Author Archives: 2gadabout

About 2gadabout

In past lives I've flown airplanes, was a competition skin diver, enjoyed basketball, hockey and golf. I wrote features for a newspaper, a novel, and once owned a small grocery store. But the best thing I ever did was marry and raise kids. I'm a widow now and entering a new phase of life. Ramblin' about the country with JimJ in his RV and writing and photographing everything and anything that catches my eye. The golden years are here and I'm having fun.

FROG JUMP FAIR AND GRASS POWER.

The County Fair is symbolic as a place to have fun. My youngest daughter had a horse, a couple of hogs, and multiple dairy goats at this fair. She worked the fair in high school cleaning horribly gross restrooms for FFA and decided she’d never come back after graduating high school.

But she did. Her two boys loved the unique experience of jumping a frog. The frog is placed on the lily pad. You can slap your hands, scratch the mat behind it or holler at it but you can’t touch it.

The monitors measure the distance of the three jumps and a collector (probably a kid from FFA) gathers up the frog and sends it back to the frog hotel. Ahhh! So it goes, for 4 days until the finals on Sunday. A $1,000 prize is offered for the longest jump.

I went with a friend who has bad asthma and can’t walk very much in the spring. We stayed atop the hillside and sat on the grass and listened to music and peeked into the buildings that had booths for aroma therapy, jewelry made from bullets, leather shoes and buckles.  We didn’t see anything we couldn’t live without.

My goal was to find some purple earrings and eat junk food. The garlic fries with Parmesan cheese and parsley were excellent. I tasted Karen’s and  ate a huge polish sausage with lots of onions and bell pepper, mustard and ketchup. Yum!

The carnival looked like fun, but you have to walk back up that hill and it wouldn’t due for Karen. The hay filled barns and rodeo dust were off-limits, too.  I didn’t mind. There will be another fair next year. I was glad to get away and spend the day in the sunshine and wear my trashy biker clothes and earrings. I looked for a one-day-only tattoo and couldn’t find where I hid them. And, I actually didn’t have any leathers, but I pretended.  I didn’t find any purple earrings to buy. I’ve got my eye on a funnel cake for next year. It takes two to eat one, but we watched a young girl polish one off. (Shouda took a pic.)

I came home to “grass power.”  These beautiful grasses are California native bunch grasses. They don’t need water summer or winter, but this winter they got plenty of water and showed how powerful they can be.

You can barely see my chicken coop. They have overpowered my yard and have managed to spread everywhere on my three acres. I absolutely love them. I bought 5 different bunch grasses for their special attributes but only two actually liked my property. Normally, I wait until they dry and go to seed, then have them mowed or use the weed eater. But not this year.


My lower gate is blocked and I can’t open but about 8 inches,  just to squeeze through. This is a driveway. So, today, the mulching machine is coming to chew them up. Even when they are young plants, the roots are so strong you can’t pull them up. And that is what I wanted. I’m Certified Wildlife Habitat and I don’t ever spray or poison things. And when I walk my property, I feel the loamy, soft, rich soil. I walk through a wonderland of lady bugs and ear wigs and other beneficial insects.  I have bees buzzing about, huge lizards, a couple of toads and birds nesting. All is good and healthy and it makes me feel wonderful to have saved a patch of native grasses that once kept California a green state. The native grasses were long ago overcome by Spanish grasses that migrated with cattle coming from Mexico.  A few patches were rescued from cemeteries and other hilly areas where cattle didn’t graze.

The grasses have strong roots; they hold the soil; they are fire resistant. They make good forage for grass-eating animals. What’s not to like?

The mulcher will do in two days what would take me a month with a machete to do. The birds and the bees and the bats are making babies and feel welcome and safe here. I love it.

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NEW BOYFRIEND

It is no secret that Jim and I had a wonderful nearly 8 years of travel together. We have shared memories that I will always treasure. And though we’ve gone our separate ways, we remain good friends. He stops at my place on his way north in the summer and on his way south for winter weather. Typical full-timer. I usually get a picture of him in the motor home driving away. I decided I wanted a picture of him with his new haircut and new bod-he has lost 40 pounds, probably  more by now.

Lifestyles change and on my trip to Oregon, I picked up a new boyfriend and here is his picture:

He is handsomer than Jim. He has a lisp. His name is Humphrey. He doesn’t talk much, you have to turn on the television to hear him. He is very low maintenance. But hey, I thought it was a fun Idea to have a Humphrey Bogart to say hello to everyday.

A friend sent me an email with Boyfriend 101. I couldn’t find it this morning to add to the laughs, so this is a short hello-good-bye, because I’m feeling silly.

