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“I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering.” ~Steven Wright
It’s a bit of a random thought day. It seems that every day is some sort of holiday, so I took a look to see what obscure event I might be missing this week. So…who knew May 3 is Martin Z. Mollusk Day and just WHO is Martin Z. Mollusk?
It appears that M.Z.M. is a famous hermit crab from Ocean City. For more than 37 years he has been appearing on the beach in Ocean City on May 3. Why is this significant, you may ask? Because if he sees his shadow summer will come one week early, of course I knew that. Or maybe I was thinking about a groundhog with similar duties in February named Phil? If memory serves correctly, his record was pretty poor this year since many areas around the country had snowstorms this week. Maybe Martin does better; after all, he is quite old. He also has a 100% accuracy record, gets annual physicals and lives in an assisted living Crustacean Condo. To learn more about Martin Z. Mollusk and the special activities planned for May 3, check out the Ocean City, NJ website .
The whimsy associated with Martin Z. Mollusk Day carries through in the Zentangle Inspired Art pieces I am sharing today. I had a great time at Tangle University, learning quite a few fun techniques from my fellow CZT’s. Meredith Yuhas taught tangled gardens on toned paper and Marie Browning shared a fun technique with Tombow markers in a workshop she called Dr. Seuss’ Garden. Sandy Steen Bartholomew sponsored a contest that challenged CZT’s to use images from her book, Tangled Fashionista. Since my new skills were top of mind, I used them to finish 2 entries for Sandy’s contest. Wonder of wonders, I was a runner up with my Fairy Garden. I hope you enjoy the results of my little flight of fancy.
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.
“King Cake: A party staple from January 6 through Mardi Gras day, the cake is named for the three kings who visited the Christ Child and whose feast, the Epiphany, is celebrated on January 6, the Twelfth Night after Christmas. Traditionally, the cake is a brioche pastry baked in a circle, suggesting a crown (although for convenience, large ones are oval). They are sprinkled with gem-like sugar crystals in the official Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold. A plastic baby (symbol of the Christ Child), or in some cases a bean, is baked inside. By custom, the one who finds it throws the next king cake party. Lately, the brioche recipe has been supplemented by a coffee-cake ring alternative. French settlers brought the gâteau des rois to Louisiana in the 18th century. Their original round, flaky pastry pie filled with almond crème and topped by a paper crown, is now making a comeback in the French pastry shops around the city.” from New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau website
I’ve never been a big fan of Mardi Gras parades, but I love the history and lore associated with the holiday. My particular favorite is the King Cake. Just about every grocery store and bakery has their own special version with a variety of flavors ranging from plain (a little cinnamon) to Voodoo and Praline. Heated discussions revolve around where to find the best King Cake in the state and everyone has a favorite flavor. Natives lament the fact that the baby is no longer baked into the cake (liability now that they are shipped around the world, you know.) King Cake parties are frequent so everyone can get their fill because these treats are only made from January 6 through Mardi Gras day.
Since I have celiac disease and food allergies, King Cake has not been on my menu for many years. Each year as I run the gauntlet of brightly colored boxes stacked as high as my head and savor the rich aromas, I feel a little twinge of longing. This is one of the few times I miss being able to eat something on my “bad” list. I can watch dinner companions eat fresh bread, biscuits, cornbread and more without batting an eye but when it comes to King Cake, it’s another story altogether. That all changed this year. I learned last week that a local bakery/deli specializing in gluten-free, allergy friendly foods would be making King Cakes. Oh Joy!! I skated close to the deadline, picking up my special strawberry cream cheese King Cake yesterday afternoon, but I will eat King Cake this Mardi Gras season! In honor of this momentous occasion, I decided to create a Mardi Gras/King Cake inspired Zendala. The tangle Brayd fits my purposes perfectly as the dough of a King Cake is braided and decorated with Mardi Gras colored purple, gold and green sugar. Add beads, a crown and masks and it’s Mardi Gras on my tile. Now I am off to enjoy these last few hours of Fat Tuesday and my first taste of King Cake in years. Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Heartfelt thanks to Eric at Truly Free Bakery for creating my special treat!
