December 31, 2008

Irish Blessing for the New Year

"May love and laughter light your days,

and warm your heart and home.

May good and faithful friends be yours,

wherever you may roam.

May peace and plenty bless your world

with joy that long endures.

May all life's passing seasons

bring the best to you and yours!"

December 28, 2008

Happy Hanukkah!

Tonight marks the final night of the Hanukkah celebration. Hanukkah or Chanukah, is also known as The Festival of Lights. It is a celebration of victory over oppression and the miracle of one nights worth of oil lasting for eight. It is a special time of joy and beautiful traditions that are passed from generation to generation.

The message and significance of The Festival of Lights is one which we can all celebrate. Victory over oppression..... The right to worship as we please ...... Miracles and new beginnings in the midst of loss.

Blessings to all my dear friends who will be lighting that final candle this evening, and blessings to all who hold the message of Hanukkah in their hearts.


December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas - Peace on Earth!

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day

Their old familiar carols play,

And wild and sweet the words repeat

Of Peace on Earth, good will to men!"

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

December 22, 2008

Surprise! TerBear Loves Bears

I love bears, so it seemed very fitting when many years ago a sweet girl named Casey nicknamed me TerBear. She and her twin brother Keith lived down the street as they were growing up. They played with my children, Sara & Michael, and quickly became part of our family. I have so many fun memories of them. They are 27 now and no longer live a hop, skip, and jump away. Although they have moved on, they're always near in thought. 

I came across this cute bear transfer in my stash of patterns. There are seven bears in all. There's one chore for each day of the week. This pattern is Mend Day. When I am finished, you will see stitching on the little patches. I'm not quite sure what this little project is for, but not to worry.... all bears find good homes at TerBear's house. ;-)

December 19, 2008

"I'll be found in You"

I have been a spiritual person for as long as I can remember. As I was growing up my parents and grandparents encouraged me to believe in something far greater than myself. It was never forced upon me, it was modeled. I try to follow that example and stay true to my beliefs and treat others with love and respect. 

There have been many dark times throughout the years. During those trying times, my faith has been shaken, but I never stopped loving God. I feel God's Divine Spirit in me.... and all around me. From the whisper of the breeze to the warm embrace of another. I believe that there is a spark of that Divine Spirit within each of us. And through that Spirit, we are connected to one another.

This past week has been one of personal sadness and loss. It has been a time of wondering why special people leave the earth far too soon. Why life unfolds the way it does. I realize that those answers are not to be known. At least not now.

I believe in coincidences but I think they are often "Godincidences." So many times I have been led to exactly what or who I needed at that very moment. Yesterday was one of those times. The deaths of two sweet acquaintances this week broke my heart. I was sitting at my computer attempting to find something to keep my mind off the sadness when I decided to focus on a new blog template. While at a particular site, a Godincidence occurred. The song link (that I have shared above) popped up. I cried as I listened, acknowledging the timing of this completely unrelated "find." I cried as the lyrics spoke to my heart. "When the world has fallen out from under me, I'll be found in you, still standing...... You make all things new." Just the reminder that my soul longed to hear.

I was so touched by the use of people of all races and ages in the video. It gave me a strong visual of my belief that we truly are all connected. How blessed we are to have a God who never leaves us and a world of people to share that love with.

* Shadowfeet sung by Brooke Fraser

December 14, 2008

Carrying on a Tradition

Last Sunday, my little buddy (striking a silly pose) and I had a blast making gingerbread cookies. Unfortunately my camera ran out of batteries before I could take any pictures of our creations. The Santa cookies are from another batch the following afternoon. Believe me, Issac's cookies were much more original and better looking! We had bears, angels, stars, lollipops with sprinkles, and of course ..... a few gingerbread men. Sara came in and made some cookies as well. All three of us ended up dusted in flour. It looked like it was snowing inside. Ahhh..... just like old times. I remember her and Michael baking with me when they were Issac's age. It's fun to share those family traditions. I have wonderful memories of baking with my grandmother, who fortunately is still with us at 92. She was so patient as we (my brother, sister, and I) played in the flour and rolled out our miniature pie crust creations loaded with cinnamon and sugar. :-)

Although I never baked with my great-grandmother (my Grossmutter) I watched her many times. She was a wonderful cook. I remember how fascinated I was watching her drop and cut the Spaetzle into the boiling broth. Watching the process was certainly fun, but eating the Spaetzle was even better. Being the mother to 7 children, she spent many hours cooking and baking! She gathered her own eggs and baked her own bread. She was known for her fresh Elderberry pies and German spice cookies. The rolling pin that Issac is holding was hers. If it could talk, oh the wonderful stories it would tell. Hundreds of pie crusts and rolled cookies were lovingly made by this beautiful woman. My Grossmutter is no longer here in body, but she is with me in spirit. It is my hope that Issac will have fond memories of his times laughing and baking with his Grammy.

