Dear Debbie Vol. II

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Dear Sister,

A friend of mine who you would love as much as I do gave me a box filled with tiny cards of inspiration. I open one card each day that I need a little pick me up. They are my, “Be Happy,” cards. I appreciate them ever so much, and the woman who bestowed upon me a gift that keeps on giving.

Much like yourself sister.

Today was a magical day and also a trying one. It has been an interesting few weeks. There are so many things I wish we could discuss with one another. So many conversations that have yet to be had. I have a lot of them in my brain and then I think to myself, “Well that’s just ridiculous because I’m locking it all away, better to share, or write it down for myself and then I can reflect on it later.”

Whenever I want to talk to you I end up turning to writing. It seems to be the best and most helpful thing to do. It’s just so hard to let it all simmer. I have to make something with this tear soup, sometimes I share it, sometimes I let it boil over and form something new in my mind.

Today was a special day at Ridgewood Elementary School. You would have loved it. You always brought people together and you still do.

I parked my car, on the neighborhood street and made my way towards the school. It is such a familiar parking lot, one I have visited so many times that I cannot even begin to count how many. But this time was different. I was not nervous, I just knew that a part of me would be sad because you wouldn’t be there.

Walking up to the school made me think of the familiar sights, the familiar smells, and the familiar vibe that Ridgewood has always had.

You should have seen all of the familiar faces coming together to honor you. It was beautiful to see all the students who loved having you as their librarian all gathered there. Some of them were so tall, so grown up, so stoic, so poised, so curious, and many of them gazing and looking away. I could just see your response to their presence in your library. You would have strolled over casually and had that amazing smile across your face and then started the conversation off with, “Well, it’s nice to see you __,” then given them a kind shoulder nudge or hug to welcome them back into the friendliest space in the building.

There were a lot of memories in that library for me today.

I remember coming to shelve books during my early college days, the smell of old papers and bindings. The sound of the type writer with labels and forms being typed up. The clicking of the keyboard, and the swipe sound as the library books were checked in and out. I can see you and Diane behind the counter chattering away and laughing, fleeting visions disappeared before my eyes.

As I looked around, every corner had a different memory for me. What must Declan have felt in there too?  He was busy in the window space playing a game of chess surrounded by other little fellows all concentrating on the game.  All of us, so many memories, positive, happy, beautiful memories that seem tangible, yet so far away.

The desk has been moved. The stuffed animals atop the bookshelves are different and there were less faux plants than I remembered.  The door to the garden was open and there were birds chirping and sun spilling in amongst the kids wandering in and out. The chess board is the same one, and it sits in pools of sunlight that break through the window.

Walking to the back of the library where your desk and piles of books used to be, I spotted a familiar sight that made me smile.

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Nina was your first author friend. I remember seeing the photograph of you two when she visited Ridgewood. What a special magical day that was. You were ecstatic and beaming.

It’s funny how so many memories are intertwined into moments we shared with one another. How those moments piled up on one another for me today.

You provided me with such a strong professional educational foundation in your school. Your colleagues welcomed me with open doors to observe, learn, grow, and question as an undergraduate student. I started as a volunteer, continued my observations, and with a masters degree graduated into a substitute teacher in the building. Your principal helped provide me with the most generous half hour of my career. I had the best coaching lesson for interviews in that school. I learned to be honest about what made me a unique individual, a forthright pioneer for education, and how to answer questions in a direct manner.

Little did I know, or any of us know that our paths would cross in this way today, all of which to honor you. Your work, your passion, and your connectivity to humanity in a community that grieves for your presence.

Sweet Catherine said she could feel you in the library today. Truer words were never spoken. I could feel you too. You touched so many wonderful student’s lives and so many community members gathered today to honor you.  Dad recited poetry and dedicated and a wonderful poem to you by Alice Cary:

True worth is in being, not seeming,— 
In doing, each day that goes by, 
Some little good—not in dreaming
Of great things to do by and by. 
For whatever men say in their blindness,
And spite of the fancies of youth, 

There’s nothing so kingly as kindness,
And nothing so royal as truth.
We get back our mete as we measure—
We cannot do wrong and feel right, 
Nor can we give pain and gain pleasure,
For justice avenges each slight. 
The air for the wing of the sparrow,
The bush for the robin and wren,
But always the path that is narrow
And straight, for the children of men.

