Friday, December 31, 2010

December 31, 2010, Shakespeare and Talking Heads

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
William Shakespeare
Macbeth, Act V, scene v


I have thought of the foregoing quote many, many times in my life. Aptly, this gem rolled through my mind earlier today, as I was recycling the 2010 calendars.
In my youth, the 'New Year' was exciting!
In early adult life, I fell upon many years of darkness. I came to dislike the advent of a new year. The new year was a time to recount all of my mistakes, instead of looking ahead with optimism.
I still struggle a bit during this auspicious time, but I am coming around to a feeling of gratitude, not depression, loss or failure.
On that note, I cannot help but wonder if this life is to be taken seriously - or not?
It seems that our friend, Macbeth wondered the same thing.
Positively, I have been gifted and blessed with an embarrassment of riches. I am presently filled with conscious gratitude for every ambulatory, breathing second.
But, still .... I do ponder the entire script of life....and I always have.
I do not know my role or purpose or even if there is one! I wish that I could be one of those people who knows exactly what their life's purpose is!
I relate to Talking Heads "Once in a Lifetime"!! "How did I get here?"

Is life a comedy, a tragedy, a drama, a soap opera, a whim, a plan, a thought, a dream?
What, exactly, is "a life"?
This is what I do know....
I have packed up many belongings of loved ones after they leave this life behind.
I absolutely know that those material (matter-real) goods mean NOTHING (NO-Thing). Those belongings cannot possibly tell the story of the beloved's life.
What remains and never ends are the emotional bonds formed in this life. Those feelings are as real, as fresh, as tangible and as present as the sound of my fingers tapping the keyboard at this moment.
These days, I bond in LOVE.
Love really is all that MATTERS (material).
May each and every one of you forge bonds of love in the upcoming 'new year'.
In Love, Truth and Beauty....


Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday "Spirit" or Critical Alcohol

For the most part, I am a vegan. Becoming vegan was a slowly-evolved process.....and I personally believe that it is correct for me. 
I still own the odd leather good, and I do use honey, beeswax and some goat milk in a few of my handcrafted soaps. This is why I state "For the most part"....
I have never been able to eat dairy, so no elimination required in that department.
I still enjoy the occasional cocktail, cordial, aperitif, beer or vino, but I do not imbibe as in younger years.  I am incredibly picky!
In honor of the holidays, I am going to share a recipe for vegan Irish cream that tastes very much like the bad-for-you (and pricey!) sweet libation.
I cook and create by taste - not measurement - so bear with me!

Vegan Irish Cream
Coconut Milk (I buy this by the 1/2 gallon - NOT the canned coconut cream/milk) - about 2 cups
Raw Turbinado Sugar- app 2-3 tblsp
Agave Nectar - app 1 tblsp
Vanilla Extract
Almond Extract (optional)
3/4 cup brewed coffee
dark cocoa powder (optional)
dash sea salt
preferred whiskey or bourbon (3/4 cup - ?)

Throw all ingredients in a high speed blender (I used a Vita Mix). 30 seconds. Taste. Adjust. Bottle or store in airtight containers in the frig. Must be shaken before serving. May be served straight up, on the rocks, in coffee or tea....a little goes a long way, as this is wonderfully decadent.
Enjoy responsibly!
Cheers!


And do not forget to SMILE!!!! 
Easiest way to shift energy in any situation, place or space!!

In Love, Truth and Beauty....

Monday, December 20, 2010

Yule, Winter Solstice, Full Moon and an Eclipse

All happening around 12:30 a.m. ..... 
The best time to view the Lunar Eclipse is suggested around 2:17 a.m. December 21, 2010 (Tuesday).
NASA reports state that it has been 372 years since the Solstice occurred simultaneously with a Lunar Eclipse. 
A good reason to stay up, or set your alarm!


With so much Love, Truth and Beauty....

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fire, Yule and Love

"Why are you so enchanted by this world when a mine of gold lies within you?"
Rumi

In keeping with the spirit of the season, I felt moved to write a brief post today - again, about love.
The increasing commercialism that has driven the winter holidays in my lifetime depresses my spirit and my heart. 
I no longer send holiday cards and I have never put up a tree.
As a child, one of my visual memories was seeing sad and stripped Christmas trees dumped in the street for trash pick up.
It was equally painful to get used to the veritable fantasy of the glittering lights and decorations taken down and stored away at the very time when we humans NEED such uplifting light!
Winter and the waning light is difficult on body and spirit!
Let us keep the love and light in our hearts to shine outwardly on those who may need it most (ourselves?).
This is not to say "bah! humbug!", but rather a personal and heartfelt statement that I believe we should show love, compassion, joy, kindness, glad tidings and good will EVERY day of our lives.
Sadly, many people believe that a wrapped present (or a few) one day a year demonstrates good will toward man (woman) kind. 
I am making an urgent plea to each and every one (including myself) to show good will, kindness, love and compassion to ourselves and all beings on a daily basis.
"Better to light a single candle than curse the darkness."

 
In Light, Love, Beauty.....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

7 Doves

Early this morning, 7 Doves greeted me! Perched on my outdoor table and chairs, it was quite a beautiful sight. 
Feathers fluffed up, seated in varying levels, these beautiful birds appeared to be a Council of Elders.
I am still pondering the message, but I am convinced that it was a positive sign.


