Left Coast Dreams: Lost in Wildwood

So fellow travelers, come with me to a land of pure imagination (cue Willy Wonka Theme.)


One of the finds I came across last year while treasure hunting in Portland was the children’s novel Wildwood. Written by  local musician Colin Meloy (lead singer of the Decemberists) I first discovered the book in Powell’s, but did not purchase it, an omission I regretted almost immediately.  So a few days later, when I came across a hard cover copy in one of Portlands fabulous vintage shops (soon to be featured in a post of their own) I instantly added it to my pile of treasures.

Wildwood is an engaging story of a young girl’s quest to save her baby brother who is kidnapped by crows from the Impassible Wilderness, which for some mysterious reason the heroine is quite able to enter when others cannot. The mystery of why is part of the secret world and an unknown past she discovers while searching for her brother.  The series has (of course there were sequels) all the elements of my favorite childhood novels; there is adventure, weird plot twists, lots of animals, mystery, fantasy and of course magic. Adults are supposed to know better than to willingly suspend their disbelief so easily. Yes, I do have an excuse to read current children’s literature to find books for our special needs students (most of whom read well below a fifth grade level)  but I readily admit I have no trouble immersing myself in fantastic other worlds. Give me a strong female character who must face self doubts, over come fears and break a good number of “rules” to fulfill her mission and I’m hooked.


Reading with my Harry Potter Glasses back in the days before I needed my real Harry Potter glasses.

So on this return trip to PDX, I was thrilled to find a hard cover edition of Under Wildwood, the second book of the series at Powell’s SE Hawthorne Boulevard location.  Why yes, I could have ordered it on Amazon anytime this past year after finishing the first book. What would be the point of such a non magical acquisition? Like the first book, I had to do some treasure hunting to find book two; Powell’s main store only had the paperback editions. Ever since my original paperback editions of the seven Narnia books fell apart while reading them to my daughters, if I find a series that’s a keeper, I collect all the books in hardcover.  When we move, I expect those hardcover books will be among the few possessions I deem worthy of shipping.

As a kid, reading provided a welcome escape from the isolation of being someone who didn’t quite fit in. I was more likely to spend time collecting bugs than playing with Barbies, more interested in climbing trees than braiding hair and often picked on for being short,”slant eyed” and eating rice with sticks. Reading opened my mind to different ways of seeing the world and created a thirst for knowledge and adventure which remains with me.  Even now, my reading choices lean toward nonfiction, mysteries and novels other people often find “strange.”  The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce comes to mind.  While there is no wizardry in the story line, there is a kind of magic in the transformation which Harold and (spoiler alert) his wife experience.

Perhaps I am drawn to mystics and magic because I find humanity’s inhumanity painfully excruciating to witness. In my first career as a video journalist I was always grateful for the feature assignments which let me tell stories of hope and inspiration. As a mother, and now an educator, I realized I had to keep telling those stories of hope to my daughters and students. “Kindness is my religion,” a smiling Dalai Lama reminds me from the inspiration board at my desk. To live that truth takes more than faith. For me it requires constant encounters with moments of magic, encounters which happen most often when I seek renewal in nature.

If I had returned to Portland in search of both home and magic, then there would have to be some hiking expeditions undertaken and there was something about the trails of Tillamook Forest just west of Portland which was calling us back. It would be a hike with a story to remember.


To be continued

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.




Left Coast Dreams: The Power of Books

So fellow readers, once upon a time a little six year old girl wandered into a tiny corner shop she often walked by on her way home from school. She was greeted by a kind woman sitting at a large desk, who explained this “shop” was a magical place called “Library” where one could read books for free.  Better yet, if one could sign one’s name on the card, one could bring those books home at no cost as long as the books were returned in good condition within two weeks.  The little girl, who had recently learned to read, was amazed. She hurried home and practiced writing her name in the language called Cursive, as that was the language one needed to use when signing one’s name on the card. It was not long before she was bringing home armfuls of books to read. So it came to pass this child discovered the mystical power of books.


panoramic shot of Powells Books, Portland OR, by Emma Mariko Rahalski


There is no way to adequately describe the Portland icon known as Powell’s City of Books. Words and photos may give an inkling of the magnitude of it’s extensive collection but even videos cannot capture the feeling of being immersed in a cavern of books so vast it requires a map to navigate.



