Coronavirus Day 67. From coats and boots to sleeveless and sandals.

I’m tired. Not the kind of tired from not having enough sleep or the being bored kind of tired, but the heavy cloaked tired that comes with not knowing mixed with fear and anxiety and topped off with the new realities that even after over 2 months, I’m still having a hard time with. I heard a name for this today – coronavirus fatigue. The symptoms for coronavirus fatigue didn’t present themselves immediately for me, but rather were gradual in their onset, but now seem to be present daily. Walking, nature, painting and writing seem to offer temporary relief.

A hundred years ago…. I’m surprised that masks haven’t changed more!
However strong it is, I don’t think mine is strong enough right now.

Things in Boulder are starting to change and last Saturday was the “soft” opening of retail shops. The doors opened to new rules of spacing and mandatory masks, but still, the doors opened and customers entered. I walked down Pearl Street, the Main Street downtown where the majority of the shops and restaurants are, out of curiosity. It was the eeriest walk down Pearl I’ve ever experienced in my short 9 months of living here. People were walking around wide-eyed and curious, as if seeing everything for the first time. It reminded me of when people exit their homes during the quiet after a big storm to assess the damage, with a vulnerability that made it seem like we had just gotten up and were still in our pajamas. Wider than normal swaths of gray roots and hair that looked long overdue for a trim were the norm. Something about that felt reassuring to me. My own hair is about 3 inches past its haircut due date, so no judgement there, just observation. Some of the shops had music playing and doors wide open, giving a sense of celebration to the area but even so, something didn’t feel right or normal or as it had been before. I realized that I hadn’t seen that many people in one place in a very long time and even with distancing and probably less than 1/4 of the population that would normally be there on a beautiful Saturday, it seemed like a lot of people to me. The other odd thing was seeing everyone with a mask on. It still looks like a science fiction movie to me, but at the same time, I was grateful to see so many people following the rules.

Empty sign boards…not much going on in Boulder these days…

I went into one of the shops, simply because I could I guess, but had no intentions of buying anything as I didn’t have my wallet with me. I had passed by the shop window many times on my walks during the past 2 months and had seen something in the window that caught my eye, so wanted a closer look. The thing, an old wooden vessel of sorts, was just as intriguing in person as it had been through the shop window but I’ve got to say, I had no desire whatsoever to go home, get my money and return for the purchase. In fact, I had no desire to buy anything. I know the small businesses need all the help they can get, but spending money on myself for things totally unnecessary didn’t feel right to me and being in a store, regardless of the distancing didn’t feel right either. At least not yet. Having adhered closely to the “quarantine rules,” my re-entry will be slow. And I’m nervous, but I am getting out. I’m going to the grocery store and made a few trips to a local nursery for flowers. This, to me, is the scary part. I’m afraid that with each venture out to a new public venue, I will get more and more casual about touching things and physical distancing. I know it’s odd, but I’m afraid I’ll be so distracted by the plants, the flowers, the produce, the shoes, the books, that I’ll forget about the virus, even while donning a mask. Again, my re-entry will be cautious and slow.

My way of dealing with difficult situations is to only take on what I can handle, a gradual easing in process. It’s nothing I do consciously but rather seems to be the mechanism my psyche has set up as a matter of protection. I’m guessing I’m not alone in that. Had I been told 2 months ago to prepare for a solo quarantine for 2 plus months then a gradual return to a very different reality, I’m not sure what I would have done. After hearing about the 2 week “self-isolation,” daunting as it was, I prepared both physically and emotionally and was ready for the challenge. And now, a month and a half later from that “challenge” when I hear things like “mid to late summer for large gatherings… maybe, airline travel will come with risk or stock up on masks as we will be wearing them for a very long time,” my reaction is a flat, dull, sure, OK… hardly what it was when I heard 2 weeks isolation. I’ve become desensitized but know my psyche has a hand in that. What I can manage right now is today. Just today. I’m living the lesson I’ve always tried to put into play – living in the moment – and that lesson has become a matter of emotional survival for me.

