Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tearing Off the Page

Some years more than others I find tremendous relief in the tearing off of that last calendar page of the year, gratefully welcoming another forgiving starting place.

This New Year's Eve finds me there - relieved.

While 2008 shared enjoyable 'ups' it has ended in too many miserable 'downs'.

Even as I hold the precious gifts of 2008's lovely moments close, I conscientiously pluck the seeds of wisdom and experience gleaned from the ugly moments, realizing the gems, carrying them with me as healing tools which offer clarity to keep and to share.

A fresh start. I know time is only a perception. January 1st is as much a winter (or summer) day as December 31st. The way of nature has no mind. But I do. Marking time with celebratory or cleansing rituals nourishes me. Nourishes us.

As my heart quietly observes the old year's passing in the midst of boisterous friends and family I will raise my glass to the spacious possibility of the new year along with all of you. Cheers!

May 2009 enter gently into your life.

Happy New Year!!

(The little wine bottle caps and scarves are available at, in case you're wondering.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Signs of Life

We're not snowed in, we're frozen in. Powdery snow, slippery ice. The four of us decided to chance a walk around the neighborhood. The girls held hands. I held Tom's arm. Slip slidin' away! Only four other houses shoveled their sidewalks so we had ice to walk on most of the way. Thick ice, especially on the streets.

With temperatures finally rising above freezing we are seeing thaw, but wait! We're approaching the freezing mark again!

So this is cabin fever? A tiny dose. Yes, yes we are wimps. It's all so unusual, to have thick, slippery ice for ground. Driving on frozen freeways at 30 m.p.h. is interesting. Snailing around town is especially harrowing when insane people drive inadequate cars (or is it the drivers who are inadequate?!?) while jabbering on cell phones - or smoking long cigarettes, dahling! - sliding menacingly toward others who are trying their best to keep it going forward, unsmashed. Do NOT step on the brake.

To assuage cabin fever we look for signs of life...

...and cheer.

Found some.

And had a little fun.

Merry Christmas from me to you!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Five Days 'Til Winter

With winter still five days away we're enjoying its Pre-show.

I've learned a few things this morning.

While hunting for winter photos I can only stand bare-footing it on shoveled sidewalks in 10 degree weather for approximately 90 seconds before I, California-native though I be, begin to hop and howl and run for the heated tile in the house. Wimp.

To find the warmest spot in the house, follow the beagle.

Tom loves his job when the weather grows frozen - driving heavy, dual-tired shop trucks around town in the twinkling freeze of snowy nights, under a slivered moon. He's working 12 hour shifts until the storms pass - a keeper of our safety.

Glittering reflected sunlight off frozen-snow takes my breath away - still.

Now, where did I put my wool socks!?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Snowy Mid-December

While aware that my Alaska and Canadian friends have feet of snow, and my Minnesota, Colorado, Montana, Maine, and Ohio friends, too, still I offer snapshots of our little valley snow. We are so proud of it!

The pot that once grew basil rests under its new white blanket.

Patiently awaits the man for the woman who snaps photos on the way to the store.

Rosemary looks pretty in her winter finery, no?

Muffled neighborhood here...

...and serene park there.

Just a little bit of snow fell from Oregon skies, yet contentment floats heavenward.

It's beautiful to us.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Stupid cold.

I've been fighting it off since my exposure on Thanksgiving weekend.

Cassie and Caroline have had it. Caroline is not 100% back to health, yet, but almost.

I fought it off last weekend and felt great all week. Energy. Clear-headed. Happy.

Saturday morning - yuck. Today, worse yuck.

I ask myself why I fight so valiantly. Why don't I just run outside into the frigid weather in my underwear and let the battle be won by the enemy? "Take what you want and LEAVE ME ALONE!"

But, I'm a fighter.

Maybe I'm the stupid one.

Monday, December 08, 2008

'Oldest and Coldest' Parade

It may still be the oldest parade in Oregon but on Saturday it wasn't the coldest. The sun shone down 54 degrees. A glorious day for angels and elves to glow and scamper amidst the wide, tidy streets of Springfield.

The Grand Marshal rode in vintage style at the beginning of the Christmas Parade.

Springfield High School's band didn't miss a beat.

The Grange displayed a festive float.

While these little girls bubbled up joy at seeing Sam, our beagle, Tom and I adored their little pony.

