Category Archives: pics


Friends and French cuisine win out over fear

We moved here from Portland 3-1/2 years ago (almost 4 for Paul). I still feel like a newcomer. I do know where all the stores are and one what aisles to find my favorite grocery items. I know the backroads that will sneak me past the traffic and lights on the main thoroughfares. I’m familiar with those things. But, with the amount of history that most people have in this community, I do still feel like I am the new kid on the block. However,…

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A dream and the storm it created.

Last week, I had a dream that brought back to the surface some deep seated insecurities and fears. To tell it, the dream is silly and not even all that interesting. I was at the home of one of Amira’s friends from school. Amira, for some reason, wasn’t there. Her friend and her mom were. The dream began to stick with me as the mom was showing me what she had built while our kids had been at school that day. It was a foldable…

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The change that goals require

My goal is to post something new, every day, on Patreon. A week has passed since my last post. In part, I have been busy with life, getting my daughter ready for 6th grade, and trying to cram in as many last-minute summer activities as we can.  It has been busy and time flies. The thing is, I made a goal. Life will happily and readily fill in my available time slots for me. That’s just how life is. And if life isn’t filling in…

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Making friends with struggle

struggle intransitive verb strug·gle : to try very hard to do, achieve, or deal with something that is difficult or that causes problems : to move with difficulty or with great effort : to try to move yourself, an object, etc., by making a lot of effort – Mirriam-Webster I struggled with this painting. I worked on it for weeks. I started it to be a possible match for a friend who commissioned me for some artwork for her new home. I was so excited…

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Get onto the bus!

You have to take the bus. There are no express taxis or cars that will pick up the random hitchhiker.  Unlike the bus that you REALLY don’t want to take, you can’t shake your head, wave your hand at the driver and have them pass you by. There are certain buses that have your number on them. You have to get on them. And you have to take them to their intended destination. Well, you don’t have to. You can try turning tail and running…

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Point Lobos on Christmas Eve Day, Part 1

The day before Christmas, we ventured out to explore Point Lobos State Natural Reserve. The ‘we’ I refer to was myself, Amira, Paul, my cousin Doug, Mom, Dad and Aunt Carol. Piled into two cars, we took the short pilgrimage from Monterey to the reserve. The skies were a flat gray and the wind was cool enough to warrant and make us grateful for cozy knit hats, bundling scarves and coats to hold warmth to our bodies. We parked next to an inlet of water.…

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Making our way for the holidays

My side of the family, each Christmas, converges at one of our homes to celebrate the holiday. This past season, after too many years away, we met in Monterey, CA. Monterey is where my Uncle Daryl and Aunt Carol have lived for a few years shy of forever. We left home Saturday evening and made it through LA by the cover of night. We missed all the traffic and buzzed right on through. (So nice!) We spent the night in Thousand Oaks. We slept in, ate…

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New Year’s Day 2015

For the almost two years that Paul, Amira and I lived in Portland, we attended the Unity of Portland church. We participated the White Stone Ceremony, both years, during the holiday season. The ceremony involved receiving a small rectangular white stone. By the end of the ceremony, after a message from the pastor and time for meditation… we were to think of one word to write on our stone. That word would play the part of map and guide for us into the new year.…

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Crafty goodness

This weekend we went to a crafting-finish-your-projects get together. It was satisfyingly fun, filled with laughter and low-key, easy and fun creativity. I brought Sculpey. I didn’t have a particular project to finish. Instead, I thought I would simply play with clay. It’s satisfying like playing with Play-doh, only you get to bake and keep your creation.  Working with clay has a very altering quality to it. It’s relaxing, peaceful and fun (most especially if you let go of any ideals of creating “art”). Amira…

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Looking for fall and finding more

Yesterday morning, I received a text that said: “Fall Color Picnic?” It was from Natalie. I hope it makes perfect sense to you that it took me a negative nanosecond to reply: “Yes!” We went last year. <– Side note: for more fall beauty from last year – click on those two links. And… see this same day from Natalie’s side of the experience here. It’s well worth it – she has gorgeous photos! Last year, we said we would visit again. We both meant…

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Riding my bike to school

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I ride my bike to Amira’s school. She enjoys having me ride to meet her so that we can ride our bikes home together. The ride is less than 2 miles round trip. It’s a pretty speedy trip, even considering the fact that our neighborhood is filled with hilly terrain. At the bottom of one of those hills is our home. There is no way out but up. So, you have to bike up the hill for a piece before you get to a flat portion.

Today, I was feeling proud of myself for biking up the first hill without having to put my foot down to push myself or get off the bike altogether and walk it up and over the crest. My legs were spent and I was moving slowly trying to let my legs, if possible, rebound and to not pant too obviously as a result of my effort.

I winced internally knowing that the level portion of road is quite short before there’s another small rise. And, it really is small. If I could get some momentum, it would be a piece of cake to surmount. But the way the road, sidewalk and trail come together, there’s no way to build up any speed to help you take on the rise. Complicating things is the fact my legs are, after that last hill, functioning less like machines of force and more like overcooked noodles.

