Tell Scott I said hi!

It didn’t matter if we had been chatting for quite a while or if it was a quick exchange of pleasantries, Jerry always ended each conversation with me with a quick, “Tell Scott I said hi!” And eeeeeeverytime I assured him I would.

I think Jerry really liked Scott. They had different backgrounds but were both ‘boots on the ground’ workers. A mutual respect was established early in our California days.

Jerry was an airplane pilot for the Air Force. At one time he was based out of Dover AFB so we talked about that area often. We’ve known about his flying career for the entirety of our friendship with Gisela and Jerry, our across-the-street neighbors. Pre-COVID, he was a docent for the Aerospace Museum of California. It was only recently that we found out his actual job was to fly the planes that did in-air refueling of the fighter planes.

This tidbit of information was particularly interesting to me because inflight fueling of planes always makes me think of my mother. She loved a sermon she’d heard (and referred to often) about the intricacies of this unique military maneuver. Hovering over the other plane at 20,000 feet, the refueling team pumps thousands of gallons of gas into the jet at 300+ miles an hour – all without interrupting the flight at hand.

The pastor presenting the sermon used this analogy to speak about the times in life when things are happening around us too quickly to simply stop everything and rejuvenate. Pressures and stresses are coming at us too rapidly and yet our resources are waning. Many (if not all) of us can relate to this feeling the past few years. In an attempt to keep all the balls in the air, our fuel tanks have neared empty far too many times.

Thankfully, God is able to surround and sustain us even while we are still maintaining 300+ miles per hour. He is able to refuel us within the trial, not simply before or after it occurs – just like the Air Force jets do so far above our heads.

Gisela texted me this morning, a very simple sentence: ‘Jerry just passed away’. Having fought cancer for the past two years, it was time for him to land the plane. I spent the morning with Gisela while she waited for him to be transported. There is a year’s wait for Arlington Cemetery, but that will be where he is finally buried. The majestic and hallowed Arlington Cemetery in D.C. While she took a shower, I stayed with Jerry. He had on a white AIR FORCE tshirt and I once again thought about Mom’s favorite sermon. I could hear Gisela’s blow dryer upstairs while I leaned in a little closer to Jerry’s ear. ‘You provided a marriage of exciting hikes and biking trails. You impressed us all with your intellect and travel stories. No more inflight biopsies or invasive procedures. Rest well now. And hey Jerry, tell God I said hi.

I felt sure that he would.

Endless Ocean ASMR: Fort Bragg, California

I actually have culled through my ocean pictures from our trip, but I just can’t go with any less than these. Even if it’s just for my own benefit of collecting them all in one place. I hope you’ll look through them and find a sense of peaceful joy.

We’ve been to the ocean many times during the past three years of living in California, but we’ve yet to just BE at the ocean. We’re always doing something around it but this time my only request was to be able to sit on the beach and read, etc.

Scott brought his fishing pole and we each had three blissful hours of absolute relaxation. There weren’t many people at the beach we happened upon, which made it even sweeter.

I read and cross-stitched and fell in love with two little girls and their sweet parents. Tilly smelled and smelled and loved getting wet. The sun was warm but the temperatures were very cool. I’m telling you…lots of people leave their hearts in San Francisco, but Scott and I left a huge piece of ours in Fort Bragg, California at Pudding Creek Beach.

We explored. We breathed slow and deep. We fell in love with the area and deeper with each other. What a wonderful new place to return to again and again…

One of the many things I love about Scott is his unguarded enthusiasm. He and Tilly took a walk on the beach while I set up my little spot in the sand. Soon they were back and Scott was animatedly telling me that I had to come see this “really cool hiding spot!”

Tilly met a new friend. And like any pre-teen girl, she chased him senselessly without pride or reserve.

Ahhhhh the tribulations of young summer love.

Pawprints in the Sand

I love the California shoreline. It’s craggy and moody and looks like every suspenseful movie or book plot you’ve ever imagined. I always think of Daphne DuMaurier’s, REBECCA. Words like plummeted or at the edge of the shoreline or discarded mitten come to mind. – ha!! (I’ve never lacked an active imagination.)

