Sunday, March 19, 2017

Honoring the Wishes of Children

It's been a busy few weekends. I've had a lot of fantastic art opportunities, and for that, I am very grateful. However, it's required a lot of weekends spent in the car, driving at least an hour away to deliver art to be exhibited.

I've tried to make the best of it each time, turning one such trip into a fun-filled day at Congaree National Park outside of Columbia, SC. If you are in the area, I highly recommend spending a day at this magical, mystical place. I've never seen terrain like this! We can't wait to go back. We spent the day there with a friend after dropping off a piece of art for a Women Speak, an art exhibit for Women's History Month Exhibit at the State Library in Columbia. I bought a sun printing kit there in the visitor's center that we can't wait to try out!

As this weekend drew closer, I reminded my son that I'd been invited to attend a gallery reception this weekend in North Carolina to see a friend's show, meet the gallery owner and network for possible exhibition opportunities in that area for the future. Professionally, this was important. And while this gallery is not too terribly far of a drive, but it would have meant another Saturday in the car.

Normally my son is as excited about weekend adventuring as I am, but apparently he'd had enough road tripping for a while, and expressed a deep desire for just a 'stay-at-home' weekend. For both of us. He wasn't whining; he just really, really, really wanted to be home.

Home. Our refuge, our favorite place above all. The place that inspired me to start my Radical Homemakers of South Carolina group. The place where we live and love. Where I create, where I gain my strength, balance, and focus.Yet for the past couple of months, it has seemed that on weekends, we've barely been here. This was an important networking opportunity....but...I am mother before all else. There will be more receptions and more networking opportunities. He is young and in my care only for this short, sweet while. And his voice deserves to be heard. His feeling and opinions matter. And if I, as his mother, don't teach him that his thoughts and feelings are important and deserve respect, who will?

It is always a bit of a balancing act when your life's work doesn't operate around weekly 9 to 5 hours. As an artist, you worry people won't take you or your work seriously if you don't attend or participate in events. But when you work full-time as well, the balancing act can begin feel like a juggling act. I found out that I, too, needed some stay-at-home time. Somehow, in the fun and adventuring of delivering art and attending events, the weekends have been slipping away with very little real, actual rest. Lying in the meadow in the sunshine yesterday, feeling the earth warm beneath me, hearing Spring come alive all around me, I remembered how important this balance of rest and energy is. How important time in nature is. Not just for children, but for all of us.

At the end of the day, my son, the aspiring chef, made Lemon Bars and I made Fudgy Vegan Beet Cupcakes.  A friend visited for coffee and conversation and had the delight of sampling both! Our evening ended peacefully as the day had begun.

Today I'll make some carrot soup with carrots we picked up at the Farmer's Market yesterday and banana bread with the Quinoa flour I splurged on because I've given up bread for Lent. Or maybe I'll let my son make one of them. Or both. Because it's easy to adventure without leaving home, really. And of course, I'll work on a few paintings here and there in between, as I always do.

Happy Weekend!

I currently have work on display at The South Carolina State Library and The Richland County Library, both in Columbia, SC. Pending exhibits in July and August; more information to come!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Black and White Photo Explorations

Well it seems I rarely find time to come around this way lately, but I've been painting and working and road-tripping like a fiend. And playing, of course. A lot. And playing around with black and white photography, an old love of mine that I return to from time to time.

Me, playing around in the woods after a day in Athens, Ga.
Love the way nature dwarfs me in this pic!
As my friends all know, and are likely tired of hearing about, I discovered our Cuban Cafe Uptown and have fallen hopelessly in love with Cuban coffee.

Colorful decor in black and white.

Small but mighty!
Of course exploring new coffees is one of my favorite traveling purposes! I was surprised when the boy was willing to try Turkish coffee with me at our favorite Middle Eastern restaurant!

 I have a Turkish pot at home and make this coffee frequently thanks to a friend who is married to a Turkish gent who brought me a pot back from Turkey and taught me how to do it properly!

He wasn't a huge fan...but I am proud he tried it!

Also been doing a bit of reading...

...and wandering about in nature wearing inappropriate shoes because the urge to wander in nature, for me, is always spontaneous...

...and enjoying - probably a bit too much - the Panera Bread that opened up here in our town last week!

Here's the boy and I at the grand 6:00am!
And since black and white is the real theme of this post, here's a shot of our new kitty, Sevarus Snape! He just happens to guessed and white! :-)

So stinkin' cute!

