A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


How do you measure a life?

I boxed up books to donate to the library bookstore today.  Some were from my personal classroom collection, but the rest were my late husband's.

Next week will mark the second anniversary of his death.

It confuses people when I am matter-of-fact about his death.  After all, most people only knew us as a couple, and we were together for forty-two years.  They don't know that I nearly ended the marriage in 1984, and that only our mutual love for our two sons kept me where I was for decades.

He wasn't a bad man.  In fact, he was a good man with his heart in the right place.  But, as my older son once pointed out to me, he wanted to be the center of attention at all times.

Not quite twenty-one when I married the thirty-two-year-old who had been one of my college professors, I grew up.  And I outgrew the role of adoring fan.  So he found others to fill that role for him.  Not physical affairs, but I think most women - and maybe some men - would understand when I say that the emotional damage that comes from being treated not as an equal partner but as an irrelevant footnote in a spouse's life takes its toll.

He did good work, but he did it for others and at the expense of his family.

Enough.  That part's over and not what I intended to write about, anyway.

It was his books that struck me today.

I labeled him a fundamentalist atheist when I married him.  The grandson of one of the first celebrity evangelists (first to transmit a ministry via radio in the 1920s), he had turned away from Christianity before I met him.  Which was no nevermind to me, as I had not been raised in religion.

But he never really let it go, and was searching for some spiritual connection despite his professions.  As I boxed up his Zen collection, I remembered the times when I would come out to get the day started for our boys and find him in sitting in the dark in his time of meditation.  He didn't keep it up, so I assume he didn't get what he was looking for.

I didn't give away all of his books. I kept the old Bible from the times that he did believe and taught Sunday School.  The coffee table edition of The Power of Myth,  the Bill Moyers - Joseph Campbell interviews.  The Time Life Latin American cooking book with his favorite mouth-watering green chili enchilada recipe.  But from this room, anyway, most of the books will likely be picked up by someone new who might find more enlightenment from them.

It has been a long, deep process.  He had kept financial secrets from me that I will be dealing with for a long while.  (I AM dealing with them well, so no worries.)  But in the end, he had very little in the way of possessions.

I am grateful when I run across something that makes me smile.  When I met him he used a gold fountain pen - always a fountain pen - that he refilled from a bottle.  Left-handed, he would never allow anyone else to use it or - he claimed - the nib would be ruined.  When I found it, happy memories came with it.  Memories of the man who introduced me to Ed Ricketts and Big Sur and nudibranchs.  Who shared with boyish glee the hand-blown marbles that came every month until he filled to overflowing the crystal bowl I'd given him to display them.  Who took me to see Willie Nelson sing about a red-headed stranger.  Rex Harrison as Henry Higgins and Dick Van Dyke as Professor Harold Hill.  Anna Netrebko as Juliet.  And Dolly Parton's first ever stage performance, where he brought a giggle from her when he asked her to autograph his shirt.  "Raght on yer beely?"

Old books, worn-out clothes, antiquated computers and an ancient television that had been left behind in the HD revolution.

It has an effect on me every time I deal with something of his.  His legacy cannot be this trash that I have sorted and discarded.  It must be the students that he encouraged, the foster youth he supported and the beautiful, talented, brilliant boys we both raised.

The rest is just stuff.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Came around again.


Always glad when this comes around on facebook, but I decided I had to add it to this blog journal of mine.  Impeccable harmonies and a delightful sense of humor.  Such a lovely family.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Episode One

Daily Value Players

My son is deciding whether he wants to further his education and get a masters in nutrition.  To study for exams for his last class, he and some friends did a weekly nutrition podcast.  Being who they are, they decided it would be fun to do a production in the style of the old-time radio mystery shows.

First episode is done. 

It was really fun to have this going on in my kitchen for a few weeks.  Couldn't keep the dog quiet or the mom from coming through the front door at inconvenient times, so they moved the studio to a quieter venue.  I kind of miss it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

No Fear.


The kids are all right.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Dear Future Boyfriend,


When you ask me what I want for my birthday and I say, "A rock," I'm not speaking euphemistically. 

