Color Changes

Fall is making its entrance, and the warm weather has people predicting that the leaves won’t stay on trees very long.

Recently I basked in the glorious sunshine that cast a special vibrant glow on the trees.

I love the three-toned trees this time of year.

I am surprised to still see butterflies fluttering and hear crickets in the thick grass, but am going to enjoy nature’s concerts as long as it lasts.

In mid-October Cicadas were still singing, and birdies are doing their thing.

The lake continues to provide peace and perspective.

Maybe I can sneak away to a nature preserve in November to forest bathe a bit.

But the local parks have plenty of beauty to offer.

This week the colder weather will call for coats and socks instead of t-shirts and sandals.

It has been lovely to have summer linger for a bit though.

I hope the color change holds for a little bit.

Here’s to joyous days playing in the leaves.

Seasons are a wonderful reminder of the cycles in life.

Enjoy your pre-Halloween week!

Reflecting in Nature

I am taking a little pre-birthday time-out.

It is easy to get overwhelmed in calls to actions, FOMO, grass-is-greener and doomsday thinking with the barrage of headlines and ensuing social media reactions.

My Atlas of World History confirms that territorialism began when land ownership started in 9000 BC. As Billy Joel sings, we didn’t start the fire. The mid-eighties were full of songs about the End of the World, and When the Wind Blows still flashes in my head on occasion.

So I go to the lake to stare at the horizon and ponder the tides going in and out.

Hopefully the skyline will remain for a bit.

It is lovely to be a tourist in my hometown. I rarely visit Bennison’s, so strolling there is worthy of a treat for here and one to go.

There is a private park with little reading nooks that is open to the public part of the day.

Shimmying at the beach is a lovely way to start the day in summer.

I love the Brothers K baristas and used up the last bit of my gift card for this gorgeous creation.

A moth hung out by the basement as I was doing laundry.

Flowers are blooming so gorgeously.

I recite the Desiderata in my head when things seem too depressing.

Then I ponder the bravery of Sophie Scholl, Anne Frank, Miep Gies and Corrie Ten Boom.

The Little Prince has left a reminder by the lake as well.

The upcoming solar eclipse is supposed to be auspicious, and I sincerely hope it will bring with it goodwill and peace.

But for now, I will reflect on all the agitation of the world in silence, and hope that my plans for my next year aren’t too frivolous for this time in history.

After all, my town can sometimes seem like I’m in wonderland, so anything can happen!

See you sometime next week.

Summerfun

Between EvanstonMade and preparing for the pop up and gearing up for August’s events, my art life has been quite busy.

Nonetheless, I do make sure to stop and smell the flowers, observe butterflies, and stroll in nature.

I blog outdoors when I can to soak up the sun.

Here are some of the snapshots of my downtime in the past few months.

The grocery store’s passion flowers are a special memento of the person who first introduced me to this flower.

I stroll around the neighborhood and love looking at the indoor and outdoor bunnies.

The new Taco Place is plotting its grand opening.

I noticed this lovely little lending library that is twinning on the big house it belongs to.

I danced in the Custer Fair’s flashmob in June.

Then I cheered on my Hip Circle friends during their World Arts and Culture Fair performance.

The Collage Cafe continues to host workshops in the new space, and our last Grown*UP Girls project was weaving paper strips that we shared amongst each other after painting them.

I spotted a yellow butterfly on the way home recently.

Someone in the neighborhood has a Clueless license plate.

I splurged on an empowering movie on a half price Tuesday.

Angel frolicked in the Merrick Rose Garden last weekend.

When I am weary of the walking and doing, I spend reading on the sofa. Angel’s geneaology is fascinating.

It is a thrill to see monarchs take advantage of all the milkweed patches both the city and Evanston gardeners have planted.

They are not as abundant as a few summers ago, but spotting butterflies of any kind gives me hope that we aren’t killing them off just yet.

I hope we can reverse the damage humanity has done to nature.

I continue to monitor my outdoor dragonfly, and I think it is safe to keep my stakes in the garden.

Meanwhile, there are still a few other things I want to do.

  1. Walk the Openlands Long trail (I found the short trailhead but couldn’t tell where the long path merged, so I will be using the southern entrance next time)
  2. Watch Despicable Me 3 on a half-price Tuesday
  3. Find trailmaps for Harms Woods so I can return there again
  4. A cabin retreat to write (2 night stay-the pop up opening had me postpone my July 19 trip)
  5. View Takashi Murakami at MSA (I have until September 24)

What’s on your summer bucket list?

Brilliant Blooms

I’ve returned from my cabin getaway and will tell you more about that soon.


Right now, I am basking in the springy sunshine too much to sit and write.

I love this part of the season where petals unfurl in their brightest finery.

Pink is trending.

So pretty.

My favorite scent is everywhere.

I think it is a kind of jasmine, I keep forgetting the name of these blossoms.

The lake sparkles with all the sunshine cast upon it.

Tulips make my Dutch heart proud.

Narcissi have an array of petals.

Purple petals radiate.

I hum Alice in Wonderland’s flower song in the streets.

