The Art of Fluid Acrylics ~ by Artist Joyce Boyce

Clock

My expressive paintings are process driven; a meditation that allows me to tap into a connection to the world around me. Words, rhythms, images, sounds, and experiences that evoke a visceral response in me become the source and the reservoir that I draw from when I paint. 



Zia
Manipulation of paints and additives are used to create tension: warm colors vs. cool, texture vs. smooth. A painting is not complete until I sense in it a certain life or spirit. 
4 x 4 heat resistant coaster tiles

Ultimately, it is all about the process and the physical act of creation, becoming the brush, responding to the surface, the discovery, and the evolution of the painting as it changes. It is finding just the right balance between intention and intuition to bring the composition to a satisfying conclusion.

The dynamics of each fluid acrylic painting, coaster, or piece of jewelry can never be precisely duplicated; therefore, the uniqueness of individual pieces are treasured as being a window into the spiritual nature of life. 
Fluid Acrylic Handmade Jewelry

Individual financial budgets for art vary, and I consider that when we meet to discuss what your vision is, what you would like me to create. I create art for anyone who wishes to own a unique creation from my studio for any budget. I guarantee it will be a piece of artwork you will appreciate and love for many years to come.
Fluid Acrylic Handmade Jewelry

My art work includes recycled LP records that I turn into clocks, high heat resistant ceramic coaster tiles, 3D sculptures-like the beautiful Zia, and many on canvas of all sizes. My work is represented in Galleries in Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico. I would love for you to visit me and my studio.

Joyce Boyce, an emerging fluid acrylics artist, resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is self taught in the creation of this unique style of expressive art representing the emotional challenge of allowing the mixtures of paint, additives and gravity to become the master of the artist rather than the artist mastering the paint. Her varied styling allows for organic shapes to spontaneously appear creating a free-flowing composition of motion and energy, evoking a feeling of peace and calmness or of conflict and turbulence as the viewer meditates on the symbolism that speaks directly to them. To learn more about what Joyce offers, you may contact her via the links below.

INSTAGRAM
EMAIL




Summertime Fun ~ by Jennifer Daniels



When you live in Upstate NY you don’t have to go far to see some awesome sights and have some fun. I went on an overnight visit to Albany, NY this month for my great nephew's First Birthday party. On my way, I took a few pictures. I would have taken more, but I got caught up in my crocheting.


These pictures were taken between High Falls Gorge in Wilmington, NY and Albany. If you're into Hiking, whitewater rafting, or sightseeing, this is one of the extraordinary places you can come and visit to take in the sites. The mountain views are incredible to see, everything looks so green and fresh. But, if you want to see an even better sight, come during the fall when the leaves are changing into incredible reds, oranges, and yellows. The smell of the air is so crisp during the fall season.


My next day trip was an Uncle Sam’s Boat Dinner Cruise in Alexandria Bay, NY. It was such a nice day to go, the weather was beautiful for an evening ride. My husband and I wanted a date night so we chose this to do. And we made the perfect choice. There are a variety of choices you can make when you go on these cruises. They even have a cruise that will bring you to see Singer Castle or Bolt Castle. The photos are of Bolt Castle during the daylight and one at dark. It’s an amazing site to see and the castle is fun to tour. On the Fourth of July they always have fireworks. Everyone goes and parks their individual boats out in the shallows to watch the show. We once stayed the night on our boat to watch the display and the next morning we enjoyed our coffee with the incredible sight of the castle and the clock tower.






But we also got to see a ship and enjoy the gorgeous views of the St. Lawrence River.


Now I bring you back to Star Lake, NY... where I spent most of my summer days as a kid growing up. This was an evening raft ride my family went on and we saw some of our local wildlife. The Crane, or Mud Hen as many others call it, was sunning itself and enjoying the peace and quiet until I had to go snapping pictures of it. I tried to get a good picture of it in flight. Then we came upon a Loon. I love to listen to them. Their calls always sound so calming in the early mornings, and in the evening after the lake has quieted down after a busy day.





