Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Once a Year Yuletide Yodel 2012

Christmas Coffee
"Christmas~that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance~a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved." ~Augusta E. Roundel~

As I sit at my perch near the seedy cafe watching the baby squirrels and birds as they gather seeds during this first rain of Autumn, this pre course to winter, I wonder what THEY will be wishing for this Christmas.  Perhaps it will be very similar to what is on everyones wish list...
Our Noble Fir
Plenty to eat
A warm place to sleep
To spend the day flying or scurrying about
To not be squished by a car, or eaten by a bird of prey...
You know, just the basics to participate in yet another day.
And sometimes they get lucky and have a bit of help doing what they need to do to get through the winter. Like kind folks who put out birdhouses or maintain feeders and fresh water.
I started this newsletter (back in early Fall) and before the horrible tragedy at the elementary school in Connecticut.
If anything the point that I was illustrating is that we DO need each other. Reaching out and doing what we can to help one another.  It is something we are reminded of during the Christmas season, and especially when tragedy strikes we are reminded of it even more so. Loving and caring for each other, in my humble opinion, is what is needed if we are going to gain any sort of understanding of our journeys.
That being said, here is quick "year end wrap up".
The Mikolajczaks, (Ronnah, Mark, Shiloh 12, Isabelle 9 and Cameron 2.5) are living in Forest Ranch, California.  (it's very near Chico, just a tad more rural)  They have chickens and lots of breathing room!  The Podd's, (Kyle, Jessi and Carter 3.5) are here in Portland, keeping busy with work AND Carter! Nate and I are still living here in Lake Oswego, however starting to feel restless with being in the same place for so long...
PPP Postcard!
We have three apps in the Apple Store, the latest one is a fun way to share photos, (it's called Picture Perfect Postcards if you want to check it out!)
May the season bless you and yours, bringing you peace and abundance in the days to follow.

With Metta,
Laura, Nate, Kona and Zoey the kat

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A few thoughts on lights, tinsel, and holly-day music...

I hope they all work!!!
I admit it.
If there was a "Christmasaholalics" (am TOTALLY sure that is not a word) I should be one of the first to attend.  Heck, I most likely could write what it takes to become a member of "Christmasaholalics"!
And I would attend each and every meeting as long as they played holly-day music and handed out candy canes.
Noooooo!! That would NOT/could NOT be permitted would it?  See what I mean? I am beyond help! I guess you could just ship me, with no return address up to the North Pole....

So let's talk about this season and myself.  It is a conflicting one (in my head) to be sure, because (in my head) even though I surround/allow myself to en-JOY all the things that ARE Christmas I also battle some severe depression throughout this jolly holly holiday.  If you have ever seen the movie "Prancer" I AM that little girl who BELIEVES that Prancer is REAL, and that plays her Christmas record up in her room all by herself, (starting in October) and sings "loud and clear for all to hear" carols (with much feeling and very off key).
That is/was me.
I have also taken down (ripped is more like it) paper-chains and snowflakes that took me HOURS AND HOURS to put up...right before Santa's visit.
That is also me.  Go figure.
I bake, (dee-licious baking if I say so myself), make homemade fudge (with a recipe "borrowed" from See's Candies), and then feel guilty about the sugar, the costs, the calories, etc etc.  It's a no win situation (in my head) and each year I attempt to roll through this season of joy (which I truly do love or at least I think I do) without any snowflake meltdowns.
I did not get the love of the music or season from my parents.  And to this day I am not sure why it evokes such strong feelings (good and bad) within my soul.  I guess it is a divine gift (or curse) and most likely if you ask the people who have been around me over the holidays they will call it more of a curse.  Like everything else in my life I tend to "notch it up to eleven" on a one to ten scale.  You might be thinking oh she couldn't be that that I might reply to ask (especially my eldest daughter) what her thoughts are of a mom who organized a Christmas Kazooing Band to march around town, wearing matching sweatshirts that said "Magical Music~Kazoo Music" inviting patrons of a local pub to join in with the singing and kazooing. She was I think twelve going on thirteen...
Oh, and I was wearing my way cool Santa with his reindeer riding on motorcycles boxer shorts to complete my "look".
I scarred her for life.
She won't even play Christmas music.
I am somewhat like Charlie Brown who states: "Actually, Lucy, my trouble is Christmas. I just don't understand it. Instead of feeling happy, I feel sort of let down."
So year after year I research into the whys and wherefores of the season, in an attempt to get a grasp as to why we all do what we do during this season.
Like decorating trees.
Or hanging misteltoe.
Or outside lights.
Or Christmas stockings.
Or what about garland?....
the LIST is endless, AND very deep rooted from what I have read being much deeper than just what we may have experienced (or not) during our childhood.
In the midst of all of this pondering, I DO.  Because when I DON'T it feels much worse than if I DIDN'T.
It's time to string some popcorn and cranberries.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Picture Perfect Postcards!!

