Sunday Stills: #Light the Night

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”

Ann Frank

Depending on where you live geographically, the holidays invoke a variety of emotions and feelings. Some of us enjoy a white Christmas or festive winter holiday while others are celebrating the holidays in the warmth of full summer. Not only are the holidays a source of wonder and joy as we look forward to the celebrations with family and friends, but also a source of anxiety and even depression for some folks.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”

Desmond Tutu

A Little SAD

I am known to suffer from mild Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, a temporary condition caused by lack of sunlight. I know…I purposely moved north from sunnier northern California, but I still had bouts of SAD while living there. But now that I recognize the symptoms of depression, I’m better prepared and can feel it coming on. I wrote about my experiences with SAD in this post.

Luckily, during the daylight hours, we see the sun peeking out and that is when I try to get outside for a few moments and let that light flood my eyes which stimulates the pituitary gland to change the brain’s chemicals linked to mood.

All that said, in the northern hemisphere, as days continue to shorten and nights lengthen, most of us look for ways to light up the night.

This is a close-up of my outdoor trees all lit up, backdropped against the actual trees in the distance, and the two trees in the snow.

As this is my second Christmas/winter here in the Spokane, Washington area, I have plenty to look forward to which helps keep things interesting and fun! But I will have to be ready when the February doldrums strike!

Lighting with Holiday and Winter Decor

Another way I can ward off the effects of seasonal affective disorder is to decorate the interior of my home. Once Christmas decor is put away, I will have various winter scenes and white florals around my home. Decorating is a fun leisure activity and brings me joy. In our new home, we have four transom windows (typically found above entry doors). Three are situated in our main bedroom and bring in more light. These areas make a surprisingly interesting way to display decor. Here is my current holiday decor over our front door.

transom light decor

I had random decorations to use and these stained glass tealight candle holders allow the light to come through.

Just this Thursday, it snowed most of the day, snarling traffic and closing some outdoor events in Spokane. I stayed home and took pictures! This is how I light the night in the front yard. I’m still amazed at how much light my camera lens grabs, especially with the snow reflecting the light. There is something quite serene in seeing winter snow lit up at night.

Lighting the night from within and outdoors

Many of you asked more about my holiday decorations. I managed to take a video from my phone and save it to YouTube (thanks, Hugh, for the suggestion)! Welcome to Christmas at my house!

Lighting the Night

The winter solstice is December 21, marking the northern hemisphere’s shortest day of the year. The good news is now we will gain one minute a day of sunlight until June! Meanwhile, the moon lights the night!

“It is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars.”

Richard Evans

A few more ways to light the night:

Photo Challenges this Week

Each week I am inspired by my fellow bloggers’ photo challenges. I find it fun to incorporate these into my Sunday Stills weekly themes.

Marsha’s Writers Quotes Wednesday: Candles or Lights
Cee’s Flower of the Day
Johnbo’s CellPic Sunday
Jude’s Life in Color: Kaleidoscope
Lens-Artists: Serene

Sunday Stills Photo Challenge Reminders

Sunday Stills weekly challenge is easy to join. You have until December 23 to share and link your post to this one.

  • Please create a new post for the theme or link a recent one.
  • Tag your post “Sunday Stills.”
  • Title your blog post a little differently than mine.
  • Don’t forget to create a pingback to this post so that other participants can read your post. I also recommend adding your post’s URL into the comments.
  • Entries for this theme can be posted all week.

Please share your links by Dec 23 if you can as I am going on a break until January 9th. I would like to include your links in the current post while people are still reading rather than waiting for the January 9th post. However, I will include any in that post that miss the deadline. I might hop in for the January “Bloganuary” Challenge for a few days, too.

This is the last post of 2021 as I take a short break for the holidays. Please join me on January 9th with a look back on your photography highlights and your 2021 year in review. Meanwhile, follow me on my social media pages:

To see more of my images and other news, consider following Terri on Social Media by clicking the icons:

image from Color Planet

Wishing you all the most magical season filled with love and laughter! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from my family to yours. “See” you on January 9th!


© 2021-2022 Copyright — — All Rights Reserved

Sunday Stills Monthly Color Challenge: #Metallic Taste

Christmas tree ornaments

This is our last color challenge for 2021 and we’re going out with a bang—metallic! Just in time for holiday decorating. Nothing says festive like silver bells, gold stars, and coppery tree ornaments. If you decorate a Christmas tree, I imagine you’ll find a few metallic objects readily available to photograph.

Christmas tree ornaments

As for “metallic taste” in my title, I hope you get the reference to decorating, although this challenge does not have to include décor in any way! I always leave the theme to your clever imaginations. There is something metallic in each image shared today.

My Festive Bon-Bons

Marsha’s Writer’s Quotes Wednesday challenge is “festive,” and I’m keeping it so with all this metallic “color!”

Festive Bon-Bon Banner

Today, I am also participating in a seasonal link-up challenge “Festive Bon-Bons,” co-hosted by Deb’s World, Retirement Reflections, and Women Living Well After 50.

