Monday, December 23, 2013

Friday, December 6, 2013

Everyone is trying to Figure Out what's Good for them...

Bread comes up in a lot of conversation lately. Not all bread is created equal and apparently not all people do well eating bread and I know everyone has to find what is right for them. I am not taking issue with to gluten or not to gluten...

Grandma's Bread Platter

But coming upon Grandma's bread plate I found myself reflecting on how bread is one of the oldest foods in our world. Every culture has a variation.  Ah, the bread that has been shared over time...The word companion comes from the Latin  for com (with) and panis ( bread).

But we needn't be literal, bread  has come to mean sustenance, and yours may not be made from grain...but the hope and the prayer remain that mankind may rightly win his bread and protect the ancient gifts of this earth while so doing.   And that there be real bread enough for everyone.

....Give us this day our daily bread...

with best wishes,


Saturday, November 16, 2013

The World We're Building

I'm glad to be back in our house...glad to be back in Sonoma County.  Seven years is significant time to be away from an area that you've known for many years.  Out and about looking around I feel like the old aunt who comes to visit and says, "My, how you've changed."  

Impressions...sometimes they are good and sometimes they leave dents.

If only we would let creation impress more upon us, impress upon us the nature of beauty, the mandates of love, the limits of necessity and somehow too, the destructive nature of excess. 

I live in a morning house now.

Out on an errand recently, I saw in my rear view mirror the profile of a new casino built on a field that in its most fallow estate was yet a paradise.   I had heard the casino was big and I could see why it had generated great concern about accommodating  the traffic it would generate; the parking lot was enormous, and I could only see part of it. 

I myself was making my way back from a big box store having been told it was the only place those simple (old fashion) roll down shades would be offered.  Even then, the version I found was not all that much like what I remember.  I rarely frequent such stores, the sheer array of merchandise overwhelms me.  People need things, but not all we have glittered up has purpose, even if we grant a certain amount of whimsy just to delight.

I reminded myself to  watch my own purchases and decisions and participation and try to have a voice in the many decisions being made. I see that it is our land-rock, soil, water, and air, as well as our civic premises, our social framework, that we are changing.

What might be built here some day?

While I'd caught only a glimpse of this casino I'd  heard so much about;  fought over from its inception, built in the years I've been gone, a glimpse was enough. for me. I'd signed a petition questioning the wisdom of it way back when.  It was allowed because indigenous tribes have the authority to govern themselves under different guidelines as a "domestic dependent nation." I thought about how old a story land- and people- abuse is, and how wrongs, once done, are hard to right...generations later consequences continue to unfurl.

And aren't a lot of consequences unforeseen or unintended?  I felt a little blue. Casinos on farmland that had been protected by the Williamson Act in my rearview mirror and on the radio news of tyranny and tragedy in distant lands and closer to home health insurance confusion aplenty.

There are many strange edifices being built and modified on the fly these days. If we create edifices of concrete or edifices of law that fundamentally  change the landscape, later repair or remodeling is likely to be only cosmetic.  As I heard one man say on the radio, "the toothpaste is already out of the tube."   A simply analogy, but sometimes simple is really what we need to get us to stop and see if what we are creating is truly an asset, a worthy addition to things as they are because we may not ever be able to put it back as it once was.

Recently treated as guest in the Green Music Center, another large building also built during my absence from the northland, I watched the members of an orchestra, as their rendition of a composer's music filled the room.  I was reminded how much orchestral music depends on attention, on ready waiting, how essential timing is; you play your part in the given time.   When composers, and the musicians who keep their creations alive, reflect the impressions creation has had upon them, music can  stir those questions about God and man and this world we are rattling around in. 

If I want to see the sunset, I have to go looking, but for a sunrise, I just have to wake up.

What's a soul to do in this world?  I think of my life and the lives of family and friends, how many life decisions and choices and the difficulties they have created must be accepted as part of the landscape now. Regrets can't add much to the future, they aren't a pure fuel; the energy for the future needs both foundation and vision. 

