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Tree of Life Mosaic by Nutmeg Designs

Green Tree of Grace and Widest River of Despair: Muriel Rukeyser on War

Tree of Life Mosaic by Nutmeg Designs
Tree of Life Mosaic by Nutmeg Designs based on a drawing by our client, glass, millefiori, gold smalti on slate, 10×14 inches.



Elegy in Joy [excerpt]
by Muriel Rukeyser

We tell beginnings: for the flesh and the answer,
or the look, the lake in the eye that knows,
for the despair that flows down in widest rivers,
cloud of home; and also the green tree of grace,
all in the leaf, in the love that gives us ourselves.

The word of nourishment passes through the women,
soldiers and orchards rooted in constellations,
white towers, eyes of children: 
saying in time of war What shall we feed?
I cannot say the end.

Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings.
Not all things are blest, but the
seeds of all things are blest.
The blessing is in the seed.

This moment, this seed, this wave of the sea, this look, this instant of love.
Years over wars and an imagining of peace.  Or the expiation journey
toward peace which is many wishes flaming together,
fierce pure life, the many-living home.
Love that gives us ourselves, in the world known to all
new techniques for the healing of the wound,
and the unknown world.  One life, or the faring stars.

See more at poets.org

Originally published by New Directions Press in 1949.


Remembrance Day in Canada in the 1970’s

R is For Muriel Rukeyser: To Reach Beyond Ourselves

W is for Wernersville, PA and the Jesuit Center, A to Z Challenge 2013

Hildreth Meiere Mosaic of Crucifixion in the Chapel at Wernersville Jesuit Spiritual Center.
Hildreth Meiere Mosaic of Crucifixion in the Chapel at Wernersville Jesuit Spiritual Center. Photo by Wayne Stratz.


W is for Wernersville, PA and the Jesuit Center.  When I was introduced to the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises at the University of Scranton, little did I know that Stratoz be the one most touched by them.  My spiritual director, when I told her I was moving to Lansdale, had said “Wernersville.  That is where you need to go.”  I did, and was entranced by the art that is an integral part of the Jesuit Center, especially the mosaics by Hildreth Meiere in the chapel.

Stained Glass Window at Wernersville, from the floor of the hallway. Photo by Wayne Stratz.
Stained Glass Window at Wernersville, from the floor of the hallway. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

Stratoz was intrigued by the Jesuit Center’s silent retreats, and although he hadn’t done the Spiritual Exercises in Scranton, he went on a silent retreat and was refreshed, and has kept going over the years.  He has designed much artwork there.

Standing within a Tree at Wernersville. Photo by Wayne Stratz.
Standing within a Tree at Wernersville. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

He is well acquainted with the trees.

Jesuit Spiritual Center in Wernersville, PA. Photo by Wayne Stratz.
Jesuit Spiritual Center in Wernersville, PA. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

I discovered that my studio is my place of reflection, so I haven’t been to Wernersville in awhile, but I see the effect it has on Stratoz, and I remember how Hildreth Meiere’s mosaic sparked my love of mosaic, and it is close to my heart.

Wernersville Sunset
Wernersville Sunset. Photo by Wayne Stratz.

The Spiritual Exercises are prayer and meditation with these characteristics according to IgnatianSpirituality.com:

These include a sense of collaboration with God’s action in the world, spiritual discernment in decision making, generosity of response to God’s invitation, fraternity and companionship in service, and a disposition to find God in all things. Spiritual integration is a prominent theme of the Exercises: integration of contemplation and action, prayer and service, and emotions and reason.


Stratoz on Wernersville

My previous A to Z posts.

More images on my A to Z Challenge 2013 Pinterest Board.

A to Z Blogging Challenge April 2013


I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me: Painting by Anne-Lise Hammann Jeannot for the World Day of Prayer 2013

World Day of Prayer 2013.
World Day of Prayer 2013. Painting by Anne-Lise Hammann Jeannot.

Friday, March 1st, 2013, is the World Day of Prayer, with this year’s service created by Christian women in France.  Stratoz brought this poster home from his church, Holy Trinity Episcopal Lansdale, and the orange caught my eye.  The art is by Anne-Lise Hammann Jeannot, a painter from France.  She eloquently describes her vision of the 2013 theme “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,”

Since my work borders on abstraction, I have attempted in this painting, to translate the idea of a stranger by a silhouette painted only with grays, deliberately separate from the other colors because of the fact that, in essence, it is different. Playing with lines and lighter colors – nearing on white, I have attempted to represent light, to include the character in this light that comes from above, from the sky, travelling through space to encompass the stranger. Equally the light shines forth from the group, symbolized by shapes or stones in the lower part of the painting. A circle is created and it welcomes the character. I wanted the entire scene to be bathed in a warm and colorful atmosphere, and so I used colors to demonstrate the festive nature, the impact of the encounter, the openness to others.

Anne Lise Hammann


Every year the program is created by women in a different country, and women’s groups bring some of that country into their services around the world.  The Chef, my friend at Good Food Happy Man, contributed some recipes, and we will be making some “strong cheese” and procuring baguettes at Alice Bakery for part of the refreshments.  The prayer focus this year is immigrant women, and how to embody the welcoming spirit.

More orange at my Orange Tuesdays Pinterest Board.

Margaret Nelson(1901-1981): Botanical Block Prints

Solomon Seal, Margaret Nelson.
Solomon Seal, Margaret Nelson.

Margaret Nelson(1901-1981), was a member of the Folly Cove Designers(1938-1969), made mostly of women, who were residents of Cape Ann, MA.  Although many of the members were not formally trained as artists, Margaret Nelson attended the Boston Museum School for sculpture.  I have Solomon Seal in my garden, and Nelson’s print has a verdant crispness, with the veined leaves.

