Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Perfect Moment


With every passing year, my memory grows ever more frail.  In class, I regularly reach for a word that is obviously nowhere near the tip of my tongue . . . and it's gone.  Old friends will say, "Remember when we . . . " or "It was so funny when . . . " and I'll have no idea of what they're talking about.  I will say to my Loved One, "Did I ask you whether you put the garbage out, or did I just think it?" and half the time I've only thought it.

 [Linkup to LEM Challenge and Texture Twist]

At the same time, some memories are so wonderful that they persist forever, memories of an absolutely perfect moment in your life.  This comes from about 1971 (of course I have no exact memory of the year).  I was visiting the Berkshires -- my boyfriend lived in New York, and I in Boston, so we would meet in the Berkshires at his  mother's house.  We went to a farewell concert of the Youngbloods at Tanglewood (I think it was Tanglewood).  But here's what I remember precisely:  It was a glorious day, sunny and warm.  We were relaxing on a blanket with our friends.  We had picked up sandwiches from Take Out Alice (the Alice from Alice's Restaurant had by that point closed her restaurant and opened up a takeout place) -- they were pot roast sandwiches, on rolls that were dusted with flour on the top, and horseradish -- I have never forgotten the taste of that sandwich, eaten outdoors on a beautiful day.  And of course, we had the preferred drink of the time -- Boone's Farm Apple Wine (no one drank real wine in those days).

And when Jesse Colin Young began singing "Sunlight," the moment became a perfect one that I would never forget.  The boy I was with  (I'm sure he was a man, but from this vantage point, he was a boy) --  I was crazy about him, the delicious sandwiches and wine, the beautiful day and that song . . . it all combined to create a moment that I will remember until I leave this earth.

Listen to it through your headphones, it's gorgeous.  What's one of your perfect moments?


Friday, April 29, 2011

A Droid!!!


My Blackberry has been going downhill for a while -- I think that the effective life of mobile phones is just about the two years you have to sign a contract for.  Lately, the old BB has been going black (but comes back on if you turn it upside down), the phone will ring even if it's on vibrate, etc. etc.  And of course, having a Blackberry, I was about two or three years behind the times -- I think my friends got their iPhones a couple of years ago.

 My Joseph's Coat Rose

So, today I found out that I was okay for an upgrade, and since I have no impulse control whatsoever, I had the Samsung Galaxy a couple of hours later.  It's so cool!  And it allows me to link up with iPhoneography this week.  It came with a car charger and Bluetooth, which is great, and it has full GPS in it, and all kinds of cool stuff (including Kindle).

 My Hot Cocoa Rose

And, I got Angry Birds, which I think everyone in the world but me has played, I think.  I can see that it could become a giant sinkhole of time.

  Some Plants on my Patio

So now I'm one of the cool girls.  My son has had a Droid for a long time, so I'm sure he will be as scornful as a mid-twenties kid can be (he always makes fun of my forays into technology), but I don't care.  I like it.
The Aforementioned October -- Linkup to Camera Critters

The Ceremony -- Color Commentary


3:10 -- The ceremony begins, after the hymn.  Kate looks beautiful but tired and is showing a bit of the strain.  I can't imagine that she got a lot of sleep last night.  The vows -- then her father passes her hand to the Archbishop of Canterbury and he passes it to William.  Cheers outside as they complete their vows.  Wills has a little trouble getting the ring on -- it looks like an absolutely simple band.  Now the prayer is led by a guy with kind of wild bedhead :)     

3:20 -- Big cheers outside as they are pronounced man and wife.  Her father and Harry leave the altar; Wills and Kate go over to the side as they sing another hymn.  I need to find something to eat :) -- an English muffin, in honor of the occasion.  The choir sings a beautiful anthem -- interesting that the choir is all men and boys -- no women or girls at all.  That's a little antique, isn't it?  And now . . . the sermon.  (That's not me yawning in the background -- no, not me.)

3:50 -- Everyone outside is singing along to "Jerusalem" -- and now, "God Save the Queen."  Prince Phillip sings along, but the Queen herself doesn't.  Now they're all off to sign  the marriage register.