Following are a series of questions and answers describing my bon-bon preferences.

“I love Christmas, because I can point and scream, ‘HO! HO! HO!’ and claim I was just being festive.”


Christmas Favorites

Christmas Tree – do you have one, when does it go up, who decorates it, is there a theme or is it miss-matched? This year, our tree was finally put up after 12 years of languishing in its box. I started putting each branch together on this 9-foot tree before Thanksgiving at the end of November. It was up and decorated by Dec 1st! With a larger home, I have a second, smaller tree in our family room.

2021 Christmas Tree

“Colored lights blink on and off, racing across the green boughs. Their reflections dance across exquisite glass globes and splinter into shards against tinsel thread and garlands of metallic filaments that disappear underneath the other ornaments and finery.”

Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

I also love to decorate for any holiday. Here are some metallic Christmas decorations in the house…

metal Christmas decor
faux holly

Swirls of antique stained glass, blazes of brass, forests of carved wood and waterfalls of crystal combine to make up the city’s most fabulously festive interior.

Mimi Sheraton

Christmas traditions? If I’ve learned anything about holiday traditions is that they are not always “traditional” in the sense of the word. When my girls were young and went to their Dad’s home on Christmas Day, we celebrated on Christmas Eve with my family who would travel from San Diego to Sacramento each year. On Christmas Day we went to the movies! When I met Hans in 2009, we traveled each year to San Diego where both sets of families resided, until 2020, when we moved to Washington.

patiently waiting for Christmas in San Diego
Christmas in San Diego, CA means a trip to the beach

This year, new traditions are being made.

Last Sunday a local bar sponsored a Christmas Tree Lighting event in our town square area. Vendors sold holiday goodies including hot cider. We needed it while we strolled in the 24F temps before the tree was lighted.

Tree lighting selfie
Christmas Tree Lighting Selfie

We hope this is an annual event and the beginning of new holiday traditions. Now that we are connected to the school district with our part-time substitute jobs (me teaching and Hans maintaining facilities ), we learned of a special concert performed by the high school band/orchestra this week. A free concert featuring Christmas music on a public school campus? Yes, please! Other local events are coming up as well as family events. A definite festive start to December, with snow on the ground for seasoning!

Christmas memories? Keeping things in the present, December 14th marks the day we landed in Spokane, WA in 2020 and started a whole new life. How has it been a year already? We spent a quiet Christmas with my brother-in-law while we stayed in his home for a few weeks. We enjoyed a nice meal and listened to German Polka music and other Christmas songs. With just the four of us (covid restrictions were still in full swing, preventing families from gathering comfortably) it was mostly quiet. On Christmas night it snowed, and I was amazed how much light reflected off the snow.

Bright Snowy Night
Late Christmas Night 2020

Christmas Entertainment

Christmas carols – yes or no, faves? Traditional or modern. YES! My love for music is in my DNA. I enjoy just about every Christmas carol and hymns. My Spotify playlists featuring Christmas songs are quite extensive and include traditional pop, quiet instrumental, and music associated with movie themes. As many of you may have read, I hosted the Holiday song lyric photo challenge last week and learned a few new songs from other Sunday Stills participants! Of course, I love “Silver Bells” and Lindsey Stirling’s violin version of “Celtic Carol,” but I also love Josh Groban’s theme song to Polar Express.

Christmas books – any faves you want to tell us about? My reading preferences are extensive but for Christmas, I enjoy a good Debbie Macomber novel, and Mrs. Miracle novels come to mind.

Charlie Brown Christmas

Christmas movies – any you watch year after year? We are Hallmark Channel Christmas movie watchers and are thankful we can enjoy these through our satellite TV, since our internet is too inconsistent to stream video for now. I enjoy the Jim Carrey version of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, but the original TV show version of The Grinch never fails to make me weep as the townspeople of Whoville gather and sing, even without their presents and feast. And it’s not Christmas if I miss A Charlie Brown Christmas or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (TV shows).

Holiday Food

Expanding on new traditions, I got a stand mixer for my birthday. I have witnesses now that I made my first pumpkin pie in it!

Stand mixer

Christmas cake – yes or no? Nope, just in case you mean fruitcake.
Chocolate, nuts or fruit? Chocolate. Any. Time. Of. Year
What’s on the table? We are heading to a huge family Christmas Eve feast!

Metallic Holiday Decor
My sister-in-law’s festive table with metallic candlesticks

At the End of the day…All I want for Christmas is… normalcy. We are getting there.

Photo Challenges this Week

Each week I am inspired by my fellow bloggers’ photo challenges. I find it fun to incorporate these into my Sunday Stills weekly themes. In addition to Festive Bon-Bon Challenge and Marsha’s WQW challenges, I want to share my sincere thank-you to Dawn at The Day After for her many weeks of hosting 2021 Festival of Leaves. She shares a great wrap-up.

