Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Happy Holidays to One and to All

My grandfather made this Santa more than 100 years ago.

My grandmother made this table runner, a friend gave me the pewter candle holders, and my dad won the vase, playing bridge.

This is the time of year to look back and remember those who have played a part in our lives, for me: My family and friends in Sweden, my friends and family here in the 
U. S., and those who have passed on. 

This year, my beloved Angel died in May. The one dog who loved me above all. And mommy will always love you too.

Also in May, our sweet Pippi Birdie died. You cheered us all up with your constant twitter and song and we miss you so very much.

But life goes on and yesterday, as I went to town to do some Christmas shopping, the gumbo pots came out, my New Orleans born husband sharpened his knives and the chopping began. He was still at it into the evening hours. Two large pots of gumbo now rest in the refrigerator, some of it will be given away and some of it we will eat for Christmas. But wait, there's also a duck sitting in the freezer. Oh well, I guess if you're from New Orleans, the pleasure of eating and cooking knows no bounds.

With a fire in the fireplace (10 F here right now) and carols with Nat King Cole, Martina McBride, and others on the stereo, the Christmas spirit is slowly coming forward. 

All of the above would go in my tree, were I to have a tree. In  the Sweden of my childhood, the tree went up the day before Christmas Eve, so I still have some time to decide.

My straw goat, representing the goats that traveled with Santa (Jultomten) would stand underneath the tree. With Samson around, he probably will stand somewhere high up instead. Interestingly, in the land of the reindeer, Santa travels with goats. 


A cheerful Santa, a gift from a friend of my mom's.

In another day or so, my table will look like this again.

My parents wrapping presents, circa 1939.

Rachael and I celebrating Christmas here last year.

I bought Soldier a bed yesterday. He has rejected beds in the past and sleeps on a carpet remnant with his blankie, but he's getting so old now and I thought I would try one last time with a real soft bed. And, success! He slept on it last night and it must have felt good for his aching hips and back.

Recently, Gracie posted about all her toys and Samson has complained ever since. So I looked for some new toys for him, but didn't find any. I know I have a few more my friend Carol gave the dogs packed away, so I'll give him those. Rachael gave him tennis balls and Judy sent him and Soldier some very huge bones. So he better stop complaining, but with Samson you never know.

I end this with the little Tomte that protects our home here in the canyon. In olden days in Sweden, people believed that a small tomte lived in the barn, or somewhere close by, and kept watch over the farm. I love that thought and since I happen to have the likeness of one, he stays out year-round to keep an eye on things around here.

I will take a bloggy vacation over the holidays and come back with a new computer and, hopefully, all my new stuff figured out, after New Year's.

I completely forgot to post part 2 or my Wyoming Cowboy Adventures, so I'll post the whole story next year. And I'll continue with the California Missions then as well. 

Again, I want to wish all of you the best for this Holiday Season and for the New Year. I appreciate your friendship and that you come around to visit my blog. Samson says he does too and just wait, he will have lots more to say come next year. He's still feeling good without the medicine.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Short Update Gets Longer

The other day, the UPS truck came bearing gifts. It had to stop at our closed gate, so I walked down the field and met the UPS guy half-way. He gave me a very heavy and very cold package. "Why is it so cold," I asked. "It says it's fish and needs to be frozen, it's from Judy," said the man. "We got some fish from Judy," I called out to my husband, who immediately lit up in a big grin, probably thinking this was a salmon from Alaska. "I rather it were books," said I, knowing that Judy was going to send me some after she cleaned out her bookcases. 

We both got a good laugh as we opened the package. Judy had used an old box, on which clear instruction were printed all over: Keep Frozen! But it was full of books, Christmas presents, and the above Kindle, in the beautiful cover pictured in the top photo. So elegant! Thank you Judy, you are way too generous. This is her old Kindle, which will work great for me. In addition to this, I got a free Nook when I ordered my new computer on Cyber Monday. It will come any day now. So I'm going from none to two, just like that! Wow, I'm excited! And I'm so glad I didn't buy one ~ the Nook alone is worth $99.00, so thank you HP!

A cloud picture from our walk this morning. We've been promised snow for a week now, but so far just a little rain. 

Friday, we drove down to see the urologist in Bakersfield. The doctor was an older guy, very nice, very thorough in asking questions. He ordered a CT scan and said he will not do anything until he gets the results. I liked him and felt very relieved. It's so immensely important to have doctors you can relate to. 

 It has been cold here for the past week and the snow that fell in the mountains remains in this canyon, which is where the fire closest to us burned so badly last summer. I can now see the burnt out trees, contrasting against the snow, looking like sticks from a distance. 

After the doctor, we went to Costco, where my husband lingered at the meat counter forever. I don't find meat counters fascinating, so I strolled over and looked at the cheeses and found a nice big chunk of Jarlsberg. 

