How I Move Through Life

At least these days. Life moves at the speed of my feet and for several hours every day I cover ground while seated on a local bus.

I attempt to be productive in those hours. I am a looker. I may read or write. I never make it the entire length of the southbound bus ride without getting lost in light or shadow, tempted by a color or the sway of a tree.

Life, then, is an Eggleston flipbook. Depending on the bus, riders and scenery alike can take on the tint of David or Frank…

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vintagebus

 

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Breathing Long Distance

Breathing Long Distance

Here in the Southwest, spring is a breath. One you run to catch, only pushing it out too quickly in your efforts.

Back home, friends of mine treated sunburns on the same day they sent their children out the door in snow boots.

How do you catch up with days like this?

I took these photos as deep breath in. Wanting to catch it in a jar and bring it home. I knew on this night home, once again, would be far from the sea. I tried to squeeze greedy and peace in one box and expected them to behave.

WS Pine at Sunset

You can imagine the results.

I watched through the tiny square of a view finder the expanse of space that takes more than one eye squeezed shut to see.

I’m grateful for the images. Grateful for the knowing, remembering of feet on asphalt at the edge of green and sky and sea.

WS Grey Sunset

As the weekend hit like a March storm in Kansas, I searched these memories out. Stretched long into the breath that would pull in the shoreline. Tug hard and tuck in tight this story line that is mine. All of it. Kelly green and coral peach. Rain in the sunshine and creating while at rest.

Breathe in.

Headed North

Headed North

I’m Bear Aware!

I was staying in Seattle and while I was there I planned my birthday trip. I spent time writing and said yes to several book reviews. I clicked yes and realized the disconnect of requesting a hard copy book be mailed to me when, at the time, I had no mailing address. I failed then to see the overlapping of stories.

The print copy made a rather circuitous route before resting on my bedside table. It did however arrive at the right time, as is the lesson on repeat for my life right now.

There was a journey over the jagged edge of loss. Despite the maps I had carefully marked and folded and stored in plastic cases, it was a trip into uncharted territory.

My need to know the answer, to get through something pushed me to read the book in 2 sittings. Grief does not find its end so quickly. Not for me. Not for Polson, as she relates in her memoir; North of Hope: A Daughter’s Arctic Journey. It could be said that I devoured the book, hoping to assimilate it in some cellular way which might bypass my mind.

North of Hope

I appreciated her transparent stutterings toward grasping the experience which is so intensely personal and absolutely universal at the same time. I read sentence after sentence that struggled to explain, and felt like I was watching a replay of an accident on the news. You can’t look away. They try to frame the incident differently. Get closer. Interview someone else. All framing the same moment, each a part and each a whole. The speech is not a mumbling, or even a stuttering but a fuller examination of critical aspects of her journey.

They were memories. They were casings. They were shrouds. They were straightjackets. They were vestments. They were relics. They were the certitude of each day of my life before June 25. They had housed expectations for my life. They were embraces.

My experiences read nothing like those of Polson’s. Good writing, honest storytelling transcends the details that we use to separate ourselves. North of Hope is a story, and a tool. It is a link in a chain to help others move past the details of their grief and into the process of grieving.

My advice. Read carefully and remember the choice Polson presents…

It occurred to me then that I had a choice about what I’d been given: to grit my teeth and try to muscle through, or to try to train my wounded spirit to the possibility of wonder.

**This was another review for the lovely folks at Zondervan and Handlebar Marketing. No deposits to a Swiss bank account happened here. No cash passed under the table in an Italian restaurant. Just me, and my unending opinions, and affiliate links.**

Of Charts & Comets & Compost

Last morning here. Nearly packed. I took out the recycling while the water boiled for tea.

Outside it was barely above freezing. The air smelled like spring, or what I remember from early summer mornings at our cabin.

I gave myself a treat. I took several more deep breathes as I walked toward the back door to head inside. I realized I was enjoying the cold, soft air; this slice of my day. I walked around to the front of the building noticing the chill seep in through the thin cotton of my shirt–the bare length of my arm already cold.

I turned the corner and the sun was lingering near the horizon, sky tinged coral. I exhaled and thought this is truly the only way to be happy. One small chilly breath in at a time.

Gretchen was right. You can change your life without changing your life. Inside change over outside change. Well, lead with the inside.

I was introduced to the book through the movie. I had been invited to the movie by a dear friend and healer. I agreed to go for the chance to get out of my apartment.

Starting out the day, I knew it was my mother’s birthday, 3 days from Valentine’s Day, and National Content to Be Single Day. I later learned it was also International Happiness Day.

It was a beautiful Spring day. No, I don’t jest. In the Valley of the Sun, Spring comes before Valentine’s Day. I was determined to make the best of it all. A movie–a big splurge for me, even at a matinee price. A chance to spend time with a friend and meet a group of her friends as well.

