We Are All The Gambler

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done.

 

It’s a precarious ledge we stand on, isn’t it?

Do you know when to hold your ground? When to give in?

When to walk away? When to Run?

It’s not as easy as it seems, is it?

We want to run away, we want to stay and fight.

We say it’s not worth it, yet sometimes it’s all there is.

Pick your battles.

Fight the fights worth fighting for.

Blow off the rest.

A stay in a hospital isn’t worth it.

Nor is a broken soul.

 

Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away
And knowin’ what to keep
‘Cause every hand’s a winner
And every hand’s a loser
And the best that you can hope for
Is to die in your sleep.

~Kenny Rodgers

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Seung Hoon Park

Seung Hoon Park, an artist from Seoul, S. Korea, is creating the most unusual images with the use of a camera and threading the film to mimic the look of woven textiles.

Born in 1978, Seung Hoon Park lives and works in Seoul, South Korea.

Part collage, part photography, part tapestry, these fragmented interpretations of iconic buildings and landmarks are truly something to ponder over.

 Each image begins with 8mm or 16mm camera film strips which he lays down in rows to create a larger surface that effectively acts as a single piece of film.

Park then exposes two images in a large format 8×10″ camera using sets of vertical and horizontal strips which are woven together to create a final print.

The final image is a blend of mediums: both photograph as well as woven textile; by threading the film together, Park creates beautifully captivating scenes with textured distortions.

Park has traveled to locations around the world including Rome, Milan, Venice and Prague to shoot images for his ongoing series titled Textus.
More of  Seung Hoon Park’s fascinating photography art can be found at      https://susanspiritusgallery.com/artist/seung-hoon-park/ . and https://theartling.com/en/artists/seung-hoon-park/ .

The Power of the Mind

The mind is a powerful thing, isn’t it?

It’s amazing how much control it has over each and every one of us.

Magazines and TV and movies depict women as skinny and beautiful. We look at them and think of how much less we are then they. Everyone around you has sweet, adorable children. It puts our choice of not having kids in doubt.

We KNOW we are right in most — if not all — of our decisions in life. Yet our mind tries to second guess our determination. Our mind tends to go off of emotion and not common sense.

And we let it.

Now many of us have some control over our minds. An impulse to punch someone in the face or stab someone in the back is quickly dissolved and rationed away as PMS, bad mood, stress, or just Tuesday. Our desire to take off to Paris for the weekend is tempered by keeping our job and our bank account.

Why are we so weak on defending the rest of our spirit?

It’s probably easier for some than others to shut your chattering, wandering, judgemental mind down. To put it in its place. I know it’s a constant battle in my head. I’m not young and blonde and beautiful. I’m 64 and short and pudgy. I’m not a CFO or CEO. I’m more like UFO. But to tell the truth,  it’s an uphill battle to shut off and shut up my comparison psyche.

Look at what happens when we “put our mind to it.” We create masterpieces. We decorate our homes, paint pictures, make fantastic quilts and shawls and jewelry. We become writers and teachers and financial experts. We save money enough to vacation, tour, lecture, and learn.

Yet our minds tell us we’re not good enough because we’re a couple of pounds overweight or our hair is starting to turn gray or our job is merely a waitress or a data clerk.

We let our wandering minds wander all over our goals and dreams.

I see it time and again. In blogs and social media, at work, at the gym, at the playground, in shared whispers with friends and family. If only I were… If only I could…We look to an altered version of ourselves to be happy. To be successful. To be in love. Like true peace of mind and soul is out there somewhere.

You all know what I’m going to say. Because you know it’s true.

True happiness isn’t out there — it’s in HERE. In your head. In your aura. Look at how easy it is to take a situation and turn it around. Half empty or half full.

It’s all your choice.

Choose to be happy. Pick positive over negative.

Think it’s hard?

Just try it. Just CHOOSE.

Your soul will thank you.

 

 

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Darryl Cox

Artist Darryl Cox fuses ornate vintage picture frames with tree branches found in the forests of central Oregon.

Cox uses many different woods:  central Oregon manzanita, juniper, aspen, Willamette Valley filbert and California grapevine are a few of his favorites.

The branches serve as a simple reminder of the materials used to build picture frames, but also create an unusual form factor where clean lines and ornate moulding patterns seem to naturally traverse the bark of each tree limb.

Each piece involves many hours of woodworking, sculpting, and painting.

Darryl Cox says it perfectly:  “I enjoy seeking out unique frames, wherever they may be. And, I love being outdoors reclaiming extraordinary tree branches and roots. Especially when most of the time it involves spending a day or two in the forests of Central Oregon, but other wonderful places, too.”

