Here and There

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Got the Advent Blues?

Sometimes, when it's advent and you're feeling keenly the Not Yet Come parts of the whole thing, you write a poem, you bake and make candy while praying, you watch this video repeatedly.  There's nothing wrong with any of that.

Let me photograph you in this light...

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Port Costa

Looking back as we walked the ridge to Port Costa.
We took the most random, rewarding, strange hike on Saturday.  I have always been slightly intrigued by the town of Crockett near the Carquinez Bridge and this hike has you park at a trailhead/harbor in Crockett, walk just about a mile and a half along the strait full of Eucalyptus groves, golden hills and bridges, trains and boats and into the teeny tiny town of Port Costa.  You get to hike down into the town, and feel like you arrived there from far off and another time.  It was a little hot, and the kids were complain-y at first, but we got into a groove.

When we walked in we saw unique houses and gardens, some were junky, some were pristine.  You could tell the people who live here are ALL ABOUT IT.  We made our way down the main street till we came to the Warehouse Cafe, which was insane.  Full of trinkets and junk and hanging velvet curtains, old pieces of a theater, even broken revolving doors, photographs and newspaper bits, old woodwork, and even a taxidermy polar bear shot in 1965.  Wild.  We were spooked and tickled the whole time we were there.  It kind of was like The Old Spaghetti Factory mixed with Playland by the Sea...on crack.  Apparently if you go on a Sunday it's a big biker hang out.  But when we were there on Saturday it was pretty quiet.  I have to say, I was absolutely smitten with the place and it really grabbed my imagination.  I just loved it.  And the brown hills with no trees on the way back is one of my favorite landscapes.  Period.  I will go so far to say it is a spiritual landscape for me.

The walk back to Crockett was inland, steep brown hills all that way there were old falling down power line poles.  Creepy and cool.
Port Costa Wishing Tree.  Both girls wished to own farm animals.
Old photographs at the Bull Valley Roadhouse.  It looked amazing in here, but wasn't open yet for the day and Peter and I vow to go back.
Abalone hanging in the window at Bull Valley Roadhouse.
Down this alley was a printer who made all sorts of "naughty" old fashioned posters and postcards.  They were very hip.

Huge dried flower garlands were all over.
Old door at the Burlington.

Formally a Bordello, The Burlington Hotel also has a little bakery where we got some Port Costa honey, bottled by Earl, who keeps bees in the hills nearby and pound cake.
Inside the little shop in the hotel's building.  Like a perfect old fashioned kitchen.

The Warehouse Cafe built in 1879 as a grain warehouse when Port Costa was a ferry landing for the transcontinental railroad.  In 1930, a bridge was built in Martinez and Port Costa fell off the map.  It does feel frozen in time.


September Begins

Reading in the afternoon is a good leftover from Sabbatical.
Patting her back on the first day of school.

And now it all is poised to turn again, right?  A new season is on the doorstep, and you mostly see it shining under the door in the morning and the evening.  And that's how it always is when the season changes, in those moments when the sun is rising or setting, something gets amplified and the dustiness or the crispness or the brightness shows more truly and you know what's coming.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Mid August

 We visited the place we got married for a picnic last week.  Fun to see the kids running around there. 
 Lily and Mags played in the Godly Play classroom while I was preparing for my story and some very good GP work happened there.  Wow.  Anytime I see what children put together when left to it for awhile I have a new view of the world.  Literally.  Let's see, this one...The road the good Samaritan found the man who needed help, the priest at one end, the 3 blocks representing Pentecost, Easter and Christmas in the middle, the birds from the parable of the mustard seed on the other end, the circle of the church year, the dark places from the parable of the Good Shepherd sitting under the city of Jerusalem....whoah.

Bright dahlias for my summer child. 

Mid August means more Chronicles of Narnia reading,

rosé drinking, summer fruit eating, and practicing rhythms of rest/work/play.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Summer growth

Despite the drought, there is growth in the garden.  The grass is dead, and the vegetable garden is basically a few rogue pumpkins.  But the apricots were great, and the sweet peas I planted and mostly watered with bath water grew well.  It was so nice to have sweet peas by the window.  The smell floated in and they made these pretty shadows on the curtains.

