Tuesday, August 31, 2010


G is for GANNET
Gannets are large sea birds which are found in only a few places of the world.  I grew up in Flamborough, on the North Sea where the high Bempton cliffs were only 2 miles away and where a fair-sized colony of Gannets can be found.  I had no idea then how privileged I was to see this magnificent seabird.  They are white with black wing tips and light tan heads when they are fully grown. Their amazing wingspan is as much as 5-6 feet across and they dive from  great heights like a bullet into the sea when they spy food.  Their name is often linked with the Boobies (another seabird) but they are much more graceful and spectacular

As well as the colonies in Northern England, they can be found in Scotland, Norway, Canada, New Jersey, Australia and New Zealand.  I have been fortunate enough to see Gannets in a number of places in the world.  Some of the photos below are not too good as it is hard to take good photos on a rolling ship with surf breaking over rocks not too far away

GANNETS in Norway

GANNETS on Bempton Cliffs , Yorkshire UK

GANNETS  in New Zealand

More GANNETS in New Zealand

GANNETS mate for life and have been known to live for as long as thirty years


Saturday, August 28, 2010


The shelter where I volunteer has many cats and kittens.  In one room they have four cats together, living communally.  Two of them are about 5 years old -- not the prettiest cats but they are my favorites because they have the sweetest nature.

 This is STERLING, obviously because he is silver in color.

Here he is again looking lovingly at me.  He follows me around the room.  When I move to another place to sit, he follows.  He would sit and let me pet him all day I think. His fur is not the soft, cuddly kind and his eyes have a hint of copper to them as in the second picture.  His soul-mate is...

A sweet ginger cat.  He came in with an abscess and had to have surgery.  The fur is beginning to grow back now.  But again he has a sweet, sweet nature.  He and Sterling have been at the shelter for about two months now and are the best of friends.  Too bad they are bypassed because of their looks, when they would make just ideal pets. 

In the same room is SUNNY.
She is a Manx tortoiseshell (tailess).

She also loves to be petted by the hour, but she's a bit of a loner when it comes to the other cats.  If they get too close to her she hisses, so like the good natured cats they are they avoid her.  She is about five years old also.  But she has absolutely no problems with humans.  She has been in this room about two weeks.  Too bad I couldn't get a photo of her facing the camera. 
The cats have all kinds of cushions, blankets, and kitty furniture with hidey holes.  
These are my three favorite cats because I get to interact with them every time I go in for as long as I like.

Now come THE BIRDS...
Every afternoon you will find the sparrows and finches sitting in a row on my fence in the afternoon sun.  There are ten in this picture counting the one in the bushes.  But I have counted as many as seventeen, with even more in the hibiscus.  They look like they are in school.  I had to take this photo through the kitchen window.

These two photos are of the phoebe.  It is a fly catcher and usually sits on the fence where the sparrows are, but has now chosen an old palm leaf close to the feeders.

Finally, here is my painting of the white crowned sparrow, done for Wanda's Challenge. Click on this to visit Wanda and her Laundry Room Art Studio.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Christopher Hitchens is a well known author and a self professed and confident atheist.  He is also dying of cancer.  I read the following  about him in WORLD magazine this week and it about took my breath away.

WORLD reported that, "Christopher Hitchens said 'I am dying'.  He said that he remains an atheist and that if he ever has a deathbed conversion, that would only mean that the cancer has spread to his brain."  (WORLD magazine , August 28, 2010, page 18).

I am a pastor's wife and a Christian of 55 years.  Of course I'm meant to be shocked.  Poor little old lady that I am, so naive and gullible!  

Such arrogance and defiance in the face of God is shocking to me.  You see, as strongly as Hitchens denies God and mocks those who believe in Him, I just as strongly and perhaps more vehemently, believe in God, man's  sin and Christ's forgiveness.  

Do you think I have lived these 55 years as a Christian and never read or heard atheistic arguments before and that's why I am shocked?  You would be very, very far wrong.  I have studied my faith, the Bible, Church history, various church doctrines and theologies and religions, as well as those who expound opposing arguments.  I am well educated and somewhat of a sceptical person.  

So why am I so shocked?  Because if Hitchens is wrong, he has just shaken his fist in the face of his Creator, the almighty, all powerful God. I wonder how shocked Hitchens will be when he faces his Maker.

However, He does add to his comments quoted above, "Pray for me if you wish."     Death is the great leveler.

God says, "I love those who love me and those who seek me diligently will find me."  Proverbs 8:12

Wanda's Art Challenge

This is Daisy Mae from Wanda's Art Challenge
It is done in watercolors and a little pen and ink.

