Sunday, June 09, 2019


What do you include as gifts in your life?  I have many!

  • My children;
  • My sister;
  • My friends;
  • My quiet, pretty rural hamlet;
  • My cozy little house;
  • My memories of special people, special times;
  • My present-day internet connections;
  • My stashes...and TIME in which to use them...

I've been thinking about gifts this past week as I've been making a couple to take to family and friends on my up-coming visit to Montreal et environs.  I am so blessed at this stage in my life to have full use of my hands, and the ability to make art!  

In my last post I gave you a peek at a small piece I was making for one of my cousins.  Yesterday I picked it up from the framer's...

Glenelm, QC  (c) 2019
6" W x 6" L
Hand-dyed poly-cotton and silk, commercial cotton;
fused applique, machine quilting, thread painting

I also managed to get off my duff and finish the "twin" -- matted, this time.  Said cousin and her parents will have to discuss which version they want!  😉

Glenelm, QC (c) 2019
7" W x 5" L, matted to 10" x 8"

They're wrapped and ready to pack, along with this throw I knit over the winter, for the friend with whom I'm staying -- and who's graciously driving me around while I'm there!

Shown here being blocked...
Star Afghan - Knitter's Magazine, Summer 2008
Designer: Sandra Daignault, Calgary, AB
Yarn: James Brett Marble DK, colour # MT 12

I was given a few more gifts this week, too.  My son celebrated 34 years on the planet.  My daughter visited with a Mother's Day package of rich Columbian coffee beans, roasted by a Columbian roaster resident in Edmonton, and a gift card to my favourite bookstore.  And not one but TWO (!) skeins of fabulous Manos del Uruguay yarn, brought back for me by her friend L, who bought them in Uruguay on a business trip a few months ago!

Weight: fingering
75% Merino wool
25% Nylon
Colour-way: "Manglar"
Created by Fatima at Dragon, Uruguay

I envision a good-sized shawl...or maybe two shawlettes... or a shawl and some mittens and a hat...

A bell is not a bell till you ring it.
A song is not a song till you sing it.
Love in your heart wasn't put there to stay;
love isn't love till you give it away.
-- Oscar Hammerstein II

Mr. H. was right.  That's why there are gifts -- to be given, and to be received, used, appreciated, shared.  And love is the greatest gift of all.

Thank you, Gentle Readers, for the gift of your reading, your thoughts and comments.  I leave you now with a link to Nina Marie's "Off the Wall Friday", where this week she writes of the gifts of a wonderful holiday, new scenery, new acquaintances and new learning opportunities.

Have a great week!

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Do You Take Time Off?

C'mon.  I'm pretty sure you do!  Alright: I know you do!  Even if you're thinking about your art work 24/7, sometimes it's time to step away and attend to Other Things.  This can be particularly true if you're the only one in your household, so you have to pause from time to time to Take Care of Business.

And that's pretty much what I've been doing since my last post. My "break" began, really, at the end of April, right after the Lacombe Art Show & Sale.  It's not uncommon for folks to "crash" (or at least, slump a little) after a big event, and I did.  My hands, especially, didn't want to have anything to do with using my sewing machine or cutting fabric.  My hands wanted to knit and embroider and garden and hold good books.  Believe it or not, they even wanted to peel recalcitrant wall paper and wield a paint brush and roller.

And so they did.

The need to paint a wall in my bedroom began a good three years ago (or longer), when Miss Pookie Cat (seen here supervising the tulips' growth) found a loose edge of wall paper -- an edge that had been pried loose a few more years before that, by my grand-cat, Princess, on a visit to my home.  Said edge had been hidden safely from prying paws for years, because that side of my bed was along the wall and my own cat at the time -- Diesel -- was too large to get between the wall and the bed to play with it.

Enter Pookie, the kitten, in 2012.  Some time in her first year or so with me, she discovered what fun it was to dive down beside the bed.  What treasures lay in the drawers that she could access from behind?  And wait!  What's this?!  Loose wall paper!  What fun!!

And so...bit by bit, she attacked it -- when I wasn't around or paying attention -- until there was nothing for me to do but peel it off in a swath, rendering the wall decidedly ugly.

That's when I decided to move my bed so that it was at 90 degrees to the wall -- hoping that this would motivate me to finish the job and paint the wall.

It took me a good three years (or more; I lost track) for that ploy to work -- but work it did, last month.  Here's a shot of the Peel in Progress.

For a brief moment, I entertained the thought of not peeling the last two sheets of wall paper -- hitherto unscathed -- and just painting 2/3 of the wall...but I knew that would likely look too weird.  Sigh.

So I proceeded to finish the job.

In the process, though, I had to prepare the rest of the room, and that included Getting Rid of Stuff.  Said "stuff" referred mainly to books I'd either read and wouldn't likely read again, or books I no longer even cared about reading, and to yarn I'd been given or rescued that in reality, I'd never want to knit with.  Knitting friends, the local lending library and the church's annual Yard Sale were the beneficiaries.

And I ended up with a room that -- with the bed back along the wall -- feels much more spacious and open.  Lighter, even.  With room for some new artwork (even my own pieces!) on the wall...

Over the head of the bed (L): an embroidery of
a patchwork quilt, stitched by my mother.
Hanging on the rod: Ivy for Faithfulness, a very early attempt
(by me) at turning a traditional pattern into something "arty" (2010).
On the bed: my "Not so Grand Illusion" -- from a Bonnie Hunter
Mystery.  On the wall at the right:(top) a knit sculpture by Julie Mears:
Underwater Mini #1 (2008); bottom: my own work -- Rock Face III, 2014

In the midst of sifting and sorting, I tackled my guest room (aka where I store my art work) and opened my blanket box for the first time in years.  Therein I unearthed quilts I'd made -- one for my daughter and one for my late godmother -- and some I'd been given on my aunt's death, which I'd forgotten I had.  One of those I showed you, now adorning a bench in my Outdoor Studio in good weather.  Several others have now come out to hang on quilt racks -- one in the guest room, and one in my own room:

On the wall (L): two floral cross-stitch pieces
done by my mother; and (R) one "Just Nan" sampler
embroidered by me in 2005.  On the desk: a runner
I made for Canada 150 in 2017 from a free "mystery"
pattern, and a tiny sampler -- Take Time to Cruise --
designed by Jeannette Douglas for her first stitching
cruise, which I took in 2009.

Here's a close up of that cozy corner.  The chair is antique; I believe it belonged first to my maternal grandmother, but it could be even older than that.  I know I've never seen another like it.  My mother refurbished it with the needlepoint decades ago.  To protect the seat, I've pinned (with short  T pins) thereon a small hanging I made in a class in another lifetime -- that I'd forgotten I had.  It seems to have worked (thus far!) to keep Miss Pookie from clawing at the chair's upholstery.

On the quilt rack: at the back, a 9-patch variation created by
my Aunt Alice Rennie sometime in the eighties, containing
fabric I gave her from garments I was sewing at the time. The
red-and-white print was from a dress I made my daughter; and
a Dresden Plate that was made even earlier by my Aunt -- perhaps
with her mother.  Both are hand quilted.

Just this past week, I made it back into the sewdio.  I'm travelling home to Quebec later this month and wanted to make a 'thank you' for my cousins, with whom I'll be staying part of the time.  Their eldest daughter, Sarah is -- like my daughter -- a talented photographer.  She and her husband Ian own an organic market veggie farm -- Les Jardins de Glenelm -- and she took this photo in March, when it had snowed -- yet again!

I fell in love with it and asked permission to recreate it in textiles, which was granted.  So...this week, I did:

It's  a tiny piece -- just 6" square -- which I've wrapped around a stretched canvas and on Friday, took to my framer's for a floater.  I'll pick it up by week's end.  Alas, the lighting doesn't show it, but the background is a piece of recycled, thin, poly-cotton sheeting that I hand-dyed a pale blue.  Once I applied the fabric for the barn, I drew in the trees as guidelines, but there's much more stitching that's been done to finish it off.  I promise a photo of the finished piece before I take it to it's new home!

And so I leave you for the moment...and will link this up with Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday before I go.  This week she shares "9 Tips to Unleash Your Creativity".  I seem to have been living Tip #4 -- after a fashion -- this past month...and very soon, I'll be following Tip #9.  Let's see where that leads, shall we?

Thanks for stopping by...I hope to 'see' you again soon!

Sunday, May 12, 2019

After the Show Indoors and Out

In my last post, I was about to show my work at the 20th Annual Lacombe Art Show & Sale.  Here's how the booth looked just before the doors opened:

From the 'front' (as seen from the door)

From the 'back' (as seen going toward the door)

It was an interesting time.  I really enjoyed connecting with artists I've met over the years, and from seeing new work by new entrants.  The "Paint-off" Friday evening was fun; I was rooting for an oil painter who was worried about how well he'd do with acrylic paint in the contest -- and he nailed it with a beautiful still life of irises. He wasn't the fastest painter, but I liked his piece the best.  (Sorry; I didn't get photos!)

