Monday, December 31, 2007

Year in Review--my favs

Taking stock--here is a list of some of my favorite things of 2007. I'd call them the Jilly AWards--but that just sounds stupid.

Work of fiction--(other than Summers at Blue Lake)-- Water for Elephants

Memoir--Tie between Animal Vegetable Mineral and Julie and Julia

Non-fiction Art Lessons

Cookbook--Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill Cookbook

Best book I read aloud to the kids--Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (duh!)

Favorite TV shows--Men in Trees; Entourage

Favorite movie rentals--Out of the 65 I rented this year, I can't pick one: Pi, Faith in Chaos; Jean de Flourette/Manon of the Spring; Raise the Red Lantern; Pursuit of Happyness; Sylvia

Favorite Movie with the kids--Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (We have yet to see The Golden Compass--loved the book!)

Favorite Museum and Exhibit--Mingei International Museum in San Diego and the Eva Zeisel exhibit

Favorite Music: Songs of Mass Destruction by Annie Lennox; Not too Late by Norah Jones; To Love Again by Chris Botti, Hurricane on the Bayou soundtrack, No promises by Carla Bruni

Favorite running song on my iPod: Tina Turner You Better be Good to me--extended version

Favorite song to have on while cooking (still): Superstitious

Favorite song that my daughter plays on her sax: I feel good

Favorite coffee: Green Mountain Dark Magic

Favorite wine: Life is too short to choose just one. Reynolds family Pinot Noir, perhaps? Can't get it in PA. We've been enjoying Pedroncelli, Heron. And locally, we like Moondancer's newly released meritage. Lots of reds with lots of steak dinners.

Favorite restaurant: Tratoria Fratinelli

Favorite local hangout: Johnny's Steakhouse

Favorite date night--The Greek Festival--though my 20th class reunion, Trat Frat, and First Friday in Lancaster were also good times.

Favorite place for a sunset: Moondance in Ohio

Favorite zen moment: Sitting on the "haystacks" (rock formations) and dipping my feet in the Loyalsock river.

Favorite Christmas present: A Dan Witmer sculpture to start my sculpture garden. I am notoriously hard to buy for and/or surprise. Not the type you buy jewelry for--can't get into gemstones. This was a great (almost perfect) surprise from my husband.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Big party at my table for one

When one is starting out as a writer and an artist, you often do so in seclusion. The stuff you do, the ideas you have are secrets you wear like a locket over your heart. Your talents are too fragile and too raw to share with others. Why invite criticism? Keeping your own counsel can do strange things to your mind. You wonder if you are going slightly crazy. You assume that nobody else thinks like you do. You are isolated.

One of the greatest gifts I have had now that I have had a book published is the stream of information (almost an avalanche) that has come my way through sources I didn't know existed. Other people who think like I do are coming forward and introducing themselves. People give me names of contacts, websites to explore. All of a sudden I am connecting dots so quickly they seem to be connecting themselves. While I anticipated that my book's release would give me more professional contacts; I had no idea that my biggest riches would come in the way of spiritual and philosophical contacts. I am starting now to lay the groundwork for a life I want to live. Before, I had ideas, but like I said--they were in isolation. These are some of the subjects I have been exploring:
the slow food movement, intentional simplicity, equality for women, sacred space--public (as in labyrinths) and private (as in personal altars), arts in the schools, conscious (eco) communities, small house movement, learning about other cultures, domestic violence and racism prevention, the natural world, yoga, earth-based spirituality, journaling.

