Saturday, August 31, 2013

Beauty in a Bag

Have nothing in your houses which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
William Morris, English textile designer, artist, writer, and libertarian socialist (1834-1896)

Visiting a new quilt shop, I came away with a bag of beauty. These fabric swaths are destined to become stunning seat cushions for the dining room chairs. I am loving the creative ideas for the new flat that are bubbling over. Now, I just need to get to the sewing machine and turn some of those ideas into a beautiful reality. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Keys in Hand

There is something permanent, and something extremely profound, in owning a home.
Kenneth Carroll "Kenny" Guinn, American businessman, educator and politician (1936–2010)

Today marks a momentous occasion: I took possession of my very own mortgage for a condo in my hometown. Keys are in hand and, with luck, renovation work will begin soon as I create my very own space. Profound, indeed. Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

No Escape

There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly. Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.
Pema Chödrön, American Buddhist nun, in The Wisdom of No Escape: How to Love Yourself and Your World 

There is no escaping birthdays so, bathed in the light of family, I bit into a luscious strawberry and relished the moment.

Friday, August 9, 2013

California Hospitality

We all just take distinct paths in life, but no issue wherever we go, we get a little of each other almost everywhere. 

Bright, sunny, cheery, refreshing: words to describe the lemonade made straight from the tree and our welcome as eight "Felucca Friends" crossed time and space for a reunion at a lovely California home set upon a mountainside.

Far from the Nile and our trusty felucca captains, who steered our Thursday night sailings (sometimes into the reeds), we ventured aboard the Queen Mary for a glimpse into how the 1% live. The technology and history were certainly interesting, but the best part of the tour was quaffing a glass of wine with accompanying nibbles at the ship's Art Deco bar. In this we find a direct correlation between the little sailboat and the grand steamer.

A visit to the St. Gabriel Mission, built in 1771 as the fourth of a string of 21 California missions, held a contemplative element thanks to philosophic museum labels calligraphed long ago, such as:
Upon entering the Church look down
Note the worn tile smoothed by
Shuffle of leather sandels of old and
The abrasion of modern day Romans
Visitors, ponder these hallowed walls
Consecrated by Tongva hands . . .
Brick by Brick . . . Stone by Stone . . .
Rock by Rock, bonded by ground
Limestone . . . sand . . . sea-shells, hoisted
Up via rough hemp ropes, pulleys,
Torn hands . . . worn backs . . . primitive
Scaffolding, these children of the . . .
Earth labored some fifteen years . . .
Constructing this symbol of humankind's
Yearning to find comfort with God's
Enveloping embrace —
Yes . . . look down where ye stand . . .
Now . . . look up at these strong
Buttressed walls . . . .
Reaching for the stars . . . .
John E. Fantz . . . Museum Guardian

Contemplation continued during a visit to the Huntington Botanical Gardens and its newly opened Garden of Flowing Fragrance Chinese garden as various elements of architecture, horticulture and environment create beautifully spiritual zones such as the Terrace that Invites the Mountains, the Terrace of the Jade Mirror and the Pavilion of the Three Friends (aka the bamboo, the pine and plum blossoms).

We contemplated colourful koi and tricky turtles among the Huntington's lily ponds where I learned the origin of the hard pods sold to create tall arrangements in Canadian living rooms.

While all of our forays fascinated and inspired, for me the most outstanding must be the Getty Villa. The rarefied air on a mountainside overlooking the ocean, the exceptional art collection, the stunning Pompeiian architecture and the tinkling garden fountains take my breath away.

Every excursion concluded with our return to the most comfortable and friendly villa paradiso to toast good friends with fine wine accompanied by the tastiest nibbles. May the "Felucca Friends" gather again to share in the camaraderie formed upon the Nile's waters.