Friday, June 05, 2015


The word 'awe' has been overused, so much so that it seems diminutive to describe something as 'awesome' or 'awe- inspiring'. Last summer, when I was struggling to find meaning in the events around me, I hiked up Mount Philo regularly in the early morning. The view of the adirondacks across lake champlain became an awe-inspiring sight for me, as every day it was different. The water color was deep blue, or pale grey. The layers of mountains were many or completely shrouded. The view was alive, and I felt its qi around me. I felt awe. And so I did the other day when I walked to the top and sat to listen to the birds and be alone with my thoughts.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Update- Daily practice

Margaret died on February 12, 2015. For the trying 6 ½ months before her death, I sent her a card everyday. I loved the practice and I know she loved the cards. Lucky for me, her family and friends were kind enough to return the collection to me- all 350 something cards spanning 3 years. I cherish them, but I love to share them whenever I can, and encourage others to practice snail mail. Everyone loves a little note in the mail. Please send a card to someone you love today.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Missing you. Holidays have become a sad time for me. They make me miss people and feelings and experiences, and rather than being able to remember with joy, I am only filled with longing and hurt. I miss my mom and dad, who spent Christmas eve and Christmas with us every year since my children were born. Their absence has left a void so big, I can only want to crawl into it and suffocate. My children are grown, and have no nostalgia, although I know they miss their grandparents too. The night before Christmas was always filled with family, shrimp cocktail, blue cheese dip, Beaujolais, and a special meal, then wrapping presents and filling stockings late into the night. Today I will finish wrapping all my gifts, and then will have too much time to miss those things. I'm torn apart by my expectations and must free myself of them, or be overwhelmed by a longing for something more meaningful yet unattainable.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Daily Practice

My project of daily postcards began in July 2011. When a friend was diagnosed with cancer and began chemotherapy and radiation treatments, I decided the best support I could give would be to send a postcard every day, to give him something to look forward to and take his mind off the treatment. I started the practice anonymously, but it only took a few days before he knew who was responsible. It turned out to be a great spirit booster, something he and his family looked forward to getting every day. They displayed them in a rack on the counter, and re-read them and shared them with friends. I started the cards by subscribing to a word of the day email, and would pick out words that were unusual or funny, and brought up an image in my mind. For materials, I used hosiery cardboard inserts recycled from samples I received at work, acrylic paints, magazine pages, and assorted papers. Sometimes the image would just manifest itself; other times, I made a sentence using the word before I could illustrate it. I most often used matte medium to glue and seal the images, however occasionally I used glue stick if I was in a rush. On the postcard side, I wrote the dictionary entry along with the sentence. I think the writing of the entry took almost as long each day as the image. I had become interested in hand lettering and so tried to vary my letters as an exercise. At the end of his treatment, I sent the last card with the word ‘vaticination’, meaning ‘prediction’ or ‘the act of prophesying’. Here is the image: After the project ended, I made a book to hold the postcards. I used clear sheet protectors, cut them to size and sewed around the edges, leaving the opening at the top. The single pages were bound together using Keith Smith’s single sheet binding instructions. After I put the book together and inserted the cards, I had to go back and fix a few. One card had lost a few cut out letters, so it read ‘ood day suns ine’. The card for ‘netsuke’ had completely lost its image of an ivory cat, so the card was an empty frame. The second project began in March 2012, when my brother in law was diagnosed with cancer and began his chemotherapy. In between the projects I had kept up with making collages and postcards for other friends and family, and so still had plenty of backgrounds made and materials at hand. I continued with the word of the day practice for the length of his treatment, which ended in the beginning of June 2012. One of the heartbreaks of my life was the day my dear friend M told me she had triple-negative breast cancer. Although we were close friends, we had not been in constant contact since she had moved to New York City 7 years prior to this time. It seemed so right to start the postcard a day project for her, but this time I needed it to be more personal. I wanted to be there with her every day, and to connect with her in a different way. We had worked together for many years, and were confidantes, co-conspiritors, and professional partners. As I got into the project, I realized how much we had shared, and just how much I missed having her to talk with and fight with. My project for Margaret was a shoe a day. We both loved shoes, although only she could wear the 4 inch heels that we both admired. The added commitment, and an important component of this project, was the short note or thought on the written side. The shoe collages began with a windfall of pages from the Metropolitan Museum daily calendar of 2011. I used only those images for a very long while, finding the right curves or textures in the photographs of the art, and mixing them up with each other. I found humor as well as inspiration in the shapes of the images. Later in the project, as the amount of calendar art dwindled, I started using magazine pages. Furniture and art magazines were preferable to food magazines, which didn’t seem to work at all for me. On weekends I would gesso a bunch of cards and then paint backgrounds. Sometimes I would make 4 or 5 collages at once, while some days I had to drive to the post office at 4:45 to make the mail pickup. Like all things creative, sometimes they came quickly and easily, and sometimes the shoes were ugly, misshapen, or just bad. But I still sent one a day. Although sometimes I made the cards in batches, I wrote the message on the day I sent the card. At first, I tried to make every card a positive, uplifting one, but that got hard after a week even with my Christian Science upbringing. After that, I got into a rhythm of just noticing a moment in my day, or taking note of a fleeting thought, and saving those up to write about. I didn’t hold back if it wasn’t exactly a positive note, writing sometimes about my anxiety about children or work. But I did try to add humor into them, sometimes just reminding each other about a very funny moment we had had together. Sometimes I laughed out loud, and I hoped that Margaret did too. Apparently she did. She and everyone around her has told me how much the postcards meant to her. I sent her the first shoe card July 11, and the ‘last shoe’ December 29,2012, after she called to tell me she had a clear PET scan. Within a few weeks, she told me she was having radiation treatments for another 6 weeks, so I had another shoe bonanza from January 25 through March 3, 2013. After 2 years of using Aloha Hawaiian shirt stamps, the post office finally issued a new stamp with apples on it 2 weeks before I finished. On one of the final cards, I wrote that it was one of my favorite shoes that I had done. Margaret told me later that it had come to her with only the heel left of the image. I miss sending the cards every day, but I try to keep those thoughts from going unnoticed by either writing in a book or sending a card to another friend or family member. It is amazing how much a written note can mean to someone, especially someone far away, or alone, or going through a tough time. It takes so little time, and is really a kind of journaling to send a card with a note. Also, the post office really needs the business.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Yesterday I sent my last shoe postcard to Margaret. Here is my message. Today I started participating in a collage project called 4x4 x400 run by Jane Davies. The idea is to start with a piece of 8x8 paper, collage and paint or whatever to it, then cut it up into 4x4 pieces and finish your little pieces of artwork. Here are my first attempts.