Monthly Archives: November 2007

Published Photo–Mist Woods

I have been publishing my writing for many years. I even worked as a Managing Editor for a major trucking website and as a journalist snapped many photos of awesome semi tractor-trailers. But today, On Michigan in Pictures, what I consider my first real artistic work was published, a photo that has appeared on my own blog in a smaller version called Mist Woods. The image was captured heading up Summit Peak Trail in the Porcupine Mountains in October. I was using a DXG 5.1 Mega-pixel camera. the photo was slightly optimized in Adobe Photoshop.

Please visit both Michigan in Pictures and Absolute Michigan. The folks at these sites are doing an awesome job of promoting Michigan. Michigan in Pictures is designed to showcase the state of Michigan through visual means.

What I have learned on a garden bench. . .


What I have learned on a garden bench . . .

As the growing season came to a close, I approached an article for the Marquette Food Co-op with the focus of Harvest and Community. Many young farmers are running Community Supported Agriculture farms (CSAs). We are building a thriving Farmer’s Market here in Marquette, and those without acreage or backyards can be allotted a small plot in the Community Garden. I can sit out on the rocks of Founder’s Landing watching sail boats on Wednesday evenings and count my blessings. This town supports creativity no matter what your pursuit. Yet, on a garden bench, my world becomes more focused on the microcosm.

EggplantIt’s the gardens around me bringing me home, centering. What can I grow? What does well? What new discoveries are right here under my feet?

Purple Eggplant bushes are tall, I observe. Green bell peppers grow neatly in the same plot at the Community Garden. I can take this knowledge home to my own. But the lessons are deeper than compatible plantings. A garden has a certain yield and prosperity, so do we in a community or our own home. And our talents, skills and time must be given carefully.

Perhaps as I age I am learning where best to apply my gifts, a positive attribute for a grandmother I think to myself as I sit on the bench watching gardeners move through the weeds of their small plots.

A goal this year (2007) was to focus on giving back to the communities that have fostered my growth, to pursue my “art” with focus, and spend more time with family. I have moved back to a job path where I can be of service and feel strong at the end of a day. As I sit on the bench reflecting on where I am at home, micro-organisms build soil health, and the seeds I am sowing seem to thrive. What yield and prosperity will follow?  I can sit patiently through winter, blanketed by white, and wait for the movement of seasons to reveal the next cycle.

Tuesday Twelve–Fighting Seasonal Affective Disorder

Gray days of November have begun, and people in Marquette are counting the days without sun. On Friday, a friend and I chose a 10-minute walk to brighten our minds and to freshen our outlook before getting down to business.

For me, late fall and winter are a balancing act. I need to allow for the hibernative tendency to feed introspection and allow time for art. Yet, if I isolate too much the sludge that sets in is like cold tree sap and I become dark and stagnant, depression and body aches get the upper hand.

This Tuesday Twelve, I’m focusing on how to fight S.A.D.

  • Pull back the curtains and let the light in.
  • Every morning center yourself: yoga, tai chi, stretch, or meditate.
  • Make an Artist Date with a friend to journal over coffee or tea.
  • Use uplifting essential oils to lift your mood and give energy in the studio.
  • Call someone on your support team or get a big hug.
  • Volunteer your time; you’ll feel like you made a difference.
  • Renew by purchasing fresh flowers, rearrange furniture, repot plants.
  • Take 10: jumping jacks, deep breaths, sit-ups, or ten minutes around the block.
  • Paint with bright colors and get tactile with the process—fingers paint!
  • Nourish yourself with fruits and veggies.
  • Listen to new and unusual music on Internet radio or check it out at the library.
  • Keep a gratitude journal and make an entry every night.

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Photo-Friday: Two-Vined

Two-Vined (divine squash at Park Cemetary), copyright Kim Nixon

Two-vined, (Divine Squash at Park Cemetery) is a digital image taken in the Marquette Community Gardens. A black-and-white image of this shot appears on the cover of “Food for Thought: The Newsletter of the Marquette Food Co-op,” Volume 7, Number 5, Oct./Nov. 2007. I took the image (and others) while suffering from writer’s block. The article I was suppose to be working was themed Community and Harvest. So, I headed to the Community Gardens in the back of Marquette’s Park Cemetery. I also took shots at the Farmer’s Marquette that day and of a public art installment that was being dismantled (see Gramma Door posts). The theme of this week’s Photo-Friday contest is, Two. And these divine veggies came to mind immediately.

