Thursday, December 30, 2010

Balance and a Perfect V

I feel so good today.  I wrestled with some personal demons last night, and came out victorious.  I enjoyed a playful online interaction with my 12 year old niece yesterday evening, and that helped bring some joy back into my heart, and remind me of what's really important to me in my life.  Laughter is a very good and healing gift we humans have!  It lifted me out of my dark mood and helped me find some equilibrium.

I'm content with work here at year-end, too.  I started out so strong this year for the first half of the the year, and then had a very disappointing 3rd quarter in sales, which was tough on my confidence, and my pocketbook.  Things were difficult and financially tight as the kids were starting school.  It was a tough time, which happened when other difficult changes were happening in my life.  Included in the difficulties were some significant changes at work, which I had to adjust to.  I felt so off-balance and flailing at a critical time coming into this last quarter of the year.  For many reasons, including my own lack of focus, I just didn't see myself having the monster 4th quarter that I typically have and that I needed to hit my yearly numbers. 

I'm proud to say that I went deep into myself and addressed  some issues which were causing me to lose sight of my goals, put them to rest.   I was able to stay relaxed, calm and confident in my abilities - to close out the year strong!  I easily hit my quota for the year and am now over my 4th quarter quota and made it to the yearly bonus number as well.  I still have one last deal coming in today for another $24K.  I'm sitting pretty and feeling good about having some money to put into the bank.

As important to me as the revenue I've been able to generate for my company and make for myself and my family, are the relationships I've built and the way I've conducted myself in my dealings.  It feels good to help them, knowing that we will be a great choice to help them improve their business, but also to know that I can negotiate deals that feel good for us all.  I am much better at standing firm when it's important that I do, and I've earned the respect of my clients in the process. 

One of the best things I've heard all year was when a CEO of a firm who recently purchased our software after an intense negotiation, called me to tell me a couple of days ago, "I have enjoyed doing business with you, and am looking forward to a long relationship between our companies.  I want you to know that you do good work and are an asset to your company."  It made my week to hear that from a man who came to this country with nothing and found great success.  All the work that I've put in the be more self-directed and to rely less on my boss's feedback to know I'm doing well has paid off, and this new client's gesture was for me a symbol of my newfound confidence in myself.  He spoke to me with respect and with warmth, and it went straight to my heart.  All the money in the world would not make me happy, but to earn a living, while also helping people and developing good relationships - that completes the circle for me, and it's no wonder I almost never wake up thinking, "I don't want to go to work."

Just as I was sitting here thinking on the year's ups and downs, and my own failures and successes, feeling content that I'm still able to find some balance while striving to grow and better myself, I looked out my window to see a perfect V formation of geese flying just slightly above me, but very close.  I could see the colors of their individual feathers.   They were equidistant from each other - and just perfectly aligned.  It was a beautiful sight.  I've never seen a more perfect looking formation of geese.  And then, as they flew into the distance I saw them regroup, losing that perfect line in the process. 

Just as I know those geese in transition will achieve a perfectly balanced formation again, I know I will falter and  regain balance again myself.  This coming year will be filled with tears and laughter, darkness and light, good times and bad - and I will be able to find  balance overall.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Timely Message

If you want to find someone weaker than you, I guarantee you will find them. But to use them as a reason to be weak yourself... well, doesn’t take any effort to be less than what you are. ~John Fowler, "Last Ghost in the Graveyard"
A dear friend posted this as a status update on Facebook today.  It stopped me in my tracks, because the message stabbed me in the heart. 

I am not at peace and am struggling mightily with myself.  

My plea:

Help me take the high road, and avoid the ditches.
Give me patience and support me in my efforts to be gracious and humble.
Help me stay present.
Help me be strong.

Please - help me be my very best self.  I'm feeling far from it right now.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Meditation

It's hard to believe it's already this time of year again.  My children are dressed in their new jammies, as is our tradition on Christmas Eve, and are now in bed, hoping to fall asleep easily, so they can hurry up and wake to a magical Christmas morning.  I've still got a few items to wrap, and tuck under the tree before I head off to sleepy land myself to try and get some rest before enjoying their glowing faces over my coffee mocha and peppermint in the morning.