Can you sense there's a "but" coming?

Abbey Echoes II - SOLD!
to a good friend at the Art Show & Sale
Yes...there's a "but".  There was a great flow of people through the show on both days -- despite a nasty spring snow storm Saturday morning that made travelling to the show a white-knuckle experience.  There was a lot of interest in my work -- and I sold one large piece (to a friend who'd been eyeing it since December at the "Shamrock and Thistle" exhibit) that more than covered my show fee.  There were more men interested in the work than I'd hitherto experienced.

But other than that...I sold only four pieces: two minis, and two small framed pieces -- and one of each of these went to other artists in exchange for pieces of their work.

And I had more "silly" comments about blankets and 'grandma used to do that sort of thing' than I've had since 2016.

Well...God willing there will be next year!  As Featured Artist for 2020, I'll have more booth space, an honourarium, a chance to speak bout my work...and other Good Things.  So...

Onward and upward!

Since the show, I've been busy in the yard and garden, cleaning up after the winter (yes, it eventually stopped snowing last weekend!), and planning out some improvements for this year.
One of those was extending the narrow bed on the east side of my garage, so I could plant lettuce and still find it when the rhubarb goes full tilt!

See that bit at the front of the photo?  The green clump is the burgeoning rhubarb.  The bed used to end just in front of the plant, but has now been extended to the end of the garage.  No more trying to wield the lawn mower into a narrow corner!  And yes...there will be lettuce and mixed greens growing at the very front of the bed.  (Lest you wonder...the land at the right side -- about 18" or so to the right of the bed -- isn't mine.  It's the empty lot next door, which is for sale.  I'd buy it but I can't afford it!)

I've managed this week to open the Outdoor Studio for a bit, and outfitted my not-so-comfy new bench with an old (but unused) quilt wrapped around some old bed pillows.  I tried it out last evening and it's not too bad for sitting...

I found the quilt when, in the course of sorting and sifting after the show, I opened my blanket box for the first time in years.  I'd forgotten I had this one.  It's about a twin size, hand quilted, and made by my late Aunt Alice some time in the eighties -- mostly poly-cotton, I think.  It's in pristine condition, and is stored away in the bench when not in use.  The fun thing about the quilt is the Prairie Point border all around -- except at the top edge.  I recognized many of the miscellaneous fabrics used in that border, because they were scraps I'd given my aunt to use, left over from the garment sewing I was doing in those years when my kids were small:

See the centre triangle?  It's a bit of wool fabric,
that clearly felted a bit in the wash!

This sweet and colourful memory was celebrated by three new faces in the flower bed that's just under the window of my "messy room" on the south side of the house:

 The yard work continues!  Some years ago a wee spruce seedling cropped up in the rock garden in the front of the house.  It had planted itself about a foot from the blue spruce -- my son's Grade IV transplant from Calgary, now almost 25 years old.  And there it stayed until last week, when it moved next door.  My neighbour had removed several old and rotting willows that had grown in a line between our properties, and was replacing them with young evergreen saplings.  My little green one was just right for a spot at the front near the street -- so I let him take it.  I was able to replace it with another sapling that had planted itself (with 2 others) in a large, unused flower pot near my shed.  So here's the new tot in the rock garden, in the shadow if Big Blue Brother Spruce:

He's got some growing to do!
I'll fill in that black patch with a bit more flox or other perennial ground cover, later this week. A trip to the local nursery is in order!  On the list: manure/loam/soil mix (bags), a few annuals for my pots, and the aforementioned ground cover.

In the evenings and early mornings my hands have been busy with MORE knitting finishing.  I finally got the two panels for the Mosaic Wrap done, and am now beavering away on the end borders, of which there are two.  The two panels will be sewn together to make a long wrap, and then finished off with borders on the other two edges.  The challenge of mosaic knitting is that you knit and knit and knit and knit and don't seem to make much progress -- and then, bingo!  Done!

Panel 1

Panel 2

I resurrected the centre of a 'Hap' shawl (Shetland style shawl) begun years ago, which needed its borders.  The first of four sides of a wide border is finished, and the second well underway.  After the wide border, comes a lace edging.  In addition I've finished a small neck shawlette for the church charity tree, and am working on a lovely cowl in a yummy alpaca and silk blend.  Photos will follow eventually!

