The road ends, but the journey continues...

Tag: blogging (Page 1 of 10)

Beauty Inherent in Humanity

The news broadcasts cover the dark side of humanity, the nasty, ugly, tough, brutal behaviors of some and I need to know that this is going on. But I also seek antidotes to this dark side, I look for the beauty inherent in nature. As I look at my photographs of this sculpture*, I am reminded of the beauty of most of the people I know, but also know that this beauty is delicate. I (we) need to nurture this beauty in others so it can flourish.”

*Utopia by Jaume Plensa (installed at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, MI)

Pat, blogger & photographer

“We need to nurture this beauty in others so it can flourish.”

Three’s the Charm?

This is a test (post). This is only a test (post).

As per my latest Jetpack techie-fixer-upper suggestion, I am sending this to see how it functions in a hopefully ‘fixed’ state!

Here’s what should happen that’s of relevance to you my Readers/Subscribers (formerly called Followers):

  • This post should appear in your notifications however you get them – WP Reader, email, etc
  • There should be a space under the notification for you to comment and/or Like if so desired
  • You should still be subscribed (please check if you are) – problems with Jetpack originally included deleting subscribers/followers

See ya on the other side – hopefully Three’s the Charm…because ‘One‘ – is the loneliest number in the Internet…Nope not gonna embed the referenced & punned vid. …even if it is by Three Dog Night. 🙂

Instead. Head here for the marketing vid for lessons (with yours truly) the Arts Center slapped together in a 15 minute session between students. It’s buried deep within the reels of The Arts Center Facebook page. If you listen to the background music towards the end, they added stock Banjo music – say what?


FYI: I tried to ’embed’ it using the WP Facebook Block but found out that block no longer functions due to a Facebook decision…not at all related to Jetpack! HA! Yet another ‘test’.

Since I don’t do Facebook, this isn’t a real problem but I mention this as a ‘Public Service’ to my fellow WP bloggers.


Yep, Still Technical Difficulties, but I’m Back Anyway

And what should appear in my email but a notice from a certain Manc Bud Poet that he’d filmed a snippet of a song I love during a concert he attended just Friday night.

He wanted me to know that the vid was too large to send so – get this – he decided to post it on his blog instead…just so I could share in its musical delights!

Hop over and take a peek! The vibe of the venue is just what my psyche needed, too.

Ya know, WP has many, many issues, but why I stick with it is because of guys like Andy…and all you other guys, too!

🙂

Meanwhile, here’s Infinite Sun by Kula Shaker via YouTube – Enjoy!

NOTE:

Yep, my website is functioning, but on only 2 cylinders. I find it interesting that my desire to blog has increased during the ‘Sounds of Silence’ stage and this further stage of waiting for fixes to be suggested and then implemented.

Jetpack tech assistance in the wp.org Forums is still pending, stuff is still messed up, but I’m back anyway.

Staging Sites, Migration and The Sounds of Silence

Under Construction

Perhaps you’ve noticed. My site has been ‘under construction’ for quite some time. Silent for even longer than that.

It’s been awhile, I know. At first, partly due to lack of time to put together a ‘quality’ post, yes. But mostly, at first, in order to keep site-traffic at a minimum in prep for a full backup download and staging of the site.

That was a few weeks ago. At that time, I worked on the too-long-ignored WP/plugin updates and tidied up the website before proceeding with the scheduled migration to another hosting service.

Nothing quite jolts one out of techie-inertia like when one’s host service end date looms on the horizon. The very close horizon.

Those of us who are wordpress.org know that hosting servers offer fantastic prices as a first-time customer. Then, once the contract is over (in this case 3 years), the renewal cost increases by at least 3xs the initial rate.

This is common practice.

I knew going in, that I’d need to find a new host to park the website when the dreaded renewal date arrived. In my case, hubby found a great package for 4 years with another host server.

A little over 2 weeks ago, I initiated the move. There’s always a bit of trepidation during the change-over, migration, re-direct of dns to the new host and how well the new host service deals with customer help once the site is in their care.

And there are always problems. In the techie-realm, problems are normal. But, as they say, there are always solutions. If you know where to look for them…

Original image lady techie

Meanwhile, my newly migrated site went live. But without the ‘Under Construction Sign’ I’d painstakingly selected, put in place and made sure it worked while the migrated site was in ‘preview’ waiting to accept the re-direct and spring back into life. Why? Because the fixes I made in prep for the migration got messed up during the migration!

