Welcome friends...thanks for coming by. We're seeking beauty in all of creation... in our faith and our families; our art and our music; our crafts and kitchens, and even in our own backyard. We'll share a poem or a recipe, a picture or a memory; maybe a dream of how we wish our life could be. And though we acknowledge that the world can be harsh, we're keeping it pleasant in our little corner; endeavoring to keep the words from the Book of all Books: ...Whatsoever things are lovely; think on these things.

I so enjoy hearing from you...so leave me a comment; it'll make my day!

Photo: Bee and thistle: Taken high in the Cascade Mountains where there is a bee buzzing on every thistle. by Debora Rorvig

Thursday, January 31, 2013

My Daily Choice

My Daily Choice
by Debora Rorvig

(I wrote this piece in 1995. I still believe it and try to make this choice daily.)

I must make a daily choice to believe that there is an uncommon beauty and an extraordinary purpose for my existence at this very moment and place.

For if I do, I will understand my connection to everything and everyone around me who also have purpose and beauty; and this will lead me to Kindness and Respect.

If I do not, I will view myself and the world about me with indifference and become careless and callous.

And if I know that I am a person of extraordinary purpose, I will believe that I influence the world about me, and that all of my actions have significant consequence. I will therefore act with Responsibility.

If I do not, I will attribute my failures to fate and blame others for my problems. Perhaps even worse, I will believe that my successes are luck; which is impossible to replicate and out of my control.

If I truly believe that there is a reason for my existence at this particular time and place, I will scan my horizons for every prospect available to me, and seize upon it, no matter how small or remote it may seem. I will have Hope.

If not, I will feel despair when others succeed, and jealously believe that they are more fortunate or blessed than I.

When troubles come, as they often do, or calamity suddenly strikes; if I am resolute in my belief that there is a reason for my life, I will bend with the winds, but will not break. Through the hard times I will look to friends and family for added strength, and in turn I will be a friend. ‘A three-fold cord is not easily broken’. I will be a part of a Community.

If not, I am doomed to suffer alone.

If I can see that there is uncommon beauty in my life, I will have an appreciation for all of nature. The fragrant earth after a summer shower, a robin singing at my window, waves breaking upon the shore, and the wonder in a child’s eyes; all of these things and countless more will give pause for reflection and rejoicing in my heart. I'll be filled with gratitude just to find myself included in such a wonderful universe. These things will bring me Joy and Humility.

If I cannot see beauty in my own life, I will miss the beauty of nature too. Like a tourist on a speeding train, the sights and sounds, the faces and smiles, days and nights, will all rush past me-as a blur. And at the end of my life, there will be no distinction…and no joy.

Some days it is hard to believe; hard to believe in one's self, in others, and in the universe. But in the end…

it’s much harder not to believe.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Easy Peasy Photo Secrets Revealed

Wanna know how to make your pictures look better? Would you like to hear some easy secrets to how to make YOU look better in photographs?

You say you do??? Well allrighty then! (Just bear in mind, I'm not a pro...this stuff is for non-techy's. Easy peasy stuff.)

So I'm assuming that you've got a good camera. That's number one. And I'm not going to waste my breath telling you how to use it. You've got a manual and a community college that'll do that for you. Remember, this is just little hints...OK?


First, my dear, since nobody's perfect, you need to learn how to edit. Photoshop is the cadillac of photo-editing, but the learning curve is steep. If you know Photoshop, you needn't read further. But if you're just starting out, give Picasa a try. Below are some pics I fixed up using Picasa...

Here's photo 1, unedited. I gotta work on my lighting!
This is the same photo. I used Picasa's highlight and light fill effects.
I cropped the above photo and added glow. BTW...the model is moi. We had crazy day at school, hence the bows, heavy make-up and polka dots. Kinda fun!

Mama Mia! Thats a bad pic! What a pained expression...and check out the leathery neck. Not good. Note to self, do something about that neck!!!

Think I'll put my hand in front of my neck...now isn't that better?
Not so fond of this one...it's the neck thing again and that crazy front tooth. I never got braces, as you can tell. I'm not worried about it; it's who I am. But I know that look better facing the camera or from the right side. Just something to remember. Go stand in front of a mirror and see how you look best. Then go with it! What, you think that's cheating? I'll betcha that Tyra B. and her top models all know what side of their face looks best in photos. Why should they look better than you?

I don't mind this shot, but I think it could look nicer.

