Thursday, June 29, 2006

Watermelon Summer ... for Poetry Thursday

When I was in highschool, I lived on Long Island, close to the Sound, where my summers were taken up with swimming, waterskiing, clamming and all things water ... mostly saltwater ... and boys, of course. The years I spent there were some of the most memorable of my life ... everything was good. My parent's were very strict ... I wasn't allowed to date until I was a senior. But what they did for me was to throw the most wonderful clambakes on the fourth of July, where all of my friends were welcome.

A few years ago, at this time of year, while I was in the car driving down a street I drive down everyday, I caught a of whiff of something in the air. I don't know what it was, but I was immediately transported back in time to the summers of my teenage years. This poem was the result.

Watermelon Summer

Saltwater memories
shimmer on the surface
of my sixteenth year
possibility an endless wave
as I grip the tow rope
zigzag back and forth
through spumy swells
holiday friends power
the dream that
pulls me along

Above the sluice
where tides rush in
and out with the moon
we jostle and jump
from the board
summer romance
sizzling on beach blankets
tucked among the dunes

At dusk we dig for clams
place them in the pit
we shoveled in the sand
where tasseled corn plump
potatoes and lobsters bake
beneath layers of
steaming seaweed

Night anchors the dark
with starry skies
we toast marshmallows
in glowing coals
rinse sticky torsos
in the splash
of salty flirtation
stroll the shoreline
away from parental view
hands touching
shy kisses sweet
as fleshy melons
ripened in summer sun


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Blue Hydrangea

Blue Hydrangea

We've had over 5 inches of rain in 8 days! Everything is waterlogged including some of the things in my luggage that got lost at Dulles on Monday. Got it back last night though, with no damage or loss. The river is a muddy, reddish-brown with lots of stuff like old tree limbs passing by. The birds that were wet and disheveled yesterday are now dried out and very clean. Parts of the garden that were flattened by the intensity of the downpour are springing upward again. I'm springing back to life as well and look forward to posting a poem tomorrow for Poetry Thursday!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Home Again!

Purple Coneflower

Home again and the gift of over 4 inches of rain while I was away, made my homecoming yesterday afternoon all the more wonderful with the garden really looking beautiful. Purple coneflowers, crocosmia, and yarrow are gorgeous at the moment. Black-eyed Susans aren't far behind.

I'd stopped filling in empty spaces in the garden well over a month ago because I feared we'd be in a severe drought this summer. Just before I left for Chicago the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority declared a "Drought Watch," as area reservoirs including this one were getting low. This was intended to get people to start conserving water ... to my mind, people should always be conserving water ... then the rains came and it's still coming down.

We won't know if this will have a major impact on our water woes ... it all depends on whether the overly dry patterns we've been experiencing return or not ... and whether people will continue to conserve. For now I keep my fingers crossed and will remain at the ready to do a rain dance should it become dry again.

Although I am filled with joy over the rain, there are people who are experiencing major flooding and other difficulties because of it. My heart goes out to them, hoping that their woes will soon be over. It seems unfair that when we pray for something like rain, some people may be harmed by the good we are wishing for.

I had a rewarding time in Chicago. I'm glad to be back and feel renewed and ready for the next chapter as it unfolds.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Takin' a Break

Coleus In My Garden

Just like batteries for my handy, dandy digital camera, my batteries are in need of a recharge. In the morning I'll load myself onto a plane and be transported to Chicago where I'll take a day just to relax, visit with some friends and immerse myself into some intense spiritual work. I'll come home next Monday, hopefully ready to face the world with some new perspective and a renewed spirit that can bare the blows of whatever comes next.

The last few weeks have been taxing. We recently found out that my mother's lung cancer has returned after a very short but sweet remission. She will do some chemo, but we are told that when the cancer comes back so quickly, it is very difficult to treat. She thankfully has opted not to do the suggested radiation. She has severe emphysema and the radiation, every day for 5 to 6 weeks, could have damaged her lungs even further and made things much worse.

I think she's getting tired. She's said that she's had a great life, but right now, being hooked to an oxygen tank 24/7 and being witness to the state of world, her life isn't exactly joyful. So the coming months could become difficult.

On Easter weekend this past April we held a family reunion here of family members who haven't seen each other in years. Some had never met. My mom was the oldest (83 years) and the only one left from her generation ... the matriarch. She had a great time and I'm so greatful that I had the chance to do that for her. I want to be here for her and do what ever I can to make her as comfortable as possible in the coming months.

So until next week, I leave you with a few photos of what's blooming in my garden.

Japanese Iris With Visitor

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Blessings On Your Garden

Monday, June 19, 2006

Forty-One Grand Years

June 19, 1965
That was us forty-one years ago! Wow!

There we are on our trip to Alaska, 18 years later!

Just five years ago!


Sunday, June 18, 2006

My Dad

Thomas Zabski

Today I'm remembering my dad ...
horseback riding ... water skiing ... sailing
... clam bakes ... drive-in movies
... artist ...