The more I journey into these areas, the more I learn how related they are. Imagine my surprise when I was checking out a home design book online (chosen for the aesthetics and the move toward voluntary simplicity) and I found links to labyrinths. I examined the site further and found a link to a site called Cultural Creatives. I took the online quiz. It was like it was written for me. I think that before 2007 started, I really felt like my views on the world were peripheral and fringe. I didn't know why I was the way I was. Was this some sort of rebelliousness in my nature? Mutated DNA? The contacts I have made this year have given me the knowledge that my point of view is not all that uncommon. While I have never relied on the vaildation of others to move forward with my life, I do feel less fatigued. Moving with a current is much easier. 2008 will be a party!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Here's to you, Mrs. Claus

I just got off the phone with my sister. She was almost in tears over the rushing and obligations she has in front of her the next couple of days in the name of holiday joy, which she was having difficulty conjuring. I believe she is looking at somewhere in 5-6 range of family Christmas parties--not to mention New Year's. My sister works full time, as does her husband. In addition to his job, he is also a high school basketball coach. They have two young children. To hear her voice on the phone made me want to cry. I could feel her pain. I have been there. I have done the to-the-minute holiday choreography. She has to make a dish and wrap presents for every party she is attending. When I talked to her, she had just returned from the grocery store. She had one hour to makes a dessert, shower, and get her family to tonight's party. Not only does she have to go to all these parties, but she must work extra hours to make up for the time she must take off to go to these events.

I have often decried the disporportional amount of work that most women do for the holidays. I know there are exceptions, but I distinctly remember a college sociology class that cited women's hidden taskload: the work she does for her family includes social networking, birthday cards, welcome wagons, showers. While all of this seems like fun and games with shades of Mall Barbie, it still requires time and energy to bring about the order that is so often taken for granted. This social networking is actually a support system that keeps families afloat and gives insurance against calamity. Imagine if mom breaks her leg and needs transportation for her kids or meals for her family. The kind of work that women instinctually do help develop networks that are crucial to family survival. Women are also the main link that carries the culture from one generation to the next, which gives families a sense of belonging and a context for their own relationships.

So for the women out there, I say that you need to pat yourselves on the back; give yourself a break. So the Christmas cards didn't get mailed out this year? So what? Will anybody notice if the buffet is missing the crab dip? Not with the spinach dip and the spiced pecans. I wish I had an extra hour to gift the women of the world this holiday. A nap. A bubble bath. The yoga corpse pose. A hug. Jan, if you are out there--this hug's for you. Love ya, sis.

Return of the light

Every year, I approach our solstice service the same way--with a season's full of weariness. I must practically force myself to go to the service, which is always at night and seemingly always occurring around the same time as my cold weather anemia sets in. (Not actual anemia--that I know of--but I feel bone tired, blood tired.) And then comes the renewal that I swear will not occur this year. I am always too far gone, I think. And invariably, my mojo returns after one hour in a dark sanctuary. How is this possible? The service was beautiful last night. Conducted mostly in the dark, it featured music, poetry reading, and dance. The music was curative: Native American Flute, bagpipes, vocalists with guitar or handbells, and drumming. Absolutely calming, rhythmic, and meditative. Perfect way to kick off a week of happenings and interactions with loved ones.

This is my poem, the welcoming of the light, that I read after dancers illuminated the sanctuary with candlelight to symbolize the sun's return. Happy Solstice to all. Whatever else you celebrate this season, may you find the light you seek.

From the ebony yawn of night,
The collective void that is our complacency,
We wait for a prophet—not to redeem us
But to show us who we really are.
The darkness softens,
And our awareness shifts to thoughts of hope.
Can this night, gone from ink to velvet in a heartbeat
Bring us comfort after all?
Ah, but consolation is not the sky’s intent.

A golden cord appears on the horizon
Where previously no distinction lay.
An axis of expectation,
The long finger of light beckons us unto ourselves.
We look down, and in the pink and purplely dim
We see the outline of our own flesh.
Arm, breast, thigh, foot.
They appear before us: parts of the whole.
We remember our designations,
And say our names, first silently to ourselves,
Then aloud to our neighbors
Whose figures we can now see.
Hearing the sweet chorus, we realize
We are not alone on our watch.

