There’s concern over my toenails. It’s not made the nightly news yet, but there’s a palpable unrest. Gratefully, the problem isn’t fungal. Scary, scaly green babbling blobs with pencil thin legs are not lurking between my toes or under my nails. But, there has been and continues to be a move for color change.

 Not a manicure kind of gal, and not to forsake all girly-girl things, my intrinsic tom boy does go for late Spring and Summer pedicures. Pink, however, is definitely out. I abandoned doing anything that color decades ago. Red’s aren’t me either. My predilection has been for satisfying neutral and earth tones. Taupes. Brownish reds.

 My first pedicurist eventually gave up suggesting color change. I doubt she’d met stubborn the likes of me before. Unlike predictable me, her toes and fingernails could don any conceivable color from the vast rainbow range of nail paints available.

Eventually I resorted to buying and bringing my own polish every appointment lest the choices available to me at the salon be reduced to offshoots of only pink and red, a direction it was approaching.

 The bring-my-own strategy served me well. It was insurance while traveling on lengthy business trips in the summer. I could amend chips and wear offs easily even if not professionally. Steve’s told me no one looks at your feet, but I do. Open toed shoes and chips on painted toenails don’t mix. It borders on egregiousness.

 Somewhat of a surprise even to me, I did go off on a tangent once. I saw a khaki green color in the OPI brand of nail enamel and tried it. I’d often been told green looks good on me. My pedicurist didn’t seem overly awed by my bold move, so I admit to some smugness when it garnered a remark from a stranger who, out of the blue, told me I was daring to wear such a color. Imagine, me, daring, when all I sensed ran through my pedicurist’s mind was a big, bad, boring.

Then, one remarkable day, while waiting for my hair appointment at a different salon, a cosmic event knocked me out of my neutral, earthy-toned orbit. A young woman came in and sat next to me. She had the most stunning toenail color I’d ever laid eyes on. It was simple. It was gorgeous. It was basic black. Sure, I’d seen black polish on fingernails before, on young women who’d totally bought into the gothic glam thing. I’d never translated that the same black on fingernails that partnered with the ghoulish everything else, could look so classy on toenails. A double perk for me was the consistency in it matching all the black I wear.  Once I’d confirmed what I thought the color was, I’ve worn OPI Black Onyx ever since. It’s going on three years.

 Still, the movement for change perseveres. My current pedicurist last week said, in her heavy Chinese, staccato delivered English, “You need new culla.” This, despite the fact that of all the public restrooms I’ve been in or public anywheres, I’ve never seen another set of toenails painted black. I know I can’t be the only one to check out toes on the either side of the stall walls, admittedly or not, unless you’re someone that has personal cell phone conversations in a public place while doing your personal thing. Then, chances are you probably wouldn’t notice toenail color.

 So what is all the fuss about me needing to change toenail colors? Why is it there’s more concern for my toenail color than, let’s say, how my vehicle’s running? My inner well being?  Whether I’m getting a good night’s sleep? Am I happy with the state of the world? My loyalty to my toenail color is a testimony to my loyalty as a person. It reflects stability and consistency. Admirable traits. Further more, my study reflects empirical data that strongly suggests myself and only one other person are using black polish on toenails. How is it possible pedicurists can possibly be bored with me when just about everyone else is donning the ubiquitous variations on reds and pinks? It’s a head scratcher.

Despite all of this, I admit to a recent shift in wind direction, a slight tilt towards a discovery that may be eroding my resolve. While getting my pedicure last week, the woman next to me was getting a light, almost battleship gray painted on her toes. It turned my head. It was daring and neutral and new to me. It looked fabulous on her brown phalanges. I stared and considered how good it would come off on my caucasian toes, unsure it would look as divine. A slight swoon over the color escaped my lips. I said to Mei, my pedicurist, that maybe next time I’d give the gray a whirl. It wouldn’t be a huge stray. Gray, after all, is just black with a little white thrown in.

 Mei merely smiled. Or, was she gritting her teeth through closed lips, envisioning the potential of a long-playing future of gray, instead of black, with me?

