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Monday, August 29, 2016

Summer's End

Packing is in progress. Soon we will be back at the apartment in town and preparing for the next nine months of study.

I spent the last relaxing morning at the beach house watching the birds; chickadees and red-wing blackbirds, ducks and herons, hummingbirds and the kingfisher pair as they announced their presence with their funny machine-gun call all drew my attention. As I sip my coffee and swing on the deck, I drink in the fresh air, the sound of the distant crashing waves, and the gardens where all our hard labor can be seen. We have done so much this summer, but it seemed to go all too fast.

I really want to record a snapshot of life this summer, if for no other reason than my later reading. When I am buried deep in the struggle of Latin and agonizing over researching my capstone, I want to be able to just sit and remember this summer. It has been a memorable one.

Since summer seems to be the season to read, we read. Oh yes…we read! We started the summer with the fabulous book by Ki Longfellow entitled The Secret Magdalene (extremely well-researched historical fiction). This is a must read for anyone who is willing to be challenged with a different perspective on very well-known material. This book quickly became the favorite book of my adulthood and one I will be re-reading for my own pleasure. I immensely enjoyed the virtual experience of stepping into the time period I have studied for so long. It was surprising, stunning, unexpected, and familiar…all at the same time.

Another book that was a fascinating and introspective read was The Path, by Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh. I gained a huge amount of insight and knowledge from this brief investigation of Chinese philosophers and their ideas. Excellent writing. I suggest reading it with a good friend so you can bounce thoughts off of each other. So good.

Dan Harris, of television mainstream media fame, has written a book that we totally enjoyed, as well, called 10% Happier. This is a rather light and entertaining read that documents his experience of being an anchor on a major network as well as his journey and practice of meditation. Really fun. And, from this book, we are in the process of reading two mentor-authors he recommended – Mark Epstein (Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart) and Joseph Goldstein (Insight Meditation, The Practice of Freedom). Both are gems, however, I prefer the Goldstein book as it is concise and very chewy, if you know what I mean. The book to get if you really are looking for some mentorship. Epstein’s book has a lot of information and interweaving of psychoanalysis, since that is his specialty, which is a bit more tedious and academic, but informative and definitely worthwhile.

In addition to these selections, we are working our way through a new book by Judith Freeman called The Latter Days. It is written very well and is quite revealing about the culture surrounding the LDS Church. Oh, and I can’t forget the one that has changed my health and lifestyle permanently – The FastDiet. Yeah…it is neither a fast nor a diet, but it is something we adopted immediately. Our health and eating have been altered in such good ways – I highly recommend this book. I strongly believe that whatever method one chooses to lose weight or maintain fitness/health, that level of commitment (or sometimes even greater) has to be maintained in order to keep the weight off or maintain the same level of health. So, if one goes on Weight Watchers to lose weight, they have to stay on that program indefinitely to maintain the weight loss. Or if one works out intensely and drinks meal replacement shakes in order to lose the pounds, that has to be maintained indefinitely in order to stay at that weight. However, if one makes easy changes such as are suggested in The FastDiet, health will improve and weight will come off slowly but steadily without immense effort. Truly. The authors of the book are Dr. Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer – good writing, good medical information, quick read, straightforward and enjoyable. I kid you not when I say that I have dropped 1-2 pounds a week this summer. Slow and steady wins the race! And, reversing the gaining trend I was in is a good thing. I no longer feel helpless, but empowered!

Enough of that…

For visual stimulation this summer, we absolutely loved watching the BBC production of I, Claudius, in preparation for my Latin studies this coming fall. I can’t say enough good things about Derek Jacobi and the other cast that are featured in this series. So very good. We also watched some Star Wars, of course, and Must Love Dogs, which I didn’t care much for…kinda meh, in my view.
In the midst of all that, we road tripped this summer! We started with a trip to Victoria BC, then added an impromptu vacation in Sun Valley, ID. We loved day tripping to Whidbey Island and Coupeville for the Art Festival, Portland for the Saturday Market, Long Beach for the Kite Festival, Westport for Pirate Days, Centralia for awesome antiquing and (always) shopping, Neah Bay for Makah Days and hiking, and Astoria and the Oregon Coast because it is the most awesome place ever. We also played in our own town festivals - Bikers at the Beach, Sand & Sawdust, Antiques & Collectibles, Beachcombers Fun Fair, and Shoppin’ at the Shore. We listened to Celtic bands at our local Irish pub, rode our bikes until our behinds were sore, kayaked up and down the canal, took long walks through the neighborhood, and filled our pockets with beach treasures from hours of beachcombing.

