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Where did it go?

Today is the last day of 2018. A year that seemed to both drag on and fly by. I looked back through my archives to figure out where it went. Going back over things, I realized that it has been a really wonderful year. The stress of Grandma’s hospitalization and fussing over holidays this past couple of months had driven from my mind the many wonderful and beautiful things that happened and that we saw and did, big and small.


January was just January-short days with a little sun and a lot of clouds.


February has two of my nieces birthdays just a couple of days, but several years, apart, They turned one and seventeen in 2018. The hat was a birthday gift from my husband, who knits, and I have a matching one.


More clouds, and a few mountains:

A short visit from my son and his friend (over Chinese New Year):


A big ship-load of cranes:


In March spring began to creep in, amid some interesting clouds:

One unusually warm day we took an outing to Washington Park Arboretum, in spite of living in Seattle most of my life I had never been. If you are ever in town you should go.

More flowers and clouds led up to St. Patrick’s Day:

On the equinox we went to Solstice Park and watched the sunset.


Our plans for my grandmother’s 95th birthday were thrown off by an outbreak of Noro-virus. We couldn’t have the party we had planned at her facility, but a few hours of phone calls yielded a wheelchair van we could rent and we went out. Fortunately (?) she had had and recovered from the virus a week before her birthday so she could go out…after all 95 is kind of a big deal.

The motley crew.


Spring really kicked into gear:

In the second half of the month we went to China to visit our son. It was my husband’s first trip so we flew in and out of Beijing so he could see a couple of the more famous sites.

The Great Wall of China

The Forbidden City


My son lives in Shouguang, which is a small city that is part of Weifang Prefecture in Shandong Province. While visiting we took in the Weifang International Kite Festival:

and Shouguang’s claim to fame, the International High-Tech Vegetable Expo:

Less famous, but very lovely is Shouguang’s garden of peonies. We spend a lovely morning there and came home with some fans painted by this gentleman:



May had big changes for me. A little one was that Amie Lu, a gift from one of our son’s co-workers, joined our household. Amie Lu is a safe travel deer. We named her Amie Lu because Amie is friend in French, and the name of her creator, Lu means deer in Chinese.

Big changes:

When we got home from China, my dear friend, Sam (my father’s dog) had lymphoma and had to be put to sleep, she was obviously failing, but it still broke my heart. I still tear up when I think about her.

Sam chasing bullheads.

A new camera: my dearly beloved Nikon P610 started to have a problem with the zoom switch in China and I needed to find a new camera before our trip to England in June. I was in a hurry so I had time to learn how to use it before our June 5 departure.

The new camera made May a month of learning for me. I took a whole lot of pictures trying to learn to take advantage of at least a few of the wide range of features before our trip.


June was really a highlight of this year, and decade, we took a trip that we have talked about on and off for the thirty one years we were married: We walked the Hadrian’s Wall National Train in northern England. We had all kinds of weather and beautiful scenery…and I made it. The walk ended on our 32nd wedding anniversary and we are still married! A few times along the way I wondered if I had bitten off more than I could chew…but I made it. We ended the trip with a few days at York and a visit to Kew Gardens.

Since Amie Lu is a safe travel deer, we took her with us. She rode mostly in my pocket, but occasionally demanded to be let out.


After two big trips with just a month between we were ready for some home time. The Puget Sound area in summer is (in my biased opinion) a “world class” beauty spot. I always try to spend July and August at home because, while some places might be as nice, I really feel like no where is actually better. We ended the month with our annual week at Mount Rainier. I love actually staying at Paradise because you can go out in the mornings before the crowds ascend.

July brought into our lives Max, my father’s new puppy. Sweet and affectionate, and the personification of energy, she burst in on us and is well on her way to ruling the roost, because, while she is smart and learning, my dad is neither teaching nor learning. Oh well, it worked with Sam.



Again this year there was a period with a lot of smoke from wildfires in British Columbia. My heart really goes out to the people closer to these mind-boggling blazes. Otherwise it was just summer.


