Sunday, August 31, 2008

My new interest

I live in San Diego, which for all intents and purposes is a big city.
I consider myself a city girl.
I prefer driving on freeways versus side streets, and I'll take a day at the beach over a stroll in the country.

I rarely rough it.
I'll sometimes hike, but I'm more cocktails than campfires.

That being said, I think my friends would double over laughing were they to see my new magazine subscription.

Granted, there are rural parts of San Diego, and where my mom lives is right on the cusp of that rural zone.
She also has enough land to justify this new venture.
I just want a handful of hens for eggs. No roosters.
I'm super excited about it!
Go figure.

Funny how one's interests change with age.

I am still in the research phase.
I need to have a coop built.
I want a cute little house-type coop, sturdy enough to keep out the coyotes.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Smash away Stress

Ah...only in California.

A new business opened up earlier this month, and I laughed out loud when I heard it on a radio news story today.
In fact, I think I need to round up some friends and have a girls night out...

It's called Sarah's Smash Shack.
Go there, don some boots and overalls and protective headgear, and just start throwing breakables.

You know you want to.

Buy some glasses or plates and throw those suckers right at the wall.
You gotta love her ingenuity.
Reviews here.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Some of the best joys in the life are the simple ones:
a hot shower after a day at the beach, yummy coffee and good conversation, laughing so hard no sound comes out.

And getting snail mail.
Especially when that mail is a surprise, and a 'thinking of you'.

Today I opened up my mailbox to find this adorable book from Cindy.
It's filled with photos of cute doggies and inspirational sayings--it's awesome.
What a treat!
Thank you so so much!

I also spent time today with this handsome boy
We frolicked at Dog Beach this afternoon.

Then I came home to find a mound of dirt where yesterday I had zinnia seedlings coming up.

Uh oh, Mr. Gopher discovered my garden.

I installed a mole chaser.
It's a tube that you bury into the ground.
It holds four D-cell batteries and chirps every 30 seconds or so.
I have no idea if it will work, but the sound is audible even to me, and it's annoying, so I figure gophers have their paws over their little ears in their new home underneath my plants.
I intend to make that home uninviting.
I hope so anyway.

Move right along little buggers.
I don't want to kill them (I just can't), but I would like to have them find weeds on the hillside or something to eat.
Last week they demolished two of my mom's green peppers, a Dalia, mums, and Babianas.
The roots/bulbs were just gone...nothing.
Little shits.

I full-on believe in co-existing, but it's still irritating.
Mr. Snail and Mr. Grasshopper give me enough headaches.
(the daughter of one of my clients, with a ladybug)

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Camel--the official cigarette of the Olympics

I gotta tell you, I am so tired of all the 'nanny police' trying to tell me what to do.
I am not supposed to eat transfats (even though french fries used to taste a heck of a lot better, and I'm perfectly capable of deciding for myself what to eat, thank you very much),
I have to wear a seat belt, I can't talk on my cell phone when I drive anymore, in some places I'm not allowed to burn wood in my fireplace.
These nannies want to tax my snack foods, my soda pop, my SUV, and regulate the temperature on my thermostat.
They want to discourage fast food restaurants from opening.
They're mad at Michael Phelps, saying he's a poor role model because he enjoys junk food.

Oh please.
Enough already.

By contrast, you have to laugh at this ad from a June 1940 issue of Collier Magazine
Camel--the official cigarette of the Olympics

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Video Sunday

Jamiaca's Usain Bolt's gold medal celebration dance has made the rest of the world take note of Elephant Man's "Nuh Linga" dance craze.
See Usain dance here.

This looks like fun to me (I love organized dance steps. Ah, back in the day...with the Electric Slide, Oak Tree, Rubberband, The Hustle...)

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Peonies in Heaven

You have to have a MySpace page to read this post by Storm, but it's a touching tribute to life and death, and is beautifully written.

Actually, screw it, I'll just cut and paste, and you can go to the link if you want to check out the tons of comments.


Anne , who is very much a Mom to me , is in a strange limbo .

