Week 1: A new chapter


On Saturday, August 4th,  a little Mazda 3 drove into Oakland, California for the first time.  Packed with all my life’s possessions, I began a new chapter in my life.

So to my family & friends, this post is for your amusement.  My first week in California was definitely a comedy of errors.   Nothing terrible happened.  I imagine they are normal occurrences to anyone relocating to a new city…this just happens to be my version of trying to drive, shop, and fix problems.  Everything seemed to take 3 steps more than I expected.  I found myself at one point during the week sympathizing with those that move to a new country, and experience culture shock….except, I never left the country.

Right after dropping my fiance off at the airport, I had to return to IKEA to exchange sofa mattress we had bought the night before.  (Note to the wise: never go to IKEA after just driving 2257 miles across country.  You will miss “PICK” your own furniture, or almost lose you fiance in the small city state of IKEA.)  It was my first time navigating the city by myself.  Lets just say the price I paid for missing the exit was a $5 toll on the Bay Bridge into San Francisco (The City).   For my Midwest friends, IKEA is NOT in the city, it is in Emeryville (just north of Oakland).  So I went to IKEA VIA Treasure Island…  I also want to say that finding the correct on-ramp to the express way can sometimes been a bit of a scavenger hunt.  On-ramps are not as intuitive as you’d like them to be.  (I discovered that if you shake your phone while using google maps, it prompts you to ask if there is a problem with the directions.)

At Target, I learned that plastic bags are prohibited from stores that sell groceries.   (I personally think this is a great thing 🙂
So the cashier asked me to either purchase a paper bag for 10 cents or provide my own.  I decided to invest in a reusable bag…that I forgot to take to me to Safeway foods later that day.

Upon arriving in California, it seemed my car had developed a large rattling noise in the rear, so bad I thought maybe something would fall out from under it.  I made an appointment at a local Mazda/Audi service garage….where I made a new friend, a service advisor.  First, I will say, the Mazda with her door dings felt a little out of her league next to the array of leather lined Audis around her.  It turns out I needed new front breaks and rear shocks.  They were nice enough to shuttle me home and pick me up.  While I was waiting at home, the service guy calls me up, and explains I will also need new rotors.  The mechanic has never seen rust like mine, and had to destroy the rotor to get it off the car.  Apparently, they don’t see cars that have spent several winters parked on a street on the Eastside of Milwaukee?  So $1000 later, I drive my car home….and guess what I discovered?  A LOUD RATTLE!   I didn’t have to pay anything more to fix the noise (some loose springs), but it did include two more trips to the garage, a free but complicated car rental, and awkward conversations with the service guy.

There were also computer upgrade issues…a four step process, that included the fiance, apple store, apple care representative, and apple online store….that kept me from posting this earlier.

Perhaps one of the things that kept me sane during my first week, was the kindness of my new roommates.  Their knowledge of the area, school, and having made a similar transition themselves has been invaluable.  THANK YOU.   Their cats, shared meals, and watching “Sons of Anarchy” have been a good distraction as well!

Don’t worry, I’m still very much excited about this new chapter….

p.s. The above photo is looking down at the bay area from Joaquin Miller Park… a great place for hill runs:)


Living a double Life

And so it begins, the countdown…
30 days from now, my lease ends…and this coming August, I will be relocating from the Great Lake country to the Bay Area to attend graduate school in San Francisco.  I’m so excited and anxious all at the same time.  There are lots of pieces to work out.  And lately, it seems like I’m living two lives at the same time.  Part of me is saying good-bye to the city I’ve called home for the past 14 years…and the other part is trying to be come acquainted with a new life on the West coast.

It is a place of liminality.

(New word?  A quick search on Wikipedia will give you the following insight….”In anthropology, liminality is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals. when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. During a ritual’s liminal stage, participants “stand at the threshold” between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes.”)

My lived experience goes a bit like this….
Life 1: This afternoon I wished our high school seniors the best on their graduation.
Life 2: This morning I registered for my fall semester classes.
Life 1: Making plans for an upcoming garage sale.
Life 2: Checking out Craigslist to see if apartment listings for August 1 are surfacing.Life 1: Texted friend a friend about an issue in our current apartment building.

I took these photos looking out from my current residence, aware of my place and embracing ambiguity….  a liminal moment.


Bedroom window.

IMG_3577Dining room window.

I “HEART” trees too…

Memorial weekend brought a beautiful for a hike on the Ice Age Trail.  It was the first hike of the season and it felt great to get back into my hiking boots.  Although the weather can be fickle, the best part of hiking in May, is the lack of mosquitoes.  Here are a few photos from the 4 hour venture into the woods….

ImageThe random, “I-HEART-U” tree along the trail.

Image 1 “Follow the signs,” he says.

Image 2

Petals and Moss.
Does anyone know the name of this wildflower?

20 Miles of Ribbon

Last weekend, I found myself exploring parts of the Bay Area….Friday evening we ended up on Nob Hill and wandered into the Grace Cathedral,  my boyfriend was curious.  It just so happens they host a labyrinth on the second Friday of every month.

Suspended from the ceiling were lengths of ribbon….holding the hopes, prayers, and dreams of those that scribed them on a side table during the labyrinth experience.  My pictures don’t fully capture the experience, so please check out the links.  I love this installation by artist-in-residence, Anne Patterson.
Image 3Image 2

Perhaps my favorite part is that I often talk to students about how the Gothic cathedrals were designed to draw the eye of the viewer to the heavens.  The vertical space becomes active.  As I was revisiting the below painting, I found myself reflecting on those ribbons, voices and expressions of faith.  Making something intangible, visible.

