Friday, November 13, 2015

On the brink of Fall ~ A Day in September, A Tree, and Childhood Memory

I sit here at the laundry mat, propped up on one of the swivel chairs, looking out the window, homework spread out, diligently writing out the questions that I will later fill in the answers for. Music plays in the background, I have caffeinated myself with a decaf mocha and though it has less caffeine, it still packs just the right amount of zing.
A group of pigeons…the movement in the tree brought my gaze back outside. I look out at the hills, the variety of tree species, one beginning to show its autumn foliage. And I think to myself how much I love trees, how amazing they are, how vacant I would feel without them. I think of my childhood pine tree that I used to climb and sit comfortably atop its large trunk-like branches; that tree is still there, and its also inside my heart. And the beautiful palm tree that shot up so tall, the large palm branches that jetted out; and the large umbrella-like tree that offered shade and a place to read.
The pigeon settles himself on a branch, his gray tones stand out against green and splashes of red. There one moment, gone the next.
It’s a busy laundry day…I see a mother walk by with two toddlers–a little girl entertained with a wad of newspaper, she walks by on her tippy toes, peering in, giggles.
Amongst the chores, the homework, a peaceful start to the morning–the mountains and trees a welcome backdrop.

(Photo was actually taken at sunset yesterday, November 12, 2015)

Monday, September 28, 2015

Lunar Eclipse ~ Moon-Gazers

Moon child that I am, I hadn’t planned on watching the lunar eclipse last night. Hubby mentioned that we should go to the reservoir and try to see it; although, they have a curfew for entering when it gets dark. Then he said, let’s just stay home. Then I said, no, let’s go, let’s give it a shot. So, we were on our way to the reservoir to scope things out. I mentioned that maybe we should go the back way and try the hill. It was a high area. Instead we headed to our original destination, all the while hubby is declaring that we should go further and that we probably we’re going to be able to see it. We were getting the lunar and solar eclipse mixed up. We only needed to see the moon. There were a few clouds hovering. We also weren’t yet sure which direction the moon was going to rise. We sort of tried to look up bits and pieces of information on our trusty iPhones, but just plodded along. It was an adventure–in search of the moon that would promise to dazzle us with it’s reddish-orange hue and large round body. Apparently it was also a super moon night!
When we arrived at the reservoir, we asked a few people that we saw and thought were up to the same thing, if they thought we could see the lunar eclipse from here. A couple said that perhaps not. They pointed in the direction that it would rise, where there were lovely pine trees blocking the way. We mentioned the hill to them and how that’s where we were headed. Off we went.
There were a lot more cars parked there from when we passed by earlier. We took our spot in the line-up. As we walked a bit up the hill and found a spot and made ourselves comfortable, we caught sight of a patch of clouds illuminated with the soft pinkish-red of dusk.
Now we would wait with the many other moon-gazers. We waited for a while, but it was nice to sit there looking out, looking up, waiting for the moon to make its appearance, to rise above the clouds, and up over beautiful Mt. Diablo. I soaked in the night air, the rustling of the wheat grass. I felt my bottom planted firmly upon the earth below me. I watched as night settled in and the stars came out, and then we saw the very top of the moon beginning to show itself, as though stepping out of its robe, baring itself, rising up to reveal it’s light, reflected from the alignment of its self, the earth, and the sun.
It was nice to be amongst others that were enchanted, curious, moon-gazers. When we got home, there was the moon in full sight, as if it were above our abode. I turned to hubby and said, “we didn’t even have to leave the house.”
But, I’m glad we did.
(photo taken with iPhone)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Journal ~ An Orange Butterfly, Sunflowers, & Geology Class

As I walked back from lunch, waiting at the stop light, an orange butterfly flew past me, made a loop back; as I watched this gentle creature breeze by, I became lighter; I felt a flutter inside of me as I soaked in the sun; the light changing from red to green, my gait reflected the lightness of butterfly wings.

Yesterday was the first day of my night course. I needed a science course and an introductory geology course fit into my schedule. I would have preferred an online class. There was one being offered, but it started later in the semester, which would mean a condensed workload, and when I read reviews for that teacher, it didn't sound like it would be a pleasant experience, so I chose to stick with the full term, sitting in class for three hours each night. I've had to give myself pep talks and asked hubby to do the same if he saw me wanting to quit. I only need this one class; that is incentive enough.

On my way to school, I drove past the field of sunflowers; and though it wasn't windy, I imagined them bobbing their happy heads; I wanted to be in the field, join those sunflowers and fill my soul with their glee.

