29 June 2009

A mountain ride. (Colorado trip part 2)

(see part 1: Colorado morning.)

To tell you the truth, I've never been a big fan of traveling on trains. I'd much rather drive and have the chance to pull into the shoulder when I see a potential photo beckoning, to have control of being able to stop and set my own pace. But the Durango-Silverton Train won me over. We rode the same train built in 1882 that traverses through the mountains and valleys for three-and-a-half hours at a pace of only 18 mph. What an adventure it was, as each turn revealed a completely different view and landscape. We were literally on the edges of our seats...

Mom and I arrived at the train depot just five minutes before departure at 8:15am, so we were practically the last ones on board. The conductor didn't even check our tickets and told us to quickly hop on, so we chose the car immediately in front of us closest to the engine. All the other passengers who had arrived earlier were packed in the other cars, some covered, some open-air, but we found ours entirely empty with about 10 rows on each side of uninhabited seats. So we sprawled out and opened our windows as far as they would go and let the morning sun stream in.

As the train left the depot and began slowly chugging along, I grasped my hot tea in one hand and camera in the other. I shivered a little at the cool air and removed my jacket so I could feel it on my arms. There weren't any screens on the windows - nothing separating us from the views we were about to experience. Perfect!

What's so special about the Durango-Silverton Train {besides the fact that it's been in continuous operation for 127 years!} is that it takes you places where cars simply cannot go - inches from the rushing, tumultuous Animas River, around treacherous mountain bends where you are practically hanging off the edge of a cliff, through caverns of blasted rock.

Besides the other passengers, we didn't see a soul the entire ride. Only lush meadows dotted with aspen trees, dangerous rapids, snow-capped mountains. Through the open window, I saw Colorado close-up, as if through a viewfinder where the scenes keep changing. Her beauty stuns you, awakens you to see that the natural world is both beautiful and dangerous, like God.

About two-and-a-half hours into the ride, when Mom and I had become accustomed to switching our seats at every whim so we could get the best view, a true gift unfolded before our eyes. I was looking out the right side of the car, and she was looking out the left, when she said, "Christine! Look!" I jumped across the aisle to see this double rainbow, our little promise...

It's the second time I've seen a special rainbow in my life, once on my wedding day, and then on this day when I needed very much to know that things are going to be okay.

An hour later, we pulled into the depot in the old mining town of Silverton, population 531, and disembarked in search of the next adventure...

(part 3 to come...)

(see Part 3: From the heights.)

Watermelon Granita.

One of the beauties of working from home: my husband just walked into my office and offered me this...

I love him! He got the idea from our dear friend Mary who told us about her "watermelon water" recipe on Friday.

Blend together:
Fresh, juicy seedless watermelon pieces
Fresh-squeezed lime juice
Agave nectar to taste
Garnish with fresh mint


I bet it would even be good with a little bit of fresh basil mixed in.

Perfect summer beverage!

28 June 2009

Colorado morning. (part 1)

At Logwood B&B outside of Durango...

This is how Colorado greeted me. Morning had touched everything in sight - from tips of oak tree leaves, to petunia petals in baskets, to rosemary needles peeking out the openings of a strawberry pot. When I awoke just thirty minutes earlier, I could have touched the cooled tips of the trees outside the screen of my open window, a luxury that is non-existent in Texas in the summer. I was not going to miss this - my first real mountain morning. So I threw on a jacket and skirt and could not get outside soon enough. Dew was still covering the rustic wooden porch and its carved wood rails and every blade of grass.

I sat in a rocking chair and opened my journal to a fresh page, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath.

Then I began to record the sounds...the gentle, constant flowing of the Animas River just past the edge of the yard {a river which is so swift in other areas that it can be unnavigable}...the ca-caw of a blackbird...the sprinkler system's hiss....muffled sounds of pots and pans from the kitchen as the owners began preparing breakfast. This whole landscape welcomed morning without cars or horns or smog or Starbucks. Thank God, without Starbucks. Silence. Sweet silence.

I began to smell bacon cooking and ventured back inside to find the great room bathed in a golden light.

Mom and I ate breakfast in peace, the only two guests in the dining room at such an early hour. French toast casserole. Fresh-squeezed orange juice. Crisp bacon. Blueberries and strawberries in a cup.

We ate every last morsel. And then we set off to catch the 8:15am Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad for our three-and-a-half hour ride through the mountains and valleys to an old mining town...

(see Part 2: A Mountain ride.)

26 June 2009

Cold Tangerines Winners!

It was so inspiring to read all of your comments to the Cold Tangerines book giveaway! Each of our worlds are so different, but we can learn so much from each other and inspire one another, as we learn to better embrace everyday life!

I used random.org to generate the 5 winners, and here they are!

#11 - Lauren

#17 -
#18 -
#23 -
The Morginskys
#26 -

If you know me personally, you know how to email me your mailing address. If you don't know me, just send it to dream[at]dreammore[dot]com.


24 June 2009

Cold Tangerines. (book giveaway!)

