Musing on fusing

For our children’s children November 11 2018

Yesterday we celebrated my granddaughter’s first birthday. She is lovely, innocent, trusting, joyful, pure.

Every year, during the season of remembering, I feel so much gratitude for those who have gone before us and paved the way to freedom, and fought the fight for the life we now have; many literally gave up everything.

Most of us have ancestors who were lost. Most of us have heard the stories and seen the pain in the storyteller’s eyes.

And yet, it seems nothing has changed. We still try to kill each other. We still hate with passion. We still ostracize and look down on others as though they are not as worthy as us. 

How can this be? We are not remembering. We are forgetting.

My granddaughter knows nothing about hate or racism; about war or conflict. She loves with innocence, untainted by the ugliness running rampant around us and within us. 

For those we say we are remembering, we seem incapable of enough gratitude to just stop the hate. Could we do it for our children’s children? Please?

 

P.S. Although I have ceased producing fused glass, a number of pieces are still for sale on this website. I will continue to add new paintings to this site. And shipping is free on everything on the site.

Check out all my Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see all my books here.

You can see more paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
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Sweet November 04 2018

This year, I celebrate a significant birthday. I enjoy celebrating, because it is a privilege to grow older when all of us have known many who did not get that chance.

In recent years, a number of my school friends and I have reconnected.

Some of us have known each other since kindergarten and elementary school. Others met in high school. We all graduated from Simonds High School together. 

At this point there are about 20 of us but we keep locating more. We don’t all live in the same city or even the same province. But we look for ways to be together.

We have dinners. We go on day trips or weekend excursions. Or just hang out.  Recently 12 of us took a weekend away to celebrate our collective birthday milestone.

As a group, we have seen sorrows, struggles, failures, health issues, disappointments, and losses – as among any collective of people. Yet, when we’re together, aside from a quick catch-up of any new or continuing issues within the group, we don’t talk about our troubles and worries much.

We laugh until tears flow. We tell stories. We honour the ridiculous and embrace the absurd. We are loud. And it is sweet.

Thank you my friends. xo

You can see my painting “Bittersweet” painting here.

P.S. Although I have ceased producing fused glass, a number of pieces are still for sale on this website. I will continue to add new paintings to this site. And shipping is free on everything on the site.

You can see more about my painting “Bittersweet” here.

Check out all my Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see all my books here.

You can see more paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
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And next up October 28 2018 2 Comments

 

I continually want to try new things. Never have understood why I should choose one thing, stick to it and be satisfied at the end of my life, even if I perfected that one thing.

As I grew older, I began choosing a new thing to learn or do as a way to to celebrate the privilege of being given another year. Not to do so felt like a year squandered.

Sometimes, my efforts were wonderful successes. Sometimes failures.

When I turned 50, I got my motorcycle license. It was a dramatic, injury-filled effort (and that was just the motorcycle course) that concluded with a near-perfect riding test and many fun-filled biking days and trips.

As a young teen I dreamed of getting my black belt in karate but I let life get in the way and didn’t get around to it. In my advancing years, that idea seemed a little aggressive. So instead, I started going to Aikido. Loved it. It seemed perfect at first. But then all the arm twisting, crashing into the floor, bruises, aches and pains on my whimpering body had me using a bit of common sense and packing my Gi away. Then I tried Tai Chi. Finally, my age and the martial art match.

Many other endeavours and dreams have been tried, learned and fulfilled. Some are still part of my life. Others are in the “glad-I-tried-that” list.

But one desire has been with me for all of my adult life – to play the harp.

At my age, with both my parents gone, and knowing the surprises and shocks that life delivers, I have a sense of the clock ticking.

That’s why I sold my glass kiln and all my glass-fusing tools and bought a harp.

My harp is a 34-string burgundy beauty, lever floor harp. It’s been mine only since late June. I take lessons online and practice several times a day. I love this new part of my life.

While playing, I often make videos so I can review the mistakes I am making and try to correct them. My playing sounds much better in my head than in the recording. But, that’s ok -  the video is obviously faulty.

My hope is that the dreams and ambitions never stop coming, new ones, about possibilities I have not yet even thought to dream of. I’d consider myself lucky.

P.S. As a consequence, I will be making no new fused glass. But I still have a number of glass pieces for sale on this website and there is now free shipping site-wide. Thank you for supporting my “learning-to-make-fused-glass” dream. This site will continue as I add new paintings over time.

You can see more about my painting “Passion, joy and underlying sadness” here.

Check out all my Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see all my books here.

You can see more paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

 __________________________________________________

I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
Check back to see what I have been up to during the week.
You can also subscribe to occasional email updates below.

 


Enjoy your summer! June 03 2018

 

It is time for my yearly break from blogging. I hope you all have a wonderful summer. 

Check out Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my books here.

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FREE SHIPPING ON TWO OR MORE BOOKS: I received free shipping on my most recent order of books, so I am passing the savings on to you. Use the code "TWO OR MORE BOOKS" at checkout. This discount will apply until my current stock of books is sold out.


Finding strength in weakness May 27 2018

When I was ten-years-old, my parents enrolled me in swimming lessons and gymnastics. They thought I was too shy and hoped this would help.

So, a couple of times a week after school or on the weekend, I took a city bus to the YMCA in uptown Saint John, NB from a subdivision in the east end. Rain or shine, snow or sleet, I went, sometimes with a friend, sometimes alone.

I loved to swim and I became an excellent swimmer. I loved the icicles that formed in my wet hair in the winter as I trudged to catch the bus home as it grew dark. I loved seeing the pigeons poop on some unsuspecting person from the roof of the department store as we waited for the bus. I loved my independence.

Swimming classes included diving lessons.

I was very keen to dive and I easily went off the end of the diving board in my first attempt. But, instead of cutting through the water head first, with a tiny splash and a crisp “plop”, I belly flopped - big time.

The wind was knocked out of me, my stomach glowed bright red and I was shocked at the pain.

After everyone had their turn on the diving board, we lined up again.

I was near the beginning of the queue. I was terrified, still smarting from my epic fail and visibly shaking as I made my way out to the end of the board. And there I stood.

Our instructor encouraged me, reasoned with me, ordered me to dive. I refused.

She tried reasoning with me again, flattering me, giving me a pep talk.

Finally, she tried bribing me: if I would dive, she would give me a nickel.

The other instructor joined in. They pleaded. They tried shaming me for holding up the others. But fear kept me frozen in place.

They upped the ante to a dime. I couldn’t budge.

When they offered me a quarter, I negotiated: I would jump but not dive. The deal was made.

After my YMCA experience, I was still shy. But I did learn skills that held me in good stead through the years. Shy doesn’t mean I can’t stand up for myself or that I must do things I don’t feel are right for me.

I did eventually become a good diver, when I was ready. But most memorable for me from that day was discovering my strength in what some thought was weakness.

You can see my fractured light “A new day” window glass here.

