Monday, March 14, 2011

Beginning of Wisteria 2011

Beginning of Wisteria 201 by SiouxSue
Beginning of Wisteria 201 a photo by SiouxSue on Flickr.

We have a wisteria bush in the back yard. Each year it produces beautiful blooms. Right now it is budding out but still has remnants of the fall with broken stems and bean pods.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Reflections on Creativity

I believe author, Julia Cameron, said, “Life is a creative endeavor. It is active, not passive.”

Do you remember being creative as a child? By nature, I think, children are all highly creative creatures, and it takes only climbing into adulthood for that creativity to take a back seat to, oh, let’s see, going to school, making a living, raising children, providing food and shelter for ourselves and our families, and so forth.

And suddenly there doesn’t seem to be a creative bone in our bodies. We are stymied. There are just so many hours in a day, and, hey, we have to just relax and rest during some of those hours, watch tv, have a drink, go to a game.

Quickly we forget what it was like to be creative, to make up tunes, to write poems, to play an instrument, to draw a picture. And because we forget what it was like, we know within our very beings that there is not only no time for creativity, we don’t have what it takes, anyway.

As my mother was a musician, I took piano and voice as a child, I played the flute and timpani in the band, sang in various choirs, and I took painting with a woman who wore bright gypsy clothing, possessed wildly flying hair, and had creativity pouring out of her in every direction. I thought she was a bit crazy, but I so loved going to her house to learn to draw - her paintings displayed on all of her walls. And then, one day, pastels were introduced, and I was in heaven.

But Mother wasn’t particularly interested in drawing and painting, the supplies were quite expensive, and so, I stopped going to art class.

I never really thought I could draw, but, man, I loved to do it, and do it I continued on notebooks and book covers, and I doodled all over everything...still do, for that matter.

I did continue one creative outlet throughout my adulthood. I kept on with my writing, my passion for forming pictures with words. That helped a lot! But...

Then, six years ago, I retired from teaching, and I began using the internet more than I had before, and I found, there, women, and a few men, who were challenging each other to be creative, Violette Clark and Danny Gregory, in particular. They were challenging others not just to draw or to paint, but to live creative life styles. And I thought to myself, this sounds exactly like where I want to be right now.

And so I took some online courses, joined a couple of art groups, and formed a couple of others, and slowly, very slowly, I began to see a creative spark to my being that I had not seen since about third grade. Never mind all that music. I could create a piece of art, a collage, a drawing, a painting, a quilt, and I had found other people who also were finding their creative bliss. It was like a whole other world was opening up right before my eyes.

This doesn’t mean you has to be old or young to be creative. You just have to allow yourself to believe that you have creativity - everyone has creativity. And you have to give yourself time to explore where that creativity lies. Creativity, remember, is active!

I know several people, men and women, in our town who are taking music lessons. I know others who have taken up photography. More people are gardening, making quilts, decorating homes, making jewelry, painting, sculpting. Tthese are all creative pass times. Active, not passive. And I encourage you, as I encourage myself. Find your creative life. Now!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Reflections of Valentine's Day


This column was published right before Valentine's Day:

I watched a movie during the Great Snow Storm of ’11. It was called Valentine’s Day, and it got me thinking about that day, February 14, that some of us love while others of us hate - and, perhaps, many of us are just indifferent about.

Who was this St. Valentine, and why is his day so important to us? Legend tells us that Valentine was persecuted because he was a Christian and on the evening before he was executed he sent a note (a Valentine) to his beloved which he signed “from your Valentine”.

Who knows if that was true, but because of that legend February 14 has become a day for lovers, or haters, depending on your point-of-view.

Remember in elementary school when you decorated a Valentine box and took it to school so that your classmates could place notes of love to you inside it? You put your heart and soul, and that of your mother’s, into making that box with all its red, pink, and white ornaments, hearts, doves, cherubs, bows and arrows, and you hoped, you fervently wished, that that one special someone, that little boy in the third seat to your right, or that little girl in front of you who hated it when you dipped her pigtails in ink, would drop that special card, meant just for you, inside your Valentine box.

