Innovation or Creation?


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I just got through reading a book on creativity which disappointed me as it seemed more focused on innovation rather than plumbing what makes people creative.  After reading the book, I some websurfing to  see if I could find more about topic of borrowing (or stealing) for arts sake.  Obviously some artists and creative types are innovators (Picasso, Georgia O’Keefe, Ursula Le Guin) but even these people built on what went before them. They did not “innovate” out of nowhere and more often than not artists borrow and “steal” as much as they make things out of whole cloth. Now it is true that the innovation lies in the retooling the “common” approach.   But being driven to be creative does not equal being driven to be innovative.  Nor vice versa.

This was very reassuring to me when I feel like I don’t have an original idea in my brain. It’s what I do with unoriginal ideas that’s important.

For instance, when I’m doing floral design, I take my inspiration from nature, and most often my designs are based on natural forms, shapes or ideas. That could be enough, if all I wanted to do was emulate nature. Most often, I want to expand what I see in nature and somehow add to it. There are people far more innovative than I in this arena (Brenna Quan, Christen deBeer and Francoise Weeks are three floral designers I admire for their work, artistry, and innovation) and I get inspired by their work.

It is true that I can find myself in a funk.  When the Muse, whoever and wherever she is, fails to visit. And fails to visit for a long time.  I can get discouraged about talent, aging, my place in the world, failing, success and a long list of other things. But as long as I can pick up a pen, overhear a conversation that sings to me, or touch a flower and and feel it’s liveness, I can find a spark of something. Maybe joy. Maybe something creative.

Heading over to Visible Monday to see what creativity is happening there.




November in a garden


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Once again I had a piece in the Lan Su Chinese Garden floral design competition. It’s heady company with amazing floral and botanical designers from all up and down the west coast. I am still a little nervous about sharing space with such a creative group. I have no illusions about winning a People’s Choice again (there’s a fabulous dragon on display) but am really enjoying being able to play with flowers and ideas in a very non-verbal way.  I have envied my sister Carolyn, and some of my cousins, for the ease at which they can draw and design.  But I’m beginning to believe that not all the visual talent genes went to them.

My concept got a bit more elaborate as time went on, and I spent many hours gluing leaves onto umbrellas.  And of course there was moss.

My inspiration was our rainy climate and how sometimes you have to imagine seeing the moon in an umbrella.

So process and final products follow.


Testing the structure


Placement at the Garden


Me and the piece






Plumbing the other side


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Whatever it is.  Talents you have hidden away.  Animosities or resentments you have carried around.  Wearing a color, you don’t resonate with.

From the sublime to the difficult to the imaginative or inconsequential.  We all have the “other side” in our make-up.  Sometimes it is something that could bring us joy or fun even, if we cared to take a look and try the other side on.  Sometimes these are buried feelings or experiences that can, like a treasure properly excavated, free us for the future. This latter takes support and often professional assistance. Because it can be difficult and scary to uncover those things buried deep in our souls – our fears, our bad experiences that stain us and shape us in ways we may not even know. Yet, they hold us back from truly being ourselves.

This autumnal time of year, was and is considered a “liminal” time when the veil between life and death is thin. When some believe ghosts walk the land (Dia de los meurtos) or you can see the future.  The New Year begins here for the Celts and some Pagans and even some Christians believe this is a time of change and remembrance.

So, take some time in the next few days to reflect. If this was your liminal new year, what would you learn from the other side. And how would go you about getting there and back.

In my Halloween garb

Seeing what’s up at Style Crone.  Yet another side of elegance and fashion.


My favorite place(s) to thrift


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I am on one of my regular trips to the Midwest to visit my family. My daughter had a whirlwind trip to Chicago (from Senegal) for a friend’s wedding, my sister is turning a significant birthday next week, and it’s been 8 months since my dad passed away and I wanted to check in on my mom. Enough to keep me busy for a week, with time-outs to shop and browse with my sisters.

We were visiting in Galena, IL this trip and had a lovely day of exploring on the Iowa side of the Mississippi.  In Clinton, Iowa we found several antique, consignment and thrift stores.  We dropped off some donations at the local Goodwill where I found these two fun pieces (skirt and jacket) on the 2 for 88 cent pile.  I could hardly resist these finds. (The photos are not that great, owing for the new surroundings and my lack of talent!) The boots are new to me too. A well- curated consignment shop – Renaissance Consignment – in Clinton yielded the boots and stunning velvet top (unseen).

I’ve talked about shopping thrift in posts way back when I first started blogging. I buy a few things retail every year or so, chiefly underwear, socks, tights and shoes. But mostly I buy thrift or consignment. The value per dollar is strong. I bought four articles of clothing/shoes for a total of 36.00.  Even shopping H&M isn’t that inexpensive. And because I prefer to cultivate my own style, I don’t mind if I’m not up to date with the latest issue of Vogue or NYT.