Orange now. Persimmon.
The heavens beseech us to turn our gazes upward
To the tinted ripples of dawn.
The colors convulse.
We are the midwives.
Waiting for the crowning of the golden orb.
But it is our own coronation that awaits us
With a vision of what we can be--
A vision of what we can be together.

Yellow wonder.
The eye rises into plain view.
Intensity beyond our ability to measure.
We cannot look at the star directly
So we turn and view its golden reflection
As it bounces off the faces
Of those who are gathered.
Each countenance shines,
Bronzed by the light of potential.

Welcome Sun!
Welcome Possibility!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Meditation on Darkness

Our church has its annual Winter solstice service tonight. I am looking forward to it. It is always a moment of calm before the storm of activity that is our holiday. Three extended family celebrations, two family birthdays, and at least two celebrations with friends. Tonight I am participating in the service as I have in the past. (Some years, I just sit quietly and enjoy the service.) This year I am reading two meditations that I was asked to write for this service. This first one is a meditation on the darkness. I will upload the Welcome Sun meditation tomorrow. Happy Winter Solstice.

Where does color go in the dark?
The verdant splendor of spring grass.
The unabashed purple of a lilac summoning insects to her party.
The poetic hue of autumn’s harvest that can only be self-described as pumpkin orange.
And the blue of a sky that hovers near-kiss above treetops, themselves an ever-changing spectrum.
Meditation on a traffic light, the maples and oaks seem to say. . .
Before that light goes out, and we are left without guide,
Without god.

This is not a sudden power outage
But a subtlety that has caught even the most aware of us off guard.
We sit here in the dark, at the intersection of our lives.
Deprived of navigation
Waiting in fear.
Deceived into thinking we are alone.

We do not know that guide and god, color and light
Are hibernating in caves within us.
Our winter eyes are solstice blind.
Sightless but seeking, our other senses rebound.
We finally notice the heartbeat.
Its call will lead us inside
To commune with all we thought lost.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Manifestation and Flow

On Wednesday, I led a workshop on manifestation journaling at Radiance. We had a good turnout. The bulk of the workshop was spent making a manifestation collage for the New Year. Cutting and pasting images and words. Infusing them with intention as we glued them into place. The resulting pieces then gave us a visual on which to train our minds.

I like giving workshops because they allow me to study and practice the subjects that interest me in a way that gives my study purpose other than my own enjoyment. (In other words, I get to tell my husband that I am preparing to teach a workshop when, in fact, I am just reading about something that interests me.) Last month, my workshop was supposed to be about FLOW in journaling and in life. We didn't have enough participants to make that fly. I was hoping to do that workshop before the workshop on manifestation because I was going to concentrate on the phenomenon of flow (which I describe as a river of energy that moves us in the direction of our goals). When we align ourselves with the flow, we are able to accomplish things with more efficiency. In discussing flow, I was going to focus on impediments to the flow and how to move past them. You can see why I would want to address this before moving on to manifestation. Now, I will be giving this workshop in February. And yet, it is working according to plan. While we were collaging, someone recommended a book on flow that I had not read. Most of my research came from people who were looking at flow as a spiritual force, a universal energy reserve that individuals can tap into and activate as they simultaneously lose themselves in the collective.
The recommended book, one that I am half-way finished reading, is called Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. It deals with flow as a psychological experience which imprints on the quality of life. I find it fascinating as I see the same phenomenon through a scientific lens. The book is anecdotal enough to keep it from being dry, but this is no self-help tome. Still, it offers insights on personality and the mechanics of the optimal experience (Dare I say---happiness?) that can be used to question ones own practices. It is interesting that the more I delve into creative journaling practices, the more I learn about psychology. Jungian interpretation of mandalas, for example. Mandalas were another subject that I first approached from the realms of the spiritual and of art. Art, writing, religion, science: It's all interconnected.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Another great weekend

On Friday night, we had a small gathering to watch my alma mater, Univeristy of Delaware, lose the national championship in football. We didn't actually watch much of the game. Instead, it was a casual gathering of friends, reconnecting over food (fried ravioli was the favorite) and the comical game Boxers or Briefs.

