Friday, August 22, 2014

Optimizing the Situation

Tony and I spent an evening at a friend's cabin with a few other couples. We had a scrumptious dinner and for dessert, there were a couple of frozen pies. The woman who had brought the pies started thawing them five hours previous to dinner but at 8:00 they were still not completely thawed. I noticed my husband in the kitchen moving the pies around and feeling the kitchen counter tops. I thought it was a little strange until he told me he was optimizing the situation. As the pie sat on the counter, the warmth in the counter sucked out the cold but held the cold in the spot; by moving the pies around he was optimizing the warmth and cutting down the length of defrost time. He also taught me that optimizing is something that computer scientists do all the time.

One thing I love about the contrast between my husband and me: he thinks completely different. I would never think of a pie defrost exercise--or optimizing the situation--but I plan to.
Optimizing the Situation in 2007

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Food Ties That Bind Us or The Impossible-To-Ruin Pie

In the past few days, I started to think about cottage cheese pie. I grew up on it and it is still a favorite. My grandmother used to make this pie and she claimed it was a way to use up cottage cheese on the verge of going bad.

The cottage cheese pie tradition passed to my mom and it became a regular part of her Thanksgiving pie canon. Mom took it out of the oven and set it on the stove to cool and it rarely made it into the fridge. It was delicious warm out of the oven and just as delicious cold the next day.

It wasn't long before Mom started adding canned pineapple to the pie. It's her nature to experiment and to be creative. It became Dad's favorite version.

The pie recipe passed to me and it's now a regular on our family menu.

Whenever I visited Dad, I'd make him a cottage cheese pie. Or two.

So there it is in a baking nutshell--the cottage cheese pie legacy. The beauty and detriment to the pie is that any variation on the basic recipe works. Yesterday's effort proved  it could take the worst punishment and still turn out. I forgot to add the melted butter, forgot to separate and whip the egg whites, baked it in the wrong temperature and worst of all, I cooked it in a smoky oven.

Keep in mind, I never measure ingredients and never go to the store for the ingredients to make cottage cheese pie. I use what I have.

Yesterday's variation included vanilla yogurt in place of cream or sour cream.

First the pie crust recipe I've used for years and it has never failed me. The notes are my husband's addition. It is a friend's family recipe book and I'm guessing Jeannie is somebody's favorite aunt.
 Before I add the liquids-
 In the oven
Here is the basic pie recipe. Remember, the more you vary and experiment, the more you honor its legacy.
We take this recipe so for granted--it's recorded only on a scrap of paper yellowed by time. When I dug this out of an old yellow recipe box with a missing lid, I saw that I've been using 4 eggs instead of 3 for a few years and it never mattered.
Separate 3 eggs-beat whites until stiff

cottage cheese
1/2 cup cream ( any kind)
1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg (actually forgot this was in the recipe--haven't added for years)
1/4 cup melted butter

Bake @ 450 for 10 minutes, then @350 for 20 - 30 minutes. True to form, I've never timed it-I just watch it close.

And that's it. Really. Next time I make this, I'm adding fresh lemon juice.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Your Sense of Adventure

It was a dark and stormy night… (really) in the wild interior ofWyoming. My friends Dave and Jeanne were sitting cozily in their home, when Jeanne remembered that she had an errand to run. The errand wasn’t an absolute necessity so she hesitated until her husband Dave said to her, “Where’s your sense of adventure?”

Jeanne jumped in the car with her sense of adventure leading the way, unaware of how bad the weather really was. Her destination was approximately ten miles away on a dirt road. The rain was coming down in torrents that made driving on the muddy road similar to driving on ice. Jeanne slid back and forth until she slid into a deep ditch. She couldn’t determine whether she was closer to home or the nearest neighbor. She climbed out of the car, into the muddy earth, and was pelted with rain.When Jeanne reached the nearest neighbor she was totally drenched and equally miserable. The neighbor pulled her car out of the ditch and Jeanne cautiously ventured home without her sense of adventure.

Some years later, Jeanne retells the story about the night she lost her sense of adventure. I’m thinking how lucky she is to know where she left it.

As adults we may not even realize our sense of adventure is missing; but if we pause and listen,  the evidence may be blaring: Are we too cautious, too boring? When was the last time we vacationed? Made a new friend? Took a class?

When I look at this photo of children I love, I remember watching them climb on the water banana with their sense of adventure leading the way. Can you see it on their faces? More importantly, can you see it on your own?

