Sunday, January 17, 2010

Blue Willow

When I was a teenager I began collecting blue willow china.

A romantic at heart, I loved the story behind the painting on the dishes:

"The Romantic Fable: Once there was a wealthy Mandarin, who had a beautiful daughter (Koong-se). She had fallen in love with her father's humble accounting assistant (Chang), angering her father (it was inappropriate for them to marry due to their difference in social class). He dismissed the young man and built a high fence around his house to keep the lovers apart. The Mandarin was planning for his daughter to marry a powerful Duke. The Duke arrived by boat to claim his bride, bearing a box of jewels as a gift. The wedding was to take place on the day the blossom fell from the willow tree.

"On the eve of the daughter's wedding to the Duke, the young accountant, disguised as a servant, slipped into the palace unnoticed. As the lovers escaped with the jewels, the alarm was raised. They ran over a bridge, chased by the Mandarin, whip in hand. They eventually escaped on the Duke's ship to the safety of a secluded island, where they lived happily for years. But one day, the Duke learned of their refuge. Hungry for revenge, he sent soldiers, who captured the lovers and put them to death. The Gods, moved by their plight, transformed the lovers into a pair of doves (possibly a later addition to the tale, since the birds do not appear on the earliest willow pattern plates)."
~ From Wikipedia.

I don't know what happened to my blue willow china collection -- I suppose I sold it or gave it away over the years when I married and selected my own china pattern. But like all good collecters, we sometimes miss those sweet memories when they are gone. So I couldn't resist buying a Blue Willow plate at an antique shop in Moss Landing last week. It rests in my dining room hutch now, reminding me of that beautiful love story.

Visit to Moss Landing

Inspired by the VIA magazine article, Ash and I decided to go antiquing in Moss Landing on our way to Santa Cruz last weekend. Moss Landing is very small and very rustic, but the antique shops offer something for everyone. (I used to work for the small building in the very right border of this photo above.)

The main street as you enter into town -- this is the street with the antique shops, the new post office, and a few restaurants. To the left are the power plant towers -- not pretty, but a landmark as you travel along Hwy. 1.

Each shop is unique:
Not to be missed is this antique shop with a wide variety of inventory:

Little surprises await you as you walk through town:

Beyond the picket fence are old abandoned ships and boats:

Of course, there are other pursuits besides antiquing at Moss Landing. It is home to this lovely harbor, where boats simply round the bend to slip into the Pacific Ocean. It is also home to Moss Landing Marine Laboratory, which is teaming with research -- check out their blog at Moss Landing Marine Lab.
It is also adjacent to the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Reserve. We plan to go kayaking there this year.

To really learn about this unique area, check out the Pelicannetwork!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Earthquake in Haiti

Sometimes something happens and you simply must write about it. To ignore it, to figure everyone else is talking about it so I don't need to, to wait for it to blow over, is not giving justice and dignity to those whose lives are impacted by the situation.

So tonight I sat down and absorbed the news coverage of the earthquake in Haiti on TV. With an aching heart I read the website updates from child sponsorship organizations I've been connected to over the years. And I think of the reality of the people in Haiti tonight. It will take a long time for them to recover from the devastation there. My prayers go out to them tonight.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Discovering Our Own Backyards

Seldom does a day go by that a great sense of appreciation for where I live floods over me. I love Monterey Bay. Nature provides an abundance of sea and land life, and the beach nourishes my soul.

We live a stone's throw from a little historic town called Moss Landing. I love to go antiquing there. So I was excited to see this relatively unknown town featured in AAA's ViaMagazine this month.

I also learned a thing or two about this gem in my "backyard." We pass through the Elkhorn Slough regularly, enjoying the bobbing boats in the small harbor, but didn't realize there were over 340 species of animals living in the area! We've seen the harbor seals and sea lions, pelicans and cranes. Quite simply, it's beautiful!

This year we're rediscovering our area's treasures once again.

Friday, January 1, 2010

It's a New Dawn, It's a New Day

As I looked out my back door on the last day of 2009 I was greeted by this beautiful sunrise. I just had to grab my camera and snap a few shots. It was the end of an unsettling decade -- one most are happy to see go. I thought to myself, "Yes, it's time for a new dawn, a new day...."

Nestled in my mail one day in December was the cover of Time Magazine with its bold, blunt headline: The Decade From Hell. I stared at the crying baby in the photo and thought, "They are absolutely right. The last ten years have been a mess." From the horrors of 9/11 through the financial meltdowns, it was not a pleasant ride. On top of society's nightmares, there were far too many dear ones lost in my family over the last few years.

People have been reflective these last few months. There is more thought about how we need to change, what our values should be, more focus on relationships and getting back to basics and less on fast lane living and materialism. Time magazine's subheading was "...and why the next one will be better." Amen to that!

Time for a change. As the Michael Buble song says:

Birds flying high, you know how I feel
Sun in the sky, you know how I feel
Breeze driftin' on by, you know how I feel
It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life for me
And I'm feelin' good
I'm feelin' good

Dragonfly out in the sun, you know what I mean, don't you know
Butterflies all havin' fun, you know what I mean
Sleep in peace when the day is done, that's what I mean
And this old world is a new world
And a bold world for me
For me

Stars when you shine, you know how I feel
Scent of the pine, you know how I feel
Oh freedom is mine and I know how I feel
It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life.

Are you ready for a new dawn, a new day, a new life? My new year's resolutions have been written in my day planner pages, my attitude's been dusted off, and I'm ready to go.