Saturday, January 26, 2008





It's been a funny winter for us. Not too cold. Not too much snow. But it's been consistent with snow, wind, rain, and cold temps. We received about 10" of snow yesterday and everything is pretty today. Tonight it's supposed to get down to 3-9 degrees with "gusts" to 55 mph. This would make the wind chill factor -20, or 20 below 0. Brrrrrrr!

But Alaskans, we're tough! We just put on an extra layer of clothes and grab the wool socks, bundle up, and head out the door as planned. Inclement weather doesn't stop us from doing much of anything. We still run our errands, go for our rides. The outdoor enthusiasts are thrilled more than ever. We even know how to drive in more than an inch of snow!

I love sitting, looking out my window at the snow and I even don't mind shoveling it. These pictures were taken early this morning when it was still still a little dark out. It's so calm right now. No matter which window you look out of, it greets with you serenity and calmness. Hardly a bird is fluttering about. They're all home, tucked safely in their cozy nests, waiting for the snow to fall off the tree boughs. Chippy, well, I don't see Chippy when there's this much snow on the trees. But not to worry. He won't go hungry. He's been busy squirreling away peanuts all summer long. In fact, my husband found a bucket half-full of peanuts in our shed! I told him just to leave them there until spring.

Moving out of Juneau is constantly on our minds but then I think about our weather versus your weather, and it doesn't seem so bad here. Yes, last year we had over 200" of snow and it was a horrible horrible winter for our bodies, minds, and souls. We can also get minus temperatures but not too often. We get an occasional minor earthquake and have even had thunderstorms half a dozen times in my 30 plus years living here. But we don't have hurricanes or tonadoes or ice storms. We don't have the flooding or mud slides like you do down south. Our weather here is pretty consistent: a lot of rain and winter conditions we can live with. We don't have natural disasters. So for now, I guess we'll stay.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

new reading

Bought a couple new books today.... I need more books like I need a hole in the head! But next to dogs, books are my next weakness. Okay, chocolate is in there somewhere, but books, definitely, find their way into this house way too easily.

A trip to Costco today found the Barefoot Contessa's Family Style cookbook in my cart. I have most all her others and they're some of my most favorite recipes. They're simple to make and oh, so good. Tonight we're having prime rib and I thought I'd try her Parmesan Roasted Asparagus to go with it. Here's the recipe:

Parmesan Roasted Asparagus

asparagus, about 30 stalks
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 lemons cut in wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If the stalks of the asparagus are thick, peel the bottom half of each. Lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes until tender. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and return to the oven for another minute. Serve with lemon wedges.

This will be a perfect accompaniment with prime rib and oven roasted french fries!

The other book that found its way into the cart was Elizabeth Gilbert's eat pray love. The back cover says, "In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want--husband, country home, successful career--but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion." This is "One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia." This book requires a good cup of tea and a soft, comfy chair. I think I'll start this book first.

Thanks for stopping by today. Hope you had a good day!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

changing the animal world

One of my weaknesses is the unconditional love and affection we get from our animal friends. And what do we give in return? Often times neglect and abuse. It's this type of story that turns my stomach. If there's a news broadcast on about dog fighting, abusive owners, abandoned dogs, I have to put my fingers in my ears and do the ya da ya da la la la song. Don't even show me a stranded dog on an ice flow or one that has fallen through the ice and is struggling to stay afloat. I don't want to see it and I don't want to hear it.

Our own Sadie came from the pound, horribly abused. We didn't recognize abuse during our visits, nor were the employees aware of it. If I could describe the look we saw in her eyes, it was death, a blackness that just tore at the strings of your heart. Today, over a year later, she still has symptoms of abuse and we wonder if she'll ever heal completely. It breaks our heart to think that someone could have been so abusive towards such a sweet thing. But she's come a long ways in the past year and we know, without a doubt, that she's happy and content in her new life.

As an animal lover, I feel there's so much more I should be doing. But how do you choose from all the organizations out there that need our help? How can I spread my limited resources for the good of many? This week I've found a couple new sites that need some help.

