Atmosphere, Art, and the Biltmore — Part 1

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 Atmosphere

 

A whirlwind weekend brings out all sorts of thoughts and emotions. Especially when you spend the special moments with people you really enjoy. Kids, mates, friends, cousins — all can bring a sense of magic and wonder to your life every time you turn around.

Spending a weekend in Ashville, North Carolina, was one of those times. It was a little bit of freedom, a little bit of music, a little bit of adventure. Though we live hundreds of miles apart, my friend and I met to renew friendship, share burst balloons, and explore ways to move forward in the world and ways of Creativity.

Every region has its own traditions, its own style, its own way of doing things. Midwest Wisconsin is a lot different from Western North Carolina. Ashville is a decent size city nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. Heat, humidity, and lush greenery run rampant through the streets and countryside. The people are gracious, drive like maniacs, and wonderfully creative.

The streets were filled with art galleries, outdoor eateries, and pubs full of music. Friday night the air was warm and humid and the streets full of artists strutting their goods. A bare-chested bearded dude with a pink rabbit hat walked his dog passed a girl painting henna hands and a poet who wrote you a personal poem for a small donation. Musicians of all colors and sizes hung out on street corners and in front of bistros, playing guitars, flutes, and violins. Trios one corner, a girl singing with a guitar across the street, all sharing their talent and the night.

Breweries offered their specialized creations while fruit bars mingled with marvelously unique chocolate shops. Tiny Christmas lights hung over outdoor eating spaces, Italian specialities competing with tapas and Oriental sesame noodles. Young and old strolled up and down the main street, skinny girls with striped faerie leggings walking with women in sun dresses and guys in properly preppy shirts. It was a cornicopia of life and laughs and conversation and music. Something my little Wisconsin town doesn’t offer.

Art galleries flourished on main streets and side streets. Most were closed by the time I wandered past their windows, but the ones who were open boasted Dichroic glass sculptures and abstract printmaking. Some mediums I had never seen before. Offbeat novelty shops brought back memories of the 60s, selling incense and scented soaps, colorfully graphic socks, sassy self-awareness books, unicorn candle holders, and violet gum.

The Village Art & Craft Fair was a marvelous beehive of amazing art and artists. Just like art fairs across the country, the hard work and inspiration of craftsmen left me breathless. I didn’t always understand the method or their behind-the-scenes inspiration, but I did understand the end result of jewelry, mosaic tile shoes, pottery, tables, hand-blown glass balls filled with feathers, and dark ceramic clay sculptures. A lot of artists were local; others returned year after year to showcase their latest wares.

Finalizing my journey at the immortal Biltmore Estate, my whole world of art and architecture and photography and history exploded into one cosmic experience. I was actually able to be in the “now” each and every day. And the “now” was cool, fun, and satisfying.

Creativity is universal. It is the expression of our heart’s deepest secrets, our imagination’s fondest dreams. I really believe that once you open that door new worlds present themselves all the time. Like a symphony, moods and memories are created by each special note you experience.

Find a way to experience it.

 

NEXT:  Art

 

 

 

Side Trip — Craig L Haupt

aNow and then I like to take little side trips into the lives of some of the artists I highlight both here and in my Art Gallery.

Although according to his website (http://clhaupt.comCraig Haupt has a degree in Art Education, it’s his love of creative doodles that’s led to a career of whimsical images.

Why I am taking time to share his creativity is simple. On his WordPress blog ( https://craiglhaupt.com/) I have watched him turn this:

 

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13-sorry-doodle

 

Into this:

 

16-sorry

 

I love the creative process. Whether it’s writing, painting, sketching, stenciling, it all starts small and obtuse and grows into something wonderful and unique.

Craig’s delightful explanation  “From childhood to present, I have been surrounded by my doodles and countless stick figures that have never left me,” rings true for all of us. There is always some thing, some thought, some feeling, that follows us around all the time. Something we just can’t forget about. Something we can’t let go.

I find a touch of doodle in a depth of color in Craig’s sketches and drawings. To take a scrambled beginning and turn it into something esthetic is no easy feat. It’s not often an artist shows you all their steps, so I thought it fun to share both ends of the spectrum.

You can also see more of Craig’s work at my Sunday Evening Art Gallery http://wp.me/p5LGaO-pZ.

