Sunday, September 18, 2011

The End of A L o o o ong Year..., And The Beginnings Of A New Blog.

Hello Everyone,

Its been a long time since I last wrote - almost 5 months.  When I came home from Mexico I was well rested and felt very relaxed, despite a broken toe (but I won't go into that!)  I had spent 6 days with the Pacific Ocean outside my bedroom window, the sweet and gentle company of my friend B, squawkings of parrots and the delights of exotic flowers and trees, food and art - all of it, so very different from my daily life - and just like my Dad used to say "A Change Is As Good As A Rest," and I had both...   Now I understand how a place can change a person... I definitely felt changed on returning from Mexico (in a good way,)  Having had those days to do absolutely nothing if I wanted to - which I opted to do every day... and I came to realize how busy I make my life, and filled with things that are not necessarily the best use of my time.

SOOOOO..., on returning, I let go of some of the busyness (including A Year Of Finding Love.)  I travelled alone to England to visit my sister for a couple of weeks, which was blissful..., especially staying in North Yorkshire with my Nieces and their children...  We took long walks in the countryside, and reminisced about old times and laughed at the silly stuff of life.... And again, I experienced a great sense of replenishing and healing.  I felt awash in love for and from my family..., and it was hard to leave them all...

Yet I was very relieved  to arrive in Seattle and be met by CG...  Coming home after a long trip was so very curious...  Walking in the house and being met by the dogs, the familiar smell of the place and the reassuring connection to the belonging and furniture that we've accrued over the years... it was so very satisfying and comforting to be back to ones "nest."

This summer I have learned that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE going to new places and seeing new things, and learning about new places and get filled with inspiration, which feeds a big part of me... and then - I LOVE to return home... - to my nest, my sacred space...

So with great fondness I bid "A Year Of Finding Love" farewell and invite you to visit my new blog "Neinah's Nest."

Please click on this link if you'd like to visit - I'd love to hear from you:)

With Love,


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Saying Adios To Paradise...

Well, its time to bid farewell to B. and head home to the frigid north...

I leave with wonderful memories of this beautiful place, and shared experiences with a wonderful friend and healer.

Rather than write words, I will let my photographs do the talking, I have loved sharing this experience with you, and so thank you for all your lovely emails and comments...

I feel like I barely scratched the surface of knowing this place its culture and its people... 

So, until the next time I will say "Adios Mexico"...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bat Watching...

Last night after dark, B and I shared a most wonderful experience...

Standing just a few feet away from this most bizarre tree in her garden...
(have you ever seen anything so fantastic & peculiar?)

We held our breath, becoming an audience of two... it felt as if we were in the middle of a filming of a National Geographic Special on fruit bats.. 

These little leather winged creatures swooped and zoomed silently amongst the branches to bury their heads deep into the nectar filled flowers, (as seen above) from this very strange "Gourd Tree." 

The Flowers seem to grow right out of the tree trunk and have a most unusual odor... which the bats seem to find irresistible....  - I can tell because the morning after it looks like they had a grand old time with spent flowers all over the place...  

What a great example of symbiosis... The tree gets pollinated and can set fruit, and the Bats get drunk on the wine from the flowers... - what a wonderful relationship... 

I wish I had photo's to share of the bats, but their much to fast, and the light is not sufficient...

However, this morning, as I pondered the loveliness of the bat and what a treat it had been to behold I wondered about the symbolism and meaning of bats in native cultures... and here's what I found...

Though much maligned in more modern cultures, the  bat in native cultures is thought to be highly sensitive to its surroundings, and therefore a symbol of intuition, dreaming & Vision, and is considered a powerful totem to shamans & medicine people...  Bats ability to "see" in the night allows them to see through illusion, go to inner depths, and used in journeying.  

Bat is powerful medicine, encouraging us to release fear and any old patterns which no longer fit in with new patterns of growth.. and therefore symbolizes new beginnings, trusting ones instincts and rebirth...

Powerful stuff... - hope you enjoyed.



Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Joys Of Traveling...

I LOVE to travel to new places, for many reasons, but here
are a few...