I love and am constantly delighted by my wild birds! 
Birds inspire me and send me messages. It has been this way all of my life.
Do you have a special relationship with any creatures?
I would love to hear about them!

In Love, Truth, Beauty and Wisdom....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

TUT Love

This arrived in my in box this morning just in time!


Be at peace, dear Teresa, rest easy, relax, coast and luxuriate to any degree that you can allow yourself, for the day will inevitably arrive when you'll understand all the "reasons" that now elude you, bless the darkness that now seems to separate you, and celebrate the ancient choices that once made you. 
Just as we do.
Trust me,
    The Universe

Courtesy TUT Adventurer's Club



Image Courtesy of the Author
 With so much Love, Truth and Beauty.......

Monday, December 13, 2010

Red Hot!

In keeping with the spirit of the winter holidays, I want to continue to explore the theme of love.
Sometimes, love seems a far away feeling or ideal. Or, in the words of Bono, "an idea that almost makes sense". 
Actually, love is the only idea that makes sense. 
Love is typically used as a verb; an action word.
Love of self is a phrase that is tossed around these days, but I see very little realized self love. Instead, I see self concern, self gratification, self involvement, self absorption, selfishness, self-centric-everything-except love.
Houston, we have a big problem.
If we have not done so, let us learn self love and teach our children, family and friends the same by example. 
Instead of seeking instant gratification via blatant commercialism and consumption to fill the void this season, what if we loved ourselves abundantly? Then, we would share that love...
Like the airlines instruct, people traveling with dependents must put their oxygen masks on first. You cannot help, save or love others without taking care of yourself first!
So many of us are slowly dying from the absence of life-sustenance - put love first on your to-do list. 
Give your love no matter what.....

My friends are so depressed
I feel the question
Of your loneliness
Confide... 'cause I'll be on your side
You know I will, you know I will

X Girlfriend called me up

Alone and desperate
On the prison phone
They want... to give her 7 years
For being sad
I love all of you
Hurt by the cold
So hard and lonely too
When you don't know yourself

My friends are so distressed

And standing on
The brink of emptiness
No words... I know of to express
This emptiness


Imagine me taught by tragedy
Release is peace
I heard a little girl
And what she said
Was something beautiful
To give... your love
No matter what 

Red Hot Chili Peppers


This post is dedicated to T. Callahan
With so much Love, Truth and Beauty....

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Revolution

I have had a week that was so filled with vile spewed by so many angry, hateful  people, that I literally spent two full days physically ill from mere contact.
Let me just say that I now fully, deeply and profoundly understand the meaning of that silly television show, "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?". Believe me, the people that I encountered this week are certainly not smarter than a 5th grader. 
Pitiful. 
I could feel sorry for these people if they were not totally extracting vengeance from innocents and causing permanent damage.
I want to ask all the angry, manipulative, dishonest, hate-full people that I see in the world - what has happened to you?
Love and money - or, rather the lack of it - seems to be at the bottom of this particular debris heap.
"...when you want money
for people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
"
However, it is never too late to change.
In the spirit of change, the word, 'revolution' inspires me.
Revolution, evolution, devolution, reveal, revolve...the world keeps spinning, moving.....and so must the collection of life that populates it.
Come on, People! 
Let's evolve...enough of the distortions, deceit, lies, hate, anger!
If we continue to be divided, we will certainly perish as ONE.
It is time for a revolution and it starts with one voice, one person, one step, one action.....replace anger with acceptance, hatred with love, selfishness with compassion, greed with generosity.
This revolution starts with me. I hope that you join.

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
all right, all right

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We'd all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We're doing what we can
But when you want money
for people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
all right, all right


You say you'll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well, you know
You better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
(Lennon-McCartney)
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
In Love, Truth and Beauty...
This post is dedicated to J. Geiler

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Paint It Red

Day Without Art = December 1st = World Aids Day - honored by artists since 1989. 
Please make a difference today. 
Volunteer. 
Spread awareness. 
Pray. 
Remember those who have died. 
Remember those who are living. 
Remember that the suffering continues.
Love. Truth. Beauty. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Magical Paintings in Prehistoric Caves and All Saints Day

I have studied art history since my late teens, but never found a true appreciation for the magnificent cave paintings until mid-life.
Most cave paintings that have been discovered to date, depict extremely sophisticated, timeless renderings of animal figures. Very few cave paintings feature any human elements, although there are some drawings of human hands. Subject matter includes bison, bulls, horses, aurochs and other animals. A painting in Spain, dating back to the Last Ice Age, depicts reindeer.
The varied media utilized include ochre, oxides, hematite and charcoal. At times, the rock has been chiseled to enhance the painted image, bringing a 3 dimensional element.
It is believed that the caves did not provide human habitation. Most art historians and anthropologists theorize that the paintings were created as part of a shamanic trance during a magical or religious ceremony.  It is also believed that the cave paintings served as a form of communication.
Although there have been discoveries of over 350 cave paintings, my personal favorite remains the classic at Lascaux, France. This is the painting that is studied by all beginning art historians and art students.



The earliest known cave painting dates back about 32,000 years ago, although this date is in controversy. The particular site is known as Chauvet, and was discovered in Southern France. Chauvet is of particular interest because of the numerous cave bear paw prints and relics found there.
Chauvet's paintings were incised into the cave rock, and then painted.