She is a retired chemistry teacher , science nut , eco warrior , wife , mother , and the best grammy ever to don an apron . Besides being a round hug-o-matic in cashmere , besides being a patient and wise listener slash problem solver slash boo boo healer , and besides having the most god given touch when baking the heck out of any delectable doo dad you could ever possibly crave ... she is also a walking library of immeasurable knowledge . With laser point accuracy , she can answer any crazy question that comes giggling out of her grandchildren . Any bug , rock , mushroom , castle , leaf , mineral , element , paw print and , most especially , any flower , can be not only named , but explained in scientific and fun anecdotal yarns .

She has a mind tightly and neatly packed with endless facts and time tested tangibles .

Anne is a Mom , first and foremost , so when pancreatic cancer started to get the best of her , her main concern was for her family . "I need to know you all have someone to love you , and you all take care of each other . It's important ." We have all assured her repeatedly that we're fine , vowing to be there for each other . She did a bang up job with us all , taught us how to love , how to listen .... and though we may never nail her gingerbread recipe .... we will for sure keep trying .

She started slipping recently , and when she could talk , she told us she was scared . "What if everything we believe that's ... next ... isn't true ?"
I don't know any human with a thought in their head who isn't at least a little afraid of dying and leaving this well known life behind . Whatever your faith or belief in what lies ahead for us all ... you'd be hard pressed to convince me otherwise .

We've been doing our best to comfort her and assure her that all is well and when she is ready to let go , all will still be well . But how do you explain the biology of Heaven to a scientist ?

Then she saw the flowers .

Her room is filled with flowers . Some from friends , students ... and some picked from her crazy garden in the back of the house . I was rubbing her back one evening , she was on her side facing the wall . "Flowers" .

"What flowers , Ma ?"
"Big, pink flowers ."
I looked around the room and saw a new bouquet on the window sill . A bunch of pink peonies in a pale green vase .
"You want to see your new flowers ? I'll get them ." I fetched the vase and held it up near her face . "These ?"
"Which ones ?"
"I'm looking at them . Beautiful , pink flowers ."
She was not looking at the peonies .
Her eyes were closed .
"...Oh .... what kind of flowers Ma ?"
"Don't know ... never seen em' before . Beautiful ."
I called her son in law , Bill , into the room . Bill , being the most faithful church goer out of all of us , had been the biggest comfort to Anne with his faith and confidence in God . I told him what she was seeing. He took her hand. " Anne , is it a beautiful garden ?"
"Do you want to walk through the garden?"
"What are you afraid of ?"
"Don't know. "
"Someone will have to name those flowers , what would you call them ?"
"Perfect Love."

She's been hanging on with all ten fingers and toes even with her body failing , unimaginable pain and strong narcotics being pumped into her every other hour.
Sleeping mostly , barely able to speak , it is a heartbreaking fight . We all simultaneously want her to let go , be at peace ... then feel an awkward shame at wishing death to take her .

Her daughter , Daphne , is my oldest friend on the planet . This awful waiting and the near catatonic state her mother is in now hurts her in ways I can only imagine . The last time Anne could speak , she spoke to Daphne .

We were all around the bed , Daphne , me , Don , Anne's husband of 55 years , and her oldest daughter Molly . Anne had been trying to write something for 45 minutes on a yellow pad . She held the pencil perfectly and stared at her hand but couldn't get her body to cooperate . We quietly waited . She finally pushed the pad away with a frustrated sigh . Daphne asked , "Mom .... would you like me to write it for you ?"

"I have to ..... get a message ..." She was so weak , her voice was a strained and exhausted whisper .
"I'll write it for you ... who's the message for ?"
"My mother."
"OK ... what's the message ?" Daphne took the pad and pencil .
"Tell her ... to make the scones the way she used to ... "
"I would like them to be hot when I get there ."

Later that night Daphne and I stood by her grandmothers grave , relaying the message , word for word .

Anne never really spoke again . There were momentary flutters of recognition , her hand would hold yours or it would move on its own picking an invisible something out of thin air and holding it close to her face . But mostly she slept.

