Sunday, September 23, 2018

into great silence

this is, for the genre, one of the most truly thoughtful and soul-stunning films i've taken time with.

as an inner monastic who is active in her community, a both-and i feel called to, it reminded me that even in the most chaotic of environments, i can remain centered, peaceful, and purposeful; with practice.

silence is more and more welcome to me, as a necessary part that gives sound meaning; like the rests in jazz music that make notes come most alive.

welcome, autumn

i've had my annual pumpkin spice latte, harvested potatoes, picked apples, and made applesauce!

here are some lovely images from my morning walk to welcome in this stunning and cozy season...

Friday, September 14, 2018


there are three quotes i'm mulling over these days.

the first is from my friend shannon who said, "tread lightly on this earth" and all that means of grace i have yet to discover, but found it incredibly refreshing.

the second is "some people reflect the image of God better than others".  this came from my cousin tracy over pub-fare while discussing both monastic and military life.

and the third i saw on a card in the store, "things come to you when you have the capacity to receive them." 

what's a quote you are drawn to lately?


this great word, i came across in a magazine.  guelaguetza in oaxacan means to both give and receive.  it means a lot to the people to share, not expecting anything immediately in return.

for example, if a friend of yours provides drinks for your daughter's wedding reception, at some point--even years in the future--when someone else in the community needs something from you, it's time to pay it forward. 

this system of mutual cooperation, sustained over years or even a lifetime, in a culture that prizes connection over profit nurtures both trust and social unity. 

what is refreshing to me about the concept is there is time to relax and receive.  instead of a vague form of score keeping where people feel guilty if they aren't able to respond in kind right away, it is a time-honored rhythm like breathing in and breathing out.  everyone's giving of themselves, knowing what it is to receive.


Saturday, September 8, 2018


it's happening! my co-host and i are preparing for an art day retreat in wine country...

...registrations have poured in, so we are not able to further advertise as we are already at capacity. and the other good news is we may host one again!

i especially love all of the organic connections that began and brought this all together, including the catered lunch with proceeds going to help others.

gather. nourish. make!

what autumn is all about

Thursday, September 6, 2018

wine country sketch

this was a fun sketch to do!  i will put it under the art section of my blog here, thing i would love to do is custom sketches for people of favorite places they've traveled; whimsical, memorable maps they can frame!

Monday, September 3, 2018

consider the tournesol

this is me, considering the tournesols, or sunflowers. in preference to their French name giving them their "turn to the sun" nature, a friend and i stopped by the field.

we waded in and took pictures, for no other reason than that the flowers made us happy.

several things are to be enjoyed about this time of year, a turning to a new season.

the city mouse in me loves a day like yesterday: brunch at my favorite portland diner, browsing fashion & home decor, people-watching over quality espresso, and stocking my desk and art space with fine papers for letter-writing and new art supplies for rainy days.

my inner country mouse revels in today: fresh hay for the hens' nests, picking apples for the first pies, harvesting potatoes (the vintage bathtub container garden worked!) trips to Wilco garden & feed, and filling the pantry for shared fall feasting.

what do you especially enjoy about the turning from summer to autumn?

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

won't you be my neighbor?

what a fantastic film!

growing up watching the tv show, this is a delightful trip down memory lane honoring a man who had integrity, faith, and joy.

glad he's back, this time in movie form...

being a class act

i can't take credit for the following list (the author's name escapes me at the moment--to him all credit is due) but i have been given a lot of opportunities to practice that i can speak to! 

introducing these to my students this week to create a culture that rises above the norm/expected in good and refreshing ways:

1)  live according to your own high standards

2)  be calm and graceful under pressure

3)  model the type of behavior you want to see

4)  let your humanity lead you toward greater compassion; be courteous in conflict

5)  transform ordinary moments into something meaningful and memorable

6)  express beauty, truth, and goodness

7)  tell the truth and turn defeats into progress

8)  raise the integrity of all situations

9)  foster and encourage the unique differences in others

10) increase the confidence and capabilities of those around you

Monday, August 27, 2018

yes, please

i met the most fascinating couple the other day...vibrant, alive, truly interested (which made them interesting), learners, active, funny...and in their 80's!  in fact, the gentleman was 89 and they had only been married (to each other after each of their spouses passed away) for 8 years.  that means he got married again at age 81!

