And you know what that means... lots of packing, rearranging and unpacking again. I'm moving my blog to the address below... Stop by for a visit?! I think you're going to like what you see!!!

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"My world through a shutter" - 5 new articles

  1. I'm moving!!!
  2. What my soul has been thinking about...
  3. Wine tasting in Paso Robles
  4. on today's news of Osama's demise...
  5. Garden report: I'll soon be in iris heaven
  6. More Recent Articles

I'm moving!!!

And you know what that means... lots of packing, rearranging and unpacking again.

I'm moving my blog to the address below...

Stop by for a visit?! I think you're going to like what you see!!!


What my soul has been thinking about...

Over the past few months I've had this “picture” pop up in my head a few times: Two friends (walking or standing) content to have found friendship in each other, trusting the other... the part that stands out is the fact that these friend's elbows are interlocked.

Stop for a minute and think about that.

When was the last time you stood next to a friend, and simply just stood there, interlocked at the elbows? Was it at a wedding? Was it your sister? Your best buddy? How old were you? 5? 37? Were you laughing? Smiling? Crying? Was it comfortable? Uncomfortable? Too close for comfort?

Or would allowing someone to get that close be considered “invading your personal space”?

That's me. I have a great need for my own personal space. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I consider you a uniquely special individual if you are allowed into my personal space. For your own personal reference, my personal space consists of a 3 foot circumference all the way around me. I realize that makes me sound like a jerk. I apologize in advance. And I’m working on that.

Can you tell I'm a little protective of my personal space?

Well, this “picture” keeps coming back to me. And I'm still not sure what it is supposed to mean. Is there some deep personal meaning I should be taking from this?

If I could for a minute, let me give you a little background... I'm a tom-boy. I remember that as a kid I would have much rather played outside (or played board games or created something) instead of "playing dolls" or "dress up" or pretending to be a princess. That said, I had more BOY friends than GIRL friends. I can count on 1 hand the number of girl friends I had growing up. And admittedly, I cannot recall if I ever locked elbows with any of these friends.

Don't get me wrong, I had a lot of fun times with friends. Look at my childhood and teenage pictures and you'll see I enjoyed time with my friends. There were a lot of good memories. But... the elbows? Really?! That's just too close!

So what does this reoccurring “picture” mean? I'm not sure. Is it a sign that I need to have more close girl friends? Maybe. Is it a sign that my friendships would benefit from more intimacy? Maybe. Is it a sign that my soul is hungry for more of these friendships? Maybe.

First time this “picture” hit me:

It is about a friend I will refer to as “Christie” – she knows who she is. We've known each other for a couple years. We've enjoyed a fun road trip together with other girlfriends. We've laughed and cried and gotten in trouble together. We get each other's odd (and sometimes rude) sense of humor (admittedly, that's kinda scary). I was looking forward to spending time with her one weekend, several months back. Since then we have started a weekly (almost) Bible study. Have we yet walked around with locked elbows? No. But I would say we have established a great friendship. I would do anything for her.

I told her about the “picture”. At least I tried. I stood there in front of her, attempting to explain. Then, in a moment of wondering if she was understanding me, I grabbed her arm and locked elbows (as if physically showing her was going to make her see the same picture?!). She looked at me weird.

Second time seeing this “picture”

I think it just happened in passing. I cannot recall that there was any friend in mind, specifically. But there it was again. What is the meaning of this picture???

Third time seeing this “picture”

When running into someone I would call an "acquaintance", I will call her by her initials “A.P.” My friend – I believe you will know who you are when reading this description: We've only spoken a handful of times, at church. I'm an avid reader of her blog. From what I can tell, her blogging policy is "complete transparency" (which I LOOOOVE). She shares her hopes, dreams, disappointments, greatest joys, etc. Her writing is very candid – which is so inspiring! Her regular posts have made me laugh and cry.

But are we “close”? No. So why did I see that picture again? I don't know. Do I feel a connection with her tied to her blogging transparency? Maybe. Is that weird? Maybe. Is it meant for she and I to spend more time together? Maybe. Does this indicate that I have a hunger for transparency? Maybe.

Then it all came together when @revchico asked: “Some ideas satisfy the mind but not the soul and soon become obsolute. What is your soul thinking about today?”

Without even stopping to think about it this is my response: “That longing to have close personal relationships with Christ and other Christians. To be true and honest and vulnerable and supportive and full of grace towards our family in Christ.”

