Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z is for Zoogenesis

what a face!

Lets end this month of a to z with a beginning, which is a mystery and though best guesses may approach what happened when the first "animal" emerged on the Earth, we will never know for sure. I dig that.

When my students enter into a biology class they sit as I tell 7 origin hypothesis/myths. Then I make my claim that it will always be a mystery. I say, "Even if life is created in a lab, that does not prove that that is the way it happened on the Earth." I encourage them to enjoy that some things will always be a mystery and then encourage them to feel free to believe what they want to believe.

Then I say, "Now lets enter the realm of what biologists have discovered about life ever since it mysteriously came into being."

and that ends it, with a beginning I love.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

X is for xylem

47  245/365  a new place to creep

why was it that for years I knew that trees got water from their root?

And then I knew that the water traveled by tubes called xylem, and that these tubes made up what we call wood and are responsible for the annual rings.

But why did I never ask... How does the water travel up the xylem?

short answer: it is pulled by the air outside the leaves

longer answer

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for Violet

blue horizon ageratum

Violet is not purple.

Purple is the amazing thing that happens when the two ends of the visible spectrum are blended. Violet plus red is purple.

That is all I have to say. Thanks for listening.

Monday, April 25, 2011

U is for Utterly Unexpected Utterance

47  249/365  a new cross design by Margaret

And though some may feel I am going to talk about my late night rambles, which I think make me adoring; or my left turns into nonsense inside my classroom, which clearly make me entertaining ... I am not going there.

A few days ago we were checking the Google Analytic stats to see what keywords have brought those who search the internet, to our Etsy Shop.

"How to mosaic like Margaret Almon" Is someone out there copying Mosaic Woman's style? Now we find that kind of flattering. Maybe they were just wondering what substrates, glue, and glass she uses. We will most likely never know.

But this came to mind: Being John Malkovich.

So for my Utterly Unexpected Utterance: I have been searching for a portal that will allow people to enter into Mosaic Woman's mind so they can obtain her mosaic secrets. There will be a hefty fee and it will likely drop you out in a SEPTA Regional Rail maintenance area.

But instead, I encourage folk to be inspired by the art you love but to play with your art. Enjoy being yourself and have a good day of it.

peace and hope and also the joy of playing with colors

Sunday, April 24, 2011

T is for Tree Views

47 264/365 Oregon 1992 -- Resting tree

This photo showed up in my Oregon post this past Wednesday. It's back

I remember the amazement of coming across this scene. and that may be the best way to view it.

But I also have to wonder about the force it took for the water to place it there. The reoded hillside says more about that force. I wonder how intertidal critters have reacted to a tree being thrown into their space. Where did it die? What current brought it to this beach? Was it a storm or just a normal high tide that lifted it up.

And what would an artist make of this. How many other lifted cameras. What would happen if one lifted a brush to paint it on canvas? And a poet, essayist, or story teller would create what if that sat down and lifted their pencils to the scene.

But it is Easter and I am thinking about the spiritual force needed to lift up all men and women.

May scientific, artistic, and spiritual folk continue to see this world and share their responses with me.

And of course one must consider jazz too:

ahh, may your dreams tonight be filled with trees...


Saturday, April 23, 2011

S is for Signs: House Numbers That Show off Your Address

Our collaborations are getting around: Two in California, one in Wisconsin, and several here in southeast Pennsylvania. Here are some samples. Get info about buying your house a number.

House Number 418

47  171/365  one for us

Custom Mosaic House Number 217

Friday, April 22, 2011

R is for Rivetto, a fine way to toast a Big Date

Mosaic Woman, who posted on Rukeyser, and I went to Philly yesterday to spend some of the money in a big date fund. The date: to celebrate the 24th anniversary of our first date on the full moon of April.

The meal we had was at Tria where you can share tapas with a person you have shared your life. We had had a sweet snack earlier in the big date and had refrained from alcohol with the meal, so we went with some dessert wine. I was enticed by one that had bark in it. The Rivetto Winery makes a variety of Barola, called chinato, which is unique because of the inclusion of Quinine Bark (translated in Italian as china, hence the wines name chinato). Who knew?

