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I sure love that he jumps with me. that he lays on the groud with me and takes my picture in the dirt, that he suggests I climb on top the jeep for my facedown and then gives me a peace sign in his reflection, that he will jump real high and play air guitar, that he is my partner in so many ways, like all the good ways. He is my motorcycle man whom I adore with my whole heart.

IMG_0534 IMG_0535 IMG_0536 IMG_0539 IMG_0544 IMG_0550 IMG_6751And if you scrolled this far you will find out….motorcycle man fixed our plumbing last night after work. He got home crawled under our house and worked on our plumbing for about two hours.  He fixed it!  We got showers last night and we could use the toilet!  He finished the job and he was so filthy dirty and as he was getting ready to take a shower he said “I wish a big tall, icy McDonald’s coke would be sitting right there on the counter when I get out of the shower, just sounds so good right now”  That’s all he had to express, his true desire for a bubbly coke and lets face it, McDonald’s in my book is terrible however they have the best soda’s on the planet.  So when I got back from McDonald’s, this is what I saw…..and he swears this spray paint will peel right off.

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Unexpected Enchantment

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When I read words like simple, and good old days, delight and wonder I knew it was time to pull Raggedy Ann from the top shelf of my closet.  You will see in the photographs below that she was well-loved by me.  I have had her since I was born.  My great-aunt Oletha had Raggedy Ann and Andy both hand-made for me by a friend of hers.  I only have Raggedy Ann left though because I was told by my mom that I left Andy up north on one of my summer visits to see my birth father.  I feel so grateful that my mom kept her for me, that she thought to give her back to me when I got married.  I could never part with her.  She is special to me although not on display anyplace in my house.  She just stays up on the top shelf of my closet.  I will never wash her either, the suck marks on her little mitten hands were made by me.  Instead of being attached to a blanket or my own thumb, I was attached to Raggedy Ann’s mitten hands which I sucked for comfort.  I felt she was more than worthy to be photographed and shared.  And of course I’m wondering what Christina will come up with, what did she feel was special to her and worthy to be shared and photographed? IMG_0424 IMG_0425 IMG_0427 IMG_0429

words . details

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what would a self-portrait class be without a self-portrait.

Before I get to the meat of things.  Which will take much thought and careful consideration.  I want to share what is always dear to me.  I find beauty in the details.  In the little tiny small details that surround me.  One of my most favorite things to do is to slow down.  To look around with intention.  To take in the blessings that have been showered upon us.  They are everywhere and often get missed.  Not on purpose but sometimes people and this means me too get busy and they just don’t notice.  I like to take deep breaths, inhale, exhale, touch, give honor to.  It has not always been this way.  It’s a learned behavior. (not always… because after all we are born with it)  When my babies were little I barely had time for a moment of quiet.  I missed so much.  I mean I documented their moments with video and pictures but so often I just rushed through my days, just trying to make it to the next.  Now the most amazing thing has happened and largely  due to the fact that I have  watched and learned from women wiser who have taught me to embrace to take in each moment as if it could be my last.  And it’s working for me.  It has me thankful and gratitude creates good attitude, this is true.  So below I share some details of my weekend and I send my deepest gratitude to our teachers Kristin and Meredith who put their brilliant heads together and came up with an idea called NOW YOU workshop that has touched the lives of many women now, not just touched but changed and also it has grown real live friendships.  This one single idea.   Ideas change lives, ideas should never stop happening.  You may think it’s all been done before but always always it’s worth trying because as Salvador Dali says “Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.” it is so true.  later I will share the people, the love, the relationships but now I share the details.

IMG_9523lately it’s been about the blessing of feathers, I will always smile when  they are in my path.

IMG_9520hearts have held that special spot, His calling cards

IMG_9651as I spoke to my little sister about our Aunts quick passing, I was gifted with yet another touch of love.

IMG_9657For me this place has previously only existed in movies and books

IMG_9507I could barely believe this was on my same coast

IMG_9529Even the wood pile was photo worthy

IMG_9517and the mossy streets filled with puddles

IMG_9535the  heart is always in the kitchen.  nourishing meals where made here.

IMG_9519It was gray but I found color

IMG_9531the sandy shoes left at the door caught my attention

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the gift of a notebook couldn’t be more perfect for me, I was jotting notes from the moment we got it.

