Jul 27, 2014


We live in a small area called Spring Cove tucked right into this, erm... little cove up against the mountain.

MY mountain.

I love looking out of my office or sewing room windows to watch the changing beauty of this long ridge. So you can imagine my distress when I got up to close the windows and saw this!

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I'd smelled smoke in the night but wrote it off as lingering from Friday afternoon's lightening fire up on the mountain just north of Maple Mountain (that is behind our house) that was put out very quickly with water dropping helicopters.

Apparently teenagers playing with fireworks, in an unauthorized area, started this blaze just one street west from us at about 2 am. Fortunately, they were smart enough to call 911 when they realized what they'd done! (Poor stupid kids! I'd ask them what they were thinking, but obviously... THEY WEREN'T!) Folks who live up on the mountain-proper got a wake up knock at about 4 am telling them to be ready to evacuate.

I can't say enough about all of the many people who sped into action to save the many homes that are located on the foot of this mountain! There was a perfectly choreographed team of workers who got this fire under control.

This big orange dragonfly-looking helicopter was my favorite!

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They set up a staging area just down at the high school for all of the responding agencies. They had a portable pool, about the same size as an above-ground pool, where the helicopters would hover and refill their water tanks.

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When this fellow opened his *bombardier doors* a huge waterfall would plummet to the ground, dousing the fire. It frequently looked like water shot out of a cannon.

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Then there was this dashing little fellow! He was much more methodical. He would circle around and hover over the hot spot then let go. I observed that he had the ability to release all or part of the load.

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As soon as the water was dropped he was right back into high gear and speeding away for another fill-up. I didn't realize until I looked at the photos on my computer that he had this cool paint job on his 'copter! I love how he flies so fast that his paint is dripping!

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Many of the neighbors brought out their lawn chairs to a shady spot to watch the show. One group even had a pizza party! Finally this little guy joined the fray.

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He had the same kind of upside-down-badminton-birdie shaped bucket.

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This pano from my sitting spot belies the size and scope of MY mountain and the fire. Each of the peaks has a small ridge with a canyon on the other side. The fire burned up the draw to the left of the middle peak and around the back of the mountain. You can see the red line of fire retardant that was dropped while I was driving (hence, no photos!) It was so interesting. I watched the duo of tiny spotter plane and huge tanker making repeated drops. The spotter plane would fly first and drop a marker (of water?) that the tanker would use as his drop area.

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I just heard on the local news that the fire has burned to 145 acres and is 15% contained. This call was a little too close for comfort.

Thank you again to all of the people, in the air and on the ground, who responded to this fire.

Jul 6, 2014

Somebody's Got a Screw Loose!

OMSH! I think that is me!!

Yesterday I wanted another ceiling fan, this time in the master bedroom. I just like how they move the air around on hot days. Somehow it makes 78* a little more tolerable.

Since I had previous experience last year, I knew that I could easily install this one. But is seems that I'm a little challenged when it comes to the screw part! (Sheesh!) Last year a posted this-
Okay true story… I was installing a ceiling fan today when I lost one of the mounting screws. I looked everywhere for it. Finally I had to go down to Sunroc and buy two screws that would work. I just took off my bra...tink, tink, tink... guess what I found? (7.29.13)

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Because of that experience I wanted to be oh-so-careful, but somehow my Grammie-hands just can't handle the job like they used to. I needed to move the bed out of the center of the room so I could install the fan, of course that exposes all of that wonderful, long pile, brand-new, never-been-walked-on carpet that we installed several years ago.

I was very methodical, but, yup, still dropped a few screws, but they were all big and easy to find. Finally I get the screws that hold the cover over the lighting fixture and dropped not one, but two of the three screws! Great coogily-moogily! I glanced around hoping for an easy find, but these weren't normal sized screws they were teeny- not even a 1/4" long! (Are you kidding me?)

