Thursday, July 23, 2015 the numbers

Five days after my last blog post, my beloved husband died.  He was my partner in every sense of the word – life, love, family, work, adventure, happiness, and sorrow.  The common refrain during the days and weeks afterward, as the news was shared and shared again:  “What?!” 
Today was the 5 month anniversary of his totally unexpected departure from a very full life.  Most days, I still feel that all of this is just some horrible mistake – it seems much more like a mere 5 weeks than it could possibly be 5 months *What?!*

This past Sunday was the 17th Sunday since his death as well as what would have been our 18th wedding anniversary.  It would also have marked over 20 years of togetherness…  *What?!*

Tomorrow, Thursday July 23rd, would have been his 64th birthday.

In just over 2 weeks, we will gather together – family, friends, business associates – to celebrate his life.

The “firsts” keep barreling at me – full body blows – I seem unable to be “prepared” for them, even when I see them coming (?)  This may well be the most jarring part of my new reality…  The 1st hummingbird at our red honeysuckle vine was on April 11 – I wrote it down – as if I would need to be able to tell him…

There have been countless cards and electronic messages – each and every one arriving at the perfect time – such beautiful words of love and support, comfort and care.  I am mightily humbled and thoroughly amazed and ever-so-very-appreciative for every syllable.  I thank you all.

One set of hands has held me steady – re-centered me when I wandered off course – reached out, even when I thought I needed to be alone -- provided simple comforts in the worst of this journey.  My mother has been a rock.  I don’t know how I would have made it this far without her.  I love you, Momma!

Many whom I love and respect tell me that I am doing great.  I cling daily to this notion of what I am as ‘great’ – ever aware of the abysmal chaos lurking below.  If what I am doing is ‘great,’ may God help those having worser days!

I am forever changed.   

Onward & Upward.
 - penny

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Feelin' Lucky!

Greetings!  I hope that yours has been a most fortuitous St. Patrick's Day.  Here in HoCo, we seem to have sent winter packing by driving straight on into Summer!?  It was 84 degrees here, today!

Regardless the weather, I am feeling more than a little lucky!  Granted, this is pretty much my normal state -- heck, I could recycle this title with numbered tags -- there's no telling how many there would be by the end of the year.  *hmmm...  *

The past week was another in the seemingly unending "Buffet of Blessings" that I regularly observe, bobbing along on the ebb and flow that is life here on the Acre.  It bundled together several of my most favorite things between book-ends of creativity -- it doesn't get much better than that, eh?

Picture Perfect
...a wee folded tome
We begin with a quick trip up the road to Jerry's Artarama - Raleigh, NC; on Sunday (03/08) visitors found me happily folding books at the entryway.  A few folks stepped up to play along.  I do so love sharing my love of paper and all the wonderful things that one can do with it!  The "Try Me" project was a lovely, wee modular Origami book -- little warm-up for my 1st workshop of the year.  *fun, Fun, FUN!*  After amazing the natives with my paper wizardry, I enjoyed a sunny, afternoon visit with The Mother -- complete with steaming mugs of tea and bird-song.

The Same Again folded by a visitor to my demonstration
Thursday (03/12) was the General Meeting of the Carolina Mixed Media Art Guild for this month.  WOW -- we had a loaded agenda!  The evening was packed with all sorts of mixed media merriments:  new opportunities on the horizon, fabulous Member Artists' work on display, beautiful works entering the world as part of an international Call for Art, and a marvelous Demo from C. Mitchell on the wonders of various acrylic mediums!  If you are in the area, you really owe it to yourself to pay us a visit.  We have a LARGE time, and there is SO much going on throughout the year -- your membership is well worth the cost.  *...and I am not the slightest bit biased toward this group of amazing artists!  Nope, not one bit!*

