Day 62: Yard Sale Walk!

Today Is Day 62 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

There were three yard sales in progress along my walking route today. I was reminded that Papa loved bargains and enjoyed helping my family host a “garage sale” each year.  I stopped at each sale to see what treasures they held. Shakespeare

One had a beautiful, leather-bound volume of the complete works of William Shakespeare. Did you know that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) offers the complete works of Shakespeare online for free here:

Another yard sale had a variety of camping equipment and at least 10 coolers of various shapes and sizes. I wondered if the owners had given up on camping in the wilderness in favor of backyard campouts. Families need a lot less gear to have fun according to this article with 14 ideas for camping out in your backyard.

At the final yard sale the pickings were sparse, but I was amused by a toddler girl who had found some pink, sheer lingerie and was holding it aloft, twirling about on the lawn. So. Darn. Cute.  🙂



Days 60 & 61: Dahlias & Pinwheels!

Yesterday and Today Were Days 60 and 61 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.   Dahlia

Yesterday, my friend, Suzanne, and I took a 2.4 mile walk with her dog, Leela. Suzanne spotted a beautiful, bright red dahlia flower (see picture at right that she took with her iPhone). Dahlias are cited as a birth flower for the month of August.

Today, as I walked alone, I noticed more dahlias in bloom and three garden pinwheel toys spinning in the summer breeze. Did you know that dahlia flowers and pinwheel toys have something in common?

mars dahliaAccording to the School of the Seasons blog, the dahlia originated in Central America. One version of the flower is called the dahlia pinnata, referring to its pinwheel-like shape. (See picture at left.) You can learn about the fascinating legend and lore about every birth-month flower at the website.

I found it serendipitous that a flower named for its pinwheel shape was bloomingpinwheel2 so close to an actual pinwheel toy that decorated the garden.  I love pinwheels!  There is something about that whimsical toy that fascinates me. As a kid, I remember blowing on it to make it spin faster.  Sometimes, Papa would let me hold a pinwheel out of the car window which caused it to whirl frantically. It was mesmerizing to watch. Pinwheels are associated with childhood play – and for some cultures they have spiritual significance. Learn all about it at

Make a Pinwheel!  Get free instructions and illustrations on how to make a simple pinwheel with just 5 things: construction paper, scissors, ruler, pencil with eraser, and a stickpin! When you’re through playing with it – set it in your garden!


Days 57 & 58: Meteor Shower Walks!

Days 57 and 58 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.  

The Perseid Meteor shower peaked last night and the night before on Monday, August 12th and Tuesday, August 13th.  I took night walks to see if I could spot some meteors.

Light pollution may have been a factor in preventing any sightings on Monday night. meteorite_NASA

So, on Tuesday night, I decided to walk later, at 10:30 PM, when the sky was darker and there was less artificial light to mask the stars and meteor shower.  My husband and I were delighted to see the Big Dipper directly ahead of us in the night sky for a long portion of our walk. We used the Big Dipper to find the Little Dipper and Polaris (the North Star), although it was very dim. Learn more about them and how to find them at

We were expressing our frustration with the light pollution (much of it from the bright crescent moon) when suddenly, there was a streak of white light in the sky. It came and went in an instant, but it was definitely a “shooting star.”  (Meteors are often referred to as “shooting stars,” but they are not really stars. Meteors are little chunks of debris that disintegrate when they enter Earth’s atmosphere leaving a trail of light.)

The Perseid Meteor shower produces more meteors and fireballs than any other meteor shower.  NASA reports, “The Perseid meteor shower is caused by the debris stream of parent comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle” CLICK HERE to watch an informative 3-minute video about the Perseids.

We only saw that one meteor, but we didn’t hesitate to make a wish upon that shooting star.

Don’t miss these meteor shower peaks coming up in 2013:

  • October 20-21: Orionids
  • November 17-18: Leonids
  • December 13-14: Geminids


Day 57: Cat Walk!

It’s Day 57 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.  

Today, it seemed like every cat in the neighborhood received a memo to deliberately cross my path. The neighbor’s Siamese ran across my walkway. Across the street, I said, “Hi kitty,” to a white cat with calico-colored markings sitting near a hedge. I was surprised when he meowed a greeting and sauntered over to receive some pets.