Check out more Glass by Charis pieces here

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FREE SHIPPING ON TWO OR MORE BOOKS: I received free shipping on my most recent order of books, so I am passing the savings on to you. Use the code "TWO OR MORE BOOKS" at checkout. This discount will apply until my current stock of books is sold out.

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The tempest May 20 2018

It was time for the dreaded annual cleanup of our small front yard. I hate gardening, I am not good at it, but in the spring, it must be done.

I bought ten small plants that reportedly are hardy and fine with being dry. That seemed to be a good start since I never water the yard. Each plant should grow to cover about two feet of the barren spaces.

Determined to get it over with, I came home from work and carried my tools out front.

It started well. I pulled weeds and cleaned up the edging. Then I began digging a hole to place one of my new plants. I hit an ant colony, and what seemed like millions of tiny ants swarmed out.

They overran my shoes, leaving little bites on my bare ankles. They raced up under my pants leg nipping as they went, and stung my butt, and . . .  you get the idea.

“#$&*%#!!!” A tempest was unleashed, shouting words that would have made my mother frown and thinking others that would have made her blush.

I stomped one foot on the other trying to kill them, and flailed my muddy hands through my hair and over my face and body trying to get rid of them. By then, I had no idea if I was covered in ants or just imagining them.

Shedding my shoes, I stomped my feet to dislodge anything still clinging to my skin, raced into the house, ran upstairs, and jumped in the shower. There I peeled off my clothes and sealed them in a bag to take downstairs to the washer. I scrubbed my body and washed my hair until it seemed to be enough.  

Yet as I sit in my PJs writing this, I still feel like I’m crawling.

I think I know what my dreams will be tonight.

You can see my “Tempest” painting here.

You can see all available paintings here.

Check out Glass by Charis pieces here

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FREE SHIPPING ON TWO OR MORE BOOKS: I received free shipping on my most recent order of books, so I am passing the savings on to you. Use the code "TWO OR MORE BOOKS" at checkout. This discount will apply until my current stock of books is sold out.

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Sitting pretty May 13 2018 2 Comments

One time when my mother wasn’t feeling well, I thought I should step in and make dinner for my father.

In my adolescence I loved to make things using Betty Crocker’s Cook Book for Boys and Girls. Published in 1957, it contained some recipes starting from scratch, some that used mixes, and even items as simple as “Scouts Franks and Beans”. Into a heavy frying pan empty 1 can baked beans. Top with 8 franks, sliced. Set over coals and heat until steaming hot. 

But my favourites to make were the salads and cakes presented as animals and characters.

After preparing his meal, I called my father to dinner with great pride and fanfare. He sat, ate every bite, and pronounced it was delicious. I was very happy and proud.

Sitting pretty, on the table in front of him, was a Raggedy Ann Salad in the shape of a person – half a boiled egg for the head, raisins for eyes and nose, cherry for the mouth, hair made of cheese strands, a half peach for the body, raisins for buttons and feet, celery for arms and legs, and lettuce for her skirt.

 

For me, the joy was in creating what I thought my father needed after his long day. For my father, the joy was in receiving something exuberantly created and presented.

I don’t know what else my father found to add to his dinner: only when I was much older did I realize that the food so prettily arranged on his plate that night could not have sustained him. Maybe he made some Scouts Franks and Beans after I went to bed. But he never mentioned it to me.

I picture my father telling my mother what he had for dinner. They laughed together a lot, and that night, I’m sure I provided the chuckles.

You can see my painting "Sitting pretty" here.

You can see all available paintings here.

Check out Glass by Charis pieces here

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FREE SHIPPING ON TWO OR MORE BOOKS: I received free shipping on my most recent order of books, so I am passing the savings on to you. Use the code "TWO OR MORE BOOKS" at checkout. This discount will apply until my current stock of books is sold out.

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Looking for rainbows May 06 2018

Hoping New Brunswick sees rainbows soon. Sending love your way.

Check out more Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see all my books here.

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FREE SHIPPING ON TWO OR MORE BOOKS: I received free shipping on my most recent order of books, so I am passing the savings on to you. Use the code "TWO OR MORE BOOKS" at checkout. This discount will apply until my current stock of books is sold out.

 __________________________________________________

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And then, they weep April 29 2018

Reflecting with sadness on the senseless tragedy in Toronto this week, while trying to make sense of how and why things like this happen. But, in the end, we weep – for those who are gone, for those who will never be the same, for the families and friends of the victims and for the family of the accused. 


Out of the fire April 22 2018 4 Comments

On March 27, 1941, at 6:55 a.m, my grandfather was rescued from the collapsed Manchester Robertson Allison building in Saint John, NB.

He was a volunteer member of the Salvage Corps.

As the Emerson building next to MRAs went up in flames, he and three other men climbed onto the second storey annex roof of MRAs with a hose to try to control the fire from that vantage point.

But the Emerson building gave way and collapsed onto the roof where my grandfather was standing, plunging him through the roof to the floors below.

He was trapped under the debris for three hours before being rescued. But he was alive, and despite his serious injuries, he was able to direct his rescuers to the likely location of the other missing men, one of whom lost his life that morning.

This story resonates with me in a couple of ways. First, I feel grateful, because the course of our family history would have been very different without my grandfather. 

Second, I am amazed that, despite this harrowing experience, Frederick William Brown, who joined the Salvage Corps and Fire Police in 1939, volunteered for another 48 years. He served as Captain and Secretary Treasurer and was an Honorary Member for the rest of his life.

You can see my "Grateful" painting here.

You can see all my paintings here.

Check out Glass by Charis pieces here

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 FREE SHIPPING ON TWO OR MORE BOOKS: I received free shipping on my most recent order of books, so I am passing the savings on to you. Use the code "TWO OR MORE BOOKS" at checkout. This discount will apply until my current stock of books is sold out.

Read all blog posts here.

__________________________________________________

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Love, in all shapes and sizes April 15 2018

As I sit holding my baby granddaughter, she holds one of her toys. Often its something cute and soft, but her favourite is hard with multiple pieces she can suck on and I think about her father, my younger son, and the toys he loved as a wee one. 

When he was around two-years-old, I would tuck him in bed every night with his Teddy. When I checked later, I would find Teddy abandoned on the floor and my son asleep cuddling a dump truck or some other equally sharp, uncomfortable toy, in my mind, not the best candidate for hugs.

One morning as I was making his bed, I noticed long, black, skinny, string-like things on the sheets. There were a lot of them. Eight to be exact.

Then I recognized it - a daddy longlegs, quite dead. 

I said to my son, “Did you kill a daddy longlegs in your bed last night?”

“No,” he said. “I just hugs him for hours and hours.”

The daddy longlegs did not survive my son’s love, but it did make me think how a child can love all shapes, colours and sizes. And what we lose when we deem some worthy of love and others not. 

You can see my "Heart" coasters here.

Check out more Glass by Charis pieces here

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FREE SHIPPING ON TWO OR MORE BOOKS: I received free shipping on my most recent order of books, so I am passing the savings on to you. Use the code "TWO OR MORE BOOKS" at checkout. This discount will apply until my current stock of books is sold out.

