Where Imagination Happens – Glimpses of Artists’ Studios

Would you expect an artist’s studio to be spotless on a visitation tour? Please don’t! Would you expect their display areas to look like an art museum? Read on to find out for yourselves.

South Valley Artists' Tour
Foothill near Rick Badgley’s studio in Three Rivers new St. Anthony’s Retreat

The day was magic, perfect temperature, warm sunshine bathing the mountains highlighting the California poppies, a few wispy clouds against the clear blue sky. A drive to Three Rivers, CA at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains never disappoints, but some days thrill more than others. This was one of those days.

Outside the Louise Fisher Clay Studio in Three Rivers
Across the highway from  the Louise Fisher Clay Studio in Three Rivers

We visited five artist’s studios, signed up for art classes, made design notes, and met some incredibly talented individuals. This studio sits atop a mountain overlooking the Kaweah River as it flows from the mountains on one side, and Highway 198, which is pictured above.

Art students pounded and molded clay projects this studio, even on tour day. One student had to thin her brick when she found out that thick pieces explode when put in the kiln.

Art Tour - Clay studio
Budding artists work with clay.

We met two of the three artists, Christine Sell-Porter and Bill “Hopper” Sullivan. To take us on the tour, Christine stopped working on her orchid pot that has holes throughout to let the orchid roots breathe.

South Valley Artist's Tour
Clay orchid pot before firing

My husband chatted with Hopper, and signed up to take a class.  Christine displayed her paintings and her new experiments with clay, including the ones that did not work. You can get an idea of the beauty of the spring wildflowers from her paintings. She points out another pot she made with the orchid starting to grow.

South Valley Artists Tour
Christine Sell-Porter’s paintings and clay pot

We also visited a popular painter and photographer across the highway named Nadi Spencer. You can tell artsy people by the fact that the junk in their front yards looks impressive and not like the country dump. My eyes went immediately to the bike, but my husband, who is artsier than I am, noticed the paint cans with matching flowers, and the chairs with matching sweaters draped across the back. You can see the aqua one in this picture after you quit focusing on the bike.

South Valley Artists Tour
Outside Nadi Spencer’s studio in Three Rivers

Nadi sells most of her paintings on Facebook by joining groups that love the kinds of things she paints. She paints a lot of dog portraits. Her realistic paintings look like photographs for a high-quality restaurant or brochures with just enough artistic touches to make them fun.  She sold both cards and paintings at the show.  You can see her self-portrait on the top right.

South Valley Artist's Tour
Inside Spencer’s gallery

People came and went the entire time we visited her gallery. One woman came in to pick up some 40 year-old teddy bears she had advertised online. Only a half-door and a huge dog separated her studio from the gallery.

South Valley Artists' Tour
Spencer’s color packed studio

It was getting near closing time for the artists so we headed back home to Elderwood to visit our two neighbors. Not that the Sundstroms and I are unfriendly, but I have walked by this studio several hundred times in the last 15 years, walked with John Sundstrom’s wife, and never met John nor seen the inside of his work area.

South Valley Artists' Tour
Artist John Sundstrom’s studio driveway

John may well have been the most prolific and diverse of any of the artists we visited. He taught for 25 years or so at the Creative Center in Visalia for disabled adults. He said that having the same students for years pushed him to explore many artistic mediums.

South Valley Artist's tour
First impressions at John Sundstrom’s two-story solar-powered studio

The front and center of the studio featured his sculptures out of stone.  He showed us the hand chisels and files he used to carve. Being a former dental assistant, I had visualized a power tool like a dentist’s drill that he might have used on these hard rock. He told us that only the company that sold the stones used a power tool to cut the rocks into flat-bottomed chunks. My favorite sculpture glowed from the inside out when illuminated.

South Valley Artists' Tour
The glowing stone

Reluctantly we headed upstairs away from the sculptures, but the diversity of his fabulous drawings and paintings quickly captured our interest. He accented this Japanese kimono with gold leaf.

South Valley Artists' Tour
Japanese Kimono by John Sundstrom

After visiting until after closing time, we left for home, saving the tour of our friend, Linda Hengst’s studio for the next day, and our Visalia artists for Sunday.

Reward: What Does It Mean To Me?

I think accomplishments reward me.

2015 ride home126Frankly there is no reward great enough to recompense a person for the amount of effort they put into a project.  For example, why blog? Is it because someone rewards you? Of course not. Most of us blog to communicate with the world, to share what’s happening that’s important to us. My last blog told the story of  Bob’s old barn, I fell in love with it just in time – it’s coming down. It was rewarding to take pictures and tell the story.

2015 Hengst Barn106I took the picture below of this same path Saturday on my way home from Visalia. It has changed. History is all about change. Today it looks like this.

2015 ride home128This crane cleared out olive trees, and the barn will come down soon to make way for a new field of fruit trees.

Today I met with a friend, Laile Di Silvestro, today who is helping me heal a sick and injured website for San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies. My reward for the three and a half hours that we labored is a website that works a little better, a closer relationship with a talented and generous person, and –  totally unrelated, but I’m counting it as a reward – beautiful weather giving me scenery to photograph.

2015 ride home110Seriously, you’d think it was mid-summer in Montana to look at that sky. It’s a bit chilly, but not enough to deter anyone. We’ve all been praying for rain. That would be a reward.

2015 ride home105A few of these clouds rewarded us with a light drizzle, but not much rain. Most of our water comes from wells pumped from underground aquifers or nearby irrigations ditches.

 

2015 ride home104These pumps may not look beautiful, but water is a huge reward.

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And we are rewarded by food, not only for us but for the cows that provide one of my favorite foods – cheese. Tulare County is one of the largest dairy producing counties in the world. We probably have more cows here than we have people. Most of them live near Visalia and Hanford in large dairies of up to 5,000 cows. Talk about a lot of work. If you don’t like cheese, it might not seem like such a great reward, but I love it.

