Sunday, September 11, 2016

A DAY TRIMMED IN BLACK

I wrote this story in 2011 and have published it every anniversary. I still have difficulty when viewing a large plane at a lower level, making a turn in the air. The scars run deep.
I hope that we never forget as a nation the horror of that time. 



A Day Trimmed In Black

My maternal grandmother was born on September 11, 1897, so while growing up that was the important fact to me about that date. After she died in October 1991, I sent flowers to my mother on what would have been my grandmother's birthday the following year. After 2001, however, I unfortunately had a different reason to remember the 11th of September.

As the anniversary comes up marking that tragic time, all of us who are American citizens, (and many who aren't) remember where we were when the events unfolded. It was a difficult day for all of us. Personally, for several hours that day, fear camped out beside me on the sofa because my husband had been in New York and was flying out that morning.

When a friend called me about 9:30 to tell me to turn on the news, I sat there in shock, and all that was being said at the time was that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. What plane? From where? No one knew. I quickly called my husband's assistant and asked her what time John's flight was supposed to leave New York and she told me that it had just left and that some of the men in the group who had been scheduled for an upcoming flight had told her that they were just informed that there would be no more planes out. Knowing that I could not get a hold of John while he was in flight, I was very afraid that the plane was his which had hit the building and then when it came out that the flight was from Boston, I had a such sense of relief which almost made me feel guilty.

John had been in the Financial District, right in the area of the World Trade Center, for a business meeting all day on Monday, September 10th, with several other businessmen from Charleston. He told me later that when his plane took off, it circled back around to fly over New York City on its way south. They passed the tower from a short distance away, and could see the black smoke billowing out. The pilot spoke to the passengers and told them that a small plane had accidentally flown into the building, but John and several others realized that no small plane would have caused the amount of smoke and flames they saw. There was no other word from the pilots until about a half hour later, when it was announced that the plane would be landing at Norfolk VA because of an emergency. No one on the plane knew what had happened until they came into the airport terminal.

He called me right away, knowing I'd be very concerned about his whereabouts. I don't think I was ever so relived to hear his voice! He sounded somewhat in shock, and there was so much confusion and noise in the terminal I could hardly hear him. He said that the pilot had told them they were the last plane out of the New York airport. We also realized later that the second plane to hit the towers had been in the same air space his plane was in, several miles behind. That gave us both chills.

His group was trying to find a rental car for the trip home, while the other part of the traveling contingency was now stuck in New York and would not arrive home for several more days. About midday, John's group finally found a minivan and started the long drive home. Traffic on I-95 was almost bumper to bumper the entire way, and they spent the trip listening to the radio and getting calls from their family members with updates as the day progressed. When I finally heard the van pull up about 10 pm, I rushed out the door and threw my arms around him. Even though I knew he was all right, watching the news programs all day made his absence much more acute and being with him was the only thing I really wanted!

On September 11, there will be many speeches and events marking the time since this tragedy happened. We will remember and pray for those families whose lives were directly impacted by the fall of the Towers. Life in this world has no certainty, but life in the next does and that understanding gives us the grace to go forward each day. Love the people in your life and let them know it with hugs and smiles. And let them love you and tell you how important you are to them!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Where Are You?

When I post images to my Facebook page, I usually get responses, especially images which reflect the love I have for my family - old wedding photos, my husband and daughter together, "back in the day" shots, etc. Sharing the art I create which helps me go on from moment to moment, seems to strike a chord with my friends. And since I spend about 95% of my daily life housebound, Facebook is my connection to the outside world. It is gratifying to have these responses, because it means someone is listening to what I have to say. And after 8 years of spending most of my life lying on my back on my bed, I still feel I have friends.

But I have noticed that when what I have to say is not about pretty images, or about a funny experience I had with the animals we live with, or the bird nests popping up in spring, things change. If instead I am communicating about the painful side of living like a hermit, of loss and grief, or as I did yesterday, the bitter realization that you and a few million other people are of no consequence to the medical community, the feedback and responses go silent. There's an uncomfortable tenseness in the air of my Facebook world and I get the sense that people are waiting for me to get myself back on track. Their track.


