Doris Sigal (neé Charkow) – R.I.P.

Posted by: • Date:

If you’re an old-timer like me, you probably remember the old Morton Salt trademark phrase “When it rains, it pours”. Sometimes those Madmen accidentally told the truth. And so, it is with a heavy heart that I write this post to honor the memory of my step-mother, Doris Charkow Sigal. Married to my father, Dr. Roland Lee Sigal for what would have been 50 years next month, Doris passed away peacefully in her sleep at home, yesterday. (Thursday May 19, 2011)

Doris & Dr. Roland L. Sigal - Doris, We’ll Miss You!

My most favorite memory of Doris is of Thanksgiving of 2005 when she and my Dad came to visit us from their home in Allentown, Pa. After gorging ourselves on a wonderful meal prepared by my hubby, Don and son, Robert, we sat around the table listening aptly to my parents reminisce about their various adventures traveling around the world. Mostly, it was my Dad who did the talking. But as he spoke, Doris cuddled up to him and look rapturously into his eyes the entire time. I don’t know that I have ever seen a woman in her 70’s so obviously still in love with her husband. That was the one and only time that I was permitted a glimpse into their private relationship and it had a profound affect on me – and on my husband and son.

In her 20’s, Doris dabbled in painting and I’ve heard she had promising talent, but have never seen any of her works. That’s at least in part because she chose instead to make a career of cheering her husband (and daughter, Marcie Friedman, from a prior marriage) on, as they went on to fulfill their personal dreams, shared dreams, and far exceed what any spouse or parent dares to expect. Doris was my father’s enthusiastic partner in sharing the fruits of their hard work and good fortune with others through numerous generous donations to hospitals, The Sigal Center (a top-notch primary health care center to serve the poor), colleges, art museums, and the symphony (among others) – all within their local community.

Doris left her stamp on many lives and her spirit shall live on forever through the lives and accomplishments of those she helped or inspired.

Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives – Share Alike- 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

Memorial Headstone

3 Red Gerbera Daisies

3 Gerbera Daisies

WHAT’S NEW ON ZAZZLE

Scrapbook - Epiphany binder
Scrapbook – Epiphany binder
Scrapbookers Alert!! This customizable 1.5″ 3-ring Scrapbooker’s binder is IconDoIt’s latest original digital artwork. In luscious melon, violet & cerise colors, it emulates the look of stained glass on embossed leather with Art Nouveau flavoring. Holds up to 275 pages. You can change any or all of the text as you please to make it your own. Makes a great gift along with a selection of IconDoIt’s unique scrapbook papers.
Scrapbook Paper - A Peachy Photo
Scrapbook Paper – A Peachy Photo
Upload Your photo to have it placed in the frame Scrapbookers Alert!! You can upload your picture & change the caption to make this peaches & cream hued original paper design your own. Part of IconDoIt’s fabulous new line of unique, fun & inspiring heavy-weight paper for all your scrapbooking projects! All papers in this series are 8.5″x11″ & printed on 100 lb felt or 110 lb linen. Be sure to check out IconDoIt’s original Scrapbook Binders, too!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Advertisements

A Summer of Hummingbirds

Posted by: • Date:

First things first. Over this last weekend, I created a new page for this Blog, titled “Hot Links” where I have gathered some of my favorite websites, blogs, and resources on the Internet. While I’ve still kept links already in the right-hand sidebar of my pages, I just had so many more that I wanted to share with my readers – and hope you’ll add to it, too. I’ve kept the links there as text-only to cut down on the loading time. Hop on over there when you get a chance and let me know what you think.

As for the title of this morning’s post, “A Summer of Hummingbirds”, this is the title of a fascinating book I’ve read by author, Christopher Benfey. Published in 2008, it has the intriguing sub-title of “Love, Art, and Scandal in the Intersecting Worlds of Emily DIckinson, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, & Martin Johnson Heade”. Anyone who is a history, sociology, or biography buff will enjoy this easy to read treatise that interweave glimpses of pre and post Civil War American society through the eyes of these famed authors, artists. Their lives not only touch each other in unexpected ways but Benfey has managed to reveal insight into these personalities, the influences upon them and the imprint they left for future generations without resorting to heavy-handed background detail or moralistic commentary that historians and biographers often fall prey to. The central theme of hummingbirds not only runs through the lives of the central characters, it is a theme which those characters and this book’s author view[ed] as an allegory for the entire era that saw the social fabric of America (and much of the world, as well) brought into question and literally torn apart. Suddenly, the “younger generation” growing up in the 1840’s began to question and discard the old traditions and attitudes of their parents regarding the concepts of nature, religion, sexuality, family, time, eroticism, and beauty. Not being familiar in the least with anything to do with Hummingbirds, despite having enjoyed Dickinson, Twain, Stowe and Heade for years, I had never picked up on this common thread between them much less recognized that every one of them had been drawn to this species and beheld it as a symbol in their works where the bird was never just a bird.

