Wednesday, March 31, 2010

On the Anniversary of my Sister's Death - April 1, 2009

Janeen Veronica Kavaney (1954-2009)

My dear sister, It was one year ago that you silently slipped off this planet. There was no plaintive death rattle, only a soft, faint exhale and you were gone. I had sat vigil for nine days and nights holding your hand, always surveying your semi-comatose face for the occassional, precious sign that you were still there. It had been the middle of the night when I arrived at your bedside and you were still seizing repeatedly. Yet I saw you try to focus with all your strength as you attemped to say my name but all you could manage to say was "" I knew then you were still there.

Years before I had become helplessly co-dependent on you as I tried everything I could think of to save you. But I couldn't. Only you could do that. But you never did. Sobriety terrified you. Over the years you had lost so much of yourself and your life in your freefall that I could not leave you too. Along the way I had to accept that addiction was going to be your life, and I would love you in spite of it. But I also had to distance myself enough so as not to lose myself too. But we stayed in regular contact and I followed the tragic path of your life.

In the end, the doctors kept saying you would only survive another day or two, but after a while they stopped trying to predict the hour of your departure. They were repeatedly surprised by your tenacity, but I wasn't. You always were the most stubborn one of all of us. You had to be, that's how you survived - that's how we all survived. And I saw it in the end from you too with the frequent periods of agonizing frustration like a maddeningly redundant silent scream, realizing all you wanted to do was to get out of that bed and leave to resume your dying in a place of your own choosing - but you couldn't. So I would request more frequent medication to ease your agitation knowing with each added dose you were leaving me more and more. But it would be selfish to try to hold on to you. The last few mornings I was awakening always at 4:30 AM in the chair beside your bed from the few hours of sleep I would take. As I did so on that last day I knew things were different; the feverishness was gone, your skin felt cooler already and your breathing was barely perceptible. At 5:00 AM you slipped quietly away as I held your hand. Incredibly, you had survived 12 days without any nourishment or IV fluids. You did not want to go but you could no longer stay. As the sun rose, a slight whisper of a breath was your last farewell. I realized long ago I could not save you, but in the end I discovered I could help you in the leaving of this life. I did the best I could. I made many mistakes along the way, but I think I got it right in the end. Your death changed my life. I will always miss you my little sister. Love, Maureen

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Three Songs of Shattering by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Three Songs of Shattering


The first rose on my rose-tree
   Budded, bloomed, and shattered,
During sad days when to me
          Nothing mattered.

Grief of grief has drained me clean;
   Still it seems a pity
No one saw,--it must have been
          Very pretty.


Let the little birds sing;
   Let the little lambs play;
Spring is here; and so 'tis spring;--
   But not in the old way!

I recall a place
   Where a plum-tree grew;
There you lifted up your face,
   And blossoms covered you.

If the little birds sing,
   And the little lambs play,
Spring is here; and so 'tis spring--
   But not in the old way!


All the dog-wood blossoms are underneath the tree!
   Ere spring was going--ah, spring is gone!
And there comes no summer to the like of you and me,--
   Blossom time is early, but no fruit sets on.

All the dog-wood blossoms are underneath the tree,
   Browned at the edges, turned in a day;
And I would with all my heart they trimmed a mound for me,
   And weeds were tall on all the paths that led that way!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It's nice to be appreciated!

I discovered my blog was included on's list of 100 Best Poetry Blogs on March 21, 2010. It came in as number 26! The website describes my blog as "a mishmash of artistic material, with poems, artwork, crafts, photography and paintings being posted regularly." It must always be an honor to be included on a list of the 100 best anything! I am not sure about being a "mishmash" - but since they seem to like my blog I will take the word as a good thing! When I started this blog last summer (2009) I was not sure if I could keep up with regular postings. But I knew I loved to write and I always have some new favorite item of interest to share, so I figured if I liked whatever it was good enough to blog about it, there would be others interested enough to read it. And I learned early on that good blogs present lots of "eye-candy" (beautiful images) - and I do so love pretty pictures - so it was a good fit. I have lots of plans for interesting blogs to share in the forseeable future, including my favorite artists, mostly all pre-Raphaelite; favorite children's book illustrators (my passion); favorite artist's models and actresses of the Victorian period, le Belle Epoque in Europe, and many, many more - and always with lots of beautiful images. So thanks to all of you for taking a look now and then, it means a great deal to me.

