I’ve always been fascinated by cosmic events, the night sky and constellations, moonrises, comets, and meteor showers. Years ago I witnessed the Space EX launch that we saw in the skies over San Diego.
The Northern hemisphere reached meteorological summer this week and in light of the recent full lunar eclipse, our Sunday Stills photo challenge theme is “celestial.”
Definitions of Celestial
The Oxford Dictionary defines celestial as positioned in or relating to the sky, or outer space as observed in astronomy. Other synonyms to get you thinking include: supremely good, heavenly, holy, celestial being (aka angels), sky, otherworldly, unearthly, blissful, ethereal, spiritual, supernatural…
“Every beauty which is seen here by persons of perception resembles more than anything else that celestial source from which we all are come.”
Last year, we got a glimpse of comet Neowise on a dark night in the delta. It was just a vague smudge which was a remarkable sight. But as I looked again to show someone else, I saw the light of the international space station juxtaposed against it in its orbit. I almost fell over with delight!
Trust me when I say I will do what it takes to get my camera ready for an eclipse which is what you see in this image from Instagram. I took this shot at 4:15am, and it was already getting light outside. I saw better lunar eclipses posted, but I’m happy with it. Some of you already saw this on Instagram and Facebook.
Being Celestial All Week
While my daughter visited over the Memorial Day Weekend, I looked to the skies for inspiration. They did not disappoint.
A hot air balloon flies low over Spokane neighborhood…seen from my brother-in-law’s deck!
In downtown Spokane’s Riverfront Park, old meets new under the skyway as the iron sculpture of the Salmon Chief seeks a blessing for his catch. The Spokane River’s lower falls that run through the downtown area were a fishing spot for native Americans for thousands of years. This sculpture was created by Colville Reservation native Virgil Marchand.
In the same area, the remaining skeletal structure of the Pavilion, built for the 1974 World’s Fair, lends an otherworldly sight to downtown Spokane.
Wild sunflowers at home reach for the setting sun in their celestial quest.
Celestial events are popular inspiration recorded in pop music. According to Spinditty, there are 134 songs relating to astronomy.
Recognize any of these? I was greatly influenced by the 60s-70s generation of music that spoke so eloquently of the cosmos. (By the way, due to copyright infringement concerns, I’ve only published snippets of the lyrics of each song).
“And all that is now and all that is gone And all that’s to come and everything under the sun is in tune, But the sun is eclipsed by the moon.”
“When the moon is in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligns with Mars Then peace will guide the planets, And love will steer the stars This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius…
The Fifth Dimension
“Once upon a time there was light in my life, but now there’s only love in the dark Nothing I can say, a total eclipse of the heart.”
“This is Major Tom to Ground Control, I’m stepping through the door. And I’m floating in a most peculiar way, and the stars look very different today.
Celestial images captured by our lenses spark the imaginations of what really lies beyond.
When Celestial Becomes Infernal and Funereal
Despite recently installing satellite internet, I crafted part of my post this week without internet. High winds messed with our dish, then the 4G mobile network was intermittent due to excessive heat this week. I could have sworn we moved to Northeastern Washington but it feels like we are still in Sacramento if the weather is any indication. The very antithesis of the meaning of celestial.
As you read this today, we are traveling by car from Portland, Oregon, back to Spokane. My family traveled from far and wide to attend the celebration of life for my cousin’s husband, who passed away unexpectedly a few weeks ago. Though the circumstances were solemn and sad, we know he rests in peace with our Heavenly Father. In our grief, we managed to enjoy seeing everyone in person since before Covid. Nice to be among my fellow vaccinated family.
“The Ancients often believed a celestial event like an eclipse to be a bad omen, that the sun or the moon vanishing from the sky was a harbinger of disaster, a sign of devastation or destruction to come.”
Hmmm, food for thought. Nothing surprises me now that we have experienced a pandemic first hand.
Sunday Stills Photo Challenge Reminders
Please create a new post for the theme or link a recent one.
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.
Use hashtag #SundayStills for sharing on social media.
Sunday Stills is a wonderful community of bloggers and photographers who desire to connect with one another. Below is the last week’s links from bloggers who shared their favorite vacation photos. And with that…
Black and white photography is not at the top of my list of favorite photography techniques. I prefer color photography, but I enjoy seeing others’ black and white images and I recognize the special eye and techniques it takes to create just the right image.
“Black and white photography removes any distraction of color and helps the viewer focus on other aspects of the photo, such as the subject, the textures, shapes and patterns, and the composition.”
As I challenge myself with this theme, I start by sharing two images of people, which in my opinion, especially lend themselves to black and white photography. I cannot take credit for the images, but they are two of my favorites.
This was taken by my husband’s brother-in-law. He caught this image of my husband lighting a cigar. Not only does the light balance work here, but the smoke curls in contrast to the dark background. His expression shows the anticipation of the first inhale as he lights the cigar. This would be the kind of black and white photography to which I would aspire.
We recently celebrated my mother-in-law’s life with a family memorial service. Aside from other wonderful images of her, my sister-in-law took this one of Hella for her high school photography class in 1974.
Again, NOT one of my images, but she captured her mother’s joy and zest for life in this now eternal moment.
A Black and White Gallery
I dug into my archives for these images shown in the gallery. *Note–the black sand beach was actually black and white…cheating?
Birds in Black and White
Any subject can be finished in black and white. In the example below, I have the same image of one of my backyard hummingbirds (incidentally all puffed up from a spring rain shower and a good example of next week’s theme “spring green”). I feel that the color image really pops compared to the black and white image I created. Here is how they look side-by-side.
