Monday, July 30, 2012


It is amazing to me that in troubled times that we can receive our greatest blessings.  I think about this a lot when I am thinking about all of the blessings that I have received since I have been sick.  I think about how people have reached out in kindness to me and how my friendships have deepened.  My friends call several times a week and we always tell each other that we love each other. I think of how grateful I am to each of you who have sent kind messages, words of encouragement and prayers.  It is a beautiful thing to be surrounded in love.  I also think of how much I appreciate my family and my little dog.  She is so sweet and just makes me laugh.

I also appreciate my journey of faith.  I love reading my Bible and love all of the reminders of God's love for us.  We are children of the King and are loved very much.  He may not always give us what we want but I have found that he has always provided what I need.  I think of things that I thought I wanted in the past and I am grateful that he had a better plan for me and did not give me what I thought I wanted.  I am glad that His will was done and not mine.  

I also think about the lessons that I learn from my smart little Liesl.  She lives totally in the moment and is so full of joy.  She eats when she is hungry and sleeps when she is tired.  She does not worry about a whole lot.  I caught her teaching me something else the other day.  I had to run over to the pharmacy and another errand and took her in the car with me.  She did not care where we were going.  She was happy with the journey.  She had her head out the window, smelling the air, the breeze blowing her beard around.  When we got back home, she smelled all of the flowers in the yard, sat in the sunshine and just smiled after eating a cookie. She has so much to be happy about in each moment.  

I think that I have much to be happy about, too.  My relationships, the beauty of the Monterey Peninsula, my  Liesl, books, art, my hobbies, classical music, good food, good neighbors, chocolate, faith, and the list goes on and on.  We all have so much to be grateful for.  

May your blessings continue to be abundant.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Quiet Sunday

Well, it was Day 2 of cold and dreariness outside.  Therefore, it was Day 2 of being totally cozy inside.  I feel terrible because I missed church this morning.  One of my neighbors was having a party outside in the gosh darn cold last night.  (I really like all of my neighbors.)  They never have parties and I do not think at all that they were trying to be loud, they were just laughing and stuff, but it kept me awake pretty late.  I was dragging this morning and decided that I would just observe the day with my own readings and prayers today.  

It was nice to have a cozy day again.  Liesl slept all day on the sofa next to me while I stitched.  I got quite a bit done on my needlepoint piece.  I had picked up the Hardanger to try again but I am a bit confused about something so I think I will need to look for an actual action tutorial on YouTube.  In the meantime, it is kind of fun to work on needlepoint.  The kit has nice, high quality wool and cotton yarn which is pretty nice to work with.  

I love evenings like this that are so quiet and still.  It is pretty chilly and I am under my blankets with a stack of books beside me.  Starting a new book is like starting a new adventure, so I have to make a decision which adventure I would like to have.  The last book that I read was the Night Circus, which was fantastic.  I am not sure which I love more, books or stitching.  They both compete for my time and attention.  My best friend passes books on to me that she is done with and I am also a big time user of the library.  I am still always delighted that I can walk out of the library with $150 worth of bestsellers with just the promise that I will bring them back.  I think that is magical.  I also think that the library is fundamental in maintaining and uplifting literacy in communities.  I think they are absolutely vital.  

So I think I will go get a cup of warm milk, place one more goodnight kiss on the top of Liesl's sweet little head, and read until my eyes get heavy.  I think that it is a perfect ending to this cozy day.  

May your week be filled with many blessings.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Cozy Weekend So Far...

It has been a lovely weekend so far.  My best friend's hubby was out of town the past couple of days, so last night she invited me over to dinner and to watch the Olympic Opening Ceremonies.  She told me to bring my stitching and my Liesl (who is pals with her Springer Spaniel.)  We had such a nice dinner.  She had prepared "build your own taco salad" fixin's.  So we fixed our big salads, which were absolutely delicious and chatted all through dinner.  I was so stuffed.  