The approach of fall.

This is the month I started the Pull up a Seat Challenge. It has been great fun to see all of the posts that the one, simple theme elicits.


October had two parts, the first three weeks of it I was in Shouguang, Shandong Province, China visiting my son. It was a quiet, just wander around and be in a regular Chinese place sort of trip where I didn’t try to do anything ambitious.

On returning home I drifted along not quite in this time zone until, a few days after I got home we got the call at about 1 am that my grandmother was being taken to the hospital. That started the second real part. Sitting in hospital rooms trying to decipher the technical gibberish and make arrangements, but mostly just waiting.


And fall was going on in full colorful swing during all of the nerve-racking lack of excitement.



In November I went downtown, shocking. I rarely do it even though it takes about 20 minutes on buses that run about 20 minutes apart. It is both familiar and intimidatingly changed. As always I decided that I want to get familiar with it again…it used to be my town. We’ll see if I do better at that in 2019 than I did this year.

Otherwise the month was Thanksgiving preparations (we built a ramp so Grandma could come) and the usual late fall prettiness (fall is my favorite time of year).

In November I also started a rather ambitious get my pictures organized and find an efficient workflow project that has made it, at least to start with, less easy to just get a post put together.


KSM-20181219-December-12The cat has learned to open the laundry shoot, and a couple of other cupboard doors. It is a bit unnerving to hear the thump when I know where everyone is supposed to be. I guess it is her way of letting us know that the attempts to have a real guest room available (it was where she has a bed) are not to her liking.

“and so this is Christmas…” and winter.

Christmas Eve the air was exceptionally clear.


My guard dog didn’t prevent Santa from visiting:


Now we are hunkered down trying to keep the animals calm during New Year’s fireworks. I don’t make resolutions, but I do try to make improvements. Maybe I’ll get my new organization system to work, and figure out a more efficient way to work with RAW files…or maybe I’ll eat a bit less and get more exercise. Who knows? Certainly not I.

Happy New Year!

Lens Artists Photo Challenge: Review of 2018

For the beauty of the earth

Even though I haven’t thought of this hymn for a long time, the prompt Earth brought it to mind.

For the beauty of the earth,

for the glory of the skies,

for the love which from our birth

over and around us lies;

Lord of all, to thee we raise

this our hymn of grateful praise.

Not too hard to see how my mind went to pictures taken from airplanes. Being above the earth gives a sense of the planet that one rarely gets from earthbound viewpoints.

Yet the story of the planet Earth is more complicated than beautiful vistas of mountains and clouds. One of the ways travel has affected me is my understanding of the complexity of the world. So many things interact with each other, and often the results are not what “everyone” thought would happen.

This picture gallery shows a mish-mash of images of the Earth taken from planes. I included some that are not exceptionally good photos or pretty scenery to illustrate parts of the Earth’s story:

Nairobi Rooftops: you can really see where the poorer part of town is. This is also is part of the story of the Earth: These economic realities affect how we take care of the Earth.

Arriving at Kichwa Tembo: Masai Mara means spotted plain in Swahili, some of the spots in this picture are Tembo (elephants) and other animals, not trees. The story of the Earth is, at least in part, the story of its inhabitants..and not just human ones. Many of the animals at the Masai Mara  game park are endangered.

Patchwork Fields: this isn’t a great picture but it shows another part of the earth’s story: carefully laid out and cultivated fields in Europe (Ireland, I think). It contrasts dramatically with both the scenery of untamed areas, like the mountains in North America and escarpments in Kenya, and with the rooftops of densely populated Nairobi.

Great Wall of China: again, this isn’t a great picture, but the wall was visible from the plane window when we took off last fall. The Great Wall is just visible as a line on the landscape. Often (at least in my experience) it can’t be seen because the air is not clear. The great wall is endangered by the expansion of the Gobi desert, some of which is due to human activities.

The planet Earth is very beautiful, our hymns of grateful praise are deserved, but perhaps we ought to do more. At the very least our hymns could caution against taking the beauty for granted. Things are changing pretty fast.