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IMG_9504and again I end with my last self-portrait.  As we were taught.  PROOF…I was there and not just proof of my feet but my face that is changing with each day.

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.

 

Way up on the Hill Top what can you SEE?

Saturday afternoon was spent running a few errands, giving the front of the house a little update and then it was time to watch the sun disappear.  A good place to watch the sun hide is on top of Signal Hill in Long Beach.  We decided to invite Papa and Mama Bear because they used to know this hill top well and  long before it became a small park that overlooks Long Beach, the Pacific Ocean and even the City of Los Angeles they knew it when there were lots and lots of oil horses and not many homes.  It’s quite a beautiful view.  We took Cherry all the way down because Papa and Mama Bear had a few memories to share along the way and I also knew this area was special to my own mom since I was born not too far from here in Harbor City.  It’s almost where I came from in a very small abstract way.  We also decided to have some fun making broom flying pictures only we let it get a little too late and it wasn’t as easy to capture what we had in mind.  Motorcycle man makes a pretty great broom rider.  So bare with me.  I’m going to just share a series of pictures of our Saturday evening on top of the hill.  Papa even did a broom ride shot, only I video taped his and it included lots and lots of laugher which is really great for our souls.  I will keep that video between family but just know it was really a good chuckle.

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treasures in my day

Today is another simple share.  Images of yesterday.  Just a few that I want to share.  Things I’m thankful for questions I have.

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I sat and read a really great magazine yesterday in the early evening.  I love California’s golden sun.  I know other states share this same sun, but somehow when it sets in the West and it radiates it’s golden warm light, it seems so special from here.  Just like I often wonder does the morning sunrise seem even more special to the ones who live in the East?  I’m still watching Mad Men and I’m in the last and final season.  I noticed when they have scenes in California the light seems so warm and golden too.  Plus take a look at these legs!!!  They are looking pretty good right?  More on that later because they still itch and I still have little random attacks but nearly five years of picking will be a very difficult habit to break.  This year I feel closer to healing than prior years before and I will tell you it has nothing to do with diet.  This is all I will say until I feel like sharing more on this.

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Are these really early signs of fall?  Because I don’t remember fall in California happening in August?  So I’m left wondering.  Is this early fall or is it our cut back on watering that is making them brown and dry?  Our backyard lawn is crunchy to walk on but around the three basis of these trees is a round patch of green grass so motorcycle man is doing his best to keep them alive but why are they like this so soon? Please someone tell me it’s normal.

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I found my shadow in the garden yesterday too!! PEACE AND LOVE!!  Do you see the heart?  I was so excited when I saw my shadow held a heart.

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This plant or tree or bush? Well I’m not sure what it is exactly.  I will tell you the birds planted it.  It’s what I like to say when things spring up in my garden that I didn’t plant.  this is one of those things.  I let it bloom where it was planted so to speak and as the saying goes.  Now I’m wondering if it may be a tree?  The twigs coming from the ground are very woodsy.  I thought it was a berry at first but  I have not seen any signs of berries yet?  Does anyone out there know what this could be?

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Be still my heart!  Isn’t this gorgeous.  I sat in this light and read and I could feel it on my skin and it was around 6:00 or so and it felt so nice with the occasional breeze.  I’m practicing shooting on manual.  I make so many mistakes but I’m practicing.

IMG_7857And this is where you may find me a little strange.  It’s my jar of dead things found.  The bottom layer is sea glass and somehow the Japanese Beetles began to be tossed in this jar because they are so very pretty so when I would find them dead on the ground I began to collect them.  My sister came one summer and made a song about “Dead Beetles in a Jar”  I can hear her singing it now!  Then I was watching a mama humming-bird build and tend to her nest and it was so exciting until the day I found her dead just beneath it:(  So we picked up her body and it was Dylan I think who added her to the jar.  I see a yellow and black bee in there, I have no idea how that got there, And that round brown bit is the humming-bird nest.  Then we have the lizards tail that Garfunkel gifted us and a tiny, very tiny lizard body also lay in this mix.  I promise I’m not a weirdo I just find them so beautiful and it also reminds me of the fleeting. The every so fleeting life we live.

