Wednesday, December 31, 2014

May Your New Year be Magic.

A friend of mine gave me a gift last week.  She took me to see the fairy houses hidden along the Tranquility Trail in Frick Park Pittsburgh.  There have been been ten reportedly found.  We saw about five.

Five tiny dwellings harbored at the base of trees and cuddled in logs.  Magic!

And unexpected!  I am usually a passionate observer of nature.  I found that while exploring the fairy world I suddenly saw things I had not noticed in ways I had not seen them before.


And imagine!  My imagination has been captured.  Who built these dwellings?  Who lives in them?  So much for a writer to ponder.

The Creative!  I am not only passionate about nature but about found object art.  So I have found a new wonder and new possibilities and inspiration.

Don't be surprised if tiny abodes begin appearing on mesas or canyons near my home in the southwest.  I can imagine that fairies in the desert live in very different tiny homes built out of sun bleached bones and stones and bits of cactus perhaps.

Their stories will be different too.

Look closely for the Fairy dust behind the doors in life.

 Carry it with you.

 And then this surprise from my photography instructor.  A Holiday photo.   Darcy Pino
There is a theme here.  As a writer I am always searching out the themes.

Wishing you magic and creativity, inspiration and surprises this New Year.  Embrace the unexpected and find Joy in the tiny things.

The Snow Fairy

Claude McKay
And don't forget the poetry in life.  Along the same theme I share with you this poem.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas on the Rez: A Holiday Album

Even on the Rez...stockings are hung,

Hoping for a white Christmas,

A bazaar every weekend at churches and schools and community centers,

Cactuses are lit up,

Colored lights shine from out on the mesa

and closer to home.

And my Reena-dear ;-) enjoys a Christmas treat.

Wishing you Joy and Peace for the Holidays.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! A Prayer for the Thanksgiving Goddess

 Writing as therapy

Prayer for the Thanksgiving  Goddess
(Thanksgivings past and present)

I pray the turkey be defrosted but still a tad icy inside. 

Harbor me from an over bearing mother, grandmother or aunt who thinks a turkey not slaughtered on thanksgiving mourning is a waste or scorns a bird that has been frozen.

Please may my husband understand the fowl that has lived in the refrigerator for five days, the one I have fondled and agonized over takes great care as if it were my child. 

It does not stuff and roast itself.

Grant me one friend who understands about Turkey cooking and pop up timers and thermometers that go into the turkey at the temperature it is supposed to come out. The one I can whine to.

May there be no dog hair or any hair in any dish and let all food be hot or at least warm or cold where appropriate.  May the cream not go flat.

Let the guests arrive fashionably late but not too late and never early(unless for support). 

May the turkey be ready according to schedule and please tell me when that should be.

Grant me the wisdom to know when the roasting is done but not overdone.
Oh god of turkeys please do not allow salmonella to enter this home.  And if it does give my guest the grace to not tell me about it.

May the bird be not dry or too moist or…. pink inside.

Please keep the dog out of the kitchen, the cat out of the dining room and above all let it not piss on the table.  Save the snake for desert entertainment.

Grant me the strength to stay from the bottle…at least until an hour before guests arrive.

Let the rolls not be burned and no side dish forgotten alone in the back of the oven, refrigerator or freezer.

Oh please let the gravy be smooth and the potatoes not lumpy.
Let the table be bountifully filled to creaking but let it not break down the middle, flooding gravy and sauces to the floor.

Grant me the wisdom to not over eat because I have tasted and tested every dish to the maximum calorie intake already.
Give me the strength to exercise it off on the morrow.

Give me the wisdom to let go of anxiety and worldly care and be thankful and enjoy this day, this hour, these friends and family far and near. 

Grant me a moment to acknowledge my limits and yet know how lucky I am to have the bounty and ability to prepare this dinner.  Let me be thankful for all life’s harvests including the lessons learned and yet to learn about cooking turkey. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Beach Tail: One Hundred Children's Books to Read in a Lifetime

See this on Amazon:

How will Gregory find his way back to Dad? Swish-swoosh . . . Gregory draws a lion in the sand. ''Don't go in the water, and don't leave Sandy,'' warns Dad. But the sandy lion grows a tail that gets longer and longer and soon Gregory is lost on the beach. This wonderful read-aloud book brings to life a summer experience that is all too familiar for young children. Karen Williams's rhythmic text has been paired with Floyd Cooper's brilliant illustrations, revealing the trip down the beach entirely from a child's point of view. A gentle father-son bond is shown in both text and art, reassuring young readers even as they share in Greg's moment of worry at finding himself lost and alone.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wwoofing: One Way to See the World and Grow

As travelers in Europe, Steve and I have stayed for part of several trips on organic farms.  One of the best parts of the places we stayed was the opportunity to meet the Wwoofers who worked on the farms.

