Welcome!

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

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day


Mine is the best.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Found

It doesn't make practical sense, but when I get overwhelmed with the things I cannot control, I often find myself making a big mess - usually re-organizing storage - that I can control.  This morning I realized that I was digging into a box (which usually has stuff stacked on it) for something I wanted several times a week when the drawers the box sits on sat full of stuff I never needed.  So this morning I dumped all the contents of the drawers and the box (which usually has stuff stacked on it) onto the bed and spent a calming hour re-arranging so that the rarely stuff will sit in the box (which usually has stuff stacked on it).

While I was messin' with the mess I ran across a stray page from a writing group I belonged to for a while.  I guess I needed to re-read this now.

I decided to store it here.
December 12, 2012

What Was Left Behind

Half of the flour from
the cookie recipe

A tune that meant something

An invitation floating
to be acted on or forgotten?

Rows of baby plants not yet checked for survival
Seedlings and bulbs hibernating in the garage
Stratification run amok

Regrets not left
carried along though the years
like pocket lint
in a Goodwill sweater

Sometimes they just come out that way.

8:55 am


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Integrity...

...can be fun.

Backstory:

I sold a piece of property, finally.  At a loss, and most of the proceeds went into paying off credit card debt, but there was a little left over.  Enough to let me make some long-held and even some newer dreams come true.  I've already documented some here.

This little story is about color.  I've lived in this house over forty years - forty-three, to be exact - and for forty of them I couldn't shake the "temporary 'cause we're moving up" mentality.  Everything neutral all that time.  Because.  Selling.

Now that I know this is my forever home, I am coming to despise neutral and crave color.  And my choices are surprising and delighting me.

Most recently, I purchased this amazing photograph by Italian photographer Antonio Busiello (who is a delight to work with on a purchase, by the way.)  The Anacapa Arch is just a few miles offshore from my house as the crow - or rather, as the seagull - flies.  This was a National Geographic Society award winner and I fell in love with it at first sight.


I worked with an amazing framer at Michael's, believe it or not.  I picked out the wood because I wanted something that reminded me of an old ship.  The burlap mat (as in the jute of the old rigging) has added a gorgeous texture and in person brings out the rocky surface of the arch.  And the framer found the perfect copper bead for the final inner frame.  Even Antonio declared the presentation "perfect," and it is now the focal point of this room.

Shortly after this purchase, the Facebook Shop-'Till-You-Drop algorithm found me this turquoise chair and my fickle heart skipped from the print to this insanely uncomfortable piece of art.

 

I'm actually kind of glad it's so uncomfortable.  Nobody will want to sit in it and it will last forever.

Then, while on Stearn's Wharf in Santa Barbara waiting for a Whale Watch excursion, I found this treasure in one of the gift shops.





Not only the right color and gorgeous font, but my favorite Santa Barbara coast excursion is the sunset cruise, so it was completely appropriate.

So, what does any or all of this have to do with integrity?

Yesterday I went to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve and afterward hunted down a delightful quilt shop in Lancaster.  (This was to calm me for the CA Hwy 14 portion of my return trip.  I do truly despise Santa Clarita and the portion of the 14 that runs through it toward the 5, but that's a story for another time.)  I was looking for a number of fabrics.  Red and white to use with an piece of redwork embroidery I'm working on.   (Found the PERFECT piece.)  Flowers for a new quilt for my little bed.  (Found that.)

And, as always, fabric I didn't know I was looking for but found anyway.  The Rogue One panel (which will now form the backing for my Force Awakens wallhanging/pin display.  Reversible, uh huh.)  And some gorgeous sea-themed pieces.

I had already decided that I wanted to make a quilt to cover my 43-year-old, 8-foot sofa.  When I had it re-upholstered over thirty years ago, I told the saleswoman I wanted chain mail.  I had little kids and figured if something could hang in there until they were somewhat civilized, I would be WAY ahead of the game.  Well, there are issues with the sofa (it needs some longer legs, for example, so people can get out of it) but the upholstery is still hanging in there and looks like it will probably outlast me (and I intend to live a good long time yet).

But, the color...  well... it's so...

Neutral.

Brown.  A nice brown.  A warm brown.  With a nice yellow tone that goes with the carpet I adore.

But brown.

So, I came up with this idea.  I'm going to drag out all my sea-themed art quilt patterns by McKenna Ryan.   I have these...


... and want to order a couple more.  They will need tweaking to fit what I want, with some color changes to incorporate the turquoise here and there.  They will form a side of the quilt that will hang across the back of the seat.  Like, where you lean when you sit down.

