Marti’s Birthday Month (Deb’s Birthday Too!)

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It is dinner time and we have reservations at Sarafina’s Italian Kitchen.  We arrive at the restaurant and find that it is packed.  Even with a reservation we find that we need to wait.  Standing by the bar David, Jessica, the birthday girl Marti and I wait for our table.  Six minutes later we are sitting at our table and reviewing the menu.  We order drinks and place our dinner requests.  I can see that Marti is happy with the restaurant, company at the table, and our food.  We laugh, talk and enjoy our dinner the food is excellent and prepared with skill.  We enjoy the ambiance of the restaurant.  We pass on desert because we have a special fruit tart and chocolate back at the cabin.

After arriving back at the cabin we set out the tart, special candy and David and Jessica’s homemade Lemoncello.  We have tried an earlier batch of the Giudicessi Lemoncello during a visit to David and Jessica’s home.  However, the Lemoncello David brought to the cabin was part of a new batch; it was different from the batch we first tried at David and Jessica’s.  This Lemoncello was smother and more delicate with a fine lemon flavor.  Marti was very happy with the new Lemoncello.  With a slice of tart and a small piece of chocolate and of course her glass of Lemoncello in front of her, we all wished her a happy birthday.

After enjoying our deserts we relaxed and soon it was time for bed.  Marti and I head upstairs to our room for a night of sleep.  After changing into our pj’s we climbed into bed warm and ready for sleep.  Before closing my eyes I ask Marti if she enjoyed her birthday.  Marti was so animated in her reply.  She went on to say how much she enjoyed the company of David and Jessica, the Serra Nevada Mountains, the cities of Murphy and Arnold, the beauty of Blue Lake Springs, the cabin and our walk in the forest.  She did state that our visit to the city of Dorrington California was the least enjoyable part of her birthday weekend.  Happy that Marti enjoyed her birthday I went to sleep.

Waking up Sunday morning was wonderful.  Marti was still asleep so I crawled out of bed and headed into the bathroom.  With my teeth brushed, and body showered I walked downstairs to the family room.  Today we need to return home.  Marti needs to go to work on Monday so today we must return to home.  Together David, Jessica, Marti and I started preparing the cabin for our departure.  We washed and replaced the dirty items in the cabin and basically readied it for the next visitors.  By mid morning we were in our car and heading home.  I was sad to leave.  I will return to the cabin with David and Jessica again.

Time moved forward and it was the last weekend of Marti’s birthday month.  We had planned a dinner with friends to celebrate two birthdays.  Regardless of what Marti thinks other people were born in her birth month.  Even though February is the shortest month of the year it is Marti’s birth month. Most of us are lucky to celebrate part of a day on our birth day.  Marti on the other hand has been able to stretch her birth day into a birth month.    We started the month off with a wonderful present that was ordered on-line with an estimated delivery date of her birth day.  We are still waiting for this present to arrive.  We ended her birthday month at another Italian restaurant with six other friends.  (Rumor had it that one person at the table also celebrated her birthday too.)  Happy birthday Debbie!

I am sure Marti enjoyed her birthday and each day she did not work in her birthday month!


Birthday visit to the Conifer Forest

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Today is Marti’s birthday. She is now one day older than yesterday.  We are planning to visit the Calaveras Big Trees State Park.  We had our choice of the following trails after we arrived: The North Grove Trail, the Three Senses Trail, Grove Overlook Trail, and the River Trail.  We choose the North Grove Trail and it was beautiful.  As soon as I approached the Big Stump my minds memory flashed back to a time when I walked this trail with my mother.  It was a long time ago but my mind was playing tricks with me.  I could see my mother walking ahead of me turning and telling me to hurry and catch up with her.  I am surprised at how much the Trail has not changed but I know that it was a long time ago that I walked with my mom.  It is a pleasant memory and for a short time I am back in time walking with mom.

Marti and I talk and walk the North Grove Trail.  Along the way we stop and take photos.  We see the giant sequoias and are impressed not just by the size of the trees but their beauty and majestic stature. We walk, talk and read about the trees and the forest that is all around.  There are not only the giant sequoias, but a mix of trees made up the conifer forest.  We see Sugar Pine, Pacific Yew, White Fir, Incense Cedar and lots of Ponderosa Pine trees.  We notice the Mountain Dogwood and Hazelnut bushes that provide food for the squirrels and chipmunks.

