Monday, September 19, 2022

Laid to Rest

Queen Elizabeth II is due to be laid to rest today.

     The words are from her speech to the Anglican Lambeth Conference.  Her entire message is contained in the link below. Because it mentions the importance of taking care of the climate, it fits this blog quite well.

     The Queen is already reunited with her beloved Prince Philip, as Prince Louis of Wales so nicely said.  Only thing is, all distinction of rank is gone there!

Monday, August 1, 2022

Corner of Heaven

     Once again, I'm featuring some of the flowers that have grown up in our yard this spring and summer, as well as our pollinating drought-resistant pine.  Some are native to this area and others are not. Enjoy!

California Poppy (also native to AZ)
with some non-native poppies below

                 Snap dragons with African daisies

Poppy with spiderwort [??]

Sweet alyssum; with something from pea family below

Rose, bred for hot environments

Icelandic poppy

Daughter's rendition of Icelandic poppy

Black-eyed Susan, at various stages

Friday, July 1, 2022

Glorious Old Glory

Here are some fairly recent photos of the US Flag flying around the Big Lake area in eastern Arizona:

Here's an older 4th of July posting, showing the flag in various scenic places across the United States:   Natural Wonders of America

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

To a Day-Lily*

        What! only to stay
        For a single day?*
Thou beautiful, bright hued on
        Just to open thine eyes
        To the blue of the skies
And the light of the glorious sun,
        Then, to fade away
        In the same rich ray,
And die ere the day is done?

        Bright thing of a day        Thou hast caught a rayFrom Morn's jewelled curtain fold        On thy burning cheek,        And the ruby streakHis dyed it with charms untold--        And the gorgeous vest        On thy queenly breast,Is dashed with her choicest gold.        A statelier queen        Has never been seen,A lovelier never will be!--        Nay, Solomon, dressed        In his kingliest best,Was never a match for thee,*        O beautiful flower,        O joy of an hour--And only an hour--for me!        An hour, did I say?        Nay, loveliest, nay,Not thus shall I part with thee,        But with subtle skill        I shall keep thee still,Fadeless and fresh with me:--        Through toil and duty,        "A thing of beautyForever"** my own to be.        As with drooping head***        Amid thorns I tread,I shall see thee unfold anew,        In the desert's dust,        Where journey I must,Why beautiful form shall view,        And visions of Home        O'er my spirit will come,As thro' tear-drops I gaze on you.         - Mrs. J. C. Yule

*based on ideas from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, that the grasses are clothed with lilies of the field that are there today but cast into the fire tomorrow.  

**from Keat's "Endymion":  "a thing of beauty is a joy forever"

***as mortal life comes to an end, there are sorrows in the midst of the hope of heaven

Sunday, May 1, 2022

When Things Converge

     This is a story of how professional art inspires student art, which can inspire amateur art.  But, overall, God's inspired Word inspires all that is lasting, real and true.

     It starts with an environmental artist from New York City.  She also 'lives' it.  (You can research her from the info posted in this article.)  One of her gallery presentations tours various colleges and universities.  The students then contribute their work, based on the artist's project statement.  My daughter's zine class all contributed.  (A zine is a mini magazine, made on one sheet of paper folded a certain way, and reproduced in limited number on copy machines.)
       My daughter's zine reflected on water use and her wardrobe.  She reflected on how much water likely was needed to make all her clothes (and we are not too proud to pick up some clothes from secondhand stores).  She discussed how much water it takes, in this arid environment, to keep her clothes clean.  She discussed how she tries to recycle worn out clothes into rags, but this doesn't work for all of them.  She discussed how the clothes with artificial fibers will take a long time to break down.  When they do break down, the microfibers can end up in our water and in our very bloodstreams.

     She was absolutely thrilled that her father and I could make the gallery presentation.  She was also happy to see how much we seemed to be truly taking in and processing in the display.  She had first thought that she wanted to tour the other galleries in the museum.  But, due to the arduous semester and connections building over art, she said she wanted to go, instead, to a little amateur set up where anyone could make their own 'master' for a zine.  We agreed to go.
     As I sat down to approach this, I knew that it would have to be something related to nature.  It occurred to me that I wanted to honor the Hebrew I've studied, so the cover is the Hebrew word for "life."  Then, of course, I had to include another favorite:  the black-eyed Susan.  [If you see a sunflower, that's okay; that may suggest other things to you, especially in this time in our history.]  But I'm not Jewish; I'm Christian, so a cross had to be there somewhere.  Can you see it?  My very bright daughter picked up the symbolism with no prompts.  (She also knew what type of flower it was supposed to be.)  
      I was happy that, in real life, the tissue paper provided created a center that looked a bit like the velvety soft center of a real black-eyed Susan (which is really brown!).  Later on, I slipped in the Greek and German terms, since I have studied both of these.  I try to keep speaking some German, as it is the language of my ancestors (though there 'may' be a little ethnic Jewishness in me; that is inconclusive).  But what else might it say to you, especially in this setting, to see Hebrew and German so close together?  

     You might recognize the reference to Romans 8:19-23 which literally unfolds in this zine. This is not an exact quote.  I know my own reasons for not being exact, but what does it say to you?  
      You may have to zoom in to see the small collage items on your screen. 
     Do you notice black, white and grey here? 

     Throughout the pages, what do you see of both hope and despair?

      Do you see any repeating color schemes here? What does that say to you?

     What comes together on this page?  What does it elicit in you?  Anything a little different on this page?