But let me expound on that a bit more, if I might: That answer doesn’t even touch the surface of why my soul is thinking about. I want so much more than that. I want true community. (After all, we were made for community.) I am longing for true ‘til-the-day-I-die relationships. I am longing for friendships that are loving, supportive and forgiving. I am praying for TRUE godly friendships… where we can support each other, hold each other accountable (without hurt feelings), serve each other, enjoy a good belly-laugh with each other and simply sit in silence together. I long for friendships where we can cry together, be mad together (if the occasion calls for it), go to bat for each other and celebrate life together. I want us to grow together, become better friends and individuals because of each other, and live life together.

I want the absence of religious beliefs. I want the absence of judgmental attitudes. I want the absence of mistrust. I want the absence of past hurts haunting our futures together and individually.

More than anything I recognize that I need to get out of my own way and just be sincere and true and authentic. And what a thing to ask of my friends (and myself): to be sincere and true and authentic. Talk about trust… what a humbling thought. After all, I have often failed at this. Why would anyone trust me enough to be vulnerable with me?!

All we can do, each of us, is take the first step…

Walk with me? Tell me about yourself, your dreams, your fears, your hurts, your joys… and please bear with me. I might mess up at some point. And because of that I’m going to need your support and love and forgiveness.

Who’s with me?

In response to the above blog a friend asked “But some of the things you want absent are the very things that make us who we really are ;-)”

So let’s take another look at what I said:

“I want the absence of religious beliefs. I want the absence of judgmental attitudes. I want the absence of mistrust. I want the absence of past hurts haunting our futures together and individually.”

So to my friend who asks the good questions: I completely agree, 100%!!! I guess instead of sharing the “What I don’t want…” message what I should have said is more like this:

“Even if we still fall into our ‘resounding religious beliefs’, revert to our judgmental attitudes, fall into our patterns of mistrust or even by allowing past hurts to haunt our futures together… let’s support each other to be healthier, more trusting, more forgiving individuals/family members/friends. We’re still going to fail. And when that happens we’re still going to need good friends by our side.”


Wine tasting in Paso Robles

On Memorial Day we packed up the car and headed north ... final destination Pismo Beach. Other stops included: Santa Barbara, Arroyo Grande, Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo and of course Paso Robles...

Every now and then I get a longing to drive through these rollings hills where I once lived... my childhood full of memories of beach days, camping trips, playing with frogs in the creek and that sweet feeling of surrender... so we made it happen! After MUCH deliberation we planned our trip... and wouldn't trade it for the world!

So today I am finally getting around to blog about our wine tasting tour through Paso Robles...

We parked downtown Paso Robles and waited for the The Wine Line bus to pick us up. How does The Wine Line work? Well, like a true tour bus...

Of course you can check out their website for the full story.

Lori Jean's version? Riders can hop off the bus at any vineyard or tasting room, hang out for a while, and then hop back on the bus when they're ready to move on to the next stop... and for the record, they are THE best way to experience Paso Robles' vineyards!

Since we'd never been through wine country in Paso Robles before we let them suggest which vineyards we should stop at and in which order. There was 1 additional couple on the bus with us... and we all just tagged along and enjoyed the day together. Afterall, we do love talking to strangers, meeting new people and finding out what we have in common... it was a perfect day!

Come with us on the pictorial review of our tour... ?

How wine tasting works in Paso Robles
As we visited various vineyards we found each vineyard has a different deal on prices for tasting. One place gave us 5 free tastings, another let us try ALL 10 of their wines for $3 and others were the standard $5 for 5 tastings. And yet another waived the tasting fee if we bought a bottle of wine.

You see, the proprietors want you to taste their wine in hopes that you'll buy wine (and buy a lot of it). Obviously they don't make much on selling tastings... they make their money by selling wine. (And sending people like us home share pics and talk about how great the wine is, friendly the vineyard staff is and how priceless an experience it all was!)

We started at Castoro Cellars ... where we learned they are currently bottling the "Coastal" brand for Trader Joe's. (note to self!)

The vineyard and grounds look like you'd expect a vineyard to look like. There is a long walkway up to the tasting room, rolling hills of vineyards, a large patio with chairs and tables placed strategically to enjoy the view, bundles of California poppies and lavendar speckling the planters and large empty barrels sitting about.

The tasting room was as comfortable as my imaginary italian aunt's home ... the walls painted in warm yellow tones and rich cabinetry... sofas and chairs and a big fireplace. Our Wine Line Guide was right... this was the perfect place to start!