Both of the above represent images found at Chauvet
Somehow, it seems appropriate that I write this post on November 1 - All Saints Day.
I have crafted my own life upon a foundation in art history. As many images and pieces that I have seen, studied, researched and written about, I always find my way back to the cave paintings. They are all incredibly beautiful and as contemporary as the most sophisticated abstract visuals that I see today.
They are magical and spiritual....no need for improvement.
In Love, Truth, Beauty....
Images courtesy of Wikipedia

Saturday, October 16, 2010

CASHBACK and Venus Retrograde

When I was a girl, I was undecided if I should go to art school, or study music, as I had played the piano since the age of 4.
I was ambitious, and my sole dream was to be a fashion designer. I had been writing to Schools of Design, Fashion Design, colleges and universities from the 7th grade!
I have never had any other life goal other than to be an artist. I never wanted marriage, kids, real estate, 'stuff'. I wanted to make art.
My beloved Mother, always the practical person, urged me to go to nursing school. She reasoned that I could always find employment in the health care field.
Horrified and balking, I sought the counsel of my equally-beloved, engineer, opera-devotee Father.
Here was my Father's reply: "Study and create art, as this world needs more beauty".
As I progressed in school, going on to graduate school, eventually teaching at the University level, making my way on the exhibition circuit, showing and selling my work, I was very happy and focused.
Circumstances in my life drastically changed, and I eventually became employed in a more "practical" field.
It is not easy to be self-supporting as an artist!
So, I went off to work in a completely different direction than I had ever envisioned.
I few weeks ago, just as Venus went retrograde, I watched an indie film entitled "Cashback".  I did not know what to expect, but the film delighted me with its subtle message that is communicated in a very unpretentious, but excellent  manner.
The film focuses on a young artist named Ben, who is suffering insomnia from a recent break up with his girlfriend.
Ben, who learned to appreciate beauty at a tender age, develops a technique to 'freeze time' in a way as to 'capture beauty'.
I want to illuminate that the young artist's appreciation of the beauty in this world lifted my spirits.
There is so much in this material world that feels painful to me, especially these days.
I regularly restrict the news that I watch or hear, avoid unpleasant entanglements, any ensuing drama, and generally force myself to avoid many human beings for periods of time.
I cope with the suffering and pain in life by sleeping, making art and soap, enjoying my animals, watching the birds at my feeder and tending my gardens.
I find these pastimes to be peaceful, and as close to the natural world as I can get in my urban setting.
The most enjoyable times of my life (and work) have been spent in solitude and silence.
Therefore, "Cashback" held a special lesson for me:  There is considerable beauty in the world.
Is it possible to reconcile an "overly sensitive" nature with the pain of this world by focusing on prolonging the beauty that is in everything natural?
Wish me luck.
I will probably do just fine until I have to drive the car.....and someone crosses my path.
In Love, Truth and So Much Beauty.....

7 Signs You're An Empath

7 Signs You're An Empath

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

So... is there a "Plan"?

Most of my adult life has been weighted in anxiety. I am a worrier....need I say more?
In retrospect, my childhood was gloriously filled with wonder, magic, make believe, the ability to see angels, spirits and a profound understanding of the reality of fairy tales. I had an unshakable sense of security which resulted in loads of self confidence and an odd reservation around other humans.
These days, I hear and read the phrase "All is as it should be", which gives me pause. 
Many times, it is only in looking back that I understand the aforementioned phrase.
Tonight, as is my custom, I routinely went outside to look after the dogs. 
The weather was cool and pleasant. 
The air was still.
I looked up and saw a crystal-clear sky with a few bright stars.
For a brief moment, I was transported back to the days of my childhood. I wondered why the stars were not falling from their celestial spots, or why I was able to stand upright on this constantly spinning rock called earth.
Why?
In that instant, I fully understood that all is indeed in Divine Order.
....and it was comforting! 
It was as comforting as I felt when my much-beloved parents were alive.
That flash was transformational.....and I have no idea why it happened or what triggered it.
But for a split second, I truly and deeply knew that "All is as it should be".


In Love, Truth and Beauty......

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

From Whence Doth the Creative Spark Ignite?

How do you like the title to this post? A bit of mirth to start my pondering words about an extremely complicated question:  What ignites the creative spark?
Over my lifetime, I have puzzled over this question. Oh, and 'what is the meaning of life' and 'what is my purpose' and 'what is death'? You know, the small stuff.
I have heard many answers to "what ignites the creative spark"  from 'the creative drive being likened to giving birth' to 'creative people must create', or, rather, it is an inherent trait that cannot be nurtured, presented, gifted, or taken away - it simply is.
Let us not forget that "necessity if the mother of invention". 
Another popular answer to the query - and one that cannot be denied categorically - is that creative people are often at their most prolific when moving through one of life's inevitable dark events.
Do misery and suffering spark creativity?
So many well-known artists have had dreadful, hideous lives strewn with hardship.
Perhaps enduring hardship promotes artistic expression of the soul's anguish that cannot be expressed in other ways?
I will probably never know the answer to my question, although I am certain that whatever gives rise to creativity is of infinite complexity, varying from individual to individual.
It is here in my musing that I am reminded of Eva Hesse, one of my personal favorites artists of-all-time and a woman that I admire beyond the words on this page.
After emigrating from Nazi Germany to the Netherlands and then New York, Eva Hesse studied at Cooper Union and Pratt Institute, eventually earning a BFA in painting from Yale School of Art and Architecture under Josef Albers. The year was 1959.
Soon thereafter, Eva Hesse started a small revolution by recycling materials and evolving the two dimensional painting canvas into a three dimensional sculpture. 

Eva Hesse ca 1959 (Stehen Korbet)
My well-worn book, Eva Hesse by Lucy Lippard, is inscribed with the date of July, 1978. I purchased it at a Soho bookstore during a summer spent in NY.  It is one of the few books that I still keep on my shelf.
Many art historians like to refer to Eva Hesse in terms of her hardships. I like to refer to Eva Hesse in terms of her strength, perseverance and accomplishments.
Born in 1936, Eva escaped Nazi Germany, watched her parents divorce, struggled with depression and a failed marriage, the suicide of her mother, the death of her father and her subsequent loss of life in 1970 due to a brain tumor.
Is it in spite of Eva's pain that she thrived in the male-dominated art world, becoming one of the torchbearers of Post Minimalism? Or, did her star rise because of her personal hardships?
Having been fortunate enough to see several of her works and posthumous exhibits, I can verify that Eva's work is spectacular. There is a light in her fiberglass pieces that positively emanates from within and without, dancing through the sculpture, becoming part of the whole.

Right After (1969)
Eva Hesse is famous for her use of materials that are intrinsically worthless - recycled electrical wire and masonite. Alchemy at its finest! 
One of my favorite pieces is entitled Hang Up (1966). Witty and charming, the piece is primarily composed of  acrylic on cord, cloth, wood, steel.

Hang Up (1966)

Later, Eva's trademark media became latex, plastic, fiberglass. These materials disintegrate over time ... and there is poetry and metaphor  in that process.

Repetition Nineteen III (1968)

I remember a comment about Lippard's Eva Hesse made by a painter friend many years ago - "Every woman in the grad program at art school had that book".
One of the dirty little secrets of the art world, in my opinion, is that it is one of the last bastions of male dominance.
In the real world, racial discrimination is at least talked about. This gives hope that the world is taking a step towards resolution.
Alas, in the art world, gender bias seems to still be the modus operandi....which simply leaves me more in awe of Eva Hesse and her numerous accomplishments.
What constellations came together that allowed the world to behold (even for a short time) such talent, beauty and grace?
In Love, Truth and Beauty .....

for more information on Eva Hesse, please visit evahesse.com and thejewishmuseumofart.org.
a search of "Eva Hesse" will yield additional images of work 
Images herein are reproduced from the Estate of Eva Hesse
Thank you 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Still Life, Moving Pictures and Hannah Wilke

I have not posted on this blog for an extended period of time.
Several persons near and dear to me have passed and my creative process has a peculiar ebb and flow. I write my words in earnest and after much consideration.
These words have become my primary "high" art form these days.  I take the written word very seriously.
I have been having vivid and quite lucid dreams. I dreamed (re-lived, actually) some years of my youth when I was brave, courageous, optimistic - and anything and everything was possible.
I was happy, intoxicated with all that "could be" in this life time.
I so yearn for the attitude of my youth, that I unashamedly lived with a certain reckless, fearless and carefree abandon.
Alas, many of the key players of my youth are deceased now...and my life took turns that I never could imagine in my glory days.
I do not not know if I can achieve that fearless mindset again in this life. Absurd in a way, as rationally, the longer you live, the more fearless you should become.  In my case (and, I suspect in many others), it is the opposite.
The more I know, the longer I live, the more fearful I grow.
I endeavor to change this...and live in the moment - but time seems to move faster now....
What to do? 
Wait for the "next life"?
Most people concentrate their energies on their family. This is right and just. 
But, is this a distraction from one's own life and death? Or a continuation of life after death in a sense? A way to trick the mind into delusions of such immortality? 
Being childless (by choice), I live a "still life". The moving pictures belong to other people. I am the  constant observer, a voyeur of sorts....parts of me have been 'stilled' due to the pain of loss, grief, (perceived) abandonment, being alone. Emotional scars that go unseen to others, but are personally felt, nonetheless.


I have been thinking about Hannah Wilke, an artist that I so admired, and her absolutely astonishing work.


I still remember the first time I saw Hannah Wilke's "Scars"... a photo of her nude torso covered with wads of chewing gum. An ode to the very real fact that we all experience pain and suffering in this life. We bear it internally. Hannah reminds us that internal (emotional) scars are every bit as real as the external (physical ) scar we show to the world from surgery, a bloody brush with a thorny rose bush, a cut, grief, a broken heart, loss, pain, hurt.


Hannah Wilke objectived her own body in her work.  Her "Scars" evolved into a series entitled "Scarification". This was early conceptual work at its best!
After she was diagnosed with cancer, Hannah exposed all of the physical effects of her chemotherapy before her premature death.



Hannah Wilke was a beautiful, courageous, brave, strong woman. When facing her eventual mortality, she exposed herself to a world-wide audience - scars and all.

In Love, Truth, Beauty....