On our drive home, we stopped at a former school converted into a jam packed “antique” shop. We browsed quickly, and I found these lovely hats to perch on my head.  The rest of the outfit was not quite “au courant” but the hats were enticing.  Unfortunately, I had blown my budget on my four other purchases.


I also managed to pick up a few pieces from my sister, which will have to be featured another time.

Finally, an orange hat I purchased about a month ago found it’s way as a birthday gift to my sister. Orange is her favorite color. Happy Birthday Carol, and many more!

It’s been a fun trip, and I’m coming home once again with treasures.


Petal it forward


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One of the avocations I have, turned more into a vocation , is flowers and floral design. I’ve posted pictures of my garden and various floral arrangements from my studio and creations my business partner and I have done for weddings and such.

Today I participated in Petal it Forward, a effort by SAF, the Society of American Florists, to spread the joy of flowers.

In a partnership with a local wholesaler and local, national and international growers, flower shops and designers all over the country are participating in this one of a kind event, as flower bouquets are distributed, free of charge, to strangers on the street, in shops, wherever there is someone in need of a lift — which is most of us I think these days.


Today is a bit gloomy in the PNW, so the brightness of flowers is a welcome burst of light.  Very appreciative to the floral partners that contributed.

If you have chance, petal it forward. If not today, than some day in the near future. Buy an extra bouquet from wherever you shop and give it to someone, even a random passerby, who looks like they could use a lift.


Open that door


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Dare I walk through it? For the first time in many months, possibly years, I have few commitments this fall. No classes to teach, no course prep. No events to plan.  I feel like I’ve been given a lovely gift wrapped package and I’m scared to open it.

I’ve been wanting to really focus on writing for a very, very long time and I have always found reasons to put it off, chiefly monetary.  Working for pay was just too important. I promised myself when I hit 60 I would turn my attention to that intention. Well 60 came and went. And guess what.  I found so many things to draw my focus away from that intention.  Classes to teach.  Money to make.  Oh and all that other stuff that keeps me, that keeps you,  from doing what we really want to do. Or mean to do.  The internet, dinner, gardening, talking to people, cleaning the house, errands.

Today for instance, suddenly it’s 5 pm and I haven’t set any words to paper til now. While writing my blog posts are fun, and this kind of writing serves a general writing purpose, blog posts not what I’ve been meaning to do. Working on my novel? Yes. Or the play that’s banging around my mind.


If I mean to do this, intend to walk through that door, then I need to take the first steps. My days cannot just the chores in them. I know some of my most admired authors rose early so they could write before their kids work up (Ursula Le Guinn), or wrote everyday even if it was just a list of observations (William Stafford), a piece of advice I have heard echoed by pretty much every writer I’ve ever heard speak or write on this topic. And the nut of the theme….do it early, do it always. Just do it. Sharpen your pencils the night before. Wake up with a word and write it down.  Write as though your life depends on it.




Steppin out in my dad’s fedora and a silk shantung vintage dress.

Steppin over to Style Crone  for Hat Attack




Summer breezes, garage sales and the arrow of time


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I must say this every other week…. where does the time go.  And this summer is not exception what with the travel and the guests and the events.

Obviously I’ve been here before, as I wrote about it a few months ago. Perhaps I should rename the blog to “Times Fly”.  But rather than bore you with all of that, and because I really haven’t had time to do any deep thinking or writing lately, I thought I’d share a few hats and what have you’s found or made in the last few months.

Art Projects – parking strip installations.


Garage Sale Finds.

an orange hat for my orange-loving sister

A bird house for my mom

And a lovely spread at a backyard wedding.


Finally, one of me, modeling a new hat.

For a peek at the 52 Vase Challenge (which is all about flowers) head over to Rooms in Bloom.

Til the next inspiration strikes, I may be checking in at Hat Attack and Visible Monday.

See you there.


Hat Wave/Heat Wave


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It’s hotter than Hooter in Heater!

An old line I recollect (from Firesign Theater for those of you that might care and be old enough to remember) whenever the weather gets hot.  And it does, occasionally, get hot in the typically cool and rainy Pacific NW.  This summer has been especially intense, almost drought like with these past few days bringing temps in the 90’s and topping 100 for several days straight. More reminiscent of the desert that our climate. Though a little heat wave happens almost every summer.

On my instigation, David and I took off for our cabin, a little over an hour away. Rustic by way of shack-like, but bordering a small creek, it’s without indoor plumbing (think outhouse instead), electricity, phone service or internet. I love it.  Our stays are all about cooking, reading, playing in the creek and hiking. It’s about as far away from modern life as it could be short of camping.

