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.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Evelyn: An 11/11 ritual, under a shaved full moon at 11:11 p.m. Carrying the wishes and intentions of a team on little slips of paper, I promised to release them to the universe, both on behalf of a college we all are working so hard to nurture and grow, as well as for each of us, who carry our own nest of hopes. I felt warm—that a handful of new people in my life would trust me with those little messages—and that I am part of something big—in my own life—with a new trail on this journey—and it is starting to feel comforting. I feel gratitude under the sage smoke, fire, and simmering light of intentions.

Monica: I have gathered a few sacred objects for a ritual we will be attending tomorrow. I've been preparing for this all week—considering what my deepest intention is, what I want to let go of in my life to make space for what I need to receive, and what guidance might be helpful as I journey forward in my life. I came up with these objects that symbolize different aspects of my intention: heartfulness, aim, and wholeness.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Monica: I went to my coworker's house to help her organize her papers and while we were sorting papers into piles, I looked out her back window and saw a beautiful buck grazing beneath the apple tree in her backyard. My coworker was surprised as the yard was fenced and the deer had to navigate through a narrow side yard to get to the back. I grabbed my camera and started shooting. I saw another pair of antlers turn the corner. Then there were TWO bucks grazing in the back yard. It felt like a renaissance-era painting of the Garden of Eden with the apple tree and the grazing bucks and singing birds in the branches above. 

Evelyn: Late days for me and I barely get home with the energy to figure out meals. Justin was pleased I had half a sub in hand, as he is quickly consuming things around the house. I couldn't help but to capture his ravenous energy at 9:30 at night, making things disappear within just a few chomps.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Love Notes Attached

Evelyn: All this hard work for this: a world of encouragement, an opportunity, being a part of nurturing other human beings and their dreams and goals, making a difference. Love notes attached.

Monica:  The golden hour is getting earlier each day. I've noticed that the best light is between 3:00 and 4:00 now, even though the sun is setting closer to 5:00. The light is softer, shadows are longer, and everything is more golden but for a briefer time. I just love this light, even though it means I have less of it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Evening Lights

Monica: I made it out just in time for a rare colorful sunset and moonrise. My grumpiness gave way to a moment of sheer gratitude for another day of beauty and grace.

Evelyn: Ybor City—Don Vicente Swing Dancing. The drive in is always so interesting, full of light and craziness, parties and restaurants. This venue is one of my favorites, but I get lost on the way in every time. Best exercise of my life has been the dancing that follows the trip into Ybor.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bits & Parts

Evelyn: Enjoyed the MOSI today, and near the end of my visit I stole off to wander the butterfly garden alone. Tremendous variety among butterflies, and the station was unmanned, so I walked into the viewing room and found a basket full of wings and parts situated under a microscope. I loved the variations in color, texture, decoration. Some of us are a bit more modest in our display than others; it seems that carries over into nature.

Monica: I'm having a hard time transitioning into the shorter days of the season now that we've all had to set our clocks back an hour and it's dark by 6:00 p.m. I've been especially grumpy today, irritated with other people, the weather, anything and everything. Walking down to the beach, I noticed dozens of different mushrooms ripped from the ground and strewn all over the trail in bits and parts. My irritation level skyrocketed, as I realized mushrooming season has begun and numerous mushroom-seekers are tromping through the woods in search of prized edible mushrooms. There's nothing wrong with harvesting mushrooms; I take issue with the mindless ways people are interacting with the forest, tearing out countless mushrooms that they have no intention of eating or keeping for study, then crushing them and dumping them on the trail. They perhaps don't realize that these mushrooms are a big part of the local ecosystem, growing out of decay, helping to nourish the forest floor in which majestic redwoods and other plant life grows. The mushrooms have their own life cycle that needs to be completed in order to grow again the next year. Treating the mushrooms so disrespectfully is akin to vandalism in my mind. GRRRR. Okay, my rant is over!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Surface Tangles

Monica: I spent much of the day deep cleaning our home—dusting surfaces, clearing cobwebs, getting rid of things I haven't used in ages. By the time I finished, it was nearly 2:00. I hadn't eaten anything since the coffee and two slices of toast I had for breakfast and I was too tired to even think of cooking (or messing with my freshly sparkling kitchen.) Michael took me to lunch at North Coast Brewery and the afternoon light was just right to capture reflections on the polished wood table across the way.