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Parade, procession or teaching moment? April 08 2018 3 Comments

 

When we first moved to Toronto, we rented a house just off a main road. 

Pope John Paul II was in office at that time.  I liked how he was relating to young people. At the last minute I heard that he was coming to Toronto. He would land at Downsview airport and would be driven right past our street on his way downtown.

We are not Catholic, but I thought it would be a nice moment for our sons to see him, particularly our six-year-old. So, I quickly gathered the kids and ran out to the street to watch the procession, for what I saw as a teaching moment, a moment in history we could be a part of.

Police cars passed in front of us, then the “Pope Mobile.” John Paul II was standing and waving as he slowly drove by. There were not a lot of people on our section of the route so he waved right at us. Pretty exciting stuff, or so I thought.

When the procession was over, I asked my son, “So, what did you think about that?” He responded, “Pretty good, but would have been better with a few clowns.”

For the child expecting a parade, it was underwhelming. For the parent anticipating a teaching moment, it was mediocre. As a story repeated at family gatherings, it’s a winner.  

“The prayer” penguin painting is not available, but you can see other penguin paintings for sale here.

You can see all my paintings here.

Check out Glass by Charis pieces here

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 FREE SHIPPING ON TWO OR MORE BOOKS: I received free shipping on my most recent order of books, so I am passing the savings on to you. Use the code "TWO OR MORE BOOKS" at checkout. This discount will apply until my current stock of books is sold out.

Read all blog posts here.

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Happy Easter! April 01 2018

I will return to blogging next week. Have a wonderful Easter weekend.

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Happy Spring! March 25 2018

I am taking today off from blogging. Time to enjoy the spring.

FREE SHIPPING ON TWO OR MORE BOOKS: I received free shipping on my most recent order of books, so I am passing the savings on to you. Use the code "TWO OR MORE BOOKS" at checkout. This discount will apply until my current stock of books is sold out.

You can see all my books here.

Check out more Glass by Charis pieces here

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I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
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Where the trees stood March 18 2018

Many of the richest scenes for my life involve trees – the splendour of apple blossoms in spring at our camp; hiding in the giant cedar trees during hide-and-seek while climbing much higher than was likely safe; fall excursions with my niece to wander among the fall colours; a picnic with fancy china and linen under trees on the Scarborough bluffs; sitting among poplar trees listening to the music created in the wind by their clacking leaves; walks in the woods in New Hampshire and Vermont. Many such moments are a pleasure to recall.

But I have one very special tree memory.

When I was quite young, my father hung a homemade swing in a very tall tree at our camp. A piece of wood made a seat, attached to heavy rope that stretched up to meet the limb of the tree at the edge of the sky.

As any kid would, we pumped our legs over and over, as hard as we could, until the rope was almost horizontal. Then we jumped when it was at its peak, and flew shrieking through the air, free as a bird thumping on the ground and springing up to go again.

One Sunday, I was wearing a pretty dress that my mother had made, new patent leather shoes and white socks. What came next has imprinted that picture in my mind.

I launched off the swing from the heights and flew through the air, laughing with delight. I landed on a board with a rusty nail pointing straight up, and my foot landed squarely on that nail.

My father raced from the garden at supersonic speed in answer to my wail. I will never forget the look of pain and horror on his face as he braced his feet on either end of the board and lifted me straight up off the nail. 

I never questioned if I was going to be OK. I knew I would be because my father had arrived to save me. 

That might have been a traumatic experience for me, a bad memory. Instead, it was one of the most sweetly intimate moments I had with my father. Once he charged through the bushes, I wasn’t afraid. I trusted him and believed he could fix anything. 

He saved me where the trees stood. But there was no saving my new shoes or my now-crimson socks.

You can see my “Tree of Life” window glass here.

FREE SHIPPING ON TWO OR MORE BOOKS: I received free shipping on my most recent order of books, so I am passing the savings on to you. Use the code "TWO OR MORE BOOKS" at checkout. This discount will apply until my current stock of books is sold out.

You can see all my books here.

Check out more Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

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__________________________________________________
I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
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Flower power March 11 2018

In the 60s and early 70s the expression "Flower Power" referred, in part, to passive, non-violent resistance, a reaction against the war in Vietnam.

Not all was sweetness and light during the Flower Power era, but its plea to “Make love, not war” arose from the conviction that there had to be a better way. There must be an alternative to violence. And yet, 50 years later, we appear to have identified no substitute.

Still, the craving for more love in our world and less hate and violence remains. This powerful idea has motivated strivers and dreamers for centuries.

Maybe a little flower power would help.

The "Flower power" window  glass is sold.

FREE SHIPPING ON TWO OR MORE BOOKS: I received free shipping on my most recent order of books, so I am passing the savings on to you. Use the code "TWO OR MORE BOOKS" at checkout. This discount will apply until my current stock of books is sold out.

You can see all my books here.

Check out more Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

__________________________________________________
I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
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Somehow it all worked out February 25 2018

For years our sons asked for a dog. My advice was that they should get a dog when they were grown and had their own places.

When my oldest son was five, we were at a mall the day before Christmas where he sat on Santa’s knee. I asked him what he told Santa he wanted. He replied "a puppy". I said, “What did Santa say?” “He said, OK.”

After taking my son home, I rushed to the pet store before it closed for the holiday and sat on the floor looking at the small animals, debating which I could stand to pick up if I had to. I came home with a long-haired guinea pig. Shirley was cute and furry. My son could hold and pet him (Yes, Shirley was a male). The perfect replacement for a puppy.

Shirley died of heat stroke after we created a lovely spa-like enclosure on the deck so he could enjoy the sun. Homey, our second guinea pig, came down with scurvy requiring me to force feed him blended greens through an eye dropper. 

We had a rabbit, Peter, who chewed through the phone and electrical cords, shredded my son’s bed, and growled like a dog when we tried to stop him from destroying our house. 

We had three hamsters over time (Teddy, Geoffrey and Geoffrey 2). One died of natural causes. One escaped his cage, found his way into the duct work and got trapped in our old gas furnace. We found him two days later, alive and covered in soot. The third died of pneumonia. 

Goldfish seemed like a simple choice. We purchased three (Fred, Clock and Alf). As each died we replaced it (Fred 2, 2 o'clock and Alf 2 - then Fred 3, 3 o’clock and Alf 3 and so on), until we finally admitted we were unable to keep fish alive. Besides, as my youngest son said, “You can’t pets a fish” – although we did lose some to attempted hugs.

One night we wandered into a pet store with our youngest son just to look at the animals. The cutest little ball of white fur looked at me with big black eyes. The clerk asked if we wanted to hold him.

I said “ No thanks. ” My son pleaded: “Just for a minute?”

We left with a puppy.

I had asked the clerk if that breed sheds. The clerk said no, “a little in the spring, but not much at all.” She lied.

In the store, Misha seemed like a cuddly, quiet little puppy. He wasn’t. He was just lethargic from getting his needles that day. 

