Saturday, January 31, 2009

Camera Critters 43

Camera Critters

It's Camera Critters time!

Today it's birding in the backyard featuring the Eurasian Collard Dove.

We have a pair of Eurasian Collard Doves that visit us every morning.

They are beautiful.
One is camera shy.
The other seems to like having his picture taken.

They were the last of the birds to return after the hurricane.

Eurasian collared doves have been expanding their range for centuries through natural dispersal and human introduction. These natives of India began showing up in Turkey about 400 years ago, then moved into China and Japan. They arrived in Europe in the early 1900’s, in Britain by mid-century.

A caged-bird breeder brought Eurasian collard doves to the Bahamas in the mid-1970s, and those birds were released into the wild during a burglary. They spread to Florida by the late 1980s and to Louisiana by the early 1990s. The Texas Birds Records Committee first documented the birds in 1995, and today they are in every coastal county and throughout the state, though more prevalent in urban than in rural areas.

(Information from an article written by Gary Clark for the Houston Chronicle. Pictures were taken by me and Mr. Dragon on Thursday, January 29, 2009 in our backyard.)

Friday, January 30, 2009

I Have A Cold

What a title for a post! I Have A Cold. Well, I do. And this too shall pass. I know that. Meanwhile, I feel sorry for myself!

Quite a lead in for Surrendering to Creative Cycles, the next chapter in The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin. The cold is a cycle of sorts -- it will end and I'll feel better about everything! Cycles I understand. By the time you have lived 5 decades on the earth, cycles became a part of you. Listening to the moon. Enjoying the seasons. Which brings me around to another quote I remind myself of often. It comes from Gardening At The Dragon's Gate. It goes something like this: "all four seasons of the year are present in the span of one day. Thus, spring is the dawn of the day, full summer is high noon, autumn falls at dusk and father winter oversees the midnight hour." Life is the same. I'm at the end of summer and entering autumn. I am nearing a crone and proud of it. I actually believe, at times, that I will make a terrific wise woman!

Creativity follows cycles, too. I wasn't very creative this last week and I'm blaming it on my cold, but I did get one journal page done.

This is Teddy. I moved the chair so that I could put my journal in it to take a picture. He decided that it was his chair and if any picture was to be taken it would be of him. Look at his eyes! Too funny!

Monday was the Lunar New Year 4707 - the year of the Ox. I am an Ox -- calm, hard working, with a resolve and a tenacity that at times is tiring! I didn't like how my stencils in the corners turned out -- too much paint (even though I thought I used very little) so I wrote over them.

My word for the year is LISTEN. There's a message to the cycles in my life -- LISTEN!

Happy Day Everyone!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! It's the year of the Ox and I'm an Ox. I'm looking for good things as I will also celebrate my 60th birthday during the year. YeeeeeHaaaaaw!!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Camera Critters 42

Camera Critters

It's Camera Critters time again. We've gone from the zoo (last week) back to our own back yard this week. These pictures were all taken earlier in the year and perhaps last year. At any rate, before Hurricane Ike. Seems like we are dating everything BI (before Ike) or AI (after Ike). I am pleased to report that all our bird friends made it through the storm and are back in our backyard at feeding time.

Ma and Pa cardinal have raised several little ones from a nest
in our duranta. Dad is sitting on a cage that we had
around a lime tree.

Mourning Dove

We were out working in another area of our postage stamp
backyard and were late feeding.
Normally, we do not feed on the ground, but the
birds were in such a hurry and making such a racket
that we tossed seed wherever!

Blue Jay and Sparrow

See you next week!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Engaging Your Creativity

Today the group at The Next Chapter is talking about Engaging Your Creativity, Chapter 3 in the book 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin. I read a few of the comments this morning that my fellow members made, and found that I wasn't the only one who wasn't turned on by this chapter. Some of this may be my age. I'll be 60 this year and I've been through the pains of working in jobs that didn't interest me and spent a lot of time wondering where I'd gone wrong. I just fell into my profession. I worked in a hospital while I was going to university and once I graduated I just continued in the medical profession. I made a living wage and met Mr. Dragon - so not all was bad. And, it wasn't bad, just didn't *turn me on*. But I was successful enough to be able to retire (thank you Mr. Dragon), became a professional volunteer, which I really enjoyed, working with Ronald McDonald House, art centers, humane shelters. It really wasn't until the last 10 years that I've been able to do what I really wanted to do -- Asian art. Again, it's volunteer (mostly) -- doing research for the curators in asian art and is especially exciting right now because the galleries are moving into larger space. Lot's of research to do and I love it. I get to "lecture" (with a very little L) to the docents and try to teach them why I am so excited by this art -- ancient and modern.