              Any thoughts, now, seeing front and back cover, side-by-side?  

      This is the inside, full paper fold out.  (This is especially a time you might want to zoom in to catch the smaller items.)
     There are things particular to my interests, but what do they say to you?  The verse from Job is, again, in Hebrew, Greek, German and English.  It is also, in older English, set to music, specifically Handel's Messiah.  (Interestingly, you can sing the German version to this music!)  There are elements from Luther's Small Catechism.  I happen to be Lutheran, but is there more that speaks to you?
     One statement is on the "groaning" side and here, the "eternal bliss" side.  Did you see that?  What does it mean to see it in this place?

     There are things I learned from this process. Some are basic, practical things.  Others are more philosophic.
     Some production issues were "the learner's curve", though this may well be the only zine I ever create.  Overall, I was thinking of my work as a finished creation, rather than a "master" from which to copy things.  I forgot to account for copiers "shifting" things and placed some things too close to edges, folds. or cut lines.  Because the glue sticks didn't keep things stuck down tight, I Mod-Podge'd the final product.  Unfortunately, I used the glossy Mod-Podge we already have.  So I couldn't photograph my original because the sheen was too much. Also, it created streaks that messed up the copying.
     I did discover, on the other hand, the color copier I used created some better detail on the magazine cut-outs.  This is more noticeable on paper copies than the virtual ones here.
     The cheap markers and cheap paper were provided to us amateurs at the museum.  Having started there with family, I did not really wish to start over. The markers bled through, and I had to account for this on laying out the inside.  The Mod-Podge cause the ink to smear even more, so I had to use caution.  
     Some philosophic things came to mind.  It began to occur to me that, though the original artist's statement was about conserving resources, I was using resources to create this.  In this case, not many new resources were used.  The original paper and ink from the markers were new.  The tissue for the black-eye Susan was new.  The Mod-Podge was already purchased. Evaluating the use of this is mixed:  I already had it, and the resources were already used in production. But I could have saved it for a needed project later (like fixing a book rather than throwing it out or using more toxic resources to fix it).  On the other hand, if I don't use it for something, it could dry out and be wasted, anyway.  There was also the use of glue sticks.
     The magazines and catalogs were already produced.  They could have gone to the landfill without being repurposes. The admixture used in glossy productions means they don't recycle well.  The green paper Luther catechism sections were already in our scratch paper bin.  They were part of an erroneous print for confirmation class.  The Job quotes were done on scratch paper; just the ink was a new resource.
     You will notice stickers on this zine.  All of them came from unsolicited mail, some cut off from mailing labels.  (I have more mailing labels than I could use in a long, long time.)  There was a risk that some of these unsolicited items could have ended up in a landfill.  Unlike "regular" paper, they would not recycle well.  Ironically, some of these items came from agencies promoting [secular] environmentalism.
      I included some things cut out from a Valentine I got earlier this year from someone who's been a friend since we were both 5 years old.  I had hung onto it, though it was one of those "kid style" Valentines.  But how long do we hang onto every scrap of things?  That's always a question. This Valentine was one of those "search for details" type and reflected some of my very personal preferences.  It was perfect for this zine, fitting right into the themes.  This has given the Valentine a "new life" for others, also.  Do you think you're able to find the pieces of the Valentine in the zine?  
      I have made a few paper copies.  It does not escape me that this involved more paper and ink use. There was also the slight bit of electricity use to copy.  What you see here eliminates "the paper trail."  However, there is the electricity used in preparing the post. There is the electricity used in you reading it.  (Even if it's on a battery-powered device, there will be the electricity used to recharge the battery.)  I've come to learn that all the data we create and then store is 'held' in virtual warehouses that create big power draws.  Those that are built in hot deserts, like where I currently live, add to our climate problems.
     Beyond this, I've come to learn about environmental issues that arise in traditional art.  As my daughter progresses in oil painting, I see the chemicals and toxicity.
     And, yet, humans need to create and to share their creativity. We lose something of our humanity, something of the gifts God gave us before our world (and we) were damaged by sin. And art is used to communicate environmental messages. So a real quandary can arise.  I have no answers.  This time, what began as a very amateurish endeavor led me down many paths simultaneously.
     I hope it has stimulated some thoughts in you.  In the meantime, we have hope, real hope:  we have God given gifts to help us improve things as we live on this earth.  We have hope for a perfected physical world, populated by perfected humans, in the next.
     As a Lutheran, we have a total 50 days in our Easter season, all the way until Pentecost.  I wish you a blessed Easter season.

Friday, April 1, 2022

An Easter Carol

                Spring bursts to-day,
For Christ is risen and all the earth's at play.

                Flash forth, thou Sun,The rain is over and gone, its work is done.                Winter is past,Sweet Spring is come at last, is come at last.                Bud, Fig and Vine,Bud, Olive, fat with fruit and oil and wine*.                Break forth this mornIn roses, thou but yesterday a Thorn**.                Uplift thy head,pure white Lily through the Winter dead.                Beside your damsLeap and rejoice, you merry-making Lambs.                All Herds and FlocksRejoice, all Beasts of thickets and of rocks.                Sing, Creatures, sing,Angels and Men and Birds and everything.                All notes of DovesFill all our world: this is the time of loves.    

                                                  -Christina G. Rossetti (1830-1894)


*Habakkuk chapter 3
**Compares the flowerless rose, all thorns "just yesterday", to the contrast between Good Friday, when the Lord died, to the blossom of His resurrection on Easter.