Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wild Fire in Auburn, California

Auburn Wildfire Tears Path Of Destruction

Dozens Of Homes Burn In Placer County

AUBURN, Calif. -- A fast-moving wildfire burned dozens of homes and scorched hundreds of acres Sunday afternoon in Placer County, prompting Gov. Arnold Schwarznegger to declare a state of emergency.

The fire started near Highway 49 and Rock Creek Road in North Auburn at about 2:20 p.m. It destroyed at least 60 structures, most of them homes in the North Park and South Park subdivisions, and burned about 275 acres.

Cal Fire said the blaze was about 50 percent contained by 8 p.m., with full containment expected Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Hubby's 88-year-old mother and his brother, Dan, lost their home Sunday, August 30, 2009, in this horrible fire. The fire moved so fast that they were given less than 5 minutes to evacuate. They lost absolutely everything, except the clothes they were wearing and her car. She did not even have time to gather her medications or any memories to take with her. It will be a little crazy around here for a while. I will try to check in again with a progress report soon.

TAKE THIS TUNE... Life is a Highway

Saturday morning, I got a little nudge from Jamie, who created Take This Tune... “You might enjoy doing this week's Take This Tune.” It is difficult for me to get back to the discipline of blogging with my mind still going in a thousand different directions. FYI, I truly enjoy the music of Rascal Flats and love the movie “CARS.”

Last summer I did drive cross-country and back for the sixth and seventh times in my life. I cannot begin to count the times I have flown from coast to coast. A friend in Massachusetts remarked one time that she always thought I had a wanderlust-type spirit. As I discussed in one of my posts (June 29, 2009), I have actually stepped foot (or car tires have touched ground) in 42 of our 50 states. I have actually lived in only five of them (California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Connecticut). Then there are all the places we have visited in our cruising life… the Bahamas, Antigua, Dominica, Barbados, St Thomas, St Kitts, St Maarten, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, and Columbia. I think that pretty much covers most of the ports. We may be adding more in the near future. I never in my life thought I would own a passport, say nothing of travel outside of the USA -- except for Canada.

However, this summer my highway travel has been a tad different. It involves travels of the mind… to discover more about who and why I am who I am.

The wordy 1940’s brochure and the not-so-wordy 1950’s brochure about the summer camp my dad attended (and my grandfather had a hand in running) is finished. I spent hours looking at the poorly scanned pages under a magnifying glass (program) so I could make sense of the words. Then I printed out the 50 pages, incorporated what I figured out to be the printed words, made double-sided copies and placed the pages into report covers. I made 6 copies of this. My aunt (dad’s sister) sent me a collection of thoughts she had written during the years – mostly about Camp Tosebo. I have put them into Word and added appropriate pictures (if I have them). That needs to be copied and put into the report cover. There will be chapters with pictures on Todd School, Camp Tosebo and my memories of life with Dad – all interspersed with pictures and emails received from the still-living relatives. When it’s done, I believe I will have written my first book. I would love this project to be done and sent out for Christmas. This may be an unrealistic deadline as I have much more soul-searching and writing to do. At least I will have most of it done – the easy stuff. The things already written that only need to be organized.

I have been knitting and crocheting several things for the grandkids. I finally found a pattern for an ear-flap hat that seem to be popular with the kids these days, which I can make with some ease. I have also been making jewelry for Christmas gifts. This is not real high class stuff, just things I think will be neat for early teen boys and my 9 year old granddaughter. Now, if I were really ambitious, I would work on fixing my camera so that I could take pictures of all this.** That means finding the instruction book and reading it. These craft sessions also provide me with “thought time.” Some of these thoughts actually find their way to the printed page.

Two weeks ago, I was handed a gift from a friend – she had no idea. It is a book that I read very quickly back in 2000… UP ISLAND by Anne Rivers Siddons. It is taking me back through the early emotions of my divorce that occurred circa 1981-82. The emotions lasted a much longer time. The healing of the main character takes place on Martha’s Vineyard. I actually visited that island for one long Columbus Day weekend. It was a wonderful weekend and the book is allowing me to relive some of that wonder. Of course back then I didn’t take many pictures. Darn! I need to fix that camera!** I am enjoying this highway also.

