Category: Sablewing Blog

Memories of Moon Tea

Many years ago, when my husband and I were still dating, we were living in the Fort Worth-Dallas area. I was not fond of the taste of the tap water and this was before bottled water became so popular. In order to have a low calorie drink I would make sun tea on the little balcony for my apartment. I would set out a jar of water with 3-4 teabags in the morning then bring the jar back in when I came home from work in the evening. This would give me enough iced tea for the next few days.

One day, during the summer, I forgot to put out the tea in the morning. Since the days were long I hurried around and put out a jar planning to bring it back in before I went to bed. However, I again forgot about the tea and it sat outside on my porch overnight. I did finally remember the tea in the morning and brought it in, hoping it would taste okay.

My husband to be and I drank that tea and we both thought it was the most wonderful iced tea we had ever drank. My husband declared that ‘moon tea’ was a lot better than regular sun tea. I never have been able to duplicate that flavor and I can still remember the wonderful taste.

I was reminded of this when I saw the full moon while drinking some iced tea. The tea flavor was good, especially since I also had chocolate chip cookies but it didn’t match that flavor from so long ago. I may have to try making some ‘moon tea’ during one of the full moons.

Spring Weather, Road Trip Travel Tips

I got busy the last couple of weeks so missed posting, time to make up for it. The last couple of weeks have definitely been typical spring weather with unsettled weather. We’ve had light rain, a heat wave, twice and now we seem to be back to more normal spring weather here in the San Diego area. The bunnies are still around although I only see one big one around instead of two. The lizard population has declined, which occurred shortly after seeing  a hawk hanging around our area so I think I know where they went. HOwever, I have seen some smaller lizards around, usually on our driveway as I go in and out so I’m not too worried that the lizard population is going to dip below sustainable levels.

With summer on the way we will probably be busy out in the yard trimming back brush. There is a lot of dead brush and overgrown bushes that need trimming. And I definitely want to get trees trimmed back that are close to the house. This evening I was out trimming a couple of bushes and some pepper trees that were trying to regrow by my flowers. We need to pick up some stuff to put on the stump to kill the pepper trees. They are definitely a weed tree out here, you can trim them back but they quickly try to regrow where you cut. I’m not looking forward to trying to trim a couple of other pepper trees out. At least I got a few beans from the green beans I planted. Not enough to serve up but it was fun to have something to pick. And I was surprised the critters didn’t go right through the flimsy fence I have setup to have a snack of beans. Lots to learn but it’s fun to find out that things will grow out here. The soil definitely seems to be decent, much better than what we had at the old house.

With Memorial day this weekend I was thinking about some travel tips for people driving somewhere. My husband and I ran a motel for a few years and there are some things I can offer based on being behind the desk. These tips apply to traveling on side roads and not on the interstate or in large cities.