When Opened

When Opened, Copyright Kim Nixon 2007

From photo series, “Images from Camp” this photo was taken during November. I am trying to learn contrast, finding light in dark, and texture. Winter is coming to the Upper Peninsula and the color gray is something I dread. But this gray, this wood, I want to embrace. I feel on a threshold. When opened, I wonder what I will find.

The Bear

Bear Scat in FallThe Bear  

In late winter
I sometimes glimpse bits of steam
coming up from
some fault in the old snow
and bend close and see it is lung-colored
and put down my nose
and know
the chilly, enduring odor of bear.

–Galway Kinnell

Bear Paw

My journey to the Upper Peninsula was the path of the bear. A journey to find myself and my path. At Mike’s Camp we have a bear that lets us know he is there, but we have never seen him, just what he leaves behind.

When I moved my family to the Upper Peninsula, each home we toured with a real estate agent had sign of bear. Even the hotel that we stayed at while traveling had a barrel-bear-trap set up near the dumpsters. One home had a window in a garage that a bear had reached through. The home we bought in 1993 near Gwinn had a neighborhood bear that would climb in my neighbors jeep to drink from “empties” not yet returned for deposit at the grocery store. That was many years ago and now at camp the bear comes to me.

I lumber trails with him in my dreams. It is that time of year.

Tuesday Twelve – Essential Oils

Massage Table in ClassroomEarlier this month I was a substitute teacher for a Health Occupation’s class. The class is held at a local hospital and three high schools attend. These students are considering a career in nursing or another medical career. Their teacher, knowing I am a certified massage therapist, had me develop the lesson for the Friday class. We covered: massage as a career, applications of massage in nursing, essential oils, and instruction on how to give a chair massage to someone confined to a wheel chair.

We did not go through all these essential oils. But my bottles were rotated through the class and we discussed the use of essentials, In the 3 and 4rth hour class I had a young woman come in with nausea (flu symptoms). She rubbed some peppermint oil into her abdomen area in a clockwise pattern and had relief in less than 15 minutes. We also demonstrated the warming qualities of a balancing blend and lavender on someone with menstrual pain.

1. Lavender – Migraines and calming
2. Peppermint – Nausea and headache
3. Tea Tree – Antiseptic and Anti-fungal
4. Wintergreen – Muscle and joint pain*
Frankincense – Anointing, deepens breath
6. Sweet Orange – Awakening and cleansing
7. Rosemary – Circulation and energizing**
Lemongrass – Scar tissue and muscle ache
9.  Cypress – Circulation and muscle spasms
10. Ylang Ylang – Antidepressant and relaxant
11. Ginger – Menstrual pain and lung congestion ***
Eucalyptus – Antibacterial and antiviral

*May raise blood pressure use with caution on clients with High Blood Pressure.
** Use a carrier-oil as may irritate sensitive skin.
*** Use with caution very heating effect use in compresses.

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Birds are Like Flowers in Winter — Vignettes in Writing

“Birds are like the flowers in winter,” That’s what Mike said. So, I pulled my Shepard’s hook from the front yard of my second story apartment and took it to his home. I placed the black cast iron hook with the royal blue feeder full of peanuts back by the deck with his other feeders. I wasn’t sure Mike noticed until he pointed out a big blue jay, an agile male that likes to eat peanuts while upside down. His color is so bold.

I fell in love with Mike’s sight. We took our food to the bandstand area to listen to some blues and sitting on the wooden benches in front of us was a little girl with long brown pigtails and a small boy with a Mohawk hair-cut died Jell-O green. They were being so typical boy picks on girl ‘cause I like you that we smiled simultaneously. Mike is electric when he smiles.

