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Archive for January, 2009

Summer Tea Rose, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Summer Tea Rose, from our summer garden, forms a perfect natural mandala, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



I try to end the year with a Gratitude List. I find it a good practice to honor having lived another year. And to equally honor the people, places, and sentient beings who make life rich and worth living.

Last year, I used the ABC’s as a format for a 2007 Gratitude List and liked that structure, so I’m going to continue with it this year. I kept it simple, and I’m sure have only touched the surface. If I’ve forgotten anything or anyone, please know you are in my heart.

What are you grateful for? For many, 2008 was a hard year financially, emotionally, and physically. I find that a belief in something bigger than me, and faith, keep me going in the down times. I want to try to remember to live one day at a time.

On the 2nd day of 2009, it is sunny, blue, clear, and I woke up to exactly 0 degree temperatures, a perfect circle — the best of winter in Minnesota. Winter is all whites, blacks, blues and grays and makes me feel alive. And, for some reason, Winter always reminds me of the color of Spring.



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A – Afterglow – making Art, making love, walking in the sun, glistening humidity on the face of a July Savannah day


B – Building & Blooming – a writing life, a life together, a community, a garden, a studio space, a spiritual foundation


C – Chaco, Cravings, Creating – creating anything: a photograph, a piece of writing, a mandala, a clay set of Runes, a painting, a community, a blog. Chaco — I’m so grateful he is alive to take us into the New Year, our little miracle. Cravings – what do you crave? That’s where your passions lie.


D – Death & Dying – the threat of death wakes us up; the death of dry summer flowers makes way for next year’s Spring blooms; the death of one career makes space for the life of another; the death of a loved one or pet leaves us grieving, sad, yet appreciative at the miracle of one more day.


E – Eating! – food, food, food, all kinds of food. Don’t like to cook but love to try new foods and savor the old Family Recipes.


F – Friends & Family & Fathers – circles of closeness, moving out from center. Different levels of intimacy, all important to a thriving life. It would be lonely without family and friends. Fathers — I have had quite a few. I’m thankful for what they have each brought to my life, and the chance to rebuild broken bridges.


G – Gratitude – humble gratitude for others, those who came before us, those who run parallel, the children of the future, all teach me perspective


H – Humility & Home – it’s a gift to be alive. Humility helps me remember — Do not waste this precious life. Home is the place that holds history, the place I feel safe.


I – Introspection — most comfortable in the cave of Bear, what I learn there can make me a wiser, better person when I go back out into the world


J – J. & January – I’m grateful my brother walks with us into another year after spending time last summer in the ICU. It’s always scary when family members are gravely ill. January offers the promise of a New Year.


K – Kindred Spirits – those who travel beside us. They change faces from time to time, but that is to be expected. Endings lead to new beginnings.


L – Love & Liz – sappy, I know, but love is a wondrous thing. It heals many wounds. Was it in Bucket List where the narrator said, “We are not the things that love us; we are the things we love.” Giving is better than receiving.  Love lost brings the opportunity to love again. You never know when you will fall in love.


M – Mothers & Grandmothers – mothers continue to provide much of the nurturing in this world. My mother is my biggest fan and offers loving support to me in this crazy writing life. Thanks for traveling with me and continuing to answer my endless questions about family history. Thanks for believing in me. And for instilling into your children permission to follow their dreams. Thanks to my Grandmothers who walk with me every day.


N – Noses – medium, broad, ski-jump, upturned, and small. Noses hold glasses close to the eyes. Smells are the best connectors to memories. Think of your favorite smells. A keen sense of smell leads to a keen sense of detail.


O – Optimism – I tend to see the glass half-full. I am of the belief that setting positive intention creates cairns that guide through the tough times. Right or wrong, it helps me through sadness and grief and is the philosophy I live by.


P – Passion & Peace – do they go hand in hand? Maybe not. It’s hard to believe the things people do to each other out of passion. It makes it hard to keep the peace. Still, I believe it is possible.


Q – Quagmire – one of my favorite words. noun:  a soft wet area of low-lying land that sinks underfoot. What would life be without the uncertainty of sinking quagmires that eventually lead back to solid ground.


R – red Ravine – so grateful for the community who visits here. And for the creative practice that has developed around red Ravine. Every day offers new surprises. Thanks for dropping by, for what you have given to creating this space.


S – Summer — the longer I live in a Winter climate, the more I appreciate Summer and the Southern roots I grew up with. When I lived there as a child (and now when I visit) I never stop sweating!


T – Teachers & Time – the gift of time. Every moment is a gift. The next could be our last breath. Or something could happen that changes our lives forever. There is no way to prepare except to honor each moment. Teachers, mentors who are wiser than I am. If only I would remember to keep listening.


U – Underwear – it’s a simple thing, isn’t it, underwear? Some people don’t wear it but I can’t imagine not having it. Cotton, all cotton, please, and I only wear Jockeys For Her. More expensive but they last longer. So worth it!


