Wednesday, November 30, 2011


About nine a.m., Jim checked his tires…

…his tail and brake lights, a complete walk around the motor home and toad.  One thing I appreciate about Jim is his safety and his safety record. He always does a complete inspection before hitting the road and maintains the vehicles in tip-top condition. He will not return to Murphys for two years.

It is a long time,  and it was sad to see him drive away. However, I’ll be flying to meet him sometime in mid January to continue our ramblings together.
Together we wander through
The wooded ways.
Old beauties are green and new
Seen through your gaze.     By Anne Campbell
You are never alone with a poet in your pocket.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Opening the mail these days, I find more advertising than personal news. But, then, surprise! My adopted daughter, Karen, was published in Quilters Newsletter, a magazine I wrote a beginning writers piece for in 1976.  It didn’t pay much, in fact, it may have paid nothing, but the thrill was indescribable.

Here is Karen’s story that she sent me:

My husband retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2001 after serving for 20 years. To show my appreciation, I decided I would make him a quilted wavy U.S. flag wall hanging. I decided to use curved piecing to make it. He was thrilled with this idea. We went to my fabric stash to pick out the fabric. I cut out all the curved pieces using one template shape. Then the challenge began.
I tried to sew them together on the sewing machine and got so frustrated I gave up. I told him I was sorry; I tried but it was way too difficult for me. Years went by and as I made other quilts he would ask, “What about my flag quilt?” I’ve never been one to give up easily, so I thought, let me try one more time.
Guess what? I did it! I was so proud to have challenged myself, I decided to enter the quilt in the local county fair without him knowing. I talked him into going to the fair to see how my other quilts did. When he saw a red, white and blue quilt, he asked, “Isn’t that like the quilt you’re supposed to make for me?” When he saw the name and quilt label, he turned to me and gave me the happiest smile and biggest hug. I told him it didn’t win a ribbon. He said, “It won Best of Show to me!”  I’ll never forget the look of excitement on his face.Please challenge yourself and be patient. Just think, eight years later, you too can have a finished quilt for someone you love.

Karen is a great quilt artist. She’s a multitasker with, home and family, work, pets and many challenging projects.  She is proud of her quilt, but I’m proudest of all to be surprised by her accomplishments via a prestigious National Magazine. What a thrill!   Smooch!

Monday, November 28, 2011


Not many people engage in work that is expected to last  one thousand years. My friend Sharon Sargent took up beading about twelve years ago. On this piece she spent two years, (not full-time) making Ruby, a wall hanging. Beads so small I had to get a magnifying glass to see them.

Sharon estimates that she could have done it in a year if she had devoted full-time to the piece. She has two daughters and will begin another similar wall hanging with a green color theme, in 2012.

The beads look huge through the camera lens. But, I could not see the individual beads with my naked eye.  A piece like this, glass beads woven so perfectly the wall hanging moves like a fine silk fabric;  a treat to behold and touch. Native Americans do marvelous bead work but nothing I’ve seen with beads this tiny. An amazing feat. I’ve visited museums all over the U.S and several in France, Spain, Portugal and Germany. The Louvre has at least one tapestry that I can remember, 900 years old,  made from cloth with fine metallic threads enhancing it.  Sharon’s bead work will easily, with care, last for a thousand years, most likely more. I am truly in awe.  Not surprising,  it took every prize in a recent exhibit.

Handwork is something I respect since I’m a quilter and rug maker. I’ve enjoyed the results of my projects, but I do not have the ability to stay with something as difficult as working such tiny beads. Now that I’m an avid RVer, I see Bert and Sharon, old friends, just once a year. Sharon and I were members of a stock club years ago and she was our bookkeeper. She was just as precise with the books as she is with her beading. Reminds me of that old adage, if your are going to do something, do it well. That’s Sharon.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Time is:
Too slow for those who Wait,
Too Swift for those who Fear,
Too Long for those who Grieve,
Too short for those who Rejoice;
But for those who Love time is Eternity.  (By Anonymous)
I’m feeling poetic this morning.
Hope you enjoy this beautiful piece as much as I did.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


We have three main family get togethers per year Independence Day Reunion, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. At times we are splintered, like this year.

