Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy Friday

This winter vacation has been one long slumber party for me and the girls. Luckily for us, my amazing mom made all of these pajamas for the girls' dolls for christmas so they could join in the fun!

I'm trying to talk the girls into going out to our town's First Night celebration tomorrow. The 11yo's chorus teacher is in one of bands playing, and I thought that would be fun for her to see. So far they are not showing much enthusiasm for going out. They'd rather stay in, in our pajamas, and bake cookies, light candles, and try to stay awake until midnight.

Do you have any festive plans or new year traditions?

Happy New Year.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Spiral Peep

Lots of thoughts, as one year ends and a new one begins.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Friday

Bring on the wise men. We need 'em.

Happy Return of the Light
To you and yours.

However you celebrate it,




Friday, December 16, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Parlor

We have a small house.

It seems I am constantly moving furniture from room to room to make it fit our house and our lives. Along with changing each room's purpose, I change its name.

Until recently, this front room has been my art studio, which really means it has been a nearly-impenetrable mess of all my art and teaching supplies.

As our family is leaving our life of hermitage to attempt to be more social, I realize I need this biggest room in the house for hosting gatherings. Its transformation is now almost complete. I hope to begin hosting weekly music parties in the new year, so I needed a room where more than three people can sit comfortably.

Welcome to the parlor.

P.S. This is my 500th post. Cheers!


Friday, December 2, 2011

Happy Friday

Tell me a story.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Friday

The aftermath.

Guess which plate was the grown-up's.

This year, like last year, I wonder why I do all the work for this modest feast when the girls only eat a couple bites. Next year I may have to come out from under the tyranny of the turkey!

I hope everyone enjoyed a pleasant repast yesterday and escaped the blackness today.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Friday

I was lucky enough to get to see Steve Westfield and the Slow Band last night. A ten-piece band that hadn't played out in eight years, they had one practice before the gig then just jumped in together. They lifted my feet off the floor and lifted my spirit, too.

What music will you enjoy this weekend?


Friday, November 4, 2011

Happy Friday

Lots of candles this past week, after the blizzard that knocked out our power from Saturday 'til Tuesday.

Lots of music was made, too.

Now, the snow has mostly melted.

The girls get a chance to trick-or-treat tomorrow, 'cause the town postponed it Monday.

Gonna try to keep that music and family time going, even with electricity.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Friday

A tiny taste of snow last night.

A winter storm warning in effect for tomorrow night.

This has definitely been the weirdest fall, weather-wise, in my memory.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

It's a big one this year.

Thank you to Lunaea Weatherstone for her amazing online tarot.

Collage by Lunaea Weatherstone
Guardian of Fire

There is a universal fire that burns in everything,

in the hearts of all beings, made of starfire itself.

To guard that lifeforce within you is a sacred task.

To cherish its flame is to tend the inner temple fire.

One word for this fire is hope.

You may have been faced with challenges lately that threaten this fire,

or perhaps those near you are feeling their own hope wavering.

Hold your hands over your heart, and feel the glow...

then radiate it outward to those in need.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Happy Friday



Friday, October 14, 2011

Happy Friday

It has been a heck of a week.
Here's to the weekend.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Happy Friday

A beautiful bowl made by my sister


Goofy squash from my garden


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

On Autumn Mornings, Too

I don't know if it's true, but it feels like this was the rainiest September ever. I was so happy to see sunlight this morning when I walked into the kitchen.

Autumn is just beginning here, but even still, the light is changing.

With that certain slant of light, as Autumn begins, the sun makes its way through the kitchen window and casts magical shadows along its path. This morning, I had to stop, before frying up eggs for the 11yo's breakfast, to take some photographs of how the sun was dancing with my kitchen still life of gold frame and dried coriander.

There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are –

None may teach it – Any –
'Tis the Seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air –

When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, 'tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –

I had a long and heated argument with an English professor at college about this Emily Dickinson poem. I insisted that he was incorrectly, or at least unnecessarily, interpreting its message as negative. I argued that the awe we feel in nature, while humbling, reaffirms our sense of belonging, of being alive. I was so passionate that he not only gave me an A in the class, he begged me to switch my major to English. It wasn't my poetry expertise talking, though. I just know that feeling when you're in the woods on an autumn or winter afternoon as it's starting to get dark and streams of sunlight make their way through the trees and find you.

May the sunlight find you today.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thinking of Hearts

My friend, Umā, was heading to New Mexico on a big adventure.

I met her on the internet a few years ago only to discover she lives near me (we haven't met in real life yet). As I followed along on her blog as she prepared for her trip, I was kind of jealous. Lucky enough myself to have had a wonderful cross country journey this past summer with my two daughters, I still wanted more.

Facing mornings here with struggles to get sleepy girls to school, and afternoon games of the fox, the chicken, and the grain figuring out how to get the girls where they need to be while I'm teaching after school art classes, the call of the open road is too loud to ignore. I pacified that hunger for adventure with the promise that Umā would be sharing her journey with us. She is a thoughtful writer and a wonderful photographer, and while I enjoy seeing her pictures of our shared hills and valleys, I couldn't wait to see what caught her eye in New Mexico.

She and her partner drove out to New Mexico, but after he left to return home to Massachusetts for eight months of living apart, Umā decided that where she belongs is back home with him.

Selfishly, I was disappointed to hear this.

It's embarrassing to admit it. Of course, I wanted that adventure and experience for her. But I also wanted the eye candy for myself and the chance to imagine myself on my own in New Mexico, that distraction from the numbing routines I find myself living. Not only am I living them, but I am the one in charge of making sure my daughters live them. Yuck, right?

We all try to figure out our paths. Going to New Mexico to study for eight months seemed like the answer to Umā until she was there alone. Now it feels to her like the answer is to return home. My path is unclear to me now because so much of my life is filled with the dailiness of living: the key doesn't turn in the ignition (I didn't mean this as a metaphor, but it certainly works as one!); the 11yo broke her glasses, and her spare pair (another metaphor!); the 8yo suddenly hates school; teaching art doesn't earn me enough money to support my family; and on and on into the night.

Looking for some clarity in my own life, I guess I was drawn by Umā's definitive big step of heading west. With her changing her mind, I am thinking a lot about the methods we all use to make choices. Unbound confine. And really, it all makes a life.

I wish Umā an easy and speedy journey home to J.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

For Trace

a portrait of the woman as a young artist

My friend, Trace, has written a lovely post about Mount Pollux, with a gorgeous photograph of the two trees.

Because most of the photographs I took there focused on one tree, I always remember the hill as having just one tree, right in the middle.

A long time ago, when I fancied myself a photographer, I did a series of self portraits posing with other people. My favorite person to work with was my friend, Nikki. She was always up for anything, including naked tree climbing. We had some wild times on Mount Pollux, but I did not know that other people played there, it was always just the magic hill behind her house.

Like Trace, October is my favorite month. I've got a big birthday coming up at the end of it.

And yes, I'm very old.

I look at these photographs and reconnect with my younger self.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Happy Friday

one from the archives



Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Blooms

A friend gave me this hydrangea plant as a housewarming gift ten years ago. The nursery tag attached read, "will never turn blue." I read it as a warning, like, "don't worry, this won't turn blue." I thought that was odd, because in my limited gardening experience at the time, I thought everyone wanted blue hydrangeas, so turning blue would be a good thing. After thinking for a minute, I realized it meant, "don't try everything you've ever heard of to turn this hydrangea blue, 'cause it ain't gonna happen."

I planted it in the front of the house, in a protected spot (which the tag said it needed), but it didn't bloom at all the first couple years. I decided it wasn't a sunny enough spot, so I transplanted it. That first year after moving it, I got one very pale pinkish white blossom, and congratulated myself on doing the right thing. The next year: no blooms. The year after that, one. So I decided to give this plant some space (ie, I kinda ignored it). With one exception: I had read that plants like coffee, so I started dumping my coffee grounds in the garden, alternating between the rose bush and the hydrangea. Year after year, no blooms, and the plant only grew a little (caffeine stunting it's growth?!?). Then, with help, I pruned the forsythia and lilac nearby to give the hydrangea more room. The plant seemed happy. Finally, this year, three flowers. I guess you'd call them purple, but they're almost blue.

Somehow, this is a parable for my life right now.
Still not quite sure what it means...

And even though this song doesn't have much to do with it, I'm very susceptible to earworms, and have given myself one (I share).


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Lavender Shortbread with Lemon Glaze and Sea Salt

(scroll down for recipe)

Lavender Shortbread with Lemon Glaze and Sea Salt
California Style

One of the big successes this summer in California was an idea Grandma suggested. A tea party (no relation to the political fiasco of the same name). Grandma's idea was that we would each make some kind of sandwich and dessert for a party. We would dress up like fancy ladies. The girls would make place cards. She would make tea. Party!

Part of what made it a success was that it was in Grandma's kitchen. I confess that I have a tough time being loose in the kitchen at home with the girls. Always in the back of my mind is the clean up that follows any messes. With two adults versus two kids this time, I felt like we had a chance.

So bring on the watermelon-marshmallow sandwiches, blueberry-onion-sour-cream sandwiches, egg salad on toast points, and brie on crackers with horseradish-cranberry relish. For dessert, lemon tartlettes with caramel sauce, chocolate cupcakes with whipped cream and raspberries, rice krispie treats, brownies, and lavender shortbread with lemon glaze and sea salt.

