Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy 2010!!!!

I am not sure why I am awake at this hour but I want to wish you all a very blessed Happy New Year under the blissful new full Blue Moon. It is absolutely a beautiful night outside even if the cold freezes your nose immediately when you walk outside to gaze at Nature's wonder. The snow may be a health hazard for those out on the roads but the beauty from inside my cabin gazing out into the night is totally inspiring . May we all find tranquility and peace in the new year. Cherish those you love and remember the gifts we received from those who are no longer with us here on earth. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

it is 10:00 pm...I don't think I will make it to 2010 at midnight

I have finished the christening gown so that is ready to do to the big mass....four cousins baptized in the same mass. A big day for the Catholics! Then we are off for a family food feast at Hoggy's with all the in-laws and cousins. Little Morgan will have a dress like her Mother's wedding dress ...simple and fluid lines cut on the bias. Slippery little bugger to sew on the sewing machine and with invisible hand stitches. I do so hope Erin Elizabeth will love this simple little dress made from her wedding dress...just like my own mother did for my christening over 60 years ago. I could almost feel my mother's spirit watching over me as I angst over making a possible snag in the pristine shiny white fabrics. I miss you Mom... as I prepare for familial rituals repeating themselves into the present moment. You gave me so much and I feel that I did not tell you enough how much I appreciated your generous gifts often given in silence.

The weather is hitting the single digits tonight and black ice is the major threat for our roadways. New Year's Eve is always a gamble when you are on the road so I am grateful my children have invited friends in for the night to embrace 2010's glorious arrival. Tonight's Blue Moon is full and reflects the promises of the upcoming years events for our family. I have been quiet remembering the people who have gone before me this year. Time is rushing by and losses seem to be more frequent... my mortality is becoming more apparent to me. "Living at risk is jumping off a cliff and building your wings on the way down." Ray Bradbury Seth Apter introduced me to this quote and his visual interpretation at The Altered Page Blog. This quote has stayed with me all day as I put the art supplies I have been using in an almost prayerful approach to organization. I really love holding my art supplies and selecting each with a child's abandonment ...not really thinking too much but just jumping off the starting point! I hope to live my New Year taking more risks with each day's gift.

I am back to the quilting stitches ..a chain stitch that is almost meditative when I am totally engrossed with the silent movements complete with the luscious loose threads I love to leave on the back of my quilted pieces. This is a broken rule for all American quilters and would never pass their judgment processes. Kath Walker's face is becoming visible to me and hopefully to others ...I do not sketch the individual face but rather intuitively feel her speaking to to and giving me permission to relate her story and her strong beliefs for equality for all indigenous peoples.

Have a safe and Blessed New Year and may we all discover and nourish continued good health...well at least a balanced living in good health. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

a quiet moment without a buzzer going off in my pocket....

Just for a moment
I walked away from technology
to rediscover the quiet...
I have rambled through the house
written a few more Christmas cards
rediscovered some favorite books
piddled around in my studio in the quiet solitude
....sudden realization that my sewing machine is 19 years old
called a long lost friend in Arizona on Christmas eve...God I miss her smiling voice
slept on the floor with the dog and cat under a very old hand made quilt to watch old movies
resisted some of the many treats left from the holidays
avoided phone messages from unsolicited callers
avoided my surveys...when the heck do they start paying me???
Just for a moment
I reassembled my dining room table embracing the simplicity of less
I disassembled my daughter's wedding dress train...spelling?...
to make a smaller version of her wedding dress to be employed as her christening dress
small...serene...simplicity that was worn over five years ago in the same church
wedding and christening
ritual and synchronicity united in peace
Just for a moment
I sat still
watched the deer crossing my hillside at dusk amidst the soft fluttering snowflakes
I watched as they searched in the snow for a green morsel of one on my numerous plants
the young bucks have saved their racks from hunters and only appear when they feel safe
the quiet dusk sky envelops them in a blue gray blanket of the night
tomorrow is a full Blue Moon to embrace the coming of a new year.
Just for a moment
I sat still.
Imagine and Live in Peace,
Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Friday, December 25, 2009

Joy rising in the hearts of many...Merry Christmas....