Same photo, but don't I look more rested...like I've been to the spa or something. Naw, I just used the retouch feature in Picasa! Evened out the skin, took the red lines out of the whites of my eyes, and heck, even removed the crow's feet and frown lines between my brows. GRANDMAS, take note...YOU WILL BECOME YOUR TEEN GRANDCHILD'S FAVORITE GRANDMA IF YOU LEARN TO RETOUCH THEIR BLEMISHES!! What kid wants a permanent reminder of acne? I sure didn't. You can retouch their pictures and let them put them on facebook. Nobody'll be the wiser and it will sooo help their confidence!

Bokeh is the term for taking a picture so that part of it is purposely out of focus and blurry, while the subject is crisp. It takes a while to master this. I can do it, but sometimes I'm too lazy or just didn't think to create this effect in my photograph. Never fear. There is a button called 'soft focus' in Picasa that will mimic this effect. You just put the arrow where you want clarity and the rest will blur!

Here are a few more things I've figured out using Picasa...

  • Soft glow is great for aging skin.
  • If your photo is a wee bit out of focus...but you want to keep it, try making it black and white then use soft glow.
  • If your picture tends toward sallowy yellow, go to the Saturation effect and move the button to the left. It'll make a nice cool tone. This is also great for creating a sort of washed out, fadey effect that looks vintage.
  • Is a smart-aleck ruining your picture...crop him right out!
  • Sometimes part of a face is better than the whole. The eyes have it! Use that cropping tool to make many photo's from one.

So there you have it...some easy ways to improve your photographs. You have nothing to fear when you stand in front of a camera. Those things you call flaws; either celebrate them or just fix them. It's that inner glow we're looking for...that special something that makes you so unique. Remember, you are a beautiful, beautiful, one-of-a-kind creation! The world has never seen anyone like you before...and never will again. Work that camera, girl!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay...

 Monday was a perfectly lovely winter day here in the Pacific Northwest. Sunny and cold. There were so many things I could've done on my day off...but sunshine is a rare commodity around here in winter, so I took advantage and headed for the Bay armed with my camera and a warm jacket. As you can see, I wasn't the only with that idea.  I took this shot of a fellow camera-bug down at Marine Park, near the Alaska Ferry terminal and our railroad terminal.

Canada is just a few miles north of Bellingham. Those mountains in the background of Bellingham Bay are the Canadian Cascade Mountains, I think.(Help me out here, my Vancouver friends!) Mom used to call them the Canadian Rockies, but I believe technically they are part of the Cascade Range. How blessed to live between the mountains and the sea!

Seagulls are commonplace in our parts. I almost didn't take this picture, but this fellow was just so charming. I couldn't resist his smile! He may be an ordinary seagull, but he knows he's got swag!

No hoisted sails today! Too cold, I guess. They're probably sitting in Tony's Coffeehouse sipping mochas and playing checkers.

I will never tire of sparkle-y water. Never. Some girls want sparkle-y jewelry. I'd much rather sit with my feet in the sands of some lonely beach and watch the sun's rays dancing across the waves. Magic. 

Evening came, the winter sun danced away behind the clouds, and I headed over to Tony's for a cup of hot cocoa. Nice day. Very nice day!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Kindful; My New Favorite Word

This week I spent some time working with an adorable little 9-year-old. This little girl's life has been very tumultuous. We're talking CPS visits, being removed from her home for very good reasons, being returned to her home for very stupid reasons, and all the while she thinks her family problems are her fault. Every time I see this little one she runs to me and gives me a great big hug. Her sweetness in the midst of all of her problems just melts my heart.

I was assessing her to see if she qualified for special educational services. One of the things I asked her to do was to draw me a picture, then write a few sentences to describe it. 

Little Sweetie carefully drew a picture of a lady wearing a pretty dress with a great big smile.

I said, "Can you tell me about your picture?"

She pointed across the room to my boss and said, "It's Mrs. Brown."

"Well, can you tell me more about the picture?"

"Yes. That's Mrs. Brown. I love her. She is sooooo kindful!"


"Yes, kindful," she smiled up at me.

Kindful. Yes, she is right. Some people are just soooo kindful. You know...thoughtful+kind, or beautiful+kind, or maybe just plain full of kindness. Kindful. It's my new favorite word.

I think the world needs more kindful people. I want to be one of them. Don't you?


Sunday, January 20, 2013

What Makes the Ordinary...Extraordinary

Every day I drive past this certain little coffee shop on the way to work. I rarely stop there because I brew my own tea most every morning. However, the other day the shop's reader-board caught my eye. It read, "Thanks for a great 2012!"