I hope everyone enjoyed their summer. It always seems to fly by so fast, one minute you're swimming, and overnight the weather changes and now it’s time for my son to go back to school. I’m not ready and neither is he… Until next time. I hope you all enjoy and have a safe Labor Day!


Photographs and Memories ~ by Grace Augustine

I didn’t have the luxury of knowing my father because he passed away when I was 9 yrs. old. Sure, I remember bits and pieces of him: the fragrant cherry tobacco from his pipe, the silk shirts, the wool pants, the Roi Tan cigars and using the cigar boxes for my crayons.

I’ve done search after search through most of the ancestry sites, trying to find out more about my heritage, mainly, my dad.

What I do know 
      • He stood 5’4” tall
      • He had tattoos on both arms, a dancing girl and something to do with the US Coast Guard.
      • He was born in Malalos, Philippine Islands in 1889 (yes that is not a typo)
      • He came to the US and lived with an uncle in California
      • Found his way to Port Angeles, WA and Victoria, British Columbia Canada
      • Served in the US Coast Guard as a cook on board the USS
McCullough
      • Was a cook at a local restaurant in Shelby, Montana
      • Married my mom in 1944
      • Died in February 1966
I also remember he loved eating fish and rice doused with soy sauce.

What I don’t know that I’d like to know: 
      • Was he compassionate?
      • Did he like children?
      • What did we do together when I was younger that brought him joy?
      • What wisdom would he give to my sons?
      • Would I have turned out differently if I’d had his teaching while growing up?
      • Would life have been different if I’d had both of my parents?
      • How would he have counseled me in various situations?
      • Was he a hugger?

So many questions that will never be answered. So many times I wish I’d had those opportunities to hold his hand, to walk with him, to go to different daddy/daughter things, to have a hug and hear I love you.

All I have are photographs and a few memories. 

Repoussoira-Push Back. Why is the Sky Blue? By Ralph Duncan

Whether I am doing a drawing, painting or a carving I use my work to communicate to the viewer a thought – a story – or a feeling.  Very much like a writer. This is the ultimate goal. But, how does that happen? Is it just about picking the right subject matter? Or the perfect composition? Of course, these are important for developing a piece of art that speaks to a viewer. However, there are other techniques that are used that are often not specifically noticed by the viewer but are key in telling the story.

I get hints that the story and the techniques are at play from comments like, “the subject seems to 'pop out' from the background." When that happens, then I feel like I am on the right track and have connected with the viewer. But, this does not happen by accident. The techniques I employ can be lumped into a French term: Repoussoira–loosely translated, “to push back.”  

Look at this in process drawing of this Mountain Dog. The effect is
clearly illustrated. There is no question that the mountains are far back in the distance behind this magnificent dog. The drawing just would not look right if the mountains were rendered in the same detail as the subject. The eye would be confused. And here is the communication part. When the eye is confused, so is the message. But, the really interesting part here is that absolute accuracy is not necessary, because even though our brain will pick out the contradictions, as long as you follow certain rules, the eye and the human brain will fill in the gaps.

Most of us know the basic rules:
Large figures in front (geometric perspective)
Less detail in back
Overlap objects

Look at this drawing of the boat on the ocean. A simple piece, but it is the size of the boat, lack of detail in the waves that send the message that the boat is far from our place of viewing. The dark shadow of the boat on the water, the silhouette of the boat itself, gives us clear indication that the light is coming from the sun on the horizon behind the boat.


Now, look at the drawing of the leaf. There is a lot going on here. You can see the dark shadows in the front of the leaf-where is touches the table – where portions of the leaf are starting to roll over another part casting shadows. You are starting to pick up cues that this leaf is probably an old leaf curling up on itself, and perhaps cupping upward.


You are starting to get an idea where the light is coming from by the light/dark contrasts. You now are realizing that parts of the leaf are behind others - that some of the tips in the back are in fact rolling back into the paper away from your view. And you can also get a sense that the leaf is not entirely smooth on its surface – from the spotty light and dark areas. All of these effects are purposefully done to give to you the viewer some sense of the feel and presence of this leaf.