‘Tis not in the pages of story 
The heart of its ills to beguile, 
Though he who makes courtship to glory
Gives all that he hath for her smile. 
For when from her heights he has won her,
Alas! it is only to prove 
That nothing’s so sacred as honor,
And nothing so loyal as love!

We cannot make bargains for blisses,
Nor catch them like fishes in nets; 
And sometimes the thing our life misses
Helps more than the thing which it gets.
For good lieth not in pursuing,
Nor gaining of great nor of small, 
But just in the doing, and doing
As we would be done by, is all.

Through envy, through malice, through hating,
Against the world, early and late.
No jot of our courage abating
Our part is to work and to wait
And slight is the sting of his trouble
Whose winnings are less than his worth.
For he who is honest is noble
Whatever his fortunes or birth.

I know that I am sending this out into the blog-a-sphere in the hopes that it reaches you. My tears wash over me and soothe my aches as I type words for you that you cannot read, but I know you would love to. Signing off with sparkles from earth, from your little sister.

Thank you to Debbie Ridpath Ohi for creating a beautiful image of Debbie. The picture to honor Debbie Alvarez will live in the library with new books displays under the art. Some beautiful new books are already in circulation.

Please check out: “Cranes of Hope,” on Facebook for more information about a beautiful nonprofit organization that a former student of Debbie’s started long ago and is continuing to blossom and grow. This student’s creations help patients going through cancer treatments gather hope each time they visit. She lovingly creates paper cranes and delivers them to locations around the greater Portland community. Her work can always benefit from positive support. ❤

Think: P-O-S-I-T-I-V-E

“Positive,” this word’s meaning, per our friend Webster is defined as: consisting in or characterized by the presence or possession of features or qualities rather than their absence. (or) With no possibility of doubt; clear and definite.

When my sister’s struggle with cancer began three years ago she was given a diagnosis, a surgery, and a new decade of life, all in the same moments of time. Taking on the decade of 40 was a challenging task beyond belief. She had no idea what this would all entail.

When you watch a loved one experience pain, there is no worse feeling in the world I assure you. Worse yet is being powerless to stop it all when it takes place before your eyes. It’s like a form of Chinese torture. That slow grip on your soul that just never quite releases and squeezes you without warning when the worms of cancer release.

I remember my beloved Cosby show father character once telling his daughter, “There’s a battle going on inside of you. See you’ve got the white blood cell good guys fighting for you, and then you’ve got these other bad guys and they’re just waging a war inside your body.” Sometimes I think about that moment of hearing an explanation of disease. It makes sense and is simplistic and honest.

The unpredictability of disease has not stopped her from the positivity in the world of experiencing life, living, reading, loving, educating, reaching out, traveling, dancing, laughing, being sarcastic, fighting, and questioning and exploring. She always puts the conscientious thought of love first. That’s something that I have learned from her. “Don’t shut yourself off from being open to the possibility of what someone can bring in, connect, and appreciate Rachel.” We’re doing that together. She has wonderful care right now. Each day has been a blessing of opportunity to laugh, and experience things together.

I felt the desire to write, about what in particular I was not quite sure. What is currently on my heart and mind, my sister Debbie.

I have found writing and music to be extremely therapeutic over the last 72 hours and will continue to share that with Debbie. Currently I am playing d.j. while she dozes and we are all enjoying some Schumann. Thank you for the positive thoughts and love friends. Keep the energy going. ❤ Sparkle on.

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Hong Kong a year later…

Hong Kong a year later…according to my brain as of late

“Here and there and every where.

The bustle, the travel, the hustle, the flow.

The ebb of the tide, the flow of the roll,

the glow of this city’s lights.

Entrancing, never letting go.”

A poet, I am not. I shall leave that genre of the written word to my father, however, I may tilt my pen towards the muse of rhyme from time to time… 

“Reflections 365 days later…”

Life in this city was astounding, loud, noisy, enticing, invigorating, crowded, thrilling, overwhelming, amazing, and technologically fascinating.

The circumstances in which I went to Hong Kong were dire. Traveling to visit a loved one fighting the battle of a life time was so overwhelming, and humbling. I couldn’t wait to sit at my sister’s side, hold her hand, and give her hugs all…the…day…. long.

