Gift #1147: Winterlights

How’s your new year unfolding?  Today was one of the first bitterly cold days we’ve had in a while.  We’ve had snow flurries almost all day and that has reminded me of my recent visit to Winterlights.  This is an outdoor Christmas light extravaganza hosted by our local art museum and garden.  It debuted last year and was wonderful.  Mom and I went earlier in December and were hoping for a return trip.  But then it was sold out for the week between Christmas and New Years.  We were able to get tickets after the New Year though and it was a lovely activity to boost the spirits after the excitement of Christmas had gone and the usual schedule was in place again.  Tonight thought it would be nice to share some photos of the decorated landscape.

Upon getting through the queue, a visitor finds oneself in WinterMarket, which is a large indoor room where you can buy goodies, warm drinks, and hot food with which to fortify you for the frosty outdoor adventures.  You bundle up, head through the glass doors, and find yourself in fairyland.

Snowflake bridge is the first display and it’s one of my favorites.  Lit snowflakes dance in the air, and projected snowflakes decorate the walkway.

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It is magical and these lit pillars cast beautiful patterns on the ground – I’m fascinated by them.

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The next display is a choreographed light show of dazzlement set to the Nutcracker suite.  In the background is the majestic Lilly house, which anchors the many Christmas trees, globes, and ground lights that flicker on and off with the music.  I love to watch the lights dance with the ballet music.

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The Lilly house is open during the evening and stunningly mantled in holiday glory.  I was delightfully surprised to find that the decorations were different from last year.  The only fitting word for the inside is … enchanting.   The foyer is transformed into a wintry forest of birch trees adorned with paper chains and ornaments.  It was breathtaking.

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The library was crowned with a stately Christmas tree in the bay windows and decorated with more paper chains and candles.

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The music room was a whimsical flurry of paper birds and butterflies.  Here are a fluttering group of them about the piano.  The Christmas tree was in this room was filled with paper butterflies and ornaments.  It’s hard to have a favorite room in this Winter Wonderland but this room was absolutely lovely.

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However, the dining room might have been the piece de resistance.  Paper chains cascaded from the chandelier to fall in piles all around the room.  They were interlaced with each other and draped about the furniture in a riotous cascade.  The table itself was adorned with red and white paper poinsettia.  Billows of paper chain fell on the smaller side tables and looked like snow drifts burying the white narcissus blooms.

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I’ve never seen anything like this before.  I had no idea the humble paper chain could be elevated to “magical Christmas fairy-land”.  My deepest congratulations and thanks to the design team who created this wonderland of beauty.  Then we’re off outside again to see gardens festooned with lighted flowering trees and curtains of lights that shifted color in the wind, a large Christmas tree made entirely of plastic toys and illuminated from the inside, and a “winter storm” lighted walkway.  Between all these frosty, twinkling exhibits are warming stations where you can stop to take the chill off, a kissing arbor wrapped in winter greens and mistletoe, drink stations, and my favorite…. smore stations!  Here you can buy smore kits and make your own treat!!

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It makes for a festive evening where even I start to think that winter just might be a wonderful season of delight.  When it’s time to close you follow the path back underneath the twinkling snowflakes while carols softly serenade you.

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Once back inside, one must take a few moments to appreciate the snowy white Christmas orchids.

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On the way out to the parking lot you can look up in wonderment at the atrium where several lighted trees are suspended from the ceiling, draped in lights and ornaments.   They are made all the more amazing by the lights that hang down from the base of the tree.

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No doubt about it, it has been a magical night and thank you for sharing it with me.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1146: More thoughts on Wonder

I’ve been thinking more about my word for the year “wonder” over the past few days.  My Pinterest app has developed an unnerving clairvoyant ability and since publishing my last post, it has obligingly offered several beautiful quotes about wonder.  I thought I would share a few of them with you today.  In their original form on Pinterest, they are art prints and cards by SacredBee.  She is one of my favorite artists because of her whimsical designs and how perfectly she pairs her art with lovely quotes that speak to the soul.  I first saw her art as cards at a gift store in Denver and have since acquired a collection of them.  You can check out her website to be inspired.