As I continued on my way, a light gray tabby slinked across the sidewalk and under a car. Then, a block further, a black and gray striped kitty trotted across the street as I approached. Four blocks later, a  big, fluffy orange cat eyed me from his window perch as I passed by his home. Finally, I spotted a sleek, gray cat that was stalking a bird.jumper2

All of these cats reminded me of Jumper, a cat Papa learned to love. Papa wasn’t fond of cats because his mother told him the old wives tale that cats steal the breath from babies in their cradles.

He and my mom resisted my pleas to have a pet cat until I was about 19 years old. I lived at home while I attended community college. A friend from college needed to find a home for an abandoned kitten. I brought Jumper home and my folks agreed to let me adopt him.  Jumper had long, white, fluffy fur dotted with patches of gray. He had emerald green eyes and a bright pink nose.

I doted on that cat and taught him to do tricks.  He could sit, speak, beg, shake hands, lie down, and roll over on command.  He performed his tricks for little fish-shaped cat treats – but oddly enough, he always spit out the heads and tails. Jumper was an amazing  cat. If Jumper was alive today, he’d probably be an Internet sensation like Grumpy Cat.

When I moved into my own apartment, I brought Jumper with me. Unfortunately, the space was too small and there was no back yard. Jumper seemed unhappy. After a couple of weeks of trying to help him adjust to the new digs, I explained the problem to my parents. They agreed to let Jumper move back home with them.

Papa fed Jumper, and the cat learned to come whenever Papa whistled for him.  Jumper followed Papa as he puttered  around the house and its huge backyard. As they both aged, Papa began to show affection for his feline companion. Papa pet Jumper frequently and told everyone that, “Jumper is more like a dog.” Jumper lived to be 17 years old. Years after he died, Papa remembered him fondly and said,  “Jumper was a great cat.  I loved that cat.” 

If you love cats, you may enjoy these websites:

 What’s your favorite cat website?



Days 55 & 56: Magical History Tour & The Beatles!

Days 55 & 56 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

Redwood City 1On Day 55 I met a colleague at a restaurant in Redwood City, California, to discuss our plans for a workshop we were hosting the next day.  After lunch, we took a walk to the downtown area that turned into a self-guided history tour.  As we walked down Main Street to Broadway, we passed by the historic Sequoia Hotel where U.S. President Herbert Hoover once stayed during his term of office (1929-1933).

We walked up Broadway toward Jefferson and stopped to read a historic plaque about the Redwood City 2Redwood Creek Turning Basin.  In 1851, Redwood City was best known for its deep-water channel that ran inland to where the downtown area is now located. Named “Redwood Creek,” this channel was used by lumber companies to export timber from the redwood forests located in the peninsula hills. The ships would come in at high tide, load their cargo, and then wait for the next high tide to turn around and sail back out to the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

Redwood Creek still runs underneath the downtown area. You can see where it’s located on this map of the area. The creek is shown in pale blue on the map.

As we continued our walk, we discovered another plaque that indicated the founder of Redwood City was Simon M. Mezes.  He was an attorney who received a land grant (that included what is now the downtown area) as payment for his legal services. Although the area was occupied by squatters who called their town Redwood Landing, Mezes renamed the area Mezesville. Mezes was unpopular and when a post office opened in 1856 the town was renamed Redwood City.

We learned quite a bit about the origins of Redwood City on our walking tour. Click here to watch a history video tour of the area where we walked on Day 55.

On Day 56, my husband and I walked through the downtown area of Redwood City on our way to the historic Fox Theater Redwood City concertto see the Redwood Symphony perform with The Santa Cruz White Album Ensemble.  The benefit concert, “Here Comes the Sun,” was a tribute to the Beatles and included songs from albums such as Sgt. Pepper’s, Revolver, Magical Mystery Tour, Abbey Road, The White Album, and Let It Be.  They also performed John Lennon’s Imagine, and Paul McCartney’s Live and Let Die.  Great evening. Glorious music!





Day 54: God’s Eye!

Yesterday was Day 54 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

Yesterday, I walked around Shoreline Lake in Mountain View, California. I noticed a large group of children who were participating in a summer camp near the aquatic center. There were about 30 kids (ages 8-12) sitting on the lawn. I was surprised that they were all so quiet.  As I passed them, I understood why. Each child was focused on creating a “God’s Eye” craft.

God's Eye

You’ve probably seen these colorful, diamond-shaped figures made by wrapping multi-colored yarn around two sticks.

The God’s Eye or Ojo de Dios (as the Spanish call it) is an ancient symbol that was made by the Huichol Indians of Mexico. Traditionally, a central eye was made when a child was born. Additional yarn was added each year until completed, when the child turned five years old.