I have another one to do this week -- one of my favorite birds, the white crowned sparrow, based on a photo taken by Abe Lincoln.  This will be fun.  I'm having such a good time with my paintings.  Thanks Wanda for the Art Challenge.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

F is for ....


This is also known as Curbar Edge and is located in the beautiful Peak District of Derbyshire UK., roughly speaking between Bakewell and Sheffield.  The purple in the photo is heather in bloom.

The Edge, which is several miles long, bounds the Derwent River Valley on the east side.  Once you're up and over the Edge you are on flat moorland and on your way to Chesterfield.
Froggatt is important to me because in the valley close to the River Derwent is Cliff College where my husband and I met for the first time. Later in 1965-66 we lived for a year on the college estate while my husband was on staff as an Evangelist.  Cliff College was at that time a Methodist Training College for Lay preachers and evangelists. It has since grown academically and I believe offers university degrees.

There were a number of houses on the estate  for those who worked at the college.  This is where we lived, the last cottage in a row of three located adjacent to Froggatt Edge.  There were fields in front of us and behind us and of course the inevitable sheep.  Our first son, Glyn, was eighteen months old when we moved there  and it was my greatest delight to put him in the stroller, no matter the weather, (we could put the hood up and the rain-cover over him and we would walk the two miles into the village of Baslow, where I would get a cup of coffee and then we walked home again.  Even though my husband's schedule was to be away for ten days and home for four all year long, the year holds very happy memories.  I loved the beautiful landscape, the animals, the little cottage,(two rooms and a small kitchenette downstairs and two bedrooms and a small bathroom upstairs.)  From our tiny living room we could see all the way down the valley to the Chatsworth House Fountain that shoots at least 50 feet in the air.

This was the view of Froggatt Edge from our house.

...and this is the view from the top of Froggatt looking down the valley.  If you can see the small patch of blue in the middle of the trees, that is the River Derwent.  Our row of cottages is somewhere on the edge of those trees.  Chatsworth house is way off in the distance.

I have been so blessed to live in many different places and in nearly all of them surrounded by exceptional beauty.  That's why I love to read your posts all you wonderful English bloggers.  I love Southern California.  I would love the desert of Arizona, but I have been indelibly impressed by the English countryside.  One day, maybe I'll tell you about Thornbridge Hall, my teacher training college which was located about 5 miles as the crow flies, from Froggatt.

For more blogs about "F" visit ABC WEDNESDAY -- you'll love it!
Thanks Denise Nesbitt, for this inspirational challenge.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I Didn't get Lost

Lots of things happening at the church right now. Possibly a new pastor -- after two years! Also had a couple of paintings to catch up with.  Then computer problems! UGH!  We'll say no more.  Now I have to get my post ready for ABC Wednesday.  I'll be back into a routine soon.  I am still visiting and commenting, when the computer will let me.
  Don't give up on me

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wednesday's Words on Thursday-- and one more painting.

This is my submission for the Virtual Paintout, which this month is located on Prince Edward Island of Canada.

Please visit Virtual Paintout to see other great paintings contributed to this blog.  I chose to do this painting of the cows because I thought it was so funny the way they were all turning very suspiciously to eye the car with the Google camera on top, as it passed.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, take a look at the link I gave above.


Last week my Wednesday Word was rather long.  So this week I will try to shorten it

"Depend on the Lord; trust Him and He will take care of you."   Psalm 37:5
As as long as I have been a committed Christian, the more I have learned to trust God.  There's a lot of things as well as people I don't trust in this world today, but I know I can trust the Lord.  Trusting a person means you have to know them personally and know that they keep their word.  You can trust a person when you know he only wants the best for you and that he has the ability to to take care of you.  
It's rather like a good marriage. A husband and wife have to trust one another, not just to be faithful, but to be the person he/she claims to be.  I have been married 50 years and I know my husband.  I have trusted him for fifty years, I can trust him for the rest.  I have been a Christian for 53 years and I have learned to know God and to trust Him.  He's not going to change.  He's given His word.  I know He will take care of me, even when things don't seem to be going well.  He didn't promise to take me out of this world and its evil, but He did promise to be with me, take care of me and lead me through it all until He takes me home to be with Him. That's Someone worth trusting. Just trust Him to do what He says He will do.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

E is for EYAM

The village of Eyam is not only a quaint little village in the northern part of Derbyshire, U.K. it has a wonderful and courageous history.

(All the photographs below are shown by courtesy of Dr. Brown and Mollie and are copyrighted by him.  If you would like to visit his web site with these and other great photos of England please  click on the LINK  here to find Dr. Phil and Mollie's Home Page. Thank you Dr. Brown.)

Well, to start with a picture of a museum is a bit dull, but look closely and you will see the weather vane on the roof is in the shape of a rat. Here's why:

In 1665/6  the Bubonic Plague (the Black Death) was raging through London and Europe. Some estimate that the number of people who died during these years was around a quarter of a million.  Some authorities say that around 500,000 people died in London alone.  As the plague spread from town to town, village to village, in England the number of deaths grew.  It is thought that originally the plague came from Holland, brought in among bales of cotton purchased by British merchants. Others say it came from further abroad and was brought by sailing merchants from country to country.  

As the plague spread northwards in England, it eventually reached the village of EYAM  located in the heart of some of Britain's most beautiful countryside, in Derbyshire. It is thought that the plague came to this little village, through a parcel of cotton cloth ordered from London by one of the villagers.  By now, everyone knew of the terrible toll the plague was taking every where it appeared.  So the brave and courageous inhabitants of EYAM made an astounding decision. 

 They quarantined themselves from the rest of the nation allowing no-one to enter or leave the village.  Food was left for them on the edge of the village and was picked up and distributed by the curate of the church. They washed everything they used in the fresh spring water from the Derbyshire hills.  But the plague was unrelenting.  It is estimated that probably 75% of the village died from the plague in 1665/6.

Nevertheless, amazingly the plague stopped at EYAM.  It traveled no further north in England, thanks to the unselfish and brave people of the village.

Cottages in EYAM where the plague ran rampant.

Meanwhile, in London,  there was another catastrophe.  The great fire of London broke out.  It spread rapidly, destroying homes, buildings and people.  Samuel Pepys and Daniel Defoe have written eye witness accounts of what seemed to be another tragic event.( go to your library for these accounts.)  But what seemed like a crippling blow was actually a blessing in disguise, for the fire cleansed the City of London of the plague.

Some of the cottages, graves and other markers of the plague can still be seen today in EYAM.  If you go to England, it is a great place to visit.

Horse troughs in use in the village at the time of the plague.

So what about the rat in the top photograph?  I think most people know that it was the rats in London and other cities of Europe that spread the disease, enabled by the communal water pumps.  
So next time you see a rat, think of the thousands of people who died because of the common rat.  But if you like rats, as some people do today, ( I am told they make good pets), remember the people who lost their lives in the GREAT PLAGUE outbreak in the 1660's and remember the stringent, self sacrifice of the people 
of  EYAM     

Visit my previous blog to see rats in action today in California.

Visit ABC Wednesday to see more E posts.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

OH, RATS !!!

We have battled squirrels and doves eating all the birds' seed all spring and summer.  We put a bell shape over the trays with only enough space to let the smaller birds in.  We put metal cones on the stand that holds the feeding trays. That foils the squirrels.  But now come the rats!  They are wood rats or tree rats, not the usual kind of sewer rat.  They can climb rapidly up the palm trees and skinny up the thin metal poles.  Their long tails wrap around everything and help them balance.

I don't mind rats and mice as much as spiders and cockroaches.

As far as I can tell from Google they are wood rats or tree rats. The largest ones are 8-10 inches long, not counting their tails -- which are longer than their bodies. They live in the palm trees and among the thatch from the fortnight lilies.  At night they come down the tree trunks and if you scare them they will go up the trunks into the palm leaves.  They were getting into the seed tray underneath the bell cap and just twined themselves around the pole and the cover to get at the seed.  So we moved the tray to a place a little further away from the palm trees but close to some bushes whose branches barely carry the weight of the birds.  That worked, because I haven't seen any more droppings in the tray. 

However they now come out in the middle of the day and mooch around the ground around the feeding poles.  The squirrels do the same (These are ground squirrels and live in holes in the ground and under the deck), but they have bushy tails and are grey in color.

  During the winter and our wet spring I put a lot of the seed on the plastic picnic table because it didn't get pools of water for the seed to become sodden and the table is on the patio and under the patio cover.  However, we stopped doing that once the rain finally gave up.

Here you can see a squirrel debating whether to jump on to the tiny feeder.  He decided against it.

The baby squirrels in late spring tried scrambling up the legs of the table.  We even had to move it away from any bushes because the squirrels would jump from the nearest bush.  Climbing up the table legs didn't work either -- for a couple of weeks. They would fall down with a bump.  
But they didn't give up.

A few weeks passed, the squirrels got bigger and stronger, until one day...

He made it! 
( Sorry the light is not so good on this, but I had to take it when he did it).
So back to the feeding tray and the bell cover and cone for the summer.

Someone told me that PEPPER would keep the rats away, so today I bought a small jar of pepper and sprinkled it around where the rats come out of the bushes.  Neither the rats nor the squirrels liked it but they just scratched it away. I had put out a whole jarful about four feet long and a couple of inches wide.  Obviously you would have to lay the pepper down inches thick for it to work.  
Then I looked at the receipt for my groceries and saw to my horror
I had paid $7.00 for the jar of pepper I had just scattered on the ground.

In the mean time the rats and squirrels, doves and rabbits have the run of my back yard.
Just to prove it, the rabbit came right up to the patio door and peered in
at us while we were eating dinner tonight.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

P.S. on 'D' is FOR...

Yes, I really should have noted on yesterday's blog that the drawings and designs are copyrighted.

 The last two need a word of explanation.  The one of the door is taken from Claude's blog.  It is based on the photo she took of  The Prison Door at the Chateau du Loire, France.  Claude's blog is an inspiration containing many wonderful recipes, photos of flowers, birds and needlework.  Although it is written in French, Google will translate for you (though, at times, not very well, I'm sorry to say.) But it's well worth visiting.
 The picture of the fishing boat is based on a postcard from Yorkshire which I adapted somewhat, but the feeding frenzy and the boat are copied from the card.  I do not intend to sell it because the original picture belongs to someone else.  I posted it here to show how my art work has developed.

And here is a leftover  'D':

I was standing outside the church waiting for my husband to pick me up, when a little Oriental lady passed by.  She was pushing a stroller all zipped up to protect the baby from the cool wind -- or so I thought.  I smiled at her and she had only gone a few steps when  a loud yapping broke out.  Across the street there was another lady taking her dog for a walk but he was very obediently and quietly walking by her side.  I looked all around and saw that the Oriental lady had stopped pushing the stroller and was unzipping the cover and this is what I saw!

She then told the story. of how her husband had accidentally run over their dog in the driveway.  Now ten thousand dollars later, at a wonderful animal hospital, the little dog was put back together.  She lifted him out so I could see him and he looked quite normal but he could only walk a few steps. So they'd had this custom  stroller made just for him and she can still take him out for walks.  I'm so glad I had my camera with me!

"See I have set before you today life and death , blessing and cursing; 
Deuteronomy 30:19 and verses 11 - 20

 I have met many people who think about becoming a Christian, but they have so many questions about God and the Bible that they get lost in the details.  They want every question answered and then they say they will be come a Christian.  But that is like looking through the wrong end of the binoculars.  If we study the Bible our whole lives we will never have the answers to everything.  That is not to say that there aren't any answers. There are many answers to many, many questions about God, Jesus Christ and the Bible but whether we accept these answers depends upon our perspective and focus -- just like the binoculars.  But some people never get past the questions.  They are stuck in the entanglements of which authority, which book, which opinion, which scholar...etc.  to believe. God has said it is really so easy, make the right choices and your questions will be resolved.

 I had a rule in my classroom at school ( in the Bible classes).  The students could ask me any question they liked about the Bible and God as long as they did it with respect, and I would answer it to the best of my ability.  If a student asked "Why did God do that?" with disgust and scorn in his voice,  he had to change the attitude of the question.  He could ask "Why did God do that?" out of a genuine desire to know the answer and I would try to answer his question.

It is all a matter of the heart attitude. If we come to Him in scepticism, pride or even anger, no answer is going to be sufficient. The mind is already made up.  But if we come to Him with a genuine desire to know if He is God, then God will answer us.

 I don't have the answers to all the questions about being a Christian.  But I do have a lot of answers for some people who have never bothered to ask the questions. Most questions cannot be answered with nice, neat little packet-answers made up of only a few words.  Many answers will only come as we study God's Word, compare our faith and questions with other Christians and ask God to reveal answers to us. Being a Christian is a life-time task that involves growing in the knowledge of God.  For some people growing in the knowledge of God is just more than they want to do. Yet all of us would probably say that given the choice, we would choose LIFE and BLESSING rather than death and cursing.

If God be God, then only He knows the answer to everything.  That is not a cop-out to say that there are no accessible answers out there.  There are many. It's all a matter of which end of the binoculars we are looking through and  which heart attitude we have.  God wants us to have the right answers more than we want them for ourselves.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010


D is for DESIGNS    
I really wanted to do something Different for D today but I have too many Deadlines and things that are Due, so I Decided to post a few of my early Designs.  

