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Celebrating in their own backyard

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Here we are again, struggling through another heat wave — and it’s only the end of July. I read someplace in the paper the other day that seasons will cease to be their distinctive selves and will somehow merge into one long continual spell of boring something, probably hot and dry. I hope not.

Our seasons are four different ways of marking the year and enjoying it. Everyone seems to have a favorite season, and I certainly hope they can continue to have that season to enjoy.

Thanks to some very good gardeners, Jaime in particular, things around here are in pretty good shape. A lot of cleanup and shaping has been done, but of course things keep growing and have to be disciplined now and again! Unfortunately, so much heat has rather discouraged much bloom, and there is not as much color. So everybody is kind of looking forward to when we don’t get these hot spells — including me! I don’t like heat.


If you haven’t heard about it already, Lodi has a new has a special eatery, The Hidden Tea Room, located where the old Barking Dog bar used to be in the corner of the parking lot at California and Lockeford streets.

It’s only open every Saturday by reservation, and features a high tea of very tasty five courses, served over two hours. Cost is $25 per person, and the food is well worth it.

It’s the newest enterprise of Terri, who owns and bakes for the Corner Scone bakery on the corner of California and N. Hutchins streets. Of course, she is helped by her daughter and several other attractive young ladies. As far as I’m concerned, Terri is a wonderful baker, and her scones and cinnamon buns and toffee bars are close to culinary heaven! Of course, there are more tempting foods than just those, and there are a breakfast and a lunch menu.


It is hard to write this column about cheerful and ordinary things in a small life when the state and the country and the world are all in such turmoil, with so much antagonism taking place — and so much ignorance and unawareness of what’s going on. Maybe we can’t do much in our little corners of the world except try to be truthful, concerned about, and helpful to those people and activities within the limitations of our lives. It’s just possible that the common sense and compassion we express in our small ways can spread as a palliative against all the turmoil. And certainly prayers will be a strong help.


I would like to reemphasize the importance of everyone making a will, particularly when a person has possessions of some value or obligations to someone. Married couples — or couples of any kind who are living together and sharing a life — should definitely do this. It is important to make sure that what you want to happen with your possessions or obligations is clearly so stated, attested to by your signature and signatures of two witnesses. Many upheavals can happen if there is no will.


I’ve saved the best till last, I think, and that has to do with what I’ve been reading. I have ventured into the Middle Ages with Thomas Costain’s “The Moneyman” and “The Conquerors”: the first is about a furrier who rose to be more or less the treasurer for Charles VII of France, the king who was put on his throne by Joan of Arc, and the second deals with England from the time of William the Conqueror until the reign of John and the resulting Magna Carta. Costain writes well and piques the reader into really getting involved. It was all so tumultuous that I had to balance it with my Winnie the Pooh books!

Then I read Pat Conroy’s ”My Reading List,” and was treated to a collection of interesting writings about individuals and Pat’s love affair with words. Unexpectedly, I am now reading a book by Sidney Poitier in the form of letters to his great-granddaughter, “Life Beyond Measure.” I found it on a shelf at my hairdresser’s, unclaimed, so, having forgotten my book in the rush to be on time, I picked it up, started it there, and brought it home to finish. I plan to put it back where I found it in case it belongs to someone who forgot it was left there. Poor old Genghis Khan will have to keep waiting; the book about him is still in easy reach, but I have another Conroy and another Costain waiting, too. So many books, too little time!

And one to end with: Reading is the most rewarding form of exile. — Pat Conroy

Gwin Paden is a retired Lodi High School/Delta College English teacher and a former newspaper reporter and public relations officer.

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