Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

A peaceful moment...and I am reminded that God is working in my son's life.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Photos taken at family Christmas Party, Laguna Beach.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It's Christmas

I thought I should get something up on my blog that looked like Christmas. Meet Diamond. May you have a blessed Christmas as you celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Savior.

I'll be going to a family Christmas party this weekend, and on Monday...a wedding! My Christmas shopping is almost done. But nothing is wrapped.

The dishwasher broke and the wind storm's power outages took out the TV. We're looking for a new one. The refrigerator broke last month. Well...that's life! (as my mother would say.)

Yes, life is good. I have a husband who loves me, food on the table, a roof over my head, not to mention two sons and a dog to go on walks with. I have loving parents and beautiful blue skies. Tonight I spotted Venus and Jupiter in the night sky, as I put away the ladder. Oh...Mozart was up on it, cleaning the leaves out of the rain gutters.

Traffic is getting thick out there so I'm planning to avoid the stores at all costs, if possible. I want to find a quiet corner. To be at peace. To think about Christmas. To bask in God's amazing love. And Jesus, reconciling us to him. Yes, He has made it possible for us to have peace.

But after that I have a lot to do. A Christmas dinner must be planned, and the house cleaned. But I hope to carry His peace in my soul.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hurricane in the Neighborhood

Our valley has been in the news every night for a week. We had a hurricane without the rain. I still can't believe it.

This picture above does not do it justice. We have fallen trees and branches lining the curbs of our and brown snowbanks.

Powerful winds woke us up on Wednesday night, in the wee hours of Thursday morning. I woke Mozart up, "Did you hear that?".
"Oh it will be okay," he said. "It's just the wind." Then he rolled over and went back to sleep.

I stayed awake and thanked God we had just trimmed our giant tree in the front yard. Someone had knocked at our door a couple of weeks ago and suggested a trim. Since it hadn't been done in 10 years. (Above) Palm Frons scattered over the Arboretum parking lot.
Large power poles snapped and fell on this street near hour home. Our power was out for 3 days. The homes on this street still don't have power. Our schools closed on Thursday and Friday. Since the kids couldn't play video games, the parents put them to work. I've never seen so many children raking before!
After the electricity came on, I went to the market to re-stock the fridge, and found many trees like this.
Edison is still working around the clock.
Broken trees are everywhere.
That's the roof of our church.
The people on this street are not only enduring the cold, but have their homes illuminated all night...Edison's been working on this half-mile stretch for 6 days.
These people weren't very lucky. Today I noticed another home with 2 cars parked in the driveway. Both were crunched by a large tree. But amazingly nobody was hurt.

Our small city lost approx. 500 trees. Several other cities were affected and had similar losses.
My oldest son was determined to read, and made some candle holders out of my glasses. For three days and 2 nights, life changed for us. But good came out of bad. We had some family time without the tv and other distractions. Mozart emerged from the studio and didn't know what to do with himself...but when we finally began to get into the rhythm of our "new normal" then...the electricity flipped on!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


My youngest son joined me at church today, which was a blessing.

After church, he went to work, and I drove to the Arboretum. My brain is tired from the activity of the week, and this is a restful place where no one talks except the rustling leaves, and the occasional quacking duck.

I walked by this beautiful oak tree. What do you want to teach me? I asked. As I drew closer I noticed some branches were so heavy that they were laying on the ground. But they were still alive and healthy, because they were attached to the trunk.

"I am the vine and you are the branches."
I studied a branch—it looked heavy and tired, like I often feel. And it lay on the ground. But it wasn't dead, it was beautiful. A beautiful branch, worn by the wind and the weather, but not was still thriving. I felt as if God might be saying that although I was laying on the ground, not to worry. I would be fine.
I passed by beautiful red cascading leaves.
"He leads me beside the still waters." I found some palm leaves to put on the damp grass, and sat down to admire God's fall colors.
"He restores my soul."
Three ducks and a goose come for a visit.
Finally I had to leave, due to the fact I was hungry. So I went home, and feasted on leftover turkey.

