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March 2021

Abstract – thinking, doing, writing.

Note – Editor will now add the writer or artist’s name or initials after their work.


Considering the Dash

When I think of the concept of the dash between two dates. I think of a place and time to begin and a
place and time to finish. I recently read the poem Dash by Linda Ellis it’s a poem that reminds us that it is
important how we spend our time living life.
The dash is given to everyone who’s born. Consider everyone you know well each of them was born.
If there are family members from other generations or at least the generation of your grandparents. I’m
sure there’s a story that tells of the preparation that took place for your arrival.
There are many things that young parents do that prepare for the arrival of a newborn baby. Think of all
the things you already know about newborns even before they are born. Sometimes names are all picked
out family traits and lineage and stories that are passed along from generation to generation.
Let’s get back to that Dash! The dash that’s between the date one is born and the date it tells you the
equation of just how long the person lived. I am quite certain there are countless things that happen in
life and stories too numerous to tell. I said all this to say that the dash is abstract because it’s usually the
same size for everyone, same length and same font, when you write or type it.
Ms. Ellis wants to us to think about our dash in a multiple of ways that are different from the way, you
might have seen it only yesterday.
Now if the dash is a reflection it of how a person lived there are stories beyond stories to be told. When
you read the poem in its entirety. This dash also reflects how fleeting life tends to be.
t is not just when a person was born or even when a person died the importance of the dash is to
remember that it’s how you spend your dash of a lifetime for however long or instantaneous the dash
between the dates last.
I chose the Dash as my abstract subject because uniformly the dash appears to – all to look the same,
The importance of Dash is life and how we live and spend it. What will others remember about how you
spent your dash?

Written by – K. H.


EMOTION CIRCLES – Artwork by A. R.


Artwork by N. D.


Art Work by Mama Kim.

February 2021

February’s thoughts were on movement. How can we show movement in our artwork? Lines, shapes and objects, and colors.

Our Writing/Poetry Prompt – What moves or motivates you?

Dormant expectancy

Sitting in a sluggish mound

Of opaque disconnection,

My body waits

For a spark,

For motivation to shine through

To animate my mind,

My limbs,

My spirit.

Sometimes

The source is a kindled ember.

Sometimes

The light ignites me in a blaze.

Other times

I wait,

Alone,

Desolate

In the dismal dark,

Seeking from a far horizon

A beacon,

Needling through the stifling murk

To jab me into action.

                    — Nick Pentzell (2021)

A. R.

N. D.

Momma Kim

Lori’s Quiet Day

It was, Lori decided, a perfect day for sleeping in, followed by taking a long, hot shower, making and lingering over an overstuffed golden brown grilled cheese sandwich with a slice of tomato, washing that down with a tall glass of iced Earl Grey tea and accomplishing very little else of consequence.  As she closed her eyes and felt the shower water trickle down her back, she smiled to herself contemplating the day ahead.  She didn’t usually care for cloudy, windy, rainy days, but that was because she so often had to be out in the weather.  Today, the idea that whatever it chose to do outside would be happening while she was warm and dry in her cozy studio apartment made her actually look forward to the hours ahead.

After she had finally finished her brunch and was standing at the kitchen sink washing her few dishes, her peaceful, contemplative mood suddenly switched to a grumpy, irritated one as she heard her neighbor’s distinctly cheerful tap on her door.  It wasn’t that she didn’t like Annabelle (or “Bella”, as she preferred to be called since finding out that she had Italian ancestry), but she really had been looking forward to having a “me day” today, and Bella was not the type to sit quietly and enjoy the rain, a good book, or much else besides pop music, soap operas and gossip about her co-workers, her family, and celebrities.

Sighing and trying to rearrange her face into its best and most convincing “glad-to-see-you-but-I-really-do-have-plans-for-today” expression, Lori grabbed a dish towel off the rack beside the sink and dried her hands as she went to open the door, hopeful that although the door was not locked, going to it and opening it herself rather than just calling out “Come in!” might forestall Bella before she could get inside.  “Hey, girl!” she said, standing in the doorway, carefully moderating both her smile and her tone of voice to prevent either from coming across as too enthusiastic.  She silently patted herself on the back that she had also chosen to remain in her nightshirt and bathrobe for the time being.  Friendly, but not desperate for company—that was the look she was going for, and she hoped that Bella was shrewd enough to pick up on it.  However, her friend crushed all such hopes with her next words.

*                                                                      *                                                          *

JANUARY 2021

Our themes this month: Fresh Beginnings: The promise and/or challenge of an empty calendar.

A poetry prompt: Ode to the New Year, or, Good Riddance to the Past. 

Our artwork challenge was to start to trace a shape and then to complete the shape freehand to make a new piece. Complicating that was to change to non-dominate hand half way through.