Veteran of WWII

Saturday, June 17, 2006

My Muse

This is my muse. She hangs out in my studio and directs everything I create there. She is full of love as you can tell from her big heart ... which has wings so that she can send love out and around the world to anyone who needs some.

That's how I found her. I was feeling in need of a little something while I was trying to start a painting that didn't seem to be going anywhere. The next thing I knew, there she was, staring at me, from the canvas.

You probably can tell that she loves color ... especially red. She has encouraged me to go with primary Crayola type colors. The use of subtle ones lacks passion, according to her. She says actions can be quiet and subtle, but that I need to present the way I really feel inside through my artwork and dress. She said, "Releasing joy in troubled times keeps the earth from spinning out of orbit."

What does your muse look like? What has she told you?

My Muse, 22 x 28, oil on canvas

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Poetry Thursday

Lilies, copyright 2006, Joan Z. Rough

May Garden

Roses palest pink
climb the trellis
their sweet bouquet
perfumes air
petals silky
like newborn skin
drift away
as the month turns
toward summer

Yellow flags
white bearded iris
sway with blue
false indigo
greening buds
of purple cone flower
lilies swollen buds
bursting fiery orange

Yesterday's shower
eases no one's fear
of summer drought
I fancy ink black clouds
resounding thunder
a heaven sent deluge
to freshen waning rills

Spiderwort's escaped
to the riverbank
where she surely finds water
to wet her thirsty feet


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Little Miracles

Dew laden Spider Web #1, copyright 1984, Joan Z. Rough

As I child, looking up at a star studded sky on an ink black night was a wonderful thing to do ... but I always felt too far away from it all ... it's all so impossibly vast and I couldn't get close enough to see what was going on.

I think that is why I've always been interested in the little worlds that exist everywhere around us ... a colony of ants ... bees visiting flowers ... spiders spinning their fine silk webs. All independent of us humans who think we run the show. The universe spreads out over our heads, going on and on forever. But it also exists right here, on and in the earth ... it also goes on and on forever. There is no beginning, no end.

These photos were taken when I first started using a camera to try to record some of the little miracles that go on everyday just beyond the blind spot that keeps us from really looking at what is around us.

Trap Door Spider In Dew Laden Web, copyright 1984, Joan Z. Rough

Tomorrow when you go outside take a minute to really look ... find a miracle in the every day world that is just beyond your blind spot.

Friday, June 09, 2006

My Manikin, Mirelda

This is a photo of Mirelda. I used her a number of years ago as a subject for a series of hand manipulated images I called, Playing With Dolls, which I'll go into another time.

For today, if you look at her her glazed eyes, that's how I'm feeling. I get soooo lost in this computer and so frustrated that if anyone even says my name I can't hear it. And if I do, watch out ... your head may be blown away.

The good news is that I just scheduled a 3 hour tutorial for next week with a local fellow who is going to teach me how to use this #$$%@ thing and finally get it right! So until then, I can't publish the photo I wanted to today, but I will do it next week and I hope it will be worth the wait. For me, not you!

I didn't want to let the day go by though without mentioning 2 sites I highly recommend. Both have to do with creativity and will be in my links once I learn how to post those. I've been working on that since April and still can't get that set up!

The first, is a blog, my daughter's to be exact. Her last two posts were very inspiring to me. So check those out at The two posts I'm talking about are entitled: Pro-Strife and Room to Grow.

The other place is a free newsletter I get twice a week and today's post is about healing through creativity... also inspiring for me, especially on a day like today. Called, Robert Genns Twice Weekly Letter, go to robert@the, to the June 9th letter. He always has interesting things to say about art, painting, whatever.

So, knowing that all of my problems will be taken care of next week, I plan on not sweating the blog stuff and just relaxing for now. See you all next time ... hopefully in a much better mood.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Poetry Thursday

Iris, copyright 2006, Joan Z. Rough

Through The Lens

Petals fall Away
Secret Landscapes
Painted ladies
Bumble bees
Gather Nectar
Filters silky veils
Pearls of dew
Edge loosely woven folds
Grain of pollen
Soft breaths of deliverance
Dieties float through the frame
Inviting me to follow


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

All You Need Is Love

Climbing Roses, copyright 2006, Joan Z. Rough

There's nothing you can do that can't be done
Nothin' you can sing that can't be sung
Nothin' you can say, but you can learn how to play the game
It's easy...

Nothin' you can make that can't be made
No one you can save that can't be saved
Nothin' you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love in all you need

Nothin' you can know that isn't known
Nothin' you can see that isn't shown
Nowhere you be that isn't where you're meant to be
It's easy ...

All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need

By The Beatles

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

On Having A Bee In My Bonnet

I don't know, maybe I had a few bad dreams last night or last night's dinner didn't agree with me. But you can say I got up on the wrong side of the bed.

