Chestnuts!

Not too big for squiirrels
Stan brought home a handful of chestnuts after a cruiser bike ride one evening and told me the location of the tree so I could get some more. Since I already had a vintage mason jar full of acorns I thought it would be fun to have a jar full of chestnuts to go with it since I had a larger jar waiting. Stan’s stepdad, Gordon, had given me the jars a few years ago and I love them even when they are empty!Small Mason Jar from Gordon (Giving credit to whom it’s due, I got the idea and the acorns from Pottery Barn – called acorn vase fillers – but didn’t really want to buy more vase fillers, thus my thought to go on a nature walk instead.

I must say, even though it can be therapeutic to shop, free therapy is always better. I had no idea the discovery that was waiting for me that morning. Here’s what I found!Chestnut Tree!It took me awhile to figure out which trees were the chestnuts but Stan said I’d know by the lumpy nuts under the fallen leaves. I didn’t realize the trees were the ones with such magnificent size and glorious fall color. Standing underneath the tree I felt like I was under a giant umbrella giving me a temporary sense of security which was nice. Tree Umbrella
I wondered how long this particular tree had been standing and what year it was planted.Chestnut Leaves
I could’ve stayed all morning but thought I’d better start collecting but not before I took a photo of these twin leaves laying on the ground. Later I learned this shape leaf makes the tree a horsechestnut, a species which originated in Europe. Fan leaves!
Back to my task at hand, as I began to gather, I didn’t notice any squirrels bustling about and wondered if the nuts are too big for them. But not to worry, later in the week I saw a squirrel carrying an apple so I guess a chestnut would be no problem! Anyhoo, I decided to take only what I thought I’d need for the big mason jar and believe me, there was plenty leftover for an entire congregation of squirrels! Most of the nuts were out of their burrs (prickly casing) but a few remained.

Chestnuts!
I took my basket of nuts home feeling a little like a big squirrel myself. The rich deep color of the nuts gave me a visual to the phrase “chestnut colored hair”. Basket of nuts It’s like coffee…Chestnut Coffee and chocolate like PhoebeChocolate Labrador sniffing my new haulPhoebe’s eyes are like Chestnuts too! Little Brown Girl

Here’s my complete collection in Gordon’s fabulous vintage jars. The only thing is, if I keep them as decorations we won’t be able to eat them later. When I looked up how to store chestnuts it is suggested to keep them in the frig. We may want to try to roast them in December – yes over an open fire – hmmm – better look up how to do that.Mason Jars from Gordon

UPDATE: oK, it’s a few months later and I discovered that chestnuts get moldy if you leave them in a jar with no fresh air coming in so best container would be a bowl. I threw them away and put the mason jar in the dishwasher!

Chrysanthemum

I came across this song by Amber Rubarth after hearing her for the first time when she opened for Emmylou Harris in Boise this summer. I fell in love with the honesty in her writing and flair for a pretty melody. Huffington Post hails her as “part of the new old-soul generation”.

Having just read the Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, I looked up the meaning of Chrysanthemum at the back of the book which Vanessa lists as “truth”. Other meanings found online are optimism, joy, cheerfulness, long life, the light of hope in dark times. Chrysanthemums are the November birth flower, the 13th wedding anniversary flower and the official flower of the city of Chicago. In Japan, there’s even a “Festival of Happiness” to celebrate this flower each year.

For this song, though, I like the meaning Truth. Dictionary.com lists truth as “the true or actual state of a matter”. This can easily be found in Amber’s lyric. She sings about planting a flower in a little soil in a pot and her mood lifts to “yellow”. In verse 2 she tells about a boy who struggles with depressesion and what his parents do to help him. Each scenario leads to the chorus:

“And it goes to show that there’s a natural way,
Of healing what we’re feeling inside.
It goes to show that before we prescribe,
We should first try a simple smile.”

