Thursday, April 29, 2010

Those all telling eyes

Yesterday I went to my first watercolor class. All of the students worked on the same thing, a lightly traced drawing of a marsh scene with two herons. The small original that was our model was in front of the room, and the teacher told us everything to do as if we were children. I heard my mother's disapproving voice saying that freedom of expression and creativity were left out, but it was what it was, and I decided since I knew nothing, I could deal with it. What fun it ended up being. There was an exchange of ideas among the other students, and I learned about water and paper and drying time and had a grand time! Today I tried to watercolor again all by myself and sticking with the heron theme, I used a photo I had taken of a great heron last year when we were in Florida. Today as yesterday I remembered how important the eyes are in a picture, whether they are people's eyes or bird's. You can have done a whole wonderful picture and if the eyes aren't good, the work is no good. Those two little dots are the most important thing on the entire page. Beyond the page, they are most telling part of our bodies. People can try to hide or pretend, but the eyes reveal what is going on inside. Eyes are the window to the soul, we have heard, and they can speak more than language or actions. Mona Lisa was famous for more than her smile. Her two dots also left us wondering. Maybe that is why people prefer to do still life or landscapes!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Change of Season

This is what I found to photograph on my trip around the yard tonight - a maple seed that had spun down from the tree only to end up stuck in a bush next to a dried leaf from last season.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's Worth a Try

I have been loving to take pictures even more since I discovered digital photography a few years ago, and have amassed quite a collection in my computer that I enjoy revisiting frequently, and of course I like to pass them along via my blogs. Since I really like several of them, I wondered if anyone else would, and finally came to grips with the fact none of them will ever be "out there" unless I am willing to get them framed nicely. So last week I had the bright idea of talking with the folks at a neighborhood frame shop. "I need help," I told the nice young man who met me at the desk. I told him I had hundreds of photographs and a few were good enough to share, I thought, and could he help. After my humorous monologue - I could tell because he laughed a lot - he suggested I come back today when the manager would be in. I might add the small shop sells a lot of original art and nicely framed photos. Meanwhile I chose about forty various pictures and had 5 x 7s and  few 8 x 10s made (at Costco) and felt brave when I carried them in for judging. Nobody likes to be critiqued unless it is good. Just watch the faces of the reality talent show contestants! As it turned out they did like them, most of them, and gave me advice on what potential buyers may like. I heard "Lighthouses don't sell" as I thought they might when I showed my best photo of the one at Cape Hatteras, and I learned that people don't usually buy ones with people in them no matter how discreetly they are in the scene. Nevertheless they liked enough of the ones I brought in to offer me to be their "Artist of the Month" in August. Bells rang as the lofty, happy thought went through my head. I don't know if I will be here in August, but by darn, I will have some of my photographs hanging in the shop, even if I have to drive back to do it. And if none of them sell - oh well - at least I will have some nice pictures for my walls.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Still a Fan After All These Years

Since I was captivated by all things French, it is understandable that I would love the singing of Edith Piaf. I heard "Milord" when I was a mid-teen, and though I did not understand any of the lyrics, I loved the lilt of her perfectly tuned, fine voice and the way she carried the emotion. I have always read anything I could find about her and her humble, harsh, and fascinating life, and last week borrowed an old video from the library that is actually of the "Little Sparrow" herself. Though she had many people and loves in her life, she was most passionate about singing, and said, "Love without singing is no use, neither is singing without love. You have to have both." I suppose that is what we really heard in her incomparable sound. Here she is on the Ed Sullivan Show maybe in 1959.!v=XBW-UEbOfyQ&feature=related

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Under His Wings

I have been watching the baby birds outside my bedroom window this morning. The nest is holding three growing, softly feathered little gray birds who, while Mom and Dad have been at work, have been peeking from out from their nests looking curiously at the world around them. "Where is our Mommy?" they seemed to be asking each other, and I was wondering the same thing. Not to fear. After the rain set in, one of the parents returned to the nest, and covered the babies safely under his outspread wings. The wings are repelling the rain drops, perfectly covering the nest, and Dad (or Mom) is alert, ever watchful.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4

Friday, April 23, 2010

Sticky Buns

I was watching Bobby Flay challenge a baker to a "Throwdown" yesterday and said...I can do that. And I did. These sticky buns were delicious, the first I had made, though they are really just rich cinnamon buns laid on top of equally rich caramel sauce/goo to rise and bake. Here they are before rising, after baking, and after being turned out upside down on a plate - (except for that one.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I'd Rather Be Planting