what struck me most was how much more energy i had after our interaction than before.  nothing about them was draining.  and they were both whole people who brought a complete self to the relationship.  they didn't need to say this, i just sensed it.

not only that, but they didn't take themselves too seriously.  and they were kind.  one of the reasons i met them in the first place was because they were in our neck of the woods because of kindness:  they had let another couple go ahead of them in a line who ended up winning a great prize.  not only did they not complain ("that should have been ours!") but were pleasantly surprised when the couple in front of them turned around, thanked them for their kindness, and invited them along to share in the prize!

we talked for quite a while and not once did they bemoan a single thing.  in fact, i've known folks 20 years younger than them who act 20 years older.  this is not to say that i'm sure they don't feel the gravity and effects of aging, but they were so positive, so very absolutely alive that you wouldn't have known their age if they hadn't told me.  yes, please.  this is who i want to be.

a friend of mine wrote me recently that a rich life is made up of the following:  giving & receiving, learning & teaching, rest & action, change & stability and that we will go in and out of all of the quadrants in each season.

what about your life do you hope to model to others, leaving them more energized than when you met?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

rethinking showers

not to worry, i'm not talking about rethinking personal hygeine, i'm thinking about the bridal and baby kind.  for example, there are showers for those welcoming a spouse or a child into their lives...why not throw someone a shower for entering a new phase of life?  thinking about those who are retiring, adopting, moving, overcoming an illness, starting a new job...and all that goes with those transitions.

it could be quite fun for them to set up a registry and have a party, just because.  it can normalize the stages of life that we all go through at our own time and in different ways.  even if the person doesn't need a lot in terms of material goods, a registry for donating to their favorite charity, or giftcards for businesses that support their particular causes or lifestyle needs could be very enjoyable for all involved; a win-win.

or, a shower could be for no reason at all, other than wanting to celebrate someone's life.  it's got me thinking about showers in a whole new way.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

loving vincent

this film took six years to create, the result of a collaboration of over one hundred different artists handpainting the scenes, which i find remarkable!

it explores some possibilities surrounding the end of van gogh's life that, while hard to pinpoint in reality, are interesting to mull over in terms of an historic perspective.

the genre, however, is mesmerizing; both in keeping with the artist's style but also modernized, using live actors and actresses in tandem with the still life works. 

i highly recommend it!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

lavender time

the lavender planted by my neighbors last year was ready to harvest a couple of weeks ago! we gathered it in, friends and family, followed by learning to make lavender wreaths.

always generous hosts, this was followed by a field dinner and fresh blackberry cobbler.

i can't sum it up any better than the youngest one among us who said, juice and ice cream on her lips, "every day is a perfect day".

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

act 1, scene 3

i have a friend who works at the market i frequent and we've developed the art of encouragement while she's stocking shelves, a sort of "daily affirmation in the frozen foods section" if you will.

this week when it was my turn, being hungry and tired, all i could come up with was borrowed words, so i said, "to thine own self be true."

when i arrived home less than an hour later, there was a package waiting for me, out from which tumbled a magnet bearing the same words, "to thine own self be true"!?

shakespeare, in hamlet, has polonius speak this line. the second part, however, is just as key and that is, "... and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man."

sounds suspiciously like "love thy neighbor as yourself" to me. and i am left pondering this interaction and mystery: in what ways do being true to ourselves better, and more authentically, serve others?

(not to worry, mom, this isn't a picture of my arm)

lessons from a succulent

i consider myself a fairly good gardener, but the tending that makes fruit and vegetables happy kills cactus.

the irony of succulents presented itself when yet another one died but i came home to two new ones on my doorstep as a gift.

i over-water, just like i over-tend to things and people sometimes. it's what people want in a pet and house sitter, but no cacti is safe with me.

this brings me to the awareness that a little "healthy neglect" might serve me, others, and my new succulent plants well. tending is not my problem.

i remind myself that, nature needing no improvement, there is a time to just let things be.

we can't make anything grow, after all, but we can give it the right environment to help it (or them, in the case of people) flourish.

that said, my intention is to try to ignore my new and super cute little plants in hopes of them actually surviving me.

wisdom from the desert, lessons from a succulent.

bottle shock

this is a comedy (2008) starring chris pine about how a napa valley chardonnay upset the french wine industry in 1976.
when a british wine connoisseur sets up shop in paris, he is unsettled to hear that california vineyards are becoming increasingly popular.

he decides to visit and taste them in person, ultimately setting up the historic blind tasting that would rock the european wine world.

