It's How You Look At It

There are always two ways to look at things- negatively or positively. As Steve and I sat in traffic heading into South Lake Tahoe, that fact became quite evident. Wow.

The sign before heading up the mountain stated, "Placerville 17 minutes. South Lake Tahoe 141 minutes." I thought I must have misread that and didn't give it another thought until we were literally parked, along with hundreds (thousands) of others heading to our idyllic Sierra village. The entire trip was 2 1/2 hours longer than it has ever been. Craziness.

We chose to look at the chaos as a positive thing. All these tourists were coming to our town, to boost the economy and tell others how awesome Tahoe is. In addition, we had a pretty sweet mountain cabin as our ultimate destination. So we sat back, listened to tunes, texted friends and enjoyed the ride... ever so slowly.

Happy Almost New Year from us, happily in Tahoe. I hope it's a positive one!

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Reading & Seeing...

When Steve and I were in LA last month, we stumbled upon the Central Library and an exhibit of collections. One of my favorite was Tom Hanks' typewriters. I learned that he had written a book and I'm currently in love with it and Mr. Hanks' writing style.

This novel, Uncommon Type, is a collection of 17 short stories with the only common thread being a typewriter. This is just my type of book!
It has been ages since we've gone to the movies. Santa Rosa has a fabulous $3.75 seat anytime theater so Steve and I strolled, from our airbnb, to Downtown to see Bohemian Rhapsody at 3rd Street Cinemas 6. Oh man, it is several days later and this film is still haunting me, in a good way. My first concert ever was Queen, July 12, 1980 at the Los Angeles Forum. Wow. According to, this amazing band played 23 songs with four encores. All I remember is that it was awesome and I couldn't have picked a better "first".

The film is a touching and informative history lesson on the band with the most focus being on the talented and lost lead singer, Freddy Mercury. I wish I knew then what I know now. Wow.

I fully recommend what I'm reading and seeing. Fun stuff.

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Calistoga... Such History

We enjoy revisiting some places from our travels and Calistoga is one such spot. The first American settlers began arriving in the 1840s, with several taking up lands in the Calistoga area. Samuel Brannan was the leader of a settlement expedition on the ship Brooklyn landing in Yerba Buena (what would become San Francisco) in 1846.

Sam Brannan purchased 2000 acres in 1885 to develop a spa reminiscent of Saratoga, New York. His resort opened to California’s rich and famous in 1862. With the completion of the railroad in 1868, Calistoga became not only a destination but the transportation hub for the upper Napa Valley.
To learn even more about this historic area, we revisited the Sharpsteen Museum, a must-see destination created by Walt Disney animator and producer, Ben Sharpsteen. This award-winning museum features dioramas, artifacts, antiques and exhibits designed by Ben and his team of highly creative artists dedicated to making history fun and educational for adults and children alike.
"Explore the artistry and vision that Ben Sharpsteen and his many talented designers put into this incredible museum. Paintings on every wall and around every corner feel like you could walk right into the scenes of yesterday. See an actual light table used by Ben to create Disney animation page by page. Don’t miss a ‘real Oscar’, one of 11 won by Ben during his 30-years with Disney. Ben’s creative talent is everywhere!"
When Ben Sharpsteen joined The Walt Disney Studios in 1929, he quickly became Walt’s right-hand man for animated and live-action film production. As Walt once wrote, “Concerning Ben Sharpsteen and his contributions to the development of the Disney organization, I want to say he played a very important part.”

 Kendall “Ken” O’Connor, a Disney layout artist and art director, helped create the extensive, highly detailed yet whimsical 30-foot diorama known world-wide, which offers a glimpse of 1860s Calistoga and its Hot Springs Resort developed by Sam Brannan, California's first millionaire and the founder of Calistoga. So dang cool.

I found this display about Lovina Graves and John Cyrus very interesting. Both of them were survivors of the Donner Party and this was John's trunk of treasures. After her rescue, Lovina attended school in San Jose, but spent her adult life in Calistoga. Her husband, John Cyrus, was also a veteran of Hastings Cutoff. According to a story passed down in his family, the Cyruses crossed the summit just ahead of the Donner Party.
All the other museum treasures delighted and informed.