We were not great dog owners. We taught him to hug, dance and box. We neglected to teach him to sit, stay or heel. But, we loved him. 

Misha often seemed smarter than us. One day our teenage son was in our family room watching TV and eating pizza. Misha went to the desk, grabbed a sheet of paper in his mouth, returned to stand in front of my son and started shredding the paper. 

“No. Give.” my son commanded. 

Misha shook the paper again and when my son rose to take it from him, Misha scooted around the pool table with my son in pursuit. When they got to the other side of the table, Misha dropped the paper, doubled back, grabbed the pizza off the undefended plate and ran upstairs.

Our kids wanted a dog, I wanted to please them and the dog wanted pizza. Somehow it all worked out.

You can see my "Puppy paws" sushi plate here.

FREE SHIPPING ON TWO OR MORE BOOKS: I received free shipping on my most recent order of books, so I am passing the savings on to you. Use the code "TWO OR MORE BOOKS" at checkout. This discount will apply until my current stock of books is sold out.

You can see all my books here.

Check out more Glass by Charis pieces here

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A streetcar named ... February 18 2018

 

Every year as a child on Halloween I dressed up as an artist. I always wanted to be an artist. I longed to go to art school. I wanted to paint and create. And I wanted to teach art in middle or high school. I always knew that.

But life happens. Twists and turns along the way presented roadblocks and big detours. But my desire to be an artist eventually began to turn into possibility as I finally made it to art school. I began as a part time student in Chicago, followed by the courses I could manage with a young family. 

Eventually, I received my diploma in graphic design and opened my own studio. The business was successful for a long time and helped pay the bills. A constant background was the longing to paint what I wanted to, and I worked away on my creations when and where I could.

It seemed, though, that the opportunity to go back to school and get a teacher’s diploma so I could teach art in the school system had passed me by. I believed I was too old and that it would take too long to complete the program while I also worked my business and raised my family.

Desires are a funny thing. Just when you think they won’t be realized, you find yourself on that streetcar once again, travelling toward that which you have longed for.

I received a phone call from a college. Based on my training and work experience, they invited me to teach part time in their school of design program. It was exciting and thrilling. I couldn’t believe that one of my deepest desires had come to fruition. To be in a classroom with 50 young adults, from all over the world, keen to learn and grow in their craft was a privilege. The excitement and satisfaction of those few years remain vivid.

Dreams and desires fuel our souls and drive us to strive. But, if we are truly fortunate, we will always have unfulfilled longings calling us forward.

“I prefer to be a dreamer among the humblest, with visions to be realized, than lord among those without dreams and desires.” – Khalil Gibran

You can see more about my “A streetcar named …” painting here.

FREE SHIPPING ON TWO OR MORE BOOKS: I received free shipping on my most recent order of books, so I am passing the savings on to you. Use the code "TWO OR MORE BOOKS" at checkout. This discount will apply until my current stock of books is sold out.

You can see all my books here.

Check out more Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

__________________________________________________
I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
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Moody in the Six February 11 2018

“The sky was painted over, a perfect uniform gray. On days like this the clouds probably absorbed the sounds from the surface of the earth. And not just sounds. All kinds of things. Perceptions, for example.” 
– André Alexis, The Hidden Keys

You can see more about my “Moody in the Six” painting here. 

FREE SHIPPING ON TWO OR MORE BOOKS: I received free shipping on my most recent order of books, so I am passing the savings on to you. Use the code "TWO OR MORE BOOKS" at checkout. This discount will apply until my current stock of books is sold out.

You can see all my books here.

Check out more Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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What if? February 04 2018

I love old fashioned words - words we don’t use very often any more, but which are so descriptive even in their sound.

This week I heard someone use the word “askance,” meaning “with suspicion, mistrust, or disapproval.”

While it seems that people everywhere are more suspicious, mistrusting and disapproving than I remember, it is harder to admit that I also am more suspicious, less trusting and disapprove more often than I used to.

What if, instead of looking askance at those around us, we nurtured acceptance, trust and approval in our everyday lives?

What if our side glances were for encouragement and support rather than judgment?

What if we tried changing the attitude in our world from the inside out?

You can see my “Flowers of the heart” fractured light window glass here.

FREE SHIPPING ON TWO OR MORE BOOKS: I received free shipping on my most recent order of books, so I am passing the savings on to you. Use the code "TWO OR MORE BOOKS" at checkout. This discount will apply until my current stock of books is sold out.

You can see all my books here.

Check out more Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

__________________________________________________
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Surprise! January 28 2018

 

Last summer was somewhat stressful and I didn’t have much free time. But one gorgeous, balmy day I had nothing scheduled. 

We decided to take a scenic drive, stop for ice cream, check out the tourist shops and have dinner overlooking the Bay of Fundy. Lounging in the passenger seat gave me a chance to relax and enjoy the ride. 

I put my feet up on the dash, leaned back in my seat, closed my eyes, breathed in the fresh air and sighed. 

When I opened my eyes to enjoy the view, I got a surprise instead – my feet sported two different sandals. 

I laughed. It looked ridiculous. The choice occurred to me – turn around so I could get matching shoes, or keep going and enjoy the day.

We kept going. For the rest of the day, I walked around with my head high, pretending I was being fashion forward.

You can see my “Purple Surprise” sushi plate here. Holding the plate up to the light reveals muted shades of blue, a subtle surprise, completely unlike my mismatched feet.

FREE SHIPPING ON BOOKS: I received free shipping on my most recent order of books, so I am passing the savings on to you. Use the code "TWO OR MORE BOOKS" at checkout. This discount will apply until my current stock of books is sold out.

You can see all my books here.

Check out more Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

__________________________________________________
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The day you arrived January 21 2018 1 Comment

Certain people in our lives enrich our life beyond measure. They make us feel better about ourselves and and remind us of our worth and value.

But the greatest measure of our connection and value to someone is to hear that we have made a difference in their life, that we have brightened their day, even a little. Knowing that just because we exist, the world is a better place for some specific person is a gift.

The Day You Arrived is a love note to the children in our lives, letting them know that on that day, they brought with them magic, joy and wonder. They were –and are – loved.

FREE SHIPPING ON BOOKS: I received free shipping on my most recent order of books, so I am passing the savings on to you.

Until January 27 at 11:59 pm use the code "BOOKS" at checkout.

After January 27, receive free shipping when you order TWO OR MORE books, any combination of titles. Use the code "TWO OR MORE BOOKS" at checkout. This discount will apply until my current stock of books is sold out.

You can see more about "The Day You Arrived" and my other books here.

Check out more Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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A few more touches of colour, please January 14 2018

 

2017 gave us a bit of a rough ride in our house, a nightmare really, and yes, for the whole year.

Well, perhaps not the entire year. For among the bleak greys and sinister blacks and empty whites of my year, there were bursts of glorious colour, such as the blessing of family, the joy of steadfast friends and the thrill of a baby granddaughter.  