What did I know in my wandering youth?  I set out searching...but what did I know to search for? Love, faceless and dimly defined, was the ready answer. I wasn't really anticipating the larger unfolding  picture. 

 When Jesus said his command was summed up in love he also told his friends that he had much to tell them that they were not yet ready to receive or bear. That often rings true for me,  but the  command to  "Love one another"   sounded  simple enough. Yet I find it is taking a life time to learn about love, and it's complicated by the fact that in the world, when it comes to love, there are many "lawless" amongst us.  And as one dear friend recently said, she is overwhelmed just hearing about everything that is going on.

I know, it's a lot of thoughts and impressions to toss your way,  from my driving around my old homeland, checking out the local stations on the radio, peeking in my rear view mirror and thinking about how to go forward... but it helps me to remember I would do well to simplify, and then ascertain and focus where I can have influence.  We've got the permit to build what we want, but not everything we can do is needed or beneficial.

If only we would let creation impress more upon us,
 impress upon us the nature of beauty, 
the mandates of love, 
the limits of necessity
 and somehow too, 
the distracting and destructive nature of excess. 

with love,


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cedar Waxwings stop to eat all the Holly Berries

These happy birds 

come  daily to dine on the  Holly Berry Tree.   These birds are fast flitters, they don't sit long or still and I was really meaning to be unpacking boxes so I didn't dedicate too much time to photos, but like many opportunities in life, it is one of those seasonal events that will suddenly be over. 

A blogger in Texas who calls herself Wayside Wanderer, her name inspired by this quote she shares: Never lose the opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God's handwriting - a wayside sacrament. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
asked me what kind of tree was pictured in my previous post and it reminded me that I had tried to capture a few pictures of the birds in the same tree. 

I remember the first time these feasters got my attention.

  When we first moved to this house in the late eighties, one fall day I pulled into the driveway and saw that the Holly tree, much smaller then, was bouncing with 30 or 40 birds. The crested head, black mask and yellow belly helped me to identify them.

They are  Cedar Waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum)  and once they have systematically eaten all the berries ( they start at the top of the tree and work their way down) I probably won't  see them around here.

The Audubon description of the bird mentions that they have a yellow terminal tail band and this little fellow turned around and showed me  that he does indeed have such a band.

Audubon also says that berries are their main food source in winter, but they revert to fly catching in milder seasons.  No flies on the menu this week...they are drunk with bright red berry juice.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bare Bones Anatomy of a Move

There is a great antidote to times like these...when you've rolled up the rug and  are packing up and saying good-byes and wondering how you ever got so many books 

and what box you put the aspirin in..

                                         You just leave your drawers on the floor...the desk was already in the truck...and your keyboard  perched on a cardboard box

and let someone you had only met via her blog take you for a lovely walk in a canyon you have never been in before.

Nothing to do here but to wonder at the forces that shape our world...the winds off the Pacific can topiary even the Redwood trees.

                                       Yes, thank you Katie and blessings to Steve's memory.

 But back at the ranch ( think seahorses) ... that truck is be filled to the gills and not everything we had to pack would fit in a box.  Klaas had gifted us with plants that had grown big and beautiful and we didn't want to leave those behind.

Fortunately we didn't pack alone.  David and Susan came armed with  boxes and wrapping paper and know how!

Blago got back in town just in time to make one more amazing dinner for us on the fire in front of the cottage.

Jeanette not only squeezed me onto her busy acupuncture calendar but came over after work to take a walk with me.

 Bashar, who is very dedicated to the new World Education University,  came and sat on the cliff with us.

The ever faithful Faisal hosted us at his and Bashar's restaurant, wonderful Dametra.

Bonnie and Steve met us for a lunch  out at Jeffrey's.

Artist Daria braved our rough stone paths bearing her energy giving chocolates.

 Debi and Stan stopping by with yet another present after a lovely tea in their home.

Angel helped us constantly and then his beautiful wife Victoria showed up with homemade tamales.

Yes, you all helped us to get on our way, but ironically it is also you who made it hard to leave...and yet...