We did all of these things.

And so much more.

I provide for you a visual imagery of some of the things we saw, felt, touched, and experienced together.

Life is so precious. Remind yourself to appreciate the little moments. BREATHE, reflect, and appreciate.

Every day is a struggle, every day is a gift, every day there will be a whole bundle of tumult rolled into a package we call life.


When I arrived on Halloween, we wore matching wigs as a necessity of course. “Hi there, yes we are sisters, yessss….we are wearing wigs, thank you for staring. Good day sir.”


This view from a high rise building where I waited while she attended healing yoga for cancer patients astounded me. This is a really large city. I am jet lagged. I sat down and faced another direction because I got dizzy so quickly.


Hello peaceful turtles in Hong Kong park. 🙂 I did a little jig when I saw turtles, because I mean, TURTLES!


This is my beautiful nephew, we take selfies, yes he’s cuter than me. Shhh, don’t tell him though, it’ll go to his head. 😉 JK!


There was this waffle place, when one sees a waffle place, one stops to eat of course. He even posed for a photo patiently before digging in.


Photo session on the bus back home after synagogue. This took 3 photos to actually capture all of our heads, but I mean who was counting?!  It was so much fun. Except for the part as we went to get off 2 blocks before our stop, and we waited 12 minutes because of traffic….. 🙂 thank you Hong Kong.


After a long morning of chemo, we took a walk through the park to get sunshine and matched with our smiles.


What caught my attention was the first two bold printed lines. My brain role played back as follows, “Yes, you have my attention, awesomeness, I’m interested…”


My first panorama attempt at a fancy posh-y soccer/ dare I say football field. Thank you brother in law. 🙂


I like this quote today, “Don’t find fault, find a remedy!”


I took a lot of bathroom photos. My brother in law thought this was quite strange. What can I say? I’m pretty strange…that’s an understatement.


I was really interested in this pink wig option. She didn’t feel it was an every day look though…. Beautiful salon visit to help with a wig adjustment. Loved those stylists.


Colorful and lovely back drop of the H.K. smog-city sky line.

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These photos are included…just because they are funny and we were laughing. 🙂

The photo list could go on and on. I’ll reflect more later at some point. Sparkle on friends!

הִנְנִי Hineni Day 30

 הִנְנִי Hineni literally translated means, “Here I am.”

I saw another blogger reference the importance of being present. Place your hand over your heart the meme said, feel that? THAT in and of itself signifies the reason for you today. You are here, you are important, your life has meaning.

I was laying on a doctor’s table and gearing myself up for one of those lovely annual exams and I decided to shift my mind’s focus. I was feeling cranky, tired, and a number of other things. I did a little pep self talk that went something like this, “Ok Rachel, breathe in and out slowly, breathe again, and again just like you tell your students. Ok now let’s look at all the positives about being in this room right now.” I sat there and listed them out one by one by one. I felt a little bit more grateful and better about the situation as the minutes ticked by.

Even though we have been counting down each of these treatments, I am grateful for each and every one of them. The act of visualizing the beams of radiation phasing out the cancerous cells, the happy white blood cells carrying health and rejuvenation throughout your body have been my constant visual and I know yours as well Debbie. Healing repair and perseverance is present today.

Often times I try to meditate through song or chanted prayer. Sometimes it’s with a Debbie Friedman rendition of a prayer, other times it’s just the sh’ma. There is something about those sacred words that makes me feel comforted and safe. I know that  הִנְנִי Hineni has been yours Debbie. Thank you to the rabbi’s at your H.K. synagogue for their positivity and support. They are wonderful and loving people. I am so happy to have met them and shared moments of prayer and song with all of us together.

Dad always says, “Life’s too short kid, don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.” We’re here today, we’re doing our very best to be bright, be vibrant, and be the best version of ourselves. I feel so grateful for this technology, this writing opportunity to remind you about our joint memories throughout all these years. I love you to the moon and back big sister, just like the Savage Garden song said. 🙂 I know that my next count down will be from tomorrow through July 9th. That is approximately: 121 days until you are back in Oregon and we can embrace in a much-needed hug!!!!!!!

May these next one hundred days be filled with health, finishing chemotherapy, and breathing just slightly easier. You have shown tremendous strength, will, and zest for life. I admire your ability to be forthright, honest, and a fervent researcher. I love you! xoxoxoxoxoxo.


