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

Friday, November 9, 2012

The River

"The trees reflected in the river --
 They are unconscious
of a spiritual world so near to them. 
 So are we."
-  Nathaniel Hawthorne

 I love this river. This was our last stop on Saturday.. We walked down to the edge of the Mokelumne River before driving home.
I love this photo of my husband and our oldest son, enjoying the river and its beauty.
It was the end of a wonderful day...

 "and a river ran through it."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Gifts from Michigan

Yes, when you make a bet with someone and you think that you have the best baseball team there every was... Guess what? Someone is going to loose. Sometimes "Pride goeth before the... you know what I mean.
My friend, Dawn, who lives in Michigan made a bet with me. She just knew that her beloved Detroit TIGERS were going to win the World Series. She KNEW that they would be the World Champions.
I knew that the GIANTS were going to win. I knew that ROMO, POSEY, SANDOVAL and the WHOLE TEAM were going to make this happen.
Whoever lost the Series would send the winner a gift. We put a limit on the amount and did a email "handshake" on it.
Well... I don't want to cast aspersions on the defeated, rub an open wound... but,
So as life shows us, after this week of Presidential election and craziness, we sometimes have to swallow hard and move on.
A few days ago I received a box in the mail.
I received a box of HONEY.
Wonderful jars of honey from Washington State called Snoqualmie Valley Honey Cream. Dawn had written an email recently about this honey. She waxed poetic about the flavor, the consistency, and all the different flavors that the honey was made with. She also sent some honey straws in different flavors.
What a nice gift! I was impressed.
 She confessed that right after we made our bet, she bought the honey straws and smugly thought to herself, "Won't these make a perfect consolation prize to send Connie!"
Then she wrote, "I'm afraid that being such a smart-ass might have jinked the Tigers and contributed to their loss. I hate to shoulder that responsibility, but (hanging my head in shame) I'm afraid I must."
And then she added, "I officially hand over all bragging and neener-neener-neener rights to you... BUT, THERE IS ALWAYS NEXT YEAR." and signed it, "Love, from a die-hard Tigers fan, Dawn."

This morning I woke up to the weather that I have been waiting for.
Cold, windy, "Winnie the Pooh" weather. The kind of weather that brings tears to my eyes, puts shoes and socks on my feet... and a scarf around my neck. It's so beautiful out there that it's hard for me to sit here, in front of the computer, and write. I want to feel the cold wind on my face.
The Prospector took off to help a neighbor and I decided it was time to eat breakfast... in style... with some nectar of the gods.
I grabbed two eggs... the new hens are finally makin' eggs and they are beautiful.
"Fried em up in a pan"... well, actually I scrambled them with some bacon.
Toasted an English Muffin and then...
Reached for the lovely Puget Sound HONEY.
Let's see... Lime or Blackberry?
Blackberry seemed like a good, first choice... GO GIANTS!!

Oh the creamy goodness... the ease of use... the spreadability... GIANTS RULE!!
This is honey at its finest. GIANTS ARE THE BEST!!
This is, absolutely, a breakfast for the gods (and goddesses).

I do sympathize with your loss, TIGERS. You played well.  You did all the right things... kind of. But.. WE WON 
 I have the honey to prove it. It's not Michigan honey. It's from the WEST COAST.  
We are AWESOME GIANTS of the Pacific...Ha,ha,ha,ha, ha.... sorry. (I don't know where that came from.)
Thanks Dawn. When are you going to come back to California so we can root for the same team?

(Dawn was my friend in school when we were little girls, living in Pleasant Hill, CA. We lost each other for over forty years , but because of a friends blog post and a comment that my sister left on that post... Plus the fact that Dawn inquired about the names and a street in Gregory Gardens, we found each other again. Life is amazing. Wonderful things happen.)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Finding beauty in the foothills

Our oldest son arrived for the weekend a few hours after I returned from the Bay Area. I opted for a nap and a Papa Murphy's pizza that night instead of a big home cooked meal... a great choice for everyone.
On Saturday we decided to drive up country to find some FALL COLOR. Oh my, did we find the beauty of Fall. It was everywhere.
We drove up highway 88 to Red Corral and took the Red Corral Rd. south, over the Mokelumne River, to West Point. We stopped at the Tiger Creek White Water take-out. A "take out" is where you take out your raft, kayak or canoe after you have gone down river in it.
This stretch of the Mokelumne River is the North Fork in Amador/ Calaveras County. It is 3 miles long and has been determined by American Whitewater to be a class III-IV section.That means it is difficult. You had better know how to "white water" raft or kayak before attempting to navigate this section of the river. But here at the "take out" it is beautiful and deep. Someone has even carved stairs in the bedrock. I don't know who did this but it wasn't easy. I don't know how the environmentalist can complain about small dredging operations ( and I do mean small and recreational.) when they deface the gorgeous bedrock by gouging steps into it for better access getting out of the water... but what do I know.
This, to me, is environmental damage that is done for convenience.
But I guess it serves their purpose, so it becomes environmentally OK... but what do I know.

