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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

tending our gardens

A multitude of inspirational and reminder messages have begun to circulate as we get closer to the start of 2012. I received one that prompted me to search for a passage that I’ve sent not just at the end of but also during the year. The gist of it is we should never be too busy to find a few moments for those we care about; that use of the word busy can make it appear as if we believe our lives and what we are doing is much more important than other’s; it can sound like "I don't have time for you".

The one thing we all know for sure is that we find time for the people and things we deem important. We often give our best selves to and go out of our way to please people who don't deserve it while giving those who are always there for us a little less of ourselves until life doles out a challenge. Suddenly we realize that those who are deeply rooted in our gardens are standing right there, no questions asked, to help us through but consider this…what if those roots were unearthed due to something beyond their control (or maybe deliberately) while we were busy?

As we move into the New Year, take a moment to slow it down. Pick up the phone, put down the text. Don’t let too much time pass before you connect with those who matter, who you wish to have/keep in your life. More importantly, be good and kind to those who have stood in your garden as the weeds came and went for they truly are the nourishment you will need to continue growing the beautiful person that you are.

See you in 2012 and as we count down...

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

merry christmas

May your heart be light,
your days merry and bright, and
may life bring you all the presents
 you hope for & desire.

Merry Christmas!!!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

warm hearts

According to many of the holiday songs, there is but one temperature for this season. Think about those familiar tunes -- Let It Snow, Baby It’s Cold Outside, White Christmas, Winter Wonderland; the songs don’t take into account that not everyone experiences this season the same way in more ways that one.

Having always lived on the East Coast, I am quite accustomed to four distinct seasons. I’m not sure what it would be like to not expect the climate or my clothes to change along with the calendar. When I was younger, I wished that kids who had never seen, touched or tasted snow would have that experience. Over the years, the weather all over the world has been most unpredictable so folks who never knew what a white Christmas was have been able to find out just what it’s like. Also when I was younger, I wasn’t aware that other children were not unwrapping gifts in the warmth of their living room each December.

There is a feeling that comes with this time of the year that many share. Our hearts are light, filled with joy and hopefully the spirit of giving if we are able. I am moved by the news stories about people who are paying off the lay-away bills of families they don’t know and thankful that I am able to lend a hand. Today as the thermometer in DC rises to 60, it will still feel like Christmastime to me because it doesn’t matter what the weather is like, where we reside, or what our beliefs may be…it’s just the holiday season. Reach out if you can and…

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

no humbug here!

Like a warm blanket, the programs I enjoyed as a child have returned this season to wrap me in comfort as I plop down on my couch exhausted. I get so delighted when I stumble onto cartoons like the Grinch and Frosty the Snowman or a movie like The Wizard Oz after a day so full from beginning to end that it feels like I packed 48 hours into 24. Finding the familiar makes me forget how beat I am as I sing along with those old songs, the words ingrained in my head and heart. I probably know every line of It's a Wonderful Life, still remember the first time I saw it; I have never liked the fact that one network took it hostage years ago showing it once, no more than twice during the holiday season. Bah, humbug! But when they do there I am, a buffalo gal waiting for the moon to come out so she can dance…is it really one week until Christmas?

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

peace on earth

For several days now, I have had the urge to paint a watercolor Christmas tree in my journal just for the fun of it. Each and every time the thought crossed my mind, something kept me from breaking out my Crayola paint set of 16 colors to create my own little holiday vision. I’m really feelin’ the season but can't believe the layers of interruptions, distractions and demands that are trying to zap my jingle!!!  By yesterday, I felt completely buried; it was time to exhume both the box and myself. Thirty minutes of countless brush strokes later, I was standing on top of that pile of stress singing “Oh Christmas tree” and feeling very much like Charlie Brown lovin’ mine regardless of how it might look just because it brought me joy (and breathed the breath of the season back into my spirit right when I needed it!).

So if you feel as if you’re under stress rather than the mistletoe, take a moment to unearth yourself, find a little bit of peace and...

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

the unexpected

I keep a file of magazine pictures that capture my attention for use when I collage. Sometimes, I happen upon an advertisement that includes a print of a canvas, photograph or sculpture that I keep fully in tact or in large pieces that I paste into my journal as part of my ongoing gallery of artwork I admire. Recently, I came across works by Dubuffet and Calder with abstract figures of a male and female respectively that to me felt kindred. Each was part of a larger work but it was the misshapen bodies and hypnotizing eyes that held my gaze, so I cut them from the pages, made them part of my journal entry and went to bed.

The following day, the scrap paper from the rest of the Dubuffet and Calder pieces was resting on top of the magazine. Instead of discarding it, I started making a torn paper collage from the colorful remains. The art and fun of making this type of collage is not thinking too hard about it, allowing the creation to happen by positioning the strips with an immediate commitment to their placement. I just let it flow and know when to stop. When there was no more paper to tear, I had only assembled something that didn’t take up the entire page; I was finished but it wasn’t finished. When I looked at what I made, it appeared to be a hat of some sort resting on top of an implied head. I felt as if a face was there, saw the line of the cheekbones, a chin though nothing else was in front of me. I began clipping lipsticked mouths of various colors and fullness, laying them down, picking them up until I found one that suited whoever was coming to life. A surge of excitement passed through me as it does when I’m solving a collage puzzle.

The next morning, I was not a peace with this piece. I couldn’t put my finger on it and over the next few days searched through magazines for the answer. One day I cut out a fabulous pair of sunglasses but abandoned them; they were too expected and so was the mouth I had put in place. I was a minute away from frustration when I understood what was happening…I was under the influence of the torn paper hat, which was really my version of the turban from the woman in the Calder picture. Because it was designed with strips of paper from the Dubuffet and Calder advertisements, that headdress was spurring me on to create my own abstract inspired by the figures I had cut from the magazine. Knowing this made the search for what fit clearer though finding them was a challenge. Over the past couple of weeks, I have patiently allowed the face to find her way to the page and yesterday, there she was…


And then I remembered a photo taken of a blue gum eucalyptus tree in Italy. I had taken several pictures from various angles and was about to walk away when I felt something tap me on the shoulder. I turned around, looked down to find a face I’m glad I did not miss as it reminds me of so many abstract oil paintings
of faces made by my mother (and of the face of the abstract woman created by Calder and yes, upon further inspection, of the image I birthed).

Inspiration is waiting in places and moments least expected. Art is where you find it and is all the more of a find when unexpected, you just have to...

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

last stop

We visited Pompeii on our third day in Italy so it really was not the last stop. It did mark the first time I posted on the blog from there (see 11/6) and actually, I wrote while riding the bus to the ruins. It was a very rainy morning and if I remember correctly, Capri was the scheduled destination; it was not a day to be on the water, so our tour guide made some last minute changes to the itinerary. I was so excited about going to Pompeii because I couldn’t imagine anything surviving being buried under volcanic lava. I just had to see for myself. When I stepped off the bus, I felt tingly like I did in Egypt when I stood before the remarkable remains of cities, tombs, etc. from a time that I really could not fathom. I was anxious to walk the grounds and became quite alarmed when I heard some murmurs about the site probably not opening to tour due to the rain. No way! But I snapped as many pictures as I could from outside the locked gates just in case…

…and indeed the site was closed at least for the morning, so we left for Naples and when we came back in the afternoon, the sun was beaming…so was I…

…I found these completely in tact mosaic floors to be incredible and was amazed that they used the replication of a dog to tell people that animals lived in the home…

…and these countless artifacts on shelves, walls and the floor took my breath away, especially when I noticed the body of a man, and truly made me think of the great museum in Egypt…

…I couldn’t help but take some photos of the surrounding area because like Egypt, the site was in the midst of regular life, something that always felt strange to me…imagine looking at fashion-forward laundry hanging out to dry, modern day restaurants, and contemporary buildings while standing on the remains of things built thousands of years before…kind of like a mind you know what…

…and before we leave, let’s take a look at what created this historic location…

…Mt. Vesuvius was looking quite peaceful when I snapped that last photo and I do have to say that the one disappointment for me was the day we were to climb to the mouth of the volcano…we road all the way to the place where we begin the 15 minute walk and it started to rain…back on the bus before it got muddy and we were not able to reschedule…bummer (I got over it!)

I hope you have enjoyed the visit to the Amalfi Coast as seen through my eyes as our stroll through Pompeii is the last of the photos I will post from this vacation…ciao, at least for now, so...

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Sunday, December 4, 2011


Though I could not speak the language, I moved about easily at each location we visited in Italy. I roamed with and without purpose, explored and was intrigued whenever I came upon a place that seemed to welcome a photo but left me wondering what was behind what I took. Take these doorknobs. As my hand traveled over each one, I was tempted to turn or pull them, find out who lived there… 


…my favorite was from the Roberto Cavalli shop (which fortunately or unfortunately depending upon how I look at it, was closed the day I came under the spell of this huge prism and took one perfect shot) that has now come to symbolize endless possibilities due to its resemblance to a huge sparkling crystal ball of color.

Because so many places I visited in Italy were in the hills, there were countless entranceways and alleys with staircases and paths leading to I wondered where. I was drawn to the curve of an arch, began to become a little obsessed with trying to capture the shadows and finally started to formulate my own stories about what was beyond the gate, up the steps, or behind the door...

…so it only seemed fitting that when I was fortunate enough to find an artist in his shop, I was drawn to a bin with several of his pastels similar to the pictures I had taken…I finally uncovered the one that each time I look at it, takes me back… 

 ...until the next time…

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