keep your peepers open!

keep your peepers open!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

back to forth

Renew thyself completely each day;
do it again, and again, and forever again.
    - Chinese inscription

On occasion, I revisit places I have been through pictures from my trips. Some in particular immediately take me back…

I stood before the door of the tomb at Abu Simbel, marveling at its enormity just about to cross the threshold when the guard urgently said with polite quiet excitement, “Miss, wait...turn around.” There across the lake sat a perfectly round orange in a cloudless sky sun so whisper still that it rendered me breathless, unable to move…

I walked out into the early morning light of Sorrento, the blue marble of the balcony cool on the soles of my bare feet. There across the sea was Mt. Vesuvius, rising majestic against a gorgeous sapphire sky with coral clouds, stopping me in mid-step to ponder the bold power of the beautiful volcano that created ghosts who whisper…

I positioned myself on the beach in Hollywood, morning after the storm waves crashing onto the shore, splashing up over my knees to dampen my hips and thighs. There across the ocean, the sun peeked over the clouds, slowly rose with a whisper that signaled the calm ahead as I stood rooted in the sand, marveling…

The similarity in the feeling of these photographs is hard for me to ignore -- being before a body of water soothes my mind, body, soul and spirit. I really can close my eyes and go back to experience the moment in the present then come forth to be fully in the now, renewed all over again.

Each time I see the pictures, a desire to see more of the world, capture people, places, and things begins to percolate; somewhere in my head, a globe is spinning so here's to travel in the happy new year and...

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

new to do

In the midst of the holiday swirl, I did begin work on some new collages inspired by 1) my promise to myself to create a piece before years end and 2) I was cited as a visionary artist and asked to participate in a group exhibition in mid 2013! The latter, an honor that has me giddy, along with two other invitations to participate in artistic-type collaborations, came as quite a surprise. Arriving one after the other a few days before the 25th, they are unexpected gifts that I figuratively put under the Christmas tree; I will continue unwrapping them and working on my “such a pleasure to do’s” well into the New Year so…

keep your peepers open!®

Sunday, December 23, 2012

good cheer

may the season fill your heart with lasting hope,
your mind with harmonious peace,
your body with joyous renewal,
your soul with grounded energy and
your spirit with gloriously good cheer

…and so it shall be.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

perhaps poinsettia

If you're not in the mood to all out decorate this season, poinsettias come in various shades, sizes and price and are a pop of festive energy that lasts well after the holidays are over. My favorite is the huge white flowering plant; it reminds me of an over-sized snowflake that can never melt! Plus great photographs of any color poinsettia can be used to create your own holiday cards or framed as gifts.

Having a poinsettia or two around the house provides fresh flowers for days, something I really like. They do seem to drink lots of water, resorting to a wilted droop position when they’re thirsty, so if you get one…

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Sunday, December 16, 2012


No matter how old I am, I still remember the thrill of getting up on Christmas morning particularly when I was very young and still believed in Santa. I loved our bigger than life tree smelling of pine decorated with many ornaments, fat primary colored lights, glimmering silver icicles, garland and long strands of tiny glass balls wrapped around it. My eyes always grew huge looking at all the presents underneath it for my siblings and me. The first year after I moved back to DC, I invited friends over to trim my first tree and thought for sure I’d repeat the gathering each year thereafter; so much for plans. My collection of ornaments purchased annually for who knows how long were boxed up the January after that Christmas and have remained on the shelf ever since though I do still decorate.

This past week, something began needling me and I don’t mean of the pine type though I was pining something awful. I was nostalgic, longing for that thrill from back when. I found myself wandering amongst  dozens of decorated holiday trees in stores, gazing at the many shiny ornaments nestled in baskets beneath them when I was supposed to be running errands and just had to have one...okay two...ornaments that is.

However, there was something more. I leisurely drove to a town just outside of DC to a little store hoping to find something that I left behind on a previous visit because wanting it felt silly at the time. I rushed into that store much like I hurried down the stairs before dawn on Christmas when I was a child. My face fell, I let out a heavy sigh -- the box of baby sock monkeys was not in the spot where I last saw it. Still hoping, I searched the entire place and there on a shelf close to the floor they were! I was five again and the melancholy lifted.