 הִנְנִי Hineni

Ten years, Day 29

When I was blessed to come into the world, ten years had already passed for my sister on this Earth. I remember her lovingly showing me her journal and reading aloud her memory of my birthday. She recalled moving into the house on Leeward Place in Anchorage’s suburbs. My folks had scraped, saved, rented, bought, sold, and finally were able to build their own home after years of working towards their goal. She had a tiny black and white pencil drawing of her sitting in the woods behind the house with a book in hand, of course, and smile across her face. She said she was so excited to have a baby sister to dote upon. I was wrapped in pink with a squinted up face and a giant head of jet black hair.

As the baby of the family I had it much easier in some respects. We are both very unique and different individuals from one another. I appreciate her but most of all I have always looked up to her. She was my first role model, friend, and mentor. I know that I have written about it before, but hey, why not let memories repeat themselves? This is something that we often do in our family, and who doesn’t?!

Today I had the opportunity to meet a long lost relative that we had never thought we would get connected with. Luckily with the benefits of modern day technology and the internet they found our folks and today we had a very special reunion.

While enjoying a celebratory lunch with our cousin my mom recalled some fun memories I had not yet shared. So I will take this moment to do so now. As well as a few that you Debbie have reminded me of which are hilarious as well. I wish you could have been there today, but as I told our cousin, we will have to visit the east coast, and she and her boys come back to Oregon. Who doesn’t love the great Pacific Northwest?! As Andy lovingly stated, “Once people come to Portland, they don’t leave.” 🙂


~Some of the best moments as a tiny child of six and seven were when your best friend’s visited. Some enjoyed your annoying little sister’s presence more than others. Dear Michelle was ever so patient, loving, and silly with me. I absolutely loved a game we came up with which was, “SLIDE down the wooden floor hallway as fast as you can!” This game involved getting a running start on the carpeted area and skidding down said hallway past an antique mirror on the wall. I especially enjoyed skidding past and seeing my reflection whizz by. Another favorite was being roll-pushed down the hallway. Mom called it, “Bowling you down the hallway,” I just remember it being an absolute blast.

Chopsticks,” anyone? This was the first song I learned on the piano as well as, “heart and soul.”  I’m sure many musicians cringe when they hear either being played. I on the other hand, loved both, and find it highly amusing when kids bang out renditions of this on the piano. Both you and Michelle would patiently show me the notes and play ever so slowly so that I could get the unison and then duet correct. I felt like such a big kid swinging my feet on the piano bench next to you two. My other favorite memories were of you and Michelle playing duets, along with Sheli’s sister. Those were the days!

Another enjoyable thought came trickling back to you after a few blog reads ago. This involved the laundry chute. I think that mom and dad’s thinking on installing this were: 1. it would make getting the laundry from point a. to point b. much easier. 2. They never thought we would slide down said laundry chute. Just to be clear, I DID NOT, go down the laundry chute. I was too scared, however you did.  “WHOOOOOOOOOOP, down you went and poof into a pile of clothes. I think I almost peed my pants after that. I remember racing down the stairs to see if you were ok. Of course you were fine and laughing the whole time. That’s all I’m going to say about that!

With these flashbacks in time I see things so clearly in that house. The wall paper, the floor boards, the missing grout between tiles, our pastel blue and pink bedrooms walls, the smell of the wood and books in the library, and the sherbet colored carpet in the living and dining rooms, as well as those creaky basement stairs and the scary sump pump…

There is a line in a duet I am learning that says,”It’s hard to talk away the memories that you prize.” Now out of context this line lends itself perfectly to my point. No matter how many stories we tell, or how many recollections that we share, the moments of today and tomorrow are irreplaceable. These emotions and feelings that we are granted to behold are not fleeting, but yet they are indescribable.

No matter where you are or what you are up to, I’ll always love you and be here to support you. Life is about sharing it with people whom you hold dear. With all this being said, I’ll leave you with another family member’s thought.  Our dear cousin shared a pearl of wisdom today, (her mother bestowed this upon her and her sister most days when they fought):

“Friends may come and go. Husbands may come and go, but you will always have your sister. Remember that.”

I love you! Have a great day and second to last treatment, YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!