2015 ride home119This is the dairy I used to pass everyday on my way to and from work.

2015 ride home117Those cows probably aren’t praying for rain, but I’m guessing that the people who live in this house on that dairy farm are.  I hope they get their reward. 🙂

 

For more entries about rewards click here.

 

 

WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue

Talkative Marsha struggling with dialogue?  In this case what I think the creator of this challenge wanted us to catch is a bit of fashion designing with our pictures rather than strict dialogue – odd things that sort of go together because of color or texture similarities or differences.  They just work.  I like fashion and decorating, so I wanted to pursue that angle.

First, I started with dialogue in a more literal sense.  Puppy Girl dialogued very clearly with Vince.  He worked on the computer, when clearly he could have chosen to pet her tummy.  So she grabs his hand and pulls.

PG and Pie

It’s endearing, but altogether annoying to him when he has an offer to submit.  Generally she wins.

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Next I considered animals dialoguing with each other, and establishing their pecking order.  The queen here stands alone not deigning to even look at her lowly subject.  No worries, the subject, like the jester, simply enjoys the ride, laughs at the queen behind her back, and moves on, untroubled by the queen’s weighty problems.

Mike and statue

When I took this next picture, I looked at the sculpture, then Mike walked up.  Back and forth I looked at one then the other until dizziness made me shout, “Stop Mike!  Is that statue YOU?  Let me photograph the two of you together.”   Mike obliged.   I think it was the cheeks that spoke, but maybe it was the mustache. What do you think?

Then I thought about art work I had seen in which many pictures placed together made a collage that spoke as one picture.  When I see them, I think, that would be easy.  How can you call that art?  But since I can’t draw very well, my pictures kept their mouths closed, uncommunicatively.  Then I remembered the grapes leaves I photographed last fall.  As I moused through them, they started speaking.  All at the same time, “Pick me, pick me. I want to go in the picture.” So I created a collage.

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Then another.

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Finally I remembered the Woodlake Botanical Gardens.  I missed the show this year, but last year I happened to walk around Bravo Lake on the day that all the roses decided to bloom their brightest blooms.  One of them said, “I am the beautiful one, take my picture.”  So I did.  Another  group of roses playing and giggling together attracted me.  The last rose said nothing.  She turned her face to the sun and spoke to God asking nothing more than to be a blessing to others. I thought she was the prettiest of all.

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If you enjoyed these take a gander at how other bloggers interpreted the challenge of dialogue.wordpress-20141

Weekly Photo Challenge: ZigZag

California mountain road contain numerous “hogbacks” as my friend, Darlene, calls the switchbacks on the way to Sequoia National Park. It turns out that those same kinds of roads exist on the Coastal Redwood Highway as well.  This park called Mystery Trees was about where our truck’s worn out transmission tired of lugging our new trailer. oregon trip 201320130915_0021138We rented a car and enjoyed the “break.”  Not only did the roads and the paths twist and turn, so did the trees, providing beauty and shade. oregon trip 201320130914_1105230R When we did get going again, the fog wanted us to slow down more than the zigzags. SFW Wildflower class20130420_93R These zigzags are closer to home – to anyone’s home.  I never tire of the zigzag shapes of tree branches.  These trees are in an educational property called Circle J Ranch owned by Tulare County Office of Education where I worked.  It is close to a tiny town called Springville, east of Porterville, CA.

1969 floodR

I apologize for the quality of this picture.  I heard that someone zig zagged on their responsibilities to posterity, and put the archives in the trash instead of the scanning machine, so this is the best picture I have.  In this newspaper picture it was the Kaweah (Kuh wee’ uh) River that zagged.

The headwaters for the Kaweah River begin their zig zag course out of the Great Western Divide where mountain summits rise to over 12, 000 feet.   The North Fork, which is just east of us begins at 9,000 feet.  If the river could go down the mountain in a straight line, the Kaweah River would drop in excess of 2 vertical miles in a distance of 30 linear miles.  The Kaweah River loses the same altitude as the Colorado River, but is 97% shorter.  It is the steepest river in the United States. Even with a dam to control flooding, in 1969 the water zig zagged its own way into the Woodlake Valley.  (Tilchen, Mark.  Floods of the Kaweah)

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To see more entries for this Zig Zag challenge, click the icon above.  🙂

Sunday Post: Nature

Is nature natural or just outside?  Are objects of nature found inside a building still considered nature?  Jake always makes me think!

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The nature we have here in the California Central Valley is anything but natural in most places.

TC Winter covered peach tree r

The 600-mile long California Central Valley has been plowed and remodeled to grow every crop imaginable.

SFW TC Spring 2013078rOne of many valley crops, peach trees, deposed native oaks found in the Kaweah River Delta over one hundred fifty years ago.  For more agricultural facts click here.

TC Winter oak tree r

Between the Kaweah River Delta and Sierra Nevada mountains, alfalfa replaced nature’s native grasses.

alfalfa field r

Cows in the foothills still eat grass until it dries, but the variety differs from what grew here in the 1850s when Thomas Henry Davis brought some of the first cows from Mexico to Antelope Valley, near current-day Woodlake, CA.

SFW TC Spring cows 4

Evergreen orange trees first populated the Woodlake area in 1878, watered in part by the Watchumna Ditch, built in 1872.  Canals and ditches still carry life-giving water to arid fields.

Friant Kern Canal r

Last year the trees received enough water to stay healthy. This year farmers uprooted thousands of dead orange trees.

oranges Apr2013r

Since this area thrives because of irrigation, when water reserves and underground water tables drop, farmers rely on water transported from Northern California.  The Kaweah River constrained by the Terminus Dam receded this year to expose a bridge built in 1938, foundations of homes, and wells.

