Monday, December 11, 2017

Even at Holidays A Shadow May Fall

Don't cry because it's over.
Smile because it happened.
Dr. Seuss 
One of the hardest things, even when you think you've gotten pretty good at it is saying good-bye to someone. Worst yet, that you didn't get to say goodbye at all. I found out today, one of my favorite patients went to hospice over the weekend. I knew that a deep shadow of pain had fallen into her life, as I sat with her during some tearful episodes in the clinic in recent weeks. She had entered the hospital yet again last week....I expected her back. She had been asking for music, especially harp at the holidays from me....In fact I've been preparing to share some this week and next.So when I play, I will be sending my harp music out to her spirit and hope that despite the shadow that fell today, a ray of light will touch her wherever she may be.

Winter Harp, 'What Child is This?':



Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Holiday Tea

The music of tea is the melody that soothes me.
Morgan Christiansen
Yesterday I spoke of hygge. One my favorite rituals in preparing to send out holiday cards is tea. I have vintage items I have gathered over the last few years. Tea pot, cup, tea towel and napkin. The choice of tea is dependent upon my taste, mood and what's in the pantry. I sip, reflect and let it all settle into my being.

Last year I discovered a recipe for a Holiday tea I will share here. I hope that any one reading finds their own rituals and hygge moments. Slow down, sip, enjoy and take a break from the busyness that the modern holiday has become.

Ingredients list for Holiday Tea

  • 3 1/2 oz (100g) of black tea
  • 1/2 orange
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla pod

Directions

1. Peel the superficial skin (without the white pith) of the orange and lemon with a vegetable peeler. Dry the zests in you preheated oven at 210°F for 30 minutes. Let cool, then cut into small pieces.
2. Meanwhile, chop cloves and cinnamon coarsely with a mortar and pestle
3. Split the vanilla pod lengthwise, then in 1 inch sections.
4. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and pour into a confectionery bag for storage

Loreena McKennitt, 'Coventry Carol':

 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Venturing Into the Holidays


Winter reminds us that everyone and everything needs some quiet time.
Katrina Mayer


After several years of family changes/losses, health issues and life changes, I'm savoring a time of entering  into what the Danish call hygge. It's a time of candles, hot beverages and time with friends family as the days grow shorter and we search out sources of light. A cozy time.

This year's approaching season is especially poignant. I've lost my Dad, a friend and an artist I admired greatly, Tom Petty. His was the soundtrack of much of my youth to now. So I'm reflecting on what has been left in my life for better and worst. 

Now is the time to just be and appreciate all that is. And so it begins....

Tom Petty, 'Learning to Fly':


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Yearning for Yosemite

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike. 
John Muir

A good friend came to visit me and I finally brought her to Yosemite. Yosemite is my heart and soul, it is what welcomed me and sustained me when I moved out here several years ago, not knowing really anyone. When I questioned the sanity of leaving my family and friends, it would heal my loneliness and give flight to my spirit and ultimately convince me to stay in California.

Last year I didn't get to Yosemite as I was dealing with my father. This year though we've had record rains and I was determined to go up. My friend couldn't go far into Yosemite due to a recent surgery so we did a quick in and out. The regular falls were spilling over and there were falls where none usually exist. We were also constrained by parts of the park being closed. So I will be taking one more week day trip before summer madness descends and Yosemite Valley becomes more like New York City.

Every one should visit Yosemite at least one time in their life. I've made many visits and it is always new, always inspiring. It is my church of the soul.

J.A. Seazer, 'A Song That Sank In Water':


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Eggsxactly

Round eggs can be made square according to how you cut it;
words could be harsh according to how you speak them.
 Japanese Proverb


Every holiday that comes around we try and do something inspirational for our patients at the clinic where I work to cheer them up from having to be on dialysis. We always have to make sure it fits into 101 federal regulations also, so finding something can be a creative exercise. So at Easter we take a few dialysis appropriate treats and an inspirational saying, place them in eggs and give them out. Nothing expensive and seemingly simple, but it is amazing the smiles and gratitude that we receive back.

I think that most of us have our inner child peek out on holidays. Or I least I hope we do, it would be sad if that piece of ourselves ever got lost.

Sheryl Crow, 'Sweet Child O'Mine':


Friday, April 7, 2017

Etudes of Embroidery

When I have needles, threads, and other special materials in front of me, something stirs deep inside my unconscious mind in spite of myself, and I am filled with strong emotion.That is when I regain my true self.
Junko Oki 

To continue thoughts of the last post. I have looked online for inspiration and there is plenty to be found. It is however a double edged sword. On one hand, you want to run to your stash of fabric, needles or linens and start something new right away. On the other, you look at what you are attempting and begin to feel inadequate. So I think the only way you become better is to look away, pick up your materials and do what I call the etudes of embroidery. They may be rough and seem amateurish, but the more you practice, the more smoother they become and your work reflects this. Your work shows your true self and becomes authentic.

And to share someone who influences and inspires me in music quite regularly.


