Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Birthday Giveaway!

On Saturday I will be 35. Most of the time I dont feel like that is possible. It seems like it was just yesterday I was finishing up graduate school, enjoying being a newlywed when in actuality it was over a decade ago! I look in the mirror and see the beginning of wrinkles and gray hairs that have escaped the coloring at the salon. Although I'm not so thrilled about the physical changes age is making, I love my life right now. I'm blessed to still do many of the things that have always brought me great enjoyment and I'm also more open to new adventures and ideas than I ever have been before. I am able to embrace those special moments with friends and family in a much more relaxed manner now, and truly appreciate the gift these people are to me. There is a great variety in my days that I love. Part of the new that I have come to love is blogging and finding a great, artistic community right at my fingertips. So, to honor all the visitors who may stop by, I'll be giving away something for my birthday Saturday. If you leave a comment on any of the posts I make starting today until Sunday, I'll draw a name to recieve a special gift from me. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to giveaway. I'll be thinking that over today, but I hope you will still sign up. Sometimes surprises are the best.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ladies of the family

The ladies of my family on my dads side have one night a year where we all get together for a little girl time. We've done this for 5 or 6 years now. We started out staying at one of the aunts houses, but now we rent some adjoining rooms in a hotel. (That way no one is stuck with major clean up the next day!) This overnight has turned into such a wonderful celebration for all of us. Its fun to see all of us doing goofy things. We have aunts, great aunts, and of course Gramma. Gramma is the biggest instigator for doing fun and wild things. She is the one in the white long sleaved shirt-front row. You should have seen her having a field day playing with those wax lips. Our tradition is we order pizzas and make the delivery boy (Its always been a boy) take our picture so we have one of the whole group. Then we throw him a wildly large tip and kick him out. It is a girls night after all. We have developed the habit of gifting each other on this special occassion. The matching pink/lavendar sweatshirts were done by my mom, sis and I a few years ago. Aunt Brenda made us all coordinating pj pants this year. We each also recieved a handkerchief that Gramma hand crocheted an adging on, a cute little bear with his own tiny quilt sewn by Aunt Bev, a nice cushy pair of socks from Great Aunt Nancy, wax lips from mom, and other various little things. This year I made everyone angels because the women in my family really are some of my angels. This tradition has become one of my favorite nights of the year. I wish that everyone could experience something like this. I know a group of the Glitter Power sisters recently met up and did their 2nd gathering which is wonderful. Why not give it a go for yourself? Gather up some family, or friends, or your very best blogging buds and set something up. Life is so much richer when we allow ourselves the luxury of time well spent.

I had a scary week of waiting that is blessedly over in a great manner. Last week while I was at a gynecologist for a different problem, she felt a lump in my breast and scheduled me for a mammogram and ultrasound. Everything is ok, but it sure was scary, especially when they called me back from the waiting room to do more mammogram films. I am very thankful for the support and comfort my friends showed me through the week. Thank you.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Spring Walk

We had a glorious day of weather here with lots of sun and the temp almost hitting 80. I decided to take the camera and wander the lagoon loop of the state park. Come along and see what I found.

This muskrat didn't seem to mind me peeking into his world. He was cleaning himself up, balancing on a log not far from the shoreline. A turtle was sharing the log, but you cant see him. I found that combination a bit odd. I never really thought about those 2 animals sharing a space. I actually saw 3 muskrats today. They seemed to be taking advantage of the sun while there still aren't many people about.

This egret posed for the first picture, but the camera beep as it focused scared him in to flight and I was able to capture this shot. When I kayak out here, these birds let us get fairly close. They kinda do a leap frog through our journeys, moving a bit further up the channel, allowing us to get near, and then moving further down. If you dont see one of them and get to close, they make a huge amount of noise when they take off in flight. They have scared me many times when I've been busy studying the nearby turtles and never noticed them until I hear a big commotion. They have a smorgasboard in the lagoons here with all the fish.

I'm still surprised I found this prince. He was hiding kind of under a bush purched on this log throne. I actually was trying to find a turtle when I found him. I didn't seem to bother his highness as he allowed me to bow to him and snap this picture. He was awfully big, and a little further on my walk I found another that was his equal in size. Of course, the second was in a seperate lagoon and I quickly realized I had walked through to another kingdom with a different prince.

This swan was all alone in the back lagoon. There were a group of swans near where I began my walk. They are always in that area near the lotus beds. Dont swans mate for life? I wonder what happened to this guys mate? He was very serene, stretching his neck down to dip into the water. He did get a bit territorial when a muskrat got a little to close. It made me glad I kept my distance.

These 2 geese were busy protecting their 3 eggs. Can you see the eggs? There was a blue heron not 20 feet away and I dont think the geese were real happy to have an egg predator so close. They built their nest on top of a muskrat or a beaver den. I actually hadn't noticed they had eggs until a nice bicyclist saw me with my camera and told me what they had out there. Not only did they have to fend off the heron, there were 3 other white egrets so close that you can see them and the heron in one of the other pictures I took of the geese. I guess its not all fun and games in the wild as they must protect their eggs from such close enemies.
I set out today hoping to see turtles. I love seeing them sun themselves on the logs. They are my favorite part of visiting the lagoons. When I'm in the kayak I try to see how close I can get to the logs. The turtles are pretty skitish and jump in the water at the first noise. By the time I snapped this picuture, at least 4 turtles had jumped off the log, but that still left these 14 brave ones for me to enjoy. There were lots of turtles everywhere today. Most of them were to far away to really discern what type, but usually they are painted turtles, with the occasional snapper thrown in. I grew up close to a river and I remember going down and finding turtles all the time. My dad would let me bring one home for the night, and then we'd go back and release him the next day. I've been fascinated with them since. I once stopped my car in the middle of a fairly busy road, put on my hazzards and then rescued a big snapper from the middle of the street and relocated him to the ditch where he would be safe.

