The road ends, but the journey continues...

Tag: everyday Americans (Page 1 of 7)

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.”

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?


Weekend Notes 1/13-14/2024

While many are experiencing extreme weather across the country, our little corner of the world offered up a few perfect days.

My favorite type of day, in fact. Stiff breezes delivering crisp air and enhanced sharpness to the slanty-rays of daytime sunshine…

Laura Bruno Lilly on back porch
I’m a happy camper!

While many have detailed their goals in a manner worthy of the New Year, I have been floundering in my own Sea of Lists.

Until…

A poem found me.
Its truth offered a starting point.
Its truth offered freedom to just begin.

New Year Poem (excerpts)
May Sarton

Let us step outside for a moment
As the sun breaks through clouds
And shines on wet newfallen snow,
And breathe the new air.
So much has died that had to die this year.

We are dying away from things.
It is a necessity – we have to do it
Or we shall be buried under the magazines,
The too many clothes, the too much food.
We have dragged it all around
Like dung beetles…

…Let us step outside for a moment
Among oceans, clouds, a white field,
Islands floating in the distance.
They have always been there.
But we have not been there…

…Let us step outside for a moment.
It is all there
Only we have been slow to arrive
At a way of seeing it.
Unless the gentle inherit the earth
There will be no earth.



In between getting ready for this coming week of teaching, prepping for a trip back to the Mayo for my hubby’s 6 week post-surgical re-check*, working on a baby quilt for one of my younger cousin’s new arrival, figuring out various details of unexpected commitments – and normal outloud living – I leaned into the ‘perfect day’ call to bake.

Remember to occasionally indulge all your senses with the simple act of baking.

  • Cream the butter and sugar to its smoothest consistency
  • Inhale the aromas wafting throughout the home
  • Embrace the warmth of the oven as it fills the kitchen
  • Take note of the visual art of the newly baked good before consumption
  • Relish the act of savoring each bite

*he had a long overdue total knee replacement done at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL just 5-6 hours from where we live. It was hugely successful!

Come Monday. That’s Today.

I cannot get past the coincidence of today’s Labor Day Monday and the Come Monday Monday also being a Labor Day Monday. It pushed me over the edge of posting on this Monday, Monday. But then, that’s a different Monday entirely!

While I like me a fine Margarita, this song (and video) by the late Jimmy Buffett is more reflective of the mellower times I remember in the 70s. Since it became a hit in 1978, I can imagine & remember the early days of being a newlywed. And our time as a couple with a newborn living in the Bay Area shortly thereafter.

Hubby was the country/cross-over fan, introducing me to Jimmy, Waylon and Willie! ?

Of those three, I’d say Jimmy was the one who grew into a good lookin’ old guy – respectfully written I assure you.

RIP Jimmy – an everyday musician who didn’t let his unexpected fame (via that other hit song) spoil his joyful, gentle, persona.

On a side note: I hope this Labor Day ushers in cooler weather for everyone. Take care, all!

Weekend Notes 3.18/19.23

  • Hubby and I just got back from 2 weeks in Albuquerque (almost home!) caring for a dear longtime friend pre, during and post TAVR (heart valve replacement surgery). Originally on-call to help with the household, that same household* got struck down with RSV and then COVID so details of how we were to help changed drastically. She moved out of her home and into an Airbnb where we three (hubby, myself and herself) spent the duration.

Love is a powerful enabler

  • Meanwhile, her husband held down the fort, miraculously remaining unscathed by the actual virus, if not sleep deprivation. Love is a powerful enabler.
  • As can be seen from this 6-days-after-the-surgery photo, our precious sister-friend is stronger than ever.
Me and Joan along the Rio Grande in Albuquerque
Me & Joan along the Rio Grande in Albuquerque
  • And oh yeah, we drove there and back racking up the miles once again towards our return trip from the moon. Odometer now reads over 430K miles – only 20K left to go!

  • They officially hired me in January, and I’ve since been asked/invited to be a visiting artist/artist-in-residence during their Summer Arts Program for TAG students in the Kershaw County School System. I am turning my attention on preparing for this and am beyond the moon excited!
Source: NASA

*their household consists of her husband, a set of elderly parents, an accomplished adult child with cerebral palsy, and twice weekly babysitting of their spunky 2 year old special needs granddaughter – oh and she and her husband both work by remote from home, too.

