Habitat for Humanity Taos, New Mexico

Adobe House in Progress

Adobe House in Progress

New Habitat adventure to Taos, New Mexico.

Smooth flights, easy connections and a variety of unusual airport conversations were the order of the day as I traveled Friday to arrive in Santa Fe, New Mexico. There I joined with some of my favorite Habitat for Humanity buddies.

They team has already been in Taos for a week building, and the weekend of October 25 is a rest and relaxation break.  Excellent timing on my part!

We spent a lovely Saturday walking through the local farmers market, visiting the abundance of artist galleries in Santa Fe, and marveling over the glorious, colorful fall weather. I stuffed myself with green chilies and flavorful salsa throughout the day wishing I could transport the homemade spicy delights home. Though I am bringing home a delicious jar of raspberry red chile ginger jam.   I ate the best Chile Rellenos last night for dinner and am still feeling the fire in my belly!

This afternoon we check out of our hotel and head down the road to Taos, and plan to stop for photo opportunities in this extraordinary landscape.  Monday the work begins for me and I look forward to building with this eclectic group of friends.

Best Team Ever!

Best Team Ever!



Amtrak, Ferries and Wild Women of the Pacific Northwest, Part 2

 20140522_112945   Susan, thank you for the wonderful email.  It was a glorious time with everyone….   I loved all our crazy, wacky, peaceful, sleepy, sugar coma, Star Light theater moments and the cool weather.   I miss you all terribly as I am back in hot old Idaho….  I had a great drive to Wenatchee with Pat, excellent conversation, saw gorgeous mountains, a wild river, ate the best ever Indian food, got a terrific tour from Pat and Bill of the charming downtown and panoramic view of the city.  

I logged into my WordPress site and noted I had already started a draft blog chronicling my recent adventures.  The beginning here  is part of an email response I wrote to Port Townsend Susan.  I decided to back up a bit to write more on this trip.–

The Amtrak ride ended too soon, for me anyway as a person who rarely rides the trains. However, from the snippets of conversations on board, Amtrak was a way of travel life for many commuting between Portland, Seattle and beyond.

I got off the train at Edmonds, WA, walked the short route to the ferry and crossed-over to Kingston, where my dear friend Nancy offered curbside service, and off we went to begin the last visiting section of my trip. A reunion with the women of the Pacific Northwest whom I had bonded with on our Habitat build in Kauai.

Thursday morning began with work on a Habitat for Humanity home in Chimicum, Washington.

Nancy is working!

Nancy is working!


Ann, Kate (and guy in the background) are working!

Well, Nancy, Ann and Kate were productive. I got an attack of the lazy and dabbed slowly away on the exterior side, strolled around the lovely meadow and visited with others. Project Manager Kate noted the lackluster energy and graciously allowed an exit from work to go have fun in Port Townsend.


I am wandering, lollygagging around in the meadow  - not working.

I am wandering, lollygagging around in the meadow – not working.

Living in a state that has an abundance of sun and hot weather, I tried to temper my exuberant hope for rainy weather, as I realized I was surrounded by Pacific Northwest dwellers who cherish every ray of sunshine that graces their cloudy, moist world.

I have resided the last 37 years in the desert land of Boise, Idaho, which is a complicated place to live. Idaho is a diverse landscape of deserts, plains, wild rivers, gorges, stunning mountains and four distinct climate seasons. In fact on the plane ride to Portland, my seatmate was a longtime resident of Idaho and we spent the trip discussing the endless list of outdoor places to enjoy in Idaho and I felt a new gratitude for where I live. Yet, it is easy to feel landlocked in Boise particularly during the brutal summer heat. What I luxuriate in each time I flee to Port Townsend, Chimicum, or any location on the Oregon, Washington coast,  is the immediate proximity of the water, the lush greenery and mountain landscape. Eventually I will relocate and settle to the Pacific Northwest.

Meanwhile, back to the Wild Women of the Pacific Northwest HFH reunion.

A mixture of whirlwind activity began as we ate tasty clam chowder, pastries, drank delicious fresh roasted coffee, and strolled through the Saturday market. One of the highlights of the trip occurred when we went to the Rose Theater and watched a movie in the Starlight room. Located in an old building on the top floor, the theater consists of a collection of comfy chairs and couches. Movie time began with the heavy velvet curtains drawn over the windows, and introduced by one of the theater staff.  It was hard to decide which chair to sit in. I started the afternoon sitting with my friends, but halfway through the show, migrated back to a big, fluffy comfy chair. Tables are placed strategically around the furniture for moviegoers to eat dinner and some of the best popcorn this side of the Mississippi.

Wild Pacific Northwest Women (Susan L. is taking the photo)

Wild Pacific Northwest Women (Susan L. is taking the photo)


To be continued…..


Ocean, Conference, Amtrak, and Yellow Flowers, Part 1

20140521_161114   Riding Amtrak from Portland to Edmonds, Washington where I will then take the Kingston ferry to meet up with my Kauai Habitat for Humanity buddies for a rendezvous in  Port Townsend. Time on the train provides rocking space for daydreaming, reflection, surrounded by green landscape and the punctuation of the train soundings off its lonesome whistle.

I left home last Friday and spent the weekend in Cannon beach with my lovely daughter, Molly, who moved to Portland last winter. That ocean Zen experience was followed by a conference at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Portland, on the waterfront. Workshops, keynote speakers and conversation with interesting participants left me inspired and looking forward to a soothing four-hour train ride.

It is a bit strange because at times I nearly forget I have a life in Boise and consider simply remaining out here, in the Pacific Northwest, closer to the ocean and soak up the coastal climate. The train snaking its way through valleys and fields of brilliant green terrain with red barns occasionally peaking though the thick trees encourages me to stay.

Stunning flowering bushes splash their yellow brilliance along the route.  I don’t know what they are, but they line the rail path and spread themselves throughout vast meadows. I am making myself crazy trying to get a picture of the yellow carpets that unpredictably emerge between thickets of trees. A patch emerges, I grab my camera and the moment passes.  I refrain from lunging across the seats of other passengers to snap pictures on their sides, and finally decide to put my camera away.  Time to soak up the view, and attempt to paint a picture with words of the cheerful impact their abundance creates.20140521_16212820140521_170002



Memories of Valentine’s Day 2013 – The Grand Production


Ice Storm Photo by Molly Emerson

I have had this story in my WordPress Que left over from last year, Valentine’s Day 2013.  I thought it would be fun to share as I look forward to 2014 production day.

February 14, the infamous Valentine’s Day that evokes gushy expressions of love or cynical statements that the holiday is “all about the greeting card industry.”

It is an odd day, that resembles a play production.  If you are a cast member then you wholeheartedly embrace learning the dialogue, rehearse gift options with close friends, eagerly wait for the completion of the stage with the scenery and props in place.  The big day arrives, the curtain lifts, the production begins, all involved hope that lines are perfectly delivered, everyone stays in character, the lights and sound will function correctly, and the audience will enjoy the show.

Act one began quietly with frosted cookies and a nice note from our boss.  With greed and gusto we stuffed the pink sugary delights into our mouths.

Act two, one of my co-workers received flowers and tears flowed from her lovely eyes.

In the third act, several of the guys gathered in the cube to compare notes on what they had planned for their wives hoping they had made the right choice in gifts.  I eavesdropped to make sure the gifts were Valentine Day appropriate and sufficiently romantic.

Intermission was uneventful – no singing telegrams, chocolate or any other heartfelt delights.

Act four, the grand finale,  centered on me in a surly mood as I walked across campus.  I spied a gathering of students handing out something – not sure what.  Usually I take interest and love seeing the activism of young people.  Not today, I made plans to sidestep the gathering.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw a young student head my way.  I reluctantly lifted my head, smiled as she approached me.  She grinned big and dropped a chocolate kiss in my hand, and gave me a slip of paper with an inspirational quote:

“A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.” – Ingrid Bergman

How simple and lovely.  On a chilly Valentine’s day a group of about 10 students took time out of their day to hand out chocolate kisses for  a bit of cheer.  As I walked away feeling the love from the young students – the curtains closed to a standing ovation.valentine cookies

Production day is again rapidly approaching and I have my tickets purchased for the grand event, do you?

From Cantankerous Behavior to Laughter

SAM_2647Friday finally arrived after another busy week at work and I felt that wonderful euphoric relief.  The mood in the office always relaxed, jovial as we all look forward to the weekend break.

However, somewhere in the day, my mood took a dive, perhaps due to fatigue.  Tunnel vision descended, a lighthearted mood spiraled to cantankerous behavior that took comments, and emails out of context, the wrong way, or personal.

The result, at the end of the day I apologized for a mean-spirited email I sent to a boss, and to another coworker for an unnecessary comment specially designed to make him feel bad.   They both graciously accepted as we all realized we have our less than stellar moments.  I berated myself a bit for the level of meanness that I am capable of, and then felt a surge gratitude that I work with good people with large hearts, always willing to talk out issues and find solutions.

Still,  I wanted to immediately leave work and take a reality dive complete with massive amounts of chocolate and blanket over my head.  My escape plan was suddenly interrupted by the loud  buzz of my phone that signaled an incoming text message.  It was an invitation to go to a movie with my dear friend Sharon.

My inside voice immediately responded, “Oh no, I am tired, feeling low and need to go home to engage in a massive self-pity reality dive.”

However, I paused, and instead simply responded, “Yes, thank you.”

From that point, we hashed out the evening plans via text.  First on the agenda was a stop at the famous Whole Foods Market to partake of their diverse food menu and eat on the patio.  Next stop was the Flicks movie theater for see Austenland, a movie I essentially knew nothing about other than it is a romantic comedy centered on  a young woman’s obsession with Jane Austin and Mr. Darcy.

Still feeling a bit surly, edgy, and discontent, I nonetheless enjoyed chatting with Sharon as we watched the theater fill up primarily with women. Chick Flick night!  What a great evening, not only with Sharon but also with a theater full of women (and three guys) that I did not know.  A charming, entertaining, witty movie that we all easily laughed,  chortled, clapped, and completely gave ourselves too for our own gala evening.

At the end a woman behind me cheerfully remarked, “This really is one of the best shared audience movie experiences I have attended in a while.”

We all left the theater smiling.   I felt terrific and slept incredibly well, a tangible testament to the power of laughter, friendship, and sharing a movie night with live people.SAM_2648