 Consistency is grossly under appreciated.

pen sketch of four crows on a limb by carol a. watson

The crows and me, we rely on each other. We’ve created a daily habit. I lay food on the murders’ rock. Good stuff like chicken and pork fat, bones, bread and food gone amuck. They recognize and acknowledge me with their non-melodic caw, caw, caws, but only from afar, even after our countless ritualistic mornings. I’m talking a commitment of years and in all kinds of weather. They glide down from their lookout limbs onto crow rock to grab and go only after I’ve stepped back into the house. Where’s the trust? I am the face and hands that feed them time and again. I thought they were intelligent and could figure out by now I’m not a threat. I’m friend, not foe. Maybe their reluctance to get physically closer to me is that they’re introverts – not so outwardly friendly and quick to warm up.

a crow gliding down from tree top with wings spread

Still, we’re both satisfied. I’m continually entertained by their hierarchical antics and crow hops, my own feeble attempts to crow like them, and they get free chow, buffet style. My initials match their call. I’ve allowed this zoomorphic stretch of a bond  to indenture myself to supplementing their diet. Part of their appeal is also their black attire. Another similarity we share. We both love black – goes with everything. Today, in fact, I got my first pedicure of the season. Polish color – Onyx.

Regardless, I have come to learn that they are stingy. Steve shared an article with me once about crows in Seattle. They leave gifts for the human that feeds them. Not enviable gifts, but gifts nonetheless. Oddly, the story was covered by the BBC. Gabi Mann was eight in 2015 when the story was published. She began feeding the crows that showed up in her backyard everyday. In turn, the crows started leaving her gifts.

Crows are members of the Corvidae or Corvid family and have the largest cerebral hemisphere of all birds. They’re ubiquitous, too. I’ve read that they’re present on all continents but South America and Antarctica.  Scientific studies indicate that crows recognize faces, differentiating between good and bad people. I don’t think they can discern a rotten-to-the-core evil person, the likes of Snidely Whiplash, but they know who’s good and bad relative to them and how they’re treated. They can even pass that information onto other crows. PBS had a compelling Nature program in 2010 titled A Murder of Crows. It made evident their recognition abilities. 

The crows in Gabi’s world in Seattle obviously view her as a really good person. The crows she feeds have left her all manner of gifts – a blue lego piece, black button, piece of brown sea glass, a yellow bead, a broken light bulb and the occasional dead baby bird or rotten crab claw.  Like I said, not necessarily enviable gifts, but gifts nonetheless. Gabi’s huge collection of crow given gratuities makes me envious. I get zilch presents left behind.

Fortunately, I can rationalize with the best. I’ve concluded that city crows have an immense wealth of potential gifts available to give their human feeders. We live in the woods, in the country. Our crows don’t think I’d recognize that a twig or rock that they’d drop on crow rock was a token of thanks, just woodland debris, so I get zip. Rationale aside, there’s plenty of trash along the country road sides they could choose from. If a drinking straw, Micky D’s french fry bag or empty nip of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey showed up on the rock, I’d know it was from them. I’d recognize their effort and cherish their appreciation. It would qualify as a community good deed, keeping America beautiful. I’m not holding my breath.

I’ve had to accept that their presence, in lieu of their lack of presents, is enough. They can be counted on to show up and entertain, like when they take a piece of bread and deliberately dunk it in the bird bath, or cautiously approach a chicken wing bone, upper body scrunched down like they’re sneaking up it, a couple hops sideways then a quick lunge at it just in case it’s alive.

Years ago I did a few quick sketches of them in an art journal thinking I might create a series sometime of these comical and intelligent crows. The series hasn’t yet materialized just like any gifts left on crow rock. While the crows continue to eat, to date I’ve merely “eaten crow” on my intention.

Life isn’t lived in a straight line or at an even pace. My life with creativity is no exception. Hiccups happen and send it off on tangents.  The occasional yawn spawned by a slump seemingly stops its forward motion. Divergence off the “beaten path” does have merit, however, as does pausing to reconnoiter. Frost knew the value of “taking the road less traveled” – both can offer new perspective.

I’ve been absent from posting in my blog for awhile. Hiccups veered me in other directions and yawns from repetition caused me to rethink how I could feel more excited about what and how I share.

A best friend with paper and pen since I can remember, I took to conversing with myself about my hiccups and yawns via journaling. It’s the best way I know to sort out all that rattles around in my head and heart. As English poet Cecil-Day Lewis said, “We do not write in order to be understood, we write in order to understand.” Despite the handful of authentic friends I hold dear in my life, and the best friend I’m blessed to have in my husband, the blank page is still my most open and unbiased ear.