Sunday Stills Photo Challenge Reminders

The Sunday Stills weekly challenge is easy to join. You have all week to share and link your post.

  • Please create a new post for the theme or link a recent one.
  • Tag your post “Sunday Stills.”
  • Title your blog post a little differently than mine.
  • Don’t forget to create a pingback to this post so that other participants can read your post. I also recommend adding your post’s URL into the comments.
  • Entries for this theme can be posted all week.

Musical Earworms Left By Last Week’s Bloggers

Sunday Stills is a wonderful community of bloggers and photographers who desire to connect with one another. Below are the last week’s links from bloggers who shared their favorite holiday song lyrics with photos.

Always Write

Beach Walk Reflections

Bushboys World

Calling All Rush Babes

Cats and Trails and Garden Tales

The Day After

Deb’s World

Easin’ Along Image shared in comments

Equipoise Life

Graham’s Island

Hugh’s Views and News Image in Comments

Light Write Life

Loving Life

Musin’ With Susan

Natalie the Explorer

Priorhouse Blog

Retirement Reflections Image shared in comments

Stevie Turner

The Southwest Rambler

Travel With Me

Travels and Trifles

Wind Kisses

Woolly Muses

Working on Exploring

To see more of my images and other news, consider following Terri on Social Media by clicking the icons:

Next Sunday, Dec 19th will be the last post of 2021 as I take a short break for the holidays. Please join me as we “light the night!” Sunday Stills will be back on January 9th with a look back on your photography highlights and your 2021 year in review.


© 2021-2022 Copyright — — All Rights Reserved

Sunday Stills: Christmas #Song Lyric Photo Challenge

Silver Bells on the Christmas Tree

Welcome to the holiday version of the Sunday Stills Song Lyric Photo Challenge!

The idea of this challenge is to match images related to your favorite song lyrics. If this is unclear, it might be best to think of your favorite song(s) and highlight some lyrics with your new or existing photos that help tell the story.

Also, to avoid copyright infringements of published lyrics, only post a few lines rather than the entire song. If you write poetry or your own songs, you can certainly use your work for this theme!

To see how the challenge works, here are examples from Always Write and my example from this summer’s song lyric challenge post.

Celebrating the Holidays!

Now that we are celebrating the winter holidays, think of your favorite holiday music or poem. I am choosing the song Silver Bells.

“Silver Bells” is a popular Christmas song composed by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. It was sung in the generally known version by Bob Hope and Marilyn Maxwell in the motion picture The Lemon Drop Kid, which was filmed in July and August 1950 and released in March 1951. Since then, artists like Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, and the Judds, to name a few. Source

My favorite is Anne Murray’s version. I feel a real sense of nostalgia as I listen to the joyful lyrics that describe people preparing for Christmas.

Silver Bells

Winter streets of Coeur D'Alene
Snow falls in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks
Dressed in holiday style

Holiday Christmas Lights

In the air, there’s a feeling
Of Christmas.

Festive Porch lights

Children laughing, people passing
Meeting smile after smile…

Seeing the Lights
Japanese Exchange student and I enjoyed the Christmas lights in 2018

…And on every street corner, you’ll hear
Silver bells…

Christmas tree ornaments

It’s Christmas time in the city
Hear them ring
Soon it will be Christmas Day.

Strings of streetlights, even stoplights
Blink of bright red and green

Red and Green Holiday Decor

Hear the snow crunch
See the kids bunch

This is Santa’s big scene…

Silver bells
Silver bells
It’s Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring
Soon it will be Christmas Day!

Silver Bells on the Christmas Tree
Silver Bells on the Christmas Tree

Silver Bells © 1950 Copyright Writers Ray Evans, Jay Livingston; Sung by Anne Murray 1987

A Wordless Celtic Carol

Lindsey Stirling in Concert
Lindsey Stirling in Concert

Even though there are no lyrics to this, who needs them when you watch this performance by Lindsey Stirling! So impressed was I with her electric violin, when the opportunity came to see her perform in concert in Sacramento during Thanksgiving weekend in 2018, we jumped on it, got great seats, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! Below is the YouTube version from CMT Country Christmas.

‘Tis the Season

“At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”

― Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express

Part of this wonderfully and sometimes chaotic season includes birthdays–mine! I turned the Big 6-2 on Saturday, Dec 4th. For many in the US, age 62 traditionally marks the first year one can receive social security benefits and/or retire from full-time employment. Both my 62-year-old hubby and I are waiting until at least 67 to draw on the benefits. Meanwhile, we still know how to play!

celebrating a birthday
60th Birthday Celebration in 2019

Don’t forget to make time for yourselves this holiday season, and “play” as Marsha suggests in this week’s Writers’ Quotes Wednesdays challenge. Listening to holiday music, walking outdoors, stopping to sip hot cocoa, or even playing with your children/grandchildren is good medicine for our holiday-weary (or covid-weary) souls!

