Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Christmas to All!

To celebrate Christmas Eve, I thought I would share an excerpt of poetry from a song by Henry Tudor (Henry VIII), King of England (1491–1547).

A Picture from My Favorite Holly Tree

Green Groweth the Holly

Green groweth the holly,
So doth the ivy.
Though winter blasts blow never so high,
Green groweth the holly.

As the holly groweth green
And never changeth hue,
So I am, ever hath been,
Unto my lady true.

Green groweth the holly,
So doth the ivy.
Though winter blasts blow never so high,
Green groweth the holly.

Gonzo would like to wish everyone a very happy holiday – although at the moment, visions of kitty treats are dancing in his head. :) So I'll say it for him:

The Sweet Wee Cat

Happy Christmas, Everyone!
And Best Wishes for a Wonderful
New Year from PrettyGonzo!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fantastic Features on PrettyGonzo - And More!

In the past year, I have felt honored by the generous support of several highly talented ArtFire artisans who have either featured my shop in their blogs or included my handmade jewelry in their blog articles. I'm planning a special holiday gift guide that includes the outstanding work of these artisans, but here I would like to share easy links to their fun and informative articles. Such sharing is way overdue, and I hope you will check them out!

Feature by Shadow Dog Designs
Featuring PrettyGonzo
 These articles focus on my ArtFire shop, the impetus behind its genesis, and the sweet wee cat that inspired its name and design. The features have given me a great deal of courage as a first-time seller and creator of handmade jewelry, and my gratitude for that is immense. Please take a look! I've also included links to the shops of these wonderful artisans—simply click on their names. Hope you enjoy!

From Shadow Dog Designs: An article
published HERE at Handmade News

From Entwined Vines: To read an interview
with PrettyGonzo, just CLICK

From Zoomgraphik: From her artisan
of the week series, found HERE

Including PrettyGonzo
These offerings include jewelry from my shop. All of them are highly interesting, with topics that range from Czech glass to faux pearls to what colors communicate and so much more. It's amazing what you can learn from such wonderful articles. Please click the titles to check them out!

By Shadow Dog Designs:
Christmas Gift Ideas from the JCUiN! at Handmade News or here at Shadow Dog's ArtFire blog
Eclectica: Jewelry from the JCUiN at Handmade News or here at the artisan's ArtFire blog
The Many Faces of Czech Glass! at Handmade News or here at ArtFire

Bead Spotlight: Faux Pearls at Sage's Inspirational Beading blog
Bead Spotlight: Bicones at Inspirational Beading

By Epicetera:
Glass Beads and Baubles: Techniques Used to Make Them at Epicetera's ArtFire blog
Precious Pearls: How They Are Formed, Colors, and Shapes at her ArtFire blog

By Strega Jewellry:
Colors Talk Part 2 at Strega's Wordpress blog
We Got the Funk at her blog

By PersonalOasis:
This artisan included me in two ArtFire blog posts: Clasp Types and Overview of Earrings Findings. These posts are now unavailable, as she has a new blog: PersonalOasis - Jewelry

By Shanghai Tai:
Jasper in All of Your Favorite Fall Colors at Shanghai's blog on Blogger

By Kindred Images:
A Few Finds and a Few Collections at the artisan's Blogger blog. Kindred Images now has her own website, so that is where her name-link leads!

My major thanks to all these artisans! 

Please don't forget to check out their talented work! And this holiday season, please consider the wonders of handmade when shopping for gifts - these are items in which the creative spirit has been invested as well as a great deal of heart. The personal touch of artisan creations is something special, and the gift of handmade is the perfect solution to that search for something outside "the big box."

Happy holiday shopping and, as always, best wishes from Gonzo and me!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Poetry for Your Reading Pleasure: The Owl and the Pussy-Cat

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat — by Edward Lear

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat:
They took some honey, and plenty of money
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
    You are
    You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!"

Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl,
How charmingly sweet you sing!
Oh! let us be married; too long we have tarried,
But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the bong-tree grows;
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood,
With a ring at the end of his nose,
    His nose,
    His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will."
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
    The moon,
    The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Illustration by Edward Lear
Today Edward Lear (1812-1888) is probably best remembered for his nonsensical poetry and prose, but he was well known in his day as a serious artist and illustrator. Supposedly he even gave Queen Victoria drawing lessons. He helped to popularize the limerick and was never above coining a phrase or inventing words (such as runcible) when the ones available to him simply would not do. The Owl and the Pussy-Cat is one of his most beloved poems. Igor Stravinsky (famous for his composition The Rite of Spring) set the poem to music in the 1960s, and it has been the basis of various songs and books, including The Quite Remarkable Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat by Eric Idle of Monty Python fame. Lear himself was an admirer of the poetry of Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Sweet Wee Cat

Anyone who shares life with a feline type knows, there's not a creature on earth more adept at getting cosy than a cat. "The Gonze" has special spots for getting especially comfortable, and he loves this spot on the parlor couch—and the very soft sheet I folded up and put on the couch just for him. :)

Best Wishes and Happy Autumn from PrettyGonzo!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

From the Photo Album: Flight 93 Memorial, 2008

Like so many people, I feel a special sense of gratitude toward those passengers and crew on United Flight 93 who somehow mustered the clarity and courage to rally against their attackers on 9/11. Theirs was a defiance both outrageous and admirable, and their leap past shock and denial to a point of unification, strategy, and action was nothing short of astonishing.

