Monday, December 31, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things 9 ~ Listening over and over and over

This is a huge difference between Mosaic Woman and myself, I can listen to the same song over and over again, but she does not dig it at all.  So I don't do it when she is around, but old habits are hard to break and so when I am alone in the car...

Today I drove over to the school to check on my plants.  Fiscal cliff was all over NPR, so when I got to the school I ducked into a storage closet where I had placed some of our old CD's a few years back when jazz was taking over our one bedroom two studio row.

I grabbed one because I knew I loved the final track, San Diego Serenade.  The CD was by Nanci Griffith and while I could not find a video of her performing it, I did find one by Tom Waits, the  man who wrote the song.  It is all about how witnessing one thing opens your eyes to something else.

Oh, and yes, all the way home, with all due respects to the folk in DC ... over and over again.  And yes, I am so listening to it one more time  ;')  It soothes my soul and thus I will follow my heart.  



Happy New Years Eve.  I never saw a new year till I celebrated an old one

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things 8 ~ Holiday Music



During my nearly 50 years I have listened to many a type of music and it truly shows once a year when I remove the jazz from iPod and fill it with 800 plus holiday tunes. Irish fiddling, shape note singing, Gregorian chanting, rat pack crooning, piano jazz improvising, voices acapella-ing, Bing meeting Bowie, College choirs uniting...

Emmylou, Springsteen, Elvis, Brubeck, Lauper, Enya, Cash, and what about Nat King Cole singing in German and Latin, ....

This year we got three new ones ~ Dave Brubeck, Kenny Burrell, and Tracy Thorn (half of Everything But the Girl).

So, it's not Epiphany yet. What's playing where you are? 


Here is one that floated up several times this season and is now a favorite ~ 


Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things 7 ~ Diners, especially The West Main in Lansdale


There is a running story/joke that Mosaic Woman likes to tell about how I never "even had Chinese food" before I met her.  My family did not eat out that much and when we did it tended to be diners.  Now Mosaic Woman has introduced me to Chinese and Thai and Indian, and Mexican, and ...

However, I introduced Mosaic Woman to diners and ever since the West Main Diner moved into Lansdale, it has become the world  headquarters of Nutmeg Designs.  
















Warm colored walls and booths sure did help to draw us back for comfort food.  The friendly staff and usually no need to rush helps us to think through things.


At the beginning of my break, we met to plan out the rest of 2012.   Today as we ate breakfast and lingered over coffee, (essential for brainstorming), we made plans for 2013.  Goals for the year.  Hopes for Nutmeg Designs.

Oh and one more thing, I may be a bit biased by the owner's (well the male of the couple) first name and what greets me at the top of the specials every morning we convene a meeting ~














Friday, December 28, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things 6 ~ why do I do this, some Stratozpheric portraits


I have developed a habit of searching out statues to duck behind, but not before I hand the camera off to Mosaic Woman.  I am not sure if I dig the statues or the hunt to find ones to duck behind ~ 

Stratoz with The Fawn by John B Flannagan
Rochester NY
2012

Atmosphere and Environment XII by Louise Nevelson
Philadelphia, PA
2012

Ceremonial Table of the Bontoc People
Reading, PA
2010

Cloumn of Peace Antoine Pevsner
Washington, DC
2010

John L Surra Landscape II
Olean, NY
2010

?
Rochester, NY
2011

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things 5 ~ simple conversations and pizza


I am fine with  8 days of silence*.  I generally don't enjoy large crowds.  The angst leading up to going to a large gathering of people can find me wondering why I said I would go to a party.  Mosaic Woman and I have this in common.  The other night there were ten of us gathered about a table.  It was a group I knew well for the most part and that was fine.

What I truly dig though is sitting together with one friend and sharing our stories.  

Having a couple over is our kind of party here in our one bedroom two studio row house.  Tonight will be our 22nd pizza event of the year.  Not sure how it came to be, but it started early in 2012 and pushed us to keep a constant flow of invites flowing into the universe.  Many of the 50+ people who have come over were never here before.  What a blessing it has been getting to know friends a bit better.  

Tonight will be a couple whom we have met through being artists.  In fact all four of us are artists, two full-time.  They have never been here before.

Saturday night it will happen again.  It will be special.  The friends are ones we gathered with on a regular basis before they moved to California.  At the beginning of the year, we did not imagine them moving back east, but they have and after a few attempts we finally got them on a free night.  What a way to end this year of pizza.

