October 29, 2009

Travis's CD!

Our son Travis with friend Katrina are coming out with a CD. Here's a link to one of the songs. It's due out November 13 - great timing for Christmas gifts! As I've sat listening to the mixes I keep thinking of more and more people I want to give it to!

Dawson went up to stay with Travis and Sarah a couple days (where were Monte and me? were we getting ready to leave town? I'm a bit befuddled having been in Wisconsin visiting Monte's aging parents-his dad having fallen-and planes have been canceled and delayed into Denver because of snow. How much snow is at home Dawson? 3 feet?). Dawson took lots of photos for the CD and here's one of the photos.

October 21, 2009

Visual Faith

Art is a subject I’ve wanted to study – not art history, and not the how-to. I’ve collected many books and it may be what I write on next, having blogged about the calendar for two years and putting it in book form (I really have several books in meself to write!) (and, as I’ve written sometime this summer, I am going to change my blog format … someday … when I’ve more time … haha!). But my art quest began moreso with “Come to me as a child” and the desire to Recapture the Wonder (which is the title of a book by Ravi Zacharias, and then there’s Dangerous Wonder by Mike Yaconelli). I want to study of the power of beauty, the power of the visual – Visual Faith.

I got a new Bible for this year’s devotional/ meditational/ lectio divina/ contemplative reading. It’s called the Mosaic Holy Bible, using the word mosaic as referring to us believers. On our own we are little more than bits of stone and glass, but together we make up the body of Christ, reflecting His image. The front third of the book has guided Scripture readings appropriate to the church season, along with writings encompassing a great cloud of witnesses from old to new; prayers, hymns, and poems, as well as full-color artwork – all for engaging the soul. Then the last 2/3 is the New Living Translation. I’ve not read that translation and am finding it refreshing.

I recently read the section titled “Creativity”. Remember, calendar girl me has told you our Christian Year begins the end of November with the start of Advent, and we are now in the season called “Ordinary Time”, the 22nd week after Pentecost. I really resonated with this creativity theme. Even if I weren’t artistic (which if you say that of yourself, I’d question your definition of “artistic” and maybe some quotations and comments here will help you think this through) … I’d still value the thoughts worth pondering.

“Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us” … So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them … Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!
- Genesis 1

“Deep within all of us is a longing to recapture a sense of wonder, to marvel at the mystery of God and His creation like we did as children. But through the years our capacity for wonder has been stifled by busyness and ambitions, and we have resigned ourselves to explaining away all that once made us gasp in awe … Our sense of wonder is a blessing from God.”
- Ravi Zacharias

“Every experience of beauty points to infinity.”
- Hans Urs von Balthasar

All creation proclaims God’s craftsmanship and glory day after day and night after night—they make Him known in their way.
- Psalm 19

“I am creating new heavens and a new earth … Be glad, rejoice forever in my creation! And look!”
- Isaiah 65:17,18

I have been looking. I do notice. I do appreciate, hopefully beyond a rational assertion … but in the realm of aha!!!!!

“Art has long been a spiritual practice. Its modern stigma has undeservingly dampened Christian creativity and squelched the innate novelty with which we were formed. Fortunately, churches are once again beginning to embrace the full range of the arts, exploring the nonverbal ways God is glorified.

Of course, we were given this very mandate and model for creativity in God’s creation—nature and humanity are brave testaments to an imaginative Creator. As we enter an awestruck posture, it is right and appropriate to respond using the creative nature with which we’ve been blessed.”
- Mosaic Holy Bible

Our imagination as Christians has been primarily nourished by the spoken and written word as well as music. The church and its experience with beauty appears to be estranged, and the role the church could offer has been supplanted by art galleries and theaters. In desiring to respond to the presence of God with the whole of our beings, is there a place for visual artists and their responses in church? In saying above that we’ve been moreso nourished by literature and music, could I also say that we’re mal-nourished in our visual imagination?

The importance of creativity “is that the Christian life involves the use of the imagination—after all, we are dealing with the invisible [like God], and the imagination is our training in dealing with the invisible—making connections…”
- Eugene Peterson

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
- Albert Einstein

The root word for imagination is “image”, meaning a visual representation, a visible impression, a mental representation or idea, a simile or metaphor. The visual has a way of sticking in our memory and making demands on our conscience long after the explanations have been rubbed thin by the frictions of daily life. We do need moral propositions and principles, but we need images too, because we think more readily in pictures than in propositions. And when a moral principle has the power to move us to action, it is often because it is backed up by a story or visual image.