 

Ciao

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MISTY MORNINGS AND A MUSTANG.

A wild mustang occupies the other side of the fence from my front yard in Oregon, where my son built me a house.

I was lucky to find Susan Scott to work with me, painting and cleaning out my storage building. She also hand-picked designated  weeds for me, since I don’t spray anything poisonous on my property. She was helping me get a picture of this wild horse, who won’t hold still for a picture.

She dropped the carrot, but I caught the tattoo on the horse’s neck from the BLM round-up and sale. She is temporarily pastured here to munch down the weeds and she is doing a good job. Why I didn’t take time to shoot the work we did? My brain doesn’t always function on all four cylinders.

Saturday morning turned out to be cool and I started for home late, after 8 a.m. and dawdled, enjoying the beautiful mists that drape the mountain sides surrounding Evans Valley.

My neighbors get mists like these since they live on the river side of the road.

Beauty that burns off within a couple of hours.

About the time I snapped this photo, the weather report warned of snow over the pass and I had to quit dawdling and press the metal.

Then I had to stop again for this photo. I’ve never seen Mt. Shasta surrounded by a ring of clouds.

Glimpses of Shasta poke through periodically as you drive. The best view is from Weed Airport, on the opposite side of the freeway.

The mist lifted as I got within range. Even from the wrong side of the freeway, with the light shining on my camera’s viewing screen, I took the picture out the window-blind. She is a stunning piece of nature and I have better pictures of her than this. I have to return in a couple, maybe three weeks, to finish the storage building. I need the sheet rock taped and textured and painted before the electric fixtures are installed. I finished the inside because it was so hot in the afternoons and freezing in the mornings. It stored things, but no one could work inside of it. When finished, my building will have a place to rinse brushes and plug-in and use power tools.

The Evans Valley is turning into a very popular place for permanent residences and I keep meeting new neighbors every trip I take. Like Susan.  I also brought home with me a new boyfriend. More, tomorrow.

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GETTING A GRIP ON THE WEATHER.

In April, we had two mega storms. There is a joke going around the neighborhood. “What’s the weather report today? Answer: Partly cloudy and 50 degrees, but call back in ten minutes and it will be different.”  Yeah!

This hailstorm came on so strong and so fast and unexpected it was like an attack. Moth ball sized hailstones sounded like explosions on the roof and deck.

You can see them bouncing in the air. They bounced up onto the bench. From eight feet under a covered part of the deck, they hit my screen door. The roadway a fairy tale, pure white in less than 10 minutes.

The aftermath, a blanket of green leaves pounded off the trees.

My front sidewalk, even with  the partial shelter of the house, covered. My driveway and the street the same.

When it dried out enough, I swept just in front of my doorway and to the steps. I couldn’t believe the pile of leaves I had to compost. The previous week, we had a torrential downpour of rain that lasted two days and half of another.

Now I’m dealing with oversized grass. I’ve plowed through it to get to my empty chicken coop. I hoped to find the hose buried in the grass so I can put water out for the wild birds. Their receptacles are empty.

I had to stomp a new path to the coop.

Several grass plants are taller than me and my fence. I’ve lived here for 38 years and I’ve never seen anything like it. The high country has seen 91 inches of rain this year,  a new record. And there are people who don’t believe the climate is changing from the misadventure of humans and our polluting devices? We all have to adjust. It is folly to ignore it.

We can all do our little part by supporting harmless power initiatives and reducing our own use of carbon fuels whenever possible. It takes global action, all world populations to cooperate to blunt this robbery of the norm.

More on that subject later. I’ve gotta go pull some giant weeds.

 

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INDIA-A LAST LOOK

Looking back at my travels, I’ve done close to 3,000 blogs and this effort was disjointed and irregular. I’ve missed events, lost or misplaced pictures  and today I’m laughing about it. I thought I’d blog pictures that I didn’t fit into any narrative, like the Bengal tigers, snatched from the film we saw. Aren’t they magnificent animals?

 

We learned a lot about the Hindu Gods. The great Mahatma Gandhi was  much admired,  But I never mentioned his seven dangers to Human Virtue:

Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience;  Knowledge without character; Business without ethics, Science without humanity; Religion without sacrifice and Politics without principle.

They resonate with me.

We learned a lot about weddings;  the groom rides a white horse, an elephant or a black horse. What about people who don’t have a horse? This groom can afford to hire a horse and carriage and decorate it. But, I never found out how even poorer people get married?  Maybe next time.

And wouldn’t you just once like to ride free and unfettered on top of a car or truck? As a farm girl growing up, I had that experience. And many times rode in the back of a pick-up. In California even your dog can’t ride untied in the back of a pick-up.

