Thursday, July 30, 2009

Today, on my way home (my home is over there to the right of the trees) there were all these incredible clouds building up over the Sierras. These clouds have been building up every day, producing thunder and lightning over the Sierras and the Lake Tahoe region. I don't think it's totally visible in this picture or not (maybe if you click and enlarge)but close to the horizon there is a deadly looking dark-gray area that you know is filled with rain and all that stuff we hate to talk about during fire season.

There has been some strange weather going on this summer. I have heard people back east talk about the rains that just seem to keep coming. And this week Oregon and Washington have had some record heat. Unfortunately, most people in those areas that traditionally have lots of rain, are not prepared for the heat. We had friends visiting people in Port Angeles, Washington this week and they didn't know how to handle temperatures in the mid-80's. They don't have air conditioning in most places there because they don't usually need it. But this year: a different story.

We are supposed to cool down this weekend and I'm not sure if these big "thunder bumpers" will go away at the same time or if they are heading east, as they usually do. If you could see past this picture you would see Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, and on and on. Eventually, they head to Maine and all points east. Sorry all you bloggers who are possibly experiencing some sun. Hopefully these big clouds will not ruin that for you.

I'd love to have a bit of the rain if it didn't have to be accompanied by the thunder and the lightning. When that hits my neck of the woods you will find me hiding in the closet with my hands over my eyes. All it takes is having your house experience a direct hit and that is the end of the "oh, isn't it beautiful?" attitude. My husband isn't bothered by it at all, even to this date. But me and the dog: we are chickens and hide until it passes. I am crossing my fingers that it stays in the east and doesn't make it presence known here at our home.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Today I am going to take the advice of Willow (Life at Willow Manor) and write about what is important to me and what is happening in my life.

This moon! This moon keeps me awake all night shining in through my window. This picture was taken last night after dark and I wasn't sure that the moon would actually even show up in the photo but it did. I would say it is about half-full.

Half-full...that is not half-empty. In terms of speaking with a voice that is more positive, when talking about the moon you just automatically do that. "Half-full". "Full moon". These are just two examples of the terminology that we use every day that can determine how we feel without even being aware of it. Have you ever heard yourself say: "My neck is killing me." Just listen to those words carefully. Do you think that if you said it enough times that your body would reward you with just what you have asked for?

I have caught myself thinking lately that I need to be more aware of what I am thinking and saying out loud. I need to edit my thoughts and statements to reflect what I wish to achieve or to have in my life. I consciously put a line through the statement when I hear (or catch) myself saying something that has a negative connotation. The "no" line as in "no whining" "no smoking", etc.

Today, I saw my Endocrinologist and he and I talked about my next plan of attack in regards to my thyroid cancer. We both decided that it would be better to be pro-active and have radioactive iodine treatment in case one of those nasty cancer cells happens to be lingering around inside of me. I can't tell you that I am thrilled about this decision. It is very hard for me to relinquish control and "trust". But, in this case I think that erring on the side of caution and not let this get the best of me is the best choice. I cried today. More than once. But, I need to make my thoughts more in line with what I expect the outcome to be.

Positive thinking? Yes, I'll have a bit of that. Is the glass half-full or half-empty? I am trying to adjust my usual "poor me" attitude and think of it as "lucky me". What if they wouldn't have caught this in the early stages? What if there were no opportunity to treat it medically? No---I am not being punished for something that I said or did throughout my life. It was just luck of the draw. Or is it?

If you believe, like I do, that everything happens for a reason then I have to believe that some good will come out of this whole ordeal. What am I to gain with what I am going through? What do young children have to gain when they are given a cancer diagnosis? I'm sure there are plenty of parents who ask themselves that question all the time. Yet, most of them rise to the occasion and fight with all they have.

I DID notice that gorgeous moon last night. It was rising over you and it was rising over me (perhaps a few hours later or earlier, but all the same, it was rising). was HALF FULL. I refused to see it as empty. It is too beautiful, too ethereal, too transient, too brilliant to be empty. Tonight, when I look at it again and see it growing just a little bit bigger, I will be thinking of all of you who have also spotted it there in the sky and notice that it shines on each one of us the same, just at a different time during the day.

