Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Creative Impulses

You cannot govern
 the creative impulse; 

"Wallflower # 8" © Meri Arnett-Kremian 2010

all you can do
is to eliminate obstacles
 and smooth the way for it. 
-Kimon Nicoliades

Are you making room for creative expression
or are you letting obstacles
stand in your way?

If you tell yourself
there's not enough time,
commit to perform one random act
of creativity each day.

A poem.
A quick sketch.
An arrangement of flowers in a vase.
Cook with flair.

If you already keep a gratitude journal,
here's a thought:
take one photo per day of something
you're grateful for.
Add it to your journal.
If you keep the journal on your computer,
it's easy to integrate photos with text.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mosaic Monday: Roots & Wings

There is an old saying about family
giving you both roots and wings.

Here are photos of some of the roots and branches
in my family tree, some distant, some near.
I've written stories about most of these people 
in my Sepia Saturday posts.

We all have to earn our own wings.

For more Mosaic Monday posts,
click HERE.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Shine On

Listen to me,

The secret is to 

shine your own light, 

follow your own path.

Don't worry about the darkness,

for it is in the darkest hours

 that the stars shine most brightly.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sepia Saturday: Willie and Clara

featured a love story
about a young woman and her high school sweetie
who eloped during college,
much to the ire of her parents.

Let me introduce her parents:
Clara Davidson Biggs
and William A. "Willie" Biggs.

If you remember, Willie and Clara
wanted Leota's marriage annulled.
Even tried to get the sheriff to arrest
their new son-in-law.

Welcome to the family!

Willie and Clara were both born
in McDonald County, Missouri in the 1880s.
Clara was the daughter of Thomas Davidson
 and Mary Anne Harrell.
Willie was the youngest son of John Biggs and Dicy Reed.
John and Dicy were my great-great grandparents
on my dad's side and Willie was the brother
of my great-grandmother, Mary (Biggs) Arnett.

Willie and Clara got married about 1905
when Willie was 22 and Clara was 17.
Leota was born in December 1906.

Employment prospects in McDonald County
were not auspicious and by 1910,
this little family was living in Enid, Oklahoma.

Clara's sister Arizona "Zona" Davidson
had married Willie's brother John Quincy Biggs
and the two sisters remained close.
One or the other of them saw an advertisement 
in a ladies' monthly magazine for a new college
of chiropractic medicine in Portland, Oregon.
Hmm..... they thought. Maybe this is a way
to develop a career and solve our financial worries.
(Quincy was an ordained minister, so he
already had a career).

So, not only clever but persuasive,
the sisters and their husbands moved to the Pacific Northwest.
Willie, Clara, and Zona all matriculated
and became chiropractors.

Zona went on to follow her husband from
place to place as his ministerial career blossomed.
(More about them later in another post).

Willie and Clara stayed in Oregon,
developing a joint practice in Baker City, Oregon.
(I guess there's an accidental pun there. . .)
They lived there for many years,
and from the looks of things,

they must have been fairly prosperous.

Were they afraid their son-in-law Hal
was an opportunist
that he wasn't good enough for Leota?

Though at the time of the elopement
Leota was older than Clara was when she married,
did Clara and Willie think their little girl was too young
to be a bride?
Or was it simply a matter of wanting her to finish
her education before taking the plunge?

So many unanswered questions!

For more Sepia Saturday posts,
click HERE.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I did it. . . .

I listened to my heart.

I've booked a photo workshop in Venice.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Details, Details

I prefer to explore
the most intimate moments,
the smaller, crystallized details
 we all hinge our lives on.

Rita Dove

"Unfurling" © 2010 Meri Arnett-Kremian

I love the way our lives unfold,
detail by detail
until we are fully in flower.

- Meri

(Rita Dove served as Poet Laureate  of the United States
 and Consultant to the Library of Congress from 1993 to 1995
 and as Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2004 to 2006). 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Whatever Reality May Be

Whatever reality may be,
it will to some extent be shaped
by the lens through which we see it.
-James Hollis


I see stars and bursts of light
 in water sky,
find clarity where once was haze.
I find sprites dancing
 in the realm of myth,
taste the jumbled fresh of love
 in the thick thinness of beginning.
I see deep veins of truth   
pulsing toward the inexpressible.
I see fresh magic
 in the tilt and whirl of life.