Now, I see the end of July and see that here we are at the height of summer, really.  Peter is doing very well, I am working, everything seems to be a good summer groove.  How grateful I am for that normalcy.  How touched I am by the reality that we've found ourselves in...that Peter is well, can walk, can play guitar, can throw the kids up in the air.  It was all so gone for a minute there.

I don't know why and I can't say for how long, right?  So I am thankful for today and I am thankful for a strange mercy that spared us this summer.  Life is uncertain and many suffer.  I can hold only to what is certain.  God is love and love is stronger than any other force.  May I live my life renewed in love.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Hospital Poem

The thudding you heard for years on the other side, as you lay your head there on his chest--
Suddenly on a screen in front of you:
Sometimes fuzzy triangles, lined up in a row, diamonds dissected.
Sometimes elegant script, words in another language.
Sometimes hills and valleys, like a topographic map.
Sometimes in rushing sounds, sometimes a horse’s gallop, sometimes beeps.
Then the tech silences it or changes the view and you see a new interpretation.
You thought you knew about that heart more than anyone.
And now, here it is, jumping around there on the screen. 
It’s strange.  You are glad to see it, to know its look, how it acts.
In some ways, you always wondered…
And then in other ways, it feels like a hidden thing that should have stayed hidden. 

And the closest anyone would come to knowing it, would be you, with your head there on his chest.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Apricot Jam, End of June

The past few weeks have been a transition: "back to work" and "school's out for the summer" being the biggest reasons.  I have been challenged to hold it all loosely in order to keep my sabbatical lessons learned.  Taking time to be quiet.  Picking up a book in the middle of the afternoon with the sole intention to learn or enjoy.  Avoiding multi-tasking work tasks and family time specifically. 

Our apricot tree is full of fruit this year and I've been making jam.  Making jam seems like a lot of work, but it is very satisfying and only takes about an hour. Here's how I do it.

Apricot Jam

You need 8 half pint jars, with rings and lids.  A very large pot with a rack in it, or a canner. A funnel.  A few dishcloths.

8 cups of apricots,pitted and quartered.
6 cups of granulated sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice.

Get the water boiling in the canner, it takes a long time to come up to a boil.  Once it's almost boiling, put the jars in the water to get them sterilized.  In a smaller pot, boil the lids and rings so they are hot when you want to use them.  

Combine the apricots, sugar and lemon juice in another large pot.  Start it off at medium high heat and stir it a lot at first so the sugar doesn't burn.  Once the sugar is dissolved, stir occasionally.  Once it is at a rapid boil, let it go for about 15-20 minutes, stirring constantly at times, if it seems wild.  You want to keep it cooking at a high heat, not simmering.  To test to see if it is set, you can check temperature (220 degrees) or just take a spoonful out and let it cool.  Once the spoonful is cool you can kind of nudge it and look at it and just see if it looks like jam, or if it is still too liquidy.  Once it is set, take your jars out of the canner, keep the water boiling.  Fill each jar with jam, leaving about a half inch space at the top.  Wipe the rim with a slightly damp cloth and then place the lid and screw the ring on.  Not too tight.  After all the jars are lidded, put them all in the canner in the boiling water and let them process for 10 minutes.  Take them out of the boiling water and put them on a clean towel on the counter with space for air to circulate between the jars.  They will start to ping right away.  You can check to see if you have a good seal when the jars are cool by running your finger over the top of the jar.  If it is sucked in at the center and doesn't pop in and out, it is sealed.  If it didn't seal, just put it in the fridge and use it first.  With this method though, I've never had it not seal.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

"I Know It's Over never really began.  But in my heart, it was so real."  --The Smiths

Any time i think the words "it's over" I think of this song line.  One of my favorite songs.  And although this song has nothing to do with it, my sabbatical is over.  I just loved it.  I learned so much, I enjoyed myself so much. Even though I had barely written on this blog the last few years, I am so glad I documented the time here.  It has helped me to look back and see the snapshot moments of the time.    I have no idea who reads my blog, I think a few friends.  But putting it out there has been nice.  Maybe I will keep posting more.

