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at the finish line (almost)

game board path in cross shapeNovember 17, 2015

Today’s post is my second to last (Day 364). I’ll admit to feeling a bit relieved as I finish up, but also slightly sad. It will take a little while to adjust to my normal days again, and I will very much miss the connection with my readers and followers.

To finish is sadness to a writer, a little death. He puts the last word down and it is done. But it isn’t really done. The story goes on and leaves the writer behind, for no story is ever done. -John Steinbeck

Your spirit is the duster of any spider web. Behind every finish line, there is a start one. Behind every success, there is another challenge. While you are alive, be alive. If you miss what you once did, do it again. Don’t live in yellow photos… Continue although everyone expects you to give up…When because of years you cannot run, jog. When you cannot jog, walk. When you cannot walk, use a cane. But never stop! -Mother Teresa

There are times when you run a marathon and you wonder, Why am I doing this? But you take a drink of water, and around the next bend, you get your wind back, remember the finish line, and keep going. -Steve Jobs

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning. -Louis L’Amour

Success is empty if you arrive at the finish line alone. -Howard Schultz

Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. -2 Corinthians 8:11 NIV

human connection

1950s illustrations of people on the phone, connected by linesNovember 16, 2015

Human connection is the most fulfilling and important aspect to life (I say this with utmost conviction as a dyed-in-the-wool introvert who avoids groups and crowds and loves to be alone). Cynics decry today’s technology as the foundation of an anti-social society, but electronic devices allow many lonely, isolated or socially-challenged people–on top of gregarious, outgoing, social extroverts– to feel more connected to communities and other like-minded human beings (their “peeps,” so to speak) like never before. And that, I believe, is a godsend.

Ubuntu: a Zulu proverb [that] means: ‘I am a person through other people. My humanity is connected to yours.’ -author unknown

A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men. -Herman Melville

Security isn’t what I hunger for…I hunger for connection. -Eve Ensler

The opposite of addiction is human connection. -Johann Hari

too far from you

cross variation on Georgia O'Keefe's Ladder to the MoonNovember 15, 2015

Today’s post was inspired by a song I heard on a tv show the other night. It’s one of the prettiest songs I’ve ever heard. The original version of “Too Far From You,” was written and performed by Sarah Siskind. The image I’ve included is my digital adaptation (to include the horizontal ladder) of Georgia O’Keefe’s painting “Ladder to the Moon.”

Some days
I’m inside a cloud
So tired
I just
Float around
And I’m lost again
I’m lost
Too far from you
Lyrics from “Too Far Away” by Sarah Siskind

…all [life’s beautiful moments] return to me amid the responsibilities which press upon me now, and I feel as if I had once lived in heaven, and, straying, had lost my way. -J. G. Holland

I am too far away from what I love and my distance is without remedy. -Albert Camus

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind but now i see
-Lyrics to “Amazing Grace,” a Christian hymn published in 1779 by John Newton

a slice of heaven

pizza slice with mushrooms making crossNovember 14, 2015

You didn’t think I could go the whole year without a pizza-related cross, did you?

So learn about life. Cut yourself a big slice with the silver server, a big slice of pie. Open your eyes. Let life happen. -Sylvia Plath

We’re trapped on this very thin slice of perception…But even at that slice of reality that we call home, we’re not seeing most of what’s going on. -David Eagleman

Re-establish contact with a slice of eternity. -Etty Hillesum

five things

painting of five objects in pink against green backgroundNovember 13, 2015

After today, there are only five crosses left to make. To that end, I’m listing five things I’ve learned or come to appreciate more than ever this past year.

  1. Ideas are infinite and come from the ethers. Be open to receive.
  2. Simple is difficult but worth the effort.
  3. Let it go. Move on.
  4. Cheap brushes and paints aren’t worth the frustration they will soon cause.
  5. I could make cloud art every day.

Water will not flow from a faucet that is not connected to its source. -Mary Morrissey

How difficult it is to be simple. -Vincent van Gogh

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

The bitterness of poor quality is remembered long after the sweetness of low price has faded from memory. -Aldo Gucci

Clouds on clouds, in volumes driven,
Curtain round the vault of heaven.
-Thomas Love Peacock

true colors

painter's palette with each different color in the shape of crossNovember 12, 2015

People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and endings, but to me it’s quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations, with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. -Markus Zusak

Your mind will be like its habitual thoughts; for the soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts. Soak it then in such trains of thoughts as, for example: Where life is possible at all, a right life is possible. -Marcus Aurelius

What skillful [painter] e’er would choose
To paint the rainbow’s varying hues,
Unless to mortal it were given
To dip his brush in dyes of heaven?

