Category Archives: Family

Weekly Travel Themes: Noise

Vince and I come to Avila Beach in Central California to escape the quiet tranquility of our country home in the hot Central Valley.


At the Friday night street fair this band attracts a crowd.  Nobody could resist  “Sweet Home Alabama,” no matter what their age.

Street Fair2

People moved out of the way to let this couple dance.

Street fair6They didn’t inhibit others from doing something different.

Street fair4

Vince noticed the mature gypsy queen.  I tried to get close to her, but people kept crowding in between us as they danced their way across the street.

Street fair7

First one and then another, and my camera has a bit of a delay.  So I would get her all lined up , snap the picture, someone walked in front of me, and click, the shutter opened.   The results were interesting at times.

Street fair8

Sometimes they were downright laughable, but it was so noisy that you couldn’t hear yourself laugh.

Street fair5

I can’t hear her, can you?  I hope you enjoyed the music we heard at the Avila Street Fair last Friday night.  Tomorrow’s Friday.  Want to go?

To see more entries about noise or to see other themes visit Where’s my backpack?

How to Play Croquet with Kids

This was the most fun New Year’s Day I have ever had.

IMG_1293 Paula and the kids came over bringing the croquet set with them.

Setting up

Vince and Edward set it all up before lunch.


Here are the rules.

  1. If you are the youngest and littlest, you get twice as many shots as everyone else.  (Chloe won and got bored and took pictures the next time.)
  2. If you get too far behind,  move the ball a little with your feet.
  3. Never swing too hard like you are hitting a golf ball 250 yards.  Croquet mallets break when you miss the ball and hit the ground.
  4. Choose the winning color.  Yellow is the color that wins because everyone hits your ball through the hoops for you.
  5. If you hit a person, you get to hit again.  If you go through a hoop, you get to go again.  If you are little, you get to go again.  If you don’t get to go again, hit it again anyway.  You’ll catch up faster.
  6. If you get bored playing, you have to be the photographer.

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What did you do on New Year’s Day?  Or, was that day a complete dud, and you’ve had better days to discuss?

Manny Here

Dear Friends,

I am writing for Mom this morning cause she has her nose in her book all the time.

TC at work2

I’ve been making some resolutions as I sit here on my travel blanket and have all my gear around me.

Manny studies his options

  1. I want to go somewhere else.  Mom wants me to write my own blog, but that’s her resolution.  Do your parents make resolutions for you?
  2. I am going to resolve not to get so mad at her for making resolutions for me.  After all she did send me all over the world with her friends.  I can’t complain or you will all revolt instead of resolve.
  3. I’m going to have more fun in 2014 without landing on my face doing it!

M & J in Frankfurt

What are your resolutions for 2014?

M & J landed

P.S. This was Justin and I in Frankfurt.  It was a blast!  I love Mom for letting me go.  Thanks Carol and Glenn, and of course, my friend, Justin.  :)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Let There Be Light!

Light makes me bubble with joy.  Let there be light!

STL lights on icy fountain

When I was a child, we had family December light-viewing rituals.  From early in the season to a few nights before Christmas our parents drove us around different Indianapolis neighborhoods to see all the light displays.  We would stop whatever we were fighting about and pile unhappily into the car.  A family of self-appointed judges, we debated which homes were the most beautiful.  Every year we returned to one house in the country with a dizzying amount of illuminated displays, our winner’s choice.

Another special treat for me was when Mom and I dressed in our warmest boots, coats and gloves and took a bus downtown to the Circle.  The two major department stores, L.S. Ayres and Block, decorated their display windows, with new animations which competed for our viewing pleasure.  My great-grandmother walked us next door to her neighbor’s who decorated under her tree every year adding some little thing until her entire living room became the winter wonderland.  I was enthralled as only a small child could be.

Lights are musical and theatrical.  They represent putting yourself out in the open, and once you’re out there others can see and judge your performance.  The History Girls loved Wicked.


Lights represent joyousness and fun and are good year round.

SFW Santa Monica175

As I wrote this I realized that lights and judgement are interchangeable.  When we look at lights we generally make a positive judgement.  We judge the lights when they make an impression on us, and lights also make judging possible.  Artists highlight positive attributes, and dim less desirable areas, making the good seem better by contrast.  When there is too much light, we get overwhelmed and confused even if we think the lights are fabulous.  We can’t appreciate details when everything is equally bright.

SF with Mary080r

As an adult, I become that small child once again, excited when I see beautiful lights.  Just over a week ago, my social studies buddies from around the country met in St. Louis for the National Council for the Social Studies Conference.  Two friends of mine from San Diego and I had dinner, then took ourselves on a guided tour of the lit Sculpture Gardens in downtown.  Lights create magic, and make us festive and playful.

Cheryl and Marsha

I hope you enjoy your season of lights as much as I am already enjoying mine.  To see other light displays click here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Habit

I walk every day at least two or three miles.  It helps me eat more sweets, which is what I really love.

Bob Jones Trail from Ontario Road to Avila Beach
Bob Jones Trail from Ontario Road to Avila Beach

When we travel, my husband walks with me and Puppy Girl unless he gets a phone call for work.  Then he stops and talks business.

Do you see that butterfly over there, Mom?
Do you see that butterfly over there, Mom?

Puppy loves to do both.  Walk and talk, and I think she could chew gum at the same time if we gave it to her.

Could I please have some gum, Mom?
Could I please have some gum, Mom?

