Nov 22 2012

There I was. Minding my own business. Clicking through BlogHer, enjoying myself while reading and writing Comments.

And it happened. I started taking one of Jane Collins’ surveys, nothing extensive, mind you. Just a few questions on what I’d be doing the day after Thanksgiving Day. I answered without a second thought. I might check out a few Black Friday sales, but mostly, hating crowds and traffic, I’d be sitting at home eating leftover turkey. I selected my answers and voted.

The bar graph came up and whoa! Most people were planning on watching series TV shows and being couch potatoes. Oh well. Tut. Tut. I thought. Couch potatoes! Cheeze. Can you imagine! Ha-Ha. Watching series TV.

But then, that got me thinking. I remembered that Portlandia clip on YouTube showing Carrie and Fred Watching Battle Star Galactica, for DAYS.

Just one more. We’ll just watch ONE more.

That got me started. I just HAD to find the clip to add to my Comment, in case BlogHers visiting Jane’s post hadn’t seen it. In the process, I started looking at Portlandia videos. Seen them all, but had to, just had to revisit and watch. That did it. Having laughed at the TV serial watching couch potato just before, now I was not only in the mood, but obsessed on finding a serial show to watch.

I like spiritual movies that make me think differently.

Now it is 10:30 at night, and I just finished watching the movie, The Secret,AFTER watching two Battle Star Galacticas, movie on Alexandria, the newTreasure Island with Eddie Izzard as Long John Silver and to round off the spiritual rough edges, 3 Magic Words. These are all streamable on NetFlix and I had a blast. So, I have to admit, I didn’t wait for the day after Thanksgiving to begin couch potato activity.

I started two days early. Woo-Woo! It’s fun being me.

Filed under: Beauty,The Arts — admin @ 10:29 pm Comments (0)
Nov 21 2012

Oh, it always sounds so simple: a month’s worth of posts in thirty days and thirty nights.

Following the adage of easier said than done, however, the less time I have to finish something, the harder it is to do, which is a problem.

What’s the problem? Well, when I finally get time to myself to sit down and enjoy my writing for BlogHer, it’s when I’m really tired and would rather be slipping in between the covers, than into a desk chair to work the keyboard. But, work it I must, If I want to display that little success square “I Did It! NaBloPoMo 2012” on my web site.

Every night, I have to give myself the pep talk. The “outta’ the locker room and on to the field” mental boost to keep me going, just one more night. I treat myself to some drama as I imagine I’m Gloria, played by Jane Fonda in that movie that came out when I was a senior in high school, “They Shoot Horses, Don’t they?”The film was about The Depression, the futility of life and how, sometimes it goes on past one’s level of endurance.

One of the famous movie scenes from 
“They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?”
by Director Sydney Pollack.

How I enjoy feeling sorry for myself. Whining as I sit here, moping around, wishing I had started earlier. I torture myself by looking at the bed. It is so close. So warm. Electric blanket turned on and up to level two. I pour salt into the wound of reality as I know I could quit NaBloPoMo at any time, finally descending into an eternal eight hour sleep, but also sliding down into the land of the wannabes. Somehow, I hang on my partner and start dancing, shuffling my feet over the dance floor and fingers on the keys. Whine. Whine. Whine.

Then, when my blogging thoughts, whatever they are, are finally posted, I feel such relief. I switch from Gloria staring at the water, to a self made Jane Fonda on the red carpet, dressed in Dior. Oh, what agony and what reward I take myself through every night. And, tonight, unusual for someone who loves to talk, I couldn’t think of what to say. On top of being Gloria, staring at the water, I was afraid I’d never reach the red carpet for my preening session.

So, take five.

Imagine my delight when I was making Comments tonight, getting ready to agonize myself into an undirected NaBloPoMo post and fortuitously came upon the ad for the “BlogHer ’12 Voices of the Year” e-book. What!?!? It’s out?

Well, I thought, I can’t start agonizing, yet. I have to Amazon the e-book to Kindle!

