First of all, many thanks to all of you who sent such nice Christmas cards to our house. We really appreciate your thoughts. Sending cards, though planned for, just didn't happen here. We thought about everybody a lot and if thought transference works, we did fine! Also, although I don't approve of email messages in place of hand-written ones, I received such a nice one that I forwarded it to those whose email addresses I had.
Ordinary tasks keep me busier than ever because I am getting slower and clumsier and run out of steam more quickly, so extra duties like Christmas preparations — and tax preparations — can wear me out. I have been lazy for almost a week with a head cold, and am facing an Augean stable of laundry, errands, paperwork and computer work to clean away. I am no Hercules with a magic shovel, so just have to cope!
Enough of that. Tops on the better list is the celebration of my friend David Hill's 30 years as pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church. I've gone to services there several times, and have found a friendly, busy church with inspiring leaders, led joyously by David. He has also participated in the two Sept. 11 ecumenical services we have had. My thanks, David, on behalf of the community.
A thought about Christmas trees: I know they get recycled when the Boy Scouts pick them up, but when we had live trees and finally just had to put them out, I always propped them in a corner of the garden as a shelter for the birds. Eventually the needles left, and the tree could be cut up for firewood. (We could burn in fireplaces then.)
Speaking of birds, I look on those at the feeder as living Christmas ornaments. They decorate the winter days with color and sprightliness, a wonderful return for a few seed-filled feeders and bird baths.
I read a suggestion that peanut butter-smeared pine cones rolled in birdseed are good feeders. I used to use peanut butter a lot in the old days, before it got too expensive. The blue jays are happy to steal unsalted peanuts out of the squirrel feeder.
Feeding squirrels so they don't eat birdseed is much nicer than just using special devices to keep them away. A bunch of squirrels around a feeder is entertainment of the first order. We use unsalted peanuts in the shell ourselves, so it's easy to share. You can find peanuts in the shell, salted and unsalted, at Costco.
Have you noticed the nice new double bench outside of House of Coffees? It's built out of wine barrel staves, with barrel tops/bottoms as a center table. The arms/side legs are wonderful big iron farm equipment wheels, painted black. It will come into its own in warmer weather.
Fortunately, H of C isn't going anyplace, like Apple Market and Wrappin' Up. The market is simply going to close because no one stepped up to buy it when the owner announced his retirement, and now the way has been cleared for another fitness center. At least Walgreen's has some basic foods, which will save long trips to Raley's or Safeway.
And, although Wrappin' Up is still in business Downtown — thank goodness — we have lost a convenient mailing place.
In both instances, the most valuable thing we have lost is community congeniality with a number of helper friends, as well as those other friends we run into in both stores.
We'd better face it. There are going to be a lot more inconveniences and discomforts ahead — unless you've got beaucoup bucks. There will be longer lines, fewer retailers, fewer doctors and more expensive everything.
Already, people have found a smaller paycheck in the mail after feeling assured that they're relatively safe if they make under $450,000. And did you read about the tax increase on instruments veterinarians use if they are the same kind of instruments used on humans?
Thanks to a more impersonal world, our local community areas are more and more important. Neighbors need to watch out for each other. I have reactivated our Neighborhood Watch after it fell dormant some years ago. I urge all neighborhoods to use this idea, not only for safety, but to get to know each other better and to help each other out when necessary.
Call Lt. Jeannie Biskup at Lodi PD for the moment. I'm told there will be a new person coming on board soon to handle this kind of activity.
And, for heaven's sake, have outside lights on at night in dark areas of your property.
And on a happier note: The Arts at St. John's is starting up again, after a year's hiatus, with a Jan. 26 concert featuring Trio Globo, with Eugene Friesen, cellist; Howard Levy, piano and harmonica; and Glen Veres, percussion, at 7 p.m. at the church. Tickets are $20 general admission; $10 for seniors and students. All proceeds will benefit the church. Call 209-369-3381. Cheers!
And one to end with:
"Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again;
The eternal years of God are hers;
But Error, wounded, writhes in pain,
And dies among his worshippers." — William Cullen Bryant
Gwin Paden has been around these parts for quite a while, and has a wide span of community interests. She is currently being held in thrall by four cats!