Monday, June 25, 2012

henry was right!

ok, if you have been bitten (and truly bitten beyond the potential triteness of the saying to the point of serious life change) by the "less is more" bug, this website is for you:  life edited (see video at  the tiny house movement, the less-than-200-square foot apartments with fold-out beds and kitchens, the links & plans?  they're all here.  but lest we think it's new, henry david thoreau (you can spot his house toward the end of the video) nailed it (no pun intended) when he built his own house and published "walden" in 1854.  he writes, "the cost of a thing is the amount of what i will call life which is required to exchange for it"..."shall we always study to obtain more of these things, and not sometimes to be content with less?"..."before we can adorn our houses with beautiful objects the walls must be stripped, and our lives must be stripped...(and this) taste for the beautiful is most cultivated out of doors"..."what of architectural beauty i now see, i know has gradually grown from within outward...preceded by a like beauty of life."  he, in his thirties, could not find any sages to help him move from the first half of life to the second.  thankfully he followed his spiritual instincts for lasting change--as it always must come, from the inside-out--and became such a sage for us to follow.  pass the hammer, please, i have some downsizing to do.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

ha + ppy

this is by no means a new thought, but i like how easy it is to remember and, therefore, practice.  happiness is about the art of 1) savoring 2) giving expression to our experiences (literally voicing our pleasure or gasping out loud at beauty) and 3) reflecting on happy memories (gretchen, author of the happiness project).  we all need something meaningful to do, someone to love, and something to hope for (joseph addison).

on travel

seneca is quoted as saying "travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind."  i find this true, wherever we are.  just this week i have traveled thousands of miles without leaving home; all having to do with navigating the mysteries of the human heart and what it means to grow/expand/get out of the boat (whatever semantics you wish to attach here) loving deeply and not wanting to miss a thing.  i discovered my soul print and calling after 37 years: "a passionate beauty-lover and creator who shares joy with others" and now can spend the next 37 living that out.  so i've circumvented the globe right here at home.  on a literal local level, i ran into one of the founding members of the local art/travel community in the grocery store.  (i recongnized her from a magazine photo--an elegant white-haired woman) and actually followed her with my cart, got her attention and thanked her for everything she's done to beautify our city and class it up (see also allison inn, jory, art elements and chehalem cultural center). soon i'm off to the local farmer's market with my canvas bag.  that's travel, too.  all the while i'm planning our trip to france and discovering all of the things their country has in common with oregon and appreciating the differences.  change of place--whether that's one step, one mile or one thousand miles--does indeed bring vigor to your heart and mind.

Monday, June 11, 2012


i love where i live. let me type that again: this area of the world rocks. seriously, where can you fall asleep gazing out over the vineyards and see the big dipper from your pillow while the owls sing to each other? i was in the grocery store yesterday when my eye caught "oregon wine country" on the front of a magazine "portrait" featuring...ta ha: dundee. now, when i first moved here, people looked at me quizzically, "why would you want to live all the way out there?!" then, they come to visit. it is set, i humbly note, to be the next napa valley. what other appelation would boast being able to type to the winemaker featured in said article and have them actually write back to you? yes, it's true. plus, it's summer. every day out of school my world gets a little bigger, my powers of observation more acute. for instance, i had time to note that we have a family of baby bunnies living beneath the garden shed. i watch the one that seems most often to venture to the blackberries and named him "petrie". it's gotten so i look for him every morning while i'm picking fresh strawberries. yes, quite simply, this is a portrait of a woman in love with where she lives.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

the hills are alive...with feasts

"what characters in novels or movies have you most identified with through the years?" without a doubt, i'd have to say maria in "the sound of music" (childhood) and babette in "babette's feast" (adulthood). both are unfettered, passionate beauty seekers who are sometimes out of place or misunderstood. both find themselves in places that don't quite fit (a nunnery and washed up on the shores of a very ascetic community). they both make intentional choices to make the best of every situation and impact their environments for the good. just this realization gives me courage to continue to write my own story and to be who i am intended to be: a passionate beauty seeker who shares that joy with others. what characters do you most identify with and how can that aid your sense of calling?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

e is for efficiency

"so, do you have kids?" people ask. "oh, several hundred." goes my non-chalant reply. first of all, believe me, i have nothing but respect for parenting--the non-stop-self-sacrificing-see-them-at-their-worst-and-love-them-anyway-remember-i'm-paying-for-your-college-education unconditional lifetime commitment. there's a side to having many kids that you're not ultimately responsible for but whose lives you nontheless intersect with in meaningful ways. it, like parenting i hypothesize, is about an art of attachment and detachment--letting them go when it's time and always being a place they can come home to. and then, it hit me: the perfect gift. ok, so a little sarcasm font here, but since you already know my heart on the subject, please indulge me. so, june is the month for graduations and showers and graduations for the shower's shower's graduate, right? so what if we--parents and like-a-parent-to-these-people, went in on the perfect gift? it would go something like this. you start off the package or registry or whatever with a $20 bill. that way, they can go out to coffee with a nice date that perhaps they will one day marry. (if they are church goers, maybe throw in a second $20 bill for their summer mission trip to nicaragua or argentina or africa.) if the coffee dates go well, included in the gift is a coupon for kitchen items, no pressure, but being the general order of things, they will need a good blender in their married people kitchen but for goodness' sake let them pick it out themselves! next i would throw in a pacifier, maybe green or yellow--a nice unisex color since you don't know if their first child will be a boy or a girl--and a copy of "bringing up bebe" by pamela drukerman so they can decide on the pros and cons of american vs. french style parenting. that should cover a decade or so. then there's the job market. as a finishing touch to go with the happy graduation, marriage, and first child, i would enclose the following: "good for life: job references and letters available upon request." this whole thing, 'tis tacky and impersonal, i know, and i'm kidding about it all of it may be just marketable afterall!