Through my written chats with my self, I sorted out what I believe I want to share with you in the future. I’d like to expand the topics I write about, share more of my previous writings as well as current musings, perhaps a poem now and again – mine and other’s, exploring what it means at least to me. Make the posts a little less formal and be o.k. with shorter posts on occasion. No worries, there’ll still be the visually creative posts too. Creativity isn’t only about art or decor though. It’s how we deal with all aspects of life. Often we just don’t recognize how we live or respond to life as being creative. Yet everything we do creates the world in which we live individually and is often more broad reaching than just our own little world. Ripples. Perhaps My Life With Creativity posts will bring that awareness more to the forefront and offer food for thought or implementation.

Since I’ve divulged my close rapport with paper and pen, I want to share some of the places we hang out. Decades ago when I first started journaling I used steno pads or multi-subject spiral notebooks. I love lined paper for writing. The neat and tidy in me likes the way it keeps my written lines orderly. I’ve tried journaling on blank pages but it doesn’t feel right to me except for visual art. Those notebooks were lined, but plain and unexciting. Somewhere along the way I bought a fancier journal with a suede-like cover. Immediately my writings seemed more precious, imbued with more importance in that attractive book. Probably the clothes-make-the-man effect.

It was at a Become Your Own Muse workshop in 2001 that I learned how to transform those ugly duckling, hard covered, lined composition books with the squiggly patterned covers into personal journals of utter beauty. In the workshop we poured through stacks of magazines tearing out copious pages with pictures or words that spoke to us individually. Then we cut out the gems from those pages and collaged away to totally transform the covers and spine. I was smitten. It was the beginning of a new love affair. My thoughts could now be written in books covered with visual depictions that inspired and defined me.

These journals are the places I most frequently hang out to reflect, sort out feelings and offer gratitude. Occasionally a poem or delectable piece of prose is born in them. I also have one dedicated solely to writing about finding the sacred in the ordinary – a suggestion from Sarah Ban Breathnach’s, Simple Abundance, and another dedicated for musings about my creativity and visual art. I suppose all these journals are like specialty shops, each one offering, or in this case receiving, unique insights. The visual beauty of all of them makes my happy heart sing. (more…)

DogDaysofAugustHeader905It’s August and the doggone heat is on full blast in Connecticut. We had a record number of days in July over 90º and August apparently wants to follow suit with temps closer to 100º. Will somebody, please, call off the contest!

I’m breaking a daily sweat yet go to the gym only three mornings a week. The upside – my pores are fully flushed out. But, the heat does put a damper on my enthusiasm for doing some things and the perspiration is no help.

Therefore, this post will be short in keeping with summer that always seems more fleeting than it ought to be and in honor of summer simplicity. I’m sharing the fruits of some of my past creative endeavors in a predominantly visual commentary. The focus is on a couple of spaces that we get to enjoy more in the summer, our deck and backyard containers.

May all of you enjoy the rest of your summer and make fun memories that will keep you warm this winter. See you in September!

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My container plantings are at their peek of beauty in August.

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In my last blog post I showed you all the Magic Light Whoopla that adorns our abode. Since then I acquired a couple funky, vintage wire horse muzzles from The Collected Cottage in Noank, and found new purpose for a wire cornucopia I’ve had for years. A girl just can’t have too much illumination ambiance. And, they provide it all year long. (more…)

BlogHeader685It’s two weeks since the Summer solstice occurred, a revered event even if not a Hallmark occasion. The longest light day of the year signifies the astronomical beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere. For me, it’s more about the amount of light the summer solstice provides. The more the better.Summer-Solstice-Stonehenge-1024x380

That doesn’t mean I don’t like night, or Fall or Winter. Oh contraire, since it is at night and the longer darkness that belongs to the latter seasons of the year that more “magic” light is possible. Because the dark lasts longer, so can the magic light which like magic dust, has the power to create enchantment.

My penchant for embracing the alchemy of light must have began as an adolescent. RaisedVotive Devotional Candle Stand a Catholic, I remember as a young girl being drawn like a moth to the devotional candles at the front and either side of the altar. All that twinkling mesmerized and invited me to have a reason to pay money to light an unlit candle or two on the votive devotional candle stand. The twinkling radiated from rows of red votive candle holders on a metal rack, the rows ascended and slanted upward like stadium seats. I slipped the coins into the slit in the money box that was attached below the stack of candles.Tapers The lighter, a long wooden skewer-like stick, called a lighting taper stick, was stored with one end buried in a container of sand. The taper stick was used to borrow a bit of flame from a lit votive to light the ones I chose. It was ritualistic, made me feel privileged and was fairly potent magic to my younger self.