There have been countless magical and wonderful moments punctuating the overall horrible specter of death approaching . Death is as real as sound and light , as birth and laughter ... but , like these things , there is ethereal in the real . Magic in the machinery . We , the living , looked on her dying with a sick empathy . A painful urge to look away , to stay separate . Everything in us is hard wired to stay alive , and when someone close is clearly dying , we feel their sad struggle . We rage and despair at their losing the fight ... it's natural to want to hide from it . But in staying and touching , sadly but boldly looking on , we were blessed with tiny glimpses through the veil between the here and the who knows where . These slips of after that snuck through , though strange , were comforting . We knew she was headed somewhere beautiful , if not familiar . We knew she would see her loved ones who passed .. , and , very possibly , get to enjoy some buttery baked goods .

Anne Dando Leavitt finally passed away Monday night , August 18th at 11:38PM in her home surrounded by her family .

To honor her memory , the family has asked folks to please donate to Anne's favorite charities . One is for her 7 year grand daughter who suffers from a kidney disease called PKD , the other is a small farm in Southborough , Massachusetts that is home to these fluffy , Belted Galloways , (nicknamed Oreo cows) . In recent years , Anne made it her personal mission to keep the tiny cow farm in business .

For donations to her grand daughters PKD fund, click below :
Steppin for Stephie

For donations to the Oreo Cows, click the link below :
Breakneck Hill Cow Fund

" Please make sure to love and take care of each other . It's important ."
- Anne Leavitt


Friday, August 22, 2008


I feel like rambling tonight...

Pet peeve:
Green traffic signals are intended by use by cars.
Hello, pedestrian, look for the symbol of the little man in white lights, and listen for the bird chirp sound.
You know that flashing hand in red lights? Yeah, that's why cars are honking.

Another thought:
Trader Joes irritates me.
There is a column in the weekly Food section of the newspaper that gives recommendations for products, and recently it gave a thumbs up to TJ's sun-dried tomatoes.
So I went to the Pacific Beach location, saw they had more than one type, so took two jars up to the management desk to ask which one had been in the newspaper.

Uh, simple question, right?
Evidently not.

The two guys behind the desk were condescending and with attitude.
Guy: "We don't advertise, so it must have been someone else."
Me: Uh, yeah, it was in the Food section.
Guy:(blank stare).
Guy: (repeat of same first sentence)
Me: The newspaper recommended this product. If it were my store (which also doesn't advertise), we'd have the article pinned up in the breakroom. Doesn't that make sense?
Guy: (look of disdain) I don't read the newspaper. (shoulder shrug)

I took the items that were in my basket, put them back in their proper locations, and left.
A girl at another TJ location said "it is not our policy to advertise", meaning they would not put the article up by the product.
Pretty frickin' stupid is what I think.

I will never return to that PB location again.
I wrote a note of complaint to TJ's.
I did not receive a response.

The product, since the article came out, has been sold out.
Note to TJ's: customer service is a beautiful thing.
Note to Guy(s): the newspaper rocks. Maybe you need to learn how to read.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I just signed up for a lap swimming class at a local community college.
The only evening class doesn't start until October, but it's four hours per week.
I've taken the class before--it's a great workout, and if I have to be there for a grade...then I have to go.
No excuses, no procrastinating.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

San Diego History

I wrote previously about my grandmother being at Tent City for her honeymoon in 1904 (post here)
Coronado's history is fascinating to me.

I recently purchased this original flier, dated 1919, advertising new amenities at Tent City
Coronado Tent City flier, 1919

Here are some of the fees and information, such as "furs are only needed as an adornment".
(click on image to enlarge. The 'all sizes' icon over the flickr photo page will enable you to zoom further)
Tent City, fees and information, 1919

Vintage postcards of Tent City
This one postmarked 1906
Vintage Postcard, Tent City 1

Vintage Postcard, Tent City 2

Main Street
Coronado Tent City vintage postcard

A later postcard, this one from 1944
Coronado Tent City postcard, 1944

And this, the creme de la creme...
Two photographs of what I assume is a family (or perhaps two families) in adjoining bungalows (or tents, or cabanas, whichever you prefer).
The seller I purchased these from didn't realize what she had, so I was able to buy these for a song.
Her description is interesting: "The photos show 13 people dressed for the beach in c.1899. The men are wearing coats and ties. The women are wearing full length skirts or dresses. The boy is wearing a tie. His only concession to the beach is that he is barefoot!
They are standing in front of two different tents. One is tent number S27 the second is tent S29. The tents are made by the San Diego Tent and Awning Company. There must have been a regular tent city on the beach because the tent was on Wyoming Ave."