I was up late last night putting small details on the final Christmas packages and more important aspirations for every person who enters my life's circle...remember Venn diagrams in grade school?... each person's gift of humanity graves my very being. We awake early to get showers and a quick cup of coffee to fortify the physical body as my I dress in my Stewart plaid and red tee to brace for a whole day of Christmas cheers. We woke to a down pour in rain that would have been at least 12 inches of fresh snow if the temperatures would have been a wee bit lower. I do love a White crystal blanket of reflective snow for the Christmas morn but driving could prove to be more dangerous and I did want to be with my grand children as they woke to the sounds of Christmas. Erin and Chance met us at their door with hugs and kisses as we witnessed the landscape of torn wrapping papers on the red woolen carpet and bits of strings and ribbons fluttered around their Christmas tree. Hot chocolate with fresh whipping cream atop the mug warmed us against the cold, damp chill in the air as we were given an intimate view through the eyes of small children the glories of this morning's offerings. Cole had received an amazing new playmate ... a computerized triceratops that will move, sing, eat, and even burp...this delights a two 1/2 year old to no end. He and his patient father began assembling a wooden fire truck with what seemed to be in a million pieces and too numerous screws to count much less install. Young fathers who hold and touch their little ones trying to assist and help Dad ...these men are priceless and grow larger in stature and in heart when they hold a small hand so gently. Serenity and peace nurtures us all as we support young parents doing the best they can to create a safe home and make ends meet. Erin made cinnamon spiced french toast with her homemade wheat bread, an egg and cheese casserole and sugar maple crisp bacon. The table was completed by the other set of grand parents and the circle of loving family embracing the moment and creating a heart memory.

The day was young but I was on my way to make a heart's stitched memory for many that I did not even know...Christmas dinner with all the trimmings for anyone who needed a helping hand. Seventeen turkeys and fifteen large hams in pineapple sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, dressing and gravy, green beans seasoned with ham bits and hot rolls and butter. Desserts were both homemade and donated from several local bakeries and each was more enticing than the next. Hot coffee, sweet, sweet fruit punch and sweet iced tea were available to complete the meal celebration. Skip Salome and his entire family were up at three in the morning putting the final touches on the turkeys and side dishes and the crowd of volunteers eagerly greeted our wonderful guests and meals were boxed up to make door to door deliveries throughout the entire county. The room radiated kindness and White Light of possibilities for all present. Multiple generations were engaged in giving outside the self to others who may be alone or down on their luck for this moment in time...there but for the grace of God goes I. Harry and David's distributing center made beautiful baskets to be given to each family member to take some holiday cheer and sweets home with them. From eleven to three p.m. the room was bustling place to work and the hearts were warmed by experience and the dedicated volunteers who worked hard to make the day Christ was born was his day to give us his life so we might live in peace. I came home exhausted but so grateful to be able to contribute to this banquet and spiritual ritual of community. My gratitude is for the Salome families who came together to make a difference and allowing me to share their offering.

I also met with a young hero in my life...a Black Hawk pilot/officer Natasha Wortman who is home for a short visit with her family. I met her when she came in the gallery right before her deployment and she touched my heart with her dedications to man and country. A small unassuming young woman with grace and strength and she was there to renew old hometown connections. I made arrangements to meet with her next week so I can create a assemblage dedicated to her service and exhibit it in My exhibit next May..."Whispers and Echoes of Women's Work". She was amazed that I had remembered her after about 18 months since our meeting. Who could forget this remarkable young woman?

I was so exhausted I came home and had a pecan pie and quickly feel into a deep sleep. Ken and I exchanged small gifts this evening but the whole day had been the greatest gift we have to give those we love...our time. We watched a delightful movie "Julia and Julie" about Julia Child and a young writer trapped in a life draining job in a cubicle...haven't we all experienced a job like this once in our lifetime. The blog was a third character in this movie about perseverance and dedication...I really found this movie to be delightful I am so tired and need to return to bed for some much needed sleep. Imagine and LIVE in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Thursday, December 24, 2009

not a creature was stirring...not even a mouse....

