Monday, December 28, 2015

A Very Good Christmas

I know Rachael wanted to make sure I was OK over Christmas so, a long time ago, she booked herself for Christmas Eve. With friends like her, you just have to smile and go with it....
Since she's now a vegan, she had to make and bring our dinner, a lovely and spicy veggie soup. The drink is one of those pro-biotic ones that I never tried before. 

We stayed in for most of the day, but Rachael wanted to go to the Buddhist place so we drove over there. A cold wind was blowing, so we didn't stay long.

Rachael was amazed at all the mudslide damage in the canyon and it's true, the damage is everywhere around here. The views are beautiful though.

The promise (by TV weather people) of a white Christmas came true and the next morning found us with a couple of inches of snow on the ground. The dogs were delighted. This was Faith's first "real" snow. Snow that she could roll around in, jump and run in. 

She was so happy! I think she's the happiest dog I have ever known, actually. She's so full of joy, she sometimes just doesn't know what to do with herself. 

Later that morning, I went to Mary's house for Christmas lunch. Her son was there, a very nice man, and I had a lovely time with the two of them, Mary's cat and her two dogs.

You drive up a steep mountain road to get to her house. No one else had driven there after the snowfall. I appreciated the Jeep and how great it is in snow and mud.  

Mary has a panoramic views of the back end of our canyon. I wonder what it would feel like to live with these spectacular views every day of your life. I can't capture their splendour with my camera. On my way home, I stopped by my friend Lisa's house, where I just said hello to everyone and then spent a few moments with Lisa's mother-in-law, a wonderful woman, 88 years old, someone I would like to see again. 

The day after Christmas, the dogs and I went hiking in the hills, checking out animal tracks, finding some unusual ones, and sniffing, sniffing, checking them out under the junipers. The dogs did the sniffing,

while I got busy snapping a shadow selfie, and 

tracks of rabbit and quail and, finally, trying to 

capture a snow clad Sugarloaf mountain. You can see a little of it in the middle of the picture. To get a full view of this guardian of the canyon, I have to go down the road a ways or climb up a hill, something I wasn't up to then. 

So, A wonderful Christmas, celebrating life, friends, pets and nature. 

Now, in case I don't post again, let me wish you all a very



Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, woof, woof!

This Santa, Jultomte in Swedish, was made by my grandfather over 100 years ago. 

Thank you for all your love and support this past year. You helped me more than you will ever know. 

Sending hugs from me and doggie kisses from Samson and Faith! Now go and have a wonderful Christmas, eat, drink, and be Merry!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Rain, Snow And Cold Weather Comes To The Canyon

I'm glad you like the header picture. It's actually from December 2013, when we last had a substantial amount of snow on the ground. And I was into squeezing Samson's ears in my pictures. This year there's snow in the mountains and it's cold so it has stayed around longer than usual. 

These pictures are from yesterday. I love the big mountains to the east, the southern-most part of the Sierra Nevada. But I find I like the cold a whole lot less than I used to, just a few years ago. 

A while ago, I told the women in my crochet group that I had never owned a crockpot and never made a meal in one. When one of the ladies later spotted one at a yard sale, she bought it for me. And yesterday I made my first meal in a slow cooker. A vegetable soup that turned out really good. I made only one mistake, I didn't cut the potatoes small enough, but I learned, and got the idea of how you need to do it for the next time. I enjoyed the entire process. It was really fun and rewarding. 

Less fun is having to navigate this muddy, rather large, place in the road I have in common with my next-door neighbor. We really need to get together and do something, but he's going through a divorce, thinks I'm friends with his wife, and refuses to give me his phone number. I will call the county road department to get some advice. 