My adherence to the rigors and rules of Catholicism stopped long ago, but the spell of the lit red devotional candles has endured. No matter the season, no matter the room and for the pure reason of joy, virtually every night our home is aglow with the magic of enchanting light.AboveBathoomGrouping The sources of light are varied. There are paraffin votive and pillar candles lit with a traditional match, battery operated waxed, flickering LED candles lit by the flip of a switch, miniature lights on strings – some with purple chili pepper covers – tinier still lights on thin copper wires,SideFireplace-SmMoravian can lights that cast a wash of illumination upwards onto the wall, string lights with decorative shades, 26-point Moravian star lights, a plug-in table light for accent lighting, not to mention favorite utilitarian table lamps – and that’s on the inside of the house. In winter the inside also gets adorned with several strings of electrified luminaria lights, à la the more traditional candle in the lunch bag lights prevalent in the SouthWest at Christmastime.Christmas Dining Area 276 (more…)

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Thought begets clarity or, at the least, holds the potential. Philosophers are lauded as masters of thinking because they delve deeply into deciphering the meaning of life and other profound puzzlements. After great consternation, Descartes, for example, determined, “Cogito ergo sum,” that he actually did exist because he had thoughts. The ThinkerAnd artist Auguste Rodin sculpted what has become one of the most recognized statues that symbolizes philosophy, “The Thinker.”

Credit for more modern references on the value of thought go to the Moody Blues for their song, “The Best Way To Travel.” The lyrics indicating that thinking is the best way, and most economical I might add. And let’s not forget that popular, optimistic story about hard work by Watty Piper, The Little Engine That Could that made famous the mantra, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” Of course there’s also the nourishing stuff for consideration, food for thought, low-cal fodder for the gray cells.the-little-engine-that-could Even I have been touted by some as being a particularly thoughtful person. But, because of the duality of things, that attribute has its less-remarkable side. Sometimes I think I think too much about things I have no control over or that aren’t worth my time.

When it comes to my art and creative expression however, my visual voice comes from my heart and gut, not my head or my thoughts. It’s how I’ve always approached my art yet, as I tend to do, I’ve sometimes questioned if I was a legit artist because of my lack of thoughtful approach.

As with all endeavors, there are usually diverse camps of opinion on method – how a subject should be embarked upon and what makes it true and authentic. Some artists give great thought to their body of work prior to the doing. Hours and days are spent contemplating the meaning or reason for what is about to be expressed visually. Notes are taken and pondering is profound. Because of the intensity of thought before the work, the work becomes analogous to a visual thesis, seemingly imbued with a greater sense of meaning and import.

Approach, however, depends on why an artist is creating the art. I undertake my work on a substantially more visceral level, an instinctual response to something that triggers my need to further connect to it or visually express my feeling or connection to the stimuli. At times I’ve felt conflicted that I’m not one to give a great amount of cognitive energy, or any, for that matter, to the path I take to my art since the ponderers would have me believe it lessens the value of what I do artistically.Myersbriggs My approach, however, seems to be in keeping with my Myers-Briggs Personality Type Profile. I’m an ESFJ.

I learned of Myers-Briggs years ago when working in the corporate world. It’s uncanny how answering the questions as accurately as possible results in a spot-on assessment of one’s traits. Skipping a lengthy discourse on Myers-Briggs, I’ll just say that the “F” in my profile trait is the initial for “Feelers” as opposed to the opposite trait, “T”Myers-Briggs-Type-Indicator for “Thinkers”.

Most people possess various levels of all eight Myers-Briggs traits. The more predominant  trait of each of the four pairs of opposing attributes then makes up one of the 16 distinctive personality types, mine being ESFJ. Thinkers tend to make decisions using logical analysis, while Feelers tend to be sensitive and make decisions on their own personal values. Or, in my interpretation, Feelers make decisions based on their intuition and their, well, feelings!

