Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Ah, the Thanksgiving blog. It’s tempting to wax poetic about Pilgrims, pumpkin pies and Project Runway, or to make fun of those daring dolts who deep fat fry their turkeys in spite of newsworthy hazard warnings. Seriously, after numerous explosions involving boiling oil, trips to the E.R. - if not the morgue - and house calls from the fire department, year after year, dinglehoofers still insist on dropping 20lb birds into vats of bubbling lard? God Bless America.

Or I could give culinary advice. If you’re having menu issues, how about serving Turducken? I think that’s a chicken wrapped in a duck stuffed inside a turkey. Yep, an American tradition since 1621. On the other hand, if you don’t like to eat anything with a face, tofurkey is an option. That would be a poultry alternative constructed out of tofu, or curdling soy milk. Yummy.

The other way I could approach this week’s entry is to give a sermonette on giving thanks, but most of us already know we should do that. So instead, Inspiration is the word of the day. And Anniversary. Hey, I’m allowed more than one.

Happy Anniversary to this blog, it is officially one year old today! We have managed to post photos and text for 52 continuous weeks. That makes a year, right? I’m thankful we made a commitment and have followed through regardless of our schedule, travels, triumphs and travails.

We intended to debut our new photoblog, The Language of Light, at the one year mark, but as today rapidly approached, it did not quite happen. Instead of pouting, we are pretending flexibility and just going with it.

Which leads me back to inspiration and gratitude. Question. If a sermonette is a mini-sermon, what is a mini-sermonette called, un poca sermonito? Without fear of repetition, I am advocating, stumping, soapboxing for you to enlarge some of these photos by clicking on them and then hitting the back arrow to return to the blog. I humbly insist you do this at least for the photo of the dew drop on the branch. Amen and gracias.

Now what do these photos have in common with Inspiration and Gratitude? To make sure we’re on the same page, I looked up the definitions in the dictionary and here is the gist: It’s like breathing. Wait a sec, as soon as I typed that I took a pause and looked up the etymology of the word. Inspire comes from the Latin inspirare and means “to breathe.” Ah-hah, I’m on to something.

The pearl is that inspiration is a Divine gift; a breath of life, animation, and ideas pressed upon the mind or soul of man (and by man I mean hu-man). If inspiration is done on the inhale, then gratitude is done on the exhale. It is a continuous cycle: Breathing inspiration, exhaling gratitude. I guess that would be considered, Thanks-Living.

Plucking from the opening sentence, I am returning to the topic of Project Runway, a television show for competing clothing designers to debut their talents. The three contestants still standing by the end of the season are rewarded with a fashion show in New York to announce the winner. Along the way, they are challenged to create outfits within certain parameters such as time, choice of materials, and budget. For instance, the designers could be taken to a hardware store and given 30 minutes to select materials to create with for under $75.00 and provided only 8 hours to finish their look. Crazy fun!

One of my favorite challenges is the “look of inspiration.” The producers of Project Runway might drop the budding designers in the middle of Manhattan, a zoo or a museum and give them a few moments to discover their inspiration. By show’s end, they must reveal the origin of their idea as well as its manifestation and the judges will pronounce whose garment came the closest. It’s exciting.

After watching that particular episode, I realize that I already create that way. I was recently interviewed by the local paper about how I stay true to myself and yet design on trend. I told the journalist that I do not pay particular attention to what others are doing, but continue to design jewelry based on my feelings and my feelings are related to my surroundings.

I fill up my well, so to speak, by taking walks and capturing images wherever I happen to be. Here are some of the images that both inspire and gratitude us.

The first picture is of the Grande Dame, the Black Tartarian Cherry tree located in the Owen Memorial Rose Garden here in Eugene. It is said to be the largest cherry tree in Oregon and is at least 150 years old. I curtsy in her presence. Equally magnificent is the magical world inside the fairy tree at the Buxton Corrie House in Corvallis, Oregon.

Images three and four were taken at Cape Perpetua on the Oregon Coast and in Napflion, Greece. Five and six were snapped in Athens and at Eugene’s First Christian Church. I find the beauty of Oregon equal to the staggering riches of world-wide travel. Gratitude!

Buildings inspire texture as you can see from the ones shot in Eugene and New York. If you paid attention to the poca sermonito and clicked to enlarge, you’ll see a reflection in both the building and the dew drop. Architecture reflects architecture and nature reflects nature and then spin your partner do-si-do. Mirror images everywhere.

To quote Julie Andrews from The Sound of Music, here are a few of my favorite things. I’m grateful for the iconic tower Gustav Eiffel designed for the World’s Exposition of 1889. I’m thrilled with Steampunk fashion (did you notice the relationship between the Eiffel Tower and the man’s funkalicious top hat?). I purr around the friends who belong to these colorful chapeaux, designed by the talented Bo Peep. I’m impressed by the generosity of France and the brilliance of the sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi of Colmar for our symbol of liberty.

I adore letters, both the individual members of the alphabet and the cohesive form they take when written and mailed. They represent communication and friendship and I wholeheartedly appreciate those who make the effort, whether in person, through email, the phone, text messaging or a hand-written note. I love you all.

Birds, nature, the ocean... the list goes on. But like a contestant on Project Runway, I am challenged by space and time and must take leave to get my turduckens in a row. Again, Happy Anniversary, Happy Thanks-Living and I leave you with these words of gratitude.

Thank You, Merci Beaucoup, Muchas Gracias, Domo Arigato, Mahalo, Danke Schon, Grazie, Ta, Asante, Efharisto, Obrigado…

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The End of a Season

“Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.” - Albert Camus

In between these poetic quotes, I am going to pause for a moment and remind everybody that some of these photos make more sense, alone and in context, when viewing them enlarged. Simply click on the image and voila! it's like magic - they get bigger. Then hit the back arrow to return to the blog.
“Love is the only flower that grows and blossoms Without the aid of the Seasons.” – Kahlil Gibran

What exactly is a season, anyway? Is it the division of a calendar by four, astronomically orchestrated by those power couples, the Solstices and the Equinoxes?

“No winter lasts forever, no spring skips its turn.” – Hal Borland

Eep, I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but in Oregon, the weather decides her own moods and a timekeeper she is not. We’d prefer to think of the seasons as being equal, the 12 pages of the calendar neatly categorized into four symmetrical periods of three months each.

Well, let me tell you, that is not how Mother Nature reveals herself around here. Winter is the longest season by far, starting in November and stretching out her stay until Spring finally pounces like a roaring kitten in April, showering us with rain, hail, snow, fitful sun and flowers from the bulb.

If brevity is King, then Summer is our Monarch, arriving in July and leaving in July. Autumn comes at his earliest convenience, unpacking in August and staying until Halloween.

And let me make this clear, Halloween is over my friends. Do I really need to state the obvious? Get rid of your putrefying pumpkins, it’s the end of the season!

“What you have to remember is that baseball isn’t a week or a month but a season – and a season is a long time.” - Chuck Tanner

In quest of defining “a season,” it seems to encompass more than weather patterns. It is a time of year dictated by certain activities, such as sports, hunting, fishing, television, shopping (oooh, Black Friday is almost here), planting, harvesting and worshipping.

Autumn-into-Winter has many overlapping seasons, the first of which is ushered in by its fashionable rule: No white shoes after Labor Day.

In quick succession, our days are governed by Back-to-school sales, Grandparents Day, Stepfamily Day, Talk Like a Pirate Day, International Day of Peace, the Jewish Holy Days, the Equinox, Johnny Appleseed Day, Constitution Week, National Hispanic Heritage Month,

Native American Day, National Children’s Day, Leif Erikson Day, Columbus Day, White Cane Safety Day, National Boss Day, Sweetest Day, United Nations Day, Mother-in-Law’s Day, National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, National School Lunch Week, National Forest Products Week, Halloween, All Saints Day, Veteran’s Day, Chakra Girl’s Birth Day, and Thanksgiving. Phew!