And then, I had to start reading it, because Voices of the Year at BlogHer ’12 was a phenomenal experience, just as Dawn from AlphabetSalad says it was. Being a little jaded that I’ve “seen it all,” I had no way to know how impressed I would be by the Voices when I first attended BlogHer ’12. Each reading was profoundly memorable. I had underestimated the impact and was, at times, moved to tears and then, unstoppable laughter.

So all I can say is, the Voices ’12 e-book is out! It’s available and you’re going to want to download it to your electronic device, read it and call it your own. Run, do not walk your fingers to click on the hot link above, because your BlogHer sisters, and some brothers, have volumes to share. No, make that Voices to share and an e-book, not a volume.

And, BTW, I’m “on the red carpet,” with my post done for tonight.  🙂

Filed under: Beauty,Literature — admin @ 10:04 pm Comments (0)
Nov 14 2012

When I was a child in 1950s, DisneyLand was a continent away in California and Florida’s DisneyWorld wouldn’t be built until the early 1970s.

We were unconcerned, however, because in Maryland, we had Sugarloaf Mountain, a magic kingdom in and of itself. The mere mention, when I was a child, was an elixir for happiness and untold adventure

Sugarloaf is on the left.

Sugarloaf Mountain is located almost halfway between Washington, D.C. and Frederick, Maryland. As we call it, Sugarloaf is rounded and old, not sharp like those young upstart mountains in the American west, the Rockies.

Looking east toward where the first photo was shot

Sugarloaf Mountain was a favorite spot for picnics and family outings, my Brownie and Girl Scout meetings and later, in college, a great place to go when spring fever hit.

The blue haze is Virginia across the Potomas River.

If unfamiliar with the State of Maryland, one might not know that Maryland has mountain ranges, as stated in, “Mountain Getaways in Maryland,” which offers:
Not often thought of as a mountainous state, Maryland has more than 60 mountain ranges and hills in its western end where it borders West Virginia and Pennsylvania. This area is steeped in history; the first battle between the Union and the Confederacy took place on Sugarloaf Mountain in September, 1862, according to Maryland State Archives.

Read more: Mountain Getaways in Maryland |

Not often thought of as a mountainous state, Maryland has more than 60 mountain ranges and hills in its western end where it borders West Virginia and Pennsylvania. This area is steeped in history; the first battle between the Union and the Confederacy took place on Sugarloaf Mountain in September, 1862, according to Maryland State Archives.

Read more: Mountain Getaways in Maryland |

Not often thought of as a mountainous state, Maryland has more than 60 mountain ranges and hills in its western end where it borders West Virginia and Pennsylvania. This area is steeped in history; the first battle between the Union and the Confederacy took place on Sugarloaf Mountain in September, 1862, according to Maryland State Archives.

Read more: Mountain Getaways in Maryland |

Read more: Mountain Getaways in Maryland |

 “Maryland has more than 60 mountain ranges and hills in its western end where it borders West Virginia and Pennsylvania.  This area is steeped in history; the first battle between the Union and Confederacy in Maryland took place on Sugarloaf Mountain in September, 1862.”

For a fascinating brochure on Maryland in the Civil War, click here.

The architecture is Mid-Atlantic Colonial.

In the 1950s, Sugarloaf was beautifully groomed with flowers, and shrubs, Victorian vistas and fancies such as curved benches and rows of trees with expanses of manicured lawns with garden statuary.

The lake at the bottom of Sugarloaf Mountain.

Now many things remain, but with Sugarloaf being “loved to death” by summer crowds, it’s not quite as regal as it once was. The area is still grand, though, and towering over any other attraction in the center of Maryland.

I hope someday you will visit Sugarloaf Mountain. Give me a call and we’ll have lunch, then some tea in the afternoon.

For more information, click here. For hiking and trails, click here.

Filed under: Beauty,Outside — admin @ 2:37 pm Comments (0)
Aug 08 2012

When I joined BlogHer in November of 2011…

…never did I think I would be attending the highlight of the 2012 social season, the BIG conference in New York City, BlogHer ’12

But, little by little the pieces fit together and there I was, last week and over the weekend, sleeping in the Hilton New York Hotel on 6th Avenue with the best of them. For a blessed five days, Frank Sanatra’s New York, New York was my playground and 5,000 BlogHers were my best friends. I couldn’t have been happier, so I am counting the days until I can register for BlogHer ’13.

