Some years back, after an especially stressful day, I decided to create a Zen garden. By Zen garden, I simply mean that I wanted to create an area that would bring about thoughts of peace and tranquility. I had a basic plan in my mind. The area would be sectioned off by a small garden fence and there would be some flowers, such as stock, baby carnations, and roses that would fill the area with a spicy comforting scent. Stock and baby carnations both carry a heavy cinnamon/nutmeg scent, as do certain types of roses. I decided to make the center of the garden the focal point, by planting a Japanese maple tree. I found one that transitions from a deep crimson red in spring, to a bright copper color in autumn. That tree gives me the feeling of autumn all year long. And it has a name.
I call him Paul. After the man who owned the cottage we live in.
When we first moved in here, 12 years ago, it was under some extremely stressful circumstances. Alan and I were tired and a little shell shocked from life and all the fun curves it can throw you. We had seen some places, but frankly, from the minute Alan and I saw the cottage, we knew we had found our home. I don't own the cottage, we are merely renters, but it feels like it was waiting for us somehow.
Paul was happy to rent to us, and in his time as our landlord/owner of the property, he stayed on top of things until just a couple months before his passing in 2009. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2005, and in the fours years after it had turned into 5 different kinds of cancer that slowly and painfully ravaged his body. I remember one of our last conversations, he called to be sure we were all set and didn't need any repairs. He always ended his conversations with me... "Thank you dear." Like I was his daughter. He was a special man.
So with Paul the tree in the center, I have planted a nice variety of fragrant, long blooming, beautiful roses. It is a pleasant place to sit, and watch the leaves turn, and see the different native birds to the area build their nests, and the butterflies and dragonflies bounce about, and occasionally, there might be a neighborhood cat or two who will come by and rest for a while among the flowers. I know my Elvis would have loved this place, he was always crazy about scents of all kinds. He taught me about stopping to smell the roses. It's true. I have a rose in the garden that I know he would have loved for its especially spicy scent.
There is a special rose in the garden for each of the friends and those I have loved who are no longer on earth. And when I spend time caring for them, or appreciating them, I feel especially close to those who have moved on.
Sometimes I still hear the ethereal musician off somewhere in the hills playing his music on his saxophone. After all these years, we still can't tell where the music is coming from, but I have giving up caring about that, I am instead just happy that as much things change, at least that is still a part of my day to day life... hearing whatever song the mysterious saxophone player wants to share. Its just all a part of my life... living here... in a small cottage in the East Bay hills.
About a year ago, the property was sold to new owners, and there is the possibility that I may have to move. It breaks my heart, but sometimes life pushes you through new doors. It's just the way it is. If I hadn't been pushed through a new door in 2001, I wouldn't be sharing about my garden in this post. But I am not going to fret about the future, right now, I am home, and all is well.
"Earth is so kind, that just tickle her with a hoe, and she laughs with a harvest."
~Douglas William Jerrold
Now that you have visited my blog, be sure to visit all the participants of the RRC! Just clink the link at the top of the post to be redirected to the official Round Robin Blog. That's where you will find the links and all the information you need to play along!
And also pay a visit to my friend JR. He has been a loyal participant in my A Photo A Day For 6 Months project, and he is an awesome photographer! If you haven't had the chance to pay him a visit, you should! He's fun!
"Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle."
~Paulo Coelho, Brida
Yesterday Alan and I went to Apple Hill. I found out about the amazing area quite by accident one day when searching online for recipes for apple pie. Situated in the Sierra foothills, just above Placerville, Apple Hill is a favorite autumn harvest destination for any apple and autumn fruits enthusiast in Northern California. At first glance, one would think the region is all about the apples, but indeed there are many delicious reasons to long for autumn. My favorite thing is the amazing apple cider donuts, from Rainbow Orchard in Apple Hill. Cooked to order, and served warm with sugar sprinkled on top, they simply melt with spicy goodness in your mouth. Wineries are quite plentiful also, and lots and lots of colorful grapes still on the vine dot the landscape. It is an amazing sight to see the small hills of the area completely covered in deep purple, ripe grapes.
Everything about Apple Hill is photogenic, from the pumpkins to the many varieties of apples... the whole area is absolutely beautiful! I will be posting more photos of our trip to Apple Hill on Sunday. Tomorrow (Saturday) is the next we play another round of the Round Robin Challenges. This time out the subject is "Tell Me A Story." I know Karen would love to have you join in the fun. Click the link below to be redirected to the official Round Robin blog.
