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Gwin Paden: On summer blooms, music, baking, painting and more

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Posted: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 12:00 am

I’m here! Finally able to see somewhat properly after eye surgery which made it hard to read the computer, so thought I ought to get back to business. So much has been happening so fast, with the garden being no exception.

Blooming times have been rushing in and leaving, pushing at each other like impatient drivers. If plants and flowers made noises we could hear, there’d be a whole lot of honking and shouting going on. Thank goodness, we cannot hear this, but only see a plethora of blooms: roses, lilies of all sorts, hydrangeas, crape myrtles, plus a whole miscellany of bedding plants. Given that my Michaelmas daisies are blooming already, too, what’s going to be left for September? We’ll just have to wait and see ...

***

I was fortunate to be able to take First Daughter and Son-in-Law to the Kiwanis Club’s annual pancake breakfast on the fourth. Long lines and crowded tables, but things kept moving, and I’m sure everyone was well-served and well-fed.

Whole lot of music going on, too, including Capt. Martin Ross of the Salvation Army, who was playing a steel drum near the exit. He played “Autumn Leaves” for us with its wistful, soft tone. Martin offers steel drum lessons at the Salvation Army headquarters building on North Hutchins Street. Call 209-369-5896 for details.

The drums themselves are not ordinary drums. They are metal and saucer-shaped, with shallow indentations around the rim. Each of these gives off a different tone when struck with a soft-headed small mallet. A very different instrument.

***

Potpourri: Changes going on in our town, old friends like Soup Ladle and Lodi Cooks leaving, new ones like the new Italian and Thai restaurants coming into Downtown. And there’s a new little boutique on Lockeford Street across from In-Shape ... Lots of news items about “busy summer.” What about a quiet, peaceful summer, when one can relax enough to read, savor the smell of neighborhood barbecues, lie around in the shade, swim lazily in the river or the lake or a pool, enjoy a picnic on the beach or in the woods, and get away for a little while, at least, from all things electronic? ... Does anyone know where to buy a Webster (round brush for cobwebby corners) any more? Or ShamWow wipes? ...

***

If you’re a cinnamon bun lover like I am, the Corner Scone shop on California Street has wonderful ones, made fresh from scratch every day. Cindy Chappell, who bakes lots of good stuff for the House of Coffees, also makes yummy ones, and she has come up with a really terrific roll that includes Nutella. Calories just from reading! Corner Scone has toffee bars and little iced cupcakes, soup and quiche among other goodies, and House of Coffees has Morning Glory muffins and a variety of breakfast and lunch bars. Both places have cookies. I’m not much of a cookie fan, but between the two places, a cookie nut could stay happy forever!

***

If you are one of those who regret missing the May concert put on by the St. Petersburg (Russia) Quartet at St. John’s Episcopal Church, don’t despair. They will be back next year. The strong deep voices of this quartet filled the church with a sound equivalent to the whole Stockton Chorale singing “The Hallelujah Chorus” from “The Messiah.”

***

Here’s a delightful story. A friend of mine, Deb Shook, writes that she has been taking watercolor painting classes with Irene Furuoka, 95 years young, who has lived most of her life in Lodi, except for some years in Arkansas during World War II. She worked with her husband in their Peltier Road vineyards until she retired — in her 70s, and then turned to watercolor painting. Deb says her work is amazing; her painting of Tokay grapes will be in the Grape Festival art exhibit this year. Irene’s daughter, Effie Komura, comes down from Sacramento every week to go to the class with her mother.

I take my hat off to these ladies and anyone else who can manage watercolor. If I could take an art class, I’d try pastels or charcoal, because I could smudge things around with a finger or two!

***

Next column: cats, old books, wrong words and Phil Bookman!

And one to end on: “If you were living in your heart, you’d be home right now.” — Anonymous.

Gwin Paden is a retired English teacher, news reporter, and WAC officer. Her interests are many and varied. Right now, three cats and a large yard full of tall trees and varying sizes of plants take up a lot of her time.

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