Photo on 3-1-15 at 6.37 PM

Collective memories Day 28

Today’s blog is a collection of memories that I hold like leaves pressed between the pages of a book. They are more beautiful with age, and yet as fragile as a leaf’s brittle edges after years of safe keeping until they flutter from a page onto this keyboard.
Here goes:
1. When I was about two or three years old I remember us standing, (you holding me), up against mom and dad’s bedroom window and I waved as they drove off for the evening. You set me down and I cried. Puddles of tears running down my little pink cheeks. “Rachel, you don’t need to shed big fat crocodile tears, they’ll be home in a few hours.” I think I was sad about them being gone, yes., but yet, I think I was more upset about not being included, haha. I hated being the little one who couldn’t do this or that because I was too young and too small. I felt left out. L.O.L., I know…hindsight is twenty-twenty as dad says!
2. When I was about four years old I discovered an active interest in science. I would pull earth worms up from underneath rocks in the garden, I collected them in mom’s old Tupperware containers.  I supplied them with grass and sandbox sand and I placed them in our clubhouse. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I would forget about them and rediscover them days later, poor earth worms.  Secondly along these scientific lines, I would concoct fascinating experiments in the bathroom. My beaker was a Dixie cup, my stirring rod a q-tip, and my variables: water, toothpaste, baby powder and sometimes your bathroom items hidden inside of drawers beneath the sink. I’d stir, stir, and stir some more, and I’d wait to see how much powder I could get to slip below the surface, aha! Suddenly you would knock or rather, pound on the door, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THERE RACHEL? DID YOU FALL IN THE TOILET?!” Maybe that’s why the toilet would get clogged suddenly. Sorry dad….
3. We shared the coolest club house around. I must say. It was pretty fabulous! Inside it was decorated with my scribbles and later my love declarations with my first boy friend, awww young love….I think one of my favorite finds as a youngster in that clubhouse were the giant carpenter pencils we used to scribble on the walls. I hope that whoever bought the house from mom and dad in 1999 had children. I hope they enjoyed and or still enjoy that magical, imaginative, and fun play house dad built. Who knew that we’d be all grown up and still love that house, even more so now!
4. Three words: BOARDS ON DOORS
I’ll never forget when I was about eight and I tried to put the board on the front french double doors. I luckily balanced it correctly and did not take out the chandelier dangling from the tall ceilings height above said door. “Phew,” but let’s just say, I may or may not have accidentally dropped it through those two posts or pegs a time or two. The first time I tried to explain to a friend what it was, it was just too complicated for me to express. Upon further reflection now, I get it, I totally understand the boards on the doors. As a young kid, it seemed like, oh, ok that’s what we do, doesn’t your family board their doors? Haha. Well…you know, mom was ahead of her time. Early alarm system, talk about built-in security!
5. Mouse.
One word, super short, five letters, one syllable, and yet, it can summon up some of the most unprecedented responses from a human being. I shall never forget the shriek of fear echoing through the garage, into the house, and down the hallway. Remember how we kept the dog food in giant garbage can bins in the garage? Yeah…well…you encountered what was probably a shrew. I later met the same fowl in the garage area, only I found it’s number two sprinkled about in the vita bone cookie box and amongst the shelving around that area. I gotta say, “I’m not into mice.” Our poor neighbor Grandin had the privilege of removing said mouse once it became trapped on a sticky live trap. Dad was out-of-town, mom and I tried to be really responsible and take care of it with rubber gloves. Try as we might, we could not get past the rubber gloves and squealing sounds as we took steps closer toward it. I screeched, cried and laughed, and mom did as well. It was a mess to say the least, and dear Grandin swooped in with a laugh and a dust pan. What would we ever have done without him?
6. Now I know you say that you are not a runner. But hear this and you might retract your previous statement… 🙂
I believe I was age seven, you a young seventeen. I was playing on mom and dad’s bed with, “My Little Ponies.” I would make them gallop across the desert, i.e. carpeted area, and up the mountains, i.e. long hanging curtains that blocked out both the Anchorage frosty winter and kept in the heat. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of hair, jeans, and a long skid across the cul-de-sac. Yep, that blur was you my dear sister. I’ve never seen someone run as fast on ice as I saw that day. You ran so fast between the houses, up our street, across the circle, and into our driveway. I’m pretty sure that was probably one of the best cardio moments of your life. Why all this running other people are wondering?  I know you must be recalling at this present moment Debbie, the one word I have: moose.
Ok, now people, you need to understand that moose are not sweet, they are not friendly, and they are not our friends. They are wild animals that roam down from the mountains in search of food and unfortunately, they bed down in yards especially yards without fences. HOWEVER, they do occasionally cross over fences too, but that’s another story, never mind, anyway…. (Into the Woods reference…:) ) Needless to say, a gigantic bull moose was in the backyard of Mrs. Bell, our piano teacher’s yard. It stood up, you saw it above the snow bank, you fled, the rest is history. Thank heavens it had the sense enough to just ignore the small teenager that approached it. We had too many close calls with these mammals. There are countless stories we could share at a later date, right Debbie?!
Have a wonderful day! Enjoy the moose-less streets of H.K. but watch out for those mini-busses and fancy cars, crazy drivers in the land of H.K. roam quite free. I love you! xoxo.
Pretty tulips for you! It’s beginning to feel like spring time! 😉

