The Barefoot Heart

life on the finite side of infinity (& with a retired husband)

Page 2 of 73


Sometimes onward means going back
or stepping into The Great Unknown . . .


Recent photos of Nancy taken by Mona Diethrick
indicate that she’s moved from drawing to something else.


Bringing order?


Maybe a type of mosaics?


One thing’s for sure: her work as an artist is evolving.
And I’m just tickled
and intrigued
and thrilled.


Meanwhile back on the ranch,


I pick up where I left off on
In Our Own Language 3,


restitching the 50 drawings
I removed to give me a nice, generous border.
Is it just me, or are the days getting shorter?
And I don’t mean on account of the season or time change.
I distinctly remember getting more done
in the days of years gone by.

~~~~~~~ Backstory ~~~~~~~

Since June 2012:
She, Nancy, my developmentally disabled sister-in-law draws.
I, Jeanne, the woman who flat-out loves her, stitch her drawings.

Click here to see more In Our Own Language 1
and here for In Our Own Language 2
and you guessed it – here for In Our Own Language 3.


This post is part of Nina-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

On A Bear Hunt


It happened on this very piece of Earth Jewelry.
yesterday – Sunday, 26 October 2014.
at 5:30 p.m.
Timing is everything, you know.

As the sun bid its adieu and made its way for bed,
the shadows came,
and in the space of 12 minutes


there was a turtle


then a one-hump camel


then a one-hump camel wearing deely boppers.
Or maybe a cat.


There was a one-humped camel turned Ernie from Sesame Street
and finally, at 5:42 p.m.
what everybody came to see . . .



a BEAR!!!!

at 5:45, we see the bear become


a rat.


All this from the sun playing hide-and-seek with this mountain
and a splash of our imagination, of course.

And though it’s fun and quite playful,
it seems quite significant, too,
like Mother Nature is telling us an important bedtime story
allegorical style.

A Cloth Called Only Love Survives


My son Kipp married Marnie on May 24 of this year.
Their border collie / my granddog Otto, was the ring bearer.

Flowers1 copy

It was a beautiful time . . .


a fun time . . .


a hectic time. Chaos ruled. Feelings rose to the surface, and some were bruised. The weather threatened. The best laid plans crumbled. As is often the case, the big life moment party passed quickly while the bills and tiredness lingered long. Despite all that, I wanted to create a cloth to commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime event.

So . . .

FullSizeRender 2



I transferred over 400 photos to fabric


then I stitched them to fabric used as tablecloths at the anti-rehearsal dinner The Engineer and I hosted the night before the wedding. The theme for that evening? Things That Hold Stuff Together Comma Vintage.


As a special surprise for that night-before dinner (I don’t think calling it dessert is too much of a stretch), I rewrote the lyrics to One Day More from Les Mis, and had members of the two immediate families gather and rehearse for one hour before performing it – complete with blocking and choreographed movements, I’ll have you know – as a flash mob at the end of the evening.


I’m guessing it’s because they were stunned, but getting only applause at the conclusion of our number, I took the microphone and, borrowing the words of my brother-in-law Donn, informed the audience that we were going to perform that song over and over and over again till we got the Rousing Standing Ovation we so richly deserved. We got it, baby. We got it right then.


Back to the cloth ::: using the flag (because what’s One Day More without a flag) as the core, I cobbled together other blocks of left-over tablecloth fabrics (and yes, those are the lyrice – my lyrics – also transferred to cloth and stitched to the flag),


then stitched the more than 400 photos I’d transferred to cloth (photos taken by me, by The Engineer, by my brother Jerry, my sister Jan, and by the bride and groom’s photographer),


and added embellishments like buttons and ribbons from corsages and centerpieces, along with handles from goodie bags and anything else stitchable.


I used only what I had on hand, you see,

and I made it work, even when things didn’t come together neatly and easily and wind up looking like they did in the image I had in mind when I started stitching.

As with most of my hymns of cloth, I did not attach a binding, instead leaving the edges unfinished and softly frayed, perhaps unraveling just a little bit here and there.

and I decided to not add a backing fabric, preferring to make visible the back side, the often unseen side, the side that bears the knots and seams that hold things together.


As I stitched along, the cloth got bigger and bigger and bigger – more than 131″ wide and I can’t even measure the height – eventually too big to see in its entirety. Too big to see all at once.




