Posts Tagged With: Christmas Spirit



Jim left my place on Monday. The weather here has been pretty cold for a weather wimp.

dsc08840-copyHe waved goodbye and struck out for southern climes.  He reached Palm Desert yesterday and they’ve had a cold spell with some gusty wind.  You just can’t predict the weather. I’m chuckling a bit at his expense.


Every year I head downtown Murphys for their open house held the first Friday in December.  This year I went early because the Mountain Melody was putting on a concert at 4:00. TILT. I had the wrong date, the Black Bart Players Theatre was locked with a sign: Concert 4:00 Saturday. I’ll be attending a memorial service and won’t make it. With time on my hands, I took some pictures. Somehow,  an outdoor decorated tree doesn’t look right during the daytime. Now, with a little snow… My mid-west roots are showing. I miss a white Christmas.


I poked around some of the stores, admiring the tree trimmings for sale. I used to make a point of buying one new ornament each year. I have over 2000 ornaments, so I’ve quit that. A ridiculous problem for rat packers. Guilty.


I ran into some friends, but did I take a picture of Lynette, Ginger and Roger, Suki, Eleanor, Richard or the Gilmores?  No, I was too busy yaking. But I did take a picture of this cute baby with her daddy bursting with pride. He was just glowing.


I thought I’d have dinner as the restaurants were opening up. They were overwhelmed with long lines or reservations to get anything to eat. Finally, it got dark enough for the Christmas Parade. But, the streets were mobbed, everything is surreal from the camera lens.


Everything goes by in a blur. But, I had to include this picture because my kids attended Bret Harte High. This pick-up load of football players was rocking the truck back and forth so forcefully with their weight, it tested the shocks on the truck. I had never seen anything like it. Such fun. Both my sons played football for Bret Harte.


The lighted floats and entries were really nice. Even with a clear shot through the crowd, by the time your flash can focus, you still get a blur.


The young kids were enjoying the parade and that is what parades are all about. Enjoyment, not photography. It was cold. I left early. And on the way to the parking lot I  got a decent shot of these draft horses.


And this parade entrant getting its fancy gear removed. Aha! Now I know how to photograph a parade. At the beginning, before they get moving. Or, at the end. I returned home and ate cookies and ice cream for dinner.

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I find it hard to fathom my depth of Christmas Spirit. There are times I groan at the first sight of a Christmas tree and wish it would come a bit later. This year is an abbreviated Christmas because my oldest daughter and family can’t join us because of her new job, and my youngest daughter and family are headed to Mexico for Christmas to visit her husband’s family.  But, I was delighted to see the first Christmas Tree on the back of this truck. I’m not anywhere near prepared. Maybe I’m anxious to have a dose of cheer in my life.

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Christmas Cheer arrived with Pam Munn, and old friend that once lived in nearby Mountain Ranch. Our husbands were in the Sheriff’s Department together. What I like about Pam is she embraces life fully. She sold her house after her husband died and wanders from adventure to adventure. Living on an Island, house sitting, enjoying birds, pursuing her painting, dating and enjoying new friends and old friends wherever she goes. She loves birds, as I do, and we talked about the whooping crane of my childhood, and her emotional witness to an eagle mourning its missing partner. It’s been about 15 years since I’ve seen Pam.  We solved the mysteries of friendship and remembrance over a three-hour lunch.

I’m at an age where I don’t shop for Christmas, my husband’s idea in the 80’s. We have everything we need and we can’t make anyone’s dreams come true with a $20, or $50, trinket. But, we can make dreams come true with a $20, or $50 donation to charity. Christmas shopping, once the kids outgrew toys, was  a chore for me anyway. In fact, I have a great story of my very last shopping Christmas. I didn’t know it was going to be my last shopping Christmas, but here goes.

It was Christmas eve and I still lacked two adult men’s gifts, hard to shop for, and I’m in Stockton at a Penny’s store, tired and wishing I was somewhere else. The lights, the music, all beautiful. The store packed. I’m standing in this humungous long line, when I hear two women behind me say: “Hey, let’s go up to fabrics, no one will be buying sewing stuff this late in the season. They whirled around and I followed, thinking what a good idea.

We get to fabrics which has been converted to a station for purchases from anywhere in the store and all three of us groaned.  The line was just as bad and now we had to start at the end. But, we laughed, and chatted a little. By the time we got close to the register, one of the women said, well, at least they have two workers, a clerk and a bagger at this station.  When it came my turn,  I commented aloud, well, at least this station has a bagger to help the line go faster and she looked at me and said, “Oh, I don’t work here, I just decided to help and I can’t seem to get away!”

I was stunned. So, I announced loudly to those in line behind me, and got everyone to give a hip-hip-hooray for the Christmas Elf. And we all went home with  smiles on our faces. It was an incident that changed my attitude and filled me with Christmas Spirit.

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At the doctor’s again yesterday, in one examination room, was a poster of a painting by Leonardo Da Vinci, that miracle inventor and artist. He rendered a death image with a cigarette hanging out of its mouth. I couldn’t help but think what an amazing man with such foresight to decide early in the game that cigarettes were a deadly habit. Shoot, and I thought that Native Americans brought the smoke habit to settlers and it spread from there.

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I stopped at the post office for stamps. (Still haven’t mailed a card.) Today, for sure. I stopped to look at the art work from the kids at Head Start. And, their public Christmas tree.

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I decorated my table with old Christmas cards two days ago, and covered them over with a plastic see-through cloth. Many people don’t send cards anymore and I’m glad I’ve kept a crop of them from the past to enjoy.

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It is a bit of inspiration to get at it. And I do enjoy sending cards because it keeps me in touch with people I rarely see. Put the carols on, warm a cuppa cider…hmmm. Smells like Christmas already.

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Some years, I’m imbued with Christmas Spirit. Other years I have to be dragged to the storage shed that holds the decorations. Why that is, I haven’t a clue. This year I got everything together early, humming and singing carols,  and enjoying the nostalgia of Christmases past. I invited the neighbors in for soup. Unfortunately, considerable wind damage up the hill prevented everyone from coming. The kiosk at Big Trees State Park was destroyed by a tree. Trees were blown onto several homes, others blocked driveways and the highway. Fires erupted and the winds fanned the flames. Power was out for 13 hours in some places and 26 hours in other places. Some still don’t have power. Yikes!

We sipped and nibbled. Karen, knowing I was tired of apples after my trees provided a bountiful harvest, brought me a gift.

The last apple on the tree. As you can see, it isn’t much bigger than a cashew nut.  It was a two-biter and I ate the darn thing while everyone laughed.

The Italian sausage soup was delicious and the decorations cheerful. Though missing several people, we enjoyed our time together.

I like to decorate several small trees that can be stored with their decorations intact. Our main tree is lit with candles on Christmas Eve.

The next day, with power restored,  I brought soup up to Quyles Kiln and we had lunch in the work room. Her showroom was dizzy with customers for about two hours before we got a chance to eat. While waiting, I crossed the driveway to Bryce Station Winery Tasting Room, and chatted with Pam’s sister Dolores, pouring their estate wines.

She, too, was busy, but had a small break.

I poked around the blacksmith shop and noticed two very young apprentices, a  girl and a boy.  Pam and Dolores’ father died several months ago and Eden, his first female blacksmith student, is now running the forge.

This is Eden with a young 12-year-old boy. Smithing is a fading craft, kept alive in little pockets like this one. It is basically a non-profit.

This couple told us stories of their exploits in Japan. They bought five Japanese sushi plates and a chopstick rest. Pam has that quality where her customers become instant friends.

Pam reminded me that I took video of her son’s first steps as a toddler. He is now 21 years old.  It is hard to believe we’ve been friends for so many years. While there, a guy from Copperopolis, Mark Viola, discovered the kiln and the printing presses that reside there. He was blown away that so much activity is close by and he had never seen it.  If you get a chance, Quyles Kilns  it is a great place to visit.


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