Should we?

I don't mind the wait, Mom.  I mean really, look where I am, and look where you are.  You can go on if you want.  I'll wait with Dad.
I don’t mind the wait, Mom. I mean really, look where I am, and look where you are. You can go on if you want. I’ll wait with Dad.

She sits or stands patiently as Dad talks on, and on, and on. Deal closed?

Could I ride, Mom?
Could I ride, Mom?

At home we walk around Bravo Lake, and meet the locals.

Hey Mister, can I ride your horse? No hablo perro, Senorita.
Hey Mister, can I ride your horse?   No hablo perro, Senorita.

You never know who will be walking that three miles.

What do you do as a habit?  Click here to find out what others do.

How to Be Attractive at Any Age

My father actually told my mother that the reasons, among others, they divorced was because I was ugly and she was fat.  Many years later, when I my brother, his wife, and my first husband, Mark, and I visited him in San Diego, he sat across from me wiping his nose and pointing at me, then laughing and nudging my brother conspiratorially.  He wouldn’t tell me what it meant, and it felt threatening. Finally his girlfriend saw him do it, and told him to stop.  I asked her what it meant, and she said, “It means, ‘You’re ugly.'”  To say that I had a complex about appearance might be a mild understatement.

Ferris wheel 103

Over the years I have worked hard to overcome the flaws that are beatable, and live with the ones that aren’t.  I don’t think Dad’s estimation of me being ugly is or was an accurate one, but I have worked, to the best of my ability and interest level, at being physically attractive over the years.  During this past extended vacation with my brother, a comment he made opened my eyes to what makes a person attractive.  I told another friend about the story, and she said I needed to write a blog post about it.

A beautiful woman in her 60s then gave me three tips to help any normal person stay attractive even into their later years.  When she was 80, she looked younger than I did at 40.  She looked better than both of her daughters who sort of spurned her advice, and weren’t overly interested in maintaining their good looks.  Her simple advice was:

  1. Keep your figure in shape.  If you have a good figure, it doesn’t matter what clothes you wear, they will always look good.
  2. Take care of your face.  Use sunscreen, and learn how to use make-up.  You can cover up a lot of flaws that way.
  3. Always make sure your hair looks nice.

That about sums it up for most people.  As you age these three tips become more difficult, but they are all doable.  On a purely physical level, I’ll add three more of my own tips.

  1. If you can afford medical procedures, maintain what you need to keep healthy.  This includes teeth, eyes, joints, skin, internal organs, and whatever else shows undue aging.
  2. Take vitamins, but don’t overdo it on medicine.  Everything has a side effect.
  3. Watch your diet.  You may not be overweight, and might not be consuming too many calories, but eating the right foods will help maintain all of those items mentioned in both #1 tips.

That about sums it up for everyone.  But none of those will make you really attractive.  The next part of this story will explain what opened my eyes about BEING attractive.

My brother and I were not close even though we were only two years apart.  We didn’t do much together.  I was older, bossy, and lived my own life.  He was younger, angry much of the time, and developed insights I didn’t have.  I don’t think I was any meaner than any other sister would have been, but I was disinterested.  As the years went by, nothing much changed.  I moved first a hundred, then a thousand miles away from him with my first husband, and never went back except for infrequent visits.  After our first move, I coaxed my mom to come live with us by finding her a job.  It was the first time my brother had been separated from her.  He was 26.

She remained in that little town long after I left, and eventually moved back to Portland, where Randy lived, and lived there comfortably many years.  When she had to go on dialysis, she moved to California so I could take care of her.  Randy was livid, and wrote a 20 page hateful letter to me recounting all my past sins, and became very uncooperative in getting her settled.  After three years, he finally visited her, and admitted that she was better off than when she lived by herself.  When she died, he came down to California.  Mom didn’t want him to come.  “I’m coming down to support you,” he told me and came anyway.  He was a tremendous support to me at that time.

Randy just turned 60, and I wanted to do something special for his birthday.  I told him about 8 months ago what I had in mind, and he was excited.  During the trip we played, laughed, shared memories, and didn’t criticize each other, except maybe for a few comments about stopping smoking.  (Add that to the physical tips!)  I called him endearing terms.  They just came out naturally, and believe me, that was not part of our family upbringing.  The picture above is the ONLY adult picture I can remember where we had our arms around each other, holding tight like people who care.

At the end of the trip we were looking at old pictures, and there was a very unattractive one of me at about age 23.  I remarked that I thought I look better now than I did in my 20s.

He said, “You’ve always been a very attractive woman, but you do look more attractive now.”  His comment blew me away, because in 60 years he has NEVER told me I was pretty.  His compliment inspired my last tips on being attractive.  If you follow these suggestions I think anyone can be attractive no matter what their age or physical condition.

  1. Smile often, but especially when you first see a person.   Of course, don’t smile when they are telling you they are dying of cancer or something devastating to them.
  2. Really care about people around you.  Show this by doing nice things.
  3. Be genuinely interested in their lives, their children and grand-children.  Show this by listening and asking questions.
  4. Be kind to them.  Use kind words, never sarcasm.
  5. Be appropriately affectionate.
  6. Don’t criticize, unless you are VERY concerned about their well-being.  Even then, be guided by kindness and respect.
  7. Have fun with them, and take time to do the things they want to do.

