In person…

It’s hard to explain Japan in words or pictures. You have to visit and see it in person to really comprehend the sheer volume of human life flooding the streets during commute hour. When I say the skyscraper apartments are close to one another, I mean, some only have a couple feet between them. In many places, there are so many huge buildings, that it is hard to imagine the sun ever warming the ground. At times, I felt if I reached my arm out the window of our car, that I might be able to touch the homes.

Tokyo from an elevated freeway

The cities are painted in shades of grey and rust, with only the periodic bursts of color in the signage. Smaller towns (Seattle, San Francisco sized) are still filled with overhead wiring for everything, but have more vividly painted buildings, and way more retail signage filled with cartoonish characters and bright colors. Step out of the cities and into the country, and the houses begin to look more like what most westerners expect Japanese buildings to look like. Beautiful tile roofs, with decorative ridge lines, manicured gardens, unique architecture and a little more space around the houses. Community gardens dot the residential areas, and plants soften any hardness of the buildings.

Old look restaurant

The Japanese city planners plan their city parks to perfection. There are many smaller playgrounds with running space dotted throughout the cities. Especially as buffer zones between industrial and residential. There are even more multi acre parks filled with huge playgrounds, walking paths, garden areas, grassy fields, man made water features, etc. These garden parks can transport one from city to countryside just by stepping out of one’s car. They are filled with families playing and older folks exercising, a beautiful juxtaposition of harshness and beauty.

A city park, Hasuda, Saitama, Japan

There are multi lane freeways, many are elevated to take advantage of air space, and single lane two way streets. There really is no rhyme or reason the the directions. I was told that after WW2, cities just started building roads without any plans or direction. Not sure why. Parking is at a premium, and in very busy places, one might find cars on contraptions to make the most of the “air space”. In many cities, empty house lots have been converted to parking lots for 6-10 vehicles.

Many “fast food” type restaurants present their menu with pictures or faux plates to view

Food is an important part of the culture. Their imports are of the best quality, including blemish free fruits, high quality meats, etc. How it looks when it is served, is just as important as how it tastes. They cater to every sense when it comes to eating out. Atmosphere, music, sights, smell. It is a buffet for the senses. Since the homes, and therefore the refrigerators, are small, most people make daily trips to the supermarket for fresh items. It is not uncommon to see the same people walking or riding to a store every day. There are plenty of restaurants that have sit on the floor options, as well as westernized booth seating.

A beautiful, delicious caprese salad

Some of the people are very friendly and kind and you feel like their friend when you leave their place of business. But I have found that to be less often than shopkeepers who are all business. If you smile at a Japanese person as you walk past them, they probably won’t smile back. My daughter says that is because they are on their way someplace. They aren’t looking to be friendly. One coffee place we visited in Kamakura (the Circus) was incredible. The atmosphere was warm, and inviting, with calm, yet modern music playing. It was a beautiful, simple blend of old and new for an interior. The shop keeper was friendly, smiled and laughed as he helped us. As we began to try what we ordered, he was watching intently to see what our responses were going to be to his Camembert and Gorgonzola cheesecakes. I’m sure he was confident we would love it, but you could tell he took great pleasure in seeing people happy, and great pride in his creations. Wow.

The Circus Coffee Shop in Kamakura
Simply elegant. The Circus

Another store we visited in Kamakura was a shop where the store owner upcycled used kimono sashes into table runners, purses, and more. The owner spoke English to us, very well, and we enjoyed learning she had spent time in Los Angeles. She was very friendly to our young grandsons also. And, I must say, our 6 and 4 year old grandsons did fantastically in the shops! Way to go mom and dad for making tourist time fun for the kids too!

Yet, in other places, the clerks would not really look at you. They seemed as if they were simply going through the motions of the sale. I suppose this is the same anywhere you might go in the world. Sorry for the slightly off topic rabbit trail, but I did want to give a shout out to those two shops.

Huge malls, with throngs of people are common. The stores are all clean, well maintained and pretty to look at. Everything is in its place. There are enough workers to make sure things are always where they belong and look as they should. There are no piles of T-shirts all messed up, only tidy-ness. Again, you really need to experience these things to appreciate them.

