Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween and My Lungs (if anyone is interested)

Happy Halloween, everyone! I hope the candy Princess will visit all the kids on the East Coast who will not have a Halloween this year and bring them lots and lots of goodies as soon as this crisis is over. And I know that next year all of you will have the most special Halloween of all. I'm just sending this message out there, I don't know any kids on the East Coast, but I believe in  good energy being spread around. 

These pictures are from a couple of years ago. I stopped by this place on Monday to take some new ones, but it was so hot outside that I just turned around and went home. I guess these will be my stock Halloween pictures. Anyone my age will have forgotten all about them by next year anyway.

The pictures are from Murray Farms, a place I pass on my way to and from Bakersfield. About a year ago I had a chest X-ray because I am short of breath. My not very communicative doctor up here (I hope to change him soon, but with my current insurance there are none that will see me) told me I had emphysema. Over the phone, that's all, not another word! I decided to let it be and wait a while to see a pulmonary specialist. 

On Monday I finally went and had the breathing tests. The doctor turned out to be very nice, looked like he was from one of the Pacific Island nations, big and round and dressed in a Hawaiian shirt. Best of all, he told me I did not have emphysema. 

While my lungs have lost some capacity, they are nowhere near that kind of diagnosis. He also said you really can't diagnose emphysema from an X-ray. He wants to see me in six months and will love to see him too. So now I have to have my heart checked again, no fun, but at least one hurdle passed. 

The University has Open Enrollment right now, so I will change our health insurance. We have to pay a lot more in premiums every month and for medicines, but it will be worth it because we can go anywhere and see anyone. I hope I can find a good doctor I like up here, but if not, I have some options. 

I guess I strayed away from the Halloween theme, so just one more thing. I said it was hot down in the valley on Monday. It's been hot up here too during the day. A week or so ago, it was 32 F in the morning and 92 F in the afternoon, a 60 degree difference. This week is a bit better, freezing at night and up to the mid-80s in the afternoon. Still horribly warm for the last week of October. With everything that's going on in nature this year, I think there's little doubt that our Earth is not feeling real well. 

Happy Halloween everyone!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Storm, FEMA, and Your Comments on Chapter Four

My thoughts go out to all of you, my friends, my blogger friends, and the people on the East Coast. After seeing the shocking images of the Jersey shore, it's clear that it will take a very long time to restore all the affected areas to any kind of normalcy. I lived in Princeton, N. J. for 12 years. New Jersey was my first home here in the U. S. and I know the Jersey shore well. My heart goes out to all people on the East Coast and all those affected by this horrible storm. 

Which brings me to FEMA. My husband and I received some much needed help from FEMA after the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake and we were very grateful. Granted FEMA's response to Katrina was shamefully and tragically slow, but after hearing the   

president say that FEMA personnel had been positioned in critical areas pre-storm, I'm glad we still have this Federal Agency to assist in disasters of this magnitude. No state has the capacity to deal with a Sandy type storm on its own. I'm also glad President Obama cares about the rising oceans, because it means he cares about us and generations to come.

I had to mention this because it'is beyond me how some believe that individual states can handle everything, except wars, on their own. Or worse, that we should have to pay to be rescued by private companies next time a big storm or earthquake hits. 


Finally, I appreciated your comments on California Missions ~ Chapter Four. There were very few comments to the first three chapters, even though a lot of people visited the posts, so I'm very grateful to those of you who commented.  

As I said at the end of Chapter Four, I will address the treatment of the mission Indians and the Indian revolts and uprisings this coming Sunday. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

California Missions - Chapter Four

Mission Life

According to Wikipedia, the native population of California before the Spanish arrived, may have been as high as 300,000 divided into more 100 different tribes or nations. Their civilized and disciplined culture, developed over 8,000 years, was not considered by the Spanish, who followed a doctrine established in 1531. This doctrine based the Spanish state's rights over land and persons in the New World on a Papal charge to evangelize the native people.

