Ladies, It’s Never Too Late!

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“I like to paint something that leads me on and on in to the unknown something that I want to see away on beyond.”

Dear Reader:

I’ve raised my daughter and I’m pushing 60 years old and full of energy. It’s with that enthusiasm that I like to remember women who inspire other women. “Grandma Moses,” the acclaimed American painter who became a prototype for late bloomers, was born on this day in 1860.

Anna Mary Robertson Moses was simply an upstate New York farm wife until she was discovered by a New York art collector who spotted her paintings in a drugstore window. Her work became immensely popular and her story captivated the collective imagination of the art world.

The press loved her countrified ways and, in fact, it was a news reporter from New York’s Herald Tribune who gave her the nickname “Grandma Moses.” She handled the hoopla with aplomb. When her arrival in Manhattan in 1940 created a stir she demurred, “If they want to make a fuss over me, I guess I don’t mind.”

As a young wife and mother, Moses was creative in her home as so many women are. She embroidered beautiful landscapes and assembled magnificent quilts for family and friends until, at the age of 76, she developed arthritis which made needle arts a painful pursuit. Her sister suggested that painting would be easier for her and a career was born! She would often adapt her painting to accommodate her physical restrictions. If her right hand began to hurt, she switched to her left hand.

But Moses was more than just a talented artist, she was a feminist heroine with a strong belief in women’s autonomy. She wrote in her autobiography: “Always wanted to be independent. I couldn’t bear the thought of sitting down and Thomas,” her husband, “handing out the money.”

Grandma Moses worked until a few months before her death at the age of 101. By then she had completed some 2,000 paintings, written an autobiography and been awarded two honorary doctoral degrees. Her works have been shown and sold in the United States and abroad and have been marketed on greeting cards and other merchandise. Moses’ paintings are displayed in the collections of many museums. Sugaring Off was sold for US $1.2 million in 2006.

At the time of her passing, President John F. Kennedy said, “All Americans mourn her death.” Today, I celebrate her life and that of all women with the courage and energy to re-invent themselves in their golden years.

Michele

Aunt Bessie’s Tablecloth!

Aunt Bessie's Tablecloth!

Dear Reader:

Let me introduce you to Amy. She’s wearing her Aunt Bessie’s tablecloth, and she’s so happy that I noticed just how magnificent it is!

I had an amazing sandwich at a tiny little neighborhood restaurant in Sacramento last week. Despite how very hungry I was when I walked through the door, the first thing I noticed was that dress and the woman who wore it so joyfully.

I never hesitate to compliment people…why should I…that’s my thinking. I see it…I like it…I say it! And, sometimes I am rewarded with a great story, as I was on this day.

“Excuse me,” I said as she hurriedly passed me. “But, I must tell you that I adore your dress.”

“Oh, it was once my aunt’s Christmas tablecloth and I inherited it!”

Well, that’s not something you hear everyday, I thought. But it helped explain the great happiness that I felt emanating from this woman. Her aunt saved the bright red, hand-embroidered cloth for just a single day each year. Her niece remembers it fondly.

“I wasn’t sure what to do with it,” she continued. “Then one day my friend offered to turn it into a dress so that I could enjoy it all year long.”

Now that’s a story to love! I’m still smiling!

Michele

Eternal Motion

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Dear Reader:

A poem for you inspired by my last visit to Maui:

listening to the crash of the waves and the crackle of the wind in the palms 

i feel an

overwhelming sense of gratitude and wonder 

so many cares lost in the rhythm of life

the waves break again and again and wash the past from the present

 

the young woman looks to the sea impressed by the force of nature 

the mature woman finds peace in the continuity

 

one can not only see eternal motion

one can feel it

the water advances then repeats

an ever-changing whole of blue possibility

Where do find your inner poet?

Michele

Creativity Calls

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      Even the garages in Carmel are cute!

Dear Reader:

This cute little garage is attached to a cute little house in a cute little neighborhood in a cute little town. Sorry… couldn’t resist being so cute! But, seriously, I think “Paws Awhile” is good advice. No matter how much one enjoys an activity (or a person, for that matter), a little break can be a good thing.