I'm a little tired right now, since it's been a long week of 12 hours work-days and then last minute shopping each evening, but I feel peaceful and calm tonight. Besides the hubbub of the commercialism of modern Christmas, I've also been witness to a true miracle recently when my friend's fiance came back from near death to be able to be able to raise and nurture her infant daughter with him.  I'm still wrapped up in the wonder of it all, and can feel my love for everyone and everything radiating outward. I hope I can stay here in this space for a long while.

While sitting cross legged wrapping presents on the tile floor of my cool bedroom in the daylight basement of my new house tonight, I found I can distract myself from the chill and my sore hips by naming and ruminating on the recent goodness in my life.  My recent trip to Chicago was an absolute treat. It's a beautiful city, filled with outstanding architectural specimens, great music, wonderful theater, art and a sense of community that's surprising for such a large place.  I loved it there.  The people were so warm and friendly - and so down to earth. If it weren't for the brutal winter weather and the lack of mountains, I'd consider moving there someday.  As it stands, I'm happy to make a few more visits if I can!

Most special to me about that trip was the chance to extend into a deeper relationship with my friend, Vincent and his wife, Jennifer.  I really like both of them very much, and I feel I've moved past an online acquaintance and into a more meaningful friendship with Vincent, and that is more valuable than anything else to me.  People matter, and the more people I can love and be loved by, the richer I am.  I'm grateful and humbled to have such wonderful people as my friends.  They make me smile and I feel hopeful for what else is in store in this life.

If it weren't enough to grow in friendship with Vincent and Jennifer, I also had the lucky chance to meet their friends, the Parkers, who were in Chicago on a pleasure trip from Michigan. They were celebrating the occasion of their son, Mason's, birthday with a complete change of scene.   Lisa, Scott and their three kids are a joy to be around.  Just lovely people and an inspiring family.  They are all so respectful of one another's individual natures, and I can feel the love between them.  I understand why Vincent wanted me to meet them, and feel ever so grateful that he suggested that if I came to his play (which was fantastic!), I should come on the weekend the Parkers would be in town.  I think Vincent likes to bring people together, and he seems to have a knack for it!  I enjoy Lisa's warmth and intelligence, and Scott's gracious, calm (and calming) demeanor.  The kids were lovely and obviously well-loved.  I want to introduce mine to them, and may have a chance this coming Summer, when the Parkers, Vincent and Jennifer all plan to try to make it here to Portland for a little vacation.  There's also a chance I will head to Michigain with my kids and visit them this Summer.  We're all scheming!  We can't let this wonderful new friendship shrivel from lack of nurturing!

More recently and locally, I've been able to commune with my stepdaughter from my marriage to Ron.  Sarah and her Swedish boyfriend, Alex, came to have dinner with Ron (who came over and cooked), the kids and I last night, and I enjoyed their company so well.  Sarah has really grown up a lot and is so sweet.  Alex is warm and confident, and I feel he is a good person.  We played Portland-opoly and I took pictures of our fun time together.  It's been awhile since we've been able to enjoy Sarah's company, since she was traveling so much in the last couple of years, and was also just being an independent teenager hanging out with her friends, so it was especially nice to break bread, drink some wine and laugh with family - even extended family and a former husband.  I'm grateful that we can be civil and laugh together with our children and be loving to each other in our current lives.

When I look at these photos, I can see how much my children are growing, and it reminds me to enjoy them now, while they still want to spend time with me.  I'm so grateful for their love and their health.  They are a gift I treasure, especially when I remember to be present to what's important in my life now.  I want to go snuggle with each of them right now, but I need to finish up wrapping up their Christmas surprises.  I'll close with a few shots of their sweet faces.

So much love in my life!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Beautiful Day

The gray lifted and morning broke golden on a happy blue-sky day today, and it was truly a fitting start.  I couldn't be happier on any day as I am on this day, my birthday, and the day I heard some of the best news I've heard in a long time.  Amazing, if not miraculous news.

