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.