Saturday, December 31, 2011

Just ONE More

Monica: Today I celebrate the fact that my sister and I have successfully completed TWO YEARS of daily photos—that's 730 consecutive days of viewing the world through a little frame and capturing something—or anything—of interest from our day. I'm astonished at my own ability to maintain this daily practice, in spite of the days when I'm exhausted or frustrated or just not seeing any beauty in the world. This practice has forced me to find it, even if I only have 3 minutes left in the day and the only thing I can think of is to photograph my own feet. Tomorrow is the last day of my life here in Mendocino and then we're off to travel and visit family and friends for a little over a month. I'll keep taking photos, but I'm not sure how often I'll be able to post, so the sister blog may change its form for a bit. In any case, happy new year, dear readers, and thank you for visiting our tiny corner of the internet to glimpse a bit of our lives. Here's wishing you a sweet, healthy, joyous, and prosperous 2012. 

Evelyn: What she said... 730 consecutive photos? One of my biggest joys with this site has been getting curious on ANY ONE GIVEN DAY and checking what I was doing THEN. I have loved the chronicling of my life in this way, and the ongoing connection to my sister and her life. The late night conversations that emerge from some of our most connected work. Our chortling about giving up, then denying each other the opportunity. The last minute, dying light, what-do-I-do-now shots that sometimes are just as fun. The conversations with strangers about the work we have been doing. Tonight, just moments from midnight, forgetting my SLR, and in a desperate attempt to get in a few shots, I pulled out my camera phone.  I celebrate a new year, in a new place, with new emerging friendships, and the abounding enthusiasm I feel about all that is happening in my world, and some hope that we can carry on to 1096 shots (cause this year is a Leap Year - and we have just one more opportunity!)

Friday, December 30, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Evelyn: The boys are saying their goodbyes - the way boys do; a tumble of antics and gestures and animal sounds. Death threats are the only way to get them to behave half way reasonable for a picture (and frankly, these are way more fun than some serious pic of the boys together). I have over 60 shots, with countless expressions, and it leaves me truly appreciating the energy and fun these three create. If I hadn't been the one taking the pictures I surely would have been making just as many faces.

Monica: As we get nearer to our departure on Monday, I find myself desperately resisting the fact of our leaving. I don't want to say goodbye to our little cottage by the sea where we see the whales spout as they travel south for winter. I don't want to say goodbye to the constant roar of the ocean that has become the background music to my life. I don't want to say goodbye to the cute little towns that I have fallen in love with along this coast. This farewell is harder for me than most others. In fact, I can't remember the last time I was more heartbroken leaving a place than I was excited about the new adventures ahead of me. But there it is. I didn't think this place would wrap itself around my soul quite like it has. There's just no place in the world quite like here, and I will always remember that my years here were happy ones, in spite of the fog and the colder weather.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Prickly Business

Monica: Our office computer is an old "turn of the century" eMac. It works fabulously and I completely take for granted how cool it is until someone walks into the office and says "Is that an old Mac?" (Old, in technological terms, is anything older than last year.) I will miss this little (big) guy, too. 

Evelyn: I love the morning winter light in the garden. I am not exposed to cactus as I used to be, and this little guy brings nostalgia of warm Tucson days. The prickles and weaves are a playground of patterns.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It's This or Socks

Evelyn: I am so familiar with the Mission Bay view. Dusk comes fast, and I have been enjoying the shifts in color on this coast line... much different from that of Florida.

Monica: Self portrait on the bathroom floor late at night. It was this or a bad picture of my favorite new pair of socks.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Motion & Rest

Monica: I can't believe how fast time passes, how it seems like only a few months ago when we first arrived in this town and felt awkward calling ourselves "locals" merely because we had an address here. Since then, we've grown into our "local" skin. We've come to know many of the faces in this community and have felt welcomed, accepted, and even valued here. It feels weird to tell people we're leaving. I know they are sincere when they tell us they will miss us because I feel the same way. We've formed symbiotic relationships with the people that ring up our groceries, do our printing, serve our food, rent us DVDs, deliver our mail, process our paychecks, etc. I will miss these faces and the pleasure of the numerous little interactions we've had over the last 2Ω years.

Evelyn: Lots of antics, teenage boys running around and doing experiments (if not on each other, it may well be a social experiment between parents and teens). It felt nice to have a few moments of quiet on the couch, feet up, twinkling Christmas lights, and the blare of late night novellas with the Colombians.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Springing From This Place

Monica: Every time I step outside, I take an inventory of everything I love about this place. It's my way of letting go and saying goodbye. Today I counted among my loves this Amanita mushroom pushing through a carpet of pine needles in the parking area just outside the Grand Fir cabin. I love the musty smell of the forest mixed with the salt air from the sea. So many things of beauty spring from this place. 

