Wednesday, September 8, 2010

September 's Song

 What an interesting time of the year is September. The air changes, it's hard to describe but there is a brittleness to the evening air and the days, while hot, still tell that there is a change coming. It's one of those things that you either notice or you don't. There is no real way to explain, it just is, like a lot things.

If you work in education it means the end of summer and girding yourself up for the next three months until the next vacation, Christmas. I come from a family of in-laws who are all in education. I worked in higher ed, community college, and it means something different, whether you are faculty or support staff. Most support staff work all summer but faculty have the summer off, for the most part. I don't want to offend any friends with this.

There are really pungent memories of starting school as a kid. New clothes, new pencils, pens and now days a new backpack. I don't remember hauling anything back and forth to school but a lunch until high school. In the winter it became, coat, hat and boots. It seems like everyone went out and bought the wool skirts, all the truly fall clothes but where I grew up, September was one of the hotter months of the year. So you are sitting there just roasting, but in your new clothes because it was extremely important to wear your new clothes to the first day of school. Also new shoes and socks.

Squeaky shoes, new shoes, every kid gets some shoes. 

Tie shoes, buckle shoes, flats and white buck shoes, 

Brown shoes, red shoes, shiny patent leather shoes.

Sneaker shoes, high heel shoes gotta get your new shoes.

"Pardon me Roy . . .
Is that the cat that ate your new shoes? "

That's it. No shoes is bad news. Enjoy your shoes!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Boon Companion

How wonderful to have boon companions to be with along the road. I think there is a quote that talks about boon companions but I can't think of it at the moment.
Sitting down to write I often don't know where I'm going with my thoughts. So, I begin and hope that the words will come and that I'll have something worthy of saying that you may find of interest.

Definition of BOON

: benefit, favor; especially : one that is given in answer to a request
: a timely benefit : blessing
What an interesting word! I think a "boon companion has been provided to me many times."  Benefit, favor a companion to walk beside you during journeys joyful and agonizing, and in answer to a request. How many times have you expressed the desire for a friend, someone to walk with you through a diffcult time and they have been provided.


noun, often attributive \kəm-ˈpan-yən\

Definition of COMPANION

: one that accompanies another : comrade, associate; also : one that keeps company with another
obsolete : rascal
a : one that is closely connected with something similar b : one employed to live with and serve another
: a celestial body that appears close to another but that may or may not be associated with it in space 

I believe the combination of boon and companion tells of a deep and sometimes temporary bringing together of people to walk a path. One such instance has arisen in my life recently that has caused me to meditate on these words. A friend and dear lady and her husband have received news that he has pancreatic cancer with but a short time to live. My prayer and hope is that I can be a boon companion to them in the difficult days ahead. The doctor has given him a very short time line and so many large and small decisions to make and long painful emotional and physical days. These friends will need "boon companions" to be there with them. I am but one companion given for this time.  

Who is your boon companion? Do you have one now, in the past? For many that companion is a dog and in doing research images of dogs alone and with their companions has show up regularly. I like the image of a boon companion, someone to be with me through good and bad times, sickness and health, rich or poor .... wait, that sounds like my wonderful husband or my best friend, always there to help and encourage, we are definitely a blessing to one another and hopefully to those around us.

May your life be filled with boon companions and, support and encouragement in all things. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Tuesday a friend of mine who is an artist/jewelry maker/designer and a great encourager was talking about starting a blog. I told her it's easy and that I have one, then sent her the address so she could check it out. I told her I would help her set her's up. Later that day I received an email from her. She liked my blog and mentioned particularly that my writing was good and why didn't I consider writing?

Well, hmmm, yet another "validation" of my so called talents. I decided that I needed to take a look at my blog and see if I agreed with her assessment.  I think I kind of Lso I am blogging again for how ever long I feel moved.

