Friday, November 30, 2012

Fun Nonsense! ;-)


 This silly little guy makes me think of the "Jubjub bird" :)
(Directions for this kid's craft are found further down in this post )

The "Jabberwocky" and similar nonsense has cropped up unexpectedly in my life in the last couple of days. Since I loved this poem, and the idea of nonsense writing when I was first introduced to it in grade school. I decided something must be telling me to include it here.

 Incidently the same great teacher read the whole of  "The Hobbit" by J.R. Tolkien out loud to our fifth grade class as well - using wonderfully improvised voices for each of the charecters.
Even now, I can still almost hear him reciting the poem below:


’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought-
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.
’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

~ Lewis Carroll 
Source: The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (1983)

My boyfriend is good at making up nonsense phrases. I'm a bird watcher and when we first met he didn't know the names of many birds. I would mention them off-hand, calling them by their common scientific names and he began immitating me saying "Oh, look! There's a purple puffing sadle sucker!" or whatever... he still does this at times just to make me laugh, even though by now he knows the correct name of many more local birds.

Garden Path Sentences

Another interesting kind of writing is the Garden Path Sentence. It isn't actually nonsense writing, but it seems like it at first...until you work it out. I find that if I think of them in a 'before and after' way, like some of the phrases on the TV game show "Wheel of Fortune" my mind can start to wrap around them more easily. Some, you might find, are quite complicated and can become confusing, but fun!

A garden path sentence is a grammatically correct sentence that starts in such a way that a reader's most likely interpretation will be incorrect; the reader is lured into a parse that turns out to be a dead end.  "Garden path" refers to the saying "to be led down the garden path", meaning "to be misled".

Definition and example taken from

Here's an example:

                   Sentence                           Likely phrase                             Final phrase
The sour drink from the ocean.  The drink that was sour...Those who are sour drink from the ocean.

Now see if you can puzzle these out :)

The prime number few.

The man who hunts ducks out on weekends.

When Fred eats food gets thrown.

Mary gave the child the dog bit a bandaid.

I convinced her children are noisy.

The horse raced past the barn fell.

The man who whistles tunes pianos.

The raft floated down the river sank.

We painted the wall with cracks.

If you'd like to learn more about Garden Path Sentences click here

Now here's the instructions for making Silly Lift-Tailed Darts in a Green-Stripe Tree:

This Eco Art Craft is great for kids. It's affordable since it uses only upcycled materials and a little paint and glue. The Birds are created from the lift-off portion of a plastic coffee cup lid.

I used two hand-made paper beads, one larger oblong one for the body and another rounded one for the head. Using a broken toothpick (that I had applied glue with earlier) as the bird's neck, I glued it into one end of the oblong bead and then poked the other end of the toothpick with glue on it into the side of the rounded bead to attach the head. A pointy beak was made out of orange paper from junk mail and glued into the hole at the lower end of the head. A topnotch was made for the crown of the head out of paper easter basket grass and attched the same way. The body's back was then glued to the coffee cup part, with the wing shaped area near the head.

While letting that dry, I painted an interestng shaped branch from the ground outside with green stripes of acylic paint. While the branch dried, I prepared a peanut butter jar lid to use as a base for the "statue" by poking a hole big enough for the branch to fit tightly into in the center of the lid (kids will need help with this) and then glued another color of paper easter grass to the top of the lid. Once the branch was attached to the base with glue and the bird's were glued onto the tree, I glued a small stone found outside at the base of the tree to add wieght to the base.

Maybe you could make up a nonsense rhyme together with your kids, while working on this imanginative craft projec :)))


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

River Cruise


This commemorative paperweight sat on my Mother's vanity throughout my early childhood. I remember her telling me that Grandma & Grandpa Derr had ridden on that ship. Years after my Mom passed away my Dad explained that my Mother's parents had gotten the item as a souvenir of a trip they had taken. I had failed to question my Mom further when I was young and upon asking my Dad, later, if he knew any of the details of their trip, he said that he thought it was a steamship that made river excursions. How romantic that seemed to me, especially since my Grandparent's story was so tragic. He died after only three years of marriage, with my Mom only 17 months old, and my Grandma expecting another child.