Evelyn: I spent a bit of today at Grandpa's house, doing tech-support kinds of things. We hit the Boll Weevil for burgers, then Grandpa & Pito took their siestas as I attempted to make progress with some really old computers. Taking a break from the cat hair, I went into the back yard alone, filled with memories of Grandma's garden filled with exotic flowers or blossoming tendrils and cuttings, pushing themselves into the world from cottage cheese buckets and old jars. The backyard is cleared of anything that needed ongoing attention, however Grandma's Bird-of-Paradise and the tiny rotting picket fence I have always regarded as "my fence" remain. I like how I feel Grandma here, even if most of her garden is gone; she revives it in my memories amidst the artifacts and ruins of what had been and the persistent flowers that thrive despite the neglect.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Santa's Cookies

Evelyn: The holidays with family always include lots of food and socializing. Leftovers from the Mennonite Christmas Eve party with the Rudesills resulted in a smorgasbord of extra desserts on Christmas day with the Harders. Being with family feels like a long, sorely-missed hug—with a cherry on top.

Monica: We went to breakfast at the Little River Inn, a Sunday tradition now ever since we discovered it. I was happy to catch a glimpse of Santa in his blue sunglasses, taking in the stunning view from the porch. He picked a good place to recuperate from his arduous night of gift deliveries.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Catch Up

Monica: It's Christmas Eve and we both spent a lot of time on the phone, catching up with family. It will be a quiet Christmas this year; the two of us in an empty house, staying warm by the fire. Even though I can't be with my family, I am still so grateful for all of this: for him, for my family & friends, for everyone's health, for the new job, and for the time we got to live in this little slice of California heaven.

Evelyn: The morning hours in my mother's garden are calm and colorful. My body doesn't quite know what time it is, and part of me is confused by the gently emerging sunlight when Florida is already seeing a late-morning haze. Going through my mom's yard, I am drawn to tiny forgotten accents—probably placed unexpectedly or covered by vines and nick-knacksthat feel like small hide-'n-seek treasures: an aging clothespin, a rusted iron candle holder, dead morning glory vines and a frozen statue of a red bird, all between warm sunlight and greenery.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wishes and Warm Patches

Evelyn: I forgot how Gizmo seeks out warm patches of light in the colder winter months. One of the largest areas of sunlight happens to be taken up by the Christmas Tree, and mom reports that Gizmo has occasionally messed up her Pesebre (Nativity scene) to sleep in a well-lit patch. This lightand his contented facebring out some of his most handsome qualities and I am enjoying having him around every day. I have missed him something terrible.

Monica: We're back to a nearly empty house that will be home for only a few more days. We're down to our suitcases and a few other necessities, plus a few items we forgot to pack or intentionally left out. One thing we left out was our Wish Jar, a large mason jar that I made to hold our wishes, dreams, hopes, prayers, and desires. We've begun a new tradition where on New Year's Eve, we take out the old wishes and burn them in the fire, clearing the Wish Jar for a new year of wishes.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Favorite Things

Evelyn: I am tempted to snap the 12 days of Gizmo, a certain lap dog who enjoys being up high with us people. He can keep an eye on things, determine if we are headed out for a "ride", assess what is being made in the kitchen, and attend to well deserved belly rubs.

Monica: One of my favorite things about the hotel at Wilbur Hot Springs is the veranda that wraps around three sides of the building. It reminds me of the old houses in the south where you might sit in a wicker chair sipping iced tea and chatting with friends. Right now the veranda is winterized with glass windows. When the weather warms up in spring, the windows are replaced with screens so you can sit on the porch and feel the warm breeze blow through as you sip your iced tea and chat with friends.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Balancing Act

Evelyn: I haven't seen Gizmo in months, and he is happier than dirt to see me as I am him! We had to run through a series of tricks, to make sure we haven't forgotten any.

Monica: I feel like the Beverly Hillbillies with all of our things loaded into a 20-foot U-Haul truck. It looks like a big pile of junk from here, which I suppose it is. Sure, there are necessities in there, but nearly half of it is Michael's tools and construction supplies, plus bits of rust, driftwood, stones, and cool "objets d'art" that we have collected over the years. I call myself a minimalist, but this is anything but.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Monica: Michael spent the past two days loading up the moving truck as I continued packing the last of our things, cleaning up the house, and running the office. Now we're down to an airbed, a couple of boxes of things to get rid of, and our suitcases. Our space feels empty and cold—devoid of furniture and all the cozy makings of home—so I left the paintings up on the wall till we pack them in the truck tomorrow before we head out to Wilbur to store our things. 

Evelyn: Decisions Decisions - one of the biggest challenges for me is deciding what to bring. Analyzing temperatures in California, trying to pack as light as possible while bringing what I need for any occasion. It has been a year since hitting the coast, and I am looking forward to this trip.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Little Green

Evelyn: This is my little Purple Waffle Angel plant. I spent my day doing my best to tie up the loose ends at work before I leave for CA, and realized I hadn't taken any photos. There are days that run by too quickly, and I am desperate to find something of interest, if only to get that photo in. Little Waffle called to me. It has been patient with the move, has died and come back to life. It's plants like this that I most appreciate—because they tolerate my neglect and grey thumb in the throes of a busy life, and still manage to smile at me every day.

