Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Creativity Censor

One of these pieces will be the beginning of at least one May project. Which makes me think immediately of the downside of defining "create" in terms of something you can show off. For the month of May, that's how I will define it, but for the rest of the time, I like to think of it in broader terms. I like to think of it as how we connect with the world around us. The choices we make in how we express ourselves. That's art too.

I hate hearing people say "I'm not creative." I can say "I'm creative" and feel okay about it, but just this morning I looked at an application for joining an artist coalition to support it, and one of the boxes to check was "I am an artist" -- and I paused. I didn't know whether I should check it. Crazy. What did they mean by artist? Is it your job? do you sell? We're all artists is what I always say, and yet I couldn't check the box for some reason. I know that as innate as our desire is for self expression, we censor ourselves and judge ourselves way too much. I am so guilty.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Dinner Talk

A former nun, a former gymnast, a phone booth cleaner, an old hippie and someone who painted stripes in parking lots. Seemingly dissimilar people and yet what great dinner companions we made -- and surprisingly at this stage in our lives we had a lot in common. Current job overlap, thoughts about what we'd do when we retired and didn't have to worry about getting paid, an appreciation for where we've been and how we got here.

I don't think we realize when we're living a young life that we're creating memories and experiences for later on. That we need to savor the now. We're so intent on getting past the present that sometimes we don't acknowledge it, let alone enjoy it. And it's not even just when we're young. It's now, it's still. It's hard to be in the moment without thinking about what comes next. We're always looking ahead. Sometimes it's called planning, sometimes dreaming.

So, at what point does it become more fun to look backwards than forward?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Everyday in May

The French Toast Girl posted a challenge on her blog to commit to create something every day in the month of May. I'm thinking about it. Her rules: they can be tiny. Or crap. Collages. Photos. Writings. Anything you want -- the idea being that life functions better when you create s-o-m-e-t-h-i-n-g.

I know that waking each day knowing I'm going to create something changes the quality of my day. It's something about the intention. So, creating makes for a better day. Still, I postpone, procrastinate, diddle. Something about being human.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I've had three different dreams lately where I can't find my car. I've either parked it and can't get to it or I can't locate it. In one dream, I know where it is, but I'm on a grassy path going down a hill and my car is on the street, separated from me by a dense row of trees.

A search on dream symbols said that cars are symbols of our bodies--the vehicles which our spiritual selves use as a means of experiencing physical reality. Dreams of cars, or most precisely, dreams of what is going on with the cars are symbols of how our psyche feels about what it is experiencing in waking life. All this makes sense to me because I've felt out of sync lately; I'm not satisfied with my work structure; I'm needing more time for me. I've been in a strange space. I've felt lost.

At least the car hasn't crashed and the brakes work.

Monday, April 23, 2007

from Everyday Sacred

Small kindnesses make a difference -- they have echoes out of proportion to the effort they take. --Sue Bender

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Sometimes the most difficult thing in the world is to do nothing. My Saturday to-do list is in a repeating loop in my head and each item involves getting dressed, making choices, using energy. I want to do nothing. I want to sit and watch the sun play with the leaves. I want to listen to the rhythm of the wind dance through the azaelas. I want to forget how many minutes are in an hour. I just want to be.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Austin Fine Arts Festival

It was a perfect day for an arts festival. It was sunny, it was warm; everyone was in a good mood because the rain was over and the tents were back up. There were hundreds of inspirations, but here are a few of the artists that grabbed my eye and made me go "Wow" ---

Diana Stetson, who is always a favorite for me. One of her pieces had this delicious quote: "Find yourself a cup of tea. The teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things." Her work is such a peaceful combination of words, elements, color.

Then there was Andrew Carson. He had to be ecstatic that the wind was helping him show off his kinetic sculptures. So whimsical, so delightful. Everyone walked away with a smile on their face, wishing they had the nerve or the cash to buy one.

The piece I wanted most to buy but didn't was the cast bronze piece that looked like origami unfolding. You really had to touch it to believe it wasn't paper. Who was this masked artist? I have no idea who the artist is. So sad.

Another standout for me was an artist from Abiqui, NM who used the metal from old automobiles for the frames of his photographs. The photographs were pictures of the earth or nature that mirrored the patina of the frame surrounding it. No manipulation of color, just art, a sense of the purist.

Paper Expressions was such an unremarkable name for the most remarkable art created by artists Hetty and Norman Metzger. They create this incredible texture and color with hundreds of tiny folded boxes that absolutely mesmerize the eye. A visual feast.

A few art web sites I picked up from business cards --

Sunday, April 15, 2007

1886 Bakery, Driskill Hotel, Austin, Texas

Rule number one. Don't order oatmeal in a restaurant unless (1) it's been highly recommended by someone you respect or (2) you've actually seen a bowl of it. I violated my own rule and ended up eating only the berries and golden raisins and then asking for a bowl of the granola instead, which although "homemade" won't go on the record as being "freshly homemade." The coffee, on the other hand, was dee-lish. Two cups at the counter with a couple celebrating their 38th wedding anniversary and the breakfast hour, even with bad oatmeal, was enough to leave me with a smile.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sewing Lessons

I learned to sew when I was 10 or 12. My mother taught me. I remember she would use case knives instead of straight pins to hold the pattern down when she was cutting things out. It never occurred to me that not everyone did that. When I think back, I realize that sewing was one of the first ways I learned to express my individuality and creativity. Like the white sailor dress with miles of red rickrack every size imaginable. I loved that dress.