November 27, 2008

Happy Day of Thanks!

Hay Harvest by Camille Pissarro 1901

"Thanksgiving is the holiday of peace,
the celebration of work and the simple life...
a true folk-festival that speaks the poetry
of the turn of the seasons,
the beauty of seedtime and harvest,
the ripe product of the year -
and the deep, deep connection
of all these things with God."

~Ray Stannard Baker

November 23, 2008

Snowman....... Sacramento Style

Snow in the Sacramento area is a VERY rare thing. Instead of heading to the mountains, I decided to make a Feltman. Actually, he is missing a body so a more accurate term might be Felthead. :-)

I cut out this little guy and added some eyeshadow for the cheeks, beads, sequins, buttons, and rick-rack. I then hand stitched everything together with "invisible thread." I lost count of the exact number of attempts it took for these middle-aged eyes to thread a needle with "invisible" thread. Let's just say....... it was quite a few. Despite the needle threading difficulties, I find hand sewing very relaxing.

The photo doesn't do this fellow much justice, but I think you get the general idea.  Holding the project up with one hand and taking the photo with the other was almost as tricky as walking and chewing gum. I made a little pocket at the top so I can run a small dowel through and attach a ribbon for hanging. I am happy with my prototype, although I may change the mouth on any future versions. Since he was my first, I am leaving him just the way he is!

November 9, 2008

Patience is a Virtue

Patience is also a necessity when you own a computer! Do you ever feel as if your computer has a mind of its own? I've felt that way recently. It seems that right when I'm at a crucial point, my computer totally freezes. Since it happens without warning, I have no time to exit the program, much less save my work. I can handle the usual "my computer is frozen, Ctrl - Alt - Del, end task, back in business." Unfortunately, my most recent experiences have been, "my computer is completely frozen, tried every trick I know (minus the use of a hammer) - NOTHING WORKS, unable to shut-down properly, resort to turning it off while the programs are running." Then..... patiently waiting to try the entire process again.

While sitting and waiting patiently this morning, I was reminded of an Ellen Degeneres skit from her Here and Now special. Anybody who knows me will attest to my silly sense of humor, so this is right up my alley. Prior to the quote below, Ellen was talking about the fact that our society has become far too rushed and impatient. 

"Yes, we're lazy. Yet we also can't seem to sit still. So we've started making things like Go-Gurt. That's yogurt for people on the go. Let me ask you, was there a big mobility problem with yogurt before? How time-consuming was it, really? [pretending to be on the phone:] "Hello?...Oh, hi, Tom...oh, I've been dying to see that movie...Umm, no...I just opened up some yogurt...Yeah, I'm in for the night...No, not even later-it's the kind with fruit on the bottom. Well, have fun. Thanks anyway." :-)

I guess I could break down and buy a new computer, but there is no guarantee that the new one will be trouble free. Instead, I've decided to use these moments as lessons in patience. Hey.... the next time I'm waiting on my computer, I'll grab a good ol' fashioned container of yogurt. No Go-Gurt needed for this girl.

October 25, 2008

"My Symphony"

"To live content with small means;

to seek elegance rather than luxury,
and refinement rather than fashion;
to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich;
to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly;

to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages,
with open heart;

to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely,
await occasions, hurry never.

In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious,
grow up through the common.
This is to be my symphony."
by William Henry Channing

October 18, 2008

Divorcing Ed

Today I celebrate a long awaited victory! This special day marks the 6 month anniversary of my divorce from Ed.

Ed and I secretly lived together on and off for 37 years. Our relationship began when I was 9 years old. I finally got up the courage to introduce him to my family and close friends a couple years ago. Does this sound bizarre? Well...... if Ed were a person, absolutely! Since Ed is an acronym for Eating Disorder, maybe not quite as bizarre. (See sidebar for Jenni Schaefer's "Life Without Ed" link)

This post isn't about the horrors of bulimia and anorexia, but rather my freedom and victory from them. It is also a celebration of my new journey into the "normal eater's" world. Does Ed still hang around? Yes, especially during times of sadness and stress. The difference between this "break-up" and the HUNDREDS in the past; I no longer take Ed back. Our "divorce" was final on April 18, 2008, and unlike the dissolution of my 22 year marriage, this divorce is one I can truly celebrate!