The Oklahoma History Society explains that the Huichol (descendants of the Aztecs) believed that crafting the object was a way to get in touch with the spiritual world to seek protection from the uncertainties of the future. Through the trinket, they thought a god might keep a watchful eye over the person for whom it was made.

God’s Eyes are simple to make and are a great family craft. Aunt Annie’s Crafts provides full instructions and illustrations.

At YouTube you can watch a ten-minute video demonstration by a boy on how to make a “God’s Eye.”


Day 53: Horse Trail Walk!

Today is Day 53 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

My friend, Debbi, has volunteered to be a combination coach/cheerleader for the Papa’s Walk Challenge.  Once-a-week, we forge new paths as she challenges me to “go the extra mile.”  Today, we walked almost 3 miles along a horse trail in Woodside, Californiagrass spider web

The first thing I noticed were the Funnel Weaver/Grass Spider webs all over the ground along the trail.  I had never seen so many.

As we walked we passed many Woodside residents out for a morning walk/run with their dogs. One woman had a blonde Golden Retriever and we stopped to pet “Maggie.” Her owner told us that Maggie, who is 11 years old, was a rescue dog. She adopted her two years ago from the NORCAL Golden Retriever Rescue.

The horse trail took us under a freeway ramp and the sound of the passing traffic overhead was deafening. We crossed the road to the unpaved part of the trail that ran alongside estates with horsestables. We spotted a beautiful, chestnut brown male horse (gelding) eating his breakfast. Debbi and I paused to say hello to him and he walked right over to us. (See the picture on the left that Debbi took with her phone.)  Perhaps he thought we had some treats for him, but seemed content to be pet. He was really calm and sweet-tempered. We said goodbye to him and dodged horse patties along the trail on our way back to the car.

I told Debbi about the time our family went on a horseback trail ride. At the end of the ride everyone dismounted. There were piles of horse manure in the yard and people were complaining about the smell as they tried to avoid stepping in the piles. Papa pointed to a dried out horse patty, tapped it with his boot, and said, What are you worried about? If you step in horse s—, it’s good luck.  I’ve stepped in it and I’m lucky.”

What happened next was nothing short of bizarre. Every single person, including the trail master and a couple of complete strangers, walked over and purposely stepped on the horse patty by Papa’s boot hoping for a little luck. Papa watched them all with an amused twinkle in his eye. He knew it wasn’t the horse patty, it was believing his own words, “I’m lucky,” that gave Papa the advantage.



Day 52: Rats!

Today is Day 52 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

On the last half of my walk today, I came across a dead rat on the sidewalk.  It was completely intact, but turned over on its back with all four tiny paws fixed rigidly in the air. It was about 10 inches long from nose to tail. It didn’t look injured and I wondered if it had jratust died of old age.

Rats are maligned by many as filthy pests that spread disease like bubonic plague and rabies. The plague in Europe was passed from rats to humans by fleas. Interestingly, there has never been a case of a human contracting rabies from a rat in all of North America.

Despite their penchant for sewers, rats are clean animals who spend a great deal of time washing themselves. They are also very intelligent.

When my husband and I were first married, we kept a rat as a pet. The minute the rat would hear my husband’s car pull into the driveway, he’d jump up on the side of the cage and wait for my husband to enter the house and pet him. Our pet knew his name, “Rat,” and would come when called. He liked to play with our cat and chased her around the living room. He loved having his tummy rubbed and would curl up in our laps to sleep. The Humane Society has some good information on rats as pets.

Scientific American reported a research study by neuroscientists at the University of Chicago shows that rats are empathetic and altruistic. They’ll even forego food (and chocolate!) to help a fellow rat in distress.  Check out the article and video on the NPR website, too.  See if it doesn’t change your mind about rats.

Day 51: Christmas in August?

Yesterday was Day 51 of the Papa’s Walk Challenge.

I walked by a house that had white icicle lights glowing. They looked so pretty and were totally unexpected considering it’s August and Christmas is five months away! christmas-lights-hanging

As I continued walking, I noticed that a few houses left their holiday lights up year-round – they just didn’t turn them on.

In fact, one house had an outline of Santa on the roof, trimmed in lights that are probably only lit in December.  I also came across two, forgotten and badly faded wooden reindeer that were still posed on someone’s front porch.

There’s something intriguing about seeing holiday decorations in the summertime. Why do you suppose people leave them up year-round?  Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to create the backstory and post it here.