I ended my walk by having this lovely creature flutter along with me for the last 1/4 mile. It looked like a monarch, but I really dont know. He was kind enough to land on a leaf so I could capture him before I had to go.
I hope that you enjoyed my walk. It was so delightful for me to slow down and really notice what was going on around me. I wish you all a beautiful weekend.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Music therapy and an art submission

I did it! I mustered up the courage to submit some art for a magazine challenge. I feel like this is a huge step for me. Its totally fine if nothing comes out of it, but I thought about the challenge, formed my idea, created it, and then did the entire submission process which really isn’t that hard, but had me a little stressed. My art was knee socks for the Belle Armoire challenge. I really want to post the picture of them, but I’m unsure of all the legal parts of that. Is it allowable to post something that you’ve submitted? If anyone knows, please inform me.

In other things life has been ok. I got the $ total for the piano restoration and that was a bit of a shock. It was quite a bit more than I was prepared for. I’m diligently trying to not freak out over that fact. Some moments I even succeed. The symphony last weekend was delightful. It was just what I needed to inspire me. I wish I could capsulate the beauty of the symphony-the whole experience-and open it whenever. I guess then it wouldn’t be so special and would turn into something I take for granted. I also attended an organ recital early in the week. I am an organist, not a very good one, but quite adequate for church music, but I really don’t “love” the organ. I play it because I was a pianist who got asked to do it in high school and has stuck with it and learned the pedaling and such. I find organ concerts tend to give me headaches because of the sheer volume of the instrument. Anyways, the recital was nice and it was rewarding to hear a true organist play with such skill and poise. Attending concerts is my own form of “music therapy” which makes my world such a nicer place.

This weekend is fun, fun, fun as the women of my family gather in a hotel for an overnight adventure. Food, fun, wine and just being surrounded by immeasureable love make this overnight the very best night of the year. I am so excited I can hardly stand it!

OK, todays art. “Focus” was painted after really struggling with my migraines last week. I woke up the morning after a bad one and this came out. Its dark and not very detailed, but something in it speaks of how I feel when I’m experiencing those darn things. Edited: I went back and found Miss KoolAid's art that she left a comment about and I am shocked to see my subconscious immitated her. I hope she takes this as a form of flattery because I certainly didnt mean to copy her. Heck, I can barely remember what I ate for lunch today let alone something I looked at months ago.

The mixed-media collage will be a gift to my aunt. She is attending a womens retreat next weekend. As part of the weekend they asked family members to send in letters saying how that person is important, or great memories with that person, etc. I don’t feel that I’m such a great writer, so I started making her this art instead. She loves kids although she never had any of her own and I included my niece and nephew with her in the art since she loves to single them out at family events and play with them. I used silk flowers, polymer clay (for the flower centers), my paintings of the people, book pages, acrylic paint, and I coated it in beeswax which was really fun to work with.
OK, this is on the long side and I’ve gotta get busy making something. Have a great weekend and be kind to everyone.

Friday, April 4, 2008

A Day with Gramma

Life in Michigan has been pretty good lately. It is finally starting to warm up and the snow is melted! I can see daffodills and tulips sprouting out of the ground and grass beginning to turn green. Its beginning to be light out near the end of my morning walks and I'm seeing more activity in the birds and bunnies who accompany me each morning. Spring is even more miraculous after a very snowy winter.
I spent the afternoon with my Gramma yesterday. My Grandpa is still recovering from some broken ribs so we were not able to venture out. We stayed home and planted a calla lilly bulb together. We then talked for a few hours while she made oyster stew and I sketched some Johnny Jump ups she wanted me to try to draw. I used to spend every Friday afternoon with her and we would paint together. She has definetly been the most influential person in my life as far as being artistic. She taught me so much without ever limiting me to the way that she did things. Grammas arthritist got worse and I had to babysit my neice and nephew and our Fridays fell apart. I'm trying to rekindle some kind of pattern to visit again now that my responsibilities with the kids is over. I love spending time with her and she always brings sunshine to my day. Todays art journal entry is in honor of her-Right down to more Johnny Jump-ups. Never in all my life has a visit to her not put a smile in my heart that has lasted long after I've departed. Its gotta be some special Gramma power.
I'm going to the symphony tonight. I am very excited as they are playing a Beethoven symphony and a Brahms piano concerto! Their opening piece is a Schonberg composition which I'd rather skip because its 20th century dissonance, but its on the short side and then I get to be swallowed up by the pure beauty of the music. Maybe it'll inspire my muse in a new direction.
I hope that all of you have a gorgeous spring weekend. We're hitting the low 60's and I'm going to take advantage of it as best I can.
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