More of Darryl Cox’s gorgeous frames can be found at http://fusionframesnw.com/

 

 

 

 

Not ANOTHER Idea…

Here I am, Friday morning, reading posts and surfing the Internet during my break time, thinking about yet another topic I can blog about. I’m getting so A.D.D. about wanting to post something, blog something that I want to share with the world.

Part of me wonders — who cares?

It’s not like I’m sitting around with nothing to do. I have a busy day job, then most nights I’m either working around the house, writing, or spending time with family and friends.

It’s not like I have hours and hours of down time.

With WordPress telling me daily that there are billions of blogs to check out, why would I want to start a new chapter of this one?

Am I stifled? Bored? Creatively stunted?

I think about all the blogs I follow, and all the blogs I peek in and read — life stories, poetry, artists, travel. They are varied but in the same vein. Just think of all the ones I DON’T follow — cooking, parenting , single life, quilting — the line goes on and on. Wouldn’t someone rather follow an expert in writing or publishing than someone who dabbles in a half-dozen pursuits?

All this jibber jabber means nothing other than I’m thinking of a weekly Friday edition to my never-ending flow of oddities and irrelevance.  So what should it be?

Fat Friday —  Pictures of great looking food.

Fabulous Friday — Unique places to visit

Food Friday — Same as #1

Faerie Friday — Pictures and Poems about Faeries and their Kind

Fashion Friday — Strange hair, nails, shoes — anything you wouldn’t wear going out on Friday night

Free Friday — apps, websites, anything that’s fun and free

 

Do you see my dilemma?  I think I’ve got too much space in my head. It’s filling up with silly stuff.

P.S. If you like any of the above ideas, let me know. I’ve got to put my Creative Muse to work somewhere...

Hot Moms at the Playground

The first thing I have to say is the truth. I am Jealous. Envious. Covetous. Wanton. Wistful.

Okay. Now that that’s over…I took my grand kids to the park Saturday morning to encourage their Adrenalin dispersion. So here is granny, an average-looking 64-year-old, scrubbed, puffed, a touch of makeup, a decent pair of Capri’s and fun t-shirt, feeling good, feelin’ hip, keepin’ up with swings and slides and Jungle Jims. There were two baseball games going on in the background, middle-school types, lots of cheering and hoho’s. Then I looked around at the other mothers.

These women were knockouts. I figured these moms were leftovers from the games, watching their toddlers on the swings and slides and Jungle Jims. Now, I live in a small town. A college town. I’m not saying we don’t have attractive people here, but to have the playground filled with them is an eye-opening experience.

They hung out in pairs and trios, the same short-shorts, long hair, small waistlines, all tossing their hair as they bowed their heads down to read their cellphones, watching their precocious kids talk about their magic beads or ninja moves or playing zombie tag.  One of the moms was pregnant, and even her awkward bundle looked great in her top and Capri’s.

Now you must wonder why I chose the word ‘jealous’ to describe my feelings at the time. I mean, there was a time when ~I~ was a young mom taking my kids to the park with ~my~ girlfriends. My friends and I laughed and talked about the kids, our husbands, going out on Saturday night. We’d party at each other’s houses, spend a weekend shopping and stay the night in a hotel, drinking and eating and confessing our secrets to each other. Our kids played together, our husbands told stories together. It was a wonderful circle.

But that seems so long ago.

I think I’m jealous because I remember looking like that. Thinner, thicker hair, clearer complexion. I’m also jealous because these girls have theirwhole life ahead of them. They still can be executives and fashion designers and doctors. Their kids are still little, with soccer and baseball games and field trips and prom still to come. Their children still worship them, still love sharing snuggles and hugs and cuddles.

I know the best medicine for this unreasonable bout of jealousy is to share the snuggles and hugs and cuddles of my own kids and grand kids. To go watch their baseball and soccer games and take them camping and shopping and stay up late. I can touch the memories of days gone by by making new memories today.

I’ll always wonder, though, how I made it through all those younger days without a cell phone.

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Maria Sibylla Merian

Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717), a German-born naturalist and scientific illustrator living in the Netherlands, was an extremely enterprising and independent woman who managed a successful career as an artist, botanist, naturalist and entomologist.

At a time when natural history was a valuable tool for discovery, Merian discovered facts about plants and insects that were not previously known, such as insects did not spontaneously emerge from mud.

Merian was the first to bring together insects and their habitats, including food they ate, into a single ecological composition.

Merian published her first book of natural illustrations, titled Neues Blumenbuch, in 1675.

