Saturday, June 30, 2007


After making my donation, I was at the grocery store picking up cash for my lunch date with Cam when I saw Barack's face on the cover of Vanity Fair.


I picked it up and learned that Bono was the guest editor of the current issue. It focuses on Africa.

Bono said the main reason for the issue is, "We needed help in describing the continent of Africa as an opportunity, as an adventure, not a burden. Our habit - and we have to kick it - is to reduce this mesmerizing, entrepreneurial, dynamic continent of 53 diverse countries to a hopeless death bed of war, disease and corruption."

"What is needed is a leg up, not a handout. The issues are about justice, not charity."

We hear a lot about his activism lately but today, I read about how Bono and his wife spent six weeks working at an orphanage in Ethopia back in the '80s. I'm enjoying reading and learning more about what I can do to make a difference in Africa.

Again, I'm INSPI(RED).

I was happy to see Natalie Maines, of the Dixie Chicks, (with her sons Beckett, 3 and Blade, 6) in a Gap ad on the inside front cover spread of the VF Africa issue.

I've been intrigued by the Product (RED) campaign since Cam told me about its launch almost a year ago but since I hadn't actually purchased a (RED) product yet, I thought I'd wait to write about it.

The facing page reads, Every Generation has a VOICE.

The sixth page of the spread encourages up to Inspire the next generation to CHANGE THE WORLD.

One small thing I'm considering doing is buying a t-shirt. The (RED) campaign asks, "Can a t-shirt really save the world?" And answers, "This one can."

Today I joined (RED) and learned that we can also help by buying an i-Pod, a Motorola cell phone or designing a pair of Converse Shoes.

Maybe now's the time. Let's be EMPOWE(RED).

Friday, June 29, 2007

What inspires you?

A couple of days ago, I made a small donation to Barack Obama's presidential campaign. (photo credit) They sent me an inspiring email with a testimonial from a woman who donated $10.
They said that while money was important, what they care about was that supporters give what we can afford to give and submit personal stories about why we gave, to inspire others. (photo credit)

I figured if they genuinely appreciated her $10, I could afford to donate what I make in one hour. See below for what I wrote about why I was inspired to donate and visit his site to read notes from other donors this week.

After 10 years of working in advertising, I left that field in search of more meaningful work. For the past two years, I have worked in the public school system while pursuing a master's degree in counseling/social work. I read Barack's first book and admire the work he did to enact change in Chicago. (photo credit)

I am a pacifist and believe that fighting doesn't solve anything. When I read that we are spending $11 million dollars per hour on war and that people are dying every day, I think it is such a waste. Imagine if that money and those lives could have been invested in positive change.

It is time for change. I was inspired by Joann's story. Like her, I don't feel like I have much to give or that the little bit I can spare would mean much. But I do believe that if everyone who wants change gave to this campaign, together we could make a difference. (photo credit)

As a substitute teacher, I earn just $14 an hour (before taxes). Today, I can give that much. Thanks for inspiring me and for doing good things.

Click here if you are inspired to support Barack's campaign to reclaim the American dream.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Time with Melissa (Finally)

My friend, Melissa was in the Bay Area a couple of weeks ago for a wedding over Father's Day weekend. After helping her friends celebrate, she came to visit us for a few days. We were thrilled to have her here. (You may remember I planned to visit her a couple of other times this year w/o success.)

When she arrived, she mentioned how beautiful the trees are here. So, I decided to take her to one of my favorite places, Muir Woods. We went late in the day on a weekday so it wasn't too crowded. We did a quick loop along the main floor then back along the hillside trail.
Before going to the woods, we had made lunch at home and enjoyed a breezy picnic. That evening, we stopped off at our favorite fruit stand then went to Joe's for dinner.

I'd told Melissa about the movie, Once and how much both Cam and I enjoyed it. Cam offered to stay home with Sam, that evening, so we could go see it. On our way there, he suggested we stop off at Sweet Water.

It happened to be West Coast Musicians Night. Melissa ended up sharing a set with a local musician and we stayed to watch some other performers. After 10 years of making music, she is interested in learning, growing and exploring other areas but I was happy to hear her play.

The playing continued the next day. Sam's friend, Cameron came over. At one point, we took the boys to their school playground. We played a bit of hide & seek tag and a game of HORSE. The boys beat both of us.

Two mornings of waking up with a good friend, sitting around in our pjs, talking about life over a cup of tea was a wonderful treat.

It is good to have friends who understand you and not just accept but embrace you, celebrate you for being yourself. Melissa, thank you for being such a friend.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Two Years Ago

I sent the following message via email:

Mary and Cameron eloped.

Sam was our ring bearer, photo-
grapher and witness. A magistrate performed a simple but beautiful ceremony for us under two flowering trees in Leland, Michigan.
After the ceremony, we drove across the 49th Parallel on our way to the campground at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

We spent the week on a family honeymoon, hiking, camping and exploring this breathtaking area.

That afternoon, we climbed the strenuous 3.5 mile Dune Climb up and down many, many steep sand dunes.

