Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year’s Day holiday 2012. . .

But for all intensive purposes it is not happening until January 2nd!

I watch the Rose Parade on TV every New Year’s Day morning but, because January 1 falls on a Sunday this year, it has been moved to Monday. 

It just won’t be the same!  What will I do on New Year’s Day morning while I am drinking my Mimosa?

Most years I take my Christmas décor down on New Year’s Day.  But. . .New Year’s Day is not the New Year’s Day holiday so what’s a body to do? DSCN6525Gary’s Raider’s ornaments: down they come!  These are just his Christmas ornaments; he has a whole stash of Raider gear which he places around the 5th wheel on game day!DSCN6530My beach/serenity garden will return to normal.  Nativity scene will be replaced by one of my eight Adirondack chairs. The wreath on the chair in the photo will be covered with a shell. (The garden contains a mixture of sand, shells, rocks and found objects I gather from beaches as we travel throughout the country.)DSCN6558My bells will get packed away until next Christmas.  Isn’t it funny how a collection becomes a collection?  Mine started with the silver bell to the right of the large white bell near the center.  Don & Lee gave me this sterling silver beauty many years ago.  Some were my Moms and others I have picked up at thrift stores and after-Christmas sales.DSCN6572OK, I am going to stop agonizing, moaning and groaning about New Year’s holiday 2012.  The reality is that I am totally off the hook this year because I am kicking back with sister Micki in Ventura! We will most likely watch the new HGTV shows like RV 2012 and the 2012 Dream House.  No football-yahoo!

One of my favorite sayings is “I’m flexible” so I will be flexible about this frustrating New Year’s Day holiday situation!

Happy New Year


Blessings to my blogging friends

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Lunch. . .

Yesterday we met our Fresno Five at one of our favorite restaurants Espanas Southwest Bar & Grill.  Los Banos is a half-way point for us to drive from Monterey and Russ and Denise to drive from Fresno and perfect for our Christmas lunch.


It is always interesting to observe what young ones order.   Stanley ordered white rice, Mary cheesy nachos and Will, as usual, ordered dino chicken nuggets from the kid’s menu.  Will always checks his dinosaur nuggets and identifies each: “yes, this is a bronto…, this a t-rex” etc. This year he ate them unlike last time when he wrapped them up to take them home for his collection!

It was a fun few hours of visiting (everyone talking at once- “I’m in Girl Scouts, I’m playing basketball this year, I read this book. . .”,) eating and unwrapping the presents their older cousin Jorden had bought for them.   It made our Christmas pretty complete; all four (of the most wonderful) grandchildren in one place!  We are seeing Gary and Vivian tomorrow but will miss Kelle and Joe who live in Texas.  Just hung up from talking to Kelle  where we compared our  nearly identical Christmas Eve dinners:  chili, tamales and cornbread, the same Christmas Eve meal we had while she was growing up!  Traditions. . .

Before we parted ways, us back to Monterey and them home to Fresno Denise pulled a a pan of her famous lemon bars out of their van.  Another tradition.  She makes them every Christmas for me!  Everyone likes them but I absolutely LOVE them!


Did you buy new p.j.’s for your children each Christmas so they would look good for Christmas morning pictures?  This is Gary, Russ and Kelle on Christmas morning a bunch of years ago! 


Wishing you a

Blessed and Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas books. . .

In addition to loving  the whole of Christmas I have a special affection for Christmas books. These are the Christmas books I have in the Christmas décor bin we carry with us.  I have more in storage but, as you might guess, space is at a premium in the basement hatches of our fifth wheel RV home.DSCN6728

Among my many Little Golden Books are these three 1970’s Christmas books. Did you know that over two billion Little Golden Books have been printed since 1942? DSCN6723Many years ago I developed a special liking for “The Night Before Christmas”  after Gary’s Grandma Lottie gave our two sons (Kelle hadn’t come along yet) this velvety  version of Night Before Christmas. The price on the cover is 39cents.DSCN6563

So, my children’s Great-Grandma Lottie got me started on a tradition that I have continued with my grandchildren Jorden, Stanley, Mary and Will and now, this year, with my first great-granddaughter Aubree.   On their first Christmas I have given each of them a version of Clement C. Moore’s The Night Before Christmas.   The original title of this poem, first published in 1823, was “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” and I’ve also seen it called Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Aubree’s is illustrated by one of my favorite artists Mary Engelbreit.  One of my other favorite illustrators is Jan Brett.DSCN6717 

The Night before Christmas books in my collection.  Cajun Night Before Christmas is a not-so-traditional version I bought in Louisiana.DSCN6577

This version illustrated by Will Moses, grandson of Grandma Moses, included an ornament.


Of course the best night before Christmas story is found in this book!  As I was taking photos of my Mom’s Bible I was thinking I should place something a little Christmasy, maybe a red ribbon or piece of greenery, on the page.  Low and behold this “The Birth of Jesus Christ” postcard literally popped out of the Bible!  “Mom, how did you do that?”DSCN6738

We all know the final words of the poem:

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Into the past. . .