As a Feeler, I believe there are no coincidences, which accounts for why, one day early last year in Books-A-Million, I was drawn to take a gander at the magazine racks and the cover of a Western Art & Architecture magazine caught my attention.Magazine Cover 291 It was the February/March 2015 issue. Although familiar with Cowboys & Indians magazine, having a subscription to it for over a decade, this publication was unfamiliar. My love affair with the West quickly had me thumbing through it. Flashes of images from Pages 82 – 86 gave me abrupt pause. It was specifically the image on the bottom of Page 83, Gino Hollander’s sketch book that arrested my skimming. This artist rough sketched in a style much as I did. Another image showed he painted horses, too. I needed to know more and paid the eight dollars to bring Gino home so I could get to know him better

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Gino & My Sketching 288Cozying up with the large, glossy magazine, I read about this 90 year old artist originally from New Jersey. Right from the first paragraph of the article written by Marla Cimini, I knew I had found a kindred spirit. “According to American artist Gino Hollander, the act of thinking is completely overrated when it comes to creativity. ‘Painting is not a thinking affair. It’s rather a sense of doing. I simply work instinctively and intuitively.’”Gino Article 290 (more…)

Header0883“The process” is a big buzz term in the art world. Like so many specialty areas, jargon specific and often unique to those endeavors – nomenclature – is the language used to describe activities within those disciplines. Usually you can find a corollary word or words in another field or every day speech that means the same thing. As with the medical profession’s term “stat” (from the Latin, statim), in layman’s lingo it means “now” or “quick”.

PolarVortexIn meteorology, “Polar Vortex” really means freakin’ frigid – less sophisticated, perhaps, but to the point and just as accurate. Somehow, language in vocational and specialty fields has evolved to have their own way of communicating, conveying a sense of exclusion and not unlike having to know a secret handshake to enter or, in terms of language, understand. I continually find it fascinating the myriad ways we have to describe the same thing.

Back to the world of art, admirers and collectors of works often only see the final product of the creative effort an artist makes. They’re unaware of the thought, analysis, preparation and steps involved in the process, or, once again, in layman’s lingo, the how-to of the artwork’s conception, birthing and growth to maturity.

People who view my art have consistently expressed a fascination about how I create my paper collage images, the majority of which are horses. BlkJack-Sporty-Dakota I do my best to verbally describe the how-to but it doesn’t thoroughly convey the entire number of steps involved in the process. It is labor intensive, almost tedious, yet, rewarding. There’s something about the hands-on manipulation of the paper – the tactile, intuitive determinations on what painted papers to use and where, and the physical adhering of the paper to canvas I find compelling.

The inspiration for my foray into creating images by collaging painted papers was three-fold. First of all, attempts to teach myself to paint horses strictly using acrylic paint and a brush weren’t meeting my expectations. But I DID know I loved theArtists Mag hands-on technique of creating abstract paper collaged art. Then, one day, I stumbled across an old article from an issue of Artists Magazine I had saved that featured a woman who created a cheetah image using paper collage. Her technique intrigued me. Re-finding the article coupled with my disappointment over my lack-luster success at brush painting a horse image propelled me to do my own style of paper collage. It was worth a shot. The Great Grey was my first attempt. I was pleased, got a “WOW” from Steve when he saw it and was pumped to do more. 

TheGreatGrey

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Although I’ve done several feather mixed media pieces a similar way I’ve done my equine paper collages, to date I’ve only done one canine paper collage.Two Feather Collages 3056 Several years ago I decided to do a piece of art as a gift for a dear friend who had a special soul mate, her Golden Retriever, Lucy. Lucy had graced Elaine’s life since Elaine had rescued her at 7 months old. Lucy came with a skin condition that, through Elaine’s efforts, was successfully healed. At the age of nine, Lucy developed lymphoma which cut her life shorter than expected.

Before Lucy died, I had determined to do a piece of art for Elaine to honor both the bond that Elaine and Lucy shared as well as the friendship that I shared with Elaine.  Elaine, after all, had been the facilitator of a one-night creative workshop that was the catalyst for my artistic beginnings. As I started the process for Elaine’s Lucy, I was sure to document the how-to steps. (more…)

CW's Belt for Blog Header 2245“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you was?” asked major league pitcher Satchel Paige. I like his query, even with its murdered conjugation, because it evokes another intriguing question – who would you be if you didn’t know who you were?

Too often I hear people bemoaning their age wishing they were 20, 30 or 40 again. Why, I wonder? Is it being younger they miss or what they did when they were younger they long for again? Maybe it’s what they felt they were capable of at that age, or perhaps, it’s a longing for an opportunity to have a do-over with their life, a chance to reverse some regrets.