By the time the movie was over I was focused on International Happiness Day and not Content to Be Single Day. Because, I was not. Not content. And not single. A shift in focus was a welcome alteration to my agenda.

It has been two years since I saw the film. I just finished the book. Tomorrow it will be seven weeks since I started this leg of my journey.

Gretchen, the book’s author, speaks about her resolution charts. She explains how each month is a new topic or tangent and she sets resolutions based on those topics. The chart measures her progress.

Ruben spent December evaluating and trying to use all of her resolutions at once. Juggling and being judged–two things I try to avoid. Both can be necessary evils.

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I have already said that I came and lived through these months without a plan. Evaluation then seems to be a moot point. Except that I feel the need. Going it alone makes me wonder if I have made any discernible progress.

So. I guess what I have to say for myself is this. In my own way, I have changed my life without changing my life. I tried an outside-in approach–change your address, change yourself. I have also worked on an inside-out tactic, or rather, multiple inside-out tactics.

My walk around the building this morning could be an indication of change.

To accept the beauty of the moment over the utility of the task.

This is not a task on a check off list, and not even a plan I could have executed. I am a successful procrastinator and have earned gold stars in self-doubt and hypocrisy, concurrently.

All of this pondering makes me think of bumping a comet, even if only a smidge, its trajectory is forever changed.

Portland Eats & Treats

After the bad tastes left in my mouth from my jaunt to Vancouver, I have been a bit wary about how and when to splurge on someone else’s cooking.

I recently went to food truck heaven. Home of Voodoo Donuts. The Dump Truck. Moonstruck Chocolates. Around the World Coffee.

In case you are a doubter, let me tell you, miracles do happen. I stayed in Portland for a week and I didn’t eat a single donut. I didn’t happily parade a pretty pink box from the Pearl District back to the Alphabet District. I did go into Blue Star Donuts. I swooned over flavor combos. I let my eyes settle on the $2.50 tag and then I turned and walked out the door.

My favorite kind of bar.

My favorite kind of bar.

I did walk into another little bakery on another corner and did not fare as well. The Bluebird Bakers Cookie Bar. Hello? Heaven. Cookies! Cookies happen to be my preferred form of intoxicant if you must know. I did just walk by once.

Four miles later with a bag of figs and nuts tucked in my purse, I walked into the bar giddy and left with a peanut butter cookie in my hand.

I have no clue what the name was, though it wasn’t peanut butter cookie. I taste tested a chocolate cookie. I wanted a taste of the gingerbread one too. I was strong. I stuck to just one nibble. I read the descriptions and names, which I don’t recall, and announced my choice.

It was a good choice. Nothing frilly. No culinary wonderment. No wasabi toffee. Flour+egg+butter+sugar=cookie.

I may have been able to shake off the donuts. I did cave over a cupcake though. I ate it because the bulletin board at the hostel said to eat it and I am big on personal recommendations. I think it is the only kind of advertising to trust. I once helped build a business on that belief and it worked. The dessert was also $2.50. (Which makes $2.50 for a gourmet donut seem reasonable–perspective & distance.)

At Melt, happy hour starts at 2 p.m. and lasts all night. Happy hour portions of regular plates equals dinner out at a reasonable price. Which also leaves room for dessert.

I had my first chicken and waffles experience at Melt–for $4. The corn meal in the waffles was enough to cut the sweet of the batter but not make it dense or dry. The pepper jack cheese and chives were yummy dowsed in maple syrup. I might skip the cupcake though, the frosting didn’t have the lime zing I would expect from a margarita flavored frosting.

In all truth, I’d save myself fifty cents, walk a few more blocks and get a cookie. I mean, just look at them! Cookies.

Gathering the Bits

Stations of the Cross at The Grotto, Portland, Oregon

Stations of the Cross at The Grotto, Portland, Oregon

When I started blogging, I had hoped to push myself to put up photos. A way to keep myself on track. Another tool to see my work–because sometimes you have to look at the work in different ways for it to make sense, or for it to tell you what it needs next.

Life happened. Words squeezed in between the photos. Then they just leaked all over the place. Words came with fewer technological obstacles. I split the blog back into one for images and a new one for words. Until threats came and technology seemed the least of my worries.

While I hacked apart the two blogs, I realized the best thing to do was just relaunch as one place. The remains seemed to only amount to one part anyway–a literal symbol of my life at the time.

Since I wasn’t done with this pattern, words crept back in filling more space than images here at the blog that speaks of capturing an image. I put up a blog to announce a group show of which I was a part. This spurred the nagging little person in my head to say, “What about your own portfolio? What about the photographs? The real ones?”

Ta-da, created for the ease of making a link, a portfolio blog, which has never actually shown an image from any of my portfolios.

