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

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


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.

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?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hope and Coloring For The Troubled Soul

Saturday night I got one of those calls that takes one into despair.  My sister, who had survived and battled back from two strokes and stage 4 ovarian cancer (over five years ago), had had a stroke while worshiping at her church.

She could be worse.  She could be better.  She knows she can heal.  She believes in a God who loves us and I hope she will find strength and courage once again.

Sunday I found myself coloring.  I wanted to get a coloring book onto etsy.  I ran short of time.  Monday I colored some more.  As I colored my brain floated to my concern for my sister.  I was ready to advertise that coloring soothes our troubles mind, lifts our spirit.  For years I have promoted sending mandalas to those in need.  By the time the etsy post had been made, I had created six mandalas for my sister.

If you read this post and are moved to color in my mandalas, here is the link

Peace and hope.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

To Show or Not to Show, that is the question at hand

We (Nutmeg Designs) have had some amazing days and moments at craft shows, but we also have had disappointing and grand weekends wishing we were home finishing up commissions in the studio, or having friends over for pizza, or being rested for teaching, or going to a movie...

So we are going to look at data and combine it with our emotions to come up with what will likely be a less than perfect plan.  Here is data number one.  Margaret compiled a list of super customers, folk who have shown continued support of our art.  I was convinced that shows would be minor, but to my dismay the only thing that beat it out was friends made at work.  So clearly I have to keep my day job of teaching and keep doing shows.  Well, I knew that already.

But we will be doing less shows.  Our white board of commissionshas had a steady list on it for many months and we trusted that that would not change, so we signed up for far less shows during the holiday rush.   (take your imagination into our studio with your very own commission)  Who knows, maybe we will get to a movie.

My day job is still needed, but we feel little pressure for Mosaic Woman to get a gig.

But wait, lets add up those friends... 61.30% of our super customers are friends that have emerged from many a place.  No wonder I have made pizza for 48 friends in 2012 and still have many people on the "I want to have them over" list.  And being a super client is not required to be invited.

at the end of the year we will examine our sales from 2012 using some new software.  More data!