A Ladle of Love

On Friday the 13th of February, our family hiked in the North Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Now that might not sound so far-fetched to some of you, but to those of us who frequent these parts, beginning a hike at 3000+ feet elevation in mid-February is highly unusual! During normal February’s, we would snow-shoe from the point where the US Forest Service road leaves the highway, miles lower than the trail head.

Today the sun is warm, the skies blue, our jackets too hot. Shirt sleeves are just fine! We cross a few snowfields, but nothing too daunting. We shudder as a tiny owl flits right over our heads with a mouse dangling from her jaws. The waterfalls are spectacular, but a little too far off to really capture the silky water in a photograph.

At two and a half miles we stop. Mt. Ruth is right before us. Next to us a snow chute that looks a bit dicey, due to the rushing water beneath it, halts our progress. Shucks! This is as far as we have ever gone on this trail. The last time the snow halted us at the same point–except that was mid-July!

The only other hiker we see on the trail approaches us. He picks his route successfully making it across the snow chute, then disappearing around the bend in the trail.

Today we pause soaking in the sun and contemplating that even Tucson could not improve on weather like this. I find it a plus that we don’t have to worry about rattlesnakes or scorpions hiding under one of the warm rocks we choose for a rest spot.

My tripod comes out; my camera settings are chosen; I aim at Mt. Ruth just as the heart-shaped bowl of a ladle dishes out a serving of love above this remote mountain. Here is the picture of the day! I know it! You can’t make this stuff up! You can play around in Photoshop all you want, but there is nothing like coming upon the real deal and just click-clicking away!–and then dramatizing it a bit in Lightroom!

We start back to our vehicle heady with the beauty of this February day. Soon the lone hiker overtakes us sharing that six minutes beyond where we stopped he spotted a family of mountain goats not forty yards away. What a day for a hike!

We might have missed the mountain goats, but we caught the heart-shaped cloud. He didn’t manage to catch the goats with his camera either, agile little climbers that they are. Happily, back at my computer I download my shots to celebrate the heart that danced over the mountain! I’ll see mountain goats another day, but when again will I spot a ladle of love looking like a heart on the day before Valentine’s Day?

As I reflect on the great time we had with family over the long weekend, I think about a scripture verse I happened upon on Valentine’s Day.

From the Revised English Version of the Holy Bible, Titus 2:11 “The grace of God has dawned upon the world with healing for all mankind.”

I think it goes quite nicely with this photo. Don’t you? A ladle of love, indeed! That’s what grace is!

Mt. Ruth Valentine's Day_

Marlee Huber ~ For Your Flourishing Life!

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Saturated with Light

Years ago and miles away when I was a young girl and my daddy was a pastor, he was invited to join other clergymen in our community and meet the founder of “Each one, Teach one.” Daddy wisely brought me along. What this man shared, I do not remember.

I  do remember sitting on a folding chair in a circle in the basement of the Methodist Church knowing I was in the presence of greatness. I didn’t especially know why he was so renown, I just knew that my daddy honored me enough to invite me to meet this extraordinary visionary. It was the opportunity of a lifetime. I was the only child in the circle of graying adults.

Recently, I was introduced to Frank Laubach’s “Letters by a Modern Mystic through Awakenings Prayer Institute. When I mentioned that I had met Dr. Laubach when I was a child, the group leader’s eyes widened and she asked, “Did he glow?” That I do not remember! But I know he carried an essence I have never forgotten.

Written in 1930 from the Philippines, Dr. Laubach’s intention was to think on God for one moment of every waking minute. This became his passion to remember God minute by minute and to seek to flow in his Creator’s will. Out on the mountain top during his evening walk, he would allow his voice to flow with God’s words; back in his study, he would allow his fingers to find God’s words on the typewriter.

Penned to his father on 22 September 1930, Dr. Laubach wrote, “We have got to saturate ourselves with the rainbows and the sunset marvels in order to radiate them. It is as much our duty to live in the beauty of the presence of God on some mount of transfiguration until we become white with Christ as it is for us to go down where they grope, and grovel, and groan, and lift them to new life. After all the deepest truth is that the Christlike life is glorious, undefeatably glorious. There is no defeat unless one loses God, and then all is defeat, though it be housed in castles and buried in fortunes.”

Now I know why Daddy wanted me to meet Dr. Laubach.


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One Stunning Day in January

As morning fog spread a wet blanket over the city, just one faint light penetrates the soft gray. When the sun begins its ascent over my neighborhood, defiant pink fluffs appear in the southeast sky and the clouds overhead shimmer like organdy. The fog, like waves ebbs and flows throughout the morning. Once the mountain appear for a brief moment. I don’t recall ever seeing it quite this brilliant, except in a dream I had about a year ago. Today I grab my camera to remind myself of the dream of the shimmering mountain. I still wonder who the fourth child is that we unbuckled from the car seat to lead to the neon mountain. I know the other three.

Neon mountain

Back to this morning. Soon, I leave home for a class and afterwards, wander north to the tip of the peninsula formed by the river that defines our city. Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood is one of my favorite haunts, The Evergreen Arboretum and Gardens. January is not the most promising month in a garden, but I muse that perhaps I can find some interesting fog worthy of a picture or two. Beyond the chain link fence on the municipal golf course, two trees hold hands comforting themselves against the mysterious gray.

golf course

Even in the January gray I find brilliant blossoms like elegant ribbon looped and knotted and clipped.

blooming Diane

Meandering around the arboretum, a flutter of movement catches my eye. Curious, I stop and turn around. Seeing nothing, I question if it might perchance be an angel. A mystic once told me that when you see unaccounted for movement out of the corner of your eye, it’s an angel.

Row of trees


I pause to draw strength from a row of mighty sequoias while nearby more fragile trees stand motionless amidst the January gloom.

through the fog

Not surprisingly, the tough daphne bursts forth in brilliant splendor while spider webs cling to promising buds.

dapne is bloom

And pods cling to leafless branches, a trio of persistence in the midst of winter.

THree pods in the fogThe time came to hurry home. The fog is lifting in my neighborhood, so I pull into our local park perchance to catch some sunbeams filtering through the trees. Instead, I catch a fog bow, only the second I have ever observed.

fog bowHave you ever seen a fog bow? I remind myself that last time I had only an 18mm lens, not nearly wide enough for nature’s white wonder.

After  walking about the park, I chat with a dog walker about the fog bow, She has never seen one before but observes that she felt strangely drawn to this park today. She mentioned that as I walked amongst the trees she saw a second shimmering being clothed in white in the general vicinity where I walked. She said as I approached her the second being disappeared. Hmm. Perhaps there is an angel skirting my outing today.

Lying on the couch this afternoon, I look out the window to see a huge polar bear like cloud rising behind our house. I wonder about its significance. Is it an angel, too?

polar bear

This afternoon, I learn of the dreadful atrocity carried out today in Paris against men representative of freedom of the press and freedom of speech. I quake at such violence challenging the basic human rights we so take for granted. My mind returns to the flag pole and how limp the stars and stripes hung today. Not even a flutter.

Tonight candlelight vigils were held in France and beyond. I wonder about the angelic hosts who may be hovering just beyond the veil of human awareness overlooking these gatherings in the great cities across the world.

I wonder perhaps if the fog bow and the angel and the great white bear in the sky are reminders calling us to look beyond human solutions in matters that trouble the soul. Today, in my neighborhood, at least, the sky catches our attention. It is hard too ignore the comings and goings of the fog curling to conceal and then reveal the navy and the city and the mountain and the bay.

baker and flag

Tonight, I pray that our hearts may cling to the message of The Lord’s Prayer that it might be on earth as it is in heaven. I think of that winter night 2000 years ago when the sky filled with angelic voices declared, “Peace on Earth, Good will toward men.”

Comfort us in the fog of our confusion, Peace Giver. We need your assistance not just for today, but always!

Two park benches and a tree

Marlee Huber ~ For Your Flourishing Life!

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I Lost a Friend I Never Met

I never met Jerry Olmstead, yet he powerfully impacted my life. Let me explain. I enjoy walking and photographing and visiting gardens. One of my favorite gardens has become the landscaping at Everett Community College. I know. Seems like a strange garden to fall in love with, doesn’t it? Its an academic setting after all. It’s classrooms and sidewalks and parking lots–huge amounts of asphalt striped and pulsating with thousands of cars coming and going daily. But it’s the rose garden and flower beds that soften the concrete and asphalt that capture my imagination.

You don’t just enjoy the flowers on this campus, you experience them. You feel the love. I knew someone deeply cared about these glorious petals and the greenery that frames them. Obviously, much thoughtful attention went into these planters and beds and sweeping vistas of chartreuse and magenta, tangerine and lipstick red.

Yesterday, I read in The Herald that Gerald Olmstead, killed in a tragic accident on I-5 last week, was the passionate lover and Mr. Cheerful green thumb behind the gardens at EvCC. My heart sank. Days earlier, I had read the tragic account of a man’s untimely death. It wasn’t anyone I knew, yet I find out now it was–it was someone whose garden I reveled in, whose passion for color and life touched me deeply, whose joy emanated from the flowers he so lovingly tended. I did know this man by his work.

Just last week, on what day I do not know, I unwittingly pulled two tulip photographs from my stack of printed images and placed them in black frames with white matting. I hung them on the wall in my office studio. They look stunning and I frequently find myself gazing at them. I now know they flourished under Jerry’s devotion and dedication.


As I study them now, it is as if each one leapt out of a still life painted by some European master three hundred years ago. Their beauty is timeless. I will not forget Jerry or the impact of his life on this college campus. Impact like Jerry’s is memorable.


I have extensively photographed tulips in the famous Skagit Valley, but when I look at the images I have made, none speak so profoundly as the two images from Jerry’s garden at EvCC. They weren’t planted to be monetized; they were planted to be savored.

I’ll miss you Jerry–and I never ever met you face to face.

You taught me much about the flourishing life. Thank you.

Marlee Huber ~ for Your Flourishing Life. 

Read The Herald article at http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20141218/NEWS01/141219033/Gerald-Olmstead-EvCC-groundskeeper-loved-his-job





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Ice Cream Break Big Island Style

Teetering on the edge of a gloomy Northwest December day, my thoughts turn to November on the Big Island. It’s the day after Veteran’s Day in Hawaii. The Engineer and I are capturing one more 82 degree day of leisurely island roaming. Heading out of Keouhou Bay, we turn right. If we keep going, we will arrive at Volcano National Park and eventually in Hilo. Today’s travels, however, will be more about meandering than arriving. We’ll just be poking around on island time in case you need us.

On the way through Kealakekua, I spot two huge American flags flying from the veranda of an antique store. I also notice a big ice cream sign. Something about best ice cream on the island catches my eye. Right now there are too many cars parked in front for a good photo. Mental note. Stop on the return trip. Those flags would make a great image. Ice cream might be attractive, too.

We meander–but that is another story–and upon our return we stop, almost missing the antique shop aka ice creamery. The flags have been removed. Disappointment best describes the mood of the photographer.

Oh well. Let’s go in and order ice cream. The place is crazy full of everything old and imaginable that could find its way to the islands. We wander among Marilyn Monroe posters and Japanese pottery and island shirts, poking around and peering behind bric a brac and baseball caps on dusty shelves. Nothing particular strikes our fancy so we head for the ice cream counter at the rear of the store.

We make our choices and wander out to the veranda to settle into matching wood benches pulled up to an old 1950s style kitchen table.

I look down at a small table beyond the veranda. Lying neatly folded in front of me are the two huge 48 star American flags. They look so lovely.Day 10-  RED

I lament that I did not get to photograph the flags flying in honor of our veterans. My tongue slurps up another mouthful of delicious ice cream. Funny, I do not remember the flavors we ordered–only the transaction that soon unfolded–and the memory that the ice cream is very good.

An old pickup full of junk jerks to a stop in front of the store. The driver shifts into reverse and eases up to the veranda almost at our feet. One grimy looking fellow with a crooked smile jumps out and heads into the store. He returns and begins unloading the truck. We make small talk. Turns out he and his partner cleaned out an old property and reaped the rewards of their findings. Now can they turn it into cash? Let’s watch.

Basement finds

Drum rolls! An impromptu island reality show is about to begin.

The proprietor saunters out and begins to dig through the truck bed making a few depreciating comments as he frowns at the bushel basket of ripe oranges, an anthurium  complete with a mass of tangled roots, a Brute garbage can, old Japanese cups and grimy paper labels and political pamphlets. He sneers at the suggestion that he needs an unopened box of Pampers circa 1979.

Rifling and scoffing he roots through the stack of dust covered wannabe treasures.

Let’s peek over his shoulder as he shops the pickup.


Primo beer

The cash is offered.

The guys in the truck whine a bit about how little the shop owner is offering. This is good junk!

The shop owner peers over the top of his readers. Can these guys be serious?


Body language is everywhere. Smiles. Frowns. The twist of the head. The grimace.

The bargaining begins. The ice cream cone is disappearing.

money exchange

They dicker–$50? I wonder if the shop owner is serious or just generous. Guess I’ll never know.

money exchange 2

Happy sellers. I cheered on the sellers. The shop owner wasn’t too happy with me.

Invitation to sellBut then he made the offer!

When on the Big Island, be sure and stop and indulge in great ice cream and entertainment at the island’s best antique shop, Discovery Antiques. I just hope you aren’t looking to build your collection of 1970s Pampers.

Marlee Huber ~ For Your Flourishing Life!

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At Ease

Today I found myself laughing. You know that throw your head back kind of laugh that issues forth from deep within. I think it might have been a prayer. Or it might have been sheer relief. I don’t know. I just know that in the last eighteen hours I have had conversations with three amazing young women that I so admire. Each has a need. A BIG need in some cases. And this morning I stood in my kitchen and laughter flowed from my belly. It just came like the postal worker comes every day and parks in front of my house. I don’t invite him. He just comes.

But let me back up and say first, I am writing this blog because when I finally sat down to eat my breakfast this morning at almost lunchtime it came to me that I am so blessed to be A MOM, A MENTOR, AND A FRIEND.

You heard it! God has blessed my life. I am many things, but perhaps most importantly I am those three things–a mom, a mentor, and a friend. Yes, I am a wife–and a friend to my precious husband. We are one. He is an extension of me, as I am of him. And in my role I touch my world as a mom, a mentor, and a friend.

So why kitchen laughter?

Because I can’t fix anything! The needs are too big for me to fix. The ingredients for the fix aren’t in the house! I can listen. I can be two ears and lovingly pull out a dear one’s deep need, but I can’t fix it.

But then I can laugh! I can laugh because these needs are so big and I can’t fix them. I can laugh because right there in my kitchen I just passed these very big needs along to my heavenly Father transported with a belly laugh. He has wide shoulders and owns everything anyway. They are His to fix. He can shift some resources around so easily. I couldn’t stop laughing! I think He was delighted with the mode of delivery!

This morning I gave the cares of three precious young women to Jesus. Rolled them right off my shoulders and onto His. And I laughed–a deep belly laugh, because when He shifts the resources and opens the door of possibility — He gets all the glory! I don’t get any. I don’t want any. I am just content knowing it’s His problem and He’s good with it!


After all, God is at ease! Did you know that? A few weeks ago, I did a little word study on the word good–and guess what? One of the ways good as in “God is good” is translated from the Hebrew is at ease.

Laughter! God is at ease about these big problems. Imagine that! You wouldn’t want an uptight God would you? That wouldn’t be very comforting! Well I think I’m going to be like God and be at ease, too. After all, He is the Creator and I am made in his image. If He can be at ease, I can, too.

How about you? Can you be like God? Can you be at ease?

Marlee Huber ~ For Your Flourishing Life!

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Dazzled by the Glory

Several times a day I pass across the stone patio on my way between street and front door. Sometimes I am aware of the beauty that surrounds me in the bobbing heads of blossoms. Other times I don’t even notice the gentle sway of fairy wands responding to the breezes upswept off Puget Sound. I am too busy so the catch phrase goes and everything washes out of focus balancing on the periphery of my next agenda item.

Grass and flower

Yesterday, I grabbed my camera after reading an article by Darlene Hildebrandt on blurring depth of field in backgrounds by using a standard kit telephoto lens.  I reached for my kit lens, Sony 55-200mm, which I rarely use, mounted it on the camera body, set my f-stop for 5.6 and ventured out my front door to see what I could see. There might not be any people willing to have their portrait made, but I knew there were flowers close at hand always ready for a portrait. Now to slow down and focus.

Blurred anemone

Funny how holding a camera slows one down to discover a bee in mid air.

bee in mid-flight

And then I turned my lens on the Japanese anemones chaotic in their ruthless advance across my postage stamp sized garden caught in the mix between sun and shade. Some blossoms, wide open, held their little heads high, while others, round globes of promise, waited their turn.

anemone 2

My heart danced until I noticed the pathos of the one gathering its own fallen stamen.

anemone 3

For the next several hours I either teetered on the stone wall peering down at these colorful dancers on stems or I crouched down from the patio below and aimed upwards. When forced to step back inside and prepare dinner, I had 588 images on my card and a bit of a kink in my neck! All but the first few images are from that extravaganza of largely unnoticed pirouetting color just steps beyond my front door.

I discovered the black-eyed Susan’s about three meters beyond made a great backdrop for anemone portraiture.Anemone 1

After dinner I sat down with Lightroom 5 to do some post processing of my favorites. A couple hours later, eyes bleary with focusing, I stood up to retire for the night. My heart fluttered with the glory of God I beheld in the majestic dance of Japanese anemone. I had succeeded in blurring the background, but more than that I had experienced a visual worship experience. I had indeed seen the glory of God right out my front door. I was reminded that what we see here on earth is but the delicate fringe of his excellent majesty.

anemone 4

In looking at this next image I thought of the words penned by St. Paul. “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created:  things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible….He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:16,17.

anemone 5

I could have spent more hours in my garden Cathedral yesterday, but the sun dipped and duty called.

This morning I have renewed determination not to allow hurry and inattention to blur God’s whisper through creation. This is my quest.

Marlee Huber ~ For Your Flourishing Life!

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