Thursday, March 31, 2011

Laughter & Light

Monica: Adriana & Kevin are my lifeline to civilization. Their home is home when I go on a supply run to Santa Rosa or need to pick someone up at the airport in San Francisco. I can drive the 2½ hours to their house and know that I am welcome there, that I will have a soft warm bed to sleep in, good food and wine, HGTV, and lots of laughter. It makes the long drive to civilization something I look forward to, an opportunity to see these precious friends.

Evelyn: Storms moving hurriedly, pushing through the trees and palms with stubborn effort. I found myself in the dark, quiet, noticing just how hushed things are when not even power is moving through. I hadn't realized how loud this space could be, even when sitting quietly, until there was nothing to make noise but the popping of my candles, the frogs outside, and my own breath. It feels nice here, like sitting among the legs of redwoods, the humidity from the storms buffering my sense of space, holding me, tentative and present.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Evelyn: I go to the ocean to get grounded, to find some clarity and breathe. I listen, and as each wave crawls in and envelops my feet, I listen some more... to that deep place that is asking for my attention. This is where balance is felt, regardless of what my life is doing, and where I can get quiet enough to let my deepest truth move into me. Waves break down the uncertainty, and I soften into a conversation with all the parts of myself that feel disconnected, and it is here that I am wrapped in the sunlight, in the water, in the sand, and in my authentic sense of self.  Sometimes I keep good company in that place.

Monica: It was a long day. My last task was to drop a self-check packet in the box outside our office for a guest that would be arriving pretty late. It was just past 8:00 and I remembered that I hadn't taken any photos yet. I was just about to mutter my annoyance, when I saw this tiny frog perched on the self-check box. Instantly, my attitude shifted and I ran to get my camera. He was a willing model and stayed stock still, even when I grabbed a flashlight to help illuminate him. (I didn't want to blast him with my flash.) An hour or so later, I remembered to tell Michael about him and we went outside to see if he was still there. He was.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Monica: I visited the lighthouse today and caught the first wild irises and a lone heron stalking some invisible prey on the bluff. I loved watching how still and focused she became just before spearing her food, the epitome of grace in her frozen pose. Here she looks like she's enjoying the view, or perhaps trying to get a glimpse of the whales that are heading north with their calves.

Evelyn: Adventuring with a friend this evening, celebrating his 29th, filling our wells with Lemon Drops, New England Iced Tea, juicy Turkey Burgers, a charming movie, and some very cheap bowling. It was a spectacular shift for my day, one that started out emotional, with monkey mindfulness moving in and out of bands of peacefulness. Replaced by pleasant company, chatter that expanded all aspects of life, and warm connections, playful and easy. Sometimes I wonder if I should wear bowling shoes more often...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sun & Rain

Evelyn: Today was filled with rain. It has been months since it rained more than a few sprinkles here and there... it feels welcome, and it sums up some of the feelings I've been handling in a slippery, tired kind of way. I want, as my brilliant Artist Way group expressed, to cocoon for a bit, wrap up with blankets and tea and hold myself close. I am uncertain how to settle down this tired energy that is storming around and moving in powerful fronts. I am feeling vigilant, wondering what I am listening to, wondering how the streaks of rain might clear my path or convolute my vision, wondering where it may all land, and what I will discover once the rain has all ended.

Monica: A full day of sunshine today, so to celebrate, I paid a visit to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens with my camera. The rhododendrons were blooming magnificently and there was a rare species from China that had the most amazing scent. In the fall, a stunning dahlia garden is featured, but at this time of year the dahlias are mere twigs sticking out of the ground surrounded by cages. This  stunning tulip magnolia tree towered over the dahlia garden, and I couldn't help but exclaim "Look at you!" I have never noticed tulip magnolia trees before this year. They bear these enormous purplish-white flowers on their bare branches before they leaf. I can't get enough of them.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Monica: We have a little ritual at the end of the day when we cuddle up on the couch to watch a movie. I rest my feet in Michael's lap and he pulls off my socks so he can crack my toes and massage my feet. I massage his neck and shoulders or scratch his back in exchange. What I didn't know until recently was the secret game he plays with my socks. He balls them up and tosses them one at a time into the living room, but he always tries to hit the first sock with the second, like croquet or bocce. One day in the middle of our movie, he suddenly exclaimed "YES!" out of the blue, and that was when I learned that all this time, he'd been playing this little game to see if he could hit one sock with the other. (Apparently it's much harder than it seems.) It's one more thing I love about him, his boyish mischief.

