Category Archives: Hobbies

Monica Devine: Be Dare and Bare

The Mosaic

In our backyard shop/artroom, I am working on a mosaic for our Copper River cabin; a stylized salmon spawning scene that is played out year after year when the reds run aplenty, and we are blessed with the bounty of the catch.  A few more months of cutting, shaping and molding until the piece is complete & ready for installation.
Because so many ideas and projects get backed up in my shop, I feel compelled to assign a completion date so I can move on to the next piece.  What I’ve discovered lately is the fun of working on multiple projects at once; if the creative juices begin to lag on one, I can crossover onto another for a while and go back and forth between painting and cutting glass.

I listen to music often, noting lines from favorite tunes and writing them on the walls (no worries; the walls are unfinished and meant to be scribbled on) as I’m dancing about from light table to glass grinder to work bench.

So I had the idea of extracting lines from some of my favorite songs, and doing a sketch or painting or collage to match the mood and content.
One day I was viewing art in a local gift shop when I saw my idea being played out…well, almost.  The artist rendered lines from various songs in a cornucopia of fonts, each one attractive and unique.  Fonts have their own reach and beauty ( and designers from all over the world are happy to share their creations with crafters and artists.  It’s captivating how a font in and of itself can carry so much emotional weight.
Back to my idea of taking a song line and crafting a piece of art.  Spontaneity is key…listen, feel…turn up the volume, listen some more and then paint, draw, collage.

The Bittersweet









“The bittersweet between my teeth, trying to find the in-between…” is from the song, Young Blood by The Naked and Famous.  I am indebted to my adult children for continually keeping me in step with their generation of music.  I absolutely love these guys.  Ah, youth.

Angry Eyes













“What a shot you could be if you could shoot at me with those angry eyes…” from the song Angry Eyes by Loggins and Messina.  An oldie’s favorite.  Grrr.

















“And it’s good and it’s true, let it wash over you…” from the song, River’s Edge by Great Lake Swimmers.  Their music is down-to-earth and ethereal at the same time.

Across the Universe












“Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup…” from the song, Across the Universe sung by Fiona Apple.  I admit, I like Fiona’s version better than Lennon’s (blasphemy!)…it’s mellow and hauntingly dreamy.

Live vibrantly, not perfectly.  Dare to bare it, as Jan Phillips says.  Her inspirational words of wisdom never fail to provide guidance:
“We are healed by creation and the creation of others. We are healed when we transform the events of our lives into other shapes that can be of use – into stories and poems, music and films.”

David DiSalvo offers a more straight forward thought on the human heart’s longing to create:
“Anyone who says, I don’t have a creative bone in my body, is seriously underestimating their skeleton.  More to the point, they are drastically undervaluing their brain.  Creativity is an integral part of being human, and to deny its expression is like denying the expression of other crucial human elements that we intuitively realize we’d be miserable without.”

Or, on a lighter note, consider Albert Einstein:
“Creativity is simply intelligence having fun.”

And there is always more room for fun in this world.

Monica Devine

What keeps me afloat:

Exploring art, playing music, living in the mountains, wandering (following the trail ahead), wondering (looking up at the stars)…and writing it all down to share here, with you. I write poetry, children’s books, fiction, memoir, and non-fiction. We are so much more than muscle and bone…we are made of our stories.

I consistently wander off the beaten path, and go nowhere without my camera.
© All rights retained by this author/artist.

The Recovery Quilt

Minda Brown Jaramillo

My sister, Minda, is the Manager of Women and Families Services at Recovery Resources a nonprofit community-based healthcare organization in Cleveland that helps people triumph over mental illness, alcoholism, drug and other addictions. When she told me about the quilt project she was working on with women in recovery, I wanted to know all about it.   Here she is sharing that experience with us.   – Annice 

“Quilts are rituals of life.  Along with shelter, the quilt safeguards the human body during its greatest vulnerability, sleep.  Learning to make quilts indicated, at the same time, that a girl was ready to join the company of women.  The quilt symbolized practicality and survival, an acquired knowledge of recycling and reuse.  Quilts relate human experience bursting with ideas, dreams, knowledge, courage and ingenuity.”   William Arnett and Paul Arnett

“ Mama made a lot of quilts for keeping us children warm.  I remember sleeping under one of them every night.  Cold nights, maybe a bunch. Made them things out of coverall pants or anything she could find.   After clothes couldn’t be fixed no more-skirts, dresses-it all end up a quilt.”   Pearlie Pettway, Quiltmaker, Gees Bend Alabama.

The inspiration for Recovery Resources’ quilt making began with thoughts of a project for our women in recovery to work on together.  The project would create an environment where our women could get together and form an attachment in a way they may not have experienced before.  In talking with a group of my women friends, the idea of making a quilt was revealed.  One of the women, Sherri Katz, volunteered to facilitate the project. Having a degree in Fiber Arts, she was the perfect person for the project.  We first introduced the women to the idea of quilt making by showing them the award-winning documentary, The Quilts of Gees Bend .


Gees Bend, Alabama, is a small peninsula that was home to the Pettway Plantation.  The quilt makers are all descended from generations of slaves who worked that plantation; they were so embedded in the community they created for themselves that they remained there after the Civil War, the Great Depression, and throughout the Civil Rights movement.  The community was declared one of the poorest places in the United States, and the descendants still remain there.  These women struggled to subsist on what they could produce for themselves and their families.  They raised a number of children, farmed on leased land, lived in log homes without water and electricity, and held their families together through prayer and a profound sense of community and love.

