~ from cats, dogs and nature to the flowering of body, mind and spirit ~

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Best birthday dinner EVER! 

Everyone in my family knows that one of the best gifts they can give me is a yummy meal, and Ron took me out to dinner yesterday for a belated birthday bonanza of food. I had heard about the restaurant called Feast from a man who works at Whole Foods, so it was my first choice. Sure enough…I was in heavenly bliss for the entire meal. My photos aren't the greatest, but you get the idea… :-)

For appetizer, we chose the:
Eggplant Napoleon~ Crisp eggplant chips layered with herbed goat cheese. Served with chunky roasted tomato beurre blanc.

For my dinner, I chose:
Roasted Beet Cake ~ savory cake of roasted beets, caramelized onions and garlic, served over sautéed spinach with braised fennel, red wine syrup and goat cheese lumpia.

Ron chose:
Pan-Roasted Chicken Breast with dukkah marshmallow, sautéed haricots verts and tahini chicken reduction.

We shared an order of:
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with fresh corn, sautéed kale and poblano chili cream sauce.

Our desserts were (shared, though Ron let the Birthday Girl have nearly all the exquisite, melt-in-your-mouth Exploradora):
Lemon-Date Verrine~ Lemon-tequila curd and date cream, layered in a glass with toasted almonds. 
Exploradora~ Girl Scout Cookie Shortbread Crust with cayenne caramel custard, salted chocolate ganache and smoked paprika. Candied hazelnut garnish.

I salivate recalling every scrumptious bite! Plus, as an added bonus, the atmosphere was quite, relaxing, and the chef came around greeting customers about the time our dessert was served. Even Ron (who prefers very basic meals without much spice or sauce) said it was an excellent meal!

Overall, a fabulous, decadent experience, and the quality of the food has moved Feast to the very top of my favorite meals list.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Childhood Friends

My favorite thing about Facebook (which I keep threatening to delete! LOL) is the ability to find friends from long ago. This weekend, I found a childhood friend--she had been my BFF throughout grade school--who I lost touch with when my parents moved us out of state halfway through seventh grade. Her name popped into my head, I searched, and…there she was! Imagine my delight! We've now emailed, even talked on the phone, and the next time I drive up to see my mom I will stop and see said friend (she's blessedly right on the way). I wouldn't have recognized her, of course, if I'd bumped right into her because this is how I remember her:
Do you have long-lost friends you'd love to find?

Friday, April 18, 2014


In my English class, we were told about this neat little program called WORDLE. Check it out! All you do is put in your bit of writing, and it creates a Word Cloud. Not only is it cool to look at but will also easily tell you the ideograph of your piece…and help point out if you've overused a word. Enjoy!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Cracking Open Structure

Recently, while listening to a Natalie Goldberg audio, I was reminded of how important it can be sometimes to "crack open structure" in our writing. Because I do most of my writing in cursive before transferring it to the computer, here are some examples--from doodling to writing outside the lines of the page--of how I follow her advice.

How do you break away from the limitations of structure during creative writing?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Coming Up

Tucson is warming up rapidly and, as we head into summer, I just have to say that I am ecstatic to be nearly finished with this semester at UA. Okay, sure, it was only two classes but they've been intense for me. I'd been semi-retired and mostly on my own schedule for about eight years prior to attending college, so trying to organize my life around classes and homework has been challenging. And exhausting. So, yup … ecstatic is the right word!

What's coming up? First, I plan on reconnecting with some of my favorite bloggers, email-pals, and family. I'll be getting back to my WIPs, and I also have a few additional self-created projects I'm looking forward to.

One of the projects is that I'm immersing myself for the next year (or however long it takes) in the complete works of Marion Woodman and Emily Dickinson to see what emerges. Some of the writings from this immersion will be here, but some of the more contemplative pieces will appear on my On The Gaia Path blog.

The other project is a home project. As I continue to struggle with living in the Sonoran Desert, especially during the summer, I've decided to create a haven in one room that will evoke the opposite qualities. As a contrast to the dry, hot, sparse, and muted colors of the Southwest, I'm going to buy a table-top fountain or two and use deep tones of blue, green, and purple. I'm also going to get lots of silk plants (I cannot get real ones until one of my plant-fanatic cats is gone which may be a few more years yet!) for visual effect. Our house is, otherwise, decorated in a style that "fits" the Southwest, but I need one room to hide in that is the opposite. I need it to feel lush, soft, and dark. I'm sure you get the basic idea and I think it will be fun and different.