Evelyn: I treasure small glimpses of authentic tenderness shared between two people; whether friend, partner, or family, these little moments remind me of the depth to which we can love and honor each other. I was blessed to have a moment behind the lens to capture a simple graceful kiss, placed genuinely, devotedly, on the cheek of another. It touches the part of me that loves deeply, that desires connection and patience and tenderness in my life. It strikes me that the common beat of my heart, moving in a room of dozens of bouncing hearts, all murmuring to our own joys and sorrow, is connected and loved with all that it is to be human in the instant this kiss was witnessed.  This kiss, gifted and then gone, for just a moment remains through the eye of my lens, and is held dear.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Evelyn: I planted my toes in the soft warm sand and let small waves move over them, caressing each crevice, then softening the ground below. I collected thoughts of how the water, the bay, the gulf, all spill into one massively linked ocean that offers me a connection to my sister, to the continents, and the universe. I stood and made my call to nature, to wash over me with a job that holds dear my need for security, creativity,  collaboration, cooperation, and a strong connection with others through teaching. It is coming, riding on some wave I can not see yet, building momentum, eager to take me in, to place me into the world in a new way that uses my gifts fully. I feel hopeful, I feel accepting, I feel warmed and grounded and supported.

Monica: My mom called this morning just to say hello and just then, the sun broke through the clouds. Suddenly the world was glistening and bright. I opened the office door, stepped out into the sunshine in my bare feet and turned my face to the sun to feel the warmth of it, like a sunflower. I joked with my mom that I needed to get a much-needed dose of vitamin D while the getting was good. And it was good.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Water Drops

Monica: More rain, and I wonder if it will ever let up. Too many days of this and I become restless and depressed, craving the light and warmth of the sun on my face. It becomes too easy to stay cooped up indoors with a book and a bottomless mug of tea, but it doesn't dispel my need for sunshine. I have to keep reminding myself that the rain is a good thing—it purifies the air and nourishes the earth. And it coats leaves and flowers with great round drops of water that are fun to photograph, if I can stay still enough. 

Evelyn: Friday was a long day, full of travel and meeting new people, and soul care... and in a brief moment I had an unexpected photo-opportunity.  One of the herons I find most curious hung out in the retention pond in front of a clients office, doing his food dance. These creatures are oddly ugly and beautiful at the same time. Their heads are rough and speckled and leathery, their plumage white and elegant. They do a dance, shaking a leg under the water stirring up the algae and plants, while their beaks are spread open like a trap, awaiting any opportunity that might emerge. I watched for a good 3 minutes before he got spooked by my distance, and then both of us scattered off to our flocks...

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Evelyn: I have seen these flowers a billion times, but I can't help but stop and drink in the profoundly intricate way in which these flowers are built. They do not stay open all day, rather spreading themselves out in the sunlight, then curling back together at dusk. They are delicate and colorful—with a blend of purples and yellows against their leathery white petals. It isn't until I have the macro that I REALLY see the layers that make them so intriguing. The Art of Noticing—noticing on my way out the door from an appointment, noticing on my walk with the dog, noticing when standing for a moment digging in my photo-bag. This is what I love about my commitment to daily photographs: at least something gets noticed each day for it's beauty or difference or its ability to catch me in a moment and make me breathe.