We've "hatched" another app!  Picture Perfect Postcards made its debut in the Apple App Store on Saturday November 24th!   This one promises to be FUN, CREATIVE and USEFUL when sharing your favorite pictures and special salutations! And it's only $0.99!  You can send your personalized picture greetings to Facebook, Twitter, Flicker or an Email account.
But Wait!! There's more!
What's even cooler about the app is that it has the ability to send a "hold in the recipients hand" copy of your postcard!  That's right you can actually choose one of the options that allow you to MAIL (the old fashioned way) your postcard!  It's an additional cost of $1.99 (domestic) or $2.99 (international) fee per card.
Nate designed the app to be easy-beezy to use as I personally am not too savvy at figuring out computer doodlidoos and prefer to just select and send! 
Here is the link to the app:

THANK YOU for your support!!
*my apologies for sounding like an inter-com ad in a store!  :)
However we are sort of excited about our newest "baby"!
 (plus Nate promised to work on doing an animated picture book of William G. Quail after this app was completed!!)

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Halloween and all that Jazz.....

See what I mean?

I'm not sure where I am going with this blog entry. Since we just wrapped up Halloween 2012 it seems to be a logical subject to Muse about.
I am fascinated with holidays and the sometimes way cool, often times very commercialized American ways that they are interpreted. I usually check out Wikipedia to get an overview of a holiday:
and then proceed on to embrace the craziness that envelops it.

For example, my girlfriend Sally felt like be-heading herself after deciding to tackle hand made costumes for her lovely family centering around the character of Alice in Wonderland.  (she was the Queen of Hearts)
Good times... NOT.
Cool Cats

This year in keeping with the festivities, but not wanting to go crazy with too much work or expense, but also wanting to be way cool, I talked my partner in crime Nate to go Bohemian and be a Beatnik with me!  Now this required a tad bit of research on my part, which luckily is easily accomplished when one Google searches.
Check out this old Bullwinkle (from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Cartoon Show) as he shares his expertise on what it takes to be a Beatnik.
Lucky for us we had most of what it takes to be a Beatnik down to a science with our Portland, Oregon lifestyle.
Especially the hanging out in coffee shops.
I even purchased a Bongo Drum to recite poetry to a rhythmic bongo beat.  Good thing us cool cats don't care if our audience likes our presentation (or even if we have an audience)!  The Bongo is now upstairs in the music maker box, waiting for one of the grand-munchkins to beat on it to their little Beatnik hearts content.
I hope everyone en-JOY-ed a safe Halloween.  Our evening stayed dry (for the most part) for the neighborhood little trick or treaters and it added to my most thankful heart that the NW has been blessed so far with mild weather.

 **In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and with the upcoming colder/wetter/wilder weather, I urge all to share their blessings in any way they are able to with whomever you can.  Sharing your candlebright blessings (whatever they may be) is a sure way to light up someone else's life.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Magical Manzanita Moments


 Finally!  Friday had arrived which is the gateway day to...THE WEEKEND!  I had dreamed about a trip to the coast to be spent with Nate and SANS furry family for quite some time.  I think I heard from someone somewhere that all great writers get inspiration from the dynamics of being in close proximity to the ocean? Okay, so maybe I am not a great writer, however I was willing to be close enough to the surf and sand to test out that theory even if it was just a myth.

Manzanita, Oregon  is a no traffic lights at all small, coast town.  It has one or two espresso places so that made it big enough for my tastes.
We booked two nights at the Inn at Manzanita with one of the nights thoughtfully given as a combo birthday/mothers day/thanks for b-sitting gift.
Our room was called the Starseeker and had the coolest little unicorn door knocker on it.  It also had all sorts of treasures in the room for aficionados, such as ourselves, of the Heavens, including a way cool sky-night-view-light above the sleeping alcove.
We arrived around 4:30 p.m. with just enough time to unload our, for lack of a better word, "stuff" and then head down to the beach to say "Hello".
Good Night!
When I lived in Seaside, Oregon several years back, I was lucky enough to be able to live a lifestyle that allowed me to stop whatever I was doing each evening to find my way down to the beach to say "Good Night" and rate the sunset.  (they were all on a scale of 1-10 at least 8's in my book!)
Naturally it seemed logical to say a proper Hello and then Good Night to the ocean before setting out to find a (hopefully Paleo diet friendly) place to eat.