V – Vacations – oh, how I long for another vacation where I sit on a beach somewhere and do nothing. No writing, no thinking, no work, no nothing. Simply being still and silent and listening to the ocean, Zen heartbeat of the Universe.


W – Writing & Art Buddies – they take many forms. Writing Practice groups, community on red Ravine, writing retreat friends, local writers, regional writers, artists who inspire, writers and poets who have written books that changed the world. It’s too lonely to try to do this alone.


X – X-Treme Living – life goes on with or without us. It can be an extreme act of grace to make it through another day.


Y – ybonesy – I couldn’t do this without her. The creative collaboration of red Ravine has led down many fruitful, winding roads. And it all started that day in Taos after a writing retreat with Natalie Goldberg. I have so much gratitude for Natalie who taught me about the practice of writing and helped me believe in myself.


Z – Zest for Life – passion and doing what we love keep us from becoming complacent. Please, don’t let me take life for granted. (Plus, Zest is a fun word to say!)




Raindrops On Roses, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved   Rose Mandala, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Rose Mandala, Raindrops On Roses, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Friday, January 2nd, 2009

-related posts and to read more about the practice of Gratitude:  Feelin’ Down For The Holidays? Make A Gratitude List, The ABC’s Of A Prosperous 2008 – Gratitude, I Am Grateful For The Alphabet 😉

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Castles In The Sand, Ocean City, Maryland, July 2005, photo © 2005-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Castles In The Sand, Ocean City, Maryland, July 2005, photo
© 2005-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Happy New Year to all of our red Ravine readers. When I was talking to my brother on Christmas Day, he said he was going to fire up the winter grill to make my sister-in-law’s luscious Sunshine Shrimp. She commented on ybonesy’s Tamales – A Christmas Tradition  that she would send the recipe along to anyone who wanted to try it. Here it is!

I’m a big shrimp lover, and since I’m allergic to fish, tend to order shrimp whenever I get the craving for seafood (just ask Mom and Liz how many fresh shrimp I ate in Savannah and St. Simons last summer!). All this talk about shrimp led to memories of sunny days at the ocean, so I combed through the archives and landed on the beach at Ocean City, Maryland.

Liz and I joined my mother, sister, and her family there a few years back and had a great time boogie boarding and bodysurfing. (I won’t mention how many pounds of sand ended up my bathing suit when I wiped out!). It’s also the first time Liz met my family so she was very nervous. I’m happy to say, she passed with flying colors!

It’s 4 years later, New Year’s Day 2009 and we’re watching the 120th Annual Tournament of Roses parade and looking forward to more black-eyed peas for lunch. We slow-cooked them last night and ate them right up to midnight. How are you spending your New Year’s Day?



Backbone, Ocean City, Maryland, July 2005, photo © 2005-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Flipper Claw Of A Dragon, Ocean City, Maryland, July 2005, photo © 2005-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Face Of A Sand Dragon, Ocean City, Maryland, July 2005, photo © 2005-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Backbone, Flipper Claw Of A Dragon, Face Of A Sand Dragon, Ocean City, Maryland, July 2005, photos © 2005-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




Sunshine Shrimp!



  • 2 lbs medium sized shrimp (peeled & deveined)
  • 2 lbs assorted fresh vegetables cut into 1 inch pieces (yellow squash, green squash, yellow & red bell peppers, red onion). You can also add mushrooms to the mix but J. & I don’t like them in this recipe.
  • 1 medium sized can frozen orange juice concentrate that has been thawed
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 tsp minced garlic or 2 cloves of garlic that have been pressed
  • 1 tsp dry Dill Weed (or fresh) that has been finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp each salt & pepper


In a large storage bag, combine all ingredients. Shake well to coat thoroughly. Chill & marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat grill & put ingredients on a small slotted grill pan. You can also thread these on a grill skewer if you don’t have a slotted pan.

Grill for 8-12 minutes until shrimp is opaque & vegetables are tender. This can also be done in the oven rack set to broil. Best if done on a grill, though!

Serve hot with white or long grain rice.



 OC Sand Castle, Ocean City, Maryland, July 2005, photo © 2005-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.OC Sand Castle, Ocean City, Maryland, July 2005, photo © 2005-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.OC Sand Castle, Ocean City, Maryland, July 2005, photo © 2005-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Thanks to alittlediddy for her Sunshine Shrimp recipe. Gratitude to all who read, comment, and visit red Ravine. I’m grateful for your presence here. And to my blog partner extraordinaire, ybonesy, I couldn’t do it without you! A very Happy New Year to you and your family and I look forward to another year in creative collaboration with you on red Ravine.

 May your 2009 bring prosperity, love, and joy.



Sand Dragon, Ocean City, Maryland, July 2005, photo © 2005-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Sand Dragon, Ocean City, Maryland, July 2005, all photos © 2005-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, January 1st, 2009

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