Jesse Cook, 'Once':

Monday, April 3, 2017

Contractions and Expansions

All forms of human expression, art, science are going to become expanded, by expanding our intelligence.
Ray Kurzweil

When it comes to creativity, there is a certain amount of ADD in my approach. I will often work on two or three embroidery projects (similar to working with the music I do also). I've started doing what I call technical exercises, practicing stitches, trying out new ideas. The other two things continue with portraits and a move into figurative landscapes so to speak. The work above was in the technical exercise category and based on wanting to try out acrylic paint on fabric and doing round balls of running stitch. The colors reminded me of photos I've seen of  what we are seeing in the universe these days. From there the analogy of the universe expanding came to mind...the whole idea of at the center of new stars being created, there is a whirling mass of chaotic happening and then as things begin to form they are sent out to begin a unique life and then at end everything collapses and contracts again. So the idea for this little technical exercise formed and was completed. It was fun, freeing and now I'm on the next exercise.

The Beatles, 'Across the Universe':

 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Hanging Around

I think I've discovered the secret of life-you just hang around until you get used to it.
Charles M. Schultz

Some of the best weekends are just when a friend comes to hang around. This weekend a friend came up from San Francisco and we are catching up on things we enjoy. Going out to eat, hitting vintage/antique shops and finally doing our art projects. We may not be out hitting the latest and the greatest, but enjoying each other's company, sharing passions and great food makes one very rich in life indeed.

Counting Crows, 'Hanginaround':

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Work In Progress

Everybody's a work in progress. I'm still a work in progress. I've never arrived...I'm still learning all the time.
Renee Fleming

When are we finished? When we get a degree, a spouse/partner, a child, the perfect house at the perfect address? One thing I've learned in this season of my life, is that we never really arrive at a final destination. We just have stops along the way. I've been working on embroidery projects with vintage linens (portraits and scenes) and textile collages using fabric scraps. Many ideas and thoughts dance through my mind when I'm working, but one thing has become clear, the work in progress is always ongoing. When I think I've completed it, something in the work urges me on to another piece, another attempt in creating.  So while I may think the piece is final, it's not, it's just a link in the chain. And so goes life.

Pete Seeger, 'Oh, I Had A Golden Thread (A Link in the Chain)':

Monday, February 27, 2017

Siren Song Alice C. 1973

If you confine it, you're confining a whole thing.
Alice Cooper

In between everything, I've tried to return to doing embroidery subjects on vintage linen. I've done some portraits, but am expanding to touch on things that capture my attention. Last year I came across an AP photo from 1973 of Alice Cooper. It was unusual, it showed him reaching out to tenderly touch the face of a young girl who was close to the stage (not what you would expect to see at one of his theatrical concerts). There was a resonance. Michigan was exploding with musical styles when I was growing up. However, Alice Cooper was something my parents didn't approve of (I came into his orbit later in the 1970s). Then a close male friend who was a drummer, took me to the edge of AC's world. He was my siren song. I saw in him a voice that wasn't afraid to stand out, to take on the world in his own terms, to not be confined to a certain expectation of who you should be.  So doing an interpretation of this photo on the very lady like and innocent facades of the original embroidery was a natural progression. A homage to a special moment in confining times.

I wanted to offer Detroit City or Under My Wheels, but couldn't find a good copy to share so we'll do something from recently that still reflects the energy of that time.

Alice Cooper, 'I'll Bite Your Face Off':


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Purrfect....

Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want. 
 Joseph Wood Krutch
 
Animals love me and I love them. As you have seen in my blog I have a 12 year old English Springer Spaniel. Prior to her, cats were more in my life. But due to my roommate having allergies to cats when I moved to California, I ended up with Bella. And it's been incredible journey having her in my life.
 
Tonight an fourth month old or so kitten tried to adopt me. Given our bad weather here in California, I brought her in and tried to find out if any one here in my condo complex had lost her.  No luck. For a number of reasons I couldn't keep her even over night. So luckily events provided me with someone who was willing to take her in temporarily till either either an owner is found or a permanent placement is gained.
 
 I had placed her on my patio while I went to check in on if anyone knew anything and to borrow some cat food for her. When I came back she was objecting quite loudly to being left and my neighbors who share my patio wall were calling to her. So when I spoke to them about not being able to leave her with Bella unsupervised and having a housekeeper who was coming in who was allergic to cats, they agreed to be her temporary foster parents so to speak. They told me they have a laid back cat who they have had with other cats with no issues.

It's great to have a positive. The lights haven't been shining so bright the last several weeks and this gives me hope for better days.
 
Stray Cats, 'Stray Cat Strut':
 
 



Friday, February 10, 2017

Not in Memorium

Broken people lead to broken hearts.
Mandy Hale

My father died this week and my heart is empty. He took so much from me, from my sisters and from my brother. We tried to bring him back into our lives time after time, only to have our hearts broken with each occurrence. And then yet once more this week when we tried to give him peace in his last days. Lesson learned. He didn't believe in anything but himself.  So I will not mourn him, I will mourn that I never really had a father only the illusion of one. And I will go on, heal and my heart will be whole and full again.

Bee Gees, 'How Can You  Mend A Broken Heart':

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Imagine LeanIng On One Another



encroaching darkness
attempts to swallow the land
the world lights candles


The ACLU received a record $24 million in donations over the weekend. Doesn't sound to me like people believe in the "alternative facts" coming out of Washington. People are getting it...like it or not....we have to learn to lean on each other. We're all we've got.

Playing for Change/Song Around The World, 'Imagine' 'Lean On Me':



Saturday, January 28, 2017

We Can't Keep Quiet

Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels - men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/d/dwightdei149087.html?src=t_dissent
Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels - men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/d/dwightdei149087.html?src=t_dissent
Dwight D. Eisenhower

And light continues to struggle to shine in darkness as the assault continues. I usually don't use 2 quotes in one blog, but our anti-president as a descendent of Republican presidents should do some reading of quotes by Dwight D. Eisenhower who also said, "You don't lead by hitting people over the head, that's assault not leadership." 

This am I awoke to find out that new sweeping executive orders were signed which began to marginalize Muslims and favor Christians which some may say I'm simplifying but it's there in the text of the orders.  I don't support extreme right wing doctrine of any religion and do agree about vigilance in those cases where any religion is used to promote violence, but to tar and feather a whole group of people because of the actions of some people goes against every thing we are supposed to be about here.  I  support the right to worship in this country according to the laws of our constitution which promises freedom of religion. What's next burning of witches?

It's been a week since the march, but voices are raising and will continue to. We (I) can't keep quiet.

MILCK, 'Quiet':

 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Beware of Darkness

As long as you live you'll never see a photograph of 7 women signing legislation about what men can do with their reproductive organs.
-Martin Belam

Chills are going up and down my spine. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington are rolling over in their graves. Liberty, freedom of speech and thought are being replaced by an oligarchy headed by an anti-president. In the last 4 days the message is overwhelming. If we don't review it or we don't like it,  you cannot talk about it, have it or use it. Consider the EPA current policy:
All EPA employees, including scientists, managers and other Agency leadership from suppressing, altering, or otherwise impeding the timely release of scientific findings or conclusions.

This is the beginning of what they want to do:

Scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency who want to publish or present their scientific findings likely will need to have their work reviewed on a "case by case basis" before it can be disseminated, according to a spokesman for the agency's transition team.

I'm not naive, I know there is also a review and restriction on information shared by the government, especially in relationship to new incoming Presidents and their teams, but the gag rule and EPA are just two examples of increasingly frightening restrictions. When Presidents Regan and the Bushes came into office, I was alarmed and angered by some of their policies, but I was never scared for the future of this country. Under President Obama I was relieved to not have an pre-existing condition keep me from gaining or continuing my health care. And as a breast cancer survivor, this was precious. It also protected me from my insurance company financially restricting the amount of treatment I gained. Two of my sisters, one of whom is a Veteran, who had been without health care under prior administrations, finally gained much needed policies, one through the coverage marketplace and the other the VA. I acknowledge President Obama's health care policies aren't and weren't perfect, but rather than dismantle the system, how about a thoughtful dialogue to improve. But no that would smack against the current anti-president and his teams patriarchal attitude and plan of we know best for you.

I never intended for by my blog to become political, but for a time, yes, I'm going to be speaking out. I've taken to heart the message, "if you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem". And as I wrote last blog post, I'm going to be blazing light against the darkness that has settled in Washington D.C.

George Harrison, 'Beware of Darkness':

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Protesting or Pussy Power




Never in all the years I've voted did I think I would ever reach a time when I couldn't call someone elected to the highest office in the land our President.  Even when persons came into office that I hadn't agreed with politically, I gave them the respect of what the office of the President stood for. And I cannot even do that, because now we have the anti-President. 

I am a woman, a childhood abuse survivor and was bullied in school. Thanks to wonderful people who helped me,  I grew beyond that and  experienced resilience. Further I chose to become a social worker/therapist to help people who had not been protected, marginalized or were seeking to make their life better.And ironically in that theme, this year's NASW's standard is Stand Up!

There were many protests held yesterday. I wanted to be in one of them, but due to preparing for a medical procedure I'm having, I had to stay close to home.  And as our anti-President had immediately starting taking negative actions that added to my growing dread, I felt the need to do something! So I decided to add my voice in some way. I joined with other women in the reclamation process of a derivative term and designed this embroidery art.

This is just the beginning. As the old saying goes, "It's better to light a candle, then to curse the darkness". Honey, I intend to start a blaze....

Helen Reddy, 'I Am Woman':

Monday, January 2, 2017

Rivers and Roads

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.
Samuel Smiles

It's the beginning of a new year, or the continuing of the journey from last year. Whatever perspective you choose, there's always the possibility of the old remaining and the new beginning. Having just returned from a journey to my family for the holidays, it reminds me that no matter what you choose, it's the reaching out and enjoying the path to your destination that is important. It's all the sweeter then when you finally arrive.

The Head and The Heart, 'Rivers and Roads':

  

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