Friday, November 29, 2013

Cross Country Stories: Logan

This is Logan, our top boys's runner. You might guess by looking at him that he's fast. And you'd be right.  In fact, he won every single race in the Peninsula Athletic League this season.
Here he is going through a victory tunnel created by his teammates to receive his first place medal at the league championship meet. What you might not be able to tell by the first photograph is how smart he is (his current gpa is 4.30). Or how beloved he is. But you can see that in this picture.
The cute blonde runner applauding is his girlfriend. I love the way she's looking at him.
And then there's this photograph, which captures the bond between a father and a son. And it's a very special bond because John is raising Logan on his own right now. A few years ago, Logan's mother Kim passed away from cancer. We've been friends with their family for years because Logan and Henry played baseball together. I remember speaking at Kim's memorial service, and I think of her every time I see Logan step up to receive an award.  When I look at this photograph, I almost feel her presence. I know she'll be with us in spirit this weekend cheering for Logan, as he makes her and everyone else in our community proud.
My daughter Clara will be completing her first season of high school cross country this weekend when the team competes at the California State Cross Country Championships. She and I will be traveling with the team and staying for two days. To celebrate qualifying for State, I thought I would mark the weekend by posting a few cross country stories. I hope you enjoy them.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Cross-Country Stories: Team Work

My daughter Clara will be completing her first season of high school cross country this weekend when the team competes at the California State Cross Country Championships. The meet is held in Fresno on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, and she and I will be traveling with the team and staying there for a few days. To celebrate qualifying for State, I thought I would mark the weekend by posting a few cross country stories. I hope you enjoy them.
In order to do well at cross country, there needs to be team work. Typically seven runners participate in the 3-mile varsity race, and the top five finishers "score."  In a cross-country race, the low score wins. A runner's score is equivalent to the place in which she crosses the finish line. So, a perfect score is 15 (the top five runners come in 1st-5th place). Although the 6th and 7th runners don't score, they can affect the scores of other teams by finishing fast and claiming some of the lower finishing positions. 
In order to qualify for the State Championships, the girls had to be one of the top four teams at the Central Coast Section Championship Meet (and they had to qualify for the CCS Championships by doing well at the Peninsula Athletic League Championship Meet). Qualifying for CCS was easy. Qualifying for State, not so much. 
Carmen C., our top runner, ran her typical fast race and placed 8th. But two of our team's other top runners were battling injuries (including Clara - notice her knee brace). Yet they pushed through.  Clara, whose been finishing as our second runner for the last few meets, actually fell down at about mile 2.5 when her knee gave way. She says that a couple of runners from other schools smiled at her misfortune.  She may or may not have sworn at them. She definitely got up. And she definitely passed them. Because she's that competitive. Clara was upset that she couldn't run as fast as she normally does. She finished as the third runner for our team in 20th place. Kyleen, typically our second or third place runner, ran through pain to score as our fourth runner across the finish line in 31st place.  Luckily, their teammates were stepping up. Carmen Z., our second runner across the finish line, ran a fantastic race and placed 14th. And Cleome, who only occasionally runs Varsity, ran the race of her life to complete our top five, finishing 32nd. The team's total score was 105, good for third place and a berth in the State Championship Meet! The winning team scored 31 points; second place, 97;  and the fourth place team came in at 136. The team would not have qualified if the hobbled runners hadn't persevered or if the other runners hadn't stepped up. 
So proud of the girls individually and, more importantly, as a team for working together so that we can spend Thanksgiving weekend together in Fresno.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks and Being Grateful

During November, many bloggers have been offering daily posts of gratitude. I didn't do that this year, but I did create a gratitude journal last year.  Today, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'm posting a few of my favorite pages from the journal.
Gratitude is the music of the heart,when its chords are swept by the breeze of kindness.
Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
 Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.
You can click on this link to see all the pages from last year's Gratitude Journal.
Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Be Like Mike

