All posts by Marsha Ingrao

Hi, my name is Marsha Ingrao. When I'm not traveling, working with California Council for the Social Studies, Kiwanis or San Joaquin Valley Council, or goofing off, I write. My first novel, Girls on Fire, a romantic comedy about three women in their early sixties looking for new loves, will come out as soon as my editor sends me back the final edits to make. Three blogs keep me busy the rest of the time I sit at my desk.

WP Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin’

Some things never change.  MOST people love being near water in the summer.

As some of you know, it is because of this blog that I have a contract from Arcadia Publishing company to write a pictorial history of Woodlake.  These are some pictures taken around 1911 that Chris Crumly, one of the book’s contributors sent me.

Long Beach summer day

I’m thinking that maybe the little guy wasn’t as crazy about the ocean as his father expected him to be.  Maybe big brother could encourage him.

Long Beach 2

Can’t you just hear this conversation?  Is dad wheedling or demanding?  I think big brother echoes whatever Dad says, pleading in a higher, hopefully more convincing, voice.

Woodlake should be out in January.  I can’t thank the wonderful people who are helping me enough.

wordpress-20141

Click logo for more Summer Lovin’ entries.

Travel Theme: Purple

Old ladies and purple go together.  Quilts and old ladies go together. Therefore old lady’s quilts should be purple.

2013 BOV Quilt Show187

OK that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but someone picked out these purple fabrics and created a quilting contest around them.  I wonder if she/he was an old lady?  These quilts don’t look like my grandmother’s quilts!

This quilt may have been over blinged.  How many kinds of bling do you see?
Can you find the contest fabric in the two quilts shown so far?

I showed you some of them a year ago, but I’ve just been waiting for the right time to show off some of the other creative efforts.

Enjoy these quilt clues as you figure out which fabrics quilters had to use.

For more travel theme entries click here and visit Where’s my Backpack to enjoy visiting interesting places around the world.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Containers

A container holds something.  A car holds people.  Therefore a car is a container.

Smile, it was supposed to be funny.  :)
Smile, it was supposed to be funny. :)

Actually, the museum building is also a container.  It  contained mock buildings, which contained relics.

containers4

Container is a noun.  Contain is a verb.  Vince and his son could hardly contain their excitement when we went to the California Auto Museum in Sacramento.  Uncontained excitement, like uncontained anything spills out and gets all over.

containers3
Have you ever seen such intensity? I couldn’t contain myself from taking this picture.

Their excitement spilled all over me, and I loved the museum, too.  My pick for today’s visit – a classic Woody.  This container even contains a container in the back.

container2

If you ever get to Sacramento, don’t miss this well-kept secret.

wordpress-20141For more container posts click on the icon above.

Scardy and trailer RT

When I Get My Hair Dryer Back, I Won’t Have to Sweep Cobwebs.

On the way back from the coast, the bottom panel of the trailer twisted out from the side of the trailer like a leg broken in 10 places from the hip down.  When we got home, my husband ripped it off, and towed the damaged trailer into the repair shop.  They know us on a first name basis there now.  

damaged trailer

When you have a trailer, you sometimes forget what’s in the trailer, and what’s in your cabinet in the house.  It’s not a problem if the trailer is right outside in the door.  

See, there it is across the lawn.  It stores lots of goodies I forget about.
See, there it is across the lawn. It stores lots of goodies I forget about.

When I discovered that my hair dryer wasn’t in my bathroom drawer, I knew it was in the trailer, and the trailer was gone.  I didn’t panic because I figured it would be a simple in and out, and I’d have the dryer back in a couple of days.  It seems I underestimated by about six weeks.  My loss was an opportunity to enjoy going natural in the beautiful sunny mornings.  I go outside with my wet golden locks, and start brushing.