One of my dearest friends has been experiencing a serious family emergency this week, which came very close to being a complete and horrible tragedy.  His love, and the 28 year old mother of his 7 week old baby and first child, suffered a heart attack on Monday afternoon and went into a coma for over 24 hours.  On Tuesday, the neurologist and other medical staff shared a very poor prognosis after exhautive tests:  no brain activity

Many tears were shed, and my wonderful friend fell to the floor begging.  For those of us who love him, there were just no words to describe our grief on his behalf.  We held on to blind hope with very heavy hearts. 

Later on that same day, they allowed them finally to bring her baby into the room with her, and when that child cried, her mommy heard her and showed her first signs of awareness or existence in over 24 hours.  She woke up, even, and recognized people and could move her hands and feet.  She was not out of the woods,but this was truly a shocking 180 degree turnaround, and she's been slowly improving.  

Today, she came off the respirator and continues to show strong signs of improvement in all areas.  Her heart is significantly less swollen than when she entered the ER on Monday.  Without going into all details, here is the most important thing:  She appears (despite all odds given Monday) headed for a complete recovery.

There is nothing like a little perspective to remind you what's important in life, and no greater gift than to have your ardent wishes and loving prayers come true.  Really, there is no greater gift than love. 

 I'm extremely grateful this day. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Season of Peace and of Joy

While I'm as busy as I ever am this time of year, I have found some calm and peacefulness too, because the storm of events that had tossed me around emotionally has started to settle down.  The heartache and conflict I experienced after my decision to leave my relationship is easing up, our friendship is intact, and I'm feeling hopeful about my own future. I'm fully recovering, also, from having the apron strings severed at work - and I'm finding I have a very strong inner drive that needs no outside influence.  My fire is lit and I can keep it burning on my own!  Both my home and office moves are complete, and while there is some fine-tuning to be done at home, I am really liking the new places.

My workspace is absolutely fantastic.  I sit in what is generally considered the best seat in the sales department, a corner desk facing North looking out 4 very large windows here in the 6th floor of the our office building.  I've got close-in tree tops to my right, and they provide the backdrop for all sorts of shenanigans  by crows, finches and other fine feathered acrobats, especially when the breeze picks up.

To my left, I have a more expansive view, which allows me to stretch my eyes and watch the horizon blush when day flirts with night each morning and evening.  The fog adds another shifting dimension, and it's an ever-changing scene which makes my soul smile.  How can one be stressed out when you can see the world continuing on it's lovely way every day? 

Besides the views, I have more quiet than at my old office.  Facing North, the sun is never blinding me and I can leave the blinds all the way up and not touch them again.  I'm away from the door through which the smokers clanged incessantly at the old office, and away from the threshold to my boss's office, where there was a constant flow of traffic and lots of loud and sometimes even raucous conversation.  I can concentrate here.  I'm far more productive. It shows in my numbers and sales.  I'm also finding my own personal groove here, which isn't so dependent on the relationships I have with people in my office, although those are good, too.  I'm happy, though, that is my work is what is driving my contentment and which gives me purpose.  Helping my clients.  Doing the activities which drive revenue.  Owning my territory.  I'm grateful to have a job at all, and even more so to have one which satisfies me so well and allows me to care for my family and enjoy some of the niceties of life.

Speaking of niceties, I've been enjoying some good times lately and am planning more.  I've recently gone wine tasting in Hood River with a fun group of friends, and I have been enjoying viewing art with another newer friend.  We are planning to go up to Tacoma and Seattle for a change of scene in January.  I've joined a hiking MeetUp group and have signed up for a couple of trips, including a snowshoe trip to Mirror Lake at the end of December.  I'm looking forward to getting some outside Winter exercise.

I'm still planning on traveling to Spain next Fall, and a couple of friends have offered to help me practice Spanish over the next several months.  I'm ordering Rosetta Stone in December! 

Right around the corner is a fun trip to Chicago.  My friend, Vincent, the satirist and playwright who visited me here in Portland recently, has a play opening up soon in Chicago, and I've decided to treat myself for my birthday by traveling there to see it!  I'm going for four days, and plan to visit the Art Institute of Chicago, which is my favorite of all the art museums I've been to, including MOMA and The Met in NYC.  I can't wait to see the Impressionists again!  I'll never forget my reaction to seeing Old Man with Guitar from Picasso's Blue Period, either, so will look forward to saying hello to that old friend.  And I plan to try and see the Thorne Miniature Rooms while I'm there, since I've been told they are amazing (and I've been shown, too - Scott took some wonderful photographs of them while he was there.)  I just read that they are decorated in holiday finery during the festive Winter season.