A Trio of Minis
...the fruits of my labors, folding with the younguns
Friday (03/13) was not the least bit scary for me as it marked my return to the beautiful campus of North Raleigh Christian Academy.  For the 4th *or 5th (?)* year, I proudly served as one of the Demonstrating Artists at the annual ASCI Arts Festival.  It is so exciting to share something I love (the making of books as an art form) with a younger group of creatives, and see the "spark" as the pieces of the puzzle come together, and they get the magic behind the form.  This event always concludes with a wonderful luncheon at a nearby eatery for the Artists/Instructors who shared their skills at the event.  It is one of the markers of Spring, for me!  *the weather is no help in tracking the seasons in this part of the country!*

Sandwiched between these two lucky bits was a most loverly visit and late night nibbles & sips with two wild and crazy artist friends I don't get to see nearly enough of.  How sweet the company of friends after a evening of shared joys?  ...and how much sweeter still the anticipation of a day doing what you love to do in the company of others on the happy road of creative living?

Sunday (03/15) afternoon, The Man and I enjoyed a Clint Eastwood movie marathon.  I took advantage of the chill Sunday at home to indulge in a little creative play.  I have finally played with my Pan Pastels, and I can definitely see what all the hub-bub is about!  I tested a few ideas that I had in mind for a quick project and was very pleased with the results.

Pan Pastels -- The Test-Drive
...3 colors, blended through the stencil - sealed with a shimmer
using Color Bloom Spray
- shadows added w/ marker
I ticked off one more of my ToDos for today with a quick trip to the Pack & Ship for Global Postage, and the mailing of 11 loverly pieces of Mail Art -- who knew Global Postage Stamps were so pretty?  I'll just tease you with the stamps, for now -- photos of the individual works themselves will be along, soon!

Beautiful & Round
...Global postage is a perfect finishing touch
 SO!  That ought to be enough to hold you, for now!  I'll see you back here again, soon!

Onward & Upward!


Words of Wisdom for Today:
Good night, and good luck.
                         - Edward R. Murrow

Photo Notes:  
All photos taken with the standard camera app on the Samsung Galaxy S4. 
All editing (crop, color adjust, etc.) completed in IrfanView

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Wild, Wacky, Wonderful Winter (so far...)

We're not known for particularly harsh winter weather, here in eastern NC.  Mother Nature has decided to pull out all the stops this year, apparently!  A mere three weeks ago, we wandered the waterfront in Hilton Head, SC in nothing more than shirt sleeves!  We had the chance to visit with dear friends we hardly ever see, and reveled in the beautiful weather for our visit.  It was great fun, and as is always the case when spending time with those we love:  not nearly long enough.  'Already looking forward to next time!

A Weekend in Hilton Head, SC
...and a good time was had by all!
All in a Days Work
photo transfer on canvas panel w/ brass hardware
Also at the end of January, I had a piece of new work go to a new home as part of the "Ocracoke Through Your Eyes" Art Auction to benefit our friends at The Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum on Ocracoke Island, here in NC.  I was thrilled to take part as a donating artist, this year; I have high hopes of doing the same again and being there for the event, next year!  My fellow ReMe partners and a handful of other local artist buddies donated work for the event which was proclaimed a rousing success by end the of the evening.  When you are next in the area, please do stop by the OPS Museum for a visit!  They do a wonderful job and preserving and sharing the rich and varied history of Ocracoke.

Productive Tranquility
...the view from the "corner office"

Jean, Jodi, and I managed to nail down a full weekend *minus a wee afternoon of antique/thrift/hardware romping* to do some long-range planning for ReMe Retreats.  This made for a lovely change of pace, as we normally fit this in amongst all of our other responsibilities -- it was ever-so-lovely to have more than a few hours to hammer out some of our ideas, set new goals, and plan even more REmarkable wonders for those attending our events -- and there will be wonders!  Many thanks to our dearest Mary N. (of Mary's Funky Fish) for the lakeside hospitality!  *cough...  CAW!

The Long View
...2015 - a work in perpetual progress
*WHAM!*  Then wee, li'l February was fully upon us -- and good googley-moogley, has it boogied on by?!  I had envisioned this month as the proverbial "calm before the storm" -- socked in at the homestead for all manner of preparatory, top-secret, behind-the-scenes goodness taking place prior to the arrival of what promises to be a very merry spring, indeed...  Weeelllllll -- not so much (?)  Don't get me wrong:  things are happening!  ...just not the epic quantity of things that I had feverishly imagined would happen during that idyllic week between Christmas and New Year's when the allure of a vast new year and a shockingly blank calendar were before me! 
*shocker, that -- right!?  weeellll -- not so much!  HA*

A Jaunty Visitor
Winter Storm #1 - February 17, 2015
ANYway...  weather has been a factor, as has a bizarre stomach malady *but I'll spare you that particular [non]delight!*  I suppose, if one isn't paying close enough attention, time does fly indeed!  Hard to believe as we look out on the fluffy blanket of snow that accumulated during the day today that just last week the view was of a different sparkle altogether!  Yeppers -- ICE *ice, baby!*  
It makes for lovely photos, but it also makes for treacherous stairs.  I have discovered in a rather uncomfortable manner that it is also dangerous to be out and about during the thaw!  Trust me when I tell you that large, slushy gobs of ice pack a wallop when they are descending rapidly from the tall, tall pines that surround our driveway.  #liveandlearn

Today's view, as captured by
my own Sky King.  Enjoy!

Onward & Upward,

Words of Wisdom for Today:
Words ought to be a little wild
for they are the assaults of thought
on the unthinking.

                         - John Maynard Keynes

Sunday, January 4, 2015

About The Word...

Did you have "a Word" for the year, last year?  I did -- last year was the 2nd time I participated actively in this practice.  I have written (and written, and written) about my disdain for the notion of Resolution(s) for the new year. I feel that, alternately, having a set Word (or intention) does indeed have an impact.  My word was "Question" and it provided ample opportunity to up my mindfulness quotient! my bracelet appears to be in hiding,
this piece (also by Amy Smith) is a perfect illustration!

I think it helps *if like me, you have not done this regularly* to have extra reinforcement at the beginning.  For me, it came in the form of a customized piece of jewelry from fellow artist and friend Amy Smith.  For the first portion of last year, I wore my Word almost daily.  It was always near by or directly in my line of sight.  I was reminded *beautifully...  colorfully...  artfully...* of this desire, and I feel that it helped the notion 'take hold.'
Painted & Stitched
Canvas Cuff by Amy Smith

At times, to Question was simple and straightforward:  "WHY!?"  alternately, "Why NOT?"  However, when applied most rightfully, in more difficult situations (i.e. moments of frustration, anger, sadness, regret, etc.) it proved an effective tool in dealing with less pleasant matters in the moment.  It served as a virtual "Pause" button, inviting me to step back, for just a minute, and look more closely at the "Why... ?" of the things that were itching my mind or pulling on my heart.  Which, in turn, allowed me to quite regularly lay down pointless burdens before they taxed my finite resources.  Unlike the noble Oyster, we mere mortals do not produce fine treasures when we fester over the grains of sand that sometimes rub us the wrong way.  We produce irritated bellies and unquiet minds.  We sometimes produce a snapping, snarling presence that can appear to be overreacting to the situation at hand.  Hardly moments to treasure, eh?

Having embraced the notion/intent of Question for a year, I feel that I have come away more aware of things that can be troublesome for me.  I feel lighter in spirit for having taken the time to question my responses and answer for them honestly, even if I answer to no one but myself.  I would like to think that there has also been a benefit to others of my Questioning -- that I have emerged more fully present in the various roles I fulfill from day to day.  Perhaps this is so, or maybe this is yet to be seen...

This year, my word/intention is to Observe.  On first glance, this may seem a passive intention.  That is not my take on it, though...  In the spirit of mindfulness, I desire to Observe more fully -- to actively receive more random moments of beauty and tenderness -- to note *and to propagate* more of that which fosters joy and bliss, and less of that which weighs the mind with useless worry -- to see opportunities as they present themselves, and scoop them up like the gifts that they are rather than to relegate them to the dustbin of "one day..." -- to mindfully revel in the daily blessings that are heaped upon me, and take not for granted that I bear a responsibility to nurture and maintain them.
observe \əb-ˈzərv\
: to watch and sometimes also listen to
(someone or something) carefully
: to see and notice (someone or something)
: to make a comment about something you notice

What about you?  Do you have a Word for the year?  Is this a practice that you find beneficial, or is there something else that works for you?  I'd love to hear about it!  Leave me a comment, and we can continue the discussion.  There's always this:

Onward & Upward!

Words of wisdom for today:
"Be glad today.  Tomorrow may bring tears.
Be brave today.  The darkest night will pass.
And golden rays will usher in the dawn
                                      - Sarah Knowles Bolton

Image Credits:
   Clearer Focus:  Taken w/ Samsung Galaxy S4, standard camera app

   Painted & Stitched Canvas Cuff:  Amy Smith Designs  
   Bespectacled & Observe:  The Graphics Fairy

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

I wish for you -- for us all -- a New Year full of health, happiness, and creativity! I stand here, on the threshold of this vast New Year, I am bolstered by the wonderments and accomplishments and failures of the year just passed.

Wait!  What!?  Did I just say I was bolstered by the FAILURES?!?  ...yep, Yep, YEP!

You see, while I am most thankful and immensely grateful for the successes of 2014 -- and they were many (!) -- I am begrudgingly thankful and nearly as grateful for the failures of '14 as well.  Without them, how would I set new goals?  How would I know that "No." is often just another way of saying "Not yet."?  How do I grow stronger without the occasional set-back to increase my versatility? resilience? sheer, incontrovertible desire to make/be/do/create more?

So...  I will embrace this bright, shiny New Year and all it holds in store:  the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, the desired, the unexpected.  I welcome all of it, and I look forward to sharing it with you!

Over the course of this month, I will gear up for the rapidly unfolding new year, and savor the flavors of the year that has just slipped over the horizon line.  I very much like the idea of moving forward while looking back, just like old Janus -- his youthful visage full of the promise of things to come, and his aged one a reminder of that which has been enjoyed, overcome, and moved to the past.

Onward & Upward!

Words of wisdom for today:

"The highest form of human intelligence
is to observe yourself without judgement.

                                    - Jiddu Krishnamurti

Monday, December 29, 2014

Twelve Years On

Dan Michael Arrowood
1982 - 2002
Twelve years gone.  Some days, it seems so much newer -- this loss, this wound.  It just doesn't seem possible that you have been gone for more than half of the time that you were here.  Some days, I catch myself in the act of wanting to tell you something amazing -- something I just know would interest/humor/intrigue you -- books, music, movies...

We treasure the memories -- the good and the bad.  You were not perfect, but you were perfectly you!  It was a privilege to know you, my honor to call you a son, and utter joy to recall all that was good and bright and lovely. 

In celebration of you, dearest.  Today we remember.

Onward & Upward,

Words of wisdom for today:

"You have not forgotten to remember;
You have remembered to forget.
But some people can forget to forget.
That is just as important as remembering to remember
-- and generally more practical
                                    - Idries Shah

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Just a Normal 2nd Thursday -- Until it Wasn't!

Greetings, Blog-Land!  I hope that all and sundry are well and happy, and joyfully ensconced in the merriments of the Season.  I return to you with MUCH more to share than the time to lay it all out, but this is most awesome news and needs be shared post-haste!  

Last week, I went about my business with work, and various projects, and my ongoing quest to be Christmas-ready, and preparations for the big, year-end wrap-up for the CMMAG.  As one does.  Our December meeting is always a large, fun gathering -- a mix of business and pleasure, with great food and incredible company.  As I have for the past few years, I was also readying for an afternoon with the younger set; I had planned the activity for the after school program at the Chavis Community Center prior to the meeting.  The Christmas party that we host for the after school bunch is as much fun as our own!
Happy, wee artists
...enjoying pizza apres creative adventures in card making

The afternoon went swimmingly!  The pizza was ready when I stopped at Sam's to pick it up.  MDP  and I pulled into the parking lot at the SAME time *cool and yet a wee bit spooky.*  We had a great group of kids and helpful hands from the Staff.  Everyone got to finish at least one (most made two) of the days project:  hand made Christmas cards featuring fingerprint wreaths.  There was plenty of food, drinks, and treats for all who attended.  Clean up went quickly and smoothly.  Happy faces all around!  

