A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

Today was National Tell a Story Day. I came across this holiday last year on a website that lists all the interesting and quirky celebrations associated with each calendar day. Last year I told a strange story about getting lost in a church basement, in the dark. (You can read that story HERE)

This year I intended to tell a hilarious and rather embarrassing story on myself, about an incident that happened to me earlier in the week. However, thankfully, I don’t have a single photo to accompany that story. I’ll save that tale for a future post…or bury it in my subconscious.

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words
Thinking about my lack of photos brought to mind the old adage…“A picture is worth 1000 words”…and an idea was born. I asked Facebook friends who wanted to play to start with their last photo in their phones, count back 25 pics, and post that snapshot with an explanation. I let their photos tell stories, for Tell a Story Day. And rather than one story, I get to share twelve, in candid photos.

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words“My most favorite chef in the world”  😉 Debbie

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words“My grandson Jaxon not sure if it was okay to start eating his birthday cupcakes” 😂 Kim

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words“Here ya go Cindy #25” Jerri

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words“Found this while looking for my wedding boots” Dallas

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words“This was taken on Easter morning, I was trying to be clever, my dog’s name is Lily, get it?” Andy

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words“My friend Kaylee and I at Third Thursday downtown .” Robert

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words “Paper purses that I make!” Sheila

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words “The cup I would love to have and I saved the picture. My grandkids call me ‘The Bird Lady’. Best part is they are appreciating birds and can identify quite a few or else they look them up to see what they are!!” Rebecca

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words “Ok, so not surprised it’s a Younique graphic of our ahhhmazing foundation. Because I sell it and work from my phone!” 😍 Pam

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words “We were laughing about Lincoln (1) wearing his sister’s tiara and carrying a fairy wand when just a few minutes later, Papa starts with this! lol” Marijo

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words “Working in the garden!” Cindy

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words Sweet potato stuffed with stir fried red cabbage, onion, and garlic. My first meal Monday after a week of juicing! Bliss!!” Me

I appreciate everyone who played along. These pictures represent 12,000 words! And more than that, they represent 12 unique lives, all telling unique stories, which seems to be a very appropriate way to celebrate National Tell a Story Day!

Movie Review: Hidden Figures

I have looked forward to watching today’s best picture nominated film. The rainy afternoon presented the perfect opportunity to stay indoors and view film 7 of 9 on my list, Hidden Figures. 

Movie Review: Hidden Figures
Hidden Figures stars Taraji Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons and Kirsten Dunst. This historical drama was directed by Theodore Melfi and carries a PG rating for mild language. It has a run time of 2 hours and 7 minutes. Hidden Figures was nominated for three Oscars including Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress for Spencer and Best Picture. It did not win in any category. 

This based on true events story follows three amazing African American women as they offer their brilliance to NASA during America’s race to space in the early 1960s. While bringing their intellect to the space program they struggle with racial discrimination, gender inequality, and long hours spent working away from their families. 

Movie Review: Hidden Figures
Katherine G Johnson (Henson) was a child mathematical genius who graduated from college at age 18 with degrees in mathematics and French. She works with her friends Mary (Monáe) and Dorothy (Spencer) in West Area Computing division, which is segregated from the rest of the Langley Research Center Campus. The women are computers, doing complex math computations and calculations on paper. 

Because of her ability to do analytical geometry, Katherine is moved to the Space Task Group, headed by Al Harrison (Costner). He has been charged with the monumental task of getting a man into space as quickly as possible, as Russia is already there. She works closely with head engineer, Paul Stafford (Parsons), who resents Katherine joining the all white, all male team. 

Movie Review: Hidden Figures The real Katherine Johnson and Taraji Henson, who plays her. 

Movie Review: Hidden Figures

Mary Jackson wants to be an engineer. She is reassigned to work with male engineers as they figure out how to protect the space capsule from overheating upon re-entry into the atmosphere. Her supervisor encourages Mary to get her engineering degree even though there isn’t a school in Virginia that will allow her to complete the classes she needs. Her only option is to petition the court to allow her to be accepted. 

