Monday, December 31, 2012

Even Stevens

I posted exactly forty-seven times this year. I was surprised--almost a post a week, which is pretty good considering the amount of time and energy that have gone into family health issues rather than into blogging.  And that Pinterest and I are good friends. 

But I must admit that I have forty-eight drafts that never saw the light of day.  Good ideas without photos.  Good ideas with photos that aren't in focus.  Or good ideas that suffered from a lack of time.  (My family has this idea that they deserve dinner every night.  Alas.) 

I think that's a pretty good excuse.  Still, forty-eight drafts?  Ack!  Major waste.

So rather than end the year 47 to 48, I've added this to my yearly total (because it's not quite midnight in the Biggest Little City) so that at least the drafts don't win. I've sacrificed going downtown in nine degree weather to watch the incredible fireworks display just so that I can end at Even Stevens. 

Not really.  I'm not crazy about crowds or freezing my tootsies off.

"It is what it is."  

Part "carpe diem", part "live in the moment".   A reminder to me that life isn't perfect but I need to accept it as the gift it is, and enjoy it anyway.

Bring joy,
 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Guideposts -- Week93

The mediocre teacher tells. 
The good teacher explains. 
The superior teacher demonstrates. 
The great teacher inspires.  

~William Arthur Ward 

Dedicated to all the Sandy Hook teachers
 

Sunday, December 02, 2012

My Guideposts -- Week92

Without music, life would be a mistake.  

~Friedrich Nietzsche

With music, Christmas shopping is tolerable.  I wonder what people think when they hear me singing along as I shop?
 
 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

So Many Blessings

If the only prayer you say in your life is "thank you", 
it would be enough.
 ~Meister Eckhart

Thank you for acorns and sunsets, for dogs and green grass, for flowers and snowflakes, for hills and pastures, for eggs and peonies, for mud and winds.  

Thank you for hugs and smiles, for little kids and old ladies, for new babies and blooming teenagers, for constant change and unchanging constants.

Thank you for an inquisitive mind and the gift of procrastination.   Thank you for providing inspiration everywhere I turn.
 
I am so grateful for the comforts that surround me, for friends and family, for the gifts of Life and Love, and for miracles great and small.  Especially my favorite small miracle...
 
(the Rosebud at five months)
 
Happy Thanksgiving!
 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Guideposts -- Week91

 
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. 

~Melody Beattie

Thankfully,
 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Heroes for Freedom

 

They enlisted and served in WWII and Korea.  They left behind a familiar world and did their best to preserve a way of life based on freedom.  Meanwhile sweethearts and mothers prayed and waited for precious letters.

It's not so different today.  There are still men and women who are far from home, striving to spread the blessings of liberty in alien lands.  And there are still families hoping for an email or a phone call from their loved ones.

And there will be soldiers and sailors and airmen who will have to leave their homes in centuries to come, unfortunately, although I wish I could believe human beings could learn to co-exist peacefully.

We owe them a lot, all those warriors over the years.  Thank you to everyone who served or is serving now.  Thank you to all their families.

With appreciation on this Veterans Day and year around,

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Guideposts --Week90

The great presidents...weren’t men with the killer instinct. The three biggest presidential monuments in the capital are dedicated to Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. These were very tough-minded men, but it wasn’t the killer instinct that guided them. 

I think these were men with a rare degree of prudence, wisdom and compassion – qualities that are much needed now. 

Some cynics feel that decency in a politician is a handicap. But I think a sense of decency – not prudishness nor sanctimonious self-righteousness but old-fashioned concern and love for others – will be essential in the next Presidents. 
~George McGovern 

Cultivating tough-mindedness, prudence, wisdom, compassion and decency, in memory of an American patriot,

 

Friday, October 19, 2012

My Little Yoyo Jack O'Lantern

Meet Jack Yoyo-Lantern. 

He's what happens when you're addicted to yoyos, dolls and pumpkin decor and somebody (the Queen Mother) gives you a pattern from Indygo Junction that combines all three.  It took me five evenings while re-watching Season 1 of Once Upon a Time, but he's done and ready for All Hallow's Eve!
 
