Sunday, May 30, 2010

French Quarter Photos

These are a few photos around the French Quarter in New Orleans. I stayed in a hotel just steps away from this area, which is called Jackson Square. Street artists would setup around the perimeter of the fence, as well as palm and Tarot readers.

You can't miss the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis King of France, which overlooks Jackson Square. It is the oldest operating Catholic Cathedral in the United States. It was beautiful inside, but I did not take any photos, as mass was in session.

I loved seeing the horse carriages. The horses looked content. I smiled at them when I walked by. I didn't get a chance to ride in one, but you could take a tour around the French Quarter and the driver would tell you a little history about the different spots. I did get some history in at a couple of other tours. Walking was the best way to get around. Not very car friendly within the quarter, since the streets are so narrow.

Right across the street is the famous Cafe Du Monde. I did have a coffee and an order of Beignets. Delicious! And there are stairs that take you around and across the train tracks to the Moon Walk, which is situated right on the Mississippi River. I plopped myself on a bench and enjoyed the relaxed feeling of not having to be anywhere in particular.

Sunset. This is the left side of Jackson Square facing the Cathedral. You can see the little side streets. In fact, if we keep walking straight, we'll bump right into the infamous Bourbon Street.

This is Royal Street. It was the street I preferred to walk down when I needed to get to some other intersecting street. It's lined with antique shops, arts stores, restaurants, coffee shops, more street artists. Lots to look at.

There were several different street performers scattered around. This one caught my attention because she looked so calm and poised. Can you imagine being in this position for any length of time? I don't know how long before she would move to another location. She made it look so natural to be there.

On my first night, after dinner and a cocktail, I decided to go to Preservation Hall to listen to some music. It's a small hall with performances from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. every hour with an intermission in between. They don't serve alcohol or food. Just music. There are a few seats up front and to the sides and everyone else stands like matchsticks. I loved it. The bass player must have been in his seventies. All the musicians sounded great. Preservation Hall was created to protect and share Old New Orleans style Jazz.

You'll notice that when you walk down Bourbon Street, there are many variations of Jazz and Blues playing, including some rock. It's interesting to be surrounded by so much music and be able to listen and look in from the outside before deciding to go inside to sit down.

So that's a little taste of my first trip to New Orleans in the French Quarter.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

St. Patrick’s Day Memory

My older brother, one of my guardians growing up, seemed to have a preoccupation with perfection. I suppose that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it became annoying at times.

It was St. Patrick’s Day—junior high school, seventh grade. I enjoyed home economics and shop classes the best. I had my clothes all picked out for this festive day. I pulled on my taffy green stretch pants and wore a white and green candy stripe shirt to match. I was a green candy cane. I felt in the spirit of the day, as I ventured off to school.

After lunch, I head for metal shop to put the finishing touches on a small garden shovel that I made. I tap the circular handle into place so it’s good and tight. I set down the mallet and try to pull the shovel from the wooden work table. It’s stuck. When it will not dislodge, I take both of my hands and pull hard. The next thing I know, I’m feeling a sting near my eye. As I steady myself, I see that blood is beginning to drip down. I calmly walk up to the teacher and wait until he’s done with his conversation, but he takes notice of me out of the corner of his eye. He throws his hands up and says, “What happened?!”

“I’m bleeding. I couldn’t get my shovel out…”

He cuts me off. Asks if I’m ok. He immediately sends another student with me to go down to the nurse’s office. I keep looking down at the red that is mucking up my carefully chosen St. Patrick’s Day outfit, and now I will probably have to go home.

The nurse hands me a tissue. Next thing I remember is my brother has arrived to retrieve me. “Let me see,” he says. “Ah, man! Your gonna have a scar.” He may have asked if I was ok, how was I feeling, but those are the words I remember. All I heard was a reinforcement of his perfectionist ways and preoccupation with a clear surface—perfection taken too far. “We’ll need to stitch it up, but it’s not that bad,” he says.

“I don’t want stitches and no doctor. Can’t you just put a band aid on it?” I say.

He thanks the nurse and takes me home. The car ride home is quiet. I look out the window at the passing trees. I keep my tissue on the cut or did they tape some gauze on? That part is a blur. We deal with it. When we arrive home, my brother butterflies the cut closed with medical tape. If he is saying anything more about the cut, I’ve tuned out. We apply Vitamin E oil to help with scarring during the healing process.

I still have the scar. It’s not visually noticeable to someone else really, unless you look for it. But when I look at it, I feel lucky because it was so close to my eye and it could have been much worse. When the weather heats up, sometimes the scar becomes sensitive, and I can feel it—just a reminder of St. Patrick’s Day; my brother and his funny ways—lucky that he took care of me and loves me; how I don’t like going to doctors, even today—and how I like to handle things my way. It feels as though the spirit is still there, of a girl dressed in green—of a girl who handled the situation pretty well considering—and feels very lucky that on that day, her aim was off a little.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Love is two dolphins entwined, held securely in place by their tailfins, bodies enveloped in sun rays, around the stem of a lotus blossom, one growing into the other. Water flows from the top of the blossom, from the mouths of the dolphins, into and out of the two golden chalices below. We are surrounded in a Neapolitan backdrop of angel blue sky into yellow sun into blue green water, reflected back into the sky—above and below. Love. Balance.


Inspired from pulling and viewing the 2 of Cups – Love
-Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck painted by Lady Frieda Harris


I must say I was quite pleased to see this card. I haven’t pulled it in some time. I immediately felt gladness and wanted to share.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

New Orleans Sunshine

Already miss the warm wrap of the humid heat, and the mighty Mississippi, miss the sound of the horns, the trot-trot of the horse and buggy carriage escorting the tourists through the quarter, the smell of gumbo cooking, freshly washed streets of the morning. Short stay, yet managed to walk many blocks, getting pleasantly lost and sidetracked and backtracked.

And yet, all of it feels sealed inside, still absorbing it into my veins, yet I feel like a little part of me was at home there, still there. Felt like a local, even with my backpack slung over shoulders. What a pleasure, though, that two locals did in fact take me for one of them. One in particular, that was most friendly…we had a few chuckles, as we saw tourists walk into the tiny bar mid-day. He made a comment about their backpacks, and carrying their cameras in hand, taking pictures right away—it was a good sign of a tourist. I laughed and said, I have my backpack too, but its under my feet, camera’s in there too. But now that they’re taking pictures, I may as well take some too. He laughed. “Don’t forget to get that sign over there,” he said. “Everyone likes to get a picture of that.”

“Hey look at that guy over there. He’s taking a picture of his food,” he said. And this isn’t a fancy bar mind you. He wasn’t being mean in the least, but it was great to be in on his observations and story, and we had many good laughs.

I looked familiar to him. “You have a twin over here,” he said. I smiled. I was about done with my beer. He wanted the next one to be on him. I was in the process of saying no, only because I can be a lightweight, but then I thought, what the heck, I can’t close the door on generosity and kindness. I had my share of gumbos, so I had a platter of potato skins in my system to absorb another light beer.

I felt like I was in a New Orleans equivalent of Cheers. Everyone knew everyone. He shared the ins and outs of some of the other locals that sat nearby, who had left, about his family, etc. I asked him about the resiliency of the people here. He said that, “Sure when his mother lost her home to Katrina they were feeling it. She lost literally everything, but he like some others, said, “You gotta move on.” It was one of the highlights of my trip, Just being a local for a while.


A side note/prayer: I pray that they get the oil spill contained—under control. Even though these folks seem to bounce back, this is too huge. It effects so many living creatures, people, etc. I send prayers out from my little world. At this point, it feels as though it’s going to take a miracle to bring this spill under control.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Inspiration: Sharing Faces

First Painting: Aboriginal Spirit 1999

I have been inspired by Vincent and Keiko's response to "Marigold," as well as Vincent's mention of the artist, David Hockney. After first browsing the web, I felt that I needed to see more, learn more. I liked what I was seeing. The following day, I checked the library system, found a good selection, and went to check out, Hockney's Pictrues: The Definitive Retrospective: Compiled with Commentary by David Hockney. As I read Hockney’s introduction entitled, "Introduction: Loving the world with new eyes," I felt excited.

As I flip through the pages of his body of work reading the short insightful bursts of commentary , I feel as though I am seeing for the first time. I’m looking closer at how he achieves what I see on the page, and realize that everyday is an opportunity to view the world this way, to look and search for a different angle, a different twist. And depicted either through word or picture images, the one influences the other.

