S is for Scrapbooking

S is for Scrapbooking

People sometimes act surprised when I tell them I like to scrapbook. To be honest, I don’t scrapbook as often as I used to or as often as I should. I do like to go to scrapbooking getaways though. Scrapbooking getaways are when a group of scrapbookers get away from home, sometimes overnight, and scrapbook.  I like to go with my cousin, which makes it more fun. I usually do just a little scrapbooking while I’m at these getaways. I spend more time writing, reading, and editing. It’s just nice to get away from the house and have time devoted to my creative interests, whether that includes writing or scrapbooking or just hanging out.

As I write this, I am at one of these getaways. There are lots of women here. All kinds of women… younger, older, loud, quiet (I fall in the “quiet” category), night owls, early risers, some who snore loudly, and some who bring earplugs so they can sleep. I bring earplugs. DSC_0421[1]

There’s always good food and, of course, wine. That makes the less quiet women more likable in my book.

This weekend has been mostly an editing weekend for me, but I did manage to put a few cards together. They turned out looking decent and best of all, I can give them away.

And look. On my computer, you can see that I am writing this very blog post. Crazy, isn’t it?

Anyway. That’s all I have for the letter S. On to T.

R is for Reconciliation

R is for Reconciliation

Reconcile (verb)= to restore to friendship, compatibility, or harmony

Reconciliation (noun)=  the action of reconciling or state of being reconciled

Source: Merriam-Webster Unabridged

The practice of peace and reconciliation is one of the most vital and artistic of human actions.
~Nhat Hanh

The overall purpose of human communication is – or should be – reconciliation. It should ultimately serve to lower or remove the walls of misunderstanding which unduly separate us human beings, one from another.
~M. Scott Peck, The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace

Chimps are very quick to have a sudden fight or aggressive episode, but they’re equally as good at reconciliation.
~Jane Goodall

Q is for Quetzal

Q is for Quetzal

A Quetzal is a type of bird found in Central America and Mexico. They have beautiful feathers. I don’t want to use someone else’s copyrighted image of a Quetzal; that would be wrong. I also can’t take my own photo of a Quetzal because I don’t live in Central America or Mexico. But don’t worry! Luckily for you, I have a paint program on my computer, and with it, I can “paint” Quetzals. Without further ado, I present to you my very own rendition of a Queztal.

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Not going to quit my day job. And this took up way too much of my time.

P is for Planning

P is for Planning

PI am the first to admit, I am horrible at planning. It’s not that I don’t have goals. It’s not that I’m lazy… okay, sometimes it is. I guess it’s not a priority to me. I’m sure those who are reading this who are planners have a hard time understanding that concept.

I don’t remember dates, so if I plan too far ahead, I will absolutely forget. For example, hair appointments. Instead of scheduling my next appointment while I’m still at the salon, I just wait until my hair is unbearable and then call to schedule an appointment… preferably for that day.

Sometimes plans change, so I take a proactive stance and wait to see if an event is really going to happen before I commit to it.

I’m not going to lie. Life would be simpler if I took some time to plan ahead and being open to improving my life, I plan to plan more. One area I will start planning more faithfully is in figuring out ahead of time what my kids need to do for their school work that day. Then I can write it down and they don’t have to keep asking, “What should I do next?” I used to plan a week at a time when I was teaching, and that worked pretty well. I should try it with homeschooling.

Okay, now I plan to finish this so I can go ahead and plan something for the letter Q.

Thanks for stopping by!

O is for Oak Trees

IMG_8763I love trees. I admit, I hug trees—literally. I always have. We moved a lot when I was growing up, but I remember one house we lived in had a great climbing tree in the front yard. I spent hours in that tree; I would read on its branches, think, and conjure up stories I hoped to one day write.

Even my pen name, Eila Oakes, is a product of my love for trees… especially oak trees. One of the meanings of Eila is tree, or oak tree. Oakes, well, I don’t need to explain that.

The only trees I don’t like are palm trees. But that’s just because they are invasive to the natural landscape where I live. Palm trees in their native environment are lovely. It bothers me when I’m hiking, surrounded by beautiful, old, knobby oaks… then all of a sudden, there is a massive palm tree growing in the middle of it all. Go home, palm tree. You’re drunk.

Anyway, this is supposed to be be about oak trees because I’m on the letter O. I guess I can continue my gripes about palm trees when I write for the letter P, but I probably won’t.

I live in southern California, and I’m sure most people know that the state is in the middle of a drought. The drought, along with a deadly pest from Guatemala, called the Gold-Spotted Borer, has been taking out many of our beautiful, native oaks. This makes me sad. As it is, I don’t want to live in California. Being here would be unbearable to me without the option to get away and be surrounded by the trees I love so much.

What is your favorite tree?

N is for Nature

N is for Nature

I was baptized as a Roman Catholic when I was a baby, probably because my mom’s family was Catholic. We only went to church on Easter and Christmas, so it’s fair to say I was not raised in a Catholic environment.

By the time I was eight, I was attending a strong Protestant church with my stepmother’s family. So, what I’m saying is I know very little about Catholicism. I know even less about the saints of Catholicism. The only saint I know even a little about is Saint Francis de Assisi and what I know of him, I like him. I identify with the person he was said to be when it comes to nature.