Several stories high, a full city block in length and width, it has information centers strategically stationed through out the 68,000 square feet of nine color coded rooms. Each information station is manned by a knowledgeable staff person whose personal mission is to help you find any book you seek; in the process they often find books you didn’t realize you were seeking until they happened to mention their existence. Oh and it’s not just books; there are all manner of printed materials from maps to games and more.


And because it is not uncommon for patrons to spend several hours meandering around the 3,500 individual sections (see map above) there is of course the World Cafe, complete with comfortable chairs, WIFI and a menu of reasonably priced sustenance to fuel the most arduous quest.


As with most locations in Portland, the World Cafe is host to some colorful characters.  The fellow in the baseball cap was talking to himself while using elaborate hand motions (maybe casting spells?) to make a paper sculpture out of napkins. The young man across the table bought him a drink and sat down to discuss whatever was on his mind.

If you love books, Powell’s by itself is worth the trip to PDX and my family loves books, so Powell’s was high on everyone’s “must see” list for our first trip to Portland last year.  At first it gives the impression of a modern day big book store.  The main lobby is filled with lots of eye catching displays featuring current best sellers and local literature.



It’s not until one ventures beyond the front room into the cavernous interior that the full impact hits.  Standing on the central landing, looking in all directions I was instantly transported back to the wide-eyed six year old kid who had just discovered the corner “satellite” public library across from PS 19 in the Bronx. That satellite library would fit quite easily in any one of  Powell’s color coded areas.


Holy Dewey Decimals Batman! This was not like the rarely disturbed collection of books on the pristine shelves at my other beloved New York Public Library, the BIG one with the majestic stone lions.


Favorite youngest daughter on the steps of the NYPL circa 2007

Powell’s is a vast maze of living material calling to be read and I have been getting lost in books and subsequently finding myself since I learned to read. The danger of falling under the spell of the hypnotic siren song while wandering aimlessly among the shelves required me to arm myself with a specific goal. The shelves are packed with used books in good condition at a bargain price tucked among new titles, a treasure hunter’s dream. Without a primary target, one could spend hours meandering from section to section. A few moments of searching my mental wishlist and I had a focal point which directed me to these titles


Ah major score! the long lost mysteries of NY Times Best Selling Author Jon Katz.  

as well as a decent stack of local hiking guides and maps, a haul which provided ample reading while my husband and daughter wandered the shelves on their own quests. The hours we spent at Powell’s last year were a highlight of our time in PDX.

This year I had not expected to return to Powell’s so early in our itinerary, but given my need for some contemplative down time I welcomed my daughter’s suggestion we make it our first stop of this trip. What I know now is that six year old kid who succumbed to the spell of well spun stories would soon realize writing her own stories was a way of finding herself. She would fill dozens of black speckled composition notebooks with words and awkward drawings. Although those composition notebooks have been replaced by a laptop and a digital camera she is still writing and creating images to express herself to this day. For me, Powell’s was more than a bookstore, it was a cocoon for creative gestation.

Standing once again on the central landing of Powell’s Books, gazing around at the opportunities for discovery stretching in all directions I felt the first of what would be several “yes the magic is real” moments on this journey. Soon I was settled in a chair at the cafe, with a cup of tea and a sizable stack of reading material ready to surrender to the power of being lost in words while seeking answers.



to be continued

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.





Left Coast Dreams: Getting Lost, Finding Self

So fellow travelers, as mentioned in my previous post, I was returning to Portland to fill in a connection I did not even realize was missing.