Once upon a time, I happened on a quote by Madeleine L’Engle, writer of young-adult QuoteJournal2209fiction. It was such a simple, wise thought I recorded it in my Quote Journal for safe keeping and future reference. L’Engle said, “The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve ever been.” What an intriguing, gratifying and legitimate concept, I thought.

I latched onto her notion with its brilliance and inherent carte blanche to be whatever age I wanted to be, whenever I wanted. Her angle offered a free ticket to ride back to be whomever we were when we were younger, to pick up where we may have abandoned dreams or never bothered reaching for them at all but with the collective experience and knowledge of the sum of all our ages. We could make believe we were that young again because we were! Nothing has been lost after all.

As a child I was read and reread and then myself read and reread a Goldilocksbook of familiar nursery rhymes. From Goldie Locks and the Three Bears, Jack and WomanwholivedinashoeJill, The Old Woman Who Lived In a Shoe, The Three Pigs to Mr. Nobody who supposedly did the mischief in everybody’s house. Mr. Nobody had to have gargantuan shoulders. He was the fall guy for all the mishaps perpetrated by those too cowardly to confess.


Even today as a significantly ripened adult, I still invoke lines from those nursery rhymes. The kid in me finds comfort in recalling and quotiong some of those tales. When we had our business and employees, occasionally something wasn’t assembled or packaged correctly. When trying to find out who was responsible in an attempt to curb it from recurring, it was baffling how often no one would take “credit”. I concluded it must have been Mr. Nobody who obviously was still up to his mischievous ways. In a similar vein of recalling those nursery rhymes, I find it uber satisfying when our home grocery shelves are restocked and firewood stack replenished, bursting with plentitude. I often exclaim with great pleasure that Mother Hubbard’s cupboards are full once again. It makes me feel extremely content and that all’s well with the world, just as the nursery rhymes did for me as a kid.Combo Wood&Cupboard

It wasn’t Madeleine L’Engle’s brilliant insight, though, that turned me onto the art of play, granted me permission to reuse any of my previous ages, and gave me license to act “as if” from whatever age, because I’ve been doing that before becoming aware of her wisdom. I have a substantial kid inside me. Even at 62 I enjoy the challenge of balance walking one foot in front of the other atop a narrow concrete curb, as if I’m in gymnastics on the high school balance beam once again. L’Engle’s concept, however, is an extraordinary invitation to all to make life more magical, to play and act as if. I believe that taking full advantage of tapping into all the ages a person has ever been, letting them out, trying them on and having fun with them again, helps to nourish the kid in all of us. It makes the heart so much lighter. What else is life for, after all? As Anne Lamott said, “100 years from now? All new people.”

Married over 40 years, I often refer to what Steve and I do domestically as “playing house”. Remember when you did that as a kid? At least some of the women reading this no doubt did so. I love it, our playing house. Sometimes it feels like when we were first married and settling into our nest and all was new and exciting and domesticity was one of those badges proving you had become a responsible adult.  I could do chores how mom had taught me or my way since I was now the queen of my castle and got to decide. Approaching homey chores with a sense of play and happiness takes the drudgery out of what many dread and grumble about. Your home is your nest or your castle, depending on your point of view. It’s yours to take delight in, care for and celebrate with joy.

Which leads me to how you’ve “lined” your nest. Steve and I are convinced that, in another life time, we lived out West, maybe even the SouthWest. We knew it as kids. We have pictures of Steve at six-ish in cowboy boots and me at five-ish in my Plains Indian outfit.Kids SW & CW As a bona fide tom boy as a girl (and even now), I much preferred playing cowboys and Indians to amusing myself much with dolls. In this life, though, we reside in Connecticut. We absolutely love the West and our hearts almost ache with love for it but, for a variety of reasons, are settled here in eastern, not even western Connecticut. There’s no bucking the Fates sometimes and the winter weather here is way milder and much shorter. All coins are two sided. Nevertheless our hearts are torn between loving New England and our other favorite place 2,000 miles away. The solution – we’ve created a Western oasis in New England. Our nest is lined with the trappings of things we love about the West and Southwest. We play as if we are there and are pleased. It’s like having our cake and … (more…)

