Saturday, December 31, 2011

Quick Update

Well.... I have a lot to catch up on in my P A D files...
But I just realized I haven't written a THING the entire month of December... here's why:
Two retail jobs throughout winter holidays keeps a gal VERY busy.
The Davis' welcomed baby Kellan December 16.
My family spent the first Christmas in 3 years with all 5 of us in our childhood homeplace.
I finally met / spent quality time with my future brother-in-law.
My friends are amazing.
My family is hilarious.
My sleep schedule is lacking.

2011 - the good, the bad .... I thank you for the life lessons and bid you adieu with hopeful happy eyes on the future.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

"Words mean more at night, like a song. And did you ever notice, the way light means more than it did all day long?" Gregory Alan Isakov
I have my fingers crossed Virginia will soon chill off for the winter. Though I've been afforded many pleasant moments outside in the temperate fall weather we've been having, the wildness inside me longs for distinct seasons. The cold that turns a grassy mountain into a sparkling diamond wonderland. Excuses to bundle up with heart-felt hand-knit accessories. Burning chests and rosey cheeks, true appreciation for comfy warm shelter from a long winter's night.
And they are long. The fall I hiked I felt I was always fighting nights filled with longer hours. Last fall I ran into that a bit again as my job attempted to cram as many activities into a shortening day as students and staff traipsed through a chilling forest. But this fall, I get up before dawn, sometimes watch the sunrise over Mill Mountain, sometimes soak up afternoon sun, and generally see it set about the time I'd like to sink horizontally onto my bed. It isn't a challenge so much this year, with my more domestic lifestyle. I have a home with electricity, heat, flushing toilets - whole nine yards.
But tonight I walked these city streets and stumbled upon something. Christmas. (quick background) I LOVE Thanksgiving. It has always been a genuine time of fellowship, love, and gratitude in my family where many of us come together across the distance and have a great time. Christmas usually stresses me out. Crowds overwhelm me, hurried/ rude people annoy me, and many of the commercial capitalizing campaigns over the blending of religious and secular calendars just kinda.... weirds me out. So I often tend to get a little Scroogey around Christmas time.
Which makes tonight all the more remarkable.
On my walk tonight I accidentally stumbled onto the most magical street in Raleigh Court, the location of my old home. As I stood at one end of my block and looked towards the scene of over a year of my life, my heart stopped, treasured the scene in my heart, then joyfully relaxed. So many homes were highlighted with multi colored and white lights. Strands of them made archways from houses toward the street, forming a saber-like gauntlet of color, light, and hope.
Bundled in my trench coat, furry boots, hat and scarf I just stood there, basking in the beauty and smiling. On my way home I walked slowly under the arch of lights and sparkling ornaments, underneath a canopy of stars.
And out of all the feelings bouncing around in my heart and head what I mostly felt was - peace. This lovely calm appreciation for all that God is, and the world around me, human kind, community, and the reassurance in the sovereign story etched on our hearts and his plan for our lives.
Relationships come and go. Jobs come and go. Food is here and then gone. Health waxes and wanes. Money seems hard to come by. Life comes and goes. Hopes. Fears.
All met in Thee.
In all of the joy and adversity there is abounding opportunity to see that light in the darkness.
And how lovely it is on a chilly silent night.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Golden Birthday

