Thursday, May 8, 2014

EVERYBODY NEEDS A ROCK


The other day I was browsing the used book store as I sometimes do, in search of a few "gems". There are always great books to be found there and the space is filled with books, all categorized in terms of their topic. In the children's book room I found two or three great little books for my granddaughters but also one for me. It is titled "Everybody Needs a Rock" by Byrd Baylor with pictures by Peter Parnall. What a great book. Simple. Very few pages (less than 20 I would say) and not much to the pictures that are hand-drawn in terms of color but the content is superb! 

I have been a "rock hound" since I was a young girl. I used to have a great rock collection with each rock in its own compartment, categorized by type, when I started my collection. Over the years I would add to it but when I left home at 18 it was one of those things that got left behind in my locker in the garage. I always knew it would be there waiting for me if and when I wanted to pick it up but then one year my parents decided to move and it, along with many other items that I felt were valuable, got tossed in the garbage during the move. I was devastated, to say the least. It takes YEARS to put together a good rock collection!


I have "collected" rocks ever since but not rocks that are semi-precious stones or valued. I have collected rocks that "speak" to me along the way. The criteria is always the same: they have to be a special shape or color or come from a place that I want to remember. You know...SPECIAL!
Byrd Baylor says in her book: "If somebody says, 'what's so special about that rock?' don't even tell them...Nobody is supposed to know what's special about another person's rock." 
She has ten rules she uses for finding a rock. Rule Number 9 I really like.

RULE  NUMBER 9
"Always sniff a rock. Rocks have their own smells. Some kids can tell by sniffing whether a rock came from the middle of the earth or from an ocean or from a mountain where wind and sun touched it every day for a million years. 
You'll find out that grown-ups can't tell these things. Too bad for them. They just can't smell as well as kids can."

I guess I am still a kid-at-heart since I still sniff my rocks. I hold my rocks, rub my rocks, sometimes dip them in water to see the color and if I don't have any water to dip them into...well then...I have been known to even LICK a rock on occasion. Or spit on it! 


I love to collect heart-shaped rocks and I know many people who do too. They don't have to be perfectly-shaped hearts either. They can be a little bit wonky, abstract hearts. Just as long as they remind me of a heart, that is all that is important really. But heart-shaped rocks are not my only criteria either. 

I also like to collect perfectly round rocks that look like balls. And then I like to collect elongated rocks of all different sizes. I have a collection of rocks that look like faces, rocks that sparkle, rocks that look like skulls. And it's funny how these rocks find me. I might just be carrying the garbage out one day and happen to look down to see a face staring back at me in a rock. I have to pick it up, examine it, and if it is "special" it finds a place in my collection here at home. I actually think that I have rocks in almost every room (inside and outside) in my home. It's just something that has to be.

"I've seen a lizard pick one rock out of a desert full of rocks and go sit there alone. I've seen a snail pass up twenty rocks and spend all day getting to the one it wanted. 
You have to make up your own mind. You'll know."  Byrd Baylor




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

SPRING...FORWARD!

Spring for me has always been a time of new beginnings. When I hear the saying "Spring forward" when it is time to change our clocks, I often don't think of it in the traditional way but in a way that separates the two words.
FORWARD.
Forward thinking, forward march. To or toward what is ahead or in front.
Send to a new address.
Yes...FORWARD!!!


When I moved to this new home almost 3 years ago, I brought over a portion of almost every plant that was in my yard at the time. It was important to me because each flower represented a person, a place, or a thing. Each had its own quality that made it special to me and reminded me of something. The rose (above) was one that I took from my grandmother's home when she passed away. I babied it along for many years and each year it hasn't ceased to amaze me. Not so much the color but the scent. The scent is amazing and when I bend down to sniff it, it is my Grandmother...right there in that moment.


This year my daughters surprised me with a kinetic sculpture for my garden. My birthday is next week and true to form, they picked something that would inspire me each day and remind me of them. I love sitting in my dining room or looking out the window in my bedroom and seeing it spin in the gentle breeze. It is a gift for my new home that really makes me happy.


The iris in my garden started out from rhizomes that my grandmother gave to me years ago. They were easy to bring over to our new house because I didn't have to worry much about them wilting in the hot sun while I was busy moving furniture in the house. They sat patiently in one-gallon pots, devoid of any flowers at the time but still waiting, to be planted. The one above was the first iris that my grandmother had ever given to me and it is always the first to bloom every year.


I love taking a walk out in the garden every morning and seeing what gift will be there waiting for me. Every day there is a new color. And each year I continue to add to the collection that I have. The iris' are only in bloom for a very short amount of time here. Usually by the time May comes around, they have finished their spectacular show. Then it is time for maintenance...trimming, digging, re-planting. It is always a labor of love for me. I'm moving them...forward...to another location. Taking them and passing them on to someone else that can enjoy them as much as I do.


Plants are like that to me: gifts. They are from someone and to someone. And each flower, each scent that I walk past each day, reminds me of the person that gave it to me. The lilac bush (above) was given to me by my friend Candy when I moved here almost 3 years ago. This year the blooms are magnificent and full. And this variety will bloom twice in one year...not just the typical Spring bloom that I am used to having. Ah....April! 
A month that has both my birthday, my husband's birthday, and my first-born twin named after. We always knew that one of our daughters would be named April but at the time didn't know if there were going to be two girls, two boys, or one of each. I was lucky and had two girls. Two girls who are so precious and special. Who are considerate and thoughtful. What better gift in the month of December could a mother ask for than two daughters. Vestiges of the Spring before.


And I would be remiss by not mentioning these two wonderful people...now both gone yet still loved so very much by so many. Theodora (Peggy) was my friend's Vicki's mother. To me she was known as Agnes. (Another story for another time). She was a good friend to me in that she shared her family with me as though they were my own. I spent so much time there growing up because my home life was not the best. But Peggy (Agnes) was always there for me, treating me like her own. If Vickie (her daughter) was punished, so was I. If there was to be silence at the dinner table, I had to obey also. But along with the structure came much laughing and fun. Many weekends were spent water skiing, riding in convertibles,  eating fried chicken and potato salad, lying in the sun, and making Peggy margaritas. Oh...those days are forever burned into my memory and will always be fondly thought of.

Her granddaughter Lindsay (seen above with her) has also passed away. I didn't get to know Lindsay very well because we had moved away. But I would imagine that she was the light of Peggy's eye. Lindsay was born on April 17th years after her sister Heather was born on April 26th. Lindsay now has a star named after her in the sky. I know that Peggy and her are together this April. They have moved toward something else...have gone to a new address. They have Sprung Forward and have paved the way for the rest of us. Life is like that: we live, we die. There is no other alternative. But for me, remembering the sweetness of the April flowers is oh, so important.

Friday, March 21, 2014

TODAY



What is it about shadows? I see them everywhere, as most everyone else does too, but some days they stand out much more in my mind's eye than other days. This shadow of the oak tree in my backyard is one example that really spoke to me. I must say...I see things in these shadows and I am not sure if it is because I can feel my eyesight getting slightly worse than I seem to be relishing the things that I see even more. I want to embrace everything that is out there for me to view before it is too late.



It might not be too late either. Things might miraculously change and one day I will open my eyes to see things the way that I used to see things: nice and clear. At the present moment it appears as though I am looking through a bubble...some of the words run together and some are missing altogether directly in the middle of the word. Some days I notice it, some days I don't. I think that I am just trying to "will" it away because it seems that the ophthalmologist says that it is brought on my the stress hormone cortisol. And heaven knows that I have had my fair share of stress in the last year. Yes...




it kind of looks like this. There are waves and distortions in the middle of my field of vision. I am trying not to focus on it in a negative way but trying to make the best of a somewhat difficult situation.



I started working on a canvas about my eye and what I am thinking about. It has many meanings and still, because I am such a visual person, the eye is very important to the piece. I have been working on a series of art pieces monthly that the topic has been "The I" or "The Ego" and then the play-on-words "eye" definition seems to come "full focus" (no pun intended) because perhaps I need to be focusing outside myself much more than I am. I should be thinking of others more and not be so self-centered. 

The title of this piece is "Cross my Heart..." Remember that old saying that we said when we were promising someone something? Remember what the consequences would be if you told a lie or didn't keep that promise? Well...that needle has many purposes in this painting. I am still working them out; still reflecting and building layers. It is a process as most of you know. But, meaningful and that is what counts. Working through the process; trying to resolve the issues; trying to forgive and move on; trying to remove my Ego from the middle.

'Time is the horizontal dimension of life, the surface layer of reality. Then there is the vertical dimension of depth, accessible to you only through the portal of the present  moment. So instead of adding time to yourself, remove time. The elimination of time from your consciousness is the elimination of ego. It is the only true spiritual practice." (excerpted from Eckhart Tolle)