Thursday, August 30, 2012

"I am NOT a Type A"

...this I have vehemently denied from the first time I ever read about personality types. Type A people are intense, over analytical, obsessed with busyness, obsessed with everything and probably weird.  We always point to "those" people and mutter behind our palms "she's SO Type A!"

Myself, I am not a Type A, but rather an overachieving artist, I'd like to think.  That is, unless you look closely at the things that I have a penchant for tackling. What idiot would agree to making a soccer banner, creating a bride's necklace and designing the groom's mom's wedding attire? Hmmm...sounds like a duck, acts like a duck....

Here's the deal...the real problem is that these creative opportunities come in cycles. By cycles, I mean all at once. Before I know it, I'm in over my head, even though I am ever confident of my capabilities.  And, I want to do them all! If it weren't for the other projects that seem to beckon me, whispering softly "here Laurel, work on me this morning" I would be fine.

For instance...that beautiful, maddening lace scarf that I mentioned a few posts ago? I finished it.  I was obsessed with working on it when I should have been working on the bride's necklace.

Done. (Check that one off the list).  Wait, it wasn't on the list...

Type A? Heaven's no! Challenging yourself is important.  I get impatient (that's not a Type A trait, is it?) with people who claim they can't do this or they can't do that, and I just ask "Have ever tried?  Challenge might be surprised!"

When the Coach asks for a soccer banner and the Coach is your favorite daughter-in-law, what can you say? So let's go for the most elaborate design you can find,'s your normal M.O. Forgot to take a picture but it looks something like this image...The letters were murder...thank God my daughter helped with this one.  Done in time for team pictures!!

I also finished the bride's necklace and earrings this week, but I can't show you the whole thing (Bride's like to keep these things under wraps. The pearls are exquisite.

In case you're wondering, I haven't touched the art quilt for a couple of weeks, but at least I have started on the free motion quilting...I had to put it aside while I worked on the banner.  And Colette is waiting rather impatiently for attention as well. Come to think of it, I believe that she is definitely Type A - why else would she be in my face all the time???
Laurel. I heard that! I am NOT weird.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Born to run...

I never did any competitive sports in school, other than a few recreational softball games and tennis matches.  Even those were connected with my P.E. class.  In other words, I was never on a team competing with other schools for a medal, letter or trophy.  Consequently, I really have never personally known "the thrill of victory" or the "agony of defeat" from any sports perspective.  As I watched the Olympics this year, the media focused in on parents who watched their progeny either win or lose. I could feel their elation and their disappointment as the years of training and sacrifice was culminated in a split second or a single goal.

Team sports are great. You have the entire group to rely on, and if each person does her best, the team may share the victory together. To me, the hardest fought victories are those of the individual contestants - those who compete alone and have no one to blame but themselves should they fail.  And if they win, the victory is theirs alone.

Running has to be lonely sport...and though I have never run a race, I can at least appreciate the agony and/or ecstasy of coming across the finish line.  It takes courage to run by yourself - it's hard on your knees, feet and shins.  You have to love it. Some runners struggle their whole lives just to run a grueling marathon and say they finished. But some, like Eric Lidell, the devout Christian runner who won the 400 meter race in the 1924 Olympics, are born to run.

File:Eric Liddell.jpg

My beautiful granddaughter may never win a gold medal, or ever compete on the national or world stage, but she is a natural runner. Though it takes everything she's got to mentally gather herself before a race, she runs anyway.
She is courageous. She is's how I want all my granddaughters to be...unafraid to try.

Laurel.  I can't run...can't jump either.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Is it "FGF" or just Fall?

Though my Mom lives in the city limits of a small town, her heart remains in the country where I grew up.  Some 87 years young, she still "farms" her small backyard.  A haven for birds, butterflies and all manner of plants and flowers, her garden reflects an amazing green thumb that unfortunately must have skipped a generation.

Either it's just the nature of the Fall season, or I am having FGF...Farm Girl Failure. Granted, I'm not much into gardening, but I want all the trappings of the country at my city hacienda. It's starts off so lush and green in the early summer, with tomato blossoms promising luscious fruit and strawberry vines flourishing in the morning sun.  But by this time of year, the heat seems to have gotten the best of things and I am thinking I'm a pretty crappy gardener.

 A case in point...Why are my figs splitting???????????  I've been waiting to make a fig and goat cheese tart for months and now all I have is fig grenades that have already exploded.

If I pick them before they explode, I guess they are edible...but they aren't as sweet and juicy.

And what the heck is this? Looks like something from The Little Shop of Horrors".  I have already chopped it down once and it keeps coming back. It's HUGE. "Feed me, Seymour..."