On Saturday morning, we met my in-laws for breakfast. We used to meet them on a weekly basis, back in the day when the kids were small. I think my marathon training in 2003 curbed that. It has been a long time since I had breakfast out (not including the occasional bagel, muffin run). I enjoyed just sitting and being waited upon. Afterwards, the kids went to make press cookies with grandma. They do it every year. Mark and I went shopping, took a nap, and then went to Moon Dancer winery to taste their newly released Meritage and listen to an instrumental trio play holiday music. We finished our day at Mark's parents, where we had an extended family dinner over take-out (but still--I didn't have to feed anybody all day!).

Sunday, the weather was awful with sleet and rain. I remained in my pajamas, reading mostly, until about 4 PM when we declared an end to sloth and inactivity with a family yoga session. Dinner (A pretty fancy affair considering that I didn't cook at all the day before. We ate in the dining room). A game of pinochle. The Survivor finale. All activities done as a family, so that was pretty special. My kids are growing up. We won't have these kind of days forever.
So there you have it: a weekend in which I spent time with friends, extended family, my husband, time alone and with my immediate family.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fun with kids

A couple very close to us has infertility issues and accidentally left a book at our house about some of the technology and advances in treatment of infertility. I know they will have children eventually. I can feel it. I can't complain about our own experience. We scored two of the most beautiful babies with only the slightest road blocks. (I can say that now--looking back.) I don't know what I expected when I became a mother, but I don't know that I expected these two people to become some of my great teachers. And I didn't expect them to become so wise, so fast. Now they are 10 and 13, which means they are fully reasoning people. And the stuff they reason makes me alternately shake my head or smile.

Back to the infertility book that was left at our house. Somehow its presence and the talk of test-tube babies led my son and I to an interesting conversation on how Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader) was conceived. It was not immaculate conception as I originally thought--and which was implied in the Star Wars movies. Jonah, who has read further on these things, informed me in his mechanical tone that a sith lord fashioned a man out of the force to copulate with Anakin’s mom.

I’m so glad we cleared that up. I would hate to be ignorant about the fathering capabilities of the force.

My daughter came home from school with a story with relates to her growing maturity. It seems there is a tradition in her school where the third graders write to Santa and select fifth graders write back to them as Santa. Maren's particular third grader, a boy, asked for a toy helicopter and a lemur. Maren politely replied that this boy was a good boy and would probably score the helicopter, but because lemurs are endangered species, they are better left in their own habitat.

There you have it. May the force and Santa Claus be with our loved ones this holiday season so they too can know the wisdom of the next generation.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Yo! Perfect Weekend

On Friday night, my husband, daughter and I braved the weather (a sloppy freezing rain mix) to drive to Lancaster for First Friday when all the art galleries are open. The impetus was to see art photos of Tuscany by my friend Nan. Gallery DePaul is a lovely space, and we enjoyed taking in the images of one of the places where I dearly want to go. To see sunny Tuscany while a wintry mix threatens Pennsylvania is an act of great hope. While we were there, the gallery director stopped us. She wants my daughter to model for a photo series she is doing. This is fairly typical. Every time I take my daughter with me, the first Friday crowd fawns over her. She is a little actress in training, so of course, she is up for modeling. She does for me and my artwork all the time.

We only went to a few other galleries. We stopped in at Red Raven where I will have my artwork in February. We talked to one of the owners of the gallery who, besides being an artist, was a track coach back in the day when my husband and I ran high school track. He remembered Mark, and we were able to reminisce a little. My daughter fell in love with a little Yorkshire Terrier in the next gallery, but Mark and I were entranced by the man who was sharing his art of homemade breads. Then we went home and had some Mexican cheese fondue with my son who had been reading the whole time. (Probably the better bad weather pursuit.)