This year, I plan to focus less on the grey and black, and the blank white in between, and concentrate on the touches of colour. And honestly, I’d welcome a few more.  

May you also find many colourful touches in your life this year.

You can see my “Black, white and a touch of red” sushi plate here.

I have three children's books available that you can see here.

Check out more Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
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Happy New Year! December 31 2017



Wishing you all the best for the coming year. Gratefulness. Understanding. Compassion. Kindness. Acceptance. Inclusiveness. Forgiveness. Hope. 

I have two children's books now available here.

Check out Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see all my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

__________________________________________________
I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
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Peace on earth, good will to all December 17 2017

This Christmas and holiday season, I long for the same thing I do every year – peace on earth and good will to all.
Sending love and best wishes.
Charis

I have two children's books now available here.

Check out Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see all my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

__________________________________________________
I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
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The red buoy December 10 2017

I am from the Maritimes, so I often think in terms of tides - high and low -  and seas, both calm, and, perhaps too often, stormy.  

Often, moments and events in my life are experienced as images of the ocean - sailing away from the wharf, or landing on shore, or basking in the sun, surf and spray of the bay. And sometimes, I simply feel lost at sea. 

In the days when I feel adrift, I need a marker buoy. We all do.

It may be a belief, a person, a place, a memory or a network of friends- whatever we find that guides us, keeping us afloat when navigating harsh conditions.

The unpretentious buoy signals the best path home. Or offers a spot to anchor ourselves in the storm. 

What we find that lifts us up, keeps us from capsizing, and gives us hope that we may again find safe haven – that is our marker buoy.

You can see my painting "Red buoy" here.

I have two children's books now available that you can see here.

This year's Christmas decoration is now available here.

Check out Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see all my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

__________________________________________________
I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
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Taking a moment December 03 2017

Spring, summer and fall snuck past me this year. Life has been busy and I haven't always taken notice of my surroundings. But as I put out the garbage a few days ago, I was transported back to an April morning when I was greeted by dozens of tulips.  

In my front yard, there is no lofty garden design, simply tulips bulbs stuck into the ground in any spot where I could dig a hole. No watering. No fertilizer. Just a faint hope that the squirrels will leave a few.  And as I haven't planted any new bulbs in several years, I shouldn’t expect much.

But there they were in all their colourful glory, generously bestowing happiness.

And bestowed again, this week, when, prompted by that flash of memory, I searched out the photos I took in April. This time, I did pause, and take a long moment to savour their beauty and let my appreciation bloom within.

 

No tulip glass, but you can see my "Blue daisy" lunch plate  here.

Don’t forget - my children’s board books A Wiggle and a Waddle and The Ladybug Dance are still available here.

You can see all my paintings here.

Check out Glass by Charis pieces here

Read all blog posts here.

__________________________________________________
I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
Check back to see what I have been up to during the week.
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The Ladybug Dance November 26 2017

Life is a dance. All we must do to learn is to take one tentative, simple step at a time, until we find our rhythm. 

Of course, we can choose simply to sit on the sidelines and watch. But isn’t is so much better to shove our cares to the side, just for a minute and attempt one small move? Which will lead to another, then another, and another, until we too can “jump up in the air with nary a care.” 

It’s not about how well we dance: it’s that we make the choice to get up and move, and discover for ourselves that there is “No time for ‘can’t' – just Ladybug Dance!”

The Ladybug Dance is my second children’s board book in honour of my new granddaughter. You can see The Ladybug Dance here.

Check out my first book "A Wiggle and a Waddle" here. A new shipment of books has arrived.

This year's Christmas decoration is available here.

Check out Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see all my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

__________________________________________________
I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
Check back to see what I have been up to during the week.
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First snow November 19 2017

“Snow!” I gleefully exclaim each year on the first day I wake to find snow on the ground, and have done so since I was a child. 

When they heard me, my kids would squeal and jump out of bed, equally excited to get out into the first snow day of the season.

As they grew older, they began to smile and stretch and say, “Nice.” Then it became, “OK Mum. We heard you.” Then, “Arghh” and pull the blankets over their heads.

As adults they became sweetly tolerant of their mother, the equivalent of patting a cute puppy on the head.

But I persist. I love the first snow. I love frost on the windows. I love the crunch under my feet. I love it all — until the middle of January.  

Happy First Snow Day!

You can see my "First frost" window glass here.

You can see my new book - A Wiggle and a Waddle here. There is now a cheaper regular mail shipping option for books.

You can see all my paintings here.

Check out Glass by Charis pieces here

Read all blog posts here.

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I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
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A Wiggle and a Waddle November 12 2017 2 Comments

 

Any day now we will be welcoming our first grandchild - a girl. I know her already, in my heart, and I can hardly wait to see her little face. 

Baby Girl will take after both her loving, creative, superhero mother, and her wears-his-heart-on-his-sleeve, born-to-be-a-dad father. And she will embody some piece of all of us who have gone before her.

But what I am most looking forward to meeting is the Baby Girl that is uniquely her, encountering qualities that make us wonder, “Where did she get that from?” 

Within days of hearing the thrilling news that she is on her way, I knew I wanted to write and illustrate a book, for her.  

Writing simple words that are fun, rhythmic and tell a story is harder than I imagined. I have a couple dozen half-written concepts. 

I did, however, bring one to fruition. A Wiggle and a Waddle is a magical, fantastical bedtime story that goes through a day in the life of wee ones, in a land that seems not quite real – but, you never know.

This is my “Welcome home” love story for our baby girl.

A Wiggle and a Waddle board book is now for sale here. 

This year's Christmas decoration is now available here.

Check out Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see all my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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How do we make it stop? November 05 2017 2 Comments

My grandmother’s brother, John Stanley Corbitt, was killed in action at the Battle of the Somme.

"Few words conjure the futility and the staggering losses of the First World War like the Somme. The battle lasted five months, killed or wounded approximately 1.2 million men, and produced little gains." 
thecanadianencyclopedia.ca

"About 630,000 Canadians enlisted between 1914 and 1918 — most of them volunteers... More than 234,000 were killed or wounded."
thecanadianencyclopedia.ca

"When the fighting was finally over, no one could tell exactly how many had been killed but historians estimate that up to 10 million men lost their lives on the battlefield - and another 20 million were wounded."
news.bbc.co.uk

"The total number of deaths caused by war during the 20th Century has been estimated at 187 million and is probably higher."
ism.org.uk

The population of Canada is 36.7 million. 

We owe much to those who have given their lives. Wearing a poppy and saying “thank you” seems completely inadequate. But it is a start. 

The “war to end all wars” did not. We are left with the question – how do we make it stop? 

You can see my "Red poppy" lunch plate here.

You can see all my paintings here.

Check out Glass by Charis pieces here

Read all blog posts here.

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The gingersnap remembrance October 29 2017 7 Comments

A lot has been going on in our lives lately, not the least of which was the injury of my mother in July and her subsequent death October 3rd. Life is tough. Loss is hard. But in the middle of that sadness, we find lessons learned, memories relived and hopefully thankfulness spoken.