Monica: It's been well over a week since I've put on my hiking boots and walked to the State Reserve across the way. We've had a good spell of rainy days and, to be honest, I've been terrified of spending any length of time outdoors now that I've noticed flowers blooming in force. I cringe to remember the horrible allergies that plagued me for nearly five months last year. (It didn't help that I spent a lot of time with my camera lens—and my face—just inches from grasses and flowers hurling their invisible pollens at me with every gust of wind.) Today, I took advantage of a lull in the downpour to walk down to the bluffs. Jug Handle Creek had risen considerably and was flowing fast to the turbulent sea. The muddy brown creek water mixing with the blue-gray sea reminded me of China, and how the jade green of the Wu melded with the muddier brown of the Yangtze at the confluence of the two rivers. I thought about the Wu becoming the Yangtze, and the Yangtze flowing into the Pacific, and the Pacific surging to meet Jug Handle Creek below my feet. Every place I have ever been or dreamed of going is contained in this water.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Monica: Michael spends much of his chore time dealing with firewood. Splitting it, stacking it, hauling it, and stacking it again. Wood-burning stoves are the only heat source here and since we live in a climate that tends toward chilly most of the time, we pretty much have a fire burning 8-9 months of the year.

Evelyn: I love spring for the curiosities that happen... this fuzz ball seed came fluttering in through the open door and I immediately thought of Horton Hears a Who - in FACT - I brought it to my ear JUST in case. Reminds me that planting seeds happen in many ways - sometimes it is a soft fluffy process, but easily blown to new places, and sometimes it takes breaking an almost adamantine shell, holding that growth tightly until nothing else can happen but change. Feels sort of like my fuzzy mind lately - my inability to stabilize as I flit along looking for the best place to land... Somewhere in there is a seed ready to grow into something else, and for as much as I like the flittering around, I am really feeling ready to land.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Enthusiasm (or lack thereof)

Evelyn: I am in the process of a whole new set of adjustments, between the relative unbalance that makes one of my shoulders higher than the other, and has thrown off my hip the last 6 weeks, to the internal adjustments of relating to a significant connection in a new way. Lately I have felt tired, tired of worrying and the uncertainty of work and finances and health. Maybe today I have simply lost my enthusiasm (I think I may have slept on it funny last night, and it just needs to be shaken out from the sheets). Dragging myself out for some images, my neck complaining from the chiropractor's gentle touch, I observed that the lake is dried out enough that what once existed below the water is exposed and drying on the shoreline. The bleached white of a large turtle shell caught my focus, and when flipped I found the spinal column, rickety and dirty, but intact. It seemed appropriate, looked familiar actually, each vertebrae in its place. I thought of my x-rays, and how I so deeply want to be aligned: with myself, with my values, with my career, with my finances, with the people I love, with my life... and that is a process of gentle adjustments, a few deep stretches, and the support of the amazing people whose arms keep me steady when I am unsure.

Monica: Writing can be excruciating for me. I remember a time when words flowed unhindered from my pen. Sometime between then and now, I lost my fire for writing. I'm not sure what exactly happened. There I was, writing nearly every day,  excited about how I was going to spin the raw material of my life into a rich thread of words. Then something shifted in the world and in myself, and my attitude changed. I felt I had nothing to say anymore. My enthusiasm turned to apathy. And yet, I've continued to harbor the wistful vision that someday I will be a writer again. My family and friends encourage me and Evelyn gently reminds me that my words will be missed if I don't write them. So I force myself to put one word down after another, in the hopes that someday I will see the path clearly to the stories I need to tell.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Monica: I was late going out with my camera today. The sun came out for a stretch, then vanished behind  steely clouds in the late afternoon. I procrastinated, hoping for something new to appear before me that would inspire me to grab my camera. I looked out the window and saw a couple of our guests, a young boy and his dad, playing in the driveway. The boy was chasing his father around until he got distracted by a long stick he found. He became totally absorbed in fashioning the stick into a new kind of tool or toy. I watched him, admiring how he surrendered himself completely to his imagination.

