Friday, April 25, 2008

Celebrating My Niece Diana
with a little Project Green on the Bottom

Today is my wonderful niece Diana's birthday. Diana is the youngest of my sister's three amazing children (I've talked about Matt and in October, you'll meet Cindy). They have gone and grown up, something I find shocking since I myself have barely aged (emotionally anyway) since they were toddlers. Now they are older than I was when they were born. It's an outrage! But much as I'm stressed that their being older implies that I'm also older, I wouldn't trade the magnificent people each of them has evolved into for a truckload of toddlers or my own youth restored.

What are some things I can tell you about the wonderful Diana?

She has always known her own mind. I always tease her that her first word was "no." I'm not sure I'm kidding, either, but she has grown into the kindest, smartest, most generous and creative person you can imagine. And she's beautiful as you can see from her picture. That was taken when she visited me here a couple of years ago. I wish I had a scanner. She was an adorable baby too.

Diana has always walked her own path. She became a vegetarian way before it was fashionable and is now a vegan, a raw foodist and an expert on food and nutrition. She and John, her significant other, have created an amazing website called It's wonderfully informative about the nutritional content of foods as well as providing information on what foods are good for different aspects of your body/health. It's very easy to use and full of interesting information. I hope you'll check it out, not just because Diana is a wonderful person and put a lot of effort into gathering all this data, but because it's rich in fascinating facts about what the stuff we put into our bodies does to/for us.

Diana is brilliant smart. She has worked as a computer programmer or code writer or something way over my head - and she and her friend John have started their own new web design company (Xondie) combining their technical knowledge with their wonderful creativity. Even though Diana's techno smart, she's also a musician, writer, artist, photographer. A while back, never having drawn before, she decided to go through the book DRAWING ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BRAIN. I've included two of the the amazing drawings she produced in just a couple of months of working with that book. Is she awesome or what? She took some amazing photos when she went to Peru last year and with her permission, I'm sharing a few of them below for Project Green although I'm going to make a separate Project Green post today as well.

I think one of the best things about Diana is her passion for the things she believes in. It's deep, but it's always gentle and kind. She stands up actively for what she cares about - and she takes action to make the world better - but she does it with grace and without trying to force anyone else to her will. A good example of that is the campaign she helped run to rescue an elephant named Bamboo. I think that's the way great people - and this isn't just auntly pride - I believe she carries greatness - move the world forward.

I love Diana's sense of humor (I like to think it's similar to mine in some ways) and her magical, creative approach to life. She decided on where to go to college by - I think I have this right - randomly picking a state and going from there. She ended up in Austin, Texas, then lived in Seattle, Washington and, after toying the some more exotic possibilities that made my auntly heart quiver anxiously) is now she's happily exploring North Carolina. She is a free spirit in the best sense of that word. (Can you tell I adore her?)

Diana is also profoundly generous. I'm not sure where I'd be if she hadn't helped me to buy my house. On the streets, maybe, or in some kind of public housing. Instead, I have a home of my own and something to leave behind. Instead of scary and uncertain, my life is secure and rich in the things that count. Besides that life-changing financial generosity, Diana gives me a gift even more precious. She makes me feel loved. I was going to write a poem for her birthday, but maybe instead I will stay with the poem I wrote the day she was born.

Diana Susan Kantor, with a smile in your eyes,
May your life be filled with happiness, experience make you wise
May you learn to find the beauty in a world that's often sad
May fate provide you pleasure, protect you from what's bad
May you know the magic of the stars, the beauty of the snows
May you hear the music of the wind as through the leaves it blows
May flowers blossom in your path, their fragrance fill the air
And silver moonbeams light your dreams and keep you free from care
And may all the seasons offer you the best they have to give
And love and friendship stay with you through every day you live
If such power lay within my grasp, no grief you'd ever know
Joy alone would fill your days, no tears would ever flow
But sad times are a part of life and give to joy its worth
So the best that I can wish for you is less of tears than mirth
And so I offer you this verse, this frail and foolish rhyme
But may the love that lies within be yours throughout all time.

- Katherine E. Rabenau

This feels like such an inadequate expression of how much I love and treasure this unique and special human being who is the daughter of my sister and who is also the daughter of my heart. I feel so blessed to be her aunt, so blessed to know her. I'd give her the world if I could, but all I have at the moment is words and my love now and forever.

I Love You, Diana. Happy Birthday!


Below are three of my favorites of the wonderful photos Diana took in Peru... they seem perfect for Project Green.


Diana said...

This may be the best birthday gift I have ever received - you've made me feel like I must be a really terrific person!!!

I just love your poem. I don't remember ever having read it before. It's truly beautiful and I like to think that most of it has come true.

Thank you for always always always loving me and supporting me.

I love you!!!

Linda Murphy said...

Happy Birthday Diana! I love all of that you have wrote about her and I agree, she is a terrific person and extremely generous too.

The pictures are gorgeous, as well as the sketches! Your nieces and nephew have such talent at a variety of things. Like what they touch is gold!

Raven said...

Dear and Beloved Diana - You ARE a really terrific person. And a joy to know. Glad you liked that poem. Can't believe you never saw it, though of course despite being extremely precocious, you weren't yet able to read when it was written

Snoopmurph - they are an awesome trio, aren't they? I'd like to point out that you are pretty amazing yourself. I'm so glad that they have a friend like you.

Dianne said...

Happy Birthday Diana!!

and wow Raven - everyone should have someone like you in their life - you take the time to see the all of people, you appreciate everthing - the big stuff and the lovely tiny details.

that first Peru photo is amazing. It looks like a painting.

Richard said...

Tell your niece to look me up when she gets to North Carolina or talk to me now about our experiences here after two years.

We love the place and the people.

Lovely post Katherine, you are a good Aunt.

I mention you today at the Opinion Post, come by and see.


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to your niece :) She's pretty!

I love the PG photo 1 looking through :)

Diana said...

Thanks for all the birthday wishes everyone!!!

I also forgot to mention - I did pick my college by picking a state first. But it wasn't random. I had a list of criteria: far away from home, warm weather, not TOO religious, good schools, and opportunities to practice Spanish. That pretty much left me with Texas and California, but California was too expensive. :)

Carolyn said...

Happy B-day to Diana~ and she is so talented! I wish I could draw like that. Love the photos too, the 2nd one looks like Project Look Through :)

Mark said...

Great for Project Green, and one is perfect for Project Looking Through, too.

I would absolutely love to see these parts of Peru.