Tuesday, June 29, 2010

X IS FOR....


X is also for XERXES, which is the name of a Persian king who lived about 450 years B.C.  Being interested in Old Testament History, that was the first name that came to my mind. 
But since most people are not too interested in this kind of history I will simply tell you that the most interesting thing he did, other than go to war, was to construct a bridge of boats across the Hellespont in order to invade Greece from Persia.  (It's near the Black Sea).  There was a narrow strip of sea between the two countries, so he simply lashed his boats together side by side until they formed a bridge over which he could march his armies from one side to the other.  Quite a unique idea, I think.

Incidentally, for those of you who think it's not much of a feat to find a word for X, my dictionary has 1089 pages in it and less than one page is devoted to words beginning with X.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Here...and There...

Friday was Moth's Birthday.  He had chosen what he wanted.  When I saw what they were like, I was a bit alarmed at first because the color was just a bit too green.  But then after I saw them set up I decided that they were actually closer to a garden, or tree green than I realized.  What do you think?

We call them,
The Guardians of the Waterfall.
Leopold and Linus

That's the "Here" bit of this post.

The "There" bit is in Ontario, Canada where my sister lives.  We always giver her a hard time about the earthquakes she might feel when she's down here visiting.  Well, you may have heard that Ontario  had its own earthquake a few days ago.  It was a 5.0 and she sent me this photograph of the terrible damage.
:)   :)   :)

Saturday, June 26, 2010


This is Peg Leg.  I mentioned him two posts ago.  He now has two healthy fledglings that he is faithfully feeding in spite of having only one leg. A couple of days ago, Rinkly Rimes (click here) asked permission to use this photo so she could make up a poem about him and post it on her blog.  Perhaps you'd like to visit her blog and read her poem.  You will have to scroll back one or two entries -- she posts more often than I do!


I am having a wonderful time at the shelter as a "Cat Cuddler".  Out of more than thirty cats these are just a few to tell you about, (sorry no photos, not sure what their policy is on that, yet, but I'll try.).
Amigo was a little shy at first.  He is a black male with yellow eyes.  He has now decided that I'm O.K. and when I am in his room where four other full-grown cats are he now comes straight to me and will sit on my knee and be petted for as long as I want.  He gets a little overwhelmed if a family with children want to visit. When I leave, he runs to the door with me.
Suzie was in that same room.  She has been adopted already.  She was ginger and very mellow.  So   pretty and with short hair. Someone now has a very fine pet.
Two tiny kittens part white and part ginger, huddled at the back of their cat-condo today, but after I had talked to them and spent some time with them, one of them finally overcame his fear and was thoroughly comfortable being cuddled, scratched behind the ears and purring up  a storm. Have to go back next week to see if the other one is still there.
Fluffy: In another room which has four cats in it, I met Fluffy almost two weeks ago.  She would not come out of her quilted house/basket and if I put my hand in to pet her she would shrink way back as far from me as she could.  Today,  after this my fourth visit, she put her head and paws out and begged me to pet her.  I scratched her cheeks and ears and she even rolled onto her back for a short tummy rub.

There were about 10 kittens today and quite a few waiting to be picked up by their new family.

I don't just pet the cats, but I scoop the kitti-litter. After having had cats for 30 years that is no trouble to me.  I clean up any spilled water or food, check for runny eyes or sneezing and make a note for the vet.  I just generally try to keep the condos clean and tidy.  None of the cats so far bite or scratch but some do try to get out and with the big ones it's sometimes quite a struggle to keep them in, while tidying their home.  The main thing is to try to get them more confident, looking clean and friendly and ready to be adopted.  I generally stay for about two hours.It is very tiring -- all the standing is hard for me, but it's fun!