                                 On Tuesday October 1st  I followed Mark who was driving the big truck, northward bound. We left  Carmel around 4:30 pm.  Our first stop was Inspiration Point on Highway 280  where we  watched the sun set over the Crystal Springs Reservoir but

we couldn't  linger as the rest stop we really needed was one exit north.  So we stopped again and that's where I broke out Daria's chocolates; I don't think I could have driven much farther without them!  

No more stops after that, but a moving truck is slow way to travel. It was after 9 pm when we pulled into the inn behind the old train station in Sebastopol.  We'd be ready to face the next stage of moving in the morning, but for the time being all we could manage to do was sleep...and we did!  In the morning we watched the sunrise above the mountains to the east of us, got coffee and drove the last little way home.

                                       It's overgrown and a little worn down in some respects, being the man who fixes everything hasn't lived here for seven years, but we are oh-so- happy to be back in our own little house.

And the weather has been so lovely that even though we aren't all unpacked we keep running outside to do a little gardening.

So that's it ...just  the bare bones of course...but I've kept you from your own glories long enough for today.

best wishes!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Seven Years by the Sea

There are times where it is much more likely for me to share here if I just plunge in and type as if I am not going to post anything...not even a photograph of some pretty scene like this...

Years of hand written journals,rarely shared with anyone, have created a deep demarcation in me. While it helps me to write I don't necessarily expect anyone else to find it interesting or helpful. There really are a number of roadblocks to my popping up posts; there is propriety, privacy, and...hmmm...there must be other descriptors that probably also start with a "p."  

Yes, in this world of divergent views it is easy to wonder about  "political correctness" ( I'll just leave that one sitting there in quotes...)
and of course there is the question of profundity or more likely the lack thereof. 

I often ponder the pain I see going on in our world, the lack of peace and prosperity so many experience but I don't want to simply remind others of what they also know. How to touch the giant troubles with purpose, how to inspire each other to make the world a safer and happier place ...? 

The other day four very kind neighbors, retired people, a doctor, two nurses and a military officer and expert in defense, spent the afternoon with my husband and me... they gave us a little good-bye party as we prepare to leave our job here and move home. The way they spend their free time is humbling.  Many hours are being devoted to others by these four people alone. Meals are being delivered to shut-ins, rides given to doctor visits, letters are written to  elected officials, efforts are made to understand the dilemmas of the times, docent duties are under taken for educational programs, bereavement ministry services are manned and  hospital patients are visited with therapy dogs,  (yes, even their dogs are helping!).   I'm encouraged by who they each are.

I'm reminded that the world is a complicated place and yet  simple responses are ever so helpful and they are what one can do while pondering what else can be done...when the headlines make you feel blue...

What we are doing right now is moving...and the bird house and the kitty cats are going too. 

  For seven years we have lived on an astounding  cliff

above the Pacific Ocean in a cottage from which we stewarded the gardens and oversaw the visitation of the other houses. 

It was much work. It was good.  It also feels good to be entering a new season.  While we return to our house where we lived for the 17 years prior to coming here, we know we won't be going back to things as they were. We are not quite the same ourselves.  But there is a sense of returning home after a long adventure. 

 As I wrote to another blogger who shares my love of nature, I  will miss the sudden spouts that alert me to watch for whales surfacing. I will miss the sounds of otters cracking open their dinner and miss spotting them on their backs in the beds of kelp.

 I will miss sighting the flash of dolphin fins and the orange of star fish clinging to the rocks.  I will miss the strands of pelicans flying over and the white egrets walking on the water in the groves of kelp. Seven years by the sea has been a lovely privilege and I have tried here on "bread on the water" to share the beauty of this place as a balm for others. 

Ironically, even though my watery neighborhood fits my blog name quite well, and many posts document seaside nature encounters, the inspiration for the name of my blog preceded living by the sea. In many ways the move we are about to make back up the road, north and a bit inland is just another response to the Word that tells us to "cast our bread on the water..."