“The key to successful aging is to pay as little attention to it as possible.” Judith Regan
So here I am, another year older. I’m happy to report my birthday was much more relaxed than last year. I spent most of my birthday week with my work team mates at a regional meeting. Connecting with my friends and colleagues and sharing ideas and catching up are the best part of these meetings for me. I have a long list of “stuff” and ideas to implement prompted by the diversity that always breeds creativity. My birthday itself was a long and very productive work day (thanks to that list of “stuff”) followed by a lazy evening with my husband at home. Much better than the hospital waiting room where I spent my birthday last year.
For the last few years, my husband has been using the occasion of my birthday to gift me with a special Zentangle related trip just for me. It started with my first certification seminar with Rick and Maria in 2011. This was a much needed break from the chaos in our lives at the time and a chance to heal my spirit. Just as my work meetings allow me to reconnect with friends and colleagues and refresh my thinking about my work; these trips offer me the opportunity to refresh my creative spirit and connect with my Zentangle friends. This year it will be Tangle U in Northampton, Mass. I am sooo excited to have this opportunity to meet so many of the rock stars of the Zentangle world I have only admired through their books an blogs.
I’ve never been one to make very much of my birthday. I think it’s because my birthday falls just after Christmas and seems pretty anticlimactic. I have friends and family who begin announcing and celebrating their big day weeks in advance. Other are so caught up in the number, fudging what it really is, to the point they lose track of their real age. To each his own. I’m okay with the number, 52 this year, and I rarely raise the subject of my upcoming birthday. I had to think a few moments when asked by a team mate about the date last week. Being remembered with a little note or simple “Happy Birthday” is great, much more is a little embarrassing. What I DO celebrate is one more year to enjoy my Dad, treasure my children and grandchildren, and thank God for good health and a sharp mind. And be grateful to have found my other half so early in my life. He’s my polar opposite, preferring sports and numbers, early mornings and a “do it now” attitude. The man possesses no inclination toward creativity, though he appreciates art and beauty and has the sensitivity to encourage me to explore and enjoy those things he doesn’t understand. What more could you ask for in a mate?
“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 …
"Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children." -President George W. Bush, November 11, 2001…
A few days ago, I got a note from Kelley at TangleUntangled telling me she had nominated my blog for the One Lovely Blog Award. What a lovely thing to do! Kelley is a newly minted CZT and has a very lovely blog herself. A part of being nominated is to share 7 facts about myself and nominate 10 other blogs. Ten is a big number, but once I reflected on it, kind of small too. I don’t follow a ton of blogs though my list is much longer than ten. It was like choosing one child over another since I really love the blogs I do follow. So, here we go:
7 Facts about Kathy:
- I am left handed but have a thinking style that is a blend of both right and left brain. That makes me unique in the world of interior design. I have no patience for “dithering” over miniscule nuances – pick one already and move on!
- I skipped a grade in school and finished high-school at age sixteen.
- I waited until I was 32 years old to go to college for the first time because I was afraid I couldn’t do it. I earned both degrees with Summa Cum Laude honors.
- My English professor at LSU tried to get me change my major to English, but writing was pure torture for me. Getting beat up in design critiques was much easier.
- I love writing my blog because I get to choose the subject and ramble at will.
- My black Cairn terrier was my “dream dog.” He is named Howie Long, for obvious reasons. He’s a good looking hunk of a dog.
- I am an introvert working in the world of sales and cannot remember names, faces or numbers. Really.
Now for my 10 Lovely Blog nominees in alphabetical order:
- Beez in the Belfry – Sandy is the author of my favorite Zentangle book, Yoga for the Brain. Sandy writes and I read/buy. I love that her latest effort, The Tangles of Kells, is an ebook that can live on my iPad.
- Enthusiastic Artist – Margaret Bremner has a wonderful way of outlining process and helping her readers to understand how she achieves such amazing art. Her interview explaining Zentangle is a must read and I share it often.
- I am the diva – Certified Zentangle Teacher – Laura invites you into her life and manages to make sure all the tanglers out there get their weekly Diva Challenge fix. She is a truly amazing young woman and an inspiration to me every time I read her blog whether I get to the challenge or not.