Our last of our history lesson occured as we walked into an authentic Sam Brannan Cottage. One of three surviving cottages from the original Hot Springs Resort, this historic landmark (#675) was moved and fully restored and now adjoins the museum as a permanent exhibit. Inside are authentic vintage furnishings as they would have been seen in Napa Valley parlors and homes of the late 1800s.
I will never tire of the intrigue of a hair wreath. As family members died, hair was saved in a “hair receiver.” When enough was accumulated, the hair was fashioned into flowers and leaves by twisting and sewing it around shaped wire forms. So dang weird and cool, simultaneously.
We had to explore this place just due to its vintage vibe. Serving customers for over 62 years, Dr. Wilkinson's Hot Springs Resort is a wine country icon. Dr. Wilkinson's was founded in 1952 by John "Doc" and Edy Wilkinson. Doc was interested in alternative health and relaxation from the days of his early childhood in the San Joaquin Valley of California. He studied chiropractic, visited Calistoga, and fell in love with the healing qualities that Calistoga's natural assets provided. Since Doc and Edy Wilkinson opened the resort, the Wilkinson family has continued to upgrade, without risking the genuine and real qualities of their original vision. Although both founders have passed away, their children Carolynne and Mark continue to maintain the unique quality traditions of their parents and have been co-managers of the resort for over 35 years. Next time we'll plan to stay and frolic in the mud baths... just to see what all this Calistoga hubbub is about.
This was our Santa Rosa home for three nights. It was a perfect spot from which to visit family and explore the environs.

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The Hand Fan Museum...

A special find in Healdsburg is surprisingly interesting and the only hand fan museum in America (one of only four of its kind in the world). Small yet captivating.

The Hand Fan Museum maintains its purpose “to provide educational and cultural enrichment to the public by utilizing the hand fan as a vehicle for teaching history, art and geography, via publications, lectures and the establishment of a museum where actual hand fans from around the world will be exhibited.”
"Every society has used a hand fan of some sort. From palm fronds to feathers-from beautifully painted works of art to jewel encrusted, gold plated objects of incredible value. Fans were used in fashion, religion, battle and ceremony. Why there is even a language devoted exclusively to the hand fan! Fans tell the stories and histories of the cultures and individuals who used them. Art, culture, geography and history - all in the palm of your hand."
This is the oldest fan in the exhibit. This one, from Italy, is circa 1690.
From the sixteenth century up to the late 1800s throughout the whole of Europe, the dress of no fashionable lady en grande tenue appears to have been complete without the addition of a fan.  So prominent a part has this little “modish machine" played in intrigue, love, and scandal that it has been aptly termed "the woman's scepter." Invitations were given by it, assignations were made; a gracious furl encouraged the lover; a disdainful furl plunged him into despair. To read aright this language became a necessity in the education of all fine gallants, who must know how to understand each movement and interpret each flutter.

Most hand fans can be categorized as either non-folding or folding. The "fixed" or "flat" variety originated first and was often composed of such materials as feathers, woven plant materials, stretched skins or fabrics.

Fixed fans, which often resemble ping-pong paddles, are still produced today. Now usually made of paper, cardboard, or plastic, fixed fans are inexpensive to manufacture, and their flat surfaces make them ideal advertising or souvenir pieces. Vintage and antique specimens bearing images of animals, famous persons or locations, companies, etc., are all avidly sought after by collectors. This museum had an impressive collection. What fun!
This museum confirms my belief that all towns, no matter how small, house treasures. You just need to explore to discover them.

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We decided to explore some of the local, smaller towns. We've been to them all before, but each have delighted and demanded a repeat visit.

Harmon Heald founded this town in 1857. We loved all the cute it has going on 161 years later.

The biggest "wow" came from this $75 per 1/2 pound ham. Cinco Jotas acorn-fed ibérico ham is Spain's national treasure. It's an unrivalled product obtained from the rear legs of ibérico pigs raised free range in the meadows of south-west Spain.
A favorite meandering spot is Modern Antiquarium. This vintage, and antique, collective is comprised of 35 vendors offering a changing array of incredible and often one-of-a-kind items. It truly is like a museum and we find such cool stuff everytime we come.
Love this mail scale and stamp dispenser.
How about this hot dog bun baking sheet?

Being a Disneyland fan, I was excited by this postcard, published by Upjohn Pharmacy. What an interesting history, and worth the read. Many real businesses were part of the Park when it opened in 1955. Wow.
Leaving Healdsburg, the countryside was painted in yellow. It's hard to believe it's the end of December.

  “We were meant to explore this earth like children do,
unhindered by fear, propelled by curiosity
and a sense of discovery.
Allow yourself to see the world through new eyes
and know there are amazing adventures here for you.”
-Laurel Bleadon Maffei

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Christmas Day...

Our sons have married into amazing families. Their in-laws are wonderful people who we consider to be our friends. It is exceptionally fun when all parents gather for the holidays. Today was fantastic.

There were 11 of us! We hope your holiday was unforgettable.

"Christmas is all about love, family and children.
It doesn’t matter what we eat or what presents we get
as long as the holidays are spent with loved ones.
Happy, happy, happy Christmas."

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