(it is based on a true story and the winning vintage is actually on display at the smithsonian!)

Sunday, July 8, 2018

wildflower picking time

on a recent wildlife refuge hike with my parents and aunt, she was reminded of when she and my uncle would go wildflower picking as kids.

i love this photo she sent of them collecting lamb's tongue flowers with grandma (my mom is 10 years younger and yet to be born).

what family traditions or outings do you remember fondly and want to continue?

Friday, July 6, 2018

worth our salt?

credit for this blog post's inspiration goes to my dad who, over a meal started wondering out loud about the etymology of something he had read about salary being somehow related to salt.

being word lovers, we looked it up and sure enough, the word salary (sel/salarie in French) is derived from the Latin sal or salarium for "wages".

as history goes this is an abbreviation for argentum, or "salt money" referring to Roman soldiers being paid in salt, and also where we get the modern vernacular, "to earn or to be worth your salt".

even if you don't fancy your employer trading your time for this flavor-enhancing mineral, you can still use it to improve your cooking.

it is first in the list of culinary foundations in the book i am currently practicing from, " salt, fat, acid, heat" by samin nostrat.

in the words of james  beard, father of american cookery, "where would we be without salt?"

Tuesday, July 3, 2018


just minding my own business today, two different people just randomly gifted me books--that's a good day, in my mind! 

the first, via a mutual friend, is "lines from a place that's all sky" by the ever-beautiful and wise poet i am fortunate enough to know robin m. lawton.

the other, also fresh from the press, is by amy natzke (who handed me a copy in the bookstore parking lot) entitled "turnings:  a book of consolation and provocation".  i know amy as a violinist and so it was fun to know that she also enjoys writing.

a sample of each...


she says that angels
touch the earth
where water is
and she speaks truth,
i know.

dark green dams
on afternoons
of numinous skies
green boughs tipping
to touch the breezy forms.

she pictures airy essence
stroking worlds with wonder
rainbow shades
where earth
and water are.

she says that angels
touch the earth
where water is.
and angel she,
she speaks truth. i know.

by robin m. lawton


"those in whom Christ is disguised are not only strangers and enemies--they are our neighbors, and they are us.  in disguising himself this way, Jesus answers our prayers for himself, as we say that we seek to love him.  he has put himself within our reach.  if we want him, we can find him."--amy natzke

Thursday, June 28, 2018

the light all around me

this is what a Portland street poet made up and wrote for me today, typed on her vintage smith-corona:

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

new ways to wait

today i experienced a new way to wait in the same old lines.

for example, last night i watched the movie "Dunkirk" (the scene of civilian boats showing up to rescue stranded soldiers bringing tears to my eyes) which relates here because in front of me today was an elderly couple, a man in a wheelchair being pushed by his wife.

noticing his Navy cap, i thanked him for his military service, referencing the movie. to this the wife added that one of her closest friends bears a tattoo from surviving the Holocaust.

"she must have only been a small child", i said. " yes," she answered, "none of her family survived and she doesn't like to talk about it". it was a less-than three minute interaction, and yet we saw each other and shared a moment that we may not have otherwise.

in another store a very classy older lady came in the door behind me. i happened to hear her talk about trying to get a job but being old. " i know you don't know me," i began, "but i hope you don't say that about yourself. there's only humans and we will all be where you are if we are lucky enough. i might add it seems you're really put together and we would do well to listen to you."

this surprised her and began what turned out to be a twenty minute visit, her telling me about the history of our town when you could come to the same building we were standing in, once a soda fountain, where they  bought treats for just fifteen cents.

she seemed to really enjoy telling me about the history of the land that had been in her family for over one hundred years (several acres of it now a school) as well as fond memories of eating summer berries with real cream at her grandmother's.

sure, it's not always like this, sometimes an errand's just an errand. but today's interactions have me rethinking the time we spend waiting in lines.

do you have a memorable waiting story?

Friday, June 22, 2018

martha stewart's calendar

i have to laugh when i read martha  stewart's *calendar in the front of Living magazine. Of course...

