Monday, December 31, 2012

I Wish You A Very Merry Christmas Season and A Happy New Year!

I adore Christmas cards. The tradition of sending and receiving. Reading enclosed sentiments, personal notes and newsy letters. Looking at photographs and paying attention to all that has changed. Wondering how yet another year has passed so quickly. 

Sweet and sappy or simple and to the point. Handwritten, handmade and hand-signed or created, addressed and signed in printer's ink. Pictures of friends, families, pets and favorite adventures. They all carry more meaning than the card stock conveys. I have favorites I can remember from years ago. I love the way they help us all keep in touch; how taking the time to send a card reminds someone that they remain in your thoughts.....and vise-versa.

My friends, however, may not receive that message this it is well past Christmas and not-a-single hard-copy card, photo or piece of news has been stamped and mailed from this address. (I think for only the second year I can remember.) I'm still hoping to get something put together for New Year's.....but have a feeling that I won't. Just in case....see below.

I took particular joy in re-reading the cards and notes we received this year, then stringing their wishes together like a colorful paper chain for my own holiday message. I know it's almost too late, and that I've played around with tense and possibly taken a few other liberties with their text, but the wishes are heartfelt and come from a very sincere place. Cheers!


Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Winter Wishes. Seasons Greetings. 

Joyful Greetings!!

Here's hoping that the season came softly and gently......bringing you a feeling of wonder. That it brought a flurry of fun! That you were at the top of Santa's list!

I hope you found nice surprises waiting for you everywhere. That you Celebrated with the Merriest of Friends! That your days were Filled With Love and Happiness. Warmth and Joy. May they continue to be Merry and Bright (as bright as the star on the top of the tree)......and filled with Joy and Peace.

Cherish the Season.Wishing you laughter and memories that shine brightly all year.

From Our Home To Yours......Our Family To Yours: Wishing you Special Joys, Warmest Thoughts and the Very Best. May the New Year bring you continued Health and Joy! 

Best Wishes for 2013.



With Love. 


(PS. Let it Snow!)

Friday, December 21, 2012


A few (many) years ago....when I was twenty-five, I lived in an apartment in Seattle. It was a one bedroom, where, for the first time in my life, I lived by myself, with my cat, Eddie. At first that apartment felt strange and spacious and sort of decadent, since I had only lived with groups of others up until that point: a family of seven, a dorm, college and post college houses and apartments full of friends. I paid affordable rent for digs that had a view of Lake Union, the Space Needle and Queen Ann Hill. From my large window I watched morning light, sunsets, a famous lighting storm that I think the Seattle Times still sells photos from and lighted Christmas ships pass by throughout the holiday season. The building was in a neighborhood right in the city and had an actual asphalt parking lot where I could park my car. I started my job at the hospital at 7 and made it home by 4, which left plenty of time for an afternoon walk around Greenlake or to Pete's Market to see what sounded good for dinner.

At that point in my life, my sister and one or two other friends met up nearly every weekend for Breakfast at Julia's Fourteen Carrot Cafe which I could walk to. Their Tahitian Toast with a side of fresh fruit and yogurt was, and still is, one of my very favorite breakfast food memories of all times. For awhile, on Thursday evenings, my sister and one of these same friends took turns making dinner, after which we would tune in to the latest episodes of Family Ties, The Cosby Show and of the very best TV lineups of all times. 

At twenty-five I took the occasional weekend trip, understood I had never met someone like Marc before (we had been dating for about a year and a half at that point) and dreamt of going back to school. I enjoyed my friendships, loved to cook, walked for exercise, read and made things. I chopped enormous salads topped with cottage cheese, shredded cheddar, raisins and crushed saltines many nights for my dinner. I drove into downtown Seattle to shop and look and dream. I loved all kinds of music but had a special passion for classical. I knew I loved the out-of-doors, writing and taking pictures, and had a sense of adventure. I liked where my life was and where it was going. I didn't know exactly what the future held, but didn't really feel the need to either.

At twenty-five I didn't know that within the next five years I would be married, move all the way across the country and then back again, or have twin boys. I didn't know I'd have a husband who would give me flowers the day before our anniversary (which is, by the way today!) so that I could enjoy them the entire day of, or that another baby boy would come along. That I would explore my political views, quit a paying job to stay home and raise kids or exchange a vibrant city for the suburbs. 

About a week ago, my older boys turned twenty-five and I am (blank) years over twice their age. I think they live in a more complicated world than I did at that age.....but perhaps my parents felt the same way about me and their other children.  The one thing I do know is that certain themes have carried on throughout my life: my interests, what I value and the purposeful ways I spend my time. I can look back and see a similar pattern in my boys; activities each of them showed an interest in from an early age and the ways those have translated into how they currently choose to spend their time and energy. 

Have they noticed this pattern? I'm not sure and I don't really want to point it out....just to encourage them to pursue whatever it is that they're interested in. I want them to have the same sense of discovery about their own lives that I did and still do about mine.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Contact Sheet

Above is a contact sheet of images from a calendar I recently put together for 2013. A gift I enjoy making for friends and family. It is my way of keeping in touch, of remaining in contact (if you will), with them throughout the next twelve months. I try to use photos shot during the year in which I will give it......with the exception of those taken in December. I've made an executive decision that due to time constraints, December's can be drawn from the last month of the previous year.

I enjoy the hours of perusing computer files and blog posts. Of sifting through and remembering. Of eliminating, narrowing choices and then narrowing them some more. Of figuring out the one photo least to represents each month. I enlist Marc's help, see what he has to say about all of it (because he is totally willing and I respect his opinion), but make the final cut myself. 

As I do this I am looking for the best possible combination of subject, color, tone and feel. It's like putting a puzzle together. Each image is sized to 3 1/2 x 5" and printed on heavy 5 x 7" cardstock (the month underneath) so I want an image that can be viewed easily from across the room. I want the viewer to know what they're looking at from a few feet away, so the simpler the better. 

The whole process is fun and rewarding and something I love to do. It encourages me to slow down during a busy season. Allows me to take pause and feel thankful for some of the beauty I've come across during the year and for those I want to share it with. I know it might sound silly......but if I can actually match a photo to the month in which it was shot, I somehow feel as if I've scored a point in this game!

I have to say, putting 2013's calendar together has been a welcome distraction from the construction that is still (!) going on downstairs at my house. Call me naive, but I didn't think it would take as long, cost as much or be as noisy and dusty as it has been. No complaints here. I know that by changing these few elements, for the first time we are making our home into 'our home'. Can't wait.

Hope your Holiday season is going well! Wishing you a wonderful week ahead.



(PS. This post wasn't meant to be a shameless attempt at self-promotion.......but yes.....I am willing to print a copy for you. $20 plus shipping. Look for a link to my Estsy shop within a couple of days or send me an email at


Friday, November 30, 2012

Holiday Dream

Last night I had one of those dreams. You know the one: Where you wake up engulfed in panic because you arrived late to a test or slept through a job interview. Nearly everyone I know has experienced a version of this dream at one time or another. 

My own personal twist on this nighttime theme of missing-out-on-something-important was that I showed up on time but forgot to bring my camera. In this scenario I was at a photo workshop, riding along merrily with a few others toward the location of our shoot. I remember being happy and chatty and looking out at the passing scenery, excited for all of its potential...... but as we piled out of the car and onto a rocky beach near sunset, I realized I had forgotten my gear. As everyone else, carrying cameras and tripods and backpacks with lenses in them, raced toward a variety of shooting possibilities, I stayed behind to dig through the trunk and circle 'round the vehicle in order to scan its seats thoroughly just one more time. 

Nope. I had arrived without a camera, I was away from home, and the hotel we were staying at was miles away. In this dream I wasn't the driver of the group of photographers, but a passenger, and I remember thinking that I couldn't very well ask him or her to drive me back to collect it. There would be no use, because by the time we both returned, all of that glorious evening light bathing the sand and rocks and driftwood and shore life would have disappeared. While normally I check and double check to make sure I have every piece of equipment I might need for a shoot, apparently I was so distracted by the fun and conversation of the people around me that I had neglected to bring any of it. To focus on the one necessary thing.

In the next scene......because, you know, my dreams have scenes......I was sitting back on a log watching the others in their excitement, wondering how to creatively stretch the limits of the Instagram app on my cell phone. 


So 'What is going on in your life, Margaret?' you might ask? Well.....a lot. Wonderful things, but a lot. And I'm theorizing maybe too-much-at-once, because...... I had that dream last night. 

We are inching closer to the Holidays......what am I saying? The holidays are HERE. 
Meanwhile, the remodel on the main floor of our house is inching along. I will not complain (not one bit) but I've been without use of a kitchen since October 29th. And without my favorite writing, gift wrapping, photo editing, and gazing-out-the-window-into-the-backyard table. The table where I set my baked goods on racks to cool, work on Christmas projects and the one which, I think, prompts me to write a few lines on this blog. (See, I knew I could fit in a great excuse for skipping out on a post for last week!) The Holidays are......errr......HERE, not one cookie has been baked and I'm feeling a bit stressed and behind and wondering if I will be be able to pull it all together by the time two of our boys return home from afar. Or at the very least by Dec 25th.

Amidst all of this sort of chaos, I do, every day, know and understand that I have much to be thankful for. Here is a list I made last year: Thankful . It still applies. I'm going to re-read it now as a good reminder to myself. Then I will take a few deep breathes and try to slow down and compartmentalize and do what I want/need to get done. I will visualize and dream about it all coming together.....or at the very least appreciate each moment as I move forward.

Wishing you a Wonderful Week ahead!


Warmly, Margaret

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cool. - Empty Nest Repost #8

I have to admit I've wondered ever since I wrote a certain piece a few months ago, if I'd have occasion to refer to it again. The opportunity to say, "Yes......that happened. I hoped it would.....and it did." Well, tomorrow evening it will. Tomorrow evening Marc and I are heading into Seattle to hang out with a couple of our boys at a concert. They WANT to go with us. The only difference between tomorrow's concert and what I originally wrote about is that we'll be seeing someone current and not from know......and oh, I-can-hardly-say-this-because-it-makes-me-feel-sort-of-oldish-and-uncool, but......our 'era'. 

I've had warnings that 'It will be loud, Mom........and long', but except for the fact I'll be missing the one of ours that now lives in New York......I don't care. It'll be cool.

Click here to read the original post:  Cool.

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead.



Thursday, November 8, 2012

The View From Here / Empty Nest Repost #7

My parents are on either side of 90; my father born the year women were given the right to vote. They've lived through several wars and several presidents. The civil rights movement and men landing on the moon. The Great Depression and prosperous economic times. I am struck by how different life is now versus how it was when they were first beginning to pay attention to the world around them. They receive information in ways that probably seemed unimaginable when they were growing up. News comes more frequently and from an increasing number of sources. In print. On the radio. On television. On line. 

I am in awe of their continued interest in local, national and world events. Their interest in those affected by the difficulties of life or in natural disasters. In history and in learning from it. Those two people: They taught me to march forward. To learn and give and trust and try hard. To be as self-sufficient as possible. To have faith. To be interested.

I am struck by how different the world is now than when I was growing upCertain things have changed and like each generation, there are ways I've had to catch up. Learn. Understand. Accept. To see things fairly I've needed to circle around a bit in order to find the perspective that helps me know what is right, meaningful, good and true.  It's a personal journey, this trek through the years of history I've been allotted, and I want to remain thoughtful about my choices. My actions. My decisions.

I know my sons view their own lives......their own portion of history...... somewhat differently than I did at their ages. I can look back, remember and know what I looked forward to. Planned for. Was innocent of. What is it are they thinking about and planning for? How do they see their future? What have they learned from past generations who have supported their growth? What do they still have to learn?

Recent events have probably got me thinking about all of this. It's good to remind myself every so often.


Following is a link to re-post #7 about the Empty Nest. It's about sibling relationships. Hope you check it out again!

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead.



Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Life Un-Planned / Empty Nest Repost #6

All day Saturday and on into the night, the wind blew. Trees rustled and shook the rain falling in sheets off their leaves. It whooshed and whipped about, hovering just below a whistle or a howl. Except for a short break when the sun and sky sweetly shone, it has rained since. It is still raining. On and on and on. The air feels moist. Traffic is snarled. The light is soft and muted and gray.

Downstairs, like the rain outside, the pounding has barely ceased. At least for the past couple of eight hour work days. The percussion section that has set up shop in my home is interesting, varied, loud. Drum. Glockenspiel. Crash symbol. Gong. Wood block. They are all included. Not very talented as musicians if you ask me, but there is an organic sound of work that I don't mind at all. I admit that I'm making the best of my imagination while hammer-claws rip off cabinets or boards, and pieces of wood, metal, tools or nails are dropped at erratic intervals. Bang, bang bang. Thud. Crash. Woosh. Bang. If they could just coordinate the sounds a bit during this demolition work, they might actually sound good together.

One of the workers decided to have a cigarette just inside the garage in order to stay safe and dry and out of the nasty elements. Tobacco smoke traveled up and through my open window, something my system doesn't tolerate well. I was trying to get a few things done and needed to go ask him to please move down the driveway. Nicely. Within a few minutes I had descended the stairs once again to let him know (nicely) that I was having a difficult time concentrating. Tunes blasting at outrageous decibels were coming from a portable stereo placed where a brown couch used to be. They didn't complement the sounds already echoing and bouncing off of the empty walls, ceiling and subfloor. "Sorry", I say. "You'll have to turn that off." 

I in no way feel sorry for myself amidst this upheaval. Even during the jarring, unpredictable and discordant noises going on downstairs. Even after the reality of being relegated upstairs for a few weeks has set in (along with two dogs whose eyes ask how I could possibly allow any of this to go on). Even after the slight glitch that was discovered this morning (a noticeable 'dip' in the sub-floor), that needs to be fixed and will set us back a day and a few more dollars. Even after stepping into an uncovered vent, twisting my ankle, getting my foot stuck, frightening the pup and the contractor, breaking a nail and feeling slightly embarrassed.

I in no way feel sorry for myself. This is something I signed up for. Planned for. Saved money for. I am what caused this demolition to happen. (Well............Marc and I are.) Not a hurricane or a windstorm or a flood or a blizzard. We knew the date when parts of our home would be torn away, when they would be built back again and who would do it. It's a happy inconvenience at most, not a disaster. 

Last week I  wrote about Where I Live and a bit about preparing for this project. This was before mega-storm 'Sandy' demolished so much of the East Coast. Before so many were tossed about by life un-planned. Before they evacuated or became stranded. Before they lost many things......or everything. Before they found out that they needed to rebuild, but first needed to figure out where or when or how or who. To those affected by this recent disaster, those who were faced with the unexpected and with devastation...... my thoughts and prayers are with you. 

Wishing you all peaceful days ahead.



Below is a link to #7 in my Empty Nest re-posts: On paying attention......On appreciating them for a whole bunch of reasons when they come home. 



Saturday, October 27, 2012

Where I Live and Empty Nest Repost #5 late I am with this post. Many, many things going on here at Home. I'm finishing up a few, getting a few under control, and moving forward with others........and that makes me feel lighter. More relaxed. I don't like leaving a task or a job undone. Don't like beginning something I'm interested in or excited about without having time to work on it. 

I have to say that I'm the kind of person who enjoys a desk that's cleared off and organized before I begin the the fact that the main floor of our house will be torn apart......stripped to its bare-nakedness beginning Monday, seems like it should bother me. But there is a plan and I have general outline of what to expect; what to look forward to. I've been given a time frame regarding completion and even though I know that time frame may tend to wander back or forth on the's good to know 'something'. 

Removing everything down to the bones of where we do most of our our daily living has taken time and care and thought and work. After several days of it, I am tired and aching and sore......and thankful to be nearly done. I have stepped on and off chairs in order to reach far back into high places, heaved and stacked boxes, and carried plates and dishes and books from here to there.......a more intense workout than any I've had in quite awhile.

The preparation phase has been hefty with memory as well. In the rifling and sorting, in the keeping and the discarding, the donating and recycling and wrapping for safe-keeping, I've found 27 years of marriage and twenty-five years of children. Eighteen years of life in this this community. 50-something years of life held in cupboards and drawers and closets and rooms.

In handling each item I've rediscovered moments that shaped and indulgently taken advantage of opportunities to revisit parts of my life that normally I don't on a daily basis: A basket of handwritten notes.  A dainty collection of teacups and saucers. A china lady dressed in gold and white who holds a bouquet of flowers and was a precious gift given to my Mother from my Dad when I was born. (I placed her inside a glass doored bookcase upstairs, rather than risk wrapping her up at all.) There were elementary school lunch pails stashed in a cupboard I rarely open......apparently put there because I wasn't ready to pass them on. Champagne glasses, napkins printed with funny sentiments, Christmas mugs, Mom mugs, Dad mugs, kid mugs. Jars of jam, a snowman tea ball, cookie cutters, cheese knives and cookbooks with notes scrawled by my grown men as young children stuck inside.

This process has been a necessary one. There were certain things that without a doubt were falling apart; in need of repair. It's also been an opportunity......for in the culling and the paring down, we've made conscious choices to hold on to what is important; knowing what outlines and defines our years as separate beings, our years together....... the possibilities of the years ahead. 

Beginning Monday, I will have a comfy place to hang out upstairs.  I'll miss cooking and my kitchen. I'll miss working and writing and sitting at the big table where I watch our back yard......but changing things up a bit is good. It sparks imagination and spurs creativity. It causes one to reflect. It makes one decide and choose and know what is important.


The following is a link to the fifth in my series of reposts about the empty nest. I does me good to go back and read these. Reminds me a little about where I was. What I was thinking or feeling or doing at the point they were written. Where I am now. What I've learned.


Wishing you a wonderful week ahead!



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Home...... and Empty Nest Revisited - 4

Home. For the past six months it seems as if I've been everywhere else but here. And when I have been here......I've either been thinking about or planning to be.......somewhere else. In other words, even when I've been home........there were times when I haven't REALLY been......home.

Now don't get me wrong. I feel fortunate to have been elsewhere. I have visited those that I love and those places that I love. I've had fun and exercised and engaged in meaningful conversations. I enjoyed a birthday dinner at my parents table and tried out a couple new restaurants with my boys. I've been windblown and listened to waves crash onto a rocky beach. Attended workshops and classes, and practiced and learned. And I've discovered a few things: New flavors. New towns. Things I am capable of that I didn't know before.  

But now that I'm back, I can feel my body breathing out the huge deep sigh of settling in. Deep down I'm a 'homebody'. Put me on our couch with my best blanket, a warm cup of something and a book or my knitting or the phone......and I'm good. I think I need some days filled with time spent looking out the window and into our back yard, the sound of laundry tumbling in the background, or the earthy scent of dinner simmering on the stove or baking in the oven. I need days to plan maintenance and repairs. Days in which to organize. 

Home. It's where I want to be right now. For a while.


 Here is a link to repost #4 about the 'Empty Nest':

  Almost There

Hope you enjoy it.......especially if you haven't read it before.

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead!



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

From Beach to Mountain..... and Empty Nest Revisted - 3

Good Wednesday Morning!

Saturday I returned home from the Oregon Coast.......and tomorrow will be heading in the opposite direction. Switching gears from a focused week behind my camera to a few days focused on our youngest.

Within a weeks time, I will have traveled from sea level to a city built in an ancient lake. 
From work to play. From 'me' time to family time. From colorful beach towns to Rocky Mountain fall colors. From the muted tones of the Pacific horizon to a Saturday football stadium sea of maroon and silver. 

Last week was about raucous fall waves, windy beaches, working harbors, sea stacks, seabirds and sand. This weekend......about a raucous group of twenty year olds, music, listening, fun, football and food. 

For sure it will be about food! Reservations are secured at his favorite restaurant. Cookies are in the oven. Spicy marinated soba noodles packed in containers and ready to go. And I know we'll stop for a sandwich and cup of 'Hangover Stew' or enormous 'Mondo Burrito' at a couple of our favorite lunch places.

Last week I was anxious to find out what the ocean and it's coastline had in store for me. This week I'm looking forward to seeing what my son has in store. Finding out how he has planned our days. Living in his world for just a bit. Observing what he thinks is important and he expresses himself and what he is proud of.

Below is the link to the third in a series of re-posts about the 'Empty Nest'. It is an essay I wrote a while ago that was picked up by Mamalode by clicking on it you will be directed to their website.


Wishing you a wonderful week ahead!

Warmly, Margaret

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Empty Nest Revisited - 2

Good Morning from Florence, Oregon. I'm spending time here, as well as in a couple of other places on the Oregon Coast, attending a photography workshop. What a great week! I've learned a lot and the weather and sunrise/sunset light has cooperated nicely. Photos to follow.....

As I mentioned last week, for the next few Wednesdays I will be revisiting some posts that have to do with sending my youngest off to college. Posts that were written as I faced a recently emptied nest. My hope is that others entering into a new or different phase in their lives will be able to relate to at least some of what I've written. That knowing about another persons journey helps and supports their own....whether that be a last child leaving home, a move, a job or relationship change.......or a change in how you view yourself or life that goes on around you. The following was written nearly two years ago, after we returned him back to school following a five week winter break.

Mother Nature Gets it......Right???

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead.



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Empty Nest - Revisited

Last evening I sat, along with a group of women....all of us a friends living room for a chat. The main topic was the 'empty nest', and so, wine glasses in hand we talked about surviving it. Thriving in it. Looking beyond the enormous gaping hole left in our kids wake.  Those of us who've been there for awhile had a few suggestions and stories to share with the others. For a few the transition was fresh; for others it is impending within the next year or two.

When our youngest was getting ready to head off to college (or should I say I was attempting to get ready for him to head off to college.....mentally he had been out the door for months), I said to Marc, "This isn't fair. No one tells you about this part when you're excitedly planning for a baby." 

Until just before each of them left......I hadn't given much thought to them actually...... (gulp) leaving. As it should be, I think, but as with an earthquake......some level of preparedness might have been nice. To paraphrase a cliche, 'When one door closes, another swings wide open whether you like it or not'.......and I know that personally I had a choice: To either be overwhelmed by that gaping hole, or to take full advantage of its enormous opportunities.

A freshly emptied nest is what prompted me to begin this blog in the first place. It gave me an organized way to process and deal with my thoughts, feelings and experiences. A healthy way to miss my boys. It was a chance to express myself and explore my interests. Posting became something I looked forward to, the very best part of which was the thought of sharing parts of this transition with others. 

Fall is here. Many 'nests' have recently emptied. Many know it will be happening within the next couple of years. So with the conversations of last evening in mind,  for the next few Wednesdays I'll be re-sharing some of my posts about the empty nest, beginning with the first one and taking it forward from there. I hope that they somehow make a difference, no matter what transitions are taking place in your life. Click below for a link to the first:


I will have separate posts about other topics as well.

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead.

Warmly, Margaret

Friday, September 21, 2012

One of Those Places....

You know how sometimes you have a special place? Somewhere you end up and just know when you're there, it's the one place on earth you should be at that moment? A place that provides you with memories and something to look forward to? Your mind clears. You are suspended in time. You soak it in because you understand it will be awhile until you return. I suspect most people have a place like this.

It's kind of difficult to describe to someone you feel about a certain place and why. I'm guessing this is because what makes it 'that place' is a unique combination of experiences that are yours alone: a portion of earth that has the uncanny ability to evoke thoughts that relate to the big picture of the rest of your life. Your connection to it feels instinctive, visceral, emotional. It is peaceful. I will tell you that I have a few such places.

Last week we took some friends to Glacier National Park. On my birthday we drove the Going-To-The-Sun Highway to Logan Pass and hiked up to the Hidden Lake overlook......exactly where I wanted to be on that day. We marveled at this road carved out of a mountain side and some of the historical decisions that allowed it to be built....the brave men and women who built it and now, continually restore it. We pointed out ancient layers of stone pushed into jagged mountain peaks, Bird Woman Falls and glaciers that may not last much longer. We noticed the cheerful, historic fleet of red buses, gulped breathes of thin alpine air, and ate the traditional (well...our tradition , at least!) peanut butter and jam sandwiches at the top.

Three of them had never been here before and one, not since he was very young. Along the way, I realized, I was looking at familiar surroundings with different eyes. We had not yet driven the road in September. On the way up I noticed colors beginning to turn and a few leaves floating on the breezes. Rivers, streams and lakes were at their low points exposing rocks and sand and fallen trees I had never seen before. Brooks and waterfalls didn't rush with as much force and animation as they do during summer's snow melt; they tumbled, quietly and differently. Up top, mountain goats weren't as numerous, but you could still tell the youngsters from the mamas. End of the summer wildflowers were fading and going to seed, and the grasses and other ground cover changing to orange and gold and straw.

I was aware that I was seeing through different eyes for another reason. It struck me for a moment that I really wanted our friends to like this place, too. To see and understand why I love it so much that I return at least once a year. I allowed this thought to float around in my head, but only briefly and then I made it leave. We each own our individual experiences. The most I could ask for is that we were able to show them a good day. That we enjoyed the fact that they shared one of our favorite experiences with us.

I typically don't post photos of myself here on this blog, but since this was taken on my birthday, I thought it was an OK idea!

Wishing you a wonderful fall week ahead!

Warmly, Margaret

Friday, September 7, 2012


Nighttime temperatures are dropping. Soon fog will hover over the fern and rhododendron, and intermingle with the many hundreds of maple leaves as the sun comes up over the back yard. Yellow buses rumble on the street above at predictable early morning and late afternoon intervals. Knitting season and baking season are in the offing. We are rushing to complete outdoor projects; to make sure they get wrapped up before the weather turns cold and gray and damp. Plans for those inside the house are beginning in earnest.

Slowly, my days are changing. I am both inching toward a new season and anchored by seasons past, standing upon what has come before. Steadfast roots that have taken my lifetime and the lifetimes of generations past to grow, hold me up. They push me to look forward; to head into a new era that is both the same and different.  There is a lot of movement around me,  just as there is almost every September......sometimes unpredictable...... and I am settling into the latest iteration of what is my life. It is impossible that the two be independent from one another.

I'll be heading out for a few days in the Rocky Mountains next week and am hoping to be able to make a post, but if I can't.....I'll be in touch at some point during the following one. Please be sure to check back!

Have a wonderful week ahead!

Warmly, Margaret

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fun Stuff

Recently, I opened an email from the instructors of a workshop I'll be attending next month. It will be several days of shooting photos on the Oregon Coast for which I am hugely excited: The light playing off of sand and sea. The thought of capturing quiet, moody scenes; of telling a story in tones of blue and tan. Of instructing my camera to record the monochromatic drama of a foggy morning on the shore or the noisy colors of a seaside town.
All of the above make my heart beat just a bit faster, so when I saw that the subject line of this email read 'fun stuff', I thought 'Yep, it will be.....Can't wait". I scrolled through the message and found that there were a couple of assignments for participants to turn in beforehand. Cool! I love assignments. Love learning. 
The first one asked that we return a collection of 25 or so favorite images we had taken so they would be able to consider ways to work individually with each of us before we all meet up in Oregon. They wanted to find out what kinds of images we like to shoot and be able to identify themes within our work. Sounds good. I was pretty sure I could come up with these and set about placing a few, that to my eyes anyway, were "good" into a desktop file. Turns out, this was a bit more difficult than I thought it would be: 
'I really love this one.....but what will they think? This image speaks to me, but have I made it clear why? I put a lot of thought into this photograph.....but will they understand what it meant to me? Are any of these even......GOOD'??

The second assignment asked the opposite: The request was for a collection of 'misses'; in other words, images we've taken that for whatever reason simply didn't work out. Whaaatt?? My first thought was to politely shoot back a response letting them know I don't normally show people those. That if it was more difficult than I thought it would be to pull together some of my more decent images to show, then sharing any misses might be kind of too personal and embarrassing and.......Oh Geez.....cringe-worthy.

Of course, the reason for this second assignment is that there is just as much to be learned from figuring out what doesn't work as in finding out what does. That pin-pointing the reasons for a miss can translate into more successful and productive time behind the lens. This is perfectly logical. It makes perfect sense. As part of the workshop these two professionals were offering to look at my work from all angles and give me a few pointers so that I might become a better photographer. But still, it meant showing a couple of people who I aspire to be like just a little.......who maybe in some small way I would like to impress with my skills.......some of my worst artistic choices in the form of digital disasters. Why couldn't they simply want look at work I think is good (or even OK) and take it from there?

Years ago, the first time I had a piece of writing critiqued by an entire classroom full of writers, I was a such a nervous wreck I could hardly pay attention to the discussion. After class I quietly collected a manila envelope containing the 30 or so copies of my story marked up with my classmates comments and suggestions, took it home and stuck it, unopened, inside the cupboard above my desk. And even though I had participated with honest effort in this exercise by reading, reviewing and writing constructive criticism and comments on the stories of the others in the class, it still took me a month or more to open it up and read my own. And when I did, I learned a whole lot.

After a couple of days I concluded (correctly) that hesitating to participate in this way made me somewhat of a hypocrite. Me.......the person who constantly encourages my kids and anyone else who will listen to scoot out of their own personal comfort zone and make the time and effort to pursue whatever it is they're most interested in........was having a difficult time thinking about doing just that. It made me feel I would be choosing to expose my soft underbelly, and I was reacting like a big chicken. And yet I know it's a necessary part of the process. An important part of the journey.

I think that sometimes in my hurry to learn, my rush to get where I want to be, I am tempted to hop, skip and jump over the small steps. Fortunately, I've been able to figure out that as unsettling as those steps may be, it is even more precarious and difficult to travel backward in order to figure out what I may have missed. I've learned that following a passion (at the risk of utilizing a very overworked phrase) isn't always about becoming GOOD, or even aspiring to BE GOOD, at what ever said passion might be. And it's not AT ALL about being validated, and CERTAINLY SHOULDN'T have anything to do with expecting praise. The truth is that in doing something you enjoy over and over again, one cannot help but become better at it. And in photography the rewards are this: With repetition and in paying close attention to results (whether they be awe-inspiring or astoundingly miserable) one inches ever closer to expressing the thoughts, stories and pictures created in ones imagination within the confines of a visible image.

So I twitched, grumbled and cringed my way through a recent catalog of photographs, stopping to pay attention only to the ones previously deemed worthy of the desktop trashcan. I decided which unfortunate clicks of the shutter I should include in the file labeled Assignment #2 and sent them off, together with Assignment #1.

I don't particularly love to look at my failures and showing them to anyone else is something I like even less. But it makes a difference, and giving them due attention is just as important in the growth process as enjoying the feeling I get with something that 'worked'.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend! I'm going berry picking tomorrow!

Warmly, Margaret

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


When stepping back for a moment to review the past many years of parenting (25), certain themes emerge. If I was forced at this moment, to come up with a short list of what I hope to have taught our boys, this is what immediately comes to mind: 

Be brave. Look forward. Attempt to see the 'big picture'. Value education and life long learning. Know that it's better to have zero good friends for a couple of months than to have ones that aren't right for you right now. It's your life, there are twenty-four hours in a day and you get to choose how to spend them. Have compassion....always. Trust your own ability to make a decision.

I realize this list could and should be (and really is) much longer..........but I said a 'short' one and the above is what surfaced during the few minutes I sat with my morning cup of coffee. I know that I'm speaking as just one member of a parenting partnership doubt that if Marc were writing this he would have his own thoughts and additions.  I also know that each item could be the topic of an entire set of essays, but I'll save that for possible future posts.

I didn't step through the door of parenthood knowing how to be one, let alone a 'good' one. I'm pretty sure no parent ever has. Relying on well written books, friends and a spouse who share similar values, and an amazing set of parents of my own has helped immensely, but it's largely a 'learn as you go' venture, don't you think? Or maybe I should say adventure, which the dictionary defines as excitement, thrill, risk, uncertainty and apt description of many parts of the parenting journey. 

I will say that I have learned as much or more about how to be a parent from each of my boys as I did from any of the above resources. They taught me how to parent them; showed me that they are unique individuals and needed me to raise them as such. If somehow I didn't get it right the first time, they would be certain to circle back around to help me understand again......and again and again just to be sure I did. So as they leave this house, and then come back and leave again, most times for parts and experiences unknown, I can only hope that we've all taught each other what we need to know. That we keep sturdy, cohesive, respectful, strong and loving ties wherever any of us ends up.

This week one of our boys began a new job and showed us the view of downtown Seattle he can see from his desk. One bought a one-way ticket to New York and trusts he will have found a place to live by the time his plane lands. (I believe he will.) The third left to go camping and hiking in a national park (where I happen to know there are bears) without telling us just which part of this enormous park he planned to be in. He saw wildlife and waterfalls and rocky cliffs. He visited a glacier. He and his friends stuck their heads into an aqua lake floating enormous chunks of ice. They all gave us a call or sent us texts or showed us pictures. They each continue to sculpt their futures by recognizing desires and passions, and then using those to formulate words that turn into actions. They trust themselves and their decision making. I am so proud of them for this.

There have been moments in the past couple of years when I prematurely thought the parenting part was just about finished; that since the five of us are now all adults, much of the job is done. But now, especially now, I know that it's not. Even at my age......even at the stage of life that I'm at...... I continue to look toward my own parents: For sage advice. For the value of their lives experiences. For sturdy and strong ties.

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead.

Warmly, Margaret
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...