I was impressed! I mean, how many businesses are saying that 2012 was a great year? You don't hear that on the nightly news! Why, most of the companies I've been hearing about are still complaining about the recession. But this non-descript little drive-through coffee store out in the middle of nowheresville was actually thanking their customers for helping them have a great year.

I started trying to mentally account for their success. I knew that their product wasn't so special because I've been there a few times, and their tea and hot chocolate were just OK.(I couldn't speak for their coffee because I don't drink it anymore.) So it's wasn't their location OR their product.

"Hmmm," I wondered. "What is the key to their success?"

My passenger reached over and thumped me on the forehead.

 "Silly girl..." he said. "What does their SIGN say?"

"It says thank you for a great 2012."

"So what does that say about the business owner...besides that she's doing well?" he queried.

The light-bulb finally came on.

"Ohhhh, I get it...they are grateful; and they tell their customers as much."

"Good girl; now you're thinking! An attitude of gratitude can take something ordinary and make it extraordinary. Isn't that what you're constantly telling your students? So now... let's make it more personal. How was YOUR 2012?"

Well I've been so busy thinking about how I want 2013 to be, that I had to take a moment to really stop and recount what went on in my life last year.

"Well, it was really good, now that you mention it. I've been pretty healthy and happy. Our children and grands are doing well. Hubby has fully recovered from some physical issues that seemed pretty serious a few years ago. We've both got jobs, and I just adore the kids I work with. So yeah, it was a good year, when you really think about it."

"And are you grateful?" asked my friend.

"Yes, of course!" I replied.

"And did you thank those who helped you last year?"

"Well, not in so many words..."

I was feeling a little sheepish. That little story in the Bible about the 10 lepers that Jesus healed came to mind. Remember? He healed 10 of them and they all ran off to show themselves to the priest so that they could be declared 'clean' and allowed back into society. But then 1 of them turned and ran back to Jesus and said 'thanks.' Jesus asked him where the other nine were. Apparently Jesus felt sad that only one had enough courtesy and gratitude to tell him thanks.

How many good things, I wondered, have happened to me in 2012 that I took for granted?  I knew the answer...too many to number.

I turned to my Friend. "Thank you, Lord. You've been so kind to me all year. I can't even count all the times you've helped me out. My family, my marriage, my job, health, a home, why even this nice car we're driving in...literally everything I have is because of You. I'm so sorry not to have mentioned it before. Thank you Lord, for a great 2012!"

"You're welcome," He answered quietly.

And so, having made things right with my BFF, Jesus, by thanking Him for all of his blessings in 2012...I want to acknowledge YOU.

Readers, Thank YOU for your visits, kind words, and encouragement in 2012. I know you don't HAVE to read my blog; but you do...and for that I am truly grateful to you. Blessings to you!

Let us all go forward into 2013 with an attitude of gratitude, which according to my Friend of Friends...makes the ordinary extraordinary!

Most of my photographs, like this one, are of ordinary things because to me, the ordinary is so very beautiful. This photo makes me feel somehow like I am almost coming home after a long journey. I imagine a happy reunion inside with loved ones who've been waiting...

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Debbie's Life Lesson #4---Banish Self-Deprecation

Can we talk?

I need to talk to you about the way you talk...

When I say this you look startled and a bit worried. You're wondering if I heard you say s#^%! when you dropped your coffee mug on the floor the other day; or if I'm offended because you told me your Aunt Helen is a crazy old bat. Nope, that's not what's bothering me. It's more serious than an occasional curse word; and face it, we've all got friends and family that get on our last nerve. What I'm talking about is really more like verbal abuse.

You look shocked. "Who me...verbally abusive? When? Where? To whom?"

The answer is every day, everywhere. I've heard you at church, at work, at the mall, in the restaurant, and even in the blogosphere. And just who are you verbally abusing? Yourself.

It's such a bad habit now, that I don't think you even realize how disparaging, how self-deprecating you've become.

"Hey, wait a minute!" you say. "I can say what I want about myself. And it's certainly better to be a little self-deprecating, a little humble, than to be a big fat bragger. People need to learn to laugh at themselves."

Hmm, feeling a bit defensive aren't we?

I used to be a master of self-deprecation. I too, once thought it was harmless. It started so simply; the self-degrading remarks. It seemed to make people laugh. Made them feel more at ease around me. This way they knew I wasn't stuck up. And since I was painfully shy, it was a way to sort of break the ice.  So I began making funny cracks about my weight, my big nose, lack of memory, crooked teeth, etc. Why, I had so many flaws it seemed there was no end of 'material' for my schtich.  It almost became a part of my personality.