Years ago my high school art teacher said something like " . . . art is 5% talent and 95% hard work. . ." In thinking about that now I realize that the 95% is comprised of discipline, education and consistently doing what ever it is that you want to do! It does take talent its true but you can't make it without the other 95%. The practice will do much to help me keep going and keeping going is accomplished by just DOING IT.

Learning to play an instrument, for me it was the guitar, was the doing it. Every day, working at holding those strings a little tighter, moving a little faster, stretching those fingers to cover more of the fret board and strings. I had a "talent" for playing the instrument but unless I was willing to have the discipline to work everyday I never would have made it. Playing the guitar has been a lifelong pursuit and I must say, that discipline has not been practiced and I'm pretty rusty now. Until about ten years ago I was playing regularly. There were many small victories along the way, not the lease of which was learning and being able to use bar chords. They're hard because you have to bar a fret with your index finger and then use the rest of them to hold a chord.

Me, aunt Norma and uncle Joe, circa 1980

I began with the ukulele when I was in fourth grade. Never mind that I really wanted a piano I got a uke. My mom, grandmother, great aunt and uncle all played uke's and I even took lessons. Mom was great about taking me every week to a lesson and I really enjoyed it. The family sitting around singing and playing loomed large in my upbringing. My dad played the harmonica, by ear, couldn't read a note of music. When I consider that now it's pretty amazing.  I learned to play by ear as well as follow chords for the uke and the guitar. 

The practicing I did on my first guitar was pretty painful. The guitar cost five dollars and the fret board and neck were so warped the strings sat about a half an inch off the fret board. This made for some challenging playing. Also the tuning pegs were missing so to tune the guitar took pliers. And I did all that. I think I was pretty motivated. The first month or so I gradually built up callouses which peeled and hurt and bled until they achieved the proper tempering.

The sixties was a good time to play the guitar. Folk music was in it's heyday and hootnanys abounded especially when I was at college in sixty-two and three.  I had a good voice and often sang  500 miles in the Mary Travers style. Joan Baez had produced a record of many of the Child's Ballads which were also favorites of mine. Endless verses of the travails of time. These ballads became the backbone of many of the folk ballads of the time.

Then . . . I met a man/guy and fell in love. Trouble was, he could play any instrument with very little effort. I was very intimidated and didn't really play at all during the five years we were together. I hated him for that and myself for allowing that to happen. I lost a lot of joy during that time. Then . . . he went his way and me and my guitar went another, re-reunited once again we began a tender, and tenuous relationship, and I found my voice.

The guitar became my entre to lots of growing experiences which I won't go into at this time. Maybe in the future. But, music had once again become primary in my life.

All this is a long way around to talk about doing and discipline but it is a fact, without those I would not have had as satisfying a life as I have.

The take away? Apply myself, practice, write, quilt, make jewelry, any of those things that help my creativity to grow and blossom. At this time, my guitar is in the closet and has been since we moved here three years ago. I need to get re-acquainted with my instrument. Whether it is in music, quilting, jewelry making or writing. It's time to get to "work" again on those sustaining activities that I've set aside.

More to come for sure but right now . . . . my creativity is calling me.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rocks and Crashing Sounds

I choose that title because you may think I've been hiding under a rock somewhere...I have I think but I'm ready to stick my nose out. The crashing sounds come from the sound of silence being broken after a long hiatus. Not a particularly productive time exactly but an interesting time.

I do feel to begin by apologizing is no way to get back into writing, so if you are really, truly curious about the rock I've been under, ask me and I'll try to answer. In the meantime, I just want to write.

In the last month I've been encouraged by at least three people to get serious about my art. I know I don't want to go into business with my art (quilts, jewelry, knitting) I just want to create. If someone likes it great but I'm not going to advertise my stuff. Now, there are those out there who wonder why not? Well, I'm good at creating but forget marketing and business savy. I'm an artist, not an MBA thank you very much.
Some how having to go out and beat the bush trying to convince folks that they need to buy my "stuff/art" has no appeal what so ever.