As I sit and brush, I have plenty of time to look around.  Sunlight sparkles illuminating a vast number of spider webs in the eves, under the chairs and table, and in the garage door windows.  They keep calling me until I quit brushing, and pick up my web-buster.  

spider webs

The moral of this story.  Don’t leave your hair dryer in your trailer if you hate dusting cobwebs.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Wood

The rich element of wood surrounded us as we drove north on Interstate Five towards Oregon.  The abundance of evergreens that grows in Oregon starts here in the northern part of California near Mt. Lassen.

Mt.Lassen1

Besides the Sequoia Redwoods that grow a few miles east of Woodlake, the Redwoods offered tree displays that exist nowhere else in the world.

SFW Klamath trips Sept 18 to 19136

Once logged, only imagination limits what wood will become.

oregon trip 201320130913_1167201

Wood protects our heads from Oregon moisture while at the same time moves us to tears.

oregon trip 201320130913_0090116Families build memories at tables made of wood.  Myrtle wood grows only in Southern Oregon and Israel.  We stopped at the North Bend Myrtlewood Factory to see the array of Myrtlewood products.

cees-fun-foto1I hope you enjoyed this post, and it didn’t seem too wooden to you.  :)  Thanks Cee for the inspiration. To see more entries, click the icon above.

 

WordPress Photo Challenge: Relic

In the rustic western town, Woodlake, California, and surrounding countryside, people often decorate with relics.  It takes artistic flair to arrange relics to look more than junky.

Relic1

I’m still at the junky level.  My friend Sally Pace has moved beyond that.  She and her husband host weddings and many free events at their rustic ranch.

Relic 5

Mike pampers his favorite relic.  Not only is it in the barn, but it’s covered.

Relic2

The following 1940s picture is a relic even though Sally’s road looks almost the same.

relic7

Sally’s house and all its decorative relics weren’t there yet.

Relic10

Woodlake Hardware boasts of nearly 100 years of service, making it somewhat of a relic, yet the building today hasn’t changed much since the 1940s when Morris Bennett started working there.

Relic8

Woodlake Hardware_R

Morris decorated the walls with relics from the past.

Relic9

Of course, the pair of skates is my favorite relic. Relic3

At 90+ Morris still works most days.

SFW 08132013 Morris Bennett027r

He’s my hero, but he’s NOT a relic!  :)

wordpress-20141

For more examples of relics, click the WP logo.

Lake Theatre

Dreams of Woodlake, CA Past

I have embarked on my newest project, writing a pictorial history of the town in which I taught, and now live.  Since I don’t have many pictures, and none of historic Woodlake, I’ve spent a couple of days in the Annie Mitchell Room of the Tulare County Library in Visalia.  The volunteers and staff there are so helpful.  Woodlake newspaper_0091rcI thought this was interesting.  The city jail arrived from Tulare in Woodlake on August 23, 1940.  I’m pretty sure it’s closed now.  At that time, some of the more mischievous town’s members planned a criminal act to test the new jail.

Lake TheatreI heard that the theatre flooded, and kids swam in the basement.  It’s gone now, too.  Downtown buildings burned, got flooded, or demolished, and businesses changed hands – except Woodlake Hardware.  Very little of Woodlake resembles the town it was 60 years ago.

Blah sky photoshopped into blue.
Blah sky photoshopped into blue.

Laura Spalding, a sweet woman in her 80s from a little community named Ivanhoe, shared an entire photo album  of pictures she took in the 1940s. Dress codes were quite different then.  I photoshopped this one slightly so as not to shock anyone.  I’m not sure what the occasion was.  I remember in the early 50s I played outside and swam in my only my underpants, but I was under five.  :)

 

Laura Spalding-24rcb

Laura informed me that in the 1940s they “wore their dresses short.”  I could have sworn I saw her eyes twinkle a bit.

 

 

Contrast1

Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts

This picture contrasts not only light and dark, hot and cold, but has good and evil within the same object.

