coloring inside the lines

When I was a little girl, my grandfather used to fill graphic design color books with marvelous artwork. What he made of those pages of geometric lines and curves still makes me wonder at his imagination and talent. He did not allow the pages to tell him what to draw or color. He made someone else’s black lines dissolve into his ideas. It must have been immensely satisfying, because he lined bookshelves full of this beauty.

Some years ago, I started thinking his hobby was worth exploring. I always liked colored pencils and sometimes crayons, and often chalk. Instead of talent, I capitalized on my ability to stay within the lines, my stubborn attitude toward completing things, and a great eye for good quality paper and pencils. Television-watching has never been more fun than it is now, because I can pay as much or as little attention to either pursuit – the TV show or the coloring page – as I want at the moment. What a worry-free zone I created for me.

therapeutic stress-relievers???

Until now. Everyone seems to be buying adult coloring books and art supplies for stress relief. We have coloring books that direct grief and coloring books that keep you from eating and others that encourage you to quit smoking. I have been years in this pursuit, and show no signs of stopping. I don’t remember picking up the hobby because of stress. It just seemed like a good idea. But it’s sort of like if the medicine helps your condition, didn’t you have the disease? And then another thought occurs to me. Shouldn’t I at some point in time feel cured and leave the books behind? All this commercialization of coloring has me perplexed.

I am left with one question. It’s not should I be worried? It’s how worried should I be?

….stressed out at the bungalow…. MarshaIMG_6262



Who are you?

Susan in Stockholm with a well-deserved ice cream cone (raspberry licorice with salt)

There are so many ways to think about that question, but this time I am asking it literally to myself. I have been Marsha at the bungalow for quite a few years, but Marsha is not real. She has been a writing alter-ego that I cherish and enjoy. When I started adding my real name, Susan, to my comments in other blogs, it had a nice ring of truth.

As Susan – who else? – I am beginning a blog devoted to walks at home and around the world. I hope you all will join me at

It’s simple – click here, then look at the top right of the webpage and click on ‘follow’ (I think a ‘follow’ button also hovers on the bottom of the page.) Of course, you can also click the link above.

For the first several walks, I will link the two blogs, and you can – almost – always find me at Restless Jo’s Monday Walks.

So if you see comments in your blogs from a Susan who sounds familiar, it might be because Marsha has become a real girl – Susan@onesmallwalk. See you around!

apr5 007
made for walking

Rock Walk 2


We walk today on Morro Strand beach. Again, you ask? Yes. Yesterday the wind blew hard and furious all day. That means new sand will be turned-over, new rocks exposed. Let’s go see.

It’s fun to look for rocks that have a specific shape. A broken heart?…


The sandstone is always a favorite, maybe because it is a challenge to get it to smile at the camera.


There’s always a poser or two or three.

My favorites are the colorful groupings

and the shiny, shiny smooth black stones.


But just about any rock will do. Happy walking.

walking logoLinked to Jo’s Monday Walk

Meet the Hawk Family*

Mr and Mrs

Stanley saw them first. Actually, he had been hearing their particular screech for awhile now on our morning walks, commenting “Hawk.” We would pause to search, see nothing, and I would say “Isn’t that a crow calling?” Then we would hear the ever-present crow sound out, as if reminding me that nothing else on earth should sound like that scratchy caw. And soon, Stanley would pause again, and I would hear the distinctive repetitive screech of the hawk from their eucalyptus-ringed home.

As you might have guessed, Stanley is a bird-whisperer. I am the one who fell in love with this pair, but it is Stanley who interprets them and points them out among the million other distractions that call for my attention. He has a razor-sharp ear for their sounds – an amazing quality since he has trouble hearing most everything else on earth. But the screech of this pair of neighborhood hawks calls him every time. As we stood watching, one – we think the male – flew away. The larger one, I hope the momma-to-be, flew to a more sheltered branch, then posed.

I want to say that this pair are red-shouldered hawks, but it is too early. The tail, as much as can be seen in my photos, is not the classic red of the very common red-tailed hawk. I think I see a slight smudge of copper along the shoulder mixed in with the more neutral colors. If you click on the photos, you can see a larger version, and help me with the classification. What do you think? Red shoulder or red tail or something else entirely?

The hawks will help me become a better photographer. Attempting to worm my way to better views, I appreciate the power of a telescoping lens, but the nuance still escapes me. My neck is sore with the looking up, and my hands waver with excitement as I try to hold the frame still. I may even try to learn the manual selections on this new camera for better views. As I get to know this regal pair, the camera will help me figure out exactly who they are, and what their days in our neighborhood are like.

it amazes me that I can sit on a bench far, far away and bring home this (fuzzy) photo

*Many, many thanks to Tiny at for her inspiring story of the Osprey family in Florida. Her blog is my motivation for this new animal-world friendship, loving birds from coast to coast, then posting their antics online.


We meet-up here in the blogosphere in an exchange of wonder. It still amazes me when I Skype with a friend in Ukraine, or realize that the BungalowBlogger is online in Italy the same time as I in California. Computers, to me, are still such a miracle that I invent cartoony explanations in my mind for how they work at all. Face-to-face meetings, though, I understand and value above all the others. When blogging companions meet-up, there’s a unique thrill. It’s as if we all walk out of a science fiction world and prove we are also real.


Once upon a time at the bungalow, we brought together three blogging buddies, handshakes instead of posted comments. While we all have interesting lives with lots happening, the moment that me, Marsha met-up with Barney and The Hermit has a very special meaning.


great place for a meet-up
great place for a meet-up

Thanks to Beth and Joe, it has happened again. In the tiny town of Los Osos, five traveling souls met-up, and what a time we had! If you think these people entertain by writing through their blogs – and all three, Barney, the Hermit, and Beth and Joe certainly do – you should hear their voices in story. I will treasure my second meet-up, and hope for many more in the future.

Love-Love-Love (sung to the tune of the Beatles’ song, of course)



Thanks to Jonelle at

Recently, a fellow blogger reminded me what a great opportunity we all have here in the blogoshpere. Her interests are related to some of mine, and Jonelle asked some questions that got me thinking… and that’s nearly always dangerous. This post addresses some of her questions. If you are a baby-boomer thinking about retirement, you are probably thinking about these issues also.

1.) What made you decide on international work/travel, vs full-time work, as an option?

We (Stanley and Marsha, as we are called online) had both worked for many years. We knew we would never be fabulously wealthy, so why continue to bring in more money just because? We live simply, have never been big spenders, so it was time to do things we were interested in, rather than things we had to do. I know many people love their work, and good for them. While we enjoyed work, it kept us following an imposed schedule, and we were ready for freedom to chose our own happenings.

International? When we were married, well over 3 decades ago, we immediately pulled up our tent posts, disregarded wise advice, joined the Peace Corps and moved to Colombia. Even back then, it was clear that the vagabond life appealed to us. We crossed many borders, and began to appreciate what travel teaches. We returned home, and spent the following decade or two doing the normal things Americans do: working, having kids, settling down. But as soon as Stanley had a chance, he retired (at 57 years old) and I did the same a year later. We contemplated what retirement should look like (for about 3 minutes) and then joined the Peace Corps again. This time, we lived in Ukraine for a year. Stanley would be traveling as a life style if he could, but Marsha needs her home base.

2.) What were the most important aspects of your planning that made this lifestyle possible?

We started our life together roaming the world, then settled down for a long time. But we always live simply and don’t demand that the world treat us with luxury. We live frugally, we travel well, but within our means.

3.) What would you say to someone wanting to plan a life of international work/travel (or something like you two are now doing in Ukraine)?

We actually are home from Ukraine, but what a life-changing jaunt that was! I highly recommend volunteer programs like the Peace Corps. The volunteer is offered a stipend to allow them to live a modest lifestyle. Their contribution is to offer their talents to a developing country. In Ukraine, for instance, we taught English in the university system. Living in another country is not the same as travel. Both are enriching experiences, but very different. It takes some time to arrange, but if a long-term experience in another country is what you want, it is completely realistic. It’s not a porch-swing behind a white-picket fence retirement plan, but something very much worthwhile.

Some boomers may be interested in short-term Peace Corps commitments. Hmmmmm – maybe I’ll just follow that link myself.



Never let your loved ones talk you into watching “The Walking Dead.” Your formerly pleasant drives around town will be filled with ‘what house would be best for surviving a zombie apocalypse?’ and ‘where would my water supply come from?’

beautiful, but no water to drink
beautiful, but no water to drink

Stanley says there is a way to convert sea water to drinking water, but I wonder just how practical that is when Zombies are wandering the streets and there is no electricity.