Finally, we reached Lake Michigan where we took a refreshing swim in the clear, cool, blue water.
The next day, we took a ferry ride to South Manitou Island. There, we hiked to the Valley of the Giants and walked among hundred year old cedars. We hiked past a shipwreck and a lighthouse.

Another day, we swam at North Bar Lake, a warmer inland lake. The last day, we rode horses. We had campfires every night and watched the sunset and stars and slept under the full moon.

We met a raccoon, several deer, two garter snakes and a mother loon with at least a dozen babies.

Early in the week, we met a photo-
at the top of the dunes and took pictures so we could share our event with you.

Thank you for sharing this celebration of love with us.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Celebrating Dads

Today is the day we take time out to recognize fathers. I want to recognize mine.

Thanks, Dad for always being there. The look of love was evident on your face when I was a child and remains there today.

I appreciate who you are and who you have helped me to be.

Thank you for making sure I always knew I was loved.

You are loved.

Happy Father's Day.

Appreciating Cam

Sam's dad and I separated when he was just 14 months old. He and I were on our own for over five years.

Then, along came Cam.

The first time Cam came to our house to meet Sam, Cam was early and I was running late. Actually, I was still in the shower. Cam rang our building's buzzer. Sam ran downstairs to let him in, locking both of them out in the process.

I could hear Sam talking and having fun while I was getting ready. I was thankful Cam hadn't arrived yet and I had a few extra minutes to finish getting ready. Then, I came out of the bathroom and realized that Sam hadn't been talking to himself but that he and Cam had been calmly sitting on the steps in the hallway outside our locked apartment, happily exchanging stories and swapping jokes, while I'd been blow drying my hair.

We all felt so familiar and at home together right away.

Cam was a good sport about it and things have progressed wonderfully ever since.

Cam has a way of continually bringing happiness and joy into both of our lives.

We love spending time together and making memories.

On yesterday's hike, I was thinking about how grateful I am that Cam and Sam have a relationship all their own.

Cam, thank you for loving, sharing, giving, caring, teaching and being everything a dad should be.

Happy Father's Day.

We love you.

Monday, June 11, 2007

"Raise your hopeful voice..."

On Cam's blog, he mentioned the movie we saw together Friday night. We both enjoyed Once so much, I want to mention it on my blog, as well.

This movie isn't political like The Girl in the Cafe. Once was just lovely.

It was touching, moving and inspiring.

My favorite line from my favorite song from the movie is, "Raise your hopeful voice. You have a choice." The song was in my head all day, Saturday. Cam ordered the soundtrack. So, soon we can listen to it whenever we want.

The movie made me want to find a way to be involved in singing and playing music again (not that I ever played or wrote original music like the artists in the film) but I did play music and have always loved to sing.

I want to thank my parents for giving me piano lessons from age 6 to 17.

Even though I remember actually rolling around on the floor with my mom because I didn't want to practice one time, those piano lessons were the basis for my love of music.

Because of my enjoyment and my parent's continued support, I went on to play percussion in the school band, starting in 5th grade.

Many of my favorite memories and best friends were made in band. I have stories that start, "And one time, at band camp."

I always sang in the school choir, sometimes in the church choir. Singing hymns was one of my favorite things about church. But, I was never chosen for the select choir. While I performed piano solos several times each year, the couple of times I tried to sing solos, I was so nervous that I forgot some of the words in the middle of the song.

Last year, in Chicago, I was thrilled to be paid to teach a beginning keyboarding class to kids from Sam's school during their after school program.

One time, this year, I worked as a substitute for the music teacher at the local elementary school with k-2nd grade. I played piano from a book the teacher had written while the kids sang along. Good behavior earned them time playing percussion instruments. It was a blast.

Sam has a musical ear and a lovely voice. (His favorite song this week is Gnarls Barkley's Crazy.) Sam's recently decided he is interested in joining the school band next year. He thinks he would like to try trumpet.

He was proud earlier this year when the music teacher told him he was making the buzzing sound with his lips correctly. I don't know anything about playing brass instruments but love listening to them and would be thrilled to learn along with Sam.

At Iowa State, I did participate in the concert choir one semester but since I didn't intend to play music professionally, I didn't think it made sense to pay tuition for music classes.

In hindsight, I wish I had taken them anyway.

One of my favorite things about ISU is the campanile.

I loved listening to it while walking across campus.

In school, I could have taken a class and learned how to play it. That I didn't, makes me sad.

But, as Falling Slowly says, "Take this aching boat and point it home. We've still got time."

I've still got time. I hope you are inspired by music today.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I got what I've always wanted for my birthday.

Last Saturday, I turned 35.

I told Cam & Sam that for some reason, I am good with the birthdays that are multiples of five.

I'd rather be a nice round number like 35 than 34 any day.

We'd been so busy with our trip to Maryland the weekend before that I was looking forward to not having big plans for my birthday. That morning, Cameron & Sam took me out for brunch at one of our favorite spots.