If I were doing a relief carving (I will discuss in a later post) of this leaf from this drawing, the lights and darks would tell me which parts of the leaf would stick out and which parts would be pushed back into the picture (Repussoira).

Look at the old wooden boat. It is because of the use of light and darks you know that this must be an old, well-used boat. You can see the rust from the old nails running down the hull. You might imagine she (boats are she, btw-sorry) is coming in from a long day of fishing as the sun sets behind her. You can see how the light plays on the mast and the shadow on the front of the pilothouse is in shadow. And you can barely see the shoreline in the background.


As an artist develops a piece of work, he or she knows that the objects in the back have less contrast, they are dimmer and their borders become blurred (il mezzo confuso). But, we may not know why. And here is the most interesting part of all—where, I postulate, the border between science and art also becomes blurred. 

What we see and experience is the result of a trick our atmosphere plays on us. Something known as “Rayleigh Scattering" - named after the 18th-century physicist Lord Rayleigh (go figure). The great Leonardo DaVinci (artist or scientist?) knew all about this and referred to it as an aerial perspective. Objects in the distance are lighter, less defined, more tightly clustered. Contrast is reduced in the background. And the more atmosphere between the viewer and the object, the more pronounced the effect. Well, it all has to do with those little tiny particles of stuff (smog, dirt, water, etc.) carried in the air and their size in relation to what is know a wavelength of light.

This is why contours are softened – the light “information” is degraded by the earth’s atmosphere – particles in the air smaller than the wavelength of light and therefore they scatter or diffuse the light.

And yes, here lies the reason why the sky is blue. The color BLUE is scattered most (therefore we see it more) because it has a very short wavelength - and is most pronounced closer to the ground because the heavier particles sink (such as fog, smoke, pollution) and there are more of them.

Lastly, but not finally, there is one more technique I love to use in my drawings. It is the practice of including soft and hard edges in a drawing. These soft edges are often referred to as “lost edges.” You can see how they show up in some of the leaf tips, on the mast of the old boat, and on this drawing of the statue of Marcellus, the nephew of Augustus. I could have defined the entire outline of Marcellus, but instead, have rendered the entire left side of the body and drapery soft. In fact, they are nearly invisible. I felt that this technique focused the image, gave it life and in general tells a more interesting story. As it turns out, we humans don’t always need everything detailed out for us. Our brain easily fills in the parts that are not shown and completes the piece. It’s the old saying, sometimes the imagination is the most interesting.

So, here are a few techniques I use. Next time you are at a gallery, museum or art show, take a look. See if you can recognize just how the artist has managed to tell his story. Or not.




The Value of Volunteering ~ by Aedyn Brooks


My journey to story writing isn’t unique. I was a voracious reader—anything on medieval history to the Victorian Age grabbed my fancy. Then one day, I read a historical romance based in the Wild West. From that moment on I was hooked on the romance genre. I joined three book clubs and began feeding my new addiction. The endings are my favorite part when the hero and heroine finally achieve their happily ever after. Sigh. Yes, I’m sappy that way.

For years I researched my ancestral roots. I don’t have any family, except for my three kids and their growing families. My way of connecting with relatives was researching where I came from. As I discovered each new generation, I’d make up stories in my head on why my ancestors decided to leave all they knew and venture so far off lands. Oh, what tangled webs I’d weave. Lies, the lot of them, but it was fun nonetheless. I mean, it could’ve happened, right?

Then the day I thought why not write some of my made-up family stories? I whipped through a few chapters; the creative juices flowed like Niagara Falls. I promptly printed them and showed my best friend.

She stared at the pages. Then at me. Back to the pages. “Why is this in block form? Is it a business letter?”

That’s when reality rose from the depths and took hold, my friends. Even after reading hundreds, if not thousands, of books, I wrote what I knew, all right. Factual, lifeless, data-driven nothingness in block form. Jack Squat knew more than me about crafting a compelling story. 

Back then, I worked in Human Resources for a Fortune 500 company. When writing investigative reports, the investigator has zero emotion. They report the facts and only the facts. Observations can be added, but lifeless dribble was what I was great at writing. No detail was too small to record, and to my credit, I’d helped my company win court battles. 

