Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Abide With Me

I stumbled across this today and the music in it touched a note in me so I thought I'd share it.

This kind of music always reminds me of my childhood. When I was small we attended a tiny little county church, Beldor Mennonite. It was tucked away in a very rural hollar of Virginia near Skyline Drive. My parents drove the hour each Sunday with my brother and I, and most of the time my grandmother came with us until her health prevented it. She sat in the back seat of the car, always on the right side. I was in the middle next to her and my brother on the left. She usually had candy in her purse and a tissue or handkerchief tucked in her sleeve or her dress. My parents helped the little church with some leadership and support. I remember the little white chapel building, and the sound of the voices, there were never any instruments. I remember a framed reproduction of a painting of Jesus kneeling at a rock with a light shining on his face on the front wall of the chapel. I remember the man who preached there for years, he was a gentle man. He had a round Charley Brown shaped head with laugh lines and wire rim glasses. I doubt he ever had a microphone in front of him, he didn’t need one. He always seemed gentle and loving to me, and my memories of hearing him speak are good ones. I learned to read music as a child by watching the hymnal, noticing that when the notes went up the staff, so did the voices. It was a place where I absorbed simple music and a simple genuine faith.

I remember one night when the adults were inside and I was allowed to sit outside on the steps. That night remains vivid in my memory as the evening was beautiful and a whippoorwill filled the area with song. I don’t know why that evening stays with me, but I have thought of it often over the years. It was a beautiful night out under the stars, in a place where I felt absolutely no fear. The tall trees reached up to heaven, the stars shone with a special brilliance. I was surrounded by beauty and the haunting sound of the bird’s call. Even as a little bitty child, I could sense that God was in that place. It was a little bit of heaven, and it remains a precious memory.

Later, we would attend “Weaver’s Mennonite” church where there were more voices and more harmonies in the music. My parents were relatively devout people. My Dad’s father was a Mennonite Pastor, my Mother wore the covering, cape dress and black stockings in her youth. We were in church each Sunday, sometimes during the week as well. There was always lots of music, sometimes with instruments, sometimes without. It’s from this season of my childhood that I would have learned this hymn: “Abide with me.”

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

Tonight the moon is nearly full, the stars are out and I am remembering the sounds of my youth and finding comfort in these memories. This evening we sent a final email to our adoption Social Worker officially ending the process of an adoption we’ve worked at since November of 2007. The timing feels significant, this is indeed a milestone. Tomorrow I’ll be at UVA for a hysterectomy. This season of my life is concluding, I’m not going to be a mother in the literal sense. There is some sadness surfacing, these milestones are not without their grief. But I am not afraid. He will abide with me, sometimes I may even manage to sense Him nearby. There is a big opal moon, some bright stars and the stillness and beauty of the night. I may be alone, but He abides with me.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I celebrated a milestone with a little party at my house this week. I celebrated the end of my period! Why? Because I’m scheduled for a hysterectomy! Hubby and I have been married 19 years as of December 2009. We wrestled with infertility for 15 years, then started an International Adoption in November 2007. We were hoping for three children from Colombia. We had to turn down three sets of children in the process, they never actually did offer us what we asked for which was three healthy children, two boys and a girl, between zero and seven. We recently decided not to adopt three at one time. Furthermore, it is unlikely that we will adopt at all.

I may not join in when mothers speak of their children, I may never have photos of grandchildren to share. I may know nothing of those things and for a long time I felt like I had missed a fundamental element of what it means to be female. Women around the world, rich and poor women of every color shape and size were having children, but not me.

I was in a play a year ago where I played a young pregnant woman. I went through the whole pregnancy from the announcement to holding the baby in my arms each night of the show. It was a difficult challenge, thankfully there were a few close friends who helped me survive. During that season I grieved for the pregnancy I would never have. I got the stage pregnancy, in front of about 8,000 people (over the course of the show) and that is enough.

I’m having a hysterectomy on the 31st. It’s the end of an era for me that comes with some mixed feelings. That sad sad woman, who felt she was missing out, who felt like she was missing part of the experience of being female… that sad woman is going to need to move over, make a little room, give way for to a new creature. And this new woman is going to make her mark on this world, not through her offspring, but through her life.

When I wake up from surgery, my body will be renovated but I’ll still be all woman. And after the scars heal, I’ll get about the business of living my life. No longer childless, defined by what I am not and will never be. If you must define me by my family, then call me child-free. I’ll be strong, vibrant, creative, talented, and full of potential. And I’ll still be one hot bitch! I’ll tell ya, this has been one HELL of a long “period” and I am not sad to say goodbye. And if you listen closely when I’m home alone you might just hear me humming: “Happy Hysterectomy to me…”

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Red Velvet

I made some cupcakes today for a little gathering of women at my house this evening.  I have never made a red velvet cake before, mainly because I don't like dye in my food, and the flavor can tend to be... well... let's face it... red velvet cake doesn't have much flavor.  So I decided to make a red velvet cake with beet puree in it for the color so I could skip the chemical dyes.  Only I didn't think it was chocolatey enough, so I added more cocoa.  Problem is, when you add more chocolate you lose the red color.  Soo... my "red velvets" looked a little...