Monica: Forgive me if you've seen this image before. It's the view off my back deck, looking towards the driveway and the tall pines that live at the bottom of the hill. I had to photograph something and this is a view I have photographed often. I love stepping out onto the back deck in the evening before sunset and catching the light filtering through the trees. I love it so much, it breaks my heart to say goodbye. Only a few days left in the year and a few days left of this view. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A New Scene

Monica: Tonight we attended a winter solstice celebration which included a gift exchange. The gift I received was a small kaleidoscope and when I looked inside, I saw butterflies and bits of bright colors. I can't imagine a more fitting symbol for what's going on in my life right now: a time of metamorphosis and the beginning of a new life. 

Evelyn: Jag rides are great. It was much cooler today and I had to wear a few layers, however, it wasn't unreasonable and it usually includes lunch. Not a cloud in the sky today, and I hadn't realized how much country there was until I started driving to Orlando via back roads - and Jag rides.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Evelyn: I was quickly losing the light, and discovering that my environment was beginning to lose it's appeal. At the end of a road, facing a wall of Florida marshland, I popped out of my car to hastily play with what little light I had. I was surprised to have gotten some interesting pictures - the sun rapidly dimming on the horizon... and suddenly I found it hard to choose an image among the many.

Monica: My sister-in-law has nicknamed me "Zoomer" because she thinks I zoom around all the time, rushing from one task to another. This is true when there are things that need to get done and time is running out, like now, as we get down-to-the-wire with packing our things and getting ready to move them out on Tuesday. I've been zooming through rooms and between boxes. I've been zooming between the office and the Farmhouse, getting work done in between getting packed. I've been zooming so much, I haven't been on my daily walks to connect with Mother Nature or taken the time to take photos. I'll be glad when things slow down a bit, whenever that may be.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Little Stars

Monica: I opened the door this morning and this perfect little star-shaped shadow of a dandelion on a rock caught my eye. I love how something so ordinary can fill me with delight. 

Evelyn: I was delighted by the Sombrero of Carreiro at the College Christmas Party. A different way to be festive, and something new and different to attract my lens.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Little Buddhas

Evelyn: I got home to find Ed & Justin chattering about Skyrim and politics... both of which I struggle to follow because they make me dizzy and full of anxiety. A close friend, Ed keeps me dancing and decompressing, and it feels nice and safe to have someone on this coast to stay connected with between blowout busy-ness and round trips to Orlando.

Monica: When we first moved here, we discovered a shop down in the harbor that sells imports from southeast Asia. Tucked in a nearly hidden patch of greenery beside the store were four praying buddha statues arranged in a circle. They caught Michael's eye and he's been admiring them ever since. There's something about the peace in their faces and the beauty of the weathered stone with patches of moss growing around the base that intrigues him. Today, we brought them home with us. They're lined up outside our side door, waiting to be loaded on the moving truck and sent to their new home on a hillside at Wilbur. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Afternoon Treat

Monica: Michael cracked the whip this morning and I set my nose to the grindstone packing up the kitchen. I hate packing the kitchen—all those dishes and glasses that have to be wrapped in newspaper, all those pots and pans that don't nest into each other just so. The boxes have to be small so they don't get too heavy but then things don't fit easily into them. After wrestling with the kitchen for most of the day, we treated ourselves to what has become a Wednesday ritual: an hour in the hot tub at Sweetwater Spa

Evelyn: I have an appreciation for the warm light of sunset on the white picket fence that surrounds the Spring Hill campus. Never mind the shopping carts and flock of smokers, or the cranky leasing landlord who snarls at where we park, or the fact that I sometimes miss "THIS" light because of the office without windows that keeps me disoriented. When I get it just right, I am cradled by the warmth of this little picket fence reflecting the dimming yellow of dusk, and feel remarkable gratitude for the people I work with.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Navel Gazing & Conversating

Evelyn: A mess of keys gathered and awaiting a ride out to Ybor. They feel a bit like the connection made for both a celebration and a brief message of love and appreciation. I am really reveling in, and looking forward to, Tuesday nights. Eating, decompressing, conversating (yep - my word), then dancing away until yawns take over and we pull off the dancing shoes for a long ride home.

