Farewell to a friend…

6 Dec

Today my friend lost her husband.  Theirs was a love story that amazed and inspired.  Feelings and emotions were never left unspoken.  They supported each other.  They never took each other for granted.  They championed each other.   They made each other laugh.  A lot.  They were the real deal.  They were everything love should be.

 

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I know there is nothing I can say to her to ease her pain.  I’m not going to tell her he’s in a better place now, when I know the place he should be is by her side.  For the past year or so I’ve struggled with the eventuality of this day.  I hoped it would never come and prayed every day it wouldn’t.  I’m not ready.

“Death is no more than passing from one room into another.  But there’s a difference for me, you know.  Because in that other room I shall be able to see.”

  ~ Helen Keller

I know he’ll be watching from that other room. 

I love you my friend.

Heritage Society Home Tour, Part II

28 Oct

As you know, last week we were fortunate enough to have our home included in a Home Tour.  In Part I’s post I showed pictures of the inside of the house and as promised photos of the yard in Part II.  Today I’m making good on my promise.

 

Here’s a shot of the front of my house.  I love decorating for the holidays and really enjoyed putting together the fall display.  It’s different every year and I’ve even added more pumpkins since the picture was taken.

 

 

This area in my front yard is almost completely shade which presents a challenge when all you want to see is color.  I’ve learned to compromise and appreciate all the different shades of green.  I recently removed a large tree from here and have to say I’m enjoying the space much more.

 

 

Moving into the backyard, we have a large open grass area with flower beds and several different sitting areas along the edges.  I love my garden shed and spend quite a bit of time in there potting flowers.

 

 

One of our favorite features in the yard is the fountain.  Guests are encouraged to take pennies and make wishes.  The vegetable garden along the driveway now has just a variety of peppers.  I’m anxious to remove them and use the space for something else until it’s time to plant next season’s vegetables.

 

 

With the exception of a few roses, most of the plants along the driveway are succulents.  It was important to me to have quite a bit of drought tolerant plants since the majority of my yard takes regular watering.  And I have to admit, I love finding different varieties to add texture, color and shape to the spaces.

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of the yard.  Living in Southern California we spend a lot of time outdoors so having a yard like ours is perfect.  We love to hang out, BBQ, have friends over and just enjoy the beautiful weather.  And you never know when an impromptu game of horseshoes or Bocce ball will break out.

Heritage Society Home Tour, Part I

21 Oct

On Friday, we were fortunate enough to have our bungalow showcased in a Home Tour.   Approximately 50 people made their way through the house, asking questions and taking in all the great craftsman detail our home has.

Built in 1920, our little bungalow has a very rich history.  It was originally owned by a Justice of the Peace who later became our town’s mayor.  He married the daughter of one of the original families that settled here.   Together they owned a market and department store in our downtown Village.  Though the market and store are long gone, the Village remains the focal point of our Foothill community.  Since buying the house 23 years ago, we’ve done our best to restore it to its original roots and maintain the integrity of the bungalow style.  It’s hard to believe but we’re only the third owners in this house that’s nearly 93 years old.

Since you probably missed the tour, here are a few photos I took on Friday…

They were able to tour the outside as well, so I’ll post more pictures soon.  I hope you enjoyed this little tour.  I’d love to hear from you, especially if you were here on Friday!  Be well.

With those who don’t…

11 Oct

“With those who don’t give a damn about baseball, I can only sympathize.  I don’t resent them.  I am even willing to concede that many of them are physically clean, good to their mothers and in favor of world peace.   But while the game is on, I can’t think of anything to say to them.”

  ~ Art Hill

How far you go…

10 Oct

“How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you will have been all of these.”

  ~ George Washington Carver

Hallway

1 Oct

I know writing about the transformation of our hallway doesn’t seem all that exciting, but the reality of the before and after is as dramatic as any of the other rooms you’ve seen here.

In keeping with the way the rest of the house was, the hallway was quite dark.  Since it serves as the main artery to get from here to there in our bungalow, in those days it felt more like a tunnel than a hallway. 