So many highways to travel, so little time… BIG sigh.

** OK… so here’s the scoop on the camera. There was no LCD display picture. I could see the picture after it was taken but not before. I now know what the DISP button means – push it once, no picture; push it again, viola! The picture returns. Do I feel a little dumb?? YES!!! Hubby is being very smart, “I won’t comment on it! Nope, not saying a thing.” I’ll post pictures tomorrow of some of my creations. For now, I am going to a corner and licking my wounds. I may even watch this video again.

Thanks for stopping by... have a great week.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Taking a Little Time Off

My creative energies are taking me in a different direction at the moment. There is such a long list of things I want to accomplish sooner rather than later.
  1. Spend less time in this computer chair. My friend "sciatica" is letting me know that I am here too much and for far too long at a time.
  2. Get things ready for a BIG garage sale -- motivating hubby is becoming more and more difficult.
  3. Start making the Christmas presents -- the ideas have been running around in my mind for a couple weeks now.
  4. Work on the family history which I started.
  5. With my son now working, I have more home responsibilites... one of them being cooking (which is NOT on my list of favorite things to do in the summer). Also, one of our cars died last week, so we are down to 1 vehicle now... I find myself playing chauffeur.

I will still visit you and read the goings-on. And I shall return.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

TAKE THIS TUNE... Sunday Morning Coming Down

This week, I didn't go to to music for my contribution. This week is about what Sunday morning was way back when...

Through my entire formative years I wished that I could have slept in on Sunday morning. This was especially true during my high school years. However, it was church and Sunday school just about every Sunday that I can remember from my childhood. It wasn’t all bad as the years rolled by… it was just Sunday.

When I was in the elementary school-age bracket, there was always a nice breakfast – bacon and eggs and sweet rolls. Then it was off to dress in our Sunday best, pile in the car and get to church. When we got home, the smell of a roast permeated the house. Mom had managed to get one prepared and into the oven while the rest of us fussed about our clothes. Dinner was served to the melodies of classical music coming from our new stereophonic record player in the living room.

In later years, this practice continued when we had weekend guest from Mom’s or Dad’s side of the family. Mom’s family lived in Schenectady, NY – about and hour’s drive to the west of us. Dad’s family lived near New Haven, CT – about 1 ½ hour’s drive to the south of our town.

BUT... on those weekends that there were no guests in residence, Dad would chose to stop at the local Friendly’s Ice Cream Shop for an after church luncheon treat. And back in the late 50’s and early 60’s this was the place to eat if you wanted a great burger and an awesome ice cream sundae. The store has since gone through many, many changes. It’s still a great place to eat, but has lost the intimacy of being a small, privately owned chain of restaurants.

Oh… here I go again… off on another tangent… I just never can tell where my thoughts will lead me… (big sigh)

The Friendly Ice Cream Shop (which was its name when I was a child so many years ago) was founded in 1935 in Springfield, Massachusetts by two young brothers… 18-year-old Curtis Blake and 20-year-old S. Prestley Blake. Their first shop only served double-dip cones for 5 cents. And, oh boy, did they make good ice cream. I guess they still do, but it’s not the same. In 1940, the Blake brothers opened a second Friendly Ice Cream store in West Springfield, MA and added hamburgers to the menu. Plain and simple… hamburgers and ice cream. And, oh, they were so good (according to my memory).

