The Monarch’s Incredible Journey

The iconic Monarch butterfly certainly made an impression on my young self. Late in August we’d be out floating on the pristine marsh rivers of Ontario, picnicking after a swim, and in the balmy afternoon breeze a flutter of orange would catch my eye, brilliant against the teal green water.

In those days I didn’t realize the Monarchs traveled from Canada to Mexico on their monumental migration. I was impressed enough it would head out across the 30-mile span of Lake St. Clair.

Visit the Forest Service page to get all the details about their incredible journey:

Eastern North American monarchs fly south using several flyways then merge into a single flyway in Central Texas. It is truly amazing that these monarchs know the way to the overwintering sites even though this migrating generation has never before been to Mexico!

Monarchs are Threatened

These beautiful and inspiring creatures are facing multiple survival challenges from commercial agriculture, deforestation and climate change.

What you can do:

•Create a habitat in your own garden and in your community. Plant milkweed (Asclepias L), the only species that Monarch caterpillars will cocoon upon. Invite and protect the flashy caterpillars and their homesand you can enjoy the Monarchs rebirth in late summer.

•Support the work of National Wildlife Federation and other organizations that have habitat projects, protecting and replacing lost habitat along highway corridors and agricultural lands.

Support World Wildlife’s efforts to preserve Mexican forests by supporting alternatives to clear cut lumbering.

DO NOT USE PESTICIDES

Please do not use pesticides or herbicides in your garden or lawn. These chemicals have a devastating effect on not only monarchs but all pollinators, the creatures that make our food grow. For assistance with organic gardening practises click HERE.

And, tell me your Monarch stories. I’m sure you’ve got some!

River Painting: Deep Summer Afternoon

I’m in the last throes of completing a series of river pictures that have been ‘almost done’ for weeks now. I nudge each of them forward every time I get out the palette, and yet they seem to stay stubbornly in the ‘not quite yet’ camp. ALMOST!!

Last Sunday I completed this one: (click for larger view)
summerclouds

Deep Summer Afternoon, ©2015
20″ x 16″ Oil on board; $500 unframed

This was one of those summer days when you can feel the thunderstorm wanting to happen. Living on Piscataway Bay gives me the most wonderful relationship with the sky. I am so much more in tune with the movement of weather and celestial bodies than I was living in the big woods.

Moyaone Market this Saturday, October 3rd.

Come on down for new paintings and new things happening at Clearwell Studios

More Summer Painting

I’ve been busy, too busy outside slurping up all the delicious low-humidity summertime that August has brought to Southern Maryland to post work I’ve been doing, so here are a few things I’ve been working on.

click images for larger view

 SummerSolstice3  paintingPisc
 Solstice Sunrise, oil on canvas, 14 x 11″  6am, June 21, 2105 ©Patrise

Color is Life

I’ve written about my struggles with depression; the past few weeks have been challenging, with the loss of a dear friend, a pet’s death, plus health and money woes. My faith has been tried.

Years ago, when a fellow depression-sufferer asked me, in the throes of her illness, “What keeps you alive when things get bad?”  I knew well the feeling, seeking for a shred of hope. As I gazed across the yard, and saw the shaded sky, the mirror lake, the deep green pines, the word just rose to my lips. “Color. I live for color.”

This week I arose before dawn to paint the sunrise. It was ostensibly in honor of Solstice, but in truth it was intended to wrench me out of my sucking depression.

Painting was good medicine. But the Supreme Court decision on Friday, unleashing a tidal wave of rainbows, is really buoying my spirit in splendid waves of shared joy. Hallelujah, it’s a rainbow! May your life be colorful!

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You Never Know

It happens every day. Every second, actually. Someone is breathing one moment, then not the next. It’s nature’s way: we’re born, we die.  But my mind refuses this. No, she can’t be gone, not that kind of gone. Not dead.

The word landed with a leaden thud, flat black, that sucked all the air out of the room. But I need that word. My child’s mind refuses to understand. Dead. Gone.

Monday I got a strange email from a friend-of-a-friend:

“Has anyone heard from F-?”

