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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ready for a New Year

Clockwise from left.... Mizelle, Sweet Evalina, Red, Dinkum Devo, and Zbub!

We are ready.  I bought some crafty stuff and we cut out crowns and decorated them so we could all be royalty as we welcomed in the New Year.  We have snotty noses, coughs, aches and pains, and even a pinched finger in the door (the 2 1/2 year old.)  But we welcome good things that we know are heading our way.

God Bless Everyone in 2012.

Goodbye 2011.  I'm not sorry to see you go.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Winter’s Artist

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Freezing Fog.  Hoar Frost. Weather Inversion.  Yes to all.  No to the Moon Eclipse.  Hidden.   Weather wants to make us all stir crazy and S.A.D.  Instead, I’m shouting that there is beauty – even in the icy barbs on neighbor Bills old tomato cages.
Winter’s artist decorated our day for the season.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Tis The Season

The smell of fresh cut Fir.  Bing Crosby’s crooning on the turntable – probably his White Christmas LP special.  At church, the story of baby Jesus retold. This is the nostalgia of Christmas past.   

I spent hours at the kitchen table turning the pages of the Sears catalogue.  Toys were circled with color crayon. The little frilly dresses were check marked and the page numbers memorized. It was an optimistic game, mom appreciated the quiet, and I never stopped dreaming… even though I knew that my small presents would never resemble anything close to these opulent choices.

The week of the “big day” I would tag along behind my dad as he searched our twenty-seven acres for a suitable evergreen to grace our modest home.  Daddy was reluctant.  It was a waste of potential firewood or fencing.  To him Christmas was a nonsense holiday.  Even in the 1950’s there was commercialism and unreasonable expectations…not that any of my siblings hoped for much. 

The eldest kids propped up the tree and pulled the decorations down from somewhere.  Maybe the attic?  Mama helped some too.  Other than that, she didn’t decorate our house for the season.  That took money, time,  and energy.  With eight children, of which I was the youngest, all those things were scarce in Mama’s life. 

Once the tree was trimmed and the delicate and ancient golden star was gently placed at the top, the lights were plugged in and off went the house lights. My brothers and sisters gathered on the Eve in the soft glow of the multi-colored bulbs. If we didn’t sing with the the carols on the record player or the radio, then we joined in around the piano. Oh, Come All Ye Faithful, Silent Night, and The First Noel.  Our family harmonized beautifully.   Singing was free entertainment and we participated with abandoned joy (to the world). Mama would often join in while Daddy secretly listened with great pride. I could see it in his face.  The look was always on his face when he came to watch us sing in what seemed like a  “grand”  school Christmas program. Especially if we were chosen for solos. My two eldest brothers who are in their mid seventies still sing like they did when they were kids.  Me, not so much.

In spite of his cynicism, daddy enjoyed the special meal that mama prepared Christmas day. Because it was less expensive, usually turkey. Sometimes roast beef. Fruit and vegetables from our fruit room or the “locker.”  (The “locker” was our space in a walk in rental freezer storage in the small town nearby.)  There was always pie.  Apple and pumpkin and sour-cream raisin.  The aroma was perfect.  If mama had time she might make daddy his favorite.  Lemon meringue.  As best she could, Mama made sure the day was special.  Daddy bent a bit here and there; we learned to live with that. 

As I grew,  I eventually recognized that our holiday “things” were humble.  Yet, it still seemed splendid to me.   I was filled with that Christmas delight and my day was abound with hope and love.
Even now, that feeling suddenly squeezes my heart – and catches me off guard. 

So....Merry Christmas everyone!

(First Monday - the evolution of Fun Monday -- can be found today at  Sayre Smiles.)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Last of the First of The Month

This is the last month for Janis’s First of The Month
hosted @ Murrieta 365.  I've been faithful to my commitment to post this whole year.  I haven’t been faithful to post much else. 

What have we been posting all year?

