Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Today is my birthday. I am turning 60 years old.  I have been dreading this birthday...but, my best friends tell me I don't look or act 60. And, anyway, there is a certain status that comes with being 60, they say.

Lots of things have happened in my life-very happy things, very sad things, very important things.  When I reflect on my life I am thankful for all that I have experienced, and in truth I wouldn't change much. The good thing about getting older is that you gain perspective on all those experiences-both good and bad. How and why I got from point A to point B has become much clearer.

I have also had much good fortune in my life.  I married my high school sweetheart and have four amazing children. I have many wonderful friends. And, I have been blessed to work at something I love.

Fear might be my only regret.  In my 60 years on this planet I have learned that there is great value in being fearless. When I was younger I think I protected myself from situations and people because I was afraid to put myself out there. Now I have a sense of fearlessness and freedom I didn't have when I was younger.

I have had some magical birthday celebrations already, beginning in early December with a huge party in Chicago with all my Gannon siblings, continuing with dinners and lunches out with my family and friends, and culminating today with a special surprise from Kristin who took the day off from work to spend ALL DAY with her 'very old' Mom. With any luck this special treatment will continue throughout the month (:

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Our youngest daughter, Molly, and her boyfriend, Lukas, are engaged! They are estatically happy....and it is infectious. We are all thrilled about their engagement and upcoming wedding.

So, we are in 'wedding planning' mode here. Our conversations now are all about wedding ceremonies, venue locations, guest lists, 'Save The Date' cards, engagement photographs, etc. etc. etc.

How different wedding planning is now then it was thirty-seven years ago when Tom and I got married. We choose a date in October (3 months after we got engaged) that didn't compete with an opening hunting season (seriously), went and talked to the priest we wanted to marry us to make sure he was available that day, booked the church, and began our preparations.  We asked a friend who owned a restaurant if he would do a pig roast in the park near our home for our reception. I made our wedding invitations and sent them; bought an ivory colored dress from my favorite department store. We wrote our vows. When our wedding day came, we were ready.  It was a very simple affair: a big picnic shared with family and friends under a canopy of crimson and gold colored trees. A magical day.

Molly's wedding will be much different then mine. She (and I) will work on her wedding for almost a year. There will be details upon details upon details to work out.

And, I know that Molly and Lukas' wedding day will also be incredibly magical. It couldn't help but be anything else......but, it makes me laugh to think how different our journeys will have been to get to the same place. (:

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Come with me All Hallow's night
We'll frighten everyone in sight
Such pranks for once, are justified
And fun and frolic amplified.

 Samhain, All Hallos Eve, Halloween, Dia de los Muertos (which falls on October 31st) is deep Autumn. Crispy-cold evenings with leaves blowing underfoot and the smell of woodsmoke. Long dark nights with clouds scattering overhead. Chilly mornings that lift damp fingers to a veiled sun.

Samhain is a time of change-for letting go of the old and making way for the new. For many who practice earth-based traditions, it is the turning point of the year, the dark half of the wheel, a time to reach through the veil and communicate with the otherworld.

It is a time for going within to the darkness, into our shadows, and meeting ourselves and those who have gone before....remembering that death is just a phase of our journey.

To celebrate this magical season, we carve jack-o-lanterns and make pumpkin bread from our garden pumpkins. We decorate our home with dried leaves, apples,  pumpkins, Indian Corn, masks, and witches (lots of witches)! We burn spicy-scented candles and take time for reflection in their flickering light.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


As a child I understood the season changes through the portends of nature....the black and orange fuzz of a wooly bear caterpillar foretold the nearness of Halloween, and legend had it that the thickness of her coat foretold how cold the upcoming winter would be. Apple picking meant the end of summer and the beginning of crisp, sweet Autumn. To this day, Fall remains my favorite season. And, I now also know this season-shifting time as 'Mabon', or The Autumn Equinox.

'Mea'n Fo mhair' (which is what the Druids called Mabon), honors the Green Man, God of the Forest. Offerings of libations to the trees in the way of cidars, wines, herbs and fertilizers are appropriate at this time. 

At Mabon the light and dark once again sit facing each other with equal sway. The coolness of the darkness has come to soothe our sun-drenched brows, but we have not yet descended into the dark half of the year. Here in Wisconsin, we are nearing our first frost, but, the days are still balmy and pleasant; yet on the wind I can smell Autumn.

There is something quite alive about Autumn, even though it marks the first 'deaths' as the tilt of the earth takes the northern hemisphere away from the sun. The summer dogs days have passed and it is time to snuggle in, in preparation for winter's coming chill.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Kristin and I loaded up my little volkswagon beetle with Spirit Dolls this week and hit the road on a selling trip. We headed toward Northern Wisconsin's tourist destinations-stopping at little out of the way galleries. We had an amazingly profitable trip! Not only did we sell our Spirit Dolls, but we met some funky shop owners (now new friends); AND along the way we found a quaint antique shop where we bargained for a gigunda box of twisted-up junk jewelry-which we got for a pittance! All it took to uncover our vast treasure was some time and patience for de-tangling.
It was an all around grand adventure.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


The color of buttercups and lemons...my choice of a color theme for summer is YELLOW. Yellow is a vivacious color : energizing in the kitchen and warm in the bedroom-especially when it is drenched in morning sunlight. Yellow is a sophisticated color when paired with white, and dynamic when finished with black edges.
Whether it be amber, butter, mustard, ochre, or saffron, for me, yellow always evokes a sense of pure joy and memories of long, lazy, sunny summer days.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


My friend Scarlette lost her husband a few days ago (and her son just months ago). My heart aches with her suffering, for I remember well how it feels to be in that lonely place of sorrow and loss. When my brother died a little over a year ago, I found some comfort from this poem by John O'Donohue about death. I am hoping that John's words will likewise bring Scarlette a tiny bit of peace in the terrible days ahead.
On the death of the Beloved
John O'Donohue, John O'Donohue poetry, Christian, Christian poetry, Catholic poetry, [TRADITION SUB2] poetry, Secular or Eclectic poetryby John O'Donohue
(1956 - 2008) 

Original LanguageEnglish

Though we need to weep your loss,
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts,
Where no storm or might or pain can reach you.

Your love was like the dawn
Brightening over our lives
Awakening beneath the dark
A further adventure of colour.

The sound of your voice
Found for us
A new music
That brightened everything.

Whatever you enfolded in your gaze
Quickened in the joy of its being;
You placed smiles like flowers
On the altar of the heart.
Your mind always sparkled
With wonder at things.

Though your days here were brief,
Your spirit was live, awake, complete.

We look towards each other no longer
From the old distance of our names;
Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,
As close to us as we are to ourselves.

Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,
We know our soul's gaze is upon your face,
Smiling back at us from within everything
To which we bring our best refinement.

Let us not look for you only in memory,
Where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones.

When orchids brighten the earth,
Darkest winter has turned to spring;
May this dark grief flower with hope
In every heart that loves you.

May you continue to inspire us:

To enter each day with a generous heart.
To serve the call of courage and love
Until we see your beautiful face again
In that land where there is no more separation,
Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,
And where we will never lose you again.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


We are packing up the car getting ready to make our annual July 4th trip to our lake cabin. We will celebrate the long weekend as we always do: sipping steaming coffee on the pier in the early mornings, taking long, leisurely boat rides in the afternoons (and/or playing in the frigid water)...and, as we dance around the campfire every evening, twirling our sparklers and singing 'God Bless America', we will think about our servicemen and women who have made such extraordinary sacrifices so that we might have blissful weekends such as this.
Happy Independence Day, everyone!

Monday, June 13, 2011


In honor of the upcoming Summer Solstice/Midsummer Celebration, Kristin and I have created 'The Maiden'-a beautiful Goddess who celebrates auspicious beginnings, birth, growth, hope and joy.

What is one to say about June,
The time of perfect young summer,
The fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months,
And with as yet no sign to remind one
That its fresh young beauty will ever fade.
~Gertrude Jekyll

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Like Candlemas, Lammas, and Halloween, May Day is one of the corner days which fall between solar festivals of the year (the equinoxes and soltices). The ancient Celts called this holiday Beltane and began celebrating at sunset on April 30th. It marked the beginning of summer, time to move with the flocks up to greener pastures.

Like Halloween, this is a night where witches, faeries, and ghosts wander freely. The veil between the worlds is thin. Many ancient tales tell of faerie sightings on May 1st.

When my children were young, we celebrated May Day by making fresh flower bouquets from the blooming wild flowers and herbs in my garden and whatever we could scrounge up in the woods. Often the lilac bushes were in bloom and we added sprigs of those lovely fragrant posies as well. We made one for each of our nearby relatives and our favorite neighbors....20 pots or more we tied up in shimmering ribbons. 

Then, following May Day ritual lore, we would deliver the flowers to the doorsteps of our family and friends, ring their bell, and run away giggling-thrilled with our secret gift.

The kids are all grown and gone from home now...and we haven't celebrated May Day this way in many years. But, those sweet, magical memories fill me up and make me smile every May1st.

Monday, March 21, 2011


It is the official first day of spring, so I decided I had better choose my theme color of the season. Since my very proud Irish family's favorite holiday has just passed, you may have guessed that I am going with GREEN.
Of course, green must surely be everyone's favorite color right now. After our long, drab winter, it feels good to see the beginning shoots of green life again.

 I love to use different shades of green to paint furniture. And, I am quite partial to green rugs. (The carpet throughout our home is sea green). Green is the color of nature, so it is my way of bringing the outdoors in.

Green is such a positive, energy giving color. Whether it be celadon, chartreuse, clover, fern, kelly, lime, moss, olive, pine or teal....they are all a breath of fresh air.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I found this beautiful poem on Griselda's blog (http://www.awesomepaintings.blogspot.com) this morning. I loved it so much I decided to reprint it here. After researching it a bit, I found that it has often been credited to Maya Angelou, but, in reality was written by Pamela Redmond Satran.
" A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE  enough money within her control to move out 
and rent a place of her own, even if she never wants to or needs to…
A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE something perfect to wear if the employer, or date of her dreams wants to see her in an hour…
a youth she’s content to leave behind….
A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE a past juicy enough that she’s looking forward to 
retelling it in her old age….
A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra…
one friend who always makes her laugh… and one who lets her cry…
A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE a good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in her family…
eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a recipe for a meal, that will make her guests feel honored…
A WOMAN SHOULD HAVE a feeling of control over her destiny.
how to fall in love without losing  herself.
how to quit a job, break up with a lover, and confront a friend without; ruining the friendship…
EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW that she can’t change the length of her calves,
 the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents...
EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW that her childhood may not have been perfect…but its over…
EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW what she would and wouldn’t do for love or more…
how to live alone… even if she doesn’t like it…
whom she can trust,
 whom she can’t 
and why she shouldn’t take it personally
be it to her best friend’s kitchen table…
or a charming inn in the woods…
when her soul needs soothing…
what she can and can’t accomplish in a day…
a monthand a year…"

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Anam Cara* Valentine Blessing 

May the light of your soul guide you. 
May the light of your soul bless the work you do with the secret love and warmth in your heart. 
May you see in what you do the beauty of your own soul. 
May the sacredness of your work bring healing, light, and renewal to those who work with you and to those who see and receive your work. 
May your work never weary you. 
May it release within you wellsprings of refreshment, inspiration, and excitement. 
May you be present in what you do. 
May you never become lost in the bland absences. 
May the day never burden. 
May dawn find you awake and alert, approaching your new day with dreams, possibilities, and promises. 
May evening find you gracious and fulfilled. 
May you go into the night blessed, sheltered, and protected. 
May your soul calm, console, and renew you. 

- John O'Donohue 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


"Midwinter spring is its own season
Sempiternal though sodden towards sundown,
Suspended in time, between pole and tropic.
Whem the short day is brightest, with frost and fire,
The brief sun flames the ice, on pond and ditches,
In windless cold that is the heart's heat,
Reflecting in a watery mirror
A glare that is blindness in the early afternoon.
And glow more intense than blaze of branch, or brazier,
Stirs the dumb spirit: no wind, but pentecostal fire
In the dark time of the year. Between melting and freezing
The soul's sap quivers. There is no earth smell
Or smell of living thing. This is the spring time
But not in time's covenant. Now the hedgerow
Is blanched for an hour with transitory blossom
Of snow, a bloom more sudden
Than that of summer, neither budding nor fading,
Not in the scheme of generation.
Where is the summer, the unimaginable
Zero summer?"
-T.S. Eliot

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Tom and I spent the weekend in Las Vegas. Everywhere we went there were fabulously elaborate decorations of dragons and lanterns in celebration of the Chinese New Year (which falls on February 3rd this year) Oh, and rabbits! 2011 is the 'Year of the Rabbit'. I was so intrigued, when I got home last night I decided to do a little research to see what the Chinese New Year is all about.
It seems that the Chinese New Year starts with the New Moon on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. The 15th day of the new year is called the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated at night with lantern displays and children carrying lanterns in a parade.
The Chinese calendar is based on a combination of lunar and solar movements. The lunar cycle is about 29.5 days. In order to "catch up" with the solar calendar the Chinese insert an extra month once every few years (seven years out of a 19-year cycle). This is the same as adding an extra day on leap year. This is why, according to the solar calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year. New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are celebrated as a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving. The celebration was traditionally highlighted with a religious ceremony given in honor of Heaven and Earth, the gods of the household and the family ancestors. The sacrifice to the ancestors, the most vital of all the rituals, united the living members with those who had passed away. Departed relatives are remembered with great respect because they were responsible for laying the foundations for the fortune and glory of the family.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I like to choose one or two colors to focus my work around each season. In winter's past, I have  decorated my home and centered my holiday creations on: icy blues, traditional reds and greens, one year just shades of reds. Several winter's ago I choose a deep, dark, vibrant purple. This winter, I decided to work with a lovely winter white, or, more aptly, 'Champagne White'-an antique-y white with just a hint of pink. It's the color of the faintest layer in the morning haze, puffy winter clouds full of moisture, glistening snowflakes as they fall to the ground. Champagne White is a creamy, soft, sumptuous color. It is soothing and comforting. Clean and fresh.

Now that the holidays are over, I am tempted to jump right into a new spring color, but, here in the midwest we have another couple months of winter left. Sigh. So, for a tidgy bit longer, I will continue to make some dolls decked out in champagne white. I will leave the ivory pillows on my couch. I will wear my beautiful vintage white wool coat.  I will revel in the shimmering, magical white-ness of the world around me.