Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Quote

The greatest danger
for most of us
is not our
aim is too high
and we miss it,
but that it is too
and we hit it.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fickle Spring

An old legend says the reason the weather this time of year is so volatile is that old man Winter wages a last battle or two with the young maiden of Spring. Winter may be old, but he is sneaky and catches Spring unaware. Spring herself is a youth in the midst of the hormonal challenges of growing up.

No wonder the weather is less than predictable.

These are my tender tomato plants tucked in for a cold night. While the winds raged at 30 mph and the temps dropped to the mid thirties, hopefully, the tomatoes slept snug and warm under their shelters.

Since I'd already made the mental change to warmth and actually pulled shorts and sandals out of the closet, I'm less than pleased.

However, I am thankful there's no snow on my green grass, too. And that I have a warm, cheerful quilt to snuggle under.

Keep yourself warm and working for the Spring Theme Challenge. The deadline is April 9th. Thanks for all those who already sent comments and photos!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


An interesting, challenging, and thoughtful talk on creativity by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of 'Eat, Pray, Love.'

Elizabeth Gilbert on Creativity

You don't know how much I wish all Creative Soul readers could gather for coffee after hearing a speaker like this. What wonderful discussion we would have.

Thanks to Becky for alerting me to this talk and to Tom for teaching me how to embed a video in my blog post. I've learned something new today!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesday ~ Bloom

First Monarch of the Season. Photobucket
I figure he blew in on all the wind. Here he is refueling on my new heliotrope blooms.

Bearded Iris

Snowy white Indian Hawthorne (Clara, I think.) and cherry red dianthus

Bridal bush

The neighbor's wisteria crawling on the fence between our houses. I wish you could enjoy the scent along with me.

Tomato transplants are in

Thanks for all your kind comments about the spring poetry piece. It was fun to come inside and dump that on the blog. And thanks a bunch for all your enthusiasm for the Spring Theme challenge. I can't wait to see what you create!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Welcome Spring

In the dark, cool morning, I step.
In just a moment of time, the earth will turn, the sun will slip across the equator in it's journey back to us and the season will just as easily slip from winter to spring. A mathematical equation. A moment in time. Predictable. Explainable. Incredible.
In the dark, cool morning, there are no stars.
High, wispy clouds float across a cresent moon. Too many lights from neighborhoods around us shine on the clouds hiding the glittering community of stars overhead.
In the dark, cool morning, I stand, a cup of something warm in my hands, breathing the rich steam.
Never again in the history of time will this moment happen just this way again. If I live 100 years, I will only see spring 100 times.
Please God, let me notice the details.
Let me not get so busy that I forget to see, to hear, to taste, to enjoy the changes. In the wide wheel of time, let me remember to focus on the beauty and precision that is creation. This place, this moment.
In the dark, cool night, I stand, welcoming back the sun,
although darkness still reigns.
The fountain in the goldfish pond splashes. Nearby, a mockingbird sings for his mate, liquid notes into the soft early morning. My toes in the hastily slipped on sandals are chilled.
Wake up, earth.
It's spring.
The sun returns bringing with it light, warmth, and the potential for growth. What will I do with this moment, this time, this spring?
In the dark, cool night, I stand, dawn just over the horizon.
Welcome spring.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Spring Challenge


Spring makes me antsy to plant, start new projects and learn new things. Grow, change, do. In short, to CREATE. Maybe it does the same for you, too. I got to thinking it was time for a challenge.

Here's my challenge...create something that says spring to you. It could be a quilt block, a poem, a collage, a photo, or a planter filled with spring color. Maybe you'll whip out a paint brush to dash something wonderful on canvas or maybe you'll pick up a pen and create a fabulously fantastic short story. Do whatever floats your boat. Just keep spring as the theme.

Then...send a copy of your writing or a photograph of your creation to:
debsmuse AT ONE scom DOT net
(replace all caps words with symbols and squish the whole thing together.)

There will be a couple of prize packages for the two most favored by my trusty team of judges, nothing terribly fancy, but fun, nevertheless. Best of all, you'll have the pleasure of bragging about winning a contest on my blog! Feel free to invite other blogging buddies to enter as well.

We'll have a quick deadline...April 9th...so you've got three weeks. Now...shake off those winter blahs and get creating!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

O The Green!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Today is the last average freeze date for our area...and, wow, we are having an early spring....it seems a full two weeks earlier than normal, but I'll take it.

Here's a little green to help you celebrate St. Pat's properly.







When I was a girl, I remember my Mom saying not to plant the veggie garden until the mesquite trees had broken bud and started to leaf out. I don't have mesquite here in my neighborhood, so I've always used crepe myrtles as my indicator, along with weather reports and common sense. Right now, two different varieties are leafing out. I've the itch to plant, plant, plant.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spring Training

I'm a total fan girl about two things. The TV show Stargate SG1 and Texas Rangers baseball.

Stargate feeds the adventurous sci-fi gene in my soul. Loyalty, honor, and teamwork mixed with aliens, action, and humor with a teeny touch of romance are a killer combo. The first eight seasons of Stargate were a wonderful weekly escape from my life on this planet. I often wished Jack, Sam, Daniel, and Teal'c were real people so I could meet them. Unfortunately for all of us, they are fictional only. Since Stargate is no longer in production, I'm able to focus all of my attention on my Texas Rangers who are real, live, and currently working in Arizona.