I called F’s cel, and got a wrong number. Idiot, I told myself, and dialed again. This time, a strange and business like voice answered, and asked me who I was.

“Who are YOU?” I demanded, confused.

“This is [name forgotten], County Sheriff’s department. Are you a relative?”

This was the moment when the chill of dread descended, when I knew something was terribly wrong. Why would cops be answering F’s phone in the middle of the day? It’s not like her to have been arrested, unless it’s finally illegal to be a snarky blogger in Florida.

Nice Sheriff Lady realized she had to tell me now, because, pretty much, I already knew.

“I’m sorry to tell you that F has passed away.”

The room went all echoey. She asked me if I knew any next of kin. Sorry. I was busy falling backwards through a tunnel, remembering last week when I called F on a whim.

“Hey you. Not interrupting a hockey game, am I?”

“You know you aren’t, or I wouldn’t have picked up.” I hear her short breath, sucking that damn cigarette, or maybe just gasping for air.

“I’m just calling with the neighborhood gossip report, and to let you know not to worry about the weather. You should really stop watching the news, you know. Bad for your blood pressure.”

“Well, you never know.” There’s that breath again.

“How’s the Bench?” We can always talk cats.

“He’s fine, but no more catnip for him. He bites me when he gets a buzz.”

I laugh, but now I’m the worrier. The last cat bite was serious.

“Please, Ferne, explain it to him again: you don’t bite the hand that feeds you!”

It was a silly conversation; like Seinfeld, about nothing. We were hanging out over the cellular ether. I want to grab those minutes back, and hold them.

I’ve been looking for photos of her, so far no luck. The last time I saw her was two years ago when I was in St. Pete. We wandered on the beach, went to the movies, ate thai food and hung out with her writer friends. I can still see her, in her Yankees cap and capris, an ageless platinum pixie with a cigarette and a smirk.

Bon Voyage, Ferne. Love ya, and don’t forget to write.

================

Ferne Horner, artist, writer, blogger at the Hairball Gazette  1945-2015 

The Holy land is everywhere.

Astrology Rob Brezhny is a weekly source of inspiration for me, and sometimes he knocks my socks off with a profound connection, a pithy quote, a soulful connection. But today it’s just one simple sentence.

The Holy land is everywhere.

I spent my Memorial Day Weekend basking in my new home, enjoying the neighborhood and the house. This was somewhat a wise decision to keep things low key, and somewhat forced house arrest due to budget constraints. It worked out beautifully. With no dollars to spare my food was humble and home-made, my engagement was with neighbors, friends and pets, and my entertainment came from the cycle of the day.

One splendid evening I took a walk with dog Lily and cat Charlee, and we watched herons wading in the sunset waters of Piscataway Bay.

The Holy land is everywhere.

Who Lives Among the Flowers?

Photo-blogging the summer of 2014

Last weekend I took photos of the magnolia seed pods and sent them to a friend, who exclaimed: “what an awesome praying mantis!”

I hadn’t even noticed the creature when I clicked the shutter. So, I thought, how many photos do I have with accidental critters in them? A few. But if I expand the concept, I have a great many images of life among the flowers.

Most, but not all, of these images have animals among the blossoms. Human animals included. In a few, like the first, the wildlife is invisible. It’s been a colorful year!

IMG_2485

Fairy house on Capitol Hill

LilyLaikaAzaleaPoodles Lily & Laika in Congressional Cemetery

IMG_3597Compulsive Gardener Glee

IMG_2757 Jose visits from the Left Coast

IMG_2773 Lynn and her lovely daughters, plus Hunter

IMG_2948Laurels blooming on NoName Road

IMG_2708Freya

IMG_3602Pollinators at work

IMG_3274Blogger in Bliss

IMG_3387 Silver-bordered Fritellary on Echinacia

IMG_3348  Boats & Day Lilies

IMG_3217 Zebra Swallowtail on Buttonbush

IMG_3207Carol sunning

IMG_3447Lotus in the Mattawoman, flood tide. Who swims below?