But today offered up wonderment of its own in the garden and so the pictures to accompany the quotes come from there.  This was a lovely day, like the allurement of early spring.  It was mild, with temps in the low 50s and it was full of glorious sunshine and blue sky.  The birds were all a-twitter with excitement and the squirrels were scampering about.  I went out to the garden to see if by chance my hellebores were waking up.  And joy of joys!!!  They are!!!  There are new buds and new growth on several of them…. which means we shall soon have flowers to get us through the rest of winter and into spring.  I’ve blogged repeatedly about how much I love hellebores so I’ll try to rein it in today, but they are such a gift in the dreariness that winter can bring.  God was so gracious to create plants that are hardy enough to start blooming in the dead of winter and remind us that even in the most barren of landscapes there is always life…. and where there’s life, there’s wonder.

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“Wonder and I took a vow; we exchanged rings, I fell in love and she accepted all my desires.”  – Rumi

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“Love is the joy of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the Gods.”  – Plato

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“And we’ll live, and pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh at gilded butterflies, and talk upon the mystery of things, as if we were God’s spies.” – Shakespeare

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“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder” _ E.B. White

 

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift # 1145: Wonderment

Happy New Year to you all!  Standing on the precipice of a new year is always a thrilling moment.  We can’t see beyond the horizon to what this year will hold in store, but we fill it with our hopes, dreams, and fears nonetheless.  It’s exciting to think about what we’ll experience, how we’ll grow, and what we’ll do with the time that is given to us.
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I don’t usually make formal resolutions at the new year  A couple of years ago, picking a word for your new year became popular.  I hadn’t jumped on the bandwagon of that yet either, but this year I think I will.  And my word is “wonder”.  I want to catch it like one catches butterflies and then releases them to the sun laughing at their colored wings pulsing with life.  I want the stars to take my breath away while I fall in love with the moon.   This past year has been a very difficult one and I’ve gone through it in a fog.  I spent the majority of it being exhausted, dragging myself through every day and wanting nothing more than to hibernate for 6 months.  I had very little desire to do much of anything, and it was horrible.  I felt numb and “un-alive”.  I’ve not ever been through a time like that before and it was miserable to not feel delight over the blessings that usually fill me with joy.

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So this year I’m waging war against the numbness and exhaustion.  I refuse to live my life like a shell of a person.  I want to recapture the wonderment that used to characterize my days.  As I’ve been reading through the Bible these past few months, I’ve been surprised to see how often the word “wonder” comes up.  It is used repeatedly to describe the works of God in creation as well as the acts He performs on behalf of men .  In many of the passages I’ve been reading, the writer encourages the reader to remember the wonders of God and to praise Him for the wonders He’s done.

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My goals for regaining a sense of wonder are three-fold.  First: to spend time in nature, appreciating the beauty of creation, and drinking it in.  I already do this, but this past year I haven’t really allowed it to soak into me.  This year I plan to be on the lookout for ordinary miracles all around and to give thanks for them.  Secondly, I want to be wide-eyed in amazement at how God is at work in my life and in the world.  I want to be actively pursuing Him and be aware of His presence.  I’ve been praying that I’ll draw closer to Him and that He’ll fill my heart with wonder as I ponder all He has done and all He is doing.  And third, I want that wonder to pour out of my heart to be a blessing to those that God will bring into my life this year.  It’s my heart’s desire that my life will be a light and joy for others… that people will feel appreciated and heard when they talk with me, that I will be a source of peace not conflict, and that I will share my talents and time to brighten the lives of those around me.

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So here’s to 2019!  I’m looking forward to sharing the journey with you.  May it be filled with wonderful things.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

PS Photos are from some highlights of the year:  the orchid show in February, my first pair of knitted socks and the flowers that inspired them (my favorites – hellebores), a visit home to Denver, and Spring Mill State Park in the fall.