-Walter Scott

Like the rainbow, peace rests upon the earth, but its arch is lost in heaven. -Charles Caleb Colton

lords, priests and superheroes

vintage dominoes laid out in cross shape over faded instructionsNovember 11, 2015

In French, “domino” once referred to a type of black and white hood worn by Christian priests in Europe. (That word most likely derived from the Latin word “dominus,” meaning master, or lord.) Over time, a “domino” came to refer to a hooded masquerade costume with a half mask and two openings for eyes. Eventually, a domino meant just the mask itself. For example, the superhero characters of the Lone Ranger, Zorro and Batman’s sidekick Robin wear domino masks. Now visualize a domino tile with one white spot on either side (the 1-1 tile)–see the resemblance? Although dominoes are played as a traditional game all over the world, many people have more fun lining them up on end and watching them fall in a cascading motion.

A complete stranger has the capacity to alter the life of another irrevocably. This domino effect has the capacity to change the course of an entire world. That is what life is; a chain reaction of individuals colliding with others and influencing their lives without realizing it. -J.D. Stroube, Caged by Damnation

Hope can be imagined as a domino effect, a chain reaction, each increment making the next increase more feasible. -Jerome Groopman

Of course I have played outdoor games. I once played dominoes in an open air cafe in Paris. -Oscar Wilde

beautiful scraps

watercolor of gee's bend quilt with the addition of a cross designNovember 10, 2015

Given my days as a modern quilter, it’s surprising I haven’t yet made a post in that vein. I do know that making a quilt is a lot harder than painting one (at least in this case)! Today, I’m using one of the famous Gee’s Bend* quilts, designed with scarce scraps of fabric, as inspiration for a watercolor. I’ve made a few simple changes to include the cross design where before there was none.

Those who have not found their true wealth, which is the radiant joy of Being and the deep, unshakable peace that comes with it, are beggars, even if they have great material wealth. They are looking outside for scraps of pleasure or fulfillment, for validation, security, or love, while they have a treasure within that not only includes all those things but is infinitely greater than anything the world can offer. -Eckhart Tolle

When I am frayed and strained and drizzle at the end
Please someone cut a square and put me in a quilt
That I might keep some child warm
And some old person with no one else to talk to
Will hear my whispers
And cuddle

-Nikki Giovanni

The lives of most men are patchwork quilts. Or at best one matching outfit with a closet and laundry bag full of incongruous accumulations. -Jesse Owens

Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost -John 6:12

*Gee’s Bend is a rural community along the banks of the Alabama River, isolated culturally and geographically from other communities, now inhabited by the descendants of slaves. This particular design is attributed to Lucy Mooney and dated around 1930-1940.

word power

underwood typewriter with typed paper coming outNovember 9, 2015

I treasure this old Underwood typewriter, found at a thrift store. It had a more than reasonable price tag of $50, but when I asked if they’d take $35, they didn’t bat an eye in saying yes. (Ask and you shall receive!)

He found whole figures which represented a written word; but he never could manage to represent just the word he wanted – that word was ‘eternity’, and the Snow Queen had said, ‘If you can discover that figure, you shall be your own master, and I will make you a present of the whole world and a pair of new skates.’ But he could not find it out. -Hans Christian Andersen

Every spoken word double-crosses us. The only tolerable form of communication is the written word, since it isn’t a stone in a bridge between souls but a ray of light between stars. -Fernando Pessoa

The written word has this advantage, that it lasts and can await the time when it is allowed to take effect. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. -J. K. Rowling

At the typewriter you find out who you are. -Tom Robbins

I’m up to my ears in unwritten words. -J. D. Salinger

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. -John 1:1 NIV

accidental observer (s)

jesus and mary statues looking at cross shadowNovember 8, 2015

The plan was to overpaint some inexpensive religious figurines in bright neon pinks, yellows and greens–sort of a shocking, unexpected take on the traditional. Before burying these Ebay finds of Jesus and Mary under a layer of fluorescent spray paint, I first tried using them as objects forming today’s cross. But as I began to arrange them on a white background near the window, an imposing shadow made its own cross. The statues then became mere observers, rather than the main show.

