Sunday, September 9, 2012

Children + Gardens Reflect Care They are Given

photo of: "Remember that children and gardens reflect the care they are given."  (Graphic garden via RainbowsWithinReach)
This image is my gift to you. 
It is also my gift to me. 

I can feel the official conclusion of summer racing me pell-mell forward into fall. 
We are still perched at our summer haven, but the sands are falling through the hourglass
at what feels like an ever increasing speed. 

Seems I'm more introspective as of late. 
I always have such high ideals for 'summer' and yesterday I was at odds 
with what has gotten accomplished on my lists: bucket + daily. 

photo of: Goats on the Roof in Sister Bay, WI

We live in a sweet little sleepy village of 866 people, perched on the shores of the Great Bay of Green. Its an idyllic existence punctuated with art galleries and studios, small village festivals and goats-on-the-roof. I've frequently shared about the goats.  Yesterday our weekly gazette arrived with a cover story all about 'Bo.' 
Bo is the thirteen year old grandson of the goats patriarch. In a nutshell the paper announced what I already knew. "Bo comes home to die." 

Every pillar and post up and down main street has an orange bow tied around it and many sport the four letters, "Go Bo." It would be an impossibility to live here for a season and not know the story, but somehow reading the specifics typed out word-for-word shook me deeply. The good news? It shook me out of my complacency. The bad news? Bo has returned to Sister Bay to die. It says so in the Peninsula Pulse.

photo of: Orange Ribbons of Encouragement for Bo, Teenager on Cancer Hospice Care

The official headline in the newspaper cries, "Teaching Us How to Live." After I read every paragraph about his valiant fight against an extremely aggressive and unusual form of cancer I was indeed crying. Life on Planet Earth is not perfect. Barely-a-teen, this giant speaks eloquently of what its like to get to attend a high school football game on a Friday night, while on hospice care. Not fair. Seeing him in his wheel chair, with IVs dangling, being rolled up to the village beach to have all his bikini clad and skate board wielding peers come swarming over to greet him? Not fair. Not fair. Not fair!

How to respond to such an article? How to respond to such a reality? Being a two time survivor of early stage cancer I realize anew how 'easy' my journey has been. After all, I'm a grandma. Perspective, grasshopper. Short of an absolute miracle with his name on it, Bo will never have such an opportunity. No prom out on the horizon. He's thirteen and spent the summer watching peers perish in the hospital setting. The truth is, no matter how many orange ribbons are tied -- the outcome of medical certainty has been cast. The available science of this century has failed Bo. Once that failure was determined, it was Bo's decision to return home. He left the safety of the hospital to die among family and friends. What a decision to make as a teen. 

Let me show you how reading Bo's story shook me out of my entrenched complacency. (Clicking that link will take you to a sixteen minute video shot at the school auditorium, of Bo speaking to his classmates. By following the link you can also see the flash-dance that was performed last fall on the streets of Sister Bay during the annual Fall Fest to cheer Bo up during his hospitalization.) 

Let me show you the gift that reading of his heroic journey gave to me. 

Part of my frustration  challenge is that I am forever imagining projects that I 'could-do.'  We go to an Arts festival and I think to myself, "I could do that." The truth is, I have a lot of potential that has yet to be tapped. Potential is something of a two edged sword. I have been known to gather supplies, but not break ground. All summer long I've been seeing C-O-L-O-R everywhere and saying, "I could do that." AKK. DO IT!

photo of: Collage Ingrediants

Well yesterday after I finished Bo's article, folded the newspaper and dried my tears, I DID THAT! 

I gathered up raw color and a pristine bottle of rubber cement and I set to work. I had been saving up old glossy, color-filled ads and catalogs as ingredients for 'something.' Last weekend was the library's annual 
fill-your-grocery-bag-for-a-buck sale. I had purposefully chosen OLD books that had glossy color images, to 
re-purpose. My first step was to tear out lots of these 'pages.' I then rather randomly cut them into strips and then small rectangles. 

Earlier this summer a whole stack of my 'professional fliers' had gotten all mysteriously stuck together on some previous adventure. I had rescued them from the trash -- for 'something', thinking how delightful the polka-dot edges remained -- even if the fliers were 'trash.' So I cut off a bunch of those little dotted edges and then the green borders.

photo of: Demonstration for Making a Collage in Picasa 3

I started my project with the blues spectrum, figuring I needed to manufacture my own blue sky day in contrast to the actuality of gray overhead from an entire day of rain. Initially I was just going to 'play' with color in an 'open-ended' non-objective kind of mosaic arrangement. About that time, hubby-Allen walked by and said, "What ya makin'?" Which got me to thinkin'.... I changed direction 180 degrees from my original intent and thought about makin' somethin'. When I think Door County, I think gardens and growing. So all those green edges on my fliers morphed into stems. Look closely and you'll see I did indeed use my polka-dots, too. (I totally forgot to take any pictures until this one when things are fairly well underway.) 

photo of: Creating a Collage from UpCycled Materials

As I mentioned, I had 'pre-cut' the little rectangles and squares in a whole array of colors. I thought it would be fun to see if I could make a garden bloom out of all of those angles -- since I had changed the entire concept midstream. What would I do with all of those hard edges? By this time a sense-of-play had emerged and I just gave myself permission to enjoy. Enjoy the color. Enjoy the play. Enjoy the arranging. 

photo of: Creating a Collage from UpCycled Materials
Orange angular flowers bloom in Bo's honor

I made a big-time mess of our kitchen counter area, which is where we eat on rainy nights when we can't be out on our patio. But I was afraid to clean up at this point for fear of putting things away and gaining one more UFO (un.finished.object.) I had set out to do 'something' that I could complete in one day. Keep at it. 