Once in your life, you turn x years on the x day of your birthday. This year I turned 27 on the 27, so in honor of a once in a lifetime event, I'd like to post 27 highlights / things I'm thankful for from my birthday =)
1. Waking up early enough to watch the sunrise from the comfort of my own bed, in a cozy home.
2. Starting the day slow and kickin it with Geronimo.
3. Wandering around a mostly empty store getting my Max-onista on.
4. Being at the dog park with two other weimaraners and a slew of other 4 legged friends.
5. Having a stranger boy intrigued by me.
7. Quad shot iced mocha.
8. Drinking it from my sweet free travel mug.
9. Eating sushi with Amanda.
10. Having sweet friends to share storytelling carpools with.
11. The Blue Ridge Vineyard and their annual Soup n Sip events.
12. How ridiculously temperate the weather has been (sometimes it annoys me it's not cold... but it sure was pleasant outside yesterday).
13. My folks steppin outside their comfort zone and trekking out to the vineyard.
14. Live Music.
15. All my friends and family I got to catch up with yesterday.
16. All my friends that came out to sip wine, soup, and snap photos yesterday.
17. The Harwell crew's cheese slaw.
18. A very long catch up session with Mr. Burns.
19. My childhood home.
20. Greenfield.
21. All the wonderful times in West Virginia at Thanksgiving.
22. Random Rancho dinners.
23. Time spent with a bearded Broughman.
24. All the beauty captured in the film "Tree of Life".
25. My tried and true CR-V.
26. Dairy Queen ice cream cake in my amazing bed.
27. A restful night's sleep.

And without further ado... a few images...

Friday, November 18, 2011


When the stars are twinkling
and the air is so crisp to highlight woodsmoke snaking through the valley
as well as my cheeks

This heart is set a flutter
by the beauty of these quiet moments.

In between illuminated spaces.
In between the men that don't fit in and the steady plodding ones.
In between the the thick hot nights and the nights filled with longer hours.

It is here this tired but strong dream smiles quiet relief to rest in a moment.

That seems more than enough... for now.

For a dreamer night's the only time of day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Turning adversity into opportunity

I really love storytelling.
That being said, I haven't quite known how to go about it lately. I find myself retreating to a more and more private place as my work, geographic location, and life goals take unexpected turns. Things felt a little more straight forward when I started this whole blog production : packing up my home, starting a 2,000 plus mile walk. I've told you how that went, I've told you about the ups and downs of cross country travel, time zone relocation, and eventually coming back to ground zero, where it all began.
I've enjoyed sharing all those stories with you.
My photography has been waning.
Somewhere shortly after returning to full time work after hiking the AT and traveling to Montana I took a serious turn away from intentional photography. I have quite a few images from all the years since my University of Montana graduation that could use some major editing and perhaps publication, but for the most part, the images which have been shot are quick snapshots of my life. Not terribly artistic or interesting. And I haven't been following through with them. I quickly document, and continue living.
Perhaps it could be argued artistically and internally I've needed this time. A quiet hibernation from seeing my world in shadows highlights and midtones; angles and depth of field. Maybe. But I miss it.
Much like grace and journeys of faith - how sometimes the most accessible easy answer is right before you if you only get over yourself and let it wash over you. But I haven't known how to return to the craft.
In the meantime life's been rolling along. I've moved multiple times. Worked multiple jobs. Made friends, kept friends, lost friends. Been haunted by ghosts of the past, elated over present loves and even new births (no no, not to ME, other people). And some weird stuff has happened to initiate a reevaluation with how public I want my life to be.
So the wrestling.
How to return to an art and craft that keeps my heart happy. How much of my inside process and outside surroundings to reveal to cyberspace.
And my current solution.... hey - it's a single step in the right direction.
I'm going to try to take / post at least a picture almost every day. No rigid guidelines (artists aren't into that ;) just a daily discipline to ease back in the storytelling pool.
Wish me luck! Check out the pics in the slideshow to the right.
And if you've noticed or are disappointed / curious as to more details of my life/ story, don''t hesitate to message me. Cyberstalking is a little too new school for me sometimes.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

yeah october

A few weeks ago when I was playing hostel hostess in my spacious home I had 3 guests non so impressed with my energy conservation... "it's cold in here! if we wanted to camp we'd go to the woods!..." not saying... just saying... so I turned on my heat, for the first time. This October has been warmer than Virginia Octobers of my past, and aside from a few chilly days, tonight is still one of the first cold fall nights.
The leaves and light are so lovely. Every fall and spring as clouds and winds roll through a landscape I think my heart may burst from the lovliness of it all.
I haven't been writing or photographing much the past year ish. It's a quiet time for me. But on this cold windy fall night, after homemade quiche, wine, and girl time (heeeyyyy)I just want to pause for a moment and share the warmth and joy of this season.
It's weird having a season change while I don't live and work outside. I've had a few mini adventures, but could definitely go for a few day trip sometime soon. Lately I'm adventuring in the wild wonderful world of weddings and town meanderings. It's no Missoula... but mostly a nice change. I got just what I wanted with scaling back work hours in order to have a personal life, and I continue to be blessed by stumbling into new friendships and continuing those in place before this Roanoke return.
The light may not be so lovely for long, the friendly inspiration and warmth may or may not stick around as nights are filled with longer hours.
But for now... I'm basking in love and joy with every falling leaf and heartfelt giggle.
hope you are too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

