Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

"Stillness Flows" (c) 2005 AK Philippas

Before I start my travels to join my family in celebration of Christmas, wanted to wish everyone who stops by a joyful holiday season and many blessings in the New Year!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Holidays

Having trouble uploading photos again, so I'll simply write an update & add them later: It feels wonderful to be home. I stayed late at the office yesterday to finish preparing 8 expense reports to submit before the end-of-year deadline. That was the last task on my To Do list and when the final PDF file was emailed to our Finance office, a wonderful feeling of exhiliration came over me. I'm on vacation! YES. It's been several years since the luxury of paid time-off was available to me and I'm very grateful for it.

So what did I do first? Came home, prepared a quick dinner of portabello mushroom ravioli with brussel sprouts sauted in butter with a bit of chopped ham & red onions, sprinkled with fresh Parmesan--a very tasty combinaton and then wrote all my Christmas cards. At11pm, drove to the post office to mail them, so they'd go out early morning. Unfortunately, chose the nearer PO and they don't pick up until noon. Oh well, at least their on their way.

This morning I slept in until 8:30am. Felt great. My 7am physical therapy appointment got canceled yesterday by the therapist so I didn't have to rush off to the Health Center, though I did want to keep the treatment momentum going. After breakfast decided to finish painting the mirror frame which has been on the kitchen table for 2 weeks now (with a first coat of sheer gold acrylic). I added a sponged copper and then scrub-brushed more old-gold color. Looks so much better than the harsh black which didn't look well on the wall in the living room. After a few hours of drying, I'll add a cover coat of clear acrylic to finish the project.

While the brush was wet, looked around and remembered the small, square, black wood frame in the studio, which I thought was also too harsh for the little photo inside it, so I got that down and brushed some gold acrylic over the black. Might change the picture inside, but the frame definitely feels better.

So, today is a day of preparations for Christmas. Gifts are already wrapped and waiting in their travel bag. Main tasks are house cleaning and a few items to buy for my sisters' and Mom's Christmas day stockings (a new tradition for us). When I stayed over last year after our Christmas Eve celebration, my sister hung up one of her socks for me, next to their official stockings. It looked "modest in size" but turned out to be quite stretchable and filled out nicely after Santa stopped by during the night. Lots of fun!

Wishing you a wonderful day!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Soaring Together

When driving to work in the morning, my route goes through a lovely park which borders the Long Island Sound. Often there is enough time to park by the walkway and look out onto the water for a short meditation before starting a day at the office. Today there was a bonus, even though there was only time to drive slowly through and observe the silvery water with its soft gray/pink horizon, 2 joggers embracing the cold and a few, scattered geese heading toward the islands. I was humming various holiday songs to myself, feeling very grateful & glad to have seen the geese, because watching birds flying always inspires me.

As I turned toward the last bend in the road, I heard a honk and looked up to the left, gasping at the sight of about 50 Canadian geese flying in a perfect V formation! Where were they a minute ago?! My heart soared out to greet them & their powerful, harmonic movement across the sky. BEAUTIFUL! I cheered, "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!".

As the holiday preparations gather intensity & stress begins to mount, I wish you quiet pauses to notice the beauty that still surrounds us.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


A snowflake is one of the most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together!
-- Unknown

That came in my 'As A Man Thinketh' daily email. Another reminder that it's what you do with what you have that really matters.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Trust Courage

Whatever path you take in life
There will be joy amidst the strife.
Rememer always "Love is All"
And in your heart hear angels call:
You're held and watched
With Loving Care,
So trust your heart,
Get out there -- dare!
To live the fullest you know how
And let your mind
Rest in the Now.
- Alexandra K Philippas
(c) 2006

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

"Evolution" Art Exhibit - Review

“Evolution” is the name of the colorful current exhibit at the Greenville Library, showing paintings by Preston Hollow artists Elizabeth Hirsch and Anna Kostro. Sunday afternoon, Sept. 10, the doors opened to the official opening during which visitors from NYC, Connecticut, Washington, DC, New Jersey and the local area enthusiastically viewed the wide variety of works displayed. The two sisters’ paintings express their walk through life in many styles, providing interest for the viewer and a fascinating glimpse into their artistic ‘evolution’ as it has progressed through landscapes, portraits, still life and fantasy using oils, acrylics, watercolor, pastels and collage. The joy they experience in sharing their talents was felt by everyone who attended. I look forward to seeing more exhibits as their artistic journey continues. Since the show is up through the month of September, a visit to the Greenville Library gallery space is highly recommended.