It's as if they are thinking:


"Well, she's off on one of her "feel sorry for myself" trips. I don't have anything to say and I will respond to her when she says something more uplifting, or funny or "normal". A little judgement is going on there.


"Eww, I never know how to answer someone when they talk about pain. I'll wait till she comes back to normal" Gee, how hard is it to say "I'm sorry, I know that's frustrating"?


"Doesn't she know that it's more admirable to not complain, to be an encouragement to others, to show how strong her faith is by never being down?" Well, that's just baloney.


My life is narrow, in the physical sense. And like anyone else, I would like to hear some compassion, sympathy and empathy when I need it. I try to do it for others - my many friends who are stuck in this  medical twilight world of living vicariously through others feel the same frustration when people turn away, or pretend to not hear or see your need, and wait until they are comfortable when once again we have stepped back into the role of not upsetting their view of us. They ignore us until we act the way they want. It's less trouble that way. For them.


Well, it's painful for me. I hate being invisible, living in a visible world with an invisible illness. How hard is it to simply acknowledge that sometimes I feel pain, grief, anger, loneliness, etc. and when I post, it is my only outlet to ask for a cyber hug or a pat on the back, or encouragement of some kind? Is it that hard for you to take the time to extend to me and others like me the human touch, even if it is only through cyber space?


Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Why?





Yesterday, news that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded research grant up to $63 million to study heredity and health in AFRICA  came as a blow to the millions of us who are mainly invisible to the medical community here in the UNITED STATES. There has been more money given to study male pattern baldness then to help fund research for the community who have had their lives shut down by an illness which no one understands the cause, or has an solid plan for recovery. We live under a death sentence, as sufferers of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis we are highly more likely to have heart conditions, cancer or strokes because of the effects on our heart, organs and brain.  

It is not taught in medical school. Doctors are not trained to hear us and believe us. The ones who do are just a handful and they are coming to an age where they will be retiring. There are not a lot of new medical personnel on the horizon to take their places.


Yes, that makes me angry. The NIH director is appointed by the sitting president, so whoever wins this fall will be making some changes in the agency. We have fought for 30 years for recognition, and if nothing is in place for intense research, we will lose the uphill battle and have to start yet again.


And wouldn't that make you angry? From your bed as you lie there? Would you like to be ignored?


And that is why it hurts when there is little to no response when I post my frustrations on Facebook. Hey friends, where are you now? (And to certain ones who make an effort, please don't automatically blame yourself. I am grateful for you.)


It doesn't cost you that much to say you care.


So say it.



Live your life one day at a time!

Friday, April 15, 2016

What Do You Mean You Don't Want This??

Our daughter, our only child, is 32 years old and has her own tastes. Well, ok, that doesn't sound startling. But when I want her to have some things I think would be neat for her to have, and she says "Mom, that really isn't me.",  it does take a moment to sink in that something I like has no appeal to her at all! One could, if one were so inclined, actually have hurt feelings.

I had an antiques business, and have many items still left from that, plus items given to me by my parents which belonged to my grandparents and even great grandparents. They are precious - to me.  She hasn't grown up having those same feelings so she doesn't see them in the same context. And I had to learn a while back, that's OK. To be fair to me, though, she has changed her mind about some of the things, but only some. So I have been looking for places for the extra stuff in the barn: outlet stores for certain charities, people I know who might like them, or a university drama department.


