Soul Sorting

Artist Residency


This morning I sat down to sort a handful of shells from a lovely day on Littor Strand in preparation for saying goodbye. I love sorting shells. I loathe saying goodbye — but that’s another tale altogether.

As I tapped the array of baby mussel, whelk, pyramid and snail shells against the table to empty them of sand and salt and past lives, I was taken aback by the amount they hoarded in their tiny interiors. Tap, tap, tap, spill. Tap, tap, tap, spill. There’s a metaphor here, and of course the metaphor girl can’t let it go.

First off, we carry around a lot of crap. Maybe it’s just me, but the mental wrestlings of my mind are a drag, weighing me down, making my YESes too slow and my let-me-think-about-thats a quick ticket to life passing me right on by. Shake me baby — it’s time to be a new girl with the hours and hunger to see, see, see, to feel, to know, to lap it all up and then spread it around like wildflowers dancing madly in sun or shower or snow, but dancing, always.

2017-05-30 20.17.40

And then there’s this. I plucked these babies from the shoreline and held each in my palm, glistening, dewey, and vibrantly individual. The mussels were an iridescent cobalt; the snails alive with a touch of green algae in tow. I can fake the look with a dab of shellac, but they will never be the same in my pocket as they were in their element.

How often am I in my element?

And so my takeaway from this sunshiney morning of sorting and tapping and emptying and knowing is this: there is much that is fabulous in life. I still want to see it all, do it all, grab it all … but in the end, I need to hold on a whole lot tighter to my element — to be sure I drag the me-ness of me along for the ride. And so do you. Never let go.

Ballyduff View




Waiting for Rain

Artist Residency

Earlier this month we visited the Beara Peninsula, touring the coast and the copper mines under brilliant skies. Stopping for lunch in a roadside cafe by the sea, we commented on the lovely day and there were nods all around and still the sure, quiet voice from the back, “Oh, but I smell the rain.”

And the rain will come of course — it’s Ireland after all, and the verdancy of land and tree and beet and stone-strewn flora depend on it. We’ve had a lovely, long spate of sun and sported a tee shirt or three without fleece on top, and we’re due. Seriously due.

I can’t complain. The waiting captivates me here in window theatre, the sky layers upon bulbous layers of gray and grey and gray again, heavy with moisture that roils and thrashes and seeps into the air and my lungs … but it isn’t yet time. Like a mother waiting, sipping tea and folding towels, for the first sign, or a farmer wishing hard for the pinprick that will let it loose, I sit and watch, hoping it won’t, hoping it will, eyeing the skies for secrets a little foreign to this city girl.

And now the skirts pull taught and a silent, subtle brightening motions toward a stay and I’m confused, oddly. What to do now?

Rain Skies Not Rain Skies

Doing the Damian Dingle

Artist Residency

If you haven’t met tour guide extraordinaire Damian Stack, well … you’ve clearly never been to Ireland, because I’m quite certain that he knows every single person in the country, and a good fifth of the people in the US. Or maybe I mean Kansas. But more to the point, if you’ve met him, you won’t forget him. He’ll make absolutely certain of that. Maybe it’s his deep love of the country and bottomless pit of knowledge (or bullshit, I can never tell which) or maybe it’s the endless font of raunchy jokes, but either way, he sticks in your head and flat out refuses to leave.

In town with my sweetheart for a few days before the artist residency at Olive Stack Gallery began, I marched him over to schedule a day trip. I’m not exactly certain what the term “day trip” implies to most, but I learned early on in Ireland to just toss the watch out the window. Twelve hours of loveliness we had, with a hefty sprinkle of “Wait, you want me to climb that?”, great gasps of natural beauty, near death on the winding and impossibly narrow lanes on the sky-high Connor Pass, a fort from 500 BC, baby lambs, red clover running full tilt down black stone to the breaking waves so far below, tea, Guinness, coffee, heavenly whitefish and baked brie on beets, private beaches and divinely romantic houses perched like sentinels on cliffs watching over the water, and absolutely no shopping whatsoever. I didn’t even pout.

I admit I’m a camera slut, and my winnowing of a good couple hundred images down to a palatable ten (okay, fifteen) can only be somewhat random, but here’s my best shot. If you’re still hungry, you know where to find me.

Or better yet, Damian. Ask Vernon for his digits — they’re BFFs now.

We’re Baaaaack!

Aman Cara

Adam Cara

We’re here! We are finally back in lovely Listowel, Ireland! We arrived late yesterday afternoon and who did we see first? Damian Stack, of course! He was the first person Jean and I met as we got off the bus last year, so it was only perfect that we found him standing outside the Arms Hotel as we parked. Olive was waiting for us in the gallery along with Johnny, my sister’s favorite Irishman! We woke this morning and couldn’t wait to get to Lynch’s Bakery for a scone. While there, we saw Mary O’Flaherty of Chic Boutique across the street, and Billy Keane of the famous John B Keane Pub. My goodness…I think I know more people in Listowel than I do Charleston! It’s SO good to be back! So fun to see what’s new and what is just the same.

Listowel is as busy as ever, and that’s a very good thing. Jean is out painting as I write. She had her sweet hubby, Tom, drop her off at Carrigafoyle Castle.


Jean’s fab painting from Carrigafoyle Castle 

Pam and her ever cheerful hubby, Vernon, are having a lovely lunch at Lizzy’s Kitchen. I’m hoping they will bring home some extra for dinner!

Our window theater is just as mesmerizing, just as fascinating. I think Vernon is enjoying it as much as we do!

We spent a few days exploring the Beara Peninsula, County Cork, before arriving in Listowel. It is a gorgeous, remote part of Ireland.  We stayed 2 days in Glengarriff, at theEccles Hotel, the first purpose built hotel in Ireland. It was built in 1745. Then we headed on to Castletownbeara for a lovely night at McCarthy’s pub and dinner at Murphy’s.

It’s SO good to be in Ireland~~~

The Beara Peninsula

Bears Peninsula, County Cork


Pam in front of MacCarthy’s


Settling in



Miss Lillie Morris and myself are settling ourselves here in Lovely Listowell. I in my theater seat and Miss Lillie in the studio toiling away.

However, surprises are coming. We have it on good authority that the easter rabbit himself will be making an appearance around town. While you may not see his fuzzy self he is sure to be leaving goodies about our fair town.

Until next-Staci and Lillie