Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Is there room for art?

My blogging has been pretty sporadic. I can't promise that 2014 is going to be any different. Writing about life is now a luxury, as is making art. I know this comes with the territory of being a mother and a student. My neck aches from holding the baby, who chose today to throw a temper tantrum that couldn't be pacified by a walk in the park. I think he is having another one of his growth spurts or teething/toothing. So he's napping right now, and I've quasi-cleaned the house (dishes are done) and I've got the shopping done, and I've got three weeks of break from school. So here I am doing me time that is, more than the basic me time of exercise/meditation/yoga. Woohoo!

The other day, I managed to get into a community winter art show at one of my favorite art spaces in downtown Durham. This is the only showing I have this year. In fact, this is one of the few pieces that I was able to finish before the baby was born. So if you look at the brush strokes of this piece, you'll see that it is crude. I was 40 lbs heavier and huffing and puffing as I was was balancing on chairs in order to finish this piece called "In the Valley of the gods"(sometime last January, I shared the story via facebook/blog.) And I got into a discussion with my partner over why I'm making this difficult, herculean effort in order to show this piece. He said something about this being about my ego. And I'm thinking to myself, ego? What ego? It's a fact that Nobody cares about art of the little, not famous, artist. Making art has cost me $, along w/ tears and sweat, for one random like, and often dismissal by too many people, for this to be about ego. And here I am w/ a screaming baby and I'm still working on my ego??

So, I replied, nursing school is about serving others, doing fundraiser for typhoon victims is for others, playing music is for the enjoyment of others, when do I get to do something that is purely for me?-- This is it. This is for me. This is my art. This is an expression of me beyond the duties and demands of everyday life.

"And isn't that the root of every despicable action? Not selfishness, but precisely the absence of a self." Howard Roark from The Fountainhead

Monday, August 19, 2013

Creating a Comfy Cottage --(one room at a time)

So a couple of blogs back, I mentioned that the saws and drills were buzzing around me. My father has a cottage which he has had Duff build last year. It's not completely finished and haphazardly furnished when I began living here after my return from Georgetown, SC to finish a nursing program at UNC-CH.

One of my goals while living here in the next two years, is to make it cute, and comfy from inside to outside--garden/landscape included--my way of thanking my folks for being supportive of us while I'm in school. The creative spirit in me is not going to sleep. Though I have to say that my creativity is constrained by academia (limited time) and student budget.

So we're going to do this, one room at a time.

Starting with the bathroom. I'm attaching a photo of the bathroom, most of the items are finds, repurposed, etc.

I have to say, Duff has some kind of radar for finding useful items.

1.The circular shower. This shower was returned in the box by someone else at Lowes Hardware store. The box is all torn up and so it's resold at considerably reduced in price. :)

2. The matching circular towel shelf--from the Habitat store. It's $40, but the manager, who was holding our son Noah at time of purchased, informed us that everything was half off. Then at the register, he asked while winking, $10 is half of $40, right? We said, Yes :)

3. The handtowel holder is another score from the Habitat store. I think I paid $1.00 for it.

4. The medicine cabinet was purchased by my dad for $30 from someone else who was upgrading their house.

5. The wall colors, which caused a heated discussion between us is a mis-tint from Lowes for $5. I painted the wall and wanted to do an accent wall. This painting process occurred during night time. I saw this blue and it reminded me of us living by the Malibu ocean. So I wanted to paint one wall this refreshing color. The other color--white, is an antique white, and I wanted to do a wash. Duff wanted me to mix the two to create a new and original color and paint the bathroom walls just one color. (By the way, that's what I consider my expertise--color creation or coming up with just that right tint.) But well, perhaps, it was the time constraint getting to me. But I didn't want to mix the two, so we ended up doing an accent wall instead and Duff painted over my beautiful antique wash with that plain antique white color.

When we woke up the next day, I didn't like the mistinted Malibu ocean color in the daylight. Lesson learned, don't choose your colors at night! But aaaahhhh! We'll have to redo that another day, because we are now slowly working on Noah's sunroom/playroom! Photos to come soon....

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Lets talk about Nutrition!

This past summer I took a nutrition class and I learned some things about myself. I've got an attitude problem.

