Monday, October 2, 2017


Many of you know that in July my dear mother left peacefully in her sleep, the veil of this life lifting away to leave all those who knew her somehow less and somehow more.  Perhaps that is the mystery of life.  In any event, I had been asked by so many if there would be a memorial service and nothing seemed to fit.  My mother was strong, living life on her terms but at the same time, a lover of all things tender and beautiful.  A real Yin Yang... so what was needed was a joyful celebration of her long and most interesting life. But I had no idea what or how that should be accomplished.
Don’t you love aha moments?  I certainly do and one morning in a flash of insight I knew instantly what should be done.  If you’ve followed my blog, you’ve seen many postings of parties given by 'The Hostess With The Mostest', my extraordinary friend Valerie Foster Hoffman. When I read a copy of a note mom had written Valerie rhapsodizing about the lovely party she had given for my birthday and how Valerie was such a thoughtful, loving hostess it all became clear.  I phoned Valerie telling her I’d be close by the next day and asked if I could drop by to discuss something AFTER lunch. Well….I was stunned beyond description to be greeted by the most lovely tea setting by Chef Josie, and feeling both girlie and elegant.
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IMG 3968Thank you talented Josie!
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Slightly spoiled?  No.  Greatly!
IMG 3959When I proposed the idea of holding the celebration in Valerie’s home she didn’t hesitate a moment and in fact mentioned ‘Butterflies’ which was what we always called my mother ….’The Butterfly’! Valerie has an amazing staff and the next thing to do was to have a meeting with Valerie, Chef Josie and Assistant Helga to discuss the menu and logistics.  Amy was to be included as her extraordinary flowers were called for.
IMG 4456At that meeting we decided on a color theme for the tables and Amy’s beautiful flowers.
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Another member of the team wanted in on the voting.IMG 4429The menu was decided upon:
Appetizers to be passed about (Everyone wants the recipe for Josie’s cheese puffs!)
Grilled Salmon
Slow Cooked Beef Brisket
Honey Baket Ham & Condiments (Mustard, Mayo, Chutney)
Au Gratin Potatoes
Marinated Grilled Vegetables
Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, Butter
Mesclun Salad with Candied Pecans, Dates, Goat Cheese & Raspberry Vinaigrette
Fresh Fruit
Cheese Plate
Chocolate Layer Cake
Frosted Brownies
Lemon Crisp Cookies
Prosecco Sparkling Wine
Cranberry Juice, Sparkling Water
Coffee, Tea
I then went with Josie and Helga to decide where and how everything would be set up in the garden and determining the number of staff needed for the evening along with the valets required.
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After all the suggestions, discussing and finalizing, Amy & I were treated to a lovely lunch prepared by Josie and served in another area of the garden.
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When we left, it was time for Josie to walk Prince and Vanessa.IMG 4558So far….so good.  Time for Nikka to send out the ‘Save the Date’ announcements and then start work on designing the invitations.  The most complicated project was putting together two posters, one to be photos of friends and the second, moments in mom’s life.  No easy task getting that all together.
I then prevailed on dear Lisa Bowman who sang at our wedding, to find a singer and accompanist.  Boy, can I ever delegate!
When Charles and I were married we had our guests release butterflies and it was such a memorable event it only seemed fitting that I do the same for the celebration for my mom.  A hundred butterflies were ordered but I will caution you….If you want to have Monarchs you have to order months in advance as we were only able to get 3!
The butterflies arrive the day before the event with instructions on keeping them in their somnolent state.  In other words you’re baby sitting a box of butterflies for 24 hours, changing the ice packs in the box every 12 hours!
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I then chose assorted greeting cards for party favors. Charles had made cards from mom’s original work done when she attended my classes and I also included three sketches that mom had done in high school.  I was stunned by them and will tell you honestly I could not have done this while I was in high school!!IMG 3780
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We also included mom’s favorite quote from Emerson which I will show you in the next blog.  The boxes were wrapped with yellow ribbons and embellished with butterflies…..but of course!IMG 4532
To be continued…………...

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There is no avoiding the pull of the internet, the blogs, the YouTube imaginings. It's as if we're all 'On the Road' with Jack Kerouac each in our own world of meanderings. When we tell someone to 'get a life' it might be a bit difficult when you're dragged into other people's 24/7.

I've come to realize two foundational principals, there are no accidents and everyone has a purpose. More and more I'm desiring everyone to come into a full realization of their purpose as we all find our way on this little jewel of a planet.

For me, as a professional 'Western style artist', I stumbled into Chinese Brush Painting after a trip in 1980 to Monet's home/garden. Seeing all of his collection of Japanese woodblock prints was an ahh haa moment for me and when I returned to the States I started painting in the Chinese manner and never looked back. The first year was extremely painful for me as I felt that I should be able to master the technique since I was a 'trained' artist. Not a chance ... that just gets in your way.

Now, after teaching close to 3,000 students and having my book 'The Ch'i of the Brush' published by Watson Guptill, I can say that every one of my students does better their first day than I did my first year! Why? Because I insist that they leave their critical parent outside and just enjoy the journey, respecting the work that they do. I never let anyone throw anything away because that just ingrains frustration and defeat.

We really only begin to learn when we stop and figure out how to 'save' a painting. It works every time.I am so proud of my students, their receptivity and eagerness to express themselves is a continuing blessing for me.So, back to finding your purpose. Perhaps it starts with realizing 'it's not about me'. It so easy to want our needs met and to filter everything thru this attitude. When we realize that we're here to be of benefit to every life that we touch the universe really provides the ways and means.

The best part is that it's really exciting to not have yourself on your mind all the time!I'm re-reading a wonderful book about authenticity and in my next meandering I'll tell you about it. In the meantime I'd love to hear about your journey and am here to answer any and all questions about Chinese Brush Painting.