Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Going to the Chapel a "Piece of Peace"

Hot Pink Crystals were the project of the morning, as Suzanne came over to help paint the hundreds of dots and drops, catching drips along the way.  The combination of hot pink, black and metallic gold keeps the work fun, and doing it with a friend makes it go fast and even more fun.
Promptly at 11:20, we stowed our tools and supplies and went separate ways: Suz,  to  her appointment and me, to our chapel by the sea, La Perla del Mar.
We have been hosting a delightful stained glass window exhibit for almost three weeks.  Jim Cain of Los Osos had a reception and show of his inspired art work.  He has come during the lunch hour gallery time, however this week, because of a family crisis, I took his place.  I am thankful when I can find a block of time to sit in that precious space.  It is so intimate, quiet and spirit filled.  The walls, the floor, the rafters hold a wealth of stories of people who have filled it over the last seven decades. This is a place that encourages stillness, calm and peace, especially good for someone like me who has a hard time sitting down during a day.

As I waited for gallery visitors, I worked on prayer quilts for Saint John's Lutheran Church, stitching in yarn ties.  The rhythm of stitching was pleasantly interrupted as and occasional visitor walked into the chapel with wide eyed appreciation of the church and the beauty of the windows.  Jims' colored glass panes invited rich colors of light onto the wood floor and through the room, which captivated their audience.
I felt so much gratitude for the place and time of sitting today in our little chapel, during the final days of Jim's stained glass exhibit... That little chapel remains standing just for that:   "Piece of Peace"  waiting with a welcome.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bling Blog Madonna! Well La De Da!!!

Just a fun note as the Remnants of the Past  chandelier panels progress.  They are coming to life!  Once the black silhouettes are painted onto the metallic gold fence panels, we will add hundreds of raspberry pink crystals dripping all over for the Madonna Inn effect! Thank you Judy for inviting us to do a signing at this popular events! We are thrilled to bring our second edition HARD cover!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Books Blogs and Baby!

It is a big week for my dear friend and photographer, Terilee, and her husband Ryan.  Their first baby is due any day, and I know they are so ready.  I am so excited for this young and very grounded couple who have many, many friends, have traveled extensively, contributed to their church and community and are each other's best friend.  I am so thrilled that Terilee has been able to do the photo shoots for REAL, as well as many for our La Perla del Mar Chapel and family.  Her talent is so much a part of her. However, I know that as the new little one captivates her and Ryan's complete love, when Terilee decides to pick up her camera, it will be as if she never put it down!  Wishing this young family the very best always!  Blessed birth and life with baby!  Check out Terilee and Ryan's pre baby photos at

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Nothing unusual about today. . . a hundred things going at one time.  

Honestly, as Jackie and I merrily worked on the giant musical notes for the hospital gala, we paused to remind ourselves of a favorite quote:  "If you want to get a job done, ask a busy woman."

Looking around this yard, I don't think there is much I need to add to that.   Yup, this is part of my backyard.  Grand Central Station! 

Our best to French Hospital and their efforts and mission!  Hope the gala is a huge success! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

One Woman's Kindness Hits It Out of the Ballpark!

Amazing efforts by an amazing lady..... The founder of a relatively new project, Lisa Rosemarie Ray has been fearlessly and tirelessly embracing the tremendous support and growth of her hugely successful nonprofit organization, Lisa Ray's Donation Group.  Only a few years in development, she started out as a mom who saw the need of other children and started collecting items needed for others in her own community.  Over the years, the needs have continued and her request for donations blossomed.  She receives mountains of bags and boxes in her driveway everyday.  Over time she has recruited dozens of volunteers to help with the sorting, sizing, packing and giving of all of the things she receives.  I have had the honor of working with her and hope to do more.  The experience of the energy and focus of this effort is very powerful.  It is very humbling to realize how great the needs are right in our own back yard.  It is very humbling to see people step up to the call for donations of items and of time.  Additionally, it takes a very motivated, approachable, sincere individual ( or an army!) to pull of it together and on time, especially during holidays and special school dates. As our school district just began for the new school year, Lisa and her organization gathered, packed and delivered clothing, school items and more to over 170 children this week.  Watching the activity posted on Facebook it looks like she never stops.... and moreover, Lisa is always, ALWAYS   grateful and humble.  A remarkable woman with a remarkable vision.   Congratulations  to you Lisa on this great success.  The families your serve are lucky to have you and so are the families that you inspire to give and to volunteer.

