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Ten Things of Thankful: Happy Father's Day Edition

  Baby me, sitting on the floor, looks up at my dad sitting on the sofa, as he smiles down at me I've been extremely fortunate in my life: my parents provided me and my siblings with a very stable childhood. We had a roof over our heads, food on the table, physical and emotional safety, books, music, and lots of love and laughter.  Probably 3 or 4 year old me looks at a photo or small piece of paper with my dad My parents are humble people, quickly giving credit to the contributions of others, and although they won't toot their own horn, they are amazing people. One of my dad's favorite lines is, "The best thing I ever did was marry your mother." While I agree with that, as today is Father's Day, I'm going to focus on some of the things I've learned from my dad.  My dad taught me through example to dream big, work hard, and be responsible. Just because something is unusual doesn't mean it's impossible.  As a junior high school science teacher,

Ten Things of Thankful: There and Back Again (A Non-Hobbit Journey)

  Drexel wanders down the hill in our Utah backyard On Monday, I loaded Drexel into the car and we drove to Utah to spend a few days at home and take care of some errands that needed to be done there. The drive was ultimately uneventful (thankful #1): even though I apparently unknowingly stepped in gum at a gas station, I was still able to "unstick" my foot from the car floor when I needed to brake. I pulled over at the next rest stop and removed the glob of gum. After getting back on the road, I managed to avoid hitting a blue plastic water storage container that fell off a truck in Nevada, as well as a red gas can that was just sitting in a lane in Utah. We arrived to our Utah home while the sun was still up, so we were able to enjoy exploring the backyard. According to the old adage, "First year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap," our poppies (planted in 2022) are merely creeping this year. I can't wait to see how they look next year! 

Ten Things of Thankful: All Around Me

A yellow Julia Child rose bush blooms in a pot Keeping the post short and simple today, but no less thankful! 1. I'm thankful for the sound of the birds.  2. I'm thankful for the lizards basking in the sunshine. One lizard basks on the ground, another one's head is barely visible on the edge of the planter under the basil  3. I'm thankful for the bats that fly at night (and eat the bugs!) 4. I'm thankful for the cute goat kids that bleat at me as I open the gate to drive away. 5. I'm thankful for the pink petunias that brighten a corner of my patio. 6. I'm thankful for the hummingbirds that flit around the petunias and the feeders. 7. I'm thankful for the squirrels even as I hope they leave the petunias alone. A squirrel stands up, and looks over the top of a pot of pink petunias 8. I'm thankful for the rose that is in bloom. 9. I'm thankful for my grandchildren's elementary school concert, awards ceremonies, and graduation. 10. I'm thank

Ten Things of Thankful: Yee Haw and Other Flight Delights

  The view of a sunset taken from an airplane. The sky is orange and just a sliver of sun is visible. I made a quick trip to Oregon this week to visit my parents. As I waited at the airport to depart, I noticed a baby sleeping on her dad's shoulder. I was flying on Southwest, which doesn't have assigned seats. I was in boarding group B. As I boarded the plane, I noticed that the window and middle seat in the first row of the plane (the row with lots of legroom) was empty. I was surprised, but gladly took the window seat. I alternated between reading a book and looking out the window. It was so good to see the mountain lakes filled with water. I got a wave of nostalgia when I saw the peaks in the Cascade Range, as I have memories of going across the mountains to visit my grandparents when I was younger. I used to see Black Butte from the front window in my grandparents' home, but from the plane, I could see it in relation to the Three Sisters. Though Black Butte is aptly-nam

Ten Things of Thankful: A Lake Wobegon Inspired Post

  The Rosie the Riveter image from the Library of Congress Digital Collection shows a woman dressed in a blue shirt and red and white polka-dot head scarf raising a fist and showing her muscles. The image is captioned, "We can do it!" Every week, my dad would turn on the radio and we would sit around the table and listen to A Prairie Home Companion.  At the end of every episode, Garrison Keilor would sign off by saying, "That's the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average." With Mother's Day coming up on Sunday, I've been thinking about the strong women in my life, and I'm thankful for them. Two smiling 90+ year old white-haired sisters  My great-grandaunts, Golda and Olive, pictured above, were two such strong women. They were two of eight children born to George and Cora Telfer. Golda (on the left in the photo) was born in 1891, and Olive (in the dark sweater, on th

