Saturday, October 31, 2009

Silly Photo Saturday

This is a silly photo of Emily when she was much smaller and I could still pick her up with one hand. The top photo is a more recent view of Emily allowing us to occupy her space and pay attention to her. When I take her to the vet, the techs always ask when they bring her out, "Who belongs to Emily?" Cats don't belong to people, it is the people who are lucky enough to belong to the cat.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury,pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen
This has always been one of my favorite prayers (and songs) and I thought appropriate to share today. Sorry for our loss of another great woman in our family, our memories remain to find joy in the days ahead. You are all in my heart and prayers.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Japanese Bonsai

Bonsai was introduced to Japan during the Kamakura period (1185 - 1333) by means of Zen Buddhism and is something to be enjoyed all over the world today. The philosophy of bonsai has changed through the years because of the different cultures who adopted this artform around the world. Bonsai artists gradually looked into introducing other culturally important elements in their bonsai plantings such as rocks, supplementary and accent plants, and even small buildings and people. To the Japanese, bonsai represents a fusion of strong ancient beliefs with the philosophies of the harmony between man, the soul and nature.

The Japanese use traditional native bonsai plants such as pine, azaleas, and maple to grow in their own little containers, separate from the earth but still part of nature. This is what is meant by the expression "heaven and earth in one place."
A bonsai tree should always be positioned off-center in its container, for not only for its asymmetry, but the center point is symbolically where heaven and earth meet. Another aesthetic principle is the triangular pattern necessary for visual balance and for expression of the relationship shared by the universe, the artist, and the tree. Tradition holds that three basic virtues are necessary to create a bonsai: shin-zen-bi standing for truth, goodness and beauty.
"To appreciate and find pleasure in curiously curved potted trees is to love deformity." I enjoyed learning about these special little plants at the botanical gardens in Huntsville and I liked the bonsai that has roots that looks like a hand with a big, puffy sleeve of leaves!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Feathery Clouds

You must not blame me if I do talk to the clouds - Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Silly Photo Saturday

Every October, they have a Scarecrow trail at the botanical gardens in Huntsville so I went for a walk there this past week when it was a beautiful autumn day here and enjoyed the warm sunshine. These are some of my favorites but there are many more than this selection.
Good news! I'm the featured artist of the day at today.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Halloween Traditions

The holidays bring tradition, whether it's something you make up in your own family or from something of long ago and sometimes you just have to ask why we do these things-just for the sake of tradition?

Halloween has ghost stories, trick-or-treating, and bobbing for apples, among many other traditional themes and party games but where did these traditions come from?

"Halloween" comes from the words "All Hallows Eve" since the next day (November 1) is "All Hallows Day" or as we commonly call it, "All Saints Day" in the Catholic Church, the day of observance to honor the saints. So why do we need to know about Halloween? I can remember going to mass on Halloween with my costume on, waiting patiently (or not!) to go trick-or-treating afterwards.

Summer officially ended in Celtic Ireland on October 31, way back in the 5th century BC and this was called Samhain, or what we might call the Celtic New Year. So it was believed, on October 31, the disembodied spirits of those who died the year before would return searching for living bodies to possess. The living did not want to be possessed so they would dress up in ghoulish costumes and parade around the neighborhoods, being destructive so as to frighten away the spirits.

The Romans adopted the Celtic practices, but also celebrated their own traditions that occurred in October, such as the day to honor Pomona, the goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol for Pomona is the apple, which might explain our modern tradition of bobbing for apples at Halloween parties.

Many years later, ghost stories came about during Halloween in Ireland. It was said that if someone had died the previous year and you were still holding a grudge against that person, he or she would appear to you on the evening before All Saints Day. You'd be so startled you'd run to do whatever would make your forgiveness complete. Not a bad reminder any time of the year!

Our tradition of going trick-or-treating goes back to Irish farmers would go door-to-door collecting food and materials for a village feast and bonfire. Those who gave were promised prosperity and those who did not received threats of bad luck. When an influx of Irish Catholic immigrants came to the United States in the 1800's, (potato famine) the custom of trick-or-treating came with them.

Our tradition of pumpkin carving also goes back to the Irish, who would carve turnips and place lighted candles inside to ward off the spirits. When the Irish came to America, they discovered the pumpkin as a larger substitute for the turnip. And so, we now carve pumpkins instead of turnips for Halloween. Carving pumpkins has come a long way since then, even as an artform for some, carving elaborate scenes or portraits out of pumpkins.