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Gift #1144: Jingle Rails

Yesterday we went downtown to a museum to experience “Jingle Rails” – a holiday miniature train exhibit.  It’s been a long time since we’ve been and I was excited to visit it again and see what had changed.  About 10-15 trains meander through downtown Indianapolis, iconic scenes of the west, under tunnels, and over bridges in a huge gallery outfitted with trees, poinsettias, and snow.  While I’m not much of a train enthusiast, I do really admire the displays as they are all made completely of natural materials and are brilliant.  It’s like a snowy fairy scene on steroids.  Here’s a mini tour of some of my favorites:

First stop, downtown Indianapolis:

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Yep, here’s our very own city, outfitted with several famous buildings (although the building I work in is not represented.. sigh) and the traditional lighted Christmas tree that decorates the monument each December.

From there, we journey to California (hold on because it’s a long stretch, even by train).  We now arrive at our next destination – Yosemite National Park.  As a side note, this park is tops on my bucket list of places I’d love to see.  The model features a lovely remake of the inn.

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Isn’t the detailing exquisite?  I love the stonework columns.  Also in this exhibit are some teepees, which I liked because of how they were decorated.   They are made of cedar bark strips, and accented with nuts, acorn caps, and small stones.  I think it would be so fun to make these!

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After our stay at this national park, we board up on the next departing train and head to my beloved state of Colorado.  Here we make our way to the famed skiing town of Aspen.  And check out the accommodations here!

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This is one of my favorite buildings in the whole gallery (not that I’m biased towards Colorado or anything).  The railings are made of carved walnut shell slices.  Bark columns decorate the front, and the lights flicker delicately inside the windows, just beckoning you in.  Beyond is a ski lift that runs up the mountain above.  Hot air balloons hang from the ceiling because that’s a popular activity for the more adventurous types in Colorado.  Here is a shot up the mountain as seen between two joists of a railroad bridge overhead.

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Pure Colorado magic, that is.  At this point I start to get desperately homesick and also start getting derailed (pun intended) by little things in the exhibit, like that green lichen stuck to the large tree trunks, the pocket of little succulents over there, how they carved that gourd to look like a stagecoach….  Or what’s the story with this tiny building stuck on the edge of a cliff?

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Those tree roots around the building are amazing! And this is on the back side of the main exhibit.   I wonder what it would be like to live here…. But then we’re back on a train headed for the most famous national park of all… Yellowstone!

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I took lots of picture at this stop and have smartly arranged a few into a collage for you to save on the length of the blog post.  Here we have the magnificent inn (I love all those tiny windows).  My parents ate at the restaurant here when they visited last year.  Down below on the left is Old Faithful – it’s actually letting off steam in the photo but you have to look carefully to see it.   And there’s also the iconic Roosevelt Arch.  All around are geysers and little mineral pools which are beautifully recreated.

And new this year is a tour along Route 66! Starting out in Chicago and ending up in Santa Monica, the Mother Road bustled millions of cars across the US in its heyday.  Along the road, a myriad of oddities and dining/entertainment options sprang up.  And here are a few:

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From bottom right, the iconic sign and behind that is “the world’s largest rocking chair” which you could stop to admire on your road trip.  Bottom left gives a shot of the road itself leading out of Chicago and the first original Steak and Shake.  Top left is the great blue whale (it’s currently busy swallowing a train).  I have no idea what it’s story was – I think it was originally in Oklahoma, and then the Santa Monica Pier tells us that we’ve reached our journey’s end.

I hope you enjoyed the tour.  All aboard for the next train headed back east!!

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1143: Coming Down

For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,
    you came down,
 Since ancient times no one has heard,
    no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
    who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. 

In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God;
    we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the Lord, we trusted in him;
    let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

For in perfect faithfulness
    you have done wonderful things,
    things planned long ago.