I can see in the cul-de-sac ahead that it is teaming with activity. It is filled with (on my left) young moms and their playing toddlers and (on my right) construction workers building a new front deck. I put on a brave smile and pedal. I navigate the road, that turns into a driveway onto a sidewalk and then onto the little path trail. You have to slowly weave and turn this way and then that. I make it a little over half way up and my legs let me know… “you’re done!” Thing is, I’m close enough to the top that getting off and walking my bike to the top seems ridiculous. I try one more push on the pedals and am crystal clear that it’s not going to take me anywhere.

So, I lean forward and drop down off my seat. There I am. I am waddling up, with my bike between my legs, the last 5-6 feet of hill that I couldn’t make it up. I feel and look ridiculous. I couldn’t bear to look to see if my waddling was being observed by the young, pretty moms or the construction workers. My brain just said, “keep going, keep moving forward.”

The rest of the ride is downhill with the ocean breezes cooling my hot brow (more from embarrassment than sweaty effort). I love how fast I move away from that spot.  It feels good – like racing away from the scene of a crime. Except the feeling I have isn’t that I did something criminal or wrong… but that I am wrong, an embarrassment.

Amira and I head back towards home and I am registering in the back of my mind that I’m going to have to ride back through the young, pretty moms and the construction workers. This time, I’m going downhill… so I just muscle up my reserves and prepare to bike through. I did. I didn’t look at anyone and just rode straight through and on towards home.

Over the past few days, a good friend of mine and I have been talking about shame. We’ve been talking about what it does to us and how it stunts our capacity for doing what we want to do in our lives. We have been referring to the awesome Dr. Brené Brown in our conversations. Dr. Brown says that guilt says “I’m sorry, I did something wrong”… whereas shame says, “I’m sorry, I *am* wrong.” It’s a tricky but substantial difference between the two. She also points out that to shut down shame we must talk to ourselves like we would someone we love, reach out to someone we trust and share our story.

As I was thinking about our conversation tonight, this afternoon’s bike ride came to my mind. I didn’t distinguish it clearly at the time. I do see that I was shaming myself. It was over a little thing, but little things make their way into big things. It’s best to nip these kinds of internal conversations in the bud.

It turns out I was biking to school in a literal and metaphorical sense today. I became more aware of where shame finds its way into my life. And like my friend said to me today and I was moved to tears when she did: “Now that I know the shame for what it is… I’m finding it doesn’t work anymore. I can see it clearly for what it is and it has lost its power over me.” (This is a summary, she said it much better but I accidentally (Argh! No!) deleted the email with her exact words.)

If you have twenty minutes that you can spare, watching Brené Brown’s TedTalk on shame is worth your time.

PS – If there was any emotion to feel at that moment, when I couldn’t make it up the hill… the worst emotion that it could have been (and still been healthy) was guilt. I could have assessed the situation and said: “Wow, I’m sorry I haven’t kept more fit and active because now I can’t make it up this hill. Bummer.” From that, there’s an opportunity for growth and change. But if I am wrong (which is what shame says) — there’s nothing to be done. It keeps me stuck in the same place. As Brene Brown says in the TedTalk… it keeps me living small. And I’m not interested in that anymore.  :)


Gifts of coincidence

A family ritual that we have is, as a portion of Amira’s tuck-in routine, to say a prayer and send love and energy to someone that comes to our mind. On Saturday evening, it was my turn to pray. As I prayed, I came to the portion where I quiet my thoughts and heart and allow to come to mind who it is that I am going to pray for. That evening, it took a bit but then her face smiled in my mind and…

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On their way

Mom and Dad just hit the road. They are on their way. They will be here for dinner! It will be another whirl wind visit, but I’m okay with that. It is far, far better than no visit at all.  Connecting up is easier now that they are in Arizona instead of Montana. That said, they are still too far away for my taste. But, until transporters are a reality and geographic miles are rendered meaningless, I will cheerfully and gratefully take each opportunity I…

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Thought they’d never come

About a month and a half ago, Natalie, the incredible Chickenblogger, gifted me with a thistle seed sack feeder.  She discovered the feeders and had been delighting in the gold finches that it attracted.  We filled it up with seeds and I took it home excited to entice finches to my own back patio space. I hung it and could hardly contain my anticipation. And then… NOTHING. And I mean, nothing. Days, followed by weeks, the bag hung there. Swaying as the wind moved, it…

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Planet Mearth

Yesterday evening was quite fun. AZ was showing off some of her finery and parlor tricks. She started with dramatic skies, clouds and gorgeous evening light . All week we have had blazing heat and pale blue skies without a single wisp of a cloud. Then, in the early evening, it changed. Massive, gorgeous clouds filled horizon to horizon. How could we resist?  We couldn’t! Three generations and three photographers were, irresistibly pulled… cameras in hand. As we stood in the middle of the neighborhood…

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