A rock.

And if you really want to make me swoon at your generosity, go drop $20 on a bag of polished river pebbles.

Yeah, I'm a cheap date.

(The pond is about done.  Just a couple more bags of the little pebbles ought to do it.  So happy with how this turned out.  It sounds divine, too.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Gotta be around here.

At the end of the last school year, I was contacted by the district and asked to do a presentation at their tech ed camp at the end of summer.  It's in a couple of weeks, but if I want them to do my copies for participants, the originals are due this Friday the 12th.  Today is the day I set aside to do the preliminary outlines and pull together the masters to email to the person who will arrange the duplication.

Unfortunately, I can't get into the district system from home.  No configuration of my log-in works, and the password I'm pretty sure I changed to at the end of the last year does not work (even messing with all the possible capitalization options.)

Oh, well.

I can pick up my keys Monday and will just run my own stuff.  No biggie.

And now I have a day that wasn't supposed to be mine.

Hot cha.

I'm about a half day away from having my studio at it's delightful most elegant and useable best.  So I'll do that next.

For now, though, I thought I'd do a REAL catch-up post as the summer winds to a close.

Most of the summer had flown by before I was able to take Mom to Disneyland on a day where we could stay for the All American College Band performances.  We finally made it.  When we debriefed it a few days later she said it hadn't been a good visit, but I thought it was great.  The weather turned out to be pleasant (the previous week had been a scorcher), the higher admission prices seem to be controlling the crowds some so it was easier to maneuver the wheelchair around and we had some nice entertainment all day.

As always, we started with breakfast at the Carnation Café and a stroll through the Emporium.  My goal was to keep us as cool as possible by moving from one air-conditioned location to another until the AACB's Flag Retreat set.  This was a Tuesday, so we didn't know who would be on the ragtime piano.  Until we have that information, we can't decide on the schedule for the day, so once we'd
had our fill of shopping we headed up to the Coke Corner to see who was playing.  No name was posted on the marquee yet, so I suggested we head to Frontierland to the Golden Horseshoe.  It usually opens about 11:30 with the first set of Laughing Stock at noon, but sometimes we get lucky and get to see some of the traditional Disneyland Band members in new roles in a western tavern combo show before Laughing Stock.

We got there just after 11:00 and the saloon was already open with a happy surprise for us.  Ragtime Michael, our favorite piano player, was doing a set of honky-tonk ragtime in the Golden Horseshoe.  Then, shortly after he finished, the combo we'd hoped to see took the stage.

Back story:  During the 50th anniversary of Disneyland I got the folks to buy annual passports and made sure we all got to enjoy the Happiest Homecoming on Earth together.  The best thing we did was to skip most of the rides and instead move from one musical venue to another.   For a while Dad's favorite was the Side Street Strutters because he was so impressed with tubist John Noreyko.  After a while, the Strutters were dissolved and some of the musicians, including Noreyko, became part of the Jambalaya Jazz group.  Unfortunately, that was a wandering minstrel show whose set times and locations were not posted, and it was too difficult for the three of us - Dad in his 80s and Mom in her wheelchair - to plunk ourselves somewhere to enjoy them.  If we did manage to catch them somewhere, they had a female singer who was consistently flat and who, in our opinions, ruined the show.  So, we stopped trying to even hear them.

We did, however, keep up with the traditional Disneyland Band and Toby the bass trombone player took the "favored musician" spot for my dad.  We always tried to get a seat on the brass section side of the band in concert so we could really hear Toby play.

I had the added delightful experience of being chosen to read the introductions for the Saturday "Let's Go to the Movies" set which featured music from Disney animated movies.  I got to sit in the director's chair right next to Toby, who kept me in giggles throughout the set.  He is, as it turns out, a very funny fellow and it really comes out in this Golden Horseshoe show.

After their set, it was time for Laughing Stock.  Ragtime Michael transmogrifies into Michael T. Pettibone to get everyone clapping and stomping (sort of, maybe) and then the comedy begins.  It was a cute show that I hadn't seen yet.

