Thursday, November 24, 2011

"Simple Surroundings Create Room For The Mind" from a Chinese Proverb

While visiting with Shannon and Elizabeth in San Francisco, we had occasion to sit in their living room both in the early morning and in the evening after the sun had set. We were struck by the beautiful light, the simplicity of the seating, and the sparseness of the space.
We decided that we, too, wanted to create a living space that would make us feel open, creative, and uncluttered. And so, these photographs are the result of our "clearing out" after we got home. Our living space can tend to get cluttered and unkempt because both Janet and I are voracious readers, have books and magazines everywhere, and indulge in various art projects all at the same time.
But we have found that a cluttered space clutters our brains. That we are not as creative either in thought or in deed when the space does not allow room for it. And so, we took the television and one recliner out of the living room. We also moved the reading material that often consumes us. We then rearranged the furniture and created a coffee table from two separate pieces that we had in the house.
We think we have created a space that fosters creative thought, conversation, and restfulness. We love it in the morning, at mid-day, and in the evening as the sun is setting on the back garden. From this space, we can watch the birds, the flowers, and the cows on the other side of the fence.
When we need a place of solace, we come here. When friends visit, this is where we sit. It is an eclectic blend of many different furnishings and styles but we don't care. It accomplishes for us what we set out to do. And as the title states, "Simple Surroundings Create Room for the Mind". We love it.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Things Greater Than We Are

These images are but a few of all that we saw on our trip out west. I have selected these for today because being in the midst of these, I felt my own smallness and insignificance in the world. I think it's really important to realize, on occasion, that we are not in charge of the world; that to believe so is delusional; and that we need constant reminders of this fact.

The photograph above was taken at Yellowstone National Park and is one of many bubbling pools that exist in the park. These pools are a constant reminder that there is life right beneath the surface and that we cannot control it.

This was taken at Patrick's Point on the Pacific Coast in California. This view is hidden but just right beyond the parking area at Agate Beach. Once you walk a ways and turn a corner, this gorgeous site is what you see. Standing on the edge and looking down is an experience to be remembered. How small did I feel that day?
And then there was this guy. While he appears to be standing alone, he was a part of a herd of about 150 bison crossing the road at Yellowstone.
And finally, this is the trunk of an upended redwood tree in the redwood forests of California. It was mammoth --lying on its side gathering lichen.

I really believe that whenever someone gets full of themselves, they need to be taken to see the bison, the bubbling pools, the upended redwoods, and the view at Patrick's Point. Puts everything into perspective.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Just An Ordinary Day in Paradise

I'm of the mind that one shouldn't really complain a lot on a blog. Folks don't really want to hear all about negative stuff. However, I have just had it with Bright House network. Since January, when I decided to go digital, I have had problems with my televisions. The digital boxes have been a pain, having to be re-programmed anytime the power goes off or the tv gets unplugged. I've had to use two different remotes, which is annoying, and this week, when I disconnected the digital box in the living room, the television in the bedroom turned off.

This story could get very long and monotonous. However, cutting to the chase, I had both digital boxes removed. I really don't care that my picture is a little grainy--we can't see that well anyway. The entire world is a little grainy if you ask me. I don't care that I can't get OWN network anymore. I thought I could not live without Oprah but the truth is, I will be just fine, thank you very much.

We made a conscious decision to take the television out of the living room in order to create an area that encourages conversation. We have removed the television cabinet, rearranged the furniture, and are very excited about the way the room looks. We feel a certain sense of freedom no longer having to worry about our digital cable boxes and when they will decide not to work. We are back to only one remote that we understand.

It's been an extremely busy week. We have rearranged the house, made arrangements to have the house painted the week after Thanksgiving, are having new hardware installed on two exterior doors, and are re-thinking our landscaping to make it less labor intensive. We have ordered an additional rug for the living room area and are waiting to have some furniture picked up to consign at a store downtown. Good thing we went on a long trip because we don't know how to relax here at home. On the bright side though, we took the bicycles to the shop today for a tune-up and new tires. Look out! There will soon be two old women on the loose on mountain bikes somewhere in Ocala.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Early Rising

I have always been an early riser. I don't know how one becomes such but I just cannot sleep late. It may be because my mother never let me sleep past seven on weekends or maybe because my body rhythm is wired like that. And so I sit here in the early morn, before light has broken across the sky, catching up on the happenings that occurred while I was sleeping.

My friend Elizabeth wrote a blog about her morning routines and rituals and how they have comforted her no matter where she has lived. I find that I, too, am comforted by my morning rituals and routines as I'm sure we all are. When I was still working, I would allow myself extra time in the morning to take a walk in the garden. When my children were still small and in school, I would wake up at least thirty minutes earlier than anyone in the house. I would make coffee, get myself a cup, and sit by the front window and watch the sun come up. It was "my" time and I treasured it.

I like walking through the house when no one else is awake. I love the smell of coffee as is brews in the pot. I wait for the first sound of the birds as they make their way to the feeders each morning. And I walk in the garden.

Sometimes, I sit on the back steps and just watch everything come to life. Sometimes, I read. But always, always, I take it slowly. I don't like to be hurried in the morning. For me, it is the best time of day.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Some Favorite Places Along the Way

The Basque Market in Boise, Idaho. A place that took us back in time to the Basque settlers that came to Idaho. My family is from northern Spain so the food from the market and history in the museum were wonderful for me.
The olive grove and vineyard in Hopland, California. A beautiful place with awesome wine and olive oil.
The vineyards along the way in wine country.
The Farmer's Market in Portland, Oregon.
The Pacific Ocean seen while driving along the Pacific Highway.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


We are home and happy to be back in our little digs. I always say that one of the wonderful things about going away is coming back. It always gives me an appreciation of my home and space and, while modest, seeming luxurious after living for two months in our little trailer. Even Cocoa loves being back in her place. When she realized we were home, she ran to the back door and ran circles around and around in her backyard pen. She is back in her favorite chair and remembers all of the routines that result in treats.

We spent yesterday unpacking all of the food from the trailer. Today, we will probably unpack the laundry and bedding.

The Honda has a dead battery even though we had a friend come and start it two or three times per week. However, the birds were taken care of and the lawn is cut and trimmed so everything looks beautiful. It's hard to believe that while we were driving our eight thousand miles, the weeks were making their way toward Thanksgiving. The holidays are upon us, aren't they? It's really easy to be separated from reality on a long trip. It will take me a few days to ease back in to the routine of "now".

In the meantime, I will be out in the garden with my coffee, talking to the birds and the plants. Later, I will begin the weeding......a mindless task that gives me "think" time. Right now, the sun is coming up, the dog is asleep in her chair, and I'm making my second trip to the coffee pot. It's good to be home.