Beautiful Saturday morning!...
I love being here on the deck! It's cool, shady, breezy, and quiet (as quiet as things get at our home here in town!). So many birds singing! I've been watching a monarch butterfly, who seems content to fly all around our yard. The azaleas are blooming, and the dogwood next door is covered with white blossoms. So very peaceful...
Joe has been transplanting hostas from our neighbors' backyard this morning. Little by little over the past year, he has seeded and watered and planted and weeded and patiently waited to see the fruits of his labors. Our yard is looking lush and green as a result now. I am so grateful for all of his hard work! And now I am understanding better his vision.
I think Joe saw potential out here that I just didn't see. I have to admit, I thought his one-man war against the wild violets that had overtaken our backyard was a little crazy -- they were green, weren't they? Wasn't it futile to fight against them when they were so determined to migrate over from our neighbors' untamed yard? Wasn't Joe just fighting a losing battle?
But I was wrong. And this Spring has proven it. This was a battle worth waging. Joe has taken back the yard from its' overgrown state, and now it is healthy and green... a testimony to Joe's hard work and diligence.
Jesus often used metaphors about gardening in His parables. Weeds. Fertile soil. Rocky soil. Water. Growth. Fruit. Seed planting. Tilling. Persistence. Providence. Hope. Faith. Harvest... There is much to think about here in our own backyard.
Friday, April 28, 2006
Sunday, April 16, 2006
A quiet Saturday afternoon. I'm sitting in the studio, enjoying the sun that is shining through the window. This is one of my favorite places to be! I am blessed to have a room of my own where I can surround myself with paints & brushes, punches & glue, polymer clay & an assortment of little creative projects.
Of all the rooms in our house, I think this one best reflects me. This is a place where I feel happy!!... Looking around the studio for me is like looking at a timeline of my creativity: cartooning, lettering, paper piecing, acrylic paintings, and colorful polymer clay. These are all little experiments I've done over the years -- some more successfully than others. Actually, I guess they have all been successful, since they all have taught me lessons about color, design, and using a variety of art & craft materials. None of these projects would win any prizes; but, for me, they all add up to a colorful, one-of-a-kind, personal, not-to-be-found-anywhere-else mixed-media quilt -- my art space.
This is where the little girl in me comes out to play. This is where I journal & think & pray. This is where I brainstorm & plan my next creative project. This is where I read & learn from others. This is where I come to catch up with myself. This is where I can happily be me...
Thank you so much, Lord, for this place!
Back when our youngest son, Jesse, was just learning to crawl (nearly 20 years ago now!), we traded-in Nana's hand-me-down Oldsmobile for a brand new, shiny black Celebrity wagon. I WAS THRILLED!!!
"Bessie" was a simple car -- no power windows or other frills -- but she had lots of room for our family of four to pack all our most important possessions (baby swings, booster seats, strollers, Big Wheels, Legos, Playmobil, Ninja Turtles, and the family dog...) and hit the road together for miles of family fun!
Over the years, after carpooling countless kids, hauling tons of groceries, and safely carrying us through all kinds of weather, things started to fall apart on "Bessie". Her paint began thinning, her ceiling sagged, and her engine struggled to turn over in the morning. After years of faithful service, it seemed "Bessie" had finally come to a well-deserved retirement. Or so we thought...
...'Til one day recently, "Bessie" was called back into active duty! My job, once close to our home here in town, was moved out to the suburbs. With no means to buy a new car, "Bessie" was needed to take me to work and safely back home again.
At first, I was unsure she was up to the assignment -- afterall, for years she had only been asked to make the short trip on local roads to the grocery store and to church on Sundays. "Bessie" hadn't been out on the highway in "Who-Knows-When"?! To be honest, I had come to doubt her reliability, and feared being stranded by the side of the road somewhere.
And so, it was with quite a bit of trepidation that I steered her up the on-ramp of Business 40 on my first day back at work and headed west. To my surprise, "Bessie" got up to speed with ease and gracefully glided onto the highway. She hummed along without a lurch or a sputter, like she'd been waiting for this day for a very long time...
Today, "Bessie" is in the shop having her engine tuned. She would be the first to admit she's not much to look at anymore. Mother Nature and family life have taken their tole on "Bessie's" good looks. But, that's O.K. -- she's got miles of wisdom and experience from her long life on the road; and she's happy to still be of service!!
I celebrated my 50th b'day last month, and it got me thinking about things I've learned about myself along the way. Here are a few simple facts about me (in no particular order!) :
* It's important to me to be authentic.
* I'm most comfortable in my blue jeans.
* Quiet time re-energizes me; busy-ness makes my battery run low.
* I doubt I'll ever be an avid gardener, a gourmet cook, or a sports fan.
* I like living in a place where the seasons change. Spring and Fall are my favorites!
* I think of myself as a stay-at-home-mom/ self-taught artist/ craftperson.
* I don't usually like to shop, but I can spend hours exploring a bookstore, a craft store, or a hardware store.
* I like to live simply. For me, that means eating basic, healthy food, keeping my home uncluttered and friendly, and juggling only a few commitments at a time.
