When the 30 second dance party involves paint…

Yep. It’s #WIP Wednesday again. And there’s lots of stuff in progress around here!

It’s also catch-up day for one of my projects. Never mind for a moment that catch-up month might be more useful, I’m closer than I was before. (Except for the tonnage of emails that showed up while I was painting!)

The next right thing, however, is feeding the Studio Angels who seem to be of the opinion that they’ve worked hard and earned their supper.

Kind of like a brief commercial break! I’ll be back…

So, if you’re conversant with Grey’s Anatomy or creator, Shonda Rhimes’ book Year of Yes, you’re probably checked off on 30 second dance parties. So is Shiloh Sophia McCloud, though hers generally take longer than 30 seconds and are part of the creative journey.

One was called for today. It’s big fun! Also, potentially kind of messy.

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Intentional Creativity® dance parties are more about integrating what’s becoming conscious during the creative process than they are about a break state after something stressful, though both are often helpful.

Today’s was all about claiming our paths to this point in our journey and putting all the stuff – easy and very hard – into the work. It’s really freeing and totally NOT about staying in the lines!

Here are a couple glimpses of what’s under all that integrating paint. At least what’s under the paint on my canvas. I was just doing what the Muses were whispering in my ears.

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The very pink photo, way up at the top, is a glimpse of another #WIP, which seems to want to be about trees and growth rings and grandmothers.

There is much more work to be done.

After I get a dry brined chuck roast tucked safely into the InstantPot so that we, like the Studio Angels, can have a fine dining experience.

There’s Pine Street Market pimento cheese tucked into the fridge for Sunday’s workshop.

And a new recipe for Dark Chocolate Almond Bark. We’re liable to need a “test” batch before Sunday!

Transformation can be hungry work. Good chocolate and almonds are part of the ritual!

 

What does it mean to see?

I’ve been thinking about my son even more often than usual. He just had one of those big birthdays. The kind with a zero that seems like a big deal for moms, too.

I’ve also been thinking about vision a lot, possibly because I learned a lot about vision from Dave.

He was five months old the first time I took him to the eye doctor because he wasn’t growing out of the wandering eyed baby thing.

Then there was surgery at about 17 months to deal with an eye muscle attachment condition. He upchucked his post-op Gator-ade all down my back and we headed home, tired and smelly and on the road to a whole new world. He immediately began to walk more steadily, feed himself more easily, and enjoy all the little doors and windows and pop-up gizmos on his vast collection of Fisher Price wonders.

Things began to get more complicated again when he started kindergarten. His teacher kept fussing at him for making purple trees. I assured him that his purple trees were awesome and that, at home, he could make any color trees he chose.

Then I tried to explain that his teacher wanted him to learn to follow directions, as well as draw trees, and so – while he was at school – it would probably be best to humor her and make the trees green.

You guessed it!

It was two more years before his eye doctor realized he was color blind.

He also had peripheral vision and depth perception challenges.

There was another eye surgery along the way, and quite the conversation when it came time for him to want to drive.

A new eye doctor checked his vision for about two hours and then assured me that, if Dave were his son, he would, indeed, let him drive.

Blessedly, Dave did great, after he figured out the relationship between where he was sitting and where the wheels were on the car.

I guess these adventures weren’t too big a surprise. I’ve been decidedly nearsighted since I was a child. One of my clearest early memories is leaving the eye doctor’s office with my first pair of glasses perched on my nose and being amazed to discover that I could see – that anyone could see – individual leaves on trees!

Then there’s Dave’s 4-footed brother, Luther. This big guy had limited vision when he came to us and, eventually, as far as his eye doctor could determine, lost all his sight. Because of a degenerative condition that was causing him pain, we made the decision to have his eyes surgically removed last May.

The biggest challenge was keeping him from rubbing his face while his suture lines were healing.

I’m grateful that, as he became pain free, he began to find his own spirit more and more, after his traumatic past. Today, he and Phoebe are official Studio Angels, always ready to greet friends and help paint. (That’s Phoebe on duty in the photo.)