Native Americans, who lived at a mission, had to learn Spanish and vocational skills, in addition to Christian teachings. Once baptized, they were labeled neophytes, or new believers, and were no longer free to leave the mission. They were strictly supervised by the padres who oversaw their labor and ensured they attended daily masses. Indians who decided to leave were considered runaways, and were searched for. In 1806, a total of 20,355 natives were attached to the  missions, the highest number recorded during the California mission period.

Young Indian women had to live in together under the supervision of an older trusted woman, who was responsible for their care and education. The padres felt this was necessary in order to protect the women from the men. Courtship between women and men took place on each side of a barred window, in accordance with Spanish custom. Women were only allowed to leave once they were getting married. Living in these cramped and unsanitary quarters, resulted in the spread of disease and many young women died.  

According to Wikipedia, on December 31, 1832, the mission padres had performed a total of 87,787 baptisms, 24, 528 marriages, and recorded 63,789 deaths. 

The ringing of the mission bells was a very important part of life at the missions. Novices were instructed in the ritual of ringing the bells, which were rung at mealtimes, to call for work, for church services, for baptisms and deaths, to signal the arrival of a ship, and so on. 

Each day began with sunrise Mass and morning prayers, followed by teachings in the Roman Catholic faith. After breakfast, men and women were assigned their daily tasks. Women's tasks consisted of dressmaking, weaving, knitting, embroidering, laundering and cooking. Some of the stronger women, ground flour or carried adobe bricks to the men who were assigned to building tasks. 

Lavanderia built by Chumash  Indians at Mission Santa Barbara around 1806.

A view of forges at Mission San Juan Capistrano, the oldest existing facilities, (circa 1790s) in California. A sign states it was part of Orange County's first industrial complex.

The missionaries introduced European fruits, vegetables, cattle and horses to the Pacific region. And they also taught the Indian men to farm, to build adobe houses, tan leather hides, shear sheep, weave rugs and clothing from wool, make ropes, soap, paint and so on.

As in other parts of America, the colonization of Alta California came at a heavy price for the native population. Next Sunday, I will write about some of the uprisings and revolts that occurred at the missions.

After that I want to write about my own impressions of the missions that I have visited from San Diego to Santa Barbara. Finally, I plan to use Wikipedia and other online sources to talk about the missions of central and northern California.

As I said in the beginning, I have always been interested in the Spanish Missions of California and I am enjoying learning more about them through this project.

A Samson Update ~ Good News!

This is an asides: When my hubby got Samson, I was not happy because I worried that Samson would outlive us. Now I will take it one day at a time. I fully know the moral responsibilities I have to take care of him and I will love doing it. I will love every day I have with him and I will do my best to not feel sorry for him. Dogs don't like that mushy stuff, I know that much. 

But for now, the news is good, very good!

On Thursday, we took Samson to the vet again.  The vet believes that Samson has regained ALL his eyesight!!!  

His prednisone (steroid) dose has been gradually reduced from three pills a day to one, and after another week, he will be on one every other day. The medicine is making him very hungry and thirsty, but I hope that will get better as the dose is reduced. I think he drinks less water now and, hopefully, will have less accidents on my carpet as a result. I feed him twice a day now and that should help too.

Samson is the only dog I've ever lived with who has been ill before the age of 10. This year, at the age of three, he has had three different serious illnesses and this last one is chronic.

He still gets eye drops twice a day. You should see him, now that he knows he'll get a treat (I guess hungry as he is, he will do anything for a treat) he comes when called and sits patiently while my hubby puts the drops in. He licked the vet's face again while the vet examined his eyes. 

We have now taken him to the vet four times and he is so good. He's not afraid of going there, he sits patiently and waits, he doesn't bother other dogs, and lets people pet him.  He only thing he protests about is having his temperature taken. He is also wonderful in the Wrangler. 

Samson must be kept out of the sun for the rest of his life, so I asked about sunglasses and the vet said that would be a good idea if he will tolerate them. They have them online he said, so now I have to google goggles! One thing I know for sure: Samson would look darned cute in a pair of shades, so look out Gracie, Puddles, and Sophie!

