Sunday, December 31, 2017

Mindful, Day 361, Plans

This daily devotional came today and it is a perfect ending to this year. Taking the long view, doing the daily work, laying the foundation one piece at a time, all strike a cord with me.

I Had Planned
Talitha Arnold
December 31, 2017

I had planned to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord. . . and I made preparations for building." - 1 Chronicles 28:1-10

King David had great plans, but God had other plans. The one thing he wanted most—building the Temple—he had to leave for his son Solomon.

David's story is a good one for this year's final days. What plans did you have for 2018? What do you need to let go of?

As the year draws to a close, a prayer by Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, written shortly before his assassination in 1980, offers this insight:

"It helps now and then, to step back and take the long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

"We plant the seeds that one day will grow," Romero continued. "We lay foundations that will need further development.

"We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning . . . an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.

"We may never see the end results," Romero concluded, "but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own. Amen."


Help us step back and take the long view, O God. Thank you for the seeds you've helped us plant this year, the foundations you've enabled us to lay. Give us the wisdom to let go of other things. Like King David and Archbishop Romero, remind us that we are called to be workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. Amen.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Mindful, Day 359-360, On the Road Again

We are back on the road between Houston, TX and Palm Desert, CA.  There are 1400 miles between the two place and many of those miles are a lot and lot of lots and lots of open land.  I am reminded and mindful of how huge this country is and how different various areas are.  It has been nice to see again the changes. And we are excited to be getting close to Palm Desert again. We have had so many good and relaxing and fulfilling times there - our second home at this point.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

MIndful, Day 358, Mom

I am mindful today of how lucky I was to have my Mom around until 5 years ago. Today would have been her 94th birthday. She was a caring, loving mother and friend to her large,extended family. Wish she were still here as she was before Parkinsons and dementia moved in. She loved having everyone together, especially at Christmas.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Mindful, Day 357, Houston Connection

We are in Houston for two days, into which we hope to pack a ton of time with Larry's son, Tim, and his family.  Always fun to see them, to explore and to catch up on one another's lives.  We are at the Lonestar Aviation Museum checking out airplanes and all things aviation. I am mindful of how fast the boys are growing and changing!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Mindful, Day 356, Names

We are on the way to Houston driving through Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas. The names of towns along the way are wonderful, mysterious and funny.  For starters: Biggers, Success, Mule Ditch, Pocahontas, Evening Shade, Oil Trough and far. I would love to know the why behind some of these town names! But for now, I just keep an eye open for the next fun one.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Mindful, Day 355, Happy Holidays

 I am mindful of how meaningful this season is. It is filled with lovely traditions, explorations in faith, heartache and happiness.  Memories of Christmas past, memories of loved ones gone and missed, happiness at seeing children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, grand-neices, grand nephews and who knows else growing and changing. Happy Holidays to all.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

MIndful, Day 354, Christmas Traditions

I look forward every year to setting up our nativity scene. One year we use Larry's and one year we use mine.  This year is Larry's which has lovely little figures that all match. Mine has had some mishaps over the years and not all the figures are quite what they were. But no matter which we use it brings back long ago memories and connects us to those times and to the broader faith community.
Merry Christmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Mindful, Day 353, Cold Tangerines

As I get close to the end of the year I came across this lovely little book, Cold Tangerines, Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life. What a great book to get me through to the end of the year! She captures the same kinds of moments I am interested in but she writes beautiful essays about them. A wonderful gift.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Mindful, Day 352, Simplicity

I saw this quote today in an article about one of my favorite actors, Daniel Day Lewis. It strikes a chord for me. I spend a fair amount of time on my artwork trying to eliminate excess. I remember a book I read at some point about a Zen artist that spent hours preparing to do a write a calligraphic character in one fluid motion.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Mindful, Day 351, Orange

Little clementine oranges - dinner. Love the smell, the color, the texture and how easy they are to peel and eat. Nice to have a simple treat in this time of lots of indulgences!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

MIndful, Day 349-350, Growling Rabbit?

