Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Quote: No Thoughts

When there are thoughts, it is distraction: when there are no thoughts, it is meditation.
~Ramana Maharshi

Saturday, April 25, 2015


A few weeks ago Cordelia asked if we could visit the graveyard. We were driving past on our way to ballet and she had spotted a headstone that was also a bench. For some reason that caught her interest. When she asked I wasn't surprised. Graveyards are pretty and park like and interesting. I told her we could visit someday, but assumed that she would soon forget about the graveyard.

She did not forget. Instead she got Elise excited about the idea. I am not quite sure what they were expecting, but yesterday I agreed.

I remember my mother telling me that she loved going to cemeteries as a child. She shared this casually with me when I was young and as a result I have never felt fearful while in graveyards. So I took the same approach yesterday. 

It was a beautiful morning and the cemetery was just bursting with spring beauty. We walked through the headstones, stopping to read occasionally. I will say that I stayed away from the part of the cemetery that has children...that I knew would be upsetting to my girls. Instead we read headstones of men and women who had lived long and full lives. 

They picked dandelions and left them, without my prompting they noticed that there were flowers left at headstones. They had some questions. Most interestingly Cordelia revealed that she thought people went to the graveyard to die. I wondered what she had imagined, but on such a beautiful idea that seemed like a rather lovely idea. I did explain that this was not where people went to die.

We stopped at one headstone that was shared. The girls noted the photos inlaid and the etching of a semi truck. I read the headstone at the girls' request and it said something about "glory days." Then we noted that the woman, picture already in place, was still alive. There was no date of death, yet. 

Cordelia asked if I thought his wife had forgotten about him yet. I told her that she would never forget her husband. Then I showed her the beautiful orange and black feather that was poking out of the ground, obviously placed there by someone. An older blue feather was laying in the grass. She noted that someone, maybe his wife, was leaving these for her husband.

We decided to head out and on our way back to the car Cordelia spotted a bench tombstone. The girls wanted to sit on the bench, but I was a bit uncertain as I could see at a distance that there was a rather elaborate engraving. As we approached I read the text above the engraved trees and it said something like,"Sit a spell, Bill and Barb (different names) never knew a stranger." So I let them sit for a moment. They were just being happy children and they were not afraid of death and that was good.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Phone Photo Friday: 4.24.15

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you have a lovely weekend planned. My weekends are always crazy busy, but that will soon be changing and I am looking forward to slower summer days. 

We had a nice week here. Work, family life, outdoor time, good stuff.

Last week I celebrated my birthday. My husband got me original art from my favorite childhood shows She-Ra and Jem!

I was also gifted with a scale replica of the Venus of Willendorf!! Art nerd.

For my birthday I worked in the morning and then we met up for a family lunch.

After lunch I was surprised when Eric and my mother had collaborated and I was treated to a glass of champagne and a movie ( It Follows) while my mother played with the girls and made a cake!

The girls were so proud of their cake.

They were also happy to help blow out the candles.

Cordelia working on a puzzle.

Elise dressed up as Eric.

Cordelia, blue eyed and silly.

The preschool had their annual trike-a-thon to raise money for St. Jude's. Cordelia was slow. The teachers had said to start slow and she took that to heart, being lapped again and again. Eventually she sped up to a normal pace. She had a blast.

Elise watched and asked a ton of questions about how it will be her turn next year.

My proudest parenting moment was when Cordelia repeatedly hopped off of her bike to help kids who had fallen.

Elise and Lucy.

We met up with my Aunt Karen and Uncle Gregg for mall lunch.

Eric and I toured a huge new gallery space that will soon open in town. My show opens in June!

After visiting the new gallery space we were asked to contribute to their fundraiser. A pallet show, works made on or with old pallets. Eric and I each grabbed some small chunks and went to work at home.

I finished this piece and we dropped it off the next day. 

Eric made this amazing collage for the pallet show.

Cordelia took it on herself to eat all of the strawberries. I bought a pint of berries and told her she could help herself. Later I realized the container was empty. She had eaten a single bite from each berry, afraid to touch the green bits, and then thrown the rest away. We had a talk about waste.

