It saddens me to know that so many women and children find themselves homeless and living on the streets. Union Rescue Mission’s Hope Gardens Family Center works with broken families to help them stabilize their lives and progress from homelessness to independent living.
Thinking about the children at Hope Gardens and how being homeless can turn your life upside down; sometimes you must leave all your possessions behind when you leave a bad situation and you turn up at a shelter with nothing but the clothes on your back. I wanted to create hand-made gifts for the children, something they could love & hug; something to bring comfort; something made from the heart! I decided on lovable monsters that could be cuddled & taken anywhere.
Each flannel monster is a hand-made, one-of-a-kind, stuffed soft toy. Each unique felt face is hand embroidered to give each monster his own unique personality. They are very soft & cuddly and are perfectly made for giving comfort & love to a child. I also added a heart to each monster so it can share it’s love.
This project has taken several months to completed… and I am thrilled to have finished 49 monsters. They will be carefully packed & delivered to Hollywood United Methodist Church. Members of the church will distribute these & other toys to the children Dec 4.
Some things in life are just so comfortable I don’t know how I would live without them.. a well worn pair of jeans, the perfect fitting tee, a soft and oh so warm sweater, my favorite pair of Chucks.
I need to add my new Fuji X100 to this list. I’ve had it less than 48 hours and I am already in love. From the moment I removed it from the packaging I was in love, it just felt right in my hands. I have been playing with it most of the morning and don’t want to put it down…. love. love. love. I’m in love!
Alan Bennett (The History Boys)
"Pete Seeger’s Clearwater"
Music legend and environmental activist Pete Seeger launched the sloop “Clearwater” in 1969 to clean up the Hudson River through concerts, education programs and environmental advocacy programs that inspire, educate and activate people.
I was privileged to sail on this magnificent sloop with my family.
Make no mistake, the Clearwater, a replica of the Dutch sloops of the 18th and 19th centuries, is a work boat. But instead of food-stuffs and mail, she carries a poignant reminder of the potential beauty and wealth of the region’s much-abused and neglected waterways.
While on board it’s an educational excursion for all. Nets are trailed behind as we sail, then brought up so contents can be used to teach about what’s in the river. At the end, all living creatures are returned to their home & trash is kept to be disposed of properly.
It’s amazing how much more can be learned by hands-on education.
And if your lucky, Pete, will be on board with his guitar for a mid-sail sing along :)
As Pete says, “The time is now or we will not, I fear, have a future for the human race.”
For more information: http://www.clearwater.org/category/latest-news/
So I’ve been dealing with Insomnia the past few nights, nothing new to me. I get a lot done during the quite dark hours of the night & early morning: creating art, knitting & thinking… lots of thinking
I’m thinking about:
How a simple act of kindness can change someone’s life.
And how it’s good for both giver & receiver.
How I love all my old worn comfy T-shirts & how new ones always seem so scratchy
How I love hugs from friends…
and how much I love my friends
and how they love me back even when I’m at my craziest
How the thought of Freddy Mercury in his black/white uni can make me smile
How I need to be in constant motion no matter what I’m doing.
Rocking, swaying, bouncing even if I am just standing in line or making dinner
How I must have multiple projects going on at the same time so I don’t get bored doing the same things
How much I love what I do!
I get paid to create, design & play while rocking out to tunes.
How awesome is that??!
How much a handmade item or piece of art can mean so much
How awesome it is to have a full blown laughing fit
How good it feels to do a favor for someone even when you really don’t feel like doing it
How proud I feel when I navigate somewhere by myself even tough I’m totally directionally challenged
How silly & hateful drama is
How some people are raised to hate themselves and the consequences of that
How I love my kids
How I can tolerate stupid people but ignorant ones annoy me
How much I hate liars
How I need to cut out all the scratchy tags from my clothing
Karma & how much negative/positive energy can effect you
How I wish I lived closer to the church I follow
How much I love homemade mac-n-cheese
Why companies feel the need to sneak stuff like Omega-3 into food
How Heidi Winzinger’s song “It’s just me” reminds me so much of me
How much I love music, books, art & photography
Why people feel the need to lie & how painful & evil it can be
Why my dad thought tossing me in the river at age 5 would teach me to swim
Why the local bartender taught me to drive at age 10 so I could get my dad home
How much I miss my dad at times
How I wish I could knit faster so I could make more things like hats, scarves, toys & blankets for those that need them
Why I’ve had so many near-death experiences & why God keeps me here
How perfect a banana is & even after it starts to go bad, you can still use it to make banana bread
How I can keep track of all my kids schedules & appointments but forget to feed myself
How much I love my paper & pencils
How much I love my mum’s Pumpkin Cake
How I can be so focused at times & yet get so distracted by the simplest things
How long hours of good productive work makes me feel good
How even when I’m exhausted a good run can make me feel energized
How much I love my “self adopted” sisters & family
How stupid racism, bigotry & homophobia are
Why people can’t just all get along & do good to each other
How I love the smell of vanilla & almond body wash
Why I can’t be in two places at the same time
How great trust is, especially when it turns out you’re right
How I miss my dog, Tawny, and wish I could have a dog right now
How I need to try to find the good in everyone
Why these thoughts come at me all the time & keep me up thinking when I should be sleeping.. and how I wish my brain had an off switch so I could use it to stop the thoughts from coming for a while. Or maybe a dimmer switch so I could slow them down a bit.
This is my mum’s recipe & my favorite cake.
1 cup butter (or shortening)
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups pumpkin
Preheat oven to 350°F
Beat butter, sugar & eggs
Mix in dry ingredients
Fold in pumpkin.
Pour batter into greased & floured cake pans
Bake for 45 minutes (Bunt pan 55 minutes)
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 pound powdered sugar
Cream together cream cheese & butter.
Add in vanilla
Slowly add in powdered sugar
Mix well until creamy
Icing cool cake
“Barber Chair, Eastern State Penitentiary” One of my favorite places to explore is Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, PA. It was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. I can get lost for hours photographing the prison, as there is always something new to be found as I walk the halls, cell blocks & grounds. Although the vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s most notorious criminals, including bank robber “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone, I find places off the tour path the most fascinating. Away from the crowds, just me, my camera & tripod. Although signing liability waivers upon entry is no longer required, you must still explore with caution and stay with in the “open” sections. Among the rot & ruin you can feel the spirits of those that once roamed here, it always feels like someone or something is watching you. That heightened sense is wonderful to my creative mind, as I am more attuned with my surroundings. I never tire of this place or the feeling it gives me.
“Barber Chair, Eastern State Penitentiary”
One of my favorite places to explore is Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, PA. It was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. I can get lost for hours photographing the prison, as there is always something new to be found as I walk the halls, cell blocks & grounds.
Although the vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s most notorious criminals, including bank robber “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone, I find places off the tour path the most fascinating. Away from the crowds, just me, my camera & tripod.
Although signing liability waivers upon entry is no longer required, you must still explore with caution and stay with in the “open” sections.
Among the rot & ruin you can feel the spirits of those that once roamed here, it always feels like someone or something is watching you. That heightened sense is wonderful to my creative mind, as I am more attuned with my surroundings.
I never tire of this place or the feeling it gives me.
Sometimes waiting will get you the perfect addition to your photograph. I was in West Hollywood taking photos outside of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Out of the corner of my eye I could see a woman in red heels looking over all the names. I knew I wanted to include the heels in my photo, so I set up the shot & waited, it didn’t take long until she walked into the frame just where I wanted her.. CLICK.. got it.
"Bugged Eyed & Screaming"
I love when I find human elements in inanimate objects & it always takes me by surprise. I am pulled to the subject & must record it, taking my time as though it were a real person to bring out the personality that I see.
Street Performer: Hollywood & Vine
Street photography is not always about snap & run tactics. On a recent trip to West Hollywood I came across a man playing drums on the corner of Hollywood & Vine. I could have just snapped his photo & went on my way, but he was amazing & I stopped to listen. He was a character, not only playing drums but interacting with the people around him. I found out he was homeless, a vet and many more details of his life. He found out I was from NJ & had a few jokes about that LOL. So happy I took the time to stop & met this wonderful man.
Inspiration comes when you least expect it & from places you would not think.
I have always struggled with church. It started back when I was a kid. I was raised Catholic, attending mass & CCD and grew up thinking I was the devil’s spawn & that God did not love me. Why? Because the priest at that church ingrained that in my brain. I will not go into details here, as I have yet to fully understand his actions. I would later, in my adult life, come to realize that he was the abusive one & that no child should have to endure what he inflicted upon me. So if the priest was the evil one, maybe God really did love me.
I did marry in a church… had my children baptized in a church (different religions). All the while searching for the right fit, one where I felt comfortable. Some had priests that reminded me too much of the one that abused me. Others were full of bigotry & hatred. I was looking for a loving God that would accept me for who I was. I did find Good Shepherd in North Jersey where I felt welcome & joined a few of the ministries. We attend for a few years before we moved to South Jersey.
My quest began again. I think I have been to churches of almost every christian religion and yet I only find exclusion, bigotry & hatred preached in the name of God. Or priests that remind me too much of my childhood terrors. One church did welcome me, but I never sat to hear a sermon. They delegated me to nursery duty every week, as I had 3 small children. The one time I did try to attend service I only received dirty looks & rudeness from the parents who had to take their own kids into church as no one was minding the nursery. My quest continued.
Years later, while helping my daughter with a school project on equal rights, I came across an online article titled “Is NCIS’s Pauley Perrette the coolest straight person ever?” ( http://www.afterelton.com/people/2009/8/pauleyperrette?page=0%2C0 ) At the time I had no idea who Pauley Perrette was & had never watched the show “NCIS”. Reading the article I was struck by how much she loved her church and thought to myself, “is there really such a place out there?”
So I found the church website ( http://www.hollywoodumc.org ) and started my research. I listened to the sermons. I liked what I read & heard. I listened every week as the new sermons were posted & became addicted to this church. That was fall 2009 and I am still loving this church. Not only are the sermons filled with the love of God, but with love toward each other, of acceptance no matter what. The outreach & community service are vast. This is a church where I could feel at home. Downside is they are on the other side of the country, a long commute to attend personally. Recently the church expanded to twitter & facebook, places where I can communicate with the church & its members. One of the merits of social media.
It was here, in the twitter universe, where inspiration for creating glass mosaics was born.
One of the pieces was inspired by @HollywoodUMC & @revkathycl . So I went to work on this piece, incorporating the church tower with its bright red aids ribbon, hands in service outstretched to god & the rainbow symbolizing acceptance for all people regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, occupation, or station in life, radiating outward, welcoming all. Pouring everything I felt about this church & its people into my art, I worked on this for weeks… driven to finish my vision.
I am honoured to be able to gift this glass mosaic to Hollywood UMC, to be able to give back to a place that has unknowingly given me so much. I feel blessed to be able to attend service in person Sept 4 (a small detour on my way to PhotoshopWorld Vegas). I have already been in contact with the pastors & church members reaching out to welcome me, making me feel like I am truly a member & loved.
I am honoured, humbled & blessed… and totally excited to be able to make this pilgrimage.
Got a call from a friend wanting to know if I would go on an adventure with her. Since I am always up for adventures… the answer was YES!! We ended up at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton NJ. We spent the day roaming trails on the extensive grounds, a visual treat for the eyes & a relaxing experience for the soul. The trails are arranged in such a way that even a directionally challenged person like me can not get lost.
More photos from the day can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/3ulzagb
“Grounds For Sculpture is a 35-acre public sculpture park located in Hamilton, NJ. It was founded in 1992 on the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds by J. Seward Johnson to promote an understanding of and appreciation for contemporary sculpture for all people.” http://www.groundsforsculpture.org
I trip into NYC is not complete without stopping at the awesome “Donna Bell’s Bake Shop” in the Theater District/Hell’s Kitchen (301 West 49th Street). All the baked goods & sandwiches are handmade & totally delicious. The lemonade & ice tea are the best around!! And owners Darren & Matt greet you with warm smiles and great conversation. I’m totally in love with this place!!
For more info on Donna Bell’s visit their website http://donnabellsbakeshop.com
"Moon Over Philadelphia"
While at the Philadelphia Zoo I had a chance to go up in the zoo balloon. The observation section is surrounded by netting, to keep people/objects from falling out, with just barely large enough openings to shoot thru. With several signs warning to keep hands/objects inside I knew I would only have one chance to get the shot I wanted. I worked my way around to the opposite side of the balloon, metered, then quickly framed my shot angling the lens just a bit thru the netting. I got off one shot before I was told to pull my lens back in, but I knew I had gotten the shot. I walked over to the attendant & showed her the image. She must have been impressed because she asked if I could send her a copy. I said yeah, but can I take a few more just to make sure I got a good clear image… permission granted for a few more shots.. SWEET!! The first one was the keeper.
On twitter @PauleyP started a hashtag #ILoveYouSign along with a photo of her hand making the ASL sign. I thought it would make a great “Warhol style” mosaic. I already had the perfect window sitting in my garage. A friend had rescued it from a horse stable & gave it to me months before. The idea & the window were a perfect match!
Size: 34.5” x 29”
UPDATE: PauleyP loved this piece so much, she purchased it. It now resides with her in West Hollywood… YAY!!