I love the gleam on the front fender of this fire truck ridden by members of Twin Rivers Baptist Church.

Standing behind this little kid and his two friends gave us lots of laughs. The parade participants pointed at him and said, "I like your beard!" or "I've been good, Santa!" to which he robustly answered, "Your wish has been granted!" This photo shows him in mid-ho ho ho!

Can't have too many bands playing Christmas music on a sunny Saturday in Springfield.

Penguins and Christmas - but this one had trouble finding an ice floe!

These horses remind me of a parade in another town in another decade. The horse was a funky looking breed made all the funkier because of odd, shiny, feathery bling attached to every buckle and loop and braided into its mane and tail. It's rider, an immense woman weighing well over 300 lbs., was wearing as much ridiculously gaudy decoration as the horse. When I gasped, "What is THAT?!" Tom, his focus not on the decor but the rider, calmly responded, "A strong horse." Yep. Yep.

The Grinch in a baby stroller. Wonder if that kid's gonna need therapy when he gets older? Wonder if he'll remember why?

Another fire truck.

Sammy was in good company as canines were well represented in the parade, beginning with this Santa dog who I thought looked embarrassed, peering over his shoulder to make sure his doggie-friends didn't see him in that get-up.

Dogs and owners.

Sparky!! (Notice the regal looking greyhound watching the parade from the curb. He sat like that the entire time. When Sam barked at him now and then the dog just looked over at him. I swear he raised his eyebrows and yawned.)

And on the last big evergreen bough and red-bow strewn utility truck, leaning over the rim of the wide bucket, high, high above the onlookers, was the Jolly Old Elf himself!

Tom and I received a decent dose of Christmas - and community - Spirit as we observed and cheered this Christmas Parade. The sense of community experienced while chatting with strangers on the street, and seeing friends along the way warms a winter heart and gives evidence that 'things' are not as bad as they seem.

Far away from the media hype-and-scare is the soul of our country. It steadily glows in schools, in churches, in community organizations, and small businesses. It thrives in neighborhoods. It dwells safely within loving family homes. It's a power that puts up with a lot but, should the need ever arise, will boldly shine forth from its nurturing nests to illuminate the faces of the men, women, and children who are this country, who care, and who hold dear the self-evident truths.

Nothing like a Christmas Parade to reveal this best in us.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Low Sun, But SUN!

As winter approaches, that great ball of fire hugs the southern horizon more and more. Thankfully the weatherman got it wrong - we haven't endured ten days of fog, low clouds, no sun, "Sorry, folks."

Today the sky is clear blue and the sun's generous, warm energy makes its way to the soil.

And to my skin!

A sunny spot, a pair of shorts and sleeveless shirt, a beagle at my feet. Relief!

Cold invigorates. Rain pleases the senses. Fog makes for introspection and mystique. Snow muffles and soothes. Unexpected, unfiltered sunshine stimulates!

This sort of winter weather-stew I can live with.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Good Consumer

Give yourself five and a half minutes to watch this thought-provoking video, please. It's well-done, in my humble opinion, and worth your time. Especially during our annual Season of over-consumption.

Don't be a pawn in their game!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thirty Days, For Better or Worse

I did it.

Thirty posts in thirty days.

Surprisingly no confetti came shooting out of my computer screen. No bells rang out. No whistles shrieked victory.

Just a page flipping on my calendar: December!


I'm going to make a pot of tea, put my feet up, enjoy the freedom to post at will - or won't - and let the Christmas Spirit descend.

Wish you were here...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Skype and Such

On Thanksgiving, using Skype, I called my aunt and uncle - my dad's older brother by two years - who live in Arizona. My folks and the Arizona loved-ones miss each other, haven't visited in person for years. Phone calls are their only means of communication these days.

My aunt has installed a camera on her computer. (I plan to use Christmas money for a camera of my own.) I called Dad into the computer room and he, wearing a headset, talked for a good long while watching his brother and sister-in-law in real-time on my monitor screen.

Then Mom put the headset on and talked with her favorite sister-in-law, chatting as they used to when they were neighbors and would sip coffee while visiting at the dining room table.

Both my parents enjoyed the surreal experience. My aunt and uncle were pleased for the opportunity as well.

Marveling at the sight of four octogenarians having a conversation regions apart via high-tech wizardry astonished me, warmed me, created deep contentment on a jovial Thanksgiving Day.