Is that a good thing? You bet! The thoughts that you have sent up to the moon have tracked along the sky inside of this brilliant moon and have landed on me a few hours later. I am awash with the light and the brilliance of this moon. This moon that will not allow me to sleep. This moon that keeps me awake thinking. This will change everything if I let it. Thank you moon. What I thought was a "negative" thing has turned out to be "positive". And for that I am grateful.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Here is how Bodhi, our new Standard Poodle, spent the afternoon. I can tell you that B and I also took short naps too. I guess it was the heat getting to all of us. It was about 96 degrees here in the Sierra Foothills. We tried doing a bit of stuff outside but it was just too hot. The roses need trimming, the garden needs weeding, but if you wait until the mosquitoes are gone then the heat has arrived. There is just no happy medium.

This dog: Bodhi is everything we ever wanted in a dog and more. I think we had him for over a week before we even heard his voice. He never barks, he never whines, he just wants to be loved. His only flaw is that he jumps up and wraps his "arms" around our waists and puts his head on us to love us. We recognize that this is "loving" us but to some unsuspecting person it might seem that he is jumping up and being aggressive. Not Bodhi. I don't think he knows the meaning of the word aggressive.

In the morning when we let him outside he will do his "business" and then run immediately back up on the deck, running from front to back again and again until we open the door and let him back in. During the day he is right by our sides, either on the floor napping or walking along side one of us. He is a bit snoopy, always wanting to check out what we are doing or eating in the kitchen. He likes strawberries and watermelon but doesn't like bananas. Those are only small treats for him. He knows that he has his own food waiting for him morning and night.

In the evening he will jump up on B's lap and fall asleep. He is a forty-pound lap dog. And, if he can't get up on B's lap he will just lean his head and upper body on B until he falls asleep and his back legs start to wobble and give way. And, that doesn't always wake him up either!

Me--I have to have my pillow and blankets "just right" before I can even begin to fall asleep at night. It is not as easy for me to relax at the end of the day no matter what I try. Hot baths, lavender, reading, TV playing, fan blowing on low---I have tried them all. I wish I had the ability to just lay down on the floor, shut my eyes, and know that all is well in the world. No worries, no cares, just everything being taken care of for me. Ah----the life of a dog.

He will show me how to live, how to think, how to just "be". That is his purpose. To show only love. To give only love, to enlighten me and make me aware. He already has. And, he didn't even know he did. That is the beauty of it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Today I was having a really blah day. I had already done my three-mile walk and had my breakfast and my lunch but the rest of the day was really rather boring. B went down to the mailbox and when he came back, he had a package in his hand that was addressed to me. I glanced at it and recognized the return address and name: Lynne Hoppe of What a surprise! That package literally made my day. The box was decorated with lots of art, stickers, and special sentiments like "Practice Random Kindness". Boy, did she!! I had commented to Lynne once (or maybe twice! :)) about how I just felt like I needed one of her flags here at my house and that I wanted to buy one. She said that she didn't sell them. I told her about my connection to the crow and how I felt that the crow had been guiding me for quite some time. These flags that she has sent me have special crow images on them and they will be going someplace very special in my house. I don't think that I can part with some of them and put them outside but I will try and find a special place. But the special crow one with the copper back: he just might have to go in my bedroom or bathroom where he can continue to watch over me and give his words of wisdom to me.

Look at what I saw when I opened up the package: it is a package filled with love, light, color, and kindness. A true gift!

