• Survival Garden

    Survival Garden

    What a 'clicky-bait' title, right?!

    Not long ago I clicked on a video titled "Survival Garden" out of curiosity and let me tell you, it was a rabbit hole that I should have never gone down - but interesting to say the least. 

    I've struggled my whole life with what experts might call "depression" or "bi-polar disorder" and while I am rational and open enough to admit and accept that some of my ways can be a bit ... oh, "Bi-Polar" like, I do not pay much mind to it because its just how I've always been. What I do pay attention to more, is my reaction to these tendencies - these fluctuations in my mood - and how my world and the world around me is altered due to these reactions. 

    The tree on the right in the photo is my lemon tree. (I once heard you can propagate fruits and vegetables and I decided to try it) This was my first ever attempt at growing -  despite growing up with Grandparents who always grew their own vegetables -  and I couldn't wait to get an endless supply of lemons from my very own tree.  I recently learned that I will never get a lemon from this tree - it just "won't work" I am told. I was disappointed when learning this, but I am okay with that. I am ok just to see it grow and survive - to see it benefit Mother Nature in other ways.

    This beautiful little tree has been through 4 Winters in South Louisiana - where it can sometimes (not too often) drop below freezing in the early months of the year - and last year I did not move it into my garage after a really really cold(below freezing) night. It started to look very sad - depressed - eventually losing all it's leaves and the branches became brittle and broke off if you touched it ... it was dead. I let it die in the cold.

     I couldn't bring myself to pull it and throw it in the compost pile, so I left it. I let it sit there, in all it's pitiful and naked glory, next to it's companion - the Pepper plant (to the left) which also suffered the same fate. But, somehow, some way, they slowly started showing signs of life without me doing a single thing(No watering - Nothing.) Leaves and new branches started to grow, and after some TLC, the pepper plant is giving us some spicy peppers and the lemon tree has nursed and fed plenty of giant swallow tail eggs and caterpillars - Isn't that something? 

    My personal life has been extremely difficult for me for the past month or so. There were ( and are ) so many changes happening and the life I once knew is no more. My younger ones will enter into 'Big School' (a very difficult decision) come August (I've been homeschooling for more than 16 yrs!) and I may be entering into the work force ( for the first time in over 20 years ) along with many other things that I just can't bring myself to type - and my body is not taking these stressful changes well.

    So what do I do? I do what I typically do, what I know, I dip. Its starts slow and then all of a sudden, I plunge. I fall. I shut down. I go to this place - that all too familiar place - where I will physically, mentally, and emotionally shut down and leave the world around me. I wilt. I lose all my leaves. I become brittle and break easily at the slightest touch and eventually I am just there - in all my pitiful and naked glory - dead to those around me and the outside world. 


    Some how I start to show signs of life again...somehow I start to grow my leaves back. Somehow I begin to live again. And Sometimes, I will come out of this state of being with a burst of energy - an insatiable appetite to create and to live and to be - and this burst of life coming from me can be difficult to adjust to 'to get back to normal' ... especially after being in such a deep dark place for days and weeks (sometimes months) on end. 

    I lost a good bit of time. I lost old ways of living (or am in the process of losing). I miss my older kids (they're alive - just wanted to say that to avoid speculation) and my friend. My left eye is all jacked up again for the second time...but I am now able to slowly nurse and feed the areas and beings in my life that need to be nursed and fed. I am able to continue on - covered in a new set of vibrant healthy leaves (or armor) until the next freeze.

    Pardon me for the long break, for the projects that have sat on my desk (untouched) while I was mentally and emotionally absent, for the packages (still here) that needed to be mailed, for the emails that needed to be returned, for the updates that needed be has been a really really rough 5 weeks (más e menos)

    ...but, Somehow ...  just like Mother Nature - just like the garden and my lemon tree - I survived.

     Life in general truly is a 'Survival Garden' for so many of us.  There are times when we flourish and get a great harvest from this life  and then there are times when we struggle in place...when all we can do is protect our roots...hang on and just be.





    About Depression - if you are experiencing a loss of interest and no desire to do general day to day tasks -  to the point it is hindering your life -  please reach out for help. I know it's hard and sometimes just the thought is too much work, but please do.

    And if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please please reach out to a family member or friend or even better, a medical professional who can assist you and help you. 

    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 

    1- 800-273-8255 


    About the photo - My babies used to play on this old swing set, but they've grown too much to enjoy it and I don't want to remove it. One of the hurricanes last year took out some boards on the roof of it, but it's still standing so I gave it a new function/purpose. Someday it will have vines growing in and out and over and through. As time goes on, it will be covered in greenery and flowers and this place - that used to produce so many giggles and smiles and racing heart beats - will entertain new life and be a center point for Mother Nature to do her thing. 



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  • Set Backs

    Set Backs


    I  am not sure what it is about me, but I am consistently dealt set backs in everything I do - yes, pretty much everything. 