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Man-made changes have obviously mixed with nature to create California’s Central Valley “nature.”  President Obama arrives tomorrow in Fresno to assess the drought’s damage to the Central Valley’s agricultural nature.

For more facts about Tulare County click here.

For more interpretations on Nature, click here.

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WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Object

We live in a natural aviary.  I learned Wednesday night that Bravo Lake, which I have featured several times on this blog, is one of the best places in CA to bird watch.  One morning last May I went out in our front yard and found a blue jay egg in the planter area lying on the bark.  Blue jays lay blue eggs – of course!

Bluejay egg 001
“Pardon my dirty spot. My parents sit on me.”

The last time I found eggs in a hazardous place for them, I called the Wild Life Protective Services, and found out that birds have no sense of smell in their beaks, so don’t know that you have handled their eggs.  So I didn’t feel badly about experimenting with this one.   As I turned it, I noticed that it already had a chip off its shoulder.

Bluejay egg 010

It rolled around for a while as I watched hands-free.  After that, I put it back in the bark where I found it because I had to leave.  By then it had another chip out and several cracks.

Bluejay egg 013

It was gone when I came back.  Maybe it hatched.  We have a lot of birds at our house.

For more interesting objects click here.

What wildlife do you enjoy right in your front yard? Yes, even insects count if they bother or interest you enough to notice them!

Other Bravo Lake posts.

 

 

Bravo Lake

I have to admit that I’m mad about Bravo Lake.  It takes up about 1/4 of the area labeled on a map as Woodlake, and you can’t stand on a street anywhere in town and see it!  It started out with great promise, “Bravo!  Bravo!”  sounds like an excited cheer.  Something like, “Yeah, here’s a big beautiful lake.  Let’s have a picnic.  Bravo, sport!”

 

I'm going to catch a fish here any minute.  Get the barby ready!
I’m going to catch a fish here any minute. Get the barby ready!

That is not what bravo meant in the case of Bravo Lake, however.  In the early 1850s, when Tulare County was established, quite a few Irish settlers came to this land of plenty, seeking their fortune.  Times in Ireland were not conducive to finding fortunes as  the Great Irish Potato Famine that lasted from 1845 to 1852.  They might have first tried their luck at finding gold in 1849 about 200 miles to the north, but their sights were set on finding a good place to grow some food.  The Kaweah Delta was a great place to settle.

This looks like a good place to settle down and raise a family.
This looks like a good place to settle down and raise a family.

Not to stereotype, but you’ve all heard of the fighting Irish?  In Woodlake the fight between two Irishmen, one a future California senator, gave Bravo Lake its name.  Grace Pogue describes the death-defying squabble in her book, Within the Magic Circle.  

Bravo Lake, named by Indians, was given a Spanish name.

Swamp John and Tom Fowler, two fiery-tempered Irishmen, met one morning on the shore of the lake, which extended at that time as far north as the Wacaser place. As usual, they were in a fighting mood and the battle was on. T. H. Davis Sr., exasperated at their continued squabbling, pulled out his six-shooter and said, “You fellows settle this scrap right now. Finish it up, completely. And I don’t want ever to hear of your quarreling again.”

The fight was on now in deadly earnest. It lasted until noon. The news spread like wild fire. In an unbelievably short time, a crowd of Indians had gathered to see the finish of the feud. Shouts of “Bravo! Bravo!” spurred the doughty old warriors on.

At last, Swamp John sank exhausted to the ground. Satisfied onlookers carried him down to the lake to remove the traces of battle. Tom Fowler walked to the on his own power and bathed his hands and face. He was proclaimed the victor. The erstwhile belligerent pair were good friends forever after.

The lake was immediately christened Bravo Lake by a pleased band of Indian spectators.

This all happened before 1889 because Tom Davis, Sr. died in that year.  So my guess is that Bravo Lake was here when the white settlers came in 1852.  That being said, I bet they could see it.  From the street, I mean.  It was the center of interest.

Bravo Lake Fish Fry

Today you can’t see the large lake from street level in any direction.  I worked in Woodlake for years, and people would ask me if I had walked around Bravo Lake.  I didn’t even know where it was, and it was in the center of town.  Because the western section of Tulare County is the drain for multiple rivers, you might guess that flooding was common in the early days.  That was a problem for these settlers, so at some point a levee was built around the lake shrouding it from public view.  Years after that the Corps of Engineers dammed the Kaweah River, which feeds into Bravo Lake, eliminating the flood danger, to the best of my understanding, but nothing was ever engineered to make the lake reappear to the drive by onlooker.

Come right in.  Enjoy the lake!  :)
Come right in. Enjoy the lake! 🙂

In order to see this beautiful lake you have to walk up a steep bank and through a large opening in a tall chain link fence  Nobody here seems to mind that.  There is a beautiful botanical garden edging the south side of the levee.  Houses rim another section, and the rest is flanked by well watered groves of trees, mostly olives.  Along the brim of the levee is a wide, partially paved walking path.  I guess that is how they placate the public.  No one is prevented from walking around the beautiful lake.  but unsuspecting folks driving through Woodlake on their way to see the Sequoia National Park would completely miss the gem of Woodlake.  I think that is downright inhospitable!

What do you think?

Speaking of Bird Eggs

Today I am my own guest bloggers.  I got the idea from Cathy, better known as ShareChair, who reposted some of her earliest posts.  I posted this one year ago, one of my first posts.  Since very few people have ever seen it I thought it was appropriate to republish it to show you another variety of bird we have in Tulare County.

We can’t believe that they are not extinct, but the sites I found on Google insist that they are common.