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

George Bernard Shaw
Tree Lighting poster

Tonight, hubby and I are going to an old-fashioned Christmas Tree Lighting a few miles away in the main town of Nine Mile Falls.

Photo Challenges this Week

Each week I am inspired by my fellow bloggers’ photo challenges. I find it fun to incorporate these into my Sunday Stills weekly themes, when possible. As I attempt to connect my images to other challenges this week, I fell short. No flowers or leaves, unless my faux tree and the scene in Balboa Park qualify! In any case, please visit me fellow challangers and play along this week!

Alway’s Write Writers Quotes Wednesday: Toys or Play
Cee’s Flower of the Day
Dawn’s Festival of Leaves
Johnbo’s CellPic Sunday
Jude’s Life in Color: Kaleidoscope

Lens-Artists Challenge: Celebrate

Sunday Stills is a wonderful community of bloggers and photographers who desire to connect with one another. Below are the last week’s links from bloggers who shared their coziest photos.

Beach Walk Reflections

Cats and Trails and Garden Tales

Cath’s Camera

Easin’ Along Image shared in comments

Frost on the Moose Dung

Graham’s Island

Green Dreams

Hugh’s Views and News Image in Comments


A Birthday Post for Me! Light Words

Loving Life

NEW Manny’s Adventures

Musin’ With Susan

Picture Retirement

Philosophy Through Photography

Retirement Reflections Image shared on Instagram

Robert’s Snap Spot

Stevie Turner

This is Another Story

Travel With Me

Une photo, un poème

Woolly Muses

Working on Exploring

Sunday Stills Photo Challenge Reminders

  • Please create a new post for the theme or link a recent one.
  • Tag your post “Sunday Stills.”
  • Title your blog post a little differently than mine.
  • Don’t forget to create a pingback to this post so that other participants can read your post. I also recommend adding your post’s URL into the comments.
  • Entries for this theme can be posted all week.

To see more of my images and other news, consider following Terri on Social Media by clicking the icons:

Sunday Stills weekly photo challenge is easy to join. You have all week to share and link your post. I look forward to your favorite holiday songs highlighted with some of your new or favorite photos. Have a wonderful week!


© 2021-2022 Copyright — — All Rights Reserved

Sunday Stills: Holiday #Décor with Optional Red and Green

As we near Christmas and other traditional holidays, no doubt you have managed to decorate your home or yard.

Yard decor for Winter Wonders
Neighbor’s Christmas Scene

I adjusted my holiday travel plans a bit which means I combined this week’s theme, Holiday Decor, with what would have been next week’s theme, Something Red or Green. See end of the post for more details.

Since being with my husband for the last 10 Christmases, I don’t decorate much since we travel to Southern California to spend time with our family, including our combined five children; four who now live there. We also travel for another two weeks since we both can easily take time off from our jobs in January. Taking down Christmas decorations in mid-January is just wrong, although I know many folks who keep their holiday décor up through epiphany 12 days after Christmas and beyond.

Even my university campus decks its halls with holiday décor. Ginkgo trees adorn many areas of campus, and I’m told their small, fan-shaped leaves fall in big batches. The campus groundskeepers and interested alumni team up to rake the leaves into interesting patterns. A red Jump bike and festive flag add to the festive scene.

Campus Decor For Fall

This year, with Thanksgiving arriving later in November, many holiday decorations were already up and gracing the homes of friends and family. My sister-in-law hosted Thanksgiving and had a house full of people, so she put hers up early.

I took some photos of her wonderful décor to share. She has room to display her whimsical miniature villages. The key to capturing these creatively is to get very close with your lens to get the sense of being inside the village. I applied the Painnt filter to the first and third images.

Christmas Village
Inside a Christmas Village
Christmas Village
Nostalgic, snowy scene

These miniature toys decorated a friend’s house last Christmas. Doesn’t it remind you of the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV Christmas special and the island of misfit toys?

Miniature Christmas Toys
The island of misfit toys?

Then, of course, there are the lights!


Please welcome a new blogger to Sunday Stills, Life is Great!

I don’t often get to link with Weekly Lens-Artist Challenge; “display” seems to fit the theme this week!

This week, show us your creative holiday decor with optional red and green!

Christmas red berries

Due to our Winter Road Trip Do-Over, today is the last Sunday Stills post of 2019. I will be taking a blogging break beginning this week through January 17, resuming Sunday Stills on my blog on January 19. Thank you to all who have contributed to the Sunday Stills Photo Challenge in 2019!

Fellow blogger Hugh Roberts is graciously hosting Sunday Stills on January 5 and 12, so be sure to visit. January themes are posted here.

I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a glorious start to 2020!


© 2019-2020 Copyright-All rights

About Sunday Stills Photo Challenge–Please Read!

SundayStills Graphic

Sunday Stills is moving in January!

SundayStills Graphic


But don’t fret!

While I take an extended travel break, the Sunday Stills photo challenge is being temporarily hosted by bloggers Carol Carlisle and Hugh Roberts. Please follow their blogs to keep up with the weekly challenge!

Carol is hosting January 6 and 13, find her blog here.

Hugh is hosting January 20 and 27, find his blog here.

Visit my Sunday Stills page for the list of themes.

Reminder there is no Sunday Stills challenge for Dec. 30th.

I am spending Christmas with family in the San Diego area. If my schedule is on track, I should be on the road to Phoenix, Arizona at the time this post publishes.

This is my official blogging break for the entire month of January, while my husband and dogs travel to Northern Arizona on a 10-day road trip. Since we are traveling with our trailer and camping, Internet access may be unavailable.

Upon my return, I will have lots of new photos to edit, as well as to plan February’s Sunday Stills’ themes. The university’s spring semester begins the third week, so I will be prepping for that. But don’t be surprised if I stop by and visit your blogs when I can!

Happy New Year and best wishes to all for a fabulous 2019!





Sunday Stills: Something #Red

Sunday Stills Red Graphic

During the holiday season, it is nearly impossible to find something red to photograph, right?


While I prefer green, the reds of the season lend a dramatic contrast to white snow, lush evergreens, and cold, dreamy blues!

I had planned my usual macros (see below), which are always fun to photograph and edit!

But by kismet and luck, my featured image below (also shared for Becky B’s timesquare) is my attempt at a wedding photo of our dear, next door neighbors who held their wedding in their backyard last week! My hubby thought I should take a couple of photos of them and have the image printed on canvas as a wedding gift.

Wedding photo

Instead of purchasing other artists’ prints, I found this website to print my own images onto canvas or acrylic. In addition to this wedding photo, I had three of my favorites made into canvas prints to be framed (or not) and hung on my own walls. I use CanvasDiscount (no affiliate here, just a satisfied customer!).

It is doubtful I would explore wedding photography as a profession, but I am more than pleased at how this one turned out. At the time of this post, they have not yet received their surprise gift! They chose not to have a dedicated photographer at the wedding, so I was so glad to make this portrait of them!

Now for more reds!

Whether or not your image is holiday-themed, show us something red for Sunday Stills!

Sunday Stills Red Graphic

This post is my last Sunday Stills post of 2018! There is no challenge on December 30.

As I will be traveling extensively during the last week in December and first two weeks in January, Sunday Stills will be hosted by Hugh and Carol. More details on my Sunday Stills Page.

Thank you for a fabulous 2018 with Sunday Stills! I wish you Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!



Sunday Stills: #Festive!

Festive Graphic

Nothing is more festive than the decorations and lights people use for their holiday celebrations!

That is our theme for this week’s Sunday Stills photo challenge!

Last week we looked at traditions as we explored Christmas light displays in some of the neighborhoods with my darling Japanese exchange student! Here are some images.

Festive Purple Lights

Quick selfie with Ayaka! There were a lot of people enjoying the lights!

Seeing the Lights

A festive wreath adorns Pacific Beach’s Crystal Pier at Christmas time, even as surfers hit the waves.

Wreath on Pier

A festive pic of Aero from a couple of years ago! He thinks he is a gift (and he is!).

Aero thinks he is a gift...he is!

What puts you in a festive mood?



December #Sentence A Day: Reflecting Upon a Busy Month

Sentence a Day December

Sentence a Day December

I am very happy to be able to participate in December’s Sentence a Day link-ups. Rather than bore you with each of my sentences, in which some appear repetitive (all 31 of them for December), I am theming them and presenting some of them under each heading. I journaled each day using the phone app Write A Day so I could organize my thoughts and remember each day’s activities. At the bottom of the post is the link to visit other bloggers who shared their Sentence A Day posts.

It’s a Dog’s Life

Terri and AeroIf you have followed my blog for a bit, you know I am enamored with my two dogs, Aero and Brodie. 

Having dogs can take up more time than one might imagine. We are used to traveling with them, they are not large dogs, but they still take up most of the back seat of my Toyota Rav4 with Aero’s booster safety seat and Brodie’s harness. Since we will leave for Hawaii from San Diego, I had to plan months ahead for where they were going to stay while we are gone. There are other dogs in both homes where we stayed. Navigating each dog owners’ preferences took some doing and coordinating.

Last June, 6-month old Brodie bit my brother’s older dog’s ear in self-defense, so he was not keen on having Brodie stay at his house while we are in Hawaii. I worked it out so that Aero will stay with my brother and his two small dogs, and Brodie will be boarded at a nearby home doggie day care.

This whole scenario caused me an amazing amount of anxiety because of the uncertainty with what to do with the dogs. At one point, I was ready to drive back to Sacramento and drop Brodie off at a friend’s house who has a female dog of the same breed. Now I’m convinced that Brodie will love hanging out with dogs his age and size and am finally at peace about it. It was hard to feel a bit unwelcome in my families’ homes because of Brodie.