My sisters put together a wonderful art exhibit--20 paintings each--of new and previously finished works. Above is the review I emailed to four local newspapers (Greenville, NY). Since I gave the memory card with all photos taken at the show to my sister, so she could print them out first, there are no pictures to post yet...sigh. It really was a wonderful event and I'm very proud of my sisters for accomplishing the goal they set last year. Bravo! Let's start planning the next one!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Finally! Kayla Quilt photo


16" x 16" (21" x 16" w/ trim) fused cotton & silk, machine quilted

photo transfer on cotton, wood & glass beads, brass charms, sequins, rayon thread, silk ribbon

Didn't do anything differently today, just opened a new post and uploaded the same two pictures I tried to show this weekend, except this time they appeared. Fine. I think you'll agree the little wooden beads give the stark graphic design a bit of playfulness. Glad it all ended well.

I'm home with a sore throat and achey body today. Need to go to the doctor this afternoon for some meds. It makes me feel sick just thinking of the emails piling up at the office computer, but tomorrow is another day, so no need to worry ahead. It's a gray, rainy day here on the coast (I call them 'watercolor' days because of the soft, washed edges) which adds to the feeling of just wanting to curl up in bed and sleep. Good to you later!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

"Kayla" Quilt - Final Version

The quilt I made for my friend Sheena managed to return to me after I gave it to her as a gift when leaving my last job in December '05 because she wanted me to figure out how to hang it. Originally it was to be framed, but when we went together to a frame shop the man came up with a combination of matts and frames that ended up with a $350 price tag. No thank you...but a simple sleeve on the back didn't seem right and she wasn't too keen on putting it onto a plexiglass backing, but didn't really tell me what the budget parameters were, nor any preferences of what style would coordinate with her home (the piece was originally envisioned hanging in her office at the workplace). Too many possibilities, not enough information to make easy choices and there was too much going on with looking for a new job to deal with this unexpected puzzle.

While in itself it was an intersting design challenge, it was also frustrating because I did not want to undo any of the work on the finished piece and disliked the idea of attaching something else to it on the outside (back) of all the finished edges. I purchased two different styles of ribbon and another time some strips of beading that reminded me of children's wooden blocks and seemed like a playful addition, but again wondered how to attach it and hide it without doing a lot of extra work.

In the end, I sewed the beads onto the bottom and the ribbon loops on top, with a clean stitch edging, found a wooden bar at home to give her as a starting point so she can see how it would look hanging that way and took her out to lunch on Tuesday to give her the adjusted gift. These additions were conceived to open up the design if it was to hang on the wall by itself and to add some length to the original square format, so a standard size rectangular frame could be used if she decided to frame it after all. What a relief! She loves it! I'm glad she's happy and very glad to have that weight of expectation off my shoulders. Here's the finished quilt of little "Kayla"

Sorry. 4 attempts and Blogger still doesn't capture the photo's. Will try again a bit later.

Dove Delight

I came home from work earlier this week and found three little visitors on the deck outside my kitchen. I got the camera and took some photo's through the glass sliding doors, moving very slowly so they wouldn't be startled and fly away. On the contrary, feeling very safe and cozy these little birds sat around for a few hours!

That's my bonsai maple in the planter--it is six years old and came home with me as a 8 inch seedling, retrieved from my sister's forest. It's a joy to watch it grow and change colors with the seasons. Local sparrows particularly enjoy sitting on the little branches, using the leaves like umbrellas to rest from the bright sun. I can eat breakfast while watching them hop on, change branches and fly away, all the while chirping with delight. One of life's daily pleasures...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Tiny Potted Garden

Coral bells that remind me to peal with laughter and joy at the constantly renewing cycles of life. Hosta to remember that even the shady patches are full of beauty & potential. And the fern, which I plucked as a couple of fronds from the stream bank behind my sister's house years ago, has held for me the image of the entire forest scene, where others see just a plant. I keep these containers at the driveway entrance of the apartment to liven up the asphalt stretch.

Worked all day in the studio yesterday, with only a couple of breaks. One table is totally clear. The desk has only a few remaining papers to file. The drawing table now has only a few stacks of files to review. Sounds like a lot left, but there was so much more. Felt great to break through the inertia, that feeling of it being too overwhelming to even begin. Today is Sunday, a day of rest. I will re-energize beside my girlfriends woodland pool and work again tomorrow. Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Clean-Up... Again

An essential element for creativityfor me is a clean, organized working space. Right now, my studio is not that. It is the graveyard of withered ambitions, forgotten intentions, aborted efforts and a holding area for the many ideas still clinging to life, waiting for the chance to take form. It is dusty from lack of use, but filled with the energy of potential ready to be stirred into action. Yes!

