keep your peepers open!

keep your peepers open!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

shall we stroll?

It was so very quiet this morning as I walked. I was grateful for the peace, the scenery along the path I chose to go on this Sunday. Let me take you along...

Strolling briskly in the cool air was invigorating. Images all around me appeared crisp, vivid calling for me to pay attention to the life they were still living as so much around them was decaying or already gone. Until now, I never captured my late fall and winter walks in pictures. I was so busy hurrying home to get my tootsies warm that I failed to focus on nature's doings. Today I became keenly aware that no matter where we are, what season it is, or how oblivious we might be the life cycle continues to rotate around us. There is always a splash of color, a glimmer of life to be found even in the whiteness of a blizzard if you...
keep your peepers open! ®

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

table food

I love Pier 1! When I moved from my 15th floor studio to my 7th floor one bedroom back in New York, I could not find a table anywhere that I liked and could afford that would fit into that miniature patch of real estate called the dining room. One dreary afternoon I happened into Pier 1 and there it was -- a 36” x 36” square of glass relief. Finally, I thought, folks would be able to sit down to a table for a meal at my place instead of performing lap dances on the couch with their plates. I imagined all the fabulous feasts for the eye composed of mixed matched stemware, dishes and fabrics that would grace my new purchase. It was a moment! Eleven years later, I have prepared a countless number of feasts; I can count the number of times they were set on that table on the prongs of five forks.

As a child we rarely ate at the dining room table. We did a fly by as we passed it on the way to the kitchen table in one house; saw it standing stoically alone in a room flanked by hallways in another. Maybe the true purpose of a “dining room” table was lost on me because my glass find became a conference center where I could meet with clients while managing my own business in Manhattan. When I needed a second source of income, I started designing hand-made cards at that table. All the papers, art supplies, books, and who knows what else spread themselves across the surface like no tablecloth I had ever seen. I vowed to revert back to eating sur la table after I moved to DC and had a slightly more spacious dining area. I did manage to have dinner on it, entertain guests at it, even used it as a serving station for a party. When my DC space was featured in a magazine story, the glass table with just a bowl of fruit in the center looked so serene against the backdrop of artwork that fills the room. It was a moment! Really, a moment because as soon as I began creating collage goddesses the table top turned into an abstract collage I don’t always understand. Not one inch of that table is free for a bowl of any sort especially if it has food in it.

I was on the phone with one of my close friends talking about my past due need for studio space. Somehow we started talking about eating on the table and she, who has known me since I lived in NY and has had numerous meals at my home, remarked that she didn’t remember ever sharing a meal with me at that table. What she did recollect was sitting with her feet up on the long vintage yellow and orange bench style couch in my upper west side apartment as I served Sal’s pizza on oversized stoneware accompanied by a crisp glass of ice cold champagne or perching comfortably in the plump brown chair in DC with piping hot freshly baked by me blueberry lemon ginger scones dripping with butter in front of her. She recalled hours of lively conversation, plate and napkin resting easy on her lap legs curled beneath her, around another table. I am never without a coffee table of generous proportion, a blond wood two tier in NY, a sumptuous ebony with slatted bottom in DC. When my space was featured in that article I mentioned, one of the things profiled was the use of my coffee table as the preferred place to dine. This is the table that has been decked out in elaborate or simplistic combinations of tableware as my guests feasted on snacks or a full meal. My friend reminded me that coming into my home was so warm and embracing that sitting formally at the dining room table was counter to what the body wants to do, which is gravitate to the seating areas and become one with the furniture for as long as possible. Both females and males seem to notice my masculine pieces with such feminine grace that beckon them to gather round, take their shoes off and nosh in comfort and joy.

Tomorrow I will not have to travel over the river just through my hood with homemade stuffing and a corn dish in hand. I will place them on a dining room table to mingle with all the other thanksgiving goodies in a dining room with people I love as we prepare to give thanks. It is not where or what you eat but who you eat it with. Gobble, gobble and…

keep your peepers open! ®

Sunday, November 22, 2009

backyard giving

I can’t believe I am up roaming around like it’s 3:50 in the PM…it’s AM for pity’s sake (another grandma-ism). My body does not grasp the concept of a cat nap preferring instead a dream lover snooze. This past week I have awakened on the couch more times than I care to admit all because I stretched out and closed my eyes for just a minute that turned into hours. And that is why I am up now. After a very long jam-packed day, my body tapped me on the shoulder and requested a quickie. I wasn’t all that tired, knew I would be up in a few moments to return some phone calls so I obliged. When I woke up an hour ago all comfy cozy in my clothes on the couch once again I just had to chuckle. Refreshed and ready to go, I piddled around before relocating to the south wing, i.e., my bedroom, to turn on my Dell and a repeat of In Wine Country, a show with segments devoted to different creative things going on in areas of the country that produce wine. Now that I have the touch, the feel of crisp cool cotton sheets on my skin and see that I will digress easily, let me get on with the blog.