How will I ever re-pay you, Lynne? This is one of the kindest things that anyone has ever done for me. Yesterday I received a card from the nurses who took care of me in the hospital. I thought THAT was a special day. This really tops it. Maybe the whole week is filled with mystery and love. I just have to look for the small gifts that I have probably been ignoring more often than not. Life is a mystery, isn't it? But, it is filled with the most incredible people. Lynne: when you least expect it something will be in YOUR mailbox! It may take me awhile to find just the right thing but that is what will make it interesting. Crow will guide me, I'm sure of it!! Oh---one other thing: your post office box numbers are my lucky numbers. They have been forever! I don't think I would have expected anything other than that. Truly!

I was having a rather boring day. It was not really a BAD day but I just had no motivation after I went for my usual three-mile walk and then came home for breakfast. The afternoon just kind of was dragging on and on and then the mail came! I LOVE THAT MAIL BOX!!! Really I do. When B arrived back home he had a package in his hands and it was addressed to me. I could not believe my eyes! A while back I had been looking at Lynne Hoppe's blog ( and she had posted pictures of these incredible flags that she had made. I could not help myself and asked her if she ever sold any of these because I really felt like I needed one here at my house and was willing to buy one from her. We also talked about my connection to crows and how I feel as though they have been guiding me the last year or so. Her flags are made on muslin and she hangs them in the forests on trees and in the creeks and rivers mounted on framework made of sticks, it looks like.

These are just so wonderful. They are filled with color and wonderful textures. They are made on muslin and one is even backed with copper that has been embossed. She has done such an incredible job on these. I wish you all could see them with your own eyes.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Let me tell you how it all began: I was out with my camera, taking pictures of some of my favorite cabins when I came upon a man out in the front of this cabin that sits on the corner. I commented about the wonderful bench he had made and he proceeded to tell me all about it, invited me to see the others and once inside, we talked about where we had grown up. He currently lives in the town I was born in and his wife lived in the town I went to High School at. When she told me which street she lived on and what High School she had attended, I knew exactly where this was. I went back to camp and told my husband all about my conversation with Steve Bidwell and his wife Karen and then there was this funny look on my husband's face. He said "Uh oh!--I think I dated her in High School!". So, we both headed back to their cabin and when we started talking to them again Karen looked at Bill and said "I think I dated you". What a small world it is. And, the second coincidence was that Steve's good friend lives in our town currently and works at the local Ace Hardware where my sister is the manager. They grew up together in the Bay Area and still talk at least once a month. It certainly is a small world. I am always amazed at what you find out about people once you start talking and asking questions. If you just walk by someone and never say hello or ask them any questions, you will never find anything out about them. It's just like with the blog world. Reading and asking questions, finding out about each other, we all find similarities and who knows: maybe there is only six degrees of separation between all of us. Maybe I know someone that you know or are related to.

This bench sits out in the front of the cabin. Steve told me that it is chained underneath so that it wouldn't go "missing". I asked him so many questions about his handiwork that he invited me to the back yard to see the other benches he had made and from there, he invited me into the house (oh goody!) to see the trestle table that he built. He seems very talented to me and I would say that he really loves doing it from how beautiful they all turned out.

This is a close-up of a chair that is located in the backyard that Steve Bidwell also made. I laughed when I saw the center of the chair and how the piece of wood that he used look like a foot. You can click on the photo to enlarge and see how similar it looks to an actual foot. I think it is known to his family as "the foot chair or bench". I might be wrong about the actual terminology but not the subject matter.

This is a picture of the bench located in the backyard with the "foot" located in the middle. Isn't it great?

This bench was hand-made by Steve Bidwell also and he carved his grandchildren's names in the back of the bench. I love the yellow color that it has. It sits in the backyard of the cabin under a treed area.

Here is the trestle table that Steve Bidwell made of straight-grain wood. It has a lovely hue and looks so incredible in the dining area of their cabin sitting on top of the braided rug. Isn't all the wood in the house incredible? I would imagine that it is all original and probably dates back to the 1920's.