This mama or dad, they look alike, has been sitting in 100 degree heat all day to cool these four future killdeer.  Her choice of nesting site is the reason we question the statistics on their abundance.  Those rocks are our driveway.

She/he did the Killdeer feigning dance for me until the cat came over to investigate.  I carted the cat safely away, and snapped these pictures one-handed as I left the poor stressed mother/father to get back to work sitting on the now-shaded eggs.

Sorry to say these pretty eggs didn’t make it either, in spite of their mother’s constantly chasing off predators.  Most likely our cats were the culprits as they had their eyes all over those eggs.  Vince and I felt very sad when the nest was empty.

And speaking of eggs did you all get a chance to name the new flamingo chick?  You have until June 3.

Dam 50th Anniversary

What would you do with an unruly river that tumbles 12,000 feet from the Sierra Nevada Mountains starting in the Sequoia National Park?  No other North American river, including the Colorado River, drops so far in such a short distance.

South Fork Bridge in Three Rivers, National Park Service, Tulare County Library.

 

What would you do if its unruliness built up one the most fertile deltas in the West?

What would you do if it emptied into the largest body of fresh water in the lower 48 states west of the Lake Superior?  (That shallow lake, Tulare Lake, has long since been drained by a series of irrigation canals.)  Like a ghost it infrequently reappears flooding Highway 43, the road to my favorite beach.

What would you do with the unruly, three-forked river?

You would dam that river!  And 50 years ago, that’s just what the U.S. Corps of Engineers did.

Inside were all kinds of treasures including this wonderful 50th Anniversary Edition Book
Inside this small treasure of a museum were all kinds of treasures including this wonderful 50th Anniversary Edition Book

Mary restrains the clouds from ushering in the next flood at  the Kaweah Heritage Visitor Center.

Grapes of Wrath

Though these were not the only flood years, large floods caused by warm winter rains melting the snowpack occurred in 1937 (Remember the Grapes of Wrath?  Steinbeck wrote his famous book after he visited Visalia, and saw the destruction of the flood that year.)  Additionally warm weather floods also took place in 1955, 1966, and 1986.

Smaller floods caused by warm weather snowmelt only without lots of extra watery input deluged the valley in 1969, 1978, 1983, and 1997.  The once every 50 years or so a flash flood type storm, caused by a tropical storm dropping 3-5 inches overnight during a dry season, last happened in September, 1978.  Finally, the rarest destructive flood initiated by a landslide that created a natural dam. Like a chain of dominos when the dam broke it caused a 40 foot deep river to plunge down the mountain side and flow into Visalia, still 5 feet deep when it created the temporary Venice in CA.  This disaster happened only once in December, 1867. (Facts thanks to Sequoia Natural History Association, author Mark Tilchen.  Floods of the Kaweah.)  Mary bought it for me at half price, $5.99, compared to the next museum we visited.  Amazon price is $10.95.  It’s a great book with many pictures of famous floods.

Here are the pictures I took of the old photos from the Kaweah Heritage Visitor Center at Kaweah Lake.

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If you teach 3rd grade in Tulare County I would recommend visiting Terminus Dam on the Kaweah River as a mini-field trip for your students or your own family, and the book would certainly interest you. Although the reading level is too difficult for third graders, the pictures might draw them into challenging the descriptions.   Earl Mann, who took many of the pictures in the book, still lives in the area, might be a great primary source witness to the flood of 1955.  Tilchen recorded Earl Mann’s account of the 1955 flood on page 36 of the book.

Hope you enjoyed this short history lesson about fascinating Tulare County.

More Running P

Mike Pace was a history teacher.  Sally was a high school counselor that raised more scholarships than almost anyone in the nation – per student.  She was one of three in the NATION!!!!  That’s how we all met.  They retired a few years ago, and they both keep more than busy doing projects.  They have created Running P Ranch as a place for others to enjoy with them.  They host weddings, Kiwanis parties, and many other events.  Yesterday I posted just a few signs from the bar before I ran out of time.  Today, you’re in for a treat.

Meet Margaret Sanger, named for a historic person.  Do you know why Margaret  is famous?
Meet Margaret Sanger, named for a historic person. Do you know why Margaret is famous?

As it turns out Mike and Sally built a “bath” house for people who want to get married at Running P Ranch.  I wished I could get married when I saw all the cute, fun things at this ranch.  Here is the bath house where the bride gets ready.  There is even a high, high clothes bar to hang the full length dresses.

Mike and Sally collect things.  It’s dark in here, but you can get an idea of what’s in here.  All I needed was a horse or two and a beautiful white gown to create my perfect romantic ride.

Yard art intrigues me, especially when it is old farm equipment.  Some of these item you are going to have to guess at. Can you find the tractor tire?  How about the hand-held walking hoe that belonged to Mike Grandfather?  Lanterns are easy to locate.   Now if you are at a loss about these items, you can like Sally and Mike’s Fan Page at the end of this post.

I had to laugh at the two folks that looked just like Mike.  One of them came from New Mexico.  Can you guess which one?

One last item before I close.  You can’t have a ranch without having the proper attire.  Sally asked me not to photograph her, but I couldn’t resist this professional gear.  Notice the knees.

So there you have it, a more proper introduction to the Running P Ranch.  Hope you had as much fun as we did.  Of course you couldn’t have because you didn’t have Mike and Sally to escort you through, but just imbibe a little of my fun, and be sure to find a few things that make you laugh.

They started a Facebook Fan Page just 3 days ago.  Yesterday they had 111 fans already! I have 50, and mine started at least a month ago (I’m not competing!!!!)  Here is their fan page if you want to give them a like.  https://www.facebook.com/RunningPRanch

Romance in Tulare County

horses kissing

If you’ve been reading my blog recently, you’ll notice that several blogger friends are wanting to get together.  Several have suggested that they want to come to Tulare County.  I will just say that it’s a great place!  Romance is in the air.  You’ll be given lots of space

space in TC

So come to TC for your special romantic vacation.  You can’t go wrong!  Boyfriends or girlfriends are not provided!!!

