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Archive for December, 2018

HAPPY NEW YEAR: A Photographic Review of My Blog

“There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”   C. S. Lewis

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”   Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is the end of 2018. How did that happen? So quickly?  Maybe it’s because I am getting older, but the years seem to fly by faster and faster.  This year, I am accepting the Lens Artist Photo Challenge to complete a Photographic Review of 2018.

I started 2018 with a blog celebration of Winnie the Pooh.  His friendly, endearing philosophy is a great way to approach any new endeavor.

Throughout most of the year, I spent my days doing typical things like housework, cleaning out closets, sorting old photographs. Of course, I watch the news and lament the problems and disasters that are reported too often, but I try to stay away from the craziness of fake news and inane and insane commentary on social media.   I also visit with family and friends, read lots of novels (mostly murder mysteries) and watch lots of television and movies.  None of those activities tend to make it to my blog.  Occasionally I will write a post about a past experience or review a book or movie, but not very often.

As I review my blog for 2018, it becomes apparent what is important to me: Nature.  Being in nature offers a grand travel adventure as well as a chance to enjoy solitude and embrace the spirituality that is at the heart of the natural world.  I did not travel very far in 2018—Oregon was the furthest I ventured.  But every trip included beautiful colors and remarkable scenery.

In the Spring, I enjoyed the local area, visiting such places as the Fresno Blossom Trail and the Wind Wolves Nature Preserve.  Just driving through the hills is a wonderful afternoon.

I also drove to wine country to visit Sugarloaf Ridge State Park and Anadel State Park, looking for spring flowers.

In the summer, I took a trip to Oregon, seeing what color was still in bloom at places like Crater Lake and the Mount Hood Scenic Drive.


Surprises are always fun, like finally seeing some sunflowers in the field and discovering Priscilla Dragon Princess along I-5.

In the fall I made my usual trek to the Bishop area, looking for the golds and reds of the season, and took a short drive into Kings Canyon.  I also drove the Tioga Road and visited Yosemite Valley.  The colors were glorious!



This review has reminded me how lucky I am to have the health and finances needed to enjoy my travels.  Any new year that includes such natural wonders would be a remarkable adventure! I do not have travel plans set yet for the next 12 months, but I know I will visit beautiful places. For now, I am content to be home, relishing the treasures of the past and anticipating the wonders of the new year.

Over the years, I have learned that it is our attitude that most impacts the future and helps the new year live up to its challenges and opportunities.  I am not setting official resolutions, other than to embrace change and work to help make the world better.  I hope you too can determine your priorities and then live life with those in mind—and have a wonderful new year!

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Quotes about Having a Great New Year

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering ‘it will be happier.’”  Alfred Lord Tennyson

“Cheers to a new year and another chance to get it right.”   Oprah Winfrey

“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.”  Benjamin Franklin

“We will open the book.  Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”   Edith Lovejoy Pierce

“May the New Year bring you courage to break your resolutions early!  My own plan is to swear off every kind of virtue, so that I triumph even when I fail!”   Aleister Crowley

“We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.  Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives. . . not looking for flaws, but for potential.”   Ellen Goodman

“Each New Year, we have before us a brand new book containing 365 blank pages. Let us fill them with all the forgotten things from last year—the words we forgot to say, the love we forgot to show, and the charity we forgot to offer.”   Peggy Toney Horton

“Past and Present I know well; each is a friend and sometimes an enemy to me.  But it is the quiet, beckoning Future, an absolute stranger, with whom I have fallen madly in love.”   Richelle E. Goodrich

“What the new year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the new year.”   Vern McLellan

“Your success and happiness lie in you.  Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”  Helen Keller

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.  Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world.  You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.”   Neil Gaiman

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.”  Colin Powell

“New Year’s Day. A fresh start. A new chapter in life waiting to be written. New questions to be asked, embraced, and loved.  Answers to be discovered and then lived in this transformative year of delight and self-discovery. Today carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand. Only dreams give birth to change.”   Sara Ban Breathnach

“Let our New Year’s resolution be this:  We will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.”   Goran Persson

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”  Albert Einstein

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.”   Steve Jobs


Christmas was always a time to celebrate with Mom and Dad.  I would travel with Dad as a kid, scouting various lots to find the best tree.  Then I would watch him meticulously place the lights, just so, on the branches.  He used a combination of the older larger lights and bubble lights as well as some of the smaller sparkly ones.  Oh, I loved the bubble lights!  There was a set of angel ornaments, five of different shapes and colors—one for each of us girls.  Those were always placed near the top of the tree.  Eventually, a white angel graced the very tip-top.

Decorating the tree was fun. Over the years I provided more and more ornaments for their collection—as did my sisters.  They had lots of ornaments that featured birds and animals, angels and cameras.  It became a challenge to find a space to place one more ornament.  But we always managed!  I was not upset when we stopped draping tinsel—piece by piece—over the branches.  That was a tedious task I did not enjoy.

Our 1965 Tree with Tinsel

One of the first Christmas gifts I bought for Mom and Dad once I was working was a Sleeping Santa.  Dad always duplicated that picture, whenever he sat down, it seemed.  Of course, he said it was the chair!

The village scene was always fun to unwrap and arrange too.  It kept growing every year as new buildings and figurines were added. Some years, strange creatures would invade the village! As an adult, one of my traditions was to secretly place some new figure or building into the village scene—and then wait for Mom and Dad to notice.  One year, I eventually added a church into the village—and an outdoor nativity scene as well.  One of the last items I added was a woman on a bench, feeding birds.

The Village Scene below is a set of plates by Norman Rockwell.  Mom and Dad had it for years, but they had nowhere to display it.  Now, it comes out at my house every year.  It’s my version of their bigger/better Christmas Village.  The little music box was in Mom and Dad’s room at the Center, also as a reminder for their original Christmas Village.  It plays several Christmas tunes!

Mom and Dad had several Christmas albums that we’d listen too, while we worked.  Two of my favorites were Andy Williams Christmas and Ed Ames Christmas.  As I got older, we started attending the late-night Christmas Eve Church Service, the one with candle lighting and lots of hymns.  Oh, Mom loved the Christmas carols—and so do I.

Even once I was an adult and lived in another state, I nearly always made it home to celebrate with them—and to play Santa for them.  When I moved back to California and lived a short drive away, so an afternoon visit was a possibility, I would still spend the holiday with them. Oh, I had my own decorations at home, but it was tradition to help them make the house look like Christmas.  It was fun to help with decorating and mailing cards and wrapping gifts and preparing meals.  Then, we’d go to the late-night church service.  And later, once we were home, I would play Santa, leaving them a note to not peek until I was up too. Just like they used to do.

No surprise.  My tree looked a lot like theirs!  Well, I had more elephant ornaments than they did.  I stopped putting up my own big tree a couple years after the Northridge Earthquake (1994)—that year my tree fell over during the quake.  The tree itself broke as did lots of my ornaments. (Yes, it was mid-January when the quake hit and my tree was still up. So? Finding time to put things away has always been a challenge! Don’t get me started.)

In 2011, after Mom and Dad have moved into a retirement center, I helped them host a Family Christmas Open House.  At the Open House, we all unpacked the boxes together, taking home the bits and pieces that especially touched our memories.   Mom and Dad kept some of their decorations to be used in their room at the Center.   One of my nephews has their old nativity set, and one of my nieces has most of their old village scene.  I treasure their Santa-feeding-the-animals figurine set and a few other knick-knacks and ornaments.

These Days, There Are A Few More Animals

This noisy, fairly tacky Christmas star ornament is really fun–and it measures about four inches in diameter.  It rested in their tree and sang a LOUD song, whenever it was jostled in any way.  Dad loved this thing–and set it off regularly.  Now, I make sure it plays its song a couple times each holiday.

Two of My “Little” Trees, Resting on Mom and Dad’s Coffee Table in Front of Their Couch

Most of my Christmas stuff is still packed away at this point, but between some of my stuff and some of Mom and Dad’s stuff, I have enough decorations to make it feel like Christmas.  I have several small table-top Christmas trees that hold some of my ornaments.  Other ornaments as well as various knick-knacks fit into many of the nooks and crannies about the apartment.

This Christmas Elephant Is Next to An Old Rocking Horse

I Received These Little Bears Every Year Until They Stopped Being Made. Talk about Feeling Old?!

In This Santa’s Workshop, There Is My Purdue Train and Mom’s Felt Drum and Little Doll House

I truly treasure this sweet little angel–a gift from Mom and Dad.

This time of year can be bittersweet, missing loved ones.  But the decorations and memories represent so much love, so many good times that they make it feel like Mom and Dad are still helping me get the decorations set, just right.  It’s a great time of year! And, of course, traditions continue and new memories are always being made.  A few years ago, I was gifted this lovely Nativity with Candles. This wooden one was made in Germany and replaces the metal one from the past that had become tarnished and broken–it also does not make the tinny noise of the old one!

I no longer put up lights, but I still enjoy a bubble light night here and there.

Just the other day my sister shared some readings from one of Mom’s old Christmas Ideals—she made me cry!  And this is my new Christmas elephant, sitting with “my” angel from the set of five that were always on Mom and Dad’s tree.

And look at this great new Star Trek Ornament: Captain Kirk and Christmas Tribbles!

I love Christmas!

These Carpool Karaoke Christmas Songs are also new—and fun.  Enjoy!



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