Good morning! Welcome to "Morning Musings".

Musings: to meditate, think, contemplate, deliberate, ponder, reflect, ruminate, reverie, daydream, introspection, dream, preoccupation, brood, cogitate.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Gabriel's Tale - Chapter 7

Welcome back!  This month I felt like watercolor painting.  I experimented with cutting and pasting mainly because I was concerned I'd mess up my painting, so I painted some things separately and then pasted them onto the background.  By the last painting I had a little more confidence and painted every thing directly onto the watercolor paper.  Lack of confidence is a big obstacle in learning to paint.....and it doesn't help if you also don't like to waste expensive watercolor paper!  If I could overcome these two things I think I'd learn much faster.  I also have a few more obstacles like:  being a perfectionist; not liking to have to redo something from scratch (which you almost have to do with watercolor if you make a big mistake--little ones can be corrected with a special "white out"); and the biggest one is not catching on quick enough!  I can be very impatient with myself.

Last month Gabriel's Tale ended with Gabriel falling asleep inside a log during a thunderstorm. . . .

Chapter 7 – Into the Woods

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Gabriel's Tale - Chapter 6

As you will see I was a little more adventurous this month and did several watercolor paintings.  I got stuck right away trying to draw a British stationwagon, but once I found a good photo on-line I was off and running.  If you get a chance to check out Levens Hall you will see it has some truly weird unique topiaries.

I was listening to a TED Talk by a brain researcher who explained how we learn and why at the end of an hour of practicing a new motor skill (like drawing) we may achieve a new level of competence but the next day we have to start all over again.  It's because when we practice a new skill our brains produce a chemical that aids the short-term memory.  But to permanently acquire the skill you have to change the structure of the brain and you can only do that with repetition over a period of time.  So the bad news is you have to practice, practice, practice.  But the good news is it will eventually pay off!

Last month Gabriel had just arrived in Liverpool and left the freighter in a sack.  Here is this chapter's highlights. . . .

Chapter 6 – Liverpool

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Music in the Garden

Last evening we attended Surreybrooke's Music in the Garden event.  Throughout their extensive gardens were musicians playing hammered dulcimers, fiddles, flutes, banjos, guitars, recorders, harps, and mandolins.  Most of the attendees brought picnic suppers and bottles of wine, setting up their own cloth-covered tables with chairs amongst the bushes and under the trees.  I did not record any music but I've put links where I could find them to several musicians on YouTube for you to listen to after you've finished listening to the music I've selected to accompany this post (at the top of the page).  What follows are a few of the photos (to enlarge click on them) of the garden and musicians. . . .
An elfin child resting in the Children's Garden

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Gabriel's Tale - Chapter 5

Thank you for your kinds words and encouragement last month.  I also received encouragement in the form of a video posted on Facebook about the four stages of learning that I wanted to share HERE starting at 1:48 on the video.  The first stage: unconscious incompetence; second stage: conscious incompetence; third stage: conscious competence; fourth stage: unconscious competence.  This helped me a great deal because I realized I've been moving back and forth between stages 2 and 3 and that the reason I'd fallen back into stage 2 is because I'd quit practicing every day.  Last year I was making great progress so I thought I didn't need to practice every day.  But as he explains in stage 4 the ability has to be so ingrained that it becomes unconscious competence because that is when you can draw from the right side of your brain--when you are not having to think about what you're doing.  When you have to think about it you are in the left side of your brain.  There is a great book called "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" that showed me that I DID have the ability to draw.  I did a post about it several years ago HERE.  So I hope by next month's post I've improved greatly.  In the meantime, I will share Chapter 5 of Gabriel's Tale.

Last month Gabriel had made his way to Baltimore and met a dog who told him where he could find the docks.  We begin Chapter 5 with Gabriel trudging along the side of the road, exhausted. . . . .

Chapter 5 – The Voyage

Monday, May 22, 2017

Beyond the Garden Gates 2017

I've chosen a few of the scenes that captured my imagination this year on the Beyond the Garden Gates garden tour held yearly in Frederick, Maryland.  Click the lower-right corner to enlarge the slideshow to full screen and enjoy Secret Garden's "Sleep Song" as you come with me beyond the garden gate to get a peek at several gardens. . . . .


❤️Take Joy❤️

Monday, May 1, 2017

Gabriel's Tale - Chapter 4

Welcome back!  It has REALLY been a struggle for me this month to continue with this project because my garden has captured my attention.  But I finally got the gardening bug-bite scratched and  illustrated the key scenes in this month's chapter.  Please remember these are just snippets of what is going on.  Since I've already decided not to pursue publishing the book, you will never get the chance to read the story in its entirety, so I certainly understand if you want to bail out at this point.  I'm only putting these snippets out into the internet world with the hope that serendipitously a publisher will come by and ask to read my manuscript.

As you may recall last month Gabriel found out from Conner Chipmunk that Poetry and her family had moved to Scotland.  Then the two cats, George and Molly, told him he should try to hitch a ride to Baltimore in the furniture truck that was coming later that morning. . . .

Chapter 4 – The Journey Begins

After the truck was emptied of the furniture George and Molly distracted the driver and his helper.  Gabriel scampered into the truck while the ramp was still down and hid in the back of the truck under a packing blanket.  

George and Molly stood in the driveway, waving goodbye to Gabriel with their tails. 

It didn’t take that long to get to Baltimore.  When the driver opened the back door to the truck he got a big surprise!

“Hey!” the driver shouted as Gabriel scooted from under the blanket and darted past him.  Gabriel leapt out of the back of the truck and did not look back.  He just kept running until he was sure the man wouldn’t catch up with him.  When Gabriel saw an alley he turned into it and found a large garbage container to hide behind.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Wildflower Walk

Easter weekend was our weekend for wild things.  The day before the raccoon made its appearance in my Secret Garden we went on a wildflower walk along the C&O Canal with our guide Mary from the Potomac Audubon Society. . . .

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Gabriel's Tale - Chapter 3

This month Gabriel the little white dog canvasses the neighborhood to try to find one of Poetry's friends who might be able to tell him where she has gone.  I'd written my original stories about the Adventures of Poetry the Calico Cat and Gabriel the Snowman about 20 years ago.  The characters in Chapter 3--Gertrude Rabbit, Benjamin Bee, and Sandy the Do--were featured in those stories.  The cats, Molly and George, were real cats who lived in the real cabin that you can get to through our woods.  My neighbor, Edie, lives there.  I've featured her cabin in a couple of Take Joy Society posts when we've held our get-to-gethers there.  Connor the Chipmunk was another original character, named after Edie's first grandchild who was living in the cabin at the time.

The following are excerpts from the story that go with the illustrations.

Chapter 3 – The Adventure Begins

Gabriel didn’t go far his first day.  He wanted to visit all of Poetry’s friends in the neighborhood first to see if they knew where she might be.  His first stop was Gertrude Rabbit’s hole.  He found it under the bush next door.  He’d never met Gertrude when he was a Snowman, but Poetry had told him about her.  Just as he expected, she was not happy to be disturbed. “Who are you and what do you want!?” she scowled.  Gabriel, forgetting he was now a little white dog, introduced himself as Gabriel the Snowman.  “Harrumph!” Gertrude snorted.  “You expect me to believe that?!”  Gabriel blushed when he realized what he’d said.  After explaining everything to her, Gertrude said rather rudely, “I can’t help you,” then turned and high-tailed it back into her hole.