I enjoyed my time in Japan. Everything listed above though, is just icing on the cake. My cake was visiting with our daughter, her husband and two boys!


Paper crafts…

This morning I got to watch the boys while mom ran an errand and dad worked. They played well for quite some time, but we all know it was just a matter of time before fists or toys started flying. I spent the time researching a short craft project and prepping the materials into little kits for us to do together. They turned out terrific, so I wanted to share them with you!

Corner Monster Bookmarks!

We used what we had (red origami paper and little googly eyes) and the boys loved them. I got the pattern from the following site:

I can’t wait to use some of my pretty scrapbook papers to create some pretty ones for my friends and to sell at the local craft show this summer. I hope you have as much fun as we did today!

Busy times…

Over the past month, we have committed to hosting a wedding in August, a Bar Mitzvah in September, a wedding in October, and a ten year anniversary wedding reception in our barn.

I babysat a friend’s three kids for a few days, during which I got very little done besides cooking and keeping the house somewhat clean. I dealt with a sprinkler station that had a major leak due to voles (underground field mice) eating holes in the plastic piping, leaking backflow assemblies, a rabbit in the garden, a squirrel on our patio, bored tween/teen grandkids, the family dynamics between my son and his ex-wife.

I have had to start files for all the events we are hosting, and figure out how to shore up a weak pergola for the wedding. Tomorrow I have to get the wood for that project and get it stained for the workers who arrive on the 18th. Hopefully it is ready to use by the 24th, when we are hosting an outdoor bridal shower.

I have flowers to plant. A garden fence to finish putting up, raised beds to move into the garden space, and an irrigation system to design and install.

My freeze dryer gave me a vacuum pump error message, so I spent part of today going through their troubleshooting process. After I think I got it working again, I installed a software update. We’ll see how it works tomorrow when I put a batch in.

My honey needs a ride to his specialty chiropractor and hour away, and somewhere along the way, I would like to spend a few minutes making some 3 dimensional flowers for the wall in my office. We have 10’ ceilings, which make rooms look bigger, but can also lead to a lot of bare spaces.

The list is never ending. What doesn’t get done today, will be forwarded to tomorrow’s to do list. Someday, maybe I’ll finish. Probably not, but, hey, hope is good for the soul! I have to Lear. To carve out time for fun things, for building relationships with other women, with my grands, with my Creator. May today be one step closer in your life to finding Balance.

The Five Love Languages –

The Five Love Languages – Wikipedia
— Read on

Many years ago, I read this book, and it changed the way I related to people. I began to see how others received love, and I determined in my heart to love them in the way they could understand, not the way I like to be loved.

I saw that my husband and son were both “Quality Time and Physical Touch” people. Our daughter a “Gift Giver and Acts of Service” girl. My mom, a strong “Words of Affirmation”, while my dad was a strong “Acts of Service” guy. Me, I am “Acts of Service and Physical Touch”, although receiving a gift every now and then would be nice too…

Acts of service came pretty easy to me, as well as physical touch and gift giving. The words of affirmation was a challenge for me. In the last few years of my mother’s life (which I didn’t know would be her last at the time), I had to really focus on affirming her. “Mom, you sure do put a lot of love into making a good soup.” “You look really nice in that outfit today.” It was a challenge, but I tried to say something affirming each day (they lived with us for a few years).

That was fifteen years ago. My father lives with us now, and we have the same love language, which makes for an easy relationship with him. With my honey, the exhaustion of a high stress job reduces some of our marital physical touch, but I always try to give him a bear back scratch in the morning, and a big hug when we returns home at night, and then, I put away the phone, stop working and sit and look him in the eye when he wants to share his day with me. When I see my son, he gets a hug and eye to eye conversation. Our daughter gets many care packages from home filled with things she can’t get in Japan and lots of love. I am still trying to figure out our daughter in law and grandkids.

