Praising Mother Earth

April 22, 2015 § 1 Comment

“I love not man the less, but Nature more.” ~ Lord Byron


After a month or more of intensely intense (yes, twice for emphasis) deadlines ~ sanity sustained by pure will, innumerable chats with the Universe, bouts of lavender sniffing and heaping doses of hot fudge ~ I look out my window and see a lone tulip in an unexpected spot, happy and proud as can be where it landed; and while admiring this cheerful sprout, I’m reminded that we have arrived at Earth Day.

In my still rattled brain, I can’t recall if there’s something more significant to Earth Day than honoring this amazing planet we call home, but that’s enough for me.

I grew up with woods as my private playground, with lawn and gardens and trees attentively cared for by my farmer-turned-engineer father whose love for the earth was profound ~ all of which found its way into my mother’s poetry and onto my the pages of my sketchbooks (when my presence wasn’t required for the dreaded chore of weeding). It also found its way into my heart.

I am a lover of the earth. I have, on occasion, been known to hug trees. I find solace in mountains, renewal in the sea, joy in the nightingale’s song and peace while digging in the dirt. I love a cathedral ceiling of deep green hickory leaves as much as the wide open, top-down desert sky watching over red clay carpet and brightly colored lizards and noble cactus families. Grass between my toes. Wind in my hair. Sun on my skin. Rain on my roof. All of it.

The earth is miracle after miracle. Inspiration. Replenishment. It is living, breathing strength, tenderness, wisdom and resilience.

Be good to Mother Earth. She is our lifeblood.


My Lucky Pencil

March 16, 2015 § Leave a comment


A little St. Patrick’s Day inspiration, a few quick strokes on a paper scrap, and my lucky pencil is born.

Now, if only I were Irish and found me a pot o’ gold. (Or maybe the leprechaun comes first. Or is it the rainbow?) Until then, pencil lead will have to do, with a shamrock for good measure and a favorite Irish blessing for you. Happy St. Pat’s!


May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.


Outrageous Happiness #16: Purple Doors and Other Beautiful Things

March 1, 2015 § 4 Comments


As the snow rages on here in the northeast, winter stubbornly insisting on showing its power over mortal beings, my discontent (affectionately called cabin fever) is assuaged by firewood and chocolate and beautiful things.

Because beauty, even in the middle of winter, is always within arms reach. The snowfall itself is a thing of beauty; but even then, yes, one gets restless for gardens and seagulls and afternoons on the porch. So I find bits of joy and comfort in things out of reach ~ things I can imagine, or dream of, or plan for. And somehow, just knowing that the purple doors below exist somewhere makes me happy.

Right, right, things, in and of themselves, do not “make us happy”. And what an empty existence it would be if we prized things over love, laughter and companionship. But our hearts can make us happy, and things can touch our hearts. Beautiful things.

Like a gorgeously purple garden gate, detailed by someone’s skilled hand. Like a well-made chest of drawers, or a child’s painting. An exquisite vase, a red cardinal on a branch, the smell of muffins in the oven, a tulip field, a perfectly comfortable chair with a lovely covering. All things of beauty in their way – expressions of love, a medium for experiencing this life with all the senses; to touch and see and hear and feel the endless multitudes of tastes and textures we have the opportunity to know.

What is life if not for diving in to sample its delicious variety. And what magnitude abounds! Even if we can’t see, hear or touch every bit, we can appreciate God’s – the Universe’s – the Great Creator’s – handiwork at every single turn. And the fruits of our own labors, too – the music, the art, the dance, the carefully crafted violin, the windmill, the garden gate.

We can appreciate the lush carpet beneath our feet, whether made of wool or sand or heather.

And when we do that, when we step out of our daily this-or-that, when we unclench our engagement with what’s wrong or what doesn’t feel good or what hurts or what’s bothersome, we elevate our experience. And what can be faulty with that?

We’re only here for an instant. We can believe it’s to struggle and fight, or we can believe it’s to learn and uplift. We can admire and expand, or we can shut down. We can stay small or we can let our spirits breathe large. We can be held captive by the world’s ills, or we can spread more light.

Beauty, and beautiful things, are a physical gift for our human experience. Seek beauty. Surround yourself. And let purple doors and other beautiful things do what they’re meant to do; nurture and inspire.


purple door

How’s your Outrageous Happiness going?


PS: I haven’t been able to find the original source for these 2 photos. They are not my own, and I would love to give proper credit if anyone knows.

Twelve Months of Flowers

February 20, 2015 § 4 Comments

If only it were true. Unless you count holly berries, there’s really not much in the way of floral color during northeastern winter months.