This is the joint that holds the table together and gives it strength. These are all hand-made by Steve Bidwell. He is a very talented man. I really enjoyed the tour of the house and what made it even better was the fact that we all had a connection (or two) so it all seemed so much more personal. Maybe one of these days I will see him hanging out in town at his friend's house or at the local hardware store. Or, maybe they will rent their house to us one of these years! One can only hope.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Pinecrest, as I have said before, is one of my all-time favorite places. I have been going there since I was a child. For me, it has a special smell, a special look, and a special feeling that is permanently ingrained in me. This year, we took our brand new special dog with us there. Bodhi was such a great dog the entire week. He was quiet, he was calm, and he was dirty. What were we thinking getting a white dog? We live in an area of California that has red clay dirt instead of soil and camping? Well, have you ever gone camping and NOT gotten dirty? I don't think that it is possible.

This is a picture of the campground one early morning before everyone was awake. It is a nice time of the day to walk around because the entire campground is so still and quiet. By the afternoon the place is really crowded. There are group camps close by and lots of kids filter in and out of the main campground on their way to the lake. This year we made reservations so late that there was only one site available with six nights in a row so we snatched it up not really thinking where it was located. Well, turned out that it was the major thoroughfare for everyone on their way to the lake, to the store, to the post office, to the outdoor show at dusk, and that made for a lot of fun conversations to over-hear. Plus, a lot of noise. But, I told myself (and B) that we were just going to have to make the best of it and look for the silver lining. We met lots of people as they were walking past our camp site and the majority of them stopped or commented on Bodhi. He was a hit with everyone. B said "You know what's good about this dog? He makes everyone smile". Now---isn't that a good reason to have such a wonderful dog? And, wasn't the name we picked for him so appropriate?

Bodhi is a Sanskrit word meaning enlightenment. The word "buddha" means "one who has achieved bodhi". Also frequently (and more accurately) it is translated as "awakening". It is an abstract noun formed from the verbal root budh (to awake, become aware, notice, know or understand). I feel like we were led to find Bodhi and that he is with us now to help us understand things about ourselves and others. He definitely helps us become aware, notice, know and understand things. I feel like he is truly a gift to us.

This is a photo of the lake one afternoon. Each day we would put our walking shoes on, grab the dog leash, and go for a walk. We walked every day, multiple times. It was good for us and good for the dog. And, not bad scenery either!

All around the lake there are cabins that date back to the 1920's. These are currently owned by the Forest Service and when you buy a cabin here, you only own the cabin. Not the land. In fact, the Forest Service used to give one hundred year leases to the owners of the cabins but have recently changed it to twenty year leases. I have always coveted these cabins and the life-style that they provide. I could imagine myself packing up my clothes and staying there the entire summer if I owned one. They are currently very high priced and highly sought after. Despite the horrible housing market and the prices that things are selling for in foreclosures, the "cabins" have held their value. I don't think that I will ever own one of these cabins considering what they are selling for. About the closest I could get to my "dream" is to rent one some year. My sister and I have been considering that and it just might happen one of these summers.

Each cabin is unique. Each holds a special place in my heart as I look at them and imagine what they look like inside, what kind of furnishings they are decorated with, what kinds of people live inside and what their stories entail. I imagine myself sitting out on the decks reading. Perhaps it is sitting around the rock fireplace that I have images of. Whatever the case might be I feel like I am at home when I am in Pinecrest.

Here is an excerpt from "The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri who says everything I feel so eloquently. "The house is dark, a bit musty, full of primitive, mismatched furniture. There are exposed pipes in the bathrooms, wires stapled over doorsills, nails protruding from beams. On the walls are clusters of local butterflies, mounted and framed, a map of the region on thin white paper, photographs of the family at the lake over the years. Checkered cotton curtains hang in the windows on thin white rods...Hairy unfinished logs hold up the roof, and there is a gap between where the floor ends and the wall begins, so that one can see a thin line of grass." These images are what I have had in my head all my life when it comes to "the cabins". Whether they exist or not, I still have to find out for myself.

