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Archive for April, 2010

Tiny Tiller's Group at Crown Point

Apple Blossom fully open and very white

Nathan and I playing the matching game

out at the farm Crown Point Ecology Center, the small barn

a bit of the back yard

Only a few days left of my babysitting – though I hardly like that word since Nathan is not at all a baby. He’s FIVE! And we’re doing a lot of things together. Tiny Tiller’s is the class for small children at Crown Point. Miss Amy teaches them about the joys of the natural world. This photo was from a bird walk. We saw blue bird boxes and wren’s nesting as we wandered out past the bee hives and the new location for the hens. We heard a lot of bird song, even that late in the morning. Fun!

Here is the more sharply focused picture of the apple tree I promised, but of course, it’s all quite different than it was when the buds were tight and very intensely cherry pink.

One day was dry and warm enough to play a few games out on the deck, but since then it has cooled down again and rained (much needed rain!) for several days. Spring is like a baby. Every minute there are visible changes. It’s exciting, but also, almost daunting. There is so much to do, and I am so slow to accomplish things! But what a joy when I can be outside in all this beauty.

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Cat's Eye Nebula from the Hubble

Crab Nebula from the Hubble Telescope

Apple blossom a few days ago

I’m home for the weekend, slightly more than halfway through my two weeks of babysitting for my sweet grandson, Nathan. I love being with him, but arrive home amazingly wiped out every evening and fall asleep for at least an hour…

Nothing much is getting accomplished at home, so this weekend will be busy, too, cleaning and making order. Not only is regular housework not being done, but I decided to rearrange my arts and crafts corner and only got halfway when I had to leave it in chaos! Yes, a real “what was I thinking?” moment there.  But I feel really happy about the possibilities for today.

Today, if you google anything, you will see a header of the universe and links to images from Hubble. Today is the 20th anniversary for the Hubble telescope. If you google images for Hubble you will be overwhelmed with beautiful photography from deep space…The nebulae seem the most beautiful of all, and I wonder why, actually. We know so little, I think, of the universe, though we are learning more every minute. NASA is my hero, if an organization can be such a thing.  I am truly awed by the immensity, the beauty, the mystery of this universe. And I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I am part of it. I wish all human energy could be aimed at understanding more  and working at peacemaking and loving kindness, and none turned to fuel greed, hatred, and war of every sort.  This is what images of from space do to me. They fill me with a desire, a hope, for things to be better on earth, for every living creature to live up, or move in that direction, to the incredible gift we all share of being part of this glory.

And things are pretty glorious around my part of the world, even if my really dreadful photograph of my apple tree in bud (the settings we knocked into the wrong place) doesn’t show it. I’ll post some better ones later today, I hope. The entire world I live in is in deep Spring! Every tree or bush that can flower seems to be doing it now! And leaves are all in the sweet early freshness that leaves me still in my tracks and nearly breathless with wonder.

The last picture is a little doll quilt I finished just before the babysitting began . It is for my grandaughter Sofia, for her dolls, and actually there is a second top completed and ready to quilt.

Life is good………I am thinking of Julian of Norwich saying, ”      All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”  She said she heard this from God.

doll quilt for Sofia

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Heritage and Folk Art

scherenschnitte

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I seem to have been having a strange problem getting text to go with these pictures, but it has resolved itself without my knowing why. I’ll just accept this.

I wanted to write about folk art and how much I love it. I’m not Hungarian myself, but my husband grew up in a small village south east of Budapest and he and his family came to the United States in 1957, after the Hungarian Revolution. I have painted many small things in this Hungarian style beginning with two cuff boxes I painted to be used as sewing boxes which I gave as gifts to my two bridesmaids in 1972. I know my sister in law Maria still has hers. Whenever we were living in Hungary (1984, 1992, 1998 when my husband was on sabbatical leave from Cleveland State University) or visited there, I have bought textiles and books and other items of Hungarian folk art.  And my children were all in Hungarian Scout troops and studied the styles of art which vary almost from village to village.

My own Heritage is German, English and Scottish and I have always loved Pennsylvania Dutch folk art which was popular when I was a child.  My mother and grandmother painted some pieces in this style and I still have some of them. I enjoy scherensschnitte and an example of this which I did years ago still hangs above my bed.

