Cookbook Review – Near & Far


For the month of October I chose to cook from Heidi Swanson‘s new book ‘Near & Far‘. There had been a lot of media coverage of this book that peaked my curiosity. The book is a collection of recipes inspired by Heidi’s home base of San Francisco (Near), as well as her travels abroad to Morocco, Japan, Italy, France, and India (Far) and all with one common thread – they are vegetarian meals. Here are the items from this book we explored


Leek Soup with coconut milk, cauliflower, brown rice, pasta, chives, dill, hazelnuts. This was the first item I cooked from the book and really wasn’t that excited about it until I put on the toppings. Was a bit too much white on white on white for my visual palate. Texturally interesting with both rice and pasta in there. Actually the recipe called for yuba skins (soy bean curd) but try as I might I could not source that ingredient and we have a pretty great Asian community with grocery stores to match. Heidi’s recipe did indicate pasta could be substituted but at the end of the day I’m thinking it was not necessary. The overall dish was a delicate blend of ingredients but I wish the leek flavor stood out more.

Next up was Popovers


with black pepper & millet. These rose up beautifully, as popovers usually do, and the texture was perfect. I did think the black pepper was a bit overwhelming and though the millet seed provided an interesting texture, it didn’t really add to the flavor. Next time I would cut the amount of black pepper back by half and skip the millet seed.

Then there was the recipe featured on the cover


Cold Soba noodles with radishes, shallot, brown rice, garlic honey, sesame seeds, coriander seeds, and paprika. This was quite good. For the green, the recipe called for chopped radish tops, but mine didn’t look that great so I went for Thai basil, which I thought added to all the great flavors going on in this dish. Really good and something I would make again.

Then there were the cookies


Strong Ginger Snap cookies. I love, love, love ginger snaps and this recipe didn’t disappoint! Packed full of ginger flavor and once completely cooled, a slight snap when broken in two. Growing up, my dad & I were the only ones in the house who loved ginger snaps so whenever we bought a box from the store, we would sit together and enjoy a bowl full. Every time I eat ginger snaps, I think of him and our time together crunching away!

For a great side I went for new potatoes


Aloo Bhaji with green chiles, fenugreek, sesame seeds, and cumin. I also added a bit of chopped fresh parsley. Quite delicious and would be a welcome side to any, dare I say it, meat entree! We had these with a couple of lovely steaks. So good.

I had been doing pretty good cooking through this book, but then I found myself without a kitchen. Brian decided we needed new cabinets, counter, and sink and it turned out the construction crew scheduled this work to begin right in the middle of October. So what to do? I really wanted to keep going but was super challenged with the no kitchen thing. But then I remembered my friend Jane Hamel. She and I met briefly at Shutter Sisters Oasis when she was still living in California. But a couple years ago she moved to Seattle. Though we have met a couple times over lunch, we hadn’t had a lot of time together. You see she has been busy restoring an over one hundred year old house. In fact she is still working on it. However, I remembered from an Instagram post that she recently completed her kitchen. I knew from our conversations that she loves to cook so I worked up the courage to ask if she would like to make a recipe from Heidi’s book with me in her kitchen… and she said yes!


A friend of hers, Lynn pictured above, joined us for the first part of this preparation. Will you just look at the fabulous light streaming through that window! Oh, and the farmhouse sink, and the stone counter… all so, so lovely.


Lynn was quite meticulous separating the cilantro leaves from the stems.


and Jane did a perfect job of dicing the celery. She also measured out the other ingredients of our soup


While the soup cooked, Jane & I talked and talked about, well, all kinds of things; food, family, community. Then, in no time at all, it was time to eat.


Harira with chickpeas, lentils, cilantro, and warm spices and some chopped dates on top. Almost passed on the dates. Though I enjoy their sweetness, the look of them and their super-stickiness kind of creeps me out. Turns out Jane feels the same way! She helped with chopping them so we could get that task done quickly! The meal was delicious, but I have to say my favorite ingredient was Jane. We enjoyed this lunch in her new dining room over a bottle of wine and shared truths. I will hold this experience in my heart always. Hopefully we will have the chance to cook together again soon.

I did cook one last item from the book. It only required a couple of table top burners so I whipped this up on my dining room table, which has been my make-shift food prep area during the remodel.


