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Quandary: a state of perplexity or uncertainty, especially as to what to do; dilemma. From Dictionary.com
A fitting word and tangle to describe the past week for me. No matter which way I turned, I was confronted with another quandary as I tried to meet a big deadline. By Friday, my shoulders felt as though they were touching my ears from the stress. Time to tangle and see if I could relax a little.
I haven’t done the Diva Challenge in a while, so I thought it would be nice to work on the latest from Laura Harms. Quandary again! This time it was in the form of the new tangle, Quandary, from Zentangle. As I tackled Quandary in my Tangle-A-Day calendar, I quickly understood how it came to be named. It reminded me of another tangle, Tripoli, which has always been a struggle for me. With Quandary, your eye bounces back and forth with the need to create the triangles and the flowers that emerge as you build the triangles. I got lost several times with less than stellar results. For me, it seems the secret is in the scale. I do much better with the larger scale. I tell my students all the time to play with scale when learning a tangle that they seem to struggle to master but sometimes forget to do this myself. With my new awareness, it may be time to try Tripoli and Assunta, but much larger in scale.
I also took some time to “finish” a few things. When teaching, as I did last weekend, I often start a tile or demo a tangle on one and move on. What’s left is a pile of really random tiles, some with only a tangle and no strings, others resembling most of the tiles I do in a basic class since I keep the string and tangles fairly simple. These are a challenge to complete and I’ll tackle a few from time to time just to see what I can do with them. While working on my Diva Challenge, I realized a previous page in my calendar had never been shaded so I thought it might be interesting to share the before and after on my blog. Shading really is a personal preference and there are tangles that I never shade, and others that change dramatically with a little bit of pencil strategically applied. To really learn more about shading, take a look at Made in the Shade by Cris Letourneau. Cris earned her CZT along with me in 2011. This book is a deep dive into the world of shading specific to Zentangle and is well worth the investment. You can see more of Cris’ work here.
Give Quandary a try and I hope you enjoy the fruits of my various dilemmas.
“It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!”… Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!” ~Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! has always been a favorite of mine. As a child, I would begin scouring the TV Guide in the month of November for the one and only showing of my holiday favorites. Back then, you only got one shot at seeing them and then they were gone for another year.
I’ve always been like the Who’s – loving all things Christmas. I am the head cheerleader for Christmas in my family. Shopping for ornaments all year long, dressing my house in its holiday best and putting up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. But I also had a soft spot for the Grinch with his crabbiness and sour attitude. Even as a young child, I seemed to understand that Christmas could be a lonely, difficult time for some people. Imagine my dismay when I realized that for the first time in my life, I had much more in common with the Grinch than the Who’s.
This year I have struggled to find my Christmas spirit. When October came and I hadn’t bought the first ornament, I began to realize something was amiss. My husband will be working offshore for the holidays this year. Not having him home has always put a little damper on Christmas for me, but we just changed the date to celebrate while he was home and all was well. In order to do that this year, we had to move everything up by 10 days. Ongoing health problems for both daughters and me didn’t help matters. Discussions with my family were met with protests and general disbelief. When Thanksgiving came and went with no tree and no decorations, my family came to the realization that the orchestrator of all things Christmas at Chez Redmond was MIA.
A visit to my rheumatologist (a wonderful guy) resulted in a very strong recommendation to let go of the pressure to create the perfect Christmas. He asked “How can you pare it down to the things you love with the strongest meaning for you and your family and let the rest go for this year? You need to begin the process now because this will be truly unsustainable as you get older. There will come a time when you need to pass the torch.” He had a point. Each year we seem to try to do more, be more and make it perfect for all those we love. Over time, it builds to something that becomes unmanageable and burdensome. Something I know my family doesn’t want for me.
I was a little surprised at who stepped into the void – my husband. He pushed me to either abandon my big tree or come up with an easy, acceptable alternative. He shopped for the entire family and did a great job I might add. He helped with my version of a Christmas tree this year, wrapped gifts and cut and wrapped caramel without complaint. Best of all, he took everyone out to a local restaurant for a great family dinner to celebrate the holiday after we exchanged gifts.
