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.
I’m not a fray kind of person. Sometimes you need skill to join the fray. These Mock Trial students had the skills and got heated, there’s no dispute about that.
Sometimes you just happen onto a fray. I remember walking in downtown Portland leaving Portland State University during a war protest. Wouldn’t you know it the press wanted to talk to me about it? I wanted to catch the bus home.
In this next picture the fray was a Civil War reenactment. The Friday before the big weekend at Kearney Park in Fresno, Fresno County Historical Society hosted students from all over Fresno, Kings, Tulare, and Madera Counties to an event called Civil War Time Travelers. At this event they met the actors who taught them about everything from Civil War medicine to shooting cannons. Similar to the first battle of the Civil War, the students ate their picnic lunches on the grounds and watched the battle as though it was a show. Fortunately, no one died during the fray.
Although a fray is usually a conflict or dispute, I sometimes visualize it as activities. I ambled toward this crowd in Boston as I walked the Freedom Trail remembering a different fray of long ago. Although it caught my attention, I kept my feet firmly planted on the sidewalk, and my eyes down, so as not to get chosen to dance. I’ve been know to fall over just standing outside a museum waiting to go in.
Some people joined right in. It was a lively show.
Vince and I discovered tons of textures in this gem of a “Farm Stay” called Old Edna, the location of an artistic townsite in beautiful Edna Valley, CA. They offer their guests fresh ranch eggs compliments of “chicken liver coop.” The cottage we saw has a beautiful, functional kitchen.
The texture-laden tree house offered hospitality to some, but not to everyone.
I wonder if the sign applied to girl spiders.
The Bluebelly Barn welcomed one and all. In 1887 this was Tognazzini Dairy Barn.
We arrived at closing time. As we walked by this little building, out popped a flap. The owner, Pattea Torrence, said, “I’m Old Edna. Would you like a little tour of one of the houses? I’m getting them ready for guests, but you look like you are having such fun taking pictures. I hope you don’t mind that the bed isn’t made yet.”
We couldn’t resist such a friendly offer.
First, we visited the 1897 DeSolina House, the perfect bridal suite. Here Pattea displayed amazing uses for garage sale finds. My favorite was the copper table top headboard and overhead light. She mixed textures in this display in ways I would never have dreamed if I’d had ten million years to think it over.
My favorite little place was a Gypsy wagon her dad built for her mother, Pi Pi (pie pie). Pattea’s father taught her that “the bond of romance can come in the form of structure.” I fell in love with the structure and its story of the many textures of love which it bore.
Waning sunlight adds a romantic texture to the cottage, but when Pattea opened the door, we stepped into another world of competing textures.
The auto-focus setting of my camera couldn’t bring all the varied textures into focus at the same time, but concentrated on the fabric lining the post. I don’t know that I could have chosen either.
This was such wonderful experience, I know we will go back to Old Edna.
Friends are like flowers.
They bloom, and they inspire.
They make the world beautiful.
We never forget.
Copyright 2014 Brenda Davis Harsham
Note: I dedicate this post to the memory of Ajaytao. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. He was a bright light in our world, and his spirit continues to brighten our memories. He was a good friend to me, welcoming me here, and I will miss him. I feel blessed to have shared the world with him. Namaste, Brenda
“In three words I can sum up what I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” Robert Frost
I’ve had an amazing week learning about our little town and the surrounding area. There is only one book in the library about Woodlake, published in 1971. I have a digitized copy of that book. This week I had the privilege of thumbing through the original handwritten manuscript of that little book housed in a 1950s-style blue canvas three-ring binder.
I have the original manuscript of her other book, The Swift Seasons, in a little blue canvas binder as well, which I am going to digitize starting today. I get excited about the little things I’m learning or at least surmising. Yesterday on one of my interviews Robert took me outside to his back yard.
“Want to see the old Antelope School?” he asked me. “This is it. It used to be on Grandma Fudge’s property. Then it moved to Blair’s property, and then they brought it on skids here.”
Robert and I shared information back and forth for several hours. “This is so much fun!” he told me.
What I know about Antelope School is that it was first built in 1870. Woodlake erected a new Antelope School in 1895. So would this have been the new 1895 school, or the 1870 one?
The builder didn’t date the school anywhere, least of all the floor boards, but look how wide they are. Keep in mind that we cut down big trees back in the 1800s. This picture came from Linda and Bob Hengst.
When I came back from Linda’s house, Vince said, “What were you doing all that time? You were over there for three hours!”
In the evening I started the boring work. It takes 30 seconds to copy each picture, but I have someone to talk to the whole time. I copied about 45 of Linda and Bob’s pictures, and 75 from Robert. At home it takes about 1 minute to create a TIFF file for each picture, and another minute or so to resize it for my blog so I can see what I’m writing about as I write each caption. Finally I pick which pictures I know enough about to caption for the day, and that takes at least 20 to 30 minutes to write 50-70 words. You wouldn’t think it would take so long, but here’s the deal.