Brown Butter Tortelli with butter, balsamic vinegar, lemon zest and arugula. I’m a sucker for fresh pasta so to me this was the ultimate comfort food. The only thing I forgot to add was some parmesan cheese on top. It was called for in the recipe, but I totally spaced on it. Chalk it up to being off my game without a real kitchen. However, this dish was so flavorful that I really didn’t miss the cheese. This will be a go to meal for us in the future. Super quick and easy, it makes the perfect weeknight meal.

So, there you have it, Near & Far by Heidi Swanson. This cookbook would make a lovely gift for someone who is exploring more vegetarian-based meals and has an adventurous spirit.

I am glad to have been introduced to this book. Actually my repertoire of meatless meals has expanded quite a bit this year as this is the 3rd vegetarian-based book I’ve worked from. I’ve been introduced to ingredients I’ve never worked with before and preparations that are new to me as well. Many people I know are vegetarian so am grateful to have this knowledge to help me offer those I love food that I know they will enjoy. As Brian & I continue to reduce the amount of meat we consume, this knowledge also expands our options for meals that accomplishes that goal in a flavorful way.

That being said, the next book is not focused on vegetarian cuisine. Just fabulous sounding and beautiful food from a couple living in France, Marilou & Alexandre Champagne. The book is called ‘3 Times a Day‘, inspired by their blog of the same name ‘Trois Fois Par Jour‘.


I discovered them through Kim Klassen, who mentioned their book on one of her Instagram posts. The blog is entirely in French, but if you haven’t checked it out, I would encourage you to do so. Their videos are entertaining and though I don’t speak French so don’t know what they are saying, I find them charming! Marilou does the recipe development and food styling, Alexandre does the photography. The whole book is stunning and I’m looking forward to diving in. My kitchen should be up to the task soon as well. November 9th is supposedly the last day for the crew who will be installing final trim, hardware, and putting the appliances back. Fingers crossed we stay on schedule as there is also Thanksgiving dinner around the corner and we are wanting to host in celebration of the ‘new’ kitchen! Wish us luck!

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Cookbook Review – Seven Spoons


In September I cooked several recipes from Tara O’Brady’s new cookbook Seven Spoons. I found all the recipes very straight forward, easy to follow, and yielded great results. I will definitely circle back to this book to try more of her recipes and remake some of my favorites. Nothing fancy here, this is food you would eat every day. Here are the ones I tried:


Glazed Eggplant with Roasted Shallots & Greens. This came together pretty quickly. We enjoyed this as a lovely lunch entree. Brian is a big fan of eggplant and bok choy so I earned big points serving this one up!


Braised Beef w/ Gremolata. Wow was this ever delicious! There was a fair amount of prep work to this one, but well worth it. My bacon didn’t quite yield the amount of drippings called for in the recipe so I supplemented with duck fat. Also the recipe calls for beef stock but I had just recently made a batch of veal stock so used that instead. Super great meal, good enough for company!


Roasted Peaches w/ Glazed Sesame Oats. Normally I don’t cook breakfast items in a cookbook as I generally rely on tried & true favorites that are quick to pull together. However, peaches were in season last month so had to give this a go. Served on top yogurt and added blueberries from my garden as well. I have to tell you I had this every morning for breakfast for 10 straight days! Now that pears are in season I’ll try roasting them this month!


Seeded Boule. I had yet to try the no-knead approach to bread making that is rather popular out there right now so Tara’s no-knead boule was my big opportunity. Sadly I burned the bottom, but rescued it by simply cutting the burnt part off. The texture of the bread is wonderful and the flavor is so good you don’t need to top it with anything. Makes a great sandwich bread and holds up well to my panini grill. I have made notes on how to adjust this recipe to suit my oven so will give this another shot.


Fig Toasts w/ Buttered Honey. I know it is a bit of a cliche to do the recipe featured on the book cover but I had these figs from my tree and had to give it a go. So glad I did! This is the perfect breakfast toast and also is an awesome mid-day snack. This is a mouthful of sweet & savory at the same time. I used a wheat berry bread with this and found that to be a lovely pairing.


Blueberry Poppy Seed Snacking Cake. In my garden this was the year of the blueberries. I think I must have 20 bags in the freezer right now! When I saw this recipe I knew I had to give it a go. These little cakes were both tender and flavorful. Had a little fun using my heart-shaped muffin tin to bake these in. I may just use this picture on our Valentine’s Day cards next year!


