Life

Thursday Delights

Writing this on my status update last night felt very good and really brought the whole day into focus.  I’ll bet that if you stop and think for just a moment, that you can come up with a similar list for your day.  Even if lousy stuff happened – think of the moments that made your day special.  Our lives are made up of many thousands of moments like these.  Savor each one.

Today was a regular day but one of those days when everything just feels good. And here are some of reasons why. As I said, nothing out of the ordinary, just being aware and savoring each moment.

Thursday Delights

wearing brightly patterned socks
granola and yogurt with blueberries
browsing the art supplies in my favorite store
the sun’s gentle benediction
a visual feast of pansies and snapdragons
mixing colors in art class
finding a missing pattern book
filling a donation bag for pickup tomorrow
agreeing to raid the ‘frig for dinner
music in the car; music in the studio
talking to friends and family
giving and receiving warmth and caring.

Visual feast of 'dragons and pansies

Life

The Blue Orchard: A Novel by Jackson Taylor – my first book review on Goodreads

The Blue Orchard: A Novel

The Blue Orchard: A Novel by Jackson Taylor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Set in the 50’s in and around Harrisburg, PA. This very well written book tells a good story and at the same time raises many questions about hotly debated topics in the news today. The protagonists are involved in providing what was at the time illegal abortions. Various aspects of the whole abortion issue are raised in the context of the story and can lead to some great discussion. A lot of the action also focuses on the political machine in power – again leading to inevitable comparisons with contemporary U.S. politics. The issues of racism and women’s roles are also explored.
The story begins in the midst of the Depression years and we get a glimmer of what life must have been like as we accompany the main characters in their struggle.
Very good characterizations are a hallmark of this book. All in all a great story and I highly recommend it.

View all my reviews

Life, Music, Social Commentary

Celebrity Deaths and Public Reaction – from Larry Lootsen’s Blog

A very interesting article from Larry Lootsen’s blog

Larry Lootsteen's Blog

I have asked myself this question before but I’ve never really written about it. I thought this deserved a look.

With the recent death of Whitney Houston I was struck by what amounts to a truly insane reaction. People who never met her or got to see her perform weeping like their own mother died. You can flame me for this but it annoys me. A lot.

Whitney Houston was a great talent. But I definitely don’t lump her in the same category as Elvis, John Lennon or Michael Jackson. She burned bright and burned out. She hasn’t done anything of note in years. Being dead doesn’t make you a legend. It isn’t even a requirement.

So I started asking myself, as a U2 fan, how would I react if Bono died?

Would I cry? Would I run out and find a vigil to attend? Would I start my own…

View original post 511 more words

Life

C is for Coincidence………Why I’m a Skeptic

C is for Coincidence ………….Why I’m a Skeptic

Do you sometimes wonder if an occurrence was a coincidence or……if other forces were at
work? A friend and I were discussing this the other day and I told her a story about something that happened to me a while back.

I’ll change a couple of names here – for the privacy of the individuals. But the rest of this tale is absolutely 100 % true.

One of my classes in grad school was The Nature of Stress and Health. For our term paper I had decided on the topic “The Relationship Between Stress and Cancer”. My classmate and colleague Valerie and I headed over to the Cal State Northridge library after work to hit the stacks and hopefully to make some progress on our research.

Valerie and I both worked in Nursing Administration at a local hospital; I was the Director of In-service Education and was pursuing my Master’s evenings and weekends.

We spent close to three hours going through piles of books and journals. I was looking for scientific studies that pertained to my subject matter of stress and cancer; they were scarce but I did find several anecdotal reports that were fascinating. And you know how it goes when you start doing research; one article leads you to another and yet another: something like web cruising actually.

So I copied up the few that looked promising but was frustrated by not being able to locate more. There were two that I was especially disappointed not to find. They had been referred to in yet another publication as a source and had been written by a psychologist named Arthur Barnwell. One referenced a paper he had written; another referenced “personal communication.”

So Val and I packed up for the evening and went to our homes to continue our reading.

The next morning I was back at my desk by 8:30 and got busy organizing a full day of nurse orientation and specialty training classes.

At just after 9 AM my phone rang – the caller said: Hello Mrs. Greer, my name is Dr. Arthur Barnwell. I coach medical personnel in stress reduction techniques and would like to talk to you about setting up a session for your staff there at the hospital.