But I will remember God's assurance, and peace in my heart all week.

And you have a wonderful week too, knowing God loves you.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day

I love the peacefulness of Thanksgiving. It's like a gentle pause before the rush of the Christmas season. My mother and my sister-in-law are talking a walk after our afternoon meal.

Hope you had a great day!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The "Fallish" Things We Do

Okay. Who says we don't have seasons in Southern California? Our neighborhood is turning colors. I love this time of year. We still have warm days, but the nights are cool.

Home life has been a bit "Fallish." I made potato soup the other day. I actually do not like to cook, so I'm proud of this. I decided to get organized and have all the ingredients ready. This recipe called for "baked" potatoes. I had to bake them and peel the skins off! And fry the bacon. My eldest son talked me into this. He has a new cell phone, and one of phone's talents is bringing up recipes. "Try making this mom!" I had to copy the instructions off his cell phone. The soup was good, but I'm about ready to hide his cell phone!

My younger son decided to drive to the beach to visit his grandparents. This was his first solo trip to their place. I found these pictures on the camera from the trip. Below is my father's giraffe. It took him months to build, and it stands on the landing. My dad is a retired engineer and my mother is patient. To the left of the giraffe is a wood sculpture my father fashioned.
"What did D. and you do?" I asked my mother.
She answered, "D. and your father went out and took pictures of clouds."
Here are samples.

A vase of Fall flowers sits in my mother's window. Notice the tennis ball. That's one of her many trophies. She still plays at tennis at 81.
And what am I doing? Well...after working at the school, I head on over to M.K.'s place to help her with a few things. The other day I walked in and heard music coming from the Living Room. I sat down, relaxed, and listened to her play, and she didn't even notice me. Until I clapped.
And she jumped.
I love the warm cozy feeling of her home. It looks a bit like Fall doesn't it?
Mozart has been composing up a storm. Music charts with little black notes, rests, and curly cues are strewn all over the place in his studio. He's working on some Celtic pieces. Tonight a guitarist is here doing some over-dubs.

Have a good week. Count your blessings!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Rough Roads and Smooth

The road has been rough and smooth over here. During a rough time, D.P. brought home some balloons from work, which lightened our hearts.
Diamond is a gift that brings us together.
The boys enjoy a moment with Diamond.
I needed a bit of fresh air, and spent Saturday with my parents. My mother and I took a walk on Balboa Island.
We stopped on a bridge to watch a Kayak.
And admired a succulent garden.
A beautiful Dahlia.

I also played tennis with my 82 year old father. He needed to warm up for a match he playing next Wednesday. I wonder if I will follow in my parents footsteps and be healthy in my 80's. I'm tired already!

I'm reading 2 interesting books. Dawn recommended "When I Lay My Isaac Down." by Carol Kent. I'm now on her second book "A New Kind of Normal". It's about how a mother and father watch their comfortable lives disappear when their only son is arrested and eventually sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The second book is "On Sidesaddles to Heaven" by Laurie Winn Carlson. This book is about six missionary women who crossed the rocky mountains on horseback. The author draws from their diaries. I'm only in the first chapter, but in the introduction I read that these women not only brought their faith into the wilds, but also education and a desire to raise the living conditions and status of the Indians at a time when tribes were being forcibly removed from their homelands in the east. Thanks to my friend Lynn, who recommended this book.

AND SPEAKING OF BOOKS, Debby won the drawing for the Chicken Soup Book! Congratulations!

Have a good week!

Then Jesus said, "Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Empty Chair

As promised, here is the story I wrote that was published in "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Preteens". You can purchase the book by clicking the link above. But if you'd like a free copy, mention "drawing" in your comment and I'll enter you into a drawing for a free book! (scroll down to read story.)

Yesterday, I just had lunch with one of the "strangies". (You'll have to read the story to find out about "strangies". ) This friendly "strangie" makes beautiful beaded jewelry and her site is called Sunny's Shiny Things. I've linked you to her outreach bracelets—you can wear scripture on your wrist!

