spring and remembering

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I have not had a chance to look into making my blog a dot.org  but in the meantime.  I had a productive spring weekend.  What happened?

I painted a bookcase yellow

A chocolate cake was baked

We found the sweet blue eggs that are waiting to hatch

I planted the wild flowers for Aunt Louise

The yard was mowed

Good food was eaten

A little Laundry was done

Motorcycle man got a ride or two in

The jeep was smogged and tags paid

We listened

We prayed

We lived another day

And this week I hope to share with you, or anyone who cares to see… how the bookcase is coming along.  Totally free, completely useful and motorcycle man said “you made it look pretty” and that made me happy.

Here is my Sunday video.  A little slow and melancholy because it was dedicated to my great Aunt who left us in the fall and today we planted her wild flowers in hopes that they will bloom.  The secret word for my video…..is…..      love

In art there is healing

Ecclesiastes 3

   There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

     a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
     a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
     a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
     a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
     a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

When death happens I think of this scripture because it’s so true about having a time for everything.  This weekend was a time to build, laugh, embrace…but in having that honor…. death arrived.  And before I can talk about the happenings of our weekend I find it in my heart today to first honor my beautiful and beloved Aunt.  She is my mom’s Aunt actually, a great-aunt to me.  The last living person in  my grandpa’s generation.  She was my grandpa’s sister.  There were four children to the hard-working couple who came here from Oklahoma in hopes of a better life and to escape the dust bowl.  I just spoke of them last week in fact.  I included this image of my family history.  The sweet little girl is my Aunt.

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There was first a little girl who passed when she was just three, then there was my Aunt Louise and her real name was Berttie Louise (pronounced Birdy) She didn’t like her first given name so we all knew her as Aunt Louise. Then there was my grandpa, his name was Gerald but he went by Sandy because their last name was Sanders, then the last to be born another boy, Ronald, who went by Ron.  And my Aunt she was beautiful like a movie star.   Even in her aging she was beautiful to me.  She left us on Saturday.  She crossed over at 3:30 in the morning and I like how there are two three’s in her passing.  She was in pain, she went quickly and I’m thankful for that only I never said good-bye.  I was supposed to see her upon my return from Oregon.  I didn’t want to cancel my trip because it was a monumental trip.  A trip for growth, a trip I had to do.  I had to be brave.  And in making that choice I missed her passing and I missed my good bye.  Mourning was even addressed on our weekend trip and how it’s important to mourn.  Her viewing is this Friday, her service will be graveside Saturday.  My first cry was with Cinnamon at the top of the hill in a public restroom.  I shared with her quickly of the news.  I shared with her my confusion on how I should be, what I should feel? In that quick span of time I managed to also share how when I turned 40 it was supposed to be the best birthday of my life so far, how we had big plans to go away and my grandpa was sick again from cancer and without hesitation,  I cancelled our plans to go away so I could spend each weekend with him until his passing. It was the best decision I could have made.  I had one final conversation with him where we shared deep secrets and special thoughts with one another before he got really bad and it was on the exact weekend I was supposed to go away.  He wanted me to go.  He wanted me to enjoy my celebration but in this particular case I could not.  It was a May 3rd 2010, my 40th birthday when I got a phone call after work that he wasn’t doing well and may not make it through the night.  I left.  I just dropped everything and I left to be with him.  I wanted to be there when he took his last breath.  And I was able to hold his hand, gently talk to him, to just sit, to be near him as he took his breaths and got closer to death. It took him three days to let go. And during that time we held on tight, we stayed close.  I will never forgot my 40th birthday  it will forever be associated with his passing.  He left me roses and a hat, and plenty of memories. When I see an egret I think of him. I saw an unusual amount of them after his passing.  One on my rooftop in fact which was a first and so far a last.   I will never forgot and I mourned properly.

But now, now I was away and I wasn’t sure.  So it went like this, one moment in the bathroom with Cinnamon where I shared my heart quickly and I began to cry and she embraced me.  And right there at the top of the hill in that public restroom I had a moment.  And now I will never forget my monumental trip, the one I took alone when Aunt Louise left us.

So today I just want to honor and respect her with a few images from a few years back.  My mom and I with littlest and only girl went to help her clean her house.  She always kept a very tidy and clean house and in her older age and deteriorating health she couldn’t clean like she used to.  So we cleaned for her.  We polished her salt and pepper shaker collection, we washed windows and sorted through old mail.  But we also just sat and visited and for me, I had my camera with me.  I document the details, the moments so that’s what I did 5 years ago when we helped her clean her house.  And I saw her a few times after this and sadly in the busy life of being a working mom, I didn’t see her as much as I could have.  She didn’t live too incredibly far away.  And to be honest I feel not so good about that part.  Why does death do that to us?  I should learn from this.  I should learn.