But “Twelve Months of Flowers” can be had via art prints, from the series published in 1730 by renowned British horticulturist and author Robert Furber. Mr. Furber’s name is the one most highly attributed to these exquisite prints, and while I’m grateful that he provided the insight, substantial research and knowledge (and, no doubt, the funds) to produce the collection, I’m mostly interested in the artistry.

Two of these prints hung in our dining room during my growing-up years – one May, one November, the months of my parent’s birthdays. Much admired, they gave a rich, subtle elegance to a modest space (and now that I think of it, may have influenced my own interest in drawing things botanical) ~ but in all those years, strangely, I don’t remember talking about the artist. So I went looking.

I discovered that the meticulously hand-colored engravings were created by English engraver Henry Fletcher, based on the paintings of Flemish-born artist Pieter Casteels, and that Twelve Months of Flowers was originally produced as a gardening guide in catalogue format and sold by subscription. (They also produced an equally stunning second series, Twelve Months of Fruits.) The images were aimed at wealthy landowners interested in growing plants for beauty more than functionality.

Each work is a glorious detail of plants in seasonal bloom, with each plant numbered, and, at the time, a list of the corresponding names. More than 400 plant species were featured. This was no small project. Huge talent. Enormous dedication to both botany and craft.

And so, a few centuries later, I thank them the three of them: Furber, Fletcher and Casteels ~ for their luscious collaboration of study, talent and skill. They are so beautiful, I would even venture to call them a labor of love. But that’s what art is.













Some Love & Literary Candy

February 13, 2015 § Leave a comment


Two Tulips / © Patricia Saxton


Ah, Cupid, Roman God of Love ~ fickle, passionate, whose darting arrows don’t always hit the target ~ every year on February 14th we celebrate you nonetheless. And we celebrate love: the language of poets, songs of the heart, threads that bind us throughout time, the essence of life itself.

While I can count a few especially thoughtful, and even romantic, Valentine’s Day experiences, yea, well, those went all wrong in the end (beware the man who writes you poetry, a friend once told me…), so instead I turn to the unscathed memories of shared Valentines from grammar school, or the hand-made kindergarten cards we gave to our parents, with big red construction paper hearts and white lace around the edges, filled with unabashed adoration. And those we give our own children, marked with a thousand x’s and o’s.

And yet, despite what might seem a dose of romantic cynicism, I am a true believer. In love. Love is everything. Every task we do, everyone word we utter, every hand we shake, is made better if there’s love in it. Love is the root. Love is the cause. Love is the purpose. Love is all.

So I welcome any reason to honor love. Let sweethearts swoon. Let the day be thick with roses and chocolates for all who’ve ever felt the exultation ~ or the sting ~ from Cupids’ arrows, all who’ve felt their heart swell, their color blush, their energy soar and their selfishness cease.

And with or without a “Valentine”, fill your hearts with love. Love for self, love for others, love for your pets, for your garden, for your books, for your bicycle, for your favorite chair. Even for the guy trying to make a left turn on a busy street. Raise up the heart quotient all around, and feel the peace that settles in when tension is replaced by unbridled love.

Celebrate love. Read some poetic literary candy. Smell a rose. Give someone a cupcake. Smile because love still exists in this mad world.

Love is Not All (Sonnet XXX), Edna St. Vincent Millay

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution’s power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.


18th Sonnet, William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.


How Do I Love Thee? (Sonnet 43), Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.


Love’s Philosophy, Percy Bysshe Shelley

The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean;
The winds of heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In another’s being mingle–
Why not I with thine?

See, the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister flower could be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea;–
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?

Week #24, 52 Weeks of Peace

A Plethora of P’s / #81, 82, 83, 84, 85 & 86

February 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

proactively punctuating life with the plausible, powerful possibilities of positive thought presented through a plethora of “P’s”.

– ♥ –

#81: Purge

saxton.P_purgeClutter is not our friend. Clutter = chaos = confusion.

So get rid of it. Toss it. Shake it off. Wipe the slate. Clear the way. Cleanse! Have a purification ritual if you must, but do part with doesn’t serve you. “Stuff”, relationships, situations, behaviors and unproductive emotions ~ all can weigh us down or tangle us in a snarled mess.

That said, there’s no need to go for an all out, bonkers-mad purging frenzy. No need to be reckless. Even just a bit at a time feels good; enough to lighten the load.

Consider your peace of mind. We all accumulate some chaos, whether internal or external, mental or physical,  a lot or a little, and boy does it feel great to purge!