Neighbor bunny that sits near the fence, driving the hounds insane as it completely ignored them.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Without Words

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Yellow House

Whenever we take a walk as a family and our house comes into view on the return stretch Elise will shout, "I see our yellow house!" It makes me happy every time. I love our yellow house.

Today marks four years in our home, our first home. Please read the post here. You would think that after four years I would be used to home ownership, but it is still such a thrill. When Eric and I talk finances I often say," our rent, I mean mortgage." We still wander around our home and marvel,"Can you believe this is our home?" It isn't as though our house is super amazing, in fact it is pretty basic, but we love where we live. We haven't see a single neighbor in their underwear, which is a tremendous feat after our rental experiences.


We have made changes to our home in the past four years. We have painted every single wall. We tore up carpet. We have gotten new fixtures and appliances. We have worked the garden. We have decorated. We still have a long list of goals, but those will come in time. More than anything our lives have changed so much in the past four years.

 bath with sister

 Cordelia and Elise

 betty sprinkles


When we moved in Cordelia was just a toddler. We had two cats and a dog. Since moving here we have:

-Had new jobs.
-Had a miscarriage.
-Had a baby.
-Adopted another dog.
-Said goodbye to our sweet Mia.
- Potty trained two children.
-Made more art than we can believe.
-We've made friends.
-We have entertained friends from all over.
-We have traveled.
-We have gotten a second car.
-We adopted a second cat.
-We have re-arranged more than we can count.
-We still have no idea what to do with our guest room/ plant nursery/craft room/storage/catch all.
-We have read stories to our daughters.
-We have enjoyed the shade of cottonwood trees and harvest a zillion apples from the apple tree.
-We have laughed and cried and spent wakeful nights with little kids.




 cordelia and i


Over the past year the previous owner passed away. I think of her daily as I go about my business. I have been seeing a lot of the purple flowers she so loved popping up with the onset of spring and I think of the happy life she had here and I am so thankful that we too are enjoying this beautiful family home. This home will always be where my children were first home and for that I am always going to be happy when I reflect on our happy yellow house years.

morning outside

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


It is almost Earth Day! Time to celebrate and care for the planet we all call home. Did you know that being vegan is one of the best ways to care for the planet? Look into it!

Another way to lessen your negative impact on our planet is through simple adjustments in your waste output. Ever thought about composting?

composting 101 rooted vegan

I love to try and use up leftover food. I will freeze, rework, blend, do about anything to use up food.  Sometimes there comes a point where you just have to call it a day. Your food has its own eco system. Time to get rid of it...but don't just throw it away, that is bananas. You can compost, You don't need acreage to compost, just a quiet corner of your patio or yard.

We are here to help you get started. First you need to decide what you can do with the space you have. You will need to do a little internet search of your own to find the right composter for you. I assure you that you can compost in your apartment, on your farm, anywhere in between.

You will also want to consider your time commitment. There are composting timetables that are available for people of all schedules. There is no excuse not to compost, none.

Lazy composting is where you fill up your bin and let nature do its thing. I have a bin made from palettes (thank you Pinterest) that I have filled up. I water it when I think of it and a few times a year I toss it around with a pitchfork. The turnaround to usable compost is much longer, but if you have the space it is easy with 3 going at a time. The rule of three is : One ready to use, one that you are adding to and one that is cooking.

Active composting happens when you use things like barrels, worms or any composter that works quickly. Again I recommend the rule of three (See above). I have a barrel composter that you rotate and add water too. I filled it up last spring and plan to use it as soon as the snow from Walda melts off.

Now that you have a bin, what do you put in it?

Stuff you can compost
Green Stuff
Any veggies or fruits. This means all of the stuff you trim off of your food as well as the stuff that you forgot about in the back of your refrigerator.
Some yard stuff like grass clippings, dead plants (that haven't gone to seed), leaves
 Brown Stuff
Cardboard, broken down
Shredded paper and newspaper
Coffee grounds, filters and all

Stuff you shouldn't compost
Animal products----good thing we're vegan
Anything treated with pesticides
Weeds that have gone to seed.
Fats, this means some of your leftovers should not be composted lest you attract vermin
Animal poo. Manure is one thing if you want to collect that in a vegan way (scooping it up for a farm sanctuary?), but cat and dog poop needs to go in the trash.