Love is a powerful enabler

Life Is In The Doing

I’m just doing the doing. More some days than others. A steady doing of doing that is mostly mindful, often delightful, surprisingly productive and always so very daily.

Hubby and I took on several home improvement projects since buying our little rental home October 2021.

Doing needful maintenance the landlord avoided doing – even when we volunteered to do certain necessary items.

Doing homey stuff the landlord didn’t allow us to do – even if it enhanced aesthetics such as hanging plants on the front porch or planting flower gardens.

Now that we’re homeowners again, we’ve been busy.

TWL on roof Spring 2022
Terry on roof Spring 2022

From power washing the vinyl siding, to cleaning the gutters in the Spring & Fall, to planting/hanging porch plants and garden areas, to sanding, sealing, repainting said porches, stairs & railings, to replacing the crummy kitchen countertops, sink & oven fan/hood, repainting said kitchen, changing out all electrical outlets/switches & updating some electrical issues, to installing new, working ceiling fans/lights in the kitchen, Living Room, Master Bedroom and hubby’s office, to replacing the flimsy flusher pixie toilet in the hall bathroom…and more.

All without breaking the bank or dumping too much money into the place from an investment point of view.

Here are a few snaps of just one of the many projects begun & completed as mentioned above –
before & during prep of the kitchen (notice new hood in last photo):

Who knew we’d ever be able to afford granite in our modest home? When we ordered new counter tops, it was during a small window of time when supply of cheaper laminates were limited and granite actually was only a few hundred dollars more to buy & install!

BTW: this phone video is titled, “Glee over our Granite!”

If you listen closely to this vid, you’ll hear my signature laugh against hubby joking with the sales lady speaking in a typical South Carolina accent.

Kitchen 7
Lookin’ good even before we re-painted the walls (Sherwin Williams ‘Greek Villa’) and installed the new electrical plates/outlets/switches.
FYI: the kitchen is done, but I have no final photos to show here – I’ve been too busy baking & cooking up a storm and making foodie & coffee messes!

I guess we have been busy.

Our lives have certainly been enhanced by the doing.

Plus, we get to enjoy the fruits of our labor and share it with our kiddos over Christmas Holiday this year. Our first time to host (for various reasons) in about 6 years.

Can’t wait!

I Am A Slow…

…Stitcher.

Not as in the current trend of the Slow Stitching Movement but literally.

I Am A Slow Stitcher.

Skillful, yes. Speedy, not so much.

I am a turtle when it comes to making a quilt and/or creating fiber art of any sort. Quickening my pace often results in frustrating mishaps that require more effort and time to fix and undo than when I simply embrace my slow, steady tempo.

Mindful and contemplative sewing is a basic premise of the Slow Stitching Movement. One could say I come by that approach naturally, but truth to tell, nah. I do become completely absorbed with and extremely engaged in all steps within the process. And yes, I do breathe prayers, thoughts and love into the gifted pieces I create.

However – I Am A Slow Stitcher. Period.

In most areas of life, I am nothing if not steadfastly persistent and enthusiastic in the doing of anything – no matter how long it takes – but not necessarily slow or fast about it. Most who know me believe me to be quick witted, a fast learner and an efficient doer. Maybe.

This I do know: I am swift to laugh out loud in a huge guffaw just for the sheer joy in laughing!

Seriously, because I do ‘know thyself (myself)’, I take that time handicap into account whenever I decide to make something soft and comfy and/or display-worthy as a gift.

Which is why when the call for Comfort Quilts for Uvalde, Texas came within days of the senseless slaughter of innocent lives at Robb Elementary School, I knew I couldn’t participate. Even though I really, really wanted to and the desire and pull to participate only grew stronger as the days passed.

These types of reach outs usually have a short window of opportunity to contribute requested items/services to those intended recipients. Which I 100% get and respect.

In this case, my (he)art won out over my head. I decided to begin one small quilt regardless. Just in case.

