The summer has come and gone. You know I look for ways in which to find more hours in every day and really, I didn’t mean to stay away from the blogging posts for THIS long. It’s been a while hasn’t it? I trust you’ve been creatively productive, too.
With Farmers’ Markets, farm chores, family happenings and a growing sense of ZEN I find myself trying to be in the here and now more often. It’s easy to think about putting something on a TO DO list, but lately, I’ve been misplacing the list. And when that happens, I re-evaluate what it was that I wanted to accomplish in the first place.
I’ve taken to turning off the television too, and hanging out with one of my Best Friends. Here is a photo:
Because when I spend time doing something I enjoy doing and I work at it Every. Single. Day. then the chances that I’ll get better at something increase greatly. Sometimes I think I sound pretty good, playing in the still, quiet time of the evening or early morning. I play what I want and at my own speed. I learn songs by ear, pick out tunes from You Tube and adapt them to my D A A tuning. The cat joins me on the couch and yes, I put her to sleep. Neither one of us sing.
November is the month for a Na-No-Wri-Mo challenge, and if you think you are up to creating that novel you’ve always wanted to write, it can be a great way to jump start yourself.
And as for me, I’ll take time every day to play a little song, read or write a little “story”, and if I’m lucky, speak (aloud) a few reasonable words.*
(*Attributed to influences of von Goethe)
I’ve been seeing articles in magazines, blog posts, newspapers or on television shows that refer to what is known as “sustainable living” or slanting toward a movement becoming known as “vintage revivalism.” Many of these sources cite some of the following as belonging:
Sewing, quilting, handspinning, hand weaving, knitting, crocheting, embroidery, needle craft skills, making pottery, basket weaving, gardening, growing food and herbals, making soap or candles, making jelly or wine or beer making.
I’ve always enjoyed doing those things. Now it seems more people are enjoying them, too.
Here is a photograph of a scarf I’ve woven on something called a rigid heddle loom.
And when I agreed to help make decorations for a wedding, I practiced cursive handwriting. I was asked to create signage. It’s been a lot of fun and although it’s been a long time since I put that much effort into cursive writing, it was very satisfying, in a most unusual way.
Time to take a class or learn something new….er, old?….or Vintage!
Happy creating to you, too!
I am a student of the Creative Arts, as well as a practing crafts person. In order to learn more about the use and preparation of lye and the making of soap, well of course, I have to read about it.
“Lye–a strong alkaline solution or solid of potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide, made by allowing water to wash through wood ashes. It is used to make soap and drain and oven cleaners. The chemical formula is KOH or NaOH.”
It makes me wish I’d paid more attention during high school Chemistry classes.
But I read on, and research how to use fireplace ashes and filter rain water through a barrel, and how soap was made hundreds of years ago. And then I research how craftspeople of today make handmade soaps. I practice their techniques and borrow a recipe or two.
I can make soap. Out in the barn. Which makes the surroundings smell so nice you’d never guess that there are animals around.
The recipe I’ve found most success with includes coconut oil, olive oil, lard, lye, rainwater and fragrance oils. Lemongrass is at the top of my list. When the rosemary grows a little more out in the garden, I’ll pick and dry some of that. It will go in a special soap–to relax with after a long, but creative day.
I will make no apologies for not being “here” since my last posting. But here is a brief update. I think I can do that.
September? I do remember it was a whirlwind, but that’s about all.
October? Attended a writer’s conference, fall festivals and continued to plow my way through the first draft of a current writing project.
November? This month was filled with emotion and self reflection. I won’t make any political statements as to the outcome of the presidential election, but philosophical ones, most likely, and still–not here. I choose to focus on raising awareness for the choices people make and how responsibilities and consequences for those actions have an effect on everybody, and that’s all I can say about that.
Any more time spent in this arena takes energy away from the current writing project and focusing on that project is the key component.
December? We celebrate Christmas on the farm and wished neighbors, family and friends all kinds of Merry Christmases and Happy Holidays. My hands were busy, my heart was happy for the loved ones who were with me and saddened for the ones who are no longer.
It is with hope for the future that I am reminded of a quotation from THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL: “There is no present like the time.” I choose to live creatively.
Happy creating to you, too!
Small chairs–as individual as the children who used them!
One of the most frequent questions I hear from writers or illustrators is, “Where do you(we) get ideas?”
A lot of the folks I know smile when they hear that and then reply, “Ideas can come from anywhere.”
I used to wonder what they meant by that. Because the thought of ideas for creative projects in drawing or writing being all around and within my grasp was just too hard to believe. Surely it couldn’t be that easy. And most of the time, it’s NOT. Because the idea itself is not the only thing. The WORK to bring forth that idea is the hardest part.
That means, BIC–Behind(mine) In the Chair(working).
One of my Creative Diversions is going to flea markets and auctions, and I was delighted to discover these small children’s chairs. I know some of their history; most of them are solid oak and just the right size for a small child. I sat in one similar to these when I was younger, so these chairs hold a special place in my heart.
The chairs came home with me from the auction.
All 48 of them.
Now, I don’t know what in the world I’m going to do with 48 tiny chairs. Really? But when my Creative Mind begins to consider the 48 children–or more–who might have been sitting in these little chairs all through the years since they were made, and I consider that each child had a story to share…..well, then. There we go. I have parts to a story that’s just begging to be told.
Now I’m OFF to put my seat in a seat and begin the work–of writing today.
I’ve got at least 48 possibilities.
Happy Creating to you, too!
I go to my Local Farmer’s Market once a week as a vendor. I’m not selling vegetables, although we’ve grown quite a lot of veggies on the farm this summer.
Actually, I use this time to demonstrate hand spinning alpaca fiber. I talk to people who watch me at the spinning wheel as I turn fiber into yarn. I ask about their creative projects. Many knit or crochet or quilt and we have a lovely time as we swap stories.
From time to time, folks will share in a memory about an elder relative they recall who spun on a wheel a long time ago, and I’m reminded that it’s these kinds of traditions which need to be preserved. I hope to be able to do that in my work as I honor things handmade, and it will be my hope to write about artisans and craftspeople with a voice of authenticity.
Best of luck in your creative projects, too!
There’s a quotation attributed to Benjamin Franklin that I’d like to share, and it’s this:
“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.”
So I’ve been busy.
I’ve been writing AND doing stuff.
The alpaca have had their yearly haircuts months ago…I have more fiber than I can possibly spin into yarn and I HAVE been making hats, even through the summer heat.
The weather will get cold again and I’ll be ready when it does.
Vegetables were planted and we harvest something almost every day. What I’m MOST excited about are the jellies: Egarden has produced some fine mints and the blackberry patch has given fruit, so that I’ve made jellies eight or nine times (as of now).
Byron Herbert Reece said, “I am a farmer first and a writer second.” And I get it. I understand. My time is being well spent and I search for balance in creative living every single day.
Some days produce more words than others, some days give more food or a handmade item, and I have been nourished– either way.
and it is the time when I get distracted and move from one creative activity to another, but more frequently. There’s so much to DO!!
A buddy of mine says that’s a characteristic of “cafeteria artists.” I’m not quite sure what that means, but as long as it involves appreciating a lot of activities through which I have a variety of creative pursuits, yeah….that would be me.
The alpacas have had their yearly haircuts, which provides me with plenty of fiber for future projects.
And out in the experimental garden, I’ve been thinning mints and herbs to see what else I’d like to add for this growing season. I’ve started seeds in the tiny greenhouse (not shown here) and will have a few vegetables to add in a few weeks.
Big Garden and Little Garden have a more “traditional” method of planting, and by that, I’m referring to the use of a tractor, a tiller and Mr P maintains a lot of the work for that. We produce vegetables and harvest enough to eat fresh foods, share, and save some for later. I grow a few flowers in Big Garden.
But in Experimental Garden–E Garden– I try different things in different ways, and when something grows, it grows, and I appreciate that.
My point is this: when I am in E Garden, I take chances. I’ve learned to trust that things will develop and come to be if I’ve done what I can, what I love, the conditions are right for growth, and I nurture the project. And I look for signs and believe in the balance of luck and hard work.
New York, New York!
I visited Grand Central Station/Terminal, the New York Public Library and attended the winter conference for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators(SCBWI). What a GREAT experience; to be surrounded by so many other creative minds!! Check out the website http://www.scbwi.org for more information about the conference.
There have been so many things to think about upon returning home; plans for future projects, works in progress. Yet, I decided I needed to re-examine some of my ideas, but THIS time, with a different focus.
I picked up a wonderful picture book at the conference by speaker Kate Messner, with artwork by Christopher Silas Neal called UP IN THE GARDEN AND DOWN IN THE DIRT. It will be a wonderful gift for my granddaughter, and I’ll give it to her–right after I finish using it. See, as I began to review some of my own manuscripts, I felt as though I wanted to know if they could move along in a story line, too. The sketches above are my interpretation of the layout for Ms. Messner’s and M Neal’s book.
I’ve worked this week on sketching at least six other picture books, by other authors/illustrators. It has been a most rewarding creative learning experience.
From there, I can use my own words to do rough sketches for possible picture book projects. The next steps, at least for me, will be to get professional opinions about the manuscripts.
Happy Creating, today and every day.
Making and sharing handmade items for gifts is part of my life and has been for as long as I can remember.
I have been largely influenced by two grandmothers. One encouraged me to sew and I would make doll clothes using pieces of fabric from her scrap piles. I learned how to remove stitches if they weren’t doing the job and appreciate quality handwork.
That led me to sewing larger projects–among those were a dress for my first prom, several outfits for formal wear and eventually a design for my wedding dress. It was a simple idea really: chiffon poncho over a crepe flowing, below the knee-length gown with a diagonal hem that pointed down instead of horizontally. (By then it was the late seventies and my hair was flowing longer, too.)
The other grandmother taught me how to crochet, but I never learned how to read a pattern for my needlework. She would encourage me to look at something or visualize how I wanted something to be, and use a series of stitches to make it be that way. And when I taught myself to knit I unravelled almost as much as I created until I felt it was the best it could be. “If you leave it in there and don’t fix it, you will always know it is still in there,” she would say. She was right.
I hope to pass along the love of making and giving handmade gifts
and when I need those ideas and memories to develop characters in my writing– well, it’s come full circle and I know I’m honoring a heritage of my own.