Piggy sat comfortably on a rolled towel on a tilted chase lounge in the sun overlooking the splashing and laughing of kids in a pool. Piggy was cloth so wasn’t allowed to get in, but she didn’t mind. She always got a good view because she went with her person everywhere. I’ve spoken about my respect for childhood “lovies” and how you should never throw them out or diminish any child who calls them precious. I have been privileged to sit at a pool side, go to parks, ride in the car, and even share a bedtime story or two with Piggy. It has been my honor.

But I wish to talk about grown up “lovies” and not little cloth ones or the person type. Lovies which we can hold anywhere and at any age and no one will laugh or think you odd…

This past summer my cherished homeward trek to the Sierra Nevada’s was struck with hazardous air, smoke, evacuations, and the worse…fire of the beautiful pines. I was devastated and worried about this place that has been my home for as long as I remember. Adapting was the only choice with my family so we found ourselves overlooking the Pacific Ocean and breathing cleaner air instead of a lake in the mountains during terrible forest fires. Santa Cruz/Capitola had been part of my childhood, and part of my older kid’s childhood, but it had been so long since I’d been there that driving in felt like coming home again; so familiar and comforting. (Something I needed, troubled about the lake and home) Even the salty sea air and fog felt so familiar I became excited as we drove closer to the Boardwalk. It suddenly grew into a menagerie of lovies for me as I allowed myself to be open to new possibilities in a new adapted vacation spot; which really wasn’t all that new. Lovies are soothers. We forget, as adults that we too need healthy emotional soothers, or lovies that we can hold on to when we are feeling lonely, scared, or insecure. I’d like to share a few that were unburied and dusted from the family memory trunk and absolutely adored reviving those tucked away lovies.

1. The Santa Cruz Light House Lovey. I recall in my memory so many times going to this adorable little Light House jetting out from the cliff rocks with the trees frozen in a slant due to winds. As a child we’d watch the surfers, listen to the seals barking, and watch how the moods of the ocean change depending on the weather or attitude of the liquid giant. (I refer to the ocean as a big giant) Sometimes the waves crash so high on the rocks you will get sprayed or you can hike down to the right and walk on the public beach. I felt so warmed and soothed being right there and knowing it was still lighting the night for the boats at sea. The surfers were much younger, but they were still bobbing in the water, legs intertwined with seaweed, waiting for that perfect wave. It was such a soothing moment, I wanted to let the wind wrap around me and let me stay and stay and stay…A lovey for sure!

2. The Big Trees Lovey. The majestic redwood trees near Santa Cruz, in Felton feel like big brothers and sisters to me. I felt so at home walking around “the loop.” I just wanted to sit and hold them close…They are so awe inspiring standing so tall for so long intertwined together. I love these trees and have since I was really really young. They are a bit big to be Piggy, tucked under the arm and carried everywhere but I still felt soothed by them welcoming me home.

3. There is nothing so soothing in summer like driving down the small little hill into the Capitola Village and parking next to the beach. It is the perfect mixture of summer with sun, wind, just enough people, casual atmosphere, bare feet, playing kids, surfers and sea otters popping their head up. The sand is hot, the waves rhythmic, the colorful old cottages along the old river always make me smile. We used to stay in them so long ago. It is a lovey that makes me feel happy and carefree and like a little kid again. I used to come with my own kids before we moved east. The evenings and early morning are the best. Ahhh, another lovey to hold on to.

I only got one hour to check my fragile lake due to dangerous conditions, and I felt so sad as I wait all year to come home there. But I discovered some lovies I hadn’t held for a long time, and it felt soothing and warm. Lovies are everywhere. Just take notice, dust them off and hold them tight.

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What’s in your world

People who create understand world building. You do it every time you make something from nothing. But each person world builds as they create their life. We choose what the weather will be. We choose what the scenery will look like. We choose what types of relationships we will have on this human “planet.” We get to choose…

Watching the news lately has got me thinking about people and what they want for their worlds as they build them. It makes me wonder about some of the worlds I see. It also makes me look at my own world and wonder what needs fixing and what I like keeping.

We get to create it anyway we want. What’s your world looking like?

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Does love really get in foods we eat?

Didn’t somebody say that the reason some meals taste better than others is because love was put in it. I believe this to be true. I hope it is. But I am going to go a bit further. I have this pan…(don’t judge me here)

It  has been saved from the charity box and a frequent at garage sales, but let me tell you, I think it speaks to me; in a sort of weird “love-put-in-food” sort of language that I can hear. Call me crazy (which I often do myself) but that pan makes my cupcakes and muffins just…taste, oh so much better.