There's something about his guy.  I dunno, maybe if I added a big nose...
Because we were as interested in the air conditioning as the entertainment, we stayed for a second show which was one I had seen many times, then wandered over to the Pizza Port for a Darth by Chocolate parfait and something to drink.  Afterward we wandered back to the Coke Corner for a little piano.  It turned out that the Tuesday piano player is the same as the usual Saturday piano player, who is not our least favorite but also who does not put much effort into his performance.  I come from a family of human metronomes and so this guy getting off beat - frequently - makes us twitchy and we don't last long.  We did stay, though, for Musical Chairs.  It wasn't Mom's Favorite Hatter (it was her Alice, however) but all the Hatters do a good job so we enjoyed the show.  When they were done, Hatter and Alice came over to where we were sitting for the autograph and photo session and it was lovely to watch them, especially the darling Alice, interact with the folks.  I had read once that  part of the character audition was improv storytelling and these two are awesome at it.

Mom wanted to see the Flag Retreat, but we were still pretty early so we stood by the firehouse for a set with our former DL Band slash Golden Horseshoe combo slash Firehouse Four +1 +1 friends.  Just as they finished, the Soundsational Parade started across Town Square.  It turned out to be kind of a nice, shady place to enjoy the parade, which we haven't seen for months.  I doubt Mom could see much - I could only see the tops of the floats as it was - but we could enjoy the music.

It turned out to be an interesting vantage point to play with the telephoto.


When did they add the girls to this float?

I think I would have noticed if they'd had my faeries flying around this tower from the parade launch!

As always, the parade ends with my beloved chimney sweeps.  I couldn't actually see the dancers, but am tickled that I was at least able to catch this kick.

After the parade we snagged our seat for the flag retreat (touching, as always) and then for the All American College Band. 

Mom took advantage of the lull to do some calendaring for the upcoming week.  She may have taken a little nap.  Maybe.


And then they were there!  Some new arrangements this year.  A new "Jungle Book" medley and a different Michael Jackson medley.

The always enthusiastic, always charming Dr. Ron McCurdy.  Mom told me the next week that she was a little offended on my behalf because McCurdy included some of us "Old School" guests - one at a time, starting with me - in his intro of my favorite Earth, Wind and Fire medley.  I told her later that I was actually flattered.  When EWaF was a force on the music scene I was finishing my third year of college, getting married and having kids.  Completely missed them.  Dr. Ron was including me with people a full decade younger.  I'll take it.

We left the Park right after the AACB set, which earned us a limotram ride back to the parking area.

Back home, things have been restful and quiet.  Actually a stellar summer with limited drama and lots of time doing the things I love most.

I managed to pretty much keep my gardens alive through another summer with isolated weeks of extreme heat.  Oh, my, am I appreciating living close to the Pacific!   Right now, and for the last several days, the temperature is perfect for summer puttering.  Some highlights:

Alexandra Stephanotis is STILL blooming all along her length.  This has never happened before.  She usually shows one flush and that's it.

I had a passion vine covering the trellis I built in the Faerie Garden for a few years, then lost it.  I bought a couple more young plants from Annie's Annuals in Richmond and am optimistic that their third year will find them making their way up the slats again next summer.  But for the last three years, it's been bare as they are being kind of pokey (probably because some rodent chewed them down the first year).  Anyway, last year at Roger's Gardens I picked up this one-gallon vine with a bud that was showing blue.  It was labeled only "blue" but I thought it might be one like the slowpoke in the faerie garden so I bought it.  I at least was smart enough to wait until it bloomed before actually giving it a permanent home.  It is NOT the plant I thought it was and, to be honest, I'm not fond of this bloom.  So, I didn't plant it in the faerie garden but put it in a large pot and placed it next to the front plant rack.  In one year it has climbed up the rack and is very pleasing.  I like it here.  And - I'm happy to say - so do the gulf fritillary butterflies, one of whom I saw laying eggs on it yesterday.