I forgot to say that we have to wash our hands after handling each cat, for those of you who know about such things and were maybe wondering.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


"Be still and Know that I am God" Psalm 46:10
I am one of those people who likes to be in control.  I don't like to call myself a control freak, but I have to admit, I am.  I'm not comfortable in situations over which I have no control.  Sometimes I read the newspaper, or watch the news and wonder, like many generations before me, "Whatever is the world coming to?"  I remember my grandmother saying that. The truth is, for all my wondering, there is only One who knows , and only One who is in control.  Then I think of these words from Psalms: Be still and know that I am God.   It doesn't matter what I think I know or what I think should happen.  God is in control.  All I have to do is worry about what God wants ME to do and He will take care of the rest.  I can remain calm because He has said, "I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"  In the end it is only what God allows to happen,  for His own reasons, that matters.  I don't need to know. Who am I to tell God what needs to be done? He WILL be exalted through it all.  That we cannot change, because He has said so.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

FLAMBLOGGER: W is for...

                                     WILDLIFE AT MY HOUSE THIS WEEK

I think he wants to come in.  He comes up to the window and knocks.  He wants more birdseed!

Here are a couple of his pals -- or maybe Momma and Poppa

We call this guy, Peg Leg.  He has only one leg as you can see and has been with us about 6 months now.  He is a Californian Towhee, (different from the Eastern Towhee).

Dozens of this cheeky bird -- the common house finch -- but such beautiful bright red color.

Either a juvenile or female hooded oriole.  We don't get too many of these, so I was lucky to get this good shot.

Can you even see this one?  His beak is in the flower and he is facing us.  I think it may be a rufous humming bird, or a juvenile .  It's so hard to tell the difference between the species at this time of year.

The guilty party who ate my young melon-colored hibiscus, which is now no more, thanks to him!

Though these may not be as exciting as some wildlife others get, remember we are only in a tract home, surrounded by houses in the midst of a city.  A nice rural looking city, but still a city.  My son only half an hour away can boast all of these as well as coyotes and a mountain lion!

Monday, June 21, 2010

"Watering Cans"

I did this piece at Wanda's invitation, to join some other artists in doing a composition on watering cans.  I'm disappointed with it because although I used water color paper, it wasn't as good as other papers I have used.  As soon as I put brush to paper it sucked the pigment out and I wasn't able to blend and shade the colors as I would liked to have done. The cans are based on a photo I took of three lined up for use on our patio last year.  Won't use that paper again. (The birds are house finches, of which we have an abundance). Size: 9 1/2" x 7"

Sunday, June 20, 2010


From this, Liverpool 1944 Approx.
To this -- Southern California 2010

We've come a long way, done and seen much more than we ever dreamed and made more friends all over the world than seems possible. When we were kids we never thought we'd see the year 2,000.  To be in our 60's seemed ancient.  Now we're in our 70's.


Son #1

Son #2

Thursday, June 17, 2010


"As for our transgressions, you will provide atonement for them". Psalm 65:3
Most people don't have much trouble accepting the fact that everyone does wrong in their lives.  Most people know that Christians believe that Jesus Christ will forgive us for our sins if we ask Him.   Even King David who lived 3,000 years ago says  God "will provide atonement for them".   Jesus is the Atonement or Redeemer.  Much of the Old Testament is about this Redeemer, Messiah or the One who will come and will atone.  In the oldest book of the Bible, Job says it so clearly, crying out to his so-called comforters almost in frustration because they do not seem to understand. He says,  "I KNOW that my Redeemer lives and He shall stand at last on the earth".  Job 19:25

Just before this, Job had cried out in frustration:  "Oh that my words were written!  Oh that they were inscribed in a book!"  Well now they are, and that book is the Bible.  Job couldn't have said it any more clearly and neither could David.  Our Redeemer lives and forgives!  What a blessing that is for we who are overcome by our guilt.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

V is for ....


I volunteer at the reception desk at our church once a week.  There I type, prepare mailings, answer the phone, answer questions of those who come into the office etc.

Another part of this task is to give food to the homeless.  We probably have at least three requests for food, transportation tickets etc. each day.

This is the food pantry which the congregation keeps well stocked.  As well as food we give hygiene products and in the winter we give blankets.

This is the food pantry:

My second volunteer job is to go into the the Animal Shelter once a week.

This is a new VENTURE for me.  I have been through all the training and spent one afternoon as a "CAT-CUDDLER"!!  What could be better than that?  That is mainly my task -- to socialize the many new kittens coming in (it's kitten season) and to encourage the older cats to socialize too.  This shelter is only three years old and is state of the art.

