Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Z is for Zenith

Theme ~ Good Things:

Zenith, the meaning used here: Reaching a summit or a culmination of something, in this case the A to Z Challenge. It has been a wonderful journey for me. I was hesitant to do it again, and when I decided to go ahead, I set up challenges for myself: Keep my posts short and only write them a few days ahead. When I got the email from the A to Z organizers, suggesting we keep our posts to no more than 100 words, I knew I would try. Note that this is totally against my nature, so a double challenge for me.

I wasn't always successful, but that was OK too. Sometimes you just have to make your point with a few more words. That I got some diabetes problems in the middle of the challenge, which forced me to use photos with very, very few words, was perhaps not an entirely bad thing. I am still adjusting to my new diabetic status, but I will be OK. Just can't sit here too long in front of my desk top. 

I was so happy to meet a few new bloggers that I feel I can relate to and care about. Bloggers who left comments on almost every post. Bloggers who have beautiful and meaningful blogs. Bloggers from different walks of life, different countries, and whose circumstances are very different also. 

Several bloggers signed on to follow Desert Canyon Living, thank  you so much.   

Then I want to thank my blogger friends, some of you read and commented on every single post of this A to Z Challenge. Don't think I haven't noticed, I have! I am sending huge virtual HUGS out to every one of you: Thank you so much! That you cared means a lot to me.

And, finally, many thanks to Arlee Bird of Tossing It Out, who had the idea for the A to Z Challenge five years ago. And thank you also to the organizers and helpers who worked so hard to make this a success. And a huge success it has become with over 2,000 participants in this the fifth year of the Challenge. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for Yonder

Theme ~ Good Things:

I own a wonderful book called On My Swedish Island, Discovering The Secrets Of Scandinavian Well-Being, by Julie Catterson Lindahl.

The author is American and British; when she wrote the book she lived with her Swedish husband and twins on a Swedish island outside Stockholm. 

I read the book right before I moved to the mountains and I was delighted to discover how much we get right in terms of lifestyle, health, food, design, and so on in Scandinavia. 

Reading the book, I discovered a concept new to me: The long view. I had never heard that having a long view is really good for human beings. But Ms. Lindahl says that she actually discovered this from living in Sweden; that Swedes are obsessed with it and work very hard to achieve it. The author writes that since living on this island, she has come to understand that having a long view into nature is to live well.


Thinking back to our home in a Stockholm suburb, I remember my bedroom window had a view right into our neighbors huge cherry tree; beautiful in cherry blossom time, successfully tempting me with thievery in cherry time, but not much to look at for the rest of the year. But our kitchen window had a long view, and I loved to sit at our kitchen table and look up the road to the hill in the background. Two very tall trees on the hill would sway in the wind and their crowns would touch. I loved that view, a good long view into nature. 

I'm thinking right now, that maybe it was not only the Baltic herring that prompted our dad to take us out on the Baltic Sea in a small boat every summer. Maybe he, good Swede that he was, also longed for that long view of the open water.

Here in the mountains, where we live now, all views into nature are long. I have posted some above and have shared so many more on this blog. And I can't help but remember how these views seem to make my blogger friends happy. I certainly feel a sense of well-being every time I look out our windows. 

Of course I realize that not everyone is able to get a property with a long view. While this may be a huge priority for Swedes, I doubt it is one here. Our Los Angeles house is a good example, sitting as it does right by the sidewalk. I always thought of it as a townhouse. To protect us from the sights and sounds of the street, we let the bougainvillea hedge grow out of control. It became home to many generations of mockingbirds; it drew many ohs and ahs from bypassers; and the hedge even served as backdrop for photo shoots. This was Los Angeles, after all.

I almost forgot, my Y word, YONDER. Isn't it a marvelous old fashioned word? Yonder: In the distance, afar, far away. So, to sum this way too long post up: The view yonder is a very good thing, indeed.


Thank you so much for your complimentary comments on my X post. I wasn't sure if I cheated or not, coming up with just a picture. Glad you liked it. 

