Monday, December 5, 2016

WINTER'S CHILD-MOUNTAIN MELODY

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What a treat at Christmas time to enjoy Mountain Melody Women's Chorus  present traditional and contemporary songs for the holiday season.  I saw them Saturday evening in Murphys;  they sang in Valley Springs yesterday and will be at the Covenant Church in San Andreas Dec. 10th at 4 p.m. They will sing at the Vieuh Winery Dec. 11th, in Douglas Flat, at 2:30 p.m.  Above is the whole group under the direction of Julia Shelby.
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Stage lighting is not very friendly and I went back stage to say hello to Marta Johnson and Carol Mertens.
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I don't know everyone but you may recognize a friend. The group started in Mountain Ranch. Their husbands serve as MC's and they drive the van, so to speak. They are also accompanied by Marge Biagi-Castro on Piano and a very talented flutist whose name was not in the program.
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At intermission, feet up, the ladies enjoy a bit of chatter about their performance, and rest their voices.

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Getting  ready for the last half of the program involved some costuming for a special number.
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At showtime, she looked like this. I believe she is Jennifer Robinson.

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A second comedic number required a special costume, too. You can tell these women are having fun while they entertain us.
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One of the nice things Julia does is give various singers a chance to solo for brief out-takes.
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I should have asked everyone's name. Darn.
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To join the group, you must pass muster and Mary Howell (right) was publicly praised as their newest member who "survived" her first year. On stage she was presented with a bouquet of flowers.

The group accepts donations to cover the costs of travel, music royalties, and rehearsal space. What a treasure we have in the Motherlode.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

MURPHYS CHRISTMAS PARADE.

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

Sunday, November 27, 2016

DOWNSIZED THANKSGIVING.

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Instead of a full house at Thanksgiving, we managed a small gathering with seven people- our  hosts, Virginia and Cedric. Their son, Owen, is visiting Greece with his Grandma Olga, who speaks Greek and Russian. They canceled the Russian part of their trip due to the unrest in that country. I brought avocados and gumbo. Theo is the family expert on guacamole, so he immediately set to work.  I find it hard to believe that he got taller than me since the last time I saw him.
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Virginia put him to work, cutting the ends of the fresh green beans.
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Doug claims mashed potatoes and gravy is the best part of the feast. He brought two ten pound bags of potatoes and Cedric cheerfully peeled all twenty pounds of potatoes. The first batch is ready to cook.
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The second batch waits in a large kettle for space on the stove top. Doug also brought gobs of cookies-his specialty-and a to-die-for lasagna. I filled a container to bring some home and dang, it got left behind.
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Traditional turkey, smaller, and cooked split down the middle and flattened. A new method. The turkey cooks quicker and more evenly with breast not drying out by the time the legs are cooked. That also meant giving up the traditional stuffing. No one seemed to miss it.
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Cedric made gravy by roasting vegetables, onion, carrot, parsnips, mushrooms, and celery. The veggies were yummy and so was the gravy, mixed with the liquid from boiled giblets and de-glazed drippings from the turkey pan. I don’t think Cedric left the kitchen at all until it was time to eat.
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The guests were having a good time while all this work was going on. I taught Theo how to play cribbage and he beat me in a tight finish. Doug and I played Cribbage, cutthroat style.  There was a game of liars dice going around. My brother Norman watched and snacked.

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Jim was waiting for his turn, a challenge issued for a four-way game, Doug and Theo, he and I.  All too soon, it was time to skype Laurie, Ken and Mason.  Thanksgiving in their new house was downsized as well with just the three of them.  And Kristanne was alone in Las Vegas.  Her boys and their father are off to Idaho visiting their other grandmother. We could only hear her on the skype. We couldn’t get an image. But, everyone will be coming to Murphys for Christmas this year, just four short weeks away.
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Doug put together, “cranberry man”, which has become a tradition. He looks different every year. This is a tease because Cedric likes the old-fashioned jellied cranberry sauce over the home-made varieties most of us prefer.
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Meet cranberry man 2016 with a kiwi head.
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Doug traditionally carves the turkey, too.
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Jim took a family picture for us. We had corn bread, gumbo, persimmon, pear and pomegranate green salad, olive rolls, stir fry garlic green beans, baked sweet potatoes, home cured olives, olive tapanade and all the aforementioned delights. I’ve probably forgotten something, but I tasted everything.  For a downsized feast, it was awesome.
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Cedric made one pie. He always puts a decoration made with crust on his pies. This year, with the political situation, he made a scroll that represents the constitution with We The People engraved on the crust.
Virginia made her usual pear tart.  The dessert bar was overflowing with cookies, fudge brownies with plump fresh cranberries and candy.
Giving thanks for the good things of 2016, cherishing family and good health,  the predominant theme around the table. Life is good.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

MEXICAN TRADITION-DAY OF THE DEAD.