So whether you’re into history, sociology, biography, birding, the US, or Brazil (which was not only a newly sovereign nation back then but it’s Amazon River and Rainforest serves as home to the world’s largest population of Hummingbirds), this is a book I’m sure you’ll take pleasure in. You can buy it here.

Of course, how can I not offer with this review a selection of Hummingbird art? Enjoy!

Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

Hummingbird 3

Hummingbird & Flower 2

Hummingbird 4Hummingbird

Hummingbird & Flower

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Connecting Sole To Souls

Posted by: • Date:

There is a part of me that feels heartsick over the fact that relationships I have with people I’ve never even had the pleasure of meeting are closer and more fulfilling than what I have with my one and only, flesh and blood sibling. My sensible side screams “BULLSH*T!”

The old maxim that “Blood is thicker than water” may be scientifically true but fails miserably as an analogy for the strength of the bond and loyalty from kin. While the opportunity for family to develop deep love and respect generally is greater than outsiders may get, there is nothing inherent in our DNA that guarantees friendship or trust. We may wish it so and delude ourselves that memorizing platitudes will make them come true but all that nets are foolish expectations and energy wasted for naught. Sadly, I don’t stand-alone in wrestling with such farce. It is exactly because this conundrum is all too common, that it’s occurred to me lately, we need to change the message.

Nature and nurture have long been debated as to which most controls who we are, yet significant as those factors may be, the most important element is choice. I suppose some believe that by drumming the sentiment that family sticks together through thick and through thin is all that it takes for self-fulfilling prophecy to flourish, but the history of man has proven that false going back as far as Cain and Abel. Genetics and training are no more than the canvas and palette upon which our individual choices build, layer upon layer of rich colors and light or the monotony of a single tone. Focusing in, one only sees their self and forfeits the depth of experience that connects sole to souls. While blood may serve to help create our potential, what we choose is who we become. So perhaps the loss we may feel over blood that is heartless should be no more and no less than the effect of a stranger, and so too, should we cherish the love.

Free Clip-Art & Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

City Blooms On Black Velvet

“City in Bloom on Black Velvet” – (600px X 804px)

The Fence Sitter, v2

“The Fence Sitter – v2” – For the story behind the image, read this post at Dogkisses.

The Fence Sitter

“The Fence Sitter” – For the story behind the image, read this post at Dogkisses.

Pinkies Up in Appreciation of You

Posted by: • Date:

When I was a kid, the phrase “proper etiquette” was never too far off the tip of my mother’s, teacher’s, and other authority figure’s tongue. There was just this set of certain rules you had to follow else you’d be considered uncivilized and therefore shunned from society, along with your parents who obviously were at fault for not teaching you better. So I learned the rules, such as to always place my napkin on my lap, never put my elbows on the dining room table, send thank you notes to those I received gifts from within 24 hours, wear white gloves when going out to a restaurant, and never wear a white skirt or slacks before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. There were a couple hundred other rules just like that, as well.

When I became a teenager in the mid-1960’s, at the height of Haight-Ashbury’s heyday, I rebelled against the rigid rules of my parent’s generation (which seemed to have gone back to pre-Edwardian manners). I had a problem with even the concept of anyone making rules of how I should dress or with what hand I could hold my fork as such intrusions on my personal liberty seemed to me to be completely against nature, despite how trivial those particular rules were. The fact that no actual harm to anyone or anything would occur if such rules were not followed – other than harm inflicted by those intent on punishing such “wrong” behavior – struck me as grossly unjust and a symptom of an unimaginative society trying to place everyone into their little labeled boxes so they (society) wouldn’t have to think too hard or have to actually examine the logic of their beliefs. I was hardly alone in that rebellion as even a quick skim through any news archives around the world will attest to.

Every generation since the time of Plato, if not before, has recognized that teenagers, in general, feel their parent’s generation are “old fashioned” and overly strict and that they (the younger ones) are far more intelligent. Yet it has been relatively rare for the specific focus of such rebellion to outlast not only the teen years but to continue on through subsequent generations as well. I’ve no formal education in this area, but I would venture a guess that the reason for this rarity is simply due to the fact that on the road to maturity, we experience the natural consequences of what happens when we or others do not follow certain rules of civility, until it finally leads to an “Aha!” moment – and then the cycle begins again with us as the old-fashioned parents instead.

The rebellion against society that came to the forefront in the 1960’s was far more complicated that this “usual” type of teenage angst and rejection of tradition though, as it included far larger issues such as racial and gender equality, isolationism, responsibility for our neighbors, and even the very existence of God. In reality, those issues had actually been in the making since the 1840’s when Darwin and the Industrial Age gave rise and opportunity to ponder such existential questions. Thereafter, it was only due to the advances in communications technology (i.e. television, transatlantic telephones, etc.) that permitted the questions and debates in response to them, to be shared with the masses. And most spectacularly of all was that, for the first time in history, the masses were largely literate and educated enough to join in the conversation, which in turn forced serious consideration and decisions upon our elders and our governments.

Fifty years later, we’ve come a long way but as is typical for humans, it’s been a journey of three steps forward and two steps back. So we’ve still got a long, long way to go in figuring out which rules of society go to the heart of what it takes for individuals to live and work peacefully and productively together and which rules only serve to divide us. For isn’t that the weight we should be measuring such rules by?

With that standard in mind, On my own personal journey to maturity, I re-evaluated each of those rules of etiquette embodied in books by the likes of Emily Post, Amy Vanderbilt, and Letitia Baldridge. In raising my own child, I threw out the white gloves and rules about what color you could wear at what time of year and such but I did return to the “rules” about writing Thank You Notes and other such niceties as I came to understand the importance of taking the time to let people know you appreciate their acts of kindness and generosity. And like many of my generation, I’ve tried to take this concept even further by ensuring I tell people that I simply appreciate them – for who they are – and their presence in my life. For it is through these small but sincere gestures that we all have the power to help another feel good and to make the world a little more pleasant to live in. It is an act which tends to infect the actor, the receiver and even those who merely witnessed its’ occurrence. Now that’s an epidemic I’d love to spread!

Free Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

ThankYou-1

ThankYou-3

ThankYou-4

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Lilacs & Cardinal

Posted by: • Date:

I am very weary tonight and so shall just leave you with these images, drawn from my memory, of the view outside our dining room window when I was a small child. Enjoy

Free Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Share Alike – Attribution – No Derivatives 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

Out-My-Window

Cardinals&Lilacs2

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

It’s Always Mother’s Day In Heaven

Posted by: • Date:

I used to dread Mother’s Day. Like way too many people, I had a difficult childhood growing up and as an adult, I had an inconsistent relationship with my mother. At times it was really wonderful but more often, it was tumultuous. My mother was an absolutely beautiful woman – she looked like a fashion model – she was bright, vivacious, had a great sense of humor, adored animals, volunteered as a Brownie and Girl Scout Counselor, volunteered at the local Veterans Hospital, wrote poetry, loved going to the movies, art museums, live theater, and reading trashy novels. Yet I don’t think that she ever was genuinely happy or comfortable inside her skin. There was always an undercurrent of fear and anger and estrangement. She was extremely critical of her children – on purpose. She believed parents are supposed to point out every single error their child may make or non-perfect trait their child may have. I never once doubted that her intent was good – she truly wanted to help us to be the best we could be – but her way of going about it could really hurt. Mom never learned how to simply observe and listen to her children (or her husbands for that matter) and so was incapable of providing guidance in a subtle, respectful way. Essentially, she never figured out how to differentiate between herself and her family. What I mean by that is, there is a huge difference between recognizing your child may have inherited this or that physical and non-physical traits from you and keeping in mind that you are responsible for keeping them healthy and safe and teaching them the skills and values needed to stand on their own as a kind, wise, loving adult and contributing member to society – versus – thinking your children are an actual extension of yourself. My Mom was unable to grasp this concept and I think she was aware that there was some great important “secret” she was missing and was deeply troubled as a result.