Ten Things of Thankful: Wading through the Week

  A young boy from shoulders down, dressed in shorts and blue sweatshirt, wading in a creek It's been an interesting week, one which was fairly quiet for me personally, but one which was more eventful for some family members. Some events were planned for, and I anticipated being needed to help, but it turned out I really wasn't. Other events were unscheduled, but again, my presence wasn't required. So I've had more free time than I thought I would. As I've been wading through this week, I've been thinking about how the advice airlines give to "put your own oxygen mask on first," and how that can relate to everyday life. I think when I'm on a plane, it's easy to think, "Of course I would need to put on my own mask first," but in non-aviation-related reality, it somehow seems selfish to put my own needs first. I've been realizing this week that taking care of myself first is selfless, because it allows me to be in a better position

Z is for Zuma Beach: A Free to See #AtoZChallenge Post

  A camper drives by a sign marked "Zuma Beach" I'm living in southern California this year, and decided to use my exploration of the area as my focus for the #AtoZChallenge. I'm concentrating on free to see places, though I will include locations that require a parking fee. This is the twenty-sixth post in the series. I couldn't have made it all the way through visiting places in southern California without featuring a beach, so today let's go to Malibu and take a stroll along Zuma Beach. When I visited early in April on a weekday afternoon, it was neither crowded nor empty. I imagine that on summer days or weekends it would be much busier. The beach is free to visit, but I did pay to park in the lot.  Zuma Beach is the quintessential California beach, with long stretches of sand, waves for surfing, volleyball nets set up for pick-up games, and lifeguards stations dotting the area. A few families have claimed their spots on the sandy expanse Seagulls scope ou

Y is for Yucca's Valley's Desert Christ Park: A Free to See #AtoZChallenge Post

A statue of Christ with upraised arms sits atop a hillside in Yucca Valley' Desert Christ Park I'm living in southern California this year, and decided to use my exploration of the area as my focus for the #AtoZChallenge. I'm concentrating on free to see places, though I will include locations that require a parking fee. This is the twenty-fifth post in the series. On my quest for a letter Y post, I drove out to Yucca Valley on a sunny spring day. My target was Desert Christ Park, nestled against a hillside and established when Reverend Eddie Garver invited sculptor Antone Martin to place his works on Garver's land.  A sign near the (free) parking lot tells of the purpose and early history of the park with a poem by the sculptor, which reads:  A fellow once dreamed of a grand peaceful world With banners of brotherhood ever unfurled, A world that had banished its hatreds and fears, A world freed of tensions and terrors and tears. He fashioned an object of concrete and st

X is for "X Marks the Spot": A Free to See #AtoZChallenge Post

  Lifesize pirate figurines adorn a house in Newport Beach, California I'm living in southern California this year, and decided to use my exploration of the area as my focus for the #AtoZChallenge. I'm concentrating on free to see places, though I will include locations that require a parking fee. This is the twenty-fourth post in the series. I imagine I'm not the only one, but I had to take some creative license to find a place to visit for today's #AtoZChallenge letter, X. I thought of the phrase, "X marks the spot," and went with that. In my research, I learned about a cartography museum, but sadly, they are no longer in operation. Then my mind turned to pirate maps and lo and behold a Google search unearthed the Pirate House in Newport Beach, California! The Pirate House is a private residence that certainly stands out in the neighborhood. Located at the corner of Marcus Ave and 35th Street, you can't miss it. On street parking is free, though I did ha

