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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

July 28th 2010, Nine Years and Counting

Have you been properly introduced to my man?


He's on the taller side of life, which is exactly right because my head fits perfectly into the nook of his neck. He's quick to laugh, and even quicker to extend a hand. He's loyal to the ends of the world.


He thinks his face is crooked, but I disagree. I think it's full of mischief. But he does have a terrible poker face - the twinkle in his eyes gives him away every time. His fingers are a bit knobby - back from the days of basketball and busted knuckles - but they are all man. His neck is always tan. He has a scar on his stomach from a barbed wire incident as a child. He's always had sexy calves, you know, those good looking soccer-esc man-calves.


The man loves mustard and salami, classic mustangs, t-shirts and jeans, West Side Story, camping in the deep woods, fishing with a flask in hand, dinning out (multiple restaurants in one day are no foreign concept), Irish whiskey, practical jokes and baseball. And games, GOOD LORD does he like games. Of all kinds, of any kind. I think his love language might be the playing king of hearts. Plus he's terribly indulgent when it comes to photoshoots.

When we met, all I knew was I wanted to ride in that red Jeep with that cute boy through the hot valley summer, wherever we might end up. Little did sixteen year-old me know then that place would be here and now. Little did I know that he would be my rock of strength and my featherbed of safety, that we would change and shift and grow like two trees planted close whose branches intertwine and whose roots share the same wellspring. Little did I know then that I had already met my soul mate.


And now, Nine years after we said "I do" I still wouldn't change a thing about him.

I love you forever and always and to the end.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

- From my sketchbook writings, July 25th 2010 -

I fear I'm becoming a recluse.
Driving through masses of humanity and concrete I could feel the undercurrent of the city; pulsing like a body on the verge of a heart attack. Pumping ever harder, faster, expanding while the confines of cement and mortar fill in the crumbling chinks. It took me less than 48 hours to remember how to drive that speed, dancing through the gauntlet, slipping by countless street signs and steady ambitions. I could feel the beat ringing in my ears and the need to move faster creeping up knees.

But then I hit the open hills.


The Golden Rolling Hills of California. The live oaks whose roots sink deeper than the mountains and reach their gnarled limbs in every direction like Shiva. I needed that space. I needed to dilate my ribcage and feel nothing pressing back. I needed to throw my arms wide and feel only the sunshine on my fingertips. I began breathing slower, deeper. I turned the radio up; I sang from my diaphragm. I let the wind blow hot over my skin, rumple my hair into an unruly tumble, and eased up on the gas pedal.


And then, like water in the desert to a parched woman, I hit the Redwood Curtain.
The temperature dropped and the scent of the forest filled the car. The road was bare before me and the rivers crashed far below my tires. The trees closed in behind me and I could have cried for the sanctuary. In this time of discovering the depths of my own strength and the fragility of my own body I'm desperate for it.
For Safety
For Shelter
For Refuge
This is where I am supposed to be.
There are hundreds of miles between the voracious hustle and my heart. And my heart is home.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Leaving on a Road Trip

Good Morning Tuesday!
Good Morning YOU!

I've two things to say before I slip into my flippity flops and don my biggest pair of shades and they are thus:

1. YOU have made me feel so great this last week, what with all your short-hair-love and downright flattery. You KNOW how to make a gal feel amazing and I think you might be responsible for the extra strutting I did all weekend and the sly brush-your-hair-out-of-your-eyes "oh this ol' hair do?" I may have pulled more than twice. I really adore you. That's what this comes down to.

2. I'm heading out of town for the week (Monday you ask? Yeah, never happened) and into the greater San Francisco area of California, driving out in my faithful little Civic with a huge box of chopped veggies and plans for a chai latté before I even hit the freeway. I've got a few appointments with various doctors but I'll be staying with one of my bestie gals which means hysterical laughter, very little sleep, and the eye rolls of her man (whom I love like crazy too) at our no-doubt-crazed antics. I can't help it. We get together and it's like a whole room of children cracked out on sugar. All big eyes and no control over the volume of our voices. Except it's just the two of us. And we're both no longer even in our twenties.

