Friday, November 30, 2018

worth the wait

advent begins tomorrow.  and with it, i'm trying an exercise in waiting well.  the last entry poem would not have been written had it not been for this practice.  it's nice when solitary moments of bliss open up the poet's imagination, birds sing, and winds blow gently through the trees. 

in this case, it was crowded, anything but bliss, and my senses were bombarded by smells of bad coffee, rubber, and old popcorn not to mention a cacophony of auditory clutter.  and the wait was long.  i started to whip out my phone to pass the time while my tires were being rotated and then i remembered i could try and be present. 

thankfully there was a window where i could watch the clouds and so i whipped out a small notebook and began sketching and scribbling down in words what i was seeing.

(i've always loved watching clouds and even studied the different types on my own as a child.  though they can be categorized, no two ever exist in exactly the same formation again--rather like people, i can't help noting.)

far from the ideal writing environment, phones rang, the man next to me waiting for his SUV cleared his throat loudly and compulsively, a country music station and ads blared above the sound of power it truly was an exercise for me to focus on the clouds and my internal dialogue instead.

(at the top of my bookpile right now is "the art of the wasted day" by patricia hampl and i love that she too played with words and cloud-watched as a child.  will someone please take "daydreaming" off the list of cardinal sins!?) 

it's good for us to wait, be bored so as to think up something to do or make, have open-ended time or even days.  the moments and clouds right in front of us will never be the same again. 

bedouin sky

bedouin sky

these cloud curls
wisp-winding beyond
bare branches
play with light,
remind me to watch their
first gilded gold into gloaming
they pass over darkness
ethereal now and restless
as nomads searching
mountain silhouette tents
for home and a

ls 11.29.18

Thursday, November 29, 2018

winter solstice

i'm more of an equinox gal, that is i prefer the milder spring and fall to the more extreme summer and winter seasons in general.  that's not to say i don't love all seasons for what they have to offer, though!

as we approach december 21st's winter solstice, i feel like designing differently this year.

instead of a tree, i am really into winter floral arrangements, having most recently bought a rose hip and eucalyptus arrangement with ornamental kale that looks like a rose!  for each week of advent, i am thinking of arranging a new set of flowers.  the tropical protea is already on my mind.

a paperwhite is blooming on rocks in water in my windowsill and tiny white lights festoon the room.

regardless of how you decorate this year, might i suggest buying yourself flowers?  it can be such a day-brightener to choose your own pops of indoor color.

Friday, November 16, 2018

get thee to Oxford

my grad advisor forwarded just about the best literary news in the world i could receive:  a new set of the writings of English poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1845-1889) have been discovered and brought to one of the libraries at Oxford!

Hopkins has been one of my favorite poets for well over 20 years.  i have many of his poems memorized and even presented a paper at a national literary conference on his innovative use of sprung rhythm because, yes, i am just that much of a literary nerd.

i have an out of print book on his life and writings, copies of his poetry in different sized books, one pocket sized so i can take it on walks with me more easily, and even sketched one of his poems into a large art canvas.  why do i love his work so much?  his sensitivity to nature, beauty, and God for starters, as well as kindness to his fellow men and women.  he had an innate ability to appreciate the invisible attributes of goodness and truth from what is visible in the world. 

he lived only 44 years, dying of typhoid in Dublin.  but even his last words are beautiful, "i loved my life."

so naturally, a trip to Oxford to see the original manuscripts is on my mind.  to read the article and learn more about Hopkins you can click here:  discover Hopkins

beaujolais nouveau

the third thursday in November marks the French celebration of new wine, or Beaujolais nouveau.  from the Beaujolais region in France, new wine is bottled and sent around the world in anticipation.

i decided to celebrate by making my first bouillabaisse.  tips for pretending you are cooking in a remote French village:

-consult chefs with experience via bookpile:  winefood by dana frank & andrea slonecker, the french menu cookbook by richard olney, the sommelier prep course by michael gibson, one knife one pot one dish by stephane reynaud, and pig in provence by georgeanne brennan

-buy ingredients the day before, fresh from your local market (there are many bouillabaisse recipes, i chose *mussels, chopped clams, shrimp, and oysters for mine).  **Toulouse style includes saffron potatoes. (*easy rule of thumb, these are alive so closed before cooking=good, open after cooking=good, otherwise discard)

-turn off tech devices.  wake up without an alarm.  have an open-ended day if possible.  eat fresh figs and make French press coffee, collect eggs for a dutch pancake to sustain you while cooking.  awaken all five senses as you begin.  into the pan goes olive oil, stinging kombucha hot sauce (wholesale made by my friends the viteks) garlic, onion, cayenne & black pepper
-add lobster/fish & seafood stock, diced tomatoes, fennel fronds as you zest orange and lemon. i like citrus so i threw in half of each to add flavor (remove fronds & citrus when you like the taste)

-debeard mussels and boil potatoes in salt, take old crusty french bread out and open the wine to let it breathe (i chose a 2014 Beaujolais-villages, joseph drouhin).  sip on lime-mint-elderflower sparkling water

-add seafood in order of most to least cooking needed depending on your selection, turn off heat and let sit while you go for a walk, read, or take a bath

-light candles.  pour wine.  ladle bouillabase over sliced potatoes, top with fennel fronds and dip bread into the spicy broth and savor!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

first frost

waking up to our first frost today, i notice it is later than usual.  but the leaves are falling from the vineyards, so i'm especially grateful that i captured these photos when i did... 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

instant family

having a lot of friends in the child welfare & foster care world, i was invited to a free sneak preview of the film "instant family" (released in theaters 11/16).

oh my goodness, while the foster system is not a hilarious subject in and of itself, the movie kept all of us laughing out loud!  (in order to work in or enter this realm, it's healthy if not essential, to keep a keen sense of humor.)

and we found it realistic, give or take a couple of scene portions.  i'm curious as to viewer response and how, if measurable, it impacts children in care.