The weather has been unseasonable warm for November. It’s hard to fathom that turkey day is upon us once again, where does the time go? Thanksgiving marks a time for giving for me because I am given my bonus. While I am highly in favor of supporting causes that bring help to those abroad, have done so in the past and sometimes still do, I chose to donate the bulk of money and me to organizations in my own backyard. I have my annual favorites, seem to find a new one each year; most are not-for-profits that service the underserved in a creative way. For example, one uses cooking to teach youth life skills. Not only have I written a check but have spent time in the class and kitchen with a group of teens that nourished my soul and spirit more than the oatmeal cookies we baked. A woman from a house that brings the healing arts to children affected or infected with HIV/AIDS was in my office the other day. I realized it was the same place where I taught a writing and spoken word class a few years back. Hadn’t they gone out of business? Apparently not due to her decision to step away from the for-profit world to bring a guiding hand to a center that is so necessary; I handed her a check.

The season of giving is upon us. Don’t have dough, kneed some if you know how at the soup kitchen. Is cash not convenient? Go caroling at the homeless shelter (nobody will care if you can’t carry a tune). Don’t let the buck stop here if you don’t have dollars to donate. Give of yourself -- volunteer. It’s not hard to find someone, someplace right in your own backyard if you...

keep your peepers open! ®

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I was under Jasper’s hood the other day and once again stared in awe at his parts…ah, such an intricate piece of art is he. An abstract composed of a fat accordion gray rubber tube, a plate of cylindrical metal with a screw on top, plastic bottles one filled with blue liquid the other with a chartreuse concoction, several black wires of all shapes and sizes, a thick silver pipe. Engine construction at its best, Jasper is my car. He is an older foreign gentleman whose anatomy I am still exploring. You see I have never found anything appealing about being a damsel in distress on the side of the road particularly these days when there are just too many ill intended folks out there. I have always been able to change a tire, oil, various fluids. Until recently, it didn’t take much to keep Jasper humming but now that he needs more attention, I am a bit perplexed. And that’s why I am happy to have a BFOC (boy friend on call) until I get unperplexed (if that’s a word).

My BFF has a fab guy who not only looks out for her but keeps his peepers open when it comes to her friends. He guided me through my search for a vintage car; took us out to check over the first one I found (he gave it a thumbs down); stopped by to take a look at the tires after I had a flat last week and told my BFF just what I needed to do then offered to take me to do it…he just does these things w/o being asked. I am most fortunate to have a BFOC and a BFF who is also a BFOC (best friend on call). She like he comes to my aid without a second thought (love them both). She owns one of Jasper’s relatives who is older than my man. Both of them are beautiful specimens of artistic construction from front to back, inside and out and up under their respective hoods, they’re just built like that. I’m not sure I ever really appreciated the art form that is car design until I took a good look at Jasper’s engine and swooned at his masterful chest. I must admit I am still quite impressed with his handsome masculine body each time I see him stretched out before me in all his sleek platinum glory and as I climb into his waiting carriage, clasp my hands around his big wheel, am so very glad he’s mine. Let’s ride!

If you have an automobile, pop the top the next time you finish driving it. Take in the warm rush of a hot engine, behold the masterpiece under the hood. Make sure you know the intricacies of its design along with a few other things that make the whole machine sing and...

keep your peepers open! ®

Sunday, November 15, 2009

good & full

When I was a little girl, I manipulated the curves of a heart or turned them by varying degrees to create rabbits, cats, parts of a house and other pictures. Looking back, the only real thing that distinguished a bunny from a kitty was the cotton fluff used to make a tail for my hip-pity hoppers. Valentine’s Day was a flurry of red and pink construction paper and white doilies used to design cards for classmates, teachers and my grandmother whose birthday fell on that day. So many scoff at Valentine’s Day saying it causes anxiety. I get that…for some reason I rarely am in like or love on this day. I admit, I have purchased my own card a few times…I’m a sap, what can I say? As much as I am drawn to the round-ish mounds with a point, I don’t wear heart-shaped jewelry; have been known to wear it on my sleeve, exposed it in my tear drops, spoke it in a whisper as it broke.

For sure I have thought with my heart instead of my head, have been chided for having a soft heart. Never hard hearted, I have befriended the friendless, was told that I couldn’t save the world when I was a child and that seemed to be my quest. As an adult, I used to have the desire to go sit with people who were dining alone until I came to understand that we including me consciously choose to eat solo as it can be a respite. Truly, I should be a billionairess so I can spend my days dolling out dollars to the many well-deserving organizations that dedicate themselves to doing good for those in need (can you say that three times fast?). The gift of a feeling heart is one I cherish. It allows me to deeply experience not internalize things that don’t even register to those around me, makes me extend a helping hand without losing my sensibility. My heart tunes in to the off beat bathing me in composer notes and phrases that lift me up move me across the floor, stirring my primitive or proper. My heart opens my olfactory scrunching my nose with glee as I skip down filed memories lane…I can just taste the creamy mashed potatoes and crispy fried chicken spread on Sunday china at the smooth cherry wood table. My heart is the beat of my creative spirit, guides my hands when I am in collage goddess trance, opens my eclectic eye to things unseen at the precise second of reveal, does not always protect me from the cold-hearted or those with careless hearts. This year, I have learned that everyone is not so deserving of what my heart has to offer. You get what you give is now etched on my right ventricle. I have caringly detached focusing on more meaningful endeavors and those who mean more to me.

Over the years, I have used heart shaped objects in art projects designed to help others heal. I’ve often wondered how two bumps with a tip came to be named for the organ that beats in our chest and for some reason have amassed quite a few of them that are scattered throughout my home and office, think there is one in my car. Perhaps these tactile things I have made, received or bought since I was so very young were visual reminders that a good heart is a sign of life, their fullness a symbol for how life should be lived. Mine is full, is good, hope yours is too.

keep your peepers open! ®

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

casting wild women

The conclusion of my 10/11/09 blog engaged stillness referenced me heading out to make scratch molds as part of a metal casting class. Learning the process exposed me to a new technique for goddess expression that was kind of wild. No big leap here, I decided to name this goddess series the wild women. The first time I made a metal gal, it was part of another class. What I didn't know then was it takes several sessions to get to a final product. What I now know is each step is fascinating not at all frustrating. I adopted my "don't wed yourself to any particular outcome" attitude, plunged in each week and though some pieces turned out better than others, I walked away a happy woman taking notes for a future time at the studio. Here are some pics I captured on my IPhone with a brief overview. Trust me, the process is much more involved.

Start by cutting pink styrofoam to mold sand around. Using a heated tool, you can burn an image into the styrofoam which is then placed into a wooden box made to fit around the form...

Sand is mixed with a two part chemical binder then packed around the styrofoam in the box. Chemicals actually cause the sand to change color and set. It has an acid smell; gloves should be used to pack the sand. Once it dries, pluck the styrofoam out of the mold which can be tricky..

Sand is scratchy and scratch is what you do to create an image unless you burned an image into the styrofoam. In that case, the design has no itch to scratch and is ready for the metal pour...

Here's where we turn up the heat!!! Solid metal is placed into a crucible (the pot in the pic) then placed into a furnace that has been heating up for more than 30 minutes. Aluminum melts faster than bronze and is also not as heavy when it cools. The pour shown is the bronze liquid which caught fire as it streamed from the crucible.'s RED HOT!

The metal cools in the molds which are set on a sand base. Sorry, forgot to ask why on this one. What I can say is you do not have to get close to the cooling spot to feel the intensity of the heat, especially the bronze which takes longer to cool. Bronze also changes color as its temperature simmers down. Sort of smelled like a funky barbeque out there...

Almost cool, the sand easily cracks off by banging it on the ground. The warm metal pieces are dunked in a water bath to wash off some of the sand and cool them more. This is one of the bronze gals just after her immersion then after she was polished. Once polished, there is a process to put a little more patina on using a sulfur mixture and heat (hair dryer or torch) which I used. Just wanted to experiment with everything...pleased with the result.

My final picture is of the woman who got me started on this venture. This aluminum goddess was the first one I created as part of that class I mentioned, the one that introduced me to metal casting. A mold was placed in front of me, all I needed to do was stratch and sniff. I liked the result and decided to take the class that stepped me through the entire process and it really is a process as you can see. My women drove me wild at times especially the day I spent fours hours on my feet birthing them as I pushed into the sand with various tools. My poor back felt like I was carrying triplets...ah the joy of motherhood. It was all worth it and believe it or not there is so much more to learn about metal casting so....

keep your peepers open! ®

Sunday, November 8, 2009


“Skillful speech not only means that we pay attention to the words we speak and to their tone but also requires that our words reflect compassion and concern for others and that they help and heal, rather than wound and destroy.”
Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

These words appeared for the first time several years ago when I was grappling with the way I reacted to disappointing situations. The reactionary spew that sprang from my mouth often startled the person before me silencing them as the red heat of shame colored my face and uncomfortably consumed my body. My immediate apology was never enough to remove the dagger I had lodged into another. I wanted to change, said it out loud to others and set forth to be better. When I read Gunaratana’s words during my meditation that June morning, they became the mantra guiding my intent. Though I am still a work in progress, I have had success in my quest to think before I speak, choosing words that taste better in my mouth coupled with a satisfying side of listening.

I reached for the book Daily Wisdom today in search of Gunaratana’s quote and opened up to “pain is inevitable, suffering is not” written by the same wise soul followed by “never strike at the heart” from the spirit of Geshe Chekawa. So many of us fail to carefully ruminate before we part our lips to deliver what we think will be helpful counsel. We don’t fully grasp that once the words are out change is set in motion; no going back, things will never be the same.

danced too long
blahniks squeezing deliriously drunk on blind contentment blisters
blind sided
by a dark wall of invisible grafitti
I was slammed.
judgment w/o merit pointing accusatory fingers
across conviction stones of speculation
dignity smeared in thoughtless scrawl.
peel off the pain on the other side
inflated by visions that sustain
heart not buried by the wounds it sustained
change into new wisdom shoes.

forward is ahead.

As a child I hurled the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” and stuck out my pink tongue for emphasis! Even as the words left my mouth, I did not believe them. Words have wounded me, slashed my heart, snatched my speech, opened up floodgates, given me pause, made me think. I held on to those that made sense, discarded the ones that did not. More importantly, words have not had the power to destroy me. There is life after the ill-aimed dagger lands. Don’t allow the pain to consume you, forgive don’t forget, find the lesson because there is one, look ahead and...

keep your peepers open! ®

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

WFH should WFU

Thankfully, I am able to work from home on occasion a privilege that allows me to get so much done since I am not interrupted by knocks at the door, doors opening and closing, my pager going off, the overhead announcer paging someone, the constant sound of phones ringing, the ring of the fire alarm, the…well you get the picture. Though I’ve worked at home before when I had my own business, working from home as part of a full time job presented some unexpected challenges. My laptop never seemed to lose its glow. It dominated me, claimed prime weekend time, slept in my bed. The cell phone battery was like a junky needing a constant recharge. It too found a spot under the covers. I was always working, constantly connected and just like in the days when I smoked cigarettes, turned over in the morning and immediately reached for a fix. Working from home was not working for me; it was time for an intervention.

Instead of turning on the computer when I wake on a WFH morning, I go out for my walk or schedule an early workout. Connecting with nature gives me a kick that I can’t get from booting up an inanimate object. Lunch is no longer spent with one hand picking up a utensil while the other plucks over the keyboard. I stop to make or take lunch sometimes leaving to go out for a meal either alone or with a friend who is not a business associate. A stroll through a local museum, the outdoor summer concert or one of the many books I’ve yet to make time to read engages my senses as I disengage from all things electronic for an hour. Recently, I hired a yoga instructor ( who brings everything but the mat to my abode and for 60 minutes I’m in 7th heaven. As I relax here in goddess pose (my new favorite asana) with the Delly on my belly (yes I know this is counter to the practice, shutting it off as soon as I finish these last few lines), I am counting down the days until I again WFH so I can OMMMMMM again with her.
namaste and…

keep your peepers open! ®

Sunday, November 1, 2009

flora for all

Fresh flowers are such a joy for me to have in my home. I don’t have a garden and used to receive catalogs with choices of arrangements that could be delivered each month. I relished the thought of a delivery person ringing the bell with blossoms for me on a monthly basis, perished the thought each time I checked the cost. But flora was to be in my future. This past year, flowers have graced my living space almost every week as finding inexpensive bouquets was not that difficult. Bunches of fresh picked mixed wild flowers were just waiting to be had at the farmers market, local grocery stores also kept me in blooms. However their mixed sprays seemed to lack luster. My creative spirit went in search of and found my inner florist who perused the offerings swathed in cellophane, gathered up various harmonious clusters, and happily headed home to work a little magic. My inner critic grew frustrated trying to design appealing arrangements which of course began to suck the joy right out of the buds. The simple less stress solution…select a gorgeous bunch of a single species, go home, choose a vase that accommodates them (my preference is clear glass), clip the ends, drop them into the waiting water, and allow them to simply be. Who better than they to decide how they want to look? In this post are a few selections for you to enjoy until you head out to find some of your own so…

keep your peepers open! ®

BTW - I removed myself from the mailing list of just about every catalog I received…the trees and my mailman sent me some flowers.