Round 7 Mandala Madness complete and Tai Chi

Phew,  Round 7 was a difficult section for me. I had to take out row 49 because somehow I forgot the half-double crochets in between the double crochets. Once I got that right, came the decision on whether to remain with the same color or change. I decided blue but then realized that the last time the pattern called for bobbles I had used blue. Dang, so I made another color change again. Candy apple red or so the yarn claims.  I’ve used 2 shades of green, 2 shades of red,  2 shades of blue, 2 shades of yellow,  1 pink, orange, black and white thus far. I still have 2 shades of purple, 2 shades of brown and one more shade of blue to add into my mandala.

I have just completed Round 52 and it is now 48 inches across. Our table is 60 inches around, I’m excited to see it reach the edge of the table. I can’t say I’m fond of the white at this point but it is part of my journey.

This past weekend we attended International Tai Chi Day with our dear friend and instructor Marcus Carbos at the Norcom Center in Philadelphia.

Tai chi does not mean oriental wisdom or something exotic. It is the wisdom of your own senses, your own mind and body together as one process. ~Chungliang Al Huang

Of all the exercises I’ve tried thus far, I think that T’ai Chi is the best. Our instructor swears it can ward off disease, banish worry and tension, bring improved physical health and prolong life. It is a good hobby to begin at any point in life because it is suitable for everyone – the weak, the sick, the aged, children, the disabled and blind. It is also an economical exercise. As long as one has three square feet of space, one can take a trip to paradise and stay there to enjoy life for thirty minutes without spending a single cent. So far, I’ve lost weight and improved my balance. ❤
“Tai chi is the one exercise that can universally help solve our growing health crisis. It has stood the test of thousands of years. We have a generation of baby boomers with increasing health problems; old people who are sick, in pain, fearful, and cranky; a middle class that is increasingly incapable of affording most of the drugs that are prescribed for their ailments; children that are flaccid, diabetic and asthmatic. People of all ages are addicted to drugs, alcohol, sugar, cigarettes, and caffeine. Stress follows almost everyone like a shadow. “~Bruce Frantzis

Life comes with way too much stress like you I am looking for ways to reduce its impact without giving up my precious coffee.

Thursday night, Vic and I will be in Philly hearing Hal Holbrook doing Mark Twain Live. Holbrook’s been doing the show since it debuted in 1954 at the then-Lock Haven State Teachers College in north-central Pennsylvania. In 1966, he took the show to Broadway, where it won him a Tony; the TV version the next year won him his first of five Emmys.

For more than 62 years straight, more than 2,200 performances, Holbrook, now 92, has taken Twain on the road. Twain himself lived to be 74. Holbrook changes the show “all the time, suiting it to the moment, the time, the place, what just happened. Holbrook estimates he has worked up more than 15 hours of Twain material, an astonishing feat of memory. “When I come to Philadelphia,” he says, “I want to avoid stuff that I did before, and to make sure that I include material that seems to be talking about what’s happening today.”

I can’t help but wonder what Twain would think of our country today.


Let’s have coffee together


Good Morning, Good Afternoon, Good Evening… I think I have everyone covered.

I’m on Round 7 of the Mandala Madness. Phew. Round 6 had some interesting quirks that hopefully, I won’t be repeating the same errors. No worries, it’s not with the pattern at all. It was totally my yarn choices. I chose my light turquoise yarn to do the shells in Round 39 which was a huge mistake because in Round 41 you are using the back loop of Round 39.  You’re probably thinking so… well the turquoise wasn’t a Caron or a Redheart yarn which hold up very well with more complicated stitches. The turquoise was a Bernina product and it was very disappointing in this case. It kept splitting apart and stretching which means I had to work slower and pick up a lower stitch behind it to help reinforce the back stitch.  😦

I decided after this frustrating round I would read ahead instead of simply following the video. Esther is great but I need to plan so I am not stressed with my work. It defeats the whole meditation process if you’re frustrated.

The designer’s website provided me with all the tools I needed to plan ahead. Wow, it’s not a lap size blanket as I originally thought to glance at the videos. It’s 7 feet, okay I’m working on a queen size bed project. I can do this.  It’s 111 rounds. I can do that too.

Then I got thinking how to best maximize my color usage. I decided on 18 colors that would give me the vibrancy I am looking for in the finished product. These colors are very prominent in nature and in my home. That’s even better. Eighteen colors means I will be repeating the colors 6 times if I want to have a color balance throughout the project. I can do this.

