Creating beauty

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The last month or so have been as full of as much ups and downs as the weather.  My dad passed away about a month ago after first a gradual and then steep decline due to Alzheimer’s. He was 88 and would have been 89 in May.  I will write more about that some other time as I’m still processing the experience.  I came home with a basket full of his ties to be transmuted into something new.

But this post is about spring and flowers and creating beauty from just a few bits and bobs. I was invited to present a demonstration at our local Chinese Garden, as I did last fall.  This time I took my inspiration from Asian floral design and the emphasis on line in that design tradition. Line is also quite evident in spring’s floral emergence.  There are few banks or masses of flowers at this time in the garden. Just gentle sweeps of branches in bloom or very small clumps of bulbs. Yes some gardens have ‘drifts” of bloom but that’s usually reserved for very large borders.

 

                Setting up

In action

Finished products

At the end. Not my best look but it was cold.

Foraging your own material was another lodestar.  I wanted people to know that with just a few branches, shrubs and flowers they could create something of beauty.

It can be that way in our personal style and dress as well. No need to go over the top with color or design. A simple, well put together outfit with a small punctuation might be all that’s needed to be right for the day.

Heading to Visible Monday with this outfit. Thrifted sweater, gifted skirt, new boots!

Linda

Time always moves forward

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Time always moves forward

Rushes
Slows
Skips.

There’s memory of time
With gaps and eddys
Where thoughts get stuck, freeze, unstick,
Freeze again

Much effort taken to unspool and release.

The great “river of time”
Sweeps seasons in its churn;
Years have no meaning.
We’re just a small stick riding the surge.

When our stick disintegrates
fragments embraced by the water,
Perhaps a though of us remains
traveling the waves.

Rushing,
Skipping
Unknowing.

We’ve rushed into March, February a blur of travel and family (which I will talk about in coming weeks).  Because of my trips I have much to catch up on and wonder how its all going to happen.
As one of the results of my trips I’ve acquired a nice collection of ties that I will be repurposing.  I’ve been collecting ideas from all over the web and coming up with my own.  Examples are the ties I used for decorating hats in Jan.  At this rate, I may have to open an Etsy shop since I’m making hats faster than I can wear them all. Plus they all don’t quite suit me.  We’ll see where that idea goes since I have enough on my plate!
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Hat trimmed with a tie

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More ties

I did have enough time to get a snap in for Judith’s Hat Attack. The hat is a vintage piece, love the flowers at the top. It came with netting that I removed since the hat looked better without it. I think it needs some bling, so I’ll be on the lookout for it.
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Til next time,

Linda

(and see you at Visible Monday

 

 

A sublime night

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Chautauqua 2017

The house is quieted now
Shed of the tired Christmas greens.
Candlemas has come and gone
Yet winter with its gloved grasp
Still tightens upon shrub and tree.

Make house (and winter) liven up
Invite to them some jovial folk
So clean and dress the rooms, do fuss
As winter rains beyond the door
Behind it we will spring invoke

Make music, laugh, and poems recite
In darkness holds the hope of light
The moon, the stars, the planets shine
Though hidden in the bright of day
At night their beaming does ignite.

And quiet houses blaze awake.

 

Our annual winter attempt to stave off cabin fever and celebrate the talents of our friends went off without a hitch last night, in spite of my travel schedule. Forty people joined together in our brightly lit rooms with a range of performance and art.  This year we even went international, skyping in a friend from New Zealand and hearing her perform for the first time.

I like to think this kind of thing harkens back to the days before people relied on outside activity to be entertained.  Too much of our art and performance these days is made for us to consume rather than create (even fashion, sigh) that to take matters into our own hands seems almost unusual or even revolutionary.  I am grateful to have talented friends but even those without tangible “talent” have something to give and/or present.  My scientist friend draws comics/cartoons.  My stage manager friend has a flair for making delicious pies.  In fact this whole party is premised on people “strutting their stuff” – whatever they feel they are proud of and want to put out to friends and strangers.