...well... not very red. I tried them, and had eaten three by the time I realized I just didn't like them very much. Really good chocolate cake isn't hard to make, this just wasn't it.

Mmmm... cupcakes! They look hopeful, don't they?!

The theme of the party required red food, thus red velvet cake. So... since that didn't really work out I made chocolate ganache and strawberries with a dash of lime. And I don't care what it is, if you drench it in ganache, then it will turn out to be good. And strawberries are always the right color and yummy also!

Soo... I won't be making red velvet cake again, but it was lovely to have the ladies here. It was a fun evening.

Any excuse to celebrate,
-Carmen Rose

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hope and Peanut Butter

This is Hope, she's a full blooded Border Collie and my nearly constant companion.
This is Misde, she is Hope's daughter (Daddy was a mystery mutt) and she was the last one of a litter of eight puppies. When she was very little and we were keeping track of eight puppies, seven of them would be together playing and she'd be out exploring somewhere out there... so we called her Misdemeanor. When I finally decided that I couldn't part with her, that we were going to be a two dog family, I knew her name needed some attention.  So she became Misde.  These are my critters.  I <3 them.

This evening I gave each of them an empty peanut butter jar to clean out.  
It's very entertaining to watch them, because they both really love peanut butter. 
The first challenge is to get the slippery jar to hold still.
Hope wants to stand on it, Misde prefers to hold it between two paws.

Then there is the very serious business of getting the peanut butter out of the jar!
And they do take this task very seriously!


There is a little left on the bottom, she'll get it!

Oops, got too close... Border Collie in protective mode!

num num num
Yeah, we save the peanut butter jars at our house, just so the girls can lick them out.  And once they've gotten all they can reach at the top of the jar, we saw them open so they can clean out the bottom also.  And don't worry, the animals and jars are parted before anyone ingests the plastic.  Cheap entertainment. 

It's the simple things,
-Carmen Rose


Painted the toe kick on my kitchen cabinets. Why did it take me so long to do this?

I like how the room is coming together. Lots of other details to come, I'll keep sharing photos as I change things.

*AND* I painted a kitchen cabinet door without realizing that I'd left a bunch of BIG DRIPS in the paint. Imagine my shock when I came in the morning, flipped the light switch and there were THOSE DRIPS! *Horrors!* I finally got that door sanded and repainted today, and who knows... I might even get it hung up where it goes! Maybe even this evening! Now wouldn't that be something!

Here's to finishing up the details,
-Carmen Rose

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Brick Fireplace Stain

For some time I have considered my fireplace in the family room. It is brick, which is lovely, but the color of the brick was too dark, though it matches all the other brick around the place. I wanted to try to stain it lighter, but when I started to research stains, I saw the price and laughed out loud. Mercy, they DO they take themselves seriously! I had a five gallon bucket of primer (that happened to be created for masonry) a while back, used in on lots of stuff (none of which was masonry) and had some left in the bottom of the bucket. So after an absolutely unproductive week I needed *something* to justify my existence and the fireplace became my victim.

 I thinned out the primer and tried a patch of brick on the side where it wouldn't show. Hmmm... not bad. 
So I tried some on the front...  
Weill... I think I've passed the point of no return!  
Hmmm...  (hubby gonna kill me!)
It took me a while to get the hang of getting it on the brick without wearing it or slopping it everywhere.
Ok, this is kind of fun.  A lot like actual work, but it's making a big difference.
It's growing on me, and I started to get the hang of evening out the thin areas.
I put it all back together and stepped back. Not too bad.  Certainly better than the dark brick, but I'm not sure I'm done with it.  I may try to even things out or purposefully uneven things out.
One of these days I'll give build a mantle, change the floor tile and that carpet has to go!  But this was a good project for another day home alone.  Hubby came home a little bit ago and noticed it immediately.  So that's good - it wasn't a subtle change.  He hates it, though of course it's too late.  But I like the change, it works in the room.  And I managed to actually accomplish something today, so that's good.

I just ran across this photo of the place before we moved in... that's the fireplace. 
It looks different now.

Here's to Spring, inside and out!
-Carmen Rose    

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mark Gunger on the difference between men and women

A friend sent this to me this morning, I watched it and passed it along to a few people. I don't know though... is this guy right?

What do you think?

Guest Bloggers

Hi All, it’s a beautiful day here at Studio B. The sky is bright blue with white whispy trails of distant jet engines trailing across the sky in parallel rows. The golf course is green and the birds are visiting the bird feeder now and then. The temperature is perfect and I have the back door standing open so that the dogs can come and go as they please. It’s quiet and beautiful!

