Friday, December 22, 2017

traveling at the speed of enjoyment

in addition to thoughts on peace, other parts of wellness for me are physical in nature as well as found in changing my approach to time. 

first of all, let it be said, i work in a petrie dish of germologic proportions (elementary school).  it's not that i've never felt like i was getting sick but gratefully haven't gotten sick.  when i don't feel up to par, i check my basics:  sleep?  water?  food?  sometimes all it takes is a nap to right my outlook on life. 

when that's not enough, i reach for essential oils (clove, peppermint, eucalyptus and rosemary for wellness, lavender for relaxation, citrus for alertness).  i am completely spoiled in that i receive every-other week massage in exchange for private art lessons, but i can tell the difference that comes from regular cleansing of everyday stress and toxin buildup from my system. 

when a germ is working on me, volcano level thai chili spices usually do the trick.  then there is this little tonic i mix which tastes absolutely terrible but seems to work (apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, turmeric, cayenne pepper, ginger, black pepper and a little coconut sugar to help get it down!) plus anti-inflammatory fruits and vegetables (either my own or at vitality bowls--healthy never tasted so good). 

i've learned to let myself follow the season.  everything except for humanity hibernates at this time of year--we are the ones who push ourselves harder now than at any other time of year (silly humans!)  a body wants to move and a regular exercise routine is key (Zumba!); so also is just going along with the cold and darkness a bit by pulling in from it all.  if it's good for nature, it's probably good for me, right?

never underestimate the medicinal power of humor!  a funny movie or comedy club night of improv leaves me so relaxed and happy it's ridiculous.

and, finally, overestimating how long things will take and under-booking myself.  even just today i enjoyed the fruit of this by having time to spontaneously connect with a young man i hadn't seen since he was a child.  i wasn't too busy to have coffee with him and it was such fun to converse as adults.  i never regret being able to say, "sure, i have time..." such as the other day when a coffee time evolved into dinner or when i had allowed 2 hours for the post office line but it only took 20 minutes.  psychologically i was happier feeling like i had an "extra hour and 40 minutes".  i love being at my czech friends' home where it's ok to stay and visit, they just bring out bread and olives, look you in the eye and spend their time with you,--i love being on "czech time" because they are so very especially good at this and serve as my inspiration.   if anything, i want my "status" badge, if you will, to read "not in a hurry, has time for people." 

since life is short i also try not to do things i don't enjoy doing.  this may seem selfish, but actually ends up giving me more time to give away; being present to someone is a gift and, anymore given our times, a very special gift at that. 

going at the speed of enjoyment is sometimes fast, sometimes slow, that's the thing--it's not just about doing more or doing less--it flexes with ever-changing life, but to me it's always delightful. 

peace on earth (*and let it begin with me)

why is it that what we sing about and wish to one another (peace) sometimes feels like the furthest thing from our planet, especially at this time of year?  *this isn't meant to be prescriptive of everyone's season of life or personality, but these are some things i have noticed or experienced that are helping me sustain a deeper sense of wellbeing, the end-goal being for that to rub off on others...

-working a 4-day work week.  (i plan to continue always having meaningful work and routine both now and at age 65 and beyond) and one way to do that is to work a little less along the way.  this gives me purpose and also a day to rest and make art...a day to do life stuff (everything from laundry to oil changes)...and a day of community. 

-truly loving counsel.  we all need encouragement, but we also need the love that comes with being told how un-wonderful we can be.  the people i most admire are those who are so deeply in touch with themselves (the wonderful and the ugly) that their ego no longer needs to be front and center.  they exhude the sense of living with something bigger than themselves at the center.  this frees them to care more about others instead of being paralyzed by caring about what people think of them.  they take life seriously, but never take themselves too seriously.

-surrender.  when we have our own little kingdoms to keep intact and images to project, no wonder anxiety reigns.  the most truly peace-filled people i have met have nothing to lose.  they put energy into controlling themselves instead of circumstances and seem happier in general.  the more they learn, the more they listen. the more confident they are, the less they need to be right.  beautiful.

what have you noticed or experienced that helps true peace reign in your life?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

black's beach commission

this was an amazing commission experience!  working from a photo of black's beach, i got to paint on two 2'x3' aquaboards (from blick) which are dreamy to work on.  so dreamy, in fact, there is no going back to regular canvas. 

aquaboard can take any and all medium and allows you to layer with unprecedented depth and richness, adding and removing washes with flexibility and ease.

as a water-lover, i painted the wave first, wanting it to have energy, light, and motion.  i started with gouache watercolors for opaque texture, adding acrylic, outlining in ink, mixing iridescent medium in, and finishing with silver and gold leaf foil for shimmer.  we decided to split the picture in two, for a total finished piece of 3'x4'.

i worked in segments, anywhere from two to five hours at a time in the evenings for a total of about thirty hours of sheer enjoyment; layering and watching it gradually come to life.  i truly love making something unique for one person at a time, working with their style and personality to achieve a unique creation together.

for more about commissions and custom orders, please see the "studio lark" portion of my website and follow the email link.  i would love to design something just for you in 2018!

a very musical december

it started with the advent lessons and carols service at trinity episcopal cathedral downtown portland.  and it only got better!  next the little wedding chapel in canby hosted michael allen harrison and his soulful entourage. 

after that, a sold-out josh garrels concert opened by the sing team.  the arlene schnitzer concert hall hosted an also sold-out lindsey stirling concert with alexander jean.

then i'm looking forward to dannygirl. 

for tour dates, tickets and information:  trinity episcopal, michael allen harrison, josh garrels, the sing team, alexander jean, lindsey stirling, danny girl

what music have you most enjoyed this holiday season?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017


we interrupt this season of deep thoughts and frantic activity to bring you a word from our fashion sponsor.  today's message is brought to you by greta gerwig (actress, play write, screenwriter and director).  before she was any of those she was a girl trying to find her identity and style.  in the latest vogue edition, she writes,

"...i also knew it was about boots.  a nine-year-old has no business having boots--but i decided i had to have some.  a woman stands differently in boots.  her weight moves into the earth.  she's ready for battle.  in boots a woman is going somewhere.  she's ready to run.  she's out, she's gone."

Thursday, December 14, 2017

my year in books

it's said that we are what we eat and i would add, "we are what we read"'s my year in books, tracked courtesty of goodreads!  lanette's 2017 list of books (this link works if you are on goodreads); the graphic organizer it provides is rather fun.

according to my 2017 collection, i read 20,000 words (74 books), the shortest of which was "now" by antoinette portis and the longest being "a love song and a riddle" by my friend robin lawton.  the most popular book was "glass castle" by jeanette walls (read by 717,725 others) and the least popular being "the diary of samuel pepys" which apparently only one other person besides myself read this year (perhaps the same person who loaned it to me?)

the highest rated book on my list is "gracelaced" by ruth chou simons.

and now, to start the pile for 2018...