He is a great observer, and he looks
Quite through the deeds of men.
-William Shakespeare

The observer, when he seems to himself to be observing a stone, is really, if physics is to be believed, observing the effects of the stone upon himself. -Bertrand Russell

The observer is a prince enjoying his incognito wherever he goes. -Charles Baudelaire

Observe others and learn, observe nature and learn but, above all, observe self and learn, for this is one of the main keys to spiritual perfection. -Ian Gardner

I am an observer but I have much to see -Kalyani Rajalingham

Divine and undivine.
He alone is the Doer;
I am a mere observer.
-Sri Chinmoy

queen of hearts

mother mary face with red petalsNovember 7, 2015

Yesterday I came home with two lush, vivid geraniums (my flower pots have been empty all through the impossibly hot summer). They made a messy trail of petals on my kitchen floor, but one that caught my eye formed a perfect, blazing red heart.

Mother Mary, full of grace, awaken…
calm our fears, have mercy,
Drowning in a sea of tears, have mercy,
Hear our mournful plea…

In the dark night of the soul bring some comfort to us all,
O Mother Mary come and carry us in your embrace,
That our sorrows may be faced,

Mary fill the glass to overflowing,
Illuminate the path where we are going…
find us where we’ve fallen out of grace,
Lead us to a higher place,

In the dark night of the soul our broken hearts you can make whole,
O Mother Mary come and carry us in your embrace,
Let us see your gentle face, Mary…
-Lyrics from Requiem, by Eliza Gilkyson

In my own worst seasons I’ve come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing: a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window. -Barbara Kingsolver


1960s photo of woman with beehive and glasses wearing gold cross necklaceNovember 6, 2015

Some looks go out of fashion; others are timeless and eternal.

We believe that man’s value – as every creature’s value, ultimately – lies not in the mere intellect but in the spirit: in the capacity to reflect that which…we choose to call “the divine,” i.e. that which is true and beautiful beyond all manifestation, that which remains timeless (and therefore unchangeable) within all changes. -Savitri Devi

The hand above turns those leaves of loves, all in all a timeless view. Each dream of life flung from paradise everlasting, ever new. -Patti Smith

Truthless times need timeless truths. -Mark Driscoll

still life

still life painting in the style of William ScottNovember 5, 2015

My favorite painter, hands down, is William Scott, a British artist of Irish and Scottish descent, best known for his still lifes (I never, ever thought I could love still lifes so much!). The simple objects he chose to depict became flattened and abstracted over the years, until often they appeared as mere forms and pattern. Remarkably simple, his paintings radiate a powerful and exuberant presence. Today, I’m making a “Still Life with Cross,” loosely inspired by Scott’s work.

Portraits often seem pregnant with speech…But no word will ever be spoken [in a still life], among the flowers and snails, the solid and dependable apples, this heap of rumpled books, this pewter plate…These are resolutely still, immutable…it is the act of painting them that makes them perennially poised, an emergent truth about to be articulated…-Mark Doty, Still Life with Oysters and Lemon

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders. -Lao Tzu

We cannot see our reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see. -Taoist proverb

In the stillness of the mind I saw myself as I am: unbound. -Nisargadatta Maharaj

Nothing in all creation is so like God as stillness. -Meister Eckhart

Compose yourself in stillness, draw your attention inward and devote your mind to the Self. The wisdom you seek lies within. -Bhagavad Gita

Be still, and know that I am God. -Psalm 46:10 KJV


anatomy painting of lungs with shape of cross between themNovember 4, 2015

I love looking at anatomical drawings and charts as much as I do maps of the world. The seemingly vague and mysterious relationship of one entity to another suddenly becomes clear. Our imagined reality, in comparison to actual reality, is often very surprising.