Monday: cardio, take twins to riding lessons, prepare asparagus grafts

Tuesday: weights, de-moss garden cottage roof, make celebrity
appearance on Food Network

Wednesday: yoga, oil change on Land rover, prune grapes and hand press for sangria

Thursday: cardio, fertilize Meyer lemons, host brunch for foreign diplomat

Friday: weights, hike with pure bred dogs, espalier apple orchard for fall cider...

*fictionalized by me, as opposed to an ordinary...

Monday: start workout DVD, get distracted by dust bunnies

Tuesday: stand in line at Target, weed garden

Wednesday: put dishes away from Sunday, try to finish workout video

Thursday:  the weeds have multiplied overnight

Friday: start laundry, donate workout video to local thrift store

what about your calendar makes you laugh the most?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

this i believe, part deux

i believe in neighbors.

like Mr. Rogers sang, "won't you be my neighbor?" ringing true demographically in a hospitality-starved world.

i live where i am fortunate enough to enjoy aspects of community that, did i not experience them, i might not believe still existed...

canning applesauce and carving pumpkins in the fall, Christmas caroling and light-lined driveways in the winter, tea and puzzles in spring until it is warm enough for endless summer meals and berry pies in the lavender field under party lights, laughing at outdoor movies until our sides ache.

just the other day i came home to freshly baked bread on my doorstep, celebrating another successful school year and start to vacation.

art lives on my fridge from coloring with the kids during our latest potluck.  "would you like to keep it!?" grinned the eldest daughter. "would i !? best art ever!" we think nothing of sharing books, eggs, or anything extra we have.

we help each other when water pumps wear out or we need a truck to transport furniture. we feed the rabbits, goats, or chickens when someone is out of town.  or we enjoy chatting, unhurried at the mailboxes, picking wild sweet peas. sometimes we stay up too late talking, because we know home is just a walk away.

i love my neighbors and can feel the love they have for me in return.

this i believe.

this i believe

inspired by reading "this i believe: the personal philosophies of remarkable men and women" (edited by jay allison and dan gediman in association with NPR) i decided, as the collection encourages, to write my own.

i believe in dirt. more properly termed soil, for all its aliveness from which life is sustained.

i remember being four years old, working alongside my parents in the greenhouse. my job was watering the disc-like seed starters until they swelled to three inches.  then i could put the seed in the opening at the top and push it down with my forefinger, my expression alternating between concentration and delight.

i'm named after my great grandma nettie who raised chickens and gorgeous flower gardens.  my favorite photo is of her standing beneath her ten foot sunflowers, squint-smiling into the sun.

another relative, who spent his life farming in Alberta, told me over coffee around the camp fire about his practice of letting the land rest, the importance of cover crops, and putting nitrogen back into the soil.

i've tasted the difference between an artificially ripened tomato (akin on the palate to what pale pink packing foam might taste like) as compared with one that bursts on my tongue with all the sweetness of sunshine. and there is nothing like eating a carrot straight from the garden.

when pouring for guests in the tasting room, they tell me they can taste the difference in wines from various levels of volcanic soil and elevation. "wine," i say, "is from the dirt and dirt keeps us humble."

the name Adam in Hebrew, for example, means "from the earth", a reminder of our own mineral-miraculous composition and place in a landscape bigger than ourselves.

it's this primal connection to the soil that reminds me nature needs no improvement.  she will continue to sustain us if we care for her.

this i believe.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

and the pursuit of happiness

this is such a fun book!  being that i am at the "looking at pictures" stage of reading (aka: magazines and other mindlessness) having just 2 days of school left, it was relaxing to savor this stroll through history over a cup of tea.

illustrator maira kalman is one of my favorites, and her whimsical style and laugh out loud humor was an enjoyable way to learn more about our founding fathers.

Monday, June 4, 2018

the central park effect

this is such a fun, one-hour documentary about all the bird life in central park!  it tracks migratory patterns through the four seasons and highlights at least three birdwatchers from varied walks of life.

i've been to central park and still had no idea the vastness of the bird species.  it makes sense, though, from an aerial view, when they are looking for a place to rest and feed, that they would choose this green space in the heart of new york.

call me old fashioned...

why is it people seem to appreciate a stamped letter in the mail or a paper invitation to an event so much?  is perhaps what used to be the norm now the exception?  i started to wonder and then observe some social trends to decide what practices i wanted to keep and these are my top ten:

i want to...