A Pot of Braised Vegetables. The first day of Fall came in cool when I made this meal so it was the perfect thing, warm and nourishing. Recipe is easily adapted to whatever vegetables you have on hand. A good clean out the fridge meal if you will.


Clams and Orzo. I should have added more pasta water to this meal to have more broth for bread dipping. Great flavors here and super easy to make.

Well, there you have it. I would totally recommend this book. Be sure also to check out Tara’s lovely blog HERE.

So, the middle of October our kitchen remodel begins. I’m pretty nervous about having the kitchen closed for what they tell me will be 4 weeks! However, I’m going to do my best to cook as many recipes as I can from this book


Heidi Swanson’s new book Near & Far. She has a lovely blog called 101 cookbooks. Check that out HERE. This cookbook is inspired from both her travels and influences from her own town. I’m looking forward to this one. In the meantime, Bon Appetite!

Thanks so much for stopping by. I appreciate your support so much.


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My Fall Plate


Thought I’d take a moment and share what is on my Fall plate this year. I actually kicked off the first few days of Autumn at Kim Klassen‘s ‘Finding Stillness‘ workshop (yesterday’s post.) It was a great experience, not only to see Kim’s lovely space, but to connect with some wonderful women…kind, creative, gentle souls.

I continue to make my way through a cookbook a month. September was Seven Spoons by Tara O’Brady. Cookbook review coming on Tuesday 10/6 and will announce the book for October at that time as well.

Brian & I will be attending the Northwest Tea Festival Saturday 10/3. It’s being held at the Seattle Center. I’ve never been to this event so am looking forward to learning a lot about tea.

Brian decided that it was time for new kitchen cabinets, countertop, and sink so beginning the middle of October the kitchen will be closed for this big project. They tell me the whole thing should take 4 weeks. Not sure how well I will be able to cook through recipes with a closed kitchen, but I’m gonna give it a try! We are also hoping to host the family Thanksgiving dinner this year but that will depend on this kitchen thing. Fingers crossed.

Super excited about my upcoming workshop with Sara & Hugh Forte from Sprouted Kitchen fame. Sara is the chef and food stylist. Hugh is the photographer. The workshop will be held at Aran Goyoaga’s studio (aka Cannelle et Vanille) downtown Seattle. Two days of bliss from 10/17 – 10/18. I plan to soak up all the inspiration & information I can!

Just finished Tara Austen Weaver’s memoir ‘Orchard House‘. Such a wonderful story about a garden in Seattle and the family that grew there. Tara is the editor of Edible Seattle magazine, a lovely publication about food happenings around the area with recipes as well. I never miss an issue! She also has a lovely blog called Tea & Cookies.

Still much to do in the garden to clean it up for winter. I’ve been saving cardboard so I can sheet mulch the vegetable beds. Once all the kitchen cabinets are unpacked I should have plenty of cardboard for my project!

Music choices switch out a bit around here in the Fall as well. Right now I’m into Jazz standards. One of my absolute favorite pieces is “Autumn Leaves”. It was originally written by Joseph Kosma in 1945 (in French.) The English version was written by Johnny Mercer in 1947. Edith Piaf once sang the song in both French & English. Many artists have performed this classic, but so far my favorite recording is by Paula Cole. The link below takes you to a YouTube that pairs the song with lovely portraits of famous female actors. You can see & listen HERE.


Barring any surprise trips, that’s pretty much us for Fall. What’s going on in your next of the woods this season?