ice capades

Most of the time work is so busy there is little opportunity to get to know my co workers, though they seem kind and helpful. Sometimes we catch quick glimpses of who the other is outside of black polos and coffee cadences. Mary Beth is moving to Nashville, excited about the raised veggie garden out back of her house. Cat used to bike 14 miles to and from work in Louisville. Ashanti is hilarious. Tracey is a River kid. And more than I would've guessed have religious interests.
I'm not really sure what anyone thinks of me or how much they know. I love new scenes, so much opportunity. Yesterday while I was getting ice Nathan asked me what I want to be when I grew up.
THE question.
The one nearly everyone asks me in some form or another the past decade. It is a RARE day that goes by when no one brings up this quandary. My bank account hauntingly echoes this open ended query. And most people ask it with various subtext, but they all want to know. And in various questioners and various situations I have different responses. I should probably confess my responses are rarely welcoming to the question.
The thing is, I guess I don't really understand the people that ask it. We have to make some money to buy some stuff and exist. So that's why people work - and they enjoy having a purpose. But the amount of money and work people need to feel consequently successful or purposeful is very dynamic, perhaps as dynamic as any reasons any creature would have to self propel thousands of miles. And I can't really answer that question either.
I mean- I grew up having what I needed and some things I wanted. Then spent all of my adult life being creative about how to live frugally while keeping my core values alive and well. Money.... has not been a big part of things... or perhaps the lack of money has. Do I feel successful and purposeful? In a different sort of way, sure.
The way I look at it there are a few big life questions traditionalists would REALLY like us to answer, and yes, sometimes I wonder these myself.

Where will you live?
Who will you love?
What work will you do?

Depending on where you're at in your life you will read these musings differently. I've prayed over these questions more times than I can count in the past decade. And sometimes they keep me up at night.

Life has a lot of big questions though... and I imagine answering those leads to the next chapter of questions... maybe someday I'll know more about that.

But standing in the dish room in Danskos that I HATE and a polo shirt that cramps my style, needing to dump the ice back out front I didn't really think about all of this.

I didn't get defensive or panicked thinking about the thousands of dollars invested in my college education. Or the ratio of jobs I've had that I've loved vs hated. Or the prospect of more school. Or what has/ is driving those decisions.

Before I could think my tongue spit out


And the rest of my mouth must've agreed from some place more wise than that part of myself that overanalyzes and processes EVERYTHING, because I was smiling.

My thoughts needed a second to catch up with my mouth, and still smiling I reconfirmed... "yeah. I just want to be happy"

"Looks like you're already there" he responded.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Mo Man!

August 29, 2004 Geronimo A. T. Casper was whelped to parents Brody J and Sadie Von Blue near Damascus Virginia.
That October he hid under a kitchen table in BoCo for a few days after coming to his new home, I sent him a stuffed squeeky hedgehog as his first toy.
That Novemeber we met for the first time over Thanksgiving, spent Christmas break together, and he flew to Montana in January.
We've been rambling together ever since. Here's to a great seven years G!
Love you mo every day!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Open the windows, the sun's subsiding