I will also be eating dinner with Vincent, his wife and some of the friends he wants me to meet one night.  It will doubtless be a lovely evening.  I will also most definitely hit the Southside for some blues while I'm there. Kingston Mines, here I come to lose myself in your backbeats and soulful guitar riffs!  Maybe I'll check out Buddy Guy's Legends again too.  And I'll certainly ask the locals where to go.  My hips are aching to swing already!

The hotel I'll be staying in is a beautiful old hotel on the Miracle Mile, called The Inn of Chicago.  It was a real star attraction in it's day, favored by guests like Judy Garland, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra among others.  It was also the home to the Chicago Press Club Headquarters from 1960 to 1978.  Today it has it's same old great looks, but has a very modern feel inside.  I hope I like it, but really, I won't likely spend much time there anyway.  I do look forward to seeing the Miracle Mile and all it's holiday decorations, and I might go across the street to ice skate at Millenium Park.  And although I've already taken care of our some of Christmas for the kids, I'm looking forward to finding something special for each of them in Chicago.

I could chatter on about other good things too, and even some things that are challenging, but I have to get focused here today and also have a meeting.

 The main thing I wanted to say is that life is good!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Very Own Star

My charming, funny, kind, intelligent, strong, athletic and completely beautiful oldest daughter turned 11 today - and I feel myself wanting to freeze time right here and now.  She's beginning to blossom into a young woman, and I want to keep my little girl for a while longer. I simply adore her.

Stella has been a real joy in my life, and I have been awestruck by her from the very beginning.   From the moment she was born, she wanted to engage the world around her, her big, blue eyes looking intently at everyone even as she drew her first breath.  I almost can't remember a time when she couldn't talk, because she so wanted to communicate with and understand what makes people tick from babyhood on. 

Intensity.  That's a character she had and still owns.  And it's always been a good kind of intensity.  Intensity balanced with compassion and a helpful spirit.  She also has integrity.  You can see both traits in everything she applies herself to.  This probably most noticeable when she competes in sports.  She's the girl out on the soccer field with a hungry look in her eye and a drive that's evident in every aggressive angle she cuts out there, going after that ball and looking ahead several plays to the goal.  She puts her heart and everything else she's got into the game.  But she is always fair and always a great sport, and she's a leader who supports and encourages her teammates. I'm continually amazed by her presence of mind and her intuitive ability to bring out the best in people around her.  I am ridiculously proud of her, even though I have very little to do with who she is.  She is just herself, as we all are.  I can only nudge her toward her best self, and hope I don't mess her up somehow in the process.

Stella is the child that's eager to please, but who has enough confidence in her own inner voice to question things when necessary.  She's got heart and spunk.  She's balanced.  I say that all the time, but she really is.  The world is going to be her oyster, yet she doesn't take a single bit of her gifts and good fortune for granted.  She strives constantly to follow a good and right path, and to deserve the positive feedback she gets from people nearly every day of her life.  She's got the perfect mix of humility and self-confidence.  I hope she never loses that!

Sometimes I can be a little hard on Stella.   Because she has always been so easy to reason with and has been such a great kid and so eager to please, and so driven toward truth and goodness, that I am easily startled by her human slip ups and her occasional cranky moods, and I can react harshly.  I selfishly expect more out of her, and she gets an occasional overly harsh tongue-lashing from me.  I feel so badly when I do that.  It's unfair to hold my young daughter to standards I can't even meet myself.  I always apologize, but there is irony in that.  Stella has usually already forgiven me and she apologizes too.  She's the calmer head of the two of us by a long shot. 

My lovely daughter is simply an amazing person.  I'm blessed beyond measure to have her in my life.  And I've named her well:  Stella Claire.  This translates from the Latin roots to mean "Bright Star."  And that, she most certainly is.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Connecting and Reconnecting

In the midst of all the craziness of late, I've been contacted by an old friend from nearly 20 years ago when I lived in Homer, Ak,  and also by a somewhat newer friend I've not actually met in person yet, but whom I've become acquainted with via the web through MySpace and Facebook.  Both emailed me on Facebook to let me know they'd be in here in Portland and would like to connect while they are here.  It's hard to describe how delighted I feel to have had each of them reach out to me this way, but I'm pretty happy about  seeing them both.  I adore catching up with old friends and acquaintances , and am super excited about meeting my other friend, because he is funny and smart and sure to be a whole lot of fun to hang out with.

I actually already saw my old friend, Dave, last Thursday, when he came into Portland to do some visiting and shopping, before heading back to Eugene where his son and grandson live, and then out to Thailand for another Winter abroad.  We decided to meet for lunch near my office, and as I walked up, I stared for a moment, then smiled to see that he had on exactly the same color shirt as I was wearing - an uncommonly bright, burnt umber color.  A dark orange, really.  We both had to laugh.  What are the odds!?  Anyway, we enjoyed reminiscing and catching up over delicious Persian food. It really left me feeling warm and connected to hear what our shared acquaintances are up to these days, and to find out what's different about Homer, and to hear about some of his recent travels.  It really didn't feel like it's been nearly 20 years.  I think Facebook is partly to thank for that, but I also know that I have just been lucky to land somewhere once upon a time, where I fit, and where I will always have connections that I can relate to, no matter how long it is between seeing them.  Seeing Dave, laughing with him, talking about old friends and new ideas with him, hugging him both coming and going - it just reminded me that I belong.  It felt like being "home."  People need to feel that way, and I got a good dose of it with Dave.  I can't wait to hear about his travels this Winter and to see the pictures he posts online.  We may be far apart, but have a way to stay close at heart that goes beyond memories.  I'm so grateful for modern technology!

Truly, the social networking that's available through the internet can be an amazing gift.  I met my other soon-to-visit friend online, back when I spent time on MySpace.  I found myself connecting with writers and photographers, and other creative people there, and somehow the net I cast out into the ether gathered upVincent.  I don't even remember how I came to read his blog and watch his videos, but I have enjoyed his satire and his silliness for a long time now.  I've also enjoyed his intelligence when discussing important issues of the day.  He speaks with razor sharp clarity and gives words to many of my political and social thoughts.  I really appreciate his creativity and his warmth.  Even as he points out mean-ness and illogic in our public discourse, I can tell he likes people.  I know he reads this blog, so I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I was always so flattered to find his comments on my old MySpace blog, and I feel the same way about the fact that he even reads this one.  I'm not near the writer or thinker that he is, but I admire and appreciate his talents and feel very honored that he would care to spend time with me on his travels through the Northwest.  I can't wait to meet him in person, and I'm sure anyone else who is part of the visit will be really interesting and lively, too, so I'm looking forward to meeting those new people.  I feel like it's going to be a lot of fun, and we have plans to connect with other friends from our old MySpace circle who live here locally, too.  I can't give specifics - there's a surprise involved!

Work has been so demanding lately, and there have been some challenges personally - quite a few, even.  But these two people reaching out to me as they pass through have really give me something to smile about and look forward to.  I'm deeply grateful.

There is SO much going on in my life and on the periphery right now.  I'm very nearly overwhelmed, and can hardly stay afloat.  At times I feel my head will simply explode.  Deserves a list (so I can get some of it out of my head):