If you do these things you will be the most attractive person in the world.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Wheels

Wheels have many uses, and a few useless jobs.  One of the less important tasks is to take you up in the air.  Patrick Meehan, an engineering student, published an article in 1964 about the first ferris wheel, and I linked to it at the end of the paragraph.  Chicago began preparing for the 400th anniversary celebration of Columbus’ discovery of the New World in 1890.  They wanted a tall structure for the event that would rival the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

South Bend_0514 r

George Ferris drew his model during a dinner, and the first Ferris Wheel was constructed from that sketch.  He was known as the man “with wheels in his head.”  The structure, completed in 1893, took 20 minutes to complete its first revolution without the cars.  Eventually, this engineering feat of the century, the ferris wheel had 21 cars.   Each weighed 26,000 pounds and held up to 60 people.  Three thousand of Edison’s newly invented light bulbs illuminated the famous wheel when it opened.  After the Exposition closed, the Ferris Wheel quickly fell into disuse.  It was moved twice, once in Chicago and once to St. Louis, before being blasted into bits.   For more information on the original Ferris Wheel click here.

South Bend_0528r

There was easily room for 4-6 people in the bright red car Randy and I rode.  From our perch on high we looked down at the other two wheels we wanted to ride next.  Randy wanted to go on the carousel, and I wanted the wave ride.

South Bend_0519r

However, as he freaked out while looking down, his ticket blew out of the car, never to be seen again.  We discussed who would get to ride the ride of their choice the rest of the way down.  It was his birthday, but he wanted me to ride.  As we exited the car, I asked the attendant what we could do about our lost ticket.  She took us to the front of a huge line, and got a replacement picture, so we both had the rides of our choice.

She was a big wheel at the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel Ride!  :)

For more fun wheel pictures click on Cee’s icon.



Wordless Wednesday: Family Friendly Notre Dame

In the heart of South Bend, Indiana lies the famed University of Notre Dame, home of the fighting Irish.

SFW Nortre Dame355

Two days ago on the tour my brother and I stood wordlessly in the Grotto.

SFW Nortre Dame334

We stood respectfully off the grass in the God Quad.

SFW Nortre Dame350

Unlike the disrespectful chipmunk.

SFW Nortre Dame347

We silently admired the largest collection of French stained glass anywhere in the world, including France.

SFW Nortre Dame236

It was a relatively quiet tour of respect and admiration.

Randy sat wordlessly tired out after three hours of touring – some before the tour began.

SFW Nortre Dame259

I ended up being late for Wednesday, but if you’d enjoy other Wordless Wednesday posts click here.


The Accidental Vacation: Chapter 10

Chapter 10  Going Home… Or Not

SFW TAV Klamath to Willits110

The debate continued for over 100 miles assisted by cell phone research.

Clear Lake is huge.
Clear Lake is huge“

HowmuchfarthertoClearlake?What’s the ETA?  What about Willits?  I’d almost like to drive all the way home, but I’m uncomfortable towing the trailer in the rain.”

As usual Vince asked Marsha several questions, so she managed to answer all of them, just not at the same time.  “The ETA to Willits is 5:40.  OK, let me figure Clearlake.” A few clicks using the navigation app brought up the mileage and the estimated time of arrival quickly.  Marsha liked Vince’s new iPhone 5.  “And the ETA to Clearlake is 7:05.  I think you could make it to Clearlake, then it would be an easy drive home tomorrow.”

Marsha was not pulling the trailer up the mountain, through the trees, and around all the curves.  The most she was doing was keeping the dog company, and snapping a few pictures.  “You know, I’m ready to stop.  I think we’ll go to Willits.”

Where is that place, anyway?  GPS says it's where the lumber yard is.  RECALCULATING!
Where is that place, anyway? GPS says it’s where the lumber yard is. RECALCULATING!

In the past, the general rule was to drive till you get there, don’t stop to look at the historic markers, just plow on through.  Vince could almost feel himself changing as he pulled the trailer every mile.  He pulled over frequently to let long strings of traffic pass by.  They stopped at vistas.  This was a different way of travel than driving by car to go see someone.

Willits KOA_0112a “That’s fine.  There’s a KOA there, and we should be there in an hour.”  Marsha was not opposed to stopping either.  They had been on the road five hours already, and would travel a little over 200 miles altogether that day.  Considering the late start they had, that was not a bad goal.

Willits KOA VPP_0239a The KOA at Willits was more like an amusement park than an RV park.


There was a full-fledged petting zoo, trailer spaces with spas, wifi, two ponds, one of which was for sport fishing.  You had to throw the fish back once you caught them.

Willits KOA_0165a

The large heated pool was busy as they drove into the office at 6:15.

Willits KOA_0191a

After they registered and set up, Marsha explored taking a hike up a large hill to the path into the redwood forest on the property, but when it started to drizzle, she and Puppy Girl returned to the campsite full of news.

SFW TAV Klamath to Willits119a After a brief visit with the neighbor, and a few minutes to watch the weather on TV, Vince said, “I think I want to spend another night here.  I just want to relax tomorrow.”

Willits KOA_0110a

Marsha could see that they would have plenty to do.  There was miniature golf, a little western town, each building set up with it’s own entertainment.

Willits KOA_0188a

“Sure, that sounds like fun,” she agreed.  It was settled.  Vince went over and registered another night.

Willits KOA_0123aThe next day they woke up to light rain.