Since we last discussed colors introduced I added white to my mandala because I wanted innocence to be among my meditative journey. As I completed the white round and was moving on to the next round I remembered how quickly as a child I lost that innocence in my life. I was only nine when my father decided to steal my childhood from me.

 I saw her nine-year-old trusting eyes

trying to cope with her father’s lies.

Her cheeks streaked with silent tears

whenever he tossed back a few beers.

She felt the guilt inside her swell

her young body revolted with the smell.

Needless to say, my color change became abrupt in the next round from white to black. Just like in my life, innocence shattered so did the colors in my mandala.  Unfortunately, so did my peaceful crocheting experience.

I wrote in my journal and wrote 2 poems discussing the abuse I faced as a child. Overall, it became a productive writing day and helped me get back on track for my next color choice which is gold.

I chose gold because I know how important it is to strive every day to be your best. It’s often said that change is the only constant in life. Yet humans are evolutionarily predisposed to resist change because of the risk associated with it. I feel change is essential to our existence, granted there will be the moment of relapse as I had yesterday but it’s important to recognize that you can’t linger in the painful memory you must move on.

When you’re finished changing, you’re finished. -Benjamin Franklin

I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better. -Georg C. Lichtenberg

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. -Maya Angelou

Be the change that you wish to see in the world. -Mahatma Gandhi

Thank you for joining me on this journey.  Crochet on… Write on


Mandala Madness Day 9

In both eastern and western cultures, the mandala has come to symbolize harmony, unity, wholeness, and healing. When I consider the mandala’s ancient roots and its use in indigenous practices around the globe, I understand why it’s such a part of our planetary culture.

In part 5 of this project, I introduced blue which promotes peace and emotional health. I was inspired by my lovely blue hyacinths. I added green because of the new green leaves on the maple tree. Green promotes love and respect for nature.  I introduced pink a milder influence of energy than its counterpart red. I returned to orange and it’s creativity and red for its high energy.

It’s raining here in New Jersey again, so I curled up in my recliner with the mandala across my lap and played some Willie Nelson and Ronnie Dunn on the stereo. Before I knew it part 5 was completed. It was a lovely peaceful afternoon for me crocheting.

I am very pleased with how the red and orange worked together in the half moons.

There was only one minor glitch this time and it was with the shells in row 40, I had the first two repeats completed when a message box appeared on the video. The instructor had asked us to do double crochets when in fact she meant for us to do treble crochets. Phew, good thing I hadn’t gone any further than that.

Macavity as soon as I laid it on the table immediately tested the comfort level out. I am happy to say it has his paw approval. 🙂

Tomorrow, I must focus on getting several of my poems ready for the contest deadline so I am going to have to let my mandala rest. 😦

Mandala Journey

I’m on day 8 of this Mandala spiritual awareness journey. I have just completed Round 34. Phew, those popcorns were frustrating. I had to take this apart 3 times to get it to work. At the beginning of my third attempt, I paused the video and counted the popcorns in the picture. That is where I discovered the popcorns were in clusters of 13 not 12, then 2 half double crochets, 5 single crochets on each side. Once I did it that way everything came together. Thank goodness for the picture. 🙂

Since we last discussed colors I’ve added black, pink, bright spring green and royal blue.  I chose black to invite mystery into my spiritual arena because things in my world were feeling very mundane.  I was looking at my pink hyacinths in the front flower bed and the new green leaves on the trees so I added those to my Mandala. I noticed how dark my buds were on my other hyacinths so I decided to add royal blue.  I decided to measure my progress at this point and on Round 34 it is 36 inches.

This is when I introduced the black, it really added a pop to the sunbursts.



Round 34

This is where I added the pink, spring green and blue.DSC_0025

I’m looking forward to Part 5 with the interesting half moons and shell shapes. I’m thinking I am going to do the red again though I am not a huge fan of red just to keep the colors balanced in my Mandala.

Thank you for following me. I was so excited to see I’ve reached 101 followers.  Godspeed!

It’s All in a Nutshell Crochet Mandala Madness




I saw a picture on Marilyn Armstong’s WordPress that I really liked in black and white. Typically, people do not favor landscapes in black and white but I am one of the oddities. I genuinely love black and white photography. I decided to blog today on another passion of mine that gives me creative license to be different.