Main Entrance Rotunda of the Hilton New York.

In my professional lives, I have been to many such gatherings throughout the years. For big and little conferences, conventions and national meetings, I have traveled the country. Delighting in posh circles, I have selected watercress sandwiches off silver trays decorated with live waterlilies at a National Gallery of Art reception where black tie waiters set the exclusive tone in Washington, D.C.

But, never, ever, EVAR have I attended a gathering on the grand scale of BlogHer ’12. For that reason, as I notice some negative blogs are being posted about inconsequential details, I would like to to hold up my index finger, wave it back and forth and say, “HUH Uh! Don’t you say that about MY BlogHer.”

The Gate to BlogHer ’12, New York City

Was everything perfect? NO! Was it a beyond incredible experience? YES! Would I do it over? Without a doubt. Will I go next year? Just try and stop me. Would I encourage friends to go? I will threaten them until they agree. So, yes! Count me in, but because others feel so inclined, let’s just chat a few minutes about planning BIG events.

Have you ever planned a dinner party, just one meal, for thirty guests? Pretty big headache, huh? Picture planning the guest list, finding a space, coordinating the food and beverage menu, securing entertainment and then, charting the seating arrangements. Lots to do, wouldn’t you say? And, lots of ‘To Do Lists” to pull that off with gusto.

Now, let’s gear that migraine way up by adding five days worth of activities for 5,000 more guests and, just for an added challenge, let’s put on a blind fold and guess how many people will want to attend, NOT NOW, but in two to three years?!?!

Delicious, healthy food for all disciplines and dictates.

Yes, it’s true! Many large conference events have to be planned two to three years ahead of time. And remember, in planning this event, you’ll have to negotiate the prices according to anticipated attendance and pay a sizable deposit based on how many people will day trip the event compared to the number sleeping over, paying for rooms. Did you know that fees for use of meeting rooms, conference rooms, ball rooms and lounges are all coordinated with attendance numbers and the number of sleepover guests?

But, wait! There’s more! Let’s say you are planning a multimedia event that not only encompasses a two floor Industry Trade Show, but also on-site educational classes, discussion panels, lectures, hands on demos and Whoops!, how about six parties back to back? Should we throw in a top-of-the-line fashion show with drinks, finger food and runway complete with audio and lighting? Need we mention the make-over and training of inexperienced runway models? Sure!

Glitter and Light Sticks at the Sparklecorn Party,
one of six BlogHer ’12 parties.

Why not!?! Why, that’s nothing compared to enticing five big name celebrities AND PRESIDENT OBAMA to drop by and share their lives as if we’re all drinking buddies. And how about the food? BlogHer ’12 seemed to have the most expensive food, drink and break set-ups possible. The quality of the buffets, the vast quantities and the sensitivity to culture and diet dictates were obvious, noteworthy and appreciated.

And how about reaching out to all attendees with love and affection coupled with a sincere desire to promote everyone’s careers and financial welfare? Are you starting to get the picture of what the BlogHer administrative staff accomplished last week? I mean seriously, is the glass half empty or half full?

Well, to me the glass is full to the brim. Was I irritated as a Newbie that I didn’t get to sit down for my one-time Newbie Breakfast to hear Deb Rox’s welcome? Yes, but I’m over it. Was it irritating to sit at the very back of the Grand Ball Room unable to hear Martha Stewart and stare at a black marble pillar where her face should be? Yes, but Scarlett, forget the orange shoes; tomorrow’s another day!

Do I feel that I attended a fantastic gathering of women whose love and energy was enveloping and high minded? Yes, I do. I believe all members of the BlogHer ’12 staff gave of themselves physically, emotionally and intellectually above and beyond their job description, in order to further everyone’s conference experience.

Bottom line? It was a tremendous undertaking and it was well worth minor irritations and inconveniences. These shortcomings will be forgotten as the returning rewards of education, networking and sustaining friendships carry us into more secure futures as a result of attending BlogHer ’12. So while we critique to make things better for next year, let’s say, “Huzzah!” for this year, never forgetting the work that went into it.