On Saturday, we rose early and went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art as a family. We are now new members of the museum and were going to see the Renoir landscape exhibit. Early birds, we killed time climbing the steps and showing the kids the Rocky statue--and explaining the lore. The exhibit itself was great. As I am trying out some new landscape paintings, I found lots of inspiration. We also checked out other Renoirs in the museum collection and the armor. My son is twice removed from his obsession with knights, but part of him is still intrigued. We went for lunch at Delilah's Soul Food at Reading Terminal Market. Oprah voted her macaroni and cheese best in the country, but we thought it was just average at best. Mostly it was a waste of the time we spent fantasizing about it. On the way out of the city, we stopped by the Rodin Museum. It is quite small, but doable for a family of four with little attention span left.
When we got home, we discovered that Rocky was going to be on TV later that night. We decided to watch it as an end to our Philadelphia experience, but there was time. I made us some open-faced cheeseburgers on sour dough bread, and we took the interim to teach the kids how to play pinochle. Pinochle is the card game I grew up playing at my grandmother's house with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. If you read my book, Summers at Blue Lake, I can tell you that the card playing came out of real experience. The kids caught on fast, but we stopped the lesson and watched Rocky, marveling at the landmarks we had just seen that day and during Mark's marathon.

Sunday was a continuation of our arts quest. My daughter and I took in High School Musical--the musical at the local theater. It was well-done. Maren saw signs for coming auditions, so of course she will be going (if she can work it around her modeling gigs). The night ended with what is sure to become a famous spicy chicken dinner (see previous post), some conciliatory chocolate chip cookies, and more pinochle (the kids have the fever now!).

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Laura, Nellie, and the Cinnamon Chicken episode

I've been rewatching all the Little House episodes with my 10-year-old daughter. We are on season nine. Anyone remember the episode in season six when Almanzo comes to town and Nellie offers to cook him dinner? She can't cook, so she enlists Laura to make Almanzo's favorite dish: cinnamon chicken. Laura has a crush on Almanzo, so she sabotages the meal by replacing the cinnamon with ground red cayenne pepper. Nellie and Almanzo take one bite of the dish and they go running for the water.
Fast-forward a couple of decades. We aren't on TV, but I am making chicken paprikash, the Hungarian chicken stew made with plenty of sweet paprika--or so I thought. I accidentally grabbed the--you guessed it--ground red cayenne pepper and added the prescribed 2 tablespoons to the simmering chicken. I guess my first clue should have been the coughing my family did as they fought the airborne pepper on their way to the dinner table. Three out of four of us managed to eat the meal with liberal glasses of milk and dollops of sour cream. I only realized my mistake halfway through dinner after my husband kept saying, "I didn't realize that paprika was so spicy."


I wanted to say that while I was reading Animal Vegetable Miracle, I was simultaneously reading my new cookbook: Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill Cookbook. (I had the good fortune of eating at the Mesa Grill in Vegas for my 37th birthday.) This book is at cross purposes with the Kingsolver plan. Recipes include ingredients of a tropical nature such as mangoes, hot peppers, plantains, etc. Bobby includes ideas for seasonal menus which may or may not include some hard-to-get ingredients for the season. And I will undoubtedly make some of these dishes. I am not a holier-than-thou foodie, just one that is trying.

Animal Vegetable Miracle, Part II

I've finished the book, and while I am not going to go out and order my own flock of chickens who are known to lay eggs through the winter months, the book has influenced me to change some of my ways. I am never going to be a purist, but I do think I can work on ways to give my family and me a more intimate relationship with the food we eat and the area where we live.

1. I do want to join Slow Food organization. The money has kept me from doing it in the past, and will probably keep me from joining in any month surrounding the holidays, but the impetus is there, and I will work toward that goal.

2. I will become cognizant of where my grocery store produce hails, and make local choices, when I have the option.

3. I will visit the farmers' stand BEFORE I go grocery shopping. I know they get some food shipped to them, so I will make sure to ask which products are grown on their property. No excuses. This particular stand is one mile from my house.