Earlier this month, my friend Mike posted on faceboook that he wanted to challenge himself to try new things outside his comfort zone and asked friends to suggest things for him to do. Right away, a mutual friend suggested that he come help her with her bee hive. He said yes!
I asked Mike if sketching and drawing were outside his comfort zone, and he said "definitely." I suggested a lesson in drawing faces, and he agreed.  This morning we met for coffee, and I taught him some of the basics of drawing a face. We discussed the importance of creativity, of overcoming embarrassment and silencing the inner critic. I left the cafe with this pencil sketch, which I later turned in to the art journal page up top.
It's the first time in a while that I've sat down and done anything creative, and it felt really good! Once again, I was reminded that when I offer to do something to help a friend,  I usually receive more than I give. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Brave and Wild at Heart (A Simple Moment)

Reclining into the soft cushions in the corner of the new bed, I look up and see her silhouetted against the blue sky and green trees out the back window. Her beauty takes my breath away - the curve of her cheek, her long, long eyelashes and that gorgeous head full of curls. But what really strikes me is the peace and serenity in her face. She's happy and relaxed. I pause and breathe in the moment. Oh, how long it's been! And how I have yearned to see her this way. 
We've spent the last few weeks cleaning and painting Henry's room so she could move in. Yesterday we went to Target and bought new bedding in her color palette: turquoise, orange and white.  While we were there, I couldn't resist these signs:
She loved them, too. We decorated her room and hung the signs where she could see them. 
I treasure this time together, decorating her room, hanging the signs, giggling and talking about her friends and her future. For the first time in a long time, she is feeling good about herself, confident and ready to follow her heart, to find her voice, to discover her passions. 
A Simple Moment is a lovely meme sponsored by Alexa of Trimming the Sails. You can read other November moments at this link.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Five Things About My Boy

Henry's been at the University of Oregon for two months, and he's fully engaged in being a Duck! Here are five things going on in his life right now:
1. He's pledged to the Sigma Chi fraternity. Although neither Paul nor I were involved in "Greek Life" at college, we're doing our best to be supportive of his choice. We trust him to have picked a group of young men with decent values, rather than just a good place to party. It's been fascinating to see everything that he needs to do to become a member including a weekly test (covering facts about his fraternity; various social graces, like how to set a table and tie a tie; as well as other things, such as the University fight song and the Greek alphabet); attending a weekly study table; dressing up in slacks and a tie on Wednesdays; and doing dishes at the frat house.
2. He was selected for the club soccer team (the highest level for men's soccer at the University of Oregon).  Eighty students tried out for sixteen spots; he was one of only three freshman to make the team. He travels all over Oregon for his league and the western United States for tournaments. The team is leading the Cascade Collegiate Soccer League and came in second in a regional tournament held in Salt Lake City, Utah. He's worked his way into a starting spot, and he has scored four goals. Paul went up for a father-son weekend at the fraternity and got to see him play two games. The team plans to attend a tournament in Northern California this spring, and I'm definitely planning to go watch him play.
3. He loves going to University of Oregon football games and is looking forward to attending basketball games as well.  Attending college games was one of the reasons he chose to go to the University of Oregon, so I'm glad the football team is having a good season.
4. He's learning to live away from home. He's got a great roommate, but Paul reports that the boys are a bit slovenly! College classes are different than high school classes, and he's doing his best to manage the transition. I'm proud of how he's doing so far and know he'll make it work.
5. He comes home on Wednesday for Thanksgiving! I can't wait!
And this just in . . .
The team won both their games this weekend  (Henry scored in both) to win the league championship!  Henry's #7 (second from the left in the front row). Go ducks! Quack quack!

Friday, November 22, 2013

One Photo and Twenty Words: Should Have Been

Went downtown to moderate a town hall forum. 
Photographed City Hall.  
Should have been #3 for the Summertime Scavenger Hunt!
I think Amy suggested this meme as a way to jump start her blogging.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Five Bits of Randomness

Sian has this wonderful idea for folks who are feeling meh about blogging: work on a list of five things. I thought I'd give it a go, so I'm starting with five bits of randomness.
1. Since I posted yesterday, I've been visiting blogs and commenting. Some blogs have comment verification and I came across this gem! It is all kinds of awesome and just made my day! Have you ever gotten a really good word for comment verification?

