Magical Hot Air Balloons Send Us Soaring and Set us Down Easy

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Hot Air Balloons

The last time I rode in a hot air balloon, I was in my twenties. I remember being surprised at how hot it was up there. Our pilot kept a constant watch on the fire and gas levels which filled the hollow balloon with hot air. The exhilarating feeling of gliding over the pasture land below was well worth the fee we paid for the thrill.

I’ve had a fascination with these colorful “envelopes” ever since. Every year in Missouri and many other states balloonists gather with their gondolas and designer aircraft to share their enthusiasm with other fans of the sport. When they all take off, it’s a breathtaking spectacle that is remarkable and unforgettable.

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Recently there was a horrible disaster in Texas. A balloon carrying 16 people on an overcast day failed to see the overhead power lines they were heading for. The balloon caught fire and exploded killing all 16. Because of the wind and weather, hot air balloons can be unpredictable.

According to Wikipedia, the hot air balloon is the “oldest successful human-carrying flight technology. Are they safe? Today’s balloons have an envelope that is not sealed at the bottom, the envelope is generally made from nylon fabric and the inlet of the balloon (closest to the burner flame) is made from fire resistant material.

“Beginning in the mid-1970s, balloon envelopes have been made in all kinds of shapes, such as rocket ships and the shapes of various commercial products, though the traditional shape remains popular for most non-commercial, and many commercial, applications.

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Shortly after 9/11 I attended a hot air balloon show at Minneapolis/St. Paul airport. All planes were still grounded, including these magnificent aircraft. We walked from one gondola to another greeting the owners and admiring their colorful envelopes that were inflated and ready to fly. Sadly not one balloon was able to launch that day.

In the interim, we were fortunate enough to witness a marriage ceremony of two balloonists. They had met during a balloon conclave, fell in love, and wanted to share their wedding day with the friends who enjoyed the sport as much as they did.

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Staying Power, What is it and Why does it Resonate?

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My granddaughter, Rachel and me

My granddaughter, Rachel and me

One of my favorite movies is Forrest Gump. From the moment the feather floats upward and the background music begins, I’m hooked. There’s something about the soft flutter of this delicate work of nature that intrigues us all. As the feather rides the air currents, we know this is going to be a whimsical fun tale; an imaginary flight of fancy.

The feather also mirrors each of our lives. We wander through a myriad of choices and struggle over countless obstacles that may, at any time, bulldoze us and lay us flat. The feather symbolism is real and down to earth. Birds soar overhead and use their feathered wings to escape their prey. They flutter gently to protect a nest full of hope and regeneration. Feathers signify angel’s wings and God’s protection.

"Brown Thrasher" 16x20 acrylic with overlapping paint on barn wood frame

“Brown Thrasher” 20×16 acrylic with overlapping paint on barn wood frame

Sometimes the loud obnoxious and violent things around us distract our attention from the subtle messages that play out around us every day. Yet these quiet gentle winds bring us whispers of hope, touches of love, and heartfelt warmth if we but listen and receive them.

Good things often come in small packages. Great inspiration is usually received in moments of calm. Reverie was a word used by many creative’s in the past to indicate those times when they were in solitude and sought to connect with their God or muse.

Gump made us laugh and cry, suffer and weep. We rode the tides of his emotion and felt the slap and abrasion of his pain when he hit the sand. It is surely one of the great classics of our time.

"Robin Hood" 16x20 oil on canvas

“Robin Hood” 16×20 acrylic on canvas

Staying power is a huge element in success. What are you creating or doing with your life that will have lasting staying power. I’m not speaking of a long life, but a memorable one where people remember the pleasure and the pain of your deeds, your life’s work.

Some artists call it “universal appeal.” Without this key ingredient, your work (your life) is just attractive colors and shapes pieced together on a page that will quickly be forgotten in the next wave of popularity.

Staying power is an eternal principle that doesn’t go away even after you are gone. Universal appeal reaches out to all people regardless of race, religion, or social status. There is something there, a quality if you will, that resonates with the masses and connects with another’s inner and spiritual life.