When I had previewed the textbook before class, the topics themselves were of interest to me. I love the earth, so why was I apprehensive about the class? I had also found the instructor's website and had a sneak peek at his approach and grading. My apprehension increased slightly, but I knew that if I put my mind to it, I could do it. I would have to learn the vocabulary and get used to viewing the earth in a scientific way.

I have to say that when I got to class, once the instructor started setting up, I felt a little more at ease. He said hello to a few familiar students from his past classes and a general hello to all of us sitting there, as we waited for the clock to strike 6 o'clock.

Some interesting tidbits that I noted:

-Although this course is going to be very difficult, which he emphasized, I think I'm going to be fine. I will put the work in that I need in order to succeed.

-We won't be writing essays. We have homework questions every week. When someone asked, the instructor replied that no, he does not want complete sentences. He prefers bullet points.

-Email works best. Even better, if we ask yes or no questions and put them in the subject line, so he can respond quickly. A tip: The shorter emails will likely be answered first.

-He does, in fact, believe there are stupid question, so he had a slide with those questions pertaining to some class logistics, and said he wanted to get them out of the way so as not to embarrass anyone. I gave a chuckle. I disagree, but he has a sense of humor; and I surely love that in a human, and especially in a teacher.

-He has a passion for his subject. He has a day job in his field, so he teaches part-time. He tells us he's passionate. More importantly, it shows.

-Ironically, as a person who studies earthquakes, he did not feel the most recent one we had a few days ago.

Even though I only need this one class for the goal at hand, I will still continue to take classes here and there. I'm really looking forward to what we're going to learn in class. I like the teacher's approach, he's entertaining, knowledgable, passionate.

Maybe since I've mostly been taking online classes with the exception of a live class last semester, most of the classes have been English courses or a business and/or accounting course here and there. But something that stood out yesterday was that we do a lot of "unpacking" of terms. My philosophy instructor from last semester also used this term when we came to concepts that, well, we needed to unpack. It's probably something that I'm only picking up on now because of the nature of both of these courses.

100 degree days are behind us for now. I can't believe how much cooler it is now. Walking back to my car after class, I was surprised at how mild the weather was. The nice thing about taking a night class is that I'll see the moon each night after class. By the time I'm home from work, I'm inside for the remainder of the day, and I miss out on the lovely moon, moon child that I am. Last night it was a crescent moon, seemingly hanging from a low branch in the sky.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Entry Point ~ The Spark of the Spinning Wheel

I feel like I'm on a roulette wheel with my thoughts and writing. The ball spins and spins, like my mind, creating possibilities, memories, recalling memories, creating new memories, recording observations, but with this wheel, the numbers become placeholders for words and thoughts; each one an entry point into a place of exploration. Only, these many spinning possibilities keep spinning; the wheel becomes stuck with possibilities.

This morning, as the wheel turned, a book was my entry point. Just reading a couple of pages was enough for that slight shift, just enough to awaken a sort of luck to awaken my writing muscles a little bit further, flexing them in a way that sent a message that you will write these two words down and make a sketch and you will come back to this later and you will post this to your blog journal.

Entry point. Those two little words led me to a roulette wheel and what I was actually reading had nothing to do with anything, but something in that particular moment in time clicked.

And now many hours later, as I enjoy my lunch break, taking spoonfuls of delicious food, then returning to my notebook to continue with the morning spark, I am on that wheel; my entry point is right there–right here; always there.

Writing is good for the soul.

Writing and posting to my blog journal is good for my soul.

Even when something ails me, I need to push through it. Pushing through can only bring my body's equilibrium back to a place of balance. These things I know, yet countless times, the words stay in a certain limbo, like the bouncing ball that can't find its place, slips into the slot and out again, finally settling on a random place on the wheel.

And is it really so random?

Wasn't it supposed to happen at this exact time and place? Or perhaps it had enough time commingling, jetting this way and that–when, the moment you look away, there it appears: A sense of order, of opening and closing–a pulse of life that cannot be contained, a sense of spinning, that spins and spins and spins until it can spin no more and must find a place to land, but only when the self disappears into the background.