Since I was not thrilled with the B&W version, I also used a black and white filter (Painnt app) as seen below to enhance what should remain a wonderful color image but doesn’t lend itself to black and white.
What do you think?
While we are on the subject of birds, I happened to have an oldie-but-goodie image of a Pacifica shorebird in sepia format, taken on the beaches of San Diego. Shared for Lisa’s BirdWeekly.
Whatever your own techniques for creating beautiful B&W images, please share a little about your process.
Looking for Black and White Photo Challenges?
I love coincidence! This photo was taken for Cees Black and White Photo challenge in 2015 (when I was newer to blogging and photography). Why coincidence? I am resubmitting this same image for Cee’s B&W challenge for kitchen objects (started this week!) again 6 years later! This was one of my first attempts to focus a color into a black and white image. I know it’s lacking, but we all start somewhere. Cee offers her black and white photo challenge weekly.
A Light at the End of the Tunnel
If we were having coffee this week, I would happily tell you that we may be within two weeks of moving into the house! I hope I haven’t jinxed it…but the manufactured home company told us that carpet was installed this weekend, and I’ve had assurances that the septic system goes in this week. Above is the cute porch light recently installed. So much happened at lightning speed over the last three weeks, almost as if to make up for the lo-o-ong wait for just electricity last month. A few more small items to check before the final walk-through. And just in time for spring-like weather. For those who observe daylight saving time, did you spring your clocks forward last night?
Please create a new post for the theme or link a recent one.
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.
Use hashtag #SundayStills for sharing on social media.
Sunday Stills is a wonderful community of bloggers and photographers who desire to connect with one another. Each week I will share the links from the previous post so you can continue to meet and support each other. And with that…please visit our…
I had originally thought to take a break until January 10, then realized I’m a bit bored, so why not jump back into blogging? Especially with this theme of looking back on our 2020 retrospective.
A retrospective shows our year in words, photos, stories, and other creative endeavors. Share your good and bad, your best and worst, and what your hope is as 2021 begins. I have chosen to share images, old and new, of the highlights of each month of 2020.
2020 was not all bad. Certainly, the pandemic was (and is) a game-changer and we lost friends and loved ones. Some of us tested positive. Our kids and grandkids are still struggling in a two-dimensional world of learning. Most of us cannot travel to the extent we prefer, and too many folks are struggling financially. However, if this was a sci-fi movie, the plot would demonstrate the resilience of humanity as we navigate through these unprecedented times. Many wonderful events happened to countless people in 2020. While we grieve the losses, let us stay positive and look forward to our blessings and futures.
Here is my retrospective written for each month in 2020. This is longer than my usual posts so please be warned!
In late December 2019, we headed out on another winter road trip from Sacramento, California, to Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada. We spent time with Ingrid and her husband, then FINALLY got to see the Grand Canyon!
My brother and partner lived for a short time in Vegas, so we all enjoyed a trip to Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park.
Later in the month, we made a trip up north to a nearby bird sanctuary to view the comings and goings of the Canadian snow geese that make their winter home in the Sacramento Valley.
The land hunt was over. In 2019, we started planning a life change and an eventual move to Washington State. We began the loan process of purchasing a half-acre of property in Nine Mile Falls, near Spokane, WA. We imagined ourselves making payments on the property for a year while fixing up the existing house in Sacramento at a leisurely pace.
On March 3rd, my 79-year old mother passed away from complications of age and pneumonia. Little did I know how blessed we were to spend the last days with her in the hospital and say our goodbyes.
Covid-19 became too real as shut-downs in countries and local communities began just weeks later. Universities and schools began the arduous task of teaching online. We signed papers on our property the day before California counties shut down. Real estate prices fell and we got nervous about the future of the plans for our new home.
April Angles and Angels
Church services were canceled or limited to online viewing. Our spirits were lifted anyway, especially when our pastor and his wife personally delivered the Easter lilies we purchased that were meant as memorials for loved ones.
During the shut-downs, the only fun we could have was going to the grocery store and various big box stores as people flocked to buy materials for home improvement, gardening, and backyard birding. Below, you can see the incredible siding job hubby completed.
May We Begin Again?
Our delta campground where we windsurfed and paddled delayed its opening by almost 2 months. Honestly, we were lucky it opened at all. At that time, we didn’t know it would be our last summer.
In mid-May, we took a road trip to Spokane once Covid travel restrictions eased. I finally got to show hubby the land we bought! With some advice, we refinanced our property loan to include construction and the home itself and fast-tracked ourselves on the road to move.
This month, I reflected on what would have been my mother’s 80th birthday. She always had a garden full of flowers. Anticipating our move by the end of the year, I eventually rehomed my huge potted hydrangea to a friend in November before our move. My last crop of sunflowers began blooming.
This month I celebrated Aeros’ 10th birthday.
Covid restrictions eased a bit and some travel was allowed. My gym opened for two weeks and I went every day. I had the absolute pleasure of visiting longtime friend and fellow blogger Marsha at her former home in Central Calfornia.
Then, to top it off, we got to see a black bear ambling along the highway near the south entrance of Sequoia National Park! Marsha recently moved to Prescott, Arizona and we have been checking in with each other about how our collective moves have been going!
Early August found me on my third road trip, this time to Mammoth Lakes on the Eastern Sierra Nevada. My family had originally made plans to stay in a large condo there and drive to Tuolumne Meadows on the Tioga Pass side of Yosemite National Park to scatter my mom’s ashes. Only myself, my daughter and her boyfriend, and my brother and his partner made the trip, so we saved the scattering for another date in 2021. I cried when I saw my family since we hadn’t been together since Christmas.