Sacred Ground and Chocolate

How often does one get to write about God and chocolate in one brief statement?
God knows what He is doing.
I love the Old Mission Santa Barbara.  As a child it was so regal, almost glamorous compared to its sister in our town of Lompoc, the Mission La Purisima.  As I learned to appreciate the history and "grand design" of the missions, I realized they possess a deeper common thread of beauty, and each has its own character that defines it and its purpose.  None is better than another, in fact, the Mission Santa Barbara has allowed me to love La Purisima, and the other missions even more... it has revealed the uniqueness of each.
I cannot imagine a more amazing place for REAL to have its first public display for sale than the Santa Barbara Missions Retreat Center and Gift shop.  This has been an honor.  Thank you to Sister Susan and the gift shop for their affirmation and support!
Tonight we realize our second  invitation to display REAL for sale is at another heavenly and sacred place.  Eve at Sweet Earth Chocolates in San Luis Obispo set the books  on display to our delight!  Sweet Earth has mission projects of their own,  their chocolate is out of this world!  Fair Trade and organic and perfection!  Check them out at:       Teryl and I had a marbled chocolate tulip with white and dark chocolate, raspberries and sauce!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Beyond "The Bard or the Yard"

Saturday in the village ended with a most extraordinary experience.  I was excited to attend a performance of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" at an innovative new venue: The SPOT.  I have loved the Studio Theater and Dance (Studio of Performing Arts) building there since our daughters learned to sing and dance in Annie, Grease, and more.  For years I helped with set design, building and painting. In fact the front door of the SPOT with all of its color, is one of my designs.  Terilee was one of the people who helped to paint it.

Times are changing and this vintage building, (once a dairy and then hardware store) is now redesigned to serve the classes of students and performances more effecively.  Under the direction of Jake McGuire and Shannon Lowrie,  The dance studio is in the back and stage (the SPOT) up front.  Jake has kept the old warehouse character and added high tech sound, lighting, comfy old school theater seating for 50 and finished off the space with a giant, crumbling medieval castle wall in the back.  They have offered a variety of entertainment with movies, dance shows, concerts and theater.

This particular weekend's show was presented by PoeticJusticeProject. I had seen a performance that was produced through the efforts of PJP Director/founder Debbie Tobola  and director Bruce Wall of LSW Prison Project called "Rounding Shakespeare" at CMC here in our area.  Debbie's proposal to offer inmates a choice between "the Bard or the Yard".  I was excited to see this next stage of her vision.


The production (under direction of Jake McGuire) was profound in its straight forward performances, simple sets.  It was genuinely a team effort and, of course, it was Steinbeck.   There were many questions after the performance as they provided a Q and A time.  It was moving to see how grateful these actors were to have this opportunity to be involved. It was not about being a star, not about showing off talent, or just entertaining.  They are truly giving back to community and to society, giving back  and being equal parts of an effort that would not have been the same without them.  They talked about the difficulties and challenges of transitioning from  incarceration to society.  They shared how art transcends differences between people, and the courage, the encouragement and confidence they gained from their involvement in the Poetic Justice Project.  I commend Debbie, Jake, the sponsors of these efforts and of course the cast and crew who are making a change that benefits themselves, their families, and for this weekend, our community.  We are enriched by this experience. Thank you! 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ready Set GOLD!