Capture one thing repeatedly on the first of each month. It can be a landscape, a person, an animal, a project; whatever your focus is, is fine. It can even be a record of where you are each First of the Month.

My theme has been my three grandchildren, Zbub, Mizelle, and Dinkum.   I called it:

Watch them grow!
This fall grandpa piled some dirt back in the corner where the grands are allowed to dig and play without disrupting the landscaping in our yard.  There is also a small sandbox (which they pour all around the area, too!)  Unbelievable late November sunshine and temperatures sent them out to play in their long sleeved shirts.   I grabbed my camera and followed them out to their favorite spot.

I think that grandpa had some plans for this dirt - to fill in some low spots on the flower bed.  He just had a lot more help than he anticipated.

(Archives - previous months posts)

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Monday, November 07, 2011


November is a month "Thank" full.

If I allowed myself to pause each morning, just the daily list of overlooked blessings would go on forever.  Starting and ending snuggled warm and cozy in my own "blankie."    Yes - I do admit that I have my special bedding that goes with me everywhere.  I'm thankful for it.

Thanksgiving is the holiday during the month that most Americans celebrate in some way.  Our traditions are anchored in family and food and football.  That last one slipped into the national mood over the last quarter of a century, and our household has not been exempt.  This year we will be with daughters.  They are my special reason for giving thanks this year.

Another day of remembrance in November is Veterans Day.  The saddest part of this day is that we are not running out of them . . . the Veterans. We keep adding to their ranks.  My prayers for these men and women are always of grateful reverence.    The old ones were called forth and most stepped up.  The younger ones volunteered...for a multitude of reasons.  I am convinced, however, that because of the optimism of youth, none expected to be sacrificed, wounded, or forgotten.   This year we should all pause and show our appreciation.  Seek out at least one to encourage, support, and thank this day.  

My very personal Thankful Day this month is our wedding anniversary.  Thirty-five years is a major milestone?  Probably.  The one who is the most constant, however, is my husband.  He is forgiving, long-suffering, and far more optimistic than his wife.  Sometimes I wonder what I did to deserve him.   For him I am more than thankful.  

(Sayre Smiles is hosting this thankful theme.  Join in HERE!)


Tuesday, November 01, 2011

First of The Month - Watch Them Grow

The month has rolled around once more and we return to the meme being hosted by Murrieta 365.   I've been faithful to my commitment to post the First of The Month.

The goal is to capture one thing repeatedly on the first of each month. It can be a landscape, a person, an animal, a project; whatever your focus is, is fine. It can even be a record of where you are each First of the Month.

My theme is my three grandchildren, Zbub, Mizelle, and Dinkum. It is called:

Watch them grow!

 Of course this was actually the last day of the month - but who could blame me for wanting to capture a Ninja, a Transformer, and a Lady Pirate.

(Archives - previous months posts)

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Monday, October 17, 2011

The Summer of our Disconnect

It all started the first week of June when a door to door salesmen knocked on ours.  My husband opened it to    "Did you know you can Insulate your house up to the new recommended code for very little investment, or maybe none at all?"  Take advantage of the  "stimulus package," rebates, and an insulation company not only knowing how to do the job, but how to get it done free.

By the time the young man had finished his spiel, we had an appointment for someone to come by and give us a bid.  Within two weeks we had a crew from this company in our attic.

Part of the plan was for the gas company and/or the power company to send someone to take a look at the job, fill out the report, and then you file a Conservative Incentive Application and get the rebate through both energy companies.  

It turned out to be not so easy.   The inspector came, and left us with six out of the nine objectives under the word FAILED.  On top of that there was a window of opportunity  in which you can get the inspection done and your application approved. It had already taken five days for the inspector to provide us with our written evaluation and that clock was ticking away.