I remember seeing a Samoyed wearing goggles and looking cool online, so I googled the breed and looked at their pictures.  

I didn't find the one I saw earlier, but I found this one and noted that the dog has lost pigment on his/her nose, a symptom of Samson's disease. 

While looking for the goggle picture, I went bananas because there were so many adorable Samoyed dogs to look at, particularly the puppies. All puppies are cute, of course, but I just had to share this one:

Source: Wikipedia

Friday, October 26, 2012

Foto Friday ~ Sky and Earth

When I deleted unwanted pictures recently, I found some that I thought were OK to share, so here they are: 

The weeds are from last month and I liked their colors as they lined up along the road. Now they are brown and ugly and ready to begin tumbling across roads and fields in order to spread their seeds. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Threads of Light & A Personal Note on Breast Cancer

My book ~ The cover displays the embroidery version of a photo by Mr. Ketchum

Nature photographs by Robert Glenn Ketchum hang on the walls of the main building of the UCLA Medical Center. I spent the summer of 1999 walking the corridors there on my way to radiation therapy and appointments with various doctors. I had breast cancer. Fortunately chemo was not required, but seven weeks of radiation were not exactly easy on my body and soul. Five days a week for seven weeks, I passed by Mr. Ketchum's nature photographs. I looked at them and they calmed me. 

The embroidery version of a photo.

At the same time, in the Fowler Museum of Cultural History on campus, there was an exhibit of Mr. Ketchum's photographs, but with a twist. The exhibit was called Threads of LightChinese Embroidery from Suzhou and the Photography of Robert Glenn Ketchum. I went to see it, not knowing what to expect. And I had a visual and emotional experience far beyond anything I could have imagined. The examples below are just to give you an idea, the exquisite originals cannot be captured.

 The actual photo.

The embroidery version of the photo.

In China, at the Suzhou Embroidery Research Institute, embroiderers, who work in the institute's Random Stitch Embroidery Research Studio, used their skills to capture the essence and beauty of Mr. Ketchum's photographs, translating them into intricate embroidery pieces. Imagine the above photograph of a forest of deep green and flaming red autumn colors transferred, stitch by stitch, to an embroidered canvas. I am really speechless here, it was that amazing. 

Panels embroidered from a photo by Mr. Ketchum.  Can you imagine embroidering something like this, stitch by stitch? Not only the artistic skill, but the patience......

Amazing is an overused word; it should be reserved to express something astonishing, surprising, something that gives you a sense of wonder. It definitely is the correct word  to describe the wonder I felt as I looked at this exhibit. Amazing!

A work in progress. The photo that is being embroidered is at the top.

My book shows many incredible photos of work in progress at the institute, as well as the finished products. 

It feels good to know that a place like the Suzhou Embroidery Research Institute exists in this day and age to keep ancient traditions and skills alive. 


Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I want to encourage those of you who need an annual mammogram to just go do it. Have it done, don't forget, don't plan to do it later, just do it once a year on a regular schedule. OK!

I didn't feel a lump or anything unusual when I had my mammogram back in 1999. But something was wrong and the mammogram picked it up. The cancer was stage 1 or 1.5. Because it was caught so early, I didn't need chemo, which was huge. Seven weeks of radiation therapy was not easy, nor were the five years that followed on the drug Tamoxifen. 

But in the end, it was no more than a pebble on the road of my life.

I'm still here, after all. Who knows where I would be if I had skipped that one mammogram, thinking I would just wait another year................

Sunday, October 21, 2012

California Missions ~ Chapter Three

The 21 California Missions

Between 1769 and 1823, the government of Spain, with the assistance of the Church, established a network of missions along what became known as El Camino Real. Mission San Diego de Alcala was the first of the 21 California missions founded by Spanish Catholics of the Franciscan Order.  

The 21 California Missions and the Pala sub-mission. From a bookmark of mine.