*******************************************************************************************************************Now for some serious business:

I received a present of a book from author Lisa Winkler, Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America.  I started it last night, and it is wonderful.  I’ll be writing a review soon.  Her blog,  Cycling Grandma, was my Featured Blog recently.  Thanks so much, Lisa.

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For some reason my blog was selected to put on a special hotel website.  Here is the email.  They use the words WordPress in the email, so I’m just assuming that it’s legitimate.  Since this has never happened to me before, I’m going to rely on all of you to let me know it is.  Their link is provided in the email.  🙂

Hello,
This is Shiela from HotelShivSaiShirdi.com.
We stumbled on your blog while searching for Hotel. We operate the largest WordPress Hotel blog website featuring more than 30,000+ blogs. Our site averages 200,000+ uniques visitors per month. As a kind note We have featured your blog at http://hotelshivsaishirdi.com.pink.mysitehosted.com/blog_awards/index.php?id=2115 We would be grateful if you could add the following details to your blogroll or in a post
<a href=’http://hotelshivsaishirdi.com/‘>Hotels in Shirdi</a>
Looking forward for your confirmation.
Thanks
Shiela
HotelShivSaiShirdi.com.

********************************************************************************************************************

Don’t forget Renee’s Online Birthday Party Coming up Dec. 24th at 12:00 a.m. PST and going through Dec. 26 at 12:00 a.m.

Renee copy

Day Trip From Woodlake to Three Rivers, CA In Search of Snow

Winding Through the Backroads Out of Woodlake, CA

We got up Sunday morning to absolutely sparkly blue skies, and cool temperatures.  It was a perfect day for a trip to the mountains.  I wanted to see snow up close and personal.  In the summer here the weather changes very little, but in the winter it can change from minute to minute.  Before it changed too much V, Kalev and I hopped into the car and headed for the hills.  My goal was to get to Sequoia National Park, and play in the snow.

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake014The trip up to the park was distracting.  “Pull over right here, V.  I want to snap a picture of rock outcroppings.”

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake013

“Stop, stop, stop. right here V.  There’s a great picture of a horse for Auty.”

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake010

“Look at that view, V.  Don’t you think I should take that?  SToooooop!!!”

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake020

“Thanks V.  I’m ready now.”  Both V and Kalev were VERY patient

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake025

 

 

Kaweah Lake near Three Rivers, CA

I do want to stop at Kaweah Lake and take a few pictures.  OK?

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake037

Now that’s what I’m talking about.  I can’t believe that I thought this was ugly when I first moved here.  Right now it is at its lowest levels.  You can see the high-level water mark on the side of the hill.  When the rains come, and the snows melt, the lake behind Terminus Dam builds up.  If the Corps of Engineers doesn’t keep it empty now, it could conceivably break the dam built in 1955.  Before that time our valley was subject to extreme droughts most years, then huge floods every 7-10 years that bathed all the valley towns in several feet of fast-flowing, tree and rock-laden river waters.

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake041

We pulled into the Tulare County Boat Safety Patrol Lake Kaweah Office parking lot, saw a friend of V’s, and took some pictures.  The flag was flying at half-mast in honor of victims of the Newtown, Connecticut shooting.

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake044
Terminus Dam
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“No, no Puppy Girl. Mommy doesn’t want to climb back UP those stairs.” – ML
TC Drive to Kaweah Lake073
I’ll bring you back here this spring, and you’ll wonder how those cars could have ever been driving down there. ML

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake052 TC Drive to Kaweah Lake055 TC Drive to Kaweah Lake076Then we headed up the road in search of snow.  Almost immediately we came to Horse Creek Bridge.  When I was teaching, just before summer vacation one year, a young woman came to speak to our 4th graders about swimming safety.

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake080

Like many other youngsters, when summer came, she went with her friends and took turns jumping off Horse Creek Bridge into the water below.  Of course, there’s a lot more water in the summer.

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake084

Nonetheless, the rocks are still there, buried, and impossible to judge.  She hit her head and broke her neck.

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake082 The jump paralyzed her for life at age 19.

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We drove up to Slick Rock, a popular place to swim in the summer.

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Kalev was thankful for a chance to explore.

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Mom and Dad weren’t paying much attention to her.  Good thing she had on her leash!

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Plenty of green grass. Don’t look Dad! About time we get to explore something besides pavement!  This is MORE like it. OK, I’m done now, Dad. DAD! I said I’m DONE. LET”S MOVE IT!   COME ON! – K
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Finally, there’s a lot to sniff here . – K
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I could make it down this little slope, but Dad said no. If he’d just LOSE this leash! – K
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I could climb those. He’s not being reasonable with this leash thing. MMMM, What’s this smell? -K
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Dad seems preoccupied with this view. I don’t know what the big deal is. I could just run around if he’d just unsnap my leash. – K
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Mom doesn’t even care. Do you think SHE is going to climb those rocks. hahaha Last time she tried something like that she smashed her camera lens when she tripped. LOL  BUT I COULD BE CLIMBING THOSE ROCKS!  DAD, LET ME GO!  -K
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I wonder how I could get his attention? – K
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There, these did the trick! Now he’s looking.  He’s bending down.  He’ll unsnap my leash now.  Ouch DAD! You’re pulling my hair!  I don’t have much, hair, and … What are you doing?  Leave those burs in my back alone. They aren’t bothering anyone! – K
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Great, now he’s called Mom over. She never gives up on these things. OUUUUUCH! MOM! Why don’t they just go back to their sightseeing? – K

 

V came unglued.  I struggled with my bandaged thumb to pull out burs for about the next 15 minutes.  Finally we were down to the last three, but they weren’t budging.  Then one more to go.  It was almost in her mouth, and needed to be cut out.  About that time, the park ranger drove up.  I got out of the car and asked if he had any scissors.  He did!  We cut the last bur out, bit by bit.  Kalev was such a good girl.  She did jerk her head a bit, but never a yelp or a snap. In the end, it took both V and me to hold her head still while Ranger Bill snipped out the bur.  Here’s a FAQ for you about burs.  “The bur of burdock was the inspiration for Velcro.”  Wikipedia

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That wasn’t so bad. Maybe Ranger Bill will let me down to run around. – K

Kalev was very grateful to Ranger Bill.