I’m no stranger to setting up staging sites and fixing/testing stuff on my website. But having my semi-broken site live & visible after I made sure it’d be invisible under the ‘Under Construction Sign’ was quite upsetting to me. More so than the loss of ‘likes’ and other weird data disappearances.

Turns out, Jetpack does not play well with migration. And, active Jetpack support on the WP Forums has all but disappeared. Just sayin’…

The good news?

If not for the excellent help from the live tech assistants at my new host service – this website might have remained ‘under construction’ forever. Yes, an exaggeration about the forever part. However, I reiterate: high accolades for the live tech assistants who walked me through the fixes!

Now for the leap of faith: pushing the staged site to live. Again.

If there are problems, so be it. Otherwise, it’s great to be back!


As per the title of this post: The Sounds of Silence phrase rounds out the content of this post – even if the lyrics of the beloved piece do not. I added it here for an aural respite from all things techie. 🙂

Weekend Notes 3/2-3/2024

“Mounted over canvas”

As per recent quilt-blogger discussions about how to mount certain fiber art pieces: Mary over at Zippy Quilts posted a callout for suggestions on how best to display a ‘map’ quilt she recently completed. The overriding consensus suggested mounting it over canvas.

About two years ago, I experimented with this technique.

During the Pandemic, while noodling around with the idea of floating a design utilizing negative space as part of the composition, my Homage à Ma’s Uncle Tran Mawicke came into being. Pleased with the result, I wanted an equally unique way of displaying it.

Ma’s Uncle Tran* was a prolific commercial & fine artist, illustrating numerous magazine articles, sci-fi books, fashion magazines & catalogues, calendars, advertisements, creating art by commission, for both private/personal and public purposes, etc.

My Homage features a common color palette used in many of his works, but does not reflect his style of art.

As a true ‘working artist’, I’ve no doubt he experimented with different modern techniques and emerging schools of art-thought during his lifelong career. I’d like to think he might have explored a sort of “abstract expressionism meets graphic art” approach to his own work. In that way, my Homage title makes sense.

That’s the cerebral narrative. Truth be told, at some point during my immersion in Homage, something about it ‘felt’ like the Great Uncle I never knew – connecting me to both him and my (he)artist Ma.

*Mini bio: Tran Mawicke was born in Chicago on September 20, 1911 and died November 28, 1988. He’s best known for his commercial illustration, landscapes, and portraits. A graduate of the American Academy of Fine Arts and Art Institute of Chicago, his work spanned from 1935-1988. A prolific storybook illustrator, he also has credits such as film posters, covers of magazines such as Collier’s, Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping, and BusinessWeek. Tran served as president of the Society of Illustrators from 1959-1961. He traveled extensively and  called Bronxville, NY home-base for most of his life.


“Bonus Day”

Last Thursday was February 29th. A whole day inserted into 2024’s leap year to correct time discrepancies in our calendar related to Earth’s orbit around the sun. Think of it as an expanded version of the ‘extra’ hour received when we in most states of the US set clocks back in the Fall thus ending Daylight Saving Time.  

This added date – an extra day tacked onto February – felt like a Bonus Day to me, hence the name.  In fact, I planned for this Bonus Day in advance in order to take full advantage of my perceived ‘extra’ time!

Right before lunchtime, after a morning of unabashed glee pursuing indulgent (he)artistic endeavors, I got a text notice that my shingles shot was available & waiting for me at the CVS. Since this prescription had been ‘out of stock’ since December** I decided the unscheduled task took priority, so I got jabbed ASAP.

I am thinking you know what comes next…Yes, you’re correct in thinking my extra hours were then consumed by an overpowering fatigue – which for myself is a normal reaction to any vaccine.

And yes, you’d think I’d remember that – but no.

Overall I felt okay about that interruption, and I did indeed make up for that ‘lost extra’ time in the days that followed – gaining traction (and new insights) on a few music projects and progressing on a surprise gift I’m making for that new Papa cousin’s baby girl I mentioned in an earlier post. All of which I hope to reveal in the near future!

