Friday, March 31, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: California Poppies

Spring has arrived.  On Wednesday, I took off for a few hours to hike.  The weather was perfect:  the sun was shining, the wind kept itself to a cool, slight breeze (as opposed to Thursday, when the sustained wind speed was 37.5 mph), and the temperature was warm, but not oppressive.  

My Ten Things of Thankful list this week will be mostly made of photos.  Each time I climbed another hill, or turned another corner, I was delighted with the new view.  Come along with me!

The poppy fields can be seen from miles away.

Photo:  The poppy fields turn the hills in the distance bright orange.
Many other people had the same idea I had on Wednesday. The line to get into the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve was longer than I've ever seen it. Many cars turned around and decided to just park on the main street and hike into the reserve.

Photo:  A view taken from the hill, looking down on the parking lot.  Cars were lines up nearly to the main road to wait to pay for parking.
Once I finally got the car parked and started to hike, I was greeted with wonderful views.  I hiked the steepest and furthest trails, and was rewarded by moments of solitude.  

Photo:  A silvery-colored small bush (rabbits' brush?) in the foreground in a field of orange poppies
Photo: A Blue Dicks flower provides contrast against poppies and yellow wildflowers

Photo:  Another Blue Dicks flower, with orange poppies in the background
Photo:  A close up of a California poppy
Photo:  A trail winds uphill through patches of yellow, blue, and orange wildflowers
Photo:  Bright orange poppies in foreground, snow-capped mountains in background
Photo: A particularly solid swath of poppies on the hillside
Photo:  A closer shot of a patch of poppies
Photo:  The poppies seem to go on forever, with mountains in the distance
Photo:  The trail goes through the middle of a poppy field
Photo:  Looking to the north, the valley is filled with orange poppies
Although I've seen rattlesnakes in previous years, the only ones I saw this time were on the warning signs.

Photo:  A sign warning of rattlesnakes
I did, however, see numerous lizards. 

Photo:  A Side-blotched Lizard suns itself on the trail
Thanks for coming along on this virtual hike!  I'm thankful for spring and for the beauty of the flowers.  I'm also thankful for John, who is going to be done with work for the day soon and then we're heading out on a date, so I'm going to get this posted without further ado.  

What are you thankful for this week?  Go visit the Ten Things of Thankful blog to see what other bloggers are thankful for, or to link up your own post. 

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Six Sentence Story: Fault

Sometimes, it takes me a while to figure out what I will write for Six Sentence Stories.  Other times, like this week, I had a story jump immediately to mind.  This week's prompt:  Fault.

The light fixture above the table swayed, and a persistent rattling sound came from the apartment upstairs.  

Photo:  A small apartment's kitchen and dining area, with a hanging light fixture above the round table

"Helena's usually so quiet; I wonder if she's taken up aerobics."

On October 1, 1987, at 7:42 a.m. (give or take a few seconds for the truth to sink in) I realized I was experiencing my first earthquake.  When the earth quieted again--after what seemed like minutes, but was really only seconds--my nerves quieted, too, and I thought, "So this is what I can expect living here in southern California." Later, I learned that most earthquakes would be less intense.  The Whittier Narrows earthquake ultimately registered as a 5.9 on the Richter scale, resulted in 8 deaths and 200 injuries, and revealed a previously-unknown fault line.    

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

#52Stories Project: Work

Although I haven't joined in every week for the #52Stories project, I do want to participate as often as possible.  This last week's prompt was: Who taught you how to work?  What would you want your children and grandchildren to learn from your example?

Answer one question per week as part of the #52stories project from FamilySearch.

My parents taught me to work.  From a young age, I was included in family chores.

Photo:  Impish toddler me stands on a stool next to my mom in the kitchen and rolls out dough with my little rolling pin.

Photo:  Me as a young child, standing in the doorway between our kitchen and utility room, looking over my shoulder with a broom in one hand and a dustpan in the other.

Photo:  Me as a young child, vacuuming the living room rug with an old blue canister vacuum

Work didn't just include normal, everyday chores.  Work included big projects, too.  We landscaped the front yard.  We painted the exterior of the house.  Then we moved on to a much bigger project: building a new house, and ridding the property of Scotch broom.  