I saw this sign in a coffee shop window. I am not sure I would ever want to meet a growling rabbit. But there has to be some great story behind the name!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Mindful, Day 348, Working Hands

I am thinking about a new series of work for next year based on the beauty of working hands. This photo came up in my search. I have always wanted to do hands and I have many saved photos. I think it is going to be a challenge but that is exciting, not scary!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Mindful, Day 346-347, Garden Shadows

A beautiful walk through the Chicago Botanic Garden on a sunny, not too cold, not windy at all day was relaxing and restorative.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Mindful, Day 345, One Last Reminder

As I enter the last stretch of days to the end of the year I need to give myself one last reminder about the purpose of this blog!

Mindful –
Every Day I see and hear something that more or less kills me with delight, that leaves me like a needle in the haystack of light. It is what I was born for – to look, to listen, to lose myself inside this soft world – to instruct myself over and over in joy, and acclamation. Nor am I talking about the exceptional, the fearful, the dreadful, the very extravagant- but of the ordinary, the common, the very drab, the daily presentations. Oh, good scholar, I say to myself, how can you help but grow wise with such teachings as these- the untrimmable light of the world, the oceans shine, the prayers that are made out of grass?  Mary Oliver

So, over the next few weeks I will continue to observe and find those small, insignificant things that add joy to my days.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

MIndful, Day 344, For the Birds

A pair of beautiful blue jays arrived this morning at the bird feeder. I think they liked that I spilled half the seed on the ground  trying to fill the feeder. I wish I could have gotten closer to capture the brilliant blue on their feathers! A lovely treat on a sunny day.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Mindful, Day 343, Good Sight

Today I am mindful that having an experienced ophthalmologist and staying on top of things is a wonderful blessing. I took this visual field test today to see if I have any problems with glaucoma. Which it seems I don't except...  that I have an unusually shaped optic nerve and blindspot so maybe yes, maybe no. But at least I know that something is not quite right and we are on top of it. I think it's just I am a little "off".  Probably won't get any arguments from my family or friends on that one. :-)
NOTE the test shown is a sample -not mine!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Mindful, Day 342, Warm Up Time

Went to the Christmas Market in Chicago today and this is the thing that got my attention.  My daughter has seen the pigeons here before and said that she has seen some with singed feathers!  I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Mindful, Day 341, Looking Forward

A few weeks ago I shot more Still Life in Indigo photos to add to my series. I just got the printed fabric back and am preparing them for stitching while we are gone in January and February. Most of this set combines leaves with other objects so it seems like my series are merging. I am looking forward to the meditative time I spend doing intense stitching on them.These are two of about twenty, not all of which will probably become part of the series. I am mindful that when you love what you do it is a joy to look forward to lots of work. I may need to remind myself of that again later!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Mindful, Day 340, The Blessing of Old Friends

I am mindful that this group of friends (our Fellowship Circle from church) have been our second family since 1972. Some people have moved elsewhere, others have joined and we have lost too many to death. But almost every month we get together for something fun and whenever the going gets tough this group will be there for you.  Last night was our holiday party and I gotta say we look pretty damn good after all these years.  Blessings to all.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Mindful, Day 339, Let it Snow

I am not a winter fan so it takes more effort for me to see something that delights me on this morning. But this comes close - the line pattern on the deck in the snow.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Mindful, Day 338, Repeat

This lonely chair at the Starline keeps capturing my attention on as I go in and out.  Last week it was the long shadows, today it is the interesting patterns and shapes created by it's structure.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

MIndful, Day 337, Twist

The right combination of circumstance came together to create this photo! The blinds were down, the sun was shining and the trellis stored near the window under the deck was moving slightly in the wind. And DNA chains were created.  I love the softness of the light through the blinds. It  always reminds me of shoji screens.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

MIndful, Day 336, Details

 As I walk from one end of the Starline to the other a small detail on the painted wall captures my attention.  I see potential!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

MIndful, Day 335, Shadows

This lonely chair sits in a stream of light at the Starline. I was there at the right moment to capture all the different lines and patterns.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Mindful, Day 334, Contrast