Then I read a multi-award-winning author’s third book in a series. For the first time, I read a book with an analytical mind. How she set up the scene, how she wove introspection, deception, and intrigue into a beautiful story that still remains one of my favorites today. I was so excited that I could go back and devour the entire series and all of her other books. Once I’m hooked on a writer, I have to read every book they’ve ever written. Did I mention I’m a little obsessive-compulsive?

My eyes were opened. The rose-colored glasses chucked aside. I needed to learn how to write. I wanted to write stories like so many of my favorite authors and I wanted to be good at it. This led to my internet search for writing organizations: Sisters of Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Writer’s Inc., but the one I found and wound up joining was Romance Writers of America (RWA). A non-profit organization where thousands of writers from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors, along with budding novices like myself, belonged. One-stop-shopping rubbing elbows with people who were excellent at the very thing I needed to learn how to do. I’d found proverbial gold. It was July, my birthday month, and I decided the present I was gifting myself was an RWA membership. Then I searched for local writing chapters and found Greater Seattle RWA. The following Saturday I headed out to my first meeting. Terrified to the bone, yes, but I was going to meet real writers, and I was going to learn writey stuff.

I’ve long forgotten what that first meeting was about. I’m sure a great deal of the instructor’s wisdom went right over my head and very little stuck to my gray matter. What I quickly surmised is that ten meetings a year wasn’t going to be enough. I needed more. Lots more. Ah-ha! The best thing I could do for me was volunteer. I had some skills and they had volunteer opportunities. Match made in heaven.

I’ve always been a data-driven ninja. I love Excel. Nothing makes me happier than copious spreadsheets with pivot tables and formulas all magically calculating to my heart’s content. It’s more comfortable than a worn pair of fuzzy pink bunny slippers. (Yes, I plot with Excel.) With skills in hand, I offered to help with registration for the Emerald City Writers Conference (ECWC), sponsored by Greater Seattle RWA; 2019 marks their thirtieth year. Since I was a newbie, I was the assistant registration chair. I got to meet writers who shared their journey of what classes they took and what tools they found valuable. It was like the keys to the kingdom were given to me and it was up to me to listen, take notes, and follow through on their suggestions.

 Volunteering connects you with people you may never have met otherwise. By sharing yourself with others, you get that delicious warm feeling that you’re leaving the world a wee bit better than when you started. I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t have any skills.” “I wouldn’t know what to do.” The beauty of volunteering is that most of the time, you don’t have to have skills. I truly mean that. A willing body, a smile, and kindness is all you need. If you’re trainable, you’re volunteer material.



Before I knew it, I was the conference chair for the ECWC, and because I love challenges, I also managed our writing contest, which I still manage today. It’s a way to give back to our writing community in a way that also doesn’t absorb a great deal of my time. 

Let’s say you don’t have a lot of time to give. You’re managing kids, soccer practice, ballet lessons, tae kwon-do, not to mention taking care of your aging parents, and loving partner, oh, and there’s that need to get words on a page, too. You’re divided more ways than a fractal on steroids. Look into short-term volunteer stints such as handing out registration packets at a conference for a couple of hours, or moderating an online class you want to take (and bonus, you may get to take the class for free). Little things that help you connect with writers that share that nugget that unlocks everything you’ve wanted to know about the wonderful world of writing, or whatever drives your passion.

I’ve learned a great deal with making connections all over the world and it all began with volunteering. It began with one, “Yes, I can help,” “Yes, I can do that.” “Yes, but can someone teach me?” When you raise your hand and put yourself out there, you’re taking a risk, but trust me, the reward is worth it. 

Even the Mayo Clinic has an article on why volunteering helps decrease the risk of depression. It can give us a sense of purpose, learn valuable skills, maybe live longer, and make new friends. Connections matter and the best way to start making connections is volunteering a little here or there to start. Baby steps.

