Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Some of my wonderful family

Merry Christmas to all.

Twenty days of not posting here. I use to post everyday. I think I can blame this on Facebook. It's so much easier to post there and I do it. I'm surely an addict. I'm sorry.
This was a long month, but it seems like it went by fast. It's the 29th and almost over. I just got back from my sister's home where I spent Christmas Day and the weekend. We had a wonderful time. She always has the house decorated so beautifully.

We all had a wonderful dinner and exchanged gifts. We sat around in the "new kitchen" and had dessert.

 I made an orange, walnut, coconut cake in a new molded Bundt cake pan that looks like mountains... and dusted it with powered sugar that looked like snow in honor of the snow that finally fell in the Sierras last week... A tribute cake, if you will, to all the prayers that were said and rain dances that we danced over the last few months.

The cake slowly disappeared... snow and all. 

Sis and I braved the crowds in downtown Walnut Creek for an hour or so on Saturday. It was a mad house. We lucked out and found a parking space so we decided this was a sign that we should go find the absolutely one most beautiful item waiting for us in J Jill's or Crate and Barrel.
  After all, everything was on sale. 
 I have been having some serious knee problems so I had a brace on and this anticipated trip didn't last very long... but I did manage to get a $90. sweater for $29. at J Jill's. It was already on sale, then I got a 25% in store discount on top of that and 10% more for my birthday. That just made my day. We had lunch and went home to nap.

On Sunday I drove to Alhambra High School in Martinez to see my oldest grandson, The Bean, play a serious game of basketball. This kid is good and I'm not saying this because he's mine. He's really good... he is tall and he's fast...and they won. Here are some highlights...

Some of these are a bit blurry. I have not had a lot of experience with fast action shots. This kind of shot need a fast shutter speed and good focus, which I thought I did. I think I need more practice. But you can see that The Bean was moving the ball down the court. I was so proud of him. He's only in 5th grade. Give him a few years and the Warriors will be knocking at his door. This was really exciting watching my grandson play the Prospector's favorite sport. I'll work on the action shots.

 Later in the day I watched The Beans while Mom and Dad when out for dinner. I love doing this. We do have fun. 
First I drove to the Catholic Cemetery to tell my mom "Merry Christmas". It was so beautiful. Very cold and the sun was setting. 
This statue is at the entrance. They had given Mary a gold crown and a blue cape that moved in the breeze. Blue flowers were at her feet. 
Mom would have loved this.

I left Mom some candy. She loved candy. 
We talked for a while and then I said goodbye and drove away. I felt sad, but OK.
She's all right. There's a good feeling in this place. I love being there alone and I always feel her presence.

This is the house that I was raised in. I moved here in 1950 with my Mom and Dad. I was five years old. My son and his wife bought it after my mom pass away. They're happy here and plan to add more space to this rather small home. I feel very comfortable being in this home. 
 I have good memories here. Our sons had wonderful memories here with his Noni and Grandpa. Now my grandchildren will make memories as well. Seems so right, doesn't it?

I used a different setting on my camera and got some interesting images... just for fun. 
Above was the tree in the boys bedroom... It had a special star light on top that reflected a light show on the ceiling. It was really cool.
This is the same tree with the "color sketch" effect on my Nikon.
This was the boys playing with their electronic games.
 The Christmas tree in the living room.
And a sign that said, sadly, that Christmas was over... no more days until...
I left for home the next morning.

It's good to be home.
I will try to post more often.
I need to stop eating candy.
I need to stop eating...

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you. May the New Year bring you many blessings.

Monday, December 7, 2015

What a weekend... Life is Good.

On Friday I had a birthday. I turned 71. When my grandmother was in her 70's I thought that was REALLY OLD. I suppose it still looks old to some... but now that I'm here, and the reality of it is apparent, I don't feel this old.  I don't feel like I did a few years ago when the BIG 70 was looming like a huge slow motion title wave. I have a year of this under my belt now and I think I'm going to be OK...if...
I can find my glasses, car keys and the really comfortable pair of shoes that I put somewhere so Carl, our Corgi, wouldn't find them and chew on them. The ones I still can't find.
And then... there's my left knee. It seems that nothing heals on its own after 70. You hurt yourself without doing anything that you can remember ...and there lies the rub. You can't remember how you hurt yourself so you can't tell the doctor what happen... so they have to probe, test, examine and stab at a guess about what might have caused this injury. Then you start with ice packs and Tylenol, and hope for weeks, that this will be the answer... but it's not. Then an xray finds the beginnings of DEGERERATIVE ARTHRITIS and BONE DEBRIS and they tell you that you may have to try some cortisone shots and possibly have a knee replacement... "...down the road". I call it my "road" of discontent. The ragged road of being older than dirt. It's an ongoing saga. I'm trying to be positive about this but pain sucks.