Evelyn: Mesmerized by the iridescent green glimmer of what I thought was a fly, but as I inched in to capture (literally) I discovered was instead a green bee. I am not sure if he was still celebrating St. Patrick's Day, or if it was some strange environmental anomaly that caused this transformation, or if possibly I am simply not aware of a species like this...but he held my attention in the cool breeze, flower wavering and jumping between his efforts and the spring air, and I thought how bold and brave I was to be inches from his work, without a concern or any fear.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Evelyn: So to wrap up a week off, I got to celebrate the birthday of my friend Chris, who is now too old to stay up past 10pm, so we had to clear out by 9:30 from Kobe. The food and company were delightful, and the lighting remarkable for taking pictures at the Japanese Steakhouse. I so dearly appreciate feeling loved and accepted, and enjoy the relationships I am building with friends, and especially participating in the celebration of the life of a friend... put here, in my eyes, just for the gifts I get at this very moment in his presence. Happy Birthday!

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Evelyn: Justin competed in his first Rubik cube competition today, and we spend from 7:47a until 7:30p watching, supporting, cheering for, and logging the event on video. I am unbelievably proud of him, and loved the ease and confidence he had throughout the day, with like-minded spirits, discussing strategies for getting through difficult solves, laughing and joking, sharing cubes, making sense of techniques, and sharing ways to improve the spin-ability (I am sure there is a cuber term for that) of the Rubiks they held. I abandoned him with the clan for the "after-party" at Chilis - and realized how brilliant he is, and how quickly he is turning into a man.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Evelyn: A day of pure healing movement was on my plate. Starting and finishing with adjustments and massage, good food and conversation, napping and writing, difficult processing, and tender patience. The entire day a gift, from waking to sleep. Deep gratitude for the gentle care, the opportunities, and being loved. I discovered today, looking at x-rays of my back, what a tremendous curve I carry. Seems I have mild scoliosis, and the care I take now will keep me moving for a much longer time. I enjoyed the calming environments today, each with its own way of soothing and caring for me, and especially the hands that held me throughout.

Monica: This morning I looked out the west window of our bedroom and saw a couple of turkeys puffing themselves up and fanning their tail feathers trying to outdo each other in their mission to impress the ladies. The ladies appeared to be thoroughly unimpressed. I chuckled at their funky macho dance. They faced each other, they faced away from each other, then they strutted side-by-side, their fan-like tails competing for attention. If I were one of the ladies, I might be more offended than enchanted by their uncouth mooning.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Monica: I usually try to get my taxes done as soon as I get my W-2 forms. For years, I used the 1040EZ form, as I was single, my income was modest, I didn't own property or my own business, and I didn't have kids or major medical expenses. That all changed when I got married. Suddenly taxes became a lot more complicated and I could no longer spend an easy afternoon at the kitchen table filling out a single form. Now I understand what all the headache is about when it comes to taxes. I am a pretty organized person, but this is ridiculous. Both my desk and my computer desktop are littered with forms and instructions, records and receipts. Filling out the 1040 is like being lost in some nightmare choose-your-own-adventure story. After hours of shuffling papers and numbers, I can't think straight in this disaster. Then Evelyn (as always) comes to the rescue and insists I use some free online tax software. Reluctantly, I try it (because I'm always a little suspicious of new technology that promises to simplify my life) and discover that yes, this is SO MUCH EASIER. My taxes are done and my desk is clean again. PHEW!

Evelyn: I have a fascination with niches…places to hide, store, and organize stuff in life. Les & Delene have some great little spaces, a bureau with dozens of tiny drawers, another shelf with odd cutouts. It reminds me of my grandmother's purse, full of pockets and zippers and places to hide things. I loved her purses when I was a child, and she used to let me wander around inside, exploring all the places she would tuck things, like a Kleenex, or a notebook, and often times little dolls for me to play with in church. There were hours of entertainment in one of her bags, and sometimes she would let me dump out the contents and organize it once again. All this reminds me of how I love nooks and crannies for all the parts of me that like to be hidden, or revealed, held or available…and sometimes dumped out and reorganized.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Evelyn:  I was gifted a lesson in swing dance…and with an American Graffiti theme (with ice cream social) I had the experience of whimsically swirling, rocking, and swinging with several different partners. My favorites were the experienced older men, with their cologne and bowling shirts, grinning at my happy red sneakers, and one red-headed teenage wonder, whose sneakers moved with such enthusiasm I giggled with his playful grace. I didn't have to refrain, letting my body trust each new partner, being pushed into all kinds of amazing moves. I wasn't self-conscious, nor did I stand on the sidelines. I wore a grin from ear to ear and when asked by strangers, "Would you like to dance?" I popped up to trot across the dance floor with fervor.  Red converse sneakers make it impossible not to wiggle.