Near Mammoth is Mono Lake and we enjoyed a sunset stroll among the tufa towers.
Covid restrictions were well in place in Mammoth and people walked around in masks as if we had been wearing them our whole lives. Entrance into Yosemite was limited to pre-reserved permits. I stood at the Tioga Pass entrance to Yosemite wearing my mask—a sign of the times! Although we could not drive in, we could walk into the park through the nearby meadows. This marked my third visit to a National Park in 2020. Not bad for a pandemic!
Sadly, we endured horrific California fires that engulfed the entire West Coast with smoke and hazardous air quality, along with oppressive heat. To add to an already eventful month, not only did we sell my mother’s home in August, but we also closed on our new construction loan…all in one 24 hour period! Whew!
I started September teaching my university classes online. I gave up my third class to another professor because I did not have the energy or motivation to turn it into an online course. I was extremely sad knowing it was to be my last semester teaching after 10 years as a part-time lecturer and also disappointed to not be in the classroom with the students.
We spent the second weekend of September packing up and saying goodbye to the delta, where I had spent 11 summers learning new board sports and camping with new friends.
Determined to continue packing and moving, we moved our travel trailer to Spokane a few days later, before winter set in…. Yep, a tire blew out on the trailer in central Oregon, but Hercules Hans (hubby) fixed it and we were safe!
I said goodbye to the last of my sweet sunflowers. Each spring, I grew them from seeds and their lovely blooms gave me three years of pleasure cultivating them, watching them grow, and taking endless photographs of them.
I would categorize October as the second-worst month of 2020 (behind March) and the month where obstacles stood waiting for us. As we prepared for the last of the two-way road trips to Spokane, we experienced delays with the moving company. We finally had to drive the bumpy, noisy, 20-foot truck there loaded with 60% of our home and return the empty truck. By now we had packed and prepped to the point of exhaustion. As if that weren’t enough, we contracted mild cases of Covid from family members while staying overnight near Bend, Oregon.
Even the blue moon of Halloween was not enough to make the my month better.
Once we got the nod from our real estate agent, all systems were “go” for listing the house. We made plans to take yet another road trip, this time to San Diego to visit our collective adult children and family and take some boxes of goodies to them. We timed the home listing and walk-throughs with this visit so we would be gone for a few days. Over 100 families visited the home in three days. My home of 32 years sold in four days, $16,000 above our asking price.
Fall leaves finally made their appearance which gave me a sense of peace tinged with melancholy, knowing that this was my last Autumn at my home. We spent a quiet Thanksgiving as my two daughters came to visit and say goodbye to their childhood home for the last time.
A December to Remember
December is traditionally a month of festivity and fun with Christmas and our annual road trips south. This month would be like no other December in memory. Mid-month, I said my goodbyes to fellow faculty on Zoom and farewell to my 10-year teaching career. Below is the last look at my walk toward the building and classrooms.
We spent two weeks packing the POD after Thanksgiving, filling it to the brim. Early the next morning, on December 13, I tearfully hugged my house goodbye and took one last look at the empty house as we drove away for the last time, me following behind my husband’s truck in my car.
This would be our final, and one-way road trip through Oregon and onto Spokane for 2020. Although it rained all through Oregon, there was no snow, and we made record time on our second day with joy in our hearts as we reached our destination in Spokane. A few days later we visited our property and said hello to our new house!
Someone asked me what I learned from 2020. Like any year, I take away nuggets of wisdom from the choices I made. My husband and I walk in faith, understanding that both good and bad things will happen. The pandemic made 2020 a challenging year, but life went on in its usual fashion. This may sound weird, but the pandemic hastened our move out of California, and the timing for both buying and selling real estate was rather miraculous. Let’s just say, with two homes sold in 2020, Hans and I have enough money to live on for several years if we truly retire.
New Horizons for 2021
What is on the horizon? We are patiently waiting for our house to be ready. Within the next few weeks, it will be set onto the foundation, the two halves joined together, the utilities will get hooked up and the interior will be completed. I’m told this could take another 1-2 months. Meanwhile, we continue to live with my brother-in-law.
Once we get moved into the home, Hans will look for employment. His retirement pension from the City of Sacramento wasn’t as generous as mine, since he only put in 7 years. I am contemplating teaching as a lecturer at Eastern Washington University in their parks and recreation management program. But I prefer to wait until the campus opens back to classroom teaching. Heck, I may not work at all and be truly retired. Our only hiccup is we will have to pay our medical benefits out-of-pocket, at least until age 65 (4 more years). If he works, and he plans to, then our medical benefits will be covered.
I need to get my fitness level back to pre-2019. Between foot surgery in 2019 and gyms closing in most of 2020, I feel very out of shape. Once spring comes, I plan to visit nearby hiking trails and bike paths a few miles from the new home. For now, with winter in full swing, I bought a set of snowshoes and have already tried them. With the poles and 12 inches of snow, it is like an elliptical workout!
As for writing projects, I plan to finish my fitness book, No Excuses Fitness, and get that self-published. I found it difficult to write about motivating others to be physically active when I was not. I am also reading more and have some review posts planned to highlight other bloggers’ books!
Did I mention I’m a bit bored? Living in someone else’s house limits a person. But as you read this post, we plan to drive to Couer D’ Aline, Idaho, just 30 miles away to watch the 100’s of bald eagles feed on the salmon in the lake. If I can capture an eagle with my camera lens, I can check off another bucket list item. Keep your fingers crossed!
