December 21, 2013

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Having children discovering the magical myths of Christmas makes it special. These cards show the joy that children bring to the season.


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What I was most struck with as I rummaged through my card collection, is the absence of people of color. Jesus was a Jew in an Arabic nation. Probably brown-skinned. Yet he is always portrayed with white skin and blue eyes.

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The second thing that struck me is almost all cards depict snow. It is tough to find a Christmas card outdoor scene without snow.

And, this unusual 1945 card shows the other side of Christmas, those less fortunate, cold and forlorn during this munificent celebration.

Generous people, be reminded of your food bank donations, or service club jacket, blanket or toy collections. Most of us with computers have all we need. Did I read that seven homeless people died in San Francisco because of this cold snap?


December 19, 2013

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Things we can do without, for starters, is a broken septic system pipe at my rental. The pipe originally installed 35 years ago, was not the proper type of pipe or it most likely wouldn’t have leaked. The slope is narrow and difficult to work with heavy equipment. The shovel holds the back wheels off the ground so the bucket has balance on this upslope.

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What appeared to be a seven-foot area of pipe to remove turned out to be 60 feet of pipe instead, plus the loss of three trees.

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The guys take a break, my brother Clark’s father-in-law to be, left, my son Doug behind him and Clark. Without my family I wouldn’t be able to afford this rental. They give me the reduced “family price”.

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I spent most of the day in Angels Camp on errands. I’m still having neck pain and I have a therapeutic massage once a week. Each time I think is the last one.  Then to the eye doctor to pick up my glasses. I love his clever sign.

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To the jewelry store to have my rings cleaned. They sell ceramic fish for a charity and I always like to find a right facing fish. My friend Dave Wilson has a theory that all fish sculptures are done facing left.  He is almost correct. Right facing fish are rare.  It is silly, but I find it fun to give him a poke.

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I came home to a limping wild turkey next to my driveway. In fact the turkeys were feeding on the green vegetation at the leak. My renter noticed and contacted me or I wouldn’t have noticed it. I suspect this bird will be coyote or cougar lunch within a couple of days.

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I got home by 3:00 to meet my friend, Sharon. She brought a bottle of wine and told me she went to lunch with a friend and when they got out of the restaurant, her friend’s car was missing. They called the Sheriff and reported the brand new Jeep Cherokee, stolen. Later that evening, she let me know that Wendy’s husband came for the car, couldn’t find her, and drove the car home. We laughed, and the reason he did it was reasonable in the end, but it was not funny at the time. Today, the plumber comes to put a new valve in my gas heater.  Why does this stuff happen at Christmas time? Maybe we all get a little nuts around the holidays.




December 22, 2011

The older I get, the simpler my Christmas becomes. I feel closer to old friends as I write my cards.

As a family, we gave up giving each other gifts long ago, except for the children. As I age, I know that Christmas is a matter of the heart and we value the gift of time with each other over anything else. That includes the food,  an important part of our shared time together. Special dishes, lovingly and thoughtfully prepared.

Fond remembrance for Christmases past. The profound enjoyment of the music, the tinkling of bells. Teasing the kids, perpetuating the magic, and looking at Christmas through their eyes.

Appreciating the trappings of the season all around us, glowing lights, cheery voices, the smells of cedar and pine, the colors shining bright, secret smiles, hidden glances, the scurry and hurry and expectation of things to come.

And Peace. We don’t expect World Peace to happen as much as we may wish it. But, in our country or city neighborhoods,  where Christmas dwells, 80% or more  people take a day out of their work to celebrate Christmas, and there is a sense of peace. Little traffic on the road. The quiet of a neighborhood as everyone turns inward to reflect upon the  beauty, the warmth,  holiday hugs, the family together, the deeper meaning of Christmas Spirit. Love, Joy, Hope and at least, a day of peacefulness.





December 19, 2011

My neighbor, Jan,  is known for popping in for five minutes, always with some  ulterior m0tive.  She decided I was lacking “bling”. You can see the  bling on  my shoulder.