Then we drove up the mountain in the dark. It's a very steep drive, you get from the valley floor to 4,000 feet in no time. Hwy 58 is a major truck artery and wall to wall trucks, lit up like Christmas trees in the dark, took up the slow lane as we drove home. The really slow trucks are so slow, they almost stand still, and must flash their rear warning lights to avoid being run into from behind. 

There's pogonip, or ice fog, in the distant mountains in the center of the picture. You can perhaps see that strange light green color of the ice crystals that form on the trees. It's hard to capture with my camera, but I remain fascinated by the phenomenon. 

When we came home, the sky was lit up by a thousand stars. It was one of those cold winter nights and we were glad to be home. 

Let me add: I just read your comments from yesterday and I'm deeply touched. I'm glad that the ancient prayer helped you as it always helps me. Thank you for letting me know you were comforted by it.

Header photo taken by my husband. ~ From Archives 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday Morning Reflections ~ A Prayer

On this, the third Sunday in Advent, I want to share an old Hebrew prayer, Numbers 6:24-26, as my thoughts and condolences go to the people of Newtown, who have lost so much. 

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee
The Lord make his face shine upon thee,
 and be gracious unto thee
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, 
and give thee peace


The California Missions series will continue in January

Header photo taken by my husband. ~ From Archives

Friday, December 14, 2012

Foto Friday

A few small Swedish things that go on the Christmas tree. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Wyoming Cowboy Adventures ~ Part One

The night before, my roommate and I danced with two cowboys at the Silver Dollar bar. Later we all went to the diner for coffee and there the guys explained a cowboy's attachment to his hat, while I listened and learned about a culture so foreign to me. When they dropped us off at our trailer, they asked if we wanted to go elk hunting with them the next day. I said OK, but my girlfriend declined. I thought they probably won't show.

But they did, two Wyoming cowboys in a pickup truck. I jumped in and we drove off to pick up the horses. It was 1969 and I had lived in Jackson Hole for a few months. While I had spent time with other locals, artists, writers, as well as some guys with long hair from San Francisco, I had never bothered to get to know a Wyoming working cowboy. I probably thought them too different from me, coming from Sweden, living in Princeton, in the midst of that mix of East Coast establishment types and university intellectuals. 

But there I was, in an old pickup truck, and I knew this was an opportunity for me to learn about cowboy life, for real, not the movie version. So I listened as they talked about the war and the time they served in Nam. I learned a little about who they were, what they believed in, what was important to them, and how their daily lives went. All of it very different from anything I had known before, but in the end I liked them both. 

Somewhere along the way, we picked up the horses. I had been riding horses all my life, English saddle mostly, but I also knew how to ride a horse with western tack. Little did I know that this would be a completely different horseback ride from any I had ever experienced before. 

It was a beautiful, crisp fall morning in Wyoming when we set out and headed for the mountains. Sounds of the rutting season were all around us, from elk, moose and other critters of the forest. My cowboy friends worked as guides for the hunters that came every fall, so they knew where to find their elk. Actually, in addition to the large National Elk Preserve, there were elk to be found everywhere around Jackson Hole from what I could see. 

The mountain got steeper as we climbed. The path became narrower and narrower and soon ended at a deep ravine. The guy ahead of me turned his horse onto a ledge, not much wider than the horse, the deep chasm to the left and a solid mountain wall to the right. I thought, you gotta be kidding me! I guess I forgot to tell you guys I'm terrified of heights. 

To be continued next week.......

Source: Wikipedia & Bing Photos

Sunday, December 9, 2012

California Missions ~ Chapter Eight: Mission San Luis Rey de Francia

When I worked and lived in Los Angeles, I sometimes took off by myself on a mini-vacation. I would find a hotel along the coast and walk, read, go to the movies, shop, or just relax for a few days. I found this to be both invigorating and good for the soul. In 2004, I decided take some time and visit the two missions located between San Diego and Los Angeles, Mission San Luis Rey and Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Mission San Luis Rey, located in Oceanside, is the one you reach first when traveling from south to north. By 2004 I had a digital camera, so the pictures are mine. Looking at them, I see how I could have done a better job of capturing the special features of the mission. This is interesting because the pictures from San Juan Capistrano that I visited on the same trip are among my best. I wonder if it depends on your mood on a particular day.

Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, named after King Louis IX of France (1215-1270), was founded on June 13, 1798 and is the eighteenth of the Spanish missions built in California. According to Wikipedia, the current church was built in 1811 and is the third church built on this location. Today, it is a parish church in the Diocese of San Diego, as well as a National Historic Landmark and museum. At its prime, this mission covered over 950,000 acres and was one of the largest in the mission system. 

Mission San Luis Rey is impressive with its stark white buildings and large church built in the Moorish style mixed with Spanish Renaissance. Because of its large size the mission has been nicknamed "King of the Missions." 

I sat on an old stone bench here and took this picture. I found some small, enclosed gardens like this one within this this large and massive mission. 

Looking at this photo of the courtyard at mission San Luis Rey, I wish I had captured the entire text of that plaque. What is interesting here is that in the background, to the right, is the oldest Peruvian pepper tree planted in California. It was planted in 1830. I can't tell which tree it is, but there you have it. 