The printed funeral program included memories from family members. Below is what my son Jeremy wrote. 

The gingersnap rememberance
Growing up I had a grandmother. An honest, no foolin’, real-life grandmother. The kind of silver-haired grandmother who bakes cookies and fresh bread and knits by the fire. The kind of grandmother you read about in books and hear about in old nursery rhymes. A saint among grandmothers. The kind of grandmother you think every kid gets for free just for being born, but as you grow older you realize that you were one of the lucky few. 

My grandmother had a prodigious sweet tooth. She baked sweets and confections of every imaginable kind. She baked fruit cakes and lemon breads, wedding cakes and Christmas cookies. She even made sweet, tart rhubarb juice from rhubarb she grew in her own garden. The treats I remember her most for though are, without a doubt, her home made gingersnap cookies. Wafer thin and sweetened with molasses and ginger. If a grandmother’s love had a taste, this was it! 

While my grandmother’s gingersnaps came in a variety of shapes, my favourite was the little gingersnap men with their big heads and outstretched arms and legs. For in the humble gingersnap man, the eater is faced with a difficult choice. Should I snap off his arms and pop them in my mouth, or should I bite off his feet? Maybe I should dunk his head in a glass of rhubarb juice and suck out his brains! For a grandson with imagination, the possibilities were limitless. My grandmother, I noticed, often disposed of her gingersnap men in the most humane way possible; quickly and headfirst. I told you she was a saint!

It is perhaps with these little gingersnap men, that many children first begin, however unconsciously, to play at life and death, and think about the really big unknowable questions. As an adult, I imagine that in the days to come, I’ll make a batch of my grandmother’s gingersnap cookies. I’ll spend an afternoon dispatching whole battalions of gingersnap men as I contemplate her death and more importantly her life, and I shall endeavour to remember her, not just as my storied fairy tale grandmother, but to the best of my ability, on her own terms, as she was.

My grandmother was a healer. She spent the last part of her career as a nurse caring for the sick in the chemotherapy clinic of the Saint John Regional Hospital. She was an artisan and a craftswoman who filled our lives with folk art, mittens and sweaters she knit, and handmade ornaments of all kinds. She poured out her creativity like water on future generations of women in our family. My grandmother was a business woman that sold her myriad creations at craft fairs she organized, and her wedding cakes were in such demand that she was forced to turn people away.  

My grandmother loved the water. She loved to walk the ocean shores searching for beach glass, hoping for a particularly rare or ancient piece. She loved to watch her grandchildren swim in the waters of the Washademoak lake, and if you knew her well enough, you knew she had a special relationship to the water deep in the earth beneath her feet. My grandmother loved her church. The church she and my grandfather helped to build.

My grandmother was a woman, and a wife. As adults we discovered a box of love letters she had received. Imagine our surprise, we who had only known her as mother or grandmother, when we discovered that she had been involved in a life-long love affair with, of all people, my grandfather!



In one of my favourite images of her as a young woman, she could easily be mistaken for the kind of glamorous Hollywood actress that only exists in black and white photographs. It’s easy to see why my grandfather was so taken by her. One way to tell the story of their love is to cast my grandfather as the hero who bested all of his competitors to win her heart.

Another way to tell it would be that, my grandmother, faced with a crowd of suitors, surveyed the field, and chose my grandfather. Together they built a life. They were inseparable. 

After my grandfather’s death I remember being in awe of the quiet dignity and bravery my grandmother showed in the final moments of that great love story. Years later, suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, my grandmother visited with her friend Pearl in the hospital. They talked about the past and then sat quietly until her friend broke the silence, looked at my grandmother and asked the question; “No regrets?” My grandmother smiled and reached out her hand, “No regrets.”  

If at the close of my own life I’m able to look into the eyes of a trusted friend and whisper those words, then I will have learned the most important lesson my grandmother could teach me.

My grandmother loved life, and she was constantly present for all of the small beautiful moments it had to offer. She viewed all creation with unashamed wonder. Whether it was pointing out a rare bird on a nature hike, or picking berries at the side of the road with her grandchildren, she never failed to be surprised or inspired by the world around her.    

Funerals are odd things – they make children of us all, as we struggle with questions we imagine are bigger than us. There will be the usual condolences, kind words, and greeting card wisdom. There will be hugs and fellowship and I’m so-sorrys. There will be a quest for meaning. But I don’t have the language for any of that. If you are sad or grieving today, if you are weary of heart from the loss of a beloved friend, mother or grandmother, then I have no special council for you. I have no magic words or sage wisdom to heal your heart. I have only this – the beautiful life of Neta Hope Brown. That, and her recipe for gingersnap cookies. Eat and be comforted. 

Gingersnaps:
Boil 1 cup of molasses for 5 minutes and pour the boiling molasses over:
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ginger
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 cup of shortening

Add 2 cups of flour, mix and cool over night.
Roll out very thin, cut and bake at 350 degrees F.

A final word on the shape of your cookies. Of course you can cut them into any shape you wish, but in the humble opinion of this writer, the best shapes will always be those that force the eater to make difficult choices, not just about how to eat their cookie, but also how to approach life. Eat joyfully. No Regrets.       
— Jeremy (grandson)

 

Check out Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

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Happy summer! June 25 2017

 

I am off enjoying the wonders of summer. My blog will return in the fall.

Happy summer everyone!

You can see my paintings here.

Check out Glass by Charis pieces here

Read all blog posts here.

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Last dance June 18 2017

My father loved to dance. Outside of church, anytime music started, he grabbed my mother and started dancing. A dance floor wasn’t necessary – just my mother.

His dances of choice were jitterbug and foxtrot. While my mother claimed not to be able to jitterbug, they were a very handsome pair dancing a foxtrot.

The saying,
“Dance like no one is watching,
Love like you’ve never been hurt,
Sing like no one is listening,
Live like heaven on earth.”
could have been written about my parents.

Although that advice prompts us to dance like no one is watching, my father danced with eyes only for my mother.

I was fortunate enough to witness him dancing many times, and although it has been almost five years since his last dance, I can picture them still.

You can see my "Last dance" window glass here.

You can see all my paintings here.

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I'm afraid it's chronic June 11 2017 1 Comment

It is no secret that I have an as yet unnamed, undiagnosed condition.

As soon as I enter an indoor parking lot my brain shuts down, and I can no longer think or make sense of anything.

Years ago when my son was still a preteen, he was making his first flight to see his grandparents in New Brunswick by himself.

I decided to leave the car in the parking garage in the Toronto airport while I escorted him into the terminal, to see him through security. He didn’t think he needed help, but I was insistent.

Even before we entered the garage he asked me if I was sure I would be able to find my way out.

“Of course I can.” He questioned me again and again. “Do you know how to get back to the car? . . . Are you sure you can find the car?”

I kept saying “Yes, I am fine.  . . . I know where the car is.  . . .  Don’t worry about me.  . . . I know what I’m doing.”