As well as many individual cages, there are two large rooms like this which hold 4 or sometimes 5 cats. Lots of beds, toys, houses and kitty climbing furniture.

This is Twyla.  She is a beautiful cat .  Quite self assured and well adjusted, but she is not a lap cat.  She loves to be petted and will sit beside you, but does not want to sit on your lap.  Sadly people just overlook her because they want a lap cat. She would make a very sweet pet.

I spent a half hour in this room trying to coax Miss Swan, a dainty black cat, out of her house.  She is VERY shy but I did eventually get her to come out and managed to pet her.  Lots of soft talking, scratching on wood, moving slowly and a couple of bits of kibble that made my hands smell of kibble so then she was quite happy to be stroked and scratched behind her ears.  I'm mad at myself because I got a good photo of her and then accidentally erased it. Did you know that black cats are usually the last to be adopted? Superstition!

Lots of tiny kittens, but I couldn't get good photos because of glass reflection, and today is not my day to go in behind the scenes.

For those of you who are dog lovers, (I am too), just look at these two:

I can choose to work with the dogs after a couple of months, but nearly all of them are far too big for me to handle.  Now if they decide they want dog cuddlers .... 
 The dogs are taken out on long walks each day.  There is quite a large area around the compound that is good for that.  They need dog walkers too.

The adoption rate from this shelter is 75% for dogs and just 34% for cats  :( 

There is just one possible problem arising from my cat cuddling job.  I had an asthma attack after my first experience there last week!  I do have mild allergies and it may be just too many cats! 
 OH NO!  That would be VERY disappointing!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

WHEW! ! !

It seems our new car, a Honda CRV, barely three months old, has a charmed life!  Here she is when we bought her in March.

. Here she is in the garage two weeks ago.  That little white arrow is to point out this hook in the beam above the car....

Here is a closer look at the hook, looking from the side, towards the front of the car.
The hook is one of two which were in the beam and had been there close to thirty years...

This is what hung from those hooks on that beam for those thirty years. Lighting for the garage.

One day last week Moth backed the car out of the garage, closed the garage door with the electric opener and took off on an errand.

When he returned and opened the garage door the fluorescent light fixture was dangling from one hook, right where the car would have been parked had he not gone out to run an errand.


That would have made a nasty dent to say the least.  The light fixture is almost too heavy for me to lift.

Earthquake Alert
All that happened before we had the two earthquakes last night.  First  one 4.9 and second one almost immediately afterwards, a 4.5  They set my lazy-boy a-rockin, and the large plant in the pot, shaking.  The local earthquake authority says that there will be more and most likely larger, since these faults are long overdue for "the big one."  These two were located not far from Borrego Springs - and a special note here to my sister Kay, "Yes, just north of where we visited when you were here last year."  About 50 miles from here.  

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Virtual Paint-out Participation

Here is my  Virtual Paint-out  submission for the Month of June.


Kawaiaha'o Church, Honolulu 
Click here for more on this very unique church

Kawaiaha'o, the first Christian Church in Hawaii, was built between 1836 and 1842 in New England style architecture. It is often referred to as the "Westminster Abbey of Hawaii". Fourteen thousand coral slabs, quarried by hand from reefs 10 to 20 feet under water, comprise the main structure. Each slab weighs more than 1000 pounds. Visit their web page and learn about this unique church.  (Quoted from their web page).

I admit I have seen the church from the road just passing in traffic but didn't realize it until I looked up the church's name and information.

What is Virtual Paintout? Bill Guffey hosts this creative and educational blog page.  Each month he chooses a city somewhere in the world and those who participate use Google Maps: Street View to tour the city by virtue of the little Street View man. Find a scene that you would like to paint paint it and -- voila!-- you email it to him and he posts it.  There are a couple of little refinements required in order to be posted, such as size and the Goole Maps' exact location.

Google/Maps like it because it helps everyone become familiar with their Street View component. I like it because it is a painless way of posting a painting and being able to compare my style and media with what others do, in relative anonymity.  Talent is not a stressful element and no medium or style is excluded. It is also a good way to become familiar with a place you have never been before. 