Here are my thoughts about the dogs this month:

  • Fri Dec 1 So happy to restart the Sentence a Day challenge. My little dog Aero is not feeling well, so off to the vet we go! Turned out he was dehydrated and needed treatment. $250 later, the lab results were still inconclusive, but he bounced back.
  • Sat Dec 2 Good times at the SPCA PUP Crawl also known as the #jinglebell walk event co-coordinated by one of my students! Spent the afternoon with my hubby, dogs, and a friend and his dog.
  • Sun Dec 10 Brodie is one-year old today! Spent a relaxing Sunday writing and blogging.
  • Tues Dec 12 Took both dogs to the vet early to have procedures done. I planned this during finals week since I didn’t have to be on campus. Brodie needed to be neutered (a dog license in my city for an “intact” male dog costs $300 a year, compared to $15 a year for pets that are spayed or neutered). While they were getting their services done, I met up with a fellow NorCal blogger today for coffee, Cathleen Townsend .
  • Wed Dec 13 I stayed home today as planned while the dogs convalesced. Brodie was snipped and Aero had a teeth cleaning. Nice to get both done at once, but Brodie did NOT like the “cone of shame” and struggled for several days.
  • Sat Dec 16 Spent a busy Saturday packing and prepping for three weeks down South and away from home. Brodie’s surgical site is slowly healing and we are all coping! At the time of this post, he is back to “normal.”

I am very grateful for my family and happy they are all dog lovers, regardless of the logistics in traveling with our dogs.


Stack of papers to be graded
Stack of papers to be graded

My university schedule wound down in December. Papers were graded, and in two of my classes, students shared their oral presentations, leaving me with no lectures the last week. I am busily preparing for my new class that begins in late January. Some of my thoughts are as follows:

  • Tues Dec 5 Grades for one class done!
  • Wed Dec 6 My last Wednesday morning class. I won’t miss the early 6am alarm or the traffic!
  • Fri Dec 8 My last day teaching RPTA 100 (leisure Lifestyle development). I won’t miss the large class sizes (81 this semester) but I will miss the “aha” moments from students who finally get how important leisure is in their lives.
  • Fri Dec 15 I am officially on vacation for the semester, having put in the final, official grades. In an interesting school-related note, tonight, Hubby and his friend went to watch our old high school football team (Helix High School) play in the CIF Section playoffs against a local Sacramento team. How cool is that? Helix lost 42 to Folsom HS 47, but it was a great game according to hubby.
  • Mon Dec 18 Breakfast today with a fellow professor. We are both “retired annuitants” so we understand each other! Spent a good part of the day prepping the new spring class and feeling better about getting closer to being done! Made a list to be sure to bring all of my new class’ items to work on over the next three weeks while we are gone.

I am very blessed to have this part-time lecturer position that supplements my pension. And I am grateful the Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration department has faith in me as I continue teaching in my three-year contract. I am glad my boss sees the value that we “pracademics” (practitioners who now teach) can bring to the students going into the field of recreation and leisure.

Holiday Hub-Bub

Christmas OrnamentsI’ve read many posts in December about how more folks are changing long-standing holiday traditions and/or simplifying their holidays. Because we inevitably travel away from home for the holidays, we have had to simplify certain functions. I mostly utilize online shopping which allows me to ship packages to where we stay, or shipped to me and wrapped there.

I love decorating and usually start in early December, but with us being gone for as long as three weeks, I now decorate minimally—which means no tree most years.

I got in the habit of using my photos for wallpaper/background for my computers and devices. I can carry my Christmas decorations with me wherever I go!

Some more thoughts on the “holidaze” (spelled wrong on purpose):

  • Sun Dec 3 Beautiful, cold but sunny Sunday to be in church for the first day of Advent.
  • Sat Dec 9 Spent the morning with hubby in retail therapy buying a smart TV and other tech gadgets. Oh, and a couple of Christmas gifts for others, too!
  • Thur Dec 14 The frenzy begins as we prepare for travel and being gone for three weeks. Early start to a busy day…exercise, blog post prep, weigh-in, dog license, some last-minute shopping which included a Costco run! Whew!
  • Sun Dec 17 A beautiful choir presentation at church for the third Sunday of Advent. Their version of “Mary, Did You Know?” left me weeping and I remember why I miss singing in the choir. Such a blessing!
  • Tues Dec 19 My unofficial spa day as I continue to prep for the holidays—great workout, facial, then pedicure. Ahhh!
  • Thur Dec 21 Packed, blog posted and ready for publishing. Now bring on the travel and the holidays! We leave tomorrow!
  • Sun Dec 24 Karaoke singing on Christmas Eve is a new tradition we’ve enjoyed the last three years.
  • Mon Dec 25 Merry Christmas from my brother’s house! We had brunch with the family while the kids threw paper around. The medical transport brought my mom over from the nursing home, so we could spend some quality time with her. Christmas Round two was spent with our combined adult children. Hubby cooked a wonderful tri-tip and it was nice to wind the busy day down quietly.