My husband of 41 years and I wake up to the radio coming on, tuned to NPR. Though I love that station, the news today made me angry. Instead of being able to report that our government is hard at work on a new health care program that meets the needs of everyone ... or that the President has decided to bring our troops home from Iraq tomorrow and will sign the Kyoto Protocol, demanding drastic reductions in the amount of green house gases this nations spills into the air, NPR had to report this week's big story ... about the fight for a constitutional ammendment to ban same sex marriage ... as if two women or two men living together are planning to blow up the white house. If that wasn't bad enough when I turned on the tv to catch the local weather forecast, there was Mat Lauer of the Today Show, inter- viewing a political writer, who shall remain nameless, about her latest book, in which she states that the widows of 9/11 have been out there enjoying their husband's deaths ... you know, because they're now millionaires and not only have fortune but are gaining fame, because they dare to speak out about that tragic event and how our government might have prevented it from happening.

I kind of feel like I've been hit over the head with a red hot poker and that the looney bin wagon will soon be coming to take me away! You understand, I must be crazy if I have to ask what has happened to love and kindness in this country ... What kind of world are we living in ... What has happened to the values and ideals of our founding fathers???

That the divorce rate in this country is high and that children of divorce are generally suffering and not well adjusted doesn't seem to bother those who are homophobic. That there are babies crying in their cribs while their parents are out using a mix of drugs doesn't seem to bother them. That there are a growing number of homeless children whose parents can't find jobs doesn't seem to bother them. That the numbers of people who have no health insurance is growing doesn't seem to bother them. That makes me crazy!

That we're gasing ourselves and killing our planet with green house gases just doesn't seem as important to them as keeping two people of the same sex, who care and are committed to each other from enjoying a few of the priveleges that married hetero couples do. That makes me crazy!

I am the mother of a lesbian daughter and proud of it. She has a wonderful life partner and two of best behaved children I've come across in a long time. They are kind and loving and I would trust them with my life, my nation, my world in a heartbeat! There aren't any pretty pictures on my blog today folks, because this picture isn't pretty.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Best of Summer

Clematis , copyright 2006, Joan Z. Rough

I've never been fond of summer in Virginia. I spent 20 years living in northeastern Vermont and I've never quite gotten used to the heat and humidity that we experience in this part of the world, especially during July and August. My favorite season of all here is the fall ... crisp October with a bit of Indian Summer thrown in is just perfect. Then there is luscious spring and the greening of every corner of my world. Winter here isn't too bad either. I enjoy the cold weather and don't mind the snow if there isn't too much of it. That leaves summer last in line and as June winds its way into July, I often experience a feeling of dread.

Last year I decided that every June, I would make a list of all the things that I really do love about the summer, rather than wishing the time away until the first frost coats the garden and I detect woodsmoke in the evening air.

So here is my list or at least a start:

The colors ... the gold and brown of blackeyed susans, the blues, greens and yellows of hosta growing in the shade, the pink and orange of echinacea and all of the other plants that grace my garden. I love weeding at twilight or early in the morning.

The farmer's market ... juicy heirloom tomatoes, basil, dill and mint ... fresh raspberries, blueberries and the best peaches in the whole world ... corn on the cob dripping with butter ... locally grown cantelope and watermelon ... and bouquets of flowers I don't grow myself.

I love sitting on my screened-in porch at dusk watching the night come on. The way the light slowly fades and the night music begins ... frogs, toads, locusts, an owl in the distance. I love lightning bugs and remembering how as a child I used to catch them in a jar ... the moon reflected on the river.

Early morning bird song ... the wood thrush ... blue birds ... humming birds ... goldfinches ... carolina wrens ... cardinals and mockingbirds ... watching them bathe in the birdbath and feeding their young at the feeders.

I love sudden afternoon showers and the coolness they bring. I love going outside into the heat after being in air conditioned rooms for too long ... then when I can't stand it any more, going back inside.

I love knowing that the hours pass the same way they do in the winter, only we get more light. I love Labor Day and remembering my excitement as we'd get ready to go back to school.

So that's my list. On the negative side there aren't that many things ... only heat and humidity.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Poetry Thursday

This is the time of year the turtles from the river come up on shore to lay their eggs. This gal arrived this morning and I found her in my driveway headed for an adjacent field. She is a Cooter and about 12" from stem to stern. I snapped her photo, got out of the way and wished her well. The odds of the eggs hatching are pretty slim. In the next few weeks we will find nests throughout the meadow that have been excavated; the eggs eaten by raccoons and skunks. Pieces of the leathery shell will be the only thing remaining.

I wrote this poem several years ago at this time of year.

for Barbara Kelly

In driving rain a spotted turtle climbs the hill
bony armor scraping a path
through thickets of sedges
meadows of weeds

She digs a nest
one scoop of earth at a time
deep dark warm enough
to hold opalescent eggs
that spill from her body

Work finished she refills the hollow
slowly shuffles back to the river
slipping through mud
to her watery world
forgetting her labor

You and I spend our days
watching and waiting
first words first steps
long nights tortuous hours
the comforting sound of a car coming home
long letters from distant lands
through peace and war we push
the threat away as it steals through our dreams

The turtle basks in the sun on a fallen log