Saturday, September 30, 2017

Thus Sprach Flora

Thus Sprach Flora
In millennia past, most of us would be cowering in corners, seriously considering blood sacrifice. The gods must be angry. They need to be appeased.

I’m not entirely sure that the wisdom that has come through science is all that comforting. Before, when we believed in magic, we felt like we had some control; we could take action toward fixing the catastrophes that fell our way. In today’s world, science tells of tectonic plates that bend and crash following their own course. There’s no glue to put them back together again.

Today, a stunning flower pulled me into art with no thought of the world and its conditions. A random thought and an old photo, brought a man into the picture … and then things took on a life of their own. The pretty flower became a powerful force blasting a beseeching human.

Turns out, the ancient Romans worshipped Flora, the goddess of flowers and offered her prayers for the prospering of the ripe fruits of field and tree. She was seen as the essence of youth and merriment.

Somehow, I think we’ve pissed her off. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Quinceañera ... celebrating a passage of life

I’ve often reflected on our lack of celebration of life passages for the young.  When you think about it, there are few markers on the path to adulthood … obtaining a driver’s license, graduating from high school, reaching legal drinking age, and voting. There is little that celebrates the spiritual and emotional end of childhood and the passage into adulthood.

I think that’s one reason I’m so fascinated with the Quinceañera … that, and the dresses, of course. 
Quinceañera celebrates a girl’s fifteenth birthday when she leaves girlhood and becomes accepted as a woman. While the dress, the party, and the beauty of the "quince girl" receive most of the attention, the day begins with a special mass where the she reaffirms her dedication to God and receives a blessing from the priest.

After that, the celebration begins with food, dancing and a court of 14 damas (maiden attendants, one for each year) and 15 chambelans, or male attendants in tuxedos. One of the final rituals of a quinceañera is the changing of the quince girl’s shoes. After the eating, drinking and dancing, the quince girl’s father will remove the flat-soled slippers his daughter wore to the party and replace them with a pair of heels. 
I have two granddaughters and always think about them when I see these beautiful young women in their princess dresses in the plaza surrounded by photographers and admiring friends and family. I wish we had more rituals that celebrate life passages.
When my older granddaughter Ava turned 13, I created a book for her with pictures from her life and remarkable messages from many of my friends. 
As synchronicity sometimes happens, my friend Louise Gallagher wrote on her blog this morning about the ten things she wished she had know when she was thirteen. She contributed those thoughts to Ava's book and they were so beautiful and spot-on that I used them as a theme throughout the book. You can read them on Louise's blog.

Here are pictures of some of the quince girls ... now women ... I've seen since I've been here.

More about Quinceañeras:


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Behind the walls of time and elegance

Elegant doors make you wonder what's beyond
Yesterday, a resident here opened his home to a group of photographers who walked around the home and grounds in a state of delight. In Mexico, from the outside, elegant homes often look like just any other wall. You never know what lies beyond the colorful facade.

This hacienda was one of those that opened up into a graceful courtyard garden and pool area surrounded by grand but comfortable living places. It was like walking back in time into another world of style and refinement. It didn’t take much to imagine that the dining table exquisitely set for ten awaited guests who would talk of art and politics from insiders’ points of view. Apparently one of the former owners was Elvis Presley’s lawyer. Imagine the stories he might have told.

It’s easy to think of Ajijic as a humble lakeside village … and, it is. However, sprinkled throughout the area are these jewels of elegance, retreats for the rich and sometimes famous. Recent times have seen the development of upscale, amenity-rich, gated communities. They are lovely, but young, without the wrinkles of stories and time to give them grace, mystery and a certain “old money come and gone” charm.

Here are a few photos. (Note: there is a tour here called "Behind the Walls" where the curious can explore more of the life and elegance that lurks beyond what we can see. More to come.)
Life in a near-perfect climate, allows a lot of outdoor living.

Who might be coming to dinner?

I wonder if words of wisdom poured into their heads as they slept?

An inviting blue pool surrounded by art.

The gardens were lush and varied, but one of my favorites was this unusual member of the milkweed family ... a balloon plant.
 And, as in most of life, it's the details that make a difference.