It came to our attention that I haven't been anywhere that could be called a vacation in the past couple of years. Reasons aplenty for that, but we decided it had gone on long enough. The Pilot Guy and I flew out to Arizona last week for a spring training/sunshine break. Bouganvillas, lantana, and orange trees were in full bloom with a warm, sunny sky overhead. The rental agency gave us a sporty (for this mini-van mama) bright red Chevy Cobalt with a sun roof to zip around in. We drove around the city of Surprise with the top open and the windows down.

The Texas Rangers' organization is one of the few who open portions of their training facilities up for fans to mix and mingle with the players. Every morning from 10am until about noon, workouts, batting practice, pitching, and fielding happen just feet away from fans. There are players you read about in the news and some you've never heard of.
Herds of minor leaguers and future prospects stride up the walks, their cleats clicking on concrete. Mock games and batting challenges flow. Push ups for some infraction are done with laughter and good natured ribbing. When moving from one field to another, most of the guys don't mind taking a moment to sign a baseball or have their photos snapped with you. For a fan, this is a wonderful experience!

Michael Young and Andruw Jones

Ron Washington giving Jarrod Saltalamacchia tips on bunting.

I was pretty intimidated the first day. I couldn't ask anyone for an autograph. It was just a bit overwhelming to be there. Then The Pilot Guy and I met The Cookie Lady, a well known Texas Ranger fan, her husband, and other friends. They made us feel like we'd known them forever. The Cookie Lady is kind of a mom figure to many of these guys...they all stop to give her a hug and take a moment to visit. These guys are, for the most part, the same age as my own sons. Some of them are little bit older than that, but still young with young families they miss.

By the next day, I was able to get over myself and ask for a couple of autographs and photos. Very fun. If I ever get to go back, I'm taking a bucketful of baseballs to be signed. And, no, I'll never sell them on Ebay. My kids will have to fight over them when I'm gone.

Me and Marlon Byrd...I loved how his face lit up when I asked if I could have a photo with him.

With Jarrod Saltalamacchia....see that ball in his hand. It has his siggy on it and it's mine.

With Brandon McCarthy...he is one long, tall fella. Hopefully with a strong healthy arm this year.

With Kevin Millwood...rumored to be the Opening Day starting pitcher. Nice guy.

Do you know what mega-bucks star athletes do after a batting practice session? They clean up after themselves, picking up all the balls and returning them to the buckets whether in the cages or in the outfield. Did my mama's heart proud. We loved watching them all clown around during batting practice and while shagging flies in the outfield.


Unknown coach and Josh Hamilton

There are games every day in fine spring training facilities all over the metro Phoenix area. We saw the Rangers play the Seattle Mariners including Ken Griffey, Jr. and against the L.A. Dodgers complete with Manny Ramirez.

To say I didn't want to come home to the turmoil going on in our little church and in The Baseball Guy's team, challenges of dealing with a newly wrecked car, and gray skies is an understatement. I wanted to play in fantasy land a little bit longer.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Running Away From Home

The Winter Blahs got the better of us. The Pilot Guy and I fled the (very welcome) rain, gray skies, and cold weather of our home town for sun and a little spring training baseball. (Yay for airline and hotel points!)

All is not perfectly sunny, however. As we touched down in another state, our son called to tell us he had wrecked the car he and The Pilot Guy share. Bummer. He is fine, the other driver is fine, (thank you God!) but the car is not. The photos he sent us were downright scary looking. It's too bad about the car because there are not dollars for another one in the immediate future. Life lessons have commenced. The best part of this is that our son, who had the option of coming with us, handled the situation very well by himself. He had to since we were unavailable, but it is nice to see grown-up-ness beginning to shine through.

In the meantime, I'm going to sit in the stands, eat junk food, and soak up the sun. Blogging will resume after I've recharged by solar batteries.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How Do You Accept Critique?


Time after time in my writer's group, I've seen it.

The stunned, baffled, and eventually muley look that says I can't believe y'all don't get how brilliant I am. We see it most often on a new member. Some one who says they want feedback and information on their writing, but secretly knows we will swoon with admiration the minute we hear their poetry or prose.

It's often a rude awakening to find out that most of us are swoon proof.

We are kind. We applaud the effort, but we offer--gently--truth.

As I watched the auditions for American Idol this year, I was struck again by how unprepared we are to accept honest feedback and simple critique. After being given a no by the professional judges, too many contestants begged for them to change their minds. Begged, especially in a whiny voice....Please, please, please, puleezzzeee...until *I* cringed in horror.

And had to laugh out loud when Simon or Kara asked a contestant who told you you could sing? Only to have the singer reply with 'My mom. My friends.' I wish I'd kept count of the times some one said this.

Note to creative souls....your Mama loves you. She believes everything you do is golden. And rightly so. You are her creation, after all. However, she may be just a tad prejudiced.

Just a tad.

