Saturday, July 17, 2021

Another summer in the California Foothills


    I have ignored my blog since the holiday letter back in December.  The last couple weeks I have been organizing and purging photos.  Seeing them motivated me to do an update. Again, like last summer, I am not working. I decided instead of a paid, 40-hour job, I would look for a volunteer, interpretive\naturalist spot.  In the spring agencies were still hesitant to say if visitor centers would be open and if walking tours etc. would be happening.  So while I was starting to look, I had not applied anywhere.  Then, as RVers like to say, "the jello melted."   Plans changed when I discovered I had a growth in one of my kidneys.  With surgery in June and a month of recuperation and getting the motorhome ready to travel, it made more sense to stay put. I am surviving an especially hot summer on my lot in Coarsegold.  I've learned lots of techniques to keep it cooler inside with tiny portable AC to assist the main AC, with fans, and methods to help my refrigerator keep up.   The good news is that the growth was removed without undue trauma to the kidney; this kind of malignancy is taken care of by removal.  No treatment, just some cat scans in the future.  

     Since I am on the tough news, I'll finish before moving to the positives. My sister, Eileen, died in June.  She had had several bouts of cancer and this final one reached her brain.   Those who know me well know that we had a difficult relationship, especially in adulthood.   Still, she was my sister.  We had a shared history and as I concentrate on the childhood years I remember the good times.  She had a great sense of humor.  Although she never did well in school and had serious dyslexia, she was exceptionally bright and not much got past her. She was the most limber person I have ever known and could bend her body into positions most of don't think of as possible.  She had a voice that carried and neighborhood mothers would use her to call their kids down from our summer cardboard sliding and rope swinging on the hills surrounding our neighborhood.    Her first word was "Betty" which delighted my 8 year- old-self.  Later, when she began stringing words together she referred to me as "my Betty."

    A friend here and I have been asked to do some articles for magazines highlighting our park.  We have done better on the exploring than finishing anything, but that too will come.  I have plenty of photos and will share some of them here.  I still have fun with the wildlife and am making slow progress in getting "my" feral feline, Kimchi to trust me.  This year we have not one Cooper's Hawk but a family of three.  They decided they liked my neighbors' birdbath more than mine so they are further away for photographing, but I have managed.  I also got some shots of the rattlesnake who had decided my lot was a great place.  The second time I saw her, I was alerted by the birds and squirrels and when I  opened my door she was coming out from under my step and was headed across the patio.  That time the park manager came up and dispatched her.  He attempted to capture her, but she was big and feisty and finally he asked for a shovel.  She was a pregnant female so, while I hate to kill the wildlife that was here before we were, I am also thankful not to have dozens of babies rattlesnakes around.


                                                                             Cooling off

I am having fun photographing the manzanita trees with their curling bark and satiny limbs and trunks.

  And the oaks and the acorns that get stored.  The first photo has them mostly recovered but the second, a manzanita, still has one tucked in a crack.

Spring brings water to Coarsegold Creek, and an array of wildflowers.   

Coarsegold Creek flows through the park where I live.  So does the old original stagecoach road to Yosemite.  Here the road fords the creek.  Right now it is dry and you can walk across it without getting your shoes wet.  Often it is okay for wading, or driving a golf cart across.  We will have winter storms or years with a heavy snow pack higher up which makes the creek impassible as it melts.

The flowers below are in the incredible garden of my friend and fellow park member Hsu-Lien.  She called me when these beauties bloomed.   When I leave for extended times, I take my house\patio plants to her for care.  When I come back they are always lush and twice the size as when I left them.  When asked her secret, she says she talks to them.   

After my friends Betty and Lance and Char and Dave and I had all had our vaccinations, we made a trip to Hanford.   South and a bit east of us, Hanford has a number of treats.  We were focused on two of them; ice cream and China Alley.

China alley is what remains of the once vibrant Chinese community there.  Hanford was a railroad town and many Chinese immigrants (at that point they were not allowed to become citizens and few women were in their number) worked primarily for railroads, agriculture and in gold camps.   This one block long street has been preserved.  Unfortunately the week before we visited there was a fire in the Temple\museum.  We could see the blackened areas around the doors and windows.   But firefighters got the fire out before it spread or caused major structural damage.  However, many artifacts were lost. And the museum which we were anxious to see is closed indefinitely.  However, the tea shop had some of the museum pieces on display so they are unharmed and we got to see some of them.

Another treat in Hanford is Superior Dairy. This family run business, in operation since 1929, is noted for their huge servings of great ice cream and humongous Sundaes and other concoctions.   Since they were only open for take out, which we ate across the street sitting on the edge of the fountain, we did not opt for something more difficult to handle than a single scoop of ice cream.   B&L and C&D shared those.  I had to eat my whole "scoop" by myself.  One of the few places that has lemon ice cream (not sherbet, or lemon ice, but lemon ice cream) so that is what I always have.   There are several historic buildings, museum etc but things had not fully opened up yet.

