Saturday, December 31, 2011

So Long 2011 CHET, JANE, and BOB and Welcome 2012!

As the sun sets on this past year, and rises on the new we wish everyone a most joyous and safe New Years Eve and a BEST Year yet to come! We thank the dozens of friends we have met through our book events this year!  We also reflect fondly on those we will miss.  We are so grateful that we have the likes of Jane (Russell) and Chet (Hill) and Bob (Sorvig) in the pages of REAL.  Their stories will continue to remind us of Balance, Hope, and Love.  They also remind us to appreciate those around us, even those we don't know, and how EVERYONE makes a difference in this life.  It truly IS a Wonderful Life!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Turning the pages, turning of the years... Address Book Memories

I have often helped my 91 year old mom address her Christmas cards.  This year was a bit different from times before.  It is always so heartwarming to sit at her table by the window and talk about how lucky we are to be so close.  Two weeks ago when I sat in my spot, she had placed a rubber band bound stack of tiny address books by the cards. These were address books that I had not seen in decades.  The familiarity of them tugged very deeply at my heart and brought back memories of my own, even sounds and scents of our home from decades ago. I remember being a little girl and pulling out one of them to look up an address of an aunt or cousin for my own notes.  I imagined the memories my mother must have  when she flipped through the pages of each one.  A couple of them were "before my time"and full of names and details from as far back as the 1930's.  It was precious to hear her recall who some people were and where they lived and how she knew them.  It was dramatic to see how many had been crossed out because they had died, more like they had passed on but not forgotten - their place and time recorded in her book.  The covers of the address books were worn by love and use, and the material and design reflected an era.  

We addressed the few envelopes that she would send this year, and enjoyed the minutes of reading through names and places.  It was a special surprise to go through her "Princess Gardner" spiral bound photo book to see the tiny black and white images she had stored their from her younger years.  This was the collection that would have fit into her "billfold" in her purse and traveled with her  everywhere so that she could share her photos with pride. There was something very warm and personal about holding these in my hands, and seeing them in hers. The collection of years of friends and family, comings and goings and staying connected through expressions of love.  Thank you, Mom, for reminding me of how such a simple thing can mean so much.   

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What Music Looks Like!

I could not help but feel my heart singing to this! 
Clouds dancing to what must be joyous and playful music! 

Smart 'hop or Smart Shop, How does YOURS run?

Uncle Dave is in the introduction to REAL, his story is an affirmation of the stories our hands have to tell.  He is having a hard time remembering much, but his hands show the work he has done, and his creations show the ways he has impacted his community, his family and even the world. He created a contraption decades ago that looks like a giant turntable... it spun slabs of heavy steel and would bend the edges down so that it would provide a better seal for tanks of all types... He played around with an old hose from hair dryers and tubing and blankets and created the prototype for warming blankets.  His shop is gloriously full of materials and tools, full of life and ideas.  I love his tablets of commandments where it says , "The smart shop is not run by a computer" ... and "that the smart shop can be anywhere that we are"!  Everyone has his or her own smart shop!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Flying, Family, Freezing and the Deep Dark Woods!

sunrise california from the air

cold farmland Minnesota December 10

Moonrise evening of December 10
so cold and crisp

the deep dark woods...

the deeper darker woods...

the moon peeking through the deep dark woods of Maple Lake Minnesota
cold cold winter

After the passing of Bob in Minnesota, I was thankful to be able to attend the service and family gatherings surrounding the time of tribute and memories.....
The flights and connections added up to a long day on Friday and Sunday, but were well worth day of gratitude and warmth in between.  Lots of hugs and tears and smiles, and lots of food later, I felt so close and  comfortable even though far from home.  

One of the most vivid and alive stories was about the "deep dark woods".  These woods are dense and along a dirt road that has been used for decades as a short cut or diversion from the ordinary  route to school, church or the market.  They were freezing cold and stark.  The trees and darkness inspire the imagination.... creatures, critters and things that do more than go "bump" in the night!
Loved the cold, the family warmth, the traditions and the love!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bob, You Will Be Missed

Bob's is a Love story, for the love of his life, Shirley, for  his sons and daughters, and their children... for his extended family, his farm, church, and especially God.  It is a good thing he was a big man, because that it is a lot of love.

Bob peacefully passed away yesterday morning.   His love will continue to be felt through generations.

-Bob and Shirley-
As he steadies his balance with the best grip he can get on his cane, Bob clasps the gentle hands of his dear Shirley.  Their wristwatches symbolize the importance of time.  They have had almost sixty years together, six children, many grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren.
He still has the broad lumberjack build of a Minnesota farmer.  Petite Shirley is even smaller with age, but there is a strength from within her that has rehabilitated Bob from the stroke.  Somehow she has been able to keep up her household routine with the same love for setting the table and feeding a large family as she has for decades.  Shirley is Bob’s extra hands and caretaker.  Bob has had to let go of some of his masculine pride so that his wife can lovingly button his buttons, click his seatbelt, and drive them to appointments or church.  There is a shared sense of humor between them and the bantering just makes the adjustment easier.
He was the head of the house, driving trucks and huge farm equipment.  She was the full-time mom, with an assortment of aprons for time spent in the kitchen.  There were cows to milk, eggs to gather, gardens to tend.  Days began with the sunrise and were long and full.  There were the seasons for plowing and planting, summertime fishing and mosquitoes, and the long, dark, cold winters.
From the beginning, their journey has been one of side-by-side togetherness. This season of their life together has brought them to a different daily routine.  They end each day with a precious ritual.  Bob must sleep in a hospital bed and Shirley has a bed adapted to her weakening knees.  They share the same room with their beds close together.  They take each other’s hand, give thanks for a wonderful rich life and they pray for loved ones. Hands clasped, they fall asleep.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Madness? DREAMS Come True!

Congratulations to David and his crew of their new surf film, "SURF MADNESS". David and surf pro, Sterling Spencer are permiering their new project this week in Florida, California and Hawaii!  The film promises to be filled with humor and fun, as well as thrilling surfing by many of the world's best!  
We look forward to the success of their film and whatever they may do next!
(David is featured in the chapter of DREAMS.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Art of Slowing Down- Gladys, Wisdom and Acceptance

Her fingers are taking a shape of their own these days.  At times, to use or move them is painful.  She can still write a letter and occasionally she can piece together a jigsaw puzzle.  She enjoys reading her Bible, however her interests are more than sedate. With the excited energy of a sports fan, she looks forward to golf tournaments on television and loves to keep up with the stats of her favorite players. 
Gladys has strong and fond memories of the earliest days of her local Lutheran church.  It was in that church that she found her calling, one to which she was devoted.  She took on a range of responsibilities and held multiple church positions before she ultimately became the designated writer of notes, acknowledgements, birthday greetings, and thank you cards. 
She brought to the task the training of her Midwest education, and a self-cultivated discipline and commitment to continue practicing impeccable penmanship.  Her skill exemplified “the art of letter writing.” 
The perfect lines, loops, and cursive lettering of her early notes appear almost like fine lace—an art form of her own design, delicate and beautiful.  Her handwriting encapsulates a legacy of excellence and attention to detail that somehow in its perfection still exudes warmth and love. To hold her hand-written note is to experience grace and beauty.
The flowers and trees outside her sliding glass door are her daily entertainment.  There is pleasure in witnessing the small changes of the seasons and the sounds of the birds that bring the outdoors to Gladys.  She is homebound with physical limitations, yet she is far from bored.  She has learned the art of slowing down and doing less. Life is simple and visitors are treasured.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Catching up with the College Kids: Meredith, Kelly, Carly, Trevor, Mike

It has been a pleasure to stay in touch with these young students who are featured in our DREAMS chapter.  I spent the some time on the tide pools with Kelly and Meredith yesterday, and enjoyed their gentle "childlike" wonder of the wildlife found in that fascinating ecosystem. They had spent hours on the pools as very young kids, however, they expressed a similar appreciation yesterday, as if for the first time or maybe it was because of the deep appreciation of the simple miracles of life they have gained in the more worldly experiences of recent years.
Kelly shared her stories of episode of the Occupy UC Davis movement and police brutality there.  Her dedication to her fellow students has her looking forward to returning to campus after a short break for Thanksgiving at home.  For Meredith, the short holiday is like coming up for air, until she returns to UCSB. She will not waste anytime shifting back into gear as a director for EENG (Environmental Education for the New Generation),  in Global Brigades (Ghana 2012), in her job at the market, and in her final weeks of class as she completes her major this winter.  Somehow, these two, and the other "Dreamers" still find time for moments of quiet, and make time for friends and fun.
Updates on Trevor, Mike and Carly to come...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Here's Jonny!

It was with a bit of daring and whim that we decided to get the cartilage of our ears pierced.  Of course the potential for pain was a factor, but the intimidation I felt about going to a tattoo parlor was another obstacle for me to overcome.  My three daughters insisted that this shop was the best in town.
Jonny met us and gave us forms to complete and asked for the required identification.  In addition to his multiple tattoos and facial piercings, Jonny’s nonchalant demeanor had me curious.
“Before we actually do this, I need to know something.” I asked, much to my daughters’ embarrassed groans.  “Are you happy today?  Are you in a good mood?”  He looked up and spoke sincerely, “Yeah!  I just got back from a vacation and you are the first customers today. I am rested and happy.  This will be easier than you might think.”
He took the four of us into his workspace, which, besides the artwork and cluttered d├ęcor looked much like a dental office complete with autoclaved instruments, sterile materials, and sparkling stainless steel.  This young man took his work seriously and treated us with sensitivity and deliberate care.  He talked us through the procedure, step by step . . . “the needle goes in as you exhale . . . it will be as smooth as a knife through butter.”
Jonny was extremely hygienic, changing gloves, materials, and tools with each person, checking for blood vessel anatomy on each of our ears to be sure he had marked the correct spot.  As each of us stood up with our new earring, and attentively listened to Jonny’s post care instructions, we were so relieved and proud!
Tattoos and piercings may be at the peak of popularity, but Jonny’s manner reminded us that etiquette, patience, respect and daring never go out of style.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Love, the Common Thread