Aside from an attack by slugs or snails, the brugmansias I grew from cuttings are doing well in this spot.  Again, it's been a challenge to keep them watered in the heat and they show some damage, but they are still alive and so I am grateful.  I'm planning to clear a planter in my south side yard as a permanent home for these potted trees.  They should be spectacular along the walkway there next year.

One victim of the heat was the original geum "Totally Tangerine" that I had growing here.  Fortunately, I have several in the front yard.  I dug one up to transplant here.  Geum are a plant that needs to be divided anyway.  This is one of the small "daughters" from the "mother" plant. 

"Although she be but little, she is fierce!"

Now, if can just keep her going through the fall heat, I should have flowers next spring.

Added benefit:  I got four more little girls to pop into the ground somewhere.  I do think, though, that at least one needs to be in a large pot in the sunset garden.

Happy to report that milkweed it coming up everywhere.  Perfectly fine with me.   I have no problem with being surrounded by beautiful Monarch butterflies, especially if they are giving away kisses like the one I got in the spring.

This one is growing in my Cara Cara orange pot.  The orange doesn't seem to be suffering, but I will have to remove the milkweed if it seems to be stunting the orange.
There are even plants coming up in the Faerie Garden.  They don't exactly match my color scheme in this bed but, hey.  Butterflies outside my bedroom window.  Not a bad thing.

Brugmansia "Peach."  So crazy about these things.  Gorgeous flowers, delicious fragrance and easy to grow from cuttings.  I think I'm up to close to a dozen varieties.  Want to order some more come fall.

Something new this year.  My little birds don't fly away when I come into the garden.  Such a compliment.  And the hummers...  I have a pair of hummingbirds that use a feeder in this yard.  One morning I was watering and the male came to the feeder, all decked out in bright metallic red waistcoat and top hat for a drink, and then he flew to me and hovered about 18 inches from my face for a full three seconds before flying off.  He was immediately followed by the missus, a little more plainly dressed, who also sipped, then came to about 18 inches from my face for a full three seconds before heading back home.

One on the feeder, one on the house hanger.  See them?

Continuing into my territory in the back yard, I am thrilled with the results of my work this summer.  The pond is a daily pleasure, and my new plants are growing nicely.  This is "Mayla" a water lily with a bright magenta flower.  She has bloomed once already, and continues to put out more and more leaves.  Seems like I'd be stating the obvious, but  I've invested in lilies that have not adjusted so well in the past, so this is fantastic.  I have hopes to see her fill a good part of the pond by next year.  She is a hardy water lily, so should survive our relatively mild winter just fine.

I'm secretly pleased with the result of a mistake I made in choosing this purple plant.  It is ruellia, a native from Mexico.  A contractor I worked with a few years ago saw it and said, "That will take over your yard," and it turns out he's probably right.  Since then I've tried digging it out and even - shhhh - put Round-up on it (before we all learned the truth).  But, it is doing great.  I guess I lucked out and bought a sterile plant.  I've never seen seed pods and have no seedlings anywhere that I've noticed (the plant is over 15 years old).  But it spreads by rhizomes that I try to dig up when it invades the walkways.

About five years ago I planted a salvia "Hot Lips" in the same planter.  The two plants have hit it off and each has spread into the other, producing this fabulous  red, white and "blue" effect.  This space gets very little water, but they seem to be flourishing on the oversplash by the pond.  The good news is that the tortoises eat the ruellia, so a couple of times during the summer I can cut it back for them and it comes back looking fresh and happy.

All of the water plants I added to the pond are doing well this summer.  The water hyacinths have spread from two small plants to several larger.  In the container that catches the flow from their barrel, the water lettuce has also grown from two small heads to almost filling their area.  Now, if I can just get the lotus I want come March, it will be complete.

Last week I spend a couple of hours taking advantage of my sister-in-law's talent and expertise as a painter of rocks (which she sells).  My first attempt is not nearly as spectacular as hers, but I learned some tips and techniques and look forward to adding some treasures to my gardens as she has to her own.

Goosebump time!  Yes, I am that thrilled. 