And then before your eyes, it slips into the lucky number, the words fall into place, the entry point of many open up and you walk right in, tentative at first, then you reach the end; and you know the wheel will be there, always there when you're ready, only you won't know when you're ready, but something deep inside of you that is outside of yourself will know and you will be there to answer.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Sunday in the Kitchen: Posole & Banana Bread

I love the colors of the M&Ms in this banana bread.
I thought I’d start this post with dessert. I didn’t take a picture when the bread was done, so while I was at work snacking, I snapped a photo before it was all gone. This recipe was really good. I followed it exactly, except I used creamy peanut butter instead of chunky because it’s what I had on hand.
This all came about because there were were two almost black bananas aching to be turned into something sweet and delicious. On our walk, Hubby kept asking me where I hid his bag of M&Ms, but I wouldn’t tell. Then a lightbulb went off, and he also made the suggestion when I said I was thinking of making banana bread. I didn’t tell him what I had in mind. I wanted to surprise him. I searched online for a recipe for banana bread with M&Ms and came across this one. It’s a keeper and I can’t wait to make it again.
Sunday started off to be a good cooking week. I may have felt inspiration from the jambalaya and fried fish that my mother-in-law cooked during the week and invited us over to enjoy. She asked if we wanted refried or regular beans with our meal. We opted for refried. It was, as she said, a sinful meal, and we may as well go all the way. Almost everything was fried or had large amounts of delicious fat!
I had not planned to spend as much time in the kitchen on Sunday as I did. I thought I’d get in and out. I knew that I wanted to prepare posole, a Mexican stew that I grew up eating at my grandmother’s home. I searched the internet for recipes and found a variation by Rachel Ray that sounded promising. I’m used to eating red posole, but I went with a green this time.

I was specifically looking for a recipe that used pork tenderloin for a healthier version. I was happy to find Rachel Ray’s recipe. I also looked at a red recipe. I ended up using most of the ingredients in Ray’s recipe. But not the honey, and I only used two cans of chicken stock and enough water to my tastes. I used the 4 poblano chiles, which I blackened on the stovetop. I also used about 3/4 cup of chiles Japones (Japanese chiles). They are small red chiles and added some heat. I followed the preparation of the red chiles from the second recipe and set the sauce aside to add to the mix when I got everything in the pot.  I also decided to make the green chile separately rather than cooking everything in the pot, then pureeing part of it. I didn’t strain. I cut the husked tomatillos into quarters and put them into enough water to barely cover them and simmered them for a bit, these went into the blender with their water and the poblano chiles, garlic, and salt. I set this aside, along with the red chile, until I had cooked the pork and veggies and then brought everything together into the pot to simmer. I didn’t do the nacho surprise…maybe next time if I need a change.
We topped our stew with shredded cabbage and lime juice. We also had an avocado on the side. This was a delicious posole that I will definitely add to my repertoire of recipes. There was enough flavor from the chiles and other ingredients without needing those extra cans of stock; and the heat was great.
That was Sunday. The momentum continues!
And I might add to the quote and say that, “All true love is grounded in esteem and good food.”

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Pull to the Page

The page has been pulling at my sleeves, 
with letters, words, sentences, but also with lines, 
circles, and doodles. It's a familiar feeling of wanting to draw something–
to sketch my dreams and the images that form,
from below the surface, yet as my cycle goes, 
I have moments of glee and moments of frustration, disappointment. 
It's good for me, though; good to be challenged in a new way; 
and when I surrender to the process, I feel something–

I see something speaking to me in a way that makes me want to know more.

Ink and watercolor pencils

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I sat in the grass


I sat in the grass,
felt the warmth
on my toes, when
an Angel presented
me with a porcelain
figurine–an image of herself.
She held her hand out, and said,
"Come, go. You are free."


When I finished writing this one, I felt that it was a gift, a small little gift from the Universe. It made me feel calm and at peace; and even now, as I type it out, and listen to the words, I am filled with that same sense of peace that I felt when I reached the last word.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Decluttering & Magnetic Poetry

I’ve been doing some decluttering. It’s never easy to let go of things, and I always think that I’m going to get rid of more than I actually do. I talked hubby into allowing me to bring one more shelf into the house and to buy one short cube shelf for the closet because I’ve just run out of space for all the clothes that I’ve accumulated, mostly pants and cute tops that I’ve found at the second hand stores. Everything is started to look a lot neater. There was a bag that has been laying around, stuffed with pages out of calendars that I wanted to save because they had great quotes or good books. I finally sorted through that bag, mostly old receipts that I don’t need and other pieces of paper that needed to go. 

It’s amazing how much stuff we actually accumulate in our lifetimes. I don’t want to be a hoarder; I don’t want to collect things that I forget about and lock away in boxes that I only open every now and then. 

I keep trying to consolidate and let go of more books that are packed away in the garage. I did let go of some. I donated a box of children books and a few other books and some other miscellaneous items. I had hubby bring three boxes inside, so that I could go through them and hopefully detach from some of the things inside and possibly donate some. I came across my tin of words from the magnetic poetry kits that I bought some time ago. We used to keep all the words–or almost all of them on the refrigerator and we’d take turns making up silly sentences or endearing ones too. When we moved, I took them all down and put them in their tin box, leaving them stored away in yet another box in the garage. 

