Friday, February 24, 2012

Time for Celebration

Last Saturday, I debated. Was it worth the typical airline hassles and expense to fly from Asheville to New York for less than a week? Spend five hours traveling each way to spend only two and a half days in my old hometown? I admit that I kind of agonized over this decision, when truthfully it should have been a no-brainer – lead with the heart. And so I did.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Memory Lane

I was looking through a box of old photos for images to use in artwork. What a trip. A bit like a near death experience - the moments of my life flashing before my eyes. Too many to post, but here are some highlights from childhood.

Check out the old Plymouth

Me and My Bro, Josh

Someone's special event?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In the Zone

The skill I've used most in my life is probably writing. Journals, business writing, curricula, grants, fiction, poetry, resumes and cover letters, publicity, journalism, letters, now blogs. There may even be more examples that have slipped my mind. But writing is arduous. For the most part, it is a slow process to create the first draft, and sometimes the editing borders on painful. Creating art is not like that. I suppose it's a left brain-right brain thing. When I move away from my to-do list and out of my chattering mind, I can play with the myriad of tools and materials and collected ephemera in my craft studio. When I approach my old art table with a "let's see what happens" today attitude, that's when I lose my self in "the zone."

On the weekend I took a three hour watercolor workshop with Susan Lingg through the North Carolina Arboretum's Adult Education Fine Arts Program. She was an inspirational role model ("remember to breathe, get excited about your chance to play with color...."), an experienced technician ("drag the paint away from the dab, soak it in the puddle, scoop the water like a duck going down for a fish...."), and an enthusiastic coach ("that's good, see what you've got there?"). 

While there, I was uncertain about what I was doing. I had always shied away from watercolor, acrylic being so much more forgiving as you can hide your mistakes by layering on more paint. But Susan made it fun and I allowed myself to experiment. It was an exercise of left brain student meets right brain artist. Jangling, but do-able.

Yesterday I played at my own table. I finished the two cards we began at the workshop and dabbled a little on my own. Hmm, not terrible and definitely more freeing than I expected. I may even buy a few tubes of professional grade paint.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In the Spirit of the Season

Last night I got the message below from my very talented and soul-full friend, Mark Bloom. Mark is a muse as well as being amusing. He was the "Uber-Master" Director (a.k.a. team leader) the years I participated in the "48 Hr. Film Festival" here in Asheville. He coordinates a local freelance writers' group I drop in on from time to time. And he sends the occasional e-mail urging action on worthwhile causes or bearing invitations to stimulating events. I'm equally fond of Mark's wife, Deborah, with whom I share a penchant for crochet and personal growth. And when you see the picture of Jemimah, you'll know who my real favorite is in their family. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Begin the Week with a Laugh

Why stop at one laugh? Let me know if you could really stop at one while watching this.

Research has shown that laughing can help in:
  • lowering blood pressure
  • reducing stress hormones
  • increasing muscle flexion
  • boosting immune function by raising levels of infection-fighting T-cells, disease-fighting proteins called Gammainterferon and B-cells, which produce disease-destroying antibodies.
  • triggering the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers
  • producing a general sense of well-being.

 Get your dose everyday!

Friday, February 10, 2012

What Day Is This?

Is it Friday already? What was it I wanted to share with my blog followers? Oh, I remember, check out this wonderful rendition of the Barbara Streisand classic, "Memories," as rendered for long-lived persons by cabaret singer Pam Peterson.

Have a great weekend. And remember to check back here on Monday.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Not Really Snow

Gropple on the Can
Not snow. Not hail. Not sleet. It was "gropple" coming down yesterday. So said my friend Dale encountered on the morning ridge loop. She should know; she's married to Tom, the director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center. He's the top weather guy in the country.

I had to look it up. The Urban Dictionary:
1. gropple 90 up, 30 down

A weather term, referring to a light, hail-like snow.
The forecast is calling for rain changing over to gropple, with sleet and hail mixed in.
hail snow sleet rain ice
by GuyPD Nov 13, 2006

2006 this term was entered into our lexicon? Who knew? 

I don't care what the definition is. Hey Tom, it was supposed to stay in the 50's all week. This sudden reminder that winter is not done with us is distressing, though probably better for the trees and shrubs. They need their rest.

Gropple on Miss Chelsea's fur

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Soul Searching

I attended the first meeting of a new bookclub this week. "Soul Sisters Book Club" is a pleasant spin off of the "Seasoned Women Meet-Up" I've been attending for a few months. The women are all "of a certain age" and we've established a warm trust level in the group, so as soon as we got started, we really got started.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Future Is Now?

How we'll be able to power the electricity to manufacture and operate these amazing systems in the future as our supply of fossil fuel diminishes is an open question. That being said, this video speaks to the unlimited potential of human creativity.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Down Time

I spent the last two days "laying low". Due to my own stupidity. I misread the label on an over-the-counter medicine package last week, and wound up dosing myself with something that produced 48 hours of flu-like symptoms. Headache, indigestion, diarrhea, fatigue, and alternating chills and sweats. It wasn't till I took the second dose that I put one and one together and smacked myself on the head for being so dumb.

Luckily for me, the weather was grey and drizzly, and I had the perfect excuse to curl up in a fetal position and stay in bed. Luxuriously I slept, for four hours the first day. When I had awake energy, I watched the Hallmark channel (a guilty pleasure). And fell back to sleep, but with a smile on my face.

Once the headache went away and my stomach settled into a passive, if not yet "better", state, I had more energy and time loomed large. Amazing, isn't it? How much time and energy we devote each day to eating and the preparation for such - shopping, planning, cutting, cooking and serving - to say nothing of the clean up afterward. It's really noticeable when you're off the feedbag.

Instead of falling into my usual Type-A behavior, I made a conscious decision not to succumb to the siren song of my to-do list, but to stick with the "snow day" mentality. I collected a stack of drawing pads, art journals, my travel artist's took kit, and a cup of tea, wrapped myself in the Snuggy my mom gave me years ago for just such an occasion, and spent some delicious down time in a recliner with the shades drawn. A gal cave, if ever there was one. Here's a sample of the results.

Inspired by "The Great Bell Chant" intoned by Thich Nath Hanh

Friday, February 3, 2012

Groundhog Day

Early morning birds,
Chipper with bright energy,
Feeding on new light.
Feb. 2 - 50 degrees at 8 a.m. Birds calling to each other from branch to branch accompany our happy trio on a two mile ridge top loop. The almost-spring notes in the air prompt Mike to comment, "I'm thinking if the jet stream stays where it is way up in Canada, maybe we won't have any snow this winter." (I'm good with that.) Still musing on the unusual warmth, he follows up by quoting an article that reports bird sitings in Indiana suggesting some species have gotten an early start on their northbound journey.

I respond, "I think I read in Birds and Blooms magazine that birds are agitated to start their migration by the length of the days, not the temperature." 

Was the gleam in his eye a ray of sunshine or a bit of wit when he volleyed, "Well, maybe they know that daylight savings time starts in March this year, earlier than before." LOL.

Feb. 2 on Chestnut Ridge 

Thursday, February 2, 2012


The orchid plant I've watered, fed, and moved around the house to catch the best light in the changing seasons for the past four years finally put out buds the middle of December, 2011.

tiny buds

And slowly, collected strength...

  Until finally, in January, on the first anniversary of my Dad's death...

it flowered

And then...

and then there were two...

and then there were three.....

 And the blooms are still emerging, on their own schedule. Which just reinforces the message: Patience pays off, take one day at a time, enjoy this moment - it's the present you've been waiting for. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Alarm Clocks

Wren song, not rooster
Calls feet to the floor each morn~
Big little bugler.

This is a Haiku poem I wrote two winters ago in a fabulous workshop series, "Haiku as Meditation," led by fellow artist/writer, Jenna Weston. 2010 was one of the coldest, snowiest, iciest winters in my eleven years' residence in Western North Carolina, and I was dreaming of spring. Quite different from this year, when dreaming is not necessary, as the daffodils are already in bloom, February 1, and the temperature today is predicted to hit 66 degrees! But let me not digress from my intended topic: the various metronomes we use to pace ourselves.

I don't use a clock radio or alarm clock to signal the start of each day. And yet, I'm up "on time." Yes, the song of the wren does, literally , call me brightly to attention once the windows are open in warm weather, but I am not dependent on her tune. I trust my "inner conductor" to keep me on the beat.

According to "'s Psychology Glossary"
"Circadian rhythms are what people often refer to as the body's internal, biological clock. The typical human circadian rhythm occurs on a cycle of approximately 24 hours. However, the clock is not really functioning on time, but on body temperature. It is just that body temperature fluctuates on somewhat of a regular type of schedule, and so many people often believe that the circadian rhythms are time oriented instead of body temperature oriented. For example, your body temperature begins to increase in the morning (as you wake and start your day) then gets higher during the day while you are active, and begins to drop during the evening, producing feelings of fatigue and preparing for sleep."
I'm only in partial agreement with this definition. First, the temperature thing. If my body is warming up in the morning, then why is it that between 4 am and 7 am I'm most likely to be pulling additional covers up over my body from the foot of the bed and sinking snugly back into dreamland? And, more important, how is it that if I need to be up earlier than my typical 7 - 7:30 am routine, I can just "set my brain" the night before and hit the altered wake up mark exactly? For example, to make a 5:30 am flight or an 8 am appointment on a day I have to attend to "dog duties" before leaving home? I don't lie awake all night worrying that I'm going to oversleep, as someone else who lives with me does. I just "set it and forget it." And finally, I don't think the 'circadian rhythm' definition comes close to explaining how I can know, within five minutes either way, what time it is when awakening in the middle  of the night, before even opening my eyes and certainly before getting them to focus om the blurry red digital readout across the room.

Nope, I don't like pressure; I don't appreciate sudden starts. I'm going to continue marching to my own drummer, thank you very much, at least till the windows officially open to the songs of the upcoming season.

"When you rely on something without question, that is called 'trust'.
When you turn the corner and you run into yourself,
Then you know that you have turned all the corners that are left."
Author Unknown