Santa Barbara and an Unsolved Mystery

They say you can’t go home again, but I found this isn’t always true. Recently we spent a few days in Santa Barbara, where I went to college. This town, with it’s palm-lined streets and backdrop of gentle foothills, hasn’t changed much at all in the many years since I lived here. The same wharf reaches into the water, and boats continue to crisscross the blue.

The trip down memory lane continued when we drove a few miles into the hills to my college, Westmont. The school was the vision of Ruth Kerr, of Kerr jars. In the 1930s, she opened her home to students and professors. Today, the elegant building is still the heart of the campus.

The surrounding gardens have grown even more beautiful than I remember.

For me, Westmont is the jewel in the crown of beautiful Santa Barbara. I dreamed of attending here, but it’s a private school with a price tag to match. My senior year of high school, I applied but didn’t hope to make it. Then one day a letter came telling me I had a scholarship waiting for me. And here’s the mystery: The money came from an anonymous donor. I’ve never been able to say thank you to that generous person.

My years at Westmont shaped me, taught me to think analytically, and were packed with so much fun. I’m still in contact with friends I made here.

Ambling down those same paths years later, I still feel deep gratitude to the mysterious donor who made it possible for me to call Santa Barbara my home for a few golden years. I do feel like I’ve come home again.

How about you? Do you have a place you return to that feels like home?

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays.The photo of the lily pond is edited with Kim Klassen’s texture kk_BB2.

Grow Your Blog [and a Give-Away]

Hello, there!

The weekend of the Grow Your Blog party is here! Such fun. You can click on the link below to find other bloggers who are joining the party. I’m looking forward to meeting new friends from all over. One of the great joys of blogging is meeting kind, inspiring people — like you!

If you’re new here, please look around. I hope you find some encouragement, slices of life in my corner of the world, and an image or thought that brings a smile to you today.

 Favorite Posts

Here are a few favorite posts, for your reading enjoyment . . .

Sending a Little Bit of Love to Paris
The Magnificent Eiffel Tower
What Makes a Cable Car Go?
Wedding Weather
It’s Not Easy Being Green
How to Be a Champion
When Life Is Confusing
Safety-Pinned People
The Old Lighthouse
Of Barns and Beauty

About Me

Welcome! I’m so glad you’ve stopped by. My hope is that something in these posts encourages you, especially if you’re struggling. And I hope the photos and little ramblings prompt you to notice the wonder that’s right in front of you. This is a challenge for me. I get so focused on the goal that I forget to enjoy the journey. When I carry my camera, I’m a lot more aware of beauty, oddities, charm, color. So exploring with camera in hand adds dimension and joy to my life, and I love sharing my discoveries with you!

I’m a word person. Reading, writing, and editing give me such pleasure. I’m thankful I get to work full-time as a consumer health information writer and editor. Another passion of mine is music. I’m teaching piano to a wonderful bunch of musicians — some in grade school and some retired. I love them all.

My Family

I live in sunny San Diego, California with my husband Curt. We have a daughter, Megan, who married her love Chris last year! They live in Kansas. We treasure visits with them.

We have a son, Matt, who married his love Bethany. Now we have four of the grandest grands ever. They live in Michigan. Last year Chris and Meg joined us when we visited from Michigan. We loved being all together!

Feel free to look around here, relax, soak up a bit of encouragement. I’m glad you’re here!

Give-Away!

As a thank you for stopping by, please enter to win this fun 3-piece cosmetic bag set from Adrienne Vittadini. I’m always looking for attractive and practical bags for everything from make-up to toiletries to jewelry. I’m finding it’s easier to organize with smaller bags instead of cramming too much in one. And matching bags, too? Love them! Just leave a comment to be entered. Winner will be announced February 15.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

2 Bags Full

Imagine — Thoughts at the Roman Forum

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for.
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…
John Lennon

One place you can see the ruins of generations of civilization is the Forum in Rome. As governments toppled, so did the elaborate buildings.

Power struggles, debates, murders, the rise and fall of empires — so much happened here. Layers were built on layers when one group overtook another.

The fallen pillars, the pieces of doorposts, the crumbling brick walls all lie where they crashed to earth. It’s as if no one ever picked up anything.

From above, it looks like a child’s set of building blocks, with more demolished than left standing.

The Forum gives you a long view of history. You can’t help but think about how fleeting each era really was. And how much each had to give. Just look around at the intricate designs, chiseled by long-forgotten artists.

