“The only credit we claim is for the use we make of the talent we are given.  That is why I urge young musicians:  Don’t be vain because you happen to have talent.  You are not responsible for it; it was not of your doing.  What you do with your talent is what matters.  You must cherish this gift.  Do not demean or waste what you have been given.  Work — work constantly and nourish it.”
— Pablo Casals

“Work helps prevent one from getting old . . . The man who works and is never bored is never old.  Work and interest are the best remedy for age.  Each day I am reborn.  Each day I must begin again.”
— Pablo Casals


Hands in the garden

Hands in the garden

Hand quilting

Hand quilting

“If there is any one thing that’s unhealthy in America, it’s that it is a whole civilization trying to get out of work — the young, especially, get caught in that.  There is triple alienation when you try to avoid work:  first, you’re trying to get outside energy sources/resources to do it for you; second, you no longer know what your own body can do, where your food or water comes from; third, you lose the capacity to discover the unity of mind and body via your work.”
—  Gary Snyder, from The Gary Snyder Reader:  Prose, Poetry and Translations

I am of two minds about people (affluent people) who hire housecleaners to clean up their messes at home or laborers to mow their lawns and pull weeds.  On one hand, I think people should clean up after themselves.  And I hate the sense of my time being more valuable than yours, so you do the dirty work.  On the other hand, if you can afford it, why not hire people so that your time is freed up to focus on the things that are most important to you.  And hiring people creates jobs and extra income for entrepreneurs.

What do you think?

Sunflowers and Hope

August 30, 2014

The face of a sunflower

The face of a sunflower

“Alm0st all lives are small.  What enlarges a life is the inner life, are the thoughts, are the sensations, are the useless hopes . . . Hope is like a sunflower which turns aimlessly toward the sun.  But it is not ‘aimless.'”
— Clarice Lispector,  The Streams of Life

Buckets of sunflowers, Pike Place Market

Buckets of sunflowers, Pike Place Market




To Be Worthy of the World

August 29, 2014

“I’m thinking it’s a paltry sense of wonder that requires something new every day.  I confess: Wonder is easy when you travel to desert islands in search of experiences you have never imagined, in search of something you have never seen before, in search of wonder, the shock of surprise.  It’s easy, and maybe it’s cheap.  It’s not what the world asks of us.

To be worthy of the astonishing world, a sense of wonder will be a way of life, in every place and time: to listen in the dark of every night, to praise the mystery of every returning day, to be astonished again and again, to be grateful with an intensity that cannot be distinguished from joy.”
— Kathleen Dean Moore, Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature

Fig leaves

Fig leaves



Making a watercolor sketch of a fig leaf

Making a watercolor sketch of a fig leaf

Watercolor sketch of fig leaf

Watercolor sketch of fig leaf





Last week one of the bloggers I follow, Linda at The Task at Hand, wrote an entertaining piece about spelling correctly in this age of spell-check.  Linda is one of the most adroit wordsmiths I’ve encountered, but she writes about unknowingly misspelling detritus (which she spelled as detrius) for years.  We’ve all been there.  The English language is fraught with trip wires just waiting to slip us up.

The comments on that post are as interesting and delightful as Linda’s post, and there Linda reveals one of her victories championing language — she convinced the manager of her local grocery store to change the signs on its express lanes from “15 Items or Less” to “15 Items or Fewer.”

Well, that reminded me of Garrison Keillor’s story about English Majors.  Keillor, a fellow English major, first broadcast this piece on his radio show, A Prairie Home Companion.  I’ve copied the script here for your convenience and pleasure:

Garrison Keillor: …after a word from the Partnership of English Majors…


Tim Russell: Can I help the next person in line?

GK: I don’t know-CAN you?

TR: What are you talking about, sir?

GK: Just that “can” means “able to” — Are you ABLE to help the next person in line? Only you would know. What you meant to say was, “MAY I help you” — may I be permitted to help you?

TR: Whatever. Anyway, this is the 10 items or less line.

GK: Actually, it’s the 10 items or FEWER line. “Fewer” refers to number and “less” refers to amount. You’d say, “I ate less spaghetti than she did,” but you’d say “I have fewer than ten items in my grocery cart.”

TR: I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t even like spaghetti. — hopefully you have less than ten items in your cart, or otherwise MAY I tell you to get your ass over to the other line—

Sue Scott: I wish people wouldn’t misuse the word “hopefully,” —

GK: Oh, hi.

SS: Hi. You must be an English major too.

GK:: You?

SS: Yes, of course.

TR: Look— I’ve got people waiting in line—

SS: Are you a writer too?

GK: I try.

SS: (GASP) Be still, my beating heart. I write memoirs.

GK: I do, too.

SS: How fortuitous. What a small wonderful world.

TR: Cash or charge, sir?

GK: I admire you sticking up for correct usage, especially of the adverb “hopefully” — it’s a battle I gave up long ago—

SS: You did?

GK: Sadly, yes. The language evolves and I’m afraid we must accept it.

SS: Frankly, I wish I could, but something bridles within me at the sound of it.

TR: Folks — could we move it or park it?

GK: I admire you purists but I’m afraid I’ve moved on.

SS: Perhaps we ought to talk — you and I —

GK: I’d love that—

TR: Paper or plastic?

SS: Might you have time now?

GK: Of course. Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.

SS: Thoreau. Walden.

GK: Very good.

TR: People? Please—

SS: One of my favorite books when I was growing up.

GK: One of mine too. What are you reading now?

SS: Now?

GK: I mean, what are you reading these days?

SS: I’ve gone back to Dickens. “Little Dorrit”.

GK: Lovely. I never read that—

SS: Everything Dickens wrote is so rich, so utterly teeming with life— populated by feeling and color and tension—

TR (ON P.A.): Security to Cash Register 4, please. Security—

GK: In a world of casual violence to our language, when you do meet a fellow lover of English, why not take time to get acquainted? The Partnership of English Majors.

SS: We’re different from others, so it behooves us to stick together.

Tasting August

August 27, 2014

“I snapped them off where they hung in slender twosomes, bit into one, and tasted nothing but August, distilled into pure, crisp beaniness.”
—  Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

Painting green beans

Painting green beans

Watercolor sketch of green beans

Watercolor sketch of green beans

“The shape of a bean is a lovely thing to see.  When very young, it curves like a small scimitar, later it lengthens to a lance size.  And the color is beautiful, the golden wax has a glimmering tone and the green is a rich blue-green like an agate.”
— Gladys Tabor, Stillmeadow Daybook

Eat your vegetables!

“Every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul.”
— W. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up

My tubes of watercolor paints and brushes

My tubes of watercolor paints and brushes

A couple of my watercolor sketches in frames

A couple of my watercolor sketches in frames

“The question of what art is for has far too long been needlessly treated as obscure: it is to help us live and die.”
— Alain de Botton

After telling the story of my life in 10 objects, I realized that this mini-series was missing something important to me — an aspirational object, my watercolor paints, brushes and supplies.  These are the objects I hope to grow into.  I am prepared to spend hours with my brush in hand, palette at my side, paper in front of me — to play and practice and experiment.

Drawing and painting are more skills to help me slow down, pay attention, create beauty, play, and express myself.  So they are a natural extension of my other interests.  I aspire to become a better artist.

So now that I am truly finished with the story of my life in 10 objects, I invite you to share your stories — your 10 objects — in the comments.  I’m so curious about what your chosen objects will say about you.



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