However, my favorite image of the day had little to do with money or man, but rather, the play of light.

Day 11/100

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

What makes a photo work?

Cafe Black & White wall art
This image is on the wall of the popular plaza coffee shop here.
I don’t tend to be a black-and-white person, so I’ve been trying to figure out why this image appeals to me so much. Of course, with the lamp and the shadows it has a lot of hard-edged, static contrast and the figures themselves are dynamic and rounded. Their black-and-whiteness on a soft yellow background makes them the point of highest contrast so my eye constantly comes back to them.

And, there is something about the way the paint splatters away from the dancers as if their energy is spinning out from them.

It seems like such a simple image but it is turning into a great teacher. I need to go back and study it more. Some people study Picasso; I study coffee shop art. ;-)

Edit:  I went back to an older photo I had taken of this wall art and discovered that the artist is Rodrigo Mariscal. Here's the image without the shadows and his very artistic signature.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The difference between originality and authenticity

"Stolen" Sculpture
Advice from Jim Jarmusch as quoted in MovieMaker Magazine #53:
Nothing is original.

Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination.

Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows.

Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul.

If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.

Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent.
And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said:

“It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to."

—  Jim Jarmusch, quoted in MovieMaker Magazine #53
The sculpture above captured my imagination in San Miguel de Allende. Here's where it went months later ... with the help of a friend's face, a high-desert tree and a handful of other effects:

Day 9/100

Flash Fiction: The Woman in Red

While I swept the church, a woman in a tight, red dress strode down the aisle, her stilettos clicking on the marble floors. Each click hammered at a memory just out of reach. I shook my head and kept sweeping.

“You!” she said, pointing at me, her voice harsh and demanding. “Get me a cushion. I need to pray."

I opened my mouth to tell her we didn’t have cushions, this wasn’t a dinner party …  
Her face made me gasp. A crack jagged from her hairline to her chin: a ragged, ugly wound that looked like it might break open any moment. I tore my eyes away from her broken face and went to the confession room where I knew Father Mario kept a cushion secreted for the long hours he spent there.

As I handed her the worn pillow, she grimaced as if vermin crawled through the weave. Holding it by a corner she went to the next to last pew and knelt, her hands folded on the the pew in front of her.

Suddenly, I heard a growling noise, loud and fierce. The words were savaged as if the struggle to get free of her throat had ground them into hamburger. "MEGRUGLEAMEN!!! … MEGRUGLEAMEN!!"

The woman's hands circled her throat as she rocked back and forth, as if fighting someone or something. I ran toward her and reached the pew just as she turned toward me and heaved a stream of yellow bile across the pew and onto the floor. 

I skidded to a stop as I saw the yellow mound wriggle … snakes! Black, baby snakes spread across the floor in all directions … midnight snakes dotted with yellow flecks of bile.

My heart pounded as I spun, first watching the snakes disappear and then turning back to the woman in red who had swooned against the pew. I needed to call someone … the priest or someone. What were we going to do about those snakes … and this woman? I felt her pulse. It was thin and weak.

I looked at the jagged gash splitting her face, swollen and inflamed, roughly stitched together as if by a child. Pus oozed from the knotted track that crossed her forehead, skittered down the side of her nose, cut her mouth into an upside down cross, and suddenly disappeared under her chin. She might have been attractive once but now all I could see was that fractured face.

“megru …” The whisper vibrated low and harsh as she came out of the swoon. “Gruglea … gruglea …” she cried grabbing my shirt and shaking me. Her eyes bulged as she tried to sit up. She jerked her head around to look behind us and then all around the church. The smell of charred meat … fear … steamed from her skin.

“Are you okay. Is someone after you? Are you in trouble?"

She whipped her head back toward me, grabbed my lapels and screamed again in a sound that made my guts rumble, “MEGRUGLEAMEN!!!” Again and again, as if her life depended on doing whatever that command implied.

“I don’t know what you want …” I tried to hold her hands but she yanked them away from me and leaped up, running toward the door where she collided with Father Brian and then spun out to the street before he could catch her.

“Who was that?” he asked.

Before I could answer, he spied the yellow mess on the floor and looked at me with a frown.

