Monday, November 2, 2009

Go, Grammy, Go!

Today Gram returned to her exercise group. They said it had been an absence of two years. There were still a few souls who remembered her. (All photos are reenactments.)

It took about 15 minutes to drive way out Olive to the new Nazarene church building, but it was easy to find the "gym" we'd been told housed the exercise group. There was a stream of people with weighted cloth bags scurrying from the parking lot into the building.

Inside the big gymnasium, chairs were set out, well space, most with a set of small barbells and a stretchy band laid out on them. This is the way these mighty seniors stake their claim. We found two adjacent chairs in the front row (with the help of a couple regulars).

There were about 50 people there this morning. All apparently had been successful in resetting their clocks over the weekend. We started with a brief social time, where Grace was welcomed back and Polly introduced herself. Then the work out started.

Group members took turns leading sets of related exercises. Gram kept up with the leaders, and Polly tried to figure out what to do next, and to not kick or hit the woman next to her. We worked on every part of the body, from the neck to the feet. It was a good workout.

We hurried right home after to get a hearty snack, although Gram suggested stopping to visit a friend, Kay Griggs Young.
Maybe next time, when we've planned better. We were gone about and hour and a half. We want to go earlier on Wednesday so we have more time to visit.

When we got home, we warmed up some soup and had it with an apple and crackers. Here is the short recipe for this easy, very nutritious soup.

Sweet potatoes or yams
Onion, red or yellow
Ginger root
Lemon, lime or orange juice about 1 scant teaspoon to 1 cup veggies or to taste
Fat free 1/2 & 1/2
Protein powder (like the body builders use)

Peel and cut veggies coarsely, almost cover with broth, and boil until very tender. Puree with hand blender or food processor. Add FF 1/2 & 1/2 till it's the desired consistency. Mix in protein powder and serve. I've been adding protein powder to individual servings, about a tablespoon per serving, and we have about half a cup at a time. This is a good snack to just drink from a mug. Yummy! Not very strongly flavored; add seasonings as you want.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Haunting of Rocky Hill

Although some may feel the most fearsome ghosts on Rocky Hill are the Ghosts of Vehicles Past, this is becoming a highly controversial claim, as the evidence for more organic phantoms mounts. This Halloween we explore some of the possible sources of the many unexplained occurances surrounding this east-of-Porterville enclave. Could it be those gunshots you hear are from another plane?

* All stories are to the best of Grolly's memory, and pretty much from unknown sources. We make no claim of authenticity or fact. If you know something different, please correct us in a comment.


Long before the Tulare County Sportsman's Association blasted away rock outcroppings to build their monumental indoor target range, Rocky Hill was sacred, or at least used, land to the local aboriginal population. There are even reports of a student dig of Indian Burial Grounds near the Powell property line. Could it be that these spirits were unhappy at being disturbed, their graves looted by UCLA?* Could it be that they still restlessly roam the hillside, especially on Halloween?

There is no question that ancient pictographs can still be found on the hill, along with some more recent ones. Amazingly, the one below features the space shuttle, the cabbage patch dance and George W. Bush, proving the clairvoyant powers of the Yokuts Indians.


One story I remember well, but was completely unable to substantiate, was of a nasty character, who fled to Rocky Hill after a robbing and shooting spree. Friends brought him supplies to hide out, but someone eventually ratted him out -- as will happen. After a pitched gun battle,
he was shot by a local possey.

This may have been part of the true tale of Jim McKinney, a well-known drunk, often unrestrained by local customs or laws, who went berserk in Porterville in 1902, killing several men and reportedly shooting the lawman of the town through both cheeks. McKinney, however, was not gunned down on Rocky Hill, but years later in Bakersfield. His ghost, however, still hangs out at Rocky Hill, looking for any descendants of the Zalaud's, owners of the saloon that got him drunk before his rampage.

One really creepy feature of Rocky Hill is the old granite quarry east of the Powell compound. Here granite blocks were cut for most of the early building in Porterville, at least the ones meant to last. Over the years the abandoned pit filled with water, beckoning to kids to take a dip on one of our incredibly hot summer days. But the sides were sheer vertical granite, impossible to climb without a rope or some hand-holds.

The legend in the 1970's was about some boys who ditched school at nearby Alta Vista on a warm spring day and walked to the quarry for a quick dip. They got tired in the water, but not all of them could make it out. I heard that one boy got his pants caught on a piece of submerged equipment and couldn't get it loose, but also that one just wasn't able to make it out.

What was certain was that at least one boy drowned. The other boys, afraid of the punishment they'd receive for skipping school, didn't tell anyone what happened. By the time the tragedy was discovered, there was no way to get the body out.

He floats there still.

A shroud of snow here blankets the hilltops beyond the haunted quarry.


The 21st century has welcomed a newer ghost to Rocky Hill. If you do an internet search, you can read about a haunted homesite, once home to some of the closest neighbors of the Powells of Rocky Hill. The Tray family bought an outcrop of Rocky Hill and built a large modern home with a commanding view. But it wasn't long before the parents both died and the house was left to their son, Ed.

Ed was a flashy personality, a reputed drug dealer (or a drug dealer of much repute, I forget), driving around in a series of red convertibles. He once came to a yard sale we were having at the gate, picked out a child's toy and a book for a total bill of around 65 cents, and paid Sue with a hundred dollar bill, thus involving her in an elaborate scheme to launder drug money.

