In 2003 my heart went into "arrhythmia" it was an accelerated, irregular heartbeat.  I wasn't alone at the time, yet I drove myself to the hospital.  I think the best way to describe this was there was a lack of commitment in the room - my room.  
A lack of commitment to humanity (basically).  So despite the fact that I had someone with me, when my heart went haywire....I was alone. 
Duly noted. 
I walked into the hospital ER and told the nearest doctor that my heart was beating very fast and irregular.  I was met with people who were committed (fortunately!) I was immediately put in a hospital bed in the ER and hooked up to the right kind of machinery. 
They stood by me.
As I was laying there, I witnessed an argument between the nurse and doctor on the amount of whatever drug they needed to administer to slow down my heart rate.  The nurse was more conservative and she stood her me....she seemed committed.  The doctor argued for the larger  amount and ultimately won. 
The nurse, not happy, then left the room.  The doctor stayed to the right of my bed and munched on a green apple as he watched my heart rate on the monitor. 
The drugs entered my system through an IV and I felt immediately better.....heart rate coming down, slower and slower, breathing normal....this felt good.  Ahhhhh.
At some point it dipped past a point that even I thought...hmmmm...this seems too sllloooooooowwwww and I  started to "white" out. 
I didn't black out - I was completely aware of everything around me.  It was a very beautiful soft white all around me.  At that point,  all I could think of were two people:  Allie and Sophie.
"I can't leave" and then I had grayed out images of my own childhoodmixedwithmychildren'schildhoodimagesandIfelt
They were being cheated. 
There....I was back.
The next scene was a combination of being out of my body and looking down, yet
simultaneously being completely present feeling a hit to my chest.  I kid you not.....just like in the movies!!
I opened my eyes and (quite honestly) things felt a bit surreal.  My chest stung because I had just been hit with a man's fist
 in the middle of  my heart and to the left of my bed on the floor was an apple rolling around. 
I laid there for a bit.  It was just me, the doctor and the apple.
Then at some point I asked him if he had hit me in the chest and he admitted doing so.  
The apple was still rolling and I was thinking..the nurse was right. 
My mother's father (my grandfather) died of an enlarged heart.  To me that sounds so are so giving, kind and full of love that your heart is so's too large and pfffttttt!  then you die. 
She's often spoken about his "rattled breathing" and how difficult it was to watch a young man die in her house.  I think he was 40.
My mother has had several surgeries on her own heart - you know, the usual type of surgeries. -blocked arteries..... 
I (personally) know that my heart is healthy.  I don't believe in the whole prior history theory - just because someone else in my family has "this or that" that I am going to.   I choose my own history and whether or not I want to have heart disease or anything else for that matter.    
I don't have heart disease, but I do  have heart "issues".  Those that can be best described as "heartbreak" from a very early time.....father dying at 8...blah, blah, blah.  There is a term for this... Takotsubo cardiomyopathy" - broken heart syndrome. 
To back up, I was going through a divorce when my heart did this.  I was devastated by the divorce - shocked, surprised, angry and mad.  So my initial "heart issue" was a divorce issue, a failure/rejection type of issue.  The fact that I hadn't surrounded myself with friends that weren't committed enough to get me to the hospital saddened (or compounded this) even more. 
I learned very recently that when my dad died my mother burned everything he wore.  Shoes, ties.... everything.  My 85 year old mother said, "I couldn't bear the thought of anyone else wearing his clothing so I took out to the back, put it in a barrel and burned it all."   The image of this is extremely sad to me.  Also...I so would have worn this tie if I could!
I was 8 when he died and I took care of my mother during her grief stricken period.  I learned to make a really good cup of coffee and a sandwich that could sustain her for another day.  She used to say "it tastes so much better when you make it."
My mother, at 38 was heartbroken - she had Takotsubo cardiomyopathy and she needed to be taken care of.  I know, I ended that sentence with a preposition,
but isn't your husband being killed in an automobile accident at 36 kind of like ending a life with a preposition?
At 8, I became a very sensitive, care taking child.  I experienced a woman's pain of losing her husband and at the same time I was a child experiencing a very similar pain.
My mother often speaks of regret about my childhood.  She says she placed too much responsibility on me. Yet, I never, ever felt like taking care of my mom during some of her darkest days, making some meals or a pot of coffee or watching after my younger siblings ever, ever felt like too much. 
I was needed.
It felt like I was in the place I was supposed to be at the very right moment.  I got a real sense of making a valuable contribution to my family at a very early age. 
It's Thanksgiving today. 
I am supposed to feel grateful and thankful at this time of year. 
The month of November is always the hardest time of year for me. 

 am grateful.
I am grateful for the ability to contribute and care for those left behind and
my heart beats a little bit stronger because of these experiences.




I recently
sat down
at a
a pot. 
 call it. 
It was an
entirely new
experience for me. 
My instructor sat to my left at her
and showed me exactly
how to position my body. 
As she showed me what to do
she used words like
It took strength
 More than I thought it would
and as I concentrated on keeping this arm here
and that hand there in one single second I had a feeling that I've never, ever
felt in my life. As I was attempting to create a perfect circle using as much muscle,
and as little muscle as possible, I felt in a very short moment  -  present.
This is the only way I can think to describe this.  I was completely present
and being present in that moment concentrating only on this one thing - to
create a perfect circle, I was complete.  In that instant, I looked at my instructor
and said something like, "whoa, this is incredible" and she got it immediately
replying, "yeah, I've had ministers who have taken my class and written sermons
 present in my work (even if I try to make it into a straight line). 