Do visit Bill's blog Virtual Paintout  (click on the link above the painting) and see what I mean.  

This month we are in Hawaii, last month was the Czech Republic, before that the Canary Islands and my first effort was San Francisco. 


The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 32:27

In my family anxiety and worry have been significant through several generations, and I am not exempt.  I do believe that just as we are all different with different gifts and weaknesses, yet family 'genetic pools' so to speak, often pass on traits we would like to do without.  Yet many personality strengths are inherited too.  What we do with these weaknesses and strengths is the most important thing.  I have to deal with anxiety on a daily basis, yet the Lord has used this very weakness of mine to encourage others who suffer the same way.  People tend to think, "If she's the pastor's wife and she has these anxieties, I can't be as sinful as I think I am."  They forget that I am just another child of God struggling with human weakness as they are.  But God doesn't forget.  He knows what I am.  "I am but dust".  Conversely, He knows what I wish I were.  So I take comfort in the fact that I am not what I would like to be even though I may try very hard, yet God knows my frailties and "underneath are the everlasting arms".  When I wonder why any one loves me at all, He is my refuge and He assures me that He loves me "just as I am".  One day I will be all that He wants me to be and there'll be no more looking back, no more regrets, just me, a sinner made perfect by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Can't wait!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

U is for....

Well of course, UMBRELLA!  Who doesn't know that?  But this isn't any old umbrella.  This is Abbey's umbrella -- Abbey from NCIS, my favorite TV show.  I know it's a bit gory at first, but if you notice how wax-like the bodies are and how conveniently the bright light shines on the dead body in just the right place to make it it decent, then you can concentrate on what I think is the excellent dialogue -- witty, crisp and clever. Then there are the excellent characterizations -- all have grown in the years the show has existed.  All are realistic, if a little over the top for comedy sake.  The first time I saw Abbey as I flipped through the channels I was totally put off, only to find I've been missing one of the best and talented shows for years.  Thank goodness there are re-runs.

Then there is my friend over at Morning's Minion who took this positively UNIQUE photo of her UP-SIDE-DOWN cat,  Teasel.  Only she's not UP-SIDE-DOWN.  Sharon's explanation below.  Thank you Sharon for allowing me to use this photo.

Finally we come to UNPREDICTABLE, which is what earthquakes are.  You may have heard we had a 7.2 just over the Mexican border not many weeks ago.   We don't live too far away, but though we knew it was a big one,  nothing fell off the shelves and I feel  a little bit left out of the excitement.  I think it is because our house and area is located on a particularly solid, rock hard mesa.  We felt much more when the earthquakes came up in Los Angeles.  A lot depends on what kind on ground your house is located. I have my own 'patented' method of predicting within a week or so.  I look for large ones in Chile or Peru and inevitably the movement spreads north over a few days.  There will be one in Central America then Guatemala or Northern Mexico, then between the border and LA.
The map below shows how much we are still shaking.  They are mostly only small ones but there have been quite a number of 3.5 to 5.5 in that cluster.  The map just shows the ones in the last week  -- 456.  The original 7.2 took place in the bottom right hand corner and showed up as a LARGE red square.  See side of map. It's not showing now because the map is updated every week. We're still way above the average number of shakes for this area, so things are still on the move and with so much shaking, it's has to be unpredictable until things settle down again. I live approximately due west of Palm Springs, on the coast.

Friday, June 4, 2010

I'm Still Here

Just so you all know, I am still here.  Trying to catch up with my visiting.  Really appreciating all the comments I have received -- especially on my 'T' blog.

MOTH left yesterday for Brazil.  He won't be gone too long, but it was kind of hectic around here for a while. Meanwhile I decided to take my own advice from Thursday and take a day or two off, until I feel like my brain is back in place.

I haven't been doing nothing.  To prove it, here is a painting I copied from a photograph from Gerald England of Ackworth.  It is The Canal at Woodley and he took it for the reflection of the house, which I cut out, because I wanted to emphasize the bridge (and I didn't have the courage to try the reflection!).

