Archive | January, 2014

Celebrate the Silence of the Snowflake

Snow Pitcher

On the mantel is my favorite pitcher. On it is written, “Celebrate the Silence of the Snowflake.” I found it at a thrift store, and a special friend and I share it back and forth. It happened to be here for this snow. I wondered if the words written on it were some famous quote. Sofar, I haven’t found the source. Yet, it is part of the snow celebration! For the snow muffles the sounds of school buses, the sounds of cars, and footsteps as we usually know them. With its silence it brings a brand new world of awe. Stay warm, everyone! And sleep tight!

Quiet scrunches of the feet.

A blanket of white tucks the world in tight.

Wrinkles of mud and crackles of leaves,

Hidden and smoothed from sight and sound.

Earthworms deep beneath the ground

Huddle round each other in a survival hug.

Light and shadows play their games

To celebrate the silence the snowflake brings.

A Big Love

image A very special person in our lives died last night. EVA…GRAN…the woman with the biggest heart and hugs for all babes and children, including us big ones! She cared so much that I think she must have been one of the strong ones who keeps all hearts beating and the world forever turning.
Something about just being in her presence made everything right. Eva, I’m sad not to have been nearby to give you one more hug, and to put our gran babes in your arms. So much of the love that comes through us, and now on to them and out in the world is because of you and how you loved us and so many more! We are so grateful to have been with you during our lives.
The tears coming down my face aren’t just mine. They water and nourish so many feelings and memories that will forever grow in our hearts and lives. Thanks for helping us learn big love. We love you forever.

Surprise Balls!

Surprise!

Surprise balls! and they weren’t always round!

Life with my family and cousins in the mountains was like unraveling a surprise ball, new colors, new surprises, every moment…memories never to be rolled back together in exactly the same way! And believe me, I’ve tried over the years! In the summer we’d travel as a family up the windy mountain road through Sparta and Elkin, past the little porch holding up a shack on the side of the road, and a man sitting there who had the longest beard I’d ever seen! We were convinced he must have been very old and had started his beard when he was a newborn. Even the mountain roads themselves now seemed like the beginning of unraveling those amazing surprise balls.
Up at the Inn at Roaring Gap, there was a tiny little gift shop full of unusual things. Off in one corner, close enough for short people like me to reach was a basket and a shelf full of these amazing Surprise Balls in a variety of shapes… Swans, Ducks, Fairies, and Such! Each was about the size of a big softball! Granny would let us choose one, and if we ever could get past that first step, the second of letting ourselves unravel such beautiful creatures was even harder. Imagine a beautiful swan with a long graceful neck and majestic wing feathers, endearing eyes, and a bright orange beak! It was so tempting to take it home, name it, and build it a beautiful little forever nest. And it was equally as tempting to defeather and unravel her to uncover even more magic deep in the heart of the Swan.
I remember carefully pulling off each feather and sorting them to piles of shapes and sizes. Then I’d carefully unravel the thin strip of white crepe paper, trying to guess what the color was I’d see underneath that would be coming next. When one color of crepe paper would end and new was about to begin, there would be a tiny surprise that would fall into my lap from unraveling. Then a pale pink crepe color would take over my unwinding process. Eagerly I’d unwind the pink, trying to guess the next color to emerge, and magic momentum would build as I anticipated a new little surprise dropping in my lap. The surprise were so fun: a miniature harmonica, a little man strapped to a parachute, a shrunken sponge, a special ring, a tiny maze puzzle, and on and on! The changes of crepe colors were enough of a surprise, and half the fun for me was in trying to rewind my surprise ball, and ending with a similar shape as what was in the beginning. Sometimes the swan would transform into a less beautiful bird, but I would never classify it as the ugly duckling.
These surprise creatures were embedded in my memory forever and many a time I would try my hand at materializing that memory. Probably my best attempt was when I made a Pregnant Surprise Ball for a Baby Shower. It took me forever, first of all to collect appropriate little baby items that would fit in tiny spaces and easily be wrapped cozily with crepe paper…pacifier, diaper pins, tiny board books, and on an on…In the end ‘she’ (the surprise ball) was ‘surprisingly quite pregnant’ by the time I finished her! I’m amazed I made it to the shower before the baby came!

My plan had been to make it into the studio tonight to make a surprise ball, but that will need to be another day!

Meanwhile, I’ll unravel surprise plans in my dreams! Sleep well!