Thanks to Judy Watkins and Remnants of the Past Fall 2011, I am back at creating sets!  Her idea was to create 9 large panels (8'x4') in glittering gold metallic, double sided that will hang from the ceiling of the Madonna Inn Expo Center during the weekend long event.  A total of 18 chandeliers, each covered with hundreds of hot pink  crystals will be painted, one on each side of the 9 panels.  Really a fun idea. Laura came out to paint today and we were delighted to finish the priming and finally get to test the "pharoah gold" color! The photo does not reflect the glimmer, but it is going to be Fabulous!  Good to get our hands dirty, a little bit of sun, and take our tea breaks after each coat of paint.  I am honored to be contributing to Judy's mission.  She and "Remnants" benefit the SLO Women's Shelter from the success of the show, and it is more and more successful every year! Congratulations Judy!  And best wishes to all who participate in this fall's event!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bless the Beasts

The routine of regular morning walks brings with it a sense of comfort, motivation, anticipation and familiarity.  Even though the routes are always routine, it is never boring. In fact, if we miss a day, it is like not having that first cup of coffee in the morning.
One of our routes is through the village of Arroyo Grande which is featured in several places in our book, REAL, especially in the chapter of Life about Jim and Garin.  In an area along the creek, by the swinging bridge, behind a row of businesses, we always greet the dozens of roosters who enjoy the serenity of the creekside.  Lately we noticed a rabbit, which was a surprise, as it was a domestic rabbit.  In the next few days, we timed our walks a bit differently and found that there are more animals than we ever knew living in the creek area right down town, cats, rabbits, roosters and who knows what else. These animals are mostly those who, sadly, have been abandoned by their owners.  They all come out of hiding and when they hearthe call of some wonderful volunteers.  It was a surprise to me and Candy, my walking buddy, that there are a handful of people who come to feed these animals.  We thanked another woman this morning as she scooped some food out from her truck and greeted the happy critters who flocked to her feet.  It was a warm and cheerful thing to witness, even though they were unwanted, they were getting love and food.  They responded to her chatting and gentleness.  So far, it does not appear to be out of hand, and it seems to be something the volunteers look forward to doing in the morning.  However, we were hoping that it does not give more people the invitation to cast their animals out in hopes that they will be cared for.  This is a lucky bunch, which seems to have a safe balance and have found caring hands and hearts.  Thank you volunteers. Thank you to all who love and cherish, and want to keep their furry, feathered, scaly family members.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Denmark, Neverland, Wine, Lavender, and Horses, and Liberty in Three Hours

The Statue of Liberty, a lavender farm, miniature horses, swedish clogs, danish pastry, split pea soup and Christmas all in a half day!   My old (20 years) brown clogs had finally fallen apart and it was time to either order them online, or make an event out of it.  We decided that latter.  My 90 year old mom has been house bound with a knee fracture for 8 weeks, soon to walk again, and she thought it would be fun to take the ride to Solvang to get the new pair of clogs.   Solvang in itself is eternally charming, with its extraordinarily beautiful Santa Ynez Valley wine country location, Danish architecture, shops and food, and horse ranches. Realizing she would really not get out of the car once she was in it, we planned to take in the lessor known treats in the area.   Going south from Cal 101 we exited toward Los Olivos and then turned left onto Figueroa Mt Rd.  Our friend , Laura, was along and had been hoping to see Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch someday.  After taking some photos at the gate, we drove back through Los Olivos and turned off toward a most wonderful Lavender farm.  The aroma is heavenly, the grounds are heavenly and so pristine.  They do have a sense of humor there with the landmark Statue of Liberty front and center!   It turns out that she is the prop used in one of the Ghostbusters movies.  Time to move on, next was a visit to Quicksilver miniature horse ranch.  It is easy to park next to the fence and see them up close, so for my mom it was perfect.  Tiny new babies were with their mothers on one end, and soooo cute! After five minutes, we moved on to Solvang, clog shopping and pastries.  Just a quick stop, we headed west past the Ostrich Farm to Buellton to Andersen's where we all ordered the all-you -can-eat pea soup and browse the Christmas Shop!   This was a speed tour/shopping day, in a place where you can see a lot in  few miles and limited time!  It was great to see Eileen have such an ambitious and entertaining outing.  We were all reminded of how lucky we are to live in this part of California.

