2015 Comes Roaring In!

Tyler graduates

Grandson, Tyler, Receiving his Diploma in May


2015 has raced hard to get here. I turned around yesterday and it was the beginning of 2014, now it is 2015! I don't know if it means something big will happen during the year that made it (the year) want to arrive so fast or I am just getting older.

Buster
Buster

So what did happen during 2014? Hard to really say because it was such a blur. Our time was spent with friends, clubs, ham radio, events and concerts. Buster and I spent time walking down by the river. He walked slower but was ever ready to go and would pout if we didn't go.

One of the big events was our grandson, Tyler, graduated from California State University at Chico. Tickets to the event were limited, so Gordy and I watched it live on the computer. They streamed the whole event. So, we saw all the speakers and watched as each graduate received their diploma. I had my Iphone on "photo" so I took the picture as Tyler took his diploma. In fact, I had a better view than his parents did! We are very proud of him. He is now working in Information Technology for a hospital in Chico.

Cupid and Me  The Side Fence
Cupid and Me! - Our Side Fence Project

On Valentine's Day, I stopped at Raley's for some groceries. One of the baggers came to work as Cupid. Like everyone else, I had to have my picture taken with Cupid!

When you own a home, there are always things to be fixed. This year, Gordy tackled the side fence by the hot tub. John came over and helped dig the holes. As we have been doing when we replace part of the fence, we used metal support poles. It took a while to get done, but it sure looks better now. Hopefully, we won't have to do it again! The other project we have been working on, is a leak in the hot tub. Unfortunaely, we haven't found it yet. I sure miss soaking in the spa.

Gulls in a line  Ducks in the pool
Gulls in a Line on Folsom Lake - Ducks in our Pool

2014 was a dry year and fairly warm. Jim, Gordy and I went fishing on Folsom Lake. The lake level was pretty low and areas that we normally sail over with 60 feet of water were maybe around 15 to 20 feet. By summer time, an old bridge that is usually submerged, the Mormon Island bridge, was out of the water and you could go under it. The sea gulls would gather along the ridge of an underwater island. I thought they should have taken advantage of the low lake level to carve out some of the islands and increase the storage capacity of the reservoir, but they didn't. Fishing was sometimes good, sometimes not so good. But the days were mild and we at least would have a good boat ride.

With low lake levels, sometimes (especially in the spring) ducks end up using our pool for a resting spot. They hang around for a while then take off for their next spot.

Me at our WTC Luncheon  Lunchon program
Me at the Woman's Thursday Club Luncheon - Program Cover

In April, the Woman's Thursday Club of Fair Oaks has their Scholarship Luncheon and Fashion Show. This year's theme was "Chapeaux et Fleures". For the last few years, I have done the program cover. It's always a challenge to design the image. This one actually came out pretty fast! We raised enough money at the luncheon to award 5 - $1,000.00 scholarships!

stick fort  dry lake
Buster Explores a Stick Fort - The Lake is Dry

river otter  merganser and chicks
River Otter in the Beaver Pond - A Merganser and her Chicks

As I said earlier, 2014 was a very dry year. The small lakes we pass on our walks are usually very full in April but this year they were bone dry. The Beaver pond still had some water but kids were able to wade out to the island. There was still a lot to see like the stick fort that someone erected on what I call "Dead Fish Island" (at the end of Salmon season, a lot of dead fish wash up on it). The mild weather made for some great walks but the lack of rain meant we were going to have to find ways to conserve water. Like bringing back the old practice of "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down."

Topaz Lake Gang
The Gang at Topaz Lake

Phil and fish  Low lake
Phil Shows off the Day's Catch - The Lake is Low

We had a great time at the beginning of June at Topaz Lake. This year, a number of our friends came up to enjoy the fishing, camping, and partying!

Topaz Lake was really low for this time of year. In the past, the water level was almost up to the steps. Instead, it was more like the level in September, very low. But, the fishing was still great and we came home with plenty. In the picture above of the lake, you can see the cows grazing by the trees. Normally, we would be trolling for fish through that area!