To see the list of 100 Best Poetry Blogs go here:

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Remember Easter Bonnets?

Here are some beauties for you!

Leave a Little Fallow Corner in Your Heart

"Let mystery have it's place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the ploughshare of self examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the wind may bring..."
                                                                               Henri Frederic Amiel

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Lake Isle of Innisfree by W.B.Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all aglimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day I hear lake water 
lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Celtic Harp

I spent a lovely afternoon being sweetly entertained by a Celtic harpist - or in her explanation, a "harper" since" harpist" is reserved for only those who play the larger harps. The soothing lullaby sounds produced by this little bit of Ireland suited me just fine! It all prompted me to do a little research on harps in general and the Celtic harp in particular - and it is a surprising history indeed.

Evidence supporting the existence of the harp in ancient times comes from burial chambers and wall decoration of the early Sumerian and Egyptian cultures. But it was the more portable instruments developed by the Asian nomadic tribes that bear the most resemblance to the Celtic or Gaelic harp. Smaller triangular harps appeared around the 11th century in Ireland and the Scottish Highlands for they could be easily carried on foot or on horseback.

During the Middle Ages in Europe, harpers attained great popularity and status being indispensable in the entourage of all Gaelic monarchs and nobles. In the early 1500s the British monarchy began to recognize harp music as a key component of the Irish and Scottish national identity. They became committed to stamping out the playing of harp music by means of imprisonment or even execution. In the 1650s Cromwell ordered all harps and organs throughout Ireland to be destroyed and harpers were forbidden to congregate. Queen Elizabeth I added the punishment of death by ordering all harpers to be hung and their instruments destroyed. By the late 1600s, the Irish nobility had lost much of it's wealth and influence. Many of the remaining harpers became itinerant entertainers traveling long distances to visit and play for their regular circuit of patrons. Over time harp music's popularity declined, until the 1970s brought a revival of early Irish music and instruments.

I am including a number of photos from the web of Celtic harps and harpers. Please do not use these photos in your artwork, but the vintage postcard and the vintage black and white ad are free for you to use in your work.
Information from

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Irish Toasts and Blessings

March 17th is the religious feast day and anniversary of the death of St. Patrick and has been celebrated for over 1000 years. Toasting has been used to mark special occasions for hundreds of years and for the Irish, St. Patrick's Day has always been one of those special times. Irish folklore abounds with many inspirational quotes and songs about happiness, love and luck. These stories have throughout history helped the Irish people cope with their many difficulties in life. Many of these stories and songs have been turned into Irish blessings and toasts over the years. Here are a few for your St. Patrick's Day!

This one is probably the most famous and often used:
May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
The sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again, may God
hold you in the palm of his hand.

here's another:
May you always have
Walls for the winds,
A roof for the rain,
Tea beside the fire,
Laughter to cheer you,
Those you love near you,
And all your heart might desire.

May there always be work for your hands to do,
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine on your windowpane,
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you,
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

And the shorter toasts;
May your home always be too small
to hold all your friends!
May you live as long as you want,
And never want as long as you live!
and finally:
May you be in Heaven
A half hour before the
Devil knows you're dead!

Cheers everyone! Happy St. Patrick's Day! Cead Mile Failte! (One hundred thousand welcomes!)

A Vintage St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Everyone can be an artist with this new medium! I used it here on my latest work and I want to share my technique!

See following post for how to create one yourself!

