Monday, October 31, 2011

Ghoulish Glamour

Monica: We decided this morning to head to Petaluma for a supply run and a visit with friends. It didn't even occur to me that it was Halloween until we turned onto Petaluma Blvd and saw a parade of angels, demons, superheros, villains, fairies, monsters, and cute little bugs crowding the sidewalks with their trick-or-treat bags in hand. At Kevin & Adriana's house, Kevin let us have the honor of answering the doorbell for trick-or-treaters. I got to hand out the candy while Michael got to jump out wearing the bloody monster mask and wielding a hatchet to scare the kids.

Evelyn: Ghoulish Glamour. Justin and I went to Les & Delene's to help distribute two storage bins full of candy. Visited by every type of colorful ghoul and princess, we basked in the delight of eager faces, felt gratitude by weary parents to whom we offered water, and chattered between candy eating, nacho chomping, and ongoing hauntings.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Kids at Heart

Evelyn: A kid at heart. I think grown-ups love the opportunity to be something other than themselves, putting on a new career, or a new outfit, or even a new personality, just to bask in taking on life in another way. Justin and I attended Delene & Les' 3rd Annual Pumpkin Carving Party where not only the pumpkins were intriguing, but the costumed friends as well!

Monica: An early evening walk down by the lighthouse. The sky had grayed over and there was a sense of quiet, in spite of the roaring ocean. A mama deer and her teenaged fawn grazed nearby, unperturbed by our footsteps. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Resurrected Fun

Monica: A group of knitters from Healdsburg rented the Farmhouse this weekend and I found myself "checking up" on them frequently, if only to get a look at their projects and soak up some of their feisty female energy. When I told them that I had a 6-year-old sweater project hidden in the back of my closet that I had given up for dead, they urged me to go get it and join their circle; they would help me out. I ran home and pulled my knitting bag off the closet shelf. When I showed it to them, they admired the yarn and commented that I had done a great job knitting what turned out to be a very complicated pattern. They looked at the pieces, figured out what was wrong, helped me to rip out the parts that needed to be redone, and proclaimed that I was more than capable of finishing that sweater. It felt good to be so encouraged and supported by complete strangers, to be welcomed into their circle of laughter and sharing. And it felt good to bring fresh energy to a project I had long since given up on but always hoped I'd someday have the courage to complete. 

Evelyn: An unexpected yet brief trip to Cassadega landed me in shops of every kind of ornament and tarot influenced spiritualistic token. I love the energy of this place, hopeful to return for more adventuring soon. I am always drawn to places like this, expecting that somewhere in my history it has been a part of me in some way. I usually walk away with a stone or something that fits in my hand, however, this time I carried just my camera to capture the colors.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Warm Socks & Baling Out

Evelyn: During our driving lesson to Orlando (full of grabbing the seat or wishing for a roll bar) we took the country roads to avoid the pressure (fear) of driving I-4. Taking a pause to switch and take pictures, I handed Justin the driver's seat. We were on a small side road, so he could practice a 3-point turn that wasn't in the high school parking lot and hopefully get us back on track. My leisurely observance of bales of hay turned into a 5-minute ordeal, with pleasant farmers waiting for us to get turned around. Justin drove us into the ditch on the side of the road, and stalling out, all with a captive audience. I stepped out of the car, assured other motorists that "we are just fine... student driver!" and with nods, people continued on. One farmer waited, just to make sure we could get out of the ditch, and to prove that was possible, I took over, got us out, and again swapped seats. Not helpful for Justin's confidence, however, sometimes you just have to move on.

Monica: I officially gave in to fall this week when I pulled my boots out of the closet and put on my first pair of socks since last spring. Up until now I've been running around sockless in my summer flats, in complete denial that it's October. I also had to pull out my warm hat and warm coat to walk down to the beach. Another sign that we are well into fall: the mushrooms blooming out of the damp, pine-needle carpeted earth. This fly agaric mushroom was about 5-inches in diameter.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Feng Shui Moments

Monica: This afternoon I had what my friend Adriana calls a "feng shui moment," a sudden need to pare down my possessions and get rid of things I don't need or use anymore. I tackled the old steamer trunk that holds all my bellydance costume pieces and filled two bags to donate to the thrift store. In the midst of deciding what to keep and what to give away, I put on some music, tried on various pieces, and danced. It felt good to dance again and I realized how much I miss it. I'm not sure if I'll ever perform again, but I know I'm not quite ready to give up all of my costume pieces.