Anyway, the fund--- if our mosaic and stained glass business has a good month, which means we have made enough sales to add a required deposit into our regular budget and to cover business expenses, then we put a percentage of what is left into the big Date Fund, with which we can occasionally go hear some jazz or have a beverage from Italy.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Q is for Quit, Quality, and Quintet

Quitting can be positive, as one blogger put it recently... Blogging every day about a LETTER is destroying my blog quality. So step way, and they did. I have survived so far by falling a letter behind and doing a few reversals of letters.

We are called to become our true selves and that takes much quitting. The hard part is seeing what habits, attitudes, and people are holding us back. Stoicism seemed like a great friend, and can be, but I may have had a bit too much residing in my soul. Blogging without words about Oregon yesterday reminded me about quitting too. It was there that I gave up what took years to step away from, yes, stepping away, another hard part.

But stepping away brings us quality, which I will not try to explain (if I remember properly, in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig described a mental breakdown he had when he tried to understand quality).

But my life has improved by being a quitter and hopefully people get a sense of that when they meet me (not just the stuff I still need to walk away from).

The Jesuits have taught me to see it this way. Walk towards the people, places, and things that guide you to God. It ain't easy, but you deserve it.

Joy, Hope, Peace, and Love.

And a quintet answers the question, What about me, could my life get better if I quit?

After writing the title to this blog, it reminded me of the title of a favored standard.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P is for Photos by Purpleface and Paul

My photos don't do them justice, but I love the work by these photographers and I am glad that now that P has rolled around (doing O tomorrow) I remembered that I wanted it to be for two great photographers.

Paul Grecian is one of those people who it is an honor to be at a craft show with because his work is amazing. We loved his work even before we did our first show, before he became our friend, before I lined up to spend this Friday hanging out with the man at one of my favorite places.

Mosaic Woman allowed me the pleasure of picking out one of his photos, we chose Seating For Two ( I say we because I knew she loved the photo and waxwings). But I got to say that Downward Facing Dog (not what you will expect) among others were high on the list.

Friend Paul's art at Facebook.

Purpleface (Sarah Lewis) first entered my life at Flickr, then twitter, then facebook, then my studio. Well her photo is there and it has a special location on the top of a very special book case. On the side of the case are notes from a retreat at The Jesuit Center. Below the photo are many types of stained glass and below that my collection of books on spirituality... That white grid thing is where I cut glass, so Purpleface is close by when I am cutting and grinding glass.

Purpleface said something kind about a stained glass heart I had made, so I thought: Fair Trade Across the Atlantic. But then I had to choose a photo. Life can be hard when you hang out with such talented folk. It was not the speediest of transactions but it sure was joyful when we each finally had art from the other.

The photo is called Crisp, and a much more crisp shot can be seen here.

Friend her art at Facebook. She is one of the best friends I have never met.

Monday, April 18, 2011

M is for a special Mandala

"I can hardly find the words to describe how it affects me to look at it. I can feel the healing energy and it touches me very deeply. Thank you for creating tangent pieces of healing for the world. Blessing on you and peace to Dr. Ed's soul." Anne Mascelli

Here is the secret to Mandalas: Draw a circle. Fill it with love and hope. Your work is done.

Or it may be the beginning of your work.

Often I draw mandalas for friends and send them off, but one day I sat down a drew a design to make out of stained glass.

The last time I saw my friend in public he walked slowly away from our booth carrying a bag with a mandala.

In his memory, I name the design after him.

His wife and two daughters leave our booth carrying a bag with two mandalas.

A woman I never met before leaves our booth with tears in her eyes and a mandala. She has handed me her story of cancer taking a loved one and gratitude for my work.

Friends of Ed hang mandalas in their homes.

My work place is dedicating a space to the man and a mandala will be there.

I love to say that I joined twitter to sell our craft, but instead I ran into jazz musicians. Recently a jazz singer, Andrea Wolper made it known to me that she was interested in buying some stained glass. I thought it was for herself, but when she chose a piece, I found out it was for a friend. Now what is the chance that her friend would happen to be a spiritual director, who has been to a place I blog about often. Anne Mascelli has kindly let me quote her recent e-mails.

