Musing on fusing

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. :-)

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Happy Easter April 16 2017

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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It's never too hokey March 05 2017 1 Comment

I wrote a blog for Valentine's Day a few weeks ago, but wasn't able to post on the day. Because it is even more meaningful to me now, I am sharing it today.

Some feel that Valentine’s Day is hokey and forced. 

That may be but it’s a good thing to be reminded that we are lucky to love, and be loved, in a world where so many are not.

It is never too hokey to show our love and appreciation to those we are blessed to have in our lives. It’s just that we should be doing it every day, not only on February 14. 

So - thank you for being in my life. For your love, hugs and constant care. You will never fully know the depth of my gratitude and love for you all. 

You can see my “Pink hearts” lunch plate here

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Serenity now January 29 2017

 

I have become a news addict. 

No longer am I content to check the news on my phone in the morning and on TV at night. I am driven to check throughout the day as well - Facebook, CNN, CP24, Twitter, TV newscasts, news radio. Anywhere. All the time. 

My head and heart are bloated with useless, depressing, alarming, sad and unhealthy “information.”

I really need to go on a news diet. 

Maybe I will I limit myself to just five minutes of news a day. Or perhaps I will quit cold turkey.

I need serenity, now, so I have loaded my iPad with ten new books - all fiction, heartwarming and meant to lift my spirits. 

While I seek serenity, perhaps you will let me know if anything truly important happens. 

You can see my calming “Aqua vine” platter here

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Sometimes it can take a while January 22 2017

I have a new fitness tracker, my second, and a different brand than the first. 

The new tracker is great, but in several small ways it seemed not to be as good as my original one. I thought, “Oh well, I can get used to it and I don’t really need the features it is missing.”

After a few days, I realized that not only does the new tracker perform all the functions my old one did, but it does them better. The more I used the device, the more I understood how it worked. My judgment, I realized, had been premature.   

But then, many things in life must be lived with for a while before we can truly understand and appreciate them.  

You can see my "Red S" platter here.

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It's time January 15 2017

 

It has been a very busy couple of months. While nothing unusual is going on, it has felt like I have too many balls in the air. 

Last week I was immersed in graphic design work - long days, every day. It is satisfying and interesting. But I don't think I have noticed the world around me since last weekend, or possibly longer. 

It's time. Time to enjoy a little girl's birthday party. Time to celebrate the best part of life, my family. Time to sit back, gaze into the sky and breathe. 

You can see my "Sky over bay" bowl here

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Soft whispers of hope January 08 2017

The start of a new year is often associated with lots of ill-founded optimism.

We want this new year to be better than the previous. We want to lose weight, exercise more, improve our health, enjoy richer relationships, gain more wealth. 

When I was a young teen my mother told me that her favourite hymn was “Whispering Hope.”

That was unsurprising - her name is Hope. 

But there is more to it than that. 

My mother has always known the softness of an angel’s voice, the whispers of her comforting words. And she lives with the hope “for the sunshine tomorrow.”

My wish for all of us this year is that we will hear the soft whispers of hope. 

You can listen to Hayley Westenra’s version of “Whispering Hope” here. 
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xckq49_hayley-westenra-whispering-hope-liv_music

The lyrics are below. 

Happy New Year everyone!

You can see my “Her flower garden” platter here

“Whispering Hope”
by Septimus Winner (this version by Jim Reeves)

Soft as the voice of an angel
Breathing a lesson unheard
Hope with a gentle persuasion
Whispers a comforting word.

Wait, till the darkness is over
Wait, till the tempest is done
Hope, for the sunshine tomorrow
After the darkness is gone.

Whispering hope,
Oh how welcome Thy voice
Making my heart
Any sorrow rejoice.

If in the dusk of the twilight
Dimmed be the region afar
Will not the deepening darkness
Brightin’ the glittering star.

Then when the night is upon us
Why should the heart sink away
When the dark midnight is over
Watch for the breaking of day.

Whispering hope,
Oh how welcome Thy voice
Making my heart
Any sorrow rejoice...

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Happy New Year!!!! December 31 2016


Merry Christmas! December 24 2016

May you see the angels everywhere.

 


Joyful, joyful December 18 2016

The movie Sister Act 2 may be a little hokey (that is, the kind of movie I often like) but the Lauryn Hill version of “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” is both jubilant and Christmassy. Who cares if it’s technically not a Christmas carol?

You can enjoy it here. https://youtu.be/OaEH1e_DLm0

Wishing each and every one of you a joyful Christmas season, brimming with gratitude and love.

You can see my "Joyful splendour" bowl here.

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Run toward the sun December 11 2016

 

My niece gave me a card (created by Melanie Poirier) that featured artwork urging us to “Run toward the sun to take down a ray of light.” 

