem returning. Usla stayed with us in the airport until 2:00 p.m. to catch our flight. He was a great guide who went beyond the call of duty, repeatedly. Very helpful and patient. We watched movies and Owen got some sleep on the way home. Turkey is a wonderful country to visit.  If you ever get the chance…go! Better yet, go with OAT.