Refine and Design 2016, Week Thirteen

March 25

Creativity: Writing

Gratitude: Saddened to hear of Earl Hamner’s death yesterday, but grateful to have known him and shared a hometown, a birthday (though 40 years apart), and a love of simplicity, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. And a love of words. In case you don’t know who he was, he was the creator of the television series The Waltons, among other series, and a wonderful writer.

Joy: A short but sweet surprise visit from my godchildren

Awareness: The trees gently sway their bodies and wave their fingers to the clouds saying, “Come on, we’re thirsty.” The grey clouds move over the cotton puffs and across the expanse of denim sky as if they are slowly reaching out to the beckoning limbs while deciding if they care to share. And then the sun pops out as if to say the joke is on them. Perhaps it will rain in the sunshine and give us a rainbow.


March 26

Creativity: writing, photography, lots of macro

Gratitude: The Scenic Route

Joy: Hike along the Pedlar river to Panther Falls

Awareness: I sit on a large rock above the falls. An eddy forms a cluster of ever expanding foam that drifts along a gorge in a boulder. The water waves and ripples as it rolls over, around, and beneath rocks and limbs. The river hums, whistles, sloshes, and roars. I close my eyes and listen to her sing her way home.


March 27

Creativity: photography, lots of macro

Gratitude: my husband taking care of some things for my mother

Joy: Laughing with my sister and mother, coming back in town to a manicured lawn courtesy of Oldest

Awareness: Beautiful Flowering and Budding Trees of Spring – Whites, lavender, purple, pink, scarlet, yellow, and various shades of green applaud us as we drive by. Redbuds are adorned in a million tiny amethysts while the red oak is dressed in rubies. A huge red oak appeared to be cloaked in tiny scarlet birds lifting their wings to flight. Bradford pears danced in sweaters of snow while the apple and cherry trees wore lacy pink layers. All the trees in their various shades of green buds rose to wave their jeweled fingers at all who passed their way.

March 28

Creativity: writing

Gratitude: a light day

Joy: Not getting bonked in the head by any flying pinecones while in the backyard…love windy days

Awareness: As enjoyable as it is to open a window to feel the breeze and listen to the singing birds, it comes with a price…a coat of yellow pollen throughout the room, a bit of sneezing, and building of a headache…oh, how I wish I didn’t have allergies because dusting is worth the ambiance of nature, but a headache isn’t.

March 29

Creativity: writing

Gratitude: finally had time to start this month’s book club selection “Euphoria” by Lily King

Joy: phone call with Youngest

Awareness: The lone crow strutted up and down the road pecking in last night’s rain. The early sun glossed brightly against his back, feathers shining an iridescent blue. He straightened his neck and tilted his head back as he swallowed and followed with a caw caw both front and back as if to ward off anyone cutting in on his buffet.

March 30

Creativity: drawing

Gratitude: Feeling healthy and energetic, managed to get in a good workout

Joy: Got off work two and a half hours early which enabled me to shop for a wedding and birthday gift and do my grocery shopping. This means I’ve freed my Saturday morning!

Awareness: The aroma of coffee permeates the air as I watch the steam rise from my mug. The rings on the shower curtain scrape against the rod. Feet thud across the floor above me as the birds chirp in the still dark morning. I pop a fresh raspberry in my mouth and the sweetness fills my soul. It is a blessed morning.

March 31

Creativity: writing

Gratitude: arrival of another squirrel buster bird feeder…no they don’t keep out the squirrels completely but I don’t have to refill daily

Joy: The cool rush of stepping barefoot into the early morning dew-soaked grass

Awareness: Breakfast Berries: My tongue pushes the raspberry against the roof of my mouth and the melody spreads. Blackberries squirt as the tiny seeds pop between my teeth, adding more sweet notes to the chorus. Strawberries break up with a tartness to liven up the ensemble. Fruit in the morning is incredibly refreshing.

Define and Design 2016,Week Twelve

Life sways, tangles, and straightens…and repeats itself. It’s called living.


March 18

Creativity: Writing

Gratitude: comfort of home

Joy: Dinner out with the hubby and drinks with friends while listening to a great band.