I instantly felt the idea without thinking. It felt warm, encouraging, active and optimistic. 

Sometimes I wish things were different. Or hope they will get better. Or yearn for something lost. But wishing, hoping and yearning help nothing. Passivity is, however, easy.

Yet running toward the sun to take down a ray of light exhilarates, thrills, brightens and satisfies. So, if you will excuse me, I think I will try going for a run – that ray of light is out there.

You can see my painting “The hills roll” here

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Cold December 04 2016

In 1996, my oldest son wrote the following article and won first place for Feature Writing in the province-wide Toronto Star High School Newspaper Awards. Sadly, 20 years later, not much has changed, except the names.

A EULOGY FOR EUGENE 
by Jeremy Tobias

At a core temperature of 33 degrees Celsius you become drowsy and lethargic. Because of restricted peripheral blood flow, which causes a loss of motor skills, you are unable to perform any simple tasks like zipping up your coat or tying your shoelaces. You are clumsy and your speech is slurred. You begin to shiver violently. Your behaviour is apathetic.

At a core temperature of 30 degrees you fall, crashing down on to the cold pavement, no longer able to stand. You curl into the fetal position to conserve body heat. Due to frostbite, ice crystals begin to form in the cells of your pale, puffy skin. The shivering comes in waves now and more violent than before. Finally, in an effort to conserve glucose, you stop shivering altogether. Carbon dioxide and lactic acid build up in your muscles, causing them to become stiff and rigid. Your pupils dilate. Your pulse slows.

At 28 degrees your body tries to hibernate, shutting down all peripheral blood flow. Your heart rate and your breathing slow. When your body's core temperature is 24 degrees Celsius you reach a state known as "metabolic icebox." You look dead – your skin and lips are blue – but you're not. You are still alive, trapped inside your stiff motionless body. Your breathing is erratic and shallow. You are only semiconscious of what is going on around you. Finally, mercifully, your heart stops.

This is what you would have experienced if you had suffered Eugene Upper's fate on the night of January 5, 1996. Eugene spent the night in a bus shelter on Spadina Avenue in an effort to escape the bitter cold, but because he had been drinking he was especially susceptible to the effects of hypothermia. He had no blanket and wore no hat or gloves; all he had to protect him from the cold was a coat that was barely adequate for winter use. Eugene was found the next morning, literally frozen to death. He was fifty-six when he died.

Eugene's death begs for answers to many frightening questions. Why didn't anybody help him? Where were the police? Wouldn't they notice a man sleeping in the cold with nothing to protect him from the frost? And where was the T.T.C.? Buses run along the Spadina route until 2 A.M. and then start up again at 6 A.M. How can it be that Eugene wasn't noticed by anyone until eight o'clock the next morning when he was found dead? The obvious answer is that Eugene was not noticed because nobody bothered to pay any attention to him.

I find it impossible to come up with any rational explanation as to why people freeze to death in a wealthy North American city like Toronto. It defies logic. But the predictable fact remains that every winter, homeless men and women die on the streets because you and I don't take the time to notice them or their situation. They are effectively ostracized to death by an uncaring city.

I wish I could say for sure that if I had come across Eugene that night I would have helped him. I wish I could say that I would have given him a blanket and something hot to drink, or helped him find a warmer place to sleep. But the reality is that I don't know how I would have reacted. It's entirely possible that I, like many people, might have seen him lying there and wondered if I should have done something but in the end decided to do nothing.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with one of Eugene's friends. Every Saturday night, as part of the city-wide Out of the Cold program, Blythwood Road Baptist Church opens its doors to the men and women who live in Toronto's homeless community. Eugene was a regular at Blythwood. It was there in a church basement that I first came to know Mike and where I met with him to discuss Eugene Upper. Mike is  thin, uncommonly joyful man (uncommon given his current situation), who always wears a small silver and black crucifix around his neck. Based on our conversation there are a few things about Eugene I would like to clarify.

Eugene Upper was not a vagrant or a transient. Eugene Upper was not just another faceless bum on the streets of Toronto. He was a flesh and blood, living, feeling human being who didn't deserve the fate he received. He was a member of a community, and though he mostly kept to himself, he had friends who now mourn him. Yes, Eugene often found comfort in a bottle, in fact the night that he died he passed out in his supper plate at the Scott Mission. But you would drink too, to fight the cold, or if you had to live Eugene's life. 

Mike believes that Eugene may not have even tried to make it to the Out of the Cold program or any other shelter because he had been drinking. He may have feared that he wouldn't be accepted, although no one would have refused him – Eugene was not an aggressive man. 

In a tragic sort of way Mike is relieved at Eugene's passing. "I know that he (Eugene) is in a place where there is no suffering or tears," he says, "but on the other hand, I will miss him."