Pineapple by Margaret Nelson
Pineapple by Margaret Nelson

Stratoz and I collect papercut art, and Margaret Nelson’s Pineapple print echoes the precise cuts of the papercutter, and the pineapples converge in a glorious mandala.

More images at my Margarets Pinterest Board.

At the Sign of the Rainbow: Margaret Calkin James.

Margaret Calkin James(1895-1985): Illustrator, Printmaker, and Founder of Rainbow Workshops

Searching for a Margaret for Margaret Monday, Stratoz suggested that I look for something related to Christmas, and Margaret Calkin James(1895-1985)appeared.  She was part of the everyday visual landscape because of her work for London Transport and the Underground.

 Merry Christmas by Margaret Calkin James, 1931
A Merry Christmas by Margaret Calkin James, 1931

The 1931 A Merry Christmas has a wonderful blue and orange color scheme, with paper lanterns and whimsical bunnies in some of the stockings, plus the “If you haven’t got a farthing, God Bless You” banner.  I wasn’t familiar with this line, and discovered it’s part of a Christmas Rhyme:

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat
Please to put a penny in the old man’s hat;
If you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do,
If you haven’t got a ha’penny then God bless you!

Margaret Calkin went to art school, winning an award for her calligraphy, and in 1920, started the Rainbow Workshops in Bloomsbury, in the tradition of the Omega Workshops, where she made posters, prints, book papers, and fabric.  The rainbow for the Workshops sign is mosaic-like in it’s rectangled arrangement.  I love the muted tones and the Noah’s Ark floating on zigzagged waves.

At the Sign of the Rainbow: Margaret Calkin James.
At the Sign of the Rainbow: Margaret Calkin James.

She married in 1922, and worked out of a studio in her home, including this festive “greetings telegram form” for the Post Office in 1935.   She designed for publishers and textiles, and the penguins linoprint has some very cool repeating interconnections.

Penguins Linoprint by Margaret Calkins James, 1963.
Penguins Linoprint by Margaret Calkins James, 1963.

In 1969, Margaret Calkin James suffered a stroke, which paralyzed her right arm and impeded her speech, and in a desire to keep creating, started making wool embroidery patterns. Margaret’s daughter Elizabeth Argent spent many years arranging exhibitions of her mother’s work to ensure a legacy.

Another cool printmaker: Bertha Lum: Imprinting a Life

John Cage Chess Pieces

Margaret Leng Tan(1945-): Avant-garde Pianist and her Reconstruction of John Cage

John Cage Chess Pieces
John Cage Chess Pieces


Dancing around the Bride: Cage, Cunningham, Johns, Rauschenberg, and Duchamp at the Philadelphia Museum of Art through January 21, 2013.

Stratoz and I took a trip to the Philadelphia Art Museum, and saw the Dancing around the Bride exhibit, about 4 artists who enjoyed working with each other, inspiring each other and playing with their art forms of music, dance and visual art.  I was intrigued by the room of art inspired by chess, and the John Cage work made of bits of music notation in a light-dark chess pattern.  Reading the tag, I discovered that for many years the general assumption was that the music was not “playable” but purely visual, but pianist Margaret Leng Tan transcribed it into a score.  She deciphered the original scraps of paper, like making an aural collage, or cryptography of assumptions.

Margaret Leng Tan is originally from Singapore and came to the Juilliard School in her teens and was the first woman to earn a doctorate there in 1971.  She collaborated with John Cage for many years, as well as becoming rapt with toy pianos, and transforms them into full musical expression.  I remember the toy piano I had as a child, in a vivid blue, and how it was within my grasp, the right size for my reach.  Here is a video of her playing Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles on a toy piano:

Margaret Leng Tan’s Website

Margaret Wright(1944-): Adventures in Optimization

Nelder-Mead optimization given 9 points (6 gray-scale and r,g,b)
Nelder-Mead optimization given 9 points (6 gray-scale and r,g,b) via Josh Siegel on Flickr.

In honor of the birthday of Ada Lovelace(1815-1852), founder of scientific computing, I am writing about Margaret Wright.  She works with optimization which is both math and computing related, and helps solve practical problems, like when she was at Bell Labs, and had the task of how to set up an indoor wireless system at Home Depot.  The stores are complicated in design, and optimization was a way to make a “good enough” system, that while not perfect, worked.  I love her enthusiasm:  “I don’t know if I can convey it without leaping up and down,” Wright exclaimed, “but there is such joy for mathematicians in helping to solve real world problems.”  (Margaret Wright and Real World Mathematics)

In layman’s terms, the mathematical science of Convex Optimization is the study of how to make a good choice when confronted with conflicting requirements.  The qualifier convex means: when an optimal solution is found, then it is guaranteed to be a best solution; there is no better choice.(Convex Optimization)

I like this idea that processes with uncertainty and many complications can be improved, even if they can’t be perfect, and I am fascinated that there are mathematical ways to figure out these improvements.  (I suspect with the “Convex Optimization Cheat Sheet” below only works as a cheat sheet if you have some mathematical skill. . .)

Convex Optimization Cheat Sheet
Convex Optimization Cheat Sheet via John Chilton on Flickr.

How to Grow in a Math Job
Useful observations about growing in a job, and dealing with stereotypes in math and computing science, and would apply to other fields.

I can Wear a Math Hat and  Computer Science Hat: An Interview with Margaret Wright 
Wright mentions working with Nelder-Mead method, and I did a search in Flickr and found the cool photo above, with colors.  Apparently, optimization can help with calibrating colors on different screens.

How Hard Can it Be?  Lecture by Margaret Wright.
I understood much of the English parts of this, and nothing of the formulas, but it was an interesting discussion of cryptography among other practical problems.