So I-
  • Got out my high-powered flashlight. Ha! I found one!
  • Used the strong magnet on the flashlight... no luck.
  • Remembered reading that a way to find small things is to put a nylon stocking over the end of the vacuum hose. Yeah, not so much... I loosened my grip slightly on the stocking and the vacuum ate the stocking!
  • Laid down on the carpet to get the horizontal view- erm, no.
  • Tried each of the above several times. All to no avail.
  • FINALLY, I started vacuuming very slowly and as soon as I heard a click on the beater bar, stopped and found the teeny screw.
I suppose that *All's well that ends well* but sometimes I like to have just a little less drama with my DIY projects.

Blueberry Cheesecake

I think Camille's friend, Jamie, says it best about this luscious dessert!

"Oh my stars 'n stripes... that looks amazing!"

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I found this a year or so ago on Pinterest and it is a definite Pinterest WIN! I've made it for the last two 4th of July celebrations here at mine house!

I've had several requests for the recipe, so I will share it here. Mind, this isn't my recipe- I got it from a Polish blog! I've added some notations in the recipe if you don't cook metric or don't have a scale.

Blueberry Cheesecake


100g (1cup) crushed whole wheat cookies (store bought or home-made) (I used graham cracker crumbs)
1 / 2 cup oatmeal
3 tablespoons of brown sugar
pinch of salt*
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (*I just use salted butter and omit the salt)
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling:
40g powdered gelatin - 3 pkgs (I found this is the best amount even though it isn't 40g)
1/4 cup water
400g cream cheese, softened (the better part of 2- 8 oz pkgs. About 14 oz)
250ml heavy cream 30% (a generous cup)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 cups blueberries, washed and drained

For the topping:
250ml heavy cream 30% (a generous cup)
3 teaspoons of vanilla sugar (I used 2 tbs of super fine sugar and 1 tsp vanilla)
1 cup blueberries, washed and drained

1. Place oatmeal and crushed cookies (or graham cracker crumbs) together in a food processor. Pulse to grind up the oatmeal. Add melted butter and vanilla. Press into the base of a 20cm
round x 9cm (8”x 3”) spring form pan and bake at 350°F (180°C) for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely at room temperature. (Or be like me and stick it in the freezer!)

2. In a small saucepan soak the gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water (for about 10 minutes), and then put on a
    heat and warm up stirring until dissolved. (Do this in saucepan, not microwave! yikes what a mess!)
3. Mix together cream cheese and sugar in a mixing bowl with beaters. Slowly add heavy cream, and
    mix well. Add vanilla and lemon juice.
4. Purée blueberries in a food processor and mix with cream cheese mixture.
5. With mixer on low slowly add the warm gelatin, after ingredients are combined let it stand for a
    few minutes until it start thickens.
6. Pour evenly into the chilled base, smooth the surface and refrigerate for about 4-5 hours,
    but best to leave overnight. (or do the freezer thing again)
7. Before you unlock the spring form pan, run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen.

8. Whip the heavy cream with vanilla sugar. Cover top of the blueberry cheesecake with whipped
    cream and blueberries.


(this recipe comes from this Polish blog!)

Jul 1, 2014

Sometimes You Just Have To Laugh...

Today I went to Desi's house to get a perm. (For those of you who may not know, Desi and Camille have been best friends since kindergarten and she is like a second daughter). Her little kids were going to go right across the street and ride their bikes in the parking lot at the school (which they call the park).

It brought to mind a story about my Tony. When he was just about the same age as Emmalie we lived just kitty-corner to the park and he used to love to ride his new bike there. I told them that I was watching out the window when I saw Tony crash his bike into one of the logs that were at the park's perimeter. I saw him get up and he started jumping up and down and crying (but I could'nt hear him, I could only see him). When I met him halfway he was bleeding badly from a cut on his head. (Poor little guy! You know how head wounds bleed)

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Emmalie was sitting at the counter eating a donut I'd brought and chimed in, "Did he die?"

I thought about it for about 2 seconds and answered, "Yes, but not from that!" And then laughed. Desi catching the sick joke, joined in. Finally Emmalie wanted to know what was so funny. So explained to her that he'd died from a drowning accident 2 years later.