I hope to post more often in the near future. I have hundreds of photos to organize and new -old vistas to capture and many thoughts to tease out and just maybe I'll type them up and deposit  them here rather than drop them in that drawer of files which I might also take the time to cull.  

But you'll understand if I disappear for a little while...yes? I hope so, because the little bit of sharing I have done here has meant a lot to me. I appreciate all of my readers, especially those of you that actually read to the end of my missives ( you must be one of those...) and those of you   who return to check up on me and leave comments and a trail back to the thoughts and pictures and hopes of your own lives.  

 So though I hope to be back when set up to post from a "new" location; for now it's time to pack it up!

with very best wishes! 

Friday, August 30, 2013

A Much Appreciated Rock

Recently I sent off a photo of this rock to an artist who had painted it after a visit here several years ago. 
She captured the rock  in one of its manifestations beautifully.  I mentioned to her that the rock and all the vegetation around it  has changed significantly since she had seen it and she asked me to send her another picture.  I took this one last week for her and then today I wandered around in my some- day-they'll- be- organized photographs and found a few more photos of this narrow rock  island in the southern cove. 

Looking south  in 2013

Rocks, substantial as they are,  change.  Over the last seven years I have watched the wearing down of this crop which sits centered in a tight cove with ocean lapping on both sides.  Tenacious cypress seedlings had worked their roots into fissures in the rock, growing, but miniature versions of the parent tree well rooted in soil on the cliffs above the cove.  Elemental forces, the winds, the rains, the crashing salty waves, the tremors of the earth and the roots of stunted trees  erode and weaken rock...and whatever strata is loosened or dislodged eventually slides and tumbles into the sea.

The first picture I ever took of the rock in 2006  looking south west.

In July of 2008 there was a ledge and we sat on it!

It seemed quite stable at the time.

I took this photo in a brief lull in a  storm 2008

The perch and several of the trees are gone. 2012


 One of its faces of beauty was well captured by artist Sunee Jines. 
Carmel Highlands' Mists (c) Sunee Jines
                                 Prints & cards available                                                    
   Monterey Peninsula Art Foundation
            425 Cannery Row, Monterey Ca. 93940
 phone 831-655-1267

 I have been captured seven years on these cliffs of beauty ever changing. Now a season of change is upon us, and we will soon part company with the rocks of these coves.  I have a trove of photos and memories, some already shared in posts in this blog, but I look forward to more exploring while I gladly carry an inner cache of much appreciated rocks and waters.  

Ever changing Beauty 2013


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Kitty in a Basket

It is really kitty in two baskets...

              I had just stacked one flower basket inside the other and set them down  and Phoebe soon found them just in time for a nap.  There's a lot I could learn from this girl.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Every Man...a Piece of the Continent

A few years back we hired an artist and a mason to fix two of the fireplaces in our employer's stone house on the cliffs above the ocean.

 Steve Gally was a friendly and very Central Coast independent kind of a guy whose talk was fast and far ranging, he was interested in the natural world and how to work with and in it, his community and people in general. He got to work when he got here and then he worked hard. He was so hyper-amped, so  excited about everything and so wanted to share, that I found myself somewhat overwhelmed by the boom of his presence, yet I always found him to have the best intentions.   

 After the job was over, he would stop by randomly with some  honey from his bees, or old veggies from the health food store that he would get for his chickens.  When he  ran into us in town he'd treat us as if we were long lost  and blurted out one day that even though we'd been customers, we were different...we were "like friends."

He told us both, more than once, that if  we ever needed any help, ever, ever, any time, to call him.

He had recently stopped by to invite us to walk with him on a ranch south of us.  He said he would be going by at least once a week  and we could come along anytime.  We looked forward to that, but that date won't  happen. We just learned that, Steve, 62 years old, died suddenly on  July 16th of natural causes at home in the garden sanctuary he was building with and for his lady, Jennifer. 

No man is an island,  entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were;  any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.  John Donne

We each have a flashlight he gave us for presents. I hope we shed a little light in his days too.  Man knows not his time.  May he rest in peace.