Previously I've mentioned about my sister's rescue attempts. They've now rescued over 700 dogs and cats! In just over a year's time. Rescued Paws is a non-profit corporation in the State of Washington, with a 501(c)3 designation from the I.R.S. Most important, they are a no-kill organization. Rescued Paws is run entirely by volunteers; volunteers who work long, hard hours, seven days a week. They do not have a physical location where they board the animals; the animals are fostered in real homes with real people until they find their forever home. All donations are used for the care and treatment of the animals. If you ever have an extra $15, you might consider helping them out. They accept PayPal.

Recently I found a site that gives us yet another opportunity to help our precious animal community. The Animal Rescue Site provides food for unwanted animals in shelters. Each "click" on the purple "Click Here To give--it's FREE" button provides food and care for rescued animals. Funding for the food and care is paid for by site sponsors. It doesn't get much simpler than a click and it doesn't cost you a dime. Please make this a regular visit.

I also just found A Place to Bark and, like so many rescues, Bernie needs our help. Like Rescued Paws, Bernie runs and operates a no-kill facility and is dependent upon donations from the community so she can continue helping these poor little guys. She's presently trying to qualify for a $50,000 grant and needs volume of people to help. So why not take a minute to check out her story and if so inclined, give a $10 donation (PayPal) to help her realize her dream.

It's been on my mind a lot lately, how I can help more dogs and cats. There's just so many opportunities; how do you pick and choose? My mission this year is to start using more products that aren't tested on animals. Here's a few products that I've switched to: Mary Kay for beauty products, The Body Shop for body lotions, Paul Mitchell for shampoo. As the need arises, I'll search out other products to use.

If you're in search of a cause, or just have a kind heart, why not check out these links and do your good deed for the day.

"What I do, you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do. The needs are great and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can do small things, with great love and together we can do something wonderful." --Mother Teresa

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Are you joyful? Do you bring joy to others? Those are two questions asked by Morgan Freeman to Jack Nicholson in The Bucket List. My husband and I went to see this movie yesterday and loved it. Yes, perhaps they didn't convey real cancer and yes, perhaps they traveled around the world after chemo when in most likelihood they would have been too weak to do anything. But all that aside, this was great entertainment and we laughed throughout most of the movie. And the two questions: Are you joyful and do you bring joy to others, are definitely something to think about. Yes, I have a list of things to do before I die. It's not a serious list but after seeing this movie, it might become more real. What good is living life if you're not living life to its fullest? You don't need to travel around the world to feel satisfied with life. Often it's the little things that bring you the most joy. Like the dragonfly in your yard, eating mosquito larvae or the Blue Heron standing at the edge of the water.

I'd like to think I'm a joyful person. I try to find the good in most things, the positive, the silver lining because this is how I find joy in even the worst of times. Since I'm a simple person, I tend to find more joy in the little things. Sadly, it doesn't take much to humor me as my husband will agree with! Do I laugh a lot? No. Never have, probably never will.

What makes a person joyful? Being around family? Friends? Life's experiences? If you have joy in your life, are you also reasonably content with life? Being around my family and friends brings joy to my life yet I feel that I've not even begun to touch the tip of the iceberg on experiencing all that life has to offer and for that I'm discontent.

This is me rambling! I tend to do that a lot when I write.... It's how I come to my own conclusions about things; talking things out; sorting through details. It's probably me, not being at my most joyful state of mind! It's me thinking....

Do I bring joy to others? I guess you'd have to ask my family and friends that.... I try to be kind, considerate, and compassionate towards others. I try to be a good friend, a good mother, a good wife, a good sister. But I'm not certain what this means, bring joy to others.... Do I make them laugh? I suspect they laugh behind my back more than to my face! Do I affect lives in a positive way? If you have a bad cold, I'll bring you homemade chicken leek soup.... Do I bring joy to others.... I'm not certain.

Here's some items on my Bucket List:
  1. Take a cruise through the Panama Canal.
  2. Visit Disneyland with my husband.
  3. Visit Maine and gorge myself on lobster!
  4. Take Amtrak across the U.S.
  5. Go antiquing across the country.
  6. Learn French cooking.
  7. Visit Vermont in the Fall.
  8. Spend the night in a light house.
  9. Live a joyful life.

and, lastly, number 10: Bring joy to others.

Monday, January 21, 2008

a room with a view

I have this one room, I'll call "the den." The name changes over the years because it's really not any single kind of room and when I have to talk about it, I stumble over the term I use. I usually end up saying, "the room with the sliding glass door." It's a terribly awkward room. Not large enough for much. Plus it's the pathway to put the dogs outside and often becomes a mud room by the time we're done wiping them down when they come back in. There's book cases and an old chair so I guess it could qualify for a den or library. But it's a little room at the back of our house that leads to the back deck. We've lived in this house for five years now and this room has been nothing more than a passway to the outside.

