The ArtPrize Experience

On Saturday, I drove up to Grand Rapids to take in ArtPrize (and a bit more, besides!)

I know I won't be able to describe the ArtPrize concept and experience adequately. . . but I'll try to, at least, whet your appetite.  ArtPrize is a huge international art competition held each fall in Grand Rapids.  This year (the 6th) included over 1500 artists -- all competing for significant cash prizes awarded after a public vote and juror selection.

ArtPrize, though, is so much more than that!  ArtPrize invites artists to try out new ideas on a large and diverse population of people.  It seeks to broaden the critical dialogue around contemporary art.  It gets people out -- experiencing art and talking about art.  Basically, ArtPrize makes the visual arts accessible to everyone!

(Read more about ArtPrize here.  And, while you're at it, check out this year's winning entries.)

ArtPrize is really . . . all about pushing boundaries . . . through art.

I saw color and texture everywhere . . . in gorgeous textile pieces . . .


and with unusual and surprising materials . . . like whole crayons!


Some installations I saw made a point about social issues . . .


While others . . . stopped me in my tracks and made me gasp!  (These seemingly random, hanging guns formed this familiar shape at a particular viewing angle. . . )


Some, like the Great Wall of Bees, challenged the notion of what constitutes "art" . . .


And some helped us all see the "art" in the ordinary, everyday-ness . . . of hair styles.
(This installation was one of the winning entries. It was awesome - and my photos just can't do it justice.)


Some pieces resonated with their simplicity . . . 


And others by reaching my soul.


But, I'll admit.  There was one collection I was most interested in seeing.  Up close.  In person.


You may recognize the work of Lee (Rusty) Mothes from Vicki's blog.  It is incredible!  Truly.*  (These amazing waves are beautifully rendered in pencil.  So. Cool.)

Yes, I was privileged to share my ArtPrize experience with Vicki, Rusty, and Kate.


It was great to be able to meet Vicki -- and even more special to be included in her family for the day!


My ArtPrize experience . . . was made all the richer by spending it with some very special people!


* Rusty was in the Top 25 in his category (2-dimensional) for the entire duration of ArtPrize!



It's All About Possibility

Before I had a blog of my own, I used to hang out at other blogs.

But . . .  no one ever knew.  I never said anything.  I never typed a comment.  I never added my voice to the dialogue.  I was a lurker.  Plain and simple.

I didn't really understand . . . then . . . how easy it is to connect with kindred spirits. What a difference a comment can make . . . in sparking conversation; understanding; friendship.

But I do now!



After my bout with cancer, I felt a need to . . . become REAL . . . to break out of my shy and rather quiet existence and . . . connect.  I started to comment on the blogs I read.  I joined conversations.  I added my voice.  I started a blog of my own.

It was all about possibility.

And now?  Now I have developed some really wonderful relationships with people I've (kind of!) known for years!

I spent several days last week visiting Margene in Utah.


It was wonderful to see Margene's sky,


and experience Margene's mountains!  


I loved spending time in Margene and Smith's garden.  


We got to knit together at the Alta Retreat (even though the weather kept us inside!), do a lot of sight-seeing, and find plenty to eat and drink!  I even got to spend some time with Cheryl and Susan.

Reaching out.  Connecting.  It's all about possibility!



Roll Up. . .

. . . For the Mystery Tour!

Come June 1, you'll find me following the clues . . . of Kirsten Kapur's 2014 Mystery Shawl!

I've never knit a Mystery Anything.  In fact, I've sworn I never would!  But, here I am.  All signed up and ready to go.

Truth is, I trust Kirsten's designs.  I've knit at least five of her shawls, and I love each one.  Great designs.  Great patterns.  Great results.

And when I read, "shallow triangle," "ease of wear," and "tossed casually around the neck much like a scarf," I was hooked.   Then, when I read she had knit her sample using a gradient yarn kit . . . I was All In!

(Of course, a little peer pressure makes it all fun, too!  I'm excited to be joining Margene, Carole, and Patty on this Mystery Tour.)


I'll be knitting a pop-of-color mystery, that's for sure!  (I ordered the flouro gradient kit.  And "flouro" it is!)

Roll up!  

We're waiting to take you away . . . 


Virtual Reality

So, last week I alluded to a "special visitor" . . . someone you all knew . . .

It was Kathy - of kmkat and her kneedles fame!


Kathy and Smokey were driving across Michigan for their son's graduation from the University of Michigan last week.  Which means . . . they were driving right past my house . . . so Kathy and I arranged to meet on Saturday afternoon.

One of the absolute BEST things about blogging is making virtual friends all over the world.  But THE BEST thing . . . is when you get to actually meet them in REAL TIME!