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Our next stop was Horse Creek Campground.

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You can see how exposed the tree roots are because of the higher level of the water in the spring and early summer.  That means the campground is under water, and we wouldn’t be driving on this road.

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Dad, put me down. Mom’s leaving us.  MOM, you forgot me!  Do you see that grass? What’s a Pac-Man? – K

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Across the road, I spotted Pac-Man hanging out at Horse Creek Campground.

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Can you tell how old this tree is?  Me either, the rings are too small for me to count, but it’s dead now.  After one last shot for Toemail, we were ready to leave. The blue skies suddenly turned gray, we were tired, and we never drove high enough to reach snow.  We decided to go back home and wait for the snow to come down to us.  It was a relatively quick trip, and we thought of many other reasons to come back.  It was a great date.  People come from all over the world to visit the Sequoia National Park, home of the biggest trees in the world.  We didn’t make it up that far today.

So if you come visit us, we’ll make the entire trip to the Sequoias without all the distractions because you will have seen them already.  Or maybe you’d like the distractions, too.

What do you think?  With or without distractions?

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing Seasons

A dear friend gave me wool yarn from Australia to make a warm sweater as a departure gift from Colorado Springs.  It was summer, and even in Colorado we weren’t thinking about cold weather, but certainly not in Tulare County where the 90 degree temperature recorded at 5:00 a.m. almost persuaded us to find a job elsewhere.  I wondered if I would ever need a sweater!  Was I ever naive!  While the temperatures rarely get below freezing, sweaters are VERY useful.

Changing SeasonsThis first picture, taken December 4th, shows the basic gray that indicates that winter is upon us.

Winter in TC

Last January, while hustling to a meeting, the picture above demanded me to stop, and remove my camera from its bag, and click it.  Where we only get 10 inches of rain a year, 99% of it comes in November – January.  Rain could start any minute – and it did.

TC January 2012 FogWhen the rain stops, dastardly Tule fog creeps across the landscape blinding drivers who can not longer see two feet away from them in the daytime!  On this beautiful January last year the sun broke through, dashing the plans of Fog’s armed clouds that stuck close, protecting their earthly territory.  Warrior Sun fought valiantly for two or three days to slash through thick foggy armor to free us.  We have not had fog this year, but we all know it’s on its way.

Featured Blog

Justice For Raymond, written by Ray’s Mom, differs from most of the blogs I see. The first time I visited it, I thought, “Wow could that happen?”  So far in my blogging travels this blog challenges viewers to do more than like the article or write a response.  The blogster says it best,

http://www.denied-justice.com is a web site that holds documents, court transcripts, autopsy for Raymond Zachry, the reason for the blog, Justice for Raymond.  Ray suddenly, unexpectedly died September 25, 2007.  The autopsy revealed that he had a huge amount of lethal poison in his system.  Still the coroner refused to cooperate and allow an investigation.”

In this season of giving, I need to pause sometimes, and think seriously about the meaning of life and my purpose for enjoying the privilege of being here.  Thanks Ray’s Mom for reminding me that life is precious.

More ideas for Changing Seasons

Celebrate the season!

Walnuts Change Clothes for the Winter

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I hated walnuts until I moved to Tulare County.  We couldn’t have been relocated into a better place than when my first husband and I moved here August 1, 1985, a month prior to the beginning of walnut harvesting season.  After about 3 months of blistering hot weather, and by that I mean temperatures of 105+ F or 40.55 C, walnuts are ready to come down from their lofty perches.  We rented an old adobe house centered between two walnut groves.

Nobody told me how they got walnuts out of the trees.  Walnut trees put up with a lot from us humans.  Have you ever been in so much trouble that your authority person took you by the shoulders and shook you?  That’s what large equipment, called a shaker, does to each and every walnut tree.  Do you know what is in the trees besides walnuts?

Of course you do.  Dust.  There is so much dust in the air that even the leaves can’t breathe.  Maybe the trees are grateful for the shake-up.  Leaves are much more tenacious than walnuts, however, and they stay put through the process.  Walnut husks let loose of most of their walnuts and drop them nicely into a large dump truck following the shaker machine.  I almost got pictures of that happening this fall, but guess what?  Forgot my camera – AGAIN!  The amount of dust that filled the air would have horrified those of you who think the sky is blue.  It isn’t in September.  It’s brownish-blue.  Even the clouds hide when the dust is flying.

In the days when we lived in the walnut groves, I had all the walnuts I ever wanted.  After the shakers came, the gleaners gleaned.  They took some of the walnuts that were left on the ground where the shaker didn’t aim very well, and missed the dump truck.  After the gleaners finished, the walnut trees dropped the rest of their walnuts sporadically throughout the winter.