"The true measure of a man is not what he dreams, but what he aspires to be; a dream is nothing without action. Whether one fails or succeeds is irrelevant; all that matters is that there was motion in his life. That alone affects the world."
~Mike Norton, White Mountain
Did you see the presidential debate tonight?
Personally, I found it breathtaking. It was like some kind of a weird nightmare after eating too much chili and ice cream. Obama was like something out of a 50's Science Fiction movie. You know something like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Or maybe he just showed us the closest look at his true self that we have ever seen. All I know is... at 5:45 pm Big Bird's job was safe, but by the time it was all over, Big Bird is applying for unemployment. Was he the 47% Romney was talking about?
Wait, what's that?
Oh... lookie there...
I think I have the tred marks from a bus on my back.
Damn, I always liked that sweater.
Don't know what to say.
But I know one thing, I am not looking forward to the next month or so.
Damn scary world... and getting more so all the time.
"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."
~ Anais Nin, The Diary of Anais Nin, Vol. 1: 1931 - 1934
I have a lot on my mind this week. I am happy about vacation, I have really needed it this year, but as happy as I am about this time of rest and relaxation, I am also very sad, remembering my friend Steven and my cat Elvis, both having passed from life, and my life, way too soon.
Elvis passed away on October 8 2008. He was 11 1/2 years old, and the kitty love of my life. Smart. Funny. Determined. Understanding. Loving. Giving. Considerate. Charming. Quirky. Chauvinistic.Commanding. Confident. Compassionate. Loyal. Gentle. Womanizer. And there are many more single words that could describe him, but I will leave it here. These were his main traits. I miss him so much, sometimes I can barely breathe, but at the same time I know he is on the other side of life and fate, and he is happy, and he is cancer free. For that I am grateful, but at the same time not a day in 4 years has gone by that I don't think about him... and miss his silly ways.
Steven and I met when we both had our blogs on AOL Journals. We became good friends. We both shared a big love of photography, and often shared our latest photos with each other. We had a twice yearly challenge between us. On Memorial Day weekend it was "Hamburger Day." A fun little challenge to see who could produce the most photogenic, and of course, best tasting hamburger in the land.
It was fun.
Every October 30th, Steven and I played a very different challenge... Haunted Refrigerator Night. I looked it up, and yep it is a genuine Wacky Holiday. And again, we had tons of fun with it. Sometimes I went for ultra spooky, sometimes silly and spooky, sometimes a little of both. :) I miss those times with Steven... I miss his friendship. His counseling. His suggestions about my photos. His understanding. He is willingness to be a friend when I needed one, and his ability to step back when I just needed to be quiet. When Alan tried his hand at photo blogging, Steven was the first AOL Journals friend to welcome him. That meant a lot to me, and it was fun to watch he and Alan become pals.
Steven had a cat named Pickle. Pickle and my cat Elvis became Internet friends. LOL. The two would cross post photos of themselves when the opportunity arose. During the 2008 primary season, Pickle and Elvis debated on who would make the better democratic candidate for the office of President. As we get closer to the election time, I might rerun Elvis's stance. It was a humorous post, with some serious undertones. Anyway, Pickle also had his say... it was a great way to open a dialog about the future. I wish I would have saved Pickles response, as Steven's blog has been closed and I will never get to read it again. That picture above was a gift from Steven, he emailed it to me that summer, I am so glad I saved it to a special drive on the computer.
On the day I wrote my post about Elvis's diagnosis with cancer, Steven confided that Pickle was also sick. Not with cancer, but rather because of his age... kidney failure. Pickle was 17 and he had lived a long life. So, between the the spring of 2008 and the early autumn of that year, Steven and I shared our heartbreak, and it made it all a little easier to take. Both of us lost our pets that year, and I think something in both of us died a little with our kitties. Alan and I adopted Hendrix and Dylan fairly soon after Elvis passed away, and while it didn't make the grieving hurt less, it did open this other bright sunny window that I think helped me cope a little better.
Today would have been my friend Steven's birthday. It feels strange to not be able to send him a card. He passed away a few days after his birthday in 2009. One's birthday and death should never come in the same week methinks.
I miss my friend.
But I can also hear him say... "Go find the photo." :) Like he is still here. I guess in a lot of ways... he still is.
Happy Birthday Steven.
"Words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are to find."
Today's Link Is From My Pal JR. If You Haven't Had A Chance To See His Marvelous Photography... Go... Shoo... Go See It! :)
"Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap."