I’ll admit to clinging a bit to what I’ve learned along the way from beloved beings like Dave and Luther while I’m flipping on lights all over the house and adding glaucoma eye drops to my bedtime routine.

My fix-it wizard friend, Greg, arrived today to install lots more lights in the studio. It’s an LED miracle!

A miracle that reminds me of inner vision, as well.

And that reminds me, in these days, of a mythical guy named Toby Ziegler, Director of Communications on The West Wing.

Way back in the first season (episode 12 for you Netflix and YouTube folks) Toby was working on the second State of the Union address and he convinced President Bartlet to take the risk of standing up in front of the nation and proclaiming that, “Government can be a place where nobody gets left behind.”

That, and, “Babies come with hats!” are probably Toby’s two greatest lines.

I’m for seeing like that!

 

Are you a jigsaw puzzle person???

Imagine, with me, that you are putting together a jigsaw puzzle. One with many, many pieces. There are a couple of challenges. You don’t have a box with a picture on top of what the puzzle is supposed to look like and there are no edge pieces!

Perhaps you’ve noticed that life feels like that sometimes. At least mine has, lately.

For me it usually happens when I’m discovering new things and I can’t tell how they fit together with powerful things that have already claimed me.

Just now, it has to do with things like demo paintings and round two of a journey called Legend and a round-the-world perspective trip with something known as Motherboard.

All layered over the wonder of holidays with my girls and reading some things I wrote a while back.

Oh, and MLK, Jr. day.

Curious???

It happened like this…

I was still floating around in an inner tide pool after MLK day, watching Legend videos, squirreling away collage paper for a workshop demo, and pondering what Motherboard will wind up looking like in my world when – cliche’ but true! – I had a dream!

The dream led me out of bed, braving the cold and the dark, to retrieve a copy of my book, Grandmothers Are In Charge Of Hope. (The sweet faces, above, are my granddaughters, peeking out from the cover.)

Wrapped in a purple, faux fur wobbie and fortified by a cup of hot water and lemon in my favorite sunny yellow mug, I started ripping pages from my book.

Yes, ripping pages!

Collage material for one project. Inspiration to be transformed into symbols for a couple of others. And two answers to my prophets’ favorite question:

If we believe what we say we believe, what, then, shall we do?

Yes, there are a great many answers to this question. For now, these are mine.

Put Motherboard to work in my world. (You’ll have to stay tuned…)

And, wave at babies!

There it was, on page 73, my personal plan for world peace. Let me read you a story…

My favorite place for waving at babies is the big, international farmers’ market where we live. There are lots of babies there! Babies whose families come from parts of the world my 7th grade geography teacher never told me about. Babies balanced on top of cartloads of food I’d have no idea how to prepare. 

Wave at the babies. Smile, too, of course. Tell them they have cool shoes. Become less “other.” Less “different.” More “same.” Wave at babies at traffic lights and in restaurants. Most of them are serious flirts. 

It’s probably going to take a while, this plan of mine. Less, though, if we get all the grandmothers signed up. (And the honorary grandmother archetype folks, too.) Your kids will see you wave and they’ll start, too. And then the people with the babies will notice and just possibly smile. Pretty soon you’ve got a cart full of crazy looking produce, a nice pastured chicken… and some actual fresh bay leaves. And, if it’s been a good waving day, a couple of dozen fewer strangers in the world. All of which, one way or another, is a good thing for your kids to learn. 

See, grandmothers are in charge of hope! 

Oh, and just one more thing. Before the pieces of the puzzle begin to make sense, we have to take them out of the box and play with them! Often paper and pens and images are helpful!

The Prophets March On!

On this third anniversary of our miraculous Newfoundland rescue dog, Luther’s, liberation from a hate-full puppy mill prison, I am pondering prophets. Two and four-footed ones. Perhaps you first met some in Sunday School, as I did. Amos and Micah. Isaiah and Jeremiah. Ezekiel and Joel.