I almost made a C on this class, because I became careless with a project thinking that I know it all. But the thing is, there's sooooo much to learn! I'm just like typical Joe Bloe in that I really don't want to think about what I'm eating. Eating is so personal, private--someone telling me what to eat is like being a little kid again with mom telling me to finish the food I put on my plate. It's annoying. I'm a grown up. I mean, food is one of the basic pleasures in life and to think about it seems counterintuitive to pleasure. "I am not overweight, so I figured I eat well. I don't drink a lot of sodas or sweet desserts. My eating habit is fine," at least that's my self talk.

There's a website I recommend where you can record your eating habits. Choosemyplate.gov The site has a lot of good information on food intake and what your body needs. But I'm not going to tell you you should do this or that too. I just want to put that information out there just in case you're tempted to do a food diary.

Ok, so first thought that popped in my head is: every single person knows their own need. Why would I look at a label that tells me what I need based on an average 2000 kcal diet. Who is this average? I am a fairly intuitive person, I trust my intuition, I'm not some average. So what I learned regarding this attitude is that,our minds like habits. Looking at my grocery list, I can say that there is a general pattern to what I purchase. They're practically the same things everyweek/month. Most people have this general pattern that makes making purchases easy. Once we are locked in a pattern/habit, we generally lose some of that intuition--the body saying give me healthy carbs can be misunderstood into give me more sugar. SEE !!!

Something else I learned--we can tell ourselves we are eating healthy but closer examination shows otherwise! For example, being Asian, I'm a rice girl. I found this picture online and this is how I view myself regarding rice. I've been telling myself for a long time--I'm a rice eater....
until I did the food diary project. I was actually not eating enough rice! My diary showed corn, potatoes, bread as my carbohydrate main sources, not rice. Also, the nutrition journals talk about switching from white rice to brown rice. They recommend the switch to brown rice based on these things called fiber. Also switch from white bread to whole wheat. Do I really have to have 20g of fiber everyday? Who is telling me this? The government.

Geese louise! The government. I'm a political scientist by education--but generally, I'm one of those quasi hippies who as a whole mistrusts the government. Why is the government telling me I should eat 20 g of fiber? When did the government start caring? Here's something else to consider--the government has been adding things to our food--like why is flouride on our water, or why are flours enriched and why is Vitamin D added to milk by the milk manufacturers, or why is Iodine in our salt? This is kind of scary, right? Well, I did a bit of research and it looks like the efforts of some determined physicians led to the addition of these nutrients to our diet. It's not really the government, per se. Also the American Heart Association also says the same thing about fiber. (Btw, I like them. They seem trustworthy with that cute little logo of heart on cereal boxes).

Just as a side note about the government-- I think it is to the government's best interest to get Americans to be healthy. Why? Healthcare cost, especially with the new Obamacare..... But I maintain my skepticism.

Aside from the hassle of paying attention to what I eat, I have to learn the science behind them. Like eating more avocados (technically, that's easy, because I like avocados). Avocados are said to lower blood cholesterol because it has this thing called HDL that takes the fat away from cells into the liver where they can be destroyed.

Funny.... I wrote on my food diary that I'll eat more fat because I'm eating way below my 20g that's recommended by these nutritionists whom I have never met! The key is eat 20 g "OR LESS" of fat. (Anyway, my nutrition teacher allowed me to re-write my food diary, earning me an A for that project.)

But these is the general attitude and approach that I had towards food. *Mild hostility* because I'm not fat. Can you imagine the kind of feelings/unspoken thoughts people go through when someone tells them what to eat because they're fat? Or maybe some of these people are not thinking, just eating.

I encourage anyone who's reading my blogs to pay attention to what you eat, because it's so easy to alter your thoughts based on consistent intake of some chemical whether it vitamins, drug, etc.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Optimistic Juice...

So one of the things you do when you go back to school is sacrifice comfort. I wish I could write these blog when everything is picture perfect. But life isn't always that way. So I think a little honest picture of where I'm at may be in order.

I'm living with my son Noah, in a cottage which my father built for family guests last year. The cottage is one bedroom, with a kitchen and bathroom. On the side is a little family garden, where I planted heirloom tomatoes when I got back from South Carolina this past summer and started school. And ripe tomatoes are coming in, coupled with the fresh sweet grapes, and cucumber. **See, just when I am close to running out of optimistic juice to write about, then it keeps pouring. I can't stop being optimistic and finding something to be grateful for to write about, where the other part of me see only the mess of moving and re-starting.**

So, I made the decision to move from Georgetown, South Carolina after the Krazy Fish craziness. I talked to some close friends about this, but haven't completely analyzed my feelings in order to express my thoughts. All I can say is that southern crazy is crazy, and crazy is as crazy does and Kenneth Carl Terry is crazy. I saw this disaster coming a year ago and I tried to warn Duff about it, but oh well. I'm not happy about the negative publicity and Duff being associated with it. To be fair, Duff has done moves to disassociate himself from it. But as they say, "tongues would wag". Do they stop wagging?