I did relate to Jolen Godfrey (Independent Means, Inc.) when she said, 'For the last 20 years, I have watched when I have begun to bounce off walls, and that's real information that things are not great. Rather than put up with a really dysfunctional, unhappy life, I have at least been able to say, 'Uh-oh, things aren't right here, and I need to find something that will make me sane and more at peace with myself." Amen! That's usually when I'd start a new yarn project of some kind and escape into the meditation of the project -- calm, serene work.

I did find a few quotes that I especially liked, but have to say that my favorite was one by Dolly Parton, "The way I see it, if you want the rainbow you gotta put up with the rain."

This brings me back to last week and my list of things I love. I prepared the journal page (above) and have started to list them there (sorry,no picture -- I ran out of time today). Here they are (so far):
  • teddy bears
  • museums (all kinds)
  • books, libraries, used book stores
  • dragons, wizards, fairies, magic, science fiction, fantasy
  • laughter
  • art, yarn, crochet, knitting
  • nature, birds, trees, critters, oceans, rivers, snow, flowers, waterfalls
  • kitties,puppies, pets
  • tea, tea pots
  • soup
  • Buddhism, meditation
  • the color green
  • anthropology
  • the zoo
  • chickens, deer
  • cookies, jamoca almond fudge ice cream
  • chocolate
  • candles
  • ceramics, hand built/thrown pots
  • butterflies, dragon flies
  • Chinese and Thai food, sushi
  • music
  • pink plastic flamingoes
  • picnics
  • college baseball, hot air ballooning
  • champagne
  • gardens
  • snowmen
  • walking barefoot
I'll leave you today with a quote from OFFERINGS: Buddhist Wisdom For Everyday:

"On the day that you were born, you began to die.
Do not waste a single moment more!"
~Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gardening at the Dragon's Gate

I love January. It's the month when all the seed catalogs arrive and millions of gardeners begin to dream about the new plants that will be in their gardens. I understand that the seed companies believe this will be a big year, because of the economy, for first time gardeners who want to grow their own veggies.

My favorite seed catalogs are Cooks Garden and Seeds of Change, but I must tell you about a company I just read about --Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. It was started by a young couple in the Missouri Ozarks. The company is 12 years old and I'm just discovering them. I believe deeply in heritage preservation -- in seeds and livestock (one of the reasons we have an heirloom turkey at Thanksgiving despite the expense). I will add the Baker Creek link to my Link Mania sidebar today! You can visit them here.

I bet some of you thought, when you saw the title for this post, that I was talking about our garden. After all, the dragons do live here! Nope. Gardening at the Dragon's Gate by Wendy Johnson is about Wendy's experience as a gardener at the Green Gulch Farm and Zen Center in northern California. I read this book over the summer slowly devouring it. Everything is here from geology to preparing the soil to farmers markets to mushrooms to insects (good and bad) to, well you get the idea. All of this plus a little Zen. Johnson has spent 30 years at Green Gulch. The book is a celebration of inner and outer growth. I enjoyed the book. It was a little slow in parts -- lets say weighted down with necessary information that I wasn't interested in (even when maybe I should have been). I love the resources at the end of the book that are in chapter order and include references on books, articles, web sites from everything imaginable in the gardening and Buddhist world. It will take me years to read all of the information I have *bookmarked*.

Here are just a few of the quotes I have taken from the book that *grabbed* me.

"A day of no work is a day of no eating." ~old Zen proverb.

"You enter the garden because you love creation." ~Alan Chadwick (one of Wendy's teachers).

"Plants grow and purify the air, they clean toxins out of polluted soil, they make food and medicine that support all animal life, and they supply the world with fuel, clothing, tools, shelter, warmth and beauty from their growth and metabolism."

"Every garden is unique, quirky, distinct and disobedient, just like every gardener..."

"Watering is a form of courtship...".

"...all four seasons of the year are present in the span of one day. Thus, spring is the dawn of the day, full summer is high noon, autumn falls at dusk and father winter oversees the midnight hour."

And lastly, my favorite, "You are fine just as you are,' Suzuki Roshi used to say (another of her teachers), 'and you could use a little improvement." Me too!

