Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day in Arcola, Illinois

Arcola, Illinois is south of Champaign, Illinois in the middle of corn and soybean country.  My friend Carol grew up in this area (in Decatur nearby) and had grandparents and other family members in Arcola.  With a population of about 3,000, everyone knows everyone.  She her hubby have purchased the little home you see below for their summer stays but still winter in Florida.  And she still owns farm land which she rents out to local farmers.  We drove around to see her many acres just beginning to sprout up.  

We attended the town's Memorial Day ceremony at 10 am this morning.  It felt so much like the one I attended many times in little Williams Bay when my kids were growing up!  Although this was held at the cemetery.  The national anthem sounded sweet sung by a local high school senior and presentations, prayers and a short patriotic speech by a local judge.  The ceremony ended with taps and I was reminded that I was spending a lot of time in cemeteries on this trip north!  

Arcola is also the home of a large Amish community so you meet buggies on the road and we stopped to buy strawberries from an Amish family in the afternoon on our way to eat a hearty buffet lunch at an Amish restaurant.

Arcola is somewhat famous for the Lawn Rangers, a "precision lawn mower drill team" that marches in formation with brooms and lawn mowers while wearing cowboy hats. Every year since 1980, the Lawn Rangers have marched in the Arcola Broom Corn Festival Parade. The event, held the weekend after Labor Day, honors Arcola's position in the late 19th century as a center of broom corn production. The Lawn Rangers were so named because the Grand Marshal of the Parade in 1980 was Clayton Moore, famous as the Lone Ranger, and they were named in his honor. This unique custom was publicized by humor columnist Dave Barry, who marched with the Lawn Rangers in 1995.
Arcola was the birthplace in 1880 of John Barton Gruelle, or "Johnny" Gruelle, who is famous for creating Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy, the loveable American dolls and storybook characters. Gruelle used artistic skills learned from his painter father Richard Buckner Gruelle combined with his self-taught writing skills to create stories expressing regional values and aesthetic images. His artistic granddaughter, Joni Gruelle Wannamaker, manages the Raggedy Ann Museum in Arcola.

I loved driving around the residential area of the  little town with huge shady oaks and amazing old 2 and 3 story Victorian homes.  
But typically if you just keep to the highways this is what you would see of Arcola...just a lot of grain elevators.

It was a very lovely day and around 3 we headed off to Woodstock, Illinois for the night.  

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Memorial Day Thoughts

A VERY quick little sketch from our morning at Andersonville National Historic Site and Cemetery and Prisoner of War Museum.

It is very hard to put into words the feeling you have in your heart when you see the Boy Scouts of the Andersonville, GA area there in uniform putting out 13,800 flags on the graves of those who died here in extremely sad conditions.  Also there other graves here of soldiers who wish to buried here from other is now 20,000 graves!   

I was totally impressed that many states have donated monuments  to the men who died here. And Wisconsin's is one of the most impressive including the words "Let Us Have Peace".  Amen.

On that same afternoon in Manchester, GA we had a picnic lunch and watched trains!  Trains is something Greg adores and we always try to do something around trains on our trips!  
A unique train spotting location has been built near where many trains come by.  It seems like trains are all around us on this trip.  

We are currently in Arcola, Illinois visiting friends.
And as soon as we settled into the room (Greg to watch the Indy 500) and me to post on my blog...what did we hear but a train go by?

More on the visit to Arcola in another post.
Hope you have a good Memorial Day Weekend.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Georgia On My Mind

Georgia On My Mind...the above is a pecan orchard...miles and miles of them here in GA.  Lovely dark green this time of year.  We know we are still in the south...a few Confederate Flags are still flown here at private residences...usually under an American flag. They have been in the news a lot recently so suddenly I am noticing them more.   

We left our lovely warm palm-filled Florida this morning headed in a meandering fashion toward a graduation in Illinois next Friday and then on June 4 headed all the way to top of Wisconsin (well almost) to spend the remainder of the summer.  So our trails will head into Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and Illinois on the way. 

We are watching the weather forecasts and hoping to avoid some of the severe weather we see rolling around the midwest again.

We are in Cordele, GA tonight and Greg is so happy we can now and then hear a train going by...something that makes him smile. 
I find they have a sort of sweet, sad sound.   

Have a good weekend everyone.  Hope to get some sketching done tomorrow.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Happy Memorial Day Weekend's about time, right?  The car is packed to the hilt! And we'll be off tomorrow and hope for sunny days on our 9 day trip toward Wisconsin and the graduation of our dear granddaughter, Abby on June 2.   

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tangling an Avocado?

The Diva Challenge for THIS week is to find a photo image and somehow include it in your tile.  This is 3.5 x 3.5 ordinary tile.  

I am honoring the lovely avocado today.  
Why not?
Used Slab, Rain, Printemps, Paradox and Diva Dance. 
Happy Tuesday.

Going Bananas Again

The Diva's challenge last week was "Stripes".
I had a sort of weird time with that prompt.  
I love stripes but my mind wouldn't settle down.  The two examples sort of make that clear...sort of fractured.  

The fact is that we are almost ready to leave FL for the summer season up in the north woods of WI and I am in that weird packing frame of mind where I am not here and not there.  

Most everything that makes me comfortable and happy has been packed up and I can't get at most of it at this point.  Stuff is stacked and packed all over and it makes me edgy and off centered.  My studio is for all purposes now unusable.  

We'll pack the car on Thursday afternoon.  And so I really only have two days to make sure I am not forgetting something that I cannot do without for 5 months!  This rattles my brain even though I have good packing lists and have been doing this for like 10 years!!!  

It's the same every spring and fall as we move back and forth.
Craziness sets in during the last few days.  Thank heavens for Zentangle® as I keep a little kit with my supplies handy when we travel.  It's such a portable art form and it really helps me from GOING BANANAS!  😜

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Count Down

6 days and counting...if you follow my blog you know I go through the countdown twice a year.  Spring and fall.  Lots of retirees do this...I just whine more.

I've gridded up a journal page (8.5 x 11) to help me get some order into the chaos I'm in and will for 6 more days.  Then watch the blog...I shall try to keep you up to date when I can.  

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Dingbatz Anyone?

In typography, a "dingbat" is known as a printer's ornament or printer's character.  It is used as a spacer or decorative touch in typesetting.  You've seen them...they come at the beginning of a new chapter, or in a space left at the end of a page, or sometimes actually includes an illuminated letter or a number.  

In Microsoft Word you can find Zaph Dingbats in the font list.
In Apple's Pages you find them under "Symbols".  

Here are seven DINGBATZ (note spelling is changed) that means these are Zentangle® versions of a printer's ornamentation.  Some are  bits of actual tangles, a mono tangle, or tangles with pieces of other tangles also attached.  Up to the artist to design.

I got to thinking about saving these in a little envelope with my memoir notes. They might be fun to add someday.  

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A is for Abby

This tangled letter A is done on butcher's paper or package mailing paper...brown.  It's about 10" high.  Done with a fine Sharpie pen, soft graphite, and white charcoal.

I did it to make wrapping paper for my granddaughter Abby's high school graduation present.  Darn it took me several hours to complete.  I got caught up in the fun of it. I and I know when you choose a lot of "fill" that this extends the finish time!  

 I will instruct her NOT to rip into this package!!!  I think it might be worth framing!  I'll give it a light spray of clear acrylic varnish to help hold the white charcoal in place.  

On another note...we are NINE days and counting.
This is until we pull out the driveway here in FL to head for WI.  
We'll be another nine days on the road visiting place and friends.  Attending Abby's graduation at West Chicago high school and then heading north.  Pull in date is Sunday afternoon June 4.   

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Ordinary made Extra-ordinary just by recording them

"Threading through, in fact floating on top of all this matter, like sea ducks among icebergs, are moments of the ordinary-made-extraordinary by the simple act of choosing and isolating them....I think the journal itself has taught me to revere the ordinary. [ ] Looking back I can always tell by the drawings which moments had taken on that restful luminosity.[  ] As a result I have much more time to notice with's in front of me, and illuminate it with affectionate attention.  [ ] Drawing seems to provide an extra measure of engagement.  Especially the kind of drawing that pulls. you out of yourself, and even off the page, into contemplation of something outside you." Hannah Hinchman

Here I have 10 minutes making the boxed 
Salted Carmel Chocolate Brownies.

And waiting for them to bake the 33 minutes.  If you know where your sketchbook is and things are "available" which is the key...then even these little moments take on a precious "extra-ordinary" quality.  Greg comes in from the model train room to lick the bowl. 

Outside the warm summery Florida afternoon unfolds into the long shadows of pre-dusk.  A familiar duck waddles by to eat at Eunice's oak tree where she throws the corn.  The flag waves listlessly.  Spanish moss sways gently from the lower branches of our pine.  

So this ordinary moment become somehow a little more important rather than just slip sliding away.  

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Twinkie Cupcakes

A special treat today from neighbor Barb...WOW.  Twinkie Cupcakes.  And they were really BETTER than Twinkies!  Oh yum.  Thanks Barb!!!

A Shady Spot


Lone Oak Cemetery in Leesburg, FL last Thursday.


Such a quiet day...

Journaling As a Way of Examining Life

I own quite a few books on journaling, how to journal, what to journal, and inspiration for a journal, journaling techniques...etc.  It used to be be hard to find books about journaling (although it is quite an ancient thing) but now they abound and you have to pick and choose more carefully.  My all-time favorite (which I often quote) is Gwen Diehn's The Complete Decorated Journal.  

But here comes another favorite to share.  A "new" favorite so to speak.  My friend, Autumn, gifted me with this book just this week and so I am into only a few chapters but am in love already.  A Trail Through the Leaves: The Journal as a Path to Place by Hannah Hinchman.  You can get inexpensive used copies on Amazon but I think it's out of print now so you would want to do this fairly soon.

 Same with her first book below. (sorry about the fuzzy photo).  I was able to find A Life in Hand: Creating an Illuminated Journal on Kindle as a download.  Danny Gregory recommended this one quite a long time ago, it seems, and he says he read it until the pages fell out of the binding.  

Neither of these books are new of course...1991 and 1997 I think.  So you have to hunt to find them. But what a joy they are with lots of great ideas about how to make journaling and the writing that "can" go with them new and meaningful.  Hannah really focuses on writing more than some authors do.  And with me starting my memoir this summer it is just too perfect!  Sharon Feathers would call it a "Godwink".  

A lot of this serendipity about journaling came together this week just shortly after Lee and Susan and I did the sketch morning at the old cemetery on Thursday (see former blog post).  A journaling group gathered Friday morning to share their ideas.  Lee's journals (two samples below) are inspirational.  He must have had 50 of them there to see and enjoy.  And Susan brought a lot of her journals (maybe another 50!) and some of the rest of us had two or three to share.  

Idea:  Lee says if you use a spiral bound journal and you want to have the title and year of the journal visible on your book shelf...make a light cardboard book jacket and score it and fold it so that there is an binding edge facing outward that covers the spiral and gives the information.  WHAT a good idea!!!  

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Lone Oak Cemetery: a parallel world

Do you sometimes feel, as I often do, there are are several places that exist at the same time?  A parallel world?  I suppose we are getting into quantum physics now.  

What actually happens is that I sometimes turn a corner, step inside a small cafe, or visit a place outside my previous experiences and   suddenly it is as if you have "stepped outside" time.  The atmosphere, the sounds, the speed with which things happen at that new moment thrust you into another dimension for a brief time.

Today's visit to sketch in the oldest cemetery in Leesburg, FL was a little like that.  One minute you are busy planning or working or making lists and then you get in your car, turn a few corners, and suddenly step back in time.  Here nothing is moving except the lawn mower.  Birds are singing their heads off, and old grave stones reach toward the horizon tipping sometimes wildly as they have survived the centuries.  Confederate flags stand guard at some graves (this is the south after all) and stone angels and ancient dates draw you away from the reality of today into another time.  

Lee and Susan and I spread out to sketch so the quietness forms an envelope that lowers my heart rate.  The 88 degree morning makes the air seem thick like you are looking through old glass.  The water trickles slowly from this ancient fountain (in which gold fish swim) and beside me is a bench engraved Johnne Lee and Diane Marie "Two less lonely people in the world".  

At the far side in the oldest section of the cemetery is a marker George Alfred Widdas 1854 to 1920. Buried by Annie Oakley. Gunsmith to Bill Cody and Annie Oakley.  It's like a Time Machine.  


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Shoot for the Moon: Another graduation!

    I designed this plaque for my granddaughter (rather than a card).  It is on a wood backing about 8" x 10" and when I am sure all the glue and ink is dry I'll cover it with a coating of gloss varnish and gel medium. The colored paper is a mono print done with a gelli plate.  The quote is by Les Brown and I will give him credit on the back. And I will glue the invitation shown below on the back as well.  
     She will graduate from high school on June 2 in Chicago. Then head off to Coe College in Iowa in the fall to study nursing. I have 12 grandkids (only 3 are girls) and they are all three amazingly smart and amazingly beautiful!  Lucky us.  

