Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas 2007

Camp Connell, CA.-- The view from our kitchen window is not unusual at this time of year.
For our friends in the South, we call those shiny things icicles, and yes, one is hanging from a bird feeder.
Actually the temperature soared today, up to the 50s, and snow and ice is melting rapidly. But here on the shady side of the mountain it takes days, or weeks, for things to really warm up. And it has been in the teens at night, so I plan to go skiing after the Christmas crowds go away.
More snow is predicted for later this week, which should make for a very pretty Christmas.
We came home Friday after spending a week painting and patching our Sacramento home(pictured below), where we lived (when not traveling) for the better part of ten years. It is now on the market, and we are hopeful it will sell quickly at a ridiculously inflated California price. If it doesn't, we'll rent it out for a year and wait for the market to improve.
Like everyone else who has fixed up a place to sell, we wondered why we didn't do all that fixup while we lived there. Whatever. It is someone else's turn.
It's a good house, built in the 1930s, lots of character. hardwood floors, and stained glass windows in the cabinets.
But we are quite happy, thank you very much, to be spending this Christmas in our mountain home, complete with snow. Our children are nearby, and the grandchildren are en route right now to help us decorate our tree.
We spent the morning at our historic little church in Murphys, including duty as candle lighters for the advent wreath. Preacher says we represented the new folks in the church, and it is a place where even bearded pony-tailed retired journalists are welcomed.
We like it. One reason why: this is a very small church (around 100 members) in a very small town, and yet the congregation chipped in more than $11,000 this month to Heifer Project International, our favorite charity for fighting poverty around the world. You can check it out at the web site:
People here care about each other, and so do we: particularly for our friends and family scattered all over the world this holiday season.
Merry Christmas to each of you.
And here is a final look (we hope) of our former home.

Fourth Avenue in Sacramento

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Photo chronicles

This is a series of photos of life in the mountains for the LaMont/Gray families.
Nothing fancy, and if you are not as enamored of these families as I am, feel free to move on to other stuff.

The family gathers in Murphys, in front of the historic Murphys Hotel, for a birthday breakfast for all the males in the family, all born in November. Connor is slightly eclipsed by his sister Delaney, not an uncommon event, but he manages quite well.

A better view of the hotel (Black Bart slept here) and main intersection of town.

This is what it looks like in the Fall when you drive along Skunk Ranch Road, where the Grays live.

And this is what Ruth and Delaney look like when they are having a good time together, which happens quite often.

And this is Bodie, the country dog, one year old, relaxing. he does that well. Yes, he is a beautiful Golden Retriever, born in the Bay Area and named for a famous gold mining town.

Here is an action shot of Pat helping out in a sailboat racing contest, held by Connor's Cub Scout troop.

It's hard to tell from this photo, taken at the Twisted Oak winery tasting room, that Papa LaMont was a classmate of Joe Namath at the University of Alabama.

And finally, a picture of the family having fun in Florida last winter when Harold Moon was kind enough to loan us his boat for a ride on the Banana River.

Ode to Donna

To some folks outside beautiful downtown Camp Connell, California, Donna Manning may just appear to be a normal human being, one who happens to run a store along Highway 4 on the Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway.
But for the people who live here (all 105 of us) and those who visit (several thousand in a big week), they know better.
Judy Caverly, one of the more respectable residents of the area, and a real Yankee too, put her feelings about Donna into a semi-epic poem on her last birthday. It works best if you read it aloud in a Down-east accent. Pretend you are a Kennedy clan member.

Here 'tis:


I’m sitting here with pen in hand
Deciding how to honor Camp Connell’s lady proprietress,
The enigma we call DONNA

Surprises always lie in store when entering
Camp Connell’s door. A happy greeting? Yes! I’ll take it.
One thing’s for sure, she’ll never fake it!

The loving side we all have seen, pinch yourself,
it’s not a dream.
Gaze amongst the “artsy fartsy,” you might meet
the “Paper Nazi.”
If all you buy is black and white, you might be in for quite a fright!

The morning crew arrive in mass, tormenting our poor Donna’s ass.
No burritos to start the day?
Watch out Donna, you’re bound to pay!

People come into the store and hug her,
For they all adore
The lady with the snappy wit.
(She’s apt to call your kid a twit)!

She may not call you by your name
(Can’t remember, what a shame)!

Those of us who gather here to honor her this day will all agree,
She’s one fine dame--
We’ll take her any way.