This is the area I call the Sunset Garden.  It is outside my studio window.  The studio that is painted in three different shades of the colors of the sunset that I can sometimes enjoy from the studio window.  At certain times of the year it's like actually being in the sunset back there.  After a year of that thrill, I decided I wanted a garden filled with plants that bloomed in the oranges and orangey-pinks of the sunset and have been collecting ever since.

Disneyland roses.  Brugmansia "Peach" and "Charles Grimaldi."  Bearded iris "Coral Charmer."  Miniature roses in bright orange.  Abutilon 'Orange Hot Lava,' again from Annie's Annuals.  And, of course, the orange milkweed to attract the orange butterflies.

I visited a couple of different water garden nurseries searching for a peachy colored water lily for this container, but couldn't find what I wanted.  Finally I ordered one called 'Georgia Peach' from Lily Blooms Aquatic Gardens.

I couldn't believe what I received from them in the mail.  A big, healthy lily with a half dozen leaves and a thick clump of healthy roots sealed in a plastic bag.  The instructions said to plant it with food immediately and set it shallowly in the water.  I couldn't get to it immediately, but within the week had planted it and sank it - shallowly - in this container.  One by one, the leaves died.  Finally, I remembered that I had not fed it, so tracked down some aquatic plant food, pulled the pot, stuffed it with food and lowered it a little deeper into the container.  A couple of weeks later the last leaf died off, and I beat myself up for not following the directions better.

Four days later - FOUR DAYS LATER - I went out and counted fourteen -FOURTEEN- tiny leaves floating on the water.  It's been popping leaves ever since.  I'm so thrilled.  A little worried that I might have to choose another container, but for now I'm just going to enjoy the abundance.

My tree milkweed is WAY over my head.  I've seen caterpillars feeding on it as well.

The heat has really affected the blooming of the brugmansias.  This one is in the Sunset Garden and bloomed all summer last year.  These things don't bloom until the stems create a "Y."  This is the first Y of this season.  I'm hoping for blooms but they sure are late.

Charles Grimaldi grew to this size from a 1-gallon plant purchase last fall.  He needs feeding (again) but you can see the nice orange flower in the right.  He's been blooming all summer.  Wonderful fragrance.

I still have quite a lot to do with what little summer I have left.  I need to make up a batch of potting soil and pot up some brugs into larger pots.  Also bought a dwarf pomegranate for the Sunset garden, and want to divide the alstromeria that's has been so luscious this summer.  I still want to tidy the Faerie Garden (never got done last year, either) and the south side yard (which needs mulch, too, before I can make the container garden I want there.)  The entire front yard needs maintenance "in the gloaming" as my SIL says.  I did a lot of work out there last year and the layer of mulch I installed around the roses did the trick to keep the spring grass and weeds out.  But the despised Bermuda needs to be pulled out, as usual, and the roses groomed.  I may go ahead and feed them for another flush before winter.

Inside my focus has been on the studio.  I've been in this room for three years now and have never gotten it to the point where I can just walk in and start working.  It is now only hours away from being able to do that, and I will be heading there after I finish this novella.

My little Maleficent collection has a new member.   Please share (you know who you are.)

Must share.  A few years ago my SIL, a big fan of ETSY, gave me a set of Flower Fairy wooden die cuts for Christmas.  I bought a set of tiny clothespins and glued the fairies to them.  When I put the studio together, I tacked white grosgrain ribbon across the massive middle closet door.  I use the clothespins to hang all kinds of wonderful things from those ribbons.  Inspirational pictures, wooden die cut treasures, quilt blocks and, of course, pictures of loved ones.

For my birthday this year she gave me die cuts of Rose O'Neill kewpies (I've collected O'Neill art and dolls for over forty years).  On one magical day in the summer of cleaning this space I managed to bring together the Kewpies, the clothespins and a long-lost hot glue gun.  SO cute.

I had planned to write this summer.  And enjoy the stack of books that I had stacked for summer reading over the course of the year.  And I had every intention of beginning Julia Cameron's newest program, Never Too Late to Begin Again. 


I had a bit of an epiphany this summer.  All my life I've been a reader.  I remember my third grade teacher telling my mother that he had gone to the junior high to pick up something for me to read because I'd moved beyond the rest of the class.  As a kid, as an adolescent and later as an adult I jumped from one novel to another.