  1. When away from franchise and chain hotels look for AAA motels – We had a motel that was AAA rated and for tourists the AAA rating lets you know that the motel has been inspected at least once that year. Based on our experience our motel was not inspected by the state or city the entire time we owned and managed the property. However, in order to keep our AAA rating we had to allow the property to be inspected at least once a year and as a surprise inspection. The AAA inspectors look over the rooms to rate them on how clean they are and what amenities they offer. We had a basic one star motel, which means that the rooms are clean and have some space between the walls and beds. And AAA motels will generally be consistent on their prices even during peak times. This does not mean that other motels or lodging aren’t clean just that you know that someone has inspected the rooms within the last year and that the rooms were in good condition and clean during that inspection.
  2. Find out when the slow seasons are and don’t be afraid to ask for a discount at the desk – During slower seasons with a smaller motel it doesn’t hurt to ask for a discount. In some cases you may be talking to the owner of a family owned motel so they can easily decide to give you a discount. But know when those off seasons are and for what cities. As an example, in northwest Wyoming area, from mid-June to mid-August don’t bother to ask for a discount. From mid-August to mid-October you should be able to get some discount except when hunting season starts, October 15th. After October you can get really steep discounts, depending on where you want to stay. If it’s Jackson Hole during skiing season or at one of the lodges that are close to snowmobiling don’t bother to ask. But in other areas feel free to ask and if you stay for several days you may be able to get a weekly rate. Also, if it’s later in the evening but not too late, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. The room would sit empty so the owner is better off renting out even at a discount. However, if it’s too late and you wake up the owner be prepared to pay full price for the inconvience and grumpiness in getting woke up in the middle of the night. 🙂
  3. If motels are full and it’s late don’t be afraid to ask a small motel owner if you can park on their lot for the evening – When we had our motel there were a couple of times when people would ask to stop and park in our lot for the night. This occurred during early August when the Sturgis motorcycle rally occurred in South Dakota. The motorcyclists would fill up motels around the rally which would push people out to other motels. As a result every motel within a 300 mile radius would fill up by 6:00 pm in the evening for about a week. Normally it’s 10:00 or later for a motel to fill up during the summer months. For people traveling towards South Dakota who didn’t know this they would try to find a room around 8:00 or 9:00 in the evening and not have any luck. We had one car stop during this time, with several older ladies who asked if they could stop and park on our lot. Their car was having problems and it was 8:30 or 9:00 in the evening. We actually opened up our big garage area for them and set up rollaways so they would have someplace a little more comfortable to stay. In the morning, when one of the rooms opened up we offered the room so they could clean up before taking care of their car. If you find out that it’s a busy time and you can’t get a motel room look for a small motel that looks family owned, you might have some luck in at least parking on the lot overnight.
  4. Staying some distance away from the main attraction will save money – Our motel was 120 miles from Yellowstone and about 60 miles away from Cody. Prices for a room in Cody that was equivalent to ours was usually twice as much. I will admit that the rooms were probably bigger and there were chain motels in Cody. However, if you are only going to stay one night in a room is it worth twice as much? If you are looking for things to do and have children then a larger city might be better but if you are watching your budget then staying further away may save you some money. And if you are looking for a quiet night you may have more luck in a motel away from the main tourist spot.
  5. If you’re driving a fancy car you may get gouged at some small motels – I heard some motel owners talk about how they would raise the rates if they saw someone driving a high end luxury car. We normally kept steady rates but there were one or two times we would raise our rates for potential customers based on their car. And we would raise the rates or offer the highest rate for the room because we didn’t like the looks of the person who wanted to rent. For small motel owners they do develop a sense of who can pay and who might be trouble and you may be judged accordingly before getting the room. If your car is pretty beat up, if you look like you haven’t cleaned up for a few days or just seem off then you may get rates boosted or an even more direct there is no vacancy even if the sign outside says there is a vacancy. On the other end, if you have a really nice car, dress a little better than average or have license plates from a state associated with more wealth the rates may be boosted because it’s thought you have more money to spend. This probably occurs more with family owned motels who are managed and operated by the owners.

Just a few things based on our experience some 16 years ago. Some things may have changed but I suspect these tips could still prove helpful. Have a good Memorial Day Weekend with family. And I hope everyone has good memories as they think about their loved ones who are no longer with us.

More Wildlife, Hot Weather and Rain on the Way…Maybe

I realized that it’s been a week and I do want to keep posting to this blog. The time has gone by quickly, hard to believe I was recovering last week. I am mostly recovered and hoping that all of my stones are gone. Next phase will be figuring out what caused the stones since I have a strong desire to avoid them in the future. Based on my research that may not be completely possible but will have to see.

For most of the week we have had spring like weather. I enjoy the still somewhat cool temperatures and the easing on my electric bill and heating bill. My flowers continue to grow and it looks like some beans have started on my green bean plants. The grass sod we planted on the side is also surviving although I probably won’t be happy with my water bill when I get that. There are some brown patches but most of the sod and some of the grass seed has sprouted. Enough so that I’ll need to ask my son to mow the patches next week. Next tasks are to start pulling out some of the dead wood around the house and trim trees back some. With the Santa Ana winds and warm weather today I was reminded of the fire danger and the need to make sure land is cleared around the house. I was pleased to notice that the wind was not too much today around our house, which is good. And it’s cooling down this evening, with our attic fan pulling in outside air the house is getting comfortable again.

I did get some pictures of some wild flowers and wild life on our lot this week. I posted them on Facebook for those who might be curious. I am hoping to skip ants in the house while we have this dry weather. With the low humidity, 1-2% in some parts of the county, that usually means the ants start looking for the nearest water, which is sometimes in our house. I think it was last week when there was a line of them from our living room to the kitchen that we had to spray.