July 3, 2004, and it was all so typical Americana. Someone’s sixty-something old wild Auntie, too drunk and dancing while unsuccessfully keeping beer in the cheap plastic party cup was upfront and center for all to see. Men with rock hard potbellies hanging over belt buckles gorged themselves on festival food. Later, while waiting for darkness and fireworks, I sat next to Mike on a colorful wool blanket and tried to summon-up my will to lean in closer to him. I wanted him to kiss me. 

* * *

After gathering perennials at a church plant swap, I planted the Emma Joe flowerbeds with mint, catnip, lily of the valley and summer flowers whose names I never knew and one day intend to look-up. Those beds were blooming eleven days after the fireworks. Poetry is magic and I read that night with Mike watching me from the audience, his eyes sparkling, drinking me in. At close that night we all stood around outside in a circle, Mike the Younger ducking back into the coffee shop to fill his cup one more time, Ceiri in conversation with others and Mike stepped across the circle and kissed me for the first time, and simply stepped beack. No one noticed. My body was screaming, get back here I wasn’t ready, but I had lost all ability to speak and somehow I ended up in my car Ceiri in the passenger seat when I finally uttered quietly, “He kissed me.”

* * *

Hiawatha helping Kathie put suntan lotion on a client in an electric wheel chair, working the information booth, exploring the flood plain where the dead river has taken back and young grasses grow bright green and water washes over rock that had been deep below the Toursit Park Lake.
* * *

The flowers on the highway.

* * *

I was alive with crowd energy, my palms pulsed.

* * *
I feel like I need to surprise him with visuals and that is how I choose placement of the yellow heirloom daffodils that I planted in the garden beds.

A Question on Photo Printing

Fall Leaves, National Mine, Michigan -- copyright Kim Nixon

I am posing this question to viewers. Where do you print your digital images? I have had a store owner ask to put some of my images on the walls for sale. I am honored. But have no idea where to turn with my digital images. I want to do prints larger than 4×6. My boyfriend recently ordered a dye-sublimation printer from ebay but it only does 4×6. Suggestions? I do not want fading of the images. I would like an online order source. One which will allow me to preview images if possible. Who have you used–good bad and ugly please let me know.

The Tuesday Twelve—Tips for Substitute Teachers

1. Self promote—ask a principal if it is okay to leave a business card with teachers and let him/her know of your grade levels and specialties. Call schools when you have not heard from them, or let them know you have open dates of availability.

2. Know school locations, hours of arrival and departure, and the school secretary’s name.

3. Set alarm the night before so you are prepared for your earliest school start: lay clothes out. Have lunch packed. Even if the phone has awakened you, ask what you subject you will be teaching so you do not show up in a skirt if subbing phys-ed.

4. Keep a sub-folder with district school calendars, your day planner, timesheets and business cards.

5. Arrive early, approximately 15 minutes before scheduled time (20-30 minutes before student arrival). Locate your room. Bathrooms. Teacher’s Lounge. Introduce yourself to the teacher(s) next door. Read lessons plans.

6. Put your name on the board and/or where a name tag. If new to a class or group of students share a little about whom you are.

7. Write assignments on board by period in advance of the days start. If subbing in a school where students switch rooms often, post on door what is needed for your class that day/period: pencil, rough-draft, text book, and notes.

8. Alternate Assignments or Fun-time fillers can help ease time not filled by lesson plans. Try puzzles, coloring sheets, eye-openers, free-write prompts that help you get acquainted (appropriate to age). Bring a book to read aloud.

9. Don’t isolate! Visit teacher’s lounge or ask teacher next door where people gather for lunch or prep periods. Ask about major projects going on many schools use a team-teaching approach.

10. Wrap it up by leaving notes on attendance, classroom participation and how the lesson plan(s) went.  Note the helpful students and detail disciplinary problems. Thank the teacher for sharing her classroom and students and leave a number that you can be reached at in case the teacher has questions.

11. Pick-up room. If in a classroom where students change on an hourly basis pick-up after each hour. Place assignments found on floor on chalkboard ledge with an arrow pointing to it saying found during 2nd period. Straighten desk rows slide in chairs; erase board unless something needs to be left for the teacher to see. Pick up pencils and pens left behind.

12.  On departure, say goodbye to the secretary and/or principal. Tell them how you enjoyed your day and something positive about the school or students. Let them know your availability (have day planner ready).

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