What do you see
through the lens of your heart?

- meri

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Mosaic: Guerilla Art

As long as it's in the proper place and legal . . . 

it can add color and zip to a blank wall space.

For more Mosaic Monday posts,
click HERE.

And for a fascinating article about the creativity
of graffiti artists that SPERLYGIRL
brought to my attention, click here.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Getting Around to the Friday Self-Portrait

I'm a little slow on the uptake posting this photo
because I had something else in mind to post on Friday
before I remembered Nina's self-portrait day.
And then there's Sepia Saturday,
always a fun thing to participate in,
so this is the first opportunity
to focus

on me.

I like this photo because:

I was feeling sassy that day

the sky was blue
and the sun was out
and I was having fun window shopping

I looked fashionable in my blue jeans,
 tailored white shirt, 
and brown leather jacket
(or at least that's my story
and I'm stickin' with it)

it looks like the scarf in the window
is hanging over my shoulder
and I'm no dummy

You can see how long my hair is

I could be any woman because 
my face doesn't show
so it's me but not necessarily me
and that fits with my belief
that all women are sisters
under the skin

I think I look taller and skinnier
than I really am and that's an illusion
I'm willing to live with


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sepia Saturday:The Wedding Photo

They met and married in Wenatchee, Washington.
Loren Lloyd Arnett painted houses for a business owned by his brother-in-law
and learned the automobile upholstery trade.
Mafie Marie Rosencrans worked as a nanny for the children
of the minister of the local Christian church.
They met, I've been told, at a high school basketball game.

Lloyd was quite a ladies man, handsome devil that he was.
He was only 22 when he married Marie,
but he'd been engaged three times before.
Was it her sweet beauty that captivated him?
Her kindness and compassion?
I wish I had asked this kind of question when I had the chance.

They married in June 1922.
Their first child, my father, was born about three years later.
When Lloyd's father died in 1928, he and Marie
and my dad and his baby sister
moved in to his parents' home to help take care of his mother.
After Mary Biggs Arnett died in 1937, 
Lloyd and Marie became the owners of the house.
Dad took the $18.75 mortgage payments to the bank
when he was a boy. 
Now he wonders how his parents managed to scrape
that much money together each month during the Depression.
Lloyd worked a variety of jobs to provide for his family:
 painter, carpenter, shipyard worker,
streetcar conductor, furniture and car interior upholsterer.  
He profited from the New Deal, as it provided him a job
during the Depression years,
but was a steadfast Republican all his life.

He was a pillar of his local church and held tightly
 to a rather conservative religious faith.
But I remember him most as a loving grandfather
who loved to rock his grandchildren
 and sing to us when we were little.
I remember him carefully tending his rose bushes.
I know it was because of him that my grandmother
 cooked both turkey and ham on every Thanksgiving
 and Christmas because Grandpa didn't like turkey.

Marie also worked, both inside and outside her home.
One of her jobs was cooking at the Y in Portland, Oregon.
She was a marvelous cook and baker
and her kitchen was always filled with delightful scents
and conversation, because for the most part,
that's where the adults hung out.

She lived for 23 years after her husband died,
much of it in the home they'd lived in as young marrieds
 with her mother-in-law.
Marie had a marvelous sense of humor
 and was much more flexible
than her husband had been.
 She, too, was a lifelong church member
but I suspect she was more in tune
 with the compassionate God
of the New Testament than the vengeful God of the Old.

She was born before the Wright Brothers first flew
 and lived to see men walk on the moon.
And she took it all in stride, with grace and excitement.
When she heard a story that surprised her,
she'd always say, "Lands' sake!"
for reasons I never understood.

Neither Lloyd nor Marie had a lot of formal schooling,
but all three of their children, a son and two daughters,
went to college. In keeping with the family's emphasis on faith,
their son pursued a divinity degree and became a minister.
Both daughters married (and later divorced) ministers.
 The imprint of parental faith was strong.