Contrast1

The steamy waffle mingled  companionably with ice-cold ice cream tickling my palate!  The day I ate it, the waffle named Love, was good.  The next day when I stepped on the scale, it was evil.  Go figure! (That’s exactly what is happening to mine, one waffle at a time!)  :)

Contrast 2

Thanks Mary for introducing me to such a great sin. (There’s a naughty contrast.)

For more delicious waffle treats visit More Than Waffles in Encino, CA.

For more photo challenges click here.

Travel Theme: Twist: Twisted Fourth of July

Setting up for an all city celebration traps workers into all kinds of twists and turns.

Twisted flagsUnfurling flags took hours.

Twisted3

Some workers didn’t stop until they saw stars!

Twisted2

Hope you had a memorable 4th!  Tell me about it!  :)

Crazy Women Don’t Blog, But What Do They Do?

Hi everyone,

It’s true, crazy people don’t write blogs.  I’ve been crazy busy these last few days.  We are changing staff people at CCSS, and I have answered emails, and tied up loose ends all week in the interim.

loose ends

I got my signed contract for the History of Woodlake book yesterday, and I’ve also been scanning pictures like crazy, and posting them on three different Facebook Woodlake groups.

4th Grade Bike Trip 4_RT

The pictures won’t win any awards, but when I post them on FB, people recognize their tia or tio (aunt or uncle), and other family members, and it’s a lot of fun.  I taught the fourth grade bilingual class in Woodlake in the early 90s.  Aren’t they adorable?

 

 

4th Grade Bike Trip 1_RT

The pictures show the last bike trip we took before the helmet law for bicyclists went into effect around 1993 or 1994.

 

4th Grade Bike Trip 3_RT

The goal was to get to location that hadn’t been disturbed by settlement, where a tribe of the Wachumna Indians, a sub-tribe of  Yokuts Indians, lived in this area.  The Yokuts, yes the ‘s’ is part of the name, was one of the largest tribes in North America.  Food was plentiful, nutritious and easy to gather or hunt.  However, not even missionaries or Spanish soldiers ventured this far east more than once or twice.  Settlers from South Carolina discovered this area in 1853.

 

4th Grade Bike Trip 7_RT

Kids enjoyed walking through a sort-of-cave and looking at the paintings left by the Wachumna.

 

4th Grade Bike Trip 15_RT

The owner of this property, who is in his 80s, remembers seeing them down by Cottonwood Creek.  It’s dry most of the year.  It probably was then, too.

 

4th Grade Bike Trip 10_RT

Wachumna women harvested the many oak trees in the area. Women of all ages sat around the large grinding rock and ground acorns.  You can tell who sat where by the size of the holes in the rocks.  Grandmas had very deep holes.  You can clearly see the deep hole on the back right.

 

 

4th Grade Bike Trip 2_RT

Too soon it was time to bike back to school.

4th Grade Bike Trip 13_RT

Drivers followed in trucks or vans to pick up stray bikes and bikers that broke down along the way.

 

4th Grade Bike Trip 14_RT

I biked behind them taking pictures and hoping that no one would have problems.  And no one did.  :)

Don’t Read Sad Books, Then Talk On The Phone

The Fault in Our Stars residing in my Kindle is Laurie’s fault.

LaurieShe read it and posted on Facebook how good it was.  When my friend Laurie says anything, I listen because she is smart and fun.  I immediately ordered the book on Amazon, and put it aside to read when I finished reading the boring book, Underworld a Novel.

The boringness of Underworld overwhelmed me on  Saturday. Then thought hit me that the day was too beautiful, and life is too short to EVER be bored.

The back yard 1

Saturday was one of those rare, partly cloudy, 85-90 degree, days in central California.  Vince and I sat by the pool and visited. When we ran out of words, I opened The Fault in Our Stars; he snuck off to take a picture.  The little blob by the pool slouched in the rocking chair with her legs spread apart like Grandma Morris, in her not-long-enough giant-flowered dresses exposing nylons that came up mid-thigh, is me.  In my defense I am wearing a bathing suit, so my thighs should be exposed.

