Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The reward of play

(Our car out back at 9:30 Saturday morning of the 23rd)

Outside lately there's been a snowy arctic blast that is beautiful yet frightful. Thankfully indoors safe in our row-home it is warm, embracing and delightful. On Friday evening January 22nd a nor'easter monster snow storm from Virginia up through New England effected 85+ million families leaving stories to tell behind. In our neighborhood of Philadelphia we received blizzard whiteout conditions and a total of 30 inches of snow fell between Friday evening till Saturday night 10:30 PM. Glad we did not experience a power outage but 200,000 homes did. The photo is out back of our home of our car covered by snow at 9:30 AM on Saturday. With 11 more hours left until the storm moved out of our area dumping an additional 8 inches more of snow.

Laying in bed under our antique French petite chandelier we tried to drift off to sleep. As the winds of the blizzard howled and snowfall accumulated a couple inches an hour. I enjoyed the quiet of the silenced city. No sounds of a typical Friday evening at all, just the storm itself.

With the snow drifting and completely covering our skylights upstairs and blocking windows our home looked like a cave. This photo although dark is of our Dining room window and an idea of just how much snow fell.

(Source Philadelphia magazine)
But this post isn't about the monstrous nor'easter we experienced - instead it is about the joy of playing as an adult.

"It is a happy talent to know how to play."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

In the Art Museum area of Philadelphia both young and old can't wait to sled down the steps of the Art Museum. The same steps made famous by Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in the movie "Rocky".

(Source nprfreshair)
The museum was closed but 100's showed up. Even this adorable fur kid.

"We don't stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing."
~George Bernard Shaw~

Lately I've been playing with White clay, experimenting with many different types. I molded and carved a life size mouse out of White Sculpey 111 Polymer clay over an aluminum armature I made. Afterwards I baked it for 40 minutes in a 275 degrees oven.

Meet Alfred as in Alfred E. Neuman (Mad magazine).
Many years ago John built two elevated stacked fieldstone walled planter beds. Inside we planted FiFi (a 3 ball boxwood topiary) and the Pips (single ball Boxwoods). And to answer your question, yes I name everything! One sunny day this past October while I was trimming my boxwood in preparation of winter I encountered a most amusing experience.

Through the corner of my eye I noticed a little Grey mouse running in and out from under our Green Emerald Arborvitae trees. Watched him as he scurried down our walkway and climbed up onto the stone wall and just laid down like a puppy sunning looking up at me. Still trimming I started talking to him in a softened tone and asked if his name might be Alfred E. Newman because he had large round ears. Eye contact made he was as curious about me as I was towards him.

As I talked Alfred listened intently, cutely cupping his ears as he lowered them down towards his forehead. Enjoying a little bond up until the mailman approached our house to deliver mail and cute Alfred quickly scurried away. Since then I've not seen him, although I look out the window for him and wonder if he's safe and warm. I decided to create a little Alfred for our home and that's the story of my "of Mice and Woman" moment. 

"Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and love of play."
~Henri Matisse~

I leave you with my poetry titled Play. I will admit, I've entered into my own childhood part 2.

"My Childhood may be over, but that does't mean playtime is."
~Ron Olson~

Through the innocent unencumbered imaginations of children that are filled with wonderment and awe each and everyday.
They seek knowledge and guidance from adults who share their own learned experiences to teach and convey.

Lately I've been observing the enthusiasm and exuberance evident while children are unaware of watchful eyes during play
Realizing the importance of recapturing the essence of joy derived from play and having creative empowerment stay.

To partake in an activity that's not for any practical purpose purely only for enjoyment and fun ...
play excites as it helps to invigorate creative thinking and to look for an excuse not to engage, I can find none.

Be it oftentimes just a diversion away from work or tasks play is a welcome distraction from the mundane.
Play becomes a mentally uplifting experience that expands your imagination so please do not abstain.
© Vera

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Friday, January 15, 2016

When was the last time?

The New Year holds great possibilities and a chance for renewal, a rebirth of ideals, commitments and promises. In 2016 I am optimist and busy with a new endeavor in creative play. My post title will become understood throughout this post as I will share my newest creative ambition. As tantalizing as the title is and may make your thoughts stray, it's not about that! 

I do not make New Year's resolutions, instead I make a commitment, a personal pledge to a Country and another to a charity or cause. I never break my commitments and in the process I fulfill an innate personal need for learning. For the second year my country choice is America. I feel she is in need and I support trade and purchase products she manufacturers and grows. I travel, learn and discover her majestic beauty and cook from locally sourced foods and try out recipes from different states.

My cause/charity this year is supporting shelters for abused, neglected and abandoned animals.

I believe my charity choice was greatly influenced by the loss of our Max in December. We started off the New Year by making a donation to Morris Animal refuge in Philadelphia. Max and Simon were adopted from there and brought to their forever home. As well as previous cats Holly, Natasha and Sneakers  (my son named him because he loved Kilban's artwork with cats wearing Red sneakers). So instead of resolutions this is what I choose to do and find inner pride in my choice. 

I love foods served in a bowl, especially during our Northeast's cold Winters. It's soup time in Philadelphia and Winter means a home cooked different soup each week.

This is my own recipe. I named it Cowboy 18 bean soup, made with smoked Turkey wings and thighs and topped with shredded cheddar cheese. Interested in the recipe, just ask and I'll send you it, it's Tex-Mex with a warm kick of heat. Hearty, filling and a comfort food soup.

Over the years I've gathered an interesting bowl collection that I coordinate with foods served in them. For my Cowboy 18 bean soup I used our vintage cowboy bowls. John and I purchased them around 25 years ago, they were already vintage, a set of 4 found at the Berlin, NJ flea market. They were pricey but in pristine condition, the dealer showed the marking on the bottom of the pottery bowls and it read Frankoma. Frankoma Pottery is American made in Sapulpa, Oklahoma and highly collectible. Any recipe I make that is Tex-Mex and fits in a bowl gets served in these fun bowls. 

My title, When was the last time? I ask you ... When was the last time you awoke from a dream with goosebumps excited to try something new?
It last occurred on New Years Eve three years ago going to bed and praying for another artistic expression. That morning I awoke with a poem in my head and since that day have been writing poetry, an expression that stirs my emotions and feeds my soul. Seriously my muse doesn't quit with interrupting my thoughts and demands I craft the words into poetry, other wises words and rhymes linger in my mind and writing releases them.

After my Holiday presentation of a play and a wedding on December 21st, 2015 post I once again asked/prayed for another creative expression. Making clear in prayer I meant in addition to not In place of my poetry. Well the goosebumps arrived with the possibly of creating each and every character from clay in my French theatre and Vampire castle's presentations for next year. Ambitious sure... Tick, tick, Ha!

In my early 20's I was a Potter and threw Arizona Red Clay (my favorite) down onto a potters wheel and formed a whole lot of pitchers and bowls. The wheel is all about throwing down clay and with the grace and guidance of your hands giving structure and shape to a form spinning around. Now if it wasn't for living in the city and Philadelphia's fire code's insurance restrictions voiding out a policy having a kiln in a residential home I'd still be a "Potter". To be connected to earth's clay is a soulful self rewarding art.

I've started working in White clay building up slowly to then sculpt into my "cast of characters" for my presentations. Different for me because it's not forming from within the structure. It is about building up to remove, carving clay with tools. With many "newbie" questions I approached/pestered friend Penny White from Angelsdoor blog for her help, her answers were both encouraging and extremely helpful.

Since working on this piece I have switched from air dry White clay to baking White clay in the oven at 275 for 15 minutes per 1/4 inch of thickness. Baking produces less hairline cracking to repair and a much more hardened piece. I prefer it, hey live and learn.

Building up clay layer by layer over an aluminum foil armature I made to then carve the clay with tools.  This was my first piece as I was working on him. A mouse who's a chubby happy silly fellow who will be paint washed with mousie color tones of Grey's and Brown's. Perhaps sporting a vest made of vintage Sapphire blue silk velvet, we'll see. He stands only 3.5 inches tall.

My clay carving/sculpting tools. 11 tools, 21 double sided different tools. In following posts I will share a couple of completed pieces.

When was the last time you awoke from a dream with goosebumps excited to try something new? 
An adrenaline rush felt with a sudden burst of energy when a new perspective of an idea comes into view.

Often sparks of inspiration occur too few and far between and sometimes the idea seems to arrive a tad askew.
Relax your mind through meditation or breathing exercises before bed to deliver creative concepts you feel are past due.

Images and dreams reoccurring nightly offer a clue towards aspirations that repose within you.
I've discovered all it takes for me is asking in prayer for new adventures or endeavors, I promise it's true.

So when was the last time you awoke from a dream with goosebumps excited to try something new?
I wish you dream tonight of exciting new ideas and when you awake your memories excite and bond like glue.

© Vera

I entered into my third year of blogging on December 11th and I look forward to sharing in 2016 with thought provoking posts to ponder my writings and poetry. My blogging choice, my style.

Blog Land is a unique community of people connected in a powerhouse of ideas, creativity and of personal sharing. Friendships form and through time mindsets are broadened and hearts warmed. Below is a shout out and a thank you to a fellow blogger who has become a friend. Tina from The blog What We Keep. 

On November 19th, 2015 I wrote the poem Peace on Earth and posted it.  It was a way for me to process my feelings over the terrorism in Paris. It became our handmade Christmas card and included in each one was my poem printed on translucent vellum. 

I had long admired Tina's sense of humor and posting style along with her artistic style. I adore her 3 fur kids, dogs Jack, Bruce and Sophie. Personally I think Tina creates the prettiest embroidery I've ever seen. Delicate yet extremely durable with an appearance of it being hand stitched embroidery.

I asked Tina to embroider 4 hand towels with Peace on Earth on them for the holiday season. The photo is what Tina had emailed me with her embroidery for my approval. Gorgeous, they arrived pre-washed and were instantly hung, loved and are still being used.

Inside the box Tina included a few gifts that surprised and delighted me. Tina took the first stanza which also was the last sentence of my poem and embroidered it on a silk cream fabric backed in Grey silk and accented by an organza wired terra cotta colored ribbon with a beautiful bird pin, the sachet is filled with organic Lavender. But Tina's kind and generous heart tucked more in the box...

Inside a sweet note with 4 fresh laurel (bay) leaves were enclosed (I used them in cooking the following day). Also this ceramic peace dove that has a glittered effect that perches on top of our dining room armoire. I have not packed the dove away with Christmas nor the hand towels. Still praying for that illusive peace on earth and working on my own inner peace. Final gift was one of Tina's cream velvet acorns she creates. From the bottom of my heart thank you my friend. 

I leave you with a photo to bring a smile, the source is unknown. See you soon.

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