Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

For 2009


– May there be space in my life for books and poetry and art.

– May there be abundant health for the ones I love.

– May my heart expand fully to embrace our little one.

– May I become more aware of the earth, of humanity, of the spiritual.

– May my soul be at ease just enough to be able to write.

– May the richness of love and family pervade our home.

– May I be a good friend.

– May I always choose softness of heart.

– May I encounter beauty, peace, goodness, and hope in the world.

– May I be thankful each and every day.

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I’m back from a quiet, introspective summer interlude. I didn’t exactly mean to take a vacation from blogging, but books, a much-needed rest, and time shared with family and friends have filled our days.

I’ve been reading, for example, Wendell Berry’s collection, Given:

The exquisite poem “How to Be a Poet (to remind myself)” is included in this book. In it Berry says:

There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.
I think the poet speaks wisdom.

Cut fruit

Certain concepts, no doubt influenced by my reading, are on my mind this summer: respect for life, natural rhythms, found beauty, ritual…. I want to live with intention, but also freedom; with words, but also people; with simplicity, but also richness. I want my home, my life, my interaction with others, this blog, to be a sacred space.

What are you thinking of this summer?

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Pairs: Cut + Paste

Cut + Paste

collage journaling

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.
– George Bernard Shaw

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Pairs: Orange + Green

For the next few days, I’ll be posting a series of photographs linked by color combination, theme, or subject matter. I hope you’ll enjoy. Here’s the first pair: Orange + Green

Carrots, cucumbers, and mini bell peppers on a bed of lettuce. Lemon juice + olive oil dressing, of course.

Furoshiki: a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth. Inside, a lunch box packed with cucumber rolls.

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Notebook, found!

Does this old notebook look vaguely familiar? It’s the blue notebook in which, at age 11, I started recording my autobiography! I found the notebook tucked away in a box filled with old letters, school papers, and certificates. Can you imagine? I’m still in shocked euphoria. I hadn’t seen it in years, and I really believed it had been “lost along the way.” In fact, I have a faint memory of having thrown it away. But here it is, in all its blueness and sophomoric prose.

Remember the painting? It’s interesting to me that it’s both somewhat true to the actual notebook and inaccurate:

When things like this happen, do you question the fidelity of your memory? It’s a fascinating thing, isn’t it–memory? A few years ago, when my Fibromyalgia was at its worst, I suffered memory loss. Illness extinguished entire chunks of time from my brain. Details of significant memories vanished. Some of those lost memories eventually came back; others did not.

The Echo Maker by Richard Powers

Right now, I’m reading The Echo Maker by Richard Powers. In this novel, Mark Schluter wakes from a coma with Capgras Syndrome, a rare condition in which a person believes his/her loved ones have been replaced by look-alike imposters. It’s an Oliver Sacks-like neurological case and more philosophical than thrilling, but interesting nonetheless.

And in another exploration of memory, last night, we watched the 1942 film, “Random Harvest,” in which an amnesia patient and a beautiful woman fall in love and marry. When the man is hit by a car, he recalls his prior life but loses all memory of his current life, including his wife. The man’s two lives, two sets of memories, are mutually exclusive.

Then there’s the woman with perfect memory who can recall minutiae from decades ago.

Our perception of self and other is rooted in the flawed memory of who we are, where we came from. How can our perceptions be at all accurate or meaningful amid the distortions of fallible memory? If we lose memory of ourselves, who are we? Alternately, if we were to remember everything in perfect clarity, would we know ourselves any better? These are some of the questions I’m asking myself lately. What do you think?

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Happy Valentine’s Day, Blissful readers!

Today, I want to share with you a few blogs I’m loving right now:

Keiko’s stunning photography captures the beauty of food, destinations, and everyday objects. I can only dream of taking photos like these. (Be sure to click on the thumbnails on the left sidebar on Keiko’s blog to see more photos.)

My Inner Edge
I discovered this blog just recently. With a photo and a daily offering from poets like Galway Kinnell and Mary Oliver or, alternately, a meditative quote, My Inner Edge soothes and nourishes my soul.

Colors of the Garden
For me, visiting Kerri’s blog is like an armchair excursion to the countryside via photos of a lush garden and adorable kitties.

The Artful Parent
The idea of family life that celebrates art is so inspiring to me. The Artful Parent reminds me that creating art is a simple, natural, and joyful act.

The Style Files
I’m interested in living spaces that are both functional and artful, and this Netherlands-based blog is a collection of charming ideas for interiors.


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I bought this blue notebook when I decided to start writing my autobiography. I went to the bookstore, carefully studied all the blank notebooks, and selected this one because it opened flat, had thin lines, and looked studious. I was eleven.

For a while, I wrote in my notebook with a brand-new blue ink pen. Then I started editing my writing–crossing out words, adding descriptions, rearranging phrases…. My neat lines of careful cursive deteriorated into wild revisions, circled paragraphs, notations to see a different page with an addition, and pages and pages of scribbling. My heavy editing completely took over my original drafts.

After a while, I realized that I hadn’t lived long enough to have enough material or perspective to write an autobiography. I was overwhelmed by both the scarcity of material, and the time it would take to preserve what little I knew on paper.

I never finished that autobiography. Sometime during my teenage years, I became terribly embarrassed by my scribblings. I decided that there wasn’t anything in that notebook that was worth keeping, that everything I had recorded I would remember for the rest of my life.

It wasn’t true, of course. “I thought I would remember,” but I don’t. When I threw away that notebook, I lost a written record of my childhood self. Much of what I write now is, in a way, an attempt to remember the details of those days.

“I thought I would remember” is part of a series titled “Lost Along the Way.”