His pumpkin head is all rust pindot fabric instead of a medley of coordinating materials.  All the yoyos are lovely mellow rusty pumpkin shades instead of the bright oranges and golds the pattern called for.  (His truly mellow colors would probably show had I photographed him amidst fall leaves or against the pile of straw instead of the remains of the green beans and petunias.  Live and learn.) 

His eyes, nose and mouth were supposed to be black.  Soooo not gonna happen...he needed to look lit up from within. Do you tweak patterns to put your own stamp on them?  I'm constantly tinkering to "improve" things. 

I'm happy that I also decided to weight his hands and feet with rice so he can pose instead of flopping around.
 
I didn't spend a dime on him.  I love it when a project uses up my stash. I even got to use some orange crochet thread that I thrifted which worked perfectly to string the yoyo arms and legs as well as contour the pumpkin sections.

I had such fun making him that when I put in the final stitch I was totally surprised it was midnight!

 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Guideposts --Week89

 

Tell me, what is it that you plan to do 
With your one wild and precious life?

 ~Mary Oliver 
Laughing all the way to my next adventure,
 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ten Eleven Twelve

That would be today: October 11, 2012.  If you live in the States.

Elsewhere it would be Eleven Ten Twelve and that just doesn't have the same ring to it.  Guess they'll be celebrating on November tenth instead.

Now I'm eagerly awaiting Twelve Twelve Twelve.  Thank heavens that date works no matter what country you inhabit.  Does this make me a numbers nerd?  Or merely easily amused?

What about if I was just thinking that next year we'll have Eleven Twelve Thirteen?  And Twelve Thirteen Fourteen the year after.  But after that we'll have to find some other cool calendar numbers to play with. 

I think perhaps Official Number Nerd.  Counting on it.

Randomly,
 

Sunday, October 07, 2012

My Guideposts --Week89

 
Tears and sweat often bring out the best in us. 

 ~Mr. Rogers 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Guideposts -- Week88

 
Well done is better than well said.  

~Anonymous

That being said, I'm off to concoct some peach salsa as part of my mission to use as much of our harvest as humanly possible.  I may have to re-word this..."well eaten is better than well said"? 

Have a peach of a week,

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Replacements

Guess what we have at the Cottage? 

 Here's a hint:
 
Long-time bloggity friends may recognize the alien spaceship-look of my fancy-dancy, Rube Goldberg-inspired incubator from the Bombshells tenure there two and a half years ago.  Take one rabbit cage, surround with a metallic sunshield from the car, heat it with a light bulb and a foil pin tin reflector.  Finally put some easily-removed foil over the gate. Dig out the old chick feeder and water dish.  Add two little peeps.

Let me introduce you to the new girls:
 
"Chick One and Chick Two, meet the Readers.
Readers, this is Chick One and Chick Two."

The Bombshells' egg production has dropped dramatically and their days (weeks? months?) are numbered.  Sad but true.  And we're pretty spoiled by fresh eggs, a use for all the kitchen scraps and chickens that do the composting for us so a change was in the works.

My feed store has been stocking baby chicks for the past month and I finally caved after buying fre$h egg$ at the Farmer$ Market. 

This time around we are going with Buff Orpingtons--they should grow up to be attractive matronly hens with golden feathers.  

I'm open to suggestions on better names than Chick One and Chick Two!  You had some great suggestion for my first flock:  The Bombshells were named for movie stars:  Rita (Hayworth), Sophia (Loren), Carole (Lombard) and Norma Jean.  My feeling is that our new girls will be more down-to-earth, girl-next-door types.

Peep, peep,
 
Party time at:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sweet

There are garden chores...and then there's harvesting lavender. 

Oh, the aroma!  The fragrance! Can't you just practically smell it through your monitor?

 
The old galvanized bucket I stumbled upon at a yard sale early in the summer (fifty cents!) has been holding bundles of drying lavender.  Now I'm rubbing the lavender buds into it instead of the paper grocery bags I've used for the past couple years. Style points!


Just look! 
 