My children and friends' children with their sense of adventure intact

PS: I feel my sense of adventure waning--sometimes. So, last spring when I was ocean kayaking and Max came a long for a ride, I heard the most cherished words ever: "Grandma! You're dangerous!"

We had ventured into the surf and we cut the curl of a wave just a little to close. As it threatened to wrap over our heads, it looked like we were going to get slammed, but I paddled even harder and we made it safely--and got a great ride.  It scared Max just enough to utter those precious words: "Grandma! You're dangerous."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My Father's Tribute 8-16-2014

As a pre teen in seventh or eight grade, one night, I snuck out of Loraine’s front bedroom window to go driving with my friend Margaret. That I knew how to drive is another story—Dad made sure we were all proficient drivers at a young age.

I had stopped the car and we were talking to friends. I looked into the rear view mirror and I saw my mom in her station wagon turn around the corner. My foot hit the accelerator and I  took off, fast, with Mom hot on my tail. There were screeches around corners,  all the moves of the quintessential chase scene, but I couldn’t lose her.  I made it home before her, threw Margaret’s mother’s car into park and ran into the front window where Loraine let me in. I went straight to my room and waited for the consequences.

Mom came in,  angry and I don’t remember exactly what happened, but she finished and she told me Dad was coming in. I’m sure I was shaking. When he entered the room, he was taller and thicker  than I had ever remembered. I expected the worse. As he walked towards me, my heart beat faster and then something totally unexpected: He put his arms around me and held me close and I wept. I don’t even remember any words. Just comfort, forgiveness, and love—pure love, charity—the pure love of Christ for a foolish child.

At the very core of all my thoughts about my father, is the absolute that his love was deep and pure.  That love shown to me my whole life grew and extended as Dad  had sons in law, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He set a pattern that made it easy for me to believe there was a Father in Heaven who also loved me unconditionally, and who like my earthly father made it very clear what was right or wrong, what was expected; and when expectations weren’t met, there were course corrections.

As the mother of four children, I have seen the miracle of life, the first breath of life. I am now profoundly thankful for the miracle of death, that my father was able to leave a weakened, pained body, that he has joined his family and now resides in the presence of our Heavenly father.

I am thankful to my mother who has shown charity, the pure love of Christ to my father. There is a great legacy of parents who show their love to one another. Her example will forever be in my heart.

The last day of our family vacation with my children and grandchildren, was also to be the day I flew to Las Vegas to spend the last days with my precious father. On that morning with a heavy heart, I looked out the window to see a spectacular double rainbow over the ocean. I quickly called my children to gather on the outside deck. We all marveled together.  I then went out on the sand to take a photo and while I was there, I remembered the meaning of the rainbow.  It was God’s promise that the earth would never again flood, that man would live. This rainbow was clearly a promise of God’s eternal love and promises to my family. I believe in the covenants and promises made in the House of the lord and the ties that bind us together.  And I am so grateful to know—my father lives, and I will see my him again.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Dad didn't want a funeral. He loathed funerals and on many occasions made his wishes clear: a simple pine box and into the ground. Wanting to honor his wishes, my mother, my sisters and I, initially planned a graveside service. Each of us would give a short dedication to our father, to her husband--and yes, there were two songs that needed to be sung by Mom's friend with a beautiful voice.

The morning after his death, I clearly heard my father's voice, "You can't make all those people stand out in the heat." Dad was a mensch, a man of hospitality who cared about protocol, class and people's comfort. Leaving people in the heat would be worse than the dreaded funeral; but I still had to convince Mom. I rolled all the circumstances around in my head: the 102 degree heat, the possibility of a 25 minute service, the hassle of a bigger tent, bringing extra folding chairs. I planned a persuasive argument. When I got back to the house, Mom was already on the phone arranging for extra chairs.

"Mom," I tried to interrupt, "we may not need those chairs."

When I presented the plan, she too heard the wisdom in my father's voice. We could still keep it as a graveside service; we would just move it indoors to the mortuary chapel. But us girls and Mom were still committed to keeping it short, especially our individual dedications to our father. Short was important to Dad.

When our oldest daughter was married, we gathered post-wedding vows for a dinner with family and friends. I started the evening with a tribute to our daughter and new husband. I had said what I wanted to say, but paused and was tempted to add one more thing--until I heard my father at a side table, clearing his throat loudly with a pointed message Your talk is over. And because my father had spoken, my talk was over. I passed the mic to my husband.

