Moving slowly into the 21st Century with blogging and digital cameras, I will endeavor to share my recent trip to France and Italy.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Eleven years olds, Jeff Brown and Judy Fuji were best friends.  They lived in a small rural town in Northern California. Both of their families had apple orchards. The orchards were next to each other. Jeff had a ruddy complexion, brown hair and blue eyes. Judy had an olive skin tone, with black hair (she wore it in long pigtails) and brown eyes. 
Every school day, as in many rural farm areas, children took a bus to school.  Judy left her house early in the morning to meet up with Jeff. They walked down the oak and aspen tree lined road to the highway to the bus stop.  Occasionally they saw huge jackrabbits scampering between the trees. There were rumors of an albino deer, but they hadn’t encountered it yet.  Birds abounded.  Robins, Blue Jays, Downing Woodpeckers, Sparrows, Finches or Dark Eyed Juncos.  Wild turkeys hurried away when the children came near.  Each year between mid October and February, The Monarch Butterflies stopped by during their migration to Southern California.
Speaking of birds, we must include the northwestern mockingbird. However, this bird nested in the oak tree outside of Bob Brown’s window (Jeff’s dad).   Most of the sounds of the birds we previously mentioned usually occurred in late April to mid-May, but after midnight the mockingbird persisted in vocalizing every other bird call he had heard that day all night long.  Finally Jeff's Mom resorted to buying earplugs for him. Ear plugs because Bob Brown had become so irritable after losing his sleep, no one wished to be around him.
On their walk to the school bus pickup each school day, spectacular wild flowers on the old road were in abundance. Lupine, Azaleas, Skunk Cabbages, Columbia Lilies, and Bleeding Hearts.  Jeff and Judy’s school, Oakridge Elementary, was five miles away. Both children were in Mrs. Sachs’ 6th grade class.


Besides apple orchards, the Brown and Fuji families both had vegetable gardens.  Mrs. Fuji grew cabbages, bush beans, tomatoes, carrots, peas, corn, eggplant, potatoes, pumpkins, watermelons and onions in her garden.
One day Jeff and Judy were picking tomatoes for Mrs. Fuji.  When Jeff’s basket was full he threw a tomato at Judy. She retaliated by throwing a tomato at him. The tomatoes were large ripe Beef Steaks.  The children didn’t stop throwing tomatoes until damaged fruit was all over the garden, and both children were covered in tomato slime.
When Mrs. Fuji came home and saw her garden in such distress, and both of the children’s clothes in a mess, she was not happy.  Jeff was sent right home.  Mrs. Fuji called Mrs. Brown to let her know about this escapade.  Mrs. Brown put Jeff on restrictions for two weeks.
The next day while they were waiting for the school bus, Judy said, “Jeff did your Mother put you on restrictions?” “Yes, we can’t play together, plus I’m not allowed to use my computer for two whole weeks.” 
Judy loved to sing. One of her favorite times in Mrs. Sach’s class was singing. Judy sang Alto. However, she wished to sing descant. The descants in the class were able to sing high over the other voices. Jeff liked the art period.  He especially liked building his diorama out of plaster and painting it. His diorama was of a volcano erupting.  Mrs. Sachs’ hung all of the dioramas in the main hall of the school for everyone to see.

After school one day, Judy thought, “I just have to have a chocolate bar.” She decided to walk the mile to the fruit stand next to the bus stop.
Judy thought she would be back home before her mother returned from the apple processing building.  Unfortunately, she didn’t leave a note for her mother. Moreover, she had asked Jeff to go with her.  They returned home just as the sun was going down.  Judy was sent to her room and put on restrictions.  The next day at school Judy was with a group of her friends in the cafeteria. Jeff saw her and went over. “Judy what kind of restriction are you on?” “No T.V. and I can’t see you for play days after school and weekends for two weeks. 


