Saturday, January 31, 2009

New Heart for Valentine's 2009

My last four hearts were done on an old design, so it was time for something new...

to see all of our hearts stop by our ETSY shop. I have started cutting out pieces for a second one using this design. This time the perimeter glass will not be used at all in the center. Will be interesting to see how that affects the design.
Maybe time for one more design, I was working on one and it only came close to being "good enough." It will be more in the flame like design of my burning bushes mandalas... branching out from the bottom.
though I rarely think to ask... your input is most valuable and always appreciated.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

mockery gets me no where--- I keep being tagged

A week ago, Giggles asked me for a simple request--- tell us 6 things about yourself. I said something like, "Don't hold your breath." Three days ago, my Flickr friend, Mosaic Hippie Chick, tagged me and requested 16 things about myself. Then a dear friend, who I hope to see in February, , tagged me for 25 things. OK, I give, but I am not tagging (thus cursing myself further) anyone.

  1. My one grandmother made me quilts, the other strudel... I have made both.
  2. at 6:15 this morning I found out that snow has given me a day off and that my best friend in Oregon found me in facebook. I can't say when I last heard from her.
  3. despite number 2, I am no fan of snow and would have rather had a sunny pleasant day at work glowing in the joy of being found by my friend.
  4. 20 months ago I did not blog or belong to flickr, facebook, lastFM, Folia, blotanical...
  5. a baptist once called me an anglo-catholic-catholic... he got it right.
  6. The cells in my body remembered yoga after being away for 20+ years.
  7. I know how to grow, harvest, roast, and eat anaheim green chiles.
  8. I favor jazz these days, but in the past in order, I have favored .. ELO, Pink Floyd, The Who, Bob Dylan, The Talking Heads, Nanci Griffith. However, I have always favored Johnny Cash.
  9. I wish I had never taken joy, peace, hope, or love out of another person's life.
  10. I worship a God, who I am not sure exists.
  11. I think God is OK with number 10.
  12. It seems to be a habit now... every summer I fall into silence for 8 days at a Jesuit Retreat Center.
  13. I have taught ... Biology, Geology, Anatomy, Physics, Ecology, and once at my first job, a non-lab Chemistry class. I have also taught other subjects.
  14. My first teaching job had me wearing a uniform and my hair was many many inches shorter... Valley Forge Military Academy.
  15. I once worked with my dad for a summer. That is why I have drafting tools and write in capital letters at times.
  16. I was not a scout for very long, but I did win a pinebox derby.
  17. The worst part of my job--- PAPER WORK.
  18. I have never had a pet with fur.
  19. I dig cats and dogs and other animals with fur.
  20. As an adult, I have moved away from too many friends PA- MA- OR- IL- PA. Now that I have settled down, I know how it feels to be left behind.
  21. I truly believe that one can heal from physical, emotional, and spiritual wounds.
  22. The sunflower in the photo grew taller in one summer, than I have in 45 years. I am glad I can still be amazed.
  23. A yellow-bellied sapsucker once snapped me out of feeling sorry for myself. I saw its presence as a gift.
  24. My mom used to make me banana cakes on my birthday. I married a woman who does not like bananas.
  25. I have had only 2 hair cuts since I started a horticulture program 12.5 years ago. Both were donations to locks of love
  26. and one for good luck... I don't cut myself as much in my glass studio these days... dang, did I curse myself again.... I love the uncertainty of my life that keeps unfolding, so for now that box filled with Band-Aids remains outside my studio.

Monday, January 26, 2009

stained glass --- bartering a bear paw quilt design

On Sunday I got to deliver this to the friend who saved my quilt top from a dresser drawer. The glass piece, without frame, measures 10" by 20"...

bear paw quilt in stained glass

Saturday, January 24, 2009

jazz with strings

In the beginning... I was in college and opening myself up to new music in ways that had never happened before. One of the jazz LP's I bought was Charlie Parker playing with strings. To be clear, he was playing his sax, while he played music with folk playing string instruments other than guitar or bass. Here he is playing about something many of us are longing for these days

Then there was a desire to have a CD of Marian McPartland playing her own music. No easy link to the music on her CD, Silent Pool, but check out NPR's longest-running and most widely carried jazz program, Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz. The way you get that honor is to live a long life and to keep playing.