One warm day in November I headed into the grove for my daily walk.  Lying on the ground were piles and piles of left-over walnuts that everybody had missed.  In all the months we had lived there (4), I didn’t realize that walnuts had connoisseurs that weren’t human, but they did.  Even after a month of picking them I had not met a non-human walnut-lover, but on this particular day I met them.  At first I picked up just a walnut or two, and carried them in my hands.  Then I got greedy.  I didn’t have a container with me, so I used my blouse, and just made a little sling out of the front of it, and started loading it with walnuts.  Here and there I bent down, and added more and more walnuts to my nifty cotton t-shirt/bag.  (Yes, I was literally a 30 year-old bag lady.)

With my blouse filled with walnuts, I started itching a little.  I couldn’t scratch because I was carrying all those walnuts, and that took both hands.  Walking faster and faster I still was quite a ways from our house, when I realized what was happening.  I disturbed these  inhumane feasters by stealing their walnuts and jostling them. They came out of the walnut shell to check things out.  Obviously they didn’t like what they saw, and decided to scare me away from their dinner by biting me instead.  Hundreds of them, tiny red ants swarmed out of the shells, into the folds of my blouse, up and over the fabric, right onto my tummy, and up across the top to my neck.  Once I saw the little red devils, I dropped those walnuts, and brushed ants off me as I dashed towards the house.  I couldn’t fill the bathtub fast enough.

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So when I was on my drive, December 4th admiring the beautiful red leaves of the vineyard across the street, the walnut trees, my old friends, called out to me,  “Marsha Lee,  don’t just look at those withered up old grape vines.  We’re pretty, too. Take our pictures.”

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How do you resist a plea like that?  (Even if I did think they sort of looked like they were wearing the Emperor’s New Clothes.)  I didn’t tell them that, of course.

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A left-over. Beware of ants!!

How I get rid of ants, and got walnuts ready to eat:

  • Heat walnuts in the shell in an oven heated to about 200 degrees.  When you start smelling hair, you can turn off the over, but I still leave them in there.  (About an hour or two.  I never had any walnuts seem over done.  If you don’t roast them a bit they are kind of chewy.
  • Shell the walnuts.  This is a great TV watching  activity.
  • Store walnuts in the freezer.  They keep for a long time.

I always had WAY more walnuts than I could have used in a lifetime.  I don’t have any left, but I’ve probably had all the walnuts I can stomach for a lifetime anyway.  I do miss having them in my back yard, though.

Featured Blog

Today’s featured blog is new to me, Algarve Blog.  I was first attracted to the beautiful header, but I read further.  Algarve posts about Portuguese culture, among other things.  This interests me since one of my good friends is Portuguese, and I learned a little about Christmas traditions in Portugal.  You will find a wonderful article about Santas when you read about the Food Bank project.  These Santas are athletic.  I think you will enjoy this beautiful and informative site.

santa-walk001Will the real Santa please stand up?  What are some of your Christmas traditions?

The End of Fall

Tulare County, approximately the size of Connecticut,  has two climates.  One is mountainous – the Sierra Nevada, home of the Sequoia National Park.  The other, home of over 400,000 cows, is a temperate, farming-friendly valley.  Four days ago as I drove towards the largest town, Visalia, I passed two grape vineyards, one with yellow leaves, and one with bright red.  The sun was just breaking through the clouds.  It had rained the day before, and everything sparkled like animated ornaments on a Christmas tree.  No camera!  The cardinal sin of an amateur photographer.

Two days ago, after a minor rain shower, I took my camera and drove that road again, at the same time, hoping to recapture what I had missed.  You can be the judge of that.  Actually I’m just being polite – you can’t because you didn’t see the first sun-sprayed scene.  I’m going to pawn these photos off on you hoping that you will PRESUME that they are as lovely as the first ones would have been if I hadn’t sinned.

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My favorite – a stand-alone beauty.

This is my heart to y’all.  If you see it from a distance, it sort of has that hearty look.  The rest of these may all be too similar for you, but i just couldn’t leave any of them out.  You know how they talk to you, and say, “Please don’t delete me.  Pllllleeeeaaassseeeeee!”

SFW TC Fall Grapes & Walnuts085 SFW TC Fall Grapes & Walnuts086 SFW TC Fall Grapes & Walnuts087 SFW TC Fall Grapes & Walnuts090 SFW TC Fall Grapes & Walnuts091 SFW TC Fall Grapes & Walnuts093 SFW TC Fall Grapes & Walnuts094 SFW TC Fall Grapes & Walnuts088 SFW TC Fall Grapes & Walnuts096 SFW TC Fall Grapes & Walnuts098 SFW TC Fall Grapes & Walnuts099I loved their colors, and the shadows, but I was convinced not to take any home to use for the fancy grape leaf dishes.

By the way, I started a public Facebook page yesterday.  I need 30 likes to make it go.  I have 27 likes so far.  Just 3 more.  What could I give as a prize for number 30?  hmmmmm

Ah ha – a gold star and a home cooked meal, without grape leaves, next time you come to CA!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

To all my blog readers!!!
To all my blog readers!!!

As I reflect on my blogging experiment this first day of December, I realize that it has gone from experiment to addictive hobby.  I am thankful to all of you for taking the time to visit my streaming thoughts started in April, 2012.  While not breaking any records, this blog has attracted over 11,000 views, and 2,000 comments.  I was awfully lonely the first couple of months, but on November 29th the site reached a high of 196 views.  THANK YOU!!!

Reflections on December 1st.
Reflections on December 1st.

Back to the topic as I’m sure it was intended, I have almost no reflection pictures in my collection.  I came across this picture that a friend of mine took for me.  She is much more of a professional photographer than I, and I absolutely love Johanna Coyne’s picture of the little lagoon in Mooney Grove Park south of Visalia, CA, and north of Tulare, CA on Mooney Boulevard.1102_Mooney_1285

Early Tulare County settler and saloon owner, Michael Mooney, like most European immigrants worked hard to acquire property in the United States.  Mooney speculated in thousands of acres, and sold many of them at a profit.  However this plot of land didn’t earn Mooney a dime, and it protected the largest native oak grove in the county.  He purchased a 173 acre oak grove from another settler, Benjamin Willis in 1878 for $4,000.  After Mooney’s death in 1881, his heirs sold 100 acres to Tulare County in 1909, thus saving the huge grove of native trees for the people.