The chaos of all the little pieces of Roman achievements lying askew causes you to think about war and peace. What really matters? What will last? What will remain standing when time erodes great accomplishments?

Maybe what really matters is that we live with peace and love today. Time can’t touch peace. The Forum is a great place to think over these things.

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays.The first photo is edited with Kim Klassen’s texture Little Things. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where the theme song this week is “Imagine” by John Lennon.

Friday Finds — An Oasis

Tucked into the brown desert hills of Palm Springs is this delightful surprise: an oasis of greenery. The line of palms winds along the rock walls.You know right away the trees sprung up and grew here for one reason: water.

The creek is meager, but it’s enough. The palms have flourished here for decades.

We spent an enjoyable morning hiking up and down the creek, in the shade of these tall desert trees.

We’ve visited Palm Springs many times, and still we were completely surprised and delighted to find this oasis.

How about you? When have you happened on a place that took you by surprise?

Linking up with Friday Finds.

Kim Klassen dot com

Sending a Little Bit of Love to Paris

Give a little bit
Give a little bit of your love to me,
Give a little bit
I’ll give a little bit of my love to you.

The sad news out of Paris last week captured our hearts. We visited this magnificent city a few months ago and fell in love with its history and elegance and vitality. The city gave us days of wonder, and I fell more than a little bit in love with Paris. No surprise, right? We had walked and walked, taking in the ambiance, the views of the Eiffel Tower, the bridges decorated with gold. In particular, I noticed the beauty of some of the doorways  as we wandered the streets of the City of Light.

When you see a door that’s worn with life, don’t you want to know what’s inside? Don’t you want to open it and hear the stories of the people who’ve gone in and out?

At the same time as the news of the killings at Charlie Hebdo last week, I was casting around for a word to focus on in 2015. As I admired the spirit of resilience shown in Paris and around the world in the face of tragedy, I was also pondering the way I want to approach life this year. Paris and doors and courage swirled in my mind.

And so, a word for 2015 emerged clearly.

OPEN. This is the way I want to go through 2015. Beginnings and endings and adventures are bound to fill the year. Forging ahead with a mindset of OPEN will give me courage to tackle some new challenges. I’ll be more likely to make the effort to learn, explore, expand my interests. Be up for new experiences.

The coming year will bring some interesting doors, and I can choose to open them and walk through. If one of these doors happens to be the opportunity to plan another trip to Paris, I’ll be flinging that one wide open!

Meanwhile, I’ll be thinking of Paris, cheering on the unity and courage of the people there — sending my little bit of love.

How about you? Have you chosen a word to focus on this year?

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays.The first photo is edited with Kim Klassen’s texture Simplicity. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where the theme song this week is “Give a Little Bit of Your Love to Me” by Roger Hodgson.

 

Hope in the New Year

This is the New Year,
Another chance to turn it all around . . .

Want to hear a story of hope as this New Year dawns? Let me tell you about Living Free, an animal sanctuary in the mountains of southern California.

Dogs and cats here are free to live out their days with food and care in the buildings on these 150 acres. Workers comb the shelters all around and choose those whose time is almost up. These furry ones are truly saved just in time. If they are adopted, more good news — they go to their new homes and then space opens up for other rescues

In the vast cattery, sweet cats climb, play, and sun themselves.

They eat well, too.

The dogs enjoy large outside runs where the volunteers play ball with them. They are all walked every day. At night they are brought inside in kennels that circle a stove. Here’s the adoption board — and this has been filled with photos of adopted animals many times. Yay!

The volunteers glow when they tell you about the animals in their care. They cheer for each adoption. Many of the dogs were adopted over the holidays. A new bunch arrived. If you’re in the area, be sure to visit. If not, think about checking out your local shelter, about maybe volunteering.

This is the New Year,
And I would give the world to you . . .

How about you? Where are you seeing a place of hope in your world?

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays.The photo of Living Free is edited with Kim Klassen’s texture kk_2303. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where the theme song this week is “The New Year” by Great Big World.

Christmas Was Meant for Children

Christmas was meant for children,
Children like you and me . . .

Does Christmas bring memories of childhood for you? One of my favorite parts of decorating my home is bringing out all the teddy bears. They line the entry and welcome everyone who comes by.

Some are from my girlhood. Antiques, they are. Others are from the years when Matt and Megan were little and full of wonder and joy.

This song, Christmas Was Meant for Children, popped into my mind as I lined up the cuddly bears. Christmas is a time that invites us to feel young at heart. To thrill at the lights and smile at the Santas and sing along with our favorite holiday music. Christmas brings out the childlike wonder in us.

