Solace in Solitude, Agnes Martin, “Mystic Minimalist”


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“Falling Blue” by Agnes Martin, 1963

For those seeking solace in solitude during these turbulent times and covid isolation, I offer these minimalist paintings for comfort and contemplation.

“My paintings are not about what is seen. They are about what is known forever in the mind.” -Agnes Martin

To truly see and appreciate Martin’s paintings, which are quite large, you might want to click on the images and zoom in to discover how intricately they are designed and woven, how subtle the entwining colors, like the woof and warp of carefully crafted fabric. To see how the order and calmness of the design pulls you in and stills the mind.

Painter Agnes Martin's works provide quiet in a noisy world - The Washington Post
“Night Sea” (1963) by Agnes Martin. Oil, crayon and gold leaf on linen

When I try to imagine the crafting of such paintings, the meticulous grids, the fine, faintly undulating hand-drawn lines, the cool, retiring colors, the tedious and calming task of such minute work on such a grand scale, I am awed with wonder and delight. What it must have felt like in the moment, the mindstate one would have to have to create such a thing! The be that. To be there. To be. How marvelous.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Agnes_Martin_7.jpg
“Friendship” by Agnes Martin, gold leaf and gesso on canvas

It reminds me of the huge difference between mind-calming and mind-numbing activities. Huge difference between no-thought meditation and blankness of mind. Subtle rivers of movement and color run through it, stir and dissolve, full and empty, bouyant, light, deeply comforting. An all-embracing, silently singing, hug.

The noted art critic Hilton Kramer once said Martin’s work was “like a religious utterance, almost a form of prayer.”

A few more paintings follow, as well as quotes from articles about Martin, her life, her works, and her philosophy.

Agnes Martin | Flower in the Wind (1963) | Artsy
“Flower in the Wind” by Agnes Martin, 1963

“Martin, who died in 2004 in Taos, N.M., at age 92, was interested in sensations like the inexplicable happiness you might feel when you wake up in the morning — that fleeting feeling, sunlight tiptoeing on your eyelids as you break the surface of consciousness, when you’re aware only of being aware.” —Kelsey Ables, Painter Agnes Martin’s Works Provide Quiet in a Noisy World, Washington Post

The Wintery Grids of Agnes Martin – Hand-Eye Supply
Agnes Martin

“Agnes Martin’s world is one of order and tranquility, as minutely patterned grids and ruler straight bands expand across vast surfaces suggesting wide open space. Yet there is also sensitive musicality at play as lines tremble and colour relationships become vibrating rhythm, tapping into the profound realms of human spirituality.” —Rosie Lesso, Agnes Martin: Mystic Minimalist

Agnes Martin | Wood 1 (1965) | Artsy
“The Wood, I” Agnes Martin

“According to Agnes Martin, both paintings and contact with nature can prompt a greater awareness of what she calls perfection. Her essential view of the world is of daily life superimposed on top of an underlying perfection. Both paintings and nature, she believes, provide opportunities for a glimpse into another way of being in the world. The work of art links the daily to the sublime; or, in Martin’s terms, by engaging and moving the viewer, art can reveal the basic perfection. According to Martin, perfection is almost like a map, if we pay attention. Once we have received a glimpse of perfection, she believes, we can seek it on our own, and the reaction to perfection is joy.” –Joanna Webber, The Image Journal

The Paris Review - Blog Archive Agnes Martin Finds the Light That Gets Lost
“Stars” by Agnes Martin

 “Nature is like parting a curtain, you go into it. I want to draw a certain response like this … that quality of response from people when they leave themselves behind, often experienced in nature, an experience of simple joy… My paintings are about merging, about formlessness … A world without objects, without interruption.” –Agnes Martin

 “Beauty is the mystery of life. It is not just in the eye. It is in the mind. It is our positive response to life.”  –Agnes Martin

Agnes Martin: Mystic Minimalist
“The Islands” by Agnes Martin, acrylic and graphite on canvas

“[Martin’ adopted a palette of muted shades of brown, beige, gray and white, sometimes warmed by soft washes of pink, orange or blue. The colors and titles, such as “Mountains,” “Dark River,” “Starlight” and “Leaf in the Wind,” suggested the landscape and skies of her adopted New Mexico. They were not realistic depictions but rather subtle evocations of the sensations and emotional weight of the natural world.” —Matt Shudal, Influential Abstract Painter Agnes Martin Dies at 92, Washington Post

Agnes Martin in her studio in Taos, New Mexico in 1953.

