Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Quiet at the Quill

"Voluptates commendat rarior usus."
"Rare indulgence produces greater pleasure."
Juvenal - Satire XI. 208

Just a note to let you know that things will be quiet at the Quill for a few days as I am whisking my husband off for a rare indulgence, a four day weekend to a quaint little remote cabin overlooking a slow moving lazy river where the rainbow trout and quality time alone will be plentiful. I hope you all have a great weekend - I plan to!

Photo: Wooden vintage stamps and a nature collage note card

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Just Breathe in the Beauty

"All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the Soul."
Pope - Essay on Man Ep. I. L. 267

So often our daily lives are so full and so busy that we hardly pause for a breath before we press on to the next activity or commitment, we forget to just be still and know God, to enjoy Him and His creation. I invite you to pause, be still, and let the beauty of the Lord refresh and refill you.

"And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good." Genesis 1:31

I love nature,
Sunshine in the early morn,
Stars that are night time born,

Ocean waves and seagull cries, Winter snow and stormy gray skies,
Soft purring cats, flowers, and leafy green trees,
But above all, I want to love You, Lord, more than these.
God, You are an artist who can paint a sunset sky,
Your art ushers in each new morning that goes by,
Such breath taking beauty they all are to behold,
But bathe me in the beauty of Your Word,
Which is better than silver and richer than gold!
You are dreamer with an imagination bigger than anything,
You thought to give sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing!
Open these gifts that I might hear, taste, touch, and see,
Myself changed by Your Word, a sweet smelling savor unto Thee!
My Praise:
God, I love Your world! There is nothing that exists that was not made by You. You spoke it into being and Your creation leaves me breathless!

Photo's: 1. View of sunrise in our side yard, 2. Bird Island ,Destin, FL, 3. View of treetops to the west of my home, 4. Kitty resting on our deck rail, 5. Sunset over Waikoloa Beach, the Big Island of Hawaii, 6. Sunrise over the sand dunes of St. Simons Island, GA, 7. Scenic Hwy. 19 on the Big Island of Hawaii, 8. The heavens above me, and 9. My Grandmother's hollyhocks

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Stories of My Stuff

"Perhaps the remembrance of these things will prove a source of future pleasure."

Virgil -Eneid I. 203

Recently a friend of mine came over for a visit. As we sat in my tiny dinning nook munching on muffins and fresh fruit, sipping hot tea there was a lull in the conversation. She sat gazing around at my home and asked me about an item on a shelf and where I got it. I told her it belonged to my great grandmother and relayed the memory I had that was attached to the object. The longer we visited the more she asked about the stories behind my stuff. She sighed and said she wished she had such rich stories and memories. This, along with a recent conversation I had with my aunt about some things she has in her home that I have been instructed not to let her son throw out because he won't know what it is, why she had it, or the story behind it, got me thinking about all the stuff I have, who gave it to me, why I have it, and the story behind it. For some reason family members trust me to have their treasures and the memories that go with them.

I thought this would be a fun thing to post on from time to time so my children will have this knowledge before they sell all my stuff to some quirky junk lady for twenty-five cents each! Maybe they will see what a rich family history they have and that the value is in the memory and not the object. I have promised not to pass along my stuff unless they really want it and I will not haunt them nor the lucky quirky junk lady, who might just think she scored big with the black poodle spice holder with all her little spice holding babies hanging on both sides! Oops, I forgot I gave that to my dad. My dad and step-mother actually had an argument over who's spice poodle was displayed in their kitchen, it was hers, I had dad's. I saved their marriage and added to their poodle parade. Sorry kids, the spice poodle is spoken for.
Okay, aside from a few really strange things I have inherited over the years, I have treasured the trust and use of the things put into my care. One such instance was a large box that was given to me when I was 12 by a relative of a deceased family member. My mother sat close by oohing over each thing I unwrapped. I was thrilled with the box until I got to the bottom and found a collection of shot glasses, a weird collection of outhouse salt and pepper shakers with "S" and "P" above the doors, and the strangest of all, an anatomically correct sock monkey, NONE of which do I still own, because my mother quickly confiscated them. About the time I pulled out the sock monkey her oohs turned into a strangled gasp followed by a quick grasp of said monkey whisking him out of sight. Bless her heart, she thought the salt and peppers tasteless and tacky, the shot glasses totally inappropriate in our tea-totaling household much less for a 12 year old, and the monkey nearly sent her southern self into an actual swoon. The relative who passed the box to me apologized to my mother profusely and explained that they had only gone partially through the box and assumed there were just other knick knacks and photos in the contents.

I come from a rich line of story tellers and I have tried to keep that tradition alive with my own children. As much as I love passing on family treasures and their history I have an even greater desire to leave my children and my grandson a more valuable legacy, a legacy of faith. More than the memories which might be lost or fade with time, more than objects that can be broken or discarded, more than anything I want to will to them the stories of how God sustained us in tough times, how He blessed us so richly, how He protected us, how He provided for us, how He made a way for us through His son for eternal life. I want them to enjoy what they have here but to hold it lightly and I want them to find joy in eternal things and to hold onto them tightly. I hope that when they open that big box of faith that they can pull out the memories and ooh and ahh over them in awe and wonder at what God had done. I hope their big box contains a few surprises to unwrap along the way, ones that will make them laugh at the remembering and retelling of them. I hope there will be no apologies or regrets about what their boxes of faith contain and I hope they too will have wonderful stories of their stuff.

Photos: 1. My Dinning Nook 2. Vintage Spice Poodle Holder

Saturday, September 8, 2007

What Color is Your Grandmother? Mine is Cherry Cobbler Red.....