4″ x 4″ acrylic and ink on canvas

Series -

This concludes my painting series, “Lost Along the Way.” I hope you’ve enjoyed it and that it has evoked for you some meaningful recollections of your own irreplaceable belongings. For this series, I mostly chose objects from my childhood, because I think children have the capacity to treasure and mourn with a purity that too is slowly lost over time.

Ostensibly about loss, this series is really about cherishing, for we only mourn what was precious to us. We lose our irreplaceable belongings in many ways. Sometimes they break, sometimes they’re misplaced. Sometimes they vanish, sometimes they’re thrown away. Sometimes we give them away, sometimes death takes them from us. Most often though, we simply forget.

This was an exercise in remembering, because when we hold in remembrance what was precious to us, our hearts crack open just a little more, allowing the territory of our affections to expand. By remembering, we regain in part what was most important about what was lost along the way.

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I loved him at first sight among the teddy bears, cats, and dogs on the store shelf. I think it was because of his head–soft, squishy, and too large for his body. He was a raccoon or badger or some such animal. I begged my mother to let me have him for Christmas, although it was months before the holidays. I promised I wouldn’t ask for anything else.

My mother gave in, and we purchased him that very day. I couldn’t imagine anyone not loving this adorable stuffed animal, so I also convinced her to buy a matching one for my older brother. “They’ll be family, just like us. How could he not want one too?” I said, blind to the reality that cute stuffed animals don’t exactly fit into a teenage boy’s world of BMX bikes, computers, and loud music.

In any case, my brother and I received matching stuffed animals that Christmas. I named mine “Popcorn” for his fluffy head, and my brother named his “Shmuck.” (Shmuck?!) While Shmuck looked brand new for years, Popcorn quickly grew dirty, faded, and well-worn with love. I had dozens of stuffed animals, but he was my favorite of all.

Years later, when my parents were set to move, I returned home to go through my things. I was already an adult by then, but I secretly wanted to collect, among other things, my favorite stuffed animal from childhood. I went through my closet and all my dresser drawers. I looked under the bed and in the storage closet. No Popcorn.

When I asked my mother, she shrugged. “I just got rid of a lot of your stuffed animals the other week,” she said. “Gave them to the school, threw them out. They were getting all musty. You know how it gets so humid and moldy here.”

Gave them to the school, threw them out?! Can you believe it? I couldn’t. I’m still a little shocked. This painting represents Popcorn, so named because “his head was like popcorn.” Some childhood toys are irreplaceable, and he was one of them.

See the next painting in the series.

“His head was like popcorn” is part of a series titled “Lost Along the Way.”

4″ x 4″ acrylic and ink on canvas

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When my best friend moved away, we promised we would write each other often. We were young, too young, I think, to realize that our friendship was extraordinary or that a promise like this is easy to break. Apart, you drift into new lives, grow up, and all the while, you don’t know how to bridge the miles in between.

I waited for letters from my friend. One or two arrived, and I wrote him back, but that was it. We lost touch for many years during which we grew up, married our respective spouses, and both became writers.

My friend and I got back in touch a few years ago, and now we exchange emails, manuscripts, and memories of our childhood neighborhood. I asked him once about the letters–the ones that never came–and that’s how I found out that he had written a dozen letters or so that I never received. He had always wondered why I had never written him back. Somehow, our letters, our best attempts to keep a childhood promise, were lost in transit.

What did my friend write in those letters? He doesn’t remember, and I’ll never know. This painting commemorates a friendship. Those letters, “they never came,” but our friendship survived even so.

See the next painting in the series.

“They never came” is part of a series titled “Lost Along the Way.”

4″ x 4″ acrylic and ink on canvas

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When our neighbors went away on an extended trip, they left Chester in my care. He was a big, gentle tomcat, and we bonded almost instantly. You know how it is. Once in a while you meet an animal with whom you develop a deep connection. Chester was one of those. By the time our neighbors returned, I didn’t want to give him back.

I remember walking Chester back to his home at the end of the street and telling him that I didn’t want him to go and that if he felt the same way, he could always come back. I may have even left a few pieces of food along the way to guide him, just in case. (I know. That definitely crossed a line in pet ethics.)

Chester did come back often, and I may have continued to feed him. (Yeah. That line again.) I was convinced that he preferred me to his original family, that we were actually meant to be together, so… I asked our neighbors if I could have him. Can you imagine? “Excuse me, but, um, can I have your cat?” I’m still embarrassed by the sheer audacity of it. This pretty much cancels out the tricycle story, don’t you think?

Amazingly though, out of the goodness of their hearts, our neighbors agreed to let me have him. I fashioned a warm bed for Chester in the garage, and when my parents let me, I brought him into the laundry room to sleep. I made him special meals of shaved bonito flakes and milk mixed into a bowl of hot rice. We went on walks together, and like a faithful dog, he came running whenever I called him. I told Chester my secrets, and he always listened intently. When he dragged himself to our doorstep after a long absence, his hind legs immobile with pain, I nursed him back to health. Our fondness for each other surpassed the span of time we had together.

One evening, Chester asked to be let out, and as he vanished into the evening, he paused and looked back at me. Something in his look made a foreboding feeling flutter in my heart, but I let him go.

That was the last I ever saw of Chester. I looked for him for months, going door to door and checking roadside ditches and all of his favorite hideouts. At night, before going to bed, I always called for him from the back door, just in case. I refused to believe that Chester was gone for good. As time passed though, my searching spiraled into months of mourning. Concerned family friends offered me a kitten, but I was adamant that no pet would ever replace Chester, that I could never love another cat. For a long time, it was true.

Sometimes what is precious to us simply vanishes. This painting is in remembrance of Chester. He was only a cat–and not even mine, originally–but “he was also my friend.”

See the next painting in the series.

“He was also my friend” is part of a series titled “Lost Along the Way.”

4″ x 4″ acrylic and ink on canvas

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