Movie Review: Hidden Figures The real Mary Jackson and Janelle Monáe as her

Movie Review: Hidden Figures

And Dorothy Vaughn is working as the supervisor of West Area Computing, without the official title or the compensation. She has frequent conversations with her supervisor, Vivian (Durst), about being recognized for her work and paid accordingly, to no avail. She is told it just is what it is. Dorothy recognizes the threat that the newly installed IBM computer poses to her future at NASA, as well as to her team of female computers, and sets about learning to program the massive machine by reading a library book and studying the computer at night. 

Movie Review: Hidden Figures The real Dorothy Vaughn and Octavia Spencer as her

As these women give their best to NASA, they encounter injustices such as having to use “colored bathrooms”, even when the nearest facility is half a mile away, segregated coffee pots, and constantly being told “women aren’t allowed…”. All the while, the clock is ticking as the date approaches when the first American astronaut is scheduled to orbit Earth. 

This was a phenomenal story that kept me engaged and hopeful throughout the movie. I am amazed that I had not heard of Katherine, Mary and Dorothy before the release of this movie. I was a wee girl during these events and grew up with a fascination for the space program. 

Movie Review: Hidden Figures

It grieves me that these incredible women endured so much discrimination because of the color of their skin and their gender. I realize it wasn’t just these women. Sadly, such injustices was directed toward all people of color. I greatly admired the attitudes presented by these female geniuses at NASA. They abided by the “rules” as best they could, while quietly, and sometimes not so quietly, working to bring about change. 

And so Katherine challenged the “no women allowed” rules by appealing to her supervisor, whom she knew to be a fair man. She used the bathroom that was half a mile away until an opportunity arose to explain her long breaks, and then she spoke with searing passion. 

Movie Review: Hidden Figures
Mary spoke up when some thought she should remain quiet. And took her desire to attend a white school, to receive the credits needed to be an engineer, all the way to court. She won that right. Dorothy took it upon herself to step into the future she knew was coming, and learn a new way to compute. She not only prepared herself for what was coming, she secured the future for the other women as well, at last earning the title of supervisor. 

I appreciated that at the end of the film, we learn what happened to Katherine, Mary and Dorothy after astronaut John Glenn made his historical orbits around the earth. I cared about these women by then. I wanted to know. 

I loved this film. I will watch the final two best picture nominated movies, one of which I have already seen, but I am leaning toward calling Hidden Figures my favorite. I cheered. I teared up. I smiled. This is a powerful film made even more so by being true. 

Everyone can learn from Hidden Figures…to be who you are and shine brightly, to allow everyone else to be who they are and shine brilliantly too, to fight against injustice wherever it is found, to see beyond color and gender and perceptions. Hidden Figures is a gem worth uncovering. 

Movie Review: Hidden Figures
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Maple’s Gift to the Garden

I enjoyed time in my backyard garden this afternoon. After a weekend of heavy rains, the sunshine today was welcome. And the ground was damp still, which created ideal conditions for a necessary gardening task…weeding. 

Wearing long sleeves and gloves for protection, I tackled a much needed project…removing miniature clumps of ornamental grasses that were popping up all over the garden. This wasn’t my typical puttering in the backyard. This was hard work, using both a hand shovel and a larger spade to dig up those tenacious little grasses. 

But all work and no play is never my intention. After the last blade of grass was tossed into the bin, it was time for some gardening fun, and a special project that warmed my heart. 

Maples Gifts to the Garden
On the first day of spring this year, the big old maple tree that overhung my backyard came down. Twisted and damaged in the 2011 tornado that struck Joplin, the tree was dying. Large pieces of bark were peeling off and the huge limbs were hollowing out. The tree presented a danger to my house and the neighbor’s home. As sad as I was to see the tree cut down, it was the right action. 

Maples Gift to the Garden
The rotten crumbling pieces of wood were disposed of. Greg cut up other portions into firewood that could be burned in the fire pit. And some of the trunk sections and bigger limbs he set aside for my creative use. This afternoon I turned my attention to what remained of maple tree. 

Maples Gift to the Garden
I chose a couple of large maple sections with hollowed out areas, and a smaller solid branch, and positioned them in a bare spot in the garden. The hollow areas sparked my imagination. I could see these two cut up branches serving as planters. The smaller third section was the perfect size to hold a potted plant or flower. 