Vintage portrait printed on silk

I have listed this new piece in my shop at
This is my first new listing since Christmas as I have been busy with other things - some of them pleasant like a new grand-baby, some not so pleasant. Those are the things that steal my muse from me. But I am getting on top of those things slowly but surely.

I love this new piece and the new media available now with the use of one's inkjet printer. This is a vintage photo printed on silk with my inkjet printer. You run it through the printer just like regular paper. It is available with other fabrics like cotton which I have also used, but I prefer the feel and the luxury of the silk. I want to share this technique with everyone because it is actually quite simple and one does not have to be an artist to create this work.

I started with an 8"x 8" canvas but really a simple piece of wooden board would also work. I prefer something with relatively deep sides. Find a piece of interesting fabric, I loved the French script this fabric featured plus the beautiful natural palette. You may want some special embellishments as I chose these paper flowers, but you could use anything you wish - maybe a piece of vintage jewelry. Most of my embellishments can be found wherever scrap-booking supplies are sold. I chose a vintage photo but it could also be a contemporary one - anything you wish to use. I added some crushed velvet ribbon to wrap around the sides to complete the look, but that is not  necessary - it is all up to you. You are the creator!

Most importantly you will need the fabric you wish to print on. In this case I used fabric from InkJetPrinting by Jacquard in  silk, they also offer it in cotton sheets. The package contains 10 - 8 1/2" x 11" sheets with instructions. The sheets are paper-backed so they go easily through your printer. The printed fabric then attaches to the background fabric with an iron-on fusible bonding material like Stitch-Witchery. So choose the photo from your computer you wish to use. In my case that can be difficult since I have almost 4000 images in my Iphoto Library, choosing one can be a bit of a problem! Load one sheet of the paper backed silk or cotton fabric in your printer fabric side up or image copying side to the fabric, just like you would any other sheet of paper, and print it out. It can be black and white (or sepia) as my example or full color, again your choice. The instructions say to peel the paper backing from the fabric before attaching it but in this particular instance I left the backing on because I thought it gave it more stability. It still remains translucent as you can see. Iron the background fabric to get rid of any wrinkles. I  then fused the fabric in the size I wanted (after trimming it with scissors) to the fabric background by ironing it together with the StitchWitchery bonding material. That would have been enough but I wanted the look of the machine zigzag stitching around the image so I machine sewed it on also.  Iron it all out again.

Apply a good layer of a matte polymer medium or decoupage finish medium, I prefer Royalcoat, to the accepting surface of the canvas or other substrate. Carefully lay down your sewn fabric over the canvas being sure to place the image where you want it - usually centered - and smooth out all the air bubbles or pooled medium. Repeat the smoothing out as long as necessary. Don't worry about the sides of the piece yet. Let the image side dry overnight. Then trim the sides to have just enough fabric to be able to wrap around to the back. Apply the polymer medium to the sides and wrap just like wrapping a present. I prefer to do one side at a time and let it dry before moving on. I actually used small nails pounded right into the wooden canvas stretcher bar on the back or sides at the corners to hold the fabric corners in place. After it is all dry apply a coat or two of the polymer medium to the entire piece letting it dry between coats. Finally it is time to add your embellishments and the ribbon. I used Crafter's Pick The Ultimate glue from Michael's to attach all the embellishments - even metal. When that is dry you may want to add one more coat of the sealer polymer medium to everything including the embellishments to secure it all.

There you have it! If you have the right materials anyone can create this artwork! With this medium anyone can be an artist!

To order the Jacquard InkJet Printing fabrics go to
and search the above words.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Go among trees and sit still.

I go among trees and sit still.
All my stirring becomes quiet
Around me like circles on water.
My tasks lie in their places
Where I left them, asleep like cattle…
Then what I am afraid of comes.
I live for a while in its sight.
What I fear in it leaves it,
And the fear of it leaves me.
It sings, and I hear its song.
By Wendell Berry from Sabbaths1987, North Point Press

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