4:03 -- The recessional begins --  Will and Kate walk out solemnly, although she can't help a huge smile as she passes by guests.  And what a long, long walk it is -- I would have tripped about 10 times by now.  Now Will is smiling, a little bashfully, it seems.  And now, here they come out of the church -- standing in the arched doorway while everyone cheers -- what a fairy tale it is.  Ah, here comes Cinderella's carriage with four beautiful white horses.  William dons his gloves and they climb in.  She just said, "I'm so happy."  Off they go, with the Household Cavalry on black horses in front and behind. And the Queen, in another carriage, has actually cracked a smile.

And here they are at Buckingham palace.  Harry's riding with the little 'uns.  What's remarkable is that Will and Kate have yet to kiss -- what kind of a wedding is that, that you can't even hug and kiss at all?  :(

4:25 -- I don't know if I'm going to make it to when they emerge on the balcony -- it won't be for another hour.  That may have to wait for replays later in the day because I'm toast at this point.  Well, as Piers Morgan just said, you probably won't see this again in your lifetime -- the wedding of a future king.  I've seen two and that's probably all for me.  I wouldn't have missed it.  William's mother would have been so proud.  'Nite, all.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Big Night


Well, who's going to be up with me in the middle of the night?  Come on, we can live blog together!  I'm setting my clock for 2 AM PDT, to see William and Harry leave Clarence House!  Who's with me?  :)

2:25 AM -- Live blogging -- my alarm went off at 2:00; for one minute, I considered staying in my nice warm bed, but no -- I wouldn't miss this for the world.  Will (in a beautiful red uniform) and Harry (the little devil) just arrived at Westminster.  Now Kate's mother has just left the hotel and is on her way.  Crowds of hundreds of thousands (millions?) are lining the streets and cheering everyone on.

2:30 -- Trying to decide on a channel, I think I'm settling on CNN.  I love Anderson Cooper and they have Vera Wang on to talk about the dress.  And they have Piers Morgan  and that woman from So You Think You Can Dance.  I don't want to listen to the ancient Barbara Walters :p  Her mother looks lovely in pale grey, with a really nice hat (ah, the hats).  Now her mother's going into the church.  It looks like a lot of people are sitting on folding chairs.

2:38 -- The "minor royals" are arriving.  Amazing hats.  And here come Charles and Camilla (that homewrecker).  She looks about as good as she can look, I guess.  Oh my goodness, the York girls have on ridiculous hats!  Towering creations.  And here's Granny, lovely in yellow, on her way with Prince Phillip.  All the little flower girls are on their way now.  

2:47 -- Any moment now, The Dress!  Kate will be coming out of the hotel.  But it looks like they have a covered walkway going right up to the limo.  We won't see much.  The Queen has arrived.  Big trumpet fanfare.  Now we will get a very brief glimpse of Kate -- ooh, a photographer (also in a fancy hat) is taking pics of Kate as she gets into the car.  She's in -- V-neck, lace top and sleeves.  Veil over the face.  Hair pretty much down.   They're handing in her train and skirt bit by bit -- her father's got it on his lap.  Here they go.  She has a huge smile and some gorgeous teardrop earrings.  Now the little 'uns (with Kate's sister) are going into the church.  Her sister looks amazing.  A very slim dress with a v-neck.  Vera Wang is predicting a very full skirt and long train (we couldn't see it as she got into the car).

3:00 -- Here she is, right on time.  Vera's right about the full skirt.  Her hair looks like it's in curls down her back.  Long train, but not too long.  Beautiful veil, elbow length in front, longer in the back, with flowers around the edge.  The whole train looks embroidered.  Here they go into the church.  Big fanfare and choir singing as she and her father wait to walk down the aisle.  Harry and Wills are coming in at the front of the church.  Harry looks uncharacteristically solemn; William has a big grin.  But now Harry is peeking down the aisle and has made some kind of a joke.  She's arrived at the altar, William told her she looks beautiful and then made a joke they all chuckled about.  Wow, what a huge place that is.  New post for the ceremony --

Texture Thursday


No time for a full post today -- the last few days of school get crazy busy for me.  But I wanted to link up to Texture Thursday -- here's a hot cocoa rose from my garden.  I tried photographing my beautiful Joseph's Coat, but not a single one came out nicely.  But this little blossom looks pretty good, I think.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011



       A house is just a place to keep your stuff 
while you go out and get more stuff
                                                                      ~George Carlin

Over at Goodlife Zen they have a guest post about Living with Less and the Art of a Zen Closet.  Boy, I wish I could get more Zen in the area of stuff, how much I have and how much I need.  We seem to just accumulate things, until, as George Carlin says, a house is just a pile of stuff with a cover over it.