After the new house was framed, and the exterior walls and roof were up, we moved in and continued working.  Lest you doubt me, I found a few photos for proof:

Photo:  High-school aged me, painting dresser drawers in the living room in front of a wall of insulation
This next photo doesn't seem to demonstrate the concept of work, but when I adjust the exposure, you will see that we lived in a construction zone (which very much did represent a lot of work!)

Photo:  Me dressed up for some long-forgotten reason

Photo:  Table saws under the stairs in the living room.  The piano now takes its place of honor in that exact spot.
Back in the day of film (as opposed to digital photos), everyday life wasn't documented in photos as frequently as it is today.  Even though I don't have photos of the hours we spent pulling up Scotch broom and burning the big piles, I have memories of those work days--and they are pleasant memories.  I might have grumbled a bit at the time, and I'm pretty sure I got a blister or two, but there is something worthwhile and satisfying about hard work.  I hope that my children and grandchildren will learn the joy that comes through work and accomplishing hard things.

I'm thankful for hard work.

Who taught you to work?


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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: Everything on the Calendar Edition

"I know!  Let's plan it for March 25th!" said the planners of the local Home and Garden show, the LA County Airshow, the Guide Dog Training Day, and the General Women's Conference. Fortunately, the Home and Garden show started on the 24th, and the LA County Airshow participants were practicing on the 24th, also (as well as earlier in the week).  The Guide Dog Training Day will be held in the morning of the 25th, and the General Women's Conference starts later in the afternoon.  I'm in for a fun weekend!

Before we get to upcoming events, though, let's look back over the past week:

1.  I'm thankful for the friends in my lunch group.  We share laughter and tears, and our conversations run from humorous to deep.  It's always fun to get together.

2.  I'm thankful for the soup recipe I found.  Our lunch group is always potluck soups, salads, and desserts, and I had signed up for soup this time.  One of my cookbooks had a recipe for chickpea and brown rice soup that sounded yummy, and it was.  

3.  I'm thankful for an electric pressure cooker. Not only did I use it to cook the dried chickpeas for the soup, I also tried hard-cooking eggs in the cooker on another day this week.  The eggs turned out great; they were easy to peel even though they were very fresh.

4.  I'm thankful for leftovers.  Soup is always better the next day, and I was able to take the leftover soup to a Relief Society meeting on Tuesday night.  

5.  I'm thankful for the Relief Society meeting, which was a birthday party.  Did you know that Relief Society is 175 years old?! 

6.  I'm thankful for a kind note I received in the mail this week from the women from my church.  It came on a good day (or rather, on a day I really needed it).  
Photo:  Pink flowers with light green stems decorate the front of a card 
7.  I'm thankful to be able to see some amazing planes flying.  The Thunderbirds are flying at the air show this weekend, and I am so impressed with the precision of their flying.  They even did some amazing skywriting to advertise the show.  Skywriting is amazing enough, but skywriting performed while flying in formation? Stunning!

Photo:  "LA COUNTY AIRSHOW" in skywriting against a deep blue sky
Photo:  The F-16 Thunderbirds fly in formation 
8.  I'm thankful for my children.  Youngest daughter and I went to see "Beauty and the Beast" on Wednesday night.  It was nice to laugh together.  (Now if I could only get the catchy tunes un-stuck from my mind!)

9.  I'm thankful for the continued evidence that spring has arrived. I hope to get out to the poppy fields soon, but in the meantime, here is a photo of some lovely wisteria that I captured on a recent Disneyland trip:

Photo: Lilac-colored wisteria blossoms hang down against a blue sky
10.  I'm thankful for John.  We went together to the home and garden show, but the first thing we did when we got there was go watch the practicing Thunderbirds, who were flying nearby.  John didn't mind that I wanted to take photos first, and he loved watching the planes fly in "fourmation," "fivemation," and "sixmation!"  Such a clever guy I married, and it makes me chuckle how much he enjoys his jokes.  

Well, soon I need to be at the Guide Dog Training Day.  Our puppy club has invited other puppy clubs to join us for a few hours of socialization experiences.  Puppies in more urban areas don't always get the same experiences that our puppies here in the desert have, so we invite the other clubs to join us as we introduce the puppies to horses, chickens, tractors, and dirt bikes.  They will also get to walk over different surfaces, and complete different exercises to help them avoid distractions.  It's always fun to see so many puppies together, and for the puppy raisers to have a chance to compare notes and ask questions. 