It is almost Christmas...22 minutes to go and I am still wrapping and writing a few more Christmas cards. Yes, I do realize that they will arrive late but who the heck cares. I have enjoyed taking my time to enjoy the reconnection process and heard from people who called to thank me for remembering them. I had lunch with a young artist and her delightful daughter who is in the first grade. We exchanged artist trading cards...her was absolutely beautiful compared to my child like presentation. Michelle loves horses and brings them to life on tiny 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 cards in deep fluffy pastels. We made plans to get together one Saturday a month...not too much to require right? We will share different mini workshops just for the pleasure of getting together and share our sacred mark making with each other. Like I said I have made a few just lately but this might be just the kick in the butt to get out and mingle once again. I then visited the dreaded Walmart....Wally World on Christmas eve!!! I needed to get Miss Rosie her Iams puppy biscuits... she is really a low maintenance buddy and only requires a half of the cookie every time she ventures out into the cold, cold tundra to go to the bathroom. In Walmart people were busy but generally pleasant...could it have been the large golden jingle bell I insisted on ringing as I rushed through the crowds. Even old men were smiling when they realized that the sound was not coming from a child but a happy go lucky grandmother happy to have found dog cookies for woman's best friend. I then headed to Kohl's to find one more gift to even up the piles for the grand daughters...they notice if I forget that one special item they had reminded me to find...Hello Kitty perfume...I kid you not! I was walking briskly through the store and ringing my bell when I hit the children's department I heard a joyful squeal...Grandma! We chatted and made plans for later in the evening...I had to feed Grandpa supper. How long would that Take? she asked. She happened to be the one I was shopping for so I had to be swift and sneaky to get by her. She is at the tween age now so we are dangerously close to entering the teens where delusions and commercialism robs young girls of their wide eyed innocence. With several quick hugs in Public! I told her I would see her later after I cooked Cajun catfish and fresh asparagus and a small baked potato with sour cream. Nourishment to give us energy to make our Santa errands to deliver Ken's world famous fudge and caramel corn to three special friends who are there thick and thin when we need a helping hand. We rinsed our few dishes...the Cajun Fish was whoowee HOT but tasty. We made our selves presentable...I retrieve my magic golden jingle bell and off our sleigh went. One delivery was a three year old who now has a beloved Christmas mouse ...complete with her very own Golden jingle bell and some fudge and sweet corn. Then we rushed to our next Christmas eve destination to Rosie's godmother...Helen a dear friend for over 20 years. We now have reindeer pasta from her hospital twig a fund serve on Sunday when the grand kids come to our house for dinner. Then I made my last important delivery to put three bags of Christmas wishes under the Christmas tree plus a full package of new candy canes to add to their tree branches. It is amazing how these sweet treats have a way of disappearing right under our noses. Hugs and squeals galore I headed home but took a few detours to snap some photos of the Christmas lights...I won't grow up! When I came home I attempted to call a wonderful friend of over 23 years in Tucson and by golly we did it. We talked for 20 minutes and I felt as if I was levitating off this earth. Yes tears filled my eyes but hearing her precious voice was enough to make this a truly Holy night. The only thing better would be if we were together in person and having hot chocolate by the fireside.

Now I am back finishing the last of the wrapping and still maintaining my holiday chaos in the living room. I will work on the cards and get my next big project completed...the christening dress for Miss Morgan. We are going to get up early and head over to have breakfast with Cole and Morgan for their first Christmas in their new home. Then I am planning to serve Christmas dinner to 300 people who may be down on their luck. We did this last year and I was the one that was BLESSED! Merry Merry Christmas dear friends. This is a holy night in my heart. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

a jolly busy day...