Our house is pretty much full of stuff as it is, and I have two impending moves that will result in a lot more stuff -- moving out of my office when I retire next year, and moving the rest of my things out of my ex's house when he retires and moves too.  I'm thinking about the kinds of things I can live without, so that my life doesn't become an even higher mountain of junk:

1.  Clothes.  Of course.  I have the clothes I never wear, the clothes that have never quite fit but I bought them anyway, the underwear that's in tatters but it fits, the underwear that's new but it doesn't fit so I never wear it, the shoes that are too good to get rid of, the purses I'm sure I can sell at a garage sale that never happens . . . on and on.  The writer over at Goodlife Zen got herself down to 33 pieces of clothing . . . I wonder if I could do the same?

[Books make me happy -- linkup to What I love Wednesday and  52 weeks of happiness]

2.  Books.  We currently have six bookcases stuffed to the brim, and I have three more full cases at the ex's, and a couple hundred books at my office.  I know that there are books that I treasure and could never part with, but what about the books I've read and know I'll never read again?  The books I'll never read?  The books I'm sure I'll refer to someday, but never do?  The books I wish my kids would care about, but they don't?  I have a wonderful book that was my dad's when he was a kid, and that I read over and over as a child, but my son never had any interest in it, so what will it mean to him when I'm gone?  And do I really need all the books I read for my master's orals 30 years ago???

3.  Supplies.  Office supplies, school supplies, craft supplies (oh yes and all those unfinished crafts projects).  I seem to accumulate those things endlessly -- cute file folders, pencils that look like ballpoint pens, a new color or shape of Post-Its.  And now I add art supplies to the list.  For some reason, I won't use a pad of paper when it gets down to the last few pages, so I have the tag-ends of all those pads in a drawer.  Good grief.

4.  Family mementos.  My sister and I have a terrible problem.  Our mother was a master craftswoman, a professional sewer, a successful artist, our houses are full of stuff that she made, and we seem incapable of ever getting rid of one bit of it.  I have clothes she made when I was a teenager, a huge pile of Christmas decorations, crocheted items (from my grandmother, too), things she made for my son when he was a baby, on and on.  I have to figure out how to release my deathgrip on all these things.  (Something I'll never give up:  a little purse size of Shalimar, the perfume my mother wore.  It's empty, but still fragrant.  Every now and then I open it and just inhale.)

[Not my stuff, fortunately]

5.  Photography-related stuff.  I have boxes full of prints I've had made but am not going to use, calendars left over from two years ago, cards I made but never sold, a couple of lenses I never, ever use, macro rails I think I've used once, on and on.  This is stuff I'll never get rid of, and I can imagine the pile growing and growing.

Well, that's the start of a list, anyway.  I really have to think this over.  What kinds of stuff do you need to get rid of, and how do you get yourself to do it??

Tuesday, April 26, 2011



[Linkup to Simplicity]

No, not the month, the cat.  We have a very, very large cat named October.  I'm a dog person and a bird person (more on that another day) but not a cat person, so October and I have a somewhat wary relationship with one another.

I suppose he's a nice cat, as far as cats go, but I'm not sure that any cat could truly win my affections.  I think this goes back to childhood, and I can pin it on my dad, who hated cats with a passion and pretended to be allergic to them so he'd never have to see them, if he was at someone else's house.  (We always said "pretend," because if he didn't know the cat was there, surprise, he didn't develop any symptoms.)  Of course, my mother didn't like birds, she said they were dirty and spread disease, and I got over that one.

I think what gets me about cats is that (at least as far as I can see) they don't really care whether you like them or not, and for someone with the character flaw of needing everyone to like her (that would be me), cats just don't fit the bill.  A dog or a bird will be utterly devoted to you, to the point of defending you against intruders, saving your life, etc.  I don't think I've ever heard of a cat saving anyone's life, or chasing an intruder off -- our cat generally disappears the moment anyone sets foot in the house.  I'm sure cat people out there will rush to set me straight about cats not caring -- maybe it's just that cats don't care about liking me.  I guess that could be the case.