The friend that I talked to in New York do not understand the scenario, because New York craziness is different from small town drama. So perhaps, that's part of the reason why I'm struggling to write about it because how do I bridge the gap of cultural/social disparity? It's difficult to describe social constructs that everyone "understands".

Anyway, I moved back to North Carolina to start school and all these moves happened in a space of one week!! So we sacrificed some comfort in order to live close to my folks. They are so helpful when I have last minute assignments to do.

I'm in my 3 week summer vacation, and at this time Duff is building an extra room in the cottage so that my son Noah can have a little room to call his own. Everything is in disarray and the saw is buzzing away in the background. And I hope the little room is finished before school restarts.

For now, I'll munch away at ripened grapes that we somehow managed to rescue from the theivin' squirrels.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Taking the time

In the previous blog, I wrote in passing something about time, not having enough time. My schedule these days is jammed pack full of assignments for class and carving out time to study. One of the things I've learned these couple of months is the importance of taking the time to care for oneself. In nursing school, the textbooks talk often about burnout which is manifested when a caretaker/nurse stops caring and just goes through the motions of caring, kinda like a robot. One of the biggest contributors to burnout is not taking the time to care for oneself. As a new mother and student, I found a few weeks ago that I was burning out. I hadn't taken the time to exercise or do yoga as regularly as before. I was experiencing tension in my neck and some headaches. I was continually in a rush and didn't feel like I have any time. With a baby, I also felt emotionally overwhelmed--feeling guilt that perhaps I'm not spending as much time with my baby even though I'm there in the room with him, studying, when I'm not in class. So this week is the last week of summer classes, and finals are next week. Last week, I went for a run, took a zumba class, went for a walk, and a few days ago I did yoga, the next day went for a mile run. I've been feeling the release of tension in my shoulders. The energy resurge is almost immediate. It's not like I gained more hours in the day. I still have 24 hours in a day, I still have more homework and studying than ever. However, I feel like I gained clarity--that makes a difference in studying. I feel more confident about my decisions because I have clarity. My days are planned and when I'm with my son he knows I'm there for him. I'm consciously stuffing the guilt in the trash. There is no room for guilt, because guilt simply drags down our time together. Planning a trip or activity in the day, that breaks up the monotony of playtime/crawling practice/feeding for him. Also, I'm now okay with being apart for him during study time. There's no point in him watching me study. :) And really, he's happier not to watch me study. Anyway, there's my two cents. Take the time to exercise and stuff the guilt.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

How nursing school is going....

As I mentioned a few blogs back, I am now in nursing school. Western medicine is an art that is mechanical in precision. I've learned so much about the body and the exquisite details of hormones, the flora in a microscopic world, to the sodium-potassium pumps, the bodies' warriors that can attack invaders and also eat itself. I'm enthralled by the fine, delicate balance that keeps our lives in homeostasis. I've heard first hand accounts of people's experiences in the hospital and I'm deeply moved by the effect science and medicine has on our lives. I'm learning about some of the reasons behind diseases, the different types of test to diagnose problems, and the treatments that could potentially cause a different type of imbalance that can lead to further illness if a treatment is not administered correctly. Our body is an amazing machine. I want to pause and just ponder on that for a while...because.... I'm in utter awe. Yet the microscopic level is affected by what goes on in the macro-world. If I pause, I miss out on time to study, time to be with my baby, time to exercise and keep up with my physical fitness, time to do and make art, time to organize. But like Socrates, I believe that a life unexamined is a life not worth living. So what am I examining? Nursing school? I'm in awe of science. How am I feeling? Still grateful that UNC-CH re-opened its doors to me.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial's Day Weekend Finds

This weekend of Memorial Day was quite a whirlwind of study, travel, fun, and treasure hunting.

I always love to search for things that can be re-used. It's such a score finding things that I think brings beauty to my life and the lives of people around me.

We were able to stop at a church yard sale where they were selling grab bags for $7. I was able to score some nice brand shoes and summer sandals (all of which didn't fit me). And you may wonder why I bought them. But I'll get to that.