We washed up the dishes, then took the dogs out to run the yard for a few minutes,then headed to the TV room.  We each had a warm comfy dog on our lap (one of Liesl's rare occasions that she allows this) and watched the ceremonies.  I thought they were sweet.  I have a particularly goofy sense of humor and love Mr. Bean, so I especially loved the part with him.  My BFF was not familiar with him but said that she loved his dramatic facial expressions.  It is really amazing to see representatives from all of the countries all over the world gathered in one place and the spirit of joy and excitement.  I was really proud of the USA's athletes and I was so happy that they received such a warm reception.  I was absolutely shocked to see the time on the clock when the torch was lit.  Yikes!  It was 11:56!  I am usually in bed really early, like when it is still light out.  I could not believe I had stayed out that late.  I felt a little panicky at the thought of driving at that hour.  I was happy to get home and into my jammies.  

After sleeping in, I awoke to a very cold, gloomy, windy day here on the Monterey Peninsula.  Brrrr.  This is one of the weekends when most Peninsula residents stay home and hunker down for the weekend anyway.  We have the Moto GP here at Laguna Seca and there are thousands of motor cycles in town.  On top of that we have the Pacific Grove Feast of Lanterns and the Gilroy Garlic Festival forty minutes away.  Traffic is crazy so most of us stay home to stay out of the mayhem.  The weather and the fact that Liesie and I were so sleepy made this a perfect pajama day.  Liesl slept the entire day away.  I quickly put together a banana bread, got my stitching and found a marathon of Hillbilly Handfishin'.  I was so stoked.  I love this show.  It is more about people overcoming their fears and them coming out of their comfort zones.  It is also fun to watch and believe me, you will never find me putting my hand in a catfish's mouth to lure them out of the water.  No sirree, not gonna happen.  I am in awe of the people that do.

I did get to stitch today.  I was going through my box of kits the other day and found this Elsa William's needlepoint kit.  I think I bought it sometime between 10 and 15 years ago.  Yesterday was the day that I decided to open it.  I needed something to take to stitch at my friend's.  I like the fact that I do not have to concentrate as hard with needlepoint as I do with cross stitch.  I am working the basket weave stitch and I love the way the back looks.  I very rarely do needlepoint but I am having a good time with this.  If I ever finish it I plan on making it into a pillow.  

Off to catch up on my sleep...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Close Call At The Cozy Cottage

Oy vey!  We nearly had a disaster in the wee hours of the morning here.  Liesl very seldom gets up in the middle of the night, but last night was insistent that she had to go out at about 2:45 a.m.  She normally waits until about 5:30 a.m.  Usually I can corral her back to her bed on the rare night that she wakes up at an odd time.  Last night she was insistent, so I walked her to the back door.  Here is where I am absolutely grateful for Liesl being a pretty well behaved dog.  

When I take her out when it is dark, she always waits behind me at the door until I tell her it is okay to go out.  This started because my neighbor told me that there is a large raccoon that walks on the fence between our backyards.  Raccoon will do horrible things to a dog so I have a healthy respect for them.  I always scan the yard to make sure that all is clear.  Liesl always waits until I say, "Okay, no raccoons!"  Then she will trot out to the yard.  

Last night, we went through our routine at the door.  When I went to scan the yard, however, I did not see a raccoon, I saw a huge SKUNK!  Thank goodness Liesl did not run out before I gave her the okay.  I quickly slammed the door.  Liesl looked at me really confused, but was lured away from the back door and into the kitchen by the siren song of duck jerky.  Thinking that she really had to go, I watched from a window for the all clear but the skunk just seemed to hang around.  Liesl finally gave up and went back to sleep.  All I could think is that we were really lucky.  