If you’re still not sure, then let me share something very personal. When my youngest son left the US Navy, he returned home a broken man. He was depressed and very suicidal. We’d connected him with a mentor and counselor, but it wasn’t enough. He wasn’t able to reconnect with us or society, and he had no desire to live. He truly felt the world would be better without him. As a mom, it was heart-wrenching to see my baby giving up on life because that’s not the man I knew. One day, I asked him to give back to the world. If he could go anywhere or do anything, what would he do? He wanted to live in Australia. Shortly thereafter, he was on a plane and beginning the adventure of his life. He joined a volunteer organization that helped him learn how to build latrines and wells in Australia, then he moved to Vietnam, and later Cambodia, helping communities dig freshwater wells and latrines. It was the best year of his life. He returned home renewed and energized to complete college, and go onto being a strong contributor of society. Volunteering not only changed his life, it saved his life.

Giving of ourselves heals.

One final word. Remember to grant yourself, and others, grace. None of us are perfect. You are a culmination of a lifetime of experiences. One life lesson piled on top of another. Life throws curves and sometimes lobs volcanic ash. All of those moments make you valuable. It makes you resilient. It makes you worth knowing. Your nugget may be the one thing someone else needs to learn. So, go ahead and say, “Yes,” next time someone needs a volunteer. The world needs you.


To learn more about Aedyn you can find her here:



Lakeside Living 6: Dear deer by Ruth Ross Saucier


     When your new house is sited on a deer path, you get a revitalized appreciation for many things in life: deer-resistant plants [your deep-seated desire to raise geraniums is utterly thwarted], deer deterrents, and matted deer nests in your flower beds. 


     When your new neighbor (whose house was also sited on the deer path) decided to plant vegetable gardens, but found them regularly decimated, I helpfully recommended a motion-sensitive sprinkler.  The sprinkler was modestly successful at driving off the deer, but it also soaked visitors (me) and delivery people with equal abandon.  No lasting harm there, but when a local dog found the sprinkler to be a joyful experience, he trampled the entire garden into a muddy mess.



     My then husband who was new to the depredations of deer, was delighted when mama and her spindly-legged baby wandered through the yard lightly trimming the hedge.  She then brought baby over to nibble on my only surviving rose, gently pulling off leaves.

     “Well, that isn’t so bad,” he said, “At least she’s leaving the flowers behind.”

     “Really? That’s not usual…” I said, as she inhaled an entire blossom, one huge delectable mouthful.     But we immediately forgave them, for the speckled baby was undoubtedly hungry, and we could not find it in our hearts to deny her. (The rose bush made several comebacks over the years, but finally disappeared when a beaver nipped it off at ground level and dragged it over the frosty grass to the lake. No doubt it was considered a prize for nailing together a lodge nearby.)



     It was early afternoon, though, when we experienced another deer habit.  Mom had twins that year, and they were daily visitors, grazing as they meandered through the yard.  But this afternoon, they grazed as usual and then bedded down. They stayed in the yard for nearly four hours, grooming and stretching, nibbling and napping. 


     No sign of mama, no sign they were ever going to leave.  It was pretty clear that mom had told them that only old people lived here, so they would be safe hanging out until she returned.  Then mom finally returned, gathered them up, and they were gone. 

     Only later did we discover that this is a normal part of the weaning process…but for a while, we were grandparents to twins.

Who's Your Daddy's Daddy's Daddy? ~ Lexa Fisher



Photo by Kiwihug on Unsplash
Genealogy began to interest me when I undertook to write stories, the first one being a family history mystery, as I call it. I can't pinpoint the reasons for my interest. Is it the thrill of research as I dig through census records and uncover family clues? Is it studying the family tree in a bible passed down for generations, wondering what those people behind the names were like? 

One thing I know for sure is that I'm keen to learn where my family came from and what their lives were like. Despite this interest, I was reluctant to ask personal questions about my ancestors, aware of uncomfortable postures and hesitancy in the answers I received. As a child I was too young to understand the nuances in feelings that shaped those answers. Memories of the past might have been painful to repeat, long buried for the angst they carried. 

I also understand that what someone does say is from their point of view, with their lapses in memory and biases as to what is important to them. Even so, this gives me great insight into who I am listening to. As a writer, it helps me develop characters who have depth.