Two weeks from today I’ll take two weeks off to attend to some health issues and would really love some guest bloggers in my absence. Since I’m so prone to hopping between art media, I thought it might be interesting to hear from my lovely guest bloggers about creating in a media they aren’t used to, or perhaps sharing a time when you blurred the lines between two art media and how it turned out. Photos are very welcome of course! So if you are interested in being one of my guest bloggers, please drop me an email at carmenrose at comcast dot net.

Thanks and Happy Creating!

-Carmen Rose

Thursday, March 11, 2010

She is... as Unique as a Snowflake

This is the lovely Laura, I'm just getting to know her and having her in the studio was fun.
She's wearing a hand dyed long wrap skirt.
And a wrap made with super soft bamboo fleece, some pearly trim and big lovely crystals dangling from the ends.
She was very patient as I airbrushed a bunch of snowflakes on her skin with a small stencil. They look really cool in person!
A vintage crystal necklace that someone gave me ages ago...
A dogwood tiara...
And lots of pearly white eye makeup.
It was a fun day in Studio C and it was fun to get to know Laura better.

Here's to the creative process,
-Carmen Rose

She is... a Jewel

I'm finally getting around to going through some photos here.  I spent some time working on my external hard drive, it had been impossible to find anything on there, now at least I hope things make a little more sense.  Sure seems like I'm missing a chunk of photographs but maybe they are here somewhere.

I wanted to show photos of Rachel, she's a lovely friend and a gifted soprano who specializes in Opera.  Her phrase is: "She is... a Jewel."  And it's absolutely true, she is!
She is wearing a necklace that I designed in two parts.  I think the one section is beautiful in her hair, but it can also be worn on the back like this:  This opens up the front of the piece to cascade all over her shoulders which looked really lovely on her.  It's loaded with all the exotic kinds of freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystals with tiny little teardrop earrings.  Each section works beautifully as a necklace in it's own right, I wore one to an event Friday and it was lovely. 
It was a pleasure to work with Rachel again!  She's a vibrant creature, a natural model, and a dear friend!

Happy Creating,
-Carmen Rose

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Art of a Woman

A few photos from the publicity stunt at Oasis Gallery in Harrisonburg Virginia:  Some of them are cell phone photos of really bad quality.  I should have more soon and will share when I can.

That's me.  My phrase was "She is... Changing with the Seasons."  I was wearing some quilter's batting to look like snow, a handful of tulips and mask style makeup that went from purple to blue to turquoise around my eyes.  Those photos came from my husband's cell phone.

The following three photos taken by Frank Doherty
Ashley with her lovely lashes and peacock feathers in her hair.  She and her friend were "birds of a feather"
Laura, "She is... as unique as a snowflake!"

This is Barbara, "She is... mysterious."  She's also really good at creating cool poses!

The following two photographs from Charles Garratt, photographer for the project. 

Jill, Ashley and Juliette
Three frames with three live models in the display window. 
Ashley, Juliette and Barbara
Ginger Ferrel did such a great job creating the "set" for us in the window!

These final photographs also from Frank Doherty.
This is the only shot I have so far of all four frames, this shows the whole display window and some of folks who came to watch from the sidewalk.  The gallery is on a corner with a stoplight, and so we had a captive audience each time the light turned red! 
This was all of us lined up before the first performance in the window.  This is us, a range of heights, sizes and ages.  Youngest 14, oldest 54 and all points in between.  You can see two of the tags that we used to explain the facet of being female that we were representing.  Most of the clothing are pieces I had dyed. 
I think this photo was taken of the group of us before the second show.  The photographer was standing on the stairs in the gallery.  This was a publicity stunt for the opening of a show called "Celebrating Womanhood."

I also have an art quilt on display in the show for the next two months.  It's titled "Feed the Glow" and I'll never forget how much creating this quilt enveloped me in the creative process.  For a few hours in a row I was able to shut out the big bad world and find a place that was creative and wonderful and very much my own.  I think this piece will always have a special place in my heart for that reason.  I've never created anything like it before or since. 
So here's to woman and our many facets, and here's to the creative process!

Happy Creating,
-Carmen Rose

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Good Publicity!

"The Art of a Woman" is over and I'm starting to get copies of the various papers.  Here is the Daily News Record's post on the "See and Do" page:  This one features photos of Jill and Lindsey. 

Text of the article is here:
Then the same article is in "Rocktown Weekly" with a whole different look!  This one features Barbara!

Look how pretty the cover image is on their website, in print it still looks good.

The the lovely Ashley is on the Table of Contents page:

Along with our lovely ladies in frames in the middle of the paper.  Ashley, Juliette, Lindsey, Barbara and Jill.

I am very pleased with how this came out. I believe there is another article out there yet that I haven't seen. I was interviewed at the event and it all went by so quickly that I don't remember the gentlemen's name or paper, but I hope to see a copy of that one soon!

Happy creating!
-Carmen Rose
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