Thursday, December 26, 2013


December 25, 2013
‘Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but, the fire is so delightful,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…”

It is a blustery cold day in Wisconsin, but I am cozy and warm tucked in next to a roaring fire, sipping spiced cider while the heady scents of balsam and the soothing sounds of ‘A Celtic Christmas’ fill the house. What’s not to like about winter?!

Life has given The Gannon Family many joyous moments this year, and I am grateful.  In early fall, both Brittany and Chad found new jobs in Madison. Chad is putting his artistic skills to use at Fast Signs, and Brittany took a Marketing job downtown. And, although they originally moved into their McFarland condo as a temporary situation, and often talk of moving to Madison, I will enjoy having them close as long as possible.

Kristin began her eleventh year of teaching Art this year when she returned to Beaver Dam Middle School. She truly ‘gets’ those 6th, 7th, and 8th graders (and I’ll bet the feeling is mutual!) Michael is the Bar Manager at one of our favorite restaurants, ‘1855’ in Cottage Grove. The real fireworks in Kristin and Michael’s year of course, happened over the July 4th weekend. Romanced by beautiful Presque Isle Lake in northern Wisconsin, Michael proposed! They plan to have their wedding ceremony on the lake this coming summer.

Our Chi Town contingent also had a momentous year. In September Molly and Lukas bought their first home and moved from bustling downtown Chicago to the quiet suburbs of La Grange Park. Although it has been quite a change, they are already adapting to suburbia! Molly continues to work as an Account Manager at Plan B Advertising, and Lukas is a Program Manager at HIMSS.

Austin has had another lucrative year selling Real Estate for The Gannon Company. Multi-family housing continues to be popular here in McFarland, and condo/duplex construction, sales, and rentals have kept both Austin and Tom quite busy. Austin also bought some land and is looking forward to building his own home next spring.

After many years of creating and selling my artwork, I decided I needed a change and closed my little business, Rhinestone Gypsy. I am not sure what I will do next, but I know it will include fun and whimsy!

Tom and I took a short trip to Charleston, South Carolina in February. We loved the quaint cobblestone streets, the gorgeous old architecture, the many art galleries and museums, and of course, the decadent culinary delights of the south!

In September we enjoyed a little getaway to sunny San Diego for our niece, Kendall’s wedding. She and Chris were married in a charming outdoor setting nestled in the mountains of lovely Rancho Santa Fe. Tom’s seven sisters and spouses were all able to make the trip to California as well, so besides wedding fun; we enjoyed a special Gannon Sibling Reunion.

In early October Tom went on a ten-day moose/bear hunt in the rugged, remote backwoods of British Columbia. He didn’t bring any moose or bear home, but he did bring back some breathtaking photos! What a gorgeous area of the country.

And so, as the year circles around again and we approach this season of giving, my heartfelt wish for you is, as always, for a new year abundant with rich and rare moments spent with those you love.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Our family loves to play pranks on one another, and not just at Halloween. It is kind of a prerequisite to joining the Gannon Clan. Get a few of the men together and you better be prepared for some unexpected hocus pocus.

This 'trick', however, did take place on Halloween...a dank, dark night more then 20 years ago. There were a bunch of us up at the Gannon Family cottage in northern Wisconsin to celebrate the holiday weekend.  On Halloween night we had taken all the kids to a costume party put on by the local Grade School.

We returned to the cabin after dark and had just settled in, the kids sorting through their stash of candy, when suddenly the lights went out! All the kids (and most of the adults, too) screamed and groped for one another in the pitch black room while someone scurried to light candles.

After the candles were lit and we were milling about,  suddenly one of the kids let out a blood curdling scream! There at the dark picture window, his nose pressed to the glass, appeared an illuminated, grisly,  monstrously ugly face! After several terrifying minutes, (he made sure all the kids were crying) Ray flipped a switch from the basement and the lights came back on. 'Lumerjack Pete' (we later named him. He was, after all, a north woods ghoul) had disappeared.

It took the kids a long time to settle down....and even after we made Tom-repulsive mask, flashlight, and ladder in hand-come clean, not many of the kids slept a wink that night.

It was quite a memorable frightful 'trick' by the Master Pranksters. A trick that was not appreciated by all. But, a trick we still talk about almost every Halloween.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Our daughter, Kristin, and her boyfriend, Michael are engaged. On the last day of the long July 4th weekend at the cabin, as they were sitting on the pier saying their final good-byes, Michael got down on one knee and proposed!