Ten Things of Thankful: Catching Up

  John and I with the Pacific Ocean behind us I didn't get a Ten Things of Thankful post written last week, so I'll just jump right in and try to catch up today: I took my youngest granddaughter to Disneyland days before she turned 3. (It's a popular time to take a toddler, because 2-year-olds and younger don't need a ticket.) We enjoyed meeting Mickey Mouse and riding child-friendly attractions. We got stuck on a ride I had never been stuck on before--Jungle Cruise--but we were in a shady spot on the river, and granddaughter was able to catch a nap, so I really didn't mind the delay. I'm thankful for the chance to spend time with Baby-Baby. While we both enjoyed ourselves, I was both surprised and delighted when my granddaughter asked mid-day, "Can we go to the library?" I told her that of course we would go again to the library, but it wouldn't be that day. On the ride home, she again mentioned wanting to go to the library. When I explained the l

W is for Wedding and Watching the Clock (Tower): A Free to See #AtoZ Challenge Post

  The white Spanish-style Santa Barbara courthouse, with clock tower I'm living in southern California this year, and decided to use my exploration of the area as my focus for the #AtoZChallenge. I'm concentrating on free to see places, though I will include locations that require a parking fee. This is the twenty-third post in the series. Although a county courthouse doesn't seem like a likely tourist destination, in Santa Barbara, California, it is one of the most popular places to visit. The nearly 100-year-old building boasts beautiful Spanish architecture, colorful tile accents, and detailed murals. Visitors to the open rooms are welcome--even during weddings.  An interior room in the courthouse features tiles on the stairwell and walls, a round window with floral decor around it, and a large painting A wedding takes place inside the courtroom A highlight of the courthouse is the clock tower. Visitors can go up to the top of the tower for panoramic views. They also can

V is for Vasquez Rocks: A Free to See #AtoZChallenge Post

  The Famous Rocks at Vasquez Rocks Natural Area jut up toward the blue sky I'm living in southern California this year, and decided to use my exploration of the area as my focus for the #AtoZChallenge. I'm concentrating on free to see places, though I will include locations that require a parking fee. This is the twenty-second post in the series.  Even if you have never visited Vasquez Rocks, you've probably seen them on the big (or small) screen. Wikipedia has an article that lists nearly 300 movies and TV shows that have filmed at that location. Whether your interest lies in the entertainment industry, history--the place gets its name from the Robin Hood-esqe Mexican bandito from the 1800's, Tiburcio Vasquez--or nature, Vasquez Rocks has something for you. Vasquez Rocks Natural Area is free to enter, and parking is also free. I recommend stopping at the visitor's center, not only to pick up maps and information about the different trails, but also to view some o

U is for Union Station: A Free to See #AtoZChallenge Post

  The exterior of Union Station in Los Angeles, with tall arched openings for doors and windows I'm living in southern California this year, and decided to use my exploration of the area as my focus for the #AtoZChallenge. I'm concentrating on free to see places, though I will include locations that require a parking fee. This is the twenty-first post in the series. I decided I wanted to take public transportation when I went to visit Olvera Street, because I wanted to be sure to visit the historic Union Station. It is billed as "the largest railroad passenger terminal in the Western United States." When I stepped inside, I felt like I was transported back in time.  The arched walkways and beautifully tiled floors add a sense of opulence.  The painted ceilings and the large round light fixtures in the cavernous waiting area draw the eye upward The Art Deco style clock keeps passengers informed of the time The large leather chairs in the waiting area look like they sho

T is for Travel Town: A Free to See #AtoZChallenge Post

  A black locomotive appears to be smiling at the Travel Town Museum I'm living in southern California this year, and decided to use my exploration of the area as my focus for the #AtoZChallenge. I'm concentrating on free to see places, though I will include locations that require a parking fee. This is the twentieth post in the series. Travel Town Museum in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, California, is a must-visit for any little ones who are fascinated by trains. On the weekday I visited, most guests had children with them, but I was not the only adult unaccompanied by minors, so if trains are your thing (and even if they aren't), Travel Town makes for an interesting stop. Parking and admission are free. Some of the trains are out in the open, and a couple are even available to reserve for private parties. Most of the trains are in a train shed, though, protected from the elements. One of the locomotives at Travel Town Museum A couple of rows of trains in the train shed Lo