I didn’t blog/write much during the holidays, but I did express my creativity in other ways. Our home was decorated top to bottom, the presents were wrapped in grand style, the gingerbread houses were sweet pieces of art, the table was set with my beloved collection of china and our doors were open to family and friends.

Today, I’ve returned to the page after having a restless night immersed in ridiculous, but unsettling nightmares. In one vivid scene, I can see myself frantically searching for my site. From the pink shed has disappeared. It is gone, because I have neglected it! 

I’d say that is a very good sign that I should return to the shed to enjoy the creative adventure that is my blog.

I’ll talk to you again soon!

Michele

Thanks for Visiting…Celebrating Six Months from the pink shed!

Dear Reader:

Six months ago I launched my blog. I felt confident that I’d never run out of things to say, but I was less sure about entering the world of the internet. If I’m going to write, it must be honest. So, would I feel that I was compromising my quiet, simple, private way of life? Would I regret taking this creative leap?

From the door of the pink shed
Come on in!

Short answer:  NO! Long answer: so many lovely people have visited my pink shed and they’ve made my venture fun and rewarding!

I’m talking about YOU:

Kristin at 17 Mile Creative-I couldn’t have done it without you!

Courtney-Thanks for helping me get it together!

Beth at Bordelon Artworks-You generously volunteered your talents…taking photos, blogging, reading and commenting.

Laurie-You are the kindest, wisest reader any writer could hope for and you submitted an incredibly entertaining guest post.

Catherine, Marietta and Kimberlee-Your support means so much to me.

Mrs. Delwiche (Jean)-You were the “best principal ever” at Almaden Country Day School. My daughter raved about how much you cared about each and every student, as well as what a great witch you made every year at Halloween! You found my blog through Facebook and I feel like a star student when you compliment my writing style!

 

AND NOW…here’s to the people I “met” in the blogosphere:

Tamara at My Botanical Garden-You were one of my earliest readers and I was flattered. Now we are “pen pals.” Thank you.

Sal at Sal’s Blog and David at Fiction all Day-I’d tell my friends: “I’ve even got men visiting my shed…a handsome guy in sunglasses and a young one with dizzying energy!”

Kathryn at Busy K-You are a young, cool, New York career woman. What are you doing on my site?

Alys at Gardening Nirvana-It’s been so nice to catch up with you.

Marie at Marie McLean-We share a love of reading and writing. Thanks for your comments.

Franziska at My Tree and Me-Thanks for your support…and, of course, the always useful health, travel and beauty tips.

 

Thank you also to the young woman expecting her first child who wrote to tell me that my post No Regrets may have “changed her choice and thus (her) life.” And to the many readers who have shared their experiences of loss after reading posts about the death of my brother, Matt. Finally, thanks to my girl for being my #1 fan.

Cheers…here’s to blogging!

Michele

Instructor Did NOT Like My Work

Dear Reader:

“My Favorite Kitchen” did not earn high praise. This does not crush me; in fact, it rather excites me. It gives me the impetus to ask: Why do I write? It fires me up! It makes me thankful that I’m 57 years old and so I can see that it doesn’t matter that my instructor didn’t appreciate my essay. It makes me think about other writers; it makes me think about readers.

First, I write because I’ve always admired writers and loved books. I write because I enjoy the challenge of it and I am so elated when I feel I’ve got it just right. Nathaniel Hawthorne said “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” Yes, it is!

Sometimes I write because I hope I can help someone. I always turn to the page when life becomes difficult for me. I look for advice and comfort and I find it. When I wrote about my brother’s death, my decision to be a stay-at-home mom and the benefits of Prozac, I was reaching out to you, dear reader.

I also write because it’s more fun than cleaning, jogging, golfing, cooking….etc.!  In other words, I enjoy it. And, it is nice to think that others enjoy reading my posts. With you in mind, I  keep my entries as short as possible and as entertaining and truthful as possible.

When I was asked to write 750 words describing a kitchen…I thought:  What? Why? I don’t want to write that. (BTW…750 words just happens to be my self-imposed max limit: I figure if I can do death, marriage and antidepressants in that many words, I should be able to convey most ideas within that word count!)  So, I improvised. I didn’t adhere to the word count. I didn’t offer generous details of how the kitchen looked (I can’t remember what color the walls were or how the countertops looked). I tried to make the topic work for me and this venue.