I want to learn how to speak to anyone at any time and make us both feel a little bit better, lighter, richer, with no commitments of ever meeting again. I want to learn how to stand wherever with whomever and still feel stable. I want to learn how to unlock the locks to our minds, my mind, so that when I hear opinions or views that don’t match up with mine, I can still listen and understand. I want to burn up lifeless habits of following maps and to-do lists, and I want to go back to the way nature shaped me. I want to learn to go on well with whatever I have in my hands at the moment in a natural state of mind,
certain like the sea.

I will find comfort in the rhythm of the sea.

Charlotte Eriksson

Happiest World Ocean Day 2022 today. Oceans are vast and intimidating and mysterious and all the more alluring because of it.

GPS signal lost

“GPS signal lost. No Sirius signal.”

Two phrases broadcasted through our car radio. The truest music to my ears. We were pioneers! Nothing but our car and enormous redwoods to guide us through the Navarro River Redwoods State Park in Mendocino County, California.

We felt like the only humans on the road, wrapped in the magnitude of the mighty redwoods and their preternatural understory. It was quiet and cool and magical. Fairies? Mystical creatures watching us from the privacy of their hiding spot? Maybe! This far into the woods you’d believe just about anything.

The brush underneath the 300+ foot trees deserves its own mention of beauty. The luscious greens and forest scents. Ferns leaning toward the spots where the sun forces its way through to the forest floor. It was absolute heaven.

Unfortunately, this little swallowtail was not long for the forest. He was injured somewhere and trying to limp along unsuccessfully. I’m thankful he let us capture his array of colors. I will treasure this photo all the more for the effort he had to give up to allow it to happen.

Tilly was overwhelmed by all the exciting smells and my little bitty 6’3” husband was no match for the vast height of the California redwoods.

Standing in the middle of this road was one of the highlights of our trip to the coast. The quiet air around me. The road leading us to unknown places. The embrace of the redwoods. The magical dance of the sunbursts. I wanted to sit down and be for just a few moments longer.

I felt the energizing truth of forest bathing.

And then, within a few moments of our forest drive, the smell of salty air started to overtake the pine and our view of the Pacific started to emerge.

I’ll take THIS house, please.

California is the most unusual state. The topography changes within a handful of minutes. Desert. Mountains. Forest. Sea. What an incredible place to live. We keep discovering more and more ‘favorite places’.

Having soaked up the fresh air and lowered our blood pressure from the terpene in our forest therapy, we were ready to put our feet in the Pacific…

The Call of the Mild

You know that emoji with the shocked face, gaping eyes, and raised eyebrows?? 😳 Imagine our goldendoodle, Tilly, with that expression on her people-loving, never-met-a-foe, mild-mannered, pampered face as we drove through the California Napa Valley, listening to The Call of the Wild by Jack London on audio. She had no idea dogs could even act with such violence toward each other or that dog owners would leave their dogs to burrow in a snow pile for warmth at night.

She was aghast!

On our way to the coast for some much-needed time away, we stopped in Glen Ellen, California, at the home of Jack London (1876-1916), one of the first American writers to make successful money during his lifetime (not just posthumously.) He also was one of the first authors to write what would later become known as science fiction.

We listened to The Call of the Wild in the car, quickly invested in the life of Buck – the fictional main character (dog) of London’s 1903 novel. Driving through the vineyard country, then through the magnificent redwoods, on to the sandy beaches of the Pacific, we listened and gasped and reassuringly patted Tilly’s head as we made our way westward.

Calling on his canine ancestors, Buck endured difficult days, learning experiences, and eventually, to trust and love again.

He was older than the days he had seen and the breaths he had drawn.

We have much to learn from our four-legged companions, a wealth of wisdom and insight at our fingertips, in the lives lived of generations past.

Rattlesnakes aside, we walked the grounds of London’s home, graveyard, and museum and picked up a few of his treasured short stories to add to our library.

It was difficult to photograph due to the lighting, but this view from his home looked out over the coastal mountains with pine trees enveloping the house. I mean… who couldn’t write with a view like that?!

Precursor to John Steinbeck, London wrote with the same rugged determination that many of his American literary comrades strove to achieve…the wild West calling to their masculine imagery and dreams. London was part of the radical literary group “The Crowd” in San Francisco and a passionate advocate of workers’ rights and socialism.

