Friday, October 31, 2008

Nightmare on Willow Glenn Drive

OK, I hate Halloween. I used to hate it because of it's spiritual significance, how as Christians we should be celebrating life, not death, etc. And though, I still believe that to be true, I am not going to be dogmatic about it. I think to a certain extent, most people don't make it into something like that. It's just a silly dress-up holiday where people eat too much candy. This is why I hate Halloween. The first October Hubby and I were married was the first Halloween I actually ever gave out candy. For some reason, the apartment complexes I had lived in previously there just wasn't much trick-or-treating going on.
So, I got all excited to give out candy that year. It was fine the first hour or so. You get your cute little 6 year olds in princess and Ninja costumes with their moms standing out by the sidewalk yelling, "Don't forget to say 'Thank-you'." And that's fun. But then, around 8:00 you get these obnoxious junior high and high school kids coming around, some even without costumes and they have this look on their face that says, "Give me candy, wench, or I'll egg your house!" And then, it wasn't much fun anymore. And then.... we moved to this neighborhood. And trick-or-treating takes on a whole new dimension. It's a nightmare of epic proportions. The whole pickin' town comes to our subdivision to trick-or-treat. Crowds of people are walking the streets. Cul-de-sacs set up tables at the entrances and the residents sit there and give out candy to prevent the mobs from trampling their flower beds and lawns. It's awful. We just leave. Since we've had the kids we go to the big church in town and enjoy their Harvest Festival. It's a big shindig and the kids enjoy it. Hubby really didn't want to go this year since this week has been incredibly busy, but I told him we are going because there's no way I'm staying home and passing out candy. I really hate Halloween.

Friday, October 24, 2008

My Grandma woke up with Jesus this morning

My Grandma died late last night. My mom called me this morning to let me know. I was going to maybe write some profound blog entry on death, the frailty of life, etc. But, I just can't really. I've spent a lot of time in prayer this morning. Just rejoicing and praising God that He finally saw fit to release her from this life and welcome her Home. My Grandma was a wonderful woman in her prime, but she had coronary by-pass surgery about 8 years ago and was never the same. I mourned her loss then. Now, I'm just rejoicing that she's in heaven.

My Grandparents were a very important part of my life growing up. They were farmers and when I was young had a farm west of Selma, though that wasn't where my mom grew up. They had a big house (it seemed big to me) and a swimming pool and so many summers were spent at Grandma's house. I remember Sunday afternoons, having Sunday dinner there and then having to wait the requisit half hour before we could get into the pool, or we'd get cramps. I'm not sure if that was actually true, or if the parents just wanted a little time to relax and do the dishes. In the late summer, my Grandpa would go out in the vineyard and get a big bunch of grapes and throw them one by one into the pool and my cousins and I would go diving for them and have a little snack. Christmas Eve was always spent at Grandpa and Grandma's house. We'd go over there after the Children's Program at church. It was murder having to sit in the back seat of our car with our "toot" (Christmas bag from church filled with nuts, fruit and candies) and not eat the chocolate covered peanut clusters. But, we got there and had something to eat and then opened presents. I still remember that big flocked tree in their living room and looking at all the brightly colored presents. I got my first Barbie at Grandma and Grandpa's one Christmas.

My Grandpa died in 1978 (I think) and within a couple years my Grandma moved into town. I really resented that. It was like my idyllic childhood was disrupted. Her house in town was just an ordinary house. There were no memories and I was getting too old at that time to really create those magical memories of childhood. I graduated high school and went to college and then lived with my Grandma for a year while I got my teaching credential. Time went on and I moved away, but I continued to write her many letters. One summer she took me back to Colorado to visit her sister and brother-in-law and assorted relatives. We had a great time. I saw her old homeplace and she and Aunt Elsie argued about where all the sisters slept. I saw where my Grandpa was born and the school house they all went to. It was a wonderful trip. That fall she had heart trouble and had the surgery. And then, that was it. She had a very rough recovery, and although she did eventually live independently for some years after that, she was never the same. The last several months she has been declining rapidly and about a month ago she broke her hip. We knew then that the end was near, and last night it came. I loved my Grandma very much. She was a great woman. She loved the Lord, she served others with all her heart and I am proud to be her granddaughter.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Not holdin' on to things too tightly...