 Then one night I saw how bad it had gotten--the self-deprecation--when we were playing cards with some friends. Everyone was laughing and having a good time. Somehow the subject turned to me and to my surprise my friends started saying all of the mean things about me that I'd been saying about myself---in jest, of course.

"Well, Debbie, are you going to make another bone-headed play because you can't remember numbers? Look, everyone's won a round but you!  You're the biggest loser! HA, HA, HA!"

Those words stung. We went on a weekend trip with the same couple, and I noticed that more often than not, I'd become the butt of this couple's jokes. Yet to be fair, they were the same words I'd said many times about myself. That's when I realized that I'd actually taught my friends to treat and think of me in that way.

But enough about me. Back to you. Here are some of the things I've been  hearing you say... I'm such an idiot! What a moron! I'm as fat as a cow. Pretty soon I'll have to go to the sporting goods store to buy my clothes...in the tent section! My nose is so long you could use it for a ski jump! I'm the biggest klutz---I should join the circus! I'm such a slob--my house is always a pigsty. I look like an old hag; just look at all of this grey hair. I can't do anything right! I could go on.

This friends, is not humility and it isn't funny. Humility is knowing your worth but not being affected or obnoxious about it. When you think about it, one has to have something good going for them in order to have a need for humility. Fellow Christians, wasn't Jesus the most humble man on earth? Did he ever make fun of himself? Self-deprecation is actually false-humility that is clevery cloked in manipulation. It's designed to stave off criticism by being the first to criticize oneself. It's a basic tool for those lacking confidence. It's also a staple for those who want the conversation to revolve around themselves without seeming arrogant. Ouch!

And funny? Well funny is when you can laugh at yourself, someone else or something without any malice. Unfortunately, our society has all but forgotten how to recognize funny. Sarcasm has replaced wit. Vulgarity and mean-spirited 'zingers' are passed off as humor.

Debbies Life Lesson #4

When you're thinking of saying something negative about yourself, ask yourself, "Would I say this to, or about my child or someone I dearly love?" If the answer is no, zip it! Talk about the book you just read. Talk about the weather. Talk about your dog. But please, for heaven's sake, stop beating yourself up!

What was that that thing your mom always said...If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all?


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously
give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

a return to love - marianne williamson


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Washington winter scenes

Damp, misty rain. Swollen creek and muddy paths in the wood.

Gloomy, misty winters make for towering Washington evergreens.

Summer wildflowers and autumn leaves are laid to rest. In their place all manner of moss and fungi grow.

Mount Baker calmly presides over the winter valley;  all stately and serene.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Take Two

I needed to find an important something-or-another the other day so I ventured into the twilight zone-- otherwise known as our home office. You've got to have nerve to enter that room! In addition to the old computer there's a sewing machine, fabric, a banker's box full of my writing, two bookcases loaded with heaven know's what, a huge box of furnace filters, a music stand, a ripped sofa cushion with bits of foam oozing from the hole, a half-done knitting project--(I quit when I realized the hat would not fit any living human), an easel, and some pieces of foam board. That's just for starters. Do you think I found what I was looking for? Nope. Not a chance.

We've been saying for months that were gonna clean that room up; but it's not happening. There are so many more fun things to do than to sort through boxes of cancelled checks and snippets of fabric. So here's what I decided. In addition to the obligatory weekly vacuuming around the boxes and the swipe of the swiffer over the computer monitor; each and every time I enter the room I will take two things out, or at least organize two things. Today I put an unsent birthday card in the secretary where it belongs and placed two renegade bingo daubers in my art supplies basket. That's all. And it's amazing how quickly things are shaping up! So much so that I've adopted the 'take two' policy for every room in the house. After work I wander into each room and deal with two items. It only takes a couple of minutes. Really.

Of course I still cook, do dishes, throw in a load of laundry, vacuum, and scour the bathroom regularly. (We're not filthy people, just prone to clutter.) But sometimes when stuff winds up where it's not supposed to be, we sort of cease to notice it after awhile. It becomes invisible. This easy little habit is helping me to see that I've left bobby pins on the bathroom vanity and price tags from my new sweater on the dresser. And I'm thinking twice before just tossing something on the nearest flat surface.

Will this habit turn me into a neat freak? Never. I love a house that looks a little tousled. Nothing should be perfect. That's not real. A little order, that's all I want. Two items at a time!



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