My original dessert idea was rosemary shortbread, but when I went out in the yard to cut some rosemary from my mom's plant that is so huge it's really a bush, I saw she also had a lot of lavender, so I chose that instead. Her lavender had very lovely flowers, so I topped the shortbread with the little petals. The glaze I made then was only semi-successful--I tried heating sugar and lemon juice in the microwave (Hey, what can I say? It was a last-minute inspiration). Since then, I have used powdered sugar for the glaze.

Lavender Shortbread

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 TBL chopped lavender (I used 2 TBLs in Cali--it was a little much, but 1 TBL isn't enough.)
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
2 TBL honey
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven 350°

In one bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and lavender. In a separate bowl, cream butter, honey, and powdered sugar. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, a little at a time. Gather up dough onto floured board. Roll. Cut. I've used a butter knife to cut rectangles and I've also used a small glass to cut circles. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake. For baking at home, I actually baked them on 350° for 5 minutes. Then turned the oven down to 300° and used the convection fan for another 5+ minutes, until lightly brown. Cool. Glaze. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Lemon Glaze

(+/-) 2/3 cup powdered sugar
(+/-) 2 TBL lemon juice
(+/-) 1 tsp lemon zest (I used the zest from one whole lemon)

Mix. Try not to eat all of it while waiting for the shortbread to cool.

I made a batch yesterday and there was a little dough leftover, so I rolled it in wax paper and stuck it in the fridge. This morning I just sliced it and baked it. Not very pretty, but oh-so-delicious!

Lavender Shortbread for Breakfast


Friday, September 16, 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Yufi in Our Town

We spent most of this past summer driving across country, hanging out with my folks in California, and driving home. We were lucky enough to be able to rent a minivan (Thanks, Grandpa!), so we could camp most of the nights across.

The minivan's license plate had the letters YUF, so we called it "Yufi." We became quite attached to our temporary second home, and were sad to say goodbye and give it back.

Yesterday, walking to school, the 8yo and I saw Yufi parked in town. We were unreasonably thrilled. I snapped a few pics to show the 11yo, who missed it because she was already at middle school.

Below are some Yufi pics from our trip.

Yufi in Empire, Colorado

Yufi camping in Yosemite (with cool lace curtains for bug netting that Grandma made)

Yufi camping in one of my favorite places on the trip, the Grand Tetons
(no need for curtains that night -- the temps dropped into the 30s, so we kept the windows closed!)

Oh, the spirit of adventure!

I hope whoever was driving Yufi yesterday had a good trip.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Musical Interlude

My beautiful friends have made a charming video of their wonderful song.



Monday, September 12, 2011


Even though September has been challenging (so far)

Not actually drinking the stuff

Just think this is a pretty picture.


original photograph found here (altered by yours truly)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Man on Wire

I can't imagine plotting for months, years, to string a wire between two towers, planning to cross the wire more than thirteen hundred feet above the ground. I can't imagine the feeling of taking that first step off the building and onto the wire (let alone what it must have been like to lay down on the wire way up there as the wind blew it around, and birds flew above and below).

When I look at pictures of Philippe Petit up on that wire, my shins ache.

I wonder if his legs still have the sense memory of being up there.

Update: Watch this! (h/t marian)


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Snark Fail

This reminds me of a few people I know.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day

From my friend, Gummo:

Anti-union people who take weekends off are pure hypocrites.

Anti-union people who work less than 12-14 hours a day are pure hypocrites.

Anti-union people who don't send their prepubescent children out to work for 12-14 hours a day are pure hypocrites.

Anti-union people who work in safe environments, with access to fire doors, with decent ventilation, with grievance procedures and any shred of job security are pure hypocrites.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Happy Friday

Even though summer is officially over since the girls started back to school yesterday, it was quite a doozy of a week getting them ready. So still light posting from me here. Hopefully I'll get back to blogging regularly (whatever that means) next week.

Have a lovely, hopefully long, weekend.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Happy Friday

Where to, Johnny?


Friday, August 5, 2011

Happy Friday

Big and little, California style.

the blimp

a surprise morning visitor


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sticker Shock

A story from my friend Steve...

Some bozo hailed me at a traffic light yesterday and said "Hey, somebody put some kind of blue shit on your bumper!"

"Oh. Thanks, well I'll check it out when I get home."

Nothing blue on my bumper but the Obama 08 sticker.

I hate it when people are right for all the wrong reasons... What wouldn't I have given to have told the guy "Fuck yeah... I thought I was voting for a Kenyan Muslim socialist, not another republican asshole."