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God … Through Christ God created everything … “For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself …”
- Colossians 1:15-20

“Creator God, your Spirit enables our own creative abilities as we allow you to work through our words, our hands and our imaginations.

We thank you for the beauty of created things, for pots and bowls moulded by the skilful manipulation of clay, for a portrait which captures the essence of a personality, for the written word which transports us to a faraway place, a poem that captures the raw emotion of a moment, a prayer that speaks to our heart and soul.

You are present wherever mankind opens its eyes to see, can be heard whenever mankind opens its ears to hear, can be felt as hands are outstretched in faith.”
- John Birch

“The desire to create is not taught. The world and everything in it is the workmanship of the Creator. As created beings, we carry the image of God, not least of which is an innate urge called creativity.

Creativity is a spiritual discipline that followers of Jesus have too often ignored. As far back as Genesis, God gave humanity an artistic assignment. He asked Adam to name the animals and thus invited him into the creative process with himself, the Creator.

Unfortunately, the beauty and order of creation were soon scarred; God, however, was not deterred. The story of Jesus is the mark of the creative master at work. Only divinity could take something as offensive as the cross and use it to restore beauty. He continues his redemptive plan by empowering us to join him in this creative work … And the Spirit came in power to an expectant group of Christ-followers, and the creative force embodied in one person, Jesus Christ, is now available to everyone.

Peter quoted the prophet Joel to describe what has happened: ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people’ (Acts 2:17). And with these words, God’s creative spark ignites the hearts of men and women in a whole new way.

God the Creator now places his divine imprint on our spirits. Pentecost shatters the glass ceiling of possibility. The garden is now replaced with an upper room, and the new assignment goes beyond simply naming his creation to calling his creation into a regenerative process, making old things new.

Wherever there is a divide, God’s creativity in us leads us to build a bridge. Wherever there is doubt, God’s creativity in us stirs our imagination and produces faith. Wherever there is despair, God’s creativity in us pictures and pursues hope. Wherever there is injustice, God’s creativity in us finds a way to show his love.”
- Mark Miller

Travis had a poster that said “Expose yourself to art”. And I think it was Madeline L’Engle who said to not judge art, but let art judge you.

October 20, 2009

Beauty in death

I took a bunch of pictures outside this morning in the warm sun before the next storm front moved in today, bringing more snow ... supposedly ... we'll see. I needed to capture for my photo library what some of the 'dead' plants look like, but started taking close-ups of the seed heads. I found some things still flowering. In this death cycle there is still beauty.

But in the picture process I decided to take pictures of all Monte's rock specimens he scattered around my garden walls this summer. I'm getting my pictures organized, getting more from Dawson's computer too, for Monte's parents to see, since we're visiting them and they so like pictures. I thought they'd get a kick out of seeing their son's playfulness. If I were to count all his rocks, there'd be a lot. I'm going to post some of the most pretty or unique. A green and black one is serpentinite, which he's mainly working with right now in his geologic endeavors.

October 18, 2009


"Unless you're in a kissing relationship,
skip the dip."

- as said by Lynne Rossetto Kasper
on NPRs Splendid Table radio show this weekend.

Anyone needing me to explain?

October 17, 2009

Worship Quote

"There is no one in this world who is not, at this moment, at worship in one way or another, consciously or unconsciously, formally or informally, passively or passionately. . . . the question is not, When do we worship ...? Instead, it is, Whom do we worship and with what condition of heart?"
- Harold Best

Quoted in Marva J Dawn's newest book In The Beginning God: Creation, Culture, and the Spiritual Life. (I love her books!)

Wonder Time

Woke early this morning thinking of the film clip I posted yesterday. Thinking of things it reminded me of ...

We've had guests for a couple days - an investor friend of Monte's and his son. As Don and Monte are talking, Micah's been wandering around wondering what to do. We've talked, but I don't entertain kids. I didn't entertain my kids. Sure we read together, made things together, and played games together, but I also often left them on their own to think up their own things to do, and TV and video games was never an option since we didn't have those. We didn't even have neighbor kids as an option to go play with. Micah's been having some fun, but I think it's been very different for him.