I picked up my last gift today and met and hugged two delightful little ones who radiate love and positive energy. They are so excited with the season's anticipation and expectations that they could be ready to lift off this worldly planet at any moment!!! We then went to the post office and the new St. Vincent de Paul food pantry .Haven for men, thrift shop and furniture donations to help those who need furnishings for a new apartment/new beginning. Small miracles here in my community! Then we stopped by Tina's to drop off "stuff" for Christmas art play, platters with gold trims and stars, Christmas ribbons and lights for the tree and candy canes to hang on the tree. Next we visited our 84 year old teenagers to wish them a marry Merry Christmas before they head out for their journey to Texas to spend time with their children. Young love delights my soul! The final stop was Kroger's... for the necessary but often avoided trip to get the groceries!!!! Yikes it was so crowded but two people working together we made fast work of this least favorite errand. I was so tired afterwards that I fell into the bed under the covers and fell right to sleep. I slept through the dinner hour but luckily Ken was ready and able to fix himself a quick dinner of baked chicken and chips...he also watched his favorite ESPN educational channel ... his basketball game. He is so tired and went to bed early which is perfect for his continued healing process. I am still wary that he is not out of the woods physically but spiritually he is holding onto the Holiday season. Fatigue is a tricky roommate and sneaks up when you least expect it! One step at a time... REST...listen to me Anne...try not to do too much!...just cuddle down with the one you love and watch the snowflakes gather and twirl from inside your studio windows.

I believe in miracles. Today I heard from a wonderful student I had the joy to work with over 20 years ago. This Internet "thing" is still amazing to me in how you can find people and reconnect. Now we hopefully will find a quiet time to meet and have lunch together to catch up. He is my gift today...whew I have had so many gifts today... Thank you.

In the grocery check out line I looked up to see my grandmother in front of me...well no she was not my grandmother really but she was in her wheel chair collecting goodies for Christmas eve for her family. As I unloaded her cart for her ...I studied her face and the red tint she had applied to her hair...I am sure for the holidays. She was counting her money and down to her change and loose coins. I joked but I really meant it...if she needed a little help I would help her out with the bills. I told her I could just use my credit card and we would both have a jolly jolly Christmas. She would not let me help her but the smile on her face from making this intimate connection in a grocery line made her smile with a child's delight. I felt so blessed for having this anonymous experience with a stranger I may never meet again...but we were both blessed!

I have some new pictures to share and so many that I will have to control myself and pass them out for the next couple of days! The deer were courageous today but the young bucks are way too fast for me to capture...the does are so much gentler and more trusting my presence in their environment. I just had a call to meet a dear young friend on Christmas eve for lunch. Since I am not down in the gallery very often I miss seeing my dear artists. I did go into the gallery today...two days before Christmas...and it was completely empty. It broke my heart because I put so much into my last days before Christmas...handmade cards and gift wrap plus personal shopping service for men who had come back for the last seven years to ask for my assistance. It is the personal touch we are all so hungry for in this commercialized Christmas season. Say a prayer and tell your friends to shop here for unusual gifts for the ones you happen to love in your life. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Monday, December 21, 2009

sacred idleness...reconnecting with loved ones who are far away

I have spent the last couple of days in bed with a painful back condition so when I was awake I wrote handwritten messages to my friends and family that are far away. I have been working/playing at my old dining room table and creating individual Christmas cards for each person I am hoping to remain connected in 2010. It does not sound like much but are our handwritten notes becoming a vanishing element in our human relationships? I love receiving mail...snail mail and decorated messages from a voice from my past. Tomorrow I am hoping to finish this task but in the meantime I have been away from the Internet. I have watched cheesy Lifetime Christmas movies and The Nativity Story and Christmas in Washington, D.C. The snow quietly fluttered outside my back door as the deer ventured closer to the house for some freshly chopped vegetables left from my cream of chicken soup we enjoyed for dinner. I opened the door to take a photo and they were immediately posing in a regal manner for their portraits. Yes these are the same creatures who devoured my small garden of lilies and hosta plants. I am still so mesmerized by these gentle creatures living on my hill that my memory fades with any thoughts of anger or disappointments. I am somehow amazed by their determination to survive against all odds in Nature and hunting season has just ended in our county. I secretly love have these silent guardians surrounding my home as I sleep during the night...they seem to love to curl up in the tall grasses right next to our front decks. Maybe next Spring I will be singing a different tune but for now we are all in a harmony and it is a true silent night.

