Be It

When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid.
The new dawn balloons as we free it.
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Amanda Gorman

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Poppy

In the deep spring when the grass was green on fields and foothills, when the lupines and poppies made a splendid blue and gold earth, when the great trees awakened in yellow-green young leaves, then there was no more lovely place in the world.

It was no beauty you could ignore by being used to it. It caught you in the throat in the morning and made a pain of pleasure in the pit of your stomach when the sun went down over it.

John Steinbeck

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Hello from my first Low Rider show. Holy Guacamole, peeps! If you know me at all, then you well know I was a hot mess of thrills and wonder. I was the gringo lady asking all the questions, excitedly taking photos, and getting all sweaty with overwhelming emotions. So many beautiful cars! Next level artistry! My vocabulary is wholly inadequate for what these magician mechanics and painters have done. Truly extraordinary.

We went with our nephew Jett and his friend David – that’s them admiring the El Camino, and I do believe we all left impressed beyond measure.

Oh, and bikes, too. A Smurf bike! My little girl self squeed with delight!

No shortage of these cool cars, either! Maybe you have to make some magic on this scale before moving into the truly mind blowing actual car work. Literal baby steps…

1958 Chevrolet Impala – Not sure why, exactly, but the Impala was THE car of choice. Such representation! And to show how next level the dedication is, people have mirrors on the floor to highlight the undercarriage work. What?!!

Another Impala, maybe a 1965? The photos do it no justice. The bumpers and various and sundry metalwork were akin to tooled leather, which was entirely hand done. Each car must have thousands upon thousands of hours to achieve the look.

Oldsmobile – the first Low Rider I ever saw looked similar to this.

This bad boy pays homage to Breaking Bad and WAR. Never seen the show (drugs and violence are so not my jam) but LOVE the song.

1965 Chevy Station Wagon. Coolest E V E R.

This 1955 Chevy was my favorite from the show. All the things. A L L of them…

Truck of a million angles, with matching mini car and bike. Mechanical wizardry!

1950 Cadillac – my Grandpa Herbie drove one of these beauties!

1952 Chevrolet – My Dad’s first car was a 1951 in light green, so cool!

Note the round tubes on the passenger side windows. These were some sort of early air conditioners, aptly named Car Coolers. I learned a lot, my friends.

An LTD like Grandpa’s! I wanted to stick my nose in the window and check for his scent: cologne and pipe tobacco. The owners were right there, and I was already the nutty lady squealing at the sight of it, so, yeah, it didn’t happen.

And nearly best for last, the Monte Carlos! The middle one looked most like the style of our family car growing up (only in sky blue), but the stunning green was my favorite of the three. That lavender though…

Hi All –

Over at Fox’s Lane, she posted about where she was twenty-one years ago and asked readers the same. I loved the idea, and here we are.

At that time, Greg and I had been married for eight years, living in Portland (Oregon) for three in our cute cottage on Southeast 56th Avenue. After buying our house in the summer of 1998, the furnace died. It was a $4000 hit, and as we put every bit of savings into buying the house, we were still struggling to pay for it and a new water heater. I remember wondering when we’d be able to be more whimsical with our spending, when we wouldn’t have to scrimp to take a vacation or update something in the house. My fingers were perpetually crossed that nothing else would break and die.

But we had a house, and we did the small but big impact projects like painting and painting some more. Each room was a different color, which had been my dream. Sage green, pale yellow, soothing grey, a lavender guest room! We bought second hand furniture and inexpensive art to fill every space with interest and variety, to feel like ours. And it really did. I gardened and coaxed our weed-filled back yard into an oasis, learning so very much and loving the process.

Greg, as he did before and has since, worked as a software engineer. His job was in Wilsonville, a twenty-minute commute on a good day. On a bad one, when a bridge was up (Hello, Willamette River), it might take an hour and a half. Bye-bye hot dinner or any plan for week night movie rentals (walking to Hollywood Video!!). The worst bit, since it was pre-cell phone days (They were expensive, so we were very late adopters), I never knew if he was okay. I dreamt aloud about him working from home, how amazing that would be, and he was rather blunt in his assessment that it would never happen. How glad I am that he was wrong about that, now on year eight of 100% at home labor.

I worked for the City of Portland, at the Bureau of Housing and Community Development, nearly, if not the lowest person on the totem pole. I had kindly co-workers, and the pay was decent, but I had my Master’s in Education, earned before we left Colorado, and was eager to put it to use. Unlike now, it was not the time for new teachers. Jobs were very, very scarce (unless a body had experience coaching sports), and every time I was hired, it was only to fill a temporary gap. I got additional education, so I could teach English or French or both, and that made my prospects only moderately better. I would not get steady teaching work for another five years. Then it was as an adjunct at Clark College, making waaaay less than I did when I taught for a single year of high school (going between two schools – gap filler!).

We were young and happy and adventurous, growing as a couple, learning how to be better to ourselves and each other. We walked and biked and drove all over the city and really fell in love with Oregon and Washington. The cats were healthy and playful and young (Hello in heaven, you two!). We thought we’d found our forever home on that sweet corner of Portland, never imagining we’d leave in thirteen years.

But we did, and here we are two houses later. In the next twenty-one years, we will move to Taos or some other quiet town with good medical care and an organic grocery, live in our likely final dream home (gotta stay open), be surrounded by another xeriscaped oasis, enjoy a little veggie patch, maybe have another dog, a smaller pick up without breaking my back size, and continue to love each other, in bigger and better ways.

Hello Neighbor, near and far! It was an exciting day at the grocery recently, with cherries on super sale! We bought two brimful bags and ate them in very short order. The height of summer pleasure, to be sure.

Our choke cherry patch is in full splendor, with the birds and squirrels positively wild for them! I contemplated picking some for jelly but watching their delight in the eating has been ample.

The orange horned poppy was battered in our late snow storm and is a bit on the small side but still blooming profusely. The word is resilience.

Matilija poppy and glimmering green sweat bee (I think). The poppy volunteered this year, and is blossoming like crazy. The bees of all stripes (literal and figurative) are zooming on it all the live long day.

The gooseberry also took a beating in our late storm while still managing a small harvest. This bush is in our Juniper-proof fenced edible garden. She’s allowed entry when we do our progress checks and watering, standing sentinel next to the bush, knowing full well I am a sucker for her charms. I take a small handful, break each open just a little and feed them to her, one by precious one. Both our hearts soar.

Stillness and Movement and Joy

Our very convoluted mattress (four compartmentalized pieces, zipped into in one heavy giant!), which is nearing the end of its useful life at nearly eight years old, was making uncomfortable bootie canyons of clutterd and fallen springs. Sad face. I got the idea that we could do some creative re-organizing, cut and flipped the affected areas, and voila! I do believe we will get at least one more year from my bit of invention. And though that looks like an awful mess at the foot now, it is entirely undetected by our wiggly feet.

When we visited New York City in 2015, I enjoyed a stellar corn soup that has never left my memory. Last week, while browsing the freezer for lunch, bags of corn and spinach called to me. I made super simple purees, lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, and tarragon, before carefully spooning them into bowls, NYC style. Greg called it crack soup, and I knew I’d lived up to that first taste. We’ve since enjoyed a second delicious batch.

And to our more mainstream Southwest style eats. Mushroom tacos on homemade corn tortillas, with a serious note of gratitude to Joanna Gaines for a recipe that is not too sticky. I can FINALLY make my own, easy breezy every single time. Good gracious, yum, yum, yum!

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