seasonal circus

some of my friends joke with me that if they had to spend a day doing what i do, that they'd probably want to kill themselves. be that as it may, it's an interesting idea to job-swap for 24 hours (and would i feel the same as they, i wonder?) right about today, teachers understand each other and are tired. those who aren't teachers are just jealous of "summer". since teaching is a seasonal profession, it has a "ramp up" (mid-august) and a ramp-down (anytime past may 20th). summers are lovely. what people may not realize is that when you clock in the beginning of september, you are "on"...teacher yes, but manager, counselor, educational style negotiator, personal organizer, team member, communications analyst, conflict mediator, recess guardian, problem-solver, nurse, generational expert, and all-around maid/handy person. even with all those nice breaks like three day weekends and christmas you still know deep down inside that it's not over until the lockers are cleaned out, the circus packs up and all the perfomers go home. and can i just say that while i feel i do important work and enjoy it that thank goodness it's not my identity...if it were, the let-down could lead to a feeling of purposelessness. (the last couple of weeks are kind of like shakespeare's "much ado about nothing": lots of activities and anxiety and tired energy and not much substance followed by this void--where did everybody go?!) thankfully, the flying trapeze to summer only fuels all of my other parts: the woman who wants to exercise every day (instead of deciding between that and/or showering and/or packing a healthy lunch...victory on the mornings they all happen!) the artist who wants to sketch lazily by fountains, and the friend who wants to host evening visits around the outdoor firepit and not worry about having a "bedtime". my morning "commute" can change to walking letters to the mailbox and "grading" can be checking the progress of plant rows in the garden. it's hardly instant, though. like any transition, there is an art to it--one i am barely starting to grasp after 8 years--and the relief is not instantaneous. you have to love every moment, i think and be present with whomever you're with at the time. putting so much stock in some certain day like the end of school or some exotic place thinking "then i'll be happy" is unlikely. (see also "the best exotic marigold hotel", you take yourself with you wherever you go, so make it a great time!) trying to practice this amid the screaming and popsicles and basketballs and overflowing trash bins and ice cream sundaes is another way of just enjoying the moment. so if you'd like to trade shoes for a day, please don't jump from the third floor afterwards, teaching is really quite delightful and our summers are only as happy as we make them; only as enjoyable as who we bring to the table. stay tuned for more happy...

Monday, June 4, 2012

feeling sketchy

for the love of compost

now this is true friendship...while jogging my friend spotted a sign, "composter FREE". risking not only life and limb but also lateness for work she went back and singlehandedly stowed it (larger than you might think and sticking out the back) into her car and drove away before any one else could nab the treasure (it pays to be an early riser). you see, she knows that--more than nordstrom gift cards or manicures--i want things that help me garden well. i even asked for a composting system for christmas. did i get it? no! so this was the perfect opportunity to make my organic dreams come true. hefting it together (with ropes this time) we drove it out here to the country whereupon it has a new home and the promise of great fruits and vegetables to come.

playing with crayons

ok, how fun is it to get paid to play with crayons? this weekend i worked on a couple of retirement art commissions made entirely from, well, cut wax. it's fun, but somewhat harder than it appears to create the letters. it was either use my best kitchen knife or an exacto (the latter of which ended up working just fine) to get the right curvature of font (in this case a "d" and an "a"). plus, i'm picky so of course i wanted them to have clean cuts, be in color order and all be facing the same way. (i loved that as a kid too, funny how some things never change). but really all you need for this project are a couple of shadow boxes, strong glue and a dose of crayola patience. plus, it gave me a great excuse to buy a new box of 64. again, childhood beckoning, it's all about the built-in sharpener.


"...that we write our own story lest others write it for us." rooted, all else comes and goes; faithful herald of weather, patterns and rust. tilting rhythmic here meting out 'love what you have' seemingly unconcerned on even the stillest of days because who really knows if the wind happens to it or it happens to the wind?

what's in your bookbag?

it's more than a little satisfying to have an adventurous day and then see what tumbles out of your bookbag at the end of it. today the contents are: journal with notes from "falling upward: spirituality for the second half of life" by richard rohr, title 9 clothing catalog, novel "julie & julia" by julie powell, oregon battle of the books lists, cooking school business card, menu for "paulee", new indie booklist, and a sketchbook. life is good...