**What can I say? We live in an underserved area and that’s part of how life is for us. Case in point: a regular rhythmic cycle of empty shelves at stores has been a fact of life since moving here in 2012 – way before the Pandemic put that Reality front and center for many formerly unaccustomed to those sorts of issues. 


How did you spend your Bonus Day this Leap Year?


MMXXiii – part two

I finally finished my Cookie Mats the other day.

Please allow me to use them as a simple means to illustrate a handful of the many personal revelations/reminders I gleaned during this past year. 

I started them the day after reading Laura’s post on making her own “Cookie Plate Crumb Catcher”.

Like her, I needed a fun diversion tucked between my holiday prep and regularly scheduled life commitments.

That was November 19, 2022.

This is December 31, 2023.

Personal revelation #1- I can and do finish projects!

Also, around that time, the overarching theme (for me) of the coming New Year 2023 began to emerge:

Mindfulness – doing things with intention, not just as a default ‘go-to’ action.

Interestingly, each time I journaled about working on my 3 CPCCs in my Morning Pages, the word ‘fun’ is mentioned.

  • “Yesterday, I started work on another CPCC. I’m finding it fun.”
  • “As fun, I’d like to work on sewing the first few squares for one of the CPCCs sometime today.”
  • “I’m re-learning traditional piecing with those CPCCs. I ‘winged it’ on certain parts of the first one – a normal process for me – and it came out fantastically well. The second, I decided to be more follow-the-rules with squaring up each block to a certain size before sewing them together and it came out awful. So, the third one I’m trying a combo of both methods and so far so good! HA! This has been a fun ‘hobby’ reliever thing to do during my spare moments. Plus, I just might get a CPCC out of it with two to gift to others!”
Cookie Mats #1 & #2 on design wall
CPCC #1 on top perfect, CPCC #2 on bottom, prior to ‘squaring up each block’. It didn’t sew up well at all so I deconstructed it and threw the fabric in the scrap bag.

While that final quote is a good example of mindfulness in the making of those 3 CPCCs, the consistent use of the word ‘fun’ caused me to realize I needed more of it in my life.

Personal revelation #2- I realized that having fun was more satisfying than seeking happiness. Something I used to know, but somehow forgot. (For the record, joy* is an entirely different gift and one I actively nurture deep within my soul.)

Fun is in the moment and feeds the need in the now before it withers. Happiness is a quest that requires vigilance and can become myopic – in some respects it is frustratingly elusive and not easily sustained.

Shortly before the end of 2022, CPCCs #1 & #3 were completely pieced and ready to be layered with the usual quilt sandwich fixins (batting & backing). I packed them away as I was poised with a mindfulness focus of ‘living life outloud’ in the coming New Year.

Fast forward to November 2023.

In need of my annual holiday prep diversion, I pulled out the 2 CPCC pieced tops and began the process of taking them to the finish line. Again, a fun thing to do, especially as I pieced scraps and leftover small half triangle scraps into blocks to further turn into mug rugs and/or table trivets. Truthfully, I was avoiding doing what really needed to be done in order to finish those 2 CPCCs.

About this time, Wendy posted about taking a fabric therapy break from her own holiday preps. The Tote she produced – and oh so quickly – called out to me. I emailed her about purchasing it and before I could step away from the computer, she responded.

Scrap triangles as future mug rugs & table trivet

“Could I just gift it to you? I’d love to do that. It’s the season of giving, and nothing would make me happier! So no need to pay anything. I’ve been smiling to myself all day, just knowing I can share this with you! I had no plans for this tote, but I just knew it would have a place to go. I’m just delighted! Send me your address, and I’ll get it on its way!”

(here it sits atop my folded cutting table underneath a few pieced scraps & leftover half square triangle scraps on my design wall – quickly put to use as my new project bag)

Personal revelation #3- I forget that while it’s fun & rewarding to give to others, it’s sometimes fun & rewarding for others to give to me!

As I dutifully cut the backing fabrics and lightweight batting, I had and AHA moment. Why not turn these into more versatile mats that offer both hot and cold protection to table surfaces? That’s when I grabbed the InsulBright used for hot pads and added it to the quilt sandwich fixins. As an unexpected bonus this addition offered a firm bottom layer which enhanced my modest walking foot outline quilting.