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Here are the images from that day.  Not all the images but the ones I find special.  She didn’t want me to take her photo because she didn’t think she was beautiful any more but trust me she was.  And I just had to respect her wishes so the two photo’s I have are from the back.  One my little girl took for me.  I asked little Abbie to go behind us and click a picture.  I wanted a picture where I was next to her without her getting upset that her image was being taken.

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And I realize now in art there is healing.  I also had my camera with me in my grandpa’s passing.  I photographed his hand in my sisters, I photographed the roses in his garden, the ones we gathered to place by his bed, the guardian angel coin, the times my mom stood next to him and put cool cloths on his head.  I photographed it all, even the clock and the rocks, and the sky.  I had to.  It helped. So at least I have learned in art there is healing.  

The big walnut tree

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I know quite a lot of people who hate walnuts! They are probably not my favorite nut but I do happen to know they are very good for us.   Good for the brain I have been told. But walnuts are more than a really healthy nut to me. They are memories.

When I was just a little girl with absolutely no worries at all and bathed in unconditional love I would frequently visit my great grandparents on my mom’s side. They came from poverty and migrated here during the dust bowl in hopes of a better life. It was so hard for them, but they were hard working and determined people and they settled in California up north in a farming town. They had a really beautiful big walnut tree in the middle of their yard. When I was little it seemed enormous and the yard seemed sprawling. I’m not sure how many of you have visited Northern California, more inland where the farming country is but the soil smells sweet and I remember this sweet smell of the soil. Grandpa had hung a swing in that grand tree and I often would sit on the swing and dangle my little childhood feet having endless conversations with myself because I was born first to my mom and my little sister didn’t come until 11 years later. And although my mom remarried and I gained a brother who was 6 years older than me, I was mostly an only child for quite some time. So I was completely content being alone on the swing under the big beautiful walnut tree talking to myself.

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This is a real photo of my great grandparents with two of their children, I think that’s my grandpa there, the boy and the little girl is my Aunt Louise

I remember their back garden where in the far back grandpa would burn their trash every so often and it was such a treat to stand next to grandpa in his old hat and trousers as we watched the trash burn together. He was a quiet man, very quiet but I loved him so dearly because he would let me comb his hair while he watched t.v. and we would walk to the corner store together, he with his hat, hand in hand walking down the dirt path. He would quietly tell me I could pick out a toy or treat every time we went. I cherished those little trinkets so very much. I specifically remember two of the toys very much.  One was a tiny little Asian doll and the other was a small tea set.

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This is NOT a walnut tree but just some trees, pictures were limited this post but my posts always must includes pictures

At night when we would get ready for bed, I slept with grandma and grandpa slept in a tiny room that was more like a passing hall with a twin bed. I remember grandma’s clock. Tick, tick, tick. I remember the smell of Vicks. I remember the sound of distant trains and the sprinklers that go tee, tee, tee, tee. So when I hear these sounds today, when I smell the Vicks. I think of them. My mind goes straight back to when times were easy, simple and free spirited.

I could go on and on and on about my good memories with great grandpa and grandma but really, the walnuts I just ate. They reminded me of this. And each time I see walnuts this is where my heart returns. I bet you have similar stories associated with sounds, smells or certain foods? And sadly I have not too many images to share because back then we didn’t take pictures of our every days we instead stored them in our heads and in our hearts.

 

Summer of Twenty Twelve

Do you remember the summer of 2012?  It seemed liked just yesterday.

Remember its the summer I insisted on taking Polaroids of every visitor we had to our home and then strung them up over our kitchen counter?

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and we sat and had our morning coffee under our newly built patio cover.

IMG_0589And we found a rain storm in the middle of August when we drove through Angeles Forest.

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We shared a bottle of wine before we watched Regina Spektor and I got to cross seeing her live in concert off my dream list.

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We rented a small cabin up the Northern Coast with all five of us and Austin gave up vegieterism for a Tito’s empanada.

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And we had the BIG pool and there were always kids having fun in it….us too!

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We took lots of trips to Seal beach so the boys could surf and I could feel the oceans healing waters as my body floated with the waves and we hung out with family there.

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We sat a top a city roof top to see a Pink Floyd laser show!