4. I will give cheesemaking a try. I admit that this is mainly a curiosity, and I would check it out even if it weren't connected to a cause.

5. I will be a more conscious gardener. I'm not saying I'll be bigger or better, but I will put more thought into it and try to engage my kids more in the act of raising food.

6. I will plan more of our meals around seasonal food. I do this to some extent now, but I will be aware of how often I do this and when I veer. I do have a pretty good idea what foods come into season and when, so that is a start.

7. I will look into buying local eggs, meats, poultry, and flour. Not knowing what my choices are, I don't want to promise that I will always buy local, organic, free range, but I am on the lookout.

8. I will look for fair trade coffee. I am looking to cut down my coffee to 1 cup a day and to eliminate the diet soda (who wants all those chemicals) anyway. This is as good an excuse as any.

Some things won't happen. I don't anticipate giving up citrus, fish, or cheese from other countries. I do can and freeze some of my own foods, but I don't know that I'll step up production. These steps aren't mandates, but goals I have for myself. I think they fall within the realm of what is practical for me and my family at this time, yet uncomfortable enough to stretch us out of our comfort zone. Isn't growth-- of animals, plants, and the human spirit--what this is all about?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Animal Vegetable Miracle, Part I

I am reading the newest nonfiction book by Barbara Kingsolver (one of my favorite novelists) called Animal Vegetable Miracle. It is about the quest of her family to eat locally for one year. I highly recommend this book to anyone who eats. (I realize this includes everyone on this planet.) This subject is intense and may lead me to more than one blog entry, but I'll start here with a bit of my foodie background.
When I was young, my mother had a HUGE garden. She canned jellies and froze corn and green beans. We had a small orchard on our property that usually gave up enough fruit for pies. And we had the great zucchini harvest like anyone else with a garden. My mom liked gardening. And she was frugal. I always imagined that it was these two things combined with a heritage of gardeners that drove her to garden, more than a love of food. (My mother is one of those people who could be satisfied living off air, I think.)
Fast-forward to my first house and plot of land. It was small and in-town, so I carved out a garden with 6 4'x4' raised beds in which I planted by a method called square foot gardening. I did not garden because I loved the work. Tight hamstrings aren't conducive to bending over. And I'll take paint over dirt under my fingernails any day. I have, however, inherited some of my mother's frugality, but by my calculations and on the scale I was working the land, I am not too sure that I didn't spend more than I got back in the harvest. Unlike my mother, I do have a love of food--the more experimental--the better. My whole reason for gardening was to grow things that had yet come into vogue in the markets in my area. I was after the unusual. Fresh herbs (at the time, stores only sold dried herbs and fresh curly parsley), yellow tomatoes, kohlrabi, tomatillos, hot peppers (All colors and range of hotness), endive, Japanese Eggplant, arugula. If it was an exotic, I was growing it.
Slowly, the area grocery stores started catching up to my tastes. Even if the produce was on the pricey side--it spared my hamstrings. I continued to garden though. In our newer house with a bigger back yard, I still managed 3 small beds with tomatoes and peppers mostly. One year, I tried growing all purple vegetables just for the quirkiness of it. You'd be amazed how many varieties of vegetables come in purple besides eggplant. There are tomatoes, peppers (hot and sweet), beans, peas, cauliflower, sage, basil, and lettuce.
The way I gardened is the way I shopped. I sought out the strangest ingredients so I could lift the cover off my culinary creations with a big TA-DA. The best supermarkets were the ones who carried chutney, ginger, avocado, fresh herbs, frisee, an array of worldly cheeses --from sheep and goat's milk as well as cow's milk, blood oranges, mangos, escargot, lamb, crawfish, ground veal, turkey sausage in many flavors, proscuitto, quinoa, Meyer lemon infused oil. You get the picture. I still travel 35 minutes to shop at a grocery store that best fits my needs.
When I read books by Frances Mayes, in which she hailed the slow food movement, I felt I was doing my part: cooking daily, foods to be eaten with relish around a table. Not some prepackaged mix that you added a pound of your own ground beef. I may not have been Alice Waters, visiting the the farmers everyday to select the best of what was growing in the fields, but most of my meals came from the actual produce section, not some can or box. And I did cook recipes from magazines that boasted the current month's date. How's that for seasonal?
Then along comes Barbara Kingsolver, and she blows me out of the grocery store. She and the slow food movement expect more of me. Most generally their mandates are the following: buy local produce (to spur local economies and conserve fuel of transporting crops from distant lands). Buy seasonal produce. (Cucumbers don't grow here in the winter, so if I am going to be local, I have to be seasonal). Buy meat from animals which were humanely raised. Produce more of your own food, so you can place yourself directly in the food chain and have more reverence for your food and the land. (I especially like the part where she makes her own cheese!) I am still reading this book, so I will have to see what kind of changes will come into to my cooking and eating. But the first, step--questioning the way I do things--has already begun.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Labyrinth lure