Voices in my head that I did not quite understand, sounding somehow old and gruff no matter who was reading their words, rather like Walter Brueggemann when I first heard him teach through much younger ears!

And Dr. King, of course. Though I really don’t remember much before the night he was killed. We lived in Chicago and I was afraid.

And a way less old and gruff guy named Gary, who was my first church boss. He was, perhaps, ahead of the progressive curve in a small, rather 19th century-ish, southern town where he helped, a bit after I’d been there, to organize the near total boycott of a Klan parade, realizing that local leaders had to give the KKK a permit but nobody had to show up and watch.

And more recently, a whole tribe of women, joined by Red Thread and spattered in paint, putting empowered, I’d dare say prophetic, images of the divine feminine into a world filled with deep need and longing for their inspiration.

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One of my new artist friends is a woman named Billie Brown who created Weeping Madonna #1 in 2019. The “series of six images depicts young mothers sorrowing over their newborn children as they contemplate the racism rampant in America today and how it may harm their children.”

Weeping Madonna is a sister in prophecy with my Bella Mama from 2018, sheltering immigrant children under the folds of her robed arms.

And then, to zig more than a bit, a tall, young challenger on Iron Chef America sporting a baseball sort of hat that read In Diversity We Trust. Bold words from a self-described Norwegian Japanese Black guy from Minneapolis named Justin Sutherland. (He won!)

I’m guessing you have some examples, too. I’d love to hear them!

For now, though, some prophetic words of wisdom from one of my girls.

Kenzie was 9 when she went with her mom to the 2017 Women’s March on D. C. Mostly they stood, for about five hours, because there were so many people that they couldn’t actually march.  At one point, Kelly boosted Kenz up so she could see over the crowd and asked her where the people stopped. “The people don’t stop,” replied Kenzie. “They just keep going!”

We are the people! Or so say my gaggle of internal prophets who are more into questions than answers. Here’s their favorite:

If we believe what we say we believe, what, then, shall we do?

Only you can answer for you. If you’re not sure where to start, here are a couple of hints. Choose some candidates… local, state, national… who echo the long ago words of Mr. Jefferson and proclaim that we are all created equal. Then get involved.

(They don’t have to be the same folks I’ve chosen, but I wouldn’t mind if they were!)

March, in good shoes or in spirit, when you feel called. I marched on D.C. yesterday, in spirit and in connection with so many sisters.

Go check your mailbox for your 2020 ACLU membership card. Mine came this week! And, if you’re not a member yet, it’s easy. Just tell them Sue sent you.

Look deep for prophesy in the images around you. Which ones call out to you? What are they asking of you?

And join in creation. Words, paint, clay, buttons, soup, quilts, even babies. (Well, maybe grandbabies!)

We are the people. And we are partners in the future we dream.

p.s. Luther and Phoebe want you to know that you can reach our talented friend at billiebrown41@gmail.com and  there are new workshops coming soon! 

Onward with Annie!!!

I decided that the most subversive, revolutionary thing I could do was to show up for my life and not be ashamed. 

-The Word according  to Anne Lamott

It’s been a week for clinging to just those words. (Actually, I’ve been clinging to them for a lot longer than that, and you’ve probably heard them here before, but I’m okay with that!)

Standing up, on Sunday, with a small tribe of bravely anxious women, to BE and to create.

Accepting help on Monday for something I “should”  be able to do myself… traveling along with Luther on the grooming journey.

I don’t have the flexibility to do it alone. And it took a while to find him just the right expert who will sit on the floor in our family room and adjust every day professional patterns to the needs of a huge, blind dog with post traumatic stress.

Luther made it a whole 55 minutes!!! (And I could knit several dogs with what we swept off the floor!)

Then I spent some time painting with the very wise young man next door. While he worked away on his new project, and patiently explained the various categories of chaos from a video game, I felt this small canvas calling for some more love in the form of a Big, Scary Glaze (Dioxazine Purple) and then a good bit of silver, stirred with just a smidge of the purple left on my palette.