Literally I don't know the last time that I played with rubber cement. What I do know is that instantly, thirty-SOME years disappeared and I was in my college dorm room in the basement of Woodlawn Hall totally absorbed in what I was doing. I can do that. I can play with color. Something like quilting, only this time using rubber cement instead of thread. Back to my graphic roots. Here's the finished project without the quote. Yes. These are photographs of the image. It's laying flat on my yoga mat. Then all I needed was a quick-google search for quotes about gardens. Thank you Mr. Brown. The perfect sentiment. 

photo of: Creating a Collage from UpCycled Materials

Then yesterday I received an email from a new-blogging buddy asking me how I get my photographs to such a 'polished' and edited format. So I'll continue on from this point with some of my DIY insight. [It amazes me that I could appear to know something on this topic that eludes others -- as I always feel that I'm barely scratching the surface, but it is an honor to be asked and I'm always more than happy to share.] 

First of all I download all of my photos into the Picasa 3 function. I 'play' with my photo and the MANY features that they offer (which means I just keep exploring by the seat of my pants). I labeled the collage of my mucked up fliers up above to show you just a few features of their collage choices. I can also take all of these blog images above and collage them together in Picasa. Below you'll see what pre-selecting the choice of 'mosaic' looks like for 5 of the previous images. The only thing that I've 'adjusted' is to choose the amount and color of the grid-space between images. Here it's narrow and white. The program lines everything up for you. Ta-Da. 

photo of: Demonstration of Creating a Collage Using Picasa 3
Picasa 3 Collage of 5 Images in 'Mosaic' Setting 

Same five images used again, only this time a wider grid-border between them is chosen from the sliding scale and choosing a brighter color from the panel of choices offered -- yields this result. 

photo of: Demonstration of Creating a Collage Using Picasa 3

Here's one more possibility using Picasa 3. Again, its the same images in the mosaic setting of create-a-collage. This time its a fairly narrow grid and black is chosen as the color. Once that is saved I then go to the 'frame' settings. First I added a drop shadow in white -- in my mind that makes the collage kind of float -- adds dimension: saved that. Then I chose to 'frame' the entire image, selecting the color blue for the inner mat/border and black for the outside. I chose the 'caption height' sliding bar so there was room for words at the bottom. 

photo of: Demonstration of Creating a Collage Using Picasa 3

Everything up above I did in the Picasa 3 program. My other favorite free tool is to use "Picmonkey." Next I'll take the very same 4 images and insert them into one of their collage functions. Each image needs to be transported and placed in the exact spot you choose. This particular arrangement is called 'biggie smalls.' I choose my collage choice at PicMonkey based on the number and 'orientation' of the photos I intend to use. Again, its often an experiment. The more you play, the better and faster you get at implementing the design elements. After the collage was saved I then edit it (the collage) as a singular photo -- inserting the text bubble and adding the frame to the exterior. 

photo of: Demonstration of Creating a Collage at Picmonkey

Which raps up everything I can 'type-out' about photo collages. Which brings me back to my introspection. It's nice to think someone has noticed that I'm 'up to' something here. It's delightful to receive a comment, email or 'like' in the social networking world. My blog has readers thanks to those of you kind enough to pin an image to Pinterest. I can't thank you enough. 

None of us are promised tomorrow. We need to make use of every day we're given. We need to dust off our potential, grab our rubber cement and do what we can with the day that we have at hand. We need to express our gratitude for every gift we've been given and every talent that we've nurtured. 

photo of: Orange Ribbons for Cancer Fighting Teen-Ager

I realize that this is an especially long and miscellaneous ramble. It's unusual to combine such grief with rubber cement and collage possibilities. Yet that's something of the quilt of my life. We attempt to balance and juggle the pieces and parts as best we are able. Bo's newspaper article had a portion of his requests for his mom once he has gone. He asks that she remember the many nurses who cared for him over the last year. He asks that she stop by with an occasional basket of goodies for them -- or for a family on the ward. Such reasonable requests. 

We each really are capable of such thoughtfulness. We can indeed bake a plate of cookies for a lounge of nurses, or the fire fighters around the block. We can indeed each pay it forward to those in our midst. It's not too much to ask, is it? 

[Earlier this spring a group of children-bloggers gathered round this very theme to make an impact and contribution to the research into childhood cancer. Our efforts are too late for Bo, but your contribution leads to new treatment. September is National Childhood Cancer Month. To date we have raised $1,195 through our combined efforts. Follow this link if you are interested in contributing through our eBook project.]

Go ahead. Get out your rubber cement. Make an impact with your day today. 

"Remember that children and gardens reflect the care they are given."   - H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

photo of: Bumper Sticker: Respond with Love
-- Debbie -- 
In the midst of writing this article I received an email that my digital download product
 for "Red, White and Blue" (my song after 9-11), had received feedback at TpT. 
This is the message left, that touched my heart.
You never know when your encouragement, feedback or kindness--
is the EXACT missing piece of someone else's puzzle. 

"I taught this yesterday to grades K-6! 
It was perfect for all levels and the whole school was signing it by the end of the day. 
We will be singing it at our Patriot's Day program! 
Thank you for the fantastic resource."

We each do what we can each day to build our legacy. 
Tomorrow I get to make my first school visit as Author-Illustrator of the new year. 
Our days here are finite. 

photo of: License Plate MIS U GPA
Go Bo.  

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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