So that's a bit of what all I've been up to! If you are local to my area, check out my solo exhibit at The Mill House, which will be on display for the remainder of this month. I am preparing now for shows in June and August, and booking more as time permits. I'll keep you posted here about upcoming shows and new works!

Thanks for checking out my black and white photo explorations! 

Happy Sunday!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

What I Want to Say to You, Sam Kashner

Earlier this week, I finished When I Was Cool: My Life at the Jack Kerouac School by Sam Kashner. I didn't want the story to end. But of course, they all do. They must; otherwise we'd never discover the new stories.

I discovered this book on the shelves of a local thrift shop, and my first thought was excitement. "Who else in this community is reading about this? I want to meet them. I need to meet them." In small, rural Southern towns like mine, like-minded folks are often few and far between. Then I realized if it was at the thrift shop, they'd given the book up and maybe weren't so like-minded as myself after all. I paid my dollar and hurried home. Sam Kashner, if you are reading this, sorry that your book was in a thrift shop being resold for a dollar but if it makes you feel better, I've discovered my own book in a thrift shop before too. Happens to the best of us. And being a paperback, mine was only fifty-cents.

But seriously, I hope, Sam Kashner, that you will read this post one day and know that your book was probably the best dollar I ever spent. I can't even put into words how much I needed to read it. Your honesty, at times brutal and at the expense of your own ego, I'm sure, made the experience more real for me, the reader. But it was more than that, and this is not a book review. This was what I would say to you, if I could, if I had been able to find your email address or ever run into you on the streets when visiting New York.

Your book woke something up in me that I didn't even realize needing awakening. It reminded me that, throughout all the difficult and often financially un-prosperous years, my art, in whatever form it takes - painting, poetry, my one ill-fated book (long story there but involves years of work diminished by a shady publisher) - is always worth doing. Despite the fact that it may never set the world on fire, it's my legacy, and what I was born for. And financial prosperity doesn't always equate real success. As you know better than most, many of the Beat writers were always one step away from desperate poverty. Yet they accepted this and kept on living in the only way they knew how. Kerouac's reaction to his success is legendary, and I always felt like it was because he never expected it, not really. When you are used to a very select few people understanding you, truly 'getting' you, it would be nothing short of overwhelming to suddenly have the world at your door, clamoring for an audience, just to say to you, "I feel/think about/understand the world the same way."

Reading about your experiences was engaging and even humorous at times, but the end, the last chapters were what affected me so deeply. This next part I'd have to actually tell you personally, because it's far too intimate for me to share with the rest of the world why I related so much to the last pages of your book, and why they might have inspired me so. But you know what you wrote.What I want you to know is how glad I am that you wrote it, that you had the courage to tell your story from start to finish, open and honestly. Again this isn't a book review, but nevertheless, your story will remain with me now, in some small way becoming part of mine.

This is why what we do - our art, our poetry, our writing - is always worth doing.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

And the Winner Is.....

jen_marie226 of Instagram!

You've won Shannon Hayes'  The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook!

Congratulations! Please contact me via email to complete delivery! Thanks to everyone who participated in the giveaway! More to follow!

Happy Homemaking!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Will You Take the Pledge to Support Small Business Saturday?

Small businesses contribute to 55% of all jobs and 54% of all sales in the USA. If you are shopping this holiday season, it is crucial to support your favorite local stores! 

Most of you who know me well know that I tend to operate by the following principles...

However, sometimes I just have to shop. When I do, I strive to shop local and support local business owners in my community.

Small Business Saturday is a movement to remind people to support local businesses and keep our communities thriving in the midst of a Big Box, 'Black Friday' world. 

Fundera, which helps small businesses get the funding they need to be successful, explains why small businesses are so integral to communities here. Please follow the link, then take the pledge to support Small Business Saturday on November 26th!