2. Thanks to our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box, we are eating a lot of squash this time of year.  One favorite is pasta with butternut squash and goat cheese. This is the recipe we use, but I make lots of changes. Since basil is not in season, I have substituted sage. For this version, I threw in a combination of spinach and chard (which I had cooked down a bit); chicken apple sausage is also a good addition.  Do you have any good seasonal recipes to share?
3. I think I've forgotten how to make cards.  I had a nice crafty weekend last month when I made my December Daily album. I also wanted to make some cards to have on hand to send to Henry. I borrowed some stamps from friends and gave it a go. Unfortunately, I'm not thrilled with the outcome. Sigh. Have you ever felt like you've forgotten how to do something crafty? On the upside, I found that mpix (my favorite photo processor) has a terrific iphone app which made it really easy to order prints of my photos right from my phone. And I'm really happy with the quality. Where do the rest of your print your iphone photos?
4. I've signed up for this free still life photography class. It starts after the holidays, and I'm hoping it will be a good way to feed my muse. I heard about it from Cheri when she posted on facebook. Anyone else want to join in? By the way, even when I'm not active on my blog, I do post on facebook and instagram (@rinda1961). Feel free to send me a follow request for either.
5. Around the house, Clara has had her eye on moving into Henry's room for about a year. We've been clearing and painting and getting it ready for the switch for a while. Our hope is to get her into it this weekend, so that we have enough time to quickly redo her old space so the boy has a space to stay over the holidays. Then, after the first of the year, we'll redo Clara's old room to turn it into a craft room and guest room! I'm really excited about that. What's new where you live?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thoughts on Blogs and Blogging

I've been blogging for just over four years now. I can't believe it's been that long! For those of you who started with me in Shimelle's class (and you know who you are), can you believe it either? For most of those four years, I've blogged daily about "my art, with a little life thrown in."  I love looking back over my posts - the photography, the craftiness, the stories (Does anyone else reread your own blog posts with fondness? I do it all the time!).  I have also met a group of amazing, supportive people on line and in real life. I laughed with Deb and Carrie when we found a unicycle at the beach; shared brunch with Karen; enjoyed London with Jacky; and toured Belfast with Sian and her amazing family. Alison and Craig saved us in Barcelona when we were stranded without lodging. Everyone pulled together to support me last year when Paul became sick; then pitched in to help Clara and I run a half-marathon and raise $7,000 to fight leukemia and lymphoma. Yes, I love blogging and all it brings to my life.
So I'm not sure why I've felt so meh about blogging lately. A bit in the weeds, if you will.  I know part of it is that I've felt physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted lately. I took on way too many projects at work this year, and there's stressful transitions going on there as well.  Clara's school, sports and other activities are in full-swing; Henry still requires tending, even though he is away at University.
Part of it is that I just haven't had time (or made time?) to create much. My craft desk is a disaster - piled with papers from my December Daily project, photographs back from the printer and shoes (placed there so Aria dog won't chew them when I'm gone). I have iphone photos and DSLR photos to blog about, but sometimes wonder if that's enough. Is my blog interesting enough if it's just about my life and my photos?
Probably. I think what makes my best posts (my favorite posts) really turn on the writing as much as the images. But for some reason I still need convincing of that. I need to remember that I blog, first and foremost, for me. And when a blog post makes me happy and satisfied, it will also likely be one that connects with my readers. 
Finally, I feel guilt every time I open feedly (my blog reader). Right now I have 725 unread posts there - 725! And that's down from 942 yesterday. I've always been a compulsive blog reader and commenter. I have always read everything in my reader and commented on most posts. I feel like there's a social contract of read-and-engage, a back-and-forth in the blogosphere.  It's part of what I love about blogging. But right now it's a stumbling block for me. How can I expect anyone to read and comment on my blog if I don't have time to read and comment on their blog? So I feel like I should read blogs before I post to my blog, but then I open my reader and get overwhelmed! I fell behind after the Scavenger Hunt (which corresponded with moving Henry up to University), and I have never been able to dig myself back out. . . .
So, those are my recent thoughts on blogs and blogging. And a bit of an explanation for my absence. I am not willing to give up on blogging. I love it and the community too much. I think I just need to find balance. Any suggestions welcome!

Look Up//Look Down: 45//46

Oh, my poor neglected blog! I hope to be back in regular circulation in the blogosphere, soon, but in the meantime, here are my two look up//look down pairings from last week and this week. I am very grateful that Helena started this meme, to keep my creative juices flowing!
Week 45: Signs of the Season
Dungeness crab season opened last week off the coast here. I love crab, and I love the way the accumulation of crab pots in the harbor parking lots announce the arrival of the season. It's a very local kickoff to the holiday season, as well, as we usually have crab on Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve and Easter. As for the pairing, I decided to "put a bird on it." Love this funny take on that crafting phenomenon. Looking up at crab pots, looking down at a feather.

Week 46: Running through Fall
We continue to have spectacular sunsets, and Clara and her cross-country team continue to win (and run). They came in second in their league and qualified for the Central Coast Section Championship meet. They came in third there and qualified to run at the California State Meet next weekend! So proud of these tough, tough girls. Looking up at a beautiful fall sunset, looking down into the tent where the girls are preparing for their race. In case you can't read it, Clara's shirt says "Trample the Slow. Hurdle the Dead." Awesome.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Memorial Day 2010, Part 3

This is a copy of my dad's discharge papers from the Army.  I love pondering the information contained on this:
- He was barely 18 when he joined the service and had 7 years of grammar school and 2 years of high school
- His battles and campaigns include the Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe
- He received the Purple Heart, 3 Bronze Stars and a Good Conduct Metal
- He received immunizations for smallpox, typhoid, tetanus and typhus
- His mustering out pay was $300.
- He was listed as 5'11" and 130 pounds.
- He was 22 when he was honorably discharged in 1945.

There is no doubt that my dad's time in the service changed him "for good."  It changed him for the better because it opened up avenues of education that set him on the course to becoming a middle class aerospace engineer in California.  But he also came back deeply affected by having seen the violence of war.  All of it made him who he was, and I am grateful for who he was because he had such a big, positive effect on me.  I miss him and wish my kids could have known him for many more years.  Today is Memorial Day in the United States, and I invite you to remember and be grateful for those who have served in the armed forces, trying to make the world a better place.  

Memorial Day 2010, Part 2

I'm spending Memorial Day Weekend reminiscing about my dad's service in World War II.  Call it a blog indulgence.  Back to regular programming on Tuesday.
I have less than a dozen pictures of my dad during the time he served in the infantry.  These are from training. The most special thing about the two pictures on the left is that he wrote notes on them before he sent them home to his father. 
The note on one of them reads:
"Father, This is my picture with a full field pack.  The full field pack weighs fifty pounds, inside of it we have a blanket, tent, mess kit, under wears, toilet articles, and tent poles that fold up.  All of this gets rolled up in a tight pack, and on the outside we have a small pick, small shovel, rifle, bayonet, and belt with ammunition."
I found the real treasure on the back of the other one:
"Father, This is my picture. It was taken when we were out on maneuvers. We were sent out on a combat patrol to recognize the front of the enemy.  I was sent out ahead of the patrol, as a scout, and a few minutes later a machine gun cut loose right in front of me, and I was ruled out of the game.  When a man is ruled out, he just sits around and waits, so I decided to take some pictures while I was waiting."
I never remember my father taking photographs, but, given my passion for photography, it thrills me to learn that he decided to take pictures on that day.  It's a connection I never realized we had before.  But one that I will now treasure.

Memorial Day 2010, Part 1 (A Series Repost)

{Today, in honor or Memorial Day, I am reposting a series of three posts from last year that focus on my father and his service to our country. I hope you enjoy this tribute and remember all who fight to keep us free}.
It is Memorial Day Weekend here in the United States. . . a three day holiday which to many people means the beginning of summer and big sales at the mall.  I wanted to take the weekend, though, and use it as a way to record some memories of my dad's service in World War II. Obviously, he did not die during the war (or I wouldn't be here), but he has been gone for over five years now, his birthday was in May and with Father's Day just around the corner, I've been thinking about him a lot. The idea for this series of posts was also inspired by the "Coming Home" photography challenge on The Pioneer Woman blog.  Thanks to Sherry Mescher for bringing it to my attention.  If you're in the mood for altered art instead of my family memories, come back next week, and I'll be featuring the rest of the assemblage menagerie and my twinchie for the Something Completely Different contest.  Also, you can click on this link to see a collage I did for Veteran's Day, 2009.
In 2002, I created a scrapbook page about my father's service which you can see at this link, but here's the journaling:
He was part of the Greatest Generation. Born just before the Great Depression, seventy-plus years of hard living show on his face.  His achievements are not as obvious:  served in World War II; helped build the aerospace industy; raised six kids and sent them all to college; married to his wife for almost fifty years.  During the war, his Division liberated a concentration camp. He received a shrapnel injury and Purple Heart fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. He earned a Bronze Star for retrieving and rescuing a fallen comrade.  We were so proud when Orange County honored Latino veterans, and his banner hung from the rafters during the ceremony. My father. One of the Greatest indeed.
In the pictures above, you can see him holding a slide rule and with a radio.  Although he did not have a lot of education before going into the service, he was a brilliant man who became a radio tech in his infantry unit.  In the group picture, he's standing on the far right.  
He was such a big man.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Make it Work December Daily (Frosty Festivities Blog Hop)

Welcome to my stop on the Frosty Festivities Blog Hop, hosted by Jennifer! She's offering up a wonderful prize in conjunction with the hop (details at the bottom of post) and lots of other hop participants have fun winter projects to share (you'll also find them listed at the bottom of my post).
Today I'm going to share the album I have put together for my December Daily Album.  I call it my "Make it Work" album because everything I used came from my stash . . . and not all of it screams Christmas. So, I definitely had to, in the words of Tim Gunn, make it work! I started out with this as my base album:
A 7x9 Knee Highs and Bow Ties journaling binder that I won from Kristin at the end of her Find Your Voice Storytelling class. The kit came with several page dividers, several 7x9 page protectors, several page protectors divided into six squares and several page protectors divided into three sections. As you can see, the page dividers are not Christmas-themed, but I figured I could make it work. So, I grabbed some Christmas papers, including most of a package called Winter Fun by Carta Bella (which I won last year in Jennifer's Frosty Festivities blog hop!). I also decided to use a bunch of Tim Holtz inspired tags I have made during the "12 Tags of Christmas" class he used to run.
I then started cutting papers to fill the various page protectors and added embellishments:
7x9 page protector and six square facing page
Three section page protector and facing page divider.
On the page above, you will see that I had to be creative in covering up the non-holiday page dividers, but it was pretty easy because I simply covered up almost the entire page! For these next few, I did things a little differently:
I left the base page as-is but added a whole bunch of holiday stickers to make it more festive.
On the right hand side, I covered up a car graphic along the bottom and added stickers up top. The left hand page is a full 7x9 page protector. And sometimes, I managed to find Christmas embellishments that worked, even with the nontraditional color scheme:
On the whole, I really like my blank album. It's fun and different but, since I stayed with similar tones throughout, it is even fairly cohesive.  You can click on the pictures to see the pages in more detail if you want.  I'm planning to do a 1-2 page per day from Dec. 1-25. I plan to vary the size and number of photos, depending upon what I do that day. I am really looking forward to this project because I have really enjoyed the previous "Photo-a-Day" or "Week in My Life" projects that I have completed. I've done Shimelle's Journal Your Christmas a few times, but this year I wanted to create something that was a more general capture of our life this December. I'm also hoping it will help us be more festive!
I'd love to hear what plans you have (if any) for a December Daily, Journal Your Christmas or other Holiday Journal project.
And now for the prize information: If you comment on all the blogs in the hop, finishing at and let Jennifer know you've been all the way around, then you'll be in with a chance to win a jolly seasonal prize of Simple Stories December Documented and Elle’s Studio Noel items, worth over £28! All entries must be received by Monday the 11th of November at 10.59pm GMT. 
So, click on over to Sarah to continue with the hop.  If you get lost along the way, here's the various hop participants:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Look Up//Look Down #44: Autumn at USF

Hi all! Still super busy at work; I took these photos while running across campus between meetings. Looking up at the spires of St. Ignatius church and down at a pretty leaf, indicative of the season. Lots of bright sunlight in both, as well as interesting texture and a nice contrast in scale. I'm hoping to get around to read blogs soon, and I'll be participating in Jennifer's Frosty Festivities Blog Hop this weekend! So, I hope to see you soon.