- Life Imitates Doodles – Sandy Strait may not be a CZT, but believe me, she is a powerhouse for the art form. There’s always something good on her blog ranging from new tangles to meticulous product reviews.
- Open Seed Arts – I was introduced to Carole’s amazing talent when my friend, Karen, gave me her 2011 calendar as a Christmas gift. I absolutely love her drawing style – and according to Karen, she’s a rock star beader too!
- Sue’s Tangle Trips – Sue Jacobs is so inspiring and shares her knowledge freely. I have learned and grown as an artist from Sue and her blog.
- Tangled Ink Art – Sue Clark’s blog is another feast for the eyes and mind.
- TangleUntangled – Kelley’s blog is new, but I have enjoyed every post so far, plus she honored me with one of her ten nominations. Thanks Kelley.
- The Bright Owl – Erin has been rolling out Zendala Dares for quite a while. She does an amazing job of coming up with Zendala templates and shares them with her readers. Erin takes the mystery out of working in the round and offers those who struggle with strings a little break every week.
10. WeaveABead – My friend Karen is an amazing bead artist and I love seeing what she’s working on now that I don’t get to see her every day.
Now on to the one big OOPS! I was really impresses with Margaret’s post Mo’Auraknot. My wheels were turning when I saw what she did with Sandy Strait’s tangle Exinside and mixing it up with Auraknot. What I ended up with bears little resemblance to the inspiration, what I had in my head or Sandy’s tangle. I thought it was time to work on black and plunged in without ever drawing Exinside at all. First, I find drawing on black with white a real challenge, but hey, I’m pushing my limits. It was clear by step 3 that I had made a serious misjudgment on scale here. So, practicing what I preach to all my students, I kept on going. No mistakes – make the best of what you have at the moment – just like life. No do-overs. So I am sharing this OOPS that really isn’t at all. I’m pleased with the end result. Some of my best work has begun with something that went awry and I just kept on fixing it. That’s one of the most profound aspects of Zentangle. Think about it the next time you have a tile, or a life event, that you think is an OOPS!
Most of the people of Louisiana have begun the process of putting homes, businesses and lives back together. Hurricane Isaac really seemed to take his own sweet time passing through, creating torrential rains, flash floods and general misery as he inched across the state. I say misery because there are still homes without electricity and that’s not pleasant with 100% humidity. Many have generators for just such an eventuality (one of those lessons we learn) but the price of fuel these days make it expensive to keep the fridge, freezer and a fan or two operating.
Road closures, cancelled flights and flash floods caused me some aggravation as I was scheduled to attend a CZT Retreat in Dallas this Labor Day weekend. After more than three hours on the road to travel a grand total of ten miles (with more than sixty left) I admitted defeat and began the long process of trying to go back home. Flash floods had closed several roads on the way back home along with the only open route to the airport. I was looking forward to meeting so many of the CZT’s in other certification classes and feeding off the collective creativity of these talented ladies. They did some amazing stuff. Here’s hoping there is another retreat in the near future – maybe after hurricane season? On the positive side, I did get to enjoy watching my LSU Tigers win their first game of the season. Coach Miles had invited my granddaughter to attend his radio show and I got to share her excitement on Thursday night. The two seem to have developed a mutual admiration society after he heard her story and saw her dance at a fundraiser for the OLOL Children’s Hospital.
We were quite lucky with no real damage and only intermittent loss of electricity thanks to the fact that our power lines are underground. My house was a total mess from all the extra people and I am still trying to figure out how my floors got so filthy. I spent all day Sunday putting things in order and cleaning floors so I could relax on Labor Day and enjoy some tangle time. I have been following a new blog, The Bright Owl. Erin has been posting some really nice challenges using Zendalas though I haven’t taken up the challenge till this week. She even shares the templates – how nice is that? I took some time today to play with her latest challenge template. I had a couple of ideas, so why not do two? One was completed on a regular tile (with very subtle watercolor background) and the other on a Zendala tile. If you are looking for some inspiration, scoot on over to The Bright Owl and take a look at some of the amazing work there.