Monday, December 11, 2017

how to be a canadian, eh?

 i saw this book and laughed out loud, EH?  because i am canadian (at least dual citizen, my dad is the true canadian of the family). 

do we like maple syrup?  yes!  and do we love hockey?  you bet!  he and i went to the annual winterhawks teddy bear toss game and had to wait until the second period (note to all those football fans out there, in hockey it is not called quarters and there are not four of them.  i know this may be hard to compute, but there are only three periods in a hockey game, but chances are, more than one fight) in order the throw the bears. 

hockey is usually low-scoring, and this game was no exception at only 2-1 (we lost against the everett silvertips).  portland had a whopping 43 shots on goal; both goalies were just that good.

being peace-loving folks, we don't love it for the fights.  we love it for the speed, the slice of skates on ice, the lights, the crowd, the strategy.  and, in this case the charity.  when the hawks score the first goal of the game, the entire memorial coliseum throws stuffed animals onto the ice for local children's hospitals. 

rumor has it seattle is going to get an NHL team (winterhawks are junior league, just 16-20 years old).  wouldn't that be something? 

so, i will leave you with this.  how do you spell canada?  C-eh?-N-eh?-D-eh?  proud to be one.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


this is a beautiful book on so many levels:  "gracelaced:  discovering timeless truths through seasons of the heart" by ruth chou simons.

not only do the images and paintings have an authentic hand, but the truths they are communicating are beautiful as well.

simons, with a fine arts degree and great skill in writing, found her life unfolding in ways she didn't expect when she married and had six children.  she makes time to paint and to live an intentionally creative life with her family and the results are truly filled with grace.

it inspires me to think about creating a book of hand done images, paintings, quotes, poems and photos.  stay tuned...

advanced reading copies

to think i have lived 43 years and not known about being an advanced copy reader!?  granted, i have been a staunch supporter of local libraries throughout that time.  and find it extremely important for some unknown reason to let people know that i've never had an overdue book or fine.  (not that it needs to go on my tombstone or anything, but still i'm not sure why this is so important to me, other than that i am a rule-follower and CDO, which is OCD but in alphabetical order).

i have a huge pile from the library right now and after those are renewed and tidily turned in, i shall read on to the awesome pile given to me by an advanced copy reader i know.  these, as i understand them, are book copies that are not yet for sale and are, as yet, unedited.  they are not able to be resold, but i can read them at leisure and then *give them away at will.

*this also goes against my nature because when someone loans a book to me, i am very CDO (see aforementioned) about returning it to them in the same condition it was borrowed.  so to be told i can just give the books away, well, it is fun but takes some getting used to.

now i just need to figure out how to get paid to read...

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

art *teachers (hate) glitter

*speaking strictly for myself, i'm not a big fan of glitter.  this is not to say i don't like the effects of glitter; the sparkle, the shiny, the bling, i do.  it just gets everywhere.  teaching, in part, is all about anticipating all of the possible things you have never even thought of that children will do with ordinary objects other than their intended use.  sometimes this is called genius.  other times, i call it mess.

my tune changed, however, when i had the opportunity to substitute in pre-kindergarten.  focusing on keeping these sweet little people's schedule as normal as possible, i remembered the teacher's invitation for me to come up with an art project.  so we made positive-negative space snowmen with dot paints.  we read christmas stories.  we did the pledge of allegiance (i resisted the urge to work into it a line about not using glitter). we had snacks and lined up our recess boots and changed the calendar from november to december.   and then, it came, the question i had been hoping to avoid, "mrs. art (my name from them because 'i love art so much i must have married it') when we make our ornaments, can we use...glitter?"

the face of a sweet four-year-old was looking up at me through his spectacles and i just couldn't say no.  rummaging through the supply closet, i came up with some green glitter as well as quick thoughts on containment theories.  they glued onto their christmas tree ornaments, i glittered.  we sang a little glittering song.  i started to smile, a little at first, and then broadly, as they sang, "shake shake shake the glittering tree..."

while shaking the container, i thought about how earlier in the week while doing a project (not involving glitter) a five-year-old had looked up at me and said matter-of-factly, "i am a cancer survivor."  i stopped what i was doing and knelt down to invite him to tell me more.  "well, i had cancer once, but i beat it!" he proclaimed.  "that is important," i said, "i'm so glad you beat it and thank you for telling me."

because you never know what mess a small person (or big person for that matter) might be dealing with.  surely a little extra glitter in their life couldn't hurt?

light of the world

i am so grateful that this painting and artist was shared with me, especially for advent.  "light of the world" by william holman hunt, was painted in 1854.  hunt, who loved to draw when he was a child, always wanted to be an artist.  his parents discouraged this, instead pushing him towards a "real" profession, so he took drawing lessons at night.

he was befriended by dante gabriel rossetti, a british poet, illustrator, painter and translator who founded the pre-raphaelite brotherhood in 1848 with hunt and john everett millais.

this painting immediately captivated my heart.  upon closer inspection, i notice that he is depicted as wearing two crowns, one of thorns and one representing his kingship.  His knocking upon the gate can only be responded to, as there is no handle on the side facing Jesus.  it is a liminal space (or thin space in celtic spirituality) that bears the invitation, as the stars and early sunrise show the time when night is turning to day, darkness to light.

Monday, December 4, 2017

an episode of sparrows

an episode of sparrows

dusk is more than darkness signified
it is the—hush, now—time of day
when i am surprised again
that the trees, black with sparrows, sing

so through my open window
i have pause to hear their thundering

the severely gathered chatter
slowly eases into song

then silence

and now the
night can

(this is a copy of my poem that was recently selected to be part of the Multnomah Arts 2018 collection as well as copied and available in the public poetry post)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

taste and see...

...the theme for fall gatherings this year:  taste and see.

inspired by the book "bread, wine, chocolate:  the slow loss of foods we love" by simran sethi, i became interested in agricultural biodiversity and all the ramifications thereof.

and i also knew exactly what seven things we would taste:  coffee, wine, beer, cheese, bread, olive oil, and chocolate. (these should be a food pyramid in and of themselves in my humble opinion.)

why not have people bring brands and flavors they enjoy to share and talk about why?

