Our Vintage Christmas Tree...

When I lost both my parents in the mid-1980s, I became the keeper of our family's Christmas ornaments. At the time, they weren't vintage and as a 20-something, I didn't treasure them as I should have. Many were broken over the decades.

Since it will be just the two of us celebrating the holidays, I brought out the remaining ornaments to adorn our artificial table top tree. What memories they evoke.
And if you are of a certain age, chances are you’ve hung a few Shiny Brite ornaments yourself. The ornaments (appropriately named for their signature shiny coating) were insanely popular in the 1940s and 50s. By the mid-1940s, the company was producing more than 300,000 ornaments a day—which might explain why so many of them still exist (we've seen them in museums' mid-century modern displays).
Mine are especially sentimental to me as one has my mom's name written on it, by her, and many have residual flocking on them from the time my parents bought the ever so realistic snow in a can. Oh man, I remember it well.
"The Christmas tree is a symbol of love, not money.
There's a kind of glory to them when they're all lit up
that exceeds anything all the money in the world could buy."

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Pearson's Gardens & Herb Farm...

We discovered another treasure hidden in the town of Vista. I am in love with Pearson's whose motto is, "plant... grow... harvest... beautify... attract".

We learned of this Destination Nursery when it was mentioned as a 'Staff Pick' in last month's Westways magazine. We were not disappointed even though Spring is when it really shines.

My favorite plant, by far, was the Asclepias physocarpa or the Family Jewels Tree. I loved this description, "Garden hilarity abounds when you plant this living naughty joke! A SUPER EASY tree-like milkweed from South Africa that grows fast enough to host Monarch caterpillars its first year. In early Summer it forms small mauve and white star-shaped flowers in pendulous clusters that make way for an abundance of 2.5-3” hairy green “family jewels” shaped seed pods with a reddish blush. Gorgeous in bouquets ($30 a stem at high-end florists) or made into the world’s raciest “fruit bowl”. To 6’ high and wide. Self sows." Right?
The owner gave us an extensive tutorial on this unique plant. It was fascinating watching the Monarch larva (caterpillar) devouring the milkweed leaves. It made us happy to see! This tree is on my Spring shopping list.
Nature's eye candy was abundant.



There were thousands of plant stakes just waiting until after winter. Somehow they signaled hope. There is something very encouraging about a nursery with the promise of renewal and growth.

This plant, also on my shopping list, got the award for the best fragrance. Oh my gosh.
Pearson's also sells Good Bugs. If you have never released a bucket of ladybugs upon an aphid covered rose bush, you are missing out. So dang cool.
It seems the simplest of outings brings us the greatest of joys. For a brief moment, we were transported. Oh, so good for the soul.
"All my life through, the new sights of Nature
made me rejoice like a child."
 -Marie Curie

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Went for Bananas, Got a Vaccine...

My first case of pneumonia was when I was 40 and I had never been more ill. With two young sons at home, I couldn't afford to be sidelined. Ever since, I have made certain to stay current on my pneumococcal shots. When Jenny said they now do them every 5 years, and the pharmacist confirmed it, I thought I better hop on this vaccination train.

The pneumonia vaccine protects against a kind of bacteria, unfortunately not the coronavirus caused pneumonia. That said, it can support overall health and that is a very good thing (and comforting to me). If you're over 65, or have a history of lung issues, you might consider getting more than bananas the next time you're at the grocery store. That's my public service announcement for today!

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SCRABBLE® Collection Part 2

I had to return to our Temecula home to share the second (final) installment of my extensive SCRABBLE® collection. Oh man, I have a serious problem!