Gramps’s Legacy

Going through papers looking for the information needed by the VA for a pension for Grandma , I found these items in an old chest of my grandfather’s, things he collected and cherished.

Memorabilia from the Marines. Including all the letters related to his Distinguished Flying Cross. He was a Marine, an everyday, ordinary hero, manning up until he could no longer stand up.In physical therapy during the week before his death you could see him struggle, but he never complained.

His ukulele book. He taught himself to play the ukulele and brought it along on many vacations. We learned the songs with pauses for chord changes.:

  • I’m looking over a four leafed clover, That
  • I over-looked before.
  • One leaf is sunshine, the…
  • second is rain,
  • third is the roses that…
  • grow in the lane…
  • No need explaining, the one remaining is…
  • somebody I adore. 
  • I’m looking over a…
  • four leafed clover that
  • I over-looked before.

A joke we had fun with. Can you figure it out?

  • OSAR
  • LIB
  • OSAR
  • LIB
  • OSAR
  • LIB
  • OSAR
  • LIB

I don’t know how I want to be remembered. My brain seems to only be firing on a couple of cylinders right now, but when I saw the prompt, it made me think of Gramps.

I can almost prune an apple tree, due to his coaching. I would be up the ladder in the tree and I could tell when I should cut a branch off because his hands would twitch, as if he were using clippers.

I mostly find humor in things…and I sing “I’m looking over, a four leafed clover” with gusto, out of tune and with rests in all the wrong places. And I tend to stick with things…to a fault sometimes. Maybe, just a little bit, I am his legacy. And maybe what I wish for as a legacy is someone who remembers me with fondness, even though I am usually out of tune and it takes me a while to change chords.

Semper fi!!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Don’t You Forget About Me.” and Legacy.

Happy Mama

KSM-20140418-HappyMama-12-480pxI was in Qingdao, China. In an adorable cafe called “The Giraffe”. I was with Emily, my son’s girfriend, and our ability to communicate together was quite limited, smiles, laughter, shei shei, Emily’s cell phone app and my Lonely Planet phrasebook, and I was tired, oh so tired.

James (my son) insisted that I should have a Chinese cell phone so I could reach him or Emily in case I needed as I wandered Weifang alone while they worked. I got it the day before Emily and I went on our outing to Qingdao and had set the alarm for 5:30 am since Emily was going to pick me up at 6. I went to sleep and was wakened by the cell phone. It felt like I had only been asleep a few minutes. I crawled out of bed and headed for the hot pot to make instant coffee. I was so tired my eyes weren’t all the way open. After a cup of coffee my brain started to function. It seemed awfully dark for that time of morning. Turns out it was11:00 pm. My phone had bleeped because its battery was dying.

KSM-20140418-HappyMama-01-480pxThe next morning I was in a little better shape, but the caffeine at 11 meant that I didn’t get the best night’s sleep. We rushed to the train station. The ticket line was so long that we were not going to make our train. Emily talked a young woman who was close to the front of the line into buying our tickets for us. This meant that we were all sitting together.

After leaving the train station we went to the beach, bought some souvenirs then headed out to see the town a bit. Emily had a Chinese map of the city and was looking for the house of a famous author. I later learned from my son that Emily, while she has many fine attributes, can’t read a map.

I really didn’t much care about seeing any particular site. The cherry blossoms were out in force and it was a beautiful day, sunny, mostly clear skies, not too hot or too cold.

But as noon approached these old bones needed a rest and I really needed something to drink, preferably with a bit of caffeine.

KSM-20140418-HappyMama-10-480pxWe spied the light pole first. As soon as I realized it was a coffee shop I somehow communicated that this was where I wanted to be.

At the table they had a little book for people to write in, and people from all over had written notes. Emily enjoyed reading them and wrote something in the book herself then passed it to me. I wrote that I was happy to be there with Emily, since she does not read English I looked up “happy” in my phrase book and signed the note XingfuMama. (In Chinese Characters).

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “All About Me.”