In 1699, following eight years of painting and studying, and on the encouragement of the governor of the Dutch colony of Surinam, the city of Amsterdam awarded Merian a grant to travel to South America with her daughter Dorothea. Her trip, designed as a scientific expedition makes Merian perhaps the first person to plan a journey rooted solely in science.

She then proceeded to publish her major work, Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium (de), in 1705, for which she became famous. 

Merian is considered to be among the most significant contributors to the field of entomology — an amazing journey for an 18th Century woman.

More of Maria Sibylla Merian‘s amazing story and images can be found at https://www.britannica.com/biography/Maria-Sibylla-Merian and https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/01/the-woman-who-made-science-beautiful/424620/. 

How Do You Satisfy Your Creative Cravings?

I am of the belief that writing is as much fun as painting or photography or sculpture or any other Creative Art. Yes, it’s frustrating, time-consuming, methodical, stressful, and more.

It’s also inspirational, spiritual, cosmic, and thrilling.

My problem lately is that I’ve gotten in the driver’s seat of my fourth novel, and although I’ve worked out the story line and am loving writing about my space traveler, I miss writing a short story now and then. I have been perusing various contests and publication opportunities, and I find areas I’d love to try. This one wants a creature story. This one wants supernatural fiction. This one wants pirates and ghosts.

What fun! What adventure!  But what do I write about?

I think I hang out in novel land because the writing is long and real and I can keep the same idea throughout the pages. Short stories require separate thought, separate ideas. Unique ideas. And eventually my love of writing starts slipping on the confusing bed of ideas and plots and endings.

Do you hide in one genre over another? Do you have a desire to paint something totally different yet stay within your safe and more experienced area? Or draw something totally out of your comfort zone?

I have a folder of stories, some finished, some barely started. Few would fit into the guidelines I so fawningly follow. Most of my good pieces are written more on a whim of the moment — an impression on the drive home, an interlude between two or more people at the bus stop. My short stories are based on a bolt of lightning that directly hits me. It’s a lot harder if I’m out searching for that bolt.

I often encourage my blog readers to break through your self-imposed sanctions and to go for it. Reach for the sky — or dig deep into the cavern.

I still believe in that.

But I sometimes think it’s getting harder and harder to dig into that fertile creative ground and come up with something new. Something that will fit within someone else’s parameters.

How do you juggle all your cravings? Do you stick with what works or do you find time to experiment and go off in left field now and then? I’d love to know that there are other seasoned and non-seasoned writers who are as confused and excited as me.

Let’s see now…as the website says…think adventures and hauntings at sea, shipwrecks and buried treasure, treacherous waters, sea spirits, ghostly galleons, giant squid, kraken and sailors gone mad.

I can do that…can’t I?

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Colin Batty

Artist Colin Batty puts an amusingly strange spin on photographs of the past.

Taking cabinet cards from the early 1900s, he uses acrylic paint and crafts entirely new and surprising scenes directly on the image.

His additions are often hilarious but also creepy, and he does a fantastic job of seamlessly matching the colors and shading of each vintage photo – without the help of the computer.

It’s so convincing that at first glance, you might not notice the images were even changed.

The amazing part is that Batty does this work all by hand — you won’t find a single image Photoshopped in his collection of cards.

More of Colin Batty‘s amazing photography art can be found at http://www.peculiarium.com/colin-batty.

Keep A Calendar — Or A Muse

I am feeling a bit under the weather this eve. I went through my back stories looking for something else (always the case) and found this fun blog from a few years ago. Seems like it’s perfect for my feelin’ down time…

Calendar Girls

My Irish Wench Muse came to visit me last night. She was all full of her usual Irish self. I wasn’t writing or researching or hanging with my family, so I knew something was up.

“Read yer blog the other day,” she said, smiling, wiping the kitchen table off.

“Oh? Great! Which one?”

“The whinneh one.”

I should have been upset, but how can you be upset at your truthful conscience?

“Whiny? Why was it whiny?”

“A lotta ‘I wants’ and “I’ canna haves’. And no solution. What kenna blog is that?”

I sat straighter in my chair, watching her bend over a drop of gravy and start to scrape it. “Hey! All bloggers get down now and then. It’s part of the creative process!”

“Aye, and a lotta bees sting people when they’re nah looking, too. And they still manage to make the honey.”

I had to see where this was going and fast.

“Well, I didn’t see it as whining. I saw it as voicing the universal truth of too much to do and not enough time to do it all.”

“Nay — the ‘Universal Truth’ is more like ‘Leave your dog inside too long and he’s bound ta poop somewhere.’ That’s why you need a calendar, lass.”

“I already have a calendar at work. And it’s packed full.”

“Do you get everything done on the calendar?”

“Well, duh. It’s work.”

