i sang my heart out ...

twice a year, for a few years now, i sing in public. these few hours have become highlights in time.

i am merely one of 100 singers. and each time, i only completely know all the music just in the nick of time for the performance. 

but when i sing for the audience, i am completely "on." it's not that i don't make mistakes, because i do, but i'm giving it all i've got. every ounce of attention and every molecule of energy focused on our maestro, the music, my voice, and the sounds encircling me. i get a little carried away by the sheer force of the sound, the power of the situation. i sing as if my one voice really mattered. i sing my heart out.

jubilate deo

gratitude project, day 2

most wednesday evenings, you'll find me singing to god. which may sound weird from someone who eschews religion. 

'god' is a tricky word. organized religion makes the word and the idea of god heavy with dogma, rules, shoulds. 

but my direct experience of god is of pure freedom. pure love. everywhere. at all times. in all people. that is what i know of god. 

so on wednesdays, i gather with 100 other voices of god to sing ancient music to god, in honor of god. and god, do we sound good

love and other bits: a valentine's day tribute


new to life. beautiful little girl betty.

middle life. beautiful grown up betty. who happened to be one of my mom's best friends. she passionately loved food and opera. stroganoff and puccini.

later in life. betty married and gave the world two boys and a girl who became my best friend sue.

yesterday sue's dear mom betty left this place for the other. 

may peace be with us all, and especially with sue and with betty. 

at times like these, it does seem that life is but a dream. a dream full of love and other bits.

ps - dear betty, please say hi to my mom for me.

not (five things) today

this is my mouth, the mouth that likes to sing, from a few happy days ago. not my mouth today, i'm afraid.

i am still sooooooo sick. the saddest part about it is that my biannual choir concert is this weekend! i survived our mandatory wednesday night choir rehearsal, just. and we have another mandatory rehearsal tonight. both of these are our first rehearsals this season with the professional orchestra and three soloists ... absolutely thrilling. 

somehow i will get all dressed up in black and pearls and sing this weekend and survive ... and thank goodness there are 109 other singers to drown out my croakey voice. you won't catch me NOT singing. ain't gonna happen. i'm there. 

but, dear reader, i am not HERE today. i am so sorry. my head is in a vice grip, my ears are in a descending airplane, and my throat is on fire. just the last few sentences a serious struggle. so. i'm climbing back into bed. forgive me.

may you have a great weekend. enjoy the holiday spirit. don't get all crazy on us!

here's a good idea ... go listen to a choral concert!


five things: technology can be very useful!

- vonage phone service. unlimited long distance in the US and to 60 countries for $26/month. i signed up this week! 

- dragon dictation app for iphone. i record into my phone, dragon translates my words into text and i can send via text or email to myself or anyone else! love this! also comes in a desktop version. 

- cool mom tech blog. making tech female-friendly.

- bose sounddock10 for ipod. sounds a-ma-zing! i'm getting one ...

- stop the commercials on your comcast DVR! this is an awesome bit of news!

five things singing

i love to sing. it feels so good and lifts me up. and singing with others? very powerful. unifying. measures of melting into oneness. 

i'm an alto though my maestro says i could be a soprano if i worked at it. but i wouldn't want to be a soprano in a million years. no, alto's the place for me with all the lovely alto ladies. we swim in earthy, rich harmonies.

1. we sing with marin oratorio, a 100+ voice choir. and we're having a concert:

2. our choir director maestro boyd jarrell rocks the house! old world and hip, learned and funny, teacher extraordinaire. shares stories of music history and theory between directing us with such high standards. when we sing, his head twitches with the music, feeling it. he urges us to look up! get our noses out of the pages, keep the rhythm above all else, and e-nun-ci-ate. with bettah diction so we pronounce our "Rs" like the english. (fortunately i spent last summer with all those english folks working on the movie, so i'm brushed up on my english accent!). and when we sing and maestro smiles, marking the rhythm with his baton, i smile inside -- can't really smile and sing at the same time (but i can certainly smize!) -- knowing we have done a great job. 

3. ok, so maybe we're not glee and don't have gwyneth guest appearing as our soloist, but we're pretty damn hot all the same. 