Pulling up the carpeting and painting the walls white certainly was a huge improvement all by itself. 

When the girls were little this wall graced framed photographs of them chronicling the years.   As they got older, we started replacing those pictures with artwork and this is what we have today.

This is the piece that’s on the opposite wall…

Each room has a sign above the door that gives you an indication of what you’ll find inside…

 

 

 

This is a great mirror my husband and I picked up at a flea market, it’s perfect for outside our daughters’ room and is opposite their bulletin board.

 

 

We need one more sign, for the back room.  This is that catch-all room that most of us have.  It serves as guest room, den, office, etc.  Maybe one day I’ll find the perfect sign to grace its doorway… any suggestions?

And finallly, here’s the light fixture that really helped transform our tunnel…

Hobbes the Wondercat… part II

28 Sep

Last month I wrote a post about my daughter’s cat Hobbes.  Though he does things every day that are picture-worthy, the other day I came across a few photos that I wanted to share.

Don’t all felines secretly want to play dress-up?  These are Build-a-Bear outfits that my daughter knew he wanted to wear…

There’s the everyday Casual look…

 

 And when it’s game time, we need a Cheerleader!

 

Sometimes he’s just too cool for the room.  Who am I kidding?  That’s everyday!

 

Like most cats, he thinks an open box is an open invitation and an especially nice place to settle in. 

 

This is one of my favorites.  It was Christmas morning and we gave our two dogs new beds.  Hobbes of course couldn’t resist and made himself all too comfortable on Bailey’s bed.  I love love love the look on Bailey’s face.  You know he was thinking, “Um, excuse me, that’s my bed not yours and I’m just going to sit here and stare at you until you get off.”

                        

                                            

Do you have a Hobbes in your life?  I’d love to see pictures of your feline friends.

 

 

 

 

Worth the Risk by Nora Roberts

21 Sep

If you’ve ever read any of Nora Roberts’ 209 plus romance novels, you’re well aware she always builds characters and their surroundings with proficiency.  In Worth the Risk, she combines two previously published novels under one cover; Partners, originally released in 1985 and The Art of Deception from 1986.  Of course both stories deal with romance and you know the couples will find each other in the end, but Ms. Roberts is so good at adding just enough mystery and suspense it keeps you interested until the very last page. 

Partners

Matthew Bates had wanted Laurel Armand for years, she was the sister of his best friend but she was also his professional adversary.  Laurel, the sultry Southern belle had always kept him at a safe distance. But when the rival newspaper reporters are forced to work together on the murder case of Anne Trulane, sparks fly and madness erupts in steamy New Orleans. Nora Roberts describes the scenes so vividly you can almost hear and picture the newsroom and the swamp. Determined to get their story, Matt and Laurel find themselves in the path of a disturbed killer, putting love and life on the line.

As Ms. Roberts always does, she creates characters that make us laugh.  Enter Laurel’s eccentric grandmother who wants to see the same happy ending we’re hoping for but at the same time we learn Laurel has an old childhood crush on the murder suspect, thus making him a rival of her current love interest.


The Art of Deception

The second story is The Art of Deception. It deals with 3 artists and forgeries in a castle along the Hudson River. Once more, until the end you are not sure who is responsible for any events or what is going on – you wind up making the discoveries and solving the puzzling activities along with the characters. That alone is extraordinary for romance novels where usually 10 pages in you really know exactly what is occurring.

Artist Adam Haines arrives at the Fairchild castle under the guise of a well-needed breather but was this handsome stranger all that he pretended to be? Kirby Fairchild, daughter of the eccentric patriarch Philip, couldn’t be sure.  What she did know was that as the days and nights wore on, the attraction she felt for him was building, whether she’d wanted it to or not. Was she in danger of falling hard for a stranger who was even more practiced in the art of deception than she was?  Very early on, the two are fascinated with one another and the walls she’s built up around herself slowly come down in the arms of Adam.  

The story is full of playful interaction between Kirby and her father and her father and everyone else.  He is generous and loving one minute and accusatory and suspicious the next.  Kirby does what she can to protect her father but knows he is not quite on the level.  