“Three, two, one, action!” Day 27

When we were growing up, something we quite enjoyed as a family were our movie times. I thought I would dedicate today’s blog to a some random memories involving movies, enjoy! 🙂

Circa age three through seven I was in love with the Disney movie, “Alice In Wonderland.” Perhaps that is why I was draw to a three-quarter length sleeved shirt with Alice and Dinah on the blouse’s front and stripes on the sleeve for the Cheshire cat. Who knows really how our brains work. However, I do know this, when I suggested watching that with Declan at one point, you ranted about how I was so OBSESSED with that movie it was the only one that I would watch for years. Over and over again apparently… Funny though, I don’t really recall this. I KNOW!  It’s probably the only time I don’t recall a memory we have together that you have as well, unless, of course, I was too small to remember it. That being said, I do remember laying on mom and dad’s white miniature couch in their bedroom. Come to think of it, it was more like a love seat, but never the less, a comfortable one it was. I was ill with something or other and I can see that movie playing on the 40 inch screen.  I loved lounging and watching movies, singing and dancing along. Admitedly, I still do.  I used to perform these half cartwheels around mom and dad’s bed. A king size bed as a four-year old is quite exciting people. Fin, for that memory.

Circa age six, I zoom in, I can see the scene laid out before my eyes: Sleeping Beauty is blaring across the screen and I can hear your voice saying, “Do you want to try watching something new Rachel? What about this movie? I’ll let you watch it with me!” My response was prompt and high-pitched, “NOOOOOOOOO!” I don’t remember the title of the film you requested or suggested rather, but you were so annoyed with me. (Hahahahaha.) We had a long discussion about how the evil Maleficent was much scarier than the characters in this movie that you wanted to watch. You kept the discussion going and I think at one point I may have stated, “I don’t want to because, I don’t want to, and I like this movie because it’s not about Maleficent it’s about Aurorrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaa.” Endearing childhood moments. What was the name of that movie?

Cut to age eight or nine or so….here goes another blast from the past: I was interested in watching the movie, “My Girl.” We took in the flick together and I quite enjoyed it. I remember watching it with you, but I was very confused about one particular part. The scene that left me puzzled was this particular one: Lead girl comes rushing into the house and storms into the bathroom. She talks with her mom, (No wait, I think step mom who was not her favorite person in the world). She ranted as she answered the door and then promptly slammed the door in her friend’s face, a boy. She yelled, “Why don’t they get it? It’s so unfair, I can’t believe I have to deal with this…” or something like that. I really didn’t get it all perfectly, but you get the idea. What was this whole scene and moment about anyway? Why was it so important?

One word: Menstruation.  Ok three words: “Getting your period.”  CLEARLY I didn’t have any idea about bodily changes and what would take place in the future.  Debbie, I asked you about it and I keenly recall you saying this to me, “Ask me in two or three years and I’ll explain it to you.” Hahaha, I cracked myself up just then I as I typed those words, and Andy’s asking me, “What?” 🙂 Apparently I’m one of the only people he knows, who will be sitting quietly and start laughing aloud.  I am easily amused and I crack myself up. Isn’t this a skill that everyone posses? I think it’s quite normal.