Monica: I caught the cleaning bug today and found this package of dark chocolate(!) peanut butter cups stashed amidst my art supplies. I remember when Michael brought home a small grocery bag-full of candy that was "on sale." He is an all-or-nothing guy who, once he starts in, cannot refrain from polishing off a whole bag of candy in one sitting. The peanut butter cups were for me, but I knew if I didn't eat them then, he would eat them for me. So I stashed them and promptly forgot about them. I did not hesitate to eat them and since Michael is in a "nothing" phase right now, I didn't have to share. 

Friday, March 11, 2011


Monica: It's official: allergy season has begun. I knew it was inevitable the moment I smelled the sweet fragrance of hyacinths in the air last week. With the bright budding colors of spring comes a healthy dose of suffering: itchy eyes, scratchy throat, sneezing and stuffed up sinuses. I naively thought maybe I'd built up some kind of tolerance—or maybe it wouldn't begin just yet—as I stooped to dig my nose into flowers and photograph them. I am amazed when I see that the heart of a calendula is just another set of tiny flowers waiting to bloom and offer up their sweet pollen to the wind and insects and my startled immune system.

Evelyn: Digging into boxes, into the wrappings of my being, into a bag of Terra Chips…and finding comfort and play in the process—finding that we are much like the marvelous colors tumbling in that bag, each morsel a frolicking explosion of sentiment and flavor. Munching and unpacking, digging deep into boxes to retrieve the kitchen…laughing, drinking homespun wine, eating chips, and infusing the late afternoon with our lively energy.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Evelyn: The naughtiest thing I can do right now is eat something decadent. I have been working out at the gym religiously, having added jogging to the routine (and boy does that start firming things up!) This week Starbucks (Oh Glory Be - I have my gold card budget for those days I MUST have a Starbucks!) is celebrating its 40 years in business, and giving away petite yummies with a purchase... so after days of grading projects, tests, and essays, and the stress involved with the gradebook massacre of failing students, I decided this naughty little finger-licking thing HAD to be enjoyed, savored, and consumed. I am hoping that eventually I will have much naughtier things to do with my time and energy, but for now, this makes a lovely guilt-free companion to my day! (Sorry - I ate the Carrot Cake Petite, so wipe that drizzle off your chin!)

Monica:  This morning we had breakfast in Fort Bragg and walked around downtown afterward. I did a double-take when I saw this child's hydroponics kit in the window of the Spunky Skunk, a local toy store.  It didn't really surprise me to see this in a Mendocino toy store, being that we live in California's "Emerald Triangle" (so named for the lucrative marijuana crops that are grown here, a cornerstone of the local economy). We probably have more plant nurseries and hydroponics stores per capita than anywhere else in the country. Someone had a streak of naughtiness to put this in the display window. It practically screams "your kids can learn to grow pot, too!"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

(Anti) Reproduction

Monica: The more I pay attention, the more astounded I am by how quickly things grow and change. Where just the other day there were only bare branches, today a dozen enormous tulip magnolias have bloomed into being. Spring is the time of reproduction, of delicate green shoots sprouting up out of the earth, of babies being born, of growing light. Each day grows greener and brighter and more fragrant than the last.