The way Hockney experimented with many different mediums, and his study of space, water, and movement amaze me. Also, I appreciate how he brings cubism to a different level with his paintings and his photo collages. It provides a new lens for me. His use of color makes me want to jump into many of his paintings and stay there awhile. Interestingly, I am enjoying his still life and abstract paintings much more than his work portraying people. Usually a piece of art or photo can be more interesting when there is a person involved, but I don't particularly care for his people. I find that odd because for example, I love Van Gogh's people. He is one of my most favorite artists. However, I am a little over half-way through the images. I wanted to take a pause to reflect, so I may go back and have a different experience.

Viewing Hockney's images, especially the ones filled with color, bring to the forefront a few of the faces that I painted many years ago. The colors feel in symmetry with his in some ways. I am also feeling ready to start experimenting again with the different mediums. Oh, how I love finding inspiration everywhere! Here, there, nowhere, right now…


This first painting above was born in 1999. It was done from my mind. I remember the ironing board was setup between the kitchen and the living room. I had my new paints laid out and my little canvas placed atop some newspapers. I started with the background color and then without sketching, took paint straight to canvas and just began my face. There was a time that I was interested in faces and even self-portraits; again, Van Gogh’s work being a great inspiration in the use of color and texture. It didn’t have a title until I decided to share it about a year ago when it received its name: First Painting: Aboriginal Spirit 1999.

A few more faces...



July 2000

In Mourning ~ November 2001

July 2000

This last painting is one of my favorites because when I look at it, it makes me happy. I remember that I was lost in the painting, again no set direction. Jazz fusion music was playing in the background and I was sitting on the floor with this one. I don’t usually use an easel to paint. When I first shared this on another blog in September of 2009, looking again at the painting inspired this poem and so he got his name:

Jeremiah Clancey Jones

Where did he come from? A name dropped into
consciousness upon reflection of that
blue canvas, welcome eyes: Jeremiah Clancey Jones.
Out of somewhere he came.

Contemplating the painting,
Finished, yet unfinished like the rest,
hovered above
the canvas
on the floor, brush in hand,
listening to fusion jazz .
high intensity,
rat-tat-tat to the canvas,
a friendly face appears,
and until today he had no name.


After reposting these images, I realize that they tell a history that even I cannot fully grasp. They were done at a time when I was who I am today, yet I was also still evolving, am still evolving until death do us part; and I hope that doesn’t come across inflated in anyway. It’s just such an indescribable feeling to be able to view oneself in retrospect and to know that you were what you were then, and you are what you are now, and that life continues to bounce, to flourish, in ways that come more to life with the sharing. Thank you to all of you for your continued inspiration through your blogs and sharing of your lives, your oceans!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

River of Peace

Two swords cross
through the center of
a lotus blossom
Four cranes, paper pinwheels
Moon in Libra
Soft green light flows
the color of peacock feathers
mixed with white, fading up
into soft yellow sunshine

Two angels suspended from the edges
of the sword’s handles.
Two smaller swords,
one at top, one at bottom,
both pointing upward. At the tip
of the top, the moon sits—a sliver.
At bottom, the scales of Libra,
a perfect union. Peace.


Inspired from today’s Tarot card: 2 Swords: Peace. I looked deeply at the image, closed my eyes, breathed deeply, opened my eyes, and described how I visually see the card.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Here I stand upon the ship,
in shorts, a blue and white summer top.

White canvas shoes dig into the platform,
hold me up, as my hands hoist down the long
cotton rope with its many knots. I then lower it,
lower it into the deep marigold abyss. The rope snaps,
I topple over in slow motion,
feel the wind wrap around me as I fall. A scream
tries to surface, but only silence.

My body reaches the heaviness of the water, a hard slap
on my whole being, as I plunge down…down.
I fight it. I’m sinking. I panic and then…and then,
just when I feel as though I’ve died, I stop fighting,
give into to the weightlessness and there I stay.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Book: The Geography of Bliss

Last year’s Book Lover’s page-a-day calendar wasn’t too exciting, but this year’s seems to have a lot of intriguing titles. I’ve begun to amass not only piles of physical books to be read, but now I have a pile of calendar pages scattered about. Some may never see themselves into my hands.

One that I recently finished was The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner (2008). I must admit that when I first began the book, the introduction had me, but once I got to chapter one: “The Netherlands: Happiness Is a Number,” I almost stopped reading. Was it out of boredom, was I not relating? I’m not sure. After setting the book aside for a few days, I decided to come back to it again, give it another go. I’m glad I did. Weiner’s style had me laughing through the book and I found that he held my attention and had interesting observations.

The countries he visited and reported on were The Netherlands, Switzerland, Bhutan, Qatar, Iceland, Moldova, Thailand, Great Britain, India, and America. The subtitles to each chapter alone gave me a laugh or a smile. You can purchase or search inside the book at Amazon.

Book: The Geography of Bliss

The chapter that resonated with me most was the one on Iceland where “Happiness is Failure.” It made an impression on me for several reasons:

-The relationship Icelanders have with their language and the joy they get from it;

-Everyone seems to be an artist of some kind;

-Weiner observed that there did not seem to be much envy in Iceland.

-On Failure. In a conversation with an interesting Icelander, Larus had this to say: “Failure doesn’t carry a stigma in Iceland. In fact, in a way, we admire failures” (pg. 163). Of course, Weiner’s reaction was such that anyone would share. What!? And to answer his confusion, Larus, replied, “Let me put it this way. We like people who fail if they fail with the best intentions. Maybe they failed because they weren’t ruthless enough, for instance” (pg. 163). This alone is a great bit of wisdom to reflect upon, for how many times do we find ourselves afraid to do something because of our fear to fail? It’s so valuable to be able to see how other people from different cultures deal with common issues, with being human.

The Geography of Bliss left me with a lot to contemplate, other views to consider. It was insightful and fun to go along for the ride with Weiner on his quest to explore his nagging question.


It’s ironic that I wasn’t in the right “place” when I first started the book and all it took was coming back with a new day’s mindset, finding myself loving the “place(s)” that I then found myself traveling into.


When I’m driving along and bounce from radio station to radio station, I love it when a song makes me start tapping my foot and swaying my body. This song, “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train is that song.



I just saw the movie, City Island, a couple weeks ago. I haven’t laughed this much in a long time. I really like Andy Garcia, and he did an outstanding job, as did the whole cast. Rife with family dysfunction, it isn’t always pretty, but it’s sure to make you laugh, maybe even cry a little.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Ode to Teachers: The Traditional, non-traditional, and everyone in between

When did I learn to fly?

They say that, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I know that’s not true. These words ring in my ears. The words sting, bur into the soul, seep the life out of you. Yes, the words hurt. However, the words can also be turned into kindling, spark a light—to say in turn, “Your words are not true!” No, I am not stupid, Mrs. H. Just because I’m quiet, just because my classmate whom I’m partnered with also doesn’t understand this grammar crap, does not mean we are stupid. Shame on you, Mrs. H, to look me in the eyes, and with the coldest tone ask, “What…are you stupid?” But of course, this is high school—what seems now eons ago. I had other concerns, inner turmoil, and was too timid to stick up for myself.

It didn’t get much better. It was a long slow process. My first junior college course was a disaster. I remember you well, Mrs. M. When we met to discuss my paper during class and you said with a nonchalant air, “I don’t know…This essay—It sounds like you were on something.” I look at you in shock. Am I hearing you right? True that I didn’t follow the assignment exactly. I was exploring myself. I was writing about my experience, my feelings, inspired by my explorations of the Eastern traditions. “Ah…,”you say, “now I understand. My sister’s into that and I can never understand her letters to me. But this is really off topic, and it’s all over the place. It’s a “D” but I gave you a “C.” I suggest you drop the class.

Why didn’t I quit? No one really encouraged me. I don’t know exactly, but I didn’t give up. There were more discouraging words at different times, but I kept on. I knew it wasn’t all their fault. I knew I wasn’t up to par. Grammar was still a chore and I wasn’t writing complete or organized thoughts. I kept enrolling in English courses and studying on my own, determined to succeed. And at the same time, I dropped many courses when I couldn’t handle the anxiety of speaking in class. It made the road that much longer. But I have no regrets.

When I first felt like I was flying, it was in Mr. Gustavson’s English writing development course for folks like me who still needed help with writing college level papers. We kept journals. “Write everything, don’t hold back,” he told us. I wrote every bloody thing down, but this time, I wrote about my days, about the mundane. I didn’t hold back. I surprised myself. I remember one day he was standing up in front of the class reading examples anonymously. I was listening intently and then I heard familiar musings. He’s reading my journal. I felt the heat rise on my face. I was startled to hear my words flow out of his mouth and when he finished he said, “Now does it sound like she’s having trouble getting her words out?” I can’t even describe how good it made me feel to hear myself up there through him, to actually hear something positive instead of the usual unconstructive criticism. It was a small moment and one that I cherish. It felt like I was getting there.

And then I continued flying in Mr. Hurley’s Freshman English class. Looking back, He was one of the biggest inspirations on my road—for the love of language, writing, reading. He was a kind teacher, very passionate about teaching itself and passionate about the students. In addition to the comments he made on our papers, he would attach a little grid of the different elements of the essay and he would put a check mark next to where our writing fell in that grid, and if need be, he’d add a few more comments. I loved this. I could really see where I needed to focus my attention. I was still on my way, making the small climb. I got a “C” in his class, but more important, I felt like I was in a constructive and supportive environment. I even had to interview someone for one of my papers, which was very scary for me at the time. During an exercise where Mr. Hurley had us pick a few quotes that really stood out for us to discuss. This is one from Susan Faludi that has remained with me: “My barracuda blurbs belie my timorous demeanor.” The cadence and potency of these words—they have become a sort of mantra for me.

I began improving steadily and could not get enough English courses. One last fond flight is from a journalism course on writing the feature story. The instructor started us out with reading two articles about teaching and then she wanted us to write a comparison/contrast reaction. She posted all of the student’s responses without names and wanted us to comment on what we liked and didn’t like. There were a few students who left comments under my paper that said, “I’d like to write like this.” I was in utter amazement and felt such joy. I do remember being absorbed in the assignment, being passionate, letting go, and finally editing and cleaning it up best I could. Even though this wasn’t graded and was just a warm up, I still wanted to do my best in my way, and that’s probably what the students reacted to. However, little did we know this was an exercise in how not to write a feature. After all the students had reacted to our essays, the instructor chimed in and said that while most of these essays were fine in their own right, they were not acceptable for feature writing and she proceeded to tell us why. And so the class began. It was a valuable course, and at times I felt like quitting because it was a different style of writing for me, but I relished in the challenge.

There are so many more positive experiences I’ve had since Mrs. H and Mrs. M. that put the hurtful ones into perspective. And quite honestly, if I didn’t have the negative experiences, I don’t know if I would be here today: Appreciative; both humbled and lifted; passionate about language and expressing myself in a way that is sometimes messy and sometimes neat, but always with passion.

No, I did not forget, but I forgive the hurtful words. I’m still flying, though, still trying to figure out exactly why God put me here. I’m still trying to find new ways to come out of my comfort zone, while respecting my introverted nature. I dream of one day inspiring and encouraging on a large scale, which in my world, will be a small scale. I’d like to provide a safe place, to provide a nurturing and supportive environment that allows for self-exploration, builds self-esteem and helps people find the confidence within themselves to keep turning the sometimes hurtful outer and inner words into gold.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Sound of Wings

A weary beginning to the day. Not a too sound night. Asleep with a low lamp on. Woken by the sound of a clickity-buzz and then a soft landing right next to my ear. I quickly sit up, look to find a cricket that managed to miss my head by millimeters. He flew into the pillow beside me and was nestled inside, right at the edge. In swift fashion, I get up to grab my glass and small book. Scoot—in he goes. I set the glass covered with the book on top on the kitchen counter until morning to release him.

I’ve grown accustomed to the sound the spider makes when he sometimes jumps down upon the chest of drawers or some other hard surface. And I’ve grown accustomed to look for him in the crevices he likes to wedge himself into and sometimes when I wake in the night, I look to make sure he’s not above me. I prefer when he’s not above me, prefer when he’s in his corner. This one in particular, is too hard to capture because he stays up high, and when he comes down the wall, he’s quick. Always, if I can, I take spiders outside. One day recently though, he or she was much too large for me to handle and I had to do what I didn’t want to do. I wrote about the experience in my notebook. I still feel traumatized by the whole thing and I suppose it is still filtering out of my system.

I much prefer the sound of a million wings flying through the sky…