Archive | January, 2014

Under the Stairs


Under the stairs there’s a little door that leads to a little room. Everywhere I’ve ever lived there’s been one. I remember the one with all my grandmother’s beautiful perfume bottle with yellow liquids made from essences of flowers.  I would spend hours pouring and mixing them in my ‘chemistry lab’ and somehow was still able to breathe.

Under the stairs are perfect places for little people to go….private, hidden, yet right in the middle of it all! For Grandboy Oliver, it’s The Lalay Bug House with many beds and chairs and little people that can all fit into one! No matter how old I get, no matter how hard it might ever be to fold myself small enough for a moment with and as a child, there will always be a place for magic and wonder under the stairs! Thank you, Oliver, for taking me there once again…to be a child under the stairs!

UndertheStairs1 UndertheStairs2 UndertheStairs UndertheStairs5

The Birthday Pillow



January 4th, yesterday, was my birthday! Thank you all for best wishes! And thank you Mom and Dad for birthing and loving me even to this very day! For introducing me to unconditional love, the power of connectedness, creativity and caring and the eternal oneness of us all that’s so incredibly designed in the universe! Thank you for Figi Stories on my Daddy’s knee, the opportunity to grow up with incredible siblings and develop a sense of community with those around me, even complete strangers. Thank you for so much more than I could ever even know or think of to write down!

…this brings me to…THE BIRTHDAY PILLOW.

My friend Sarah is the one who calls it to my attention over and over. Whenever Sarah is over to our house, she notices that the Birthday Pillow is in a different place! “Ann, you should write a book about THE BIRTHDAY PILLOW! It seems to have a life of its own. Though, I think it is really Sarah’s story to write, since she remembers all the places it has gone better than I, I’ll at least start the process of writing... something today.

Small, rectangular, and carefully stitched with the letters Happy Birthday, this little pillow first sat on our oldest son’s bed on one of his young birthdays…not sure what year…perhaps 4 or 5? one of the years when he was deciphering the code of letters that create written words that express meaning. And from there the pillow had conscious placement from time to time in places or rooms that celebrated remembrances of those amazing first beginnings of each of our children…moments when new spaces in our hearts opened to hold them forever on. New persons that became part of our heartbeats…that forever carved spaces in our hearts that could hold them beyond the end of time! A small pillow could never express all those moments and the love they grew and continue to grow in us!

Over the years…the pillow moved…from room to room, from house to house, from floor to high shelves, to bags of extra pillows looking for a place to be, to special moments from time to time when its words were timely for a day and a specific person. The letters and words there even on ‘off days’…a reminder that special people were born into our lives and that someone is being born somewhere in the world every second.

It’s been through the washer and dryer…for dust seems to be born every split second, faster than eyes could ever blink! It’s had special moments in playful pillow fights, been a perfect doll pillow on a doll bed, and even been used in games of kickpillow, a game I remember playing with my siblings as a child on rainy days…similar to kickball, but played in a large room with a small pillow…usually best if it’s round. I remember trying it with our kids, but they seemed to go for real sports instead.

Though the letters and borders of little birthday candles must have been carefully designed and stitched when the pillow itself was birthed, that was the last loving care it received, since our lives never carved time to tend to it. Aptly so, the BIRTHDAY PILLOW over the years hasn’t been able to contain all the birthdays that have been stuffed into its 30 some years of life…so one of its edges has frayed and the stitches that have held it together over the years have come apart. Perhaps 10 or so years ago, I briefly tended the sweet little pillow that has so loyally stayed with us, even when we shove it aside for so many unbirthday days in our family, by at least pinning the opening shut so its stuffing wouldn’t come out . That’s as far as my tenderness went, and to this very day, our sweet little birthday pillow is held together by straight pins.

Today, little birthday pillow, January 5th, I declare as YOUR birthday!  and I shall gather a needle and thread and stitch your 10 year old boo boo so that your stuffing stays in and the pins no longer pierce your precious pillow self! I know not your true story nor your true birth day and I may never know. But I love you still and forever for celebrating with us the births in our lives, real and metaphorical, chronological and spiritually eternal.

Thank you for always being around to remind us of all new beginnings, in new and unlikely places and moments in our lives. As for writing a book about you. I think I’ll commit to listening more to you, to Sarah, to LIFE…and see what develops! So take heart, sweet pillow…your story will grow also over time. Love and thanks from Mossy Me!