When I was 8, my father
died in a car crash.  It was due to a blown out tire.  When I was 50, I had a show
called "Mapping Memories" with a fellow artist, Kevin Lucero Less, a very
talented fellow.   My partner came up with  "Mapping Memories" and we both explored
the map.  "Lucy" (as he likes to be called) explored Memory Territories with a
collection of painted pieces and a video.  His pieces were precise - super precise
like a map.  His video was called "Re-en-act-ment" a touching story about loss. 
The interesting thing is that we didn't talk much about what I was going to
do or what he was going to do for the show.  The 'map' piece seemed to
have it's own agenda and that agenda brought our work together. 
My pieces were tires.  Yeah...big, black circles
that I reworked to re-make my tragic memory into something else.
My pieces (in comparison) were messy with dripping paint. 
The circle.
It keeps reappearing in my work
and every single time it's like



I'm inspired!  I'm inspired by music, weather, good movies, good wine, playing with paint and clay and cooking.
I recently watched Eat, Pray, Love.......again. 

I love this movie. 
It combines so many of my favorites:
good food
Plus the soundtrack is amazing.  Neil Young - Harvest Moon - classic!
It's Sunday morning and since cooking is my religion ;) I am going to cook several meals to be eaten during the week. 
I arose and was at the grocery store by 7:22 a.m.  The market I go to is an International market and by midday on Sunday it's packed.  So packed that last week I couldn't find a parking spot and had to leave.  I love this market because I can get my usual great fresh produce, but I can also get foods I would not find in my regular corner market. 
Plus.....English is hardly spoken (you hear everything else but!). 
When I arrived, the produce guys were still arranging fruits and veggies. 
The meat guys were packaging "fresh" for the day and the fish guys hadn't even begun. 
I needed several things:
  • fresh ricotta cheese
  • really good olive oil
  • small vine ripened tomatos
  • good, strong German coffee
  • half and half
I took my time and snapped some pics along the way.  It was such an 'artsy' way to do my very regular grocery run. 
The first thing I did when I got back home was unpack my bag. 
Let's talk about that. 
I made some of these last year to sell at a Holiday Boutique. 
This bag is covered with cut up food boxes - there are some Uno game cards too. 
The bag was then covered with a laminate type film and wah-lah!  Recyled, sturdy and quite a little attention grabber. 
I have so many cashiers ask me - "where did you get that?"
There, I managed to fit in the "recycle"
part into the blog. 
The second thing I did was make a really good, strong cup of coffee then start to work.
First on the list is the Manicotti. 
I didn't go off of any one else's specific's that cooking by feeling thing I do. 
Here's my recipe (it turned out excellent). 
This is for 6 filled Manicotti
Serves 2 people
1/2 cup fresh Ricotta cheese
1 clove garlic - minced
3 small "orange" tomatoes
2 medium sized Campari tomatoes
3 Portobella mushrooms
6 big, fresh basil leaves
1/8 tsp. dried rosemary
1/4 cup fresh mozzarella cheese
1/8 cup fresh Parmesan
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
6 Manicotti shells (uncooked)
Salt and Pepper to taste
16 oz. tomato sauce - (I used a bottled sauce for this)
Cut the tomatoes, mushrooms and basil and mix in with the ricotta cheese, stirring everything together with a spoon. 
Add the cheeses and seasonings (salt, pepper and nutmeg).
Line a baking dish with about 8 oz. of your sauce. 
Take a Ziploc or sandwich bag and fill it with the cheese filling.  Snip off a small corner and squeeze the mixture into the uncooked Manicotti shells and place in the sauce. 
This fills approximately 6 shells and fits perfectly in a small glass baking  dish 9x11
Pour the rest of the sauce on top and add some mozzarella cheese.
Either cover with tin foil and refrigerate until meal time or preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake for about 45 - 50 minutes. 
Keep covered the first 30 minutes.
Serve hot. 

The secret is the nutmeg.  When you add nutmeg to a dish with ricotta, it's automatically "heaven". 
 I learned this from an Italian chef years ago. 


Stairways, Paths and Embracing Change

This is Lake Michigan in early November.  The landscape has browned and sky and water intermingle between shades of grayed out blue and grayed out gray.  The seasons start out with such gusto in the beginning.  Bright green leaves change to a crimson yellow or a caramel brown eventually into softer more mellowed shades.   It reminds me of change at any level.  We all start out with a lot of energy and hope at the beginning, then somewhere along the road things mellow and we are somewhere comfortable in the middle. 
These stairs led me to the water, the rocks and the wind.  They led me to another world below where boulders were beaten and forced to soften pressured by the waves of the water.   What do you end up with?  Something that is still very strong but the hard edges have been softened.
As I walked down the path I noticed even the stairs were weathered in a beautiful way.  They serve their purpose and part of "their process" is to be walked on and trampled a bit. That's what they are there for!  There were places along these stairs that half of the stair was gone yet gently creeping up through some of the destruction was a new flower in it's last bloom.  The space made room for something beautiful to spring up.


The stairs represent transition – a way of getting from one stage to another.  I (personally) often stumble on stairs.  I’ve even broken my foot falling down stairs and I’ve been known to trip up them as well.  A “stair” can take us from one plane to another.  It’s symbolic – they can bring us higher to our destiny or lower to our destination.  It seems my norm is to stumble when making the transition.     
Currently, I am entering a new phase of my life.  I can identify with the subtle colors of the landscape as it softens and grays.    I connect with the subtlety of the beauty that surrounds me.  At times my path has been smooth sailing and at others it has felt like a constant uphill climb.  I do believe though, we choose our own paths. 

My path is changing  course - something beautiful is about to spring up.