Below is a list of small businesses local to my area! 
Hunny Bunny Designs Handmade stackable bracelets, ready made and custom. 
Breezy Quarters  Handmade Soap and Skincare with High Quality Ingredients for the Whole Family. 
Dinglehopper Decor Props, Custom Accessories, Calendars and Ornaments
Origami Owl Custom Jewelry
Hunter's Headquarters South Carolina's Home for all Your Shooting Sports Needs
Main & Maxwell Art by Hand Gallery and Boutique featuring and operate by local artists
Abbeville Sporting Goods  Abbeville Screenprinting, Awards & Embroidery
Aromas Village Coffee Restaurant and Coffee Shop featuring items by local artists and craftspeople
The Pantry Shoppe Deli and More
Hobby & Garden Center Garden Center and Toy Store
Emerald Farms Health Food Store, Toy Store, Gifts and Antiques, Goat's Milk Soap and Products, Train and Hobby Shops, Herb Gardens
Hospice Store Thrift Shop 
Rudd's Camera and Video Photographic Services and Supplies
H.H.Turner Jewelers Fine Jewelry, Custom Jewelry, Jewelry Repair Services

There are so many more, and many in your own communities as well! Please step out and support your local businesses tomorrow and during this holiday season! Take the Pledge! Shop Local!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Radical Homemakers of South Carolina First Official Meeting and Giveaway!!

Over the years, I've experienced quite a shift in perspective. Twenty years ago, for example, my focus was purely on career, and what kind of dynamic one I could (and should- I was a child of 80s entitlement after all) have, and how successful and prosperous that career would make me. Etc., etc., it gets quite boring if I go on because it's basically the story of every young lady my age who watched Working Girl.

However, times change and so do we. Twenty years worth of experiences, including grad school, motherhood, and working often more than one job to make ends meet have lead me to realize that, at the end of the day, when we are tired and dragging and exhausted by the world, there is one safe, almost holy place we retreat to.


What makes our home such a sacred place isn't trendy furniture, mod wall decor or stainless steel everything, it's us. It's the story of our little family, in photos and child-rendered art and postcards on the wall. It's the smell of something baked earlier in the day that lingers in the air for hours. It's the inherited antiques and handmade items that remind us where we came from, and it's our faith and the joys of a life simply lived to remind us where we are going. It's mending a beloved shirt and picking one's supper from a backyard garden. It's a feeling of taking care of ourselves, others, and the earth through simple living and honoring nature's cycles. It's stepping out of the fast consumer pace of mainstream society into something a little...bit...slower.

I discovered Shannon Hayes' book, Radical Homemaking, at the perfect time of my life; a time when I was coming to terms with who I really was and what I really wanted from life, and trying to wrap my brain around how I could have gotten to such a dramatically different mindset from where I started. Hayes' book laid it all out and made something painfully clear - it just makes sense. For the sake of our families, our communities, and our environment, there must be change in how we live our daily lives.

And this change must start at home.

It isn't easy or simple to change one's lifestyle overnight; my journey took years and involved coming full-circle back to faith and accepting the idea of inter-dependence over independence. As a single mother, I have to be a breadwinner as well as homemaker, but my heart is fully centered on my family and making the most of the time I don't have to be at work (Luckily for me, working in education, I can enjoy more time off that typical careers offer!) Over the past few years, I've found amazing ways to save money vs. having to work additional jobs to make more money, which has opened up new paths in our lives for friendship and connection with like-minded others. Trading, bartering, using less, reducing I type this, three small baked pumpkins cool on the stove. Decorative? For a short while, maybe, but they will soon become pie filling, and their big brother outside will become pumpkin butter next week. This little bit of work is just a tiny taste of what a producing home looks like. Just like last year, the majority of our holiday gifts this season are handmade, either by ourselves our others. And much of it is edible.

Small steps towards stronger, healthier families, communities, and environments. Lifestyle changes that will make a lasting imprint on our children and provide for them the groundwork to leading more sustainable lives. If this interests you, please consider joining or creating a Radical Homemakers Group in your area! (our South Carolina based group page is here!) If you are in my area, consider attending our first official meeting next week, where we will be crafting holiday garlands (inspired by this post by Faye at Blessed Hearth, one of my favorite blogs!) and eating and drinking yummy homemade things. To kickstart our group's first official meeting, I am giving away Hayes' popular book, The Grassfed Gourmet Cookbook: Healthy Cooking and Good Living with Pasture-Raised Foods.***


To participate in the giveaway, leave a comment below with your name and email address! Extra entry if you share this post on social media (mention in your comment that you did this!)  And, if you are already in the SC based FB group, comment on the blog post on that site for an extra entry as well!

Happy Homemaking! Will be blogging soon about keeping the holidays simple and the importance of Small Business Saturday (coming up next week!)