Al and Marv  bear
Al and Marv - Bears

We took a day off from fishing to go visit our friend, Al, in Minden. His brother, Marv was also there and we went out to lunch. We went to a neat lodge, Sorenson's, in Hope Valley on Highway 88. It was a perfect day to have lunch on their deck and catch up with Al and Marv. After lunch, we roamed about the grounds. They had these whimsical topiaries of bears through out the property - some fishing, some climbing trees and even one reading "Goldilocks"!

pelicans  Elvis and Marilyn
Swarms of Pelicans along the Route - Elvis and Marilyn Welcome us to Sonoma Raceway

88 car  opening ceremony
Dale Junior's 88 Car - The Patriots Perform in the Opening Ceremony

Kenseth's car  Carl wins
Kenseth's Car being Towed Past his Hauler - Carl Edwards does his Signature Backflip after Winning

We took the train back to the NASCAR race at Sonoma Raceway again. It was a great day trip. This year, there were swarms of white pelicans in the wetlands. A couple dressed as Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe wandered through the train during the trip and welcomed us to the raceway when we got there. Part of our entry ticket was a visitor's pass to the pits. We got to see the cars and teams up close. Once again, the Patriots performed for us before the race began. We enjoyed the race and loved being able to see Carl Edwards perform his backflip when he won the race. It was so much fun, that we have already put a deposit down for the 2015 race!

Buster
Aloha Buster

On the low side, we lost a number of friends this year including our beloved boy, Buster. He passed away at the end of June. The day he left, I had cuddled up with him while he went to sleep, then I went to bed. Gordy all of a sudden woke up at 11:15 PM. He saw Buster come walking into the room, perfectly groomed. He looked at Gordy, then flew out the window. Gordy was startled by the sight because he knew he was awake and not dreaming. He got out of bed and went to where Buster was. His body was warm but Buster was not breathing. At least he had not left us without saying “Goodbye”. I'm still missing him. I have always said, you raise your children to let them go, but you raise your pets to hold close. We have talked about the possibility of getting a new dog, but haven't gotten one yet. Only time will tell.

Rooster in the Park  Tom Rigney
Concerts in the Park, A Rooster Crows (behind Gordy) - Tom Rigney at Rancho Cordova Jazz Festival

New Christie Minstrals  Gang in Plymoth
The New Christie Minstrals - Friends meet at the Plymoth Bluegrass Festival
(Dick & Carolyn Wilson, Marilyn Bagshaw, Rich Carbine and Gordy)

In the summer, we enjoy a number of concerts. From mid June to the end of August, Fair Oaks has a weekly outdoor concert in the park. We pack up a light dinner, wine and our chairs and enjoy a variety of music from country, jazz to rock. The last concert is usually the Capitol Pops orchestra and they always give a fantastic performance. The concerts are the perfect way to spend a summer evening.

This year, in July, we went with some friends to see the New Christie Minstrals. Some of the original members were still playing. Took me right back to the sixties! Randy Sparks (the leader of the band) used to own a club in Westwood called "Ledbetters" where he had another band like the Minstrals play, they were called the Back Porch Majority. I used to go there with friends for pizza and music. Back then, the opening act was of all people, John Denver, of course this was before he became famous.

We used to go to the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee over Memorial Day. But, they changed the format to try and encourage more young people. To us, the new format wasn't interesting. In August, another group now holds a jazz festival at the Rancho Cordova Marriott. We went this year and we really enjoyed it. It was very much like the old Jazz Jubilee and really enjoyed the music. We will definitely go again this year.

In September, we went up to the Plymoth Fair grounds for a day of Bluegrass music. We had a great time visiting with friends and listening to music. Made us miss going to the Father's Day Bluegrass festival in Grass Valley, but by what we have heard, the people putting it on are still some what hard to deal with.

oysters  gordy opens
Drake's Bay Oyster Ranch, Our Last Visit - Gordy opens Oysters

During the summer, we enjoyed going to both the California State Fair and the Nevada County Fair. It is always fun to wander around, see the exhibits and enjoy the food. At the State Fair, we watched the kids show their goats. Goats are stubborn. To lead them, you have to both pull on their leash and also push them in the rear. One little girl was too little to do this, so one of the officials helped her. Another little girl doubled up with a friend, she pulled on the leash and her friend took up the rear! As usual, we end our visit to the fair with wine tasting. It's a great time to sample wine you don't usually get to try.

At the end of July we took a day trip to Drake's Bay Oyster Farm for oysters. It would be our last trip there as they were forced to shut down their retail operations on July 31st. They are being allowed to harvest what oysters are left and sell them at other places (not their own farm) until there are no more and then they have to shut down completely. We bought three dozen smalls - the tastiest of the oysters and wandered on home via the coast to Mill Valley then back to Sacramento. A sad but beautiful trip ending with a great feast of fresh oysters.