Today was the first day of Winter's solstice and the shortest day in the year. Maybe we are supposed to listen with our hearts to the slowing down in the seasons. By being away for a while from the computer I found it easy to delete any frustration that may come my way and just enjoy being in quiet isolation. I am ready to return to my quilting by hand one stitch at a time and returning to a sense of organization in my living room and enjoy the soft flutter of candle light and the soft fragrance of a cinnamon and vanilla candle wafting through the room. Yes there are present to be wrapped and the side tables will need to be cleared in order to eat at the table but this is our home...flawed maybe yes...but our colors radiate in the warmth of the wooden log walls and warm wooden floors. Tomorrow is another day and hopefully Ken and I will both be stronger and ready to face the challenges the Christmas season holds for us all. The Nativity Story expresses the birth of a tiny baby who became the savior for mankind and he was born on a cold night in the straw and hay manger inside the stable. It seems to say it is not where we lay our heads down but what we share with the ones we love. Have a quiet and peaceful night lost in the dreams of Peace and harmony for all. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ouch!!! I am allergic to the cold...

I have been in bed with a very painful back...I do not want to say I have a bad back because it is the only back I have and Yes I do know my body's core is weak...but oh my gosh I have been useless. I am having difficulty sitting...standing and even laying down. Tomorrow will be a better day I am positive! In 1978 I spent three months in the hospital for serious back issues and in the end I did have surgery so I always get fearful when the pain returns. I have not heard about Anne's surgery so I will take Bea's advice and cuddle down with Ken under the quilts.

Even in bed I am working to get a 15 turkey donation for our Christmas dinner for 300! Cross your fingers with a little help from my friends I will be able to pick them up and deliver them to Skip and his special elves/cooks for the fabulous dinner that is being planned. Say a prayer and make an angel for yourself! Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

the cards are ready to go...

I have twinkled them and sparkled them and now they are ready to hit the USA mail system..aka ... Santa's governmental assistants. I have addressed them and stamped them and hopefully they will make the receivers smile with amazement of how I chose to fill my time. I attended a meeting today to listen to ways to improve marketing and planning for our third Art Walk in July 2010. One member/volunteer...we all volunteer... appeared to be down and had lost her childlike spirit for the Christmas season. I decided to send her a silly childlike card and a note to express my appreciation for all she gives back to our family community here in Licking county. All artists need an angel to assist and nourish the lives of artists that often work in isolation and feel over-looked in the crowd. I hope this small memento will remind her we are all working together to ensure the Arts will continue to grow and prosper.

Tomorrow a fellow blogger will have a surgery so I am asking the Universe to send her healing energies and positive affirmations for a quick recovery and total recovery. Not only is she a wonderful artist but her sense of humor and quick wit brighten my day and all who read her blog. She believes in angels and possibly is one so help me out with positive prayers for Anne.

Does the cold weather wear you out faster? I am finding myself wanting to come home and crawl under the quilts to take a nap. Naps are healing and quilts touch and love you back but very little work seems to get down in the bed. Maybe Ken and I need to cuddle down and recuperate from last week's ordeal ...our bodies take a little more time to get back into our old groove. I am looking forward to sitting still and becoming one with my needle and thread in a calming quiet afternoon of my work. "We cannot long survive without water,air, and sleep. Next in importance comes food. And close on its heels, solitude." Thomas Szasz Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Monday, December 14, 2009

52 degrees and the sun came this really December?