My hubby and I are content to share our time with our families, our adult children and their significant others, as well as simply enjoying each other’s’ company during Christmas.

Not So Mundane

Sitting by the Pool in December
My brother’s new backyard

Other than Christmas and New Year’s Eve, December presented several days of fun and unusual events.  This was also the first time we stayed at my brother’s new house and enjoyed his wonderful backyard. Here are some of the experiences we had:

  • Mon Dec 4 Happy birthday to me! I’m two years from 60, but feel like 40. Hubby brought home a German Chocolate cake from our favorite bakery. Not sure if I love him or hate him …
  • Thurs Dec 7 Weight Watchers changed their points system again calling it “Freestyle.” Seems like it might be better with more “free” foods like chicken breast, beans, corn and peas, things I love and normally eat! When I heard about this from a member I was ready to resist. Moral of the story? Attend meetings with an open mind!
  • Tues Dec 26 Are you a “day-after-Christmas shopper” looking for hot deals? I used to wake up early to hit the malls, then decided I was over it, and like Black Friday, I now avoid the after-Christmas sales. That evening we all went to see the movie “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” It did not disappoint. I watched the first Star Wars movie when it originally aired in 1977. Forty years of Star Wars, are you kidding me? Lots of nostalgia for both my hubby and me, as we recalled being in our senior year of high school (Helix reference again) when we saw the original.
  • Wed Dec 27 Finally went to the gym to work off all these extra treats. We spent part of the afternoon on my oldest daughter’s last day (visiting from San Francisco Bay area) at the Ocean beach dog park.

I am grateful for the fun and interesting times I have in my life, where leisure and other events balance out my days. The month of December itself can be a whirlwind of activities amidst holiday planning and gatherings, and while we have come to expect the hub-bub, those exceptional events that pop up make for even more lasting memories.

The Road Less Traveled

As I mentioned earlier, we always travel for Christmas since most of our families live either in San Diego or the Pacific Northwest. Spending the holidays in San Diego is never a problem for us because the weather is at least 10 degrees warmer than in Sacramento. It can be quite cool in San Diego, but during Christmas week, Southern California experienced a heat wave that broke many long-standing heat records. As I write this post after New Year’s the temperatures have dropped off significantly, but still no rain.

I’m glad we are traveling to Hawaii from San Diego because we had to pack clothing and other things for a week in Hawaii. I broke out the shorts and tank tops for a few days as the heat wave continued. Boots and sweaters languished together in the closet, virtually unworn.

We have come to love the month of January for the time we can both take off from work. Once the fall semester is over for me in mid-December, classes do not start up again until late January, giving me nearly 6 weeks of time off. Hubby works a lot of overtime between April and September and racks up comp time. With all the pools closed for the winter, he can usually take a few weeks off using up that time as paid vacation. No complaints here.

SpaceX Launch
SpaceX Launched 10 satellites into space from Southern California

Staying in San Diego does involve some driving time. Here are some of my thoughts about traveling by car:

  • Fri Dec 22 Our road trip south took 10.5 hours. We made good time the first 4 hours with little traffic. But we hit LA and lurched through stop and go traffic for 6 plus hours (and it was my turn to drive). We arrived at 4:30 unpacked our ridiculously over-packed car, changed clothes and headed for a family dinner at 6pm. But on the way there—we saw this in the sky!! Space X launched 10 satellites from Vandenberg AFB in Palm Desert area of Southern California.



I shared this photo on Instagram. I figured it was Santa taking a dry run to break in a couple of his new reindeer.

  • Fri Dec 29 We drove out to the Indian casino and outlet stores for some retail therapy. Amazing to see so many RVs on the road east toward the mountain and desert areas for the coming holiday weekend.
  • Sun Dec 31 We packed up and moved most of our stuff for the drive out to my brother’s house.  A New Year’s tradition we enjoy is to spend the evening eating, sitting in our PJs and watching movies. Sad to see commercials for free car rides and towing services for revelers. We stayed “home” and loved it!

My hubby and I are continually grateful that we have the funds to support a good vehicle to drive and take road trips. I love my Toyota with it’s v-6 engine, 4-wheel drive and other bells and whistles. Hubby will be buying a new truck in 2018, one that we can pull a new travel trailer with as soon as we can find a good used one. Our old trailer was fixed up and will be sold next month.

Well, that was my December. Writing these daily sentences chronicling each day was easier than I thought… What was your highlight for the month of December?

Please consider joining other bloggers for January’s “Sentence a Day” post. Start writing those sentences now! If you are up for this challenge, please visit Leslie at her Sentence a Day post.

Photo credit in Featured Image by Frank Mckenna on Unsplash

Please visit the links for other examples of Sentence a Day posts!



“That’s What Christmas Is All About, Charlie Brown” Redux

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown
Edited photo courtesy of my VHS cover.

In the spirit of the Christmas season, as families everywhere celebrate the holidays, I offer a re-post of one of my favorite and popular posts from 2015.