I meant to post this image of the fence for the previous auburn color challenge but find it works for texture, too. This is called a pine-pole fence which is what will eventually surround our new property.
Our backyard also shows a variety of textures with the deck planks, fences, and trees.
I will definitely miss my little yard.
The Textures of Our Lives
My daughters traveled to our house to spend their last Thanksgiving there before we move out in two weeks. Both were very young when we moved into the house in February 1988. My youngest was only a month old and it’s really the only house she ever knew until she moved out of the area in 2016.
Hubby took some pics as my daughters reminisced how the house transformed the textures of our lives into indelible loving memories. After a walk through the house, hugging corners and outdoor trees, the girls drove away on Friday with tears in their eyes.
I discovered these partial lyrics written by Melissa Schneider (can’t seem to find a song that goes with these heartfelt words). Get a tissue…
Goodbye house it’s time to leave you And I’m sure feeling low I know you’re only pine and stone But the time has come, so goodbye home
Goodbye house I’m gonna miss you Your walls have sheltered us over the years Memories overflow along with our tears Never thought I’d say, oh goodbye home
Goodbye house goodbye home You won’t be lonely long Soon a brand-new family will call you their own But our time is done, so goodbye home
December themes are available on my Sunday Stills page. Please take a quick look and note that Susanne from Cats and Trails and Garden Tales is hosting on December 20, and there is no challenge on December 27.
I hope you all had a great week and enjoyed Thanksgiving for those who celebrated.
As folks prepare for Thanksgiving in the US this week, it will be a completely different holiday this year. As we navigate through a pandemic that has sickened millions and taken the lives of loved ones, we stand in fear of continuing the spread of the Covid virus by reducing our time spent with family and friends. Some have found it difficult to be truly thankful.
For Sunday Stills, this week, let us all reflect upon the things for which we can truly be thankful.
Our road trip to San Diego this past week was emotionally and somewhat physically taxing. We needed to bring some boxes of items to our children and grandchildren while picking up a few things to take back with us. Our plans were not just to visit with our families, but for me to say goodbye to our family home that was recently sold and to visit my mom’s commemorative brick placed in a local city park.
While driving, we had phone conversations with family. I have two younger brothers; one still lives in the San Diego area and the other recently moved to Arizona. When I mentioned that a few of us were going to visit my dad next week in his rural town in Northern California, the oldest brother chastised me pretty good by stating, “if Dad gets Covid, he’ll die! Do you want to lose both parents in 2020?”
“Umm, no,” I answered contritely (my mom passed in March of this year). Sadly, many rural areas of California are seeing a rise in Covid cases as new people merge with locals, who haven’t practiced good social distancing.
To protect my 84-year old father who has COPD, I had to be the one to tell the family over the course of days that we were not going to converge at his home for Thanksgiving.
Despite the disappointment, it is better to miss one Thanksgiving in order to enjoy many more in the future.
Thanks for the Memories, San Diego
I was born and raised in the San Diego area in southern California. I moved north to Sacramento when I was 20 and never moved back. I am thankful many family members still live there and I can visit most any time.
My brother and his family want nothing to do with COVID-19 and to see them, we stayed behind their driveway gate while they sat on the other side a few feet away. I brought some books and other goodies for them. No doubt my brother will spray everything with sanitizer, but we enjoyed family time. Better than Zoom for sure!
It was time to say goodbye to the family home I had lived in since I was 10 years old. Once my mom entered the nursing home in 2010, my brother moved in and lived there for a while. We eventually rented it to my stepson and his family, and once Mom passed this year, we opted to sell it earlier this Fall. We drove over to the house and the owners had not moved in yet, so I was grateful to get this pic of me hugging the house goodbye.
The next day, I met my childhood friend in the park to visit my mom’s brick and we shared a few memories of days gone by. This image was set up by my daughter and shared in an earlier post.
Thankful for Home
The week prior to us leaving for San Diego, we listed our house in Sacramento and potential buyers visited Saturday through Monday, while we were away. By Tuesday we had several offers and decided to go with one, in particular, that was solid and over the asking price!
After signing several online disclosures, my husband and I are grateful that a young couple is excited about the house and wants to start a family in it, just like I did 32 years ago.
Before the family home in San Diego was sold last summer, my daughter transplanted my mom’s favorite roses into two pots for me to take. My mom would be happy knowing her roses will continue to bloom in another state.
I dropped off my beloved plumeria plants to my daughter since they will not grow well in the cold North (Spokane, WA). I had just planted four plumerias from stalks in 2019 and one flowered. I will ever be grateful I got to see these plumeria grow. For some reason, the same plant did not produce in 2020. Here is one shot from 2019.
Autumn is finally in full swing in Sacramento. My Japanese maple frames one of the last looks at the front of my house, soon to be occupied by a new family.
My daughters are visiting over Thanksgiving to eat a small meal and say goodbye to their childhood home. We are keeping it simple and ordered a turkey dinner from a nearby grocery store. Trust me, with few dishes left in the house, I’m thankful someone else is doing the cooking!
And I’m sure this suburban turkey is grateful it escaped this year’s Thanksgiving table and my Boykin Spaniel’s greedy jaws. Submitted for Lisa’s Bird Weekly Challenge.
Thank You to My Fellow Bloggers
I want to thank you all who continue to support Sunday Stills and share images every week, and those who continue to read my ramblings.