It has been so fun to receive the many comments and personal stories of our readers.   Just recently we received a kind card which enclosed this photograph.  It is the proud and happy portrait of four generations of the ladies in a Minnesota family.  Great- grandma, Evelyn, sent this of her daughter, grand daughter and great grand daughters.  Surely there are many stories that are imagined as we look at the tiny hands, the graceful aged hands, the hard working hands and the lively, bold fingernail polish.  This is precious.   Thank you for sharing this example of family and great love,  of time and ties. 

There are images like this that get passed on through emails, and the fact that they get passed on is because we all "get it".  Our hands really do speak volumes, but the greatest and strongest theme is LOVE.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ask a Busy Woman!

       Recently, I shared another favorite quote:  "If your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt." a photo    of the amazing late artist, Chet Hill.  The same day, I met with Connie, the director of our 620 seat performing arts center to discuss a new event I had committed to inviting to our area.  That quote rang true for Connie that morning. She was beautifully dressed- with even a bit of feminine sparkle, or "bling", high heels, long polished nails, and gorgeous hair. Her manner was one of comfortable confidence and focus as we immediately sat down to work on details of the event.  This woman really knows her stuff, running the performing arts center, managing events and people, schedules and contracts. Her knowledge of budgets, marketing, and computer skills were easy to her, but obviously the level of only a pro.  As she babied her long, shiny thumbnail, she explained that she had been working already in the dark of early morning with her cattle, and one of the calves had become ornery and rough and in grabbing his halter, the nail painfully broke.  The image came to mind of Superwoman, in heels, out in the pen wrestling calves before she came to her office.  These two photos came from scenes in her office, and speak volumes about someone like Connie:  The humorous plaque and collection of coffee mugs and water bottles made me        admire her even more. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011



"Some people are just about as happy as they've made up their minds to be."  

"I think therefore I am"

Last evening, thanks to the San Luis Obispo Film International Film Festival board, we were able to get a look at the new Tom Shadyac film, "Happy".  The entire evening was inspiring as these board members, who work all year to bring an amazing week of films and creative experiences to the Central Coast, were honoring their volunteers with food, wine, and a great new film.  "Cheerful servant" was the attitude of the evening even before this moving film.

 The messages in the film and the mood of the people was of community, serving, looking outside of ourselves and finding great happiness and contentment directly from that experience as well as literally "making their minds up to be Happy"...

Times are challenging for many and sometimes the steps forward seem to slide or get derailed, but looking ahead to Thanksgiving, it is a good reminder of the little things that really are the BIG things that are not to be taken for granted...  Hoping the spirit of happiness finds its way to everyone today and everyday.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Those who say "It can't be done" should get out of the way of those who are doing it.
from Words to Live By

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Solved Mysteries: Pumpkin Crime at the Beach

Fall truly has its charm. The shadows, the colors, the warm then crisp air... Even on the Central Coast of California there are signs of fall.  The sun sinks a little lower and seems to play with the incoming clouds that are absent most of the summer...

 In our neighborhood, pumpkins of all shapes and colors have made their homes on porches and fences to announce and celebrate Halloween and Harvest!

Recently, there was an incident of pumpkin theft that, fortunately, was resolved quickly.  Our local chapel,  was the site of a lovely fall wedding, and as the crew arrived to decorate that morning, they found all of their pumpkins, about 5 dozen various sized, kinds and colors... some hand painted... were not where they left them...They had been stolen in the night.

This was so sad as the idea of harvest decorations for their wedding was so heart warming!  Within minutes, a neighbor drove by and mentioned that they saw a huge collection of pumpkins had appeared in a yard just a few blocks over... Sure enough, the dozens of pumpkins were identified as the ones stolen from the bride!   After a knock on the door and a bit of confrontation with the very embarrassed culprit,  they collected them all and brought them back to the chapel within time to happily fill the grounds with the atmosphere of thanks and harvest.  A happy ending and great story for the grandkids someday!

Beauty for Dinner?