The expression on the boy's face is priceless (again, click on image to enlarge)
Vintage photo, Tent City

Vintage photo, Tent City

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

The South has pig candy, so why not?

Fun article as seen in the San Diego Union Tribune, August 11.

Bacon makes everything better – even chocolate?

By Michelle Locke
4:02 p.m. August 8, 2008

SANTA CRUZ – Here are three little words that might give the staunchest snacker pause: Chocolate-covered bacon.
It sounds so wrong. But it tastes just right, says Joseph Marini III, a fourth-generation candy maker who is selling the bacon bonbons at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk seaside amusement park.

“It's not just for breakfast any more,” he says with a grin.

And this isn't just a wacky West Coast thing.

This year, Famous Dave's at the Minnesota State Fair is rolling out Pig Lickers – dark chocolate-covered bacon pieces sprinkled with sea salt.

“It's just like the most bizarre combination,” says fair spokeswoman Brienna Schuette. “I actually really liked it. It was a good combination of sweet and salty.”

The urge to create new flavor profiles is a natural for a field driven by creativity, says Karen Page, co-author with Andrew Dornenburg of the forthcoming “The Flavor Bible,” a sort of field guide to flavor pairings.

Chefs have two basic agents of change: using a different cooking method or mixing up flavors. So a classic such as tomatoes and basil might get turned into tomato sorbet with a basil sauce. Or you might find unorthodox couplings, such as salads of watermelon and feta or cotton candy with foie gras.

“There's a whole trend toward chefs pushing the boundaries,” says Page. “Chefs are trying to be more playful and incorporate new kinds of whimsy.”

It's hard to tell exactly where the dream of candy-coated breakfast meats started, but for Marini, the inspiration was a trip with some ski buddies a while back.

“One guy came up with, 'Who doesn't love bacon? Who doesn't love chocolate? Let's marry them together.'”

So Marini gave it a shot and after some trial and error – crispness is key, he says, noting that chewy bacon plus chocolate is undelicious – he came up with a product.

“It was kind of a joke to begin with,” he says. “We brought it down to the boardwalk and put it in a case just to see if people would react, and they reacted.”

Take boardwalk visitor Nathan Lopez, who on a recent foggy morning had a quizzical look on his face as he began eating a sample at Marini's at the Beach. But he finished with a smile.

“Interesting combination,” was the verdict. “I didn't think it would be very good but once I tried it; it was good.”

Of course, chocolate-coated bacon is just the latest incarnation of the wackier-the-better fair food philosophy.

Fair food has been shaking up the snack scene for some time, says Ron Whiting, of Whiting's Foods, whose family has been selling food at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk for decades.

“Years ago, I think food tended to be more traditional and less fun,” he says. Then came the corn dog and the era of quick and on-a-stick. “We all talk about the next corn dog,” he says.

Fry, fry again is a persistent theme. Current popular snacks include deep-fried Twinkies and Oreos.

Page, who admits to eating “more than my fair share of fried dough,” notes that gourmet chefs have taken to putting food – just about any food – on a stick, coming up with some posh Popsicles. Meanwhile, there's the foie gras-cotton candy matchup, not a stretch flavor-wise since foie gras usually is paired with something sweet, but certainly visually arresting.

“It's the melding of both these worlds, the high end and the low end,” said Page.

Never underestimate the appeal of battered-is-better.

By the way, I learned about pig candy from Cat Cora on Iron Chef.
Here's one recipe.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Word Camp Game

This post is specifically for the crazies hanging out at Word Camp in San Francisco.


What's the only day named for a planet?

Yay, Jake wins!
The correct answer is Saturday.

Jake, go find DK and collect your prize!


Friday, August 15, 2008

Photo Friday

Nanny and Me
(click on image to enlarge)

Nanny and me, just outside the front door of her cute little house in Coronado.
I still have that Adirondack in the background, though it needs refinishing.

She was a wonderful gardener--I remember fuchsias, snapdragons, and bird of paradise.
Really wonderful memories.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Under the Sea

A little girl I know is having a birthday next month, and she loves all things Ariel (The Little Mermaid).
I was going to post this later, since her mom reads this blog and I like keeping surprises secret...
but I couldn't wait.

I have been a fan of Vallen's charm bracelets for quite awhile, and finally decided to order one.
This is the first time Vallen has ever attempted shrink plastic charms!
This is what she came up with
Mermaid bracelet
(click on image to enlarge)

I know this little girl, and she loves pink, and sparkles.
So I asked Vallen if she could add a bit more twinkle, and now the bracelet looks like this
Little Mermaid cuff bracelet

Isn't it cute?!
I just know she's going to love it!
Vallen's blog, Queenly Things, here.
Her Etsy shop.

Thanks Vallen!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another vintage embroidered towel

Vintage embroidered dishtowel with fruit motif
Here's the other embroidered floursack dishtowel that I mentioned in my previous post.
I can't even believe I scored this for 50 cents. Wow.

First of all, I love fruit motifs, especially pineapples.
I tend to gravitate to Hawaiian and Pacific Island designs.
I especially appreciate the asymmetry in this piece--how the outline in black makes the leaves of the pineapple pop.
I love how white space is left to simulate how light would hit the fruit, and thereby give the shapes definition.
Very artistic.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Lovely vintage linens

Friday ah is Sassy
Isn't this cute?!
It says, "Friday ah is Sassy."
(click on image to enlarge)

I found this at a thrift shop the other day for 50 cents.
It's hand embroidered on a big flour sack dishtowel.

It is well used, and hopefully it was well loved, so it has stains and holes...
but it's still charming.

I could cut the design off the old towel and make it an applique and thereby save it.
Or, I could just continue to use it.
I haven't decided yet.

The shop had miscellaneous linens, and there were two other towels there embroidered with a Dutch girl motif.
My friend debs is of Dutch heritage, so I briefly considered buying them for her, then decided against it because it's not really her style.
Then I came home and mentally popped myself in the head.
What was I thinking? They were two for a dollar! Helloooo....
I went back today, and they were gone. Aarrgghhh.
I mean, even as a gift wrap they would have been adorable.
I did, however, pick up another with a pineapple motif that I love, so the trip was still worthwhile.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Tiger in a Speedo


And what an inspiration Dara Torres is!
Competing at 41! That rocks.
photo from article in Best Life: What Matters to Men
(psst: it's important to women too)


Let The Games Begin

(photo from USA Today)

I write this with tear-stained cheeks.
Tears of elation and awe.
The Games of the 29th Olympiad of the Modern Era began tonight, with the theme of One World, One Dream.
The opening ceremonies in Beijing surpassed all expectations, in the spectacular artistry, the celebration, the pageantry.

The images involved the symbolism of cultural history and future hope.
The event started with the unrolling of a scroll indicating the past, and ended with ignited flames in a scroll-shaped cauldron.

There were flying muses, children singing, twinkling lights, amazing pyrotechnics that included footprint-shaped fireworks starting in the center of the city and 'walking' to "The Bird's Nest" stadium.
There was the sound of a waterfall, messages of harmony with man and nature, and the largest LED screen ever made--truly a technical extravaganza in a mingling of history with future dreams.

The precision of 2008 Tai Chi masters was beautiful, the synchronization of drums astounding.

The walk of Nations began with flags waving, and pride-filled smiles, but left an indelible mark on more than the hearts of everyone participating and watching--footprints finished a painting.
The athletes walked across huge stamp pads, leaving a rainbow trail across a traditional drawing of mountains and rivers that dancers had painted earlier in the ceremony, and that children had added color to.
More info here.

Bob Costas spoke of the collection of gathered athletes in their costumes as "the colorful quilt that is created"--a lovely analogy of varying cultures and political structures that come together in unity to form an inspirational force that speaks of dreams, struggles, teamwork, and possibilities.

This event symbolizes one of the most significant moments in history.

Ironically, I spent much of this afternoon reading Comfort me with Apples, a book written by the editor of Gourmet Magazine, Ruth Reichl.
In the book, she talks about a trip to China in the 1970's.
The 1970's is very recent history, yet Nixon had just opened up talks with our two countries, and Caucasians had not been allowed to visit in 30 years.
She spoke of her luggage being searched, of her outings choreographed, of her words censored.
China may be different today, but it's a reminder that we take our free will and our lifestyle too much for granted.

Even today, women were not allowed to march for Afghanistan (the one athlete they had has disappeared and is presumed in Norway seeking asylum from death threats).
Female athletes cannot be televised in Iran because they are not 'properly' clothed.
Granted, there have been huge strides (the United Arab Emirates and Oman are including female athletes for the first time), but I thank God for growing up in this country every single day.
Yes, the Olympics are about National pride.
At the same time, the Olympics open our eyes to cultural variations and traditions and shed light on ignorance.

They are the epitome of hope and change.

I have loved the magic of the Games for as long as I can remember.
I hope you embrace them as well--there are sure to be powerful moments in the next 16 days.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Hors d' oeuvre yumminess

I'm dog-sitting and am therefore away from my scanner, so I'm limited as to what I can post.
Ditto being away from my sewing machine.
So another recipe will have to do.
This is for a super yummy Cheese Dip for crackers.
I was at a party recently, and everyone loved this, so I asked for the recipe.

Mix together:
one 8-ounce package cream cheese (lite is okay, but in my opinion, uh, why bother?)

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

3/4 teaspoon curry powder

1/4 cup chopped green onion (combination of the white bulb with the green tops)

1/4 cup chopped raisins

Form the mixture into a ball and refrigerate.
At serving time pour your favorite purchased (bottled) mango chutney over the top.

Serve with crackers.
This stuff is addicting!


Monday, August 04, 2008

It's the perfect season for Sangria

I went to a barbecue recently (for blog friend Sue!), and loved the Sangria so much that I asked for the recipe.
The host copied a page from some sort of entertaining book (it wasn't a cookbook).
I apologize for not being able to post the source, but this is a fun recipe to share.

A couple of decades ago (gulp), I went to summer school in Spain, in Salamanca.
Sangria, therefore, has a sort of warm and fuzzy place in my heart.

Ultimate Sangria

3 litres red wine (cabernet sauvignon)
2 cups sugar
6 to 8 ounces plain brandy
2 large lemons, thinly sliced
2 large oranges, thinly sliced
2 large apples, sliced
1 to 2 litres citrus-flavor bubbly water (orange or lemon preferred)

Mix the wine, sugar, brandy, lemons, oranges and apples in a large container.
Chill, covered, for 18 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
Just before serving, stir again and taste, adding additional sugar or brandy if desired.
It should have a fairly strong flavor and be fairly sweet, almost syrupy.
Add 1 litre of the bubbly water, stirring until the sangria has a thinner, more wine-like consistency and adding additional bubbly water as needed.
Pour into glasses.

Makes about 4-1/2 quarts.

Tip: Eliminate the sugar by choosing a sweet red wine, and add real eye appeal by floating more exotic fruits in the pitcher, like raspberries, nectarine, peach, and pear slices, plum halves, and blackberries. Be creative!

I am curious how it would taste using 7up or Sierra Mist instead of mineral water. Hmmmm....


Saturday, August 02, 2008

Jeff Buckley, Hallelujah

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Photo Friday

I uploaded this image to Flickr awhile ago. I don't think I've posted it here yet, but it's hard for me to keep track.
I think it might be nice to make paper copies of my blog so I can see how it changes.

Anyway, this photo is damaged, but I still love how it captures so much joy.
(click on photo to enlarge).

I still love the water as much as I did then.