68 Years Of Great Living: Happy Birthday Terry

Today is a day to celebrate.  Terry Christenberry turns 68.  He lives a wonderful life, filled with travel, family and friends. IMG_4393 France IMG_3516 Great Britain DSC_0861 Cuba IMG_3584 Amsterdam It is, truly, a wonderful life.  Congratulations Mr. T.  You are the best. May your future be joyful and long.  May your family and friends love you as much as you love them.


The Beauty Of Amsterdam

We spent Thanksgiving in Amsterdam this year with the Rooijens, Meg and Jake.  It was a wonderful holiday.  We were fortunate to spend this uniquely U.S. holiday with our Dutch family.  We did not know it would be the last holiday we would share with Rudy. But it gives us quite special family memories.

Amsterdam is a city of great beauty.  the historic center represents elegance and power.


Even during Amsterdam’s winter season, flowers are in abundance.  The varieties are endless and the prices are quite modest.


Laura, Michel and Sophia live in a lovely urban apartment, with restaurants, markets and retail shopping to rival New York or Paris.


In the center of town, adjacent to the canals, we came upon this wonderful caravan which is, or could be, a home for a Roma/gypsy family.

While nothing like the kind of housing we have come to expect in the states.  It is quite lovely in its uniqueness.


Carmel By The Sea

There are few more scenic regions of the United States than Northern California.  Meg and I spent 3 glorious days driving through and photographing the California Coastline, visiting Carmel and driving along Big Sur.  As a mother, life doesn’t get much sweeter. As an amateur photographer, even my limited skills are bound to capture some of the beauty of the area.

This photograph of the bluffs, the water and the sky , is my favorite photograph from the trip.



Evening in Carmel has its own beauty.  The softer colors of the sun and sky at dusk are worth experiencing.

Sunset in Carmel

The Green Lantern was a bed and breakfast located an easy walking distance from the ocean and the downtown restaurants. Definitely a great place for mother-daughter bonding.


Sundays with Terry: The Flint Hills

In celebration of Labor Day Terry, Casey and I visited the Flint Hills. Following the “America’s By-Ways” route from Callaway, Ks. to Council Grove, we spent a day surrounded by evidences of a simpler way of life: small towns, coffee shops and two lane highways.


The grasslands, rolling hills and unassuming waterways are lovely, if not dramatic.


Abandoned houses seem just a little bit more exotic in the Flint Hills than when we see them in our own community.


Death comes as surely as anywhere else.

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Cataract Falls

Meg at one of the lower waterfalls on the Cataract Fall Trail.

Meg at one of the lower waterfalls on the Cataract Falls Trail.

Life is busy. Crazy busy. Luckily, Jake and I love exploring, and we had the perfect day last week to go on a little adventure. For our anniversary, Jake took the day off and we went for a hike up around Mt. Tam. Finding the trailhead to Cataract Falls was no easy feat, but we managed to find it just off a hairpin turn in the road. With just enough space along the side to park the jeep, we headed off for the ~3 mile hike, which was nearly straight up the whole way out.

After passing a small lake, the trail comes to the bottom of the first of seven waterfalls. We hiked a little ways up, and then we just couldn’t help but to scale the moss-covered rocks along the sides of one of the falls. Though we quickly discovered our need for better hiking/climbing shoes, it was definitely an exciting adventure. We’ll be back soon, I’m sure!

Another visit to Bodega Bay…my favorite place to watch the sunset

Life is pretty amazing here in California. Sure, there are the same stressors and time-consumers here as there are anywhere else, but the beauty of living in California is in enjoying the outdoors and natural wonders of the region. I love exploring this place, finding all the nooks and crannies that don’t show up on the “Top 10 Things to Do” list, and discovering what it is that gives this area the pulse of life that it exudes. While I’ve discovered many a nook, I have also found that some of the most amazing places are those visited by both local and tourist alike. In this case, I point to Bodega Bay and the Bodega Headlands as a perfect example of both locally and “touristically” admired beauty, where I frequently go to find peace and revel at the unmatched awe of the ocean.