Mary and I recently went to the fire station in town and each got 25 empty sandbags. Then I found out that the firemen had sand and also filled bags at a park in town on Saturday. So I went, lots of pickup trucks, boy they have truly grown large these trucks, lots of guys, and, of course firemen to make my heart beat faster (just kidding, or as my friend Bernice said, "just to show you're not dead yet"). They had just ran out of empty bags, so I traded my 25 empties for 15 filled ones, just about all the Jeep could handle. I will keep them in there since I may have to travel in snow on Christmas Day. Then I will discuss with Glenn and have him help me decide where and how to place the bags to prevent the mud from damaging my driveway. 

Some of you asked about this tree and I verified that it is an oak tree. There are about five different kinds of oaks in our area, the Blue Oak is the most common. It only grows in California and does not look anything like the oaks in Sweden, or maybe a little if  you look closely at the leaves, which are of a blue/green color. I don't know if this is a blue oak or not. All I know is that it's a fabulous tree.

Then some of you asked if I have any close neighbors. Only the guy who is getting divorced and will not talk to me about stuff and a multitude of his relatives who live up there with him. I can't see his house from my house, his road goes next to my property and then up a hill a bit, so he's out of the way. But I have other friends not too far away. Mary and I check in on each other often, and a guy down the road a ways, said to call any time if something happens, middle of the night or not. And then there's my neighbor across the street, the woman, not quite my age, but not young, and about half as tall as I, who said, last year, "if you ever get scared, call me, I have a GUN!" With neighbors like that, I am not worried. Just a little about crashing blood sugars, scaring my dogs, and all that, but I try to not think about how dangerous insulin dependent diabetes really can be. And stay vigilant, there's always that, vigilance.

On that happy note, I will end this epistle and wish you all a Merry Christmas and Peace in this crazy world of ours. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Thinking Of My Mom

My Mom was born on this day in 1908. I'm thinking of her today. I love you Mom, and I miss you so very much. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

My World ~ Surrounded By Mountains

When I wake up feeling lousy, like I did today, this goes through my mind: Am I getting sick? You're already sick, I tell myself, you have Type 1 diabetes, check your sugars! 
But I mean -- am I coming down with something, like a cold? 

Or is it just old age? I asked my doctor that once, is it just old age and how would one know? Being old already, I now forget what he answered. I'm really curious about this business of how you are supposed to feel, think, and be as you head deeper into your old age.

It was 20F this morning and I felt it would be too icy and muddy to take Samson out on the leash. I can so easily fall when he decides to pull hard. So I let Faith out to run off some energy. Took the camera since it was absolutely gorgeous outside, after several overcast days. 

For the past several years, the front of my house, which faces south, has been very raggedy looking and I have been ashamed to put up a picture of it on the blog. Now that Glenn has put up siding and the new windows are in place, it looks like a real home. He will paint the house in the spring. Sage will be the color. The color of the siding looks good too, but I want it to pop a bit more. 

This is where we walk most mornings, down a hill 

and up another. All those furrows are where the mud flowed down the hills during that big rainstorm.

Who's that behind the rabbit brush?

It's my Faith, busily checking everything out, looking for a rabbit to chase. 

I have to enlarge this picture, I think it will be a good one of her. See how little she is though. She was supposed to be a Lab mix. Which she is, she does have webbed feet, I mean paws, but her legs forgot to grow. I must check her DNA ~ I think there's a terrier in there, which kind I don't know. Pitbull or Jack Russell would be my guess, or maybe both. And some kind of heeler herding dog. I have neer been "heeled" before, but she sure knows how it's done. 

This is the east side of the house with the dog run. Last year, Errol gave the semi-classic Mustang to one of his brothers and I gave Glenn the old blue van in the background. I'm keeping the truck and the Jeep. I wish I didn't have to keep the Jeep, but with all the money I put into it, I have no choice.  Maybe it will keep me young though, rolling windows up and down manually, bouncing around the freeways in the wind,  and so on.