Over the 35 years of our marriage, there have been many times when my husband has surprised me with little gestures that show how much he loves me and others when we found our roles in the marriage reversed. This was one of those times. I became the Grinch and he was the Who showing me the truest meaning of Christmas. Thanks, Babe!
The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man. ~Author Unknown
My husband and I found a rare intersection of opportunity and availability and were able to take a quickly scheduled vacation to Big Sky, Montana.
As Southerners, we had a little trepidation about the weather so late in the year, but were pleasantly surprised when we arrived. For the most part, a jacket and long sleeves or sweatshirt were perfect. We noticed some differences from home over the few days we were there outside the obvious swamp vs. mountain landscape. Many of the towns are very small and you drive a long time to get from place to place. There aren’t many restaurants in the area, nor are there many places to purchase the foods I usually eat (allergies to corn, eggs and gluten.) Though we did find some wonderful caramel made with tapioca syrup that was safe for me to eat – and I certainly enjoyed it! I was a little disappointed that we didn’t see a big horn sheep despite many warning signs along the road that we were in a crossing area. Oh, and cell phone coverage – forget it. This was especially frustrating since we usually rely on the GPS app on my phone. On the positive note, no one could call and bother us for most of the time we were there.
We arrived last Saturday with the idea that we would relax a day or two and then drive over to Yellowstone National Park. That plan got nixed quickly as we heard on the radio that Yellowstone would be closing for the season on Monday. We were up bright and early Sunday to spend the day at the park. Imagine our surprise when we spotted a red fox just outside our condo. I can’t describe Yellowstone, though I will share a few photos – I only took about 400. We saw bison, elk, and trumpeter swans. Steam pits, paint pots, mud volcanoes, Old Faithful and the most stunning scenery you could imagine. What you don’t see are the sounds and smells, though I wish you could. To hear the water boiling just under the ground and hot steam rising all around us was surreal. I only wish our grandchildren had been there – they would have loved it all.
We ended up cutting our trip short as the weather we had worried over was slated to arrive on our last couple of days there. They were expecting 2-3 feet of snow between Thursday and Saturday with highs in the low teens. The innkeeper warned that the mountain road would be closed to all traffic, so we decided to leave just before the storm hit. There was light snow as we drove down the mountain Thursday morning and about 12” on the ground by the time we boarded our 10 am flight. The plane had to be de-iced a couple of times, but we made it home safe and sound late Thursday afternoon.
Nature is really “in your face” there and I have great admiration for the people who live in that part of America. I’m too Southern-fried to manage the winter weather. Visiting Yellowstone was an unforgettable experience and being unplugged is something everyone should do more often – not just when we can’t get cell phone coverage.
“Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.” Leo Buscaglia
Life has been a whirlwind for our family over the last month. This is a busy time of year at Chez Redmond as we celebrate birthdays for Maggie, Katrina and Kim. Getting through the second anniversary of the accident was much better this year. Court dates – delayed yet again.
There has been lots of work travel for me with a big dollop of extra responsibilities. Travel bonus: A 2.5 hour flight delay offered the perfect time to teach a colleague Zentangle. She was a great student and is now a tangler. I taught my first Zentangle class as part of the LSU Leisure Class Series, with a second on Zendalas set for next Saturday. My deadline for next semester’s classes is tomorrow, so I’m working on a few extra ideas. Suggestions are welcome, I just need them quickly.
All of this has fostered the perfect environment for me to tangle away and de-stress. And that is exactly what I have been doing. I hope you enjoy my various gifts …
Ten fingers, Ten toes
She’s laughter and teardrops
So small and brand new
And amazingly angelic
She’s sent to bless you
She’s one special Baby
The best of life’s treasure
And will grant and bless you
Many hours of great pleasure.
