Winter is Upon Us

I spent the solstice gathering a few cuttings from the garden and marveling at what survives both drought and early frost. Plants are resilient.

Winter Garden

I snipped three miniature roses, a handful of Salvia leucantha, and geranium foliage to make a small arrangement. There’s a sprig of something pink in there as well, but in the early hours, the name escapes me.

A Sleigh of Winter Blooms

My youngest son is home for the holidays this year, along with his sweet pup Juneau. I’m so happy to have them here for a few weeks, but Juneau’s boisterous presence puts out all three felines.

So, for now, our bedroom serves triple duty as Mike’s office and a feline hotel. Lindy is oblivious to the dog’s presence, but she has to share her favorite spot under the bed. Mouse wants to let the dog know he’s in charge, and Tessa is scared. Extra loving and treats help smooth things out, and of course, the situation is temporary.

I made several Christmas cards this year, but I’ve been slow to send them. Lifted Spirits hosted its first-ever “shop without your wallet” event for survivors of domestic violence. It was an enormous time commitment organizing clothing racks, scarves, and other goodies, but it all came together beautifully. My friend and fellow volunteer Mary organized refreshments and volunteers for the day. Our ED quietly got the word out.

Volunteers prior to event

I set up craft tables for the children in the center of the room, and a colleague donated an over-the-top Christmas tree, pictured below. Clothing and jewelry stations were arranged in a U-shape so the children could see their mother at all times and vice-versa.

Polar Bear-themed Christmas Tree

The success of this event has energized us. Our team hopes to do this again in the future. Throughout the event, we served 65 women and 35 children. Domestic violence has soared since the start of the pandemic. I needed to focus on our work instead of its reasons for my sanity.

Filling needs

December’s creative endeavors included my annual snow globe

Polymer snow from the teaching supply store
Snow globe

and a seasonal update to my miniature display. These projects are restorative and fun.

Miniature Winter Scene
Pine twig fencing and a cinnamon stick sleigh

Today I’m headed downtown for our pandemic-friendly Christmas celebration for women in need. After that, I’ll enjoy a week off with my family and the quiet unfolding of moments spent together.

Winter Wonderland

Merry Christmas!

Dogs Have Owners, Cats Have Staff

Don’t you love that expression? If you live with a cat, you know what I’m talking about.

I grew up with cats, though a stray dog or two crossed my path now and then. I once shared my cramped twin bed with an Irish Setter for a week  before we located the dog’s owner. I was 12 at the time. Though I knew we couldn’t keep him, I burst into tears when we had to let him go.

I love all animals, but in my years of renting, living with cats made more sense. The number of cats in residence fluctuates, since word gets out; before you know it you’ve got six cat bowls lined up on the kitchen counter.

The current count is one husband, two teenage boys and three felines.

Okay, I strung that sentence together for the sake of diplomacy. The felines run the place and the rest of us fall in line.

Here’s the current line up:

Lindy-Lu is our senior feline. We adopted her from our local Humane Society when she was about three for my son’s 8th birthday. My son turns 18 this June. Lindy is mellow and sweet and loves to be near us, but she never sits on our laps.

lindy in the garden

Lindy in the Garden

She enjoys sleeping next to my pillow at night, or draped across the arm of the sofa. Lindy-Lu takes her cat naps at the foot of our bed or in the stream of sun on the living room floor, but when she’s ready to hunker down for a long sleep, she disappears into the bedroom closet for a long snooze. I’m careful to always keep the door cracked.

lindy on the bench

Lindy Practicing her Adorable Pose

Lindy sunbathing

Sunbathing on the bed

Slinky is our mystery cat. She’s borderline feral, and about 90% hard of hearing. She used to bite when startled and will take a swing at you if your hand moves in a suspicious manner.


Pet me…or else

It took a long time to coax her indoors, but after a year of living in a shelter in our side yard, she came to appreciate the comforts of indoor living. She now spends most of her time asleep on my desk.

slinky in front of computer

Slinky does her neck exercises in front of the monitor

slinky in her bed

Slinky color-coordinates with her bed

Slinky is afraid of Lindy, poor little thing, but stands up to Mouse, even though he’s younger and twice her size. Slinky is a petite six pounds while Mouse weighs a whopping 16 pounds.

Mouse has an official home, but he doesn’t let on. He takes all his meals at our house, sleeps on our beds and generally makes himself comfortable.

Mouse in the garden

Mouse in the garden

mouse with catnip

Mouse enjoys his catnip toy

He’s charmingly adorable. Mouse lives for treats, so I’m partly to blame for his expanded waistline. He collects kitty snacks from others as well, including my sister on her frequent visits.


Mouse lends moral support around homework time

Mouse has many admirers, and would probably be insufferable if he were a man and not a cat. He assumes everyone loves him, and frankly why wouldn’t they? If I could change one thing about him, it would be his stealthy hunting skills. He loves the game of catch and release.

This brings me to our fourth creature-in-residence, the elusive and cunning Mr. Rat.  One of my boys noticed an overly attentive Lindy parked near the entertainment center this morning. After they left for school, Lindy backed away and Mouse took over. Here was my chance to show Mr. Rat the door.

mouse hunts the rat

Mouse on the alert; Lindy strolls past the barricade


I gathered boxes, boards, baskets and whatever I could get my hands on, then rolled up the carpet to make a barricade. I opened the door wide to the fresh air and knew I  was ready. Meanwhile, Mouse single-mindedly entered and exited all the cabinet compartments, determined to find his prey. I mentally thanked him for ‘directions’ before putting him in one of the bedrooms.