I would like to thank my friend Mike. This article could not have been written without his help.

Dedicated to the memory of Eugene Upper. 

________________________________________

Here is a link to another great article about the Out of the Cold program written by our friend Larry Matthews for the Globe and Mail. 
Well worth the read.

________________________________________

You can see my painting "Cold" here.

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I can fly November 27 2016 1 Comment

 “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”  – J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Year-by-year in life, we tend to take on more responsibility, for family, career, finances, the community we live in and the causes we care about.

We embrace the responsibility, making life choices that create security and because providing for family, being a good citizen, saving for our later years and setting an example for our children is important. But sometimes, we may find that we have forgotten to dream. We can let visions from the heart and soul go by the wayside in favour of what is safe and fits our notion of what is ‘responsible.’ 

That’s not wrong, just one-dimensional. Being responsible doesn’t fully feed the soul.

I want to continue to dream about the seemingly impossible and strive for what is likely unattainable. 

I want to believe that I still can fly because if I don’t, it is certain that I won’t.  

You can see my "Red/orange birds in flight" vase here.

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A Charlie Brown Christmas November 20 2016

When many of us visualize Christmas, we see a Norman Rockwell scene in our mind.

We fervently believe that if we have the whole family gathered, each in their most polite and festive moods, surrounding perfectly wrapped gifts placed under a magnificent tree adorned with the most glittering colour-coordinated ornaments, massive arrays of twinkling lights, beautiful uplifting carols, sweet-scented candles, exquisite gourmet food, a roaring wood fire and gently falling snow - THEN - Christmas will be perfect. 

In truth, we are more likely to have a Charlie Brown Christmas than the Norman Rockwell fantasy. 

Not everyone will be in the best mood. Some may be late. The gifts aren’t all designer wrapped. The tree is tied to the wall to keep it from falling over. The angel lists at a 45-degree angle in a torn robe. A set of lights are burned out. The ornaments are a hodgepodge of childhood memories and bits and pieces that have survived the poorly packed boxes from last year. The music choice and volume may be in dispute. The scented candles are giving you a headache. The turkey falls apart when removed from the oven. The roaring fire is a channel on the television. It’s raining. 

And it’s perfect. 

You can see my "Charlie Brown Christmas tree" ornaments here.

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Rocky mountain splendour November 13 2016

Life delivers unexpected twists and turns, some good, some not so good. None of us are exempt.

Likewise, at some point, we all need help. For many of us support is hard to accept, and more difficult still to ask for.

Yet like a rocky mountain, the twists and the turns, the ups and the downs are made bearable by the splendour of love from those around us.

You can see my "Rocky mountain splendour" bowl here.

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Patting my head and rubbing my belly November 06 2016 1 Comment

I am clumsy. You likely know that. 

Last spring I sprained my ankle, as I do every year or two. Last summer I broke my foot - the other foot. I just fall off my feet while walking. 

I own crutches, two boots for sprains and breaks, and two walking sticks made by a dear friend out of concern and pity. 

Four months ago, in the middle of the night, I fell in the bathroom and smashed my face on the tub. When I woke up on the tile floor, I looked like I had lost a fist fight.

So far this month I have cut my thumb with a paring knife and stabbed myself with a putty knife. While getting fresh band aids for those small discomforts I brought my head up underneath the open medicine cabinet and peeled off what looked like half of my forehead.

Those are just the highlights: ‘clumsy’ may not cover it. 

So I enrolled in Tai Chi classes. My goal is to improve my balance, posture and focus.  

While I am practicing lots, some of the moves are like patting my head and rubbing my belly at the same time, which I never have been able to do. 

But I take pleasure in almost doing some of the simplest moves correctly. And so far, no mishaps. 

Wish me luck!

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Sing October 30 2016

I had never heard of Florence Foster Jenkins (1868-1944) until I went to the movie by the same name (starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant). It was a delicious window into her later years and well worth seeing. Her story is a profound lesson in living well. 

Ms. Jenkins originally was a pianist, but after an arm injury she was no longer able to play. Her love of music expression turned to singing opera. 

Wikipedia reports these details.
“According to published reviews and other contemporary accounts, Jenkins’s acknowledged proficiency at the piano did not translate well to her singing. She is described as having great difficulty with such basic vocal skills as pitch, rhythm, and sustaining notes and phrases.

“In recordings, her accompanist Cosmé McMoon can be heard making adjustments to compensate for her constant tempo variations and rhythmic mistakes, but there was little he could do to conceal her inaccurate intonation. She was consistently flat, and sometimes deviated from the proper pitch by as much as a semitone. Her diction was similarly substandard, particularly with foreign-language lyrics.