One of my favorite weekend activities is finding estate sales, especially ones where there are traces of history throughout the house. My greatest find is a suede-covered high school memory book, My Golden School Days, from 1916. The young woman's past is helping me create a story for the family history mystery that I'm currently writing.



Photo by Paul Wong on Unsplash
To learn more about my own heritage, last year I opted for DNA testing, eager to find out where my maternal lineage had originated. I'd long been told that I had a Cherokee chief in the family tree on my mother's side. Imagine the disappointment and questions that arose when I found I was entirely European! My Cherokee ancestry drifted away like a smoke signal on a blustery day.


Photo by Andreea Popa on Unsplash
Continuing my search, I delved into census records at ancestry sites and discovered wonderful information about my paternal grandfather's family. Answers led to more questions and piqued my interest further. How to explain my grandfather's sister who was twenty years older than he was? Surely this had to be a second marriage. I remember this woman, my great-aunt Dora. We share a medical condition that makes me long to know her now. But the only clues I've found are through census records and her tombstone.

After the DNA testing, I chose to be contacted by anyone whose DNA indicated a relationship. One day I received email from a woman claiming to be a cousin who wanted to meet my mother--her mother's sister.

What? My mother had never mentioned a sister, so I hesitated to provide any contact information until I'd confirmed this. To my complete and great surprise, I learned that my mother has five half-sisters! Never in sixty years had this come up. 

I'm now on the trail of my mother's ancestors. These real life discoveries are just the stories I love to read and write. Bits of my own ancestors' lives will add dimension to my stories. And like a Cherokee scout, I may one day find charred stones from a smoke signal fire.









Making the Most of Your Opportunities ~ by Guest Shirley Ledlie



Are you making the most from your opportunities?
Having the confidence to try something new doesn’t come easy to all of us. Taking a risk can be both scary and exciting.

The beginning - Moving to France and writing
Shortly after moving to France in 2000, I had the opportunity to write a weekly column in Bella Magazine. It was a dream come true and I grabbed it with both hands. Was I scared? I was terrified! For over a year, each week I would write my life-style column and I loved every moment.

As well as my email inbox filling up, handwritten letters started to arrive from readers; many feeling they knew me personally. Sometimes they would phone asking about my family by name, it was a little weird, but thankfully they weren’t a daily occurrence.
Then a new editor arrived, and my column was sadly caught up in her clean sweep.

Life in France continued to be full of new adventures and busy, busy. Although I missed my Bella column it wasn’t at the top of my priorities.

The Middle – Health is everything
One day, out of the blue, something happened that turned my safe little family world upside down. I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I knew my life was never going to be the same again.

Thankfully I’d been lucky and was given a good prognosis if I completed all my treatments. I found the surgery easy to cope with. Next up was chemo. That was a different story, it was an absolute nightmare for me, but I’m a wimp at the best of times! 

Radiotherapy followed, and like the surgery, I found it a breeze. The next step was hormone therapy that I would have to take for the next five years. There were the horrible hot flashes plus some aches and pains but nothing that I couldn’t easily deal with.

Most of us have heard of the ‘new normal’ life we must deal with. My ‘new normal’ was certainly different. The fear of it coming back as, as I’m sure it is with everyone, is at the forefront of your mind each time you get a twinge or if someone suggests booking something for more than a few months in advance. But a different story began to emerge.

I was diagnosed with permanent hair loss from my chemotherapy
regime. I’ll describe it as male pattern baldness because that’s exactly what it looks like. Bad enough for a man, but a woman?! As women our hair defines us. My mental health took a nosedive and I struggled terribly.
     About a year after my oncologist told me it was permanent, I co-founded a support group. It soon became a thriving global community. There was nowhere else for us to go, we were outcasts, we were freaks.

Seven years later, I finally accepted my disfigurement. I wanted to share my experience, reach out to others and continue to help raise awareness so what better way to do this than write a memoir.
I self-published Naked in the Wind – Chemo Hair Loss and Deceit in 2014, and I’ll tell you, it was terrifying hitting that ‘publish’ button!

