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Archive for the ‘photographs’ Category

Moonbathing

It’s pretty evident I love the moon; the name of my blog pretty much says it all. The latest full moon came into being a couple nights ago, and is slowly starting to wane. But its luminosity is still brilliant, as the moonlight gently streams through my skylight and into my home. I woke to this lovely energy at 2 a.m., as the shaft of a moonbeam settled upon my rocking chair. I graciously accepted the invitation to do a bit of moonbathing.  Slowly climbing out of bed, I nestled into my chair, allowing my body to rest in the glow of the moon. It is said that the moon is a feminine energy, and I felt motherly love and comfort as I let the sweet moonlight rock me in its cradle.

I sit in the chair

Moonbeam wrapped all around me

Bathed in lunar love

 

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The other side of writing

Today I started my 24th journal, in four years time, and that works out to filling up a journal every two months – wow! I guess I have a lot to share with myself. The pages I fill contain so much – my thoughts and dreams, love and heartache, all that I am and all I am experiencing in this lifetime. In this way, journaling is a gift, a godsend, a way for my soul to spill out and for me to archive a permanent record of who I really am.

I often look back on all my lovely pages, inspired by how far I’ve come, or enlightened by words I’ve written but long since forgotten. My journals become a kind of self-help book written by me, for me – who better to help me through the ups and downs of life but my own unique soul? But I am also guided by words I find from others. I often write down inspirational quotes or phrases I find or hear, as well as decorating the pages with pictures or artwork that touch my heart. It is a joy to see and read the soul filled expressions of others.

My journals are a manner of creative expression as much as my other modes of writing are. Even though I fill the pages with haphazard writing – misspelled words, grammatical errors, run-on sentences – it is the free flowing expression of pure thought, not impeded by my logical side that stops me from saying what I long to say. There is much truth contained in those pages.

In the corner of the room, I see my lovely collection all lined up like soldiers at attention, but not wearing the same uniform; each one is unique on the outside as well as the inside. Some are covered with pretty pictures or artwork, and some I have decorated myself when the cost of a $10 journal was outside my budget. Those forays into art are some of my favorites – there is the one with the man in the moon picture I cut out and glued to the front of a $1 composition notebook, or the notebook I bought in the college bookstore one day and transformed into a journal by covering the front of it with inspirational quotes I love.

All of my precious journals contain the unique energy of me, a true self that I find cannot be fully revealed at times. Those are the times when the sanctity and security of my journal becomes a very dear confidant to me, allowing me to always be me.

My first journal, October 2008

One of my “homemade” journals

Time to explore, once more

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a travel adventure; I would say the last place I really traveled to was Portland, last year when I moved here. And now I am happily settled in as a Portlander, and I have had adventures and explorations around my pretty city. But I could feel my soul, nudging me on a bit as I hemmed and hawed about attending an event in Seattle, about angels and the afterlife. Oh my, two topics so near and dear to my soul, and a chance to go on an out of town adventure – well, why not? So I purchased a ticket to the event itself, a round trip train ticket from Portland to Seattle, and made reservations at a hostel for two nights – that in itself would be a whole new experience! But after finding hotels in downtown Seattle averaging around $200 a night, I took a leap of faith in the $69 a night hostel experience – after all, I am an adventuress!

The four hour train ride to Seattle was very pleasant, and after sinking into a good book I brought with, I was there before I knew it. I love traveling by train, and Amtrak once again proved to be a mode of travel I am very comfortable with. My skills in acting as my own travel agent proved to be quite proficient, as I found myself situated only five blocks from the hostel I had found, and less than five minutes by city bus to the convention center where the angels & afterlife event was being held. I had to pat myself on the back for that bit of perfect planning!

I do have to admit though, that as I walked through the heart of Seattle’s Chinatown to get to my hostel, I was a bit nervous. There is a Chinatown in Portland that I have walked through many times, and it just doesn’t seem quite as “gritty” as the Chinatown in Seattle. But I do have street smarts, that tell me to be back at the hostel before dark, and to try and not look like a tourist – in other words, only look at the big bright fold-out map of Seattle before heading into a “questionable” area. The hostel itself was warm and welcoming, and the staff very friendly and helpful. I had to laugh though when I saw my room. I don’t think I quite understood the whole hostel experience, as I just thought it would be like having a very basic hotel room. Imagine my surprise when I opened the door to my room (and I had booked a private room) and saw basically, a college dorm room – a metal frame bunk bed, a sink, and a tiny wooden table in the corner. But you know what, it was all I needed, and the whole time I was there I felt completely safe and comfortable. What a deal for only $69 a night – and I got breakfast to boot!

My room at the hostel

Time to explore Seattle! I didn’t plan on going too far, but I had enough time to make my way to the waterfront and to a place called Pike Place Market. The waterfront area was pretty, looking out over an expanse of water called Elliott Bay. I spotted the huge Ferris Wheel from a ways back, so tempted to take a ride and see everything from high in the sky. But when I found out it would cost $15, my budget minded self thought it may be better spent elsewhere, like on food. And Pike Place Market had plenty of that – from fruits and vegetables, to chocolate and cheese, and of course the amazing array of seafood that Seattle is so known for. The fish vendors are half the fun in the marketplace, as they toss fish back and forth, making up crazy rhymes and chants as they go along. I settled on some great bread and delectable cheese, going a bit European, with a cheesecake truffle for dessert – perfect!

