The thing that I have is probably what I need

index_cardThis morning I reached in my pocket and pulled out a tattered index card.   I give these cards to my students so they can write down and remember vocabulary words.  Without thinking, I took it to the trash and tossed it in.   I then began my next task which was writing my ‘to do’ list for the day.   As I wandered off to find a suitable sheet, it occurred to me that the paper I had just tossed was exactly what was needed.   This unremarkable event is representative of how my mind works these days.   I wandered back to the trash and fished out my tattered index card.   On it, I wrote out my list of things to do, writing this blog entry at top of the list.

Lately I challenge myself to look at things for what they might become rather than what they are.   I take a lot of joy in visiting our local thrift store “Dig and Save” to wander through the aisles and wonder how this or that item might be repurposed.

Consumer society wants us to covet the latest product.  The unique and extremely desirable qualities of such products are meant to lure us into stores, and dig deep into our pockets.   Sadly, products are the object of someone else’s imagination and we get none of the fun creative part that draws us in.   Instead, our role is limited to covet and savor it at least until it’s appeal has faded and it is time to buy another one.

Yesterday I went off to the stores right after Thanksgiving.   Yes, I had barely said goodbye to my guests when my family and I decided to venture out into the dangerous world of Black Friday shopping.   Needless to say I gave my daughter a guilt trip about running out to the stores on Thanksgiving.   When we got home, I told her that my receipt contained a request to evaluate my experience at the store.   She dismissed it saying “You’re not really going to fill it out are you?”   To her surprise I sat her down and gave her a two minute lecture the essence of which was “The old testament says that when we have a day of rest, even slaves and animals are included in that rest.   The least we can do for the cashier who took time out of his holiday to help us would be to sit down and write a glowing review for his personnel file.”

My thought in lecturing my daughter or in writing this blog for that matter is not to ruin everybody’s day with guilt, but to transform thinking.    If this challenge I give to myself is going to be transformative, I really need to look, not only at things for what they might become, but also to look at people for who they may become rather than what they are.


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A show worth viewing: Elizabeth Palay


Horizons , 2013 Oil on Canvas, 12″ x 48″ by Elizabeth Palay

This afternoon I took a long postponed trip to visit an art exhibition of Madison artist Elizabeth Palay.    I was glad I went.   Palay paints vibrant abstract paintings which drew me.  Since the show is a retrospective of work spanning decades from the 1970’s to the present, it made me wonder why I had never encountered her work before

The striking aspect of her work is the way she sets colors next to one another.   In many of her pieces there is active movement across the entire surface, but the result is not unbroken uniformity.   Instead there are often subtle variations that move the eyes across the image.   I had many favorites, but I especially liked some of the horizontal works near the second floor entry.  Palay’s is distributed on the first two floors of a medical building at 800 University Bay Dr.  The show is open Mondays – Friday 9am – 6pm.     If there was one disappointment it would be my desire to see more clearly the works that suffered unflattering light.  Palay’s work can also be seen at

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