Sewing taught me to think in the abstract. I learned to solve puzzles, to solve problems. I learned to appreciate details, the importance of completing a project, and the disappointment when it wasn’t as I expected it would be. Like the black broadcloth straight skirt with the perfect zipper – except that it was inside out.

Fabrics fulfilled a need for color, patterns and texture, and were much like paper is to me now. Fabrics provided a memory of the past and gave life to visions. Though I don’t sew any more, I think learning to look at things in terms of how to construct it and how to change it to make it my own, is part of just about everything I do now.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Friday Morning at the Gym

I took the day off work to volunteer at the Spring Garden Fest but it poured down rain, and although the plant people were still carrying in things to sell, it didn't make much sense to sit in a wet tent all day with wind and occasional lightning. I opted to spend the morning at the gym which proved to be a surreal experience for a Friday morning. Since I usually go after work, I'm more accustomed to middle-aged dads trying to get rid of the belly and women fighting their saddlebags. This morning it was if I walked onto the set of Coccoon. Everyone had white hair. They were gathered around, drinking their (free YMCA) coffee and getting their social fix. It was like junior high fast forwarded. The flirt was there, the coy one, the jokester, and the quiet ones. I was reminded of the philosophy that however you are at 30, is how you'll be at 72. Looking at this group, I probably have to agree.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Pencil Width

Kathleen Norris wrote an essay in which she talks about the differences in the landscapes of New York City and the Dakota flatlands. She writes that someone who sees beauty in the busyness of New York might be challenged to see beauty in the flatlands. The eye has to work to see beauty in slight variations; has to become sensitized to see and appreciate small differences.

I'm in the middle of learning Roman letters using a broad-edge pen and then using a pencil to actually draw the letters; I'm learning to see what a difference a pencil point width can make in a shape; how little it takes to create elegance or lose it. These slight variations, these little changes should become part of our everyday life. Sometimes I think we get in the trap of thinking that change has to be dramatic to make a difference or be worthwhile. We think we have to run a marathon when walking 10 minutes might be enough. Well, maybe 30:)

I love the idea that small changes can make big differences. It makes it all so attainable. It's just about noticing, about being aware. Sensitizing eye, heart and mind.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ten Things

An old post from a previous comment section of Due South blog (6 months old) that I didn't want to lose. Ten things that happened this week -- or the week of October 31, as it was. I still think this is a great way to think about your week.

1. Halloween came and went with no tricksters and a minimum of treaters. The best costume was the lady bug, a red tulle dress with big black dots, black ballet slippers and gauzy filigree wings that magically came out her pink ski parka.

2. I went to a 60th birthday dinner party for a golf buddy of Tom’s. About 40 people were there. Somehow during the evening, the conversation turned to how many times you’d been in jail, to which one man who loved his red wine, admitted to being in jail 6 times. His wife dropped her jaw, arched one brow, jerked her head and said “Out. We need to smoke and talk.”

3. I cooked some halibut that a friend caught in Alaska. Served it with a Romesco sauce and kalamata olive/parsley relish. I felt like Emeril. Bam!

4. On my morning walk in the neighborhood (before daybreak), I saw a young fox on the Jewish playground going under the fence. I guess he was going back to his “nest” which must mean he too lives in the neighborhood.

5. On Wednesday night, during a discussion at church about Raymond Carver’s story One Small Thing, someone saw a mouse run under the bookcase. Everyone just ignored it because after all, it was just one small thing. Besides that, someone pointed out it was be a church mouse.

6. We had a huge barred owl in our tree last Sunday. The bluejays screeched and flew in circles.

7. I ordered and received a copy of my ex-husband’s first published book of poetry. The cover states that his collaboration with his (current) wife produced three children, which pissed me off because they didn’t really have 3 children--they only had one–and one of their “collaborative” three is really my daughter Sarah.

8. I went to a Day of the Dead Altar exhibit and was struck by the effort and love that went into those altars.

9. I saw dancers celebrating the Day of the Dead with fire sticks, eating fire to the music of drums. It was cold outside but the street was so jammed with celebrants that no one seemed to care. (Same event as above, but since one was inside and one was outside, I’m counting it as two.)

10. I stopped for coffee at a place I’d never been to before – “The Coffee Grinder – Seattle Style.” I asked what Seattle style meant and he said when it opened 12 years ago, Seattle was known for small coffee shops – this was before Starbucks – people would just get their coffee and go – it wasn’t a lounge. So they opened the shop without chairs

Not bad for a week in Tulsa America. A nice exercise. Examining your life in better light.