Of course, there’s more, but let me sum up by saying, no wonder we feel overwhelmed.

Thus far, we’ve established that there are four main seasons, plus all the Holiday/Activity seasons, but what is the Fifth Season or the New Season? I’m still trying to sort that out.

Changing direction by degrees, to season is to add flavor, either to food or conversation. Wood sometimes needs to be seasoned, the wealthy often season elsewhere, people are seasoned by experience and this week we bid adieu to the final outdoor Saturday Market for the 2009 season.

As one season ends, keep in mind we have others to anticipate. There’s Clean Up Your Moldy Pumpkin Day, AIDs Awareness Day, National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, Human Rights Day, Kimmm Day, National Regifting Day, First Day of Winter, Christmas, Kwanza, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve…

“To everything (Turn Turn Turn), There is a season (Turn Turn Turn) and a time to every purpose, under Heaven.”- Pete Seeger and King Solomon

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What Color is Your Month?

The month of Julius is said to be named after one of those famous Emperors of Rome. It could also just as easily been called Gaius, Caesar or Augustus. Oh wait, we have that one, too. Because fighting was so extra dreadful for soldiers in winter, the New Year of history began with what else, a March.

March, the first month of the ancient calendar, was named after Mars, the god of war. To soften things a bit though, the next month's name was inspired by the Latin aperire, “to open.” Aaaah, all those sweet open buds trampled underfoot.

In my personal lexicon, every month has its own color. As there’s only twelve, this won’t take long. Listed under Janus in my private inventory is white. Februalia is pink and red, while Mars has a shamrock heart beat. Aperire is rewarded with lilac, and Maia, the goddess of gardeners, is all yellows and greens to me.

Junius, well, it claims blue and crystal as in summer skies and diamond rings. Surprise! Julius is red, white and blue. Augustus is golden for the sun and the mane of those glorious Leos. Septem (which means “seven” and should not be confused with septum) is ruled by crimson.

Octo, the olden eighth month, grooves to orange and black, and Decem is gift-wrapped in red and green. Hmmm, that’s only eleven. Ah, righto, Novem.


It’s funny how I associate November, the middle month of autumn, with dull tones: Bleak, rainy, gloomy, wintry, melancholic, depressive, SAD (seasonal affect disorder), overcast, bare and desolate. Yet that association differs wildly from the actuality.

Take a gander at this color! No wonder the abundant symbol of Cornucopia is a blessing from November. The horn of plenty runneth over with vivid hues, electric skies, tantalizing textures, fanciful flowers, falling foliage and eye-pleasing fractals.

I think we might have captured the burning bush of Moses in the first two photos, at least those leaves appear to be dancing in flame. And image number three looks like a seablossom blooming under water. Always happy to remind you that you can enlarge the images for closer inspection. Simply place your mouse over the photo and click, then hit the back button to return to the blog.

If you read the photos like a story, we placed them from the brightest image at the beginning so you can watch the colors change, the trees strip teasing out of their fall couture to their bare naked branches. The last one is a pile of their clothes, left in a heap for us to clean up.

And who’s to say what implement is best for the job? On our walkabouts we find many abandoned tools and these are some of our favorites. I’m especially fond of the stove and iron. I’ve actually eaten deep-fried (tempura) leaves in Japan, but I have not yet tried them roasted, toasted, boiled or creamed.

The photo that makes me smile the most this week, was taken by Groom, and may not have caught your eye on the first go around. But if you do that enlarging trick that I keep harping about, then click on the 20th image (or third from the bottom, or the one just before the cloud-filled sky near the end). That center leaf, caught with such clarity before its fall to earth, well, I know why I’m still in love.