– ♥ –

#82: Plumbingsaxton.P_plumbing

I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of plumbing. Having traveled quite a bit, I think I can say with some confidence that here in the good ol’ USA, we have some of the best plumbing in the world. Knowing this makes me flush with pride.

It also makes me thank my lucky stars to live in modern times. Indoor plumbing didn’t come about til end of the 19th century, when its wonders were heavily promoted by London plumber Thomas Crapper. (No kidding!) According to Wikipedia: The flushing toilet was invented by John Harrington in 1596. Joseph Bramah of Yorkshire patented the first practical water closet in England in 1778. George Jennings in 1852 also took out a patent for the flush-out toilet. In a time when bathroom fixtures were barely spoken of, plumber Thomas Crapper heavily promoted sanitary plumbing and pioneered the concept of the bathroom fittings showroom.

And now you know.


– ♥ –

#83: Pulchritude


Some say it was Cleopatra; some name the woman who played her part in film, Elizabeth Taylor, as the most pulchritudinous woman ever to roam the earth.

Beauty is, of course, in the eye of the beholder and there are far too many examples of pulchritudinous women to list. And yes, the word is generally reserved for female beauty ~ but it can also apply to the physical loveliness of grand landscapes, majestic mountains, breathtaking sunrises, sunsets, and perhaps a simple, elegant rose.  …Ah, sweet pulchritude.


– ♥ –

#84: Pomegranate


Move over, blueberries; the mighty pomegranate has one-upped you in the Superfruit category. Not your everyday apples and bananas, superfruits are more exotic varieties with higher than average levels of antioxidants and nutrition, and the crimson seed packs nestled inside a pomegranate’s tough skin are the latest pièce de résistance in the fruit world for both taste and nourishing goodness.

Which reminds me, I need to make some pomegranate muffins. Mmmm.


– ♥ –

#85: Perception


It is not what we see, but how we view it. Not what we hear, but how we listen. Not what we sing, but how we feel it. Life is all about our perception ~ how we perceive, intuit or understand any given circumstance or subject matter. It can make the difference between a good day and a bad one, harmony or confusion, truth or uncertainty, agreement or misjudgment. If something doesn’t feel quite right, it’s a good idea to step back and check our point of view, and then decide if rose-colored glasses might serve us better on or off.


– ♥ –

#86: Ponder


I ponder the stars, that I may feel part of this grand universe. I ponder the sea to soften my nerves. I ponder a tulip, to feel amazed at God’s artistry. I gaze into a fire and ponder the depths of my soul.

Sometimes I get answers. Sometimes not. But the pondering in and of itself is satisfying. Short or long, it takes one’s mind on a vacation from ordinary things, from problems that need solutions. Like meditation, a good ponder can leave you feeling inspired, energized and fresh.

Let your mind wander in wonder now and then. Ponder that.



(until next time, you can see the ongoing Plethora of P’s here)

Outrageous Happiness #15: Just Because

January 19, 2015 § 1 Comment


Sweeten up! Nothing elevates your day like doing a kindness for someone else. It just feels good to let that person go in front of you at the grocery checkout. It just feels good to pay the toll for the car behind you. It plain and simply feels good to open doors, hold an umbrella, bake a cake, put a surprise gift on someone’s door, tell someone how much they mean to you, tell someone they look nice, they did a great job, they matter.

Doesn’t have to a Big Deal. Doesn’t have to drain your bank account. Doesn’t have to take much time. A little generosity of the heart is sometimes all it takes. (If you can do more, bless you!)  Just be kind. Do a kindness. Unexpected. No hidden agendas. Not for gain. Not for praise. Not for anything but kindness itself. Because “just because” is a terrific two-way happiness breeder.



How’s your Outrageous Happiness going?


A Plethora of P’s / #73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79 & 80

January 6, 2015 § 3 Comments

proactively punctuating life with the plausible, powerful possibilities of positive thought presented through a plethora of “P’s”.

Well. It has come to my attention that my Plethora of P’s collection has been taking much too long to finalize. This may mean nothing to you, but I’m a “finisher”, and if something’s dragging out too long, it makes me anxious to clear the decks for all the other stuff calling my name. (see previous post…) So, I decided to rev up my speed to the finish line goal of 100 Positive P’s. In that spirit, I give you not one, but eight P’s this time. (You’ll also see that I had a bit of a cute jag; I suppose to counteract my philosophical bent.) :) In any event, hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them. Here we go:

– ♥ –

#73: Pliablesaxton.P_pliable

Flexibility is important. Not only important to be limber in our joints and muscles, but agile of mind. To this end, I see being pliable as the ability to bend and stretch, where and as needed, while remaining firm in our physical, emotional, and moral core. (If you’re at all like Gumby, your pliable-ness may even involve a perpetual smile; however, this is not a requirement, especially when performing certain yoga poses or mental calisthenics.)