Images courtesy of Artnet and Wikipedia


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tribute to Jane Blaffer Owen

Dear Reader,
I am greatly saddened to report that Jane Blaffer Owen died a few weeks ago. 
So many influential people in my life have died recently that I simply have not felt moved to write a decent or worthy post.
I hope you understand that I cannot describe many personal details about Mrs. Owen at this time. I hope that in time, I will be able to put into words how I knew her, and recount a little of what she accomplished in her very BIG, wondrous life. 
She was the real deal. The stuff legends are made of ... a visionary who actually realized those visions.
I am posting one of her many obituaries herein. The following article originated in The Houston Chronicle. They have hit some of the highlights of her extraordinary life.
I will always remember the vision of Mrs. Owen driving a horse drawn carriage around New Harmony when I was living in that area. Her long blond hair, untamed by her sun hat, flowing.
She was a visionary, a treasure, and her absence will be conspicuous.....and felt by many of the people she so freely inspired.

The Houston Chronicle
June 26, 2010 

Jane Blaffer Owen's memorial service will be in Houston next month, where she grew up in eccentric splendor as an heiress to both the Humble and Texaco oil fortunes. Surely there will be talk of the good things that she supported in this city, many of them at the University of Houston.
But her greatest effect, everyone will agree, wasn't on Houston at all, but on a place that could be considered the anti-Houston: New Harmony, Ind. — a tiny, historic, spiritual town.
Owen met New Harmony in 1941, during her honeymoon. The hometown of her husband, K.D. Owen, it was the site of two - two! - long-gone utopias.
Harmonie was founded in 1814 by the Harmonists, a celibate religious group that emphasized hard work and sound building. Ten years later, convinced the world was ending, they sold their town to a pair of secular idealists who hoped to found a new "Community of Equality." Rechristened New Harmony, the town was to be a progressive gathering of scientists and intellectuals, and so idealistic that it banned the use of money. It lasted three years.
By 1941, New Harmony was a bedraggled little town, but its history resonated with the idealistic, spiritual Owen. She poured her considerable fortune and energy into the place, shoring up its lovely old Victorian buildings and adding works by cutting-edge architects Richard Meier and Philip Johnson. The town took on a Marfa-like vibe, based on spirituality instead of art. It became a place for seekers.
And it came back to life. The American Planning Association praised New Harmony as a "cultural town," resisting the homogenization of America. The National Trust for Historic Preservation awarded Owen its highest honor.
Late in her life, in an interview with the Houston Oral History Project, she described New Harmony in relation to hectic, fast-changing Houston. She invoked Joseph Campbell's "Hero with a Thousand Faces": In myths across the world, Campbell argued, heroes go on quests and return with gifts - "boons" - for their fellow man. "I felt that if I had any boons for Houston," Owen said, "I would have to bring them from that little town."
The most obvious of those boons is still being installed. In 1963 Owen commissioned visionary architect Frederick Kiesler to design a meditation grotto for New Harmony. Its centerpiece was to look like a giant shell - a no-right-angles design so far ahead of its time that it was deemed unbuildable. But in 2008, with Owen's support, a class of UH architecture students used 3-D design software and digital fabrication to do what once could not be done. Their interpretation of Kiesler's design now sits next to UH's architecture building, awaiting benches and a garden.
"It is going to be an oasis for the busy students at UH," Owen said with satisfaction. A meditative, spiritual place, a piece of New Harmony in Houston, it will be her last boon to our city. And we are grateful.

This post is dedicated to Jane Owen, Patron Saint on Earth to so many mortals.
Mrs. Owen, as I called her, was a force that helped shape my life in more ways than I can list here.
I have no idea what would have become of me without Mrs. Owen's hand in my life.

In Love, Truth, Beauty and Loss....

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Amazing Vedic Astrology

Here is a very interesting blog to follow


And this is the website...

http://indian-vedicastrology.com/wordpress/

In Truth, Love and Beauty....

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Personal Memoir: Heikki Seppa

I have worked with metal nearly all of my life. The love of metal is in my family (both maternal and paternal), my blood and my spirit. I studied metalsmithing courses in college, but could not quite understand how to achieve my desired final product: a hollow, fabricated piece that made a bold statement in metal with the seeming lightness of a feather.
One day, I came across The Penland School of Crafts Book of Jewelrymaking (1975) - and there it was - the exact technique that I needed! A shell structure technique developed by one Heikki Seppa.
Heikki Seppa was pioneering a brand new vocabulary of form - literally redefining the art of metalsmithing. Heikki was from Helsinki, taught briefly in Louisville (close to my neck of the woods), and was currently heading up the metalsmithing department at Washington University in St. Louis.
Perfect!
The fates smiled upon me, and Heikki accepted me into the graduate metals program - although after I arrived at Washington University, there were so many talented metalsmiths! I was a small town girl (jokingly referred to as "Kentucky Woman" by Heikki) with a B.A. in Fine Arts, Art History and a minor in Political Science. Most of my peers had achieved their BFA degrees in metalsmithing.
But, I was not a fish out of water ... many of the metal students, as well as Heikki and John Baltrushunas, the undergraduate professor were Pisces.
We even had annual Pisces parties. Oh...the stories I could tell...the photographs that I treasure...
I was HOME.


Being innately shy (many will dispute this statement, but I assure you it is completely true), I recall hiding my works-in-progress ... no small feat. Critiques were nerve-wracking. This was a serious program!!! (ahh - those were the days) Heikki was in the midst of publishing Form Emphasis for Metalsmiths - a giddy time in which we all enjoyed way more than 15 minutes of fame. Everything was golden.
Heikki worked us hard! We played hard too - but that is another story.....