Yesterday I decided to do something about it. When we bought the house, I envisioned a sitting area where I could sit, peacefully sipping my coffee or tea, watching the birds and squirrels in the nearby trees. Not any couch was going to do. I wanted one from Pottery Barn. A cranberry red couch! But it turned out to be too big so I had to go with Plan B. Only problem is, I didn't know how to pull Plan B off. I never gave up the vision of a cozy sitting area; a place where I could escape. A place where I could listen to my music, read, or do crossword puzzles. A place where I could have a cozy conversation with my daughter or a friend. This was a place I could be surrounded by the things I love. My books. My birds. And my squirrels. Just a tiny place to call my own. A place where I could become one with the outside. A room with a view.

This is what I came up with. Keep in mind it's still in the planning stages but by relocating different pieces of furniture and lighting, I was able to improve the room by 150 percent! It's still not quite the room I envision, but I'm getting there. I need to find a small round table and a couple of chairs (maybe wicker?) to take the place of the greenish dresser and the wooden chair.

But I love the screen and it's a good place to display my quilts and hang my aprons. And the blue rocker is so much happier here than in my bedroom. Mostly I love the soft glow of the accent lights at night. It looks so cozy and inviting. The dresser is so handy for storage; I have my CDs and other important stuff tucked inside, but it might not work in the overall scheme.

And did you notice, this room also works well as a Baby Boutique! I've had so much fun shopping for two little babies recently and decided to display my latest purchases over the door.

Today I'm on a search for the elusive round table and cozy seating. Maybe some new lace doilies to soften the bookcase shelves. Maybe I'll swap out the black framed artwork for roses and peonies. This room has so much potential and I'm glad that, finally, I'm making some progress.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

i love the smell....

I love the smell....

of fresh ground coffee.... especially when you have cobwebs in your eyes and your senses are still asleep.

of a newborn baby.... even a stinky little newborn baby smells sweet as a flower.

of wood smoke.... an open fire, family and friends gathered around, and you're trying to dodge the smoke..

of fresh baked cookies.... especially chocolate chip. I don't eat them though until they're cooled off as I don't like warm, soft cookies.

of my husband's deodorant.... what can I say. I love him so much and forever more, even after he's long gone, that smell will always bring me back to loving thoughts of him.

of lilacs and roses.... I must be anticipating spring!

of fresh cut herbs.... I especially like to brush them through my fingers so the smell lingers a little longer.

of home grown tomatoes, peppers, corn..... there's nothing sweeter.

of fresh sheets..... although I have to say that the Natural sheets we use don't have that same smell as other fabrics.

These are some of my favorite smells! What's your's?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

if truth be known

I've been so bad lately.... ignoring my blog friends.... But in my defense, here in Juneau it's winter and we go into hibernation mode! Seriously! It seems my stomach is so hungry for the first part of it (building up fat for the winter....) and then all I want to do is sleep the rest of it. Intent is at the top of the scale. I have very good intentions of getting winter projects done. Motivation, however, is right down at the bottom and actually getting anything completed is off the scale.... Yep, this is winter in Alaska! Course many people are busy skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing. There's never lacking anything to do if you're an outside-kinda-person. Of which I'm clearly not! I'm more content staying in the house where I don't have to exert any energy unless it's to reach for a chocolate truffle or the remote. Ha!

Not really, but it does make for a good excuse! Actually, I am so not an outdoors winter person. I don't ski; I don't enjoy traipsing around in knee-high snow. I will gladly look at it from inside. I do love shoveling snow and although it's snowed an awful lot this winter, it isn't really accumulating. It snows. Then it rains. Then it turns into a sheet of ice. Today it's raining.