It's not a good idea to hold on to earthly possessions too tightly. We can get so caught up in the thrill of buying something new and then it just becomes something to clutter up our house and then we get rid of it. And then there's always the possibility of valuing possessions more than the people in our lives, whether it be spending all our time earning money to acquire more things, or if it's being overly cautious about the care of our possessions.

Last night I invited a guest speaker to our junior high girls Bible study. I thought it would be fun to have a little tea party in honor of the occasion, so I got out all my mismatched Depression glass cups and saucers and a few stray items I had tucked away and washed them all and packed them in a box. The box was on the counter top, but since the counter top was cluttered, as usual, the edge of the box was sticking out over the edge of the counter top an inch or so. Well, Missy Lou decided she wanted to watch what I was doing, and as the step-ladder was no place to be found, she dragged a chair from the table into the kitchen. But, she bumped the box and it fell on the floor accompanied by the most tremendous sound of breaking glass I have ever heard. I was ... just... floored. I couldn't believe it. I yelled at her, poor thing, and sent her to her room. I knew it wasn't really her fault, but I also wanted to get her away from the glass shards. I cleaned it up and then went to her room. Poor baby. She was curled up in her bed, under her covers crying. I apologized for yelling at her and cuddled with her for a while. But, when it was all over, I really didn't mourn all that much for my loss. I think, partially, because the Depression glass wasn't horribly expensive and I had no sentimentality attached to it. It was just pretty stuff I'd gotten off E-Bay. But, also, because I'm trying to keep from attaching myself to things and more to my children. They are the ones who are the most important.
So, I ended up getting out my really good Brazilian tea set and carefully washed each piece and we had our tea party with that. It's the first time I've ever used it and I've been home from Brazil for 10 years now.

But, I did learn a lesson, and I did feel like I've gained some victory over materialism, which is good.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Few Pictures from Our Trip

I thought I'd share a few pictures from our Hume trip. We had a wonderful time. We rented a small but very charming cabin. It was old, but clean and well kept up. We took a boat ride on Friday afternoon

(I had to hold on the Missy Lou the whole time we were in the boat, as you can see)
and then, as I mentioned in the previous post, drove to Cedar Grove on Saturday. Here we are playing "Pooh-sticks" (see "Pooh invents a New Game" by A.A. Milne) off a bridge. Sunday we took a leisurely walk around Hume Lake. It was a glorious weekend. The weather was perfect, and although autumn in the Sierras isn't as spetacular as in other parts of the country, it is still beautiful. The high country is breathtaking and reminds me of why we live here in California.

This is My Father's World

This is my Father's world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.

We went to Hume this weekend for a little family vacation. It was absolutely beautiful. Saturday we drove down into the depths of the Kings Canyon and this song, "This is My Father's World," was an apt soundtrack. The sheer granite, the tame autumn river, the dark greens, splashed now and again with a bright yellow oak were breathtaking. Every bit of me strained to absorb the beauty around me. It was cold, and it rained a little, but we didn't care. We tramped through the forest, threw rocks into the river and we left every care we had down in the valley as we took in "our Father's World!"

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's been a rough morning

I'm tired. I just had my afternoon cup of coffee and have been surfing the Net for about a half hour. The kids are "resting". I know Bubba needed a nap. He fell asleep right after I put him down. He's five years old. Most kids give up their naps way before five years, but he takes a nap on a regular basis. It hasn't been every single day lately, but I'd say he naps 5 out of 7 days. Du-duh never naps. He stopped taking a nap about 2 years ago, when he was 2 years old. I do make him "lay down", which, for him, means stay on his bed. He has books, and I think it's good for a kid to have some quiet, alone time. Missy-Lou is only two years old and she naps every day for about 1 1/2 hours. She needs it, too.

But, it's been a rough morning. Bickering was the order of the day. The boys picked on each other, took each other's toys, took their sister's toys, annoyed me and generally caused mayhem and madness. And I so want to be a good mom. I don't want to react to their antics, but to respond gently, and lovingly correct them. And then have them put their little arms around me and kiss my cheek and thank me for showing them the way. But no, unfortunately my voice had an edge to it and while I didn't shout, I know I conveyed my annoyance to them much more loudly than my patience and love. And the mayhem continued until I finally told them Mommy was tired and we would only read one book at nap time and go to bed early because Mommy needed a rest. And it looks like 2 of the 3 needed a rest, too.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


From this....

To that....

In an hour! Delicious!

I wonder where the owls went

I get up every morning bright and early at 5:20 and go walking. I've been doing this for several years now. It's very easy in the summer time when it's just too hot to lay in bed, so you might as well get up and walk. Today was the first day I really had trouble getting up. It felt so good to hit the snooze, roll over and snuggle down. I keep the windows open at night expressly for this purpose - nothing like snuggling down in bed. Anyhow, we live by the river and on my walks I encounter all sorts of wildlife....

There's an occassional raccoon. I've seen coyotes from time to time.
But my favorite are the owls. For the past month or so there have been two owls who sit on the top of the tallest redwood trees in the neighborhood and hoot. It's such a cool sound. Hoo...hoo...hoo-hoo-hoo-hoooooo.
I always look around and am able to find them because I know they'll be on top of a very tall tree. But then I have be careful not to run into a parked car. A couple of times they've swooped down in front of me. They don't get very close- about 50 feet or so away, but they're huge, awesome birds. And they're silent flyers. I learned that from Ross Laird at the Winged Wonders Bird Show at the zoo. But now they're gone. And I don't know where they went. Maybe it's the time of year. I don't know if owls hibernate, but I miss them.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My favorite spot

My fern garden is one of my favorite places to be. When we built our house, I saw that there was quite a bit of room between the north wall and the property line and I knew I wanted a fern garden there. We had a concrete sidewalk poured, to get from the front to the back and on either side of it, I planned my garden. I don't have any innate design abilities. I know what I like and I know what I don't like, but I have trouble getting there from scratch. So, I bought a book of garden designs from the hardware store and pretty much used it as a "color by number". The first summer it was in, it got way too much sun. Even though it was on the north side of the house, everything burned. So, I talked Hubby in to building me an arbor. He did a fabulous job. It's redwood and is just gorgeous. And it does the trick. There is plenty of shade on the north side for a beautiful shade garden. It also keeps our bedroom about 5 degrees cooler than the rest of the house. That's an plus, especially in the summer time. The anchor plantings are hydrangeas and Japanese Maples, a razzleberry bush and a dogwood. I have two of the ordinary sort of hydrangeas and one that has become my favorite. It's called "Angel's Blush". It's beautiful, both in form and flower. And then strewn here and there are Lenten Roses, different varieties of ferns, and for color, you can't beat Impatiens, especially this time of year. There's a fountain (which is rarely working, as we have yet to find an acceptable method of supplying electricity), too, which adds to the ambience as well. This is my favorite place to be. Even if it's just walking from the front to the backyard, I like to stop for a moment and soak in the beauty and peace of this little secret garden.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

There's been a murder on the premises...

There has been a murder.
The victim...

The suspected killer....

Actually, she is more than just the "suspected" killer. There was an eye-witness who saw her fraternizing with the victim around the time of the killing. However, charges will not be filed, the DA handling the case has declined to comment.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The garden's in...

I'm sorry I have no pictures. It wouldn't be very interesting anyhow. Just dirt. So, in lieu of pictures, I invite you all to close your eyes and imagine.... dirt. With a few chunks of uncomposted compost lying about. I planted a couple half rows of lettuce (salad mix), to be continued in a couple of weeks. I also planted some onions, leeks, fennel (I love fennel, I have a wonderful potatoes au gratin dish with fennel, and it's horribly fattening, but delicious), carrots, coriander and peas.