Last week I was digging out every hat,scarf and gloves I could find to keep myself warm in 60 mph winds here in Newark! Today it feels like Spring is just around the corner. Who knows what we will wake up to in the morning but today was perfect for making the trip to the hospital for Ken's check-up and final results for his gout condition. Most patients with unknown condition to me... are over weight and over indulge in excessive foods and alcohol...Ken barely has a glass of wine three times a year. The doctor advised us of how we can better control the progression with diet and one pill to lower uric acid levels to avoid further bone corrosion. We then hit a restaurant for a late lunch and went in search of the Spider Man Bike with training wheels. Shazam! we were lucky and it came already assembled...YAHOO!

We stopped by Erin and Chance's house to check on the little man...Mr. Cole and he cheerfully announced he did not throw up in his bed today. The house was in typical Holiday cheer with toys and cookie spatulas to enjoy playing with as they listened to Christmas songs. I always feel better after a visit to the house filled with my grandchildren...the smiles say it all. When I came home Tina asked me to meet her for a cup of coffee with her three girls ...yes I was very tired but I went anyway and had a wonderful surprise. I ran into a dear woman who worked with me over 10 years ago and she was out with her church group having a present exchange and bite to eat to celebrate their friendship. Annis is now confined to her walker and bed most of her day...she has a terrible fear of falling. Bur her joyful smile and warm hugs anointed me with her positive energy . I am now home with hopes to finish my cards and mail them out tomorrow. Whew where does the time fly? If I did not have to sleep....I could get a lot more completed! LOL! Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Sunday, December 13, 2009

a day of wrapping and making homemade

I watched Angels and Demons today as I punched brightly colored papers and collaged them for homemade cards for my brothers and sisters. Last year I had bought those special reflective stickers and jewel crystals to add pizazz for the child in all our hearts. I am sure the girls will love receiving their own mail to celebrate the upcoming holiday break. I am saving the cookie making for when they get out of school after Friday...two whole weeks to get ready. I am not so sure the parents are as thrilled as I am but I will find some different avenues and art projects to keep us out of too much trouble and away from the shopping malls.

Tom Hanks always ends up with a beautiful woman to share his latest Dan Brown exploits in the Vatican in Rome, Italy. I had read the book which as usual the book is better but the scenery of the streets , fountains and cathedrals were filmed beautifully. I felt an immediate need to somehow get back to Italy asap....I love walking the streets where the greatest artists once lived, worked and created their masterpieces. I found myself studying the faces of stone angels and saints as several of my artist friends are creating ATC's with the theme of invisible guardians we have become familiar with...the angels. Christmas cards that reflect the masterpieces and visions of angels have always been an inspiration to me. Synchronicity is sending angels out into the universe and one angel leads to another. Artist Trading Cards are small 2 1/2" by 3 1/2" works or play... in creating small works to exchange with one another. I have employed them in my teaching classes for over the the last 15 years...everyone seems to be so pleased when something they work collaboratively to create turn out so beautifully. I will photograph some of my cards and ATC's tomorrow and put them on the blog to share ... it is late and I need to get to bed.

Tomorrow we meet with another doctor and then spend our time finding just the right bike for our grandson. How did I get anything done when I worked five days a week. Seriously I have neglected my big projects to work on the family items I am making for the holidays and Baptisms. Ken is still very tired as he should be...but has dedicated his time to read and evaluate his students journals and final take home exams. I try not to interfere with his concentration and give him space to concentrate. I would have appreciated a teacher like him during my under graduate programs. He really reads and comments on each student's evaluations and give solid feedback with his over 35 years of experience in the classroom.

I do so love my small small Christmas tree on our dining room table...there are small mementos from our life together. I have always loved getting a balled tree to be planted later in our wildness...special morsels for the deer to munch on. We have a huge tree now...well it is huge from the middle of the tree and up. Below the middle of the tree has been nibbled away by mysterious little deer elves. I should be angry but I find these creatures so peaceful and they were here in the woods way before we were. They sleep right off our deck in the front of the house and on the sloping back hill watching us through our windows...we are deer entertainment on the local Deer Channel. Now I am being just silly so it is time to read my daily blogs. I have so much to be happy about and the Christmas holidays fill my heart with JOY! Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart