Monday, December 6, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Can it be too soon to be mulling over one's New Years resolutions? I think not. Especially not this year.
2010 was not the greatest of years. Too much medical goings on for my taste. But maybe that was meant to be. Maybe things have to happen in order to propel us on to other things. With that in mind I am going to begin thinking about what I would love to have 2011 be about.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
I was lucky enough to have a real artist do one last display of henna on my left hand today. The first photo is of the henna paste drawing-thus the dark and even color. The paste is very 3 dimensional and the process of application is reminiscent of cake icing. (Any lighter areas show where the paste has already dried and flaked off)
The second photograph shows the stain left behind once the paste is removed-shades of reddish brown and very uneven. Seemingly, different parts of the body stain differently-the palm being one of the areas that shows the color most deeply.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Still not much new here. Some excitement though: Clients at the hospital I work at were wonderful enough to bring in some henna and they created lovely designs on the hands of the nurses & I. (I happen to love henna and explored it's use years ago-perhaps it is time to return to this "medium" as it is all about pattern & design...)
And on the same day, Mr. Lance Armstrong came to visit at the hospital. Thus the LIVESTRONG bracelet. Quite exciting.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
There is very little that is new going on these days here.
I did try acupuncture for the very first time last Saturday as past of a mind body lecture . Much as I believe in alternative and complimentary approaches I am sorry to report I noticed nothing during the 30 minutes I sat with 5 needles in each ear and felt no impact afterward either. Very disappointing!
Summer feels as if it has gotten off to a very slow start. Everything interesting seems far off-on the horizon. One thing I am looking forward to is a collection of all different types of Volkswagens that will congregate on Governors Island this August. Should be very interesting-my parents always loved their Volkswagens and I have lots of childhood memories that revolve around them...
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I usually do not bake. The kitchen is the size of a closet. The oven no longer works. The cats get in the way. The music on NPR/WQXR is never right for baking.
This Sunday I baked-because I had to.
I had read about a poppyseed and lemon rind pancake w/ ricotta cheese and actually bought ricotta cheese and poppy seeds several weeks ago and I now knew the ricotta was going to start to go if I kept it any longer. So I had to make it now. Underwhelming.
A whole bunch of bananas was turning ripe over night, simultaneously. That meant banana bread was the next project. Burned the top in an effort to cook the middle. Hate that burning thing that sometimes happens. Then you have to say "Want some banana bread?You'll just have to cut off the burned part...." . I made sure to feed it to people who had not eaten home made anything in weeks. They loved it. Thanks Mom & Dad!
Next up cookies and cake for a good bye party Tuesday evening. I mixed up batches of things only to realize I had run out of chocolate and vanilla. Hate that running out of key ingredients thing. Back from 2 stores I battled with the new convection oven -cookies seemed to do O.K. but cake iffy. This might not be the oven for cakes. Good bye cakes!
Made mocha whipped cream to cover any sins visible on the cake top surface.
I like baking because it makes everything smell wonderful. I also like that home made anything is probably better for you that store bought stuff. And I do try , more and more, to cook with organic and healthy versions of ingredients (did you know maple sugar -supposidly better that regular sugar-costs an arm and a leg!)
But here's the odd thing: I am never floored by food. It always falls short when I make it.
This could be one of 2 things: maybe it is like my love of the smell of coffee: it almost always smells delicious but that taste of coffee never matches up to the aroma.
Or maybe it is the artist/creator in me-that high standards ,perfection ,expectation thing that never gets me where I want to go. Cookies were good though...
Friday, April 30, 2010
I usually say I like surprises. (Letters in the mail being one I love. ) I have often said I like the unexpected. (walks in nature provide many unexpected delights:flowers, the odd song bird, beautifully frosted dark blue beach glass by the surf...) And change is almost always good. It shakes things up, keeps you on your toes. Keeps one from getting too settled & complacent -without change , the unexpected and surprises life could easily become very boring. At least that has been my mind set.
But in reality there is duality. Good change/bad change/ good surprises/bad surprises. So when one says exuberantly : " I love surprises!" one is thinking unexpected flowers at the end of a long day-not finding out you have lost your keys or you tire is flat-and so on.