“Artwork is a representation of our devotion to life.” –Agnes Martin

Agnes Martin: The mind knows what the eye has not seen - MacKenzie Art  Gallery | MacKenzie Art Gallery
Agnes Martin, 2019

The Gift of Consession


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To counter Trump's smears, Joe Biden must learn from Hillary Clinton's  mistakes - Chicago Sun-Times

“Donald Trump is going to be our president. We must accept this result and then look to the future. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.”

This is what Hillary Clinton said in her concession speech in 2016 when half the nation was in deep mourning. Many were convinced that the election had been “stolen”: by Trump’s call-out to Putin and the following Russian disinformation campaign, by Wiki-Leaks hacking of Democratic servers, by Comey’s disgraceful announcement of yet another fruitless investigation only days before the election, by the media’s constant hounding on the now debunked email scandal, by the razor-thin margin of votes that cracked the Blue Wall, by the fact that three million more people voted for Clinton than Trump.

As an avid supporter of Clinton, it was not easy to let go and move on, as I wrote about four years ago in Waking Up in an Alternate Reality. It still seems we are living in that alternate universe where half the country believes that Trump won instead of Biden.  But Clinton’s concession speech, so full of grace and dignity, was a shining example of how to do so. It helped me immensely. She went on to say:

“Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power. We don’t just respect that. We cherish it. It also enshrines the rule of law; the principle we are all equal in rights and dignity; freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values, too, and we must defend them.”

“This is painful, and it will be for a long time, but I want you to remember this: Our campaign was never about one person, or even one election. It was about the country we love.”

I wish President Trump could give this gift of concession to his supporters, a speech that would help them to move on to fight another day. And encourage them to give the next President an open mind and chance to lead. That’s what true leaders do. They put their country and their supporters first. But Trump’s presidency was never about this nation. It was about one man, Trump, who he will always put first.

These lawsuits will not change the outcome of the election. But in the meantime, chaos still reigns supreme under this administration. January 20th can not come fast enough.

Truth and Love Wins, and I Can Breathe Again!


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I feel like I’ve been ship-wrecked at sea for the past four years and finally have reached the shore.

I want to kiss the ground.

And then get up and dance.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, America!!!

Voting for the Soul of America


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Today’s the day. If you haven’t voted yet, please do!
Vote for Love over hate,
Truth over lies,
Unity over division,
Peace over chaos,
Integrity over corruption,
Honesty over deceit,
Kindness over bullying,
Social Justice over racism,
Science over fiction,
Humility over vanity,
Service over selfishness,
Decency over boorishness,
The Common Good over self-interest,
Principle over expediency,
Democracy over tyranny,
America over Trumpism.

True Ghost Stories: Growing Up in a Haunted House


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House on Haunted Hill large

Have you ever had any ghostly encounters?

Each year around this time, I like to reblog a series of tales about my encounters with the ghostly and unexplained, starting when I was a child, and later full grown with children of my own. The first is printed below with links to the others.

While ”intellectually” I don’t believe in ghosts, demons, and the like, I have experienced such. And I cannot deny that the phenomena which I and others–indeed, all known cultures and societies–have laid claim to, are “real.” The reality they seem to have is unexplained, often unverifiable, and usually fleeting and ephemeral. And yet they persist in haunting humanity.

I can neither explain, verify, nor dismiss the reality of the experiences that I relate here. I can only state that these things occurred as I remember them, or as others I trust related them to me. And most were witnessed by more than one person

Happy Halloween!

Our House on a Haunted Hill

When I was a kid “House on Haunted Hill” was my favorite spooky movie. I first saw it a few years after my own family had escaped, just barely, from a haunted house experience. While living there I was not aware of all the horrors that house contained, and only learned the full account when my mother felt I was old enough to learn the truth.