I woke up this morning at 5:00 a.m. and decided not to turn over this time, to get out of bed right away and go excavate the studio, face the piles and half-finished artworks and clean it up. It's time to make a decision. Use it, file it, give it away or toss it. Everything must have an active purpose for being in that room. I'm pruning the tree of my life. I'm weeding the garden of my dreams. I'm tilling the soil of my future. I'd better get back to work!

"Every moment is an opportunity for another choice." Elias
What will you choose today?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

New Beginning

Good morning!!!! That's the view from my new job, which has been a large part of my focus during these last months of readjustment and reconsideration. It's time to get back to the studio. It's time to open to blogging again (at least once a week), to share with you. This is a just the start...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Routine vs. Discipline

While catching up on a bit blog reading today, I noticed an exchange concerning routine vs. discipline. It reminded me of how much my husband depended on maintaining his daily routine to remind him of healthier days during his chemo/radiation treatment months. Each activity meant something, gave the day an outline to follow with broad headings, allowing the actual events and details of the day to provide variety. He said it gave him hope.

My own experience has shown me that the quality of everything we do depends on intention and attention, so routine will be as mindless and boring as we allow, just as discipline can become constricting if enforced robotically. Routine structures the activities, and we use discipline to do them as daily practice. HOW we do depends on attitude.

There is also the aspect of routine which carries us through a dark period like a beacon precisely because of its repetitive nature. All the various diciplines encourage us to develop a routine that will lead us to the flow of creative inspiration--working in a selected space, doing the warmups, putting in the time (however short or seemingly fruitless) and closing with hints for the next days practice...a new starting point built on this days work. Every day.

Routine and discipline walk hand in hand, like little schoolchildren-- either controlled and bored, fearful of punishment or smiling and skipping ready to discover the days new lessons. Boring or exciting--same energy, different approach. Shrieks of delight, furrowed brows, deep sighs--it's all part of the show.

Get Ready to Fly

So far this morning, three people have spoken to me about being thrust into situations requiring sudden change. Risk is in the air folks. Yes, I feel nervous, but I'm determined to soar into my destiny with joy. Here's the quote I was emailed this morning for encouragement.
A trapeze artist
cannot swing
from one bar to another
without letting go.

Fly and land with a smile...ta daaah!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Happy New Year 2006!

When midnight arrived on Dec. 31st and that wonderful, glittering crystal ball finally descended at Times Square in Manhattan I cried. What?!!! Yes, a few tears of RELIEF. 2005 was finally over. Deep breath...finally done, finished, gone, never to return again. God bless this planet and help us all find peace and courage and wisdom and most of all the living of "love thy neighbor as thy Self." This year is one of promise. It begins another cycle of major changes for me. It's been a long period of overturning and planting, but this time the changes will be seeing the multi-colored blooms of seeds planted and diligently tended before.

How did I celebrate this new beginning? I phoned friends & family in Canada, Switzerland and in their new homes around the USA. I baked bread and cooked delicious meals. I devoured inspiration from the quilting and fabric painting books borrowed from the library and sewed the background on a little practice quilt. I wrote many pages in my journal and was deeply moved reading Ray Bradberry's, "Zen and the Art of Writing." Caught the matinee of the Narnia Chronicles with a theater full of children and popcorn bearing parents. Fabulous! I loved the Narnia books when I read them years ago and I loved the movie. It reminded me of how much I enjoyed reading fairy tales and science fiction as a child, always amazed at how fantastic worlds full of people, creatures, different ideas and entire lifetimes could be visited inside the covers of a book.

On Sunday I visited my dear friend Hilly who has just celebrated her 5th anniversary after breat cancer. Hurray!!! We hadn't seen each other since I starting treatment for the car accident injuries. Finally told her that two days before Christmas I was laid off from my place of employment after 4 years there. Yes, many changes. We smiled and hugged--onward and upward. It was wonderful to be amoung friends again and reconnecting with those in her circle whom I only see during holiday visits. Not getting around much these days, so attending that party was a festive treat!

Today it's been raining, driveway is icy and the snow expected in the afternoon has already begun to fall. Big fat flakes dancing down from a solid white sky. So far they're melting. The left knee aches, neck creaks, side throbs, the head is dizzy and the stomache's upset; couldn't drive to physical therapy this morning nor to the office. Another day of rest at home. BUT...chin up...I plan to do some hand stitching on the little quilt already begun:

One step at a time...every cloud has a silver lining! To those who've stopped by for a visit, I wish you joy!