– ♥ –

#74: PrizedP_prized

To be prized is to be cherished. We all have treasures we value above all else; friendships, families, partners, or things as simple yet somehow soul-satisfying as Aunt Elorena’s scalloped potato recipe or Mom’s hot fudge or a favorite soft, warm blanket. Maybe we prize an ability, or a trait in ourselves; maybe a dream. We hold these people, things or feelings up to a better light, place them on a nearer, dearer shelf, and we honor them by recognizing how they bolster and brighten our world.

– ♥ –

#75: Periwinkle


Just the sound feels good ~ the way the word periwinkle rolls off your tongue hints of cheerfulness and magic, of imminent delight. It sounds of hope, like an expectant jingling of chimes on a sweet summer wind or the smell of a homemade pie in the oven, or roses or mint or morning light on a fresh snow.

But it brings more than a sensory smile. According to folklore, periwinkle (the flower) represents the beginning of friendship. It can also symbolize compassion, and charms and gifts from the heart. Medicinally, it’s said to help memory and ease the aging process, and has also been known to control swings in blood sugar. It’s a potent little gem that’s usually taken in the form of tea. Of course you can simply enjoy its presence in the garden ~ or just the way the sound rolls off your tongue.

– ♥ –

#76: Popcorn

It’s fun, it’s yummy, and goes oh so well with movie watching. But did you know that it’s also good for the digestive system, lowering cholesterol, and regulating blood sugar? And it serves as a strong anti-oxidant and helps with anti-aging! Pass the bowl, please!

– ♥ –

#77: PineappleP_pineappleWhoever invented the pineapple was really taking liberties with the idea of visual beauty. Looking like a giant pine cone (thus the name), they’re oddly shaped, prickly, difficult, and nothing short of interesting. I like them because they evoke thoughts of “tropical”, conjuring up visions of palm trees, white sand and crystal blue waters. A blend of sweet and tart, I think they taste better in their natural environment, too.

Pineapples ~ like most plants ~ hold a myriad of nutritional benefits within their crusty, bark-like shells. They’re also used in fabric, wallpaper and furniture making! And of course, we know that centuries of tradition has made it so nothing says “welcome and warm hospitality” quite like the sturdy pineapple.

– ♥ –

#78: PluviophileP_pluviophile

Pluviophile (n): a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days.

Love is good. Joy and peace of mind are good. Let it rain. As Langston Hughes wrote: “Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.”

– ♥ –

#79: PoseidonP_poseidon

Poseidon holds dominion over all water. Also known as King Neptune, God of the Sea, Shaker of Earth, Tamer of Horses, Son of Kronos and Rhea, Brother of Zeus and Hades, Ancient Greek Olympian … he’s had quite the colorful life. Though quarrelsome and armed with a mighty trident, he is powerfully dignified in bearing. He also happened to create the first horse (no small feat), and he protects all creatures under the sea, which seems good reason enough to have earned the respect of sailors the world over.

– ♥ –

#80: Phi

saxton.P_phiPhi ~ which uses the symbol Φ ~ represents the “golden ratio” of  \tfrac{1 + \sqrt{5}}{2} \approx1.618033988749894848204586834… and is often associated with geometry, art, and architecture. In the natural world, the spiral of a nautilus shell is one of the most typical expressions of the golden ration, and one where its suggested beauty becomes apparent. (It has something to do with ratios and proportions, and is well explained ~ much better than I can ~ in books and websites on the topic. Here’s a site I liked, with some pretty good history.)

Phi is also is the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet, which is quite less mathematical and therefore something I can more easily understand, but the two cannot be separated, as the golden ratio takes its name from the letter.


(until next time, you can see the ongoing Plethora of P’s here)

Thought Collisions

January 3, 2015 § 1 Comment


Maybe it’s the barometric pressure? The way it can bring out aches and pains; for example, how, according to my chiropractor, a change in barometric pressure often makes the place hurt where I fractured my spine a year ago? Does this also potentially cause our thoughts to collide, bringing them all out at once so create frustration? I’m looking for a scientific answer here, and not being all that scientific, this is the best I can do.