And while the grandparents played on the computer, the kids played cards!

Is this backwards or what!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Apres Thanksgiving

Weeks of mental planning.

Days of physical preparations.

One day.

One feast.

And it's all over.

Friday is rest day!

Turkey and noodles!

Or turkey sandwiches!

In a once-clean house.

Full of my favorite people.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful Heart

Today with gratitude in our hearts for the good you give our bodies, we thank you, turkey, humanely taken, respectfully roasted, eaten with appreciation...the circle of life.

To all who celebrate with me the Thanksgiving Holiday I wish you a bountiful day! May your food be perfectly prepared, may your energy be high, may your love flow freely, may your heart find its proper response to God, and may your in-laws leave before the leftovers are gone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Wednesday

Steam fogging the kitchen windows, breads rising by the warm oven, pies cooling on the table, bowls of vegetables prepared, sauces cooling, linens sorted and laid out, this day of the year smells good.

Tomorrow the guests arrive! I am stoked as I've been looking forward to this holiday for a long time.

My mom and dad are among the guests, their first visit outside of their home since they returned after Mom's long illness and recovery. What joy!

This is one of my favorite photos from Thanksgivings past: Sammy and Caroline with our funny turkey puppet that squawks, "Eat more pork!" when you squeeze its bill.

I hope your heart is full of joyful anticipation at what tomorrow may hold. I hope, too, that you have taken long moments to reflect on the many reasons for giving thanks this year.

Happy Day Before Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Peoples Native to our Land

Sharing and civility among the Pilgrims and Native Americans made the very first feast of Thanksgiving quite special, I am certain.

No tribute to the holiday would be complete without mentioning the life-saving aid given the new settlers. However we view the New World intrusion of Europeans, it's good to note that there was a moment in time when respect for the ways of others was acknowledged and appreciated. Good to remember.

One of my favorite Native American depictions - they're just so cute! - is of two babies in photos I discovered displayed in an Ashcroft Ghost Town building, several miles from Aspen, in the glorious Rocky Mountains.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Where We Live

"Modern American culture is fairly empty of any suggestion that one's relationship to the land, to consumption and food, is a religious matter. But it's true; the decision to attend to the health of one's habitat and food chain is a spiritual choice. It's also a political choice, a scientific one, a personal and a convivial one. It's not a choice between living in the country or the town; it is about understanding that every one of us, at the level of our cells and respiration, lives in the country and is thus obliged to be mindful of the distance between ourselves and our sustenance." ~~ Barbara Kingsolver

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Manipulated? Ya Think?

"When the holiday season of consumption that began on 'black Friday' (the Friday after U.S. Thanksgiving that is supposed to help merchants end the year in the 'black') draws to a close, our consumption doesn't stop, it just changes focus. During the holiday season we are encouraged to consume, especially foods to feel loved. In January we are encouraged to purchase diet foods and exercise equipment; ironically, to assuage our previous over-indulgence." ~~ Mary Beth Lind in Simply in Season

A bunch of sheep. Sometimes we Americans act like a bunch of sheep following momentary impulses. And the media is an impulse that undeniably prompts.

I think of the ads at Christmas for delicious foods. Mouth-watering ads showing gorgeous, perfectly dressed, unbelievably joyful people delighting in spectacularly roasted turkeys, glistening sauces, steaming potatoes and stuffings, vibrant vegetables, and breads slathered in butters and jams. Desserts shot up-close so that each pecan is magnified in the pie, the icing on the cookies lures, and the hot chocolate melts the plop of whipping cream before my eyes. All of this is put forth as innocent holiday requirements. Afterall the more extravagant the wintery delights you serve, the more you love your family and friends. Right?

So bake and cook and eat we do with permission from Mother Media. "Go for it!" she cackles. "Indulge, my children, eat with abandon! It's guilt-free - everyone is doing it!"

But, sheep that we are, we aren't prepared for the onslaught of palm-rubbing, gleeful GUILT about to be served up after the last feast on New Year's Day. Holiday pounds! Oh, the shame. Better lose them quick with this diet method or that, this gym or that. And you certainly can't do it without that convoluted piece of exercise equipment peddled by an aging t.v. star or swimsuit model you sort of remember.

It's a trap, I tell you!