That said, I don't know if I'll have time or breath to update this bloggy-o later in the week BUT no matter what I'll be back next Monday with photos galore and plans to [finally] show you a few pieces from that new painting series I've been hinting at!

Lovey Dove,
- Umber

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dog days


cherry tree







All you need is a ancient blanket strewn beneath the cherry tree
and a few cartons of Thai takeout.

And maybe a popsicle too.


p.s. Did you know that the collective noun for chickadees is a banditry? IT'S MY VERY FAVORITE ONE... a banditry of chickadees... always up to no good!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

And Umber Tries on a New Look


And I tell you truly: it feels amazing. Yesterday I took myself out for a little [more than a] trim at the Beauty Bar and left with the shortest hair I've ever seen on this face of mine. And the icing on the cake? I was able to donate a full 12 inches and maybe more to Locks of Love which made the decision twenty times better.


But the heart of the matter is this:
I'll be starting Phase Two of my treatment in a couple of weeks (chemotherapy). Back at the start of this whole cancer business I never thought the idea of losing hair would be one that would traumatize me. After all, there are SO many other things one could spend their time worrying over and in my specific case, SO many things worth focusing on and celebrating. The idea of stressing over the potential (but not absolute) loss of hair seemed light years away and honestly, like a bit of vanity that I could do without. After all, it's only hair, right?
Well the answer is wrong. Little thoughts would creep up on me without warning, the fear that I might be eating out and leave a long chunk of hair on the seat behind me, or that my thickish mane would begin thinning and dropping away to a few straggly strands. And then the dreams kicked in, as fear always plays out in my subconscious and I would shake myself away one hand on my head checking, always checking.

I'm done with the worry.
And I'm certainly done with sitting passively and wondering if the worst might happen.
So I rode out to meet my fear, to head it off in the middle of the valley before it edged any closer to my heart. It felt fierce. It felt incredibly empowering. It reminded me that I make the call on my own strength.
And I am a force to be reckoned with.

What I didn't expect was to love it as much as I do. I think this whole short hair business is pretty flipping sexy.


Now I just need to invest in more huge earrings. Because I'm rocking a new huge me.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Yee Haw! the Orick Rodeo

Country music twanging in the air :: Smoke from the deep pit BBQ wafting in the breeze :: A fine layer of grit on the back of your hands :: The stomp of worn boots on bleachers :: Beer in coolie cups and snow cones in 10 flavors :: Cattle braying :: Horses neighing :: Sun in your eyes and certainly on your bare knees :: More cowboy hats than can be counted :: Cowboys :: Children carrying chickens through the stands :: Worn leather saddles and shined up belt buckles :: Roping, Riding, Racing :: Cheering, Groaning, Hollering Loud

I don't remember the last time I felt so American.
Nor the last time it felt so good.


team roping



redwood park



Do you know about Mutton Bustin'? Because it's my favorite event. Laugh, cry, and cheer your heart out for those little tykes.






Ok, you've GOT to forgive this rediculous little video but you MUST listen to the music! That couple was wailing up on stage, beating the band and belting out like only those with a country heart of gold can do. And honestly, be glad there is no close up of the MEAT, because believe you me, that was one serious hunk of barbecue!

Also, as a side note: whyyyyyyyyy must YouTube always grab the very worst facial expression possible for the cover snap of your videos? I look remarkably bass-ish here but I SWEAR, NOT IN REAL LIFE!

** HUGE photo credit to my little sis, Aubrey, for the majority of these are her. I was too busy screaming and slurping on my watermelon snow cone. So I stole these like any big sister ought to. THANK YOU AUB! YOU'RE AMAZING! **

Thursday, July 8, 2010

- From my sketchbook writings, July 8th 2010 -

How is it that I lay awake at night, mind rustling with a thousand ideas, rich and thick with inspiration, and the very next morning feel hollow, riddled with existential crisis?
I am HERE, I have the place, the physical space, the time, now
Oh Great Muse
I'm ready to sacrifice all those banal needs, to bend my back the yoke, to plow that great field of my soul. To till that fecund soil, to unearth a glittering gemstone, hold it up to the sun and allow the rainbow of refracted spirit to fall upon my upturned face until my eyes water and weep with the honesty of it.
I'm holding my modest vessel with outstretched arms, outstretched palms, whirling like a dervish for that downpour.
Call my name, I'm listening hard.
Dazzle me with light, my eyes are wide open.
Direct my hands, my fingers are willing.