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Under Construction

There is a large bit on the bottom of this 9 x 9 that is not yet done.  I like to have something "under construction" that I can go over and add a "bit" too when I am in the mood.  I tried to scan this in so that some of the shading would be visible.  That is the hardest thing to catch on a scan.  The inspiration was Marie and Rick's new tangle called "Spoken".   

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Happy Birthday Diva Challenge

The Diva's challenge this week is to use the tangle "Scallamp". It is done on black 5 x 4 card stock and surrounded by Zinc White Gouache. Done in both oil based paint pen and Sakura's Moonglow pens.  This is the inside of my grandson's birthday card.  The words and greetings will go opposite this. 

The cover of the card was done with a stencil...I used molding paste  pushed through the stars with a palette knife and then coated with gold embossing powder and then heated up until the powder melted.  So the stars have some texture and stand out a bit.  

Ben will be 19 next week and is a freshman at U of Wisconsin at Superior.  

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Yucca

Our Yucca Plant is blooming for the first time!  We were quite excited.  I did a 20 minute sketch sitting out on the patio this afternoon...just a little quick one with my 5" x 8" Moleskin and my Pilot BeGreen Precise V5 pen.  Our swing is now called "Marie's Corner South" since my daughter-in-law fell in love with the spot last month during a visit.  Great little shady spot.  (Hubby puts all his lawn ornaments out there include little ceramic frog.). Was about 90 here today. Looks like about the same tomorrow...hoping for rain.  


"It would be nice if this greater awareness of life was a sign of maturity and greater spirituality. The truth is, though, I think I have a greater awareness of every celebration with friends, every Easter, every glorious sunrise means there will be fewer of them.  The stupidity of youth, at least my youth, is that you live life like it will simply go on and on.  It won't, and knowing that is an amazing gift."  Michael Piazza*

You will note that under my blog's title there is a reminder that the soul exists entirely out of "attentiveness".  I truly truly believe that. And it is what Michael is referring to as well.  

This week my friend Sharon Feathers (a former blog-featured artist) sent me the name of a book she likes (and apparently Oprah likes it too).  It is called When God Winks at You by Squire Rushnell.  Written in 2006, it calls you to pay attention (again) in another way by watching for those serendipity moments, those coincidences and chance encounters as they CAN be a "GodWink" a word the author coined aptly to call us to rapt attention.  RAPT attention.  Because we are often missing out like Rev Michael above was when he was a child.  Like most of us do as kids because we haven't got it figured out yet.  

So I became conscious that there were indeed Godwinks taking place in my life this week. A luncheon out with an old friend called me to make good on my on my formerly fuzzy plan to do a "memoir" SOME day.  Things fell together as the days went on to make it quite plain that the "some" day has now arrived.  Little things began to hubby found an old envelope of clippings and photos of my parents early life that I had thought were lost, a poem showed up that I suddenly realized was the opening for my memoir, my sister began writing of childhood memories to help me fill in some gaps AND my eldest daughter read the prologue and immediately sent me scan of a memento that brought back precious moments in my childhood.

Lots of little Godwinks...and perhaps the writing of the memoir itself is a Godwink?  (While I am writing this the song "When You Wish Upon a Star" just starting playing on Pandora!"  How many hints to I have to get?  

*Rev Piazza is senior pastor of Virginia-Highland Church in Atlanta, GA.   

Memories from AA Milne and a reminder that he was 
a delightful pen and ink artist!

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Finishing Touches



I had a chit chat with Margaret Bremner on this one.  She made some good suggestions and I thought of a few more.  Even hubby got in on the act (he wanted the border).  The second piece was photographed in better light too. There is indeed a blue tint to the paper but not quite as dark as that first one makes it look.

So I added a border...I added the tangle called "Rain" at the top and right side weaving itself under the blue frame and I added dark bands around the blue frame to give it depth.  

I am MUCH happier with the result.  Sometimes you have to let a piece sit awhile before you know what to do. 

I am considering framing this one.  Floating it on white with maybe a tiny band of blue around the outside edge with a nice warm brown wood frame.  The piece is 9 x 9" so it'll frame out about 12 x 12 I think.