For more Sepia Saturday posts,
click HERE.
(Thanks for hosting, Alan!)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Everything is Made of Light

'Eveything is made of light,' he said,
 'and the space between isn't empty.'
Don Miguel Ruiz
The Four Agreements

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Wee Bit o' Green

For your St. Patrick's Day pleasure,
I can't offer you green beer,
but here's a little touch of the Emerald Isle.

Doolin - traditional Irish music center

near Sligo

Newgrange in the Boyne River valley

pub in Galway

looking back toward the Cliffs of Moher

May you learn the secrets of the Shining Ones.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mind Travel

I'm feeling a little stymied right now,
waiting for something to happen.
I'd like to be able to take a trip while I wait,
but the timing isn't right.

So if you could travel anywhere right now,
by plane, train, or the powers of your mind,
where would it be (and why)?

I think I'd choose



flea markets
perfectly turned-out women and men who can't compete
lovers strolling along the Seine
the Eiffel Tower at night
people watching
hoping the "City of Love" will sprinkle its fairy dust on me.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mosaic Monday: Yellow for the Ides of March

Remember when the soothsayer
warns Julius Caesar in the play,
"Beware the Ides of March"?

Well, March 15 is the Ides of March.
It was a bad day for Caesar,
but I hope it'll be a good one for you.

Nevertheless, in an abundance of caution,
I'm posting a yellow mosaic.

(Actually, the images are a little too exuberant to say "Caution,"
but at least they're yellow.)

To see other Mosaic Monday posts,
visit Mary at Little Red House.
She's the hostess with the most-est.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Most Dangerous Man in America

It's been out a few months, but it recently opened
at our local independent non-profit film venue.
Given that I'm a history junkie, 
it was time for a field trip to see
this Academy Award-nominated documentary.

This film about Daniel Ellsberg 
and the infamous Pentagon Papers
is a fascinating look at American political
and legal history arising out of one man's
change of mind and heart
and his crisis of conscience. 

What do you find so compelling a principle
that you'd risk career and prison?

For most people, the answer is

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sepia Saturday: The Woman at the Top of the Stairs

When I was young, 
a hand-colored portrait of this woman
hung at the top of the stairs
at my paternal grandparents' house.

She looked so stern she always scared the peewadden out of me.
That might not be a word, but you get the idea.

Her name was Mary Jane Bliss, nee Mary Jane Butt.
She was the daughter of Leonard Butt and Maria Weedman.
She was born in 1845 married Sylvester Lyman Bliss 
in Perry County, Indiana on August 14, 1861.
Mary Jane managed to bear two children in short succession,
my great-grandmother Eliza Jane and her brother John,
before Sylvester answered the call of the bugle in September 1864.

Sylvester mustered out in June 1865 and died in December 1865,
presumably of something war-related.
Mary Jane became a very young widow.
And unlike most periods during American history
in which young widows swiftly remarried,
the Civil War snuffed out huge numbers of potential suitors.

She got a small widow's pension
(and I think the ribbon bow on her bodice 
evidences her status as a war widow),
but she mostly lived with relatives for the rest of her life.
In 1870, she was living with a cousin. his family,
 and miscellaneous kin.
In 1880, she and the children lived with her maternal uncle.
The 1890 Census was destroyed, so I don't know where she lived
then, but by 1910 she's in Snohomish County, Washington
with her daughter and son-in-law Eliza and Benjamin Rosencrans.

She later moved with them to Hillsboro, Oregon
where she died on April 12, 1923.
She actually outlived her daughter Eliza by about 14 months.

One of Eliza and Benjamin's grandchildren, Don McLaren
lived for a time with his grandparents when his great-grandmother
Mary Jane Butt Bliss was still alive.
He recounted that she was a pint-sized woman
with a foul mouth and a penchant for smoking a corn-cob pipe.
He said she didn't want the little ones to know she smoked,
so if they came into the room, she'd stuff the lit pipe
in the pocket of her apron.
But they always knew that great-granny was at it again,
because they could see smoke wafting from the apron pocket.

  Wouldn't it be fun to talk to her
and hear the story of her life?
I'd like to be able to ask her about her father's people
and what her parents and grandparents were like.

For more Sepia Saturday fun,
click HERE.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Sweet Territory of Silence

In the sweet territory of silence we touch the mystery.
It's the place of reflection and contemplation,
and it's the place where we can connect
with the deep knowing, with the deep wisdom way.

- Angeles Arrien

I suspect that I'm creating random noise and distractions
to keep me from exploring the place of silence.
We all have deep wisdom and knowing available to us, 
but sometimes it's a little scary to consider how powerful
we really might be, if only we step up to our potential,
if only we stop "dumbing ourselves down."

How do you create the sweet territory of silence
in your busy, hectic lives?
How are you claiming what you know
in your deepest wisdom place,
that place of love and compassion
from which right action springs?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Knowing Where I'm Going

I may not know where I'm going right now
and trying to plot a path
 by thinking - thinking - thinking
doesn't seem to be getting me anywhere but crazy.
Wherever I'm heading
I know I'll have my camera in hand.

That's one thing I can be certain about.
The viewfinder helps me focus on things
that I might not notice if I weren't looking
at possibilities with an artist's eye.
The process of capturing the vibrancy
 and beauty of this living,
breathing Mother we call Earth
(and those that call her Home)
 an image at a time gives me joy.
And I'm certain that joy
is a road-marker guiding me along my path.

What certainties help anchor you
to your life and keep you moving 
along your path?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Self Portrait: No Clarity

Do you ever feel like
you're at a turning point,
but you've got no idea which way to turn?

That you're in a life place 
that calls for thinking with your heart/soul
and not with your mind
and you're disconcerted because your mind
just loves to be occupied with thinking?

A life space that calls for patience
when you're lusting for clarity

Welcome to my world.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday Mosaic: Chihuly Glass Fragments

I am blessed to live in the Pacific Northwest,
a place where glass artists abound.
The most famous is Dale Chihuly.
I thought you might enjoy a mosaic 
that features closeups of a glass installation
designed by the master himself.

The original pieces are featured on the Bridge of Glass
at Tacoma's Museum of Glass.

For more Mosaic Monday pieces,
visit Mary's Little Red House

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Girl and Her Dog

It's Sepia Saturday again.
Since my dear mother is recovering 
from shoulder replacement surgery,
I thought I'd feature her image this week.

This is little Betty with her dog Spot.
She was born in a small town in Oregon,
the third of four sisters.

The Depression defined her childhood,
though I don't know how much she knew or understood.
Her high school years were spent in the shadow
of World War Two.

She went to college at a time when women
sought an "MRS." degree.

She had a lovely singing voice and often performed 
as the vocalist for weddings and funerals.
I remember once when I was really little
that she was on television in Indianapolis.

She worked in the library at Butler University,
putting Hubby through school, so to speak.

She worked on and off through my childhood,
when working mothers were somewhat odd
and not at all normative. It wasn't a matter of personal choice
as much as necessity, because her husband's ministerial salary
couldn't quite stretch far enough.

She survived divorce, though it took a while.
And then, when she was in her 60s,
she asked her three grown children
if we thought it was silly that she wanted 
to become a lay minister in the United Methodist Church.

She thought she was too old.
We told her she was old enough not to worry
about what anyone thought
and just do what she wanted to do.

So she did. After some schooling, 
she was given a church flock to shepherd
until her retirement. 

Let's hear it for women learning to live the lives
they want to live!

For other Sepia Saturday participants,
click HERE

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Being Easy - Oops, I Mean "Lazy"

Since I'm taking care of my mother
after she had her shoulder replaced,
I haven't had much time to blog.

Life's full of trade offs, isn't it?

So here, for your amusement,
is the latest issue of Platform58,
having the theme "Paint."

I've got a piece in there somewhere.
I think it's the fifth photo I've had published.
No compensation - no glory either.
Just bragging rights, I guess.

Like I said, life's full of tradeoffs.