If you have an eating disorder, facing this reality is the first step toward healing. Reaching out for help takes courage and effort, but you won't regret it. Please feel free to e-mail me and I will share valuable resources that helped me get beyond this life altering disorder. My e-mail link can be found on my profile. 

For those who feel desperately lost, do not give up hope for a full recovery. I can honestly say that there is light at the end of the tunnel. A light that I NEVER dreamed I would find!


October 12, 2008

Water, Sunshine, & Persistence = Cotton!

Click on the top photo to enlarge

The top photo shows the growth process from seed to the final cotton. The beautiful flower in the second photo appears first on the plant. For those of you familiar with flowers, you might notice the similarity to Hibiscus or Hollyhock since they are all in the Mallow family.

Yesterday morning was the first time I noticed that my plants had produced cotton. Judging by my reaction, you would have thought I'd just struck gold! I have tried to grow cotton for the past 2 years. I got my seeds in the ground earlier this year so the plant had time to produce before the cold temperatures hit. Hooray, I was finally successful. I am so proud of my miniature harvest! Thank goodness I wasn't planning on making any clothing from this crop. After I remove the seeds, (cotton gin not needed ) I might have just enough to make a pair of denim jeans......... for a mouse. ;-) Believe me, I have a new appreciation for the cotton industry. I can't imagine how many plants are necessary to make one cotton blouse or pair of pants!

I actually grew the plants in hopes of sharing the process with the students. I think they will be fascinated to learn that some of their clothing material began as a plant. I am eager to see their reactions.

October 4, 2008

Log Cabin Quilt

I made this wall hanging a few years ago from scraps of fabric I had tucked away. The Log Cabin pattern is one of my favorites, as far as traditional quilts go. It is fairly easy to piece, it is reminiscent of pioneer times, and it is symbolic of both the hearth and the home. Each block begins with a red square. This square represents the fire which was vital to families for both warmth and cooking. The strips (logs) are placed around the center square (hearth). This pattern became very popular in the United States during the Civil War. The quilts were raffled off to support the efforts of the Union Army.

Many patterns can be made by changing the placement of the individual log squares. This particular pattern is called Barn Raising which is a practice still common in Amish communities. Other patterns include Fields and Furrows and Sunshine and Shadow. These names are indicative of a time when families relied heavily on farming for their survival.

I’ve always felt drawn to the past. I believe that’s why this pattern just seems to “feel right” to me. Who knows, perhaps God allows our souls to move throughout lifetimes. If that is the case, I was definitely a pioneer woman the last time around! :-)

September 28, 2008

Baseball Glove Warning Tag?

"Placing your Wilson Ball Glove in the microwave or oven Will damage the glove and is Not recommended."
Pardon me if I sound presumptuous, but isn't this common sense? I wonder how many lawsuits Wilson had to prompt this warning. I feel so naive. I had no idea that there are people who try to bake their baseball gloves. 
Darn, what am I to do now? No microwave or oven use? I'm not sure if it will fit in my toaster ~ but I'll try! ;-)

September 27, 2008

Never A Dull Moment!

Working as a school librarian is wonderful! I am fortunate enough to see every student at one time or another. Most of them I see on a weekly basis. I help the 4th-8th graders find research material and good "pleasure reading" books. Before the K-3rd graders check-out their "new" books, I read them a story. I use story time as an opportunity to help them make connections between what I have read and occurrences in the world. Last winter I read a cute story about a mama grizzly and her cub. Prior the the story I placed a post-it high on the wall to show them the average height of a male grizzly. It was amazing seeing their little eyes staring 9 feet up toward the ceiling. When I read a Native American tale last spring, it gave me the opportunity to bring in a basket and doll that I had made from tule reeds. I cut some fresh reeds so they could see, feel, and compare between the fresh and dried plant. I also brought photos of a trip that my grandson and I had taken to the Maidu Center in Roseville. I had some great step-by-step pictures of a docent starting a fire from friction and soaproot plant. This week our story included a little lamb and I shared some sheered wool for them to feel. I know that many of these children may not have the opportunity to experience much of nature, so I try to bring it to them.

Are you wondering what on earth this above paragraph has to do with the gecko? I began this post intending to share a cute story, but decided to give you a little background information. Okay, I got a little carried away. Now for the gecko story. Last fall I had just read to a class of kindergartners. It was near Thanksgiving and I asked them to raise their hand if they wanted to share something they were thankful for. Twenty little hands shot up. They shared things such as ~ family, toys, pets, and food. As I neared the end of the group a little boy said, "Geico." I thought I heard him incorrectly so I asked him to repeat himself. Once again, and very seriously, he said, "Geico." It took all I had to keep a straight face while thanking him for sharing. I later whispered to the teacher, "I was pretty thankful for Geico myself when I was rear-ended a few years back." I have no idea what prompted his comment, but I smile to this day just thinking back on it. Out of the mouth of babes, as the saying goes. ;-)

I will share some of these "gems" from time to time. Hopefully you will enjoy them as much as I do.