J. J.

Good Riddance to the Past
So long to the Past
being a sentimentalist…can I really let you go?
While I have many pleasant memories to look back on
I am finally able to admit
that some no longer serve me
dump the unneeded data!
the Universe is watching and
history remembers everything
Let them go!
they are but the wake behind your boat
and yes, it is your boat…that only you can steer
your seamen experience exceeds that of your co-captain
after all you taught her to drive
she’s told you she no longer wants to be behind the wheel of your boat
it’s time to be the captain of your own boat man!
so prep it before you set sail
and sail you will
you don’t need to walk
to be a man of the sea
get your sea legs man!


Ode to the New Year
To this year… you won’t recognize me
as a child you heard those in your condition
referred to as “invalids”
dump that data!
you are not in-valid
you’re anything but
2021 will be your year to break free
dude!!, it’s your year…21 is your number
remember the joy it brought you
when you were officially given that number?
when you donned your first official middle school football Jersey
back then you wanted to catch like “Branch”
but now you are the mighty tree
thank you 2021

N. D.

K. H.

Much like a birthday the new year brings new challenges goals and expectations, that keep you,
from being focused, on realistic goals that might initially feel attainable, only in your thoughts.
The commitment to these goals are earnestly obtainable if only in your head. This year however
nobody’s resolution is written in stone giving Covid- 19, the World’s newest scapegoat. Covid-19
has become the Fall Guy for a lot . Many of our goals have become contingent upon covid-19
such as travel, exercise, healthy living are all things that have become the rationalized excuse
for less than positive outcomes. Thinking of goals for the new year should have started maybe
at Thanksgiving. Which would give you time to reflect on edits,cancellations, deletions.or
reformulations of obtainable conditions to ensure some level success.


I am determined to do something special for my birthday 2021. A celebration of life while I can
still participate. I’m learning this year how to be comfortable with asking for what I want and to
being okay with raising my expectations for what success looks like for me. Some goals can
only be measured by the eye of the beholder. I want to be conscious of what happiness feels
like and looks like again. Spontaneous laughter is a precious gift in the eye looking through the
kaleidoscope offering a multitude of picturesque outcomes. If nothing else, this year I want to be
conscious of all my Windows of opportunity and my blessings the whole year through.

A. R.

N. P.

Covid Calendar
Empty pages lie ahead
As the year begins.
What will fill the destiny
Of my unmarked days?
Sameness
Stretches ahead
Many more months
In isolation.
Fears
Encroach my mind:
Political pain,
Pandemic grief.
Friendships
Zooming at me
From the void
Of social distance.
Needing
Faster cures,
Common joys
And human touch.
Compassion
Connecting hearts,
Reaching ears,
Opening eyes.
Twelve more months of brokenness
As the year begins?
Or shall I pencil tentative
Reminders to have hope?

— Nick Pentzell (2021)

Momma Kim

December 2020

Our themes for December’s group were decorative and whimsical.

Prompts for contemplative writing.

Winter Sensations: sensory experiences of the season

Ghosts of Holidays Past: memories rekindled at this time of year

Skating on Thin Ice: slipping and sliding to Spring

K. E.

N.D.

N. P.

Winter Writer

My bald head,

Warm under my cap,

My glasses fogged.

Through them I view

The hazy outlines

Of a frozen world:

Blue-white snow.

Glinting sun.

Bare-boned trees.

I feel a chill in the marrow

Of my own bones,

Enervating but brrrrr!

Sound is muffled

Into isolated crunches

And dulled, distant birdsong.

Through a dripping nose

The air is sterile

But cutting in its purity.

I move in swaddled stiffness,

Layered deep

In thermal-wear.

Stiff legs

Belie my hesitant steps

In bulky boots as I

Press my imprint On a blank page of snow

— Nick Pentzell (2020)

AR.

J. J.

Winter Sensations: sensory experiences of the season

I’ve always loved snowy days. I remember that one of the hardest things about giving up my independence of driving, was taking a long drive on a snowy day to Horse Country in Delaware County, get out of the car and just stand in the snow.

When I had to give up my license, I was fortunate enough to have an electric scooter that I could ride 10 minutes to the Morton train station to take the SEPTA R3 Regional Rail to Center City Philadelphia.  From the University City train station I had a 20 minute ride to my office. I have frigid, but fond memories of riding across the South Street Bridge with the cold breeze blowing up the Schuylkill River. The crisp air woke me up on those early weekday mornings. Unfortunately, due to poor blood circulation, often by the time I reached the office on Spruce Street, my hands and feet were numb. That crisp city air on my face is definitely a sensation I relate to Winter.

Other fond memories of winter sensations we’re experiencing 14 degrees below zero in Edmonton, Alberta Canada, when I recall spitting and it freezing before hitting the ground.

I also have fond memories of sledding on a golf course in White Bear Lake, Minnesota during the winter of ’83.

October 2020

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Storytellers group has not be able to have in-person meetings; however, that has not stopped our very creative members from making new art!

This month we worked on the Strangers Project where participants expressed their artistic talent through introspective poems and paintings to tell a stranger something about themselves. We want to send a huge shoutout to our members for their hard work on this project and for sharing their talents.

These are some of the poems our participants chose to share:

JJ

What would I like a stranger to know about me?