These mostly young people come from all over the world to volunteer, learn about organic farming, learn the language in the country where they work and to travel cheaply.  They find their way to these farms through the World, Wide Organization of Organic Farms (

Choose a country from the website.  These farms are all over the world.  For a small fee you get a list of farms for the country you are interested in.  Then it is up to you to make the contact and determine if the particular farm is right for you, if they have room and work for you at the time you are available.

No worries you don't have to be young to be a Wwoofer either.

The deal is you work for a specified number of hours a day and in return you receive room and board and time off to explore the area you have chosen.  

You also have the opportunity to learn about farming, ways to live that help to preserve the environment.

These farms are small independently owned and they need help with the gardening and other projects such as building and help with livestock, cooking and cleaning, hosting guests.  You do not need experience, only enthusiasm.  Initiative helps too.

Often these farms cannot survive without offering attractions for tourists as well.  Some are bed and breakfasts.  Some offer three meals a day.   Others provide opportunities for yoga or horseback riding or adventure tours.

Wwoofers might be offered the opportunity to participate in these activities on their time off, another perk for the volunteer but it depends on the farm.

The Wwoofers we met came from Denmark, Portugal, France, Canada, the US, Australia, Holland and Germany, just to name a few countries of origin.  Many of them spoke more than one language and were learning another.

There is no contract so if the placement does not work for the Wwoofer, he or she can choose to leave at any time.  Often they find a farm more suitable for them and make their way to that place.

One couple told me that they initially went to work on a horse farm.  It was in a very hot, dry climate.  The owners severely rationed the water for the Wwoofers and the food was scarce.  It was difficult living but they stuck in out, they said, because they felt they had an agreement to stay 6 weeks.  After that they found a nearby farm that needed their help and they were treated as part of the family.

Another young woman told me the work she did was hard, heavy construction and at first while they were building the new farmhouse there was no running water, toilet facilities or electricity.  She and other Wwoofers slept outside.  But after 6 months as she saw the farm and buildings take shape she was proud to be part of the accomplishment.  She felt part of something greater than herself and she had learned a lot about construction and farming as well as living off the grid.

A young man from Denmark has dreams of one day starting his own organic project off the grid.  On the farm where we stayed he had developed a simple method of growing plants in plastic containers with a watering system that took little care.  His excitement for the possibilities of creating ways to live by leaving a small footprint on the environment inspires.

Another young man form Quebec joked about how he and his girlfriend were learning to herd goats on a farm that produced goat cheese to sell in local markets.  He said it took two of them and still they could not keep track of the herd.  Another Wwoofer on the same farm came from a farm in Germany. She could stand in the field all day reading a book and know where all the goats were just by listening to them, move and eat and to the bells.

Whether they are there to work or for an inexpensive way to see the world, to learn a language or a skill to learn about organic farming, experience living off the grid or ways to help create a better world, these young people give me hope for the future.   They have helped give meaning to my own travel adventures.

(Wwoofers from around the world working at two farms about a mile apart, meet on Saturday afternoons for soccer in the horse corral.)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Old Books New News

Look what was spotted as a featured book at the Chapel Hill Library!

A writer loves to see her books on the shelf in a library.

Better yet checked out and in the hands of kids.

And then this note from a teacher.  A writer
also likes to know her works
are bing used creatively
and meaningfully!

Circles of Hope


You might recall that I wrote to you 
last March to let you know 
I was using your book Circles of Hope 
in a UU regional workshop 
on storytelling and social justice.  
By the way, 
the story worked great!

This summer I have started
 a new project
called that reviews
stories that are particularly
well-suited for multigenerational worship.
I have just published
a review of Circles of Hope.
The link is:
I thought you might like to see it. 
I am just starting to get
the word out about the website.
 I think it will be a very
valuable resource for multigenerational
worship leaders who are always
looking for that next great story.
If you would be willing to mention in you blog,
I would be most appreciative. 