I was eight years old when my parents rented a home set on a hillside in an older, respectable neighborhood in Omaha, Nebraska. The attic had been converted into two rooms, a tiny room overlooking the back yard and garage; and a huge room overlooking the front yard. This larger room had been recently renovated and then abruptly abandoned, it appeared. The high pitched ceiling and walls were covered in a richly varnished, knotty pine paneling. Finely crafted drawers and book cases had been built beneath the eaves. But the floor, made of rough, unvarnished planks of wood, had been left unfinished. And a large reddish-brown stain that looked like a puddle of blood had soaked into the wood.


This was my bedroom and I loved it. Being an avid fan of Nancy Drew mysteries, the giant blood stain only added to the allure of the room–that and the trap door on the floor of the walk-in closet. While the door had been nailed shut, I could still probe the cracks with a ruler, detecting steps that led downward—to where, no one knew. My discovery sent chills of delight down my back.

In fact, I was thrilled to have the whole second story all to myself. Even though the second smaller room could have easily accommodated my little brother, my mother made him sleep down below in the tiny room at the bottom of the stairs. She claimed the small room upstairs was “too cold” and used it as a storage room instead. She filled it with unpacked boxes and unused furniture, forbidding me to play there—which, of course, made the room seem even more desirable.

I remember entering the room often to play by myself and looking out the dusty window toward the mysterious barn-like structure that faced the alley. The structure, which could easily have accommodated several cars, sat empty nearly the whole time we lived there, and my brother and I were forbidden to play here as well. It too was considered “too cold” for human habitation. The one time I did enter, my eyes were drawn upward to the high rafters where, through the rotting roof, splinters of light filled with ghostly dust motes fell to the floor. I did not enter again. When some teenage boys wanted to use the garage to rebuild a car, they moved out after a couple of nights, never to return—even though they had paid rent for a full month.

I thought it strange when my mother kept wanting to move me out of my lovely upstairs “apartment” to a room below and I refused to be moved. She kept asking if I was afraid up there all by myself, but I insisted I wasn’t. This was true. I knew what needed to be done to stay safe, although I never shared this with my mother. It was a ritual that I religiously followed. Every night after my mother heard my prayers and tucked me into bed, I would pull the covers tight over my head and stay there until I fell asleep. I knew somehow that no harm would come to me if I followed this ritual. And no harm ever did come to me.

I might well have been very afraid if I had heard what my parents heard at night as they slept in the room below mine.


Often my mother was woken by the sound of heavy, dragging footsteps lumbering across room over her bed, and she would wake my father and make him go upstairs to investigate. At first he did so wearily, thinking she was imagining it. But once he woke early enough to hear it himself and went dashing up the stairs—but nothing was there and I was sound asleep in my bed.

We moved shortly thereafter. That’s when the neighbors told us about the horrible tragedy that had taken place in the house before we moved in. They hadn’t wanted to tell us earlier and scare us away. Apparently the previous owner of the house had murdered his wife in my bedroom and then hung himself afterwards from the rafters in the garage.

If some other tragic event took place in the small room next to mine upstairs—the coldest room in the house–we never learned. Whatever haunted that room did more than drag its feet across the floor or blow cold air down our spines. During our final days in that home, my mother, to her terror, found this out–with no one but my three-year-old brother at home to save her. Your can read about this in Part II of this series, listed below.

You can read the full series of true ghost stories at the links below which were first posted in 2013



The Personal & Political, Past & Present


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America Today | Thomas Hart Benton | 2012.478a-j | Work of Art | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art
America Today by Thomas Hart Benton

Years ago, in what seems like another life time, I wrote a political column called “Taking Care of Labor” in the local daily newspaper. It was in direct response, or opposition, to another column called “Taking Care of Business” written by my nemesis, Andy Caldwell. Interestingly, Caldwell is now running for the seat of an old colleague of mine, Salud Carbajal, who is the current US Congressman for our District.

I didn’t know either man when I began writing the column. I was teaching as an adjunct professor or part-time instructor at three different colleges and universities at the time. I was what was known then as a “Freeway Flyer,” someone who pieces together a full-time living on part-time wages. Part-time instructors were all the rage back then and no doubt they still are.

Colleges and universities could save tons of money hiring teaching staff on a part-time basis, where they didn’t have to provide health care or offices, or pay for “office hours” to advise students. Instead, we part-timers held office hours in libraries, or on campus benches, or even from the tailgates of our cars when we needed to hand out study materials from files we kept in back seats. Indeed, we only got paid for the actual hours we spent in class, not for the considerable prep time before class or for the evaluations and grading of work after class. But this exploitation of part-time labor wasn’t confined to higher education. It was, and still is, rampant throughout all industries.