Even as a very young child, a part of me always understood, instinctively, that my mother was hurting and “broken” in some way and I knew that it wasn’t totally her fault. Although I loved her very much and felt great compassion for her, at the same time, I was always terrified around my mother, even as an adult, as I never knew when she would suddenly change from my gorgeous, fun “Momma” to the screaming, violent stranger that lived deep inside her. It got so bad that when I was 14, I was placed in a Foster Home for a year (with a very loving family whom I remain close to even to this day, forty years later.) At 17, I moved out on my own, 1500 miles away, as I feared for my life. Yet I never stopped loving my Mom. I kept in touch with her through occasional letters and phone calls every couple of weeks and we actually were able to grow closer that way from a safe distance. But even then, Mother’s Day was always the worst day of the year, regardless of where I lived. Perhaps it was because of her insecurities as a person and especially as a mother, that made Momma pin such intense importance to the day. Whatever, I knew that for the last few weeks of April, she would begin the harping, begging, then screaming and finally the “silent treatment” when she realized that I would not be coming down to Florida to see her. It was both heartbreaking and aggravating and got worse every year but I knew that it was for the best in the long run that I stay far away.

It’s been a dozen years now since my Mom tragically passed away at a relatively early age. Now, rather than dreading Mother’s Day and trembling inside with terror, I find myself with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, and praying that she can see me and hear me and feel what’s inside my heart. Not a day has gone by in my entire life that I have not spent a significant amount of time thinking about my Mom. Time, distance, and having to face my own mortality has been kind when it comes to my memories and relationship with my Mother. I haven’t forgotten there were bad times, but 90% of the time, I’m thinking about the good times. Although my Mom thought she was a complete failure as a mother, the fact she indeed didn’t always have the best of parenting skills, and found it impossible to live by what she preached, I marvel at how much my mother really taught me and how much I’ve relied on her words of wisdom in my adult life and in raising my son. I talk to her all the time these days – inside my head and inside my heart – and I feel like she is with me – not as she was, but as she wanted to be: relaxed, happy, wise, content, and supportive.

Is there such a thing as Heaven after we die? Logistically, I have a very hard time trying to figure out how that would work and where it may be and even why it would even exist. But spiritually, I like to think that Heaven is all around and within us and that Momma is finally at peace and enjoying Mother’s Day – with me right beside her – every single day.

Happy Mother’s Day, my friends.

Free Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

FantasyPansies

HappyMother'sDay

Katie-Geranium

HappyMother'sDay2

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

I’ve FELT Spring In The Air!

Posted by: • Date:

With the sunshine and warm temperatures this week, we have crocuses in bloom all around the yard and a family of 5 deer arrived to feed on them. As much as I love the blossoms, I just don’t have the heart to shoo the deer away. So much construction in the neighborhood the past 5 years has just about wiped out their feeding grounds and the poor animals are starving. The suburb I live in has made it against the law to feed the deer (along with the occasional bear and mountain lion) because it allows them to survive and proliferate. In other words, they want the wild life to starve to death, else they’ll become “pests” and have to be shot.

Now, I’m not a fanatic by any means and I understand that humans have needs and rights, as well. But the theory behind the law is a lot harder to take when I find myself face to face with a doe and her fawns. Somehow, being near the top of the food chain isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Yeah, I admit it. I’m a wimp when it comes to Bambi and Thumper.

What bugs me most about it though is that while all this “new” construction has replaced what had formerly been woodlands, there are blocks of homes and commercial buildings that stand unwanted, empty, and rotting and attracting their own brand of “wild life” as a result. It seems so wasteful and cruel to allow this sprawl to continue while there already is land to be used. From my experience working in the construction field, I’m well aware of the costs and other possible negatives of having to demolish an existing building and do environmental clean-up. But such endeavors are in the best interests of the whole community so those costs should be off-set in part through tax incentives and other public funds. That’s how it works in some neighborhoods or for certain types of buildings – but not all. And so the creeping blight and hungry deer continue to grow.

Sorry, folks. I hadn’t intended to get into a rant here tonight.

What I did intend to do was to welcome my second favorite season of the year – Spring – and note that Easter is early this year and just around the corner. To celebrate it all, I’ve created a great big icon/clip art set in a style that mimics those felt cut-outs we made back in grade school and bright green felt desktops and scrapbook album pages to serve as a suitable backdrop. Along with the Easter themed images, I’ve included a new alphabet (also felted) that includes all capitals, small letters, numerals, punctuation and some commonly used symbols. Enjoy!

Free Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives – Share Alike- 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

Felted Violets

Felted-Bunny-1 Felted-Bunny-2

Felted-Poppies

felted-egg-2 Felted-Egg-1

Felted-Rose Felted-Egg-3

Felted-Easter-Basket

Felted-Alphabet-Preview

Download is a zipped file containing #26 Capital Letters, #26 Lower-Case Letters, #0-9, plus assorted punctuation and common symbols.

Felted Desktop Preview

Download is a zipped file contains backgrounds in the following sizes: 1920×1200 (px), 1600×1200 (px), and 1024×768 (px).