Every day we called the company.  Every day we got promises for someone to call us back.  FINALLY, someone called us back and made an appointment to come fix the mistakes.  We waited patiently that morning and no one arrived.  We called that afternoon and we were told, "No.  You weren't on the schedule today."  So we called every day until someone called and gave us another appointment.  Once more no one showed up to work at our house.  We called and called and called.  Someone told us that the crew was on the west side of the state and no were near our valley so there must have been a mistake in the paperwork.  

By this time we are thinking that we will be saying goodbye to close to a thousand dollars of unplanned expense on a budget already trimmed because neither of us were employed this summer.  And we wondered how much more it will cost to fix the problems pointed out by the inspector.  He said it needed to be corrected in order for us to not be in violation.

We keep calling.  They promise to show up in three days, AND THEY DID.    But, it was a crew that had no idea that they were sent to fix the problems from the previous visit.  They thought it was a new job.

The young man that was the crew chief called his company headquarters and he was instructed to go to the local Home Depot and purchase the supplies to repair and correct the earlier mistakes.  All was going to get fixed. YES!

I was sitting at my computer and I could hear them above me in the attic moving around when there was a sudden loud C --R-- A-- C-- K.  I jumped,  looked up, and behold!  There was a huge crack in the ceiling above my head.  

The crew chief took photos, apologized, and called his company headquarters.  "Get a dry wall bid and then let us know," he said.

After the crew left our residence we called and got an appointment for the "inspector" to fit us in because that rebate window was on the verge of being locked.  Someone was sent over the next day.  We FAILED again.  

"I'll fix them myself?" said my husband. "And then will you approve our Application?"  

My husband purchased the materials and quickly built the "dam" to separate the loose insulation from the storage area over the garage.  All of our boxes and things had been sprayed and it was a mess.   He contacted a local insulation and roofing company to come take a look at the vents.  We paid a roofer to reinforced and secure them.   I was especially happy that we had hired that to be fixed, because on labor day weekend my husband tore a muscle in his leg and could barely walk, much less crawl up a ladder and navigate  the sloping roof.

Here it is -- four months into this story -- and there is no "end" yet.   Yes. We did claim our rebate!  We also hope to recover the money for the dry-wall work on the ceiling above my head.  There is doubt that we will see any of the additional expense that we invested by bringing the job up to code on our own and what we paid to the other firm to correct the lousy workmanship.

It was not a free lesson, but it was good lesson to learn.  We really need to only hire locally and support those skilled craftsman from our own community.

Thursday, October 06, 2011


Faye at Summit Musings chose "Your Favorite Early Autumn Photo" as the subject for Day 14 - the last day of her Autumn Photo Challenge.

I thought about this subject for several days and came to the conclusion that I don't have one - a favorite photo. I have many.

In choosing one for today, I took Faye's term "early Autumn Photo" back to the early 1980's. Back to the days of film and processing and no instant gratification.

The photograph for which I hunted was one of me and all three of my daughters taken at the park on a day in Autumn.  Disappointing that it was not found.   I did find this one taken the same day. I think Karmyn may have been the one just outside of the frame throwing leaves on her younger sisters who were 5 and 2.

 Jennifer and Amanda. 

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Fall Colors

This is Day 13 in the Two Weeks of Autumn Photo Challenge and the subject is color.

Here it is, October 5 in our valley, and things are still very green.  The fact that it rained last night - a very pleasant patter on the sky window -- could mean that things will be more likely to turn brown than the seasonal yellow, amber, and reds.  I hope I'm wrong.

In the meantime we are still enjoying the pink Anenome and other plants facing east,

and the Zinnias in the vegetable patch,

The variety of blossoming plants on the north side of the house.

Here's some proof that fall colors have arrived:  the American Goldfinch.  They have all lost their bright yellow spring and summer colors.  You may have to click on the image to see it there on the feeder.

And, I noticed there were a few scattered yellow leaves on the ground.  I suspect by next week we will be seeing a lot more of those and our rakes, too!

I'm so proud of myself ...  I finally did some fall decorating!   By the front walk there are some very inexpensive (cheap) solar lights that come with seasonal inserts. I changed them!   Now fall is official.