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The Day Of The Dead is on its fourth year as a celebration in Murphys. Here is a staged family out for a ride...
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I don't know quite how different it would be in Mexico, but this is America, so of course, the dog rides in the back with the kids.
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One of the vacation rentals puts on displays, and this year's theme was references to Frieda Kahlo. Beautifully done.
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Folklorico representing various states in Mexico with traditional dances and  costuming held in Murphys Park.
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Kids and adults dress up and paint their faces in sync with the celebration. This group was watching the dancers with rapt attention.
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Like a statue, this little girl didn't move once during the whole set of dancers.
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When this fellow came out with two, long blades, I knew we were in for something special.
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Flashing blades at considerable speed, over head and under and between his legs made for quite a show. But then, a repeat with a blindfold on had me gasping.
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No small feat. And with dire warnings from the MC, "don't try this at home."
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Folkorico music always very fast and invigorating, the costuming beautiful. Very enjoyable. Jim attended a Day of the Dead in Mexico and said the music was deafening.
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A tourist attraction, with staged displays made for a nice outing, but for some people, the celebration is very real, about the death of and remembrance of a loved one.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

MYSTERY FLOWERS AND HAPPY HALLOWEEN.

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It is a lazy, wet Saturday and I didn't open up my front drapes until about 9:30. There, on my door mat was a beautiful bouquet of flowers. The card said, Too The Best Mom, with a rather unintelligible message. But the address was to a house I haven't lived in for 18 years. I thought, who calls me Mom but doesn't know where I live? Hmmm!
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And, it is Halloween time and this bouquet is in a beautiful glass pumpkin. But, Halloween is a time for tricks and treats and maybe there is a bit of trickery going on here. I decide to call the company that delivered the flowers. She told me, "Our truck broke down on Pennsylvania Gulch Rd. in the middle of the road. A couple came walking by as the tow truck was hooking onto our truck and the driver, with bouquet in hand, asked the couple if they knew me?  No, they didn't but they walk by the Hanging Tree Rd. address and they offered to deliver the flowers for him. Hmmm!
I call the folks who live at the Hanging Tree Rd. address and they said no one had delivered flowers to them. Aha! The Plot thickens. The people who claimed they didn't know me obviously knew where I lived. I've called the neighbors and no one will own up to delivering me this beautiful Halloween Pumpkin filled with flowers. I'll eventually find out who sent them and I'll enjoy them in the meantime. But, since I love a good mystery, double thanks to whoever you are.
And, since I haven't blogged in quite some time, I will play catch up.  I had a surprise visit from my friend Maril:
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We like the Firewood Restaurant in Murphys. Maril loves their fish tacos.
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I'm a button collector, and Maril and I tooled around town and acted like tourists, which I love to do now and then. We came across this button festooned jacket collar, but I have too many clothes. I wouldn't buy it.  I might try decorating a similar jacket.
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Calaveras Community Television has purchased the property under the Paul Moeller Studio. (Paul is our founder and it was so named by the County to honor Paul.)  Pam Quyle and I walked the property and found the boundaries that encompass a gold mine.  We have a heritage tree above it also. Just look at those roots.
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It's kind of fun to have a goldmine on your property. But, this one panned out long ago and has no gold. We've arranged to have it "fenced" off with wrought iron stakes, (rebar) every four inches apart so no living creature can ever get caught in it. Yet, it allows water to flow through to the creek below.
And, CCTV will be changing hands with a group, under our name, who will have many hands to do fund-raising and support the studio. The only constant is change.
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I saw this kid, zooming through a clothing department and stopped to see what he was wearing?
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He calls them "Wheelies". It reminds me of that movie, Back To The Future, as in what will they think of next? Truth to tell, I love it. innovation, surprises, life is good! Happy Halloween.