Thursday, September 29, 2016

BACK TO SCHOOL: An adventure both new, and familiar

There are certain things I always associate with "back-to-school."  Even in the weeks before the official turn of the season, the air begins to crisp, the trees display colorful intent, and the world begins to taste different - spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, and just a touch of clove. I love this change equally to its spring counterpart.  I know it is more than a little trite but, seriously, it always brings to sensory memory the smell of new leather shoes, the perfection of a fresh box of crayons, and the pride of this year's sparkling lunchbox.

The last time I was actually going back-to-school was decades ago.  Yes, life itself is one big classroom, and learning is a constant. I will not deny that philosophy.  But there are certain rituals associated with back-to-school, and I find I am engaging in them in a new way this year as I prepare to add to my weekly schedule auditing a college class online through the University of Washington iSchool.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

A NEW REFLECTION: "To Fu, or Not Tofu?"

"Tofu With Soy Sauce And Carrot" by Chris 73
(see end of post for full attribution)
To Fu, or Not Tofu?
by Judith Cullen
© 2016

As time passes, our relationships change.  I cherish memories of the righteous freedom of my child and young adulthood, when my head was still filled with questions of "how" and "why" instead of bearing the time-inflicted patina of doubt. Yet, every now and again I surprise myself. I find myself embracing something new in a new way, and I feel that young excitement again.  Today it was tofu.

I was introduced to the curd in the 1970s. Back in those times buying lettuce in the produce section, a single side of an aisle and not even a full one, meant purchasing the sphere of green known as iceberg.  There were no other options.  Since there were Caesar Salads there had to have been romaine, and I am sure there were gardens bountiful with green leaf varietals, and red.  They might have even existed in my little fenced-yard of the world.  I just didn't know about them. They were not a part of my formative gastronomic experiences.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

PROCTOR ARTSFEST 2016 - Art Inspired Stories


Juried Art Show 2016
 Art-Inspired Stories Project 

This is the 20th Anniversary year of Proctor Arts Fest. This year's Juried Art Show and Art Inspired Stories Project are dedicated to the man who worked quietly behind the scenes for two decades, and whose vision of the arts in the Proctor District are reflected in the vibrancy of this annual celebration. 

  Thank you Gene Kester for your stewardship, your dedication, and your vision.




One Man's Garden
by Judith Cullen

To Gene Kester

The wise gardener knows the richness of inspired soil,
when to quench the eager thirsts of growth,
when to submit to the invigorating touch of the sun.

He toils compassionately among his rows, planting, tending,
a gentle influence over decades of potentialities.
The warm touch and twinkling presence is ever patient.

The vibrant mind, full of constant imaginative ideas,
always sees the garden in its fullest, most vibrant splendor
despite the cycling realities of decay and winter's rest.

His spade and trowel work on: encouraging, persuading,
gently assessing that which would remain in the safety of seed,
and seeks out just the right spot to plant for prosperity.

This man's garden shall never be fallow, fade or wither,
remaining a testament to one soul's stewardship and scope:
vivid color, dynamic shape reflecting the ardor of his vision

For he has planted to a design which conforms to the eternal,
and cherished it with the blessing of every God-given gift
that one hand, and one heart can hold in everlastingness.


**********

Pieces Selected for Presentation
Note: All Stories are © 2016 by Judith Cullen
Use of any of the photo images on this page without the express permission
of the individual artists is strictly prohibited

{LOCATED IN THE FOYER}

Aunt Ruthie
Image copyrighted by the Artist 
by Janette Stiles, Graphite on Paper

Is this really her?  The undulating gleam of calculated waves.  The precise manicure and intense perfection of rouge and liner.  Determined lips reflect a polished, fell sensuality belying the softness of fur.

I question what I remember - what I choose to remember: impossibly good cookies whose recipe was never revealed, dizzy songs sung in the car that can never be forgotten, secret assaults on household furnishings that I was sworn never to disclose to my Mother.

That is the aunt I remember. That is the complex formula of imperfections that branded me with its eternal acceptance, and unquestioned love.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

THE THIRD ANNIVERSARY of Art Inspired Stories

It is hard to imagine that Mr Gene Kester and I hatched this idea over coffees three-plus years ago for the 2014 Proctor Artsfest.  While never claiming it was an original idea, it has turned out to be a very enjoyable and fruitful one.  Not only have I done two ArtsFests, but I did another installment got the Peninsula Art Guild last fall, and the project has extended into the virtual world as well.


I'll be at the Juried Art Show at Mason UMC at 11:30am on Saturday with the third set of Art Inspired Stories for this year's Proctor ArtsFest.



I happily dedicate this post and this year's stories to Gene Kester: Thank you for always seeing the creative possibilities, and being the first to stand behind them!