One of our stops on our way out of town and towards our beach location was to the library to pick up a book I had been waiting for that was on hold.  It was the sixth (and final) of a YA series (the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel) by Michael Scott titled The Enchantress. Between beach combing, eating, meeting up with good friends and having coffee PLUS reading, my weekend could not of been any better!
Wanda's Cafe (and YES that IS a magical lamp!)
There really is alot to be said to having a mini escape.  And it doesn't even have to be a whole weekend at the beach.  Finding an inviting spot in your own community or home to enjoy a latte,  watch a sunset or witness squirrels as they gather nesting material (and peanuts) for winter can be enough to turn around a mood.  It all boils down to being able to focus on the moment and treasure it instead of allowing your thoughts to go backward or forward.

I feel much gratitude to have just spent a whole weekend overflowing with magical moments.

Monday, October 15, 2012

IT Has Arrived.

IT being the first rain of the Autumn season!  This simple act of nature marks the official reminder that it will not be too long before I will actually miss my daily battles with the hose.
So, today I am re-joicing!  Welcoming the changing of the season with an open heart and thoughts of all the time I will spend INSIDE next to this keyboard looking OUT at the Seedy Cafe instead of actually mucking around with the weeding, the mowing, and all that STUFF.
Hey, I just had to water the day before yesterday so this is a whole new ballgame.  Receiving a little bit of help with the chores from Mother Nature rocks in my book.  Especially since it just happens. I have to be one of the worlds worst "ask for any kind of help" type of person.  
Ask me how I will feel about the rain in ten days, (it's looking like daily precipitation for at least that), or after I have wiped the muddy paw prints off of the floor from Kona our dog for the kazillioned time or worse, not catching her early enough thusly allowing her to shake the mud-rain all over the white kitchen cabinets.

Today is Today and I REFUSE to go there in thought.  I am choosing instead to celebrate the changing of the season and all that that means!
Like...hanging up ghosts on my front door.
Or visiting a pumpkin patch.
Sipping hot spiced apple cider (with whip cream on top)
Watching leaves as they scuttle across the road riding a wild burst of wind.
Enjoying the Spiced Chestnut scent of a candle burning.
Adopting a non-procrastinating approach to my writing.

My excuses for being "too busy" run mighty thin as the changing of the seasons requires less presence from me outside.  There is only so many chores a person can come up with when the trees and the plants all go into hibernation mode.   
I also have that "how do I want to wind up the year" mentality running through my brain.
So, today I am re-joicing!
I will gratefully approach this season of Thanks-Giving by lighting my delightfully scented candles, turning on the furnace if need be and allowing myself the time to creatively dance with the written word.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

SIX Months

So. I finally started poking around my blog site to check things out...and the realization that it had been SIX MONTHS since I had posted anything took be quite aback.  Oops~hang on~I need to verify if aback is actually a real word and not just a "Laura word". 
It is! (by the way I just LOVE my Chambers Dictionary...The Authority on English Today).  
aback /adv backwards: said of sails pressed backward against a mast by the wind (naut) OR taken aback is to be "taken by surprise"  (that would be me)
So what I have I been up to these past few? months....mmmm
I have managed to get a job/lose that job/get another job/and start back up with a seasonal job. 
Oh and add in some serious depression on top of all that. 
It is getting better though.  I am actually sitting at a keyboard and attempting to assemble my rambling thoughts into coherent sentences!  AND I have dug out my rough draft of Meet the Mirlitons (my Middle Grade Chapter Book) and plan on re-writing it chapter by chapter.
I have TWO ready to submit picture books that are not going anywhere unless I start the querying process again.  PLUS numerous way cool/way fun picture book ideas that I had started way back when...
I also have another blog, that has only gotten as far as a title that I would love to get started on.
It is not lack of ideas, or how to go about doing them that stops me in my tracks.
It's just me.
All by myself.  With so much negative chatter going on in my head, creativeness just doesn't stand much of a chance to bloom.
Chores.  Now THOSE I can do.  Or favors for others.  But writing..well that's another story.  :)
Putting myself and what is important to me is usually the last thing (if ever) that receives my attention.
So here I go.  I truly do not want this year to end with no work submitted and The Mirlitons being totally ignored. 
FOUR MONTHS is what I have left of 2012.
I guess I better get busy.  :)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Nourishing Neighbors

 NN table at the Hillsdale Farmers Market

Nourishing Neighbors.
That's what we call ourselves.
logo (that Nate designed!)
It's actually quite remarkable when I reflect back that our small (yet very dedicated) group has been together THREE YEARS helping out a local Emergency Food Box Program!  We started out participating in a food canvass for the EFBP to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Day.
That was back in January 2009.      
Since that time, our little (there are only five of us!) group has maintained a year round presence at a local Farmers Market collecting monetary as well as food donations. Every $1 collected purchases FIVE pounds of food for the EFBP at the Neighborhood House.
After that first food canvas it was difficult to see the need and not continue to help in some fashion.  When we were offered table space at the market, we knew what we wanted to do.  Since that time we have put together several other canvasses, and maintain a collection barrel at a Food Cooperative Grocery Store, however I think it's our consistent presence at the market that renders the most success.
Last year we collected almost $3000! That's 15 thousand pounds of food!
In the year 2006-07 the Neighborhood House distributed 3008 Emergency Food Boxes.  That number soared to 8112 for the year 2010-11.
More than double.     
Times may be difficult for many of us however I have to admit that it does my heart good to be able to make an impact with fighting hunger within our own neighborhood.  Sharing literature and keeping the donation jar readily available seems (and is) an eazy-beezy way to make a difference.
Neighbors helping Neighbors.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Goose-Boss

The Goose-Boss
That's right, he (or possibly it's a she?) is the "boss" of the little pond that is adjacent to a Starbucks near my home.
I do not know why I assume he is a he, it's just that he "acts" like a he.  I guess that sounds sexist, so I best explain how I came up when the assumption of the goose's gender.
This pond has several different species of ducks and Starbucks has thoughtfully provided a table to sit and sip in this natural sanctuary.  Of course when you decide to visit the pond the ducks all assume that you will be providing some sort of treat for them to consume.  That might be what your intention is, however, BEFORE any of the ducks are allowed to approach you, The Goose-Boss must check you out first.
This can be a bit disquieting.  Which is just the way The Goose-Boss wants you to be.
He has teeth you know.  And he can run and chase you.
The Goose-Boss just wants to make sure that you only have honorable intentions towards his "flock".  I am not sure what he calls them (the ducks that live there) since he is the only goose at the pond.
Why is it, that I assume that it has to be a male that is so protective of all the waterfowl at the pond?  Females are known for being protective, however, usually that protective instinct is reserved for their own offspring.
This goose acts like he OWNS the pond (and it's inhabitants) and has rightfully taken his somewhat aggressive place of leadership and control.
No duck will be fed unless you have been pre-approved by the Goose-Boss.  He takes his job seriously and is quite good at it really.
Isn't it grand that he has figured out what he needs to be doing in life and is doing it with such honking gusto!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Vision Board

I did it.
I finally made a Vision Board.  
It actually took me several days to select the images from all the magazines I had gathered together.  Sometimes...and it's been more often than not lately, my thoughts and what is appealing to me is not what I would like to look at each day.  The "visions" that creep into my head with the persistence of weeds that are determined to over-run even the most beautiful garden are not the pictures that dreamers have.  They are images of:
So I waited until the dark thoughts passed, and they usually do, and created a board that hopefully will help to make this year one that I can reflect back on with smiles instead of remorse for days gone by wasted in a dark abyss.
Depression is one of those things that most people would rather not talk about.  You can "see" it in a person's eyes if you take the time to ask them how they are doing. When asked how they are most will generally answer "great" or "couldn't be better" but if you look into their eyes and get a glimpse of their soul you can "see" their pain, if it is there. 
Sometimes all it takes to help a person to begin to move out of that pain zone is just a look that lets them know that you understand and if you do happen to encounter someone whose candle is barely flickering...then use your candle to help theirs to burn brighter.
Who knows, there may come a time when a wind might be threatening your light and the person whose candle you re-lit will be able to return the favor in kind.

Here's to a 2012 that is full of light, love and endless possibilities!

Vision Board 2012