While I had been wine tasting once or twice at local tasting rooms my hero-of-a-hubby has not. So we asked for the beginner's tour at our first vineyard stop. The friendly wine steward took her time to help us become comfortable with the "in's and out's" of tasting. She explained "how" flavors work, how to taste, how to ALWAYS ignore the first sip and to judge the wine off of the second taste.

She was patient with us, funny, knowledgable and excited about 2 particular wines that we couldn't wait to taste!

We tried 5 wines for FREE and bought a 2007 Zinfusion (this was not her favorite - but it WAS in our price range). Perfect way to start the tour!

I took a gander through their shop and stopped briefly in front of the syrups, jams, marinades, etc.

I could literally sit here all day... but alas, this is the just the beginning. We had several more hours of this.

So I kept walking...

Afterall, this is just the first stop!

We came, we tasted, we conquered! Time to hop back in the bus and move on to vineyard/tasting room #2...

Tasting #2 at Zenaida Cellars - surrounded by yet another awe-inspiring view from the patio...

This tasting room had a completely different feel to it... dark black-brown painted cabinetry, antiqued gray-tan walls, blue neon lights hanging from the ceiling. Just felt a bit more "cool" and updated, like a downtown loft.

We enjoyed 5 wines for a small fee... and took home their Zc Red. While my hubby was paying our bill I took the opportunity to stroll around their property a bit...

And you guessed it, again I found that I wanted to sit here all day!

But no sitting was going to be done quite yet. I just couldn't... afterall, it's only noon! We've got some more touring and tasting to do! Let's get a wiggle on...

Tasting #3 - (admittedly, my favorite stop of the day)... AronHill Vineyards

We drove up, climbed out of the van and saw THIS view...

Now THIS?! THIS is where I was going to sit for a while.

I mean, can you blame me?! Look at that view! It was a perfect 71 degrees outside with a slight breeze and we were among fantastic company!

Our Wine Line guide brought out the pre-ordered lunches (sandwich, potato salad and fruit) as we were treated to a remarkable wine tasting affair.

It is apparent that Judy, the proprietor of Aron Hill Vineyards, is in love with what she does on a daily basis! Not only did she personally deliver our tastings and talked to us about each wine... but she had a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye that showed me she has found her passion in life and is living it outloud!

Can I tell you how much I love that?!

We sat, enjoyed lunch, enjoyed 5 tastings and took in this view...

We didn't rush to get up and Nic, our Wine line guide, talked to us about the history of this region, how certain aspects of the wine industry work and his personal travels.

We brought home a bottle of the best wine we'd tasted all day, Judy's 2006 Primitivo and two pieces of her stemware.

We helped ourselves to a self-guided tour of her new tasting room (it opened less than a month ago), which included her new shiny (and fully-stocked) chef's kitchen where they will soon start preparing/selling food for lunches, etc. I noted she had a few panini presses and said "Oh - we'll be back!"

Let it be known - the tour could have been over at this point. My expectations had been greatly exceeded and the rest of the day paled in comparison... (sorry in advance to the next 2 vineyards, I'm just sayin'... )

Tasting #4 at Norman Vineyards ... known for their Monster Zinfandel. We brought home 2 bottles...

It was obvious they were cat lovers (that's neither a good or bad thing) ... not to mention the company logo.

I enjoyed strolling around their property with my camera, and of course with the cats following every move...

And it was time to get back in the bus...

Tasting #5 at Rotta Winery... the oldest family-owned winery in San Luis Obispo county.

As soon as I walked in I wondered if I was on the set of "Will & Grace". Why? Our wine steward was the spittin' image of Karen! Rather weird and comical all at the same time... but I didn't say anything to her until the end.

On one end of the bar was a group of 3 guys who had obviously been drinking (oh, rather "tasting") for a good portion of the day (and one who smelled pretty ripe, I might say)... these boys were "good ol' boys" and were giving the wine steward quite the trouble. But it was all in fun...

Here we enjoyed a taste of each of their wines (I think a dozen of them?) for $3! Yes, only $3. We were definitely feeling our wine at this point...

Look at all those awards! They wanted us to TASTE what made them so good!

Ugh... it was now about 4:30 pm and we had been "tasting" since 11 am. Phew... I needed to sit down again (while I'm on that subject - why don't these tasting rooms have chairs to sit in?!)... but the tv show look-alike was keeping us on our toes!

We brought home the 2007 Estate Zinfandel... she explained that this was the reason we came in today. And she was right! It's pretty darn fantastic!