Having still more fabric left over – even after all the photos and flag and the small 9-patch pieces surrounding the flag – I created banners, each bearing what I consider to be a necessary component of a good, healthy, lasting marriage. (Love, Laughs, Mercy, Refuge, Fun, Awe, Space, Gumption, and Pluck) Banners that became pillars of support when I realized one morning in the dark thirty hours of stitching that I wasn’t just stitching a cloth to commemorate the wedding, I was stitching a marriage.


And what of all the pings and chaos and disappointments?
They slowly, quietly fall away in the days since last May, so that Only Love Survives.


Only. Love. Survives.

It’s Friday, so It Must Be Merry Olde


London sky as a portrait of life.

Despite a delayed takeoff
and a delayed landing
and yet another lengthy delay caused by the tour guide not being at the airport to meet us,
we find ourselves in London today.
In the few hours of daylight we had left after all the delays,
we packed in plenty of steps and sightseeing.


We walked to Kensington Gardens
where we walked a lap around
the heavily populated Round Pond,
home to big ducks


baby ducks


pretty ducks all in a row


and even a swan or two.


Got my Corgi fix in Kensington Gardens when Biscuit’s person let me pet him.




Got my flower fix when we strolled past the flower shop.






And I got my cloth fix
walking past the black-and-white tiled
steps and stoops.
Actually, this one is more like an itch than a fix.
Good thing I brought and bought some cloth.


To read from the beginning of this great adventure, click right this way.

The Alphabetical Dublin

Thursday, August 28. 2014.



Dublin has beautiful and varied Architecture.



Bicycles are a dominant means of transportation.


And today we had blue sky! (At least for about 15 minutes.)


(A makeshift C
because sometimes we have to take our C’s as we see them.
Created by cropping off half the opening to a sidewalk trashcan

then rotating it a bit.)



Happy birthday, Kipp!

YOU are our Captain America.



He’s a Rescued Dragon
brought home to live because the little girl
loved him at first sight
when they visited the home for Orphaned Dragons.
The fact that he has a heart condition
just makes her love him more
’cause blue is her favorite color.
He’s a scrappy thing, this Dragon.
though some might call it appreciative.



Eunice was bad to paint
after she’d had a Guinness
Or fourteen.



The night deposits are so Fancy here,
you just want to drop money in
as you pass by.



The tree of Gold, they call it.
(Sculpted in 1991 by Eamonn O’Doharty)



The older she got,
the more she realized
that staying Hidden
was not something imposed on her.
It was her choice.





Missing her empty nest,
in the worst possible way,
Inez put her hands on her hips
and told that boy of hers to clean the garage
so she could park in it again
then go find himself a job.



Then one fine morning,
she opened her window
and tossed out a bucket of red plant
and right about then,
the breeze happened along,
Just like she’d hoped it would . . .



Kirk simply didn’t have room for all that furniture,
so he repurposed it into music.



Because sometimes you need a Little help
after 26 pints.



Molly Malone was a feisty thing,
they say,
selling her fish in the street
to make a living.
Fish tale or no,
I like a self-reliant woman.
(Sculpted by Jeanne Rynhart. Cast by Dublin Art Foundry)



A knockoff Noah’s Ark, perhaps?



SOMEbody in Dublin needs this Otto dog we saw today.
I just know it.
And he needs you, too.
(I call all border collies Otto dogs
cause my granddog is a border collie
named Otto. But you knew that.)



Purple is Nancy’s favorite color
so that makes it my happy color.



As they approached the house,
he said, “I’ve told you umpteen times:
Quit leaving the light on inside.”
Something she heard both literally
and metaphorically.


(This is a DIY R)


Reflections happen,
sometimes when we least
expect them.



Because She loved ravens
as much as he despised them,
She Seriously considered following the directions
on the Sidewalk Sign.



“To Tell you The Truth,”
she said at The end of this day,
“I’m a little Weiry.”



What trip to Dublin is complete
without a little Ulysses?
James Joyce may have exiled himself,
but Dublin still loves and takes credit for him.



He might’ve worn that stupid little hat everywhere he went,
but she was Very glad he didn’t wear these.




EveryWhere We Went today,
We saW alphabets.



A possible case of Xanthocyanopsy?



When he installed those bolts and locks
and mounted the burglar alarm keypad outside the Yellow front door,
she knew her mama had been right all along.


I looked and looked,
but I couldn’t find a Z anywhere.
So, just the Ztory . . .
After another full day in Dublin,
i go to sleep tonight
remembering The Mad Hatter.
Not this one, of course,
the one in Underground Atlanta
where I met the man I’m traveling with some 41 years later.
(Oh, and that Mad Hatter, it wasn’t a haberdashery.)
