From 1972 to 1973, I attended the College of Creative Studies, a school within the University of California at Santa Barbara. The boxes and portfolios of work from that time and later years survived several moves across country, and have resided in the attic for the past 25 years.
One of the daunting tasks of downsizing is choosing what to save and what to throw. Fortunately, my son left his empty portfolio case that he used at FIT, so I had a place to put the artwork I deemed worth saving. It was hard to choose. Flipping through stacks of drawings and paintings was like taking a tour through my past.
I spent a lot of time sketching in dance classes.
Print-making was fascinating, but the fumes and the harsh chemicals drove me away, and into oils.
The above is a painting of my best friend.
I was a passionate folk dancer while living in Santa Barbara.
The works pictured here were saved, and will go into the storage unit. Many, many more are in the recycle bin.
I left the art college to get my teaching credential, but I’ve never stopped creating or dancing!
Moving to a new home is rated as one of the ten most stressful life events. This has certainly been true for me. Reviewing, sorting, and throwing out the accumulated stuff of 25 years in our roomy house have proved to be overwhelming tasks for my husband and me.
In the process, I’ve learned a few things: 1) My body isn’t 30 years old anymore. This 67-year-old woman can’t lift and carry heavy bins of books and photo albums. 2) It’s okay to get rid of things I haven’t used in the past 5 years, or 2 years, or even 6 months. 3) Help is available, but I have to ask. 4) Renting a storage unit is not a sign of failure.
Meditation and yoga kept me sane for the first month of cleaning and clearing. Those regular practices weren’t enough to counteract the effects of stress and heavy physical activity. I turned to Tapping. Officially known as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Tapping works to rewire the mind-body connections and reduce stress, pain, and many other emotional and physical stressors.
My sources of information and guidance for EFT are these:
The Tapping Solution by Nick Ortner
and the related app for your smartphone:
Some of the tapping audios are free. I’ve been using at least two every morning, and I can confirm that the tapping is helping me get through this difficult life event. Go to the website to find out why tapping works so well.
A very determined young father came to get our hot tub last weekend. He brought along his wife and 3-month-old baby boy. While his family kept warm in our house, Joe took down the deck railing and dragged the tub onto his trailer. Then he put back the railing and drove away. Many happy soaks to you, Joe!
Pat said a sad farewell to his last motorcycle, a vintage 1972 Husqvarna 360. The day that I posted it for sale, this fascinating guy messaged me that he wanted it 100%, and he didn’t quibble over prices. That was almost too good to believe. When we spoke the next morning, I asked if his offer was for real.
It was. As he strapped the bike into his moving van, Romulus von Stezelberger told us his story: how he left home at age 15, and eventually headed up a company that made custom, one-of-a-kind leather jackets for celebrities.
He was delightful and fascinating, and also friendly and fun. After he left, I checked out his jackets on Facebook. He had not exaggerated.
A beautiful creation…
and the designer himself, somewhat younger.
Thanks, Romulus! It was great meeting you.
The snake baby I found in the bag of potting soil was not a venomous species. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed.
According to Raymundo, our local reptile and amphibian expert, this was a young ribbon snake masquerading as a viper. He said that the shape of the eye indicates who is dangerous. A round pupil (as above) belongs to harmless types, while an eye with an elliptical pupil means trouble. Also, venomous snakes’ heads are distinctly triangular, with a narrow neck. Also, a snake with heat-sensing pits along its head is poisonous, if you want to get close enough to check.
So I guess it was a good thing that I set the little snake free by the stream. Maybe she’ll grow up to control the mice population that enjoy the warmth of our walls in the winter!
You would think that after 26+ years teaching in schools, I would feel confident and ready to share my books and writing ideas with children. Instead, I felt anxious and self-conscious.
I needn’t have worried. The fifth grade classes that I visited were welcoming and interested. If nothing else, we could have used more time to talk about making books, developing characters, and the method I used to make the illustrations in Guided by Magic.
The most rewarding moment occurred when I was reading a part of Tangled in Magic. Since we were focusing on character development, I wanted the students to hear the first time the character of Scrub appeared in the series. In this selection, protagonist Agatha finds Scrub staked out to die in the forest.
I looked up from the page I was reading and saw twenty-some awestruck faces, silent, listening intently. What an affirmation of my writing! An author couldn’t ask for a better response.
While the students were working on creating their own characters using a worksheet I developed for the purpose, they took turns examining the books and art materials I’d brought. They perused the magazines containing my writing, and my handmade books, but the most fascinating objects by far were the linocuts and tools I used to make the illustrations for Book II, Guided by Magic.
In the end, I enjoyed myself immensely, and I’m looking forward to more author visits.
Thank you Amy Wendel, and the fifth grades of Walden Elementary School!