The Fairie of the Shoe

I am the Fairie of the Shoe.Shoes

I left some magic here for you.

Though it seems quite plain,

Please look again…

For you will make it new!

The Shoe Fairie has been a visitor to our family since way before my lifetime. Of course that’s when she began for me! As a little girl, growing up on the same street as most all of my cousins, we shared many family traditions. If any of us had a sleepover to each others’ house, the shoe fairie seemed to know we were there! Leaving out ONE shoe was truly part of our bedtime routine, especially when we spent the night at Grannie’s house at the top of Scuffle Hill! We knew from the start that she didn’t like a greedy child and would only visit in the night under two conditions: 1. that we went to bed early enough, 2. that we left out only one shoe…for we must share her resources and time with other children.

Somehow the shoe fairie always knew what meant ‘magic’ to each child. For one it might be a special kind of ball, to another a shiny new pair of shoe strings, to another a very perfect acorn and cap… Some of the best for me were buckeyes for good luck, and any tiny little perfume bottles, empty or full!

Tonight is one of those nights when the shoe fairy will come…for family is here and it’s a special night.The challenge for the shoe fairy is often a chronic one…that of having enough energy to stay awake and complete her job. For everyone must take off their shoes and leave one out, and then get in bed in time for her to come! We’ll see how she handles these late nighters!
The Shoe Fairie also performs a kind service for the house. She often rummages through the drawers where extra stuff is stuffed. When things are cluttered in a drawer, they lose their magic. That part of them only comes to life when they are given away so that they can renew their meaning in someone’s life. Such is the way of the Shoe Fairie…to help ordinary things long forgotten been seen in new, extraordinary ways!

 

 

House Full of Beds!

There’s an old card trick I remember as a child, called something like The Royal Hotel. There’s a hotel with only four rooms.  Each room has four beds. One day, four Jacks walk into the lobby and each ask the Innkeeper for a room for the night. The Innkeeper gladly obliges by giving each of the Jacks a room of his own. “Of course, you know,” he said, “I’m obliged tRoyal Hotelo offer the other beds if any other travelers come through for the night.” The Jacks agreed to oblige, never thinking anyone else would be traveling on such a dark night. Lo and behold, the Innkeeper hears 4 knocks on the door. In walk 4 lovely queens. Now queens are of such royalty, he could not turn them away, especially on such a dark dark night. So he put one Queen in each of the four rooms. After they were all settled and had gotten over the surprise of sharing a room with a Jack, there were four more knocks at the Innkeeper’s door. In walked four stately Kings! The Innkeeper shrugged his shoulders, bowed to the Kings and gave them each a bed in each of the four rooms. The Innkeeper was beginning to be quite worried, for these members of royalty were not even of the same kingdoms! And what would he do if the highest of the land were to discover what he had done? As do such things happen…there again are four knocks to the Innkeeper’s door. And in walk the Highest in the Land, Four Aces! The Innkeeper becomes faced with quite a dilemma. If he were to put the Aces in the last bed in each room, Bedlam itself would occur. Shrewd and wise as the Innkeeper was, he came up with a plan. He said to the Aces, “I’m so relieved you have come to set straight a terrible problem that has occurred in my Inn. For some reason, in the dark of the night, the royal families have all become quite scrambled! I must assign each of you to one of my four rooms and get you to call them all into the Central Lobby for an important meeting. Perhaps then, by candlelight we can help them find their right rooms! So each Ace went to each room. Then they gathered each group and met in the Central Lobby. While the lights were off, the Innkeeper mysteriously solved the Royal Mixup simply by dividing and conquering 3 times!

This cardtrick was always a mystery to me as a child!  I LOVED it, and just now I’m beginning to remember why. I grew up in a family where people were always visiting and staying the night. My mother loved that sort of bedlam. We’d juggle rooms around to fit the crew, to accomodate babies or a toddler or two.I loved waking up and running down the hall to greet our visitors. It added new experiences and adventures to our lives. The larger the mix, the more the merriment! And having any people sleep over for the night was as magical as my favorite lithograph done by my wonderful cousin, Dillard!

Princess & PeaSeems like I’m forever tweaking rooms in this house to create sleeping spaces! Interesting concept since there are only two humans here, me and Alex, and two dogs. Yet as everyone knows, there’s nothing like having family come  ‘to live’ even if it’s only for one night and even if everyone comes at once! Well, this weekend for one night our Motley Motel will be full almost to the brim! I remember for my Mom, such bedlam was bliss to her! Likewise, it is for me!

