Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thoughts on loss...

The platitudes that come to mind when someone dies are, to my mind, the fumbling attempts of human frailty to 'deal' with something that we are simply not equipped to handle.  Which is not to say that kind words are not appreciated at such a time -- but they really are just that:  kind words.  Sometimes, these kind words feel just as awkward to the recipient as they do to the giver, none the less, we feel we must say something.  But losing a loved one is not like losing your purse, or your dog, or your favorite scarf.  

The loss of someone once loved leaves an empty space in the heart that can linger for years, if not forever...  I feel like that is the hallmark of being an adult -- learning to live with/adjust to losses.  After all, the older we get the more regularly this occurs!  It can, and often does, send us seeking the great 'pause button' of Life -- how can one be expected to 'soldier on' when there is a gaping wound at one's center?

The Man and I jokingly thought our union somehow 'cursed' after enduring a significant loss each and every year for the first 7 years of our marriage.  Assuredly not the case -- for if it had been that the mere conjoining of our souls were the cause of these terrible 'holes' in our lives, then would we not still be receiving these annual blows?  No... the world keeps turning, we forge onward, and occasionally we have to stop and say "Good bye" to someone we love.  Such is the case, today...

My paternal grandmother died, today.  She turned 90, last November.  She was more than a little contrary, and could be downright cantankerous on a good day; but she was the last link we (my brother & I) had to our ancestral lineage.  In truth, I cannot imagine what it must have been like to be her (born in 1920):  having lived through so many decades, and seen so many things happen that younger generations so easily take for granted.  Her final years had been fraught with illness and medical concerns; and it was my 'official role' to serve as the ears when the latest doctor made the latest pronouncement(s) on what new changes must be assimilated.  For the past 15 years, I was regularly mistaken for a daughter (rather than a granddaughter) as I sat *notebook in hand* and recorded the new instructions, medications, appointments, etc...  Not always the most fun, to be sure, but we both rested better in knowing that we had a handle on things.  Imagine what it must be like to outlive all of your siblings, your husband, one of two children, and the majority of your closest friends!  ...even though I had ring-side seats for the better part of her losses, it still boggles my mind!

Today's photo captures an unfortunately rare, beaming smile -- taken on a family outing to the Outer Banks in 2007.  She is showing off a pair of earrings I made for her, after we visited a little bead shop around the corner from the rental house, in Avon, NC.  She referred often to this trip as her health failed.  She was so happy to have had this time with us (me, my husband, my brother, his wife, and their *then* 3 boys) in this 'palace by the sea'...  I hope that as she drifted away from us today that her thoughts returned to happier times, such as these -- surrounded by loved ones and the laughter of children.

Rest in peace, Sarah.  We will miss you; but we are grateful to know that you are once again with your love, family and friends, and no longer in pain!

Onward & Upward!
 - pla

Words of wisdom for today (Sarah's favorite Bible passage):
"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.  Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it:
and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul:
the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: 
the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever:
the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: 
sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
 Moreover by them is thy servant warned:
and in keeping of them there is great reward.
 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.
 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me:
then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight,
O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer."
                                                          - Psalm 19 (from the King James Version)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Before the Snow and Ice

...there was a chilly, but glorious Friday!  It was the perfect wrap up to a busy and creative week - not to mention, an artful outing I had been looking forward to since last year.  *granted, 'last year' wasn't all that long ago - but it adequately expresses my excitement!*  The Quilting and Fiber Art Marketplace show returned to Sanford, NC on Friday and Saturday (January 7 - 8), last weekend; and "kids in the candy store" hardly describes how my artsy buds and I felt about attending the show!  The sheer profundity of creative tools and treats was enough to boggle the mind (in addition to wrecking havoc on the wallet)!  Obviously, last years inaugural show was a successful one; because this years line up of vendors extended all the way into the lobby of the Dennis A Wicker Civic Center!  It was quite a sight, indeed...  Everything from a rainbow of delectable fabrics and vintage buttons to patterns, kits, and eye candy galore - there was much goodness to behold.  The folks who put on this show do a fabulous job! The 'sister' show takes place in Statesville, NC at the end of this month (details available at the above link).

My own Floral Fragment
As if all of that were not enough...  There was also an evening of mini-workshops with Jane Powell and Louise McClure of Random Arts in Saluda, NC!  A group of Guild buddies and I were ready and willing students as we enjoyed both Louise's Floral Fragments and Jane's Tattered Mosaic classes. 

In Floral Fragments, we transformed Lutradur with a heat gun; after adding elements of text/pattern with Staz-On ink(s), and colors with water soluble mediums (water color paint, inks, pastels).  I decided to try my Graphtint pencils, and was very pleased with the outcome -- as I normally prefer more muted/earthy colors.  It looks much brighter in the photo, but just as lovely ;-)  This piece (a pin) is anchored with a floral button that started out plain, white.  After a little shmooshing of alcohol ink, it married perfectly to my delicately colored petals!  The applications for this technique are endless!  I can see these lovelies on special greeting cards, adorning a book cover, or tucked into the corner of a shadow box -- and that's just for starters...  Needless to say:  yep, I bought some Lutradur at the show!