Recently, she has begun sewing accessories, while taking a break from her painting and drawing. She is quite a good and creative seamstress, and has used a bunch of antique fabrics and tablecloths to make into shoulder bags, messenger bags and small pouches. She shares a love of fabric with me - I used to smock, French hand sew, and create one of a kind items of clothing for her. She looks forward to using the clothing herself should she be blessed with a daughter. But antique fabric! Oh my, it just made my heart beat a little faster - French linen sheets with heavy white embroidery, rough linen French feed sacks with a red or blue stripe  down the length of the bag, soft prints on cotton dress fabric, linen towels, barkcloth from the mid-century, tablecloths from the 1920's- 1950's, tickings of all kinds and toile. I would purchase them, wash and fold them and look lovingly at the stack. I sold many, but I always seemed to buy way more than I could sell (it helped to know other dealers who sold them by the lot for a great price!) and I use the linen sheets on our beds and old kitchen towels are put to use again in our kitchen. But still, just what am I going to do with the rest now?


I had to sell my antiques business when I became chronically ill. The fabric was boxed up and stored. First I had given Tabitha everything which was stained or had been torn, so she could cut around these parts and use them for sewing. Later I stood looking at the large plastic storage box which has been in the extra closet for years. How many years? And really, what good where they going to do me? They would do an awful lot for her, so I asked her if she wanted them - she pounced quite happily! She recently did her first show and did pretty well even though it really wasn't her demographic. And she's bursting with plans on how to make them even more unique!







(Photos taken by Daryl Ham)

Now, here's a secret - when she first showed me the small pouches using the different tickings as lining, my first thought was "AAHH - she cut up the ticking fabric!" Silly, isn't it? I realized then that it was good I had given them away, I had become attached to these "things".

Of course, some things haven't changed, there are still items I have which she doesn't want. And that's OK, it's her life. I respect that!


............... Well, I might still try to talk her into taking my grandmother's large beautiful dough bowl, made from a single piece of wood, or my great grandfather's long handmade porch bench .....................


And here's a good link to motivate you to move on, thanks to my friend Fran! Be sure to read it!





Live your life one day at a time!


Friday, April 8, 2016

About Scenery And Mailboxes

During the time I owned my antiques business, we purchased a 2000 Ford Excursion, which is really a Ford 250 pickup with a roof. It was HUGE and was a great boon to me as I hauled things around in my business. When we moved to the upstate of South Carolina in 2007, I continued my business for about another year, and but as I became ill with Myalgic Encephlamyalitis, the antique business had to be sold. We kept the Excursion though, because it came in handy for hauling bales of pine straw,
 flats of flowers, dogs, or anything else that needed something big for transportation.

I had had a few minor mishaps with the Excursion when we first got it, because it is such a large vehicle to try and mix it up with smaller cars in a normal sized parking lot. The top of the Excursion's tires come up to the top of the hood on small sedans. I am thankful that it was never anything serious, and I finally managed to feel like I had mastered the art of driving it and felt pretty comfortable doing so. But if you aren't careful, it can catch you off guard in just a moment!

The roads in the area where we live now are almost all country roads, narrow with little to no shoulder. One day soon after we had moved up here, I was leaving the drive-in window of our local drug store, I noticed a road going off around a couple of small mountains. I knew from the name of the road, it must come out near where I would have taken my turn off towards home on my usual route. So I decided to take the long way home, and see what I could see on this unfamiliar road.

As most country roads around here, it had a lot of attractive scenery - old houses, old trees, yards with flowers, farms with cows and horses. And it also had sharp curves and S turns where you had to be careful you did not run off the road into perhaps an old stone wall. So I was moving along, enjoying the scenery, and trying to be careful to give enough room for occasional oncoming traffic. Then I came around one curve in the midst of a stand of trees, to suddenly having an open field to my left, where the distant mountains could be seen over graceful trees in a green pasture. What a lovely view, I thought, as the road kept curving. Then I was jerked back to reality by the sound of
WHAM!!!