So tweaking away, here’s the set up for this weekend’s marvelous crew:

My brother and his wife in the Bird Nest Room, Hannah/Landon/Baby Oliver in the LadyBug Room. Oliver gets the cozy closet. Alex and I, and Lovely Little Lucy Dog have the BunkBeds in the Laundry Sunflower Suite (it’s in high demand, must make reservations early!), Jay and April luck out and get the Aciu Studio Apartment, and Daniel gets a choice between an antique bed in the front Music Room or our Circus Sofa in the Sunny Room with a View! He will be lulled to sleep by snores of Lacy, Francklin and Iris, the three biggest dogs!

We still have one more sleeping option if only I felt well enough to fix it up. I call it The Sleeping House. It’s ‘the little house’ and is only big enough for one double bed. Guess I’ll get that one ready for the next time ‘the relatives come’! Just needs a little heat and insulation and it’s ready to go!

The only hard part for me to adjust to is not having the energy I used to have for such gatherings. Seems I give out easier and need more recuperation time. Yet to be together with people I love, to sit up at night chatting and laughing, to play games, to wake up and share ‘morning faces’ over a cup of coffee or whatever is someone’s ‘wake up’ routine are gifted moments I wouldn’t want to miss!

So bring it on! and y’all come!

 

Handsome Fellas!

Black:White2Black:White1It’s so rare to see our handsome doggies, Francklin and Lacy, all dressed in black and white along with handsome Alex, who’s dressed in black and white to sing at MLK DAY.      With such distinguished fellas in my midst, it’s hard not to share them! I love them all so much, even though the dogs shed alot more hair than Alex does!

 

Experimenting with Technology

As I learn to let go of my old computer, my ‘old way’ of using it, that apparently didn’t set well with its logic board! and try my wings at new ways to get things done, I’m experimenting along the way. Tonight, I borrowed an iPad to just play with whatever was on it. I couldn’t seem to access my Skype or get it to be hooked to the internet, so I just played with an app I saw sitting there.
BabyBirds1Here were my first attempts at finger scribbles. A whole new art for me, perhaps more like my early fingerpaint years!

BabyBirds2

What I am learning is that if I want to move forward with my writing/illustrating, one of many things I need to do is to become really serious about learning more about some technology tools!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Little Wooden Chair

I’m your little chair.
Come rest a minute.                                                            
Feel the floor under your feet.                                                            
Lay your arms on my arms.                                                                    
Let me hold you still while you be who you are.                                                 
I’m your little chair.                                                                      
Curl in my lap and let’s read one of your special books.                                       
I will not move from under you.                                                            
I’m here while you plan your next adventure.                                                 
I’ll be still and sturdy for you….                                                
Unless…you need me to take you to imaginary places on your magical living room carpet.         
If you need me to move, I can.                                                          
Just tip me over, climb on my back and off we’ll go!

Little Chair The little wooden chair sat in the corner of the living room. It sat quietly, and very still, looking quite distinguished. The arms and legs grew from branches of the old walnut tree in my Daddy’s backyard. The back slats were curved and carved from old bamboo, as was the bottom tightly caned from its thin strong slits. The rounded legs and arms were worn smooth, covered with old patina that could have told stories by itself. But the most fascinating thing was how the rounded pieces of wood that formed the back of the chair, were worn flat on the back. They almost looked like flat blades on a well-worn snow sled.

When the chair was tipped on its back, adventures began and along them followed sheer moments of delight. From there, we sat on some of the leg slats and went for a ride across the carpet, pushed from behind by our strong Daddy who was making car and train whistle sounds! Whoo-ooo whooo-ooo! we’d sound as we pulled our imaginary train whistles in the air and held on tightly as he slid around the curvy train tracks on our carpet. Magical moments with Dad.