Forrest Gump captured the essence of these eternal vibrations and mirrored each of our lives as they meander and roll into endless time and space. Please enjoy the following clips:

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(preview of show)

Whet Your Palate with Foods from the Present and Memories from the Past

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My Danish grandfather had several pigs that were kept in a pen near the back garden. If it was “pig slopping” time, I was there. The snorts and squeals of the pigs as they gulped down their food made me giggle. The smell of the mash mixed with whatever leftovers were available from the house, garden or dairy barn seemed intoxicating. Those pigs really knew how to scarf down a meal.

Feral Pig

Feral Pig

When people “feed their faces” or “chow down” on foods they love, I’m always reminded of those blubbery fat hogs. One of mankind’s favorite pastimes is eating. A phrase spoken around the world in many different languages is: “What’s for dinner?” When my children were still toddlers they would crowd around my legs and ask “Time for eat?” They were not only hungry. They wanted it now!

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“The Cook” 11×14 acrylic on canvas

Sometimes I stressed out about what to feed them. I wanted to provide something nutritious that they would enjoy, and I needed to stay within my budget. I didn’t want an anxiety attack every time I had to prepare a meal.

Solution: “The menu Plan.” I literally planned out a full month of assorted meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Now I had something to work from when I went shopping. I didn’t have to worry about food because I knew exactly what we were going to eat and when. I knew the ingredients were waiting somewhere in the cupboards, the freezer or refrigerator because I’d purchased them myself.

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When there were leftovers, I’d incorporate them into the menu. Two big hits were omelets and fried rice. Both used miscellaneous meats or vegetables in small quantities that could be folded into an omelet with cheese or stir-fried into rice. Hidden veggies were eaten with added bacon bits or ham to sweeten the pot.

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Cooking became an art form. I fashioned make-ahead meals and blended together the makings for cookies, cakes, and muffins. All I needed to do was add egg, oil, and milk and the rest was already done. I look back now and I wonder how I found the time or energy. I was a volunteer, I worked as a free-lance writer, and I had a large family. I think one reason may have been “lack of fear.”

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There was a time when parents didn’t have to hover over their children and worry that they might be snatched out from under them by some pervert or kidnapper. My parents certainly never had to worry about me. I roamed the neighborhood and played outside for hours exploring the world I lived in. I rode my bicycle home when I was hungry. My mother knew my haunts and she knew whom to call. I never felt restricted or tied down. I seldom felt afraid.

Food no longer seems to call us back home. We can buy it almost anywhere. In fact, more people eat out than ever before. They either eat fast food or buy take out and eat at home watching T.V. Our society eats on the run and does far too much snacking. Nutrition sometimes gets lost in the balance.

When my kids were still in college, I’d get a phone call asking for a recipe they remembered. Today they have their own recipes and children of their own. Even holidays don’t involve the time and effort they used to. Store-bought items take the place of the time-consuming hot rolls of the past. Potatoes and gravy are now prepared for you. Even a “home-cooked” turkey can be purchased from your supermarket.

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Although the traditions of the past come in a new form, and busy working mothers don’t have the time to prepare a full spread; people still enjoy sharing food and laughter with those they love. Ordinary food will always taste better in good company. Perhaps that’s what those snorting pigs were trying to tell me so long ago” “Bon Appetite!  Let the good times roll – oink, oink!”

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It’s That Time of Year, Begorrah, for the Wearin’ of the Green

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Fuchsia Fantastic

Fuchsia Fantastic, 16 x 20 acrylic on canvas

I’ve always dreaded St. Patrick’s Day.  Every kid in school was wearing green but me. My mother fashioned a homemade clover pin out of green felt and crepe paper. But since it wasn’t legitimate clothing, I got pinched anyway. “That doesn’t count,” my peers all agreed as they chased me around the playground.