I guess I shouldn't be too hard on myself.  The tomatoes have been wonderful and I have enough basil to have Caprese salad every night.  You can not beat a fresh garden tomato.

And who doesn't love a late summer rose, picked early in the morning?

FGF not withstanding, I guess it only matters that you try...

Even though it's Friday, I'm sharing today on Rural Thursdays and Floral Fridays.
Laurel. Coveting a nice garden. Or a gardener...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Stimulus funds at work...just kidding!

I'll admit that my neighborhood streets are not heavily traveled, if you compare them to say, Interstate 5. Nor is our neighborhood school in the sad state of repair as some in the county. This definitely not not your basic snooty neighborhood but it isn't littered with abandoned cars and boarded up windows either.  It's a nice, pleasant older neighborhood...for the most part, peaceful and serene. We talk to our neighbors here...we know their names and how many grandchildren they have.

The operative word here is "OLDER". Older means mature trees, manicured lawns and most homes reflecting pride of ownership.  It also means older streets and ours are in pretty sad shape. Imagine our joy to see this sign posted a few weeks ago:

Hooray, we are thinking. Finally...and end to the cobblestones, patchworks and potholes.

No it's not the Grand Canyon or a river bottom....hope I don't twist my ankle trying to go for a walk...

So, here's the kicker...the County evidently has more pretty firehouses to build, more trees to trim, more patrol cars to buy, more deputies and jailers to hire, more traffic signals to upgrade, more welfare checks to distribute, etc., as they have elected NOT to actually pave our streets...just patch them...again.  Oh goody, more of this:

And isn't this one special? We need more of these...I guess you remove the small patch and put in a bigger new one?

The entire neighborhood is all decked out in white marking paint to denote the sizes of the patches.
Here's one in front of my beautiful new concrete driveway. Look...I get a BIG patch!

Come on, guys. By the time you patch all the 6 X 22 feet rectangles, you could have just paved the entire street. I don't get what these administrators and pencil pushers are thinking, but it's clear that we didn't get any of the stimulus funds around our neighborhood.  Roads and streets are evidently at the bottom of the list and it shows.

Laurel. Now there's a budget I'd like to audit...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Remembering the good stuff...

Unless you've experience deep loss yourself, you'll probably not really going to get what I'm saying today. We all grieve differently, this I know. But you can't tell a grieving mother who just lost a child that time will indeed heal her sorrow. And you would probably never in your wildest imagination  think that such a mom could find anything happy or uplifting to say on a lost child's birthday, much less anything funny.  But like I said, time is the great equalizer. Today would have been Jon's 39th birthday and the horrid grief is long gone. I can only think about the good stuff.

For all the frustration and chaos he managed to generate in his short 18 years, the kid made me laugh.
In particularly stupid lapses in judgement, all he would have to do was some ridiculous impersonation or crack a joke and my anger would dissipate. As a child he was a never ending source of imaginative Jon-isms. Do you know any four year old boys who might cover the fence with BBQ starter fluid just because it was fun to squirt it out of the can in big giant swirls?

Me: "Jon...what's that all over the fence? Did you do that?
He: "I don't know. Looks like snake pee to me, Mom".

Yesterday was my wedding anniversary, which, much to Jon's chagrin, always seemed to overshadow his birthdays. My daughter, who is a couple of years older than Jon would be, posted on Face book the other day that her 8 year old son wanted to do something that she and Jon would have done as kids to celebrate his birthday.  I was touched when I read her post, but for the life of me, I couldn't think what she and Jon did together at that age. She told me that much to his dismay, she used to make him play Barbies...and he just wanted to play GI JOE.

I remember that they fought, along with his two brothers, well into their teen years. But mostly I remember the proms, vacations and Christmases.  I think about the funny stories...the kind they tell you 20 years after the fact that you thankfully never knew went on. I remember the day I decided I didn't want to clean his room again, after finding "big girl panties" under the bed - now that was a story that will go down in infamy! Then there was that jumping off the roof thing into the swimming pool. These are the things we remember about our kids...not the squabbles, not the anger or times of trouble. We can easily slip into a tearful moment, even after 20 years, but it's usually followed by a smile or a laugh as another story pops into our minds.

Well Happy birthday Barbies for you!

Love, Mom

Friday, August 17, 2012

Morning start...

I hear the little voice in my head.  I try in vain to bury it beneath the warm's been a long night.  After its gentle nudging, its grown impatient and its yelling at me like a clanging alarm...

"Get up're gonna miss this!"

I dress, plug in my iPhone music and I'm off. And somewhere after the first hill, I see it.  Stephen Curtis Chapman is playing in my ear. I raise my pointing finger to the sky and sing my heart out.