Evelyn: Good Morning. Seems our sunrises can be just as spectacular as our sunsets on the suncoast. I am greeted by sunshine every morning, warmly lighting up my bedroom and stretching shadows over my floor. I love that I can play hopscotch on my morning sun patches on the way to my wake-up shower.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sleek Cars & Fast Criminals

Evelyn: Swing Dance Monster-fest and I came right from work into a den of costumes (dressed as a... uh... a Program Director?) I struggled on my feet all night, tripping over wolf-toes, grabbed by chains, bumping into super heroes and vampires, and practically flopping over from sheer curiosity. Needless to say,  I was pleasantly distracted by the costumes.

Monica: We parked next to a gorgeous old Chevrolet and I remarked that they just don't make 'em like that anymore. I love our Prius, but aesthetically it's about as pleasing to the eye as a can of tuna. There's just something about the gleaming chrome and sexy curves of classic American cars. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Stems & Straws

Monica: A couple of days ago, a guest handed Michael several wax-paper sacks filled with wild chanterelle mushrooms he had harvested locally. It was a generous gift, considering wild mushrooms sell for anywhere between $20-$100/lb. I got out my cookbooks and fired up Google to pore over recipes. I decided to make a risotto, combining elements of different recipes to come up with my own creation: chanterelle risotto with rosemary & sage. Michael likes the taste but not the texture of mushrooms, so I figured I'd make something that could handle minced mushrooms. The risotto turned out perfectly AND Michael ate a good portion without complaint. (I did fully disclosed the fact that I was serving him mushrooms. I learned early on that deception doesn't work with him.) Today on my walk, I was thrilled to discover several patches of small chanterelles on the property. Now I have to figure out what to make next.

Evelyn: Date night, car adventures, and ice cream. Justin is learning to drive. Getting where we need to go is a blend of luck and an amalgamation of new skills supported by internal yelling and external distress. Regardless, we are usually on "breaks" between each episode, and so eating burritos and laughing seems to ease the process quite a bit.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Evelyn: Stepping out - the day settled and productive at work, a long drive home still on the agenda - I was suddenly aware how quickly the light was fading and I made a mad rush to wander near campus and find an image worth shooting. I came upon my shadow; sharp, humble, and certain. There she paused, posing, waiting to be captured.

Monica: I had to cajole him into joining me on today's photo walk. It's been awhile since we've walked down to the bluffs together to take in the majestic view of the sea and watch the sun sink below the fog bank lurking on the horizon. Sometimes I just have to stop and savor the moment, committing the details to memory, my heart filled with gratitude for the years we have behind us and the partnership we've built together that is the truest thing I know.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fiery Red

Monica: The days are getting shorter and I keep forgetting that I don't have all day to capture the light. Today I made it out the door as the light was beginning to flatten and lose its golden glow, about 20 minutes before sunset. It turned out to be perhaps the most spectacular sunset I've seen here in Mendocino, with layers of fiery red, dark orange, and deep pink. I missed Michael being at my side to see it, but when I got home, he was standing out on the back deck taking it all in.

Evelyn: Hanging at the mall today, I enjoyed a stint of time at Barnes & Noble, drinking coffee and catching up with friends, perusing the shelves and swimming in a sea of language, words, pictures, and paper. Passing the magazines I am intrigued by the influences - standing bright red among other more muted pages, and I question, again, what is beauty, really? Is it all this, or what I find every day in the variety of people and faces, each wearing their experiences, scents, clothing, and smiles in different ways. Or even the ways in which nature flaunts itself, with flowers and color and different efforts to lure us closer. How is it that we make this media our reality, every day, and allow it to influence how we feel about ourselves, our bodies, our minds, our life?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Playing Together

Evelyn: I love the live band in Orlando, and any opportunity to dance. Tonight was the Little Big Band - resounding old fun songs to swing to - a nine piece. The light is low, and sometimes it is hard to capture their jiving performance  - however this was an unexpected and fun picture; capturing their joy of playing together.