Purpose of the Missions

The goal of the Spanish was to convert the indigenous peoples of Alta California to Christianity. This had worked reasonably well in their interactions with the native populations in Mexico and Central America. The Spanish realized that their numbers were not enough to successfully occupy and settle the vast land that was Alta California, so they planned to teach the native population Spanish and vocational skills, in order to make them into tax paying citizens. Several missions also served as military outposts that were instrumental in the colonization of the Pacific Coast region. 

The first baptisms in Alta California took place after two Fathers en route to Monterey, came across a native settlement where two young girls were dying.  They baptized a baby girl, Maria Magdalena, and the older child, Margarita.  The soldier on the expedition named the place
 Los Cristianos.

Building and Maintaining the Missions

Many procedures had to be followed before the founding of a mission was approved. Paperwork that involved months, even years, moved slowly through the Spanish bureaucracy. Once a mission was approved for a certain area, a specific site was chosen. A good water supply was of primary importance, as were wood for fires and building materials , and fields for grazing herds and raising crops. Once a site was chosen, it was blessed by the padres, who then, with the help of their military escorts, began to build temporary shelters that would eventually give way to stone and adobe buildings.

Exterior corridor at Mission San Fernando Rey de Espana.

Since it would have been impossible to import the quantity of building materials necessary to build a large mission complex, the fathers had no choice but to use locally available materials. Considering that there was also a lack of skilled laborers, both building methods and materials used had to be simple. The fathers primarily used five basic materials to construct the missions: adobe, timber, stone, brick, and tile. The adobes (mud bricks) were made from soil and water with chaff, straw, or manure added to bind the mixture together.

The three-bell campanario ("bell wall") at Mission San Juan Bautista. Two of the bells were salvaged from the original chime, which was destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Quoting from Wikipedia: "The first priority when beginning a settlement was the location and construction of the church (iglesia). The majority of mission sanctuaries were oriented on a roughly east-west axis to take the best advantage of the sun's position for interior illumination.  Once the spot for the church had been selected, its position was marked and the remainder of the mission complex was laid out. The workshops, kitchens, living quarters, storerooms, and other ancillary chambers were usually grouped in the form a quadrangle, inside which religious celebrations and other festive events often took place."

As I mentioned in Chapter one, the missions were built approximately 30 miles apart along the California Mission Trail, a 600-mile route, which is usually referred to as El Camino Real (Spanish for the Royal Road, also known as The King's Highway). At the time the missions were built, the 30-mile distance represented a long one-day ride on horseback or a three-day hike on foot.

Franciscans of the California missions wore gray robes, not brown as is common today.

It was intended that each mission be turned over to a secular clergy* and that all mission lands be distributed among the native population within ten years after a mission was founded. This policy had worked fairly well for the Spanish in Mexico, Central America, and Peru where the native populations were more advanced than those in Alta California. As time went on, it became evident to Father Serra and other mission administrators that it would take much longer for the California missions to become self-sufficient. The missions never attained complete self-sufficiency and would continue to require financial support, albeit modest, from Spain.

The end of the mission period in California will be covered in a later chapter.

* In the Catholic Church, the secular clergy are ministers, such as deacons and priests, who do not belong to a religious institute. While regular clergy take religious vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience and follow the rule of life of the institute to which they belong, secular clergy do not take vows, and they live in the world (saeculum). 

Click on this link to read about the building of the missions in more detail:

Source: Information and all images, except the first, from Wikipedia. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Leaves for Leontien

Leontien is battling an aggressive form of melanoma and I just wanted to let her and her husband know that I care and think of them often. 

Dear Leontien: Not many leaves are to be found here in our desert canyon; these are from our little town where trees grow tall. I'm sending hugs across this wide land and hope you get some comfort from all the leaves sent by your blogger friends. ~~ Inger

Click here for the latest update from Leontien. 

If you like to participate and send leaves to Leontien, please see Nancy at A Rural Journal:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Foto Friday

October Sunset with Flash on a Juniper Branch
(This picture was a surprise to me as the juniper branch was totally accidental.)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Feeling Guilty.......