A few years ago I started doing a Christmas newsletter.  This 1992 Thomas Times is the first of the series and I have pretty much followed this format on all of them since 1992.  I created it on my computer but at that time I was not on-line to download clip art and graphics. (Was anyone?) so this first edition was a bit plain-Jane. The photo was “pasted” on and I then made copies at the copy store.  Since color copies were very expensive in 1992 I’m quite sure that it went out to friends and family in black and white format.

For volume number I use the number of years Gary and I have been married.

1992-pg 1

Page 2

1992-pg 2

What is your opinion about Christmas newsletters? Do you enjoy receiving and reading them? (Be honest, my feelings won’t be hurt; I know that lots of people REALLY don’t like them!)  Do you write one yourself?

I love writing, receiving and reading them – even the bad ones!  It is so much more interesting than receiving a card with no message.  I also love receiving photo greeting cards.

Monday, December 12, 2011

On a Journey. . .riding the rails

IMG_0528As you know Gary & I are fulltime RVers whose primary mode of traveling is a GMC truck which tows our Escalade 5th wheel home.2007 Escalade DSC07097

But for the past three months, every three weeks I have been making a round trip from Salinas to Oxnard  on the AMRAK Coast Starlight train to be with my sister Micki.

AND. . .I have fallen in love with this new, for me anyway, mode of transportation! This leisurely relaxing way to travel makes me imagine that I have gone back in time to an earlier more simple era.  (Yes, it does take longer-about 6 1/2 hours vs 4 1/2 driving time for the 269 mile trip.) 

The Coast Starlight runs from Los Angeles to Seattle. coaststarlight-map

I grew up in Minot, North Dakota (see far right top of map) and was always fascinated by, but never had a chance to ride, the Empire Builder which stopped in our town.

Me and my friends Danny, Evie, Sandy and Bonnie at the Minot Depot.  We were seeing Bonnie off to live in far away California.station girlsI took this picture from my window.  As the train winds up and through California’s Santa Inez mountains the tracks make a huge curve.   I can see the engine and first few cars of the train.DSCN6611Listening to the click of the steel wheels against the steel rails is soothing.  Take a look at the seat size and legroom compared to the total lack of on a plane.  Also, NO 3 oz. restrictions on liquids, sharp objects such as nail files, NO security lines, NO body scans, NO pat-down searches (I ALWAYS get chosen for these.)  You can get up and stretch your legs, walk to the Lounge Car, make reservations for lunch and/or dinner in the full-service Dining Car, buy snacks in the Café or Snack Car.DSCN6587One of the train stations along the route is El Paso de Robles --- “The Pass of the Oaks”.DSCN6597We have traveled Highway 101 for years where only the not-so attractive back side of 1797 Mission San Miguel Arcangel is visible.  We’ve also visited almost all of of the 21 missions that comprise California's Historic Mission Trail but not San Miguel.  It is now on our list!DSCN6590A caboose!  Don’t see them very often anymore.DSCN6632Pacific Ocean sunsets taken through my window.DSCN6444


Me, waiting for the Coast Starlight train.


P.S. After all of my talk about loving to ride the rails, I have to tell you that it was 45” late on this day!  Still love it!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Week of Thanks--giving

It’s Thanksgiving Day. . .giving thanks every day.

Thank you for the food we eat,
Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you God for everything. Amen.


We give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way. -ritual chant

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Week of Thanks--giving

Two days to Thanksgiving Day. . .giving thanks everyday.

“Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation.” Lois Wyse

Today I am thankful for generations of dots that connect the lines of my life:  my three children, my four grandchildren, and, as of 2:22 a.m. yesterday, my first great-grandchild.  I am also thankful for the dots that came before me to create a continuous line, my great-grandparents who were gone before I existed, my grandparents, three of whom were still alive and I grew up knowing and caring about, and my parents, particularly my mother.

The birth yesterday of Aubree also made me reminisce about this new great-granddaughter’s connections to the extraordinary women who came before her in our family: my strong grandmothers, Mabel and Lempi; my talented Mom, Martha; smart daughter Kelle; and sweet pea grand-daughter Mary. And to think that Aubree has the same sort of line of connection through her mother Allison! When I found the quote I thought “Wow, Ms. Wyse has already put into perfect words what I have been thinking.”

Aubree yesterday – just a few hours old! Before she was born I called her “Miss Baby Girl.”  Maybe this name will stick?


The dots are not all girls.  Grandson Jorden and his new daughter.


This is Papa with our three youngest grandchildren, Stanley, Mary and Will.  Our nickname for these three talented youn’uns is “The Little Ones.”

Gary and I are very sure that God blessed us with the best grandchildren in the world!


Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers. Proverbs 17:6 ESV.  Ok, I admit I have a teeny little issue with this bible verse. . . I just don’t feel like an aged grandparent.

