Tuesday, October 14, 2014

PechaKucha 20 x 20 x 20

I have wanted to attend one of these events for the longest time! PechaKucha, the closest clue I can give you to the pronunciation is "p'chakcha," said quickly with the "k" barely heard, is an evening of speakers where each speaker has 20 slides and 20 minutes to share a topic. As this was the 20th such presentation in Dayton, this was labeled 20 x 20 x 20 and included a video greeting from the two architects in Japan that founded PechaKucha.

The location changes; this one was at K-12 Gallery and TEHAS' new space. Below are partial views of the art going up on their new building. These photos are just two sections of a mural that is two plus stories high and wraps around two sides of a corner building.  I love driving by, watching these unfolding, and being inspired by the art. Dayton brims with creativity!

"Creative vision" is just right as a reflection of Dayton.

Gorgeous portrait work and perfect symbols.

 The program listed four speakers, then a break for refreshments and discussion, followed by four more speakers. People are passionate about very diverse things. Tonight I learned about hair art, sculpture, being a city planner, drone photography, and one woman's journey from no make-up and dressing casually, to polished professional, to being comfortable with both and knowing that her children find her beautiful both ways. The final speaker was so upbeat and hopeful about life and its possibilities that the crowd kind of floated as they left.

All told, I loved it! PechaKucha is available in many cities. Click here to visit the main site and check for an event near you. If none are close, maybe you can start one!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Chihuly Evolution

I have a history with Dale Chihuly.

It began in Venice, my favorite city in the world. I had expected to dislike Venice. I have a severe mold allergy and imagined that a decaying, canal-laced, island would be no fun for me. I was so wrong. I arrived at sunset and stepped from the water taxi onto a bridge and was smitten with the light, the old buildings tilting into the canals, the romance of the gondolas, and the pealing of the church bells. And the romance! One of my favorite captured moments from that first trip was watching a couple rise from their table on Piazza San Marco, step onto the piazza and begin to waltz to the jazzy tune the small band was playing. They were not a young couple, both fairly tall, and were oblivious to those around them, having eyes only for one another. I promised myself I would return to Venice and I did a few years later. I was taking a sailing cruise around the Adriatic and the cruise embarked from Venice. On the ship I met a man and discovered he collected glass and had just been on Murano, a small island and glass making center near Venice. He shared that he was a collector of glass art made by Dale Chihuly. I was fascinated by his passion and wanted to know more about this artist.

As the universe often provides, upon return to Dayton I discovered that there would soon be an exhibition of Chihuly’s work at my home museum, the Dayton Art Institute. Chihuly himself would give a talk at the show’s opening. This talk is forever embedded in my mind. Chihuly was in a traffic accident and lost the use of one eye. As a consequence, he now does the sketches, paintings actually, for his art and due to his vision problem has artisans create the glass work. He had large scale exhibitions in Ireland, Israel, and… Venice. His slide presentation showed magnificent, chandelier-like pieces hung over the canals. How I wish I could have seen them in place! The most extraordinary part of the lecture was when he read from letters he wrote to his young son while traveling to mount the shows. He was a relatively new father and his young son would not understand the letters even if read aloud to him. But can you imagine how his son would later treasure this documentation as to how much his father loved him and wanted to share his life work with him?

I have one of the Chihuly paintings, a design for one of his Venice pieces. It is wildly free, well representative of the artist’s passionate nature and serves as a reminder for me to live full out, be fully present in each moment.

That exhibit was in 2002. This year the Dayton Art Institute had an exhibit of glass artists prominently featuring Chilhuly. I have followed his work, noted the progression of his designs, and have several books about his art that I enjoy perusing. This time I was able to introduce my son to Chihuly’s glass. He sees the painting every day but had not seen any of the glass. This was his favorite piece.

It was a well-curated show, including the works of many fine glass artists, but for me the Chihuly pieces were the anchor. What bliss to be with my friend and fellow creative Lori, and my much-loved son, in the midst of such glorious art. These experiences feed my soul, inspire my work, and increase my daily gratitude for my beautiful life.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Trust Your Intuition!

I've been learning to be comfortable in my own body and to trust what it tells me. I have always trusted my intuition, honoring those little tugs to do something or act in a certain manner. Yesterday it paid off in a big way.

I spend a great deal of time on my deck. I love having breakfast there, writing in the morning, entertaining friends, tending my plants, taking a hot tub, etc. The deck gets full sun in the afternoon so I don't spend time there then. My late afternoon routine is to watch the 6:30 national news and then Wheel of Fortune with my son and return to the deck after that. Yesterday was hot and humid here. In Dayton that means that it takes a while for the heat to burn off so I might not have gone back on the deck till after dark.

But my impulse, at 6:30 when I am usually watching the news, was to go out on the HOT deck and read. Although it puzzled me, I honored that impulse. It was still muggy and I could hear the air conditioner laboring underneath the deck. As I settled into a chaise lounge, I gradually became aware of an acrid smell, like burning plastic. I jumped up, instantly alert, and ran into the house and turned off the air conditioner. When I went out to check on the unit, the smell had faded and I could see no smoke or scorched areas.

I called Dayton Air Conditioning and got their after hours message to leave a voice mail if it was an emergency and someone would call back. I did and got a call within five minutes. The serviceman explained he could come out right away but it would be more expensive than if I waited until the morning. There was no smell now, the air conditioner was turned off, what to do? Again, that little nudge moved me, a kind of tickle up my spine, and I asked him to come over now.

I am so glad I did. After he pulled open the wall box, he asked me to come and look. The photo above shows the initial damage. The photo below shows the inside of the box. Here is the chilling part, while I had turned off the air conditioner, I had not turned off the circuit to it! The wires were still live. He cut off the circuit, made sure everything was safe, and will be back today to replace the problem elements.

What if I had resisted the pull to go out on the deck? What if I had not decided to have him come over immediately? Instead of a repair bill, I could very easily have been dealing with a house fire and huge damages. So, trust your intuition even if it seems inconvenient or a bit odd. I'm sure glad I did. I am one very grateful woman!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Le Vesinet, France

I had the privilege and the pleasure of living with a French family for four days as part of a Sister City exchange. My group, Oakwood Sister Cities, has the Paris suburb, LeVesinet, as one of its twins. Six of us represented Oakwood at Le Jumelage (twinning) and La Fete de Marguerite celebrations. This year Le Vesinet was marking the twentieth anniversary of their twinning with Wooster, England so there was also a group of about forty English guests including a company of Morris Men dancers.

Le Vesinet is a beautiful, planned city about twenty-five minutes from Paris. The streets and boulevards are tree lined and immaculately clean. The RER (French train system) has two stops in Le Vesinet, La Pecq and Centre Ville. My hosts live quite close to Centre Ville so I could easily walk into the city center for a morning croissant, usually chocolate almond.

In addition to a Friday evening welcoming buffet, there was a luncheon celebrating Le Jumelage on Saturday, and a picnic celebrating La Fete de la Marguerite on Sunday. The Le Vesinet Community Band provided music during the luncheon. The city pays the director and provides rehearsal space and uniforms for the band but the musicians volunteer their time. It was delightful to notice how members had personalized their straw hats with flowers or pins.

On Saturday afternoon we visited Chateaux de Malmaison, Empress Joesphine’s home. Josephine was married to Napoleon Bonaparte who divorced her when she could not bear children with him. Josephine was a woman of many talents and interests. She collected art, had a passion for flowers, especially roses, and animals. She had excellent decorating skills and oversaw the decoration of many of the finest homes in France. She was quite astute politically and entertained often. Our tour guide's  extensive knowledge about Josephine, Napoleon, and Malmaison, and her passion for it made history come alive for us.

The Fete de la Marguerite began with an outdoor mass where dogs were welcome. This little fellow was in the row in front of me. It is common in France to see dogs in restaurants and places of business. I wish this was so in the United States! 

My favorite part of the visit was the time with my hosts, Catherine and Roger. Roger is retired from a business career in technology. Catherine, retired from her position as a librarian, is devoting her time to Le Vesinet as an elected Deputy Mayor. Although both Le Jumelage and La Fete de la Marguerite were her responsibility and she was very busy, she and Roger managed to make me feel completely welcome. They have a beautiful home including a lovely porch that I claimed as my writing spot.

 On Saturday evening, they hosted a barbecue for sixteen of their friends. In addition to beef, lamb, and duck shish kebabs and tabbouleh, Roger prepared an amazing Greek Salad and was kind enough to share his recipe. I do not know if it will taste as good as it did that night given the freshness of the ingredients and that Roger used olive oil from their property in Crete, but I am going to try and make it at home.

As we enjoyed fine champagne, excellent wine, and then seventy-year-old Armagnac, I had the pleasure of talking with their guests and learning about life in France. Although I wanted to practice my new French skills, most had excellent English. One gentleman amazed me with his "nose," identifying each of the facets of the Armagnac. Under his tutelage, I experienced tastes I would otherwise have missed. As I relaxed with my new friends, I could not help but think how fortunate I am to be in France, sharing dinner and drinks, learning new things, and loving life.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Lottie Ann's 1st Birthday

She has the sweetest face!