Traffic was sane for the two-hour drive to Virginia’s, and in time to see the turkey come out of the oven for a  turn over from breast side down, to breast side up.The smells greeted us on the driveway before we entered the house. Now that alone is a special joy.

It takes three people to turn an 18 pound hot bird safely.

Virginia did the first basting.

Doug was teaching the boys to play Risk, a game of armies and geography.

Jim and I  set out the snacks, quite a bit lower in fat  from former years;  dilled green beans, crackers and cheese, a bit of salami, chips and Texas caviar.

We brought a new game, LCR, a fun and fast-moving dice game. Non-stop table games in shifts went on all day between snacking and tending the bird. Virginia taught us two new dice games, Threes and High Or Low. Both, challenging and easy to learn. We like to choose games the whole family can play in which the kids are equal to an adult by age seven.

Close to dinner time, eleven year old Owen peeled the potatoes. Two days before, both boys cracked walnuts from my tree for the walnut pie that Cedric is famous for. When the boys were too little to reach the table, it was their job to grind the cranberries in my old-fashioned hand grinder. At some point Owen discovered peeling potatoes and opted for that job on his own.

The turkey rested for 40 minutes while the previously tenderized in the microwave beets and sweet potatoes were roasted in the oven, green beans stir fired, the gravy made, potatoes mashed, and the salads put together.

Doug carved the turkey.

The table was ready with three different kinds of cranberry sauce, but Cedric, who gets teased by his wife and brother-in-law, loves canned cranberries over the fresh any time.

Cranberries we all love at Thanksgiving;  the more the merrier.

With the magic of electronic communications, we still managed time with each other. Ken & Laurie spent Thanksgiving at home with their sons since Stewart, away at college as a freshman, came home for the first time in three months. It was comfortable talking with family members on the screen. Kristanne, too, connected by phone from Southern California.
A walk to the park in friendly California weather, the desserts and conversation until bedtime.  We all expressed our thankfulness for each other, and we realize how fortunate we are.
And I am  thankful for my cyber friends that follow my blog and give me input on my daily scribbles and photos. You put up with my rants and let me know when I’ve pleased you. Without you, my blog would not exist. Cheers to all of you in the blogging community.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Life is a grand party and I’m thankful for the liberties we have, the protections we enjoy, our ability to pursue happiness; those things that deserve a lifetime of giving thanks. Closer to home, I’m thankful for my children, home and family. Home most likely for us is  four square walls, but it can be a hut in the wild, a place on the grass, a cave near a beach or any place the heart can rest,  but one essential component for me is best expressed by the  poet, Charles Swain:

Home’s not merely four square walls,
It needs something to endear it;
Home is where the heart can bloom,
Where there’s some kind lip to cheer it!
What is home with none to meet,
None to welcome, none to greet us?
Home is where there’s one to love!
Home is where  there’s one to love us.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I ran into my friend Suki Tutthill at the bank  yesterday. She is hosting 31 people for Thanksgiving dinner. I groaned. Too much work. “No”, she said. “Its a free for all. I’m not even allowed in the kitchen. The women bring stuff and cook. The men do the clean up and I provide the place. Finding the dishes after everyone leaves can be interesting,” she chuckles. Hmmm. Sounds like fun. My simplify Thanksgiving this year is going to my daughter’s house and bringing the cranberries and a salad. We are a games playing family and enjoy the day long into the evening where turkey sandwiches, snacks, cards and loud competitive family stories are as much a part of the day as the dinner.

Our holiday get-to-gethers need simplifying in the future. Welcome holidays “lite”.  No more  wobbling, overloaded  from the table and packing on the  pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas every year.
My plan is to unsweeten the sweet potatoes, salads that don’t sog,  berry and apple pies without bottom crust. No side dishes and snacks with cream and sour cream. (Rich side dishes can be the centerpiece of another dinner.)

