This week I’m in New Mexico spending time with the family. We had our first family reunion in 10 years and had the chance to hike and play in the rainstorms with the nieces and nephew. The parents are both experiencing some serious health issues and so the trip is bittersweet, with a lot of laughter and worry.
There is a wonderful peace out here in the middle of no where. A different pace of life. I forgot how much i enjoyed chopping wood and preparing for the fall, or using vegetables out of the garden for huge family meals. The green and the trees and the rainstorms that roll through the valley every afternoon cleanse my soul. This is where so many of my sweet childhood memories & artifacts dwell.
It seems like just yesterday I was spending time with these gentle giants in Chiang Mai, Thailand (the city of my dreams!)! There is such incredible wisdom and patience in these old eyes.
Fun Elephant Facts:
- Elephants have the longest pregnancy of all animals – 22 months!
- One elephant molar can weigh more than 8 pounds and is the size of a brick!
Death is like a great cat, lifting its head and sniffing the wind, searching for a scent. And once it has you, slowly it stalks you down, one creaky knee, one growing lump, one lagging heart valve at a time.
One thing I am constantly reminded of is that you can never truly know someone, and that is just so scary. The person they are expressing to you is so often not the person that lurks beneath the surface. People are murky and unpredictable and untrustable. One moment friend, the next moment foe. But the one thing I’ve learned is that even if the worst imaginable thing happens, that thing that shakes your core a little bit and makes you question your faith in humanity, even if that happens you will come out the other side a little stronger and a little wiser.
So keep gardening &1 exploring the world:
I fancy myself a jack-of-all-trades: a photographer, program director, artist, web designer, gardener, grant writer, communications specialist, mentor, fundraiser, network weaver, drama reliever, volunteer coordinator, teacher, conflict resolver, herder of cats and middle school students alike…and….now I fancy myself a hanging garden builder! 🙂
I wont lie, Ty is my dream maker, I dream up a project (with the help of Pinterest of course) and he helps make it reality, doing 90% of the work and assuring me that it couldn’t have happened without me.
I get the amazing opportunity to oversee 3 school gardens and a community youth garden at my work, which has transported me back to my childhood farmer days. I’m still a farm girl at heart! And apparently I learned more than just how to pull weeds and pick veggies! Our middle school project is currently exploring gardening in small urban spaces and learning about unique and creative container gardening. The purpose is to also help make the connection of where our food comes from (and no, milk does not grow on trees). It’s also challenged me to transform my small backyard/patio area (and the backyards of some of my friends) into a vegetable growing haven (much to Bella’s plant killing delight) and to see if I can grow all my salads hanging from my back patio!
Oh my, I have been a bad baaad blogger, something that was brought to my attention during a wonderful conversation with my older and very pregnant sister. So I slid into my comfy slippers on this wonderfully sunny morning, and put my hair in a lets-get-shit-done hairdo and flipped on the old Macbook Pro. I have decided to re-emerge into the bloggersphere and on what better day than December, 27th…my birthday. How time has flown, this year has literally run by me, I was only just starting to savor the last year in my 20s and now look whats crept upon me, the big 3zero! Eeks. I’m practically old.
As I look back over the year, I am struck by how blessed I feel. I have officially found a place to be, to rest my whirlwind globetrotter ways and become rooted. A feeling that finally began to sink in as I watched the seasons come back around, one cycle of life in the desert come full circle. The long summer days shortened, the roaring summer heat reduced to a meow and that crispy tingly feeling you get in your nose on an chilly morning run, that’s between a sniffle and a sneeze, is back. I haven’t had the chance to watch the seasons go full circle from one spot on the globe for quite a few years now and for the first time I actually felt comfortable. Comfortable with being rooted. (Although don’t get me wrong, those itchy travelin’ feet come visiting every now and again)
This year has been a special kind of awesome. I’m thankful for:
I’m sitting here at my kitchen table overlooking the backyard, the blinding morning light is streaming through the window highlighting the clutter around me. A pile of pebbles sit beside me on the table and my 6 month old puppy sits tense with anticipation her eyes tracking from me to the pebbles and back, willing me to toss one out into the yard. Of all the toys I’ve bought for her from Petmart, she prefers these coveted (or so she likes to believe) pieces of gravel that shes carefully selected from the yard. She will spend hours looking for and sniffing out the pebble I tossed and then run back to set it on my lap to start all over again. It’s adorable the first 100 times, however she is inexhaustible and I’m already exhausted just waking up this morning.
I take pleasure in the sound of our feet grazing over loose gravel, the crunch of dry leaves under our shoe tread, the pitter-patter Bella’s paws on the trail beside us. I love watching the clean movements of his legs, so sure and strong eating up the ground.
We walk among giants, the great sequoias and redwoods loom above us, their massive trunks scarred by fire and time. Thousands of years of time, rooted in one spot, growing, twisting, enduring. They’ve seen the world go through massive transformations, what would a thousand year time laps from their perspective look like? How many different pairs of feet have they watched scuffle past from their lofty height?
Just a little update for this quiet weekend!
For the past month I’ve been teaching gardening lessons at the local elementary school and helping 2nd, 3rd and 5th grades start their first school garden. We’ve been seed starting and did a photo project where the class takes a photo of the seed each day and tracks the growth in images which we will then stitch together in a stop action movie project and present to the whole school body (more fun lesson ideas to come!).
I’ve taken over the classes in place of our Master Gardener who is currently traveling Europe, jealous! But the beauty of it is that it has forced me to use my gardening brain (which has been turned off and stored away for years, except for maybe that time i tried to start a rooftop garden at my high rise apartment in S. Korea…) thinking about all things gardening and starting my own little herb and veggie garden at my new wee house! Gardens are definition one thing you cannot pack up and take with you around the world and I intend to thoroughly take advantage of my new rooted state.
These are Korean Perilla 들깨 seedlings, or as it was called in S. Korea, Wild Sesame that is used for its oil (sesame oil yum!) and leaves which are used in Korean cuisine to make kimchi as well as a wrap for Korean BBQ. I fell in love with its flavor in Korean and haven’t been able to find them here in the US, not even in LA’s Korea Town! So I decided to grow the little boogers and make my own Perilla kimchi! I saw an article where egg shells were used in place of plastic potting containers or plug trays and can be plunked in the ground, shell and all because the shell will biodegrade as the plant grows and provide it with nutrients, saving you the trouble of transplanting! And it’s quite cost effective, if you eat as many eggs as I do!
Guess who’s now a 10lbs fur ball of teething energy?! This one ↑
After only two weeks (wow how time flies!), this little fur ball has wiggled her way into my heart and soul! Bella is an 8 week black lab with three loves in life: food, sleep and never being out of our sight. I find myself busting out in laughter
as I watch her chasing her own tail, exploring the world and chewing everything she finds to shreds (her favorite item being my dirty socks). She is becoming a diligent hiker (although her favorite hiking position right now is snuggled into Ty’s neck) and soon she will be the best running partner around!
I have been feeling incredibly blessed these past few months and I felt that it’s past time to share with everyone. Ty and I are engaged! I get to come home every day to this lovely man who loves and supports me and to the most adorable puppy in the world. If truth be told, Ty popped the question awhile ago, but for all those who know me, I’ve always been one of those girls who never thought marriage was for her. Ty convinced me otherwise. But pleeaase please please don’t come at me asking all sorts of crazy questions using the W and M words, they give me the heegeebeegees (still)! Like everything we do, this whole shambang will be a wee bit unorthodox. That’s just how I like it best!
The kiddos filed into the wellness home with their blingy backpacks to a lesson of wildflower planting and no-bake energy bite makin’! They scream at the sight of horse poop (which always makes me laugh), marvel at the wiggly worms we pull from the soil and look at me in awe/horror when I tell them to mix the dough with their bare (washed!) hands.
Oh how nice it is to escape the city! And have a weekend to catch my breath and tell you about it!
We’ve now been in California for 3 months and Ty and myself have carved out a little home for ourselves. It may right now just consist of a blow-up bed and a few IKEA night tables, but we have wild dreams of where we will be in a few months. After a long week of work (not to mentioned a bit of stress) I woke him early in the morning and we packed the car for our weekend escape to Death Valley. As we drove up the 395 and 190 the world transformed before our eyes into salt flats and unexpected land formations. We ate lunch atop sparkling dunes and I crawled around following tracks into brush and as they trailed their ways towards their little holes making guesses of what might have made them. We camped -198 feet below sea level in a lagoon of green amidst the white salt flats and flat rocky land. I went and chased the sunrise with my camera for the first time in ages and felt at peace in the silent morning as the sun painted the mountains beautiful colors. Life is good!
n. a feeling of dread, anxiety, or anguish.
These photos were taken worlds and years apart, however the emotion is one in the same. (Left) Early one sticky morning in the small village of Humjibre, West Ghana, I walked out of my cinder block house and followed a dirt trail that lead to the road into town. Halfway up the hill, dodging potholes and speeding taxi cars, is a small community clinic where nurses hold a monthly baby-weighing session for local mothers.
Infant mortality is high in the Sefwi-Bibiani Bekwai region and the clinic tracks infant development in the community. I had volunteered to help out the week before and, if truth be told, I was more curious of the baby-weighing visuals than the actual tracking process. It was an hour of angry baby yelps and cries and mothers chuckling as their wriggling bodies were placed into a cloth swing and extend into empty space.
(Right) During my 3rd year studying Photojournalism at WKU, I was exposed for the first time to the joys of high school football. Our assigned was a sports picture story and I began following the Edmonson Co. High School Wildcats, a small high school nestled in the hills of rural Kentucky. I spent afternoons at practices and in stinky locker rooms and Friday evenings football games. The boys first felt like celebrities and approached me like a weird outsider with a camera. Then they either got tired of the effort it took to pay attention to me or got used to my unflagging presence and I became another (strange) member of the team. They finished up their season in style and made their first trip to the semi-finals since 1998. The game was emotional and freezing cold. I remember watching the mist slowly coat the football field as the frenzy paused for half time. The tough seniors reaction to their loss was hugely emotional. I watched as these big, tobacco-chewing boys broke down and cried in each others arms.
Years later, I was sifting through thousands of images from different continents, cultures and peoples and the similarities of these two images and how I reacted to them caught my eye. My ears may always ring when thinking about that morning filled with crying babies and I may never unhear (and unlearn) the random locker room conversations that took place between those hormonal adolescent boys, but the memories were more than worth it!