Monica: I've been procrastinating on packing, mainly because I'm avoiding the horrendous task of packing up the kitchen. Instead, I've been "researching" what I want for Christmas (a.k.a., surfing the internet) which is ironic in so many ways. I'm trying to pare down and simplify my life but somehow my desire for simplicity has morphed into an obsession with seeking gadgets I imagine will make my life simpler. The desire quickly turns into suffering, as I become overwhelmed with indecision over which gadget is best and what if I get the wrong one? I watch my monkey mind and throw up my hands. Better take a picture apropos of all the navel-gazing I've been doing today.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hints of Orange

Monica: It feels like winter here with temperatures in the 40's during the day and I can't get warm enough. There's no escaping the fact of winter. Fortunately, the shortest day of the year is almost here and I can look forward to longer days, albeit colder ones. I was thrilled to discover a patch of blooming orange poppies downtown today—a much-needed dose of visual sunshine in this muted world of winter. 

Evelyn: I got home late. Justin had his slider phone retrieved from the bucket of rice we threw it in a good 2 months ago. Even grownups accidentally drop their phones in liquid, but I am thinking this just isn't going to work. A good minute in the washing machine? We were hopeful, but it is time for a new phone... Justin did well, caring for his phone for almost 2 years. The price of a teenager.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Flags & Flagships

Evelyn: Papito and I discovered an industrial area near Lake Dora with a fort built by kids out of junk. My brother-in-law, Michael, would certainly appreciate the creativity with plastic bag flags, and little niches. Reminded me of a pirate ship blown to land from a storm. Of course, we had to take Jag pictures, but this one was really fun - piping jutting out from the pile, like a fish line, bouncing in the wind. (Pito, we need to take a Jag crawl on a Horizontal day so I get better pictures!)

Monica: Every Sunday at noon, this group of men gathers with their assortment of flags on the east side of Highway 1 in Caspar. Their flags cover a broad political spectrum from the black & white POW/MIA flag to the rainbow LGBT flag. I see their weekly gathering as a demonstration of unity and peace. We usually pass them on our way back from Sunday brunch in Little River and we always honk and flash them the peace sign as we drive past.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I Wanna Bite

Monica: Another busy day of packing and no time to cook. Thank goodness for take-out pizza. 

Evelyn: Early morning Starbucks run - one of the first ones in what feels like weeks, if not a solid month. Outside two Mastiffs gaze at their owners, who sit under the warm morning sunshine consuming coffee and pastries, waiting for a potential treat.  I am in love with the two faces watching me walk through the parking lot. Henry (left) and Sydney (right) are affectionate (and slobbery), but sweeter than the pumpkin bread I had set down so I could take photos.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Little Familiarities

Evelyn: We don't have a Christmas tree up. I got rid of the fake one in the process of moving, determined to start some things anew. This year, we head to California and I hesitate to make Christmas visible on this side of the world... yet I enjoy the lights and reflections found on the trees of others... and grateful for the little things that are festive and illuminate the holiday season.

Monica: After over a month of pleading with Michael to please, let's get the wood stove going in our house...finally, he started the fire. We came home to an icebox that couldn't be warmed well enough by our radiant space heaters. Now it feels cozy and warm and smells of wood smoke when I walk outside.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Stillness & Movement

Monica: We were walking around the nature preserve at Wilbur when I spotted what looked like a hummingbird perched on the window screen of an empty cabin. As we crept closer, the bird didn't move. I started taking photos as I continued to move closer and finally the noise of my camera shutter startled the little bird awake. He turned his head and I'd swear he glared at me for disturbing his nap. I was surprised he would let me get so close and I was concerned that maybe he was stuck but when I got within 6 inches of him, he took off and flew into a tree. 

Evelyn: Spring Hill is a long drive for me, especially with a quickly fading sun at a time of day where just 3 months ago I could easily take an hour walk on the beach before the sun even hinted at retreating. I have discovered new passages to Spring Hill; roads that are less stressful, with fewer signals and more stretches of nature and farm land. At night, however, it is more of a lonely road.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Change in Weather

Evelyn: This is the view out back. What you can't see is the drizzle and chill in the air. Secluded in a space lit by just florescent lights, I forget what time it is... only to find that the weather has drastically changed in just a few long hours.

Monica: On our way to Wilbur, we hit the Clearlake area just in time for sunset. It's California's largest freshwater lake and quite beautiful, too. Surprisingly, this isn't a high-end resort area in spite of the natural beauty of the area and its proximity to wine country.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bits of Red

Monica: It happened this morning while I was in the shower. Michael came in to tell me that he had sad news. "I broke it," he said. I knew immediately what it was. I sighed. "It's okay, sweetheart. I knew this day would come sooner or later. Today was the day." And so it goes. My favorite mug that I've had for 19 years slipped out of Michael's hand as he was placing it on a shelf and came crashing down onto the counter. The top smashed into four perfect pieces. I felt no anger or disappointment or sense of irreparable loss; I have always known that someday I would lose this simple object that I've loved for years. Everything that comes into my life will eventually be gone from it, a fact that I have come to accept without attaching too much grief to it. The flip side of loss is that it creates a space for something new to enter. And although the object (or person, or place) may be physically gone, its essence lives on in my memory of it. I told Michael we will save the mug for a future building project, as we do with all broken bits of beauty. 