How to get compost that doesn't smell like freak funk
Mix brown and green. Too much green and your bin will stink. Too much brown and it will just sit there. So, do a combo. Keep it moist, not soaked, just moist. Water it if it gets too dry. Easy.

What to do with it
When you have something that resembles soil just mix it in with your garden. Boom. You just composted, now go and hug the Earth and it will hug you back!

Monday, April 20, 2015


Cordelia and Elise

The girls were getting ready for bed, there was a lot of giggling and not a ton of putting on pajamas. I was laughing at their antics and trying hard to switch gears to the role of the parent who does enforce a bed time. This is the sacred rule for parents who want some down time; fail at this and your life will be in shambles for the next twenty four hours. Sure we (we=parents) all give the laid back parenting style a whirl, it is fun to go with the flow! I know very few people who actually enjoy bossing kids around, it is exhausting. However, a few "fun" late nights is enough to turn even the most casual of parents into believers in the bedtime routine. You see, each child has a time they will wake up in the morning. If you are one of the lucky parents with good sleepers and kids who can snooze past 7am (non-teens) then skip to the next paragraph and don't tell me about it because I am certain you will be smug and then I will be forced to challenge you to a rap off, like this. Our girls will wake up at 6am. It does not matter if there is a total eclipse of the sun, if they stayed up late, if they are sick---they will be awake and so too shall we, though Eric and I are savvy enough that we switch off the daily parental morning monitor as we daydream about the day that the girls can just get up and do their own thang.

Where was I going with this post?

Wait for it...

Oh yeah!

Cordelia and Elise

So the girls were laughing and carefree, not considering all of the variables that play a role in their daily life. Cordelia was wearing a blanket and underwear, running around making crazy sounds. Elise had on Eric's shirt and hat...and wanted us to call her Eric/daddy. They didn't think about their 6am wake-up or the fact that both of them are a bit under the weather. They didn't do the math and think that the bike-a-thon tomorrow would require a full night of sleep to ensure a zero meltdown factor.  Neither of them considered the size of their bladders when they asked for big drinks before bed. Not a cloud of concern went across their young minds as they tried their hands at brushing their teeth, because that is our job. Eric and I worry about those things. We remind them to wear coats or suffer the consequences of Wyoming spring temps in the 40s. We worry about complete proteins and face-washing. OK, some real talk here, Eric worries about face washing. I just cannot make myself care if their faces are dirty, they have to figure that out sometime right?!

In the midst of the bed time chaos I looked at our girls from a different perspective, realizing that this is their childhood! Ahhh, crap (sorry Grandmas) the weight of that hits me at various times and it is intense! I am trying to give them a happy childhood. One with structure and stability and fun and learning and so on and so forth. It is enough to drive a well-meaning parent to the brink. I mean, come on! If we mess this up for them there will be no recovery, none. Thankfully I firmly believe that as long as we try our hardest to influence the elements over which we have control (bedtimes, tooth brushing, love, etc.) and do our best to ignore that over which we have no control (death, accidents, super volcanoes) we will be OK...or that is all we can hope for in this life.

Cordelia and Elise

So I looked at those kids and thought about their childhoods. I imagined how they will reflect on these times, or times like these, as only a grown-up can and I was happy. I was happy for these two girls who have such an amazing friendship (Cordelia recently told me that preschool is great except she doesn't get to be with Elise) and two parents who love them with everything. I hope and pray that their childhood has the right balance of structure and stability and fun that they will look back and think they had a happy childhood. If not then it is probably the fault of a super volcano and I just cannot be expected to handle that problem.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday Quote: enjoyed

It is so small a thing to have enjoyed the sun, to have lived light in the spring, to have loved, to have thought, to have done.
~Mathew Arnold

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sixteen Days Late

April 2nd most years I can anticipate a call, a text, some form of communication from my mother. She reminds me that I was supposed to be born on April 2nd 1981. I didn't choose April 2nd for my arrival. My mother, nine months pregnant and living on an isolated farm in  northern Montana could do nothing but wait. She waited, knowing that snow would come that month. I am sure she worried about making it to the hospital that was about an hour away in Havre. I am sure she daydreamed about motherhood and the life she imagined for her just beginning family. I know that she was pretty sure that she was having a boy. Everyone told her that she was carrying a big old baby boy, but that was still more than a few years off.