Awareness: The wind chimes gently pinged with the melody of distant church bells.

March 19

Creativity: Art Quilting (entertaining color values, cutting, and sewing)

Gratitude: An entire day to do absolutely anything I wanted

Joy: Fabric shopping for an art panel, watching “The Prince of Tides” with the hubby

Awareness: Colors of Spring: Branches draped in lace, scarlet splattered across treetops, trees dipped in lavender paint. On the ground I spotted little Martians wearing yellow bonnets marching through the yard. They were surrounding ladies dressed in brilliant blue gowns and others in lilac, fuchsia, and pearl. The wind was whipping at their heels and heads, but the spring gala was decorated and in full swing.

March 20

Creativity: writing, art quilting (applique, drawing, sewing, and embroidery)

Gratitude: coffee already made when I got up, drizzling weather and good books waiting to be read

Joy: watching  videos with the hubby that were produced by a good friend

Awareness: Funny (but not really) how when one decides to monitor eating habits and cut back, the mind takes over and wants so much more! I quieted my mind and allowed myself to feel the sensations of my body…not really hungry, just a mind demanding control of my body and senses…

March 21

Creativity: writing, art panel

Gratitude: Amazon Prime…orders delivered to my door, bliss! Earplugs, bliss again! And watermelon.

Joy: Free motion machine stitching isn’t for sissies! Now, how is that a joy? It gives me appreciation for hand embroidery which I love, and tells me I need lots of practice which gives me a challenge. This panel might end up most interesting, ha! Free motion stitching is exhilarating, I’ll give it that. It’s been many years since I’ve played with it.

Awareness: I’m reminded today of those tiny ideas that nag and nudge at you…you know, the ones that are persistent little buggers. They continue to gnaw at you because your soul is trying to tell you something. I think it’s telling me it will continue to pester me no matter how much I ignore it so I might as well get on with it!

March 22

Creativity: Hand embroidery and beading

Gratitude: No broken bones, took a hard fall and landed on my hip and elbow…don’t ask, have no idea how it happened

Joy: An unexpected note from a friend who hadn’t heard from me recently.

Awareness: On the sofa reading and it’s still light outside…I so welcome the longer daylight. I notice how once again I am hearing lawn mowers mixed with pinging of wind chimes and chirping of birds. I look outside to see a grey mesh spread across the blue sky. A pink contrail runs through it. A soft layer of tangerine rests behind the lower tree branches as the sun says goodbye.

March 23

Creativity: drawing

Gratitude: easy return for wrong item shipped to me…they pick up, yay!

Joy: a short visit with a friend

Awareness: Today has been stressful. I leaned back in my chair and let it melt away as I closed my eyes and listened to the hums of life around me…my computer, the fridge, airplanes, motor traffic, my breath; the highs and lows, the gruff and shrill…the melody of life is a beautiful thing. I needed a reminder.

March 24

Creativity: designing a quilt, baking homemade strawberry cupcakes with homemade icing, writing

Gratitude:  Convenience of city life…being able to get where I need in a matter of minutes, this is not to say I don’t enjoy fleeing  to the country for a weekend of pure simplicity.

Joy: quiet time on the backyard swing with a glass of wine at the end of a work day

Awareness: Early Morning Cotton Candy Sky: The trees blended with the sky into a charcoal blanket. An amber illumination rose from behind the tree trunks radiating the many outstretched arms and finger reaching for the heavens.  A layer of rose pushed the amber higher. Below pink petals the blue sky peeped through before another tier of blush made an appearance. For a few minutes the limbs against the sky appeared to be fingers swiping a taste of cotton candy. In case you don’t know, cotton candy is my oldest all time indulgence…

Define and Design 2016, Week Eleven

Azalea Bloom

Week Eleven

March 11

Creativity: daydreaming was the extent of my creativity today

Gratitude: I was able to rest in bed all day and heal (Yes, I got that nasty virus!)