Summer simmers down with cool night breezes and hurricane season bringing rain to the mountains. I'm in my new home in my old neighborhood. Excited about the new job, still snagging hours at my tried and true place of employment. Community is quiet, but steadfast - with the promise of crescendo.
I find myself with more time and space to breathe than I remembered possible. It's refreshing, and disorienting. Geronimo is transitioning well, but insatiably bored most of the time with no pup friends to pal around with. I'd be right in that boat with him if it weren't for the years of catch up I have in photo and music editing. Here's to digital media...
I haven't QUITE got inspired back to the running/ biking scene... but I feel it coming... in due time. The past few weeks have required a lot of city life tweaking, nesting, pacing, and processing. Slow and sure I'm learning to be all here.
Latest Triumphs :
My first Crock Pot prepared meal (chili, got multiple thumbs up from a few unbiased buds)
Re-introduction to grocery shopping
Tasting and Articulating Coffee nuances
Showing up to work early! score!
Multiple hostess opportunities for oasis needing friends
Getting my very tiny kayak back on the river, back in some LEGIT waves
Not driving for days in a row. Woot Woot self propelled travel!
Getting off the waiting list, into the college class I need
R O C K I N G out

I guess that's about it for now. Once I really get this photo editing under control perhaps I'll share a few images. Hope you are well and the change of seasons breathes refreshing inspiration into your life.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee

Roughly a week ago I found myself on a surprisingly therapeutic float down the Lower New River. Among the epic surf and other awesomeness of our guide, Mike, I learned this story:
In the 1960's a little known boxer named Cassius Clay won his first professional match against Tunny Huntsinger, one of the best boxers at the time. Clay, later taking on the name Muhammed Ali, went on to be one of THE most famed boxers of all time. Huntsinger took the blow as a retirement enticement and returned to his hometown of Fayetteville, West Virginia, soon after becoming police chief for many years.
I might be botching the details of the story a little but from what I remember Ali and Huntsinger remained good friends, Ali even showed up for his police retirement celebration when the two were old men. Somewhere around that time a reporter asked Ali what the toughest match of his life was. Ali thought for awhile, before saying.... a lot of different matches in my career were tough for different reasons.... it's hard to pick just one. But I can tell you this - no boxer hit me harder than Tunny Huntsinger.

I've been thinking about the story a lot this past week. I'm working through the second consecutive seasonal transition of BIG change. Not that THAT in itself is new to my life, but it has me thinking about all the transitions and chapters that seem to come so quick these past five years. Montana to Virginia. Botetourt to Roanoke. Roanoke to nomad. Nomadding myself to Montana. Montana to Luray to pinball to..... Roanoke.
Each challenging and beautifully complicated in their own right. But if I had to choose - I don't think any has dealt a harder blow than Mountain Campus.
It amazes me - the content of a year. The ups and downs, triumphs and tribulations, the life lessons.
My time in Luray leaves me overflowing with all of that. And those lessons - their poignancy and real-ness making them equally valuable and sad.
As I sit here in a borrowed home, on the threshold of my next chapter I do not intend to dwell on the past or the in between, nor gloss over whatever pain or hurt the recent past has brought.
My hopeful prayer is to look the wound straight on-clean it and bandage it appropriately, change the dressings when needed, and someday - after it heals, be grateful for the scar stories it holds.
Those hard blows sting. I might spend a little time down for the count.... and those truths cycle through me.
perceiving then that they might take him by force he withdrew to the mountain, alone.
I will not abandon you nor leave you as orphans, I will come for you.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
These three remain - faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is Love.

And as far as the particulars of Mountain Campus boxing matches... I'm comforted knowing I left every ounce of energy I had on the court.

Here's to fall. Ready or not.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice

The longest day of the year ended in the most appropriate way. With lightening darting across the mountains, making spiderwebs through stormy skies covering the Roanoke Valley. I drive too fast through sheets of rain with the radio too loud, wind tumbling in my windows.
Breathe, grin, release.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

6.19. first night

The way these lightening bugs sparkle
has me wondering if the stars came down to earth
as clouds move through my fingers
and rain exhales into my chest.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