“The difficult operatic solos that she chose to perform—all well beyond her technical ability and vocal range—served only to emphasize these deficiencies; and, paradoxically, to enhance her popularity. The opera impresario Ira Siff, who dubbed her ‘the anti-Callas’, said, ‘Jenkins was exquisitely bad, so bad that it added up to quite a good evening of theater ... She would stray from the original music, and do insightful and instinctual things with her voice, but in a terribly distorted way. There was no end to the horribleness ...’ “

Ms. Jenkins gave many vocal recitals starting in 1912, wearing elaborately garish costumes that she created. At the age of 76, in 1944, she agreed to give a recital at Carnegie Hall.

The event sold out weeks in advance; an estimated 2,000 people were reported to have been turned away at the door.

Although her fans adored her, the reviews were awful.

Many treated the event as comedy. It is not clear if she was in on the joke, but I like to think that she was. 

Regardless, she was not deterred.

“People may say I can’t sing,” she once said, “but no one can ever say I didn’t sing.”

You can see my "Water song" sushi plate here.

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And turn your eyes around October 23 2016

 

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,

And turn your eyes around,

Where waving woods and waters wild

Do hymn an autumn sound.

The summer sun is faint on them —

The summer flowers depart —

Sit still — as all transform’d to stone, Except your musing heart.

                                                Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1833)

 

The imagery of this poem brings me to the edge of weeping. I am in awe of these words that let me see what is not before my eyes, smell what isn’t present and feel what I was not aware of one moment before.

So I will try to sit quietly, to turn my eyes around, listen with intent, and be still – except for my musing heart.

Please enjoy the complete poem “The Autumn” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning below.

You can see my “Fall trees” vase here.

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THE AUTUMN
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1833)

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them —
The summer flowers depart —
Sit still — as all transform’d to stone,
Except your musing heart.

How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.

Oh! like that wind, is all the mirth
That flesh and dust impart:
We cannot bear its visitings,
When change is on the heart.
Gay words and jests may make us smile,
When Sorrow is asleep;
But other things must make us smile,
When Sorrow bids us weep!

The dearest hands that clasp our hands, —
Their presence may be o’er;
The dearest voice that meets our ear,
That tone may come no more!
Youth fades; and then, the joys of youth,
Which once refresh’d our mind,
Shall come — as, on those sighing woods,
The chilling autumn wind.

Hear not the wind — view not the woods;
Look out o’er vale and hill —
In spring, the sky encircled them —
The sky is round them still.
Come autumn’s scathe — come winter’s cold —
Come change — and human fate!
Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound,
Can ne’er be desolate.

 


We are a fall forest October 16 2016

 

For me, fall is the freshest, most beautiful, most engaging and exciting time of the year. 

The colours, the air, the wind in the trees, the harvest - brilliant!

A forest in shades of green is indeed beautiful but a forest boasting rich reds, golden yellows, calming greens and vibrant oranges is breathtaking.  

We Canadians are a living breathing landscape, a myriad of ethnicities, fresh ideas, beautiful traditions and varied languages. 

We are a fall forest. 

You can see my “A fall forest” bowl here

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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Talking about love October 09 2016

 

From the moment we are born, we exist within the circle of life. It’s a never ending dance of hellos and good-byes, joys and sorrows, youth and age. 

Every parent, aunt, uncle or grandparent comes to a moment of realization that the small child we nurtured, loved and cared for is now able to stand on their own. 

Gradually, it dawns on us that the child is no longer just the young one but a peer, an adult with whom we can share ideas and dreams and truths.

Then comes a day, shocking perhaps, when we recognize that the no-longer-child is actively thinking about how to support and care for us, as we always cared for them. 

For the fortunate, the circle of life is a cycle of love and care and gratitude. If we see it at work, we are indeed lucky. 

You can see my “Talking about love” window glass here

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

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A blooming meadow October 02 2016 1 Comment

 

To me, the view from within our family always seemed splendid - a mixed garden of fertile minds and colourful personalities. 

But now, it is virtually a blooming meadow.  

Our family carries forward strains of our English, Irish, Scottish, Dutch, Romanian and Lebanese forebears. In recent years, it has expanded, with loved ones that add Slovac, Italian, Korean, French, Chinese, Tobagonian, and more.

The varieties of traditions, life experiences and viewpoints add richness we wouldn’t otherwise even imagine. 

And the food! Just ponder the possibilities. 

I love the view of this blooming spring meadow, colourful, thrilling and ever expanding. 

You can see my “Blooming meadow” bowl here

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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Seeing isn't necessarily seeing September 25 2016

 

My son and his cousin were best friends and just two years old. My son was laid back, easy-going and slightly clandestine. His cousin was more vocal and visibly determined. He may have sometimes taken the fall for my son’s orchestrations. 

