Posts Tagged With: good deeds


dsc08584-copyMy friend? No, a friend to everybody, Carol Flemming, held a bash at her house for her 75th birthday party. “My kids insisted on this party,” she told me. I totally understand that. The “kids” think you are on your last legs and counting when you reach 75.

dsc08596-copyI met Carol when I wrote features for the Calaveras Enterprise. It was 1982 and I featured her costume business, a unique and wonderfully creative business that is still going. Marti Oaks, right, with her son, worked for Carol and at one time lived in my Murphys house.

dsc08604-copyPat Patterson, right, also worked costume design. It was fun catching up with old friends.

dsc08629-copyI also got to meet Carol’s daughter, Liz, whom I’d never met before, along with her daughter, whose name I didn’t get.

dsc08599-copyCarol’s son Beau barbecued chicken and tri-tip. He, like his mom is a good cook. I’d met him when Carol had a restaurant in Arnold, the Froggy Diner. There is always cooking or a side business in Carol’s life.dsc08583-copyThere were her friends and neighbors of all ages. Names seem to float out of my brain. This woman, like me, is finding acreage hard to keep up and looking to downsize. I hear that more and more from people I know.

dsc08595-copyDale said she didn’t take good pictures, but I do. I thought her laugh made her beautiful. It turned out, she knows my brother Clark.

dsc08594-copyI finally got this little girl to smile for my picture. But she kept a protective closeness to her parents.

dsc08592-copyMy brother Clark was once a neighbor of Carol’s in Burson. This man remembered he and Clark fixing a bridge that went out, before CalTrans was even called.

dsc08606-copyThis woman too, talked to me at length of all the favors that Clark does for the neighbors. He helped with projects after her husband died, making her ever grateful.

dsc08614-copyThis couple also know Clark and talked about him and the neighborhood, and things they’ve done together.

dsc08609-copyAnother daughter, Mona and another grand daughter, I’d never met.

dsc08620-copyAnd, Carol’s daughter China Rose with her two girls. She also has two sons. I hadn’t seen China in over 17 years.

dsc08621-copyThe baby was determined to sleep, but China wanted her to stay awake for the long ride back to Santa Cruz. I remember those days.

dsc08615-copyCarol joined the kids in the pool for a cooling dunk. I love it when you get to enjoy your own party.

dsc08613-copyThis smart woman is a former daughter-in-law-still friends of the family. She gave me good advice about AirBnB…ideas have been floating through my brain all day.

dsc08602-copyThe woman in red, Cindy, I think, is an artist. I always complain I never have time to paint or create.  Her very good advice, “Make it your priority, first thing in the morning. Everything else can wait.”

dsc08612-copyA birthday surprise for Carol, her brother Willie flew in from Hawaii.

dsc08626-copyI tried to get a picture of everyone. And, I missed Phil, her husband, who was busy, busy, busy, tending the bar and keeping people happy. There is a pattern, here.

dsc08593-copyKids, babies, teens, middle agers, old folks…

You know what was different about this party?  I saw no one with their head down, texting and playing with their phone or messages or…whatever they do. That, my friends, is what was special about this birthday party. A rarity. And great fun.

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We visited the Yonghe Gong Tibetan Temple in Beijing, the only Tibetan Temple not destroyed by the Red Guard during the 1960’s cultural revolution.  It houses a very famous statue of Buddha made from a single, gigantic sandalwood tree and is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. (My camera couldn’t get this picture. I got it on-line from  What I did get is the many worshipers around the temple grounds who do not mind if you take their pictures during what is a rather personal,  private event. And, the beauty of the temple itself.

Like most Chinese heritage sites, there are multiple buildings and plazas. The complex is huge and mobbed. Ten percent of Chinese identify as Buddhist, but many more really are. The tradition is deeply rooted and the Chinese people want to do good deeds and enjoy a better life in the hereafter. They feared retribution during the Cultural Revolution and have only recently returned to their temples.

A detail of the roof of the main building.

The worshipers mob fire pots to light their incense bouquets, some quite large.

They touch their forehead, mouth and then bow.

During the ritual, they recite the mantra:  Mind, Word, Deeds.   The street on both sides was filled with incense stands, and we wondered about them.

Then we saw the huge bouquets of incense they burn.

A pot for dousing the flames is ignored and used for offerings instead. They allow the incense to burn down to the nub.

There are many stations like this one where people contemplate their lives and pray to be better citizens and to ask for wellness and hope.

Some worshipers pass through the building behind them that houses multiple Buddha’s, some black, some gold. From Buddha’s position, just a small change in an arm or leg, comes different meanings. Some are painted black, others are bronze. Tibetan Buddha’s all face north.

This man is thankful for his son, in a one child family. He comes to thank Buddha for answering his prayers for a son.

This device is something like a prayer wheel.  It has an inscription on it and people  touch it quite reverently.

In one open building sat this huge tortoise-like creature.

Its mouth was filled with offerings for the monks, and maintenance of the buildings.

The monks don’t mingle much with the people. They are somewhat reclusive. This one wears a tan robe.

Another wore a saffron robe.  The color of the robe dictates different functions.

And, you are never far from the protective spirit of the lions.

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