Monica: I was headed to the bluffs to take photos when I heard the shrieks and laughter of children on the beach below. The sounds piqued my curiosity, so I made my way down the trail to the beach and pulled out my camera. There were four boys chasing each other in the creek, kicking and splashing water at each other, hurling clumps of sand, whooping and shouting as they battled each other. In contrast, there were two little girls squatting in a shallow pool away from the commotion, chatting away as they dug in the sand to expand their "hot tub." A group of adults was sprawled on the sand nearby, clearly enjoying watching their kids' antics. I was reminded how much fun it was to PLAY as a kid, to imagine mermaid worlds with my sister, to scream at the top of my lungs while being chased. It was a perfect day at the beach.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Moments & Time

Monica: This morning I opened our kitchen door and there was a monarch butterfly on the doorstep, waving her wings at me. "Well, hello!" I greeted her, and scurried back inside to get my camera. She was gone when I got back, but I looked for her and found her perched on the chives, cleaning her delicate antennae. She was beautiful. I love it when nature greets me first thing in the morning, reminding me that there's beauty to be seen each moment.

Evelyn: Time is an interesting concept - it is completely man-made, and it controls every aspect of our lives: my computer won't work without the proper setting of time, when a deposit posts impacts the ability to pay a bill. "Time is Money" and with sleep thrown in, it can not be saved, recycled, stored. Once it is lost, it is impossible to recoup. I recognize that I am sensitive to how my time is used, and feel the heavy disappointment when my time is not honored, with little consideration of the commitment of time, the agreement. I find myself feeling sad, discouraged, insignificant, and deeply disappointed. It leaves me in a space in which I could be doing something different, to ensure I am using my time in ways that feel good to me. I didn't expect my picture today to trigger such strong feelings.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Returns & Relief

Evelyn: Relief. I am at then end of a tremendously challenging day. I rode through it until the phone call to my "little sister crisis hotline" and finally let go of being strong to melt the drama out over the air and regather myself. My days are good, I am learning so much, I know it will get better, I know that is just one day of many really great ones. I have gratitude for the ears that take me in, knowing there is nothing to fix, but listen and support, so that I can jump back on the horse the next day and carry on the ride. My remedy? Mindless stuff, for just a half hour; words with friends, glass of wine, feet up.

Monica: Another hike today, this time up a heart-thumping hill till we have a view of the valley below. The air is a little hazy, likely from fires in the Sacramento River valley to the east, we are told. It's our last morning here before we head home to the coast where the redwoods and ocean await us. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Shift in Climate

Monica: We got up early this morning to go for a hike before the sun got too strong. The air was crisp but I put on a pair of shorts anyway, knowing it would warm up once the sun peeked into the valley. We walked along the valley floor, through groves of oak and walnut trees, past the ruins and remnants of the old mining town that used to be here over a hundred years ago. There's a quality of stillness that reminds me of the desert where I grew up, though it looks nothing like it.

Evelyn: A coolness swept through this evening that left me a bit chilled and eager. On my way to dance, the sky brilliant, my bones chilled, I thought, "Goodie, I get to start wearing my scarfs!" Ultimately, that is one of my favorite accessories: long, bold, colorful scarfs, that wrap me up and around.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Evelyn: I have a thing for frogs. I don't know why. Perhaps a part of it is in the way they show up in my life, little "check-ins," like a sticky wide-eyed visit. In the way that my own eyes are drawn towards a tiny creature, breathing and moving through life after quite the transformative journey, and reminded that I share this space with so many things I don't always see. It was almost 8:30pm when my "bunkmate" spotted him hanging out on the office window (as frogs tend to do in my life) and remarked on his presence - triggering an excitable hustle to pull out my cell phone and hope for a decent shot. I love these little visits.

