Tuesday, December 10, 2013


I love December.  I love Advent, cooler weather, and everything Christmas.  I want to do everything Christmas-y.  It's so hard to choose how to spend time, when EVERYTHING is so darned fun.

This December is different than any we have ever experienced.  New people, new events, new scenery.  Oh, and Saturday, we got to experience snow!

I know, this is normal for many of you.  But our geeky little ex-SoCal selves got a little giddy.

We went to Lassen to cut down our $10 Christmas tree.

 Do you know what Christmas trees cost in SoCal?  This one started as a 12-footer.  Again, the giddy geeks did a happy dance.

Then the grandkids did this to the tree.

 OK, I helped, but they made me.  A little.  All right, I did the lights.  They glow on the ceiling and you can see shadows of pine branches.  It's really cool.

Along with all the thoroughly enjoyable fun, I tend to get a little reflective this time of year.  I've been thinking about one of the ways I've looked at life.  I've tended to have a mental checklist in my mind, looking at things as either good or bad, right or wrong.  I came to understand long ago that comparing myself to anyone is counter-productive, but I hadn't thought about comparing situations and experiences.  I think it's starting to sink in that one situation or experience is not better than another, they are just different.  I will appreciate and learn more from each day if I embrace each experience in the day for what it is instead of comparing it to other experiences. It's that age old practice of receiving each day as a gift, and practicing gratitude.  I want to play.

A dear friend gave me a sweet little devotional that I am really enjoying called "Being Home, Discovering the Spiritual in the Everyday" by Gunilla Norris.  I want to share something I read today that made me stop and ponder:

"Guard me against the arrogance of privilege,
against the indulgence of feeling
that I don't have enough, and the poverty of spirit
that refuses to acknowledge what is
daily given me.  Keep me truthful in knowing
where I spend, where my values actually are."

So with a heart full of love and gratitude I wish you all the merriest of Christmases.  May you hug and be hugged again and again.  From our farm to yours, love from NorCalia.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


It's been a while since I've had time to sit and ponder.  Two moves in six months, ordering checks (again), address changes (again), and looking at this new 1.14 acres trying to figure out what in the world we want to do with it to make it less labor intensive, especially before the rains come, have taken about all my time.

Life in the country is on a different page, check that, in a different book from life in the city.  Today I was online comparing propane rates, while a guy with a backhoe dug out the old garden area to prepare for the mini-vineyard.  Prior to the arrival of the backhoe, I shoveled many wheelbarrows of bark into another area of the yard to be recycled, and pulled up miles and miles and layers and layers of weed stop.  I no longer have any white socks.  Grime goes right through my cute little Orange County gym shoes, I discovered.

A little honesty.  There are so many emotions wrapped up in this new life adventure.  Right now I'm looking out the window through gorgeous green trees at my daughter's red livestock barn.  The sheep and goats scamper by every now and then (apparently it's mating season, hence the scampering), and I love this view with everything in me.  I love that my blood pressure has dropped 10 points since leaving my OC job.  I also love how close our kids and grandkids are.  But we are no longer the Disneyland, two visit a year grandparents.  Day to day contact means changing roles and new ways of interacting for all of us.  And there are days I feel sad and lonely.  I miss my friends, and restaurants, and Brent's easy work schedule.

Much of what I'm feeling has nothing to do with regret, because honestly, I have none.  I'm realizing that what I'm feeling is the pain of letting go.  I'm starting to see that if my hands are full, I can't pick up anything new.  This is a season of making space, of openness to new people and experiences, and letting go of the security of the familiar.  I am doing things I never though I would do, and liking them.  I'm trying things I never thought I could do, and growing stronger.  I'm learning to love a new community, and finding places where I can connect. And I'm learning how to walk through the big and the small things with family every day.  What an incredible gift.

My empty hands have room to hold new things, new people, new adventures.  I feel so privileged to have this opportunity to expand and grow and learn.  Almost every day I work physically hard enough to experience sore muscles. The pain in my muscles echos the pain in my heart of letting go.  And they are both good. And neither will last forever.

Love from NorCalia
PS:  There is a prayer that I have been praying for years that I love.  It pretty much sums up my life.  Just in case you're curious, it's call the Welcoming Prayer.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


When I titled this blog "Season of Change", I had no idea what I was doing.  We had just retired from both our jobs, said goodbye to Brent's family and all our dear friends of many, many years, and moved over 500 miles for hubby to finish his MFT intern hours, and to live closer to half of our kids.  Five months later, we're moving again.  Ten minutes away.  Next door to our kids.

There is so much involved in this move.  The house we have been all dreaming about for over three years unexpectedly went on the market.  First at a price way out of our reach, but eventually ending at a price very close to the appraised value.  We've jumped through every hoop, and have given escrow everything but a blood sample.  Escrow finally closed August 30.  We're moving Saturday.

But the house is not the whole story.  The story is much deeper and richer. We have been city people our whole lives.  The house comes with 1.14 acres.  We were concerned, did we really want to maintain this much land?  Could we physically manage it? Country living is a whole new world of propane and septic tanks, goats and sheep for neighbors and frog control. Do the kids even want us this close? What. Are. We. Thinking.

Part of this journey involved putting in an offer on a pristine little house with a pool, in move-in condition, on the other side of town. Town living. After the offer was in place, we both realized, we were kinda sad.  We hoped we didn't get the house.  Fortunately, we didn't.

This whole process was a 30 day discernment of asking for guidance, and seeing the hand of God in the process.  There were many tiny little details that constantly confirmed that we were on the right path.  My process has been one of defining what I really want, identifying what is really important, and rediscovering long abandoned dreams.  When I think about what brings me joy, my first thoughts are of our kids, their spouses, and all the grandkids.  If only the Atlanta contingency could join us, life would be complete.  

What we have both come to realize is we wanted to invest in a lifestyle.  First and foremost, it's a lifestyle of relationship with our kids and grandkids. That meant no other house would really do.  I began to realize that no matter how beautiful a house looked, my heart was empty unless the house could facilitate closeness to the people I love.  This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I would have been heartbroken to let it pass by.  Oh, and in case you were wondering, the kids do want us close by.

This adventure also represents an investment into a physically active outdoor lifestyle, learning to develop and maintain our little acre.  And I have dreamed of having a little land since I was sixteen.  Now I'm reading about organic vineyards, hoping to plant one, and that it might yield a little vino in three years.  A few raised beds will also be part of my future.  I'm lucky to have my beautiful daughter as a mentor in this area.  I'm awakening to some long dormant excitement about bringing neglected parts of this land to life. I'm guessing this process can't help but awaken neglected parts of my little person as well.

And as a bonus, I've had the opportunity to spearhead every part of this home purchase, from securing a loan, to finding an agent, and working through the challenges of escrow.  This whole process has been healing for me from some very early internalized messages about how a woman functions in the world.  Healing, freedom, gratitude.

And so at 57, a new adventure.  We both know it's more than just proximity to the kids, and developing the land.  We're looking forward to new relationships and involvement in our new community.  Season of change, indeed.  I couldn't be more thankful.

Love from NorCalia,
Ma & Pa Scarborough
(Yep, that's the farm below)

Sunday, August 4, 2013



Part of the new adventure in NorCalia revolves around food.  Mostly food coming out of my kitchen.  We have discovered that the local palette is different that what we experienced in the OC, resulting in eating out becoming a very rare occurrence.  Not that I mind most of our food coming out of my kitchen.  It's life giving to return to some old practices of slow food prep I used to practice when the kids were small.  And my daughter is teaching me some new tricks as well.

Right now in my pantry I have three kinds of low-sugar, home made jam. The freezer is filling up with pesto cubes (for sauces through the winter), chicken stock, seasoned pinto beans, and enchilada sauce.  We get our weekly produce box from a local CSA, pastured eggs from Katie, and once a month I receive lovely organic food supplies from Azure Standard.  Not to mention all the fresh produce from Katie's garden/farm.  All this food prep takes time, time I didn't have in my previous life working a 40+ hour week, and going to school.  I had forgotten the satisfaction and pure joy of food prep. Not only is our food getting healthier, but the preparation process is life giving.

Apparently what is happening is I am becoming part of the Slow Food Movement.  Who knew there was a movement?  This Movement started in 1986, when I was busy caring for two small kiddos and cooking from scratch to stretch every dollar until it screamed.  The movement was in reaction to the fast food movement, and centered around the belief that "all people can eat food that is good for them, good for the people who grow it, and good for the planet."

We now live in a place that has easy access to great organic, pastured meats and fresh, local organic produce, and I have the luxury of time to devote to food prep. And after being exposed to the DVD  Food Inc., and Michael Pollen's books "Omnivore's Dilemma" and "Cooked", I see food differently.  Not just from a health standpoint, but from a desire to support local agriculture and reduce the waste of packaging involved in processed "food type substances"(a Pollen term).

Honestly, this doesn't mean I'll never again have an In-N-Out cheeseburger.   Someone is right now making me a delicious chocolate birthday cake from scratch loaded with sugar, butter, and white flour, and it smells divine.  But I am thinking more about the impact of what I choose to eat on my own body, and the planet I'm leaving to my grandchildren.

All this rambling began with a desire to share one of my favoriteist recipes.  Pesto.  Yum.  I can sit with this pesto, a box of crackers, and eat myself silly.  I truly hope you enjoy.

Basil Pesto Recipe
2 cups organic basil 
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 cloves garlic
salt & pepper to taste
squeeze of lemon (to slow oxidation)

1.  Throw everything in a food processor.  It will look like this:

2.  Pulse food processor until it's all pretty finely pureed.
3.  Get some crackers.  Eat yourself silly.  All that green, garlic, and olive oil has to be healthy, right?
4.  If there's any left, freeze in an ice cube tray.  When frozen, transfer cubes to a glass container in your freezer.  A cube mixed with tomato sauce makes the base of an awesome marinara or pizza sauce.

Note:  The top layer of the pesto will oxidize and turn dark pretty quickly.  Don't let it scare you, it's still delicious.

Love from my NorCalia kitchen,

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Making the shift from urban to rural living is involving challenges and surprises.  I still feel like I'm crawling on the freeway, and I'm learning to be patient EVERYWHERE because everyone moves more slowly than I'm used to moving.  But they are all so nice and calm.  Perhaps there is something to be learned?

We're still in shock realizing how close we live to natural beauty.  A couple of Saturdays ago we took the drive to the headwaters of the Sacramento River, at the base of Mt. Shasta.  We wanted to see Shasta before all the snow melted in the 112 degree heat we have been experiencing.

The water in this stream has been filtering for 50 years through Shasta before it emerged.  It is reported to be the purest water in the state.  People come from miles around to fill their water jugs. We filled our little tourist bottles, drank deeply, and waited for the miracle.  The water was clear and cold and delicious.  I think something miraculous happened.  I feel 20 years younger!  Oh wait, just looked in the mirror.  Never mind.

The next weekend we made our first trip to Lassen, and found a shallow lake for us to wade in and the kids to swim in.  We unexpectedly ran into some friends, making the day richer for us all.  By the time we got home at 6:00 pm it had cooled to a pleasant 93 degrees.  Adjust body, adjust.

The next Saturday (sense a theme?) we looked for a place to take a hike where there would be water, and our nifty EveryTrail app led us to Whiskeytown Falls. (Warning:  map apps do not work in the mountains far from town.  Additional greenhorn warning:  when going on a hike in the mountains, take extra water, protein bars, and wear hiking shoes NOT, gym shoes.)

The pictures don't do it justice.  Six miles, round trip.  In gym shoes.  So much to learn.  This helped.

Along the way we met Bambi.  (Note:  this is not a closeup.)  She was a little too friendly for her own good.

We are learning a few things along the trails.  We are learning that we feel revived and alive, having the luxury to experience nature on a regular basis.  Preoccupations seem to fade away or fall into a healthy perspective in the light of the glorious handiwork of creation.  The physical movement is also helpful for our creaking bodies.  Move it or lose it, so I hear.