One thankful Grammie!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Week of Thanks--giving

Three days to Thanksgiving Day. . .giving thanks everyday.

"If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people, you might better stay home."
James Michener

Today I am thankful for my full time RVing lifestyle.  Yes, I dearly love the traveling and my fifth wheel home (and my traveling companion-Gary, you know who you are) but today am thinking that I am SO thankful that I travel because I have the opportunity to try so many kinds of food!

“Go thy way, eat thy bread with job, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.”  Ecclesiastes 9:7

At one point we decided that we would buy a bottle each of white and red wine made in each of the states we traveled through.  This worked for awhile until someone in one of the (not to be named) southern states advised us NOT to buy their wine – said it was terrible.  So, we abandoned this plan. 

Later at Biltmore Estates winery we had to make sure the wine we bought  was made from local North Carolina grapes and not California grapes which is the case for the majority of their wines.  This New Mexico Blue Teal Pinot Grigio and Gruet sparkling wine were both good.


Grandson Jorden getting up close and personal to his Texas BBQ and pinto beans at Rudy’s BBQ.  Rudy’s is located  adjacent to a gas station!DSCN1453

More BBQ-this time Memphis style at Central BBQ.


And more BBQ at the Charles Vergos’ Rendezvoux in Memphis. The entrance to the Rendezvous is in an alley!  Sweet tea is a must in the South.DSCN1771

DSCN1910Meat pies are THE thing in Natchitoches (Nak a tish), Louisiana and Lasyone’s Meat Pie Kitchen is THE place for them.  The red beans and rice, with sausage for Gary, and corn muffins were also tasty too; the “doggy bag”even tasted good the next day.DSCN1907

Hush puppies, a southern (and my) favorite!IMG_0237









Another favorite is MiTierra Restaurant & Bakery in San Antonio, Texas, Tex-Mex at its best.   I was enjoying the company of my long-time friend Sandy so much I forgot to take a photo of the colorful restaurant and/or food!


Hurricane Ike did a real number on Galveston but thankfully El Gusto survived! My favorite there is their $3.99 breakfast burrito.


In New Orleans Beignets at Café du Monde  are a must.  I bought a mug to help preserve the memory of those hot puffs of dough and hot chocolate.  Gary had  traditional chicory coffee with his beignets.


We love finding out-of-the-way dives but even we may not have tried Susie’s Seafood in Morgan City, Louisiana if we’d seen it in the daylight! Inside it was packed with families eating at long red-checkered tablecloth tables laden with overflowing trays of crawfish.  My first experience of eating crawfish – I was hooked!


My high school classmate, LDee told us that G & M Restaurant in Baltimore serves the best crabcakes.  And was he ever right!  Yes, we had a “doggy bag” that day too.


I don’t know how often I had lobster during our eleven weeks in Maine but know it was a lot!  Gary concentrated on the delicious haddock which is available in the northeast.

Our final day of volunteering at Lamoine State Park was a lobster cookout.  Here are lobster all ready for steaming.


Steamed and ready to eat.  By the end of the summer I was cracking and eating them almost as efficiently as a Mainer!


And then there were also sopapillias in New Mexico, etouffee in Louisiana, catfish especially in Arkansas, New York and Chicago style pizza, the diners on the east coast, tamales in Natchez,  fried chicken at Gus’BBQ in Arkansas, Five Guys burgers (Gary said I had to add this fast food burger place-he loves it!), and, of course, we were more than ready for calamari once we were back in Monterey

So, this full-time RVer is REALLY thankful that the traveling lifestyle affords me the opportunity to try delicious food all over our wonderful country. 


Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Week for Thanks---giving

Four days to Thanksgiving Day. . .giving thanks everyday.

“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.”—Langston Hughes

Today I am thankful for rain. . .and it is, as my Mom used to say, raining cats and dogs!  I also happen to love rain, love the sound of raindrops on the roof of our RV home, love to watch the drops splashing and love walking in the rain – hey, I am waterproof! 

Maybe this love stems from the fact that my home has always been in low rainfall states.  I am a North Dakota native where the average rainfall is 17.8”, 43rd in ranking in the U.S., and my current home state of California ranks 40th with 22.2” per year.


It’s hard to capture rain in a photo.


The rain barrel is almost full!



“Into each life some rain must fall.”--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.”--Jerry Chin

rainbow thumbnailCAN336FB

“Don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines.”— Satchel Paige had a way with words, love him.

“After the rain cometh the fair weather.”—Aesop. That’s what is wonderful about living in California, LOTS of fair weather!

“That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.”-- Deuteronomy 11:14

The rain may have not been the primary reason I chose this verse. . . perhaps it was the reference to wine?


And then there is this nursery rhyme which I love except that I don’t want the rain to go away.rain rain go away thumbnailCAF9HUV2 Yes, it is still raining cats and dogs. . . and I am thankful!