Monica: It's getting towards the end of October and things are finally beginning to slow down here at the Farm. Michael and I decided to take a whole two days off (!) and head back to Wilbur Hot Springs for some deep relaxation and to explore the area a little more. It was 80° outside and sunny when we arrived, which made me giddy with happiness. We turned off the highway onto the dirt road that leads to Wilbur and were greeted by golden hills and a sparkling creek. I could feel the weight of tension lifting as we drove through the valley, over the bridge, past the gate, and into the little heaven that is Wilbur.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Evening Conversations

Monica: I'm talking to my sister on the phone. It's after 6:00 p.m. and neither of us has captured an image for the day. "Let's just do a self-portrait already," I say. After a few shots in the mirror, I share my observation: "You know, in your 30's, you really start to notice that you're aging. It's just a hint, but there it is: a loosening of the skin on your bones, a shifting of your features that makes you a little unrecognizable to yourself in pictures. You notice that you're not you anymore. You're someone else." Evelyn sucks in her breath and says in that big sister knowing voice, the one that hints at mysteries unknown to me because I haven't crossed that bridge yet, "Yeah, just wait! In your 40's, you wonder what happened to your eyes, you need glasses. Things start to get saggy. And there are weird bumps." "Bumps?!" And then the conversation dissolves into peals of laughter.

Evelyn: Tired eyes. Feels good to be home, where I can put things away and not think about them until tomorrow. Where I can sit on speaker phone and jabber with my sister, while snapping secret desperate pictures, last minute, last moment, just so I can go to bed and rest my tired eyes. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Afternoon Antics

Evelyn: Not feeling well, likely a combination of stress and being exposed to three weeks of sick people. Regardless, my remedy is tea, and a late afternoon nap on the beach, taking in some sunshine and fresh air. 

Monica: There have been several fox sightings in the last few days, so I thought I'd hang out in the garden today and see if he'd make an appearance. I didn't see him, but I did get to watch the antics of a blue jay as he fussed in the sunflowers and screamed at me from his high perch in one of the plum trees. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Monica: A late lunch at Mendocino Cafe, a little place we had never tried before. Michael got the breakfast burrito and I had a spicy Thai chicken vegetable soup with bean thread noodles and tons of cilantro. YUM.

Evelyn: Sometimes all that is left is temptation, and a pocket filled with lint, a dollar bill, and not a coin to be found.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Shots & Drinks

Evelyn: It is rare to go out for "beers" with friends. I don't normally drink, but decompressing from some of the unexpected and disappointing stressors at work, taking my mind off difficult decisions and upcoming challenges with laughter and easy-spirited conversation reminds me that I have an amazing community both in my work and personal life. I am grateful, for the amazing people I work with, the fantastic team of educators who strive so hard to nurture our students, and for opportunities to grow (as difficult as that may feel at times!) Cheers!!

Monica: It's much easier to take airborne shots when I'm not the one jumping. My $8 trampoline is too much fun.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Oh, The Places We Go

Monica: It was such a lovely, sunny fall day that I decided I would walk to our mailbox, a little less than a mile away at the Caspar community center. When I got there, I decided to keep walking. I wanted to prolong the pleasure of the warm sun and cool air on my skin and the gravelly road beneath my feet. I walked to the end of Caspar and then headed out to the bluffs to take in the view. I don't walk this way very often but I'm glad I did.

Evelyn: The little ice cream shop in Palm Harbor (The Sweet Spot), right off of Crystal Beach is an oasis of wholesome homemade ice cream. I love that it is open until 10 p.m. every night, even Sundays, and welcomes me  with opportunities to drown myself in the yumminess of unique fall flavors like pumpkin ice cream. They make all kinds of things, other than ice cream, and the shop is so colorful, I am like Gretel, checking out the candy cabin in the beachy Florida tropical swamps.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Paying Attention

Evelyn: I am fascinated by the plant that grows in my courtyard. It has thick flat leaves, and new ones start as a horn-like spike before they roll out. It provides a bit of shade, but mostly, it talks sort of friendly. I don't hear it, I feel it "friendly." That alone makes me feel welcome when I return home.