The best thing about living in the middle of an apple orchard is the smell of the earth, and the rustle of leaves from the rows and rows of fruit trees. 
The children had little time for play except on school holidays, or during the summer months.  When school was out of session in the summer they attended music camp for two weeks in Mendocino.  Jeff played drums and Judy played the violin.
Judy studied violin privately once a week with Mr. Brickman at his studio.  She loved going to her lessons.  Mr. Brickman was born in Vienna, and came to the United States in 1940.  He was an old school musician and some folks said he was an eccentric. One reason for calling him an eccentric was his clock collection. His studio was in the basement of his family home. When you entered the door you were in the waiting room. The room was filled with clocks. The clocks from Germany with little birds popping out on the half hour and the hour with the sound of a cuckoo bird. The Swiss clocks with pendulums swinging back and forth put on quite a performance while music floated out from the lessons.  There was a train clock with train whistles telling you the time, and the bird clock with a different bird tweet every half hour and hour. There was also a sundial in Mr. Brickman’s front yard. Judy loved this experience each week.
Judy looked forward to visiting the violin repair shop.  It was situated in town in an old Victorian house. The house sported the sign . . . J.N. Ashow[1]Violin Maker and Repairs.  The shop 
was located on Grove Street.  As soon as Judy opened the door and entered, a little bell rang to announce her.  She was immediately aware of the wonderful scents from the collection of hanging violins, violas, cellos and bass violins.  The many instruments shared the fragrance of their protective oils mingled with the smell of the rosin on the bows. All of this combined to create a lovely musty aura.
On the walls surrounding this clutter hung framed, personally signed, 8 x 10 black and white photographs. These were pictures of the now famousand the former famous string players.  These musicians trusted J.N. Ashow with their valuedinstruments forrepair and adjustments.  When they came to the San Francisco Bay area to perform. One of the first stops for string musicians was J.N. Ashow to get their instruments checked. The pictures included Fritz Kreisler, Yehudi Menuhin, Isaac Stern, Nathan Millstein, Efrim Zimbalist, and other string-playing luminaries of their day.
Judy knew Mrs. Ashow very well because she made frequent trips to the shop using any excuse she could muster. Mrs. Ashow came to Judy’s recitals, and there was always a chance to discuss the music program if there were no other customers at the shop.  Judy would get string replacements, rosin, a tuning fork, bridge adjustments, or get her bow re-haired. She actually ran into a wall on the way to the stage for a performance and broke her bow in three places one evening. Lucky for her, John, the violin repairman was able to mend her bow when she took it in. Whew!
One afternoon Mrs. Aschow opened the violin safe and showed Judy an Amati violin. She invited Judy to play it. Judy was amazed at the sound. The design of an Amati is unique. A portion belly under the bridge is raised. The violin Judy played was actually a copy.  She always wondered what it would be like to play on an original.
Because Jeff played drums he was able to play in both the orchestra and the band.   


The Brown and Fuji families spent summer vacations at Lake Almanor.  Lake Almanor is located near the North Fork of the Feather River. The lake was named after Gary C. Earl’s daughters: Alice, Martha and Eleanor. Earl was the Vice-President of Great Western Power at one time.  
The children liked to swim, look for arrowheads, and fish for trout.  One day Jeff caught six trout. He was exhilarated. However, Mr. Brown boasted about catching a Black Bullhead so loudly, Jeff didn’t brag about his catch very much.
On warm starry nights, the two families liked sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows, and hearing ghost stories from Mr. Fuji.  His stories were called Kawaidann a name for Japanese Ghost Stories.

The Browns had one horse, named Red, a Gelding, and one Llama called Herb.  Both animals were comfortable with each other and were friends in the barn and fenced area. Sometimes, when the weather was extremely warm, Mr. Brown filled a kitty pool with water for Herb to cool off.
One day Mr. Ibrahim, the Brown’s Farrier[2]came to take care of Red’s hooves. Red who was usually calm when the farrier came (his hooves felt much better after each visit), but this tine, for some reason Red reared up and knocked Mr. Ibrahim back on his butte! Mrs. Brown saw this and ran to see if Mr. Ibrahim was all right. He just laughed, dusted himself off and gave Red two gentle pats on his right flank.  

Besides his being a companion for Red, Herb was used as a guardian, and for his beautiful wool.  Mr. Brown sheared him once a year. Cho-Cho-san the calico cat hung out with them, and some times Chang the Collie visited.
Mrs. Fuji had chickens that lived in a beautiful chicken coup at the far end of their garden.  The hens were quite accommodating by layingfresh eggs everyday. Mrs. Fuji gathered the eggs early every morning.
Her hens were long tailed Phoenix[3], a German breed derived for the Japanese Onagadori.  She had one rooster.  Everyone called the rooster Fred.
Mrs. Fuji sold some of the eggs at the roadside vegetable stand.  However, she gave fresh eggs to Mrs. Brown everyday.  Judy would carry the eggs over to the Browns on her way to school.  Mrs. Fuji would place one dozen in a brown paper bag where the eggs were first placed carefully in a recycled egg carton