Dawson came home, first meeting us at a Thai restaurant for a supper together and then was here yesterday. Some of his friends came yesterday late afternoon to help him go get composted horse manure and shovel it into our back area for me to scatter over all my garden areas putting them to bed for winter (and I've got some bulbs to plant in my new areas for early Spring flowers). As everyone awaited the great supper I was making, Dawson and friends started playing with all the music instruments we've gathered over the years. Phil was trying to play the mandolin - very creatively successful. Dawson pulled out a flute we were given, for Splarah to try. Aaron started providing rhythm by overturning a trash bin. Monte even was trying to play the saw. I hated to tell them supper was ready! Micah saw cool guys totally uninhibited enjoying making music and hanging around the dining table with gay conversation.

The film clip reminds me of the movie "August Rush". I love that movie. An orphan boy with an austere childhood lives with hope that his parents didn't abandon him and will find him. When he escapes the orphanage I sat with pins-and-needles awaiting evil. Only Robin Williams is the character who abuses this boy's innocence and giftedness. I love his first experience of the hustling, bustling big city. He hears and feels rhythmic music in the traffic and horn honking and all. When exposed to a guitar and left alone with it, he explores it in ways no one usually does. I don't want to tell you anything more about the movie.

I don't know if my youngest brother Robby remembers - he's about ten years younger than me - we used to sit out in our front yard together. We'd sit looking at the gravel in our drive and I'd see pretty ones and I actually collected them, putting them in my jewelry box. I'd tell Robby to listen. "Tell me what you hear ...?" We'd sit that way for a long time.

Have you ever taken the time to sit and watch ants? They'll string out in a long line, some of them carrying stuff. Stuff often larger and probably heavier than themselves. How do they do that? On a crowded street there's such variety of people to watch, but do you notice plants growing in cement, rock, and asphalt cracks and stop to wonder? do you notice the variety of birds 'voices'? I've stopped to observe pigeons, wanting to know what their mannerisms and voices are like, since I'm unfamiliar with them.

The key here is taking time to notice. Maybe it would mean closing our eyes to shut out the normal and listen for the new, feel and sense stuff more, like in the film clip. Like 'be still and know that I am God' kind of time. When the disciples wanted to shove off the insignificant children, Jesus took them on his lap and told us to come to him as a child.

There's such an innocent trust in children, an abandonment in their work and play, so there in the moment, and such a sense of wonder - all pieces of worship.

October 16, 2009

A deaf girl learns to play violin - An Inspiring must view.

Beautiful music. "Why do you have to be like others"? ... a chrysalis turned butterfly!

October 13, 2009

Felted Picture?

This is the felted picture I'm currently working on. I've had varying visions and working titles for it during the process, but haven't settled on a name yet.

October 12, 2009

Chili Con Carne

What did I cook on the cookstove Saturday when it slightly snowed but moreso heavily froze and frosted everything in a very picturesque way? Chili. I've got my 3x5 card sitting here with me. It has a paperclip on it, meaning I've accumulated several chili recipes. Paperclips in my recipe box are on Lasanga, and Tiramisu (not remembering what else). But Monte says this is the BEST Chili, so I need to make that note on the card (maybe throw away or put away the other cards).

As I've said before, I packed away most all my cookbooks (tho, as I posted a picture on my photoblog, Monte just made a shelf in the garage over the freezers that my books are now on and I'm utilizing them, having missed them!). A cookbook set I did leave out is all the Cooks Illustrated bound magazines. I never buy the magazines, waiting till the end of the year's bound edition, and have them all from their beginning. I consult them all the time. So this chili recipe is the best because of consulting them, yet not following their exact recipe. That's what I like about them - so much exploration and process of elimination with the whys, that I can choose my own way -