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Stillness Found


Back in late May of this year, Kim Klassen made an exciting announcement – she would host a Finding Stillness workshop in her brand new studio! The timing was absolutely incredible as I had just been discussing with Brian the week prior that I was thinking of making a trip to Canada to see Kim in person because I felt a connection there and wanted to see her in her own environment in Rivers, Manitoba. Weird, eh? Naturally I took this as a sign and immediately registered. Oh my, am I ever glad I did! My first foray into the photographer gathering was with Shutter Sisters at their Oasis gathering in Palm Springs back in 2012. It was a lovely first gathering and a huge group, around 60 or 70 people. Connecting with everyone was a bit of a challenge, though I did meet some very special people that I have a connection with to this day. The second gathering was hosted by Kim Klassen & Xanthe Berkeley in Sunset Beach, with the helping hands of Myriam & Alisha (from the Shutter Sisters gathering.) It was held in a large multi-level house right on the beach. The setting was beautiful and I definitely came away with some knowledge and that feel good vibe. But with multi-levels to the house, I didn’t always know what demo was going on. If I wasn’t on that floor at that time, I missed out. Then Kim announced that she had purchased her own studio space. So much work. I remember the original pictures showed a rather dark space that was in a bit of a shambles. I watched as she continued posting pictures of the progress, and though I was so excited for her, I never dreamed she would be hosting a workshop / retreat so soon! But then it happened. Here are a few pictures of the space


I’m standing at the front door looking to toward the back area. From left to right are Diana Foster, Dorry Emmer, Gigi Thibodeau, and Barb Brookbank. Just look at the beautiful light!


Here I’m standing in the middle of the space looking toward the front. Check out the  ladder, and the table and chair!


These shelves are on a wall behind Kim’s desk and represents just a fraction of all the lovely props she has collected. I felt like a kid at a friends house admiring all their cool toys and not knowing where to begin!


There’s beauty everywhere. I have a thing for cabinets with lots of little drawers. Sadly this furniture was way too big to fit in my suitcase!


In addition to the privilege of just being here, we were given gift bags, hand crafted by Aeleen Sclater. Oh my, it included a CD of her harp music (yes, I said harp!), chocolate, organic tea from the area, a small notebook, a beautiful pin representing the area, a lovely spoon & hankie from Carol – the lady whose antique store was in the space where Kim’s studio sits now. Carol moved a few blocks up and over. Nice shop! Back to this picture. It was taken in the ‘living room’ area of the studio. Isn’t this old trunk to die for?! Aeleen found it abandoned in an old barn. I never find stuff like this. I guess first I need an old barn nearby!


Aeleen also hand lettered the lovely tags on our gift baskets. The woman is multi-talented.


Here is Aeleen in the ‘cafe’ space of the studio. She prepared a fabulous lunch for us that day (yes, she can cook too!)


Picture of one of Aeleen’s salads. Quinoa! Boy was it ever delicious.


The first day we had a little play with some pancakes that were made at the bakery just a few doors down from the studio. Kim did a little demo, then we all got a chance to play.


Here’s Barb Brookbank giving it a go with a top down view as Kim & Xanthe assist.


Here’s my take on the pancakes. A straight on shot, backlit, assisted by the lovely Gigi Thibodeau pouring the syrup.


This became a common occurrence, people standing on step-stools, ladders, even the counter in this case to get the shot! Xanthe was working on a little video clip here.


When we came into the studio on day two, a lovely Fall table scape was laid out for us to photograph. Truly magical.


I also did a lighting demo that day utilizing a small table light Kim had laying around. I intend to get the name of that light as I think I want one for myself. I was pretty nervous, but thought if I set up a super simple still life using the light, people might feel comfortable enough to give it a try, and they did! There are 3 other people I’m aware of that want this same light!


All kinds of demo’s were going on. Here Barb Brookbank is observing a scene with Xanthe. There were both still life and video of this scene.


Kim’s son Bryce stopped in a few times. Here is filming the action as Xanthe poses for Diana Foster.


Here is a close-up of that door Xanthe was standing next to. Don’t you just love the carrots? Who needs a wreath!


We also had lovely walks, like this one on Kim’s favorite trail. In the group that day we had Aeleen, Diana, Brenda Kearns, Gigi, Barb, Kim, Xanthe, Shelley Rounds, Dorry, Ben, and me behind the camera. Another person in our group, Barbara Skrobuton was all by herself in the studio snapping away with her camera!


A chef came in on the last day to prepare lunch for us. Let me just say right now we did not go hungry! Ilse runs her own catering business and I gotta say – she rocks the house! Not only was the food delicious, but she graciously took her time and holding still here and there while all of us had our cameras trained on her. How many chefs would do that?


My top down shot that was the beautiful chaos of food that Ilse used to make salads and individual pizzas.