What is on your agenda today?  Did all of your activities get planned for this weekend, or are you enjoying a more relaxed pace? What are you thankful for? Comment below, and go to to read more posts and/or link your own post.  

Ten Things of Thankful

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Friday, March 24, 2017

A Question, Compassion, and the #PrinceofPeace

"How would you feel?"  

As a young child, I heard my mom ask me that question quite often. It was her way of teaching me to think beyond myself, to try to understand the perspective of others, and then to recognize how my actions might be interpreted by others.  Through her question, I learned to share my toys, say "please" and "thank you," and to cover my mouth when I sneezed.  

Mom didn't just question me, though; she taught through example. 
I remember Mom providing transportation and moral support to a friend whose daughter was in the burn unit of the hospital.  I remember Mom babysitting another friend's severely disabled baby so the friend could have an hour or two of respite.  I remember Mom comforting a friend whose child was diagnosed with leukemia.  I remember Mom talking on the phone, providing a listening ear to anyone who needed it.  

I also remember driving with Mom to the one-story building that housed the old folks.  Mom went there often, not out of duty, but out of compassion.  She wasn't related to the woman she visited, and she hadn't known her in her younger years.  She visited because she thought to herself, "How would I feel?"  

The woman Mom chose to visit on a regular basis was not some sweet little old lady who greeted Mom with a smile and a twinkle in her eye.  On the contrary, Mom visited a woman who spent her days in bed moaning and screaming incoherently.  Mom would go into her room, carry on a one-way conversation for 15 or 20 minutes, then leave with a promise to return again soon.  This ritual continued unchanged for months, until that one day.

Mom had gone into the room as usual, and had been greeted as usual with the wailing of this woman's cries.  Mom cheerfully spoke over the screams.  Suddenly, the old lady grew quiet--and then she spoke!  

"I love you!" she declared.  

And then, as quickly as the moment came, it passed.  Mom was blessed to receive verbal confirmation that her visits were meaningful to that dear woman.  Even if she hadn't heard those words, though, Mom knew that her compassionate visits  brought peace to both the giver and the receiver.   

Mom continues to exhibit compassion now, as she manages the care of her 100-year-old mother.  Through regular communication with the staff of the nursing center, and frequent visits, she assures that my grandma's needs are met and that she is comfortable. 

Photo:  Mom talks with Grandma at Grandma's 100th birthday party

In the New Testament, we read in Matthew 25:

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Those who helped others showed compassion.  They answered the question, "How would you feel?" and then followed that with action.  

Of course, Jesus Christ was the perfect exemplar of compassion. His entire life was a life of service to others, done out of love.  He healed the blind and lame. He cried with those who mourned.  He forgave those who sinned.  He fed the hungry.  He willingly atoned for the entire world, giving all the opportunity to return to our Father's presence. 

This Easter season is a perfect time to learn more about Jesus Christ and His example.  Beginning one week from today, on March 31st, a new Easter campaign, #PrinceofPeace, will go live on .  It will focus on several principles, including compassion, which guided Jesus Christ's life, and how those principles can bring peace.  

I'm thankful for Jesus' example,  for my mom's gentle question, "How would you feel?" and for her compassionate nature.

What examples of compassion have you noticed?  I'd love to hear your stories!

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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: Survived the Ides Edition

(Let's see, I need an intro). . . . (minutes tick by). . . . (letters appear, then disappear). . . . (still got nothin'). . . . 

Without further ado, I'm jumping right into the list this week:

I'm thankful for friends:  (1) those who stopped by just to visit, (2) online friends who reached out through email, (3) a visiting teacher who popped in with yummy St. Patrick Day cookies, (4) those we caught up with at a wedding reception last night.

I'm thankful for the beauty that is mid-March:  (5) warm temperatures (6) blooming flowers (7) green plants everywhere.

I'm thankful for (8) ceiling fans when the nights seem too warm.

I'm thankful for (9) the completion of the filing of taxes.

As always, I'm thankful for (10) John.  