On Wednesday, We have a St. Patty’s Party at our church. I scanned my closet and discovered I still don’t own anything green. What’s with that? I love green, especially grass green. It’s nature’s color, for heaven’s sake! My clothes hangers are full of beiges, browns, whites and blacks, but not a smidgen of green.

My eyes are a mixture of light brown and green. Hazel I write down on required forms. They turn chameleon whenever I wear lavender or peach, and then people say “My you have lovely green eyes.”

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I had an olive green carpet in the seventies. In fact, my favorite color back then was olive green. I not only had a suit and a dress in this color. I was designated a “Fall” by the latest home-party color technologist. Of course, my hair was still brown when I took that first test.

Incidentally my favorite foods are green. I love spinach, avocadoes, lettuce, edame, kale, endive, romaine, peas, green beans, broccoli, asparagus, okra, etc. I’m surprised my skin hasn’t turned green on me.

My kids favorite dip was made with spinach, cream cheese and mayonnaise. When finished, it looked like the Emerald City ; bright green and luminous. When friends came over, my kids told them convincingly it was “green grasshopper” dip. After that its popularity plummeted. Soon the authors of this trickery became a bit squeamish themselves, and that was the end of that.

Popeye & Olive Oyl Salt 'n Pepper Shakers

JUST SOLD ON MY ETSY SHOP: Popeye & Olive Oyl
Salt ‘n Pepper Shakers

My mother was a fabulous cook. She rarely used a recipe and had an instinctive sense of how she wanted something to taste. I tried to coax her out of a few concoctions, but she was more comfortable with her own methods of a pinch here, a taste there, a squeeze of this, a drop of that. Her potato salad was to die for.

My kids would eat no one else’s scrambled eggs; only hers. Whenever she asked “what do you want to eat?” without preamble, they always said scrambled eggs. Her curry was the hit of her pinochle club. I relished the smell of it simmering on the stove.

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Prayer Circles 24 x 18 acrylic on canvas

Mother cooked the way I paint. I like to try new mixtures for a certain look or sparkle; a dab of this, a swap of that. One of my favorite colors is made by mixing one part alizarin crimson with a little bit of orange as in the painting above. If you add a drop or two of yellow, it creates a tantalizing background especially for white.

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Cafe’ Costa Rica 20 x 20 SOLD; prints and gicle’s available

If you mix a dot of cobalt blue with yellow, you can get the exact color of varied shades of green from new bright growth to mature bluish stems.

Green up your world this St. Patrick’s Day and experiment with color!

THE LIEBSTER AWARD – DISCOVERING NEW BLOGS

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1. What made you start your blog?  For many years, I worked as a free-lance writer and also as an artist so I decided to combine these skill sets into a blog. I’m also the mother of six children and was active in my community and church; and participated in my children’s schools as they were growing up. The name of my blog is: “The Art of Living — artwork and musings from my dancing heart.”

 2. What is your greatest achievement?  Overcoming many trials and tribulations, and like Job in the Bible, I’m still standing strong. I have a solid faith in God and in the basic goodness of people. The wisdom I’ve gained in “overcoming” may help someone else hang on just a little longer!

 3. Your favorite animal?  I’m a dog lover and have owned many over the years. I’ve also had a few cats, but dogs remain my favorite animal. Coming in second would be birds. I love to hear them, watch them, and paint them.

 4. Any specific goals for the rest of this year?  I’m doing some Bodoir paintings and a few belly dancers, too. I’m trying to keep them inexpensive and fun. I’ll be adding a few jewels to enhance their costumes, and give them a sparkly flair.

 5. Your favorite quote?  I’ve forgotten the photographer, but I loved his work and his quote: “Find beauty in imperfection.” Sometimes the plain, the broken, the ordinary can become magnificent if photographed or painted with the right emphasis and lighting. You don’t have to wait for something wonderful to come along. Paint passionately what’s right in front of you.

 6. What is your favorite style of cooking?  I’m the soup maker in our household. I love a good bowl of soup and a slice of homemade bread. I could live on this. You can be very creative and it can’t go wrong. Other than that the Mediterranean style of cooking is my favorite.