OAT is such a great company to travel with because of the great off-itinerary items included in the experience.  Though my cricket  lesson was canceled, one of the employees posed with his cricket racket for me. A cricket serve and return is like a baseball pitch. You can’t see it unless it is coming at you at 112 miles per hour. I missed the lesson, but enjoyed the match.

And I have to wonder, will I ever enter a bus with a crowd of people waiting to get on, and look for a vendor holding belly dancing beads or some other fascinating item you can buy nowhere else?

I’m an art nut and an artist. I took pictures of art everywhere.

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Art isn’t only about paintings, prints, sculpture and fabric wall hangings. What about this doorway in the Palace Hotel?

And this carved door into Agra Marble Company.

Bronze carvings on the hip of a hippo at Chandela.

And a foot rest on the end of our bed at our last hotel. Some flights were early. Others were late in the night.  We got to enjoy a professional sari fitting. A yoga class designed to remove tensions and let go of all cares. I marked down every posture he taught us.  I learned to breathe out loud. Ahmmm. Ooohhh. Mmmmm.

The gift shop had an interesting assortment of things.

These shoes have tread miles of India. A country I’d recommend for its wonderful traditions; its diverse and colorful  people. People here are warm and giving; they speak 607,000 languages. It is hard for me to imagine. My nearby town of Stockton has 22 ethnicities, which means great food.

At the airport in Dehli I saw something I’d never seen before. A smoking lounge. Paid for by Camel cigarettes my guess.

Even a decorated camel is art.  Those of you who know me, know I have to get my art “fix”. And, I did.

Alaviha. I’ll let you guess which of the thousands of languages it is. It means, goodbye.

 

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DHARMARAJIKA STUPA, VARANASI SUNSET

Long lines awaited our little group of 16 as we came to see a Buddhist ruin.

The Dharmarajika Stupa dominates the scene. Stupas were built to hold relics of Lord Buddha.

 

Inside the stupa, a green marble casket was found. Inside of it was a stone box. No one knows what the box held, but it is now in a Calcutta Museum. The casket was thrown in the River Ganges.

 

Layers of brick were laid over the old brick to enlarge the stupa. A set of stairs was built from four directions, meeting at the top so the guardians could climb up and enter the stupa.  The stair structure was torn down by order of King Banaras in 1794 A.D. to use as building materials.

 

In time, the same fate applied to the rest of the buildings on the site.

Today, a wide path around the stupa is used by the faithful to walk around clockwise, then counterclockwise. They still place flowers near or on the stupa. Signs encourage them not to place flowers, but they persist. Hugo and Kris made friends with a charming little boy on their walk around the stupa.

 

Archeologists dug up the ruins and discovered beautiful carvings on the faces of some of the brick work.

Buddha is carved in the circle on the right.

These little beauties survived in decent shape for over 2,000 years. Pretty amazing.

Before visiting the Stupa, we spent two  hours at Museum Sarnath where artifacts from the stupa site are housed, along with a photo section showing some of archeology  work and a history of Buddha. The beautiful and very special Buddha housed here has disappeared from my photo album. Due to human error. Human, that’s me, I’m sad to say. Who can understand electronics? That’s my excuse.

We packed into electric rickshaws and headed for the River Ganges to watch the ceremony at sunset. As you can see the streets are crowded.

The rickshaws are also limited in how close they can get to the river. Our guide, takes us through a short cut, that I mistakenly blogged as happening on yesterday’s trip to the river.

The short cut was a crush. You could hardly take a picture for being jostled.

Street cooks were making dinner.

A be sure to miss event for such as we.

We again load into boats. This beautiful tourist boat sits high above the water, but it was not for us.

As the sun went down, we could see the fires on shore. I couldn’t see my camera settings well enough to set it for flash. Flash can only reach about 20 feet or less, but it would have helped.

Our guide explains  the candles tradition. You send them off with a prayer for yourself, or a loved one who has died.

We silently make our prayer.

Then set them afloat in the sacred water.

A beautiful view from our boat.

As we get closer to shore, we can see the priests and people celebrating in what is their special ritual.

As we climb the stairs on our way out, we find other tourists like us taking pictures of the crowd. The priests, with the help of their apprentices, offer prayers, light the candles with flowers then ring great bells. Someone from our group once commented, “…its their religion, kind of a shame that this has become a tourist attraction.”

But, as Ranvir told us, this goes on every day, every night. 365 days a year. It is a never-ending ritual, celebrating dying. With the hope to be reincarnated on a higher plain, a new life.

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