4.  singing is good for us. and more people are singing in choir than ever before. maybe you can join one, too.

5. in our upcoming concert, we're singing haydn's the seasons (about nature's seasons, and the seasons of life) in english, not german! it's going to be a stirring, rousing, beautiful concert. YOU SHOULD COME! email me to get tickets ... it's selling out fast. shows are december 11 at 8pm, and december 12 at 3pm. 


five things: atkins (including, they might just come to your house!)


1. my friends the atkins family are coming to the usa next summer (!!!), and touring with their film. you know, the one they made with their uber-talented family and friends last summer in france and spain ... you know, the one i worked on, too. 

2. they are calling this the "throw me a rope" US road trip, a kind of extension of their "welcome to the world" tour in europe, only this time they have a film to show!

3. they'll be entering film festivals and doing Q and As in as many cities as possible.

4. they want to show their film to YOU! they'd like to do in-home screenings or "film parties" in people's homes all over the country. and they are looking for drama/music groups, summer schools and colleges, fundraising groups, any group or organization which might want to screen 'if you ever get to heaven' for any reason. who knows, they might do some concerts, too!

5. so, if you would like to meet this warm, friendly, open, generous, interesting, and fun family ... WHY DON'T YOU CONSIDER HOSTING A SCREENING? whether you are a family or single, all you need is a tv screen and some friends. just contact manny atkins and set a date sometime next july or august and invite your friends over for a "film party"! watch the film with the atkins family, ask questions of the parents (director & producer & actor) and the children (actors & crew), have a gathering, have fun, meet new people, open your world, open your home ... to this delightful english family living in france. 

contact manny atkins at amanda@43pictures.com.

and follow them on facebook and twitter.

ps - i met this family online, after reading and commenting on their blog. we became online friends, and i ended up working on their film! and we'll be friends forever. you just never know where these connections might lead. and at the very least, you can have new friends in another part of the world! and ... i'll most definitely be hosting a screening party at my house next summer!


five things: arj and flash

 orange tights

professional funny man arj barker hails from my hometown. here he riffs ...

- as a rapper buddhist who opened his third eye on his first try

- on aussie-speak at the melbourne comedy festival where they call him arjy barjy

do you like flash mobs as much as i do? here are two flashes ...

- glee flash mob in roma

- sound of music flash mob in antwerp

and the quirky improv folks doing their thing ... 

- freeze in grand central station

happy friday!

monday memories / RTW trip: desperately seeking india

while i have my around-the-world photos out from their usual home in the garage, i think i’ll continue telling some more stories from that adventure. after the last post about nepal ... 

we flew from kathmandu to varanasi, india on feb 6. when planning our trip, india was the only place i was afraid to go. i was afraid i would be surrounded by hordes of desperate, destitute people pulling on my sleeves with outstretched hands, breaking my heart. it all happened, and more.

varanasi. holy holy. on the banks of the holy ganges river. regarded as a holy city by buddhists and jains, and the holiest place in the world by hindus (considered to be the center of earth in hindu cosmology). one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and probably the oldest of india. one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in india. you get it. OLD. HOLY.

we stayed in the heart of the old city, wanted to be in the midst of it all. thought we could handle anything after shockingly dirty, poor, mysterious kathmandu. yet varanasi was so overwhelming. all systems on overload. 

nearby were the ghats, the steps leading down to the ganges river ...  over 100 of them. some are bathing ghats, some cremation sites.  (hindus believe bathing in the ganges remits sins and that dying here ensures release of their souls.) ancient narrow labyrinth streets. teeming with people from all over india to celebrate their most important life events: to be born, get married, die, give alms. temples galore. monkeys, dogs, cows. silk merchants. maimed beggars lining the alleys to the ghats. (the best place to beg, people give for good karma.) sheer  bedlam. we witnessed it all. child wedding processions. bodies on carts being pushed by their families, going to die. burning pyres. so much assaulting the senses, we could only manage to leave our room for a couple hours at a time.