On the road down the cabin, we stopped by to get some fruits, where we met some Vets. I had an opportunity to thank them, donate to the fund and I got a little plastic rose for the gesture. (Can't forget the Vets this weekend!!!!)

So we headed down to the cabin, where my son Noah had a wonderful time playing on a inflatable "pool" on the deck that his daddy built. He was sooo happy to spend time with daddy and his aunts and mawmaw.

At the cabin, I was happy to give the shoes away. The shoes and sandals were put to use immediately. It's sooo enjoyable to be able to give, to get out of the box of thinking only for oneself. I received some nice presents too.

On our trip back, we passed by an estate sale, on a historic Corinthian house in Carthage, NC. We swung around like vultures (At least, I felt like one). I walked through someone's home and the first thing I encountered was a grand piano. I felt an immediate kinship to the lady who passed away. I looked through the music books, the collection of books, decorations, remnants of a beautiful life. We picked up a nice set of antique, red furniture, silver tea set, and these lovely wall hangings.

I always examine paintings or pieces of art that are being sold at flea markets/yard sales/estate sales. These pieces are expressions of someone's sense of beauty, someone's inner world at some point in time. I like to imagine the lady who passed away drew these pieces because it was in her room, properly framed. But who knows?

Hope you had a nice weekend too! Tell me about your finds :)

xo, Jem

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mantra and Mandala

Movement from one place to another can be physically exhausting and emotionally challenging especially after childbirth. It is difficult for two people to come to terms with a new phase in life, without examining the activities that is/was fulfilling, when beginning to raise a healthy child. NUTS AND BOLTS: But geese louise being a good momma while trying to maintain what you once were is next to impossible! For the past several months, I've dealt with being uprooted while remaining nurturing to myself and to my baby. Nurturing to myself has always meant creative expression via art or writing. But I've found that I didn't have time. The baby was a bit colicky and I had minimal help. Emotionally, I was going through post-partum depression, mourning the life I've left behind while trying to deal with the physical havoc of pregnancy. Anger colored my depression. Exercise was healthy but still unfulfilling. Then I began to meditate and sporadically practice yoga. Finally, I created a mandala. While painting this object, I began by not knowing my focus. It took several weeks to simply set up the brushes and prime the wood, and designing the pattern, because every few minutes I would have to run back to the next room to see why my baby was crying or complaining. Eventually, I got to a point in the process where I could do what I was doing next to him, so he could see my colors. Seeing me paint slowly calmed him down. There was an acute moment of peace and serenity when I realized my mandala's focus was on "health and wellness and happiness" and what this means to others around me. My god but that was a magical moment! There was a lot of chaos and insane amount of upheaval for people that kept me frozen in that particular space. What tied me to unhappiness literally unraveled. And my efforts for health and wellness blossomed in a matter of one day!! I was accepted to one of the best nursing programs in the country in what seems to me as a miracle. I'm now studying in the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Nursing. My new space of "health, wellness and happiness". I am a firm believer that even if you don't know your intention, creating a mandala can help you gain clarity and can harness spiritual forces. As part of the act of spiritually releasing a mandala, I'm giving this piece away. (unfinished on this photo)