Down the line, there will probably be some road-trips as well, but not until I've recovered my energy!

So, see you soon as my time frees up to visit your blogs.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Saving the Imagination

Following is an essay I wrote for one of my English assignments at the University of Arizona. Each student was to select an advertisement from a collection provided and write a visual analysis. I hope you enjoy it!

Saving the Imagination

Myriad details contribute to the scene’s authenticity as well as to its mystery, and work to lure viewers into solving the contradictions. We note the specificity of WWII uniforms and the armed soldier’s helmet displaying a white poker spade, which is the insignia of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment. This insignia was prominent in the popular WWII video game “Call of Duty.” Someone who plays these types of games is instantly attracted to the familiarity. The uniform of the young man, however, is distinctly dissimilar from that of the soldiers. With its broad lapels and cuffs trimmed in gold piping, along with its formal cumberbund, the ensemble lends a dashing ambience to the otherwise dreary scene, and points to how the boy has been dropped into this time and place from somewhere else. Thus, a gamer’s initial familiarity is skewed and intrigue is added to the mix. We are also intrigued by the disparity between WWII soldiers with guns and a youth whose golden rapier has fallen from his open hand. The juxtapositions of attire and weapons illustrate that the distinctive young man doesn’t belong in the soldiers’ regiment. The advertisement is holding our attention.
Our curiosity is further incited by how the lighting ebbs and flows through the image; the diffuse background, the out-of-focus foreground of the window frames, and the shadowy browns and grays all contribute to a spotlight effect that illuminates the youth’s curly hair with golden highlights. His cream shirt, light tan pants, and leathery lapels all reflect light — his body almost seems to glow, though his face remains in shadow. The artistic projection of the young man is toward innocence, gallantry, or the numinous, none of which fit the grimness of war.
The preceding visual cues keep directing our attention to the mystery of the young man in the WWII combat scene. The image is enticing us into its story through contrast, detail, and lighting, taking every opportunity to communicate by piquing our curiosity. We can’t help but try to imagine what the story might be.
Beyond pure entertainment, though, is the realm of the inner world as well as its creator, and their combined benefits to our society. Within the text on the dog tag, we find the identity of the author, Antoine de Saint-Exupery. This is another connective layer that lies within the mystery of this advertisement because the author was a reconnaissance pilot during WWII. In fact, not long after writing the book about the young man in this scene—The Little Prince— Saint-Exupery disappeared; he was rumored to have been shot down during what was to have been one of his last missions (Antoine, Wikipedia). If people stop reading his books, then Saint-Exupery will also be “finish[ed] off” (Nudd). Writers create stories to share what is important to them, to provide a bit of insight into their own personality and a perspective of the world in which we live. We miss out on getting to know human nature, and the treasure of individual experiences and views, when we spend all of our time immersed in action games. For instance, Saint-Exupery was seventeen when he sat beside the bed of his dying brother. Further, in 1935, the author crashed his plane in the Sahara desert and nearly died of dehydration before being rescued (Antoine, Wikipedia). There is little doubt that these experiences informed his creation of the character and story of The Little Prince. Every time we read a book, we “save” the author by honoring not only what they’ve written but also their personal life. A book provides many gifts to us and one of those is the ability to see through someone else’s eyes, to appreciate a different point of view, which tends to enhance communication.

“Antoine de Saint-Exupery.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 20 Oct. 2013. Web. 21 Oct. 2013 < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoine_de_Saint-Exupéry >
Nudd, Tim. “The World's Best Print Ads, 2012-13: See the top 59 winners from the Press Lions at Cannes.” ADWEEK. Guggenheim Digital Media, 26 Jun. 2013. Web. 21 Oct. 2013. < http://www.adweek.com/news-gallery/advertising-branding/worlds-best-print-ads-2012-13-150758#gold-lion-madrid-book-publishers-association-29 >
Saint-Exupery, Antoine de. The Little Prince. Trans. Katherine Woods. Reynal & Hitchcock, 1943. Print. EPUB.
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