Besides the obvious blindfolding and unplugging of oneself from the inevitable media blitz - is that entirely possible? - there is a better way, a thoughtful path through favorite, festive, holiday food. Bake and cook and eat to your heart's content and don't look back. Enjoy the goodness of the earth as you celebrate whichever holiday you observe. Take a few extra strolls around the neighborhood. Chop a little more wood. Play vigorously with the kids, especially when you don't really feel like it. Keep a handle on the pressure in your stomach. Engage your mind to keep from gluttony that will burp up regret later in the evening. You can have your cake and eat it, too, because if you don't eat the whole thing in one day there'll be more for the next.

All I'm suggesting is that rather than have our holiday merriment sour into new year depression, it's possible to truly relish the coming holidays not as sheep but as wise men and women who enjoy the people, the weather, the sights and sounds, and the sumptuous cuisine while maintaining just enough self-discipline that, in the end, we may laugh in the faces of the new year taunts about holiday weight gain, bloat, and disappointment.

Let the festivities begin!

(How obvious is it that is a post from me, to me? ; )

Saturday, November 22, 2008


In the middle of the Arizona desert a concrete walkway leading to a viewpoint tells a tale.

Rabbit prints straight, four-pawed, and true cut a path across the once-drying sidewalk.

Angled toward the rabbit prints are coyote tracks.

How much time passed between the two? Did the rabbit make it? Did the coyote have his supper?

Aye, the prints only tell part of the tale.

Things are not always as they seem.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Alaska and Hardy

"... a day which had a summer face and a winter constitution - a fine January morning, when there was just enough blue sky visible to make cheerfully-disposed people wish for more, and an occasional gleam of silvery sunshine..."
~~Thomas Hardy, Far From the Madding Crowd

I'm enjoying this book! The writing paints vivid mind-pictures. Perfect for ever shorter days.

I'd stay and write more, but the book calls and I have hours of 'other' to accomplish before I earn my Hardy reward!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Twenty days of Nablopomo.

Unexpected Con: Posting every day, while an interesting experiment and certainly do-able, means that each post is not afforded its due at the top of the page, but is quickly chunked down and down and down into obscurity. I've read many intriguing daily posts this month that should have been savored but were skimmed, their relevance lost in the enormous volume of writing by fellow Nablopomo trekkers. Like when a movie contains marvelously strung together sentences but there are just too many to mentally retain, so most dissipate before I have a chance to capture their essence, ponder their ideas, digest their meaning.

Unexpected Pro: Like an enforced brain-enema, Nablopomo has left my fusty mind-closet of words and ideas cleansed, refreshed, invigorated. All those musty old words that I'd intended to simmer on the 'back-burner' had instead become smashed and intertwined up against other good intentions. Daily posting has caused them to be peeled apart, examined, and the decision made: save or chuck? De-cluttering is good for a closet - it's even better for a brain. This is unexpected. Didn't know it could be done. An interestingly pleasant side-effect.

Nablopomo? Ten days and counting...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Workin' Hard

Tom cut down the wall between two tiny bedrooms creating a family room. Wow! What a difference. The free part is done. Demolition. Plus covering up narrow trenches between the floors with rugs, ignoring grungy walls, and strategically placing wall hangings. By snagging pieces of furniture from other rooms, including outdoor furniture, we've managed to make a livable space for the winter. Saving up for the remodel and new furniture will take time.

One of Tom's favorite tools.

Caroline stands victorious on the old wall. (The unfinished Dutch door leads to the new addition. We are waiting to finish the door until after we remodel, knowing it may suffer a bit of abuse during the process.)

Sammy is confused!

The weirdest thing is how our brains are so fully on auto-pilot about the floor plan of our house. We are still entering the new space, pausing, shaking our heads, and letting our brains figure it all out. It's pretty funny.

Still temporarily existing are the two doorways with doors still up, which now lead into the one new room, rather that the original two. Cassie, deep in conversation, got up from her seat in the new, rustic room, walked out one door, into the hall, and through the other door in order to reach the other side of the room. She just stood there cracking up once she realized what she'd done. We all laughed.

It takes a lot to get over a habit. What is it, fifty repetitions in a row to break one? Something like that.

No wonder it's so hard to change. It takes determination to muster that kind of conscientiousness. And dedication.

And paying attention to where you're going!

Right, Cassie?