So, it’s a snowy, gray, January day. I decide to join the masses for a grocery run, in case the snow amounts to anything must-stay-in-worthy. While my daughter unloads groceries, I bring the firewood in. Then laundry. While I’m there, in the laundry room, the place that also serves as office supply room as well as a catch-all for stuff-that-might-be-useful-some day (am I turning into my father?), which also desperately needs to be purged (so I can put other things in there) but is mostly out of sight and out of mind and when it comes to mind (the purging process) it’s overwhelming to think about (who has time?) so has remained largely un-purged since rearranging my studio a year and a half ago after The Flood happened, and anyway, (breathe) I see it and think, heck, just get rid of some boxes. That’s not such a big deal. Just do it. Now. Then I think, but of course! ~ just do a little bit each day, rather than feeling like you have to do the whole thing at once. (I knew that). So I pile up the boxes, empty boxes that I-thought-would-be-useful, and take them to the dump. Before I do that, I mention to my daughter how some of them are very nice boxes, in case she wants them…. this way I wouldn’t feel guilty about being wasteful. But alas, she says she’s pretty good on her box needs, and to the dump I go. On the way back, a car in front of me does a crazy-eight on a straight road. “Slow down” comes to mind. I check my speed, and despite traveling at a snail’s pace, make a wide and slippery slide around a corner heading home. Then, I remember I forgot to get milk. Shoot. So I carry on, crawling to a stop sign, and turn another corner with no trouble. Get the milk, get home. And somewhere in the midst of all this, my mind starts filling up with all the projects I want to do; things I’ve started and not finished but want to finish, or haven’t started but really want to, and they all circle round and round my head, vying for attention. “Me first!” “No, me! I should have been done ages ago, but you keep getting new ideas and I’m left undone.” “You should focus on me, over here, because I’m the one you want most”. (Mostly books and paintings, by the way; all the pieces that typically scream at me when I’m otherwise detained on things like, say, keeping a roof overhead.) And on and on… a creative traffic jam ensues. Inspiration overload. And also somewhere in the midst of all this muse-like bantering, I briefly wonder where my patrons are, so I can get to this stuff in earnest without so much energy needed for the mundane. However, realizing this is a fruitless thought at the moment, I allow the banter to continue, which it does annoyingly well.

Einstein was right. I don’t know what we’d do without the concept of time, because whether it’s real or not, it gives us a chance for a little order in what could otherwise be all out chaos.

And I still don’t know which muse will win out today, but maybe it’ll sort itself out when the barometric pressure switches again. Stay tuned. :)


Outrageous Happiness #14: Declare it

January 1, 2015 § Leave a comment

It’s a new day. Heck, it’s a brand new year. And I challenge you. I challenge you for the next 5 days to declare each day a good day. First thing upon waking, place the thought before you: “Today’s a good day.” (…“by golly” is optional) No ifs ands or buts, just “this is a good day”. Conviction helps, but even if you’re not feeling it, just say it like you might actually mean it. This is your job for the next 5 mornings. That’s it. Pretty simple.

If you want to be a little more outrageous and bold, you can add a few bonus plusses. This takes a little more practice, but it also reaps more rewards.

It’s a good day. It’s a great day! This is one of the best days of my life. The sun is up. Even if I can’t see the sun, I know it’s there, and that’s kinda cool, knowing that that big ball of fire warms our planet every day. And that the moon lights the night and makes waves in the great oceans, and that grass grows every spring, and birds sing and fly. Birds fly over rainbows, did you know? Rainbows are great, aren’t they? Just think of all the beautiful things in this world. Colors and sounds and textures. Art and music and dance. Mountains and trees, lakes and rivers and little trickling streams, all teaming with life! And I’m part of all that. This day, today, I’m part of all that is good. The sky, the earth, the heavens and all its stars, and all the kind and loving souls that share this time and space. There are smart people, helpful people, sincere and positive people all around. I’m smart, helpful, sincere and positive, too ~ and this is a good day! Today, I’m seeing all that is good. I’m attracting all that is good. I am part of all that is good. Angels watch over me and guide my way. Today is a good day.

But if that’s over the top for you, just do the simple version. See how it affects your day. See how it affects your week. See how it changes your attitude. We are what we think. Attitude really does matter.

We may not have control of events and circumstances, but we do have a say in how and what we choose to think. Thoughts are powerful. Consciously or unconsciously, thoughts precede our words and our actions. They define our reality. And over time, they become habitual, for better or worse. The good news is, they’re not fixed ~ we can change out thought patterns, and change the day. And the next, and the next.

Who’s up for the challenge? Ready, set …….. go. Just do it! Declare it so.


How’s your Outrageous Happiness going?


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