Of course there were more demos like this one with Kim photographing the fabulous old table & chair


We also had an hour of stillness everyday. You could do whatever you liked, but no talking. It turned out to be one of my favorite times of the day. On the last day, Aeleen brought in her harp and played for us. I don’t have a photo of that as I had tears running down my face at the time. Quite an emotional experience. Amazingly enough, the feeling has stayed with me. To the point of having difficulty with re-entry! The last pictureI will share from a demo is my take on the table & chair with this thought that I had posted on Instagram but wanted to be sure and share it hear as well


What is finding stillness? One of the images I recently posted on Instagram with the hashtag “findingstillness2015” a person left a comment asking “what is finding stillness?” I’m guessing she was asking about the hashtag, but i found it a profound question. For me, stillness happens when the mind is quiet, the body finds a soothing rhythm, and the positive energy flows. Finding it happens for me when I embrace my beauty, trust my inner voice, and let my light shine bright. Is that a 24-7 experience? No. But when it happens, sweet peace and tranquility washes over me. What is finding stillness? My hope is that each & every person finds their answer.


There are many, many more pictures I took and I know my words do not do the experience justice. Sometimes I think the most important experiences have no words. So instead of jabbering on, I’ll leave you with this one of sweet Ben. I think we plum wore him out during our visit. You know, he didn’t get his long walks with mamma Kim like he usually does because of our presence and yet every morning as we came in the door he greeted us with his tail wagging happily. Such a sweet boy.

I know for a fact that Kim will host more workshops in the future so be sure to keep your eye out on her website!

Kim Klassen

Xanthe Berkeley

Also be sure to check out these website from some of the attendees at this workshop:

Diana Foster (The Studio 56)

Barb Brookbank

Brenda Kearns

Shelley Rounds

This folks are also on Instagram: @keepingwiththetimes, @bekearns, @dianafoster56, @gigithibodeau, @shelley.rounds


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Falling for Autumn


Technically Autumn doesn’t begin until September 23rd this year, but Mother Nature follows her own calendar. Temperatures have been substantially cooler – thank goodness! Here in the Pacific NW, temperatures in the 90’s feel like over 100 degrees. Summer kind of beat us up with too many days of hot weather. It was exhausting!


But now the things have cooled off and it’s harvest time. Our little espaliered apple tree has offered up quite the bounty this year. The tree has 3 different varieties of apples grafted onto it; Chahalis, Spartan, and Akane. All natives of Washington State. The tree was planted in the early 80’s and true to it’s espalier training, though it stands only 4 feet tall, on each side it’s branches stretch out 6 feet. Makes for pretty easy harvesting.


Both Brian & I love apples in pies and tarts, and in savory dishes as well, and of course just eaten fresh by itself.


This year we have enough to do a bit of canning as well so I’m making apple butter and put up a large jug of apples for pickling.


Now I’ve never pickled apples or eaten them so I’ve no idea how they will turn out. Pickling is all about patience so these little guys will not be ready until the middle of October. I’ll report back!


Fall is my favorite time of year. I am madly in love with Autumn; it’s jewel tone colors of crimson and gold, the cool breezes, the bountiful harvest. Grateful to Mother Nature for bringing us this season a little prematurely. Much to be thankful for.


In your part of the world, what season are you currently in? What is your favorite season and why?

Thanks so much for stopping by. Your support and encouragement is much appreciated.


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Cookbook Review – A Modern Way To Eat



In the month of August I explored Anna Jones’ first cookbook, A Modern Way To Eat. All of the recipes are vegetarian and some are also vegan and gluten free. Though Brian & I are meat eaters, we are striving to include more meatless meals into our diet. I feel this book will be a good one to have on hand to help with that endeavor.

Because Brian is a huge fan of cauliflower I decided to try her Bay Leaf & Saffron-roasted cauliflower


Flavors were great, albeit a bit dry. There are golden raisins in this and next time I will plump them up first before adding them. Next was Honey Roasted Radishes


This was super tasty and I’m usually not a big fan of radishes as I find them to be a tad bitter – but prepared this way really mellowed that out. They would be a super appetizer on their own or added to a salad, plus they look pretty! We have a fondness for quesadillas so had to go for her Speedy Sweet Potato variety


First time I’ve prepared quesadillas without cheese – didn’t miss it at all! We served this with a side salad for a light dinner. To satisfy my pasta craving I next prepared the Avocado & Lemon Zest Spagetti