Monday they have a school holiday. I found a website called that has an online quiz to figure out your love language. I may have the kids do that with me and then talk about the concept that because people are different from one another, they give and receive love differently.

When I sit and watch a basketball or football game with my honey, and pay attention and get into it, that says a big I love you to him. When he was growing up, his family watched sports together. Super hard for me, since I see watching tv as a huge waste of time. So, I picked his two favorite teams, the Zags (Gonzaga Bulldogs) basketball and the Minnesota Vikings football to watch with him. I make a big deal out of game time with popcorn, getting cozy on the couch. I get to know the players so I can talk about the game, and I even know the game schedule before he tells me. I learned this because he was lamenting one day that none of the grandkids would just sit with him and watch a game. I asked a few questions and learned this about him.

I highly recommend this and the related books (one about kids love languages, and I think a third). Buy it, check it out of the library. If you want to be a good lover, read this book and then challenge yourself to step outside your box and love others differently. You will become a more balanced person that way. Share what you’ve learned with your loved ones so they can learn too. You can become an excellent lover!

Beautiful moments…

When your grown son reaches his arm over your shoulder during a visit and says, “Love you mom”.

When your grown daughter texts and says, “Can we call? Your grandson has something he wants to show you”.

The moment your husband stops you on a walk, puts his arm around your waist and points out the beautiful sunset.

Receiving a handwritten note in the mail. Even nicer when it is on a sweet, colorful notecard.

The first moment my head hits the cool pillow and my body knows it can finally relax.

The first lusciously creamy spoonful of raspberry mousse.

The varied sounds of the killdeer birds in our presently dirt and rock yard.

Visits from the neighbor’s affectionate Tom cats around sunset. Head butts, sharp claws kneading on your thigh when they are in the lap, when they come running to see you.

Seeing the straw wrapper on my dashboard that came whizzing by my shoulder the other day, compliments of my ten year old grandson, and remembering the laughter that ensued.

Enjoying a day of card making with our twelve year old granddaughter.

Hearing our four year old grandson tell me a story about the ‘Shamberries’ they grow.

When your daughter in law sits and chats with you, and really enjoys it.

Finding out there is another grandchild on the way into this world.

Coffee and a drive with a friend who has a day off of work, who is really more family.

The sweet, juiciness of a home grown strawberry.

Realizing God’s ever protective presence when a car pulls across a road in front of you and you miss them by inches. Or that your open pant leg was just over an active yellow jacket nest, and you were spared any bites.

Those rare talks with a distant sibling.

When something goes right in the building process, and a weight is lifted from your mind and figurative shoulders.

These are a few of the many things that I find beautiful. That bring me joy. That bring me to my knees in prayer and thankfulness to our Creator. Take a moment in the insanity of your day, close your eyes, and bring to remembrance those little things that bring you joy. Your beautiful moments.

Being home…

Today and tomorrow I am babysitting a friend’s three kids. It has been a long time since I haven’t worked at the property all day or been out running errands for the building project. I forgot how much I love being home and being a homemaker.

My day started at 11:55pm last night. I had been asleep for about an hour when I heard the dreaded smoke detector chirp. It startled me awake sending me into fight or flight. I crawled out of bed and met up with my honey in the hallway while trying to figure out which detector was chirping. Of course, it has to be the one at the peak of the vaulted ceiling. My honey put on some slippers, grabbed the key to our shed and headed out the back door to get the ladder. We removed the detector, then the battery and headed back to bed. Sleep tried to elude me as I laid in the dark, wondering how we would change the detector batteries at our new home, with a vault considerably higher than the one here. After a couple games of solitaire on my little handheld game, I was able to fall asleep. The sugar and gluten I had eaten woke me at 4:30. I used the toilet, crawled back into bed and gave the cat a minute of attention before drifting back to sleep.

After waking again at 5:30, I decided to give up on getting more sleep. I knew my alarm would be going off soon. I needed to eat breakfast, feed the cat, do my morning chores, bring the papers in and read the funnies before 7:00am. The van windows would take about five minutes to clear of frost enough to drive to the property by 7:15. There I would load up three windows, take them into town to get them tinted for the fake gables, pick up our two older grands at their mom’s work, and get back to my house by 9:00am to be home for when a friend was going to drop off her three younger kids for a couple days. This would be the first time they could be without kids in a couple years.