Lighten the work load, too.  Mash the potatoes with the peelings on. Make stuffing on the side ahead of time. Smoke the turkey. Smoked turkey takes one and one-half hours on a kettle barbeque with a drip dish at the bottom and the guys do it,  leaving the kitchen and oven free for other things.  Gravy  made days ahead by roasting a chicken and two turkey thighs. On the big day, just reheat.  Use  paper plates and paper napkins with dinner served buffet style.  Yup! Traditions can and do change.
I used to try and prepare everyone’s favorite dish for Thanksgiving. Pretzel jello for Laurie, sweet potatoes with rum, pineapple, orange juice and banana for Virginia, macaroni shells stuffed with Italian sausage for Kristanne. Ken, Doug, and Rich always concentrated on the potatoes and turkey.
Now, Doug picks blackberries every year for pies at Thanksgiving, Christmas and our July family reunion. Cedric makes walnut and pecan pies to die for. Virginia makes a pear tart that no one will give up. At one time, I  prepared no less than three vegetable side dishes such as corn pudding, creamed baby onions, burgundy carrots, spinach souffle, Harvard beets, marinated mushrooms, artichoke quiche. An embarrassment of riches.

As we give thanks  for our bounty,  suitably lighter,  we  know our table is still overladen compared to 98% of people in the world. It is appropriate that we are thankful, that we share, and that we have the means to help others at this special time of year and still enjoy our celebrated feast.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Who says California has no fall season?  It isn’t like the Eastern fall. I’m very thankful for the beauty in my own yard, my gazebo, the color around me.

Looking out the driveway.

Near the Guest House.

On the railing.

My biggest Japanese Maple.

A bush in my yard color enhanced a bit with Picassa.

When I was picking them, I didn’t think this bucket of weeds was pretty. But, through the lens it reminds us that all of nature has a beauty of its own if you look for it.

“True” holly. I like to pick them at Christmas but the berries wilt right away. Still, the yard has a flash of fall brightness  for its presence.
Today is shopping day for special things I like at Thanksgiving. I read where American’s are downsizing the traditional dinner this year. We are too, but I’m thankful for the many choices we have and rethinking the way I shop for food. More on that another day.

Monday, November 21, 2011


With Thanksgiving coming soon, I've looked at recipes that can be made ahead and keep well. The jellos, cranberries,  and some desserts  can be made two days ahead. Even the stuffing, if  made outside of the turkey, can be made two days before and heated in the microwave. Salads, to retain their freshness, are a bigger challenge. I found three that do well.
Joe Carcione's Stuffed Iceberg:
1/4 th cup grated carrot, 3 tbsp. sour cream, 1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp. lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. salt, 3 tbsp. minced fresh tomato, 3 oz. pkg. cream cheese, 1 tbsp. minced green pepper, 1 tbsp. minced green onion, 1 tbsp minced celery, 2 tsp. minced parsley, 1 large head of iceberg lettuce, 1/2 cup pomegranate berries.
Blend cream cheese, sour cream, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and salt. Add minced veggies. Hollow out the core and center of the lettuce. Stuff with carrot filling. Wrap lettuce in foil. Chill over night. At dinner time, slice crosswise and serve on a pretty plate with a  sprinkling of pomegranate berries. Serves six.
Tomato Green Bean Salad.
1 lb  fresh green beans, halved. 3 medium tomatoes cut into chunks. 1/3 cup basil olive oil. Salt to taste. 1 tbsp. minced fresh garlic.
Cook green beans for six minutes in boiling water, drain and rinse to cool in cold tap water. Dress with half the basil olive oil. Dress the cut tomatoes with other half of the basil olive oil, or to taste. Lightly salt both. Cover and refrigerate. Just before dinner, arrange green beans and tomatoes together on a plate, sprinkle with minced fresh garlic and serve. If there are basil leaves left in the garden, cut a few slices with a scissors to garnish. Serves  six, generously.
I like both of these salads because they don't take up much room in the refrigerator like a huge green salad does. The beans can conveniently be marinated in a plastic bag in the crisper and kept off the shelves.
Red Apple & Cabbage Slaw.
1/2  large red cabbage, sliced medium fine. (Food processor does this well.)  1/2  medium yellow onion, minced. 1 stalk celery finely sliced. 1/4 cup cider or red wine vinegar. 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/3 tsp salt, 1/2 cup plain or walnut flavored olive oil, 3  crisp red skinned apples, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.
Make dressing with  oil, vinegar and seasonings. Pour over  cabbage, onion, and celery and cover in the refrigerator the day before. Before dinner, core and dice the red apples. Add them and the chopped nuts to the bowl before serving.
One of these can help spread the  preparation time over several days since food is central to our American Thanksgiving celebration.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Terrific friends and neighbors are those who share their secrets with you. Meet Ron and Suzy, conventional people. Both have their own business. We went to visit Suzy’s open house for her Beauty Control  Spa.
We sipped wine and nibbled and talked and looked at her stuff. While visiting we discovered the unusual, both Ron and Suzy own a blow-up doll kept  hidden under the bed. Suzy pulled her “friend” Ward out, blew him up.