In the autumn the green grass turned to brown and yellow, and it was dry and slick. This made the hill behind the orchards perfect for sledding. Jeff and Judy took cardboard boxes up the hill, opened the boxes flat and sat on them to slide down the hill. They did this over and over for hours. They laughed uproariously when one of them slid off of the cardboard and rolled down the hill.
Acorn Creek was located at the bottom of the hill. In the rainy season the creek became almost three feet deep. Mr. Brown and Mr. Fuji had thrown a rope over the enormous oak tree, and at the bottom of the rope they secured a rag rope seat. Jeff and Judy loved to wrap their legs around the swing, hold on tight to the rope, and swing across the creek to the other side.  In the summer they landed right in the creek.
The creek was lined with many small boulders, some of the boulders collecting moss. The children discovered some harmless baby snakes and some frogs. They collected them, along with some butterflies, and took them to school for a science day.


At harvest time, Jeff’s parents, Bob and Sally, and Judy’s parents Tom and Jean, worked in the orchard along with the hired seasonal workers.
Getting the apples carefully picked and back to the processing building as quickly as possible, without bruising the fruit is crucial.  Weather is also a factor. A sudden rain or extreme frost could damage the valuable fruit crop.
Both the Brown and Fuji families produced an extraordinary Granny Smith apple. Apples are the main source of income for the two families.
The apples are sold to several companies. However, some apples are kept for Mrs. Brown’s prize apple butter, and Mrs. Fuji’s applesauce. They placed an identifying Crest or Mon* and proudly displayed it on the jars.

Mrs. Fuji's Apple sauce

When the fruit was ripe and ready for harvest, in October or early November, Jeff and Judy were expected to do their part by doing household chores.
But, even though there were chores, harvest was an exciting time for the children. First of all the hot summer weather was gone, and now the morning air was crisp and cool.  It was fragrant with the smell of drying grass, falling leaves and the odor of fermenting fruit having fallen on the ground.
In their separate houses, during harvest, Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Fuji’s day started early in the morning.  They had large pots of hearty stews starting to slow cook in crock-pots. This food was to be ready for the mid-day meal for both their family and their seasonal workers.  
Both kitchens smelled wonderfully different. The odors from the stews drifted out of the windows and into the air where the wind caught them and collided into an amazing smell.
Jeff’s first responsibility each morning was to put down fresh food and water for Chang the Collie dog.  After a hearty breakfast of bacon, sausage, eggs, pancakes, toast, and juice, cooked by both Mr. and Mrs. Brown, the adults left the house and went outside to their apple orchard where the seasonal workers were already setting up tall ladders, and placing large baskets under each tree to collect the apples.
At the Fuji house, Mrs. Fuji started a large pot of rice in her electric rice cooker.  After she had washed the pearl rice two times, she added water up to the measurement of the first line of her forefinger.  She inserted uncooked Chinese sausages into the raw rice. Later, when the rice was finished cooking, the sausage had cooked too, infusing the rice with a wonderful licorice flavor.  
For breakfast Mrs. Fuji scrambled a dozen eggs and made toast to serve with her homemade applesauce. Judy always drank orange juice while Mr. Fuji preferred two cups of strong black coffee.