  • “In photography, there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.”
    Alfred Stieglitz


This is a picture I took of a seagull when we were visiting  Cape May, New Jersey. It has only been cropped and watermarked in the above picture. I love watching them swoop in the breeze over the ocean.

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This is the same picture with it sharpened and brightened.

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This is the same picture in black and white without any sharpening or added filtering.

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This is the final image with denim filtering over the black and white picture. This is my favorite take on the picture because of the way the filter allows the black and white to maintain intensity while adding just a minute coloring to the sky in the backdrop.Photo

Photography to me is like creating a poem. One poet may choose one word and another a different word leaving everything else the same but the poem will have a different feel to the reader.

  • “There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.”
    Ansel Adams
  • “When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”— Ansel Adams
  • “You don’t take a photograph. You ask quietly to borrow it.”
  • “To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting an ordinary place… I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
    Elliott Erwitt
  • “When I photograph, what I’m really doing is seeking answers to things.”
    Wynn Bullock

I know for me when my muse is being resistant I grab my camera and open my mind to different surroundings and when I look at them through the focus of a lens my muse engages.

Thank you Marilyn for the inspiration. I hope you check out her landscapes and let me know which you love best.


Butterfly Memories

I was reading Theresa Barker’s blog today and was reminded of an experience from 2013 with my husband Vic in Niagara Falls, Canada. I had my camera with me and took tons of pictures but I soon found myself immersed in the sheer joy of the experience. There was the sound of water trickling from the waterfalls I found very relaxing. The butterflies fluttered around us made me wonder who was really the observer. These are a few pictures from the Butterfly Conservatory. I was impressed with how many different varieties and how social they are with each other and with us.

If you’re interested in more check out Theresa’s poem and information about butterflies.




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Passions Beyond Writing 2



I made a LeMoyne Star pattern in the center and then added the rose appliques on top to make this centerpiece for my table. I machine quilted the top and appliqued the flowers by machine. The project took about 5 hours from start to finish. To me, there is something inviting about having a centerpiece on a table don’t you agree. However, in our home, it seems to encourage morning and evening interest.

It’s been a pattern all of this week for W.B. Yeats to take his morning snooze there.


He’s our almost 13-year-old tabby.

In the evenings we have our 2-year-old blush tabby Macavity taking his siesta.


Itis good to know my artistic endeavors are appreciated.

Photography and Writing


 dsc_0195Artists think outside the box either by choice or habit.These thoughts determine our actions. Showing up to our chosen canvas sometimes takes a lot of energy. The negative baggage we bury ourselves under like “I really have no particular talent”  sabotages us. I’m sure there are good solutions out there, but for me, I strongly feel that my job is to mind my thoughts and to use my strengths to improve my creativity.  I make myself lists of all the ways I can be inspired and then another list how I can inspire others. I never limit myself to one creative outlet.

One consistent thing that shows up in my lists is photographs, a captured image frozen in a narrow focus. Over the years, when I’ve found myself stuck writing, I grab my camera and just look at things all around me through that closed view. The details in that small glimpse are incredible because I frequently miss them with my eyes.

The pictures I chose today are great examples of looking at a picture differently. The seagull over the vast ocean is what I saw without my lens. Once, I looked at the seagull through the lens I saw his wings and how effortlessly he parted the wind to turn. His gliding motion when he wanted to use the wind to lessen his workload. I studied him until he flew out of my lens range and I moved onto the next one.dsc_0197dsc_0196

I filled my notebook with everything I saw. I  discovered the seagull’s world not just in a picture, but later in poetry as I considered all the things the bird enjoyed and I needed which in turn inspired this.

My Deserted Island Has
Turquoise water swirling, seagulls hovering,
with shallow waves breaking along the reef,
crystal blue streams, and mossy banks in the shade.
A chilly deep pool sparkling with the sun’s glimmering rays,
surrounded by luscious trees with sweeping branches,
that beckon me to climb over a sandy beach.
Wow,  so many seashells scattered on
the glimmering sand. It’s a shell collectors dream,
a painter’s haven hidden from the masses.
Wildflowers strewed randomly along the hillside, bursts of
purple and pink with a bit of orange amidst green grass.
Oh my,  curious creatures peeking from the
rocks, and cliffs that shape the steep top of a mountain edge
where a large bird’s nest looms in a treetop.
I stared at the sail of yacht passing by,
Yes, I think one more day before I signal, I am here.
Maybe two days… I  am content in the peace
I found here on my lovely deserted island.