The rest of the day was filled with prepping lunch for everyone before hearing “When’s lunch?” “I’m hungry!” Same for snacks. My 12 year old granddaughter and I prepped a batch of chicken enchilada soup together, for them to take home. They are moving closer to us this week, and I know how hard it can be to plan meals and cook when you are packing and moving. The soup, and another meal were instant pot ready, which I knew she/mom would be keeping out. There were some minor altercations to deal with, a few hurt feelings also, but the laughter and squeals of joy far outnumbered the unpleasantries. Our grands and the three other kids finally found a play rhythm and fun ensued.

Dinner was prepped by snack time, and I felt relaxed and content, noise and all. I had forgotten how much I love being a housewife/mom/grandma. I get great pleasure from happy children noises, meals ready when hunger sets in, reading bedtime stories with funny voices, hugging and comforting a child whose feelings got hurt. I love being home.

My mom used to tell me I was born in the wrong century. I should have been born in the Little House on the Prairie days. I would have loved that life. I often find myself trying to recreate the simplicity of that lifestyle. Being a mom who raises kids to be responsible, loving, hard working human beings. Cooking and preserving. It suits me. It may not suit everyone, but I find myself in it. And life is best when we find our lane, and stay in it, instead of trying to be what others think we should be.

With the new year upon us, if you are doing any introspection or resolutions, I hope you will find or decide what you are best at, and resolve to stay in your lane, regardless of the peer pressure to do contrary. And, may you find great joy and contentment in doing so.


Now I understand…

A few month back, we had a round of inspections with the shop and house we are building. One inspection was to make sure our electrical panel was ready to energize. The inspector was friendly and helpful with suggestions. At one point, he asked me “so, you’re going to pull the wire?” I answered in the affirmative, and he repeated the question. I laughed and repeated my answer. At the time, I found it funny. Apparently I must look like I would not be capable of “pulling” wire.

Fast forward to this morning. The sun had just risen around 7:00am, but was hidden behind heavy clouds. It was light but cold, around 32 degrees. I headed to the property and met up with a friend who is coaching me through the project. We decided to take on the big project of pulling the main power wires between the master panel and the sub panel. We needed to run the wire approximately 225 feet. When I say wire, it turned out we were pulling three huge 1″ around, wires and one small through the underground conduit. At the same time.


Five hours later, the three of us, plus his wife who came a bit later, and a car finally finished the job. I pulled for a while, then shoved the wire into the conduit. I was so cold that I didn’t notice how sore I was getting. We went through one and a half bottles of wire lubricant. By the time we were done, my gloves were so slimy, I couldn’t hold anything. But, now I understand the inspectors repeated question. I could not have done that alone, and am humbled that our friend and his two older children took an entire day to help with the monumental task. And, his wife and other children also came out to help for a couple hours.

After we finally finished that task, we all took time to refill the carb load for energy, and went inside to run more wire and drill holes to help the process. When I say inside, it’s not like it was warmer inside. There are still open soffits, open walls into the garage, and a couple windows missing (they were broken when they arrived). Every now and then I would remove my gloves to shove my hands into my pockets to warm them.

When I finally returned home at 4:00pm, I took time to fix a warm, protein recovery drink before hopping into a hot, epsom salt and essential oil bath. It was while I was soaking that I noticed the dark purple bruise at the base of my thumb, and the slight swelling on the top of my other hand. I can only guess the bruise was from the sheer pressure of working the large wires. The top of the hand was when I was drilling a hole and hit a knot and the drill locked and threw and twisted my hand at the wrist and the top of my hand was slammed into a stud. One hip hurts, probably from bracing my body during the pull. Hopefully that is all, but we will have to see what the morning holds.