I have a long list of loyal bloggers who post every week for Sunday Stills, but I also want to acknowledge bloggers who took a break and are back to share their talents!
I have hinted in a post and in several comments lately that when my hubby retires at 2020’s end, we are moving to the Spokane, Washington area. If you are thinking Seattle, move your finger on the map to the East closer to the Idaho border and Spokane resides there. We will be the area known as Nine Mile Falls to be exact, along the Spokane River. If you missed the post you can read more details here.
We closed on the property in mid-March, just before the disruption of Covid-19 closed the world down.
In mid-May, once both California and Washington “re-opened,” we decided to make the trip to Spokane to meet with the builder for the property. The house in the background is our neighbor’s.
Weather or Not
The light is what guides you home, the warmth is what keeps you there.
I have lived in the same house for over 32 years. My youngest daughter was one month old when we moved in.
People ask me why I would choose to move from California to the cold North of Washington State. Having lived near Portland Oregon for two years as a child, I was old enough to remember many rainy and snowy days. I didn’t hate it!
Being born and raised in San Diego, I remember the weather was fairly mild all year round. Once I made the move to Sacramento in Northern California in my early 20s, did I question that choice.
We get four seasons here but no snow, since we are at 25 feet elevation. I got used to the cold, foggy winters, and hot dry summers. My hubby, on the other hand, has endured Sacramento heat for the last 15 years as his jobs have been outdoors in construction or facility maintenance. He dislikes the heat for that reason!
Spokane is in the alpine high desert although when you drive into the area from the western plains, the landscape changes from rolling hills to evergreens and mountains. It snows there and gets very cold, but the summers are mild. I have visited there during every season and I look forward to the changes in the weather.
As Ilsa from Frozen sings: “The cold doesn’t bother me anyway.”
A sneak peek at a neighbor’s home along the Spokane River. Our property is a few blocks from this.
Although we are buying a larger home, it will be new and modern. Our current home was built in 1962 and is small and somewhat outdated. In 2015, we built a 300 square-foot room addition which created a large master suite. There is nothing like it in this neighborhood and we expect the house to sell quickly in the Fall when we put it on the market.
The house was in need of new siding. Hubby had already replaced the bedroom and dining room windows. After tearing off the siding, he discovered there was NO insulation on the front of the house. No wonder we froze in winter and boiled in summer!
In the gallery, you can see the metamorphosis of the custom siding job my husband built. The old siding was made of shake shingles, common in our neighborhood, and unavailable. Thanks to the disruptions brought on by Covid-19, we spent our last week in March at home working on the house, instead of our planned vacation to Washington.
We still have a few more small projects. Over the last year, we updated the guest bath with a granite countertop and I recently painted the cabinet and vanity.
Hubby already rebuilt and replaced the old backyard deck. Luckily, he has accomplished most everything, now that windsurf season is here. I still need to repaint the kitchen and cabinets.
A Family Affair
Another reason for our journey north is our lack of family nearby. The kids live in San Diego, along with most of our family, with one daughter in the SF Bay area and my dad in the Sierra foothills. None of these places are retirement options for us.
I have heard about many parents retiring to be close to their grown children. Sometimes things change and those kids move again, leaving the parents alone again.
My hubby’s brothers and their extended families (think 35 people for typical Thanksgivings) live in the Spokane area. When we started exploring the idea of moving, I suggested that it would make more sense to move to Spokane. I always enjoyed visiting there and it is spectacularly beautiful.
Rightsizing and Retirement
What is rightsizing you ask? Rightsizing simply means to reduce something to an optimal size. This is an approach to simplifying your lifestyle while keeping what you need and use the most. For many it means moving to a smaller home, living closer to family or amenities, or changing jobs.
For more information, visit fellow blogger and friend, Kathy Gottberg at her blog SmartLiving365.
My husband and I have always lived frugally. We each raised our children as single parents and counted every dollar. For most years, we lived below our means and paid our bills on time. We have excellent credit and low debt. Five years ago, we refinanced our current home and took out a home equity line of credit to build the addition. Now the time has come to retire and move out of an expensive state.
As we age, it is important to consider what we need in a new home. For example, my knees are bad, so no two-story house for me. We toyed with the idea of having a basement, but when we walked around them last year while looking at homes, I realized I cannot navigate steep stairways any longer.
Rightsizing works for us. In our case, we chose a manufactured home which is reasonably priced, and we can get a lot more for our money. Today’s manufactured homes are built in factories rather than on-site and can be upgraded with custom options. I will say it again, these homes are not your granny’s single-wide with metal siding!
Our home will have a back-entry mudroom/utility room. We, and our dogs, can safely enter the house through the back and wipe off the pesky snow and mud. There is a large kitchen, a family room, and plenty of storage space. Even though this new home has 800 more square feet than our current house, it is thoughtfully laid out with modern features. No fixer-upper projects!
Washington State has no income tax so our retirement pensions will go much farther. We may have to pay more for medical, but we both plan to work until age 65. We are waiting until age 67 to draw social security, then we won’t have to work at all.
Can you tell I am excited about the future?
Peace — that was the other name for home.
For Sunday Stills this week, share your thoughts, images, and other creative ideas about your home. Perhaps you have a favorite vacation home, live in an RV full-time, or are searching for your future dream home. Tell us all about it!
Manufactured home images from The Home Boys. Featured images/banner colored in Color Planet.
Join me this Friday for my book review of Walk Your Way to Better, by Joyce Schulman!