Here’s to you Lisa, Elisa and Jory! Kudos for a job well done!


NaBloPoMo August 2012

Tags: , , , , , ,

Filed under: Beauty,Inside — admin @ 6:30 pm Comments (0)
May 14 2012

“LISTENING is one of the greatest gifts we can give to each other.”

       —Julie Maloney, Founder/Director, Women Reading Aloud
How much there is, we know nothing about. Everyday, there is something new to learn.
We walk on a path throughout our lives, but until we come to new people that cross our trajectory, we are limited in what we know and can learn.
Daily, though, things happen, new contacts appear and we meet new influences which cause us to rebound in unexpected ways. Like a cue ball launched on a pool table, we travel one direction then sharply turn in another, influenced by forces we were not expecting when we met somebody new.

Knowing Zoe Artemis led me to meeting Julie Maloney. Getting
to know Julie led me to the Amherst Writers and Artists, with
their founder, Pat Schneider and her philosophy of authorship.

I betcha’ Julie Maloney never saw herself as leading writing retreats to Greece. But, one day she met Zoe Artemis and both their lives changed forever. Zoe was leading the tours and had been for many years when she got sick. During the summer of 2011, Zoe knew she would not be strong enough to make the trip and encouraged Julie to lead the group without her. In the photo above, we see Julie on the Island of Alonnisos in the Aegean Sea, feeling on top of the world.
Julie founded and directs the writing organization, Women Reading Aloud. WRA is dedicated to encouraging each writer to find her voice and, following the Amherst Writers and Artists Method, believes each person is a writer who deserves encouragement.  WRA is a non – profit organization devoted to the promotion of women writers. Julie’s goals for WRA include the development of a radio talk show highlighting non-celebrity women writers from all walks of life. Writers will read excerpts of their writing on air and have a conversation about their work.

Julie is a dancer, choreographer, writer,
author, poet, designer and photographer.


From her biography on “Julie Maloney, the third of four daughters, was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. She has worked in the arts as a performer and educator her entire life. She holds a B.A. in English from New Jersey City University and an MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Julie performed professionally for several modern dance companies in New York City and was the artistic director, choreographer and principal dancer of the JULIE MALONEY DANCE COMPANY for thirteen years. The University of North Carolina has honored Julie with a Distinguished Alumna Award. Julie is a writer, photographer and teacher. She is the founder and creative designer for MANGO – a company that offers inspirational note cards, writing journals and books. In 2003, Julie founded WOMEN READING ALOUD, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting women writers through special events and workshops. She is a trained workshop leader in the Amherst Writers and Artists Method and leads writing workshops throughout the year.”

Julie has a lovely selection of stationery and
journals sold on-line through Mango Press.


In addition to WRA and distributing products through Mango Press, Julie is fully engaged in the writing life. She has written a new novel, titled The Lender, after traveling to Germany to do extensive research.

Private Landscape

 “Julie Maloney’s poems in her collection Private Landscape move with the exquisite grace of her abilities as a dancer and choreographer. Dream narratives sing in delicate imagery. Pain of cancer is here, honestly revealed and transcended; love is here, in its greatest giving. There is not a trace of easy sentimentality. This is a collection to remember, at once personal and universal.”           –Charlotte Mandel

Poet, Sight Lines; Editor, Saturday Press
Poet/Lecturer, Barnard College Center for Research and Women
NaBloPoMo May 2012

Tags: , , , , , ,

Filed under: Beauty,Literature — admin @ 4:47 pm Comments (0)
Apr 17 2012

The book “Demeter’s Daughters” made a great impression upon me when I read it in the 1990s.

It set me straight about feminism in Colonial America. Many people wrongly assume that feminism is a time-line with recent, progressive advances. But, as author Selma R. Williams points out, in the United States, it wasn’t until “…the end of the eighteenth century the self-sufficient, independent wife was replaced by the “lady” whose indolence, ignorance, and subservience were cultivated as the status symbol of her husband’s prosperity.”