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and a far away photo friend came to visit and even stay the night with us.

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and the garden was litterally bursting at the seams

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And I went on my very first all girls glamping trip

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I’m remembering the summer of 2012 because my brother asked me to look for some pictures from the fall of 2012 when we went on a motorcycle ride with one of his friends.  That friend is not doing very well, in fact he has been released to hospice and only has days to live.  In finding a picture for my brother I was reminded again how precious this life of ours is.  We didn’t expect his friend would be dying only almost two years later. And although it seems I’m relishing in the past I also have been creating new summer memories this year.  My garden isn’t as nice, we have a smaller pool but we are still a family of five who loves each other and is still making more memories, they are just different that’s all and I will probably in another two years from now be writing and showing off pictures from the summer of 2014!  All I know is things change and children grow…REALLY FAST and people pass away, and family members get sick, shops close up and so as we live in the NOW it’s so important to document it in pictures.  Pictures bring back memories, just like songs do.  Never stop.  Even if you think your  pictures are not really great.  Some of my favorite pictures are blurry or technically not all that.  For me it’s always, always been about capturing the moment and not all moments are perfectly composed.  So keep shooting, never stop.

feather

feather

When I spy a feather

I think of many things

I think of far away friends

Delicate life

Creation

Jim Morrison

His poetry

Bird of Prey

I think of the people who have already gone before us

I think of the ocean

writing messages in the sand with the seagull’s feather

I think of grace

I think of love

I think of the dove

I think of the egret

It’s amazing how those feathers give birds flight

God is pretty awesome

Remember we have feathers too

We just have to remember to use them

They are gifts

Back from a break.  It was so nice.  It’s always hard to get back into the groove you know.  I’m working at it.

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A heartfelt thanks

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The photo above represents a big, big, gigantic thank you for all the support I received yesterday.  It blew my mind and what it really had me realizing is, all my friends and family are beyond amazing and it had me feeling beyond blessed.  Is there such a thing as beyond blessed?  Yes!  No doubt, I felt it yesterday.  This photo also is in honor and memory of my Grandpa Hoff who on this day three days after my 40th birthday left his earthly body. It’s been 4 years today and that just doesn’t seem possible.  I know you know exactly what I mean.  I still hear his laugh, I still hear his greeting and I feel it an honor when he visits me in my dreams.   He loved his roses and when I see mine in bloom, the ones he gave me to plant I always think of him.  He left me his rose memories and also the white egrets, those too.  The roses I cut today from my garden were ones he called “The Abbie Rose”  He said the color reminded him of Abbie’s skin.  (photo credit Dylan)

I want to tell you all and show you some pictures from a garden tour I went on this weekend but I took so many pictures that I will have to spend some time narrowing those down.  I can’t possibly share all 177 of them.  I will pick my favorites and tell you a little about the day later on.  In the meantime I leave you with my new favorite drink. Matcha Green Tea.  It’s a fine green tea powder that’s 10 times more potent than drinking green tea and we all know just how good green tea is for us.  I ordered it first at Starbucks and it’s not on the menu so just ask.  They only charged me 90 cents for a grande and the other day during happy hour I ordered a large for only 30 cents which is crazy talk but I think they don’t seem to have a set price on the drink yet.  It’s cheaper than plain coffee and its way better for you.

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I’m also excited about the quinoa salad I threw together yesterday.  I used red quinoa, celery, carrots, red onion, garbanzo beans, black beans and cucumber.  The dressing I made included olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, a whole lemon, and just a tiny tad of soy sauce the gluten-free kind:) I made such a big batch I was able to fill up three jars to eat as the week goes on. Cause everything is cooler in jars right?

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2013 at a glance

januaryI remember the very first day of January we spotted a hawk sitting on the fence across the street.  I was intrigued and saw two more perched in the same month, two odd spots…a tall light pole and a building top. I see them in flight lots but rarely do I spot them sitting still and grand they caught my attention for sure.  I wondered if there was meaning in the sightings?  We went on winter walks, we had a little rain we focused on our new word for the year, mine LOVE, littlest and only girl’s word was positive.

februaryFebruary always full of love!  I had my very first fancy coffee with my love and crossed one more thing off my dream list. I remember February being a month filled with walks, even with my oldest boy.  My legs I have noticed are the very best in February.  Since it will be my 5th year entering 2014, I have seen a pattern and February always gives me hope and shows promise.