Just enough fleeting sun to brighten up the dried grasses in the foreground against the dark tree line. Also the textural changes between the top and the bottom. Not the usual December photograph!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Mindful, Day 333, Standing Tall 2

Taking a walk on the prairie today I notice that I look extremely tall - just like yesterday's pine trees post. How funny that this image should come into being the day afte the tall pines.  I believe it is the angle of the sun that caused this but I am so tall that I couldn't even get my lower legs and feet in the photo!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Mindful, Day 332, Standing Tall

One of the conservation areas that I walk in has old stands of pines that were once someone's crop. Little by little these tall rows of trees are disappearing as they succumb to various diseases. But, when I walk through there I am still impressed to be surrounded by their tall, straight trunks.  It's like being in a cathedral.

Friday, December 1, 2017

MIndful, Day 331, Advent Fun

Today I started sending out to our kids and grandkids the daily M&M Nutcracker photos. It's
our version of Elf on the Shelf.  He ends up in some strange and funny situations.  And then I get to write some captions to make a 8, 12, 16 and 17 year kid laugh along wiht theier parents.  We shall see how it goes this year!  If all else fails I can jsut eat the M&Ms. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Mindful, Day 330, Fall Wonders

The leaves I picked a few weeks ago have curled up into wonderful sculptural formations. They are very fragile but from every angle they are beautiful.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Mindful, Day 328-329, Holiday Treat

Beginning to get in the holiday spirit. Got a beautiful poinsettia today called Jingle Bells! How perfect is that? I like the pink and white splashed leaves. Looks like the leaves were tie dyed with red dye.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Mindful, Day 327, Sky on Fire

Last night the sky was on fire at sunset. And it all happened in the blink of an eye. I am glad I looked out the window at the best possible moment. And as much as I am not a winter fan those stark, leafless trees made the view of the sky possible!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Mindful, Day 326, A Wonder

When the last of the leaves fell off the maple tree last week a VERY LARGE wasp nest was revealed. So large that it totally encompassed a branch and some leaves. It is so beautiful! The pattern of the
"paper" looks like it was marbled. I just want to keep looking at it, inside and out. What a wonderful creation.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

MIndful, Day 325, Eyes Forward

I am mindful today of the various traditions that Larry and I bring to our marriage.These nutcrackers (and there are many more) were collected by Larry during trips to Europe in the 19603-1980s. Some of them were from East Germany before the fall of the Berlin wall. They always make me smile when I put them out because of their fanciful costumes, assorted facial hair and stark eyes. Christmas is coming!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Mindful, Day 323-324, Giving Thanks

I am mindful of how precious it is to spend time with family and friends. And this year we had a small group for Thanksgiving which was good - there was time to talk, laugh and eat pie together.  And as much as I am not a big fan of cooking on most days I do like to prepare and cook for "events". I am proud of this beautiful apple pie - and it tasted good too!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mindful, Day 322, Broken is Beautiful

I saw this image online today. In the Japanese tradition of kintsugi, broken things are repaired with gold (or silver) joinery, so that the repaired object is even lovelier than the original — and the breakage and repair becomes an important part of the object's history, rather than something to disguise. The idea that adversity could make something (or someone) more beautiful, and that old things have a history that makes them rich and valuable, is a lovely and deeply comforting one. In this image from Chris Liljenberg Halstrøm, a cracked floorboard, filled with hexagonal shaped pieces of wood turned on end, becomes an eyecatching design detail. I love this concept and keep finding new iterations of it. 

Follow the link below to see more examples.

Monday, November 20, 2017

MIndful, Day 321, Ice Effects

We went to see Cirque du Soleil on Ice yesterday. It was so interesting to see how they  use the lighting system and GPS to create such wonderful effects on the ice. This photo shows the skater writing The End on the ice. And throughout the performance the patterns and effects on the ice kept changing and it was fascinating to watch!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Mindful, Day 320, Some Things Never Change

At the baby shower yesterday the biggest hit for the littlest kid was the big empty box to play in. I remember this from my own childhood and my kids and here we go again! It's fun to see imagination and curiosity going on.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Mindful, Day 318-319, Raggedy Ann and Andy Memories

I went to a baby shower today for one of my nieces and her Mom and sister had made her a set of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. These are very special. My Mom made about 80 sets of Raggedy Ann and Andy doll during her life for all of her daughters, granddaughters, cousins, nieces, friends, and friends of friends. To see the tradition continue after her death is sweet and brings back lots of memories.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mindful, Day 317, Starry Lights, Starry Nights

Getting the Christmas lights ready to put up on this cold day. I love seeing the white lights like little stars during December. It seems to help me through this dark time of the year to have that glow around the house. This year I am putting up a cluster of star lights for the first time. I will post a photo of that tomorrow after we finish getting things sorted out!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Mindful, Day 316, Holiday Card

 This photo of frost-rimmed leaves and berries might become this year's holiday card! I need to learn more about why frost catches the edges of objects so perfectly.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Mindful, Day 315, Sepia Landscape

The prairie in fog and frost looks like an old sepia photograph. This may become a new iteration of my Prairie Night Sky art quilt. I almost want to see frost again today just to take more photos!

Monday, November 13, 2017

MIndful, Day 314, Frosting

Everything was covered in frost this morning. The Queen Ann's lace is as beautiful now as it was this summer!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

MIndful, Day 312-313, A Finding

I love this dried branch, especially against the old boro fabric.  They just feel good together.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Mindful, Day 311, Play

At last a little time to play in the studio. So this comes from doing a rubbing of the cut lines in my table top protector. Over time they have created there own composition without any help from me. I want to play with this some more and see what it might become!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Mindful, Day 310, Courage and Renewal

Today, I am mindful that this kind of writing from the Center for EnCOURAGEment and Renewal is what I need to see past the horrific things we keep doing to one another in this country. 

And it happens again. And it happens again. And just when we think it cannot possibly happen here, or here, or here, it happens again.

Here in America, our crisis with guns and violence has so many complicated aspects to it, all of which are worthy of exploration. But for now, I just want to sit with this question:

Where do we find courage, hope, and renewal in the face of the unimaginable?

The voices and images from the church shooting in Texas took me straight back to another major shooting that happened in a church in 2008: in a UU church in Knoxville, Tennessee. The circumstances were eerily similar: an enraged ex-husband taking his anger out on the faithful innocents. When he charged into the church with his guns and bullets a children’s choir was singing the song from Annie: “The sun will come out, tomorrow…” And, in the face of that horror, it felt like it would never come out again.

There is no easy prescription for what it takes to step into the next day with any sense of hope. Especially with evidence of the human capacity for violence bombarding us almost every day.

I do know what helped the folks in Tennessee get through: The love shown to them by their community.

Not just the members of their own church, but people from all faiths and walks of life coming together to offer comfort. It is just this capacity of people to set aside their differences that ultimately signals the dawn that will come the next day.
To shorten a poem that is well-worth reading in its entirety: “A Vision” by Wendell Berry:

If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow-growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it,
the abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is its possibility.

Where do you find courage, hope and renewal each day?

In faith and in courage, 

Terasa Cooley
Executive Director

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Mindful, Day 309, The Last Hurrah

The last flaming leaves are falling fast. Just so beautiful and so fleeting.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Mindful, Day 308, The Afterglow

 Just as the sun is dropping below the horizon (much too early) a V of geese comes flying by. I will never understand - they are all heading north when it seems like they are meant to go south. But even given that confusion it is a beautiful sight against the afterglow from the setting sun. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Mindful, Day 307, Peaceful Buddha

Every week at yoga I get to look at this beautiful face of the reclining Buddha. I am photographing the face many times to get the perfect shot for a new stitching project. Especially with the dim light in the yoga studio the face glows softly.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

MIndful, Day 306, Amazing Violet

Ivy leaves still continuing to change color - now an almost a see through violet to green. These leaves on the front of the front of the Starline building continue to transform and amaze me.