Oh and the other reason for this party…. I get to wear the party clothes I never get to wear.

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Friends

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Most decked out couple

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The audience. The screen on the left side is my New Zealand friend being skyped in.

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More beauties

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The hostess – me!

Looking to see what’s up at Visible Monday  and Not dressed as lamb

Linda

 

A shoehorn post

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Does anyone use shoehorns anymore or is this one of those expressions that have gone by the wayside?

In any case, I’m shoehorning some writing in between helping my parents. It’s been an intense visit (when has it not) that I hope to process and write about sometime in the near future.

Before I left I tested out my new camera. I’m not totally sure I’m pleased with it but it could be that I just haven’t mastered using it.

I am showing off my Utilikilt.  Perhaps not the most flattering article of clothing but it has bodacious pockets on this side.

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Better maybe, is this pix, showing off one of my new hats just in time for Judith’s Hat Attack

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Linda

Things to do on a winter night

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Pub sing look

Pub sing look

January used to be a month of hunkering in and sleeping off the holidays. No more. Besides making hats and working on my classes, there are plenty of opportunities to get out and about.  Wassailing the fruit trees (of which I’ve written about previously) and celebrating Robbie Burns Birthday.

Portland Revels has been hosting a Robbie Burns pub sing night for some time now focusing on Scottish songs and Burns poetry. It’s a fun evening out with fine songs and company.

So who was this guy and why should we care.

I think most adults have heard of Burns.  Every New Year’s eve we sing Auld Lang’s Syne (loosely translated as days gone by) a Burns poem set to music. Burns is considered to be the greatest Scottish poet of all times (sorry news for those poets that came before, and after, him.)

Burns was born 25 January 1759 –  and really lived only a short while, dying at age 37. A kind of an itinerant poet, Burns was also quite the ladies man (maybe it was the kilt?), married once to Jean Armour and having at least 2 additional romances. He had twelve children from those three relationships – he must of worked quickly given how long he lived.

Burns helped Scots keep in touch with their national identify even as the country was moving to more closely identify with England and feeling the effects of increasing industrialization and diminishing independence.  Additionally, he often wrote in a Scot’s dialect further cementing his link to the country. His poetic output was quite diverse. He wrote love poems, songs, bawdy poems,  satires and vernacular poetry. In addition to original works, Burns collected folk songs. Burns was a prolific poet given that he was also a farmer and Excise (tax) man.  Don’t know when he had time for all of this!

One of the hallmarks of a Burns event is a toast to the lassies and a toast to the lads (a rejoinder). These are meant to be funny, often rather teasing, and edging toward doggerel.  I’ve taken on the task of writing the Toast to the Laddies. It’s not meant to be the best poetry so do take it in the spirit offered.

A Toast to the Lads-2017

Sit down here me lassies and lend us your ears
We’ve come to praise the men with us whose lives we hold so dear
For what they do endears them (when not driving us mad)
listen up and join me in honoring our lads

Their natal intelligence propels an outlook immature
Not difficult to understand since their minds are fueled by beer
Perhaps at root is the little head that steers the big brain’s tred
They think they are in full control but are by instinct led

Let’s not forget the foibles that they foist upon the world
the man cave, the sports events, much more that seems absurd
we tear our hair in hearing them eschew direction aid
we throw our hands into the air, when they can’t a diaper change

The hidden dirt, so obvious accrues ever more dust
dishes, toilet bowls, the bed, how can they miss so much!
The songs they sing, the toys they buy, I marvel at this stuff
and wonder who, and where and how, some man makes all this up

and yet, and yet, in spite of all we cannot give them the boot
whatever shortcomings that they have are balanced by the good
The men who stand with all of us promoting womanhood.
We are jointly fortified,  a fact well understood.

Humanity in each of us is further promulgated
When we together with our lads work toward the common greatness
So ladies and lassies both arise to take our toast today
to our men and laddies, together may we prevail.