I used a bag of top soil to fill in the hollowed logs. And then the fun began as I considered which flowering and non-flowering plants to create with. 

Maples Gift to the Garden
I planted colorful vinca and white salvia in the taller of the two hollow logs. In the shorter section I tucked sweet potato vines around yellow calibrachoa. And perched on the solid plant stand is a pot of aromatic garden sage. I settled another small pot of yellow calibrachoa next to my new planter. 

I am so thrilled with how this grouping turned out. I like the way the maple planters look in the garden. But most of all, I love that these unique garden accents came from the maple tree that shaded my yard for years. 

These planters and the stand are temporary. They will age and weather and the wood will break down, becoming rich mulch and compost in my garden. For those reasons, I planted annuals within them. 

These are amazing gifts from maple tree. I will enjoy the planters and the stand this summer. And my garden will then benefit from the deteriorating wood as the tree returns to the earth from which it sprang. 

What a beautiful legacy. Thank you maple tree. 

Maples Gift to the Garden

Packing for 11 Days in a Carry On

As children, we use playing as a way to learn. So we pretend to drive, practice parenting skills with baby dolls, stand before imaginary classrooms as the teacher. I have often used playing as a trial run for an upcoming event. When I worked in my uncle’s firework stand as a young teen, I first set up a mock store to role play waiting on customers and making change.

Tonight, I played. Exactly one month from today, my daughter Elissa, grandson Dayan and I will be aboard a plane, heading to Italy. I practiced packing for the 11 day trip.

Packing for 11 Days in a Carry On
My daughter, grandson and I all agreed…we want to travel light. When I visited Scotland in 2014, I made a mistake. I took a huge suitcase for that 10 day trip. I immediately regretted it. The monstrous piece of luggage was cumbersome, difficult to navigate with through crowded airports and train stations, and impossible to lug up flights of stairs. I hurt my back dragging the thing behind me. I vowed to travel with a carry on next time.

It is the “next time”, as I prepare to take my grandson to his dream destination for his graduation gift.

But could I really get 11 days of clothing plus toiletries and a couple of extra items in a suitcase that measures 22x14x9? I decided to find out.

Packing for 11 Days in a Carry On
First problem…my old carry on is 1/2″ too big! The airline we are flying on specifies carry ons cannot exceed 22″, including the wheels and handles. Mine is slightly too tall with the handle included. I’ll be purchasing a new carry on. This is why I play ahead of time! For tonight’s experiment, I used the suitcase I have to practice packing.

Packing for 11 Days in a Carry On
All of these clothes….

Packing for 11 Days in a Carry On
…need to fit in here. Everything I’ve read suggested rolling clothes, rather than folding. Let’s see if it wotks.

Packing for 11 Days in a Carry On
I layered PJ top and bottoms together and rolled them up.

Packing for 11 Days in a Carry On

I’m only taking one extra pair of shoes. Those went on the bottom, against the side. Heavier or bulkier clothes such as jackets, a cardigan and capris formed the bottom layer.

Packing for 11 Days in a Carry On
I used underwear and socks to fill in the gaps on the bottom layer. They all found a place to tuck into.

Packing for 11 Days in a Carry On
I worked on the tops next. Short sleeved shirts rolled up quite small. I rolled as tightly as I could, starting at the bottom of each shirt.

Packing for 11 Days in a Carry On
All of my tops formed the second layer. There was plenty of room left for toiletries, a journal and a map. And I hadn’t even used the many pockets or the mesh section. I can easily stash a hair straightener, phone charger, and electrical adapters in my suitcase’s pockets.

In my carry on I was able to pack one pair of shoes, one pair of PJs, a pair of capris, a lightweight jacket, a long cardigan sweater, 11 tops, and 11 days worth of underwear and socks. Of course, I’ll be wearing clothes too…jeans, a top, walking shoes and perhaps a long sleeved jacket in case the plane is chilly.

I am thrilled with my play time! I discovered I need to purchase a slightly smaller carry on. And that it is possible to pack for an extended trip in a carry on.

One month, and what I pretended doing tonight will be reality. Four months and one week from today, I’ll do this again as I travel to Ireland, Scotland and England with my mom, sisters and niece.