Evelyn: Ah... the disappointment. All I can say is that I could not reproduce what I originally had intended for my picture of the day. I spent the morning looking for insects or creatures reproducing in the spring filled air, hoping for dragonflies to land interconnected before my camera. The day moved on without a hint, joining me in my isolated business of "doing" the lists. Later, sweaty and tired from running at the gym, I emerged to find a spectacular light show... the sun slowly making his descent and rays popping and bursting around crackles of light between the storm cloudsbrilliant like golden lava, and I grabbed my camera, taking shots like a photographer with a particularly stunning model... "A little left, yeah... yeah... work it honey, show me some muscle!" I got home an hour later, opened the door to my SD card on the camera, and found there wasn't a card. I had forgotten to adjust the setting that stops me from shooting images without a card. Dejection set in, and apathy, and a loss of all enthusiasm.  I grabbed a reproduction of an apple that had been gifted to me 19 years ago in my elementary school classroom, propped it on the table, and took pictures. To make things worse, at 11 p.m., I discovered I had only taken horizontals on a vertical day, and shut the lid of my laptop to worry about cropping my images the next morning. Boo.


Evelyn: I caught Gizmo sunbathing today, not in his usual way but pensively looking up through the window, standing in his spot of sun in the early afternoon. It was curious how he sat thoughtfully, taking a peek at my clicking camera, and then returning his gaze to the window. On the days I actually remember to open the curtains, he trots over to the most luminous spot on the rug, working his way over as it moves with the sun. I believe sunbathing is one of his most favorite doggie doings, and I sometimes hang back and just watch as he luxuriates in the warm rays. Sometimes I join him on his sunspot, rubbing his belly and speaking softly about how happy a dog he is... sometimes I wish I could do more of what he does, with a wag in my tail, and a daydream beyond the windows.

Monica:  I've been a couch potato for much of the past three days. It's been rainy and we haven't had many guests, so I've spent my afternoons by the wood stove with a mug of tea in my lap, reading The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates. It's such an engaging story, I've had a hard time putting the book down. I can read for hours at a time, allowing the day to stealthily slip by into darkness. The wet outside has discouraged me from going on my usual daily walk with my camera. I don't like being cold and wet, so I stay indoors, though I know there is a different world to see in the cold and wet: puddles that provide reflections, glistening droplets of dew, muted colors and soft shadows. These languorous afternoons are rare, so I relish them even as I feel a bit guilty for doing too much of nothing.

Monday, March 7, 2011


Monica: Since I left home for college, it's been my personal preference not to watch much television. Initially, I didn't have the time or money for TV. I was too busy trying to keep up with all the hours of reading and writing I had to do in school, and when I wasn't studying, I was spending my time adventuring or hanging out with friends. This is not to say I was immune to the allure of mindless entertainment. I took to watching movies instead. (What I love about movies is they are uninterrupted —but limited—visual short stories. No commercials. No wait-until-next-week cliff hangers.) My first TV was a 15-lb box with a broken antenna that I could only hook up to a VCR or DVD player to watch movies. I kept it stashed in a closet until it was time to set it up for movie-watching.  I got rid of it when I married Michael, who brought his lightweight 13-inch flat screen TV to our union. (Fortunately, I married a man who has the same aversion to TV and the same love of movies as I do. Though he jokes that if I die before him, he'll get cable.) Sometime early last year, we splurged on a whopping 32-inch flat screen TV. I had to laugh when I saw the brand name along the bottom: VIZIO. It couldn't be more appropriate. "Vizio" means "vice" in Italian, the language of hedonism.

Evelyn: I wondered today how to capture something personal, aside from interactions that FELT personal in nature, I figured I would have to find something. I caught a glimpse of my favorite ring in the sunshine. Nicknamed my mermaid ring, it has an intimate connection to the relationship I have with Monica - representative of our childhood dreams of being mermaids, tossing ourselves with abandon into the torrid waves of life and play. I miss the days of blithe engagement... play that became who I am in many ways ... free and lighthearted, barefoot and creative ... I wear it on my ring finger (it is the only finger it will fit on other than my pinky) and it fills that space, once tightly embraced by a marriage to another, now to a marriage with myself and my own growth. Friends ask me WHY I am wearing anything there... and I can only answer that it feels good there, I love the way it sparkles, the way that it connects me back to Monica, and back to the energy of my own being: inspired and artful... back to who I have always been.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Evelyn: Sometimes a love note comes at just the right moment, after a long P3 weekend, full of compassion and giving, and ongoing energy. I had discovered that one of my text messages hadn't been delivered last week, and I sent it anyway... not expecting a reply. Yet, it felt good, just to connect quickly, and to have the love reciprocated - showing up as a caller on my phone (one of the features I have come to enjoy) - a brisk message acknowledging and loving me right back. It is a little love note, a thought of a hug, that slurps up the miles in my mind.