On April 1st I fell. On uneven pavement, my foot got caught, I went down (while walking down hill) and while the fall was broken by my left knee, my right wrist and the right side of my face, I did get hurt. I have not fallen like that since I was a very young child. As an adult there are consequences and ramifications : the sprained wrist leaves me unable to do a long list of things we all take for granted. I was so used to being able that being temporarily unable left me shocked , frustrated and bewildered . I simply was not used to being unable to do things.
When one is younger, a fall or injury is usually quickly recovered from. But as you get older things like this take on new meaning. They provide windows into what it might be like to get older, what it might be like to be permanently disabled in some way.
The last few days my right wrist had been getting noticeably better. I had really been enjoying being on the mend & seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. Then on Wed. evening my neck got unexpectedly sore. (I had noticed it was hard to look both ways when crossing the street since I had fallen but that was such a small thing that I had not given it much thought-besides, my wrist and the slowly healing scars on my face over shadowed it.)On Thursday evening the pain in my neck became incrementally worse as time passed. Finally it got so bad I got worried. It was on a level where nothing felt comfortable , where just existing was getting hard.
And while I wait for the doctor to call and give me an appointment it has given me an even more intense lesson in the unexpected. In both cases, I had plans to do. Lists of things to do and put behind me. And suddenly, all of that fades and I am left adapting and reconfiguring.
I yoga we try and see things in perspective, try to erase the words "bad" and "good" and see all as experience. And since I am getting older and these types of things probably will be, more and more, a part of my life experience, I am going to try and do that most yogic of tricks, welcome this type of event rather than resist and fight and deny it's existence and reality.
The accompanying photo was taken on the long ride home from Cape Cod a few weeks ago. I picked it for it's double meaning. Wrenches tend to be tools we use to fix things. But they are also famously seen in an opposite way:"So and so really threw a monkey wrench into my plans..."
I am mulling over the cosmic duality of the wrench, the monkey wrench...
Sunday, April 18, 2010
I was returning books at the library and this book jacket caught my eye. I have been plowing through it as fast as I can (it is a 7 day book and as the weather gets nicer there seems to be less and less available time to read ) . It is indeed along the lines or "Eat, Pray, Love" but has a nice mix of recent politics and long term history mixed into it. I have just a few hours to tear through the last 150 pages and there is so much calling out to me that needs to be done!
I have not put any focus on my love of reading -so much that I read is on some level not worth the effort. But this one might just be one to check into . (And check out of your local library-an environmentally friendly way to indulge in a love of reading . I also love that I am not investing $ if it turns out I do not find the book to be worth reading...)
Saturday, March 27, 2010
I got around to downloading photos today and found these last few from our very last snow fall. I had NO IDEA there were orange salamanders in our neck of the woods!(It has turned cold here the past fews days and I have to admit I wish we'd get one last snow storm. I know, it costs MILLIONS each time it snows but I can not help wanting to see more snowmen and women. And salamanders.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
...I have the most vivid memories of my childhood Christmas trees . I can't give you the year or my age:my memory does not work like that. But I can recall the searching through the woods of New Hope PA. & the "Motel In The Woods" where we would stay when we went to pick a tree . I remember the decorations - some made by my parents who are both artists. My dad treated Christmas trees like they were works of art-one year he did a tree entirely covered in silver tinsel. That was the one and only year a tree of ours had a strand of tinsel on it. The tree looked like a sea monster covered in silver seaweed.
In my memory it seemed like my dad always waited until Christmas eve to put up the tree. And we always left it up -sometimes for months. I can recall it being up (and decorated for) one Valentines Day. It also somehow managed to last until Easter one year.