I've had great fun the last couple of days visiting the folks on the gypsy caravan in the One World One Heart giveaway. There are well over 500 bloggers participating. I have almost visited each blog and once I do, I'll go back and spend more time with, I hope, each and every one. The world is full of talented and interesting people. It has been great fun to *meet* many generous souls. You can find the list by clicking on the image on the sidebar. Thank you, Lisa, for putting the gypsy caravan together!

Monday, January 19, 2009

One World One Heart Giveaway!

The winners have been announced! Please go here to see who won!
Thanks for playing and I hope to see you next year!

Today is the day for the One World One Heart Giveaway. Use the link above to travel to the gypsy caravan to see the exciting goings-on!

I'm giving away (insert your own drum roll here) a hand-knitted (by me) spa set. The set includes a bath mitt, wash cloth, soap holder and soap. It is knitted in 100% cotton thread. There will also be a few surprises included! You must leave a comment here on this post by midnight February 11 to be part of the drawing that will be held at noon CST on February 12. Winners will be announced here. Just one comment please per person. Please make sure I have a way of contacting you if you are the winner! I won't go searching for you! If I don't hear from you in 72 hours another name will be pulled from the hat.

Spa Set

But that's not all! There will also be a drawing for a wash cloth and soap holder (with soap).

How's that? A chance for one of three prizes with one comment! Can't beat that! But more than anything, visiting One Heart One World will lead you to other blogs, new to you blogs, a chance to meet other folks and see what they are up to. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Camera Critters 41

Camera Critters

It's Saturday and it's time for Camera Critters!


Last Saturday we went to a special members morning at the zoo. We started in the Kipp Aquarium with coffee and juice and watched feeding of the eels (fish) and the octopus (large whole crab). Sorry, no pictures. Too many people heads in the way. We did get this picture of a sea horse. If you look closely you'll see him on the left.

Spot, the ray is one of the many zoo animals up for adoption by members.
Go here for information about the zoo's baby rays.

When we finished in the aquarium it was time for breakfast and we all went to the auditorium and just inside the door was a real treat -- Deano the 500lb Pacific Sea Lion. Deano was FedExed to the zoo from Hawaii. He is 25 years old and if you look closely you'll see that the old guy has cataracts. A vet opthalmologist checks in on Deano frequently to make sure he has no pain. The young girl Sea Lions just love Deano and so do we!


More information on *our* zoo can be found at

See you next week!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Week Two: Secrets of Highly Creative Women

First, No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. Life just interrupts our plans sometimes. The good news is we have finished the repairs and painting downstairs left from Hurricane Ike. We started on the upstairs this week including getting a new computer - finding a place for it and moving data from the old computer to the new. I've spent the day going through file cabinets and shredding. The shredder and I have developed a relationship! I feed it and, so far, it enjoys it!

Today marked Chapter Two over at The Next Chapter of 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin. Chapter Two is about honoring your inspirations. There are several keys involved including practicing play, communing with your senses and nature, creating a sanctuary, and inventing rituals.

Sanctuary really hit home for me along with communing with nature. I've posted before about our sanctuary garden (Musashi's Garden). Playing in the dirt has always been important for me. I remember being very young and quite taken with being outside and planting something -- watching it grow. Playing in the dirt is relaxing for me. It lets me escape from the daily *junk* into another reality. Ideas, creativity -- also seeds that are planted and grow.

This is the background for my next journal page. This time I remembered to take a picture of it before I started with the collage elements.

This is the page with the collage elements added. I will journal this weekend. I have to admit that I really like the page the way it is! My added words may be very brief! The Buddha is a garden Buddha. The bird and flower are from a piece of wrapping paper I've been saving for years. It is old and somewhat fragile (one of the reasons I didn't cut too much around the flower and bird). Once again I had the idea for the journal page before I read Chapter Two and I'm delighted that they fit so well together. Sanctuary in the garden and in my home -- with candles burning, ideas flowing, new insights and ideas.

Once again I made note of a couple of my favorite quotes from the chapter: "Imagination is the highest kite we can fly.' (Lauren Bacall) and 'Nobody can be exactly like me. Sometimes I even have trouble doing it." (Tallulah Bankhead).

Jamie suggested we make a list of the things we love. I'm going to start my list this evening. I'm afraid I won't know where to stop!

This evening I'm taking a break from the shredding and back to the crocheting.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Camera Critters

 This is my first post for this meme. I love critters of all sorts and I'm glad I saw Camera Critters on my friend's blog: Remembrances of an Arkansas Stamper.