Little Miss Liesl did learn a lesson about messin' with the black and white kitty several years ago when she was a puppy.  It was a terrible experience and I was amazed at how long that smell hangs around.  Yuck.  Unfortunately, she has probably forgotten that lesson and we could have had a really rotten night.  Whew!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hardanger Revisited

Hmmm.  Apparently my Hardanger skills are very very rusty.  I have stared at my patterns and supplies for the past couple of evenings, without getting started.  Hardanger patterns are intimidating to me and I had even forgotten where to start.  Luckily, Nordic Needle comes to the rescue with their tutorials.  They have a great resource web page that helps with a variety of stitches and has a whole section devoted to Hardanger 101-301.  You can access this nifty resource here: 

Now I have to work up the courage to just get started.  In many ways I have found that Hardanger actually goes a lot faster than cross stitch and it is oh, so elegant.  I love to look at photographs of it.

It has been so nice going to bed really early.  I was faced with the choice of watching Hillbilly Handfishin' tonight though.  It has not been on for a while.  That show has a way of just holding my attention and I just can not figure out why.  Luckily, my book was calling to me and a certain little dog was ready to be tucked in.   I made the decision to skip TV and rest instead.  I love this time of evening when everything is quiet.  Liesl's bed is right next to mine and I love to look over at her peacefully sleeping.   

Liesl has given me something to ponder lately.  I have to wonder why if I put a bowl of kibble out for her to eat, she will ignore it all day.  However, if I put her kibble in her puzzle/treat ball, it is the best stuff ever and she will eat every last bite.  Lately, I have been just been putting her breakfast in the treat ball because I know it will be devoured.  She is a character...

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Day Of Sorrow

Prayers are being lifted up for the people of Aurora, CO.  The days news is so senseless that so many of us can not wrap our brains around what happened.  We pray for comfort and healing in the days ahead.  The people of Colorado have had to deal with so much.  I know we are all holding the victims of this tragedy and their families in our thoughts and prayers at this time.  

All of this is such a reminder of how fragile life is.  Life can change literally in the blink of an eye. Tonight I am grateful for the safety of my family and friends.  We get to treasure another day.  Tonight I took extra care tucking gently tucking in my little puppy girl in gratitude.  She was making me smile earlier, being her goofy self, playing with her toys, coming over and giving me a big schnauzer smile, and bumping into my legs as she went under them while I had them on the ottoman.  (For some reason, she thinks this is hilarious.)  The ordinary experiences of my day seem even more so like treasures today.

I have a small share.  I recently found a small diversion from all of the bad news of the world.   It makes my heart smile.  Here is a link:!/live-cams/player/service-puppy-cam  This is a puppy cam for a set of golden retriever puppies by Warrior Canine Connection, an organization which assists combat veterans.  Here is a bit about them from their web page: "Veterans work with the dogs through Warrior Canine Connection, an organization that helps service members with both physical and psychological injuries. The trainers who socialize the dogs are combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and the people who receive the trained service dogs are veterans with mobility-limiting injuries."

The puppies are pretty awesomely adorable and do not really have full use of their legs yet so they are kind of roly poly.  I find myself smiling when I look at it for just a little while.  I also appreciate that it is for such a worthy cause.

So now the day has come to a close.  I am counting my blessings.  I have looked at sleeping puppies and my own furbaby is all tucked in.  I am grateful for this day, and pray for those who have had hardships in it.  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ahh, The Simple Life

Tonight I decided to go over to my church for the last night of VBS for a rare evening out (Vacation Bible School.)  VBS has changed a lot since I was a kid when it was actually directed to children for a week while we were out of school for the summer.  There were crafts and activities then.  Now VBS is inter-generational with people from ages 1 to 100.  We start out by sharing dinner together.  It is my belief that church food is just about the best food that you can eat.  It is prepared so lovingly and then blessed.  There is nothing else like it. 

After we eat, we sing some songs together with our praise band, Psalm 150.  Then comes my favorite part, Bible study.  I love Bible study during VBS because I learn so much from my fellow church family.  There is such amazing input and sharing which makes me love them more.  Afterwards, we gather together on the church patio, where we make s'mores around a fire pit.  I basically get to eat s'mores once a year and it is at VBS.  I think that s'mores are a social food, that are better when you have them with people.  As much as I love them, they are not the same if I make them over my stove top. 