It is much too difficult to view the tops of the giant sequoias. But due to storms branches the size of normal trees can be seen where they have fallen to the ground.  As we walk we see the effects of a resent storm.  The forest floor is littered with pine cones, branches, twigs and other forest litter that lies where it fell during the storm.  We see areas where the sun cannot reach and snow still sits from the only snow fall earlier this year.

We complete the walk seeing twenty-five of the twenty-six sites. This was because we took a short cut and missed number sixteen.  We leave the park and drive up to the small city of Dorrington California.  We u-turn and head back to Arnold.  I want to find a WiFi area where I can hook up to the internet and download my e-mail.  I also need to send a few e-mail messages.  We find a small local coffee shop and order hot chocolate and two sandwiches.  After connecting and eating we return to the cabin and the company of David and Jessica.  Relaxing inside the cabin we talk and enjoy the beauty of our surroundings.  We are comfortable with each other and there is no need to entertain each other.


Posted 3/1/2012

Memories and Today’s Events


As I drove off highway four into the Blue Lake Springs road my memories started.  I could see my mother walking along the road looking at the trees.  Just before arriving at the cabin I looked up and could see my father waving to us from the deck as we pulled into the drive way.  Getting out of the car I could hear my mother yelling down to me to come up and give her a kiss.  My dad would just look at me and ask what happened?  Based on his calculations I should have arrived thirty minutes ago.  Gosh it was a time for my mind to wander into my past.  I could remember assisting my dad. I would clean up the pine needles, split logs, and assist him with little tasks just about anything he asked of me.  Sometimes the weather would save me from completing a task and I remember thanking God.

I remembered trips into Arnold to pick up items my dad needed.  Running errands my mother requested of me.  I remember going to church with my mom and a little more often with my dad.  I realize just how much I miss both my mom and dad.  Then the memories of the times Monica and I visited the cabin.  The times Monica and I brought the girls, we would walk the trails in the Calaveras Big Trees State Park, drive to the Historic Columbia State Park, explore Arnold, Avery, Angels Camp and Murphy.  I remember the time my three ladies visited the caves and after a long time returned to tell me all about their adventure.  My head was spinning with all the memories.  I again felt the loss of my mother, father and wife Monica wishing for just one more time to tell them all that I love and miss them dearly.

Back to the present time I am grateful that Marti is by my side.  She is a wonderful partner and the woman I love.  We parked my car in the driveway unpacked and entered the cabin for the first time in over fifteen years.  So much inside the cabin looked the same and so much looked different.  I could see my sister Jessica’s touch on the newly painted walls, art objects, and redecorated rooms.  The cabin was elegant; it took you out of the wood forest and into an area of luxury and peacefulness.  Jessica quickly started the Timberline wood burning heater and took the chill out of the cabin.  After placing items into their proper place; we all settled into the sofas in the family room and relaxed.  I could feel the stress leave each person and float out of the cabin.  We talked and laughed about various things but the best was seeing everyone fully relaxed.  Time passed and the next thing I knew it was time for a light dinner.  Jessica had brought her home made Italian soup and with most of us just a little hungry after our great lunch the soup hit the spot.  What a wonderful day.

The Swanson Family Cabin – for Marti’s birthday

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We stopped and parked in Murphy California and browsed the main street with its multiple shops.  We purchased some candy for later that evening and enjoyed the other unique items discovered in the shops.  The time was approaching half pass twelve as we arrived at the restaurant Alchemy.  We entered and were quickly seated at a table.  No sooner had we ordered our drinks when Jess and David entered.  They joined us at our table and we reviewed the menu for our lunch.  We all ordered and then talked and laughed until our lunch arrived. Well I have to let you know.  I was not expecting something great for lunch because we were in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and this year the snow is not very good.  Without snow visitors become sparse and the owners try to improve profits by reducing cost and waste.

With that in my mind I ordered a hamburger, David ordered the special of the day a chicken quesadilla, and both of the girls ordered a pizza with artichoke and chicken.  With the arrival of our lunch my fears were set aside and I could see and smell the quality of the food.  As we all started to enjoy our lunch you could see the satisfaction on our faces.  The food not only looked and smelled great it was a joy to our taste buds. We ate our lunch and shared bites with each other.  Happy and full we left Murphy’s for the last leg of our journey to the Swanson Family Cabin in the Blue Lake Springs Area of Arnold.