And Wordpress bloggers, I still can't leave comments on Wordpress blogs. Will check into it after the A to Z is over later this week. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

X is for X-Crossing, X-Beam Support and More

Theme ~ Good Things:

I originally took this picture because I liked the red highlights, but I never posted it. I found it in my drafts and realized it demonstrated many different uses of the letter X. So I thought, perfect, I will save it for the A to Z and have a difficult letter covered. Can you see them all? 

If not, here they are:

The phone or power lines cross; the tower at the cement plant uses X-shaped bars for support; there's another X further down to the left of the tower; finally, of course, there's the X to mark the railroad crossing. 

But I still like it best for the reflection of the sunset in the background sky and all the red lights that glow in the twilight of an early evening.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

W is for Wrinkles, Helen Hayes, and Willie Nelson

Theme ~ Good Things:

Helen Hayes, the Grand Dame of American Theater, and one of only 12 who have won an Emmy, Tony, Oscar and Grammy award, lived to be 93 years old and never heard of Botox. I look at her face now and I think she is one of the most beautiful women ever.  

I think it must have been in the 1980s, when I was in my 40s and she in her 80s, that I saw her on TV in a lovely film. I don't remember the name, but I remember how amazed I was that someone with that many wrinkles could look so absolutely beautiful. And from that moment on, I stopped worrying about my own wrinkles. 

My point is that we need to stop being so afraid of ageing. Old age is beautiful ~ I have always felt that way. I'm so disappointed in all these actresses and celebrities who are ruining their looks with facelifts and Botox, who all begin to look alike, who no longer are able to express emotions in their films. Some do it when they are really young; I can only imagine their insecurities. And some do so much one can no longer recognize them (an example: Liza Minnelli at the Oscars this year, I had no idea who she was). To me, this is sad and tells more about our values and our insecurities than we perhaps want to know.

I never paid much attention to Willie Nelson until I worked at the donkey rescue, where the owner loved Willie and often played his songs. As I listened, I began to fall for this guy's music. I bought his 16 Biggest Hits CD and it became my road trip album. I play it all the time and sing along, although I can't sing, 

to City of New Orleans and On the Road Again. My favorite Willie Nelson songs are: Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground and Always on My Mind, both are on this CD. 

I know Willie smokes a lot of weed and has problems with the IRS, but you gotta love his music and the way he keeps going at his age. Wrinkles and all.

Note: Debra, Ladyfi and others, for the past three days I have been unable to leave comments on Wordpress blogs. I have no idea why this is and will try to resolve it next week after the A to Z Challenge is over. 

If anyone has any idea of what is going on, please let me know.

Friday, April 25, 2014

V is for Vegetable Garden

Theme ~ Good Things:

We had a small vegetable garden a few years ago, then last year we decided to try to do it right. In the above picture, my husband had to install the irrigation first so he could water for several days to soften the hard packed dirt. We improvised with this tool to turn the dirt over. I drove the truck, while hubby hung on to the tool. It was both fun and scary as I had to drive and listen to him tell me to stop, and hopefully not have the tool run into the pipes. You get the picture, wife driving, husband yelling.....

We started late, around July 1, I believe, but hubby was not to be deterred and put most of the seeds he bought into the ground. I knew it was too late for some, but let it be. A while later, the short fence was bent and there were huge bear tracks and small bear tracks all over one end of the garden. Not much damage done anywhere else.

Hubby decided a bigger fence was needed and one fun day we  drove all over the land and picked up posts and fencing material left behind by previous owners. Oh, there's so much stuff left behind here and we were so happy some of it could be of use. I think we saved an estimated $300.00 that day.

He, who does not know how to pace himself, put the new fence up in one day. And after that, and after we killed a couple of gophers, only birds and bees entered our garden. And it began to grow. 

Water flowed...

 The garden grew....

and grew...

and before we knew it, we had an abundance of veggies.

We picked, we chopped, we cooked, we juiced, we ate, and we froze. I dried a lot of herbs. 