As we said our goodbyes at Rotta I asked the wine steward if anyone had ever mentioned her uncanny resemblance to Karen of "Will & Grace"... she laughed out loud (just like Karen, of course) and said "NO - but I love it!"

Then we hopped back in the bus, rehydrating with WATER and took the leisurely drive back into town... and our thoughtful and helpful Wine Line driver dropped us at a dinner locale downtown Paso Robles, just about a block from where we had parked. We slowly ate dinner, drank WATER and chatted over the favorite's of the day, how we were impressed with the whole experience, etc.

We eventually walked back towards the truck and made our way back to our hotel in Pismo Beach.

We talked about how glad we were to have been able to experience this, and dreamed about how soon we can come back! We are glad we toured Paso Robles for our first wine tasting tour together... it was a complete experience!

(And we have half of a case of wine to prove it! Sheesh!)

Best part of it, my hero-of-a-hubby and I haven't gotten away (just the two of us) for quite a number o years. We relished in the opportunity to reconnect, dream and relax together. What a treat...

And I leave you with this...

“When wine enlivens the heart, may friendship surround the table.” - Oliver Wendell Holmes

life is good...


on today's news of Osama's demise...

Mixed emotions today…
Is the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death cause for celebration?
Is it relief that I feel? That a global terrorist can no longer wreak havoc?
Is it sadness I feel? That the world is rejoicing in someone’s death?

Whatever it is… we all lived through the horrendous, scary, life-altering attacks on 9/11. Most of us remember exactly where we were when we got the news of the first plane crashing into the Tower. We were speechless as we watched the second plane fly into the second tower. We cried, we got angry… we all dealt with that day in or own ways.

And now this… we’re all processing the news of OBL’s death in our own way, in our own timing, according to our own perspective and through our own filters.

What if?
We happened to be watching Fox News when Geraldo made his giddy announcement “Osama bin Laden is dead!” The inappropriate nature of his response immediately brought up a check in my soul. ::: Is he really celebrating someone’s death?! ::: Next he said something like “This is the greatest night of my career!” ::: Is he really making this about him?! ::: And the longer we watched the more I knew I couldn’t keep watching. As a Christian, it didn’t feel right to be victorious in someone’s demise, no matter how evil he was.

What if Geraldo had reacted differently? Imagine… what if he had delivered a message more like this: “US Military forces have seen to it that FBI’s Most Wanted global terrorist can no longer plan mass murders and kill any of our loved ones. Following the President’s orders, he has been taken by force and did not survive.”
Would the tone of last night’s news have been a bit different? Maybe. But we will never know.

Instead we will react to this news, feel emotions and process it the only way we each know how to… and that looks different for each of us.

Do me a favor?
If someone blogs / tweets / updates their Facebook status or starts up the water cooler conversation with a point of view that doesn’t necessarily match your own belief system please remember that their words are more about how THEY are processing this emotional news than how they think their 436 readers or co-workers SHOULD be processing the news. Please, please… don’t turn their point of view around to attack that person for their beliefs or morals… and please don’t argue with the person… that’s what got us here in the first place.

If you do anything in the next few months, as our country processes these changes, please be gracious and allow your fellow American citizen, family of a service member and/or family member of someone who died in 9/11 to process this in their own time, in their own way.

That’s why we’re here… to be with each other, help each other, stand beside each other… not tear each other down.

And that’s just my two cents on the topic…

But I can't help but wonder how God views all of this, because of a verse I shared a few months ago. We may never know...

Psalm 11
For the director of music. Of David.

1 In the LORD I take refuge.
How then can you say to me:
“Flee like a bird to your mountain.

2 For look, the wicked bend their bows;
they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows
at the upright in heart.

3 When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”

4 The LORD is in his holy temple;
the LORD is on his heavenly throne.
He observes everyone on earth;
his eyes examine them.

5 The LORD examines the righteous,
but the wicked, those who love violence,
he hates with a passion.

6 On the wicked he will rain
fiery coals and burning sulfur;
a scorching wind will be their lot.

7 For the LORD is righteous,
he loves justice;
the upright will see his face.


Garden report: I'll soon be in iris heaven

Spring brings daily surprises... and so I think I'm outside more during spring to expect and watch for those surprises. Hence, the season is fighting with Fall for my devotion as "favorite season" (not that us Californians experience much in the way of 'seasons'). Completely understandable, right?!