But probably my favored jazz with strings CD may be Clifford Brown, an amazing trumpet player who sadly died on the Pennsylvania Turnpike at a way too young age in 1956.

Here is Blue Moon from that session where he played with strings.

My mind is on these things because I am excited about what I plan to be a witness. Jazz pianist and composer Billy Childs has written a piece of music to be played by his 6 piece band along with the Ying Quartet (need some non-jazz). Montgomery County Community College tells me that this will be the regional premiere of the piece.

and this post of many links will end with one more, no string quartet, but Mr. Child's plays an appropriate tune for this moment.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

to do list on a day off

It is 6:15 am and I never make this kind of list...

  • finish the epic stained glass project while listening to Victoria Williams
  • research the evolution of color vision while having a cup of coffee
  • make the seed order already
  • add 5 new photos to Flickr
  • e-mail the garden bloggers who I friended in my last post
  • pack up a stained glass... over at ETSY a person chose one of my pieces of the haystack and I did let myself feel pleased about that.
  • return to doing the daily examen already and not beat myself up for falling away from it.
  • plan out some meals and get the food to make them
  • clean up the kitchen so I can make one of those meals
  • exercise
  • make up a bag of under utilized warm clothing to donate to the Purple Heart folk
  • research plate tectonics
  • take a nap
  • hang out with Mosaic Woman

OK, 60 hours later and I look at the list. Most were completed or partially completed. I didn't plan on having to shovel snow (truly not in the forecast). I didn't expect a friend to call and say "can you send me a description of a gardening workshop, I want to take it to a meeting tonight" (will say more at a later date).

But... I didn't take a nap. I didn't do an examen.

However, last night I sat down with intent to be with God. As is typical, I felt glad that I said hello. It had been a long time.

Obama wants to know what we can do to help this country. Last night I prayed and asked God what I could do for his creation.

and yes, the epic project is done, except for hooks. I still have not seen it with sunshine pouring through. short days, I am so glad they are lengthening. Thus I have no photos, and they won't be shown here until Giggles sees it and I refuse to deliver it at night. Sunday?

Sunday, January 18, 2009


My name was recently listed under these words that is apparently floating about the internet...

"The Friends Award isn't about being the most popular blogger or having the most read blog. It is just because you consider the author a friend. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

Ignore that word "must" You must do nothing. what I hope you will do is feel my appreciation for your friendship. I wish I could break bread with you. Have a strudelfest and fly you all into town.

Gannet Girl friended me and if she hadn't, surely she would have made my list.

Lets start where Gannet Gal left off, with the woman behind Quantum Theology. She is off on a 30 day silent retreat and that is how we met. It was our mutual habit taking our own mugs while on silent retreats, which led to her finding Stratoz.

But before she found me, Jim over at Brainwaves stopped by and has stuck around. Dare I count all the early posts which show two comments, one from Jim, and one from me responding back... It kept Stratoz alive. The Holy Spirit just may have been flowing across the internet.

From the heart of Texas we have a southerner at Red Heeler Ranch Who I think would do well at my little strudelfest as long as she didn't stay over for a breakfast of pancakes and as long as none of you brought up problems with your love life. see her recent posts.

Than there is Kievas over at Sharing A Journey . He shares my desire to have others hear the music that touches his heart and so I venture into his music, and yet again the spirit flows.

And how about Kathryn who sends out colloquies. Now I need to know what a colloquy is... a trip to a dictionary helps me to understand one of her posts where she expressed her desire for more dialogue. Kathryn sent me the saddest e-mail I read in 2008. I am glad I got that news from a friend.

The friend who is most likely to become a movie star this year... Ruth who is unfolding as a work-in-progress. Now that her daughters are spying in on her blog, we may get more honest accounts of family events.

