Friday, April 30, 2010

happy days are here

You'll find this exuberant painting by my dear and talented friend Laurie Richardson at the Carolina Art Soiree, along with the work of several other very gifted regional artists. The exhibition is today, April 30, from 11am–3pm, and Saturday, May 1, from 10am-12pm. It's at 532 Governor Morrison Street, Charlotte, North Carolina. In the Morrison Development at Sharon and Colony Roads, above Swoozie's.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Off to the printer with this mini-brochure for Double Oaks Child Development Center in Charlotte. The neighborhood surrounding it is getting an extreme makeover and so is the center. Arkon and I enjoyed taking a colorful, whimsical approach to the design and the words. Made it seem less like work!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

love is art

Outside my window there are irises. Planted with love many years ago by my neighbor, Dr. Mac. Purple and peach and yellow and white. Every April they burst into bloom next door and all across Charlotte. Vincent van Gogh painted these purple irises the year before he died. His life was a great struggle, emotionally, but his legacy is anything but: starry nights, sunflowers, irises, olive trees, wheat fields and armchairs. These live on in beautiful glory. So do his words, which make potential artists of all of us: The more I think about it, the more I realize there is nothing more artistic than to love others.
Irises by Vincent van Gogh, 1889. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

monument to learning

In light of the recent chaos and financial distress in our library system here in Charlotte, what a lift it was to tour the University of Virginia two weeks ago where libraries are revered, exalted and regarded as a priceless measure of humanity. I think there are 17 of them in all, dotted throughout campus, each one a jewel in its own right. But it's the first, anchoring one end of the famous Lawn, that sets the tone. It was built in the 1800s as the architectural and academic focal point of the university, and replicates Thomas Jefferson's Monticello home, which you can actually glimpse in the distance while standing in the bookstore courtyard. According to our guide, the UVA book collection is second only to the Library of Congress in number of volumes held. People usually talk quietly inside a library and that day was no exception. It was so affirming, though, to be at a place where they talked in hushed tones about them as well.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

totally Tuesday

Tuesday, then, is a tote bag bulging with papers and possibility. It's creativity and concepting after Monday's meetings. It's the seventh grade field trip, camp forms filled out, a walk in the park with a friend before work. It's a smoothie for lunch and dinner from scratch, a great magazine in the mail and a new set of markers because the old ones ran dry. It's picking up the pace and hitting a stride as the week gets going. And you do, too.

Monday, April 19, 2010

good Monday to all

Monday is letterhead stationery and an ink pen. It's consulting the calendar, returning phone calls, filing papers and putting a new cartridge in the printer. It's an extra cup of coffee, fruit and cottage cheese for lunch, a casserole defrosting on the kitchen counter for dinner. There's dry cleaning to pick up, a project to start, a meeting at two, practice after school, a paper due. It's an alarm clock blinking, a wake-up call, a call to action. Better get going, it's Monday!
Work Table by Pierre Bonnard, National Gallery of Art

Sunday, April 18, 2010

let us pray

Minister and author Leighton Ford and his wonderful wife, Jean, spoke at our church this morning about the habit of prayer. I didn't take notes, but what I took away from it is that Mrs. Ford, sister of the Reverend Billy Graham, prays without ceasing throughout the day. She keeps a conversation going with God and once advised a friend who said she didn't know how to pray to think of it like learning to ride a bike. Just start and keep at it until it comes naturally. Practice. She prays in the morning that God will bless her attitude, her words, her actions. Sometimes her prayer is simply the words help or thank you. Mr. Ford said that if we feel like the only answer to our prayers is silence, then to turn to the scriptures and listen for God's voice there. There's no one right way to pray, he says, and even suggests repeating a few lines from a Psalm and turning that into a prayer. Appreciating music, poetry and nature can be a form of prayer. He summed things up with a quote by poet Mary Oliver who wrote"Pay attention, be astonished, talk about it." That seems like a perfect way to proceed.
Luca della Robbia’s Madonna and Child, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Friday, April 16, 2010


Enter each day with the expectation that the happenings of the day may contain a clandestine message addressed to you personally. Expect omens, epiphanies, casual blessings, and teachers who unknowingly speak to your condition. - Sam Keen

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Little things that imbue this big thing called life with wonderfulness:
1. ladybugs
2. sand dollars
3. silver dollars
4. sun-dried sheets
5. gardenias
6. grasshoppers
7. ice cream with sprinkles
8. dogs chasing tennis balls
9. potholders made at camp
10. French toast
11. a French twist
12. rocking chairs
13. thick paper
14. a string quartet
15. u-pick-em strawberries
16. an old red pick-up truck

Monday, April 12, 2010

a poem of spring

The Months

When the Earl King came
to steal away the child
in Goethe's poem, the father said
don't be afraid,
it's just the wind . . .
As if it weren't the wind
that blows away the tender
fragments of this world --
leftover leaves in the corners
of the garden, a Lenten Rose
that thought it safe
to bloom so early.

In the pastel blur
of the garden,
the cherry
and redbud
shake rain
from their delicate
shoulders, as petals
of pink
wash down the ditches
in dreamlike
rivers of color.

Mayapple, daffodil,
hyacinth, lily,
and by the front
porch steps
every billowing
shade of purple
and lavender lilac,
my mother's favorite flower,
sweet breath drifting through
the open windows:
perfume of memory-conduit
of spring.

- Linda Pastan

Blossoming Almond Branch in a Glass with a Book
Vincent van Gogh, 1888

Friday, April 9, 2010

truly worth the time, part 2

Continuing thoughts from yesterday about things that are so very worth the time (and energy and mindspace) it takes to do them. Here are a few from my own life:
1. planting herbs each spring
2. listening deeply
3. reading a good book
4. any act of creativity
5. home cooking
6. learning something new
7. appreciating nature
8. loving others
9. tending faith

Thursday, April 8, 2010

things truly worth the time

Watches seem to be the big thing for spring. Chunky ceramic beauties that make a fashion statement that says much more than 'it's a quarter past four.' There's a good article in the April REAL SIMPLE magazine where several authors write short essays about time-consuming tasks that are worth every minute to them. Making the bed is key to one person, making a cake from scratch is important to another. A dad talks about learning to meander rather than rush. Taking a road trip and having a civilized breakfast are also mentioned. My favorite is about writing thank you notes. It's got me thinking: for all of our worry about running out of time, maybe we should concentrate instead on filling it with things that matter to us the most.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

when life looks like an Easter basket

This photograph of spring blossoms in Italy looks a lot like Eastertime here in Charlotte, North Carolina. In Italy, Easter may well be the most exalted holiday of the year, topping even Christmas. The somber observance of Holy Week is followed by joyous festivals and celebration. Roasted lamb, artichokes dove-shaped breads are commonly served at Easter dinner. Rather than chocolate bunnies, gorgeously decorated chocolate eggs are given. They are usually hollow with a treat inside. This is where many a bride-to-be has discovered an engagement ring. Pasqua means Easter in Italian.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

The opposite of fear is faith. Henry Parsley

Thursday, April 1, 2010

hibiscus and huraches

On the Gulf Coast of Florida, where I mostly grew up, a rite of spring was buying a new pair of hurache sandals. You could get them for about $12 at most any store. They'd pinch like heck at first, then become the next best thing to bare feet. We wore cotton sundresses in the bright sun and carried straw bags. Hibiscus flowers bloomed in lush profusion: hot pink, red, orange and yellow. On Easter morning, there was a sunrise service on the beach.