I teased him about trying to parent me.

Even as I waved to him as he went through security, he was calling, “Are you sure you can find the car?”

“Yes, don’t worry. Have fun.”

My son was in New Brunswick before I found the car and left the garage.

Last weekend, I made a one-night trip to Edmonton. I decided to drive myself and leave the car in the airport parking garage. As soon as I drove in, I felt the symptoms of my peculiar condition overtake me. Panic, disorientation, sweaty palms, talking to myself, I was unable to tell which way the arrows were pointing, or even comprehend what “out” meant.

I accidentally found a parking spot, but I had no idea where I was, or where to find the exit to the terminal.

Parked, I photographed the post displaying the number of my parking spot. I took a photo of a post saying what floor I was on. I stepped back from the car and took a picture so I could recognize it when walking back towards it.

I walked away from the car then, though I had no idea if I was going the right way.

But, I was able to ask a nice gentleman unloading bags from his car if he knew where to go. He laughed and told me to go straight ahead, that the bridge to the terminal was on the right. He even pointed and asked if I saw it. I did.

I thanked him, just as I noticed the big sign with an arrow saying  “Terminal 1” right over my head.

I continued on with as much dignity as I could muster, to a very large glass lobby area, mentally registered that it was the entrance to the terminal – and kept on going, right past it.

My helpful fellow traveller started calling, “Hey, HEY, STOP!”

“Come back! The entrance is here.”

Oh dear. I’d done it again.

I thanked him. Tried to laugh it off and moved into Terminal 1 as quickly as possible, thinking I could outrun my embarrassment.

The next day, on my return, I took the wrong bridge back into the garage. Not only did that put me at the wrong end of the structure, it deposited me on the wrong floor.

Once on the correct floor (I have no comment about how long that took), I knew my parking spot was D35.

Never mind that it didn’t look right and I didn’t recognize anything. I assumed my condition caused me to forget what it looked like. When I finally found D35 someone had moved my car and put theirs in its place.

I took out my phone. Looked at the picture to prove my point and found that I actually parked in spot B45.

I am not going to describe the 10 minutes at the exit trying to put my paid parking stub into the credit card slot. Or how it was rejected from four different machines before I realized the machines weren’t broken. I learned that it’s not easy backing out of the exit lanes and trying to drive from one machine to another. And other drivers don’t seem to appreciate the expert maneuvers required to accomplish the feat.

I am afraid my parking garage condition is chronic. As yet, no medications or treatments have been developed. But, as always, I live in hope.

I don't have an art piece depicting a parking garage so I am showing you my "Raging glory" painting: a seascape with angels, people, creatures and other mysteries hidden in the waves and sky.

You can see my "Raging glory" painting here.

You can see all my paintings here.

Check out Glass by Charis pieces here

Read all blog posts here.

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Unfettered June 04 2017

 

We sometimes imagine a life free of fears, doubts, pain, illness, physical restrictions, loss, sadness, heartache or responsibility.

Yet we all have limitations: living totally unfettered is not actually feasible, nor even desirable.

But, there are times, - watching waves, gazing at clouds, appreciating a flowering magnolia tree, listening to children playing, letting a chocolate truffle slowly melt in your mouth, soaking up a hug, word or kindness – when, liberated from all that restrains us, we can feel perfect joy, for a moment, unfettered.

You can see my "Unfettered" painting here.

You can see all my paintings here.

Check out Glass by Charis pieces here

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Heading home May 28 2017

 

 Home: Any place of residence or refuge

When I think “residence,” I think of New Brunswick, where I grew up, or Toronto, where I have lived most of my adult life. 

But "home" is more than a place, or a dwelling. Home is where the heart finds refuge.

Our real home is the people who create a safe place for us, a soft spot to land, a port in the storm. 

And if we are extra fortunate, there are multiple places where we are welcomed home. 

You can see my "Heading home" painting here

P.S. - A very dear and long-time friend left us this week and has been welcomed into his new home. And yet, his home in our hearts remains.

You can see all my paintings here.

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

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Baby birds and hope May 21 2017

 

Ever since I discovered a robin’s nest in the roof of our carport, I have been watching it and encouraging the mother robin. “Hi Mama. How are you doing? Are your babies ok? You are doing such a great job.”

Last night I came home and there were three tiny baby robins! I could see only their heads, mouths open, beaks bobbing looking for food. “Great job, Mama! They are adorable.” I was so happy to see them and took a picture with my phone. 


Mama robin in the middle, a babe on each side and one in back

This morning I went out with my camera to try and get a better photo of the baby birds. There in the nest were three little heads lolling over the edge of the nest, beaks open but none of them moving. At all. 

I went back in the house, despondent. Ten minutes later I headed out for the day and the babies still had not moved. 

Arriving home from work, I saw the mother robin sitting in the nest. I thought “Poor thing. Her babies are dead.” 

And then I saw it – one little head bobbing with mouth open wide, then the second and the third. They weren’t dead! I was ecstatic. 

Why did it matter so much to me? Apart from the obvious reason that they are very cute, they had made real to me the idea of spring heralding new life and hope. And I thought all was lost. 

Instead, although hope can be fragile, today it is alive and well. 

You can see my, colour of a robin’s red breast, “Orange poppy” lunch plate here. Or many flowered dishes here.

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
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That moment May 14 2017 2 Comments

At some point in our lives, most of us will say or do something, and realize we are becoming our parents.

Our reaction is likely horror. But as I get older, I think “I should be so lucky.” My parents were fine examples of good human beings. I hope I inherited or learned their best traits.

Growing up, we always had a vegetable garden, fruit garden and flower gardens at our camp. There were lots of flowering bushes, wild flowers and perennials.

Our house had fewer flowers. No one would ever comment on the extravagant beauty of the flower beds, but what flowers we had and the yard were nicely manicured.

While I did excel at digging potatoes as a child, I have never been good at gardening. My yard is not manicured and the plantings are haphazard. While I appreciate the beauty of flowers and wish I had them, I have never been successful at maintaining a garden.

The moment of realization that I had more in common with my mother than I thought came one summer when she stuck plastic tulips and daffodils in the window boxes. I was both surprised and thrilled.

Now that is a role model I can aspire to!

You can see my “Purple daisy” lunch plate here. Or many flowered dishes here.

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
Check back to see what I have been up to during the week.
You can also subscribe to occasional email updates below.

Star gazing vs. navel gazing May 07 2017

 

Star gazing: a view shared with others
Navel gazing: a view shared with none

Star gazing: heads up, bodies stretching
Navel gazing: head down, body slumped

Star gazing: awe inspiring
Navel gazing: depressing

Star gazing: colour and light
Navel gazing: lint

Star gazing: possibilities
Navel gazing: defeats

Star gazing: shooting star
Navel gazing: fog

Whenever I am able, I choose to do less navel gazing and more star gazing.

You can see my “Star gazing” fractured light window glass here.

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

__________________________________________________
I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
Check back to see what I have been up to during the week.
You can also subscribe to occasional email updates below.