Self portrait. Lone Fir Cemetery Portland

Our first Portland trip was an amazing experience. So amazing, I think over the past year I had begun to doubt the reality of that experience. How often do we return to a place where we experienced magic only to find the light is not the same, dimmed perhaps by faith we lost along the way.  Maybe our journey has taken us beyond our original need or growth has brought us to a different level and we must seek for Light in new venues.


Golden Hour Light.  Lone Fir Cemetery

I continue to believe in magic, those moments of joy and peace which come, if we keep our hearts open to receive, when we need them most. Often magic comes unexpected. Like the deep, long hug between my oldest daughter and me when we arrived at the airport. She and I held on, not letting go until waves of love washed away the ache from months and miles of separation.

Last year everything about Portland felt oddly familiar, even as I experienced it all for the first time. As new as it all was, I felt comfortable. I felt as if I had somehow come home. The feeling grew stronger each day. At the same time every day brought the magic of new discoveries, from food cart pods to secret waterfalls. I left with a list of what to explore when we returned and I was returning armed with that list and more.


Elowah Falls. Columbia River Gorge trails.

Would the magical feeling of coming home to a new adventure be there when I returned?

As I stood under the amazing glass and steel canopy of the PDX airport entryway I was suddenly aware of why this past year had been so unsettled and dissonant.  Home was no longer the city where I have lived and worked for forty years.  Home had become HERE in PDX.

This revelation was both a relief and a bit unsettling. I needed time and space to process this insight. So, the next morning when my younger daughter suggested we spend our first day back in Portland at Powell’s Books I had my answer. Because as fellow writer Denise Gainey recently said in her own travel post, sometimes there is no better way to find oneself, than getting lost.

And in Portland there is no better place to get lost when you are seeking answers than in Powell’s Books.



to be continued

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.


Left Coast Dreams: Just Getting There is an Adventure

So fellow travelers, since I didn’t transcribe the journal notes about our first trip to Portland  (the posts I intended to write just never gelled to my satisfaction) this series will be a happy blend of both experiences. In the process of compiling photos and notes from this year’s expedition I became aware our return trip was necessary to completing the experience, at least from my creative vantage point.  More thoughts on that to come. Meanwhile it’s boarding time.

I have been flying all my life; I was an infant the first time I ever flew in a plane. Although it would be another decade before I boarded a plane again, air travel then became a constant of my life.


Airtravel circa 1967. Don’t we look fab?

Back then air travel was such a big deal we dressed up as if going to church.  Given the amount of praying which goes on during take off and landing I guess this makes sense. Nowadays it is not uncommon to see passengers in yoga wear or sweatpants. Given the decreasing square inches of airline seating these days,  I can’t say I blame anyone who boards dressed for comfort. I haven’t worn a dress on a plane since mini skirts hit the clearance racks.

I like flying and I am not an anxious traveler.  I admit I am an anxious trip planner, but somehow once the last suitcase is zipped and the boarding passes are printed ( my phone is too slow for those techie online ones ) my brain kicks into “Let’s do this!” mode.  I always feel a wave of peace just before take off and the rush at landing is more of excitement than fear. In fact I tend to chuckle during landings because I always hear my Dad ( he’s the dapper guy in shades pictured above) saying “Ok kids, get ready to drag your feet.”

Last year’s trip out to Portland was a comedy of missed connections involving a race back to our home airport via airport shuttle, an unplanned overnight in Chicago, additional departures delays which had us arriving in PDX on separate flights almost a day later than expected.  Thank goodness I had booked a beach house for the first weekend so we could relax and reset to full vacation mode.


The Blue Mermaid Beach cottage in Rockaway Beach Oregon.