Old White Paint

white paintToday as I was painting more ‘old white’ paint on our brick chimney, I had many flashbacks and associations come to mind…one recurring dream since childhood: I dreamed that our house on Hampstead Place was on fire. I and my two brothers were upstairs and my mom gave us each a small square shallow crystal glass dish and said, “Don’t worry we’ll be fine. Go to your rooms and pack all of your things into your dish while I paint the stairs white. The white paint will keep the stairs from burning so you will have time to collect your things and run down the stairs to safety. I was amazed at how many things I could fit in my little dish and that everything happened just as my mom had said. Somewhere in the back of my head, in my anciently formed brain stem lies a belief that white paint can resist fire.

A few more strokes of paint on the chimney and my mind traveled to Senior year in high school when I was the publicity chairman for our senior play, Harvey. We decided to make a giant rabbit that would sit in the auditorium which had really high theater-like ceilings. So measurements were taken, plans were drawn, and supplies gathered to  make a 36 foot tall, 3 feet deep and 8 foot wide white rabbit. ‘Harvey’ would have a wide opening where we could put up a ticket table and distribute tickets from the rabbit. When people sold a certain number they would get their Harvey t-shirts to also publicize the play. Our great team of workers met out at our driveway in the country over the weekend to build a frame, cover it with chicken wire and roll corrugated cardboard over the top ears and all the way down the edges as well as underneath the rabbit. The final step was, of course, ‘white paint’. Having dreamt of the virtues of ‘white paint.’ I was sure that getting waterproof white paint would do the trick on the cardboard to make the whole rabbit waterproof! So we painted away, adding whiskers and a little pink inside the ears. Proudly, we loaded it on a flatbed trailer and pulled it behind the jeep all the way to the front of the high school! This was a Sunday afternoon, and though the sky was overcast, I assured everyone that the paint would ward off any water that might be attracted to our cardboard rabbit. When we reached the school, worries of rain dropped from our minds as we were presented with another more immediate problem: Harvey might fit in the auditorium, but how would we get him through the front door of the school itself?! A quick practical decision followed our new dilemma: we’ll mount it over the front door of the school on the outside and anchor his ears from the second story chemistry classroom? windows. This would give our play even MORE publicity!  Our industrious team got right to work using ship knots and slip knots to hold Harvey in place arched over the doorways to the school where everyone would pass Monday morning! Remembrance of any rain issues were long replaced by the satisfaction of solving our mis-measured mistake in such a brilliantly executed way! We each went our separate ways to hurriedly finish leftover homework before Monday morning. As I lay in bed that night hearing rain pattering on the roof, I found solace in remembering the waterproof white paint that would save Harvey’s skin and ours from the wet night that followed. White paint may solve our chimney/dark room problem, but one thing it didn’t do was to waterproof corrugated cardboard. Picture the next morning, the school principal standing in the doorway under an ominously slumping Harvey, trying to coach high school students through the shriveled archway to the inside of the school.
White waterproof paint MUST keep water out of something! but not 36 foot cardboard rabbits in the rain!  Somewhere in the back of my head in my anciently formed brain stem lies a belief that white paint can resist water.

And now, as I’ve almost finished painting the last few bricks, white paint is finally getting to shine. For finally the white paint is only asked to be white paint, just as it is…not to resist anything…just being white paint is enough. Though I have to admit that you do remind me so much of my very favorite ice cream: caribbean coconut!  even though I know you’re really not. Your only white paint.


Easing Back into Painting

chimney6It’s been awhile since I’ve painting so I’m starting with the bigger brushes! Before Christmas, decided we needed more light in our lives and after much deliberation and research, plunged into painting the dark brick chimney in the middle of our house with chalk paint! Quite a plunge that once started meant…stick with it and finish it! Alex and I were quite surprised with how fast it went and how much it has lightened up the middle of our house! We did it with a color called ‘old white’ that’s creamy and reminds me of my favorite ice cream, Talenti Carribean Coconut! Here are some of the pictures of the process!

Chimney1Chimney2Chimney3chimney4chimney5chimney6Truly, this is amazing paint, Anne Sloan Chalk Paint. It’s non-toxic, well…I wouldn’t eat it! (better to eat the coconut ice cream!) and it has no fumes or smell. It’s water-based, easy to clean and only took two coats. Drying time is incredibly fast, withing about 15 minutes. Many websites talk about using primers and multiple coats. I’m truly sold on this paint! If you go online, you can find small creative stores that carry it. I can’t wait to soruce up more things. But only AFTER I get back to my watercolors and finish helping Martha Julia Agnes Adele find her shoe!