Lottie Ann came into my life last July just as CJ, my beloved animal companion of 15 years, was leaving. My second Yorkie, Buddy at age 9, welcomed Lottie Ann and taught her about life as a Whelley. Then, in December, Buddy died suddenly from hemangiosarcoma, a blood cancer usually found in large dogs. Buddy always did think he was a big dog. I was heartbroken.

Lottie Ann was the saving grace during all that loss. Now, I am celebrating her first birthday with her and my heart is filled with gratitude. I often say to my friends that I feel sorry for people who do not have the joy of an animal companion. Lottie Ann has a healing way about her. She is still full of puppy energy, moves at the speed of light, and delights in everything. Unlike CJ and Buddy, she loves to play fetch with a rope or one of her squeaky toys and will do so until my arm gives out.

She sleeps with my son. She chases chipmunks. She barks at birds. She loves potato chips. She has the kind of eyes that when you look into them you know she is looking right back. When you talk to her, she understands. She is a great snuggler. If I take a nap on the couch, she curls up on my shoulder. Her fur is black, tan, and silver and is silky soft. One ear stands up and the other flops down. In other words, she's perfect.

Happy 1st Birthday Lottie Ann. Thank you for joining the family and for all the joy you bring!

Lottie, Bren, Buddy

She is NOT this calm.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Friendship Force Bliss

One of the most delicious things about my sixties thus far has been travel. 

Andean woman in traditional garb. The goats were only a week old.

Last November I visited Peru with the Dayton Friendship Force. Friendship Force International was founded in 1977 by Warren Smith and Jimmy Carter. Its mission is: To promote global understanding across the barriers that separate people. Travel with Friendship Force includes a home stay in addition to touring places of interest. Chapters have outbound experiences, like my trip to Peru, and inbound experiences, where the chapter hosts both domestic and international groups.

The Dayton chapter recently hosted fourteen visitors from New Zealand. I was fortunate to be able to have several of those visitors and their Dayton families over for a cook out on my deck. People who belong to FF are citizens of the world. They love travel, meeting people, trying new things, and are very curious and friendly.

As I sat and listened to travel stories being shared, I was astounded by the number and variety of places these folks had been. One woman shared that she had just returned from Russia after having visited there in 1994. It was fascinating to hear how things have changed and how they have remained exactly the same. You experience a country differently from the living room of a new friend than you do as a business traveler or tourist.

I am traveling with my son to Puerto Rico for a basketball tournament in November. Several folks had been there recently and suggested we schedule an outing with a boat company that will take us out to where the waters are luminescent. And, I got a follow up email the next day with reservation information. I have always wanted to experience this and also have a desire to see the Northern Lights. I gathered plenty of suggestions about that as well, including both the best time of year and the best vantage points. If you want insider travel tips, talk to FF travelers!

By the end of the evening my heart was full. I had some new friends, some travel inspiration, and felt so very fortunate to be able to revel in it all. Life is good.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Cozy Awakening

Sensuous moments come at unexpected times. I love high-count Egyptian cotton sheets. The more you wash them, the softer they get. I had pulled the sheets off my bed, took them to the laundry room and then forgot about them until it was time to go to sleep. So I pulled these flannel sheets from the linen closet and decided to make do.

Well... Ohio has unpredictable weather and during the night the temperature took a dip. I had left one window open and by morning the bedroom was downright chilly. Having these flannel sheets and the furry warmth of the coverlet was divine. I reveled in this cozy nest.

I love the pace of my life now. I usually wake up when I have had enough sleep as opposed to when an alarm sounds. Today's waking was to bird song, warm sheets and covers, and gratitude for the sensuous life I live.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Full Bloom

These spectacular tulips greeted me at the corner of Riverside Drive and Monument Avenue at Riverscape Metro Park in Dayton, Ohio. I was stopped in my tracks by their gorgeous full blown beauty.

Our culture is obsessed with peak beauty, youthful beauty. We hear the phrase "past its peak," the implication being that the most beautiful moment has passed. 

But is that true? Take a closer look.

More is visible when the tulips are fully open. We can see and appreciate what's inside.

What if we begin to look at one another that way? Recognize that a mature woman allows us to see beyond the perfection of youth. There are few things more attractive than a woman fully present in her body, fully aware of her power and creativity.

Let's go forward today and look for those women. When you see one, share that smile, that look, that glance, that says I see you and you are gorgeously in full bloom.