What do you do with a blow-up doll?

He can’t even sit up by himself on a chair.

One of their goldens  got very upset when she teasingly hugged the doll. The cat was very curious and took a swipe at him.
Suzy received Ward from her girlfriends at a bachelorette party when she and Ron married. Ron recieved his from an uncle when he divorced his first wife many years ago. Now we know what people do with them. Haul them out now and then for a few laughs.
However, Japanese men take their dolls seriously. I blogged them previously if you want to have a look back at the following link:

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Before the rain came, I hired an indispensable neighbor, Joe, to help me get ready for winter. He cleaned my gutters, cleaned and wrapped my swamp coolers and washed outside windows. All in half a day.  I took out one particularly long cord that I use for the leaf blower and untangled it, apologizing for the mess the cord was in. My son always manages to fold a cord easily and neatly so that it never tangles, I told him, but once I undo it, it never goes back in a neat circle. Before Joe left for the day, he called me outside to look at my cord.

Joe undid some of the cord and showed me how it is done.  I took this picture as a reminder.
Yesterday, Jim scanned about 130 photos for me from my youngest daughter’s memory book and I spent a greater portion of the day putting them through Piccasa editing for captions and damage repair. Old color photos fade miserably.  Digitized, they retain their best qualities.

Friday, November 18, 2011


For years, our government has condemned countries like China and Iran for their clampdown on Internet use.  Right now, Congress is debating a law that would give them the power to censor the world’s Internet — creating a blacklist that could target YouTube, WikiLeaks and even groups like Avaaz and individuals with “suspect” content.  Not good.  No internet company should have the power to censor me or any group they don’t happen to like for whatever reason.  It is far too tempting to censor stuff they personally don’t like that has nothing to do with terrorism or copyright infringement. . We already have copyright laws in place. The FBI monitors for terrorist related content. If a problem exists,  it can be settled in the courts. This broad-based law is over-kill.
Nor should internet companies be expected to police me. Let me give you a taste of the type of censorship we deal with because we blog for the San Francisco Chronicle, one of the most liberal, (supposedly), newspapers in the country.  If I misspell Peninsula, as Penisula, which I did one time, My blog could not be published for using the word Penis. I used the phrase tit-for-tat.  Oh, no! Bad word body part. And, honky tonk. Oops. Honky is a racial slur. And if you mention selling short your fellow-man, or that you saw something for sale that was silly, you are not allowed to advertise and sell in your blog content.  Obviously a broad mechanical censorship of the internet is frought with problems. Nor do I want a two dollar an hour employee from India, who doesn’t understand our culture, or a ten dollar an hour U.S. employee of an internet company to decide if what I say is suspect.
Why should the government  be leaning on corporations to police websites and arbitrarily close them down for “reasons unknown to us”?
To help keep the bill from passing, click on the following link and sign against this horrible bill and let congress know they’ve overstepped on our freedom of speech: 
AVAAZ accepts no corporate or government donations. They are a citizens advocacy group.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


There was a time when air conditioned cars were an expensive add on from the dealer. We thoroughly enjoyed our 1972 Pontiac Convertible and didn’t get an air conditioned car until 1976.  In fact, in Southern California, you could buy a car from the dealer without a heater, which we did, once.  Who needed it?
A Bay Area friend of ours bought a brand new 1961, (I believe it was a Chrysler) with an  air conditioning unit, to take a trip from California to Boston. The device was a square container of ice mounted on the hump over the drive shaft with a fan attached to the cigarette lighter. The fan blew air over the ice to cool the air. It worked until the ice melted.  Every couple of hours, our friends had to stop and buy a new block of ice.  It was a  hoot and convinced us air conditioning would never be a standard part of a car. Now, I can’t imagine being without it. Which, in a round about way, is where I’m going this morning, to have my air conditioning repaired. A hose is plugged and condensed water wets the carpet on the passenger side when the air conditioning is running.
And carpet in cars?  Don’t get me started.
Yesterday, I experimented  with pictures around my yard to see what I could come up with and I can’t say that the following close-up has much appeal…

…when the leaf itself is so pretty.