None of the snakes were in sight. I thought about all those black forms wriggling under the pews. I thought about the sound of the woman's heels clicking on the floor making me feel like I, too, might throw up. I thought about the too many years I had swept these floors, cleaning up messes left by the praying masses. I thought of my comfortable chair at home with my cat Zadie.

Father Brian’s baby face looked at me expectantly.

“Some woman. I think she must be sick."

“I’ll pray for her."

“That would be good, Father. I’ll just clean this up and head home."

“Bless you, Thomas."

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Words and images playing in a metaphorical field

You'll Never Know
"The only thing that keeps 
a person going is energy.
And what is energy but liking life?"
— Louis Auchincloss

In my long-ago working life, I touted the benefits of metaphorical thinking, proclaiming that you could find a way to link any two things together and thus gain insight about either of them.

This morning, I decided to test that concept with two extremely unrelated images shown below. Now, I will spin the metaphorical metaphor wheel and see what happens.  
First image: A clown I found on a wall in Eureka, CA. 

Second image: a trimmed plant revealing its inner nature, found in the garden at the Lake Chapala Society here in Ajijic, Mx. 
Both images intrigue me, each for different reasons. The look on the clown’s  face makes me think some inner information is bubbling up, lighting up his multi-colored eyes, ready to spill over into guffaws. The cut stalk of a plant with its holey and woody texture makes me wonder at the unseen world, now revealed by a gardener’s machete.

How do these two relate to each other? Thoughts: One was never alive except in an artist’s imagination. The other’s life was altered by a human viewpoint of the way things ought to be. Both subject to the whims of another.

The clown puts on a mask to entertain, attempting to create mirth or surprise in others. The plant has evolved into a moisture- and nutrient-collection system in order to survive and thrive.

Both are products of an unknown artist, be it a human with pots of paint, or time with its eons of tweakings to maximize well-being, or a mystery force too massive for our comprehension.

The insight … duh! … is that everything is part of life. Living things obviously are alive, but even those things that look inanimate … murals on walls, buildings that topple when the ground quivers, boulders on their journey to becoming sand on a far-away beach, a spoon, conceived by a brain and implemented by hands to deliver nourishment to a collective of cells and bacteria we call the human body … all play their part of the web of life. 
When they came together in Photoshop, these two images did not want to play together. I tried to tell them this was just an exercise, but they decided to make me work for it. Finally, they transformed each other and I could hear them whispering, but what they were saying, I'll never know.
Day 8/100

Saturday, September 23, 2017

At the beach with Maggie and Milly and Molly and May

At the Beach
One of my favorite poems comes from e.e. cummings and as I started to play with some beach images today, that poem came to mind and claimed the image for its own.
maggie and milly and molly and may 
went down to the beach(to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang 
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles,and

milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing 
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone 
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me) 
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea

Friday, September 22, 2017

Kaleidoscope of Sight

Who knows where this will want to play.
Kaleidoscopes have always been one of my favorite things with their constantly shifting, never-ending possibilities of shape and color. It surprised me this morning when I discovered that one name for a group of butterflies is … kaleidoscope. A kaleidoscope of butterflies. I love that and it became the title of my latest painting, which had been originally called Tulip Abundance.

It made me think about how we see things. The world is a massive array of shapes and colors, constantly shifting and being shifted. If we turn the ring on a kaleidoscope, we see a whole new image, something never seen before, a view we’ll never see again in exactly the same way. If we shift our own perspective on the world, the same thing happens.

Sometimes I think my life has been a journey of sight, almost like The Wizard of Oz, from the land of black and white to the world of Oz where everything is in technicolor and everywhere you look, you see a horse of a different color.

Years ago, when I took my first digital collage class from Robert Masla in a tiny fishing village just south of Puerto Vallarta, he taught me to change the way I saw things and the way I took pictures … from scenes to elements that could be used in a larger collage. Suddenly, the number of photos I was taking doubled or tripled as everything … a key, a bird, or a tea bag … showed itself as a possibility for becoming part of a larger image.
Three Circles wound up in "Kaleidoscope of Butterflies"

The world became a different, bigger place where everything had potential and meaning. Something similar happened when I discovered the magic of Photoshop’s blend modes that allowed images to play together in completely unexpected ways. A peeling, painted wall behind or on top of an ordinary tree might become an otherworldly scene that would take my breath away in surprise and delight.