See all the lovely buds that are piling up in the bottom of the bucket?  As I rub off the buds, I dream about making sachets from some of the old, slightly holey linens I've acquired.  I won't feel bad about cutting into the vintage table runners since they will just be re-purposed!  Maybe with a bit of embroidery or ribbon work? Wouldn't they be nice Christmas gifts?!

Sweetly,
 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My Guideposts -- Week87

Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand. 

~Mother Teresa 


Delectably,


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Autumn?

Officially, yes.

My summer was so satisfying and I accomplished so much
(not one thing of which I've blogged about) 

that I'm happy with my memories and ready to move on to a new season of fun-filled projects.  Yep, summer ended without any kicking and screaming this year which is pretty amazeballs.

No, I haven't been abducted by aliens, tinkered with and returned to the Cottage as a new and improved version, thankyouforasking.

It's just that my flowering dogwood has tinges of red, the fruit is coming faster than we can use it (thank heavens for neighbors), the waterlilies have ceased blooming.  The cooler nights and more moderate temps have deepened the colors of the late roses.  I'm buying mums not petunias.  The mantel is asking politely for some fall decor and the ruffly pink cushions on the porch wicker just don't look right.  The garden is already slowing down so I've found myself sitting and sewing instead of digging and pruning.

Pretty soon I'll be haunting my Goodwill instead of cruising yard sales with my sidekick.  Soup will sound good.  Oatmeal for breakfast.  And a cup of Sleepytime after dinner. 

It's gotten me in the mood for a homey change of seasons.

Welcome, Autumn.  Bring on the lamplight and down comforters.  I'm ready for swirling leaves, pumpkins, treat-or-treaters, and acorns.  I'm ready to fluff and settle into my nest.



 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Random Thoughts For a Monday

I finally found something that chickens won't eat--tomato worms. We tossed three in the run and the girls decided that these were alien bugs were to be avoided at all costs. They huddled in the back corner until I took pity on them and removed the offending hornworms. This from hens that regard a live mouse as an opportunity for an all-out rugby scrum where the lucky victor gets to swallow the mouse whole and strut around with the tail handing out of her beak.

You can hear autumn approaching.  No, it's true.  I can lie in bed on a cool, slightly nippy morning (nippy is the technical term for thinking about putting on a light hoodie for my morning walk but deciding not to) and I can hear the whoosh of cars on the not-so-close roads and the trains sound much clearer as they clack and rattle through town.  But songbird chatter?  Far and few between.  I'll know it's fall for sure when I hear the Canada geese honking as they fly over.

I use Blogger Drafts as a convenient Note To Myself.  Today I started composing a post that will never be published (is that why they call it a draft?) with photos of garden plants to be moved, comments on what I want to change next year, and photos of new mums and recent delphinium acquisitions that I know I'll forget by next spring.

I have eighty-nine other drafts on Blogger that are not Notes to Myself.  Someday I'll either publish when I have the photos done (The Truth About Chickens) or delete (cryptically entitled Photo C) or save to finish writing (The Guest Room).  Am I the only one with a gazillion unfinished posts?

I sang or hummed songs from movies all day.  If I Only Had a Brain from The Wizard of Oz...I Have a Dream from Mamma Mia...This Land is Mine from Exodus. 

Election season = Too many signs cluttering up the neighborhood and negative, name-calling, finger-pointing ads on TV.  Sigh.

I love Pinterest.  It gives purpose to my blog-hopping, Google Reading, internet-surfing existence.

The metal dog tag from PetSmart turned Kharma's white neck ruff to gray.  I could seal the tag with a nice spray of Clear Coat.  Or wash her daily.  Or I could just stew about it for months every time I notice my gray-necked, unwashed dog.  Now that I think of it, I really should make another Note To Myself in Blogger.

Life has plenty of challenges lately, but I never have trouble falling asleep now that I end my day thinking of everything I'm thankful for.  I'll be adding Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep from White Christmas to the songs I hum tomorrow.

Final thought:  Why did I think I knew how to embed YouTube videos so you could hear the songs if you wanted?  Just because I've done it before.  I'm getting error messages when I try to click on the link--I guess I'll just figure that you all are capable of finding them for yourselves.  Problem solved!

