Thursday, January 31, 2013

Happy Groundhog Day!

Shadow my butt! 
I'm barely a shadow of my former self!
I'll show you fluffy!
Wise guy!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Rows of tents glow pleasantly, flickering with myriad lamps. OBIE’S QUEST

You’d barely recognize ol’ Hangtown. One by one the old hitching posts are vanishing along Main Street, and just the other day I drove from upper town through lower town and never once saw hide nor hair of a horse! Placerville’s old landmarks are fast disappearing, and palatial cinderblock atrocities rise up like the phoenix from their ash.  Progress beckons like a siren in the night, and ol’ Hangtown answers spellbound to the call.  The boon of electricity has illuminated our little metropolis, and steeds & buggies are fast replaced by Fords. Despite the growth and conveniences, I prefer to recall her as she appeared in the undignified days of her misspent youth, back in ’49.  In my mind’s eye, she still exudes the uncivil scent of sawdust floors and canvas; the rustic, rough sawn facades glow hospitably in the crimson shades of long spent sunsets, and rows of tents glow pleasantly, flickering with myriad lamps. OBIE’S QUEST

Monday, January 28, 2013

And die with the wild Sierras in my eyes

Asa Camp was long and lean.
He knew ambitions’ burn.
My granddad said he wasn’t mean,
But his countenance was severe, his manner stern.  

He headed west in ’49,
His goal, the mother lode,
And though great fortune wouldn’t shine,
He bowed his neck and held fast to his road.

The trail to Hangtown took a toll,
Leaving many defeated and numb,
But Asa’s shoulders let it roll.
Old Asa would prevail and not succumb.

He panned along the south fork,
On the American’s rugged banks,
Till his bones grew stiff from overwork,
But he finished each day with thanks.

Despite long hours and frugal means,
He sought success in vain.
Surviving on sourdough and beans,
And whistling as he smiled through the pain.

Undeterred, he took up freighting,
And hauled among the camps,
Through summers’ devastating heat,
And winters’ dews and damps.

Freighting through the choking dust,
And through the deepest mud,
Till Asa won the mountain’s trust,
And the High Sierras coursed within his blood.

The mountains were his challenge.
The mountains were his prize.
The mountains were his confidant,
And the wild Sierras shone from Asa’s eyes.

At last old Asa took a wife,
And settled on Reservoir Hill,
Where he raised a family free from strife,
And ruled by an iron will.

His daughters wed, and birthed a brood,
To populate the West,
But Asa cherished solitude,
And spent his days in the mountains he loved best.

Asa was Granddad’s granddad,
And my hope, as you may surmise,
Is to live my life as Asa lived,
And die with the wild Sierras in my eyes.
January 28, 2013


Gone the days when summer sun
Seemed golden benediction,
Those glorious rays had best been shunned;
Their benefits, but fiction.

The blissful burns received with joy,
Brushed off as merely blisters,
Thought empty threats as girls and boys,
Today breed moles and fissures.

Gone the carefree summer days,
When youth would find a way,
Spent surely as the summer haze,
And where is hope today?

Bright futures sought with confidence,
Bold dreams that we’d fulfill,
Once boasted of in innocence,
Now mute and deathly still.

Reflect we now in solitude,
Where once in crowds we’d tarry,
Repentant now in somber mood,
Where once our days were merry.

Grant now these hours not linger long,
Our goal today, sweet peace.
And mercy all we count upon,
Our hope today, release.

We did lots of camping when I was a kid.
We camped in an old canvas tent.
I remember the sound as it flapped in the wind.
I remember its feel and its scent.

I remember the sound of warm rain on its roof,
And the comfort it offered each night.
I recall how I felt looking out at the stars
By the campfires flickering light;

The feel of my pillow at the end of the day,
When my shoulders were pink from the sun,
My grandmothers’ kiss as she tucked us in bed,
After our prayers were done.

First thing in the morning the fire was lit.
Great Grandma brought graniteware dishes.
Golden brown hotcakes for breakfast of course,
And for super fried tatters and fishes.

Each day we’d go swimming and play in the sand.
My granddad would take us out hiking.
Sis and I watched as he whittled a cane.
And Stick horses were just to our liking.

We’d sit by the fire in the late afternoon.
I’d sit in my grandmothers’ lap.
Dad would go fishing, my momma would read,
And Granddad enjoyed a good nap.

Later on in the evening, when dinner was done,
There was coffee from a graniteware pot,
Delicious marshmallows we roasted on sticks,
And dried figs that my great grandma brought.

I remember the feel of hot sand on bare feet,
And melon seeds stuck to my chin,
The stories of camping trips long, long ago,
And the way that my granddad would grin.

How the decades fast have flown.
How quickly reached, September.
How sweet to share the joys we’ve known.
How precious to remember.