“Then, my darlin’ writer, you need a calendar at home, too. A Grand Poobah Calendar.”

 What is that?”

My muse finished scraping the drip and headed towards the crack between the leafs. A dangerous area. “The term is from one of those operas. The Poobah has all the titles and ‘na much else.”

I didn’t get what that had to do with me and my whining…er…woes.

“If  ya canna make time in your head, write it down. Make the time on the calendar,” she explained, pulling out a butter knife to scrape the caverns between leaves. “Makes ya look important.”

“But that means I’d have to be — organized! How can a pretzel be organized?”

She shook her head between grunts. Must have been extra crumbs down the crack.

“How does the Gran’ Poobah get things done? Too many titles, too little authority. At least if he writes the bloomin’ things down he can see what he wants to do first. And he can pretend to do everything, even if he gets only a few things done.”

Well, that made sense. I helped her scrape the bread crumbs out of the crack and she smiled her little Irish smile.

“You’ve just got to know how to do a calendar, luv. Jam it with all sorts of rot.  Then when you start the day, start crossin’ off. Lines through rot are good for the soul! Makes you pick and choose your rot!” She spit on a slide of old milk. ” You know, I may be a muse but I’ve got other ‘tings I have to do too. I canna babysit you all the time. “

I nodded sheepishly.

“I’m yer creative Muse, ya know. A lot of work goes into finding projects for you and fillin’ your head with ideas and suggestions. Makes my beer turn green half the time!”

“Well,” I said, “you know I love your company. And your ideas. I wish I would have listened to you 20 years ago, before I had grandkids.”

She threw out a hearty laugh. “Darlin’ 20 years ago you had your own kids, and were just as busy! and 20 years before that! ‘Ya dinna have time back then either. But you kept the calendar. In yer head.”

“I get it. I get it. Make a calendar. Put it all down. Bring your plans out of the 4th dimension in to this 3rd dimension so I can get a handle on it and do a little bit of everything instead of none of a lot. I get it.”

Viola nodded and stood. She was beautiful — green eyes, full figure, Irish brogue and all. “Aye. And donna forget — I’m riding up to the cabin with you this weekend. I’ve got a great idea for a poem! Oh, and my sister from Italy is comin’ too! She’s got this wild idea about manicotti  and pirates and diamonds and …”

Uh oh…

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Alaa Awad

Alaa Awad is an Egyptian-based graffiti artist, and painter known for his graffiti in Cairo and Luxor.

He is best known for his mural paintings created on Mohamed Mahmoud Street in Cairo.

Awad studied at the South Valley University Faculty of Fine Arts in Luxor and graduated in 2004.

Since then he has served as a member of the faculty at the Faculty of Fine Arts as a professor in the Department of Mural Painting.

Unlike other graffiti artists, Awad chooses to paint with a brush and uses acrylic paints rather than using stencils and spray paints.

His intricate paintings can sometimes take up to a week to make not only because of the materials he uses, but because of the complexity of his designs.

Awad’s style aims to remind people of their heritage and past to help them stay true to their Egyptian identity.

His murals are typically multifaceted and multi-layered with each telling a different story.

More of Alaa Awad’s marvelous artwork can be found at http://alaa-awad.com/ and at http://artitssymbolsandmeanings.blogspot.com/2015/05/alaa-awad-power-of-mural-art-of-urban.html

Inspiration Is All Around You

It’s funny to find myself writing a blog on a Sunday morning. I mean, we all should be sleeping in or going to church or going on a bike ride. I have plans for later but for now I have what everyone looks for on a Sunday Morning — inspiration.

Inspiration is all around you.

Having had a crappy end of the week and too much to drink Friday night (I don’t drink so it didn’t take much) and the body hangover of a 64-year-old, it’s easy to be cranky and crabby on this cool morning. But over the weekend I came across two people that truly inspired me to be a better person.

To be a better me.

My first inspriation was my 16-year-old niece. Always on the chubby side, I worried about her. Things may have changed in high school since I went 150 years ago, but teens are still teens, and it’s still easy to make fun of someone who looks different. Being made fun of in junior high, I looked at her through my own insecurities.

Yesterday at a family party I saw the girl again, and she had changed. She was still the smart, funny adolescent girl I’ve come to love, but she was 30 pounds lighter.

I almost didn’t recognize her.

Being a granny-aunt, I feared she did something really drastic. I probably would have. But she is smarter and more grown up than I. More salads, less treats, lots of water. She told me all about it.

And I am so proud of her.

My second inspiration is my sister-in-law. We lost my brother a few years ago, a heartbreaking experience. Not a day goes by where I don’t miss him. His wife took it as well as she could. We all move on, she along with her two awesome kids.