The same with your friends. Here, though, I'll allow that most people don't know how to offer negative feedback. They don't want to hurt your feelings or damage your friendship. Telling a friend that you think they don't have a good voice or an artistic eye or a great garden plan is hard. For one thing, it is your opinion. It is likely that you are just as wrong as can be because you aren't an expert in the field. Secondly, no one wants the hurt feelings thing to follow them. Creative Souls are creative, sensitive, and artistic. In other words, we bleed with ease.

Taking the steps toward making your artistic life into a professional one demands you learn to listen to hard stuff.

One of my favorite rules in my writer's group is our 'no defending' rule. After you've read your piece for the evening, you must zip your lips and listen to the verbal feedback. No defending means not 'explaining' to the doofuses who didn't 'get' it. If you have to explain, your writing wasn't clear. After all, once your book is on the shelves of Barnes and Noble, there is no author standing nearby to explain passages. No sputtering...'but, but, but.....' No pleading 'please, please, please....' And certainly no bad mouthing the person offering critique.

There's been times when I vehemently disagreed with what someone said about my writing. The no defending rule kept my mouth shut tight. Remarkably, after a few day's perspective, I was able to see that just maybe that person had a point. If more than one person said the same thing, then I realized my writing had a problem I needed to fix. I won't even tell you about the blood bath that is professional photography competitions. Ouch.

Finding people who will be honest with you is an effort worth taking. Take a look around you. Who will offer you unvarnished truth? Value these folks. Especially if they are in your field. They are worth gold to you in your pursuit of excellence.

And don't you dare whine when something negative comes your way. Professionals don't whine. They go home and work even harder.

Now, go out and create something incredible so we can all tell you how genuinely wonderful you are.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Ta-Da Friday ~ March 6, 2009


Here is a special ta-da. I finished this long narrow wall hanging the other day. I'm so pleased with how it turned out because it has a very sentimental meaning. Let me explain...

I'm one of six sister-in-laws. The Pilot Guy is one of six sons in his family, no biological sisters. Some time ago, we ladies decided to do a cross-stitch exchange project. There were specific details on size and we had an entire year to complete all of them. When did we do this, you ask?

Nineteen years ago.

At Christmas in 1990, we gathered to exchange our work. Unfortunately, one of my sis in laws chose not to do a cross stitched piece. We'd all done one for her, but... Well, you can imagine that the rest of us were somewhat flummoxed by the situation. How could we put together our projects if one of us hadn't participated? It was an odd and awkward situation for us. Five of us put our exchanged pieces away safely and hoped for wisdom. It wasn't long before time swept us on and I, frankly, forgot about the project.

A few years after this, our sis in law #2 became ill. For years she fought to live as normal and as long a life as possible, but lost the battle in early 2007. To say we mourned is an understatement. I wish you could have known her. She was a genuine Creative Soul.

Not long after that, wise quilting sis-in-law #1 dug out her cross-stitch pieces and made a delightful wall hanging from them. She generously offered to do the same for any of us. Somehow it was much easier to not worry about the missing piece from the sis in law who didn't participate. Over the years, she had decided not to participate in many things with the family. I guess we were used to it by then. And we really needed to honor the work of the sis in law who had died.

So...now I've put mine together. It was such a sweet pleasure to work with these pieces. I love these women beyond words....and miss the one who sews in heavenly sewing rooms these days tremendously. They are both sisters of the heart and dear friends.

From Trae...

From Hermion, who died in 2007

From Denise...

From Tina...

Mine is the blue one in the middle, since I'm married to a middle guy.

I also finished a few more porch pillows. Fun and fast. Way better than the blah store bought ones that had been there. I suspect I'll collect outdoor fabric and keep on making these. I like them.

I've also finished the baby gift, but haven't photographed it yet.

What have you completed or worked on this week?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

March Goals


How did it get to be March already?

Here's a few things I want to accomplish this month...

finish the Mission's policy book for our church (depends on other people...so....it may spill over into April)

write a couple of memoir stories

write a couple of short pieces, fiction or non-fiction

Oversee completion of The Baseball Guy's research project prior to spring break

Oversee the beginning of another research project. (He is going to be SO happy.)

school, school, school

begin planning The Baseball Guy's graduation ceremony and party

finish, package, and send baby gift to little Gracelyn.

begin the garden wall hanging

finish the porch swing pillows

make a half dozen ATCs

pursue more stained glass

get the veggie garden ready for planting. Plant by month's end. (do you see my gleeful smile?)

start some more seeds in pots

add plants and stepping stones to landscape the new front flower bed

paint the small table, chairs

repaint the purple swing (It will stay purple, but the paint finish is damaged. It needs sanding and repainting)

Well....that ought to keep me out of trouble...or up to my mascara in trouble, depending on your point of view. I know I'm being optimistic...this is baseball season after all. Still, writing out goals helps me stay focused.

What's on your to-do list?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What Think You?

I'm wondering if I should have a separate blog for my gardening pursuits and pleasures. Those of you who read my blog because of the pretty flower photos and gardening thoughts may get discouraged by all the how to be more creative posts. Those of you who visit because I encourage creativity may be bored by the gardening posts.

What think you? Keep it all together or separate them out?