If we were having coffee on this fourth and final day of Advent, in which we celebrate love, we would sip a hot beverage while our church choir performs.advent candles for Christmas season

Traditionally the Advent candles are lit, one each Sunday, commemorating Hope, Peace, and Joy. Today the fourth candle, representing Love, is lit. In the middle of the candles is a fifth candle, called the Christ candle, which unites all the candles of Advent.

If we were having coffee, I would share with you my favorite Christmas-season TV show, A Charlie Brown Christmas. I grew up watching this and it is not Christmas for me if I miss this show. Thanks to DVDs and YouTube, I don’t. 2015 was the 50th anniversary of the beloved TV show.

Here is the heart of the story, and therefore, my message today.

Poor Charlie Brown suffers from depression and the rest of the gang is caught up in the commercialism of the season. In 1965, they embraced fake trees, materialism and distractions from the true meaning of Christmas. Nothing much has changed in 50 years, hmm?

During practice, as Charlie Brown endures derisive laughter over his sad little tree, a frustrated Charlie asks, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?

Linus begins to take center stage…”sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about…”

“…And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: (Linus drops his security blanket on purpose) for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'” (Luke 2:8-14 KJV)

Linus picks up his blanket and walks back towards Charlie Brown, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Smiling, with renewed hope, Charlie picks up the tree and walks back to his house and attempts to place an ornament on the tree as he reflects on the scripture Linus recited. Sadly, the tree bends under the weight of the ball. Charlie dejectedly mopes away proclaiming, “Everything I touch gets ruined!”

Linus and the gang follow him and see the poor tree. As Linus picks up the tree, wrapping his blanket around the base, he says, “I never thought it was such a bad little tree. It’s not bad at all, really…

Wait for it…

…Maybe it just needs a little love.”

Like we ALL do. Just a little love.

Regardless of your beliefs, in a world desperately needing love, ponder these thoughts this holiday season. We all know the words to the song, “Oh Holy Night.” This is the truth of the final verse:

“Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace.”

coffee cup celebrates weekend coffee shareThis is my last Weekend Coffee Share post of the year until January. Please stop by Part-Time Monster’s blog and enjoy a hot beverage with us.

Merry Christmas!


Anticipa-a-tion, It’s Keeping Me Waiting…

patiently waiting for Christmas in San Diego

patiently waiting for Christmas in San Diego

Last year, while visiting family in San Diego during Christmas week, I snapped this photo of my nieces contemplating with Anticipation  the coming of Santa on Christmas Eve. We took a leisurely stroll on Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach to get out of the house and watch the surfers.

My nieces may look patient, but trust me, they put on a good show to avoid mom’s stern looks, when they asked for the 10th time, “when are we going home to open our Christmas Eve gifts?”

And don’t be jealous of this Southern California sunshine! It can get cold! It was a whopping 50 degrees that day!

You, too, can participate in the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge!


Weekend Coffee Share: Waiting for Peace during Advent Season

advent candles for Christmas season

advent candles for Christmas season

If we were having coffee, I would ask you to sit with me for a moment and chat about our difficulties in waiting. How do you like your coffee or tea?

Do you like to wait? I don’t. To me it is time wasted. I usually multi-task while waiting, by reading, doodling, deleting stuff from my phone…you know. I am very impatient. Definitely a character flaw.

If we were having coffee, I would remind you that a host of bloggers have posted about the recent, tragic events in the form of mass shootings and terrorism all over the world. As our hearts go out to the victims and families who have suffered injury and death, we simply long for peace.

Unfortunately we all know the world will go the way it will go, not as you or I would have it. So we must wait.

Along the continuum of religious belief, whether Christian, Jew, Muslim or atheist, or somewhere in between, you and I will wait for peace. We may wait our entire lives. Our children will likely wait their entire lives.

I have no answers for you. Only you can decide how you can find peace.

My beliefs help me cope with the lack of peace in our world, which brings me to this question…

…If we were having coffee, I would ask you if you celebrate Advent? If you do not, take a moment to read the rest of this post.

The advent season is also about waiting. During advent, we’re reminded of all those centuries when God’s people awaited the fulfillment of God’s promises, the years of uncertainty, the time of doubt.

“The time before Christmas is Advent, a season of preparation for Christmas. Christians prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah. In Advent, we’re reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate his first coming at Christmas. The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming” or “visit.”

From the blog of Patheos by Mark D Roberts.

On this second Sunday of Advent, as Christians light the second candle, we celebrate and pray for peace. Now more than ever we need peace in light of recent events. Regardless of your spiritual orientation, as humans, we long for peace on this planet.

“We can bring peace to these dark days. We can be a light for others to see by.”

Janet Sunderland. Community of the Incarnation

If you would like to know more about the celebration of Advent, read Fascinating Mystery for more information.

May we all find the peace we crave during this time of reflection, regardless of the wait.


WintercoffeeshareJoin Part-Time Monster’s event Weekend Coffee Share and let’s have some coffee (or tea).