Fall of 2014:  Lounging on your bed in Hong Kong and watching, “Roman Holiday,” together was one of my favorite H.K. memories. It was nice to just cozy up and chill out with a flick and a lovely starlet we admired. I shall leave you with a favorite quote of hers. Have a fabulous day, I love you!

Audrey Hepburn’s ideology and words: 

“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”

DSC01588A little giggle here with my attempt at fun hair and hair embellishments in this photograph. Amidst Declan’s, “Mad,” face at more selfies with Aunt Rachel. 🙂 It’s a hard knock life!

The music of the night Day 25

“Think of me, think of me fondly, when we said goodbye…”

Phantom of the Opera, by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. Do you remember seeing this musical with me? I don’t even remember what year it was. Perhaps 2000, or 2001? It was on tour in Portland and you asked me if I would want to go see it with you.

Let me just take a pause for a moment to think about my response, “Ummmm, YES!”

For years we had listened the original Broadway cast album with Sarah Brightman, Crawford and Bartman. Over and over, and over again on road trips and to and from places around town. I loved singing and trying to embellish lyrics on the soprano songs. It was one of the musicals at the time that was taboo to sing at auditions or at recitals, “Too over done…tsk, tsk, who do you think you are? Sarah Brightman?”

Well I never listened to that. I ended up performing the role of Christine at a child’s birthday party in 2004. Yes, I said birthday party, that was correct. The parent was a bit indulgent shall we say. It was my first paying gig and I was absolutely thrilled. Someone has a home video floating around their shelves in Beaverton…not sure who or where. But the evidence exists. I wore my bridesmaid dress and earned a few hundred dollars to glide down the stair case and sing songs I loved. What’s not to love about that?!

Back to the memory. There I go digressing. Story of my life I’d say. 🙂  “The road less traveled…” Oh, whoops, there I go again.

I was absolutely thrilled to see the production with you that spring day. I can keenly recall mom and dad seeing it when I was about 9 or 10 in Anchorage, 1993 or 1994. Mom said I was a bit too young to see it because of the ‘scary’ elements in the production. I had heard about the chandelier falling and the whole mini-explosion bits here and there. I could not wait to see the spectacular with my own eyes. I can remember sitting in the Keller Auditorium with you, anxiously awaiting the beginning of the production. We flipped through the concert program and read through biographies for the performers and musicians.

The lights dimmed.

That faint chiming started and that melody that I can hear in my brain now, then the auction scene began. Finally the chandelier and that grand organ sound resounded. Chandelier glides upwards above the stage. Not over the audience yet, my heart still jumped into my hands, ok mom was right. 🙂

I don’t care what any one else thinks. I’m sorry, I think Sir Lloyd Webber did a spectacular job with his production. I absolutely adore the musical and am thrilled any time I hear the tunes. I know it’s rather faux pas or what not amongst the musical theatre community to be forthright with my accolades and taste. To each his own thought I say! I don’t know anyone personally that has written a musical that well done, performed THAT many times, and with such a resounding crowd pull for every show. Perhaps it is also the element of Paris that intrigued me ever so.

Having been lucky enough to spend time there, I can see why. It was a musical, architecturally enthralling, and culturally immersing city to experience. Perhaps one day we could share the experience together Debbie?! I would love to roam the streets of Paris with you and paint at the top of the Montmartre together. There is something to be said about being in Paris and enjoying what the city has to offer.

Thank you for the musical tapes, the musical production memories, and for sharing these glorious experiences with me. I can’t wait to see a musical with you again soon. I love you ever so!


This was a photo taken outside of the Keller, circa 2007-ish before enjoying, “Avenue Q.” Yet another musical you introduced into my life. 🙂

Visualize Day 24!

Brush in hand, gentle strokes, dip, wipe, repeat. The art of painting itself…


When painting I often find myself getting into a rhythm of sorts.  There is something cathartic about putting brush to paper or palette and letting go of expectations completely. I rediscovered painting with a dear friend and previous colleague. I saw her pictures of beautiful paintings via social media and I immediately became interested. I wanna do that! So we did!

When you visited last summer Debbie, I knew we had to go paint together. It was so much fun. And also funny. Looking back later upon my work I noticed how crooked certain things were and then I laughed at myself and thought, “There I go placing expectations upon my art, versus appreciating it for what I created.”