September 22, 2008

My Favorite Season Begins Today!

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns." ~George Eliot

September 14, 2008

Alien Invasion

When this picture was taken, my grandson Issac was barely able to walk. His speech was a mixture of real words and baby babbling. Fast forward 5 years. That "little" guy is now in first grade and has a wonderful vocabulary that often amazes me.

He and I enjoy going on little trips. Yesterday we went to the local children's theater and saw a great play! Part of our time together is spent in the car as we travel from place to place. A couple years ago, my car suddenly became a spaceship. Each time we would prepare to leave Issac would say, "Blast off Grammy." He wasn't satisfied with me saying okay and then doing nothing. How can a spaceship blast off without making any adjustments to the instrument panel? So, our tradition began. My defroster button soon became our turbo boosters. I occasionally had to make other adjustments per the pilot’s instructions as we neared various planets.

About a year ago, the old space ship was scrapped for an intergalactic transport vehicle. It may look like an ordinary Camry, but believe me, it has super powers. Yesterday we were fighting off aliens. "6088" of them to be exact. They are pretty clever those aliens. No matter which buttons I pushed, we just couldn't rid ourselves of them. Have you ever tried driving down Interstate 80 while being pursued by 6088 creatures? It's pretty tricky. Fortunately my trusty captain was able to call out orders from his carseat in the back of the vehicle. One of his first orders was, "Step on it Grammy!" I must admit that the comment caused me to burst into laughter. I had to collect myself quickly, since fighting off aliens is certainly no laughing matter. Just as we neared our destination, I was able to hand the captain the item that I believe saved us from our demise…... the invisible shield tool. (Aka tire pressure gauge) With that, we were safe and sound.

I treasure my times with Issac. Experience tells me that my little captain will one day be grown and my car will be just that..... a car. My soul aches at the thought. I use that ache as my reminder to stay focused on the "now" and savor every special moment.

September 7, 2008

Self-Induced Chaos

On Sunday mornings I'm a phone volunteer for the Wildlife Care Association. I call each hour to pick-up messages then return calls to assist people who have found orphaned or injured wildlife. It is difficult doing this away from home via cell phone because there are times when I need to access wildlife information from my computer. So ....... Sundays until 1:00 p.m. I stay put.

Being one who likes to make good use of my time, I do the weekly laundry between calls. I also do a bit of cleaning and water the garden. I decided this week that each Sunday I could also use this time to try new recipes. I found one for oatmeal butterscotch cookies that sounded interesting and I actually had all the ingredients on hand!

Well, I must say that my multi-tasking skills aren't quite what they were when my children were young. Timers have become my Sunday morning partners. I set a timer to check WCA phone messages each hour, a timer for the laundry, a timer to move the hose in the garden, and a timer for the cookies (which kept ringing every 8 to 10 minutes). Whenever a buzzer sounded I wasn't sure which way to turn. In addition, I was getting pretty hungry smelling those cookies baking, so lunch preparation got thrown into the mix. (figuratively speaking) Remember the Lucy and Ethel "Chocolate Factory" episode, where the conveyer belt kept spitting out the candy faster and faster? I could relate, although the pace wasn't quite as fast.

I must say that even though it was a bit crazy, for the most part, it all worked out well. A few young birds and a pair of baby squirrels were taken to the Wildlife Care Facility, the laundry was washed and put away, the cookies came out very nicely, plus I had a yummy lunch. Even more amazing was the fact that I didn't put the laundry in the oven or the cookies in the dryer. Of course not you say? Well......... I found my phone in the refrigerator recently. Old age, or too much multi-tasking? I vote for multi-tasking! I'm way too young to be old. Besides, I believe I read once that phones need a good chill every now and then. Must make the batteries last longer. ;-)

August 31, 2008

Sunday Morning Harvest

This post could also be titled, "A little of this and a little of that." This mini harvest consists of Asian cucumbers, sweet peppers, tomatoes, Swiss chard, figs, and pears. The harvest may be small, but my joy is plentiful!