On my last day of sabbatical, we went to Shell Beach in Tomales Bay.  It is an all time favorite place.  I love the short hike down.  It is so still and quiet when you are there at the edge of the water, barely a wave at all, and the cove is so sheltered. 

Maggie took a picture of me last week. 

One nice thing was reading A LOT the past few months.  So many great books and poems.  It's been fun to update my list of books for 2015 and see it grow longer and longer.  Some things I did more easily during the break, that I will need to practice at to keep in my life:  reading, yoga class, writing, less multitasking.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


I had so many great ideas for Pentecost.  When Sunday came though, we were sick, some of us had lice and we were not able to do anything other than watch movies and eat cookies.  On Monday we made a few sculpey creations, fires and a dove.  I put out the red fabric and that was it.  There was a drawing of a crab of Lily's that fit in with his orangeness.  And that was Pentecost this year.

I still feel inspired by the fire and the wind.  I am so enjoying this rare red that comes but once a year to the altar.  As I consider the long long season of ordinary time that approaches, I am thinking the lines:  "Green, green rocky road.  You promenade in green." from the old folk song.  How pretty is a promenade?  How rocky the path can still seem. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Big Sur

 Morning at New Camaldoli at the chapel.
 Golden hour at New Camaldoli.
As a sort of last hurrah I went on a retreat to the New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur.  Then the whole family came down and we went camping a little further south with CR and Zack.  I was glad CR was at the hermitage with me because it was unfamiliar and it was nice to have someone to whisper to every once in awhile.  But being there was so peaceful and I would love to go back.

I wrote, I slept and I read All the Light We Cannot See in it's entirety.  A good 5 days of nature and words and s'mores. 

I don't remember ever going to Big Sur before, ever going further south than Point Lobos, and it was so beautiful and vaguely nerve wracking to be so high up, so close to all the edges.  It was a funny little place.  I thought the people there seemed so young.  Which was weird. I think I expected men with long white beards and ladies in long crinkle skirts?  All in all, it had a good vibe.  But one that felt kind of exclusive?  Or maybe just protected?  It made me want to read some Kerouac and remember what it was all about then.  Something is definitely still in the air, there.

I felt lucky, thinking about California and loving this place and living in this place.  It was peculiar, driving home I was remembering my childhood here and how the landscape, the random bridges, the weather, the font on the roadsigns, all of it feels like part of my own self. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Fully May

 Disneyland is such a happy place.  I love it.  We were lucky to be taken on a whirlwind weekend trip there and enjoyed it so much...

 Reading in the late afternoons on the couch with a piece of chocolate.

Mother's day/Emily's birthday picnic...heaven.  Fruit and flowers all warm in the sun...perfection. 

Soaking it up, baby.  Sabbatically speaking.

Another Sabbatical Poem, this one is from February, still rough though:

Sabbath/Storm and White Birds

A rare storm was coming in on Friday morning.

We stared west and watched it,

standing on the sidewalk, the wind raking over us.

The seagulls hovered,

Impossibly bright,

glowing white against that grey curtain.

It was stunning.

I stood with my hand shading my eyes, like I was staring toward the sun.

It never even rained that day and it was still coming in on Sunday when I sat in the wooden chair out back looking straight up this time watching the clouds.

Masses and masses of grey and white all moving quickly north.

The gulls were letting themselves drop and rise with the wind. Just freewheeling it.

I remembered him saying: “I think I actually have a pretty good idea of what flying would be like. I think my dreams are so vivid that I know what it would be like if I could fly.”

“So do I”, I said. “So does everyone. Everyone has those dreams, so we can all imagine it.”

We all have a pretty good idea of what it would be like. I can imagine it without much effort, almost like I’m remembering doing it.

So I just closed my eyes and the storm that was coming kept on coming until it passed us by, but I imagined what it would be like if it actually did storm and it was almost like remembering it.