I was patriotically surprised to read that in 1943, Friendly Ice Cream closed its shops for the remainder of WW2.
By 1951, there were 10 locations throughout Western Massachusetts and Connecticut. And they started selling their ice cream in these restaurant/stores. Have I mentioned how good the ice cream was? Real ice cream with real high grade cream and chocolate or strawberries or black cherries or pecans or almonds or walnuts… well, you get the picture. In 1979, the Blake brothers retired and sold Friendly to the Hershey Food Corporation. At this point in the restaurants evolution, it became less the neighborhood Friendly Ice Cream Shop and more the restaurant chain Friendly Restaurant (if ya know what I mean) – a different quality food (not necessarily lower quality, just different). AND the menu was changed. Hershey took my absolutely favorite ice cream sundae off the menu – the Swiss Chocolate Almond Sundae. The menu became more complex. In 1988, Friendly became part of The Restaurant Company. In 1989 the apostrophe and "s" is added to Friendly, making the restaurant chain's name Friendly’s (prior to that it was simply known as Friendly Restaurant). Again more changes.

In 1997, it became a NASDAQ entity and in 1998 it began a franchise program. In 2000, Friendly’s arrived on the American Stock Exchange. In August 2007, Friendly's is bought for $337 million by private investment firm Sun Capital Partners. Changes… just too many changes. And, in my opinion, very overpriced. But the food -- and the ice cream -- is worth the price.

For today, I think it is too bad that the dream of those 2 young men turned out to be such a capitalistic venture. To some extent, they would probably disagree. Currently there are more than 500 Friendly’s restaurants in the chain which encompasses 16 states on the East Coast of the United States. In 12 states, you can buy Friendly’s ice cream in a grocery store.
It’s nice to have the Sunday memories of way back then. Sadly, my memories of today’s Sundays are not much different from the other days of the week.

Please visit more Take That Tune contributions here.
Thanks for stopping by... have a great week!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Proximidade Award

Thank you, Jamie who writes Duward Discussion . Thank you for including me in your circle of blogging friends and for encouraging me to write what is important to me.

Being a recipient of this award affirms that this blog invests and believes in the Proximity – nearness in space, time and relationships.

Since my blogsphere is somewhat limited, I dedicate this award to all those who stop by on occasion to read my thoughts, and to those who write blogs that visit on a regular basis. I appreciate that these bloggers are exceedingly charming, blogging friends who aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes or self-aggrandizement!

Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated.

My thanks to:
Jamie, my mentor
Linda, the Photographer
Sandee, the Humorist
Empress Bee, the Ultimate Cruiser
Tammy, the Queen-size Funny Bone
Mary the Teach
Shelly the Story Teller
Trish, the Crazy Working Mom
Mimi, the Queen of Memes

If you would like to pick up this award again, please do.
I so appreciate being able to see parts of the world through your blog.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The REALLY Annoying Thing ~ A Thursday Thought

Most of the time, I enjoy blogging. And I am trying to be very positive about this REALLY ANNOYING situation. It’s not EASY.

The name of “the annoying thing” is fengfk2008. It used to be “anonymous” but I eliminated that choice from my comment section.

I shall loosely refer to him/her/it as a commenter on this blog. Check out comment # 6 on the previous post (hurry because it is going to be deleted soon). My problem with this commenter is that his/her/its comments are posted in either Chinese or Japanese. I chose to NOT find out which. Sometimes there are words that magically appear in English. Off the top of my head, I remember chocolate and motel – and whatever that word is in the previous post’s comments. I really appreciate my native language -- ENGLISH. And it is really the only language in which I am fluent.

To fengfk2008: Don’t hide behind a language you know can’t be understood by the majority of people reading this blog. PLEASE BE CONSIDERATE… IF YOU CAN READ THIS, either leave your comments in English or STOP leaving comments.

Is this a blog spammer? And, if so, what do I do about it? I have attempted to thwart this commenter by having to approve the comments first before it posts. This delayed the comments and drew some negative reaction from the few regular readers I have. So I then deleted the ability for an anonymous commenter to post. Well fengfk2008 got around that also.

Can you understand my frustration… or am I just over-reacting? I’m ready to go back to monitoring my comments again… does anyone have any other suggestions?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Would you... Stop and Listen ?

To begin, I didn't stop and look up the validity of this story. I'm not sure that it's important to do. Just reading what was written made me stop and think... and probably change the way I look, listen and notice things around me.
The following is a true story. It was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and people's priorities. The questions raised: "In a common place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?"

Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007, a man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

After 3 minutes a middle-aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later: The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes: A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children – every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes: The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money, but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour: He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this… the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before this “experiment,” Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made.... How many other things are we missing?

Would you have stopped and listened and applauded? Since I can't be in a hurry to go any where, this would have been a delightful rest stop for me. There will always be another train, another doctor's appointment, time for another lunch or dinner. You might NEVER have this opportunity again.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

TAKE THAT TUNE.... it's a grand night...


I suffered as a child… I was traumatized. Because of my father’s VERY strict upbringing, as children, my sister and I didn’t have much of a social life, or any social adventures. We went to school; we had piano lessons. We were even allowed to be Girl Scouts. There was church school and church choir… all the activities that my parents considered wholesome to a goodly upbringing. I never tasted a REAL pizza until late into my teen years. And McDonalds?? Heaven forbid! But I could mow our lawn in the wink of an eye. (Remember I mentioned always thinking that my parents were of original Puritan stock?) But there was nothing of a butterflies-are-free social life. Even in high school, I wasn’t allowed to “socialize” with the Fonzie-esk “hoodlums,” as my dad called them. Nothing that could be noted as just plain old fun.

Living in a New England climate meant the summer was THE season to experience the adventures of outdoor life – and FUN. Independence Day meant there was a two-hour parade in downtown and then the Firemen’s Muster (competition among the fire departments – volunteer and paid – throughout the county) and the Gillette Carnival. The parade originally was to display the fire engines and muster teams for the competition. These were places to spend your carefully saved allowance in one fell swoop. And then a huge fireworks display at night. Nope I wasn’t permitted to partake in any of these activities as a child unless my parents took me to the parade in the morning. Admittedly, that was fun.

Then this story took a peculiar turn. As I searched the web for pictures of our illustrious Fourth of July Parade, I found a blog written by a man from Arizona who actually went to and took pictures of my hometown parade last month. In fact, he was originally from my neck of the woods. You can visit his story and pictures HERE. At one time was one of the premier Fourth of July Parades in the U.S. For several years, it was broadcast on PBS. It is now listed as the sixth largest in the country.

Now, back to my story, Pittsfield, Massachusetts also has a baseball park which in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s hosted minor league baseball farm teams from the Red Sox, Senators (now the Nationals), Rangers, Brewers, Cubs, Mets and Astros (and probably a couple that I can’t remember). Wahconah Park One thing Dad allowed me was a baseball game or three during the summer… in his company, of course. If I remember correctly, I saw Carlton Fisk start his baseball career in double-A ball at THAT park; and Mark Grace tooWahconah Park is a real one-of-a-kind place, and a throwback to another era. One of the last remaining wooden ballparks in the country, it's also one of only two in which the batter faces the setting sun in the early evening. Depending on your point of view, the ballpark is either a run-down relic ready for the wrecking ball or a charming, quirky slice of baseball history -- and I definitely subscribe to the latter interpretation. The main grandstand, complete with a full roof, really is constructed of wood. Plastic owls dangle from the rafters to thwart birds from nesting, and the "box" seats are simply folding chairs in the first few rows. With its ancient facilities and its setting in a mostly residential neighborhood, seeing a game here is a wonderful trip back in baseball history.

OK… I have gotten side-tracked a few times trying to get this written. We have gone from my not having a fantastically social childhood to the ballpark in summer.

Well, one summer the gal who baby sat for my sister and me when my parents, on a very few occasions, went out for the night was given one of the leads (Ado Annie) in the musical “Oklahoma!” This musical would be performed at the infamous baseball park. And guess what?? Dad said that Mom and I could go. It was a mosquito infested bleacher seat (the stage was in the home plate area) and they actually were able to have real animals in the cast. This production instilled in me a love of the musical theater. Alas, I never did land a part in a musical production myself, but in high school I did get a solo at our Christmas Concert. However, I certainly was the lil' devil in my parents' lives...