The progression to the Guild meeting was much the same.  Although, we did have a change of venue (a different meeting room) due to the freakish heat situation in the room that normally houses us.  Plenty of helpful hands for the set up and preparation for our meeting/party.  Folks filing in laden with gifts, food, arty bits to share, door prizes -- truly, just your normal *albeit, holiday time* gathering of the CMMAG.  Things got underway, recognitions given, Secret Santa gifts exchanged, door prizes enough for EVERYONE, and great food all highlighted our final meeting of the year.

A late item on the Agenda looked interesting:  Surprise  -- I had absolutely no idea what was coming.  *DUH -- that's why it was a "Surprise" -- at least part of why, anyway...*  Seriously,  in spite of being on the Board, I had no clue what this referenced.  Which is why, when our beloved Founder (Jeanne Rhea) stood to take the lectern, I sort of freaked out -- I had a moment of panic, thinking that she and her husband had sold their house and were leaving NC (this is not beyond the pale, as the plan had in fact previously existed but *mercifully and unexpectedly* changed).  *WHEW!*  That's not at ALL what happened...

She spoke with fondness to the efforts of everyone throughout the year, and her extreme pleasure in the spirit of our organization.  The thanked the Board for its ongoing efforts to improve and expand the reach of the Guild.  She then referenced an idea that had been mentioned a few times over the past couple of years:  the establishment of an award for exemplary service to the Guild.  I smiled and nodded, having proposed this notion during my service as President.  I assumed, with all of my travel this year, I had missed the discussion that brought this to being.  She spoke of dedication and generosity, willing spirit and such.  I was more excited by the moment, anticipating who would receive this newly fledged honor.  I was thinking of all of the new people who have joined, and longer standing members who have 'upped their game' in the past year, stepping into new roles and sharing more of their talents.  I was thinking about how much this group has changed, and yet is still so much the same as when I joined *has it really been 8 years ago!?*  As Michelle handed her this gorgeous piece of art glass (there really is no other way to describe it), I was giddily immersed in what a beautiful thing was happening. much so that when she turned to me, and said that that is why the Guild was presenting me with the 1st Founder's Award I was STUNNED!

I now offer my profound apologies to all who were actually there.  The most I can remember about what I said was that (a) "Oh. My. GOD." was a prominent refrain, and (b) I seemed unable to say "...but not for me" over and over.  I did manage to finally produce a sodden 'thank you', but cannot imagine  that it made much sense...  As noted (with a bit of consternation by friends), my FB status was no more illuminating  than "Mind BLOWN!" for a few days...

I am humbled by this honor.  I am deeply appreciative of the words inscribed upon this award:  "In appreciation of her dedication, hard work, innovations, and continuous service to the Carolina Mixed Media Art Guild..."  My thanks to members past, present, and future for their being a part of this amazing organization.  I have said on more than one occasion that my membership in this guild is unlike anything I have ever experienced.  Its value to me is beyond measure.  I have made some of the most incredible friendships of my life in the past eight years.  I have learned new things, experienced amazing oppurtunities, and grown as both an artist and a person as result of my time in this Tribe.   Thank you to the members and the Board (with whom it is my immense pleasure to work).  Thank you to my husband (a veritable fount of patience in all things Guild-y).  Thank you.  

Onward & Upward,

Words of wisdom for today:

"One must from time to time
attempt things that are beyond one's capacity
                                    - Auguste Renoir

Photo Notes:
   Happy & wee  - taken with Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS1
   Award  -
taken with Samsung Galaxy S4, standard camera app
   all photos color adjusted and cropped in IrfanView