Below is a pin that I have watching over my workbench. The photo was taken during a two week forging session on the St. Louis campus. The image is one of my favorites of Heikki.


This period was fruitful, graced, creative, blessed. I am so grateful to have had those highly educational and challenging years! Very, very fortunate...
I received word that Heikki died last week. This was not unexpected, but I am heartbroken. Of all of his many achievements (and believe me - I cannot think of a single artist rising from the "craft" world who has achieved more honors and accolades, awards and recognition) I like to think that Heikki's best achievement was being true to himself.


What an inspiration.
I was not the perfect 'shell-structure' metalsmith. I was an odd hybrid.
Here is a complimentary note about my critical writing he sent to me not too long ago. Heikki started my writing career in 1976 when I impressed him (no small feat!) with my wordsmith ability and knowledge of metal - a rare combination.

In my letter of reference, Heikki graciously wrote that I was a master of many arts, facets and nuances - including playing the piano! His kindness, remembrance and sentiment touched me profoundly.
He was a complex, often misunderstood, fun, hard-working, hard-playing, masterful and enlightened being.
Here is an example of the type of encouragement that he freely gave me.


Heikki and I remained in touch for 35 years. I am proud to say that he was my friend.
I miss him.
Deeply.
Have you heard that 'thing' about when a mighty oak falls somewhere in the woods, do you hear it?
I may not have heard the felling of the master, but I certainly feel his absence.
Heikki was unique and unforgettable. Demanding, outspoken, opinionated ... and a real sweetheart!
This old weary soul and world will miss you, Heikki. But, somehow, I know there is a joyous and rowdy reunion in a sauna, replete with eucalyptus, vodka, snow outside and a waiting forge, hammer and anvil inside.
With Love, Beauty and Respect...

In Loving Memory of Heikki Seppa  March 8, 1927 - May 18, 2010

Images Courtesy of the Author

Friday, May 7, 2010

Soaps for Utopia

I just packed up a big box of custom soaps to be sold at Richard Meier's Atheneum in New Harmony, Indiana. I am so happy with these soaps that I wanted to share two of them with you.

"Red Geranium"
A light geranium soap that is swirled and topped with Aussie Red Clay and French Green Clay mixed with Chlorophyll. This soap was inspired by the "Red Geranium Inn and Restaurant" in New Harmony.



"Wabash River Valley"
This lovely landscape is dedicated to the Wabash River Valley, over which The Atheneum presides....I cannot stop looking at this soap! I scented it with mints and citronella (among other essential oils) to help shoo away all the Wabash mosquitoes! 

 
In addition to the above, there are four other types of handcrafted soap soon to be on sale at The Atheneum in New Harmony.
Summer is a good time to visit Utopia....
Love and Beauty....

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Beltane: a (VERY) brief synopsis

May is the month of full-flowered spring in every sense. 
May is symbolized by Mother Nature, or Female Power at her most potent...or is it the other way around?

No coincidence that the earthy, sensual, sensitive, fixed, feminine astrological sign of Taurus falls here. Take a cue from Taurus - after working hard (read: all winter), have a fabulous meal, a massage, appreciate Venusian beauty, pamper yourself. 
Your body is of the earth. Take special care of it today.
Ground yourself. 
Say a prayer for planet earth, especially The Gulf of Mexico, the earth's elements and all creatures. 
Perform a personal kindness for the earth.
According to the old ways, Beltane (or Bealtaine) was typically celebrated on April 30, or May Eve.
In the time of my childhood, May 1st was the only day dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Hmmm....many wrong things with that practice and statement) in the Roman Catholic Church. 
Even as a young girl, I rebelled against the politics of patriarchy. I always made a shrine to Mary, almost like a beautiful bird house, presented in a corner of my room. One small step for woman kind.
In my earlier post on the Merry Month of May, I wrote about the May Queen. Often considered promiscuous, she is a young, juicy maiden, bursting with vitality......like spring itself.
Curious that 'May Day, May Day' is the phrase we associate with destruction. From the view of the Wise Ones, May Day is the actual opposite of destruction.
May Day (or Beltane or Bealtaine) is the peak of life itself. 
In place of the ancient, glorious May Day, we invented Mother's Day (that Puritan ethic again, methinks).
Celebrate and revel in Life! Get down and dirty in the garden or plant some herbs. Take a long bath (ever mindful of the HUGE gift of water). Listen to beautiful music. Acknowledge every single one of your senses.
Dance around a May Pole!! (THAT would be a statement)
Beltane represents what we have waited a long, hard winter to experience.
Express love for yourself and gratitude for Mother Nature....have some fun and frolic!
With so much Love, Truth, Beauty and Pleasure.......

Beltane

I have been away on a small vacation, so I have not been posting lately.
Bad news? The vacation is over and I am back from the Island. Landlocked.
Good news? It is Beltane!


Happy Beltane, Everyone!
May frivolity reign over the merry month of May, not unlike the above riot of lovely Texas wildflowers.
In Love, Truth and Beauty....

Thursday, April 22, 2010

And then God Created Jimmy Page...


