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Showing posts from April, 2009

Go Green

One of our daughters has an interest in fashion and recently participated in her first fashion show at her university. The theme was "Green Chic", and all the designs featured sustainable materials and waste-reducing techniques. Participants constructed their creations using organic fabrics and dyes, recycled thrift store finds, or creative pattern making that minimized scrap. The idea was a noble one for an industry often accused of being frivolous.

Our daughter jumped in with both feet, promising to design and construct five pieces for the show. She sketched out her visions to begin the project, then roamed thrift stores and begged cast-offs from family and friends. This all may sound mundane, but there was a pretty tall hurdle in her way. Our daughter had never sewn a thing in her life. I don't think she was entirely blind to the scope of her undertaking. Like most of us, she sometimes approaches new things with trepidation, but when the idea is hers, she has admirable…

Early Mother's Day

We call her "Mother Nature" because despite the occasional antagonistic philosophies that have popped up throughout history, most people recognize Her motherly qualities. On an instinctual level, we know that this is where we're from, not what we've made. She nourishes and teaches. She loves all her children equally. She can be strict, for certain. You're never too old to be "spanked" if you're disrespectful or ignore what she's telling you. But, for one who has spent a lifetime in close contact with Her, there's no denying the motherly aspect. Like a family, we are all sprung from this parent and all bound together through Her, too.

Growing up as I did, in an isolated community by the lake and, before that, at the edge of the woods, I came to know Mother Nature well. She taught me, fed me, let me climb in Her trees and swim in Her waters. You don't forget the ones who raised you. They weave their pattern into your life. So, wherever I go…

Small Things

More than once, I've been with a friend looking up into the star-speckled night sky and heard them say "Look how small we are." The reaction and the reasoning that leads up to it vary depending on whether the friend leans scientific or spiritual. One could even tell you precisely how small you are compared to all the familiar heavenly bodies and venture a guess on the vastness of space beyond. Regardless of the tone of the awe, most seem struck by the contrast. Compared to the whole of creation, we are tiny, tiny, insignificant things. A humbling thought, without a doubt.

Now, take that initial thought and step into the next. What lessons does the great big universe have to teach? What, other than humility, can we gain by contemplating the vastness?

The universe may seem like something huge, but really, it is a collection of billions and billions of individual things. I'm not just referring to us humans, but every living thing and every non-living thing, too. …

Art and Crabs

Picture an artist.

Is he painting? Does she dance? Does he write poetry, act, sing, sculpt? Is the one who sews a dress or builds a beautiful table an artist? Must the art be decorative, meaningful, concrete? Is there art in piecing together parts of others' work, or do we call it art only if it's 100% original?

Is an artist still an artist if they never support themselves by selling their work? Are they less of an artist if they do? Is an artist still an artist when he's just watching TV, or sleeping, or eating his dinner?

We all have different ideas of what constitutes art, and therefore, what makes an artist. Opinions on the topic are varied and changing. Most would say they would know art when they saw it, but few could define it with any sort of clarity. That's because art is an intangible magic, half the expression of the artist and half the perception of the viewer, listener or reader. It is a communication, an offering and acceptance. The artist can never know his…

Float

My Grandmother's house was near a lake. In the early years of my childhood, we would swim when we visited, and when I was about nine years old, we moved in with Grandma. So, huge portions of each summer were spent in that lake, splashing and gliding. My sisters and I knew every inch of the lake bed that stretched out in front of the house, knew where it might dip suddenly, where you were likely to cut your foot on a clam shell, or where you could dig up the dark grey clay hiding just beneath the sand. Rain or cold wouldn't stop us from swimming, and when Mom said it was time to get out of the water, it was always too early- no matter how pruny our fingers or how terribly our teeth chattered. The deep green scent and gentle lapping of the waves were a constant presence in my life and continue to invigorate my dreams. To this day, the proximity of a large body of water is like spending time with an old friend, a quiet happiness and comfort that needs no words.

I never learned to …