Friday, August 24, 2012


Wednesday, my granddaughter went back to school. It was a warm day but not quite as hot as it has been the past few weeks. I remember my own "back-to-school" days and having to endure the "end-of-summer" heat. My friend Victoria's mother was the first person I had ever heard the term "Indian Summer" from when she was describing the late summer heat. I have never forgotten that, as with so many other phrases or sayings I have learned along the way. 

The wheels in my brain are always turning. It seems that babysitting a little one gives me lots of time to ponder many things. Lately, I've been thinking about my yard and the way it has changed from when we moved here to what it looks like currently. And, I have been planning for the future garden too.

 The gophers seemed to get the best of me this year. Some days I would walk out in the vegetable garden and an entire plant would be wilting and turning pale yellow. I have been lucky to retain the pumpkins and the tomatoes, but the melons, eggplant, onions and bell peppers all succumbed to the teeth of the gopher.

I have been thinking about the beach these last few days too. When I was in high school we used to hop in my car and drive to Santa Cruz and watch our friends surf. Living just a few hours away from ocean made it easy to just head to the beach when we wanted to. I have fond memories of camping there, of walking on the wooden planks on the boardwalk, of the salty air and the sand between my toes. There is a whole different feel to an ocean town and it stays with you all your life...that need to be around the ocean occasionally. I have been thinking about the beach more often lately probably because of the heat wave here and the cool breezes as the ocean. But also because of the changes between summer and autumn. This time of the year seems to signal change because it is a transitional time...a time when our thoughts are of the present but also of the future.

Things aren't always as easy as you think in life. I always thought that when I got to the age of retirement that it would be nothing but play and fun from morning until night. But, that doesn't always happen. I guess its true that "nature abhors a vacuum" because the more time I seem to carve out for myself, the more something comes along to fill in the blank space that was created. Some days I just need a little propping up...much like the kick-stand on this bike. 

I think about all the places that I have wanted to travel to and more often than not, money seems to be the issue that keeps the reality of traveling away. I guess its not such a bad thing...dreaming about traveling. It at least gives me something to plan for in the future. And maybe traveling at the end of summer is even better than being in the thick of all those people "on vacation". The transient populations will have thinned out and made it easier to get from point A to point B. 

I have also been flooded with thoughts about how fragile life is, especially after reading about John Ptak and his wife Patti Digh. She is the author of "Life is a Verb" and many other books. Her husband John has just been diagnosed with cancer and their plans, I'm sure have changed drastically. It has been a time of unknowns, this "end of summer". It makes me think about so many losses in my own life too and wonder. 

Patti is right though: life is a verb. It's an action word. You've got to get out there and do something every day. You can't become static because you will just wither on the vine. Making plans for the future is important too but realizing that things change is a very important lesson to learn. Being prepared for those changes is not always as easy as one might think. Be sure to always have a back-up plan and if not, have a kick stand to prop you up for awhile. Sometimes just a little time is all you need to change your outlook. The end of summer is the end but it is also THE BEGINNING OF AUTUMN. The beginning...don't you love the sound of that word?

Thursday, August 16, 2012






Wednesday, August 8, 2012



Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Santa Barbara continued

Outside of the bookstore area at University of California Santa Barbara

Some of the rooms in the art department. What a view! It would be hard to study art every day.

Another view from the same art building.

The clock tower that chimes every hour on the hour. I found it pleasant to hear.

Another building right on the cliffs. 

Outside the Events Center.

Ready for some summer movies? Sci-Fi?

A "sea" of bikes!

Not your mother's Huffy! But still old-school looking.

Art around campus. Kinetic sculpture moves when the winds blow off the ocean. 

Bronze sculpture.

Pelicans in the lagoon. 

More wild life but of a different variety. Do you think this is a class? I wouldn't doubt it.

A ballet class moving across campus.

And the real reason why students come to UCSB----the surf! Before...

And after.

Monday, August 6, 2012


When I think of Santa Barbara, I think of palm trees, tile roofs, cool seaside weather, and beautiful flowers.

My daughter invited me to drive down to Santa Barbara with her this week and is treating me to an entire week of relaxation in a beautiful room with views up to the mountains.

Today, we started our day with coffee and I finished mine out on the patio.

The grounds of the motel are gorgeous with topiary and palm.

Imagine sitting by the pool with not one other person around! This is what my morning was like.

No one else around but just the reflections of umbrellas and palms! This is heaven! Tropical heaven!

Later in the morning I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood. I love to see what is around me and especially when visiting a new town so far away (over an 8 hour drive from home). It always gives me a great feeling to see all the beauty around me. is good practice using my camera.

I love the vignettes that I find along the way. There is such art in planting flowers and displaying them in such a way that appeals to the eye. Not everyone has this ability. It is definitely an art form.

Santa Barbara is loaded with succulents. Being on the coast, it doesn't get really hot in the summer nor does it get really cold in the winter. It is ideal for succulents and I found so many varieties along my walk today.

Mama plant 

and baby.

This beautiful example of some sort of cactus (I think) looked really round and barrel-like. It reminded me of the way that a cabbage grows.

I wish that you could smell the air here! There are sweet roses in bloom around every corner.

And the sweet smell of citrus in the air. Everywhere I walk I am smelling beautiful fragrances. How blessed I am to be walking this morning.

I decided, after talking to a UC Santa Barbara student along the way, to venture down a road that has a creek habitat and lots of birds. I walked along for the longest time completely alone and eventually came out into a beautiful neighborhood.

I met a beautiful woman who was walking her two dogs. We talked and shared bits of our lives with each other and she offered to put one of her dogs away and walk around the neighborhood with me. She showed me some paths that I'm sure I would not have even noticed had I not been with her. We discovered that we both have twins. She is a widow and has a lust for life. Her husband worked for General Motors before he passed away. They had moved here from Wisconsin in 1972. She is in her 80's and so vital and interesting.

She made these tiles and placed them in her yard. Isn't life interesting? Taking time to talk with a stranger and being invited to walk in her neighborhood alongside her was a real treat for me. It always make me feel excited about life when I meet someone new. I always wonder what life had planned for me when I meet a stranger. I know there is always a plan. 

We introduced ourselves to each other. Her name is Bonnie. She was walking her 13-1/2 year-old Yorkie. She will always hold a special memory for me now. It is a moment in time spent in Santa Barbara where a person took a bit of time out of their day to visit with a stranger, take a walk with a stranger, and connect. Life is such a miracle waiting to happen. 

I'm sure there are many more photos and stories waiting for me on the week-long trip. I can't wait to see what each day holds.