Nothing But Flowers

Life has been a bit crazy and a lot boring from too much going on – and by boring, I mean, work work work work work. No biking and no sewing. I haven’t even gotten the sewing space set up yet! Although that is partially because I spent most of Sunday binge watching Netflix series “Grace and Frankie.” It’s a fun show that packs a serious emotional punch at the same time. A highly scientific Facebook survey of my friends showed that I am not the only one my age who likes this show about retired couples. Everyone has given it thumbs up.

Binge watching aside, I apparently needed time away from everything. The Mechanic was out of town for the weekend, so it was just Gaston and I puttering around the apartment. I did get most of my to-do list done, so it wasn’t totally wasted, but still, no biking and no sewing. So instead of photos of a fun bike ride or my latest sewing project, all I have for you is flowers. But you know what? Sometimes I think we all need a little more beauty in our lives.

We have had a ton of rain lately (although that is fairly normal for summers here, it somehow seems like more than our fair share), and with that we get mushrooms popping up on the lawns everywhere. I love the ones that create fairy rings, or almost rings. Don’t they seem magical? My favorite, however, is this spot of sidewalk where annually some zinnia pushes through the cement and makes it’s own statement. It’s like one of those motivational posters, don’t you think?

Nevertheless, it persisted

Let Nature Nurture

There is a lot of pain, fear and anger in the world these days. I don’t know if it is worse than years, generations, decades or even centuries past, but it is certainly stressful. I have been avoiding the news, discussing the news, thinking about the news… I just need some time to recover from the raw emotions of the shootings in the United States, I need time to fully process and recover my strength. I don’t have time to turn to nature to help me heal, so instead, I’ve been hunting through my photos for pictures of some of my favorite healing nature places.


My most relaxing place is the ocean. I love the crash of the waves on the rocks in Mendocino, which is my happy place. But there are many oceans, and rivers, and bays, and lakes, and other places that have water that make me happy.


I love trees, too. I love their huge size, the bright green when the leaves are new, the dramatic skeletons when the leaves are gone… In forests and in fields, and down the street from me. Trees are completely uplifting.


Any bright and cheerful blossom in the spring makes me smile – I can’t get enough of the gorgeous colors around me then. When I lived in New York City, I lived near Fort Tryon Park, and spent years wandering through the park soaking up the vivid colors. And I’ve always loved gardens – botanical gardens, gardens at historic estates, gardens of my neighbors. Bright colors make me happy! 2015_Dogwood blossomsChristina's Flower 2

Fort Tryon Park, in 2007

Fort Tryon Park, in 2007

Just looking at these pictures make me happier, and perhaps more resilient. Of course, they also bring back happy memories, which probably also lowers my stress level. It’s a nice reminder to see adventures with friends and family over the years.

I hope you have a moment to stop and smell the flowers and enjoy the trees. It won’t solve the world’s problems, but it might make them easier to stomach. red poppies

Into the Woods

The Mechanic and I saw “Into the Woods,” the new movie, over the New Year’s weekend. We rarely go to see movies; apparently this is our New Year’s tradition. What a brilliant movie to see on the big screen! There were so many excellent moments in the show, lines (“I was raised to be Charming, not sincere…”), costumes, songs, sets, scenes…. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the show, and I was really happy to get to introduce it to The Mechanic. Now I want him to see the video production of the 1987 Broadway version, to see the original. The movie isn’t that much different, but it is a bit altered. Still, I loved it and recommend it.Into the Woods Movie

The musical has some special memories for me too – when I was an undergrad, majoring in history at CSU Sacramento, I worked in the theater costume shop. One semester they did “Into the Woods” with costumes rented from the Broadway tour. I had been dressing Broadway tours already at that point, so I was not new to seeing Broadway costumes, but I remember a moment of disappointment in the repairs in the Stepsisters’ costumes. Twenty (or so) years later, I understand what I saw, but at the time, well, I assumed that professional costumes at least used matching thread colors! That CSUS production was also my first draped costumed, draped, then dyed, and that will also always be special to me.

Despite all the wonderful moments and memories, there was something in the back of my mind while I watched the movie that bothered me. The forest, the Woods, was the biggest uncredited performer in the movie, and not necessarily well represented. It started off well: in the first act, the Baker and his Wife have a duet in which she sings about how different he is in the woods – “stronger, braver.” It made me think about the Children & Nature Network, and all the research that shows the benefits of being in nature – not just the health impact of physical exercise over sitting in front of a screen, but also mental health and development, emotional health and reduced stress, etc. In the first act of “Into the Woods,” each character that ventures into the woods learns something about themselves, they grow as a person. This is exactly what we want children to get out of playing in nature.

Being in nature soothes my soul

Being in nature soothes my soul

However… in the second act, the Woods are dark, sinister and dangerous, the paths are gone, everything looks different – it’s gotten scary. The characters fight, some die, and they all panic. Even when some of them join forces to solve the problem, they still come out of it scarred. This unfortunate portrayal of the Woods reminded me of an op ed in the LA Times, found through the Children & Nature Network newsletter, entitled “The Great Fear of the Great Outdoors.” The author, Gary Ferguson, makes a startling statement up front: “…our unease about nature is beginning to outweigh our desire for it.” He then goes on to list the number of TV shows and movies that cast Nature as the bad guy. Not only are we addicted to our electronic devices, we are being told by the media that nature is scary, dark, sinister, dangerous and deadly. No wonder no one wants to play outside! And now we have a movie that ends with a scary Woods, exactly what everyone will remember when they leave the movie theater, not the empowering discovery of the first act. Even the movie ads make the Woods seem menacing!

Ooh, spooky woods...

Ooh, spooky woods…

The implications of children not knowing the outdoors are well documented; you only need to spend a bit of time on the Children & Nature website to see some proof. But beyond the individual development of nature play, there is a greater concern that children who have no connection to nature will grow into adults who see no value in national parks, state parks and local green space. That means the parks are at risk; god forbid we lose the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite, along with numerous other smaller parks, because generations after our see no reason to keep them as public parks. The National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary in a year, in 1916, and I hope we can keep it around another hundred years. But maybe we need to make more of an effort to ensure that children see nature as a positive thing, not something to fear. And that effort needs to include the arts and entertainment – TV shows, movies, and adults dedicated to putting down the electronics to sit still and enjoy going into the woods.

Happy Nature!

Happy Nature!


A Bicyclist Goes for a Walk….

Sounds like a joke, doesn’t it?

Sometimes I prefer walking over biking. But the reason why The Mechanic and I went for a walk this morning, instead of a bike ride, was that we realized we aren’t in walking shape for our upcoming trip! Last weekend we walked around our neighborhood for almost 2 hours, and were exhausted afterwards! 18 miles in one day? No problem! Walk for a few hours? Oh dear.

I ended up biking 18 miles last Wednesday, without planning on it.

I ended up biking 18 miles last Wednesday, without planning on it.

So we went for a walk. It’s absolutely beautiful today! We walked through Lubber Run Park, near-ish to our place. It’s a lovely little valley full of trees, with a small stream running through it. I find it very peaceful. It’s almost ever full of people, although today a large family gathering had taken over a few of the picnic tables and grills, with several little kids playing in the water. That’s a better way to spend Memorial Day weekend, rather than tying up wedding to-dos, and frantically trying to cross things off a very long list.

I always enjoy walking because I get to stop and study things I normally whiz past on my bike. We watched some grackles kicking up the leaves, and saw a blue jay nestled on the ground with it’s wing stretched out oddly. We were concerned it was injured, and watched it for a while, until it suddenly sprang to life and flew off into the trees. We examined places on tree trunks that might be where deer scratched at the bark, or maybe not, and studied the oak leaves growing off a downed tree. These sorts of things are harder to do by bike. I’d have to stop every few feet to do so!

Now I’m back to frantically going over the list of wedding tasks still required. Not much, mind you, but we are 20 days away, and I don’t want to scramble (too much) at the last minute to get things organized and communicated. I prefer to be as prepared as possible….

So a walk through the woods is a welcome respite for this cyclist!