I have too bought and tried all those new cool progressive cooking pans that foods can slip out of easily and they look so sleek and stylish. But they lack…hmmmmm, what is it?  They lack…time, memories, love, celebrations, morning warmth. I don’t know. They are shallow in a weird emotional kind of way. Literally when I go to my cupboard ready to “grease the pan” or put those paper liners inside, I pause. I look at the newer modern ones yelling, “Choose me, I’m perfect for this job.” And then I look at old reliable. The one I have needed to depend on over and over and over. And I pick my old friend again and again.

It’s just that, like a cool old car, a pair of shoes that you can’t part with, those quilts that you wrap yourself up in that grandma made a really really long time ago, you can get new stuff and replace those things but like pans, some things just have this… sweetness that permeates. Like this old pan; the love and security over the ages melts all the way to the core and gives the food a little magic to those eating it.

She’s earned classic status.

That is why she is still in the cupboard…

…actually she is in the oven as we speak and boy does the house smell……GOOD!

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“stuff the box”

The other day I noticed the most adorable garden and a woman was out picking off the tips of dead flowers. The coolest thing about the garden is that she was on her tippy-toes and most of it was taller than really tall humans. It included many wild flowers of all colors and then so many lanky sunflowers. It was so cute, but it was also at the corner of a busy road. I wondered, how could I tell that woman how much I loved her garden. But I drove by just like everyone else. I was determined because I am guilty of what I call “stuffing the box.”

What is that you say?

First, have on hand some blank paper; I like 2″ by 3″ cards that you keep in your car, backpack, diaper bag, stroller pockets, purse, bike basket, or stuffed in your socks…(you can cut them out of anything or use post it notes) AND something to write with. As you walk or drive (just out) with kids or by yourself IF you see a house (or it can be even more like a car, a building, even a park) that has something really special or cool that strikes your fancy (that means you really really like it) stop the car or walk or bike ride or whatever and, “Stuff the box.”

This means that you actually stop what you are doing, write on that card “WOW, I love your sunflowers in your yard..” or “I love how you decorated for Halloween…” or “I love the color you painted your front door…” and you stuff their mailbox with the note. That’s it. Then you get back on your way and feel glad. What you don’t realize is that someone is going to open that mailbox, get that note and look both ways and smile really big and feel super duper happy someone noticed. That is the best part!

For my life-size gardener, I ended up stopping in the middle of the road, opening my window and calling to her. Her cheeks flushed yet she bowed and waved with a smile. I’ve stuffed many boxes and it makes you start to look more closely as you are out instead of rush by without every noticing. How sad if we don’t notice so many beautiful things around us.

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Summer Musts

Do you have one of those summer lists that must happen for it actually to be considered summer? Don’t you still have your kid one? I do. That is the fun of summertime!

You do too, I know it. You just may have stored it away someplace in your memory files. Today this July 23rd and middle of summer I finally got one that I have been missing thus far. It’s that drive with the windows rolled down, the hair blowing everywhere, fun music playing and the freedom of summer, sun, and warmth with no deadline. Just pure breezy, summer driving on a quiet rode with the tunes up…


Now to find a snow cone…

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Summer Gray’s

I am trying to learn to tolerate gray days; especially summer ones. My natural instinct is gray days in summer are wasted summer days. It is like robbing the sun personal time that the sun gives up during all other seasons. Gray days pour cement over my flip flops and sprinkle Melatonin in my cereal. My energy dims. So I’m giving gray days the benefit of the doubt. I’m trying to like gray clouds one smidgen more than I did yesterday. But its challenging.

Last week me and my fellow grocery shoppers were held captive next to the exit with our metal shopping carts full of yogurt, bread, ice cream, and cheese watching a terrible and magnificent thunder storm with rain drops the size of quarters crash and slash at anyone who dared walk to their cars. We huddled, holding our ears and closed our eyes from the intermittent cracks then flashes of light. I must admit I even prayed. One man, the cart collector, was escorting people who dared, to their cars with an umbrella getting completely soaked. Every time he came to where we all stood, adding more and more as people exited the store then stopped to see the parking lot in a waterfall, this man was smiling.

“Anybody ready to go? He would ask. Most of us waited. But a few dared, and off they both went under the odd safety of a piece of fabric as thin as paper, facing the storm as partners, soon to be complete strangers again.

Gray days can be good right? I guess I’m still trying to convince myself. I think I’ll go take a nap and wait it out…

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A Piece of Me

In the middle of the night, I found myself awake practicing the correct way of saying Worcestershire. You know…the sauce. But it wasn’t about the sauce it was about a place. “Wurst’-t-shur” was what I repeated in my mind to remember. I haven’t written on my blog for some time because I took a giant leap from in-house Covid seclusion, barely going to the grocery store, to high jumping the Atlantic, and finding myself in the United Kingdom. (Long story why)

What I discovered there was an unexpected treasure… some jewels beginning in Worcestershire. With the most awesome personal guide and links to electronic family history sites called FamilySearch and Ancestry I discovered places where my ancestors lived. Dull, you say? Quite the opposite. In fact, peculiarly I felt a connection I had never felt before. Who knew? Right!

