Sunday, April 10, 2016

My sister is coming!! WOO HOO!

I just got word this morning, that my baby sister (Leslie) who lives in Anacortes Washington, is on her way to visit me... and I'm over the moon about it!  She messaged me from Oregon a short while ago, and told me to get her bed fixed... so it shouldn't be long now!

I'm so excited, that I can't even think straight!  
Do we take her out for meals?  Do we cook at home... do we  barbecue?  
Oh my goodness gracious...what do we do?  
I don't think she's ever actually been to Murphy's before, even though she's been to where I lived in Altaville many times over the years... so I'm thinking that maybe we'll have breakfast at the Murphys Hotel or Hillbillies restaurant?  A picnic in the park, if the weather is nice?  Or maybe some of each?

And a bed!  That's important!   I hope she doesn't mind sleeping on the couch, because with all this packing to get ready to move, that's about all I have to offer.   Even though I'm sure that she won't mind a bit, I want everything to be nice for her - perfect for her!  
You know what I mean?

It's been just about 21 years since I've seen my little sister, so this week is going to be a blast!

 This is a picture of the 3 of us girls, so, so many years ago.  My oldest sister Susan is in the back,  I'm the blond in blue, and my little sister Leslie, is the little "cute as a button" one on the right!

 Now to get that darn "bed" cleared off! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Saving Memories

I was standing out on the porch with my coffee this morning, and thinking about how much I'm going to miss my yard when we're moved.  I've spent virtually every morning of the last 3 and a half years out here  - in rain or shine -  and the memories are bittersweet.

Black Calla Lillie's

The growing season is so very short for these treasures, but they're breathtaking, all the same. Hopefully, I can dig them up, and take them with us.


My Crepe Myrtle is just starting to leaf out... Sadly, we will miss out on the flowers this year


My beautiful Hollyhocks... these ones, as well as another cluster close to the kitchen window, shoot up 12 feet or more every year and as sturdy as the stalks are, they're always weighed down with flowers.


My sweet little guard cat with marble eyes... when the passing vehicle lights hit him, it causes his eyes to glow and  hopefully encourages the drivers to slow down a bit.  Well... actually it doesn't slow one particular 'neighbor' down, which is a one of the reasons we'll be glad to leave here.

The view from my porch. So many dead pines, due to the drought and the bark beetles, and although I've hated watching them die, it will eventually open up the view.

My young apple tree... this will be it's 2nd year for fruit.  Last year, we had close to 30 apples on this skinny little tree, so I expect far more this year.

Chives and Lavender
 Even most of my potted plants will be left behind, or given away.

My young Apricot tree.. she was completely covered in fruit last year, and this year looks to be the same!!

Old cut metal bear that we found buried in the garden.  So many treasures, and probably many many more left for the new owners to discover.


I don't know what this Rose is, but it's simply stunning when it's blooming, and it makes for a lovely frame at my kitchen window! In the foreground is the stalk from the other Hollyhock - well above the roof line.

It's going to be hard to leave here, and we'll miss so many of the neighbors, but we're both looking forward to the new adventure in Georgia

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Chickens are good for what ails ya...

I've been stressing for the last several days, (ever since Wally's passing)  because earlier in the day on Wednesday,  I had promised my workmate Shirley, that I would try and find a couple of small hens for her.  Then with the stress of Wally collapsing, and then later, with us all dealing with the heartbreaking outcome.... the whole "I'll try and get you some chickens, Miz Shirley" idea was kind of forgotten.

But no sooner had Shirley left,and gotten home, then she called us at work to tell us that when she had gotten home, she found that her house had been broken into, while she was at work!

We kept her on the line until the sheriff and her daughter arrived to deal with it all, but I kept agonizing over the complete awfulness of the entire day for her, and  I seriously worried about it's impact on this sweet older lady.  Shirley is no spring chicken herself,  (for goodness sake, don't ever tell her I said that!) and  I knew that although the whole day had been rough on all of us,  it had been completely overwhelming for her.

 So now I was on the look-out for chickens.  I called here.... I called there... I sent emails... and I sent messages,  but I was having no luck finding a few small hens.  Until yesterday - when I hit the jackpot!
The woman I worked with yesterday, said that she had heard that her neighbor was getting rid of their chickens, in preparation for a bunch of new chicks - and that they didn't want their slightly older "girls" hen-pecking the young ones.  She would check into it for me... and then this morning, she called me back and said, "come and get them"!