One day my nephew threw a traditional temper tantrum, possibly provoked by something my son did. My nephew found his mother in the kitchen, threw himself on the floor in front of her, and flailed and cried.

My son watched. 

Later, my son came in the kitchen where I was. He waited for me to turn and look, and then threw himself on the floor, kicking and screaming.

I laughed so hard, I cried. 

It was side-splitting because that was not his personality; he lacked conviction and passion. Then too, he didn’t realize that he was supposed to demand something. I was supposed to say no. And then he was supposed to put on his little show. 

My son then stood up, shrugged as if to say “I don’t understand what he gets out of that” and walked away. 

When things are observed only through our own lens, we may be missing the most important piece to truly “get” what is going on.

You can see my "Morning glory" sushi plate here.

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

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Somewhere between the sky and the deep blue sea September 18 2016


I’ve detected a space that floats between the sky and the deep blue sea. Sometimes, that’s where reality resides. But more often, the in-between is the home of dreams.

I often dream at night, of course.  But most of my dreams, visions, ideas and fantasies happen when I am fully awake and aware. 

My dreams are usually colourful, happy, melodic and rich. 

But every story, every life has scary bits. To a reader, it’s good storytelling. To the sleeper, it’s a nightmare. 

So why do I sometimes let the nightmares be my reality and the cheerful, fanciful, glorious bits merely dreams? Am I not the teller of my own story?

From time to time it becomes necessary to peer into the space between the sky and the deep blue sea and see all that I am privileged to experience . . .  joy, love, kindness, beauty . . .   and realize that I am living the dream. 

Photo by Jeremy Tobias, St. Martins, NB, 2016

 

Photo by Jana Lacova, St. Martins, NB, 2016

 

Photo by James Tobias, St. Martins, NB, 2016

 

Photo by Alicia Tobias, St. Martins, NB, 2016

 

Photo by Jana Lacova, St. Martins, NB, 2016

 

Photo by James Tobias, St. Martins, NB, 2016

 

Photo by Jeremy Tobias, St. Martins, NB, 2016

 

Photo by Alicia Tobias, St. Martins, NB, 2016

You can see my “In the depths of the sea” bowl here

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

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A pageant of opposites September 11 2016 1 Comment

Sometimes life is a pageant of opposites and seemingly conflicting sights and emotions. 

Good. Bad. 

Happy. Sad. 

Calm. Storm. 

Sunshine. Fog. 

Beautiful. Stark. 

Peaceful. Chaotic. 

Freedom. Confined. 

Our summer contained all of those. 

When reading that list what likely stands out is:

Bad. 

Sad. 

Storm. 

Fog. 

Stark. 

Chaotic. 

Confined. 

In truth, when I consciously look, I realize I am one of the lucky ones, because my life's pageant also includes:

Goodness. 

Happiness. 

Tranquility. 

Sunshine. 

Beauty. 

Peace. 

Freedom. 

And LOVE.  

You can see my "Fire and ice" sushi plate here

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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Happy summer! June 26 2016

Summer is calling to me. I will resume blogging in the fall. Happy summer everyone.


Just for the joy of it June 19 2016

I think balance is the path to health, both physical and emotional. And I think a little self-indulgence once in a while does wonders for our morale.

So recently I went on a creative blitz for our home. Shimmering, colourful glass now sparkles in many of our windows, just for the joy of it.

A five-piece series in the front porch
A four-piece series in the front porch
A five-piece stacked tree series by the front door
Poppies in the kitchen
A heart in the bedroom
A gathering of people in wreath form for the living room
You can see some of my window glass that is for sale here.
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Dearly beloved June 12 2016

I love the words “dearly beloved.” Traditionally they are heard at the beginning of weddings and funerals, as friends and families gather to celebrate or mourn or both. 

There is comfort and joy in the “dearly beloved,” richness in the oneness, strength in the togetherness. 

We yearn for our beloved and our beloved long for us. Each of us is inextricably linked to the others, the familiar words underscoring what binds us together.

“Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today to ...”

You can see my “Dearly beloved” window glass here

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

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At the end of the day June 05 2016

“End of day” glass, The Glass Encylopedia reports, were items glassworkers made “in their own time at the end of the day, using up the remaining molten glass in the pots.” Often, the pieces – also called “friggers” - were a mixture of many colours, and often had an element of fun, such as walking sticks or animals made of glass. Glassworkers made them both for their own homes, and for sale. 

My version of “end of day glass” is made with fragments of pieces that had been fired but didn’t work for various reasons. 

After I broke failed projects into shards and lumps, and fired them once again in a new configuration, a gloriously rich bowl emerged from the kiln – a reminder that I should never give up when things don’t turn out the way I would like the first time. 