Stephen Curtis Chapman

I walk the streets of London
And notice in the faces passing by
Something that makes me stop and listen
My heart grows heavy with the cry
Where is the hope for London?
You whisper and my heart begins to soar
As I'm reminded
Every street in London in Yours, oh yes, it is

I walk the dirt roads of Uganda
I see the scars that war has left behind
Hope like the sun is fading
They're waiting for a cure no one can find
And I hear children's voices singing
Of a God who heals and rescues and restores
And I'm remindedThat every child in Africa is Yours
And it's all Yours, God, Yours, God
Everything is Yours
From the stars in the sky
To the depths of the ocean floor
And it's all Yours, God, Yours, God
Everything is Yours
You're the Maker and Keeper
Father and Ruler of everything,
it's all Yours

And I walk the sidewalks of Nashville
Singapore, Manila and ShanghaiI b
rush by the beggar's hand and the wealthy man
And everywhere I look I realize
That just like the streets of London
For every man and woman, boy and girl
All of creation
This is our Father's world
And it's all Yours, God, Yours, God
Everything is Yours
From the stars in the sky
To the depths of the ocean floor
And it's all Yours, God, Yours, God
Everything is Yours
You're the Maker and Keeper
Father and Ruler of everything
It's all Yours, God
It's all Yours, God
It's all Yours, God
It's all Yours, God
Copied from

Laurel. Be still and know.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The pleasures of sewing...

Colette is in hog heaven today.  She knows I'm off to the City to visit Britex fabrics. Even though I'm not shopping for her specifically, she knows that it will be hard not to resist the beautiful "drapey" knits or wonderful linens lining the walls of this San Francisco institution.

Today I am shopping with a friend to find something gorgeous and flowing for her son's wedding. I've been researching designs for "real women with curves", and I've come up with a nice silhouette for her. Colette is trying it with some of my fabric. Black is now okay for weddings, especially formal evenings, but we will be looking for something in my friend's color palette.  I'm thinking blues for a blond, huh??

Now all we need is to parlay some fabric...and have lunch, of course. How blessed am I to live two hours from San Francisco?

And tomorrow? Off to the Gem Faire to find just the right pearls and crystals for the bride's special day and maybe something for her new Mother-in Law?

Laurel.  I love weddings!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The pleasures of boating....

Whether I am floating on the lake down the road,
putting along like the African Queen, feeding the ducks...

Or enjoying the Delta wild life....

Or watching the sunset on Shasta Lake

Being on the water is like a mini-vacation right at your fingertips. 
Water is soothing, life giving, and rejuvenating. Simple, yet complex...Sounds like fine wine, huh?

Laurel. Love boating.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Blogging Blahs...

We all get them.  You write witty things, you take cool photos, you link-up, you share your heart...and sometimes it seems like no one notices. While you are busy trying to impress and wow the world, they are busy trying lure you into their world with witty writing and cool photos.

Perhaps it's just this obnoxious heat wave or sheer boredom with life in general, but my blogging has been at an impasse for the last few weeks.  You know those can't  think of a single thing worth talking about, you haven't taken any photos, mainly because you have sat on your back side, glued to the Olympics on the TV.  Thank God, they are over, albeit football starts next week...argh!

Every once in a while, people surprise you.  Someone notices. This morning I saw my own post staring back at me from my blog roll.  Amy, of  Love Bug fame hosts a Photo Show-off every week and she mentioned my blog.  It is wonderful to be cheered on by your fellow bloggers...Thank you so much Amy - you gave me a boost this morning!!

Speaking of surprises, my hubby planned the perfect Sunday for me. First a rousing rock band church service, off to the Tower Cafe for lunch, followed by a visit to the Crocker Art Museum, ending with friends dropping by for dinner by the pool.  What a great day!

the hamburger was worth the wait at Tower Cafe!!!

we became members this year at the Crocker, so we got in for free!!!!!!!!

great exhibit by Pop Artist Mel Ramos

Another Eagle Lake trout bites the dust.  yummy!

Laurel.  Buck up, never had it so good.

Visit my Amy and my friends at

Saturday, August 11, 2012

You can take the girl out of the Country, but...

I had a great uncle who slept outside in a grove of bamboo for most of the year throughout his entire life.  When the colder weather set in, he would move to the screened in porch.  But always...always slept with the fresh air blowing in his face.  As kids, we thought he was totally wacked out, probably because he was.  Did you have any uncles who would make insoles out of cardboard and wire their boots together because they were old and full of holes.  Probably not.

