Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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A Year of Mindfulness: Notice The Trees

As we ended the month of April, we were asked to be mindful of entering new spaces. The focus of this practice was to increase our awareness of leaving one space and entering another; something that we rarely pay attention to as we tend to move quickly from one space to another.

How did you do with this practice? I failed. Dr. Bays said it was one of the hardest mindfulness practices and it is indeed. I rarely found myself pausing while leaving one room and entering another. Dr. Bays comments in her book that one reason this practice is so hard is that as we leave one room, our mind moves ahead toward the future, moving into the next room and what we will do in that new room. It happens so quickly that we aren’t even aware of it.

This Week’s Mindfulness Practice: Notice the Trees

Doesn’t this sound like a wonderful practice? This week we are asked to notice trees; their shape, their texture, height and foliage. Don’t analyze the trees. Appreciate the trees. If you don’t have trees where you live, notice the grass, the cacti, or the bushes.

What is the point of this practice? To become aware of our interconnectedness with trees, nature, and the environment. Trees are part of life. They provide shade, shelter, and filter air. You might even have a favorite tree to sit under, to climb, or perhaps it holds a swing.

I remember how much it hurt to see the tree damage that occurred from the early snow storm last October. The broken, snapped and twisted branches. And yet, this spring, many of those same trees sprouted new leaves and flowered as if nothing had ever happened. Now that’s resilience.

So this week, notice the trees when you look out your window, when you walk or drive.

Reflection:  There is always music amongst the trees in the garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it. -Minnie Aumonier

I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues. -Dr Seuss (The Lorax)


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Carmen Birrdanda

One of my goals this year is to teach polymer clay classes in the fall. I’m planning to teach a series of beginner classes locally as well as offer classes on polymer clay art dolls.

The fun part (most of the time) in developing classes is working through the process of creating the artwork that you teach to your students. This is when you learn how many steps it actually takes to make the end product and whether your short-cut processes will really hold up. It is also a time to improve on your construction techniques. (Hmm, I’m sensing a future blog post here.)

One class that I thought would be fun is sculpting over a burned out light bulb. Burned out light bulbs can’t be recycled and disposing of them in the trash contributes to more waste in landfills; waste that doesn’t readily decompose. Sculpting over burned out light bulbs is, therefore, good for the environment.

Before the 4th of July holiday I started experimenting with this idea. What resulted from my experiment was Carmen Birrdanda.

Here is how she looked before her arms were finished:

Carmen Birrdanda-raw

Here she is after being cured in the oven, sanded, and antiqued (arms still not finished. She’s looking a little impatient.)

And here is Carmen in her final form. Her arms are finished with a mixed media technique. She is a bit of a cheeky bird with an independent streak. Note the red nail polish on her toes. Her sign reads “Will sing 4 seed.”

Carmen Birrdanda

She has an “inny” belly button. We discussed the possibility of a belly button ring or a little bling but decided she wasn’t quite old enough for that type of embellishment.


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The Beebles Are Coming…

I’ve been offline these last few days as I am getting ready for the Paradise City Arts Festival, March 19-21, at the Royal Plaza Trade Center in Marlboro. I’m looking forward to exhibiting at this location because it will introduce my artwork to a new customer base and it is less than 30 minutes from my home!

My goal this week is to post some of the new work that I’ll be bringing to the show.

Introducing the Beebles

The Beebles made their “soft” debut at a small art show last December. It was a good place to present them and gauge customer reaction.

At that time, their working name was “Bulbies” which many people found hard to pronounce. (A frequent mispronunciation was “bubbies.”) The name wasn’t a success but reaction to these tiny sculptures was positive.

My inspiration for the Beebles is the Japanese netsuke. Netsuke are small sculptural objects or toggles worn to suspend objects hung from the sash of the kimono.

In my interpretation, the Beebles are formed over used nightlight bulbs. This is my way of upcycling an item that would end up in the landfill. Beebles, therefore, are good for the environment and a great way to start your art collection!

The Beebles


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A Wonderful Day for a Whale Watch

One of the most fascinating experiences I’ve ever had is going on a whale watch. It is absolutely stunning to take a boat out into the ocean and then bob on the waves in the quiet while watching whales feed, blow, play, and slap their fins on the water. When this happens you truly are standing in the presence of nature’s giant and gentle beasts.

On Monday, a gorgeous sunny day with minimal wind and one foot waves, we boarded the Yankee Freedom and traveled approximately 1 3/4 hours to Stellwagen Bank at the mouth of the Massachusetts Bay. Stellwagen Bank is a National Marine Sanctuary where whale watching originated on the east coast.

It takes some time to locate the whales as they are always moving in search of food. So, before our first sighting, here are some shots of the scenes we passed on the way.

Fishing Boat at Dock

Fishing Boat at Dock

Rowers

Lighthouse

CaptLeoBoat

Our whale watching boat had several members of an Elderhostel who were visiting the east coast from various places across the country. I loved the shot below of one of the couples. Aren’t they sweet?

Couple

And this woman made me smile with her whale shirt and nautical hat.

NappingLady

Whale watches are great experiences for kids too.

MomandDau

When we started the trip, this flag was wrapped around the mast. Once we were out to sea it unfurled beautifully.

FlagOnMast

And then we had our first sighting.

FirstSighting

Off in the distance you’ll see a whale’s tail or fluke. Notice all the seabirds flying around the area. These whales were feeding! We’ve never seen this before on any whale watch.

FeedMe

Here you’ll see the whale with his mouth wide open. We were told the whales were following and eating tiny eels that they rustled to the water’s surface. The seabirds are shearwaters and seagulls. If they get too close they might also become whale food.

Here are two whales. One is facing us, right side up. His friend is upside down waving his right dorsal fin in the air.

FeedMeMore

Um, that whale is coming right toward us.

WhaleNose

SMILE!

SMILE!

Did you know whales eat 3,000 pounds of food per day?!

When whales dive, they might stay underwater for up to 30 minutes.

Bye

Bye Bye

Bye Bye

On this trip we saw Humpback, Minke, and Finback whales. The Humpback whales are the most animated. If they are especially playful you might see them breach (jump out of the water.)  That is an unbelievable sight to behold. On this trip the whales tended to display their flukes and wave their dorsal fins. Many of the whales that pass through Stellwagen Bank are identified by their flukes and given names accordingly.

The closest that the whale watch boats are allowed is 100 feet of the whales. Somewhere between 100 and 300 feet is the preferred minimum. At that distance the boats are only allowed stay for 15 minutes. And as the whales move, so does the boat…slowly.

If a right whale is sighted, the minimum distance allowed is 500 yards.  All boats must cease whale watching and return to port 15 minutes before sunset.

Whale Watching is Hard Work

Whale Watching is Hard Work

For more exciting pictures and video of whales breaching, visit Seven Seas Whale Watch

To make a donation in support of whale conservation and protection, visit the American Cetacean Society, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, or the Atlantic Whale Foundation. To support the Stellwagen Bank Marine Sanctuary, click here.

To learn more about the International Whaling Commission, click here.


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The 37 Day Challenge

Patti Digh recently invited readers of her blog, 37 Days, to participate in a 37 Day Challenge. The object of the challenge is to do something small that is doable, actionable, recognizable and to do it consistently for 37 days. When I read Patti’s invitation to do some small, actionable, recognizable thing I was instantly intrigued.

For several months I’ve been trying to figure out how I could reduce the amount of sugar in my diet. I’m a confirmed choco-holic. I love dessert and am more likely to grab a cookie to finish off my lunch rather than a piece of fruit. I’m pretty good about reading food labels and avoid, as much as possible, buying food products with multiple listings of sugar, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup.

But there are sweets in our house (cookies, chocolates) and I know reaching for something sweet has become a bad habit.

So Patti’s challenge sounded easy enough (Ha!)

I started the challenge on Monday (3/30). After lunch I had that immediate desire to head to the cookie jar. Instead I had half a banana. Believe me; a banana is no substitute when you really want chocolate; but I grudgingly survived.

On Tuesday my mid-afternoon snack was a bag of ranch flavored rice cakes. Tasty and immediately addictive. Great! Now I’m substituting something salty for something sweet and chocolaty. After dinner I did indulge in a warmed snickerdoodle cookie. A little sugary…but not chocolate. You see how the rationale starts to work here.

On Wednesday, day 3, I wondered if a banana, chocolate chip, & walnut muffin counted as a sweet or not. It has banana and walnuts in it. That’s slightly healthy isn’t it? It was a small muffin too.

Yippee! Only 34 more days to go!

Does this sound like I’m depriving myself?

Deprivation isn’t my intent. My intent is to change a habit, to live healthier, to make an improvement. Today, instead of something sweet and sugary, I opted to snack on trail mix (nuts, raisins, peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, and teeny-tiny chocolate coated candies.) After a walk, I had cheese with fig spread on Kashi TLC crackers.

And then I opened the candy jar and…..deeply inhaled the scent of chocolate. It was oddly satisfying.

A Visit with “Uncle” Al

On Monday night Eric and I went to the Speaker Series at the Wang Theater. We were there to listen to former Vice President Al Gore talk about his environmental initiatives. (Don’t ask why, but I’ve taken to calling him “uncle Al.”) We weren’t sure what the speaker format would be like, especially when we saw two comfy looking chairs on the stage.

So there was the emcee who welcomed people and introduced a man from the Boston Phoenix (a joint sponsor of the speaker series) who would introduce Al Gore. And when Gore walked on stage he receieved a standing ovation. I mean, he is almost a native son as he did graduate from Harvard.  I’m sure the fact that he was in slightly liberal leaning Massachusetts had nothing to do with it 🙂

Mr. Gore was given a certain amount of time to share some stories and talk about how the environment, the economic climate, and foreign affairs are all intertwined. He was quite a compelling speaker.

And then an interviewer from the Boston Globe was introduced. And that is where the speaker series disappointed us. The interviewer asked Mr. Gore questions about the election (current and past), the economic climate (bailout, auto industry; as if we haven’t heard enough), and the survivability of newspapers. Not one single question about the environment or his initiatives was asked.

I understand it is the interviewer’s prerogative to ask questions s/he feels may be current and important. But if the comments overheard after the event were any indication, many people expected more conversation about the environment.

I was impressed that two days after this event I received a survey about the event. I expressed my disappointment that our expectations were not met as far as the interviewer’s content. I suggested a future event might ask audience members to submit questions ahead of time and that a moderator asks the questions. Better yet, just have Mr. Gore speak for 90 minutes.


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Sustaining Our Environment Postcard Exhibit

Earlier this month I submitted my postcards for the Women’s Art Caucus (WCA) Sustaining Our Environment Postcard exhibit.  All the postcards submitted for this exhibit are now on their way to Dallas, TX for the WCA national convention where they will be displayed and auctioned.

The WCA has an international committee which is an NGO to the United Nations and supports the UN’s Millenium Goals.  All proceeds from the Sustaining Our Environment Postcard auction will be donated to the UN in support of the UN’s Millenium Goals.

Any postcard not auctioned will be kept for future exhibits.

You can see my postcards here and over 200 postcards here.

To learn more about WCA, go here.

To learn more about the UN Millenium Goals, go here.