Sunday, August 29, 2010


‘Tis time to harvest the bounties of summer. Several years ago, Verlin was really into making home made wines. Then suddenly one day, his son (Chris) became interested in exploring the art of wine making. So, Verlin introduced his son to the process and away the two of them went, buying grapes, fruits of different types, kits, and on…. They were quite successful, most of the time, at making really good wine and sometimes making really big not so good really smelly stuff.

Then about 5 years ago, Verlin gave his son 2 scrawny little grape vines as a gift. They planted them with special care and lots of manure. These little plants have had special care and love and now produce a lot of really good concord grapes. This year however, these silly little plants went crazy and their bounty is enormous. Chris sent a text to his dad the other day saying the grapes were ready. So yesterday, we decided to go and get some grapes.

The problem is we really do not need more wine at the moment as the stores in our basement are still abundant. Chris said he was just going to can the juice. Great idea!

Only problem is we do not have canning equipment -- plenty of wine making equipment but no canning equipment. We decide to take a detour to Lehman Hardware in Kidron, OH on our way to Wooster, OH to pick grapes.

Lehman Hardware is one of those old fashioned hardware stores with EVERYTHING one could possibly think of needing and then some. We successfully purchased the juicer equipment and off we went to pick our fill of grapes.

Chris had already picked a 5 gallon bucket full by the time we arrived. We pick 6 gallons of grapes and this by the way does not even make a noticeable dent in the bounty. We get a quick lesson from Chris on how to use the equipment we purchased, go home remove all the grapes from the stems and begin the hour long cooking process to pasteurize the fruit; it is now 9:30pm, we decide to refrigerate the two large soup pans filled with hot grape mess overnight.

Then today, I finished the juicing process, it took me about 4 hours to complete. When I finished, I decided to sample the finished product and to my surprise the juice is exceptionally sweet without the addition of sugar!

Still I am surprised at the wonderful nectors nature provides without all the additives, our wonderful Concord grape juice is one of these reminders. This really dark purple, ever so sweet gift I placed in ice cube trays and is now in the freezer waiting to bless our breakfast table or snack time. I feel well pleased with the effort, and am looking forward to consuming our treasure.

Yes, it would have been way less work to just buy the juice at the grocery, but, we would not have had the bonding relationship experiences we shared together and with our
children. Nor do I believe the grapes would have tasted as sweet.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Return – the same or not?

I've arrived home after attending a Zentangle Master Class in Newport, RI more or less safe, sound, and in one piece. I am always somewhat disoriented for a day or two after attending such an event as this; not sure if it is the sheer amount of creative immersion or my age, but it seems to take a bit of a physical toll requiring extra recovery time these days. Another part of my recovery process is focused on the emotional overwhelm I felt when faced with just stepping out and with permanent ink, make a mark regardless of what the mark is on the best & largest paper format I have ever dared to work on and take the chance it will be ok. As it turns out, it was way more than ok – it was amazing!

The class took place in Newport, RI squished between the Newport Folk Festival and the Jazz Fest, August 3-5, 2010. The location was the International Yacht Restoration School, the students were out on break and the facility opened its doors to our group, allowing us a great downtown venue in which to focus on scale and detail. No A/C, but great views.

I’m not sure if any of my counterparts experienced the same emotional processing I encountered when faced with the assignment to create with permanent ink on such large & most elegant formats as presented by our hosts Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts? Having attended the CZT training twice, I understood intellectually the lesson taught to us regarding the use of the best products available on which to create our art. However, the true meaning of this statement did not really registered until I was faced with our assignment.

I still feel a bit of a quiver inside when I think about the first day of the conference, there on the tables at each of our seats lay a piece of Fabriano Tiepolo print making paper – you know the stuff the zentangle tiles are made of – only the size of the paper is 13”x22”!! This is what will be our illuminated letter project. I think it must have taken me close to ½ hour to finally decide what letter I wanted to put on my piece and then a bit longer to finally get up the nerve to go and place the letter on the “tile”. I tried to console myself to think of this precious piece of paper as just another zentangle tile (you know – a 3½” square) .

Then if that wasn’t scary enough, the next day they presented us with a piece of handmade paper – the stuff the full zentangle kit box is covered with – and it is 20”x 30” in size, YIKES!! When I finally made the first mark, I really did not like what it was, so I turned the piece over and started again, only to still not like it! So, I decided to walk away from that piece for a while. I went and pulled out my massage chair an began giving people upper body massages – I needed to get grounded, back to my comfort zone (they all thought I was being nice to them :). After a couple of hours, I returned to the piece… still did not like it and even now, I still have not finished it. I took it out yesterday and looked at it again and am feeling I may be able to make it alright eventually but just not yet. Then there is this other saying these zentangle folks have … ‘anything is possible one stroke at a time’ – well, it almost felt like a stroke! (HahHah)

I guess the reality of not being able to do something the first time very well, and have it be the very best the first time is an issue that needs some alone journal time. However, I’m not good with this particular muse and it may take a while before I have the nerve to sit and visit with her on this topic. I think the hard part of the visit just happened though…, I acknowledged that I will need to spend time on this topic with her…

All in all, I have returned. I look in the mirror and I look the same to me however, everyone I have come in contact with this last week has commented on my hair. Usually this means something is different about me but they just can’t put their finger on what it is, so… I’ve returned but, obviously not the same.