Evelyn: The light changes so quickly in the winter. I took a few moments to get some sunshine (not another "smoke break") and was enthralled with the little berries this tree was flashing. I caught a glimpse of a wren jumping between branches, eying us carefully while stealing a few berries for a late afternoon snack. I couldn't quite catch him, but the berries struck a nice pose.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Apple in Hand

Evelyn: A little ripe smile amidst the labor. New space, new temporary desk, and lots of data to compress... my mind wishing for opportunities to stop as I take to "smoke breaks" with a few peers.  My apple was about the happiest looking thing in a florescently lit, bare-walled, faculty office... something familiar amidst all the ways this job keeps me challenged.

Monica: Slowly, things are getting done and checked off the to-do list. There is so much to do, I get overwhelmed thinking about it. I have to remind myself to breathe and savor the present moment, whatever it is. Crawling into bed after a busy day, I remembered I still needed a photo. I grabbed my camera and peered over Michael's shoulder as he lay propped on his side, reading his book.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Little Disorganized

Monica: This is what our life is like right now and what it's going to look like for the next 3 weeks. Then our life will be compressed down to a couple of suitcases and several miscellaneous bags. It's a wonder that I have done this so many times before and can maintain a certain level of calm in the face of a certain level of uncertainty. I know even this time I will look back on with nostalgia and sigh.

Evelyn: Took a very gentle, very short, hike in Cassadega today. The park, with the founding father's home, a humble pile of ruins along a path, has a series of historical markers along the way. I love the seedpods I find, sharp and burly, large like ping-pong balls, yet each a frayed disorganized looking mess. I kick them along as we walk, sometimes picking one up to roll in my hand, and feel the texture. I wander in and out of the crevices through my mind, contemplating the ways in which our lives can be prickly and yet smooth like a shadow, a little frayed and yet all in one piece.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hometown Thoughts

Evelyn: A lot of driving today, and photo-op's along all kinds of country roads. Amidst the drive to Orlando from Clearwater to clients I found a field with cows lit by the sun. They got skittish when I approached, my camera in hand. Instead I got caught up by the dry warm grasses and rusted chain of the farm gate. Interesting the things you appreciate in your home town when it isn't your hometown anymore.

Monica: Once you decide to leave a place, everything changes. This place called "home" now becomes the place you are leaving behind. It's a little heartbreaking, seeing the world through leaving eyes, saying goodbye to the little things you love: the walk down to the sea that you've made through all seasons, the way the winter light kisses the Farmhouse in the late afternoon, the wild turkeys pecking their way across the lower meadow, the black-eyed susan vine that greets you with her neon flowers when you come home from the grocery store, the caw of ravens in the orchard. You tell yourself that change is inevitable; you must let go of all that you loved here so you can step forward and embrace the unknown beauty that is to come. 

Friday, December 2, 2011


Monica: We've been home for only three days and I've been avoiding the inevitable upheaval that is about to take place in this house. Michael booked the moving truck and we have less than three weeks to sort all of our possessions and either pack them or get rid of them. I made the first move today, going through my papers and shredding a large garbage bag-full. It seems that only a few months ago we were moving in here and were living amidst a chaos of boxes and stacked furniture for nearly a month before my sister arrived to help us sort things out. It's transition time again. Not my favorite, but I know that this too, shall pass. In a few months, the chaos will have subsided and a new adventure will be beginning.

Evelyn: It's Friday. The light is gone and my belly is full. Monica chatters on the phone while packing as I, camera in hand, wander looking for a photo opportunity between questions and commentary. "Are you taking your picture?" she reprimands... the gentle click of my camera a retort, "Of course!"

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Flickers of Gold

Evelyn: I am discovering all kinds of friendly, small, homegrown places to eat around town. The kinds of places you pass, and never think twice, yet all the locals gather to drink, eat, and be friendly. There is a little Thai place near my once-a-month, two-room Lindy-East Coast & West Coast Swing Dance hall,  where the owner roasts her own spices, and everything is fresh, crisp, and tasty. The place is decorated in a contentedly colorful way, and the booths a cozy mix of cheap vinyl and delicate dishes. On the ledges are dozens of Asian dolls, and before I run off to swing, I snap away at the bright dancing ladies.

Monica: It was fortuitous that we got to drive through northern California at this time of year, when the trees were dressed in their most stunning fall colors. The cherry tree in the driveway is sporting a mop of bright yellow leaves. I had been eyeing it all day, telling myself I needed to capture some photos before the light disappeared. I made it barely in time as the the sun sank below the pine trees that line our driveway.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Home at Last

Monica: After two weeks and 3,000+ miles, we are home again. The Mendocino coast greeted us with clear skies and a rare dramatic sunset. I whipped out my camera just as we were crossing over the Noyo harbor bridge to capture this moment, realizing this is the last November day I will call this place home.