 A couple of years ago, when I finally Decided to take my painting urges more seriously, I Decided to start by seeing how many Different Designs I could Develop. Being theologically bent  I had already Deduced that creativity is unique to humans -- that is,  the ability to make something out of nothing.  For example, to illustrate this  I would sometimes give my students the task of creating a monster out of their imagination.  Of course every student came up with his own version. So as many children there were, there were as many monsters created. So that is where my idea for Designs came from.  How many unique Designs can the human mind create?  I started with ATC sized cards and Prisma color pencils: 

I did a lot of these.  But then after about 30 or so I felt the Desire to give the Designs some Depth, so I started to include shading and shadows:

You can see how quickly I graduated to flowery Designs:

I was having a wonderful time with colors, both vibrant and soft:

Then I Discovered medallions:

It was a short step from there to objects and scenes -- all on ATC's

So there you have a short summary of my Development  from  being a Dabbler in simple Designs to Doing Decorative Drawings and Depictions.

 By the way, once I hit one hundred  simple DESIGNS  I  Discontinued the project.
For more 'D's on ABC Wednesday click on the link

Friday, August 6, 2010


I have to tell you, who commented on the beautiful photos of Josie the cat, that my son took those photos.  He is a professional photographer -- I am not, but I come from a family of photographers.  My little Canon PowerShot S120 is what I use. I don't know all the intricacies of it, but it has a nice 10X zoom which helps me take photos of the birds. However I do think all the silver on the front of almost all cameras alerts the birds to our presence.

I do apologize for not replying to all the nice comments I've been getting.  My past-times are beginning to overflow -- photos of birds, shelter cats, son's cats, painting, blogging.  I took three books out of the library two weeks ago and I still have one left to read.  I'd better check when it's due!  I used to read 3-5 books a week in past summers.  Time to reorganize my days I think. I guess it's a good problem to be short on time when you're retired.

 Anyway, here are my last two paintings from Wanda's Art Challenge.  They are both ATC size.  The  butterfly and flower is done in water color and the Bessie the Jersey Cow is in prisma color pencils.

If you like to draw or paint do visit Wanda's ART Challenge.  She's getting ready to post a new one soon.

Now I have to get busy with my entry for ABC Wednesday. Yes I know it's only Friday, but it takes me a while to get my brain buzzing and I'm slower than most on the computer because I never learned to type and I have to proof read everything carefully.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


"You, O Lord... know the hearts of all"  Acts1:24

These words can be either scary or heart-warming.  If there is evil in my heart -- that is, the intention to know, speak or do evil, then I think I would be a little worried to know that God knows what's in my heart. But if my intentions are to do what's right but it doesn't always happen that way, then I would be comforted. I'm so glad that God knows  how weak we are and how sin dogs our footsteps, because I believe He knows and understands our failures and  always stands ready to forgive our weaknesses -- and even our deliberate sins, that's what forgiveness is all about.
But there is a warning, God says, "my spirit will not always strive with men". So if we deliberately sin, thinking all we have to do is ask for forgiveness afterwards, we must beware that God will not be mocked. His forgiveness is not given out cheaply. Repentance must come from the heart, even though we know we will most likely sin again, so does He.  We are all sinners.  He knows that, but he also knows what is in our hearts, whether we have a desire to please Him or not. The desire to please God is what is important here.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

'C' IS FOR....

Colorful birds...(hang in there it gets better.)  I just had to post these pictures as I Can't Count the number of hours I spent yesterday and today trying to Catch a photo of the male Oriole who  visits our area for only a Couple of months in the summer.  And this summer has been the Coldest along the Coast since 1916 and the Coolest July since 1933.  We Southern Californians Confess we have Complained Ceaselessly about the Continuous Cloud Cover which Causes us much Chagrin!

Caught him!  The Colorful male Hooded Oriole, with his not so Colorful wife, who is giving us the "angry bluebird" stare.

Meanwhile I am Chris, the Cat-sitter for a Couple of weeks for my son's two Cats. One is named Cleo, and Could be Closeted in a Corner somewhere and may even have become a Celestial Character, for all I see of her.  Contrariwise, (yes it's in the dictionary) her sister Josie loves to be Cuddled  and Can't wait to Curl up on my lap when I arrive.

This is the Cool Cat, Josie, and no she's not a Maine Coon.

As well as Cats, my son has a Collection of  Cacti in his yard and with these I will 
Conclude my ABC WEDNESDAY Contribution

(Sorry I can't identify them for you.  I'm not a cactus expert).