Chili con Carne
about 4# beef chuck roast, cut into 1" cubes (the last couple times I've used pork shoulder since it's what I had in the freezer. And the cubed meat is what's a key to the goodness of this recipe.)
7-8 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-1/2" pieces
Fry bacon and brown meat in batches (I used some wine after batches to remove browned bits stuck on pan's bottom - Monte thinks that's another key to the goodness - my addition to the recipe, having read many recipes that do that.)
Saute -
1 onion, chopped, 5-6 minutes, and add -
5 garlic cloves, minced &
3 anahiem chilies or 1 jalepeno, chopped
(I grilled these anahiems earlier, as we got them in our farm share. And they're a bit spicy hot. Once grilled, let cool- and then I plop them in the freezer in a ziplock bag with other chilies I've grilled. This would be another of my additions to the original recipe.)
2 tsp salt
3 Tb chili powder
(The recipe original messes with a variety of chilies, grinding and making a paste ... I skipped. I let the juices dry out, maybe not adding all the tomato in at once, so that the spices saute, toasting a bit too.)
2 TB cumin (whole, I didn't grind this time)
2 tsp oregano
1 cup (or small can stewed) tomatoes, chopped
2 TB lime juice
Add back in the meat and bacon and 7 cups of water and let this simmer at least 2 hours.
At the end, Add -
5 TB Masa Harina, mixed with
2/3 cups water
and occasionally stir letting it heat and thicken some.
(The original recipe doesn't add beans, but I always add a can of either black beans or black soy beans.)

We love to eat this with added grated cheese and avacado chunks. I'll eat with tortilla chips, while my boys will crush the chips into the chili. Add a side salad and you've got a great meal. (I froze what was left of it last night for one more meal.)

Dawson and Splarah went skiing today for this year's first time. Wow, early October. There was a year that Travis made the goal of skiing every month of the year - not sure where he'd have done that in August. But one of our ski hills is open the earliest and latest of all others - it's A-Basin, most of it above timberline. We have the typical evergreen pines, conifers, spruce, and then above them there's the Bristle Cone Pines that are as old as Jesus! A-Basin's summit is above 13,000ft.

That's chili!!!!!!!

Dust Quote

Monte sent me another quote that I'll post here to capture (and delete the email) and then comment.

Stop dusting, and you can use your coffee table as a message board!

I'll have to ask him where it came from, but I think I know why he sent it. It's not that my coffee table or any table is so dusty. For some miraculous reason our house doesn't create much dust (but don't look too close). I think he sent it cuz I have a quote (Sarah wrote my quote on our graffiti chalkboard wall in the bathroom) -

"Dust is Country"
- Karey Swan

Our home is a country home with a country look and feel, and dust is a part of that. Is it that we hardly have any dust? Or does the decor just not glaringly show forth dust? Or do I decorate country so I don't have to dust? What tis the question?

October 10, 2009

Life a Craft

As Geoffrey Chaucer lamented,
“The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.”
But for today’s weavers, lifelong learning is the joy as well as the challenge of the craft.

Just capturing a quote from an old friend of Monte's.

New look ... New season

Just a reminder to go check out new postings to my photoblog.

I posted a series of the old vs new Dawson and a comparison with Travis, who people are now saying, with Dawson's new hair style - "they finally look like brothers!". I'm still not used to the new look!

When taking pictures of things in my greenhouse I found a surprise in the greenhouse sink! Cleaning up the yard for winter, Monte must have unearthed this old toy! I need to ask him where he found it. His putting it in the sink is probably telling me to clean it up for the new season of our life - grandkids!

Is this Fall or Winter? It is snowing again, Monte got the stove going, I'm still in my bathrobe, and watching a bluejay and magpie scarfing up the birdseed from the birdfeeder meant for little finches, chickadees and nuthatches. Time to get dressed and get something out of the freezer cooking on the stove, and finish my felted picture (I posted it's beginning on my photoblog).

Fall Wool Festival in Taos, NM

A variety of scenes from the festival.

Taos Wool Festival, etc

It's early morning. The sun might not make an appearance today. I'm currently looking out on thickly frosted plants and ground - wilted leaves and flowers. I love how only one side of the evergreen trees has the thicker white coating, leaving all the north sides of the trees their dark green. It would make a nice picture to capture and keep.

I'm not seeing bunny tracks - maybe it's still sleeping. The birds are awakening and looking for seeds. Are bugs out for the bug eating birds? Are the bears hibernating yet? I hope so. Do raccoons hibernate? Monte saw two in the trash trailer (probably after some fish wrappings) and we've decided they did the latest bird feeder destruction. Elk are still in their rut and bugling.

It's getting lighter outside and I think it's trying to snow. Now it's pretty seeing an occasional golden aspen in the midst of the dark evergreens with their white one-sided dusting. I should be starting the wood stove. Made my tea though, and curled up in wool socks and thick bathrobe. And I don't want to take too much time posting cuz I'm working on a felted piece. Colorful wool in baskets and curly colored locks too, and a shiny skein of wool, are covering the kitchen table and benches awaiting me to create.

Which reminds me ... my last post was just before Monte and me were leaving for the Taos Wool Festival. It was a great vacation - a true vacation, not related to Monte's work travel or us speaking.

Our close friends, Jim and Marty, had time share places lined up for us to stay in - the first night in Red River, New Mexico. Monte worked there just before we married, coming home for us to elope. Lots of memories, including his favorite restaurant, Texas Reds, where he ate a lot. Tho the original had burned down, it's a part of the Red River Lodge now and the owner remembered Monte! We all had a salad with their famous salad dressing that Monte's raved about for 34 years - and yes, it was very good! The waitress had fun with us and Monte's memories (like hiking the hills with backpack full of rocks), tho she'd not been born yet then. With the great music in the bar (Monte and Jim bought the guy's CD) it was a great atmosphere and wonderful meal.

The nice thing about this trip was that we weren't driving long distances, so could stop and enjoy the local scenery - which included galleries and the local's food hangouts. La Veda, Colorado was one stop, for lunch. A very old hippie (yes, old hippies, including us), artsy fartsy town. We could tell lots of music happens around there. Some famous people (famous to us textile people - like Marty is a quilter) live around there, and then Monte fell in love with one style of oil painting and we ended up talking with the painter himself - and Monte's got to go back next year (his first openings) for a week long class.

Scenery? It was perfect timing for colorful Colorado's fall colors! Since we don't have maple trees, our rusts and reds come from scrub oak and other bushes and vines. The golds of aspen are our main color. But too, there's the grasses (I used to have my kids notice all the varieties of grass when we'd walk - did you ever notice how many variances there are? - could fill a large book, just on grass - interested?)- lots of fall color changes with them too.

After Monte's 34 year old memory lane fix (It was Frontier Days in Red River and we walked around the next day - finding out many of the locals work several jobs in that small community. We figured they'd all be sitting around the bar the next night talking about these strange visitors that befriended them for a day.) we drove winding back roads to Taos. Monte and me were last there 33 years ago. So the joke of that time was asking around if "Joe's Place" was still there? Joke? Because with Monte's knack for stretching the truth in his story-telling, you wonder what's really real - so this was a weekend of dispelling myths or finding them true. A local at Michael's, where we had a fabulous breakfast, really had fun with Monte.

It was beautiful weather and we enjoyed walking everywhere. The beautiful place we stayed in Taos had fruit trees about the property, so as we walked anywhere we were eating apples (looking for worms) and great plums. The Wool Festival was in Kit Carson Park (Taos is his home place - his home a museum) close to our place and we walked around amongst the many colorful booths both Saturday and Sunday (as well as all the many artsy shops and galleries that make up Taos). I found a site that posted pictures from this year's festival in a slide show. By Sunday most of the beautiful felted hats, and woven pieces made into fabulous clothing were sold out (and expensive they were too!!!)

I googled the festival and can't believe there's not great pictures posted. Looking tho reminded me that the same weekend was the balloon festival in Alburquerque and little over an hour south. I've seen pictures of it and Marty and Jim went years ago. Hundreds of colorful balloons fill the sky! I did see from my own photo library that Monte took quite a few pictures from his iPhone (Dawson put them on my computer and I hadn't even looked at them yet). So I'm going to post some of them on my photoblog.

Monte and me went from this trip to Travis and Sarah's and spent the night and Monday with them. Travis has been working on a CD of original songs and creative arrangements him and friend Katrina have done. Monte was excited to hear it and help with any tweaking his producing ears heard, before it's done being mixed. We had a very relaxing day, ending it with purchased vanity and sinks for their main bathroom, and a good bar-b-q sandwich supper.

It's snowing now. I'm resigned to the fact that summer is over. Time to start the woodstove and cook a stew on it or soup.

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