Today I'm off for an over-night trip to Calgary to see friends -- and my friendly dentist (annual check-up).  Once back -- more gardening!

Linking this to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday...where this week she's finishing her book review posts about Strong Women based on a book by Amy Morin (which I've not read).  One of the things such women do is boldly reinvent themselves.  My son said to me a few months ago, "I've watched you reinvent yourself [since Dad died]..."  I hadn't really thought of my life that way, but it's true.  My life now is Artist, Colour Lover, Grower, Maker, Occasional Volunteer, Friend and Mom.

Happy Mother's Day to all who are mothers or mother-figures in the lives of those around you.  Have a great week!

Friday, April 26, 2019

Show Time!

  • Frames and mats in place: CHECK!
  • Sleeves and dowels in place: CHECK!
  • Title/price labels written and printed: CHECK!
  • Inventory list up-dated and printed: CHECK!
  • Kit box filled with picture stands, s-hooks, stand fasteners, painter's tape, extension cord, scissors, post cards and business cards: CHECK!
  • Framed and matted pieces packed: CHECK!
  • Soft pieces lying flat, ready to pack: CHECK!
Thursday after work I loaded everything into the car except the studio rack, the kit box and the soft pieces.  I especially wanted the latter to lie flat and unfolded for as long as possible!  Everything is in the locked car in the locked garage -- ready to load those last few items, and toddle on down the highway to Lacombe.

Blessedly, the weather forecast has improved a bit, and we're not likely to get either rained or snowed on while trekking from vehicles into the hall, back and forth, unpacking and setting up our booths.  We'll let worrying about tomorrow's weather go...until tomorrow.  😊

Meanwhile...for those of you who can't make it to Lacombe, Alberta for the 20th Annual ENCORE! Lacombe Art Show & Sale...a peek at some more of the work that will be there...

March Trees I (C) 2019
12" W x 12" L, framed
Needle-felting, fabric paper, fused applique
and machine quilting applied to stretched canvas

March Trees II (C) 2019
5" x 7" matted to 8" x 10"
Mono-printed, machine quilted, beaded

March Trees III (C) 2019
10" x 10" mounted on 12" x 12" painted stretched canvas
Mono-printed, machine quilted, beaded

Rear Guard (C) 2019
5" x 7" matted to 8" x 10"
Hand-dyeing, fused applique, thread painting,
machine quilted

Mother Was a Lady I: Take Some Tea with Me? (C) 2019
11" W x 13" L, mounted on 12" x 16" painted stretched canvas
Tea bag paper, commercial cotton, lace, beads
Fused applique, machine quilting, beading, embroidery's a typical spring in Alberta.  We've had VERY dry weather thus far and could use some rain, but of course, being here...well, there's rain and snow in the forecast.  What to wear to stay warm will be an issue, as I am so tired of winter clothes!  Blessedly, I finished this earlier this week, so will use it as a layering piece...

Pattern: Reyna 
Designer: Noora Backlund
Yarns: 1) dark purple - Sweet Georgia;
2) multi - Zen Yarn Garden Superfine Fingering
in the "Notebook" colour-way.

Linking this to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday, and wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Blessings for Passover...and Happy Easter

Tonight is the first night of Passover...
Today is Good Friday. This is the sweet-sour juxtaposition of the intimate worship practiced by Jesus of Nazareth -- a Jew -- and his people. It's the intersection of His Last Seder Supper with his closest followers...and the remembrance by all of them of their history, their liberation from their Egyptian captors and their entrance into the desert...*long before* they reached their Promised Land.
I am a Christian. My late DH was a Jew who believed he met the Messiah when he encountered Jesus. This will forever create a tension in the wider family to which we belong...but the beauty, the loveliness of all of this is...the Man on the Cross all those centuries ago was the One who tried to unite us, who tried to make us see that we are all of a piece. We are all in love with the Creator, the One God who made us. And that God's essential commandments are:
"The LORD your God, the LORD is ONE; and you shall love your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength -- AND your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang ALL the Law and the [teaching of] the Prophets."
Blessings for Pesach to my Jewish friends and family; I love you as I love myself.
Blessings to my Christian friends and family: I love you as I love myself.
Thanks be to God!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

MORE from the Sewdio

The 20th Annual Lacombe Art Show and Sale is less than 2 weeks away now.  With the Bursary applications I was working on (see my last post) completed, packed up and sent back to the Educational Foundation last Monday, I was able to get back to show prep...and other things (READ: yard work).