Monday, November 5, 2018


i am so very proud of my smart friend and her book!  looking forward to being part of her release parties and sharing this with our communities.  she avoids extremes in her book, neither shying away from technology nor letting it run her life; rather, as a professional psychologist, she examines the impact of modern tools on us physiologically and emotionally as well as socially; how being connected has shaped our relationship with ourselves and others. i find her approach refreshing, thoughtful, and integrated. 

this is my friend

this is her book


my sweet 76-year old friend and i have a great thing going on.  i drive to events after dark and she springs for shepherd's pie at the irish pub.

yesterday we attended brahms' english requiem downtown.  sun streaming in through stained glass windows while the baritone memorializes ageless melodies, timed to honor the feast of all saints in the church calendar year.

we are also planning to attend vespers the same evening at the local cathedral.  what we don't know is that it is also a requiem, this one by the composer faure.  parishoners place photos of deceased loved ones on the platform steps in front of the orchestra as the musicians tune.  we pause to light candles in honor of friends and relatives gone on before us.

i am so touched by the intentionality of the service and by the rich environment of icons, latin, incense, and wine that i suddenly realize quiet tears are rolling down my cheeks.  there is no other way but stereotypically to describe the four young ladies singing "pie jesu" except "angelic."  walking back to my pew i survey all of the different sizes, textures, and styles of people represented:  dredlocks, downs syndrome, chemo-scarved, business-professional; a small girl with brown curly hair and doe-like brown eyes looks straight into mine as i take my seat.

i am not even a member of this congregation and yet i feel so warm, so welcome.  and i have never been to such back-to-back richness as in these events.  my heart is more than full:  a small taste of heaven on earth.

small worlds, binocs, and upcycled fish

i love my life.  you never know who you are going to meet or what could come of even just one open-ended question.  such as this weekend, one thing leading to another, i find myself on a bird walk with people i had not even known just 24 hours before.

turns out they are staying at my neighbor's bed & breakfast and J works for the oregon department of fish & wildlife.  as an audobon leader, he knows his birds.  letting me use his $3,000 high-definition binoculars, he quizzes me on the difference between a red-tailed hawk and a sharp-shinned hawk.  "wait, shh...did you hear that?  nuthatch.  ruby-throated you know your red-winged blackbird from this one...ah, darn, i'm so finch-challenged..."

the morning could not be more perfect and, while he teaches me advanced birding skills ("pileated woodpecker ahead, two-o'clock!") i ask E about her artwork and she shows me pictures from her camera and social media site.  it is tagged "make art not trash" and she gets to travel the world (most recently norway) creating marine sculptures out of found garbage.  some of her pieces are traveling the world as well, raising awareness for conservation.

together they are a powerful force for ecology and i realize i can learn a lot from both of them.  and all of this because they were actually late to an event.

i return the binoculars and thank them for everything, "i'm so glad you were late to the event," i say, "so that we could meet".  and with exchanges of information and a desire to keep in touch, we go our separate ways, but all better for taking the risk of connection.

being canadian

seeing as i was born in quesnel, british columbia canada, i rented the dvd "being canadian" to see what documentarian and fellow canuk robert cohen had to say about our country.

and it's a pretty funny film, eh?  starting on the far east of the country, he drives across all the provinces in quest of answering, "what does it mean to be canadian?" hoping to arrive in bc by canada day july 1st.

what he discovers rings true with my own experience:

1) canadians are really, really nice.  like, almost too nice.  (my grandfather's broken hip happened while clearing the sidewalks for his "elderly" neighbors when he was in his 90's, for example.  very nice.)

2) we apologize for everying.  "soo-rry...oh, i'm soo-rry, eh.  soo-rry 'bout that." contrary to a canadian's sense of self, we DO have a right to exist.

3) we are funny.  an extremely high and notable list of famous comedians are, in fact, canadian.  michael j. fox and mike meyers just to name a couple.  which is likely because we are forced to entertain ourselves for months at a time each winter.

4)  we are known to drink maple syrup.  straight from the bottle.  for breakfast.

5) don't interrupt our hockey game.  whether or not this is a passive-aggressive form of balancing our tendency to be too nice, we love hockey.  even hockey players will politely ask to remove their helmet first before letting their opponent punch them mercilessly in the face. ("soo-rry 'bout that.")

6)  curling is real.  no, we are not all eskimos and yes, there are a million things to do with ice.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

being bob

this year for halloween, i dressed up as bob ross!  while he has become somewhat of a vintage sensation, i still had to explain to some of my younger students who he was.  my middle schoolers already know, as they beg regularly to watch his painting show reruns on youtube during class.

the best part about being bob?  getting ready!  i had a friend who gave me a "happy little mints" tin, others who pointed out awesome tree pins in botiques with an enthusiastic "you NEED these" and the sheer looks of people when i walked into school.  they really didn't know who i was.

"oh my gosh, it's you (stunned silence) for a minute there i thought we had a substitute!"
"who is the man who just walked into the office?  excuse me, you need to register as a guest visitor."
and "nice fro.  did you stick your finger in a light socket or something?!" (no, but i did wonder if my hair would fit in my car when i sat down to drive--just barely).

it was the best.  sincerely, i credit bob's show back in the 80's with helping me fall in love with color (even though i watched it on a black and white tv and had to ask my mom what "prussian blue" and "alizarin crimson" were).

i chose the shirt that reads, "ever make mistakes in life?  let's make them birds.  yeah, they're birds now."