Can you tell I am scratching an itch, having been bitten by the travel bug? I am so excited to see new places!

This is the carry on I will be ordering!

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The Magic of Seashells

After a busy day, and the completion of a weeklong juice fast, I enjoyed some down time this evening, giving my creative energy an outlet. I packed up vintage Easter décor and starting in my bedroom, began creating fresh vignettes. 

The Magic of Seashells
Although I didn’t intend to focus on the bedroom, that’s where I felt drawn. Warm light filtered in through the window blinds as the sun set, giving the room a cozy golden glow. That sunlight inspired me to change out the room’s predominantly blue décor for warmer yellows, golds, whites and greens. 

The Magic of Seashells

The bottom shelf of the little bedside table got a new look. It features a dark green bottle and a delicate framed needlework crafted by Greg’s mother. The pottery was handmade by my daughter Adriel when she was a child. I love how shifting the lid allows soft candlelight to spill out. 

The Magic of Seashells
The vintage ceramic doll came out of storage to occupy a place of honor on my dresser. She was joined by a friendship plate and an old brass candleholder. 

The Magic of Seashells

Enjoying the shift to warmer colors, even the bed got a makeover. I love linens and quilts. I have a variety of bed coverings, in different colors, which means I can change out the bedding frequently for a fresh look. Included in my collection are vintage quilts from grandmothers, and handmade quilts from my mother and daughter Adriel. All get used. For the first time today, I made the bed with an old white chenille bedspread I uncovered in a chest after Greg’s dad passed away. I added the bright cheerful quilt, made by Greg’s grandmother. 

The Magic of Seashells
Finally, I reset the vintage suitcase, bringing back the Mad Hatter tea time collection. My sister Debbie and niece Ashley made the framed print for me, with the quote from Alice in Wonderland. The gold tea pot and stacked tea cups are perfect accessories. I added a different tea light holder and keeping with the tea time theme, added the vintage gold pocket watch. 

As I was finishing up the tea time vignette, my attention was drawn repeatedly to the empty wire basket I had placed near the suitcase. I hadn’t thought of anything to place within the basket and I was just going to leave it empty. 

The Magic of Seashells

However, something was filtering into my mind. Something I could use to fill the basket. Seashells. Seashells were coming to mind. I resisted that idea at first. Seashells didn’t seem go with my tea time vignette. 

This is how my inspiration, my creativity works…it won’t leave me alone until I listen to it. I kept looking at that basket. Seashells kept coming to mind. I finally listened and located a large conch shell that I have and a bag of assorted shells. 

I followed inspiration’s invitation, filling the basket with the shells, and then I looked up the symbolism of seashells. 

The Magic of Seashells

I discovered that seashells connect us to water energy. And water connects us to our emotions. Contact with seashells opens and activates our intuition, allowing us to more easily access our creativity and imagination. When we are able to express our ideas and creativity, we begin to heal ourselves, and then we can offer healing to others. 

Wow. 

Water is my element. I’ve always known that. And although I have spent a lifetime guarding my emotions, my recent journey has helped me to open my heart and keep it open. Once that happened, my creativity increased. This year is all about expressing that creativity in a variety of ways, including creating vignettes. Healing physically has been an important part of my journey as well, which is affecting me on deeper levels. 

I don’t know why it became so important to add seashells to my vignette this evening. But it did. And my ever present curiosity led me to discover what the significance of the seashells was. 

I am touched by the message. I am amazed at how these Divine moments unfold, and I am exceedingly grateful. Seashells are now present in my bedroom, a reminder of this year’s journey and the importance of living with imagination, creativity, tenderness and healing. 

How magical is that? 

The Magic of Seashells

Earth Day 2017

Today was Earth Day, and although it was rainy and unseasonably cool, it was the perfect morning to get out. I picked up my Mom and sister Linda and we headed to the Webb City Farmer’s Market for the first time this year. 

Earth Day 2017
I love the farmer’s market. What a great place to gather with hundreds of other people to celebrate the earth’s bounty. The colorful displays of fresh veggies and fruits, in their seasons, the tantalizing aroma of herbs and veggies and meals for sale bubbling in pots at the end of the pavilion, the cheerful chatter of vendors and shoppers, all create an exotic atmosphere that makes me smile. 