Once again, this changed the way I looked at things. Now, the only criteria for a photo has become … is it interesting? Does it have lines, shape, texture or color that might want to play with another image?

A week ago, a friend and I went to Tlaquepaque, a rather upscale shopping area in Guadalajara. While my friend bought an incredible dragon to protect her new home, my eyes immediately went to the “bits” that might play in future images … like the piece of material above and the other images scattered through this post.

Silver balls and reflections
Delight and possibilities are everywhere … new sights and gifts from this journey of photography.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

What the Buddha told me this morning ...

“Let yourself be open and life will be easier."

Of course, Buddha didn’t say that to me directly. My friend Krystina Morgainne puts out a daily inspirational message and this was today’s wisdom. Interesting synchronicity.

The painting shown is one I bought from Pedro Arnoldo Cruz Sunu, an artist who was here briefly in Ajijic. I didn’t get to meet him when he was here, but somehow we connected on Facebook and I fell in love with his art. Eventually, he posted a photo of one of his works that I couldn’t say “no” to and it arrived yesterday.

I had hoped that I would like the painting as much in person as I had in the photo. Actually, it is far more stunning in real life as it has an almost sculptural effect. The paint is three dimensional, reflecting the textures of the subjects. The fabric looks woven or stitched, the corn kernels are rounded or shriveled where they have dried, the calla lilies are veined. 
Atiteca corn detail
 I hope this detail gives a sense of the texture of the painting.

I was curious about the pattern in the garment shown and was only slightly surprised when he said the design was Guatemalan. I thought it looked Guatemalan, but I assumed he was Mexican. In the course of our Facebook back and forth chat about shipping the painting and so on, I learned a bit more about his creative process and him.

What Pedro told me and what the Buddha said just makes me smile and shake my head at the same time.  Not only is Pedro a painter, he is a painting collaborator with his brother, a collaboration they consider sacred which has gone on for 18 years. And, he actually lives in Guatemala. 
One morning on Lake Atitlán
I only know one place in Guatemala, however, I fell in love with that one place … Lake Atitlán … and have always wanted to back. You probably know where this story is going. Yes, Pedro lives on Lake Atitlán, and yes he invited me to come down to visit … and stay in his gallery … and, yes I am going when I can figure out dates. 
What else could I do? The Buddha told me to let myself be open. 
 Day 5/100

For more about Pedro and his amazing art, see his Facebook page.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Don’t sneeze hate … it’s contagious.

What strange times we live in. 
As the pestilence of hate flies free from its constraints, the haters come out in force, prompting the non-haters to begin to hate the haters, thus becoming haters.

I’ve been living in Ajijic, Mexico, for five months, long enough to become aware of how hard most of us try to respect the cultural and logistical differences here. Most of us are at least attempting to learn the language and revel in the colorful art, customs and history. Of course, there are those few who, knowingly or unknowingly, are rude, inconsiderate, and boorish.

Facebook is a huge connector here with pages created for almost every possible interest. This week a thread was started recounting the rude behavior of a woman in a local restaurant. It was a trigger because most of us hate the thought of being an “ugly American” and when we see someone doing that, it pushes our buttons.

All the pushed buttons on this page exploded into a torrent of outrage, name calling, and threatened violence. No one on this thread knew this woman. No one knew what she might be going through or what her life was like. She had obviously had a moment of rudeness. However, is she an evil, bad person or did she just do something stupid? No one knows.

When the good guys become haters, what does it say about our world? The folks on this thread were the “good guys,” the people who want people to be treated with respect and kindness, and yet the hate-filled ugliness they spewed into a public forum toward an unknown woman made my head spin.
I tried a mild diversion with some humor. It didn’t work. They were committed to their angry self-righteousness and, apparently, just thought I was being funny. One commenter with an Asian name expressed his sympathy for the woman. They ignored him as if he hadn’t spoken. 