But the actual back of the sofa will be visible from the kitchen, and I wasn't real sure how to handle that.  Do I really want to do sixteen feet of these art quilt blocks?

So, back to the little quilt shop.  I'm wandering through the ocean-themed section.  Which, I have to admit, I was surprised to see in a Lancaster quilt shop, but it was awesome.  And then my fabric-ignited pacemaker kicked into gear again when I spied this...





Perfection.  Quilted and draped over the back of the sofa with the art blocks on the other side, this will come across sort of like a yummy wallpaper.

I started off by asking for two yards, then corrected it to three, then said, "Oh, make it four."

I carted my purchases to the register table and the cashier of the day rang up the ticket.  I paid and left.  Once in my car, all my thoughts were on not getting lost on my way back to the 14 and then getting home alive.  Happily home, I started sorting through my treasures and realized there was no way my payment was enough for all that fabric.  I got out my receipt and ticked off the fabric pieces.  Sure enough, they had only charged me for a half-yard of the gorgeous shells and coral piece when I had purchased four yards.

No way I was driving all the way back to make this right, but I hoped they would adjust over the phone.  I called and I imagine the person on the phone mis-heard when I said they had grossly under-charged me.  I think she thought I meant over-charged because, of course, nobody would call to offer to pay for something they already had ownership of, sheltered in their home two hours away.

But there's that integrity piece.

Years ago, I heard Billy Joel's song, "My Life," and a verse has stayed with me my entire adult life.

They will tell you you can't sleep alone in a strange place
Then they'll tell you you can't sleep with somebody else.
Ah, but sooner or later you sleep in your own space.
Either way it's O.K.
You wake up with yourself.

I've never forgotten that lesson.  I wake up with myself every day, and I have to like that experience.  My mom owned a quilt shop briefly.  And got ripped off.  It hurt her.  I won't do that to another small business.

So, yeah.

I called and it was fun.  The moment when the serious woman on the other end of the line realized I didn't want a refund of an over-charge but wanted to read her my credit card number so that she could get paid for the 3.5 yards of delicious fabric I had walked out with.  And I loved the anonymity of it all.  I'm not a regular customer.  They didn't know me and won't recognize me if I ever go back.  Just a faceless kindness across the phone lines.

Priceless.

I'm still pretty much crushing on the music of Carrie Newcomer, and I love this chorus from her song, "Lean Into the Light."


 The shadows of this world will say
There's no hope, why try anyway?
Every kindness large or slight
Shifts the balance towards the light.

It made someone's day better.  I imagine her, incredulous, sharing the story through the day.  "You'll never believe this, but..."  She'll take it home and share it.  And maybe, I can only hope, others will be inspired to pass it on.


Because it made a difference for that one.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Poppy...

...success.

Second attempt this year and I finally made it when the poppies were open.  Kind of end of season, I hear, but still impressive.

Enjoyed playing with my new camera.  I had hoped to get a new one before I head to Japan in October.  I've been pretty happy with the Nikon Coolpix over the years.  I was using my third, and not so impressed with it as the other two.  I could never figure out how to turn off the function that provided light for night shots (meaning no night shots) and the colors were too often just washed out.  I had pretty much decided to get a Canon Powershot when I was ready for a new one, especially if I could get more optical zoom than the 11x that I had.

Yesterday I was waiting for seating at a new restaurant actually in my favorite nursery in Newport Beach.  The Farmhouse melds with Roger's Gardens beautifully.  I was taken by the mix of woods - different colors, different saw patterns - used on the hostess station, so reached into my purse for the
Coolpix to snap a picture.  As occasionally happens, my developing arthritis decided to team up with my lifelong benign essential tremor in what can only be called a spaz attack and I bobbled the camera to its dramatic demise.  A rather end over teakettle flip directly onto the gorgeous stained concrete floor.  On its lens.

I took out the memory card and battery and handed the camera to the hostess for disposal.  Then, since I was scheduled for a run to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve today, detoured to the Best Buy for the premature purchase of the Canon.  Happily, Canon Powershots were on sale this week - everywhere - and I was able to get the 40x optical for the same price as I expected to pay for the 18x.  Too early to tell if I'm going to like the zoom as well (if I can take pictures of the full moon that turn out as well, I will be happy) but today's color shots are much better than I was getting.

I was a little worried on the drive out as the closer I got to my exit from the 5, the colder and more overcast it became.  I turned back the last time because all the flowers were closed along the 138.  But, as I waited in the one-in-one-out line at the preserve, the sun came out and happy poppies opened up for the show.