One of my recent fascinations with a landscape is the color pallete it uses. Here in a saturated Shenandoah spring the world is blue. Blue mountains with a lush green foreground, the sky a hazy light blue.
As sun sets these mountains ripple into a blue sea, wave upon ridge. It's thick this evening. Still not hot enough to be oppressive, but moisture so visible you could part the air like curtains. And I've come to Hawksbill Creek.
Fathers walk with shoulder riding daughters, middle aged couples power walk beside one another - with ear buds in. Little town - it's a quiet village.
Sitting in the concrete pour spout just above the creek I can see a bird the size of my fist splashing about. I wish I could identify more eastern wildlife. A few key things I know - mountain laurel are radiant right now, honey suckle are scenting the hillsides, and Maddie says the size of blackberry flowers are promising for fruit in a few months.
There are so few moments in my life in Luray to sit back and absorb. Ours is a busy life of 1.5 activities, new students, shifting school groups, and enough sleep as we can muster. That part I am not sad to leave.
But turning new life chapters frequently presents itself with hopes and fears, and lately I have many fixated thoughts on - "what next?". As if we ever really know.
I've been thinking a lot about passion and joy. How my frequency and capacity for it has shifted so much the past 10 years And how lately, in what feels like the brink of walking deeper into bright happy places the dark stormy sides of me tug to not cross that threshold.
I guess we're currently in the middle of a month of hard work and busy weekends. Between that, a looming new chapter, and all the unanswered questions I suppose I've worked myself into a place with the Mean Reds.
I suppose this dusky creek is my Tiffany's. The only thing to calm me down. The quiet proud look of it- nothing bad could happen here. But then again, I guess Audrey's feelings about a jewelry store don't exactly relate to Bek and a creek. Last week this creek was flooded - something bad DEFINITELY could've happened here, but maybe for me it's more important to be in a place with the capacity for great calm or great turbulence and feel fluid with it.
Mint, chamomile and freshwater funk mix with a distant cigarette and my subdued lime-coconut lotion.
Steve asked me this week why I love to be outside. Without much thought I told him I love the wildness and freedom I have there. It's been strange to me in this Luray job how infrequently I feel wild or free. I hope the youngins I work with feel that.
My prayer is that whatever comes after June there will be laughter, reflection, business, quiet times, and that love which is present will overcome fear and hurt from the past.

And that a river runs through it.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


So, it's been awhile.
Life's been throwing me a lot of surprises - the type that feel better living through than writing about.
The quick version is I moved stayed at Camp Bethel for a month with Seyra before moving back to Luray mid March. Through that move a lot of torn feelings surfaced about wanting to continue the life I had lived in the winter - plugged into church community, Outdoor Trails friends, and other Roanoke area buds - in a place where I know folks and can help them by staying in that community. Through City Light Groups my continued prayer request was - not my will but your's be done Lord, and I dragged my feet pouting north to Luray.
But Spring is no time to pout. And after a few busy weeks life turned down a few interesting side trails. I have realized Sheridan is a remarkable company to work for and feel very blessed to be employed by a progressive approachable employer and bosses. Our schedule is crazy sometimes, the kids are too talkative sometimes, but overall I finally know all my ropes set up knots (though I'm still a little shakey on the muenter mule) and feel solid about my role as an Outdoor Educator. The nights are still chilly, breeze is fresh, and the canopy has been renewed. It rains- a lot - and I can feel myself refreshed, growing.
I miss my girlfriends this season. My good bud from summer/ fall has moved on to Arizona. And my other gal pal has been working on personal stuff, so there is a bittersweet longing to make more quality girl time happen in "off" time. I might have a shopping date with Morgan tomorrow morning- ohhhh yeah. =)
I've been getting back south to B'tot A LOT on my many weekends off. It's blissful. Though I find myself needing a few weekends here and there to detox and totally recoup around Shenandoah -no major travel or plans, just rest.
Regarding Matters of the Heart - for the first time in a long time, I am decidedly with someone who is holistically wonderful to be with. Who he is, who we are together, and who I am with and apart from him leaves me joyful.
It's a good season.
In a short month and a half life will turn over again as my year contract in Luray comes to a close. It will be a time for big decisions and new chapters. Please pray that God illuminates the path ahead as much as needed and that in each surprise I will see blessing and joy - rain or shine.
I'll try to keep you posted =)