The thread went on for the better part of a hundred comments before I dropped off, befuddled by the venom. The woman hadn’t struck anyone or damaged any property. While she was apparently rude, she hadn’t called anyone names. The response on this Facebook thread felt like a form of mob mentality.

It made me wonder if hate and anger are contagious. No surprise: many other people are thinking the same thing. Time Magazine ran an article in June, 2017, titled “The Rage Flu: Why All This Anger Is Contagious and Making us Sick.” It’s an interesting article with many valid points. The one  that struck me most came from a massive study that stated "anger is particularly contagious on social media.” It apparently spreads faster and more broadly than any other emotion.

Hate comes from anger and fear. Could it be possible that our Facebook/Twitter expressions of outrage and all those handy little anger emojis are spreading a plague of hate? Could that be a factor in the hate we see all around us in today’s world? Maybe it’s not just the hater-in-chief that’s to blame … maybe it’s our hatred of his hatred that is spreading the hatred.

It’s time to stop. Here are five actions I intend to implement immediately.

5 Ways to Avoid the Contagion of Hate
  1. Never express anger on social media.
  2. Hate is a fire … don’t feed it. Labels and name calling are like pouring gasoline on the fire.
  3. React to the action … not the person. The action may be wrong or even evil. The person, every person, is capable of good and bad. Help them see a better way.
  4. Look inside … choose kindness. Explore how and why the action is pushing your anger or hate button. Find a way to be kind.
  5. Be an example … don’t tolerate hate. Humans are social animals and peer influence creates cultural norms. Eliminate rage and hate from your own behaviors and call them out (gently and kindly) when you see them in others or on social media.

There's a new mural in town

Day 4/100 
I love wall art. This one is by Irish street artist Karma, who has become well known for his political stencil work that critiques capitalism and the absurdities of modern life.

There is something about art that is free and available to everyone who happens to walk by.  No blue ribbons, cocktail chatter openings, no art-as-investment talk. Just an artist putting his or her creation on a blank wall. There is a fresh vulnerability and a openness to connection that touches me.

Here's another one of his, a little sharper than the one above. Source: Widewalls

A week or so ago, I was shocked to see a solid, white wall on my evening walk. I don’t remember what was there before, but I know it wasn’t white, which must be the loneliest color in Ajijic. 
It took me awhile to notice the artist and the beginnings of the mural which were hidden behind a car. 
Ajijic Mural by Romy Guevara
 I stopped to chat with the artist Romy Guevara and saw the design for the entire wall. Now, I look forward to seeing the progress every night.
Tonight I noticed the addition of a blue pig with wings and heard the entertaining story about how the pig became Romy’s talisman. He is now known as Mr. Blue Pig.
Romy Guevara and his blue pig
For any of you who are locals here in Ajijic, Romy’s studio is at 41 Colon and his wall is on Colon and 16 de Septiembre. Stay tuned for progress images. You can like his Facebook at Romy Guevara ... you'll see the picture of his pig.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

What's it all about?

Tulip Abundance
"We delight in the beauty of the butterfly,
but rarely admit the changes
it has gone through to achieve that beauty."
-- Maya Angelou

Day 3/100

Call it art. Call it hubris. 
This act of taking something, be it raw color, a musical note, a lump of clay, a bit of bright pixels, a seed of possibility that with the proper care might turn into a turnip, a tulip, or a new technology, this reworking of what is into something new, nurturing an essence into an expression, … this is what we do.

We call it creation, call ourselves creators, call our work creative. It’s part of each of us, perhaps the most essential aspect of this stage of development we call human. 
Created, we create. Evolved, we evolve the world around us. (Assuming, of course, we are fortunate enough to live in a world where our basic needs of food, water, shelter, and safety are met.)

However, the question always remains: in service of what do we create these expressions? Survival? Growth? Transformation? Beauty?

Orange Tulip from Ananda Village
Yesterday, I was filled with joy because an art piece I was working on “worked.” It pleased me.

This morning, I wonder if I added anything to the mix. Is my “Tulip Abundance" better than the actual tulip captured by my camera many mornings ago? And, is that tulip “better” than the potential residing in the bulb from whence it came? 
It reminds me of a song from my youth … “What’s it all about, Alfie?"