Isaiah 64:3-4; 25:1, 9

Today for Christmas I wanted to share with you these verses that I’ve been pondering on during Advent.  They are from the book of Isaiah, which is my favorite book of the Bible.  On Christmas we celebrate the awe-inspiring miracle of God becoming flesh, of Infinity entering time and space, of the Everlasting One being born.  He came down…. He dwells with us.  The longer I spend thinking about the import of those words, the more precious and incredible they become.  Surely He has worked wonders among us.  He has come down, He has acted for us because He loves us, and He has secured our salvation.  Let us rejoice!

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I hope wherever you are on this Christmas evening, that your heart will be filled with peace and joy.  Merry Christmas! God is with us!

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1142: Christmas Ornaments

For the past couple of years I’ve made my own ornaments as Christmas gifts.  I was encouraged in this endeavor by a challenge from the Art Bead Scene blog where we make handmade ornaments and share them with each other via blog posts.  I think it’s been 3 years now that I’ve included this festive activity to my Christmas line-up.  Each year I like to incorporate a new technique I learned; and this year I settled on doing some more saltwater etching.  I was introduced to this method in October at the Inspired by Nature bead retreat hosted by Heather Powers.  I love this weekend full of classes, friends, inspiration, and jewelry-making.  I still am basking in the afterglow of it from October.

I was impressed with this method because it uses easily available ingredients and is non-toxic – two bonuses compared to other etching solutions I’ve experimented with before.  I can also use stamped images, which is much easier than the image transfer methods I’ve also used before.  While at the class I thought this would be a fabulous technique to try for ornaments this year.  And now that most have been sent to their new homes, I can post some pictures.

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I did two designs.  The first was made with a stamp of “O Holy Night”.  I made a star-shaped template that I used to cut the shapes after I’d etched the copper sheets.  Then came a lot of filing and sanding – and I mean a lot!  Many of the recipients have told me how “O Holy Night” is their favorite Christmas song and I’m pleased to have created something that reminds them of this hymn.  It’s my favorite as well.  It gives me goosebumps and brings me to tears every time I hear it.  It’s a powerful tribute to the night that God became man and how that truth transforms us and the world.

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My second design was… a bird (that’s a huge surprise to those who know me, I’m sure).  Nearly everything I make has a bird on it.  I loved this stamp and thought it would work really well as an ornament.   I picked a simple oval shape to frame the scene (I’m done cutting out stars for a while).  After all the ornaments were cut out, I cleaned the copper and gave the pieces a patina in liver of sulfur bath.  This is my favorite part!  Then I buffed them gently to heighten the contrast of the etching.  It’s rather like magic – the pieces come out of the bath dark and oxidized and then after some light sanding, they take on a beautiful, warm tone.  Oh I love it!  Then they are sealed with Renaissance Wax (which smells amazing) and ribbons added for hangers.

Here are a couple of shots of them “in action” on the Christmas tree.

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I hope that the ornaments on your tree are filled with special memories, and that your hearts are filled with joy and peace this Christmas Eve.  Only one more sleep till Christmas!

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1141: Winter Solstice, or moving out of the dark

Today is winter solstice (I love that word) and we’re finally at the point where all the days going forward will be slightly longer than the last.  Winter is a hard time for me – I miss the sun terribly and the dark, grey days wear at my soul.   I long for sun-saturated landscapes where I can be outside and winters in the Midwest don’t quite meet up to that expectation.  There’s beauty to be sure in this season, I just have to look harder for it and remember that brighter days are ahead.

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In the meantime, my coping mechanism with winter is to have as many twinkle lights as possible in the house.  I’ve been enjoying decorating for winter this week and adding in “just a few more lights”.  Right now I have 4 sets in my view and several more are on in the kitchen.