So this year, when United Airlines had their system meltdown a few days before our scheduled departure, some concern on my part seemed justifiable.  As so often proves true, I worried needlessly.  Intellectually, I know worry is a form of negative meditation. The source of it’s energy is fear is based in the past and future. I know if I examine what is happening right now there is rarely, in fact extremely rarely, anything to fear.  Years of spiritual practice and I am still working at being aware of right now


The joy of flying.

To book affordable airfare, we usually have to fly from another airport (hence the reason for last year’s shuttle drive back to Syracuse from Binghamton to catch a different flight when ours was cancelled.)  This time the itinerary change worked to our advantage, as we would now be departing and returning from our home airport at no extra cost.  If the airlines really want us to leave from here, I wish we could convince them to let us book the tickets that way from the beginning.

No matter, the entire trip out went without a hitch; we even made the connecting flight (we had exactly forty four minutes between flights) with time to spare and we arrived early enough to have dinner at Sizzle Pie with our daughter and son-in-law.


Favorite youngest daughter Emma by the Sizzle Pie Food Pyramid.

The adventure of PDX was off to a great start.

To be continued

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.




Left Coast Dreams: The Space In Between

So fellow travelers, often my creative process brings something from deep within to the surface. To move forward on the path requires I stop and be fully present with what has been too long neglected.  Mindfulness, while not always easy, is essential. Awareness brings hope, healing and peace.




Neither Here nor There

in between Hello and Goodbye

waiting for answers


Photo Note:  wildflowers by Mt Hood, Oregon.


Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Left Coast Dreams : A Changing Landscape

So fellow travelers, today is my solar return, aka birthday, which I am celebrating in one of my favorite places with some of my favorite people.

Once a year the Sun returns to the same degree of its 360* journey where it was at your birth, hence the name solar return. I like the term. It’s a reminder that Light always returns even if we have to wait awhile.  As a seeker of Light I know it can always be found even in the darkest of times through the practice of kindness and compassion.

So I am in Portland, Oregon. We came here last summer to visit our daughter and son-in-law who had moved here earlier in the year. When your kids leave home it is always affirming to see how they are doing firsthand. Within 24 hours I could see why they were so happy they had moved here and the longer we stayed in PDX, the more I fell in love with this city and the Pacific Northwest. The feeling caught me completely by surprise.

I have traveled to many places around the world. I spent my teen years living in Southeast Asia and loved all the wonderful cities we experienced.  I am not one to say “Oh Paris is so charming, I wish I lived here.  Isn’t New Orleans great I want to stay. Wow! wouldn’t it be great to live in one of these beach houses in the Seychelles?”

Ok, the last one, yes I admit I did think for years, but then the island government collapsed and there was a military coup and I expect things are not so grand in paradise anymore. The point is while I may love a place enough to want to visit again, I rarely consider relocating. Then we came to Portland.

Last year I was so absorbed in seeing as much as we could take in I never found the time to write about the experience. I shot close to a hundred photos but not having the technology available to download on the road, I posted just the best phone shots to my Facebook page with some brief journal notes. This trip I came armed with resources, so expect a series of journal posts with photos to follow.

This morning, however, I am reflecting on something author Jon Katz refers to in his Bedlam Farm blog as “the changing landscape of life.” Embedded in the vista which greets our eyes when we rise each day are the symbols of what we value. The landscape we experience as we move through our daily life holds the elements of what we have designated as essential to our being. Sometimes we feel those choices are made for us by circumstances, but ultimately we are the creators of our lives. An event may not be one we consciously choose, yet our thoughts and perceptions of it will create our experience.

If I have learned anything in five decades plus of living (and I hope my life reflects I have been a good student) an essential lesson has been to be aware of where my attention is focused. If I am thinking with a fearful mind, worry and anxiety will drive my choices. When I think with love and gratitude my world is filled with magic and miracles. Those miracles might be as mundane as the perfect parking spot or as wondrous as having a bright blue dragonfly land on my camera lens.

With one daughter happily married and comfortably settled here in Portland and the other about to embark on her college adventure in Tokyo, Japan my life landscape is changing in profound ways. There is some tugging of heart stings but there is an increasing sense of excitement about what is unfolding.

And not by chance I came across a quote I feel fits my new landscape quite well. It’s from Crabby Angel Chronicles ( could there be a more fitting title for me ?)  by Jacob Glass.

Stop chasing joy. Live it.


Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.


… on a very, very small wedding

While I wander the Left Coast gathering adventures and wonderful memories (photos with posts to follow soon) magic is happening on the East Coast too. Enjoy !

just ponderin'


The fairies held a wedding
In the gardens down below
The stars provided twinkle lights
The moon chipped in the glow

And early the next morning
As I walked along the trail
I found the only evidence,
A piece of fairy veil.

Thanks for readin’.


Come on over to Just Ponderin’s Facebook page to comment ❤

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What does it mean to be creative?

So fellow travelers, some thoughts on creativity.

Author Jon Katz, recently posted a piece in his blog about the importance of creativity. He framed the topic with the issue of taking time to be creative and focuses on the struggle of women’s creative expression.  His post got me thinking. He makes valid points regarding women putting off creative expression being related to society’s marginal attitude towards creativity. I would add this is as true for men who would benefit equally from creative expression yet push it aside in the pressure to achieve worldly success. His message, “You don’t have time not to be creative” is universal.

From the responses to his post on the CGBF* page he hit a few chords. One of Jon’s best traits is his willingness to accept differing opinions provided they are not shrouded in hostility or personal attack.  Those parameters are what make the CGBF a reliable haven for creative exploration and allows for some lively and thought provoking dialogue.

I added my own comments, something along the lines of my own growth allowing me to see creativity in many forms.  I listed examples of teachers, dog trainers, computer programmers being creative in their own way. For many people “living (their) life in a meaningful way” may not take the form of a poem, painting or photograph. When a bio engineer creates a better prosthesis I see this as creativity from a different perspective. Still, some sliver of discomfort begged attention.

It was his opening reference to “hobbies” and “painting a watercolor on vacation once a year or so,” which stuck with me like a stinging nettle. For many years, working full time while raising two daughters afforded me very few hours for creative exploration. This is not an excuse; it is reality. There are no more than twenty four hours in every day. During those years when the girls were young, scrapbooking, which definitely comes under the category of a “hobby,” became my main creative outlet.

Were those scrapbooks less of a creative expression because they are seen more as a craft project than art? The question itself points to the way in which “arts and crafts” activities are marginalized. Here’s where the line between “creative work” and “art” begins to draw itself in the sand. Certainly I did not consider my scrapbooks  “art,”  even though the time I spent creating beautiful pages built around memories was every bit “an essential expression of (my) spirit” as if I were writing poems about or painting portraits of those moments.

Working as a special education teaching assistant for our local school district allows me the luxury of an extended summer vacation, something most working mothers do not have. It is a gift of time I consider worth the smaller paycheck. One of the things I did for myself was to set aside enough money to take summer classes, so over the years I explored everything from birdwatching, backpacking and orienteering to knitting, drawing and painting. I always had good intentions of continuing my art time beyond summer, but once we were back in the throes of daily life, consistent time for artwork took a back seat. So yes, I was “painting on vacation once a year.”  To feel like that kind of creativity somehow doesn’t count points to the “falsehoods” we have been taught to tell ourselves about the value of what we chose as creative expression.  Those falsehoods start terribly young too.  I always feel a tremendous sadness when a student tells me they can’t fit art/photography/woodshop/creative writing/culinary arts into their schedule. I have been known to undermine the best efforts of counselors by showing kids a way to shift course loads so one of those classes can fit.  I am such a rebel.

One gift of becoming a member of the CGBF was the opportunity to have a place where I could share the results of my renewed creative interests.  I started taking photos of more than family events and “we were here” vistas, then I took photo classes to challenge myself to improve. When my commentary on the posted work grew longer or generated clever haiku, with some gentle nudging from fellow members I realized I had enough to say to consider starting a blog.  Now, two years later not writing is no longer an option. I hope I am becoming a better writer in the process too.