Just whatever you do, I beg, I plead, don't leave me in darkness. For I can not abide the nothing.


We wrestled yesterday, she and I. And in the end, she dropped a corner of her veil and the light shone through, illuminating certain lines drawn deftly in my sketchbook, certain hopes written only across my heart, and certain fears which seem so great in dusk but lose their potency in the watery light of dawn.

Now this morning she whispers my name, and I realize all over again: these ideas come from my very soul, they will never be lost so long as I am present. They will never be forgotten so long as I keep looking. They will never disappear so long as I am alive. They are in me. They are of me.

And so I work.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Kitchen Frenzy and the Great Foodie Swap 2010

I've been trying to rest, promise I have, but the coastal summer that is dancing on these shores just teases me to the breaking point. And honestly, certain combinations work like a drug; take for instance:

Blue Skies + Temps around 65* + HOURS logged inside reading "Radical Homemakers" + The season's first plums and cucumbers, as well as bounties of strawberries and fresh lavender at the farmer's marker + A fire in my fingertips to create ANYTHING


It's that season again, the time of bounty, the time when the gardens jump into overdrive, pumping out beans and cucumbers and tiny berries smoother and sweeter than any factory could dream of. It's the time of year I begin craving long days in the kitchen, when I start counting the number of empty mason jars, factoring in fresh produce and deciding just how many different types of preserves a gal can make on strictly coastal produce.

plum jam

This weekend's frenzy included:
8 jars of Plum Jam
8 jars of Strawberry Lavender Jam (a la Sunny Rising)
2 jars of Dill Pickles
1 Cup of Lavender Honey Butter (I could eat it straight on a spoon. I could also gain a few sizes after smearing it on every surface in sight. Don't judge me)
1 mandatory batch of Whole Wheat Scones as the vehicle for jam consumption

I'm a strong believer in local foods, in swapping recipes at the farmer's market, in putting up food when the harvest is at it's prime, in knowing exactly what it is I'm putting in my mouth. There is a value in all this that feels far greater than strict monetary savings; there is a joy I derive from knowing I can produce food for my tiny family, that we are supporting our community by buying direct from the farmers, that the foods we ingest were grown thirty miles away from my kitchen.

All this has got me thinking.
I think we need a swap.
A swap of the foodie type.

So if you are interested, here's what I'm thinking:

"Foods" can include jams, jellies, preserves, pickles or anything else that is shelf stable. They must be either 1) created with your two ever-loving hands or 2) purchased from the ever-loving hands of their creator (if you are not a canner, or not ready to take on that kind of challenge but want to be involved, please be sure that the jars you purchase are locally made - farm stands, farmers' markets, and even neighbors are all good resources).


1. If you want to be a part, email me at by MONDAY JULY 12TH with your name, address (and blog if you keep one), what type of food you want to swap, and if you have any food preferences (if you are deathly allergic to blackberries, now would be the time to fess up). We'll be exchanging 1-2 jars (or items) - just take into account the general size and quantity that you are sending - not too much, and not too little. I will send you the name and address of your swap partner as well as any other details after the 12th and we'll all have a grand time!
2. The official swap date (meaning the date all packages must be mailed out) will take place July 30th, giving us all time to choose our jars carefully.
3. After you receive your swap package, please please snap a photo or two and email them to me! I'd love to put together a collection for all y'all to see our bountiful harvests!

If you'll excuse me, there is a scone singing my name and some strawberries doing a little lavender dance of sweet sweet temptation.

Cheerio me chickadees!