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Casa do Burro: Holiday off the grid in Portugal Part 2

 Casa do Burro, named after this guy,  another organic farm get- away is just one kilometer up the mountain from Aqua Ventura(see previous post).
 This welcoming farm owned by a German couple with two small children is just as magical as Aqua Ventura.
Also close to the sea and villages with cafes, Sagres and Lagos, hiking and adventure nearby this unusual get away has it's own kind of whimsy.

The mainstay of the organic farm and guest home is goat cheese made on the property and sold at local markets.

 Besides the goats there are rabbits, guinea pigs, cats and dogs, chickens, a horse and of course the burrow to add to the eclectic ambiance.


On Saturday evenings you might find a pick up soccer(football) game, Wwoofers( more to come in next post), guests, neighbors and anyone else who might be around gather in this unique setting.  You will find yourself in a horse corral playing with young and old from around the world.  The dirtier you get the more fun you had.

 If you believe that  the people you meet are the best part of travel then this opportunity to learn from, play with and enjoy an international community is something to be experienced.

Just witnessing the interest, the spirit and actual practical work on these organic farms off the grid gives one hope for the future of the environment and our children.

See more at:

Friday, August 8, 2014

Holiday off the Grid in Portugal(the Algarve)

Any time the directions to a place reads something like, "as  you enter the village of Pedralva turn left at the house with red shutters, then cross a small bridge, go about a kilometer and you will see a house on the hill on the right.  After that there is nothing,  you have gone too far."…I know I want to go there.

Johnny and Vio of Aqua-Ventura have realized their dream; an organic adventure tourist farm now located in the forest area of the Algarve region of Portugal. Still a work in progress it is a magical place built out of passion, creativity, a love of nature and home grown produce, shear hard labor and an ounce or two of perseverance, grit, ingenuity and faith that it could happen.  Friends and family and Wwoofers( help make it happen too.   Pure Magic!

The main building overlooks the bamboo forest, fruit trees and the suspension bridge that leads over a stream to the organic garden, chicken coop and the well.  It houses the kitchen bright with light and flowers and bowls of fruit where Vio prepares vegetarian and meat dishes that are part of the joy of this farm holiday.  

The deck is covered with bamboo stalks for shade.  If it rains in the evening you will be treated to sparkling water droplets clinging to the stalks in the the morning, a glistening natural decor. 


  There is also a dining room full of whimsy and color as is the living  space perfect for reading or writing or dreaming.  It should be no surprise that there is often music and singing in this gracious home full of life where guests are treated as family.  

But no fear.   If you want to curl up in solitude in the main house spaces or your  own cottage space, walk the grounds or take off for a longer hike up to the lake or across the hills to the beach, no one will disturb you.  This is a great writer's retreat with much to inspire.

Each cottage is colorful and unique.

No surprise to know there is an outdoor oven perfect for pizza and a fire pit for paella and community.  The family dogs enjoy a cookout here too.

There is a well(great for cooling beer when necessary).  Some living quarters include private bathrooms with plumbing and others offer an outdoor shower(lovely to bath under the stars) and outhouses.  Living off the gird means solar electricity for light, refrigeration and other amenities.   And it works!  The best of both worlds with a commitment to saving the environment.

The environs close by provide pristine beaches and hikes for all ability levels.  The towns of Sagres and Lagos are near by.  Lovely sparkling white villages tucked away all along the beaches, trails, paths and back country roads provide natural entertainment and /or a meal of wine and seafood.   Here can be found cafes, restaurants and boutiques where the Euro is strong but the prices are reasonable.

A kilometer walk to the village of Pedralva will offer a pizzeria and a restaurant/ bar where the owners are happy to chat or leave you to use the free Internet.

A short hike to a near by lake is an easy way to an afternoon or early morning swim.  Johnny has dreams of a house boat for more accommodations along with other exciting ways to add charm and the exotic to this get- away spot.

Aqua-Ventura still offers kayaking, rock climbing, hiking and surfing. Some of the best in the world.

 A night on the beach?  You got. it!

Johnny and Vio and family will help coordinate the holiday you are looking for if it is adventure and the opportunity to stretch your ability or something quieter.  Try both.

Check it out on