I’ve lost count of the emails I’ve received from readers who have either bought the book for themselves or for family members, pouring their hearts out to me as they relate to my story.  I’m so glad I took the risk of pressing that button.

It wasn’t a joy to write Naked in the Wind as I had to revisit those times of being in denial plus, I had to make sure everything, including stats, was totally accurate. However, it did give me the writing bug and so two short travelogues followed.

Out of the blue I received a podcast interview invitation to discuss the permanent hair loss side-effect. Yikes, I was terrified! But what did I have to lose? After a couple of sleepless nights, I found myself accepting. PODCAST INTERVIEW

More podcast Invites followed. Then requests came in for me to write articles for websites. 
  
I tried to come to grips with Twitter, and I think I’m finally getting there. Twitter users have taught me that there is a big black hole, where there should be mental health support for ‘life after cancer’. Doctor’s do their job of treating your cancer and if you are one of the lucky ones, they will tell you go away and live your life.  Survivors will tell you it’s just not that easy. In fact, it’s a struggle. It’s real.

The Future – Living a full life
I’ve discovered blogging and loving it! I’ve two beautiful granddaughters and I wake up to sunshine, most days. We have bought a camper/van and go off for weekends exploring the incredible French countryside or go fishing in Spain.  

I’m going to carry on with my new interest of blogging on my website and I’m working on a new short travel eBook. I’ve started writing the first in a series of amusing camper/van memories. Well, I think they’re amusing, so I’m hoping readers will as well!

My biggest inspiration must be my dad. He had this amazing ability to enjoy everything in his life, even the simplest things we take for granted. He taught me create opportunities, grab them with both hands and don’t let the fear of trying something new, stop you from giving it your best shot!


Shirley Ledlie is an internationally known columnist and author. She and her husband of thirty-two years reside in France. They have two adult children and two gorgeous granddaughters.

Shirley spends most of her days writing or gardening, practicing yoga and meditation, working as a patient information reviewer, and having the odd lunch or two with her friends. Many hours each day she spends raising awareness about a little known side effect from a drug called Taxotere. After Shirley suffered permanent alopecia from this chemotherapy drug, she didn't want another woman to be denied information enabling her to decide for herself. She believes very strongly in addressing the mental health of patients after cancer. Every Wednesday morning she can be found at her local commune's l'epicerie sociale helping the Red Cross.

You can reach out to Shirley at the links below.

Meet Our Members ~ Cynthia Land

Cynthia Land

Cynthia comes from the fast-paced world of broadcast news. As a reporter and anchor at KOMO radio in Seattle, she’s gone from interviewing CEOs including Starbucks Howard Schultz to breaking news of earthquakes. 

She left broadcast in 1996 to pursue a career in high-tech public relations, working for several start-up companies. At the turn of the century, she shifted her focus, did a 180 and became a yoga teacher. In 2002 Cynthia opened Expansions Yoga in Silverdale, WA. The following year she began the tradition of Yoga in the Park, offering free yoga classes at Evergreen Park in nearby Bremerton, WA.  Those classes eventually moved to Waterfront Park in Silverdale. 

Along the way, she studied with renowned teachers Rodney Yee, Tias Little, Rod Stryker, and Erich Schiffmann gaining valuable advanced teaching experience. In 2004, Cynthia became a licensed massage therapist and worked in a chiropractic office for several years. Her specialty is Thai Yoga Massage. In 2005, Cynthia started teaching yoga classes at Olympic College in Bremerton.  She brings a wealth of both yogic and anatomical knowledge to her teaching, making certain that students receive a safe and rich practice.

To read Cynthia's prior posts, visit her MEMBER PAGE

Promises, Promises ~ Jacquolyn McMurray


Here’s the deal. I’ve been teaching in the public school system for over twenty years and although I’m retired and only work part-time now, when summer break comes my body expects ice cream.

Photo by Brendan Church on Unsplash

I’m not talking about a little niggling in my brain that ice cream would taste good. No. I’m talking about a daily hammering that I deserve that rich creamy dessert because I work hard, and I’m convinced after years of spending time with my siblings that I’m hard-wired to crave the delectable treat.