Ok, that's six, so lets change pace a bit and say this. If you didn't make this list, it in no way indicates your not being flown in for strudelfest.

Early on in Stratoz I tried to build some connections with garden bloggers. I don't know why, but those connections did not happen, however, there was one who stopped by every now and then...

Blackswamp Girl, those handful of comments have meant so much to me Those who love all things Jesuit, you got to check out this post at a study in contrast.

and now for number 8: I will stretch things the same way Gannet Girl did. In the short time I have made a new blog that eliminated jazz, worship, Jesuit sprituality, eating out and eating at home, stained glass, my friends, Mosaic Woman, and who knows what else that emerges from my thoughts here at Stratoz...

all that that is left is my day job, and many have greeted me ever so kindly. I will use this as a way to introduce them to Stratoz and say thanks for welcoming me into the land of the plant/garden obsessed bloggers. I feel at home already. To name a few of the many who have welcomed me...

Friday, January 16, 2009

worshiping with my body, it is becoming natural

Worship at the Jesuit Center was a new world for me. I was clearly an outsider. Becoming Episcopalian helped. Now years later I see worship differently.
Monday evening I met some friends at that Episcopal church and inspired by the words found in the writings of Saint Matthew, Joe Paprocki, and Frederick Buechner we spoke about worship.
Matthew tells us that Jesus refuted the third temptation he faced in the desert with these words..."The Lord your God shall you worship and him alone shall you serve"
Joe Paprocki in a Well-Built Faith speaks of worship as a place where we align ourselves with God and tells us that the word for worship in Hebrew (shachach) means "to bow before."
Monday at work a friend hands me Wishful Thinking by Buechner, a book I had loaned her years ago. I turn to the W's and read that as with any great love; joy and foolishness would best be found in the proceedings we call worship. I decide it will be read to my friends later that evening.
Tonight I meet with another group of friends at a Quaker Meeting House and I speak of how movement has become so important to me. I desire to bow down when I enter the sanctuary. I am drawn to kneel before the "high" altar and ask for renewal and cleansing when I receive the Eucharist in my outstretched hands. I love the feeling of my hands touching my friend's hands as I take the chalice to my lips, and Oh to cross myself at the mention of the Holy Trinity during the final blessing, my hand lingering at the center of my chest as I bow down filled with the hope that I have aligned myself with God.
Oh, I have changed.
and to have my friends travel along with me as I unfold is a blessing beyond even my imagination. Here is an unfolding dahlia to brighten the spirits of anyone else out there who is hoping to feel temperatures above freezing...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

99 pieces of glass, pick one up, 98 pieces to foil

There must be a better way to look at this step in the process of completing the epic stained glass project. and this drinking song needs to leave my head, so I listen to this...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

quilts and drafting tables, my youth carries onward

In my classroom I am likely to say "onward" when the present moment has taken us too far away from where I would like it to be. I say it often because I do let things flow at times to see where it will head. A technique that works much better than trying to control the class constantly.
So maybe onward is a bit like my lately favored term, "unfolding." And no matter which way you look at it my life it is moving on but still attached strongly to the past.
A grandma who quilted, a father who drafted, and a young boy who doodled. Two posts back, I showed a stained glass design for a friend and hinted that she did something huge. this is it...

She did not piece this thing together. I did. You see I was going to become a quilter (well I guess I did and I am one) and took a class. A quilt top was completed and all that was needed to quilt it, was purchased. I imagined designing my own quilts. Then I took a class in stained glass and maybe that was the wrong path or the right path... but it was the path I have taken (for now). The quilt top was put in a dresser drawer, the supplies in my studio closet. Than I told my friend, who is a quilter, about it. This most likely happened inside my church and if I remember I was chastised with no mercy. Probably not, but it felt that way. Eventually she got the top and the supplies... and spent quite a bit of time completing what now drapes over my couch.

so there are 99 pieces of glass on a piece of homosote waiting to be foiled and soldered, and then framed and delivered. 


