The big walnut tree

iphone 2012 107

I know quite a lot of people who hate walnuts! They are probably not my favorite nut but I do happen to know they are very good for us.   Good for the brain I have been told. But walnuts are more than a really healthy nut to me. They are memories.

When I was just a little girl with absolutely no worries at all and bathed in unconditional love I would frequently visit my great grandparents on my mom’s side. They came from poverty and migrated here during the dust bowl in hopes of a better life. It was so hard for them, but they were hard working and determined people and they settled in California up north in a farming town. They had a really beautiful big walnut tree in the middle of their yard. When I was little it seemed enormous and the yard seemed sprawling. I’m not sure how many of you have visited Northern California, more inland where the farming country is but the soil smells sweet and I remember this sweet smell of the soil. Grandpa had hung a swing in that grand tree and I often would sit on the swing and dangle my little childhood feet having endless conversations with myself because I was born first to my mom and my little sister didn’t come until 11 years later. And although my mom remarried and I gained a brother who was 6 years older than me, I was mostly an only child for quite some time. So I was completely content being alone on the swing under the big beautiful walnut tree talking to myself.


This is a real photo of my great grandparents with two of their children, I think that’s my grandpa there, the boy and the little girl is my Aunt Louise

I remember their back garden where in the far back grandpa would burn their trash every so often and it was such a treat to stand next to grandpa in his old hat and trousers as we watched the trash burn together. He was a quiet man, very quiet but I loved him so dearly because he would let me comb his hair while he watched t.v. and we would walk to the corner store together, he with his hat, hand in hand walking down the dirt path. He would quietly tell me I could pick out a toy or treat every time we went. I cherished those little trinkets so very much. I specifically remember two of the toys very much.  One was a tiny little Asian doll and the other was a small tea set.

iphone 2012 423

This is NOT a walnut tree but just some trees, pictures were limited this post but my posts always must includes pictures

At night when we would get ready for bed, I slept with grandma and grandpa slept in a tiny room that was more like a passing hall with a twin bed. I remember grandma’s clock. Tick, tick, tick. I remember the smell of Vicks. I remember the sound of distant trains and the sprinklers that go tee, tee, tee, tee. So when I hear these sounds today, when I smell the Vicks. I think of them. My mind goes straight back to when times were easy, simple and free spirited.

I could go on and on and on about my good memories with great grandpa and grandma but really, the walnuts I just ate. They reminded me of this. And each time I see walnuts this is where my heart returns. I bet you have similar stories associated with sounds, smells or certain foods? And sadly I have not too many images to share because back then we didn’t take pictures of our every days we instead stored them in our heads and in our hearts.


Way up on the Hill Top what can you SEE?

Saturday afternoon was spent running a few errands, giving the front of the house a little update and then it was time to watch the sun disappear.  A good place to watch the sun hide is on top of Signal Hill in Long Beach.  We decided to invite Papa and Mama Bear because they used to know this hill top well and  long before it became a small park that overlooks Long Beach, the Pacific Ocean and even the City of Los Angeles they knew it when there were lots and lots of oil horses and not many homes.  It’s quite a beautiful view.  We took Cherry all the way down because Papa and Mama Bear had a few memories to share along the way and I also knew this area was special to my own mom since I was born not too far from here in Harbor City.  It’s almost where I came from in a very small abstract way.  We also decided to have some fun making broom flying pictures only we let it get a little too late and it wasn’t as easy to capture what we had in mind.  Motorcycle man makes a pretty great broom rider.  So bare with me.  I’m going to just share a series of pictures of our Saturday evening on top of the hill.  Papa even did a broom ride shot, only I video taped his and it included lots and lots of laugher which is really great for our souls.  I will keep that video between family but just know it was really a good chuckle.

IMG_8636 IMG_8638 IMG_8639 IMG_8642 IMG_8646 IMG_8649 IMG_8651 IMG_8660 IMG_8671 IMG_8674 IMG_8684 IMG_8688 IMG_8694 IMG_8701 IMG_8703

decim8 it’s an app for the iphone

I was introduced to this application called decim8 from a friend of mine called “Nessie”  she has introduced me to lots of really fun apps for my iphone, all to do with photography of course.  I decided to join her in a project.  I’m fairly consistent but I do miss a day from time to time.  She calls it Shakeitout2014 and it’s a fun little project that one does with their cell phone with another app called Hipstamatic  and these things can be addictive for photo junkies like me.  I think often the idea of a SP (self-portrait) is terrifying to most.  However as I have explained in the past, it’s all a part of our artistic expression in the community of artists where I like to spend some time.  I have life long friends who nearly think I’m a freak for some of the silly things I do like “selfies” and for sure when I crack out the unicorn head but it’s just sort of who I am and I try not to let negative comments or weird facial expressions of some slow me down any.  I have plenty of support otherwise and my kids especially are very used to my antics.  So the other day I was rolling the dice, cause that’s what you can do with the decim8 app to get random filters and patterns and I got stuck rolling the dice. It was like this strange addiction.  I couldn’t stop rolling the dice to see what this app would come up with.  Below are some of the results. 

decim8some are kind of pretty, while others are a little scary. So I’m just sharing about apps and projects in case any of you want to join or try.  It’s fun. It just is.  Just like breathing, believing and loving this is part of me.  Take it, leave it, ignore it, like it, hate it as long it provokes some sort of emotion then I have accomplished the part about art.