"But this is what I'm finding, in glimpses and flashes: this is it. This is it, in the best possible way. That thing I'm waiting for, for that adventure, that movie-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully. This is it. Normal, daily life ticking by on our streets and sidewalks, in our houses and apartments, in our beds and at our dinner tables, in our dreams and prayers and fights and secrets - this pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of us will ever experience."
~ Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist

I've returned home from glorious Colorado, but before I start gushing about the beauty of the mountains, I wanted to share some reflections on a book that has become very dear to me: Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. I've mentioned it here before, how the book was an inspiration to finally start writing my own stories more, to be brave with my writing, and to be brave with my relationships.

Cold Tangerines is about celebrating everyday life as it occurs in individuals: individual moments, and individual people. It's about real, honest, gritty struggles that inevitably happen and how we reconcile them and deal with them in the light of courage and hope.

A review by Shane Claiborne says, "This is a book you can taste," and that is a great description, because as you read, you can taste the risotto simmering in Shauna's kitchen. You can taste her joy after being awakened from busyness by a striking red tree in Michigan's autumn. You can taste the longing she feels as she recounts summer family vacations and friends' babies being born and birthdays being celebrated.

One of the chapters that most resonated with me when I first read it last year, and even now as I type this, is the one entitled "On Waiting." Because aren't we all waiting for something? It seems that my pinball-machine-mind is always in a state of "what comes next" - What is our schedule for tomorrow? Where are the next three places I'm traveling? Five years from now, will we get to have that charming old farmhouse nestled in the trees? How much longer will my parents live?

And we all do it - we all wonder. But the crisis is when you live like you're waiting for life to happen, while life is actually happening right now.

"I believe that this way of living, this focus on the present, the daily, the tangible, this intense concentration not on the news headlines but on the flowers growing in your own garden, the children growing in your own home, this way of living has the potential to open up the heavens, to yield a glittering handful of diamonds where a second ago there was coal. This way of living and noticing and building and crafting can crack through the movie sets and soundtracks that keep us waiting for our own life stories to begin, and set us free to observe the lives we have been creating all along without even realizing it."
~ Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist

Most days, I don't get it right. The few days before I left for Colorado, I'm ashamed to say the only words that could describe me were frazzled, stressed, irritable. My poor husband had the intensely painful shingles and needed my time and care, our teething puppy was chewing everything in sight, and I was on my fiftieth load of laundry while staying on top of a demanding 8-hour work day. The phone rang again, and I almost burst into tears, and that is when I knew I needed to stop.

So I pulled my hair back to the nape of my neck and went into the backyard where I hadn’t stepped in days, unless you count the beeline to the driveway to let Greta and Heidi in and out of the dog run. While I was inside feeling sorry for myself, in the meantime this entire wondrous thing was happening out there: new life was sprouting and growing before my very eyes, and I hadn’t noticed it. Our first tiny okra had made an appearance. A pear-shaped tomato was becoming golden on the vine. Orange wildflowers had opened their buds while I was inside stressing over loads of laundry and packing and my sick husband and my schedule and my to-do list.

I knelt down, pulled up some stray shoots of grass, watered the squash. I leaned close to the basil and inhaled deeply. I tore off some leaves the size of my palm and remembered that fresh basil is one of the best scents in the entire world. And then I went back inside and apologized to my husband for not loving him well, for not being thankful that I have this house, this life right now, these people with whom I get to walk through life. And then I thought about my caring mother and how many hours she has put into planning this trip for the two of us to see the beauty of the mountains together in Colorado, and how I had been so short with her on the phone. And I got choked up a little. Because once again, I had missed it.

Yet, the undeserved gift is that life keeps pointing me in that direction, even when I stray so far away. A message on my tea bag. A bottle of wine brought by a friend and shared over dinner. A chance to hold a baby and notice that her smile is changing everyday.

So, here's to life's best moments. I don't want to breeze through them anymore. This "pedestrian life" is the best thing I've got, and I'm not going to miss it.

* * *


Shauna Niequist has kindly sent me 5 autographed copies of Cold Tangerines to give away to my blog readers! If you'd like to win a copy of the book, post a comment below, and include at least one way you celebrate everyday life. This Friday, June 26th, I'll choose 5 winners from a random drawing.

18 June 2009

Off to Colorado...

I'm leaving today for a weekend trip with my mom to Colorado...my first time to visit! Oh, how I need to breath the cool mountain air. I'll be back next week with a fun book giveaway that I'm excited to tell you about!

In the meantime, we'll be visiting...

Durango, CO

Silverton, CO

Ouray, CO - including the hot springs pool!

I'll be back with tons of photos!

08 June 2009

First tomatoes!

I'm happy to present our first three tomatoes of the season! These are "sweet babies" and boy, were they sweet - they tasted like candy!

03 June 2009

Farm-fresh breakfast.

this morning:
2 fresh eggs fried in coconut oil ~ the yolks are bright orange and lovely
1/2 organic avocado with sea salt & black pepper
organic cantaloupe slices
black Russian bread slathered in butter and local honey from Anderson Apiary in Kemp, TX
steaming hot Enfusia with coconut milk and vanilla creme stevia

I realized this morning that this was an entire farm-fresh breakfast - all of it coming from The Movement Dallas organic co-op, and much of it locally grown or made. The bread was made by Debbie at Full Quiver Farms, and the eggs were gathered just a few days ago from her free-roaming chickens.

Thank goodness the days of Egg Beaters and Kraft singles for breakfast are loooong gone. If only my 2003 self knew what I know now!