Tag Archives: natural beauty

Two Illustrations from Nature…


It is the weekend my Dad died nine years ago. It is the week a dear friend died one year ago. A coworker just had a miscarriage. A close friend is going through a divorce.

Illustration number one: This week I was at a work retreat up the coast. There was pine, dry grass, and dirt that acts like chalk on your shoes. The sunrise was obscured by a heavy fog being blown over the hill. As I climbed the hill I stepped into a copse of pine. I turned my head into the breeze to catch the wind in my ears and I caught another sound. It was so loud I looked around for what could cause this “pat pat pat”. Droplets had formed on the tip of every needle of every pine. I thought of the fog, how like grief, heavy, pervasive, and obscuring the view at three feet. And I thought of the trees, every day reaching out and into; by will and persistence making tangible something good and life-giving, watering themselves.

Illustration number two: Today we drove down the coast. We stopped just south of Linda Mar at a battery held aloft still by a truculent chunk of granite. High above the water and rocks, the walkway around seemed to drop out of sight with a certainty that made me hold my three-year-old’s hand tighter. Surely it would mean death to ever step past that edge. And yet, as we walked closer, we were surprised to find slopes, not gentle, but like many things in life, surprisingly survivable.



This Morning…


The beautiful San Francisco spring has sprung and this morning the weather was perfect. So, I hustled two babies through breakfast and into shoes. We were going to meet some friends at Crissy Field.

I drove past Lake St. and the elegant signs that forbid tour busses and vans over ten passengers from going further. I turned right on El Camino Del Mar where every house presents a lavish example of a particular style. The houses hide the view, but at the intersections the Golden Gate Bridge appears large and startlingly close. Then the houses stop halfway down a block where they meet the Presidio woods.

The road twists left as soon as its free of the confining lines of the neighborhood and in a breath we’re on the bluffs with the ocean’s arms open wide below us. All of the hills and ups and downs of the city are lost to the long flat line of blue horizon. The smell is salty and woodsy, the eucalyptus and cypress leave a tangy sensation in your nostrils. In the quiet moments when I stop at a cross walk the cacophony of bird noises breaks through.

The breeze is cool through the window, unchanging in temperature even as you slip from shadow to sun between the trees. Drawing a curving path through the Presidio I still have to follow the google map directions. The roads run into each other and stop, I have to make three turns to continue in the right direction.

We pass clusters of brick houses left over from the Presidio’s army post days. The yards are trim, sloping up from short stone walls. I find myself wondering as I always do what it would be like to live in one of these red brick houses with clean white trim and large square windows, to live in a forest at the edge of a city. The bikers and tour busses are scarce on a Friday morning at just past nine.

We turn left out of the Presidio onto the long flat road that demarcates the water’s edge. I make a wrong turn, of course, because I’ve only been there a zillion times and have to turn around. And then we arrive in the small parking strip tight up against a steep slope over hung with peeling eucalyptus fingering the breeze.

The Warming Hut is open, people emerge with their paper cups, all plastic pieces one hundred percent compostable. The dogs are off leash, the only law the responsible citizens of San Francisco tend to ignore. Trim people jog by and there are many mothers with babies like me. Fishing lines trail off the pier. Pelicans fly overhead like an arrow, of one mind pointing towards China Beach and their breakfast. We’ve seen them there in the mornings dropping suddenly from the sky, slapping the water in a feathered sort of belly flop. Apparently, all more graceful methods of catching fish have been proven less effective.

And as we walk down the sandy path we see that someone has plucked some order from the stony beach and tall rock pinnacles precariously balanced rise here and there in stiff salute. I’m told by my friend that it’s the work of a quiet old Asian man. The Chronicle did a piece on him. He said it was his zen.

The sun can only be friendly in the company of the breeze. It warms my right temple and winks at me over the rims of my sunglasses. I keep my sweatshirt on and take my shoes off. The bright red bridge consumes the view to my left, quite unaware that she is an icon. The sailboats go in and out under her like indecisive chicks. Alcatraz lies low over my daughter’s shoulder. Sometimes the waves get louder and I look up to catch the disappearing wake of a cargo tanker already distant. And the rounded shoulders of Marin across the bay tend to ignore me, as they always do, facing the sea, always out to the open sea.

And we play in the sand and make new friends and we run away from the waves and then we run into them and we get incredibly dirty and eat sandy cheese sticks anyway and squeal when the water insists on slurping the sand out from beneath our toes.

And I remind myself again that I live here in this beautiful place and I’m alive for this beautiful day and these are my beautiful people. And I think in recognizing it and going to all the trouble to write it down and describe it to you I have done something that works in this crazy long history of the world like gratitude. I hope so, anyway, because I am grateful.

Off Topic…


When I first started this blog I was curious to see what I would end up writing about.

I wrote for a few months rather secretly, not really advertising myself to any of my near or dear. I just wanted to see which topics would present themselves.

For example, I had a recipe page initially that was going to have all the cool recipes I was going to share with you. But, as it turned out, those recipes never happened. (Thank goodness, too right?! It’s a miracle if something gets baked, you want me to stop and take pictures?!)

My topics have revealed themselves to be motherhood, Christianity, and the creative life. (Oh, yeah, and zombie poems.) That’s plenty, I think. Don’t you? (There’s always room for zombie poems.)

Because of this, you, dear reader, have been spared much. I will only mention it here to give you a little insight into what exactly Barbara wastes her time on and perhaps a bit of relief that she’s not wasting your time on it, too.

This month, you have been spared my obsessive exploration into natural beauty.

It’s quite a list, shall we begin?

For starters, I didn’t post my coconut milk shampoo recipe.

“Honey, didn’t you just buy shampoo?”

“But this is coconut milk shampoo. It’s so much healthier for your hair.”

Nor did I post the subsequent week’s worth of pictures showing the oil slick that was my hair before I adjusted the recipe. I walked around like it was totally normal. My husband didn’t say a word.

I haven’t burdened you with my new nightly beauty routine of oil cleansing. Yes, that is correct, oil cleansing. I haven’t used soap (or lotion) on my face for two weeks. Instead I rub a mixture of castor oil and sunflower oil all over my face and let it sit for a minute before gently dabbing it off.

“What is that stuff?”

“Castor oil and sunflower oil.”

“Does it work?”

“Yes! It’s amazing!”

(Husband stares at absolutely hideous blemish painfully mounding the surface of my skin below my mouth.)

“It says it pulls all the impurities up to the surface for the first week or so.”

But seriously, it’s amazing. And, in a few days now, my complexion will be flawless.

I did not link to the many articles I have read this month on the beneficial attributes of gelatin. I didn’t post the recipes to all the bone-in soups I was going to make. Nor did I link to the gelatin product on amazon that I recently purchased and added to my tea tonight. You were not subjected to a picture of my tea (which looked like tea) nor a description of how it tasted (like jello, go figure). It was surprisingly filling. I couldn’t quite finish it.

I didn’t review my homemade electrolyte drink. Which was super yummy but, for some reason, no one drank it.

I haven’t talked about my homemade remineralizing toothpaste, which still totally rocks after four years.

I won’t even tell you how close I was to becoming a representative for an essential oil company this month. I just won’t.

All this I have spared you.

You’re welcome.