You know that our breathing is the inhaling and exhaling of air.  The organ that serves for this is the lungs that lie round the heart, so that the air passing through them thereby envelops the heart.  Thus breathing is a natural way to the heart.  And so …with this inhaled air, force your mind to descend into the heart and to remain there. -Nicephorus the Solitary

I inhale great draught of space…the east and west are mine…and the north and south are mine…I am grandeur than I thought…I did not know I held so much goodness. -Walt Whitman

A sigh isn’t just a sigh. We inhale the world and breathe out meaning. While we can. While we can. -Salman Rushdie, The Moor’s Last Sigh

Inhale, and God approaches you. Hold the inhalation, and God remains with you. Exhale, and you approach God. Hold the exhalation, and surrender to God. Krishnamacharya

Inhale Peace, Exhale Joy -Author Unknown

When I was a kid, I inhaled many times. That was the point. -Barack Obama


reverse image in blue of woman looking up with type in shape of cross superimposed on imageNovember 3, 2015

What you encounter, recognize or discover depends to a large degree on the quality of your approach…When we approach with reverence, great things decide to approach us…When we walk on the earth with reverence, beauty will decide to trust us. -John O’Donohue, Beauty: The Invisible Embrace

There is only one valid way to partake of the universe–whether the partaking is of food and water, the love of another, or, indeed, a pill. That way is characterized by reverence–a reverence born of a felt sense of participation in the universe, a kinship with all and with all matter. -Larry Dossey

Life must have its sacred moments and its holy places. We need the infinite, the limitless, the uttermost–all that can give the heart a deep and strengthening peace. -A. Powell Davies, Without Apology: Collected Meditations on Liberal Religion

Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence. -Henry David Thoreau

which came first (?)

side by side paintings of pink heart with red cross in it, and a red cross with a pink heart in itNovember 2, 2015

Which came first, the phoenix or the flame?…I think the answer is that a circle has no beginning. -J. K. Rowling

Which came first, the mind or the idea of the mind? Have you never wondered? They arrived together. The mind is an idea. -Bernard Beckett

What came first–the music or the misery? Did I listen to the music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to the music? -Nick Hornby

Which came first–the observer or the particle? -Vanna Bonta

Just to settle it once and for all: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The egg, laid by a bird that was not a chicken. -Neil deGrasse Tyson

We love because he first loved us. -1 John 4:19 NIV

magical unicorn

watercolor of unicorn, with horn made into crossNovember 1, 2015

November is…magical. This year, not only does it mark my birthday (and, as always, the prelude to the holiday season), but also the conclusion of this year-long artistic/creative project. After a little extra celebration and rest, there will now be extra time to catch up on a very long, very neglected reading list. Now that, my friends, marks pure, unadulterated, magical days ahead…

The saintly hermit, midway through his prayers
stopped suddenly, and raised his eyes to witness
the unbelievable: for there before him stood
the legendary creature, startling white, that
had approached, soundlessly, pleading with his eyes…

High on his forehead rose the magic horn, the sign
of his uniqueness: a tower held upright
by his alert, yet gentle, timid gait…

His eyes looked far beyond the saint’s enclosure,
reflecting vistas and events long vanished,
and closed the circle of this ancient mystic legend.
-Rainer Maria Rilke, The Unicorn

‘Well, now that we have seen each other,’ said the unicorn, ‘if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you.’ -Lewis Carroll

Everything today has been heavy and brown. Bring me a Unicorn to ride about the town. -Anne Morrow Lindbergh


brown paper bag in shape of cross, with almond joy wrapping to sideOctober 31, 2015

It’s Halloween! What will you collect in your bag of treats? En-joy!

I’m going to enjoy every second, and I’m going to know I’m enjoying it while I’m enjoying it. Most people don’t live; they just race. They are trying to reach some goal far away on the horizon, and in the heat of the going they get so breathless and panting that they lose sight of the beautiful, tranquil country they are passing through; and then the first thing they know, they are old and worn out, and it doesn’t make any difference whether they’ve reached the goal or not. -Jean Webster

I’d like to be the sort of person who can enjoy things at the time, instead of having to go back in my head and enjoy them. -David Foster Wallace

Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough. -Emily Dickinson

Enjoy life. There’s plenty of time to be dead. -Hans Christian Andersen

No man is a failure who is enjoying life. -William Feather

However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all. -Ecclesiastes 11:8


October 30, 2015

A symbol is indeed the only possible expression of some invisible essence, a transparent lamp about a spiritual flame… -William Butler Yeats

When someone becomes transparent, then something shines through that person that has nothing to do with the person or any of his or her personal history. What is required is becoming so transparent that the self or ego dissolves. -Eckhart Tolle

Be transparent as wind, be as possible and relentless and dangerous, be what moves things forward without needing to leave a mark, be part of this collection of molecules that begins somewhere unknown and can’t help but keep rising. Rising.Rising. Rising. -Eve Ensler

The world needs transparent lives, clear souls, pure minds… -Pope Benedict XVI

In the kingdom of glass everything is transparent, and there is no place to hide a dark heart. -Vera Nazarian

facial features

black silhouette with red cross on top of face, in the style of Agostino IacurciOctober 29, 2015

The purpose of this project has been to experiment and play with different media and styles. Today, I’m emulating Italian street artist Agostino Iacurci, whose work I admire very much. In his version, the man holds a large red and white swirly lollipop which also obscures any facial features.