We gathered up a box to put the ladies in, then called Shirley, to tell her that we would be bringing her some babies soon... and the excitement and joy in her voice, had me almost in tears!

Well... when we got to the place where we were picking up the hens, they had decided to hide under some snarly old bushes, and they were kind of hard to coax out... one hen took off, screeching her head off, but Dan saved the day (and muddied his clothes) by crawling right on in there, and catching the first one.

And what a beauty she was!
A gorgeous, gorgeous Golden Laced Wyandotte... and not the plain white Leghorn I had been expecting!  (why was I expecting a Leghorn?  Who knows?)

   Photo borrowed from

The one that had taken off when we first got there, had gone straight back to her chicken yard, so once we got inside the yard and got the door closed tight, it was no trouble at all to catch her .

And we had another beauty!
This time a gorgeous wheaten and white Ameraucana - with her sweet little earmuffs and beard... looking so much like my Esther (we gave my small flock away a week or so back, because we're moving) that I almost cried!   I  just adore their funny little faces,  and the bonus is,  that they lay the prettiest blue eggs you ever did see!

 Photo courtesy of

We drove straight to Shirley's house just down the road from us, and when we got there, she was out preparing the coop, and getting the feed and water dishes cleaned,. for the new arrivals...  and she was almost dancing, as she was doing it!

The look of absolute joy on Shirley's face when we opened the box and she saw those hens
- her NEW hens - still has me grinning from ear to ear! 

The chickens now have a happy  new home, and my dear friend now has herself some sweet babies to dote on, and to help keep her mind occupied.

Lands sakes...   but that fragile looking little old lady, sure has a powerful and heartfelt squeeze!

All in all.... it was a great day for of us, and the chickie babes!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Thrift Store Wins & Thrift Store Losses

I've been working /volunteering at our little local thrift store since the beginning of the year, and I absolutely love it!  Not only the work itself (which involves just about everything imaginable) but I've been blessed to be able to work with, and spend time with, some amazing people.  I usually work on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and the Wednesday crew  are really some great folks to work with.  Well the folks are great on both days, and I love them all... but on Wednesdays, there are two special gals who come in at the same time as I do, and we just "clicked" right from the beginning,  if you know what I mean. 

All of the ladies I'm blessed to work with, are fun to be around, but there has always just been something special about Wally and Shirley... and maybe their "advanced" (at least to me, anyway) age has something to do with it.  They tend to treat me as the spry "young 'un" of the 3 of us, and it's somehow comforting to kind of feel "coddled by Mama figures" at my age.  These ladies both love to share their life experiences and stories, recipes and opinions, and it just makes the hours we spend together, whizz by.  It's been fascinating to listen to talk of their careers (Wally was a Botanist before retirement, and Shirley was/is still a Nutritionist - both back in the day when ordinary women didn't have "careers", so to speak) and I love to hear them talk about the dreams they've fulfilled, as well as their dreams for the future.

So yesterday was a wonderful day...

It started out with an amazing thrift store find of an old antique cheese box / pantry box, and I was thrilled when I found out that it was within my price range!

 I'm thinking that it's pre turn-of-the-century - and it's as heavy and solid as they come!

 1890's or maybe even slightly older, judging by the fasteners used to hold it together.

 It's in pretty good shape, although it's definitely showing the dings and dents of a life well lived.

And  yesterday was a bad day.

 Anyway...the gals and I worked like clockwork together yesterday, seemingly anticipating each others next move, and getting a whole lot accomplished before lunch time - with lots of laughter and talking and teasing  thrown in... which is the way it usually it is, on our day together.   Wally only works a short day, from 10am until lunch time, while Shirley is there until 3, while I and the lead person ( the "lead person" can vary week by week), continue to work until closing time.

Well, at about noon, Wally left to go next door to the Senior Center for lunch, and shortly thereafter, someone came in, and said that Wally had passed out right after eating her lunch.  911 was called, but in spite of half a dozen emergency vehicles, and at least a dozen medical personnel and sheriffs officers running in and out of the senior center, all putting in their best efforts, our Wally didn't make it.

It hit us all pretty hard.
I'm still having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that one minute we were laughing and sharing stories and recipes, and then the next minute... that those sharing and caring moments with Wally, would never happen again.

I was restless and stressed for most of the evening last night, and I kept wandering by that beautiful old cheese box, stroking it, and trying to find joy in it again, but it didn't work.
Maybe it's just too early.