The niggling has been in my brain for most of my life, but the hammering started around the end of the 2016-17 school year. That summer, I allowed myself one bowl of vanilla ice cream a day with chocolate syrup and almonds for protein.

I promised myself I’d eat more protein to balance the sugar, because when you have a sweet tooth you believe anything that makes you feel okay about eating so many sweets. If you have protein, the sugar doesn’t count. Right?


Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash
At the end of the 2017-18 school year, I craved root beer floats. Determined to control my sweet tooth a bit better than the previous summer, I used a highball glass rather than a water glass to hold my treat.  The trouble was, I convinced myself I could have a second float in the late afternoon because I’d walked a few steps or completed a load of laundry or written some miniscule number of words.

I promised myself I’d exercise more--take walks, do more activities, burn those calories, invest in a standing desk, because then I could have as many root beer floats as my little heart desired.



Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash


At the end of last school year, I wanted it all—root beer floats, chocolate sundaes, and mixed berry milk shakes. So, I spent June and July enjoying as much ice cream as I wanted with the promise to myself that I would quit when school started back up.







Well, school started July 30 and the bucket of ice cream is almost gone. I’ve joined a gym and promised myself I’ll get those aerobic walks in this month. 

And when I can comfortably button my pants again, I’ll reward myself with a hot fudge sundae.


Photo by Jennifer Pallian on Unsplash

What foods do you crave?

Memories, Cookbooks, and Favorite Recipes ~ Joanne Jaytanie


 
Everything in life evolves and changes, even how we cook and bake. For the most part, people don't want to cook or don’t have the time to spend preparing a meal or baking a cake.

Years ago, I had well over 250 cookbooks. I finally realized that I only used my favorites. The ones that were actually in the kitchen, not upstairs on a bookshelf in the guest bedroom. So, as time passed, I scaled down to around 30. The problem with 30 is they still take up too much space in the kitchen. The years went by, and I found I used about 10 of them. I still cook, but I guess you could say that I cook the same way I write. I begin with a recipe, a general idea, and then I create my own version. 


I do have a few favorite cookbooks — special ones, dear to my heart and filled with recipes from my childhood.

These two cookbooks are special to me, and I'll keep them forever. My Godmother, Aunt Rosamond, gave me the "St. Malachy's Church Cookbook" for Christmas in 1982. St. Malachy's is located in Sherburne, NY, and the church where I grew up. 

This book is unique because it's filled with recipes from women I grew up knowing. Women who lived in Sherburne and the surrounding area. The friends of my parents, my friend’s mothers, my neighbors, my Aunt Rosamond. Aunt Rosamond was an excellent cook and baker. After my mom died, it was Aunt Rosamond that taught me how to cook. She made the most delicious cinnamon buns. I can still smell the scents of cinnamon, butter, and baking bread wafting through the house and out the open windows.


This cookbook represents a community. I see it on every page. In the names of the woman who created the recipes. The way the book is put together the index isn't only divided up by regular categories, it's got a unique index:
Old Family Favorites
International Dishes
Soups, Salads and Lo-Cal



When's the last time you cooked for 50 People? 














The Art of Syrian Cookery was given to me by my dad. He was Lebanese and he grew up eating the food of his culture. My mom learned to cook Lebanese dishes. I remember she would bleach the kitchen floor so that she could use it to roll out her oversized, very thin Syrian bread dough. The kitchen table wasn't big enough for the job. She'd use an oversized wooden board, similar to a pizza peel to scoop up the dough and slide it onto the solid oven floor.

I've used this book often. My husband loves the food. One of his favorites is Baklawa. It's really not a difficult recipe, but it does take a lot of time.



I'm known for making notes on recipes I use more than once.




I still collect recipes and I'm sure I have thousands of them. But, I no longer have to find room in my kitchen to store them because they only take up the space of an iPad or my iPhone. 

They’re all on my Pinterest Page





Until next time...

Joanne 




Co-authoring ~ by Manning Wolfe

The initial idea… About ten years ago, my work required that I frequently go back and forth to L.A. from Austin, four hours of travel on a ...