Living in Full Color

This last weekend, I had the pleasure of visiting the home of artist, Chet Hill.  I was so excited to tell him that we at La Perla del Mar Chapel in Shell Beach were contacted by someone interested in purchasing one of his paintings of the chapel for a soon to be married couple.  At age 92, with a few physical ailments, I wondered if he might still be able to produce another one of his colorful pieces.  Fortunately, he had not done only one painting, and we were happy to know the customer would be satisfied in any case.

Just walking through the front door, I was immediately reminded of the fullness of life, the color and brilliance, the thoughtfulness that he puts into his work.  It is hard to believe that this man has had extremely limited vision for several years, and yet maybe that is what makes his work so special.  I continue to be inspired by his wit and memory.  I find it hard to imagine that his ability to be so productive and creative is anything less than extraordinary.  He is exemplary of Erma Bombeck's quote:  "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would have not a single bit of talent left.  That I could say, 'I used everything you gave me.'"

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Saying "No" to Ticks and Wondering While Wondering

Bless the generous owners of the beautiful ranchland around the morros of San Luis Obispo County. As Hurley and I hiked this morning on the Johnson Trail, I  occasionally swerved away from some of the brush and wild flowers growing wildly over the trail sides.  "Ticks, Hurley, watch out for ticks... ", I thought.  As I did, the immediate feeling I got is of dread, as I have personally known people who have suffered from terrible Lyme Disease - Truly No Joke - a tragic, life long infection to have.   Then in after a moment that fear turns to gratitude and praise for the great fortune to having a trail to walk upon, the open space to explore.   I don't want the fear of ticks or disease to deter me.  In, fact, having these extraordinary places to hike is priceless and an incredible act of generosity by the families who own the land.  Thank you Thank you to those families, who entrust the public to hike on their property, treat it and the animals with respect and leave it nicer than when we found it.  Additionally, as I hiked along, I realized the freedom and beauty of these great outdoor areas is "walkable and passable" because of a handful of people, the trailworkers.  I wondered who they are and how brave they must be to  face the ticks.  How dusty and sweaty they must get by the end of a day, but how happy knowing the great deed they have done.  I was so grateful for these people who volunteer, spend their free time, along the paths cutting back the excess brush.  They make the way clear for the hundreds of us who walk right on in through the trail head marker, feeling like we are coming home... almost like it belongs to US!  Thank you to all of them!
As Hurley and I turned the last bend to come into view of civilization: the parking lot,  there was a group of five people putting up a sign.  I wondered if it was like our recent posting at our beach..." Shark Warning" but instead "Wild Pig Warning".  Not at all.... the sign said "Trail Work Day"
inviting others to join in.  I told them how much I had thought about the wonderful work they do and how all of us hikers should be singing their praises.   They shyly allowed me to take their photo.
Nice answer to wondering while I wandered.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

You Want to Make God Laugh?

Life gets so busy, and time can pass so quickly.   It sometimes feels like high speed on the freeway in traffic... We can get so frustrated at delays, detours, and jams on the road.  We can get impatient with slow lines in the market, malfunctions at the car wash,  complex and long transactions in the bank drive through.
Years ago, I got a notion to try to curb my temper during these kinks in "MY" day.  Instead of getting angry or disgusted, I started praying during the wait time.  I would pray for friends or family in need, pray for patience :),  pray for our country, for the drivers around me that they too would be able to remain calm and find something good in their day. I would pray that there must be some blessing in the delay and that I might see it, and if I did not see it, that I could just trust that there was.

That is the good part.  When we can be surprised at how our day might change from what we wanted it to be , from what our plan was, and that it became something far more significant or meaningful.   That we really needed to be right where we were at that time and at the end of the day, it is all right.  And truly, truly, God wants to be right there with us, hearing and seeing His hand on all things, all the time.

My dear friend, Suzanne, has a birthday today.  Happy Birthday Suz!  Years ago, she gave me that refreshing perspective: "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans for the day:".

I continue make a plan, fill my calendar,  check things off the to do list, but am becoming more comfortable with those things that get in the way of my plans and add richness to the day.  Life is full of surprises.  I wish your day to be a day that is like no one else's day!