There are many good celebration days, even though a vacation doesn't come with the package. Earth Day is one. I love giving Mother Earth some well deserved recognition. She feeds and nurtures us, and even though we trample on and pave her, she bounces right back to take care of us. What a forgiving mother. And she can change with the times without skipping a beat. Forty years ago when someone decided it was high time to give her some honor, ecology and zero population growth were the buzzwords. Now the simple word "green" seems to do the work of many three and four syllable words that perhaps didn't suit the masses. And we get it. "Green" colorfully represents just about everything we need to know to treat her with respect. From the ever changing skies to the abundant hollows that hold water to the vast numbers of living species we share this planet with, the Earth is a fabulous place. Thanks Mom.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Naked Dandelion

Showing the Fibonacci sequence.

Artists at Work

This will be my inspirational photo for a few days. It's from the France trip when we went to visit the Abbaye. It was so quiet there. No one spoke, not the artists and not the tourists. The Abbaye had a vow of silence and everyone honored it. I think it must have been wonderful to be there with nothing to do but concentrate on all the beauty around and try to represent it with paint on canvas.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Bodymind

Several years ago I found the book "Molecules of Emotion" by Candace Pert on the library shelf. It was of such importance to me that I found a way to incorporate some of its discoveries and teachings in the papers I had to write at the time, when I was an older college student. A couple of years ago I ordered her next book "Everything You Need to Know to Feel Go(o)d" and now finally am finishing/studying it. Though I have had many science type classes and as a nurse have learned about receptor sites, peptides, neurotransmitters and such, at times I felt like I needed to start with a "Candace Pert for Dummies " if there were one. These are not books I can scan but must actually read. That being said...

I love what she as a scientist has discovered and also how she presents her discoveries. Essentially she has identified emotions as actual things that can be visualized - in a lab of course. Though I told my students how "We are one organism" and my patients that "The body stores memories," there was no scientific proof until recently. Her findings also validate the teachings of those who teach others to think positive thoughts and to be of good cheer.

The body is the subconscious mind, she says.

I will write more about this tomorrow - since I am having computer problems today.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sports News

One of the things I enjoyed so much when my children were growing up was going to all of their sports events. It was like the reward for all my hard work, the icing on the cake. Oh...I am sure I embarrassed them all a few times with my enthusiasm, but they got over it. They participated in soccer the first year it was offered in our area, and it was a learning experience for us all. One of the coaches used to tell them, "Don't bunch up!" (The expression became one of my own and I used it with my nursing sudents who were in the psychiatric milieu for the first time and seeking comfort from one another.) The first place I went after my last baby was born was to a swim meet, and every Monday through Thursday in summer found us down the hill on the baseball field. One season Trip was catcher and Stuart was pitcher - on the same team. I was impressed the year Peter swam a mile when he was in scout camp. Today I missed an event. Stuart, now 43, participated in his first triathlon. He has been running for a while but had swum only four times since he was a teen. And biking is a new activity for this time in his life. Nevertheless he finished where he was aiming, somewhere in the middle of the pack. And I wasn't even there to cheer him on.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dandelion: Beyond the Puff

Leonardo da Vinci had a conviction that "...the organic complexity of living nature, right down to its minutest nuances of mobile form, is founded upon the inexhaustibly rich interplay of geometrical motifs in the context of natural law."

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Change of View

Those robins! Though I am happy to hear their cheery songs in the morning, I am not pleased when I see how the multitudes have left their massive droppings on the sides of our cars. And I blame them when the seeds I have planted in my garden fail to grow, disappear as if I never planted them. Mostly however they walk all over my beloved garden spot in search of the juicy earthworms that are abundant there. Today I even shooed one away. I suppose with my old busy ways, I had not been curious enough to find where the early morning songs were coming from though the music was quite close. Today as I opened the blinds in the bedroom and looked around, I saw a neat nest high in a fork of several branches in a tall bush. As I was trying to find an angle in which to see it better, to determine if there was any bird life in there, a mommy robin flew in with a worm dangling from her her beak. Suddenly small pink bird beaks popped up in interest and started in on breakfast. When you are a mother, you understand. For me it was a tender moment and my perspective was changed. Those robins aren't pesky, just another creature following its instincts to nurture and protect its young, and one with whom I share the earth's bounty.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It's All About Me Now

Life is blissful. I am so glad I "retired" or as I prefer to call it "started my sabbatical" in spring, this beautiful spring. It has been two weeks and I am not missing it. That all important work that once ruled my life has joined other eras that will always be a part of me but that I have left behind. So far, my biggest realization is that I don't have to rush through whatever I am doing. I can take my time - ahhh - whether it is reading a magazine or planting some flowers. There is no clock to punch or energy that must be spent elsewhere. The transition is successful so far, but I have been easy on myself. My challenge, although it may sound really corny and self centered is this: After an entire adulthood of focusing on children or patients or others or chasing a paycheck, I am trying to find the me that I ignored for so long. But isn't that something we should all do? We humans can become so involved in working to survive physically or emotionally, meeting basic needs, and working through relationships that we become overwhelmed and lose ourselves in the process. For many reasons, I think it is an important task, and never too late.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Starting the Garden

There is nothing I like more than to play in the dirt, and yesterday as I was planting my garden, I did just that. My jean covered knees were coated with beautiful earth, and by dark and I had a few body aches in places that have not been stretched lately, but it was worth it. My summer garden is nothing more than a small area in my back yard, but it brings me endless delights each year. As there is no way to predict when the house will sell, I decided to go ahead and plant. I had worked the soil for the past few weeks and it was ready, rich, dark and friable, and I think I had more earthworms this year than any. A really good sign. And Stuart had done his part in early fall by covering it with a layer of various old yard clippings that turned into a most useful humus. I dropped some zinnia and daisy seeds in neat furrows and cleome seeds randomly in another spot. I had bought the packets for twenty-five cents and hope they grow. The cucumber seeds were placed in two mounds and the basil seeds scattered in a patch. I planted four celebrity tomato plants and one tomato plant that will bear the tiny, sweet, yellow, pear-shaped variety. I saved some space for a couple more tomatoes and whatever else may strike my fancy. It doesn't sound like much, but it makes me a happy camper. If I am not around to reap the fruit of my labor someone else will. After all, we plant for the future.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

working together

Thirteen years ago when we were looking for houses in Greenville, I felt the realtor was trying to discourage us from this one. But we were attracted to it from the street, liked it even more once we saw the inside, and could picture how it would more than meet our needs at the time. In short, we were in love with it. I remember she sort of winced and cited the wood exterior as a concern, and several times asked, "Are you sure?" We were sure and we haven't been sorry. However...that wood exterior has caused a few problems and expenses from time to time. When Jacob was here last month and helping clear some leaves off the roof, he noticed the chimney had some rotten boards around the flashing. O darn...$$$. It had to be fixed.

Yesterday and today two nice guys who have been friends for decades and have done some work for us before have come to repair it. The spokesman for the duo seems to do the bulk of the work. He took off all the boards around the chimney yesterday and now is the one who is fitting and nailing the new ones in place. Quieter Joe seems more of a helper, handing the cut 2x6 pieces to Harold, holding the ladder when needed, following directions, and watching for safety, but Harold doesn't make a decision without consulting him. Watching them work together is a study on cooperation and mutual respect. Neither is more important than the other. The one who holds the ladder is as essential as the one who puts the pieces together.

Monday, April 12, 2010

It's Just a Number

Tomorrow is Sally's birthday, and since I don't do much of anything ahead of time, I went out today to buy her a card. I am not much of a card person. They are OK and sometimes can be touchingly sweet or bitingly funny, but I see them more as something to hold a check. That why I get them for fifty cents at the dollar store. I was selecting the right one for her and saw these that celebrated birthdays right up to the hundredth. (Check out the one with the blue jay on the bottom.) Now I am used to the cards for babies and children that say "Now you are one!" or two or twelve, but I don't think I had seen one for age one hundred. I wonder how many they sell. I thought about buying one to stick to the fridge for inspiration, especially now that I have "retired" at such a youthful age. Happy Birthday to Sally tomorrow and may you live to be old enough to get one of these cards, at least the one that says "Wishing You a Very Happy 95th Birthday"...and many more.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Reading Glasses

If you live long enough, say to forty or so, and have perfect vision, you will be needing a pair of these eventually. It was a hard thing to face and quite frustrating at first, but I was definitely not ever going to wear a pair of those silly looking spectacles. As it got tougher to read anything in print and my arms could not stretch far enough to hold the paper, I was forced to adopt the habit. This year I decided I needed more than reading glasses and found an optometrist who agreed with me. My vision wasn't too far off thankfully, and I was happy to get my first pair of real glasses. I suppose I could have tried harder but the progressive lens made me a little dizzy and I couldn't wear them for long at a time. I had to look down to read and straight out for other things and the periphery was fuzzy, and except for thinking the glasses were cool, I wasn't liking them or adapting well. I had worn reading glasses too long. Since it had been a while since I had any new ones - they do break and scratch and go out of style - I bought some this week. Six of them. The most expensive was seven dollars and the rest I found for three or four. I need weaker ones for the computer and stronger ones for reading in bed at night. And of course sometimes they just need to match my mood. Old habits are hard to break.

The Second Week of April

We had to get out of the house early today so a realtor could show it. After cleaning off the pollen from all surfaces and tidying up, we left, stopping for a Bojangle's sausage biscuit, and then we headed downtown for a drive along Greenville's nice and lively Main Street. What a pretty drive it was with blooming flowers on every corner and vibrant green branches meeting each other overhead from both sides of the street. But why not? Outside life is always at its prettiest the second week of April. I hope the house lookers will appreciate the red tulips and the dogwood flowering in my front yard.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Special Relationship

One of the many changes as we get older is our position in the family. Now I am in an older generation, the grandmother, with younger ones coming along in generations that will follow me, but once I was a special first born, the first grandchild on my mother's side, and a first niece for my Aunt Margaret and Uncle Marty who I visited this week. It was during "The War," my daddy was away in the Army, and Margaret was the one who drove my mother to the hospital that hot August day when she went into labor with me. And who else but Uncle Marty on a trip to New York in 1945 brought home a pink snowsuit for my first winter. In his measured, deep, New England drawl he explained, "Well she was the first baby in our family." We talk about things that happened years ago in the family, and I am set straight on some facts that my child's brain didn't remember exactly right. We have loved many of the same people and jump from present to past as we share memories about them. Their life stories are my stories, too. They are the only ones left who have known me all my life, from when I was a curly haired rambunctious little girl, a young woman beginning a family of my own, to now, a retired grandmother. When I am with them, I sometimes feel like that little girl again, but I know how blessed I am to be with family, these wonderful and delightful people who still know and love me after all these years.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cherokee Rose

I ended my few minutes of picture taking time at the lake and started walking back to my car, which I had parked in front of the last place my mother lived in Wilmington. From afar I saw a fellow standing still near some tall plants in what I recognized as a photographer's pose. When I got close enough, I asked. He turned toward me and we started talking. He introduced me to the fine specimen he was photographing, a very tall, bushy, vining, fragrant, wild Cherokee Rose plant filled with white blooms. So I took out my camera for one more shot. I was glad to know about this beautiful flower.

Greenfield Lake

It was hard to force myself out of Wilmington today to head west to the Upstate of SC. The weather was lovely, I had enjoyed the company of my aunt and uncle, and had found a couple of houses I could easily see myself living in. Could I please stay? I had to spend just a little more time. So before I left, I drove the lazy circles of Lake Shore Drive that took me around Greenfield Lake, and I reminisced about the happy days I spent there when I was a little girl. It was a time when family was all around, something that sadly ended when I was seven and we moved away. Today the azaleas were found to be starting their seasonal show, but it's not just about the azaleas. All around was to me quite naturally beautiful, the tall cypresses rising from the shimmery blue-green lake, swaying Spanish moss, honking geese overhead, soft breezes, small dragonflies one of which playfully landed on my hand as I was taking a picture. Simply Heaven.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Headed out

In a little while I will leave for Wilmington. We will not move until our house here has sold, and when it does, I want to be ready. We have ruled out condos and patio homes and have decided on another house, but where? That is the question. This trip will be to determine the neighborhoods or areas we would like. So down the road I go, but my trip back home will be before the Azalea Festival gets revved up. I used to love that big festive event when I was younger, but even if I don't participate this year it should be really pretty there, especially around the lake.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hope Springs Eternal

It would be a sad thing not to have spring to look forward to.

Today is lovely, the time and place hoped for in the dead of winter. Birds are singing all around, trees are primed to burst into green, fussy bees are buzzing, robins are sitting at the edge of the garden getting fat with the worms that have made the soil rich, the sky is clear and blue, tillers are humming, neighbors are greeting each other, the fresh breeze is wafting through open windows.

Hope did not disappoint. It came right on schedule with Spring.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

It is Good because I now have access to the shed blood of Jesus Christ, which all of humanity needs. Last night was Maundy Thursday, the recognition of the Last Supper when Jesus and his disciples broke bread together, when he humbly washed their feet, and when Judas went away to betray him. Today we reflect on his painful death by crucifixion. On Sunday, we observe the glorious resurrection, the most meaningful day in human history. The Easter season is not fraught with commercialism, obligations and stress like Christmas. It is a serene time to contemplate the mission of Jesus, his suffering and his gift to us.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Too Pretty to be Weeds

Bold violet.
Do you like butter?