Our family tradition may not make any sense to anyone else, but we have pancakes for our traditional Halloween dinner. It was something quick to make that we all enjoyed and could get on with the business of going trick-or-treating and passing out treats to those who came to our door. Then we could watch "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" which is still one of my favorites today. That was started when our kids were very young and they asked if we could do that every year! Now, when I ask if anyone wants pancakes, they like to reply, "Is it Halloween already?"

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thankful Thursday

These cute little pumpkins are twins, even though they are not so little anymore. Today I'm thankful for all the pumpkins in my life, the cute little ones and the bigger ones too. They have all made my life a little more interesting and certainly a lot of fun.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cat Towels

My latest project completed-embroidered cat dish towels. I have been embroidering lately "for my mom" since she has to take a break until she recovers from this latest eye surgery, hope it will be the last for her.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Silly Saturday photo

This silly photo makes me laugh every time I see it, my toothless little smiling witch and the cat in the hat with his floppy bowtie and hat that was too big. That was Eddie and Mary when they were in the first and third grade (2002). Now that it's only 2 weeks until Halloween, I wonder what they will dress up as this year?

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Tale of Jack O'Lantern

Jack, the Irish say, grew up in a simple village where he earned a reputation for cleverness as well as laziness. He applied his fine intelligence to wiggling out of any work that was asked of him, preferring to lie under a solitary oak endlessly whittling. In order to earn money to spend at the local pub, he looked for an "easy shilling" from gambling, a pastime at which he excelled. In his whole life he never made a single enemy, never made a single friend and never performed a selfless act for anyone.

One Halloween, as it happened, the time came for him to die. When the devil arrived to take his soul, Jack was lazily drinking at the pub and asked permission to finish his ale. The devil agreed, and Jack thought fast. "If you really have any power," he said slyly, "you could transform yourself into a shilling."
The devil snorted at such child’s play and instantly changed himself into a shilling. Jack grabbed the coin. He held it tight in his hand, which bore a cross-shaped scar. The power of the cross kept the devil imprisoned there, for everyone knows the devil is powerless when faced with the cross. Jack would not let the devil free until he granted him another year of life. Jack figured that would be plenty of time to repent. The devil left Jack at the pub.
The year rolled around to the next Halloween, but Jack never got around to repenting. Again the devil appeared to claim his soul, and again Jack bargained, this time challenging him to a game of dice, an offer Satan could never resist, but a game that Jack excelled at. The devil threw snake eyes—two ones—and was about to haul him off, but Jack used a pair of dice he himself had whittled. When they landed as two threes, forming the T-shape of a cross, once again the devil was powerless. Jack bargained for more time to repent.

He kept thinking he’d get around to repentance later, at the last possible minute. But the agreed-upon day arrived and death took him by surprise. The devil hadn’t showed up and Jack soon found out why not. Before he knew it Jack was in front of the pearly gates. St. Peter shook his head sadly and could not admit him, because in his whole life Jack had never performed a single selfless act. Then Jack presented himself before the gates of hell, but the devil was still seething. Satan refused to have anything to do with him.

"Where can I go?" cried Jack. "How can I see in the darkness?"

The devil tossed a burning coal into a hollow pumpkin and ordered him to wander forever with only the pumpkin to light his path. From that day to this he has been called "Jack o’ the Lantern." Sometimes he appears on Halloween!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Dish drying has never been one of my favorite things to do, now I just leave them to "air dry." So this is a rare photo of me actually trying to dry the dishes, and you can probably guess, it was more than a few years ago. Washing dishes has just been one of those chores that needed to be done and I usually don't complain about it. I think this is due to a little prayer that my mother has on a little plaque that hangs right next to her kitchen sink. A thankful prayer for washing dishes! I can't recall the entire prayer but I always remember the line that says "while others go hungry, my family eats very well." I think about that when I look at my big stack of dishes to wash and I'm thankful for being taught how to stretch a meal for my family and enjoy our meals together.

The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.-- Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wesley the owl

Owls are truely remarkable creatures and certainly earn the symbolism they portray, wisdom. Wesley was a smart little barn owl and his "person" was smart enough to write about his amazing life for everyone to have the opportunity to be educated about "the way of the owl." I'm not a biologist, but the more I read about Wesley, the more I wanted to know about this little barn owl and I enjoyed the photos along the way. I wrote a paper (long ago) about the northern spotted owl and their dwindling habitat (ancient forests) and I became intrigued with those little owls as well as those huge trees we were lucky enough to live near, but the closest I could get to the owls was at the program for the kids at the zoo. Those beautiful owls looked at everyone with their wise eyes and the kids had fun watching them turn their heads-and not their bodies!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Creative Cards