It feels good to have that big project out of the way. The rest should feel like a piece of cake comparably. I must admit, I feel confident now with working with the electrical. I feel satisfied to be able to say “I did that”. And I have enjoyed most of the process. Stripping wire and stapling is a fairly mindless job, which helps me relax. As long as I’m not shivering too much. I plan to take it easy physically tomorrow. I have some purchases to make, sub contractors to meet with and errands to run. Hopefully my hands won’t hurt too much to put in a full day of work on Tuesday.


It’s 9 AM, the temperature is about 17° Fahrenheit, the sun is shining, the sky is a brilliant blue, with not a cloud to be seen. Already this morning I spent some time reading my Bible, got my exercises and stretches done, and finished up with my morning chores. After loading up my car with my essential oil display stuff, I headed over to Costco to stand in line and wait my turn to have my winter tires put on. I am bundled up with long John’s, four layers of shirts and heavy winter boots, even though there is not a lick of snow on the ground at the moment. I have learned from past years, how to stay warm while waiting in line here. But I know if I don’t get there an hour early, the line will be long, and it will take hours for the task to be done. This way, I wait in the sun for one hour, but I will be finished after 40 minutes inside. Just enough time to get some groceries I need and maybe fill out my monthly meal calendar while sitting at one of their lively red food court tables.

From Costco I will head over to the bank where I am blessed to be able to set up a display for my essential oil business. Each month they allow a different customer to feature their business on a wall of shelves. I don’t get any business from it, but at least I get exposure, and who knows what that is worth. It also makes me feel good to have the tellers comment each time I come in that my displays very nice.

Once I am done setting that up, who knows where I will go. I have much to accomplish today, including finishing a shopping list for the needs we have for the electrical system for our new house, finding flooring for the house, dropping off information to get an estimate from our local hardware store on what type of discount they can supply me on a package for toilets, sinks, faucets, appliances, doors, etc., and so much more. There’s also some laundry to finish up from yesterday, and foods to get ready for my Sabbath tomorrow, so I don’t have to cook. If the weather and my time hold out, I may try to get our plum tree pruned before the snow coats it. So far I have been able to prune back both of our apple trees, and I was able to dig up and pot our dozen blueberry bushes. I have transported those over to our new property and buried them in compost, since I cannot dig into the ground at this time. That should keep them warm and happy until spring when I can plant.

My life is busy. But I am trying to learn to appreciate the busyness, because there will be days when there is no busyness and I can enjoy scrapbooking or quilting once again. The sun always brings joy and hope to my soul. And I am so grateful to the Creator of this beautiful world we live in for each day, for each breath, for each moment. I pray that our children, and our grandchildren, will choose to live lives of thankfulness and contentment. For with contentment comes great joy.

May you find something to be joyful and thankful about in the midst of your busyness today.

A Poem…

“Snow makes whiteness where it falls, and bushes look like popcorn balls, and places where I always play, look like somewhere else today.” Author _______

This poem is from the Little Golden Book “My Little Book of Poems”. I read the collection to my children at bed, many years ago, and was blessed to have many opportunities to read them to our older grands when they were young.

When I awoke to snow this morning, my strawberry bushes reminded me of the poem, and I wanted to share the joy with the world! So, here I am!


Hugs and hellos. A month of giggles, whines and tickles. Bedtime bottles, early morning conversation over the necessary cup of coffee. Special Grammi breakfasts of coffee cake, Dutch babies, and croissants with lemon blueberry cream cheese spread. Exasperations, exuberations, tired eyes, lack of sleep. Squeals of delight, cries of “I want!”. Love tanks filled to overflowing. Spoiling a grown daughter. Spoiling her kids. Selfies, sprinklers in the sandbox, walking to the park. Dinners out, days at the beach, shopping. Doing touristy things in the town we live in. Falling behind with the garden, barely staying on track with the building. A long drive with pleasant conversation. Memories remembered, new ones made. Pictures taken, funny faces, family and lifelong friends. Goodbye hugs, lots of tears, the wave goodbye, as they disappeared into the airport masses. Deep breaths, sighs and smiles. Still tired, catching up, cleaning up, naps. Smiles when remembering. Sad but happy at the same time.