 I have always claimed to prefer doing something outdoors and active rather than being in the kitchen.  Cooking has never been something I would boast about, although I do enjoy good food... However, as I began to prepare our family's favorite chili, something struck me that I had not noticed in such a long time.  It was the absolute, natural beauty of the fruit and vegetables in the morning sun on the cutting board.  The colors were so vivid, and variety was miraculous. Everything about this scene struck me with amazement.  God sure knows what he is doing and must have a really good time doing it.

As all of the ingredients were finally added and the flavors and scents grew, the timing was perfect as David and Sterling arrived from the Bay area, several days of surfing and filming. Tired and hungry... That great smell of cooking in the kitchen to sooth and revive the weary traveler.

Glad I know how to make a few things, besides breakfast for dinner.  I admire friends who can really get creative and passionate about cooking... at least for a few minutes I think I understood.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


The last week has been full of new friends and great rest, followed by a  fun reception and signing at the Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas.  Texas had finally found relief from extreme heat and drought last weekend, as friend, Anita, and I headed to Laity Lodge in … TX.  I had just commented on how “flat” this area of the “Hill Country” was  when our Suburban started heading down, down, down into a long and vast river canyon which revealed a hidden and incredible beauty. 

After driving IN the river for a ways, the road ended at the grounds of the lodge and our home for the next three days.  During those days we had the opportunities to attend presentaions by Diana Schick, enjoy amazing meals, rest, and spend a lot of time outdoors enjoying the natural beauty of this canyon. 
It was impressed upon us that the name “Frio" River meant freezing river, however, the two of us did decide to brave the water.  Anita and I were delighted to find it to be very mild and comfortable, in fact glorious. It was so clear we could see the huge and happy catfish and water turtles swimming throughout.  We donned goggles or snorkel and mask to get an up close look!   Kayaking was amazing and so peaceful on this lazy, late summer river.  Feeling fearless, Anita and I went above and beyond and took the big plunge.  Up river the canyon narrows and creates an abyss where the water is extraordinarily deep and dark blue.  It is appropriately called the BLUE HOLE.  After our short hike there, we watched a few college students  jump from the rocks into the depths and come up screaming and laughing.   Finding this irresistible, we , too, jumped… not from quite the same height as the young folk, but high enough for us to be totally proud of ourselves. We really felt so blessed to be having so much fun! 

This was a great highlight after starting out day with getting lost and three miles out of our way on a hike.  the hike had been one funny episode after another as we were trying to find directions back.  At one turn we even ran into a group of hunters gutting a hanging hog.   They had no answers for us, and we wandered until we were finally picked up by ‘Camper John” who drove us back to our lodge.

photo courtesy of Laity Lodge website
The weekend ended and as we drove out of the canyon.  I imagined what a miraculous and awesome experience it must have been for early travelers or explorers who discovered and settled along such hidden treasures.  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Signs of the Season

The signs of season change and harvest are here even on the California coast.  The shadows are longer, the air is warm, but fresh, and pumpkins are nestled into position on the front step.  The signals of quieter seasons and holidays are beginning to appear! Happy Fall!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Flipping through a 35 year old journal, memories of adventures and travels are easy to relive.  The old coasters, tickets, stickers, letters and postcards.... the daily writing and sketching are reminders of not only the actual events, but that season of life, mid college hopes and dreams and ambition.
It is heartwarming to read the quotes that were written or pasted on the pages so long ago, that were the inspiration for that time. They are indeed - Timeless - meaning as much  today as they did.

For today, enjoy these anonymous quotes from 1973

"When nothing holds you back except the horizon, that is called freedom."

"I have found a place to go and take things slow. A place where time can put peace in my mind."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Woman's Heart - Vicky

A woman's heart is where her passions grow. It is where her joys soar.  It is where her secrets rest. . . and wrestle.  It is where her emotions ache and her sufferings linger.  Her heart is where her hope is restored.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

So You Think You Can't Dance?

There is something about dancing that is so appealing and freeing.   Just watching other people dance is enough to inspire a smile and a joyous feeling in me.  I truly admire those who can learn a routine, or follow their partner's lead, or perform as an expression of story or feeling through music and movement.  It is entertaining, athletic, and artistic.  Sometimes I even get a bit envious, since I have a extreme lack of talent, experience and confidence in dancing.  How wonderful it must be to step out and swing, swirl and leap... tap, step and wiggle to the music?  I believe the brain must have a compartment where dance talent develops, and I must have missed out or have waited too long and now brain and limbs don't communicate fast enough to keep up, nor do the brain cells remember the steps beyond the span of minutes.  We recently participated in a flash mob which allowed us to be "anonymous" and blend into the mass, but also have dozens of dancers to follow, so that remembering the routine was not an issue.  The effort and experience were worth it, so silly and exhilarating.  We decided it did not matter how we danced but that we danced at all!  If laughter is good medicine, then dancing is its sister "energy boost" or mega vitamin!