Tuesday, June 24, 2014

7:30 BELLS: Beauty is a Bridge to Metaphor

Canoeing on the Black River near Olympia, Washington, I was entranced by the lonely pillars of this old bridge. First, I was caught by their rusted rose-colored beauty and their worn texture. Then by what they are now in contrast to what they once were--a bridge spanning a river. Behind them, log pilings stretched to the far bank.  On some, trees now grew surrounded by water.

I thought of that old saying, “never burn your bridges.” But sometimes, bridges we've built in the past are no longer needed. Sometimes, we should purposefully abandon them so we can journey somewhere new in our lives. 

But, as the pillars of this old bridge remind us, it is important to honor the old places we went, the people we once were, the things we once made or did. Just because something that was right for us once is no longer right now, doesn’t mean we should regret the bridges of our past. They are monuments to our continuing journey.  The journey may now takes a different road over a different bridge over a different river, but that doesn’t mean the earlier way was not good or worthy.

Sometimes what first catches our attention is how beautiful something is. Beauty makes us stop and look closer. Then our imaginations open to meaning and metaphor. While I thought the old bridge pillars beautiful, it was their meaning that made the bells ring.

Beauty is a bridge
leading us to meaning

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday
 of every month. Join me on July 8 for a guest post with 
Edgar winning author Dori Hillestad Butler.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

7:30 BELLS: “The Way Through”


“The Way Through” is a show by artist Joyce Gehl of haunting, pastoral dreamscapes—encaustic paintings. It's also the title of one of my favorite paintings in the show. Maples trees with soft red leaves and, between them, beckoning corridors of golden light.

I wish I could spend a solitary hour just dreaming into this painting. I could walk right into it and end up in some forgotten garden in my subconscious—somewhere unknown, but somewhere I'd definitely want to find myself. All of the paintings in the show, currently at the Patricia Rozvar Gallery in Seattle, are dreamscapes of flowers, leaves, fields. The painting titles, such as “A Shadowed Place to Sit and Sing,” invite you into poetry.

The many layers of wax used to build up an encaustic painting gives a translusence that adds to the hypnotic effect.

Seeing this show made the bells ring and ring. This might have something to do with my own dreams of late, that I need to be “in the company of trees.” In one of these dreams, I longed for wonderful trees, but doubted whether they even existed. “There are such trees,” I reassured myself in the dream, “but you have to go far to find them.”

I have been exploring ways to do just that. And Joyce Gehl’s work encouraged me to keep searching for my own "way through.” It encouraged me to go far
far into my art, my dreams, my deepest self—to find what I'm seeking.

Entering another artist's work
take us toward dreams of our own.

Note: Twenty-five years ago, I shared office space with Joyce Gehl. She was a graphic artist, I was a lettering artist. She brought her sweet dog with her to work, the good and noble Gabby.

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday of every month. 
Join me on July 8 for a guest post with Edgar winning author Dori Hillestad Butler.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

7:30 BELLS: Dads and Bells--Guest Post by Author Joan Holub

Just in time for Father's Day, JOAN HOLUB--the imaginative, humorous, and prolific author of over 100 books for kids--shares a cheering memory of dads and bells.

Bells remind me of my dad. Also of winter sleighs and cathedrals, but since it’s almost Father’s Day, I’m thinking of the bell my dad used to ring to call us kids to dinner from the far flung places we were playing in our neighborhood. The bell has been lost in time, but it looked sort of like this one, only with decoration carved on the bell part.

I don’t know when my parents decided to get that bell. After years of standing in our yard growing hoarse calling our names, I guess they got desperate for a different way to summon us home.

When we were kids, the front of our house faced suburbia. Out back, there was a swimming pool (the sole reason we kids voted to buy this particular house). And beyond that was a great expanse of undeveloped wilderness. It was a jungle of trees, tall grass, bugs, weird outdoorsy noises, and brisk air. In our wilderness, we built forts out of moss and sticks. We built a tree house. We had arguments and pretend wars, we put on plays, we made up scary stories about things that lurked around us, we told secrets, and we got minor injuries. I brought home bits of rock, sticks, feathers, and stuff like that and made all kinds of craft projects.

Our parents weren’t really worried about us out there. At least, I don’t remember them being nervous or cautioning us. However, they could never find us when it was time for dinner or when they simply wanted to check on us, or when it was growing dark. The sound of that bell could be heard everywhere. It meant “Dinnertime!” or “Come home!” or “What are you up to?”

My dad would wait out there till we showed up, then wave, and herd us all in the house. Bells and dads. A happy memory of my mighty dad.

Bells can call us home

Joan Holub is the author of Mighty Dads (Scholastic Press, 2014), illustrated by James Dean, creator of Pete the Cat. Mighty Dads is a picture book about various mighty dad trucks that pave the way for their little trucks and cheer them on at the construction site, just like mighty dads do in real life. Joan has written many other children’s books, including Little Red Writing (Chronicle Books), which Dia Calhoun helped critique!   http://www.joanholub.com

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday of every month. 
Join me on July 8 for a guest post with Edgar winning author Dori Hillestad Butler.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

7:30 BELLS: Forest Doorway—When to Trust Change

 See the narrow doorway opening in the green wood? See the bright leaf-path swirling up to the door? The doorway is dark, what waits across the threshold unknown.

When change beckons us, we often don’t know what shape it will take in our lives. We can’t see past the doorway and so fear to step inside. But when all the signs feel right—the woods, the shining leaf stepping stones, the vitality of the ringing green—you can trust such a doorway, because you can trust such a path. You have taken the right steps to arrive here, followed the right process. So seize the moment of light and enter before the doorway closes.

Or maybe the path is the footprints of light left by someone who has already stepped inside the doorway.  Someone, perhaps, who doesn’t even know that yet.  Maybe that someone is you.

Trust steps of light 
that lead to unknown places, 
and the bells will ring

7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.

7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday of every month. 
Join me on June 10 for a guest post with author Joan Holub.

Monday, June 2, 2014


Spotted on a walk along the beach path in West Seattle's Lincoln Park. Note the shoe, green-hatted gnome, and just below it, the arrangement of colorful stones. Not a still life, but a "Found Life." I love that someone did this.