(and to talk about what we like and don't like in normal every day language, without the pressure of a tasting room or sale.  i rarely get a 'bouquet of grapefruit' when everyone else i want to take the pressure off, have some fun.  i'm always tempted in fancy locales to say loudly, 'i'm getting a hint of mossy gutter with maybe a little leaf mold' but never can bring myself to do it.  that and the fact that everything is always quite good.)

psalm 34:8 says, "taste and see that the Lord is good, and blessed are all those who trust in Him." i, for one, am so grateful to have had healthy food to eat every single day since coming mewingly dependent into this world.  not only for nourishment, but also for enjoyment.  let's slow down to savor and really taste our food and all the hands it passes through to get to us.

errands took on a whole new flavor as i took my time and got to know the people who make our local cheese, bread, and olive oil.  i am within walking or driving distance of many of the vineyards, orchards, and fields where it all came from. 

so what are some of your top varietals in these categories?


giving thanks away
makes room for more
i know this but still
it startles me
like a flock of snow geese
ascending to become a trembling
glimmer of light on the ever-nearing

ls 11.22.17

cat-chasing sheriffs

i've been pet-sitting now about as long as i've been working with kids, around twenty-five years all told.  but this was a new experience for the books.  i'm watching my friends' indoor and outdoor cats while they are away and i'm still in my pj's thinking how nice it is to be on vacation and how i might take an extra long shower before going wine tasting with my neighbor...when the doorbell rings.

first of all, their mudroom door, to anyone who is a friend, is the "front door", as no one actually uses the front door, which is my first clue.  i open it, still in my pj's and hair in a messy bun, to find a sheriff in full uniform.  stunned, i ask how i can help him and forget the door is open just enough for the indoor cat to escape. 

"ma'am, i'm here inquiring as to why a car registered in the name of the home owners is abandoned in a nearby orchard?"  i have no idea and quickly tell him that i am the house-sitter and would be happy to assist him in any way possible.  he takes down my vital information, "name?  date of birth?  address?" like a crime scene and i can tell he is thinking maybe the car has been stolen.

through a series of texts and phone calls, i connect with the home and car owners and hand my cell phone to the sheriff, all the while chasing *rosie the cat.  "i read a lot of detective fiction," i tell the officer, "so maybe i can help you figure out the mystery."

"well, it's technically my fault the cat got out," he replies, "so i'll help you catch her and call it even."

we both simultaneously relax as i realize he is keeping the neighborhood safe and he ascertains that i am not a car thief.  meanwhile, the cat streaks maniacally through the bushes and trees chasing birds and in general having a riotous time and of course, the more we chase her, the further she runs.  a long shower is the furthest from my mind at this point, when the UPS man pulls in with a package (did i mention i'm still in my pj's?) just in time to make it a real, live three-ring circus.  "try cat treats", he says in a mail-people-have-experience-with-outdoor-pets kind of way, "and leave the door open, maybe she'll run back inside." 

"roger that," i holler to the UPS man, and then to the sheriff, "did you figure out what happened with their car?"

turns out, they had gotten stuck in the mud on the way to the airport and not had time to get unstuck, so they left it in the field, notified the property owner, came back for their second car, and made it to the airport in time, all unbeknowns to me.  she talks me through where to find the spare set of keys for the sheriff because he noticed the car window was down and that it was too nice of a make and model to get ruined in the rain.

while the sheriff secures the car, i secure the cat, dust myself off and promptly make a second very **strong cup of espresso.  when the sheriff returns with the car keys, i don't know whether to high-five him (which seems disrespectful) or pat him on the shoulder like a comrade (which seems equally presumptuous) and so i stick out my hand to shake his and say, "you're the nicest sheriff i've ever met.  i mean, thanks for helping with the car and cat and all.  wow, this is like a real, live lord peter whimsy moment."

"a who?" he says. 

"oh, lord peter is a fictional british detective persona on par with the more well-known sherlock holmes."

"i see," he says, adding, "did you catch rosie?"

"i did, indeed.  and the car?"

"ship shape"

"well, all in a morning's work.  you're going to make it into the book i write about housesitting. are you ok with that?"

"i am. i'll look forward to reading it.  and you have yourself a nice day now, ma'am."

*her real name.  and she wants me to add that she had a blast in her short, but raucously wild foray of an escape into the great outdoors

**there is no coffee strong enough for mornings like this

feeding the birds

surely a benevolent hand opens to us,

i think, as i pour black sunflower seeds--shimmering
mounds to overflowing--for the jays while juncos
dance around my feet for spills

this hummingbird also knows there is enough
and then some, so much that i catch a glimpse of
even her at rest

flash of squirrel-tail, tree chatter as i move
into a clearing watched by three deer
efficiency of motion, distilled

for any of us could go bounding off at any moment
but instead i look back at them, concentrating my eyes
with as much calm and St. Francis as i can muster

before we all go about our grazing on these
same hills, storing up in all the ways we can
a share's worth for

our wintry world

ls 11.22.17

poem for a tree

"what do the tall trees say...birdsong is all they've wanted all along." wendell berry

name me and i will hold you
swaying with strength and calm
sap-lit from within

survey as i see the long and
tended view, in love with
all i will outlive and even,


ls 11.18.17

Thursday, November 9, 2017

a study in scarlet

this book-loving woman's year was made recently when entrusted with an old copy of sir arthur conan doyle's "a study in scarlet" complete with original artwork!

once my heart rate returned to normal (this would be considered reading as aerobic activity!) i turned the pages carefully, just wanting to stop the work day and do nothing but read.

i told my friend who loaned me the book that there are really only two other times i can think of where i had such a notable book experience.  one was when i bought a lord peter wimsey book in london in 1995 and the other was when i finally crossed the threshold of shakespeare & company in paris (2012).

not just a rare book (she purchased it for 42 pounds) but a rare sherlock holmes.  "wow, wow, wow, wow" was all i could say while putting it in a safe place.  she and i agree, we would both rather have books than food.  smelling them, touching them, owning them.

there's nothing better!  i would love to hear about any rare book experiences you have had...