Since "we" are products of our parents it only stands to reason that I do something very similar - our tree was "procured" on Christmas Day (in the pouring rain) and it never really got decorated this year because of it's late arrival. But I did cover it in homemade hearts come February and it technically made it into March this year:
Last weekend I cut off all of it's branches. The needles had gotten to the point where they would fall off, en masse , if -by mistake of course-a small cat toy happened to be throw at it. Imagine a raining down of needles, cats standing there covered and stunned. It was fun but it was also time for it to go. So I cut everything off late one evening and -being my parents child and an artist in my own right-I saved some of the needles in the tallest vase I could find and arranged some of the branches in another vase. I love nature and since I live in an apartment these little touches are my way of bringing the out door in.
The de-branched trunk stayed in the tree stand for the week-atop the dining room table. The artist in me pondered what to do with it each breakfast. That is what artists do-we ponder what to make of the things that come our way. At its worst-it can be a disease of sorts , leading to a unhealthy collecting of things and plans that never see fruition. At its most functional it is one's take on Robert Rauschenberg's & Joseph Cornell's fantastic assemblage/collage/boxes.
Back to memories of trees: my other strong memory is of the weekend day when my dad would finally take the tree down. He would spread out the big canvas paint clothe and haul the garbage can into the living room and turn on the radio and cut the tree apart-a lot like I did last weekend-minus the drop clothe and garbage can.
I knew I would be making more of last year's candle sticks out of this years trunk. I envisioned a forest of candle sticks grouped together on the dining room table.Late this morning I got out a plastic dry cleaning bag I had been saving and covered the kitchen floor. I sawed the trunk into sections and dug up my Uncle Peter's drill and the largest bit I could find(3/8") and got to work making holes for thin candles. The smell of the tree resin was momentarily wonderful. Sap covered my hands. It was fun and once done I assembled the sections on the table and fell in love with the look-the forest on the table top.
I realize I am the only one in the whole world who still had their tree up so this next part is pure silliness but: next year-try this with your tree. You will love it. There are no other candle sticks on the face of the earth that I would rather have and I love that they are made from Christmas trees and required so very little , resources wise. Photos to come...
Friday, March 5, 2010
There is lots of stuff going on in this world of ours. None of it new. Little of it good. On the subway ride home today I pulled out the latest copy of AUDUBON magazine (March/April edition) . I used to always read on subways rides - in fact this used to be how I got the bulk of my reading done as when else is there time!?! But I have gotten out of the habit lately, preferring both to carry a slightly lighter back pack & to rest , eyes closed , on rides to and fro.
Audubon is great reading and has delicious photos :this month's cover shot is a black and white classic of an elephant that looks more old time fashion shot than nature photo...actually it also looks like it could have been taken at the Museum Of Natural History from one of their dioramas I LOVED as a kid!
Inside was an article on endocrine - disrupting chemicals . They are everywhere, are largely unregulated and are thought to be having a terrible impact on the health of both humans and animals -an impact that might be long lasting if not irreversible. My heart sank. I got sick to my stomach. It is not that the information is new to me. I have heard it all before. It is just that the cumulative effect of what "we" are doing to ourselves and the earth is really weighing on me.
I know we can do better and need to do better. What stymies me is that "we" know what needs to be done-for our own good-and yet we are not doing it. I know it is tied to profits and convenience -the great loves of the modern world. But when the consequences are spelled out I am left wondering why "we" decide to take the self destructive path almost every time. "We" are brilliant and can solve these problems-if we decide to tackle them. And the resulting solutions will, no doubt, end up creating profit and giving us a different kind of convenience so why are we resisting this beneficial path that's win-win?
During my (brutal & disillusioning ) yoga teacher training course we were taught about "resistance". It is a complicated concept that vaguely explains why we resist what is good for us. But as I get older the idea of resistance seems such a poor excuse for not taking responsibility and doing what is right for all.
This is a long way of saying there is no excuse for our lax "Toxic Substances Control Act" and there is absolutely no reason why these substances-known to be harmful with well documented side effects-are still being included in an array of products (from cleaning products to food containers to lotions) . The Audubon article states that other countries are leading the way in this area and it actually hurts me to know my own country (and the big businesses that make the products we use daily) do not care enough to do more.
You can go HERE to check out Audubon's magazine and this article in particular and read back into their archives for more on issues like these. If this topic is new to you this might serve as a wake up call but if you are like me this will be old news that will make your stomach turn...