So... enough of this... I had a great weekend. My sister was here. It's kind of a tradition that she be here and, in January, I will drive down to celebrate her birthday. We do this because we love each other and because we need to support each other during these trying years and cheer each other on. I have good friends and they are wonderful... but there's nothing like a sister for whining and crying. We have history. We understand each other.
So... We spent four days doing fun stuff.  On Friday, my birthday, I strapped on my knee brace and we went to an antique store, in Jackson, just for fun. The Prospector took us to dinner that night.

 Sis brought me a homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and a hand packed box of See's candy. 
 Yeah... it was a good day.

 We went shopping in Sutter Creek for the Christmas Open House on Saturday. I kind of over did it with the walking, but we sure had fun.

Also, on Saturday, we cut some Manzanita Branches for decorations. We do this every year before Christmas. I use one as a Christmas tree. Sis uses hers over her kitchen window. Then we decorate them with homemade items and favorite ornaments.
This is my "tree" on the buffet.

We also made paper wreaths out of old song book pages.
This is the progression of rolling and gluing the pages onto a backing and the final results of my sister's wreath. She used small twigs, brown packing grass, some gold paint and a sparkly silver ornament.

It's so beautiful.

Mine was done a little differently. I used smaller pages from an old Christian songbook.

 Instead of making cones, I rolled the pages and shredded one end of each rolled page before hot gluing them to a round cardboard backing.
Finally a few pieces of mossy twigs, and three star ornaments.  I'm quite pleased with the wreath.
I want to try more of these. The possibilities are endless.
After dinner we started Christmas boxes. It's the technique that I used on the Halloween boxes that I've made before.
 You start with any old box or book and hot glue plastic toys and fake flowers and, in this case, plastic words like JOY and MERRY CHRISTMAS on the top of the box. Then you separate two ply paper towels, wet them and lay them over the top of everything that you have attached to the box and use Mod Podge glue to attach the paper towels and tuck, fold and push the towels into all the nooks and crannies of the figures on the box. We did this last night so it would be dry this morning.
I should have taken more photos because the transition is really amazing.
I went from a plain box like this...
To a colorful, painted box with Joy written all over it... and a dragonfly... and a little frog. In the right top, the word, the frog and the dragonfly didn't seem to stand out, so I added some black paint with a dry brush and more gold. I also added a bit of gold sparkle glue too, which isn't that noticeable in the photo, but added some real bling bling to the whole box. The darker color brought out the letters and accents more. Compare the upper right photo with the lower left. You can see the difference in the two of them. This whole process gets easier with practice.
My sister nailed it on her first try. She used and old soap box that hinged. She had a dollar store "Merry Christmas" ornament that took forever to tuck and wrap with the paper towel, but she did it and it turned out so festive and gorgeous.
I love this technique. It can be a bit labor intensive on a late Sunday night, when we did the wet paper towel/ Mod Podge part, but the results are always worth it. Here's a link to Pinterest and the original site were I got the idea. Just click here.
Sis went home this morning and I miss her all ready. As a distraction, I went to the dentist. Two hours in a dentist chair with Novocaine was not my idea of the way to end this wonderful weekend, but it did give me something else to do for a few hours. At one point, I was looking out of the window. I noticed an incident across the road. The dentist, his assistant and I watched as two woman have a knock down, dragged out, kicking and screaming fight in front of the library across the street. Someone called the police. One of the women got arrested. Real drama in downtown Jackson. That doesn't happen very often in our small town... in broad daylight. It was kind of comic relief for all of us.

I miss you Sis. Thanks for everything... you are a dear person, even if you were a pain in the arse when you were little. You grew up to be my very special friend. I love you. See you at Christmas.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A little dog named Lizzy

Do you see her?
Her name is Lizzy. 
This was her first visit to our home.
She's a very big dog in a very little body. 
I think our Corgi boys wore her out.
 She ran in the garden with them...
ate Thanksgiving Dinner with them... 
ran around with them everywhere. 

So, when she napped...
She napped hard.

I think she was happy to be heading home.

 Guarding her own territory will be easier. 
This was a great adventure, but there's no place like home.

Monday, November 16, 2015

First Frost

The rain came day before yesterday. It was a good soaking rain that replenished the earth and gave us hope.
This morning the air is very cold... you feel it before you see it. The cold creeps under the bed covers and reminds me that the California Winter is almost here. The furnace comes on earlier... an extra blanket had been added... and the first glimpse of sunshine rises from the east.
The Prospector says, "There's frost on the pumpkin this morning."
I throw on my warmest coat over my PJ's, slip into some boots and take the camera out to find the beauty of our first frost... the subtle sparkle of mossy frost that edges leaves and freezes raindrops.
This is the first frost of the season and I hunt, in wonder, for its beauty.

It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it. ~John Burroughs, "Winter Sunshine"