I hope you enjoyed this little “Side Trip”! See you soon!

 

 

The Sunday Evening Art Gallery has Opened!

its-not-about-me1I am not sure where the wanderlust for unusual art came from. It might be from stumbling across the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao; it could be from looking at Mount Rushmore in person so many years ago.

But once I opened the door, I was Dorothy discovering the Land of Oz. Shapes and colors I’d never imagined appeared before me. More than that — creative minds reached out and touched the creative muse inside of me.  Art that was just a little — different. Unique. Art that brought discussion and engagement to the world.

I found that once I stumbled around and discovered these unique creations, I collected more images than a normal blog attention span could handle. So what better way to show even more examples of the creative mind than to create a gallery dedicated to them alone?

The Sunday Evening Art Gallery is a newly created site that is an expansion of my Sunday Evening offerings. It is an expansion of my weekly gallery — a place where you can enjoy additional creations from magical minds.

Including mine.

I will be adding new galleries every week, so please come and visit often. If you know of other artists/objects/representations of any form of Creative Art, let me know that, too. I am always open for more magic!

http://www.sundayeveningartgallery.wordpress.com

 

The Gazing Ball

gazing-globe-12When you look into the gazing ball, what do you see?

Do you make a wish?

Do you see infinity?

Is it a reflection? Or an inflection?

You are never too old to look into the gazing ball.

The reflection is only the beginning.

I feel a new project on the horizon.

A new chance to

Create

Play

Research and

Wander.

What do YOU see when you look into the gazing ball?

 

 

Oh Euglena … Come Out and Play …

euglena2The other day I blogged about the light-bulbs-growing-on-grass-thing. Inspiration, getting the growth going and all. Then I had the day from Hades — personal flubs, everything from losing my debit card to a momentary lapse of memory to indigestion. I wondered how I would ever live up to the growing thing. The writing thing. The inspiration thing.

Then I found my little notebook that had the plot line of my second novel scribbled in multi colors.  It’s like someone really did turn the light bulbs on the grass on. A plot! A direction! Ideas! I remember looking fondly, wistfully, at the little 3 x 5 thing, not really interested in my character’s continued adventures in Tinaria.  But now — here it was. Waving. Calling. Teasing.

What made this adventure even sweeter, though, was that I overcame my “do not share” mentality and actually asked for advice for my story. I was stuck on a premise I started in my first novel, and had no idea how to manifest an explanation in the second. So I talked to my good friend Cal The Science Guy about colors and blood and time travel. I actually told him about my story idea and asked for a feasible way around my blockage. I was able to get an educated — and fun — opinion about my work and my ideas.

The point of this evening’s conversation is that I learned to share my work. Not hide it. I always wanted to make sure my writing was perfect before I shared it with anyone.  Like, if I didn’t tell them about it ahead of time they would like it better. All the grammar hadt o be perfect; the conversations, the encounters, all had to be smoothly  orchestrated. If I was stuck, so what. I just changed ideas. All because I wanted to “surprise” my reader.

You would think at my age I would know better. The best kept secrets are nothing but secrets. Who cares about the stories you’re not telling anyone? Publication is a a fleeting thought; a dream, possible in some spheres of reality, impossible in others. Winning first place in an art show or  graphic competition just as nebulous. What matters is NOT keeping these things a secret. No matter if you are a painter, a jewelry maker, or a writer. If you are stuck, ask someone. It’s not like they’re going to take your idea, or laugh at your idea, or tell everyone your idea.

We all get stuck in life. Some landmines can’t be helped. It’s life. But not sharing your stories, your poems, your creativity because you are afraid someone might not like it? Pfffttt….what does that matter? Did you like making that necklace? Did you enjoy stenciling that room? That’s what it’s all about. Need a little boost, a little clarification? Don’t be afraid to share your creation with someone. Everyone needs help now and then. I mean, even Van Gogh painted side by side with Gauguin.

OK, Cal…about this alien/time travel/gladiator  thing….

Trippin’ Right Along

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Gaelic Storm, Milwaukee Irishfest

One of the keys to surviving middle age is to balance your complaining with your freedom. People like to read about your older “boomer” adventures, but few have time to listen to a thousand words of whine. As a friend once said, things of a personal nature have a short shelf life, because people quickly confuse your madness with theirs.