It's about time -- as the wind howls outside and the rain comes down in fits and starts -- that I shared with you more of what I've been doing to get ready for this show, and other studio news.

Before the Crowds (C) 2019
In my last "studio post", I'd finished "Before the Crowds" and submitted it for consideration by the Grand National jury.  The deadline for entries was now I wait.  It needs its sleeve nonetheless, and that will happen this week, because if it isn't accepted at GN, it will go with me to the Lacombe Art Show/Sale.

Since then...several pieces have been finished -- mainly mounted on canvas -- and most have been framed.  I have three that are being framed now, and that will be the end of it for the time being. 

So let me start from the top!

The problem is, it's a bit of a blur!  I've just been making and making...

A couple of Sundays ago I got a chance for my favourite walk around Cranna Lake in Lacombe, and shot some tree photos, like these:

Yes, this one's been cropped!  😉

I just love these "March Trees" with their bits of berries and detritus, and all the layering, so I decided to do a series.

The top photo served as inspiration for mono-printing:

NOTE: the front piece wasn't mono-printed, but if you look closely you can see trees drawn on the surface.  It becomes something else, so read on! 

I ended up with two pieces, one of which became a new "mini", mono-printed and beaded:

March Trees II (C) 2019

Another one became a piece that was faced and beaded and mounted on painted stretched canvas...and is now in for framing (stay tuned for a photo sometime after Easter).

And then there's that photo of a myriad of trees over-looking the lake (scroll up).  This one is now finished and at the framer's...but here are some of the steps I took to creating it:

1. Quilted the sky; 2. needle-felted the grey "trees on the far
shore"; 3. layered those "trees" with "grass" on the shore:
4. attached both to the background.

Auditioning the evergreen branches on the tree trunks.

Auditioning and positioning deciduous tree trunks
over and around the evergreens.

Message from my Pfaff Performance 2.0:
"Take a break, would ya? I'm working too hard!!" 😄

Sorry; you'll have to wait for the final photo -- this is one piece that's over at the framer's and might not be finished till a couple of days before the show!  It's mounted on 12" square stretched canvas...just to let you know the size.  Title: March Trees I.  

And yes, there is a "March Trees III", resembling the mini (above) but larger and mounted on painted stretched canvas (it's also 12" x 12").  It too is in for framing.  Stay tuned!

Continuing in the 'tree' theme, in the process of making sleeves for a couple of soft pieces (In the Bleak Mid-winter and Content of Our Waiting, now finished), I came across a piece of fabric on which I'd made marks in a short workshop with Susan Purney Mark at the SAQA Western Canada Regional Retreat a couple of years ago.  I hadn't filed it with my 'samples' because I knew that eventually I'd want to make it into something, and this week it became another new 'mini':

Night Woods (C) 2019

And remember that piece of sky and foreground with trees drawn on the surface (scroll up)? became a mini too...

Rear Guard (C) 2019
Yes, that mat is not my "usual".  It was one I got on sale from a shop that's now closed. It has a "faux suede" surface and I've been waiting a good 3 years till I found a piece it suited!  This piece is based on a memory I have of a trio of grain bins set against a tree line that I drove past on my way to work in late winter/early spring this year.  Slices of blue in the sky amid the clouds, and snow still on the ground.  I had to hold on to the memory until I could sketch it out in my sketch book as I had no camera handy and I was driving!

The New Directions series has continued.  This is New Directions 2, mounted on canvas but of a size that it won't be framed -- just wired for hanging.

New Directions 4 and 5 have been framed but -- sorry, no photos as of this writing.  Clearly they got lost in the shuffle!  😉

Remember "Blue Pot"?  It was a piece I made for an Alberta Society of Artists fundraiser last fall.  Well...I've followed it with the smaller "Red Pot", based on a photo of lobelia I've managed to over-winter in my sunny back room...

Inspirational photo

Before framing - mounted on painted artist's panel

Red Pot (C) 2019 - 8" x 8", framed

Red Pot - detail

I certainly hope some of these sell at the Lacombe Art Show/Sale, because pieces are starting to pile up!