The last six years have been all about transformation.  Non-fiction.  Read with highlighters and sticky tabs and pencil scratchings in the margins.

So, I was looking forward to reading fiction this summer.  Drienie Hattingh's Forever Friends.  Kenneth Roberts' Arundel. 

I can't.

I get about three pages into whatever, and the siren calls.  "You could have your hands in the dirt."  "You could be stitching."  "Remember the quilt?"  I've contacted (and spent time with) more friends and family this summer than in the previous handful of summers together.  I take my mom to her quilt club meeting every Thursday.  She's known these women for over forty years.  What a gift they have been to her.  And now to me.

Twenty some years ago I had a dream.  I dreamed I was in my eighties and tucked into bed.  The dream me knew that I would not wake in this world again the next morning.  I was not afraid.  I lie there, thinking back over my life.  I was happy, smiling.

Six years ago - at about this time - a friend wrote in a facebook conversation that he had not taken the time to explore facebook.  Knowing something about his schedule, I wrote back, "You have a great big life."  His answer to me was, "Do you imagine that you don't?"  It brought me up short.  I have never forgotten it.

When I woke up from that dream twenty years ago, I vowed to create a life for myself that would make me smile when I looked back on it.  I kind of slacked on that until my friend reminded me of my "great big life."

I realize now, that for all my years as a reader, novels were an escape from what was a small, isolated, often unhappy life.

Plenty of time later - when I'm not so mobile, not so energetic - for novels.  For now, I will listen to the siren that keeps calling me back into my great big life.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Genetic Memory.

In my 67th year...

I will visit the home of my ancestors.

There should be bagpipes.  

This evening I heard this for the first time:

Through the entire piece a little genetic memory was whispering "pipespipespipes."

Powerful how they used them.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Clean Slate...

... every day.

I think this is lovely.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Summer 2016

Almost to the halfway mark.

Very pleased with how it's going so far.

As always, summer for a teacher means catching up with neglected chores and visits to medical folk.  I'll just skip the medical stuff.  Happy to report nothing going on that will slow me down too much.

Way more fun to talk about what I'm accomplishing in my garden.  My first project was to clean and refill the pond that I installed about twenty years ago.  I moved some rocks and swept, then vacuumed out the accumulated debris.

 And had my heart broken a little bit when I discovered this:

That's a weed.  Growing up through a crack in the hard vinyl shell of the pond.

This is not good.

I got some good advice about patching the shell, but in the end decided it made more sense to just throw a pond liner over the whole thing.  This turned out to be a project that took not the one or two days I had calendared.

I celebrated a banner bloom year of Alexandra, the stephanotis.  My sister-in-law also has one of these plants which she nicknamed George Stephanopoulos.  I did my homework and learned that George's wife's name is Alexandra, hence the nickname.  It was spectacular this year, nearly reaching the end of this ten-foot plant stand and covered in blooms. Ah, the fragrance!

One of the chores I dislike the most in any summer is dealing with the accumulation of flotsam over the course of a year.  It gets down to dozens and dozens of little items from cross-stitch charts to spools of thread to loose pens and pencils to random screws...  It seems like they are reproducing at random throughout the house and yard.  The only way to conquer them is to pick them up, one at a time, and walk them to their assigned living quarters.  I did a pretty good job - no, a damn fine job - of returning the homeless in the family room, kitchen, entry/hallway and my bedroom before screeching to a halt in the studio.  This is where a ton of that crap comes to rest over the course of the year, and so it will take longer that the other areas put together.

This is the ONE area that I finished.

Yay, me.

I have not yet finished the work of cleaning up the Fairy Garden outside my bedroom window, but since it is my favorite growing space, I tend to keep it pretty tidy.

The hydrangeas were stunning earlier in the summer.  Right now they are showing the stress of the mid-summer heat.

Which is why cameras were invented.