Thomas Harold Derr and Mabel Olive Stanton were married on July 28, 1915 in Chester, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Both were 20 years old. He worked as a Miller, and she as a Mill Hand. I am told it was a Grain Mill, and perhaps this is where they first met. Not knowing how long they may have known each other before exchanging rings, and assuming that they had waited until after their marriage to take a trip together, the cruise must have occurred after July of 1915.

In my daydreams I saw them eloping, possibly being married aboard ship. Not knowing then that they were married in Pennsylvania. Or maybe just a short Honeymoon after a hometown wedding, before heading back to work at the Mill. They may have just saved their money after the wedding to take a longer belated trip together. Since there was no mention of my Mom on the ship it must have occurred before her birth in August of 1916. Most likely in late summer of 1915 or in the spring of 1916 before Grandma was too far along in her pregnancy, yet past the morning sickness stage.

The luxurious ferryboat SS City of Detroit III offered elegance usually found only in an ocean liner.

The City of Detroit III first set sail in the season of 1912 and was the largest steel-hulled passenger side wheeler on the Great Lakes at that time. It must have been quite an event for my Grandparents to board the ship only three years later, while it still must have been considered quite an amazing attraction.

The elaborate interior of the ship featured candelabras, balustraded staircases and museum quality paintings.

With twenty-one lavishly furnished parlors and four-hundred and seventy-seven well dressed staterooms, this gigantic drifting hotel was furnished with all the newest enmities and was considered the belle of the Lakes. Imagine Harold and Mabel, two young mill workers, in love and newly married. Even if only standing at the rails for a short ferry down the must have been exciting.

The dining room on the City of Detroit is set up for a cruise.

I wonder if they were able to enjoy the fancy cuisine and exceptional service offered on board, perhaps lunch during a day trip if nothing else. An afternoon spent together in comfort and style...

The ship's Gothic Room.

They say that Honeymooners often stepped aboard the vessel at Detroit or Cleveland and then traveled to Buffalo where transit was available to Niagara Falls. Quite an adventure in those days, and an actual cruise around the Great Lakes would have been amazing as well. I wish I knew the circumstances and how it made them feel.

The steamer City of Detroit III offered elegance in its trips between Detroit and Windsor
and also offered longer luxury cruises throughout the Great Lakes.

I wish the ship was still in service, I would love to re-create what I imagine their trip might have been like and would hope to make it the most extravagant cruise they could have dreamed of.

There are still short 2-4 hour touring or dinner cruises sailing the Detroit River, but nothing in comparison to what a run on the City of Detroit III must have been like.

Information on current Detroit River Cruises can be found here.

Information on other available River Cruises can be found here.

(This story was compiled using clip and photo files with captions of the Detroit News.)

Environmental Irony...


'Winter Solstice' Photo by RLHall, ArtfulExpress

"It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment."
~ Ansel Adams

~ by unknown source*

by Wild at Heart

by unknown source*
* Found on Internet with no copyright source provided.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Why a Gratitude Journal?

I've been journaling off and on all my life. It started with those tiny lock and key diaries that my mom bought me every year when I was just old enough to write. And I've always loved to write. Maybe because of just this type of encouragement from my mother in those early years. But this is the first year I've actually decided to start a gratitude journal. I chose to use the beautiful journal my boyfriend had given me as a gift the year before. It was so nice I had saved it for something special. Perhaps my intuition was telling me that I would eventually learn how important it is to count my blessings.
 I realized, while looking back through my regular journal entries that at times they had become so negative that they became nothing more than bitching sessions. I told myself that it was good for me to let off steam. It was a form of therapy. But as I paged through several journals I noticed that each time I felt neglected or disappointed in myself, my entries became more and more discouraging until I was so disheartened that I even gave up on my journaling for a time. It was evident that the more I complained the more focused I became on the negative aspects of my life.
I've heard and read about gratitude journals for years. I had also been noticing that there was too much negativity surrounding me for some time and I complained that I needed to get away from all that. Suddenly it dawned on me that it wasn't just the cloud of pessimism that was condensing around me - I was now emanating cynicism myself. On a daily basis. What had happened to the strong thread of confidence and contentedness I had always felt within?

 I purposely began extracting myself from situations that were not uplifting to me. I began trying to focus on the positive. When those old depressing subjects were brought up by others in conversation, which they often were... I let it be known that I didn't want to hash through it all again. I wanted to let it go. I wanted to forgive and forget. I began to feel that oppressive cloud lift. 
I paid attention to my feelings. When my body and emotions began telling me that I was uncomfortable or stressed out by certain circumstances that I had tried, but couldn't change, I stuck to my resolve and let go of them. It wasn't easy and often others didn't understand. Especially those who were a part of my perceived outer negative experience. Perhaps because they were also wrapped up in their own ego cocoon just as I had found myself enveloped in mine. I just felt I needed to get back to my old self, and then hopefully surpass that, the way my soul was telling me to.
It helped. As did those loved ones who supported me through it all. I was beginning to feel my old thankfulness returning to me. I began praying more. For those I felt negativity from, and to erase my own. Not asking for what I thought I needed, but thanking God for what I already had in my life. I began noticing the small things each day that bring happiness. I decided that this is what I need to focus on in my new journal - only what I am truly grateful for in my heart. At first I sometimes had to really think of what to write. Now, after a time, I am choosing the best of the best moments of each day. Whether it be fond memories that cross my mind, new revelations, or just sweet loving moments that pass my way. 
Don't get me wrong, there are days when I somehow find a way to be thankful for not having to deal with such and such, or being grateful that I hadn't run into so and so. I still have a long way to go to reach the naturally positive state that I know is within me. But my gratitude journal has given me a reason to watch for the good things that fill each day, to stop to quietly notice the joy that can come from being thankful. Now that I feel more positive, I have decided to add one thing each day that I am grateful for about myself personally. My spirit is starting to feel revived!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Textile Photo Studies


I've always loved textiles and it's interesting taking photos of such materials - seeing how the light, texture and different layers show up in your shots. The irregularities and coarseness that becomes apparent only add to the character of the piece.

These basic  photos can also be manipulated with the simplest digital photo effects to create interesting results as shown in the related sets below. The more layers of effects you apply the more intricate and then unrecognisable from the original photo it becomes.
You don't need to buy an expensive program, just use the very basic tools in your photo saving and sharing file that came with your computer to make many different designs from just one photo. 
Experiment with a copy of an original photo and have some fun!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Work Featured on redbubble Homepage

My work was recently featured on the redbubble homepage as seen below:

redbubble chose my macro shot of a Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly to include on their homepage featured works...I caught his good side :-)

To see the photograph, and more of my work click on the link below:

Butterfly Portrait


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cultivate Patience


 Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.
~ Carl Jung



Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.
~ Brian Adams

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Give thanks for an abundant life.
Every one should count their blessings every day and feel true thankfulness for all that has been given to them. But Thanksgiving Day is the special opportunity for you to share your gratitude with those you are most thankful for in your life. Near or far, estranged or too close for comfort, if you have a bond with them today is the day to be sending out those loving thoughts.
Thank God, or whatever higher power you believe in, for letting them cross your path on your journey through life. Pray that they will be healthy and happy, and vow that you will let them know that you care, if only through small reminders or thoughts and prayers that they are unaware of. Know that they also think of you. 
Pray for those that are revolving around you in your life that are not truly caring. Some are there to bring happiness to some one's life who is near and dear to you. Be thankful that they are there for them and wish them well even as they treat you unkindly. Some are a necessary part of your public life. Be thankful for lessons learned.
Be grateful for those who have left this earthly life. Keep memories of them safe in your heart and never forget the things they have taught you. Let loving gratitude for them radiate from you, and their goodness will continue to shine. Love never dies.
I have recently begun a Gratitude Journal and have been jotting down five things that I am thankful for each day. Some days I am really grasping at straws trying to think of something meaningful that I truly feel thankful for in my heart. But most days, now that I have been doing it for three months, I just listen to my soul and things that I've come to notice as blessings are sprinkled throughout most days. There is so much to be treasured in life. I am beginning to realize that those positive things are so much more important and lasting than the negative things that continue to crop up in my mind in passing. Today's Thanksgiving Day thoughts have made me realize what this gratitude journal has really accomplished for me and I am thankful that it has helped to enrich my spirit.     

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Look Closely at Nature

'Exposure' (c) Rhonda L. Hall
Beauty is Everywhere
'Icy Layers' (c) Rhonda L. Hall


"Anything looked at closely becomes wonderful."
~ A.R. Ammons

'Smatterings' (c) Rhonda L. Hall
“Look closely. The beautiful may be small.”
~ Immanuel Kant
'Veil' (c) Rhonda L. Hall
"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."
 ~ Albert Einstein
"If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly,
our whole life would change."
~ Buddha
"If we look closely we learn that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully."
~ Mathew Fox



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Old Picture Frames Refurbished


My boyfriend bought me a big box of old picture frames at an auction in Caton, N.Y. These three frames were originally painted gold, but were scratched and peeling in spots. I touched them up with a little gold paint and then decorated them...
By gluing Bamboo from an old bead curtain and Recycled Newspaper Squares on the front and then coating them entirely with coats of polyurethane...
What began as old dilapidated picture frames became antique styled frames with an unique oriental look. Perfect for displaying Sumi Paintings or other works with an eastern theme. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Snowy Owl's Perch

Watercolor on paper by RLHall, ArtfulExpress

I have only actually seen one Snowy Owl in the wild. They are usually found farther north in the United States and Canada, but do wander south in some years. More often now, I think, since the weather patterns are changing. Years ago one was sighted in a stand of pine woods near the highway, in my area close to the Southern NewYork border with Pennsylvania. It remained in this unlikely spot, actually just a strip of mostly pines in the median between two lanes, for three years after I first knew of it. Whenever I drove past I looked for it, and sometimes stopped to observe as it perched in a roadside tree watching for prey or took off in a ghostly flight through it's small forest domain. I once saw it fly across the highway to the river that ran along side of the road. And another time I remember seeing it hovering above the water there, apparently fishing. There was also an overflow pond on the opposite side of the highway with a large scrub field between it and the trees that it seemed to call home. I wondered how it withstood the exhaust fumes and the noise of the heavy traffic on each side, but suppose that there it found prime hunting grounds, with all it's needs met in that local environment.

Since, then I have read that Snowy Owls tend to move on from one place to another in three to four year intervals. Due to the life cycles of the rodents that provide most of their food supply. When the rodent populations start dying down, they relocate to an area where the small animals are flourishing. I often think of my wild friend, and still look at that stand of trees as I pass by. I remember thinking that it must have been killed while diving down toward the road to snatch a meal. But now when I think of it, I hope perhaps it just found that it was time to travel off to better haunts.
Comment by: Frangipan
What a beautiful painting, owls have such strong symbolism.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Garden Goldfish Pond that Gazebo Overlooks

This is the small Garden pond that our new Gazebo looks down over. These are pond photos from previous years, but since we just brought the goldfish in for the winter and I also recently posted about building the Gazebo I thought I'd include some summer pond views. 


The garden around the pond is mostly wild flowers, with a section of ornamental grass and some flowering shrubs bordering it. It has admittedly been neglected as of late but is a lovely quiet spot to relax in comparative privacy from the neighbors and occasional road traffic, since it is down over a small bank with the Gazebo and shrubs separating it from the rest of the yard at the end of our road.

It's very pretty with it's colorful rocks and water lily's.

And we always have at least one resident frog and some salamanders.
Along with the Goldfish we introduce ourselves.
 In the occasion that there are no fish in the pond we also get lots of dragonflys, but apparently the fish eat any dragonfly larvae before they can mature...
 Perhaps I should have another small dragon fly pond nearby :-)
But the fish are always fun to watch and make a lovely addition to the pond. They love to play in the waterfall and once they are established you barely have to feed them since they can survive on insect, algae and other plant life in the pond. I train them to come to the top to be fed by splashing my fingers at the surface before distributing the fish food. I've had a couple of fish that would voluntarily swim into and lay in my cupped fingers if I held my hand still just below the surface.
Whether they like the warmth or companionship, I don't know...
These six fish have lived in the pond through two mild winters now, but in colder years they can't survive outside and since this season is supposed to be harsher than last year we decided to keep them in a tank until spring. It looks mighty boring compared to life in the pond, but they seem to enjoy the bubbles and play in them like they do in the pond's waterfall. They also like the stones at the bottom of the tank, which they didn't have in the pond...besides it must be better than freezing in the muck on the pond floor, even if it is over-crowded.
One fish is huge compared to the others and since they were all of similar size when we bought them, I assume that a Koi fish must have gotten mixed in with the smaller Gold Fish. But they all seem to get along fine and I will enjoy watching them through the winter months.