Elliott Bay

The Ferris Wheel that I didn’t ride

Fish stall at Pike Place Market

More food at Pike Place Market

The next day was my biggest concern, as I needed to navigate the free downtown bus system to get me to the convention center. This free bus ride takes place in what is called the “bus tunnel”, and it is just that – a tunnel, much like a subway, that has both buses and transit trains running through it. But thanks to a helpful employee I found in Union Station, I was able to get on the right bus and get there easily, as well as getting back – phew! That was honestly my biggest concern about the whole weekend, and I conquered it.

The event itself, the catalyst for getting me to visit Seattle in the first place, was very nice. The speakers were John Holland, a well known medium/psychic, and Doreen Virtue, a woman who connects with the angelic realm and is equally well known in the metaphysical world. I didn’t really come away with anything I hadn’t already heard or knew, but the energy was lovely, and the speakers were very interesting. I was able to walk around the downtown proper during the lunch break, and it seemed very nice – but not as nice as Portland!

When I got back to the hostel, I found a celebration going on in Chinatown – the Moon Festival. What luck for me to be staying in that part of the city during this festival, and I was able to satisfy my craving I had for weeks for sweet and sour chicken – it was delicious! I watched some displays of martial arts, as well as dancing and drumming in the Chinese way. Then I saw something called a mooncake, and just the name alone enticed me. It is a decorative pastry, filled with sweet lotus paste – but the duck egg in the middle was too much for my uncourageous taste buds, and I had to just say no when I got to that part!

Martial arts at the Moon Festival

Drumming at the Moon Festival

A mooncake

All in all, I had a delightful time in Seattle, happy to be able to visit this city that is really so close to me. But honestly, when the announcement on the train came, “Next stop, Portland”, I had my bags gathered up and I couldn’t wait for my feet to touch the streets of the city I have come to love the best, my beautiful Portland.

A rhumba of rattlesnakes? The idiosyncratic world of animal & bird group names

Because I love to write, I love words. I love putting words together to form thoughts or a story, but sometimes I love words in and of themselves, just enjoying how they look and sound. Words like cacophony, plethora and gallivant have a quaint look and rhythm all their own, making them fun to say as well as making me appear well spoken when I can actually use them in the proper context. That may be a bit pretentious though, don’t you think? Do I want to be one of those people trying to impress others with my extensive and unique vocabulary? Well, obviously I am not the only one who wishes to be noticed by using interesting words. I recently discovered a list of group names of various animals & birds, and I’d have to say that the biologists or ornithologists or whoever appointed themselves to the task of naming these groups must have been either drunk or trying to impress fellow colleagues as they came up with some rather peculiar pairings.

As I read through the list, I realized how clever some of the names are. I could certainly attest to a prickle of porcupines, a shiver of sharks (and they do make me shiver!), a quiver of cobras (another creature that yes, makes me quiver!), and a tower of giraffes. There are some group names that imply a character trait: an implausibility of gnus, a mischief of mice (and isn’t that one so very true?), a wisdom of wombats (who knew they were wise?), and a pitying of turtle doves. I found that some groups were named on the basis of their actions: a leap of leopards, a lounge of lizards, a romp of otters, a cackle of hyenas, and a crash of rhinoceroses. But the ones I enjoyed the most were the totally off the wall labels that had to have been chosen by those in a mind-altered state, or perhaps on a dare, or maybe just for the hell of it, because they could! : a kettle of vultures, a consortium of octopuses, a charm of hummingbirds, a bloat of hippopotamuses, and my personal favorite, a murder of crows.

I am envious of those who were given permission to label the creatures of the earth and their groups with such creative license.  So the next time you go to the zoo, remember the zeal of zebras, the streak of tigers, and the coalition of cheetahs, and say “thank you” to those who sprinkled a bit of levity into the animal kingdom.

A flamboyance of flamingos

A barrel of monkeys

A flock of seagulls
(also the name of a popular 80’s musical group)

Inspired by stories of love

Because I no longer watch TV I find myself reading voraciously. The written word is often where I discover stories of life and love, be they real or imagined. And in these stories I see how love can be between two people, love that is strong enough to withstand the ups and downs of life. Words like partner, soul mate and true love are reflected in these relationships. Yet I also come across such lovely pairings in my connections with others. My daughter and her fiance glow with this deep love; a true partnership where they are so involved in building a life together, conferring with each other on all matters, large or small. With those who love this way there is a degree of support in each other that is incredible, as they fit together like puzzle pieces and create the picture of their life.