My brugmansias are doing well, for container-grown plants.  This is 'Ecuador Pink," which I almost lost last year when she became root-bound and rot settled in.  She lost every bloom, every leaf.  It was no easy chore to get an eight-foot tree out of a large pot and get her re-potted, but I don't give up.  And happily, neither did she.  The fragrance is intoxicating at night.

Creamsicle at her best.

Harold waited over a year for me to repair his broken beak.  He was very patient.  Not like he had any choice, of course.  The white Gorilla Glue worked great and he is happy, even though he will forever bear the scar.

It's been a long time since I've made a quilt top, but I love the colors of the studio so much that I decided I wanted a quilt that matched the room.  I don't usually turn on the heat (on the coldest days I'll turn it on when I get home from work) and so I need something over me in the mornings.  Strong motivation to get this done (it will have a flannel backing) before school starts again.  I have all I need, just need a few days without other commitments.

I did eventually manage to get the pond re-lined, refilled and the pump working.  I am SO happy to have this up and running.  The water falls from an old pump that had been on my uncle's farm in Kansas, into a lined oak barrel and then into a  little "stream" area, then finally down into the main part of the pond.  I would really like to camouflage more of the plastic, but since my biggest motivation in completing it is to get the music of the water going again, I'm very pleased with it.


I'm facilitating the Circle of Life.  So far I'm up to 50 feeder fish added to the system, down to about a dozen survivors.  I haven't collected many floaters, so I conclude the nightlings are helping themselves to sushi on the fin.

I put in some productive time in the front courtyard.  In addition to lifting and moving hundreds of pounds of rocks around the back pond, I was also potting up brugs (eventual trees) and moving them around.  I don't really plan for this to be their permanent home - that's a project for another week - but they can hang out here for now.

Apparently I was supposed to have been feeding my cymbidiums all this time.  Oops.

So, they are all divided and potted up AND FED.

I wasn't really able to see into the courtyard from this spot before I trimmed the duranta into a tree for the first time.  I really like it, and there were plenty of flowers left at the top for the bees and butterflies.  Come fall, though, I'll have to trim some of the back branches that are pushing on the wall.

Begonia "Freddie" in bloom.

Had a huge hatching of baby Milkweed Beetles (or Milkweed bugs).  They're really a handsome critter and all they want are the milkweed seeds, but this was a lot even for me to tolerate so I had to thin the numbers a little.

There has been a little cross stitch, but just a little.  The yard work (six hours of heavy cutting, potting, carrying at a stretch) pretty much wiped me out every day.  I'd shower and be in bed by 7:30, really not interested in trying to get a needle through a tiny hole in a piece of fabric.  The pace will slow down now that I have my major projects completed, so I look forward to stitching more pretty birds.

 The completed courtyard.

There's a happy welcome.

Alstromeria.  I'm crazy about this color and plan to divide the plant this year to get more of it.

I took Mom to Disneyland again last weekend.  The main attraction was actually having dinner with my cousins who were meeting us there.  We hadn't seen them since my husband's memorial September 2014 and I was really excited to spend some time with them.

Mom and I had breakfast at Carnation Café, as usual, then just had a very relaxed morning on Main Street. 

Got to listen to a full set of the Strawhatters, who were joined by a number of characters including...

...the maestro himself.

We also took in a Laughing Stock show, introduced by Michael T. Pettibone (which is a good joke; I wonder who came up with that name.)  Anyway, we had always enjoyed Ragtime Michael at the Coke Corner and had the good fortune to run into him there a few months ago.  Not the same experience here, but we usually enjoy the show.  And the air conditioning.  And sometimes a hot fudge sundae.

The last time we were at the Park we left before the Mad Hatter and Alice's Musical Chairs game at the Coke Corner, and we made sure to get over there in time on Saturday.  We were there early enough for the Dapper Dans set.  Today seemed to be our day to see everything from "the back side of..."  It was a shade issue.

And then - YAY - our favorite Hatter was there.  He greeted Mom with his usual "HELLO!" and the antics kept us entertained for a good half hour (lots of kids that day).  When the game is over, he and Alice stick around for pictures and autographs, and did this day as well.  And then this sweet man made Mom's day yet again.  Just before their shift ended (with a still long line of kids waiting), he slipped away, walked through the Refreshment Corner lines and over to my mom to give her a big hug.