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Happiness comes in many forms. For me a fail proof source of happiness has always been snow. It is gloriously beautiful and I adore how it visually transforms EVERYTHING. I also happen to love how it slows the pace of life down and gently softens things. Sounds are muffled & smiles magically appear on faces everywhere. Snowmen epitomize the magic of snow for me and they would be a part of my definition for happiness. If you have never done so or have not done so in a very long time, I encourage you to go out and make yourself a snowman. I am willing to wager it will bring you a type of instant happiness and joy that you might not have felt in a very long time!
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
I recently stumbled upon a New York Times piece called "Life Lessons From the Family Dog" written by Dana Jennings.
The article deals with the simple yet profound lessons Dana has learned from his 12 year old dog Bijou & is written in the context of Dana's life with prostate cancer and Bijou advancing age and failing health.
The story itself is touching but it was the 28 pages of reader comments that have fascinated me. I have read a few pages most nights before going to bed and the end result is usually tears followed by a hug and kiss to each cat as I hope it is a very long time before I have to travel that road with them.
Much of what is written deals with illness and end of life and it takes any pet owner back in time:the search for hope, the identification of the sign that it is finally time to put one's pet to sleep. The strange phenomenon of the last "rally" : that hard moment after you have made your decision and called the vet and suddenly your pet springs to life and acts as if nothing is wrong-causing all kinds of doubt. The sometimes vivid impressions of those last moments-the heartbreak of it all-the smell of the vet's office -a compassionate vet-a peaceful end.
Most of all , reading the diverse comments felt like an exploration into the soul of man's relationship with the domestic animal kingdom. An examination of the unique love we feel , the bond we share and the void that is so wonderfully filled by any furry friend.
I recommend this for reading :
If you love animals it will be familiar territory.
If you have been hurt , reading this might heal the wound enough to make you rethink your decision to go without a pet.
And if you have never shared your home & life with a pet this might just make the interestingly strong case for the incalculable value of pet ownership.
As we enter February and move towards Valentines Day - this article sets the stage with it's expression of Love, Love, Love.
Curious? Go here.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Today I spotted this:
Lets get this cat home where it belongs!
& on the blog "One Bark At A Time" I read about 2 dogs in Toronto that have been taken from their owners and are scheduled for euthanasia on Feb. 5th. If you would like to help get these dogs back to their homes join their facebook page here to find out more on their story & go to the petition site here to sign up in support and make your voice heard.
I'll have a more uplifting post on Tuesday. Promise!
Sunday, January 31, 2010
This weekend on the 4th floor:
Saturday we spent about 6 hours packing boxes full of clothes, soap, tooth brushes and tooth paste for children in Haiti who have lost their parents and family. We worked with 2 groups of very dedicated people: the fine folks of UPS & UNICEF in the UPS facility in Carteret New Jersey. (UNICEF staff wore UNICEF blue t-shirts, UPS wore UPS brown t-shirts=I gave mine to a UPS staff member at the end of the day-seemed the right thing to do.)UNICEF stickers were placed onto the boxes but secretly I wanted /wished I could have brought along a big red magic marker to sign each box with a heart. The reality is the boxes were built by UPS , handed to the assembly line of folks working in teams , filled and taped shut so fast that nothing personal could be done at any point in the process.
We came home slightly sore and feel like a truck has hit us today but we totally hope to repeat the process in the coming weeks if UPS/UNICEF calls for volunteers .
Sunday I have been digging through my tall kitchen cabinet , pulling out baking supplies and my tin of inherited cookie cutters (from my great Aunt Helen & Grandma Claire) and am just wrapping up research on what to bake. UNICEF is holding a bake sale Monday to raise funds for their programs in Haiti and it feels perfect to devote this weekend to helping Haiti, however we can. Wish me luck, I am not a baker by nature (one of the secrets to staying healthy:never become a master baker!) and do not have the usual stuff on hand nor does my oven (tiny apartment small and old and ailing)behave. It is one temp. in the back and another zone in the front so baking and cooking of any kind is always tricky. (Photo above depicts the collection of ingredients complied to make cookies. )
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Forgot to add this one:
10 fruits & vegetables a day.