"The more I look at the mandala the more it draws me in. I feel like it somehow expresses who I am at a very deep level. I think it is a testament to the connection Andrea and I have, from over 20 years of friendship, that she chose this mandala for me. I think I will be seeing more and more in it for a very long time." Anne Mascelli

The Jesuits ask me to imagine things, so how about this---- One day I am sitting at a table sharing spiritual journeys with Anne, when the lights dim, Andrea begins to sing, and Dr Ed's soul smiles upon us.

Like I said, "draw a circle..."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

7 for the weekend--- The letter N

47 252/365  Nevelson's Sky Cathedral

1. Nevelson's Sky Cathedral and we saw it in DC.

2. Nebraska: The place our U-Haul broke down as we moved from Oregon to Illinois, but also the land of Sand Hill Cranes:

3. New Thought: as light replaces bitterness I had a great idea to get lots of students involved in the garden this summer, even if my schedule will not allow me to be with them as much as I would like.

4. Norah's Nearness:

5. Northern Lights--- Something that I have never seen which I think would bring me joy:

6. Northern Flicker: Something I have seen many a time and always brings me joy:

7. a man a bit like you and a bit like me:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

L is for Light Out of Darkness

47  229/365  Looking up in DC

Strange day at work. Something was happening that made many people think I should be happy, and maybe I could have been happy about it, but I was more on the bitter side of things. Then a student asked, "Why are we bothering to do this?" and hope emerged, "Because maybe in the future we will be ..." It was a moment of light that lifted me up a bit.


In 1801 Thomas Young theorized that humans could not see all the wavelengths of light. He was right. There are animals that can see what we can't, but we can see more than most mammals, which as a group lost color vision--- don't use it, you will lose it--- because they were nocturnal. But a mutation gave us the chance to emerge from darkness, and a primate took it and made a run for it.


I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12).


In 1993 Shirley Horn released a CD called Light Out of Darkness. Can you imagine a better title to a tribute to Ray Charles? Can you imagine Ray Charles singing with a frog?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jazz on Tuesdays--- K is for Kickstarter

Mosaic Woman took care of J is for Jazz, so I will do J tomorrow.

It is all about supporting artists and becoming a part of their success. Launching their success. It is about musicians, who want to pay their band and their engineers a good salary. It is about dreams that have been percolating in a creative mind that is connected to a soul lacking funds. It is about being joyful when success is reached. It may one day be about the sadness of a project that does not get funding. I hope to miss out on that feeling. So far we are four for four. It all happens at Kickstarter.

The second project was jazz by Jim Kuermmerle. Blogged here. The project is complete. The music is amazing.

The third project was fully funded so it was recorded last weekend. The leader, a bass player by the name of Daniel Ori.

The fourth project was one I began to have doubts in being success. Pledges were flowing in but time was running out. My hope was that someone out there was waiting with a big check to push Reginald Cyntje over the top. Well I just read his blog post about all the hard work it took.

This morning I was stopped by a long red light and a commuter train and the news was not inspiring me, so I grabbed the iPod and wondered what to listen to, what to listen to??? Well my new twitter friend, spoonysdiary (great music blog) was talking about Jason Parker. Yes, Jason was our first project at Kickstarter and the only one I had with me. I never got past the first tune on this tribute to the songs of Nick Drake. It was so perfect for a morning commute (and then an afternoon commute) it played over and over. Jason hands over the feel of the album to his band. In fact, he appears to have trusted his piano player immensely with making a first impression. Then the drums and bass enter in and when the singer showed up I was fully enraptured. Jason's trumpet does not come in until after a few minutes, but it shows that he was listening to what his band was up to and his playing melted my heart.

and the Nick Drake Lyrics that resonated with my troubled mind:

Time has told me
You’re a rare, rare find
A troubled cure
For a troubled mind
And time has told me
Not to ask for more
For someday our Ocean
Will find it’s shore
So I’ll leave the ways of making me be
What I really don’t want to be
Leave the ways that are making me love
What I really don’t want to love
Time has told me
You came with the dawn
A soul with no footprint
A rose with no thorn
Your tears they tell me
There’s really no way
Of ending your troubles
With things you can say
And time will tell you
To stay by my side
To keep on trying
‘til theres no more to hide
So leave the ways that are making you be
What you really don’t want to be
Leave the ways that are making you love
What you really don’t want to love
Time has told me
You’re a rare, rare find
A troubled cure
For a troubled mind
And time has told me
Not to ask for more
For someday our ocean
Will find its shore

Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for Iluak the Inuksuk

The Talisman dude has been blessing my life ever since a friend made it for Mosaic Woman ( I is for Iridized Glass.) and myself to bring us good luck on our journey from Oregon to Illinois in 1993. He has been with me ever since. When we moved into our own home, he made his way into my studio.

The other week, I did a favor for my friend, Snowcatcher, and she paid it back ten fold by offering up one of creations. As I gazed over the photos, a certain character caught my eye--->

Iluak is an Inuksuk. So I had to look it up because apparently my memory for the word given to Inuit stone figures had left my memory. I placed Iluak on top of the mirror which the Talisman dude hangs. Neither seemed to happy to be photographed there, so I plopped them down on top of the dresser and on to the pattern of our most recent collaboration:

Saturday, April 9, 2011

H is for Hopes of 2011 Revisited

47  148/365  Peace Be with You

I started the year with many a hope. Here is how they are going:

1. Bicycling: trying to imagine the time to fit this in but also trying to imagine not getting onto a bike this summer. I tried to exercise a bit more this winter, we will see.

2. The Examen: to say I have done it every night would be a lie, but getting off the computer earlier has led to more drumming and more praying.

3. Thanksgiving--- No Craft Shows, No Craft Shows, No Craft Shows.

4. Gardening: I did get out to clean up the front yard and have much gumption to do more. March was cold and wet unlike last year when Spring emerged much faster than expected.

5. Hospitality: We have had some friends over. Failed to get some others over. Made future plans with a friend and hope to invite more.

6. Year of the Mandalas: I sold the only peace mandala I have made (yes, I need to make another) and have sold one Dr Ed Mandala. Our mosaic mandalas have been drawing folk into the booth at our 2011 shows and some have been drawn into new homes in the process.

7. Jazz: Snows, which closed some local districts 5 or more times, only closed us once, so our school year has not been extended which means we may yet make it to the Rochester Jazz Festival this year. Tonight, Bobby Zankel plays at MCCC.

8. We have left outer space and I have been enjoying teaching about this amazing planet to my students. Latest topic was Fridays lesson on upwelling, or when cold rises and fish bloom.

9. Eating in: We have been doing more of it as required by our budget. Can't wait to have veggies from our back yard and from Lansdale's farmers market. As I sit here Mosaic Woman is making me waffles and was that the coffee grinder that is calling my name. I am as bad as a cat with a can opener.

10. Declutter. With the help of the FlyLady, we are doing much better at this. Though I need to help more with this life changing challenge.

and as for this hope that emerged, maybe I should grab my binoculars and ....

How is your 2011 emerging?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Shockingly, G is for GLASS

47  158/365  what the glass asked to become

1. the blue-green glass that called out to be a mosaic got some wonderful compliments during the spring shows ~ more mandalas in my shop

2. Glass City Jazz:

3. Mosaic Woman's highly favored Glass... G is for Gold Smalti

4. Our Favorite Museum: Hate to shock you again, but we dig The Corning Museum of Glass where you can see:

glass mosaic of Theodore Roosevelt-- closer yet

Lino's Spirale, 1994

Tiffany at Corning

Maria Lugossy Cosmic Dream 1

5. Recently I taught my students about how the natural resources of the state influenced its development. One mentioned locale: Pittsburgh became king of glass by the 1800's because of the right type of sandstone and plenty of cheap fuel to transform it into glass.

6. Can I talk about glass without saying: Youghiogheny?

Nope. Which by the way is also the name of one of the best white water rafting locations in PA.

7. and why we call our newsletter (sign up here) No Bare Feet:

no bare feet