That’s when I entered politics, to help right this wrong. My column was my first step on this road. I also was involved in creating a state-wide association for part-time community college instructors so we could lobby for change at the state level. I served as the communications director, writing and editing a newspaper for members that was distributed to every college campus across the state. Eventually I led an effort to organize a union for part-time instructors at one of the colleges where I worked. As its first president and contract negotiator, we were able to finally get increased wages, paid office hours (no offices however), and some limited health insurance.

After all this, however, I became so disenchanted with higher education that I left it to work in the nonprofit field. This is where I met Carbajal. He was the board president of the Santa Barbara County Action Network (SBCAN) when I joined. He left soon after to become a county board supervisor, and I eventually became the board president, and then the Director, of SBCAN, advocating on social justice and environmental issues at the city and county level. My column evolved to take up that work–again, in opposition to Caldwell’s columns. We butted heads often when advocating on opposite sides of issues at Board of Supervisor hearings.

Once Andy and I appeared back to back for interviews on a local radio station. He challenged me to a public debate. I had to laugh it off. I knew, and my board buddies knew, that he would have behaved in much the same manner as Trump treated Biden at that first debate. We weren’t willing to give him that show.

When my husband retired in 2011 and we moved to a new county, I also retired. I had become disenchanted with political advocacy and sought a creative life. At the core of my being I had always thought of myself as a writer, and now I would have the time to pursue that. I’ve managed to stay outside politics, or on its fringe all these years. I could well afford to because I lived in a state and county that “leaned left” as I did. I was happy and relieved to let others lead in local politics.

But it does seem strange now as I watch TV ads by my former nemesis, Caldwell, and my former colleague, Carbajal, vying for the same seat in Congress. Both still actively fighting the good fight, as they see it, while I sit on the sidelines. One of our SBCAN board members was a political icon in Santa Barbara County well into her nineties. She would attend our board meetings, as well as a dozen others in her walker. She was actively engaged in politics until the day she died. I fear she would be disappointed in me.

There was a time when she and other colleagues hoped that I would take Carbajal’s path, running for a seat on city council or county board of supervisors. I was sorry to have to disappoint them. But having sat through so many of those meetings, I knew I would be bored to tears to take that on full-time. It’s not where my passion lay.

I do not regret that choice, but it’s interesting sometimes to look back and see where we’ve been and where it led us. And sometimes I think I could have taken up a larger pen, even in retirement, to advocate on the issues that most touch my heart–a living wage, affordable housing, an end to homelessness, decriminalization of drug use, and increased services and treatment programs for substance abuse and mental health.

Perhaps I’m writing all this to assuage a guilt I still sometimes feel, having abandoned colleagues and causes I had once fought so fervently with and for. Looking back, I can honestly say I’d “been there, done that.” I’d hoped this would reassure me in my choice to go another direction now.

But it also reminds me how the good fight never really seems to end. Certainly not in one lifetime. Martin Luther King, Jr., reminded us that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Inch by slow inch.

I am deeply grateful to all who are still actively engaged in helping to bend that mighty arc.

Sacred Music from Around the World


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Women Dancing in a Circle  Warren B. Davis (American, 1865–1928)  Oil on board

Women Dancing in a Circle Warren B. Davis (American, 1865–1928) 

Long ago my daughter gifted me with a CD of sacred music from around the world. It became a favorite to play during my morning meditation and exercise routine. I’m not sure you can get the CD anymore, but I was able to find a few of my favorite songs on You-Tube.

If you listen to these, you will notice how the music often starts slow, which is perfect for meditating, stretching or Yoga. But then the rhythm picks up and it’s almost impossible not to want to jump up and move, to dance or jog along with the beat.

The first song, Shema Yisearel (“Hear, O Israel”), is a sacred Jewish prayer sung in the morning and evening. Rita Glassman is an ordained Cantor and composer.

This next one is a mantra sung to the African Goddess Oshun of rivers and waterfalls, the “unseen mother present at every gathering.” Deva Premal is celebrated for her spiritual and meditative music.