However, I liked this close-up shot of a gold pan.
Maybe because a gold pan wasn’t meant to be as pretty as a leaf.

The cables on Jim’s bike made an interesting shot. Kind of reminds me of when we were kids. Pageant magazine had a  monthly photo that required you to guess what the original object was from the close up. The answer was in the following issue, always a month away. No one in the family ever guessed an object correctly, but we loved trying.
The weather will soon turn wet and cold. We’ve enjoyed these sunny fall days.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Yesterday, I had appointments and shopping to do. As a blogger I’ve become more observant of everything I do and thus  enjoy using my camera for slice-of-life shots or curiosities like  this hand decorated car parked next to mine at the eye doctor. Not sure what Stay down wit da clown means?
At the grocery store, I was attracted by the bright red hair and the affectionate pose.

I visited a friend who was recently hospitalized.

His life has been shortened by an insect bite that led to multiple problems from flesh-eating bacteria;  a weakened heart and other maladies.  I enjoy visiting him every time I return home because he always has a smile,  a quip and a twinkle in his eyes.

When I returned to the house, I saw something…

I zoomed out to this…

And zoomed out again…

…to here.  My upstairs neighbor was bringing this picture to the thrift store.  I was trying for the affect my grandson described in the book, Zoom. Not exactly an impressive set of photos. I quickly realized what  a difficult method reverse zoom can be. One must find the perfect situation to make it work. Maybe next time.
But, if you notice the rusted gold pan in the above photo leaning against the garage wall?

Would you have recognized it from this close-up?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


In every life comes a visit to a hospital. Minimizing those visits is my goal and I’m pleased to say my “injury” will not result in surgery, something I had dreaded.  I learned it pays to eat properly and exercise. It has once again held me in good stead. While visiting the hospital for a test, I saw for the first time this sign:
Two of them, in fact. One in English and another in Spanish.  I knew that safe surrender has been advertised in the news, and radio, perhaps on television. I knew that  fire departments and hospitals encourage safe surrender of babies, if, as a new mother, without resources, or for any reason, you wish to give up your newborn. I had never seen a safe surrender sign before.
Unfortunately, in some states, it is still a crime to abandon your infant.  It usually begins with a young person, scared to tell her parents she is pregnant.  She doesn’t know what to do, or where to turn. She is completely incapable of taking care of a child or supporting it. Poverty is often a factor for her and her family, and the father.  The good news is that mother’s no longer need to abandon babies in a locker, or a dumpster, or on someone’s doorstep. Horrific tales of abandoned babies dying by being attacked by feral dogs, or smothered in plastic bags occurred for many years. Now, in most states,  there is a safe haven. Estimates indicate that over 600 children a year are abandoned in the United States.
I’m curious to know if our high schools provide  safe haven information for teens, the young girls most likely to find themselves in a situation with an unwanted pregnancy and the terrifying prospect of limited choices.   It doesn’t have to happen – it is heart breaking.  Abandoning a newborn to the elements is  almost sure death for the infant and a crime.
A Safe Haven facility in California is: Any Hospital, Staffed 24/7 Fire Rescue Station, or Staffed 24/7 Emergency Medical Service Station, with no questions asked, totally anonymous, free from fear of prosecution…… A compassionate approach that saves lives.
Safe haven laws in all states that have them are essentially the same.  They offer safe havens for newborns, and they offer:
  • Privacy No one will ask your name.
  • Legal You will not be breaking any laws.
  • Safe Your baby will be given medical care and placed in a good home.
  • Supportive You will be offered medical care and counseling.
I was glad to see the sign and hopefully, the word is out to every teen or young mother faced with the uncertainty of an unwanted pregnancy.
While waiting for my test, someone considered the soothing effect of an aquarium.  It is endlessly fascinating to watch fish swim about and temporarily remove troubling thoughts.


Life is good.