When I scan my watercolors they seem to come out more water than color, so I changed the exposure to make it look a little more like it should.  I liked the threatening skies in his photo, but I think I do need more color on the water and on the middle wall.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


But Godliness with contentment is great gain.  1 Tim. 6:6
Is it possible to be godly, yet not be content?  Well yes, because we may be striving to be godly but  perhaps we are still not content because  we are not perfect. So discontent can easily creep in.

I remember the first time we took our children to Disneyland.  Our oldest son at age six was so throughly excited  that it seemed to us that he really wasn't enjoying the experience as much as he could have.  On every ride he was so eager to know what ride we were going  on next, he wasn't enjoying the one he was already on!  A writer from WORLD Magazine, Mindy Belz, puts it this way,  "...we in American culture...  have so much of everything we don't have time to enjoy anything."  We are slaves to our schedules, work, responsibilities, family, and a thousand other things that we feel we must do to be the perfect parent , grandparent, employee, wife -- even Christian!

As an over achiever I know I was like that when I was teaching and being a pastor's wife as well as being the
mother of two boys. Even though I am now retired, I still have to fight the discontent I have with myself because I can't do all I used to be able to do and what I can do I don't do perfectly.  Some of us are just built that way!

Contentment and Godliness; two things to strive for -- or should it be pray for?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010



I love Trees.  As I drive around Town I know where my favorite Trees are and watch for them.  Truth to Tell, I learned to love Trees and actually all nature, from Enid Blyton's Nature Lover's Book which I received for my Tenth birthday, when we were still living in England.  All you British folk who visit my blog will know Enid Blyton I'm sure.  

I could write a Thousand posts on TREES, so I had a hard time deciding which direction to take.  I understand that most people spend 40 seconds reading a blog.  Because of that it took me a long Time to decide what to include.

For the black and white drawings on Today's post, I must give credit to the book mentioned above, by Enid Blyton.  I was fortunate enough to find the 1947 edition on eBay and purchased it last year.

This is the first TREE I learned to recognize., which all British children learn about, early in life -- the CONKER TREE or Horse Chestnut TREE

To the uninitiated I must explain what 'conkers' are.  Inside that round, green, spiked fruit is a hard, shiny, and richly brown nut.  The nut is strung on a piece of string  with a knot at one end.  Then the game of trying to shatter your opponent's conker begins.
The Game

The Mighty Oak Tree was the back-bone of England.
Remember the saying, "From little acorns mighty oak trees grow."?
An excellent piece of wisdom!

    You may recognize the oak leaf in family and royal crests and emblazoned on badges.  The oak Tree was once part of the reason for Britain's power.  "Hearts of Oak" is the center of the wood of the Trunk and was used for making Britain's once renowned navy.

The Elm Tree
The Elm Tree once grew profusely all over England and then came the Dutch Elm disease and it was sad to drive Britain's roads and see the many Elm Trees dying.  I honestly don't know if they have recovered yet, but I'm sure someone reading this can tell me.

Since moving to Southern California I have had to learn many new trees, the most prolific of these being the Eucalyptus Tree.
They grow in thick groves and some grow to enormous heights with massive trunks.  Compare these trees to the cars on the street.  They were imported apparently in the hopes that they would grow tall and straight and could be used for railroad ties.  Didn't happen.  They crack too easily.  Two things I don't like about eucalyptus trees are:  one, they are messy and two, they are so full of oil that in our fire season, I have seen them literally explode and shoot flames over 100 feet high.

Two other Trees around here that you simply cannot miss are:

What I call the Tulip Tree.  It may have another name.
Please let me know. This one is outside the High School

These two trees bloom in the spring and both are originally from Brazil -- or perhaps South Africa.  I've spent so long on this blog I don't have the TIME to look them up.  Consider this your homework!!  After all I am a TEACHER.

Finally, this is a photo taken off my calendar for the month of May.  It is copyright by Darrell Gulin.

One lonely tree and a splendid view.  I love this photograph.

Well I think you've got more than your 40 seconds' worth but I haven't even begun to TELL about the TREES I TREASURE.