How bright the wide and starry skies;
How fleeting, lives long spent.
The stars, how like my granddad’s eyes,
And memories, Granddad’s tent.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A long and wondrous adventure

I remember sitting by a crackling fire, high in the Sierra Nevada’s, and listening to the ill-tempered Jerseys filing past, with their cowbells clanking and their babies bawling, and the old bull curling his lip and looking for work. I remember standing on the rough plank sidewalk, outside the Ivy House, inhaling the aroma of grilled ribs sizzling, over Manzanita coals, and watching the massive freight wagons lumber by, with their oxen lowing, their hames bells jingling, and the iron-clad rims of hickory spoked wheels smashing the gravel to dust, beneath their cumbersome tonnage of crocks of butter and barrels of fragrant cheese. I remember believing that my whole life would be a long and wondrous adventure.  And it was.  OBIE”S QUEST

Saturday, January 26, 2013

QUOTATIONS (THE LEVER) Thomas Paine 1737-1809 “The rights of Man” 1792,

Quote: What Archimedes said of the mechanical powers, may be applied to Reason and Liberty: “Had we” said he, “a place to stand upon, we might raise the world.”  The revolution of America presented in politics what was only theory in mechanics. End quote.
Unenlightened people blame government, but Mr. Paine’s observation is as true today as ever, possibly more so.  Our electorate is our lever, and our elected officials our fulcrum, were we, as a people, able to apply our pressure simultaneously, from a position of solidarity and with a common goal and purpose, there is no force on earth that could stand against us.  SC 

There’s nothing quite as humbling as unwarranted notoriety, and there’s no other feeling I know of quite so grand!

There’s nothing quite as humbling as unwarranted notoriety, and there’s no other feeling I know of quite so grand!  The older we got the more cherished we became!  Every time Hangtown had a parade, they insisted we forty-niners lead it off.  It didn’t make no difference that we never panned out nothin’!  Just being a forty-niner was enough.  All you boys are simply wasting your time, struggling to be doctors and lawyers, just sport a big beard and a red flannel shirt, and in Hangtown you’ll go far!  OBIE’S QUEST

Friday, January 25, 2013


Back in the late ‘50s, I was in elementary school.  Our bus stop was at the intersection of Meadow Lane and Mosquito road, our bus was old number 3, and our bus driver was Mr. Vanalstien.  On the south side of the intersection was a home with a brick and daffodil lined circle drive.  It was a tight circle, and the arriving school bus generally careened around it at a pretty good clip.  We children awaited the bus under a large, spreading oak, and at the base of the oak was our bench.  I’d built the very basic bench myself by sawing two six inch cuts off an eight foot long 1” by 12”, and nailing them to the remaining board about one foot from each end.  In doing so I’d created, quite unintentionally, a state of the art catapult.  On the morning in question, half a dozen of our neighborhood gang were milling around innocently in expectation of the arrival of old #3, which was running uncharacteristically late.  My lunch bag, containing a banana, a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, and some graham crackers, was placed on the far end of the bench for easy retrieval upon the bus’s arrival.  At the sudden sound of squalling tires in the gravel, we kids scrambled to collect our gear and form a line.  Unbeknownst to us, Mr. Vanalstein was ill, and our driver today was a substitute and entirely unfamiliar with our route.  Approaching our circle drive wide and hot, the bus’s front tire unexpectedly clipped the edge of our bench.  My lunch was launched like a rocket, scattering and sifting its contents as its orbit took it up through the oak canopy and well into the hemisphere, before it descended amid the squeals of delighted children, in the form of an aromatic shower of graham cracker crumbs, peanut butter clumps, and a fine spray of grape jelly and banana cream.  The large, flat surface of the 1” by 12” proceeded to smack the side of the bus, at mach speed and with incredible force, resulting in a resounding clap of thunder, much like a full-fledged sonic boom, and ringing the entire school bus like a bell!  As the horrorstricken driver hesitantly opened the door, his eyes were wide as fruit jar lids and I’m confident he’d soiled himself.  The vast majority of the bus’s occupants burst simultaneously into a mixed chorus of inconsolable sobbing and hysterical and convulsive laughter, which continued fitfully until we arrived some fifteen minutes later at our school.  And I’m quite confident that many of those children remember and celebrate that event to this very day, and that others are on the mend and receiving counseling. SC

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Only a collection of pixels


If you’re exceedingly blessed, you transition through the years, from having a granddad, to being a granddad. It’s a bittersweet blessing, partly because at points along the way you lose your own dad and granddad, and partly because you eventually face the fact that filling their shoes is way more challenging than you’d expected.  But we count our blessings and do the best we can, in the hope that our own efforts are sufficiently successful that one day our grandson will have fond memories of us, when the years have slipped away like the golden leaves of autumn, and we’re only a collection of pixels.  SC   

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

If your actions don’t show compassion and mercy, you’re not serving Christ.