IMG_7866And this here is one of those not so technicality perfect shots and again I had it on manual so it was hard to capture it perfectly right as it was happening live and fast in front of me, see second born there is a little blurry, I’m thinking his new name may be music boy since he practices playing his new guitar every single day or should we go with Moon Rebel since he broke into the moon gang.  And again he is a lefty who plays like a righty and as far as I know it’s the ONLY thing he does with his right hand.   His brother there to the left asked the question “How did Dylan get so good at playing the guitar all of a sudden?”  Well, he practices each day. The older boy seems to have a natural fit for the drums.    Here Dylan was showing Austin a new tune he learned.  Austin wanted to know how so they sat together for a while.  It’s rare these days to see that oldest boy here in our house while we are still awake.  He leaves early and comes home late. All pretty normal I suppose for a 19 year old.

 

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

IMG_8601And kids sat on the porch and ate popsicles

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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.

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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Opposites attract so true and they work, they really do. How motorcycle man and I are different?

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He actually loves adventure. Me, I love the “idea” of adventure. I feel much safer on the ground and not going fast. I think he was built for speed.   I should have known on one of our first adventures as teens when he took me dirt bike riding, he said climb on. I held on for dear life! I have always trusted him with my life though, so much so I let him hold me over the side of Huntington Beach pier. He wanted to, so I let him.

rich motorI would say in our home, he is the neat one. Me not so much. He will say “maybe you could wash your coffee mugs out when you’re done, I mean I know the other day the coffee stain made you a cool heart but really, it’s easy to just rinse your mug out” I will say “I will try” and the next day he will pick up my mug and give me the look and I will say “opps, I forgot, I will try harder next time” He will say, “maybe we should simplify” “Let’s conquer this cupboard today” and me, my heart starts pounding fast. “I don’t want to get rid of that!” However sometimes he is very convincing and being a man of action he will just begin, then I join and often I feel so much better when we are done.

photophoto (10)He loves the beauty of the morning sun. He will wake before me and start the coffee. He turns on his news and has his ritual. While I stay in bed as long as I possibly can. Again on the rare occasions he can rouse me up, I have enjoyed the most peaceful mornings at his side. Sometimes on vacation he will ask me to rise early with him at least once, where we will walk in the quiet and watch the sun rise. I’m always glad I set my rest aside to see the wonders he sees.

marathon(he even got me up REAL early to do the L.A. Marathon 3x’s!)

I like things a bit wonky and off center and this in the beginning sort of caused some confusion. I would walk by and move a photo on the book stand at an angle and the next time I walked by it would be all straightened out. I like furniture most always at an angle and he likes things nice and symmetrical.

IMG_6664We meet each other half way.  I ride on his bike so we can go on photo adventures together.

la2shooting each otherI remember our first townhouse had a little gate that we had to go through to get to our patio and front door. I would often forget to latch the gate.” I remember he would say, “It’s not that hard to just latch the gate. It made me wonder how I could miss something so simple. I think it’s because my head is in the clouds so much of the time. I so admire his eye and hand for detail. I wish I automatically could be that way. He likes to say “but it’s common sense” I will say, “no, it’s your common sense not mine”

oppositesI love how he can pick up his guitar and just play music by ear and he makes it looks so simple the music thing. While I can’t even sing or hold any kind of tune. We will be listening to music and he will say “you have this air guitar solo” and I will say “um, I don’t even know how to play the guitar by air!” When I try he laughs because it’s usually so very wrong. Then I laugh too. It gets us into a nice chuckle.

IMG_4086He likes to be funny in the morning. He will dance and do such silly things. While me I just stare at him without even cracking a smile, it’s more like I’m so tired I don’t seem to actually notice his antics. Then he will say “Okay I’ll stop now, feeling a little ridiculous” it’s at that point I will bust out in laughter.

beard richI see this post is getting so long but my point is. We are opposites in nearly every single way and I wouldn’t have it any other way. He makes my life so much more fun than I would have it, if it were just me. He is the adventure, he is the music, he is the fun, he has good practical sense and he is a good speller, he is keen on detail and likes things clean, and he is so handsome too and his butt, it’s rock hard (hee hee like the statue of David) He gives me such good love and attention. I feel so well taken care of when I’m with him. He is my balance. I’m thankful for motorcycle man. He is the perfect match for me. I wonder how I made out so well.   I never want to take him for granted. I want to grow old with him. I have plans, like dinner in the blue hair hour, and long walks around the pond.

I love how we have three pictures in front of Mama’s front window on her love seat(s)

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