It was wonderful to spend an afternoon with Kathy.  She is as warm and gracious and funny in real life as she is on her blog.  We had a great time eating and knitting and laughing together -- and she was kind enough to imagine what my garden might look like in a month or so (because it ain't much right now, let me tell you!) while we avoided the dog poop in my backyard.  

Thanks so very much for stopping by, Kathy!  It was such a treat to meet you . . . For Reals!

Balm for the Soul

I always love going to the Chicago Flower & Garden Show!  The timing is just perfect to brush off the winter cobwebs and start thinking about spring.

But this year?  Ah, this year it was double-y (no, make that triple-y!!!) wonderful.


As soon as Sandie and I stepped in to the Navy Pier exhibition hall . . .


we were overwhelmed (some might say downright giddy) from the smell of fresh flowers and trees. . .


and we realized how starved we were for color!


We had a wonderful day in Chicago -- filled with inspiration, education, and a bit of shopping, too.  I'll share more in the blog-days ahead.


For now, let's just say that being surrounded by plants and flowers . . .


was balm for the soul!


A Word Epiphany

A few weeks ago, Tom and I were at the movies and we saw this trailer*:


At first, I didn't catch on that this movie was actually one of my "favorite-books-of-all-time" -- Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin.  Now, that could've been because the movie doesn't actually follow the book.  But.  More likely, it's because my brain dumps books almost as fast as I can read them**!

I read Winter's Tale back in 1983, when it was first published.  I loved it!  Today, I remember loving it much more than I actaully remember the story.   (In fact, truth be told, all I really recall about the book itself is this: "New York City" and "magical horse.")  


But.  What I DO remember about Winter's Tale is this . . . 

Back in 1983, I recommended the book to everyone I knew!  (Tom even read it.)

I remember not being able to put it down.

I remember being transported by the story.

I remember being deeply disappointed when it was over.


As a result. . .

I still own the book, over 30 years later.  Hardcover.  Which means, I've moved it across the country and lovingly placed in on my bookshelves in six different apartments and homes from Colorado to Texas and, finally, here in Michigan.

I've read several other books by Mark Helprin.

When I flip through the pages of the book today -- pages containing words I don't remember -- I still get a warm feeling about the story.

My epiphany:  Words have magical powers.  Even when you can't remember what they are!


* So, Lady Sybil tragically died on Downton Abbey last season so she could make a movie with Colin Farrell.  Not so sad after all!

** I read about 50-60 books every year, and I have since . . . well, forever.  If you use an average of 55 books each year, I've read over 1,700 books since reading Winter's Tale in 1983.  No wonder I don't remember all the words. . .


Special Happy Birthday wishes go out today . . .

To Brian!  (Please explain to your Mom how you can be 22???)

Goobie boy

To my brother-in-law, Kurt!

And to my dear pal (and partner-in-hat-disasters), Patty!


I Am . . .


Five years . . .

Five years ago today, I woke up early and headed off for my final chemo treatment.

I've celebrated February 4 every year since . . . as the day I truly began to think of myself as a "cancer survivor."  (My oncologist marks the day-of-diagnosis as the anniversary date of "survivorship."  I note that day, too, but I tend to consider my finished-with-treatment day as the more significant anniversary.)

I've been doing a lot (a LOT. . .) of thinking over the days leading up to today . . . about how to mark this day, how to honor it, and how to celebrate.  It's a bit overwhelming, actually, to think about . . .

Five years.

And then Carole sent out this week's Ten on Tuesday topic.  And I knew just what to do!  Celebrate with me, on this incredibly special day, as I reflect on what . . .


1.  I am a SURVIVOR.  I actually despise that term.  But I'll accept it and use it, because it means something to other people.  And because I can't think of a better term (and I have tried).  What it means, to me, is that I went through something pretty awful, and I became stronger  - and different - because of it.  I try to take that strength and apply it to the world around me.

2.  I am GROUNDED.  I have figured out what is important to me - and what is not.  I tend to be less bothered now by things I can't control.  That's not to say that I don't get my panties in a bunch over stupid things.  Because, trust me, I do.  But I tend to be able to get my perspective back pretty quickly, and I tend to roll with situations a little better than I used to.

Last Day of Chemo Feb 4 2009 010

3.  I am TUNED IN to my body and my health.  I was active before my cancer diagnosis, true.  But chemo knocked me on my butt in a pretty intense way.  By my final chemo treatment, I found it a challenge to walk around the block.  I got winded going upstairs in my house.  I was hyper-concerned about my white-cell count.  Now, I celebrate my fitness every day.  Running, spinning, jumping, dancing.  I love moving.  Moving . . . is living.