1.  I'm moving again.  On October 16th and 17th.  I'm still not packed up at all.  Luckily the move will be a good one in the long run.  Much closer to the school - and it's a much bigger, nicer place!
2.  My company is moving our office on the SAME weekend.
3.  We also just rebranded our software and restructured how we sell it.  I'm swamped with getting the word out and changing how I talk about and present our software and company.  It's all very exciting, but exhausting as I try to digest it all.
4.  I just completed the end of 3rd quarter, closing 7 deals,  and now am jumping feet first into a brand new campaign to focus on in Q4 - which is already the biggest quarter for us historically.
5.  My divorce will finally be final this month after nearly 6 years of seperation.  My name will change back to a previous name.  This is not a huge change in practical terms, but technically things will be different, and there is a parenting class I need to complete for it all to be official and done.
6.  I ended a romantic relationship a couple of months ago, and that change is having significant impact on my emotional well-being and sense of balance.  Even when you have the best intentions to honor yourself and the other person, ending a relationship can be extraordinarily painful and exhausting.  Surprisingly so in this case. 
7.  I will have a new manager at work, since we are growing and hiring, and my sales manager is overtaxed with all his new responsibilities.  Luckily the new manager is someone I know and trust and will work well with.
8.  The kids have started a new school year, and that has brought additional challenges, especially for Annie, since the resources that were available to help her have been cut along with the budgets cuts for all schools.
9. We have just learned that our school principal is going to retire.  My kids are anxious about this, and so am I.  We really like him and he is a big reason I like our school so well.

I know there is more, but I simply cannot wrap my head around it all at this juncture.  I needed simply to get some of it out.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Oregon Is Beautiful, Pt. 2

Silver salmon are running on the Stiletz River, and this weekend the fisher folk were out looking to reel a nice dinner into their boats.  Me?  I was just happy to be out there taking it all in!

Fishing Buddies

A hard-working, dark-to-dark, fishing guide.

Silver Ripples

Fish Haven

Bench with a view.

Herring in waiting.

A very skilled catcher of fish.

Still fishing...

Diehards drifting through fog and rain.

What all the hoopla is about.


The Drift

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pleasant Sunday

Just a small update, really.  I've enjoyed just being home today.  I've done a bit of housecleaning and laundry.  I've been on and off the computer reading blogs, which I enjoy.  I've washed my dog and exercised her by using the Chuck-It to toss balls up the hill of our street for her for about 45 minutes.  She loved it and is less antsy this evening.  The kids have played well all day, and tonight I'm watching my friend Lars's three kids, so he can go on a date, so everyone's entertained.  I even let the two older girls, my Stella and Lars's Annika, take the whole crew to the park to play, which gave me a quiet house for about an hour and a half.  It's just been so pleasant.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Oregon Is Beautiful

I'm still tired from my whirlwind sight-seeing and photography trip out to Northeastern Oregon over Labor Day Weekend, but I figure I'd better at least post a few of my favorite pictures from the trip up here in my online diary. It was a lovely trip with so many memorable moments and scenes. In my current state, I won't be able to give words to how wonderful it all was to me, so pictures it is. They won't say it all, but these will remind me of the bigger picture for a long time to come, and give anyone who visits the blog a chance to share in a little of the beauty of this great state. 

(Click to see larger version.  Captions to come - I'm tired!)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


We won our last softball game of the season, 7-6, and it was such a great game!  Despite some light rain, it was the best game of the season.  Far less errors, some really nice plays,  and pretty much everyone got hits tonight.  There were lots of laughs to share yet again.  I can't say it enough - softball with my colleagues is just so much fun!


  • Am I really losing my short term memory at 43!?
  • Is keeping within a budget really THIS difficult?
  • Have I forgotten how good bed can feel?
  • Have I forgotten how to cook?
  • Do I really have to SAY I’m not interested, or will my complete lack of response finally drive that message home?
  • Am I really THAT compelling at 3:00 in the morning, after several  visits the previous day?
  • Do I have a sign on my forehead that says “Start Bickering Now”?
  • Do I really need to resort to pouring cold water on her each morning?
  • Can renewing my car registration get any more expensive?


…more to come. I’m sure of it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cafe Au Lait vs. Caffe Latte

Last night I met Scott out at the Lucky Lab on Hawthorne and had a glass of wine while he had dinner and a beer.  Later we walked around Ladd's Addition neighborhood near Hawthorne and found ourselves at Palio Coffee House, a little coffeeshop in Ladd's Circle, which I had not been to since before Stella was born. 