Thank you for your friendship, Wally, and thank you for sharing so many of your life experiences, recipes and opinions on life in general with me.  It meant more than you know.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

You can't keep a good woman down. (New Beginnings, all over again)


Four years ago, when I  left Australia, and came back "home" to California, I thought my moving days were forever behind me. I wanted - and needed - to be near my son and his family.  But things didn't work out according to plan, and after 2 and a half long painful years, I finally realized that there are just some things that you can't change.  And not just for lack of trying, anyway.

So after a year or more of discussion, my husband and I made the decision to make another move.  Closer to other family members of mine, and closer to one of his daughters as well....  and so we bought us a house together.

So now we're moving again...  this time, all the way across the country to Hiawassee Georgia.

The house is gorgeous, the surrounds are gorgeous, and I'm looking forward to the  "big move" in just a few short weeks.  Well... not the packing and tossing and donating stuff we don't want or need, part.  But it will be so worth it, once we're finally all settled in and we can start enjoying ourselves once again.

The house is an old farmhouse, with plenty of room to move,  and to get away from each other and all the necessary updates have already been done, so all we'll have to worry about is some "we'll do it down the road" cosmetic work, like painting a few rooms.  Easy peasy stuff!
And the bonus?  Almost 3 full acres of tranquility, and one of the prettiest little trout streams running through it, that you ever did see!

Most of the dirty work here has already been done, especially since I've been busy packing things up for months now... and my sweet husband is due to head back east to the new house with the first load, about the 14th of April!  Alas... I have to stay back and take care of the animals while he does this first trip, but I should be back there and all settled in, by the end of the month.

New beginnings.... I love 'em!

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Butterfly

For quite a while now, we knew that we were going to lose my friend Jenny's husband, Peter... and our hearts were all breaking...  but stubborn man that he was, he just kept hanging in there.
And part of me - part of all of us - thought that it would never happen.

But earlier in the week, Jen asked me to call her.... and she told me then, that they were bringing Pete home from the hospital, for the last time.

I cried after I got off the phone, and I immediately started pricing plane tickets to Australia, but no matter how we crunched the numbers or where we looked, the facts is, these weeks leading up to Christmas are definitely not the time to start looking for international flights. So I decided to try later.  Closer to 'the time'.

Then this morning, I got a message from Jenny asking me to call,  and even though I knew Pete was nearing his time,  I fully expected her to tell me something funny that he had just said or done...

But all she said was:

"It's over, Katie"

I was too numb to say much of anything, and I know that she was having a hard time saying anything coherent too, so we cut the phone call short, with promises to call each other in a day or two.

So there I was, standing outside on the frozen deck at 7am in the morning, with the morning sky just beginning to lighten,  phone still clutched in my hand, and with the tears falling,  my mind just whirling and my heart breaking in two, because I wasn't there with my Jen and her family, where I needed to be.

Then something caught my eye...

It was a bright blue butterfly, swooping and darting around me in the icy air and half dark morning, and I said out loud, 
"but it's the wrong time of the year for butterflies!"

And then I heard 

"But not for Angels... it's never the wrong time for Angels."

  Goodbye, Peter... we will always love you.

Jenny, Emily, Ben, Matt, David and Tammi ...  I love you all.

Monday, May 25, 2015

But it's not for them...


Memorial Day.

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America.

Now, back in the day, Decoration Day was originally started because of the Civil War - as a special day set aside for the sole purpose of honoring those who had fought - and who had died - on both sides - during that war.

Here's a little background:

 Columbus Mississippi was a small town of about 6,000 people during the Civil War. Since Columbus was  near a rail line, they received many mainly Confederate casualties of war, including those from the Battle of Shiloh in April, 1862, in nearby southwestern Tennessee. During the two days of that battle, a total of almost 3,500 soldiers were killed on both sides, and over 16,000 wounded. Columbus's share of the casualties led to its becoming well known as a hospital town.
 By the war's end some 2,500 Confederate soldiers are thought to have been buried in the Friendship Cemetery in Columbus—along with, according to the National Archives, 32 Union soldiers as well. (As part of a nationwide effort to relocate Union soldiers to national cemeteries, those soldiers were later re-interred at Corinth National Cemetery, in northern Mississippi.

 A year after the war's end, in April, 1866, four women of Columbus gathered together to decorate the graves of the Confederate soldiers. They also felt moved to honor the Union soldiers buried there, and to note the grief of their families, by decorating their graves as well. The story of their gesture of humanity and reconciliation is now told and retold in Mississippi as being the occasion of the original Memorial Day.

