Thursday, April 28, 2016

Remembering Life in a Small Town

Thank you dear readers for all your kind comments you left me from my last  blog post.  It does feel good to have the ability to write something down and then get feedback so that I know I'm not the only one who feels this way.

I wanted to share some pics from my flower garden but I thought it would be boring; I needed to spice it up a bit.  It got me thinking of living in a large city environment and how different that is from living in a small town...

My little grandchildren were born here in south Orange County and are growing up here.  The schools are excellent here and there's so much for them to do with the beach at their backdoor, but it's much different from how I and their dear Mother grew up.  I was raised in Ellensburg, WA, a college/farming town in central Washington.  The population from the 2010 census showed 18,174 inhabitants but it was smaller during the 60's and 70's.  It was an old town with some wonderful old, historical buildings along with a proper main street.  The college campus was and is a beautiful campus with a mix of old and new buildings. (Oops, it's actually a "university" but in my mind it will always be a college)...Have you ever watched "It's a Wonderful Life" at Christmas time?  Ellensburg is very much like the town of Bedford Falls projected in that film. 

There was a good chance that you knew your neighbors and they knew you.  My Grandfather could walk into the bank and he was greeted.  My grandparents had immigrated to America in the early teens of the 20th century.  Coming from Denmark, they found lots of Danish immigrants in the Kittitas Valley as it was rich in farm land.  My grandfather ended up owning three farms; one for himself, one for my father and one for my uncle.

Reading a blog this week, the writer mentioned "going into town".  This was a common saying as the farms were located out on the old Vantage Highway and it was a couple of miles into town (compared to California driving, it would be a breeze).  Later when I was in high school, we moved to the other side of the valley to Thorp, WA.  It was about 8 miles "into town". There were a total of 12 students in my graduating class!

But, during the winter months, those few miles could be treacherous with ice, snow and blowing winds.  Ellensburg is known for being windy as it sits in a valley surrounded by mountains.  And, you don't have to go far to see the beautiful fields of corn, timothy hay (which they are known for), and other crops.  It's also a big area for dairy farms.  Seeing cows, horses and other livestock was a common sight.  My little grandson has to go to the "petting zoo" to see such things.

As for shopping and other facilities, we had all the necessary stores that were needed. There was a hospital, too.  But, other than JC Penneys (which later closed), there was a high end dress store and one other department store.  It was common to order from the Sears catalog and pick up your order at the Sears catalog store.  This practice continued into the 1980's.  Or, if we had the time, my dear Mom and I would drive over the hill to Yakima where there were proper shopping centers.  I have great memories of these trips with my Mom.

When I got married in 1975, I moved to Moses Lake WA which is 70 east of my hometown.  But, my oh my, those 70 miles made a huge difference.  Moses Lake was not an "old town" by any means.  It was incorporated in the late 1940's and didn't have anything of an historical nature.  But, as far the the workings of a town, it was the same as Ellensburg.  Today it has a population of over 20,000; it's grown immensely from the 22 years that I lived there.  My children were born and raised in Moses Lake until we moved in 1997 to the west side of the state near a "big city". 

My children tell me they are happy that they were able to experience life in a small town with a slower pace.  Although now, they do like the big city and all that it has to offer.  As I've gotten a bit older (notice I said "a bit older" haha), I appreciate the medical services that are just around the corner if I or my husband need them.  These specialized medical services are not available in a small town.  You have to travel to the bigger city and sometimes that can be quite agonizing (especially in the winter months).

I'm so grateful for all that life has given me.  And, I love being here in California next to my family.  At the same time, it's nice to reflect back on childhood memories and remember where I came from.  I always tell my children to never forgot who they are and where they came from.  It's never pleasant to meet someone who has become successful but forgotten their roots.  I'll always be a small town girl and proud of it, too!

Oh, I almost forgot, the photos from my flower garden as shown above are (1) delphinium, which I found on clearance for $3.00, (2)  foxglove, which I also found on clearance for $3.00, (3) digiplexis, which is a hybrid; a cross between  foxglove and isoplexis, (4) purple aeonium arboreum and, (5) a sweet purple violet.  My soil is so poor but at least they are growing.

Thanks for visiting and I'd leave to hear from you if you have the time.

Wish my best wishes,

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Waves of Life

Hello friends.  It was a glorious day today so we (my husband and I), headed off to have lunch at the beach.  It got me to thinking about life and what I call the waves of life.
I have a wonderful family and life.  I know I'm blessed but sometimes I see those turbulent waves pop up now and then.   It seems what sets me off these days is that many people (not my family) have forgotten what it means to be caring or nice.  It brings to mind the saying: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  It doesn't cost money or take much to be polite and caring.