Willits KOA VPP_0233a

After a leisurely breakfast at the Lumberjack Restaurant, they headed out for a drive.  “I want to see what the road to Clearlake is like,” Vince told his wife.  It rained off and on the entire way, winding through the trees to the last town in the Redwoods before the mountains turned into foothills, and quickly into the flat, Central Valley that went on for 450 miles.

Willits KOA_0141a


“I’m glad we didn’t try to do this today,” Vince told Marsha.  It’s supposed to be sunny tomorrow, and I know we can get home.”  They turned around and drove back to Willits, and spent the rest of the day enjoying all that the RV park had to offer.

Willits KOA_0143a

They might go home tomorrow.  Would Vince be able to resist the call of his house for one more day?  Was Puppy Girl anxious to get home?  Would they EVEN leave the next day?

Willits KOA_0201a

Why wait to find out?  The adventurers had a great time at the Willits Campground, but aren’t you anxious to get home at the end of your trip?  They drove the whole way the next day, got home to find a huge tree limb blown over in the driveway.  Nothing was damaged, so not even a downed tree limb could dampen their spirits.  They had a great Accidental Vacation.  Thanks for reading.  :)


Weekend Relaxing #2 Gardening

I have decided that picking most fruits and vegetables is best done by children who love to play games.  I think that fruits and vegetables get their jollies by playing hide-and-go-seek with humans.  You know they are ripe.  There are a few tantalizing veggies peeking out behind their leafy clothing.

Think there are any more tomatoes in there?
Think there are any more tomatoes in there?

Green beens are the worst.  I went out yesterday.  I picked all the beans I saw that were ripe.  I got quite a few, but to look at the plants, there were only little bitty beans.  You think – mistakenly – they’re not ready yet.

How many beans can you see?  Would you pick them or throw them back?
How many beans can you see? Would you pick them or throw them back?

What I found out is that you can’t let them be modest.  You’ve just got to pull their leafy clothes away from them.  Mothers that are used to changing diapers are accustomed to that.  They just whip off those clothes, get the job done, and bingo, the kid’s back in business, and Mom is on her way to the next chore.  No pretend modesty,

Weekend Relaxing #1 Gardening

But back to beans.  I guess I was too prissy the first, second and third picking.  After just picking beans two days ago, look what I found – the ones I missed – LAST WEEK!

They played hide and go seek long enough to be bean seeds.
They played hide and go seek long enough to be bean seeds.

And look who else wanted my beans!

"I'll find those sneaky beans!"
“I’ll find those sneaky beans!”

I kept him from getting some of them as you can see below.

See you tomorrow.  I got a great question from Benzeknees.  Thanks so much for asking!

Manny Goes to Grove Cafe in Kauai, HI

Aunt Cindy and Vince go on ahead while Manny explores the lay of the land.
Aunt Cindy and Vince go on ahead while Manny explores the lay of the land.

We, V, C, M and I,  just got back from a wonderful vacation in Kauai, HI.  Manny’s favorite place in all of Kauai was a famous restaurant in the little town of Waimea called The Grove Cafe.  Yelp gave The Gove Cafe three star rating, and told us how to get there, but Manny gave it 6 stars and a few planets.  You know when you see tour busses, that it must be a good place to eat.

"Whew, they're just leaving!"  Manny breathed a sigh of relief.  :)
“Whew, they’re just leaving!” Manny breathed a sigh of relief. :)

Manny loved The Grove Cafe for many reasons.

  • First of all everyone was very friendly and helpful and Manny got to drive a cart.
  • He got to explore an outdoor brick oven.
  • He got to order from the menu like a grown-up bear.
  • The waitress smiled at him a lot, and told us that he cold play outside when we finished eating.
  • It had a big room for dancing with Ute, only she wasn’t there.
  • The food was amazing.  Vince had a shrimp appetizer.  Cindy had minestrone soup and salad, and Marsha and Vince shared catch of the day with sweet potato fries.
  • There were no windows, just ledges so the ocean breezes ruffled his fur.
  • It was so fun to play outside after we all ate.
  • There was a huge banyan tree in the back yard.

You can play this song as you watch Manny in this slide show.

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The weather in the Garden Isle of Kauai at the end of May couldn’t have been better. A few sprinkles were all that fell on us the entire week.

BTW We are going to have a week or two that we will rent at either Maui or Kauai.  If you are interested in taking a trip to Hawaii, and are interested in renting our timeshare, please contact me by email:

WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Escape

Have you ever wanted to escape from your past?  From the faults and character qualities of your family that you didn’t like or admire?  We always sort of disowned my dad’s mom. I never even think of her very often, but when I saw this picture from Sethsnap, I escaped back to my childhood, and remembered my Grandma Tressie Lee.

Seth invited us to write something about the picture, so I escaped into the picture for about a half an hour or so.  You can do the same. The colors reminded me of my father’s mother.   I’m afraid I wasn’t very complimentary, but the picture was just SO HER!  Sorry Grandma.  “Bless your little heart.”

Flat lander's house








Dusky, like the colors in my grandmother’s duster, the baggy dress that she wore every day I ever saw her.

Every day, she donned a different dress, the same dusky colors, large floral prints, barren of interest,

Her personality lost in folds of fabric.

Smiling her pink plaster smile at my hopeful upturned look, never dusting in her duster,

Every surface always spotless, wiped clean of every evidence of life.

After I finished with the colors the picture just kept talking.  I went with it escaping from today back into yesteryear.

Sparse and windblown, like Grandma’s graying thin brown hair,

Each permed curl standing out at an odd angle from her scalp like the spindly, lone tree bending away from  earth’s scalp.

Cold, like the feeling I had after staying with Grandma for an obligatory day or two.

Even the clouds are stretched to their limit of endurance,

Color seeping from them leaving them dusky, dim and dull, the day’s promise drawn away by the wind.

One can almost feel a storm brewing.

Boxy house shaped, square, clean, and boring.

Grandma and her little square house with shiny hardwood floors covered with a million throw rugs,

Rugs that tripped Grandpa as he scratched from room to room with his walker.

Outside red roses grew on the trellis, a spot of unexpected beauty against the white frame wall.

This photo – the look of my paternal Grandma.

I’m afraid that in my tiny family we all joked about my poor Grandma who was such a complainer, and probably misunderstood.  She blamed her lack of education on her older sister.  She never “gradgiated” from third grade.  I have no idea how Aunt Hazel, who was actually quite delightful, could have prevented young Tressie Lee from going to fourth grade, but apparently she did, and was never forgiven.

Mom hosted every family reunion for Dad’s family because Grandma complained so much.   She bragged that she only cleaned house after company left because they would mess the house up anyway.  Tressie Lee always knew months ahead of time when she was going to be sick – whenever there was a family gathering scheduled at HER house.

I'm sure Grandma had this painting!  :)
I’m sure Grandma had this painting! :)

Grandma did like some things.  She painted at least 50 paint by number paintings – mostly dusky flowers.  They hung framed all over her pale lavender walls right over one of many pastel bouquets of plastic flowers.  I used to paint with her.  I actually enjoyed it, but keep in mind I am not the creative one in my family.  She taught me to like spinach and kale.  I’m sure that’s a good thing!  I also learned from her NOT to put my hand in the garbage disposal when it was turned on.  My other grandmas were not wealthy enough to have a garbage disposal.

She loved to sew.  She would make herself a new duster, and stand on the dining room table so Grandpa could pin the hem in for her.  Then she would fall off her Duncan Fife table.  She never broke anything – not even the table.  I laughed at this until I got to be about 40.  Then I fell off a table in the school cafeteria full of after-school students watching me put up a bulletin board.  Once I fell as I was just STANDING under a tree waiting to go into a museum.  One minute I was upright, the next on I was flat on the ground.  No explanation – Grandma, did you trip me?


She also loved to watch Oral Roberts and Billy Graham on TV.  I remember asking her one time if she was Jesus!  I have no idea what prompted me to ask that.  I was a preschooler, and they say the “darndest” things, but I distinctly remember that my childish question did not please her.  Maybe I thought I would, but I knew I had said something terribly wrong by the time she got finished with me.


She had bunions and aching toenails, and complained of them day and night.


She groaned so much that when my brother got old enough began to imitate her whining voice. “OH my aching toenails!” he’d wail in a wavery falsetto voice.  Then my mother’s dad would answer him saying the same thing.  By the time we were teens it was our signature telephone greeting.  In oour best Grandma T. voice we’d moan, “heLLLLLLLLLooooooooww????  Oooooooooh my aching toenails.”  Soon all our teenage friends were doing it too.  This was not nice, but keep in mind that Grandma lived 2400 miles away and never called, so it’s unlikely that it disturbed her.  However, one day my dad called, and I answered in our typical pre-voicemail whine.  I believe that both Randy and I got in trouble for that even though I wouldn’t be surprised if Dad started talking that way also.

I think I’m sorry that I made fun of Grandma, but we escaped the hum-drum of our everyday life, and had a lot of fun at her expense.

Dad once said I was so much like her, and Mom defended my character.  I’m not sure he was convinced.  I wanted to escape that accusation!  I couldn’t see any truth to it, but the genes are there even though I pretended all through my life that somehow HER genes never made it into the mix.  However, I have to admit that my toenails do ache sometimes, and once in a while I like to watch tv.  I did escape to a prayer breakfast a couple of weeks ago in which Bill Graham, Franklin’s son, Billy Graham’s grandson spoke.  I felt like Grandma would be proud, though she would never have ventured out of her home to see and hear him.

The picture below was taken at my parents’ wedding.  Grandma wasn’t wearing her typical colors in this picture.

Grandma stood 4'10" tall
Grandma stood 4’10” tall  Don’t they look happy????  Grandpa just wanted to escape!  Where were their glasses.  They had escaped somewhere, too!  :)

So did you have any family characters in your family, or have you escaped the reality of life and everyone in YOUR family is/was just perfectly amazing?


As a native Hoosier, my tendency is to be hospitable.  My mother always loved to have company, and it didn’t matter when you came, if she was home, she would get you a glass of iced tea or Pepsi, and you all would sit down and visit.  At Grandma’s that visit also included a walk through the yard to see what had bloomed since the day before when you were last there.

The cherry tree is a hybrid, and one side has cherries, the other doesn't.
The cherry tree is a hybrid, and one side has cherries, the other doesn’t.

I guess I haven’t outgrown that upbringing.  Even when Vince and I don’t have company, we still walk around the yard almost daily to see what new things he planted or how his garden grows.

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Don’t complain about the fence being unpainted. Vince likes the “cottage” look.

When we bought our home 12 years ago, we named it Bellavista.  At the time the house was more of a shack, and the acre a blank slate than a beautiful view, but for 12 years my husband has worked on creating his own bella vista.  I have to admit that most of my contributions have come in the form of praise, which he adores.

Vince likes to decorate with old furniture in the yard.  He planted this bed in memory of his mom.
Vince likes to decorate with old furniture in the yard. He planted this bed in memory of his mom.

Two days ago we went out, because he wanted to try my new Tameron lens.  Unfortunately, I forgot to put it back on automatic focus, and I took some of the pictures with my vision corrected differently, and Vince took some of the pictures, and his vision is different from mine.  So some of them are just not as sharp as the lens is capable of producing.  At least I know what was wrong with them.  You get to see life the way my lasik eyes see things unless I correct my distance vision.  It’s not as good as walking a mile in someone’s shoes, but the idea is the same. :)

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Hoosier, by the way, is the blurred way we say, “Who’s there?” in Indiana.  I don’t have much of a Hoosier accent, but I do blur my words as well as my pictures sometimes, according to Vince. hmmmm  Hope you’ve enjoyed our spring walk around the front of the house.  Now, what shall we talk about?  It’s open.  I’ll chat if you will.  :)

Spring Inspires Gardening Chores in California

My husband, like Manny, hibernates in the winter.  As soon as the days get longer and the temperature gets to about 65, V comes back to life and goes into hyperactive work mode. He also has talent to go with the spurts of energy.

Spring is almost here.
Spring is almost here.

This weekend the sun called to him, and said, “It’s time to think about planting.”  V loves to design landscaped areas, but has never been interested in gardening – UNTIL I retired.  Now he wants to garden.  We live in Central California which is the agricultural capital of the world.  Crops of every type grow here.  You dig a hole, stick something in it, flood it, and POOF it grows.

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Lavender will look nice around these rocks.

V is creative and artistic.  Gardening is not merely planting random plants into the soil.  This weekend he came home with lumber, pvc pipe, wire mesh, soil amendments, and germ-free soil.

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While he was doing all that I started on another couple of projects.  I pruned roses.  Behind the roses is a once beautiful fence that V designed and built when we moved here 12 years ago.  It has been painted several times, but it never STAYS painted.  (duh) Old fences aren’t interesting to creative people.  Except that they look cottage-ish, and have creative value in the landscape.  To me they look old and run-down.  So I spent the rest of the afternoon scraping the peeling paint off the fence.

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Where is Huck Finn when you need him?

Are you the creative one or the grunt in your family?  What are some of your projects?

To Do List, My Lazy Blogging Excuse

Like all of us, I actually do have a life.  And often it gets in the way of my blogging.  I started blogging in April, and by August I had to quit my day job so I could blog full-time.  Such a sad excuse to retire, but V says I go after blogging like I did my job, and according to V – not my boss –  I was a workaholic.

We're really working.   Proofing the Conference Program.
We’re really working. Proofing the Conference Program.



The Conference is March 8-10.  So much to do.
The Conference is March 8-10. So much to do!!!  

As you may know, I am still heavily invested in the social studies teaching community through California Council for the Social Studies, San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies and National Council for the Social Studies as well as the Tulare County Historical Society, and I am just about to join our local Kiwanis Club thanks to Running P Ranch Co-Captain, Sally Pace.  This week three of them have had meetings.  The funny thing about meetings is that there is always work attached.  On top of that V’s son is having a birthday soon, and we are celebrating with him.  Paula’s son just had a birthday, and we will celebrate with them on Sunday.

Meet V's son, J.  Isn't he handsome?  Can you guess his age?
Meet V’s son, J. Isn’t he handsome? Can you guess his age?



How old is this handsome “grandson” of mine?


I say all this to apologize if my posts for the rest of this month may be sketchy or nil.  I’m not sure if I can stop blogging altogether.  I am super addicted, as you can tell.  But if I do neglect to get up a post or two, please feel free to rummage around in my past posts.  I have tons.  I can’t stop myself.  Some of them are better than others, but my WordPress friends are probably glad to let you know in the sidebars which are the most popular.  They are all pretty random.  They are streaming thoughts, after all.

This also means that I have been and will continue to neglect my visiting of your blogs somewhat.  Again, I don’t mean to.  I am reading my reader as I travel – if I’m not driving!!!  unfortunately it sends me tons of blogs I hardly even know, and who never write me back.  I am prejudiced and I really prefer to visit people who actually visit me, and write back to me when I scribble out a few comments on their blogs as well.  My reader tries to expand my repertoire, but it often misses my valued closest friends.

My email notifier is good, but I find when I click from there many of your blogs make me sign in three or four times before I can even like what you said.  I have to admit that when I am on my iPhone, I have no patience with those sign ins.  I hit the wrong keys, and end up having to enter at least 6 or 7 times before I get it right!   I’m bouncing around in a car, so I get mad and go back to playing Farkle.  I’m sorry – did I just tell you that?  So mindless of me.

All that to say, if you don’t hear much from me this week, it’s not because I don’t love and think about you.   :)  ML

So that you can keep  me in line, here’s my list.  Feel free to comment.  Marsha, did you call… or did you …  And if you think of anything else I missed, be sure to comment that, too.  Except you, Ralph.  You’ll have a complete additional to do list for me that I’ll never be able to finish!!! JK  haha



  • Call Scott with model number  3712
  • Call John  and arrange for him to drive the trailer to Scotts.  (Yes, we’re selling our Layton 39 foot trailer – anyone interested.  You can see it on Ebay or on my FB page.)  We’ll deliver if you live in Spain or England!!  JK  :)  We can’t tow it  –  it’s LONG, but spotless and comfy.  We store it mostly.
  • process pictures
  • input hilton honors information


  • Proofread the conference program
  • Look over the BOD packet (haha that’s Board of Directors, Ralph!!  Don’t get all worked up!!!)
  • Avi needs to have someone write up the motion for the board packet.  
  • I need to write a motion to accept the changes in the bylaws.  
  • I will highlight sessions and workshops.   Three or four compelling topics in each subject area.
  • I need to write up motion for reverse brokering.
  • Work on the membership brochure at least the text.  See if Paula or V will help me with the graphics.
  • Mary is drafting a letter that will go to people who will be new members.  As one of the benefits you receive a complimentary membership to CCSS. 
  • I need to pass the brochure on to Mary.    
  • I need to follow up with Mary to make sure she has written the letter.


  • email Laile with the results of our conversation tonight

Isn’t this fascinating?  Am I desperate for something to write or what??  Can you guess which ones are done????

What have I missed Avi?  Brent?  Terry?  Sharon? V?

Sunday Post: Christmas

water-dragon-poster1Jake has done it again – a post to challenge my photographic abilities.  I haven’t been too successful with night pictures or inside pictures.  So here is my trial.  Thanks to Leanne Cole and Russel Ray Photos for the tutorials on Photoshop to spruce these up!

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Most of our Christmas ornaments stay packed in the boxes each year because one of us doesn’t like them, and because V likes simplicity.  I have to agree with him on that when I see it.   He is our decorator.  I play on the computer.

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The question is do you prefer the pictures with or without frames?












With or without snow?  Oops, I got carried away with the snow.  I just couldn’t help myself!!!  I resisted until I had the frame made, then poof, out came the snow!!!  Thanks VERY much Leanne!  Now I’m hooked!

Snowman 1

So do you like the heart, the bell, or the snowmen ornaments best?

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So I’ll TRY on this picture to lay off the snow can!!  Wish me luck!!  Whew, I did it!!!  :)

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What else can I try?  Remember that on my own, I am not creative.  I HAVE to copy people.  Here I managed to insert notes, but when I tried to insert a second set and make it a song, the first set disappeared.  I couldn’t change color either.  So I guess I need a tutorial on that skill.

SFW Christmas 2012015

When I was little, my grandma and I would decorate her windows with sponge on wax which was supposed to look like snow. We used stencils, and when we finished, we made taffy.  I felt like I was decorating the windows with this picture.  I got carried away with the tree, and totally snowed on it, too.  I probably should have put ornaments on it, too, while I was at it.

So welcome to our simple Christmas.  The table is set ready for you, but the food is not made.  Are you coming tomorrow for Christmas Even dinner with Paula and the kids?  Since V is Italian, we are having lasagna tomorrow, then going to our neighbors’ on Christmas day.  The day after we will celebrate with Cindy, V’s sister, since she is working both Christmas and Christmas Eve.

When I was growing up we had turkey for every holiday.  Grandpa or Dad was in charge of the roaster oven and carving the turkey.  Mom ran interference with the grandmas in the kitchen.  Grandma Golda was a LITTLE bossy.  Her mother, Grandma Newkirk said, “Golda, I think I know how to put butter in the refrigerator!”  Randy and I stayed out of the way, playing outside, testing the turkey as it was being carved, playing with new presents –  if Dad wasn’t already playing with them.  And, of course, we posed for pictures.

So from our home to yours,  Merry Christmas, and Happy New Years.

Lots of love,

Marsha Lee & V :)

For more ideas and beautiful pictures of Christmas take a look at Jakesprinters.  He always welcomes everyone to share with him.  He’ll tell you all the rules.  :)



Day Trip In Search of Snow

Thanks for nominating me!!!
Thank you Ivon for nominating me!!!

Thank you Ivon for adding star number 5 to my blog of 2012 award.  One more to go, and I’ve got them all.  Thanks to all of you who have helped me accumulate 13,500 views on my site.

We got up Sunday morning to absolutely sparkly blue skies, and cool temperatures.  It was a perfect day for a trip to the mountains.  I wanted to see snow up close and personal.  In the summer here the weather changes very little, but in the winter it can change from minute to minute.  Before it changed too much V, Kalev and I hopped into the car and headed for the hills.  My goal was to get to Sequoia National Park, and play in the snow.

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake014The trip up to the park was distracting.  “Pull over right here, V.  I want to snap a picture of rock outcroppings.”

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“Stop, stop, stop. right here V.  There’s a great picture of a horse for Auty.”

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“Look at that view, V.  Don’t you think I should take that?  SToooooop!!!”

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“Thanks V.  I’m ready now.”  Both V and Kalev were VERY patient

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I do want to stop at Kaweah Lake and take a few pictures.  OK?

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Now that’s what I’m talking about.  I can’t believe that I thought this was ugly when I first moved here.  Right now it is at its lowest levels.  You can see the high-level water mark on the side of the hill.  When the rains come, and the snows melt, the lake behind Terminus Dam builds up.  If the Corps of Engineers doesn’t keep it empty now, it could conceivably break the dam built in 1955.  Before that time our valley was subject to extreme droughts most years, then huge floods every 7-10 years that bathed all the valley towns in several feet of fast-flowing, tree and rock-laden river waters.

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We pulled into the Tulare County Boat Safety Patrol Lake Kaweah Office parking lot, saw a friend of V’s, and took some pictures.  The flag was flying at half-mast in honor of victims of the Newtown, Connecticut shooting.