Wikipedia: "Alfie" is a song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David to promote the 1966 film Alfie. The song was a major hit for Cilla Black (UK) and Dionne Warwick (US). 
Click here to hear Dionne Warwick sing "Alfie"

Monday, September 18, 2017

My fungus friend

Top side
Day 2/100 
Fungi are the interface organisms between life and death.
-- Paul Stamets
Shortly after I moved here in May, I noticed a fungus growing on the side of a rock planter in my patio. I expected it to die away, but it just keeps getting bigger. I've become very protective of it, putting pots around it to keep workers from accidentally kicking it when they're working around here.
Bottom side
Fortunately my camera has a rotating LCD so I could get a picture of the underside. I know nothing about fungi so if anyone knows anything about this one, I'd love to know more.  Google thinks it's a  lingzhi mushroom or reishi mushroom and the Vietnamese name for it means spirit/soul mushroom. If this is what it is, it has been used in Chinese medicine for 2,000 years.
I'm glad I'm being nice to it.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A New 100 Days of a Photo a Day

Independence Child
Today is Day 260 of this weird, worrisome and wonderful year of 2017.

A companion on the digital art journey posted that she is on a 100-day challenge to capture and post a photograph on her blog every day. My first reaction was: 100 Days! I’ve been delighted with just finishing my 30-day challenges. Second reaction was: I want to do that! Third reaction was: Sleep on it! So, I did.

This morning when I discovered that there are 105 days left in this year, which would give me 5 days of wiggle room, I decided to go for it. 

Day 1/100: Celebrating Independence

It’s the celebration of Independence here in Mexico, so I’ve taken a lot of photos over the past few days. Which to choose? 
Since many of the activities here are focused on the children, it’s hard not to fall in love with their faces. I call this one Independence Child and the expression on her face makes me think she was being most patient with the adults around her including me. May she stay independent ... and patient. 

I added the red backdrop to emphasize the colors of Mexico.
There's an option on the sidebar to the right to sign up for the blog if you want to follow along.

Friday, September 15, 2017

My Quinceanera Life ... a few decades after the fact

For most of you, this will be TMI ... but thank you so much for being part of the journey ...
From a series of intentions I created.
Tuesday, September 15th, 2009. My life changed on this day as I opened up to the world with my first personal blog post. I will be eternally grateful to my blog sister and amazing artist, Diane Walker for leading me into blogging. (Diane’s blog:

In that first post, I wrote about starting the blog and remembering the powerful quote of Maya Angelou: "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."
For the past few years my life has been chaotic and filled with loss. Not wanting to dwell on my pain, I stopped writing and many untold stories gathered inside me, until Maya reminded me that not writing can also be an agony. Her words were the last prompt I needed to start this blog which, I hope, will tell the story of my journey back to joy.
I've decided to indulge myself in remembrance by looking at the posts closest to the anniversary date each year.
2010: The year I left Lafayette, Colorado to return to my beloved California and began a two-year roommate adventure with my best friend, Lynne Snead.

I celebrated my first anniversary of blogging with a quote from Bali which has become one of my favorites: Someone out there needs you, live your life so they can find you. And, I reveled in a poem by Herman Hesse: Sometimes.
Remembering the importance of time.
Sometimes when a bird cries out,

or the wind sweeps through a tree,

or a dog howls in a far-off farm,

I hold still and listen a long time.

My world turns and goes back to the place

where, a thousand forgotten years ago,

the bird and the blowing wind

were like me, and were my brothers.

My soul turns into a tree,

and an animal, and a cloud bank.

Then changed and odd it came home

and asks me questions. What should I reply?
2011: The first year I was accepted into an art gallery and truly began to think I might actually be an artist. The post that coincided with my anniversary described my first experience of taking photos of an environment and creating a piece of digital art from that. An artist friend began hosting meditation groups in her inspiring art studio and, on a whim one evening I took a mass of photos of her supplies and the objects around her studio. Those photos pulled me into a different type of art piece. It broke open a whole way of looking at the world.

