Wednesday, January 28, 2015

If you pass the blue tree, you've gone too far

When I picked my sister up she said, “I tell my rides, if you pass the blue Christmas tree you’ve gone too far.”

It's been out there for a few weeks. I guess the neighbors don't know the garbage service won't pick up flocked trees.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


I'm participating in a Facebook project called Journal52. A prompt is posted each week and we can interpret it any way we like. Some people do 2-page layouts, some 1-page pieces, but I chose to do almost postcard-sized layouts. It's less intimidating to me. So, although the size isn't consistent, I'm pleased with the way they look in my art journal.

Just Be
The three prompts I've done so far are Pathways, Just Be, and Conversation Starters. I journal the meaning and include the media used to create it as well. I plan to post everything later, but I just thought I'd put this here for now to give me an incentive to keep going.
Conversation Starters
Silhouettes is the next prompt I'm contemplating at the moment. It's getting started that's the booger. But once I get started, I almost can't leave it alone.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Regrets? Maybe Not

Valerie, Cupie and Dawn

I saw a post on-line where a woman was talking about having a difficult time making ends meet. She was turning 40 and was afraid she wasn't setting a good example for her kids. She said she didn't work when her children were small. Instead she did things with them, went on walks, picked flowers, listened to the crickets, which seemed more important than "stuff."

This is kind of how my husband and I chose to raise our daughters. He worked full-time and I either stayed at home or had some type of flexible part-time job.

I don’t regret a minute of being able to be there for our daughters’ first steps, their first words. I loved always being the room mom for their classrooms, going on field trips, being a scout leader, and filling in for other parents who weren’t able to have this luxury

We didn’t have a lot of money, we lived paycheck to paycheck, but I don’t believe the girls ever noticed.

Now that my husband is disabled, though, I do have misgivings for not staying with a job long enough for retirement benefits. Our life plan was for my husband to work until retirement and we’d be comfortable. Not rich, but not living in such a way as to worry about the house payment or paying for utilities and food in our bellies.

I’m not saying we’re struggling. We’re doing okay. But had I invested more time in a career we would be sitting a lot prettier. We wouldn’t be paying so much for medical benefits, co-pays for surgeries/procedures and prescriptions, or allowing our daughters to help (which is difficult, but it touches our hearts beyond words).

And then there’s the worry of losing my husband and the practical aspect of losing our income if that should happen. Not being able to contribute in a meaningful way financially makes me second guess the decisions of our prime earning years.

But then I think back on all of the time I had with our daughters. The precious time I spent helping my parents through their illnesses and deaths. All of the time spent tending to nieces, nephews, sisters and brothers.

My retirement benefits may not be monetary, but the memories I reaped along the way are priceless.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

We Made It!

This Wizard of Oz-themed wreath was made for me by my friend Laura Smith

It's been another year of posting about my friends and family, crafting, cooking, baking and whatever else I could think of here on The Little House Out Back. I don't really blog a lot of my daily life, but as with you, there have been ups and downs.

It's been another rough year for my husband, but we're hopeful we'll find something to ease his chronic pain. My daughters are working full-time and are generally healthy. I am thankful every day for the great human beings my kids have grown up to be. They're quite awesome. I have a loving relationship with my remaining siblings. There's nothing like reminiscing with them about our childhood, the family we miss, and what's going on in our lives today. To top off this year, I've been able to gather several times with life-long friends, both near and afar.

I'm very grateful for my life and those who are in it.

Although I don't get many comments, I do get emails and in-person feedback, so thank you for browsing my blog and for being so kind about the things I post.

From our home to yours, have a very merry Christmas, and may 2015 bring you much joy and all that you need. And then some.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Cool story. Bear with me.

Photo by my best friend Lauri

My dad, which meant our family as well, was into ceramics ever since I could remember. When he retired from the Army, he opened a ceramic shop in a little oceanside town called Marina (next town over from Fort Ord, California). The shop sold finished ceramicware, greenware, bisque, paint, tools and also held classes.

If you knew us, you probably received one of these ceramic Christmas trees or we at least helped you make one.

My best friend Lauri sent this photo to me tonight, and I thought it was one we gave her. Nope, it’s her friend’s. Her friend doesn’t decorate anymore (but she loves decorating other people’s homes), so she brought it to Lauri’s to display in her new home.

Important tidbit.

Her friend was Lauri’s landlord for many years, and, coincidentally, grew up in the Monterey Bay area and moved to Vancouver, Washington, just as Lauri did. But they didn’t know one another back then, they met when Lauri moved to Vancouver.


She told Lauri, “When my mom retired she was bored and wanted something to do. So she went to this little ceramic shop in Marina and made the tree.”


That’s our shop she’s talking about!!! What a great coinkidink, eh?! Of all the people in the world for Lauri to meet when she moved to Vancouver and become friends with, it was someone from the same area, who shared her maiden name, btw, who had a mother who went to our little ceramic shop to make herself a Christmas tree.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Fort Ord Pool

  Photo by John Arthur

 Photo by John Arthur

My brother John stopped by the old Fort Ord (California) pool the other day and took these pictures.

I’m the youngest of 7, and we all swam in this pool for many years. It was one of our favorite places to be. The price was right, just show them our military ID card or recite my dad’s RA number and in we’d go.

My brother George, gone 2 years now, taught me to swim in this pool. Another brother took pleasure in dunking me until I cried, only to be rescued by yet another of my siblings. My sister Mary, gone 3 years, would let me piggy back her, wrapping my arms around her neck and kicking my feet behind us as if I was helping swim the length of the Olympic-sized pool. When we’d reach the deep end, I knew I could trust her not to leave me.

I remember how my sister Martha and I would walk home in the dark, wet hair and sometimes wet bathing suits underneath our clothes, still smelling of chlorine. Whenever we’d get to this certain part of the post that was extra dark and scary we’d pray out loud, “Our father, who art in Heaven…” and when we got to the part “Yeah, though I walk through the valley of death I will fear no evil” we’d start running and screaming until we reached the light.

When the pool water was on the cool side, my best friend (of over 45 years now) and I would leave the water to go play in the never-ending hot showers. When we warmed up we’d go jump back in the pool and then do it all over again.

I can still see, hear and smell the pool in my mind so clearly. Photos of the way it is now startle me. It’s like seeing an old friend get beat up and they can’t get up, can’t recover from the blows, so they just give in and give up.

But I won’t allow these recent images to steal the years of joy that was had inside that old building. And neither will the thousands of soldiers who flirted with their girlfriends and boyfriends, the husbands and wives with their children who splashed in its waters and sunned themselves in the warmth of the (sometimes) sunny patio. No amount of graffiti, paintball splats and carnage will ever erase the years of memories of my happy place, a place where our family will forever be complete.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Friends For Life

We've been friends for over 40 years. We're teenagers again when we all get together.