So, I've learned a lot about the iris in the past 5 months. Several months ago I participated in a plant swap and received about a dozen iris rhizomes with one of the nicest "complete strangers" I've ever met. Now, wishing we had stayed in contact...

Ayway, I decided to do a blog post on the life cycle of an iris...

What is a rhizome?

Above is a picture of a spent iris plant. The rhizome is "a characteristically horizontal stem of a plant that is usually found underground, often sending out roots and shoots from its nodes. Rhizomes may also be referred to as creeping rootstalks or rootstocks." All sorts of plants grow from rhizomes instead of seeds. And it's quite a rad process. (Yes, I said rad!)

In the picture above you'll see that it looks dead and dried out. Well, the stock above the rhizome is, yes, quite dried out. The nicest-stranger-I've-ever-met probably cut off the blossom and left the green leaves on the plant to die. Once the rhizome blossoms, it's done blossoming for that season. With irises, each rhizome will produce one blossom per season. Depending on the variety of plant you can place the rhizomes very close to each other when planting, and it will make a dramatic effect in the springtime.

Before I placed the donated rhizomes in the ground I trimmed off the dead leaves (from the top of the rhizome) and the dead roots (from the bottom of the rhizome). And while the rhizome itself looks dead (because it's brown), it's just dormant.

Do I have a viable rhizome?
On the contrary, you'll know when a rhizome is dead if it's soft and very mushy to the feel when you pinch it in between your thumb and forefinger. If it has held it's shape and simply looks brown - it's probably still viable. So clean 'er up a bit and put her in the soil! That's her happy place!

In the picture above you'll see that she's all cleaned up and getting ready for the party...

And in the above picture you'll see, in the middle at the bottom of the picture, that this one is already starting to send up a shoot!!! (See it curving out from the rhizome?!) I better get this gem in the ground!

This Spring I planted 3 types of rhizomes...
- The donated rhizomes ... I don't know yet what kind of irises they will produce
- Dutch iris ... that will produce a very bright purpleish/blueish flower.
- Bearded irises ... that will produce a pink flower with ruffly edges.

Another note on rhizomes... they come in all shapes and sizes. And the longer they've been in the ground they'll have grown more nodes (mishapen growths around the original portion of the rhizome). As you can see in this picture, the Dutch Iris rhizomes are very small compared to the donated rhizomes which look like they've been around for quite a while!

The bearded iris blossom is much larger than the Dutch Iris... and the rhizomes are larger as a sign of it. Interesting, eh?!

When/How to plant iris rhizomes
I'm planting these three in a pot instead of what is in the ground in the yard. I got these planted late, so not sure they'll blossom. But, hey... why not try?!

Rhizomes apparently don't like to be wet. (But they do need soil and water to grow.)

This pot of rhizomes will sit in the direct sunlight for several hours a day. Plant the fatter end of rhizome down in the ground, with the thinner end up.

Top with some more soil and give it some water. Place it in a nice warm/hot location with lots of sun.

Some websites/books/people will tell you that it's best to let the rhizomes just BARELY sit in the soil and they'll be fine. But we have cats and creatures in our back yard that sometimes move things (and even walk away with things)... so I'm securing mine a bit more down into the soil. The soil will settle in around the rhizomes and expose a bit more of the top over the next week or so...

From what I read elsewhere there really is no wrong way to do this when it comes to rhizomes. They shoots somehow naturally know how to find the sun... it's an amazing thing! And so beautiful!

Fast forward
And this is what the shoots from the larger rhizomes (donated and/or bearded iris) look like several months later. These have not yet blossomed, and I do not yet see buds growing up from the rhizome. I think they are late to blossom because I planted them a month or two later than usual. And we've had an extra cold winter... anyway, soon... I hope to see buds and blossoms very soon! (And yes, of course, I will keep you posted when they do.)

In the meantime, the Dutch iris are getting ready to blossom! YAY!!! The green leafy shoots popepd up a couple weeks ago. That show is then followed by the little buds... which will take a couple weeks to completely grow to height and then blossom.

This little bud, the first little bud, just made my day!!!

I can't wait to watch their show of beauty in the next couple weeks!

And above is showing how I clipped that first flower... I cut the blossom about an inch above the ground and left the green leafy part in tact. The leaf will continue to collect "juice" from the sun and continue to feed the rhizome. They will naturally die off and at that point I'll clip them back to 1 inch from the ground as well.

The rhizomes will then stay in the ground, hibernating... waiting for their next show, next Spring sometime!

Oh, the cycle of life!

life is good...


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