I had a great time this past weekend. Went to the zoo with family, went to Irishfest Friday evening, then back to Irishfest all of Saturday with family and friends. The music lightened my soul, and walking and eating and talking with friends and family strengthened my heart.

That’s what people want to hear.

They don’t want to hear about my aching legs and feet, or my Alzheimer’s moment of leaving a tube of ointment in the bathroom stall, or the five dollars I lost by stashing it in a place that jiggles too much. No one wants to know that I took a tumble trying to step over a chain that was a wee bit too high for my short legs, or that the cause of my headaches was more likely from dehydration than stress.

People love to read that I took my grand-baby playing in the Irishfest park and that we walked to the lake and watched the boats and threw rocks in the water. They don’t want to read about the almost-twisted ankle I got because I climbed on rocks I had no business climbing on.

I wonder if I was this muddled 30 years ago? If I was as prone to forgetting and stumbling? Back then I’d get drunk and others thought it was funny and entertaining. If I’d do that now people would think it embarrassing and senile.  I’m sure I dripped food on my chest from the time I was 16; now, if I do it at 60, it looks like I’m feeble. I never was a jogger or a marathon runner, but having to stop and sit now and then makes me look like I’ve lost my get-up-and-go. Did I ever really have it, though? And did it ever matter?

Ah, but I don’t let that fear stop me from living. Neither should you. Once you get passed your bruised ego look at all the good things that come from it. I listened to music I loved; I played with my grand-baby and almost-grand-baby; I got a nice sun tan; I leaned to drink more water, I sang my favorite songs with the band; and walked so much my legs are ready to walk with the girls at break again.

I also learned that nothing is safe when hidden in places that jiggle alot.

What Is True Success?

So many things make us happy; so many things make us sad. So many times we wished we  had turned left instead of right; so many times we are soooo glad we did turn right instead of left. Sometimes I get really sad that I’m soon going to turn 60 — where has my life gone? Other times I look back and am sorry my mother never made 54. I’m sad that I had breast cancer; other times I’m so glad they found it when they did.

Life is packed with highs and lows, yellow and blacks, snow and scorching heat. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what it’s always been about. For us, for our grandparents, for George Washington and Kublai Khan and St. Joseph. I’m sure they all had a hundred things they wanted to do at one time, too.  Just like us. We all want to be appreciated for what we’ve done. What we’ve become. We all would like to think that our time here on Earth has been for the Greater Good.

This is not a confessional blog; this isn’t a tell-all or a bad news bomb.  I’m sitting on my sofa this cold Sunday afternoon, looking at the bare treetops in my front yard. Of course, you know me — I’m also watching football, eating lunch, doing laundry, getting ready to write some in  my latest novel, wondering what I’m gonna wear to work tomorrow. I’m also thinking about the fun I had with my grandbaby this weekend, thinking of taking some drugs for my achy legs, and feeling guilty I haven’t played fetchie with my dog today.

That’s really what this blog is about. Sometimes I feel I should be pushing this blog harder, trying to share the Word with more readers. Other times I think I’ve run this horse to the finish line, and should start a new creative venture.  Yet more often I think  I’ve let my writing simmer on the back burner for so long it’s started to dry up and stick to the pan.

How do you know if you’ve succeeded at what you tried to do? What is the measure of success? Big paychecks often are an indicator;  good health, always. Waking up every morning is a success all on its own. Family? Kids? Making the perfect apple pie? All of the above are successes if never done it before. Success has always been measured from the heart first, from the masses second. And often it takes on a meaning more cosmic than one thinks. I think I make the best spaghetti sauce this side of the Mississippi. If you don’t agree, does that mean it’s not good? Of course not. All it means is that I can eat it all myself.

Writing is the same thing for me. What is being a successful writer? Have I ever been published? A short  story here or there in the past 10 years. Have I won awards for my creativity? No. Have I ever I gotten a call or email from a publisher? No. Do I think I’m a successful writer? Yes. Definitely.  I’ve had people say positive things about my stories; I’ve brought smiles and tears to readers.  I’ve written 4 novels, 1 novella, 32 short stories, 42 poems, 84 blogs, and 3 novels in-progress. I think that’s being successful. Why? Because Ive continued to do what I love, no matter what the  result. I’ve had fun making friends, creating worlds, and trying things that make me uncomfortable. I encouraged people to believe in themselves, given life to middle-age heroines, and never killed off  the main character.