We arrived at the cabin and my memory jumped into hyper drive.  I started to remember so much about the cabin.  Just to let you know, the lot in Blue Lake Springs was owned by David’s father.  It was just a lot without any improvements when David approached his father and asked to purchase the lot.  They came to an agreement and the lot ownership transferred to David and Jessica.  A little later in that same year David and Jessica were talking to Mom and Dad about the lot and their plans to build a cabin.  In that conversation Frank and Rose Giudicessi (Dad and Mom) explained that building a cabin was a dream they shared.  The more they talked the more it sounded like this could be a joint venture with Mom and Dad and David and Jessica.  Together David and Dad built the cabin on the lot in Blue Lake Springs located in the city of Arnold.  The cabin was completed in 1979 just a little over one year after the discussion occurred.  David, Jessica, Frank and Rose dream of a cabin became a reality for all to enjoy.

The cabin has a deck that borders two sides of the cabin.  The exterior of the cabin has a rustic look that fits well into its surrounding of forest trees.  Entering the cabin you first see a small room with hooks, a small bench, a washer and dryer.  If it was cold with snow on the ground you would hang up your heavy coat, remove your boots and depart the small room.  As you enter the home dry and warm you walk through the kitchen area.  Next is a beautiful dining area.  The family area has a timberline wood stove and a wonderful entertainment center.  Two bedrooms and a bathroom complete the first floor of the cabin.  The second floor contains a storage area, bathroom, two bedrooms, and a rumpus room for the children.  The inside of the cabin is anything but rustic.

Dad and David did a wonderful job building this cabin in the woods.  There were a few times when my father and I went to the cabin.  Anytime dad was at the cabin he always had some kind of task or project that he wanted to work on or complete.  Mom on the other hand just enjoyed cleaning and rearranging items inside the cabin.  Her most favorite times were spring and fall.  Fall was her special time and she would walk down the road and view the trees with their fall colors.  Mon always loved the way the leaves on the trees change colors.  She always felt that the trees in Iowa looked much more beautiful than the trees in Arnold during the fall months.  After taking my trip to the northeast United States in the fall of 2011 proved to me that my mother’s feeling about the leaves were correct.


Marti’s Birthday Month – February

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This event took place earlier this month but writing and proofing takes me time to complete.  I also have photos for when we visited the trees.  This story is a little long so it will take days to complete.

Marlen’s Birthday February 2012

We have plans for Marti’s birthday.  We are going to join my sister Jessica and her husband David in the California gold country.  Our first stop will be the small city of Murphy California.  The city of Murphy is located on the California highway 4.  It is east of California highway 49 and west of Arnold on highway 4.  We will only be in Murphy for a short time.  It will be our meeting place and a place to enjoy lunch on this first day of the trip.  My sister Jessica is bringing some homemade soup for us to enjoy for dinner.

With Jessica bringing soup I decided to bring some bread.  I went shopping on Thursday and was able to pick up some bread rolls from Gail’s Bakery.  I also stopped by a liquor store and picked up some beer and wine for the trip.  Next I went to my favorite produce place and pick out some fresh berries to bring along.  Finally I stopped at The Farm and selected one of their fruit tarts.  I was sure that the berries could be used for snacks, and the tart would be excellent as a desert or breakfast treat.  With my shopping completed I went home to pack for my trip on Friday.

Friday morning arrived and after departing my bed; I brushed my teeth, showered, shaved and combed my hair.  Refreshed I dressed and started to load the car.  Marti soon joined me and we were ready to start the drive to Murphy.  The drive to Murphy was expected to last around three and one half hours so we left our home and started the journey.  Heading south down highway one we continued until we started heading east on highway 129.  Approaching highway 101 we departed highway 129 and headed north on highway 101 until we connected on to highway 152.  Eastward  we passed the great San Louis Reservoir and continued east until we reached highway 165 and our direction changed to northeast.  This highway took us through the beautiful Wildlife Refuge and it was the first time I saw such an abundance of wild ducks.  Changing direction to north we turned onto highway 99 looking for highway number four. My mileage indicator was over 160 miles when we reached the turnoff for highway number four.  Heading east on a two lane highway we were anticipating our arrival time to be noon.  Murphy was a little more busy than normal.  However, we found a place to park the car and took a stroll through the town.