Next Sunday we will visit the beautiful Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

An Update From The Canyon

Yesterday, the clouds came in low and wrapped themselves around the mountains like cotton candy. I had to grab the camera and take some pictures. 

This morning, I took the dogs for their walks for the first time since I started the antibiotics about 10 days ago. It was a frosty 19 F degrees out and Samson said that's about the right temperature for him to be comfortable, poor thing.  Soldier was once again reminded of the obstacle to his road tripping that daddy erected. 

And I was faced with the fact that my husband also plugged up all the holes in the fence, so now I have to either unlock the gate or walk up the mountain. Today, I wanted a short walk, so I took them up around the barn, where I heard coyotes yapping and a pack of dogs barking not too far away. I don't worry about coyotes, but semi-feral dog packs can be very dangerous, at least I think so. I didn't run into any critters, except ravens that kept watch from above. 

There were lots of dry leaves still left on the tree in our front yard, but I fell for the charm of this lonely one, hanging on.

We accomplished a lot yesterday, including washing several loads of laundry. These were not quite dry last night, so left on the line over night they were quite frozen by this morning.

My husband got this wood storage thingy from a client several years ago. While it would have fit fine in our Los Angeles house, we never used it. And I couldn't figure out what one was supposed to do with it anyway. But yesterday my husband cut up a lot of leftover construction wood and filled it up. This house is way too small for it to fit indoors, but it will work just fine here. I think it is a pretty nifty idea for wood storage.

While my husband was cutting up wood, I took some pictures. This was supposed to be of a scrub jay that landed on the little shed. You can't see him, but I still liked the picture......

This little bench was such a good companion and seating place for me when I lived alone up here and was still strong enough to work outdoors all the time. I came upon it by the woodpile and remembered this was one of my places to sit quietly while watching the sun rise over mountain ranges. My mornings are rushed now that I have to walk Samson before sunrise, so I forgot all about it. I should fix my little bench and give it a paint job. Maybe in spring........

Samson got so tired from watching us all work hard yesterday, he thought he'd climb up in this chair and take a nap. No luck with that, big as he has gotten, he soon returned to the floor to continue napping more comfortably. He's gained five pounds since I started to feed him twice a day and he was a perfect 66 lbs before that. His raging hunger is gone now that he's been off the steroids for several weeks. He's still doing fine. He will see the vet again before Christmas and I will see a urologist on Friday. So another trip to Bakersfield for me. 

My new computer and printer have both arrived and I really should do some prep work to get my data transferred. Instead of sitting her writing about nothing much..... 

To buy Gracie's Diary, please click on this picture in my sidebar. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gracie's Diary ~ A Book Review

Gracie's Diary
by Bobbi Phillip

This memoir is about a couple, Bobbi and Gary, both divorced, who after finding each other online marry and settle down in their first home with Gracie, a small white Cockapoo, who has a naughty streak and strong opinions. I'm sure they imagined they would share a normal, ordinary life, watching their children grow up.

But a vengeful ex-wife moves to destroy a daughter's love for her father and the father as well. A part of this memoir is about parental alienation. It is heart wrenching to read about the methods used by this evil queen of an ex-wife to not only ruin a father/daughter relationship, but in the process destroy a young girl's life, her own daughter's life, using hypnosis, drugs, and a quack of a psychologist. Gary's love for his estranged daughter is so strong that he keeps fighting for her to the detriment of his own health. Bobbi reveals shocking truths about the court system, greedy psychologists and attorneys without conscience. We are all naive when we step into court for the first time, believing no one will lie, truth will prevail and justice will be served. So wrong! I can only imagine what Gary and Bobbi went through. 

But this is not a sad book, although parts of it will make you cry. Little Gracie keeps things moving as she notes her take on family life in her diary. There are wonderful stories of her as a young dog, not understanding that go potty means she's supposed to do her business outside, not on the white living room carpet. She writes about her first boyfriend, Poncho, and about her walks with Bobbi down country roads. Gracie didn't like their move to the city and she makes this known in no uncertain terms, but eventually she settles down. 

Ultimately, this is a story about Bobbi's strong faith, the love she and her husband share, and a father's enduring love for his child. In the end it is also about letting go. Eventually, grandchildren come along and life moves on for this wonderful couple, all along watched over and commented on by a small, white dog, named Gracie. 


Samson Says: Yes, you got it, this is about my girlfriend, Gracie, who helped her mom, Bobbi, write a very excellent  book. Mommy has read some of it to me and I must say, I'm astonished to find out what a bad girl my Gracie used to be. But now she's a good girl and as her mom says: At the end of the day only the good stuff matters.

This is a wonderful book ~ the first book Bobbi ever wrote, which makes it even more special. Both mommy and me, we recommend it very much.  

It will make an excellent Christmas gift! Just click on Gracie's picture in the sidebar and then you can buy it. It's easy. Merry Christmas, your Samson.

Bobbi and Gracie's blog: Gracie Owns Me


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