Seeking Solitude

The first part of my vacation was spent visiting my little sister in Atlanta. She lives in a very nice area, in a very upscale neighborhood, in a beautiful home. Her home is near the neighborhood park that extends to the river and is a undeveloped tract of land. It is a mix of grasses and woods making it a delightful area to walk. As we walked the path, her dog Beau surged ahead and lagged behind depending on what scents he discovered. There were some deer that watched us warily. The air was full of bird song and the sound of an early morning frog chorus. As we walked our steps were accented by the rustling of dried leaves and the soft crunch of loose rock. There had been a big storm the day before and the path was littered with a variety of debris from the trees – twigs and leaves and the occasional seed pod from the magnolias. We were talking and laughing while we enjoyed the stroll. And then we reached the limit of the park. My sister guided us beyond the boundary of the park and we broke the law. We trespassed onto private property and into the bamboo forest. As we stepped into the bamboo, the silence fell around us. There was no bird song. There was only a stillness. Looking ahead there was only the green and brown of the bamboo.

Looking up made me feel so small in that tall forest.

As we wandered, the leaves carpeting the ground absorbed all sounds. We fell silent. It was both beautiful and eerily quiet. The storm had caused some damage either from the wind or possibly the lightening. There were some bamboo that had been split but was still standing. The interior reminded me of small school lockers waiting for books and backpacks.
We lingered in that muted forest enjoying the solitude and seclusion. I noticed that there were some inhabitants and we steered clear. Hoping that they were either dormant or had abandoned the hive.

As we departed, I left nothing behind but a single hand print in the dew.

The bamboo forest however left something in me – a sense of peace and solitude that is not loneliness.

Looking All Wet

Stronger than it looks
Yet it yields to the slightest pressure
Moves away only to engulf
Subdues the strongest
Races faster than the fastest
Bends and never breaks
A fine mist or raging torrent
Dangerous yet sustaining
Finds its way effortlessly
Across flat land or down a mountain
I should learn to be water

As we were hiking in Smokey Mountain National Park, I noticed that there were shallow grooves along the path. The longer I walked the more I noticed that the grooves took the best path to avoid obstacles (things like roots and rocks). I started following that path. It became very obvious that I could travel much faster and more sure-footed if I stayed on that course. When it started to drizzle it finally clicked in my “vacation brain” that I was following the path of least resistance marked off by the streams of water that had traveled down the hills. I thought about the way the water had flowed downhill. I am going to apply the concept to my work situation and hope that it makes navigation easier. I really need to emulate water – for my own peace of mind.

Looking Rash

Sparky and I are on vacation. We traveled to Atlanta to visit my sister and then on toward GeoWoodstock XV. We are not spontaneous people. Sparky has an agenda that schedules our trip by the hour. That said, I’ve become rash. And not in a “fly by the seat of my pants” way.  It started on Sunday. I had an itch and Sparky willingly scratched my back. But that just made the itch worse. By dinner time I was very itchy. He looked at my back. I had 2 large angry red spots that were raised and had tiny blisters all over. We applied spray on Benadryl that just about did me in. Long story short I have a raging rash on my back, neck, face, ear, and arm. I have a prescription ointment for everywhere except my face. The face is only treated with a mild hydrocortisone. I itch. I burn. I am not a happy camper. I don’t know what caused this rash with hives and wheals and welts. The theories are:

1. I ate something that has caused an allergic reaction.
2. I am getting shingles.
3. I some how got poison ivy.

By slathering myself in a variety of anti itch topicals. I’m eating antihistamines. Still I itch. And it is spreading. I have a spot on my eyelid, behind my other ear, and along the edges of my lips. I feel like I’m becoming a zombie with my skin rotting off.

Looking at Art


The photos above are of Calciosolenia brasiliensis, a coccolith from the Western Mediterranean, again specifically the Alboran Sea. I made this one with a clay body that was white stoneware that had been contaminated with a little porcelain. The glaze is Phil’s Celedon with Royal blue in the center textured areas. I had completed this orb previously in March of 2012 but was not satisfied with the result. Partly the glaze was not as vibrant and partly I thought I could do a better job.

The electron micrograph below is the picture I was working from. You be the judge – did I do better on the second try??

Looking at the Fine Print

I am guilty of just clicking yes when downloading apps. I mean who has time to read through all the legalese in tiny font? I decided to download a game app to my phone to amuse myself while we traveled from Indiana to Georgia. I clicked yes and clicked on the annoying box asking if I had read the privacy policy and all the other documents. No sooner than the app finished loading, my phone began a strange flickering of the screen. I was a little concerned because my phone is old.  What if the app required more memory than I had available? What if I just broke my phone before leaving on vacation!?! I didn’t want to tell Sparky so I furiously attempted to uninstall the app. I couldn’t do it. The next day I had to go to a doctors appointment and when I finished early I went to the Sprint store. Kyle was very helpful. He uninstalled the app and told me that I was not the only person he has helped with this kind of problem. I was scolded (gently) and cautioned to take the time to read the fine print. Because I have a security software on my phone for work, it will “lock”  me out if certain things are accessed by a third party. This limits what I can download. But it will also keep me safe. So I guess I’ll just have to be satisfied with playing solitaire and word searches.

Looking at Ceramics

I haven’t posted any of my ceramic creations here before. The last ceramics session ended last week and I have several orbs that have not been photographed. On Mother’s Day I had a few minutes to myself and took the following picture of Turrilithus latericioides. It is a coccolith located in the Western Mediterranean, the Alboran Sea to be exact. The electron micrograph below has  a scale bar in the lower left corner that is equivalent to 10 micrometers, just to give you an idea of the size. A human red blood cell is 7- 8 micrometers across…

Below is my version in clay. I used a white stoneware for the clay body, applying Super T glaze on the center and half way up the turrets and Ochre Celedon at the top. I put a dot of red iron oxide stain in the end wells. This orb is about 4 inches across making it the size of a softball.

The glaze firing was the last of the session and I was happy that I didn’t have any crazing in my glaze like some people found on their pieces. When this one was sitting on the table (as I was preparing to leave the studio), one of the other students commented that she thought it was outstanding. I let her hold it and was lucky that she didn’t try to smuggle it into her purse. I believe she will be contacting me to purchase it!

Looking at the Look

Sparky and I went to Costco with his parents. We had never been there before and wanted to see what all the excitement was about. Well, it is pretty much just a clone of Sam’s Club. They had lots of stuff from TVs and air conditioners to flowers and food. As we were strolling around checking out the deals, I was checking out the other customers. I tend to people watch when I’m not actively looking to purchase something. Although the other people in the store were much classier than Wal-Mart shoppers, there were still plenty of fashion mistakes! I should have taken photos but I wasn’t sure what the store policy was…

1. The first look was a woman (30-ish) with her husband. She had those shoe/boots that have cutouts on the sides and toe and have a zipper up the back of the heel. She was carrying a huge purse and kept flipping her long blonde hair. The top was one of those with the shoulders cut out. Her jeans were white, in a glow in the dark way, and skinny so that they looked painted on. It wouldn’t have made me take notice except she was “commando”. And I know this because the jeans in addition to being tight were also a little thinner weight denim. She wasn’t a natural blonde. Even Sparky noticed. My MIL said in a not so soft voice that it was obvious that she didn’t own a full length mirror!

2. The second look was a teenager probably a graduating senior. She had opted for the “Daisy Dukes” cut-off jean shorts. And I know it is a fashion thing, but when your butt cheeks hang out the bottom of your shorts, they are too short!

3. The 3rd look was a very elegant and put together woman. She reeked of excess disposable income. She decided to go shopping in a very nice sundress and matching bolero jacket (and hat and purse and earrings). She wouldn’t have made the list except she took the time to strike a pose every couple yards. I looked around but couldn’t see the photographer. At one point she took off her jacket and held it over one shoulder posing. She reminded me of a store mannequin. We left the store and she was still in the produce area practicing her moves for her imaginary photo shoot.

4. In the parking lot we happened upon a young man exiting a car. I thought the car was ugly but Sparky said it was a Viper. Anyway the kid (he didn’t look very old – maybe if you squinted he might pass for 21), was wearing khaki cargo shorts and a white polo shirt. Sounds like standard attire but his shorts were belted just below his behind to expose boxer shorts in a jungle print. I’m not sure how he was able to walk with his pants that low. If you can afford to drive a really expensive car you should be able to afford to buy pants that fit. (Yes I know it is a fashion and that he no doubt was wearing them that way for fashion’s sake.)