Gratefully,

Sunday, September 09, 2012

My Guideposts - Week86

For Pooh and the Professor

There is no controlling life.
Try corralling a lightning bolt, containing a tornado.  Dam a stream and it will create a new channel.  Resist, and the tide will sweep you off your feet.  Allow, and grace will carry you to higher ground.  
The only safety lies in letting it all in--the wild and the weak; fear, fantasies, failure and success.  When loss rips off the doors of the heart, or sadness veils your vision with despair, practice becomes simply bearing the truth.  In the choice to let go of your known way of being, the whole world is revealed to your new eyes.
   ~Dana Faulds

God grant them as many moments together as possible. 
 

Sunday, September 02, 2012

My Guideposts - Week85

The moment you act as if something is so, the universe of infinite possibilities collapses into one inevitable happenstance. 

Quantum physicists assert that in any given moment, infinite possibilities are present.  Some go as far as to say that there are infinite universes coexisting.
When you look at something and say, 'This is what it is,' you are pouring your creative energy (attention and awareness) into that specific perception. The moment your awareness locks on to one possibility, all other universes collapse. 

~Gary Simmons 
The I of the Storm 

For my dear sister and brother-in-law

Friday, August 24, 2012

Prove It

I'm choosing to believe Lance Armstrong.

I've been watching him race since 1999 when my elder boylet was in Europe as a graduation present. Pierre was biking many of the same segments that the Tour de France riders were--Col du Madeleine, L'Alpe D'Huez, etc. I cheered for Lance and vicariously enjoyed the scenery that my son was biking.

And I became a fan of the Tour over the years, knowing the routes and rest days, marvelling at the calories each competitor used daily, watching the riders get thin and gaunt toward the end of the grueling rides through Europe, knowing the difference between the polka-dotted jersey, the green one and the white jersey.

(Having a kid who loves to compete in a sport will do that to a mom, especially if an American is breaking records at the same time.)

The French press was never enamoured of the brash Texan who'd claimed their race as his own personal stomping grounds.  But it delighted me that his detailed preparation for the storied Tour seemed so obvious and yet previously unheard of.  Ride the Col three times so you know every turn, every grade, every bush on the side and then beat the pants off the competition during that stage--how bizarre.

I know that doping is rampant.  Especially in the bicycling world.  So maybe he is just another rider taking advantage of loopholes or shortcuts to winning.  So say some of his teammates.  Certainly some of them have stooped to illegal means to win.  Armstrong is a perfectionist and the consummate competitor so I'm guessing he may not be the ultimate nice-guy boss.

Still, the guy probably has more urine stored around the world due to hundreds of tests, during and after races, than Scrooge McDuck has dollars.  And how many of those samples have tested positive for drugs of any kind? And those liquids are there for any future whiz-bang tests that are invented.  Given that probability, I wonder why the guy would constantly reiterate his innocence.

Anyway, if there were a trial and hearsay was all the evidence that was produced versus a gazillion clean laboratory reports...if I were a juror I know what my verdict would be.

I'm a Livestrong supporter too.  It's Not About The Bike still inspires me, especially now that our family is involved in two fights against cancer.  No matter how bad the news is, I realize that his diagnoses went from bad to horrendous and he still pulled through.  And then won seven Tours.  So, yeah, he represents hope to me and I don't want him to be guilty.

He is also, as my son says, "a freak of nature".  His body is physically suited to the crazy business of professional cycling.  He's figured out ways to use oxygen that most of us mere mortals can't even imagine.  And lactic acid--no problem.  So it's possible that between the intensive preparation, extensive training and a warrior's body, that he could just be blessed instead of using EPO or whatever.

I guess I'm firmly in the "innocent till proven guilty" camp. 

Naive? 

Maybe.

Time will tell. That's my two cents worth--stepping off my soapbox now,
 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Brilliant Countdown

It seems like all my favorite parodies are Beyonce-based.  All the Wrinkled Ladies  had me ROTFLMAO. Knowing that I too could have finally been a backup dancer was possibly the highlight of my year.

