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A few minutes past 8 pm on March 6, 2015 my wonderful Aunt Sue passed away.  My heart is broken for my cousins now left to mourn their mom and all the people she touched in her lifetime.  I can think of no better way to honor her than to repost my tribute to her from 2011.  Love you Aunt Sue!

Everyone should have an Aunt Sue in their life.  I have so many wonderful memories of my Aunt Sue.   She has a big heart and generous spirit that welcomes everyone she meets.  My brother and I spent many childhood summers at her house, getting into mischief with our cousins.   These were lazy times for us.  I’ll forever associate her with endless hours of Yahtzee!, Canasta and a coffee pot that never seemed to empty.  Squabbles with my cousins over dishwashing duties and who was on which team for chores and for games.  While all of these things are treasured memories associated with my favorite aunt, those that seem to capture her best for me are the times I got to watch her do the “wedding ring” trick.  This was something of a rite of passage for the females in our family, though I have no idea how it works or why only Aunt Sue could do it.  Whenever one of the girls would get pregnant, Aunt Sue would get a visit.  She would take the girl’s wedding ring and run a thread through the ring.  Then, while the girl was lying down, she would hold the ring, suspended from the thread, over her usually very pregnant belly.  The motion of the ring – either back and forth or spinning – would determine the sex of the baby.  I was so fascinated by this whole ritual though I can’t remember which means boy or girl.  I would watch so carefully to see if she did anything to influence the outcome, but she never did anything to move the ring.  In fact, she made sure it was not moving in any way when she started.  I was so excited when my turn came and remember everything about it – except what she predicted and if she was right.  Oh well, it was magic to me just the same.

This weeks Diva Challenge, and the first I have finished on schedule, brought my Aunt Sue to mind.  Interestingly, this week’s challenge was issued by Sue Jacobs, CZT – coincidence?  I think not.  Sue’s challenge was to thread a string through a round object and allow it to drop onto the tile to form a random string.  Oh my!  Just like a wedding ring and a thread. I ended up doing three of these – one of which was created using my wedding ring in honor of my Aunt Sue.  It should come as no surprise that this one turned out to be my favorite of the trio.  I just might have to name it Sue – fitting, don’t you agree?

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Celebration

Celebration

“Do not take anything for granted — not one smile or one person or one rainbow or one breath, or one night in your cozy bed.” ~Terri Guillemets

I am happy to be here searching for the words to share my relief and gratitude.  My biopsy results came back negative!  Upon hearing the news, my husband let out a huge breath and with a very shaky voice told me how afraid he had been, but didn’t want me to know.  What a blessing to be able to once again go about the business of living our lives though with a heightened sense of how precious it is once again.

So many of you wrote personal notes, comments and sent thoughts and prayers for me and my family as we waited for the news about how our lives would proceed.  I cannot express how grateful I am for the caring hugs from so many people who only know me through my little blog.  Thank you from the bottom of my tangled heart!

The piece I am sharing today is my Celebration piece.  It is also in response to the Diva Challenge to use something for a stencil to form your string.  I ended up using a huge eraser shield bisected with a French curve that I had forgotten about having.  Since it was so large, this piece is done on 12” x 16” Canson Mi-Teintes Pastel paper.  I added a little stain around the outside to mask my smudgies from left handedness.  You will notice a great new tangle as yet unreleased to the public – contact your local CZT to get the drop on the general public.  Other tangles are Dragonair and Mooka plus the ever-present Tipple I just love to use.

I am thinking this one will be framed and be given a place in our home as a reminder to never take anything for granted and that I am blessed to have so many wonderful, caring people in my world.

Diva Challenge 107Quandary

Diva Challenge 107
Quandary

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.

Example of same page from Tangle A Day calendar - unshaded and shaded

Example of same page from Tangle A Day calendar – unshaded and shaded

My finished tile from Feb. 17 class at LSU

My finished tile from
Feb. 17 class at LSU

Demo of Cadent from class with Mi2 added

Demo of Cadent from class with Mi2 added

Student Class Mosaic from Feb 17 class at LSUBasic Zentangle

Student Class Mosaic from Feb 17 class at LSU
Basic Zentangle

Diva Dance 100

Diva Challenge 100 – the Diva Dance

“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!

Some fun with a tangelation blending Verve and IX

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.

Set of three tangled pumpkins

“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 …

Link for paper ball ornament instructions and templates

ZIA Baby Name gift

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.
Author Unknown

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.

Something new from CZT IX

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.  

From: www.spicycajun.com

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!

 

 

“Sometimes I think my life would make a great TV movie.  It even has the part where they say, ‘Stand by. We are experiencing temporary difficulties.’ “~Robert Brault

 

 

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.

 

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