Blessedly I was able to take six (count 'em!) older pieces -- in a 'rural' theme -- over to sell on consignment at a new shop that opens next week at the nearby Village of Alix.  I went over there on Friday morning to mount them, with Carrie, the owner's, help.  Her laser level is amazing!

Here they are, on two different walls:

Left to right: One Step Ahead of the Gulls, Rural Rhythms

Clockwise from top: The Old Corral, Uphill to Mirror,
Canola, Waiting for the Train

This second one is on a narrow hallway without a way to take a really good photo, but you get the idea.  Carrie loves them and is sure they'll be a hit.  She's a bit more optimistic than I am here in Bed Quilt Central! -- but at least I've got them out and into the world, so I need to remain hopeful.  I certainly appreciate her support!

And now, my friends...that's it.  You're all caught up except for a few photos!  The knitting and spinning continue, as I'm determined to spin up roving that's been around for far too long.  I'm determined to finish a shawl and a wrap before I begin my "Summer of Socks".  And there's a bedroom wall to paint and an old trunk to refurbish as a planter this

Onward and upward!  Linking this to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Friday", and thinking perhaps a retreat like the one she just enjoyed wouldn't be a bad idea!  😉

Have a great week, everyone!

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Eye Opener

In 2004, our family endowed a pair of bursaries to graduating students at my former high school.  A point system was developed, and has been refined over time. 

The applicant is allowed 10 points for each of the following: his/her personal application letter; two letters of reference (one from an educator and one from outside the school, but not from family); and his/her high school record (marks).  This makes 30 points. 

An additional maximum of 20 points is given based on a financial needs assessment.  This was created so that the applicants could develop an awareness of the cost of post-secondary education, as well as to determine need -- so that students weren't just being assessed on the basis of scholarship.

 I believe that a post-secondary education is not found in universities alone, but also in various trade and vocational programs, and so students with talents and goals in these areas of endeavour should be given an opportunity to go to school -- and financial need shouldn't be a barrier.

Since that time, I've been honoured to be part of the committee to assess the applications submitted each spring.  The bursaries amount to two prizes of $500 per year, one given to a male and one to a female.  Every five or six years, I fly home (i.e. back to where I grew up in Eastern Canada) to give out these prizes in person.

For years it was like pulling teeth to get boys to apply.  One year the application review time line was shortened considerably, simply in order to get some boys to answer the call -- because, you see, if no boys applied, the money wouldn't be given to a girl -- nor would the selected girl get double funding.  The funds would just go back into the endowment investments till the following year.

This year I have 64 applications to review -- 35 from girls and a whopping 29 from boys: the greatest number of male applicants I've seen in the history of the program! Wow!

I try to review each application twice -- and as of this morning, I finished my first 'fly-over' of the boys' applications.

Again: WOW! 

Very few of these applicants, this year, are aiming for university.  One wants to be an engineer, and two, teachers.  There are several who want training to be light-body (i.e. cars, trucks) mechanics.  One wants to be a chef.  Two want to become carpenters.  Some want to develop skills and knowledge in computers and digital technology and/or graphic arts -- and two or three want to be entrepreneurs with training in business and marketing.  Two want to be police officers, and one wants to be trained in Border Patrol.

In addition to the crop of trades and vocations that dominate these applications, there are some very interesting stories.  Several boys live in single-parent families, whether due to death or divorce.  This is becoming more common each year, but this year, at least two applicants mentioned that their mothers had also gone back to school for opportunities to make a better living and accomplish something long desired.

Then there are the other challenges faced by these students.  There are learning disabilities, physical injuries overcome, a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, and heartbreak at abandonment by a father "who cares for no one but himself" -- this last written as a footnote to his Financial Assessment, by a boy who, as reported by one of his references, has regularly helped her in her home to do the things her multiple sclerosis prevents her from doing. 

Why am I telling you all this, Gentle Readers? 

Because after yet another Winter of Discontent, with continued corruption and strife in political leadership, with concerns about climate change, with natural disasters of the like not witnessed before, with terrorism and bouts of violence still cropping up to jar and shatter innocents around the just might want to fling up one's hands in despair.

But these applicants -- these young men who've stepped out with faith and courage to actually express themselves on paper and assess in their hearts and minds what they'd like to do to move forward in life -- these young men have opened my eyes to HOPE once more.

I know full well that their futures will not be all milk and honey, all smooth sailing -- but they're setting their faces like flint towards what lies ahead, and for that I applaud them, and thank them, for as Max Ehrmann opined in his Desiderata...

"...with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world."