Friday was the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of the official state legal lockdown here in California. It was a beautiful sunny day with mild temperatures. My neighbor and I walked our dogs, of course keeping the appropriate 6-feet of social distance.
I was struck by how many people were out and about, enjoying their front yards, walking their dogs, even some riding bikes around the neighborhood. I feel this crisis, just like 9-11 in 2001, will bring community together even more so.
This week’s theme is Favorite Places
A Favorite Backyard
To spark the creativity for this post, I share a previous photo of my lovely sunflower from last year. You might remember I was home bound for two months recovering from foot surgery last summer, so my back-yard, lush with sunflowers and plumerias was my favorite place for a while. I guess it will be again while we languish at home.
A Leisure Legacy of Favorite Places Instilled
Some of you may know that my mother passed away in early March. While I am sad and still find myself weeping for no reason, I am content that she is at peace.
For recreation, Mom always insisted we all go somewhere every Saturday or Sunday, whether it was to church, the beach (we lived in San Diego), the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, Sea World, or trips to the Cuyamaca Mountains to enjoy winter snow or summer picnics.
Summers found us all at La Jolla shores beach or tide pools. During my younger teen years, we also enjoyed weekly warm summer evening excursions to Pacific Beach after a quick dinner at Wienerschnitzel or Taco Bell.
My mom and dad loved camping and spent two-three weeks each summer enjoying the Sierra Nevadas. When we kids were old enough, we joined them.
I just love seeing this photo of my mom back in 1981, when she was healthy.
Before our 2-week camping trips, a trip to the local library was in order to stock up on books. We did a lot of reading on those 8-hour road trips and read on our down time at the campsite.
We camped in Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, but always seemed to land in Tuolumne Meadows, in Yosemite’s high country. Less crowded than the Valley, with its onslaught of tourists and hot summer temps, Mom preferred Tuolumne’s campground, with Ranger-led evening campfires, endless hiking trails and daily fishing!
A Leisure Legacy of Favorite Places Continues
“Our camping trips and excursions instilled a strong leisure ethic in me that exists to this day and has been passed down to my daughters, my brothers and their children.”
I had the honor of writing and preparing her obituary for publication in a local San Diego area newspaper. Diane loved her community of Lemon Grove. Services will be conducted in early June, around the date of what would have been her 80th birthday, in a beautiful park near the home where she grew up.
We have obtained a permit to scatter her ashes in her beloved Tuolumne Meadows, in July, where she loved to fish in the meadows, where we hiked as a family for over 15 years.
At last, she will be at peace in her favorite place.
Today’s post is chattier than usual as I remember my mom and her legacy. Remember, your post should focus on the theme rather than reflect on what I’ve written.
Sunday Stills is taking a one-week break March 29. I will be back to the blog in April to participate in Becky B’s April Squares and resume Sunday Stills on April 5.
The middle of July finds me reflecting on the fact that half of my summer is gone! Most of you know, it has been a very different summer for me as I recover from foot surgery, spending almost two months in a cast.
Prior to the early June surgery date, I spent a few weekends at the Sacramento River Delta and a weekend in San Diego.
This late spring image of the Sacramento River at the spot where we camp, shows the calm early morning stillness that sets the mood for the day.
The first weekend in June, I spent in San Diego for my brother’s 50th birthday. We enjoyed Sunday breakfast in this hotel and took a stroll next to the harbor.
These images made me feel relaxed and centered as the anxiety of the anticipation of surgery took hold of me.
With only 10 days left to live in my cast, I have found myself feeling blue most of July, due to lack of activity and loneliness. Mostly, my energy levels are lower because of the healing process and because as I use assistive devices (knee scooter and crutches), I must think twice about every task and plan that anything I do will take longer to accomplish.
Mind you, I am not complaining, but it would be silly to ignore my feelings. I have been trying to keep up with journaling this month, prompted by fellow blogger, Sue’s Journaling in July.
Journaling in July Prompt: 7/16 My Family
When I’m feeling blue, one thing that perks me up is spending time with my family. While I was in San Diego, my youngest daughter and I spent some quality time together and visited my mom in the nursing home. My oldest daughter visited me at home last weekend to celebrate her dad’s birthday. Even hubby stayed close to home instead of windsurfing! My brother and his wife and their four adopted daughters drove up during the week before July 4th holidays to spend time with our dad who just turned 83 on July 15th. Being surrounded by my family lifted my spirits and swept those blues away!
This is an older photo of dad enjoying a short fishing break in Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite.
Despite this temporary onset of the summer blues, I have managed to get a lot of writing done, so that is a bonus. I miss my daily physical activities, but I know I will be on both feet very soon.
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.
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!
Macro red light
Red Piggies in a row
Whether or not your image is holiday-themed, show us something red for Sunday Stills!
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!
December is the time of year when we experience a variety of traditions. Some are long-standing, while others may be brand-new.
Many families celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or other traditional events that may not be related to spiritual expression during the holidays.
Of course, celebrating holiday traditions means spending time with loved ones. I caught my little nieces gazing at the ocean during our traditional week’s stay in San Diego. With (usually) good weather, a Christmas Day trip to the beaches is a long-standing tradition in our family.
I love this image of my sis-in-law cuddling with one of her adoptive daughters as they open presents.
Decor (or lack of)
Preparations for Christmas and our annual road-trip south to San Diego where most of our families live find us busy. Because we are away from home for 2-3 weeks, I decorate minimally and don’t put up a traditional Christmas tree. Instead we enjoy the Christmas trees of our families. Included in my minimal traditional decor is my 3-foot wooden tree adorned with yellow lights.