(Join in at Faye's)

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

"Autumn Walk"

I've posted many pictures of the creek path and its wildlife -  as it is one of my favorite places to walk.   How I enjoy the birds!

Yesterday at dusk I strolled up the path that was almost abandoned.  Hardly any walkers or bikers.  Hardly any birds.

And then I heard the chatter of the Kingfisher.  Try as I could, my attempts to capture its dive into the water did not satisfy.  I think it took pity on me and flew above me into a tree and posed in silhouette.

Day 12 of Two Weeks in Autumn Photo Challenge is over at Faye's.

Monday, October 03, 2011

"Fall Sunlight"

During the summer the sunlight invades our yard at dawn and wakes us if we forget to close the shades very tight.  But as the sun moves with the shortening days, the neighbors huge maple trees block it and our yard stays shaded late into the morning.  As you can see, however, it finds its way between the branches and leaves to poke holes of light that shimmer around our yard.   The sun will return at yet a much southern angle as the leaves disappear and the days grow cold and short.  But for now, I'll take the dappled morning sunbeam hellos and enjoy.

Join the sunlight on Day 11 of Faye's Autumn Photo Challenge!  Click HERE~!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Nature Closeups

Today is Day 10 of Summit Musings Two Weeks In Autumn Photo Challenge.  We are in currently in Oregon City.  We had a wonderful weekend planned which included attending "Oklahoma" and then a birthday bash for 8 year old Buttercup.  Before we even left the house we had a call from our youngest daughter informing us that she was at the emergency room with her fiance, and her daughter was at the home of a neighbor and friend.   "J" was admitted to the hospital, tested in every way imaginable, then was wheeled into surgery Saturday to remove his gallbladder. We are praying for a swift recovery and that in three weeks he will be ready for that wedding planned!  We are all breathing easier today. (Except J.  His post surgery comfort is slow coming.)

As a result, I'm pulling a photo I took last week while on a bug hunt with my grandson Z-bub.  I believe this preying mantis knew I was taking the photo. 

He sat up and turned his head.  Perhaps I looked like dinner.

(ps.  Oklahoma was fantastic!  The singers. Wow!   We had a great birthday celebration, too.  We were all just worried about J, and occasionally  had some guilt feelings that we were going on without him.  Our daughter Amanda was able to get away from the hospital for some birthday pizza and cake.  The cake was home-made by our daughter Karmyn with cherry cream filling.  Sinful.    Our granddaughter stayed with us so that her mommy could go to the hospital during the day.)

Saturday, October 01, 2011

"Early Fall Landscapes"

We are on the road! So, I'm taking creative license with  Day 9 Early Fall Landscapes subject on Two Weeks in Autumn Photo Challenge.

This is Multnomah Falls that is on I-84 East of Portland, Oregon.

If you look closely you can see little figures of regular size people on the lower bridge between the trees.   The Falls has it's own personality with each season.  In the winter I've seen it completely frozen.  In the spring the amount of water increases and the mist from the explosive force is cold and impressive.  In the summer it is a nice cool retreat and a great hike for people who need a bit of exercise after a long trip. The most luxurious view is early fall. 

Click here to see who else is carrying their camera!

First of the Month, Watch Them Grow

IT CANNOT BE OCTOBER!  Where did this year go?

I've been playing the First of the Month. @ Murrieta 365. for 10 months now, plus an extra month of December that I  linked in for good measure.

The goal is to capture one thing repeatedly on the first of each month. It can be a landscape, a person, an animal, a project; whatever your focus is, is fine. It can even be a record of where you are each First of the Month.

My theme is my three grandchildren, Zbub, Mizelle, and Dinkum. It is called:

Watch them grow!

They've really had fun in the hammock this summer.  Oh yes!  Each has taken a turn of falling out and bumping something-'er-ruther.
Post your new photo and link up HERE!
(Archives - previous months posts)