Marion Owen Alaska

Sustainable Santa knows if you’ve been good

During this year’s annual Harbor Lights Festival in Kodiak, Marty and I joined hundreds of friends and neighbors to walk the docks and vote for our favorite Christmas-y boat. One little boy looked up at us and with firm conviction declared, “Santa Claus is coming to town!” Yes, Santa Claus is coming to town

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Kitchen Conundrum: How to store ridiculous-sized spice jars

There are a lot of fake kitchens out there. While designing our own kitchen, I came across many soul-less rooms featured in House Beautiful-type magazines. One look at the photos and I’d think, “Are you kidding? Knead bread on the counter? Keep a compost bucket by the sink?”

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A pumpkin pie recipe that’s sure to trigger conversations at the dinner table

Our food journeys are most pronounced during the holiday season. We wrestle with thawed-out turkeys, shop for once-a-year ingredients, and open cookbooks to pages stained with last November’s cranberry sauce.

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Why take another photo?

I’ve been carrying a camera around since I was ten, recording events from my “magic carpet” as I tour this life. I started with a Brownie Instamatic camera, a gift from Mom and Dad, and now I use various digital Whats-its.
Sometimes I’d wonder, “Why do I take pictures?” I mean, aren’t there enough photos in the world already? Well yes, according to the New York Times article, Photos, Photos Everywhere, “The growth in the number of photos taken each year is exponential: It has nearly tripled since 2010 and is projected to grow to 1.3 trillion by 2017.” You can thank smartphones because “Seventy five percent of all photos are now taken with some kind of phone.”

Still, after 50 years (okay, do the math), I love making images. When everything comes together I want to shout, “Yes, that’s IT!” and I’m filled with a special connectedness and joy. 
This why-take-another-picture question held court on the back of my mind for years. Then I recently came across a passage by Paramahansa Yogananda which inspired me to mindfully reach beyond the physical activity of tripping the shutter.

Any time you become fascinated by some material creation, close your eyes, look within, and contemplate its Source.
—Paramahansa Yogananda

Brother LawrenceTo ‘look within and contemplate its Source’ is something we should do at all times. It’s called ‘practicing the presence.’ All true spiritual disciplines say that to improve our lot, we must think of Him (Her, Divine Friend, Spirit, Allah, whatever works for you). Such devotion does not take away from enjoying life, rather it enhances it. “There is no sweeter manner of living in the world than continuous communion with God,” said Brother Lawrence, a monk who lived in the 1600s.
I’m no saint. I struggle mightily with restlessness and distractions when I sit to meditate. But what continues to drive me onward is knowing that the only difference between me and a saint is that saints don’t give up.
My question for you is: What are you thinking about as you quilt, cook, run, paint, garden, golf, hike, program computers, walk your dog, dance, dine with a friend, backpack, study the stars…?
And does the world need another photograph?
Just askin’…

The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I posses god in as great tranquilly as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament. — Brother Lawrence

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Seven prayers for peace

Every year, the International Day of Peace falls on September 21. But why not celebrate peace every day? I’m not suggesting you run around with a billboard declaring, “World Peace or Bust!” That accomplishes little. To realize true peace, true happiness, you need to practice it as you go about your daily activities,

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When celery is cloaked with diamonds

Let’s face it, celery is an unappreciated vegetable. A little goes a long way for me. Still, I grow several plants in containers on the deck where it’s convenient to harvest, but mostly to discourage slugs.

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In praise of: Winter spinach, easy refrigerator pickles, and aronia berries

This article was originally published as one of my weekly garden columns…
Let me begin with a gentle apology: Professional columnists say you should never devote your columns to more than one topic. Fat chance. Here in Kodiak, Alaska, there’s so much going on

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Why sea otters put on a happy face

At one million hairs per square inch, sea otters have the densest fur on Earth.  That’s more hair than on a black lab dog. All that hair means

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"A Life at Sea": My little photo essay in Alaska Magazine

Whew. Life in Kodiak, Alaska ramps up every summer: My husband Marty and I run an oceanfront B&B and host about 120 tours on our boat in the form of wildlife viewing/photo trips and gourmet dinner cruises. As the chief cook and bottle washer, I have

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