Evelyn: I drove home in the dark. That means the likelihood of an outdoor photograph is shot. I move into the safety and comfort of my little house with pizza in hand, sit down with a modest glass of wine, and begin the dismantling of my day: first my boots, my bags, my devices, my makeup, my email... then slowly off come the little things that I love - that decorate my being in ways only I know. A favorite pair of earrings, my flowery-stripy sisterly socks, all settling in with me as I write and read in the dim light of my office.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pebbles & O's

Evelyn: My recovery and my story landed on the ear of a friend, and I let tears fall... replacing them with 3 hours of dance in Ybor. A soft recovery, faced with warm smiles and familiar hands, my dancing connected and fluid—the light dim and easy. This weekly dance has become my best friend, dependable and encouraging.

 Monica: On our way up the coast, we stopped at Pebble Beach just south of Half Moon Bay. It's a little state park that is easy to miss just driving by but worth stopping at. The beach itself is made up of countless multicolored, perfectly smooth quartz pebbles chipped from an offshore reef and polished by ocean waves. I remember when I lived in Santa Cruz, I drove up here on a broken-hearted day and gathered 24 stones to make a set of Runes. I had planned to keep them for myself, but instead gave them to my best friend to take with her when she moved to Amsterdam. I know she still has them tucked away somewhere in their velvet bag, their gold paint worn off from use.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Quiet Light

Monica: This morning we awoke to flint gray skies and a filmy fog hugging the coast. Big Sur has quite a different feel from where we live up north. The coastline is more rugged and the views more dramatic. We stopped at Nepenthe for coffee and the Henry Miller Library to browse the books and admire the funky, bohemian atmosphere.

Evelyn: A long day, filled with the felicity and gratification of teaching, matched by the distress and exhaustion of being misunderstood and not seen for my deepest intentions. It was hard to hold on to the morning delights that started my day, and I returned home, exhausted, disappointed, and deeply sad. I missed not having an arm to fall into, and instead wrapped myself in blankets and the quiet light of my bedroom for an early withdrawal.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Left Behind

Evelyn: I had a visit that graciously interrupted my isolation this weekend. We disappeared in the late afternoon for a nice walk on Clearwater beach. Later, we plunked ourselves in the sand, cameras at attention to capture the sunset, wildlife, and interesting people wrapping up their Thanksgiving weekend. It felt sweet and warm to be caught in the embrace of friends, and not feel quiet so isolated on the quiet walk I have taken these last few days.

Monica: We decided to take our time and the scenic route home—Highway 101 to Highway 1 up the coast through Big Sur. We stopped in Lucia around 3:00 and rented a cute little cabin by the sea. We hiked up a hill to settle ourselves on a bench and watch the sunset. Numerous others before us had visited the same spot and etched their initials in the wood railing. We decided to add ours to the mix, using a sharp stone we found nearby.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Squares & Spirals

Monica: I've driven past the Getty Museum in L.A. so many times on my way between southern and northern California, curious about that enormous structure on the hill just past the exit for Hollywood and before the exit for Mullholland Drive. It was only 3:00 p.m. and Michael and I had no agenda of where we needed to be, so we stopped. We paid the $15 parking fee and took the tram up to the museum which has "free" admission. I wasn't too impressed with the art displayed there and the boxiness of the architecture did nothing to stir my soul. However, the landscaping was gorgeous. And it was worth the $15 for the spectacular view of the city and the curve of the coastline as it jutted into the Pacific. The buildings in the twilight created strong silhouettes against an impressively smog-free skyscape.

Evelyn: I have always been drawn to spirals in nature. My favorite shells the ones with twists and spirals that disappear into what looks like no end. They show up in my artwork, in my mind as I lull to sleep, in the doodles I mindlessly scribble while on phone calls, in conferences, and as decorations. This white one, about the size of a Susan B. Anthony coin, I found walking in Caladesi. Delicate, flat, and already a favorite at my desk.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Light & Shadows

Evelyn: An afternoon at Caladesi Island, moving among sea grass, soft sand, mangrove forests, and cool gulf breezes. The return a spectacular show, both a dreamy curtain closure, and a highlight of realizations and wonder that lingered with me through the weekend.

Monica: Another night with family, this time carne asada taco night at my aunt & uncle's home. My aunt had set a sprig of bougainvillea in a vase on the dining table and I immediately noticed the play of color with light and shadows.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanks Giving

Monica: I'm so thankful for what has turned out to be a very good year. There's a lot of change swirling in the air, for myself as well as for my loved ones. My sister got a new job and a new home in a sweet little seaside town I have yet to visit. My mother's health has improved, allowing her and my step-dad to take off on a two-month adventure through southeast Asia in January. My best friend is expecting her first child in May. Michael and I were hired to be be the new General Managers for Wilbur Hot Springs starting next year and we'll have an opportunity to do some traveling of our own. There have been unexpected surprises and new experiences and simple pleasures. I am especially thankful to be spending this holiday in my mother's home, surrounded by the familiar sounds and smells and textures and warm love of my family.