My own Tattered Mosaic
In the Tattered Mosaic class, we blocked off our substrates with a simple bird shape (or shapes - we had pairs as well as birds with biddies among our 'flock'), and then created torn paper landscapes.  With an eye toward contrast, and using the torn elements to add visual depth, we finished the background before turning our attention to the feathered friends.  Most of Jane's samples looked much more 'painterly' than my first attempt; but I am fairly pleased with how my little tweeters turned out.  I can see where I could have improved it, right out of the gate, had I arranged my paper tesserae more carefully.  I am most pleased with the background; but my birds seem a bit 'flat,' to me...  Interestingly, the technique for week 2 in the Visual Journal Online Workshop (VJOW) may be just what I need to get this where I want it to be (?)  We shall see...  This is another technique that has multiple applications *in my labyrinthian, Swiss cheese mind*; and I look forward to playing around with it, some more.

Speaking of the VJOW, my happy little birds will be making an appearance as late additions to my workshop journal *sweet!*  I had this piece (12 x 12 in.) hopping about on the scanner, last night; and was able to capture some bits that I think will lend themselves nicely to the project!  *bonus!*  It will also put me more 'in line' with the task at hand, er, rather the class as described, as I will actually be reworking my own work

As noted in the wintry wording of this post's title, all of this fabulous, friend-filled fun took place before my little corner of the sweet, sunny south got socked by the second winter storm of the season!  There were snow flurries on my way home from Sanford on Saturday; but the big event was Monday!  We were graced with between 6 and 7 inches of snow over the course of Sunday night through Monday evening...  This, after a late Christmas dusting of closer to 10 inches!  Late last night tho', things turned ugly -- with sleet and freezing rain for a few hours, along with temperatures in the mid 20s *brrrrrrr*  SO...  now we have the scary, lingering, daytime slush, nighttime ice slicks to deal with; and the temperatures are not supposed to go above 40 until the end of the week. *ugh!*  The Man has already got cabin fever!  Here's a little peek at how things looked, yesterday around 10:15am -- enjoy ;-)  *note:  I did okay pointing out the driveway; but lost my coordination when it came to the road beyond - my finger is actually pointing beyond the road beyond, and into Henry's field - lol!*

Onward & Upward!
 - pla

Words of wisdom for today:
"You cannot use up creativity.
The more you use,
the more you have."
                     - Maya Angelou

Photo Notes:  
   Taken using Panasonic Lumix (DMC-ZS1) - set to natural light, slow sync/red eye flash
   Video:  RCA Small Wonder (EZ1000R) - set to WebQ

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Game is Afoot!

SO...  I seem to be onto to something, here!  Make a blog, post twice (so far) in the first week, get @ss loads of real-life work done, have a great weekend to look forward to, *more on that, later* AND get some pretty rockin' creative work done, to boot!  Thankyou, thankyouverymuch... {whoa, girlie! - a little punch-drunk on Little Friday, ain't ya?}  Ahhh, but I digress!  In addition to all of this 'Life is Good bounty,' I am taking my first online art class *w00t!*

Week #1 - Spread 1 of 5
Sponsored by Strathmore Artist Papers, and featuring their new Visual Journals, the workshop series started on 01/01/11, *pretty cool in and of itself* and consists of a weekly video accompanied by .PDF worksheets.  You can work at your own pace, choose to follow along on some great conversations in the forum(s) -- AND *apres Christmas bonus*  it's all FREE!  You can check it out, here:  Strathmore Artist Papers.  You will need to register, before you can get started.  There are three separate workshops in the series (being led by Pam Carriker, Linda Blinn, and Roz Stendahl).  It's not too late to join in, as this is only the end of the first week!

Week #1 - Spread 2 of 5 (B-ing Me)
I have completed the 'assignment' for this week, and am pretty pleased with the results!  While the class (Recycled Journal Pages) does not readily apply to the work I have done in the past couple of years, I am enjoying working on composition and finding images, patterns, and text that play well with one another.  However, since the class called for photocopies of previous journal pages, I was starting off running behind -- this is the only art journaling this girl has ever done!  I am pleased, though, with the 'bases' that I will be working on going into week 2.  In lieu of photocopied images, I opted for magazine images/text *God bless Oprah!* and security envelopes (from my vast collection of same).  I figure recycling is recycling, right?

Week #1 - Spread 3 of 5
Spread One speaks to me visually, as is; so I have a hard time knowing 'where it is going;' but I look forward to learning new techniques in the coming weeks to further develop a visual style that I like...  Spread Two really grew out of the 'wannabe' Super Hero image.  This one speaks to my own efforts to Be more of ME in the coming year.  The lettering was stenciled in permanent, waterproof ink to stand up to the painting and embellishment to follow.  As a nod to the theme of the class, Spread Three ties together the 'green thing' with a lovely lass in a floral frock and "recycled" security envelope wings.  The facing page utilizes strips from the same envelope:  perfectly spaced for both the journaling to come, and to camouflage the bleeding of the ink on the previous spread *nifty, eh?*  Spread Four just sort of  'happened' - it is my favorite of them all, right now!  Then, there is my 'problem child', Spread Five.  I sort of think I was just being stubborn -- I mean, I liked the images...  so, I put them in there; but they don't really have any 'supporting characters' right now.  However, I have faith that something inspired will happen ;-)  I can see options; but not any that appear to correspond to the syllabus - ha!  In my minds eye, it yearns to be enrobed in some cozy Zentagles!  We shall see -- this journey has only just begun...
Week # 1 - Spread 4 of 5 (Time Marches On)

