Saturday, April 14, 2012


It's done!

In life drawing, we were given two final assignments.  The first was to create a negative space of a person, detailing the background.  He said to fill it with something that told a little about ourselves.

I really like henna, so that's where I started.  I figured if I was going to focus on a women's art style from India, I should see if there was a goddess that I identified with.  And I came across Durga, a warrior goddess who embodies feminine strength, energy and creative focus.  Sounded -perfect- for this assignment!

So I started researching her.  Originally, I was just going to fill the background with henna designs, but a chance comment from my instructor when he saw my research led me to decide to fill the background with hands-- in part because Durga is a multi-hand goddess, and in part because henna belongs on hands.

I started with her mounts:

She primarily rides a lion or tiger , but she is also known to ride a ox or bull in her incarnation as Shailputri.  Beneath the feat of her mount is her Durga Yantra:  a triangular symbol that represents the union of wisdom and compassion, meant to bestow good luck, health, and victory over enemies.

In one hand, she holds a lotus, symbolizing the certainty of success, but not the finality of it.  It also represents continuous spiritual evolution in a world of greed and lust.

In another hand, she holds the "Sudarshan-Chakra", the beautiful discus, representing cosmic harmony and that the entire world is subject to her will and command.  She uses it to destroy evil and create an environment that promotes righteousness.

In another hand, she holds a sword (That's what's vanishing behind her bottom knee.) and symbolizes knowledge.  In another hand, she holds a spear, that was used to slay the demon Mahisha.  In another hand, she holds a noose (that's on the far left at the end of her foot), that was used to capture Mahisha in his demon-buffalo form.

In another hand, she holds the conch shell, symbolizing 'pranava' or the mystic word 'Om', which is symbolic of the sound of the Supreme Brahman and used to declare battle.  In another hand, she holds the Vajra, Lord Indra's thunderbolt, that symbolizes strength and focus.

Durga is often said to have a golden countenance and is often called the three eyed Goddess.  On the three hands that surround her face, I've drawn what each eye represents.

Her right eye represents action, in the shape of the sun.  Her left eye represents desire, in the shape of the moon.  And the central eye represents knowledge in the form of fire.  On the same hand that holds the moon, there is also her bow and arrow, that symbolize her control over both potential and kinetic energy.

And the negative shape is a Durga dancer representing Durga with her trident, which has 3 symbols-- inactivity, activity and non-activity and represent Durga as the remover of all 3 miseries;; physical, mental and spiritual.  As my friend Zhara said when she saw it, "She is all things and nothing when she dances."

All in all, I'm -very- pleased with the finished piece.  This will definitely be getting framed and put up in the house (:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Overlapping Memories

Trish Herr's then five year old daughter Alex wanted to hike all 48 of New Hampshire's 4,000+ foot mountains. Would you let your five year old do the same? Join From Left to Write on April 12 as we discuss Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure. As a member of From Left to Write, I received a copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

When I read this book, the moment that struck me most was after she and Alex encountered a young moose and their conversation about parents leaving their children.  Alex asks if her Mom will ever leave her, and Patricia promises her daughter that she never will.

In that moment, I had four very clear memories that practically overlapped themselves.  So I'll share them in the order they occurred, sans all the overlap (;

Memory #1 began with the thought that when I was around Alex's age, I don't recall -ever- asking my mother not to leave me.  Because my Mom was in the ARMY-- and leaving was pretty routine.  It was the coming back that always mattered.  Then I thought of the time that I was between 6 and 7 and my mother was in Korea.  My sister and I were staying with my grandparents in Connecticut.  And every week, my mother sent letters or packages home.  I clearly remember her sending us blankets, books, letters and tapes.  The tapes were her voice reading the letters and books to us.  Every night, we would listen to it.  And every night, I could safely go to sleep, the sound of my mother's voice in my ears.