August 30, 2008

The Cotton Cloth Dilemma

I recently found a cotton dishcloth pattern that sounded interesting, so I dusted off my knitting needles. I made a couple changes as I went along. Just saying that makes me sound like such a creative, experienced knitter! "Yeah, I threw in a purl stitch here and a few knit stitches there." In actuality, I made a mistake and knitted the same row twice on one end, so I decided to match my "mistake" when I got to the opposite end.

Now that I'm finished knitting my cute dishcloth, you'd think I would immediately begin using it. I enjoy wearing the scarves I have knitted and I've always worn the clothing I've sewn, but this is different. None of those items have been used to wipe up spills. After hours, (yes ~ hours to make this little cloth) I can't stand the thought of grape juice stains all over it. I guess I could limit its use to water spills, but that would be silly. So...... just as candles are made to be burned, cotton cloths are made to be used. Its off to the sink.
P.S. I don't think there's any harm in switching to white grape juice, do you? ;-)

August 24, 2008

Say What?

A few years ago when and I was returning from the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, I came upon the small town of Umpqua. I went into the general store to purchase some snacks. Before leaving, I had the clerk to tell me the proper way to pronounce the town's name. He said, "Oh, just think of the sound that you would make if somebody punched you in the gut.... Ump-kwa." Fortunately I made it out of the store before bursting into laughter. Luckily I don't have any personal experience with being punched in the gut, but if I did, I really doubt that I would yell Ump-kwa!
There are now Umpqua Banks in my area and I laugh each time I see one, but for some strange reason, I always feel as if I just had the wind knocked out of me. :-)


Starry Night Over The Rhone by Vincent van Gogh

"She was amazed by the number of people who managed to float through their entire lives on emotional autopilot. It's as if they were surrounded by an invisible shield. One which even the fiercest of weaponry could never penetrate.

She had always been proud, almost to the point of arrogance, that she sat in the pilot's seat of her life. Feeling the depth of every emotion. Strange that she would find herself envying them....... the oblivious and nonchalant."

August 17, 2008

Watermelon Update

On July 3rd I wrote about my baby watermelon. Well, the baby has grown! This is what it looked like as of yesterday, August 16th. It's pretty amazing what a little water and lots of sunshine will do. There are others on the vines as well. They should all be ripe just in time for that fall picnic. :-)

August 10, 2008

A Time of Renewal

My summer break is quickly nearing an end. I have had a wonderful time. I must admit that I wish it would continue indefinitely. It's not that I don't enjoy my job; it's just that working full-time tends to interfere with my hobbies. :-) 

I have had time to visit with family and friends, work in the garden for hours, take a few tap dancing classes, try some new recipes, do a bit of sewing, enjoy nature, and take some peaceful naps. Each one of those things has been wonderfully refreshing! I have also had time to quiet my thoughts and think about my life. Time to focus on being spiritual, kind, and authentic. I am letting go of behaviors that no longer serve me, and gradually replacing them with healthier thoughts and actions. I am learning to love myself, just as I am. Fortunately, self-acceptance comes easier with age. I am putting the days of wishing I were someone else behind me. When those old thoughts creep up, I remind myself that I am exactly who I am meant to be at this moment in time. I look forward to continuing on this journey of self-acceptance and inner growth.

So…. if you catch me whimpering in the next few weeks about getting up at the crack of dawn, give me a little kick in the tush and remind me of how fortunate I am to have had this time of rest and renewal.

August 8, 2008

"Dinner's Ready!"

Vegetarian bean tostadas are one of my favorite entrees! Ahh.... crisp corn tortillas, beans, salsa, sour cream, and a little lettuce. Yum! As I was frying my tortilla yesterday, I set off the smoke alarm. The tortilla didn't actually burn, but the oil was so hot it began to smoke. When the alarm sounded I immediately began to laugh. Not something you usually do when there is smoke in the house, but it triggered a funny memory. Years ago, our neighbor was notorious for burning their meals. Since we often had our windows open, we could hear their smoke alarm go off. She was a good sport about it and it became a fun joke. She once told me that when the smoke alarm would sound, her family knew that dinner was ready. Funny, after all those years, that was my first thought. Dinner's ready! They moved away long ago, but many happy memories of their friendship remain, and burnt dinners are one of them.

August 7, 2008

Mid-life Journey

Painting by John William Waterhouse "Lady of Shalott"

A few months ago a co-worker and I were discussing her upcoming birthday. She announced with a bit of sadness that she was going to be 30. A parent who was standing nearby stated that she had turned the big "Three O" the previous year. I laughed and shared that I had recently turned 46. The woman looked at me and said, "Oh, I bet you wish you were our age instead." Without giving it much thought I replied, "No, actually I'm really happy where I'm at." As I walked away I was filled with such a strong sense of contentment.