When I was out this week taking pictures it was very soothing listening to the wind blow through the pine tree out front. We have some tall eucalyptus trees out back, sometimes I can see just the tops waving in the wind that blows over the top of our house. With all of the hills and such it makes for some interesting breaks in how the wind blows across our lot.

It’s definitely cooling down more and it’s a nice evening out. Our cat is napping by the front window on a table I have over there. She occasionally looks up and out the window but I still haven’t seen what she is looking at. Last night was funny, she was chasing a moth that was hovering around a lamp in our family room. The moth would flutter around behind her and she had no clue where it had gone. Once I would point it out she would be back chasing it then she would lose it again when it fluttered out of immediate sight. Definitely not a mighty hunter but she is a good lap cat, especially when I’m reading in the evenings before I go to bed. Hope the weather forecaster is right and we get some rain this weekend. It’s been too dry this year so every little bit helps.

Bunnies, Lizard Pushups – Spring Time!

This week I’ve been home recovering from a procedure to break up some kidney stones I have. I now have a small collection of stones to take in for analysis and I’m recovering pretty well. I’m certainly doing a lot better after this procedure than I was last fall when I passed one stone unexpectedly. In between naps I’ve had a chance to see our ‘wildlife’ wandering about. There are a couple of rabbits that seem pretty comfortable with our yard. A little too comfortable, I’m pretty sure I saw one over nibbling on some flowers I planted a couple of weeks ago. However, they are also pretty timid and if I get close to the window they run off. I’m pretty sure these are the grown up baby bunnies that hopped around the yard a couple of months ago.

We also have a lot of lizards hanging around the house. I sometimes feel like I have a lizard ranch somewhere close by. They certainly like to climb up the house to find warm spots. So far we’ve seen one hanging from the screen on the first floor and second floor. At least I havent’ seen any in the house and hope to continue that trend. In the evenings, when I drive up our long driveway I’ve counted as many as six lizards scurrying off to the side of the road as I drive up to the house. Today I was looking out the kitchen window and noticed one sitting on top of our log pile. He appeared to be doing pushups and then settled down to lie in the sun and look over the yard. A quick search in the internet and I found that lizards do perform pushups as a method of marking territory. It is done by male lizards and shows that they are strong enough for the females and can keep other lizards out of their area. After reading this it reminded me that I had seen some of the lizards chasing each other a few weeks ago. So long as the lizards stay out of our house and eat insects I don’t mind them. Although the lizard hanging off the screen for the second story bathroom was a bit much.

The sun is out this afternoon, a nice change after a gloomy day yesterday. Although since I slept most of yesterday I can’t say that I missed much. The temperature is about right, in the 70’s. And it’s cooling down at night which makes for good sleeping weather. A light breeze whispering through the trees today. I was giving direction to my son today and some tree branches to trim, it felt good to stand in the sun and feel the warmth on my back. While the sun felt good I am hoping it doesn’t warm up too soon. For me, this is about perfect weather, not too warm, not too cold, just right with a touch of a breeze and humidity. Having higher humidity this week is wonderful, it’s nice to not have painful sinuses this week.

I was pleased to see that the bean plants are continuing to grow and there are possibly some new sprouts for some other seeds I planted. Although they could be weeds that are enjoying the extra water I’ve been putting on the bean plants. The grass is still alive, yay, and some of the grass seed is also coming up. It’s fun to see things growing in the yard. So our spring continues.

Taking a Step Back

Along with everyone else I’ve been seeing the news lately and it never seems like there is good news. A bombing in Boston, an explosion in Waco, a do-nothing congress and lots of strife reported. And yet, for most people, life is quiet, families are having time together, and things keep going. I decided that I want to do some more writing on-line to try and get my writing in somewhat better shape. And I want to paint scenes with words to remind people that in spite of all of the bad news, the arguing and disagreements that there are still things in life that stick around long after the headlines have moved to the latest tragedy.

Today it was very windy and dry, which is making for uncomfortable sinuses for myself. But sitting here typing this, I can hear the wind in the trees, the leaves stirring around as each pass of wind finds its way through. I went outside earlier and just stood, listening to the trees and thinking that this is what trees would sound like if they talked. The leave shuffle together and in strong gusts they shift and brush against each other making a soft sound that seems at odds with the strength of the wind. I shift my attention over to the large pine tree on the edge of our driveway and hear the wind whisper through the needles. This sound is more like the wind itself talking to the trees, with more of the air and less of the tree in the sound that finds its way to my ears.

I walk over to turn on the sprinkler for the flowers I planted a week or so ago. For those in northern climates, patience, spring is coming, it’s found its way here in the southern part of the country. Even though I watered the flowers a couple of days ago the ground is dry. Amazing what an 18% humidity will do to suck the water out. I turn on the sprinkler and grin as it puddles up and runs through the little canals I dug out to spread the water out. Even at my age it’s still fun to play with water although I’m much more aware of the cost and scarcity of it in this desert like area. In our new house we plan to keep our watering to a minimum so I have the flowers and some grass that we will keep watered but everything else will have to fend for itself.

While the sprinkler is running I go to check on the soaker hose I’ve set up for the grass sod we are trying to grow. I go ahead and run that for a few minutes and then adjust the hose a bit. I’m experimenting with growing some beans and so the water should reach that area a bit better. I suspect I’ll end up feeding the rabbits and squirrels that hang around but for right now it’s fun to see a couple of bean plants poking up. Maybe I’ll get lucky and even get one or two bean pods, will have to wait and see.

I’ve let the water run for a while so I turn off the sprinkler and come back inside. But with the windows open I can still hear the wind moving the leaves. When the sun sets the wind dies down but I enjoyed the weather change and a chance to hear the trees ‘talk’. I will be glad when our humidity gets back up above the teens though.

The Hallowing of 9/11

Today is a hallowed day but not by any actions of minister, preacher, father or sister or other representatives of the divine. The day has been hallowed by the blood shed of our brothers and sisters who were in a place where a rending sacrifice was cut from a confident people.

The blood was from a diverse set of people, truly representing what the United States of America strives for and so often achieves, a peaceful mixing of many people, cultures, races and beliefs. Thus this loss touched each and every one of us with a heartfelt pain we still feel a decade after this deplorable event. Mere words can add no more nor subtract from the value of the day, we can only quietly observe and honor their unwanted sacrifice by living our lives in spite of fear, in spite of the despair in these harsh, angry times.

By standing up as a free people and not shrinking from the internal challenges before us, then we honor their sacrifice. We claim what was taken that day, our sense of perfect security and reweave it into a cloth of confidence and humility that allows us to embrace our differences and not destroy others out of fear. We become leaders by example, in which freedom comes at a cost and which we will not sacrifice for the illusion of perfect security from those who fear and loathe us because we stand out from others.

Advice for Marriage

While my husband and I were out today, I was chatting with a young woman for a bit while we were waiting for something. She had asked about our marriage and how long we had been together (25 years this year) and she wanted to ask us for some advice. She is getting married in a couple of months and although she is in love she said she was nervous about the wedding and how things would be when they got married. Several people had told her that her husband to be would change once they got married and that she should be prepared. I told her that things could be rough the first year but that if she and her husband worked at it, they could do alright. But later on, I thought of some more advice I might give to new couples starting out. Since I’m wordy it’s unlikely that I will be passing these on in casual conversation but here they are anyway. 🙂