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A few years ago my brother and I watched a Dr. Who Christmas special which was a variation on the Christmas Carol.  I don’t remember the name of the episode, but Dr. Who narrated through the beginning about how special winter solstice and Christmas were and that its celebration was a way of saying “Congratulations – you’re halfway out of the dark”.  The phrase tied in nicely with the storyline of an older hardened man’s redemption and characterized his growth through the episode too.  That phrase became very meaningful to me as I pondered how true it is on a variety of levels.  Christmas season is a time when we celebrate the Light of the World coming to dwell with us.  Since watching that episode I’ve thought of Christmas as God’s way of telling us that we’re halfway out of the dark.  He’s coming to light our way home.

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So tonight on the darkest night of the year, I’m surrounding myself with lights, drinking hot chocolate, and watching Polar Express.  I’m giving my heart space and silence to marvel at the mystery that God became flesh and dwells with us.  I’m searching for the ordinary miracles that winter brings and the beauty to be found in this season – like the birds twittering at the feeders, the snowflakes, and the occasional days of sunshine.

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Happy winter solstice everyone!  I hope that this season is a peaceful and joyful one for you.  And let’s celebrate that we’re halfway out of the dark.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1140: Autumn Finery

We were blessed with a late fall that lingered with golden beauty until last Saturday, when a freeze and winds dropped 90% of the leaves overnight.  I’m still bitter about it.  I want to rewind and do October over.  And if we can’t do that, then it would be great if it could be April next week.  I’m not up to winter this year.  I miss my autumn leaves.  And I miss it being temperate enough weather to enjoy being outside among my trees and leaves.  Sigh.  So basically I find myself in between autumn withdrawal and winter dread.  Yesterday evening I tried to distract myself by looking at some pictures I took on an autumn hike a few weeks ago.  It was a beautiful day, full of sunshine, and pulsing leaves, and ripe berries, and ripples on the water, and fluffy clouds in the sky.  So instead of dwelling on the gloom of winter days ahead, I’ll share some pictures of that glorious afternoon.

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My mom and I went Eagle Creek, which is a lovely city park full of forests.  During the autumn, our favorite hike is a 2 mile trek around part of the lake.  I love this hike because it is full of dried seed pods and berries during fall and you can get some beautiful shots across the lake too.

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This is a long hike because literally every 1-2 feet I have to stop and take a picture of something else.  In the fall I also make it my personal mission to photograph every milkweed seed pod I can find.  (no, I won’t subject you to all of those pictures).

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The trail cuts through the lake on a thin land bridge, which is also popular as a fishing spot.  On the other side of the lake, the trail winds through marshy meadows where birds love to fly about and sing and then it meanders back into the woods.

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Here the forest was draped in autumn finery at its peak.  Fallen leaves carpeted the forest floor and rustled against our feet.   And leaves filled the canopy above in a resplendent display.  The sun filtered through the trees in breathtaking beauty – gold on gold.

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The afternoon finished as all good hikes do – with a bit of knitting.  I brought my Shawl Society project  – it’s called Planting Seeds and I’m working it in a variety of autumn hues.  Before leaving, the shawl posed with the foliage of the forest.

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The shawl is off the needles now and will be a tangible reminder that new life and a return to autumn will be coming again…. we just have to get through winter and then it will be time to plant seeds again.   In the meantime I will dream of autumn.

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Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

 

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Gift #1139: Thinning of the Veil

This past weekend my mother and I attended “Music of the Night” at the Gothic Chapel of the downtown cemetery.  It is a long tradition that now spans a full decade of attendance.  It’s hard to believe it’s been that many times that we have enjoyed the special evening.  It still is one of my very favorite events of the year.  It’s a highly anticipated ritual.  We love to get there early and drive around the cemetery taking pictures of the foliage and admiring the beautiful monuments.  The cemetery is old, with many graves dating to the 1800s.  Ornate carvings, weathered limestone, ancient gnarled trees fill the grounds and fill my soul with awe.  We queue up in front of the chapel well in advance of opening time to be one of the first in the doors and secure “our seats”.  We met some wonderful people from Cincinnati and traded tips on great places to visit.  Once everyone is seated, there are some brief announcements.  A member of the audience that night was honored for her years of service with the symphony and she played a key role in starting up the “Music of the Night” concerts!  And then, the announcer called my name and asked where I was.  She knew that it was our 10th time attending and the Crown Hill Heritage Foundation gave my mom and I CDs from the performers and gifted us with 2 complimentary tickets to next year.  I was stunned and overwhelmed by their kindness.