America's Cup
Hawaiian Chieftan on the Sacramento River

When fall begins, it is time to start fishing for salmon. They reported that there were a lot of salmon in the ocean, but we sure didn't see them coming up the river - not even on the fish finder! So, this year we got skunked, but so did almost everyone else. I think we only saw a couple of fish caught throughout the whole season. Even the sea lions were scarace. However, we did get to watch the Hawaiian Chieftan sail up and down the river.

humming birds
Humming Birds Flock to the Feeder

In the late summer/early fall, some of the hummingbirds migrate through our area. We have Anna's hummingbirds here all year round but others like the Costa's go to warmer areas for the winter. Normally, we have one male hummingbird that stands guard over the feeder and dive bombs any other bird that tries to use it. During the migration season, there are so many hummers that he can't keep up with them. At one time this year we had hummers waiting for a turn at the feeder. Our resident male is once again happy now that the migrating bird have left.

We went to Pacificon (the Ham radio convention) again this year. Instead of just going down for the day, we stayed Saturday night at the Marriott. It was the first time in a long, long time that we slept at a hotel and not in our motorhome! The hotel is near the new 49ers Levi stadium. While we were there, we saw a wedding party – I thought it odd that they would schedule a wedding when the hotel was full of Ham’s. While we were at the bar, a member from the party came in and I asked her about it. It turned out that the wedding wasn’t at the hotel, the party took a shuttle to Levi stadium and the wedding was held there. The groom works for the 49ers.

Our harvest was very meger this year. Because of the drought, we cut back on watering - even let the front yard go totally brown. Since we are hobby vintners, it didn't make any sense to water the grapes more than needed to keep them alive. By the time harvest came around, we basically had raisens. We did get about 1 1/2 gallons of wine which is aging as I write this. On the plus side, the birds were delighted with their raisen feast!

Red Skunk  High Sierra
Red Skunk Jazz Band - High Sierra Jazz Band, Howard Miyata sings to the Kids

Paddle surfer  Sunset
Paddle Board Surfer - Sunset at Pismo Beach

At the end of October, we headed for Pismo Beach for their Jazz Jubilee by the Sea. We had a little fog to begin with, but then it cleared up and we had great weather. Since we didn't have Buster, we spent more time in the venues listening to music. I enjoyed walks on the beach. This year, my sister had requested that I bring her some sand dollars and I was very happy to oblige. The surfers were out and I saw my first paddle board surfer. I've seen them on the lake paddling about and was interested to see that they can actually be used for surfing.

Pt. Arena Lighthouse  Sunset
Pt. Arena Lighthouse - Sunset at Wright's Beach

We had our Thanksgiving meal with the family. I had the turkey all ready to go on the barbque but the barbque decided it didn't want it - something broke. So, I did it in the oven and it turned out great. Tyler missed dinner again because since he is the "low man on the totem pole", he had to work. Jim and Marilyn Pearce dropped by for a glass of wine and he brought the bread he baked for us (and a loaf for JJ, which she loves).

As we have done for many, many years, we packed up our leftovers and headed to Wright's Beach for Thanksgiving Week. The group that is usually there was smaller this year because 10 of them decided to have Thanksgiving in Hawaii. We didn't get our favorite spot because it was occupied but we were in the one in front of it. On the day after Thanksgiving, we took a drive up the coast to Mendocino – 98 miles of a twisty, turny road but absolutely beautiful scenery. It started to rain while we were driving, but it cleared up by the next morning. On our drive, we stopped at the Pt. Arena Lighthouse. It has a great view of the coast line. In the museum/gift shop, you can see the original crysal lens. Further up the coast, we arrived at Mendocino. We were going to stop and have a bite to eat, but the town was filled with tourists, so we decided just to drive back and go to Stormy's in Bloomfield for dinner. Which is always and excellent choice.

The family
Christmas Eve at the Fullers
Gordy, Dale, Diana, JJ and Tyler Waldo, John Geckler in the back.

So, BAM! It was Christmas. I managed to get everything done, except the baking, by the Monday before Christmas. My sister, Judy, and her husband, Mike, came for a visit with their three dogs. We hadn't seen Mike for a number of years and it was fun to talk to him and play with their dogs.

I didn't bake as much this year because everyone seems to be cutting back on sweets. I had asked what they would miss and only baked three cookies and the 7 minute almond roca. Still, I have a lot of cookies left.

It was a wonderful family dinner. Tyler is geting so adult and so is JJ. Hopefully we will be able to see more of them this year. After it was over, I got to spend the week after Christmas enjoying the decorations and thinking back on all the wonderful things of 2014 - that I could remember!

Now, on to 2015! Wishing you all a very happy New Year!

Thanks for stopping by.

christmas card
Shedding a Little Light on the World!