October and I try to stay out of each other's way (except when he lies in the hall in the middle of the night -- a black cat in the dark) and generally tolerate each other (except for that time when he peed on the quilt on my side of the bed).  We get along all right. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Potluck


 [Linkup to the Creative Exchange]

I have traded way up in the in-laws department; yesterday we spent the afternoon on top of a mountain in Carmel Valley with my Loved One's relatives, and it was a wonderful time.  We were with my LO's sister, niece, nephew and his wife and kids, and her relatives galore, and all are just the nicest people you can imagine, ranchers and horse people.  

We were at a rustic house that had many flowers -- wildflowers in the lawn, then wisteria and a beautiful lilac bush, and many other flowers and vines that I couldn't identify.  Unfortunately, it was very windy, so I wasn't able to get as many decent pictures as I wanted to, but I got a couple.
We had tri-tip and ham, homemade sausage of various kinds, salads galore, my LO had made baked beans and corn chowder, and there was a delicious strawberry cake and strawberry-rhubarb pies.  We drove down the mountain filled with delicious food, laughter, and good fellowship.  It was a lovely day.

The picture at the top is one I took after we got home -- I had bought a couple of beautiful flowers at a little shop and went out at sunset to try to capture them again.  It's one of those pictures that makes me say, wow, how did that happen?  Something about the way my particular camera captured the light in that one, in addition to a few textures, of course.

Monday Monday -- back to work, hope everyone had a nice weekend no matter what you were celebrating -- Easter, Passover, Spring -- it's all good.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Potter's House


On Easter Sunday, I'd like to share my favorite gospel song with you -- written and performed by Tramaine Hawkins (and sung as a duet with Walter Hawkins), "The Potter's House" is a beautiful sentiment, that if you are "broken," you can go by the Potter's house, and "he'll mend the fragments of your broken life." 

Happy Easter, everyone.  May your life be renewed as the spring brings renewal to the earth.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

10 Things about Me


At the beginning of each semester, I have students get to know one another by playing a game.  They tell the class three things about themselves, one of which is not true, and the other students have to guess which one isn't true.  I like lists of things you might not guess about a person, so I'll do one here, except . . . one of these things isn't true.  

1.  I taught ballroom dancing at an Arthur Murray studio.

2.  I spent a summer in Germany with my relatives when I was in high school.

3.  I ice skated competitively as a kid and had dreams of going to the Olympics (all of which came to nothing).

4.  I had a poem published in a magazine when I was 15.

5.  I enjoy a kind of embroidery called "blackwork," which had its origin around the time of Queen Elizabeth (the first).

6.  After nearly flunking out of college the first time around, I graduated summa cum laude with my bachelor's degree.
7.  In my early 20's, I was part of a singing sextet at a fancy restaurant for a year.

8.  My mother was a successful artist whose line of sculptures was collectible and can be found on eBay.

9.  My father was in vaudeville at the age of five.

10.  I am a "bird person" who has had bird companions from a tiny parrotlet to a huge Moluccan cockatoo.

So which do you think is not true?  :) 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Contemporary Saints


In Buddhism, the term "Bodhisattva" refers to a person who has dedicated his or her life to bringing enlightenment to others and to alleviating the suffering of all sentient beings.  The Bodhisattva lives a life filled with compassion and love for all living things, and puts others and their needs before his or her own needs.  A person who embarks on the path of the Bodhisattva seeks to perfect him or herself in these areas:  1) generosity; 2) ethics; 3) patience; 4) effort; 5) concentration; and 6) wisdom.

Every now and then in our lives, we are fortunate enough to come across or become aware of someone who, whether they have actually committed themselves to this particular Buddhist way or not, is following the path of a Bodhisattva.  While we don't often think of him in this way, Jesus clearly lived the life of a Bodhisattva, and in many ways (though not all ways), the lives and views of Jesus and the Buddha are connected.  (In Living Buddha, Living Christ, Thich Nhat Hanh goes into detail about these connections.)

Today I would like to write about a Christian who embodied the principles of Bodhisattva, Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who is one of my real heroes.  Bonhoeffer was born into a life of privilege in Germany in the early 20th century; his father was a prominent neurologist and psychiatrist, and his college-educated mother  home-schooled her children to be strong both morally and intellectually.  Although he was expected to follow in his father's footsteps by going into medicine, Bonhoeffer decided quite early on that he wanted to be a theologian, about which his family was not particularly pleased.