 

“Circle of Compassion”

Twig on Fairy RingHow to Be in More Than One Place at a Time

Hmmm…time and space…that’s a BIG topic. I better start early for this one. Actually I think I’ve been working on time and space issues my whole life long and then some!
Only quantum physics can save me now! Or Madeline L’Engle. My favorite book of all time, her brilliant gift to us all:  A Wrinkle in Time. I still remember reading this book in one sitting in one chair in the living room when I was 11 years old. My hands were in fists the whole time. I don’t even know how I was able to turn the pages! Literally I think I inhaled it.
Tesseracting, I’ve been working on perfecting ever since! Sofar I’ve to come to the realization that it’s a ‘belief’ thing…That the wrinkling of time and space between point A and point B must be done by the perceiver, the believer. You should see me telling myself that when I’m in the car trying to get somewhere 25 minutes away in what the clock says I’m allowed only 10 minutes. Well it’s a little ‘lame’ to ‘believe’ that I can make it if I don’t start believing it a little sooner than that! I also can’t buy the ‘other’ approach of hearing someone say, “we’re late” when it’s not even the time we’re supposed to be there yet! To me, that’s not a healthy projection either! I can’t be late until I’m LATE.

But the bigger issue I’m waking up to this morning is how to be in two places at the same time when my body isn’t even moving there. Here’s my thought process:
I’m falling to sleep feeling awful, lots of pain. I’m waking up feeling awful, lots of pain.
I hobble downstairs and try stretching but then shortly plop on the sofa feeling the same pain. It just doesn’t seem to stay in the room where I’d like to leave it. That being the case, I’m resting a bit more hoping to then move a little more, then walk a bit, then soak a bit in some epsom salts. In the ‘MEANTIME’….the ‘betweentime’…I guess that’s between point A and point B or between some point where I am and the next point I’m hoping to be…In the meantime,…there must be something I can accomplish that might help me later get to point R or somewhere along my path?

This brings me to FAITHFULNESS….that’s the believing part that I WILL ‘move on down the line’ or I WILL make it full circle. Sometimes I feel like a train moving around the Roundhouse, being repaired, being prepared for my next part of my journey. I can envision and believe where that will be and I can trust that I will not be forever chugging around in the roundhouse.

I want to be with my Mom. I want to hold her hand, make sure she’s comfortable, okay, and knows how much I love her. Likewise I want to be with my Dad. I want to reassure him that we’re all holding hands on this one. And what I know is that my stamina and windows of time during each day have sofar only been for a few hours and then I’m back to feeling awful. Where do I then go to lay my head when that wave of pain and fatigue wells up? What good would I be to them in that sort of shape? So how to be at two places at once? How to care for me and my Mom….
What I know is that my Mom and Dad are in loving arms and hands with my brothers and sister and sister in laws and her nieces and church and friends. They have a circle of love and circles of light all around them. They have been creating circles like that for others all their lives. And I guess what I’m really seeing is that if point A and B are each ends of the diameter of a circle, then they’re connected anyway. So I’m right there with them! And they’re right here with me! The only part of me that gets in the way of knowing that is the part of me that thinks there are no circles! How can we live in the world we do and NOT know there are circles! Moons and stars and orbs of light. Earth and planets and holes in the ice! Eyeballs and horizons that are 360º.

So even zero means everything!

So Mom, I’m there now. I’m with you and Dad and all my siblings. And because I AM my body will also get around to being there, too. Sometimes it just takes it a little longer.

After writing all this, I came across Einstein’s wonderful quote. Could’ve just found that first! Thanks, Albert!
“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest as kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security. ” Albert Einstein
Quoted in H Eves Mathematical Circles Adieu (Boston 1977).

What Makes the Words Come?

InsideThisPencil

This is a poem posted on my refrigerator that I used to have in my classroom. It begins: “Inside this pencil crouch words that have never been written…” I love this poem and often think of it as I sit pecking away at my computer. As I think of pencils, I wonder….

If I wrote this with a pencil or pen, would I come up with something brilliant?
If I felt the friction of my hand pulling across the paper, would my thoughts pour more easily?
If I close my eyes and type while my hurting head lays back on my pillow, will my thoughts unfold and float to the surface of my head?
If I had started earlier today, would I have something more definitive to write?
If I could unroll all my tightened tired muscles, would words gladly appear on my sleeve?
What did I need to do today to have something written by now?
Perhaps if I’d not spent time thinking about my Mom,
had not spent time with Alex in the car, and hadn’t vacuumed words from the carpet to be ready for our son, daughter in law and grandbaby.
Perhaps if I take a nap right now…might I then discover something awakening in my mind that would be worthy of sharing?
Sometimes, Life just happens, and the process is hard to put into words.
Sometimes, just breathing in and breathing out is enough.
Sweet dreams to my Mom who ended up in the ER tonight.
May you have a restful night and awaken refreshed in the morning.
I’ll do that, too, Mama. We’re all holding hands. I love you.