Today is a special celebration for us as our first grandchild, Maggie, passes a milestone and becomes a teenager. She has had a challenging couple of years, surviving what should have been a fatal head injury just a few days after her eleventh birthday two years ago. If you are unfamiliar, the story is here. There has been a lot of healing for all of us this year, but especially for Maggie. I began speaking on behalf of victim families for a local program called Sudden Impact sponsored by Our Lady of the Lake Hospital and the LA State Police. Maggie agreed to an interview for the Children’s Hospital magazine as part of a much smaller article on the Sudden Impact program and is featured in the Spring 2012 edition of Wee Believe Magazine. She was then invited to dance at a Children’s Hospital Fundraiser where she met one of our local legends, Coach Les Miles of the LSU Fighting Tigers football team. The two hit it off when she challenged him to a “split off” and she recently met up with him at the season opener radio program. The next thing we knew, she was invited to practice with the LSU Golden Girls (her goal is to make that elite team in college) and the Tiger Band before the Washington game – all this on the weekend of her 13th birthday. They surprised her with a birthday card, signed poster, and a special Golden Girl shirt they had made for her. The Girls then took her over to the Pep Rally at the P-Mac where Mike the Tiger bowed and gave her a kiss on the hand. Her day wasn’t over yet, they surprised her with an invitation to march down the Indian Mound on campus in the pre-game parade to the stadium with them. Can I just say, this little girl was over the moon happy as she shared every second with me late last night. Once again, she was touched by angels – this time wearing purple and gold. I can’t thank Coach Miles, the LSU Golden Girls, the Tiger Band, the LSU Cheerleaders, and Mike enough for giving Maggie the gift of new and happy memories for a time of year that can be challenging. They truly do Love Purple, LIVE Gold!
The ZIA (Zentangle Inspired Art) I have posted today is for another special little girl, the baby of a friend of our youngest daughter and his wife. She got a tough start, but has proven to be a strong little fighter from the beginning and a blessing for her parents and family. I have held back on posting as I wanted her parents to be the first to see it. The piece was framed and delivered to the proud parents today. I love doing these as few decisions get more thought or are more meaningful than choosing the perfect name for a new baby. Best wishes to little Jensen and her very lucky parents.
It is only when we silent the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts. ~K.T. Jong
So…the shoulder injury didn’t respond to those less aggressive treatments and surgery was in order. I could have opted for doing nothing and settled for extremely limited movement of my left arm, but since my left hand is my dominant (drawing) hand, surgery it was about four weeks ago. I am pleased to say, my surgery was a complete success. Physical therapy is ongoing, but the 3 weeks of 6-8 hours a day in a CPM machine are now over. For those unfamiliar (as I was before) your arm is strapped into this machine and is automatically stretched up and out to increasing degrees. Kind of like exaggerated waving. Not much drawing going on, lots of reading and thinking and waayy too much TV. Luckily, I was sprung about 4 days before the CZT Retreat in Providence, RI!!
There was no obvious reason for me to attend a seminar to be certified to teach Zentangle, I already have that certification. It was a question I was asked many times by the “newbies” attending the seminar. For me it was about touching base with what drew me to Zentangle. Rick, Maria and Molly are such positive and enthusiastic presenters/teachers. It was nice to be the student again. I also got to meet so many wonderful new friends (now CZT’s) from all over the world. I can’t begin to explain the energy and sense of renewal that comes with spending three full days with a group like ours. I took some moments to “pick” Rick’s brain about how he draws Assunta. I like the tangle, but I struggle with it. He shared a few subtleties that really helped – maybe I’ll use it more often than just for Diva Challenges or Maria’s birthday. Since our last day was her birthday, we gifted her with tiles using Assunta and celebrated with cupcakes.
Now that I’m back home, I have been taking time to finish all those tiles started at the seminar. There were so many with the beginnings of tangles to learn techniques, tangle combinations a little outside the box and just half completed because we were moving on to something else. Maria taught a cute little frame that I will definitely use over and over. I’m showing the tile and a digital version with my wedding pic in it. You will likely recognize a “new” friend in these tiles. Be looking for the instructions in an upcoming Zentangle newsletter or if you can’t wait, find a CZT IX and take a class. While I didn’t take very many pictures, my tiles serve as my memories for this wonderful time in Providence. I hope you enjoy…
A few things to know about Louisiana:
- Possums sleep in the middle of the road with their feet in the air.