Brother Billy used to stand before the congregation of our little country church and say, “Now I’m going to talk to you like I love you.” That’s what I intend to do now.  I am no theologian, and anyone who knows me can tell you I’m far from perfect, but I can tell you this; if you honestly believe that your hatred and contempt for any person, or any group of persons is somehow a service to Christ, you don’t actually know Christ. And if your actions don’t show compassion and mercy, you’re not serving Christ.  SC

Pity Rather Than Petulance

The eclectic, dynamic, philosophical populace which comprises the vast middle and virtual heart of this incomparable republic knows well where we’ve been, appreciates where we’re at, and anticipates with great hope where we are going.  It’s sad that some won’t follow, but it’s time to let them go, and strive onward ever onward toward our goal. Our goal, much like that of our nation’s founding fathers, is quite simple: a more perfect union, and the greatest degree of liberty achievable within a framework of just laws, assistance for those who require assistance, and fundamental environmental safeguards. Despite their obstructionism, those who oppose our goals must be held blameless. Some are led by their better angels to rise above their ignorance and base, primordial natures and strive for high ideals, while others, by their natures, are unable. It’s not their fault, and we must feel pity rather than petulance for them, but we must under no circumstances allow them to hinder us from our cause or rob us of our joy in its pursuit.  SC 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Genesis 8:21 “And the Lord smelled a sweet savour.”

Inauguration Day
January 21st, 2013

Jesus has a table spread where the saints of God are fed,
He invites His chosen people, “Come and dine”;
With His manna He doth feed, and supplies there every need:
Oh tis sweet to sup with Jesus all the time.
“Come and dine,” the Master calleth, “Come and dine”;
You may feast at Jesus’ table all the time;
He who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine,
To the hungry calleth now, “Come and dine.”
Charles B. Widmeyer, 1907

The old tale of the stone soup seems strangely appropriate for today.  As our story begins there are hungry times in the land, as an amiable, enterprising and remarkably optimistic young man carefully prepares a small fire, places a pot of water to simmer and, after a small crowd has assembled, selects a nice, smooth stone from the river bank, places it in the pot and, smiling patiently, waits.  Soon a curious onlooker licks his lips and anxiously requests a taste, a request immediately granted when the onlooker agrees to a small contribution, something reasonable and within his means, a gesture of good faith.
Then, one after another, others succumb to their curiosity, joining in the procession as the sumptuous fare slowly collects ingredients. There are potatoes from Ireland, Fine wines from Spain, spices from Italy and the Far East, delicious produce from coast to coast, and contributors with contributions from each and every culture around the world.  Some contribute much, others little and some provide only their appetite and goodwill, but it’s unthinkable now that any should go away hungry. America’s melting pot is much like this today. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”, the invitation shines likes Liberty’s torch itself. And, as with membership in any grand and glorious enterprise with unparalleled benefits, there are dues to be paid. The fire is hot, the soup on simmer, appetites piqued and the table finely spread. The feast awaits and a fabulous future beckons.  Don’t be left out.  SC

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Tin Toad Caper

Okay, so it was a little after dark as I stepped outside on the deck and noticed that our solar night light wasn't working.  The night light is in a decorative tin toad about the size of a one gallon milk jug.  I picked up the toad, and about 60 feet away our Corolla blinked its headlights.  Odd!  Our dog stared at the car and barked and I sat the toad down and stood contemplating this clearly unrelated series of events. All was quiet. Believing a test was in order, I bent down, lifted the toad, and sure enough, the Corolla flashed its lights. So now it’s getting a little freaky!  I tried it again, same results!  I stepped hurriedly to the front door and asked my wife to come out and witness this bizarre phenomenon.  Watch this. I bent down, lifted the little toad and, sure enough, the lights dutifully flashed and then went out.  The dog barked and backed away, Robin and I stared at each other in disbelief, and the hair on the back of my neck began to bristle. “Okay,” she said, “You’re freaking me out.  How’d ya do that?” We were preparing to go back in the house and lock the door when, despite my better judgment, I decided to try it one last time.  This time, as I bent down the headlights began flashing, the horn began sounding frantically, Robin made a hasty retreat to the kitchen, the poor dog went into fits and spasms, and I realized that each time I’d bent down to get the toad, my pocket change had triggered the panic button on the key-chain in my pocket.  I knew it all along.   SC

Just kidding

It's only soap suds
& ol' Chevys.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Picture squatting inside a barrel as it’s assaulted by a battalion of chainsaws and weedeaters

About a week ago, I drove the ’41 Chevy into town for an extended stay at my son’s shop.  It’s a 9 mile trip, and it was the first time in a long while that we’d left the relative quiet of our rural community and its gravel roads, and ventured out onto the pavement. 30 miles per hour is about top cruising speed out at Dry Creek, and the 40 MPH we achieved enroot to town seemed exhilarating if not downright foolhardy. We’d made it almost to town when the ol’ gal shredded her fan belt and began flogging the fire out of her engine compartment. Picture squatting inside a barrel as it’s assaulted by a battalion of chainsaws and weedeaters. About that time Jared, who was following me, phoned to say I was leaving a nasty debris trail and alarming amounts of billowing smoke and scorched rubber. Had common sense prevailed, I’d have stopped and investigated at that point, but the engine was still running hot, as was I, and we were within about 5 minutes of the shop, so I decided to run ‘er till she blows. The truck arrived at the shop with no further difficulties, beyond achieving a spirited boil and purging the contents of her radiator. Reaching our destination, the old pickup was still chattering away serenely and purring like a kitten.  I on the other hand, was seized up with vapor lock and very near expiration.  SC

Living comfortably within ones means is only common sense. Doing so when you haven’t any takes initiative. SC