One harvest day when their parents had left for the orchard, Judy called Jeff.  While Cho-Cho-san, the Fuji’s Calico[4]sat next to her, purring. “Jeff, I have a great idea for fun today.  After we do our house chores let’s use my Dad’s tools and build two pairs of stilts. Stilts are so much fun; I tried to walk on a pair at my cousin Kenji’s house last summer.“
Jeff liked Judy’s plan.  It gave him energy to wash the pots in the Brown kitchen, and place the dishes in the dishwasher from both the breakfast and his Mom’s stew preparations for the mid-day meal.  He swept the kitchen floor and took out the trash. After he locked up the house, he walked down the path to Judy’s, Chang walking right beside him.
Judy said for them to meet at 10 o’clock, so this would give them at least three hours before the mid-day meal when everyone was expected to attend.  
Judy had asked permission from her Dad to use his tools.  They would need his handsaw, hammer and nails. She promised to leave his shop as spotless as they found it.
Mr. Fuji agreed on one condition. As long as Judy’s older brother, Ben, who was seventeen, supervised.  Mr. Fuji supplied Judy with the specific directions, and enough wood and supplies to make two pairs of fine stilts.  If you would like to do it too here are the directions:
Here is What You Will Need if You Build Stilts:
• Two 2” x 2”s, and one scrap piece of 2” x 4” 
• Two 3” bolts that look sturdy (or 5/16” works) and two 5” bolts of same diameter (make sure they’re all threaded the whole way)
• 4 washers
• 4 wing nuts (make sure they’re the same diameter as the bolts)
• Handsaw
• Drill
• Drill bit (same size as bolts)
• Sandpaper
• Measuring tape
• Pencil
Here’s what you do:
1. Saw the scrap 2” x 4” into an 8”-long chunk. Then cut it diagonally until you have two triangles.
2. Place the triangles against the 2” x 2” so that they look like footrests. See how it works? The thin part of the triangle points toward the bottom, and the thick part forms the footrest. Boom.You’ve got stilts. Well, almost.
3. Drill two holes in each triangle—4” apart. Be precise.
4. Now switch to the 2” x2” and start drilling holes, starting about 3” from the bottom.  Just keep going up, drilling a new hole every 4”. Again, be precise. These holes should match up to the footrest holes as you adjust height. You can drill as many holes as you like. But take note of how high each new hole will make the footrest during later height adjustments, and just stop drilling where you feel comfortable.
5. Line up the footrest triangles to the holes in the 2” x 2”s and insert the bolts, washers, and wing nuts tightening them slightly to the max at first. Just make sure everything is lined up and mostly straight and then tighten to the max.
6. Fit-test them for proper pole height for how high the hand poles should be in relation to how high the footrests are placed, then cut the tops of the 2” x 2”s or to a height you feel comfortable with. Remember, as you get better, you may want to move the footrests higher, so make sure you leave enough of the 2” x 2” for future growth and then saw accordingly.
7. A nice smooth sanding on the wood.
8. Start walking.  You will need a lot of balance help at first. It’s almost like riding a bike: Once you get that balance right, you will be walking all day.
9. Important: Wearing a helmet is suggested as well as adult supervision for your safety.
After the harvest Jeff and Judy asked everyone to watch as they walked on their new stilts.  It was entertaining to watch Jeff and Judy wobbled at first, and then get off to a good walk. Everyone laughed at them.  The adults wished they could walk on stilts too. 
Something else for you to do.  Look up the Fuji Family Mon and the Brown Family Crest by using the Google search engine. Now draw them here.



More Reading about Apples:


Jaynet Long Tagami – The Author
Born and raised in Oakland, California.  Ms. Tagami received her BA in Communication from Mills College.  She resides in Corning, California. 

Arleen Edna Anderson – Illustrator
Born in San Francisco, California. However, until she was in the first grade, Ms. Anderson lived with her Mom and Dad near Sebastopol, CA on an Apple orchard.  Ms. Anderson attended Valley College in Van Nuys CA, and the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena. She now resides in the San Fernando Valley.

Number of Pages: 32
Genre: Juvenile Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Blogspot
Age Range: 8-10 years;
Author: Jaynet Long Tagami
Language: English
Street Date: October 28, 2018

Copyright © 2017 Jaynet Long Tagami
All rights reserved.
ISBN: -13: -19758888 79
ISBN - .0: 1975888871

[1]ASCHOW, John N. Born circa. 1885 Denmark died 1939 Oakland, California USA. Apprenticed in Denmark and later a pupil at the Mittenwald School. Immigrated to the USA and worked for Kohler & Chase before opening a shop in Oakland, California 1906. Later assisted and succeeded by his son, also John, who maintained the business until 1969 when the business was retired. Stradivari, Guarneri, and personal models. Own varnish based on copal and seed-lac. Local woods used. Sometimes imported pre-carved necks. 199instruments recorded, violins, violas, and cellos. Also made bows. Branded: J. N. ASCHOW 1928 No. 196 / J. N. Aschow / Oakland, Cal. U.S.A. [Wenberg]

[2]A Farrier is a specialist in equine hoof care, including the trimming and balancing of horses’ hooves, and the placing of shoes on the hooves, if necessary.
[3]The Phoenix was developed in post World War II Germany.  It was crossed with Onagadori (which is often confused with the Phoenix) and game birds.  The Phoenix was bred to have exceptionally long tails, but not to the extravagant length of the Onagadori.  The male Phoenix, depending on bloodline, can have tails that reach 4-5 feet.  The hens are very broody and lay small tinted eggs.