BlogHeader1794Stories entertain and affect. They can explain the unexplainable, make sense out of the senseless, and if lucky, make us feel connected. I believe we all crave connection and a sense of belonging. In some ways that seems odd since we ARE all connected. It’s an ecological fact. Yet facts don’t always satisfy the human mind and rarely the heart. John Muir knew of the law of connection.JohnMuir OnLine He said, “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

Steve and I recently watched the 2015 movie Mr. Holmes on Netflix. Although not a block buster, it was moving and quietly poignant, an account of relationships. Ultimately, even the aged Mr. Holmes dispensed with his addiction for facts and held hands with the realization that straying from facts in telling a story had value in the sometimes lonely world of living. It makes life more beautiful, seasons it and Mr._Holmes_postercan enhance our feelings of hope and redemption making it easier to swallow. The closing scenes made me believe that by his telling a story scarce of facts, Mr. Holmes finally was able to feel more connected.

The late Irish poet, author, priest and philosopher John O’Donohue filled a book with discussion on connection and belonging in his, Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on Our Yearning to Belong. The word “belonging”, he said, is comprised of the two elements of Being and Longing, belonging being “the heart and warmth of intimacy”, something for which we hunger. Long before I read Eternal Echoes I wrote my artist statement.

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In it I explain how my art is how I celebrate what I see and feel connected to – that often inexplicable yet palpable sense of belonging to something even when that something is inanimate, like my passion for and sense of belonging to light tan grasses, ledge and texture.

Recently, during a discussion about my art while at lunch with friends, Steve started to recount the story of, as he called it, my “best piece ever.” He was referring partially to the artwork itself, an abstract textured piece, but more to the circumstances that inspired it and those that mushroomed because of the art.  It’s a piece our friends weren’t familiar with. Deferring to me to impart the details, the story caused tears to well up in my eyes. Sue strongly suggested it become a post on my blog. She felt others would love to hear the extraordinary story.

Incredibly, this story is genuinely all facts, in contrast to Mr. Holmes story at the end of the movie, yet just the same a deep and uncanny sense of connection and sense of belonging are the fabric of the tale. There are few absolutes. (more…)

BLOG COVER Pic 1982Foiled plans invite creativity. It’s a significant phenomenon and a welcome guest especially when I want something badly enough. You may know it as “necessity is the mother of invention.”

It certainly wasn’t a necessity for me to have two small 10” diameter real greenery Christmas wreaths, but I did want them badly. Last year I was ecstatic when I found downsized versions of the ubiquitous larger wreaths at Maegog’s farm stand in Salem,  a mere couple miles from our house in Bozrah.

The wreaths from Maegogs were perfect for the two upright posts at the entrance to our stone drive. Not too big, not too small, just so Goldylocks right. So seasonly stylish with the addition of a bow and proportionally correct for the diameter of the posts as well. Maegog Wreath 2013As in love as I am with non-perfect, wabi-sabi things, symmetry and proportionality rules in other areas. I’ve come to realize we’re all contradictions at times. It’s a human thing.

This year I was once again looking forward to getting a couple more diminutive wreaths from Maegogs to add to our property’s Christmas curb appeal and simultaneously help support a local small business. I don’t know about you, but when I start decorating for Christmas I’m in pursuit, focused and give it my all. I start right after Thanksgiving.

Given that many places start selling authentic evergreen decorations in early November, I was disappointed and deflated when I drove by Maegogs the weekend of Thanksgiving and saw no signs of evergreen life anywhere. No trees, no wreaths, just a sad, empty place. I wondered if Mr. Grinch had been through. Almost incredulous that Maegogs didn’t have wreaths, I did my sleuth thing and searched for how to contact them finding a number to call from their outdated FaceBook page. The husband of the woman who makes the wreaths didn’t know for certain if she was making them this year, they definitely would not have trees, but he took my number and said they’d get back to me in a few days.

Patience isn’t always my strong suit. And, remember that once I set my mind to decorating, I’m all about that. Waiting sounded grueling with no guarantee I’d get a call back or when, and it was already after Thanksgiving after all. So what were my options? I could go to Michael’s, A.C.Moore or Jo-Ann’s and maybe find small artificial wreaths but that didn’t sit well in my craw. You might think that getting older I’d want easy and just buy artificial because they’d be a cinch to pull out each year, reuse and be done with it – no hunting involved. I do admit to having “done” artificial wreaths in the past, but I like to think I’m getting better not older and easy doesn’t always satisfy. This year I was all about embracing authentic and feeling decidedly Druid-like. Let me explain. (more…)