This last is a Hindu mantra, or universal prayer, which roughly translates, “You Divine Mother are my everything.” The song  ends with the “Om Shanti, Om Shanti, Om Shanti” chant, an invocation for peace. Gina Sala is also well-known for singing sacred chants.


“More to Me Than Time Allows to Be”


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Artadoo - Artist: Tian Xu Tong
By Tian Xu Tong

I wrote this years ago, a kind of declaration for a state of being with which I passionately identified, although it seemed so beyond what I or anyone could reach at the time:

Epitaph for a Tombstone

I am compressed within my skin like a time bomb.

There is more to me than time allows to be.

When the end comes I’ll explode like an atom.

It is my end to explore infinity.

It seemed at the time I wrote it that there was so much I wanted to do and explore, and yet I wasted so much time on trivial things, that I feared my end would come before actualizing even a fraction of my potential. I could not accept that such would be the end of me. Surely this keenly felt unlived life would burst through the shell of being into something infinitely elastic, and all that I was or was meant to be would be realized eventually.

Now that my end of days have grown so much nearer, that sense of there being more to me than time allows to be has not diminished. But I think of it somewhat differently. That escape into an ever-expansive sense of self no longer seems to lie upon a birth-death or time-space axis but within the here and now which defies such limitations.

That smallness of being which so ill-fits us, which pinches and punishes, which we all in this present life seem heir to, does not define us and has little in reality to do with us. It’s but an ill-shaped mind-box that seems to contain us but never really can.

It’s as if this limited life which seems to bind us is like a box with four sides. Before and behind us are Birth and Death, and on either side are I and Other. Below is the Ground of Being which supports us. But there is no lid above. It is open to the Wonder or Mystery of Being, enticing us to rise beyond the strictures of time and space, birth and death, I and Other. Inviting us to explore what lies beyond this small sense of self; and so we do, each following our bliss. Through exploration of the sciences or creative arts, or by pursuing the ideals of freedom, equality, justice, service, selfless love, and the common good, we rise somewhat out of our smaller selves into something more expansive.

But until those opposing walls of birth and death, time and space, and I or Other collapse, we are still confined within a smaller, ill-fitting sense of being. We can slip in and out of that box, but cannot escape it altogether. Death is not the door that frees us. Mind is.

Rising to a higher, more expansive sense of self that identifies both with the Ground of Being that supports us, and the Wonder of Being that surrounds us, we find our freedom. There the restrictive walls that would bind us collapse for lack of identity.

All the great spiritual teachings point in that direction. Not toward something outside or apart from us, but toward a more expansive identity : the Kingdom of God, Enlightenment, the Tao. All lie within a higher consciousness or understanding of being.

We know this, it is not new. Nor is it far away. We all taste it, hear it, glimpse it in rarified moments even within this limited sense of self.

When one student asked the sage to show him this higher reality we sometimes call God, the master said, “There, do you not smell it?” as their feet crushed the sweet arbutrus beneath them.

Nothing is hidden. We all catch that whiff of the infinite in humble and exquisite ways along our journey within.

But perhaps this is all too esoteric. Here’s something more concrete.

The other day we all learned how President Trump had contracted Covid. Not a fan of Trump and angry at how he had been been downplaying the disease in a way that appeared to cost thousands of lives, I was not sympathetic. I thought this was his just dessert. I even felt a bit gleeful since he had been mocking Biden about wearing a mask only a few days previously. I hoped he would experience more than mild symptoms so that he would have more compassion for others who had suffered, and not come away saying it wasn’t so bad after all, nothing to worry about to his followers.

Yet thinking this way felt uncomfortable, like putting on shoes a size too small. They pinched. But I couldn’t quite lift my thought away from such feelings, thinking them justified.

The next morning during my spiritual practice my thought completely shifted as I once again began to identify with this higher sense of self, where I and Other melted away. I felt this deep empathy and sympathy toward the president. Not toward his plight contracting Covid. But rather toward the plight we all share when confined within this small, tight, pinched sense of identity. I thought of what he could be, and actually is, when those four walls of restriction fall away and he too experiences that more expansive sense of self where there is no I or Other.

I remembered what his niece, Mary Trump, had written about his upbringing, how he’d been shaped to be the boastful, selfish, egotistical man he seems to be, how his values and sense of self had been warped. Each of us have similar life experiences that shape and limit us, that we all need to outgrow. Perhaps this Covid experience will help him. Perhaps not. Either way it wasn’t my business.