2012: I finished a memoir about death and finding joy “after the fire,” and it began to set me free. The mid-September post talked about the found art of life:
This morning it occurred to me that life is found art.  Stuff comes to us … some rusty and bent … some shiny and bright … and it's our choice as to whether we weave it into the tapestry of our lives … or toss it away … or even walk past it not recognizing its potential.  A great deal of the found art of our lives comes from people: family, friends, the quick sales interaction in a department store,  a fragment of conversation heard while walking down the street.  

When we begin to notice these fleeting moments … not as something immediately practical designed to serve us … but rather, as bits of bright glass and rusty parts that help us create a new work of art … our lives … we start to accept our role as artist … creator … of this experience called life.
Beauty and Time
2013: An interesting year. I moved to the central coast of California, got accepted into a new art gallery, and almost stopped blogging. There were no posts from August through December of that year. Interestingly, the July 4th post celebrated our democratic DNA:
On this day 237 years ago, our ancestors here in the U.S., gave us the gift of great genes ...  a DNA of democracy, reverence for education, law and order, equality and justice. Like all peoples, we haven't always lived up to our potential but today is a day to remember what we were given and to renew our commitment to protecting this great gift for future generations.

Desert Wine
2014: A year of great change. I entered into a new relationship, which didn’t last but prompted me to sell my house and gave me the freedom to have a four-month-long adventure in Mexico. My near-anniversary post reflected on a celebration of the revolution in Mexico and a shout that I heard frequently: Arriba!

Reflecting on that shout, I wrote something that seems especially relevant for where we are in 2017:
… all of this has made me think about how many things begin with a shout, words said with emotion and power, to ourselves and to others. Perhaps we need a word like "Arriba!" to energize ourselves to take action, to do the things we know we want … and need … to do.  What is our shout?
There's Always One
2015: Another year of change. Returning home from Mexico, I was basically homeless. Finally, I bought a house in Grass Valley, where I thought I would stay “forever.” 😉  It was another low year for blogging and the only post in September reflected on the effects of climate change on political stability by comparing the collapse of Syria to what might happen if the same devastating drought happened in Florida, a political entity of about the same size and population.

Started making memes.
2016: Since I wasn’t associated with an art gallery, my creative energies were focused on writing. After self-publishing a novella, I began a novel inspired by one of the most inspiring videos I’ve ever watched … How Wolves Change Rivers that prompted a remarkable trip to Yellowstone for research.

My near-anniversary post begins: I want to read this book. The Secret Life of Trees.

I’m a bit chagrined that I still haven’t read it … however, I now have the audible book. So, I’m going to start listening to it … today!

2017: I’d say another year of change, but that’s becoming redundant. I was in the perfect house in the perfect community, when I decided it was time to move to Mexico. I had self-published a gratitude journal and was on the final edit of the Yellowstone book when arrived and realized that all I really wanted to do was make art.
So here I am in a place that has awakened all my senses. While I lost my darling companion Missy down here, I am on fire making digital art again, living a healthy, walking life-style, meeting people with the most incredible life experiences, and re-dedicating myself to this blog. 
I have found an online community of digital artists who inspire me every day, and I  just launched my new art website which you can see if you click here.

This is one of my favorite recent pieces of art. A young woman in her quinceanera (15th birthday) dress on the cusp of change. Who knows what new joys and sorrows will come her way? Who knows who she will become?

I don't have the dress but I still feel like I'm living on the cusp of change, not knowing what's coming my way or who I might become. There is no bigger change than the one I'm heading into. I deserve a dress!
Into the Unknown
Some tidbits I’ve discovered about the past nine years of this small-time, non-commercial blog: 

Page views: 193,795
Posts: 828
Most Popular posts: January, 2011, was dedicated to poems by Rumi as read by Coleman Barks. Those posts are by far the most popular ones I’ve posted. The most popular of them is “What was said to the rose …” and if you google those words, my post is #4 on the first page. Minor stardom.
The most popular of my own posts is simply a digital image: Art for Today: Intend Peace. I’m touched that the world seems to like that image and thought, so much that I reposted it yesterday and renewed my own commitments to the 11 intentions.
Audience: It surprised me to learn that other than the U.S., the largest number of page views comes from Russia, Ukraine and Israel. And PC-users outnumber Mac-users 4:1.