Gift Giving: A Mystery Gift

The holidays are winding down. Presents have been opened. Returns are in full force. Expectations have been met. And some are left wanting. There are very special gifts purchased to honor that special person, and then there are gifts given to show that services are recognized. Gifts are exchanged with friends, and gifts are exchanged with acquaintances.

The following photographs were taken on other occasions I attended as a guest.

But this time I received a Christmas gift from a neighbor two houses down from me. They moved into the small court of 6 houses about 8 months ago. I had only spoken to the neighbor two or three times when I was out with my dog, and I never met his wife. Various cars come and go for a time, and this was explained to me that they provide housing for traveling nurses. Back to my gift. The day after Christmas on my doorstep I found an unwrapped gift with a piece of paper taped on it with our names. It was a plain brown set of blackout drapes.

Blackout drapes. My windows all have very visible wooden shutters. I am seriously stumped by this gesture. All I know of this neighbor is that he has two little white dogs that he says are barkers. I never see or hear the dogs. I didn’t even know his wife’s name. I’m surprised they knew my husband’s name

What am I to do? Send a thank you card for the blackout drapes. Wait till I see someone from the house out and about and thank him for the gift. I walk past the house to get my mail. Usually, my dog Moxie joins me but it is rare to see them.

The mystery still remains in my mind. Maybe the husband was told to deliver presents, and now the wife is searching for the drapes to hang in the bedroom. Maybe the husband didn’t want or like the plain brown design and rather than hang them up he got rid of them. Maybe he thought the gift was something else entirely. Or maybe they intended for me to have this pair of blackout drapes. Did they just finish watching “The Watchers” on Netflix, and they wanted me to be safe? But why a set of blackout drapes? Or maybe they wanted me to have something to write about in my blog about gifts?

Happy Holidays and a very Happy, Healthy, Peaceful New Year 2023!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #211 What’s your photographic groove?

Anne’s challenge this week is, “What’s my photographic groove? What type of photography do I truly enjoy doing?  I will show you wonderful images and tell you about them.

This challenge has me thinking. When I was enrolled and pursuing my Photography Certificate, I was exposed to many photographic experiences. My practical mother continued to ask me what I intended to do with my photography. One idea was to start a Pet Photography business. Another idea I had was to author a picture book. I had just retired from a Library/Teacher career of 25 years. I didn’t know way direction to take. Life happened. My parents and grandchildren needed my attention. By the time I finished 40+ credits I decided I was going to do photography on my own terms – for my own personal enjoyment. I didn’t need another job. So I guess you can say my photographic groove is “Focus”. I use my camera to help me see the world around me. I capture whatever I come across.

Often, my camera helps me connect to my surroundings. Sometimes nature, sometimes people, and sometimes taking a quirky look.

My camera connected me to a good group of friends. This group has taken me to many places and spaces in the area. Visits out of town to Niles, Ca. Trips to the Sacramento Zoo. Visiting a local urban micro Farm at End of the Road in Orangevale, Ca.

My photography helps me focus on the present, and preserve memories to reflect upon in the future.
I have been raising my second puppy in the past 2 1/2 years. Glad I have photos of my Charlie.

Puppies grow into dogs and seem to change overnight. Waiting for them to calm down may take just a bit longer. This is where my iPhone comes into play.


My 4 youngest grandchildren have moved back and forth from Sacramento, California to Knoxville, Tennessee (about 2500 miles). They returned last week for the third time in less than three years. Photos and FaceTime helped during these times of separation. I so enjoy my Nixplay digital frame.

But as of last Thursday, I can see my grandchildren in person. We celebrated the first day of TK and First Grade, and the last day of vacation for my 5th grader with some ice cream at Handels.

Great challenge. Sorry for the late post. I have been having “words” with my WordPress!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #206 Treasures

This week Aletta has chosen the topic Treasures. It can be wealth or riches like precious metals, money, jewels, or anything a person values greatly. I started out thinking of things that surrounded me in my home. I have a number of things that I collect: spoons, bears, and heart-shaped stones. I also have many things that my mother collected: crystal and tea cups. But after thinking about this topic I came to the conclusion that what I truly treasure are the memories that come with every item. Where I was, who I was with, and my experience. Or in the case of my inherited objects just thinking about my parents.