  I don't like change; if something works why change it.  It will almost be six years since I moved to California.  Sometimes I think if I was younger and had children then the move would have been easier.  I've struggled to find a church and I'm almost to the point of becoming indifferent.  But, on the bright side, I'm here next to my grandchildren; I see them numerous times each week and it's beyond joy to see them growing up.  This is what makes life special. 

I've always enjoyed meeting and visiting with older people.  You can learn so much from them.  But it seems like today's society only wants what is new and modern; friends included.  I may be 62 and look 62 but in my mind (yes, my mind), I don't feel a certain age.  But people can judge by looking. Two friendships that I cherished most were knowing two elderly friends; my dear friend Zaizaf and dear Mrs. G.  Both of these women were immigrants to this country and they were filled with knowledge.  They are gone now but I feel blessed to have known them.   It's like looking at a cover of a book.  It may not look "new" but oh, what a wonderful story is waiting for you. 

Not everyone can project laughter, joy, spontaneous behavior but although they may seem quiet, they can be filled with so much joy and giving to share with others.  My son who was home for an extended visit left yesterday to return to his work in Europe.  I woke up this morning and my goodness the house was so empty.  My husband agreed with me.  It's still sometimes difficult to be an empty nester.

I love my life to be calm and quiet.  Today my best friend for over 40 years called me.  She has been dealing with some health issues in her family and I felt so bad I wasn't there to be with her.  But, during our phone call today she brought joy to my heart.  You know why?  Because she too had been experiencing some of the same things as me and we understood each other's feelings.  Her son had been home visiting with her and left this week.  She felt sad.   We spoke about how it's always hard to see them leave but of course they will return.  Then we spoke about church.  She has been going to her church for over 40 years.  And now, just like me, she's struggling because of the changes that have occurred at her place of worship.  I know this story well.

It may seem like I'm rambling on but accepting change is not an easy thing for me to do.  On the other hand, I have no right or reason to complain.  Life has been good to me and is good to me.  My husband is always here to listen to me and my dear daughter does a wonderful job to keep both my husband and I entertained.  So, I will carry on and continue to enjoy each and every day and all that life has in store for me.  And maybe, gradually, I will be able to accept change more easily.

When I started this blog a few years ago, I never realized what joy and happiness it would bring to me.  I learn so much for you my dear readers.  And, if you really think about it, I shouldn't say I'm an empty nester because my husband and I do have Lilly, my big, Maine Coon kitty that keeps us company :)

I hope to return next week with maybe a knitting project.  There's a couple of WIPs on my needles and so far, it's coming along splendidly.  Until then...

My best wishes to you,

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Five Shawls for Five on Friday

Greetings my friends.  It's been a quiet week here at Lilly My Cat.  I was so looking forward to rain this past week but nothing appeared.  Obviously, the weather person had the forecast incorrect for my area.  I love rain and I miss it so much.  Clouds are my friends as I try to keep out of the sun...

I had mentioned that I would try and share with you some crafty news this week.  I just finished another shawl so here goes...

This is the Cicely shawl that was featured in Taproot magazine.  It's knitted out of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece.  I enjoyed knitting this pattern although the yarn is not my favorite.  I knitted the lace border first and then picked up stitches for the body of the shawl.

I finished this shawl awhile ago.  I love this yarn - Berroco Ultra Alpaca.  It's super soft and a joy to knit.  I'm sending this shawl off to my dear friend as a "prayer shawl".  I've never done that before and found a lovely prayer shawl poem to send with it.

Next up is the Wild Poppies Shawl.  I didn't want to step on anyone's toes with using their photo so here's the link to the shawl pattern.  I've ordered some glorious gradient yarn from Austria to make this pattern.  And, of course I'm going to add some beads for embellishment!  I'm so looking forward to starting this project.

Here's the shawl I just finished this week.  It's really not my type of style as it is asymetrical and colored blocked.  It's knitted from organic 100 cotton yarn.  It was the yarn I received from the Little Woollie Yarn Club.  Wow, this yarn was made in South Africa, was sent to Australia and traveled back to me in California!

Last is a shawl/scarf that I just started knitting (I was bored and didn't want to start on a long project).  The pattern is an update from an old Weldon's Needlwork pattern.  It is featured in the March/April 2016 issue of Piecework.  I'm using the Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece that I used in the Cicely shawl above.

Oops, this is not a "Shawl" but it's a beautiful photo I captured this week from the balcony of my home.  We've had some amazing clouds but as mentioned above,  no rain :(

Thank you everyone for visiting Lilly My Cat.  Information for all of the above shawls can be found on my Ravelry page.