 7. Your favorite TV series?  “Downton Abby”  I was sad that Season V is over. I love Masterpiece Theater on PBS and the BBC. Excellent programming! I love to watch Shark Tank on CNBC and the new detective series on Fox 4 “Beckstrom.” He’s a pitiful character, but because of it we cheer him on. He embodies human weakness and that is why he’s a good detective.

 8. What’s in your bag (purse or briefcase)?  Make-up for quick repairs! breath enhancers, hand lotion, eye drops, pill box, pens, notebook, credit cards, little cash, sunglasses; nothing unusual, really! I have natural curly hair so I use my fingers rather than a comb.

 9. What do you prefer to use for social media? I spend time where it pays off: Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumbler, Facebook, Pinterest, Fine Art America, Red Bubble, Blog Catalog, and a few others.

10. Your favorite short joke?  I’m hooked on anything “Maxine.” I think she resonates what we all feel. I also like”Ole and Lena” jokes because my husband is Norwegian. I love to hear jokes, but I rarely tell them. I always screw-up the punch line so I won’t tell one here.

 11. What did you want to be when you were a child?  I wanted to be a ballet dancer, hence the title of my WordPress blog: “Musings from my Dancing Heart!” The movie “The Red Shoes” had a great impact on my life. I discovered early on that I had a talent for creative writing and so I pursued this as my parents couldn’t afford dance lessons.

My favorite bloggers are:
http://teagansbooks.wordpress.com/
http://abundantlifeandhealthblog.wordpress.com/
http://monique974.wordpress.com/
http://chinesefoodproblog.wordpress.com/
http://hair68.wordpress.com/
http://AnfinsenArt.blogspot.com/
http://doncharisma.org/
http://freeemployeenewsletter.wordpress.com/
http://www.playwithlife.org/
http://takingthemaskoff.wordpress.com/
http://kelzbelzphotography.wordpress.com/

The Questions I would like you to answer:

  1.  Where do you get ideas and inspiration for your blog?
  2.  How often do you blog? Once a week / 3 times?
  3.  What gets traffic to your blog? Is it subject matter or Tags?
  4.  What is your passion in life? What drives you?
  5.  Do you feel you have something to say to the world?
  6.  Do you blog to feel important or stroke your ego?
  7.  Do you blog to make a difference in the world?
  8.  What is your favorite subject? Does this inspire you?
  9.  Do you make time for friends and family?
  10.  Do you believe in God?  How does your faith assist you?
  11.  Will you still be blogging a year from now? Two years/ What is your long-term goal?

Tis the Season that Memories are being Made All Over the World!

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We usually repeat what’s pleasant: a beloved piece of music, an old storybook, a novel reread until the stitching comes loose on the binding. Old movies are another sweet experience we enjoy reliving over and over again.

Warm memories shared may replay in our minds especially if their associated with a holiday or vacation. Rituals we cherish with those we love are automatically recorded and later brought to mind in times of loneliness or pain.

Before bed, my children adored stories, songs and “cuddles and kisses.” When I was in a hurry, I’d rush through a rhyme my Uncle Walt taught to me: “I’ll tell you a story about Annie and Norrie; and now my story’s begun. I’ll tell you another about my brother, and now my story is done.”

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My kids were so disappointed. “No, no, not that one,” they wailed. Read Go Dog Go!” Dr. Seuss was always a favorite. As a result, a familiar chant “Go, around again, dog” was said when someone had to repeat an action or they wanted a do-over.

The Chipmunks brought us “Pardōn” with the appropriate response: “wee wee, Monsieur.” That phrase still slips out in my speech today, even though no one is around who is familiar with this practice. I respond, even though I’m alone, with an appropriate “wee wee, Monsieur.” Old habits die hard.

If one of my sons came up with a bright idea or outsmarted a brother or a sister, they would put a small finger beside their nose and say: “I be smart” thanks to old “Ben Gunn, a character from “Treasure Island” that they enjoyed imitating. The books we read together and the fun we shared found its way into our vocabulary and in our interactions with others.

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I had a friend who always lamented that she was a “terrible mother.” She wasn’t patient. She was too busy working and didn’t spend as much time with her boys as she would have liked. One day she fell and fractured a rib. In the process of dealing with it, the doctors found she had a tumor on her kidney and was near kidney failure. She immediately went into hospice.

I was there for her funeral. I wondered what these “neglected boys, now men, would say about their mother?” Had they been unhappy? Did they feel ignored and alone?

The memorial service spared nothing. A presentation of slides and photos revealed it all – the happy faces, the rough and tumble play, the picnics and the story telling. One by one each son stood and expressed his love and gratitude toward a mother who never knew, perhaps because they had failed to tell her.

Each son quoted passages from famous authors and their books. Shakespeare was a favorite. Biblical passages once memorized were used in praising her. Some had been used in helping them make difficult decisions in life. Their mother’s influence had been with them throughout their lives and had helped them to cherish great literature, to glean wisdom from its pages, and to live honorably because of it.

This faithful woman had died thinking she was a failure; that she should have done more. Yet her sons had blossomed under her care into doctors, attorneys and teachers. They had become good citizens, neighbors, husbands and fathers. Small and insignificant things do matter!

The unique touch of a mother’s hand can leave an indelible imprint on the future of the world. What if these sons had focused on her deficiencies and mistakes; would they have achieved as much recognition and success as they apparently had? Would they see their lives half-full instead of brimming with laughter and knowledge?

The perfect life doesn’t exist. We never have enough time or money to do all of the things we wish to do before our own demise. Sometimes our bucket list never gets finished. The best we can do is to let the people we care about know how much we love them so they don’t end up like my late friend, never knowing the truth.

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Some of my “Grands”

How you Roast Marshmallows says a lot about you!

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Group Fun Roasting Marshmallows!

Whoever thought that roasting and eating marshmallows was a simple proposition has missed the point. While watching my friends, I decided there definitely are styles and preferences when it comes to this almost lost art. See what it may tell others about you.

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The golden brown marshmallow.

Do you roast your marshmallow a light golden tan and then take pleasure in putting the whole mallow into your mouth and sinking down on the sweet warm center? That puts you in the sensual category. You want to cut to the chase and get down to business as soon as possible. Once you get what you want, you savor each perfect creamy bite.

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Yum — the succulent center!

Or do you fancy a crisp outer covering with a tinge of black? Do you delight in the crust and pull it carefully off the barely warm ball that still clings to the roasting stick? And while you devour that first crunchy mouthful, do you carefully turn the mini-mallow over the fire until it, too, turns dark and crispy? Then you pop its succulent remains into your mouth while grabbing a second marshmallow and repeating the same procedure all over again.

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The crunchy black outer covering.

If this describes your style, you love the process even more than the finished product. You are fun-loving and adventurous. You like being around people and are usually willing to wait for gratification and pleasure. You like to get involved and tackle life’s challenges with zest.

The third type of roaster has distaste for anything sticky or messy. Cautiously they pierce their mallow (or wiener as the case may be) with a stick and then proceed to wipe their chalky fingers on the nearest item available; usually their partner’s pants or on someone else’s shirt.

They stab at the fire a few times trying to find the perfect “hot spot;” and in the process, drop their mallow (or wiener) into the fire where they snatch it back just in time, but not before it’s partially covered in ash. Is this you?

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You’re obviously not a rugged wilderness person. When you finally get your mallow roasted, you seldom want to eat it. But give you a snack from the Ritz or hordevores on a toothpick and you’re happy as a clam. Better yet, give you a dish of crème brû∙lée and a spoon and you’re all smiles.

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But he’s sooo cute!

You’re a high flyer that disdains the lowly practice of roasting marshmallows or wieners. You’re willing to give it a half-hearted attempt and simply go along to get along.

There may be other roasting styles and personality types I’ve missed. If you have a unique story to tell, I’d love to hear it!