Indianapolis street
I am driving up a street near our former home in Indianapolis, IN.

I’m laughing out loud at the audacity of this sixteen year old Hoosier (in the book).  I am a Hoosier (from Indiana), and it was great reading about a kid that attended my high school, North Central, and drove badly on streets near my home.  These three protagonist children all have cancer, but one of them is hot, hot, hot, according to the girl, Hazel.

Who names their kids Hazel?  Grandma Morris had a sister,  Great-Aunt Hazel, but really, does this author, John Green, know me or something?  It’s so Hoosier.

Hoosiers
Can you find Grandma Morris? Aunt Hazel is probably there, too.

In the book Hazel, age 16, has terminal cancer, and Augustus, the hot one, is cancer free after a leg amputation.  They meet in a cancer support group led by an old guy (probably 21 or so) who is cancer free after losing his testicles, which he talks about at every meeting.  The story bounces around from hilarious to sad, and I had just finished a particularly sad page when Melissa called. Melissa rarely calls me.

“You’ve got to call(a nameless friend of ours),” she orders.   “Her brother and sister-in-law are both expected to die within a few hours, and I can’t reach mom so she can call.  Could you please call her?”

My gut says, “This is not a good idea, Marsha Lee.  You’re crying, two people are dying, and you’re supposed to… say what?”

I’m the emotional one.  Melissa’s mom is the one who gets us out of our funk. I dial my friend’s number from memory.  She is not there.  I have to look up her cell phone.  She answers after a few rings.

“Where are you?” I ask, not knowing what to say, tears lurking in my voice.

“I’m in Utah.”

“Who are you with?”

This is the most eloquent thing I could think of to say at this point.  I’m off base because I know this “secret” about her brother and sister-in-law, but I don’t know if she is in on it.  Tears well up in my throat. I can’t think, let alone talk.  I wish I had listened to my gut.

“A couple of ladies from church.”

I’m at a complete loss.  Does she or doesn’t she know? She doesn’t give me any clues. By this point in the conversation, the pent-up tears wailed out a little.  It turned out that she knew.

“I’ll call you when I get back in ten days, and we can go to lunch,” she cut me short after I stumbled around some more.

“OK,” I replied and hung up.  I never felt dumber and more useless.

Moral:  When tears are in your eyes, wait to call.

Oh, and you’ve got to read The Fault in Our Stars.  It’s amazing.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Extra, Extra

Extra, Extra

Cousin Hal and I stopped momentarily in New Castle, DE to mark the landing-place of William Penn in 1682. We relaxed in a park on the Delaware River in this tiny historic village, named “Tomakonck,” place of the beaver, by the natives that settled there.   We didn’t see any beavers.  The extra entertainment we found in New Castle lurked in the lower left corner of my camera.

Serious conversation

Who knows what two ducks have to talk about.  But I don’t think it’s much different from any male and female that live in the same place.  His Eminence, the strong silent type, dominated the discussion early on, as Dolly Duck listened… silently, waiting her turn to talk.

Come back here

Sure enough, he quit quacking. Dolly started to speak. Maybe H.E. didn’t hear her.  Maybe he had just used his 10,000 quacks for the day, and it was time for a swim.  I don’t really know because I don’t speak “duck.”

Quacking Up

But the situation seemed vaguely familiar.

For “Extra, extra” reading, click here.

Book Reviews: Peter Abrahams Collection

After I read Steven King’s, On Writing, I thumbed through his suggested reading list at the end of the book.  Granted he published his book ten years ago, so these are not the most up-to-date books.  Probably  voracious readers have already heard of Peter Abrahams, but I started at the top of the alphabetized list, so I started reading his books.  He does what I haven’t even come close to mastering.  He writes descriptions, metaphors newer and fresher than clean socks, similes as puzzling as a Sudoku, which I never work out correctly no matter how much scratching I do along the sides.  If I had to categorize Abrahams books, my guess is that they fit best as drama or mysteries.