"Loveliest of women! heaven is in thy soul,
Beauty and virtue shine forever round thee,
Bright'ning each other! Thou art all divine!"
Addison - Cato. Act III Sc.2

I recently bought a wonderful book entitled Visual Chronicles by Linda Woods and Karen Dinino. It is a wonderful guide to creating art journals. I was really inspired by creating a personal palette as described on pages 12 and 13 of the book. You start with a person, someone important in your life. You think of what colors come to mind when you think of that person. You write down their name, color or colors associated with them as well as emotions or patterns. This will serve as inspiration for journal prompts that trigger memories. There is much more to this exercise than I am describing here, I would recommend checking out the book for full details. I decided to create my personal palette on paint chips. I went to a local home center and picked out the exact color chips with perfect names on them for my palette, using the back for my notations.

When I saw the Cherry Cobbler Red chip my Grandmother instantly came to mind. A new visual journal page was born. The next day I popped into one of my favorite flea markets and found a few sheets of vintage wrapping paper in a bundle for $1.00! I bought the bundle for just one piece of paper, it has a silver-blue background, sprinkled with little white dots, and tiny bunches of cherries on it. It was the perfect paper to build my page on. A few little lines kept rattling around in my head for several days until I finally sat down to release them. The result was a poem about my Grandmother, which I entitled:
What Color is Your Grandmother?

To create the two page spread I used gel medium to adhere the wrapping paper to my book pages. I used a paint chip, some lace edging and ribbon, a bit of the wrapping paper, glue, and a permanent marker to create a mini apron and adhered it to the page. Next I typed up the poem, printed it out, and trimmed it to an 8 in. x 8 in. square. Using a simple fold I turned it into a pop-open element. I glued a piece of thin cardboard to the front and back squares. I used two pieces of wrapping paper and rick rack to dress up the front of the poem pop-open. I adhered twine to the back of the piece before attaching it to the other page. I tied the twine across the piece to keep it from flapping open. For the edges of the poem I layered several colors of chalks to soften the white paper, sealing it with a spray fixative, and then added a tiny piece of wrapping paper mounted on a piece of the cardboard as a decorative embellishment. I finished off the page by adding the poems title with various stamps in red and black ink, and a few pictures of my Grandmother in her signature red apron.

So I leave you with this question:

What Color is Your Grandmother?
Mine is Cherry Cobbler Red
The color of her apron that she daily puts about her head.
She gathers up the strings, and ties them in a bow,
My Grandmother's signature Red bib apron is in place come rain, shine, or snow.
I'd know that she's my Granny if you stood her in a line,
She'd be the one with sun-kissed skin and laughing blue eyes,
The one with the flaming Red apron, she would be mine!
She'd be the one that's jolly, merry, and light of heart,
But it'd be her Cherry Cobbler Red apron that would set her quite apart.
Her apron it is soft and it never seems to fade,
It's always there about her, to come to her aid.
A lifted hem can shoo a chicken back into its coop,
It can dry off dish-pan hands after feeding our large troop.
It can dab the tear of a grandchild that has fallen and skinned a knee,
It can play peek-a-boo with a babe that's wee.
It can be borrowed and turned into a super hero cape,
And it can be snuggled into, as a soothing escape.
It can be serviceable to cook and clean and such,
But it would just be a plain old apron without my Granny's touch.
So what color is your Grandmother?
Mine is Cherry Cobble Red ,
It's the color of her apron that she daily puts about her head.

Photos: 1. My beloved Grandmother 2. My Altered Art Journal

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Let Patience Have It's Perfect Work

"Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait."
Longfellow - A Psalm of Life St.9

It is hard to work your way from a weed to a flower, let patience have it's perfect work!
Patience may be a virtue but I have none when it comes to computer technology! It has taken me nearly two weeks to make two posts and now I am attempting a third, if our network box thing will co-operate. I am unable to access my email and until just now this blog. We have reset the network connection, checked the box connections, and all manner tips and tricks to no avail! Scripture tells us to let patience have it's perfect work, well I must really be in need of perfecting or just a large dose of good old fashioned patience. I realize now just how much perfecting I need when I let a little thing like a computer glitch push my buttons and get me so out of joint. If I can't handle the small things in life, how will I react when the big things come along? Hopefully I will conquer these little tests and be prepared for life's greater challenges to come.

I must not have tested well, it has been yet another week with no new post much less Internet access. We finally figured out that we had a dual problem, one on our carriers end and one on our end. Both are now solved and I am once again able to post, surf, and get email. (Sigh of relief!)

This all got me to thinking about the difference in being made perfect and trying to be perfect, which are two totally different things. With my type-A personality, striving for perfectionism rather than being perfected are a constant struggle. My self-imposed perfectionism usually leaves me disappointed and feeling like I'll never live up to my own expectations so how can I possibly live up to God's? The thing is that I often set my sights higher than God would have me to go. He accepts me as I am, flaws and all and His goal is a much slower pace than mine. I am constantly trying to achieve in the here and now and He is growing me little by little towards eternity. Just like the loss of my Internet connection, there is a problem on my part with my connection with God. He is telling me to be still and to know Him while I get busy trying to do for Him. Sometimes I am not still enough to get a good connection much less lean on or learn from my carrier. At these times God gently nudges me and reminds me that His thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways, (which is a great relief considering that I sometimes struggle with stinking thinking and am directionally challenged). I find that when I give up my struggle and walk at His pace with His purpose in mind that I am as perfect as I need to be in that moment and if that is good enough for God, then it certainly is good enough for me. (Even bigger sigh of relief!)

Photos: 1. Roadside Weed 2. Wildflower

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