- There are 5,000 types of snakes, and 4,998 live in Louisiana.
- There are 10,000 types of spiders. All 10,000 live in Louisiana, plus a couple that nobody has seen before.
- Squirrels will eat anything.
- Unknown critters love to dig holes under tomato plants.
- Raccoons will test your crop of melons and let you know when they are ripe.
- If it grows, it sticks; if it crawls, it bites.
- A tractor is NOT an all-terrain vehicle. They do get stuck.
- Onced and Twiced are words.
- It is not a shopping cart, it is a buggy.
- Fire ants consider you their picnic.
- People actually grow and eat okra.
- “Fixinto” is one word.
- There ain’t no such thing as “lunch.” There’s “dinner” and then there’s “supper.”
- Sweet tea is appropriate for all meals, and you start drinking it when you’re two.
- Backwards and forwards” means, “I know everything about you.”
- “Jeet?” is actually a phrase meaning “Did you eat?”
- You don’t have to wear a watch because it doesn’t matter what time it is, you work until you’re done or it’s too dark to see.
For the Diva Challenge this week, Laura Harms asked for representations of the place we live. Gumbo, the swamp and sugar cane all come to mind for my home, south Louisiana. This made my tile pretty easy to accomplish. I also think of the crazy culture down here – maybe it’s the humidity (we blame everything on the humidity.) Take a look at www.spicycajun.com for some more fun stuff about life down here and a few great jokes too.
I have also decided to share my gumbo inspired tangle: Okra. Bon Apetit, y’all!
My Zentangle habit has been on standby for quite some time due to a shoulder injury that just refuses to cooperate with modern medicine. I have been busy booking some fun things for myself to do in the meantime. Hope springs eternal and my shoulder has till August to get with the program. I’ll be attending the upcoming CZT Workshop in Providence, RI with Rick and Maria. I can’t wait to spend some time with them and the next class of CZT’s. About a week later, I’ll be hanging out in Dallas for a long weekend with fellow CZT’s sharing knowledge and ideas at a workshop hosted by CZT Angie Vangalis. I’ve also contracted with LSU to teach two Zentangle classes for their Leisure Class program in October.
With all that coming up, I’ve decided to work through the pain and get back to tangling. You might say I’ve augmented my ongoing physical therapy. It takes me a long time and I’m working at larger scales (experiencing vision problems too) but I’m happy to have my Sakura pen in my left hand – tangling away on this week’s Diva Challenge.
Laura Harms challenged us to use the tangle Cadent this week. While it doesn’t have to be a monotangle effort, there is something to be gained when you push the tangle as far as you can go on a single piece. I really like Cadent. It appeals to the orderly piece of my brain with its grid-like organization, with a little twist of whimsy in the curved line connections. I struggle with tangleations on this one though. I think it’s because I like the tangle so much just as it is. For my challenge, I decided to see what would happen if I used Cadent “in the round” with circles as my strings. This little deviation made a big difference as I began to think about how I would change each iteration and a technique I will use again when I find myself on standby.
“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.” Henry Ward Beecher
Two things to remember about squirrels from the website A Squirrel Place:
- A squirrel’s brain is about the size of a walnut.
- When a squirrel senses danger, its first instinct is to stand motionless.
One of my colleagues arrived home from our week-long meeting to discover her home had been invaded by a squirrel. The critter had ample time to enjoy the luxurious digs. Convincing him to leave wasn’t easy and he took a dip in the pool for good measure before conceding defeat. I got a great laugh out of the story and was reminded of my own squirrel tale.