Personal revelation #4- I can function in a ‘color within the lines’ type of world, but I really am an outside the box type of gal.

I finally finished my Cookie Mats the other day.

Personal revelation #5- Take the time to sit back, relax and enjoy the fruits of my labor!


*    “I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing.” John 15:11 amplified

MMXXiii – part one

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Proverbs 4:23

It’s been quite the year, hasn’t it?

Played against the backdrop loop of escalating violence, senseless shootings, climate catastrophes, wars, heartbreaking stories of real people – multitudes – changed forever due to man’s inhumanity towards man. It’s difficult to not get overwhelmed.

And yet.

I am:

Learning to accept
That all hungers cannot be fed,
That saving the world
May be a matter
Of sowing a seed
Not overturning a tyrant,
That we do what we can.

The moment of vision,
The seizure still makes
Its relentless demands:

Work, love, be silent.
Speak.

The house of gathering (poem excerpt) – May Sarton circa 1988

I’ve been quiet of late. Not by choice. I’ve sat numerous times at the keyboard or with pen in hand struggling to put into words all that is streaming within my mind and heart to no avail.

But now as 2023 nears completion, I find it easier to recount certain of those events and revelations which occurred during the past year rather than as they were occurring!

Part of my year’s journey included the above ‘revelation’ which clearly set me up for greater freedom in living my ‘everyday life’.

That said, I hope to compile a ‘part two’ followup post which will highlight some of those ‘events & revelations’…but then, maybe not! 🙂

Coffee and

Chocolate
Honey Lavender Shortbread Cookies

Hello Readers! While my blogging absence has been partly due to mindful summery activities/work/projects/laziness, it is mostly a result of managing a string of migraine storms over the course of the past 8 weeks – and counting. I’m in an in-between migraine wave space and really wanted to get a post out that’s been simmering over the duration.


Earlier this month, I spontaneously took out my phone and recorded a mini-video of the sunlight illuminating aromatic steam arising from my morning cuppa. I liked it so much I decided to do something Canva-esque with it at a later date.

As I’m partial to the quiet of the moments captured, here it is ‘as is’ for inclusion in this long overdue post!

While this is not that Canva-esque moment, “Aromatic Steam Arising” (cool name, eh?) has joined my small file of phone vids I want to edit and use in future projects. Thus, scratching the itch to explore DIY vid/music creations via the myriad of free tech tools available to the general population – especially to those of us non-techies who just want to try doing this.

I mean, I have the vid, I have photos, I have plenty of my own music to use, some Canva skills, a plethora of ideas…just not the time or patience to embark on this new spark of a project right now.

That said, I’m always up for squeezing in time to bake and cook! HA!

Many of you know of my deep appreciation for lavender in the realm of edibles. During our Mother/Daughter trip in late June, middle daughter and I came across an ice cream shop, OWOWCOW, nestled within the old Silk Factory building complex near Easton, PA. Its siren call beckoned us to enter and indulge!  

The heat wave in that part of the country was on the verge of bursting forth, but bearable. So, we gladly & without guilt lost ourselves to the delights of ice creamy refreshment after our walk along the Karl Stirner Arts Trail.

What flavors were offered? A world of possibilities. I chose two scoops of a luscious looking chocolate and one scoop of an interesting Honey Lavender as an experiment to share with Michelle. In my eagerness to satisfy my own cravings, I neglected to take notice of what she ordered. But I do know we both ordered scoops without cones – less calories, ya know? 🙂

Would you believe me if I told you the Honey Lavender was to die for? Yep, believe me. It easily surpassed the chocolate – which was one of the best I’d ever had aside from the expensive, teeny scoop consumed during a trip to Paris years ago.

This re-encounter with Honey Lavender inspired me to re-dig into related recipes. I found a simple Honey Lavender Shortbread Cookie recipe on-line and baked up a batch.

Its simplicity allows for the tastes of buttery lavender and subtly sweet honey to shine forth – leaving a clean and refreshing taste upon one’s palette.

Excellent with a morning cuppa!

Honey Lavender Shortbread Cookies

on-line recipe refined & adapted by Laura Bruno Lilly

Collage Local Honey & Lavender
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 cups flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried lavender

In a large bowl of the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, and honey until light and fluffy. Add the flour, salt, and lavender (gently crushed). Mix until combined. Place two sheets of waxed paper, parchment or plastic wrap on the counter. Divide dough in half and place one on each sheet. Using the wrap, roll & shape the dough into 2 logs that are approximately 1 ¼ inches in diameter. Shape the logs into squares if desired by pressing gently on the top with a cookie sheet to flatten the log slightly, then turning the log on its side and pressing again. Freeze thirty minutes or refrigerate 2+ hours, or until firm.

Honey Lavender Shortbread Cookies cooling on counter

Preheat the oven to 325. Remove the dough from the fridge or freezer. Slice into ¼ inch slices. Place 1-2 inches apart on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until light golden brown. Let cool completely before serving.

Note: Baked cookies freeze well. Also, can freeze dough and bake at later date – freeze in 5-inch long logs. Defrost, keeping firm, between 5-10 min before slicing into cookies. Bake as usual.

Honey Lavender Shortbread Cookies on Michelle's table mat
Honey Lavender Shortbread Cookies atop table mat made by Michelle

Weekend Notes 2.11/12.23

As per my last post, I figure it’s time to make an appearance on my own blog. 

As per my personality, I find it hard to just dive back in and post something after having not posted for a good long time.

As per the trajectory of my growth as an individual, here goes!


In the Arts Community, there is this ongoing debate as to whether or not a qualifier adjective is required before the term artist/musician/author/fill-in-the-blank. This overlaps into many adjectives – ethnic, gender, religious, political, educational status, age and other identities. Somehow the adjectives male or white are rarely if ever used.

Implications on this are loudly obvious. As in: the assumed standard is indeed male & white.

However, that is not the point nor within the scope of this set of Weekend Notes. Except in the context of should those qualifiers be used or would it be construed as offensive?

Worth pondering.

(If you want to comment on this germ of a prompt then have at it!)

More to the point of this post, currently a large proportion of the (he)artists on my online ‘playlist’ of cultural personas are also black women.

It’s Also February.

In honor of Black History Month, I’d like to draw your attention to one such (he)artist.

Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson

1940-2015

“I began drawing at the age of three. My father would give me wood to paint on and paint in little enamel tins. My studio was under my bed…I never had any doubt in my mind about being an artist.”

Aminah Robinson

Aminah created an immensely diverse body of work ranging from fiber art, scrolls, textile & accordion books, paintings & drawings in various mediums, sculpture, tapestries and huge pieces of quilted mixed media which she was constantly adding to called, Button Beaded Music Box RagGonNon Pop-up Books or “RagGonNons” for short.

Her art was grounded in her belief in the African concept of Sankofa, learning from the past in order to move forward.

Interesting inspirational factiod: she worked on her art from 4:30 in the morning through 12 midnight each day whenever she was in her studio home.

Phenomenal!

for further reading: source 1, source 2 and just google her name for a plethora of articles, images, videos.

Listen for the music connection in her works of art
Watch her stitch buttons onto her huge pieces of fiber art (around 1:11)
A more in depth overview of the scope of Aminah’s life’s work

Taking Stock

Stuart is happy to see me better balanced in work & play

Nothing profound – just finding myself in the curious position of having to mindfully manage my time. My plate is not full, but certainly fuller than it’s been since 2020. The good bits of my ‘new normal’ are shining brighter and growing steadily.

After a period of deafening dormancy, many opportunities are opening up for me, of which I do not take for granted.

For the first time in several years, I spy the arc of this New Year’s horizon. I am excited about walking, exploring and cultivating those paths towards it and beyond.

I think many of us are experiencing the natural unfolding of each our own good bits of a ‘new normal’ since 2020 became 2021 which then painstakingly rolled into 2022.

That said, my screen time – including but not limited to blogging – is returning to a more balanced, albeit skinnier slice of the time pie.

So you see, this is not a final farewell post. It is merely an attempt to explain my irregular pattern of posting that has become more the rule rather than the exception and which will no doubt evolve over the course of MMXXIII.

We all take stock from time to time – just thought I’d let you in on my subtle (?) shift in Time Pie Slices.

Taking Stock Time Management
Simplistic graphic depiction of text
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