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Then the lights dimmed and magic descended.  The “Phantom” (aka Charles Manning) emerged from the shadowed wings and made his way to the organ where he wove a web of enchantment and Halloween wonder for us.  Two singers accompany the organist and they were in tip-top shape the night we attended. The songs are familiar by now, but always with a surprise twist or spontaneous moment.  Some of my favorites are Danse Macabre, Poisoning Pigeons in the Park, and Transformation (from Jekyll and Hyde).    And of course, they perform selections from Phantom of the Opera.  “Music of the Night” was especially beautiful and poignant.  After the concert, we have donuts and cider and then make our way outside for a night-time tour of the cemetery.  Our resident historian takes us to notable graves and has interesting antidotes from the lives of past residents to share with us.    We walk to the top of Crown Hill and have a beautiful view of downtown at night.  It is a magical evening.

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I love visiting old cemeteries – and this one has become particularly dear from traversing it so often.  The monuments are hauntingly beautiful and being there on the eve of Halloween reminded me of a phrase I had heard earlier called “the thinning of the veil”.  It refers to the belief that on All Hallow’s Eve, the separation between the worlds of the living and dead move closer together.  I found this intriguing because in the Christian tradition, the veil is a key symbol of death too.  The habit of covering death is long ingrained in human history.  We wrap the bodies of those who’ve departed with burial cloths and hide their faces.  The bereaved frequently wear veils over their faces to hide their grief.  Death, hiding, separation… all of it can be symbolized by the veil.  We cover the evidence of our own mortality while craving immortality.  As I wandered through graveyards, my heart clung to the words of the prophet of old, Isaiah.  He looked forward to the day when death would be defeated and we would not mourn the fracture of separation from the world, from those we love, from the God who loves us.  I’ll leave you this night of All Hallow’s Eve with this promise that the veil is indeed thinning.

And he will swallow up on this mountain
    the covering that is cast over all peoples,
    the veil that is spread over all nations.
     He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces

It will be said on that day,
    “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
    This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
    let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

Isiah 25:7, 8a, 9

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Happy Halloween and Blessings to you,

Sarah

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Gift #1138: Inspired by Nature Retreat

This October has flown by and it has been full of wonderful experiences which I’m hoping to share with you over the weeks ahead.  During the second weekend of the month, I was able to attend the Inspired by Nature Retreat with Heather Powers.  I attended last year and loved every moment of it and have been anxiously awaiting this year’s in the hopes that I could attend again.  They are very popular retreats and sell out quickly during the pre-sale.  But fortunately I secured a place and began dreaming of it constantly.  We get to prepare for the retreat by creating charms for a charm swap.  This is great because it helps channel some of my creative frenzy and excitement about the retreat into something tangible.  The theme of this year’s retreat was “Field Guide” and was inspired by Audubon’s bird illustrations and old field guides (a perfect theme for me).  I wanted to play off the theme by creating tiny journals.  I’ve never done anything quite like it before and it took some experimenting, but I showed up at the retreat with 24 miniature journals, with individually distressed pages, wrapped in a faux leather binding, and held closed by cord and a tiny feather.

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I’m really pleased with how they turned out.  And in return, we each receive 24 charms and a few freebies for the retreat.  These were all the goodies I received – and that’s just at the start of the retreat!  All these beautiful beads and charms are handmade and lovely!

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After that, we settled into our first class, which was saltwater etching.  I was mesmerized by this process – especially once we set up our copper plates in the salt water and started the current.  The water eventually turned orange and kept reminding me of a pumpkin drink!