As I quickly turned my head to the right, I caught the sight of a green plastic mailbox bouncing up against the bank, and my outside rear view mirror ripped from the side of the car. I quickly eased the car to the side of the road, and sat there for a minute, stunned by the loud noise, and the now useless hanging mirror. I glanced back at the mailbox, and knew that I couldn't just drive off, so I found a place to turn around and then parked in the driveway by the damages. I got out to try and hopefully put it back together, but it wasn't going to happen. Looking down at the pieces, I felt so stupid and then, taking a big sigh I climbed back into my car and drove up the steep driveway to let the owners know that I would purchase them a brand new mailbox. After knocking on the door several times I realized that the person wasn't home, so I found some scrap paper, wrote them a message and taped it to the glass door so they'd see it. Then I drove on home, keeping my eyes squarely in the road.



When I returned home and filled in my husband with my sad story, all I could do was wait now until the person called me. John very kindly offered to take me out for a quick bite since he could tell I was still rattled by the incident. When we returned, there was a message on our house phone from an elderly man with a southern twang:

"Miss Cook? This is Daniel __________. You lef' me a message about my mail box? Well, honey, jus' don't worry yourself 'bout that mailbox, it's been hit so many times I might as well jus' throw it away. I have a home health nurse, she's an ex drug addict, ya know, and she can just' take care of it. I 'preciate your leaving me the message and all, but jus' put it out of your head, 'cause there ain't no reason to worry about it no more!"

John and I just looked at each other, then I played it back again. The second time, I started laughing and yes, I did feel better. When I took the car in for repairs, however, it wasn't a laughing matter, as the repairs cost well over $300. But at least I didn't have to buy a new mailbox! 


Live your life one day at a time!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Now Move On

Recently I was taken to task about my disease, being told that I talk too much about it on Facebook. I went through my postings for quite a ways back, and I noticed that most of my disease related posts were about current articles, news or information. I have many Facebook friends who also suffer with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.), and other related invisible illnesses and we share articles and information as it comes out across the medical outlets on the internet. Mainly this is because there is no centralized information source, and what research that is being done is scattered and independent from each other, and that research is not well funded.

I did some more thinking and realized I still felt frustrated with the whole episode. After speaking to others about their experiences and reading the blogs of other sufferers, I realized that this response is very common. "Don't talk about your illness anymore. We are tired of hearing about it. We don't need to be reminded. We understand, now move on."


No, you don't.


Just like I don't understand what it's like to have Down Syndrome, because I have not experienced it. (Or any other physical difference that separates a person from the "normal" crowd.)


There are a lot of aphorisms people use about understanding what a person is going through, or experiencing. "Walk a mile in their shoes." "You don't understand unless you have experienced it yourself." and other similar sentences. Actually, they are very accurate, and for those of us in the (mostly) sisterhood of these invisible illnesses, we can identify closely with one another, and that gives us great comfort.


I know someone who has a severe disability because of a fall experienced at work. Her days are spent in constant pain, and I can identify somewhat, because the pain I have is not the same. I can still have compassion for her.


There is a great blog about empathy and how to develop it, if you really care enough to do that. A good quote :



"Surprisingly, the ability to empathize with others is relative to a person’s capacity to identify, feel and understand their own feelings and thereby being able to project one’s feelings onto others. This means in turn that it becomes complicated at times to understand what a person is undergoing, if you haven’t undergone it for yourself – or at least felt similar feelings."

But it takes time, and a real desire to do so. Most people who say they "get" M.E. have read very little about it, and think that basically it means "you get tired a lot". Well, yes, there is a tremendous amount of constant overwhelming fatigue, which feels like you are trying to walk through molasses, but that is way beyond tired.


M.E. also includes:


Clinical Fibromyalgia

Sleep Disorders
Non-Restorative Sleep
Chemical Intolerance
Acquired Immune Deficiency
Cardiovascular Abnormalities
Post Exertional Neuroimmune Exhaustion (definition)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Dysautonomia or POTS Syndrome (definition)
Cognitive Disfunction and Impairment

and much more!!! Each sufferer has differing degrees of the sub-illnesses.


What I am pointing out here is that A) we are not often believed, even by medical personnel (it's not taught in med school), B) we are not often believed by friends and family and they drift away (they think we love the drama), C) we have lost everything from our earlier life, and D) there is very little compassion.


Another reason that we talk about it is because THERE IS NO ONE ADVOCATING FOR M.E. We have no recognized celebrity who speaks in public service ads on TV. That's part of the issue - when you have this disease, you cannot advocate for yourself - you can't travel, you can't make speeches, you can't spend days involved with some governmental sub-committee asking for research grants, you can't even speak eloquently on the telephone.  When we try, we suffer serious setbacks that may last for months, even years. So, there is the Catch-22. And yet the disease has been around for generations. Now, with the internet, there is an opportunity to press for help.


I do have non-sick friends who let me know that they are thinking about and praying for me. They send notes, say hi on Facebook (my connection to the outside world), interact with me as a friend who cares. I have a supportive husband (many of my M.E. friends don't) and an adult daughter who is very caring
. And I am very thankful.

If you have friends or family members who suffer from this or any other invisible illness, take some time to research and learn the basics about what they struggle with; take time to ponder what your life would be like if it were you. Really ponder it, imagining yourself going through each day approaching life through their skin. Then practice compassion, a muscle that gets stronger with use. The problem is that it takes effort to do this, to not forget them, to not get angry or irritated by their inability to live the way they used to. Accept the paradigm shift and then let them know you accept them as they are.


And most importantly, remember that when they express pain, sorrow, grief, sadness.... it's their way of screaming out to the world "I HATE BEING THIS WAY AND HAVING NO RECOURSE TO ANYTHING ELSE!!!  I WANT MY LIFE BACK!!!"


And you should really listen.


Friday, February 5, 2016

A Dialog is a Dialog, Not A Pep Talk!

In one of the art groups I'm in on Facebook, I tried to start a dialog or conversation or discussion, (take your pick) about a process in creating art. It happened to be an encaustic group, but no matter - I've run into this same problem in other groups. I said I was curious to know how other artists saw the need to have a smooth finished product. For those of you not involved in encaustic work, that means the surface should show no air bubbles or any other marks. One artist put it this way, "It is the Holy Grail of encaustics." Well, let me tell you, it will drive you crazy to try and attain that. Of course if you are doing a textured piece, the question is moot. But back to my problem.

The answers I got at first all were like a pep talk, the responders read into my post that I was cringing at the thought that my art was not perfect, that I needed some back pats, or I needed permission to make my art the way I wanted to. The responses were along the vein of:

It's your artwork, so its done when you say and feel it's done. You will know when a piece is done or not. Trust your instincts!

Stay away from encaustic if your aesthetic is looking for fine neat detail. Identify what it is you are looking for in this work.

Art is exactly what it is and as the artist if the finished product is what you want then it's perfect.

It's your work! Rejoice in it! And for God's sake, don't let someone else tell you how it should look!

Argh! OK, OK, I get all that, but it's not about me. Now lets talk about the question. I posted that I was not looking for a pep talk, just wanted to know other's views on the subject. One or two people finally got it and we exchanged a few sentences.

I don't get much chance to have discussions with other artists because of being housebound most days. And I crave being able to do that. I watch plenty of videos and have books about art mediums I am currently pursuing, but there's no give and take in those.You watch it, or you read it, and there you go - that's it. I try to engage people on my art page on Facebook, but it's been spotty. Maybe if I get enough blog followers, I can have a real dialogue!

Meanwhile, I'll wait and see if anyone else has a viewpoint or if this "dialogue" will die on the vine.

Live Your Life One Day At A Time!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Truth in Art, and Guernica

Recently I read a post by artist Donald Fox concerning truth in art. His post was mostly a series of questions, with no answers, rather I drew from it that it was an exercise designed to challenge the reader to think about his questions. His final line, "Responsibility lies on both sides of the easel." seemed more to pass on the burden of decision to others, rather than tackle any of the challenges himself. I reread the post and felt it more esoteric than anything else.

However, as I pondered whether this was simply a collection of questions to fill in space, I remembered the town of Guernica. Guernica was the center of Basque life in Spain, considered an important and historical town in its culture. The Basques had always disputed the right of Spain to incorporate them into their country, yet during the Spanish Civil War they had managed to maintain their distance from the conflict. Generalissimo Fransisco Franco determined that the time was right for him to prove that his power over them was absolute. His allies from Germany wanted to test their weaponry from the air and determine just how much terror they could work on helpless people, and Franco gave them carte blanche to do as they wished. This attack was known as a terror bombing, and the assault included 21 German bombers and 3 Italian bombers, all with payloads of different types of bombs. They chose 26 April, 1937 - market day - as the day of the assault. Market Day meant that the people from the surrounding areas would be in town, swelling the normal population from 7,000 to close to 10,000. The defenseless populace had no warning. The waves of bombing utterly destroyed the town and killed many in the process.

When artist Pablo Picasso heard the news he was horrified, and this horror drove him to paint a mural which has attracted world wide fame and the attention of art historians. Picasso had been commissioned to paint a mural in the 1937 World's Fair in Paris. Once he read of the atrocities of Guernica, he abandoned his original plans and instead immediately set about memorializing the tragedy of this terror attack. Driven by his heritage as a Spaniard, and his loathing of war, this mural has become a memorial of the Spanish Civil War worldwide. The painting has attracted much discussion and study, for the composition of the piece, the "hidden" images, the symbolism and the legacy of the mural. Interpretations of Guernica vary widely and and often contradict each other.



So what is the truth of the mural? When pressed to explain the elements in Guernica, Picasso said,
...this bull is a bull and this horse is a horse... If you give a meaning to certain things in my paintings it may be very true, but it is not my idea to give this meaning. What ideas and conclusions you have got I obtained too, but instinctively, unconsciously. I make the painting for the painting. I paint the objects for what they are.
But ever since Guernica was unveiled to the world, the truth of it has varied from source to source. Picasso had his truth, taken from his own experiences as a Spaniard, but in the years since its unveiling, discussions have abounded in what others see, which often go far beyond what Picasso had originally placed in his work of art. It has been the subject of books, thesis papers, scholarly discussions and even televised programs about art.

Going back to the post with which I began then, what is truth? Benjamin Franklin once wrote "Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear." This can apply easily to Guernica. For years, the death tolls reported were abnormally low for such utter destruction, yet as the years passed, governmental papers came to light, from Germany, Russia, Spain and other countries, which moved the death toll starkly upward, from about 124 people to close to 800. To understand the truth of such a painting as Guernica, one needs to delve into study of the matter for oneself. Obviously, the immediate truth is that Picasso sought to put down what he viewed as an atrocity. After that, the truth becomes what others interpret as they view the work, and understand the history.

So, I do not believe that it is an easy matter to find truth in art, and yet it can be the easiest way to illustrate truth. Art, then, has the ability to present itself as different things to different people. Perhaps Donald Fox's last statement holds more importance than any other in his post about truth in art.

As a postscript, I can recommend the book GuernicaA Novel by Dave Boling. It is extremely well researched and well written, and is a compelling read.

Enjoy your life one day at a time.
guernica

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Are You A Purist?

Ansel_Adams_and_camera

Ansel Adams (February 20, 1902 – April 22, 1984) is an American icon, one of the first to paint poetry in black and white photos. He is also the one many "purist" photographers point to when discussing their dislike of today's use of digital work in creating artistic photography. But if one spends time studying Adams life, it becomes harder to use him as a purist role model.

Adams pioneered the use of light as a main influence in his photographs, and experimented with all the technical equipment which was available to use during his day. He started with a small, poorly equipped darkroom in his parent's basement, but his wife's family, who had a business publishing photography, was one of the first to publish his prints and later, the business was passed on to him. He took full advantage of the darkroom, experimenting and producing much of the work which has made him well known to most Americans, and also pushed him onto the international arena.
It is easy to take a photograph, but it is harder to make a masterpiece in photography than in any other art medium. (Adams, Ansel (1985). Ansel Adams, an Autobiography. Boston: Little, Brown. ISBN 0-8212-1596-5.)
His legacy includes helping to elevate photography to an art comparable with painting and music, and equally capable of expressing emotion and beauty. (see above source) Adams used a variety of lenses to get different effects, but eventually rejected pictorialism for a more realistic approach which relied more heavily on sharp focus, heightened contrast, precise exposure, and darkroom craftsmanship. (Alinder, Mary (1996). Ansel Adams: A Biography. New York: Henry Holt and Company). In other words, he did in the darkroom what DSLR photographers can now do in the camera, as well as with computer programs such as Photoshop and Topaz.

The initial publication of Adam's Moonrise was in U.S. Camera 1943 annual, after being selected by the "photo judge" for U.S. CameraEdward Steichen.[52] This gave Moonrise an audience before its first formal exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1944. Over nearly 40 years, Adams re-interpreted the image, his most popular by far, using the latest darkroom equipment at his disposal, making over 1,300 unique prints, most in 16″ by 20″ format. ("5 prints of "Moonrise", 1941–1975". Andrew Smith Gallery.)

To an artistic photographer, then, Ansel Adams now becomes a role model. I started out many years ago learning rudimentary darkroom skills and now I use the techniques afforded me by today's technology. It's very hard for some people to be fluid enough to accept new ways of doing things, even to simply acknowledge that the new ways are an authentic tool. It's acceptable that many photographers like to continue in what they know and do best, and perhaps they do not wish to try it a different way. That is fine, each has their choice. But those who then go on to say that their choice is the only legitimate one has effectively portrayed themselves as lost to the past, and are insulting to those who choose to use a new way of expressing the poetic beauty from inside their spirit.

Enjoy your life one day at a time!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Lesson From A Patient Starling

(I have been thinking about Spring, as I view the snow from the past weekend's storm slowly melting, taking its time. The following post was originally written on May 20, 2015 and I thought it would make a nice repost to remind me that Spring is surely coming!)

For the past few days, I've been hearing a sound somewhat like a rusty hinge screeching a flat chord. That's the best way I could describe it! I looked outside my open bedroom window and watched as starlings were marching up and down in the grass and weeds of our front yard, busily searching for tasty cuisine. I was still puzzled as to what was going on with that sound and how it connected to what I was witnessing in the front. It wasn't until I was later at the kitchen window, watching several birds at the feeder that it all became clear. While I was standing there, a mother starling and three fully grown and dull colored juvenile starlings landed over several of the feeders hanging from the pole. The noise was being made by each of the juveniles, while mom instantly became busy picking up food and popping it into the nearest open beak. The juveniles jostled together as they rustled their wings repeatedly, screeching in that same key, and shoving one another aside so they could be the one to be fed next. Once in a while, one of the juveniles would peck at something himself, or fly down to inspect the bird bath, but those forays didn't last too long. Over the next several days, I have witnessed this again and again and marveled at the mother's patience. When mom flew off, they flew off, and when mom came back, there they were, barely a feather's space between them.

Starlings aren't the only birds which display this behavior - cardinals, finches, bluebirds and several other breeds do it as well. Cardinals seem to have the least amount of patience though, I've seen a female cardinal peck a juvenile on the head a time or two when she was tired of being bothered. Bluebird fledglings stay on a tree branch, and the parent will fly back and forth from the meal worm feeder, stuffing their beaks. They all start chirping when the parent heads toward them. The dad will continue this even while mom sits on a new brood. When that brood hatches and then fledges, the birds from the earlier brood will assist their parents in bringing food to the new fledglings.

