Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Matchbox Shrines -- Times Two

I had the good fortune to teach my Matchbox Shrine workshop not once, but twice in the past week. The first workshop was offered in Salem as the capstone to a multi-week class entitled Circle of Life and led by Elizabeth Hartshorn of Full Circle Counseling. Ten eager participants gathered and created ten beautiful little shrines, many commemorating what they had been learning and focusing on during their Circle of Life sessions. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me and I was unable to record the impressive row of shrines that were created in JUST OVER AN HOUR! This group was on a tight deadline due to an opening check-in and a farewell at the end of their session, so rather than the usual two or three hours I like to allow for creating a shrine, they did their creations in a little over an hour. Amazing!

My second opportunity occurred last Saturday, when I taught my Matchbox Shrine class at the DIY Lounge at collage on Alberta. It was one of our first sunny days in a long string of rainy, cold, bleak days and all five registrants showed up! We had three glorious hours to create two little shrines and once again, I marvel at the creative ideas that took shape in just a few hours time. Here are photos of the creativity that flourished last Saturday afternoon in a delightful little art store on N.E. Alberta in Portland:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mexico Post Script

I forgot to share a very exciting part of staying with my grandkids last week: my gifts! From Mexico! I spoke to my daughter a couple of days into her Mexico trip and told her that if she were out and about and happened to come across any milagros, I would love for her to get me a few. She started to laugh because just the night before she had come across a bright yellow star STUDDED with little milagros and she had already bought it for me as a thank you gift!

I told, in that case, I would love for her to look for saints or nichos. My dear daughter brought back both:

Thanks, Melissa, I love my gifts . . . and I love your kiddos!


I was fortunate to take a one-day workshop recently, led by Susan G. Wooldridge, author of two poetry books: Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life With Words and Foolsgold: Making Something from Nothing and Freeing Your Creative Process. The workshop was hosted by Diane Havnen-Smith at her wonderful Innerstandings Studio, where every need was taken care of by Diane: a welcoming ceremony in her little cedar house, morning treats, a delicious lunch, afternoon snack, and a closing ceremony back in the little cedar house.

During the day, Susan led us in a variety of writing exercises, always preceded with unique prompts and ideas to get us started. One of my favorites was her use of “writing tickets.” These are colorful tickets, each with a word taped on the back, and stored in a special little bag. She handed us each a handful of these tickets and were told to choose from these words to get us started in writing a simple poem. I went home and created my own little bag of words:

In addition to word tickets, she had us choosing words from poetry books, and pages torn from the dictionary. At other times she had us looking at images from postcards, or tromping around in the backyard gathering items for little matchbox shrines. She had us starting our poems by completing phrases:

I am
I am not
I love
I used to be
Etc., the list of beginnings was long

In one exercise she had use Awake/Asleep as a starting point and here is what I wrote:


Awake, I dutifully peel grapefruit and bananas, eating fruits that prolong my life.
Asleep, I eat lightly salted vinegar potato chips and dark chocolate covered almonds.

Awake, I live in a tiny yardless one-bedroom condo, the sound of sirens and cars steady outside my window.
Asleep, I keep discovering doors to rooms I never knew existed, an attic filled with old leather chests and suitcases.

Awake, I travel to the coast and stay at the Chelan in Neskowin, an hour and a half round trip.
Asleep, I’m on a plane to Italy, wearing a well-worn backpack, the straps covered in layers of silver duct tape.

Awake, I water my trailing ivy and the spidery almost leafless ficus benjamina.
Asleep, I have to push aside the palm branches just to get to my front door, the smell of hibiscus in the distance.

Awake, I balance work and classes with family, and reading, and laundry, and never-ending lists.
Asleep, I linger in bed, overstuffed pillows dropping onto my face, my green chenille robe draped across the foot of the bed.

Awake, my alarm rings.

Asleep, I dream.

Nanny For a Week

I spent last week in Washington, in a little community part way between Olympia and Tacoma, babysitting two of my adorable grandkids: Luke, 3-1/2, and Ella, 22 months. Their Mom was vacationing in Mexico and their Dad was working, so I was the nanny for the week. What a delightful job! While I was there, I attended a Pampered Chef party at the home of one of Melissa’s friends, then another day I met that same friend at the Olympia Children’s Museum for a morning of play. Of course, there was also a trip to Chuck E. Cheese and swimming lessons at the YMCA. I'm a little out of shape for all of this, but I managed. For the long days of chasing and caring for two little ones, I needed fuel, which came in the way of home-made chai tea soy lattes:

Throughout the week, Luke and I worked on a two-page spread in my visual journal, my “special book.” Luke chose paint and painted two pages, then selected collage items to glue down. He went back over the top of some of the images and added more paint. He didn’t want to tell a story or add words, but I added a quote by him: “I love you Bammy, you’re so cute, I want to keep you forever.” Ahhhhh . . . .

On Thursday, Hubby came up with Oliver, and it didn't take long for Oliver to become friends with Bella, one of our granddogs:

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Artist's Way Week Thirteen: Recovering a Sense of Faith

Little fledglings start to come.
Dayna's nesting like a mum.

Fledglings stretch and ask for more.
Dayna feeds them at their core.