Call me poor white trash, but there's something magic about sleeping outside on a summer evening.  As a kid, we would drag our sleeping bags out on the lawn when the swamp cooler could no longer keep up with the August heat waves.  Waking in the morning to the smells of fresh mowed hay, the clucking of hens and the plaintive moos of hungry cows was a reassurance that all would be right in the world that day. Our bags were covered with dew and our pillows damp, but we stayed there in the morning sunshine as long as we could...mainly to avoid the daily chores.

I've had the heebie jeebies (a technical term for restless leg syndrome) for the past two nights, and frankly I just wanted a good night's sleep.  What would a normal city girl do?  Yea, you're right, take a pill, a shot of tequila, jump in the pool know what I'm talking about.  Me?  okay, I took the pill, but I also had the hubby create Shangri la in the back yard.

It was a little distracting to hear the motorcycles roar up the street and the neighbor dog's constant yapping, but the crickets finally won out and I drifted off into a dreamland under the stars.

Try it'll understand my weird uncle.  I do.

Laurel. Don't forget the feather bed..

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Knitter's Tale

Once upon a time there a girl (does 65 still qualify?) who lived in a little hacienda in suburbia who liked to knit. She was always trying to challenge herself with increasingly complex patterns and techniques. Though she had started to work with finer yarns and lacy patterns, she had yet to master the fine art of knitting lace.

The other girls in her knitting group were always showing off their beautiful lace shawls and scarves, so fine and airy. Not to be outdone by any creative endeavor, the girl was determined to conquer lace. She decided to try her hand at creating this lovely shawl:

She bought some beautiful lace weight alpaca yarn, ever so fine,
in the Fall shades that suited her coloring...

At the yarn shop she purchased her favorite wooden needles in a US 4.
"This needle is square", she noted. After ripping out and casting on for the third time she had an epiphany. "This needle is the same color as my yarn.  I can not see my work."

Back to the yarn shop to buy a shiny new US 4.

"This needle is pretty, and I can see my yarn," she said. "But I still can't do this stupid pattern...
It's too hard for me. I need a fatter yarn."
One of her girl friends had given her this pretty yarn.
"It will even match the picture!"

She started on the shawl for the sixth time, using her pretty US 4 (again).
"This pattern is to tight", she cried to herself!
"I need a bigger needle."
She grabbed her shiny US 8 and went to work on the pattern, counting carefully, marking each row.
"This needle is just right", she said. "I can see the pattern, the soft yarn is magnificent to work with and after it's blocked, the result will be soft and beautiful."

"I am the Queen of knitting", she gloated, just before she dropped a stitch.

Laurel. Take pleasure in the small victories of life. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ready for Fall...

I'm not a tree hugger in the truest sense of the word, but for as long as I live I will never understand why people cut down beautiful trees without cause.  Last year, we lost several birch trees in neighboring yards and the bozo across the street actually cut down a giant REDWOOD! Apparently, city people are aggravated with shade, spiny balls and/or piles of leaves that they might have to rake.  Consequently, our neighborhood street has none of the charming Fall beauty it had when we moved in 8 years ago..there is one lone Liquid Amber around the corner that has survived the chainsaw.

Come on's not like we valley dwellers in California have any of the stunning Fall color that graces our friend's home in Vermont, so why cut down the ONLY tree in the neighborhood that produces magnificent Fall foliage? Interestingly, you have to pay the county if you want to cut down an ugly Valley Oak as they are protected.  Not sure why, as we kill them anyway with our over watered yards.

Enough of my rant...

Fall is my favorite time of the year. As the summer heat has frayed the last raw nerve of my blogging friends across the nation, I'll bet they are looking forward to it too.

Laurel. What smells better than a Fall morning? Nothing.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Down time...

We all need it...sometimes more than others. We live our lives rushing around as if it really mattered that we accomplish every last one of the voluminous laundry list items of "want to's", "have to's" and "ought to's".  The truth is that many of the items on our daily lists really don't matter in the larger scheme of life.  And sometimes (actually often for me!) you just need to chill.

In celebration of my birthday this year, my girlfriends and I found a vacation home in the foothill wine country...we would normally hit Palm Desert in the Fall for our annual get away, but we changed it up this year. It was a lovely log home with a spectacular view. No pool, but

It was nice to just sit and watch the sky...

Enjoy the beauty...

Be with friends...

Celebrate Passages over a great meal...

Exercise our minds...

Listen to a Beethoven Sonata on a concert grand (yes, in a vacation home!)...

Shop and "do lunch" in a cute little nearby town...

Then come back home, relaxed, kiss the hubby, check the mail for birthday cards,
and see this...
Happy Birthday, Laurel!

Now that's what I call Real "Down Time"...good grief!

Laurel.  65 and another year closer I guess!!

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