My favorite flower has returned.

Trees are coming out of hibernation.

Cultivate’s current exhibit has stunning photos of ferns unfurling.

OK-gotta go out and sniff again!

Beginnings of Spring

The weather is still in flux, but we’ve had a few spring-like days that allowed me to enjoy the sunshine.

It is fun to watch flowers pop up and see how quickly they respond to the sunshine and warmth.

I always forget what this blossomy tree is called, but love its gradation of budding blooms.

I love the scent of hyacinth.

Soon many will be emitting their fragrance in my neighbrohood.

The Narcissi survived a cold patch during which some were already coming out.

These clusters are fairly close to each other.

This sea of blue makes me happy.

Pink blossoms popped out overnight.

I also spotted an admiral pair dancing in the air, but they flew too fast to be captured on camera.

Cultivate is celebrating spring with an exhibit that documents the unfurling of ferns.

I wish you a happy Passover week and/or Easter weekend!


 

Reading-deprived word girl

Well wouldn’t you know it, the week after I organized my bookshelf I wasn’t allowed to read anything. I am going through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way with a local group of lovely women, and Week 4 is when we aren’t supposed to read anything.


This is really, really hard for me. In the spirit of not letting our own thoughts be cluttered up by other people’s influences, we are also taking a Facebook fast and avoiding TV. So my shelves are petting zoo right now.


I am finding that podcasts clutter up my brain. It is really hard for me to just listen to something for a long time without any visuals, even when I am puttering away and organizing things while listening. Casting TEDTalks to my TV is easier. But my preference is to absorb information through words, so I counted down the hours to Sunday morning while posting bangles in my shop.


Not reading at all is not feasible for solopreneurs (even if Ms. Cameron might beg to differ), so we did allow for business-related emails and business page posts. Instagram became my friend because it is primarily visual. I applied to some art shows and started uploading earrings for shop release this week.


On one day I had an email exchange about a commission that required me to poke around my business Facebook page, and it was hard to stop skimming the personal Facebook wall where the computer opened up to initially. I am realizing how much time is spent just poking around on social media and clicking link after link, so having set times for social media activity is a practice I hope to continue after this exercise.

I am not missing the personal Facebook as much as I thought. With the current political climate it isn’t that cheery anyway. Thankfully my family keeps in touch via messenger and Telegram, so I am not totally disconnected. I am also writing some cards to snail mail after the weekend.


On Monday I had a commute and it was so strange to realize that I do default to the phone. Staring out into the world instead of scanning news and social media was different. It is a bit weird not knowing what is happening out in the world, since being informed of headlines has become part of my daily routine. Since I don’t have daily interactions with people who might inform me of world events, this does feel a bit like living in a bubble.


I visited the Chicago Cultural Center for my Artist Date, and initially wasn’t going to read the art descriptions but the work was too intriguing to avoid understanding it, so I gave myself a pass for absorbing the amazing exhibits there. (More on that Thursday).


I started work on a large encaustic commission, but since I had to watch for over-fusing and let my thoughts on composition simmer, this project is only a 2-hour session at a time, so not a whole day-filler.


For me, the hardest part was the evening. Normally I unwind with a book or a movie. During the TED talks I want to look up the speakers, which is also ‘reading’ in my book. So I felt very constrained after sunset.


The Artist Way exercises are showing me that I am already living the life I want, in the environment I wished for myself. Living by myself has eliminated the cluttered mind that Ms. Cameron strives to help us clear, so I am finding myself with lots of time on my hands. I’ve organized studio shelves, journaled a lot, taken many many notes on what to look up when I can research again, and I sat in a cafe for a while to keep from touching books (until some very strong cologne caused me to pack up).


The oodles of free time make this sort of a vacation, since I am between freelance projects as well. Unfortunately it has been too chilly to take extended walks, which would help pass the time.


I’d love to take on a crochet project, but that would require picking up a book for instructions! What this is showing me is that I am not very playful. My life is very purposeful in that I read to research, or to relax. My art-making is business-related, and while it does feel like play, it is no longer a hobby. Kitchen time isn’t a playful thing for me either (“what if I burn it all?!”), so cooking up recipes for one doesn’t bring out my inner child.


I played a lot of solitaire.


I also colored a lot, since that was the one book I allowed myself to open.


Still, words are my thing. Saturday was a very dreary rainy day, perfect for curling up with a book. Instead, I passed the hours doing a puzzle.

I guess what this week showed me is that books are my friends, and yes, maybe I am slightly addicted, but they are not as big of a ‘crutch’ as I thought they might be. Reading helps me get out of my ego-brain, my scarcity-brain, my worry-brain.


I am inspired by stories, which prompt a plethora of look-ups, listing of follow-up books to read, and have me mulling over my own story ideas. The week did force me to sit down and do some book-related writing for myself, and to push through “I should look that up right now” which would get me back into research-land.


It is fun to catch up on The Voice and pick out a Netflix movie in the evenings, but since I don’t have cable my TV watching is pretty purposeful instead of it being background noise. I don’t feel like I escape into TV.