It's a scene repeated each spring, and has been going on since creation. The mature birds help their offspring and their nurture hasn't ended at the nest. Most of us experience some of that from our parents, and even some mammals do as well. It's an encouragement to me to see these age old routines played out at this time of year. What a reassurance that whatever craziness is going on in parts of the world, the normal order of things has not been broken. And it reminds me to be willing to be helpful to not only family members, but to other artists, of whatever creativity they are into. We don't live alone as hermits, and even if I don't practice a certain kind of art, I can be encouraging to its creator. After all, my Creator encourages me daily from what I see and enjoy in nature.

Enjoy your life one day at a time!

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Little Nostalgia



I was going through some artwork that I had done a few years back and thought I'd share some of my favorites. The particular technique was a fairly easy one, but one that can be very expressive. You pick 3-4 colors of regular acrylic fluid paint, and then also put a glop of Golden OPEN Titanium White and Titan Buff on your palette or palette page. Using a palette knife, add the first colors, each in an area of the canvas, and let them overlap some. Then, immediately add a palette knife of the OPEN white and then some of the titan buff. Using your knife, drag it through the under colors. I liked putting the white at the top of the canvas, pulling it down, and the buff at the bottom and pulling up. I then used the knife to carve through the paint. Golden OPEN acrylic stays wet longer than the regular fluid acrylics and so you have more time to work with your paints. I've sold a few, but here are some I still have hanging in the house.

This is the first one I ever did, called Under The Ice of Venus.
I don't know if Venus has any ice, but that was the first thing I thought of!


This is The Coming Storm - you know how when the rain is beating against the window panes, and it distorts what's outside the window? That's what this made me think of!


The two above are on 12 x 12 wrapped canvases; the one below is on 18 x 24. Because of the designs I put into it, it made me think of a garden, and the artist famous for painting his gardens was Monet, so this is Monet's Garden. I think it's my husband's favorite!


Hope you enjoyed them! I think I'm going to have to make some more here soon.





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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Meditations on Behavior

It is of great sadness to me that a man or woman is often the last to accept and acknowledge the shortcomings which are part of their interaction in the world, and indeed dutifully denies it based on the uninformed good cheer with which they are greeted by a small crowd of well wishers. Thus they keep on the blinders and do not seek to face the painful truth which is seen by others of a more stable nature and could offer great counsel which could serve them well in the long run. He or she does not take pains to seek those who are more truthful in their assessments. Instead, the ego is stroked by the small cheering crowd and thus the collapse of even greater proportions face all of the remaining particulars in the not so distant future. Humility has no value in the life of such a person.
Unfortunately, this type of scenario plays out over and over again, in public settings, in small groups, in areas where a person is responsible for the well being of others. It will not be resolved by the will of man, but instead requires much prayer, self searching and the desire to see healing and demote yourself in the eyes of others for the good of all. But the truth still comes down to whether the person at the center of the situation is willing to humble themselves and see the truth of the direction that they are traveling. If the attitude is one of self serving, passive aggressive actions and manipulative behavior, and that person is at the center of the storm, only by being willing to face themselves, and pray for God's direction, not the accolades of the people around them, will they at last have the welfare of others at the forefront of their actions and a safe path of healing and growing can begin.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Metamorphosis Of A Photo

Today I thought I would show you the steps taken to make the final photo creation.

Here's the photo of a lovely coneflower (which, by the way, I did not take, it is a free stock photo. Free is good!)




 In this next picture, it has been cropped, bringing the selected image closer, and then changed to black and white.


This is a texture sheet; I added it to the photo in Photoshop Elements 13 (PSE13), blended it in the overlay mode with an opacity of 82%.


And this is the result. The writing shows, and the color from the texture adds interest to the photo. I could stop here, but I thought I would go a little further.


 Here I added a filter with Topaz, a wonderful plug in that works with PSE. I really like the resulting warmth and the immediate feeling that there is a story here.

Now the photo is ready to go into the Bellesouth Studio and will be available as prints, pillows, cards and phone cases!

Hope you enjoyed seeing how this was done!