I think that is one reason some people really hate Valentine’s Day. That boy or that girl didn’t put a card in your Valentine box. Sometimes I didn’t get that Valentine I wanted, but, you know, I do now. I have the best Valentine I could ever wish for! I am blessed.

Sometimes I think we take too much for granted. We either give a gift and a card out of tradition or because it’s expected, or we agree not to do “that” this year. But after watching that movie, I do believe we, perhaps we Americans, we older adults at least, well, some of us anyway, seem to forget the romance and anticipation of a special day for lovers. Valentine’s Day.

Sure, it isn’t a holiday, and I’m not sure it should be a time when we lavish gifts on our children or grandchildren. I think it’s more of a time when we need to lavish our love on that special person in our lives without whom we would not be completely whole. Or, in some cases, remember that person who loved us with their whole heart while they were here on earth.

Valentine’s Day is a day for lovers, in the pure sense. Perhaps even more, or different, from an anniversary. Valentine’s Day is a chance to celebrate our love. Maybe with a candle-lit dinner at home while the kids are at the movies. Perhaps with a special meal at that special restaurant, just the two of us. Perchance a walk in the park, a drive around the county, a romantic movie, the sharing of a chocolate soda with vanilla ice cream, all by ourselves.

Think about it. We have been given the special gift of love. Let’s celebrate it, quietly or with fanfare, but just the two of us, this Valentine’s Day!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Book of Beth

Book of Beth by SiouxSue
Book of Beth a photo by SiouxSue on Flickr.
I just finished this handmade book for my granddaughter, Beth. It is made on watercolor paper. The backgrounds are all watercolor, with mixed media collage on each page. You can see the whole set at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/siouxsue/sets/72157626195312582/

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Blessing Last Sunday

Father Swickard blessed our grandson Joey (right) and his friend Stephen who are headed for their tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Reflections on a Snowy Day

This was written in January during our snow. It is a Reflections column I am writing for our local newspaper. I am illustrating with an ATC for a willowing.ning swap. If you know a local paper who would like to run this sort of column, please have them contact me.


A blanket of snow on the ground with ice beneath. It’s cold, cold for north Texas, but, hey, that’s ok. Here I am with my warm tortoise shell kitty asleep by my legs as my mind wanders over the day.

We have many bird feeders in the back yard, and from my chair I can see them all. On them are perched white-winged doves in abundance - at least on those feeder that have room for the huge gray and white birds.

Also, I see English sparrows. Not a welcome visitor to our small sanctuary, but they, too, must feed in this weather - or die. I don’t recall how these sparrows came to our shores, but shame on whoever brought them, and on whoever brings other non-native animals and plants.

But, oh, well, that’s a whole different story, and it’s not one I want to burden you with right now.

There are at least five cardinals feeding; one male and four females. Guess the bright red male has his harem with him today. On milder days we don’t see so many cardinals. I understand, from my naturalist friend Jim, that the elms have had so many berries that the wild birds aren’t as interested in feeders this winter as they have been in earlier times.

There are a few of our northern friends, also visiting - but not many. The duller winter goldfinches that are usually here in droves have not appeared in large numbers, and today is the first day I have seen a pine siskin at my feeder since last year. We have had a few juncos, actually very few. We call them “nun birds” because their black and white feathers remind us of our friends the nuns at the convent in Maryland.

There are other northern visitors that we have seen all winter, the ruby crowned kinglet, the brown creeper, the red breasted nuthatch. And there are other birds hovering around.

We have house finches, Carolina wrens, tufted titmice, Carolina chickadees, and downy woodpeckers. And we have a couple of surprising additions beyond the bird hide of our patio windows. We have golden crowned kinglets and yellow bellied sapsuckers.

Of course, we also have the blue jay and the occasional mockingbird along with a small number of chipping sparrows.

So, although the day is cold outside - so cold, in fact, that our cat has napped rather than wandered even to the door to look at the birds - it is a perfect day for peace, of mind and of spirit.

This oh so cold day has brought a glorious hush to the life, to the week, to my mind. This is a time to be still, to relax, to know that rushing is not an option today. To read, to paint, to write for fun.

This is a day quiet reflection and thanksgiving. A time to curl up with a book or a laptop. To let all the problems of yesterday go.

I hope everyone has had some time this day to do the same.

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