Evelyn: I had a beach walk with a  high-school friend, catching up with the trust and fluidity that a good friendship can sustain, despite years and years of distance. It was warm, learning about each others lives, laughing and sharing stories about the lives of others in our old gang or our new gangs. Even in the tangles of life, it is interesting how things connect, how we recognize the teen and the young adult in each of us, despite hitting 40, and maintain a familiar smile.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Evelyn: In Orlando, waiting in a pocket of unexpected extra time. I parked myself at a dead end to discover the edge of rough marshy terrain  salted with yellow wild flowers. It was quiet, overcast, and breezy, and my soul joined the quiet moving dance of blossoms. I wanted to stand in the middle of what looked like a half mile of yellow, and look up to the overcast sky through lovely bright swaying warmth.

Monica: It rained all today. I went into town to enjoy a leisurely afternoon of window shopping and thrift store hopping. Michael stayed home to nap in his favorite chair.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Little Comforts of Home

Monica: I took the time today to gather some bits of color from the garden to place on the dining room table: a calendula flower, a couple of chive blossoms, and a twig from one of the plum trees on the property. The year is nearing its end and I've been in a contemplative mood, thinking about what I want in my life and what I want to let go of. I am gathering my energy, going within, slowing down for winter.

Evelyn: I have this great fence around out courtyard. It is slated to be removed and rebuilt, with fresh clean wood and new hinges. However, there is something lovely about how decrepit it is, with rusting nails, rotting wood, and how all kinds of creatures are making homes between the slats. One afternoon we watched birds move in and out of the panels and eat worms and insects. At night, when we push open the gate all kinds of nightlife moves around. I like that it reminds me of rotting trees in the forest, becoming home to other things, returning to the dust it was born of.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

At The Edge

Evelyn: The building where I work is surrounded by jungle, and that jungle manages to  creep onto the edges of the of world of work, resistant to the asphalt, glass, and rubber that are in denial of it. Even one of our welcome mats outside the building is completely moss covered... like a reminder to take off my shoes and breathe in the fresh air before I enter the abyss that is office and paper.

Monica: When I woke up this morning and opened the shade in our bedroom,  I saw that it had rained overnight. The rainy season has begun and my afternoon walk confirmed that the wet season is here. Little villages of mushrooms have sprung up from the leaf- and needle-strewn forest floor and raindrops have remained beaded on blades of grass and flower petals throughout the day. The sun isn't warm enough to evaporate them. The scent of forest overpowers the scent of ocean. Just yesterday it was sunny and warm inland. Today it feels like the onset of winter.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wednesday Handle

Monica: A quick shot of the morning glory vine still blooming in Adriana & Kevin's yard. It's November and 77° outside. I love California.

Evelyn: Inspired by an NPR article I bumped into today, I couldn't help but to add a photo of my own suitcase treasure, found in an antique shop in Tucson, AZ. Although I am not the suitcase collector like my sister, I am drawn to old things just the same. Jon Crispin's work triggered my nostalgia for the history my grandmother kept through small artifacts and hat boxes in her closet, and I found myself journeying the photography and web of links on his site for at least an hour. Just a few years back I remember hearing my family question where my grandmother's original engagement ring was. I have always been curious about Grandma's things. Even her purses were a treasure trove of nooks and crannies to investigate. I rummaged through Grandma's closet, sharing what I had remembered from one of my last visits with her before she died. In that time I did the same thing: perusing the artifacts of her life, emptying tins, hat boxes, and shoe boxes to uncover hankies, glasses, old laced pieces, delicate hat pins, photographs, and the collection of stories that followed. We found her ring, and I felt a longing for the days that I could ask her about what she had. She was quite the historian, really, and I am grateful for the little notes she was good at attaching to items she buried away. Perhaps I will photo-archive them next time I have an opportunity.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Wrapping Up

Evelyn: The first day of fall for me always follows Halloween. Like clockwork, the temperatures begin shifting more drastically that last day of October, and I am eager to dig through warmer clothing as evening chills edge their way to my bedroom windows. I am exhilarated by my favorite scarf, after a late night massage, and feel gratitude for the things in my life that warm me.

Monica: It's fascinating to watch a spider go about her routine, wrapping a newly caught fly as she injects it with her anesthetizing poison or simply mending a broken strand of web. There's a spider web on one of the rear view mirrors of our car that I've noticed stays intact in spite of my driving up to 70 mph on the freeway. I suspect the spider is living in the mirror housing. She found the perfect location for harvesting meals as well as staying sheltered and safe.