I took the tin out and randomly chose a few words, tried to string them together. I decided that maybe I would do this every day and write down what I came up with. The first day, I stuck to the words that I picked; the second day, I added some prepositions; the third day, I did the same as the second, but didn’t feel that I needed to use all the words, especially since many of them would’t have been useful in that instance; on the fourth day, I felt like I was loosening up and added to the words because the words I chose, created an image in my mind and the result made me smile inside because it was silly. 

It’s been fun and zen-like, my morning meditation. I haven’t yet selected my words for this morning, but I think I will when I’m done writing.

Only night must question truth.

This made me start thinking about nighttime and darkness and how we often find truth within the dark moments in life, how the dark illuminates and becomes light.

born under the 
weight of the velvet

The present lingers on
like the warmest day.

“Remember,” said the feline,
“the remedy is to recover.”

I swallowed curiosity and 

spit it back out.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Rainy Day in February

Rain slaps down on the hoods of cars, while short Palm trees, in their brick enclosures, swing around–as though they are taking in a good scream from the wind. Other more delicate plants flail in their pots. I look out the window. 

Japanese lanterns spin around less violently, enclosed by the outside overhang, bringing my attention to those lanterns adorned with images of Japanese women in traditional Japanese robes; the other lanterns covered in flowers, black and red orchids. 

I look down at my bento box lunch, thinking how neat and tidy and lovely to have so many compartments, organized in such a way as to make the contents each have their own place–each component adding to the beauty of the whole.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Journal ~ Cold be Gone & Buddha Cat

Cold virus is lingering. In the last stages. Still coughing. 16 days. Too long. One week in, conjunctivitis (aka pink eye) in right eye, start treatment; pink eye in left eye, more treatment. Two days off work, plus one day of being sick the week before. Missed two of three night classes in a row. Worried. Thought of dropping, emailed the instructor several times. Me, being wishy-washy: one email, I'm telling him I'm dropping the class, missed too much; next email, once I've re-thought things over and got encouragement from hubby, I tell the teacher I don't want to drop, I'll stick it out only having one absence left. Still kept up with the reading, did the homework, emailed it in. Had already emailed one homework before I got really sick. He read all of my emails and responded with my last question to email my late homework. Other class is online, didn't miss any classes.

Writing is one of my loves and even so, for some reason, with certain classes I get nervous. It's like it brings up old insecurities from 20 years ago even thought I've proven to myself that I don't need to be worried. Worrying is in my nature. So it was helpful when I received my homework back and I was on track. I was beginning to doubt myself. It's amazing how powerful the mind is and how it can take you to places you shouldn't be, how it can take you to the land of insecurity and self-doubt in one breath. It's a lifelong journey and in some ways, it's not such a bad thing. It provides perspective and balance.

Haven't been able to do pleasure reading, but the reading for both of my classes is interesting. It will be nice to get back to the other books too. One in particular: Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin. I want to finish the book before I see the movie.

Buddha Cat
Friendly neighborhood cat
entertaining himself, 
rolling around on the ground
completely submissive–
No fear
Happy laughing cat


Cat on a rock surrounded by bushes
at Kaiser
staring ahead,
suddenly leaps
scurries in and out
what is he after?
I walk over to the bush,
see him covered in leaves,
all but his head. 
I try to get his attention
with a cluck cluck sound, 
he looks up, then away,
too busy for me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

An October Visit

This is a short piece that I wrote in a short story writing class I took a couple of years ago. I remember that this was the assignment where the teacher, inspired by one of my favorite cooking shows: Chopped, provided us with four mystery baskets to choose from. Each had a writing ingredient. I can't remember the exact four or so ingredients that were in the basket I chose. I do remember a mood, possibly set in October, but that's about it. The other elements came from an experience and I tried to convey that feeling.

Yesterday this quote spoke to me; I'm going to place it where I can see it every day:

"Inspiration exists, but it must find you working." 
–Pablo Picasso

October Visit

Amanda washed off her hands and placed the carved pumpkin in a brown sack and headed out to visit her Aunt Rose and Aunt Vivian at Bluestone Retirement Community. As she pulled out of the driveway, she looked into the sky: clouds hung like heavy gray sheets, hugging the dry mountain peaks.