As I prepared a dedication, I heard my father clear his throat.

The night before, I read my talk to my husband: four minutes and eight seconds.

In the meantime, Mom heard from friends and relatives around the world. Duane was flying in from Virginia, the K's were leaving their vacation in Laguna Beach. Mom's sister was driving from Albuquerque. The miles were many and out of respect, no one would be standing in the summer Vegas heat.

Mom's goal for the memorial service: maximum time one hour.

The music was lovely. My sisters wanted me to go first-precedent set--4 1/2 minutes. Next sister: 5 minutes. Last sister: no more than 5. Mom? 10 minutes. Almost 25 minutes left. Mom asked each of the five granddaughters to share thoughts--more beautiful than we could have expected. The last song. Directions and guidance from the mortuary director. I looked down at the time. Start time was 9:30 and it was now 10:23. We'd done it. Less than an hour. We had fulfilled Dad's wishes. We'd honored him without technically having a funeral. We'd all been short. No public viewing. And then the director asked for the pall bearers to come forth.

Oops. No pall bearers, but even that worked out perfect--the volunteers came forth: my husband, my sister's significant other, two grandson-in-laws, two nephews and something else that couldn't have been planned-Mom asked Dad's great grandson, age ten and sixty pounds, to help carry the casket.

My father, my friend, confidant, protector-- Reid H Zobrist February 12, 1931--August 12, 2014

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Please, Stay Around and Keep Us Humble

My 21 year old baby daughter posts this on instagram with this caption: #22 of being the favorite child--I just wanted to take a nap, but they followed me into my room and made themselves comfortable. Side note: Mom, I found your second pair of glasses.
Eventually, I would have noticed the extra glasses and maybe I would have chuckled, but maybe I wouldn't have given it a second thought, cause these are the kinds of things one does when transitioning into older middle age.  But glory hallelujah! We have a younger, smarter, prime of life child living in our home to point out the foibles and feebles of her aging parents. 

We actually have two adult children living in our home who are there to tease and remind us of our imminent senility. It is a favorite pastime of one of these adult children to move my husband's water glass or plate of watermelon, when he's in the pantry or with his nose in the fridge. At first, he actually questioned his own mental faculties.

The same baby daughter enjoys taking videos of her father while he eats (granted he is an intense eater). She put the eating-takes into a short docu-drama that's gotten more laughs than an Adam Sandler movie.

In a few short months, we should be empty nesters. Finally. Too soon. Who will keep us young? Or is it conscious or self-conscious of not being young?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Vivid Dream

I was awakened by the gentle nudge of my daughter. It took a moment to realize my ride over the ocean had abruptly ended.

I exclaimed with joy when describing the magical dream to my daughter: "I was holding on to the end of a flying carpet with my parents and a sister sitting in front of me. The ocean and coastline were alive with people engaged in playful activity. We flew past an airplane structure with a man in old-fashioned flying goggles and scarf. A gust of wind took my cowboy hat made of stiff white lace. My sister chided me for not holding onto my hat. I watched the hat swirl with the wind until it landed perfectly on the head of a child walking in the surf." This is where the dream was interrupted.

"Everything was so vivid and real," I continued my explanation, "It was more real than the Flight of the Condor at California Adventure/Disneyland."

"Perhaps," my daughter suggested, "you had a glimpse of heaven."

Friday, August 15, 2014

Lucky You

The flight attendant reads off the gate number connections: Dallas, gate 41; Albuquerque, gate 47, Dallas, gate 31; and then he pauses. "We have only one person catching a connection to Las Vegas."

I slump lower in my seat.

"Could the person flying to Vegas please raise his hand."

Wanting to deflect attention, I raise my hand before he goes on a row by row search.

"Oh there are you are. Aren't you lucky."

Why yes, I thought, I am lucky. 

Up to that point, I'd been feeling a little sorry for myself. Ok, I'd been feeling a BIG sorry for myself. But given the circumstances, it was excusable.