After I regained consciousness I responded: I’d be happy to talk to you further about that Dr. Barnwell. But first I have a request for you. You know that article that you wrote about Stress and Cancer 2 years ago? Where can I find a copy of it? Then I went on to explain what had happened the previous evening.

We finished our conversation and I immediately ran into Valerie’s office jumping up and down and screaming at the top of my voice: “You won’t believe who just called, you won’t believe this!!!”

Epilogue: I got my articles directly from the author a couple of days later in the mail. And the following month our nursing staff got some hints as to how they could lower their day to day stress level at work. Oh, and I got an A in the class!

I’m still reluctant to call what happened a simple coincidence. What do you think?

Art Quilt, Fiber Art, Haiku, Life, Poetry, Poetry and Photography

Haiku Art – from February 2011 Faultlines of the Heart

February has rolled around once more.  This year our Haiku prompt word is ‘moon.’  When I get back to the Valley I’ll work on the challenge, writing my haiku based on the prompt and completing a piece of artwork to represent it.  In the meantime I’m jotting down some ideas – a stream of consciousness series of associations for the word ‘moon’.

Last year the February prompt word was  ‘love.’  With so many new people on board this year I decided to encore the February 2011 haiku and art work. The piece was and is one of my favorites.  My goal for the artwork was to illustrate feelings resulting from the loss of love and the subsequent attempts to hide emotions from others.


Here you have a heart that has been fractured into many pieces along the faultlines that were there all along.  And floating over the pieces of the heart are a tangle of ribbons attempting to hide the tears underneath.
letting go of love
hot salty tears flow freely
bruised battered heart cracks.

All the red “shards” combine to form one complete heart. The pieces have been attached to the background with a lot of heavy quilting. I used heavy cotton plus metallic. The ribbons are hand tacked. Under the ribbons are tear-shaped beads peeking out. I purposefully left the thread tails and frayed edges alone as they are part of the over all feeling that I wanted to generate.

Life, people

The Fight Against Breast Cancer Should Never Be Politicized

Dear Blog Followers:

This is an art blog and as such I strive to avoid topics that are controversial or that could be construed as political.  However I take the recent decision by the Komen Foundation to defund mammograms offered by Planned Parenthood very seriously.  My younger sister died much too early from Breast Cancer and it is appalling to see so many more women put at risk by this decision.

Please do whatever your own conscience tells you to insofar as decrying or applauding this decision but please do give the situation some thought as well as the overall impact on women and their health.  My hopes are that you will let the Komen foundation know that you think it is an outrage – if indeed that is your conclusion.

Please take a quick look at this graphic (click on link) for some perspective.  Thank you very much.

tumblr_lyqkrckXlJ1r65lwbo1_500.jpg (JPEG Image, 490 × 513 pixels).

Family, Life

B is for Bowling

Every time I go bowling I say the same thing – “This is so much fun!  Why don’t we do this more often?”  …. And then years go by….

I’m in Minneapolis this week to celebrate youngest granddaughter’s 11th birthday.  She loves to bowl (she’s enthusiastic about EVERYTHING!) and requested a trip to Memory Lanes.

Some things were the same as I remembered – the clutzy shoes, the god-awful food from the snack bar (actually the nachos weren’t too bad) and the FUN!

Some things were very different.  Like, as we were setting up my daughter in law asking me if I wanted gutter bumpers.    I said “Huh?”   She explained these little bumper thingies pop up to prevent your ball from going into the gutter.   Are you KIDDING?   You bet I want them 🙂

Watching the girls enjoy themselves was the most fun; getting a strike and scoring a hundred in a game was a lot of fun too.

Next time I will try to get a ball that my fingers don’t stick to when I try to release it.  AND I will know where the foul line is.  I didn’t realize until the 8th inning that I was mistaking a floorboard line about a yard and a half behind the REAL foul line for the foul line.  And none of those bums told me !!

Animals, Cat, Life

I’m Going to “Occupy” the Yard – end of an era

I went out on the back patio earlier this evening and it really dawned on me. After more than 30 years of having cats in our lives suddenly there are none.

Now, thanks anyway, but no condolences are needed. We haven’t had any real pet cats since the late 90’s. THAT’s when condolences would have been welcomed. We had 3 that lived for 18, 19 and 20 years. I’ll have to write some other time about how the oldest one (my cat) used to sit on the Japanese bridge over the fish pond in our old back yard and dream of catching Koi. But I digress….

Sometime in those same late nineties a tiny mostly black cat took up residence in the back yard. She wouldn’t let us come near her. She would hiss and bristle then take off like a shot. Not just skittish, she was feral. So of course we started putting out food after a couple of days and she was still there. Thought maybe she had a home somewhere else. Once that first bowl of feline fuss budget special mix was set out there was no turning back. She was feral but she wasn’t crazy.

We started talking about trying to catch her and take her to a vet – instead she surprised us with a litter. Of course we couldn’t get near any of them either.

I started to worry about being overrun with cats and someday we may want to sell the house and we’d have to disclose there’s a cat problem – by then there’d be multiple generations and oh – maybe a few hundred – so my imagination conjured up. So we planned to catch all 4 and do the vet thing. Couldn’t get the job done ourselves so we hired a guy who specialized in trapping.

He was quite efficient. We had them all to the vets for shots and surgery and back in the yard quickly. (The kittens were old enough by the time we hired this guy who appeared in the newspaper a few years later after he’d been arrested for murder – but that’s another story. Again I digress.) So now, after supplying these critters food and water and a lovely patio to take over they have all gone on their way one by one. They really did have cushy lives for ferals but also obviously knew how to take care of themselves to live as long as they did.

Am I wistful? A little, I’ll admit. BUT this weekend I’m going out there with a bucketful of cleaning stuff and occupying the yard. It’s going to be beautiful once more on the patio with no cat hair!!

Laurie on Aaron's Upper Bunk
Humor, Life

Thought(s) for the Day or Why I Want To Take A Nap (reprinted)

My Note:   I read this on the Quilt Art list this morning and thought I would die laughing.  With June Underwood’s kind permission I am sharing it with all of my readers.  Do yourself a favor and take a look at June’s work as well – wonderful!

Let’s see: why do I suddenly want to curl up in my closet — let me
count the ways:

1. I should keep a journal, an orderly journal, one which starts at the
first page of the handmade book (that I made, of course) and finishes at
the last page. Each page should have text and at least one drawing and
perhaps some photos and fabric as memorabilia.

2. I should blog every day, incorporating both text and photos,
inspirational sayings, links to other great blogs, and links to Amazon
for books I think others should read. I should also read books.

3. I should list my hopes, aspirations, and goals for the year, break
them down into daily, weekly, monthly segments, make up an excel sheet,
and write every day (in my computer, not in my journal) what I’ve
accomplished in these areas.

4. I definitely should do strengthening exercises so I can lift my
carry-ons into the overhead compartments, should I ever want to carry on
luggage again. Or use the airlines, for that matter.

5. I should walk at least 4 times a week, alternating days with swimming
or biking through Portland’s streets in order to sharpen my defensive
skills against open doors and crazed drivers and to keep my hair
straw-dry and my feet mud-wet.

6. I should vacuum the studio once a week. I should vacuum the kitchen
twice a day. I should be sure to get the dust mites up before they get
up me.

7. I should eat a good breakfast with protein and blueberries. I should
have only 1/2 cup of coffee if I think I can’t live without it, which I
can’t.

8. I should eat a good lunch with whole grains and citrus. No coffee. 16
oz of water.

9. I should eat a very very light dinner with no wine, no dessert, and
lots of fish. No coffee. 32 oz of water.

10. I should go to the studio every day, even if it’s only to vacuum.

11. I should blog on two blogs, one personal and one artsy. Both should
contain photos of my recent trips (walking around the neighborhood
counts) and my recent art (drawings in the dust mites is OK).

12. I should be on Facebook at least 5 times a day, posting about my art
as well as my vacuuming.

13. I should be on Google Plus at least twice a day discussing the
nature of post-modernism and whether Titian used holographic devices and
allowing Google to send these posts to all the email folks in my gmail
accounts (this in addition to my Google Plus Circle friends).

14. I should grow my own vegetables, particularly as I am fortunate
enough to live in a climate where year-round gardening is almost
possible, if one has greenhouses and cold frames and doesn’t mind hoeing
when it’s 35 degrees and raining.

15. I should prune my own fruit trees, when I’m not painting the parlor
and/or fixing the roof.

16. I should learn all the options on Facebook and set them according to
a complex set of rules about who should and who should not read about
the inability of my toilet to flush.

17. I should buy an iPhone so I can learn how to use cell phones in the
most sophisticated manner and thus be ready to join in conversations
about how wonderful the iPhone is.

18. I should buy an iPad so I can learn how it doesn’t like PCs, which
then would lead me to buying a MAC and starting all over with all my
documents, photos and email addresses, transferring these via the
unusable cable from PC to MAC as well as buying programs that I already
have for the PC that don’t transfer on the unusable cable to the MAC.
Then I can write blogs and post to FB and Google Plus about how
wonderful the iPad is.

19.  I should apply for grants, for residencies, for group exhibits, for
solo exhibits, and to be allowed to wrap the Sellwood Bridge in silk so
it doesn’t fall down before the new one is built.

20. I should learn musical composition, video recording and editing,
woodworking, encaustics, and the chemical makeup of dyes in order that I
can enhance my art. I should also buy a full set of drawers for beads
and feathers and bling-bling, which I can then buy and put away in
color-coded, size-delimited containers, and vacuum every day. Then I can
learn all about watercolor — brands as well as pigments — and oils
paints, which I should use.

21. I should subscribe to all the appropriate professional journals, on
and off the computer, and make up a marketing plan, having in place a
portfolio (fully up to date, and updated every day to account for what I
did the day before), a resume (see last parenthesis), and an artist’s
statement for each piece of art I do (see parenthesis before the last
parenthesis). The marketing plan should be separate from goals,
aspirations, and hopes, because it’s marketing, which must take into
account customers, fads, colors of the year, and venues that would
actually sell any art I made. These should be placed on an excel sheet
so the marketable elements can be checked off; this will save Medicare a
lot of money.

22. Oh, and I should make some art.

But before any of that, I think I’ll go lie down with a wet washrag on
my forehead.

Cheers,
June

Sorry. I couldn’t resist. I should be more humble, more laconic, and
more earnest.

June O. Underwood
Website: http://www.juneunderwood.com
Art blog: http://www.juneunderwood.com/weblog/
Personal blog: http://southeastmain.wordpress.com/

Life

2011: The Worst and the Best of Years

I guess it’s traditional to contemplate the year just past as we look forward to the shiny ball falling in Times Square.  Please indulge me for a couple of minutes as I do that and get a little personal.

Remember Tale of Two Cities by Dickens and how it started?  …I will paraphrase…….it was the best of years, it was the worst of years……

This year, 2011,  lots of things came to a head for me as unresolved matters from years past piled up to the point where they had to start tumbling down. And tumble they did – with a resounding crash that woke me out of the doldrums and shook off years of accumulated denial and avoidance.  I had experienced numerous losses of loved ones including my entire birth family over the course of several years but had never allowed myself to fully grieve the way one needs to.  Well, somehow, my guardian angel recognized this and kicked me in the butt as much as to say get on with it already.

And so I did.  And here is where the Dickensian character of the year becomes apparent.  While going through the delayed grieving process was indeed painful – all those stored up feelings were allowed to surface – the result was unexpected and welcome.

I feel like the ‘real’ me emerged – the genuine Guila – probably more accurate to say the ‘rest’ of who I am.  I have always been someone who loves to be creative –to use my imagination and play with design, with color, with words, with ideas.  But this time I allowed myself to just go with it and to see where it would take me without self censoring without self criticism.  The discoveries that I made thrilled me no end – having an aptitude for art that goes beyond needle and thread is a new idea for me.

And that brings me to today and to anticipation of the year ahead.   While 2011 was a year of discovery,  I look forward to 2012 as a year to concentrate on learning, on practicing and refining these newly discovered skills.  And to focus on developing my art related business at the same time.  This isn’t Paris of the 19th century and I do not have a patron.  So the business part is vital to allow me the ability to stay planted on the creative path and to put down roots there.

This is a very exciting journey.  The support of my friends and readers and your encouragement is vital and I am so thankful for all of you.  Please stick around for the ride!  It’s going to be lots of fun.

My heartfelt wishes to all of you for a Happy and Healthy 2012.  May all your dreams come true!