She rolled the window down, prepared to be alone with her thoughts. “I hope Aunt Rose is feeling better today,” Amanda thought out loud. The highway wasn’t crowded this Sunday afternoon. She let her thoughts drift into the breeze, into fields of dry grass that appeared stiff and stuck in place. She could feel the pierce of time looming low. She exited off the highway, took a few more turns, and pulled to the back parking lot of the Bluestone. 

When she walked inside, the light was dim as though it had been washed out. Oldsters pushed their walkers around, some wheeled themselves in wheelchairs, while others had assistance; some sat in the lounge area watching the television with a mix of alert and vacant faces. Nurses walked briskly past the slow moving oldsters. Finally, Amanda pulled herself away when she didn’t see her aunts and went into the facility’s ice cream parlor where she thought they might be. It wasn’t very crowded. There were a few circular tables with seniors seated around eating their chosen desserts. 

Amanda walked over to where she saw her aunts and noticed that Aunt Rose was eating while Aunt Vivian was not and wore a scowl on her face. Amanda felt a chill when she realized this would be a difficult visit. 

“Hello dear,” said Aunt Rose. “Sit down.”

“Hello Aunt Rose. Hello Aunt Vivian.” Setting the sack down on one of the empty chairs, Amanda pulled the pumpkin out and set it on the table. “Look what I brought you!”

Aunt Vivian turned her head and glared at the smiling pumpkin. “Hmmpf,” she said. 

“Oh, Viv, don’t be such a grump,” said Aunt Rose. “Thank you, dear. It’s lovely. You’ll have to forgive your Aunt Vivian. She’s having a day.” Aunt Rose took the last bite of her ice cream and dabbed her mouth.

“I thought it would add some cheer to your room. I hope you like it. It reminds me of when we used to carve pumpkins at your house.”

“There have been many adjustments since we’ve come to live here, dear—and well, it’s not the same as living in your own home and taking care of yourself.”

“I can only imagine how difficult it must be, Aunt Rose.”

“Well, dear, I think the adjustment has been especially hard on your Aunt Vivian—“

“It’s not home,” cut in Aunt Vivian with a slight snarl. “I miss my things. My home. My furniture. My independence. Bah!” Aunt Vivian waved her hand as if to wave away the ice cream parlor and to wave away Amanda and everyone there. She sat in her wheelchair with an unmoving pride on her face, stubbornness etched into her eyes. It seemed she wore the permanent mark of a struggle.

Amanda looked into Aunt Rose’s eyes and was comforted by the kind twinkle looking back into hers. She looked to Aunt Vivian and was only met with a cold icy feeling looking back. “I’m sorry that you feel so bad, Aunt Vivian. It must be difficult.” Amanda shuffled in her chair uncomfortably, trying to remain positive.

“It is, Amanda dear. I’m sorry to be so cold to you. It’s not you. Being old, losing your eyesight and hearing. These things are never easy to accept on top of losing your home—or rather not having the ability to stay in your home.”

“There, there, Viv, see I know you’ve got it in you to turn your scowl to a softer shade,” said Aunt Rose.

“I can’t control my moods, Rose. I’m not able to keep as upbeat as you. I don’t know why. I’m happy with the life I’ve lived. It’s just that when—“

“Aunt Vivian, remember when we all used to carve pumpkins…you always made the best one, with intricate details around the hexagonal eyes. It was as if your pumpkins would come to life and start speaking.”

Aunt Vivian’s eyes began to soften even more; she unfolded her hands and reached for the pumpkin that Amanda brought. Amanda pushed it over closer to her. “Yes, I do remember…my, my, it seems like so long ago. This is a nice pumpkin you’ve carved. Hearts for eyes and a four-leaf clover for the nose, how clever; and the mouth, why, it reminds me of a silly hill Billy with a missing tooth. Ha!” 

“Vivian, my goodness gracious, what has gotten into you.” Amanda and Aunt Rose look at each other and then they all start laughing. “Amanda, dear, would you like a scoop of ice cream, and since you’re so spunky all of a sudden, Vivian, maybe you’d like a scoop too?”

Amanda let out a quiet sigh of relief at Aunt Vivian’s change of mood. She had come to expect these ups and downs from Aunt Vivian. The two sisters began chit chatting, while Amanda’s thoughts were on the other topic she wanted to bring up, but had not. She didn’t want to spoil the mood. Maybe next time she would feel up to it.

“Dear…dear?, Amanda, dear…”

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

White Egret

White egret high in the twilight sky.
Wings wave against the brisk air.
With each wave of those great wings,
the cold chill inside yields, 
fills me with warmth. I keep my gaze 
on the twilight sky and this graceful creature,
as they fade into the distance.