"Passion, honesty, competence is musical heaven" 
Jimmy Page 
"It Might Get Loud"

These are ideal components for any profession or even daily living.  
Jimmy Page exemplifies all three qualities. He is a master at many, many things. 
Even Jimmy's horoscope is strong and regal. Capricorn Sun, Scorpio Rising and Cancer Moon...a bit conflicted due to opposing Sun and Moon, but wow! The stars were certainly in good alignment when he was born! Hard working, masterful, ladder-climbing Cap Sun, sexy Scorpio rising and that beautiful, nurturing Cancer Moon.
Power, sex and money is written all over that combo - and that is just the bare bones!
Long live Jimmy!


In Love, Truth and Beauty...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Joan of Arc

I have recently been posting about perception and self-love. Coincidentally (or not), I just came across this incredible and timely message from St. Joan of Arc, as channeled by Alysia Markoe Johnson....

"I am not a great woman because everyone says I am. I am a great woman because I believed in myself and saw myself in that light!" 

Jeanne d'Arc  

There is a tremendously powerful lesson in that statement. I needed to let it settle in my mind. In fact, I believe it is still settling.
Once again, the issue addressed is how one's perception becomes one's reality.

It is difficult to imagine Joan of Arc not being self-confident. It would have changed the destiny of many, many people and the course of at least one country.Thank you, Alysia and St. Joan

Below is an alleged copy of Joan's signature (courtesy of Wikipedia) from one of the few remaining documents the she supposedly dictated during her brief life on earth. If this signatory is authentic, Joan certainly had a distinctive, unique and strong penmanship. There is a bold quality to the line quality, suggesting a grounded sense of self worth - a creative flair is evidenced in the first letter "J".  Simultaneously dynamic and static, this signature has captivated me!

 


To read more about Alysia's practice just click on the link below.

peaceful-heart.net 

In Love, Truth and Beauty....

With Special Thanks to Alysia Markoe Johnson and St. Joan of Arc

Monday, April 19, 2010

Perception Shapes Reality

Or, perhaps more accurately, your perception is your reality. 
On a daily basis, I remind myself many, many times to be careful what I hold in my mind. I have learned that  'perception is reality'  many times, but good old monkey mind is constantly scheming to endlessly play old tapes. 


I have a tender spot for the above picture - torn from a very old copy of O magazine years ago. This particular image pulls at my heart for many, many reasons. 
One morning, as I was getting dressed for work, I decided to count how many negative thoughts ran through my mind as I gazed at my reflection in the mirror. 
I am ashamed to admit, that I did not have one - not one - positive thought about my image.
How many times are we told to "love" ourselves? Answer: Over and over.
Who will teach us how to love ourselves? Answer: We must teach ourselves.
If we cannot love ourselves, can we love another?  Answer: No.
Now, I think that whole darned concept is a little crazy...that is, the part about no practical teaching on how to love self. Is it the doing of the Pilgrims? (I like to blame lots of things on those Pilgrims)
So - let's start here: notice how many times you have a negative thought about yourself.
Easy, right?
Here's the hard part  - for every negative thought about your self, think of a positive.
Try to extend this "new way of thinking" toward people that you come in contact with daily.
This is a life's work. 
Trust me. 
Creative people are often plagued with a fluctuating and defeating sense of self esteem. This may be good for the creative process, but I wonder if the pursuit of excellence, usually coupled with acute sensitivity, may be responsible for the widespread depression, substance abuse and suicide that I have witnessed in the arts?
A strong show of ego (which is necessary for the creative act) typically hides the delicacy of a sensitive, artistic spirit.
Imagine if the creative person, already accustomed to an extraordinary imagination, utilized creativity in thoughts about self? Hmmm...there is a concept. Why is this class not a mandatory part of iart school curriculum?
Thoughts are powerful. 
Thoughts manifest into reality. 
As Tut's "Notes from The Universe" motto goes - "Thoughts Become Things... Choose the Right Ones". Check out www.tut.com for some wonderful, positive ways to learn how to adjust that creative, clever mind of yours.
Let us banish self hatred and embrace the love of self. 
What a better place the world will be on that day.
In Love, Truth and Beauty....

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Another Thought for the (Sun) Day

I came across this gem in one of my stacks.
This was tucked inside a fortune cookie (seriously) years ago. I fully believe that it was no coincidence that it was my fortune.
After the post about the "Six Mistakes", I felt that this could offer something positive and pro-active.

There is no wisdom greater than kindness.

Be wise and kind this week.
With Love, Truth and Beauty....

Thoughts for the Day

It is a rainy, dreary Sunday here at the Ranch. This combination makes for an all around good time for contemplation, reflection, meditation. Over the years, I have amassed quite a collection of bits and pieces of writings and artwork that I consider to be of personal inspiration.
I decided to go through some of the stacks and piles of papers that are strewn about the house, so I could actually find and read some these treasures.
I came across a dog-eared paper bearing the following "Thought for the Day"....