Earth Day 2017
Earth Day 2017

The weather did not hamper shoppers today as they filled the market. Due to the chilly temps, the sides were lowered on the pavilion so that there was a cozy, cheerful warmth within. Mom, Linda and I followed the tradition of starting at one end of the market and walking the whole thing before deciding which vendors to shop with. 

Earth Day 2017
Earth Day 2017
In honor of Earth Day, trees were given away at one booth, while at another table children were encouraged to plant seeds in cups that they could then take home. I appreciated the smiling faces and the noisy bustle at the market. And everywhere there were tables piled with vegetables, herbs, plants and goodies.  

Earth Day 2017
Earth Day 2017

I am very proud of my mom and sister. Mom has been plant based for almost as long as I have, willing to walk with me in this healing journey to improve her health. And Linda completes the 28 Day Cleanse Monday. (Read about the 28 Day Cleanse HERE) They are taking responsibility for their health by eliminating meat, dairy, sugar, gluten, gmo produce and eggs from their diets and consuming lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and rice. It is totally up to them whether this will be a long term lifestyle. However, both attest to feeling better.  

Earth Day 2017
Earth Day 2017
We talked to vendors and asked questions, sampled buckwheat sprouts and purchased winter and early spring veggies and herbs. We also bought plants to tuck into the ground at home, on a drier day.  

On the way back to Mom’s we stopped by Aldi’s Market to finish our shopping. Look at the basket in the picture below! It is full of fresh fruits and veggies. What a beautiful sight and promise of healthy, delicious meals to come. 

Earth Day 2017
At home, preparing a fresh juice for lunch, I thought about Earth Day. It is intended to raise our awareness about the health of this planet we call home. It encourages us to take actions to care for the earth, the environment, the flora and fauna of this world, as well as humankind. These actions are all crucial to ensure that we continue to have a place to live. 

I thought about the connection between caring for our planet and caring for myself. 

It is crucial that we care for ourselves too, nurturing our bodies, feeding them well for optimal health, eliminating the foods and products that are making us so sick. Because our bodies are where our amazing, shining selves reside. A healthy body equals somewhere to live. It’s home. 

Happy Earth Day. 

Earth Day 2017

Movie Review: Moonlight

With thunderstorms in the area all day, bringing heavy rains, it was the perfect afternoon to watch another Best Picture nominated film. I prefer to save the Oscar winner in that category until last. However, when I visited the DVD rental store, only Moonlight was available. So Moonlight it was, film 6 out of 9.

Movie Review: Moonlight
Moonlight stars Mahershala Ali, Alex Hibbert, Naomie Harris, Ashton Sanders, Janelle Monae, Trevante Rhodes, Jaden Piner, Jharrel Jerome and André Holland. This drama, rated R for language, sexuality and violence, was directed by Barry Jenkins and has a run time of 1 hour and 51 minutes. Moonlight was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Ali, Best Supporting Actress for Harris and best Music-Original Score. It won in Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.

Chiron, known as Little (Hibbert), is a young boy growing up in a rough neighborhood in Miami. He lives with his single mom, Paula (Harris), who drifts in and out of Little’s life in a drug and alcohol induced haze. Other than his friend Kevin (Piner), Little has no one to help him navigate through challenges such as bullying at school, being left on his own, and feeling different.

Movie Review: Moonlight
A rescuer shows up, literally, as Little is hiding from his pursuers in an abandoned house. Juan (Ali) forms a frienship with the quiet boy, filling the role of father for Little. Juan and his girlfriend Teresa (Monae) provide stabilty and a sense of family for Little. He opens up enough to ask Juan questions, including how would he know if he was gay. Juan tells him, “You will know when you know.” 

Little is slowly gaining confidence in himself and in Juan and Teresa, until he finds out Juan is a drug dealer, selling to his mother. Both Little and Juan are devastated by this revelation.

Movie Review: Moonlight
The second segment of the film follows Chiron (Sanders) as a troubled teen. His relationship with his mother continues to deteriorate, Juan is gone and although Chiron occasionally visits Teresa, he is more and more isolated until he reconnects with his childhood friend Kevin (Jerome).  Sadly, shortly after their relationship begins to grow again, Chiron feels betrayed by Kevin. This sensitive, thoughtful young man snaps, with horrific consequences.

Movie Review: Moonlight

The film’s final segment finds Chiron grown, going by the nickname Black (Rhodes) and living a much different life in Atlanta. What dreams he had have been replaced with harsh realities. Black has made himself into a new man, a hard man. And yet he is just as alone in his life as he always has been, until his old friend Kevin (Holland) calls unexpectedly, offering an apology along with a glimmer of hope.

This was an incredible film, very much in alignment with the majority of the Best Picture nominated films. It was beautifully filmed with an amazing musical soundtrack. And it was heavy, bleak, dark.

These movies this year have made me ache with compassion, and Moonlight was no exception. I felt especially protective of young Chiron, when he was called Little. He possessed such promise, had such a sensitive heart and spirit. And there was no one to help him grow into that promise. He longed to be different from his schoolmates. But his differences only brought him pain and grief.

Without guidance or the freedom to live fully as himself, Chiron lost his way, and ultimately became the very person he did not want to be. His journey was heartbreaking to me. It is crushing to realize that there are so many children and youth like Chiron, struggling and alone in life. Rather than fighting against what I was feeling, I stayed open and allowed the tangle of emotions to pass through my heart and sort themselves out.

Moonlight was powerful and painful and sobering. Was it the best of the nine? I don’t know yet. I’ll let you know after I watch the remaining three movies.

Was it thought provoking and heart expanding? Most definitely.

Movie Review: Moonlight

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Carl Junction HS Wind Ensemble Concert at PSU

A brief post tonight, to share a stirring video from my grandson Dayan’s wind ensemble concert at Pittsburg State University. Dayan has been playing the tuba in marching band and in concert band for six years. As a senior in high school, he is nearing the end of a long and highly successful season of performing with these bands.

Carl Junction HS Wind Ensemble Concert at PSU
I am so proud of these high school teens who have dedicated themselves to their art. Their music never fails to move me and inspire me as I listen to them play with skill and passion.

Tonight I sat in the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts, in Pittsburg, Kansas with my daughter, son-in-law, grandson Jonathan, and Dayan’s Nana Deb and great-grandmother, tears in my eyes as I watched the ensemble perform. As graduation approaches, we have two performances remaining with this group of musicians. There is a sense of sadness mixed in with pride, and disbelief that the time has flown by so quickly mixed in with joy as new adventures beckon to these young adults.

It is bittersweet. And beautiful. And exactly as it should be.

Here is the Carl Junction High School Wind Ensemble, performing Into the Joy of Spring, by James Swearingen, in three parts:

  1. Winter’s Fury
  2. Spring’s Awakening
  3. A Celebration of Joy

Scott Schneider, conductor

What a fitting final number tonight! Enjoy.

 

 

Carl Junction HS Wind Ensemble Concert at PSU

Dayan playing the tuba.

Sandstone Gardens

Sometimes inspiration taps me on the shoulder or whispers in my ear. I get a creative idea or a very detailed download and off I go, to manifest that idea.  And sometimes inspiration takes me by the hand and leads me on an adventure. 

Today, it was more of a field trip for us. Inspiration led me to Sandstone Gardens, just west of Joplin. 

Sandstone Gardens
It was Greg who mentioned this beautiful place. We needed to get out of the house for a while. The City was installing new water lines in the neighborhood and shut off the water on my street. We took in an early movie. And then decided to visit this grand home and garden retail store. 

Sandstone Gardens began in 1986 as a side business in the garage of newlyweds, Max & Vicki Carr. The couple made molds and cast small traditional concrete yard ornaments. After a succesful first year in business, they both quit their jobs and have devoted themselves to growing and developing Sandstone Gardens. 

That’s the biz story. It doesn’t adequately convey the beauty of this enchanting place. When the company was located in Joplin, on S Rangeline, I visited Sandstone Gardens frequently. They had a showroom full of unique items. However, it was the outdoor gardens with their winding paths and attractive concrete statuary that drew me there. 

Sandstone Gardens
When the company outgrew their location, they purchased 68 acres west of Joplin, near the Oklahoma state line, and built a 50,000 square foot building that looks like a country estate. This building is amazing, filled with a vast collection of housewares, home decor items and garden accents, all for sale.  Sandstone Gardens reopened in its new location in 2004. 