You can see  a glimpse of some of  the hands on doing and giving Steve was up to on Steve's blog.  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bad Photos of Beautiful Birds ...Can You Identify this Hawk?

As I sit at my desk the view directly out the window is of a little forest. 

                             On top of a 7.5 foot tree stump we set a bird house that  Mark made for his mother a number of years back.

Thus far, no one has moved into the birdhouse in its new location,  but this squirrel frequently uses the gabled roof to voice his opinions and feelings.  It's his little "blogspot"  whether anyone pays any attention to him or not.  After  his pronouncements and ground inspections, he makes his return trip  up the standing tree,  scrambling and hugging his way straight up well over 100 feet. 
I apologize for the terrible photographic quality...but I had to take these photos through the window or Mr. Squirrel would have abandoned his podium, and cut short his talk to avoid the risk he perceives me to be. There are real risks in his world...and one of them recently came visiting.

This visitor also found the bird house roof a fine place to perch and survey the garden.  Once again I had only moments  to capture a photo through the window...but I tried.  And since then I have been trying to learn more about hawks.

 I am familiar with Red- tail hawks when they look like mature male Red-tails...but  identifying females and youngsters and at different seasons is not something in which I am well versed.  So if you know help me identify this bird.  It is about 18" tall and has yellow feet.  The pattern on the chest struck me as horizontal bars.  Unfortunately I didn't see the tail shape in flight but it appears longer to me than a Red-tail's.

I posted these photos on Facebook and three friends,  all native Californians and lovers of birds themselves, gave me three different opinions.

One friend thinks it is a juvenile female Red-tail Hawk, another suggested Swainson's Hawk, while a third  said it is a Cooper's  Hawk.

The habits of Cooper's Hawks certainly fit this bird showing up above a bird bath in a treed area as they do prey upon smaller birds.  The large head, red eyes and longer tail also fit Cooper's Hawk descriptions.
But I am not sure...are You?

Oh, and as I titled this post "Bad Photos of Beautiful Birds... I better share a few more fuzzy shots.  My excuse this time is that I was early morning barefoot and such and had let out a cat when I noticed a flock of quail that I thought would rather be stalked by me than the kitty... so I ran out and took photos that aren't a lot blurrier than I was in the moment...and the birds are beautiful.

 Quail  always seem to post a as soon as the door opened  the flock was on the move.

 I was sure there was a quail or two in this picture...they do hide themselves quickly.

As promised...a bad photo of a beautiful bird.

Thanks for visiting...I'll come back soon if you will too....and while I enjoy all your comments, it will be really fun if someone can please help me identify the hawk.  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Fragile Fruit of Time

 Rain one day and sun the next... better get out there and check the strawberries.

The fragile fruits in life, like strawberries, are quick to teach can't hurry them and they won't wait for you and in their time...oh my they are good.

 And they hide... you have to look from many angles and move the leaves and as often as you congratulate yourself for finding big perfect ripe ones, there are those discoveries of rot, opportunity missed that if left will communicate its loss to the neighboring fruit.  And sometimes, in the eager pick and pull, little green berries get snatched before their time...
It's true.
All around the raised beds are removable chicken wire keep this old guy out...he likes strawberries, snap peas and asparagus and will pick at will if he can reach them.

                                         The little fences keep the cats out too...

 Here is  what I brought in today: bolting cilantro, hidcote blue lavender, oregano to dry, French tarragon, a few of the peas I need to pick and all the strawberries I had the patience to find.

 I wonder after words that could convey the mingling fragrances of the sun warmed oils of the herbs, the waft of sweetness of lavender and strawberries.  When the scents are not present, I can barely remember them, and no description of mine calls forth the response that breathing in the mixtures of these mingled molecules does.  The gifts of smell are primal and often laden with memories and emotional meanings.  It is uniquely personal where any particular fragrance takes a person.  Sometimes, in the garden I smell the glory of "this" day,  and sometimes time's mandate of consecutive seconds is breached and time flows together in today's  fleeting sun.