 Maneki-Neko, or "The beckoning cat" is a symbol whose origins go back to 1870's in Japan. Calicos were seen as a good luck omen and to this day china replicas in various sizes are placed in the entrances of homes and businesses everywhere. This cat is unusual because both arms are up.

[5]Mon(?), also monshō(紋章?), mondokoro(紋所?), and kamon(家紋?), are Japaneseemblems used to decorate and identify an individual or family. While Monis an encompassing term that may refer to any such device, kamonand mondokororefer specifically to emblems used to identify a family. An authoritative mon reference compiles Japan's 241 general categories of mon based on structural resemblance (a single mon can belong to multiple categories), with 5116 distinct individual mon (its is well acknowledged that there exist lost or obscure mon.

[6]FAMILY CRESTS: The devices are similar to the badges and coats of armsin European heraldictradition, which likewise are used to identify individuals and families. Monare often referred to as crestsin Western literature. It is another European heraldic device similar to the Monin function.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Publish or Perish:

Miou Miou

Cover photo credit: Bill Sanders

One day in July, a cat poised on my fence and then it dropped into my backyard. The cat was grey with black and brown stripes along its face and down its back.  It looked sad, and a bit disheveled.

So, right then I decided to put out food and water for her in the back garden.  I assumed it was a female.  She was shy of humans and was quick to run away whenever I approached her.

After about a week I laid the food and water closer to the back porch.  I was feeding her twice a day.

One day I was sitting in one of the rockers on the back porch, and the cat jumped into my lap and started purring.  This was the moment Miou Miou became my cat.

Okay, I good cat owner needs to take their pet for a Veterinary check-up. I borrowed my neighbor’s cat carrier for the Vet appointment. The pet carrier had openings in the front and on the top. I easily placed the Miou Miou in the carrier and put her in the back seat of the Honda.

This day was a three-digit weather day, one hundred degrees. I had all of the windows open in the car.  About one mile from home and two minutes to the Veterinary Clinic, Miou Miou made a big bang with her paws inside the carrier.  Unknown to me, she had kicked out of the top of the carrier and jumped out of the car window while I was driving 25 miles an hour.  Because I had my eyes on the road, and was I was focused on the other cars around me, I didn’t realize she was gone.

I proceeded to the Vet’s office. I parked the car in front and I went around and opened the back car door. The cat carrier was empty! 

What a surprise!  I looked under the seats. No cat. I was stunned. I went into the Vet’s office and told Jeanette the receptionist what had just happened. I cancelled Miou Miou’s appointment and told Jeanette I would look for the cat and reschedule when Miou Miou was found.

I got back into the car and retraced the route we had taken that morning. Alas no Miou Miou.  I did this the next day too. 

This event happened on a Monday. On the following Thursday at 7:30 am in the morning, Miou Miou was at the back door mew mewing. She had walked through heavy traffic and over the railroad tracks, hopped over the fence, and was home again for her two meals a day. 

I’m so curious about her adventures Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday?  The dangers, and the risks of a little cat with trains buses, cars, people, motorcycles and other cats, or dogs. Where did she sleep, who did she encounter? Did she find any food to eat?

I called Jeanette at the Veterinary Clinic and set-up another appointment for the following week. I borrowed my daughter’s cat carrier with only one opening in the front. Furthermore, I recruited my next door neighbor to help me get her into the carrier, and to ride in the back seat to make sure we could get this feral cat safely to the Vet.

Miou Miou is a male

Dr. Weber let us know we had a Mr. Miou Miou. Dr. Weber kept him all day. He neutered him, inoculated him with leukemia vaccine and prescribed some antibiotic ointment for his left eye that looked infected.

When I went to pick him up, as soon as he heard my voice he started mew mewing. The pet technician said he had not made a sound all day until he heard my voice.

My cat is now a domestic cat.  He follows me from room to room, and outdoors, from place to place.  We are getting used to each other. Mr. Miou Miou is sleeping in the home office at night. Every morning, after he eats we both go outside to the garden.

I’m thinking about getting another cat too.  I think Mr. Miou Miou needs a companion.

The End.