Gentle winds April 30 2017 1 Comment

One of the greatest gifts in my life is the people I can call upon when navigating a storm, family and friends who are simply there - listening, supporting, caring and loving.

They are the gentle winds that keep moving me forward, the soft waves that lift me up. 

In the past week, I was able to hug some of my long distance "gentle winds" and "soft waves." I am grateful and feeling blessed. 

You can see my "Gentle winds" fractured-light window glass here

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

__________________________________________________
I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
Check back to see what I have been up to during the week.
You can also subscribe to occasional email updates below.

That will have to do April 23 2017

 

Last week I ordered new prescription sunglasses. I took my time trying on frames. I wanted glasses that would be comfortable and not make me look too old. 

The sales person tried to talk me into cat eye frames. “Contemporary!” “Youthful!”  They looked “wonderful” on me, apparently. 

All I could see was my mother sporting similar frames in the 1950s. 

I realize they are current, but I felt old-fashioned in them. Also, they did not look good on me, despite what the young, enthusiastic sales person said. 

Finally, I made my choice. I thought I did well. Neither old-fashioned, nor so trendy that I look like I am trying to be a teenager. 

That night we went to a movie, The Last Word starring Shirley MacLaine.

I enjoyed the movie, but Ms. MacLaine was wearing the same glasses I had just ordered! Not exact, perhaps, but the same brand, and close enough to make me uncomfortable. 

Shirley MacLaine is 20 years older than me. Yes, she is a movie star, famous, rich – but regardless, two decades older! 

So, trendy and current I am not. But I can see. And that will have to do. 

You may wonder what new eyeglasses have to do with my “Magnolia tree” flower vase. Nothing! But you can see it here. :-)

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

__________________________________________________
I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
Check back to see what I have been up to during the week.
You can also subscribe to occasional email updates below.

Happy Easter April 16 2017

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I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
Check back to see what I have been up to during the week.
You can also subscribe to occasional email updates below.

Rest April 09 2017

 

Recently I posted blank canvasses, standing on easels in my studio, as I had decided to do nothing. But I moved past my “nothing” day, and since, have been working on a new painting. 

My plan was a scene featuring a harbour and bridge, with houses, stars, moon, moody blues. 

As I picked up my brush, I changed my mind. I felt the need to do something pastoral, with trees and mountains realistically rendered.

But the more I worked, the more Impressionistic it became. In the process, sky, trees, sand and water took over my imagined scene. 

I added lots of colour, intense strokes of blue, orange, and red, creating a poster-like effect. But still feeling the need for something more peaceful, I changed direction again and removed the bright colours.

The designer in me, meanwhile, felt compelled to add a focal point, that the piece should say something. 

One after another, elements added to create interest were then removed – seagulls on the beach, posts in the water with a bird perched on one, waves crashing on the shore. I was set to add the bow of a rowboat just barely entering the scene from the bottom right corner, the rower remaining a mystery.  

I usually try to tell a story within my work, and include a touch of a mystery, where the viewer can read in their own reality or imaginings. 

But as I stood with paint and brush in hand, examining the canvasses that started their journey as “nothing”, I realized I didn’t want a story, a mystery or a focal point: I want rest. 

My “Rest” painting is not for sale. 

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

__________________________________________________
I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
Check back to see what I have been up to during the week.
You can also subscribe to occasional email updates below.

Broken or beautiful? April 02 2017 1 Comment

On one recent day, my kiln began malfunctioning. 

Kilns are programmed to follow a precise schedule of heating, processing and cooling to outcome one wants without shocking the glass and causing it to break.  Programs vary according to what we are trying to accomplish. Precise programming, learned through trial and error, is important.

My kiln began ignoring my instructions. It would begin the fusing program I laid out, but at some unpredictable point, it would stop. The glass would be shocked and break. But then the kiln would restart, complete the entire schedule I had programmed, and my broken glass would fuse together again. 

That is how my “Purple moon” fractured-light window glass came to be. 

“Purple moon” reminds me that most of us have suffered some sort of physical or emotional shock or injury that has left us feeling broken.

In time, though we may heal, we will likely always carry a scar. 

So are we broken or beautiful? 

I say “both.” 

You can see my scarred but beautiful “Purple moon” fractured-light window glass here. Purple moon's scar is about halfway up the piece and runs in a jagged line one side to the other.

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

__________________________________________________
I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
Check back to see what I have been up to during the week.
You can also subscribe to occasional email updates below.

 


Red sky at night March 26 2017

The saying I learned as a child was,
“Red sky at night, sailors’ delight;
red sky in morning, sailors take warning.”

Another version speaks of “red sun”.

In either version, the warning is clear, yet hard to take seriously, since the majesty of a red sunset and the beauty of a red sunrise seem equally glorious. 

How could one be a delight and the other a warning?

Yet, history and weather science support the observation that a red sky in the morning is likely to be followed by rough seas during the day. 

While most of us do not fish for a living, we do sail through uncharted seas, with many colourful things, people, events and experiences. Discerning which promise delight and which are a warning calls for wisdom. Like seafarers of old, we draw on shared experience and our own instincts. I wish for you only red skies at night. 

You can see my “Sailors take warning” painting here.

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

__________________________________________________
I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
Check back to see what I have been up to during the week.
You can also subscribe to occasional email updates below.

Nothing March 19 2017 1 Comment

 

It is time to write a new blog post but like the canvasses in my studio, my mind is blank.

Not in an overwhelmed, frantic, “I don’t know what to do” way, but rather, in a restful “I don’t have to think about anything right now” way.

For the first time in several weeks, I sit in my studio with my graphic design work caught up, no urgent needs at home and nothing I particularly must or should or want to do at this moment.

So, I am going to do nothing. Say nothing. Think nothing. Plan nothing. And let my mind stay blank for just a little while.

Like Seinfeld, this blog post is about nothing.

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

__________________________________________________
I try to post a new blog every Sunday morning. 
Check back to see what I have been up to during the week.
You can also subscribe to occasional email updates below.

It all comes out in the painting March 12 2017 1 Comment

 

For various reasons, recent weeks have been somewhat chaotic. 

One reason is that I was diagnosed with viral vertigo. It’s not serious and will resolve itself, but I sometimes find myself acting like a drunken sailor - wobbly, lightheaded, light sensitive, unsure of my place in space and just generally off. 

I tried to carry on as usual; I continued to do graphic design projects, produce glass and paint until family illness took all my attention. 

For two weeks I worked on a new painting - a dyptych measuring 48” x 36”. 

My process has two stages – laying down an under-painting, and then pouring and manipulating several gel/paint layers on top. 

When I started the painting I was going for a sunset scene, with serene sailboats skimming across the water. As the two weeks went by, the painting became an unintended biography of my life during that time. 

I tend to think that I can control my world, keep things to myself and only reveal to people what I want them to know. But usually, it all comes out in the painting. 

My “Vertigo” painting is not for sale. 

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.