Why would glopping around in dreary UK ‘spittin’ weather, unprepared without wellies or rain coat, through grave yards and sheep fields seem fun again? Because I found the places my family lived. The guide telling me what their life was like, what the times were like, what their livelihood was, standing in the church they were married or the ground they were buried. A part of me seemed to come from this place; a place I’d never known.

I didn’t zip-line, run a marathon, cycle 100’s of miles, visit the normal tourist attractions, stay in lavish hotels, but I did stand next to baby lambs looking over the greenest pastures I’d ever seen. I felt frozen to my bones searching gravestones and traveled on roads too narrow for traffic. I stood out looking at seas where my family entered on ships to leave the land they loved and touched actual doors my ancestors may have opened and closed themselves. I know how to  ask for Worcestershire sauce now, correctly. I know because I’m from that place. What a time it was…

Find who you belong to and visit–it will change you.

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I have always had a connection with my hands as a maker. Quietly cutting vegetables for a soup, dipping them in sudsy water to wash, folding fresh warm laundry from the dryer or line can hold a mindful calming effect to my rushed or busy life. The sensation of touch, of temperature, and textures offer an explosion of sensory surprise. Sometimes when I have been away from hand experiences and I begin something that makes me stop and think; oh, my hands are happy doing this, or I am feeling connected to something. Hands are incredible and I don’t thank mine enough.

I am a believer of Frank Wilson, once director of neuroscience at Stamford University who wrote a book about hands saying that the brain and the hand could not have evolved without the other and that “we are creatures by what we do with our hands” (67). We have become keyboard experts and some days our thumbs or fingers grow tired from working so hard with our fine motor skill pushing little plastic buttons. But our computer skills, though excellent and rewarding, do not give us real-world experience. “Much of our learning comes from doing, from making, from feeling with our hands; and though many would like to believe otherwise, the world is not entirely available from a keyboard” (Louv, 2008, pp. 67).

Today I stuck my hands into a pile of glue and let it drip through my fingers and later dry on my palms for the satisfaction of peeling it off. Gardening in the dirt, kneading dough for bread, rolling clay for a coiled pot, stitching wool for a blanket…our hands make us feel life in a personal, almost sacred way. I think I will go find my Lavender lotion and give my hands a delicious treat…

Louv, R. (2008). Last Child in the Woods. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books.

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Hello Life

Where I live April is slowly transitioning in weather, but flourishing abundantly in color and popcorn popping on trees which all look and smell so sweet (a song). Yesterday Mother Nature took hold of my hand and led me outside to see how she snatched a piece of the sun and placed it right inside every single petal of the blessed forsythia. She knew I needed it even if I didn’t. I had a chore to do at a park scraping duct tape off a farm fence. (Back a few posts about a Gratitude Project I began six months ago) This job was near a walking path and the most delicious woodland gazebo.

The temperature was mid sixties with a slight breeze, birds and frogs were serenading me and I even met a cheeky jumping spider that was not happy I was scraping off the tape residue; perhaps had included the colors as part of his web decor.  Purple ground cover smiled up at me next to my tennis shoes (I was careful where I stepped), and dogs would stretch their leashes to come get an ear rub and head pat. People felt sorry for me scraping off tape; which seemed to go on for eternity. A few even felt so sorry they tried to scrape off a few with their fingernails but didn’t get too far. As you know duct tape married together with a metal bar as the inner peanut butter is much like trying to free a tantrumming five year old holding to a table leg saying they aren’t going; neither will budge. Those people chuckled, then wished me well and hurried away. But so many stopped to chat and say hello. It was one of those days for everyone.  It felt so foreign to me. It felt lovely.

Mother Nature is a doctor, did you know. When a remedy is needed she seems to know just the right dose. We don’t always take her vitamin supplement but she gives it every day; thanks earth. I scraped with duct tape stuck fingers for three hours, but I didn’t notice how tired and blistered I’d become until later. Smelling the aroma of spring breeze mixed in with living humans and gentle animals and insects, hearing the bird songs, and sweet noises of human voices, being embraced by young green and hearing chatter and pat-pats of feet walking or running past—it all felt so full and hopeful when my norm has been breathing stale indoor air and trying to feel life through a computer screen. Even though I wore my mask a new fresher air was absorbed in from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. It was life with all my senses and it felt really good…

Sunshine placed in flowers

Popcorn Popping by Moiselle Renstrom (1958)

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Thank you Earth

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