The yellow cherry tomatoes were not called for in the recipe but I added them because, well, we are over-run with tomatoes from our garden. Was a good addition to this already tasty pasta dish. There are a good number of snack recipes including this Spiced Salt Caramel Popcorn


Good flavors here but oh so sticky! This is one recipe I probably wouldn’t do again as I’m not a huge fan of popcorn and super sticky fingers kinda creeps me out! (But don’t you love the mattress springs I used for this shot? The lovely Amy Duncan of Four Corners Design gifted these to me. Hours & hours of entertainment!) We also harvested potatoes from our garden so thought I could put them to use in this Caramelized Leek & New Potato Salad


I just love anything with leeks in it and this was so good. Of all the recipes I tried, this is probably my favorite. Because of all the tomatoes from our garden, I decided to cook the Tomato & Coconut Cassoulet


Intriguing mix of flavors here but overall a bit too liquid. Probably because I had used fresh tomatoes instead of the canned ones called for. I think if I had seeded the tomatoes it would have been better. Will give this one another go. Finally decided to try one of Anna’s lemonade variations: Blueberry Mint Lemonade


I had a lot of blueberries from the garden so made good use of them in this recipe. Super refreshing and it was fun to photograph too! Brian also discovered it makes a great base for a cocktail and added some vodka to one of his servings!

Overall I find this to be a great book to have on hand. Whether you are a seasoned vegetarian cook, just beginning, or like us, simply wanting more meatless meals in your diet – this book is a good resource. There is a great soup chart where you pick items from these categories; base layer, herb, spice, main body, back-up flavor, making it more substantial, and finishing. Quite brilliant really.

So, for the month of September I will be cooking out of this book


I’m pretty excited about Seven Spoons by Tara O-Brady. The book itself is beautiful – lots of great photographs & I’ve been following her blog by the same name for a time now. She also has a gift for telling stories so reading both her blog and her book is a treat. Until next time…

Bon Appetit!

Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by. Your support and encouragement is greatly appreciated.

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Sucking Out The Marrow



“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.” – Henry David Thoreau


I wonder how Mr. Thoreau would feel in today’s world with its global economy, being bombarded with media 24/7, and the pull of social media everywhere. Where in the world could he go to escape it all?


I thought about him quite a bit while hiking through this lovely park just a mere 40 minutes South of us.


Given my age with a child grown and running a business out of our home, I am privileged with the opportunity to carve out moments of solitude and also to indulge in interests that serve to “suck all the marrow out of life” for me.


But there are days when I do have chores to deal with or other unavoidable events from the outside world that seep in and occasionally overwhelm.


I need to take a lesson from these old trees and the undergrowth here in this park.


You see its been a very, very dry Spring & Summer here in Seattle, and the plants show it.


In the dark shady areas, it is still beautifully green, though if you look close you will see many plants have already dried up and moved to their next stage. Several of the trees in this park are over 100 years old. They certainly know more than I!


But the environment here seems to take it all in stride as if to say “oh well, its been a dry year and we’ve lost some of our neighbors. This too shall pass.”


Midway through the hiking trail I usually take when visiting here, is a bluff overlooking the Puget Sound. Often, if you watch carefully, you will see an Eagle sitting in her nest. Looking out there are usually a few sailboats gliding by. The tangle of branches in the dark shadows of the first half of the trail – looking like the tangle of thoughts in my mind – suddenly open to this bluff and my mind clears. Perhaps Thoreau was on to something here!


Table Questions

What does it mean for you to “suck all the marrow out of life”?

What does that for you?

About the photos: All taken at Discovery Park located in Seattle, WA. Many, many years ago while training for my first marathon, my trainer had me meet him at this park. I had never been and was quite taken by it. It is a frequent place where Brian & I take our walks.

Thanks so much for stopping by. I appreciate the time you took to be here.

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Tending to Life


The Gardener

Have I lived enough?

Have I loved enough?

Have I considered Right Action enough, have I come to any conclusion?

Have I experienced happiness with sufficient gratitude?

Have I endured Loneliness with Grace?

I say this, or perhaps I’m just thinking it.

   Actually, I probably think too much.

Then I step out into the garden, where the gardener, who is said to be a simple man,

   is tending his children, the roses.

– Mary Oliver


I’m a big fan of Mary Oliver’s poetry and this is one of my favorites. As a gardener myself (albeit a neglectful one at the moment), I appreciate the use of the gardener’s work to illustrate the tending to life.


As we get older, feeling our own mortality, I think we ask these questions more often.


And I think that’s a good thing. Tending to the present moment expands our sense of life, but it is also important to tend to the prospect of death as well.


I think these questions are a constructive way of doing that. Used as a guide to bring us back to what is important to us when the noise & confusion of life leads us astray.



Table Questions

What questions are you asking of yourself these days?

When feeling caught up in the tasks and appointments of the day, what do you do to bring yourself back to center?

About the photos: All taken in my garden, which is not the tidy showplace it has been in years passed. It is a jungle out there, with weeds that need “relocating”, but somehow I am called to other things at the moment. The garden patiently waits.

Thanks so much for stopping by.


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New Mexico – Beauty in the Desert


Brian & I were in New Mexico for a few days for my family reunion. However, we did get a chance to get out with our cameras and capture some of this beautiful area.


These sweet sunflowers are growing wild everywhere. Some people here actually consider them weeds and mow them down. I think they are beautiful.


_DSC1722My sister lives in Nogal, Nw Mexico, which is in the Southeastern part of the state. Their area is more in the hills so it is more green than in other parts of the state.



Brian doing his thing!


_DSC1738Probably not my best picture but was drawn to the jelly & jam promotional painting on the side of this abandoned building so had to share.

_DSC1743About 3 years ago there was a terrible fire in this area so there are many black, dead tree skeletons standing in the hills. Already green grasses have grown back at the base. Nature finds a way.


Many long-needle pines in this area. So graceful.



Lots of old fences, still serving a purpose.


We ran across this great old abandoned motel along the highway heading toward Roswell.


_DSC1782Love the fact that amidst the ruins of this old motel, this lovely rose bush still offers her best blossoms.


_DSC1787I’ll be back next week to resume the “Table Questions” theme post. Just wanted to share these while the memory of this place is still fresh in my mind.

Thank you all so much for stopping by. Means so much.


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Between the Tiger and the Dragon


There is an old Sufi story that has a man leaving one life for another, and far enough into the desert that he has no sense of where he has been or where he is going.


At some point he begins to sense a wild tiger chasing him. He has nowhere to go. Frantically, he runs and runs and comes upon a well. As the tiger approaches, he has not choice but to jump into the dark well.


As he falls, he can see the tiger growling above him. As he continues to fall, he can suddenly see that a dragon is hissing and waiting for him at the bottom of the well.


Just then, he sees a branch growing out of a stone in the well. He grabs it. Amazingly, it holds his weight. As he strains to hold on, with the tiger above and the dragon below, a single ray of light falls on the one leaf on the one branch that holds his life.


And on that leaf, in the light, is a single drop of honey.


With the hissing of the dragon and the growling of the tiger in his ears, the man, leaving one life for another, summons all his strength, to lick the single drop of lighted honey.


The story ends there with the man, en route to a new life, savoring the single drop of honey while the tiger and the dragon wait.

I had read this story a few years back and then Mark Nepo reminded me of it as he read it at the workshop I attended a couple weeks ago. While on my cancer journey, I felt very much like that man, hanging on the branch. My tiger was the cancer and my dragon was the chemo. While going through treatment I felt like one or the other was going to do me in. But one day while in the treatment room with my iPad open, I received an email about a year long photoshop class. At first I told myself that with all the chemo there was no way I could take the class. But then I stopped, looked around the room and made the decision to sign up anyway, even if I would not be able to do all the assignments. That email was my branch, and the class was my honey. That class let to several others and I formed new friendships with people who continue to be an inspiration to me. What I’ve come to learn from this experience is that these lighted moments come and when they do, we need to grab on, to taste the honey of life in that moment. I do my best to carry the lighted moment with me.


Table Questions

What is your tiger and your dragon?

What does standing by one’s core in the face of danger and the press of life mean to you?


I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who left a comment on the blog last week for The Conversation post. I am touched by your soulful comments. I continue to appreciate each and every one of you for visiting me here.

About the photos: Last week we decided to beat the heat and head over to Double Bluff on Whidby Island. It is a local spot. Lots of driftwoods washes ashore and the kids have fun making forts with all the debris. When the tide is out it is also a grand place for beach combing.

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