There are still so many paths to follow, worlds to explore. And that’s only after I play with my grandbaby, fetch my dogs, pet my cats, cuddle my husband, go to work 40 hours a week, clean my house, grocery shop, get together with family and/or friends, and dozens of other responsibilities. Life has only so many hours, and I’m still struggling on squeezing a few more out of every week.

So what this all boils down to is that I’ve driven the Humoring the Goddess train long enough. Hopefully I’ve encouraged you to believe in yourself, have fun with your life, and laugh as much as you can. There are so many things you can’t change, so why not toss your hands up and laugh and move on? You’ll know the things you CAN change..that little voice in your heart/head/soul is always there to remind you. Your job is to listen.

I have enjoyed entertaining you all these years more than you know. I have learned so much from you. I might try another blog, or finish one of my novels, or sit and spew poetry until I feel nauseated. I’m sure I’ll be back and visit sometime. If I start something new I’ll post it. I will look foward to hearing from you and YOUR projects. You will always find me at my email world…  humoring_the_goddess@yahoo.com.

There is always a path ahead of you. Always. It’s up to you which one you take, or how often you turn left or right. In the end, none of that matters — the only thing that matters is that you keep walking.

Keep Humoring the Goddess…and Loving your Life…

Claudia Anderson

Hanging Around

Sitting outside this evening, listening to the staccato serenade of countless birds, I hear a small airplane pass overhead.  Looking up, in plain sight, is a plane pulling a hang glider. And I think – why not me?

The thought of flying high above the landscape with only a few straps and sails to keep me there scares the beejeebers out of me. So does the ridiculous idea/thrill of bungee jumping. After all – what if they miscalculated the distance to the ground? What if the bungee cord broke? It has happened, you know. Maybe to one out of a hundred thousand, but I know my luck. I’d be one of the hundred thousand. The same goes for spelunking, rafting down a raging river, and jumping out of a plane with a parachute. I really think thrill seeking is overrated.

Or is it?

There is a part of me that envies the hang glider dancing on the currents of air, seeing our world from a bird’s perspective. The spelunker who gets past their claustrophobia is often rewarded with caverns of unearthly delights. Race car drivers fly by at hundreds of miles an hour. Can you imagine what that feels like?

Why can’t this be me? Why am I so afraid to find my thrills outside of the box?  I mean, really outside the box?

Death is a big factor. I conveniently ignore the fact that I have a greater chance of dying every time I get behind the wheel than I do crashing a hang glider. More people fall off their bikes and die than rafters plunging into the rapids. More people drop every day from heart attacks than … well, you get it.

We are all going to die sometime. We all have to cut the tie to our Earthly paradise sometime.  But this blog isn’t about death – it’s about adrenalin. It’s about taking chances. It’s about putting it all out there, relying on our primal reactions to ecstasy and tragedy.  I’m afraid of putting it all out there. Afraid of being scared $hitless doing something that is as foreign to me as the back alleys of Japan. I’ve found comfort in my whitebread world. But have I always found satisfaction?

We are all governed by our fears. Whether it’s getting out to talk to people or wearing a dress for the first time in years, there are always lines we fear to cross. What if someone makes fun of us? Worse off, what if someone doesn’t like us?

It has been a long road to not caring about all of the above. I admit I still have those fears – I doubt if I’ll ever erase all of them. But now that nonsense is tempered with the knowledge that I am who I am. I’m not a murderer, an abuser, or a bad person.  I am okay just being me.  If others don’t like me, that’s their loss, not mine.

I believe that is true for all of us, no matter our age, size or status. We can all improve, but when the day is done and the sun sets, we are who we are. I want to be who I am. I want to step out of the safety zone. Moreover, I want to test my own comfort zone. Not because I have to prove something, but because once in my life I want to experience that rush of adrenalin you get knowing you have done something not a lot of people do. You have knowingly cheated death and survived to boast about it.

My 60th birthday is this year. I think I’ll ask for a hang gliding jaunt. Once I have the ticket in hand I won’t back out. I don’t think.

I just need to make sure I’m wearing extra underwear.