Day 173 Ephemeral Parade

May 31, 2015

(This is part of a 365 project during my 70th year where I write and illustrate a blog on each day’s gift.)

I had never heard of the 100 Happy Days Foundation, a foundation that organized a global flashmob, a worldwide bubble parade on this day. This is the first year that Baltimore has participated, thanks to Mary England, Baltimore's local street artist and quirky, perky personality.

On this day, groups in more than 31 cities assembled and made a little magic in Africa, Asia, Europe and the U.S.  In offbeat Hampden today, people of all ages allowed their inner child to shine...and, despite the heat, there were lots of smiles and strange outfits.

I have always been drawn to bubbles and was the organizer of the bubble activity at my daughter's elementary school's fall fest every year. I searched for the best recipe and aimed to create large bubbles that floated gracefully above the heads of children. It was especially delightful when a child was able to twirl with the bubble wand and create a rainbow tunnel around her dancing body.

It doesn't matter that the fragile spheres are ephemeral. What does matter is their beauty and the continuing magic they create in us if we allow. I love how the soapy surface tension interacts with light and colors in the environment and then constantly shifts and changes. I used to watch children at the fair chase huge bubbles and jump to pop them and then giggle in delight. For the children, I don't think it was a desire to destroy as much as it was a desire to connect with the magic and amazement at how a touch of their finger created huge sprinkles that rained on them.

It is another kind of magic that diverse people all around the globe can find a common connection in something so ethereal.

My gift today is a bubble.


You can find links to my other posts on this project here: 

Day 172 Soul Food

May 30, 2015

(This is part of a 365 project during my 70th years where I write and illustrate a blog on each day’s gift.)

Stop the clock. Hang out with friends. Fill a night with silliness.

I took my computer to the shop this morning with what is probably a bad hard drive. Now, that's something that causes stress today but something that had no place in yesterday (as in "long ago"). What can I do? I can sit around and worry but that might waste some precious time. I might hang out with some friends and laugh a lot. Now that sounds like a good idea. And that is what I did.

Stacy, Rayned, Ace (a poodle) new Couch Surfer friend Charles, David, Misty (a cat) and I shared a night with a good home cooked meal by David, interesting conversation and lots of wine. Conversation ranged from good books to good poop and lots of things in between. We set up some photos with Ace pretending to play Scrabble while Misty walked away in disdain. Everyone pitched in to create dog-appropriate Scrabble arrangements which led to words like kittyqat, mongrel, bitch, poodle and paws.

Being a project/creation-driven person, sometimes I forget just to sit around, produce nothing and have plain fun. Tonight it did not matter that I took fuzzy photos with my new long pole selfie stick and remote shutter release. Tonight it did not matter if I finished this blog. What did matter was that I spent time with friends and that we laughed together. This is good for the soul.

My gift today is fun with friends.


You can find links to my other posts on this project here:

Day 171 Small Pleasures

May 29, 2015

(This is part of a 365 project during my 70th years where I write and illustrate a blog on each day’s gift.)

It’s official—honeysuckle is blooming. No matter that it is an invasive weed—that fact does not detract from its beautiful bloom and sweet scent. 

I grew up in Baltimore City, surrounded by concrete and very small green patches. I played in the back alley with other neighborhood children, games such as Mother May I, Simon Says, hopscotch and jump rope. Around this time of the year, a certain scent would cause us to stop in the middle of play, an aroma carrying change and promise. We knew summer was beckoning when we smelled the honeysuckle. One of our neighbors had a vine growing at the end of her chain link fenced yard, a vine with the funnel-shaped flowers and sweet smell. I remember when a playmate, a girl from West Virginia who was familiar with wild things, introduced me to the taste. 

“You pick it like this,” she instructed me. I plucked the flower with the little green bud, the calyx, which was close to the stem. “Pinch here and pull this string and suck it,” my young teacher continued. She demonstrated, already on her second taste. I pinched the calyx and pulled the stamen out through the bottom. Then I stuck out my tongue and tasted the nectar. It was such a tiny bit but a little bit of sweet goes a long way.

Another honeysuckle memory wafts back from later in life when I was around 30. I had a motorcycle that carried sensuous connections. I loved how the air temperature changed from warm at the top of hills to chilly down in the dips. I loved the feel of warm wind rushing past. But even more, I savored the fragrances that permeated the air—especially the honeysuckle scent along country roads. Sometimes small things bring great pleasure and that is enough.

My gift today is honeysuckle.

You can find links to my other posts on this project here:

Day 170 Where Are You?

May 28, 2015

(This is part of a 365 project during my 70th years where I write and illustrate a blog on each day’s gift.)

We picked up a young Couch Surfer at the train station today. He is Indonesian but has lived in Germany for ten or more years. He wanted to see Annapolis and so we took him there where we visited the State House and the harbor area. I told him about Alex Haley’s novel Roots and showed him the statue at the harbor and the quotes from his novel. Later, David cooked a good dinner as usual and then I decided to fill the bird feeders. While I prefer to merely fill the feeders from the birdseed bag, David insists on first filling empty soda liter bottles and then filling the feeders from these bottles. It makes no sense at all to me but his weird way of doing things led me to a new discovery.

I playfully struck one of the empty soda bottles on the table and it resonated with a lovely sound. Curious, I tried another and another. Although the plastic bottles appeared the same to the eye, they produced different sounds to the ear. A fourth one made a most unpleasant sound so I held onto the three and determined they produced these notes: B-D-F.