I find it very difficult to express all that I have to say in one sitting. Then because I save it with the intention of coming back and finishing I often just don't bother. Sleeping on it isn't always the best way to do things but it is often called for.

Now about my work/stuff/art. I was in Southern California for about three weeks in July and August. My uncle who I was visiting loves to go to see art so we made a stop at a local gallery in Vista where he lives. I am not sure exactly how the conversation started but there was some very beautiful beaded jewelry. I was talking with the artist about her work and also ended up in a conversation with another artist. I showed her some pictures of my work (bless my iPhone). The first thing she asked is if I had a website. I assured her I did not."Well why not" she asked. I answered "because I don't take myself seriously." What a sad statement about my regard for what I do. Her words in return were "well you should." Properly chastised I spent quite a bit of time chewing on that and asking myself..."well, why the hell not?" How can I expect anyone else to take my work seriously if I don't. Good question don't you think?

Flash forward to a recent martini and jewelry party. The artist whose jewelry was being shown was/is truly an exceptional artist. She works in her craft daily and makes amazing jewelry. So, I showed her some of my seed bead embellished bracelets and other work. She remarked particularly that I should enter my bracelets in a seed bead competition explaining that she felt very confident that my work would place! is another person validating my worth as an artist. And this gal should know because she works for a large international supplier called Fire Mountain Gems. Okay...more to think over an absorb.

I'm expressing all this because I need to do so. Seeing in writing what others have said validates me and my work.

So, that said I'd like to insert here a wonderful short film from YouTube called "Validation." It is a film that should be viewed often, at least once a week. It's clever and very true. I hope you will enjoy this film. Watch often as it will help you get through those ghastly red meanie days..

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Dark and the Daylight

"Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day's occupation,
That's known as the children's hour."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I know I said I was going to talk about movies and food, and in a way this will be about movies, but not the movie "The Children's Hour" but about another movie altogether. What I want to introduce you to is my a movie called "Parenthood". I don't remember when or where I saw this movie but I own the VHS and I watch it often. It is on the top of my list as far as movies go. There are others but this one had quite an effect on me when I first saw it as a struggling step-mom.

What is was remarkable about this movie to me is . . . being a parent was something I came by through marriage by my husband had/has two daughters who were nine and eleven when we married. I was an only child who had never really been around kids that age except when I babysat at that age myself. It was pretty foreign to me and scary.

In "Parenthood" Steve Martin plays a pretty uptight stressed out dad. Father of three, with a wife who has really lost her identity raising three kids, the eldest of whom is having some learning issues and may need to be enrolled in a "special" class. Diane Weist plays a single mom with two kids who are really struggling with the divorce of the parents, their own raging hormones and wanting to be independent.

There is also and really wonderful grandmother, who reminds me very much of my own great-grandmother. She is probably eighty-five plus and filled with the wisdom that can only be acquired through time and living.

The parents of Steve Martin's character have another son who just can't seem to get it together, gambles and is always looking for a "sure thing", get rich quick, with little effort on his own. There are other folks in the movie but I don't want to bore you with a long, blow-by-blow of the whole story.

What I took away from this wonderful movie is that, life is unpredictable, scary and wonderful all at the same time, like a roller coaster. What I found here was a beautiful assemblage of people who represented a cross section of a lot of parents in America. They worry about their kids, will they be smart, will the catch the ball thereby spoiling the other teams hopes of a home run. The daughter who just can't wait to grow up but who is still in high school and in LOVE. The eleven year old boy who is just angry about the loss of his dad, confused about sex and a mom who is so caught up in trying to survive and keep the family afloat but who just doesn't seem to have time to really reach out to the kids.

The young man who is the love interest of the daughter has some great line which I've posted here. I hope the language doesn't offend anyone. Remember, it's his words not mine but I think they really embrace a very profound thought about parenting.