So now you have had a tour of my world here in the canyon. And I feel a lot better, having done something a bit creative this morning. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Third Sunday In Advent And Sankta Lucia Day ~ A Swedish Festival of Lights

As I lit the three candles for the third Sunday in Advent, I thought back to July when I started to crochet some very small gifts for very few friends, and I thought I had all the time in the world. Well, I'm finally done, as of this morning, and today I spent wrapping gifts and putting them in those prepaid priority mail boxes and envelopes. I'm off to the post office tomorrow to mail them with a few other things. 

Rachael is coming up on the 24th, as we planned, and Kenny and Monique and their girls
are coming on the 27th. Then the tenants in the Los Angeles house want to come and spend a day with me around that time as well. I don't know if they want to know about my plans for selling the house or tell me their plans, but they are nice people and my husband, who knew them best, was very fond of them, so they are welcome. 

I'm having some ridiculous problems with this new monitor and will call HP tomorrow. At least I managed to open it today. 

Last year, I did a pretty comprehensive post about Saint Lucy and the Swedish tradition of celebrating Sankta Lucia Day, a festival of lights, which takes place at this, the darkest time of the year in the far north. I believe it doesn't hurt to revisit traditions, so I am posting it again:


Many of you read my Sankta Lucia posts in prior years. This time, I decided to combine the 2012 and 2013 posts and add some background to the Sankta Lucia customs in Sweden. If you read this for the first time, I hope you will enjoy learning about Saint Lucy and the tradition of the Festival of Light celebrations held in Sweden on her Saint's Day. 

Me as Sankta Lucia in the 1940s

Throughout history, people in the Nordic countries have celebrated light in the dark and cold of the approaching winter solstice. 

In the old calendar, December 13th was the longest night of the year. It was also the most dangerous. A night when animals could speak and fairies, trolls, and giants roamed the forests. In the countryside, young people would dress up in costumes and go from house to house, singing songs, eating and drinking with their neighbors. The custom of a Lucia dressed in white was first recorded in 1764, but didn't become popular until the 19th century. 

The tradition continues today. On December 13th, Santa Lucia Day is celebrated in Sweden with festivals of light across the country. And at the darkest time of year, people are reminded that our earth will soon begin to turn toward the light of spring.

According to tradition, the eldest daughter in the family, wearing a white dress with a red sash and a crown of candles, brings coffee and Lucia buns (lussekatter) to her parents in bed. 

Yes, that's me as Sankta Lucia with a crown of real candles on my head! (I did have a wet napkin on my hair, underneath the crown.) The girl and her court of younger siblings sing the old Neapolitan song Sankta Lucia in a translation that celebrates light coming to this dark season. This tradition continues in Swedish homes today, but with battery operated candles, I'm sure.

Lucia buns

Sankta Lucia is crowned in schools, churches, and communities all over Sweden and processions are held with the Queen of Light leading her court. Everyone holds candles and sings the Sankta Lucia song.  

Source: Google Images

Sankta Lucia, or Saint Lucy, was a Sicilian woman who was martyred in the year 304 AD. A common story suggests that she would secretly bring food to persecuted Christians who lived in the catacombs of Rome and, in order to keep her hands free, she wore a crown of candles on her head. 

Another legend tells us that she consecrated her virginity to God through pious works. After she refused to marry her betrothed, a pagan man, he became infuriated and reported her to the authorities. When guards came to arrest her, she was so filled with the Holy Spirit that they couldn't move her, even with a team of oxen. The guards then gathered materials around her and set them on fire, but she didn't burn. In medieval accounts, Saint Lucy's eyes are gouged prior to her execution and she is often depicted in art carrying her eyes on a tray.

Saint Lucy, by Domenico Beccafumi, in a 1521 recasting of an iconic Gothic image. It was said that Saint Lucy was tortured with eye gouging, hence this rather disturbing image. The picture, as well as some of the history of Saint Lucy, are courtesy Wikipedia. 