At the cabin, the heat of the city is a little moderated, tucked up as it is in some elevation and in a creek draw.  I can get work done with the siren call of email and the internet, a bit more physically comfortable. Not worry so much about upcoming obligations. (Flowers for an outdoor wedding on Sunday when it’s scheduled to be over 90. What, me worry?)

Now you may be wondering what this has to do with hats.  This year’s trip to the dermatologist was to have some spots on my nose checked out.  Age spots I guess they are, not the freckles of my youth.  “Nothing to worry about, just some sun damage. Wear 50 SPF sunscreen. And a hat.”

We have a car with a sun roof that’s always uncovered. Maybe that did it. You take the light when and where you can in our notoriously gloomy climate. I don’t think of a hat then.

The wearing a hat part, not really a problem although I’ve not been assiduous about wearing a hat for sun protection. My head gets very hot in the summer and even a light weight straw hat can be a bother.  I haven’t really liked those hats with the holes in the crown but that might be in my future.

The sun is not my friend right now. The heat is not my friend and we’ve had both in abundance.

My advice to myself (and to anyone over 40)

Stay hydrated (always)
Wear 50 SPF
And a hat.

Over to Hat Attack for this month’s inspiration. And Visible Monday.  Better late than….

It may be a shack but it’s our very pleasant shack.


Time Warp


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Why, or perhaps how, is it July already?  I find that the time speeds up in about June and before I know it, summer has ended and it’s December.  A particular form of time warping occurs when I go back to visit my family in the Midwest.  A two-week trip compresses itself magically into seeming to take 5 days. I know it’s not true but my body and brain are tricked into believing a particular kind of condensation occurs. Minutes to seconds, days to hours, weeks to days.

My trip coincided with my aunt’s 94th birthday. She worked until she was 90 (really, as a receptionist for a high-tech firm – almost unbelievable). She didn’t collect social security under her own name til she was 91 – widowed at 54 she’d been collecting widow’s benefits until then. She is an aunt by marriage and her mother also lived into her 90s.  She is still kickin’ it although I think this may be her last trip to the Midwest from California.

The birthday girl. Born almost on the 4th of July!

My own mom is still in recovery from my father’s death in February.  I think she’s not grieving exactly but in some kind of shell shock or PTSD.  She was his caregiver (as I’ve talked about) with the care giving increasingly burdensome in the last nine months.  I was somehow sweetly moved to come across my dad’s neatly folded underwear and socks, untouched as yet.  The house is quieter without his puttering, and swearing.  She is still game – we went to a water park although she kept to the quieter rides.  She was probably the oldest grandmother there!

My mom on the left and her sister, and me of course.

Possibly because I spent much of the time in solicitude, catering to my mom, that I came away from my “vacation” more tired than when I left.  Maybe that’s part of the time warp.  The effect of time on our bodies is also a way time warps, emphasis on the warp.  We go from being capable and strong to, well, less so.  Reverting to some place of our childhood when our vigor and capacity were limited.  I’m not saying this has to happen, in fact, as my aunt and mom might attest, it is possible to keep sharp as you age.  Even so, time is inescapable.  If we are lucky we will grow older – time, with increasing warp speed, will wing forward, propelling us into the inevitable.

’til next time,


PS Whoa nelly, it’s July Hat Attack time, and a chance to check in at Visible Monday.

June: A case of nerves


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Wow, it’s been awhile!

It’s audition time for the Christmas Revels and not matter how often I do this (and it’s relatively frequently) I get a case of the nerves.  Not just a bottle but a whole case.  I perform with decent regularity, mostly folkdance and singing.  Sometimes onstage, sometimes in more informal contexts.  I do confess that early on I would close my eyes while singing in a group – though not when dancing obviously!  And I teach and do trainings and public speaking events.  So it’s not like I’m out of practice of being in front of people “performing” in one way or another.

So it’s the judgement thing.  The worry about being up to snuff. I didn’t sing in public from aged 10 to sometime in my 40’s. No school choir for me. My grade school didn’t have one and it didn’t occur to me I could sing in high school.  So auditions bring all this back to me, the sense of imposter syndrome.  And.

Call me a hypocrite but I do judge others, silently of course, if the writing is poor or the singing off key.  I walk in horror of running into someone like me or rather someone like me who can’t keep their mouth shut.  The people I’m auditioning for would never do that but not being cast for a chorus is tantamount to saying those things.  At least that’s the story I tell myself in my fear.

Nonetheless, I’m putting on a feel-good outfit, running through my song, and getting ready to head out. You can’t get through a case of the nerves without drinking at least some of it.

What I wore, minus the hat

Better late than never I’m heading over to Judith’s Hat Attack and Patti’s Visible Monday