Look at this...

It's amazingly beautiful isn't it? It's like a painting.
A wonderful place to swim in summer... if you don't mind sharing the rocks with Rattlesnakes, who love to use these strongholds as refuge from the intense summer heat. Now the snakes have stairs to help them get down to the water.
We drove on to West Point, originally known as Indian Gulch. There was a camp established here by the scout Kit Carson. This is a very interesting little town... in the middle of nowhere.
Where a little old lady, pushing a wheel chair, has the right of way.
Where the old Main St is only a couple of blocks long and "the variety store" is in someone's house.
Where the general store is packed to the ceiling and has everything you could possibly need... if your "need" isn't too great.
We bought cold drinks.

And a bar where I'm sure that "everyone knows your name".
The population is about 670 folks spread out over many rural miles, but Census workers are warned to not enter some backwoods areas for fear of both "meth" lab and/or marijuana growing operations encroachments, so this number may not be accurate. It's very rural and has always had a reputation for individualism and  a "don't mess with us." attitude. Churches abound, so someone is trying to keep things under control.
I. personally, like the feel of the place. .. but I think you kind of have to earn your citizenship up there. It's a town of cautious friendliness.

We continued south to Rail Road Flat. This town does not have an designated downtown.  The town is registered as a California Historical Landmark.
This Landmark site says it all...
If I may reiterate, for those of you that don't have a big screen computer...
This historic mining town,with an elevations of 2,600 feet, was named after primitive mule-drawn ore cars used here. There was never actually a railroad here. The town was established in 1849. It was the site of an Indian council as well as the center of rich placer and quartz mining. Its largest producer was the Petticoat Mine. The Post Office was established in 1857, closed in 1858, and re-established in 1869.  The town's population was decimated in 1880 by Black Fever.
Across the street from the monument was a huge building.
No one was anywhere to be seen but there were a few honest to goodness BUFFALO out in the pasture behind the building.
Just enjoying the weather.
And munching the grass. There were no people around anywhere, so I'm guessing that the business of "trophy hunting" and Bison meat is out of business. Hope so. These Buffalo looked like some of our "Happy California Cows". They didn't even react when I whistled to get their attention. They just kept eatin' the grass.
They are awesome animals. Hard to believe there were huge herds of them roaming the plains of America once. You can read about them HERE. This is everything you every wanted to know about the American Bison.
We continued on, enjoying the beautiful countryside with all the fall color and sky so blue that you could feel the colors inside of you.
The road that we turned on, to head west, was called Jesus Maria and it was a very narrow road, with trees arcing over us as we drove. The sun was sparkling through the trees and casting shadows on everything. The trees hung over us and the road became smaller and smaller.
Eventually we reached an old mining town with the same name, Jesus Maria. Just a wide open area with a farm and an old barn.
Jesus Maria is an unincorporated area in Calaveras County. It lies at an elevation of 1043 feet
It use to be the center of a large placer mining section, named for a Mexican who raised vegetables and melons for the miners. It was settled in the early 1850s with a large population of Mexicans, French, Chileans, and Italians. Now it is only populated by a few families who live together and work for common goals, including a large community garden, basketball court, a jungle gym for children, and a windmill to pump water. Jesus Maria is registered as a California Historical Landmark.
It's a beautiful, open valley with lots of huge bedrock laced with gold bearing quartz. and a stream that looks like it runs all year long. The bedrock is amazing.
With lots of quarts running through it.
 I just can't get enough of this kind of rock.
 Where is my pick and my gold pan. Look at all those crevices.
This all use to be at the bottom of a river.
 I wanted to stop and dig in the creek across the road. 
The urge to stop, get out and dig was intense... to scrape in between those wonderful rocks ,were all the years of debris have accumulated. Gold fever... it's in my heart and soul. It's a driving force.. a ...
But, we didn't stop.

We drove on, until we saw Butte Mountain in the distance and finally knew where we were... sort of.

