No Brief Candle

“This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it what I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

I Married Adventure

a speech for my daughter’s wedding

my daughter on her wedding day

I Married Adventure

by Osa Johnson

copyright 1940

A CLASSIC MEMOIR OF TWO PIONEERING ADVENTURERS a Kansas teenager named Osa Leighty married Martin Johnson, a pioneering photographer just back from a ’round-the-world cruise – Together the Johnsons flew and sailed to Kenya, and to the Congo, filming Simba and other popular nature movies – Martin behind the camera and Osa holding her rifle at the ready in case the scene’s big game star should turn hostile. 

A story of a couple sharing a passion for adventure while respecting both (“bowlf”)  nature and each other. 

What a great pathway to follow!

I discovered the book via an Instagram influencer I follow, 

“where design lovers shop for chic vintage furniture and decor.”

The influencer touted the book’s charm –

have this book out on your coffee table; it’s beautiful! 

and the book’s title spoke to me –

I related.

I married adventure, too –


I Married Adventure

It really is a beautiful book – inconspicuously set on a coffee table, its cover alone, prompting,

“Open me – see what’s inside – learn, discover, travel with me as I tell stories of living, living with passion -you’ll see I’m so much more interesting than just my super cool, Zebra-printed, authentic 1940s cover.”

Edmund and Logan, “life—it’s all about the stories.”

Stories matter.

Not only did I marry adventure, but I also mothered adventure twice

First to Logan Claire Peterson on January 6, 1993.

We didn’t travel back then – we had dreams of building a home – we sold our first house and used the profit to purchase an acre lot with a dated 1970s ranch-style house on Orangetree Golf Course. We wanted our girls to grow up in a more rural setting within PHX, recreating a place where’d we’d grown up – where neighborhood kids built forts and mingled freely among homes, and everyone knew each other’s names.

We had dreams of transforming the property into our home with a whole lot of sweat equity.

While remodeling, we lived for a year in a 1 bedroom apartment, and later, when the house wasn’t quite finished, the 4 of us moved into my parents’ Scottsdale home. At the time, my father’s work took my parents to live in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, but they frequently traveled home, and when they were home, it was a full house.
My parents always open their door to us, and to this day claim, our girls claim,

“nan and papa’s house is our actual Phoenix home.” 

While living at my parents’ house, Logan told her first-grade teacher,

“my name is Logan, and I live with my grandparents and sleep on the couch.”

We laughed at what her teacher must’ve thought and wondered if she’d fully exposed that her sissy slept in her crib at the foot of her grandparents’ bed –

It was cozy and not ideal, but wow, was it comfortable – home. My parents taught us the importance of open doors and home.
Kurt and I will always have a bed made and open for you, Logan and Sloane, and now Edmund. There will always be room for you in our Inn.

Traveling back and forth from my parents to our home under construction, we worked tirelessly on the house, framing, landscaping, roofing, plumbing  – daily, we instructed Logan to watch  Sloane

make sure she doesn’t wander off; please grab your dad’s hammer, bring your father a Phillips screwdriver, come hold the end of this board, carry these boxes to the other room – 

Logan never let us down – always doing what she’s told – Pretty sure she’s one of the few children who received an allowance at age 5 and actually earned it.

When Logan was about 8 years old, she stood in our hallway peering out the front windows; watching a limousine wrangle its long, not-made-for-U-turns body around the cul-de-sac –  we’d seen the limo on our street before – always around this same time, probably headed to another black-tie affair.

Logan looked up and educated me,

“Mama, I sure am glad I get to come home and put on my lounging pants at night and not go to all those parties.”

Home, she gets it – Home matters.

When we finished the house, we took a trip on the mileage points we’d accrued. We took our girls with us – the start of Kurt’s dream – traveling on points.

Every year Kurt dreamed of our next destination. He spent hours researching mileage deals, dreaming of where we could go and concocting point plans to afford –  He dreamed of far-off places where he’d take us, where he’d relax away from his mentally-exhausting job and where he could escape the monotony inside his office walls. 

Kurt led me to DIY; he learned it from his father. With every project, l gained confidence in my own hands, adding value and learning how to work through the discomfort and take pride in a job finished and well done.

Thank you, Kurt. Thank you, Jack.  

Entering the reception tonight, you hopefully saw the family photos displayed – Logan collected photos of Edmund’s and her parents, grandparents, and even great grandparents for us to see, celebrating their meshing of family histories tonight at their wedding dinner. 

History – history matters.

We have a history at Hermosa Inn, @ Lon’s – 
design ideas for our home came directly from Hermosa Inn, right here, right in this building –

Kurt and I came to Lon’s for dinner in 1996. It was a stretch for us in those days to dine here (still is!), but boy, was it worth the splurge for a night and for a meal like we had!  Kurt and I spent the evening inspecting and admiring the coved ceilings, the roughly sewn beams, the iron inlays in the windows, the clavos on the wood doors, the kiva fireplaces, the scuppers, the chocolate saltillo tile – taking notes while planning the design of our own mini-Hermosa Inn. 

We’ve brought out-of-town guests to Lon’s dining patio, attended birthday parties by the kiva in the bar. We’ve had happy hour on the patio with Papa Jack and Nana Bobbie, who basked in the Arizona sun after surviving a Colorado winter.

Happy hours, birthday celebrations, mother’s days, spontaneous get-togethers, office parties -and now most significantly, Logan and Edmund’s marriage in the garden with pastor Travis Clark officiating and with my beloved parents, John and Sally, Edmund and Logan’s families, and both of our most cherished friends in attendance – 

At one Lon’s HH and I caught a glimpse of the setting sun’s light shining through a lantern on the patio wall – I captured it with my OG iPhone  (wink at logan) – my friend, Julie asked me if I’d frame the picture for her house – that framed photo may possibly be my first RPSTillworks sale – Lon’s, a stage for my professional dream!

“Lon’s Lantern”

History wouldn’t be told unless I also shared the stories of our hardships while visiting the inn.  

Right before my 40th birthday,   
we found ourselves back at Lon’s – having dinner again –  but having trouble even looking at each other across the table, worrying about  how we’d ever make it (is this what they’d warned us  about –  of fleeting dreams, of paying mortgages, of real-estate crashes, of preparing taxes, of car repairs, of sacrificing for children, of paying for college?)  Fondly, I remember the peace over our table that night, and I credit that peace for getting us back on track. Lon’s is a home away from home –

For my 50th birthday, my dear friend Julie who was in the last stages of advanced lung cancer, asked me to take us to Lon’s for my birthday – HER TREAT – 
She warned,

“you just have to get me there!”  

I asked the valet for the shortest route to the dining patio. The valet attendant let me circle past their stand and park in a secluded part of the lot right next to the patio’s entrance where we had a straight shot to a table – I gripped Jules’ oxygen tank in my hand, wrapped my arm around her body and up the walk and into a chair we went. Jules, out of breath but still smiling, sat across from me during our lunch (I had Lon’s lunch special of the day — a halibut sandwich —and multiple glasses of delicious iced tea!) 

As the mesquite trees sprinkled tiny leaves on our table, Jules quietly and laboriously spoke,

“I’m going to be leaving soon, but I’ll visit you often.”

She chose to tell me right here, right then, @ this Inn.
She was going on another adventure – but she assured me she’d be back, in Spirit. As time reveals, she’s kept her promise and often visits as a hummingbird, hovering in front of me and poking her nose into conversations just to let me know she’s here, just as she did during our 20+ year-running Friday night Happy Hours, huh, Lolo?! ❤️ 

I don’t believe it was a coincidence that just a few weeks ago – @ Edmund and Logan’s tasting for this meal, the server accidentally and then deliberately served me the same special tea. I believe Jules’ hands lifted that pitcher, as always, assuring my glass is always, at the very least, half-full 🙏🏻

As Logan scripted on the back of our menus tonight, “Every meal matters” – and every meal does –  as much as platters of fish tacos and avocado toasts and piping-hot, caffeine-infused espressos matter, so do the meals of Monday night leftovers and Kraft Macaroni  & Cheese matter – every meal matters because every single minute matters. For it’s from the highs and from the lows that we learn how to truly travel life well.

Traveling well, going the distance, and coming home. Creating a place of comfort where we may return, a place to store all we’ve gathered while away, and a place to put into action that we’ve learned along the way – 
Home, a place for the two of you. 

Edmund and Logan, may you create a loving home and marry adventure too –  my dream for you is to have a world-class, five-star adventure as husband and wife, treasuring your history and celebrating your stories while traveling through life together.  

As Kurt has told the girls since they were little – “if it were easy, everyone would do it.” 

Marriage is hard, but it’s made easier when we avoid things that squash dreams. Let me warn you of the home and travel enemies – 

Home enemies include choosing to compete with the Joneses; how big is your house? What’s in your garage? What did your children score on that test?

Allowing these enemies in will rob you of your creativity, time, and money. Try not to go there.

Another home enemy is sweeping disagreements under the rug, closing the door when you believe you’re right, and turning off the lights when things get uncomfortable or difficult. Stuff happens. Disagreements happen.

Pay attention and don’t ignore the knocks or slam the door.

Enemies exist while traveling too – missed and delayed flights (God planned those for a reason!), questioning the rental car insurance that we’re all told we need, but do we? it’s good to practice making good decisions! and poor customer service – must I remind you, ”aloha!” 

The best travel and life insurance is to be grateful, grateful that as long as you’re together, does anything on the outside trying to turn you upside-down really matter?  It’s that simple. Be grateful for each other. Nothing else matters.

Ask questions, dig deeper and cherish your life together by living simply and with J.O.Y. 

A beautiful life — it’s absolutely a possibility!

God travels everywhere with us – go humbly, walk forward, shoulders back, head up, and look people in the eyes. Travel our world, not fearful but excited to show others His Grace, and when you’re at home, know that’s where the real work pays off – a place where you may be safe and sound, happy and sad, energized and exhausted – a sacred place.

Together, may you fill your home with tons of stories and even more good books – (tap book)

I dream for you  — abundance, adventure, and J.O.Y.
and today,

on your wedding day, Logan and Edmund  – you matter

my heart overflows with love and respect for you both

Your history surrounds you, angels are here to direct you, God’s Plan will astound you, and we deeply love you.

image by Mary Claire Photography


“Intro,” by Rhye



Angels will direct you

The Art of Showing Up

“The Art of Showing Up”

Every March I take the long way home to check on this prickly pear cactus. Over the years, without fail, she gets her flowers long before other cacti, and her blossoms tell me, not in an arrogant way, but in a subtle way,

“It’s spring in the desert!”

I show up to check on her, and she shows up to tell me,

It’s time for the magic!

and nudges me to

Keep showing up!



March 11, 2020

The world is going to “close” for over a year.

No way, that’s twisted.

March 11, 2021

A discarded black paper face mask blows across the intersection in front of my car. Weird, that’s no longer twisted.

After a year, we’re still masked up and not “free to move about the cabin”


Ready for some straightening out.

No Typos

“No Typos”

We inherited this 1917 Corona typewriter when we moved my MIL into memory care. The typewriter sat on a dusty shelf in my MIL’s garage. For years, my in-laws refurbished antiques, but with my FIL’s unexpected death four years ago and my MIL’s recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis, the antiques gathered dust, not new owners.

As I inspected the old-school typewriter, I noticed its manufacturer, Corona Typewriter Co. It’s 2020 and ironic that this year “corona” has a whole new meaning. Corona means virus. I also noted the typewriter’s age, made in 1917 – the year before that “other virus,” the Spanish flu threatened our world’s health.

In my MIL’s garage, while inspecting the typewriter’s condition, visions of WPM challenges and white-out autocorrection triggered memories of late-night research papers and of keeping up with my boss’ dictation; jogging memories of typists’ rules – to double space after punctuation and to include five spaces when beginning a new paragraph –

Many typewriter rules have vanished as have the chorus of the dinging typewriters’ returning carriages, but the memories are vivid and remain.

Deciding if I should take the typewriter, I thought,

My typewriter memories are clear. I remember. I remember fondly and positively my history.

Alzheimer’s robs memories.

Thankfully, right now, it hasn’t stolen mine.

Being able to think, to create, to type, and to remember are gifts.

I boxed up the Corona, put it into the Uhaul trailer, and drove it, along with my MIL’s personal belongings, 750 miles – from CO to PHX. We unloaded the Uhaul but left the boxes for three weeks while we settled my MIL into her new home. Because of coronavirus, my MIL’s memory care center is in lockdown and closed to visitors. I decided to open the boxes, finding the Corona.

I brainstormed how to display the typewriter and its symbolism in our home, Esperanza.

I found the Corona 3 font online, typed and printed my favorite quote,

“that possibility absolutely exists,”

and fed the printed paper with its specialty font into the typewriter’s carriage.

The Corona typewriter and its typed message belong here.

To our world, Corona still means a virus, but to me, it now also means esperanza, hope.

The possibility of us, too, developing Alzheimer’s someday absolutely exists, but right here, right now, we are filling Esperanza with esperanza.

No typos, you read that right,

what’s meaningful to us


we can remember.

Crop Til You Drop

“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” – Oprah Winfrey

“All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost.

The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost.” – J.R.R. Token


To live the life of our dreams, we visualize and edit what we want our lives to look like.

How big do we want to make it? How small do we want to manage?

What do we leave in, and what do we crop out?

When do we make changes, and when do we surrender?

Who do we ask for guidance; someone who’s older and wiser

or possibly someone younger and quicker? Whoever, let’s make room for those to help us get it just right –

 editors we trust for varied perspectives, and

who’s insight inspires and ignites.

Ultimately, it’s up to us to decide what we want our individual lives to look like,

but at the end of the road, may we gather together


marvel at our cropped masterpieces,

our dreams we’ve brought to life.

“Crop Til You Drop”

48″ x 40″ residential installation 07.24.2020

“Crop Til You Drop”

Holier Than Thou

I knew I’d be giving up sweets for Lent, but this year, I randomly added, “don’t touch my face” to my 40-day Lenten sacrifice.

And now, my seemingly simple sacrifice has turned into a worldwide pandemic rule.

I have no choice, but to

play by the rules,

Stay home and don’t touch my face until well beyond Easter.

Sometimes it takes a big wake-up call to realize our choices and actions impact not only ourselves but also others.

And let me tell you from first-hand (don’t touch) experience,

Playing by the rules is the only way to play. When we go off the path, we, more often than not, get lost,

And I really want to play again someday, so let’s play by the rules, stay on the path and stop this pandemic.

Hopefully,  this virus will soon be a thing of our past,

but right here, right now, it’s not a time to act

309A0535“Holier Than Thou”

Copycatting Cactus

  • stay sharp, not spineless
  • low maintenance
  • patient under pressure
  • content in solitude
  • adapt to extreme conditions and any environment
  • drink water when thirsty; reserving some for a drought
  • protect against dangers
  • inclusive to neighbors – just don’t get too close!
  • keep a thick skin
  • ignore what others think; do what’s necessary for the Kingdom

and guess what else?!

Grow  and


in good times or in bad.

“Copycatting Cactus”