If you have the time, I'd love to hear what you have been up to lately.  I will try and visit everyone's blog, too!

Wishing you the best,

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Queen Mary & Wine Tasting in Ensenada Mexico

Greetings dear friends.  I was away this past weekend on a little mini trip with my family.  I apologize for not visiting your blogs as I did not have internet...

My daughter booked a three day cruise for us from Long Beach.  We've done this itinerary before but it's always a fun get away, especially with the family.  We started the night before, checking into the Queen Mary Hotel in Long Beach. (You can check out my previous blog about the Queen Mary here.)

The Queen Mary is 80 years old this year.  She sailed the seas for 31 years and she's been docked in Long Beach for almost fifty years.

Here's a photo of the promenade deck.  Just imagine how it would have looked with all the passengers 80 years ago...

We enjoyed happy hour in the iconic art deco bar and caught a glimpse of the sunset.

I've shared many photos before of the cabins but I just had to show you this picture of the drawer which becomes a desk.  Isn't is amazing!  Imagine sitting there and penning a letter to your dear one across the water.  Oh, how I wish I could go back in time!

The ship still retains a lot of it's original fixtures and proudly wears its art deco decor.

Sadly, I don't think we will be staying there again.  The prices range from $99 to $500 (according to the hotel clerk).  But, we paid just shy of $200.00 for one night, with no parking and no amenities whatsoever in our room.  There is no central heating/air conditioning; our daughter's family froze in their room and the hotel's engineer had to turn on the boiler in order for it to warm up.  It amazes me how they can run this as a business when so much is lacking.  I would love to see someone take this project on as a "restoration" so as not to lose anything that makes this ship so special.  But, I'm sure it would be cost prohibitive.

The next morning we walked across the parking lot and boarded our cruise ship for a three night cruise to Ensenada, Mexico.  The photo above is of Ensenada from the pier.

The weather was perfect when we arrived in Ensenada. 

Ensenada sits at the northern part of the Baja California peninsula.  It is semi arid so there's no lush tropical greenery as you would find further south.  But, it's still a lovely area.

I went on a wine tour with my daughter and son-in-law.  My dear husband stayed onboard the ship.
It was about a 45 minute drive to the vineyards.

Our first stop was at L.A. Cetto winery.  Mr. Cetto came from Italy and started this winery back in 1928.  They make wonderful reds and white wines along with their special extra virgin olive oils.

On the grounds of the winery there is this little chapel area with a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  A blessing of the harvest takes place here each season.

And, here's a little tiny snapshot of one of the vineyards.  The area is so beautiful with the rolling hills and green vineyards reaching out along the land.

Of course, we had to view the barrel room.  For the white wine, they use oak barrels from France to give that unique oaky aroma.

And, the tour concluded with wine tasting in the tasting room.

From there we traveled down the road a bit to another winery which is known for being strictly an organic operation.

The buildings were a bit primitive but the scenery made up for it.

We tasted some lovely wines and enjoyed sitting on the patio area.  It was then time to board the bus back to the ship.

If you're familiar with my blog, you know that I'm from central Washington state.  The part of the state that is big on agriculture.  We also have lots of vineyards and the scenery here reminded me so much of the area of the Tri Cities (Kennewick, Pasco and Richland).  

Although it was not my first time to Ensenada, I enjoyed learning some new things about this city:

1.  Ensenada is the third largest port in Mexico
2.  The drink called "Margarita" originated in Ensenada
3.  Ensenada is home to Mexico's wine country
4.  Ensenada has a population of approximately 700,000 people
5.  Ensenada is approximately a three hour drive from the border of California

The cruise was enjoyable for our family as there is always something for each of us to do to keep us busy.  And, the ship itself and our cabin was well cared for.  But, something did bother me a bit.  We dined in the formal dining room each evening on the ship.  They have a short program where the waiters sing and dance called "showtime".  I'm sorry to say, but this time I felt it was very humiliating for the wait staff.  The sound system was horrible and the way the dining room was set up on board this ship made it extremely awkward to "sing and dance".  The staff on board the ship are people like you and me.  They work extremely hard with no days off, sign extended contracts and have to be away from their families for months at a time.  I admire these people who are so hard working.  And, I don't like to see them treated unfairly. 

Thank you again for all your lovely comments and for reading my blog.  Life has quieted down here a little bit now and all is well.  I'll be back again hopefully sharing some crafty (knitting) news if I can complete the project I'm working on.  Until then, be safe and have fun whatever you are doing!

With my best wishes to you,

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