Monica:  Today was a day of drizzling rain, reading by the fire, and phone calls to family & friends. A day to get grounded and reconnected. I've noticed how in spite of the numerous and instantaneous media available for communication, I am less connected with loved ones than I was ten years ago. I haven't written a long, thoughtful letter in years. Frequent, brief e-mails have replaced occasional, hours-long phone calls. I got off the phone today feeling recharged by the sweet sounds of laughter, encouragement, plans being made, and thoughts shared.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


 Monica: I'm having a little obsession with coconut lately. It began when I discovered that warm rice pudding drizzled in cold coconut milk is divine. Then some friends brought over pineapple Coconut Bliss ice cream and made a warm berry compote to serve it with. I declared it my new favorite dessert. I then discovered this coconut yogurt in the grocery store and bought one try it out.  I think I might have stuck my face in the cup to lick the last of the coconut creaminess. It seems I'm not the only one. Coconut juice is all the rage here in California—the latest health drink. I tried that, too. It's tasty, but not decadent. Not like the jar of raw chocolate coconut butter I bought the other day.

Evelyn: That which cannot be purchased...  A late night call filled with words of love and support, the echo the herons pipe out over the lake in the mornings, the night time crickets and frogs - humming lullabies to my soul in live surround-sound.  I dance to the falling leaves - spinning yellow twists on the cool winter winds - cascading like dry rain. I stir with the warmth of a hand on my skin, or with the pink of cherry blossoms burgeoning on branches. I am roused with the stream of energy running through my body after a jog, or settled by the soft fur of my dog as he nuzzles up to me under the sheets. I cherish the sweet sound of Monica's voice when she says, "Hey,... it's my sister!"  or the pleasant twist of my mother's accent, nurturing me when I call her. I love the brief kisses I still get from my father. I am filled by the sound of my name on the lips of another, a unique melodic greeting. All these things I can only gather to me in the moment that they exist... and I deeply appreciate the things in my life that cannot be purchased.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Evelyn: One of my favorite "old" things is my aunt Ruth's sewing machine. I rescued it years ago from the attic of my grandparents place along with a handful of hand-made wooden train cars, some comic books, and an old tractor. Justin was just a little guy, and the machine reminded me of sitting at Grandma's big sewing machine where she allowed me to sew an endless array of clothes for my barbies out of cloth remnants. I felt productive, and creative, and sat for days with thread and cloth and markers and buttons.  I figured out how to make outfits without any help other than running her machine. I hardly know how to sew today (other than things that require a straight stitch), and I might have some of those old clothes in a box somewhere, but I do remember how grandma was a champion for my own creative energy, encouraging me to play, design, experiment, make-believe, and imagine my world with fruitful extraordinary flair. Sometimes I miss her and wonder what she would make of the work I am doing today.

Monica: Last night I went to my first dance class in nearly 2 years. I went through the familiar ritual of preparing for class: gathering dance shoes, water, notebook & pen, hip scarf, wallet, and car keys into a basket, putting on loose black pants and sparkly skirt and tying my hair up in a ponytail. I opened the drawers of the old steamer trunk in which I keep all my costume pieces and was blasted by colors and textures I had nearly forgotten: glittering belts I had bought at workshops, Afghani jewelry and antique hair sticks purchased at the Tucson Gem Show, my favorite costume bra that I made when I first joined Midriff Crisis, the moccasins with a hole in one toe that I've danced in since I was 15, my zills in their red velvet pouch. There was a feeling of homesickness and a feeling of coming home. I love that dance has given me a certain confidence in my body, maybe a little bit of grace, and a way to express myself without words. I've missed it. And I'm so glad to be back, if only once a week.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