Interlocking

 

The pieces are strewn out

All over Creation

And our Creator sorts all of us out

To fit us together

Setting aside possibilities of pieces

That just might join together perfectly

 

You appear in His hand

With your cut – out pattern

Of you

God gently sets you aside

As He picks up the jig – saw piece

Of me

And tenderly places us side by side

 

We are different shapes

And uniquely colorful patterns

But when God joins us together

Our puzzle pieces fit

Perfectly interlocked

Because of our love

 

We are part of a glorious picture

Of all that life and love is

I need to connect with you

To help complete that picture

You are my puzzle piece

The one who fits me

So perfectly

My daughter and her fiance, so in love…

Home and community – It’s all a matter of perspective

Home is where the heart is -Yes, it is a common, kitschy phrase often seen on pieces of arts and crafts that we display in our homes, where our hearts are. But moving past the overused phrase that it is, and really thinking about it, the place we call “home” and the place that brings a sense of community are just that – places on this earth that we resonate with and come to see with the eyes of our heart and soul.

I have often heard the lament of those who live in a small town that city dwellers live in a cold atmosphere of indifference; we pass each other on the street, strangers with our heads down,  lacking acknowledgment of one another. But I beg to differ. This morning I bypassed my usual routine of tea at home in my pajamas, and headed out in the cool morning air to one of my favorite coffeehouse haunts, the Fehrenbacher Hof, located in a delightful neighborhood of Portland called Goose Hollow. Just the fact that Portland is comprised of delightful neighborhoods like Goose Hollow within the confines of a big city tells me that a sense of community can be established anywhere, not just in a small town or less populated city.

As I sat on the porch outside “The Hof”, as it is affectionately called, I felt such a sense of belonging, even with the cacophony of the city sounds; cars, trains and a helicopter flying incredibly low overhead. And that small event, the helicopter buzzing the treetops, spurred on a conversation with a stranger and others around us, as we wondered what that was all about. Sitting there as I sipped my coffee, I began to feel like a greeter at Wal-Mart, saying “good morning” to just about every person who came in and out. We do make friendly connections in this urban setting!

Even my apartment building fosters a sense of community; a lovely circle of interactions and connections with the other tenants, pride taken in our building and even the apartment management. One of the tenants took it upon herself to thoroughly clean up the laundry room one day, lending a helping hand to our overworked manager/building maintenance man, taking pride in this place we call home. Another tenant has been so kind as to leave a bucket full of cut flowers in the foyer; leftovers from her job at a flower shop, as she shares with her fellow neighbors. And one morning we were treated to boxes of doughnuts in the foyer; a gift from the management company, to show appreciation for having such lovely tenants.

For many years the place I called home was a place I found myself in because of family ties, friends and familiarity. But life can be changeable and malleable, and we may find that home is a place that has been buried but now is ready to be uncovered. For me I unearthed my love of the city, and that city for me is Portland. Now I fully understand what the word home means, and it is here that I truly feel as if I am part of a community.

Home sweet home

Discovering mindfulness in a game of Scrabble

A friend and I spent the better part of a morning recently at Starbucks, having coffee and playing Scrabble, a game that I have to believe every writer enjoys – it is all about words! What could be better than that? And the best part was that my dear friend gave me the lovely red vintage box containing the retro Scrabble board and those beautiful wooden tiles of letters – the only things missing were the bag to hold the tiles and one of the wooden tile holders. She uncovered this treasure at Goodwill for only $2.00, but soon found that her family does not share her love of the game like she does. So in a lovely gesture of friendship, she gave it to me, after learning about my love of what has to be the greatest game ever. I used to have my own Scrabble set, but it was grudgingly sacrificed in the move to Portland, as I pared down to the bare necessities. So many memories attached to that game, as I would always make my children play Scrabble with me at Thanksgiving and Christmas – and surprisingly, I never won! But fear not, I made sure that my daughter bought a brand new Scrabble set, so we could play last Christmas when I went back to visit – and as always, I lost once more!

But today my brain must have been firing on all its cylinders, or maybe it was the coffee buzz that spurred me on to an amazing score of 283 – my all time Scrabble high! I was unstoppable, as I gathered up 48 points alone for the word “quirk” – what a quirk it was to be able to even spell that word out on the board. I gathered up a slew of points with silly little words like “gem” and “zoo”, using a strategic mind I didn’t even know I possessed, scoping out places where I could rake in triple letter scores with those crazy eight or ten point letters like “z” or “q”. I challenged my friend on a word or two, and she in turn informed me of an illegal Scrabble move that I was unaware of, all the while thoroughly enjoying ourselves with some friendly competition.

And as we pondered our brains for words, and laughed at the silliness of words we thought we could use, like “yo”, as in yo-yo or Yo!, a favorite rap phrase, time just seemed to slip away. We forgot to talk about all the things going on in our lives, the things that are of a more dramatic nature than trying to figure out how to use up the last letters you are holding of c, j, l, and r, so you don’t have to subtract them from your score. It felt good to get lost in something so innocent for a time, not thinking about why I haven’t heard back about the job I recently interviewed for, or getting caught up in any worrisome fears about the future. It felt good to escape for a time in something I love, the words; and I was reminded of the healing nature of mindfulness.

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