I wasn’t there when it happened. I don’t know the people, usually the place, because they aren’t around any more, or the time.
Usually I just have a name to go by, if that on the picture – that’s about 2 words.
Sometimes I have a little story. That’s about 20 words, if I’m lucky.
I have tons of books about things like trains and floods in Tulare County, Native Americans, and the general history of Tulare County. I have an 1892 Atlas of each township in Tulare County with the names of all the property owners at that time.
I have notes from all the people I’ve interviewed, and sometimes audio files.
I have a few newspaper articles that are photocopied, but all the archives from the Woodlake Echo have been destroyed, so all those pictures and original articles are gone.
So every picture is a bit of a puzzle piece, and I do my best to sort through my evidence, and write the best 70 words possible for each picture. As of last night I had finished 109 or about 60% of the required 180-200 pictures. As I talk to more people, I’ll have to narrow it down, and throw some of them out, I’m sure.
A friend asked me what I do all day, and how much time I take writing my book (probably wondering why I hadn’t been calling her much :)). It seems like I don’t do much, but I don’t seem to have much time to do tons of other things. I have lots to talk about – as long as you are interested in Woodlake’s history. Otherwise, I’m kind of dull. I chose the think I’m focused. :)
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough – Mae West
California mountain road contain numerous “hogbacks” as my friend, Darlene, calls the switchbacks on the way to Sequoia National Park. It turns out that those same kinds of roads exist on the Coastal Redwood Highway as well. This park called Mystery Trees was about where our truck’s worn out transmission tired of lugging our new trailer. We rented a car and enjoyed the “break.” Not only did the roads and the paths twist and turn, so did the trees, providing beauty and shade. When we did get going again, the fog wanted us to slow down more than the zigzags. These zigzags are closer to home – to anyone’s home. I never tire of the zigzag shapes of tree branches. These trees are in an educational property called Circle J Ranch owned by Tulare County Office of Education where I worked. It is close to a tiny town called Springville, east of Porterville, CA.
I apologize for the quality of this picture. I heard that someone zig zagged on their responsibilities to posterity, and put the archives in the trash instead of the scanning machine, so this is the best picture I have. In this newspaper picture it was the Kaweah (Kuh wee’ uh) River that zagged.
The headwaters for the Kaweah River begin their zig zag course out of the Great Western Divide where mountain summits rise to over 12, 000 feet. The North Fork, which is just east of us begins at 9,000 feet. If the river could go down the mountain in a straight line, the Kaweah River would drop in excess of 2 vertical miles in a distance of 30 linear miles. The Kaweah River loses the same altitude as the Colorado River, but is 97% shorter. It is the steepest river in the United States. Even with a dam to control flooding, in 1969 the water zig zagged its own way into the Woodlake Valley. (Tilchen, Mark. Floods of the Kaweah)
To see more entries for this Zig Zag challenge, click the icon above. :)
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.
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.
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.
Old ladies and purple go together. Quilts and old ladies go together. Therefore old lady’s quilts should be purple.
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!
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.
A container holds something. A car holds people. Therefore a car is a container.
Actually, the museum building is also a container. It contained mock buildings, which contained relics.
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.
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.
If you ever get to Sacramento, don’t miss this well-kept secret.
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.
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.
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.
The moral of this story. Don’t leave your hair dryer in your trailer if you hate dusting cobwebs.
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.
Besides the Sequoia Redwoods that grow a few miles east of Woodlake, the Redwoods offered tree displays that exist nowhere else in the world.
Once logged, only imagination limits what wood will become.
Wood protects our heads from Oregon moisture while at the same time moves us to tears.
Families 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.
I 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.
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. I 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.
I 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.
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 informed me that in the 1940s they “wore their dresses short.” I could have sworn I saw her eyes twinkle a bit.
This picture contrasts not only light and dark, hot and cold, but has good and evil within the same object.
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!) :)
Thanks Mary for introducing me to such a great sin. (There’s a naughty contrast.)
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.
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.
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?
The pictures show the last bike trip we took before the helmet law for bicyclists went into effect around 1993 or 1994.
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.
Kids enjoyed walking through a sort-of-cave and looking at the paintings left by the Wachumna.
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.
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.
Too soon it was time to bike back to school.
Drivers followed in trucks or vans to pick up stray bikes and bikers that broke down along the way.
I biked behind them taking pictures and hoping that no one would have problems. And no one did. :)
She 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.
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 TheFault 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.
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.
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 TheFault in Our Stars. It’s amazing.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
InLights 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, 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.
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.
If you haven’t read this trio of mysteries, treat yourself a few days of good reading this summer. :) What are you reading?