What a blessing to have acted upon the desire to feed and to get to know so many people a bit better. We have never come close to anything like this before.  The list of folk with get stretched on and on.  Who knows how many people will sit and talk with us?  In the process this house is gaining some good karma.

*One reason I am fine with those days of silence ~ the one hour a day I get to sit 1:1 with a spiritual director.  That is heaven to me.




Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things 4 ~ Woodpecker, a Haiku



Woodpecker
Photo by Paul Stein

I love birds, but if forced to choose a favorite family, let me say it is the Picidae.

Maybe my next bird mosaic will be from my favorite group.  But for now I must sharpen my writing skills because I will be faced with a Haiku challenge on New Years Eve.


Woven together,
forests need undulating
flight of woodpeckers



Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things 3 ~ 21 Hopes


collaboration between
Wayne Stratz and Margaret Almon

  1. I hope that when I enter my studio something beautiful will emerge
  2. I hope that after a day of teaching I have the gumption to create something in the kitchen
  3. I hope that my students will experience joy and just maybe realize how cool science is
  4. I hope to celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary
  5. I hope to make pizza for 60 people this year or come dang close
  6. I hope to commission art
  7. I hope to watch friends heal when life makes them weary
  8. I hope to learn to really listen to people
  9. I hope to one day love all colors even chartreuse and mauve
  10. I hope to teach others how to make strudel just as my mom-mom taught me
  11. I hope that migrating birds find a safe place to hang out at the other end
  12. I hope to never lose the joy of music touching my heart
  13. I hope that things worth saving are saved
  14. I hope that people experience less hatred
  15. I hope that Mosaic Woman can continue to be a stay at home artist
  16. I hope that I let my life unfold into the mystery and not try to hard to control its path
  17. I hope that my house keeps me warm and dry
  18. I hope to see the Oregon coast again
  19. I hope that I take the time to watch a bird which has allowed me the pleasure to see it
  20. I hope my doubts fade, but never completely
  21. I hope to sing these words on many more Christmas Eves at my current church ~

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of HOPE the weary world rejoices, 
For Yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things 2 ~ color vision


on etsy shop

In church on Sundays the prayers ask us to reflect on what we are grateful for in our lives.  Things come and go, but I am often feeling blessed for experiencing colors.

There are those who are born without it and there are diseases that will take it way.  Apparently the latter fall into depression as their world enters a place of grays.

We grow up thinking everything witnesses the world as we see it.  But that is far from the truth.  There are blind cave critters.  Birds and insects stretch out a visual spectrum wider than ours.  But in the world of mammals it is rare to see as much color as we do.  Some distant relative of a primate had a mutation and ran with it.  We are blessed to see this world, even if at times they see horrific things.

I created the above piece to celebrate my neighbors surviving a fire and returning to be our neighbors.  Five family homes, connected by the walls of a row house and the trauma of a fire, became a place for me to create a rainbow.  Thinking about colors reminded me of this piece.  For it is a single piece whether it spread among five families or placed on etsy to raise money for the firefighters that caught my eye.



Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things Begins



I have not been blogging or reading blogs much for the last ten days.  I was in a food court.  Students roaming about finding a lunch.  Big screen TV telling some breaking news.  That night my spirit group entered into the initial silence.  I thought it would last forever.  I thought that it would be just fine.  let us sit and imagine the horror.  Let us imagine the grief.  Let us imagine the healing.  Let us hope.  Since then I have read stories of men shouting ... if I can't have you none will ... as toddlers lose their mother just feet away from their crib.  I am told that I can only be safe in my classroom if I carry a gun.

and I want to rant. 

instead I tell my pain to Mosaic Woman and imagine blogging about my favorite things over my time off from teaching.  

I am blessed to have someone to share my life and that is my favorite thing for this day.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ending the Year





The USPS has declared that tomorrow, Monday the 17th is the last day to ship for Christmas, so things will slowdown here at Nutmeg Designs. So let me say thanks to my faithful readers for all the support you have given us over the years. Once again Mosaic Woman can enter a new year as a full time artist.

Thanks for all that you do. The purchases and shout outs amaze us and surely make us feel blessed.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I Dig Slime Molds


Slime mould
Photo by Lorraine Phelan
There are a few types of slime molds in this world.  I spoke of one years ago as an undergraduate.  I was discussing entropy at the time ~ how things tend to fall into chaos.  They spend their lives as individual cells but when motivated to reproduce they form into one collective being and work together to make spores.