One of my jobs is teaching art / creative experience to cancer patients. I have done this work on and off for several years now and have learned a lot from the folks I work with. One definite lesson patients have taught me is: if there was any way to prevent cancer-they wish they would have done that.
That resonates with me as my grandfather always used to tell us grandkids : "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". And no where is this more true than with cancer. So when I began hearing this new mantra-to eat 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day to maintain health & prevent disease-I listened. And I am trying. It is not easy-especially in winter time when there is little local stuff to be had and what there is the the stores does not always look or taste great. (I made some plantains last night that lacked taste of any kind until I poured lime juice onto the slices-oh how I miss the taste of fresh, ripe things!) But I am trying and am determined. Partly I want to be healthy. I want to avoid preventable disease. But also-I want those folks I have met over the years to know their lessons and trials and mistakes were not in vain. I was listening and learning from them.
Monday, January 4, 2010
The new year is here and I am about to make THE classic mistake when it comes to new years resolutions: too many things on the list!
I could mull this over and whittle things down a bit but for some reason I do not want to. I think it might be a blessing in disguise to have more rather than less this year and so I am going to go for it! I am not sharing this list with anyone yet...and expect additions as they get clarified in my minds eye.
1. Learn to drive!
see attached photo of one wonderful car...
(I never have and never needed to as I live in a city with great mass transit . I also happen to deeply believe in the epic problem of global warming and do not want to contribute to this. But as I get older I think this is a skill I'll need in my pocket of tricks and I have a road trip in mind that I want to do via road though I am not opposed to trains at all!)
2. Visit ...another city & state far from here _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ . I have a friend there and she had often offered her place to me when she goes on adventures and I would very much like THIS YEAR to be the year I take her up on this kind offer.
3. Invigorate my spiritual practices. This is pretty vague at the moment as I am still deciding what steps to take to put this into practice but here is one:
Make a visit to Omega Institute or Kripalu. I have wanted to visit both places for years and , like most folks I find it easier to maintain a practice when supported by "like minded people" so a visit to one or another sounds in order.
(Another idea is to volunteer and I have a place in mind that sounds right...)
I have begun to pray each night. (I hope this does not turn anyone off . "We" all seem to be fine with spirituality & meditation but not prayer and I would like to incorporate more prayer into my daily life. "They" say you should trust your intuition & that it what I am following on this point.)
4. Help to make the world a better place. How is the question. Blogging about causes I believe in is one route but I would like to take a more active stance on this-volunteering perhaps?
5. Find a new Motto. My unfortunate motto for 2009 was : "Make the best of a bad situation." That helped me to make it through 2009 but it is NOT the motto I want with me for another 365 days.
If I brainstorm about just what it is that I would like to have the next 365 days be about :
As more words come to mind I will jot them down. The next step will be finding a motto that somehow encompasses what I hope to be and where I hope to go in 2010.
I do know I have been saying to myself more and more that "I want to be happy." Since I am not one of those people who believes "things" will make you happy I KNOW it is all about other types of stuff. The real elements of life that are yours from the day you are born until the day you die and that can not be taken away from you but do need to be developed and cherished. It is time to start a new focus on these gifts...
6. DO the Etsy thing. NOW. I am putting this off for a whole year now and it is time to take the plunge. (Maybe that should be my new motto-take the plunge! Yikes! Hmmmmmmm...I need to mull that over...)
This one may also pop up in my silkscreen blog "ARTWORKS"...
7. Develop the friendships I have and co-create new ones. (I have learned this can be tough to do as "we" get older and I want to ignore all the usual road blocks and obstacles and grow this area of my life as I would a garden of colorful and life enriching flowers...)
8. Join a gym.I have been researching this one for some time now as I really want to have this be a wise use of $ as well as a beneficial experience.
And, for 2011:get a collapsible bike! I want something well built and easy to fold and Transportation Alternatives gave some great advice a while back on what is out there right now so my eyes are scanning the horizon for the best bike for me...