Francklin’s Wrapping Frenzy

Francklin, our 3-legged dog, plunged into helping us get ready for Christmas with great passion! He took our wrapping to a whole new level, leaving no paper folded. His joy is so contagious that I’ll carry his passionate paper moment in my heart forever. Francklin won’t forget it either. He waited patiently to start the whole process over when I packed it all back in the box! What a sheer bundle of joy he is! I’m so grateful for his gentle spirit and boundless loving energy!

Francklin1 Francklin2Francklin3Francklin5Francklin6Francklin7Francklin8Francklin9Francklin10

Raw MossWhispers!

MossWhispers'14Mosswhispers called louder on this new day of the new year! ….
November came and I made some sort of decision. I’m not going to write or paint anything new until I ‘finish’ what I started. My brain convinced me, even against all the wise whispers I was hearing, that I needed to finish something completely and not keep rambling and writing on. So I stopped. I stopped to make workshops happen, though I refused to do the marketing that was needed to draw in more people, because i needed to prepare for the workshops.
I stopped. I stopped to focus on getting my first two books into ready form for printing hardbacks. I researched a zillion ways to self-publish. I checked a variety of different ways to make giclee prints of my paintings, and professional images for book publishing.
And at each point I stopped. I wanted more advice. I wanted assurance that the choices  I was making would work. And then I gave up. Time was running out. I needed to delve into living and loving. Time to get ready for family for Thanksgiving….then recuperate…then get ready for family for Christmas…move furniture, sort through things to give away, clean out drawers, and bins, and move beds, pianos, and cupboards, sell sofas, empty rooms, paint the fireplace bricks! Meanwhile, sort pills for my chronic lyme, fill prescriptions, fix cars, visit my parents, Alex’s parents, grandbabies,…

Time is and was full! Life is and was full! Being with as much family as I could filled me with great joy and gratitude. That stays with me even as the moments are over. I could write about the special times…and keep writing…and yet what I’m wanting to get to is NOW.
Now…today, January 1, 2014.
And even to write about NOW, I need to paint some of the background:

Something began going through my body 3 days ago…great pains, stiffness in my neck and spine like I’ve never felt before. My whole brain stem and spine seemed swollen and screaming out! Something needed to be let go! Something needed to move on out of me! And the moving felt very stubborn, old and not so willing to go. The pain persistently unpleasant. The struggle significantly sifting throughout my body. Fever, joint pain, cramps, sharp pains, dull pains…all needing to have its say before it would go!

As this pain was persisting, I could feel something else at work within me…something that wanted to line things up in a purposeful, positive, proactive way. For as my body was frozen with pain, and heat was weaving in waves trying to find a way out as beads of sweat on my forehead and sore tingling through the hair follicles on my head…breath was still moving in and out of me,  a healing hand would touch to tenderize the pain, and my thoughts came clear even through dull aches in my face and forehead.
I began to see things that needed to be addressed and I was amazed to watch myself tackle them…creatively dealing with finances, asking for advice and help from those sharper and more creative than I, still washing clothes, sorting through boxes, making phone calls. I noticed I began to think more long term than before and articulate issues for us to focus on to create our lives as we want them. I won’t settle for staying stuck, nor will I allow wallowing in mud. Deafening our lifesongs with depressive broken records will not serve usI Time for more spontaneous connection with people that matter to me. Oh, that I will continue connecting!

So now…is the pain gone? No, not gone…but it’s just being in its place. It’s gotten my attention. I’m moving now, and I’m fine to let it move on out when it’s ready. Healing is happening…on all levels so I know my body will heal as well. Life does that on all fronts I’ve come to realize.

So…out goes the old, the part that doesn’t need to be anymore, and in comes the new, the unknown, the next adventure. And it won’t all be shiny either. New pains may replace some old ones…but they too will move on…just as the precious moments that i love so!
Are all things finished? Is the pain gone? Do I know what are the best choices to make? Do I know where I’m going? Not really.
What’s clear to me is that life still is as it is, and that it probably won’t be as it was, and I don’t need to stop living to finish anything…I can trust more in the process.

And I don’t even have to write, do, say, or be anything profound!
A whisper will do…loud or soft! and THAT is PROFOUNDLY ENOUGH!