Our next stop was Downtown Disney to wait for the cousins and our reservation at the Rainforest Café.  I'd never been to this restaurant (which is kind of legendary) and had been looking forward to the experience.  We were quite early, so I decided to wheel her over to the Trader Sam's bar, which turned out to be quite a haul (uphill and in the heat) to the Disneyland Hotel. 

I don't drink alcohol, and generally find bars to be unattractive places.  Sad to say, this one was no different.  Small, dark, crowded and unbearably loud.  The reason I went at all was that I have a friend who is a tiki artist and has several pieces in the bar.  I was hoping to get a picture of one them, but it was just too dang dark so I gave up.  We made our way back to the restaurant to sit on a shady bench while we waited for my cousins.

And were entertained by this handsome gentleman.

There's just something about a dude in uniform.

The Rainforest Café was a disappointment.  Like Trader Sam's, too loud, too dark, too crowded and too...  I dunno, cliché, maybe?  Every few minutes fake thunder and the fake animals "come to life" and make noise.  Our server was just a little too friendly, too attentive and too chatty.  The food was meh for the price.  I was amused, however, by my company in the stall in the ladies' room.

After we finished dinner we tried to continue our conversation in the cool of the evening outside, but they had a rock band - a very loud rock band - that came back from their break about then and it was impossible to have any conversation so we got our hugs and headed home.

LIMO TRAM.  Because we tend to leave early, they often load us up and haul us back to the parking structure without stopping for other passengers.  Pretty cool.

My mom bought these photo boxes for my sister, herself and me.  I adapted this photo of the back of my grandsons' heads for the front of the boxes.  I think it turned out well.

Now, what WISHES, shall I add?

I managed to fill this week with happy trips.  Yesterday I took my Sister-in-Law into the Big City to check out THE LAST BOOKSTORE in downtown Los Angeles.  What an experience!  First, my little historic preservationist heart was all aflutter at the treatment of this amazing old building on Spring between 4th and 5th.

Wikipedia:  453 S. Spring Street – Built in 1914, the 10-story building was designed by Parkinson and Bergstrom. The building was once the Los Angeles headquarters of Crocker Citizens National Bank. Now known as the Spring Arts Tower, the building is part of a movement to convert the old financial district into the city's "Gallery Row." The building's interior features original Art Deco designs, Art Nouveau details, sculptured brass, Italian marble, Batchelder tile, California alder and tiger oak. The building's tenants include artists, designers, architects, film production companies, and law firms. A nightclub called the "Crocker Club" is scheduled to open on the vault floor in 2008.[17]

What. An. Experience.  The entire bookstore is a work of art incorporated in incredible old building that has been cleaned but not gentrified.  Even the overstuffed leather seating throughout is old and well broken in.  Around every corner is a piece of art -usually oversized - paying homage to the page.

My SIL purchased a few books and seemed shocked that I did not but, to be honest, I was soulstruck by the building itself and the cleverness and commitment that the bookstore owners have used to bring it to life.  And to be honest again, I can't wait to get back and next time I WILL at least get a tee-shirt if I can't focus enough to buy a book.  This place is a business, not an art museum with free admission.  Gotta make my contribution.

We decided we may drive to Universal next time and then take the Redline in.  Pershing Square isn't far, and I did not enjoy trying to navigate downtown in weekday traffic.  Hick.

The next part of our day out was a trek to Newport  for lunch at Andrew Weil's True Food Kitchen, followed by a visit to Roger's Gardens just a couple of blocks away.

The lunch was delicious, as usual, but we were disappointed in the nursery trip.  We've been there many times but this was the first visit at summer's peak.  There just aren't a lot of choices as far as planting at this time of year.  We pinky swore that we would take this annual field trip only in the spring from now on.

And only on weekends.  We just never get out of there in time to beat the rush hour traffic.  Yesterday it took us FOUR HOURS to get back to Ventura County.

Good thing it was an awesome day in spite of the traffic home.