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I etched one plate before dinner and did another when we got back.  The first plate was done with image transfer of old botanical illustrations.  The second plate was done with stamps that another member of the treat thoughtfully brought and allowed us all to use.  I love how the stamped images turned out as well.  This was probably my favorite class.

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After working up a good appetite with our first efforts, we went to downtown South Haven, MI for dinner at Taste.  I loved the trip to Taste last year and was excited to return.  Fun fact – we pretty much sat at the exact same tables for dinner too!  This restaurant specializes in small plates and I couldn’t wait to order another round of potato pancakes!  They are amazing!  And they’re served with fruit chutney.

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I also had some soup which was delicious.  And a couple of ladies ordered a 15-layer  chocolate cake and shared it with the table, which was very kind.  We went back to the lodge and enjoyed an evening of beading, working on our etching pieces, and chatting.  Did I mention that the same ladies I sat with last year saved me a spot this year, so I got to be with them again and I also met 2 new friends at my table.  My mom taught another attendee how to knit that evening too, which warmed my heart.

Day 2 started off with a rousing breakfast and then our second class – faux agate.  This was our polymer clay class, where we learned to make clay canes to look like fossilized agate, then made base beads and covered them with thin slices of the cane.  This took some practice, but here are the beads I made during class.

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I made pink and green cane and layered that over gray, cream, or burgundy base beads.  I made all the beads we’d need for our projects and a few extra.  Then I also sliced the ends off my cane where the design was distorted because I thought it looked like butterfly wings and they might be fun to incorporate into another project.   When I looked at all the other participant’s beads, I really liked the way some of them made light-colored cane.  So when I got home, I experimented with that.  Here’s a pic of a couple of pendants my mom and I made while practicing the technique further.

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The two lumpy beads in the previous photo above I made into an acorn shape to fit into some acorn caps I found while browsing outside.  They’re finished up and in this picture too.  The weather was great this year, so in the mornings and during class breaks, we’d frequently walk outside to admire the fall foliage and take pictures.  The retreat center is in a quiet forest and the cabins back up to a stream/pond which is lovely.  Here’s a collage of some of the pics from the back of my cabin.

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That afternoon we did a faux tin class.  I first took this class last year and really enjoyed it.  I made Christmas ornaments using the technique too.  This year, we would be cutting out more complex shapes and using John James Audubon’s bird images for jewelry components.  I could not wait for this!  The technique is proprietary so I can’t share process photos or instructions for that, but it is brilliant.  We worked on those till dinner and then enjoyed pizza, snacks, more beads (and knitting), laughter, and camaraderie.  I love being with other crafty individuals who share the desire (obsession?) for making things.  It’s infectious and creative and really inspiring to be a part of these special women’s lives for a few days.

Day 3 was when we put everything together so there was lots of cutting, filing, wrapping, turning wire, and bringing projects to life.  I love Heather’s sense of style and her way of combining elements.  These pieces were a joy to make.  I put together this set during the retreat.

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And I finished up this set once I got home.  It helps me to have some projects left over for home so that I can relive the experience and continue to be inspired by it.

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I just love the way everything comes together for these sets. Polymer clay, etched copper, and autumnal images blend beautifully with tiny beads and accents.  We made the steel links using “That’s a Jig” to help bend the wire into complex shapes.  We made several others which were used for the sample of the 3rd necklace ( I need to make) and for a charm holder that we could display some of our charms from the swap (also still need to make).

It was a splendid weekend and I loved every minute of it.  It was relaxing and inspiring to spend time in the forest making nature-themed components and creating jewelry from them.  It was special to spend time with my friends from last year and to meet new kindred spirits.  I’m glad we have Facebook to stay in touch with each other during the year.  Thank you Heather for a perfect weekend!  On the way home, my mom and I stopped by the beach and walked for a while, listening to waves on the sand, collecting shells and bits of flotsam, taking pictures, and enjoying the bliss of an autumn day.

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I’m still dreaming of it all.

Blessings to you,

Sarah

 

 

 

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