Happy Birthday, Buffalo Soldier!

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“None but ourselves can free our minds.” ~
Bob Marley

Bob Marley would have turned 67 this week.  He may be gone, but, his words and message still ring true.  Happy Birthday, Buffalo Soldier!

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Resilience

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“Resilience is rooted in a tenacity of spirit—a determination to embrace all that makes life worth living even in the face of overwhelming odds. When we have a clear sense of identity and purpose, we are more resilient, because we can hold fast to our vision of a better future.” ~ Author Unknown

I received a letter today from my oldest sister.  In this letter she reflects on how fortunate I was to inherit the gift of practicality and resilience from our late mother.  Our mother saw, in the first 25 years of her life, so much more than many of us have or will ever see in a lifetime.  She survived WWII leaving her homeland of Romania at the age of 18, never to return.  Bombings in Poland (where she fled a theater moments before a bomb wiped the building off the radar), raids in Austria, then moving throughout Europe until the war ended and she arrived safely in Trieste, Italy, with her younger sister in tow.  She fell in love with an American G.I.  They married and had a child (my oldest sister) in Italy.  The army sent my father home due to illness leaving my mother and sister alone in Trieste.  They joined him months later arriving by boat on Ellis Island in 1956.  I don’t know, but, it seems one might have no other choice than to become practical and resilient in times like those.

Being the youngest and most obnoxious child of the brood, I’m flattered and honored that I remind my sister so much of my mother.  I’m not sure if it was nature or nurture, but, somehow I do believe I took on my mother’s sense of practicality; but, more importantly her tolerance for life and people.  Resilient, I’m not so sure.

Fast forward to mid December….the last two weeks of 2011 brought brain cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer and ovarian cancer affecting members of our family and close friends.   I’m still standing and, believe or not, smiling some times.  Am I super(wo)man?  No, not really.  I’m muddling through and being the person my mother taught me to be.  Optimistic, hopeful and helpful whenever possible.  Perhaps it is because I learned very early in life to embrace the good, turn away from the bad and try not to let the ugly get in the way.  Still, I find myself, sometimes, struggling with my own resilience to the hurt and pain caused by the insensitivity and mean spirited-ness of some people.  Insensitive, intolerant and, well, just plain mean people still exist.   Nine and a half years ago I got the gift of my mother’s spirit back.   This little being came to us with the most amazing spirit of kindness, understanding of tolerance with a keen sense of resilience.  Where this perspective and resilience comes from I do not know.  What I do know is that I am blessed to have her near me, to remind me of what is most important and often offer perspective that goes way beyond her nine little years.

Do not think that we are only here to teach our children.  We are also here to listen and learn from them.  I wish you all peace, love, happiness, tolerance; but, most of all, resilience in this new year.  Be safe. Be well!

Happy Christmas

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“And so this is Christmas for weak and for strong,
The rich and the poor ones, the road is so long.
And so happy Christmas for black and for white
For yellow and red ones, let’s stop all the fights.
A very merry Christmas and a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one without any fear.”
~ John Lennon (RIP 10.9.40 – 12.8.80)

Go West (paradise is there)

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“If you’re going to San Francisco ~ be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.” ~ John Phillips

I believe it was 1970, the year I turned 7, and I had just purchased my very first album.  It was Crosby Still Nash & Young’s DejaVu.  Wouldn’t that be cool if it were true!  In reality, my first album was the The Partridge Family Album; however, DejaVu came shortly thereafter.  After spending many of my days trying to master the Tracy Partridge tambourine (while standing on the coffee table) I believe it was the 20th replay of “I Think I Love You” that sent my older brother over the edge.  He tossed the record and put on DejaVu.   I listened to Teach Your Children over and over because they said “hell” in the lyrics and it was the first time I could say that word without receiving a bar of soap in my mouth.

During the 70’s I was completely enchanted with the hippie culture.  I dreamed of moving to San Francisco to join the flower children and wear flowers in my hair.  I had left David Cassidy behind and fallen in love with Neil Young.  By the time I was 13 I had decided I would forego college, move West, find Neil and marry him.  By high school, I still was determined to go West and leave my boring, conservative upbringing far behind.  Still enthralled with the hippie culture, me and my high school friends tried as hard as we could to hang on to the coolness of the 60’s and 70’s.  We hung out on a hill we called Sugar Mountain, smoked pot (okay, I didn’t smoke; but, I wore pot leaf earrings and settled for the contact high) and listened to Neil.  All, of course, while wearing our Harvest t-shirts we silkscreened in shop.

Ah, the best laid plans.  Perhaps the 80’s got the best of me.  Big hair, bad clothes and a college degree made sure I didn’t move to California.  Not only did I NOT move West, I moved East and worked for big law firms.  The good news is that by the 90’s I had given up the big hair and my wardrobe improved dramatically.  I wore Ally McBeal skirts, made a bunch of money and landed a cool husband (probably thanks to the Ally McBeal skirts).  He wasn’t the rock star I had planned on, however, he proved early on that he could party like one (while still maintaining gainful employment) and assured a life far from boring and conservative.