Evelyn: I have had the house to myself most the day, up early to start work on Thanksgiving to share. I find myself dancing between rooms and tasks to my blues-jazz-swing-folk compilation, joyful at the gift I am concocting in my kitchen, and with deep gratitude that I am loved. I miss having my whole family together, as Thanksgivings together are always in a collaborative spirit - everyone chatting and cooking together, joyful and busy. Yet, somewhere I feel them moving through my kitchen with me, in spirit, while they busily tend to their own antics in California, and I dance with their shadows, laughing that I can hold that feeling. Then later, sit with my son, my Pito, and my good friend Les (whose wife had to be away this year) to fatten our bellies with my favorite meal of the year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Flowered Desserts

Evelyn: I find myself working on dessert at midnight. I love the way desserts fill the house with lovely, hunger provoking smells, and the warmth of the oven on a cold night.

Monica: Early morning in my mother's garden. The roses are tightly budded and drenched in dew. Her garden is a jungle of green with spots of color, a sensory surprise in late November. It helps that she lives in San Diego, though I credit the tenacious beauty of her garden to the fact that she speaks to her plants with affection and encouragement. My mother can grow anything, anywhere. I didn't inherit her green thumb, but I sure appreciate it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Unusual delights

Monica: We've been doing a lot of driving in the past week, more than I'd like for being on vacation. That's the way it goes when you're trying to see friends and family who live far away in a relatively short span of time. Today we drove to San Diego and, once again, made it in time for sunset as we made our way through El Cajon to Spring Valley. Michael drew my attention to the birds lined up on one of the traffic light posts and I grabbed my camera just in time to capture them.

Evelyn: The hotel in Ybor City was packed with generations of dancers,  full of music, and movement. A respite on the way out took me by several stained glass, Tiffany-like lamps whose colors were fun and vibrant. I love this venue. I love the variety of music, the old men who sit outside to smoke a cigar, and return to take a lady on the floor. I love their subtle eccentric swing, their warm smiles, the gentleness of the dance, the pickup lines they use

Monday, November 21, 2011

Unexpected Appreciation

Evelyn: The start of something new. The build out is down to its last tweaks and adjustments in Spring Hill. I am quite impressed with the change, and excited about the space. Much different from the beach-cabbana colors we are currently residing in, with tight classrooms and confused desk layouts. I expect that I will spend the day before Thanksgiving adjusting the new classrooms for the migration next Monday, and it feels good to be part of the team to hand over the space to our students and teachers.

Monica: I'm not really a cat person. Or a dog person. I like animals well enough, but I'm more of a person person. But then I meet an adorable little spirit like Dharma and I fall in love with the bundle of unconditional love and sweetness. It gets me every time.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Magic Discoveries

Monica: An allergic reaction to my sister-in-law's cats sent us to her best friend's house to stay while in town. Willow & Richard's house is spacious, uncluttered, and filled with light--literally. In their living room, they have a beautiful collection of metal star lamps hanging at various levels that is pure magic.

Evelyn: I took a very long walk on the beach today, pressing my feet into the sand, dodging waves, and wiggling my toes in random clumps of seaweed. The beach is ever-changing, and my return to Symrna warm, like an old friend, bringing forth new treasures to photograph. I discovered on my walk that I had forgotten to replace my SD card, so I took "finger shots" when I saw something I liked. I was grateful for the backup card I returned to the car to gather up, so I could capture the strange, pearl-like layer in a translucent shell caught in seaweed.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Evelyn: Seems I get lots of adventures on the weekends. A quick stop into Sam Ash, and I was drawn to the huge wall of electric guitars, as high as a second story. All to the background and buzz of people trying out instruments; some unorganized and ragged, and others liquid, mesmerizing, and melodic.

Monica: Sitting on the front porch of my sister-in-law's apartment, I watch a flurry of activity around her hummingbird feeder. There's always one greedy little bird that has to defend the feeder from everyone else. When he's had his fill of sugar water, he perches on a not-too-distant branch to keep an eye on it. If anyone else gets near, he comes buzzing in with an angry screech, chasing the other bird(s) away. I sat still with my camera, waiting for a lucky shot.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Familiar Drive

Monica: We arrived in Tucson just before sunset and drove to the top of Swan Road to take in the view of the city below. My heart swelled with gratitude to return to this desert, the place that has been the closest thing to "home" for me in my wayfaring life. I'm loving living in California. I'm loving the ocean and the forests and the rolling golden hills. But there's something about the solid mountains, spacious sky, and sparse beauty of the desert that calls to my soul. It's good to visit and recharge my spirit with desert energy. It's good to be back for a few days in the place I've known so well since I was 5.