I am all about music during the holidays! I will happily start listening exclusively to Christmas music right after Thanksgiving.
These are two of my old favorites that simply aren’t Christmas unless I hear them: (Click to listen)
Linus and Lucy from Charlie Brown Christmas
Christmas Like a Lullaby by John Denver
For the first time in years, my husband and I attended a concert. For the last four years, thanks to fellow blogger Doug Warren, I’ve been listening to Spotify. In 2018 I signed up for a premium account and started following artists. Spotify notified me of a concert by new-to-me, multi-talented electric-violinist Lindsey Stirling. After Thanksgiving we attended her concert in downtown Sacramento.
New Favorite: I Wonder as I Wander Lindsey Stirling
Going to a winter concert may be a new tradition for us!
A Surprise Event
To add to our busy-ness, a friend convinced us to host a high school student from Japan during the first weekend in December (Thursday-Tuesday). At first I was reluctant, but she sent me the itinerary and it was do-able.
Cultural Homestay International is a program that provides cultural and educational experiences for high school students.
Cultural Homestay International (CHI) is a nonprofit educational organization founded in 1980 with the aim of promoting international understanding and goodwill through people-to-people exchanges. To live, study, or work together leads to a transformational experience of acceptance and genuine affection.
This experience ran in conjunction with a local Christian high School and provided activities that included two days of school, excursions and other evening events. A group of 30 students from Ibaraki (north of Tokyo) stayed in the Sacramento area.
Our sweet student was 17 years old and had a good command of English. She loved our dogs. I discovered one of her hobbies (besides shopping) was Tea Ceremony Club. I did not have any photos of her, but the featured image with the graphic may give you an idea of this ancient Japanese tradition.
She celebrates Christmas with her family but only the retail stores have decorations up for all to enjoy. She got a kick out of seeing the Christmas lights and hearing Christmas music.
More photos next week for “festive!”
What traditions, new or old, do you observe or cannot live without during the holiday season? Please link back to this post for Sunday Stills, or simply comment!
This week I have much to be thankful for as I prepare for Thanksgiving.
While we were on the road over the Veteran’s Day holiday weekend visiting family in Eastern Washington, I learned from Facebook about the devastating wildfires raging in northern and southern California.
We experienced the first snow of the season in Spokane while we read about the fire’s devastation 90 miles north of where we live in California. As some friends marked themselves safe, others posted about friends and family members evacuating and losing their homes.
The young woman who stayed at our house to dog sit at the last minute texted to tell me that her extended family evacuated from Chico area and lost their homes to the wildfires.
Within minutes of reading this news and responding to inquiries about our safety, I read about the passing of my favorite high school teacher Mrs Lee, with whom I celebrated her 90th birthday party in 2016. Read my previous post here.
Shaken at all this distressing news, I simply sat and quietly wept.
We flew to Spokane to visit my mother-in-law we call Mama Hella. My husband recently heard of the passing of his Aunt (father’s sister) who lived in Germany. He felt compelled to fly up for a visit to see his mom and the rest of this family.
Mama Hella is 87 and lives in a care home. Her health has declined dramatically since my husband saw her a year ago. He visited her every day while we were there, and all three brothers got together for photo ops with her, perhaps the last ones.
It is so easy to take our everyday lives for granted.
I’m thankful to our family for hosting us on this hastily planned trip north.
I’m thankful for the last-minute dog sitter.
I’m thankful for the teacher who dedicated her life to educating and inspiring generations of students.
I am thankful for being able to see my mother-in-law, and soon my father at Thanksgiving and my own mother at Christmas time.
I’m thankful to God for my own life and the time He has given me to spend these last days, weeks, months, years with our parents.
As you share the theme “thankful” for Sunday Stills this week, what are you thankful for?
Thank you to Betty Louise, at Idaho Bluebird,whose blog I have followed for several years. She suggested the theme “plant life” for this week’s Sunday Stills photo challenge.
I am enjoying a wonderful weekend in San Diego attending my brother’s wedding. Today’s shots of plants and flowers are mostly associated with the San Diego area, where I was born and raised and lived there until age 20. With family still there, three step-children, my daughter and fiancé, and a grand-baby, you can bet I visit there two-three times a year.
I love this plant, so much so that I managed to plant one in my front yard here in Northern California, although it may struggle with the dryer, hotter summer air. San Diego is more humid with more even temperatures year ‘round.Bougainvillea are everywhere! It is beautiful, but watch out for its thorns!
This gorgeous purple tree flowers mostly in June in San Diego (and I’m sure many other places). It is a large tree and a sight to behold.
Jasmine Another favorite plant is “night-blooming jasmine.” I don’t have a photo of one, although while visiting I will try to find some to photograph.
Night jasmine has a tubular yellow flower, much different from the star jasmine pictured. Since they open only at night, I never notice them, but I can smell their heady scent that is mostly apparent at night!
My grandfather had an amazing backyard filled with Bougainvillea, jasmine, magnolia, honeysuckle and two huge date palms, among other tropical plant life that prefers the even temperatures and ocean breezes. He took pride in his yard and spent hours pruning and planting.
Sadly, when he passed away over 20 years ago and the home was sold, the owners sold the two date palms! I guess they are popular trees! Even these days, when visiting, I drive by his old home and still see where the palms resided. I hope they are happy where they are now.
Thank you so much for all the participation with this photo challenge. I’m noticing other comments on Sunday Stills posts of yours which means you are connecting with each other!