I get to see new and different faces, like this one...

..and this one...

I get to try new foods...
Lime & Chili Salt covered Papaya... for breakfast..mmmm...

I always look forward to spotting new and wonderful bird friends... these two orange breasted parakeets... 

..or this very illusive bird who comes in the morning just to drink 
from the gorgeous flowers of this dew drenched tree...
(sorry the photo isn't clearer, its a miracle I captured any image of him..
but that's what I love... the challenge of it all...)..

... And I absolutely love to photograph the creativity of others, expressed in so many
colorful, beautiful and unique ways... in the kitchen,, oooh the colors here are sublime... doves seem in intimate gaze...

 ...detail of hand painted wardrobe...

...the beauty and ingenuity of local architecture...

There so much to see, so much to do, thank you for dropping by and sharing with me...



Saturday, April 16, 2011

From Tulips To Tropical...



Which is exactly what I did when my friend B. invited me to stay with her at her beautiful family home in Mexico

Its quite remarkable how life can change on a dime, 11 days ago, I had no idea that I would be booking a flight to leave the cold and grey of the Pacific Northwest (where we are all longing for the elusive spring weather to show up.)  And now, I find myself here,  in the tropics enjoying fabulous 82 degree temperatures, lathering myself in spf 30 sunscreen sitting under giant "palapas," drinking chilled hibiscus tea by the gallon fantasizing about what life would be like to live somewhere sunny and cheery, warm and colorful everyday....?  Sort of like when our family went from having a black and white t.v to a full technicolor t.v in the 1970's... (it was a radical shift for us!) 

See what you think...

Looking over tiled roofs, Orchid and Palm trees to the Pacific Ocean...

Surfing all day till the sun sets...

Afternoon tea in the shade of an Orchid Tree...

Plants that bedazzle...

And flowers that bloom year round...

Its easy to see the allure, this is a very special place.   

As I sit and listen to the flocks of the dearest little green parrots arguing as they fly over the house and sip my iced tea, I feel layer upon layer of stress falling away.

This place is working its magic on me and I feel a healing taking place... - So glad my friend asked...

So glad I said "YES."

With love, 
from Mexico.


Sunday, April 10, 2011


At the moment the local markets are filled with myriads of brilliantly colored tulips, making me believe that Spring must have arrived... - surely???

But then, just a few days ago, as I drove to work and left a few pale shafts of early morning sun behind me, I found myself driving into a snowstorm...!  Thankfully it was short lived, and a little later in the day, the sun came back, making me appreciate all the more those short sweet little sunburst moments... AND tulips because they are exquisite harbingers of spring, and their multitude of colors brighten my day (regardless of what the weather may bring.)

So, dear ones, in celebration of spring (which is just around the corner,) here's a lovely poem for you and a few more photo's to brighten your day...



The tulips make me want to paint,
Something about the way they drop
Their petals on the tabletop
And do not wilt so much as faint,

Something about their burnt-out hearts,
Something about their pallid stems
Wearing decay like diadems,
Parading finishes like starts,

Something about the way they twist
As if to catch the last applause,
And drink the moment through long straws,
And how, tomorrow, they’ll be missed.

The way they’re somehow getting clearer,
The tulips make me want to see
The tulips make the other me
(The backwards one who’s in the mirror,

The one who can’t tell left from right),
Glance now over the wrong shoulder
To watch them get a little older
And give themselves up to the light.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A New Sacred Place...

Peace and Quiet

Yesterday I visited a gem of a place on this little island.  My friend Dianne  who is a fabulous fountain of fascinating facts relating to feminine awesomeness and all round cheerleader and great friend, recently told me about this place, and recommended I check it out.

Despite living in the area since 1993, clearly, there are still wonderful surprises that I have yet to discover about this corner of our world.

This little park, has a great and healing atmosphere with its exquisite views of the water, under-stated asian style landscape -  that doesn't distract from the natural beauty that surrounds, but also lends a person to go inside and experience ones own inner landscape....

Everything has obviously been done with so much care and thought... here's a few more photo's so you can see what I mean...