It was a lazy Sunday morning of movies with my daughter, Katrina. During silences in the dialogue, I kept hearing scratching noises coming from our fireplace. We had birds get in there in the past and I thought that might be the case again. The fireplace was equipped with glass doors, thank God, so I could see inside, but the “guest” couldn’t get out. We both inspected from every angle, but only the gas log was to be seen inside. “Mom, you are imagining things.” she huffs as she heads upstairs for a nap.
Later that afternoon, I’m hearing noises again, but this time I spy some movement in the back corner – a squirrel, a really big squirrel! How on earth am I going to get this thing out without getting bitten? Since my husband is gone, I make a quick call to my neighbor. He arrives with pillowcase and wire coat hanger in hand. The plan is for him to poke the squirrel with the hanger, open the doors and me to catch him in the pillowcase. I don’t much like this plan, but it doesn’t work anyway – reference fact number 2 above. After about an hour, the squirrel is now quite angry, chattering loudly and not budging from his corner. Animal control is not open on Sunday, but a call to the local police dispatches an officer at my house. The two men confer and decide to try more of the same, unsuccessfully. The cop sits down to think and lament that we can’t just shoot it. In the meantime, I manage to find someone with expertise willing to come out on Sunday for a hefty fee. I am just about to agree when Cop #2 arrives. He heard the news on his radio and couldn’t believe it was true. He assures me HE can get the thing out, don’t pay the expert. Said expert overhears this boast, laughs and tells me to call him back if I need him. Now my daughter has come out of her lair upstairs and begins to video the entire event with her cell phone. Cop #2 retrieves a “grabber” from his patrol car and the three men now confer around my fireplace to develop a plan. Having a brain bigger than a walnut, I open all the doors to the outside and close all the interior doors in the house just in case the squirrel has other ideas about that pillowcase. Just as I complete my round, there is huge commotion and much shouting in my living room. Mr. Squirrel made a break for it, exploding out of the fireplace and crossing the room in one leap. He made a complete circuit of the house at a top speed, finally zigzagged out the door, sooty footprints marking his path of escape.
Needless to say, the three men were full of pride having successfully evicted the squirrel. I don’t think they ever realized how ridiculous the whole thing really was, but I did and Katrina had it recorded! We very considerately wait for them to leave before taking a look at what she captured. What a disappointment! We see the three men gathered around the fireplace, then I hear my daughter’s voice “Oh ^&*$!!!!” and then nothing but the ceiling. “Well, he surprised me when he jumped out at me!” So we have no video documentation, but a heck of a good story. I’ll leave it to you to decide who won the battle of the brains.
Spring is not the best of seasons.
Cold and flu are two good reasons;
wind and rain and other sorrow,
warm today and cold tomorrow.
Spring has certainly sprung. I have been fighting a nasty case of the flu made even worse by the high pollen counts for about 10 days now. We’ve also had an extended period of terrible thunderstorms, rain, tornadoes and flooding in south Louisiana for the past week. Not the best combination of circumstances for creativity, but I’ve done a lot of tangling between naps and coughing spells. Plus there was a conference call or two thrown in for good measure. My Tangle A Day calendar is great for those!
Over the weekend, I tackled a few “projects.” One of my favorites is a tote bag I have had for over a year. I used one of the coloring pages from Sandy Steen Bartholomew’s new book Tangled Fashionista and I am so pleased with the result. I wasn’t procrastinating, just looking for inspiration. Shrinky Dink plastic was next on my list. That stuff really shrinks a lot! After a many false starts and rejects, I finally ended up with a pair of ZIA earrings that I would actually wear. Plus my grandkids had a great time watching the stuff curl and shrink.
Rick and Maria recently published the instructions for a new tangle, Fengle in their newsletter. CZT’s have had the instructions for a while now, so I’ve been practicing this one. It is definitely a tangle that improves with practice, possibilities unfurling each time you draw it. Laura Harms’ Diva Challenge this week is to use this new tangle, Fengle. I took up the challenge on the first day of spring so color was calling. I did several versions of the challenge, all with a bit of color.
Finally it’s Friday, the sun is shining and I am on the mend. I have my shipment of Zendala tins and those lovely round tiles are calling to me… ahhh Spring!