5. The last look was shocking and amusing at the same time. I am old and I just can’t deal with low rise pants that want to crawl off my backside. The woman was at least 40 and could well have been 50 and she was wearing a pair of peachy beige low rise capri pants. She looked fine. Fine until she bent over. I just didn’t expect “plummer’s butt in the middle of the aisle. I gasped and Sparky wanted to know why. I explained that it was an involuntary response to what I was seeing. He followed my gaze and did a double take. The color of her pants coupled with the fashion malfunction made her appear to be naked. I was embarrassed for her.

Sparky reassured me that I was dressed with the proper decorum, had no indecent exposures occurring, and was age appropriate. I told Sparky that all of the above are reasons I sold my spandex unitard, most of my yoga pants, and a couple winter tops and sweaters…

Looking Forward

This week has made me realize that looking back at certain things is counterproductive. That said, I’m going to look forward. At work we are preparing for our triennial accreditation site visit. For many a site visit is a new experience and for others it is old news. I could look back at other visits but the point is that this visit is the only one that matters. We will take care of the business at hand knowing that we do a good job. At work we are coming to the end of the Organizational Analysis and Design Process (OAD). This has been difficult and time consuming. It will no doubt be a relief for the whole department when it has been finalized and rolled out. I am looking forward to the day when it is implemented. I am also preparing for a much needed vacation. My hope is that the trip and visit will be wonderful. It will certainly be filled with family and friends. As I look forward I am busy with the preparations – both at home and at work. Looking forward has me eagerly anticipating warmer weather. The garden has been planted with peas, beans, tomatoes, and some of my beloved basil! I love fresh basil. Our church has had a resurgence in members. We may have to increase to 3 Masses on Sundays due to crowding. We are looking forward to the parish picnic which may again be a HUGE affair. On the horizon are opportunities both growth – personal, spiritual, professional, and educational. It is going to be an exciting year. I’m going to look forward, pay it forward, and be forward thinking.

Looking Relaxed

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. The restaurants will be packed. I’m not planning on going out to dinner but that may change. I’m relaxed about it. As long as I don’t have to put on pantyhose I’m good with whatever plans my husband and sons make to celebrate. I have a card that my sons gave me 2 years ago tucked next to my printer at work. When things get crazy at work, I pull that card out and open it up. It has a recording in it that just cracks me up. It is a chorus of voices singing “You are the bomb, you are the bomb, we love you mom, you are the bomb…” to Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. I don’t think I’ll get another Mother’s Day card that will top that one!  Tonight I will go to church which gets me a free pass tomorrow so that I can sleep in. All in all it is a relaxing weekend. We are in “crunch” mode starting next Monday. I have to start packing for vacation. We will be travelling to Atlanta to visit my sister then on to GeoWoodstock XV in Asheville, NC. But until I have to haul the suitcases out Monday night, I’m relaxing! Hope you all have a “chill” weekend – but not a chilly one!

Looking Angst Ridden

Angst ridden I ponder life
Close my eyes and open lips for prayer
Hope these desperate words reach God somewhere
Heal these broken souls to prevent suicide
Remind that their love and life is justified
Give them peace so that their hearts are satisfied
Despite these sincere prayers hate is magnified
I can’t escape fear and anger’s snare
Realizing hope and faith are elsewhere
Angst ridden I ponder life

This is a Symetrelle, a poetry form created by Julie Moeller. It consists of a single stanza of 10 lines. The first line is a 7 syllable subject line that is repeated as the last line. The first line is followed by a rhyming couplet with 9 syllables per line. The next 4 lines are a quatrain written in monorhyme with 11 syllables per line. The quatrain is followed by another 9 syllable per line rhyming couplet using the same rhyme as the first couplet. It is kind of involved but there isn’t any proscribed meter so that is a blessing.

I’ve been reading the newspaper and unfortunately also listening to the radio. Between the prejudice and violence against refugees there is this growing indifference. It makes my heart ache. The intolerance toward the LGBTQ community is unconscionable. Discrimination is rampant. I had thought that we were making progress yet as long as we recognize “otherness” instead of “sameness” in our neighbors there will be discrimination. I believe that prayer is powerful but so is action. To that end I’ve donated all the bars of soap I’ve collected from hotels in the last couple of years to a church group putting together “hygiene kits” to be distributed to refugees. I am donating food weekly to St. Vincent dePaul Society to feed the hungry in my city. As more opportunities arise I hope I can lend a helping hand….