A wise owl welcomes visitors...

A smiling fox (or bear) beckons..

A Tibeten Prayer Wheel... look at the detail...

Surrounding the base is this quote...

"Faith is the daring of the soul to go further than it can see"

This was such a treat, and my first experience with a prayer wheel.  It's presence added great tenor and quiet import to the park.

As directed, I slowly turned the wheel nine times clockwise and said a prayer, on completion of the ninth turn the sound of a deep toned bell resonated from within the hollow wheel, its vibrations moved inside me to my core.

Sitting down, I was able to receive a respite from my over active mind and just be at ease with myself and the world - at least for a little while...

Needless to say, I plan to visit this sacred place often.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Finding My Way Home...

For the past five or six months I have been struggling to write and be creative and reach out.

Its as if my creativity has been held hostage by my emotions...   These past few months, I have experienced loss, betrayal, heartbreak, moved homes, had niggling health issues and little by little my appetite and love of writing, photography, blogging, cooking, art have been edited out of my daily life...

During this time of heartache, it would seem natural to by kind and gentle, to feed myself tender morsals of  inspiration, little truffles of delight to coax myself back to my center,  back to my alive and vital self but rather, I have struggled - literally my heart just wasn't in "it" - or anything for that matter, and rather than nourish, I have starved myself of expression.

When I started "A Year Of Finding Love," I really thought that I could write every single day about some reflection of love..  some might say (naively) that I didn't plan for those little moments when the road of life hits a pothole or two, and gets messy, or someone you love dies... I didn't take into consideration the impact of life's "little circumstances"  and how they might throw me off course for months on end...

But here's the ironic thing, denying my creativity is also the same as denying myself the opportunity to create myself back out of the world of grey-ness - its my escape ladder when the house is burning down... - I just figured that out - like... today!!!

After months in this state - and seeing no end in sight I've decided to tell myself in the immortal words of Cher in the movie "Moonstruck" (to Nicholas Cage,) "SNAP OUT OF IT" (I decided the words are enough and no, I don't need a slap across the face to grasp the reality of it all - remember - I'm going to try and be gentler with myself...)

So, I am going to try and find my way back home I hope to post something most days, energy allowing. The posts may not always be amazing and in fact be less than brilliant, but it is after all my practice to find love, and by allowing less than perfect,  I hope to find love for myself.

With Love and Appreciation


Friday, March 11, 2011

What To Make On A Cold & Rainy Day...

 Well, here in the Pacific NorthWest, March has come in like a lion..., cold rainy, blustery days, we've  even experienced the occasional explosive thunder clap or two...

Neither the dogs or I enjoy going out in this weather..., in fact, I prefer to be dry and warm (ditto say the dogs,) and in particular on days like these, I enjoy being in the kitchen, making something comforting, healthy and tasty... 

Like this....

Split Pea Soup With Turkey Bacon

Here's the easy recipe:


.  Olive oil
.  1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped finely
.  2 large washed, peeled, finely sliced carrots
.  1 cup of washed, chopped celery
.  4 rashers of finely chopped turkey bacon
.  1.5 cups of rinsed dried split peas
.  1 tspn. of celery salt
.  1 bay leaf
.  Sea salt &  fresh ground pepper
.  7 cups of vegetable stock

(p.s this can be made into a vegan recipe by omitting the turkey bacon, or simply substituting a smokey tempeh or field roast type meat alternative.)


.  Heat oil over moderate heat, add onions and cook for 5 minutes till they start to look transparent.
.  Add carrots and celery and saute for 5 more minutes.  Add celery salt, and chopped turkey bacon.
.  After a few minutes all the veggies should be looking shiney and par-cooked, add the split peas.
.  Stir the peas and veggies well then add the veggie stock and bay leaf, heat till it starts to boil then 
   turn down the heat to a low simmer, cover the pot, set your timer for 40 minutes (check on it a couple
   of times, giving a gentle stir.)
.  After 40 minutes the peas should be soft and the soup almost done,  season with salt and pepper, 
   remove the bay leaf and puree the cooked veggies and stock.  ( I have a hand held blender which 
   makes this job very easy.)
.  Serve hot topped flavorful, chopped parsley (or whatever your favorite topping might be!)