and then there was the boat ride on the ganges. with three men. lovely. until. one of the men dared to touch me where i didn’t want to be touched. i screamed at them to take us back. (this was not the only time i was touched by indian men. when asking the time, they’d brush my breasts with their arm. or, i don’t know. they did it seeming to do it by accident. but i later learned, it wasn’t by accident at all.)

after a few days, we fled to dehli. to see the taj mahal in nearby agra. we planned our day-long excursion so we could take the first class train to agra. but our taxi didn’t arrive on time. i will never forget the harrowing scenes in the pre-dawn shadows outside the train station: row after row of people sleeping on cardboard on the side of the road, hundreds if not thousands of them. by the time we got to the station, the only train we could get was second class. and my worst nightmare came true: standing room only. legless, maimed, scarred, destitute beggars – some of them children -- scooting through the car the entire two hour journey, pleading at us, tugging our sleeves, with desperate eyes. we were the only tourists dumb enough to take the second class train. and we knew if we gave anything to even one person, we’d be instantly mobbed by hordes. there was nowhere to hide.

on the train, someone told us princess diana was scheduled to be at the taj mahal that day.

disembarking the traumatic train ride, we were instantly encircled by taxi men, each wanting desperately to drive us to the taj mahal. desperation driven by survival in a land of too many people and too few resources. curt and i got separated into two throngs, each of us surrounded by pressing, pushing -- and in my case, touching -- men.

we finally extricated ourselves into a taxi with one man driving, the other guy facing backward pleading with us the entire ride to hire them as tour guides for the rest of the day for $20. we said no. they kept pleading.

we arrived at the taj mahal ... tense, frazzled, heartbroken. buying our tickets at the entrance, we learned the whole taj mahal complex would be closing in 20 minutes so that lady di could have a private viewing. 20 minutes!

curt and i were miserable, arguing, blaming each other for this nightmare of a day (and when i think that millions of people LIVE like this. my heart breaks just thinking of it). we didn’t even want to walk together. at one of the most magnificent sites on earth! built in the 1600s by a mughal in memory of his third wife, the grandest gesture of love in the whole wide world. and my love and i, we despised each other in that moment. and then, just like that, we and all the other tourists were escorted out. doors closed. thud.

nothing to do but take a walk, regroup, have lunch. curt and i reconnected. relaxed. let the tensions of the morning float away in the afternoon breeze. we returned to the great taj mahal at sunset, lady di long gone. and had the most magical, love-filled time amid the stunning architecture, details and light.

hopped the fine first class train back to dehli. took a midnight flight to bombay and promptly checked ourselves into the most luxurious hotel in the city: the taj mahal palace. broke the budget at $200/night. put it on the emergency credit card. we were now the desperate ones, in dire need of peace, calm, safety, cleanliness. (this was the one and only time we stayed in a fancy hotel on the whole trip). were going to spend only one night but couldn’t bear to leave. to leave the fluffy duvet. the spacious clean room. the luxurious bathroom! the heavy white bathrobes. THE SALAD BAR! (we hadn’t had a salad in months – my favorite food -- can’t eat salad when traveling to these places, it’s washed in local water). we didn’t leave the hotel for two days.

our spending spree came promptly to an end. sadly and with trepidation, we stowed most of our luggage at the hotel, including both of my cameras. we were heading from the ultimate in luxury to the most primitive of accommodations, on a recommendation from a fellow traveller. talk about how flexible the human spirit can be!


in the early morning hours, we embarked on a mind-numbing, 24-hr bus ride. departing the city, overlooking shanty towns for as far as i could see, men squatted by the side of the road for miles, pants down, little tin cans of water for washing beside them. (apparently, indian women go discreetly in the darkness before light.) we indian bus novices were seated right under the speaker blaring jarring indian music the entire 24 hours. it took us a few stops to figure out the bathroom/chai breaks. everyone disappeared so quickly into the roadside (indian version of a truckstop) chaos. i couldn’t find the bathroom our first two stops. the third stop, in desperation, i decided be one of the first off and follow the women to the “bathroom”. oh dear. it was really just a squatting place, kind of in an alley by the side of the building, no real facilities. about as disgusting as it gets.