Afterwards, I opened the present Els had sent all the way from Holland. She'd already called to wish me a happy birthday. It was great to talk with her. She knows what I like. Thanks, Els for the book, the CD and especially the chocolate. ; )

The guys said we could do whatever I wanted to do. I'd been wanting to go to the top of Mt. Tam and explore some of the trails that head out from the East Peak. Since it was a cool day, it seemed like a good time to go for it.

During breakfast, Sam asked for an apple. So, we stopped off at this fruit stand to grab some healthy snacks for the drive and hike.

These flowers were pretty.

Sam had recently returned from his first over-night field trip.

His 4th grade class spent the night in Coloma Gold Country where he learned to wear a bandanna and someone talked to him about becoming a member of the Hard Core Club by eating an apple - core, seeds, stem and all.

Here he is giving it a go.

As we were leaving the house, I grabbed a CD holder full of discs I'd packed for the plane ride to and from Maryland. On our way to the top of Mt. Tam, we listened to Snow Patrol. Cam found them on Pandora. We both like them.

After Spider Man III (which I loved), I wouldn't leave the theater because I wanted to find out who was singing the closing song, as the credits started to roll. It turned out to be Snow Patrol's Signal Fire. We own the soundtrack now. Good stuff.

At home, we'd grabbed sweatshirts, jackets, put on long-sleeved shirts and jeans.

But when we drove up out of the fog and found it was gloriously sunny and beautiful at the peak.

Cam looking suave.

Me wondering, "What now?' since in jeans, we were dressed too warmly and the only comfortable spot was in the shade.

Having succeeded in eating the apple core, Sam is working on swallowing the stem in this picture. He did it. Then I started to remember that I'd heard something about apple seeds containing poison. Thankfully, I later read that swallowing a few seeds won't hurt you but apparently blending them isn't a good idea.

Happy to be free of his apple and able to call himself a member of the Hard Core Club, Sam celebrates.

I don't think he feels the need to eat the entire apple again, at least not the stem.

So, we climbed down from the peak, returned to our car and started driving down the other side of the mountain towards Bolinas.

I wasn't sure where we were heading but wasn't ready to turn back towards home just yet.

A couple of miles from the top, the air became much cooler. As we drove through groves of gorgeous trees, the moisture in the air made it seem like it had just rained.

I put on some Shawn Mullins, whose music told me many years ago, "I know you've got something to believe in, down deep inside your desperate soul. Hey friend, don't you stop believing in dreams that you had when you were just a lad."

As we coasted down the mountain, turning right, then left, then right again with the ocean out one side and gorgeous countryside on the other, I told Cam that it was the best amusement park ride in the world.

It occurred to me that I was living many of the dreams I had when I was a child and when I first heard that song. I thought about how I am no longer working in a corporate job, chained to a desk and how the work I am doing now is meaningful and the closest I've come yet to being a free-lance employee.

Cam pointed out that it was my first birthday in California. What a gift this past year has been.

I decided that rather than turning back towards home, when we reached Bolinas, I wanted to take a right and keep going north on Hwy 1. On that stretch of the drive, Mat Kearney sang to us, "Come on and we'll see, like we were free. Push the pedal down, watch the world around fly by us." We weren't exactly flying. I meandered along at around 20 miles an hour for hours, happily pulling off whenever someone in more of a hurry came up behind us.

Cam had some graphic novels with him. Sam read one and started another.

When I'd decided to continue north, the vision I had in my head was of stopping for clam chowder at one of the quaint little places we'd passed on our way to Salt Point State Park.

We drove past Olema and Tomales Bay. Cam had pointed out Hog Island before and expressed interest in going there. When we arrived, it looked like our only dining option was raw oysters. While Cam does want to come back and have them sometime, I don't have the stomach for it.

So, we went a couple of miles back to Tomales Bay and stopped at a place that was everything we wanted to find.

Sam celebrated being out of the car. He had a Niman Ranch ham & cheese sandwich.

Cam and I shared a cup of delicious clam chowder and some baked Brie with roasted garlic and apples.

He ordered a dozen barbecued oysters.

He said they were very good oysters.

I surprised both of us by eating nearly half of them.

Everything was prepared wonderfully.

Refreshed and ready to get back on the road.

We were all ready to head towards home.

I switched the music to Counting Crows . One of my favorite concerts was seeing them at the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC.

In the first song on this disk they sing about and I aspire to be, "Something altogether different, never just an ordinary girl."

Cam directed us to go north a bit more then turn east on the Tomales-Petaluma road. While we'd been to Petaluma, none of us had explored this particular stretch of land before.

It took us past happy-looking cows then Clover dairy where much of the organic milk we purchase comes from. We saw goats, sheep and ponies on the drive as well.

Once we were back on Hwy 101, we asked Rhett Miller to bring us home.

Cam and I fell in love listening to his first solo album and enjoyed seeing him play live in Chicago.

And, I am typing this on the new laptop Cam purchased for our household. He got it specifically so that Sam and I could be on the computer at the same time (and off at the same time) this summer. I am enjoying it and our adventures here immensely.

Happy Birthday, indeed.