When he pursued postgraduate study in New York at the Union Theological Seminary, Bonhoeffer was introduced to the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, which had a profound influence on his thinking.  In coming to know the black community, in his words he "turned from phraseology to reality," as he was confronted with issues of social justice and with the Church's seeming inability to right some of the wrongs he was seeing.  This eventually led to his transformation from a theologian, mainly concerned with ideas, to a pastor, and to his ordination in 1931 at the age of 25.

The rise of Hitler and the Nazi party threw the German Evangelical Church into confusion; a significant segment of the church not only went along with Nazi ideology but supported its principles outright.  Bonhoeffer, however, opposed it from the beginning, only two days after Hitler became Chancellor going on the radio and warning people against the new regime.  He took position after position against Hitler and his policies (including Hitler's forced "elections" of church officials that installed people supportive of his policies), refusing, for example, to endorse a policy that prohibited non-Aryans from filling parish posts.

By 1935, Bonhoeffer was working actively in an underground seminary for pastors of what had been named the "Confessing Church," ministers who opposed the Nazi regime.  When his physical seminary was closed by the Gestapo, Bonhoeffer continued his work, moving from town to town to supervise the pastors of the resistance.  In 1938, the Gestapo banned Bonhoeffer from Berlin.  After a brief sojourn in the United States, and against the advice of friends who told him to stay there, Bonhoeffer returned to Germany, convinced that "I must live through this difficult period in our national history with the people of Germany."

By 1941, Bonhoeffer was forbidden to speak in public or to publish his writing.  Through one of his brothers-in-law, he was connected to the Resistance movement that was plotting against Hitler, and he began serving as a courier for the Resistance and helping Jews to escape to Switzerland.

In 1943, Bonhoeffer was arrested, along with his brother-in-law, and he continued his religious work in prison, turning down one opportunity to escape because he didn't want to bring Nazi wrath down on members of his family, many of whom were actively opposing Hitler.  He continued his ministry for the next two years, during which he was moved to several prisons and to the Buchenwald and then Flossenbuerg concentration camps.

In April of 1945 he was condemned for his involvement in plots against Hitler, and Pastor Bonhoeffer was executed at the Flossenbuerg camp, just one month before the Nazis' surrender.  Within the same month, Bonhoeffer's brother Klaus and two of his brothers-in-law were also executed.  Bonhoeffer left a message, "This is the end -- for me, the beginning of life," and an observer said of his execution that he was "brave and composed . . . and entirely submissive to the will of God."

Pastor Bonhoeffer is memorialized as a 20th century martyr in Westminster Abbey, along with Martin Luther King and others.  I think on this Good Friday it's important to remember those who have lived a life of compassion and good intentions, no matter what their religious orientation is.  I'd like Pastor Bonhoeffer to be better known in the U.S. for his life and work.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pigeon Point Diary


Four years ago, my Loved One gave me a camera for Christmas, a Canon S2.  While technically this was still a point-and-shoot camera, it far surpassed anything I'd had before to take snapshots (something I almost never did, in any case).  Because my first response to almost anything is "get a book on it," I ordered Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure and began to devour it.  

I leapt right in and began trying the things he was suggesting.  One that caught my attention was to take a picture of the same thing every day for a year, in different seasons, different times of day, different light, and so on.  Since I had a huge commute that took me up and down the coast highway every working day, I looked for something I could use for that project, and there really was only one choice:  the Pigeon Point Lighthouse.

I began the project right away.  Every time I drove by the lighthouse, at least 8 times a week, I photographed it.   I tried every conceivable vantage point, stopped in every kind of weather, was there at dawn, sunset, and almost every time in between, at some point.

[Linkup to Texture Thursday]

Bryan Peterson says that if you do this exercise, by the end of a year, ". . . you'll have amassed a knowledge and insight about light that few professional photographers -- and even fewer amateurs -- possess."  I learned many, many things about photography from taking pictures of the lighthouse -- exposure, perspective, composition, framing, when you can hand-hold and when you need a tripod, and the certainty that the biggest wave will break spectacularly the second after you've given up and turned the camera off.