They say you are born with a vision, a “birth vision” if you will.  So, as it turns out, I am living happily ever after in California.  Sugar Mountain is nearby.  Sometimes I wear flowers in my hair, especially when I am photographing flowers.  My daughter, Ally (named after……KIDDING!!) loves to wear hippie clothes and peace signs; and, sometimes I wave to Neil when he drives by.  I still don’t smoke pot, but, every once in awhile I stumble across an isolated plant or two in the mountains thanks to the old hippies who still lurk about.

It’s good to be home!

Peace in Silence

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Quote of the Day:  “Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.” ~ Max Ehrmann

When I was eight years old, my oldest sister would play her 45 LP records on our little portable record player.  I realize “45 LP” and “record player” mean nothing to anyone born after 1980; however, 45 LP’s were to my generation what iPods and iTunes are to this generation of teeny boppers.

There was one record I adored.  It was mostly a man reciting words to a poem; but, then angelic voices would sing the chorus.  I loved to sing the chorus over and over.  It went like this, “You are a child of the universe; no less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here.  And whether or not, it is clear to you; no doubt the universe is unfolding as a should.”

As an eight year old, I had no idea that this was not just a popular song recorded by Les Crane in the 70’s.  It was a poem written in 1927 by Max Ehrmann.  It is a poem that has come back to me a various stages of my life and always holds great meaning.  I have carried the same copy of this poem with me from Ohio, to Washington, D.C and, here, to California.  Last year, when my daughter was eight, she found the copy of the poem in my desk.  I read it to her.  She liked it very much, so, I shared how I would listen to this song over and over when I was her age.  She googled it and found the song on YouTube.  She loved it and asked if I would put it on her iPod.   I can sometimes hear her singing, “you are a child of the universe.”   Children follow by example, so, teach your children well.  Oh, that’s a song for another day :).  Here is the poem.

DESIDERATA

— by Max Ehrmann–

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

A Few of My Favorite Things

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“Red colored ponies with blue satin sashes; snowflakes that stay in Tahoe on their nose and eye lashes;  sunny warm winters that melt into spring; these are a few of my favorite things!”   Original lyrics by Julie Andrews.  Edits by me.

This is my new favorite plant.  It’s called an air plant; no soil required!  It derives it’s nutrients from the air and rain water (or in my case, a little drink from the faucet a few times a week).  This is my kind of gardening!  The blessing of the green thumb bestowed upon my family turned brown after the goddess of horticulture was born.  So, in order to maintain good standing with the family tradition; I’ve learned to photograph the lovely gardens and blooms.

As much as I love posting photos of lovely flowers, my post wouldn’t be complete without a photo of my true favorite thing hugging her favorite red pony.

As we head to Brookside this week for another horse show, I sense some changes on the horizon for our little girl and her beloved pony.  The lessons in love, pain, accomplishment, defeat, poise and grace that this pony has taught our child have been priceless.  Watching these two beautiful creatures move together on this journey to the unknown has and will continue to be one of the greatest joys in my life.  ✌

Flower Power✌

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Quote of the Day:  “Open up for the Power of the Flower.” ~ Praga Khan

I have spent the last five days with the “flower children”.  This is how I refer to my friends and artists who thrive, in some capacity, in the world of horticulture.  Some are publishers of fine garden and horticulture magazines, some are garden designers, garden writers and garden photographers.  Their common denominator, they are all true gardeners.

The sun was shining on me a year ago when my favorite flower child, Patty Craft, Managing Editor and Publisher of Horticulture Magazine (also, my sister), invited me to join her at San Francisco Flower and Garden Show media pre-view event.  While I was not asked to “officially” shoot ” for her magazine, they ended up using some of my photos for their article on the show.   It was the blossoming of a new and lovely relationship.

Also on that day, I met my second favorite flower child, Rebecca Sweet.  Rebecca, is a landscape designer, author, freelance writer, garden blogger; and, unbeknownst to her, the complete force behind my leap into the blogging world.  Several months after our meeting, Rebecca invited me to a luncheon at her home with renowned garden photographer, Saxon Holt.  Sitting in Rebecca’s garden with these two revered artists, I gained a wealth of information and inspiration.  It was after that meeting that I turned the corner with Woodside Images .  From these two masters, I learned that I needed to create a unique niche for my style of photography, promote myself shamelessly; and, most importantly, start blogging about it.

Patty and Rebecca at Gamble Gardens in Palo Alto, CA.

I am a Gemini and my personality is true to its sign.  Gemini world is one of duality.  This can also possibly explain and help describe my style of photography; or, if you will, the unique niche I’ve created.  Some days it’s all about horses and other days it’s a walk in the garden.   It’s been whispered, that in order for me to be successful as an artist, it would be wise to choose between the two.  Flowers and horses have been good to me for a very long time.  Both are an inspiration to my art and to my soul.  In staying true to myself as an artist and a Gemini, I choose both!  Enjoy!