Friday, January 23, 2015

Clearing a Way to the Dawn

"Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star." 
~ Henry David Thoreau

The other day, I just happened to be upstairs in time to see the Dawn peek through my attic window. 

But I could only see a glimpse. 

There was an old bed frame in the way, boxes of papers, books and who knows what, a bag of old, abandoned shoes, and a table upside down, awaiting a garage sale. 

Hastily I cleared a path, stumbling over boxes.  By the time I foraged my way to see, it was too bright to take a picture. 

Today the Dawn arrived again.  Today the way was clear.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

In Celebration of A Life...

"Be it as if I were with you..."

"The best of me then when no longer visible--for toward that I have been incessantly preparing."

~ Walt Whitman

Today I walked in Nature, celebrating the beautiful life of Frances Alice Toepfer, May 8, 1922 - December 6, 2014. 

"I feel so very thankful to have known Frances Toepfer as a wonderful mentor and friend. My journalism and newspaper staff instructor at Lincoln from 1979 to 1982, she encouraged and delighted me for years with occasional heart to heart talks and letters. I visited Fran most recently last summer, and she was still enjoying her writing, artwork and reading. She was actively engaged in life and beautifully aware of her loving spiritual path. I too am a writer, and she inspired me to think expansively from the very first day I walked into her class, not only in my writing, but in life itself. She is even with me now, reminding me to write succinctly (and yes, I sense she is inviting us to smile, as all of "her writers" remember...). I express my heartfelt condolences."


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Sleep Epidemic

"Life is so strange 
When you don't know 
How can you tell 
Where you're going to?" 
~ Missing Persons, "Destination Unknown"

It is perhaps just a little disconcerting to doze off with my laptop in my lap the second time this week, about to blog, this time not quite sure what to write about, and then awaken to reading this...Siberian woman becomes latest victim of unexplained mass sleep epidemic

At least my blog for the night is done...(and yes, that song popped into my head, just as I awakened, strange indeed...)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


"I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journeywork of the stars." 
~ Walt Whitman

As I was on my walk today, a delicate pattern at my feet captured my attention.  I cannot really know what the winter winds had left upon the ground, but I stopped to breathe, observe and celebrate the grace of its simplicity.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


"There is always a gap between intention and action." ~ Paulo Coelho

In the two or three months before Christmas, every time I went to a particular grocery store, they would ask me if I was collecting stamps for some sort of promotional program.  I always would say "Yes".  Because "Why not?"

One day last week, I noticed the woman in front of me apparently retrieving her stamps for a rather ugly serving dish, too small to do much serving.  It looked rather useless actually.

But when I got up to the register, I asked when I needed to retrieve my stamps.  "Tomorrow is the last day."

So what did I do?  I spent who knows how much time (maybe an hour?) looking for stamps obscurely stashed away in my kitchen (though I thought I had stashed them all in the same obscure place), carefully placing them one by one by one by one in little squares on a sheet I also managed to somehow find.  For 50 stamps (equating to $1000 in groceries, I think), I'd get some sort of a pan, after all, "a $14.99 value".

I didn't bother to count the stamps before I put them on the sheet.  But I saw my destination...42, 43, 44.........45...........................46...................................................

No more stamps.

I probably spent 15 minutes at least looking for 4 more stamps in my kitchen.

The sheet said I could pay $7.99 for the $14.99 pan with what I had.  Why?

And that's the question, isn't it?  Why?

I never did find the other stamps.  I would have liked to take a picture of the sheet I so carefully filled out, give it a useful purpose, but it's long gone with the recycling.

Sometimes the goals we set are not really that important.  Sometimes they are.  And sometimes it's the intent that matters most of all.

I fell asleep last night before I could write the "sheet of stickers" post already in my head, my laptop literally in my lap as I dozed off (and I forgot when I awakened and then went back to sleep for real).  I had thought I might blog every day, but my body overruled me.  When the dog awakened me just now, as she does early in the morning, I required myself to write, my "resolution" shattered.  Why?  It's really the intent that matters.  Time to get more needed rest...still, I'm kind of stubborn about such things (which is why I "almost" filled that silly sheet)...I may write twice today... ;-)  I won't require myself to post a picture went out in the recycling.

Sunday, January 11, 2015


“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” 
~ Douglas Adams

I have an old Garmin GPS device in my car I generally only use when I'm already lost in downtown Portland (which used to happen every time I ventured down there, but lately I've been doing a bit better, especially when I take the bus). 

Despite my advanced degree in Computer Science (and former life as a computer scientist), I am and always have been a very special kind of technophobe.  That's precisely why I at least tried to do my share of work in "human factors" (the art of making people far less technophobic) because quite honestly most software is not designed with actual human beings in mind.  Thus technophobes are made, not born, and it's not their fault at all.

Everyone in Oregon recalls horrific stories of people lost in the mountains, blindly following navigational instructions down some minor logging road.  One couple was separated, and a woman lasted for weeks in her car, snowbound in the mountains, while her husband sadly froze to death trying to hike his way to help.

A couple of months ago, while picking up a client at a downtown hotel for an early morning meeting, my Garmin told me to turn right, I obediently obeyed, and I ended up on a bridge heading the opposite direction, over the river in the dark, then by the river an unfamiliar warehouse district, then b
ack across the river on one of the oldest bridges in Portland (a draw bridge that thankfully was not letting a boat through at the time).  There is really only one bridge in downtown Portland I actually know well (and now I know 3 ;-) ).  I used a second navigational device on my iPhone to find my way back, stopping more than once along the way to check the map (and don't ask me why I don't use my iPhone more often). 