I was home and in my jammies by 8pm.  I had every intention of stitching but, alas, it was not to be.  I was more tired than I thought from my outing and a certain someone wanted my attention and her head rubbed.  She has a habit now of sitting on my feet with her back to me, with a look that says, "My head isn't going to rub itself."  LOL.  I have pulled out some hardanger patterns.  My best friend's birthday is coming up, and she loves hardanger.  She has been to Norway twice, but she says that it is so expensive so she does not have anything.  So I am going to make a couple of small things to include in her gift. 

Ever since I got home this evening, I have been thinking about how much I dearly love the simplicity of my life.  I love the quiet of it, and all of the love in it.  There is nothing on television, so I am usually in bed with a book by 8 pm.  I have been eating really simple food. I read my Bible.  I pray.  I have friends who call me daily and who worry if I do not call them back right away. Sometimes when I can not sleep, I like to just go sit in one of my chairs in the backyard and listen to the quiet of the evening.  It smells so fresh and I love the smell of the jasmine from my neighbor's yard.  Liesl has been getting up around 3 am to come sleep with me lately.  While she does not snuggle, she has just been sleeping near me.  It is comforting to fall back to sleep with my hand on her back, feeling her soft breathing.  I am not sure if she does this so she can comfort me, or so that she can be comforted.   All of these things contribute to a life of contentment and peace.

I wish you contentment and peace, too.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Life

Brrr.  It has been really chilly here.  It was 55F degrees this morning as I drove to church.  I made a nice big pot of lentil soup yesterday because I was so cold.  I only got half of a big bowl though because a certain furry person decided that lentil soup with potatoes is her favorite food in the world.  I was sitting on the sofa under a blanket with my woolie socks on and a small dog getting her beard a little too close to my soup bowl.  So I got her little bowl and scooped some into it. You know, there are some people who actually think she is spoiled?  I know, right?!

I was so happy because my best friend called me to let me know she was back from her vacation.  She has been gone 2 1/2 weeks and I really missed her.  I missed being able to pick up the phone and just being able to talk about stuff we both find amusing, profound, frustrating, etc.  We usually talk 2-3 times a week on the phone and historically have gotten together once a week.  It is amazing how much of a void it leaves when your BFF is not around.   She is a puppy momma, too and she loved Liesl's funny story.  (Liesl loves her and really thinks that my BFF is her visitor when she comes over.)

After I got to catch up with my friend, I decided to visit with some other old friends.  I have not looked at my patterns in years.  So I pulled out my filing box of patterns.  There were so many that I had forgotten about.  Some of them brought back good memories.  I have not bought patterns in a really long time, with the belief that I have got to stitch what I have.  So it was so nice to go through them one by one.   My favorites are my Permins.  I just love the variety of their patterns.  Some of them got pulled out as the next future projects.  I got some new inspiration and look forward to a time soon when I will pick up my needle again.  I am going through a period of reading right now.  (I recently read The Life of Pi, only one of the best books ever!)

So now I am off to burrow under the blankets and go to sleep.  I have extra blankets on the bed because it has been so cold.  Liesl, who normally wants to sleep in her own bed, has been inviting herself to cuddle her back up to my hip so she can keep warm.  I woke up the other morning with puppy toes in my armpit.  Such is the life of a schnauzer momma...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Funny Liesl Story

If you have ever known or loved a schnauzer, you know that these are just about the smartest dogs you can meet and they are known for their sense of humor.  They have an incredible sense of mischief and will create their own fun.  Schnauzer parents fight a losing battle on a daily basis trying to stay one step ahead of their furry Einsteins.

Liesl is funny.  Very funny.  Many times when she knows she is being funny she will grin at me like, "Get it?"  Or she will look at me very stoically, which only makes me giggle harder at her antics.