I decided to publish the work here because I thought it might remind you of your own grandmother or inspire you to allow someone to linger in your work space, and I added the recipe because I thought you’d like that!

Off to make some coffee,

Michele

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Kitchen

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Dear Reader:

I started another writing course this week through Stanford Continuing Studies; I’m having trouble with it. When I write to you, I decide on the topic. But, today,  I’ve been given a writing prompt that I must adhere to!  You, dear reader, now have the opportunity to read my first submission to the class: an essay about a “memorable kitchen” with a bonus recipe!

 

I’m not much of a cook, but I do love to eat so it seems appropriate that the only kitchen I ever really loved was a kitchen that I did not cook in. It was very small and it existed in a different time. One could move between the sink, table, stove and refrigerator with just a few steps. It was brightly lit with three windows counting the one that occupied the top half of the back door that led to the herb garden. There was no dishwasher or microwave, but the phone resided there on a tiny table adjacent to the stove.

This kitchen was alive. I can not picture it empty and yet, of course, it was …when Nonnie slept. I had many meals there and, without exaggeration or exception, they always satisfied me. I could tell you about the dough that was handmade, rolled and cut on the kitchen table or the sauce that simmered on the stove all day. I could try to convince you that a simple vegetable soup with a bit of pasta and meat could be a culinary delight. Or I might conjure up the image of crispels frying in a pan of oil until crispy and then covered in powdered sugar or warm honey and enjoyed with coffee.

My grandmother spent most of her days in this room. It delighted her to cook for family, friends and, of course, the clergy. She prepared meals for the priests at her church often and the bishop was thrilled when his visits coincided with her food deliveries. (Priests lined up to give the eulogy at her funeral!)

Her kitchen was akin to an artist’s studio, but she generously shared it. It was calming and reassuring to simply sit and watch her mix, roll, cut and fold. She completed these repetitive tasks with great joy and precision. She did not require participation in the task at hand, but she was glad to have you step outside to pick the herbs she needed or to allow you to take over the task of frying or filling.  Often, I just sat, though, and fully appreciated the warm companionship she offered while she worked.

Truly, I loved everything Nonnie cooked and baked, but it is a small meal in a mug that I remember most fondly. I would love to share the recipe with you!

 

Nonnie’s Beaten Egg Breakfast

Ingredients:

  • strong coffee
  • egg yolks
  • brown sugar
  • milk
  • and a loving companion

Brew the coffee while warming the milk slowly in a small saucepan. Crack and separate the eggs placing a yolk in each cup. Add a bit of brown sugar and beat the yolk and sugar together. Slowly, while stirring, add the hot coffee to the eggs to temper them slowly. Finish with warm milk to taste.

 

I remember many mornings spent with Nonnie enjoying this simple, sweet pleasure. I lived with her for several months after my parents divorced and I started college. Those coffee mornings gave me the sustenance I needed to pursue my future independently and the love my grandmother gave me remains with me to this day.

Thanks for reading!

Michele

 

 

 

 

 

A Party in the Pink Shed

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Me, my tech consultant, Kristin and her daughters Gio and Julia.

Dear Reader:

From the Pink Shed was launched six weeks ago and yesterday we celebrated in perfect 75 degree California sunshine. My blog has reminded me how exciting it is to learn something new and how rewarding it is to live a creative life.  More than that, though, and quite unexpectedly , it has been simply another reminder of the beauty of friendship. Thank you for reading, my friends, and thank you for the support and encouragement.

Courtney and family-I love all six of you! Thanks for introducing me to:

Kristin-Couldn’t have done it without you! Your family is as lovely as you are.

Beth-Thank you for your generous comments and photographic contributions.

Ann-YOU can cook…thanks for the delicious Thai treats.

Tom-You can rock a bright pink polo!

And, to the other partygoers who made my day:  Marietta and Frank, Rosemary and Mary, Fred and Carol, Peter, Fred, Catherine and Keith, Franzi, Kimberlee, Christina and Odysseus and Malcolm.

Thanks also to Laurie, who could not attend, as she is still on Mars, and my daughter, Natalie, because she’s “proud of me.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, I think, spoke truly when he said,  “The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.” Yesterday, my home was decorated beautifully with all of my treasured friends.

Michele