High Cross with Various Offerings
These were ordinary people suddenly caught in a horribly extraordinary event; yet, despite their fear, they refused by vote to go down without a fight. In asserting the tiny measure of freedom left to them and enlarging upon it, they not only defended freedom on a larger scale but affirmed life to the hilt.

I'm usually quite cynical when it comes to "heroes," but not in this case. I deeply honor the memory of these people, their courage, and their strength of will and spirit. Long may they roll as vital to this nation's history, respected not only by today's generations but by those to come.

Today the Flight 93 National Memorial is well underway, with Phase 1 of its construction completed. In June of 2008, when I visited the site, the facilities were temporary and much simpler. Nonetheless, I have rarely been so moved by a place.

The Temporary Memorial in June, 2008
It was deeply thought-provoking in many ways, from the sight of a distant American flag marking the crash area to tidy rows of little wooden angels that commemorated the passengers and crew. The photographs I've included here were taken that day, and I share them with the hope that anyone who has not yet visited this important memorial will put it on their list of essential travel destinations. It is definitely on my list of places to revisit in the future.

A Panoramic View Including Sitting Area & Memorial Fence

A Local Volunteer Provides Information on Flight 93 & the Site

Some of the Angels Commemorating the Passengers & Crew - Very Moving

Memorial Fence with Offerings Left by Visitors

St. Frances & Rosaries
Flags with the Cross & Field Beyond

"Teach Peace" - Digital Composition with Cross Base & Offerings

I hope these images from the photo album leave you with a sincere prayer for peace in the world and for all of those people whose lives were tragically lost on 9/11. 

Very best wishes from PrettyGonzo

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Poetry for Your Reading Pleasure: Pangur Ban

Pangur Ban - Translation attributed to Robin Flowers
I and Pangur Ban, my cat,
'Tis a like task we are at;
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.
Better far than praise of men
'Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill will;
He, too, plies his simple skill.
'Tis a merry thing to see
At our task how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.
Oftentimes a mouse will stray
Into the hero Pangur's way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.
'Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
'Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.
When a mouse darts from its den.
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!
So in peace our tasks we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine, and he has his.
Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night,
Turning Darkness into light.

This ninth-century poem was written in the Reichenau Primer (aka St. Paul Irish Codex) by an Irish monk who was probably practicing his copyist skills. The monk would have been far from his native soil, most likely in a monastery on Lake Constance, and whether he was the original author is unknown. Other content in his "notebook" includes inscriptions pertaining to typical scholarly topics in the Dark Ages, such as metaphysics and logic, with an astrological table among them. The manuscript is now in the monastery of Saint Paul in Unterdrauberg, Austria.

Page of the Primer with Pangur Ban penned in, lower left
Pangur means "fuller," which was a method for treating wool, and ban means "white." If you think about these meanings, you might agree that Pangur Ban could have been another way of calling a cat Fluffy. :)

The poem came to light in the early 20th century and has since been translated from Old Irish and interpreted by a great many poets, including W.H. Auden and Frank O'Connor. Robin Flowers, whose translation I shared, chose a rhyming format that I find a lot of fun. For a great blog entry on tracking down information on the Pangur Ban manuscript, see this article by SuburbanBanshee on wordpress.

I hope you've enjoyed this lovely poem that, although written so long ago, has a special resonance for anyone who owns a cat or who loves poetry - or both!

Best wishes from PrettyGonzo! 

Friday, July 15, 2011

In Praise of Cats

By associating with the cat, one only risks becoming 
richer. — Colette

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Sweet Wee Cat Is Back!

Gonzo loves the verdant world of summertime! I certainly do envy his ability to find secret comfy hiding places in the greenery of a little urban backyard. :)

Very best wishes ... and Happy Summer ... from PrettyGonzo!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Greetings Once Again!

Because of the health crisis experienced by my loved one last December and all that it has entailed, I've found it impossible to tend to my blog. It's been a long, rocky road for him, and there's a lot more ahead. However, I'm hoping to pick up the pieces of my blog bit by bit whenever I can. And I've managed to keep up my ArtFire shop, which, after the needs of my loved one, is a priority for me. 

My sweet cat, Gonzo, has been a little shining light in the murk and difficulties of the past five months, always ready to remind me that, despite all, life can still hold some kitty treats, a petting, and a little toy mousie to proudly cart around. He has kept my spirits from plunging with his simple affirmations of life and purring assertion that a loving touch can mean all and everything.

Animals were never expelled from Paradise, Milan Kundera writes in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and maybe that's why our pets can so ground us in a storm, and why we love them so. What we give to them is the best of us in a fallen world, and what they give to us in return is a glimpse of rightness and bliss and, in tough times, the courage to hope.

This is a photograph of Gonzo that I took on a cold, snowy night last winter.

It's not the best picture, but I love it because he has such a simple imploring look. Outside, conditions may be freezing and the wet white stuff may be piling up with utter abandon; but what matters is inside—a treat, a little love, and some warmth.

We feed our pets and try to keep them healthy and safe; in return, they bless us with happiness and strength, even in the worst times. Lucky humans, we certainly are ... despite all. :)

Very best wishes from PrettyGonzo!