If we’re being real, it was was undoubtedly the wisdom of Anne Lamott just peeking through the drips and glaze that was calling to me!

Then I did something that is a major stretch for me personally but is completely aligned with what I believe. It was hard. It will probably be hard when I do it again on Thursday. And Friday. And some more next week and the week after.

I’m hoping it will be a little less hard each day.

I know it will be just as important.

Which is, I suspect, why the hand written intention that insisted on being included in my new painting, Oracle and Ally – otherwise known as Legend, is both prayer and promise to myself and to my teachers. To Annie and Shiloh and Stella Mac and all the rest. To all the generations of mothers and grandmothers, from all over the world, who came before me and made me and my girls, bit by bit, for this moment.

Yes, it’s scary. But that’s no reason to hide.

#WIP’s abound! And I’ve started a serious practice of “should-ing” on myself a whole lot less!

 

 

Goin’ On A Squeegie Hunt!

Let’s play a game! It’s a bit like that old summer camp song the little kids loved. Goin’ on a squeegie hunt. Gonna catch a big one. I’m not afraid! 

For this moment, it’s just me goin’ on the hunt, with you eavesdropping, as it were. I’ll do (almost) all the work. This adventure can also be used for group processing, family counseling, all kinds of things. It starts like this..

I say something that’s true in this moment… at least for me… All kinds of things are swimming around in my head.

Then, I say… But before that… my DNA test results came back yesterday.

Then, I say… But after that… my sister found out that she got in to the Mayflower Society, today.

But before that… my sister also found out that she got in to the Daughters of the American Revolution.

But after that… I listened to a lot of people speaking in opposition to a possible war in Iran. (Yes, you’d know some of their names.) One young man spoke about his family, in Iran, having to watch his wedding via a web service because they couldn’t come to the USA for the ceremony.

But before that… We moved around a lot when I was a kid, and I never really felt a strong sense of place.

But after that… My girls wanted to hear stories about our family. Stories “from your mouff, Grammy.” So I told (tell) them lots of stories.

But before that… Elsie, my Farm Gramma, told me lots and lots of stories about our family. And my city grandparents, Elmer and Elizabeth, showed me lots of pictures. (Many of them, people fishing!)

But after that… I learned geography in middle school from a retired military officer who seemed mostly interested in places he’d served, which seemed to leave several of those big things called continents out of the discussion!

But before that… some of those people in some of my family stories came to America on boats. (The Mayflower thing was probably a hint!) The ones I knew about came from places like England and Scotland and Sweden.

But after that… one of my uncles, whose nickname we’ll skip, got deeply into the genealogy thing and I learned more stories about those people.

But before that…  some of those people who came to America on boats had families who had come from places I didn’t know about.

But after that… I started my journey into the world of Intentional Creativity® and I made friends and deep connections with women from all over the world.

But before that… I was once a poor single mom and, somehow, I coped by trying to worry mostly about things happening in my neighborhood.

But after that… One of my new friends told me some stories that brought hurricanes and earthquakes in Puerto Rico into my neighborhood. And other friends brought fires in California and Australia into my neighborhood. And other friends brought earthquakes and floods in Mexico into my neighborhood. And most of them brought new images and legends and possibilities into my neighborhood, too!

But before that… and before that… and before that… My ancestors lived in what is now the UK and Sweden, for sure. They also lived in what we now call Germany and Tuscany (!) and France and Spain and Puerto Rico and Peru and East Asia and Iran and Africa. (I’ve probably missed a few but I’m still learning!)

And after that… my neighborhood got a whole lot bigger!

All of which makes me curious… What happened for you, before and after? Send me a note…

But before that… I’m off to pack paint. It’s TreeWoman day tomorrow!

And after that… I have some more stories to learn and to tell and, quite probably, to paint!

 

 

Keeping My Eyes Open!

If the weather elves who inhabit my phone are correct, it will not quite freeze tonight.

That works for me. (Even Luther will be happy with the balmy 36 degrees. No ice on the back steps!)