What are you longing for? Seek and you shall find as the saying goes so…

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

holiday high

At some point in life, you will look around and know that you have more than enough stuff. Many of my friends and I reached capacity a lifetime ago but we continued to buy all sorts of presents for each other when Christmas came around, even put together a list of "wants" to make it easier on the shopper.  I am happy to say that we finally headed in a different direction, i.e., down practical lane, about five years ago. Some didn't want gifts at all opting to just get together as a group to share a meal, others donated money to charities in the name of each friend, and gift certificates to favorite haunts were a welcome item. And so it was until the desire for more meaningful exchanges, to establish annual holiday traditions unique to the person (s) involved caused the creative juices to flow faster than eggnog! Last year was my first foray into doing something that I looked forward to repeating this season with one of my friends. Recently, I chatted with another gal pal; we quickly agreed that "high tea for the holidays" followed by a stroll through the downtown Christmas bazaar would be bliss on our list of gatherings we'd enjoy! The search was on for the best location -- the Willard Intercontinental did not disappoint.

Entering the lobby made me feel like I was stepping into a Christmas movie -- lights low with a glow that made everything a "roll camera" blur, exquisitely perfect decorations everywhere, a huge tree in the center of the room, packages underneath ready to be unwrapped...old world charm (sorry to sound so cliché but in this case it's the truth).

Tea is an event at the Willard, held in Peacock Alley, which is a few plush carpeted steps up from the lobby, its softly lit warm in both temperature and ambiance corridor oozing coziness for what seems like miles. Delightful aromas mingle with harp strings and pleasantries, an enticing combination that tucks you comfortably in your seat. Moet Champagne, if you like comes first, the pop of the cork signaling the beginning of a sumptuous afternoon.

An assortment of savory and sweet morsels wait to be devoured....

Tea flowed, its amber liquid aromatic, needing no sugar...

The entire experience felt like a big embrace and though the weather outside kept us from the bazaar, our spirits were far from damp. As we put on our wraps, enthusiastic congratulations on our choice affirmed that the Willard is home for our new holiday high!

This year, consider opening up your imagination to the possibilities that don't include opening just another package and...

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

okay, it's time

I was not ready for the holiday music, tinsel and trees that popped up well before the ghosts and goblins disappeared from front lawns. Pumpkins and turkeys all around the country barely had a chance to say goodbye to their season before Christmas showed up a month or so in advance. I won’t say what I think about people having to leave Thanksgiving with their families so others could shop a day earlier than frantic, frenzied Friday when so many lose their sense of dignified behavior. Don't get me wrong, I do love Christmas and I for one have remained mindful of those who continue to struggle with challenges not of their own doing. It feels right, particularly now to give to food drives, an adopted family and other causes that help our fellow human beings, to begin each day grateful to be awake, alive, aware, and able...and in my own bed. 

So my spirits were high yesterday as I selected a lush poinsettia, both creamy white and a marbled scarlet in the same pot, pulled down boxes of ornaments to do a little bit of decorating, hung a wreath of bright red berries on the door above the mat with three Christmas trees on it, spritzed the rooms with a forest of pine, and popped in the music that I do immensely DECEMBER! 

Be mindful of those in need as you indulge in the festivities of such a wondrous time of the year if indeed you do and…

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

holiday challenges

At some moment before the end of the year, I am going to sit down and create a piece of artwork with paper or paint or something that forces me to get from behind my computer screen. I have fallen so in love with photography that I don’t remember sitting down to the table at all this past year. I’m almost sure I did at the beginning of 2012, just can’t pin point the date and time right about now. Honestly, I had ever intention of making holiday cards by hand even put a reminder on my calendar. I did design some, had them printed, am very happy with them, just didn’t cut, paste, stroke, draw not one bit of the final product... well not this year (I actually did collage the picture I photographed for the card last December). Come to think of it, when I reminisce about all that occurred over the preceding 11 months and 5 days, such a whirlwind of events, emotions, and evolution come to mind…it’s a wonder I actually pinned myself down and got a card made so let me not be too hard on myself! But I am setting in motion a holiday challenge to produce a piece of artwork to share. Until that happens, I got creative with the same photo of a tree I made from pieces of paper I covered with splats of acrylics back in 1997.

Something’s coming folks…

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

sheer cheer

The last week of November, with a serious nod to the 30th, disturbed my Zen and no, I don’t fault the full moon because I am one who finds serenity in the luminosity of that circular orb of the night sky. So perhaps it was a hidden desire to shed the nagging itch of agitation that prompted me to perform a small act of kindness before I fell asleep. I do know that when I woke up on the first day of December, I was in good cheer. I welcomed the spirit of joy, allowing it to guide every thought and action of my day. Nothing disturbed my peace as I smiled and spoke kind words to every stranger I encountered, rolled down my window to help a homeless person, gave holiday tips to the women who keep me looking sassy throughout the year. I ran into one of my good friends as we both did a little pampering; her hug felt like my first big gift of the season. Though the day was long, filled with things to do, what kept me energized was the inner glow that came when I realized that my small act of kindness had had a positive impact on someone else’s life, made them and me smile as we easily reconnected, and released me from the long, self-imposed stranglehold of partial forgiveness.

Before I went to bed last night, I brought a little happy, happy, joy, joy to another person I know and not because we needed to make amends but just for the sheer delight of spreading good cheer. What a way to drift off during this most wonderful time of the year or quite frankly, anytime! So open your heart and…

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

left right

This time of the year, there is so much ado about what to do with leftover turkey! I didn’t do too much cooking on Thanksgiving, hence NO leftovers though I did end up with some baked sweet potatoes which were just right for something delectable! I decided to smash those leftover sweeties and put them into a most righteous bread pudding along with mashed up, too ripe bananas that I had frozen a few days earlier. As bananas age, they bring forth a natural liqueur which deepens the flavor of one of my variations on this dessert that has so many varieties, it seems like the only common denominators are bread and eggs.

Depending on the proportions and type of ingredients, putting together a bread pudding can be quite simple and quick with richly decadent results in flavor and mouth feel (at least the way I make them!). So if you want to lick your lips, preheat the oven to 325 degrees and spray a 9” x 12” baking pan with butter flavored Pam. In a big bowl, break into small pieces a long loaf of bread (your choice of white or wheat, the inexpensive store brand is fine). Cut up three very ripe bananas over the bread and mash them. Add ½ cup of raisins and no more than a cup of mashed sweet potatoes and stir together with bread and bananas using a wooden spoon until thoroughly mixed and gooey. In another bowl beat 6 large eggs; add 2 ½ cups of half & half OR heavy cream; ½ cup dark brown sugar; ¼ cup sugar; 2 -3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract; and liberal amounts of both ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Beat with hand whisk until fully blended. Add rum and/or bourbon to taste (for those who don’t drink, use rum and brandy extract generously). Pour liquid over bread mixture and stir until completely mixed; should be thick but should also easily pour into the pan. Use more cream if needed but do not make it runny. Sprinkle top with raw sugar and bake 1 hour or until knife comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for an hour or more before cutting. Store covered in the refrigerator.

This type of bread pudding is very moist, cuts into clean pieces, which is the way I prefer the dessert, can be served warm or cold, and goes a long way at a holiday party when cut into small bite sized cubes. Ah…a spontaneous bright idea for a gathering...use less sugar when the bread pudding is made and plan to dip the cubes into warm melted caramel like fondue…yum!

My recipe allows for all kinds of creativity. See what's left around your kitchen that might be just right for a sweet or savory delight. BTW…I hadn't thought about the latter, so while I'm looking into the prospects, hope you too will...

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

have a seat

I had the pleasure of seeing several women friends yesterday at two different times in the day. My Saturday left me feeling full after a sumptuous afternoon and evening of conversation, reflection, food, laughter and just being in the company of good friends. During both settings, we eventually arrived at a discussion about an email I originally sent back in August that I had just re-sent a day earlier. It ended with these words,

“…I am sending you the gift of 30 minutes a week to sit on this bench, to turn off and tune in to yourself. To close your eyes, imagine whatever restful scene you like and bask in the quiet solitude that I send to you. If you just can't imagine using this gift during the day, use it before you get out of bed or before you climb in. Feel free to pull out this present more than once a week in shorter or longer increments as my gift is endless, all you need to do is sit down.”

The bench mentioned referred to a picture taken while traveling; it seems like I have taken photographs of places to sit down for a spell on just about all of my trips. Sometimes I have actually rested in these spots. More often than not, I purposely do not take a seat preferring to capture the desire so that each time I look at one of the images, I am able to take in the surroundings with a fresh perspective, sit down, close my eyes, and go wherever I need to go at that moment.

Today, I offer the gift of having a seat to anyone who is open to accepting this present. Hopefully you will say thank you, sit down and after you take a moment or two or however long you wish, will move on with your day with a renewed sense of being as you…

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this bench is tucked into the butterfly path adjacent to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

turkey time?

I am so not in the mood to whip up a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Thinking that perhaps I will opt for
something simple yet delicious...

….and hope that I won’t get a last minute craving. Oh boy...I’m having a flashback to last year’s regrettable meal cobbled together the morning of that consisted of some not so tasty selections of pre-prepared food. Perhaps I better rethink this. As I do, let me leave you with this thought -- during this time when people are still recovering from the devastation of Sandy and other disasters that have taken so much from too many, may we take time out to be thankful for the simple things and extend a helping hand to those who need it. Enjoy the holiday and…

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

silence is

Funny how little things that people say to us when we are little stick with us, become just a part of our being. My Grandmother had all sorts of ways to get her grandchildren to sit still by using phrases and activities that we thought were games. Silence is golden was one of them. Whenever she said it, we’d press a finger to our lips and shush ourselves into quietdom until, now that I’m wiser, she had finished her break from our chattering busyness. I truly never wondered where she got that from until I stood before a tree of brownish yellow leaves, sunlight rendering them almost transparent and waited until the slight breeze paused long enough for me to capture their more golden tones. It was mid-afternoon on that corner, one I’ve driven past countless times, just cool enough for a few layers of clothing, warm enough to take one or two off. Cars were not pressed to move through the intersection so they lingered behind the stop sign, their drivers wearing leisure much like mine; no need to hurry on such a spectacular day. There was plenty of time to appreciate fully the glow, each vein, overlays, ruffled edges, if one detached and fell or flew. I thought about that game of sitting still that I was much too young to fully appreciate or really understand until I stood in the golden silence of a tree dressed for autumn showing off in the sunny spotlight and was glad I had parked and walked to where I had been.

The origin of the phrase, which I am sure countless others have said for decades, really doesn’t matter. What does is taking in the richness when you stop the noise and…

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

b&w cg cb

outlined edges with soft corners
defined silhouettes to slip behind
simple complexity
all crisp, clean, and sharp.

take shelter in the shades
resting a moment between the shadows
before the lights come up on the blush
and the hush shifts to brilliance.

During a season of changing colors, a beautiful respite can be found in black, white, charcoal gray and chocolate brown. Wrap yourself in their rich warmth and…

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

rock paper scissors

I haven’t made a collage in quite some time though I still continue to cut and throw various pictures from newspapers and magazines onto my work table. While perusing through months of the piled up, haphazardly tossed clippings, I couldn’t help but notice the many patterns and textures that captured my eye which sparked thoughts about the many photographs of both manmade and natural designs that gave me pause yet somehow have not made it to the blog. So here are a few; I will spare you the editorial today and simply say…let your eyes follow the shapes, colors, bumps, empty spaces of glass, wood, stone, paper and nature and see what you discover.

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ps...happy birthday to my niece who loves jiffy pop as much as I do!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


It’s a great morning in the USA and after I go to sleep and wake up to the light of day, I know I will put on some music to get me moving and out the door. My absolute favorite CD of the moment is actually one produced in 2006. Brazilian sounds are hot, sexy, cool, soft sensuous, romantic and Rosalia de Souza’s Brasil Precisa Balancar gives all of that and more! Horns and percussions just make you want to shake and groove as the first cut Onde Anda o Meu Amor blasts across the room. It gets me going everytime I hear it so I’m glad that she does slow it down long enough for me to stop gyrating and get dressed.

Going completely in another direction, Mari Boine’s Gula Gula will transport you to some place that only you will define. I first heard her intoxicating voice as it blared across a conference room while a large group meditated. I went into a trance-like state, fell deep into the chanting that at that moment sounded like something from Tibet. I wasn’t able to follow the voice of the person leading the meditation going somewhere with her as Cuovgi Liekkas played a few times; several people rushed the person controlling the music that morning to find out who we were listening to. Here’s the rub --this women who also sounds Native American is vocalizing in Saami a Scandinavian tongue!

Moving to another part of the world, check out the soulful voice of Kathryn Williams on Little Black Numbers. A modern folk singer from Liverpool, I haven’t picked a favorite cut just yet, I’m so liking the whole CD right now.

Landing back here in the USA, a true winner forever is going to be the old favorites on the Very Best of Ashford & Simpson. I happened to see Valerie on a PBS special. Two people came on to do not such a good rendition of It Seems to Hang On and I was immediately online. This is my jam as we used to say, a serious groove from back in the day that still gets me on my feet singing every word from start to finish. There are 14 other memorable classics on this CD that will have you singing along, tapping your feet and appreciating the creative contributions of two dynamic forces in the music industry.

Music will not be the only thing that gets me going this post-election day. But as we move forward, let's hope it will continue to be a universal language that brings us together so…

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