 We knew we were going in the right direction, but the road was getting smaller and we had never been over this road before. We laughed at the idea that the road might just end in the dirt somewhere and that we would have to go back the way we came. But it didn't.
We came to highway 26 and we knew that Mokelumne Hill was right down the road. 
We took a quick detour down through the town of Moke Hill to show our son, who hadn't been there before. Its charm, as always, is evident.
This is another historic site.
 Please read the history part of Wikipedia's info on this interesting town. It wasn't always a small town.

 I took this photo of a building in the downtown area of Moke Hill.
Then I noticed that the OPEN sign was made on a piece of screen with little Christmas lights and it was reflecting on the wall behind it up on the second story balcony. 
I wish I could have been a little higher so the reflection of the word "open " would have been complete. I think it's an interesting shot. Always look for shot within the shot. Find the most interesting part of a photo and don't be afraid to crop your photo to get that shot.
Oh look... I found the "open" word in another photo. I cropped it and well... what do you think?
Isn't this fun? Yea, well, we all have our obsessions. This photography stuff is mine.

 I'm still tired from the activities of last week, so I'm going to stop tonight. 
Don't forget to vote tomorrow. We can all look forward to not seeing all those political ads on TV anymore. That should be incentive enough.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Things that go bump in the night... are only children in disquise.

I arrived at my sister's, last Monday afternoon, and settled in.
My upstairs bedroom was charming, as usual, and all was well.
Tuesday we "shopped 'til we dropped" We had shoes to buy for an upcomming trip, that I will talk about in a separate post.
We spent a glorious morning in a shoe store called Designer Shoe Warehouse or DSW in Dublin. This is a shoe lover's paradise. It's almost overwhelming to the inexperienced shoe devotee. It's hard to stay focused when they have YOUR SIZE in so many different kinds of shoes and at REALLY GOOD PRICES.
We exercised some self control and bought shoes that will be good protection in 40 degree, rainy weather. (That's a hint about the trip.)
Wednesday was the BIG day... the reason for the journey to see my family. It was all about the Beans (my grandsons) and HALLOWEEN.
There was excitement in the air.
It was a couple of hours before dark and guess who hadn't decided what costume he wanted to wear? First he wanted to go "as himself". We talked about this... about how this was a night of transformation and creativity. He listened, but wasn't convinced that he wanted to go as anyone but himself.
 On Tuesday night I brought a wig and a mask with me to see if he could come up with something good. Some "props", as it were.
It didn't quite work. The wig and the mask were all too big... too much. Yikes!!
 Too "scary movie"... too " I can't see where I'm going."
Too sinister... for a seven year old.
He left for his bedroom and came back with more of a "pirate" look... or "goth...punk...hippy" combo. Not too bad!  It was better, but needed refining.
Then, as all creative little children usually do. He changed his mind, again and made a final choice. He got an old sheet from his mom. We cut some eye and arm holes in it and he was finally ready to met the street goblins as A GHOST.
I was so glad that he decided on something. It was all about being creative and he wanted to come up with the idea himself. He was very pleased with the old sheet ghost. It just goes to show you how important it is to let a child have some leeway and some (a few!) choices when it's not a critical, life or death, situation. The Bean was so proud of his creation. He felt like it was a night for he and his brother to make a statement about what they thought HALLOWEEN represents and being someone different. The Bean did.
 He will probably be protesting about some inequities of education some day. He and his brother are very determined little beans and, sometimes, they stand their ground like stubborn mules. That is a familiar behavior in this family... like some other little boys I knew... a long time ago.

 Latter, Dad and the boys hit the street. ready for action.
 Little Bean was a pirate for the evening and he was ready.
This was his own idea of a PIRATE... a creatively torn shirt and glow bracelets made into a buccaneer's warning system and holding his loot bucket with his Captain... hook. He even had an eye patch. It was a bright and wonderful costume. He glowed in the dark.

Darkness fell. The fog moved in and....
 My Daughter-in-law's fog making machine, on the porch, turned my old childhood home into another world... we almost disappeared from the street completely.
as our little goblins disappeared into the mist. Robbin and I finally got the fog machine under control and it was a great success.

The Pirate ship waited for their return and the world, for a few short hours, turned into a happy place of beautiful princesses, ghosts, goblins, strange beings of unknown origin... and neighbors that stopped to say hello and visited with Robbin and I. It was a night of enjoyment and fun.
I think that my Mother was there too... in spirit. She loved Halloween. She would have been so happy to see the house all decorated like this.
 Even the jack-o-lanterns looked pleased... in a spooky kind of way.
I took my place, on the porch and gave out candy...as I have done so many times before.

It was a wonderful evening.
 Help yourself to a piece of candy. 
Hope you all had a Happy Halloween.