ZZZZzzzzzz . . .


To read from takeoff, go here.
To read tomorrow, go here.

The Old and The New, a Visual Poem

Wednesday, 27 Aug 2014.














To read from takeoff, go here

and to go forward, go here.

This . . . and Other Things

Wednesday, 27 Aug 2014.

Today I spied things you just don’t see everyday . . .


like an elephant in a windowsill


and a gargoyle fiercely guarding a heart


and the Dublin Garden of Remembrance


. . . where there’s more room for flowers
than people.


Today I saw a painting by Vasarely
(Lane, 1968),


something that made me laugh,


and The Engineer going beyond the end of the path.


Today I saw me,
snapping a selfie
in the Ladies Toilet
of the Ireland Museum of Modern Art.


delicious holes that let the light in.
(Or maybe I saw delicious light coming in through holes)



and tree roots that beckoned me to come, sit a spell
and conjure up some stories.


I saw bowls.
beautiful, colorful bowls


that thrill and delight
(once you get close enough and have a look inside)
and make me think of my nephew Drew
and the piece he gave me
called The Improbable Pot.
(They also make me think of people,
but we can talk about that another day.)




in an exhibit at the Ireland Museum of Modern Art,
This stone whispered to me:
Choose me, because I am
old . . .
(tho new to you.)
Because I can be a bullet
or a border
or a doorstop
or a tongue depressor
or a flower
a tombstone
or even a golf ball in a pinch.
I can hold napkins down
and tell a story
and break a window
and hold my worries for me.
I won’t ever tell secrets
or roll away when I say something it doesn’t like
or add inches to my waist
or make rude noises.
Choose me
because I don’t hold grudges
(I have no pocket for them)
or sing off key
or pass judgments.
Pssst. Choose me
because even though I have a tendency to
mirror the temperature of my surroundings,
I don’t ever try to be something I’m not.
That would be silly.(br>
So I chose this rock
for all these compelling reasons and one more:
I chose this rock because it has weathered storms
and hardships
of unimaginable proportions.
It has endured
and survived
and has had absolutely no choice about anything
yet it still doesn’t act like a victim.



And once today,
I saw what some people
see all the time.


Today I learned that . . .


The original Mr. Guinness signed a 9000 year lease
and had 21 children.
(I think I know why they sell so much ale.)


Jonathan Swift, who had an inner ear infection
diagnosed long after his demise,
wrote Gulliver’s Travels
(here at St. Patrick’s Cathedral)
not for children
but for adults.


the naked body resembles
a face
(Standing Nude by William Scott, 1954).


It was another good day
governed not by a to do list
but a see / feel / be list.


To start at the beginning of Another Great Adventure 2014 and read yourself current, go here.
To go forward to tomorrow, go here.

Things We Now Know, Things We Still Don’t Know

Tuesday, 26 Aug 2014

We now know that . . .





Dublin has doors that are to die for.



Guinness and a Jameison-and-7
make for a fine way to close out the day.


Dublin is home to faces in trees


and faces on the sidewalk.


Flowers being sold in stalls
in the middle of the street
is a fabulous thing to happen upon.



Jeanne’s arms need to be longer,
to snap better selfies.


There are (other) people who will
paint themselves from head to toe
and pretend to be somebody else
in public.


We now know what The Liffy looks like


what a snug is.
(It’s a small, closed-off room in a pub
reserved specially for the ladies.)
(Is, too. My new best friend Deidre
told me so. I’ll introduce you to her later.)





that Liberty of London fabrics exist.
It feels and drapes like silk,
but it’s 100% cotton.




(Jeanne and her new best friend, Deidre)


We still DON’T know . . .


what these marks stamped in the Dublin sidewalk mean


or how to solve this sidewalk mystery


or what this mark on the fence means


or what this Dublin nest is home to


Why this spring-with-a-handle looking thing is embedded in the sidewalk


or the name of this tiny little church.

or (and i have no photo of this one)
what we did to make us lucky enough to attract
the attention of Don, the Irish fella
who invited himself to sit with us
then engaged us in the most interesting conversation
of the philosophical variety.
He gave me his address as he took his leave to go to work,
asking if I’d send him the book I’m currently working on.



Oh, one more thing we DO know:

This, this right here is what we had today: Gaiety.


Signing off with something we haven’t seen for eons:


(Hint: It’s a television test pattern.)


To read from the beginning of Another Great Adventure 2014, click right this way


To go to forward, click right this way

Wheels Up!

Monday, 25 Aug 2014.