But, I met a husband and wife who own one of these cabins while I was walking around taking pictures. I will tell you about them, their cabin and their unique story another day. Suffice it to say, we had a connection or two.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Tomorrow we leave, with our trailer and our new dog, for our camping trip to Pinecrest. I will miss my writing table, my computer, and reading every one's posts but I will be enjoying the beauty of Strawberry Lake and being able to read my new Steven King book "Duma Key".

I just recently read my first-ever Steven King book called "Lisey's Story" and couldn't get the book out of my head for a few weeks. I really enjoyed his writing style and the fact that I wasn't able to know what was going to come next. His story was totally unpredictable and that is what kept my eyes glued to the pages. So far, "Duma Key" is doing that for me once again. I bought the book at Costco a few weeks ago and would have had the entire book read except that I thought that it would be good to have a book to "chew on" while we are camping. There is nothing waiting for you to do when you are camping and that is what I like about it.

Here at home we don't have that many pressing items on the agenda either. Hmmmm..."should we mow today? What should we have for dinner? Oh---------there is that load of laundry that needs to be washed. And, should I spend some time up at my sewing machine today?" Life when you retire early is filled with a lot of time to just "be". It's a perpetual holiday; a week where every day is a Friday. It's not bad really. And, where we live is so off-the-beaten-path that we don't have road noise or neighbors that are noisy either so there is lots of time to sit outside in the hammock or a lounge chair and read.

Most days I sit at this desk that holds my computer, a lamp, a few cherished rocks, a ceramic bowl that holds my "stuff", and a ceramic sculpture made by Jimmy Adamson. His piece (you can see a glimpse of it off to the right) is a giant plate that holds giant pieces of blackened toast and around the plate are the words that read "Even if you burn your toast you can scrape it". Isn't that true!!!

I bought this piece when I was going to school for my art degree. Occasionally, the teachers would put up some of their own work for sale and I had been salivating over this piece for a long time and let him know each time I saw him. One day he came up to me and asked if I would like to buy it. You bet!!! So, now it is one of my favorite things that I look at each day. Jimmy has gone on to retire also and I think how lucky I was to be at the right place at the right time.

I'll miss seeing all your favorite things too while I am gone. I have gotten used to "clicking" each day and being inspired by everyone. How diverse everyone is yet how similar too. We all seem to have a love for wonderful things: books, nature, good food, animals, people that inspire us, and basically just life. Some of life isn't so glorious but it is still life. We, as bloggers, sometimes are bombarded with unfriendly people who just don't understand our point of view. But, that is life. "Into each life a little rain must fall" as the saying goes. And, so we just hold our heads up and keep putting our hearts out on our sleeves because for us it is making a difference. For us it is important.

So, to all of you who have had some "burned toast" served to you on a platter occasionally, I say: SCRAPE IT. And keep on eating.

See you in a week.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

by Richard Brautigan

Hamlet with
a cormorant
under his arm
married Ophelia.
She was still
wet from drowning.
She looked like
a white flower
that had been
left in the
rain too long.
I love you,
said Ophelia,
and I love
that dark
bird you
hold in
your arms.

Big Sur
February 1958

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Yesterday we drove to Merced and parked next to this park where we waited for Abby and Tracy to drive up with our new "guy". Tracy and her daughter exited their car with this beautiful, white (did I say white?) bundle of joy. We played around in the park a bit, talked with Tracy and Abby for awhile, and all of us got to know each other. And, it wasn't a really hot day so that made it easier to spend time outside and not in an air-conditioned car.

He now belongs to us and we adore him. It is a bit of an adjustment because we haven't had a dog in our house for over a year but because he is older (14-months old) and so we think that he will adjust very easily and quickly. We will have to practice our training skills. Hello Ceasar...we need your help.

So, then we had to bid Tracy and Abby farewell. You can see that he really loves them and I hope that he ends up loving us just as much one day. The last picture is our new Standard Poodle, whom we affectionately now call Bodhi, in our yard this morning. I will be posting new pictures as I get around to it. He likes my computer: he hit the keys this morning with his paw and deleted everything that I had already typed out. It's kind of like having a baby in the family!

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