In the late 1990's someone got tired of Eddie's wild ways. He was found murdered on his property. Because you might be a small child, I won't list all the gory details here, but you can find graphic descriptions, and some truth, at the Strange USA website. Wild stories have spread about involvement in the murder of everyone from the KKK to black gang members to powerful local political interests. If only some family member would have an interest in true crime books and could write the final chapter in this story.

The final act in this haunting drama was the building of a high school very near the Tray homesite. Now it is not only accessible, but temptingly near hundreds of curious teenagers. Reports of ghoulish laughter and other scariness have been posted on the internet.


How would you feel about a vehicle that took on a life of its own and ran over its owner, killing him at the very gates to his own home? Spooky? Haunting? The stuff a chilling horror novel might be made of? Or what actually happened recently to Rocky Hill neighbor Aaron Buffington?

Watch out for a spook coming to a hill near you -- or us.


There are spirits on this hill, friendly benevolent spirits. We are all watched over by Chagne, the little white terrier, who, as she did in life, keeps us safe from rattlesnake bites and baby kittens.
As in this rare spectral photo of Chag and her mechanical companion, the White VW, she patrols each night as we sleep, as her effigy watches over Gram's dollhouse from her perch on the giant king-size miniature bed.

And, of course, Father's spirit guides and guards us all from his final rest on his hill, where he lived, laughed and loved. We miss you Father, and we continue to feel your loving presence here.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Spring on Rocky Hill?

Polly came home to a wonderful surprise: spring is on its way!

Every year, when the temperature drops and the first precious drops of rain fall (we've had more than 1/2 inch in October!), the brittle golden fields are taken over by tiny shoots of next year's grasses. At first you barely notice it, unless the pasture is grazed clean, but soon dried stalks are pushed away to make way for the unbelievable growth of the lush green ground cover. It always seems like it comes over night.This year it came while I was out of town. So here are the fall colors of the Central Valley. Hope you're enjoying your hometown, no matter what this season brings you.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

WasThe Honeymoon Over So Soon?

Well, Grolly survived the first separation of any length since out melding in late July. Polly went to Oregon and Washington to experience fall, and Gram held down the fort and entertained some guests. Polly, Phillip and Abby set off on Oct. 14 for the Mena home. After a little skidding on I-5 right past the Oregon border, they arrived under cover of darkness.

Here the car, Dusty, is held securely in place on the runaway truck ramp after hitting black ice. If you're ever in Ashlan, we highly recommend Allstar 24-Hour Towing.

The next morning the Pacific Northwest came through, putting on a brilliant display of color. I think it was one of the best falls I've seen there, and I got to enjoy it fully -- including a trip down the Columbia on a paddle-wheel steamer.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, Gram was entertaining Gale. When Gale needed to return to Sonora, Gram hosted Beth and the Boys on their Valley Tour. It was workie-time on Rocky Hill, with Gram much appreciative of all Tina, George, Gale and Beth were able to accomplish to make her life more comfortable.

Polly got back on the 27th of October, and the next post may feature the spring-like look that had taken over in Porterville in her absence.

It's so good to see family and friends. The time always passes too quickly, but we take away memories and renewed confidence and energy. Thank you to everyone for standing by us both.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Workey Days

It was another hot dry weekend in Porterville -- perfect conditions for some heavy outdoor work, or for sitting on the stoop moving the jawbone.

Sunday George and Tina were up at Grams early in the morning to do some much needed work on trees and bushes.

Monday Phillip came for a general work day, mostly helping Polly move her overflow into a rented storage building. Neighbor Jim Day brought his red truck and helpful nature, too. We got a lot done, and it was nice to see all our neighbors and kin!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thursday doings

Hey Everyone! Polly's move is complete, but she's still disorganized. We've been wanting to get going with blogging now that high-speed internet has been activated. Instead of doing a re-cap of the last two months, we're just going to jump right in with a post about yesterday like we'd been blogging all along.

On Thursday, 9/17, Gram got a nice note from granddaughter Natalie with a very appropriate Bible verse: From Joshua 1:9

"I command you; be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Aging takes a lot of courage, you betcha!

We also had a visit from Gale on her way to Santa Maria to see Allison and Cari and their families. Cari had come to move the dollhouse Gram built in 1981 on August 23. This is a photo of her and daughter Cailly lifting it from its base. Great to see you Gale and to catch up on your news.

Gram and Polly went to the monthly meeting of the United Methodist Women at Gram's church. It was a small group -- less than 15 people. Big talk about the upcoming bazaar. We'll be baking four pies! When we can, we go visit a group of women working on bazaar crafts on Wednesday mornings.

We sat next to Gram's friend Luellen White, and she gave us some great advice about eating to manage Gram's hypoglycemia. Also, from the internet, we got some information about how sodium helps sustain sugar levels and a fiber supplement may be helpful. They encouraged trying to identify specific foods that seem to trigger hypoglycemic episodes. This is an interesting way to look at what eating might be problematic in general. We've been talking this morning about when Gram consistently has episodes: late afternoon/early evening. I can focus now on what we can do better in the afternoon. Do you have any good tips for managing blood sugar?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

More Sept. 5, 2009

Taking a rest at sitting rock.
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