This is Rocky. I've posted about Rocky and his sister, Riley before. Rock is 2 years old and is my little sugar dumpling. This is a recent photo. I caught him wide awake in his basket. He and his sister are still pretty wild. They don't like too much human touching although Rocky does wake me up at 2:30 in the morning to be petted! Purring away and grabbing at the covers with his paws to find a hand! It was unusual for him to be so still for picture taking. Perhaps this means he thinks living here isn't all that bad!

Mr. Dragon and I went to the zoo this morning. The pictures haven't been downloaded yet. Show and tell next week!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Journal Page

This is a journal page I finished late last night. My old friend the Universe must be on my mind because it is the theme of the page. I'm sorry I didn't take a picture before I added the collage elements. I really liked the paint application.

I found representations of the Universe: the Eagle Nebula, Saturn, Jupiter and the Galileo module, the Crab Nebula, the human brain, a fossilized ammonite shell. The universe within and without. The journaling includes information about each.

There is also a story here. In late December I was visiting Dragonfly Reflections and found a post about messages from the universe and the web site I now receive a daily message from the Universe by way of Tut and have included parts of them on this page. Things like:
"It's within you. The answers you seek. The direction you want." and "the power to be whoever you want to be. Your dreams are not yours by mere whim. They've been matched to your gifts... Listen (that's my word for the year) to your heart. You have the right stuff."

The Next Chapter started today with the first chapter from The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin. One of the sentences I marked to quote is: "your creative self is alive and waiting for your invitation to evolve. Dare to embrace your creative self and manifest your dreams." Interesting how the journal page came first and then the reading of this book.

Oh, great Universe. I get the message. Listen it is! Create! Play in the garden! Paint! Knit! Yippee!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Dick's Art

The real artist in the family is Mr. Dragon. Here are three of the projects he worked on last semester. I thought I should post them before the new semester starts. He also did some wonderful pen/ink sketches and for some reason I can't find the photos. I'll have to keep looking and, if all else fails, take more pictures!

This was a study on texture. The green and yellow squares are a real *scrubby* -- the green the scrub part of the two-sided sponge and the yellow the sponge. The photo part was a picture of shredded carrots that was later changed to a very red rose. (Needed more color!)

You just knew baseball would eventually make an appearance in his art! Look carefully and you'll see two different sizes of baseball players with a bat. Sort of tessallated baseball players. This one is on the list for framing!

This is definitely headed for framing. Self-portrait in black and white a la Chuck Close. I can't tell you how much time this took.
Good thing he is retired!
Painting the bristol paper 9 values between white and black (a favorite theme of the instructor). Cutting them out, Pasting them on.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Creative Weekend

I had a creative weekend that I hope will continue into the week. With dark, cloudy, cold weather, it is the perfect time to stay indoors and play! I had a dream. It was about my favorite niece (the daughter of one of my best buddies). Then I got an email from her Mom telling me my dream was right on. So I hit my stash of baby yarn.

Stash of Yarn

This is what I have so far. Sort of an afghan jigsaw puzzle! Granny squares in different sizes all put together. I figured when I ran out of yarn in one color, I'd just continue on with another. What do you think? It is so soft. I'm having fun with it, but am sad that I put up the lacy stole once again!

Sunday I decided it was time to put together a journal. I have lots of composition books and thought I could recycle them into a journal. I hate to go out and buy some more paper. I love paper and between Mr. Dragon and me -- we are being overrun by art paper! I'm making a list of things to order from Dick Blick. Mr. Dragon will start another art class at the end of the month and between the two of us I'm sure we'll have a nice size order.

So I pasted pages together on Sunday. And pasted. And pasted.

If this works out, I'm going to make a cover like one that was in this month's
Cloth, Paper, Scissors
from an old embroidered dish towel.
Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!

This is what I worked on this (Monday) morning. Sorry about the picture. Someday the scanner will be working! My word for the year is Listen. I need to listen FULLY. I think I'm a good listener, but sometimes I respond too quickly -- sort of miss the real point -- if you know what I mean! I also need to listen to what the universe is telling me -- or hitting me over the head. Yo! Girl! Listen up! The word for the month of January is PLAY (thanks Leah). The little birds have musical notes on their bodies. I'm happy with my first page and it was FUN!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I've Been Reading

I haven't posted about books in months. Today is the Day! I read mysteries and here are two very different debut novels.