My friend, Betty, holding my SINGLE  scoop of lemon ice cream!

Photos below are from the wonderful Chaffee Zoo in Fresno.   Went this spring before it got too hot.  Masks required in inside facilities and they limited number of people.  These were some different shots than ones to be used with articles. 

Fourth of July was the official opening of park facilities.  There had been some limited usage and graduated activities, but this day included the large cart parade, line stretches beyond what is visible here in the staging area.  It was followed by an ice cream social.  Later there was a BBQ, entertainment and dancing.   Lady Liberty made an appearance.  

Summer is here.  We've had record number of three digit days, beginning before usual.  It is dry, hot, fire danger is high.   The family of Cooper's Hawks has been hogging the bird bath next door and since they prey on small birds, the small birds are coming to my baths. But during the heat of mid-day, the hawks simply sit in the birdbath and most of the small birds are on shaded tree branches or under bushes.

you can click on any photo to enlarge.  And if you want to start at the top, click on the first one and you can do a slide show.

Please leave your comments.   Someone said they were unable to and I would like to see if this is an issue.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Holiday Greetings


Wishing you joy and peace

Hello friends and family,

      I know this has been an unusual and often difficult year for all of us.   I just hope it was also a year in which you were able to find joys, insights and strengths.  None of us will forget 2020.

       I usually head to cooler summer locations, traveling or finding a fun seasonal work location.  Not this year. I stayed on my lot in Coarsegold, except for an evacuation, and survived the heat.  I socially distanced.  For someone who enjoys being with people, starting conversations with folks I don’t even know, eating out and exploring new places, I thought this would be particularly difficult.  But I found zoom to be a huge benefit.  I’ve enjoyed the services, on-line activities and discussions at the Unitarian-Universalist Church in Fresno.  I have howled in the evenings with a few neighbors to honor front line workers.  Outside, well distanced, masked, we would  stand and visit for awhile.  I emailed and talked to friends on phones.   I couldn’t help but think how different this was from the 1918 pandemic. Being a bit of a Luddite, I found I appreciated the technology more than I ever expected.

      I took on responsibility for organizing and working on a sanitation crew to help keep our clubhouse and laundry safe.  Although the clubhouse is closed to activities, we need access to mail boxes, office and to wash clothes.  A woman in the park offered to make a mask for anyone who wanted one.  Later, Chris’ daughter made me a half dozen more. The time allowed for the wound on my head (melanoma surgeries) to heal and bald spots to start shrinking. And I love the wildlife on my site and worked on bird photography. I’ve been adopted by a feral cat I’ve named Kimchee. 

  The hard parts were the Creek Fire which came close enough to be a concern.   Our park was not evacuated but the warning area (people being told to get ready and stay tuned for orders) ended just across the road from us.  But the combination of smoke, raining ash and uncertainty got the best of me.  I headed to my cousin’s house in the Bay Area.  Since she had a very small “bubble” it was a safe place and we talked our heads off  Another  hard part was discovering how many people felt they didn’t need to isolate or wear masks to protect people around them.   The election was stressful.   I lost three good friends from my early full-time RVing days as well as two others.

     Now that vaccines are available, we can hope 2021 will be a better year and that we can begin healing the divisions. 

    I wish you a happy holiday season, knowing I am a bit late for Chanukah and for Christmas with hard copies of this letter.   May you all be blessed in the New Year.

    Virtual hugs for now, real ones again someday,


Thanksgiving in a Pandemic

                                    Thanksgiving in a pandemic

This has been a decidedly different kind of year for all of us.  My Thanksgiving certainly was not my norm.    This holiday has always been my favorite; not for the story of the Pilgrims as that does carry with it the demise of the indigenous people of this continent, but because it has always been about sharing a meal, sharing time with friends and family, taking time for the things for which we are thankful, but without all the pressures of Christmas.  

This year I had Thanksgiving alone.  Well, not quite as I was surrounded by the sounds and sights of over a dozen variety of birds, some of which have become so accustomed to me that they stayed less than the required 6 feet away.

I ordered a meal from a restaurant.  After all, I do love all the Thanksgiving foods, but cooking them for one seemed a bit much.   I set colorful cloth placemats and napkin on my patio table, and sat looking out at the view.   With my new hearing aids, I was well aware of all the feathered neighbors, not just the ones I could see but the ones in the trees or otherwise not in view.

The meal was great, with enough for the best part, turkey and cranberry etc. sandwich the next day.  I poured myself a glass of Pinot Grigio, and sat down.  I found that alone, I could take more time to think about the things for which I am thankful, to think about the people who
are important to me and the things in this world I love.  While next year I hope we will all be able to gather with loved ones again, I think that this year was its own kind of blessing.

I had a long phone conversation with an old friend from early full-time RVing days, a zoom conversations with some of the folks from the Unitarian-Universalist Church in Fresno, lots of emails and Facebook messages.  It was a good day.  

Here are some of the friends I shared it with:

Bush Tits don't socially distance