Joy: a neighbor who brought me saltines and bananas…the only thing I could keep in my body

Awareness: Amazed how heavy my legs grew at the increased necessity of my rising from bed…incredibly surprised at the noise in my neighborhood during the day. In noise I mean the business of life; the singing cardinals, foraging squirrels, barking dogs, laughter of playing children, and hum of vehicles on the street. I suppose the noise of the day inside my house usually has me unaware of the average day noise outside. It was a rare daytime occurrence for my house to be quieter than my yard.

March 12

Creativity: I did a bit of preplanning some future projects

Gratitude: I felt half alive after getting a hot shower

Joy: I was able to eat and contain a bowl of chicken noodle soup

Awareness: While being sick the dog has been excessively vigilant of neighborhood activity and has kept her eye on me, and the cat has been a constant companion for snuggles. I think animals sense when their family is off balance and tries in their own way to do their part to comfort or restore familiarity.

March 13

Creativity: Writing

Gratitude: another day of peace and rest

Joy: Reading “The Prince of Tides”. This is thoroughly enjoyable. I usually don’t enjoy books that interrupt story with beautiful prose (poetic writing), but the story is enthralling and writing style places you in the setting and makes you love the South Carolina marshes as much as the characters. Most books like this I’d classify as literary novels, but not this one; while it is character driven it has many story lines covering many years. I’ve never seen the movie, but I want to now. Not to be disappointed but to see how all of it could actually be included or to see what was chosen to be excluded as I find all of the links necessary at this time.

Awareness: Listening to the rain playing music on the roof. It started suddenly, hard and fast and slowed for a while and sped up again. The song ended and started again in reverse order, or so it seemed. With closed eyes I allowed the melody to wash over my soul, absorbing it like the parched ground outside my door.

March 14

Creativity: Writing and art quilting

Gratitude: Pleased I was able to ride the elliptical today, even if it took me almost ten minutes to do two miles. At least, it’s a start. And I am able to eat today. I’ve missed real food!

Joy: Book club(we have lots of laughs in that group) and purchasing the new Flow magazine and a few other art mags

Awareness: The gardener’s grey cloak hangs over the neighborhood as the hungry robins peck at the damp ground in search for breakfast worms. The air pulses with the chirps and tweets of birdsong while a lone cardinal, bright as a begonia, flits between the gate post and the tallest limb of my neighbor’s overgrown hedge and sings a welcome to the day. A mourning dove in her taupe suite and rotund vest of pearls sits a spell on the gate while she assesses the yard activities. A squirrel, tail puffed out like a parachute, glides from pine to pine. Amethysts and opals rest upon the garden’s emeralds while searching for their friend, the sun.

March 15

Creativity: Writing and perusing art magazines

Gratitude: Ability to throw a quick dinner together

Joy: Running into an old friend and picking up where we left off

Awareness: Feather in the Bush – It was stretched across a leaf on the Azalea as if it was sunbathing. The tiny tendrils fluttered like dandelion fluff while the brown feather tip held together, strong as an otter’s tail. In case you’re wondering, it appears to be an owl feather.

Feather in the bush

March 16

Creativity: Writing

Gratitude: Television sitcom reruns…pulled my back out this am so not able to do much

Joy: unable to attend writing group due to back injury I found the joy in a purring feline who felt it her duty to stretch across me as a vibrating heating pad

Awareness: Rising of Dawn on a Foggy Morning – A dark curtain suspended in the air; no separation of heaven and earth. Slowly silver ghosts floated through the thick trunks of the tall pines and created the appearance of large chalk-smudged finger paths down a colossal black board.

March 17

Creativity: writing

Gratitude: Ibuprofen, with it I’m functional

Joy: My neighborhood…a terrific yearly St. Paddy’s Day party but I don’t feel like going…I can still enjoy the music of the band and bagpiper and laughter of frolicking party goers.

Awareness: Crows caw in the distance. There must be a dozen different bird calls and songs dancing through the sunny air. I’m writing with an open window by my desk, and I smile. I look out the window hoping to see some cardinals. With all the chatter going on I’m surprised not to spy a single bird. It’s like a bird city in the trees!

Define and Design 2016, Week Ten

Wiggins Spring Road

Week Ten

March 4

Creativity: Baking and designing

Gratitude: I have been seeking direction on which way to head or looking for timing and questioning myself. I love it when the answers fall into place.

Joy: A last minute escape to the mountains

Awareness: As we were driving along the dark curvy roads I found myself leaning into the curves. I commented it being a natural phenomenon or common tendency. The husband says it’s learned, something people who ride motorcycles and ATVs or race do. What say you? Do you do this? I did ride motorcycles when I was younger and still love the feel of air in my face and against my back on an ATV.

owl 1

March 5

Creativity: Photography

Gratitude: timing…got in all we planned for the day and more!

Joy: Being able to celebrate (a day late) with my MIL for her 84th birthday, hiking

Awareness: This day was a gift in many ways, but I will only highlight a few moments of our hike. We were heading to a tower to take sunset pictures. As we headed up the mountain, we began to spot patches of snow here and there throughout the woods before we knew it we reached the height of the mountain with a few inches of snow on the ground…beautiful and untouched by human feet. We veered that way rather than following the people to the tower. As we crossed one meadow to follow a path to another we listened to the calls of a great horned owl, “who who who cooks for you?”  Suddenly a huge wing span (we weren’t sure what bird it belonged to then) flew over us and landed in a nearby tree. It was a barred owl. We stood and watched in awe (and took pictures of course) as he opened and closed his eyes and turned his head around watching whatever he heard and snoozing in between. DirtMan moved within twenty feet of him for some close up photography. The shots are amazing. We couldn’t believe we got so close to him. It was a humbling few minutes. He was gigantic and his speckled wings, ringed eyes, and triangular nose were amazingly beautiful. As we left him we came upon the first spring we had to leap over. We arrived at the headwaters where it ran directly out of the hillside and followed a rocky trail to another creek. As we were walking we heard a rush and looked up to see a dozen or so white tails slicing through the air against the bank of a snowy mountainside…yes, deer! In the meantime, the sky was doing amazing things. Clouds were transforming into magenta and purple against the darkening horizon.  The low light of the sun lit the grasses and tree trunks into a magical wonderland. As we were waylaid with all these natural gifts we didn’t make it to the tower for sunset….and it was so worth the miss.

owl 2

March 6

Creativity: Writing

Gratitude: A day with my mom and sister, lots of laughter

Joy:  Uploading the photos from my camera to find great results with my new lens, better than the last outing

Awareness: The change in attitude of the cat after being away for a few days. Her nonchalant demeanor changes to one of adoration, can’t get enough of me!

March 7

Creativity: Writing

Gratitude: Realized I’d let my CPR and First Aid Certification lapse and was able to enroll in a class for this Saturday.

Joy:  Being able to go to bed early when I am tired.

Awareness: I feel the air travel in and out of my body. I wave my hand in front of my face and I feel the air sweep across my cheek. The air and I and are friends. While I often step outside my box this days. I’ve chosen this moment to step back into the box of my body, this frame in which I exist. I seek the safety of my interior. I glance at the four walls of the box of my house that surrounds me, and I continue to inhale and exhale. There are times all I want to do is breathe and feel safe.

March 8

Creativity: drawing

Gratitude: I am able to work from home, and it is a comfort to me.

Joy: Energy! I have more energy today than I’ve had in over a week…time to dance…even if people are looking, ha!

Awareness: The cat is sitting in the window with the early morning sun filtering, casting her shadow upon the sofa where I am sitting. I watch her shadow puppet show. I glance between the cat and her shadow to realize though her shadow mocks her, I can’t see all of her movements. Therefore, what I think she’s doing and what she’s really doing are not necessarily the same. How often do we think we know what others are up to, or how often are we accused of doing something we aren’t. Perception is an interesting theory.

March 9

Creativity: Writing

Gratitude: I have a hard working husband and both of our sons have his work ethics.

Joy: Reading

Awareness: When I am extremely tired the darkness envelops me like a warm, fuzzy blanket….no thoughts, just simple comfort as I melt into my being.

March 10

Creativity: Concocting essential oil blends to clean hard surfaces and carpet, gentle enough to be used around children and strong enough to kill the vomiting virus (Norovirus?)

Gratitude: After cleaning multiple times (after each vomit case until infected child left and then the next) after they all went home, I deep cleaned my carpet and recleaned all hard surfaces and every single toy, and did multiple loads of hot laundry items…the gratitude is not in the contagious atmosphere but that my house it clean and the disinfecting I needed to do is complete…and now, I’m drinking a glass of wine and praying I don’t come down with it or the other children…don’t want a repeat tomorrow!

Joy: My work day has ended and I’m going to call this an early night.

Awareness: Super clean, well-worn hands shine as nicely as freshly polished cherry furniture.
Sorry, but that’s all I got at this point unless you want me to describe how I feel or things look as I finish this glass of well deserved wine!

Hog Camp Gap

Hope you enjoyed these photographs by DirtMan.

Define and Design 2016, Week Nine

Mother's Day weekend 2012 028

February 26

Creativity: writing and drawing

Gratitude: Even though my day didn’t go quite as planned I still accomplished what I needed

Joy: dinner and drinks out with DirtMan and Oldest

Awareness: At ten months old she decides she is ready. She steadies herself and lets go of the chair. She carefully places one foot in front of the other with her arms stretched in front of her…one, two…all the way to seven step and then she steps onto a toy and tumbles to the carpet. She crawls to the book case and pulls up. She looks around and lets go. One step..tumble. Pulls back up…seven steps…she falls. Over and over she does this all afternoon. She doesn’t give up. She’s my little hero. I think there’s a lesson in this for me.

February 27

Creativity: watched some applique videos

Gratitude: lots accomplished early in the morning

Joy: a day with my friend at the quilt show

Awareness: Tired, stiff bones seem much heavier than normal.

February 28

Creativity: Photography

Gratitude: started cleaning up the yard debris and made a small dent in the mess, delivery pizza

Joy: a beach hike and nice weather, 70 degrees!

Awareness: I could taste, smell, and feel the sea salt in the air as the waves crashed upon the shore. The wind whipped across the water, tangled my hair, and tugged at my shirt. White caps rode the surf, bubbles clinging to sand until either the sea called them back or the grit ate them.  Seagulls quickly scouted to see if the sea had sent treats. The sun looked down in admiration.

February 29

Creativity: drawing

Gratitude: was able to get in two of three needed errands at the end of the day

Joy: 75 degrees and sitting in my backyard swing listening to birds, squirrels, dogs, and playful children.

Awareness: Some days I have to remind myself to breathe…I know it’s automatic, but purposeful breathing helps maintain my inner peace while chaos ensues around me. I can only control my own actions/reactions and there I times I forget this.

March 1

Creativity: writing and quilting

Gratitude: morning walk, did my civic duty of voting

Joy: an hour of early morning quiet time, surprise text from goddaughter saying “I love you so much”

Awareness: Walking in the brisk morning air while a cloak of darkness still lingered and most of the world was fast asleep, the cardinals serenaded the hope of morning and the sparrows’ shrill call joined the invitation.

March 2

Creativity: crazy quilt videos

Gratitude: light at the end of the tunnel…a long hard day is over…and I’m still somewhat sane, ha!

Joy: Love. When all else fails there is love.

Awareness: Everything comes down to choices…usually between acting and reacting. There are times all I can do is breathe. Today was one of those day.

March 3

Creativity: working on design for art quilt panel series, drawing, and writing

Gratitude: My mother was only slightly bruised and banged when she took a tumble, less serious than the last fall.

Joy: The abundance of back yard feathered friends, lots of cardinals and robins.  Found something I’d been looking for all week…I’d apparently tucked it away in a “safe place”, ha!

Awareness:  Air traffic is unusually active tonight. And loud. Sounds like a gigantic vacuum cleaner sweeping through the sky over my house. I almost miss the sounds of the boulevard traffic. Even though the whooshing is loud, it’s a soothing lullaby…or maybe, I’m just really tired.