Thursday, January 15, 2015

Lyrical Thursdays: Abide with Me!

In these cold, wintery months, I feel like it can become easy to slip into sadness and let stress take over.  I find myself easily becoming anxious and overwhelmed!  I have worked on finding different ways to overcome this, from putting tropical pictures on the walls to going swimming at the gym.  I also lately have been practicing my ukulele more and working on other goals that I'd like to achieve. 

One song that I often listen to when I am stressed is the hymn, "Abide With Me!"  I have two different versions of this hymn on my iTunes - one by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and one by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, because I'm a nerdy Doctor Who fan and that was in one of the episodes.  I think that the words of this hymn are so tender and are a perfect prayer for when someone is truly in need of peace and comfort.

There are actually 8 verses to this hymn (which can all be found here), but these are the three that I know and sing in church:

  1. Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
    The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
    When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
    Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.
  2. Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
    Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
    Change and decay in all around I see—
    O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
  3. I need Thy presence every passing hour;
    What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
    Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
    Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Saline Celtic Festival 2014

Over on my art blog, I wrote a post about the things I do for the Wee Folk at the Saline Celtic Festival, but it was getting a little long.  I decided to split the post into two, blogging about the crafts there and the athletics and other stuff here!  Here's a run-down of the awesome activities offered on the "Island:" 

Wee Haggis Hurl - In the main festival, there are crowd participation events for adults. One of them is the Haggis Hurl, where people can try their hand at throwing a frozen haggis and see how far it can go.  ...I'll let you think about that awesomeness for a minute...  So, a few years ago I thought I'd do a mini version of that, using water balloons.  It was fun, but I got sort of tired of cleaning up popped water balloons, and the filling of them took a long time.  So this year, I used elements of past athletics (hula hoops from a Wee Survivor competition and pool noodles with PVC pipe in the middle that were once part of a Wee Caber Toss*) to create a goal and had my sister make some haggis-shaped bean bags.  Much more effective, much cleaner, and much less time filling balloons! The kids seemed to enjoy it.

Defeat the Dragon - Two years ago I made a dragon, a castle turret, and a castle entrance out of four sheets of donated plywood (thanks, Home Depot!).  The dragon is also a corn hole bag game, where 100 points means the dragon has been defeated!  He also seems to watch over the Island, as he lives right near the entrance to the Island's activities.

Wee Golf Course - This was a new one this year!  Over the years I've eliminated a few athletic events for various reasons* and this year decided that this would be a good replacement for them.  Plus, it has Scottish origins, so it fits with the festival theme!  And bonus, there's an awesome grassy path right by our main Wee Folks area that is perfect for a mini golf course.  I think the kids really enjoyed it!  I plan on expanding from six to nine holes next year, and maybe having other people come and help me design the holes. 

The last hole!
*Here a some of the things I've eliminated over the years:
Wee Caber Toss - the "cabers" were a little too light-weight, I think, so kids usually ended up sword fighting with them, or just whacking their friends with them.  It had to go...
Wee Survivor - 3 or 4 years ago the festival started to do a Celtic Survivor competition for adults, so I thought it'd be fun to do a "Wee" version, with elimination rounds to determine 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.  It was pretty fun, but a lot of extra stress for me the day of, so I stopped doing it this year.

Some of the other activities on the Island are: 
Ducky Races! - Four times in the afternoon people have a chance to win some fun prizes (like this pillow, this castle, or this knight set).  All they have to do is pick a duck and pay a buck! (That should be my new slogan for this...) This year I started offering a "6 ducks for $5" deal, which people seemed to like. We dump the duckies at one point in the river, and whichever one gets to the bridge first is the winner!  It's pretty fun!

Princess Merida!!! - For the last two years, Princess Merida from the movie "Brave" has come to the island.  The kids LOVE her! She talks to them, gives hugs, tells stories, and sends them off to find the Will-o-the-Wisps in the woods!  (I made those and sort of love them!  We hide them and the kids bring them to us for a prize when they find one.  Then we re-hide them!)
Princess Merida telling stories
Mini Merida on the left is so cute!
Merida, played by the incredibly talented and
sweet Hannah Rains, is SO good with the kids!
It's no wonder they love seeing here there!

