Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Big Weekend: Amador Artists Open Studios Tour

This is the weekend of the Amador Artists Open Studios. Three of us from the Amador County Gourders will be in Amador City to demonstrate and sell our art work. This is a self guided tour of 13 studios in the county and will be represented by a lot of varied artists and amazing artwork. Should be lots of fun. I'll let you all know how it went on Sunday or Monday.
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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My friend Karen

My friend Karen will be surprised when she sees this old picture. It's one of my favorites of her because she has always loved our dogs and I think this is the only photo I have of her with any of them.

She is holding Oscar, our dachshund and talking to Brandy, our shepherd. Both of these dogs are gone now, but they always knew that they could get some extra holding and petting when Karen was around. All our dogs know that now too.

This seems like a very long time ago . We were still raising our kids and living "in the suburbs". Both of us were working and our husbands both worked for Pacific, Gas and Electric in Concord, Ca. That was how we met in about 1974 or 75. The four of us went to a retirement dinner together.
We always hit it off and so did our kids. We had dinners at each others houses and took road trips together.
Karen is a great southern cook. The prospector says that she makes the best fried chicken and milk gravy he's ever eaten. She introduced us to sweet tea and coconut cream pie. Whenever they came for dinner , she would bring a pie, sometimes two. Pecan was my favorite. We never went hungry.

Some of you that read this blog know Karen and her family and , to my amazement, practically all the new friends who read my blog and only know her from what I have written, have continuously expressed concern over her illness with good wishes and prayers. For this I will be forever greatful. So I thought that an update was in order.

She has had a very tough year. I think that , for such a little woman ( she's one of those "petite" gals ), she has a lot of strength. It's been one specialist after another for a very long time. I don't think that there is a test that she hasn't had.
Her blood is clumping and they have been giving her transfusions but her red blood count keeps dropping which indicates bleeding somewhere. She had more tests last week and was waiting for the results. This was the last email that I got from her on Tuesday.

" Just to let you know. the oncology doctor called me last evening about 6:30 to tell me that there was NO internal bleeding; that my liver disease has not progressed further, kidneys & all other organs look fine...., so praise the Lord for answered prayers. The problem is the Lymphoma, as they suspected all along...the lymph nodes are swollen in my lungs this time, which explains why I've been having so much trouble breathing.There are several of them swollen in both lungs. Dr M. has scheduled me for more Rituxan infusions which will be; one a week for 4 weeks & usually I feel great afterwards. I am waiting to hear from the infusion center to schedule them. Thank you all for you continued love, support & prayers, it means so very much to me. Much love, Karen"

I'm still here and the prayers are still coming, Karen. Even Mokie and Maggie are rooting for you.

I also want to thank my friend Jo, in Ohio. Her blog( Moodscapes at jonjdsbitsandpieces.blogspot.com ) is a safe haven. This woman is remarkable. She has "sent up prayers" for Karen, so many times I can't count them. She asks others to pray or send good thoughts to those in need and she just does this without question. I've told Karen about her. Jo has her own stories and her own pain but she always thinks about others first. Thank you , Jo. I may not know what you look like but I hope we meet someday. You have taught me a lot about care and compassion, and the power of prayer.
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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Learning to bargain

Saturday we drove up through another small foothill town. This is Fiddletown. We were going to a couple of farm sales and to get to one of them you have to go through this town. Recently I wrote about Volcano, the town that we used to live in, and I always thought that Volcano was "small". Well Fiddletown wins, hand down, in the "small" department.
I don't know it's history and I don't know why a town developed up here, but there are some very old, very historic buildings on Main St. Some of the buildings are homes that people are living in , but quite a few just seem to be left in arrested decay and some others are being restored by a preservation committee.
It's interesting that there are still towns like this. The pace is so slow and the people seem relaxed and friendly. It's a mixture of old hippy's, farmers, people who have lived here forever and newer people who are referred to as "wine people". They have moved up here to start vineyards and produce wine. Most live in the Shenandoah Valley, to the north. It has become the new Napa Valley. They are usually well educated and have a lot of money. They build large wineries and huge homes. Some are very protective of the area and want a say in keeping it the way it is ,but some tend to throw their weight and money around just because they can..., and are use to getting their way. The conflict between all these different people is fodder for the newspaper. There is always some "conflict" going on in the foothills over who thinks they have the "right" idea. I guess this has been going on for a long time. The farmers, miners, business people and the "big money" have a history of conflict up here. Now the Amerian Indians are a rightful factor in all of this too. There's never a dull moment.