Years ago, I will never forget driving in circles downtown while taking one of the brightest engineers at our company to an awards ceremony.  She had a PhD and was from India, an absolutely brilliant woman with multiple patents to her name.  The navigational device kept telling us to turn and to turn and to turn on a very rainy night on a very circuitous route.  Eventually, we both laughed, realizing technology had tricked and gotten the best of both of us (and it's even possible the results of one of her papers had been embedded in the device).  So we followed our instincts, parked the car and walked the rest of the way.

Yet another time, while heading to a big radio station downtown, not once, but on two different occasions spaced enough apart I forgot all about the first time, my silly Garmin told me to turn on the worst possible road of all, the "transit mall corridor" (in fact, this has happened yet another time outside the convention center).  When you don't know where your going, rarely drive downtown  and nobody is front of you, nothing is more scary than a transit mall corridor (except maybe one of the bridges) because at first you have no idea whether 1) you are actually supposed to be on that road at all (in some cities, you aren't),  2) which direction the traffic is heading (it always looks one-way the wrong way for some reason), 3) where the heck you are supposed to drive (when frazzled, it's surprising how confusing that can be, as there can be a bus lane next to a light rail lane) 4) did I just go through one of those awful downtown red light cameras or stop too far over the line? (I know of red light cameras in the suburbs that will penalize you for turning right on red without stopping completely behind the line before you turn, but the problem with those is you can't inch up to see if anyone is actually coming, so I usually decide not to turn at those intersections at all - except by accident downtown when a Garmin tells me to turn.)  and 5) please tell me the light rail, trolley, bus, both or all are not coming before I get a chance to get my wits about me and find the proper lane (or get off the road altogether if there is no proper lane).

Lately my ancient Garmin tells me my maps are out of date and usually displays a huge "?" (and since I only use it when I'm lost, I never have time to get the maps).  But every once in a while, when I actually know where it is I'm going, like when I choose not to turn down a transit mall corridor, what my Garmin tends to say is "Recalculating..."  It thinks it knows the route, but a now wiser me knows better.

In life, there are many times a seemingly unadventurous (yet surprisingly adventurous) soul like me will choose a special, custom route, even rambling and circuitous.  My friends might say I'm lost, the maps not yet available.  I have some idea of a destination (or at least what my destination ISN'T).  As for my navigational device?  It is actually my Heart, the best human factor of all.

Saturday, January 10, 2015


"...the seed still unbroken
the star still unburnt..." 
~ Ali Smith, "How to be both"

I found the altar scattered on the ground today, many pieces missing.  How it came to be and not I cannot know.

Nature restores all things to what they Are, even as it always builds Anew.  The entire forest is an Altar, as is our entire Planet Earth...

Friday, January 9, 2015


“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn't understand growth, it would look like complete destruction." 
~ Cynthia Occelli

While walking I noticed a tree, off the trail and inaccessible.  It had fallen, perhaps in the winds last month, perhaps last year, perhaps last week.  Cut off from its roots, it came to rest, suspended.

I moved an ivy plant the other day, in my home, with care.  Last year when I picked it up, I broke a vine, the greater portion of the plant cut off and fallen to the floor.  How long did it take the leaves to know the roots were there no longer?  How long did it take my plant to grow fresh new leaves and vines?

Perhaps it wasn't a tree at all, fallen in the forest.  Perhaps it was a branch masquerading as a tree.  Perhaps the real tree thrives, hidden from my view, preparing for the Spring.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


"'Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again." 
~ Joseph Campbell

At the beginning of every yoga class, there is a statement, translated and not:  "Now is the time for yoga."

"Now is the time for Beauty." echoed in my thoughts, as splashes of light in the forest called me to a sunny day.  On any given morning, there are many things I "need to do", but when "Now is the time for Beauty", Beauty is what I need.

Eventually I came upon an altar, its origins unknown.  Perhaps it was a child at play.  Perhaps it was an adult.  Is there really any difference?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Just Keep Loving...

"Everyone just keeps loving through it." ~ A wise anonymous teen

Overhearing this snatch of synchronistic conversation from two young ladies jogging by, I reflected as I walked...

No matter what "it" we might encounter, all we need to do is Love. That's the very Key to Peace on Earth, Peace with one another and ourselves. 

At first I got a different meaning, multi-dimensional for sure...It is only through "It", the Universe, that we always find a way to Love.  "It" is Love Itself and so are we!  Life Itself is Love...

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Weavers

“A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men...” ~ Herman Melville

The weavers of the web today revealed their presence in the mist.  We need not see the weavers to know the wonders of their work...

Monday, January 5, 2015

When Day to Day Begins...

"The angel shook her head slowly and said. 'Six pairs of hands.... no way.'" 
~ Erma Bombeck, "When God Created Mothers" 

For me (and for most of us), the real "New Year" starts when "day to day" begins. 
Even before the coffee was brewing or I launched my "work at home", I decided I don't have time this year to search for socks.  There are only a few strays left...

I'm tired of extra pans in the sink, despite filling the dishwasher the night before. 

Somehow the first of "the dreaded attic boxes" came to my attention.  (That's the "new car" sticker from my 2007 Honda.)

Real New Year's resolutions arrive in the doing, not the planning.  And even with high school nearing its end, a Mom's day to day continues...

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Winter Reflections of a "Lady" called Susan...

"But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs..." 
~ C.S. Lewis 

This is part of the view from one of my windows.  At night, a golden glow seeps in.  

I could choose to reflect on the "starkness" of winter (or the "starkness" of a view).  

Or I could choose to reflect on "Narnia".  

Did I mention the stand-alone "wardrobe" upstairs?  

There exists a magical forest...