The other type which I spoke of today can have millions of nuclei in their one celled slimy body, which allows them to do some advance thinking like figuring out the fastest way through a maze.  Think of all those nuclei communicating like all those neurons in your brain.  Cool stuff, which is why ~ I spoke of them today in my bio class and that always makes me happy.



Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cool Show Moments ~ Kepler Poinsot Polyhedra and young super fans


Kepler-Poinsot polyhedra
Photo by fdecomite

The man enters my booth making it clear he was not shopping this year, but also saying how much he loves the three trivets he has purchased at the Kimberton Waldorf Show.  

So I say, "How was your year?"

Fifteen minutes later and after a few google image searches, I have become educated in the realm of the Kepler Poinsot Polyhedra.  He has spent the year constructing models and being drawn into mathematical beauty of them.  He apologizes for"boring me," but I reassure him that I love math, design, science, and history of such things.  Yes, this is the Kepler you hopefully learned about in Earth Science classes.  The man that came up with laws of planetary motion.

Later the very young man I celebrated two years ago came back for the third straight year to buy a suncatcher.  Clearly our youngest super~fan.

and with that our 2012 show season has come to an end.  We have commissions to finish and our etsy shop is open, feel free to browse.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

RIP Dave Brubeck


Dave Brubeck
Photo by Jim Webber
I was waiting for a colleague to end a phone call today when I read the news.  On the day before what would have been his 92nd birthday, Dave Brubeck had died.

I went to my twitter list called 'jazz' and began to read through the 140 character or less tributes to the man.  Many who I follow, had played with the man.  It lifted my spirits to see the love expressed in the sadness of the news and the joy of having experienced the man.

Mosaic Woman and I went into our studios this evening and listened to two friends sharing stories, sharing pianos.  NPR's Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz with Dave Brubeck.  Read a bio and listen to the episode here.


  Tis the Season, rest in the beauty of his love of piano ~


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Holiday Jazz 2012 ~ Now: Aids benefit in Philly & Then: Oscar Peterson





Just went on a search to find myself a holiday jazz concert and found this:

The Church of Saint Luke and the Epiphany in Philly is having a holiday jazz benefit concert featuring w/ vocalist Mary Ellen Desmond, Larry McKenna tenor sax, Tom Lawton piano, Lee Smith bass & Dan Monaghan drums to benefit lives affected by AIDS & HIV.  December 16th at 6:00pm.  

I think I desire to be there.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Which of the Polybus humours are you?


being sanguineous?
My students had the option of doing this or that today in the computer lab.  Those that chose this were met with some questions about the history of biology.  The discussion that emerged as they met the four humours and the personalities associated with them was at times more than I expected.  It also drew some students from the crowd who had chosen to do "that."  The students seemed ready to analyze each other as much as they were open to tackle their own humours.

The humours are part of a long history of humans attempt to classify personalities and this site concludes with matching Myers-Briggs to the humours.  I am ISTP, so the website suggests blood is my humour (better than one of those biles) and I am Sanguineous.  A word that baffled my students, but seems true of some time spent in the glass studio



Sunday, December 2, 2012

Mosaic Giveaway Coming To an End

Margaret Almon's Rainbow of Pendants
complimentary pairings
It has been an amazing list of characters that have helped support us for the past 24 months, which was the time we decided Mosaic Woman would end her job search, quit unemployment benefits, and emerge as a full-time artist.

Kerri Farley has been one of those characters.  If her name sounds familiar it could be you are well aware of her blog of nature photographs or my mention of how one of those photographs inspired my Blue Jay mosaic.  

Kerri wrote Mosaic Woman and suggested a giveaway to help build support of our work.  The giveaway ends this Monday, December 3rd, so head over to her post, which happens to feature amazing photos of the pendant Kerri purchased and loved so much she wanted the world to know about it.  


Friday, November 30, 2012

My First Friday 5 with the Rev Gals


a place I might miss if it had been open when we moved to lansdale
15 years ago.  The sign still hangs there, unless Sandy blew it off.

These Friday Five questions courtesy of Friday 5

If you suddenly received a ton of money and could open up some kind of store or service just for the pleasure of having it (assume it wouldn’t have to be too financially successful!), what would it be?