Sunday, March 6, 2011

We've Been Away For A Few Days...

Guess where we went for a few days???

Need a few more clues???

How about this stately Saguaro cactus?

Or this drop dead view of big sky and red, red rocks?

Yes, we flew to Arizona for a few days and soaked up the sunshine, and on a day trip to precariously perched,  ghost infested, mining town of Jerome, we soaked up the exquisite views, frosted in a layer of recently fallen snow..., it was beautiful, the sunshine, the snow, the mountains, the cactus... did I mention the sunshine??? Oh, and some very tasty chicken and queen olive stuffed blue corn enchiladas with incredible jalapeno and cilantro salsa (gluten free of course..) at a wonderful little place called the "Quince Grill & Cantina." Gosh..., I LOVE good SouthWest food...

Here's some snapshots, to share the flavor of one of my favorite states...



The facade is all that's left of this old building in Jerome.

The Quince Grill & Cantina...(note the icicles on the awning!)

Snow covered twigs against a startlingly blue sky.

The drive home..., sorry to be leaving...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Strange Snow...

Strange Snow
by Neinah Avelin

A strange snow is falling 
around me
broadcast from a 
goose grey sky.
Not the usual 
silent flakes 
but something other.

This snow in tiny 
snowball form 
passes by my ears with 
a quiet hiss 
on their way
to be collected in
mossy twigs,
foxes coats 
and curled and dried
leaves left 
from the fall.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


(Finding myself speechless and the incredible generosity of a total stranger...)

Today at work I'd got an inkling to go to lunch with CG and his lunch buddy Mino... Most days I do my own thing, preferring to work through lunch and leave work earlier... but today, as my belly rumbled at me and with quite a lot of work yet to get through I invited myself along...

As I thought he would, CG drove us to a little Mexican place on the island.  A family run business that had three restaurants, the one closest to work (which CG loved to frequent,) had closed just a few weeks previous (like several other small businesses in our area,) due to the lack of business. So here we were trekking several extra miles for his favorite chile rellenos...

Behind the counter the man (Miguel the owner,) started to chat with CG, remembering him from the other restaurant..., then he looked at me, and I was shocked that not only did he remember me from the one time I went in there when he had been working, but also remembered our conversation about his beautiful reproduction painting of Our Lady Of Guadalupe situated on the restaurant wall looking down kindly upon the hungry customers...

He pointed to the wall of this restaurant, and asked if I noticed the same painting?  "I did," I replied (still shocked he remembered me,) "she's very beautiful, one day I will go visit Our Lady in the Basilica in Mexico City." I told him..

He served us our food and disappeared into the kitchen.  We sat at our table and started our lunch, Miguel appeared again, carrying a slightly smaller, framed image of Our Lady of Guadalupe... holding it out to me he said, "this is for you."

Our Lady of Guadalupe
If your curious you can check her out here

I couldn't believe my ears, and was so stunned by his generosity.  I immediately said "oh no... I couldn't... "  I was a little embarrased, but he went on, saying that he had brought this back from Mexico city and that he wanted me to have it..  So, I said "yes."  Standing up I gave this generous stranger a BIG thank you hug,,, and hugged my own copy of Our Lady...

Our Lady - Looking very much at home here.

Do you have a story to share about the kindness of a stranger?

It can be such a powerful experience can't it?  Proving the point to me over and over again, that though we think that we are "separate" from others (folks different from us - spiritually, economically, racially etc. etc.) We truly aren't that different..., we aren't that separate... The fact that I can share a love of an image with a total stranger, and he endows and trusts me with this image that he loves and cares about so much makes me filled with love and filled with wonder and appreciation, at the kindness of this stranger.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Day Late...

Though Valentines Day was yesterday, I wish to celebrate it with you today...

So, Happy Valentines Day Dear Friends and Family!!!

Last night the power went out at our house before I could make a special dinner for CG and I, so I'm planning on making it special tonight instead, but... the power just went out again for who knows how long...  So maybe this "special dinner" won't get cooked for a while...