Thursday, May 2, 2013


During the Bank Bailout of 2008, everyone were friends, holding hands singing kumbaya, when they believed that the economy was going to crash. Everyone was afraid. What jobs are we going to have? Where are we going to go? What are we going to do? The bluecollared and white collared workers were united in fear. Without jobs, who was going to pay for the Armani suits, and the Italian shoes? Who's gonna go out for drinks and tip the waitstaff? In the middle of this confusion, an unknown bartender artist continues to paint on. And in an effort to commemorate the newfound friendships, she paints a series portraits for the wealthy bankers and CEOs of a local bar. One of the bankers, O’Sully, who got laid off kept telling the bartender his woes. Then the bartender artist also got laid off. They kept in touch, everyone had to keep in touch. Everyone were friends. The artist, no longer a bartender, lost her home. Jobless, she is sheltered by her friends. She gathers up her resources and hosts an art opening, an intimate gathering of friends. She also invites O’Sully even though she knew the guy couldn’t buy anything. During the first day of the opening, O’Sully came by and admired the paintings. He kept saying, if only he had a job he would purchase one of the paintings, which he thinks looks like him. During the second day of the opening, an obsessed x of the artist came by to take a look at the paintings. He still harbored some anger over the manner in which they broke up. It hurt his pride that he was a top exec who got dumped by a little nobody. A few paintings sold, but not enough to get the artist out of living off of her friends’ couches. So she concocted a plan that would help everyone win. It was brilliant. She forwards O’Sully’s resume to her X. Lo and behold her X had a “job” lined up for O’Sully. X’s company interviews O’Sully. There were 9 sets of interviews. Each interview was more difficult than the last. O’Sully was even placed in hot tortured chamber where he was forced to solve a puzzle while being stared at by all the people who worked for the company. After the final torture, and any more torture would be a bit too bizarre after that, he had his secretary call O’Sully. The boss is gone this week but he will call you next week. And next week would come up and same story. O’Sully was desperate and kept bugging the artist. The artist felt responsible for the torture O’Sully was going through. This same torture went on for four months. Every few weeks O’Sully would practically beg the artist for her help in getting the job. Feeling responsible for the torture O’Sully was going through, She goes to the bar and talks to her old banker/exec friends to get some advice. They asked questions like how much would she get if she helps O’Sully get a job? She said, O’Sully will buy a painting. How much is the painting? $700. They laughed. That’s the cheapest placement fee in they’ve ever heard of. In the corporate world, getting a job has a normal finder’s fee of up to 20% of the year’s salary! It’s a common practice. Your friend O’Sully is f*cking you over, and X knows that. Make a deal with O’Sully and get a fee on top of purchasing the painting. Then get in touch with X. EVERYONE WINS! BANK BAILOUT! So she calls up O’Sully who promises to pay up a fee and purchase the painting. Then she calls up her X who says, Come and see me. So she came to see him. Two weeks later, O’Sully gets a job. Things didn’t work out between X and the artist. He was X because of the same reason why he was X to begin with. O’Sully never pays up. He’s a typical Wallstreet cat. No contract signed? Not a real deal. A friend? What friend? Everyone Wins??! Sorry. X couldn’t care less. Doubly F*cked. So a year later, O’Sully is buying Armani suits, and Italian suits again. The artist is still sleeping in the couch of friends, still jobless. NO BAILOUT FOR THE LITTLE GUY The artist tried to donate the painting to the cancer society. Even the cancer society didn’t want the painting. Too much baggage they said. Wall street people are cancerous. The painting was later burnt at an Occupy Wall St movement

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Post Pregnancy: A Journey Back to My Pants

Getting over the excess weight gain from pregnancy is easy for some people and for others not quite so. But here’s my little two cents and hope it helps some people. Ok, so you just gave birth to your little bundle of joy and the last thing on your mind is that extra package left around your waistline. I was there. But my little bubble of ignoring that weight gain burst when my mom brought me a girdle. Apparently, she thought I was just too fat. And I couldn’t blame her. I gained half of my original weight. I was 150 lbs when I gave birth and I originally weighed in at 100. My baby weighed 6 lbs. So literally I had 40 lbs to lose. I’m still not all there. I still have a few loose ends to tuck in, but I’m happy to say, I fit again in my pre-pregnancy pants—the pants that I couldn’t even stick my leg in at the beginning of my journey back to pre-pregnancy form. So here’s the nitty gritty of my journey.

STEP 1: First thing first—BREASTFEED!! This is one of the best ways to lose weight and the healthiest way to feed your baby!

STEP 2: Since your breast feeding, make sure that milk is packed full of nutrients—lots of fruits, vegetables, protein from fish, whole grains, and juice that lists a gazillion of vitamin contents. Hey, if you have a juicer, juice it! Eat these type of healthy food as much as you want and if you desire to have a slice of pie after eating a good healthy meal—go for it. You deserve it. I certainly eat a slice of pie daily.

STEP 3: Take it slowly. Do not start exercising until your doctor tells you it’s ok. Have your doctor check your abdominals to see if any muscle separation occurred—which did for me. That meant no sit ups, but this is great because I hate sit ups anyway. So to start with, take a leisurely walk daily using your stroller. You have to get some fresh air, and your baby needs to get used to the idea of spending time outdoors. I have a mastiff, so the dog needed to go to potty. At first, I would take the swaddled baby and just stand in the yard. Eventually, I asked someone to walk the dog with me while my baby was in a stroller—to get the dog used to walking with a stroller. Everything is a learning or re-learning step by step process. We eventually learned to walk together. By the time the doctor gave me an ok for exercise, I was already comfortable with a quarter mile walk. With the ok, I slowly built the distance of the walk, then the speed of the walk, until you can call it a quasi-run (the dog loves to stop to sniff other dogs peepee). Now, my baby cannot stand it if we walk slowly. He wants us to run and would cry if we stand around too long. Every now and then, I would leave the dog and baby to mom or partner so I can go for a full and fast run. I LOVE to clear out my lungs.

STEP 4: I did some stretches. A couple of yoga moves that I love is a simple baby pose, literally, you crawl up on your belly and relax the way babies do on their bellies. At first, even that move hurt! Aside from the daily walk/run, every other day we do gentle random yoga poses. This feels good and gives me more energy to move. Since I’ve been doing these gentle stretches, I’ve had more energy to wake up to feed the baby nightly. I’m a big fan of multitasking. So each morning, when the baby is waking up or calming down after eating, I do a baby pose beside him in bed.

STEP 5: A friend of mine, who also lost her post-pregnancy belly recommended that I put myself in a crawling position and with a back perfectly straight, suck the belly in as far as I could. When I put my baby in a firm cushion for tummy time, I do this exercise. So when he build his muscles for crawling, he is watching me on all fours. He’s exercising when I’m exercising.

STEP 6: My dancer friend, Laura recommended that I lie on my back & raise my legs to the ceiling. Slowly/ carefully lower legs inhale & simultaneously try to hollow the stomach muscles so they feel glued/pressed to the floor. Only go far enough w/o engaging the lower back-legs no lower than 45 degrees. Exhale while carefully bringing the legs back to the ceiling. Do a set of 8 & continue or start there. I would do this exercise with my baby beside me happily kicking his legs as well. We are a team.

STEP 7: I also on every occasion (breast feeding, standing, sitting), I keep my spine straight and keep a good posture. There’s an exercise that I like called abdominal lifts. The lift is accomplished by exhaling ALL air from the lungs and attempting to lift the abdomen inward and upward and holding whaterver lift was executed for a few moments. Even as I’m writing this, I’m paying attention to my posture and doing abdominal lifts.

Anyway, I was back to pre-pregnancy pants after a month of doing these steps. My favorite aspect to this whole thing is the ability to move without pain AGAIN. You often don’t realize how much toll the weight exerted on every muscle of the body during pregnancy. I suggest you get yourself to feeling good again, as soon as possible, so you can meet the challenges of raising your child. Again, I still have a few places to tuck in, but I’m not worried. Continuing to breast feed, having a daily walk/run routine with the dog, daily exercise routine with the baby, yoga/stretches when my body stiffens up, and conscientious effort to “tuck it in” and keep my spine straight, is all I’m going to do for now because I’m starting to miss my jiggle. ☺

xo, Jem

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Brief Tour of Georgetown, SC

A new phase in life brought me Georgetown, South Carolina as my new hometown. We arrived here by a 27 ft sailboat on the summer of 2012 to start a restaurant. And this past January, as soon as our baby was born, I officially moved to be with my hubby and we made it home. Some of my friends and family members thought that since we were gifted a beautiful 40 ft wooden sailboat a few days before our baby Noah was born that we moved to Georgetown to live in a boat. But no, we are currently not living on a boat. However, having a boat has granted us access to the water neighborhood of Georgetown. So for my friends and readers, who like me attempts to explore their neighborhood thoroughly, I'll give a short tour of the geographic location, the historic district, and the water neighborhood of Georgetown, SC. The Georgetown waters is unique because the Great Pee Dee, Waccamaw, Sampit, Black River all merges into Winyah Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. It's the blackest water I've ever seen due to the tanic acid from the hundreds of beautiful, Live Oak Trees in the area. Since the water is both fresh and salt water, it's the site of good fishing and wildlife. We've seen sharks, dolphins and yes, alligators in those water. In fact, there are signs on the harbor that warns tourists against feeding alligators and other wildlife. Georgetown is the third oldest city in SC. Though the city of Georgetown is small, the Harbor of Georgetown is welcoming to boaters because you can dock your boat on the city dock and immediately walk on the boardwalk where bands are jamming in restaurants, and good fare is found. There are several restaurants to choose from, within walking distance from each other. This historic neighborhood has several attractions--the Strand Theater, Historic Houses, Rice Museum, Maritime Museum--and they're all within walking distance of each other. Also, the town boasts of (though they should not) an ugly steel mill and paper mill-- one of the few surviving steel and paper industries in the US. But the mills in Georgetown are forgiveable due to the annual Georgetown wooden boat show. This past couple of weeks we rowed down the river with our baby and explored the water neighborhood. Away from the harbor, is Goat Island, a little abandoned island in the middle of the river. If you go just a little further down the river, you'll see a stack of shrimp boats. On any given day, you can purchase the freshest shrimp and catch of the day from the Independent Seafood Market. Moving along, you'll see a fish boat dock. This is owned by Captain Ron who provides towing for broken down boats. The fish boat dock also attracts salty sailors and shady characters. If you are looking for Pirate of the Carribean characters, there's no need to go to the Caribbean or Hollywood. The real deal is here. Sailors known around town for their colorful personalities abound here, sailors such as Dammit Man, who is called that because of his amazing repertoire of cuss words. There's Mad Dog, who is said to be a no-good-drunken-has-been on land but can fix just about anything on the water. Then, there's Buster, who speeds around town on his sweet machine--a broken, coughing moped. These guys have moored their boats permanently in the waters of Georgetown. Buster's three ragtag boats, which we fondly call "the flotilla", is tied to each other and quite noticeable in the waters. They stand out particularly because Buster's boat almost sank and stays afloat with the help of his other boats. We offered to help out Buster, but he flatout refused. You see, Maritime Law gives those who help a sinking ship, Law of Salvage. Similar to the spoil of war, the Law of Salvage, gives the salvor the spoils of the sinking boat for risking his property and life. Those are just a few of the permanent year round Georgetown boaters. There are hundreds of weekend boaters, summer boaters, transient boaters, recreational boaters who enjoy these waters. So hope my short geographic, historic, and water neighborhood tour of Georgetown inspires you to visit. Bring your boat out if you have one. If you want to see these characters and all of these sites but dont have a boat-- visit Georgetown by car and take the Capt Rod's Harbor Tours, a day cruiser that will also take you to see Shell Island, the lighthouse, and river plantations. xo, Jem

Friday, January 11, 2013

New Painting: Council of the gods

Here's the newest painting for the nursery.
The animal gods gathered in a tent in a long lost forgotten valley. The special meeting was called upon to commemorate the godhood of the dog. All the god animals from all corners of the earth sojourned far and wide to be there. The Egyptian's Cat was first to arrive at the tent. The Cat waited for days for the others to arrive. The Parrot from South America, soon made his appearance and squawked human stories that entertained the cat. Then the Grecian Satyr, representing the Hellenic kingdom, arrived and promptly played a haunting tune from his harp to apologize for his tardiness. The Parrot and the Grecian Satyr performed a melodic duet for a period of time. The Dragon from China soon followed and blew amazing feats of fire performance. The Elephant headed Ganesh from India grandoisely marched into the tent carrying the golden spinning ball that represented the earth. These animal gods waited for the grand entrance of the dog. But the dog took his time, perhaps distracted by chase along the way. At first, the animal gods discussed amongst themselves the possibility of confering godhood to the dog somewhere in North America. But soon they ran out of dog things to talk about. And the Satyr played on...the dragon blew fires until he was exhausted, the parrot squawked until his voice was hoarse, and the Elephant headed Ganesh tired of spinning the golden ball. Still, there was no sign of the dog. It took an eternity for the dog to arrive. When the dog finally came, he took his seat promptly, without apology. Then he shamelessly began to lick his balls and genitals. Ganesh the Elephant, ignored the indecent act by virtue of the fact that it was the dog's day of godhood. So he cleared his throat, and began the formal rite of ceremony, re-spun the golden ball. The other animal deities followed his lead. But lavished by the centuries of honor the people of Egypt conferred upon her Feline form, the cat, stately and utterly irritated by the dogs late arrival, couldn't contain herself. She interrupted the ceremony to rebuke the dog for his lack of manners, his late arrival, and pointedly poked fun at the dog for licking his balls. Utterly humiliated and embarassed, the dog growled a curse at the cat, saying: I will chase you unto the ends of the earth, I will eat your kittens, and even your feces, I will consume. And once those words were uttered, in the presence of all the other animal gods, the dog lost his chance to be a god. Then the cat began running, out of fear which made her lose her stateliness and godly powers. Human worship of the cats in Egypt began to diminish. Today cats and the dogs are not considered gods anywhere.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Art Clock