I feel closest to God when I’m in nature. More than in any other setting, my heart is filled with gratitude when I am surrounded by trees, rocks, sky, animals… things not made by people. Saint Francis de Assisi was said to have been a man very much in tune to nature. He believed nature was made to praise its creator. He believed in protecting it and was said to have a unique bond with nature and animals.

He wrote the following hymn, which wasn’t published until 400 years after his death. I’ve never heard it before, so I don’t know how it sounds, but I do love the words. Enjoy!

All creatures of our God and King,
lift up your voice and with us sing:,
alleluia, alleluia!
O burning sun with golden beam,
and shining moon with silver gleam,
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

O rushing wind so wild and strong,
white clouds that sail in heaven along,
alleluia, alleluia!
New rising dawn in praise rejoice;
you lights of evening find a voice:
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Cool flowing water, pure and clear,
make music for your Lord to hear:
alleluia, alleluia!
Fierce fire, so masterful and bright,
providing us with warmth and light.
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Earth ever fertile, day by day
bring forth your blessings on our way;
alleluia, alleluia!
All flowers and fruits that is you grow,
let the his glory also show;
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

All you who are of tender heart,
forgiving others, take your part;
alleluia, alleluia!
All you who pain and sorrow bear,
praise God and on him cast your care;
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Let all things their Creator bless,
and worship him in humbleness,
alleluia, alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
and praise the Spirit, Three in One:
O praise him, O praise him,
alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

M is for Mom Plays Minecraft

M is for Mom Plays Minecraft

Once again, I am behind schedule with the A-Z Challenge. I have a lot of catching up to do.

This will be short and… well, short.

Minecraft is fun. My kids got me into it and now the whole family plays. Just for fun, I’ll share some of the screenshots I took recently of my Minecraft world.

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I’m collecting chickens. Yes, those square things are chickens.
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My player (MCMom70) surrounded by chests… and chickens.
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A Minecraft sunset.

L is for Lucky

L is for LuckyL

Luck (noun): a purposeless, unpredictable, and uncontrollable force that shapes events favorably or unfavorably for an individual, group, or cause (source: Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary)

I don’t really believe in “luck” as it is defined above. If I am going to analyze words, I have to say that fortunate would probably be the better word for me to use. But people relate to the word “lucky” and it’s a big part of our vernacular, so I use it.

Fortunate (adjective): receiving some unforeseen or unexpected good or some good not dependent on one’s own efforts  (source: Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary)

Here is just one way I feel “lucky” tonight. I posted on my Facebook wall that I needed suggestions for the letter “L” for my blog post. What followed was a lengthy string of comments by numerous Facebook friends. Some suggestions were serious and some were funny. I had fun laughing and discussing the suggestions… and it felt good.

I couldn’t help but think how I am blessed… fortunate… lucky to have so many people who are willing to take time out of their night to laugh with me and engage in fun dialogue with me (and each other).

No one suggested the word “lucky,” but that’s how I felt when it was all said and done… lucky!

K is for Kish

K is for Kish

In my last post, the one for the letter J, I wrote about the pros and cons of having the surname “Jones.” Jones is my married name. My maiden surname is Kish.

Simple, right? Four letters… rhymes with fish, dish, wish… it’s probably a good name for a Dr. Seuss book.

Look, oh look! Oh look, little fish.
I think I see a Sara Kish!
Why is she bathing in a dish?
Hear the water go swish, swish, swish?
Put some clothes on, Sara Kish!

I didn’t really like growing up with this name. First of all, no one could pronounce it right. For some reason, people often think it’s pronounced the same way as quiche. As far as how to spell it? I’ve seen all sorts of crazy interpretations. Kirsh, Kisch, Kiss (yep, I’ll talk about “kiss” in a moment), Kush

Then there were the kids at school who thought it was funny to call me “Sara Kiss.”

Or they’d say things like, “Can I kish you?”

Fortunately, the teasing was mostly harmless, but I was a little self conscious about it.

Now, before anyone judges me for not liking my family name—the name that my beloved father bestowed on me and my siblings—know that Kish wasn’t even supposed to be my last name. My dad’s mom married five times. Her first husband, and my dad’s birth father, had the last name Beitlich (pronounced Bite-lick). Honestly, I prefer Kish.

“First I’ll bite you then I’ll lick you…”

Yeah, that would have been a fun one at school.

When my dad joined the Navy as a young man, he decided he didn’t want to use his birth father’s last name, so he chose the last name of his favorite stepfather. The story is that he scratched out his real last name on his birth certificate and wrote in “Kish.” I’m not so sure about the truth of that story, but maybe back then you could do things like that to official documents and get away with it.

However it was accomplished, my dad officially became Dale Kish. An English, German, Scandinavian man with a Hungarian-Jewish surname.

Since the name is not common, anyone who knew my family placed me right away.

“Oh, you’re Dale Kish’s daughter, aren’t you?” 

or, “Ohhh… you’re _________ Kish’s little sister…”

or, “I didn’t know you’re ____________ Kish’s big sister!”

Some sibling associations were positive and some weren’t, depending on the sibling.K

I always wished I could have a cool Irish name like O’Something or McAnother, but in the long run, it didn’t matter; I lived with Kish for 24 years, and I survived, so it must not have been too bad.