Perhaps many of the best things in life arise from seeming failures - at the end of the day. 

You can see my "End of day glass" bowl here.

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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The wilder, the better May 29 2016

Isn’t it great when Mother Nature does her thing without any interference from us?

Every year when we travel to New Brunswick, we hope to arrive in time to see the lupin spectacle. 

 

Lupins are wild. Breathtaking. Self sufficient. And prolific. They are a gift, free of charge - another reason to be grateful.

When it comes to lupins, the wilder, the better. 

You can see my “Lupins sway” sushi plate here

See my “Lupins” platter here

See my “Lupins” coasters here

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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Let it go May 22 2016 2 Comments

In my never-ending struggle with personal stress and anxiety – often self-induced – I am always looking for new ways to control it. Of course, controlled stress or anxiety is an oxymoron. If I could control it, I wouldn’t be stressed or anxious. 

My newest self-prescribed antidote is the song “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen. I have never seen the movie, but the seven-year-old me loves the song.

I bought four versions of the song. My favourite is by Demi Lovato, but I also get a great lift from the original by Idina Menzel, the wonderful Pentatonix version, and the instrumental rendition by The Piano Guys perfect for no-audience karaoke.

I take my four “Let It Go” songs in the car with me. Turn them up full volume. Sing badly at the top of my lungs - and let “it” go. 

Try it. You may be surprised at how well it works.

You can see all my Free as a bird” pendants here.

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

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Here comes the sun May 15 2016

Don’t you just love sunsets and sunrises? Such spectacular displays of glory.

As it gets warmer, I find myself bouncing to The Beatles tune “Here Comes The Sun.” You too can listen and bounce to it here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6GNEEi7x4c.

In celebration of imminent spring and summer, here are some of my favourite sunrise and sunset photos.


Sunrise, New Zealand

 


Sunrise, New Zealand

 


Sunrise, Iceland

 


Sunset, Alaska

 


Sunset, Florida

 


Sunset, Rimouski, QC

 


Sunrise, Percé, QC

 


Sunset, Percé, QC

 


Sunset, Rothesay, NB

 


Sunset, Rothesay, NB

 


Sunset, St. Martins, NB

 


Sunset, St. Martins, NB

You can see my “Sunset” coasters here.

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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Mothering May 08 2016

“Mother” is a noun. The word doesn’t actually say anything about a person except for their place in genealogy. 

The verb “to mother” is much more powerful. How we nurture our children not only shapes their lives but also how they learn to live – to care, love, respond and give back to the world, affecting us all, including future generations.

Mothering is a gift. We expect it from our biological/adopted mothers and, sometimes, fathers. But it can also be given by a sister, an aunt, a cousin, a friend, a brother, a teacher, a grandparent, a neighbour -  anyone trustworthy and willing to step into the empty space when needed. 

Bless you each and every one. Happy Mothering Day.  

You can see my “Green with puff balls” square bowl here

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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Free as a bird May 01 2016 2 Comments

I used to have a recurring dream. In my dream I would lie down on the air and float and fly. It could happen outside in almost any location. My favourite was in a country field. I didn’t fly very high – about the height of a house. I could do it indoors as well – just lean forward on the air and float to the ceiling.

The feeling of freedom and joy was spectacular.

People in my dream would ask how I did that. I would tell them to just trust the air. Lean forward and the air will catch you and then you can rise and soar. I would show them. Although I tried to help them, no one was ever able to join me in the sky. 

I loved that dream. I dreamed it regularly for years, but then, less frequently. Today I can’t recall when I last could fly.

I am sure theories abound as to why I would repeatedly dream of flying. I think the dream came because I was lucky. It made me happy. 

I felt as free as a bird.

You can see my “Free as a bird 1” sushi plate here.

And my “Free as a bird 2” sushi plate here.

NOTE: You can get free shipping until May 6 on everything in the store by entering the code "FREE SHIPPING" during check out.

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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Hills and valleys April 24 2016 3 Comments

Life is full of hills and valleys. As we get older, the valleys seem deeper. But great beauty can be found in the valleys.

Five years ago my husband went into cardiac arrest. It was a shocking and terrible time for our family and friends. Just when you think you can’t breathe or go another step, the real beauty of the valley reveals itself. 

The bond created within our whole extended family, supporting each other and caring for each other made us privileged guests of the valley. We were all broken and yet the beauty surrounding us as we loved and held on to each other can only be experienced in the valley. As we worked together giving care during Rick’s recovery, the valley continued to reveal its beauty. 

The next year when my father passed away, we again journeyed deeply into the valley. I will always remember the following days, my nieces, nephews and my own kids looking at photos, telling stories and laughing creating a rainbow over the valley, loving, supporting, remembering.

The hills of life are spectacular, but true beauty is found in the valleys.