Murder Is Binding: A Booktown Mystery by Lorna Barrett is the first book in a new cozy mystery series. After her divorce, Tricia Miles moves to Stoneham, New Hampshire to open a mystery bookstore Haven't Got a Clue complete with store cat, Miss Marple. Stoneham is a picturesque but dying town on the Massachusetts/New Hampshire border until the President of the local Chamber of Commerce gets the idea to talk booksellers to relocate to the village. The downtown is revitalized with a whole street dedicated to books -- antiquarian and specialty booksellers -- a book lovers dream and quite popular with tourists. A murder takes place next door to Tricia at The Cookery. Tricia finds the body and the story is off and running. It is filled with quirky characters and, of course, recipes at the end. The new book Bookmarked For Death is out in February and I have pre-ordered a copy. I thought Murder Is Binding was excellent for a debut novel and how can a book lover not enjoy a book set in a small town on a street filled with bookstores!

Chinatown Beat: A Detective Jack Yu Investigation by Henry Chang is very different. It is a dark, noir novel set in New York City's Chinatown. Jack Yu is the only Chinese-American detective assigned to New York's Chinatown. He catches a serial rapist and solves a murder using modern technology and a local fortune tellers prediction. Another debut novel, Chang's chapters are short and tersely written. It is filled with benevolent societies, gambling, dance halls, brothels and secret societies. Year of the Dog is Chang's second Jack Yu novel that will give me another trip to what exists beneath the surface of the tourists' Chinatown.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Resolutions and Links

Let's start with the links. Every now and then I visit a blog or other internet site that I'd like to share with you. This picture is the top of THE GOOD JAR at The Lettered Cottage. Layla loves the cottage look and she also has a shop. She put this jar together (just 20 of them), filled them with 365 fortune-cookie sized slips of paper, each with a single, simple thought about something you could do everyday to feel happy. Go check her blog -- Layla is lots of fun.

I love the Collage Diva site. I visit with Kathryn daily. She is starting 2009 with a prompt called "Weaving Our Dreams" for Soul Journals.

Finally, I'd like to share an email I received from the DailyOM. I've shared other emails with you from them, but this one really hit home -- especially as we start a new year.

December 31, 2008
New Year's Resolutions: The Two Lists
A Message from DailyOM Co-Founder Scott Blum

I was fortunate to spend time with an enigmatic man named Robert during a very special period of my life. Robert taught me many things during our days together, and this time of year reminds me of one particular interaction we had.

"Now that you are becoming more aware," Robert said, "you need to begin to set goals for yourself so you don't lose the momentum you have built."

"Like New Year's resolutions?" I asked.

"That's an interesting idea," he smirked. "Let's do that."

By then I was used to his cryptic responses, so I knew something was up because of the way his eyes sparkled as he let out an impish laugh.

"Tonight's assignment is to make two lists," Robert continued. "The first is a list of all the New Year's resolutions you WANT to keep, and the second is a list of all the New Year's resolutions you WILL keep. Write the WANT List first, and when you have exhausted all of your ideas, then write the second list on another sheet of paper."

That night I went home and spent several hours working on the two lists. The WANT List felt overwhelming at first, but after a while I got into writing all the things I had always wanted to do if the burdens of life hadn't gotten in the way. After nearly an hour, the list swelled to fill the entire page and contained nearly all of my ideas of an ideal life. The second list was much easier, and I was able to quickly commit ten practical resolutions that I felt would be both realistic and helpful.

The next day, I met Robert in front of the local food Co-op, where we seemed to have most of our enlightening conversations. "Tell me about your two lists," Robert said as the familiar smirk crept onto his face.

"The first list contains all the things I SHOULD do if I completely changed my life to be the person I always wanted to be. And the second list contains all the things I COULD do by accepting my current life, and taking realistic steps towards the life I want to lead."

"Let me see the second list," he said.

I handed him the second list, and without even looking at it, he ripped the paper into tiny pieces and threw it in the nearby garbage can. His disregard for the effort I had put into the list annoyed me at first, but after I calmed down I began to think about the first list in a different light. In my heart, I knew the second list was a cop out, and the first list was the only one that really mattered.

"And now, the first list." Robert bowed his head and held out both of his hands.

I purposefully handed him the first list and held his gaze for several seconds, waiting for him to begin reading the page. After an unusually long silence, he began to crumple the paper into a ball and once again tossed it into the can without looking at it.

"What did you do that for?!" I couldn't hide my anger any longer.

Robert began to speak in a quiet and assured voice. "What you SHOULD or COULD do with your life no longer matters. The only thing that matters, from this day forward, is what you MUST do."

He then drew a folded piece of paper from his back pocket and handed it to me.

I opened it carefully, and found a single word floating in the middle of the white page:


For more information visit