So there’s the crux of the matter.  It comes down to what we tell ourselves about being creative. If we believe we should only be creative if our stuff  is good enough to be called art, we will not fell compelled to find the time to be creative. If we just give ourselves a chance to take the first steps of creative expression and turn a deaf ear to the voices of judgement. both internal and external, soon we will find “don’t have time not to be creative.”


*the Creative Group at Bedlam Farm can be found on Facebook.  Our contributions can be viewed by the public. Come visit and be inspired to be creative.


Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.


Return to Bedlam Farm Conclusion : Love and Magic

So fellow travelers, do you believe in magic?

By the end of the evening,  all anxiety about driving the winding hills back to the loft apartment had completely evaporated.  Basking one’s soul in the warm camaraderie of kindred spirits and the careful honing of perception from creative focus will do that to negative energy.

My roommates sat at the dining room table, discussing various life changes currently underway in our lives. The diversity in age, gender, background, profession and personalities within the Creative Group make for a kaleidoscope of perspectives on life’s many crossroads. In addition to all the good creative work, there are underlying stories of birth, death, career shifts, physical and emotional healing, family and adventures on and off the road.

I gain more than creative inspiration from my “farmie” family. Every time we gather, whether for an open house or an impromptu lunch  I come home with insights on work I need to do on myself. I would soon discover hitching rides with various friends provided the added benefit of extra discussion time. When we are on the grounds of Bedlam Farm an engaging discussion is likely to be brought to a sudden shift as Jon announces a herding demo or a poetry reading. Extra one on one time offered some gifts I had not expected to gain and I hope it will be reflected in my creative work going forward.

Of course, those events at the farm, along with the art show in Maria’s studio, are a major reason we come to the Open House.  They are a celebration of  all things Bedlam.


Fanny soaking up some love


Tom Atkins reads his ernest poetry from his book Madman’s Courage


Jon working with Fate on sheep herding


Team Bedlam, Fate and Red



and as always photos of people taking photos, Me and Candy in photo ninja mode, photo courtesy of Audrey Gegg


Joshua Rockwood’s visit on Sunday, with his beautiful family was a moving experience for me. His brief, simple and eloquent statement of gratitude for the support he has received (read about his ordeal on Jon’s blog here ) moved many of us to quiet tears.  I will carry the experience with me as a reminder of the importance of truth, compassion and kindness.

And yes, beyond my wildest expectation not only did I meet Jon and Maria’s new dog Fate


(Fate surveys her latest water bottle sculpture)

at one point, when I felt her nudging my backpack as I sat listening to one of the poetry readings I turned and was smothered in sweet puppy kisses.  That and some gentle love from Red are blessings of joy I will hold in my heart.


Jon knows many people come to the Open House events to see the animals. Although none of us spoke directly of it we missed Simon, Lenore and Frieda.  The farm feels significantly different in the way life has of nudging us forward.

What hasn’t changed is the heart of love at the core of Bedlam Farm.  It radiates from Jon and Maria


Our gracious host and his queen. photo courtesy of Joe Gegg


It ripples out from seasoned members inspiring our creative beginnings




It shines bright and forges connections created online into links of true friendship

jons group shot


photo by Jon Katz


Love, encouragement, friendship, family.

Over the two days I spent with this gloriously funny, warm and often wacky group of creative souls I gathered the courage to dig deeper in my writing, filled my heart with examples to strengthen relationships and soaked up enough laughter (I hope) to carry me over the waves of change I still have to weather before we meet again in Autumn.

Magic,  pure magic for which I am ever so grateful to be a part of.



Photo courtesy of Beth Heffern who excels at capturing moments of childhood joy and innocence and whose friendship is one I treasure deeply.


Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready

Return to Bedlam Farm Part 6 : The Golden Hour Walk

So fellow travelers, something magical is about to happen, something we have waited for so long I hardly dare believe it will come to be…..



In his book Letters from the Hive: an intimate history of  bees, honey and humankind ,  author Stephen Buchmann describes a concept called biophilia.  It’s premise is humans have  genetically based physiological and neurological structures which “respond to differing habitats, flora and fauna in selective ways.”

A fitting framework as we head north to the homestead of writer, photographer, recently turned bee keeper, Jeff Anderson.


Beekeeper Anderson checking on the hive. Can you say “late night sugar run?”

Since October of 2013, on the Friday before each Bedlam Farm Open House, Jeff and his gracious wife Laura have hosted a potluck barbecue at their hilltop home in Granville for members of the Creative Group*. For many of us, this event is the first face-to-face encounter with people we have come to know so well through our on-line interactions.

Faith Mayer, who attended her first Open House this weekend described it as meeting people “inside out.” In a post on the CGBF page she explained

Normally, we meet people in person first. We make judgements based on looks, actions and often mundane conversations. If we are lucky, we form friendships from these initial “body” meetings. The CGBF is different. I loved all of these people already. I knew their souls, their thoughts and what made them tick – on a most creative level anyway – perhaps I am being presumptuous, but when I met them in person it was like finding a long last friend.” 

Old friends who’ve just met; sounds preposterous but having lived this experience repeatedly I know it truly does feel like Faith describes.


Add in the mystical beauty of the natural landscape where we gather and it’s no wonder “newbies” and seasoned farmies find themselves coasting through a Bedlam Farm Open House weekend in an altered state of mind.

Then again maybe it’s the food, because gosh darn it every year the table is laden with delights, like Kate’s delicious rhubarb pie, Candy’s bacon wrapped apricot appetizers, fresh salads loaded with produce from local farm markets, some years even homemade breads. And then there was this year’s masterpiece from Beth Heffern

Beths OMFG dinner

a mouthwatering combination of pork fat, sweet citrus and fork tender meat which when posted on the group page had generated a colorful comment from Jeff thus creating it’s name “The OMFG Dish” and yes it was Oh my freakin’ amazing. I wholeheartedly agree with Jeff’s post dinner comment that we need a Hall of Fame for people like Beth who bravely go for the creative gusto in the kitchen and share the results with us lucky pot-luckers. (There will be more about Beth’s many talents to come.)

Once the feasting slowed to appreciative murmurs, Jeff called for the shutterbugs to gather. I turned to Candy and whispered “This really is going to happen.” Her smile echoed the waves of joy lapping at heart.

The Golden Hour Photo walk was something we had planned for several gatherings, but not yet succeeded in doing. A change in weather, delays in timing or dwindling light had always brought the evening to a close without the anticipated photo ops. Last year we did fit in a brisk, chilly twilight stroll; this time we would linger to capture sky paintings


the Angel cloud 

Yes, last October Jeff offered a photo workshop on the morning after the open house, an opportunity I am grateful I was able to have,


Milkweed Fairy my favorite shot from the October photo workshop

still mid-morning light is not quite as golden as summer’s eve.


This time dinner was done early enough to catch the golden tones of the sinking summer sun. Off we went, old and new friends chatting


and clicking away


Jeff graciously gave us a tour of his phenomenal market garden


photo courtesy of Deb German Young


horse pasture




and fields.



The light was magical.



truly magical



Even the Christmas Star showed up,



a Heavenly prophecy of more blessings to come.

(look closely above the center of the sky line for the bright spot of Jupiter,  fainter just to the left and slightly above is Venus. This conjunction, which would grow closer and brighter in the coming nights, is associated with the bright star which guided the Magi.)  

to be continued

Walk Gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

*Readers, you will find the Creative Group’s Facebook page here. It is open to the public for viewing and readers will find a steady stream of really “good stuff.”