Also, one word of instruction to help your blogging journey. When titling your Sunday Stills post, you do not have to use “Sunday Stills” in the title, and it is best NOT to title your post the same title as mine. Our blogs are found on google searches using SEO and having several blog posts with the same title can be confusing. Please be as creative as you wish with your titles!
Because I am traveling when this post publishes, I may not be able to share and comment until Monday evening, but no later than Tuesday!
Do you love the plants of the Earth? Share one or some of your favorites in Sunday Stills. I can’t wait to see what images you share!
This week’s Sunday Stills photo challenge theme is “twin.”
I posted the above image on Instagram a few weeks ago. The dandelion weed with its twinned shadow, grew in a crack in my driveway and the dual colors of cement made an interesting yin-yang effect.
When I think of the month of June, I can’t help but think of Gemini, one of the constellations of the zodiac. Gemini is Latin for twins. According to Greek mythology, Castor and Pollux, real stars in the night sky, make up the constellation Gemini, which can be seen in the northern hemisphere’s summer sky.
My husband is an identical twin.
Since today is Father’s Day in the U.S., I had to tie this theme in to my husband and his twin brother who are both celebrating Father’s Day this weekend on different parts of the West Coast.
My hubby is in San Diego visiting his children and his first grandchild! In the photo, that’s my husband on the right. They have been known to play twin jokes on many people over the years. When I knew them in high school (yes, really!), I could not tell them apart. They may be nearly identical physically, but have very different personalities.
And just for fun, I threw in these twin doors (for Norm’s Thursday Doors) found in the Gold Rush town of Sutter Creek, California.
Other words associated with twin are couple, clone, duplicate, double and matched. How you interpret twin is up to you.
Looking forward to seeing what you all come up with for the theme! Linking up is optional!
While the U.S. celebrates Memorial Day this weekend (holiday observed Monday), my co-host Aixa at Mucho Spanish chose the theme “aroma” for the Sunday Stills photo challenge.
Memorial Day weekend is the traditional “unofficial” kick-off to the summer season here in the Northern Hemisphere. I, myself, am at the Sacramento Delta for a long weekend as this publishes. Part of the tradition includes backyard BBQ filling the air with mouthwatering aromas of chicken, salmon, tri-tip (my hubby’s specialty) and other grilled treats!
The above image shows an array of canapes perfect to whet your appetite!
Deepest gratitude to those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation.
Last week as I rode my bike around the neighborhood, I noticed many folks preparing their RVs for a long weekend excursion.
Here in Northern California we are within two hours of either the Sierra Nevadas (Lake Tahoe, Gold Country, and Yosemite just 4 hours south east) and the San Francisco Bay area and the ocean. In between are countless campgrounds, lakes, rivers and other wonderful leisure places.
Each with their own, distinct aromas.
In one of the classes I teach, we study a concept called “smellscape,” sort of an exploration of the senses. Students are asked to think about their favorite leisure places and identify the scents, smells, odors and aromas associated with them.
For me, my favorite scent is the blast of pine that fills the cool mountain air as you enter the forest. As kids on our long drive into Yosemite from the Mohave Desert along the Eastern Sierra Nevada, we rolled down the car windows and drank in the scent, as soon as we reached 7000 feet elevation and saw the trees.
Similarly, there is such a distinctive smell associated with the ocean as soon as you pull into the parking lot at the southern California beaches.
The salt air, sun-warmed asphalt and sidewalks, BBQs, sand and ocean air create a cacophony of smells that announces “you are now at the beach.”
So, take a moment, close your eyes and think of scents that bring you joy and remind you of your favorite leisure activities.
What are your favorite aromas? Please share photos that represent them!
Being that this post publishes during Memorial Day Weekend, I am compelled to share one more Water Safety post. 20+ years working in the public swimming pool and aquatics industry will do that to a person!
This week’s Sunday Stills theme falls on Mother’s Day celebrated in the U.S. The theme is embrace (thanks to Hughfor the great theme idea)!
To get you started, is my interpretation of embrace.
A photo of me and my dog Brodie last summer when we brought him home after two days in the Emergency Vet Hospital. Out of the blue he got extremely sick and was tested and diagnosed with a mild case of canine parvovirus, potentially deadly in young puppies and senior dogs.
I thought I would not see him alive after the veterinary staff took him away into isolation. His case was mild because he’d had a full round of vaccinations but still got sick.
When he came home that day, I clasped and cuddled him close to me. I love both my sweet pooches! Almost a year later and I cannot hug him enough!
Of course, you can interpret the theme any way you choose, and it does not have to have the sub-theme of mom. Here are some ideas to get you thinking from Dictionary dot com:
Embrace: to put one’s arms around and press tightly
Synonyms of embrace: bear-hug, clasp, crush, enfold, grasp, hug,
Words related to embrace: clamp, cling, cradle, grab, grip, hold, entwine, fold, lock, cuddle, fondle, nestle, nuzzle, pat, pet, snuggle, stroke
Embrace: to surround or cover closely.
“The stone walls that embrace the monastery serve to symbolize its function as a retreat from an unquiet world.” Encircle, envelop, wrap
As a verb, embrace can mean accept or support (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically: “besides traditional methods, artists are embracing new technology.”
synonyms: welcome, welcome with open arms, accept, take up, take to one’s heart.
In this photo, my sister-in-law embraces her soon-to-be adopted daughter as we open Christmas presents.
We have embraced little EM and her sister into our family as our newest nieces!
My own mother is 500 miles away. I hope my family nearby can hug her for me.