The road ends, but the journey continues...

Tag: writers as readers (Page 1 of 3)

My Target Treats are out of Quarantine

The official closing down of ‘non-essential’ services and stores is in a confused, motley disarray here in South Carolina. There is no real rhyme or reason as to what is considered essential or non-essential – case in point, until last week hair salons were still open and truth be told, hubby has seen several still open while doing drives to check on parking lot volume of customers in area grocery stores. Kind of a no-brainer that maintaining social distancing and performing haircuts with gloves and mask for both hairstylist and customer isn’t an easy way to stay open and provide services, much less provide a safe environment. But hey, what do I know?
And let’s not even get into the phrasing of our governor’s official COVID-19 orders* submitted just last week: “Stay at Home. Stay at Work.” When asked by a reporter what that meant exactly, he replied that if you’re at home, stay there and if you’re at work, stay there…say what? Oh and in continuing to clarify, he added that whatever was open before is open now and whatever was closed before is closed now.
That, dear readers, is Governor McMaster’s version of a ‘shelter-in-place’ order while not exactly being a ‘shelter-in-place’ order. Welcome to South Carolina…
Anyway, back in March, certain retail & grocery stores began announcing special COVID-19 shopping hours for Seniors and people with special health needs. We’ve incorporated our immediate buying around those times as much as possible with extra trips to the grocery store as needed during low volume times.
In addition, I now make a point of visiting our local Target Store during their special Senior Hours: Wednesday from 8AM-9AM each week because

  1. The specially designated hours are user-friendly
  2. The brick & mortar store offers up a sense of leisurely ‘window’ shopping for ‘non-essential’ items while in a relatively protected environment

In other words, I go there for a fun outing during this period of self-isolating while showing off my stylish homemade face mask at one and the same time. 🙂
This week, I scored a pair of Sketchers that were sorely needed. I tend to use up my running/athletic shoes until they no longer can stand up to my demanding version of wear and tear, and my current pair were way beyond ‘making do’.
As I passed by the shoe section, I noticed boxes of women’s athletic shoes scattered along a sparsely filled shelf. With nary a try-on bench in sight (they have been removed in an effort to minimize virus transmission), I plopped down on the floor. Surrounded by shoes of varying sizes and styles I promptly focused on the matter at hand.
Happy with my score, I then ventured over to the book/media section and browsed. Amazon states on their website an inability to guarantee a timely, if ever, delivery of a non-essential item such as a book to read during isolation, so I decided to find something of interest. Oh, I know, there are lots of offerings via the library’s on-line books, but my eyes are getting way overloaded with screen viewing these days and besides, I really do relish the feel of a book in my hands while hunkering down in isolation.
Lucky me, I scored another find – a book I’ve been wanting to read, but never got around to until now (you guys all know the drill on that!) – Becoming by Michelle Obama. At 30% off cover price, I also got a small discount for the immediate gratification of bringing my copy home same day of purchase!
When I returned home from my magnificent morning outing, I placed both purchases in the quarantine corner of the kitchen floor to await release in a few days.
Today both items were released from quarantine. I laced up those new Sketchers for my daily walk this morning and Ms Obama’s book is ready to be opened this evening for my before-bedtime reading.
Yes, it’s the small things in life during coronavirus that help us to make it through each day.
* A 12 page document that lists the details of the actual order starting on page 6

Ray's Zen

One hot, humid evening, late last summer, I scrounged the few books I had left on my bookshelves (in my passive-packing,* some of the first items to be packed were ‘books I can do without for now’). I spied my paperback copy of Ray Bradbury’s, Zen in the Art of Writing, and promptly plucked it from the shelf. Thumbing through the pages, I realized its time had come for a re-read.
A compilation of essays Mr. Bradbury wrote at various times about creativity and the act of creating, this is a book I picked up in the late 90’s and wrote on the title page “…deciding to write notes in the margins of this book…3/2000.” How cool to do a re-read with my own ‘notes’ alongside this book as well.
Before beginning my re-read, I skimmed through the various essays and noticed those handwritten notes ended after the essay titled, Just This Side of Byzantium: Dandelion Wine. I don’t remember why I stopped there but I do know that those ‘notes’ were written during a very dynamic time in my life. Perhaps quitting there was more an indication of satisfaction in what I had already read, or maybe just that I had reached the essay which discussed my favorite novel of his, Dandelion Wine.
No matter.
I do know that I whenever I read such essays I substitute any specific genre of the arts reference with my catch-all word, (he)art. In this case from Ray’s point of view, writer is replaced in my reading mind with, (he)artist.
Here’s a quote from the first few pages of this compilation of essays with my replacement word inserted after the slash.

 “…if you are a writer/(he)artist without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer/(he)artist.…How long has it been since you wrote a story where your real love or your real hatred somehow got onto the paper? When was the last time you dared release a cherished prejudice so it slammed the page like a lightning bolt? What are the best things and the worst things in your life, and when are you going to get around to whispering or shouting them?”
~Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

Life seems more complicated now with social media spouting out meanness in the name of ‘passion’, but (he)art is (he)art – a very different thing altogether.
Ray’s admonition must not be ignored by us creationists (interesting use of that word,no?)
…regardless of what the twitterers are twittering about!

Use your gift, (he)artists!

*update forthcoming on hold until after COVID-19 plays out?

Snips, Snaps and Soggy Bottom Pie

Catchy title, eh? It’s been rolling around in my head as a title for a poem since 2015.
The alliteration, associated visuals, meanings and rhythmic feel just lends itself to something more creative than yet another blog post. I mean, speak this out loud: snips, snaps and soggy bottom pie.
Like I said, the perfect set-up for something more to follow than just another blog post. I think four years of this title sitting in a Word file of ideas for poems is long enough. It needs to see the light of day.
Which brings us to this day.
Notice that what follows is not a poem – more like a framework of thoughts prompted by said title. Which is handy as I’ve come against a brick wall lately trying to sort through the myriad current events and life events crowding my mind all screaming for first place in being presented in ‘yet another blog post’.
I’m sure most bloggers squash up against that brick wall every once and awhile. It’s one of the commonalities we bloggers share.
I therefore choose to start with Soggy Bottom Pie as the first smack down of that formidable barricade.

Soggy Bottom Pie

My current favorite PBS series, The Great British Baking Show aka The Great British Bake Off in the UK, is rich in such ‘show stopping’ images. (Yep, pun intended, for those of you familiar with the show).
Can’t you just hear Mary Berry intone, “It mustn’t have a soggy bottom,” as she pokes and prods a contestant’s pastry crust in the pie baking ‘Technical Challenge’?

cherry pie a la mode

I like mine with 2 scoops of the creamiest French Vanilla Bean ice cream available!


Truth be told, I am partial to a good homemade pie with, yes, a slightly soggy bottom. Sensuously luscious when the à la mode melts deep underneath the crust, bathing the jammy juices within.
My favorite pie is cherry. My extra favorite is a cherry pie made with Montmorency cherries picked from our own backyard tree*…seems like centuries ago when our kids and the neighborhood kids all helped pick once the harvest was in full swing.

What’s your favorite soggy bottom pie?
What’s your favorite reason why?

Snaps

“Contrary to popular belief, I am a snapdragon…” snapdragonsThus began a post I wrote in 2014. Based upon a now defunct ‘What Kind of Flower Are You?’ internet quiz, it was a fun foray into matching flower personalities with us humans. Or should that be human personalities with flowers?
I came out a snapdragon 8 takes in a row – even though I’m more partial to giant purple irises, deep red orange poppies, daisies and milkweed blossoms. I learned that my cousin Marybeth and blogger friend Deborah (christened ‘flower-sister’) both came up snaps in the quiz. We three are also October babies. Connection?

Snappy, flappy, flower laughing lips.
Caring, sharing, dreamy dew-drop drips.

Snips

Come a Stranger by Cynthia Voigt coverI do relish reading books and finding passages float up from the page past my eyes and into my (he)art. When that happens, I often mark it with a sticky note, reread it later, then if it still resonates, hand copy it into my book of quotes – or snip(pet)s if you will.
I often find lovely prose in young adult novels. Here’s one from Come a Stranger I jotted down 4/15/07.

“Even after everyone had gone home, the house was filled with the good time they’d had, as if it could linger in the air like the voices and music lingered in memory. Mina wrapped the memory up and put it in her heart; there was a quiet gladness, deep like a tree and tall in her.” Cynthia Voigt

 

 A tisket, a snip(pet)
A green and yellow kismet.
~~~

 Snips, Snaps and Soggy Bottom Pie

What comes to your mind as this phrase echoes about?

*we’ve since moved from our ‘growing-a-family-and-garden’ home…sigh.

ToDoTuesdayTwo

Even though I feel like there’s not much to report, I’m chiming in on this week’s linky-party for the sake of continuity. And, remember, Roseanne at Home Sewn by Us who sponsors this says it’s okay however I decide to participate!

~~~

My creativity trinity* is as follows: fiber art – MUSIC – writing. Each is intertwined with the other, offering needful respites between projects which in turn aid in the completion of various Works-In-Progress as new perspectives appear from such respites. Ultimately, it’s all about the music but tracking fiber art Works-In-Progress is lots easier to communicate in such a setting as this and hence the linky-party connection.

My goals for the week from August 20th through August 26th:

  • Continue edits on various NOTION scores  – “Christmas Medley” almost finished and soon to move onto another score-edit
  • Finish PFWHK Ø – decidedly not finished!
  • Maybe have something to post on next week’s ToDo Tuesday linky party  – today’s posting is evidence of this!

Yes, I worked on NOTION score edits for the “Christmas Medley” piece and realized I needed to de-clutter the score by 80% of previously inserted information. There is a delicate balance in music scoring between suggested fingerings and performance directions and OCD control of the performers every interpretation of the musical score. The fact that I de-cluttered a slew of fingerings shows I am closer to completion than before. In fact, with this particular piece, I have only to recheck for notation mistakes (think of this as being like ‘spell-checking’ the score) and add the fun stuff like title, arranger/name, date, copyright and dedication (if so choose to do). Then it is done and onto another piece to score-edit.
The PFWHK is not finished. Duh. In fact, as I continued with the vertical machine quilting, I found myself making dumb mistakes. So, I wisely decided to quit while I was ahead. Meaning: I did a few lines of reverse-sewing and set the PFWHK aside for another day/week. The interesting thing of note here is that the reverse-sewing (okay, seam-stitch ripping out!) went smoothly and left absolutely no small holes in the fabric top or back. I think that is due to two things: 1- the quality of the fabric itself and 2- the use of fine 60 wt thread in the bobbin.

~~~~

ToDo for the week of August 27th through September 3rd:

  • Finish “Christmas Medley” and start another NOTION score-edit piece
  • Finish PFWHK vertical quilting, start 3-D portion of project, figure out something special to add to PF’s eye (button, sequins?)
  • Enjoy a time to snuggle down and read newest novel(s)
  • If it’s cool enough (big IF), share some porch-time with hubby and a glass of Chardonnay (me), Beaujolais (him)
’Home

 
* a term I invented recently

Poetry Shoutout: “In Brigantia” by Andrew James Murray

In Brigantia by Andrew James MurrayGood poetry meets you wherever you are then draws you into its world. Seamlessly weaving place, perception; revelation, inspiration. Touching both the mind and soul.

The poetry of Andrew James Murray does just that and his second published poetry collection, In Brigantia does not disappoint.

~~~

I prefer reading poetry in the deep of night, the early recesses of morning. I like to take my time and linger, savoring each line and nuanced word choice within the context of the whole of the poem.
Yes, I flip through a new volume upon first receipt, even skim a few lines, but ultimately, the hunkering down with a new collection of poetry is an anticipated event – date – I make with myself for some dark day, quiet evening or womb-like twilight.

~~ Phrases to savor ~~

“From this soil,
seeded with the dead,
beautiful things will grow” (from: In Brigantia)

“Our country is too small
for road trips.

There is nothing epic
about these squeezed shores.
Where are we to go
to find ourselves?” (from: Motorway)

“A dog barks itself
into tomorrow,
clawing back the shade.” (from: Nocturnes)

~~Regarding process~~

“Some lines come to me when travelling, such as with Railway Platform.
We passed through a station (without stopping) which, due to rain sweeping in, appeared abandoned, except for a guitar case no doubt left by its owner who was seeking shelter while waiting for his/her train.
I was thinking about how platforms are normally busy places of greetings and farewells, and maybe some of those could, somehow, be held in the atmosphere and tapped into to work as inspiration to creative people. Like the owner of that guitar case.
Like seeds growing in darkness.
That’s how my mind works! And that’s how that poem was born before we’d reached the next station.” – Andrew James Murray

~~~

In Brigantia can be found at Amazon and Amazon UK

~~~

Andrew James Murray, Manchester UKAndrew James Murray is a writer and poet who is still firmly rooted in his childhood town in Manchester, England.
He has a wife who keeps him grounded, and four children who keep him young.
Among other things, he loves history and roots, books and writing, spirituality, landscape, music and the outdoors-all of which he can become a tad obsessive about.
He also tracks Great White sharks throughout the world over the internet, much to his wife’s consternation.
He can be found writing about anything and nothing over at City Jackdaw and at Coronets for Ghosts for all things poetry related.
Andrew is currently working on his first novel.

Specialty Feet

Soon after the first two weeks of my convalescence I set up what my sorella-amica Lisa called a ‘sewing sanctuary’ – a working layout that is user friendly for one such as I with ‘Specialty Feet’. I scrunched down the ironing board, placed it in between my desk and sewing machine and scooter around from station to station on my desk chair. Using the desk as my cutting table area, everything is amazingly manageable – at least in context of smaller projects. While I can (and do with blessings from the Doc) clomp happily around from place to place while in the boot, merely standing on my foot for no good reason is a no-no.

sewing sanctuary set up

My sewing sanctuary set up. Yeah, it’s a mess, but it works!


That same aforementioned sorella-amica challenged me to dig out the 2018 Row-by-Row quilt block kit we each purchased while visiting the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum last summer. Well, she didn’t out and out challenge me, but she texted me a photo of her completed block a few days before my surgery saying it was easy-peasy…except that the tiny flying geese border strips were a bit of a pain.
Who could resist that passive challenge? Not me.
Well, I stalled out at the sewing of the second half of those tiny flying geese blocks…ick, Too tedious and yes, tiny.
Tiny Flying Geese Construction

My ‘Specialty Feet’ resting while working on those tiny flying geese!


sewing machine accessory bible book coverNo matter, those circumstances pushed me to ferret out an excellent book I bought recently on specialty feet for the sewing machine and how to use them in various contexts.
(I bet you thought this post was only about my literal foot situation…HA! Fooled you.)
The Sewing Machine Accessory Bible by Wendy Gardiner & Lorna Knight is packed with information and advice on types of needles to use, size of thread, fabric idiosyncrasies and creative exploration of the assorted ‘Specialty Feet’.
This hands-on application on my Bernina is something I’ve dabbled in from time to time but never really got into as it took time away from my regular piecing and quilting projects. Now that I’m stuck at home* flittering between seated diversions**, I figured, why not go through this ‘get the most out of your machine – from using basic feet to mastering specialty feet’ book now?
wounded warriors specialty feetI can’t help but end this post with a slice of perspective…I will get out of the boot, I will resume my vigorous hiking in the mountains when we get back to where there are such places to hike, I will be able to wear sandals with my woman’s feet showing (even though I still maintain feet are pretty ugly under all circumstances!)…but for the many Wounded Warriors among us, their ‘Specialty Feet’ are permanent. Yes, enabling them more normal physical activities, but still composed of foreign materials and requiring new ways of thinking in their everyday usage.
 

“The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.” Habakkuk 3:19

 
* not entirely true, I get out and about, just can’t drive myself yet – plus I tire easily!
**I am currently in the middle of season 3 of Call the Midwife (I so love this series, especially as it’s based upon the true-life stories of the main character), season 7 part two of Dr. Who (after a so-so season 6, I am sooooo into The Doctor once again!) I am also going through stacks of reading material – some books by indie-authors, some craft, some contemporary novels, assorted magazines and ‘comfort’ novels I re-read on a regular basis. Then there’s the more business-like stuff I can’t escape because I am supposed to remain more sedentary than active: transferring files to my new computer, reinstalling NOTION sound bundles and the seemingly never ending edits, layout issues, etc for my Swimming with Swans project.

Seed Quote, by Hope Jahren

Quote symbolA seed knows how to wait.

Most seeds wait for at least a year before starting to grow; a cherry seed can wait for a hundred years with no problem. What exactly each seed is waiting for is known only to that seed…

A seed is alive while it waits.

Every acorn on the ground is just as alive as the three-hundred-year-old oak tree that towers over it…they are both just waiting…the seed is waiting to flourish while the tree is only waiting to die.

When you are in the forest, for every tree that you see, there are at least a hundred trees waiting in the soil, alive and fervently wishing to be.

Each beginning is the end of a waiting.

We are each given exactly one chance to be. Each of us is both impossible and inevitable. Every replete tree was first a seed that waited.

From: Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren

Shout Out: "Just a Rose" by Colin Chappell

Orange Rose from Ma & Dad's Garden 2016

Orange Rose from Ma & Dad’s Garden 2016


When I first heard this poem, my mind immediately flashed on a photo I took during my Summer of Dad – that of a lone rose thriving in the midst of Ma & Dad’s overgrown and neglected garden.

“…for my blooms have served a purpose…”

 
From Just Thinking a collection of “little writings which may produce some little thoughts” here is Colin Chappell reading his poem, Just a Rose.

Note: All proceeds from book sales will be directed to Colin’s daughter who was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2007. She is still fighting, but the treatment programs have taken their toll and she is unable to hold down a paying job for a variety of reasons. She is therefore dependent on benefits from her disability provider…She uses her time to volunteer for non-profit organizations, and has been involved in giving some dignity to the women who are living on the streets in Vancouver’s downtown East-side…She has also written a number of poems, two of which are included in the book!

And The Winner Is…

“Admit it. You tuned in to see who won a copy of “What I Wish I Could Tell You.”  Well, I’ll get to that right after this…”

Thus begins a typical winner revealing post from the blog of L.Marie with my own book offering inserted into the original text.  That great opening line is in fact taken from one of my favorite posts of hers called “Wall-to-Wall People.”   It is a fine example of how easily she articulates thoughts I am only able to think. Continue reading

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