My business was to lift my own sense of self beyond the thought-patterns that had so pinched the day before. To experience the deep sympathy that rises from the ground of being and unites us all. To once again savor that sweet wonder that lifts us beyond ourselves.

It’s not so esoteric after all.

Grieving for America, and Getting Past It


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These are most amazing photos of starling murmurations | World Photography Organisation

I found this quote by Mary Oliver in a recent blog post and it struck a chord.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it

— Mary Oliver, from “Starlings in Winter”

So many of us have been grieving and fearing for our country of late, with the upcoming election and all the uncertainty and chaos it promises.

Feeling so keenly the need to get past this grief and fear I eagerly sought out the full poem to see what wisdom or encouragement Oliver’s “Starlings in Winter” might impart. Not surprisingly, I was not disappointed.

Starlings in Winter

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

What I read in this poem is a metaphor, not so much for what is happening in our country today that makes us grieve, but for what is so resilient and beautiful about who we are as a people, as a nation, and why we will survive even this.

The starlings and the miraculous murmurations they create in flight are a symbol for the principles upon which this nation was founded and our messy history in striving to live up to those principles, to create a more perfect union.

Like the starlings we are “chunky and noisy, but  with stars” in our eyes as well as on the back of our flag.  We created and continue to create this miraculous, exceptional, “notable thing”, this republic, this democracy, these United States. And we did so during the wintry blasts of protest and rebellion against an authority we no longer wished to follow. We did so as acrobats, flying through the uncertainty of the times, “dipping and rising” across time and space, through decades of challenges, “fragmented for a moment” and then reuniting again and again.

Like the poet’s narrator, I “simply cannot imagine how they did it,” our forefathers and foremothers, how “in the freezing wind,” through “the theater of time” they created what we have today, this “silent confirmation” of a miracle,  “this notable thing,” this free-flowing, ever-changing but endurable nation.

Even now, during these challenging times, this “leafless season” of Covid, this “ashy city” of race riots, this chaotic election where our democracy itself appears to be in peril, even now what makes us great is that this “notable thing” we still are, still endures. Still is viable.

“There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed by what is right with America.” –President Bill Clinton

I believe this in my bones, and with all my “heart, pumping hard.” What lifts me past the turmoil of the times, past the grief that seems so prevalent, is the remembrance of and faith in this “this notable thing, this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin over and over again, full of gorgeous life.” Full of purpose and promise.

One man, one administration, one season of cold wintry blasts, one chaotic election— even one devastating defeat—will not defeat us. Will not diminish this “notable” nation that stands out unique in all of history. This “city upon a hill,” as another President called us.

It’s not hope but faith in who and what we are, for all our faults, that moves me past grief, beyond fear.

“There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed by what is right with America.”  We will right this.

A Secret Garden for My Granddaughter


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A Secret Garden for my Granddaughter, mixed media by Deborah J. Brasket

I’m painting again, thanks to my granddaughter.

She turns 8 years old next week and custom ordered two paintings for her birthday. The painting above, which I dubbed “A Secret Garden,” originally was a watercolor and oil pastel abstract, sans critters, that I painted long ago. But as much as I liked it, it seemed missing something. That’s when I added a humming bird, Audrey’s spirit animal, and wrapped it up as a Christmas gift for her last year.

She seemed to like it, but then one day said, “Grandma, don’t you think it needs some more critters down here hiding in the garden?” I had to agree with her, but didn’t get  to work on it until a few weeks ago, adding the deer and fox and quail we see on a daily basis behind our home. A reminder of the year she spent with us before she moved away again, and all the fun we had looking watching wildlife together.

But she also wanted a painting of a white kitten with blue eyes in a teacup. We spent many hours looking at images of kittens on Google, as well as foxes, bats, and other creatures that she’s interested in.

I finished the one below just a few days ago. I modeled the tea cup after a child’s china set I gave her when she was three-years old. I hope she will approve. She’s very particular. I’ll be taking both paintings down to her for her birthday next week, along with a long frilly princess dress, glittery shoes with heels, and a pink, faux fur carpet for her bedroom.

Oh, to be 8-years old again!

For Audrey with Love, mixed media by Deborah J. Brasket