The brightly colored papers caught my attention yesterday since it was a good day to stay in and get creative. I decided to make some more fall cards but the colors of Christmas turned my attention to make a few Christmas cards. And that always fills my heart with joy.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Beautiful blue skies and warm weather are wonderful after so many rainy days we've had here lately. It is cloudy here again today so Emily and I are thankful for the beautiful autumn day that was here yesterday and we hope there will be more to come. Emily enjoys rolling around in the sunbeam that comes through the kitchen windows in the morning and we both know it's going to be a good day to open windows and let the breezes in and listen to the birds singing.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Sweet Treat

Honey is such a simple every day kind of pleasure, but it's also just something I don't have very often so it's a sweet treat for me. I often make these sandwiches during the cooler months as one of my comfort foods. You can't go wrong with peanut butter and add a banana so it seems healthier and then add some honey for that extra sweetness. Toast it all for some warm goodness and by all means, make extras to share.

While growing up, we always had a little bear jar of honey and I'm sure it was clover honey, consistant in color and taste so that's what I thought honey was supposed to taste like (as a rule.) As it turns out, there are so many different varieties of honey that it gives new meaning to the phrase "busy as a bee!"

The color and flavor of each kind of honey differs depending on the blossom the bee decides to visit. The colors range from very light, almost colorless, to a deep amber brown and usually the lighter the honey, the more mild of a taste it has while the darker honey is stronger, sometimes more bitter. Bees that visit orange trees produce a white to very light amber honey with a unique taste and aroma of orange blossoms. Of course, this honey is popular where they grow orange trees like Florida. Blueberry honey is from the white blossoms of the blueberry bush and it is also very light amber with a wonderful flavor, found in New England. Tupelo honey comes from the tupelo tree which grows clusters of greenish flowers which later develop into berry-like fruit. This honey has a mild flavor with just a hint of lemon and is also very light in color, very popular here in the southeast where the tupelo tree grows.

I would like to try out all these (300 or more!) varieties of honey and I wonder how they will taste with my peanut butter and banana sandwich?

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Harvest Moon

Tonight is supposed to be the viewing of the harvest moon. The harvest moon was originally thought to be the time for farmers to be able to get their harvest in by working a little later, using the light of the large orange moon. It is cloudy here already but I'm not losing hope. It is always exciting to view this extra large glowing moon, sometimes looking more orange. Astrologists usually call celestial bodies reddish in glow when they are close to the earth. The warm color is caused by the atmosphere, light and color are just things we perceive to be true, like the moon illusion of it being so huge in the sky. The moon hasn't changed size or color but it sure is beautiful to view, especially on this special occasion. So we may have to enjoy our hot cider and hot chocolate and view it through the clouds if we are lucky enough to see any of it, but we can remember what a beautiful sight the moon was last night, clear sky and full white moon.

It would be a wonderful night for harvest stew but I wasn't lucky enough to find any good produce yesterday so my family will have a big pot of beef and noodles instead, enough to share with our company tonight. That is reason enough to celebrate the harvest moon.

I don't know if there are many books about the harvest moon for adults, but I have been a Tomie dePaola fan for many years and have read his books to my kids (long ago) so I thought I would include this book today. He's an artist that makes it look easy and has a charm about him that makes all ages want to see more.

Under the Harvest Moon
By Carl Sandburg

Under the harvest moon,
When the soft silver
Drips shimmering
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to you
As a beautiful friend
Who remembers.

Under the summer roses
When the flagrant crimson
Lurks in the dusk
Of the wild red leaves,
Love, with little hands,
Comes and touches you
With a thousand memories,
And asks you
Beautiful, unanswerable questions.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

Aroma of Autumn

"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you." (Frank Lloyd Wright) I recently had a suggestion to pick up a fall leaf and smell it to enjoy the aroma of autumn. Watch out for the bugs. That's getting up close and personal with nature but I'm pretty sure I can smell the aroma of autumn by walking through some leaves, letting the wind carry its scent. The scent is intensified after a rain and the mix of pine needles and fallen leaves from deciduous trees is absolutely autumn for me.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) was an American painter and printmaker and exhibited as an Impressionist in France, where she lived much of her adult life. The theme of her works were the social and private world of women, many included the intimate bond between mother and child. I find these images so endearing, yet they were formed with an observing eye, not necessarily a sentimental one. I find joy in this brightly colored image and many of her other images for the simple reason that she took everyday events and made them seem extraordinary to the viewer. She was privy to women’s lives because she was one of them, but she also made her way through the art world giving more women a voice through her own expression. I am thankful today for all the women who have sacrificed and conceded, but never gave up in their quest for expression. This is my tribute to one of my heroines of the art world.