Let's see, what have I been up to since my last post so very long ago.... Well, I'm busy planning a baby shower for my daughter, Tracy! This is surely a challenge for me as I've never planned a baby shower before. I've done my share of event planning for work, from fundraisers to wedding showers. But not only is this going to be a baby shower, but a couples party. I suppose this will make it easier because it'll just be a gathering of many family and friends and not as prim and proper that a baby shower might be. We'll have dogs and kids running all over the place! I've already put my order in for sunshine for April 5.... but if you all could also keep that date in your prayers for a sunshiny day, I'd greatly appreciate it! But because Juneau is rather restricted on the availability of most goods, most of my shopping will either have to be done over the internet or by the goodness of family and friends down south. Do you want to know what I've got planned so far? All I'm going to say is think pink and chocolate brown and polka dots....!

Little Hunter (my little grandbaby) is doing fine and growing like a weed! He's already almost six weeks old! The kids stopped by the other day and Hunter was actually awake and interacting the entire time. Usually he's sleeping. We had such a great time visiting and laughing; Hunter smiling from ear to ear. He just couldn't help smiling at his grandma and talking. What a precious little guy he is. And, now, I learn that Tracy is having a little girl. How lucky we are to have one of each to spoil. Oh, the fun I'm going to have! I'll probably have to return to work, just to afford having two grandbabies so close by!

I've been dreaming of somewhere sunny a lot lately. Winters in Juneau can do that to a person. It can be so dark and dreary with most days barely getting full light. It's only natural that I would be dreaming of somewhere sunny and warm. Sedona, Arizona, in fact. My husband and I had such a great time when we went there last June, and can hardly wait to return. The best part of our trip was waking up in the morning, grabbing a cup of coffee, and sitting on the front porch of our room, in our jammies, just enjoying the nice warm weather. Now THAT'S the way life should be! We don't have warm mornings like that here; not even in the summer time so it truly was a treat.

Winter in Juneau slows down quite a bit. Our hustling tourist town becomes a sleepy town. Life isn't as demanding. We don't feel as guilty by not staying busy. Summers in Juneau are rather frantic. Especially on a sunny day. There's so much to do and so little time to get it accomplished before it starts raining again. So it is nice to be able to sit and watch TV if you so desire. And.... if truth be known.... I like that part of winter.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

hope for a better me

Some years I make resolutions and other years I don't. But I make them going in with the understanding that most likely they'll be ignored.... Getting more exercise is always on the list.... and one that quickly drops off into an abyss of the unknown never to materialize.... But this year I wrote a few things down, so we'll see.
  1. Walk around the block three times a week. I think I can, I think I can. I abhor exercising but I love to walk. This time of year though the roads are an icy mess and it makes it less desirable and there's more danger of slipping and falling. But we'll see....
  2. Cut back on my fat, sugar, and salt content. I've already started buying low fat food items like mayo and salad dressings, and we're using an air popper for our nightly popcorn--with no salt added--so I'm off to a good start! It's important that I keep on track with this one because of health issues.
  3. Eat more vegetables. We already eat quite healthy and I love vegetables but for some reason I love them the most when they're smothered with butter, brown sugar, and the like.... More salads is on my top ten list.
  4. Have less debt.
  5. Read one book a week. This will be a piece of cake to accomplish. I love to read but this year I'd like to read an occasional biography or nonfiction.
  6. Be content with where I am (emotionally not physically). This one I took from Jeanetta because it's worthy of copying. And if I wish for greener pasture, something better, to have the courage to go after it.
  7. Live a more healthy life. At the age of 55, things can only go down hill from here.... and they are.... High blood pressure, pre-diabetes, ripples and rolls where there shouldn't be ripples and rolls.... But my health has never been more important to me than right now. I've seen how quickly it can go downhill and it's not so comforting. When I learned I had high blood pressure, it put me in a panic and I was fearful for my life.

All my other resolutions pretty much lead up to this last one. If I walk often, I'll feel better. If I cut back on my salt, sugar, and fat content, I'll feel better. If I lower debt, I'll feel better emotionally. Reading relaxes me and that's a good thing. 2008 will bring good things, a better me. This is a promise I make to myself and to my family.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

out with the old

2007 was a good year. Oh, we had our share of, uhm, shall we say, "moments" but they were just that. Moments in time. And in all things there is a silver lining. Here's my top list of silver linings.

  1. I started blogging! I have to admit, it's not as easy as it appears. It takes more time than I care to spend on it most days, thinking of something to write about, finding pictures (or taking pictures) to go with it. I commend all of you faithful bloggers. No matter how busy your lives are, you post. Once you get hooked on blogging, you get sucked in to other's lives. It's nice to know that if I go to my favorite sites, there will be a new blog most days. Not the case with me; I may not write for a month's time! I don't blame any friends for sticking around if I can't write a new blog most days of the week. But the silver lining is, they do. Out of the blue, I'll get a post from a long-time reader asking how I'm doing and if I'm okay. So I know I've affected others "out there" with my life as well and I hope that's a good thing.