How lucky I was--I couldn't have possibly realized at the time. It only took one phrase from a flight attendant who wanted to go to Vegas. I was going to Las Vegas to spend precious little time with my father. How lucky I was to have three days.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

In the Village

I walked into the library, the double-swooshing automatic doors letting me in. Standing right in front of me was a small girl around four and a little toddler by her side. With all that wide open space, the toddler escaped! No one but me and the little girl seemed to be aware. I waited as long as I could and then took off after the little guy. When I swooped him up in my arms, I instantly worried about picking up someone else's child, but I know who I am, and he'd already made it half way into the street. Turning to carry him back, I expected to see his mother, but it was just the little girl, frozen with fear, a tear running down her cheek.

Bending to her eye level I learned her mother was in the car. Stutter. She was trying to check out a bag of library books but she didn't have the card. Sniffle.  Hmmmm. I dried the last of her tears promising not to leave her until we checked out her books and found her mom.  Trying to buy some time, we got in line to check out the books. Then she piped up, "There's my older brother." I called him over and explained what had happened.  No blame, no trying to make him feel irresponsible, but I did ask him if he would take good care of his siblings. The boy who seemed to be about 14 years old, didn't say anything yet, and I imagined he was resentful. But as I turned to leave, he thanked me for chasing down the little guy.

I have never felt more strongly that I was in the right place at the right time. I'm sure the little boy would have been fine, but I was there for that little girl. Her fright took me back to the day when I was the big sister standing behind the car rolling down the driveway, trying to push it back. My mother had run into the house for just a moment, leaving my younger sister standing in the driver's seat. She had shifted the car into neutral. I couldn't have been much older than the big sister in the library.

After finding the brother, I felt like I'd tidied up the little mess. But I hadn't asked the most important questions: What about the mom? Why was she in the car? Did she need help too?

My error was this: I let the focus shift to me. I allowed myself to feel good for how I'd helped when I really needed to continue thinking of how else I could help.

And that is the complexity of making the world a better place. It feels so wonderful when we actually help that it's easy to forget that more help may be needed. We are momentarily fulfilled and erroneously assume that everyone else is too.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Rainbow Promise

I awoke this morning to an email from Mom telling me there wasn’t much time and I needed to come to Las Vegas. It was going to be ok, because we were flying home today and I could wake up early the next morning and drive.  But it came to mind that I should try to fly Atlanta to Las Vegas instead of Atlanta to SLC.  I prayed and felt a strong confirmation to follow through.

We arrived at the airport and learned that the day before, tornadoes in Atlanta had put all flights a day behind and all hotels were completely booked. The soonest we could get a flight to SLC was the next day at 6:00 pm.  

Imagine the chaos and fiasco leading up to that point, hundreds of people’s lives disrupted and trying to book different flights. The line grew longer and I felt such compassion for the lady carrying a small child, who was crying at the ticket counter.  How ironic~~ I would be the next lady crying.

At one point, the Delta lady found a flight that would take me to LV. But it required an iffy standby status in Atlanta.  Without the surety of getting to Las Vegas and the impossibility of a hotel should I be stuck in Atlanta, I hesitated and in that short time, the two seats to Vegas were gone. I felt a voice: Have faith

The best Delta could do was the next day flight, but it wasn’t good enough. 

I walked over to Southwest and bought a ticket that would get me to LV at 9:00 p.m. that night. I now had two tickets-two options. Yet, I didn’t want to separate from my family, especially as vulnerable as I was feeling.

 A whole shuttle of people were waiting on my decision whether I was going to stay with family or go on my own. Tony was supportive either way, but he wanted me to stay with him.  He felt I had time, but I couldn’t deny I’d had a prayerful confirmation.

There were tears and disappointment; I hugged everyone good-bye and began my five hour wait for the flight to Houston.

For seven days, I'd been surrounded by family love and I wanted nothing more than to continue in that love.

 And then I mustered the courage to call Mom.

She was relieved I was on my way. That I could bring comfort to her, brought tears to my eyes. The bare truth about Dad brought a whole new kind of aching.
I previously hadn’t felt real pain at the thought of losing Dad because it was surreal. A theory. An impossibility. But now I felt the pain intensely and since I’d had to part with everyone else, I felt the pain of what it might be like to lose my husband or a child.  In the past, I have lost grandparents, aunts and uncles, even cousins, but they were old or ill, and it seemed natural for them to pass. I have lost dear friends and seen dear friends lose family, but there is a tangible distance when it isn’t your own husband, parent, sister or child.


Earlier that morning, I’d looked out the window and had seen a magnificent rainbow. I'd called for everyone to join me on the outside deck.

A few minutes later, I went down to the sand by myself to bask in the rainbow's beauty. I remembered the reason for the rainbow. It was God’s promise that the earth would never again flood, that man would live, could live, in an eternal state with Heavenly Father.  This day, the rainbow was a personal reminder of God's promises. I am a believer in the covenants made in the house of the Lord and so, I felt the surety that my father's imminent death would only be a temporary loss.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

This Could Never Be Replicated

The day after we'd reached the midweek vacation slump, when everyone had overdosed on too much sun, sea, and play, it appears this day will be much the same. Mid-day is so hot and humid that even I retreat for refuge on the shaded porch. 

As the minutes pass, dark clouds gather and the enchanting, bewildering sound of thunder rumbles behind us. Pretty soon, all my daughters have gathered in the porch chairs around me. 

 Paloma says "Oh look a dolphin," and then she sees three, and when I look up, I can see many scattered over a corner of the ocean.

 "A pod of dolphins!" I yelp like a war cry and launch from my chair.  The kayak s ready for a moment such as this. The dolphins move swiftly from the east. Timing is critical. Tony looks bewildered by my sprint towards him, but like a minuteman he's up and hopping in the kayak with me. Annika, always looking for adventure, appears out of nowhere, fully dressed, asking if she can come along.  I  look behind me and see Trevor, like a warrior, Holly just behind, paddling on the boards. 

By this time the sky has perfectly covered with clouds and heat gives way to a welcome breeze and respite from the pounding sun. We paddle hard and just as we reach the shore to sea distance, the dolphins arrive. We slow and hold back, basking in the spirit that only a playful, baby-filled pod of dolphins can bring. They leap, roll and circle. If one passes ten feet away, two more cross in the other direction. Trevor thought to bring goggles and he lays on the board and dips his head to watch several pass directly underneath. 

Annika whispers, "I've never been so close to a dolphin." Or "Dolphins are my favorite animals." 

We hardly dare to look away from the ocean surface, afraid we'll miss a dolphin leap or the mother with baby close to her side, but we do, to share a knowing glance without words. Our eyes and smiles say~~ This is magic and we all know it.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Literally Drifting Apart

When Tony and I paddleboard in the morning calm, we paddle just far enough to where the stillness is so complete,  so tranquil and other worldly, that we stop to lay down on the boards-- to absorb that precious other place where I feel each ocean ripple, hear every soft call from a gull, feel the gentle lap of sea water at my feet.

 On our last vacation day, we paddle farther and lay in the stillness longer. Without words, we savor the peace-- for who knows when and if it will come again.

The ocean's arms lull me into the beginning descent of a sound sleep. So peaceful--I want to keep going deeper, but I sense that Tony isn't near. I sit up. He is a small oblong dot on the horizon.

We are so far apart, yet we started together side by side with the purpose of floating blissfully together.

It stuns me to think how unintentionally and quickly we have drifted apart.

Drifted apart is a cliche I've heard my whole life, but this time, it has a literal, real and present meaning  mostly because I hardly noticed until our distance apart was measurable.

And I never want to drift apart from him again--both in the literal and metaphorical sense.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


On my second day of paddle boarding, I seem to have gotten my sea legs. When the board dips with a wave, I bend and lean like a sapling. I've mastered the beginning skill on an ultra light paddle board. It's now time for a serious and longer paddle.

I'm not keen on the surf leash-the velcro band that wraps around my ankle and insures if I fall, the board will only be a strap length a way.  But this water is so calm, I forego the bothersome tether.

About a quarter of a mile later and a hundred yards behind Tony, I look behind me to see the tether acting like an anchor, dragging and certainly keeping me from moving as fast as I would like to go.

The night before, I was thinking about my father's tether to the earth. He wants to leave, has wanted to leave for some time, but yet he stays. Is it enough to want to leave? What power, if any, do we possess in determining the days, the hours, even minutes before our earth tether severs?

I keep in mind stories of people who might have had small choices in determining the time of death. It seems that when death is imminent, a person may hang on until loved ones leave the hospital, the house or the room. He or she may be inclined to stay tethered when surrounded by love. It wasn't until my cousins left for a twenty minute bite to eat that their mother passed away. My neighbor and a different set of cousins had the same experience.