The method for quilt making is a long and arduous one.

Recovery Quilt

The Recovery Quilt is primarily composed of re-purposed fabric and denim combining collage, appliqué, embroidery and fabric pens.  Some women worked diligently and assisted others in completing their quilt squares, while others worked more haphazardly, wanting to finish the task quickly without taking the time to think creatively.  Some women did not complete their quilt squares at all.

Common characteristics of addiction are that it robs one of the desire to complete goals, creates an inability to concentrate on the task at hand, and steals one’s self esteem.  Addiction creates an emotional challenge that many are not prepared for.  Many of the women were fearful to start something they would not be able to be successful in completing.  For some, this was true.  For most, it created an opportunity to work on a project in a supportive, nurturing environment that fostered creativity, encouraged camaraderie, and challenged their thinking about who they are and what their recovery means to them, their families, and their community.

Women over 50: Painting on Glass is Fun!


Being a woman over 50, it’s so nice to have the ability to feel like I am 5 years old just by painting.  I’ve always loved this inner child of mine; it is fresh, full of joy, and feels the closest to what I consider “the real me”.  So I felt lucky when my friend Annice told me she wanted to make her Holiday gifts this year, and wouldn’t it be a great idea to paint on glass bottles over at my house?  Yes!


It turns out that you are either someone who jumps into anything creative, or you are not.  Funny enough, the judgemental chatter of the mind of each is the same.  Annice is so full of life that I was surprised when she said she couldn’t paint.  Impossible!  Me on the other hand, I just love the process, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a masterpiece or not.  How wonderful it was to see Annice go beyond her mind’s judgments and create some pretty cool designs.  We listened to some good music, enjoyed yummy snacks, drank schnapps, and laughed a lot!  Time stopped for us that Sunday afternoon and it felt rejuvenating.  I hope you make the time for your inner child on a regular basis – it’s fun!

One of my favorite artist’s is Georgia O’Keefe, and this is one of my favorite quotes from her:

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”
Georgia O’Keeffe


Time Really Does Go Faster As We Age

Diane Puckett

Time really does go faster as we age. It has been a year since we moved to the mountains of Western North Carolina, but it seems like we just got here. The year has been quite a whirlwind of change.

Full Moon in DC

The biggest change – leaving the Washington, DC area, a place I had lived over half a century, (did I really say that?).  It’s my entire life. Though we had planned to move to Asheville for years, it was still a big deal, and happened far more quickly than anticipated. With a beautiful full moon and all the planets apparently in alignment, our house sold in two days.

Thus began the whirlwind. Three full moons later, we would move to the mountains, and there was much to do.

There were many people to say goodbye to, knowing I would never see most of them again. I closed the psychotherapy practice I had worked years to establish, bidding farewell to clients and colleagues. The local pottery studio, my hangout of kindred spirits was toughest to leave. Well, other than my sister, but that’s too tender to write about now.

We headed South on a cold December day, cars crammed full of stuff and our two beagles along for the ride. Not long after we arrived, a snowstorm followed, leaving us with no electricity and lots of tree damage. It was a tough winter, especially since we knew almost no one. Our holidays were non-existent, as we were busy moving.  The day I found myself strolling through Walmart for entertainment, I knew something had to change. Facebook provides an illusion of a social life, but it’s not reality. The North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement at UNCA was my lifeline during that long winter, feeding my brain and giving me a connection with other people.


Molly Beagle, my best bud for thirteen years, slowly wound down and passed on to the Rainbow Bridge. Our last day together was a sacred time – we cuddled up, and I talked to her about the good times we shared together.  At the end, I sang the Golden Girls theme song to her. I’m grateful Molly had some time here in our beautiful new place. We buried her next to my studio where she will have her own garden of the flowers she loved.

Diane's studio

Living here feels like I’ve finally come home. I love the spirit of this place, the creativity, the energy.  It’s been a year now, and I feel like I’m finding my niche. I’ve made good friends and know many of our neighbors.  I have an almost-finished pottery studio, a dream-come-true.

I’ve given in to my craving for a hammered dulcimer and have begun music lessons again after a 45-year hiatus. Maybe this time around I’ll practice.

Most of all, I love the magnificent mountains. I cannot even think of adequate words to describe them. May I never take them for granted or stop seeing them.

Women over 50: The Easy Fall Garden!


I didn’t think I could fit in any fall planting this year in my garden.  I went back and forth quite a bit in my head until a couple of weeks ago, there was a moment out of time where I found myself cleaning up a few beds and amending the soil with some composted manure without much effort. 

Sadhvi's October White Zinnia
Sadhvi's Favorite Salads for Fall

Often, I will make a big thing out of something that really does not take much time…it just has to BE the right time, the right moment!  I watered the beds well, and waited a few days until I sprinkled a mixture of leftover lettuce seed packets over them.  I did want some collards and didn’t have any seed, so I bought a 6 pack of starts for $2.39, planted them, and well, that was easy!   

"Firecracker vine"
There is Swiss chard from the spring that is still going strong too, which is why I always will have that wonderful vegetable in my garden.  So after a few weeks of doing nothing, there is so much salad that I am glad that I didn’t listen to my mind because I hate store bought lettuce; it’s expensive and it’s not fresh.  Just in case you  have the weather for fall planting where you live, you might want to plant something that you like to eat, because it is so worth it with little actual effort!
Sadhvi's Fall Garden 2
Sadhvi's Pink Zinnia in October