And that makes sense, because Christmas is about a child. A baby born in Bethlehem. He had no stuffed bears, but real live sheep and lambs gathered around his bed.

Always remember the infant,
Away in a manger so wee.
For Christmas was made in heaven
For children like you and me.

Wishing you moments of pure and simple delight this season. May you revel in childlike wonder today.

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays. The second photo is edited with Kim Klassen’s texture kk_Minus43. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where the theme this week is any holiday song; I’ve chosen “Christmas Was Meant for Children.”

 

 

A Hidden Gem in Paris — The Rodin Museum

Our last afternoon in Paris we visited the Rodin Museum. It sits in the shadow of the gold-domed tomb of Napoleon, close to the Eiffel Tower. The house and gardens are part of a hotel where the sculpture Auguste Rodin lived and worked.

The gardens display a pleasing array of the artist’s sculptures. The most famous also intrigued me most: The Thinker.

Strolling around the gardens you find the realistic human figures Rodin was known for.

And you find the whimsical.

Here’s me with the sweater, so you’re sure to see it’s size XXXLarge.

Of course, the grounds and flowers in themselves lend beauty. I love the softness of the roses against the bold bronze sculptures.

Treasures are inside the hotel, too. Here’s the elegant scultpure, The Kiss.

Rodin wrote, a few years before his death:

“I give the State all my works in plaster, marble, bronze and stone, and my drawings, as well as the collection of antiquities that I had such pleasure in assembling for the education and training of artists and workers. And I ask the State to keep all these collections in the Hôtel Biron, which will be the Musée Rodin, reserving the right to reside there all my life.”

Because of his generosity, anyone can enjoy Rodin’s art today.

It’s easy to miss this gem of a museum. The gate is ordinary and it’s not well marked.

But if you’re in Paris, I encourage you to spend a few hours in this delightful place. Think about it . . .

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays. The close-up of The Thinker is edited with Kim Klassen’s texture kk_3003.

 

 

Choose Joy

Does joy come easy to you this season? Or do you find you have to work at it?

Last week I visited the dog beach in Coronado on a sunny, warm afternoon. One group of dogs, all about the same size, chased each other and frolicked in the waves.

Finally, one of the dogs slowed down and made his way onto the sand. Clearly tired, he stood and caught his breath. And that’s when I noticed something different about him.

This three-legged pup kept up with everyone else. It took more effort, that’s all. Here he is, with his floppy ears, a picture of joy.

When I’m tempted to give in to discouragement or self-pity, I’m going to remember this happy guy. He ran and lived life fully at the beach that day. What a great reminder to choose joy.

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays. The first photo is edited with Kim Klassen’s texture kk_minus45.

Everyday People, Uncommon Heroes

Do you know where this beach is? It may look like so many other beaches — beautiful but not distinctive. But when you hear the name, you will probably know of it. This is Omaha Beach in France, the place of fierce fighting on D-Day in 1944. Today it is peaceful, lovely.

Above the beach lie the white crosses, row on row. Here, everyday people died, young men maybe still in their teens, from farms and cities far away. Common folk colliding with uncommon times.

Among the crosses, here and there, flowers have been laid on the ground as a way to say thank you. We may not even know their names, but our hearts feel gratitude.

Down the coast a few miles is Pointe du Hoc, another landing place for the Americans on D-Day. Here again, the scene today is tranquil.

Remnants of war overlook the cliffs here. Craters formed by bombs are clear to see. Chunks of gun emplacements lay where they fell when blown up.

A museum at these beaches displays this note, written by an army colonel from a landing craft out in the channel. He had anxiously watched the attack. Finally, he was able to send a positive report of thanks.

As we walked the hallowed ground of these battlefields, I emerged from a concrete bunker to glance at this young boy, clutching his teddy bear and ambling along what once was a war zone.

This, I thought, is what we can be thankful for. A young generation lives in freedom today, carefree and unaware of what happened in this place to ensure that kind of life. President Ronald Reagan summed it up in a tribute to the men who fought here:

These are the boys of Point du Hoc;
These are the men who took the cliffs.
These are the champions who helped free a continent.
These are the heroes who helped end a war.

My Thanksgiving holiday this year will be a little richer with thanks because of my sobering visit to the D-Day beaches.

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays. Last photo is edited with Kim Klassen’s texture kk_2312. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where the theme song this week is “Everyday People” by Sly and the Family Stone.

 

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