 I clicked on black and white for the above picture, just for fun. I like the way the light comes through the juniper branches. It gave me some ideas for new ways to take pictures. Something creative to work on. 

I'm feeling guilty because I haven't been visiting anyone or even opened my computer for the last few days. I was ill and on antibiotics while all this was going on with Samson and my hubby. Once I finished the medicine and was told Samson is so much better, I guess it caught up with me. 

So I took Dee Ready's advice and decided to be gracious to myself (I love that thought ~ be gracious to yourself). With that in mind, I stayed in bed for two days, reading this book called The Pursuit of Happiness by Douglas Kennedy. I picked it up at the library on Saturday, it has around 500 pages, and I finished it yesterday. Mr. Kennedy is fast becoming my favorite author for the times in my life when I just want to escape into someone else's life. Someone else's life that has some interesting twists and turn to it. This is the third book I've read by him and it did not disappoint.

I don't have time to read blogs today either because I'm off to the diabetes support group meeting. Today, a cardiologist will visit us and, hopefully, there will be no horror pictures like those we saw last month, courtesy the visiting podiatrist. 

Samson is continuing to do well and thanks all of you for your prayers and positive thoughts. He is particularly happy that, in addition to his beloved Gracie, he now has two other best doggie friends, Puddles and Sophie. He is strutting his stuff at just the thought of it.

Have a great day ~ see you soon.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Samson Can SEE!!!

Thank you for your prayers, good thoughts, and most of all for caring about Samson. 

The above picture is from last Wednesday. I haven't wanted to put a flash into his eyes, so I don't have anything more current. 

Yesterday, we went back to the vet.....hopeful. While we waited on the bench-seats in the waiting room, Samson sneaks behind my back, walks up to an elderly gentleman who sits by himself in the corner, and gives the man a big lick on his cheek. Fortunately, the man didn't mind. I think he was very worried about his own dog, who was in there for several procedures. 

Then we go in the room and Samson is wonderful. They have a bench in there too, which he jumped up on. The vet came in, popped Samson in each eye for glaucoma, then shone various lights into his eyes, while bending his head close to Samson's. While this is going on, Samson sticks out his big tongue and give the vet a huge lick all over his face and mouth. 

The verdict, was the best news ever! The vet said Samson has made a remarkable recovery. He said he was terribly worried on the previous Monday. Now, just a week later, he could see Samson's retina, he could see that everything looked fairly normal inside his eyes. Being who I am, I had not dared to hope for this. But there it is, Samson can see! His eyes are a lighter color now and when I asked about it, the vet said it's purely cosmetic. His normal dark brown color may return, but if it doesn't it's OK.

He reduced the eyedrops to twice a day and said we were to use up the other medicines as originally prescribed. He also said -- though it is very rare, some dogs have recovered completely from this syndrome. We will see him again on the 25th. I forgot to ask about the goggles or sunglasses, so I will do that next time. 


While I was waiting to pay, my hubby, as usual, struck up a conversation with a guy waiting outside with one little dog that looked like a corgi and something else. When I was done, I asked him, and he said it was a Swedish Vallhund. I told him I was Swedish. Right then the man's wife came out with another dog of the same breed, but much smaller. 

This little dog laid eyes on Samson and attacked him. They told me this was the female of the pair and she was ferocious! A snarling, teeth-baring, fury of a little dog. Had she not been on a leash, she would have attacked. Samson, sweet as he is, would not had stood for it. But yesterday, Samson hid behind my husband and looked like he wondered what this was all about. -- Why do you have to attack a handsome dog like myself, calm down, will you? --  I looked Samson and said, "that's Swedish bitch for you!" Both Samson and my husband looked taken aback, so I reminded them that bitch is, indeed, the correct word for a female dog. The couple were laughing, but I have no idea what they were thinking, nor did I care, I was just so very happy. 

After all of this emotional stuff, I'm completely exhausted and will stay in bed, more or less, today. 

Thank you again for caring about Samson.


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