This early 1900s postcard shows the influence of dancer
Isadora Duncan’s emphasis on free and natural movements
inspired by classical Greek art.

In truth, “Demeter’s Daughters” convincingly maintains that, “Like the ancient Greek Goddess Demeter, females of early America were responsible for supplying society with earth’s blessings: food, marriage, children – and civic harmony. The story of these women – heroines, victims, and at least a few out-and-out scoundrels – is the story of the founding of the United States.”

Ms. Williams continues that “…colonial women set the pace for twentieth-century feminists. And the modern “Ms.” has yet to catch up,” as written in 1975, the date of the book’s publication.

I have been greatly influenced by the book, “Demeter’s Daughters, The Women Who Founded America 1587 – 1787,” and one day it occurred to me that being a daughter bonds all women.  Not all women are wives, mothers or sisters, but all women are daughters.

In recent thoughts about BlogHer, I realized that we BlogHer daughters are gathered in cyberspace to supply each of our own societies with earth’s blessings. And that…

Why, wait a minute! What’s this? A poem!

It must be an entry for Mel’s NaBloPoMo Poetry Contest: Villanelle

How in the world did that get here?

Gathered Daughters

By Robin,

Gathered daughters, unrelated mothers,
Come to nurture soul with soul aligned and
Reaching, teaching, purposed for each other.

Once strange women, questing for a smother,
Of female caring, so they join and band
Gathered daughters, unrelated mothers.

Young women writing, some mommy bloggers,
Use adult words to make their baby plans,
Reaching, teaching, purposed for each other.

Middle women writing, baby boomers,
Lessen life pains with extra love to span
Gathered daughters, unrelated mothers,

Older women writing, sound unfettered,
Free to offer guidance and a quick hand,
Reaching, teaching, purposed for each other.

Small portraits beckon, on the screen cluttered,
Attracting mentors, to a comment land.
Gathered daughters, unrelated mothers,
Reaching, teaching, purposed for each other.


NaBloPoMo April 2012

Tags: , , , , ,

Filed under: Beauty,The Arts — admin @ 3:16 pm Comments (0)
Apr 08 2012

Festive holidays always seem to make me thankful.

I spend my time thinking of the excitement of holidays when I was a child in the 1950s. Spending time at both grandmothers’ houses one after the other, morning maternal, afternoon paternal, ensured an never ending array of attention and presents. I was all for that. Still am.

Here’s hoping you enjoy all of the spring time
festivities that are dear to your family.

It’s so wonderful that people feel comfortable expressing themselves nowadays, being true to their heritage and family backgrounds. My mother’s family were pure German, but were never comfortable being who they were. Any smidgen of German tradition was not recognized as they did not want to be thought of as “foreign.” So, when I found Volker Kraft and his 10,000 egg Easter Egg Tree, I was happy to see what, in a more accepting place and time, I could have been enjoying all these years: blowing thousands of yolks out of thousands of eggs, decorating the shells and hanging them in the front yard. Why, it boggles the mind.

Volker Kraft has an Easter Egg Tree that people travel to see.

As if that’s not enough, 10,000 eggs on a tree for all to see, Volker Kraft also has a web site. His family web site will mean all the more if you understand German, but there are English and other language translation buttons at the bottom of the screen.

I just love the Kraft family web site and go to it every year to see what’s new. It’s like a play area for adults. Lots of fun! Why, I think I’ll give a link to you and all the BlogHer peeps.

You know, the Peeps. All those peeple who come to BlogHer, read, Comment and Follow the magnificent posts from the thousands of BlogHer contributors. Peeps with their Comments make the BlogHer world go ’round.

BlogHer Peeps come in all shapes and sizes, ages
and heritages, but a common thread between them
is, “If you want a friend, you have to be one.”  

“If you want a friend, you have to be one.” At least, that’s what they used to tell us in Girl Scouts. And, it seems to work on BlogHer as well. The more you give, the more you get.

Every now and then I see a Comment or Chatter with BlogHers boo-hoo-hooin’ about the fact nobody is coming to their postings or blogs to read them. They are sad because they think no one is reading their thoughts and yet, they just sit there and wait. And wait. And wait.