With the shimmering blue waters of Presque Isle Lake at their feet, the heady scent of pine in the air and Michael whispering words of love, the seductive setting could have come straight from a romance novel (:

Kristin has always been our free-spirited, wild life in her own quirky way (which is what we love about her)  so we are excited to see what unique and creative ceremony she and Michael will plan.

Congratulations, Kristin and Michael. xo

Monday, July 1, 2013


"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

I had the most amazing 6th grade teacher. She was a solitary and soft spoken woman, but, she commanded great respect. She was quite unconventional, allowing her students to learn in off beat ways; one of my favorites was by creating our own 'projects'. Our school day wasn't divided into classes, but, often into 'sharing' the books we were reading and the projects we were working on....which always culminated in lively discussions and debates.

Another learning tool she used was to have us memorize several important historical documents, poems and declarations-The Gettysburg Address, The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, The Bill of Rights, and the poem written at the base of the Statue of Liberty, 'The Colossus'- to name a few. We were given the list at the beginning of the year and told we had all year to learn/memorize at a time, at our own pace. When we had memorized one of those declarations, and we felt ready, we stood in front of the class and recited that particular document, poem, etc. Our teacher then checked that one off our list. Each of us continued this way until we had memorized and recited all of the documents/poems/declarations.

I actually enjoyed the memorizing, but, didn't honestly think that I would remember any of it after that year. But, I was wrong. To this day I can recite parts of all of the documents.  I know most of the Gettysburg Address, the Colossus on the Statue of Liberty, and the important parts of The Declaration of Independence.

Every July I think about the many freedoms and blessings I enjoy living here in the United States of America, I also remember my amazing teacher whose idea it was that I learn those vestiges of American History and why they were so important to my life in 1964.

I heard that Miss Seagren died last week at the age of 98. With her passing, I mourn a beautiful human being and an incredibly inspiring teacher.

 Happy Independence Day, Miss Seagren.

"The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Everything I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my mother.
-Abraham Lincoln

My Mother is a child of the Depression. That had a profound impact on her life, and the woman she became. Hard working. Independent. Selfless. Strong.

But, maybe my Mother’s greatest attribute is that she has such a big heart. She is compassionate and caring, always there to lend a helping hand to a family member, neighbor or a friend.

In her family of eight-seven brothers and sisters-four have been claimed by cancer. My Mother helped care for three of them (her oldest brother lived far away or I am sure she would have been there for him as well) in their final months. We also lost my brother to cancer three years ago and my Mom fought tirelessly right along side him for the last year of his life. As I write this post, her oldest sister struggles in the end stage of lung cancer. Mom is there with her. Holding her hand. Supporting her. Loving her.

 Life is full of chaos and uncertainty. But, My Mother has always been the one I go to when I need a soft place to fall.

I Love you, Mom.
Happy Mother’s Day.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Let us bless
The imagination of the Earth,
That knew early the patience
To harness the mind of time,
Waited for the seas to warm,
Ready to welcome the emergence
Of things dreaming of voyaging
Among the stillness of land.

And how light knew to nurse
The growth until the face of the Earth
Brightened beneath a vision of color.

When the ages of ice came
And sealed the Earth inside
An endless coma of cold,
The heart of the Earth held hope,
Storing fragments of memory,
Ready for the return of the sun.

Let us thank the Earth
That offers ground for home
And holds our feet firm
To walk in space open
To infinite galaxies.

Let us salute the silence
And certainty of mountains:
Their sublime stillness,
Their dream-filled hearts.

The wonder of a garden
Trusting the first warmth of spring
Until its black infinity of cells
Becomes charged with dream;
Then the silent, slow nurture
Of the seed's self, coaxing it
To trust the act of death.

The humility of the Earth
That transfigures all
That has fallen
Of outlived growth.

The kindness of the Earth,
Opening to receive
Our worn forms
Into the final stillness.

Let us ask forgiveness of the Earth
For all our sins against her:
For our violence and poisonings
Of her beauty.

Let us remember within us
The ancient clay,
Holding the memory of seasons,
The passion of the wind,
The fluency of water,
The warmth of fire,
The quiver-touch of the sun
And shadowed sureness of the moon.

That we may awaken,
To live to the full
The dream of the Earth
Who chose us to emerge
And incarnate its hidden night
In mind, spirit, and light.

-- from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, by John O'Donohue

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


On Monday I let go of my hair.
Snipped my strands.
Braved the submission to sissors.

I had been growing out my color for a few months so that I could just let the grey....well, be grey.  But, the half color half grey look was so not attractive. So, I decided all the long curly auburn locks must come off. When my stylist was done I had Fantine-short hair!