Until that moment, I really hadn't realized that I was truly okay with mid-life. Perhaps that's because my "crisis" came at 41 with my adjustment to an empty nest and the end of a 22 year marriage. My "crisis" enveloped me with such a deep sadness; at times I felt as if I literally couldn't breathe, let alone function from day to day. Thanks to my faith and the support and kindness of family and friends, little by little the healing took place. I'd like to say that it happened quickly, but complete healing has taken a few years. The only negative elements that remain are guilt and regret. Guilt that my plans of a forever marriage failed. Guilt that I let my children down. Regret that perhaps there was something he or I could have done differently. But as I've learned during this mid-life journey; guilt and regret won't change the past. If allowed, they will cast a dark shadow on the future. So, as the final step in the healing process, I'm working on self-forgiveness. I'm focusing on the "now" and the blessings that surround me. I'm giving thanks for the friendship that I have with the man I shared half my life with. And most of all, I'm basking in the joy that comes from seeing the amazing adults my children have grown up to be!

No one promised us that life would be easy. Compared to many my "crisis" was minor. My thoughts and prayers go out to all who are hurting. May you find both physical and emotional healing. May you see rays of sunshine on the cloudiest of days. May you too be blessed with the love and compassion of family and friends.

August 2, 2008

Creating a Wildlife Habitat

Would you like to encourage birds, butterflies, frogs, and other fascinating creatures to your yard? It is actually pretty simple. Listed below are the four main elements for an effective habitat:

1. Food - This might be berries and fruit for birds, nuts for squirrels, and nectar for butterflies. By choosing native plants you allow nature to provide for the insects and animals. Your local nursery will be more than happy to help you choose specific plants that will attract birds, butterflies, and a variety of insects. You can also provide seed and nectar at feeders.

2. Water - If space allows, a pond is a great water source. Not only will wildlife drink from it, they will bathe in it as well. If creating a pond is not feasible, a birdbath or a few shallow dishes will do the trick. Just remember to keep them filled with fresh water, especially during hot weather. You will find some birdbath ideas on this site.

3. Cover - By planting a variety of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs, you will give your animal friends many places to find shelter from predators and extreme weather conditions. Dead trees and logs also provide cover. Try planting foliage of varying heights for different animals’ needs

4. Places To Raise Young - By having a variety of cover plants you encourage the raising of offspring. You might want to put up a birdhouse or nesting box. Check to see which sizes your local birds prefer. Native flowers and host plants for caterpillars will encourage butterflies to lay their eggs. If you are interested in attracting frogs and dragonflies, a pond is ideal.

If you would like to have your wildlife habitat certified, just follow the steps listed on the National Wildlife Federation site. The NWF site also provides some colorful and informative tip sheets.

You don't need to be "officially certified" to provide these necessary habitat elements. All you need is a little planning and some patience. You will find that the benefits are numerous! Don’t forget our future generation. If you have children or grandchildren, allow them to share in the process. A love and respect for our world and its animals is a precious thing to instill. I find it fascinating viewing nature through the eyes of a child. May we never lose that sense of wonder!

July 29, 2008

In My Garden

I've loved gardening for as long as I can remember. Although it can be quite tiring at times, the benefits far outweigh the minor aches. For in my garden, I find peace and solitude. I feel connected to the earth. While I work, I often think of my ancestors who gardened out of necessity, and not just for pleasure. Gardening seems to fulfill my desire to nurture. It allows me to focus on something outside of myself. To give, asking nothing much in return. My garden blesses me with fruit, vegetables, and an array of flowers. These gifts in turn help feed and protect the wildlife I cherish. I have had the benefit of gardening in the same location for over 2 decades. I have planted tiny saplings that have grown to be huge trees. I watch the garden continually change and shift as plants and trees grow and shade my sunny beds. It is a place of renewal. Many of my favorite memories throughout the years are those of my children. The yard was a wonderful place for them to play and explore nature. Their laughter still echoes through my mind.

There was a gentle breeze this morning as I was watering. I stopped and listened to the finches at the feeder and took a deep breath of fresh air. Suddenly this phrase came to mind, "It is well with my soul." From somewhere deep within my memory came the chorus of an old hymn and it felt so appropriate. Yes, when I am working in my garden, "It is well with my soul!"

* This hymn was written by Horatio Spafford after much heartbreak. It is an amazing story!

July 28, 2008

Lessons from a Rabbit

I noticed that yesterday was the anniversary of Beatrix Potter's birth. Although I am enchanted with all of her stories and illustrations, The Tale of Peter Rabbit is the story that immediately comes to mind when I think of her.