Image 1


Keep calm and carry on

I was sitting in a colleague’s classroom today and I noticed the trending poster, “KEEP CALM and CARRY ON.”   This British WW II propaganda was intended to boost morale in the presence of war.  Now, I could easily share several stories illustrating what it means to “HIKE ON” in the face of exhaustion, altitude, or extreme elements.  However, today I’m reflecting on life not of isolation in the wilderness, but one of human connectivity.

I’ve always been one of those people who manages to stay calm in situations of high tension, anxiety, and emergency.  Stress can be an ugly thing that can inhibit our ability to think and act clearly or it can be a  healthy thing that gives us just enough motivation to get what needs to be done.  How an individual reacts to stress can be revelatory about their character or what is most treasured in their life.

I am amazed at the resilience exhibited by individuals in the face of adversity every day.  And there are those who find courage in the midst of tragedy.  This gives me hope for our communities, nation, and world.  Last week many of us stood in solidarity with those affected by the bombings in Boston.  It could be easy to become desensitized or overcome with despair in reaction to such events.  Proclamations of “Boston Strong” and the viral quote of Mr. Fred Rogers, “Look for the Helpers” are the hashtags of what it means to be a community, online and off.  As we remember, heal, and overcome, we realize we are very much connected.  Carry on my friends.

SIDE NOTE:  A few weeks ago I picked up a used book by one of my favorite new authors, Rebecca Solnit.  In her book, A Paradise Built in Hell: Extraordinary communities that arise in Disaster, she writes about how people rise to altruistic actions, save lives, and shape the survivors and communities.   She investigates the aftermath of 5 major tragedies of earthquakes, hurricanes, and 9/11 as proof of hope.  Worth a read if you are looking for ordinary heroes.

Be More


I recently came across this quote, and its been a bit of a mantra for me lately.  Cultivating a life of simplicity and meaning is a task one can spend a lifetime perfecting.  It means one thing to “Have LESS” when you are backpacking, and another thing when you are contemplating a move, or reflecting on how your “stuff” begins to consume your time.  (Sometimes the numbers on our paycheck, determines that for us.)  But I find it is life experiences that don’t require much currency that are sometimes the most rich.  I know that is true for me on the trail, in the classroom, or at my easel.

(This image is from a hike in the Collegiate Peaks area of Colorado where I ventured with some good friends of mine last June.)

Art in Bloom

IMAG2848Each year the Milwaukee Art Museum hosts Art in Bloom, a tribute to art and flowers.    Floral designers are matched with a piece from the museum’s collection as a point of inspiration.  This past weekend I joined my friend, Julie, to take in the natural creations on display.  Our critique of the floral works included lots of discussion on color matching, movement, and unity in design.

48 arrangements, but the WILD BLUE YONDER GIRL top 3 choice awards go to…

  White Path, Ernst Wilhelm Nay

White Path (Der Weisse Weg)Image via MAM

THE BLOOMS: Design by Frontier Flowers of Fontana



Backside of the arrangement.  Do you see the succulents?  Orchids and succulents are my two favorite plants, and I’ve never seen them together until now.  Lots of blue yonder love here.

Breath by Richter

: Breath, by Gerhard Richter

THE BLOOMS: Design by Metro Market

Okay so two awesome things about this….
1.  I “heart” Richter’s paintings. One of my favorite paintings at the MAM.
2. The was created by the floral designers at the grocery store that I frequent.
The designers really captured the movement of line and intensity of color…plus violet calla lilies are always an elegant touch.


: Ocean Park No. 68, Richard Diebenkorn
Milwaukee Art Museum’s Garden Club

It might be the succulents again that caught my eye, but there was something about the organization, repetition of line, and unity in this simple composition that just drew me in.

ONE more, BEST SMELLING arrangement:


THE INSPIRATION: Madonna and Child with St. Januarius and St. Sebastian, Francesco Solimena
THE BLOOMS: Designed by Elmbrook Garden Club
You could smell this one across the gallery.
Can’t help it, I have a thing for roses too!

…and just to prove yonder girl was there.  (This one’s for you, mom:)IMAG2859

Its 37 degrees, and that is Lake Michigan

 Into the wild blue yonder I spot…Windsurfer

a kitesurfer? Spring has been incredibly slow in arriving to the Midwest this year.
Even lifelong residents are asking themselves, WHY DO I LIVE HERE?

So when the sun is shinning, I have to take advantage of it.  Today I bundled up in my Under Armor, windbreaker, and hot pink beanie for a run.  Maybe its because I’m a Pisces, but I have always had an affinity for bodies of water.  So my trails usually lead me to Lake Michigan.  Its funny, but after a period of time, one develops a relationship with the lake.  Its the place I run to.  The place I enjoy with friends and the place I go to be alone.  It soothes me.  It is part of my Milwaukee identity.

Lake Michigan is also a playground for the locals.  I couldn’t help but smile when I spotted this kitesurfer during my run.  In spite of the 37 degree weather and barely shinning sun, this surfer is making the most of it.
So stop your complaining, and go outside!

Not ALL…


Welcome into the WILD BLUE YONDER!

I’m guessing if you stumbled across this blog, you have a bit of a wanderer in you.   Yep, this is my first post!
I hope you’ll journey a bit with me.  Comments are always welcome.

The above image is the result of a favorite high pointer moment in pursuit of King’s Peak, wise quote and Adobe Photoshop:)