Sunday, November 5, 2017

tiny house in a tree

dreams do come true!  i've had "stay in a tree house" on my wild woman list of things to be about for twenty years!  all the while i would have no idea that the beals family, within walking distance of my house, had begun construction on their dream tree house five years ago and that my friend and i would be the first paying guests.

constructed with the utmost care, love, architecture, and sense of design, this marvel sits forty feet in the air held by six stumps of a giant sequoia named catherine (after catherine of siena--beals is a philosophy professor and it shows in his attention to detail, book list and property in general).

i've driven by this tree house for years now, each time making a pledge to myself that i would, one day, spend the night inside and finally that dream came true.  after climbing the ladders of three decks, you can use the ingenious pulley system to bring up the rest of your things.  inside they have cheese and wine waiting for you, along with a fireplace, amenities in a small fridge, and an assortment of books.  there is power, but no running water (and the toilet is the composting style that uses biodegradable materials).  they are in the process of converting their garage into a showering area on the ground level.

there is nothing like literally sleeping among the birds and the house is complete with a flicker box for their resident male.  chickens and goats graze below and the rooster makes the country setting complete.  in the morning, they literally climb a farm-fresh breakfast up to you at the hour of your choice, including french press coffee with cream and sugar, homemade quiche with fresh herbs, and sliced fruit.

i can't stop smiling about the whole thing and when i'm once again feeling reflective, plan to write a poem for the owners about the experience.  they plan to post it on air bnb within the next week or so and i'm sure it will be an instant sensation!  it's not inexpensive and can fit one or two comfortably, but it is worth every moment and every step you climb to the top!

it's no surprise that a rainbow came out over the fields or that the tiny house calendar features a tree house for the month of november:  it was meant to be!

a big year

this movie is a must-see for birders.  (and the correct phrase is not 'bird-watching', as evidenced by steve martin's character when he corrects someone in all seriousness, "it's 'birding', rick.' ")  joining steve martin in the cast are jack black and owen wilson, who compete for the record number of bird sightings in this hilarious comedy.

a big year is a real thing.  it is commonly referred to as an informal competition between birders to identify, by either sight or sound (on the honors system), the largest amount of species in a specific geographic area within a single calendar year.

the ABA, or american birding association, gave the award to john weigel of australia who sighted 783 different species in 2016.  that same year, arjan dwarshuis from the netherlands received the world record of 6,833.

it's fun to think about actually doing a big year.  in the meanwhile, happy birding...

a world with octobers

november got here fairly quickly, it seems to me.  wasn't i just in sandals?  at any rate, i love this quote by the author of anne of green gables, "i'm so glad to live in a world where we have octobers."--l.m. montgomery

and this quote by renowned food aesthete mfk fisher, "one of the pleasantest of all emotions is to know that i, with my brain and hands, have nourished my beloved few, that i have concocted a stew or a story--a rarity or a plain dish--to sustain them truly against the hungers of the world."

Monday, October 30, 2017

through eyes of others

want to see the world through eyes of others?

look no further than the documentary section of your local library.

my empathy and curiosity took a great flying leap after viewing the following films:

"a man called ove" (what the world looks like to a fictional swedish widower)

"one day on earth:  the world's time capsule" (what was going on around the world on 10.10.10)

"happy people:  a year in the taiga" (putting yourself into the skis of hunters in siberia)

"orchestra of exiles" (how violinist bronislaw huberman saved over 1,000 jews with music)

it's akin to travel, really, when you can't leave many perspectives!  i highly recommend it, when your world feels small, and even when it doesn't! 

Friday, October 27, 2017

via libri, way of the book

a friend let me borrow one of her rare books (a copy of the diary of samuel peyps, circa the mid 1600's) the book itself was published in 1924, so is approaching 100 years old!  once i recovered my breathing i took it safely home and began reading.

for peyps, who was an administer of the navy of england and a member of parliament, keeping a diary was a daily discipline.  his entries begin with 'up and to the office' and always end with 'and then to bed'.

in between are some hilarious observations about human nature, commerce, and daily life in england during that time.  for example, i notice a steady diet of swan pies.  also, references (and not always flattering ones) to the hired help.  not to mention musings as to why his uncle is so interested in whether peyps' wife is with child or not and samuel hoping it is because he wants to give them money.

he is also very into the details of his shaving, noting the type of razor he is using and whether shaving his beard will make such an endeavor easier (yes). all in a day, eh?

if you, like me, are a book lover extraordinaire, you might also like this website about rare books to add to your collection:

happy journal entries, or blogging, as we say today...

Thursday, October 19, 2017

grandpa's hat

of my grandfather's earthly possessions, there were really just two things i wanted when he passed away:  his fishing kreel and his hat.  why?  because they represented who he was.  (that and his Levi suspenders, but i was ok to let those go).

i wore his hat this week and got more compliments that i expected.  for one, i was almost afraid to wear it.  would it fall apart?  what if the suede got wet?  the side feather has seen better days, but you know, it actually fit pretty well.

grandpa was a tall and stately presence but the hat was only a bit loose on my head (it helps that i inherited his thick head of hair no doubt).  the inside label says "large JC Penny" and it reminded me of where i come from.

i'm not one to put things in moth balls; i use them, for better or worse.  and wearing this hat was more than just a fashion statement, it meant land and fishing, love of nature, hard work, family legacy, honesty, strength, humor and generosity.  all of the things i would want to wear as my character and more...

the mountain between us

despite the fact that this film did not get great reviews, i liked several things about the story line.  for one, as a person who has been stranded on a mountain (albeit in a different way) i could appreciate their problem-solving strategies.

if you were to follow me throughout an ordinary week, you would hear me say, "figure it out, smith" to myself, as it is my "go-to" phrase when i am otherwise unsure of what to do.  i thought the characters worked well together to maximize the situations they found themselves in and used what they had in order to survive.

typical literature conflict modes of man vs. nature and man vs. man were in good working order.  there wasn't so much of man vs. self except perhaps at the end when the characters are unsure of how to continue life (don't want to spoil anything in case you haven't seen it).

and i like that they take turns helping each other.  we all need to be both the givers and receivers in life, regardless of the kind of mountain we might be facing.

a lot of other people are queued up in front of me for the library book, but i'll look forward to the novel by charles martin when it's my turn.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

leaf stomp

my very most important note to self lately?

"stomp leaves with girls"

while the leaves are still crunchy, try it. 

i think it is impossible not to smile while stomping leaves.

letting kids throw them all over you is up to you.  but that's fun too. itchy, but fun.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

what matters

everyone knows teachers don't teach for the money.  i like to say if i have enough to cover what i need, some of what i want, and always enough to share, then it's just right.  it's paychecks like this, from an anonymous middle schooler, that motivate, "ms. smith, personally i think your style is exciting and fun.  art hasn't really been fun for me in the past but since i've had you, it has been.  i really appreciate your positivity and energetic spirit.  thanks for always cheering me up!" 

i'm a "to-do" list person.  voted most likely to go back to her to-do list to write down an additional accomplished item for the sheer satisfaction of crossing it off.  but yesterday, i went to the girls' volleyball game even though i had a long post-it list of teachery things to do.  and i don't regret it.  because i remembered what it was like to be a student and how epic it was when one of my teachers showed up for a basketball game or orchestra concert.

another girl this week said, "you don't need kids, you have us.  you can be our art mom!"  and i did feel like a mom who realizes her kids are growing up fast and doesn't want to miss a moment.

i have another new long post-it of things to do this morning (it's a new day, after all) but i'm choosing to join their middle school retreat, just to enjoy them and be present.  the thing is, people are fascinating and have interesting stories to tell if we have room and time to listen.  i feel like i'm seeing them for the first time in some ways and there is no amount of money in the world you could pay me in exchange for such riches.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

harvest time in the vineyard

this photo was fun to come upon.  cresting the hill, i first heard--and then saw--the scene.  harvest time in the vineyard.   a symphony of clippers resounded in the fall morning air as the workers moved fast down the rows.  so fast, in fact, that by the time i was able to reach my camera, all of the workers except this one had disappeared into a sea of leaves, only their white buckets showing through the rows.

country walk photo essay

feathers, stones

Thursday, October 5, 2017

founder's week

it's founder's week at warner pacific college.  when the flier came in the mail, i noticed my great-uncle's photo highlighted next to the schedule of events.  he looked a lot like my grandma, or rather i could see my grandmother's features reflected in his.  so, i got out the copy of his autobiography, "of time and tides" by a.f. gray and started reading it.

looking for what we have in common, i smiled at the picture of him as an old, wise man sitting on a rock by the pacific ocean.  he described enjoying feeling his smallness in comparison to the ocean's vastness, a feeling that draws me to the coast as well.

he wrote songs and poetry, both things that i enjoy.  i realized in a new way that we are not born in a vacuum, i came from these people.  and i had a sudden urge for this legacy not to end with me.

i got my grandpa griffin's favorite hat out of attic storage and put on the locket containing my smith grandparents' wedding anniversary photo. 

even though i chose to attend a different university, i am proud of my heritage and of the fact that we support a memorial scholarship at warner in honor of my grandma.  i like sharing in the tapestry of values and beliefs that ground me to something bigger than myself and wonder how i might pass those on to the next generation.

what are some things you really appreciate about who you came from?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

pile of leaves, stack of books

i've had my pumpkin chai and am enjoying getting outside as much as possible as summer lets go into the more subtle hue of autumn.

one of my library books is almost as big as what it describes:  tree houses!  in preparation to stay in my neighbors' before they put it on air bnb, i thought i'd read up on them.  "tree houses:  fairy tale castles in the air" by philip jodidio is just the ladder i need to climb high into my bucket list and cross yet another item off!

"farm anatomy:  curious parts of pieces of country life" is a beautiful rendition by illustrator julia rothman.  aside from the farmer's almanac, i can't think of a better and more stylish way to learn, for instance, how to make dandelion wine or identify the cuts of a cow.

danny gregory has compiled inspiration from private art journals of traveling artists, illustrators, and designers in his book "an illustrated journey".  i'm hoping to get inspiration for my most recent two art commissions.  ("maira kalman:  various illuminations" by ingrid schaffner is next)

kid's book "mama built a little nest" by jennifer ward is just fun, as i continue to adventure to all of our local wildlife refuges.

for school i'm looking into "ideas in food:  great recipes and why they work" by aki kamozawa, "expressive photography" by various photographers, and "big questions from little people:  and simple answers from great minds" by gemma elwin harris.

and, to top it off?  two novels soon to be movies, jeannette walls' "the glass castle" and "the mountain between us" by charles martin.  first, though, i want to finish "the yellow envelope" by kim dinan and "the genius of birds" by jennifer ackerman.  (i get more than a little book greedy, can you tell?)

Monday, September 25, 2017

unfolding light

theology is our attempt to
punctuate mystery
an analysis of the Beloved's letter
a drawing of the back side of light
as it recedes
of course there is no such thing
we make it up
and spend the rest of our lives
following an imaginary map
nevertheless we're all walking around
with light shining in our eyes
every once in a while
you just close them and


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

got stamps?

stamps, as well as typewriters, tell a story of's so fun to search through piles, courtesy of the IPRC in portland (independent publishing resource center) at its new location.

i was drawn to the intaglio printed ones and learned they were created using an italian process, or "gilio" capable of one or multi-colored raised printing which is no longer used.

as the price of stamps change, so do the stories of the letters we write. we may remember, for example, how old we were during a certain olympic year or which stamps we used to send christmas cards...all in all, something worth collecting or at least learning from.

i love my wonder woman stamps and save them for special cards and letters.  do you have a favorite stamp or letter writing memory?

Monday, September 18, 2017

call to writers

have your poetry or prose featured on the poetry post at the multomah arts center!  i just sent in a couple of poems and wanted to post here how you could as well...

-send up two typed works
-each piece should be no longer than one single-spaced page
-non-english poetry with translation welcome
-content should be appropriate for people of all ages
-also include a short author bio, email address, and phone number in a document separate from your writing (jurors will not be provided identifying information)
-email your work or queries to
-writers will be notified of submission decisions by december 1st.

submissions must be received by october 1, 2017 for consideration by the panel

for more information, see Multnomah Arts Center website

a is for apple

a is for apple...or ei as in neighbor.  in my case, it's both!

my wonderful neighbors and i are set to make our ancestors proud  by getting together to mark the first day of autumn with a big homemade applesauce making party.  (author's confession:  while i grew up surrounded by wonderful home-canned goods, i have yet to take the time to learn the art properly)

all we need are some apples, jars, paring & coring knives, and a lot of laughter.  we've got that well covered.  sweet, like cinnamon and shared like community.

it doesn't get any better than that.  how do you like to mark the start of fall?

Sunday, September 10, 2017

the other einstein

i have the best hairdresser!  yesterday we talked about quantum physics and the nature of the universe while she expertly wove hip highlights into my tresses.  her contemplations reminded me of a book i am just starting to read entitled, "the other einstein" by marie benedict.

since i haven't read it, i will type from the novel's inside flap, "what secrets may have lurked in the shadows of albert einstein's fame?  in 1896, the extraordinarily gifted mileva "mitza" maric is the only woman studying physics at an elite school in zurich.  for her, math seems like an easier path than marriage, until she falls in love with fellow student albert einstein.  charismatic and brilliant, albert promises to treat her as an equal in both love and science.  but as albert's fame grows, is there room for more than one genius in a marriage?  this is the untold story of albert's first wife, a brilliant scientist in her own right, whose contributions to the special theory of relativity have been hotly debated." 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

living into the answers

it was said to me by a wise person recently, "information alone is not enough; transformation is key."  and they couldn't have been more right.  in viewing not only myself, but my responsibility as an educator, and society as a whole... that light here is a quote from "the heart of higher education" by parker palmer that i am applying to life:  "live the questions now, so that one day you can live right into the answer." --rilke

knot knowing

if one is going to learn to sail, one must learn one's knots!  this is me at a local bookstore gathering information so i can practice at home.

what seems awkward now is something i know will get into my muscle memory, so i tie knots in all those in-between times of day; those 3 or 5 or 7 minute segments that aren't really long enough to do something else but too short to waste.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

around the table

around the table


(verse 1)     it's magic, this feasting neighbors under the stars
with laughter-lit candles we're strangers no more
i want to taste and see all that i ever can of love

(verse 2)     it's power, this shadow under the cross
the light on my face of such willing loss
for all that is gain in this precious body and blood

around the table

(chorus)     i come as i am and bring what i have
hungry as anything to know and be known
to be who i am and never feel alone

around the table

(bridge)     you set a place and we are fed
filled and understood
every guest seat has room for more
as wine and bread keep flowing

around the table

we come as we are and bring what we have
hungry as anything to know and be known
to be who we are and never feel alone

around the table, around the table
there's room at the table, won't you come to the table

ls 8.27.17

Monday, August 21, 2017

another year of shared learning

august feels to me like an abundance of queen anne's lace and blackberries...time to have ice cream with the neighbors...foster camp...escaping to beach walk during heatwaves...and this year:  the eclipse! 

and time to pour over that stack from the library before school starts.  i just finished reading "lab girl" by hope jahren, a renowned scientist, and "anatomy of the soul" by dr. curt thompson.  "my life with bob (book of books)" by pamela paul was a funny account of her reading history, and next on my list are "life without a recipe" by diana abu-jabar and "the genius of birds" by jennifer ackerman.

i came across what looks like a great tale of adventure yesterday called "the yellow envelope" by kim dinan about how she and her husband quit their jobs to travel the world.  i'll keep you posted (on the reading, that is, not necessarily quitting my job to travel--although i'm sure some days it will be tempting)...admittedly, my reading pace slows, but by no means ceases, as i start teaching again.  i truly believe in being what one of my students wrote to me, "miss smith, you are a teacher who continually loves being taught." 

how right she is and how i look forward to another year of shared learning!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

no hard feelings

this song came on the radio when i was driving downtown and it really touched me, heart and soul.  i can't say exactly why, other than that it was honest.  it wasn't trying too hard and steered clear of both saccharine sweet or depressing, striking me instead as just a warm, glowing middle that made me think the lyrics could hold true for anyone.  it's by the avett brothers on their newest album "true sadness" and it's called "no hard feelings."  i'll type the lyrics out for you below and also include a link to the music video.

when my body won't hold me anymore and it finally lets me free will i be ready?
when my feet won't walk another mile and my lips give their last kiss goodbye
will my hands be steady?
when i lay down my fears my hopes and my doubts,
the rings on my fingers and the keys to my house with no hard feelings...

when the sun hangs low in the west and the light in my chest won't be kept held at bay any longer
when the jealousy fades away and it's ash and dust for cash and lust
and it's just hallelujah
and love in the thoughts and love in the words
love in the songs they sing in the church
and no hard feelings

Lord knows they haven't done much good for anyone
kept me afraid and cold with so much to have and hold

when my body won't hold me anymore and it finally lets me free where will i go?
will the trade winds take me south through Georgia grain or tropical rain
or snow from the heavens?
will i join with the ocean blue or run into the Savior true
and shake hands laughing and walk through the night straight to the light
holding the love i've known in my life and no hard feelings...

under the curving sky i'm finally learning why
it matters for me and you to say it and mean it too
for life and its loveliness and all of its ugliness
good as it's been to me i have no enemies...

music video "no hard feelings"

Monday, August 7, 2017


this is a great new-to-me word!  sisu, (pronounced see-soo, noun) means:  extraordinary endurance in the face of adversity.  synonyms:  persistence, determination, guts, tenacity, resolve, willpower; full of courage and an indomitable spirit. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

joy upon joy

this has been my favorite commission lately:  "the windhover" by gerard manley hopkins.  it was with extreme joy and purpose that i answered the email requesting this text to be hand-lettered for someone who was going through a hard time.

the person requesting the artwork wondered if i was familiar with hopkins' poetry... i responded that not only was i familiar with him, but that he was my favorite poet of all times and that it so happened i have this particular poem memorized (the recitation was a gift for my late grandfather, whose name, i later discovered, meant 'falcon', the bird hopkins employs as a Christ metaphor).

i set to work immediately creating this piece that has since gone to live with someone i have never met but whom i hope takes great joy, comfort, and encouragement from both the images and the text. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

rachel ann austin

i am a big fan of rachel austin's artwork and have recently received many of her beautiful cards that i plan to frame.

so imagine my surprise when, at my 62-year-old friend's house for tea/housesitting tour and instructions today, i saw rachel's pieces everywhere--in just about every room.  when i said i loved her work, my friend said, "oh! rachel was a student of mine!" and then my friend proceeded to take me around the garden, "rachel even helped me put these river rocks in the water feature when we were adding the pond."

what a small and delightful world.  to view more of rachel's work, you can visit her website at:


cenotes is a new word to me; it connotes natural wells where freshwater surfaces.  i learned it from my continuation in reading "anthropology of turquoise" by ellen meloy.  (which, incidentally, i had automatically misspelled in a previous entry from the time i worked at anthropologie the store and stand corrected).

meloy writes that cenotes are abundant in the yucatan in the form of ocean, marsh, lagoon, and underground rivers, "...a tropical forest swollen with invasion and sheer presence, the sea pushes itself into what is drinkable and what is heard, or what you miss hearing when you are distant from the surf.  the sea holds an abundance of comfort and inspiration and danger, all that a person needs in order to rise to the full largesse of beauty."

meloy's writing is so enjoyable to me that i looked her up to see what else she had written and was sad to discover she had already passed away (same with alice steinbach) both at too young of an age in my opinion.  so i was extra grateful to them for taking the time to describe their adventures in such great and poetic detail. on the bright side, there are other novels authored by them.  and it was fun to learn that colin meloy (local singer-songwriter, lead of the decemberists) is ellen's nephew.  and so, her legacy continues!

life, like freshwater, always surfaces.

Friday, July 28, 2017

hardy elegance

this paragraph stopped me and invited itself to be read again and again:

"...when nicole appeared, sans apron, we sat down to lunch.  fresh asparagus bought from a nearby market garden was arranged on a striking ceramic serving plate, next to a bowl of lemony hollandaise sauce.  olive oil glowed like liquid gold in its glass container.  a pork roast appeared accompanied by a platter of petite pois--shelled by nicole--and bits of ham.  in the center of the peas was a circle of artichokes and tiny, thinly sliced was poured into long-stemmed glasses as thin as paper.  and, as we ate and drank, time stole silently away, leaving in its place:  a feeling of contentment. 

eventually, pots of chocolate mousse flavored with bits of orange rind appeared, accompanied by a big bowl of ripe juicy strawberries coated with sugar.  i ate everything placed before me, my appetite whetted not only by the superb food but by the company as well.  this was a house of many apppetites:  for books and music and art and flowers and conversation and, of course, food.  it was a house that had been nurtured by hardy, elegant people whose lives, like the olive trees surrounding them, had put down deep roots here.  and it was a house from which i would take away many good memories when thoughts of provence danced in my head. 

as we were finishing dessert, jacques turned to me and asked if i would like a second pot of chocolate mousse.  'oh, thank you but no,' i said, 'i loved it, but one was enough.'

jacques leaned toward me, his large well-shaped head almost brushing mine, 'when you love something, you don't count.' "
--alice steinbach

Thursday, July 20, 2017

educating lanette: my latest stack

a new week, a new stack of books!

"my life with bob:  flawed heroine keeps book of books, plot ensues" by pamela paul promises to be hilarious!

really enjoying ellen meloy's writing in "anthropology of turquoise:  reflections on desert, sea, stone, and sky." she is at once a rich and textured author with moments of laugh out loud humor who takes her subject--but never herself--seriously.

and a kinship for love of learning in "educating alice:   adventures of a curious woman" by alice steinbach.

fresh from the library like a loaf of bread?  "the baker's secret" by stephen p. kiernan.

i'm also really looking forward to "anatomy of the soul: surprising connections between neuroscience and spiritual practices" by curt thompson, MD and a small but power-packed book on peace by father jaques philippe.

Friday, July 14, 2017

my life according to trees

when faced with the choice of distracting myself or leaning into an unplanned day, i chose the latter and let one thing lead me to another like a trail of crumbs.  i found myself making sustaining food and bread from leftovers in the pantry and doing rather the same thing with words:  a day of unexpected writing. 

so i started to type.  just for the joy of it.  and i'm rather pleased with how it turned out.  i titled it "my life according to trees" and began...
"Of the two basic forces at work in the world, we are both. 
Those who act and those who are acted upon.  But don’t be fooled, we are anything but sedentary.  Even Milton said “they also serve who only stand and wait”.
We are the trees and we met her when she first learned about death.
She, like her ancestors, will come to rest beneath the smooth bark of madrones on their shared and silent hillside. 
But that day she was anything but silent and not about to share.

(The bulk of story is several pages devoted to eight significant trees in my life, but from their perspective:  willow, walnut, cherry, fir, maple, linden, cedar, and aspen).

It closes...

She can feel it, though she still doesn’t understand, she knows.  Even though she has never felt more at home inside herself, most all of us will outlive her.  And that brings comfort, making her feel appropriately small in the scheme of things, so fitting that she came and went while we stayed in one place. 

Of the two basic forces at work in the world, we are both.  Those who act and those who are acted upon.  But don’t be fooled, we are anything but sedentary.  Those of us that she will outlive, she considers replanting--our mode of travel--fingering a pine cone in her hand certain to burst open, like the rest of her life, one way or another."

small town time, anywhere

want to feel like you live in a small town even if you don't?  here's my top 20:

do errands in a different city and store
visit your own chamber of commerce
drive an unfamiliar route
check out magazines from the library
build in time to visit in the store
read books to kids
listen to an older person's story
wander world market aisles
cook an ethnic dish
visit on a front or back porch
feed the birds
write old fashioned letters
figure out and take care of that nagging thing
start something from seed
try a new walk/run/bike path
pack a picnic for one and eat in a local green space
compliment a store/business you frequent
leave a wildflower boquet anonymously
do a tools or services swap
carpool or take public transportation

table for one

the dinner party

how could i be lonely
with such company as birds:
a forest spread
alive with true-song
conversation and a panoply
of green?

this i would prefer
over place settings with
company fallen mute
overly familiar at which
there is no true communion
no feast of souls

to taste ones food--really,
have you ever had such a dish!--i
say aloud and raise a glass
yes, a table for one can
be the richest fare:
alone but sated ever

ls 7.14.17

learn your knots

ahh, the lazy days of summer--what better time to learn your knots?  basic sailing knots, that is.  grab a small rope or two, there are plenty of books, pictures and online tutorials available. 

even if you're not planning to become a sailor, you never know when they might come in handy!  (and if you've seen the movie "hacksaw ridge"--true story!  you know that a knot just might save lives.)

i taught myself:  bowline, cleat hitch, round turn, rolling hitch, sheet bend, square knot, figure 8, trucker's hitch, and clove hitch. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


i can only figure i must have been given, at birth, an extra large capacity for life because it is my idea of fun to spend extended time in philosophical conversation.  for example, when a friend of mine wanted to bounce his ideas around about the philosophy of art and spirituality, i was all over it, for several hours! not only that, but it left me energized because that kind of talk is somewhat rare in our society.  feeling a kinship with poets from the 1800's and thinkers is just the beginning.

i also like to think that i was given an equal dosage of silliness and a kind form of sarcasm to balance things out.  like a surge protector for the brain; a cooling system so the mind doesn't overheat.  because i also routinely crack myself up and find humor in the simplest of places.

recently i saw two magazine articles that had me giggling out loud in sarcasm font.  the first was "the perfect morning according to pinterest" and the second was "martha stewart's calendar."  now, i don't know about you, but when i wake up, it is nothing like pinterest.  my hair is sticking out in weird curls while i walk, bleary-eyed in mismatched pjs to feed the chickens with a dented tin can.  (doesn't this scream "photo shoot"?)

when i see features of families in design magazines where children are eating red things on white shag rugs or playing music with their parents while all clad in matching tones of linen, i can't help but think about the reality of sticky floors, broken toys, chocolate stains, and ear-splitting screams.  it's no wonder i prefer to be around real families, whose kids get splinters and fall off of swings and struggle to share and like to bang on pianos.

we can't live up to the photo shoots.  it's nice that martha can have her cars waxed and serviced while making post-winter spa appointments and still manage to get exotic heirloom seeds planted in the perfect weather while creating an intergalactic space party with matching planet cakes for her grandkids.  knock yourself out!  when i wash my car it is immediately covered in dust which happily reminds me that it's ok for things to get dirty.  i like my wooden spoon that has burn marks on it from happy cooking memories.  and boxes of recycled bottles and watermelon rinds and burnt-out ends of fireworks that call to mind the easy, unmatched laughter of the mess and wonder of getting together.

it's what makes life so beautfiful--the deep and the silly.  the tidy and the bleared all rolled up in one big package of real.

Monday, July 10, 2017

water girl

"i must be a mermaid, i have no fear of depths
and a great fear of shallow living."  anais nin

paren springs grows up

our little neck of the woods just keeps getting better!  the nicest people are moving into the neighborhood.

we have not only a bed & breakfast, but also a vineyard and a lavender farm.

want to stay in wine country or have out of town guests who do?  jason and savannah have created an ideal spot.  simply go to air bnb and type in "fruitland acres bed & breakfast".

across the road from them is the newly planted twin pines vineyard.

and right next to that is where i'm hoping to help plant this week.  i really enjoy reading their blog and you might as well at:  little lavender farm

we all woke up to the nicest surprise this week when a hot air balloon made an unplanned landing.  it flew low, right over my bedroom window--so low, in fact i could hear them talking--before landing just across the way from our hen house in the neighbor's field.

just one more reason why i love where we live...

Sunday, July 9, 2017

in search of guascas

i'm in search of it, and now i know it doesn't exist in portland markets, maybe not even in the USA...guascas, the herb for use in making the traditional colombian dish ajiaco. 

my aunt gave me the recipe and i had everything else for making it except this.  so, wanting to be authentic (and already being authentically stubborn) blondie here literally went into every latino and world market in this great city of ours to be answered with quizzical looks, "no...not here in this market, maybe try..."

even the colombian food cart folks looked at me and shrugged.

i think you can order it from amazon, but i've already promised dinner for friends.  so, short of flying to bogota, i will have to settle for cumin, cilantro, and the closest guascas substitute of oregano.

here is a recipe if you want to try it out at home:  colombian ajiaco recipe

and let me know if you are successful at finding the guascas!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

fiction, non-fiction, poetry and prose

relishing almost nothing more than reading an entire novel in one sitting, here are some summer recommendations from me to you...

non-fiction:  "the beekeeper's lament" by hannah nordhaus.  i don't think i will ever take a honey bee for granted.  the book even inspired me to go outside, find a bee, and watch it for about 20 minutes as it gathered pollen.  for bringing future blackberry jam into existence for us, i thanked it before driving out to promptly buy organic orange blossom honey (i can be very impressionable in the food and reading department).  beekeeping for profit is a hard-won profession, but having a few apiary boxes sounds fun to me, perhaps in the next season of life.

fiona stafford has me looking at trees differently, too.  also in the non-fiction category, the cover of "the long, long life of trees" caught my eye in the "new" section of the library.  since i actually DO judge books somewhat by their cover, i was intrigued.  the illustrations and even the paper itself was high quality.  chapter by chapter, from oak to ash and holly to apple, stafford (herself a smart english literature professor at oxford) unpacks surprising tidbits, facts, superstitions, poetry, and ecology surrounding these stately (and not so stately) companions.  i couldn't resist pressing a leaf and placing it inside the jacket for the next person to find, it seemed fitting. 

in the fiction department (although closely woven from real life stories) is new author hala alyan.  hala was born in 1986 and completed her doctorate in psychology after living in various parts of the middle east.  she divides her time between private practice and teaching at new york university.  her novel, "salt houses" is beautifully written, so it was not surprising to me that her prose stems from also being an award-winning author of three poetry collections. (it made me want to go out and buy fresh figs). she is a seasoned performer who has given TED talks and currently lives in new york city.  for more about her you can visit:

since both my olive oil and books are running low, it's clearly time for some restocking!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

sedona photo essay

the larger view

crossing "grand canyon" off my 'wild woman list of things to do' is a thrilling feeling.  even this word girl can't describe it, it falling too short of description--you truly do have to see it for yourself!  it's the reason that often nature 'is my favorite church' because, like visiting the ocean, it puts me in my proper (small) place regarding the great scheme of things.

(tourist tip:  if you don't have time to raft the colorado river in person, taking in the IMAX version is worth it)

i thought a lot about positive and negative space; the canyon, but also the magnitude of space and sky that made the contrast possible.

at the top of the rim, we met the nicest navajo woman who, over ice cream, told us about her favorite place to get navajo tacos and she was right!

my cousin gave me an early birthday gift, a copy of "grand canyon:  a different view" by tom vail that i would also highly recommend.

heaven's gate

my cousins live right next door to my aunt in flagstaff, arizona.  on my recent visit, in addition to getting to see the grand canyon for the first time and the red rocks of sedona, i think the most important part was getting to know one another better.  there was time for, as my friends in hawaii say, "talking story."

what was it like being a missionary in south america for over 35 years?  what did you learn from growing up in boarding school?  and i had time to look at my cousin gail's artwork.  being the "baby" cousin, i was little when they would come home on furloughs.  gail (who has since passed away) is the one who taught me to draw and who gave me a cross stitch and wrote on the back, "being an artist takes practice, so keep practicing" that i keep in my current art classroom.

she loved to paint scenes from ecuador, especially blue doors and open gates.  her last sketch, "heaven's gate" which she did in the hospital, is the one her husband asked me to watercolor in memory of her.  always colorful, her pieces seemed to brighten with time and experience. 

just during this trip did i learn that gail had wanted to be an art teacher!  what a colorful mystery...
"heaven's gate"

love & laser tag

summer weddings are sweet.  brides and grooms who've loved each other since they were eight years old are even sweeter.  such is the case with my lovely young friend here.

it was delightful to pitch in as a community to get everything ready and also enjoy ourselves along the way. it was also a blast getting to know and hang out with her friends.

here's a major reason why you should keep up your daily exercise routine as you mature:  being an almost 43-year old bridesmaid, my idea of a bridal party might be a nice dinner out and early bedtime.  this bridal party?  late night laser tag!

having friends of all ages is such a good thing--in this case, ones that keep you young!  there we were chasing each other through the trees, bridesmaids vs. groomsmen.  the twenty-somethings were panting, pouring water over their faces, and calling it quits just as i was ready to go for another round.  that made me feel good, as in, yes, those walk/bike/occasional swims/yoga are worth it! 

they are finally married, which in some ways is no different than having them around at all the events anyway, except that now it is official.  and theirs is a marriage i can truly see lasting for life; one of growing old together.