Another look at the outfit

Another look at the outfit

 

Pub Singers

Pub Singers

Linking hands across cyberspace with Patty at Visible Monday and Catherine at #iwillwearwhatilike

Linda

 

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Snowbound: Housebound II

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We had a real snow downpour (snowpour?) here in Portland this past week – 12” at our house. This is fairly unusual and the city, as usual, is caught worse for wear.  There is not enough snow equipment since it snows infrequently. No salt trucks (note the pristine condition of our cars). Few cars equipped with snow tires.  Few drivers equipped with snow sense.

Portland literally shuts down.  There is not enough snow equipment since it snows infrequently. No salt trucks (note the pristine condition of our cars). Few cars equipped with snow tires.  Few drivers equipped with snow sense.  We’re issued decrees to hunker down and avoid unnecessary travel.  Our transit system grinds to a halt. The weekend previous found us housebound concerning snow and icy conditions.  This storm, beginning Tuesday night, socked us in even further.

So what does a girl about town do when snowbound (again)? She does her online teaching, cleans the house, finally finishes holiday cards, and makes things.

In my housebound post earlier this month I talked about making hats and since then I further embellished one and binged some more making two additional hats.

Here’s the initial hat, gussied up to where I like it more.

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The pink hat is a nod to feline empowerment. Pink felt got adorned with a repurposed men’s tie.  I love men’s ties.  Beautiful silks with wonderful patterns, men’s ties are underappreciated adornment.  I’ve a small collection that I had yet to repurpose. Honestly, I didn’t quite know what to do with them.  I had the brainstorm to use the skinny part of the tie as a contrasting facing on the pink hat.  Obviously I didn’t stop there and made a “topper” with the fat part.

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I repeated the use of a tie with the blue hat.  I had a similar blue hat a few years back that I lost (darn it) and had intentions to make another one.  I still had the blue upholstery fabric and even the embellishments, so I took the opportunity to make a good hat even better.

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I still have the two smaller headband/hats to finish up.  I think I’ve been stalling because they take so much handwork and I haven’t gotten the armature put together that I hope will better fit the hats and me. That may have to wait though as I don’t think I’m going anywhere far for awhile.

Snow is not scheduled to melt until sometime next week.

The house is warm, and I’ve got no place to be…..  I guess I’ll continue to work on my projects.

View from our back door

View from our back door

Linda

Sharing on I will wear what I like and Visible Monday

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Housebound

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When it snows in the Pacific NW people tend to get a bit housebound and we are no exception. We were scheduled to go to Seattle for a Wassail party (for more about wassailing go to wassail and here ) but my anxiety about driving in snow and ice plus my need to work on my various online courses put a stop to our travels.

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Thawing now

So we were stuck inside while ice pellets and silver thaw gathered around us. I was sorry to miss the party but finished up my course prep relatively stress free.  And then my mind had room to wander to more creative endeavors – like hats!

I had stumbled on a website and instructions for doing a felt feather hat (probably courtesy of Style Crone) and then did some web browsing where I found this site  The Closet Historian and a tutorial for a leaf hat.

That was enough to set me on my way.  I first drummed up this:

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which I’ve embellished quite a good deal from it’s starting point of felt leaves.  I’m not quite happy with how it sits on my head so there’s not a picture of that yet.  I repurposed a headband and think maybe I need to find heavy gauge wire and create my own armature which would better fit my head.

These two are works in progress — and not the best pix at that. I had to get back to real work (imagine that) as my online students were beginning to post discussion items. And I had to get down to some mundane tasks as well. So creativity took a back seat for awhile. Better pictures will come when I’m done with them.

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We did manage to wassail our own fruit trees and bless the house.  I don’t quite yet have cabin fever but am looking forward to the thaw. And wearing my new creations.

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BTW I am looking for camera recommendations.  My trusty Canon is getting old although I want a simple point and shoot.

Stay sane if you’re housebound.  Winter won’t last forever!

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Unbroken dreams of spring regard us in our hibernation
roots of remembrance tug in the mind, buried in sleep.
Smell.
Smell spring in the slightly thawed earth,
in the dessicated flowers that have no right to bloom.
Against the frozen remains of winter.
we sense something fresh.

Linda

 

 

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2017 is calling

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And I’ve not been quite answering.  I realize it is Jan 3 but I have one foot still left in the old year as I ready to leave my parent’s house and the site of 2016 holiday festivities.  There’s still so much to tidy up from 2016 that I’m not quite ready to step into the new year. And yet, here it is and there’s no stopping it. When I set foot back on the west coast this evening, I am certain I will arrived in the new year.

My visit here included, as usual, a bit of thrifting. I’ll be featuring my finds in my next post when I’ll have time and inclination to write something a bit more inspired.

Heading over to Hat Attack where Judith always improves my mood. Featuring two headpieces I wore in 2016.0455_rheebeverephotography_hat-at-wedding

revels-commediaitaliana-dancing5-l-2Back to normal soon.  The days are getting longer — can the promise of spring be far behind?

Linda

Bringing back the light 2016 version

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A bit of respite. A few hours caught in reverie this thawing December day.

I am in the thick of bringing back the light as we head towards the shortest day of the year (Dec. 21).  Through music, story, song, and dance, a simple theatrical production, the Revels engages each of us in a sense of community and shared longing to bring back the light, in this case to bring back hope, when all around seems dark and cold.  I need this more than ever this year: the sense of community, of joint purpose, of reaching past boundaries and hurts to link hands together.

Making our magic circle

Making our magic circle

On-stage

On-stage. Our themes change every year but the purpose stays the same.

We’ve been producing this holiday show since 1995 and my own involvement as a singer, volunteer and supporter also dates from then. We’ve put on shows in some very dark years indeed: 2001 when the twin towers fell; 2012 Sandy Hook shootings.  And this year when no matter what your politics, the divisions in this country give pause and cause for concern. Yes, this is just “theater”, just a potential distraction from the real work that needs to happen in our world.  But theater has power. The power to move us, to get us thinking.  In Stalinist Russia, writers, poets and playwrights risked imprisonment because of the power of the word.

In one of the most astounding things we do in the show (well I think it’s astounding anyway) we get audience members on their feet and dancing in the aisles.  We singers and actors reach out a hand across the gulf between stage and audience and invite people to join us in joy. It’s a reminder of what we share as human beings.

dancingintheaislesWe have beauty in this show, humor and in incredible artistry.

Our sword team biding their time in jail.

Our sword team biding their time in jail,not in the show quite like this!

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The dragon in our commedia mummers play mash up

The dragon in our Commedia mummers play mash up

 

I truly believe that when we remember our shared humanity and reach to each other, we can do wonderful things.  The Dalai Lama said this a few weeks ago in the New York Times:

“We should start each day by consciously asking ourselves, “What can I do today to appreciate the gifts that others offer me?” We need to make sure that global brotherhood and oneness with others are not just abstract ideas we profess, but personal commitments that we mindfully put into practice.”

Happy holidays to you and yours.

Welcome Yule!

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Heading to Visible Monday for a peek into other December worlds.

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Shop my closet 2016 edition

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About once a year I have a “shop my closet, shop your closet” event, aka “naked lady” party (though no one is truly naked).  You can see my comments about the last one which I held last October.  This year I had some intense personal items on my mind so it was a lovely thing to have a busy weekend, of which the clothes swap was a part.

I had invited quite a number of people but this is a busy time of year and was delighted to have about ten friends turn up. I had beverages (optional) and instructed women to bring the things that no longer delighted them, no matter what size.

This is a smattering of what turned up as I asked people to take home those clothes unsuitable for Dress for Success, a local charity.

 

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Although I didn’t score quite the number of lovelies I did last year, I did manage to get a few jackets:

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This blouse

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and a cute skirt

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and a dress

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This is a great way to recycle those clothing items that no longer suit you and is a very low stress way to stretch your style quotient.  If you don’t’ like it or never end up wearing it, bring it to the next swap.

Here I am with a few of the finds on.

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Checking in with Visible Monday  at Not Dead Yet Style and  I’ll Wear what I Like.

Linda