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Gwin Mitchell Paden Reflections on books, birds and a new business in Downtown Lodi

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Gwin Paden

Posted: Saturday, October 8, 2011 12:00 am

You probably noticed that the headline on my last column mentioned libraries — and then there wasn’t any mention of the item! Space requirements do make for some odd results in print! So here is what wasn’t there:

A delightful book for light reading: “Summer at Tiffany.” ( Forget the author!) First Daughter gave it to me and I have passed it on to the Friends of the Library bookstore. It’s the tale of the first two young ladies ever hired as pages at the famed jewelry emporium — all the young men were at war then in the 1940s.

I liked it because I was working in New York City at that time and the book mentions lunches at the Automat and Toffanetti’s, both places I favored for lunch, too.

Another good, if very long, read is “Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All,” by Allan Gurganus. It is a large book and does not read quickly, simply because one does not want to miss one word. The writing is exceptional and the events varied. I did not realize it was first published in 1989, and that some of the chapters have been printed here and there as short stories. This one will eventually get to the book store, too, I hope.

An appropriate word: “Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.” — Walter Cronkite. Amen to that. Help our library all you can. It’s one of Lodi’s best community benefits.


This little item went missing in two previous columns. As a bird lover, I am NOT going to let it go again! At Garden Club recently, Esther Schmierer told about the white-crowned sparrow, a small bird we see hereabouts. Seems a group of these birds was taken back to Maryland, banded, and set free. Eight of these little birds, each weighing one ounce, arrived back here in California the next year! (Actually, the bird has a striped black and white head. He’s a real cutie.)

It’s that time: A whole flock of birds I could hear but not see arrived in my trees the other day. They were very vocal in a pleasing way, and I’m sure an experienced birder could identify them from their calls — I’m not that good. Wonder who else will be coming? I imagine it all depends on the weather. Now it’s flannel nightgowns at night and light cotton dresses during the day! The cats don’t seem to mind, as long as they get fed on time!

Cats weren’t the only animals invited to St. John’s Blessing of the Animals this past Sunday. Any pet was welcome, and the ceremony was not limited to just members of St. John’s, either. Over the years, there have been hamsters, horses, fish, rats, lizards, snakes, and, of course, lots of dogs. There is a brief service, including communion using animal crackers, and each animal being blessed with a light sprinkling of holy water from an evergreen branch.

The ceremony is held on the Sunday nearest Oct. 4, when St. Francis is honored. He was the saint, once a wealthy playboy, who is known or his love and care for all animals. His is the prayer which begins, “Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace ...” Truly a prayer for our times.


If you haven’t been in the new cheese shop on North School Street, you should go. It is a delightful and welcoming place, with two enticing armchairs in front of a fireplace from which to view a great selection of cheeses under glass as well as shelves full of crackers and all kinds of spreads. You will be greeted by Cindy and Barbara and several other friendly folks. A great addition to Lodi’s Downtown.


After giving Gary and Jaz Rouppet some time to get back in to their regular routines and workdays, my husband and I met them for dinner and a discussion of how the whole plan of bringing Colombian orphans here to the U.S. for possible adoption had worked out. Out of the seven children brought to Northern California, four are in the process of being adopted! Great news!

As consolation, the others, plus a larger group of children from their Bogota orphanage, will be seeing the Rouppets when they go down there in January (summer down in South America). They have done this for the past seven years.

The couple goes down with clothing and gifts obtained with the help of Lodi donors and takes the children to a resort camp in the Andes for two weeks. The whole purpose is to teach the young ones the proper manners and behavior that will help them fit into the outside world when they leave the orphanage at 18. They do get schooling of a sort, but it is way behind U.S. schools — and that’s saying something! Gary is busy working on another way to help them learn more skills. He and Jaz are very grateful for the local people who have supported this project over the years. More later as things develop.

And one to end on: “God remains in you in order to hold you up. You remain in God in order not to fall.” This reminds me of Abraham Lincoln, who said that he often found himself driven to his knees simply because he had no place else to go. I think a lot of us are in this situation, so why not try God? This was the title of a book written some years ago; I think it still applies.

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