After our literary pit stop, Tilly, Scott, and I (a trio of not so rough and tough, hardened adventurers) packed back in our car and kept driving West toward our final destination.

The wild was calling us, but in a much more mildly temperate fashion.

Midtown Mindfulness

I am overwhelmed by the amount of vacation pictures I took this week so instead I’ll post some pictures from the farmer’s market this morning.

This beautiful bouquet came home with me. My eye went to it immediately, sitting in the rows and rows of vibrantly-colored flowers. I love it’s muted, gentle colors and can’t wait to spread it around our home this week.

The produce is coming in strong as the first weekend of PRIDE showed up in grand style at the Midtown Farmer’s Market in Sacramento.

Pluots and apricots made their first appearance and look absolutely delicious. A bag of them is sitting on our kitchen counter, daring us to eat them slowly throughout the week. They are SO sweet and gorgeous!

He is still my favorite market date. ♥️♥️♥️

Good. Very very good. An overcast day in California, filled with happy people and hopeful vendors.

As always, the real stars of the show are the visiting farmer’s market canines that bring their humans along. An Australian Labradoodle puppy really stole the show today!

Saturday in Sacramento is peaceful and mindful and filled with the hope of a week ahead that will include fresh produce, a cute handmade item or two, a sense of community, and joyful anticipation for next weekend’s farmer’s market goods.

Grief

It’s been a rough week, hasn’t it? We are a mourning nation. Confused, sorrowful, and enraged. Mix in a wonderful visit from our daughter that happened to end in sync with the school shooting, and a bit more sadness is stirred into the mix. However, our focus lately has been on our two neighborly friends. One lady – strong and interesting (I’ve joked for years that I had a bit of a crush on her), passed away yesterday. Dreaded cancer that she found out about two months ago. And our other neighbor across the street who has battled cancer for a year, does not have much more battle to fight. Three years ago, Jerry and Gisela were the first to welcome us here, knocking on the door to bring a neighborhood newsletter. We’ve since shared numerous items back and forth across Will Rogers Drive.

Now it feels like there is only so much that lasagne and garden veggies can do. We keep doing clumsy, awkward things for them all. What do you do when you don’t know what to do? We check in with them and tear up when they tear up, all voices cracking in unison.

I stood at my kitchen sink today, watering my philodendron, watching a truck back into Judith’s driveway, back-up beeps interrupting an otherwise sunny Memorial Day. As the water ran through my houseplant, they loaded a now unneeded hospital bed into the back of the truck. How quickly life can change, then how quickly we crave a sense of order to return after it does. Not able to alter a life ended so early, the elimination of a hospital bed reminder is one item that feels doable and immediate.

We in our 50s. They in their 60s. Children in their single digits.

Outside chaos of all kinds clamor at all our doorsteps on a regular basis, but it has become less and less noisy to me lately as the people right in front of me suffer unexpectedly. Social media seems less important while simultaneously, the friends behind each profile photo are held with warm and happy memories.

Life is big and scary but also small and wholly clear. We are not promised days; live entirely into the ones you are allowed.

Scott and I are off this week to explore a few more areas of California we’ve not seen before – the Mendocino coastal region. As I organize how to get Jerry to the car tomorrow morning for a doctor’s visit, his wife texts me information on where to see the rhododendrons along our trip. Such is the recipe of everyday life: the bitter balances the sweet. I’m thankful for a few days away with Scott. He is my person, balled up socks and all. Menial things are blurry these days. The importance of the moment is holding court. Tilly will dictate our stops and starts along the way, blissfully unaware of gunman and disease. Give her an open window and the occasional duck jerky and she’s filled with immeasurable canine glee.

I’m going small for awhile…the week has been especially difficult on our street. ✨ Please take good care of yours. ✨ They are the field God has given you to care for. Swap lettuce. Lend books. Gossip about the price of gas and late night talk shows. Do that universal head nod and arm wave as your neighbor pulls into their garage after work.

He comforts us in all affliction, we have been promised. If you are willing to be present, joy comes in the mourning as well.

– g

Keeping up with my correspondence…

Scott and I often joke that I am a ‘woman who keeps up with her correspondence.‘ This doesn’t mean that I actually sit down each morning with a red box and open it to see what correspondence needs to be accomplished that day.

What it does mean is that I live in a very different world in my head than reality plays out. -ha!