Fledglings fly with fears in eye.
Dayna smiles and waves good-bye.

Thank you our beautiful Dayna.

Tuesday night was the final gathering of our Creative Cluster and it was a bittersweet time. The ladies were excited for the celebration of thirteen weeks together, but equally sad to see it all come to an end. After our usual check-in, each woman presented her final project, an idea I “borrowed” from my friend and mentor Gretchin Lair: the “Omega Project.” This is a project that reflects an interest in something they have done during the past 13 weeks, something each woman wanted to explore in greater depth, or just an art project that was fun and enjoyable. The women’s projects were fantabulous and amazing. Here is a gallery of their work:

This is a photo of a mosaic table "K" made (sorry for the flash!):

"B" took a sculpture class in Portland and created this work of art:

"S" designed a "gaudy" box:

"L" had her soon-to-be mother-in-law help her sew this lovely little dress:

"A" started an altered book in memory of a special friend:

And "B" created this lovely and very personal shrine:

We concluded the evening by eating Stone Soup. I provided a savory broth and the “stone,” while each of the ladies contributed two ingredients for the pot. We had lots of carrots, as well as cabbage, celery, scallions, red kidney beans, green chilies, and orzo. I provided a hearty loaf of Dakota Bread from Great Harvest Bakery and presto! a wonderful feast.

During our final closing, there were tears and words of gratitude, a sense of accomplishment and connection. Well done. As a parting gift, I gave each woman a bundle of colored pencils tied with a ribbon and a quote from Maya Angelou: You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. I also included a quote of mine: BE BOLD! In addition to the pencils, I gave each woman a mini Lingam. Each week during our check-in, whoever was speaking held a special rock in her hand. I had found this special rock in New York City at the little shop Tibet Arts and Crafts. When I purchased the Lingam, a description came with it and I share it here:

Lingams are sacred stones from the holy Narmada River, In India. Characteristic markings make the Lingam unique. They are naturally formed from cryptocrystalline Quartz minerals. They are said to contain the loftiest vibration, and great healing power. Lingams symbolize creation, and perfect balance of Male and Female energy. The body of the Lingam represents the Male energy knowledge and the markings represent the Female energy wisdom.

On a trip to Sedona several months after purchasing the large Lingam, I found a basket of itty bitty Lingams and carefully selected a couple dozen to use as parting gifts in my Creative Clusters.

Post Script: I asked each of the women to share comments about their experience and I share some of those here:

I liked sharing feelings and the creative crafts. I can’t think of anything that could be improved. Every detail was perfect. Your gift of small and thoughtful kindnesses touched my heart.

I liked the “ritual” of the short check-in, then long, the reading . . . it focused me, helped me to let go of the day. Of course, I liked the art projects, and the warmth, humor, and laughter of the group.

This group saved my life and brought about rebirth. I loved being with wonderful creative women! Dayna was calm, supportive, reassuring, and a great artist! The only thing that could be improved upon was that it would go on forever.

I liked the women, thinking different from my everyday life; and thinking of being an artist was new and freeing.

I liked writing after our art projects and I liked taking pieces of the centerpiece home each week.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Two Poops and a Pee

Saturday morning we got up and started our walk by heading east on Marine Drive to the beginning of a wonderful bicycle and walking path that goes for miles and miles. The entrance to the walkway is located at the east end of the Gleason Boat Launch, and the sign posted at the walkway indicates it is Broughton Beach - sounds so east coast beachy! As soon as we arrived at the path, we veered off, and headed for the beach that runs along the Columbia River. Oliver was in doggy heaven! We let him off his leash and he frolicked and ran and scared himself into little leaps, all the while sniffing and snorting his way along the tide line. While he and Hubby were scampering along, I was in my own heaven: collecting the detritus of the river and of humans. Using a doggy poop bag, I collected shells and agates, and all sizes and shapes of beach glass rubbed smooth by the rocks and river. Because the Columbia is a notorious spot to drink, there were lots of rusted bottle caps, along with bits of odd-shaped plastic rings and unidentifiable doodads - lovely. By the end of our walk, my doggy bag was filled to the brim with small pieces of bleached driftwood, rusty bits, beach glass, and a beachcomber's collection of shells.

As we neared the end of the beach, we spotted about eight people and 12 dogs, all who had just arrived. The humans were carrying steaming cups of Starbucks liquids, and the dogs were sniffing each other, some swimming in the river. Oliver was intrigued, if not a little overwhelmed. He chose an older, slower dog to sniff and greet, while the younger more confident dogs moved on down the beach.

Oh, yes, Oliver treated us to two poops and a pee. It was a good day indeed.

The entrance to the beach:

A happy Oliver:

Oliver in action:

Always a beachcomber:

The booty:

I'm a Star!

I was on AM Northwest this morning! I didn't tell too many people in advance, because, well, the idea of my friends watching made me nervous. However, now that it is over and I didn't flub my words or fall down, I feel safe letting you all have a peek. Just click here for a link to KATU (Channel 2). When you get to their site, look for "Matchbox Shrines" and you'll find me. It's about a five minute clip. Oh, and here is a photo of KATU's "green room."