The Six Mistakes of Man

1. The delusion that personal gain is made 
by crushing others.

2. The tendency to worry about things that 
cannot be changed or corrected.

3. Insisting that a thing is impossible
because we cannot accomplish it.

4. Refusing to set aside trivial preferences.

5. Neglecting development and refinement of the mind, 
and not acquiring the habit
of reading and studying.

6. Attempting to compel others to believe
and live as we do.

Anonymous/Unknown

I certainly see some of my 'mistakes' in this essay. I have quipped that if I do not make a mistake daily, that I am not working hard enough! 
Quite frankly, I have made many more mistakes than six. 
If I had written this indictment, it would have been endless.
This piece was published in a company newsletter that was circulated in hard copy. I have held onto this piece for nearly 14 years because it held something meaningful for me.
I am grateful that I found it this day, for it is a good start to the week ahead.
In Truth and Beauty....

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Camelot and May

Where has the time gone since we marked our calendars January 1, 2010?  
The concept of time is so odd and puzzling to me. 
Even stranger is how time seems to "fly by" or "drag".
May, a rather infamous month,  noted for frolic, frivolity and more than a few "spring flings" is fast approaching. 
Did you know that it is considered 'bad luck' to wed in the month of May? This is primarily attributed to all the merriment accompanying the 'spring fever' of lusty May. This is one of the reasons there is a predominance of June weddings.
This is all true, Innocent Ones.
I vividly recall a catchy tune from Lerner's Broadway musical, "Camelot". An ode devoted to Guenevere's  extramarital attraction to Lancelot, the song is so aptly titled "The Lusty Month of May".


I played my parent's album hundreds of times! I really enjoyed Julie Andrews as Queen Guenevere. Robert Goulet was a swashbuckling Lancelot. Richard Burton was the regal King Arthur. Roddy McDowall played an impish Merlyn.  My absolute favorite character was Morgan Le Fey, played by M'el Dowd.
And then, there are these unforgettable lines....

Don't let it be forgot
That once there was a spot,
For one brief, shining moment
That was known as Camelot.

Those were magickal days!
Is it a coincidence that President John Kennedy ("Camelot" days of The White House) was a classmate of Lerner's at Harvard?
Do you remember Camelot?
In Love, Truth and Beauty....
1960 Album Cover Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Five Reiki Principles

I keep this taped to a wall where I can read it daily .... 

For Today Only:
Do not anger
Do not worry and be filled with gratitude
Be humble
Be devoted in your work
Be compassionate to yourself and others

Join your hands in prayer every morning and eveing
Keep in your mind and recite these words 

(taken from Usuei-Sensei's gravestone)

...and I attempt to accept that I am a work in progress.

In Love, Truth and Beauty..

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sound, Stress, Healing, Listening and Love

Music and sound are powerful.
I have always admired the musician who plays the music able to penetrate  my core.  And all non-verbal. That is powerful indeed.
I am not sure that I have had the same experience provided by the many fine pieces of art that I have experienced, literature, or a production, a meal or a smell. (I think that the olfactory sense may be just after sound)
Music comes close to love, in my book.
Music may be the pinnacle of pure expression and, in turn, evokes an equally pure reaction.
What else but music can annoy, energize, relax, act as a soporific or adrenaline? It is a drug!
Science has finally caught up with the rest of us who already know that sound is a potent force for good or bad.  Research shows that deep relaxation is able to heal the body and mind. Many people have found music and sound to be the vehicle that provides such deep states of relaxation. There are some serious quantum physics in those notes.


To read more about sounds and healing, check out this wesite:

 
Lately, I have become frustrated at dining establishments where the canned music is pumped up so loud that it is impossible to converse with a companion. I think that kind of unwelcome sound (or noise) is the height of bad manners.
Another thought that comes to mind is the very sad truth that most people need to be heard. This requires someone to listen. Is this an art or a courtesy  that has gone the way of the dinosaur? It costs nothing to listen. It means everything to the person who seemingly speaks and no one hears. There are far too many talkers and not enough listeners.
So, let us be careful what we put in our ears while cultivating the art of listening.
That is love.
In Truth and Beauty....

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Clutter, Vision and Monkey Mind

Every so often, I actually open my eyes and see all the material goods that accumulate in my living quarters.
I should not see such frightening sights unless I am prepared to act. The old 'fight or flight' adrenaline surge is purposeful, and not to be abused or misused.
How many of us are blessed with vision, but do not see? (similar to listening, but not hearing - that is a profound topic for another day...akin to memory, which I explored in an early post)
My inability to clearly see was emphasized in an early drawing class.  I was given the task to complete several "Pure Contour" drawings.

Here is the exercise:
Put your pencil or drawing instrument on a very large piece of paper. Focus your vision on your subject matter. Draw the outer contour of your subject while keeping your vision solely on it - no looking down at your paper! Do not allow your drawing instrument to entertain a broken line....keep it fluid and moving, no lifting the instrument from the paper.

Do try this at home.
You will be astonished at the details of a common object that may be looked at each and every day but never really seen!
The mind is very clever. Oh, yes..very, very clever.


My "monkey mind" is forever editing, deleting and emphasizing information. My mind makes things up for entertainment. My mind allows me to see some things and not others....very clever, indeed!
My mind is smarter than me.
I am quite certain that there has been a study of this phenomenon and the results are due to something like 'the reptilian brain has not evolved ... due to survival...blah blah blah...'
I need to remember to have clear vision and tame my mind's inclination to enjoy marginalized fiction...unless, of course, I am in a creative or escapist mode! Oh - and I need courage. Lots of it.
In Truth and Beauty....
Image Courtesy of Wikipedia:
Monkeys In a Plum Tree by Mori Sosen