Over at the portfolio site, today it has gathered its wits and will show a selection of images from The Grotto, to honor a dear friend and self-proclaimed Aunt on her birthday. I took the photos for her–a gift back for the gift she gave me before I embarked on this no destination journey.

Snapshots from the Road

family land

The beginning.
Tasco, Kansas

I am a toe dipping type of tourist. The kind who will take one solitary path, one building with stainless steel words shooting into the sky, a plain stretch of water in front of me. I don’t see the need for all the trappings of REI or SkyMall magazine. I don’t need a sleeping bag that will keep me warm at zero degrees. Or an umbrella that will withstand gale force winds. Well, maybe the umbrella part, especially on this trip.

Here are some of the singular places and paths of this month long journey. A visual recap for those who wanted to join me in the journey. I edited out all the rain and this is what remains. Kidding. Sort of.

Whidbey Island


Fort Casey State Park
Whidbey Island, Washington

 

 

Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle

Olympic Sculpture Park
Seattle, Washington

 

 

 

the clouds were no nearer Vancouver

The clouds looked no nearer than when lying on the ground.
Vancouver, Canada

 

The Grotto Portland OR

Stations of the Cross
The Grotto
Portland, Oregon

 

 

 

 

 

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Forest Park
Lower Macleay Trail
Portland, Oregon

Read Along as I Eat

A girlfriend, or two mentioned that they wish they were along on this journey. At least along for the culinary explorations. Since I don’t really wish the rest of this experience on anyone, I thought I would indulge these gals and list out my eats along the way.

I apologize as this might be a little random. Some memories came along in the middle that should have been at the beginning, and well, I’m a lazy editor.

How about my most recent adventure first?

Vancouver.

My last meal there was a waste of $12 that I did not intend on spending. I did want to spend the last 5 Canadian dollars in my pocket and pick up something for the journey back to the states. Throw in a postcard or two.

I walked back to the hostel from Stanley Park and passed the door for Meat & Bread. The smell stopped me. I was now officially hungry. I had to have something to eat if it smelled that fragrant and warm and delicious. I wanted to redeem my other mediocre Canadian eats. Sadly the curried chicken pocket for 1.49 from the Nesters Market had way more flavor than the signature roasted pork and salsa verde sandwich.

I have to start by saying that salsa is not pesto and pesto should not be called salsa. I am all for playing with food combinations, words and titles. I’m ok with basil in a salsa or tomatoes in a pesto. I do not say any of this with any knowledge base, just blatant opinions.

I don’t eat meat often. Those who know me would question my desire to even step foot in a food establishment named Meat and Bread. I rarely cook meat anymore since I cook for one. If I am paying for a meal out, I do feel obligated to get something with some animal in it.  (Unless I’m dining out here, in which case, I order vegetarian 98% of the time.)

Being raised by a butcher does push me towards the snobbish end of meat eaters. I understand that even the cutting of meat poorly before or after cooking it can affect the taste and texture. Sadly, Meat and Bread did not get schooled in this, as the amount of fat left on the roast should have resulted in a melt in your mouth meaty experience.

Instead, with one bite you had a mouth full of fat and the odd and nearly grotesque crunch of some of the mixed in chitlins or cracklins (I apologize for not knowing which or if there is a difference, I draw the line at pig skin.). It was a bit of a food texture nightmare, even though the crunchy bits had more flavor than even the salsa verde.

My completely unsolicited advice:

warm the bread

call it pesto

season your meat

trim before you slice

I should have been tipped off to the quality of the sandwich when, as I walked in, I noticed small ice cream scoop sized piles of mustard offered with each sandwich. (Note to new readers: I prefer a goo free eating environment.)

The Rosemary Lime Sip soda was delightful. But not worth $4. Canadian or otherwise.

The next stop on my explanation for my new pants size, how Vancouver and hot chocolate made my day.

Bold as Love Review

If there wasn’t conviction from the first few pages, once I got to this little gem, I was a nailed.

Bold love doesn’t ignore the fear; it steps into the place the fear is, and puts its feet squarely on love. That is the place from when we alone can stand without fear. Who do you fear the most? That person will require bold love of you.

The book Bold as Love by Bob Roberts Jr. released this week. I got a copy last week and have worked my way through it.

Bold as Love is not full of theology that requires a concordance and a Greek dictionary. It is not one that waxes poetic about esoteric nonsense. Bob simply tells us like it is. He tells us how to walk the streets Jesus would choose today. He names the company Jesus would keep in 2012. Creating a narrative based on biblical truth does not require the story to stay in the past.

What I find to be the highlight of the book is that tells of  life worked out today because of what Jesus taught so many years ago. I enjoyed hearing about cooking clubs and relationship building adventures in deserts in the Middle East.

Get your own copy over here, and don’t forget to share your copy when you are done!

Bold as Love: What Can Happen When We See People the Way God Does