I don't know what was more shocking to me-the short cut or the totally (almost) grey head of hair I now sport.  It was rather traumatic.

But, that was Monday. Since then I have embraced my new look and can't imagine ever having long hair again. My morning routine is so much easier.  My hair takes ten minutes to style, and once it is styled, it stays that way all day. And, I feel so much lighter.  And adventuresome. And, hipper. (short short pixies are 'in').

What freedom!

Monday, March 4, 2013


“In Dublin's fair city,

where the girls are so pretty,
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone,
As she wheeled her wheel-barrow,
Through streets broad and narrow,
Crying, "Cockles and mussels, alive, alive, oh…!"

St.  Patrick's Day was established as a way to recognize Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Originally it was a religious holiday, however over the years as Irish immigrants spread out over the United States, many cities developed their own celebrations and traditions. 

One of these is Chicago’s annual dyeing of the Chicago River green.  The practice started in 1962, when city pollution-control workers used dyes to trace illegal sewage discharges and realized that the green dye might provide a unique way to celebrate the holiday. That year, they released 100 pounds of green vegetable dye into the river--enough to keep it green for a week! Today, in order to minimize environmental damage, only 40 pounds of dye are used, and the river turns green for only several hours. Still, quite a fun thing to see.

I belong to a proud Irish family who celebrates St. Patrick's Day in a big way. On March 17th we will join the millions around the world who will don a bit of green and celebrate the Irish with parades, parties, good cheer, and of course, a pint of beer!
'Molly Malone' is now for sale in out etsy store.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I originally posted this entry in 2009, right after I first began my blog....then somehow deleted it while I was 'cleaning up' my posts. I rather like it's message, so I decided to try it again.
In the Celtic tradition, there is a beautiful understanding of love and friendship. One of the fascinating ideas here is the idea of soul-love; the term for this is Anam Cara. Anam is the Gaelic word for soul and Cara is the word for friend. In the early Celtic church, a person who acted as a teacher or spiritual guide was called an anam cara. Someone you could share the intimacies of your life with. When you had an anam cara, you were joined in an ancient and eternal way.  You had a 'friend of your soul'.

Eventually anam cara became the description for an intimate and special companion.

I love this concept and feel blessed to have so many anam cara in my life.
I have two girlfriends that I met over 40 years ago during my freshman year of college. We have remained very close throughout the years-sharing one another's joys and sorrows along our varied life paths-and now find ourselves in about in the same place. Our children are gone and we are focusing more on ourselves. We've made a pact to live richer, wilder, juicier lives. We are trying to forge new careers making art, and often travel together to local art shows and fairs, making each a grand adventure. We often arrange overnight "brainstorming sessions", which always include lots of red wine and soulful chats. My Whimsy Sisters are my mirror.

I have a girlfriend who is my muse...she keeps me inspired with her zesty bits of wise advice/stories/quotes about life. I admire her so.

I have a girlfriend I met two decades ago at a work related conference. I was drawn to her whacky sense of humor immediately. I rarely see her, but, we chat via intimate, exuberant e-mails. She fills me with joy.

I have a group of girlfriends from "my neighborhood". We met when our boys were young, and have remained close, now long after our children have left home...meeting to lunch and shop and laugh. They are my tonic.

I have new girlfriends whom I have recently met through my artist community, ETSY. They support me and and challenge me. I feel so blessed to welcome them into my life.

I have my sister (who loves me in spite of all my flaws), and seven sisters-in-law. We share that messy, family blend of celebrations and challenges between us. Our relationship is lovingly rich and rare.

I have my Mom. My my safe place to fall.

And, I have my three daughters. My beautiful and brilliant daughters. We have an amazingly nourishing bond...sometimes I think we truly are fragments of one another.

I acknowledge all my dear girlfriends with a very full heart.

Friday, February 15, 2013


Nature reminds us that we are always on a journey from darkness into light. We are formed in the darkness of our mother's womb. Our birth was our first journey into light. Each day we awaken from the night into day. The dawn is a refreshing time-full of possibility and promise. All of nature-stones, fields, rivers, and animals-are suddenly anew in the fresh dawn of light. 

Our year is also a journey of the same rhythm....we come out of the darkness of winter and into the possibility and effervescence of springtime.

These long winter days make me long for that light: the warmth of the sun on my face, the heady air filled with birdsong, the first snowdrops peeking through our persistent snow.

Please hurry, Spring!