A place to celebrate a few of our favorite things perhaps.  Great coffee, live (when not recorded) jazz, books, and art.  And of course some Jesuit spirituality thrown in for good measure. 

What service or store that no longer exists do you miss most?
The Spice Smuggler used to be in Lansdale.  A splendid place that sold bulk spices, loose teas, coffee beans, and some fine chocolate.

What local business do you think you could make better if you were to take it over? And if you don’t mind sharing, what changes would you make?
Live jazz concerts everywhere.

What spot nearby seems to be impossible for businesses to survive in?
a place next to a Rita's Water Ice in lansdale ~ A deli followed by a deli followed by a deli followed by a shipping store followed by a cell phone place followed by a pawn shop.  Luckily the second deli moved into the Lansdale Train Station, A Little Something Nice (no live jazz but a great owner who can croon to the jazz he plays on the stereo, good coffee, fine pastries, ...)

We’ve all seen stores that combined books and records, beer and laundry, or coffee and whatever. One of my favorite places to get coffee in Honolulu is a cafe and florist, and there is a car garage that’s also a diner in a town nearby. What would be a cool hybrid of two disparate ideas for somewhere you’d like to hang out?

Stained Glass and succulents (what gets my fingers at home, and at work)  

see other answers to these questions here

Monday, November 26, 2012

Vampire Algae, even if they are not vampires do something amazing




Algae
photo by Jenny Audring

My first period students start the week in the computer lab.  This week I had them checking out a DNA tutorial which got higher than average marks (DNA from the beginning).   Once they are rolling I sit back and wait for questions and occasionally throw one out to the masses.  I pull out my gadget and check my science list on Twitter.  "Vampire Algae" caught my eye.

As the students were putting the laptops away I prepared to tell them about the vampires.  And then all my classes got to hear about the vampires.  Not because they were vampires but because they are predators that can digest what we fail at, and we are animals with teeth and digestive juices and symbiotic enzymes.  Stressed out algae, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, (low levels of CO2) suck cellulose from other plants and use it for energy.  How cool is that!  And how cool to think of other amazing things plants can do that we cannot do that are waiting to be discovered.  Of course the article turns to how we can use these algae to help fuel our vehicles.

This was a fine thing to stumble upon a day after celebrating my botany professor.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Who just may have helped us to become a duo


A relatively new friend was over for pizza last week and was curious how a biology major and a poetry major became a couple.  She was thinking that we would live in different worlds and what the heck would we talk about.

So maybe it is time to give a shout out to a professor at East Stroudsburg University, who not only told me how to ID a Red Oak, and showed me that plants were worthy of our attention, and fueled my passion for evolution, but also thought one should be well educated in other ways.

He handed me the current stories of Raymond Carver and the WWI poetry of Wilfred Owens.  He brought music I had never heard into my life and filled my head with recent research in areas outside the realm of biology.

Reading alumni magazines fills my head with people who have climbed higher and higher in the professional careers.  I have no desire, and maybe I learned that from Dr. Raymond Milewski, who after all these years is still an Associate Professor doing what he digs best.  Teaching students about what he loves.  I hope he still diverges into other topics from time to time.  I sure hope so, and yes, I am going to  let him know I am alive and well.

updated~ Margaret just reminded that he introduced me to smoked Gouda cheese and I can add to that, blood oranges



Friday, November 23, 2012

The Fit is Doodlin



Mosaic Woman (see hers at the bottom of the post) came home several weeks ago speaking of a car she had seen.  She said, "I doubt very much you would have liked the bumper stickers, but the plate was Doodling."

After a moment or two of being covetous I thought of a plate with a much better fit for the Fit.  Pianist Horace Silver wrote a tune which has become a standard.  He first recorded Doodlin' in 1955 with the Jazz Messengers.

Here it is:




Later Jon Hendricks would add some lyrics which man a jazz singer has sung,  "I feel so lost without my doodlin"



here is one considered my some to be the best, and who is to argue with what Sarah Vaughan did ~








Thursday, November 22, 2012

Grateful

word on the street is that my sister is on the mends, both her balance and vision have improved.

How cool is that!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Call of the House Number Signs


It has been quite awhile since I cut a piece of glass, well it seems like it has been a long time.  But as I focussed on drawing cards, Margaret moved forward on some commissions that did not involve me.  But now three house numbers are priorities and I am looking at a five day weekend.  I think I got some numbers in me, what do you think?  

