Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas in the Adobes

Feeling very much like a domestic goddess today (a rarity, let me tell you), I thought I would take a break from the cooking, baking, gift wrapping, and sewing (yes, you read that right) to share pictures of the annual Christmas in the Adobes. This beloved event is basically a candlelight walking tour through downtown Monterey. We went last Thursday night, as rain was forecast for Saturday night, and it was ideal. The museums were open, unique gifts could be purchased in the "first store", and apple cider, Mexican cocoa, and Christmas cookies kept our energy up for the brisk walk. On the patios, musicians played a variety of interesting instruments from Monterey's early days. There are almost two dozen places that you can visit on the route. We learned more about California's history, and came home even more in the Christmas spirit!

The Christmas tree in the Pacific House museum:

The museum's bear -- the bear, of course, is an important California symbol and appears on our State flag:

The Boston Store was the first store in the state and boasts the first safe (all that gold from the gold rush had to go somewhere). You can still buy old-fashioned ornaments, embroidered handkerchiefs, books on our history, and many other items there:

The Merritt House was decorated beautifully:

The lawn at the Merritt House:

Below is California's First Theater. This is hard to see at night as it is an old wooden structure. The doorways are very short and you have to be careful not to hit your head entering.

This should look familiar! Colton Hall with the town Christmas Tree:

A downtown Monterey street aglow for Christmas:

The entrance to Fisherman's Wharf:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas is in the Air


I love Christmas! Such a magical time of year. A time when peace and good will toward man fill our hearts, and we are reminded of God's love for us. And I love all the traditions associated with Christmas.

Of course, as a December baby (taken home from the hospital on Christmas Eve), there is a bonus in December for me. There were downsides to having a birthday near Christmas, but not the one you would think. People were always careful not to do the birthday-Christmas gift combo package. Instead it was just a really long haul waiting for something new. My sister had a July birthday. Now that always seemed like the perfect time for a b-day. Mid-year she got a whole new slew of fun things and a summer wardrobe, and no one's attention was diverted by an even bigger event. Still, I'm pretty happy being a Christmas time baby. After all, when the other kids had to wait until December 25, I had the smug satisfaction of opening some presents a few days before that. What a feeling of power that was.

Here are 10 signs of the arrival of the Christmas season I've observed so far this week:
1. A neighbor's giant inflatable Santa Claus is already laying on his back on their roof (maybe he is rolling on the floor laughing -- ho, ho, ho)
2. Mail volume has more than doubled in the past week (ads)
3. The neighborhood "who has the most lights and decorations" contest has begun
4. Cookies and other goodies are appearing in the office every day
5. Two lovely cards have already arrived in my mailbox
6. There is debate among some coworkers -- ornament exchange or cookie exchange (hmmm, this is a toughie)
7. People are donning scarves and Christmas sweaters (I even dug out my snowflake one)
8. The Salvation Army bell ringers are posted outside Target
9. There is a wonderful scent of logs burning in people's chimneys at night
10. The airwaves are alive with the sound of Christmas music.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Durango Memories

Last year Lys and I joined my sister and her granddaughter in Durango, Colorado over Thanksgiving vacation. What a great get-away! Upon our arrival, the trees were bare, the air was crisp, and the mountains rose in rugged splendor.

Thanksgiving morning we woke to the magical transformation that snow brings!
Our last night there we went on the Polar Express -- the narrow-gauge train that runs from Durango to Silverton. Here it is pulling into Durango at dusk.

Children boarded the train in their pj's. We were treated to hot chocolate while they sang the "Hot, Hot, Hot, Hot Chocolate" song from the movie. As the train chugged on, we heard the story of "The Polar Express." At last Santa met us at the North Pole and gave each of us a silver bell (if you believed!). We all became children once again. Downtown has an old west feeling to it. We had one of the best breakfasts at a little cafe before doing some shopping on the main street. Making a snowman and caroling with the towns people to the village center for the Christmas tree lighting completed this memorable weekend.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to let others know what we are thankful for, so here are excerpts from my gratitude journal....
I'm thankful for my daughters ~ the shining lights in my world, my dad ~ he's my hero, my sisters who are always there through the laughter and the tears, my friends ~ crazy fellow travelers on this journey, God's hand in guiding my life and His promises, freedom to go to church, my work ~ both appreciated and fulfilling, a roof over my head, a warm bed to sleep in, and a cupboard full of food, a car that runs, my health, medical miracles, opportunities to touch other people's lives and be touched in return, America the beautiful, the loyal companionship of our pets, being able to hear music and laughter and a good joke, being able to see sunsets and florescent waves pounding the beach...Blessings too numerous to mention.
Happy Thanksgiving!