No! Don’t do it! If this sounds like you, get out of your BlogHer corner and start Commenting on other peeple’s posts.

That’s how you get out and about, to see and be seen. Did you know that every time you Comment, your avatar and the location of you Comment, goes down on the right hand side, under the category, “Recent Comments?” That makes it easy for people to FIND YOU. And, what you think. And, what you like. So, they can feel close to you and start to become your virtual friend.

In other words, become a Peep! Make a point to Follow other Bloghers, love and support them and they, in turn will become a Peep of yours. It’s so easy! It’s so much fun!

Remember, Peeps make the BlogHer world go around.

I LOVE peeps!

  NaBloPoMo April 2012

Tags: , , , , ,

Filed under: Beauty,Outside — admin @ 3:05 pm Comments (0)
Mar 20 2012

Nothing is more invigorating than a spring day,
except, maybe, getting a book published!

Many years ago, no wait, many, many, MANY years ago, in the middle 1980s, I was teaching a quilt class. We met once a week at one of the class members’ homes, interrupting our quilting with snacks and hot tea. One of the ladies would haul out a big notebook and read to us. She was transcribing handwritten letters, sent back and forth to her sister-in-law, Bert, in the 1950s. We loved hearing the letters. They were so interesting and the enormity of her task, typing them all without a computer, was impressive.

And so, we spent the winter, hunkered down, quilting and listening to wonderful letters read by one of the original authors. We knew Grace was serious about her letters, because as we quilted and talk through the weeks and months, the stack of typed paper grew. Then, at some point, Grace started mentioning the idea of publishing her letters with Bert as a book. The other quilters and I would try to think about publishing a book, but that was very far away to us. Grace, however, anticipated entering the publishing world someday, without a second thought. Later, I learned that her dreams, with her positive thinking, brought results.

Grace’s book was published in 2000.

The years went by. I moved away and lost touch, got married with a family and often thought of Grace and the quilters, but never quite took action to say, “Hello.” Then, with the immediacy of the Internet, in 2008 or so, I wondered about Grace, did a search on her name and got the surprise of my life. I was directed to Amazon, to a book called, “Dear Bert” by an author named Grace Kull. I was thrilled!

At that, I had to get in touch and reacquaint with one of my favorite people, so I called Grace and we have been in touch ever since. And today, I called Grace again, because today is Grace’s ninetieth birthday. Counting backwards you can figure she became a published, first time author at seventy-eight years of age.

Happy Birthday, Grace, and Many Returns!

Being a first time author was not her only first. Talk about trying new things, Grace opened a bed and breakfast in the 1990s, forging ahead to bring new people into her life. And indeed she did. One of her guests turned out to have connections with a one man publishing house, Jerry Kelly of Xoxox, as one article says, “hard to pronounce, but easy to admire.” The rest is history as Grace’s book came out and delighted everyone who read it.

Grace and her cat, Abner.

Jerry Kelly is a graduate of Kenyon College and an informative article is available by clicking here. While interestingly enough, Jerry is called a literary “midwife” for his birthing of books, Grace is also mentioned in the article:

“More typical, perhaps, is Grace Kull, an octogenarian homemaker from Cooperstown, New York, who came to Kelly through his network of writer friends. In 2000, Kelly published Dear Bert, a collection of letters by Kull to her sister-in-law. In 2003, he brought out Traces: A Soldier Writes Home, a collection of war-time letters by Kull’s brother, John E. Rames, who was killed in the Battle of the Bulge in 1945. In both cases, Kelly was drawn by the personality and humor that shone in the letters, as well as by the way the letters’ mundane details evoked a particular era while innocently touching universal chords.”

Grace’s second book, “Traces: A Soldier Writes Home,” has a heartwarming aftermath as members of the armed forces who knew Grace’s brother in WWII have written her following her book’s publication. But! That’s a good story for another post, so we’ll end by wishing Grace:

The Best of Happy Birthdays!

May each day throughout the next year
bring you all the happiness of today!