marchIn March we always get giddy over the daffodils.  I fill my home with them over and over again until they stop selling them in tiny closed bunches.  This has gone on now for maybe 3 or so years.  A newer tradition.  I did a lot of reminiscing on my blog and picked up an awesome old school enlarger for only 25.00, all the trays and canisters and began dreaming of a future darkroom where I could once again develop my own film.  We played in the mud and Abbie turned another year older.

aprilIn April we began to plan for our Spring garden. The oldest became a man!  Talk about reminiscing!  We also had many of his baby videos transferred to dvd so he could finally see all the memories we had talked about.  I went on my first women’s retreat.  We paid taxes and planted a tree for each of our children.

mayMay always brings flowers! I found the most adorable shop in Fullerton and met an old friend who gave me an opportunity to show my art in her shop when the fall came.  I walked with some amazing women, survivors and brave warriors. Oh and I turned one more year older.

juneIn June our garden began to show promise. June was a very, very busy month for us.  We had our oldest graduate high school and get his very first car (the little yellow bug) our other two promoted into middle school and into high school.  We had dance recitals, school dances and  parties. Sadly my only other living grandfather passed away in this month. Yet still life goes forward and we began to get very, very excited for our summer ahead. We could taste it!

julyJuly came with lots of freedom, finding treasures, lemonade stands, mother daughter tea, a pool that literally busted at the seems, plumbing that went really wrong.  However the garden grew, hearts were spotted everywhere, we made trips to the beach and I joined a morning workout group and found some really great new friends.

augustAugust was the month we played very hard.  We took some time off and kept it local but being we are from California, keeping it local can still come with lots of fun.  We had beach trips by the handfuls, we hit up the fair, we took the kids parasailing, video arcades, ice-cream, summer hikes, sunflowers and raspberries, fancy movie theater, singing in the car and still meeting my workout buddies three times a week, very, very early in the morning. We enjoyed lots of fresh produce, we smiled a lot, our skin collected a few more freckles and sun beams.  Best of all my little sister and her two babes came back from France to live here in California once again.  Remembering August has me realizing I do love summer, lots.

septemberIn September we planted pumpkins for the fall (that didn’t fare so well) The soccer player and littlest and only girl got ready for their new schools,  I joined a book club and tried to read Jane Austen, I had my postcards made for the future art show, I experimented in wood transfers, began to watch Mad Men (basically became obsessed by it) grandpa visited me in a dream.   The soccer player turned another year older and sadly the oldest had a car crash on the very day soccer player turned one year older. Old familiar routines began to take their shape.

octoberIn October I cooked and baked a lot.  It was still relatively warm in our parts but I still yearned to make soups, cookies and pies.  Motorcycle man turned another year older, we visited Arizona for the memorial of my grandpa and saw my grandma who I had not seen in years, the boys worked on the bug, we experienced our very first Indy race courtesy of my dad who went all out on our seats, with pit passes and a meal.  Littlest and only girl tried out for her  new school cheer team and MADE IT,  Soccer player was conditioning for soccer and we were still getting comfortable with our fall routines.

november

November being the month of gratitude I had so much to be grateful for, my very first art show the very first Friday of November.  I high-lite of my year for sure.  God is so good the way he works, I’m grateful to be his child and to have the privilege to witness his every day miracles and even when things don’t seem to be going our way, God has a plan and time and time again I have seen these plans come into full bloom usually when I’m least expecting it. We sadly lost a friend and co-worker in the month of November.  We saw the most amazing rainbow in November, we celebrated our gratitude with our thanksgiving feasts and as I reflect back on the year I’m reminded that although it wasn’t always smooth sailing, we learned from the imperfect days and it had us really appreciating the really good ones.

decemberDecember is here and there are 2 days left until Christmas.  I can’t believe yet again how quickly the year flew by.  My word for 2013 was LOVE, I figured if I just loved, showed love and demonstrated love that things would feel perfectly right and they did for the most part.  Jesus walked this earth in LOVE and one reference I can give is found in Mark 12:28-31 it’s that simple.  I always think to myself if everyone just LOVED how beautiful life would be.  It’s an action word and love can transform and change, it’s just a beautiful thing.  Speaking of change, this year my word is CHANGE. I’m constantly learning and my life can use change, I can take better care of myself, my body is a gift and I often mistreat it.  It would be a good thing to strive to take better care of it.  I don’t want to list all the changes that can be made, I should just focus on one change a month as to not overwhelm myself.  I’m  good at overwhelming myself.  Maybe I should change that!  What are your plans for 2014?  Do you have a word for the year?  I would love to hear about it.