These reminders can be taken and applied into so many scenarios in life.

“There are no mistakes in art,” is what I like to tell students when they want a new paper, a new palette, a new this or that, when they experience the unconformability of creating visual art. I tell them how brave they can be if they push through and believe in their ability to create.

Our grandmother was a visual artist who blossomed later in life.

Perhaps if there was a fun term for inheriting art capabilities we could call ourselves that, Debbie. Such as, having a green thumb, or being ambidextrous or something or other. We both inherited visual capabilities and craftiness from mom and Grandma.

The idea of using one’s hands to create something from your imagination or an inspiration in life is essential to keep the spark of life alive. I love sitting down and even taking time to allow creativity to flow just for a few moments. Sometimes stopping your  to-do list in your brain, really being present in the moment in time can allow unexpected journeys to take place. I love when I stumble across an idea, or I draw a little sketch for a student. These are the moments to appreciate and celebrate. Small joys each day, help me to keep going and power through what can at times, be a daunting week or job filled hour.

Making time for this each day for art is essential. Even if it is appreciating a pretty picture on a calendar, or meme while scrolling a social media feed. Take time to look at art today and allow yourself to enjoy those subtle moments in time. We are Renaissance women aren’t we. Putting our arts together collectively to share and create. I love you big sister! xoxo

debbie and i painting

Library Day 23 or something like that… :)

How many of you know your library card number, or should I say numbers by heart? I DOOOOOOOOOOO! I know ALL THREE by heart. I say quite proudly to strangers, and I don’t know my driver’s license. Go figure?! Priorities in life= library visits.

I ran into a woman at the library about a month ago. I couldn’t place how I knew her in that brief moment of time. So I said, “Hi! Do you work for the Multnomah County libraries?” We had this little three minute conversation and then both went on our merry way. Later in the car the light bulb moment took place. “OOOOOOOOH!” THAT’s who she was! Long story short, she knew my sister, she was a librarian, and we had met at the Eric Kimmel talk recognizing Beverly Cleary’s work last summer. All of these little light bulbs went off too late though. She was in her car, and I in mine. I really had a strong desire to call Debbie at that moment and share my little story.

I had to be happy with emailing it later in the evening. But it wasn’t the same.

The funniest part of the encounter was my parting words with this woman, “I love the library, it’s like shopping, but for free!”

That pretty much sums it up for me.

I can shop for three of my favorite things: books=knowledge, music, and movies. Yes please!

Whenever I take my classroom students to the library which is unfortunately only every other week for, “check out time.” I help guide them through, “Book recommendations.” This is where I pick their brain about passions, interests, and which author they have yet to discover. We talk about good fit books and then I help them find a new genre along the way. I also encourage them to check out a non-fiction book each week. I’ve had some students take on the biography challenge this year, and branch into wild weather and now animal fact books for their research reports.

The library is my happy place and it always has been.

When I was super small we would visit our beloved Lusac Library in Anchorage about once a week. I loved walking into the children’s section, pulling my favorite books by familiar authors into a giant pile.  I loved laying down in the fun reclining chair circle and pretending to read all the picture books laid out beside me. When I later became a strong reader, I would go through periods of obsessively reading all of the books by a certain author. Here is where our tastes in literature part ways at times Debbie.

I was obsessed with all forms of narratives, historical fiction, biographies, and fictionalized human experiences. Anything science fiction, dystopian, or set in a far off land did not interest in me in any way. Unfortunately I was stubborn and didn’t branch too far from my literary tree of preference until later in life. However, with all this being said, our library beheld the keys to all of our literary desires.

I go to the library some weeks, two or three times. I am a fervent believer in the public access system and I encourage my students and families to support their local library every year. A favorite quote from a fifth grader, which was overheard by a colleague of mine, always brings a smile to my face.

“Hey man, I went to this place dude, and like, they GIVE you cd’s, movies, and books for free. For free man!” “Oh yeah? What place?” Student looks around, “The library, the library does!” 🙂

Let’s make a series of commercials for t.v. about the library, I’m ready to write a screen play and shoot it! Needless to say, I support all libraries and feel immediately at home in them. Thanks for sharing your library in H.K. Debbie! I love you! xoxo


This hangs in my classroom and it is a daily reminder for me and my students about the choices we make. Food for thought today. 🙂