NaBloPoMo March 2012

Tags: , , , ,

Filed under: Beauty,Outside — admin @ 6:59 pm Comments (0)
Mar 13 2012

Thank goodness life is not picky. Everyone seems to have good and bad experiences ranging from the heights of joy to the unending depths of sadness. With all of this character building, each person eventually finds a way to cope and survive the bad times, waiting for the good to come back around.

In my last post, Barbara Hughes shared her methods for healing from childhood sexual abuse by giving us a look into her art studio. She showed us how the creation of healing sculptures and paintings helped her get her pain outside of her mind and body. By forming her emotional pain into physical works of art, Barbara has lessened the impact of her childhood terrors.

Barbara Hughes, artist and healer.

In addition, Barbara also has reached out to gather community where she lives in Tennessee and traveled to Tanzania, Africa, intent on healing others in pain. Barbara has found that by enlarging her circle, she could continue to heal herself by helping to heal others. And, while Barbara was in Tanzania, she observed and celebrated the culture by painting and sculpting the beauty of the people she met.

Maasai Women

In 2010, Barbara taught in Tanzania at the Msalato Theological College. She taught Art and Spirituality to a group of African men and English to both men and women. As an accomplished artist, Barbara found the Tanzanian people and culture to be an endless resource of inspiration. Upon her return to her Tennessee studio, she began to sculpt and paint the “Women of Tanzania,” a show installed at Shenanigans Gallery, Sewanee, TN from April 1 – 26, 2011. The sculptures and painting in this post are all from the “Women of Tanzania” show.

The sculpture of Maasai Women, above, depicts women from a Maasai village Barbara visited. Although the Maasai are a very patriarchal society, Barbara found the women to be tall and magnificent, regal in their bearing. Her sculpture shows them wearing the traditional red cloaks worn by both Maasai men and women.

Here, Maasai women are singing. Many villages
have Mother’s Unions that gather to sing, dance
and drum at worship services.

Barbara fell in love with Tanzania after spending six months there in 2010. She went there to teach at the Msalato Theological College in conjunction with McCann’s Mission in Msalato, Tanzania. McCann’s mission is working toward, and accepting donations to build, the anticipated Msalato Women’s Center to offer wider outreach.

Another well known organization, the Mother’s Union, is an International Christian Charity supporting families worldwide, with a well recognized presence in Tanzania. As the Mother’s Union web site explains, “In 83 countries, our members share one heartfelt vision – to bring about a world where God’s love is shown through loving, respectful and flourishing relationships. This is not a vague hope, but a goal we actively pursue through prayer, programmes, policy work and community relationships. By supporting marriage and family life, especially through times of adversity, we tackle the most urgent needs challenging relationships and communities.”

Matiki, a member of the Mother’s Union,
from the Wagogo Tribe in Tanzania

Women who belong to the Mother’s Union meet regularly for fellowship and worship. The Mother’s Union in each village will gather to sing, dance and drum and also to discuss issues of the village. Matiki, Barbara’s portrait of her above, is from the Wagogo Tribe. Even though the Tribe is a structured patriarchal society, the women of the Mother’s Union are very powerful. Barbara comments that, “Not much gets by these women.”

The Mother’s Union, founded in 2000 in Tanzania, has
accomplished much in changing lives for the better
with their Literacy and Development Program.

When Barbara saw this video about the Mother’s Union, she said, “I was really moved by the young husband having turned around his thinking. Domestic violence and extreme patriarchy is typical in Tanzania. I worked with some Mother’s Unions in introducing Al Anon, for families of alcoholics. Alcoholism is rampant. We did two trainings about the disease concept. Once open, the Msalato Women’s Center will be working with the Mother’s Union as well.”

The Mother’s Union was founded in 1876, in England, by a mother of three, Mary Elizabeth Sumner. She was aware of the burdens and responsibilities that can swamp young mothers. The Mother’s Union was specifically founded as a society for support of women in their role as mothers. Mary believed, “…that good parenting was more than providing for the physical needs of the child, and she believed that the primary responsibility was to raise children in the love of God.”

Barbara’s friend, Eunice, helps her fire clay sculptures
made by students of her Art and Spirituality class.

Barbara taught an Art and Spirituality class at the Msalato Theological College in Tanzania. In the photo above, Barbara, Eunice and some students from the class are in the process of firing clay artwork. Barbara shares that, “We placed the clay pieces on a flat stone and built the sticks around them. Then, Eunice ignited the sticks and they went into a roaring flame and fired the pieces.”

She continues, “In this firing I was helping to finish the figures my Tanzanian students had made in the Art and Spirituality class I taught. Here we see two of the five wonderful men who took to the class like ducks to water.”

Woman Dancing

Barbara tells us that, “The joy of the people is really something to see. Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world. They have had years of drought and yet, they know how to laugh and dance to enjoy life.”

When looking at Barbara’s artwork and then at slides and videos of Tanzania, the magnificently dyed fabrics of the clothing make a lasting impression. The beauty of the colors and patterns swirling with each movement become a visual delight. The prints on the fabrics are distinctive to each group of people and each region in Africa. Most of the garment fabrics are hand dyed by women of each village.

Brightly colored hand dyed fabrics celebrate the women’s song.

To effectively translate her impressions of the Tanzanian women into the hard media of clay sculpture, Barbara softens the visual effect by leaving off the shiny overglazes one usually finds on kiln fired clay pieces. Her sculptures, Woman Dancing, Woman Begging  and the Maasai Women, show only  the colorful matte underglazes to better depict the feel of the fabric.

Woman Begging

Barbara’s sculpture of a Woman Begging has a story. Barbara explains that, “My sculpture, Woman Begging, is of a woman who stood outside our little house and just waited without saying anything. We gave her food.  She seemed to epitomize the suffering of these people.”

Easing the suffering of others is now a big part of Barbara’s life. Remembering her own pain and moving through it, she is reaching out spiritually, but also financially, to help lessen the needs of others. Barbara sets aside a portion of the sale of her artwork to benefit the Msalato Women’s Center in Tanzania.

An informative article profiling Barbara’s work and her show, Women of Tanzania, is offered by Rev. Diane Moore, a prolific writer of many published books and of the blog, A Word’s Worth.  Of interest to fans of Isabel Anders, Rev. Moore has written a mystery novel with BlogHer’s own Isabel called Chant of Death.

For more information on Barbara Hughes, visit her website.

A portion of all artwork proceeds are donated to the
Msalato Women’s Center in Tanzania, Africa.

To give to the Mother’s Union
East Africa Famine Appeal, click here.

For a delightful peek at Diane Moore’s and Isabel Anders’s book,
Chant of Death, go here.

NaBloPoMo March 2012

Tags: , , , , , ,

Filed under: Beauty,The Arts — admin @ 4:47 pm Comments (0)
Mar 01 2012

Nothing bettern than Chocolate Ganche Cake

Once upon a time, in upstate New York, there lived a fairy princess named Laine or Lainey, as the people of BlogHer Castle sometimes liked to say. Lainey was very beautiful, was married to a handsome prince and had children that were known to drive her nuts over a cabin feverish long winter as only upstate New Yorkers can have.

And many happy returns!

As Laine can tell you, even fairy princesses have dreams. Laine dreamed of being a big, bad roller derby Queen and turning in her sparkling pink fairy dusted ball gown for a roller derby persona named Crazy Eyeris. As Crazy Eyeris, Laine didn’t have problems with anything, least of all the weather, so she and her husband and kids lived happily ever after. THE END.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Filed under: Beauty,Inside — admin @ 2:39 pm Comments (0)
« Previous PageNext Page »

Follow Us!

Recent Posts

Featured on
Syndicated on

Flash the badge

<div align="center"><a href="" title="Sunbonnet Smart"><img src="" alt="Sunbonnet Smart" style="border:solid 1px black;" /></a></div>


About Me
sunbonnetsmart's items Go to sunbonnetsmart's photostream
I'm going to BlogHer '12
BlogHer '13
I'm Going to #BlogHer15: Experts Among Us
I'm Going to #BlogHer16 in Los Angeles!


NaBloPoMo November 2012