That is probably why photography itself is something that I treasure. It is not just capturing the perfect image, though that is an added bonus, but the experience, who was there to share it with, and taking the time to take in my surroundings. A quiet time, a fleeting moment, and a time to reflect.

But in order to appreciate much of these treasures, I depend upon my eyesight. I have inherited macular degeneration from my mother. By eighty her vision was severely limited, and this loss caused her to be dependent on others. The adjustment was hard. So far, I am doing well, but I can tell my left eye is not pulling its full weight. The human body adjusts and I have no limitations yet. So I am treasuring every moment I can get out with my friends and take photographs. I joke with my friends, and say when I can’t see can I still go out and pretend to take pictures?

I absolutely treasure my dogs. I waited so long for my first dog, Liberty because I wanted the time to be right to care for her. Charlie came next after the time had passed, and then I waited till he was born. But after he crossed over, he sent me my Moxie Love so I wouldn’t be without this companion. I am busy working to train Moxie so that she can come with me when I am out and about. My goal is to take the AKC Good Citizen Test at the end of the summer. In the future, I would like to visit assisted living communities.

There are families that have the quintessential family portrait, then there is my family. Currently, everyone is scattered. I have two married children and seven grandchildren. Grandchildren range in age from 2 years to 25 years old. Each child is a treasure in their own way. Maybe one day I will have a full family portrait, but I will not hold my breath.

This is a challenging blog to write. It does make me take time to appreciate the treasure time and the world around me. It is easy to get off track and think about day to day life. What do you treasure?

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #193 Birthdays

Maybe you had a special birthday anniversary, or you have a new birthday in the family. Do you celebrate your pet’s birthday? Maybe it’s a birthday of an organization, or of your blog. For this week’s challenge, John wants me to show you what is special to me about birthdays.

First birthdays are special. This is probably more true for the parents. After all most kids, especially first kids have no idea about what the fuss is all about. I was invited to my friend’s grandchild’s first birthday. You can tell who was blowing out the candle! The Birthday piñata added to the fun.

On another “First” birthday, I photographed my grandson’s Smash Cake! At first tentative, then he really got into the spirit of the Smash!

Delicious First Birthday
Here is another way to look at first birthdays!

Party decorations add to the festivities. But with my children, the reaction was often unexpected. I remember that my son was afraid of balloons.

Birthdays over the years.

Death by Chocolate is the name of this image

Birthdays often bring the family together. In the past couple of months, I helped celebrate two important birthday celebrations. In December, my sister-in-law invited us to Southern California to celebrate my brother’s 70th Birthday.

Celebrating with my brothers.

The next very important birthday celebration brought many relatives together. Ed and Leti joined us in Sacramento to help my Israeli cousin’s grandson celebrate his Bar Mitzvah. I knew I have cousins in Israel, but the family lost touch. I last saw my cousin when I was 17 and visiting Israel. Through Ancestry.com, his son located and called me and let me know that he and his family lived close by for this year only.

A solemn occasion for a young man at 13
Wait for me family!
First Cousins
Together again.
Fun times

Now I do celebrate my pet’s birthdays also!

Found this graffiti at the beach. My first dog was named Liberty “Libby”

Last year I celebrated Charlie’s first birthday. Sadly, this was his only birthday.

Charlie’s first birthday

April 30th will be MOXIE’s first birthday. I am starting to get ready. Picked up some special treats. On the lookout for some interesting toys. Just discovered non-toxic peanut-flavored bubbles for dogs. Might be interesting. Thinking of photo elements for her birthday picture. Bows? Signage? What would a smash cake look like? Or better still, how long would it last? Again, like first birthdays she won’t know why all the fuss, but I will have some fun!

Have fun on your next birthday! Let me know how you celebrate it!