Throw in loveable characters like Cards and Harriet as well as groundskeeper Jamie, who although retired years ago runs the gardens like he owns the place (I can relate to controlling behavior in the garden) and you enjoy every scene they’re in. There are also necessary characters like Stuart and McIntyre that help pull the storyline together. What you end up with is a book with all the elements it needs for a great read.

 

Like I mentioned before, the fact that Nora Roberts’ couples end up together is no surprise. Still, you root for them and want to see their lives begin brand new.  The plot of these stories appeal to women looking for a good love story with a twist. Nora Roberts is a wonderful author because of the interesting plots she comes up with and the path she leads you down as you read.  Ms. Roberts knows a thing or two about writing romance novels, she has more than 400 million of her books in print, writes under several pseudonyms and has written more best sellers than anyone else on the planet.  I can’t be the only one enjoying her yarns… try one out for yourself.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

17 Sep

The Kitchen House was a selection from my book club and each of us really enjoyed it.  The novel is narrated by two of the main characters, Lavinia and Belle.  Sharing narration duties, each from a very different perspective, they chronicle two decades of life, death, love and hatred. 

Set in Virginia, it begins in 1791 with seven-year-old Lavinia, a white girl who is orphaned while onboard a ship from Ireland.  Taken as an indentured servant, she arrives at the steps of Tall Oaks, a thriving tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves in the kitchen house.  

The kitchen house is run by Belle who is the illegitimate daughter of the plantation master, Capt. James Pyke.  The secret of Belle’s lineage is one the reader hopes will be disclosed at every turn of the page.  She lives her life “serving” her father every day hoping to receive the papers that will finally free her of the bonds of slavery but at the same time conflicted because that would mean leaving the only family she’s ever known.

As the years pass, Lavinia bonds deeply with the slaves who have become the only family she has.  She of course doesn’t understand the separation between those who live in the kitchen house or other areas of the plantation and those that live in the big house.  Her appearance matches those in the big house, but she spends much of her day living the life as a slave.  As an indentured servant, she’s given some advantages and privileges the black children on the plantation can only dream of.  Because of the color of her skin and the circumstances that brought her to the plantation, she never really fits in either place. 

Eventually, she is accepted into the world of the big house, where Capt. Pyke is gone for long periods of time aboard his ship and the mistress deals with her depression with daily doses of opium, for which she becomes addicted. Lavinia finds herself on both sides of two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk.

The story is filled with colorful, interesting characters that you can’t help but root for and wish for their happy ending.  Conversely, it has its share of misguided and evil characters that play a significant role in this part of our sad and shameful history.

The Kitchen House is well-written and beautifully told.  I agree with my book club friends that the ending comes quite abruptly and we would have preferred a little more closure.  Maybe a sequel is in Ms. Grissom’s future.  Overall, it’s a very well researched novel that leaves you reflective, and full of hope.

Shouldn’t Patriot Day be Every Day?

12 Sep

September 11th is a hard day for everyone.  For some it brings back memories they’d just as soon forget.  But alas cannot.  For many it reminds them our Nation is filled with heroes.  For countless it’s a day to show their patriotic spirit.  And sadly for others, despite the passage of time, it’s still unbearable.  And I understand that. 

As I do every year, yesterday I attended a Memorial Service to recognize those who lost their lives and futures on that dark day.  The ceremony is marked by prayer, reflection, song and the telling of some of those heroic stories.  

The firefighters who ran in when everyone else was desperately trying to get out.  Their sense of honor and duty is a story that needs to be told.  Yesterdya, just as our ceremony got underway, one of our Fire stations got an emergency call and had to abruptly leave the rest of us.  Duty first.  We were all happy to watch the fire engine and rescue unit reunite with us a short time later.  Each member returning, all of us thankful no man was left behind.  These men are heroes.

We were told the story of Father Mychal Judge, a gay Catholic priest who was the Chaplain for the NYC Fire Department.  While giving last rites to a firefighter, Fr. Judge lost his own life.  This man was a hero.

