Artistic Wonders of Waste

Having just completed my second full year of retirement and getting ready to marry/combine households, my latest hobby has been trying to purge items from my home without generating waste. I’ve gotten quite good at selling, donating, regifting, recycling and repurposing. My main hobby, however, is travel and I’ve noticed a trend in the use of abandoned items to serve greater purposes.

On a recent southern states road trip, we decided to spend the night in Little Rock, Arkansas. There we discovered the non-profit organization Washed Ashore (https://washedashore.org) which had an exhibit at the local presidential library. Known for its “Art to Save the Sea” and founded by artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi, Washed Ashore has traveling exhibits and an ongoing one at the Smithsonian. We were welcomed to the traveling exhibit at the Clinton Presidential Center by this out-door masterpiece – all made of trash.

Inside the center, there was a large collection of art made entirely of debris that had washed ashore. Based in Bandon, Oregon, Washed Ashore’s team builds and exhibits works of art to educate the world about plastic waste in the ocean and waterways. Their goal is to inspire positive behavior changes in the consumption of plastics. They also create some amazing and large pieces of beautiful art.

A tsunami wave of plastic debris in the form of a large diptych created by Haseltine Pozzi.

This exhibit was profoundly impactful. I used to scoop up stuff when sailing or kayaking if I came upon it. Now I’m more sensitive about correct recycling practices and avoiding the use of some plastics all together.

Also at the Clinton Center, we were introduced to the program Curbside Couture which encourages students to create wearable designs from recycled materials. Here are a few photos from the installation of the 2019 contest. Future designers were photographed on the runway and received mentoring from professional designers. Students used newspapers, discarded items, nut shells and even dryer lint to creative stunning outfits. To learn about the Spring 2020 event, check out https://www.clintonfoundation.org/get-involved/take-action/attend-an-event/curbside-couture-1.

We made another stop in Birmingham, Alabama and toured the Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark. Having worked in construction and heavy industry, I thought this place was fantastic just as an example of industry in the US. However, this landmark goes way beyond preservation of the giant pig iron furnaces that stood abandoned for years. In addition to educating on the iron industry, the organization promotes metal arts and photography, holds workshops, concerts and other special events. They also have a sculpture garden, called Sculpture Trails.

If you are ever in Birmingham, I highly recommend this unusual landmark, and check out their web site at https://www.slossfurnaces.com/.

As I wrap up this blog post and re-focus on downsizing, I remember a gift from my Mother. She also used waste as teaching aid. In my case, it was learning the importance of cleaning out the lint trap in your dryer. She gifted me this roll of fuzzy lint as a reminder and it doubles as a pin cushion! What are some of your Wonders of Waste?

The Fabric of Friendship

Real friendship protects intimacy and is sustained over distance. Real art is like a bolt of fabric – a creative, continuous process over time. My art is to write about the creation of art.

My blog was started to write about retirement, but has expanded to include travel, art and anything else that amuses me – such as how much time I’ve been spending with fabric. At the first of several post-retirement workshops (three of which were dedicated to fabric) I made this painted silk scarf and promptly gave it to a friend. It reminds me of the many old friends I have, near and far, who have stayed close to my heart.

My second fabric workshop was also silk painting, but using slightly difference tools and techniques. This time I travelled across the country to meet with three new friends that I’d met in Molokai. We bonded further over several hours of creating these beautiful ocean hued treasures on the drying rack.

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Creating Purpose From Pain

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” —Viktor Frankl

It’s ok to be sad or mad. Grief and anger are those steaming piles of shit in life that become the fertilizer for your garden. What becomes of your compost heap? What grows in your garden on a cloudy day?

A small reflecting pool at Hui Ho’olana
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My Favorite Ungulates – Photos from Tanzania

We took over 3,000 photos with two cameras and two iPhones in 10 days. I wasn’t sure how I would ever organize or narrow down the images, let alone my thoughts from our first photo safari. Then Mark told me he was tagging his with the D-65 Digital Workflow Lightroom Keyword tool. Under the category of “mammals” were carnivores, marsupials, primates…….. and “ungulates” or hooved mammals. Neither of us knew the word (no biology majors here) and I suspect people who do know it google the definition to be sure! So, for the next sub category of photos and experiences, I’m talking about ungulates (both even and odd toed).

Ungulates Who Look You in The Eye


008-20190518_duma1_0054 A female Cape Buffalo in Arusha National Park keeps guard while the male naps.
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Tanzania – A Cat Lover’s Dream

I just returned from 10 days in Tanzania visiting several National Parks and Conservation areas to photograph wildlife with Mark and friends. We had our iPhones, plus two cameras with wide angle and zoom lenses. We took thousands of photos and are still sorting through them. I’m also still synthesizing the experiences of my first trip to Africa, making blogging a challenge. However, I am eager to share some of what we saw in Serengeti National Park where we spent several days. When all else fails in blogging, I fall back on my love of art and photography. Here goes! Caution; not all images are cute and cuddly.

Female lion leaving her resting spot to drink water from a nearby creek.
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Fool for Adventure: Laura Kyswaty Shares her Talent and Enthusiasm

IMG_8556 (3) Laura high resI recently attended an incredible retreat by Advivum Journeys (https://www.advivumjourneys.ca/). A group of total strangers gathered in Molokai for “The Reimagined Self” at Hui Ho’Olana. We were exhausted from travel, life’s dealings, or both. Even so, a few of us decided to ride into town, away from the comfort of the resort or its facilitative processes. 

We were introducing ourselves in the outdoor lobby of Hotel Molokai and waiting for one final member when there she was! Wait, I was told the age range of retreat guests was “middle-aged to 80.” Here was this 30-something woman with long, freshly washed and damp hair, wearing a strapless sun dress. She had to be one of the facilitators. She was full of energy and literally stood on her toes, then landed on flat feet as she extended her hand. “Hi! I’m Laura!” Continue reading

What I Wish I’d Known About Retirement – Your Invitation

I just celebrated two years of not getting up for work. I didn’t have solid plans for what I was going to do instead. My plans shifted like sands on a windy beach. I knew I would spend more time traveling and volunteering, but the rest of the time has been a lot of experimentation and a little bit of frustration. I’ve written quite a bit about my retirement revelations here on WordPress, so what’s knew? I didn’t realize, until recently, that I’m not as uniquely confused about retirement life as I thought. There are other women out there blogging about retirement transitions. Other women without kids and grandkids searching for their next in life. Other women dealing with the loss of their corporate identity.

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Modernism Week – No Sitting On The Bed

Daylight Savings began this morning. I stayed up past my bedtime and woke up too early. Now I’m stupefied. Here is another good reason for procrastinating on my writing goals. Several interviews done and zero drafts completed this year. I must remind myself of how and why I  write.  There is no deadline and I’m not getting paid. This blog is about my crazy retirement adventures, not just promoting art. In honor of that philosophy and not getting enough sleep, take a look at these fantastic “keep you up all night” bedrooms from Modernism Week in the Palm Springs area last month. Continue reading

No Bull, This Art Sparks Joy!

What does The Houston Rodeo and Marie Kondo’s Netflix show have in common? Nothing, but that’s not how my mind works. I can lasso a tangent faster than you can process my last sentence. Even though I read her book a couple of years ago, I’m still dealing with clutter and still wonder what brings me the most joy. I didn’t find the expression “spark joy” helpful when dealing with things like pots and pans, or cleaning supplies and many other things that I need and use. It doesn’t help when curating art work, either, because I just want more! Continue reading