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.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Recess and Redo, Turtle Shells and Memories

After work I attend an art reception, where my piece wins an Honorable Mention. I'm stoked by this given the caliber of work in the show, and also because I am dipping my toes back into the arena of exhibiting my art after an almost three year break. But it's a school night, and after a bit of socializing I hurry home with my son so we can begin homework and end-of-the-day routines. First, however, he grabs my hand shovel and I follow him into the woods, aware of the quickly diminishing sunlight. It always seems darker deep in the woods, I think, as he digs with the small shovel until he finds what he is looking for - a fat, writhing earthworm. We are fostering a young Box Turtle for a couple of weeks before releasing him back into the wild. The survival rate of these little guys is pretty low, and we wanted him to have a fighting chance. However, in a short time he'll need a foraging area about the size of a football field, and we can't provide that, so we'll be letting him go. No matter how good one's intentions are, too often wild things die in captivity - first the spirit, then the body.

At my son's school, there is an occasional special day called Recess or Redo. On this day, students have the choice to enjoy a variety of sports-based recess activities or redo work that they may not have done their best on. I love this concept. You can enjoy a bit of fun and freedom from regular school routines...or you can go back and change the final outcome of a test, assignment, etc. by redoing it.

It would be nice to have a recess and redo in life, wouldn't it? I groan many mornings lately when I check Facebook and discover it's dredged up particular memories from a few years ago. Joking with a friend over coffee one evening, I made the comment that sometimes I wish I could disable that memory timeline feature. "Don't you just wish you could go back and not have wasted so much time and energy on mess that didn't deserve it instead?" She says, and we laugh. Recess or Redo, I think.

I don't believe everything is a lesson. I believe some things are just gloriously poor choices that we make, usually when we are trying to confine ourselves to inauthentic ideas of who we are or should be. I'm not proud of the times when I chose to not respect myself and who I am by allowing myself to be treated poorly or to be in a relationship that wasn't right for me because I felt I needed someone else to be whole. I don't look for lessons in all the choices I made regarding this, and given the chance, yes, I would redo - or rather undo - a few memories, ones which resulted in my losing focus on my goals, which took years to get back and, as my friend said, ultimately amounted to just a lot of wasted time and energy.

Would I redo every failed relationship? Of course not. I wouldn't redo meeting my son's father because then I wouldn't have the handsome, amazing boy who is the light and love of my life. I moved across the country for love once, and I wouldn't redo that either, because the experiences I gained from that time of my life were amazing. These were ones where I truly learned lessons about who I am and who I am becoming. Were it not for these lessons, I, too, might have died in captivity years ago. First my spirit, then my body. A few since then, however...yeah...I cringe when Facebook spontaneously pops up with unpleasant (to me now) memories. Not because of the people in them, no. I cringe because of me, and how out of touch I must have been with who I really am to have even created those memories to begin with. That's what I'd really like to redo -  my choice to settle for much less that I deserve, to remain deep in those woods even when I knew darkness was approaching.

A friend calls to ask me if I would like to have three Box turtle shells that he found in the woods. He's collected them over the years, but now feels the call to let them go."I thought of you," he says, and I smile. Twenty-five years ago, my father brought me turtle shells from the wilds of Florida because when he found them, he thought of me. In my son's room, there is a rattle that I made from a turtle shell that I found in the woods near our home when he was an infant. He carried it for years when he danced in pow wows. Now it has a special place because it, too, has the power to call forth memories. Good memories. Memories of life. Memories of dancing.

There is a full circle in this, in seeing ourselves as the true, wild beings that we are, able to remain in captivity for only short time periods before withering away, no matter how carefully cared for, because the space we need to grow just isn't there. As I am writing this, my son runs downstairs. He's found a box we were missing, a small box of toys and mementos that were mine when I was a child. We have been searching for this little box, afraid it was lost in the flood last year. But he's found it, and together we open it.