Monica: How easy it is not to see the beauty right in front of me as each moment passes. I find myself taking for granted the warmth and light of the sun, the crisp fall air, the way the light hits a patch of fern leaves just so and highlights the little bits of brown decay at their tips. There are new mushrooms, feathery clouds, a patch of dandelions waving their yellow heads in the breeze. There are golden leaves creating a crunchy carpet beneath my feet. I see these things every day, but then again, maybe I don't. I have to force myself to pay attention, to appreciate, to say thank you for the grace of another day.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Moments of Wonder

Monica: This morning Michael brought me my coffee and the news that he had just sighted a new mushroom near the Farmhouse. "It looks like a flower—with petals and a round ball in the center that puffs brown powder when you push on it..." I followed him out with my camera and sure enough, there was a patch of these mushrooms I'd never seen before. It's a rounded earthstar, not edible, but really one of the coolest mushrooms I've encountered. I experienced one of those rare moments of wonder when you see something for the very first time, something you never knew existed and hadn't imagined, but there it is. 

Evelyn: On the way to Ybor City I couldn't help but to almost squeal in the delightful glimmer of the moon over Tampa Bay. The latest body of water I lived near was the size of a grocery store parking lot... and from Orlando, the nearest beach an hour and a half away. I feel like a kid getting glimpses of the water in new ways, and although this image is hardly spectacular, it at least bookmarks my delight on one given evening, in my life, on a ride to Ybor City to dance.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Brief Walks

Evelyn: I was inclined a few weeks back to do some painting and finally decorated a piece of pottery I have had for as long as I have had my kidlet. It was nice to put some creative energy into something structured, something I didn't have to think a lot about, but could simply dabble and decorate. It hangs on our fence door, and greets me on the way out, right in line with the rising sun and moon.

Monica: Of course I didn't take enough pictures of Wilbur while it was light out yesterday and today we awoke to a steady rain. We had planned to go hiking on the nature preserve but hadn't planned for rain, so our hike turned into a brief walk through the valley in between downpours. It was still lovely, though.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Circles & Stems

Monica: We took the day off and headed to Wilbur Hot Springs for a mini-retreat. We have friends who highly recommended Wilbur for its tranquil atmosphere and therapeutic thermal waters. Wilbur is tucked away in a golden valley surrounded by rolling hills with a creek through it. There's no TV or internet, so it felt very much like home. Guests bring their own food and can cook in their enormous kitchen. I prepared us a simple dinner of asparagus & lemon risotto with a green salad & white wine, the perfect meal to eat out on the screened-in veranda as the nearly-full moon rose over the hills. 

Evelyn: A drive in Pa's Jag, hair whipping around in a mosh pit of locks, sand blowing from crevices and holes into my grinning smile, and the guttural drone of not one, but two, growling mufflers. Quite the adventure between rain storms, on a late Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Evelyn: Warm, nurturing. Perfection on wet, rain-cleansed days that require a scarf and a T-shirt. I was treated to homemade chicken-noodle soup, and tossed all plans to the wind to hunker down and take in the quiet connection under the storming skies.

Monica: Our "mystic enchantment" dahlias are just blooming now in front of the Creamery. I love their deep burgundy stalks and leaves that contrast nicely with the bright red blooms.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Paths & Drives

Monica: The two lovely Aussie photographers, Jessica and Cherina. I took them hiking on the Staircase trail and introduced them to the delight of feasting on wild huckleberries. They left this afternoon, headed north to the old growth redwood forests of Humboldt county. I feel like I made two new friends and hope that someday our paths cross again. Have a safe trip, you two!

Evelyn: My son is learning to drive. This is a huge lesson in trust, a test of patience, and an opportunity to instill in him the care, awareness, and regard that befits a healthy driver. I find us having conversations about how others are driving, about what to look for, about what I am doing, AND what I am doing wrong. And in all of those, I am willing to admit my mistakes, eager to share the conversation, and so proud that he is careful and patient with me.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Looking Out

Evelyn: Been feeling a bit like I am watching the world through a window - and it is moving and whirling, a dynamic energy. Sometimes I am dumbfounded, my breath drawn and at times I see myself out there dancing with the flow, bending and swaying. Sometimes, I am simply uncertain and lonely. Either way, it all moves in and out of focus, depending on the speed in which things change, and I just have to trust that I am, as I am always, complete.