At that time, I was just beginning to sort through some orphan blocks and excess fabric and realized they would make up into a rather nice 60 x 60 comfort quilt. As I worked on it and got closer to completing it, I reached out to a quilter blogging bud who was acquainted with the contact person and asked: Has the time come and gone for me to actually send this on to Uvalde?

She graciously went to bat for me (and others who had later quilts to donate) and found out my small contribution would be accepted long after the call went out for them. Her diligence enabled me to be a part of this effort. (You know who you are and I am forever grateful!)


Packed 1
August 2, 2022 – packed and ready to go!

Quite selfishly, this was a blessing for me to make on so many levels. I just wish the call to create a “Comfort Quilt” for such a reason wasn’t needed.


May 24th, 2022

…I have been silent here on my website blog…fielding the events of our society’s everyday harsh realities while trying to sort through the maze of staying current without sinking too deep into the pit of despair*...knowing that so many are suffering, hurting…again…

Just 2 days after my last post – Remembering the Children (of the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing in the UK)– there was yet another mass shooting here in the USA focused on children. In school. Defenseless, easy targets here in the land of the free, home of the brave.

I thought about re-posting the photo-quote I’d made, but really – recycled sentiments? For such tender times?

Instead, here is my mini-commentary. While my feelings and thoughts run deep, they aren’t put out there for ‘show’ or ‘grandstanding’. I’m more of a one-on-one communicator when it comes to deeper complex issues. However, I realized I could not move forward without saying something here.

Following the ‘logic’ offered in defense of easy access to firearms/weapons of all sorts as ‘doing things literally as the founding fathers intended’ I posit: where in the world does it say in the second amendment that Assault Weapons/Weapons of War are the ‘arms’ meant for an American’s right to bear?

Possession of an AR-15 is a far cry from Daniel Boone’s hunting for squirrels or raccoons with his trusty shotgun.

Where has the intent to protect ourselves from threatening outsiders become a right to attack, traumatize and kill school children busy learning, socializing, working and playing within their classrooms?

What right does any American have to take away a child’s childhood and future?

Mass shooting attacks outside the context of war or third world regimes are considered uniquely American.

Part of our national character.

A far cry from the founding fathers’ intent, indeed.

* reference: from a scene in The Princess Bride, a lighthearted movie beloved across all generations.

One breezy afternoon in April

One breezy afternoon in April – in the days before it gets too hot and humid…

…hubby and I trekked to the new soccer fields/trails on the outskirts of town to play in the great spacey outdoors

we each took turns taking sneaky photos of each other

…then packed it all up and called it a day!

Wishing us all times like these to refresh our souls and replenish our spirits.

Betwixt & Between my Purple Patch Flights of Fancy

It’s been awhile since I last posted. I have noticed many of the bloggers/musicians/writers/quilters/artists/poets/photographers/aka-everyday people I follow are also more silent than active on their website/blogs these days.

So, I’m in good company. ?

I like how those same blog-buds just post something – whenever – without apologizing for not having posted for a good long time…so in that light, I do likewise in today’s post.

I’d like to add that I appreciate when those same blog-buds give heads up on taking longer breaks from their blog…so in that light I will do likewise, whenever that time comes.

Fact is, I’m in a Purple Patch. That’s a cool term I learned from Andy, my Manc Poet Bud. It essentially means – I’m on a creative roll!

This is a good thing.

My Purple Patch feels like I can fly like a butterfly!

I’m also juggling & planning some ‘normal’ life stuff betwixt and between (aha – notice another Brit phrase?) my Purple Patch Flights of Fancy.

This is also a good thing.

Because…

It includes an In Person, Face-to-Face, Thanksgiving Family Feast this year!

Yippee! Dance of Joy!

For the record, the youngsters and their respective significant others are all double vaxxed, me and hubby are triple vaxxed and we’re all ready to mix and mingle, give thanks and celebrate.

In addition, we’ll all be meeting our ‘almost-daughter-in-law’ for the very first time in person.

And, don’t you know, she’ll be in good company. ?

« Older posts

© 2024 Laura Bruno Lilly

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