First Camellia of the Season

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Dear Reader:

Just as the Christmas decorations are going up inside my home, the camellias are beginning to bloom in my garden! If you are not familiar with this wonderful shade loving plant, allow me to introduce you. It’s an evergreen with wonderful glossy green leaves and it blooms in the late fall and throughout the winter. The flowers range in color from white to red with every shade of pink in between! It’s a beautiful thing for a woman who believes in pink.

Tis the season to be festive…inside and out!

Michele

 

 

The Weather Outside is Frightful!

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Winnie is a very curious puppy and this is her first fire; she can not stay away!

Dear Reader:

The weather outside is frightful, showers and 59 degrees Fahrenheit, but the fire is so delightful! Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain. Winter on the Central Coast of California is easy, just like the livin’!

Best wishes to you for a cozy evening, too.

Michele

Happy Thanksgiving

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”

Meister Eckhart

Thank you family and friends for your love, support and company.

And thank you, dear readers! I know that there are so many other things you could be doing while you spend time with me in my pink shed. I am grateful that you choose to visit.

Michele

 

 

One Veteran’s Story

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Mike enjoying the view from the porch

Dear Reader:

My husband and I had just finished watching Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War the week before I visited the Avila Valley Barn with my daughter and her college friends. I passed a man in a baseball cap that read: Vietnam Veteran as I entered the property.

I looked at him and said, “Nice cap,” and gave him a thumbs up. It was, I suppose, a rather awkward way of acknowledging his service, but he responded with an open smile.

After I shopped for fresh produce, sampled apple pie and selected pumpkins for my seasonal table, I felt compelled to join the veteran on the porch. I sat down in the rocking chair next to him and said hello. Mike and I began an easy conversation about the fine weather and pleasures of Avila Beach.

Then I began the conversation that I really wanted to have with him by asking if he’d seen the Burns’ documentary. He had not, but he readily shared his story with me. He had just entered high school when the war began, but he said he somehow knew that he would end up in Vietnam.

After graduation, he received a scholarship and attended The Boston Conservatory of Music. Mike was an opera singer for two years… until he was drafted. He was discharged a year later after he witnessed the death of two others standing very near to him. His injuries, both physical and emotional, remain with him. It seems the after effects of Agent Orange have been the most troublesome to his well-being.

“The folks at the VA keep telling me I’m not long for this world,” he told me. “But, I don’t put a lot of stock into what the government says.”

His distrust seems justified.

“My wife and I just settled into the home of our dreams,” he continued. “It’s a small house with a huge garden that my wife loves. And, I’ve finally found some peace.”

I asked what had become of his musical career and he answered that it was another “casualty of war.” After many years of struggling with life on a daily basis, Mike discovered that he had the patience and skill needed to work with disabled children.

“I’d have never known I could help so many kids if I hadn’t served,” he concluded.

I left the barn that day with tears spilling from beneath my sunglasses. My thoughts turned to Mike again this weekend as we celebrated Veteran’s Day. I certainly hope the VA doctors are wrong; I hope Mike has many years to enjoy life in his new home and garden.

Michele

 

 

 

 

Sunshine Blogger Award for Me!

Dear Reader,

I’ve been tagged! I want to thank Angelica @TheBookCoverGirls for nominating me to answer the following questions as part of the Sunshine Blogger Award 2.0!

Angelica is very curious about me! Here are her questions and my answers:

What is your favorite book cover of all time?

 

Aside from reading, what is your favorite pastime?

I like to write and to eat, drink and be merry.

Who are your favorite authors of all time?

I admire Joan Didion and enjoy Nora Ephron. The children’s/YA author, Cynthia Rylant, holds a special place in my heart; I’d love to meet her.

What is the hardest thing about blogging?

Well, I had to overcome my fear of technology!

What is your favorite thing about blogging?

I love the feeling of personal satisfaction when I feel I’ve nailed a post and I love the friends I’ve made.

What is your favorite piece of bookish merchandise that you own?

My coffee mug with the T.S. Eliot quote: I have measured out my life in coffee spoons.

How many books do you own? (Physical, audio, ebook, etc.)

OMG! I refuse to answer this one! Let’s just say: I love books and I’ve been alive/collecting for a long time!

Where do you usually read? Is there a specific spot in your house?

I read pretty much everywhere: on the couch, in bed and, of course, in the pink shed.

What is your favorite book to movie adaptation?

Loved the books first and then the movies: Gone With the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird and Silver Linings Playbook (I read the book after seeing this movie, because I loved the movie so much).

What is your least favorite book to movie adaptation?

Eat Pray Love was so disappointing.

Write down the first animal that comes to mind. Ready, set, go! Tell me something cool about it!

Surprise (not) ….a dog. I have three on the couch with me now and they are keeping me warm on a cool autumn evening!