Closer to home, Chuck build a carport and a greenhouse – both valuable additions to our property. We landscaped and gardened, cooked, cleaned and organized, planned and re-planned. And we relaxed…I know, it doesn’t sound like it, but we did. We planned and created a space for a fire pit, then had s’mores until we were sick! We sat in our hanging deck chairs and then nursed sunburns. We chased deer out of the yard, lamented the moles and bamboo, and watched the ducks teach their young how to navigate the canal. And watched the birds…always watching the birds.

Which brings me back to the beginning of this post. As I sat with my coffee this morning watching the birds, I could still could see snatches of an early morning dream. It was a rather disturbing dream, where a small girl with long blond hair is running along a bridge that covers an abyss. I can see the girl and I am calling to her, but as I watch she slips through the broken slats of the bridge and falls into the abyss and gets swept away. I call to her and try to get help, but I am told that it just is what it is…

School starts next week. I wish I could say that there is not anxiety here, but that would be a lie.
It is what it is. Done is what had to be done. And I am thankful that we were privileged to be together for this summer – myself, my beloved Chuck, my bestie Lisa, and my amazing and funny teenager, Taylor. We really had a good summer.

Happy fall, everyone.







Monday, June 27, 2016

All About the Greenhouse!







the Maker!








Wednesday, June 15, 2016

As Promised...More Pics!


Replacing decades-old sword ferns was no small feat, but between Lisa and Chuck, they are gone!
Replaced with a sweet boxwood (someday) hedge and corsica mint ground cover. We chose
hellebore for the bed under the bedroom windows. We love the solar path lighting, too...
it creates starburst patterns on the sidewalk at night. Lovely!

See? That lawn has got to go! Eventually...
We call this the 'island of misfit toys' because all the plants that don't seem to work
in other places get put out here. Surprisingly, they seem to thrive! Maybe it is the
succulents cheering them on... :-)

here is a good shot of the carport, and the handsome maker :-)

the greenhouse is taking shape in the distance! In the foreground of this shot is a lovely little bed
discovered after removing the overgrown Lithodora.
I chose a variegated boxwood and Ajuga (black scallop) ground cover.
One thing I have learned is what plants the deer do not eat. 

The red maple is faring well - I was pretty nervous about the deer munching, but so far, so good!
This is the aroma-therapy garden: lavender, oregano of all sorts, lemon thyme, sage, scads of rosemary,
and oh so much mint! We have peppermint, chocolate mint, and regular mojito mint!

yeah...insetting those flagstones is no small task! So many still to go...

The bulk of our work so far this summer has been removing decades-overgrown plants, including
this pokey-plant that was close to 7 ft tall, and a barberry bush as tall as me, with barbs almost an inch long.
This space is going to be a small patio for our small firepit and benches for roasting marshmellows!

The rock garden has been transformed into our meditation garden! Removed a giant heather
and replaced it with this sweet Korean pine grown by a local organic gardener. 


I am absolutely loving playing with all the succulents in the garden. All the growing things give me hope, even in the face of national tragedies and downright depressing realizations about the reality of our culture, society, and country. Even still, the plants take the sunlight and sweet rain water and magically grow taller, stronger, and more miraculous each day. I can lose myself just walking and sitting in the garden, watching the wind play with the grasses and the birds flitting from perch to perch looking for seed. Yes...that gives me hope in tomorrow.



Back at the Beach - Summer 2016 commences!

Do you read the last chapter of a book prior to starting? Well, I am one of those infuriating souls that do just that, so I will start with this:

The bottom line: No, I cannot blog during the school year.

I know, no brainer. But my last post was August of last year! So, what have we done since that time? Well, I started school in September, attended the Celtic Music Festival (which was awesome) in October, took the mid-winter breaks down here, and also spring break. Amazingly, even during breaks, I am still reading class material and prepping for studies. Nope  - no time for blogging.