But I have another interesting observation.  Right now on the journey I feel like I'm playing a role, that it's not really me on these adventures.  Everything I do feels so unnatural, unfamiliar, and sometimes uncomfortable and forced, even if it is enjoyable.  This is confusing.  This is my life, but it doesn't feel like my life.  Then the other day I realized, change is supposed to feel this way.  Any change we make in our lives, even good change, feels at the beginning...unnatural, unfamiliar, uncomfortable.  If I really want to live differently, and embrace this new country and new lifestyle, along with its new opportunities and challenges, then these feelings are a normal part of the process.  I can relax into the reality that I am embracing a change of lifestyle, a change of activities, and the opportunity to build new relationships.  This change involves letting go of a beloved past part of my life to have open hands to embrace the new and emerging present.  Discomfort is not necessarily an enemy to be avoided.  Sometimes its the doorway into new life.

Love from NorCalia

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Going to the gym last week, this sign was posted on the front door, and it stopped me in my tracks, making my heart happy.  A place of business (two locations actually) were closing so that all the staff could attend a co-worker's wedding.  How awesome is this?  Making time for community over making a buck.

I love a story in Julia Child's book "My Life in France" with a similar theme.  I'm going to butcher retelling this story, but the gist of it is that Julia's husband Paul was part of a US agency in France after WWII.  One of his responsibilities was to help local business people grow the post war economy of Paris. A Parisian restaurant owner was told she should increase her clientele in order to increase her profits. She scoffed at this, and dismissed the idea with the explanation that she had plenty of customers, made enough money, and still had time to enjoy life.  Why would she want to make more money?

In this new season, I have the luxury of time to think.  I've realized that  I don't need more time to do the things that are important to me.  I'm learning that the roadblock to doing the things I value is me, not lack of time. I'm never going to have more time.  My desire is to embrace what I value right now.  For my compulsive, structured little self, that means letting go of some of the structure to make room for the things, and most of all, people I value.  It means learning to embrace being spontaneous, and learning to simplify things I have made complicated.  How much is enough? What will give life to me and the people around me?  Think I'll close early today.

Friday, May 10, 2013


One of my early solo outings in Redding was to get some honey.  Katie took me to the undisclosed, unmarked honey location a few weeks ago, and nobody seemed to be available to sell honey, so I decided to try to find my little introverted self's courage and make the trip alone.  This is how you buy honey up here.  You drive down a specific dirt road (I have no idea how this place was initially discovered), turn in where there is no sign, but there is a house and some farm buildings, and when you exit the car, you notice the presence of bees.  Off in the distance, there are lots of hives.  You hope someone sees you, and comes your way, then you get to buy honey.

I was in luck, and a bee guy came to ask if I wanted to buy honey, and how much I wanted (there is a five-pound minimum.)  Then he asked me where I lived, in detail, including the street, and where I had moved from.  He was interested, and not in a creepy way.  We had a conversation, and I tried to pretend I wasn't at all terrified of the bees buzzing around my head. I got my honey, and he went back to his hives.

Attentive, interested conversation; it's a way of life here.  We went to open a bank account, and it took an hour.  We know everything about the person who was helping us, from where he proposed to his wife (on Half-Dome) to the location of some of the best restaurants in Redding.  When I joined the local gym, the owner, after a long conversation about his family, how the gym started, and where the best trails are in the area, said "we look out for each other here."  This was the second time someone had said this to me.

Neighbors chat when we're outside.  Community is desirable, and normal.  Hmm.

A few weeks ago at church, I heard a still, small little voice say "you're in a new country." I felt myself immediately relax.  To me, "a new country" means everything is different in this new season.  I don't have to look for things that are similar to what I know.  I can enjoy everything and everyone without comparing and critiquing. Nothing is going to look the same as it did before. I'm learning to see with new eyes, and an open heart.

On a completely different, and random note, we have been playing with liquid.  Brent's first cappuccino  made with his happy retirement Jura.  It was made in a Starbucks cup, just to be passive-aggressive:

And I made vanilla!

I have extra to share, but you have to come to Redding to claim it.  Then we could go to the honey place and see if there's anybody there to sell honey.

Love you all,
Mamma Scarburrito