I had hired a homeless guy, looking for work,  to do some chores around the place. He told me he had worked as a roofer, had some carpentry skills, knew how to use a chain saw, etc.  I have a storage shed with warped doors and I asked him if he could fix them. He did and I gave him some paint to paint the shed. Unfortunately, he painted the doors shut. So, I asked my friends to help me get the doors open.    Jan is one of those people who likes to have  fun with anything she does, and she likes ceremonies. She grabbed a pot to beat on, and Karen, my housemate,  is half Cherokee and did a ceremonial dance.

While they did their work,  I used a hacksaw blade to cut through the thin coating between the two doors.

It wasn’t budging. My crowbar and nail puller both disappeared but I had a long,  strong mechanic’s screwdriver. It took some doing to pry the doors open without wrecking them.

That’s when we discovered he had nailed the doors shut. I guess he figured he wasn’t coming back anyway. Gotta take laughter where you find it.  And, what the hey, the guy needed the money.


October 31, 2011

I’d forgotten about Halloween until I saw the date on my computer. On our rural road, a trick-or-treater is a rarity. In 33 years, I’ve had six kids, three one year, and three another year, begging for treats. School parties are popular and safer anyway. But, those people living in a house-to-house neighborhood enjoy the fun. This weight guessing contest was set up at our local grocery store. I noticed yesterday it had been moved. I’ll have to go into town and see if I won the guess.

Happy Halloween to you and yours.  In its celebrated form in the USA, it has transformed to a  purely North American fun night without it’s original pagan dark side. My youngest daughter was an exchange student to France during her high school years and enjoyed teaching her French family how to carve a  jack-o-lantern.  With youngsters still at home, the carving, decorating, costuming and begging treats has become, for all of my grandkids, their second favorite holiday.

Yesterday, I spent time in the yard, enjoying the soon to be gone sunny days.

This fuji was past prime  by the time I got off the road. Some cling, looking soft and rotten.

This heritage  Northern Spy, is crisp and good. Keeping in tune with the autumn days, sunny and warm with cold nights.

Foraging in my neighbors garden, some fresh basil, tomatoes, one zucchini, and an eggplant. Enjoying what we can as long as it lasts.

I harvested my walnuts for the first time in seven years. A balance of nature took all the squirrels away. I expect red tail hawks got everyone. In the past, a woman asked me what was growing on my trees. She had never seen walnuts grow. They have a husk, which dries out and the nuts free fall to the ground.

Some primal feeling of comfort envelopes me when I harvest these portions of my own food.


July 6, 2011

Summertime and the livin’ is easy. Come Independence Day, we celebrate with a  family and friends reunion. Doug spends a couple days mowing and weed eating; raking the horseshoe pit, blowing up inner tubes and a multitude of other tasks to make ready.

Sister Karen set up his chair with a humorous note and identified garbage from recycling.

Preparation counts.

By 11:00 on Saturday, people began putting up their tents.

The adults enjoyed snacking…

while the kids jumped on the trampoline until they were temporarily exhausted and needed a rest.

Squirt guns were  popular items for keeping cool.

Sisters, Bev and Cathy.

By 2:00 everyone was ready for a cooling flume ride.

That is, everyone except our youngest, 4-year-old Abbie who fell asleep on Dad’s lap.

Doug challenged Anthony to swim to him in the swirling current.

The chicken and tri-tip are Doug’s strong forte.

The two best cooks. Norma brought her famous home-made Chili Verde with Peruvian yellow beans and rice.  (To die for.)

To by-pass mosquitoes, we hid inside and played Black Magic for a couple of hours.

The kids got to stay up really late and played on the trampoline with light sticks until everyone was ready to call it a night.  More tomorrow.