IMG_3416Forest spinner

IMG_3614Southern Magnolia pods and mantis

Art in the Open Air Studio

Painters have been busy in the beautiful open-air studio here in the Swamp Forest, my pet name for Piscataway NP’s hidden Moyaone neighborhood, just south of DC. The mild summer temperatures have made outdoor art a pleasure, and my students and I have been taking advantage of this.

IMG_1697
New Mexico ©2013 Neil W. oil on canvas

Meet Neil, Accomplished Oil Painter

At the ripe old age of 15, Neil is quite handy with a brush. He and I have worked together for about 2 years now, and I’ve had the joy of watching him gain mastery over this ancient technique.

Neil loves the landscape; he’s a hiker and a camper, active in Boy Scouting and soccer, so for him, plein-aire painting is just another outdoor activity – one he really enjoys.

Bumpy Oak Road, ©2013 Neil W.
Bumpy Oak Road, ©2013 Neil W., oil on panel

We’ve worked on-site and in the studio, in fast-drying oils on paper, canvas and panel in a variety of sizes. Neil has a great sense of composition —the fundamental arrangement of shapes within a painting — a tough skill to lear, or teach. He’s learned a great deal about the nature and science of color, pigments, and how to mix colors that create the illusion of space and shape.

Neil will be exhibiting in his first show, the Charles County (Maryland) Arts Alliance Fall Art Show, a multi-media public exhibit, to be held at the Waldorf West Library, 10405 O’Donnell Place, Waldorf, MD, from October 2 to December 30, 2014. 

A “Meet the Artists” Public Reception will be held on Saturday, October 4, from 2:00 to 4:00 pm, at the  Gallery to honor all the artists participating in the fall show.

For more information on the Waldorf West Library Gallery or the Charles County Arts Alliance, call the CCAA office at 301-392-5900, or email info@charlescountyarts.org.

For more information about art lessons contact me with a comment here or email patrisehenkel@gmail.com

Alive Inside, the Power of Music

When my father was in Hospice in has last three days of life, he relaxed, grateful that no one was forcing him to eat or go to appointments. He dozed, phasing in and out of awakening. He heard a wisp of something and asked me:

nanaGoldy“What is that beautiful song?”

I listened, and heard the strains of The Godfather’s haunting theme, floating in from someone’s tv down the hall.

He began to sing  “Dah, dada da, da dah,” very softly.

Inspired, I went to his home, got a portable music player and grabbed some cassettes from the car. They were the filled with the theater pipe organ music he adored, and I hurried back. When I tucked the light headset around his ears, his eyes flew open and he beamed at me, grinning with delight. For the next 2 days, he smiled and dreamed and hummed along to his favorite tunes.

Later that day I went to the meditation garden and heard a song come, not on the breeze but into my mind. It was Greensleeves, my mother’s favorite tune. I shivered, then welcomed her gladly. She had been gone nearly 9 years by that time. I felt as if she walked with me back to his bedside for those final hours.

Last night’s concert (see previous post)was a heart-overflowing event where the music community showed love and support for its own. But what about that which they offer us? What is the value of music?

There’s a new film coming called Alive Inside, that may help answer that question. It’s about the work of social worker Dan Cohen and his Music & Memory™  program.

TerryMom
Terry with her mom, 94

Music & Memory is a non-profit that brings personalized music into the lives of the elderly and infirm, training nursing home staff and elder care professionals to create and provide personalized playlists to enable those with memory and cognitive disorders to reconnect with the world.

My dear friend Terry Nicholetti, a DC actor, has known about this power for years. She cares for her 94 year old mother, who long ago lost her capacity to remember or even speak, the result of Alzheimer’s disease. Terry takes her guitar to of the nursing home and plays old-timey songs for the Memory-Care patients, most of whom do not speak or even interact. They often will respond with enthusiasm, some even singing along. Their musical memory is intact when other pathways may be long gone.

“American culture is wrong: there is actually life beyond adulthood. The aging we experience holds very important learning and lessons.  Theres the opportunity to live and grow and become elders. No pill does that.”

from Alive Inside