Saturday, December 31, 2011

Just ONE More

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

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

Friday, December 30, 2011

Saying Goodbye

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

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

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Prickly Business

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

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

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It's This or Socks

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

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

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Motion & Rest

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

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

Monday, December 26, 2011

Springing From This Place

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

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

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Santa's Cookies

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

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

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Catch Up

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

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

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wishes and Warm Patches

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

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

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Favorite Things

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

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Balancing Act

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

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

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


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

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

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Little Green

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

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

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A New Scene

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

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

Saturday, December 17, 2011


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

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

Friday, December 16, 2011

Little Stars

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

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

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Little Buddhas

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

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Afternoon Treat

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

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

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Navel Gazing & Conversating

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

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

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hints of Orange

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

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

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Flags & Flagships

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

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

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I Wanna Bite

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

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

Friday, December 9, 2011

Little Familiarities

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

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

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Stillness & Movement

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

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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Change in Weather

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

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

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bits of Red

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

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

Monday, December 5, 2011

Apple in Hand

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

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

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Little Disorganized

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

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

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hometown Thoughts

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

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

Friday, December 2, 2011


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

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

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Flickers of Gold

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

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