***Giveaway open to US residents only! So sorry my foreign readers but shipping costs on the book are just insane! :-(

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Fall Pow Wows....and Preparing

Yesterday, we released the small Box turtle we were fostering back into the wild, so that he could eat eat eat before his hibernating instincts kick in. I had planned to keep him a couple more weeks, but I grew weary at seeing him pressed against the side of his container, little feet up, looking out. Confinement, even when well-intended, can seem so cruel sometimes. And while it pained my heart to let him go, I knew it was the best thing for him in those moments.

Look closely...
My son is becoming a very confident, independent young man who also desires freedom, a bit more right now than I am honestly willing to give. Like the small turtle, he wants out - out into the world. He uses terms like 'quest' and 'adventure' and I can remember being his age and asking my own parents for permission to sleep alone in a tent at the far end of our property. The small turtle took baby steps into the wild; my son wants to run and leap into it as most young men do. And while I don't want to confine him, I am still a mother, and mothers hold on tight. We also prepare - prepare our homes, prepare food, prepare our young to go out into the world. The first two things we do instinctively, sometimes almost mindlessly, it seems. The last one, well....

This weekend we attend the Palmetto American Indian Association's 10th Annual Powwow. 

Grand Entry
Grand Entry
 Summer here in the South is intensely hot; we spend more time indoors that usual, too much time indoors, really. So when Autumn finally comes around, it's liberating, and weekends are sacred times spent together, getting out more often, and attending as many Autumn powwows as we can. 

I grew up attending and dancing in pow wows; it was a huge part of my youth and some of my best memories with family are from pow wows. I introduced my son to pow wow dancing as soon as he could take a few steps; he was 4 when he danced solo for the first time. Of course, in keeping with tradition, all of his regalia was handmade by me or passed down to him from someone else. I danced too, and was thrilled to be passing on to him these traditions.

Solidarity with Standing Rock is so important right now.
Last year's rains and subsequent flooding meant that we didn't attend any fall pow wows at all. It took us most of the winter to recover and come spring pow wows, we were still catching up, it seemed. Then the smothering, stifling heat of a Southern Summer settled in all around us. I read. Painted. Took long (and very early or very late) walks with my son. Took care of home and hearth. Gardened. Played. Lived. Loved. But we didn't go out and about too much, especially during the middle of the day. Naps took the place of afternoon outings. 

Edisto River on the drum
Pow Wows are much more than dancing. Culture, history, the ways of our people...this is a place to learn, a place where it all comes alive.
However, the first cooler days of fall have gotten us up and at 'em early on Saturday mornings, eager to get out more often, to quest and adventure, to hit the pow wow trail, see old friends, make new friends, teach my son, as he steps towards becoming a man, the importance of culture and heritage. To instill in him the stories and the traditions that will guide him on his path.

We watched the little turtle we released for a good while, watching the path he made as he went deeper and deeper into the woods, further and further away from us. We could only choose when to let him go; we couldn't choose for him what trails he would make or follow. My heart ached just a little as he disappeared from sight, making his way, instinctively.

With our children it is like this, times infinity. We spend so much time preparing them that we don't even think about what we are, ultimately, preparing them for. We just do it, instinctively. In the three hours since I began writing this post, I had to pause numerous times. I've washed the week's laundry and made breakfast, taken care of animals and checked on skinned knees. I've helped search for lost things, put a pot of beans on to cook for coming week's meals, hung laundry out on the line to dry and prepared the gift for my Mother's birthday celebration later today. I know very few artists, artisans and writers who have hours of uninterrupted time to hone their crafts. No. Most I know work in this same way - constantly pausing. Always preparing.

Fry bread life!
For the next few years I will prepare my son to move towards manhood. For the next few weeks, I will prepare for coming pow wows in Georgia and South Carolina. For the past few days I prepared the little turtle to be released. Today I prepare for the party this afternoon and food and clothing for the coming week. The morning is cool; the earth is letting go of summer to prepare for winter. 

Mothers are always preparing. 

I was inspired to go out to more Pow Wows this autumn by Evenbrite's Get Out More Often (GOMO) campaign, which is all about spending your money on experiences this fall rather than material things.  For information on how they can help you plan your next event, e-support ticket sales and other features, including discounted options for non-profits, please visit their event management page. For more information on pow wows in your area,visit or Six Directions Traders Pow Wow Page.