The death story of a friend's husband with brain cancer furthers the idea. When her husband finally succumbed to death, she looked up at the clock: 10:10 p.m. It was also the tenth of October. For years, the man had repeatedly told his wife and daughters that they were his "10's--a phrase taken from an old movie title. She clearly thought he'd left an endearing message by the time and date of his passing.

My mother has asked my sisters and me to let go of our father. She believes we might be the tether holding him back. "You've never known a life without him and you can't imagine a life without him." And she is right--I can't. How do I let go of a solid gold anchor that's always steadied my life?

So when I saw the paddle board tether dragging in the water this morning, I saw clearly that if I am my father's tether, I am holding him back, slowing him down, keeping him from going as fast as he can. Keeping him from letting go.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Bless This Mother

When I took this photo of Holly, I attached it to a text to her sisters: It's a good thing Holly doesn't drink. I thought it was funny, but when Holly good naturedly replied: The effect of waking 3x a night with a baby, 3 nights in a row, I had to rethink funny.

Bless this mother.

Bless this mother who is In full, joyous, tiring, mother mode.

Now that I'm post mother mode, I forget the stress and sacrifice required to take a family on vacation: the packing, the purchases, does everyone have enough underwear? A swimsuit that fits? Water socks, sunblock and snacks.

The constant mother mode has passed, but it takes a long time to shake off the intense focus required 'til everyone is safely out of the house and college educated. And every once in a while I slip right back into that high gear.

One morning, I hesitated before heading to the beach because I momentarily forgot I could just walk to the water without a care in the world besides the right book and a pair of sunglasses.   I mentioned to another daughter that I'd had a relapse of pre-beach stress with children.

She laughed with incredulity "That was ten years ago."

 Yes it was - point proven.

Mother mode is such a deep well into which we dive and seem to stay in forever, that when we finally do emerge, we still think we're in the well.

While in the thick of mother mode, I always tried to be home before, if only seconds before, the children arrived home from school. I still feel the urgency even though I have no children getting home from school--at least none that can't fend for themselves.

So dear little mothers of my womb, thank you for the packing, the car loaded with the baby's pak &play and sand toys, the shopping strategy, the super SPF and rash guards, the plane layovers, the 14 hour drive--everything you have done to share this time and your babies with us, and I promise to never make jokes again when you take your well deserved pass-out on the beach.

Friday, August 8, 2014

In the Moment (Without A Camera)

I've noticed our family pendulum swings in a different direction than before.

It used to be that during a family event or vacation, a few of us would always be posed with cameras. The photos were often priceless, but they might have come with a price.

I started noticing people who seemed to not live a moment, but who seem to live, to photograph the moment. I started not wanting to interrupt the moment by taking a photo. I wanted to see every moment live and not through the pause it takes to get the camera and watch through a lens.

 After the first three days of vacation, I notice that no one has taken a photo. The moments have been rich, precious and one of a kind, but no one wants to sacrifice one second of the event, or the feeling, to make a digital freeze.

Maybe we are getting older and lazier, but I think it is the difference of taking a photo with a camera or taking the photo with one's heart--- oft times the latter is sacrificed with the urgency of the former.

In my mind and heart always, will be Max paddle boarding with ease on the gulf, the paddle in his hands like a warrior's spear; Annika fishing for jelly fish with a net and always at the side of her aunts; Ezra's body as a wave lifts him, his feet paddling under the clear water, and Seb studying my face as I speak to him like he is the most important human in the world. Tony steadying, practicing on the paddle board until he finally gets it;  Paloma curled up on the couch asleep like when she was three; Jillian's facial expression when she tells  us the latest text from her latest while he visits Japan; Trevor tossing his children in the waves; everyone jumping into the kayak, onto the boards to catch the passing pod of dophins; Holly's persistence with her children when she has a cause; Si carrying the last food of the feast he has prepared; Tony and Annika reading on a beach chair as the sun begins to set; Mandi confidant in her one-of-a-kind swimsuit.  Each one--a heart photo.

Today I broke down and took my camera to the water--but only to document the family at play and rest. I then put the camera away so I could really enjoy the moments.

However, there is a sacrifice to relegating a memory only to the heart, because often the tender remembrances are triggered from a photo. Without relying on the photos, I am challenged to pause, drink more deeply, feel more deeply and ultimately, love more deeply.

Ah....but then there are the moments when one is so grateful for a camera at the right place and right time.

I just read that a beach in southern France has banned the taking of "beach selfies." Ah the French....