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Terminus Dam
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“No, no Puppy Girl. Mommy doesn’t want to climb back UP those stairs.” – ML
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I’ll bring you back here this spring, and you’ll wonder how those cars could have ever been driving down there. ML

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake052 TC Drive to Kaweah Lake055 TC Drive to Kaweah Lake076Then we headed up the road in search of snow.  Almost immediately we came to Horse Creek Bridge.  When I was teaching, just before summer vacation one year, a young woman came to speak to our 4th graders about swimming safety.

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Like many other youngsters, when summer came, she went with her friends and took turns jumping off Horse Creek Bridge into the water below.  Of course, there’s a lot more water in the summer.

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Nonetheless, the rocks are still there, buried, and impossible to judge.  She hit her head, and broke her neck.

TC Drive to Kaweah Lake082 The jump paralyzed her for life at age 19.

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We drove up to Slick Rock, a popular place to swim in the summer.

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Kalev was thankful for a chance to explore.

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Mom and Dad weren’t paying much attention to her.  Good thing she had on her leash!

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Plenty of green grass. Don’t look Dad! About time we get to explore something besides pavement!  This is MORE like it. OK, I’m done now, Dad. DAD! I said I’m DONE. LET”S MOVE IT!   COME ON! – K
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Finally, there’s a lot to sniff here . – K
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I could make it down this little slope, but Dad said no. If he’d just LOSE this leash! – K
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I could climb those. He’s not being reasonable with this leash thing. MMMM, What’s this smell? -K
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Dad seems preoccupied with this view. I don’t know what the big deal is. I could just run around if he’d just unsnap my leash. – K
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Mom doesn’t even care. Do you think SHE is going to climb those rocks. hahaha Last time she tried something like that she smashed her camera lens when she tripped. LOL  BUT I COULD BE CLIMBING THOSE ROCKS!  DAD, LET ME GO!  -K
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I wonder how I could get his attention? – K
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There, these did the trick! Now he’s looking.  He’s bending down.  He’ll unsnap my leash now.  Ouch DAD! You’re pulling my hair!  I don’t have much, hair, and … What are you doing?  Leave those burs in my back alone. They aren’t bothering anyone! – K
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Great, now he’s called Mom over. She never gives up on these things. OUUUUUCH! MOM! Why don’t they just go back to their sightseeing? – K

V came unglued.  I struggled with my bandaged thumb to pull out burs for about the next 15 minutes.  Finally we were down to the last three, but they weren’t budging.  Then one more to go.  It was almost in her mouth, and needed to be cut out.  About that time, the park ranger drove up.  I got out of the car and asked if he had any scissors.  He did!  We cut the last bur out, bit by bit.  Kalev was such a good girl.  She did jerk her head a bit, but never a yelp or a snap. In the end it took both V and me to hold her head still while Ranger Bill snipped out the bur.  Here’s a FAQ for you about burs.  “The bur of burdock was the inspiration for Velcro.”  Wikipedia

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That wasn’t so bad. Maybe Ranger Bill will let me down to run around. – K

Kalev was very grateful to Ranger Bill.

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Our next stop was Horse Creek Campground.

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You can see how exposed the tree roots are because of the higher level of the water in the spring and early summer.  That means the campground is under water, and we wouldn’t be driving on this road.

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Dad, put me down. Mom’s leaving us.  MOM, you forgot me!  Do you see that grass? What’s a Pac-Man? – K

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Across the road I spotted Pac-Man hanging out at Horse Creek Campground.

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Can you tell how old this tree is?  Me either, the rings are too small for me to count, but it’s dead now.  After one last shot for Toemail, we were ready to leave. The blue skies suddenly turned gray, we were tired, and we never drove high enough to reach snow.  We decided to go back home and wait for the snow to come down to us.  It was a relatively quick trip, and we thought of many other reasons to come back.  It was a great date.  People come from all over the world to visit the Sequoia National Park, home of the biggest trees in the world.  We didn’t make it up that far today.

So if you come visit us, we’ll make the entire trip to the Sequoias without all the distractions because you will have seen them already.  Or maybe you’d like the distractions, too.

What do you think?  With or without distractions?

BTW, my proof reader suggested that burs is burrs.  Actually both is correct.  I looked it up, and decided to opt for the space saving spelling of burs.

Featured Blog

Rumpy Dog seems like an appropriate blog to spotlight here.  You probably already know him, he has 6,874 followers already.  I get his FB updates, and he’s been really good this year.  Well, most of the time.  Though a little garbage rubbish strewing is no BIG deal, Jen.  Rump’s friend Atticus writes to Santa Rumpy from Canada, and sends pictures.  Some of Rumpy’s friends dress up for Christmas.


If you don’t already know about Rumpy, you won’t want to miss the Dear Santa letters, and the many doggie tails tales that Santa Dog hears.

I think he might already be opening his presents.  I just read on FB that we wants a dinosaur, and this one seems in jeopardy of being opened.

My dear friend Marvin sent me this card.  I’ll pass it on because it’s so cute!

He also sent me this video, and it seems appropriate for this post as well, and a perfect ending to a busy day.

When you feel like you’ve had enough!

Do you have a pet?  They might want to write to Rumpy Dog.  Or, they can write to Kalev, and she’s love to meet them, too.  Either way, please write to me.  I love comments.