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My job --- a blessing and a good gig

I stumbled into teaching and there have been jobs along the way that I would not have described as a blessing or a good gig. But now I do say such things about my job. Sadly blessings and good gigs don't mean perfect and trouble free. Angst still arises, but I am in awe that my professional life has landed. I continue to leave this blog open to all who can stumble here and apparently at least one student and his family has done just that. My science classes are often interrupted with back in the day stories of life growing up or in Oregon or in Massachusetts or in Illinois. Do I wish for my students to be reading this blog? Not really, but is it the end of the world? Just like I don't wish they would knock on my front door. But I would not slam the door in their face if they did. In the latter case I would explain what is private and what is public. But the truth is I keep this blog public, so all I can do is keep it a place where I would bore them to death. That is my hope.
Now I have gone public with my life at work. With permission from the leaders at the school, I have started a blog about the horticulture program. Here is a photo from 2002 of me at the school. It was taken and given to me by friend who has retired and moved to Canada. My hair had grown out, but had not yet turned gray. I am planting bulbs. Mosaic Woman keeps it on her dresser top, apparently it is favored by her too.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

trying to focus away from the shoulds into what can be done

After being passed by all the Rocky Balboa wannabes on the steps leading up to the Philly art museum, I let Mosaic Woman take a photo of me "looking less than hip and maybe a bit old." We had just had quite a filling meal at Zorba's Greek Restaurant so between a full belly and age I was no challenge to the joggers. I did remember to hand the camera over to Mosaic Woman and went over to rest on a larger than life pillar. I've been thinking a bit lately on my ability to keep focused. It's not easy.

But I believe it is what we are called to do, so I kept trying to pull myself back today, especially in church. My mind wonders away and away again. If I am there to worship God, then why am I thinking about a blog post or what is for dinner (Black bean soup).
All day "shoulds" have been floating into my brain. It is the last day of a long break and so there is the list of things I had hoped to do and should do before it is over, and a list of things I should do to get ready to go to the school tomorrow. And the seed order hangs over my head and the Eagles made the playoffs, so I combine those two activities with soup making and weed down the flower choices as the game and dinner goes in our favor. Sometimes shoulds do move us into a needed action, but they can also distract us from the present moment. There is a line there to be drawn.
And the "epic project" moves on with only 17 of the 91 pieces left to cut out of glass. I based it on a quilt square called "Bear's Paw" and since she asked for a peek here is the original design still on the drawing table...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Epic Stained Glass--- no less will do for Giggles

It is epic for me. when it is done it will have 99 pieces inside of 120 square inches. She must have done something nice... future post.
It involved cleaning up my studio so I could sit at a drafting board. Lots of erasure dust is about. a bit of research on a quilt pattern. adapting it to make it my own. getting it photocopied, cutting out 99 pattern pieces...
But today I got to picking out glass and cut out most of the larger pieces. She wants to be surprised... so no images allowed

Youghiogheny Stained Glass--- Nothing but the best for Bert..

I made this for my father-in-law. It gets shipped on Saturday...

Youghiogheny is a word I know from studying about my home state. It is a river out by Fallingwater. But it is also home of a company which makes some of the finest stained glass in the world, in the style of Tiffany.

Glass--- a toast to the New Year

after facing a mighty windchill and some extroverts at Nadia Thai in Lansdale... we eventually toasted the New Year. May it be a year filled with moments...
Marie Brizard Parfait Amour... product of France

... "An unexpected encounter of Spanish oranges, violets and vanilla from Madagascar"

setting up a shop

All pieces are my original d
esigns and can be shipped to you by priority mail with plenty of support and bubble wrap.

My stained glass and mosaic hearts come in a variety of sizes and colors. Purchase Here.

My sun catchers have been described as stars and flowers and I call them starflowers. They come with different number points and pieces and some have a hollow a center. My framed pieces are often the only places you see straight lines. Purchase them here.

Collaborations with my wife, mosaic artist Margaret Almon: I design and cut out the pieces for the letters. She takes it from there... You can buy them here.

My wife and I truly enjoy making mandalas as part of our spiritual practice. Check them out here.