It has been very cold here, particularly at night, lately.  I have been going to sleep in my pajamas, a cardigan and woolie socks.  As a result, I have accumulated a pile of woolie socks on the floor by the bed.  Tonight I was kneeling down to pick up the socks, when I heard Liesl trotting down the hallway to find where I was.  Now Liesl loves Hide N Seek, and I have not been feeling up to playing it lately.  I decided to stay crouched down beside the dresser, out of sight.  Now I know perfectly well that she knows exactly where I am because she stops and waits on the other side of the dresser.  I waited for about 20-30 seconds and then peeked out and said, "Peek a boo!"  She loves this and will run away down the hall like a toddler.  Afterwards, just like a toddler she will slowly tiptoe down the hallway in hopes that I will do it again.  I stayed put behind my dresser, then peeked out and said, "Peek a boo!"  Again, she went running down the hall.

Less than a minute later, I was still matching up my socks on the bed.  Liesl rang her bell on the kitchen door to the outside to let me know she needed to go out to go potty.  (Yes, this is a neat trick, and she has done it since she was a little puppy.)  So I slowly got up and walked out to the kitchen.  She was not by the door waiting like usual.  In fact, she was no where to be seen.  That was when I saw her crouched down behind the table and chairs trying to hide.  When I told her I saw her she gave me her big schnauzer grin and came trotting out all proud of herself.  What a character.

This breed is something special.  They act so human that there are times that I swear Liesl did not get the memo that she is a dog.  She is so special and I say a prayer of thanks every single night that God blessed me with her in my life.  I read somewhere once that dogs are God's special angels on earth because they are the embodiment of God's unconditional love.  I think this is a beautiful thought and it makes me happy.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July

Well, apparently where I live fireworks are legal.  I can say this because for the past two hours straight there has been banging, popping, and rat-a-tatting going non stop. It has been so loud and there has not been a lapse in the action at all.  While this has given me a bit of a banging headache, it had scared the heck out of a certain small dog for a while.  I have been going to bed pretty early, so I took my book and headed for the bedroom at the back of the house around 8pm.  I figured it might be a bit quieter for Liesl there, even though fireworks were going off all around the house.  Liesl decided that the best place to be was going to be under the covers right up against her momma, even though it is 75 degrees in the house.  I have shared in the past that snuggling is not really Liesl's thing, so I was happy for the blessing of the cuddles.  It was short lived, as Liesl got used to the noise kind of quickly and decided to go lay on the cool hardwood floor instead.  I treasure the few minutes that I had though.

I have thought a lot about blessings lately.  I have been blessed with really good medical care lately and the support of my friends and family.  I feel blessed when I get to feel the sunshine on me.  I feel blessed when Liesl gives me a kiss for no reason or when she makes me giggle with her silliness.  I feel blessed by my neighbor who has been checking on me.  There have been many blessings the past few weeks.  Mostly, I am grateful for God's comforting presence through out this experience.

At church it is figured that the Bible is read all the way through every three years, although it is done through readings and not done sequentially.  In the past, I also tended to open my Bible in hopes that I will be led to a passage of scripture that will be helpful at a particular time.  A few weeks ago, I decided that it was time to read it from beginning to end.  Every morning I sit with my cup of tea, and read the Word.   It has been a profound experience so far.  I absolutely loved Genesis and I am almost done with the book of Exodus.  I am filled with such peace as I read it this way, and I am so grateful for the role that faith has played in my life.  We are God's children and he has loved us every day since the beginning of time.  

So things are becoming more peaceful.  The banging is a little more sporadic, and is now being replaced with the sound of soft puppy snores and the clacking of computer keys.  My room is cozy and my eyes are getting droopy.  While the sounds of parties continue outside, inside the cozy cottage we are ready to say our prayers and dream happy dreams.  Hope you have happy dreams, too.