Monica: One of the perks of my job is getting to meet cool people from around the world. Today a couple of photographers from Australia showed up, two women on a 3-month trip through the western states of the U.S. and Canada. As it was just getting to the magic hour before sunset and I was headed out on my photo walk, I invited them to join me. As we neared the coastline with its dramatic view of golden meadows and crashing surf, they became giddy with excitement over the beauty before them. "I LOVE LIGHT!" one of them exclaimed as she put her eye to her camera's viewfinder and snapped away. I was thrilled to be able to share that with them, two kindred spirits who "got it." It's such a pleasure to share something of beauty with others and see them light up. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Changing Light

Monica: I can't believe it's October already, but pumpkins are piled high at the market and Halloween items are on display all over town. The sun came out today for the first time in nearly five days and I headed straight for the ocean to soak up the sunshine on the bluffs. On the way, I caught the light filtering in through the forest, illuminating the green leaves. Breathtaking. 

Evelyn:  The weather has shifted quite a bit recently, and the change welcome. With that the light also seems to change. My days of being wide-eyed until 9pm are quickly moving into an earlier evening, and thus, my days "feel" longer because I am getting home closer to dusk than I am used to. I have had a lot of days in Spring Hill, working among a great staff, a new environment to get curious about.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

White Noise

Evelyn: I haven't been in a coin laundry for ages. Actually, felt sort of soothing, the rhythms of the dryer drums tumbling clothes, the spinning colors caught between glimpses, the smells of fresh laundered clothing and feel of warm fabrics. I forgot how fun the baskets on wheels were (not that I went riding around) and I almost wished that I had a need to head to the coin-op laundry, if even to help a friend, just to bring a book and have an excuse to wait, coffee in hand, laundry tumbling color over color...

Monica: Day 4 of rain. I didn't think the rainy season would come so soon, but here it is. It seems like only last week I was basking in the warm Indian summer sunshine. Now I'm indoors mostly, listening to the patter of raindrops on the roof, a soothing white noise in the background of my existence.

Monday, October 3, 2011

In Preparation

Monica: It began with a light drizzle on Saturday. By today, it was full-on raining. I realized with a sigh that it was time to retire my light summer shoes and dust off my sturdy waterproof boots. I have a few colorful accessories to help me endure the gray: a sunflower umbrella and colorful polka-dot rain boots. I see I'm not the only one who appreciates fun wet-weather gear.

Evelyn: I had been looking forward to a quiet sunset picnic in Clearwater for a good week. In anticipation I hauled turkey sandwiches on fresh baked Italian and some delicate but delicious pastries from a little authentic Italian bakery-bistro in Spring Hill— just in time for the setting sun. It doesn't matter what time of day it is, the seagulls certainly know when there is an opportunity—which made for a lively gathering.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Evelyn: This little guy (gal), wearing a face on his back, has created a barrier on my bedroom porch so large and beautiful, I haven't had the heart to get in the way of his endeavors. I did, however, get a little mischievous and sprayed his web down with a fine mist of water, just so I could better see all he had been working on. He (or she) quickly got to work, pulling on strands, collecting water, and straightening house, then quickly returning to center, just to wait. It has been a solid two weeks since I discovered my bunk-mate—and he isn't moving to any other location despite my requests. I imagine his web is my daily art show, freshly reworked and measured, every morning.

Monica: I realized all the photos I took today were vertical when I needed a horizontal one. Thus, a late-night snapshot, just before crawling into bed beside my sleeping husband and a good novel.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Lean on Me

Monica: Married two months and a day. Life is good and they have each other. This photo makes me smile for the happiness I see in their eyes. These two are pure sunshine. 

Evelyn: This weekend has been pure sunshine and the type of temperature that lets you know fall is crawling under the blankets with you. Suddenly I am filled with the desire to DO STUFF - be outside, take a trip, make music, drink cocoa, clean the sheets!  I took out my Telephoto-Macro lens, it has been a long time since I have used this baby, and I forgot how heavy it was. My Arizona Javalina has found a nice spot in my courtyard, and I noticed that the lizards like to sun themselves there, crawling in and out of his ears and nose - nice place to lean and warm up in the sunshine.