I know that many people join a "365" group, in which they pledge to take a picture a day (at least) for a year, and I know you can learn a lot from that, too.  But if you have a fixed landmark or vista or something you can take pictures of over and over again, you should give it a try.  It's extremely educational.

If you'd like to look at my Pigeon Point set on flickr, you can see it here.  Happy shooting, everyone -- it's almost the weekend!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011



Well, that's just about all I can say about today -- yuck.  I had one of those classroom days that is just a disaster -- my computer (without which I can't teach) wouldn't fire up; I tried everything and then in desperation, a hard reboot by removing the battery -- twice.  Once it decided to come on and load Windows, the projection was askew, in the sense that half of the powerpoint was off the side of the screen, not visible.  I had to call a tech person one day to fix that (I thought somehow the projector had gotten knocked off balance), and she said the problem was that I needed to refresh my desktop -- who would have thought that?  So I did that today -- nothing.  I did it again and rebooted -- nothing.  Still askew.  I decided we'd have to live with it.  Then the powerpoint wouldn't advance to the next slide, either with the remote or with me walking over to the computer and pushing the button. 

I was about ready to call it a day (five minutes after the class started), but forged on and wished I hadn't.  Four weeks before the end of the semester, half the class was absent, and the other half wasn't talking -- it happens, I blame myself, but that doesn't make it easier.  I wound up letting everyone go a few minutes early, and all I can do is hope that next time is better.

So I got home and decided to do something for Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday.  Pretty much the only thing that came out well today.  Some nice ranunculi, using her "Sweet Treat" and "Silence" textures.  Thanks, Kim, for giving a lift to my day.

    [Linkup to Texture Tuesday]

Tomorrow has to be better.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cutting for Stone


For many years of my life, I wanted to be a doctor.  I was aided and abetted by my dad, who gave me a book called Understanding Surgery as a 12th-birthday present, and who through his connections to the American Heart Association, introduced me to Dr. C. Walton Lillehei, the father of open heart surgery.  Though my life ultimately took a different turn, I have an abiding interest in science in general and medicine in particular.

This is what led me to Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese, when it was recommended to me on What Should I Read Next?, as part of the Take a Chance Challenge on the Life With Books blog. It's not the kind of book I would typically read, because most of it takes place in Africa, and I very rarely read something set outside the US or Europe -- I'm kind of embarrassed to say that, but that's what I usually read.  Cutting for Stone ranges from  India to Ethiopia to Eritrea to the United States, and I found particularly interesting the descriptions of the scenery and life in Ethiopia, a country about which I know very little.

Verghese's book is about twin boys, Marion and Shiva, who are born to a nun who's hidden her pregnancy from everyone including the father, a brilliant surgeon.  The boys are raised at the hospital where they were born, by neither parent but by a group of dedicated people who love them, their adoptive parents Hema and Ghosh, various nannies and other hospital personnel.  The story, told by Marion,  follows the boys from their birth through adulthood.

The plot has many twists and turns, and I don't want to say too much about them, but I do want to talk about the book itself -- it is so beautifully written, the language is lush and gorgeous, and I don't know when I've enjoyed a book so much.  It's the kind of big novel that makes you go more and more slowly toward the end, because you don't want it to end.  It's funny and sad and so richly imagined that it's breathtaking.

And it includes medicine and surgery.  A lot of medicine and surgery, in great detail.  This may mean that those faint of heart might not enjoy the more graphic passages, and there are more than a few.  Dr. Verghese is just that -- a doctor, on the faculty at Stanford University Medical School, and that shows.  It makes the book very authentic, in my opinion.

I'm actually recommending the audio version of the book, here, which I listened to on my endless commute back and forth to work.  It's 28 hours long, and I loved every single minute of it.  The reader, Sunil Malhotra, is wonderful, doing an amazing job with a wide range of accents and characters.  If you like audio books, this is a great one.  At times I just sat in the car and listened, to finish whatever scene I was on at that moment.

I've written very few fan letters in my reading life -- three, to be exact.  There may be a fourth in the works, because I loved this book so much.  It's highly recommended.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thanks, everyone --


A milestone -- 1000 page views!  Thank you very much!  Here's a rose for my readers:

When I get to 50 followers, I'll have to have a give-away . . .  :)

On Religion


I was, as they say, brought up in church.  My great uncle and his father were ministers, my father thought about being a minister, my parents married in the church they met in as kids, my dad was a regular soloist in the choir, my mom and I added our voices to the chorus, we never missed a Sunday (or Wednesday choir practice).  I was baptized, Sunday-schooled, confirmed, Luther-leagued, vacation-Bible-schooled, church retreated, and communioned for all the years of my growing up.  My sister and I had a plaque with the "Now I lay me down to sleep" prayer on our bedroom wall.  About the same time as I learned "The ABC song," I learned that "Jesus loves the little children."  Not going to church, not believing, was not an option.

Now . . . I have a tangled, complicated relationship with religion.  Do I go to church?  No.  Do I believe in God?  I don't know.  But I love sitting in an empty church better than sitting just about anywhere, I love the music, from my beloved Bach to Walter Hawkins (who passed away last year -- sing with the angels, Walter).   Icons decorate the walls of my house and office, I love the King James Bible (and will never ever switch to the newer versions), and I read many books not only about "spirituality" in general, but about Christianity in particular, mostly Christian history.  I recently bought a book about the saints, one for each day of the year, gorgeously illustrated.  I have a very nice book in which Thich Nhat Hanh talks about Jesus and the Buddha.  Every month, I contribute  to a monastery in Big Sur that prays for me (and everyone else) daily.  I seek out missions, cathedrals, wherever I go, and I have a St. Michael medal in my wallet and on the sun visor of my car.

Jesus by mythlady

I don't know what I am.  I guess I'll always be a Lutheran, not a Christian (to be honest, I don't understand when people say they are "Christian" rather than Baptist or Episcopalian -- I think I'm behind the times).  At Easter time, my thoughts take up the memories I have of Tenebrae services, of my beloved pastor fasting and praying from Good Friday until Sunday, of my father singing the part of Jesus in "The Seven Last Words of Christ" (of my brother, maybe age three, standing up in the pew, pointing up at the choir loft, and saying, "That's my dad!").

I don't want to be a foxhole Christian, calling on God or Jesus only in time of need, but I can't ever get the word "atheist" to come out of my mouth, either.  I guess I'm still a seeker, and maybe I always will be. 

Bishop Walter Hawkins, "What Is This?"

I'm happy to say that I met Bishop Hawkins once, some years back, and was able to tell him how much his music meant to me.  He touched a lot of people's lives through his ministry.

Saturday, April 16, 2011



First, the reception for the exhibit on Wednesday was very nice -- we had quite good attendance, lots of nice food, and lots of interest in both paintings and photos.

Just a couple of pretty poor pics of the exhibit -- unfortunately, the lighting in the long hallway is not good, and only a couple of the pics came out reasonably well.  But these are five of my photos, on the left.

The picture of the tree is mine, as is the framed one to the left (I wish these were better!  Maybe I'll take some more.)  The tree one sold before the exhibit was even hung :)

You can't see this one too well, but it's my favorite -- the Madonna I took in Mexico in February.  The frame ($2.00 at a garage sale) is fabulous, now that my friend Jana touched it up all gold.  It was a very nice event, and I was pleased with how it all went.

And this is my haul from this morning -- my village is having a community-wide garage sale, so I was out at the crack of dawn, looking for frames.  I hit the mother lode at one place, an estate sale of a woman who had been a painter.  I got a bunch of nice frames from that place, and one or two others from a number of different stops, maybe 15 in all.

My next event is at the end of July, when I am part of the "Summer Art in the Garden" series at Wisteria, an antiques and garden place near where we live.  I'm thrilled to be part of the series, and am stocking up on vintage-y frames I can use to showcase my pictures.  I'm really looking forward to it, and will be going full steam ahead once school is over (4 more weeks!!!).

For now, I have to get a couple of pieces together to hang in the store on consignment, something I'm very excited about.  That way, maybe people will see my work and be interested enough to come in July to see more.  Oh, or buy something right there and then :)

Happy Saturday to one and all --

Friday, April 15, 2011



[Linkup to Macro Friday]

I think that today is a count-my-blessings kind of day.  Here is my gratitude list:

1)   My Loved One is feeling much better.  He's been improving every day and now is getting around more and more.

2)   It's a nice, sunshiny day -- not too hot and not too cold.

3)   My "Blaze of Glory" rose is about to burst into, well, a blaze of glory.

4)   Tomorrow I start a four-Saturday class on botanical illustration at the local community college -- I'm very excited about that.

5)   My drawing class has started and I'm happy the way my first pastel drawing (of mushrooms) came out.   The pears . . . not so much, but hey, I've never used pastels before.  And never drawn a thing before 10 weeks ago.

6)   Eight more teaching days and the semester/year is over.  Enough said.

7)   The reception for my exhibit the other day was great -- many people came, they were excited about my work, found it very unusual and interesting, and I got a couple of inquiries about prints . . . it was great.

Well, that's about it for today.  What's on your gratitude list?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My happy ending --


The theme over at "Another Day, Another Diaper" (great blog title) today is "transportation," and in searching for an appropriate photo to link up, I came across this old one of my son:

 [Linkup to Theme Thursday]

I love this picture, which was taken by his cousin Aubree while we were in Florida for a very happy occasion:  the wedding of Ed and me in 2006 (while I didn't take the picture, I did give it its Miami Vice treatment).  We were married in Florida because Ed's mother, 96 years of age and still in her own house, lived there, and we wanted her to share the day with us.  My sister, Deb, came down from Minnesota with Aubree, and our children, Devin and Grace, came from California with us, so it was a very small but happy event.

I had arranged things over the internet with a non-denominational minister, who looked into our being able to be married at a nice park, in a gazebo overlooking a small lake, made the dinner reservations for us, and told us all we needed to do.  We had one other guest -- an elderly man with whom Ed played tennis during the time that he had lived in Florida, near his mom.  Joe walked over from the tennis courts to join us.  We also had some observers, skateboarding kids whom the minister shooed off the steps leading up to the gazebo, so we could have our little ceremony.  They retreated to a picnic table nearby and waited patiently for us to be finished.

Aside from the fact that it was a very windy day, all went off without a hitch but with many smiles and tears.  We went to a lovely place for dinner, where Ed (a chef for many years) took pictures of each person's dinner plate, but not a single picture of the wedding party.  Something to laugh about at this point . . . 

I stand as living proof that life is not over even if  you find yourself divorced at the age of 55 -- you can find true love and happiness, if you just make the leap and take some steps toward making yourself happy.  By deciding that I would rather be 55 years old and alone for the rest of my life than continue in an unhappy marriage, I opened myself up to finding a wonderful man and a having very happy ending.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Big Day


Today's a big day for me and my friends Margaret and Rozan -- the three of us (two painters and a photographer) are having an exhibit at San Francisco State University, and today's the reception.  I'm very excited -- I had another show several years ago, when frankly I was still a "budding" photographer, and I've come so far since then that I'm eager to have people see what I'm doing now.  

A number of the pictures I'm showing, I've already put in the blog, but here are a couple more.  

Of course, I'll take pictures today -- The exhibit looks very nice, the way the photos and paintings are  displayed.  Got to run but will update after the big event!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The impermanence of things


I used to drive by this old house every time I went to work.  I found it quite photogenic and took pictures of it many times, hopping out of the car to catch it at a different time of day or different light.  I liked the picture I took one day of a farm worker riding his bicycle through the field.

Then one day as I went by . . . it was gone; it had finally collapsed.  And within a few days all the remains had been removed, so now it's as if it never existed.

Very few things are permanent -- rocks, maybe, but even those get worn away and turned into sand.  Certainly many of the things I love -- flowers, birds, a beautiful day, the seasons -- are here and then gone, and they leave behind a kind of nostalgia mixed with hope, that they will come again some time.
[Link to Texture Tuesdays]
Photography can at least make things semi-permanent, can fix them in time so that we can go back and enjoy the images of things past.  Somewhere, that farm worker is always riding past the ramshackle old house, and somewhere, the flowers always bloom.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

More Flowers


Just a couple more flowers for today -- maybe an update later, but both the Loved One and I are pretty exhausted from his week of convalescence, and I'm so far behind at work; I need today and tomorrow to get caught up.

But of course, flowers are calling my name.  Here's another lilac and a little rosebud from my "Blaze of Glory" rose.  If you like roses, it is the most prolific grower and bloomer -- here in California, it blooms most of the  year, wave after wave of blossoms.  It's not my favorite color (pretty much hot pink), but I love that it blooms and blooms.

  [Linkup to Color Splash Sunday]

Have a great Sunday --