Lights Out

In Lights Out Abrahams chose a wrongfully imprisoned, vengeful murderer as the hero.  This poor man’s mother neglected him.  His older brother set him up, lied to him and abandoned him, leaving “Nails” to serve his entire sentence in prison for something he never did.   Of course, he killed a few bad guys in prison that picked on him, which kept him locked up.  When he eventually emerged, looking younger and more fit than his outside colleagues, he looked for his errant brother.   Nails seemed dumb, but you had a feeling he would solve the mystery of why he went to prison, and get the good-looking woman in the end.  You wondered if his brother would get caught, and by whom. He did, but not in any way I would have expected, or chosen to read, for that matter, but it kept me reading.  No matter what he did, Nails’ brother got an appropriate comeuppance, but not one you’d wish on your worst enemy.

Revolution #9

Revolution #9, published in 1992, told the classic story of a smart woman marrying a man she thought she knew, and finding out on her wedding night that she didn’t even know his name, nor the people who came and took him away. The government thought they could close the twenty year old murder case when a counterfeiter blew Charlie’s cover in return for favors he would soon need again. No one had reacted with more surprise than Charlie when the bomb he had built and set under the building exploded, killing the eleven-year-old son of a professor at his college.

Running for his life, abandoned by the real terrorists, Charlie changed his identity, and took cover as a lobster fisherman.  He laid low until he accidentally fell in love.   When he married, news of Charlie’s reappearance twenty years later triggered many levels of events reaching into the depths of the government before the reader discovers the true perpetrators.  But did they get away with it, and let Charlie live?  Only those who read the book know for sure.

Oblivion

I also read Oblivion.  Such a title that might have clued me in to the surprise, but it didn’t.  It’s unclear by the end of the book if it actually has a resolved, happy ending.  It’s sort of happy, but because of the oblivious, I’m not sure.

Petrov is an investigator who wins court cases for his clients.  He’s dramatic and thorough, attacking each case with the tenacity of the locked door on my front loading washer. (That’s another story.)  Somehow along the way, he loses his way, and ends up in the hospital, falls in love with the nurse, and ends up head to head against his past and another love.  Abrahams packs more surprises into each chapter than I have had in my life.  If you read it long ago, you may have forgotten all the turns and twists, but I doubt it.

summer reading

If you haven’t read this trio of mysteries, treat yourself a few days of good reading this summer.  :)  What are you reading?

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Room

This is the perfect challenge to tell you about the wonderful interesting room I had in San Francisco a couple of months ago.  I wanted to support these people because they are from the Valley.  In the pictures the rooms look fabulous.

beresford arms_4a

In their defense, I drove in late, and was lucky to get a room.  I got the last available room, and it was in the basement.

SFW SF Beresford

Whoever heard of rooms in the basement? Yes, it had a window.  It was two stories above the ground level.  I know, it confused me, too.  The view was unusual _______.

Beresford2

I didn’t care about outdated wallpaper that didn’t match the vintage of the building.  My worst complaint wasn’t the bath tub.  In fact I looked forward to getting into the spa tub.  Until…

Beresford3

I ran the water.

Beresford4
before Marsha

I didn’t need a soak in tan that badly.  I fell into bed tired and dirty, and after breakfast the next morning decided to just leave.  I phoned ahead for my car because it could take up to 30 minutes to get it.  I went down up to the lobby twenty minutes later, and waited an hour an a half downstairs upstairs.

Beresford5

As old hotels in San Francisco go, this one probably rates better than you might get from my review. My friend Sally rented a brochure room when she stayed there.