I love the combination of lupine and poppy.  This was the lone lupine on this trail.


My last spring break day trip.

I bought my mom a new recliner that will be delivered tomorrow so I will take my papers to grade to her house.  Thursday I'm having my termite-eaten French doors replaced so will be home all day.  Am hoping to be able to plant my tomatoes and herbs and pollinator-attracting flowers while the guy works.  That is assuming I can get all my papers graded tomorrow.  Saturday is free and Sunday I'll be helping with Easter all day.  Then back for my last 43 days until retirement.

Getting more and more excited, although I admit to some disjointed feelings as well.  I suspect they are connected to my son and his dog moving out.  It makes the transition even more dramatic.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Pack

My son moved in with his beloved and her two dogs a few weeks ago.  Yesterday he came by and picked up our dog and the dog's worldly possessions.  I wish I'd been taping this old, goofy dog's ecstatic reaction when, first, my son picked up his collar and leash and second, when he realized they were going to go somewhere in the car.

I assume all went well, because they have not returned.




 

It's been eight years since we brought him home.

I'm not going to miss the hair everywhere.
I'm not going to miss the drool on my knee.
I'm not going to miss the fifteen-minute toileting excursions.
I'm not going to miss dog farts in the middle of the night.
I'm not going to miss scheduling my life around being home for the dog.




But I sure am going to miss the love.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Delightful Day...

... in progress.

This morning was a trip with a friend to Otto & Sons in Fillmore for





I'd been to it before but she had not, and as always, it was so satisfying to watch her have so much fun.

Over a hundred varieties of tomatoes.

Three weeks until Rose Days.  We. Will. Be. Back.
Invigorated by the sunshine, fresh air and fragrance of orange blossoms, we headed to my favorite restaurant for lunch, then home to plan where to plant the swag.


No, not just tomatoes.  Herbs and lupine...


...and more herbs. 
 
 
Inspired, I took a quick spring walk through the neglected home garden spaces, overwhelmed with gratitude for the rain this year.

Hydrangea.  Will start the bluing tomorrow.  I thought I'd lost it last summer, but it's already twice as big as it got last year.

 
Planning to get this Cara Cara in the ground this year.  Got one orange off her last year and it was delish.

Always happy when the Japanese Maples recover.  Hoping to pot them into forever pots this year.

Dutchman's Pipe doing well.  Watched a propagation video so will try to make more.  Not giving up on trying to attract the Pipevine Swallowtail.

SQUEEE!  Amaryllis, and they should be Apple Blossom.  Finally.  Fingers crossed.

Passion vine recovering for another year of Fritillary butterflies.

One Apricot Chiffon poppy.  Hoping for seeds and more.

Geum Totally Tangerine.  Have it all over the yard, and blooming in several spaces.

Lots of volunteer milkweed for the Monarchs.  Yay.

I think cutting back is helping the Milkweed..

Honey Perfume.

Brass Band

Hot Cocoa.

Hot Cocoa again.  Planning to dig up grass for more rose space.

Just Joey.  My favorite.  Smells wonderful.

Thrilled that poppies are popping up everywhere.
 
Skimmed the winter algae off the top of the water and was thrilled to note that the half-dozen finger-sized pieces of elodea had exploded into a whole forest of itself in the pond.  The fish seem happy to have it to hide in.

Most of the goldfish school survived the winter.

This lily had gone dormant down to the soil.  These leaves have appeared just this week.  Tomorrow - feed!

Brugmansia 'Charles Grimaldi' already in its first flush.

Rested and did a little writing before heading into town for a get-together with Timber Hawkeye, author of Buddhist Boot Camp.  Got my times mixed up and arrived late but just in time to see a dear friend and owner of Mrs. Figs' Bookworm, our delightful little independent bookstore, reading aloud from Douglas Wood's gorgeous Old Turtle.  When she finished, Timber led us in a five-minute meditation to rest with what we'd heard, then we enjoyed a conversation about the lessons from the book.  We ended with another short meditation, and I headed directly to the restaurant where my son was playing drums with singer/piano player Michael Falcone.

The juxtaposition of the two gatherings - a quiet discussion with meditation into a bar atmosphere - disturbed me, but I chose once more to take it as a lesson.  When you know what you don't want, you know what you do want.  I was practically dancing through the day, it was such a happy time.   Only to come screeching to a halt in the restaurant.  