A Will-o-the-Wisp hiding in the woods...

Face Painting - this is something I've never been able to have consistently.  It's hard to find a good face painter that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, but this year we had one! She was excellent, and the kids were lined up to have their faces painted.

Wee Folks Parade - At 4:30, we take a break from our busy crafting and athleticizing (I think that should be a word...) and a bagpiper comes and leads the kids around the rest of the festival!  This is a chance for them to show off their craft projects and for the rest of the festival goers to see what we have to offer.  Princess Merida joins the fun, and the kids who participate love it! (And the free ice cream treat they get for being in the parade...!!)  This year I had streamers out (see photo above) for people to use to decorate their wagons and strollers for the parade.  Fun!
(Our piper forgot his kilt this year...oops!)
The best part?  All of these activities (except for the Ducky Race) are free, thanks to the sponsorship of Play and Learn Childcare.  

(Check back to my art blog for a wrap-up!)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Lyrical Thursdays: A Spring Soliloquy

A few evenings ago, I went for a bike ride and realized just how entranced I am with spring.  I think it's possible that the harshness of this past winter has made me much more aware of just how wonderful spring is!!

Spring brings my senses back to life! In the winter I feel like all my nose takes in (after the delicious smells of Christmas are gone) is the cold smell of snow, all my eyes see are whiteness and underneath that brownness, all I hear are weather reports and snow crunching under tires, all I feel is cold and more cold; only my sense of taste remains alert, bringing comfort to my other senses through delicious, heavy foods that the other senses know, but are too deadened to warn the rest of me, will come back to bite me come spring. 

But in spring, with the first really warm day, my senses are suddenly ALIVE! It's almost as though some dormant form of synesthesia springs to life, and my senses begin to cross. I smell freshly mown grass and suddenly visions of backyard barbecues spring before my eyes, I can taste the grilled chicken, I can feel the grass between my toes, I can hear the birds chirping. Or I'll ride my bike past a baseball diamond in a local park and I can taste ice cold Popsicles (the ones whose flavors are colors) and feel myself sitting on a blanket on the sidelines and smell the dust from the diamond and hear the crack of the ball against the bat. And speaking of baseball, when I hear a Tigers game on the radio I can see the Detroit skyline over the right field wall, and taste the Hebrew National hot dog and the French fries and Pepsi, and hear the organ playing and the announcer and the fans.  

My senses are shouting to each other, rejoicing, waking up! Everything to my eyes is brighter, the colors more vibrant; I hear a symphony of sounds, from birds chirping their different tunes to the music of the ice cream truck and the laughter of children playing in sprinklers; my taste buds come to life with spring fruits and fresh veggies; I'm no longer covered with layer upon layer of clothing, and my bare arms feel the warmth and my bare feet feel the grass; and my nose smells a million wonderful smells!!

On the aforementioned bike ride, I was immediately entranced by all of the smells on the air! Freshly mown grass; dozens of different flower smells, from lilacs to huge blooming flowers in gardens; sprinklers making the earth and grass smell clean; wind blowing the wonderful smell of the leaves of trees; damp earth and pine trees in wooded areas; campfires, food on grills, and coal from barbecues; and a dozen other nameless but delicious and wonderful smells coming from all directions. 

I just can't get enough of spring.  I've never appreciated more fully Frank Lloyd Wright's Principle of Organic Design that emphasizes a kinship between a building and the ground around it.  His designs opened up homes to the outdoor space, bringing the outside in and the inside out.  And with gorgeous weather like we've had lately, who wouldn't want that?!  

Though I love poetry, I am definitely no poet myself.  Yet something about spring, particularly this spring, has made me wish I could write a great and lasting poem to capture the feel of the season.  Instead, I'll count my rantings here and call it good!

*It should be noted that a large portion of this blog post was written while hula hooping in my backyard.  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

VIPTs: Very Important Personality Tests!!