So here's another art clock created by Jennifer Bergin, my longtime friend in NC. She's super creative and we are happy to team up together.
This clock also goes with the story for Breathe Underwater. Have I shared that already? If not, here's a link to the album. The story still needs to be colored in, so we turned it into a calendar, to see if any of you creative minds out there are interested in coloring it in. Coloring process is so much fun and everyone has a different way of using color/patterns to convey beauty. We thought it would be cool if other people colored it in. Anyway, back to the clock. Jennifer uses cedar or oak to create her pieces and usually plays off of the woodgrain patterns. I think this clock is beautiful. If you're interested in purchasing, visit our ETSY site

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Looking back and ....waiting....

I love the preparations for the arrival of our newest family member--physical, emotional, spiritual aspects. I want to share just a little about the physical preparation.

Each woman is different from another. I heard so many advice on should eat this, should eat that. All my preparations in no way makes me a pregnancy expert. But here's a couple of stuff I did.

I took many classes on parenting psychology, Developmental Psychology, birthing and breastfeeding classes in the local community center and community college. I even took a class on Infant and Adult CPR and became certified. I researched everything from herbs, to birth procedures, and have read/scanned many books about raising a baby.

Here's a photo of a couple of books that I read.

The most important focus during the pregnancy is good health. My pregnancy has been very healthy and the other day my doctor congratulated me at reaching the waiting point. I am less than 20 days away from my expected date! I've had no morning sickness. I have no gestational diabetes (despite the copious amount of chocolate consumed), my iron level fluctuates, but mostly has been normal, my skin feels delicious, my fingers tingles and this past week, my legs finally swell up on occasion. I started out in the best physical and cardiovascular shape of my life. And have gained a whopping 50 lbs (which is half of my original body weight). This has been the most challenging aspect of the pregnancy, carrying around half of my original body weight. It was very painful at times but a little yoga and two visits to the physical therapist (who basically gave me prenatal yoga poses) helped. I was a pescatarian prior to my pregnancy and I immediately ate meat (yuck) as soon as I was pregnant, but I believe I needed more protein. My rule of thumb is, drink lots of juice, milk and greens/fruits with every meal. My vitamin intake varies according to how I feel.

Bananas are very useful in muscle cramps!!! and overripe bananas are great in banana breads. (That's empty bottles of Welches sparkling grape juice, non-alcoholic, from ringing in the New Year's Toast)

The space preparation for the baby is more complicated since we are preparing in several directions, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. Yep, this can be stressful, but I'm certain everything will fall into place as needed. But for now only the North Carolina space is fully prepared.

The baby's crib was repainted, and now ready! I love looking at this photo, it makes waiting so precious.

I cleaned, organized, re-organized every crook and corner. Darkened curtains with pretty children motif sewed into the fabric is still on my to do list, and finishing up this mural is as well. I placed the mural on the wall at the foot of the baby's crib so the baby has a colorful piece to look at, especially painted by his mommy.

I have to be careful with the oil paint mediums as some of them are toxic (so now painting without a thinner, just plain oil paint).

I'm taking at least a 20 minute walk each day wrapped up in thick jacket, comfortable shoes, and *ahh!!!* absolutely no make up the entire pregnancy. I'm usually accompanied by these pack of dogs. (That's my mom on the left. She's an RN so I'm happy to be around her during my pregnancy)

Since I can't walk the dogs with a leash anymore, I walk very early in the morning to avoid the neighbors. Today, one neighbor who is a dog lover, walked up to me and gave me some roots of Calla Lillies (my favorite flower). I wrapped them in newspaper, and I can't wait to plant them in the spring.

I have read goodnight books and played music to the baby and I think Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star is the baby's favorite piece. It is a common misconception that Mozart wrote Twinkle Twinkle at the age of four/five. This is the age he was when the original French folk song was written under the name of "Ah ! vous dirai-je, Maman", in 1761. However, Mozart's series of variations on this melody is very pretty.

Let me know if you want a piano note copy of my baby's favorite piece.

Finally, as I am waiting, I'm trying to remain as healthy as possible so I can breath properly during the delivery. So many people are sick!! This is the best remedy for a cold, pregnant or not. Ginger smashed, some lemons, some oranges, and honey boiled in a pot. It's a lovely aromatic tea that I'm drinking as I'm writing this blog.