I saw a pic of her and her family on FB this morning, and it looked like she dropped a ton of weight. A ton. She looked like a totally different person. I haven’t asked her yet how she did it, but whatever she did had added 30 years back onto her face. I see my brother in her children’s eyes, and I see a content person in hers.

And I am so proud of her.

My son is another one. He used to be a skinny in track and field in high school. 10 years of marriage and two kids later, he was thicker than he wanted to be. It was as if a lightbulb went off in his head and he turned to healthy eating. 25 pounds later he’s in the gym all the time, an inspiration to me and his kids as well.

I have been on a weight thing myself since January. I have lost a bit of weight, but because I always wear big clothes I don’t think people can tell. It doesn’t matter. I eat healthier now. I walk more, I’m not really into junk food. I eat what I want but I eat one or two bites, not one or two portions. We all work on weight loss our own way. I know my niece did, I know my sister-in-law did.

We all want to live longer. We want to be inspired. We want to be around for our grandkids and our friend’s grandkids. We want to live and love and be able to walk up the stairs without our chests hurting.

Find inspiration in your life. Let it touch your own heart. Whether it’s to lose weight to be healthier or to start writing the novel you’ve always had in your heart, look around you. There is plenty of inspiration around you. Take that first step.

Trust me. You won’t fall. Keep walking. Be your OWN inspiration.

Text Me Any Time

I love texting. Text me any time.

That’s a joke.

I love the idea of being able to instantly sending your thoughts, instructions, and requests immediately to someone else.  But instant thoughts often demand instant responses. And sometimes it’s text before you think.

 

Son (1:21 pm):  You have any plans for tonight?

Mom: (1:22 p.m.) Oh sure. Washing some dishes, throwing the ball for the dog, catching up on Deadliest Catch.  Nope. Why?

Mom always knows that when son #1 calls it  has something to to with the grand kids. His dad gets the friendship calls on the way home from work, fishing story calls, all that. But mom…

Mom (2:35 p.m.) An hour later…

He texted me over an HOUR ago! Does he want me to come over for dinner? Take the grandkids for the weekend? Take me out to dinner?  WHAT???

Son (3:00 p.m.) Sorry, I get busy. Can you watch the kids at the park while we clean my office?

No. Never. WHAT DO YOU THINK I’D SAY?

Mom (3:02 p.m.). Sure! Let’s make plans!

 

I never have a problem with last minute plans for watching my grandkids. They are fun, smart, goofy, and mine. I’d change most any plans to catch an hour or two with them.

I was never this generous with my own kids. Although they have fond memories of their grandparents on my husband’s side, my inlaws had to use a crowbar to pry the first out of my insecure mommy hands. By the time the second one came around 5 years later, my grip was less maddening. I let them take both kids with wild abandon.

Now I feel what my inlaws must have felt:

Give me those babies! What does it matter if we play at the park for 3 hours and jump in every puddle or go to the ice cream store and order an extra large fudge sundae or I take them to Kiddyland? I can take them to the zoo and the farm and the fire station and ride on the train and and and…

Now I am even goofier than my inlaws were. I jump at the chance to have them out to our house (we call it the farm but it’s really just a lot of land) or the cabin (my late father-in-law’s small house up North) or to the park (any park will do).

I know the joy of spending time with someone who thinks the world of you. Whose idea of fun is anything done with Granny. The innocence of youth and the lack of prejudice is enough to swell any adult’s heart.

I only hope I can instill some life values and love values that will grow inside of them as they grow. To value life, friendship, family, and oatmeal raisin cookies.

But my son is going to have to text a little faster. Otherwise one day I will assume that’s what he wants and will show up at his house before he gets home.

 

 

 

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Cecelia Webber

Cecelia Webber uses the human body to construct intricate tessellations that represent the natural world.

Her art implicates the viewer in its form, evoking our complex relationship with our bodies and nature. Her art has been featured around the world.

Each composition can take up to two months to produce, and involves photographing scores of poses; digitally cutting, rotating, and coloring the resulting images; and assembling all of the components together into the finished piece.

Because even slight nuances of colour and form become magnified in their final context, Webber frequently takes more than fifty photographs of a single pose to achieve the desired form.

The artist also regularly uses herself as a subject, setting a camera timer and then orienting herself for the photograph.

Webber’s deep appreciation for nature, along with her scientific background, gives her a deep awareness of organic forms that she draws upon to concoct pieces bearing a unique interplay between colors, shapes, and models’ bodies.

More of Cecelia Webber‘s magnificent art can be found at  http://www.ceceliawebber.com/.