Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Good-bye 2008

A snowy, blustery day had me reviewing the past twelve months. It's hard to believe how different my life is now compared to this time last year when I had an intense office job with wonderful people at a beautiful location and believed it would continue to provide a secure place to grow. Well, the job was eliminated at the end of April when my boss was transferred to another city. Several were released, then the whole division of the company moved to a new location and more people were let go. Change continues to require a different kind of confidence while looking for a new position and getting smiles but no job offers yet. It's been a time of strengthening on the inside. I look forward to a new year opening new opportunities for all whose life has taken a sudden turn.

Time to cook a festive dinner and finish writing in my 2008 journal. Hard to believe the year is really over. I wish you a joyful transition into a success filled 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Holidays!

That's my wonderful Mom who celebrated her 89th birthday on Dec. 1st! My sister's and I celebrate Christmas Eve at Mom's home (which she shares with my second sister for many years now). The sister who lives in the Catskills brought along her two little chihuahua-mix dogs. They behaved so well during this first trip away from the mountains, we took them over to my brother's apartment in Manhattan for our Christmas Day family reunion. What a treat for everyone!
That's Pepe and Alco getting acquainted with new surroundings as my sisters Anna and Elizabeth reassure them after their 3 hour drive into the big city -- a new experience for 1 1/2 year old dogs which have never been away from their mountain home.

Some of the treats we enjoyed after a scrumptious dinner: sugar glazed gingerbread heart cookies (the only store bought item), a bowl of mixed dried fruit compote (my specialty), a ginger-spice cake (which I baked for the first time from a family recipe but had to phone Mom late night to clarify some of the instructions--turned out fine after all); beautifully wrapped green tin from my sister-in-law Krysia full of home baked Polish gingerbread cookies (she and her sister and family bake over 1,000 of these each year for the holidays) and next to that is my sister's delicious Walnut Torte. No calorie counting allowed during the holidays.
We gathered round the table and said a prayer of thanksgiving for all the blessings of the past year and then offered individual wishes as we broke/shared the "Oplatek" (a thin wafer blessed by a priest, usually sent to us from our family in Poland) with each person at the table. The feasting began with conversation ranging from memories of past holidays with loved ones who have passed away to catching up on current adventures, then we paused the eating to sit around the Christmas tree and sing traditional carols in Polish and our favorite American ones too. Since we all love to sing and enjoy the three part harmony we manage for most of the carols, this part always lasts a while. The little dogs cuddled in our laps and listened quietly. We opened the presents Santa managed to deliver before his midnight trip around the world and than had our coffee and wonderful deserts. Another great Christmas!
Christmas Day morning started early when the dogs had to go for a walk. We then "discovered" stockings full of goodies and opened those together. After breakfast we went to Mass at a church which had a full musical program for the occassion. We drove to the cemetary to place a wreath on my father's grave and sang a few carols for him in the freezing wind. We were so cold after singing that we walked over to our aunt's grave and said a quick prayer and told her we'd sing for her in the car on our way to Manhattan to see the rest of the family. I'm sure she understands.
We always enjoy the family gathering on Christmas Day because we don't get to see everyone very often during the year. My sister brought her new video camera, handed each person a verse of the poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and filmed us each reading our part. It was a lot of fun and we're able to view half of it on Flikr but the second half doesn't want to load. Does anyone know what may be causing the problem? She's trying to compress the file but it's still cutting out at midpoint.
My Mom and sister Hanka came to visit me in CT on Sunday. As a respite from the Christmas flavors, I prepared a curried chicken with garbanzo beans and spinach stew served over Indian basmati rice. It was a long and wonderful visit, even though we'd just spent several days together in NY.
So, all focus is now on my continued job hunt and tomorrow's New Year's festivities. After a while it all feels surreal. I wish you continued good humor as the holidays continue.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Light and Love

A child of Light was born this day, within my heart it came;
With Love it opened my own eyes to show we are the same:
In Heart and Soul we are alike, as children made by God,
When we are willing to receive and walk in Joy, not plod
Along with heavy hearts, unable to succeed
In trusting Source and sharing all with loving word and deed.

We each are Light, that is the truth of why our Spirits shine,
And why our faces glow with Love -- we’re Sun-kissed fruit on Vine.
The Vine whose root eternally deep feeds us through our days,
And helps us blossom to bear fruit in all our myriad ways.
We then can offer ourselves, for others to receive,
Along their way on Life’s long path, Light’s nurture and reprieve.

The Vine, the Love, again, it’s One -- the all-embracing Wonder
That changes form in constant dance whose steps can seem to thunder
Across the hiding, wounded place that shirks within our mind;
It shakes up old, constricting thoughts that only hurt and bind.
This shaking Thunder, radiant Light, releases us to learn,
And we, Life’s blooms, rise toward the Sun, ’til we by grace discern:

There is One Source, there is One Light; there’s only One--that’s Love.
It’s only on the stage called ‘earth’ Light seems to shine above,
But truly it is all around, above, below, within,
It has no limit, time or place, for Light and Love are kin.

Rejoice together, babes of Light, with Joy extend your hand,
The dawning day supports us Now, let’s walk renewed, let’s stand
In parts that we have come to play, appearing in Earth’s show
As Light’s fruit bearing seeds of Love to plant where’er we go.

We are all living Light, All One, there really is no other.
A dazzling Truth of boundless Joy:
Father is Light -- Love is Mother.

Olenka / Alexandra K Philippas
(C) December 22, 2008

Hoping you're having a wonderful holiday!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"AOK" Mosiac

"AOK" Mosaic 11 3/4" x 7 7/8"

(C) AK Philippas

stained glass & grout on wood panel

I mentioned in my last post that I finished a new mosaic. It was started quite a while ago and went through many variations, moving from one surface in the studio to another until it became clear that it's time to Just Do It. It started out as doodling with my name initials.

You can see above the progression from one to two colors below. In the current version, the tessare were moved to a horizontal format in the K.

Next, a sample tile was prepared using the glass colors of this mosaic with four different grout colors to see which would work best. The wrong grout can ruin a piece -always do a sample first!

Above you see the test tile being masked off into sections as each grout color is applied.
Below, the final tile showing grout top L-R: in light blue, light green, then terra-cotta and creme.
Deciding the green would both tie the colors together and yet provide an accent, the grouting began...
Since these photo's were first sent to Flikr, I included one of myself "hard at work" for the family to see. It was late at night and I was glad to have finally finished this long overdue mosaic.

There is another one still waiting on the table...
May we all find the courage today to finally complete at least one of the projects that call us from wherever we hide unfinished projects!