I was proud of myself for putting together some Mother’s Day cards this year. I wanted to tell the women of my life how much I noticed them and their enormous hard work. I finished the cards early because my daughter was coming to visit from out of town and I knew I needed to get an early jump on them before cleaning bathrooms (that dang reality again) set in. The first unfortunate thing is that I didn’t get cards completed for the entire list of women I find admirable and the second unfortunate circumstance is that they remained piled in my brand new MAIL holder on my desk. I mailed them on Tuesday…after Mother’s Day. Aargh.

I clearly had no recourse but to blame my daughter for this unfortunate turn of events.

Why can’t I just be normal???

THE FAMILY by Naomi Krupitsky

It is difficult to believe that this is Krupitsky’s first novel. The Family is both riveting and endearing. I picked up the book casually but held on to it thirstily. After devouring it, I am closing the back cover, satisfied and intrigued for more.

Krupitsky is a beautiful writer who seamlessly unfolds a story like a seasoned novelist. The good news is that I am certain she will have many more books to come. The bad news…I fear she put all of her fantastic material into this debut book.

The phrasing. The story build. The likability of the characters, protagonists and otherwise. I fell quickly for her writing style – her brimming descriptions and metaphors. She has a luscious grip on our language and an appealing orchestration of its words.

Winter can be a welcome means by which to narrow the world down to the most important parts.

As summer turns hot, deadly hot, and the asphalt softens and the buildings collect the sun so even through the night they radiate a thick warmth.

Two families, united in culture and Family involvement. Two mothers raising their daughters – best friends – in a world of Italian mafia men in 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s Brooklyn. The hardships (probably very different from your own) are recognizable. Krupintsky allows her readers the room to weigh the circumstances and question what they would do in a similar situation.

Antonia, measured and imaginative…

Antonia finds that though she is expected to stay inside her own body, she often feels like she is in Sofia’s body, or her mamma’s body, or the body of the princess in a story. It’s easy for her to slip away, spread out, and exist in the whole universe instead of within the confines of her own skin.

Sophia, daring and adventuresome…

Sophia never means to belittle Antonia, and perhaps Antonia lets herself be made small too easily.

You will be quickly immersed in the lives of Sofia Colicchio and Antonia Russo through childhood, teenage years, and motherhood – each stage filled with secrets kept. They have grown up together since birth. They feed on their differences until age threatens to separate them into different worlds. “They both want to speak. But they cannot hear one another over the roar of the old world as it turns into a new one.

Follow them as they wrestle with their desire for independence from the unspoken worlds of their fathers as they push against the expectations of place and purpose.

This 368 page, coming-of-age novel is a quick read as you absorb each sentence with excited expectation. The overarching themes of love and dedicated friendship will strengthen your own place within the relationships you find yourself in.

I suddenly realized, as I read the last pages, I was no longer sitting on my couch. I was leaning forward with my elbows on my knees, the book dangling in the air, as the plot became just as unmoored as the physical book in my hands. The ending will leave you somewhat breathless as you struggle to hold tightly to the scattered bits of available hope.

I highly recommend this book. Not because it’s a debut novel but because it is a damn good novel. The appreciative reader within you will stop occasionally to roll the words around in your mouth and the writer within will jealously wonder: “Why didn’t I think to write that phrase myself?!” Such a delightful story and the writing therein.

Prayer is an acknowledgement of fear, of that which cannot be controlled or contained or even understood. It is a surrender and an attack, all at once.

Easter Connections

Our neighbors dropped off an Easter gift this morning. While I’ve never actually associated Easter with rainbows before, I immediately loved the unexpected comparisons.

Was there ever a time in Christian history that we were more filled with hope than the discovery of an empty tomb? Was there ever a time that we needed God’s promise more than the desolate hours after the person we thought was going to magnanimously save us, lay in a tomb from a simple, uninteresting, earthly death?

Admittedly, God’s covenant with man seems weak at times in 2022, while watching the news or sitting in a doctor’s chair, getting yet another vaccine. And yet day in and day out, glimpses of His eternal mercy are doled out to us. Grand moments of unimaginable answered prayer and sometimes, a rainbow bag of Godiva chocolates and German traditions.

I hope I will remember the unanticipated connection I felt today between resurrection salvation and rainbow promises.

What was your glimpse of hope today?

HAPPY EASTER!!!

The Seductive Proximity of January 1

Our affable goldendoodle, Tilly, soon to be two years old, has become enthralled in the world of squirrels. I feel confident that she does not mean them harm. I believe her understanding is that they are merely more creatures with which to romp and play. They sit on our back fence, eating the specialty bird feed we buy at the specialty feed store and put out for the specialty fancy birds. Birds of stately yellows and regal reds. Birds that will not tolerate unhusked sunflower seeds nor rub shoulder wings with common underlinings like crows or blue jays. The squirrels, however, give not a second thought to scraping leftovers off the ground, possessing neither dignity nor self-restraint. Squirrels are not too proud to pick among the weeds and filth at the feet of God’s more majestic creatures of flight.

We have a large window in our dining room that is low enough for Tilly to sit for hours watching the squirrels in action, or (more humiliatingly), she simply stares at the spot where the squirrel disappeared over the edge of the fence. Tilly is nothing if not hopeful that the furry creatures will return at any minute, this time to ask her to play. Her innocent enthusiasm is infectious.

The week between Christmas and New Years is an odd wormhole of time where many of us are not quite sure what to do with ourselves. We carefully wrap and box away Christmas ornaments while we simultaneously pack away the previous year: our high hopes, our realized disappointments, our many questions about the virginal new year that lies ahead.

What resolutions shall I make for this next year? Are they reasonable goals? Are they reachable? Are they lofty enough to challenge me to new growth? I have plenty of anecdotal proof that resolutions are often broken. I regularly chastise myself for the perennial goals I have yet to achieve. At what point am I too old to set to paper, goals I want to achieve in the new year? At what point do I allow life to simply unfurl before me without pre-determined resolve or intentional orchestration?

Each year we are reminded that there is nothing magical about the first day of a new year. And yet the secret places in my heart believe that there, in fact, is something special about an empty tablet lain open in front of me, words yet to be written, experiences yet to be had. A renewed opportunity to change, grow, evolve. Become the kind of person I’ve always aspired to be. My better angels win out over my cynical tendencies and I tell myself, yet again, there are new vistas to climb. There are character flaws to hone. There is service to give. There are people to love.

May we always be enticed by the seductive proximity of a new year hanging over our to do lists, calendars, values, life goals. May we always resolve to resolve for a better tomorrow. A stronger self. A more binding community. An ever-expanding understanding. We are not too old. We are not too failed. We are not too ‘too’. We have survived and thrived and met the challenges of each past year. We are capable. We are over-comers.

Make the New Year’s list of resolutions. Hold them with grace and forgiveness when you fall short but also know that you were brave enough to commit them to paper and therefore, strong enough to try again.

From our home to yours, we wish you the happiest and healthiest of new days ahead. We hold a warm and tender space for you in our hearts and in our home this new year.

– g

Cookiethon 2021

Since Scott has to work on Christmas Day, I’m putting together a big cookie tray for the other AWESOME essential workers and doing goodie bags for some neighbors.

It’s been a fun cookie making week!

I hope your Christmas is a blessed and happy one.

salty and sweet (and a little more salty)

Wow. Wow wow wow!

This was a new-to-me cookie recipe and I was THRILLED with the results. It is definitely for the lover of all things salty and sweet together – just like the happiest of couples.

Sea Salt Butterscotch Pretzel Cookies


INGREDIENTS:
1 cup butter
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped pretzels
flaked sea salt

DIRECTIONS:
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat then bring to a boil. Once the butter starts boiling, swirl the pan constantly until the butter passes the foamy phase and becomes a deep amber color. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the butter to cool for 20 minutes.

While the butter is cooling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and sea salt. Set aside.

Add the brown sugar, eggs and vanilla into the cooled butter in the saucepan and stir to combine. Pour this mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture. Stir using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until the dough comes together.

Stir in the butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, and pretzels.

Using a medium cookie scoop, drop the dough 2″ apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden.

After removing the cookies from the oven, sprinkle with flaked sea salt. Allow the cookies to cool for 2-3 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack.

I want to know if you make these so we can oooo and ahhhh together over their perfect combination. Could this be the most complete cookie ever created?? Arguably so.