we arrived in diu, a fascinating melange of india and portugese influence. we had been told to find the albino lassi man. that was all we knew. but the lassi man (lassi: that yummy drink of mango and yogurt, the indian version of a milkshake) wasn’t there. we waited in the little town square in the heat of the day for hours. as people started coming out from siesta, so, too, did the lassi man! we paid him our fee of 15 rupees (25c per person per day) for the week for a hut, a “mattress” and our cooking gear. and he pointed the way to hut number 8.

the huts rented to budget travellers sat on a bluff outside a peaceful little fishing village. all the men were away fishing. the women, children and old folks remained. what a treat to witness village life up close. our mud hut was cosy and dirty, but fun! we could use the running water in the village to wash, but it only came on sometimes. after a few days, we finally figured out it came on for a brief time with a generator pump which we could hear from our hut. so when it came on, i hurried over to the village to wash my hair.

as the mornings warmed, the biting flies woke up, too, forcing us to leave our hut by 8:30am each day. we went to the beach. in the evenings the village women and children would come around to sell us food. as i got to know some of them, one day i mustered up the courage to walk through the center of the village. there was even an englishman living in this village, an artist. it was all so dirty, so poor, so basic. but the people were lovely and warm, shy but friendly.

we had ventured from the village into the larger town one day, and the place was spectacular with run-down beauty. but i hadn’t brought my cameras! so on our last day, desperate to make pictures, i borrowed a camera from one of the other travellers in a neighboring hut. i think i gave him my passport as collateral. still, i can’t believe he lent me his camera, what trust. wow. the comraderie among travellers is astounding. there’s a sense that we’re all together in this travelling way of life, separate from the locals but joined by our journeying.

that day, i found the picture making to be the absolute best on the entire RTW trip! with borrowed camera, humbled.

after diu, we made our way to bombay to fly onward to nairobi. in the bombay airport while waiting for our flight, i watched a young western guy dressed in white indian kurta wandering around aimlessly, alone, muttering to himself. after watching him for awhile, i approached him to see if i could help. he was completely stoned on something. something strong. heroin maybe? he wanted to get home to england. he didn’t know where he was.  he couldn’t find his ticket or a passport, if he even had them. i tried to find an airport official who could help this man. but it was time for us to catch our flight. and we left. leaving behind so much desperation. and so much richness. so much life.


lessons learned: don’t sit under the speaker on indian buses. don’t leave my camera behind, ever! see the inner human beings behind their desperate circumstances.


ps – i’ve returned to india twice, both times spent in the peace of ashrams. i will return.

pps – favorite indian movies: slumdog millionaire, water, monsoon wedding, lagaan. favorite book about india: shantaram.

monday memories / RTW trip: harmony & balance

while i have my around-the-world photos out from their usual home in the garage, i think i’ll continue telling some more stories from that adventure ...

we started our around-the-world tour in october 1990, leaving from our home in portland and flying waaaaaay across the pacific to taiwan, our first stop. i had a friend living there at the time who was waiting for us at the airport. and waiting, and waiting, and waiting. we had decided only a month before to take this grand tour, talk about impulsive (me, not curt)! and in our frantic preparations to start our journey, we (probably my idea, again) had neglected to get visas for taiwan. oops! and in that ancient time before cell phones, there was nary a thing we could do, quarantined in the holding area, to alert my friend. so onward we ventured on the next leg of our flight to singapore. 

singapore is a great place to start an asian adventure, easing in to the east. except that in those days, i didn’t know the slightest thing about “easing.” after our god-knows-how-many-hours-long flights, jet lag, gooey humidity, foreign beds ... i brilliantly decided to go for a run our first morning there while curt, sensible guy that he is, slept in and then waited for me at breakfast.

i ran out the front door of the ywca hostel along a road through a tropical forest, with ENORMOUS green leaves and jungle bird sounds, marveling at the exotic all around me. returned dripping in sweat, stopping at the payphone outside the entrance to call home and tell mom we had arrived safely. mom was a big talker (understatement of the century) and wanted to know all about everything. but midway through our conversation, i started feeling dizzy, and then nauseous. not wanting to worry my mom, i abruptly said i had to go, but she had no intention of ending the conversation just yet. mom, i really have to go, i don’t feel well. mom. i. have. to ...