But on my first visit there, I was disappointed. Although the huge store was incredible, gone were the gardens with the winding paths, nooks and crannies, benches and statues and gazebos. There were a couple of “garden” rooms full of plants and fountains and statues, however they were enclosed. It wasn’t the same. I never went back. Until today. 

Sandstone Gardens

Sandstone Gardens hasn’t changed its layout. They have added a Bistro. And of course, the product has changed since my last visit years ago. The interior of the store is just as amazing with its gorgeous displays. The garden rooms are still there, and there is a small outdoor area to wander through. 

Sandstone Gardens
Sandstone Gardens
What has changed, is me. I have grown. I no longer place expectations on people or events or even stores. I could walk into Sandstone Gardens today with an openness that I didn’t have before, and simply let the experience unfold. 

And I was delighted with what I saw. I was drawn from room to room, exclaiming over this or commenting on that, and Inspiration walked alongside, tapping my shoulder, or planting ideas into my creative mind and soul. 

Sandstone Gardens
Sandstone Gardens
I loved a display of Alice in Wonderland inspired garden accents. And I found a door in a garden room, which reminded me of my symbol from two years ago, signifying new opportunities and adventure. Everywhere I looked, I appreciated the grace and beauty of this place. I felt my creativity expand. 

Sandstone Gardens
Sandstone Gardens
I even found a statue that looks suspiciously like Gandalf the Grey, the wizard from Middle Earth. I believe he will find his way into my garden this summer! 

Sandstone Gardens
Sandstone Gardens
Walking outside, I realized that the old Sandstone Gardens in town had been my inspiration for creating my own backyard paradise. I suddenly knew what had happened. When the new store opened, without the accompanying gardens and paths, I lost that place of inspiration and also the hope I felt that I could someday create something similar. 

The dream I had didn’t die though. I was just forced to look for inspiration elsewhere, like within myself. Other opportunities came and other doors opened, and as I shifted and grew, I took responsibility for creating my own place of peace and beauty. And I did it. I made my dream a reality. 

Sandstone Gardens My backyard paradise…a beautiful work in progress. 

My garden is a continuing work. Like me it shifts and grows every year. I love it. And I love Sandstone Gardens. I am open to the beauty it offers. I can visit that magnificent place and receive inspiration and purchase items to take home. 

Next week, when I am not juicing, I will return to try a vegetarian lunch at the bistro and let inspiration lead me again through the rooms. I am looking forward to another visit to Sandstone Gardens. 

Sandstone Gardens
Visit Sandstone Gardens website HERE 

Vintage Page Gets a Fresh Illustration

I am loving the inspiration I am getting from the set of vintage encyclopedias. Printed in 1951, these outdated volumes have no resale value, however, their creative value is high. 

Tonight I had fun creating another artistic project using one of the vintage pages. 

Vintage Page Gets a Fresh Illustration
I carefully removed a page from the “I” volume of the encyclopedias. Using an article about Imagination as my background, I wanted to create a a piece of art that I could frame and display. 

Vintage Page Gets a Fresh Illustration
I sketched and then inked in a dainty milkwort plant, using another vintage page from The Book of Knowledge set as inspiration. I had pre-selected a frame and used the glass as a template to cut the encyclopedia page to the correct size. 

Vintage Page Gets a Fresh Illustration
I enjoyed coloring my completed sketch. The encyclopedia paper is very thin, causing me to color carefully. However, the old paper takes color extremely well. The pencils glided over the page and the colors blended well. 

In a short time, my something-new-from-something-old work of art was completed. It looked great in its simple wooden frame. 

Vintage Page Gets a Fresh Illustration
I knew I wanted to display this artwork in my bedroom. But I didn’t know where I was going to display it, within the room, until I carried the piece through the door. And then it was immediately obvious. Of course. There, on my little bedside table, next to the old phone that Greg’s dad converted into a lamp years ago. The framed art fits perfectly there, a fresh look on an old page, that I created. Behind it all, both figuratively and literally, is imagination. 

And the little milkwort flowers make me smile. 

Vintage Page Gets a Fresh Illustration