Even some thought to be unlucky.  I can't wait for a request for a 21 to come my way.  Order yours here





Monday, November 19, 2012

Cool things do happen at shows


example of light dancing
not the piece mentioned below
Last week when I spoke to a gathering of artists about connecting with people on social media, I did not say that doing shows was useless.  I may have said they were time consuming and exhausting.  But I also clearly made the point that cool things happen at shows.

Saturday we were at a very local show which meant our very local friends could travel a short distance to see us and many did.  and that is cool.

A man was in our booth and was clearly taken by how the light dances about Mosaic Woman's mosaics.  We chatted a bit but as is often the case, he moved on to see what else would amaze his eyes.  (if you can't accept the fact that not everyone who thinks your craft is a delight will buy a piece... shows may destroy your soul).  I eventually went off in search of coffee and when I returned the man was back and had brought his wife (also note if you feel both members of a married couple have to adore your work equally, stay home and away from shows).

But in this case they were both smitten and chose to buy two mosaics.  OK, so that is cool.  But by the time they left our booth we knew his story.  A story about how fragile we are when a large wave crashes upon us.  How lucky we are to have someone save us and as he said, how many people can say their son saved their life.  How amazing we are in our ability to heal and recover in rehabs that know it is possible for more of your body to function, if the staff can get you to believe it yourself.  How grateful we can be for the years after being saved to celebrate the good things we would never had known, in his case grandchildren. 

Thirty minutes later I saw a man making his way about the show with a walker and knew  he was a happy man, who was ecstatic to be breathing, to be moving.  And that is a cool thing.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Telling Our Story at The Chester County Guild of Craftsmen




Wednesday after a day of teaching I am headed to West Chester for a business trip.  The trip has two purposes, but for now let me say that I am going to tell the creative people of Chester County how Mosaic Woman and I use social media to make connections that can lead to sales.

I will tell of the joy of finding Ignatius loving RevGals, Icelandic jazz artists, and a Hawaiian book lover. I will talk about Snowcatchers and lizards.  I will celebrate my "jury duty" special.

I will have them imagine amber mandalas of hope, mugs on retreat, Blue Jays and house numbers.

I will tell them if they don't want to spend time connecting with people or they don't think internet friendships are real, they may want to focus their energies elsewhere.  I will tell them I can't imagine not being friends with some amazing people who are real, heck I've met enough of them to have data.

anyway, if you want to see me tell stories of connections that not only bring sales, but bring me joy, hope, and peace.... here is the info


Sunday, November 11, 2012

A World War I Poem from one who was there, Wilfred Owens

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori
from Flickr by Tim Brauhn

In college, a botany professor, who had barely survived Vietnam, handed me a book of poems by Wilfred Owens.  It included this poem ~


Dulce et Decorum est

By Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.


Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! -- An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime. --
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.


In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.


If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, --
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.


The Old Lie ~ a line from the Roman lyrical poet Horace's Odes (III.2.13). The line can be roughly translated into English as: "It is sweet and right to die for your country."


"

Saturday, November 10, 2012

May you celebrate the food you love with the people you love ~ Strudelfest, where art thou


from the past
I think I was taking a healthy lunch break before stuffing myself silly later
Normally by now a Saturday has passed by when I have a steady stream of facebook posts about making strudel.  That stream in part was a way to let my sister in California know what she was missing, but soon enough it would be cold and gray here in Pennsylvania and she would be glad to be missing that aspect of living here.  Well, I never got around to scheduling a day of strudel in October, but today was to be the day.

The other day I blogged that my sister had had a stroke.  My parents have flown out to support her.  So today's celebration has been postponed.  I talked to those in California the other day and let my dad know it will happen soon after they return.

thanks to all of you who have offered up prayers for my sister.  She is doing generally well.  Her balance is a mess and some of that support is literal since she has fallen twice since her return home.  Also her eyes are functioning well on their own, but are not communicating well with each other when they both are open.  

It was my dad's mom who taught me how to make strudel fifteen years ago.  Soon after that she had a stroke and I have always counted that day in her kitchen as one of the greatest blessings in my life.  

So what of today then.  Pizza.  My year of pizza slowed down a bit when the school year kicked in, but of late it is showing signs of being alive and well.  This evening I will make pizza for the 49th and 50th person in just over 10 months.  I would highly recommend venturing forth on a similar journey.

If you did, what food would you make?


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