the first thing i saw was the phone receiver dangling from its cord three feet above my face. i took in the sky, the leaves, the birds ... from the ground where i lay. i roused myself, dirt and dust sticking to my sweaty legs, arms, shirt and shorts. found curt in the dining room. curt, i fainted! he made me drink litres of water, fed me some toast. i guess all the air travel, dehydration, running, and sweating had gotten the best of me. mind you, i am not a fainter. have the constitution of a bull. but i fainted on the first morning of our big adventure. was it an omen of things to come? 

singapore was eye-opening and fun, a strange shoppers paradise, full of multi-story shopping malls. we bought a little shortwave radio and stocked up on the items we had forgotten at home. enjoyed the best indian food of our whole trip (including the time we spent in india) in the “little india” section of the city. yum! and we booked our boat trip to jakarta. no more planes for us. the budget-travel had begun.

excruciating pretty much sums up our three-day boat trip. the sleeping berths were packed with people and the stench of sea-sick vomit. we opted to stay outside on deck, along with the other budget travellers. we slept in our brand new sleeping bags on a dirty wooden deck for two nights and sat, stood, and walked on the deck for three nightmarish, long days. our time was punctuated by vendors who’d come out to sell food, but the only thing that seemed palatable to us was crackers. and the other  budget travellers? many of them were the uber-long-term-traveller-types and had gone to singapore to get medical attention for their various ailments. one guy had a bandaged ear from some weird infection. one a bandaged foot from a wound that wouldn’t heal in the moist tropical air. and more bandaged body parts paraded on deck. many of them didn’t seem like they’d washed their clothes or hair any time recently. curt and i stayed to ourselves and ate our crackers, quiet and sobered from this scene. what had we (me, again, the whole dang trip was my idea) gotten ourselves into? 

finally debarked in jakarta, off that godforsaken boat, and straight into dante’s inferno mixed in with the biggest slum and garbage dump imaginable (we hadn’t yet been to india). resilience is key on this kind of trip. we found a decent little place to stay for one night, and tickets for yet another (one day, not so bad) boat and bus to bali. 

needless to say, our trip didn’t start out as well as we’d imagined.

but bali? bali. oh bali. sweet, sweet bali.

bali was exactly what i’d imagined, only better.  we’d planned on staying three weeks in the artists village of ubud, in the mountains in the middle of the island. surrounded by terraced rice paddies, jungles, walking paths, bicycles for rent, delicious food, friendly bars, gentle people. we found a lovely and super cheap place to stay where our breakfast of tea and papaya and banana was delivered to our doorstep each morning, along with a little leaf tray holding a few grains of rice, flowers, and incense to keep the bad spirits away. we were grateful for this offering, after the journey we had taken to get there. we were in some serious need of peace and safety and serenity. 

apparently there had been a large local gathering right before our arrivel, kicking off a month-long ceremony at ubud's temple. sitting in a pretty ravine along the river at end of the main road, the open-air temple made of bamboo and flags hosted a slew of activity. every day we saw the balinese carrying trays of fruit piled high as they made their way to the temple to make offerings to the gods. and every evening, the temple gamelan rang through the jungle. at first the gamelan sounded like a lot of clanging iron; but over the weeks, it grew on me. i eventually found deep appreciation for this heavenly music.

we rented bikes and rode through the fields. we took in a shadow puppet play. made some friends. saw art. bought sarongs. went swimming. curt learned the art of balancing a papaya on his head, making the local women giggle (later in our travels we learned that only balinese women balance things on their heads). walking. eating. drinking. so peaceful. now this is how travelling is supposed to be! 

and we found better and better places to stay, closer and closer to the temple. our last place was the best, in the middle of the jungle just above the temple, complete with outdoor bathroom (walls but no ceiling!) and one daily lizard poop (the first few days we thought it was an olive pit ... weird, how did that get there?) delivered smack dab in the middle of our bed (no doubt a protest for invading his space). we spent each night falling asleep to the sacred gamelan and balinese prayers.