We drove through Fiddletown and across a creek, drove about 4 or 5 miles and found the farm we were looking for. Wow! Shades of the 60's. This place was not your grandpa's farm. I thought I was having a flash-back, especially when this hippy type young thing came out and asked us if we were looking for the "sale". We said yes and she pointed to the big barn on the hill .( That's the first picture.)
There were goats, sheep, chickens and dogs everywhere...., and then we started seeing all these painted trailers all over the place. My God, it's a commune! , and me without my long tie-dyed skirt and sandals. Just our luck they will have a huge marijunna drug bust today( it happens all the time around here) and we'll be in the Sacramento newspapers. What will our children think?
But, seriously, look at these wild trailers! I'm like a little kid in hippy wonderland, only I'm old and I don't have flowers in my hair.
Well, the owner didn't either. She was divorcing her husband, who was living in the house with the "hippy type young thing" and she couldn't wait to get out of there. I asked if I could take some pictures and she said "Sure". Then she told us more than we ever wanted to know about her life and how she wanted to find a place where she could be a serious artist. Turns out that the almost "x" husband has a camp here for inter-city kids who get arrested for tagging fences, buildings and trains. They come up here and paint huge canvases, live with the animals and the elements for a week or two and attend workshops about self- asteem; showing each other the creativity of their art and earning time on their probation. Not a bad idea. I worked with kids like this and some of them were very talented. The woman said that she loved the idea of all this but she needed to be 'somewhere else' now, whatever that meant. We bought some "organic" vegetables, a box of foam paint brushes, some tie-on tags for my gourd sales, one of those ugly light bulbs that last longer and are better for the environment, and a beautiful pumpkin that is pale and bumpy and going on my porch for Fall. Everything cost us $5.00. I took some pictures and we left, waving goodby, saying "Thank you.", hoping the D.E.A. wouldn't arrive before we got down the dirt road to the hiway.

We made one more stop on our way back home. This was one of those "someone died" sales. The barn was old but the house, up on the hill, was new. It's always sad to see all the furniture, books and clutter of someone's life sitting outside, lined up, well used, tagged and waiting to begin a new life with someone else. As I walked through the tables, touching all the plates, serving dishes and old stainless ware, I thought how someone had a lifetime of using all of this and, now, it sits collecting dust. They choose this place and they lived their life here and now they're gone . These are all the things that probably meant a lot to them. It's like a memorial. I needed to choose carefully and have respect for the one who used these things before me. That was when I spotted the kitchen chair.
Shades of my childhood! It was dirty, splattered with paint, rusty......, and in almost perfect condition. The seat and back were not torn. The rubber steps looked new. Nothing was loose and the tag said $15.00. I was so in love that I sat down on it. It didn't even wobble. I waited for the Prospector to come over. He ask me if I was tired. I said "No, I just don't want anyone else to take this." He said "What?" I said "This folding step stool." He took a look and said "It looks like my grandma's. Well, be sure you ask for less."
Now, this is the part of yard sales that I don't like: Bargaining and Bartering. I usually just pay the price and leave with my "find". I knew that I'd pay at least $30 or $40 dollars for one in an antique store, maybe more, so I went up to the man who seemed to be in charge and said I was interested in the red kitchen chair. We walked back to the chair and I said, in a most professional manner, " Would you take $10.00 for it?" He hesitated. Then, (and you have to understand I'm a novice at this) I said, " I have a $10 and a $1 in my wallet. That's it. I'll give it all to you." and I smiled. He said, "Well, I've already got it marked pretty low. ( I KNEW THAT!) I didn't say anything, but I opened my wallet and took the $10 and the $1 out and said "I might have another dollar in change." He looked at the chair one more time and then said, " You don't need to give me all your change. It's yours." YES!...., I'm getting better at this.
So...., I got a vintage "filled with memories" kitchen chair in really good condition for $11.00. The Prospector was proud of me..., and I'm sure his grandma was too.
Last night I clean all the paint off with some vinegar, soap and warm water. Isn't it beautiful? Need to work on the rusty metal . If anyone has any ideas on that I'm listening. What a fun day we had.

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