Inside Palio - I love the chairs.  (photo:  Andrew Collins)

We stopped in for coffee and I ordered a cafe au lait, which I have not had since I was in New Orleans when I had it with a hot, delicious beignet early one morning at Cafe du Monde after shooting sunrise pictures on the Mississippi River.  I remember wondering back then, whether a cafe au lait was different than a caffe latte.  Was it just the same thing in but spoken French and Italian?  Or was there some difference to their makeup?  The question crossed my mind then and other times,  but I never thought it about it very long, and always moved on to something else.  I would never remember to look it up.  Not this time.  I Googled the question this afternoon, and found out that there is, indeed a difference between these two coffee drinks, and it's more than just what language you are speaking. 

According to  the blog, "Coffee Break" on, this is the difference:

Cafe au Lait and Cafe Latte are indeed different. Cafe au lait is actually equal parts of regular coffee and hot milk. A cafe latte is made with 1/3 espresso and 2/3’s hot steamed milk. A cafe latte generally does not have a milk froth top. Sugar is generally not added to a caffe latte but those who prefer sweetened coffee will often add it to cafe au lait.

So, really, the biggest difference is that one has espresso and one has regularly brewed coffee.  I had already kind of guessed that.  Also there is a difference between the ratios of coffee to milk.  I happen to love the "milk froth top" I find on a cafe au lait, even as I'm surprised by it.  Seems like a latte, with its steamed milk would have more froth.  Curious.  I also like that it's traditionally sweetened if you like sugar in your coffee, which I do.

Anyway, in honor of my heritage and my love for New Orleans - and because I really lilke it better - I will be drinking cafe au lait  rather than latte's much more often!

Cafe au lait and beignets at Cafe du Monde

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Late Summer Snapshot

7:50 and the sky glowed dusky pink and purple as Stella and I reached the field just in time for the game.  Warm welcomes, giddy with relief, greeted us as we jogged up, and I ran out onto the already brightly lit field without a warm up. It would be alright.  There would be no forfeiture this fine night - a perfect night for softball.

Getting down to business and fun, I was part of a nice play for an out at first base that first inning.  Alan, our owner, winged a fast one from third base, and my glove shot up to snag it high and to the left for that sweet  last moment out, made sweeter by my daughter cheering me from the sidelines, her broad grin splitting her face.  I'm so very proud of her and it's pretty motivating to have her there, beaming pride back at me.  I'm glad we can share these moments.

Michelle, the newest member of our sales team, and youngest player on the softball team, snagged a really nice fly ball out in center field.  This is her first ever season of playing any kind of softball or baseball, and she's turning out to be quite the competitor and natural athelete.  She improves every game.  It was great to see her grab that ball.  We all - every single one of us on the field - had our hands in the air, whooping it up.  A huge show of support and good vibes to spare.  The opposing team, a serious bunch, must of thought we were a bit touched, but we sure didn't care!

I had heard earlier from a friend down in the Big Easy that the moon was worth a look-see tonight, and sure enough as I peered up at the next batter at the bottom of the 4th, there was a big old glowing, golden orb rising in the indigo sky behind her.  A real beauty of moon, forecasting the harvest moons to come, and breaking bitter-sweet on my consciousness.  Summer will leave us soon and the fiery colors of autumns will decorate it's slow demise.

I will miss these moments a little, even as I happily anticipate the good times to come:  Fall Soccer and watching Stella tear it up in her first season playing at the club level.  Watching the Saints defend their championship.  Sharing smack-talk and laughter during Oregon's Civil War Football game.  Crunching through fallen leaves while breathing the crisp clean air and enjoying the Autumn displays of color.  Playing dress up with the kids for Halloween.  There are many things to look forward to as we transition into Fall.

For now, though, I am savoring these last vignettes of Summer.  Time passes so quickly, and I don't want to let the cycles spin by without fully enjoying them and giving thanks.

Peace and Understanding

Enjoyed my lunch today, and not just because the food was good and the weather was nice. Today it was good to share a meal and talk freely with someone I have recently had trouble connecting with, but who's occasional input and availability is so vital to me in my current pursuits.  Sometimes you simply need to take time out to break bread and speak freely and with a relaxed mind and open heart.  I'm feeling much better today.  Far less volatile or closed off than I've felt at various times this past week.   Ahhhhh....feels good.