just before leaving ubud, we heard the month-long ceremony would close the following weekend with a procession through the village. and the reason behind the ceremonies? the balinese from ubud and neighboring villages intended to restore balance and harmony in the world (at least that was the gist as we understood it). we decided to stay another week. could use a good dose of harmony and balance before heading on to god-knows-what, god-knows-where.

perched in an open-air bar alongside the road, cold beer in hand (it was probably too early for beer, but what the heck, it was like a parade, bali-style!) we gazed at the orderly procession of color and costume and platters and platters of tropical fruit and flower offerings. first came the giant puppet, then the little boys, then the little girls, then the older boys, then the older girls, then the men, then the women ... each group wearing matching outfits. elegant. serene. festive. pious. simply gorgeous. all culminating in a grand ceremony at the temple.

did they restore harmony and balance to the world? they certainly did to my world. we spent our last night, after cleaning the “olive pit” off the bed, slumbering to the magical gamelan sounds.

 and we left the very next day.


lessons learned: research visas! don’t go running after flying! gamelan is beautiful, once you get the hang of it. always seek harmony and balance.


ever since the eat pray love phenomenon, bali has become THE destination for 30- and 40-something single women looking for love. i read an article about the new ubud, where the author saw a sign on a cash register which read: “eat pray leave.” i think they might need to hold another "harmony and balance" ceremony!

squam (this courageous life, con't)

morning squam light

squam lake. art camp. was it just a dream? rustic cabins, roaring fires, rocking chairs, making fun art, meeting inspiring new people, walking through forests. they say *magic* happens here ... sounds great, right? but it also was an opportunity to stretch myself, little challenges along the way. 

eileen wearing all her art fair finds

i found my inner lioness. found the courage to:

-       stand alone in the middle of the dining room the first night, looking around and around not knowing where to sit, all the tables wrapped in their own conversations. first night i sat with merrilee, eileen and sarah … with whom i spent my last morning as well, photographing on the dock. i stood in the middle of the dining room several more times, each time finding a place, mustering up courage to ask “can i sit with you?” and finding warmth every time with strangers who became friends.

the one and only ... elizabeth maccrellish

-       trust elizabeth’s encouragement to find my “YES!” all week long and follow that. i participated fully all day long, then in the evenings retreated to my room to rest (so little sleep prior, preparing to come to squam). on the third night i ventured out and found a rock to sit on by the edge of the lake. my yes was to forgo the nightly party in the main lounge of my cabin, of which i could hear every word and creak of the furniture and floorboards. instead i sat on that rock listening to the loons (sounds like coyotes) and the lapping water, watching the clouds float by the moon. following my yes was very different than my cabin-mates' yes, and that was ok.

jonatha brooke doing her thang

-       bop in my seat to performer extraordinaire jonatha brooke’s opening night gig in the playhouse, not caring if anyone thought i was weird, thoroughly enjoying her expressive soul. jonatha rocks!

i made my own journal!

-       tell christine mason miller all about my tendencies to want my book to be orderly, simple, straight,  perfect. “should i follow that tendency or try to break out, break free?” she was kind, gentle, listened with that sincere smile of hers. why not free it up a bit, if only on one page, she replied. gave me a bit of a pep talk. i pasted in photos askew! glued bits of pretty paper all around, working on pages willy nilly. for the grande finale, i pasted on the plain cover the little tag christine gave me at the start of class, in her fun handwriting, which had gotten water spilled on it making the ink run, ASKEW, which said, “you are loved”. and i felt it.

starting to turn

-       divulge to elizabeth, who called me about housing the week before i left, about my journey to see my aunt carol the morning of the first day of squam. she listened wholeheartedly, asked questions, was interested, on a day when she probably had a gazillion other details to wrap for the workshops. on the last morning she was crying in my arms in the dining hall, overwhelmed by the emotion of holding this space for all of us, and in the middle of all that asked me how my visit with carol went. we cried together, a perfect moment.

the lovely sarah ahearn

-       listen deep down, during the opening night meditation, such a nice way to start a week of creativity. helene asked us to take a minute of silence and ask ourselves what our intention was for the week. i waited and listened, didn’t hear anything inside for a long time, thinking nothing would surface in that room full of people. then it did, totally a surprise to me. to embrace my feminine sexual energy. WHAT?! at art camp?! had a great dream that night, the message was clear: allow yourself to receive fully.

my new friend helen from england takes a polaroid

-       ask if i could participate in the squam art fair held on the last night of camp. i had brought a little basket of my photo greeting cards to camp, just in case. i was welcomed to share a table with someone, if space allowed. caryn overheard the conversation and said she would squeeze me in if i couldn’t find another better spot. turned out she didn’t really have space because her gorgeous work overflowed on her table. but right next to her barb did have space and generously offered it to me. so i set myself up on a little piece of her table, selling my cards in public for the very first time.