We worked hard, but it was all so worth it. We still have greens in the freezer, and carrots and onions are still growing in the garden, together with a new crop of parsley, mint, and rosemary. A very Good Thing....

Thursday, April 24, 2014

U is for Understanding Ubiquitous

Theme ~ Good Things:

As late as Sunday, I had no idea what my subject for the letter U would be. 

Then a distinguished looking weekend weatherman on our local Bakersfield TV station said something about the weather being ubiquitous across the San Joaquin Valley. This made me sit up and pay attention because ubiquitous is a word I never fully understood. I meant to look it up, but never did. 

Then I thought, it begins with U, so why not write a a post about this word, maybe I will remember what it means next time I come across it. 

Having no idea where this would take me, I cleared my little side table of stuff so I could open my huge Webster's Third New International Dictionary, published in 1981 and not very up-to-date. But going that route made my learning process much more interesting.

This is what it said:

ubiquitous: existing or being everywhere at the same time; occurring or capable of being everywhere; omnipresent.

Then what stood above it, caught my eye:

ubiquitism: the doctrine that Christ's body is omnipresent.


ubiquitarian: one of a school of Lutheran clergymen holding that as Christ is omnipresent, his body is everywhere. 

Then, modern woman that I am, I went to Google Images and found all this, and the modern meaning of the word became clear to me:

On the screen was a plethora of stuff, mostly related to computing, social media, and networking: 

So ubiquitous is the word for what's happening now. And I had no idea. Now that I know, I'm glad to have lived most of my life without all this ubiquitous, networking, connectivity, social media, all over the place stuff. As Greta Garbo, my fellow country woman, so famously said: "I want to be alone." Amen to that. 

The good thing is though that I now have one more word of the English language to add to my vocabulary.

Thank you for your patience with this post and I hope I didn't bore you too much with all this.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

T is for Tolerance

Theme ~ Good Things: 

For me tolerance is so much more than just a good thing, tolerance is vital to human survival and I believe also to our happiness and our peace. 

A few years ago, I stood outside and watched the sun rise over the eastern mountains and thought of young boy from here in Tehachapi, who would never see another sunrise. He was gay; he had just been found, hanging from a tree, in his garden. He had been bullied at school. He couldn't take it any more. He had no idea that things would get better as he got older. That this was a phase, albeit a terrible one, but things would change. He was very young, he didn't know this, and he didn't have a chance.

I went back in and wrote a blog post about bullying and about this child. I wanted to honor him somehow. It may have been my best post, but I can't find it right now. 

I have stood up for my beliefs, spoken out, risked jobs, been knocked down by a policeman on horseback, and been in danger. I have been told by Americans to go back to where I came from, as I have spoken out against intolerance, primarily racism, during my years in this great country. A country, which would be so much greater if we Americans were more tolerant of our differences. If we appreciated our diversity instead of feared it. And we only have to look around the world to see we are not the only ones who cannot get along. 

All the great religions call for peace. So what is it that prevents us from just letting go of our prejudices and our fears? Where does it come from, this intolerance? Why does it have to be taught from generation to generation? Will this be a permanent human condition?

Rodney King* was not a great American, but he provided us with one of the greatest questions ever as the 1992 Los Angeles riots raged across the city.

So why can't we? All get along.....

*In the early 1990s, Rodney King, a black man, was badly beaten by police in a Los Angeles suburb. Rodney was no saint, but there was no excuse for the horrific beating by police, which was captured on video. People were outraged when the video was released and when the police officers were later acquitted, the city erupted in violence. And this time, the riots extended way beyond the south side of the city, reaching as far as Hollywood to the north. La Brea Avenue, a north/south street was on fire, just a few blocks from our house. One of the two huge destructive events I lived through in Los Angeles; the other, the big earthquake two years later, which also caused a lot of damage to our neighborhood. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for Samson ~ Samoyed Dog ~ A Love Story

Theme ~ Good Things:

We adopted Samson from a relative after Samson's litter mates had all died, and he felt he couldn't sell him. Samson was seven weeks old at the time. 