Doing the morning pages is grounding me and helps focus on me instead of having my day be influenced by external influences right away. I do a lot of artist dates by default, but haven’t consciously scheduled one a week. It is fun to add to the list based on what other people are doing, and knowing that many artist dates are free. So we will see what Weeks 5-12 bring. I am hoping for lots of synchronicity as my inner artist evolves.

Have you done The Artist’s Way? What insights did the 12-week journey bring you?

The Moseltalbahn and the Rheingaulinie

I lived in Germany for 7 years, and was thrilled when my aunt and uncle took me to revisit the lovely Rheingau.

eltvilleamrhein

We strolled by the river in Eltville and then visited a lovely garden at The Burg of Eltville, built in 1329.

eltvilleburg

Roses were still in bloom.

eltvillegarten

We passed a lovely wine press.

weinpress

I forgot how magnificent the churches are, and katholische Pfarrkirche St. Peter und Paul had a lovely blend of modern and old stained glass windows.

eltvillekirche

This Ölberggruppe aus der Werkstatt von Peter Schro is fascinating.

gethsemane

Fachwerk is everywhere

fachwerk

We had a snack and some Riesling at the Brentanohaus, where Goethe was a regular.

allendorfbrentano

Sage advice from the wine growers:

savewaterdrinkriesling

Beautiful grapes.

weinreben

We dined at Kloster Eberbach, known in Hollywood as the movie setting of the Name of the Rose.

klostereberbach

It was a lovely reintegration into Germany.

eberbachkerzen

I rode the train to Stuttgart when it was dark, so I have not much to share from that ride.

koblenz-wiesbadenzug

The ICE is lovely to ride though.

wiesbaden-stuttgart

After Stuttgart and a visit to Luxembourg I got back on the train in Trier, which are future blog posts.

trier-koblenzroute

From Trier’s Hauptbahnhof, I passed the St. Paulin Kirche.

trierkirche

Then I was treated to a lovely Mosel valley ride via the Moseltalbahn route.

moselrivier

Wineries abound along the hillsides.

moselwinery

Fall was making its entrance.

trier-koblenzreise

Castles dot the landscape along wineries.

weinrebenburg

The towns along the river are so beautiful.

moselufer

Mountains and Water are a lovely combination.

schoenemosel

In Koblenz I switched over to the Rheingaulinie.

koblenz-wiesbadenroute

I only caught a glimpse of Koblenz’s fort.

koblenzstop

This line travels along the Rhein valley.

rheingaulinie

The windows were a bit dirty, so getting good shots was harder, especially after sunset.

dirtywindowdb

Oberlahnstein had an intriguing tower by its station.

obrelahnstein

The towns are so picturesque.

moselberge

Churches abound.

moselreise1

The sunset was gorgeous.

rheinreise

My camera did me proud.

dbsunset

I passed another castle ruin along the way.

rheingaukirche

Scope for the imagination.

rheincastle

In Kaub there is this Burg, which reminds me of the many Rhein tales. There is a song about two lovers who couldn’t swim to each other and this castle feels like the setting for it.

kaubburg

Soon I arrived in Wiesbaden, in the dark.

lumixwindow

Wiesbaden is home to the largest Cuckoo Clock in the world.

largestcuckooclock

It was filled with cuckoo clocks, of course, and wooden Christmas decor.

cuckoo

My aunt and uncle live near the Neroberg Kapelle.

neroberg

We listened to the noontime music of the Marktkirche.

marktkirche

More travel pictures will follow, as this was a fun sightseeing trip.

pretripreview

Garden Center Fun

I spent the last few days of August making some dragonflies for Platt-A-Palooza.

dragonflymaking

It was a glorious Saturday when we set up at Platt Hill Nursery.

boothcollage

Flowers greeted me as I unloaded the car.

gooseflowers

The amount of space is always amazing, and I had fun setting up my booth.

mmbooth

Foot traffic was great, so I had little time to peruse the other booths.

maikesmarvelsplatt2016

Seeing how my pieces interact with the sunlight is always fun.

angelbutterfly

Thankfully we had popcorn delivered to us.

popcornplatt

Parts of the swarm were on display.

plattswarm

There were stuffed animals,

stuffies

Other jewelry vendors,

egjewelry

Holiday Ornaments,

angelmeetsangels

Birdbath creations,

birdbaths

and my neighbor had lovely Faery Cottages that Angel couldn’t resist.

angelcottage

It is always fun to see the garden accessories Platt Hill Nursery has to offer, like these fun creations.

hedgiesandowls

Live Bluegrass entertained us throughout the day.

musicians

So much bloom.

creativejungle

I tested some plant stakes that need a bit more observing for durability.

planterdragonfly

Angel basked in some pansies as well.

angelinpansies

Several pieces found new homes.

plattsales16

I love all the flowers and plant varieties.

sunflowerangel

Gardening is not in the cards for me, but it is always fun to admire nature.

paintings

Soon the day was over and time to pack up.

packingup

I did some lazing and stretching before the next eventful week.

yaybuddha

Hopefully you had a labor-free Labor Day weekend.

reflower