 Sue.Struck.Feb.1981[7 months pregnant with
 Maria Rose]

She waited for 16 days something that no doctor now would allow, there certainly would have been an induction for a baby that simply refused to leave the comfort of the womb, but not then. Back in 1981 in rural Montana my parents waited and dreamed and went about business as usual, farming and sitting on pins and needles. Every twinge could signal the impending birth that surely colored every moment of those days. I am sure that they were thinking about how their lives would change, how a baby would change their relationship. I am sure they were worried about sleep and all of the other stuff that waiting parents ponder, driving themselves mad with possibilities.

Then, on April 18th I decided it was time to make my entrance. My mother and father got into their car and drove to Havre, a small town that seemed like a metropolis in comparison with their nearest town of Turner. My parents will tell me later today about how they waited as a train passed before they could get to town. My mom will remind me about how my dad talked to some kid who was also waiting to pass. I will hear stories about puking and pop and pancakes. I will hear about how my dad wasn't in the delivery room, because it was a different time. I will hear the story of my birth. I need those stories. I cherish those stories.

Maria Struck April 18, 1981 [just born]

I arrived and I was a giant baby, to be sure, basically I was half grown. I was a giant baby with acne that has lasted for 34 years. I don't think my parents cared much, because I was finally there and I was theirs. I was not a boy, but that was really just dumb luck on their part---I kid.

Maria Struck [Wimmer] April 1981

I was taken home to the farm after the obligatory hospital stay. On their way home they stopped at a restaurant in Hogeland (I believe) where a waitress took me, newly born, into the back to show off to staff. My mother nervously waiting my return, but too polite to demand my return from an obviously well-meaning soul. They took me home and I am certain that a parade of friends and family teased them about how it was about time. I am sure that my grandmothers held me, aunts, second cousins, family friends. I was home and I was loved.

I was also endured, as I hear tell that I was more than a little intense (side note: I still hear this is true).  I was home, sixteen days later than planned. I was born 34 years ago today to the most loving parents and for that I am thankful.  I was given the best birthday gift ever, and since it is my birthday I can get away with this sappiness, I was given my family and every goodness that has come into my life stems from that very first gift.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Phone Photo Friday: 4.17.15

Happy Friday everyone! Time for a phone dump! 

We started last Friday by heading to Cody, WY for a conference. While there I recalled that the girls had recently asked me if horses are real. What?! I am certain they have seen horses, we live in Wyoming, but I decided to drive out of town and show them the reality of horses.

We stayed at the historic Irma hotel and its historic artifacts included a desk from the 1980s and a TV circa 2000! Fascinating specimens.

Halfway home we stopped in the small town of Thermopolis and Eric sniffed out a skate park, this one is endorsed by Pica$$o.

While Eric skated at the "skate park" in Thermopolis the girls and I took a stroll around the springs.

Ophelia, just being ancient.

We celebrated my father's birthday this week. The girls gifted him with a pink plastic rose, their choice.

I celebrated my father's birthday with a style combo I want to call Hippie Athena.

We went out for dinner with the family.

Laura and Cordelia.

Elise was clinging to my mother like a little monkey. She loves her grandparents.

Eric taught the girls to bowl. Elise never showed much interest in knocking the pins down. She felt complete having shoved her ball down the metal ball guide.

Here we have my father pretending to blow out an unlit birthday candle. Apparently, as I took this photo, I mimed candle blowing along with my father. Eric was happy to point this out to me. I am also guilty of making tooth brushing faces when I brush my daughter's teeth.

On Tuesday it was warm enough for shorts!

The girls stripped down to their undies and played in a dirt filled bathtub. We have a dirt filled bathtub in our back yard.

Then I gave them Popsicles.

The mess cannot be expressed in photos, but they had fun...then they had a bath. A filthy tub ring kind of bath.

The next day it snowed.

Well, hello!

This. Take it all in right here.

Hope you have a glory filled day!

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