Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

"Don't look back - a new day is breaking."

"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art - write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself." - Neil Gaiman

Love to all my friends and family. Big Hugs!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Canadian Girl Who Went Up a Mountain and Came Down a Hill!*

"Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity." -John Muir

This morning we headed out the door and drove to the base of Pistol Hill, only minutes from our house in Vail. We are blessed with numerous choices for our daily walk.

You can tell by the colours that we were getting early morning sunshine.

"Sunrise over the mountain-forest was gorgeous. Aurora brushing out her golden tresses with a comb of dark-needled pine and bare limbed oak." 
-J. Aleksandr Wootten

My eyes are always on the alert for rocks that are shaped like hearts. This one was too large to be carried back. I must satisfy myself with photos of found treasures, sometimes.

Looking ahead against our little Pistol Hill I could see Rincon Peak, the mountain Sherwin tackled last week.

And looking back we could see how close we truly were to home.

Soon we were on top! Hallelujah!

"Succeeding, whatever that may mean to you, is hard, and the need to do so constantly renews itself (success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you while you hike it)." 
-George Saunders

Some people have built a cairn to commemorate their 'success'.
I was more interested in the legal monument...

It says, "Pima County, Mon 3". Tah Dah!! 

We looked all around us on every side and then...

turned around and headed down again.

Looking back I could see it is a small hill but I was happy to have conquered it.

As I hauled my walking stick, camera, water jugs and jacket back to the front door I saw neighbour Char had a little visitor on her tree. I stood there, transfixed by the tiny bird, then said to myself, "Good heavens, woman, you have your camera with you. Shoot it!" And he posed so sweetly.

"Hiking's not for everyone. 
Notice the wilderness is mostly empty." 
-Sonja Yoerg

* My blog title today comes from a Hugh Grant movie, The Englishman Who Went Up a Mountain and Came Down a Hill.

Be well.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Happy Thoughts...

"Fill your mind with the thought that God is there. And once your mind 
is truly filled with that thought, 
when you experience difficulties 
it will be as easy as breathing 
for you to remember, 
'My heavenly Father knows all about this!'... 
you can rest in perfect confidence in Him."

Good night.
Be well.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Surprise Over the Hill

This morning while the three of us were out walking just below the gate area, we were chatting away and looking toward the road where it drops on down the hill. If I would have had my iPhone out of my pocket I would have snapped a photo of our morning surprise.

Just as this road crests there was a young buck coming towards us. He stood there as transfixed as we all were. I looked at both Sherwin and Seth's faces for reaction and it was sheer delight for all of us.

Of course he was off and running before I could capture him but seconds later he popped up over the edge of the road right in front of us. He was as curious about us as we were about him.

We stood still, I talked to him softly while I got my phone ready to shoot him. He stood there and stared at us for at least 10-15 seconds. He was magnificent.

Then he turned as was gone.

I am always so thankful for these brief moments I get with the wildlife around here. We have had close encounters with a few different species this summer already and it has been so thrilling.

Hope your week has some surprises (good ones) too.

Above all, be well.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Lord is My Shepherd

"The King of Love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am His, 
And He is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow
My ransomed soul He leadeth,
And where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me,
And on His shoulders gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.

And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd! I would sing Thy praise
Within Thy house forever."

Wishing you all a lovely Sabbath.
Be well.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Fooling Around with Food

A few weeks ago when the Goerlitz Jr. family came for the weekend, Kim brought a bag of the most amazing salad that we loved, cleaned up after they left and picked apart to identify all the ingredients.

You chop up all the ingredients, put it in a zip-loc bag and I tell you, when you open the bag to take out a handful for a meal you will love the smell. Great salad, thank you so much, Kim!!

Chopped Salad

Red Onion
Red Pepper
Sugar Peas
Red Cabbage
Fresh Dill
Green Onion
Fennel Bulb

Chop these veggies up in the quantities that will work for your household. Mix and enjoy!!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Men of Influence

Not only have I had these men as a strong influence in my life but I have also watched how they influence people around them.

"Example is not the main thing 
in influencing others. 
It is the only thing."
Albert Schweitzer

Father was my first and strongest influence in my childhood. What Father did, I thought I should do... Today my husband still teases me that my car snobbery is a direct influence of my Father. I love it!!

The good and real things that I believe came from my father were my delight in the world around me, my interest in other people, the joy of beauty and aesthetic niceties and an appreciation for God and King.

Wish I could tell him today how much good he was in my life.

Loved catching son Shelby on the fly from a great distance just a couple weeks ago. See that nice smile on his face? He is going towards his sister... 

"The more tranquil a man becomes, 
the greater is his success, 
his influence, his power for good. 
Calmness of mind 
is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom."
James Allen

I must say that there is not a time that I have spent with my son that I have not come away with something of value to think on. He is just that way, in his quiet manner.

One of the more recent additions to our family, son-in-law Alan, does not realize the beauty he brings to our group. He has a strength of character that we have come to rely on. How many times I have said, What does Alan think about this? We should ask Alan.

The father of our beautiful children, the love of my life, has undoubtedly had the greatest influence on me over the past 50+ years. When you have lived with someone as long as we have it is hard to know where one or the other starts and ends. Intertwined is what it is.

One of the most powerful influences I have felt from Sherwin is his creative nature. He just finished this pillar last week. And the studio we built above this carport makes an easy place to hide away for both of us to play at art. He is an inspiration to me.

To my good, sweet husband:

"You've influenced the world 
not because you've wanted to hug it 
and cuddle it and call it sweet thing, 
but because one day you wanted 
to beat the crap out of somebody 
and you didn't. 
You made a painting instead."
Libba Bray

Each of the children that have come under the influence of these men has benefited. For that, today, I am so thankful.

Be well.
With love.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Seth . . . Graduate of 2015!

The Graduation we had been looking toward for many years is behind us. What a weekend we had. It was a melty hot weekend, weather wise, but we had three full days of great food, happy chats, early morning walks in the gorgeous Walla Walla countryside and the joy of marking the moment with Seth and his folks.

You are a handsome lad, Seth Benjamin Raymond Chapman, and we are so proud of you. 

As we melted onto our chairs Auntie Jane, Alan and your Mama anchored one end of the row of chairs and...

Grandpa was at the other end of the row killing time with yet another Sudoku puzzle.

And Great Auntie Marilyn from Calgary and Uncle Shelby from Bainbridge Island helped to make the family circle.

But the most important reason for being there came smilingly down the aisle with his friend Noble. There were 454 graduates so it took a while for all that pomp and circumstance to march by. And even longer for 454 graduates to get diploma in hand, shaken by the other hand and sent off out into the world!

And so it goes...

It was actually one of the best graduations I have been to. Comparatively speaking it was short, very sweet, had good music and sent us on our way before dark.

During that long roll call as each graduate marched by I recognized a few names of Seth's friends who he had spoken of over the years but when his name was called our row of family hooted, hollered, whooped and cheered like kids. One would think we had done the work.

Seth brings warmth to all of our hearts.

For all this I am truly grateful.

"I told graduates to not be afraid to fail, 
and I still believe that. 
But today I tell you 
that whether you fear it or not, 
disappointment will come. 
The beauty is that through disappointment 
you can gain clarity, 
and with clarity comes conviction 
and true originality."
- Conan O'Brien

Saturday, May 30, 2015

End of Week Delight!

Yesterday evening I came upon this owl. I guess I surprised him first because he flew up from the ground close by where I was and perched in a tree. 

I was so taken with him I walked all around trying to get the best look. At first he was some distance, maybe 50'+ but while I hiked back up to get my camera he obligingly flew closer to the meadow.

Still with my zoom lens he was not big but I played with the photo back here on the computer and this is about as good as it gets for today. 

It was a delightful way to draw curtains on my week.

"Those who contemplate 
the beauty of the earth 
find reserves that will endure
as long as life lasts."
Rachel Carson

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

This is Such a Treat!

The blog title today is a short sentence that always ended in a smile or a wee tear! Sheila May is credited with that and said it so often that we all laughingly jumped on her before too many hours were passed together.

It was a sweet time... our Sisters Road Trip 2015.

"Sweet, crazy conversations 
full of half sentences, 
daydreams and misunderstandings 
more thrilling 
than understanding could ever be."
Toni Morrison

I do believe I was able to escape the wrong end of the camera the entire week. Hopefully there is not a rogue photo out there with me in it!! This photo was taken by Sheila May's house in Roseburg.

The beginning of the trip, for me, started at the ferry terminal on Mayne Island, taking me to the mainland where I met Marilyn and Bobbi.

And the three of us came to our initial destination, Sheila May, by Monday dinner time. It was Sheila May's birthday so it was a time for celebration. We four don't seem to party quite so easily as we used to but it was still a good time.

I now realize that I missed some good opportunities for some important photos that first day. I missed one of Jill, Mark and Sadie who had dinner with us all that first night and I don't have a photo of David, Sheila May's husband, who takes such good care of her. He put up with 4 crazy women coming in and out of his domain all week with not a murmur.

But as you can see, I did notice the rose bush across the street, which was loaded with amazing blossoms.

"Do you think the neighbours want us to take photos of their flowers?" asked Sadie.

"Oh, I am sure they would love for their beautiful roses to be captured on my camera," said Shirley Ann, with a broad smile!

"Then why is the dog barking so loudly?" Sadie asked.

Tuesday, May 12, Day 2

Another missed photo was the sign for the Wildlife Safari, outside of Roseburg a few kilometres, and other than nasty old fences and the fact we could only stay in the vehicle to drive through, it was a wonderful day.

Nice ponies, right? And the backdrop was a perfect foil for their dramatic coats.

All the animals looked very healthy and well cared for.

Camels, buffalo, elk, ostrich, wild turkey, Canada geese, elephants and monkeys dotted the hillsides.

These bears put on a show for us for some minutes, growling, snarling and wrestling like two little boys in the back yard. My photos invariably had fence lines in or some other inconvenience but they were gorgeous creatures having a great time, or so it appeared.

Interesting cranes that were so happy to be remembered when we drove through with our windows down, throwing food bits (we bought there) out for them. They were very talented and could catch the food mid-air.

Marilyn put food up on the top of her side mirror and I happened to catch the big guy eyeing it. He was very adept at picking off the bits so quickly he was hard to catch!

And then we come to the favourite photo of the day. Isn't he cute?

He was so anxious for food he couldn't be bothered chewing/swallowing the grass he had just been nibbling on when we drove up. I tossed... he caught. He knew we enjoyed him and came back again and again for more nibbles.

Wednesday, May 13, Day 3

Day 3 dawned and without much fuss we four were off for a two night stay in Bandon, Oregon. This was a 'treat'. All of us love the ocean, which seems odd for four prairie girls, but there is something very healing about the ocean.

On April 19 of this year, Sheila May had suffered a 'heart event', so the time together was more precious than ordinarily. 

Shore Acres State Park was our first full view of the ocean. Sheila May has lived in this part of the world for many years now and has her favourite spots she wanted to share with us. And they were all a delight.

In olden times this land was an estate for the Simpson family but now is a garden where can walk and soak up the beauty.

Some of the plants were tropical with fruit on that looked 'pretend' in its extraordinary beauty.

We revelled in the colours and textures planted for our enjoyment. A perfect sized garden for inspiration and uplift!

An old house still sits on the property. We did not go in but it takes very little for me to imagine the interior and start to decorate it in my head!

 Every place you turned your eyes was a grand feast.

We drove back to the ocean at Cape Arago State Park, I believe. With my lens on wide angle you can see large rock outcroppings. When I pull it in to the max you can see the crowds of sea lions and seals all along this part of the coast. The naturalist at the park told us how many were there but memory being not what it should, I have forgotten. Just know this, it was a staggering number. 

Big beautiful creatures.

We scooted on down the coast to Bandon where we had a great motel right on the ocean. This is what we saw when we got out of the car, walked into our unit and looked out the front window! We knew we would have no trouble staying two nights.

Of course, the beach beckoned me and I had to have a look see. This is looking back at our home away from home for a couple days.

Walking on the beach that first night I saw an amazing site. All up and down as far as I could see were little blue jelly fish come to their final resting spot.

Rather a sad sight.

I stayed down there long enough to get the last parts of the day in a couple different shots. It was glorious!!

And every few minutes the sky would change and of course the ocean looked different each time I snapped a photo.

And so the end of the day.

Thursday, May 14, Day 4

The next morning dawned bright and clear . We just knew we were in for a lovely day. It didn't take us long to be up and about. We had brought breakfast food with us so after our feast we were off.

Sheila May knew of a beach where the access would be such that would require no climbing to get down to or out of at the end of our day.

As a lover of light houses I was happy to see this stocky little fellow by the edge of the water.

And we were off to explore this beach together. Here Marilyn, Sheila May and Bobbi are setting off. Sheila May found a perch and the rest of us just badgered about. 

The opening photo of the Road Trip 2015 sign written in the sand happened here at Marilyn's hand while Bobbi and I hiked off to the far end of the beach looking for treasures.

I have many childhood, Peoria memories of Sheila May and Bobbi together. They were born one year and four days apart and have been great buddies through thick and thin.

This is a magnificent stretch of beach with large rock outcroppings dotting the shore.

And a bazillion gulls, I am sure.

Before the day was done it was time to head back to the car and be off exploring the little town of Bandon.

And another sun setting on another perfect day.

Friday, May 15, Day 5, Bobbi's Birthday!

It seemed that we had stayed just the right amount of time. When we looked out on Friday morning the ocean and the sky were already saying goodbye to us.

Marilyn had promised one last trip with me down to the water. It was hard to leave such a grand spot with such great company.

Over the hills the clouds hung menacingly low, wanting to drop moisture on us.

But we were not deterred. We wanted this last piece of earthly paradise, one more time.

Snapped this poor little old stranded jelly fish...

And looked back at the cabins one more time.

And said goodbye to our spot.

We had seen a rather strange sculpture in town each time we toured about but hadn't stopped yet for photos.

On close inspection we found that this sculpture consisted of garbage from the ocean that we humans carelessly tossed either overboard from a boat or left on the beach thinking someone else could pick up the debris.

The iris of the eye consisted of old beer can lids...

the sides were all manner of plastics...

 as was the tail. After I had taken a few shots we were off to Roseburg and home for Sheila May.

We had a royal celebration for Bobbi with not only cake but pie too! It was a lovely ending to a great week of sisters.

Sabbath, May 16, Day 6

After a quiet morning with Sheila May and David, Marilyn, Bobbi and I packed up and headed north, with a stop in Portland and then...

Sunday, May 17, Day 7

Oh Canada!!

Our week was about done. The time had gone by quickly but sweetly and memorably. Thank you to my sisters for the reminders of good people having a good time.

"When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching... they are your family."
Jim Butcher

"And always remember 
how much your crazy sister loves you."
Sarah Dessen