Okay, it's time for the story. Pretend you are 12 or 13 again, and here we go...

The Empty Chair

“Look what my mom bought me for the first day of school!”
I watched my new best friend, Stacy, emerge from her closet like a super model, and twirl around in her black and yellow striped bell-bottom trousers.
“Cute. When can I borrow them?”

Stacy and I liked the same clothes, purses, hairstyles—everything. That’s why we became best friends over the summer break.
Stacy stopped twirling and flopped down on the bedroom floor next to me.
“I have to warn you about the first day of school,” she said. “Paige will be looking for you.”
“I know,” I sighed. Paige was my best friend last year.
“When she finds out that you’re my best friend now, she’s going to freak.”

Sometimes having a best friend is a pain, I thought. I knew I should just give it up and hang out with a larger group of girls, but the others were so silly and immature. Stacy and I called them “The Strange Girls”— “Strangies”. We, of course, were different. We acted our age.

When the first day of school arrived, Paige ran up to me with a big smile.
“Hi! I love your zipper top. It’s almost like mine. Look!” She spun around.
“Uh...Yeah.” I smiled briefly and glanced at Stacy who stood a few feet away with a frown on her face. This was going to be hard.

As we entered our classroom, Mrs. Hall told us we could push the desks together to form groups of two, three or four.
One of the “Strangies” stood up and called out to me.
“Hey Sharon! Come sit over here with us.”
Pretending I didn’t hear, I headed toward Stacy, who was pushing two desks together near the back corner of the room. We neatly stacked our books and placed our backpacks side by side on the top.

Over the next few days, Paige continued to be friendly. She smiled at me in the middle of a Spelling test and waved at me during P.E. Deep inside, I felt myself wishing we were good friends again while Stacy rolled her eyes and made fun of her.

A couple of weeks later, Page invited me over to her house for an overnight. We crunched on popcorn, watched funny movies and talked about boys. Before the weekend was over, Paige and I were best friends again.

At school on Monday, I wondered how I would break the news to Stacy. When Mrs. Hall switched off the lights and put on a film about the Revolutionary war, it gave me a chance to slide Stacy a note explaining what had happened. She was pretty upset. When the film ended she pulled her books out of the desk, made her thoughts crystal clear and marched across the room to find another place to sit.

“Hey, Stacy. Come sit with us.”
The “Strangies” pushed four desks together and gestured for Stacy to join them. Stacy desperately looked around for another option. With nothing else available, she reluctantly plodded over and dropped her books on the fourth desk.

Days turned into weeks, and my renewed friendship with Paige grew strong. November was just around the corner, and I caught the flu and had to stay home for several days. One evening, as I lay on the couch with a bad headache, the phone rang.

“Hi Sharon. This is Stacy.”
“Oh, hi.” My head pounded. Why in the world would Stacy be calling me? Isn’t she still mad at me? It turned out she had called to see how I was feeling. Her cheerful banter soothed my spirit. She made me laugh when she mimicked one of the “Strangies”, and I melted when she told me I was much more fun to be with.
Toward the end of our conversation Stacy commented, “You’ve got to get away from Paige. She’s sooo juvenile.”

As I fell asleep that night, confusing thoughts tangled in my head. I wondered if I should take up with Stacy again. Paige had been getting on my nerves—always flirting with the boys at lunchtime. Should I end the friendship?

By the time I returned to school the next week, I had made my decision. I approached Paige before the first bell rang and told her our friendship wasn’t working out.
“You’ve got to be kidding. You want to go back to her?” she said, slapping the desk with her Phonics book. “It will be the biggest mistake of your life.”

Later, when Paige was sitting alone, one of the “Strangies” called quietly to her. “You can come over here with us if you like." Another “Strangie” helped Paige carry her books. She slipped into the fourth desk.

Over the next few months my feelings about both girls moved up and down like a roller coaster. When I was with Stacy, I wanted to be with Paige. When I was with Paige, I missed Stacy. Little did I know the rollercoaster was heading for disaster.