It’s striking how much the sunrise looks like the sunset from this high up. I’d show you a picture to prove my point, except I can’t get my damn camera out of my new pink bag that’s under the seat in front of me in time to snap the sunset because the woman has her seat reclined to the maximum quarter inch allowed. We paid Delta $69 each for 3/4 inch more leg room . . . but we didn’t get it on account of an equipment change. How do I know? I asked the flight attendant. But not until we were in landing mode, knowing that I would spend the entire 8 hours worth of flight time fuming and feeling even more claustrophobic. “Will the extra fare we paid automatically be refunded to our credit card?” I asked.

“No. You’ll have to call a Delta agent at the one-eight-hundred number when we land,” she says.

This is ridiculous, and though it’s true to my experience with Delta, I remain hopeful that it’s untrue. I spent money texting my sister (a Delta gate agent) asking her to check and make sure we’re refunded. It ought to happen automatically, we both agree. Cross your fingers that she remembers to look into it and take care of it if needbe. For Delta’s sake, I hope to see a refund on our credit card statement without me having to spend an additional thirteen hours waiting online to request something we paid for but did not receive.

I am a firm believer in having those who work in the healthcare field being patients at least once a year, and I now suggest that the CEO of Delta who assured us of Delta’s commitment to service and satisfaction in the little video we were all forced to watch sit in the sucks-to-be-you seats at least twice a year. Without anybody knowing who he is, I mean.

The way the air conditioner blows behind me (no amount of readjustment changes it to blow anywhere near my hot self) and the way my light button turns on not my light but the light of my seat mate makes me suspect that Delta once ripped out all the seats in this plane and squished them together upon re-assembly, giving them a full 15 or so rows of tickets they could sell.

Yes, I am cranky. Not sleeping for 3 nights does that to a girl. I doubt even the sleeping pill would’ve induced sleep sitting straight up in a sardine can.

In honor of going to Ireland, I re-read John O’Donohue’s book Beauty. On page 18 I read about stale ways of seeing that block possibility, so I’m determined to find something, well, beautiful. Right here, right now that has to be The Engineer. Bless his heart, his brain is so brilliant, so simple, so exasperating at times. He sits there with his earbuds in, watching some movie on the tiny little screen in front of him and, when asked if he’d like something to drink, he shouts his answer quite loudly to be heard over the voices only he can hear. Yes, laughter is my beautiful, now and always.

To pass the time, I watch 6 episodes of Game of Thrones – episodes skip me seasons ahead of where we are watching at home, but it doesn’t pose much of a problem, really. Costumes that bring on drooling. Flags and banners that make me want to create one specially for us. Men and women who apparently don’t have enough to do tending to their own proverbial backyard, so they go out into the world and try to create a bigger backyard for themselves through conquest. I don’t think I missed all that much.

One of the documentaries is called Mondays in Racine, and it profiles two sisters who open their salon on Mondays to women who are going through the woes of cancer. “We feel beautiful when we are loved, and to evoke an awareness of beauty in another is to give them a precious gift they will never lose. When we say from our heart to someone, ‘You are beautiful,’ it is more than a statement or platitude, it is a recognition and invocation of the dignity, grandeur, and grace of their spirit.” (John O’Donohue, Beauty, page 15) This . . . this is what these sisters do. This . . . this right here is why I spill a few tears at the sight of the sisters holding the hands of women getting their heads shaved. At the sight of the sisters crying with them at the shock and loss and reality of it all. Yes. Beauty.


I work up a sweat, but I do finally manage to wrench the camera from my bag – just in time to see sunrise over Ireland.


And ribbons for our landing.

Ah, beauty.


Next installment in Another Great Adventure 2014:
Things We Now Know and Things We Still Don’t Know

Studio Cruisin': Tom Smith


Back in The Day, we cruised around The Dairy Queen when our parents gave us the keys to the family car and sent us to the grocery store for milk. We’d drive through the DQ parking lot, going real slow to give us ample opportunity to see who was there and who they were with and what they were doing. Today I have my own car, and I don’t need any milk, but I’m cruising through the proverbial DQ anyway and lookie who’s here: my friend Tom Smith . . .