'Now, my dears,' said old Mrs. Rabbit one morning, 'you may go into the fields or down the lane, but don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden: your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.'

With that said, where was the first place Peter ran off to? Yes, Mr. McGregor's garden. I read this story many times when I was younger. I remember marveling at his courage and gasping at his disobedience. Right after he was told not to, he went into the very garden where his father had perished. Peter's curious and mischievous nature nearly cost him his life. Fortunately the story has a good ending. Even though I was young, I understood that there are consequences to our actions, and sometimes they aren't very pleasant.

How many times have I found myself in Peter's situation? Faced with multiple choices, I have allowed my curious and mischievous nature to be my guide. I have gone 'under the fence' instead of to 'the fields or down the lane.' I have chosen the path that has led to unhappy and painful consequences.

The story ends with Peter barely making it home alive and dropping to the floor in pure exhaustion. We never learn if that was the last of his misadventures. Hopefully he learned his lesson, for I know I have.

July 23, 2008

Kudos to the Travel Channel

About 5 years ago, the Travel Channel aired a neat show called, "Top 10 Wonders of the West." Listed at #9 was the Columbia River Gorge. Although it looked beautiful, I was immediately captivated by the footage of the Multnomah Falls. Until then, I had no idea they even existed. I decided that someday I would venture up that way. Well, a few years ago my "someday" became a reality. To say that the falls looked spectacular would be an understatement! They were like nothing I had ever seen before. The beauty, the sound, the mist..... it was so breathtaking. I must admit that the hike to the top was not an easy one, but it was well worth it! The view was amazing. The entire Columbia River Gorge area is beautiful as well. There are a variety of smaller waterfalls to be seen and explored. If you haven't had the opportunity to travel there, you might want to add that to your "someday" list. There are many other memorable places that I visited throughout California and Oregon which I will be sharing from time to time.

I didn't have a digital camera while on my trip, so my photos are in albums. (lucky for you) These pictures showing the Columbia River and Multnomah Falls are from the Internet. I just wanted to give you a tiny glimpse of what I saw. Obviously, these pictures don't do this area much justice. I do however have these wonderful albums..... oh sorry. :-)

July 22, 2008

A Loving "Forever" Home

Thanks to the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), numerous animals have found compassion, love, and freedom from abuse. Many of the animals once lived in chains. Others were rescued from the exotic animal trade industry. Some were forced to perform then abandoned when they no longer seemed "useful" to their owners. Living in California, I'm fortunate enough to have visited the original sanctuary on a couple occasions. My father has volunteered for PAWS and had the opportunity to see these beautiful and majestic animals up close.

This link will lead you to their wonderfully informative site. You can read about PAWS history and see the fascinating animals who now call the sanctuary home. There are virtual tours and a list of times when the sanctuaries are open to the public. I watched the video "Maggie's migration to PAWS" with tears. After 20 years of being the only elephant in a small Alaska zoo, she was free to roam about the sanctuary and be with other elephants for the very first time. They welcomed her with "trunk kisses." Well, perhaps that is not the official term, but it appeared that way to me.

I have nothing but admiration for Pat and Ed, the founders of PAWS. For over 20 years they have selflessly dedicated themselves to providing a safe haven to these beautiful animals.

July 19, 2008

Precious People

Granddaughter, Daughter, Niece, Sister, Sister-in-Law,
Mother, Mother-in-Law, Grandmother, Aunt, Cousin
Each one of my titles represents a unique connection to a treasured family member. Their love, encouragement, and friendship are truly what makes life worth living.
I am blessed beyond measure!

From Tree to Table

My "crop" of plums was wonderful this year. There are plums for the fruit bowl, plums for sharing, plums for baking, and plums for the squirrels and birds that frequent the yard. In the past, I have made plum jam. I decided to try something MUCH easier this year. I found this cobbler recipe on the internet. It was very easy to make. You could substitute the plums with other fruit. Peaches or apricots would be wonderful. Please e-mail me if you are interested in the recipe link. 

My cobbler isn't going to win any blue ribbons for appearance, (I was a bit embarrassed posting it, ) but my taste testers gave me the thumbs up. I know taste is what's most important. Before I bake my next one, I'll be sure to have some vanilla ice-cream on hand for a yummy a la mode treat. :-)

July 17, 2008

Fuzzy Pollinators

Being a gardener has so many perks. One of them is bees. Yes, bees. Those little creatures that send people running for cover in a matter of seconds. Fortunately, I've never really been afraid of them. In fact, I am fascinated by them, and find myself grateful for their work as pollinators. The fuzzy little insect in the photo is a bumble bee I spotted in my garden. A closer look at the photo shows how fuzzy she is. I'm assuming it's a she since all the worker bees are female. Hey...... ALL the workers are female? Hmmm..... :-)

I was an apiarist (beekeeper) for a couple years. It was fun watching those busy little bees make all that honey. Once Issac (my grandson) was able to run all around the yard, I felt it might be better to sell my hive, rather than worry about him getting stung. Perhaps someday, when Issac is older, he and “Grammy” can raise bees together.