 I began to play three-note tunes with these bottles. B-F-D sounded like, “Where are you?” B-B-B-F-D sounded like, “Where the hell are you?” Our Couch Surfer, Charles, and I took turns playing three-note original songs to the accompaniment of giggles. I think I’m going to call my new style repurposed music.
After a day of knee pain, I was glad when something so simple could spark creativity and smiles. That’s what I choose to remember about today.

My gift today was three musical plastic bottles.

You can find links to my other posts on this project here:

Day 169 Blueberry Religion

May 27, 2015

(This is part of a 365 project during my 70th years where I write and illustrate a blog on each day’s gift.)

I’ve been eating blueberries ever since I can remember. I’ve always savored the taste and have learned that the bigger ones are the sweetest. Sometimes, I peel the skin and let its succulence linger in my mouth before swallowing. And I have always been careful of the fruit’s juices because my mother used to warn me how blueberry stains will not come out of clothing. 

More than 40 years ago on a Dolly Sods backpacking trip that went awry, I remember spending the night in an inadequate tent during an early October storm. We were miserable, cold and hungry. On the way back to the van, we found some wild blueberry bushes and crawled on our hands and knees greedily picking and stuffing the berries into our mouths. Trinka, my rain-soaked German Shepherd, obviously loved these berries too as she wolfed them down. The wild blueberries stand out in my memory as a bright spot in an uncomfortable experience when life had broken down into its lowest common denominator of basic human needs. How wonderful these blueberries tasted!

I thought I knew blueberries until this morning when I was eating some for breakfast. Looking down on the top of one berry, it suddenly dawned on me that the stem area has an elegant geometry shaped like a six-pointed star, a hexagon or hexagram with two interlocking equilateral triangles (without the guiding lines)—a symbol that has been used in Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Mormonism, Christianity. 

I never noticed this until today. How many times have I focused on only one sense and pushed the others in the background? Tomorrow I should capture the blueberry smell before eating and pay attention to how the skin and inside feel. Hmmm…what does a blueberry sound like? How is it that a hexagon like that on the top of a blueberry can appeal to such diverse groups? Maybe the blueberry should become a symbol of religious unity.

My gift today is a new view of  blueberries.

You can find links to my other posts on this project here:

365, 70th year, 8th decade, gifts

Day 168 A Different Kind of Graffiti

May 26, 2015

(This is part of a 365 project during my 70th year where I write and illustrate a blog on each day's gift.)

Pendant and hidden hugs made by Andrea Gingerich
Every day brings a gift to me but some days gift becomes a plural. Today I received a call from an old friend from 1970. We met as teachers and each of us married and had children. For over 40 years, through visits, phone calls and messages, we have remained connected as close friends. She is definitely a valued gift.

And then there were free tickets to a nighttime Orioles game where I spent time with an ardent fan—my husband. He had a chance to connect with an old friend sitting next to him. The Orioles didn’t win but the experience was a winner.

The third gift wins as a focus today—a package with a belated Mother’s Day card (“Thank you for being my surrogate mom when I’ve needed it the most.”), a hand-made pendant pressed with a piece of nature, and hidden hugs—from a young friend who has lately experienced many downs in life’s rhythm of hills and valleys. Photography brought us together but her artistry reaches out beyond photography toward new growth and connections.

In my special package today were hidden hugs, repurposed circles cut from old greeting cards with inspirational quotes hand written on one side—“The Earth has music for those who listen.” Some are humorous—“I meant to behave, but there were too many other options!” The idea is meant to spark mental health awareness and smiles. People find them in unexpected places such as in Camden Yards last night, hanging on the back of a restroom door or peeking out from under the mustard. I can imagine the curiosity and smiles as people find them and I too smile because I was part of the process. In a way, this is a different kind of graffiti

My gift today is a bunch of hidden hugs.


> Blueberry Religion

Learn more about Hidden Hugs:

You can find links to my other posts on this project here:

Day 167 Cinder Blocks

May 25, 2015

(This is part of a 365 project during my 70th year where I write and illustrate a blog on each day's gift.)

A gallon of Dry Loc, a ¾ paint roller and a cheap, disposable brush—with these, I painted our new retaining wall of 50 plus blocks, preparation before painting it brown to match the color of the bottom of the house. After it is finished, I am thinking of either adding art or a metal frog to the wall and planting a couple of green plants in the ground near it.

Looking at the record photo I took of today’s work, I am reminded of the time years ago when I had a vision for the area at the base of this wall that is the entrance to our downstairs. At that time, I had to gather and carry away piles of leaves that had settled there before I leveled the ground. Then I bought sand to lay as a base before I laid the patio bricks. It is hard for me to imagine now how I carried the sand and the bricks from the car to the back of the house and spent a day or so finalizing my vision. And then there was the treehouse I built single-handedly…with a porch, a poem and a unicorn window.

Tonight I am tired and my back is sore from the mere painting I accomplished earlier. When I think of what I used to be able to do and what I can accomplish now, I have two choices when it comes to my attitude: (1) I can complain about what I used to be able to do but can no longer do; (2) I can be thankful what I am able to do today. Of course, this is a no-brainer. Complaining does not make me feel better but what I can accomplish now does.  I think I will forget the art idea and add a ready-made frog to the wall.

My gift today is what I am able to accomplish now.


You can find links to my other posts on this project here: