Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodbye, 2014! You've been wonderful!

I've never been one to wax poetic about the year gone by, but seeing other bloggers posting their 'best of 2014' has gotten me to reminiscing.  And when I think of those special moments of this past year, it's easy to boil them down into just three categories:

 Friends (old and new) and family
The magnificent world that is our home, and the creatures that inhabit it 
Artsy experiences and adventures

So, in that order, here we go!  
Back in 2013, in celebration of our milestone birthdays, I spent an fun extended weekend with my college roommate/best friend, Nancy.  This past year, in 2014, I had the rare opportunity to spend time with my two childhood best friends - the girl with whom I share my earliest memories (Annie, in the first photo below), and the girl with whom shared the angst of high school (Ingrid, second photo).  All three of these women live at great distances from me, in Nancy in Seattle, Annie in England, and Ingrid in Tennessee, and I have seen them very, very rarely over the years.  The amazing thing with all three friendships is the ability to simply pick up where we left off, with the years and spaces between meaning nothing.  These friendships are comfortable and I treasure them all. 
 For the fun of comparison, below are pics of me with Annie first (I'm on the right, in the plaid coat), and with Ingrid next (I'm in the center, and Ingrid is second to the right), in 'vintage' photos.
But this year, there were new friends as well.  My trip to San Diego for the NAEA convention was an opportunity to meet people I previously only knew through cyberspace.  But somehow, I also feel like I've known them forever!  Below, on hat night, you will see Pinterest goddess Donna on the left, and fellow blogger Rina on the right.  (And of course it's me in the middle. Duh.)  A word about Rina - what person, in their right mind, offers someone they've never met a place to stay in their home?  Someone terrific, that's who!  Thank you Rina!  And this year, Rina and I will be sharing a room at NOLA. 
 But wait, that's not all!! I also met these art blogging superstars pictured below.  How wonderful to finally meet them for realzies!!  (But how come these women are all like a foot taller than me?  Sheesh...)  Anyhow, in the pic on the leftbelow, that's me and Artful Artsy Amy (I would call her Amazing Amy, but if you've read or seen Gone Girl you know that's probably not a moniker she particularly wants.)  And on the right, it's me with Deepspace Sparkle superstar Patty, who gave me the original motivation and inspiration to start this little blog.  Thank you, Patty! 
 And in the photo below, I'm in the company of two more celebrities!!!!  In the middle, of course, is the fabulous Cassie Stephens dressed as a Campbell soup can, and on the right, its none other than School Arts editor Nancy Walkup!  How lucky am I? 
I met many others in San Diego, too many to name here - so if I've left you out this time, I apologize.  I value every single friendship. 
  And along with friends, there's also (how can I forget?) family.  After arriving in San Diego for the NAEA convention, I had a wacky opportunity to meet up with my son and his girlfriend who were on the road vacationing.  That's us in the pic above.  He lives 4 hours away from me, in Boston, but I traveled across the country and got to spend time with him!  Crazy, huh?
 Above, my crazy family on Thanksgiving, and below, me and my son with our silly sand sculpture on the beach in Maine.  Which brings me to category 2 of this blog post, my year with the natural world.  I am always totally refreshed after some time at the ocean. 
 But without a doubt, this year, the most memorable 'natural world' events for me had to do with wildlife.  When I spotted this guy below, while kayaking early in the summer, I was SO excited.  So glad I always have my camera in the kayak!
And a bit later in the summer, I got to see him again!
 And then, of course, there was the Butterfly Conservatory last March, at the Museum of Natural History in NYC.  The butterflies evidently loved my hair, because they rode around on me while I was there!  What a fun experience!
 But wildlife sightings can also be heart-wrenching, as in the case of this magnificent loon, with fishing line caught in his neck and mouth.  I spotted and kayaked with him several times over the space of a few days, and never saw him again, though others on the lake thought maybe they had.  Loon rehab experts came to the lake twice in hopes of capturing him, but they were unable to locate him.  I remain hopeful that somehow he was able to survive successfully.
 And I also got to see great blue herons on several occasions!  One even scared me half to death by flying right over me in my kayak!
How lucky am I to live in a part of the world that has not only such beautiful wildlife, but also such a magnificent change of seasons?  It makes me truly appreciate the majesty of our planet. 
It's been an artsy year for me, too.  I'm an avid amateur nature photographer, which you know if you read this blog regularly.  But I've done other artsy things this year.  I've gotten to teach workshops at a regional conference in August, and at my state conference in November.  Its such a great experience, and I'm looking forward to teaching a workshop at the national convention for the first time ever this spring!  
 And I've gotten to work with my small but goofy after-school classes with my business DragonWing Arts.  
 Late last winter, I also got to work with a sweet bunch of kids at the Temple Religious School, creating this mural in their hallway (this is also where I teach my DragonWing Arts classes).  For those of you who don't know, the word 'shalom' means hello, goodbye, and also (most importantly) peace.  The top pic shows the word shalom written in Hebrew.
 And I got a little artistic dying my hair this spectacular shade of blue. I was very disappointed that it lasted about a week. 
 And I had some creative fun making this tunic.  The quotes on it are cut from T-shirts, ironed on with WunderUnder, and then sewed.  You may have seen me wearing it in San Diego, or at my state conference in Albany.  It's really comfy, but it is hard to find appropriate occasions to wear it.
Another artsy highlight of my year was my travel experience with Crizmac for the 'Folk Art Extravaganza' in Santa Fe.  I've wanted to do this for years and was not disappointed.  If any of you are looking for an exciting artsy travel experience, where you will also earn professional development credit, I strongly recommend looking into the Crizmac 'Journeys of Art and Soul'.  They have a couple of really awesome trips scheduled.  I wish I could go on them all! 
 The Folk Art Market was simply crazy, busy, crowded, and fabulous.  I would love to return.
 And my fellow tour group participants were fabulous.  
What could be better than a bunch of enthusiastic art educators ?
 As part of the professional development there, under the tutelage of tour leaders Nancy Walkup and Stevie Mack, I made this hand-stitched quilt square.
 This year, I've also taken some classes just 1/2 hour from home at the uniquely wonderful Adirondack Folk School.  
There, I've learned to make hollow form jewelry with precious metal clay,
  I've made a purse out of a gourd,
 And woven a rug from socks. 
 On my own, I've made jewelry from Scrabble tiles, participated in Cassie's crazy ideas such as Artsy Book Club and the apron sew-along, and worked on various other personal artsy endeavors. 
 I'm not sure all of what 2015 has in store.  I know there will be a visit to NYC and the Matisse cutouts at MoMA, and my first ever trip to New Orleans for the NAEA convention.  There will be nature, and family, and friends, and art, and certainly, there will still be this little old blog, started way back in May of 2010.  It has had more than a million views in these almost-five years, and I am very thankful that you, my readers, keep coming back!
Have a Happy New Year everyone! 


  1. What an amazing year, Phyll! I love your photos and they almost make me miss the East Coast. Also love the folk art pictures. Something I would love to do. Great rehash!
    Have a great year!

    1. Ha! I notice you said *almost*! Right now, it is rather grey, and bitter cold, so California sounds pretty nice.

      As for the Folk Art Market, I have just SO many photos; it's such a colorful event. If I lived nearby, I'd want to go every year! But it is VERY crowded, so you have to be prepared for that!

  2. What a fab year! So glad you did this, I enjoyed looking back on your 2014 :)

  3. Always inspiring Phyl! Thanks for sharing some beautiful highlights of your year!

  4. Lovely to look back and reminisce before tackling the new year!!

  5. What a great year in review Phyl! I love the way you arranged the pictures to show the passage of time with friends and seasons. Making a purse out of a gourd!!! That must've been so difficult.

    Happy 2015

    -Your Friend

  6. A pretty awesome year for a pretty awesome friend! See ya in a couple of months in NOLA :)

    1. Yes! Super-excited! Next year, you will be in the photos with me and Cassie, and Donna, and Rina and all!