July 16, 2008

Sleepover at TerBear's House!

Thanks to Laura and her wonderful creative abilities, the adorable little fellow on the right, and his cute sleepsack, will be arriving soon for a permanent sleepover! I am anxiously awaiting his arrival. To learn more about his home in Pogo Forest, and his many friends..... check out this link.

July 15, 2008

What is Etsy?

Remember those wonderful days when we felt free to create and explore? We let our imaginations run wild. We often stifle that creative freedom as we grow older. Perhaps that is why crafting and the creative process has such a powerful draw for me. It allows me to revisit a time when clouds could be painted purple, if that is how I saw them. :-)

Etsy is a unique marketplace and online community for all things handmade. To see a short informative video, visit the link above. There are many great interviews, beginning with the founder. I really enjoyed hearing his inspiration for the site and his vision for the future. Whether you are buying, selling, or just gathering inspiration, you will find it at Etsy!

July 13, 2008

My Little Green Visitor - with Spectacular Vision!

This daylily is unlike any of the others in my yard. It has a triple layer of petals. I headed outside ready to take a few pictures when I spotted this little Praying Mantis. (to see it a little better, click on the picture) As I moved around the flower to get a good shot, it moved to the opposite side. Our cat and mouse game was rather comical. We did this "little dance" a few times before I finally took the picture. I was pretty surprised by its visual skills and became curious...... so I did a bit of research. According to National Geographic, "The Praying Mantis' excellent eyesight allows them to see movement up to 60 feet." No wonder I wasn't able to take a close-up!

July 9, 2008

Beauty in Simplicity

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. Robert Brault

July 8, 2008

Kathy's Flowers

My good friend and neighbor, Kathy, loves gardening as much as I do. We often chat over this fence while working in our gardens. Thanks to her green thumb, I have these beautiful Morning Glories to brighten my rustic little fence. Year after year they faithfully return, gently spilling a sea of lavender blossoms over anything near. I look forward to seeing them appear each spring, and feel a twinge of sadness when their blossoms disappear in the late fall. When the weather becomes colder, Kathy and I might go awhile without seeing one another. I know that she is near, and when the warmth of spring arrives, so too does her familiar voice from over my little rustic fence. These are the "simple" things that bring joy to our lives!

July 3, 2008

Natural Beauty

These photos were taken last year while hiking the creek near Horsetail Falls. Just looking at them brings back some wonderful memories. The sights and sounds were awesome. I love the sound of water spilling over the rocks. There were also various types of birds nearby - serenading us. I took the bottom photo because I was fascinated by the feathery looking plant in the water. I initially thought it was some type of fern, but on closer inspection, I found it to be roots from a nearby tree. This picture doesn't do it justice, but I hope you will get a glimpse of its beauty. "Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts." Rachel Carson

Watermelon in the fall?

Well........ let's just say that I got my seeds in a bit late this spring. Right now the stores and fruit stands are beginning to sell huge, delicious watermelon. This little fella' is the largest of my crop. :-) I just noticed it yesterday, and I'm thrilled, as only a gardener can be. There are lots of flowers on the vines, so I'm hoping for a bumper crop. Will anyone be up for a fall picnic?

July 2, 2008

"A bucket of Bermuda per day."

I was pretty bummed that my newly tilled garden was sprouting Bermuda. I knew if I didn't stay on top of it, I would soon have lawn where I want a vegetable garden. With the hot weather I felt that tackling the entire area at once would prove to be a bit exhausting. Plus, I have other things I'd rather be doing besides pulling weeds. A few years ago the almond industry had a successful commercial which stated, "A can a week. That's all we ask." My new slogan: A bucket of Bermuda per day. That's all I ask of myself." That's definitely feasible!

Painted Pots

The view from my bedroom window was a pile of old bricks. Once I stacked them, I decided that a few potted plants would look nice. Being a bit frugal, I passed on the fancy pots and decided that I could just buy plain terra cotta and paint them. With just a few coats of paint and a some pretty petunias I turned my boring view to a much brighter one. Now I love opening the window blinds!