Friday, December 30, 2016


Images by Bill Slavin

Have you ever had one of those moments when you are in the spotlight? You say something, then later you remember all the really pithy ideas you could have expressed? Don't you sound brilliant in your own mind?

That's why I started writing: to get those brilliant thoughts out of my head that I never uttered out loud. Writing them down at any time (they often got me out of bed at night) worked. By writing my ideas down, eventually I gained the confidence to speak my mind more completely when I had the chance.

I was a speaker in a Writers' Panel recently. Someone asked us a question. She said that she had an idea for a story. She could write scenes, but was stuck on how to move forward with the story so that she could complete her imagined 350-page novel.

Another panelist, an editor and writing coach, suggested that she focus on developing her characters. If she had an antagonist, write about that character. Put the character in scenes with other characters and see how they reacted to each other. She had several other good ideas to rekindle the writing process.

Later I realized that this want-to-be-novelist was stuck in a way that many of my writer friends get stuck. Writing a novel can be daunting when you think of the complete book in its final form. Just as my writing coach friend suggested, these writers had to stop thinking 'novel' and had to break their ideas down into many parts.

Here is what I could have said:

You have more than one story to write.
If you are stuck, put what you are writing aside.
Write something else: poetry, memoirs, or personal essays.
Go back to the original piece and add another scene.
Just don't stop writing.

You may find that you never complete that novel.
You may find joy in writing in other directions.
You may find by doing the practice of writing daily, step by step,
that you have more than enough to complete your story.
You may find instead that your first writings become a gateway
into what your mind really wants to write.

Just keep writing.

To help you along, check out these two writing coaches:

Elizabeth Fishel,

B. Lynn Goodwin,

or join Story Circle Network, an online women's writing network:

To see more of Bill's photos, see him @slavinbill on Instagram

At the end of 2016, I want to thank all my readers of Postcards in the Air.  You keep me going!

Friday, December 23, 2016


Our neighborhood used to be filled with alder trees until disease and insects brought many of them down. We've been lucky. We planted two alders, no bigger than yardsticks, in our backyard over 30 years ago, and they have thrived. Until last summer. One of the alders died. We waited in hope that the few green leaves left would generate new growth, but instead they curled up and fell off. Another victim of drought, we thought

Recently we watched as the 20-something foot tall tree came down in a matter of three hours. One man agilely climbed up the tree, rope and saw in hand, took off lower branches -- many larger than the original stick we planted -- lowered them to the ground on the rope, and then cut chunks off the main trunk.

His careful maneuvering through the tree reminded me of the tree pruners in Japan, who wore soft tabi socks on their feet instead of boots, as they nimbly stretched from one branch to another. They seemed, just as this worker did, to be one with the tree, careful with its branches, respecting the great growth from a small stick many years ago. When he was done all that was left was a 6-foot tall stump.

A week later, we watched as Glenn Sievert, a tree sculptor, used a buzz saw to carve out two bears from the leftover trunk giving new life to an old tree. We topped off the bears with Santa hats. 

This is our tree story.  Do you have a story about a tree?

Best of the holidays to you and yours. May you be filled with joy, comfort, and good cheer.

Friday, December 16, 2016


Layered leaves

This week Caroline Sanchez shares her story of an inspiring mentor:

While raising my daughters in the 1960's and 1970's, I painted, stripped, stained, and varnished old furniture. My favorite challenge was taking discarded pieces of furniture and redoing them. I refurbished a dated dining room set by removing the center legs, painting and antiquing them, and upholstering the chairs. When my friends visit my home, they often comment on the unusual collection of furnishings and accessories I have, most of them one-of-a-kind. I explain that I made or refinished them all myself, thanks to my years of study with Ralph Siegle, my favorite adult education teacher. Mr. Seigle taught me how to gold-leaf a table to look like one I had seen in a museum. He showed me how to make a picture frame, cover it with lace, and then antique it. With his inspiration, I refinished my great-grandmother's discarded Lincoln bed, made a bedspread, lined drapes, padded a cornice, made pillows and covered a matching chair.

Examples of Caroline's work

Ralph Seigle, a retired teacher from the California College of Arts and Crafts, led me through class after class. During ten years of study, I learned about still life and landscape painting, interior design, art history, color theory, personal color, and even millinery. Mr. Seigle not only aroused my interest in creative projects, he encouraged me to tackle almost any challenge -- from something as simple as silver leafing a large glass water bottle to creating a jardiniere to painting a mural on our bedroom wall. He taught me how to refinish, stain, antique, guild, marbleize, and crackle finishes. I learned to gold-leaf furniture, to mat pictures, and to refinish frames. Mr. Seigle's motto was
"If you don't like it, change it."

Before becoming a college professor, Mr. Seigle worked for Walt Disney, designed costumes for stars such as Joan Crawford at Universal, entertained with marionettes, and played piano at the 1939 San Francisco World's Fair. His paintings were exhibited in the U.S. and in Europe. On the side, he designed fabrics, wall coverings, and Christmas cards.

Thanks to my hands-on training with Ralph Siegle, I not only beautified my home, I went on to teach art and arts and crafts in our local high school. My mentor, Mr. Seigle, served as an inspiring teacher, role model and friend.


Thank you, Caroline, for submitting your story to Postcards in the Air. 
We can all use Mr. Seigle's motto in everything we do.

"If You Don't Like It, Change It"

Friday, December 9, 2016


Twenty of us sat in Maidenform's headquarters in New York City. We came to preview the new season's underwear that Maidenform designers offered. The designers stood in front of us waiting for their expected praise. What we gave them instead was "We don't want to wear girdles and bras like that. Too tight, too pointy, too stiff, too hard to get into."

1969 Teen Lingerie Ad, 
Lovable Lace Mates Undergarments 
with Pretty Teen Girl, "Wear Lace"
Published in Ingenue magazine, May 1969 - Vol. 11, No. 5

The designers were nonplussed, not knowing what to do with a group of such unruly women. They thought they knew what was best for us, but we didn't want to listen. This was the late 60s and another kind of revolution was taking place. Women's lib and civil rights protests rang through the streets. We were no longer willing to be patronized, excluded, marginalized. We were a movement. Some of us pitched in (a friend from college dodged bullets while encouraging African Americans to register to vote for the first time, others marched in anti-war protests) while many of us, including me, stood at the side, but supported the principles through groups we joined. (I'm a member of the American Association of University Women whose mission is to support education for women and girls).

Today I find myself no longer willing to stay on the sidelines for causes and ideas that I value. I am standing up wherever I can when I see injustice or a return to pronounced prejudices.

Where do you stand?


I worked at Mademoiselle magazine shortly after graduating from college. I had been selected as one of the twenty Guest Editors for their August College issue. Part of our month of visits with celebrities and manufacturers of women's products included a tour of the Maidenform headquarters.


This post is dedicated to Madelyn McKenzie Stelmach, who died earlier this year of a brain tumor. She was a high school friend. We became reacquainted a couple of years ago. I discovered a new hero in Madelyn. She was a lifelong activist who continued to march, petition, and protest points of view that diminish, exclude, and marginalize other human beings.


Remember to send me your stories of someone who inspires you.
Peace be with you, John Glenn.

Friday, December 2, 2016


In the first of this series about inspiring people, 
Debra Busta Moore, a  member of Friday Writers in Rockridge, CA, 
wrote this touching piece about her grandma.

From the time that I was six until about ten I frequently slept over at my grandmother's house. My grandfather died when my mother was 15, leaving her mom to raise the three kids still at home. The oldest three were grown and out of the house by then. Having been a farm wife with no work experience, my grandmother supported her family by caring for a couple of invalid neighbors, taking in laundry, and running the town library out of her house. The library consisted of two large book shelves in her living room (one for adult books, the other for kids) and was open whenever Grandma was home.

My youngest brother and sister didn't want to be away from our parents, so I got to be the "only child" for a weekend. Although Grandma's house was very modest, I felt like a princess when I was there. For breakfast she let me have heavily buttered and perfectly browned toast made with Wonder bread, with fresh, hand-squeezed orange juice. Occasionally, in place of the juice, I was allowed a bottle of ice cold Pepsi to drink with my toast. For breakfast!

Each morning Grandma swept the floors of her simple three room house from end to end. I was amazed at the amount of dirt she gathered, (a result of living in a house nestled between walnut orchards and rich, brown farm land in the fertile Sacramento Valley). After the chores were done,  we walked to the store to buy groceries (Grandma never learned to drive). Although the store was only two blocks away from her house, the daily cargo train that came through the town occasionally stopped for up to an hour, blocking our path. Some days we turned back but others we waited, finally counting 100 or more cars as the long slow train blew its whistle and pulled lazily away. Once we made it to the store, Grandma gave me a nickel or dime to buy penny candy stacked on the floor-to-ceiling shelves behind the check-out counter. The grocer, Mr. Kelly, chatted with Grandma about the town's goings-on as I chose a Tootsie Roll Pop, a Bazooka bubble gum, a couple of jaw breakers, and my favorite, the long black licorice that lasted for hours. In the evening after dinner, we threw kitchen scraps to the chickens and watched them peck each vegetable as if their life depended on it. I slept with Grandma in her double bed, trying hard to fall asleep before her mountainous snoring began. If  she fell asleep first (she always did) I'd turn over restlessly, "accidentally" nudging her awake.

Saturday was laundry day. I helped her hang out the week's laundry after hours of washing and rinsing in her wringer washing machine. Once, as I threaded a flowered dish towel into the electric wringer, my fingers caught, and I was pulled into the wringer up to my shoulder before Grandma stopped the machine. My arm was black and blue for a week. Although the pain was severe the first day, I admit that the bruising was also a source of pride! Being tough was a prized virtue where I grew up.

The most enthralling event of the day was watching her get dressed in the morning. Her routine was slow and methodical, and to me hypnotizing. She never seemed to take off her paper-thin under shirt that drooped to her thighs, so I did not actually see her enormous breasts. After removing her night gown, she put on her corset, fastening each stay, one by one. Long garters hung from the corset, which she connected to thick nylon stockings. Although she lived in the country and only worked around her house and yard, I never saw her without stockings. Then she put on her large white underpants with no apparent elastic in the legs and minimal at the waist. Next came the front fastening bra that cupped, but did not lift her pendulous breasts above her waist. She slowly connected the 20 or 30 hooks and eyes from her waist to her upper chest. Then a full length slip, followed by her house dress, and finally an apron.

I was fascinated to watch this calm dependable ritual, that to her was simply getting dressed for the day. Later, when we sat together to watch "Love of Life" or read "The Cat and the Hat," she would hug me into her soft, warm bosom. Those were the happiest days of my childhood.


Thank you for taking the time to read Debra's piece.  
If you have a story about an inspiring person in your life, 
send it to me at

Friday, November 25, 2016


The Mindful Life Project, a great name for a small start-up non-profit founded by JG Larochette, a 3rd -grade teacher in Richmond, CA.

Salute e Vita, a restaurant in Richmond, run by Menbere Akilu, an immigrant from Ethiopia.

What do these two have in common?

We spent last Friday night at an event for the Mindful Life Project, and had a delicious dinner beforehand at Salute e Vita.

But that is not what these two have in common.

The commitment to do good in the world and to give back runs through both JG Larochette and Menbere Akilu.

On Thanksgiving, Ms. Akilu opens her restaurant to serve a Thanksgiving meal for those in need. She also offers a special Mother's Day lunch to mothers-in-need as well. She works through out the year to help others. An Ethiopian, she came to the U.S. from Italy. Her first job was as a server at the restaurant she now owns. She is gracious and beautiful in spirit -- a prime example of what makes America great.

JG Larochette developed the Mindful Life Project after realizing that his community, Richmond, needed better resources to turn kids from patterns of defiance and negativity in the classroom. His program teaches mindfulness, yoga, expressive and performing arts. His program works.

Along with the Writer Coach Connection and Wardrobe for Opportunity, and many other small organizations in the East Bay, these projects, run by people who saw a need and filled it, need our support.

Some of us feel comfortable jumping in to teach hip-hop, or to work with young people on their writing skills, or helping to dress men-in-need to enter the work force. Some of us don't. That's okay, as long as we recognize the need is there and support efforts like these organizations in any way we can.

What is your best way to give back?
Do you have organizations that you support that have proven results?

Check out the websites for these organizations. Maybe these are places for your help.

Mindful Life Project:

Salute e Vita:

Writer Coach Connection:

Wardrobe for Opportunity:


Don't forgot to send me your stories about someone who has been an influence on your life to 

Friday, November 18, 2016


I'm sharing the following story written by one of our nieces and posted on Instagram. She is why I believe that our future will be in capable hands.

"Several words can sum up my feelings the last two days. Devastated. Stunned. Angry. Heartbroken. Humbled by the realization that half of the U.S. stands behind someone that is so fundamentally wrong as a human being. But today I woke up feeling a little brighter. I have been fortunate enough to grow up around people that were always encouraging me to break the glass ceiling. To follow my dreams and stand up for what I believe in. To pursue a career that is dominated by men because it's what I love to do and I don't care if I have to work harder to be respected. To get back up when I've been knocked down. So this is me, getting back up. Because there is no way a man like Trump and the people that supported him are going to keep me down. Right now, I'm going to focus on people like my amazing father, who encourages me everyday to keep fighting. And understands when a gal just needs to eat a donut. Today I am going to get back up and eat a damn donut. #imstillwithher "


Ashley Heidenreich is a practicing engineer who designs skyscrapers for a company in a metropolitan area. She was the only woman in her 2007 college graduating class in engineering.



For the next month, I am asking for your help. 
I will be publishing your stories:
1) about people who have been an encouraging influence in your life, and 
2) about women from a different era (maybe your mother, aunt, grandmother) 
who lived differently than you do now.

 Help me showcase as many stories as I can. 
Sit down and write a story right now. 
Send me your stories to

Thank you
 and may your next week be filled with gratitude for what you have.

Friday, November 11, 2016


The sun did come up on Wednesday.

I watched as my watercolor teacher painted a derelict shack. She said, "This is hard," something she always says when she paints. I said back to her, "Especially today. I couldn't sleep last night." My friend next to me nodded in agreement, then the rest of the class chimed in with the same news. Some were full of hope; most of us felt shock from the previous night. I thought in our tiredness, how none of us raised voices, how we let our vulnerability show. We came together, whichever side we put ourselves on, and offered tentative healing words. One man in his 80s said, "I've seen worse."

I looked at the painting that slowly progressed across our instructor's paper and remembered the image that Katie, one of my nieces, posted on her blog. Katie put up a simple diagram that moved with the rhythm of breathing. That was all she posted. It was a good reminder to stop a moment and breathe.

Check out Katie Martin's website at for moments of inspiration.

Today is a day for remembrance of those people we sent off to war and who did not come back. Today is a good day to go to a quiet place to remember them.

Friday, November 4, 2016


 I got mad at my husband the other day. He knocked over a coffee cup, which broke. It was just a coffee cup. It was also a cup I had purchased on a trip to Austria when we were living in Paris. I was incensed by his carelessness and sad that one more memory was gone.

This morning as I was cleaning out the dishwasher in a rush, I picked up two plates at the same time with one hand. One of them slipped and broke on the floor. I remembered my anger at my husband and looked at the pieces of pottery on the floor. I thought to myself, "Am I as angry with myself as I was with Bill? Was I being fair to him the other day?" The plate that I dropped was part of a set from Hagi in Japan that I bought while we were living in Tokyo. Hagi is a pottery town. Its pottery is prized by tea masters because the milky white glaze absorbs some of the moisture from the tea and gradually changes color.

This isn't the first time a plate from Japan or Europe has crashed to the floor. Our history of living overseas is slipping through our fingers. On our return home as I was unpacking boxes, I came across several carefully packed pieces that had broken in transit even before we were home.

I purchased this bowl at a pottery fair near Mashiko, a Japanese pottery town

At first I tried to repair the pottery myself. The cracks were obvious or the pieces didn't stay together. Then I found someone who repaired broken ceramics. She eventually stopped doing this practice because of the toxic substances she had to use to glue the pieces together. I have since just collected the broken pieces. I dream of a mosaic wall of them, but I've never found the time or inclination to really pursue the project.

Repaired plate by an expert

I think of the Japanese way. Because of their belief in wabi sabi, they appreciate brokenness. They often repair a broken item with resin and powdered gold lacquer. They call this Kintsugi, another thoughtful Japanese practice to lessen life's mistakes and accidents.

 The art of Kintsugi 

The cup without its handle now holds some lemons by the window waiting to ripen. The Hagi plate is in pieces still. I may try Kintsugi to make them whole again or they may end up on the stack of shards out on our deck. Wabi Sabi. That's the way life goes.

Check out this website to find out more about Japanese pottery towns.


Friday, October 28, 2016


Do any of these smells bring back memories for you?

How about the smell of green tea?

While living overseas, we developed a better 'nose' for aromas that quickly reminded us that life can be different.

After a six-week home leave, we returned each year to Tokyo at the beginning of September. When we emerged from the taxi at our apartment, we took our first breath of the humid air, and the sweet aroma of baking rice cakes filled our lungs. Besides the din of thousands of cicadas in Arisagawa Park, the odor from the rice cake bakery nearby reminded us we were home.

We are so cleansed of smells in our modern world that pungent odors can be surprising. Nothing emanates from our computers, smartphones, or televisions -- not yet, at least. We have reduced the scents from flowers, use mouthwash to cover bad breath, and work to expunge other unpleasant odors. I remember riding in a bus in Paris when a man with an unwashed body and dreadlocks entered the bus. His body odor overwhelmed me so that I had to retreat from the bus at the next stop. I thought of what life in a large city must have been like two hundred years ago. Now we are all so washed clean that we rarely notice body odor except when we are in an enclosed space such as a bus or a gym.

Do you like to color? You are welcome to download these two Inktober drawings.

While living in Paris, we attended wine fairs where as many as 800 independent wineries would offer tastings. One day, even though my head felt full of congestion from a cold, we walked through the door of a huge hall, inhaled the thick, moist air, and spent several hours trying to identify the aromas of the offered wines. At the end of the day, my cold was gone.

At the fair we purchased a wine game called "Le Nez du Vin," which included 54 small vials of liquid, which when opened offered a sniff of various aromas found in wine. We played the game with friends. Very few of us could identify the fragrances. Sometimes we would recognize a scent, but we couldn't name it. So we would pass on Grapefruit, Cherry, Violet, Mushroom, Thyme, Leather, and Toast.

The smells of cigar smoke reminds my husband of his dad, who smoked one continuously for years, lighting up after dinner and filling the dining room with the thick smoke. Do you have similar odors from your past that bring back memories of someone or of some place? Of the five senses, which do you use the most?

This month, along with my Inktober drawing-a-day, I have focused my posts on the senses. As a visual person, I found writing about the sense of sight to be easy, asking Rose Owens to talk of her love of cheese made the sense of taste come alive, but writing about smells so that you could be there with me was much harder. I needed to know more about what the sense of smell means to us. I found a research paper called Aroma, the Cultural History of Smells by Constance Classen, David Howes, and Anthony Sinnott, to be full of information about the importance of smells throughout human history. Good, short read!  Did you know that dwellers in the rainforest depend on their sense of smell because their sight is so restricted by the canopy they live in?

Keep going with your Inktober practice-a-day!

Friday, October 21, 2016


The Blue Angels roared over our heads as we sat on the long grass at Cavallo Point (formerly Ft. Baker) right across from San Francisco. I thought of Disney's "Fantasia" and the ending symphony as we watched the performance. First we saw the blue jets, then their trails, and then the heart-thumping crescendo of the engines, which reminded me of the shriek of the orchestra's brasses and the booming of the kettledrums. The jets turned at the Golden Gate Bridge and zoomed back across the city skyline, skimmed the tops of sailboats, left their trails behind, then as a group they climbed straight up in the sky, again the clap of their engines -- louder than any of the other planes that we had watched that day -- until they vanished in the sky, returning with a nose dive and a screech as they twisted in the air down towards the bay.

During the silence between the jets' sweep, I watched two vultures sail over tall trees looking for prey -- their quiet flight a counterpoint to the jets. Closer to us, the monarchs dipped and twirled their wings over the lawn before they came to rest on the path through the tall grass. A dragonfly buzzed by, and then as I sipped my coffee, a yellow jacket hummed near my hand, hoping for a drink.

The insects disappeared as the jets crossed overhead again, this time so low we could read the words, U.S. Navy, printed on their undersides. Again, their white trails followed by the ear-splitting boom of their engines. A grand finale to our day.


With today's post, I have continued writing about the five senses: my first commitment for Inktober.
How are your Inktober commitments working?
I hope you stay with the one thing a day that you have chosen to do.
Let us know how you are doing!

Friday, October 14, 2016


October means good food. One of the best is cheese. 
I've asked Rose Owens, a cheesemonger and friend,  to explain her favorite cheeses.

Rose with two wheels of blue cheese

In my daily cheese life, I am frequently asked about my favorite cheeses. It's a tough question, not unlike deciding your favorite child, or your favorite thing about being alive, Somehow, I have narrowed it down to three that I will always enjoy no matter well as the flavors I find within them. Join me!

Rose with a wheel of Comte Marcel Petit Essex
Comte Marcel Petite Essex

This magnificent cow's milk cheese from France is truly a king among its brethren. Comte is an Alpine style that is reminiscent of Gruyere, Appenzeller, and other large wheels from Europe. To me, however, Comte is so much more than just a cheese from a particular region. My ideal cheeses are the wheels made with summer milk, which brings out fresh, vibrant tones (the grasses the cows graze upon are freshest). These wheels taste like sunshine, rocky grassy mountain ranges, falling in love, the deep happiness that strikes you at random and highlights your day. It's the perfect cheese, and I could spend the rest of my days eating it!

Berthaut Epoisses

Epoisses is a washed-rind cheese that has been continually wiped or bathed in a liquid that lends particular flavors to the rind, traveling into the paste of the cheese as well. Epoisses is washed in Marc, a liqueur distilled from leftover grapes that have been pressed. Because of this, the cheese has a very strong aroma, characterized by some as quite "stinky." Fun fact: when a cheeses smells particularly intense, this does not mean the cheese itself will taste quite as funky; be brave and give it a try! Epoisses has a wonderful choir of flavors to me. I taste bourbon, vanilla, meat, and passion! That's right, passion itself!

Mothais au Feuille Dantan

Ok, you caught me. I love many cheeses, but the French ones really do a number on me. This cheese is the BEST goat cheese I have ever had the fortune to try. It is made by Fromagerie Poitou, and they seem to have made a deal with the devil, because this cheese absolutely sends me. This cheese is woodsy, with hints of lemon Starburst and fresh clean pillows. Eating this cheese brings me into a forest, where I'm bundled up in a cozy turtleneck, and the leaves swirling around me sing a song of eternal comfort and joy. There are many goat cheeses that dance me to the moon and back, but Mothais does so every single time.

Basically, I learned about tasting cheese by doing just that: tasting cheese over and over and over again. Your intuitions are best; connect the flavors you savor with foods or taste you already know. There's nothing wrong with saying a cheese tastes like "Cheetos" or "bubblegum" or "beef jerky."  Your experiences are real because they are yours! Cherish your tastebuds and taste everything. Come and visit me and we can experience it together!


Rose Owens comes from vibrant stock: the windswept fishermen of Newfoundland and the swarthy romantics of Italy. Her parents taught her to love food with ferocity, and so she has tried to put that into words. She is the Cheese Department Head at Bi-Rite Market on 18th Street in the Mission in San Francisco.

If you would like to take a cheese-tasting trip to meet Rose, let me know. And thank you, Rose, for writing this blog for Postcards in the Air! 

Friday, October 7, 2016


October is such a luscious month, tempting all the senses: the chill in the air after the heat of the summer, the scurry of leaves across the road, the aroma of pumpkin spices, the feel of corduroy, wools, and sturdy shoes, and the taste of butternut squash soup, roasted vegetables, and a thick slice of cheese.

For an artist, October is full of pen and ink drawings in response to Inktober, an event first created by Jake Parker, who encourages us all to enrich our lives by drawing something every day. Last year each week I showcased drawings from relatives and asked you to commit to doing something with intention each day. I challenge you again to do the same. My own posts will focus on the five senses, and will include drawings along the way.

I am short, which is maybe why I like small things, such as the seeds from our Japanese maple trees. Right now our deck is carpeted with hundreds of them -- no small thing. The squirrels love them and as they scramble through the branches and tear at the seeds, they shake many down. Sometimes the seeds are still attached to each other and like helicopter blades, they twirl as they float to the deck.

No small thing to sweep them up. They catch between the wood slats of the deck. Left to themselves when the rains come, they sprout and we will have the start of a small forest in the spaces between the wood. We have to scoop them out before they settle in.

Still, I like small things. Just because they are small doesn't mean that put together in a group they aren't a powerful force.

As Margaret Mead once said,
       "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. 
Indeed it's the only thing that ever has."

I challenge you to think of that statement as you do something with intention for October.  Let me know your choice and how it made you feel by the end of the month.

We have designated October as Compassion Month as well as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Among the women I know, many have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Many have survived that disease and treatment, while others have not. October is a time to remember and cherish them all.

Friday, September 30, 2016


Ever since I met my husband Bill, I've known him as a person who takes risks. When we were dating, he came to my parents' home, donned a paint smock, and went to work on a painting on our back porch. He said he hadn't painted since grammar school, but he stood in the yard of a family of artists, and painted away. Bill used to send me hand-drawn cartoons. Again, a risk since he was sending a card to a young woman whose dad drew comic strips for a living.

Gus is one of my many nicknames.

He's not afraid.

Bill has not been afraid to put aside all of his business acumen to take on the challenge of photography. He takes photos with the same single-mindedness as he does with all of his activities. And the proof you will find in these photos of birds.

As I have said before, all of us are creative and can acquire artistic skills. It just takes practice, and  the willingness to take risks and to fail.

Enjoy his photos. Let me know what you think of them!

Friday, September 23, 2016


Here's the advice I wasn't going to give (from last week's blog):


         YES opens doors
         NO closes them




Last week in Carmel, I watched two instructors, Cindy Briggs and Theresa Goesling, use this advice in their watercolor workshop, Make Every Day a Painting. We painted in downtown Carmel, at the Mission, in Big Sur, and at the beach. Each day Cindy and Theresa filled us not only with good watercolor techniques, but with life lessons as well. In the middle of the day, Carole Frazier, a songwriter, gave us thought-provoking prompts to write in our art journals. The first question she asked, "What Did You Come For?," made me pause. My response: to learn more watercolor techniques, and more importantly, to be with other like-minded creatives.

We did exercises and quick studies that began to fill our journals with memories of Carmel. So many people, even well-trained artists, are intimidated by watercolor. We tried to relax with the medium. We didn't create masterpieces. We did what all artists do: practice. During each session, we encouraged each other and learned to feel more confident with the medium.

At the end of the week, I felt I had a break-through with my pieces. These are a few of the paintings I made. Remember they are art journal pieces, not masterpieces. They all are unfinished and could use  more work.

Remember that art in any form takes practice. 
No one is born with paint brushes, paper, and paint in hand.

Check out Cindy Briggs and Theresa Goesling's website,

Friday, September 16, 2016


One of my biggest thrills in the last ten years was attending a cycling/hiking camp for women. I was one of the oldest ones there, but I didn't deny myself any activity. At the end of the week, one of the 30-years old piped up in our last get-together and exclaimed, "I want to be just like Martha when I grow up."

I just celebrated another big birthday this month, which made me ponder age and hope. I missed a memorial service for a high school friend who matured into a much-admired woman known for her activism and her love of other people. Instead of the memorial, I attended the wedding of one of the daughters of friends.

At the wedding, I spent an evening observing young people in their twenties -- bright, kind, sophisticated, ready to take charge of the world. I admired their self-confidence and their willingness to be outspoken in their beliefs. I enjoyed listening to them speak with their newly acquired knowledge and to express their own vulnerabilities.

Do I have advice for them? No, I realize that I don't. My advice is out-dated, like asking my grandmother how to use a new washing machine when all she had used is one with a wringer. My experiences helped to make me who I am today, but I am from a different world than the people growing up now. All I can do is present a model of growing old with grace and intention.

At the reception, I sat next to a woman who just turned 90. She participates in a Spinning class three times a week and does stretch yoga as well. We carried on a lively conversation. Late at night, she was out on the dance floor with everyone else. I thought to myself, "I want to be just like Eidee when I grow up."