Cookies anyone? These are Lemon Tea Cookies. They go great with milk, and even better with white wine. Go ahead... take one. LOL.
Yesterday was a good day. There were one or two irritating elements to it. Grrr. Nothing a good cookie couldn't fix! :) That's all I needed. 30 minutes of quiet. A homemade lemon cookie and the company of a certain orange tabby cat. I am a simple girl with simple needs.
Life Is Good!
"A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand."
And now... today's link to an awesome photo blog authored by my pal JR!
"Outside the leaves on the trees constricted slightly; they were the deep done green of the beginning of autumn. It was a Sunday in September. There would only be four. The clouds were high and the swallows would be here for another month or so before they left for the south, before they returned again next summer."
~Ali Smith, The Whole Story and Other Stories
Where did it go? I know September is around here somewhere! Oh well, another September come and gone, way too fast. I wish time would have moved this fast when I was a kid. There were days back then that seemed like they were 100 hours long. 100 hour long days pretty much transitioned into year long months. LOL. Eventually I hit my 21st birthday, and it's all been a blink since. Even years that I thought would kill me, seem like it was done in a weird kind of slow motion warp drive.
Someday, I must have a talk with GOD about time. This girl has some questions. Oh well, on to October...
See the photo composite above, that is something new I am thinking about doing on the first day of each month. Like the one above, I will post a picture featuring my favorite photos from the previous month. It's just my way of looking back on what I was seeing. The moments that I found some sort of inspiration in. I hate looking into my archive from previous years, and not know the exact reason I was drawn to a particular scene. Recently, I found a wonderful, free, photo editing software on the net called Photoscape. For a free program, it has a lot of cool features, one of them being the ability to put different photos together in a set, with little effort. If you are looking for a new photo editing program, its definitely worth checking out.
Let me know what you think about the monthly look backs. If you would like to join me on the first of each month, I would love to see your photo sets, and hear about why you chose the photos you did.
October, and the early part of November, will be a busy time with the cameras. In that the trees have already begun to show their Autumn colors, I predict that there will be a lot to see and photograph in the next 40 days or so. I feel all kinds of happy inside, and I am excited to see what's waiting for me. :) And now, a preview. I took these photos just last night.
Signs of Things To Come...
I love the color purple in Autumn.
I see Autumn everywhere, or does Autumn see me? Do you see the EYE of Autumn?
"A leaf fluttered in through the window this morning, as if supported by the rays of the sun, a bird settled on the fire escape, joy in the task of coffee, joy accompanied me as I walked... "
Tomorrow, at exactly 6:00 AM, Alan and I will officially begin our 5 weeks of vacation. We have an amazingly full schedule this year, which is fantastic, because it feels like forever since we have been able to take a big bite out of autumn. Our 22nd wedding anniversary is on October 13th. 22 years? How could it have already been 22 years? Like any other marriage, we have had the same ups and downs as most people I think. We have had some lows that I didn't think we could possibly pull out of, well I actually mean I wouldn't be able to pull out of, but sure enough if you can find a way to ignore the people and things that work to cause you pain, it makes it all the more sweeter to get to the other side of pain. Of course it helps to know that love is waiting... and keeping faith in you... and encouraging you. Yeah, I know I am lucky... believe me... I thank GOD for my guy, and wonder, what did I do to be so blessed?
So, on with the Itinerary...
Apple Hill (If you live in Northern California, it's a MUST!).
A sightseeing trip of San Francisco Bay from a small plane.
A day pass to a gorgeous Quarryhill botanical garden in Glen Ellen (autumn leaves and vineyards).
A sightseeing tour of the landmarks of San Francisco and the bay on the Ride The Ducks amphibious tour.
A trip to Pacific Grove AKA Butterfly Town USA. And the 17 Mile Drive.
And last but not least... Celebrating the turning of the leaves in Plumas County.
All that plus...
Pastorino's Pumpkin Patch in Half Moon Bay on Family Day (Our own made up holiday)
And our plans are always subject to sudden changes, so there might be more events and outings added.
And let's not forget all the fun of a National Election! LOL.
As I write this blog post, President Obama pretty much has it cinched! LOL. But you never know!
I think I am already tired. LOL. So, sshhhh... don't tell my Fibromyalgia.
YIKES! Wish me luck... okay?
If you haven't visited my friend JR's blog yet, go do so now. His photography is awesome!