On a morning I’ll never forget, I walked into our classroom and got the biggest shock of my sixth grade year. Stacy and Paige were sitting together. Their books and backpacks were side by side, and my stuff had been moved to the back counter. They whispered and glanced in my direction. I wanted to disappear—to be erased like a math problem gone bad.

Trying to hide my tears, I gathered my books and searched for a desk…one that would be away from everyone. Deep down, I knew I deserved this treatment. I had turned back and forth too many times. After just learning about the Revolutionary War, I couldn’t help but feel like Benedict Arnold, the traitor, standing in the middle of the room—all alone—in my stiff red coat.

I spotted a small desk on the side of the room and began to move my things. One of the “Strangies” softly stepped to my side and whispered, “Would you like to sit with us? We have an extra desk.”
I hesitated.
Another “Strangie” came over. “It’s okay. We’ve got room.”

I slowly walked over and sat down. They didn’t embarrass me or ask questions. They just smiled and opened their science books. Their kindness felt like a warm blanket tucked around my heart. It wasn’t long before one of them giggled. Another girl made a funny face when her pencil dropped to the floor. The girls laughed. I smiled. Maybe it wasn’t so bad being “strange”.

From that day forward I made some changes. I would no longer judge the other girls in my class. Instead of being exclusive, I would be friendly to everyone—even to Stacy and Paige.

Today I am blessed with many good friends. And although considerable time has passed since my sixth grade year, I still benefit from that painful experience. I’ve learned to treasure each friend that God has given me, and appreciate their differences. To this day, I still get together with those wonderful “Strange Girls.” We meet at a restaurant for dinner on each of our birthdays. And on those special evenings, as I head toward the table I’m grateful that a fourth chair is always available.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Show Down at a Ghost Town

It's time for a dirt biking story. How 'bout a ghost story? One afternoon I talked Mozart into riding into a ghost town and we had a run in with the law. Here is Mozart pausing on the road in. Little did he know what awaited him around the bend.

Click here for the article: Ghost Town.

The article is posted on Associated Content (which is now part of Yahoo Contributor Network.) I get $1.50 for every 1000 page views. Yes, I know. I won't be getting rich.

Check out Yahoo Contributor Network, if you like to write. It's fun, and sometimes they even pay you for an article. I haven't been active for a few years, but decided to get back into it just to keep up my writing. If you're really nice you can click (somewhere on the article page) and become my fan. Then every time I publish something you will be notified via email. You won't be bombarded. I'm a slow writer. (You're familiar with how fast my blog moves.)

Here we are treking around in our alien suits. It was almost 90 degrees that day!

I bee-lined out of town to the top of a hill, jumped off my bike, and took a picture of the guys riding out of town. We had to leave fast. The Sheriff was after us!
Click here for the article: Ghost Town.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Walking on Water

These people are almost walking on the water. Actually they're gliding on large surfboards and propelling themselves with a long paddle.
SUP (Stand Up Paddle) is the latest craze around here. And everywhere. The sport is an ancient form of surfing and has a Hawaiian heritage. Mozart just finished working on a film about the sport written and produced by Mike Waltze. Click on the move title: "That First Glide" and check out the first few seconds of this trailer. It's amazing how surfers can maneuver the board with the long paddle on large waves. Here is the movie's website for additonal info.

What's fun about the sport, is you don't have to be an expert to have fun.
It's just you and the deep blue sea.
And maybe a friend or two.
Back on the beach, things are a little crazy with the usual noise and oddities.

Like this house.

But it makes a fine view.
And here are the skim board boys. The other latest craze. I wish I had captured a picture of these guys skimming into the shorebreak and doing turns on the crest of the curl.

Later, Mozart and I went to a quieter spot. I was looking forward to some tidepool walking, but it was high tide.

It was nice to see Mozart sitting on a rock, rather than in his black swivel chair in front of the mixing console.
We needed a little time together. (Mozart took about 6 pictures of me, but I'll spare you.) I loved this rock, because it reminded me about how God keeps us safe in the "cleft of the rock".

Whether you're in the cleft of the rock, or sitting on a's a nice place to be.