Although already sold, you can still see my “Hills and valleys” bowl here.

P.S. - This blog was already set up when I got word that a longtime friend had just lost her husband. Much love to her and their daughters as they walk through the deepest of valleys. xo

NOTE: You can get free shipping until May 6 on everything in the store by entering the code "FREE SHIPPING" during check out.

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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Dream on April 17 2016

When we are young, we spend lots of time dreaming. We dream of adventures, toys, parties, treats – fun of all kinds.

As we age our dreams change, but remain a force in our lives. We dream of education, love, and achievements, of jobs, causes, children, homes, and material things. We make sharing our dreams and ideas with others a regular part of our social lives. 

We dream, and plan, and work toward each goal, until the day we realize that either we have achieved what we set out to do or it is no longer possible. 

I always need to be working toward something, pushing myself to do what I haven’t done before. I want to dream and imagine what could or should be. 

So, what do I want to be when I grow up? What does the next chapter of my life look like? I have no idea.

As time pushes on, the dreaming space seems smaller, the possibilities fewer. But I am determined to dream on.

You can see my “Dream catcher” platter here.

NOTE: You can get free shipping until May 6 on everything in the store by entering the code "FREE SHIPPING" during check out.

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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I don't see no hill April 10 2016

My pre-school aged son and I were walking on an errand one day. He was getting tired and wanted to know how much farther. I told him just past the tree and over the hill. 

He said “I don’t see no hill. “

Correcting him, I said “I don’t see ANY hill.”

He said “Me neither.”

Hearing and communicating are not always the same thing. I thought I was making a point to my son. He heard me agreeing with him. 

Grammar aside, my son couldn’t see past the big tree on the hill. I couldn’t see the tree for the hill. I think he got it right. 

You can see my “Apple tree” (on the hill) bowl here.

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One of the days I went berserk April 03 2016

I was nine when we embarked on one of our many road trips. This time we drove across Canada to Alberta to visit my aunt, uncle and cousins. 

A major highlight was the Calgary Stampede. 

My adventuresome 11-year-old brother was always up for anything and headed to the roller coaster, one not as big as major parks offer today, but no children’s ride either.

I was determined to go with him, even though the merry-go-round was more my speed.  

My parents tried to talk me out of it. They knew I was timid about such things. But I insisted that I wanted to go. Yes, I ‘m sure. No, I’m not afraid. Of course I’m old enough. Brave enough. Big enough. If Paul was allowed to go, I should be allowed to go too. 

They relented. 

Excited, we ran toward the ride, which loomed larger the closer we got. I was no longer so certain that I wanted to do this.

As we climbed the stairs, serious doubts set in. But I had been emphatic.  I said I wasn’t afraid. I lied. 

We got in our seats, secured only by a bar we pulled down across our laps. Now I was very clear: I did not want to be there in that seat. 

I looked down at my parents watching us from the ground and thought that would be a perfect time for them to put a foot down and forbid me from doing this. They didn’t. 

The car lurched up the incline. In full view of my parents and everyone else, I went berserk.

With Herculean strength I pushed that safety bar up. Paul struggled to hold it down. But I started to climb out of the seat. By the time we were at the top of the hill, I had one leg over the edge: I was getting off that ride.  

Paul, my hero, threw caution to the wind, grabbed me and pulled me back in. He literally held me down in that seat as I struggled against him, pushing him, crying and screaming “LET ME GO! I AM GETTING OFF!” 

“Horrified” is not nearly enough to describe for what my parents felt as they witnessed my meltdown. They thought I was going to jump to my death. Death wasn’t my intention, but jumping was. 

Paul held on to me with all his might. I continued to struggle against him. 

The ride, of course, included more than one loop. As we blazed through the starting point I was screaming at the attendants “LET ME OFF! STOP!”

‘Round we went again.

Paul had a new cowboy hat. He was very proud of that hat. Faced, with the choice between keeping his hat from blowing off or saving my life, he chose me. I will be forever grateful. 

We all need people who are there for us when we lose our minds, who save us from ourselves. Lucky for me, I have several. Fortunately, most haven’t been tested - yet.

You can see my “wild and free” bowl here. I like to think of myself as somewhat of a free spirit but I have never been wild - just a little berserk, here and there. 

BTW – Someone at the back of the roller coaster caught Paul’s hat in mid-air and returned it to him.

P.S. – When Paul saw this blog, he said “I love that story. The level of heroism has certainly improved with age and retelling.” But, that is how the nine-year-old me remembers it.

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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Happy Easter! March 27 2016

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

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What can I do? March 20 2016 1 Comment

Recently a dishevelled, thin senior man was sitting on a bench outside the drugstore I was approaching. He asked a young woman walking past if she could spare some change. She gave him a disgusted, "so-far-beneath-me" look. 