You all know I love to take pictures of the ocean, and especially of sunset. Here, I’m trying a few newly discovered features on my E-PL1, including “pop art” and “diorama.” Enjoy.

Looking north along the coast, from the north side of the trailhead.

Looking north along the coast, from the north side of the trailhead.

Looking south along the coast, toward the Bodega Head parking lot and whale watching area.

Looking south along the coast, toward the Bodega Head parking lot and whale watching area.

For The Birds

Pelicans are among nature’s most unusual birds.  They look prehistoric, dinaourish in fact. Graceful in flight, pelicans are cartoonish on the land.

If you want to see pelicans up close and personal, visit Florida.  I photographed this handsome specimen at Lake Okeechobee.  Half the size of Rhode Island, Okeechobee is the largest fresh water lake in Florida.  For reasons unknown to me, tourism is nearly non-existent around the lake.  When we visited a nearly abandoned dock there were a dozen or more men and women fishing for supper.  The birds and the fishermen occupied the dock in harmony, presumably with the birds anticipating scraps of food.  It made it relatively easy to get a few photographs of these wonderful birds.  DSC_0153

Our Year In Review

2012 was a year of travel for Terry and me.  In addition, we began the year, and are ending the year, sharing special time with family. Central to that, of course, is the time we have spent with Meg and Jake.

In January Terry and I met Laura, Michel and Sophia in Siesta Key, Florida.  There is no question in my mind that Terry is happiest during times he spends with Sophia.  At age 3 (as of Dec. 19) she is the center of his life.  Sophia fit in well with the relaxed lifestyle of Florida.  She loved dancing to

IMG_0478Jimmy Buffet, eating ice cream with her granddad and walking the beach.

Our next family adventure was to IMG_0842Petaluma to visit Meg and Jake.  We drove through the wine country together and also had the pleasure of hanging out with John and Carole, Meg’s aunt and uncle.

Couldn’t ask for a better time!

Early in the year we decided to take a Chamber of Commerce trip to Cuba.  It was an exciting opportunity.  It was also the impetus for me to buy my Nikon camera.  I spent months becoming proficient enough to call myself an amateur!  But I did carry it with me throughout the year and between my Nikon and Meg’s Olympus, we have some fun photographs for our blog.

DSC_0078In addition to trying to relearn how to use a camera, I also continued my interest in family history.  Amazingly, my sister, Sherry, and I were able to put together a trip with our cousins to visit Norwich N.Y., where our Lewis ancestors are buried.  Having studied so much about them through the years it was exciting to find the cemetery where they are buried.   I also really treasure the time Sherry and I spent with our cousins after so many years apart.

Cuba was amazing. DSC_0862It is economically impoverished but so beautiful and culturally rich.  I feel truly fortunate to have been able to visit.

Meg and Jake love California.  Despite Jake’s heavy work schedule and Meg’s 9 months working non-stop on the presidential campaign, they have found time to explore California and grow to love it.

Meg and Jake spent Christmas in Kansas City with their dogs.  They arrived just in time to IMG_1544celebrate Jake’s 29th birthday.  Terry visited Amsterdam for Sophia’s 3rd birthday; Christina and Lee visited us for Thanksgiving and Terry spent Christmas eve with family in Texas.  The entire Mesle  clan was together for Christmas.  Four generations of the family celebrated the holiday together.  We had a rare and precious opportunity to be together and to spend time becoming acquainted with the newest members of the family.  I am so grateful.

As I write this post, I am mindful of the losses that have burdened the lives of family and close friends.  Jake’s much loved grandfather died this fall.  We have  lost way too many friends near and dear to us.  We cherish their memories and celebrate their lives.  We are better for having known them.  Their lives and their deaths remind us of the importance of treasuring our friends and family, appreciating the uniqueness of each of them, and letting them know the important place each of them have in our lives.

We wish each of you a joyous New Year.