 

Book Review: Co-Operative Dreams A History of the Kaweah Colony by Jay O’Connell

Kaweah Colony

If you’ve never seen a tree so wide you can drive your truck through it, then you need to come to the Sequoia National Park.  The Kaweah River surges down from the Sierra Nevada, through the Big Trees, forming the Delta where big agriculture lives in Tulare County.

map

The huge forests that attract thousands of tourists world-wide today, might have been wiped from the map before their secret was discovered were it not for the drama that unfolded in the mountains in the 1880s.

I met author, Jay O’Connell, in the Pizza Factory in Three Rivers on the day Sally Pace and I made ad sales calls for the Kiwanis Magazine, “What’s Happening in the Foothills.”  I went home, and sure enough, I had his book, Cooperative Dreams A History of the Kaweah Colony, in my library, but to my loss, had never taken the time to read it.

Early tent colony where first Kaweah Colony residents settled.
Early tent colony where first Kaweah Colony residents settled.

“Three key issues of the nineteenth-century California history are illustrated by events at Kaweah.” The issues prominent in the 1880s, when the Kaweah Colony formed were: “land and its acquisition; labor and the organization of it; and conservation.  … They are personified by three major characters in the drama of the Kaweah.” Charles Keller found the land, and knew it would be perfect to start the perfect cooperative colony.  Burnette Haskell, son of none other than Eddie Haskell (not from Leave It To Beaver, but very much like him in personality) gave voice to the organized labor movement so prominent in those years.  Finally, Visalia’s own “Father of the Sequoia National Park,” George W. Stewart championed conservation so effectively that the results surprised even him.

More permanent dwellings afforded little protection from the winter weather.
More permanent dwellings afforded little protection from the winter weather.

What I didn’t know was that there was such a mysterious aura around the often-told story.  For fifty years even historians did not know how the park came to be included in a bill that originally reserved only a small portion of the trees for posterity.  Even more amazing was the reason for including the magnificent trees in the preservation act.

O’Connell gently unfurls the story, introducing each character, using primary sources including letters, newspaper articles, and interviews of survivors of the colonies conducted in the 1940s by Tulare County historical expert, Joe Doctor, to authenticate his narrative.

As a student of local history, I found this fascinating, but California’s history, its dream belongs to the world as did the settlers that came in the 1800s.

Sue’s Word a Week – Orange

I love the sunny color of orange, and the sweet flavor as well.  No place salutes orange better than Orange Works in Strathmore, CA  on the west side of Highway 65.

Orange works1I drive thirty miles just for a taste.   The orange picker brings in crates of warm oranges from the field outside the back door of the restaurant. He squeezes the whole crate of them into just one pitcher.  From there the juice magically turns into ice cream or smoothies.

It’s the perfect treat for a hot, dry California summer day.

To take part in Sue’s challenge, click here.

Best News Ever – Well In The Last 24 Hours

You have all been so faithful reading and visiting while I my creative juices dried up.  Thank you so much.  I think they are going to start flowing again soon.  I’m at the beach.

castaway-laptop2

Oh yes, the good news.  Even though my book, Girls on Fire, is on a break pending more rewriting and editing, I had a request from a publishing company to consider writing a book about our local area.  So I’m checking it out.

Happy Mother’s Day One and All

I am not a mother, a “real” mother, but like everyone else, I had a mother.  And she loved me.  And I loved her.

family pic age 7

Many people have just the opposite situation.  We all form relationships in which we have mother/child like contacts, and without these wonderful people in our lives, we would be lonely and/or unguided.

20130824_0097

I was fortunate to have many generations of mothers on Mom’s side of the family.  You can see the resemblance between all of us.  I’m the grumpy looking one.

Marsha

I admired my mother, and listened to her guidance.   We shared secrets, dreams, ideas, friends, careers and interests.  We traveled to Stonehenge and other places in England, the highlight trip of our lives.

Peggy and Marsha

I rarely let more than a few days go by when I was a young adult in which I didn’t call her.  As she aged and moved closer to me, we saw each other daily, and those were precious years.

Peggy's 80th 013rc