-       opened to a man. toward the end of the art fair, a man stopped by the table to chat. he was not in art camp, had been driving across the country and just happened upon this magical place rockywold-deephaven. he was a photographer from california! i was attracted to him (a first in a long time). i remembered my intention for camp and found myself fondling my heart chakra pendant while we chatted. remembered my intention. stood open and receptive. he bought a card, took my business card and said he’d send me one of his photo cards. regardless of what happens with this man, i’m feeling my readiness for a new relationship. 

sittin on the dock of the lake

-       chose this inspiration card in thursday's yoga class: i am willing to change. YES!

  sarah ahearn's sketchbook class


yes. magic. and freedom.

northern cali and southward home (hill)

road trip days 13-16: norcal coast - home (mill valley)

we finally slowed down the pace. instead of doing 6-8 hours of driving, we did 2 or 3 or 4. got to spend more time walking, shooting and on our starbucks sessions to upload our photos to picture summer. i remembered that i'm insanely in love with meadows. all those little grasses mixed together creating the perfect imaginary playland ... just like when i was a young girl, i imagine i'm thumbelina-sized, walking through the forest of GIANT trees (of knee-high grasses). sublime. even in the presence of a whole herd of elk, i felt the tug to snuggle into the opposite meadow -- sans elk -- but with the most magnificent display of feathery grasses and plants ... grasses, elk, grasses, elk ... for me it was clear ... grasses. but cynthia loved the elk. she wants to be a wildlife photographer in africa when she grows up.

my trusty van waited for us patiently (she finally got a name on this trip: mojo) between the meadows, grasses to the right, elk to the left.

later we found a great campsite on the banks of the klamath river close to its confluence with the pacific. the morning was deliciously foggy (home sweet home). cynthia REALLY wanted to see another bear, and in the morning we heard there had been one the previous evening playing on someone's tent. we must've been making dinner ... sheesh! but rumor had it there was a bear who swam across the river many mornings, so we sat in these chairs and waited, alas no bear.


our assignment that day was to photograph "wind".

we eventually wound our way down the avenue of the giants and burst out to the coast above mendocino. the coast! getting closer to home!

no bears but a great hillside of goats.

you old goat! (what do you think they were saying to one another?)

ended up in sonoma for lunch. our assignment that day was "light". this fork photo ended up being featured on the picture summer site! a lovely end to our trip.

cynthia flew back to australia after a few serious days of shopping: aveda, yoga mats, juicy, neoprene wine bags, etc etc etc. she is now officially my special shutter sister. it's hard to believe she just started photographing during our road trip. she has the gift! our last assignment of july was to create a photo garland of all the picture summer photos.


road trip epilogue:

all in all, we travelled over 3500 miles in 16 days!

we experienced: yosemite granite, a bear, photo galleries, a las vegas show, the inside of a helicopter inside the grand canyon, red rocks at zion, deer, geological history, stone arches, friends, sushi bars, organic grocery stores, rock shops, big skies, campgrounds, sweaty shirts, maps, snacks of blueberries and walnuts and carrots (ate primal -- no gas station junk food -- the whole way), too many gas station restrooms, starbucks in every state, family, lizards, brand new guest beds, poached eggs, microbrewed beer, bbqs, more friends, kids, rivers, dogs (we both missed ours tremendously so had to pet each and every dog we came across), dusty cameras, photoshop, oregon green, an old boyfriend, giant sequoias, goats, the pacific, seals, fine restaurants, finer wine.

and so much of road trips happen inside the car. we talked the entire time. had brought 7 books on tape which we did not even listen to. we had 7 years to catch up on! shared music, stories, tears, the love of photography, laughs, insights. we rekindled a deep friendship. cynthia is 10 years younger than me, and she's like a sister, but not a younger sister. just a sister. i learned so much from her. strength. beauty. generosity. efficiency. love.

