Saturday, December 31, 2011

Photo Farewell to 2011

I stumbled on a meme started by Farewell Stranger where you post a picture for each month of the year...a Photo Farewell to 2011.  I loved the idea and decided to go back and pick out some photos from the past 12 months and share them here.


January brought a trip out to California.  It was originally supposed to be a trip out just to visit my dad, but shortly before the trip he had a bad fall and it became apparent that he could no longer stay in the two story home in the mountains he'd lived in for the last 20+ years.   It was a gut-wrenching trip which forced me to come to grips with how far his Parkinson's had progressed


We don't get much snow here in Texas...but it seems like February is the most likely time to get it!  3 of the best snows I remember happened in February, and 2011 saw one of these.   We woke up that February 4th to a blanket of white and an announcement of no school.  The thick white fog that filled the sky that morning gave way to a clear, vibrant, blue dusted with whisps of puffy white clouds.   The snow was thick, and soon snowmen started popping up in people's yards (including our own).   It only lasted a day, but what a day!


In March I broke my wrist roller skating with my kids, and I got walking pneumonia...both of which I had for far too long before seeing a doctor about.  The wrist had hurt like crazy at first, but by the time I had it checked it had practically was the pneumonia that knocked me out like a two-by-four over the head.  I was coughing up blood, and couldn't walk across the room without getting winded.  When the doctor said he needed to x-ray my chest I asked if he could x-ray my wrist too, and came home with anti-biotics, a cast, and instructions to lay on the couch and not do anything for the next two weeks.

In the midst of this, our hearts went out to the people of Japan who suffered such devestation in the Tsunami.


I had planned to build a raised bed and start a vegetable garden in April, but was still recovering from the pneumonia and didn't have the energy.  The spot where I had planned my garden became a sand-box for my youngest, who helped me keep the weeds out of it by digging it up with his toy shovels and bulldozer.  I took it easy and enjoyed the warmer whether and wildlife (birds and bunnies and such). 


May is always a month for celebrations... Mother's Day, My Birthday, Our Anniversary.  This may brought a new sister-in-law's wedding!



June brought our second year at church doing Holy Land VBS.  It's been a wonderful experience, transforming our church into a Bible land and then getting to watch the kids experience it.  This year we "went back" to Nazareth.  I got to be a 1st century farmer who grew up in the same town as Jesus.  We had fun  decorating peat pots and planting a few seeds which grew in 1st century Nazareth, and sharing our character's stories with the kids. 


Texas summer is always hot...but the heat this year was RELENTLESS.  After days of staying inside to beat the heat, I started taking the kids to the park at 8:00 at night just so they could run off some steam.  Even at night it was hot...though somewhat endurable.   In the midsts of a 108 degree day my littlest found this winter hat and scarf and donned it to go outside.  I titled the picure "Missing Winter."


The heat continued in August, but we escaped it for a couple weeks when we took a family trip back to California to see my Dad.  It was the first time my Dad got to see my youngest face to face, and because of how far his Parkinson's has progressed, sadly this was probably be the last time my kids will get to see their Grandpa.  It was bittersweet.  

The mice had invaded my Dad's mountain home, and it was not fit to stay in with the we took our very first camping trip right in the back yard.  My boys have been asking me to go camping for a long time (it's either too hot, to cold, or too buggy out here in Texas for me to venture staying outdoors), so they were thrilled.  My husband and I learned that the older you get, the harder the ground gets.  But we all enjoyed waking up to the sun-rise through the pines, and taking my boys on walks through the same woods I used to walk through was like a salve for sadness.

We took daily trips "down the hill" (never occurred to me how strange it was calling a 5,000 foot mountain a hill was til I came out here) to see my dad, spent a day at Disneyland with the kids, and spent the last two days in San Diego where my husband grew up.  The kids loved the ocean...and I thought it was ironic that it was foggy and chilly at the beach, IN AUGUST!.    Took so many gorgeous pictures while we were there...browse my California tagged posts if you want to see more.


The heat continued right into September...and I was relieved to have my two older boys in school where they could work out their energy in the school gym.  But, I was very happy they were home the day our back yard burst into flames!  The fire actually started in our neighbour's yard, and my middle son was the first one to spot it creeping under our fence.  Luckily only the fence and some of our lawn got burned, and with our neighbour's help it was out before the fire department got here.


October finally brought some rain...and my youngest and I spent many days visiting a river near by and enjoying the cooler weather.  My poor garden seemed to sign with relief too!


In November our garden TOOK OFF!  The peppers that had been barely surviving all summer started bearing fruit.  We got radishes and green beans (all firsts for my garden), and in the spot the fire had burned in September, HUNDREDS of carrots and a few cilantro plants sprouted.  We had not planted those...they were a surprize left from a couple packets of seeds that blew across my yard year before last, emptying their contents.  I love when the wind plants me a garden!


This is what my December felt like...a blur.  It wasn't that we tried to pack a lot in.  I really tried to keep things simple.  But even so, it felt full: winter colds, decorating, lighting candles, bedtime Christmas carols (our family tradition), a school play, present buying, a little baking.  Full, but happy, still. 

Sunday, December 04, 2011


One of my favorite blogs is Emma Tree.  A blog by a poet from Texas, full of beautiful pictures and words.  There's a lot of Texas in her poems...but you might enjoy them even if you're not from here, or even if you live here and don't consider yourself Texan at all.  In her poems you might even find beauty in the summer heat, the bitter cold winter wind, dead grass on the roadside, wildfires, weeds.  Here's some excerpts of her poetry (links to the full poems underneath).

in this year of loss upon loss upon heartbreak
my hand on my mother's heart as she drew her last breath
this year of drought and shimmering heat
 A Moment in Time

the haze of wildfires hung low in the sky
and we drifted under the almost full harvest moon.
 the lake: early evening, coming home

i awoke to gray skies and no birdsong,
a breeze that teased of wet possibilites.  

Her prose is beautiful's a sampling:
...leaves lay like wounded butterflies on the porch outside my front door.  grasshoppers cling to my window screens, as do lizards and moths, and temperatures at last below 100 lure me into the night once again, my old habits also returning.
- Standing on the Equinox's been a summer of heat and wind and grassfires and defensively watering trees and lawns in the face of no rain - but this wind was the edge of a hurricane and it came in and didn't stop.
- what you can't see in this picture: for connie jean, who packed suitcases and waited

Saturday, December 03, 2011


I found a very lethargic grasshopper in my garden last month. When he wouldn't move after being nudged, I ran and got my 3 year old. That grasshopper road around on a stick for nearly an hour! For the next three days "grasshopper" was my son's favorite word.

(Any animal lovers in the house?  Just discovered a beautiful poem about a strange set of pawprints on one of my favorite Texas bloggers sites.)


Camera Critters

Friday, December 02, 2011

Gale Force Winds in California

A Californian friend just put a picture of knocked over tree up on facebook. That's how I found out there were Gale force winds hitting California (Would it be too cheesy to say me-force winds?  Um...yes, yes it would, Gale.).

Ok, now that I'm done having a little conversation with myself...wanted to let all of you in California know I'm thinking about you and hope you're staying safe.