It was time to make my move. Mr. Rat made a run for it. I stomped my foot hoping to startle him toward the door. He ran toward some potted plants instead and then disappeared right before my eyes. How can this be!!!

I stood there dumbstruck. How could a six-inch rat disappear so quickly?

For the record, I’m blaming it on the vertigo. How else to explain his disappearance.

Three different live traps and two direct interventions later, the score remains disproportionately in the rats favor. That’s what I get for giving Mr. Rat a name. Like all the stray cats, he probably assumes that he too is welcome to stay.


Hiking with Dylan

After three weeks of conflicting schedules, I finally got to hike with my four-legged friend, Dylan. Karen came too!

I love all animals, but I have a special place in my heart for Dylan. Unlike my sister’s cat who knows me as “that woman with the vacuum,” Dylan knows I’m his walking buddy. I heard from Karen that he also knows me by name. That news made me stand a little taller. It’s hard to top the selfless love of an animal, isn’t it?


Who’s a happy dog?

Early March is beautiful around here. All the trees are starting to bloom in bursts of pink, white and purple. We hiked along the Campbell trail, with a brief stop at the dog park.  It was a feast for the eyes.

I’ve been walking the Campbell Par Course for over twenty years and I never tire of it. I think that’s the way it goes with nature. Nature is constant, but the variables are forever changing.  The creek nearby rises and falls, seasons of course change too. Trees fall, new trees grow, ducks and geese lay their eggs. Two ancient foot bridges finally gave way to wider, safer and more aesthetic ones.  The trail’s essence remains the same.

Come walk with me. Here is part of the view:

Daffodils at the Trail Head

Daffodils at the Trail Head

Trees in bloom

Trees in bloom

Dylan at the Dog Park

Dylan and a new friend at the dog park
The park backs up to a building sporting the mural…dogs on pedestals of course.

Approaching the foot bridge

Approaching the foot bridge

Campbell Par Course

Campbell Par Course

Campbell Par Course

Growing along the trail

Crossing the second footbridge

Crossing the second footbridge


Do you have a favorite walking place?


Hiking the Quicksilver Trail

Karen and Dylan

Hiking Buddies

We officially launched our back-to-school hiking season today along one of the beautiful Quicksilver trails.  It was a perfect fall day! I hike with my friend Karen, and her sweet dog, Dylan during the school year.  With four children between us, we rarely find time for these hikes in the summer.  It’s good to be back.

Dylan was so happy to see me, that he climbed in my lap and prepared to stay there…all 58 pounds of him. Dogs have an innate ability to make you feel loved. I adore him! He was also happy to be back on the trail with his senses working in overdrive.

Almaden Quicksilver

Almaden Quicksilver boasts a vast web of trails throughout Almaden Valley, a suburb in Silicon Valley. Once home to Quicksilver Mines, it’s now a 4,152-acre county park “encompassing several historic remains, including abandoned towns, cemeteries, old equipment, and mine entrances.”

Hiking Trail

Almaden Quicksilver Hiking Trail

We’ve had no measurable rain for months, so the trails are a dry, brown hue. Though I love the verdant green winter and spring days, there is something magical about this time of year.  Evergreen shrubs and trees cast shadows on the well-worn trails. Patches of dried bramble shelter rabbits, lizards and birds. The soft rustling adds to the experience.

popcorn like flowers going to seed

Flowers going to seed or popcorn on the vine

Just as I bemoaned the fact that we’d not seen deer for a while, we spotted some near the head of the trail. Their legs blend in with the dried grass. I took my eyes off of them to adjust my camera, and they seemed to momentarily disappear.  My heart sings a little when I get a close glimpse of them. Wildlife continues to flourish in the heart of Silicon Valley.

A pair of deer at trail head

pair of deer

Always on the alert for predators

Halloween Countdown

Man of La Mancha pumpkin

Man of La Mancha Pumpkin
Don Quixote and Sancho Panza

Smiling in the Garden

Smiling is good for you. It reduces tension, helps you relax and promotes overall good health. There is always something to smile about in the garden; sometimes I’m lucky enough to catch it with my camera.

I hope these photos put a smile on your face, too.

Kitty in the garden bed

Sure, the pumpkin is nice, but will you look at that cat I grew!?

squirrel closeup

He’s a cheeky little fella

hummingbird at feeder

Look, Ma!!! I can fly with one wing!

dog like flowers

I think there’s a pooch hiding in the tree. Dogwood???

bottoms up

Bottoms up!

Are you smiling yet?

4th of July: The Canine Contingency

Our neighborhood pool association hosts a parade and watermelon eating contest every year in honor of Independence Day.  Now that my boys are older, they fly off on their bikes, leaving me free to snap photos of the four-legged participants.  Here they are:



Beautiful Lab

Beautiful Lab



Lacey Meets a Giant's Fan

Lacey Meets a Giant’s Fan

My Favorite Picture of the Day

My Favorite Picture of the Day