I have another busy day ahead of me.  You see the soccer player has his last game.  It’s an away game.  I plan on getting over there.  He did fantastic yesterday, blocked way more goals than went in.  One passed through but I was so proud of all the blocks prior.  Littlest girl still has a hurt knee from her ice-skating fall so she is taking the week off cheer.  I had a nice dinner with motorcycle guy last night and we spent an evening with the oldest this week which was nice.  We have a MAJOR PLUMBING problem right now.  It’s really, really bad.  Oh, yuck.  It may even need an actual plumber this time. Rich and Papa will see what can be done tonight.  I suppose we will just have to see.  I’ll be away tonight getting a hair cut.  I wonder what I will decide.  The word Shag has popped into my head a few times.


Yesterday’s December word was tree or trees.  The sun was beginning to set and I realized I had not taken a picture of a tree or trees and I stepped into our backyard and decided to take a picture of the three trees for the three children.   This is when I noticed the boys trees leaves had changed to yellow and Abbie’s purple heart tree was nearly just twigs.  I dont’ know much about trees.  I picked Abbie’s because it was purple-red and the leaves were the shape of a heart.  I picked th boys trees because the wind blew through the leaves and they danced in a peaceful and delicate way.  I didn’t research them or find out if they have seasons.  I just picked them because I thought they were pretty.  Now I know they have seasons and I can’t wait for spring to show me what they will do then.  Below are two shots each of each childs trees.

Abbie1Here is Abbie’s tree, with only a few heart leaves hanging on

abbie2do you see the chubby sweet heart-shaped leaf?

austin1This is Austin’s tree, his leaves somehow are smaller than Dylan’s leaves but there are many


I found a few green leaves, either left from summer or beginning for spring…not completley sure which?


This is the top of Dylan’s tree and his leaves are wider and bigger a little more bold

IMG_7158This is what Dylan’s tree looks like when I lay on the ground, underneath and shot up

The last thing that happend while I was in the backyard shooting trees, I found a heart made from fluffy pipe cleaner.  My sister had been over the day before, I can only imagine she made it for me to find.  That’s what I want to think anyway.


day 15

I’m sure Michelle won’t mind.  She shared on her gratitude this week about these pumpkin doughnut muffins   that Martha Stewart shares on her website.  Oh, please if you like to bake and are a fan of pumpkin, try these.  I made a batch yesterday and it was very easy.  Much, much easier than the soufflés and I must say, better tasting by far.  I only needed two ingredients from the store, the rest I had on hand.  I picked up some buttermilk and canned pumpkin and I was ready to bake.  Below are some of the images of a little bit of our process.  Last night the kids tasted them and didn’t want to stop at just one, although they did….per mama.  They then couldn’t wait for morning to have another.  I too enjoyed a muffin with my coffee this morning; I even took a few to work to share with my friends today.  All great reviews.  A little dense, not a fluffy muffin but perfectly dense just the way one might expect a pumpkin doughnut muffin to taste.  I’m thankful for friends who share recipes! 



IMG_6677I also got to thinking yesterday when I took the soccer player to CVS so he could buy Hershey Kisses for his girlfriend and when we got there he realized he forgot to wear shoes.  I said “just go on in without them, in the 70’s that’s what we did a big majority of the time, it was the norm” He said “well we aren’t in the 70’s anymore mom but I kind of wish we were” “I know huh?”  No shoes in the grocery store, dirty feet, no seatbelts, no helmets, running the streets till the street lights went on without our parents even giving it a second thought that they had not seen us all day long.   Those really were some good old days. We approached the door of the store and he was frantically reading all the signs posted, No dogs allowed, leave backpacks at the register, no smoking, but it said nothing about no shoes, so he did go in, but you could tell he was nervous about it.  I’m also thankful that my first decade of life was in the 70’s.


Little redheaded me midway through the 70’s

Last but certainly not least, Happy Birthday to my dear old dad.  He is on his way back from Korea as I type this, gone for his actual birthday.  I’m proud to call him dad because he raised me when he didn’t have to.  He took me in as his own.  Nobody would have guessed he wasn’t my biological dad, except for the confusion with my red hair when nobody else in my immediate family had red hair.  It was always the big question “where did you get that red hair?”  I’m thankful for my dad.


lessons big and small

aus jimiThis child of mine is a gift, all three of my children are gifts and ultimately they belong to God.  We can teach them in the ways they “should” go but ultimately, just as we have been created with free will, so have they.  I left Austin a note recently about our love for him and how we love him so much we have to let him make his own mistakes. It hasn’t been exactly easy so far and to be honest I see it getting more difficult before it gets better.  He learned a big lesson when he had his first car accident and his insurance will be higher for three years, but with that came the privilege to rebuild the damaged car along-side his Dad and grandpa.  It should be three full years of higher insurance rates but since his accident happened on the front end of our insurance renewal, it will be more like a 2-1/2 year increase for him.  I find a blessing in this.

Watching him find his nitch in this life also isn’t so easy.  I have to believe that God created things this way as lessons for us too.  God I’m sure is continually frustrated with our choices when he knows how easy it can be if we just trust in Him.  And with our children we know it could be so much easier if they just trusted us fully but that clearly is not happening with our first-born and I just keep praying that the day will arrive when his eyes are opened and he just comes back.  He comes back to his roots. It’s a lesson in patience, it’s a lesson in trust.  And lessons are hard, even for us adults.  With each lesson comes growth and that’s also something to be thankful for.  So as his mom, I can only hope he learns his lessons quick.

This video clip isn’t recent but since art is on my mind with the art walk just around the corner I wanted to share this piece with anyone interested in watching it.  Austin had a particularly rough junior year in high school and in this video he had a homework assignment for history.  I could see from the start to finish of the project his heart softened for the time being.  It was a great thing to fully record and witness.