Most of the European folk art has elements in common, probably because the motifs come from the plants and animals which live in these areas, and north America has similar flora and fauna. I have not seen much that I would call Scottish folk art, nor English and this may be because it has not been that popular. Or perhaps their folk art has been more in music and customs than in decorated clothes or furniture, although my Scottish ancestors were Fergusons, and I have a piece of their tartan bought in Edinburgh with Paul and Andy when we were there in 1998. I think my struggles getting the words to show up have made me lose track of some of what I wanted to say!  I will try to photograph a few things I have or have made myself soon, but most of what I have made was given away. Perhaps the point I originally wanted to make with this rambling is that having these connections adds something to life,  some grounded feeling of abundance and connection.

Ferguson tartan

Hungarian Vest

Pennsylvania Dutch Dow Chemical ad from the 70s

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Change is normal...........

A friend whom I’ve met in real life though I know her more through an online discussion list and reading her blog, has posted about having a normal day, after a rather arduous day yesterday….This is a topic that I’ve thought about from time to time for the last 38 years or so – always expecting the normal days to begin……..But where were they?

And my idea of what they would be like was totally formed from what I saw of my mother and grandmother’s days when I was a little girl, post WWII, growing up in a suburb on the west side of Cleveland. Quiet, busy but never rushed days spent mostly at home with a little shopping thrown in.  My mother had her “club” once a month where she had a lunch and played cards for an afternoon with good friends from the neighborhood. Otherwise she was not “a joiner” and rather disdained that concept. A very quiet social life, little going to the doctors, no health insurance to complicate things. Church once a week, for the most part. On a day to day level, a quiet but reasonably happy life, at least to my young eyes.

My blogging friend ended her entry with the words,  “today will be a normal day–and I do so love normal. Hooray for days when I can stay home and remain in my old work clothes and clean flower beds and do dishes and read on the porch without having to think, “Hurry and enjoy this so you can do the next thing,” but rather, taking long, leisurely drinks of countryside-living in springtime.”

And I posted this comment:
“….This is a topic I’ve thought about for years. I used to expect we would sometime begin to have what I thought of as “normal days” which would be like my mother’s normal days in the 40s and 50s and early 60s when I was still at home….But even though I was a SAHM all my married life (after I had kids, before that I was a SAHW, I guess!) the normal days from the 70s to now have not been the same sort of days my parents had. Life is busier. Life is more electronic in nature, than when my parents were in their glory years. Nothing is as confident, nothing is quite as gently paced,nothing is quite as human and kind, as it seemed then. And I guess we have to find our own normal, as well as we can. We can make our normal fit as closely as we can to our ideals, but the whole world is different now. I don’t think the world was all better then, or all worse now, but it is………different.”

I don’t think days without any special event or emergency are the norm anymore.

Hardly any of my days are like my mother’s. Our lives are so changed by public events, technology advances, expanding bureaucracy and the swirl of delightful new ideas like global warming and extremist terrorism. (But our parents had just come through the depression and a great and devastating war and were now confronting nuclear anxieties, though in a context of perhaps the most robust economy in our history.)

It is worth the effort, immensely worth the effort, to try to slow down and connect with the world we call “nature”, as if it were out there, separate from us, as if we were ever disconnected from it. We aren’t, but our minds are slow to grasp this truth. It is worth stepping outside and refreshing our awareness of the connections to the life that is going on out there.  It’s worth calming ourselves to observe it, and feel the happiness that always comes when we take the time to do this…

It is always going to be an observation of change out there, similar to noticing the alteration in our own emotions and thoughts. Everything always  changes.

But the present moment is the  one we really have. In high school I was taught it was the only moment when time touches eternity. And now I read the same thing in many  Buddhist books about mindful living. The future isn’t here yet. The past is over. But this moment is the one we have.

Probably change is the only normal there will ever be, but there is a way of seeing it without being so attached that we must grieve this reality as if each change were a great loss, because, look, something new is just around the bend, something mysterious, something full of hope. And in the meantime, the only time we have- there is NOW! The great gift from God, which, as someone clever once  said, must be why it is called “the present”.

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