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 ( 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

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

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?

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

Grieving is Unfinished Work

IMG_5395 (1) Man and baby

Water color portrait by Jacqueline Stubbs

Sometimes I have to write something for myself – about my Mom. I’ve been thinking a lot about her lately. Not that I don’t think about her throughout each day, because I do. I’m talking about the thoughts and questions that bring me to tears. The kind of boiling tears that make you walk around the house carrying tissues and not daring to put on mascara or go out because you’ll look like hell and start crying all over again when anyone asks how your day is going. Continue reading

The Hole View – Retirement Pressures


The guy who cuts my grass broke a window on May 17th. Two weeks later, I still don’t have a firm schedule for its repair – although I did finally get a price quoted. In my retirement transition, I’ve been focused on this hole and angry. It’s a symbol of everything that is broken and that I’ve been waiting to get fixed. Now that I am retired, that which used to be a nuisance, sometimes becomes an obsession. I retired from a  career in power where I worried about the scope of outages, when the next hurricane might come, and a myriad of daily decisions and administrative matters. Now, my decisions are like this: Continue reading

Finding Purpose After Retirement

iris fieldIMG_0987Early retirement has been like walking this zig-zagged iris garden boardwalk. Lots of fun travel over here. Golf and art lessons over there. Short term volunteer assignments along the way. Thoughts of marketing some of Mom’s artwork (she loved painting irises). Blogging a lot, then not. Walking around enjoying the beauty, like these travelers, but not jumping off into any particular field. I’ve written about my retirement identity crisis recently. However, I’m turning the corner into some things that are motivating me like I haven’t been for a while. Continue reading

Retirement – Identity Struggles and Feelings

flying high solo (2)

The above was from an article written in 2013 when the thought of early retirement didn’t exist. I was fully immersed in a career that I loved, working for a company and with people I respected, and really doing well….until my Father died shortly after it was published and I became the primary caregiver for my Mother. I spent the next four years immersed in elder care, my job and nothing else….until I started considering early retirement. There is lots of advice on the financial aspects of retirement and how to spend your time,  but not that much about one’s shifting identity and the emotions involved. I think of retirement planning in terms of three F’s:  Finances, Fun and Feelings (MOSTLY feelings.) Continue reading

Writing From The Heart



Painting by Judy Mackey

Creative Pension Payment:  Being able to write about anything

I’ve always been a writer. When I was 12, I wrote a short story.  I even typed up the manuscript, but my Dad got transferred to Japan that summer and it was misplaced in the packing.  In middle school and high school I filled journals with poetry and teenaged revelations.  In college I wrote all the time (my BA is in Communications.) At work I wrote contracts, white papers and occasional articles for company publications. And then I went to graduate school…. It was exhausting after a while. Continue reading