As far as I can tell, the stories (and there are many of them) differ in who actually started Decoration Day, or even where it was started... but the gist of the story is that the men who died, were offered respect for their sacrifice, no matter which side they had served on.

Even though Decoration Day later became known as "Memorial Day",  the purpose for which it was originally started, has never changed.

It's sole purpose is for honoring those men and women who went away to war, and who never came home alive

I hate to be a nit-picker, but those words 
"those who never came home" 
is the whole point of the "holiday" now known as Memorial Day.

This isn't a day for remembering your Uncle Joe, who served in the Korean War, and then came home to marry his sweetheart,  raise some kids, and who then continued to live on for another 30+ blessed years.

This day isn't for someones daddy or someones husband, who were good and decent men, who fought valiantly and honorably in Vietnam or WW1 or any other war... but who still managed to come home. Even if  he did have physical or emotional wounds that he was forced to deal with, until he died some 40 years later.

This isn't for my Grandfather, my Dad my Uncles, or even my  neighbors, who made it home from whatever war they fought in.

This day isn't for any of those men who managed to return home, and who then managed - successfully, or sometimes unsuccessfully -  to get on with their lives  and who eventually married, had jobs, those  who could come home, and hold their mothers and fathers tight, as well as their sweethearts, their wives, their children, and eventually their grandchildren.

I mean none of those men and women any disrespect whatsoever, or any lack of honor.
Because they ALL did a noble and honorable thing by fighting for their country
Even if they didn't always get the respect that they so richly deserved.

But "their" holiday is Veterans Day - when we as a country honor them for their service, and to celebrate them coming home.
They are well and truly Veterans of War... but they survived.

But "Memorial Day." ??  Well,  this day is set aside for the sole purpose of honoring those men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Those men and women who came home in caskets.

Those men and women who came home in body bags.

Those men and women who were never found, who were MIA, or who were never identified by their remains.

Memorial Day is their day.

Give them their due.

Give them the respect that they have earned, and please set aside this one day a year, to respectfully remember them.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

It's the Little Things that make me smile...

I love Hummingbirds.


I can sit outside on the deck for hours each  morning, as well as on and off throughout the day, just watching these little guys and observing how they interact with each other - and with me.

I love the Anna's
and the Rufus'
the Ruby Throats 
the Allen's
and another little guy (or rather 2 of them) that I have yet to identify.
Maybe they're Black-Chinned Hummers?

(Click on the photos to enlarge)

 The ones in the photo above, remind me of tiny little Orthodox Jews... with their black Yarmulkes or skullcaps, and their "side curls", but I'm not sure what species they are. 

We've got adults, and young 'uns and I guess you would call some of them fledglings... Little tiny ones straight off the nest anyway, who are way too tiny to perch and drink at the same time.

The  Anna's Hummingbird is the most common hummingbird found in California - although there's nothing at all  "common" about it's beauty - and it's also the largest of the species.

Resting my weary wings...

Aren't they gorgeous little guys?

 Female hummingbirds of every species lack the gorgets ( the colorful throat patches) that the males have, and are usually a softer green/gray in color.
Females also have slightly rounder tail feathers with white tips on them that look like tiny little ruffles.. The female  Rufous' will have some coppery-orange coloring that shows on their mainly buff colored sides (especially on their wings) in the right light., whereas the Allen's will show more  a slightly greener tinge.

The coppery Allen's Hummingbird  live here year-round, and can be easily confused with the seasonal Rufous Hummingbird... but Allen's have a green back, whereas the Rufous has a much more coppery back, and the males have a bright iridescent orange throat patch.

When the Rufus' appear at the feeders, everyone goes on guard, because these little pint-sized guys are aggressive as all get out!
I can fill the feeder 2 or 3 times a day, and if it's empty when I get up in the morning, the Rufous's are the first to let me know about it!
They've knocked my glasses off my face, dive-bombed me, and have even flown close enough to actually poop in my coffee cup, because when they're HUNGRY,  they just don't let up!
Humming bird poop is about 90% liquid sugar, but I sure as heck don't recommend taking a sip of that pooped in coffee, because it tastes like
shit poop.

Or so they tell me, anyway.

They'll swoop me, and dive bomb me... flying back and forth from me to the feeder, and chirruping as loud as they can, to let me know that I'm failing in my duty.
And when they're really ticked off, they'll give a "tail snap" to let you know that they're reaching the end of their tether!

Your duty is to feed us... so don't bother wandering too far away.

C'mon!  Hurry up with the food, will ya?  We have places to go, and things to do!

I love these little guys!!


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