Greetings on this winter solstice:) Wishing you much candlelight, mulled wine, hot chocolate and hibernation.
I’ve finished teaching my first semester of geology at Moravian College, a new job for me at age 46. It turns out I love teaching, which is a pleasant surprise:)
November marked the end of my work with Lehigh Gap Nature Center where I’ve been leading a native plant project for the last five years. I’m pleased to say that the book I wrote as part of the project has been surprisingly popular among people interested in native plants. This is in no small part due to the fantastic illustrations by Tom Maxfield and the graphic design by his wife, Keri. Beginning with a single Facebook post, the book (which has a digital version) reached more than 17,000 people and was shared more than 700 times all over the United States.
Now, if only my creative writing could get so much attention!
A couple weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to see the poet laureate, Tracy Smith, speak at Warren County Community College. She read from her memoir, Ordinary Light, as well as from her poetry. The grace and humor of her words left me feeling bigger inside, broadened by her spirit. Read more about her here.
I’ve given up saying when I might be finished with my second novel. But I can say it’s getting better. Insightful critique from other writer friends has been invaluable. It’s impossible to write a book alone and I’m fortunate to be part of a community of writers who help each other.
The Baum Art School in Allentown, PA recently featured the work of Jane Conneen, an artist from Bath, PA, who’s known for her botanical drawings and miniature hand-colored etchings. Some of her work is no bigger than a postage stamp. This is one of her larger works:
Fields and wildflowers served as a basis for many of her paintings. At the age of 76, she decided to go back to school to learn bookbinding and created more than thirty specialty miniature books late in her life:)
As someone also inspired by the botanical, here’s my recent paintings of witch hazel :
In winter there’s more time for hanging out with family and friends. Time for thinking about life in deeper ways. And time for more cheese. Here’s my son in his new Christmas light-up sweater:)
‘This too shall pass.’ Good moments and bad are temporary constructs. Autumn reminds me more than any season of the promise of change.
In late August, over one weekend, I was hired to teach a geology class at Moravian College. I signed my contract on the following Monday and held class an hour later. I haven’t taught geology since I was a grad student some twenty+ years ago and even though I’ve worked in the field and have practical experience, the decision to teach was not a comfortable one. I work as hard as I can to prepare for lecture each day, literally just a chapter ahead of my students. I’m a planner who likes to be prepared weeks in advance. This time I don’t get that option and so I must adjust and do what I can. It’s good for me — this forced change from how I prefer things. I’ve taken a leap of faith and found that I like teaching. I’ve also fallen in love with geology again. My students often stay after class to ask questions and talk more. I think that’s a good sign.
My new job is keeping me busier than ever, but I find time to work on my second novel from 5:00-7:00AM every morning because that feeds my soul in essential ways l’d be foolish to neglect.
Speaking of novels, my talented friend, Jenn Rossmann, has her first novel, The Place You’re Supposed to Laugh, coming out on November 14. I had the pleasure of reading a couple early drafts of this extraordinary book about a family and neighborhood in Silicon Valley just after the Dotcom bubble burst, when everyone must try to figure out what will come next. At the center of the book is Chad, a 14-year-old black adoptee; Chad’s got to navigate a year of personal “disruption” while his white parents and their neighbors are reeling and anxious.
Jenn is a fiction writer and an engineer. Her short stories have garnered multiple Pushcart nominations. Check out her website here, and for those in the Lehigh Valley, she’ll be reading at the Easton Barnes & Noble on Sunday Nov. 18 at 3 pm. If you love words, don’t miss it.
On a recent trip to the Whitney Museum in NYC, I saw work by Mary Corse. She uses light as a subject for her art.
Her works look deceptively simple. Yet they are transformed by walking past them since she uses materials that respond to subtle changes in light. Walking from one end of a canvas to another, one thing becomes another, as though Mary Corse intended all along to stop you so you can reconsider assumptions. Her exhibit at the Whitney Museum, A Survey of Light, is on display until November 25.
Wishing you a lovely season of shifting light.
Until next time,