Not that I want to have a favorite board, but it has to be this, the Giant Scrabble Deluxe Edition. It was a gift, for my 50th, from the kids. It could not have been more perfect.
"With the Giant Scrabble Deluxe Edition, even the small words are big words! Oversized at 150% the original Scrabble game size, this large-and-in-charge board game is a fun twist on a classic game and a godsend for the seeing impaired. One of its most unique features though isn't its size but its ability to rotate smoothly so every player gets the same perfect view of the board on their turn without fear of scattering the tiles. This set includes embossed wooden tiles, a giant red tile pouch, and a scoring pad so you always know who's in the lead. Measures 25L x 25W x 2.75H inches."
My smallest board resides on the tip of a pen. The Scrabble Game Pen was sold at Kohl's in 2003 and I just had to have it.
Sadly, my eyesight isn't like it once was and those tiny, magnetic tiles are impossible to see and difficult to maneuver. Wow right?
This set is Steve's favorite (he's not a fan, so the quicker the better). SCRABBLE Express (2007) delivers the all-American crossword fix in 20 minutes! "Roll the dice for a crossword challenge and use letters to build a word. Opponents build off a previous word. Be the first to score 200 points and you win! Store all the pieces in the handy plastic case and take it with you on the go!"
My most fancy game is the Scrabble Onyx Edition (2006) from Hasbro, "with a new board, which includes a silver-toned raised grid, black stained wood letter tiles, a silver foil gameboard label with wood frame and rotating carousel, foil-stamped score pad and pencil, and a velvet pouch for the letter tiles." Fancy indeed!
This 1985 game box is actually wrapped in a printed promotional cover which is also a mailing label. Note the propaganda on the photographed game board, "The Right Combination, Kodak Copiers." I never get fun propaganda like that!
SCRABBLE® Sentence Cube Game (1971) "has players, in turn, roll the 21 word cubes, set the timer and form sentences with the words appearing on the tops of the cubes in a crossword puzzle-like fashion (one word may be part of two sentences - one running vertically and one running horizontally). Turns end when the egg timer runs out. Players score 50 points for each sentence of 7 words or more. All other sentences score the square of the number of words in the sentence (i.e. a 4-word sentence scores 4 X 4, or 16 points). A bonus of 50 points is awarded if all 21 cubes are used. Two points are deducted for each unused cube." This game is no longer in my collection as it was given to a friend who had grown up playing it. Sounds fun though.
Another cube game is this Crosswords Cube Game (1976) "which comes with 14 wooden cubes with Scrabble style differing letters and point values on each face."
In Scrabble Scoring Anagrams (1984) "players draw letters and place them into a central area. All players then try to make words from those letters. Players may capture words made by other players by adding new letters from the pool to existing words. The game comes with 180 wooden letter tiles in red ink." Not a huge variation of the original, really. I'm thinking this version is probably where the BANANAGRAMS® creator got her idea from (though tiles stored in a cloth banana are pretty dang cool).
SCRABBLE® is a family-friendly board game sold in over 121 countries, in 29 different languages! It’s so popular that it’s found in approximately one-third of all American homes, was inducted into the National Toy Hall of fame, and even has its own day (April 13th). Look at me being trendy, though I think my collection numbers skew the averages a bit, don't you? What fun!

“Remember, when you don’t know what to do,
it never hurts to play Scrabble.
It’s like reading the I Ching or tea leaves.”
― Kelly Link

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We Found Butterflies...

The Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove is one of my favorite places as its sole purpose is to provide a protected overwintering site for western monarch butterflies.

Typically, this Grove has one of the largest overwintering western monarch populations. However, what we've seen, since just being here last December, is the current monarch population seems threatened.
Though these two were definitely trying to keep the species going.

While there were only hundreds vs thousands of Monarchs here, we were still delighted. There is just something about a butterfly!
"Butterflies are self propelled flowers!" 
-R.H. Heinlein

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Pacific Grove for the Day...

We came here to see butterflies. Every year thousands of Monarchs overwinter in Pacific Grove.

Arriving in October, monarch butterflies cluster together on pine, cypress and eucalyptus trees in the Sanctuary. Their migration to Pacific Grove is so unique that Pacific Grove is nicknamed Butterfly Town, U.S.A.
Unfortunately, no butterflies were to be found. At 50° it might still be too cold here.
Tomorrow we'll be in Pismo with hopes of Monarch ogling then.

The town's only traffic jam was caused by this young buck. Cool!

When you search atlas obscura for Pacific Grove, a unique sculpture appears on the list- Kissing Rock. This nature carved art, of two rocks in a perpetual kiss helps to make this one of "the most romantic spots in America."  Fun!

We ended our day at the sea at Asilomar State Beach, a narrow, one-mile strip of sandy beach and rocky coves.

The tidepools held treasures.
We even rescued a jellyfish which had washed ashore.
Because this is a protected marine reserve, we were not allowed to take shells so I photographed our two favorites.

"Asilomar so Lovely,
Down by the Edge of the Sea,
Where the Pine Trees Tall and Stately,
 And the Sand Dunes call to Me."
-Asilomar Camp Song

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United States PORTAL Service...

In the middle of Santa Rosa's Old Courthouse Square, in downtown, there’s the familiar (and much loved by me) outline of a mailbox — the four-sided receptacle on four legs, with an arched top. Only this one is gold-colored.

When I read about this special mailbox, I knew the next time I was in town, I would be mailing something.
Placed there by the United States PORTAL Service, a sign nearby explains: “Please submit your questions, grievances and love letters to the past and future here.” If you include a return address, you’ll get a response by standard mail from one of 33 Portal Professionals, who range in age from 3 to 79. If you don’t include a return address, “a cosmic response will be issued.”
According to one of the organizers, “A large part of the project — and using a full-size, real mailbox — was to show reverence for the institution of the USPS." The idea also came from the team’s experience sending letters to friends during the pandemic. “A couple weeks would go by, and the whole world would change by the time we would get each other’s letters.”

For me, it was a gift having the 'opportunity' to write to someone in the past. I sent a long overdue letter to my mom, dated July, 1986. Putting pen to paper was cathartic. I absolutely love this portal and hope it remains opened for others to creatively correspond.

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