The biggest challenge for me in working this way is STOPPING - lol!  I know, I know...  I don't have to go step by step, and do it all in the framework of the Workshop; but I am trying to develop 'discipline' -- and the way I figure it, setting aside/finding the time to do it is as big a part of it as finding the patience to learn what is being taught in the manner that it is provided.  *ooh, sometimes I sound like such a 'grown up!'*  Actually, that is one of the reasons I did more than one or two pieces for this first week...  I wanted the option of not altering something if I chose to work it a different way - knowwhatimean?  So, my creative journey for the year seems well underway.  In addition to this online series of workshops, I am taking *and teaching!* classes throughout the year to sate the muses that keep me up at night!  

What are YOU doing that feeds your spirit, this year?  Are you learning something new, that has always interested you?  Are you returning to a pleasant past-time that has gone by the wayside?  I have joined the 'anti resolution' movement -- it seems self defeating to make grandiose promises to ones self on the eve of a new year...  I don't even think that most of us need fundamental overhauling - perhaps just more awareness (?)  I think that my friend Michelle is right:  we don't need to change who we are, we just need to be more of who we are.  Personally, I love this idea!  

 Onward & Upward!
 - pla

Words of wisdom for today:
"Anyone who has never made a mistake
has never tried anything new."
                     - Albert Einstein

Photo Notes:  
   Taken using Panasonic Lumix (DMC-ZS1) - set to natural light, slow sync/red eye flash

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hello World! this vast New Year gets underway, I have decided to undertake the immense challenge of establishing/maintaining a blog.  "Why would you do such a thing?" you might ask.  Well, gentle reader, for the past couple of years, I have been encouraged by several friends to embark on such a journey; but I couldn't really justify taking up the space (?)  I mean, really!?!  Does the Universe need another blog and/or blogger?  More practically, I suppose I should ask:  Do I really need another commitment?  Besides, I don't know the first thing about all the technicalities of doin' the blog thing ~>:-?

Tea steeping in my beautiful Christmas gift from The Girl!

SO...  I did what one does when one needs to ponder a largish, weighty matter such as this.  I  brewed a cup of tea, and played the age old favorite for decision making dilemmas:  a game of Pros & Cons!  A calming cup o' Chamomile at hand, I more closely examined the pluses and minuses of my foray into Blogland...  Of interest, according to Yogi, on this tea bag:  "A relaxed mind is a creative mind."  Rather serendipitous, wouldn't you say?  I have taken it as a positive sign ;-)  *'cause I tend to be an absurdly optimistic git!*

Playing for the Pros:
  • it's a great way to share the various and sundry happenings and adventures in my life (especially since my mom is totally Anti Face Book) *hi, mom!*
  • it's 'my thing,' so the rules would be my own, too -- no sweatin' the small stuff, here...
  • it could be a stepping stone to the more disciplined use of my time -- if I really want to make it work, I will have to develop the habit to make it be so *sounds simple enough - ha!*
Playing for the Cons:
  • I tend to write the way that I talk...  I have no desire to invoke the ire of the Grammar Police  (however, I suppose I could just refer them to the second item for the Pros - lol!)
  • What if nobody reads it?  Well, I happen to think that if a tree falls in the forest it makes noise whether anyone is there to hear it or not...  Clear as mud, right?
  • What if, what if, what if...  The Cons are often the most negative SOBs around; but I have decided that I am not playing their game, this year!
O.K. - so I am better at justification than at accurately listing Pros & Cons!  Obviously, I just enjoyed playing the wordsmith while sipping some ever so lovely honeyed tea.  At any rate...  that brings us here, dear ones!  Here, in the glorious present!  Here, in this moment, this seems like a good and fine thing to do!  I see this as my own little repository of journeys undertaken, successes achieved, humorous asides, and... well, and the subtitle alludes, whatever speaks to me on any given day.  I look forward to all that comes with and from this latest adventure!  Would you like to come along with me?

A note on the title for this post:  Wonder Hubby (a.k.a. Resident Genius) is, among other things, a programming guru.  His expertise in this field is what keeps us both gainfully employed ;-)  Recently, he has embarked on his own journey of discovery by delving into the mysteries of a new *to him* programming language:  C#.  From this I have learned that the first piece of code one writes when working with a new language is always called "Hello World."  As this whole blog thing represents a new 'language' for me, it seemed only appropriate to dub my inaugural post thusly!

Onward & Upward!
 - pla

Words of wisdom for today:
"I don't know the secret to success, 
but the key to certain failure
is trying to please everyone."
                     - Bill Cosby

Photo Notes:  
   Taken using Retro Camera app for ANDROID by Urbian - Barbi camera, no flash