Last night, when I should have been working on Important, Responsible Things, I instead spent...let's just say "a lot of time"...on Zimbio taking Very Important Personality Tests.  I mean, how could I get anything done until I knew which Goonies character I was? (Stef) Or who my celebrity boyfriend would be? (Joseph Gordon-Levitt...score!)  Or which 80s Action Hero I was?  (Robocop, natch.)

I won't confess to how many of these tests I took either.  Suffice it to say, I now have my personality pretty well figured out, thanks to these online, very accurate and meaningful tests.  Zimbio (and the government) probably knows way too much about me now, too.  

Here are a few of my results, so you can understand me better.  Click this link so you can take a few quizzes as well, and report back here with your results!  Are you Giles from the Buffy series, too?  Did you also get Taylor Swift as your celebrity road trip companion??  Inquiring minds need to know!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Robot Tuesdays

Some days there are just too many thoughts in my head.  I feel like my brain races from one thing to the next without stopping to appreciate the chaos. Earlier on in this blog, I tried out something that my sister Elizabeth does on her blog's Wednesday Thoughts posts - just get a bunch of ideas down that may or may not be related.  I planned on doing mine on Tuesdays, since that day is in the title of my blog*.  I haven't done it in quite a while, but today was one of those crazy brain days, so I thought I'd get a bunch of stuff down in one post.

First, I've been meaning to put a link here to my new art blog, Paintings Speak Louder Than Words. I started it so I can chronicle my adventures as Two Twelve Arts Center's Artist in Residence over the next six months, as well as my continued journey as an artist.  I plan on using that blog for artsy things, updates and progress made on the residency, etc, but will continue to blog here as well. (Come to think of it, this whole blog is like a Robot Tuesdays post - a lot of random stuff, much of it a bit goofy...)

Speaking of the artist residency, I walked the ~mile to the studio today.  I know that it can still get cold and even snow this month, but today was the first day where it finally, truly felt like spring!!  The sun was shining, it was in the high 50s/low 60s (short-sleeved shirt weather here in Michigan!), birds were chirping - it was glorious!!!  I reveled in wearing a t-shirt outside again, instead of several layers and a coat (and a scarf and gloves and a hat...).

I forgot just how difficult walking is!  Yes, that sounds ridiculous, but I haven't really walked for exercise in a while, thanks to the whole bronchitis/fractured rib deal.  It's one thing to walk around a store or at work, another thing entirely to walk for exercise with a heavy backpack on your back!  Plus, I have a tendency to walk fast.  Anyone in my family will confirm that, especially my younger sister, Heather - we walked home from middle school together (I was in 8th, she was in 6th), and she would always yell at me to slow down as she jogged to catch up.  I do have a long stride and am about 5 inches taller than her, but I also just find myself walking fast without really thinking about it.  Good for exercise, bad for the ol' shin splints.

I really like finding a song that matches my stride.  As I was walking up a hill today, "Home" by Phillip Phillips came on and matched my stride perfectly!  It made the hill seem less exhausting. (On a different note, anyone else in love with Phillip Phillips?  That smile + that voice = Dreamy.  I need a gif of me raising my eyebrows over and over to put right here.)  

As I was jamming to Phil Phil, I walked past a store that sells medical supplies - they have a sign in the window that just says, "CPAP."  I have no idea what that is, I just know that I always think it says "CRAP" when I see it out of the corner of my eye.  

Once at the studio, I watched some Gilmore Girls followed by the movie "Oz the Great and Powerful" (is that what it's called?). I like to watch movies or TV on DVD while I paint.  Recently it's been a lot of a favorite show of mine, "Inspector Lewis" (speaking of dreamy, Sergeant Hathaway, anyone??), and some fairly poorly acted TV movies based on Mary Higgins Clark books.  (I get what I can find at the library, since I don't get internet at the studio.  It's for the best, since it's harder to waste time on the internet on my phone!)

I'm telling you, a LOT of random thoughts today.  Good news?  As far as I know  I was just going to write something about no one having played any April Fool's jokes on me today, but there are still a few minutes left of April 1st, so I'd better be careful.  I know very few people who actually like April Fool's Day...  Do you?  