Tom’s mother was a formidable force in the county’s single elementary school when we were growing up. I was, quite frankly, relived as all get-out when I found out she would not be my first grade teacher. But she raised an impressive bunch of children, let me tell you what. I went to school with Tom’s brother, Allen, and in high school, one of his brothers – can’t remember whether it was Jim or John, though I still have much of the promotional materials – convinced me to run for secretary of the state Beta Club then set about supporting my campaign in every way imaginable. Somewhere along the way, Tom and I got to be friends – first as lovers of wordsmithing. I own one of the few copies of Tom’s memoir, and though he currently has no interest in publishing it, I remain hopeful that something or someone will come along and change his mind because the world needs Tom’s wisdom, his perspective, and his stories. Over the years, our common interest sphere has expanded to include poetry, making, philosophy, and good conversation. We don’t agree on everything – in fact, we disagree on some very important things – but our relationship is one of those rare ones large enough to hold differences. Tom is one of the most open minded and open hearted men I am honored to know. He is a champion of women in general, and especially of this woman, asking me challenging questions with no preconceived right answer in mind upon the asking; feeding me bits of poetry that we then talk about; directing me to books he knows will stretch and intrigue me; reassuring me on occasion; and just as importantly, calling bullshit (in his own way, of course) when needed. He is incredibly supportive, but he suffers no foolishness from me. Like The Engineer, Tom often believes in me until I can catch up and believe in myself.

The Engineer and I dropped by Tom’s house last weekend to leave a box of goodies at his studio door. Turns out Tom had time, so we were treated to a tour and a visit, which I’m now taking you on . . .


Morning glories greeted us.
(My mom and dad used to call me Morning Glory,
so I have a special fondness reserved for these beauties).


And while some folks
put big ole’ concrete lions in front of their special place,
reportedly to keep evil at bay,
Tom relies on a distant cousin of the lion as guardian


. . . along with my personal favorite:
a bottle tree thrown in for added protection.


Tom lives on the old home place
as we call family properties in this neck of the woods,
and his door is always open
to relatives in need of shelter.
Tom takes his role as the family elder
quite seriously,
making sure young minds and hearts are well fed
and constantly stimulated.
I often feel like an adopted member of the family
as I benefit from the same treatment
as well as reports of what marvelousness this one or that one is cooking up.


(Not muses, exactly,
the buzzards come around
regularly just to
tease and torment Tom.)


Here we see The Engineer and The Artist
(though a different artist than usual)
pondering air conditioning options
while I run around snapping photos.



His studio is filled to the brim with an assortment of goodies and oddities



mostly things he finds at yard sales



some things dropped off by friends.


Deconstruction and repurposing are important parts of his process.
as we see in this piece he created especially for me last year.
It’s hard to see in this photo,
but the word “SKEE” (one of my favorite words of all time)
is nestled inside a component of an old printer.


Where some see discard as the only solution for dirty wheels on a child’s toy,
Tom sees something else.


He works on a pool table

(though it took some delightful investigating to figure that out)
that doubles as storage space.


He hints that my large hand stitched works
take too long
(a thought I stumble over often)
and with soft, gentle persistence,
he encourages me to try something different.
He even shortens my learning curve,
letting me benefit from his experience
by telling me what adhesive to use,
and later, after the visit,
he sounds like a kid on Christmas morning
when he tells me about the stain glass effect
that came from mixing the paints I left
with the adhesive he uses.


Tom’s studio is a fun place


where things get snatched out of their usual context,


spun around and around,


and stood on their head.
With one arm tied behind their back
for good measure.



Things become verbs, for example,


and bottle caps become tiny little pie tins . . . er, um, containers.




Tom creates his mosaic-a-ramas on wooden planks
and calls them panels.


His ultimate plan is
to stage a one-man show
in the adorable, squatty round building behind his studio,
filling the walls with his panels.


Anything’s possible in Tom’s place,


and nothing – absolutely nothing –
is too absurd to consider.


It is a happy place
a joyful place
a space filled to the brim
with possibilities
and impossibilities (of the Alice in Wonderland before breakfast variety).
You can’t be in there and not relax into a smile.
You just can’t.


And you can’t leave there not already looking forward to your next trip back.


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