"Cowboy Gil" rescues his nine year old's birthday party when Cowboy Bob is accidentally sent to the wrong party and a stripper shows up for the nine year old's party. I love it. This dad is desperate to have this party be a success so he finds a child sized cowboy hat, makes chaps from a round, green bathroom mat that he splits up the middle and ties on with string. He has pizza cutters attached to his boots for spurs and a child's vest and the red bandanna. Somehow he captures the essence of a cowboy and those little boys buy it. They understand that it is all a made up thing but they are willing to just go with it anyway.

I love this movie. Yes it is a bit sentimental, so what's wrong with sentiment? Real life doesn't always come with everything resolved, but this movie certainly takes you through the pain, laughter and hope that most of us parents feel, on a good day. We want out kids to succeed and be happy, what parent doesn't? "Parenthood" just does it all so deftly, humorously and with such tenderness. I just think that anyone out there who is a parent needs to encouragement and shoring up this flick can provide. It is a feel good movie that shows the ups and downs. It is a great cast, really great. It's a great movie, enjoy the preview. It says in video what I've been saying in words. Enjoy.

Friday, January 1, 2010

What to Ponder in Your Wandering Mind

I have read and heard that writers should write about something they know. Well, if you're like me, you know a little about a lot of things. So, I was thinking this morning as I was fixing brunch, how do I know what I like, what am I passionate about and what do I know. I wondered how do I grasp hold of that. I decided that, for me, the things I'm passionate about, are the things that are there in my mind when its on a sort of auto-pilot. What was it? What was I thinking about as I stood there with my hands and pans moving automatically but my brain was wandering through? It was first, movies and second, not surprising,was food.

I am the adult version of a child who grew up in Southern California, 30 minutes (at that time) from Hollywood and Vine, the studios, and all those things that you think of when you think So. Ca. Going to Disneyland was like going to the zoo, readily available and cheap! In 1950s-early 60s you could have a really great time at Disneyland including something to eat, a book of tickets and admission for about $5.00. I know, it sounds amazing and it was.

However,that is not what I want to write about today. I realized as I stood there, that I absolutely loved movies and food, and, I loved food/cooking and most especially movies about food. There are quite a few examples about food movies, most recently "Julie and Julia," then there was "The Big Night" and a real classic is "Babette's Feast." If you haven't seen Babette's Feast, do, rent it, or steal it but watch it because it is perfect and wonderful. We took our daughters to see it in the theater, their first foreign movie with subtitles and then after the movie, dinner. It was great for all of us to experience. It is a classic is the most literal sense of the word.

Also, as I stood there, I was thinking about the movie I watched last night as the New Year crept in. "Gran Torino" and I thought first that it was a wonderfully crafted movie, Clint Eastwood is amazing. His body of work in Hollywood is beyond my ability to express its wonder. But I was also thinking about the other actors who were in the movie with him, young people who were getting the opportunity to not only act in a movie directed by him, but to also work with him as he acted his part. What an amazing time for all of them. I get the sense the Clint (hope he doesn't mind first name basis) is a teacher of his craft and those who are lucky enough to be in the same space as him for a movie walk away with the most incredible experience imaginable. I'm not interested in doing a critique or review of the movie as much as talking about the process.

Movies have become incredibly complex and multi-layered, with almost more post production work than actual live action. One that jumps to my mind is "Avatar". Wow, so many new ground was broken with that. Yeah, it didn't have a great plot, and the script wasn't remarkable, but everything after that was. I did see it in Real 3D and it was amazing. The creativity that flowed through that movie was boundless. I just kept being blown away by what came next. As most of the reviews have said, it doesn't have a lot of plot strength but I don't think that is what most people who saw it were looking for. It was the up close, real encounter with a new world created in the studio and in the computer. Wow, have we come a long way.

I guess this is my new train of thought about my blog. I know that nothing I've talked about here is earth shaking but, I am finding what drives me and what it is that inspires me to write. I hope you will enjoy the journey too. I welcome your feedback, good or bad.

I have plans to share some of my favs about movies and food so you will find some links here pretty soon. Until then, keep watching those movies and cooking and eating. They go together surprisingly well.