*I don't think I've ever explained the title of my blog on here anywhere. I think it's more fun that way.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

If I Had A Dog

Sometimes when I'm laying in bed at night, I think about all sorts of random things.  What would my dream house look like?  What would be the most peaceful colors for a bedroom?  Why am I not laying on a hammock someplace tropical right now?  (Insomnia brings about deep thinking.)  And so on.  

Last night, I got to thinking about dogs.  I have a confession to make...  You know how there are people who prefer dogs or cats or birds or snakes, etc? I prefer none.  If I had a choice between having any animal I wanted, all expenses paid, or having no animal at all, I'd pick no animal at all.  They're just SO MUCH WORK!  Plus there's the whole getting super attached to an animal and then having it die, and I just figure, why put myself through all that?  

I realize that this probably tells a lot about me.  People might think that I'm a cold, unfeeling person, or that I'm dead inside, because who doesn't love animals?  Well, I DO love animals!  I think they're great!  Giraffes are the best, seahorses are the coolest, bunnies are adorable, puppies and kittens are frickin' heart-melters, penguins be stylin', and so on.  I love animals.  But do I want to deal with the care of one?  Not so much.

See, here's the thing: I can't handle gross.  Anything gross.  You want to tell me all about your surgery and show me scars?  I'll buy you flowers to keep you quiet.  TV shows want to put bloody wounds all up in my face?  TV goes off. Zombies?  NO THANK YOU.  And that's the thing about animals.  They do gross better than just about anyone else.

Now, I get that most of what animals do is NOT "be gross."  But you've got to admit, they do leave "surprises" from both ends of their bodies around often enough that for me it overshadows the rest.  Why, WHY would I want to walk around carrying a bag o' poo?  To quote Leopold from the movie "Kate and Leopold," "Are you suggesting madam that there exists a law compelling a gentleman to lay hold of canine bowel movements?"  Exactly.

Now that I've enraged animal lovers anywhere, here's a collage of animal photos to woo you back:

You might have noticed that the title of this blog post is, "If I Had A Dog."  The reason for that is that, despite my protestations above, there's that part of me that wonders what it would be like to have a dog.  My cousins have the sweetest Golden Doodle ever - his name is Blue and he never fails to make me smile:

Blue, just one of the gang.
I often tell my cousin that Blue restores my faith in animals - so loving and sweet and goofy.  While I personally can't see myself with a dog Blue's size, he does make me wonder if having an animal like him would be worth all of the fuss.  So, instead of actually worry about getting a dog, I lay in bed and think about what I'd name one if I did.  (Sorry to cat lovers out there, but I will never own a cat, partially due to being allergic to them, but also largely due to their sneaking, plotting ways...)  

Here are a few ideas for names I came up with while laying in bed last night:
  • Lord Rothschild
  • Steve  (while some might think this name comes from me once dating a guy named Steve, that's not it at all - I just think Steve would be a hilarious dog name)
  • Walter
  • Marty McFly
  • Doc Brown
  • Professor Fluffington
  • Anne Murray
  • Wolverine
  • Mystique
  • Amy Pond
  • The Doctor
  • Thor
  • Squidward
  • Albus Dumbledor
  • Viktor Krum
  • Mulder
  • Scully
  • Captain Phantom
  • The Crimson Chin
Maybe there are other reasons I don't have a dog, come to think of it...  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lyrical Thursday: Hyacinths

In honor of the first day of spring, I wanted to share a poem that I honestly can't believe I haven't shared yet, as it's one of my favorites!  It also happens to be a favorite of my mom's, and she used to recite it on occasion.  It's short, but has a very upbeat message that I find to be true.  No matter how down-and-out things are, hyacinths can always bring your (or at least my) spirits up.  Flowers in general do that for me - something bright and sweet to cheer up even the dullest days!

The poem is attributed to Moslih Eddin Saadi, a Mohammadan Sheik and Persian poet who lived in the 12th-13th centuries, and is usually called Hyacinths to Feed Thy Soul, or simply, Hyacinths:

If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves alone
 to thee are left - 
Sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.

I did a painting for my mom one year with the poem at the bottom.  The picture's not that clear - I'll see if I can get a better one soon!  For now, Happy Spring, everyone!!!