I don't think I'll be hearing him play there again.  Even the little wine bar with the jazz groups doesn't have that tinge of sad that this place does.

Fortunately, I came home to a clear night scented with orange blossoms and lit with a sliver of moonshine to be greeted by our old, crippled, dopey Lab who gives constant lessons in unconditional love.

All is well with me.

Adventure in Online Dating.

Week One.
The End.


I finally learned of an online dating service that I thought would be a good fit for my new agey, quantum, law of attraction weirdo selfness.  "This is it!" and to keep it strong, I signed up ($$$) for a whole year.

No creepy guys, and the fellows that connected seemed interesting.

But...

I hated the whole thing.  The puppy-in-the-window feel of the portrait board and the JUDGEMENT element of having to decide "like" or "hide."

I know so many people who are truly happy - ever after happy - with the partners they've found online but I am just not tough enough for the process.

I had a problem with the process.  So I deleted my account.

Maybe part of my problem is that I actually like my aloneness.

For a while, newly single, I thought my perfect guy would be like me.  Gotta love to dance and love Disneyland.  And then I spent some time with someone with those attributes and realized that actually I have been much more intrigued by men who are not like me.  Men who do different things. 

For a while I thought I wanted to connect up with a gardener - like me - but then the light bulb turned on.

Another gardener would, I suspect, want to constantly tell me how to run my garden.

Yikes.

Another part of my problem with the site was that there were so many looking for the "long-term relationship."  Which I interpreted as men who want to be married again.  Which is sweet, I guess.  It's men who have had good marriages, I've read, that are looking for it again.  But I guess I'm still relationship cynical, because I interpreted their desire for ever-after as "taking care of me forever" and I am not interested in that role.  Again.  Ever.

At this point, I like the relationship one of my colleagues has.  Ten years of trips together, meals and conversation (and, I assume, the regular overnight.)  But they maintain separate homes and enjoy plenty of independent time.

Which, right now, I live for.

I admit, it would be nice to have someone to connect with by text frequently.  It's been years but I still miss holding hands and sitting shoulder to shoulder.  Eyes meeting over a private joke, or the raised eyebrow over a shared incredulity.

I just don't miss it enough to participate in something that twisted my gut with its underlying sadness.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

85

Today was my Mom's 85th birthday.

Had a scare in December, so feeling lucky to still have this remarkable woman in my life.


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Meh.

Mom had fun at Disneyland yesterday.

After a thirty-minute wait for our food at the Carnation CafĂ©, we wandered over to DCA to enjoy the Red Car Newsboys show.  (Always top notch entertainment)


...and then we went to the real draw, the preview of Beauty and the Beast.  This is someone else's video on the entrance.  I know there are other costumes and props on tour, but I was still expecting a better display than this in the "official preview" in Disneyland Resort.


The 3-D preview did, however, make me even more excited to see the movie (March 17 is almost here!)

https://media1.popsugar-assets.com/files/thumbor/TL5V6Epg8SDbcFUb9ZXkkZ5fZ7o/fit-in/1024x1024/filters:format_auto-!!-:strip_icc-!!-/2017/01/26/813/n/1922283/b68dfbdda941c4eb_BeautyAndTheBeast588134b97c2f3/i/Beauty-Beast-2017-Movie-Posters.jpg

We returned to Disneyland Park in time for the first show of Laughing Stock (meh) then got a drink at Coke Corner before heading to Tomorrowland to take a slow tour of the Launch Bay at Mom's request.  Surprised me, as she's not a Star Wars geek.  Picked up our AP buttons commemorating the return of the Electrical Parade (which I've never seen, so the button struck me as meh, but I was picking mine up to give to my sister, who has fond memories of the parade.)  After a stop at the pin trader, we settled in at Coke Corner to see our favorite Hatter work his musical chair magic, but he never showed up.  Too bad, too, for there was a mob of kids excited to play yesterday.

I did, however, see my next husband there.  That is, he would have been if I intended to get married again, which I don't.  And if he hadn't already been married, which he was.  And if we had actually been close enough to actually make eye contact, which we weren't.  But what a delightful man.  About my age, killer smile wearing a tweed flat cap and doing a shameless, silly dance with a four-year-old boy (not related to him) to the ragtime piano.  What a joyful soul.  It was a joy to watch him.  And a joy to remember the experience, which added a welcome dash of color to my otherwise meh day.

On our way out, Mom reminded me that she needed to get her passport renewed.  We waited twenty-plus minutes to speak to someone at the ticket booth, but when we finally got there Jose (another high point of the day) was friendly and efficient and the job was checked off.  After our tram ride back, during which I was congratulating myself on spending the extra $15 for preferred parking, we both realized neither of us had noted which level we were parked on.  The search meant even more walking than usual after all, and the day dropped from meh.

The now-traditional Knott's chicken dinner experience made up for it, however.

Mom said it was a good day, and that's what matters most to me.  The people watching was entertaining, the day gorgeous and except for grouchy castmembers (what was that all about?) and overtired babies, the people were in the Disney mood.

Guess it was a good day, after all.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wishes...

...actually do come true sometimes.

 

I can't believe it's been a month since the last post here.  Not that I'm clockwork or anything about posting, just that the month went by so fast.  And it's just a busy time for some reason, so I won't linger too long here.

It's been a ton of fun month.

Rain, rain, rain.  39,000,000 Californians wishing for rain and wow, are we powerful!  So far, while we've had a lot of rain here, it's been manageable.  And for once it is an advantage to live on a sandy lot.  The water seems to soak in evenly.  Only a few bad days where it would puddle, but even those drained pretty quickly.

And such a boon.


I've been trying to preserve this little clump of Spanish Moss for five or six years now, and this is the fist time I've seen it GREEN.  And it's growing.  If the birds will leave it alone, I may end up with a nice big clump.


I have to take the dog out to toilet several times a day, past this begonia "Freddie" which is in full bloom.  It's hard to see in this picture, but the blossoms each have a sparkly little raindrop hanging on.  One of my favorite perks of the rain.

 
Maybe a little easier to see?

Found another little surprise when I took the dog out a couple of days ago.

 
 A newly emerged Gulf Fritillary.  This is the lacy-looking underside of the wing.  The upper wings are a metallic orange.  Last fall I noticed the passion vine  that was pretty well covering this end of the trellis had been decimated.  I plant passion vine to attract these butterflies, knowing they are the host plant for caterpillars.  So, I looked to see if I could spot one and counted SIXTEEN.  So, now that I noticed the butterfly, I took a closer look for a chrysalis and was able to spot three more just on this grapevine wreath.


I'm happy to see that this plant is putting on new growth and am hopeful the big old vine in the front is doing the same.  It, too, was decimated last fall.  I have three new plants (all shades of pink) to plant somewhere, and the two plants of purple on the sideyard trellis appear to have decided to grow this year, too. 

Promises to be a good year for butterflies.  I cut back all the milkweed hoping for tender leaves in the spring and found three caterpillars, two about ready to chrysalis up (no, I don't think that's a verb).  I actually caught one of them in the act so sat at the table and watched the magic happen.


 
The rain is really encouraging the violets to grow and bloom (also butterfly host plants).  And I was thrilled to see that the hardenbergia is recovering nicely from the cutting back I gave it last summer.  (I killed one in the front a few years ago by cutting back too hard so was not as brutal this year.

It has been a month of uncustomary extravagance for me.  Once the financial dust settled from the property sale and credit card pay-off, I decided to embrace the encouragement of friends and make some wishes come true for myself.  I already mentioned the Bill LaBrie prints.  They are all framed and ready to hang.  I also bought a new chair for the family room - a gorgeous dark turquoise - that I can't get a decent picture of because my little Coolpix messes with color so never mind.  "Anacapa Arch" was also delivered, but is not framed yet.  I splurged on quilt fabric from a shop and a couple of online shops.

But the most fun has been the addition of the Kewpie family.



I fell in love with Rose O'Neill and her Kewpies about forty years ago.  I have collected lots of replica paper, have made a few reproduction dolls and have collected a half dozen Enesco figurines.  But the Rose O'Neill antiques (came out in 1912 and mostly popular through the 1920s) were WAY too pricey for my budget.  My discretionary money was limited and the antique doll market at its peak.  But, apparently the recession has hit the doll resale market pretty badly, and I'm the happy beneficiary.

They make me smile every time I look at them.

The sale of the property has also made my retirement in June a done deal.  I submitted my paperwork a couple of weeks ago.  I see my tax accountant next week to see if my preliminary income numbers are correct, then the health insurance guy the next week.  But, I'm done.  I had hoped to go out on a high note, but have too many challenges that I'm dealing with so it looks like I'll not be dancing my way out, but just walking through the door.  I am hopeful of a wistful, grateful smile in the end.

My most important smiles, though, come from the way my mom has recovered from her scare in December.  She's on blood thinners and being more careful about her medications now, but seems in good spirits.

Disneyland Saturday.

"The dreams that you wish will come true."