The 72 law enforcement officers who perished.  No other day in history has claimed the lives of so many members of this courageous and respected fraternity.  For me, a reality that hits very close to home.  Heroes every last one.

The events of September 11, 2001.  3,000 people died.  Mothers, Fathers, Sons and Daughters.  Husbands and Wives, Grandparents.  Friends and Colleagues.  Human beings.  3,000 hearts came to a stop.  Heroes?  Maybe not, but I’d like to think it’s just because their actions haven’t all come to light.  Our country has vowed to never forget.  I made that vow.  I intend to keep it.

Do you remember the eerie feeling when all air traffic came to an abrupt halt?  The FAA made an unprecedented decision to clear the airspace of all commercial, military and private airliners.  They began ordering emergency landings and diverting international traffic.  The skies were quiet.  Do you remember the sound?  I’ll never forget it. 

September 11th is a hard day for us all.  Yesterday’s memorial service was an opportunity to focus on the heroes.  9/11 was a day we’re forced to remember.  But it was also the most shining example of what this country is made of.  It was a lesson in humanity and selflessness.  It was a reminder that we are one Nation.  One people. 

September 11th is officially Patriot Day, but shouldn’t every day be?  This is a challenge to all of you to stand up and be heard.  It means making a conscious effort to give back to the greatest country on earth.  She doesn’t owe us.  We owe her.  Extend a helping hand.  Speak a kind word.  Right a wrong.  And fly her colors proudly. 

 

“A man’s country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle; and patriotism is loyalty to that principle.”

  ~George William Curtis

 

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.  I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”

  ~Abraham Lincoln

 

And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I won’t forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.

  ~Lee Greenwood

 

“There are those, I know, who will say that the liberation of humanity, the freedom of man and mind, is nothing but a dream.  They are right.  It is the American dream.”

  ~Archibald MacLeish

 

“America is a tune.  It must be sung together.”

  ~Gerald Stanley Lee, Crowds

 

“If our country is worth dying for in time of war let us resolve that it is truly worth living for in time of peace.” 

  ~Hamilton Fish

 

“If you are ashamed to stand by your colors, you had better seek another flag.”

  ~Author Unknown

 

“We can’t all be Washingtons, but we can all be patriots.”

  ~Charles F. Browne

 

“Those who won our independence believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty.”

  ~Louis D. Brandeis

 

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

 ~ Ronald Reagan 

 

“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”

 ~Elmer Davis

 

“This, then, is the state of the union:  free and restless, growing and full of hope.  So it was in the beginning.  So it shall always be, while God is willing, and we are strong enough to keep the faith.”

  ~Lyndon B. Johnson

 

“If you take advantage of everything America has to offer, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.”

  ~Geraldine Ferraro

 

“There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”

  ~William J. Clinton

 

“He loves his country best who strives to make it best.”

  ~Robert G. Ingersoll

 

Off with your hat, as the flag goes by!
And let the heart have its say;
you’re man enough for a tear in your eye
that you will not wipe away.

  ~Henry Cuyler Bunner

 

“My God!  How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!”

  ~Thomas Jefferson

 

“It is sweet to serve one’s country by deeds, and it is not absurd to serve her by words.”

  ~Sallust

 

“My favorite thing about the United States?  Lots of Americans, one America. “

 ~Val Saintsbury

 

“I think there is one higher office than president and I would call that patriot.”

  ~Gary Hart

 

“We dare not forget that we are the heirs of that first revolution.”

  ~John F. Kennedy

 

“I can hear you, the rest of the world can hear you and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”

 ~ George W. Bush

 

“I believe in America because we have great dreams – and because we have the opportunity to make those dreams come true.”

  ~Wendell L. Wilkie

 

“A real patriot is the fellow who gets a parking ticket and rejoices that the system works.”

  ~Bill Vaughan

 

“May I never wake up from the American dream.”

  ~Carrie Latet

 

Peace.  Now more than ever, in our constant pursuit ~ We all must work to create it, encourage it, support it and for 3,000 may they rest in it.

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