Tulare County Supervisor, Bartlett “suggested in 1915 that the park should have a lake.” (Allen. p. 41), although it was not until May of 1933 that the lagoon officially opened.  Stocked with fish to ward off mosquitos, the pond, with its “No Fishing” sign, tempted young poacher Stanley A. Clark, who brought home more than the bacon to his widowed mother and siblings during the World War II when meat was scarce in the market.

Through the years Tulare County residents swam, boated and were baptized in the reflective pond in Mooney Grove Park.  Today the only swimmers are quacks – I mean ducks.  At times photographers would have to Photoshop a reflective picture of this body of water because “goopy algae” scum covers  much of the surface.  Vast numbers of summer visitors feed the ducks, dropping food that decays in the water and feeds the scum.  In the fall, when the weather is cooler photographers can capture pictures of clean water.

Anybody for a picnic in the park?

Bibliography

  • Allen William R.  Mooney’s Oak Grove 1828-1881 Volume I
  • Allen William R.  Michael Mooney 1906-2003 Volume II

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What’s Happening …In The Foothills

I NEED your opinions!!!

I am so excited.  When I voted on Tuesday I ran into my friends, Sally and Alice who used to work with me when I was teaching.  I love voting.  As we chatted afterwards, and Sally asked me if I wanted to contribute a spring photograph for the cover of the magazine published by Kiwanis Club.  You  all know I said YES!

So now the problem comes of WHICH photograph of the tri-town area do we choose out of hundreds of photographs?  This morning I thought of all you, my unbiased friends that don’t know the area, and some that do.  I’m going to pick some that I like, and let you choose which picture might pop as a magazine cover.  AND if you have other ideas, I might have a picture that goes with it.  SO LEND ME YOUR OPINIONS, PLEASE.  OK, just give the to me.  I won’t give them back.

Foothill Flowers#1

Wild flowers?

Wildflowers #2

Wild flowers with a boy?

Baby Animals #1

Animals?

Spring Creek#1

A stream which is dry all year except spring?

Cherry blossoms #1

Blossoms?

Foothill Agriculture in the Spring

Agriculture in the foothills.  The foothill area is a huge citrus area.

I have tons more pictures, but my computer is not loading very well this morning.  So please help me out, and tell me which of these you think might make a good magazine cover.

Thanks!!!

Packing Table Grapes

My friend’s son went off to college in Louisiana.  His sophomore English teacher asked the class what product comes from sheep.“Cotton?” his fellow student answered.   At least he didn’t answer grapes.

I don’t excuse the teacher for asking such a kindergarten question, but the answer clearly indicates that there is a vast divide between the American public and the agricultural productes they consume.Even for those of us who live in the heart of agribusiness most of the time when we drive past fields of crops all we see are crops.  Fruit, nuts, cotton, corn and others quietly, stealthily growing.   No people.Yesterday as my friend Connie and I drove back to her home from our lunch at Orange Works, we passed a grape field teaming with activity.  Cars lined both sides of the streets parallel parked neatly in the dirt.  I had to stop the car and see if these folks would let me take pictures of them working.They were all so gracious.  They kept working as they smiled at me.  I didn’t want to disturb them for long, or to ask many questions, but I thought you might enjoy seeing them at their task of insuring that you have grapes to purchase at the store.  The weather was perfect at just past 1:00, the temperature was still in the 80s, maybe creeping up to the low 90s, but bearable.  The dusty air was still, and the workers chatted quietly or did not talk at all as they weighed out the three bunches of grapes to fill each plastic sack.  They did not seem hurried or frantic as they packed the sacks of fruit into boxes, carefully arranging them so that the sweet, plump, green orbs were as comfortable lying in their new bed as my puppy is in her bed on the bed.Connie, who grew up here in the Central Valley, told me that the rows of grape plants had white plastic over them to keep the grapes from blistering in the hot sun, and to keep birds from beating humans to the sweet treat.

I remembered way back to when my family had just moved west to Oregon.  It was August, 1967, and on the 30th of that month, the grape harvesters in Delano had just won a great victory.  They were allowed to have a union represent them.  They started to strike.  As we entered the grocery store in Portland, Oregon, a mass of people clustered around the entrance to Safeway pressing fliers into our hands and entreating with us not to buy grapes or uvas, as they called them.  As a rebellious teenager, I didn’t want to be told not to do anything.  I probably asked my mom for grapes even though I could take them or leave them – I preferred a 100% diet of chocolate ice cream, and weighed slightly over 100 pounds then, so felt justified in eating chocolate over grapes any day.  I don’t remember what we did, I just remember being indignant at being accosted by strikers, and thinking how different shopping was in the West compared to shopping in Indianapolis.  Little did I know at the time what a huge impact that strike had nationally.

The origin of that great strike was in Delano, California just 7 miles south of the Tulare County border.  If the strike made an impact nationally, it certainly made one in this county.

At our California Council for the Social Studies CCSS Conference in March 2013 we will honor the 50 year anniversary of the Birmingham marches for civil rights.  At the same time we will honor the reflection of those times in our own area – the marches and strikes for minimum wages and safer working conditions for agricultural workers.

So the next time you pop a healthy grape into your mouth instead of a spoonful of chocolate sundae, I hope you will consider the kind workers helped bring that table grape to you.  AND to any city slickers like my former self, PLEASE DON’T EVER TELL any professor that grapes – or cotton –  come from SHEEP!