Monday, August 23, 2010

An hour in the Mediterranean?

Had such a nice lunch.  I sat outside with the warm sunshine on my back and an umbrella overhead, while I  read For Whom the Bell Tolls while eating the most wonderful slice of Putanesca pizza and a beautiful spinach salad filled with crisp onions, soft, tangy feta, sliced sweet grape tomatoes and pine nuts in a perfect vinegairette.  Delightful!  I love Pizzicato.  Great way to bide some time till my next great vacation!


This day I have purpose and a steely armor. 
I do not strive to connect, but rather to withdraw.
I perform my duties.
I am focused. 
My face is blank.
My shutters are closed. 

Why do they now reach out to me? 
Is it mystery which compels them?
Are they afraid of missing something?
What do they expect will be different?
If they pry me open wide,
They'll only be disappointed to find, still, only my tender heart and good intentions.
Those things which repel them in the first place.

I hate fighting me.
Especially to protect me.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bike Commuting - The Good

  • The strength I'm developing in my legs makes me feel powerful.
  • I haven't filled my car tank in well over a week, and there is still a quarter tank of gas in there, despite making a trip to Mt. Hood to go hiking on Sunday.
  • I have "that glow" when I get to work.
  • My lungs feel good and oxygenated every day, twice a day.
  • I have lots of very focused energy when I get to work, and I'm more productive.
  • I feel very self-sufficient
  •  I'm reducing my carbon footprint.
  • I'm inspiring others at work to do the same, because, hey - if I can do it, most of them can most certainly do it, too.
  • I'm meeting nice people in my neighborhood, who talk to me because they've seen me riding.
  • I'm becoming more fit, and other activities, like hiking, are getting easier.
  • I'm certain I'm extending my functional life.  I plan to be biking and hiking well into my 70's.
  • Next time someone invites me on a ride, I won't be as afraid that I can't keep up.
  • I'm more upbeat.
  • The ride from work back home is a fantastic transition, which gives me time to be alone with my thoughts for a little while
  • I'm gaining confidence in my body!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Happiness alpine hike!

I left home early last Sunday morning, with plans to hike up to McNeil Point on Mt. Hood.  I didn't get out the door as early as I wanted, because I was up a little too late the night before, but I got out and started hiking up by 8:30.  I parked at the Top Spur Trailhead, just as I did on my last hike, and I headed out in the same direction, determined this time to see more of the high country and wonderful vistas.  And DID I!  It was a strenous hike with 2,200 ft of elevation gain over 9.8 miles, and I'm itching like crazy this week, because the deer flies enjoyed my flesh while on the way up through the forested parts, but the sights along the way and the glorious destination were totally worth it!  What a great way to beat the heat - go higher! 

I was surprised to see that the pretty little pond I took photos of on my last hike 2 weeks before, was dry!  The vibrant Leopard Lillies were all gone, too, along with many of the other wildflowers I photographed along the way.  But the higher I got, the more new things I got to enjoy:  lots of Indian Paintbrush and another flowering shrub that reminds me of Heather.  Not sure what it is.  I also saw Pasque Flowers up at McNeil Point, which added interest to my photos of Hood there.  I could never articulate just how beautiful and rewarding that hike was, but I can share some pretty pictures.  I wanted to post this to have a memory of this special day.  If you really want to enjoy the photos, just click on them to see a larger version.  I wish I'd taken the advice about getting a graduated, polarizing filter for some of these shots of mountains with snow and bright sky, but some of these didn't come out too badly despite that missing tool. 

Alpine Cinquefoil - I think

Mt. Adams

The Path that leads to McNeil Point

A nice woman took a picture of Molly and me with Mt. Hood in background.

Magenta Paintbrush
Views of Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams - nice vista!

Alpine meadow full of Paintbrush and Mountain Heather

View of Mt. St. Helens, and  the ponds I passed on the way up.

Pasqueflower in foreground, Mt. Hood looming.

Glacial melt creek from Glisan Glacier

Mt. Hood with snowfield.  Molly loved sliding down this!

Molly cooling off in the Glisan Glacier meltwater creek.

Bleached deadwood and Mt. Hood

I think this is Ladd Creek.