I love doing these projects, and it is hard to choose individual favorites, but here are some highlights from the five Art Inspired Story Projects, real world and virtual, over the past three years.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

WARMING UP for Art Inspired Stories: The Canvas of Childhood

It was a great morning to be out to breakfast.  Apparently I wasn't the only one to think so.  After placing my order, I began scribbling on my notepad in the usual hope that something will spark my interest or imagination.

One full page of drivel later (and a lot of frustrated page slashes), a family of four walked in complete with sparkly birthday hats and a cluster of balloons clutched in the hands of the birthday boy. The parents waved at me as I took a snapshot of them.  It made me think about what an open canvas childhood is, and how experiences big and small paint themselves on that canvas in hues that set the tone for the rest of life.  They can't be primed over or sanded away.

My 85 year old Mother tells stories all the time.  Almost all of them are about her childhood.  Very little is spoken of some 65 years in deference to fond recollections of the first 20.  It reminds me of the importance of that childhood canvas, and how the events and sensory input of those years are indelibly marked on the soul.

By the way, I gifted the young celebrant with a glass of chocolate milk, and when he left he was wearing TWO of the sparkly hats on his head.  I hear the chocolate milk is especially fine this season.


The Canvas of Childhood

by Judith Cullen
© 2016

Five balloons a float
each helium-filled token a year
excitement still fresh

Remembering times
of a world all bright and high
vibrant child essence

Remembering days
joy-infused with adventure
replete, repeat them

Remembering sense
sounds and smells of young living
surprises await

When decades have passed
indelibly imprinted
sounds, smells, colors, tastes

Five balloons a float
a special breakfast this day
seeds of memories


##

More haiku, drabble and free-verse coming for this year's Proctor ArtsFest Art Inspired Stores Project, coming August 6th!


Friday, July 22, 2016

CHANGE BEGINS AT THE ROOTS - #loverebellionchallenge

Two weeks ago - an awful week which terminated with the shooting of five law enforcement officers in Dallas - my friend Jason wrote a long, heartfelt post on facebook which concluded with the call for a love rebellion.  A revised version of that post is HERE, printed on this blog with his permission. 

Jason makes a point that I happen to agree with - change begins at the roots. There is a reason why the term grassroots came into popular use.  Those of you who garden know that no matter how healthy a plant is, if its needs are not met at the root level it will not flourish, it will eventually wither and die. 

We are faced with a lot of top end problem solving these days, as bursted-blooms on the national level declare that they can solve the problems that fuel our fears - they can lead us to prosperity.  And all the leaves surrounding them rustle the echo of top-down solutions.  We want to believe them, because living in our increasingly violent, hate-shame-blame filled world is getting unbearable.  Somehow our society has turned into Strange Days and we want to shout "No, no, this is not what we wanted!  That was supposed to be fiction. Can we get a retake, please!"

This descent is aided by the medias, which reflects the culture of our times as much as they shape it.  The news media is generally ready to provide you with the dirt on whomever you don't agree with, so you can not agree with them even more.  Social media creates the illusion of public forums for civil discourse that are false, that amplify discord and divisiveness, and propagate the spewing forth of opinions and ideas with a frightening anonymity which holds the individual minimally accountable for their role in the clamor.  It is a culture of entitlement where my right to be right, overrides any obligation to be kind and good. The whole rambling mess becomes a committee-of-the-whole in which everyone talks, no one listens, and nothing is resolved except that everyone becomes more entrenched in their established positions.

We have to start by treating the roots.  People are angry because they are afraid, they feel threatened.  In many cases there are legitimate causes for that.  Fingers are pointed, labels are placed and replaced.  The hopelessness and frustration can be overwhelming.  I know that is how I feel very often.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

ART INSPIRED STORIES 2016 at Proctor ArtsFest

It's almost time again for the annual Art Inspired Stories at the Proctor ArtsFest Juried Art Show.  The "big canvas" of artful fun is scheduled for the Proctor District Saturday, August 6th from 10am to 5pm.  There's plenty to see and do, with over 140 different vendors.

Art Inspired Stories will be presented at 11:30am in the Mason Church Parlors, at 2710 North Madison Street.  In the week prior I will be selecting some two dozen pieces from this year's submitted artworks, and writing a 100 word story, or a poem in any form (length not to exceed 100 words).  some of these compositions will be read live at the show, and all will be posted here after the Festival is over.  All artists whose works are featured in the live readings will receive a copy of the story or poem written for their work.



Check Art Inspired Stories from previous shows here:

Read all of the 2015 stories from Peninsula Art Leagues 13th annual Open Show HERE

Read all of the 2015 stories from Proctor ArtsFest HERE


Read all of the 2014 stories from Proctor ArtsFest HERE


I hope to see you at the show!