* I'm a better listener than a talker.
* Playing with craft supplies -- colorful papers, punches, markers, glitter, glue, paint, and clay -- makes me happy!
* One of the most important life skills I'm trying to cultivate is the ability to have a thankful heart.
* Being a wife and mom have been the greatest blessings of my life!!!
Owen is my little buddy who lives with his mom, dad, and a great big dog named Floyd two doors down from me. He's a 3 1/2 year old blonde haired, blue eyed, fun-loving charmer who adds a whole lot of joy to my life!!
Owen has been coming to my house since he was a baby -- he knows where I keep the cookies and the dog treats and all the "cool" trucks (leftover from when my boys were little). I love the way he walks right in and makes himself at home! If he's curious about something, he just comes right out and asks his question -- "Why is Salem a barking dog?"..."Can I have that orange?"..."Can I play with your video game?"..."Do you have any more cookies?"...
One of Owen's favorite things to do is to bake cookies with his mom, and then get on his "bike" and deliver his sweet packages to all the neighbors (as you might imagine, Owen has made a lot of friends on our block!). Or, if cookies aren't available, a good second best is to deliver one of his recently handmade preschool masterpieces. The other day, I was surprised to hear a little knock, knock, knock on my front door, followed by loud barking. Not seeing anyone through the window, I opened the door and there was Owen with a big grin on his face! He had come to deliver some artful "email"; but try as he might, he just couldn't reach my mail slot. I mistakenly thought he would just hand me his picture while I "Ooooo'd" and "Ahhhhh'd" and thanked him profusely -- silly me!! Instead, Owen got me to shut the front door and then lift him up high so he could slide his "mail" through the slot. It was so much fun, we had to do it over & over again! The best part for me was the big hug that my little "mailman" gave me!
What a great reminder to me, Lord, to give out of love, with joy and simplicity!! Thank you for blessing me with my little friend, Owen!
It's 10:30 on an ordinary Saturday morning. I have no place to be, no schedule to keep. A whole empty day stretched before me -- pure bliss!!
So far, I've had French toast coffee with my husband, Joe (usually we have pancakes, but today just felt like a French-toast-kinda-day!). Mine had Grandma's homemade strawberry jam, made with strawberries grown on the family farm -- YUM!!! Fed and talked to Salem, our dog (who loves the extra attention). Let Salem in & out of the back door at least ten times (she likes to see what's goin' on in her neighborhood!). Checked my email and my eBay art groups. Listened to my husband laughing his big, happy laugh from the next room as he watched a SciFi show he'd taped (how I love that laugh of his!!). Considered all the many ways I might spend today -- vacuuming? (nah!), folding clothes? (definitely!), washing my hair & getting it cut? (great idea!), changing the sheets? (yup, put that one on the list), going outside? (it's 60 degrees today in January -- much too nice to be inside all day!), wandering around in my favorite craft store (what a treat!), doodling? (just haven't had time lately, and I've missed being creative)...
Lord, I'm so grateful for this ordinary Saturday, when I can JUST BE!! Thank you for time to regroup, catch up with myself, and play a little!
Yesterday afternoon, on my way from here to there, I stopped at a local scrapbooking store I'd never explored before. As I'd hoped, it was brimming full of colorful papers and stickers and magazines and idea books -- the perfect place to come to get my creative juices flowing!!
One book in particular caught my eye -- the big picture, by Stacy Julian. Stacy's the founding editor of Simple Scrapbooks magazine, and I've been an admirer of hers for a long time now! After scanning the books' pages (and realizing that I had in my hand the only store copy), I hurried to make my purchase.
At home, with a cup of hot coffee in hand, I began to read; and as I read, my excitement grew. Here, on one colorful page after another, was laid out a philosophy of creativity and joyful living I could appreciate and really relate to!
Now, I'm not a photographer or a scrapbooker. I'm more of a craftsperson/self-taught artist/journaler (is "journaler" even a word?). I have filled up numerous 3-ring binders over the years with my doodlings and my writings. The writing has always been just for me. The doodles have been the way I've "played" with color and words on plain old graph paper ('cause I like having the lines to guide me) with markers & colored pencils. Sometimes I've used my little drawings as a springboard to an actual finished product (like the collages I've occasionally offered on eBay for fun -- more about that later... ). But, mostly they've been filed away in notebooks as an ongoing record of my interests and my growth as an artist.
Up 'til now, I've only rarely combined my writing and my artwork. Never really thought about doing that... don't know why. But, as I began reading Stacy's book, I got to thinking that I have the opportunity in blogging to do just that -- bring the words and the pictures together where they can be seen and shared. And that excites me!!
It may take me a while to figure this out -- I'm hardly a computer whiz. And, as I attempt this kind of blogging, I promise you that the artwork will be less than perfect – sometimes my little scribbles will be on graph paper, 'cause I don't want this to be anything but fun and real.
Many thanks, Stacy, for your encouragement toward simplicity and self-expression !! Your helpful ideas are both powerful and freeing!!!
OK, I'll be honest... I like a little attention when I'm feeling sick. I like my husband, Joe, to be empathetic and to do thoughtful things for me. I like to hear, "Hon, I'm so sorry you're not feeling well -- is there anything I can get for you?" I like a few well-timed hugs from him. I like to be able to whine a little bit, and have that be alright...
To his credit, Joe did all these thoughtful things for me over the past few days when I've been down with the "bug". But, with a busy week ahead of him, he also did his best to avoid all my germs. He just didn't have time to get sick right now.
So, I decided I'd give myself a large dose of TLC. Here's what helped:
1. Hot tea, with sugar & milk and OJ -- I have consumed what must be gallons of it!
2. Chicken noodle soup -- the chunky kind your Grandma would have made.
3. Salem, my dog -- there's just nothing like the comfort that comes from your faithful doggie friend!!
4. My favorite, snuggly blanket -- great for keeping you warm while you're on the couch watching HGTV, or for snoozing under on Grandma's old bed in the afternoon.
5. A warm shower -- even though I have a tendency to want to lounge around in my robe all day when I'm sick, getting under the warm water & then into some clean, comfy clothes really makes me feel better.
6. A good book -- the kind that doesn't take too much thinking, but keeps you entertained. Back issues of your favorite magazines (the kind with lots of pictures) work well, too!
7. Lots of naps -- all taken under the aforementioned snuggly blanket with your doggie.
After six days, I'm glad to be feeling a whole lot better! It's good to have my energy (and my sense of humor) back! Makes me appreciate how great it is to feel "normal"!
I have a great job, taking care of two little ones parttime while their Mom teaches school. My two sons, Ben & Jesse, are grown, so this gives me the opportunity to snuggle and sing goofy songs and watch Sesame Street again!!
Most days, it's a joy to be able to spend time with Jane & George. There are so many funny things that they do & say! A simple walk in the neighborhood magically turns into an adventure as we hunt for "Goggies" & "Meowmies". A ride in "Miss Patti's" old station wagon to school is sooooo exciting! Coloring is a social activity, and lunchtime always holds unexpected silliness & treats! It's a blessing to me to be able to once more see life through the eyes of a child!!
But, last Monday was a difficult day on Sesame Street! Both Jane & George were coming down with a "bug", and there was no comforting George. Poor little buddy! -- he was coughing and wheezing and hungry and tired. His nose was so stuffed that he couldn't breathe, so drinking his bottle was all but impossible. Jane was feeling yucky, too, and whinier than her usual cheerful self. Who could blame her? At only two, she wanted -- no NEEDED -- attention, someone to get her juice and cookies and to empathize with her misery. But I was so busy walking and rocking and jiggling her baby brother that I had little time to comfort her. And so it was a VERY LONG day...
I came home, exhausted and in tears. Had I done enough for these little ones? What could I have done better? Quite honestly, I had tried all day to do my best; but this was a tenacious "bug", and all day it had had the upper hand.
Funny, how easy it is to forget how difficult caring for little ones can be!! Parenting is certainly not for the faint of heart! Lord, please help me to have Your patience & love with Jane & George, no matter what the day may bring...
Today I'm home with the "bug", too (though I seem to have a milder case). Jane & George's grandma has come to help out, so I have the luxury of taking it easy and getting better. I have my big box of Kleenex, my fuzzy slippers, and my bottomless glass of OJ. A long nap is sounding pretty good right now...
OK, so now I'm feeling a little foolish!! ....
After looking around a bit more, I've found all those great bells & whistles I thought I'd lost before. It wasn't my computers' fault at all, just me not knowing what I was doing. Silly me!...
My apologies to "Phoebe" -- I should never have doubted you!!
My Dad gave me my computer about 1 1/2 years ago when he upgraded to a newer model. It's a Windows 98 desktop with a great color monitor, but a quirky temperament. I have learned so far that "Phoebe" can only be upgraded so far -- she has the memory of a little old lady, and when pushed too far, she freezes and makes a colorful, "quilty" design on her screen. I've learned the hard way that downloading new programs can be hazardous to poor old Phoebe's health (and my frustration level!!).
So, I was not surprised at all this morning as I started to write to find that Phoebe refused to show me the blog options she had allowed me to use just yesterday. Today I'm left with only one typeface, bold, italic, and some color choices. I can add a link or quote and check my spelling, but that's it. Beyond that, Phoebe will not budge!! So, my blogging will be less artistic than I would have liked -- no cute Smileys, no playing with fonts. I hope I can figure out how to add some of my artwork, since that has been one of my desires in setting up my blog... I will have to experiment and see what happens!
Today is the first day of a brand new year!! It's cool and sunny, with a Carolina-blue sky -- a perfect early-winter day!
As I write this, I am sipping hot tea and enjoying the wonderful view from our back porch. The sky seems so expansive now that the leaves have left their branches! I have a wide view of our funky old neighborhood -- the rooftops, the huge trees, squirrels and winter birds enjoying the sunshine.
Thank you, Lord, for this day of peace and tranquility! Thank you for New Beginnings...