I love my walks. Still. I love getting to know my neighborhood and beyond and have to wonder how “deep” I would have gotten on my walks had it not become a very important 2 hours of my day simply for my sanity as well as my physical well-being. I drove to a small garden center a few days ago as I was told they practice very strict and safe distancing measures. I had to think about how to get there from my house, given one way streets that don’t matter when walking. Driving felt strange. I can’t say that I loved it. The last time I filled my car with gas was on my return trip from KC the first of March. I still have 3/4 of a tank. Once we’re back to our “new normal,” I hope to spend more time on foot or on my bike doing my errands, which I’m still wondering exactly what those errands that had me in and out of my car several times a day even were? Yes, things will look different, be different, feel different and for much of that, I’m thankful.

Dumpsters at my nearby middle school… budding artists everywhere!
Could not have said it better!
Clever advertising for a room for rent. These guys seem to like living here…oh, and that’s a chicken living on the lower level of the “room for rent” display….
One of my more “curious” finds…
Take the answer that applies…

I walked past the Catholic Church down the street from me on Mother’s Day and couldn’t help but notice that the parking lot was relatively full, something that looks out of place these days. My curiosity got the best of me and I stopped to try and figure out what was going on. When I saw the sign that gave the radio station to tune into, I realized that it was Mother’s Day mass in drive-in form. The priest was on a small covered “stage” at the front of the parking lot and the congregation were in their cars listening from their radios. Once it was over and the cars started leaving, I saw a couple of men stationed at the exit who were handing out flowers to the mothers in the cars. They’ve figured it out. Mass while maintaining social distancing. Maybe I’m just nosey or maybe I’m curious or maybe I crave conversations with others, but I did cobble together a conversation in Spanish with a woman who was leaving the mass to confirm what I thought. Yes, Mother’s Day Mass in cars. Honoring their religion, their mothers and the social distancing.

Yes, I’m nosey and curious and am stopping people more and more often these days simply to ask questions and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how friendly most have been. A couple of the restaurants with large plate glass windows in front have put large pieces of plywood over the windows during the temporary shut down, I’m guessing to stave off possible looting. It was sad and rather forbidding to see. A few days ago I walked past the same windows only to see they had been painted over with a beautiful landscape. I was lucky enough to be there as the artists were working on one of the window paintings and had a nice conversation with them. It was suggested that maybe the paintings could be auctioned off once the restaurants re-opened and the money given to the restaurant association to help those who have suffered so much during the quarantine. Maybe one of the restaurants would want the painting on an interior wall? I asked them if they’d mind if I just watched them paint for a bit and they said absolutely not and so I did. There are a lot of stories out there. I’m happy to hear some of them

Before…
After….

Observations: 6 feet. We all know exactly what it looks like now with tape X’s and lines on the floors of the stores. The lines to get into stores often seem incredibly long, with the monitoring of one in one out rule, until I realized that there is 6 feet between every person and in reality, it’s only a handful of people who are making the line stretch out so long. It is the measurement of my life these days and I know by heart what it looks and feels like. How odd it will feel when we can all bunch together again, with ” excuse me” and “so sorry,”, when body parts accidentally touch. The thought seems very foreign to me right now.

I’ll let my photos tell the rest… always the most interesting part of my days…

“Help our rock garden…drop a rock of inspiration”. And it looks like many have! I may need to paint a rock and drop it off on my next walk…
I’m beyond blessed to have this trail a short 20 minute walk down the street from me….it’s become my retreat.

Stay safe. Stay hopeful.

Mother’s Day, 2020 Switching roles.

My favorite Mother’s Day photo, also possibly one of the only ones with everyone in the same shot as I was usually the one behind the camera.

I’ve always loved writing my Mother’s Day post more than any other as they seem to write themselves – the words flow effortlessly because it is a subject that I know well and hold close to my heart. This year is no different. Actually, it feels good to write about something else besides the coronavirus (59 days, by the way, which I’ve already rounded up to 2 months), but enough of that. Onto motherhood…

I was blessed with the title of Mom on April 30, 1986, when my son, Thomas, entered the world, followed by Grant in 1987 and rounding off our newly formed family of 5 with Emery in 1990. I look back on those early days of mothering, filled with exhaustion, adoration, frustration, devotion and lots of other words that end in “tion,” with such tenderness and nostalgia, but day to day, while in the throes of it, I’m not sure I would have used those words. The edges of life’s memories really do soften over time and although I was sleep-deprived and frustrated with babies who wouldn’t stop crying, while ignoring my own needs, those early baby days are some of my fondest, and as cliche as it is, the time really did fly by – days were long but the years were fast. I never thought I’d be that mom who tells her ‘new to their parenting role’ children, “It feels like only yesterday that YOU were that age and I was trying to get YOU to sleep, stop crying, eat, smile for the camera and so on.” But lo and behold, I am that mom. I’m also that mom who continues to tell any mom who is bemoaning the fact that their babies are growing up too quickly that EVERY age was my favorite ( small lie, middle school excluded…) and that includes the age they are today. Those silly, joyful, stubborn, curious beings are still there whether at 2 years or 32 years and getting the occasional glimpses or the gestures that take me back are my constant reminder of that. The gift continues even with my very young grandchildren, (ages 3, 1 and 6 months), when I see their parents in their facial expressions, gestures and sense of humor. It’s only now, that my children are grown and flew the nest over a decade ago, that I feel like I’ve gotten the distance necessary to see the 3 distinct phases that my journey into motherhood has taken me, each one, naturally, my favorite.

Phase One was infancy to leaving home for college – the exhausting and memorable years that filled photo albums and journals. It was my life and who I became and I’m darn proud of those years. I’m touched with my kid’s memories of the small gestures I made for reasons that varied from total enthusiasm to it will help us (me) get through the day. The fact that they remember the small things mean a whole lot more to me than the vacations, the Christmas’s or the gestures far grander than laying on a blanket in the front yard with our eyes to the sky while we looked for animals in the clouds, or midnight runs to the store for snacks in slippers and “loungewear” because we were watching World Cup soccer in a European time zone or having a campout in a closet that was far too small for much more than tiny clothes. Those years, while forming the adults my children are today, also played a very big role in my own self-development and my journey back to my own inner child – the creative, often dirty, probably too loud, happy little girl who tested boundaries and pushed edges. Because those years became such a part of who I am today, Phase Two, the empty nest phase, was a difficult one for me. That, coupled with divorce and finding my way through a newly emptied house on my own, was a difficult time for me. As much as I thought I was ready for each one of the kids exits to college, I wasn’t. While unloading over-filled cars, to undersized dorm rooms, always on the hottest day of the year, I held back tears as I watched my kids feather their new nests while leaving their old ones behind. But it turned out OK because the kids eventually did return and slept in their old beds and stayed out too late and left dirty dishes in the sink and trails of clothes on the floor and I still worried and nagged and asked too many questions and felt deliriously happy in the chaos of their brief returns and my return to “normal”.

What I didn’t realize at my time of empty nests and roots and wings metaphors was that there would be another phase – Phase Three, when my basement would be cleared of all my kid’s boxes and belongings because this time, I was the one moving. No longer would the kids be coming back to their own rooms, still holding glimpses of themselves on their walls, to stay during holidays or the occasional just because weekends. This time, the baby birds weren’t the only ones to leave the nest but the mama was also leaving. Not only did our nest change, but our roles have changed as well. The same children who used to hear the words so often that I think scar tissue formed in their ears:

“When will you be home? Who are you going with? Who’s driving? Did you finish your homework/project/room cleaning/assignment etc.? How are you going to get there? Did you remember your books/soccer gear/ ballet shoes/homework/project??? And no, for the 100th time, you can’t…”

Are the same kids who are now asking,

“Are you OK, Mom? Have you met your neighbors? Need me to tune up your bike, mow your lawn, sort out your blog website, get you groceries? Help you move that (insert anything heavy here…)?”

Granted, the quarantine has strengthened this concern and offers of helping out, but it didn’t create them as they were there long before I was in my solo-quarantine.

Less than a week into my quarantine, I went to bed, thinking all was OK and was quietly “congratulating” myself on making it through another day when out of nowhere, I began to sob – a chest heaving kind of sob. It didn’t matter how many times I told myself that it was going to be OK and that I was going to be OK, I clearly wasn’t. I was scared. I was alone. Without hesitation, I picked up my phone and called my son, Grant, whose time zone is an hour earlier than mine and I knew he’d still be up. My son became the voice of reason, insuring me that everything was going to be fine and I was going to be fine and just think, when we are on the other side of this, the stories we will all be able to tell of living through a pandemic.

“You’ll be ok, Mom. I love you, Mom.”

We talked for about an hour, he talking me off the quarantine wall while I listened to the sage advice and reassurance from the son who gave me so many sleepless nights and whose behavior my own parents had to tell me was strangely familiar as they had seen it before with me. That son. That same son that this parent was now calling for reassurance and simply because I was afraid.

“You’ll be OK, Mom.”

“Thank you, Grant.”

About a month after that call, my son, Thomas, texted that he was going to ride his bike over and would I like to go bike riding with him, keeping masks on and distancing, of course. And so we did, but only after he gave my bike a front to back tune up, something I had been quite remiss in keeping up with. After wandering around empty streets, me showing him some of my walking discoveries while he gave me riding tips (it had been a while since I had ridden on city streets, even though they were empty…), we sat in the yard and talked – about the quarantine, his daughter, Lilah, Boulder, life. That time together was exactly what I needed and I’m sure Thomas knew that. There’s an unspoken communication that parents develop with their kids which no doubt is where the saying “eyes in the back of our heads” originated. You know when your child is not telling you something or is lying or stretching a truth that they are “fine” when you know they aren’t, simply because you are the mom and moms know. I’ve got to think that the kids of those moms develop the same kind of intuition over time. Thomas knew I was having a rough few days even though I had said nothing to him and did what any caring child would do and invited me to go bike riding. After he left, I stayed outside, sat on my front porch and absorbed it all. Although we can’t hug, that time spent pedaling around the neighborhood was just about as close to a hug as I could get. This experience of quarantining is teaching me that there are many ways to hug, without physically touching, and for that, I’m continually grateful.

And finally, last week was my grandson, Arlo’s, 3rd birthday and although I hadn’t planned on seeing the kids that day due to coronavirus, Emery called me a few days before and insisted I come over. I had developed a pretty severe rash on my arms that was only getting worse and Emery thought that breaking social distancing rules at this point and going in for the hugs was more important for my health than staying away. I followed her suggestions and spent a few hours celebrating Arlo’s 3rd birthday with lots of hugs and family time. And the rash? The itching subsided that night and now, a week later, after having it for almost 3 weeks, it’s completely gone. Emery’s maternal nature and concern for me has come through with supplements and teas for my immune system, runs to the store, drive by’s with Arlo in the back seat, simply so I can get a quick “in person” look and FaceTimes almost daily to connect. A few days into the quarantine, when we were all thinking it would be 2 weeks and weren’t really sure of what was next, a package of goodies from a small local store was delivered to me from Emery. She knew. She’s developed the maternal eyes in the back of her head and I’m the lucky recipient. We are all taking care of each other in our words and our gestures and seem to know intuitively when to jump in and offer a virtual shoulder. Hugging from a distance.

Not only did the kid’s belongings leave the basement and the mama fly the nest in Phase Three, but the children become the parents. I have no intention of surrendering my parental role (is that even possible???), but have certainly loosened my grip and am happy to let my kids step in and offer to help or a listening ear. Those gestures of love mean as much to me as the stack of pop tarts and glass of orange juice, brought to me on a tray, with kids arguing about who got to hold it, while serving me “breakfast” in bed.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. Whether a late night reassurance call, an impromptu bike ride, a morning of hugs or stacks of pop tarts on a plate, they all say the same thing…

” I love you, Mom.”

” I love you, too.”

In the midst of mothering, Phase One….
Mothering, Phase Three. Thomas, Grant and Emery (pregnant with her 2nd) at Griffith Park in LA.

Trees and birds with a healthy side of patience and understanding…

I finished the making the book for my friend from Ecuador yesterday.  Well almost and not quite.  Upon what I thought was the  completion, I ordered just one copy to check for mistakes then took it over for Marta to check it as well before ordering the 12 books that she wanted.  I was very pleased with the end result but given the history thus far on the project, knew not to relax just yet, a hunch that was totally correct.

Marta was standing at her front window waiting for me when I arrived, a gesture that I’ve become quite fond of, and has me on my punctual toes each time I visit.  Her living room looked like she was expecting company as she had moved all of her kitchen chairs into the room, and each chair held one of her original paintings as well as stacked, and paper clipped papers of text.  There was a system here and I knew not to question although I was somewhat  surprised as I had already reassured her multiple times that I had the paintings and the text pages in the proper order.  I thought we had already jumped that hurdle.

Inhale.  Exhale.  Patience.  Or paciencia, in Español.

She loved my “sample” hard copy book, much to my delight, yet still walked around the living room checking my page order with the stacks of paper on each chair.   She did find a couple of small mistakes, errors in her spelling on some of the Spanish text and I agreed that I would keep the book with the mistakes as my own, would make the necessary corrections then would order the 12 books she wanted.  She wanted to pay me right then and there,  but I insisted we wait until she had all 12 books in her hands and was pleased with them. We agreed to meet for lunch once she received the books and she could pay me then.  So last week, as agreed, we met at a neighborhood restaurant that she liked that ironically happened to be French and enjoyed  the lovely French cuisine while conversing in Spanish the entire time.   The language section of my brain, opened up then got confused, as I was “merci-ing”  in the middle of a totally Spanish conversation.  I felt very European.

That was last week.  Since then, my friend has found things in the book she wants to change, which means another order and unfortunately, a big expense for her.  I tried to talk her out of it as the books are not cheap, but she insists that they be perfect and said she will only publish one book in her lifetime and this was it so it just had to be perfect.  She apologized for having pushed me to get them done so quickly but said she was nervous she wouldn’t make it to her 80th birthday, a comment that I have argued more than once with her.  When the book was finished she told me she was relieved and will not worry about dying before December.  I don’t know how to say “stop over thinking the dying stuff” in Spanish but gave her a smile that communicated my thoughts and she smiled back.  I’m starting to understand her humor and she mine.

That was a few weeks ago and the same process of ordering, proofreading, correcting and re-ordering has now happened, twice.  Last week, I think we finally reached a point where we’re both satisfied, but my fingers remain crossed and my breath held.

This has been far more of an ordeal than I ever thought it would be when I signed on, but it has been about so much more than a book of paintings and text.  Last week I spent 2 hours conversing in Spanish with my new friend and felt so comfortable with it that at one point I actually forgot that I was slogging through a language that wasn’t my mother tongue.  

As I was driving home from that last visit,  I realized that the many trips to her house to do and re-do were far less about the book that we were jointly creating and far more about the friendship that was developing.  I think about Marta and I smile.  It’s been a synchronistic connection that I think we both needed and the timing was impeccable.

The book, by the way, is a lovely story which showcases Marta’s love for her children as well as her love for trees.  She represents each of her 6 children as golondrinas, a bird that is common to Ecuador, who one by one leave the nest and find their tree to begin their lives as adults.  Many different trees are represented, including a saguaro cactus, which represents her son who lives in Arizona.  One of the paintings shows one of the birds returning to the mother with the text “trata otra vez” (he tried again).  I was that kid.  I get it.  No doubt her children will be very touched by the paintings and the story that accompanies them, especially given that they haven’t yet learned that she know how to paint! 

Sometimes getting to the prize at the end of the proverbial tunnel isn’t what you thought it would be.  I’ve got a new book to add to my growing collection of books I’ve made, but the gain here is not in the pages of that book but rather was the added gift of an unexpected friendship. There is always a purpose behind our chance meetings with people and some of those  relationships continue as they are needed in one way or another, while others fall away.  I’m hopeful that the friendship I’ve found with Marta will continue far beyond the pages of a book. 

Finding my gift in the process, not the product, and saying “gracias”…

Quito, Ecuador and my friend, Marta’s home town

Last night,  over a pizza with extra mushrooms and pepperoni, I carefully listened to the life stories told to me in Spanish by a woman from Ecuador, who at the tender age of 20, moved to Kansas City with her Ecuadorian, soon to be doctor, husband.  After having 7 children with him,  she divorced and raised the children as a single mom, remaining in Kansas City.   She’d only interject with English when she’d see my head tilt and brows knit in confusion over a word or a phrase, then seamlessly, would fall right back into her native tongue.  When the waitress came over to our table to see if we needed anything and I quickly responded in Spanish, my immediate reality hit me and I had to marvel at the beauty of sharing these moments, with this women, in Spanish, in Leawood,  KS and over a pizza.

I met this lovely women a few years ago as she was my teacher at an evening Spanish class I was taking. After the 3rd class, she called me at home and told me she thought I was too advanced for the class and would I rather come to her house and just converse once a week?  Of course I would! I’d much rather speak Spanish while sitting on someone’s couch than at a desk with a notebook in front of me! And that’s how I got to know Marta.  After a few months of weekly Spanish at her house, I ended up taking a trip to her native Ecuador with her and 3 other students.   It was interesting  getting to see the country through her native eyes and frustrating at the same time as they were 78 year-old eyes and we didn’t exactly share the same philosophies on travel and adventure and how many more museums to we have to, I mean get to go to today??  But that’s another story.

I didn’t hear from her after the trip until a month ago when she emailed me and asked for my help with a project she was working on.  Her children are throwing her an 80th birthday party in December and to thank them, she was in the process of putting together a  short story of her life told in paintings and brief text that she wanted to make into books and could I please offer up the tiniest bit of help with the project?  I hesitated, and with good cause, but hung onto the words tiny or “muy pequito” more specifically.  I really didn’t know Marta well as she was fiercely private so was both surprised and flattered with her request.  Flattery won.

I agreed to meet her at her house, a short 10 minutes from mine, where she would show me what she was working on and how I could help.  In my mind, I thought it would be a giving an opinion on fonts or text placement kind of thing,  which I was more than happy to help with.  I’ve got to add that when I returned from Ecuador, I made a book of photos from the trip with some text and gave a copy to Marta, so any hopes of saying I didn’t know how were lost on that piece of history.   When I got there, she took me to her spare bedroom/office where she had 20 8 1/2 by 11 sized paintings carefully laid out on the sofa bed, all of them with the similar theme of trees, birds and a lot of blue sky.  They were quite lovely and all hand painted by Marta, who told me she taught herself to paint on the heels of this project.  Inhale.  Exhale.  It was far more than an opinion she wanted and I was in too deep to walk away.  She begged, she pleaded, she insisted on paying me for the work, which at that point, seeing the size of the project, I already had a number in my mind to charge her.  I looked at her standing proudly in front of the 20 paintings that depicted her life, carefully placed on the bed as a display for me and wondered how in the world I could say anything but yes.  Yes, of course I will help you.

She was so excited that I said yes and  began to explain how she wanted the book by showing me her handwritten copies of stapled and stacked papers, far more confusing than it needed to be, then explained how she learned to paint, again, far more explanation that I needed, but I was committed at that point,  so let go of my need to grab the explanation and be on my way, and  allowed myself to be present in a moment that was not just about me making a book.  There was something else in the makings here, and although not quite sure what that something was, I was willing to stay the course and find out.

I knew I’d be there until next Tuesday if I didn’t tell her I had to be somewhere else, so with the paintings and the papers, all organized into two folders,  we said our goodbyes and I almost made my exit when Marta came running out the front door and stopped me and handed me a lucite in-box from her desk, insisting that I put the paintings, the paintings that were safely tucked into a folder, into the box for the drive to my house.  She said they’d be safer that way.

While driving home, I glanced over at the clear lucite box that contained a 79 year-old woman from Ecuador’s life story, told in paintings and brief text, that was riding shot gun in my car and knew I had made the right decision.  This gift, created for her children and to be given to them on her 80th birthday celebration,  no doubt was going to be a gift for me as well, and to that, both out loud and to myself, I said gracias.

My first task at hand was to photograph the paintings, which had given me the most angst about the project as I didn’t want to lose one brushstroke in the copying process, but they turned out beautifully and I began the process of digitally putting them into the book format, along with her pages of text.  The ease of the project ended quickly when I got an email from Marta saying she wanted all of the paintings back because she wanted to make the birds darker, which were in every painting and represented important pieces of her life.  I knew there was no arguing with her so told her I’d be over “around noon” on the following day.  I pulled into her driveway at 12:10 and noticed her standing at the front window waiting.  My irritation with her request that seemed unfounded, melted at the sight of her anxiously waiting for me.  It made me think of my grandparents who would drive an hour to see me dance in a 10 minute half-time performance in my high school gym.  They always looked little and vulnerable and more excited than anyone else in the room to see me.  I found myself more than willing to hear Marta’s explanations of the small changes she wanted to make and how she was going to make the birds darker in all 20 of the paintings.  I’m finding my Spanish again with each visit and she’s finding someone to use her Spanish with and I think in the process, we’re both unexpectedly finding a friendship. 

After about a week of working on the book,  and two more trips to her house with worries and suggestions, I brought over the final copy via my computer for her to look at before ordering.  She was thrilled!  Well… mostly.  There was one painting that she wanted to tweak just a little bit and then I could come back the next day and get it.  Or, I suggested, the tweaks could be done as I waited then I could carry the wet painting home in my car, oh so carefully.  She hesitated and said she’d do it now and I could take it home with me and in the meantime, would I like to go eat pizza with her tonite at a pizza place nearby that she liked?  My first thought was to say no, I have to go, but then thoughts of her sitting by herself at a trendy and likely busy pizza parlor came to mind and I graciously said yes, of course yes.  It was over pizza that I heard about Marta and her seven children and both her happiness with being here and the longing for her Ecuador.  I am both blessed and honored to be a very small part of the celebration of this dear woman’s 80th birthday.

The warmth of such an interesting and delightful evening quickly faded when Marta emailed me later that night and said she wanted all of the text size changed as larger text is just nicer to read.  She didn’t seem to understand that the actual book would be larger than my computer screen but that didn’t matter.  She wanted it changed and needed me to come by her house, at my convenience, of course, ASAP,  so she could explain.  She ended the email telling me that because she had shared her history and her family’s history with me, “we are now friends.”

Marta (on the right) with her childhood friend and me in Cuenca, Ecuador

 And so, with my new friend directing me, I continue to work on this project, that in reality was completed a while ago, while realizing that this is less about the book and far more about what is going on between Marta and I during the process of making this book.  These really are the moments,  wrapped up in a package so cleverly disguised that it hardly seemed like a gift, let alone one I’d want to unwrap.  It has been the unexpected treasure of friendship inside wrappings of frustration and annoyance,  that I never saw coming.  For that, I am grateful and say gracias,  muchas gracias mi amiga, Marta.

To be continued…

My 365 day project…

Everyday, since January 1, 2014, I have been taking a photo and digitally putting it into a self-publish book.  Some days I’ve had a plethora of photos to choose from and other days I’ve struggled to come up with the one photo that will represent the day, more or less.   I’ve given each photo a date, the number of days into the year it represents and a caption.  By the way, today is day #146…

It’s been an interesting journey that has brought on challenges that I had not expected, which surprisingly has NOT been to remember to take a photo and digitally upload it into the book on a daily basis.  Initially, I tried to outdo myself daily, each photo upping the last, most of them scenic, none of them boring, but 146 days into the project, I know now that the days that I think I’ve got nothing, are the days that I find myself slowing down, listening and simply observing and I’m always surprised with what I end up with.  They are usually the days with the photos I’m most proud of.

The process has given me a different lens to view my day through (pun intended)… and through that lens, I’m finding the beauty in places and situations that I never noticed before….
Unexpected bonuses.
Open eyes.

Here are a few of my favorites…

Day #1

 

Day #36

 

Day #37
Day #71

 

Day #77
Day #91
Day #114
Day #146