There may be those who will judge me harshly on this one. I'm just grateful that, for once, the *dead* question didn't feel like such a punch in the gut. (But I cried as I wrote all of this!)

Jun 20, 2014

Sweet Linden Trees

As I sit here this evening blogging from my deck I am enveloped with the aroma of my back-door neighbor's linden trees. Every June they burst forth in a heady, sweet fragrance that is sometime so thick it is almost overpowering!

I'm sure that I've seen them in bloom before but I couldn't remember what they looked like so I asked if I could come capture their likeness. Certainly to pour forth a scent that is best described as being similar to plumeria or freesia the blossoms must be large, similar to east coast dogwood or camellias.

But, no, they are just these little fuzzy blossoms.

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And what did I spy on my way to get this photo? A precious white butterfly making the rounds on my lavender. He and the honey bees were taking it in turn to sup at the spikes.

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Jun 19, 2014

"It All Started in Yosemite- 1912"

I love family history- most specifically, family stories. I grew up in a family rich with stories. So telling this one makes me very happy. I've known it for quite a while but I just pulled it out and dusted it off to use as part of Primary Sharing time last Sunday.

My Mom, Elsie Munce Caraway must have asked her father William Munce to write her the story of when/how she was born. The following is the letter she received from my Granddad. (his original punctuation and spelling have been preserved)

January 21, 1960

Hello Kido:
Well you have sure landed me a dilly of an assignment, requesting at this late date the mode, and method, of your arrival at 2010 East 16th St St in Oakland, Calif. on April 15, 1913

I'll have to go back to 1912 to get this tale off to the right start.

Our neighbors, named Garner, wife and daughter, talked up a trip to Yosemite Valley; said trip to be made in a covered wagon and a team of horses."

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"Dad supplied the transportation and we russeled up the grub; so bright and early one July morning we hit the trail, and enjoyed every hour of the four days it took to reach Inspiration Point where we got our first glimpse of the wonders of Nature."

William and Elsie Munce at Yosemite 1912 photo 19-WilliamandElsieMunceatYosemite1912_zps40c28422.jpg
"We made camp under the Royal Arch, and for about ten days we ______ we were leg weary;"

William and Elsie Munce on mules at Yosemite 1912 photo 19-WilliamandElsieMunceonmulesatYosemite1912_zps2ced2256.jpg
"and then went over to North Fork where Mrs Garner had a mother and brother on a rundown ranch close to a small Indian village where we stayed about a week and then took the trail back to'ard home by round about roads arriving safely having spent about 25 days of dust and ashes with board and lodgings in the open."

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"Time marched on; and on one occasion I see Mother making baby clothes and asked her how come? She said I had planted seed under the Royal Arch and that she was going to make a daddy out of me, which she did, for she wanted her baby born in Oakland so here we are back where we started from.

When my Mother heard the news she was real tickled and told your Mother-to-be that she had been with each of her daughters when their baby came, so she would stand by.

On the 15th day of April old Dr Beckwith was on the job with all his equipment and you took your own sweet time coming out to see what kind of company you were forced to keep. You were a red, rosy, package, and I can still hear my Mother singing, crying and praying as she was giving you your first bath. She never got through telling folks of her new granddaughter's big blue eyes and ready grin; she was the proudest Granny in town and was happiest when she had you in her arms and sang to you some of the old time Scotch lullabyes."

Jessie Rae Munce holding her granddaughter Elsie Louise Munce circa 1914 photo 19-JessieRaeMunceandElsieLouiseMuncecirca1914_zps098bbb13.jpg

"Hope this is what you wanted; but if it isn't sing out and I'll try again.


They had several other happy Yosemite vacations but no Munce-Yosemite-vacation story is complete without adding this last photo! My Granddad was a big man, over 6' tall; surely he knew the dangers of hand-feeding the bears! (Run away, run, run away!) But here he is... feeding the bears with his "machine" in the background.