Next on my list of December adventures was a workshop on labyrinths. These look like mazes, but they only have one path. Walking them is a meditation of sorts that helps align your chakras and balance the hemispheres in your brain. Labyrinths often have a symmetry and a mathematical proportions that act on the brain on an unconscious and decidedly non-verbal level. Often this is referred to as sacred geometry. Labyrinths that use this sacred geometry have have been found across cultures and religions including Christian, Ancient Greek, and Native American traditions. They are like mandalas in that they are used for meditation and have perimeters and a point of focus--all of which work on our psyches in specific ways. Many labyrinths were supposed to have mystical powers and therefore fell out of favor during the Age of Reason. But in this age of disconnect, labyrinths are making a resurgence in places like the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., among other places such as hospital grounds--where they can be used for healing properties.
I have studied labyrinths and the metaphor of the spiral for years and walked a half-dozen different labyrinths, not to mention used the symbology in my art and writing. Yesterday's walk was a meditation on trust. That is one of the metaphors--trusting that the curving path would bring a person to center even on the times when the path seemed to be leading away from its heart. I feel that way about my artistic journey--as though, in my art and writing, I am moving away from the direction I need to be, but I need to trust the process. The vision I received in this particular walk was that of seeds. I need to plant my seeds and not worry about the harvest. Trust that the path I am on will bring me to the point I need to be.
Helpful labyrinth links:
Mid-Atlantic Geomancy
Worldwide Labyrinth locator


I am having the loveliest little December imaginable. On the 1st, we went out and got our tree. We tromped a lot of tree plantations, with a sweatered pug dog in tow. Spent more money than we should have on the tree and then found a place where they sold them for half of what we paid. But OH WELL! We decorated the tree with our motley collection of ornaments. But each ornament is a memory. We have an ornament from virtually all of our travels. The kids get ornaments each year that commemorate what they are doing in their lives and/or what they were for Halloween. As a result, we have ornaments that depict acting, fencing, baseball, Raggedy Ann, Thomas, Dorothy, Storm troopers, Buzz Light Year, knights, out heritage (Pennsylvania Dutch and Lithuanian ornaments), cooking, knitting, golfing, dance. As well as from places such as Cancun, San Fran, Puerto Rico, France, Disney, Baltimore, New York, etc. Plus, I am growing a collection of purple ornaments. So decorating our tree is always a dreamy experience.
My brother and his wife were over. To make our event even more festive, I made a steak dinner that was dynamite (if I do say so myself). Cajun spiced flat-iron steaks with bleu cheese sage sauce, twice baked potatoes with rosemary caramelized onions and mushrooms, and plain old green beans. Then Mark broke into the stash he was going to use for the Christmas stockings, and we watched college football while eating fun-sized snickers bars. He is ecstatic that Ohio State (the team we've been following for 10 years) is once again in the BCS championship game. I was more into the Snickers than football, but I'm not complaining.