  2. Brianna.... My husband's 17 year old daughter was still living with us. Wreaking havoc in our lives. Sucking the life out of us. Lying. Stealing. As I'm writing this, I'm thinking there's no way there's a silver lining in this so I will stop and think for a moment, to reflect back and maybe get a different perspective..... (This is me, thinking: Mike got divorced when his kids were just young; 3 and 5 I think. They grew up with the belief that their dad abandoned me. That's a harsh word for such young ones to use.... so you know where it came from. A bitter and revengeful ex-wife can do horrible damage; and she did. It's true Mike left his family behind and moved to Alaska and it's true he found a new family here. But if there was ever a man who loved his own children and who tried so desperately to stay in their lives and to blend families, it was Mike. He was relentless in staying in contact with phone call after phone call, care packages, cards, airline tickets, but there's only so much you can do if you're ex refuses to let you have any contact with your kids. So Bryson and Brianna grew up thinking and believing their dad abandoned them. Now 14 years later, Brianna is forced to come here to live because she has gotten out of control. She hates me because I'm the other woman. She hates her dad for abandoning them. Let's see. Silver lining.... Silver lining.... I could make excuses for Brianna. That her mother is verbally abusive. That maybe Mike should have been there for more important events in their lives. But it's hard to be there when you don't know there's an event.... Silver lining.... Silver lining.... During the year she lived with us, we tried to be kind, considerate, loving, and respectful towards Brianna. Regardless of her behavior, Mike would remain calm and respectful. It was clear this was not parenting that Brianna was familiar with. She came from a loud home where drinking, yelling, screaming, and fighting were the norm. This we learned after she came to live with us. Silver lining. Silver lining. Maybe if we just keep it up; keep treating her with love, kindness, and respect that maybe, just maybe, she'll take something away with her; and when the time is right, remember back when she lived a different, a better life, for a year's time. That there is a better way to live.... Silver lining... Silver lining.... End of me thinking.) Brianna called her dad a few days before Christmas. He said it sounded like she was a different person. She had moved far away from her mom and even apologized for her horrible behavior while living here. She even wanted to speak to me, to apologize. I'm not certain I'm ready for that, just yet. I would need to know that it was sincere, that she has truly changed for the better. And that would be proven by on-going actions towards her dad and I. But the silver lining is hope.... Hope that my husband will, one day, have the relationship he so desperately wants and deserves with his children.

  3. I returned to work. I love being retired but actually love going to work more. I can honestly say I miss not working this winter and can hardly wait for spring to get here so I can return to the nursery. But when my kids found out they were pregnant and asked if I would babysit for them, I was taken back a little. (Okay, I was probably just really scared about being responsible for babies after all these years.) I love working! I want to work! How could I give up doing something I love to do to babysit? The silver lining? Now that I've held my precious little grandson in my arms, I know that babysitting will come first. Oh, I'll figure out a schedule where I can do both, but babysitting will definitely come first.

  4. Hunter James.... I became a grandma! I have to admit, up front, that I never quite understood what all the "to do" was about being a grandma. I really didn't know. I had no clue..... But then Hunter James was born and I held him.... and now I know. The problem is time. I don't get enough Hunter time. There's two other sets of grandparents that also need time with Hunter--my ex-husband and his wife and Michelle's parents and all her family. Granted I deserve more time because, well, because I just do! But I reluctantly smile and wave the kids off as they head out, taking Hunter with them, to another set of loving arms.... My sister tells me this is just the way it's going to be. That I need to get used to the mother's family getting more time because that's just how it goes. The silver lining? This morning my daughter Tracy and Adam find out the sex of their baby. And if what my sister tells me is true (about the mother of the mother getting more quality time then the father's mother), then that means I'll get more quality time with my daughter's baby! Course it doesn't hurt that Adam's parents live down south! This is all said in fun and I hold no grudges against any other grandparents. Really.... ;)

As good as 2007 was, I just know 2008 is going to bring good things, good friends, good moments in time. I hope you're along for the ride.