The time I slept on linen sheets (Meg)

I heard Sir Elton John sing "Tiny Dancer" yesterday and the line, "lay me down in sheets of linen" has been on endless repeat in my head ever since.

I was living on the French island of Martinique, sharing a house with my friend Hillary, and a group of us had agreed to watch the latest Jacques Cousteau Special together. For young French people living surrounded by the sea (and maybe for all French people, I don't know), watching Jacques Cousteau was like watching the final World Cup soccer match, a speech by the Premier, and a rock concert all rolled into one. We went to Jean-Pierre's house to watch because he had the only decent TV. He lived with his tiny ancient mother (he must have been a menopause baby, or maybe his mother was really his grandmother, she was that old) in a beautiful but run down home up in the hills. On the way there, for a reason I don't remember, I ended up on the back of Thierry's motorcycle, screaming around the blind mountain corners in the pouring rain. It was dark, and so humid that it almost didn't matter that it was raining. I distinctly remember trying to enjoy the thrilling danger of that ride so that if I died, I'd at least die happy.
Then, wrapped in towels to keep from dripping on the thread-bare oriental rugs and worn silk upholstery, we watched the show. As we watched the fish swim, and listened to Jacques Cousteau's unmistakable voice (most of which I couldn't understand), the blue-green light of the television and moist air from the open windows made it seem as if we were underwater too. It was late when the program ended. So late that we all decided to spend the night at Jean-Pierre's house. His mother went to the closet and pulled out armfuls of linen sheets. We pulled the cushions off the sofas and chairs, wrapped them in the sheets, and fell asleep where we dropped, a crowd of about 10 of us, all over the living room floor. How lucky I was to be there, on linen sheets so old they were soft and smooth, dreaming of fish and water.

sugar magnolia (hill)

magnificent magnolias. majestic magnolias. marvelous magnolias. merry magnolias. you get the idea. my neighborhood is bursting with magnolia blooms, and i see so many varieties on our daily dogwalks. and every time, they make me think of another beloved roommate of meg's and mine, laura. she and her hubbie's first dance at their wedding 20 years ago was ... sugar magnolia by the greatful dead. laura is the most straighlaced deadhead you'll ever meet, even nerdy in high school (you said so yourself, laurs!). so as i wander around, inhaling the saturated magnolia fuschias, pinks, and whites, and gaze at their beauty, i think of laura and hum along to myself and sometimes even out loud to daisey. this one's for you, laurs:

Sugar magnolia, blossoms blooming, head's all empty and I don't care,

Saw my baby down by the river, knew she'd have to come up soon for air.

Sweet blossom come on, under the willow, we can have high times if you'll abide
We can discover the wonders of nature, rolling in the rushes down by the riverside.

She's got everything delightful, she's got everything I need,
Takes the wheel when I'm seeing double, pays my ticket when I speed.

Well, she comes skimmin' through rays of violet, she can wade in a drop of dew,
She don't come and I don't follow, waits backstage while I sing to you.

Well, she can dance a Cajun rhythm, jump like a Willy's in four wheel drive.
She's a summer love in the spring, fall and winter. She can make happy any man alive.

Sugar magnolia, ringing that bluebell, caught up in sunlight, come on out singing
I'll walk you in the sunshine, come on honey, come along with me.

She's got everything delightful, she's got everything I need,
A breeze in the pines in the summer night moonlight, crazy in the sunlight yes indeed.

Sometimes when the cuckoo's crying, when the moon is half way down,
Sometimes when the night is dying, I take me out and I wander around, I wander 'round.

Sunshine, daydream, walking in the tall trees, going where the wind goes
Blooming like a red rose, breathing more freely,
Light out singin', I'll walk you in the morning sunshine
Sunshine, daydream. Sunshine, daydream. Walking in the sunshine.
~ by the grateful dead