  1. Life and weddings aren’t a romantic fairy tale – This probably seems obvious but our culture has so many images and ideals that we see everyday there can easily be a subconscious idea about how romantic and perfect things should be. The idea that having the perfect wedding and honeymoon will lead to the perfect marriage and you will live happily ever after. I’m afraid I’ve found out through experience it doesn’t work that way. There will be days that wives will be disgusted, angry, and/or upset with their husbands. And their will be days that husbands are disgusted, angry and/or upset with their wives. If you’re lucky they won’t happen on the same day but there’s no guarantee of it. Which leads me to the next piece of advice…
  2. Keep a sense of humor handy – On those bad days, if you can find something to laugh at, it can help ease the challenge you have before you. When your 3 year old has filled the living room with 2 inches of water, again, from the outside hose, if you can find a way to even smile, it can make it a bit easier. Sometimes the laughter may come 2-3 years later but if you can find it, it can ease things a bit. Just make sure your spouse doesn’t think you are laughing at them 🙂 And once you have children I highly recommend buying a wet/dry shop vac, it can make certain challenges easier to deal with. Such as when children play with water or when the sewer backs up. Not that I’ve ever had those happen, mind you. 😉
  3. Hard and challenging times make for the best stories – When families gather together and talk about things, what are the stories they tell? There might be some mention of that quiet peaceful dinner where all the children sat quietly and behaved and the adults acted adult like. Or there will probably be the stories of the time one of the kids dropped the plate of food on the brand new carpet at Grandma’s or that one Thanksgiving when Uncle Henry had one too many and started dancing in the middle of dinner. At least once you get through the hard times you will probably have some good stories to tell to your family and friends.
  4. Don’t sweat the small stuff and remember it’s all small stuff – This one is probably the hardest to learn and I think it just requires experience to fully understand it. But once you do get it, it’s a big help in getting through
  5. Treasure the good times – When you do have those quiet moments where things go perfectly, keep those memories safe. Someday the people you shared the time with may not be there and you will at least have a memory that you can use to bring them back.
  6. Remember that you love each other – And most of all, no matter the arguments, the disagreements, the bad days with your spouse or your children, remember that you love each other and care about what happens to them. You may not like them very  much at the moment, but remember your love and how you would feel if they weren’t there.

Not a short list, but something I wanted to share. I just hope my husband and I have another good 25 years together.

New Look for New Year

I decided that it had been a while since I had updated the site look and feel and I also needed to update the back end.  With some extra time over the Christmas holidays I spent some time updating the back end which allowed me to use a newer theme. Nothing super fancy but looks a bit spiffier than the theme I had been using.

And to get the New Year started on a happy note, thought I’d share this video of someone dancing. 🙂


Got to Dance – Happiness audition


Top Good Things for 2010 for Me

I read a suggestion today for creating a list of Top Good Things that happened in 2010. I thought this was a good idea and have come up with my own list. It was challenging to think of different good things since it can be easy to focus on the negative, especially in these times. But it was a good reminder of what is right in my life

  1. The business I am a part owner of survived a tough year – After a very good financial year in 2009 for the company I partly own, VDL-5 Technologies, 2010 saw a drop in the business income. Fortunately, we had done planning ahead and had some reserves set aside but we still had to do some cuts in our expenses. As a result, we have a strong team and have trimmed our costs. My partners and I have also increased our experience in business development and running the business so as prepare to start our 3rd year of business we have a bit more confidence than we did 3 years ago. We also were awarded a contract in December that will keep us going as we work on building our business.The year 2011 is looking like a brighter year in many ways.
  2. Developed confidence in myself for learning new things – As part of our business this year, my partners and I worked on business development and marketing. This required going to shows, meeting new people and providing information about our company. At the beginning of this year I was nervous about this activity but somehow during a conference I attended something clicked and I felt more confident about marketing our business. I think this occurred because I was able to view it as a technical problem to solve, which I’m more comfortable with, and not just a people problem, where I needed to talk with people. Once I shifted the problem to a framework I’m more comfortable with the marketing became easier.
  3. Lost weight last year and have kept it off for a year – Last year, due to stress and such, I lost weight. I was very happy with the result if not the process for losing the weight and I have worked to keep the weight off. I have gained a few pounds over the holidays, no surprise there, but in the last week I have cut back on my meals and continue walking at lunch and in the afternoon. I was happy to see some of the weight go away and hope to continue.

I do have other items that I consider good things for 2010 but thought this list was enough to share. And as I write this, I am reminded of a New Year’s memory from many years back that I will end this post with.

Many years ago, when I was a teenager, I was babysitting for a family on New Year’s Eve. We lived in Denver Colorado and at that time I still liked snow and cold. 🙂 It had been an uneventful evening, the children went to bed on time and the parents came back after the midnight hour. What I remember is walking home and a snow fall starting as I walked. Since it was 12:30 am/1:00 am, I was the only out and awake so it seemed I had the world to myself. I was struck with the realization that I was seeing the first snowfall for that new year and it seemed like a special gift. The small white flakes, quietly drifting down, a slight breeze and the utter quiet you can only find when it snows at night. I stood for a minute and just watched the snow for a moment before walking the rest of the way home. As I drove home from work today, under a clear, cold, evening sky I was reminded of this evening and how that memory still fills me with peace so many years later.