What a Dandy Dog!

When I can no longer see Frosty's eyes without moving hair back from his face, it's time for a trip to the groomers. Here he is leaving the house this morning:And here he is, tail in rapid motion, upon returning home:

See, he really does have legs!

Laughing From the Inside Out

Peeling off wringing wraps
Bundling into warm robes
and Laughing from the inside out...
...ah, the aftermath of a rainwalk.

Poem written by Brenda (your's truly) in the 1970's.

It's raining today! We need the rain here in California for our much too dry terrain, but we also need the change of scenery. Rain is our version of "fall" arriving. Time to put a fire in the fireplace, cozy up with apple cider and a bowl of popcorn.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Seven Dwarfs Live in Our House

Awhile back my daughters decided to give the seven of us residing in our house nicknames borrowed from the Seven Dwarfs in the fairy tale Snow White. Here we go....

Happy - this is the nickname of our Maltese mix dog Frosty. Frosty is ALWAYS happy, loves everyone, wags his tail constantly. What a great disposition! Frosty was rescued from the SPCA after his original owner died and there was no one to take him in.

Bashful - this is the nickname of our black spaniel mix dog Chaucer. Chaucer is sweet and calm, rarely barks, holds back in a shy manner. He was also rescued from the SPCA who found him wandering the streets, and he is an absolute love.

Doc - this applies to Lys's cat Cookie. Cookie is a long haired black cat who rules the roost. We swear she understands English and everything we say, and sits smugly in judgement of the inferior humans around her. She is mischevious and clever, and quite social -- always joining in where we are.
Grumpy - this applies to Ash's orange cat Serena. Serena started out serene -- quiet and reserved. But she has become a one-person cat and when Ash isn't around, neither is Serena. She bellows when someone approaches her, but will make up to some -- on her terms. You would never guess that Serena and Cookie are from the same litter.

Dopey - Ash's nickname as she likes to be silly and goofy.

Sleepy - Lys's nickname as she seems to need her sleep to be at the top of her game.

Sneezy - Yes, this is me, fitting as I have a tendency to sneeze not once, but about 10 times in a row.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Desiderata changed my life when I was a teenager, and I re-read it often. Worth memorizing, definitely worth reading when your soul needs refreshed.... I quote from Max Ehrmann, who wrote Desiderata in the 1920's:

"Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

"Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

"Keep interested in your own career, however humble, it's a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

"Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

"Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

"Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In Loving Memory -- Finding Joy in Everyday

We write our own autobiographies. Some chapters are harder than others. Sometimes we can't even make sense of the plot.

Two weeks ago the unthinkable happened. Two of my nephews were killed in a car accident. Our entire family was shocked and devastated. Like lightning striking twice, my sister had lost her daughter in a car accident just two years ago. Now all three of her children were gone. I went to her house and spent 10 days of life-in-slow-motion with her. There is that sense that life is not for wimps -- we have to be brave. Now home again, back at work, I'm trying to figure out what to take from this. My sister has incredible faith in God. The boys had a real gusto for living. My other nephew talked about their living lives with no regrets -- they lived each day to the fullest.

I know one thing. Life is meant to be lived with joy. So much beauty surrounds us. Kind people abound. You can usually find something to smile at every day. So today I will admire the changing sky as the sun rises, enjoy the grins of the children I work with, and say something positive to the people whose paths I cross. Faith, gusto, and joy -- rich lessons to learn in life.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lifting the Blog Fog

Starting a blog is something I've been wanting to do for quite some time now. A place to write thoughts, record history as I travel through it, post some pictures -- and be able to reflect back on things that have impacted my life.

Why "Plant a Book"? Through the WH Memorial Plant-a-Book Project, my daughters and I have been able to plant books in the hands of impoverished children and foster a love of literacy. Wayne had loved books and gardening, so establishing this project was a way to remember him and do something to help others in his name. Wayne had his doctorate in psychology and saw good in every child he met. It seemed fitting that our daughters (who also love books) and I would carry on with planting a garden of books in his honor. Through his memorial Plant-a-Book project we have provided books to children attending Galilee Primary School in Kenya, Orphan Sponsorship International's orphanage library in Sri Lanka, and Candlelight School in Kenya. Fanuel, the Director of Galilee Primary School, named the school's library after my late husband -- a moving tribute.

Books have always been important to me. In the family album is a picture of me at age three, wearing a sagging diaper and studying an encyclopedia. I learned to read before I started school, and remember one hot summer in Southern California when my friend Carmen and I walked to the library every chance we could, lugging home stacks of mysteries and historical romances. To this day, I always need a book to turn to at day's end.

So begins my blog.... Turning the page on a new chapter.