Thanks for reading, as always…

Michele

 

How does it work…

  • Thank the person(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you
  • Nominate new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or on your blog

My Nominees:

My Botanical Garden||Busy K Blog||Milly Schmidt||Gardening Nirvana||Marie McLean||silkannthreades||

My Questions:

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. Why do you continue blogging?
  3. Do your family members and close friends follow your blog and, if so, do you moderate yourself?
  4. What is your earliest memory of being read to or reading yourself?
  5. What is your favorite children’s book and why?
  6. Who are your heroines/heros?
  7. What publications do you regularly read?
  8. Do you still go to bookstores? If so, do you have a favorite?
  9. Pick one:  coffee or tea?
  10. What is your favorite travel destination?
  11. Who are you in three words?

Dia De Los Muertos

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My altar
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Catrina draped in my grandmother’s rosary beads
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A lamp made by my brother

Dear Reader:

Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is a misunderstood holiday celebrated in Mexico, and in my home, on November 2. Given the timing of the holiday and the macabre imagery and costumes, people assume it’s simply “Mexican Halloween.” But, the meaning of this holiday is so much greater.

In the year 2000, my 35-year-old brother was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer and I did what I always do when presented with a major life challenge; I researched and read about the topic of death. Books have always been my saviors. During the toughest year of my life, as I watched Matt die, the accumulated wisdom of others brought me comfort. It was during this time that I learned about Day of the Dead.

The holiday takes its origins from the Aztecs and was celebrated around the end of summer like Halloween. With the arrival of Spanish conquistadors, Catholic influence led to the combination of the holiday with All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day. Dia De Los  Muertos follows the same two-day structure. In the Catholic tradition, All Saints’ Day calls us to reflect upon how we should live; All Souls’ Day is a celebration of those we’ve loved and lost. In the Mexican tradition, November 1 is the day to remember the loss of children and November 2 is the day to remember adults who have left us. The most important aspect of the holiday is the belief that the spirits of the dead join the living for the celebration.

In preparation for the party, altars are created that contain remembrances and offerings to our departed loved ones. (Sugar skulls are often included for children and alcohol for adults. You may have noticed KAH tequila in my display.) I love arranging my tribute each year and I love talking about my altar to visitors in my home. Those who are represented are gone but not forgotten; that truism is comforting to me.

I remember:

  • My grandmother, Rose Carmella Bartucci. She had a big heart and memories of her make me smile. My daughter never knew her, but her middle name and nickname (Rosebud) are in her honor.
  • My brother, Matt. I miss you so much.
  • My father-in-law Jim. My husband inherited all your best traits and my daughter adored you.
  • Bart, my faithful four-legged companion. The pink shed isn’t quite the same without you.

During the time that my brother was sick and following his death, I often felt very alone in my grief. It’s not easy or natural to speak of death and dying in our culture, but I believe very strongly that we should. What better way to start a conversation than by bringing the departed back into your living room?

I’ll end this now as it’s time to toast my loved ones.

Cheers,

Michele

 

 

The Bouquet on my Desk

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Dear Reader:

I wore my first sweater of the season last week; it was a chilly 68 degrees. It’s fall in California, but I have a summer bouquet to enjoy every day.! It was created by my blogging friend, Tamara Jare at My Botanical Garden. It was spring when I selected the lovely watercolor and I was anticipating summertime as I always do. I framed the small piece and it sits on my desk in the pink shed. I can almost smell the peonies, roses, grasses and spirea in full bloom.

As Tamara said, “It’s a special arrangement in the same way that each summer is special.” It’s particularly meaningful to me because it’s a reminder of one of the first friends that I made after creating my blog. I have a friend in Slovenia! I never thought I’d be able to say that!

Tamara found my site just two days after I established it and became one of my first followers. I was glad, not only to have her as a reader, but also to discover the beauty on her site. We developed a connection over the past months and have continued to communicate through e-mail.It was fun to discover how much Tamara and I have in common. We are about the same age and happily married with grown children. After she read my post  about aging, she shared that Oil of Olay (tanti anni fa) was the secret to her youthful good looks, too! We agreed that they must have a good advertising company!

We are both creative women who feel happy and complete in our lives. Tamara began her blog when her mother was terminally ill and the artistic expression helped her through that very difficult time. I started my blog when my one -and -only left me to go to college. If one could bottle creative expression, it would be truthful to state that it is a potent remedy in times of loss or change.

I’m sure that I will sound my age when I say that I am amazed to find women who are so seemingly like me in all parts of the world. I’m an “old dog” who learned a “new trick” and I’m grateful to be part of a blogging community with no boundaries.

I am hopeful that someday I’ll meet my friend in Slovenia, but, until then, her art keeps me company while I pursue my creative side.

Thanks Tamara!

Love,

Michele