At less than two years old, Samson developed pancreatitis, and at three he suddenly became blind. He was diagnosed with UDS, a canine disease primarily found in Akitas. Only the quick actions of our vet, who immediately put him on steroids, restored Samson's sight. He is healthy now, he only needs eye drops every three days, and a vet visit every three months. But our vet thinks his immune system is iffy. Samson will be five in July.   

I posted this, my commitment to Samson, when I wasn't sure if he was going to survive and not sure I could stand the heartache of losing yet another dog. 

From the Westminster Kennel Club:

"The Samoyed is an ancient working breed developed by the nomadic Samoyed people of Siberia. His jobs included herding reindeer, hunting and hauling sledges and guard work. 

The Samoyed people depended upon their dogs for survival. Samoyed dogs actually slept in the shelters with their people. Their exceedingly close association with humans helped to imprint a wonderful temperament on the breed with the smiling face, laughing eyes and stunning silver tipped coat. The Samoyed, a working dog, is happiest when he has a job, even if it is just bringing in the daily paper." 

Samson at two years old. 

From Wikipedia:

Recent DNA analysis has led to the Samoyed being included among the 14 most ancient dog breeds, along with the Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, Chow Chow and 10 others. Samoyeds have been bred and trained for at least 3,000 years. 

From Samson Himself:

Mommy knows how much I like to work, so she lets me take her for a walk every morning. That's a very big job for me. Once we ran into a trespasser and I had to show my powers, I growled and lunged at her, and was so fierce she thought I was a German shepherd dog. I scared her away, she's never been back.

When mommy fell and hurt her ribs, I put two paws on one side and two on the other side of mommy's body and then I stood over her to protect her from wild critters until daddy came with the Jeep. I'm very responsible. 

Mommy takes me to the shed where she does laundry. When she hangs it on the line, I go with her and sit by her side and guard her. You never know who may come, maybe a bear or another trespasser I need to scare away.

Then we walk together around the place and pick up stuff, I don't know why we do this, but I follow along. When mommy cuts down those stupid bushes in the field, I keep an eye out for intruders. She says I make her feel safe.  

Last year they put the picnic table in my dog run and it has been my lookout post ever since. I survey my land and make sure my tenants (rabbits, ground squirrels, gophers, and all the birds) behave themselves. 

And if the coyotes come by and try to scare me, I have to remind them I'm not far removed from my ancestors the big wolves of Siberia.

I am engaged to my love, Gracie, a little white Cockapoo who lives in Maryland. I know, it's far away and since both our mommies are so dependent on us, we will be an online couple forever.  

Since I'm the only dog around here now, I'm pretty busy helping mommy. And that's why I like my nap after all my chores are done.

Me: Since Samson became our only dog, he has proven to be exceptional. He was trained as a puppy by our German shepherd dog, not by me, yet he seems to understand everything I ask of him. He is very communicative and very kind. His complaining dog blogger personality is just a front. Samson has won my heart and my unconditional love for him knows no bounds. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

R is for R&B and Rock

Theme ~ Good Things:

Rhythm & Blues became the music of my crazy years, my sort of second youth, after I got divorced from my first husband. A Change is Gonna Come, by Sam Cooke, may be my favorite song ever, closely followed by Otis Redding's These Arms of Mine. There was some great rock too, back then. Here are some performers and songs that bring memories, both happy and sad:

Aretha with Ray Charles, singing Spirit in the Dark at Fillmore East or was it West, doesn't matter, it's a classic from the era. As is Janis Joplin's version of Me and Bobby McGee, a song that brings memories of a sweet,romantic love I once had; and there's The Band,just to name a few.......

And then there's that song, the song you couldn't escape in the winter of 1972. Especially if  you were driving across this great country, listening to the radio in a little VW Bug, while California dreamin', like me:

I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died

So bye-bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
And them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
Singin' "This'll be the day that I die,
this'll be the day that I die"

Don McLean's tribute to Buddy Holly will forever remind me of that great road trip across America.

Now they call this music Classic Soul and Classic Rock ~ A very Good Thing......


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