Attending the beautifully, refurbished Geary Street Theater in San Francisco was a treat for the senses. The profound Dickens Christmas Carol, with old, familiar and endearing messages of greed and poverty; redemption and joy, of which we never tire. And, the theater itself, (no pictures,) but I can attest to its gold burnished decor, comfortable seating and rich, traditional interior that makes going to a “play”, a grand experience. The huge cast performed on a stage with suggested scenery that still conveyed the setting even to our ten and eight year olds. They were spellbound, as I was.
My daughter, quite smartly read  Dickens story to Owen and Theo a couple of weeks before the event.

We had good Indonesian food at Boroduro. The boys favorite was chicken sate and the shrimp krupuk.

And, from our seven course lunch, Virginia and I favored the lumpia and the chicken soup. The soup was redolent of lemon grass, the sprouts were crunchy, boiled egg and greens added protein and flavor. Oops, can’t forget the black sticky rice and coconut milk desert. Such flavorful choices.

Then comes the other joy of a day trip to one of the world’s greatest cities, walkin’ and gawkin’.

Street scenes where you are likely to meet unlikely looking Santas at this time of year.

And, crowds of happy shoppers;

Or a piece of street sculpture just waiting for you to happen upon it, half hidden in a shop indent.

Decorations on the buildings that signal a festive time of year, no matter what your belief’s about Christmas are. A day isn’t enough and each time we visit we pledge to come more often.


November 1, 2010

Having young children can inspire a person to celebrate Halloween with great fanfare. Thus, my daughter carving the cannibal pumpkin—

—dressing up as a ghoulish, green witch, filling the cauldron with candy,  and in general, enjoying the fun as much as the kids. The whole courtyard was decked out with a graveyard scene complete with fogger and sound affects.

Even Mother-in-law, Olga, got into the spirit of things wearing a witch hat while preparing dinner for all of us. Who can resist the “witchy mother-in-law” cliche, except anyone would be delighted to have Olga as a mother-in-law.

The kids picked their costumes with extra care and examined and adored them for days before.

They practiced their super hero moves with flare.

Encouraging trick-or-treaters to come to YOUR house was fun. Trick-or-treating was gobs of fun.  But, the best part, the very best part, is counting your booty and hoarding it for the days to come.

Yum, Yum.

As adults we remembered the things we didn’t like in our sack. Anything good for you, like apples, walnuts and bananas. The worst was a penny. And a tooth brush from the dentist. Oh, no!
From the look of things, it was a very exciting Halloween. And for me, a new recipe, I’ll share tomorrow.


December 13, 2009

Jan Knudsen coined the word “Letterosis” to explain her fascination with natural or manmade forms that suggest letters. She photographs them and makes words out of the photos. Her letter signs appear in a number of galleries and in Piazza of Murphys. Piazza advertises its goods as Soaps to Sofas. Its a fun place and I particularly like the letters because I had one of my “accumulation attacks” way back in the eighties and gathered from magazines and posters interesting graphic letters. I glued them to flash cards and managed several alphabets, both upper and lower case. And I thought I was the only weird one out there.

Jan got into a competition to find letters in ordinary objects with her sister, and claims they realized it was a “sickness” they shared. Jan went on to create a business out of her obsession.
There is beauty in everything. Not a sickness, nor weird, really. The simple objected rendered as art.

If you type Letterosis into a search engine you’ll get three pages of Jan’s outreach into galleries, her appearances and workshops.
She hails from Groveland and is doing what she loves.
I particularly liked the flowers in hope and joy. So appropriate.


December 9, 2009

There was music on the streets during Murphys Open House.
Violinists at Lavenders.
Caroling with the Church Choir.

Two of the M’s, Michal and Madalaine visit Mr. & Mrs. Santa. The three M’s are actually 4 M’s.
Marilyn Pinnow opened the first Toy Store in Murphys. And, it is still going with a new owner. She is a talented writer and published a book about the Hippy 60’s. She and I and Maddie above.
A time to meet old friends in a crazy hats. Small towns vs. big towns? We have more fun!

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