Not being a Newfoundland, I’m looking forward to growth.

The mail is filled with seed catalogs, one of which was considerately printed on non-shiny, collage appropriate paper and is, appropriately, headed for Sunday’s painting workshop which is all about growth.

Aided, I trust, by the raft of new liner brushes pictured above. (Did they really have to put sticky labels on the handles of all 12 of them???)

A dear friend dropped by for a visit today with newborn herbs, a gift from her husband, the seed guy. Time to rearrange lamps a bit… it’s too cold for outside. Parsley and basil, here we come!

And then there’s the which one is not like the others item in the photo.

Raw cacao powder, headed for Friday’s baking project. A flourless chocolate cake for Sunday’s paint sisters. (Yes, there’s still time for a couple more of you to sign up!)

Though, compared to big brand cake in a box, which half my family couldn’t eat, I guess it is growth!

Here’s the way Kenzie and I did it for Christmas dinner, with considerable inspiration from Ina Garten, Alton Brown, some wise things I’ve learned along the way, and a couple of web site versions.

Chocolate Cake (Almost) All Of Us Can Love

Figure about 45 minutes for actual kitchen bonding and another couple of hours for the fridge to do its thing.

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 1 c. dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate. (In our case, Green & Black’s organic 85% dark.)
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, preferably organic. Save wrapper!
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar. (Nobody’s perfect!)
  • 1/4 tsp. finely ground sea salt.
  • 1 tsp. real vanilla extract.
  • 3 large room temp. eggs (preferably pasture raised) slightly beaten.
  • 1/2 c. raw cacao powder or Dutch process cocoa powder. (We did 1/4 c. of each).
  • 1 good pinch espresso powder for baking or INSTANT espresso powder.

Ingredients for chocolate ganache topping:

  • 1 c. dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate. (The same type as above. Three 3.17 oz bars = the 2 c. total.)
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream, preferably organic.

Optional ingredients for garnishing *

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 

Using the wrapper from the butter, grease an 8″ round cake pan (We used stainless steel.) Cut a circle of unbleached parchment paper to fit and place it on the bottom of the pan. (This is an excellent job for a young helper!) Grease the parchment paper with the rest of the butter on the wrapper.

Place the chopped chocolate and butter over low to medium-low heat in a heavy sauce pan. Heat, stirring frequently, until the butter and chocolate are melted and well combined. (If you have a microwave, rumor has it that will work, too.) Remove from heat. 

Add sugar, salt, and vanilla extract, stirring to combine well.

Add the beaten eggs slowly, stirring well. (Kenzie is an excellent stir-er!)

Add the cacao/cocoa powder and espresso powder and mix just until combined.

Pour batter into prepared cake pan, keeping the sauce pan for later, unless you just love doing dishes! Bang bottom of cake pan on countertop to release air bubbles. Bake in center of oven for about 25 minutes, until the cake has a thin crust on top and a toothpick comes out not quite clean.

Cool cake on wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a table knife around the edges of the cake to loosen. Cover pan with a serving plate and flip so that the cake magically appears on the plate with the former bottom up. (This is, perhaps, not the best job for a young helper!) Discard parchment paper. Allow cake to cool completely, while making the ganache.

Combine 2nd batch of chopped chocolate and heavy cream in your sauce pan. Stir, over low to medium-low heat until all is melted, smooth, and shiny. (Or use microwave.)

Spread the miraculous ganache evenly over the cooled cake. Let it set up a couple hours or more before serving. The refrigerator works great and keeps the big dogs from very dangerous snacking!!!

*Slice cake into thin wedges (It’s rich!) and garnish with a dash of powdered sugar and fresh raspberries or strawberries if desired. Whipped cream or coffee ice cream would not be amiss.

This was REALLY good. And it keeps well in the fridge. Am experimenting with mini muffin tins for Sunday. I’ll keep you posted.

And do keep your eyes open with me. Noticing signs of growth seems like a pretty good practice just now!

 

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity® Color of Woman Teacher