May your 2011 be filled with peace, joy and good health surrounded by family and friends.

Christmas Memories

With the holiday season in full swing I thought I would write about some of my Christmas memories. The earliest Christmas memory I have is when I think I was 4 years old. We lived in a rental house in Oklahoma on Chickasaw Avenue, which I loved to say because of how “Chickasaw” sounded. I thought the house was very cool, it had two stories and there was a whole wall of doors that opened into a closet. For some reason I was fascinated with all of those doors and how they opened up into this other room. I had a large bed and a toy box that my Dad built for me. I loved to climb in that toy box and hide in it, it was a very large box.

The house had a large fire place and I remember a tree next to it with presents. I don’t remember what all of the presents were but I do remember getting a baby doll from my aunt, a Suzie doll. At least I think she was a Christmas present, she might’ve been a birthday present since my birthday is that time of year. That doll became my favorite baby doll and I still have her up in a closet. She’s a bit worn, her hair was trimmed at one time, because I thought it was messy and I thought it would grow back after I cut it.  In spite of all of that, she was always my favorite baby doll.

A few Christmas’s later, at another house, my grandparents were visiting us. I very much wanted a set of bunk beds for my baby dolls so that I could put more than one of them in a bed. This was also a Christmas when I was wondering whether Santa Claus was real or not. I was tending to believe he wasn’t and that my parents had something to do with the gifts appearing under the tree but I still wasn’t sure. So I stayed awake and crept out to see what was happening in the living room. I could hear the adults talking but couldn’t see much or see if I the bunk beds I had wanted were out there. My Dad saw me and got angry, so I ran back to my room, somewhat upset. My grandma came back in a few minutes and told me that I could come out, so I came out and there were the bunk beds I wanted. Since I was up, the adults let me play with the bunk beds a few minutes before I was sent back to bed. But somehow I knew that Santa hadn’t brought the bunk beds and that my Dad had put them together. It was a little bit of a let down, losing some of the magic of Christmas, but I wasn’t too surprised either. Still a good Christmas, I got the bunk beds, along with some nice warm flannel blankets, so I was able to put my Suzie doll to bed and make sure she was nice and warm.

Another Christmas I remember getting up early with my brother and being very quiet while we checked out our presents under the tree. I had gotten a metal doll house, don’t remember what my brother got. I remember checking the dollhouse against the JC Penney catalog and wondering why it didn’t quite match. And there was always a little bit of disappointment in not getting everything I had put on my list. Which I had conveniently referenced to the toy section in the JC Penny catalog. The JC Penny catalog was one of the most eagerly awaited pieces of mail during that time of year. My brother and I would take turns going through the pages, circling what we wanted and noting down page numbers. If I remember correctly, if I had gotten everything I wanted, I don’t believe my room would have held all of the toys. We circled a lot of pages for the toys my brother and I wanted.

The biggest Christmas I remember is when I got a 3-speed bike and my brother got his train set. Bikes with more than one speed had just come out for regular use so it was a big item to ask for. And it had brakes on the handles, which was another cool factor. It was a Schwinn bike, a lime green color. A year ago I saw a green Schwinn bike that looked like a duplicate of that old bike, that certainly brought back memories. Didn’t have a banana seat or tassels from the handlebars but it was still cool.

Another big part of Christmas was decorating the tree. Most of our ornaments were made by my great grandmother or my grandmother. I now have some of these ornaments that my Mom gave me when I left home. The ornaments are a Styrofoam ball covered with fabric, beads, ribbons and pins. As the years went by, fabric from clothes for special occasions were used to cover the Styrofoam. So I have Christmas ornaments made with fabric from my wedding dress, a bridesmaid dress, my sister’s bridesmaid dress that she wore for my wedding and fabric I used to make a dress for a competition in 4-H. So each year when I decorate the tree I have many memories that come up as I hang each of these ornaments on the tree.

Just a few memories, there have been many good Christmas’s over the years. And each year I enjoy the colored lights, the Christmas songs and thinking about family and traditions. A Merry Christmas to everyone and may each one be merry and bright for you.