I was out of school the end of May. Then we went to Victoria BC, which was fabulous! Here is a few of the pics we snapped:

We walked, talked, laughed, shopped, stayed in a lovely B&B, had tea, tried poutine, took a harbor tour, visited the museum, bought books, checked out Craigdarroch Castle, walked through the Empress, met Roger the Marmot, were amazed at Butchart Gardens, and didn't want to come home. 

Then, we came down to the beach for the summer. And, I have to say that it has taken me a good three weeks to relax! We have been madly doing projects in the yard, but that isn't very relaxing. Satisfying, but not relaxing. Today is the first day that I am left to my own thoughts. 

The weather has been typical, so we dodge raindrops periodically. The flower beds are looking glorious, and the seagulls found another house to roost on (thankfully!). We were able to get a new roof on the house this past (late) winter, and are planning on painting later this summer. Chuck has been very busy building a carport-shelter for Taylor's trailer (which is now completed) and is diligently working on a greenhouse-potting shed. Lisa and I revamped the front beds and we have decided to asphalt the grass and gravel driveway, since the grass doesn't grow except in the gravel drive. Ugh! That expense will have to wait a bit, however, but that is the ultimate plan.

So, for the purpose of recording, here are some photos:


I am in the process of insetting these flagstones to make a path through some grass that refuses to behave.

Chuck is hard at work building a greenhouse-potting shed for our ongoing gardening endeavors - can't wait!
You can kinda see the carport at the back of the pic that he is now using for a workshop.

newest garden decor...

I love supporting the local artisans - the gentleman who makes these replicas of
pilings and seagulls is a real North Coast character!

workin' on that lavender for my dear friend Kevin

haven't grown peppers for decades - I had forgotten how much I love growing things!

More local art - you can see chainsaw bears all over the coast, but these are especially cute.
This one is showing his love of Greece!

Alyssum seeds sprouting!

flowering thyme makes me smile

And here is Jack...or is it Martha? They were pretty ticked that we replaced our
roof with material that wouldn't sustain their nest. 

One great thing about being on summer break is that I get to cook!
Trying new recipes and eating healthy is one of my favorite hobbies.
This was our lunch today - grilled teriyaki veggies (zucchini, pineapple, pepper, mushrooms, onions) on the ancient grain farro drizzled with Greek olive oil and the balsamic vinegar we brought back from abroad. So yummy!
I have more pics to share, but this post is getting really long! I'll close out for now, and share more pics of our improvements at the beach house in the next post!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Just a little 'Body and Soul'

This Saturday, since August drizzle kept me away from a beach walk, Lisa and I decided to check out the 'Body and Soul' Festival. I have never been to a psychic fair before, so this was a whole new experience for both of us!

Tarot card readers, astrologists, psychics, nameologists and experts in magic and alchemy were all well represented. I completely enjoyed the warm, welcoming, and friendly atmosphere. I can easily see why this festival has been popular for 8 years!

I learned some things from a couple of experts and indulged in this wonderful gazing ball you see in the photo. No, it is not crystal, and it is not for seeing into the future. It is for meditation and just for plain ole coolness! It is made of clear leaded glass instead of cost-prohibitive crystal. I have always been fascinated with rocks and crystals; this was a great opportunity to not only see a lot of interesting crystals, but to hear what is understood about their healing powers.



A little alchemy for the Star Child
I could say quite a bit about what I have heard about people who are interested in these types of spiritual beliefs. However, I found this festival to be lighthearted and fun. No demons or devils laying in wait here...only smiles, information, and help for those who attended.

The Oregon Coast...because.

On the deck at the Embarcadero

Chuck and I had a wonderful time enjoying the summer weather down in Newport, Oregon. Three days and two nights of sunshine, blue skies, unique shops and good food makes for a nice addition to my summer vacation!

This view is the best in Newport








Heceta Head Lighthouse

Sunday, July 26, 2015

More Summer Snaps

one of the very attentive gull parents keeping track of where we are

in remembrance of my favorite prof, Despina, who had a lovely
Greek oregano bush on her balcony in Athens

the pallet herb garden

good wishes sent out on the wind

vintage bottle mobile

re-purposing these beautiful bench armrests