William Munce hand feeding black bears at Yosemite 1930 photo19-WilliamMuncehandfeedingblackbearsatYosemite1930_zpsa2cd0ba2.jpg

Jun 17, 2014

Grammie & her Boys

Tadhg graduated from Minarets high school on June 5th so Grammie needed to make a trip down to CA for the occasion. I just can't believe that it's been 17 years and 8 months since that boy was born. Where has the time gone?

I was so pleased when it came to picture time and Tadhg just wrapped his arms around his little Grammie! I am so glad that my boys know how much I love them!

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I needed another picture with them after church on Sunday. They are such good sports.

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And even though I'd just gotten a pix in February I was surprised to see how much they've grown in that short amount of time. I purposely didn't zoom in on us so that I can remember the wonderful landscape around the Oakhurst Chapel. In the February pix we are in front of a ginormous rockadon; in June an equally ginormous oak.

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Bek commented that she didn't have any recent pix of her boys or family so I decided that it was time for a Grammie remedy! This ones good enough for framing.

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Seeing Rebekah with her *men* just made me want this classic bride and her brothers photo. When Bek married almost 22 years ago her brothers were all too small (Spencer was 8 and Stuart 5) to pull this off. I love the looks on the faces and the positioning of Curt's tie!

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Next morning it was time for me to start making tracks back home. I came out to my car and it was covered with pine needles. It had only been parked there for a few days.

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Funny story, Beatrix still had pine needles in her bonnet when I sold her... I suppose Elio will too.

Jun 13, 2014


One of the best things in my life is being a Grammie! I was talking to Gordon the other day and mentioned how much I enjoyed being a mom... that, without a doubt, was my favorite! I loved (love) being a mom. But we all know that being a mom (and not JUST a mom) requires work, work and more work to go along with the joy. That is not a complaint... just a statement of fact.

Ahhhh, but being a Grammie? Yup, that is heaven. It is the extra blessing! I like to say, "I am no longer the Mommie-enforcer, I am the Grammie-spoiler!" And can I just say that I am loving this phase of my life!

I got to see two of my little darlings (that live much too far away). Oh, how I love these babies! My sweet Deborah took some sneaky pictures of me with Baby Belle.

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This little girl is so squishable! I could just nuzzle and kiss those cheeks all the day!

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And Riley... I wanted to say *little-Riley* but this big boy is 7 now! Where does the time go? We had a fun dip in the pool together. I tried to teach him the steamboat kick that I learned so many years ago but he was more interested in playing with the other kids in the pool!

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(Parenthetically, I'm often reminded that Riley and I have the same age difference, 55 years, as my DADDY and I have. And I am reminded that I am grateful that I am in the grammie, not the mommie, roll!)

Jun 9, 2014

Freeway Bushes

For as long as I can remember we've called oleander freeway bushes. They are prominent in the median strip all up and down California's Central Valley. When Bekah moved to Fresno in 1998 I became intimately acquainted with the miles and miles of oleander median. It was comment to drive past oleanders as big as a house, and I'm not exaggerating!

Sometime about 10-12 years ago CalTrans decided they needed to add a center guardrail which meant they buzzed off all of the bushes at ground height. I was just sick!

So this trip, when I saw that some of the large white ones were as tall as semis I felt happy again! All is well in the freeway bush department. 

Jun 3, 2014

In Her Mama's Chair

Miss Fiona came to spend the afternoon at Grammie's house while Mommie did her last day of school training before summer (YAY!) and Daddy took the *bigs* back home. After a nap on Grammie's big bed, with Grammie, it was time for some lunch.

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One of the first things she did when I put her in the highchair was hook her little toes under the edge of the stainless steel tray.

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That is when the memories started rolling in. It seems like only yesterday that this sturdy little highchair was Mama's meal-time seat.

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This happy little highchair has been host to several generations of children. It joined our family almost 48 years ago when my sister, Sue, got it for her first baby, Cindy. After two more babies at her house Sue gave it to me for Spencer. He used it until I got a second highchair in preparation for twins. It even took a trip to Rebekah's house for several years (where it got recovered with white vinyl) before it came back to me.

Now it gets occasional use from visiting grandbabies.

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Happy little friend!