Evelyn: Long day, Long Drive. (Not nearly as long as I imagine Monica & Michael are driving) however I made it to Pito's house, took off my sneakers, and took a deep breath. Rest, unload, connect, plan, and make the most of a weekend in a familiar place.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Different Art

Evelyn: "Sunny" the ambulance, part of an unexpected adventure to the Sunstar Ambulance Command Center. I enjoyed a turkey dinner, and a tour, in the late evening, amazed at the efficiency of the paramedic teams, and the cool blue command center where calls and chess plays among grids of the county are lit up on screens. Sunny, part of the educational programs, a friendly face among many.

Monica: Yesterday we drove 14 hours to a little town near Palm Springs and spent the night, so today we could do a little sightseeing. We visited Palm Springs to check out the mid-century modern architecture and maybe catch a glimpse of the house John Lautner designed for Bob Hope. (We did.) Afterward, we headed to Joshua Tree to check out the funky, artsy little town in the desert. We stopped at the Noah Purifoy  Sculpture Garden just after sunset and wandered through a surreal landscape of found-art sculptures interspersed amidst cactus and Joshua trees.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Journey

Monica: We woke up at 5:00 a.m. to get an early start on a long day of driving, this being day one of a much-needed vacation. We decided to take Highway 20 over to Willits, a road that winds through
densely-forested mountains for 30 miles. As the first light of dawn began to paint the sky pink, we rounded a bend and had a sudden spectacular view of the valley below with an ocean of fog rolling in
and creating islands out of mountain tops.

Evelyn: Busy week, and this seems to be what has kept me the most busy. I haven't been to the beach, and missed lots of sunsets. It gets darker sooner, and the light has slipped away before I get out of work. I miss the flexibility while enjoy the challenges.

On Vacation

Well, Monica and Michael are journeying around and I was informed they wouldn't be sending pictures right away. That leaves me waiting, as well as our loved ones and friends... and those intermittent visitors who have faithfully kept up (but stay silent back there - we love you anyway!)  As soon as they get me pictures, I will be updating. Until then, be patient and check back!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fall Colors

Evelyn: Apples remind me of the fall, full of warm earthy colors, colors that Florida foliage fails to produce. Yet, the grocery store's produce section displays with remarkable care. I miss New York autumn, full of orchards and the fireplace, the smell of burning cedars, and wet leaves. At least I have the apple display.

Monica:  On my way out the door this morning, a tiny filament of green caught my eye. I looked closely and was astonished to see it was a tiny tendril of the black-eyed Susan vine pushing its way through a crack in the door frame. Somehow, it made its way through the front wall of the office and found an opening in the door. It's a perfect example of the tenacity of the tiny.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Shadow Play

Monica: We spent the day getting things checked off our long to-do list as we prepare for leaving on vacation in a day or two. This included a 4-hour stop at Starbucks to download an enormous map update for our GPS. I passed the time reading and at one point I looked out the window and noticed these multi-colored pansies kissed by sunlight and shadow. I took a break to go outside and say hello to them and admire their perfect design.

Evelyn: Playing with shadows with the kidlet...and the bribe? A trip to GameStop. The series of photos are captivating—a bit like something I might see out of the corner of my eye, creeping up behind me in a dream, or a stealthy zombie coming for my brains. The light warm, luminescent, and well-placed for long, lanky, spidery shadows.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Early Evening & Late Afternoon

Evelyn: Gleefully attending an "art day" with tender-close friends in Orlando, something I have been needing for a while. We sat on the porch to work, leaving me to gaze at the water, captivated between the fluid bright colors of my India ink and the ripples of waves along the edge of a weathered pier under the late afternoon sun. It filled my cup to be among friends, collecting hugs and kisses and sharing stories, catching up on what has been moving in my life and what has not. Taking snapshots in my mind of their faces and their energy to carry with me into the weeks ahead.

Monica: A quiet Sunday evening at home, kicking around just before twilight. It's been a long and challenging week and I look forward to our upcoming two-week vacation. We'll get to see some loved ones and spend some time in warmer and sunnier climes.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Monica: Small sacred reminders are everywhere. I believe this one is true; too many wishes detract from being present in the moment.

Evelyn: I got to hang around my area of the world for part of my weekend—which has only happened roughly 3-4 times since I moved here in August. A morning adventure landed me in Tarpon Springs, settled by the Greeks. It is home to sponge fishing and the "Epiphany Festival" in February where they toss a huge cross into the Bayou and tons of boys dive in to find it. We checked out the Bayou as well, which had a pod of manatee lounging about keeping warm and panic stricken fish tossing themselves about here and there. I loved the textures and variety of sponges along shops downtown, which made for some enthralling pictures, and I enjoyed the opportunity to walk under the warm sun and discover the fun things to do on the west coast.