    Perhaps these are lessons in patience...or reality? Not sure which one it is but I do know that it happens for me so often that fear sets in if things are going well - on time and as planned - because I am used to it not going according to plans. I am starting to wonder if my subconscious is purposely playing games with me and that I (somehow) cause these sets backs deliberately? I think that is something worth pondering - but another day - For now, I will just breathe a sigh of relief because this work around turned out alright...even kinda cute. 

    Here are some wonky stamps I carved to cover up my big mistake. I like how they're messy and not perfect - even the flowers (my flowers are rarely - if ever - anatomically correct). I purposely make them that way. I like the look of things that are not perfect because it reminds me of myself - of us humans - and how it doesn't  matter how hard we try, there will always be set backs and there will always be the fact that we are not perfect images/beings. And that's okay! It makes us kinda cute. It humbles us. Keeps us on our toes. Teaches us patience. And that makes us better human beings. 






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  • 'The Colombiana'

    'The Colombiana'

    On those days when my creativity is waning and I've had about all that I can take of flowers - looking at them, carving them, stamping them - I take out a past journal that has sketches of all the women in my family. Spending a little time with these 'women' always puts me in a better mood and seems to help lift me out of a creative rut - I've been carving them for a print series.   

    This particular print is of my older children's Paternal Great Grandmother and I call her, 'The Colombiana' - she is my favorite in the whole series.

    The original photo of her was taken on the day of my children's Grandparent's wedding. Everyone in the photo is looking at the camera and smiling - the bride and groom all bright eyed and in love - and she is there staring off into space with a lost look of wonder in her eyes.

    I could stare at that photo for hours wondering what she was thinking - with her neat 1950's style dress, standing in a relaxed pose while everyone is happy and standing at attention, the bouffant hairdo, that lost look of wonder and detachment in her eyes - she is so relatable to me and the overall look of her speaks to me on so many levels...and in some ways, the same as paper does. 

    At first glance, it's just a piece of paper -or a photo -  so what?! But if you look closer at the fibers weaved throughout...the rough yet soft light and thin it is... but at the same time, tough and hard to tear...How the wild frayed deckle edges give it a look of rattiness - sort of unrefined and lacking in sophistication - but at the same time, that unrefined look is the actual beauty and elegance of it - and when you look at it that way, it becomes something more than just paper. It becomes a story that is hard to translate and leaves you staring off into space with that lost look of wonder in your eyes - just like 'The Colombiana'. 

    (Speaking of eyes...she is missing an eye. I cut too deep and it fell off with the first cleaning between paint colors. I have to carve a new one - no, I am not upset at all ;) - I think I will work on that tonight because I just can't look at another flower right now )

    I can't wait to try the prints on all the colors of this lovely Korean hanji.


    Fun Fact : She isn't from Colombia, she is from right next door - Panama - where my children's Grandparents are from and live. It is the other Great Grandmother (the Maternal Great Grandmother) that is Colombian. For some reason I call her that because it appealed to me and I believe it suits her. (have you ever been to Panama? It's absolutely beautiful in the interior of the country - untouched by all the modern things of today and still one of my favorite places in the world)




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  • Paper Love

    Paper Love

    I don't know about you, but I absolutely love paper - always have.

    When I was younger, most of the girls my age would "ooh" and "ahh" over the latest fashion trends, jewelry, and boys, I used to get excited about paper.

    The beginning of the school year was my favorite time because that's when I would go school shopping with my Father  (who is also a paper lover) and get new notebooks. Some of my favorite childhood memories are stationery shopping and spending hours in a library with him - those were the good ole Dewy Decimal System days - the days of watching a writer/artist so lost in that zone that I probably could have taken off my shoes and climbed to the top of the shelves and read aloud every volume of The Encyclopedia Britannica and he wouldn't have noticed.

    I have to say that not much has changed over the years(with us both). I still adore him and paper... still spend hours immersed in books... and still get excited over writing with a blue Bic ballpoint pen - with the pointy cap. Isn't that all a girl really needs?

    I never anticipated that my love of paper would send me spiraling into a world of papers I never knew existed - A paper world with foreign names and origins that I can hardly pronounce on a good day - with a good teacher.  

    Almost all of the papers I use are from Japan because there's just something about those particular papers that I cannot get enough of. It's as if each paper has its own story to tell your hands when you touch it. Sometimes the paper is so excited it yells to you all loud crinkly. Sometimes it’s in a quiet mood and speaks low. And sometimes it whispers softly and your fingers respond accordingly and delicately - like with the Kyoseishi I recently got that feels like cloth. It sometimes feels strange to print on them - like I need to adjust the print image or find the right one that will marry well with the history and feel and energy or aura and sophistication of the paper itself. 

    Each story, each feel, surrounds you and you find yourself transported to a village somewhere deep in Japan - absorbing the stories and the lives of the papermakers. The love and care that is put into making each piece of paper is somehow embedded deep between and within the fibers - becoming one - making it noticeable upon touch that something is different here...something unexplainable...something beautiful...theres a story being told...a sensory experience. 

    Yep, paper still puts butterflies in my stomach - just like the old days of shopping with my Daddy... surrounded by books, drowning in papers, with a trusty Bic ready to write the stories we want to tell...print the images we want to print...the secrets we want to keep.




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