This is the latest one I ran across and it's mesmerizing. Who knew that Snuggies could be a fashion statement in a music video?!
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!  Don't you think he did an amazing job?  I wish I was that clever/bored/talented/motivated.

 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer Morning

Are there two lovelier words?

I wake up reveling in the need for a light blanket as well as the fresh cotton sheet over me since our weather cooled a bit.


The windows are all opened wide. All the better to hear the cooing of the mourning doves and the busy twittering of myriad sparrows as I lazily watch the sun rise over the Virginia Range and illuminate the valley.

Outside my window the white birches cast dappled shadows on the porch roof and I know that when I step outside, the lawn (finally a lush green) will be damp and cool on my toes. It's Trash Day and I need to ensure the dog gifts deposited the night before make their fragrant way into the garbage. It's (almost) a privilege to wheel our cans past stripey daylilies, a third crop of golden raspberries and the sprawling strawberry plants to park them near the apricot roses blooming profligately near the curb.

The last handful of Black Tartarians from our cherry tree are waiting in the fridge to kick off breakfast. But first a brisk walk with my usual companion to exercise our glutes and our jawbones. We never run out of items to discuss be it our grown children or what's for lunch although we hike day after day, month after month, year after year.

Our walk produces baby quail sightings. Seemingly every quail in Reno has hatched their clutch within twenty-four hours of one another. None is bigger than an apricot which is appropriate since we also wander past a fruit tree that's ripened since we last strolled by. The windfall apricots provide the best surprise yet with their intense sweet flavor. Possibly the best apricots I've eaten in years, but then this year is producing a bumper fruit crop due to either the mild winter or a spring without severe frosts.

The tiger lilies, which love the heat, started blooming a week earlier than usual and I'm collecting bulblets to share with a few neighbors who also love to garden. Tiger lilies are my "Dad" flower. He collected the plants growing wild in the mountains of Tehama county and our family has grown them ever since. They grow as well in the New Mexican monsoons as the high desert or along the California coast or even the cool Pacific Northwest summers.  I see that the hummers are out early for their morning nectar.  They love the tiger lilies.

Comtesse de Bouchard in her sunny spot on the back fence is responding to the necessary severe pruning with a bounty of pale lilac flowers. 
I'm grateful since Nelly Moser had fewer than usual due to a much-needed thinning.  I think that clematis is most reponsive to proper pruning of any plant I have.

I'm happy to see the newest dianthus are settling in well and continuing to bloom.  The waterlilies have new flowers that will open later in the noontime sun.  Three goldfish play hide-and-seek under the lilypads.  I miss the sound of the waterfall--the pond pump needs some troubleshooting that I've been putting off.

I decide I like the bush beans planted amid petunias.  The pumpkin plants are just now beginning to sprawl and I make a mental note to channel the vines in front of the beebalm and mini-roses.  The snap peas are appearing as quickly as I can eat them on my nightly salad.  I consider using the rampant purslane in salad too instead of just tossing them in the compost heap and wish my Heavenly Blue morning glories were as aggressive as their bindweed cousins that are twining through the Scentimental rose. It's a pity that some chicken escapees scratched in my newly-planted veggie bed.  All the pole beans now need to be replanted. 

A monarch butterfly, the first of the year, is floating through the gloriosa dailies looking for a place to settle.  I wonder if, just maybe, a female might lay eggs on the milkweek plants I keep around specifically for the butterflies.  Little striped caterpillars and gold-dotted chrysalises would make my year.

I'm not sure that there's anything better than the start of a day in mid-July.

Wishing you a lovely morning, many flowers and not too many chores in your yard.

Cheerily,
 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My Guideposts -- Week84

 
Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing. 
Denis Waitley 

Okay, risk brings broken bones and empty wallets.  But it also brings weddings, births, first homes,  backyard ponds, city chickens, new puppies, painted walls, teal-green toenails, refinished antiques, and a sense of having lived.  Looking back, I'm happy with all the risks I've taken that've paid off.  And that makes me anticipate the risks that lie ahead.

Wheeee!