mayacama mama

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I was reading the YaleNews and came across this quote by composer John Adams, “You have to get to that level of abject humility to finally get to the point of being receptive, then ideas come. Usually when they come they’re dressed in extremely shabby clothes. You just have to go with it.” 

His thoughts on creativity reminded me of what Andrea Scher and Laurie Wagner said to the group of us on the “Opening the Creative Channel Retreat” two weekends ago. They said we had to be willing to write poorly, do art poorly.  It’s in letting go of the need to do things perfectly that we are free to be creative. We just have to show up and be willing to make a mess.  This freedom to make a mess everyday keeps me going because if I waited for perfection to show up, I’d never get anything done.

This is Day 21 of the Write 31 Days series. Other posts in the series can be found here.

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A Conversation with Zoey


Zoey: “Mommy, where’s my capskip?” It’s nearly 8pm and my brain is starting to shutdown. I have to think hard for a moment until I realize she’s asking for “chapstick.”  I find the chapstick and give it to her. She says, “when Zane gets bigger he can have an orange bottle of capskip like you and daddy have a green bottle of capskip.”

I hear less and less of Zoey’s “mom” these days.  My little girl is returning to me.  She still calls me “Jessi” sometimes to get my attention but even that is occurring less and less. Sometimes I’ll look at her and wonder what she’ll be like 5 years from now and then 10 years from now. How will she be the same? How will she be different?

“Motherhood is raw and pure. It is fierce and gentle. It is up and down. It is magic and madness. Single days last forever and years fly by . . . Be gentle with yourself as you travel, dear mother. Don’t miss the scenery. Don’t miss the conversation with your traveling companions. Laugh at the bumps and say ‘ooh, aah!’ on the hairpin turns. Buckle your seatbelt. You’re a mom!”
Aviva Romm, M.D.

Today is Day 20 of the Write 31 Days series. Other posts in the series can be found here.


Sometimes You Have to Change Your Expectations


We had a pleasant drive this morning to Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve, about a 30 minute drive from our house.  We were the first to arrive in the parking lot, but soon after the lot filled up with hikers.  We ate our lunch first at picnic tables just outside the trailhead.  I brought an old camera along that I gave Zoey to use.  She got busy taking about 20 or so photographs of the trees, her boots, Zane’s leg, and my forehead. The weather was perfect for a hike–cool but not cold. We finished eating lunch and started our hike.  We passed a man who was returning to the parking lot.  Zoey noticed he had no shoes on.  We imagined what it would feel like to hike barefoot through the woods. After about hiking for 5 minutes or so, Zoey announced she had to poop.  So back to the parking lot we walked. After her business was done, she said she was tired.  She was yawning and looked beat.  Although sometimes I must admit I’d like to be superhero mom, I’m really not. I couldn’t really carry Zane in the Ergo and Zoey in my arms while hiking. So despite the perfect day for hiking and my desire to spend some time among the redwood trees, we drove back home. The two kids fell asleep in the car and when we got home Zoey vomited on the couch. But we had a lovely drive and picnic lunch among the trees and that’s what counts.

Today is Day 19 of the Write 31 Days series. Other posts in the series can be found here.


Pumpkin Festival

IMG_0515Today Zoey, Zane, and I went into town to experience Ukiah’s pumpkin festival. It started with a parade of trucks from various local businesses hauling kids around who waved at those of us standing on the street. I have never felt as much a part of small town America as I did today.





The mom of one of Zoey’s school friends apologized saying it was better last year. To be honest, I’m not one to get excited about parades.  When Stephen and I lived in Pasadena we walked over to see the Rose Parade one year and it was fun to see the floats, but I really could care less if I missed it every year, which I do because we only have Apple TV. There were various vendors for several blocks, and kids’ activities–a big slide, ferris wheel, inflatable jumpers, a car merry-go-round, face painting, and rock climbing wall. Zoey was too young for many of the kid activities, but she was able to ride the cars and crawl through the hay maze.  She had fun with her friend, and I’m sure this will be a yearly event that we’ll attend even after we move to our ranch.


This is Day 18 of the Write 31 Days series.  Other posts in the series can be found here.


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Today’s post is written by Stephen.

One peculiar thing we have learned after moving to Northern California is the widespread tolerance of the booming marijuana industry, not only by the local population, but seemingly by local law enforcement, too.  While medical marijuana has been legal in California for years, the scale of pot gardens in the cities and mountains around towns clearly overwhelms any demand that arises from medical uses.  There is a kind of “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” attitude where everyone knows what is going on, and growing is largely accepted, unless it is done on someone else’s property or appropriates someone else’s water or pollutes the environment.

Last year after we bought our land, we learned that our neighbor, who had no wells, was using a generator to pump water from our lake to his gardens, which required hundreds of gallons a day.  This year he is not using our water.

In Southern California, where there are hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries, weed is certainly prevalent in society.  However, Los Angeles and SoCal have a diverse economy with a large variety of industries.  Not so in Mendocino county.  Marijuana, along with grapes, drives the local economy.  Almost everyone we have met has some story to tell about growing, or a neighbor or family or friends growing pot.

At harvest, which is about this time of year, local grocery and hardware stores stock up on turkey bags and other supplies needed to process weed.

Where we currently live, the aroma of marijuana plants is in the air outside our house and when we walk down the street.  At our ranch, almost all of our neighbors are growing this year or grew last year for “medical use.”

With legalization already the law in Colorado and Washington, it is obviously just a matter of time before marijuana laws in California are changed to reflect the cultural changes taking place.  We will have to wait and see what legalization will do to the local underground economy.

Today is Day 17 of the Write 31 Days series.  Other posts in the series can be found here.



When I was five, my dad drove our family across the country in his Toyota truck with the Lance camper on top.  My sister and I rode in the camper without seat belts of course. The story goes that my sister spent most of her time in the bed above while I sat perched on the little porta potty, singing along to Barry McGuire’s Bullfrogs and Butterflies Agapeland cassette tape the whole way across the country.

This morning in between bites of waffle, Zoey was singing “and we’ll all have chicken and dumplings when she comes, oh we’ll all have chicken and dumplings when she comes.” I told her I love to hear her sing but that she needed to finish eating her breakfast first before singing. I think I passed on my singing gene to her.

Today is Day 16 of the Write 31 Days series. My other posts in the series can be found here.


This Morning


What if I were to tell you I had one of those mornings I contemplated running out the door and never looking back? My husband usually drives our daughter Zoey to preschool, and there’s a reason for that. What if I were to tell you I was feeding my 7 month old son Zane pureed apples and blueberries, while cooking bacon and zucchini on the stove, and trying to kill a pesky fly in the process? What if I were to tell you Zoey asked for kombucha in her bunny cup, which I poured for her and then she spilled it onto the floor and got her doll “Annabelle” all wet? What if I were to tell you five minutes before we needed to head out the door Zane pooped through his diaper and got his pajamas soiled? What if I were to tell you while changing Zane’s poopy diaper and getting him clean clothes, I took Zoey’s dress off because she never wears real pajamas to bed anymore–just a dress will do for her, and got her dressed in her pink pants, butterfly shirt, and snowman socks? What if I were to tell you that as I walked out to the living room to get Zane in his car seat to walk out the door, Zoey announced she didn’t need socks after all because she was going to wear her flip flops? What if I were to tell you I put those snowman socks back on her, while tears streamed down her face as she told me she wanted her “Tessa” shoes?f What if I were to tell you I took Zane out to the car, found Zoey’s Tessa shoes, brought them back in while Zane cried in the car? What if I were to tell you Zoey cried through her tears that she wanted her Hello Kitty socks but I wouldn’t let her change her socks because we were already ten minutes late getting out the door? What if I were to tell you as I drove her to school, I put on her favorite Music Together CD and she quietly started singing “Walking down my street feeling good in my feet, boom lacka lacka lacka boom, boom, boom”?

Today is Day 15 in the Write 31 Days series. You can find my other posts in the series here.




A Blessing


May you recognize in your life the presence, power, and light of your soul.
May you realize that you are never alone, that your soul in its brightness and belonging connects you intimately with the rhythm of the universe.
May you have respect for your own individuality and difference.
May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique, that you have a special destiny here, that behind the facade of your life there is something beautiful, good, and eternal happening.
May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride, and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.

                                   A Blessing of Solitude from Anam Cara by John O’Donohue

This is Day 14 in the Write 31 Days series.  My other posts in the series can be found here.


Ordinary Time


After the retreat ended yesterday afternoon, I felt called to attend Holy Spirit Church in Berkeley.  I attended Mass there as a graduate student whenever I could find a parking space. My prayer yesterday was, “Lord, if you want me to attend Mass, then help me find a parking space.” A few minutes after 5:00pm when I was about to give up and drive all the way home, I found a spot–a tight spot–but I got my car in that space.  And I made it to Mass. I remember quite a few times I was brought to tears attending Mass there.  Yesterday was no different. The priest called all those having birthdays in October to walk up to the sanctuary. Back in graduate school if that happened, which I don’t recall it ever did, I would have stayed rooted in my pew.  But being the braver version of myself today, I marched right up there with the other October birthdays and received a blessing.  I figure if someone wants to pray over me–go right ahead.  Who doesn’t need positive energy sent their way?

Today is Day 13 of the Write 31 Days series. You can find my other posts in this series here.

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The Return

DSC_0041Leaving Alameda this afternoon to make the drive back home. Here’s a poem I heard yesterday.

Everything on the Menu
By Ellen Bass

In a poem it doesn’t matter
if the house is dirty.  Dust
that claims the photographs like a smothering
love.  Sand spilled from a boy’s sneaker,
the faceted grains scattered on the emerald rug
like the stars and planets of a tiny
solar system.  Monopoly
butted up against Dostoyevsky.
El techo, a shiny sticker, labeling the ceiling
from the summer a nephew studied Spanish.

Mold on bread in the refrigerator
is as interesting as lichen on an Oak—
its miniscule hairs like the fuzz
on an infant’s head, its delicate
blues and spring greens, its plethora of spores,
whole continents of creatures, dazzling our palms.

In a poem, life and death are equals.
We receive the child, crushed
like gravel under a tire.
And the grandfather at the open grave
holding her small blue sweatshirt to his face.
And we welcome the baby born
at daybreak, the mother naked, squatting
and pushing in front of the picture window
just as the garbage truck roars up
and men jump out, clanking
metal cans into its maw.

In a poem, we don’t care if you got hired
or fired, lost or found love,
recovered or kept drinking.
You don’t have to exercise
or forgive.  We’re hungry.
We’ll take everything on the menu.

In a poem, joy and sorrow are mates.
They lie down together, their hands
all over each other, fingers
swollen in mouths,
nipples chafed to flame, their sexes
fitting seamlessly as day and night.
They arch over us, glistening and bucking,
the portals through which we enter our lives.

From:  “Mules of Love

Today is Day 12 of the Write 31 Days series.  You can find my other posts in the series here.