Friday, February 25, 2011


I just found two lone bags of "Montana Gold" tea amongst herbal cold care nastiness. Jackpot.
The first time I had Roobioos (African red bush tea) I was in a hospitable stranger's home in Manchester Center, Vermont - warm, dry, clean, and recharging - what a simple blessing for a weary foot traveler.
Today is another weary, rainy, sublimely calm day. My only tasks until 5:30 are -keep the fire going in the wood stove, coax Geronimo to go out in the rain, feast with Sarah and pop enough mucus expectorant and pain pills to be able today to photograph a 3 month old this weekend.
My new home is in a wooded park-like glen where spring-fed streams and ponds flow and trout spawn. I have lived here a week - and despite the business in the rest of my life I still manage quiet walks through fields of mountain valleys, and explorative jaunts upstream on Wilson Creek.
I hope to take it up to the ridge soon and find the AT shelter where I spent the first of many nights on my 2008-2009 journey.
My new housemate is beautiful. We begin our days with laughter, take to the world outside our doors with gusto and commitment, and wind down with counseling and wonder.
My new church is the closest thing to living "christ" community I've experienced in 5 years (save my brief time at Missoula's Lions Den). And although face-to-face time promises to be short lived with my March 26th return to Luray - each moment with them is radiant and heart-felt.
I am in my second week of physical therapy. I pout more than I should about 3ish hours of stretches and strengthening exercises every day, but I am excited about the idea of relieving tension, realigning, and feeling strong.... eventually.
Geronimo can't the squirrels out our window from his bed. But he knows the peace this chilly, grey, wet day brings. And even he is beginning to enjoy our little cabin.
Each drink of south african inspired Montana goodness brings soothing to my sore throat, and all I can think is - thank you God, for this simple happy season.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Gotta Get Home This Year

I was trying to remember how I've rung in the last decade of New Years. MOST years have been pretty straight forward since joining the Outdoor Trails family; meet up with Scott and camp out in Arcadia with the Odyssey Adventure Racing / OT crew, but there have been a few exceptions. The year Cindy and I danced around while Stewart was at work, the year I spent my first night in Allendale, the year I brought a brief beau to North Creek, the year I depressingly just went to bed around 9pm, and one of my favorites; cross country skiing in Glacier National Park.
After some mental sifting I realized none of those New Years Eve activities necessarily dictated what the rest of that year would bring. Which helped me overcome the disappointment of a canceled New England adventure, and the search for *the epic awesome* experience that would perfectly culminate 2010 and ring in 2011.
Not to be a grinch - I mean, I've been having a wonderful Christmas - New Years week. But isn't it funny? the emphasis and stress we put on having perfect holiDAYs? Isn't any day just as likely to be epic and amazing as the rest? And isn't it most likely that the memories we'll cherish most are moments of surprise? Honestly most planning just stresses me out and predisposes me to have expectations. What a slippery slope - expectations.
So I relaxed, threw on a black dress, cowboy boots and some mascara and spent the evening with laid back buddies at an over crowded bar downtown enjoying live music. This morning I spent hours cultivating creative endeavors and found myself wandering the streets of Fincastle on a rainy afternoon with Carrie.
After days of shifting plans and surprises our conversation revealed all the beauty of letting go, living from faith, joy in surprises, and the timelessness of friendship.
On my chilly rainy drive to meet Carrie, Virginia Coalition's "Gotta Get Home This Year" pumped from my stereo speakers. A song I became smitten with about this time last year.
"Something I can't live without. Something like a perfect destination. If I get there, I swear I'm never leaving. Oh it's there I know I can believe it. Gotta get home this year...."
And that elusive lesson which so frequently slips out of my wisdom resurfaced. That home is fluid. And life is more about where you're at internally than externally.
So I suppose if I were to have a new years resolution it would be about that. To live from an internal place of "home". And to balance my life in a way which encourages me to do this.
What are the hopes and fears of your year?