About six feet away from the gentleman, a dog was tethered to a pole, its owner presumably shopping inside.

As the young woman rushed past, the look of disdain on her face transformed into a bright smile, with cooing noises for the dog. 

The proximity of the dog and the hurting man and the dramatically different reactions they evoked from the same passer-by made me think that we often have a kinder response to an animal than to a person – both unknown to us, in the same place, at the same time, hoping for the same thing - attention, a kind word and perhaps something to eat. 

A few months ago, I was with my husband in a downtown hospital emergency room. A homeless man there sought Rick out and started talking with him. Rick listened attentively and chatted easily with him as though he were our next door neighbour. 

For all his life, Rick has worked with and befriended people in need. They gravitate to him, everywhere, all the time, sensing, I guess, his compassion.

For me, it often is more difficult. The gentleman in the ER with us smelled so badly that I was literally gagging. Rick noticed and told me I should move. I said that moving seemed rude. He assured me it was ok. Still, I felt guilty: It wasn't the man’s fault that he smelled, given that having mental health issues and no home means getting a shower is difficult.

Another gag and I decided moving was preferable to creating a scene vomiting -especially since Rick was supposed to be the patient.

I am no expert on poverty and homelessness. I suspect that the answer to "What can I do?" will be different for each of us. Regardless, I think empathy is essential, and disdain has no place.

You can see my "Heading home" coaster here. Feeling fortunate to have a home.

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

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Wind and wings March 13 2016

Sometimes life is a roller coaster ride. The highs are breathtaking, the lows mind-numbing.

Tossed by gusting winds and then seemingly floating on gentle wings, our life rocks and rolls as it will. 

We imagine we are in control of it all when in truth, we merely occupy a seat on the ride, tossed by gusting winds and floating on gentle wings. 

You can see my “Wind and wings” decorative glass here

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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A hook to hang my nightie on March 06 2016 3 Comments

As I write this, I am flying back to Toronto after a three week stay in New Brunswick. My mother fell and broke her hip, followed by a hip replacement the next day. 

It was a terrible ordeal for her. But she never complained. She was always pleasant, always appreciative. 

Lately, I have been trying to minimize the effects of stress in my life by reading about, and working at, being joyful, compassionate, grateful, and accepting.  

As I watched my mother through her most recent journey, it wasn’t lost on me that she wasn’t trying to be anything. She just is - joyful, compassionate, grateful and accepting. 

The day after her surgery, my mother was confused. She thought the hospital room was her new home. My son asked her what she thought of her room. 

She said, “Well,” and paused for a long time as she looked all around the room at everything. Then finally, with a smile and a satisfied air, she said “I like that hook. I could hang my nightie on it. Yes, I like that hook.” 

Gratitude, acceptance, joy and compassion are who my mother is. Those qualities are as much a part of her as her name “Hope”. She doesn’t try. She just is - no matter what. 

I think I should stop trying so hard to be  . . .whatever . . . and look for a hook to hang my nightie on. 

You can see my “Along the way” lunch plate here

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

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Ice cream floats and banana splits February 28 2016

Our parents didn’t believe in spoiling us with things. They turned a deaf ear to any plea for the latest fad or toy. But they did believe in creating and filling our lives with wonderful memories.  

Two of my favourite memories are “ice cream float nights” and “banana split nights.” 

I didn’t like ice cream until I was an adult. But I did love a root beer float made by my Dad, filled to the brim and dripping down the side of the tall cold glass. I drank the milky root beer, left the chunks of ice cream and thought: “It doesn’t get any better than this.” 

Banana split nights were equally exciting. My parents would lay out all the ingredients, give us a special banana split dish and let us fill it any way we wished. Mine included almost no ice cream but overflowed with bananas, chocolate sauce and nuts and strawberries and butterscotch . . . Oh my. 

Many of life’s special moments include ice cream. Even when I didn’t like eating it, I loved when it appeared, because then I knew this was a very special day. 

You can see my “Poppy field” ice cream dish here.

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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A rich tapestry February 21 2016

I have been thinking a lot about diversity, intolerance, acceptance, fear and joy. In Canada, we are fortunate people to share space with a myriad of different ethnicities, ideas, religions, languages and so on. However different we may be, one from the other, as human beings living on the same planet, we are also the same. 

In the following quotes Maya Angelou expresses what I’m feeling.

“We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders.” 

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” 

“While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation.” 

"We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.”

I believe that if we remove any of the threads in our tapestry of diversity, it will become weaker and lose its spendour. There is strength in our sameness AND in our difference.

You can see my “Tapestry” parted square dish here

Check out other Glass by Charis pieces here

You can see my paintings here.

Read all blog posts here.

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