Saint Lucy is the patron saint of the blind. Her name is derived from Lux, Latin for light, and she is presented with light in art and literature.  Saint Lucy is one of only seven women, aside from the Virgin Mary, commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass


A Note:

The coffee cups I carry in the second picture above, belonged to my maternal grandmother and they now have a home here with me.*

My maternal grandmother

* Last spring, I gave the cups to a family member because she helped me so much and I also knew she would take good care of them. Giving away good things to family and donating more to our local thrift stores has been very healing for me. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

It's Been A While!

When I last blogged, I think I was on my way with my friend Mary, a new friend here in the canyon, to photograph a very interesting tree.

This is the tree, located at a dead end of a road as it intersects with another pretty busy road so all pictures had to be taken from inside Mary's car.

While I didn't get any good pictures of the entire tree, here are some of it's branches. To look at while I tell you about my computer issues, Jeep expenses, and the rest of what's going on in my life.

The Jeep ended up costing me $1,401 (don't you love that one dollar at the end?). However, two good things: I believe the local mechanics did an excellent job and I am so grateful to have had the money to pay for it. Moving on, I gave in to temptation and decided to treat myself during the online sales, and I saved a total of $65. What did I buy? A Kindle Fire TV stick. Love it, love watching movies and all kinds of TV shows for free! Should I want to pay, I get Netflix and all the other streaming channels too. I haven't tried any of those yet. 

The other thing I bought was a new monitor for my computer. Looking at my old one from 2004, I wondered when it too would decide to break down, so I did it. It has taken me some time to get it working properly, but I think I've got it now. I got the least expensive one and was quite dismayed to see, when I read the instructions, that it is not compatible with Windows 10, but goes all the way back to XP!! I think it will be fine with Windows 10, but it seems to be a very old model, cheap though, so I guess you get what you pay for!! But so far, so good, I just have to figure out some more stuff.

As far as my modem goes, there was nothing wrong with it. When Glenn hammered in some new wood on the eaves below the satellite, the roof shifted enough to make the satellite not work properly. So the guy fixed it and didn't charge me for it. 

Downtown Tehachapi

Mary and I had a nice time in Tehachapi, checking out some antique stores and a store where local artisans display and sell their goods. It's a co-op and it's very impressive to see work by so many talented artists, including Karen from our crochet group. Every possible thing you could think of, made by local people, was on display. I had never stopped by there before, but now I will go again and take my out of town friends too. 

This past Monday, I drove the Jeep, without incident, to Palmdale, some 50 miles away to have lunch with Kenny and Monique, my nephew and niece-in-law, and drop off Christmas presents for their girls. They are coming up to see me on the Sunday after Christmas. I love them so much, so it will be fun.

Many say that the first holidays after you lose a spouse will be very difficult. I can see that, of course, but Christmas has always been my one most favorite holiday. (Thanks mom and dad for making it so.) So I will go to Christmases past, very far in the past, all the way back to the magical Christmases of my  childhood. Beginning with Advent. I have received the Victorian Advent Calendar by Jacquie Lawson from my friend Dee. I also kept the two I received last year, and, if that's not enough, I bought one from the nuns' shop, when Rachael and I last visited there. See it above; each day has a picture and a Bible quote. It's all lovely.

And, in the Swedish tradition, I will light a candle on each Sunday in Advent. I bought four red candles and dusted off my old advent candle holder. I won't have a tree, not with my high energy Faith around. Maybe a small one, up high. We'll see.

I also feel that giving is very important now. I even crocheted some small gifts to give to friends. While wrapping gifts today, it rained, it snowed, and the wind howled ~ sounds like the beginning of a ghost story, doesn't it? Now that it's dark outside, it feels a bit weird. Gusts up to 75 mph they said on the news for yesterday, but I think it is happening right now. So glad there are no tall trees around here.

Seeing falling snow for the first time, Faith was a bit concerned. What's that white stuff falling from the sky? But, as you can see, she soon enjoyed it. 

I guess that's all for now. Have a nice weekend everyone. 


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