Saturday, December 06, 2008

Standing alone

The tree,
hugged one last time by sunlight
before earth slips into
void of night.

She gathers up amber rays.
They expose her,
shedding plush red cloak
for grey bones reaching skyward.

She is laid bare.
Nothing but hope
of spring warmth,
life stirring quietly.

She carries the seeds of tomorrow.
She holds the most fragile of dreams.
held ever so gently
in her grey bone arms.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My heart fills up....

    At the end of the movie "American Beauty", Kevin Spacey has an amazing monologue about
the last second of his life and the post-death feelings he has about the world:

~~I guess I couId be pretty pissed off
about what happened to me,
but it's hard to stay mad when
there's so much beauty in the worId.

Sometimes I feeI like I'm seeing
it all at once and it's too much.

My heart fills up like a balloon
that's about to burst.

And then I remember
to relax...
and stop trying
to hold on to it.

And then it flows
through me like rain,

and I can't feel anything
but gratitude...
for every single moment...
of my stupid little Iife.

You have no idea what
I'm talking about, I'm sure.

But don't worry.

You will someday.~~

I think I know exactly what he's talking about. At least
in certain moments I know. Still learning how to stop
trying to hold onto it. So much beauty....even in the
things we deem undesirable. Beauty everywhere.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I am...

....a purple squiggle. According to Bupa anyway.:)

"You are creative, witty and impulsive. You are spontaneous and fun, always looking to the future, however you are not always dependable and you have been known to drive your colleagues crazy. You are easily distracted and you need to learn to focus on tasks and see them through to their conclusion."

After lighting nachos on fire and running over a mailbox this week, I have no way to refute the above assertations. My only issue is that it seems to by saying "easily distracted" is somehow bad. I disagree. I spent too much of my life feeling badly about that fact. Some of us like sparkly things...what can I say?

Thanks to Christi for sharing the Bupa thing at her blog!:)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Too much

I've completely neglected this blog once again. Not for lack of caring, or desire to share words and ideas but for lack of prioritizing. The garden has been neglected too. It was nice to take a break from it. I have that luxury but there are spinach and kale seeds wanting to be planted.

We've been extra busy with good friends. Creating lovely memories and connections. That's the stuff which makes life grand. An intentional community is on my mind daily now and while the stars are coming into alignment in some ways, other challenges make it a seemingly distant reality.

I've been shooting with my 35mm camera again. The photos lose quality when being uploaded from a disc, but it's what I have right now. I shot a bunch in downtown Jonesborough, then at a cemetery and on Buffalo Mountain where we hiked with La's crew.

We've managed to lose a camera and our cat this month. So amongst all the swirly, craziness of friends and gatherings we've been sad about saying goodbye to some things we love in life. I'm still hoping Bella will show up yowling at the door one night.

Today, I read this poem at a community blog and it really fit in with how I'm feeling this morning:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

Saturday, September 27, 2008

ATC experimentation

The latest ATC experiments have been all about texture and mucking about with just how much you can use a sewing machine for. I'm not a seamstress. I just know how to make the sewing machine go, so it's not exactly a fine art or anything.

This series utilizes paper, paint and fabric to create mixed media, sewn ATC's.

Unfortunately some of the pics didn't come out too clear. That's what happens when I use a point-and-shoot instead of my trusty 35 mil. camera. sigh. The cards above are Live and Learn memories. The left side utilizes an old tie dye shirt and a chocolate wrapper. On the right I used some feathers and a gem from my masquerade ball costume.

These two are some of my favorites. Both use fabrics, paper and paint to create a very textured card. The heart and circle are raised up.

This series is paper sculpted with gel medium, paint and glitter. Can you tell I'm getting ready for Day of the Dead? Or am I just really early for Valentine's Day?

These were fun doodles. They started out with watercolor paint and got layered with colored pencils (including watercolor pencils, my fave) chalks, oil pastels and iridescent watercolor medium.

These were really fun, though I am not in love with the results yet. I took a stiff backing of felt (most of my fabric ATC's start that way) and stitched a swatch of canvas to the top. I then gesso'd them and painted with acrylic paint. A mini paint canvas ATC style! Cool idea, but I need to play with it more.

Last month we had fun up at Clark's creek with our friends. I took home a small pile of river rocks and got inspired to paint them. The results make me happy. I love baskets of colorful bits and meditation stones, these are F.U.N. They feel so good in your hand too!

Last, a couple shots of my messy art room. I used to have a corner of the garage, but I've upgraded to an actual room in the garage. Complete with walls.:)

It's not pretty, but we write on the walls and have a generally fabulous time in there. Sierra is my constant companion when art is happening. I think every bit of clothing she owns has been altered in some fashion.

The most awesome piece of equipment I ever invested in? Guess.

Nope, not that lovely sewing machine.

Not the hot glue gun.

No, no, no, it's not the soldering iron.

Nah, it's my shop vac! I LOVE, love, love my shop vac which sucks up all sorts of chunks and scraps and anything at all you don't feel like cleaning up. It's a vacuum for the relaxed housekeeper. That'd be me. Yes, yes. I highly recommend one.

There is something most satisfying about throwing your scraps on the cement floor and sucking them up with an all powerful, uber-hungry, somewhat demonic vacuum. Most satisfying indeed. Be careful or it will suck your soul! It's that powerful.

Now you know what happened to me.;)

Monday, September 22, 2008

The garden slows

The color of the month is green. Lots of peppers, a lone watermelon and even some fried green tomatoes. I feel like a true southerner now! They are total yum by the way....

The lonely little watermelon was a volunteer that sprouted up in the herb garden. We basically ignored it, so I'm surprised we got anything at all. But it was fun to have at least one watermelon after Scott's (aka; Jalen) wonderful first experience with them last summer.

There is some okra and corn still coming on, just a few corn plants that we MAY get a few ears from if the weather holds. They're mostly just for decoration. The swiss chard never stops. That stuff is amazing and so versatile. We're getting ready to clean things up and plant more lettuces and greens.

Tomatoes keep coming but are looking pretty straggly at this point. There's been a lot of learning and more planning for next season. The garden is the never-ending story.:)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Stanley Kunitz is my hero

There's a quote I've loved for many years now and it's never far from my mind:'

"The hard, inescapable phenomenon to be faced is that we are living and dying at once. My commitment is to report that dialogue."

It's a quote by Stanley Kunitz, a well respected poet and better yet, an amazing gardener. I have been wanting to buy a book of poetry for some time. I broke down the other night and started researching which book of poetry I might like. The best discovery was a book of conversations with him about his garden, his life and poetry from the years 2002 through 2004. I was SO excited and ordered it immediately.

Well, it hasn't been disappointing. It was money well spent. He died in 2006 at the age of 100 and I can't help but feel the world is a little less bright because someone like him is gone.

Poems with words like "At my touch the wild braid of creation trembles." and
"What makes the engine go? Desire, desire, desire. The longing for the dance stirs in the buried life."

That first quote is something I've related to so deeply in my desire to document life itself. Photos and words are my method most of the time, art at other times. I understand his need to embrace the living and dying all at once. It's beautiful.

This also explains that desire to document, regurgitate, remember and extract:
"The creative gift has very complex origins; you're accumulating and digesting experience, trying to discover it's meanings, instead of stuffing it into a closet and moving on to whatever happens to you next."

Yes and yes.

He even waxes poetic about compost and "the positive concept of waste and death. The contribution that mortality makes to civilization is the equivalent of what composting contributes to a garden. We are all candidates for composting. So we cannot approach the compost heap without a feeling of connection."

I was trying to grasp my inner urge to document the other night, before the book arrived and found myself writing a brief essay about my thoughts on the matter. Towards the end a poem began forming in my head. It seems to reveal my deepest desire in this documentation-of-life somehow "freeze" the moments. Thank you Stanley Kunitz for your words and inspiration, for your garden and your insight. This one's for you:

Still life
as in




Pause for this moment
let me




If I can hold existence
fabric of



It need not slip




Be still life



Let me dance



Kiss your cheek




Never to change
or grow older because


Eternity in my

Monday, August 18, 2008

Beautiful Stillness

“There is a beautiful stillness breathing here,
Its mellow richness on the clustered trees …“—Longfellow.

My new friend Heather sings a song that make my spine tingle. I don't know why it's such a powerful song to me, but everytime I hear this particular song it causes the most lovely images to swirl up into my mind.

So I created an ATC inspired by her song "Beautiful Stillness" and I think there's more to come. Maybe it's the way I used to get lost in my own fantasy creations out in the woods as a child. Maybe it's because I most closely relate to nature and fairies and whimsical cloaks and medieval stories. I don't know. But it's an awesome song and I want to thank her for the inspiration.

It's mostly the chorus that runs through my head all day:

"I will sit beneath the trees
'til kudzu grows, over me
poison ivy circling round my head
an initiation crown"

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Food and art

Two of my favorite things in life.

I made a fierce tomato sauce out of many garden tomatoes. I used a bunch of lush Brandywines, along with some pungent rosemary and onions. It simmered on the back of the stove for several hours, making the house smell like an Italian restaurant.

This sauce is one I used to make when the older boys were little. I had more time to spend in the kitchen back then and somewhere in the years I quit doing it. There was also this amazing Italian peasant bread I made. Both the sauce and bread are back, I'm happy to say.

The crust is crisp and chewy, the bread inside is softly textured and has a most addictive quality when dipped in olive oil infused with herbs and garlic. Heaven. on. earth.

Truly. This time around I made the sauce into a lasagne. With the peasant bread and some green beans from the Farmer's Market it made a lovely meal.

Since this started out as more of an art/meandering thoughts blog, I thought I'd throw in some of the recent ATC's I've been making. These are all fabric or a combination of fabric, paper and other materials put together with the sewing machine.

The ATC on the left has a duct tape base. You really CAN do anything with that stuff. It's amazing!

My fairy on the right lived in a jar for the last year or so. She stood in some moss that I incorporated into the ATC. I think I'll trap some more fairies to use in art. They're so gullible around here and I find them easy to collect. Don't worry, lots of raw honey keeps them happy. That, and a bit of glitter.

On the far right in this picture, I used a piece of material from a shirt of my Mum's. It was one that I collected after she died and kept thinking I'd wear it. Cutting up certain items is difficult and this was especially hard. I feel like I'm cutting up bits of her life, which I am in a sense, but it feels good to honor her spirit in my art.

She was a storyteller and an artist, though she never fully trusted her artist self. Her spirit lives on in my garden and in my art and stories and especially in my children, who remember their storytelling, costume-dressing, parade-making, flower-picking, gift-giving Grandmother with great fondness.

These ATC's will be found at a conference in the near come on over and trade at Live and Learn with me!!:)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Poetry and a bit of gratefulness

This poem is what inspires me this morning, as I sit and ponder events in the world and how different people respond to these events:

Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again

the dove is never free.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

(Leonard Cohen)


The garden needs tending as this warm weather
is causing everything to either bolt or grow like
lunatics on speed. We're seeing several birdhouse
gourds emerging now and it excites Jalen to no end.

I'm feeling quite positive lately. If the world turns
inside-out, I will ride the wave or crash, but today
will be spent in joy. I will feel the connection
with m
y fellow humans on this journey...for we
are all reflections of one another to some degree.

Today is about connecting with my children, my
friends, my piece of the planet and all the other
places on this amazing chunk of rock floating in
I am constantly awed and fascinated by
this place called earth and the people here-in.

So I leave you with this symbol of love, created
by Sierra who knows little about the idea of

Let some light in through the cracks.....

Thursday, July 31, 2008

July compressed

I had planned to update before now, truly I did. But a couple very disappointing things happened after my last post and it took me a while to feel positive about my efforts this year.

After my last post I discovered that I had lost the entire hive. I know what happened now and we'll just call it a series of beginner mistakes and lack of complete information from those that were helping me. It probably would not have happened if I'd gone with nucs instead of packaged bees. Apparently the packaged bees are a bit more maintenance in the beginning and I didn't really know what to watch for.

The same week I lost the one hive, I also discovered a water retention issue....certain parts of the garden weren't retaining it well at all. I think the large black locust nearby wasn't helping either. So I had a lot of very small potatoes and it probably explains some of my struggle with other plants.

I was pretty down that week. There is inherent risk with anything living and never any guarantees. But I felt like too many things were failing right at that point. I'm feeling better now...

The Tithonia Torch is drawing mad amounts of butterflies and other nectar seeking insects. It was literally alive with activity the other day;

This bumble bee was quite happy. He's not from my hive, honey bees don't look like this. But he was sure going to town on my flowers.

I went into the strong hive for some maintenance and to make sure they were ok. They looked great! My co-workers bought me the bee suit for my birthday and I am loving it. Thank you ladies!!

I'm also very happy with the design of the hive stand we built together. It holds a lot of items and hive parts while I'm working. Very convenient and sturdy.

The tomatoes kept getting larger and larger...

..and more ripe by the day. To date, we've eaten 4 or 5 of the large Brandywines and too many cherry tomatoes to count! The flavor on both is incredible. I've had home grown tomatoes many times but I don't think I've ever tasted anything quite like the Brandywines. They are made of YUM.

This watermelon plant is a volunteer and slowly taking over the herb garden. Heck, I can move herbs if needed. It's happy there.

We've managed to keep harvesting lettuce. There is a very slight bitterness to some of it that you don't even notice when it's in a salad. I'm pretty happy about the lettuces and salad materials this year. That's one thing I can always enjoy.

The harvest from one day last week. The cuke was too bitter, mostly to my irregular watering practices lately. We had several good cucumbers before that. The lettuce basket has a bunch of basil in there too. I can eat basil on everything!

One of the meals from our garden. A salad with lettuces, herbs, tomatoes and feta cheese and a baked sandwich with basil, tomato and cheese.

We dug up several varieties of potatoes, the All Blue (which are actually purple) included. They aren't my favorite for flavor or texture but the gorgeous color makes them totally worth the effort.

This was a night of beans, cabbage, zucchini and crook-neck squash all went into that pot of soup. We also had steamed beet, which I happily ate for myself since nobody else likes it.

The zucchini, beet and crook-necks were all from another local garden. I won them in the silent auction at the annual Washington County Beekeeper's Association picnic. Got to see a long hive out at the Exchange Place. That was truly interesting.

The hive is laid out length wise instead of being built upwards. It's useful for someone who might have back problems or other health concerns but wants to keep bees. I would think in our winters a long hive might have trouble keeping warm. Apparently that one is fine though.

it's been a month of disappointments and rewards. Chalk it up to living and learning. We're talking about expanding the garden bed in a dramatic way next year and adding a couple more hives. Bring it on!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The buzz

I mentioned that one of my hives had me worried and was very weak. After talking to the folks at K&K again, I went with their advice to place a new queen in the colony and take a frame of brood from the healthy hive to give them a boost. So here I am getting into the weak hive.

This frame should be covered with bees and wax and you can see there's not much of anything. The brood that was present looked dried up and there were NO eggs or young larvae present at all.

I have a theory as to what may have happened, but it's all a guess at this point. I think the original queen may have been weak to begin with and didn't lay enough brood. Something happened to her, or they swarmed (which makes no sense, but is still a possibility) and the hive decided to make a new queen. I found two empty queen cells, so my thought is that two queens hatched and rather than one of them dominating, they killed each other and the hive didn't have enough brood to make a new one at that point.

Their numbers were declining rapidly, but there is no sign of disease.

Placing the new queen in the hive.

I checked on her yesterday and they almost had her out of the queen cage. I'll wait a few more days before checking again. I'm worried about this hive, but there isn't much I can do at this point but wait....
and wait.

Lotsa things in life are like that aren't they? :) The bees are helping me be more Zen. Ah, that would make a good post..."Zen and the art of beekeeping".