 Still one very lovely side benefit of having no power is the excuse to light up the house with candles...

...which I absolutely LOVE....

I love the softness that candle light brings to a room, don't you?

Here is a love poem by the great and wonderful poet  Pablo Neruda

'Who ever desired each other as we do'

Who ever desired each other as we do? Let us look
for the ancient ashes of hearts that burned,
and let our kisses touch there, one by one,
till the flower, disembodied, rises again.

Let us love that Desire that consumed its own fruit
and went down, aspect and power, into the earth;
We are its continuing light,
its indestructible, fragile seed.

Happy late Valentines Day...

With LOVE,


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Love Poem...

Its a short post today I'm sorry to say... a visit to the oral surgeon has stopped me from jaw-in too much..

Love you lots,

A Homecoming ~
by Wendell Berry

One faith is bondage.  Two
are free.  In the trust
of old love, cultivation shows
a dark and graceful wilderness
at its heart.  Wild
in that wilderness, we roam
the distance of our faith;
safe beyond the bounds
of what we know.  O love,
open.  Show me
my country.  Take me home.


A request for loving prayer...

For Roger...

Please join me if you will and send loving prayers
to the husband of my sweet sister.
He has a short time left and 
I pray that he knows a kind of gentleness and
peace, that he truly deserves.

Thank you.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Way To Share The Love...

For me, Valentines is another way to spread the love...

So in the spirit of sharing, I invited a few friends over for tea, chocolate cupcakes (sorry forgot to take photo's) and Valentine making...

I pulled out my considerable stash of craft supplies that I'd accumulated over the past half a dozen years...  Ribbons, glitter, stickers, sequins, buttons, beads, vintage papers, and confetti covered the dining room table, barely giving us room to move...  Oh, but what fun we had...

(Notice the prevalence of RED worn by Les Artists)

So many exquisite Valentines were made by all, so diverse, so creative, so filled with the love of these beautiful women.

Do you have a special way to celebrate Valentines?  

If you make your own Valentine Cards I'd love to see them... If you send me a photo, I'll post it during the next week...

XO Neinah

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Love And Kindness...

Hearts for valentines...

The weather has been grey and a tad gloomy, but inside I'm humming and feeling cheery...  It will soon be Valentines day - possibly my most favorite of all holidays, that makes the most sense, and makes my heart sing... How about you? Does Valentines Day make you smile, or sing, or hum?

When I was younger "love" had to look a certain way, but as I get older, I see the value of "Love" in all its guises.

Love is worthy of celebrating,  I will be writing and sharing over the next few days... I hope you'll join me.


By Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in the white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes any sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking or,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Walking The Beach In The Rain...

Having been camped up the house for a day and a half, we decided a walk on the nearby beach would be good, regardless of the winter rain...

Walking along the beached logs...
some look like giant whale vertebrae.

In a driftwood house...
we found sanctuary from the rain.

I loved these sweet little sea birds, as they joyfully played in the chilly
water.  Swimming and diving like synchronized swimmers with dear little
swim caps on their heads... (any idea's on what they might be?)

Who was watching who..???  I'm not sure, but these NorthWest Crows
have certainly got their act together, feeding on all manner of shellfish, washed-up
half eaten carrion, and of course goodies that unsuspecting picnic-ers who turn there 
back for a second and don't know how wily these corvid characters can be... 

I love going to the beach at any time of year,,, its ever changing, inspiring and beautiful.

Here's a Mary Oliver poem I'd like to share...


And the waves
gush pearls
from their snowy throats
as they come 
over the moss-green,
glass-green roughage--
as they crumble
on the incline
whatever they carry
in their invisible
and motherly
icy and plump
with waled shells,
for the gatherers
who come flying
on their long white wings--
who comes walking,
who comes muttering:
thank you,
old dainties,
dark wreckage,
coins of the sea
in my pockets
and plenty for the gulls
and wind still pounding
and the sea still streaming in like a mother wild with gifts--
in this world i am as rich
as I need to be.