Monica: Have you ever spent a chunk of time sitting still watching a banana slug go about its day? It's quite impressive. Those two tentacles on the top of its head are its "optical feelers" (i.e., eyes).  I watched this little guy turn a tentacle in my direction as I came near. When I got too close, he cowered beneath a blade of grass, retracting his tentacles into his head. He then tentatively extended them again to see if I was still there, decided it was safe enough, and crept along on a sticky trail of mucus towards better cover. It was fascinating to get really close and watch how he moves and molds himself to whatever surface he happens to be in contact with. Even though banana slugs are cannibalistic hermaphrodites that poop on their own heads, they're still kind of cute.

Evelyn: There has been a sticky situation under the Instructor's Workstation in room 215A since this side of the building was built up and the classrooms arranged. I accidentally discovered it with my knee the first time, and seeing that it is on the "corner of balance" where I often rest my hand when getting up or pushing away from the table, I have gotten caught on its tackiness more than once. I see I am not the only one whose fingers have crossed the path of stick... a piece of what looks like the American Flag and a corner of a Snickers wrapper have been tactfully pressed into the glob to remedy the problem... I find it ironic that the USA is yet again manacled to a sticky situation.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Evelyn: Today's word for me is really gratitude - as I have just wrapped up an evening of remarkable support and connection with friends. I usually have pizza grading parties, and when final project week comes barreling down my life I have a small group of friends (officially now my Teacher Assistants) who come to my rescue and blast through the drab mindless processes of checking "project binders" for completed work. I am deeply grateful for their time and efficiency. The only way I know to pay them is to offer up pizza, and at the end of one of these nights, with piles of projects nearly complete, the pizza almost entirely devoured, there are morsels of eaten crusts and remnant crumbs that remind me of the energy that sat with me, like a whirlwind. Kinda reminds me of Thing 1, Thing 2, and Thing 3 at the close of Seuss's Cat in the Hat!

Monica: Tomorrow is Thursday—the night of Michael's book group and my first belly dance class in nearly two years. It's also our fourth wedding anniversary. I realized this morning that we made two sets of plans for the same night: one to celebrate together and another to study something on our own. That wasn't quite going to work. We were free tonight, so decided to celebrate early. We made a reservation for a hot tub, then promptly headed to dinner at Mendo Bistro where we indulged in a feast of steaks & wine, with candy cap creme brulee and lava cake for dessert. We savored our meal and the memories of four years ago today—the eve of our wedding—when I was staying up late with my sister and girlfriends in a hotel room and Michael was home alone enjoying his last night of cable TV.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Monica: This is the picture I've had in my mind's eye when I set out to capture today's word—Michael wrapping me in his arms. This is how I feel being married to him: treasured, protected, nurtured, and deeply loved. At night we sleep like cats, cocooned in the warmth of our bed, and the comfort of it recharges me. In all my purpose-seeking ventures, it never crossed my mind that maybe this is it—my purpose—to love and to be loved. 

(Monica sent me a Horizontal on a Vertical day—but the picture was too precious to not use—so today, we wrap up—outside the boundaries of our usual wrappers.)

Evelyn:  Things in life are much like a fortune cookiewrapped in layers that take some time and attention to truly appreciate.  I am a guarded un-wrapper—I carefully tear away the plastic cover, stare a moment at the small crunchy cookie, contemplate what little gift I might find inside, then break the cookie deliberately so I can greet each morsel with tender appreciation—and finally I luxuriate with the small message of truth folded within. Others are more violent in their efforts, squeezing until the wrapper POPS or smashing it into a fragmented pile of cookie dust just to retrieve the message. I, however, love the curiosity that rides my experience with fortune cookies, the eagerness to reveal what is hidden under the layers and folds, and the final contemplation of the wondrous coincidence of the message: "Life always gets harder near the summit."