4.  I am HUMBLE.  Once you lose your hair, well. . . you find out what a minor part of yourself that REALLY is!  Yes, I used to spend a fortune on my hair.  Covering the grey.  Highlights.  Lowlights.  Standing appointments.  Thousands of dollars.  What a waste of time and money!  Now . . . grey hair.  Au natural.  Easy and cheap.  I am comfortable leaving the house without makeup.  I wear hats in the winter -- even if they mess up my hair.  It doesn't mean I don't like dressing up and making up -- it just means I've learned that I am fine As Is!

Last Day of Chemo Feb 4 2009 013
"Graduating" from Chemo

5.  I am GRATEFUL.  I couldn't have made it through chemo without the angels in my life.  (And, believe me, the slog of chemo really reveals the angels!)  Five years out, I need to acknowledge those folks who slogged through it all with me every day:  the friends who didn't get "creeped out" (because many do. . .) and helped keep it "normal" (Cheri and Sue, especially); the friends who were in the same boat and became my "cancer posse" (Florence and Joel and Lissa and Ted); Dr. Liepman, my oncologist, with her no-nonsense approach to the whole experience; my kids (all THREE of them that year -- Erin and Brian and Dominik) who didn't freak out and just let me keep being be a mom; my sister (where do I even BEGIN with that one!) who sent me flowers after every.single.chemo treatment (and that was only the beginning); my mom and dad who cared for me, Tom, my kids, my dog, whatever I needed and whenever I needed it (and especially that One Day); and Tom.  Oh, Tom.  Beside me at every appointment.  Every treatment.  With his little laptop, researching treatments and drugs and taking notes and oh . . . I just can't begin to express my gratitude.  But I think you begin to get my drift.

6.  I am OPEN.  My cancer experience made me hyper-aware that time is limited.  For all of us.  Every day.  Don't wait.  If you want to do something . . . or go someplace . . . or say something . . . DO IT.  Go for it.  Just make it happen.

Last Day of Chemo Feb 4 2009 009

7.  I am AWARE.  I am far less private than I was before my cancer diagnosis.  I used to hold back.  I didn't reach out.  I didn't say what I wanted to say.  But that's not true anymore.  Now I know that connections matter.  And I try to make them whenever I can.

8.  I am REFLECTIVE.  You could say that I've always been one to follow an inward journey, but I am even MORE that way now.  I think about who I am and how I want to interact with the world.  I want to figure out how to make the most out of my life.  I am sort of obsessed with self-reflection.

Celebratory Flowers 003

9.  I am IMPATIENT.  I know that life is fleeting; that "normal" isn't forever; that the clock is ticking for all of us.  I have little tolerance for bullshit, subterfuge, waste, and manipulation.  Life is just too short.

10.  I am STEPPING AWAY FROM THE EDGE.  Every day.  Finishing cancer treatment is both exhilirating -- and terrifying.  That terrifying part is tough for family and friends to understand.  Chemo, terrible as it was, was my lifeline.  It made me better (by making me worse); it, ultimately, gave me my life back.  So. . . what happens when it's . . . done????  Will the cancer come back?  Will "normal" ever return?  Family and friends want the treatment to be the End of It.  Time to celebrate.  Time to get back to normal.  And . . . it is.  It surely is.  But.  It's also never going to be same again.  Because . . . now you know about The Edge.  You've come right up against it.  You've danced on it.  Maybe you've even teetered right there.  About to go over.  But you step away.  A little farther every day.  Until, after 5 years, you feel pretty safe.  (But it's there.  And you know it.)

So.  That's how I AM today.  Happy to be here.  Happy to be five years out.  And happy to share this post with all of you.


Just a Mirror for the Sun

Soundtrack for today . . .


Over a year ago now . . . way back to September 0f 2012 . . . I traveled to Salt Lake City and had a wonderful visit with Margene.  I got to meet Carole.  And Cheryl.  And Suzy.  We had a fabulous time.


During our visit, Margene took Carole and I yarn shopping. 


Carole found it first.

A little kit to make the popular "Leftie" pattern.

I copied Carole, and bought one for myself.

And then we coerced Margene into picking one up for herself.

Carole finished hers long ago.  Mine languished for over a year.  And I think Margene opted out, in the end.

It wasn't my favorite knit ever, that's for sure!  It was somewhat tedious.  Fussy short-rows.  Lots of ends to weave in.  That sort of thing.


But, now that it's finished, I'm liking it more and more.

What a great reminder of a wonderful weekend in a beautiful place and a terrific visit with friends!


Just a mirror for the sun!


Ravelry details here.