I’ve had a very full life. I am grateful for being able to achieve this, which has kept me going during times of despair, such as these.
At the age of 19 I had a job and responsibilities beyond my years and experience. Being timid and foolish, I rarely asked questions, but rather learned by listening and watching. I was fortunate to satisfy my early desire for travel before I turned 30, my job had taken me to 6 continents. I was diagnosed with Progressive Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 29.

I get frustrated when trying to complete a simple task, due to this “little inconvenience” I’ve lived with for 25 years. It slows me down but I’m grateful that I haven’t given up…yet. I’ve learned that when I’m forced to slow down to the point where I can only sit still and “be” in that moment. Often, the only thing that can get me through days overrun with frustration is yoga, meditation and gratitude for life path I’ve chosen, which introduced me to becoming a human “being”, after spending my former years as a human doing. This has helped me accept the fact that the many things I used to do oh, I can no longer do.

KH
Hello Stranger

A moment of self-reflection Karen L.Hollis
I am a woman still discovering myself. I say that because when life throws you for a loop or two survival is our greatest instinct. There are times I feel there are two of me. Coincidentally, I happen to be a twin, almost a mirror image of myself but also as different as night and day.
Often there is this small voice within who is not so confident. Many times afraid to speak up because of the little girl who grew up in foster care and too many tramas along life’s journey.
The small voice is not so confident and feels hesitant and overwhelmed trying to avoid negative consequences and conflict.
Then there’s the bold confident voice which never misses an opportunity to take advantage of a teachable moment along the way. I’d like this voice to show up more often, but these last few years have knocked the wind out my sails. This put me in my own personal quarantine, long before the rest of the world started theirs.

Instead of being on Life’s Roller Coaster, which has a definite destination. Most days I feel like I am on a carousel encapsulated in a snowglobe. On the carousel, with the same old music and the same starting point and destination, with the only change being my mode of transportation around and around up and down Within a repetitive circle . Some of life’s lessons have taught me many things, along life’s journey I’ve had to begin again and again and again.

I need my world to be larger than that carousel. I’m at a point in my life where now is the time to dare to dream and find my voice which was so instrumental in paying it forward by teaching, counseling and helping others in many capacities. Now, I feel like I need to feel present in the world. If not now then when?

NP

My inner self transcends my outer body,

Nestled in a core of gentle quietude.

Tangled round my nucleus,
My neural neutrons zing

A frantic orbit,

Side-swiping protons that

Balance my existence.

Constantly off-kilter,
The atom of my being
Is charged
In fluctuation
‘Tween
The self I want to be
And man I am.
— Nick Pentzell (2020)

I am very friendly, happy, lovable, kind, helpful, compassionate, and a good listener. I am usually the one people come to when they need someone to talk to and I know I have people that are there for me like I am there for them. Even though sometimes I want to tell them to go away I do not because I know that this is the only way I can help.

Here are a couple of the paintings created this month by AR:

November 2019

Our lively group of storytellers and artists met on a cold but sunny day in November. The feature art project was a tree made with both water colors and acrylic paint. It was interesting to see that everyone was interested in making one. All were artists on this day.

It was also fun to see how everyone’s turned out so different. Unique to the artist’s interpretation of the one that Sonya made as a point of reference.

September 2019

Our Storytellers group met on a beautiful sunny day to finish our bird feeders, or write a poem or story. Since we met on 9/11 ( on the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the U.S.A.), some of us wanted to share our experiences on that awful day.

Stephen wrote a story about one of his friends who was living in New York City, and attending  Middle School, on 9/11/01. It was an especially traumatic day for him because his father drove a truck for UPS, and didn’t return home until many hours past his usual time. His father was unable to contact the family to let them know what was happening, and the family spent the time huddled together in the living room, trying to stay hopeful that he was safe. He finally came home at 2:00 in the morning, and explained that with the traffic flow into the city being shut down, he was unable to move his truck for many hours.

Kyle was feeling frustrated that day, and eloquently expressed his feelings in his writing. The group gave him encouragement that they had felt the same way at times, and to remain hopeful that the future would bring contentment.

Please enjoy the pictures that we took during our get together. As you can see, the bird feeders were beautifully painted.

August 2019

Our Storytellers suggested craft for August was this bird feeder made from craft sticks. Everyone chose to make one. Since we have to wait for the glue to dry, we’ll be painting them and adding the hanger in September. Here’s some pictures that we took of the happy group.

July 2019

Our featured craft for July was to make these colorful parrots out of cupcake papers and fuzz balls. As always, those particpants who preferred to express their creativity through writing a story, poem, or a different art project, were encouraged to do so.

Nick sketched a picture of an aircraft.

Steven wrote a wonderful story that made us all laugh. However, he chose not to share it on the blog at this time.

May 2019

May Storytellers participants were Michael, Mike, Kim and Steven. We painted landscapes with a combination of water and acrylic paints or wrote stories to share our thoughts. At the end, everyone shared what they created. Thanks to everyone for sharing your talents and for just being the wonderful people that you are.