Which led me to Memory #2, with my own little boys.  Neither of them have ever asked me not to leave them either.  But both of them, when they were between 3 and 5, without the other present and while snuggling at night, have promised never to leave me.  My oldest, when he was 5 told me that when he grew up, he would marry me.  I told him that I was already married to his Daddy and it would make his Daddy sad to lose his job being my husband.  So my son told me that he'd marry Grandmother, because she needed someone to take care of her.  I hugged my sweet little boy and let him know that I loved him very much and said that maybe we should take care of her now because she'd also been married and she'd be happier if he married someone closer to his own age when he grew up.  

My youngest told me that when he grew up, he was going to live with me.  I told him that when he grew up, he'd probably want to move out and start his own life, but that he would always be welcome to come and visit.  So then he told me that he would live in Ireland and visit me every night for dinner.

Which reminded me of Memory #3.  When my boys were little, and I'm talking 2 and 3 here, they were allowed to ride their tricycles through the house.  They would hop on and announce they were off to a grand adventure-- to Africa to see zebras, or to India to ride an elephant, or to England to see London Bridge fall down, sometimes, even to visit outer space.  And always, I would say to them, "Be good.  Have fun.  Take lots of pictures.  Send me a postcard.  Call often.  And remember that I love you!"  And off they would go.

Then they would come back all of 5 to 10 minutes later and announce that they were back from their trip.  And I would ask, "Were you good?"  "Yup!"  "Did you have fun?"  "Yup!"  "Did you take lots of pictures?"  "Yup!"  (and usually, this is where they'd been for the last 5-10 minutes-- drawing pictures of their adventure to show me.)  "The post card you sent was lovely!"  Now sometimes, they'd have their little toy phone in tow and we would have phone conversations and I would ask them about their adventure.  What they saw.  What they did.  What new foods they got to try.  And then they'd be off on their next adventure and a whole new round of pictures to tell me about it.

Intruding on these thoughts came Memory #4 and I'm 11 going on 12.  It's the closest to the original series of questions I've ever been.  My Mom and Dad have just gotten married this summer and he's moved in with us on base in Germany.  And out of the blue, my parents ask my sister and I if we want to move off base into a German apartment.

As one, my sister and I look at each other, our faces fall -- and we start bawling.  My baffled parents exchanged a look and my mother asks what's wrong.  Through my sobs, I answer her, "But!.... We're too -YOUNG- to live all by ourselves!!"

We thought our parents were asking us to move out.  In our minds, we were worried that because they now had each other-- they didn't want us any more.

After my parents laughed, they gathered us up, dried our tears and explained that wasn't what they meant at all-- that they were asking us if we wanted to move off base -with- them, all together as a family.

As clear as this part of the memory is-- for the life of me, I couldn't tell you what my sister and I thought regarding the actual offer.  I presume it must have been negative, because we did not, in fact, leave base until we were stationed back in the states.

And all of these thoughts danced across my mind, overlapping, in the span of seconds.  After laughing at how different my and my children's responses were to the same basic idea, I felt even more connection to Patricia Herr's "Up" and continued reading on.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Eggs

I thought I had unused Easter egg dye drops in storage.  But they weren't there.  So I headed to Wal-Mart last night, on a search for egg dye-- and believe it or not, the day before Easter, they were completely out (surprised, right?)

Fortunately, a couple of weeks ago on Pinterest, I'd seen a picture of someone coloring on their eggs with markers.

I have -plenty- of those!

So for the first time ever, my boys and I colored our Easter Eggs with markers.  My only question now is, "Now why didn't we think of doing that before?!?"

My boys and I have a tradition of doing our eggs on Easter morning.  And by Easter afternoon, they're wonderful deviled eggs or waiting to be turned into egg salad.  I like that.  Usually, they do as well, but for the first time ever, they wanted to -keep- the eggs they decorated.

Here's my oldest working on one of his:

And his other eggs:

Here are my 6 year old's:

And here are mine:

We all had a good time making them and there was none of the worry of spilled vinegar (:  

From me and mine to you and yours, wishing you a "Happy Easter!"