1) say "absolutely", "right away", or "you've got it" when serving someone (this instead of "no problem" because that makes it sound like there was a problem to be solved instead of a person to be served)

2)  count back people's change, both bills and coins

3)  tip well (it used to mean To Insure Prompt service and now is a reward) and RSVP (from the french Repondez-vous S'il-Vous Plait) whether i am able to attend or not

4) drive 55 mph and enjoy the ride

5) use stamps to send real thank you cards in the mail, same with party invitations as much as possible

6)  wait in lines without checking my phone and make eye contact and conversation with the clerk, ask them "how's your day?" and listen to their response

7)  grow fruit and vegetables/immerse myself in the birds and wildlife around me

8) make bespoke things for people by hand, from baked goods to art

9)  ask open-ended questions such as "what can i get for you?" instead of "can i get you anything?"

10) play *board games

*i was reading a magazine this week and the irony i saw made me laugh:  on one page was an add for the latest technology and a few pages later was an article about tech-detox family spa vacations where their internet access is blocked for them so they can reconnect to each other and play board games.  this only for an average of $5, 673.

what are some habits or practices you would like to keep alive?

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

the life & love of trees

this large tome of a coffee table book contains beautiful photos of trees around the world.  lewis blackwell's photography and writing really gives one pause to appreciate these unique vertical giants (and not-so-giants) among us.

it makes me glad i planted a tree over 10 years ago on the property my family owns in southern oregon.  a cedar sprig i received at the portland marathon finish line transported via bucket came to its new home, my grandpa tapping the dry ground with his cane.  he really did know the best place to plant it, in ground supported by early march springs.

thanks to the thoughtful watering done by my uncle in the dry summer months, not only did the cedar survive (the willow shoots were not as fortunate, although the deer enjoyed them) but is thriving and well on its way to being a legacy, like my grandma in whose honor it was planted.

this winter, when i was missing greenery, i wrote my life story from the perspective of trees, which was quite an intriguing experience since they are rooted and we come and go around them.  the writing exercise really caused me to appreciate them and our part in their story, since most of them will outlive us.

what's your favorite type of tree memory and why?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

spring and exponential growth

just 9 days old
same bird 5.22.18

baby bird 5.20.18

Monday, May 21, 2018

the color of love

middle school mixed media

paint chips by sherwin-williams, newberg

painting by 6th grader

entrance and photo gallery

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

ocean in the fire

beautiful display by a beautiful artist!  ceramics by monika vitek at behind the museum cafe (1229 SW 10th, portland OR) may-june 2018. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Monday, May 7, 2018

what we see in our stars

i can see the stars very well where i live, on account of being away from a lot of the city lights.  this book was a fun read to educate myself further on constellations and all manner of celestial happenings going on all the time around and above us.

*i even think the author's last name sounds perfect for the book she's written, as in maybe she should have a galaxy named after her!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

sea church

i love this poem so much and feel the same way about the ocean!

sea church

give me a church
made entirely of salt.
let the walls hiss
and smoke when i return
to shore.

i ask for grace
of a new freckle
on my cheek, the lift
of blue and my mother's
soapy skin to greet me.

hide me in a room
with no windows.
never let me see
the dolphins leaping
into commas

for this water-prayer
rising like a host
of sky lanterns into
the inky evening.
let them hang

in the sky until
they vanish at the edge
of the constellations--
the heroes and animals
too busy and bright to notice.

by aimee nezhukumatathil

Monday, April 23, 2018

california typewriter

just watched this documentary and even though i love my new laptop, this made me want to go out and also buy a vintage typewriter immediately!

named after a repair shop, this film features the collectors, history, and benefits of the typewriter as *tool (*this is the simple root meaning of the word technology) and why so many people are going back to it.

actor tom hanks collects them, musician john mayer uses one to type his lyrics, and other famous authors prefer them over word processors in order to really see and edit their work on paper.  there is even--get this! a 'typewriter band' who uses the keys and bells to make music!?

i remember typing out papers in high school on our old smith-corona electric typewriter, using correction tape or fluid to cover mistakes.  my grandpa always had one out on his dining room table to type letters and take care of business paperwork.  what are some of your typewriter memories?

water walking