There is a face beneath this mask, but it isn’t me. I’m no more that face than I am the muscles beneath it, or the bones beneath that. -Steve Moore, V for Vendetta

In his face there came to be a brooding peace that is seen most often in the faces of the very sorrowful or the very wise. -Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

His dress told her nothing, but his face told her things which she was glad to know. -A.A. Milne, Once on a Time

And so, try to remember…who and what you have been, what you have done, what you have seen, who you actually are in all those guises, the masks of the God and the Goddess, the masks of your own Original Face. -Ken Wilber, Eye of Spirit

When we see the face of God we shall know that we have always known it. -C.S. Lewis

little wonders

linear drawing of cross including heart, cloud, leaf and eyeOctober 28, 2015

Do you know the song “Little Wonders” by Rob Thomas (of Matchbox 20)? It was recorded for Disney’s animated feature “Meet the Robinsons” in 2007. I love it. Look it up, take a listen and sing along….

Let it go, let it roll right off your shoulder
Don’t you know the hardest part is over?
Let it in, let your clarity define you
In the end we will only just remember how it feels

Let it slide, let your troubles fall behind you
Let it shine until you feel it all around you
And I don’t mind if it’s me you need to turn to
We’ll get by, it’s the heart that really matters in the end

Our lives are made in these small hours
These little wonders, these twists and turns of fate
Time falls away but these small hours
These small hours still remain

-Lyrics from “Little Wonders,” by Rob Thomas

love, Indiana style

Robert Indiana's LOVE design painted on wood crossOctober 27, 2015

It seems that almost everybody knows the famous LOVE design by Robert Indiana, with its LO perched atop the VE and rendered in red, blue and green. Apparently, Indiana (who was born Robert Clark, but later changed his last name to that of his home state), was inspired by his childhood experiences attending a Christian Science church, where the only wall decoration was an inscription stating “God is Love.” For today, I’ve carefully placed and painted the LOVE design to fit and fill a wood cross.

Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source. -Leo Tolstoy

Love is real, real is love
Love is feeling, feeling love
Love is free, free is love
Love is living, living love
Love is needing to be loved
-Lyrics from “Love” by John Lennon

Some people like to paint trees. I like to paint love. I find it more meaningful than painting trees. -Robert Indiana

My goal is that LOVE should cover the world. -Robert Indiana

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. -1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV

three-part harmony (a.k.a. candy corn)

cross painted like candy cornOctober 26, 2015

Oh, candy corn (I really try not to touch the stuff. It’s pure crack!), iconic marker of the season, beautiful in its three-part, layered simplicity.

Virtue consisteth of three parts,–temperance, fortitude, and justice. -Epicurus

According to this philosophy, each man consists of three parts – the body, the internal organ or the mind, and behind that, what is called the Atman, the Self. -Swami Vivekananda

The soul of man is divided into three parts, intelligence, reason, and passion. Intelligence and passion are possessed by other animals, but reason by man alone. -Pythagoras

Just an old-fashioned love song
One I’m sure they wrote for you and me
Comin’ down in three-part harmony
Lyrics to An Old Fashioned Love Song, by Three Dog Night

Think of the Father as a root, and of the Son as a branch, and the Spirit as a fruit, for the substance in these three is one. -John of Damascus, monk

All of the candy corn that was ever made was made in 1911. -Lewis Black


sink with hot and cold faucets shaped like crossesOctober 25, 2015

Water does not resist. Water flows…Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone…Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does. -Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad

Cold words freeze people, and hot words scorch them…Kind words also produce their own image on men’s souls; and a beautiful image it is. They smooth, and quiet, and comfort the hearer. -Blaise Pascal

You have to turn the faucet on before the water starts to flow. -Louis L’Amour

Water will not flow from a faucet that is not connected to its source. -Mary Morrissey