What a sweet reminder to embrace the simple ways and allow them to heal us. They can lift us out of the grey even if they don’t make us soar like the wild ride of an addiction can. The question is can we be content with a balloon ride if we are craving the speed of a jet? Either way we face the grave truth about gravity – what goes up must come down. I guess it depends which way you’d rather return to reality. Nothing wrong with excitement – we all need a sudden jolt from time to time – but a life in balance can benefit from all degrees of elevation, not only the instant gratification kind. Healings, even small ones, are gifts to be appreciated that bring us into balance and focus.

Take a minute to listen to Chrysanthemum – I’ve uploaded the record version above and the live version below. Couldn’t decide which one to include so added both since I love the strings accompaniment on the album version but love the inflections of Amber’s voice and the bells Alex plays in the live video.

Have you ever experienced a simple pleasure that turned your day to yellow? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below the live video – I’d love to hear!

Manzanita Wind

Camping in July at Nehalem State Park, Oregon

Manzanita Wind Instrumental played by Andy Stone

Early Morning Beach Walk

Stan and I recently took our yearly jaunt over to the Oregon Coast.  We like to tent camp at Nehalem Bay State Park (which has electricity and showers).  The camp ground is between Nehalem and Manzanita just about 30 minutes from Cannon Beach.  For some reason, lots of Boiseans stay at Lincoln City which has always perplexed us, but we are usually considered a bit odd so there you go. 

Daily quiet time destination

Our activities consist of eating seafood, walking on the beach (which for me includes writing in my journal and mulling over ocean song ideas), reading, sleeping, driving into town, eating salt water taffy and buttery soft carmels, and fresh local blueberries, drinking good coffee and so on.  After a week of this we drive back home wishing we could stay longer but grateful for the respite.

Stan reading in the afternoon

If you’d like to view the rest of the pics they are posted HERE.

Speaking of Ocean songs, I’ve written quite a few over the years – enough for a full record .  You can listen to a 15 year old version of Manzanita Wind HERE.  I do hope to record it again especially now that my voice has dropped in range and mellowed in tone.  My England friend Andy has been working on an instrumental version of the song you can listen to HERE if you missed the link at the top of this post. 

A Simple Life

Little Garden Sun

I just wrote a song called A Simple Life. I’ve seen the title before and wasn’t planning on writing my own version since I’d already written Simple Things that sort of says the same thing but from another era. This time, though, it was born out of a cathartic necessity to declare once and for all that this is the kind of life I want. I don’t want to be consumed with someone else’s intense agenda that’s motivated by (only God knows) what? Even if that person’s doing a good thing and it’s the current trend to jump on board that dream ship.

Blue Daisies

But how intense should I let my own agenda become? That is the question. If I put my hand to the plow and try to implement everything I’m reading in order to get my music ‘out there’ — there wouldn’t be a simple anything. Instead, if I do what I can at a healthy and normal pace, excellerating here and there when the energy arises, wouldn’t that, at least, assure a bit of joy in the journey as the saying goes. I hope my instincts are right on this one because I am more inclined to keep a balanced life, incorporating new strategies that work for me, rather than to feed the driven frenzy that I could jump into at anytime.

A Simple Life isn’t about not working. It’s about giving yourself a gift of compassion by allowing time for yourself to work toward your own goals. It’s about not giving into the pressure to look like a good person by always working for someone else’s idea of what’s right. Why get caught up in someone else’s dream unless it’s your dream too? I know that goes against the grain of political correctness and the typical Christian Culture way of thinking because it sounds self centered if not a bit narcistic. To the contrary, honing A Simple Life isn’t about not giving back. It’s about giving your time where your heart nudges you but with boundaries. It’s about showing kindness to yourself and working a little (or alot) everyday toward your goals and then giving back when the opportunity arises but only if your heart is inclined to participate.

Check out Stan working on the worthy goal of our own dream – painting the house by July 4th! Most of the battle is in the preparation: scraping off the old paint, puttying and caulking, then spraying on a primer coat. But even with all the hard work, he’s happy to be working on something that’s ours!  You can view all the pics I’ll be posting if you click HERE!

Stan painting our house!Lots of preparation first though...working toward a worthy goal

Overall view of front and sidePainted front and porch - now we just need the shutters and new porch railings