How has your week gone?  Comment below, then visit the Ten Things of Thankful blog to link up, and to read what others have to say!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: Preaching to the Choir Edition

It's Sunday.  I attended church this morning, and as I sit down to write my TToT post for the week, I'm thankful for the habit of gratitude this blog (and this blog hop) has helped me develop.  I know I'm preaching to the choir, but let me explain a major benefit of gratitude, as I understand it.   Before I do that, though, feel free to sing along with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir:

Phillipians 4:6-7 says:  "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." 

In other words, as we express gratitude, we are blessed with peace--even peace when the situation doesn't really seem to warrant peace. 

It's been a bit of a week, shall we say, and I'm a little tired.  I have much to be thankful for, though, and as I think on those things, I find joy and peace. 

1.  I'm thankful for baby bunnies.  

Photo:  A tiny baby bunny bottom is camouflaged among the dirt and weeds

Photo:  A baby bunny at the corner of the block wall

2.  I'm thankful for blossoming trees and flowers.

3.  I'm thankful for new fish in my aquarium.  As I was looking at the tank the other day, I noticed 2 tiny little fish.  Apparently one of my fish gave birth, and at least a couple of the fry have survived.  

4.  I'm thankful for homemade blueberry muffins.  It has been a long time since I've baked muffins, but I whipped up a dozen this afternoon.  I love the smell (and the taste!)

5.  I'm thankful for a cleaner house.  I've been able to take some time to pay attention to some neglected areas this week.  I love it when my surroundings are clutter-free.

6.  I'm thankful for music.  I've played the piano more this week, thanks to my new calling as Primary pianist.  John and I also went to a concert by The Irish Rovers last night.  

7.  I'm thankful for friends, near and far.  As I was talking to my neighbor today, we discovered we were both at the concert last night. Even though we must have left the neighborhood and come home at different times, and even though we sat in different areas of the theater and didn't see each other, it was fun to realize we shared an interest. 

8.  I'm thankful for prayer.  Not only should we express thanks in prayers, we can also request help, and we can receive peace. 

9.  I'm thankful for sleep.  I know that we lost an hour this week, but I am still thankful for a comfortable bed and the chance to rest. 

10.  I'm thankful for John.  We went to the temple together Friday night (and to The Irish Rovers concert on Saturday). We really do enjoy our time together, and the temple always brings peace.  

What benefits have you found from expressing thanks?  What are you thankful for this week?  Comment below, and if you'd like to write a Ten Things of Thankful post, link it up at the Ten Things of Thankful blog!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

"I Will Go Before Your Face." March 2017 Visiting Teaching

I am really loving the visiting teaching messages so far this year! January's message was about the purpose of Relief Society.  I though that was an especially timely message, and a contrast to the women's march that happened that month.  Last month, the message was about Christ's atonement being evidence of God's love.  This month, the message is about the enabling power of Christ's atonement.  

These visiting teaching messages have reminded me that there is an inherent power in love, and that by aligning ourselves with Jesus Christ we can all be strengthened, individually and collectively. I can have peace even in trying times, and can confidently go forward in life.  

Photo caption:  "I will go before your face.  I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." (Doctrine and Covenants 84:88)

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Thanks for love, peace, and assurance that comes through Jesus Christ.

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Six Sentence Story: Where There's a Will. . .

The word "impossible" isn't in my family's dictionary, and I am proud of the examples I have of loved ones who have tackled difficult tasks.  Today's Six Sentence Story is one of those examples that really impressed me as a child, and still impresses me.  This week's prompt:  Will.

Everyone knows that homegrown tomatoes are superior to what you can find in the store, but what can you do when you live in Sisters, Oregon, where the growing season is short?  

Grandpa knew just what to do; he went out to the backyard and started digging a hole deep enough for a man to stand up in, and long enough and wide enough to plant more than enough tomatoes for himself and Grandma.  

Some naysayers might have questioned his plan, but the garden bunker gradually took shape.  The transparent roof went on, the watering system was installed, the beds were ready to plant.  That year, Grandpa spent a lot of time underground, and his efforts paid off in a spectacular fashion. 

Thanks to the insulating earth, the warmth inside that underground greenhouse extended the growing season significantly, and homegrown tomatoes became a nearly year-round crop for Grandpa and Grandma.  

Photo:  Grandpa stands next to a massive tomato plant which is growing in his underground greenhouse.

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Thanks for hardworking, innovative relatives.

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