“Portrait of my mother at twenty” – a poem

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Sunday is Mother’s Day—I’m sure I don’t need to remind you!

Mother’s Day reminds me of my own mother and the fact that it’s already 15 years ago that I gave her her last Mother’s Day card. She died about six weeks after Mother’s Day in 2006.

I still miss her, though signs of her are sprinkled throughout my life. I still wear a few clothes of hers that I rescued from her closet. Some of the art that she made adorns our walls and decorates our house at Christmas. Bells from her collection sit on my window ledge. And we have photos! On beginning to go through my photos a few weeks ago, I came across so many wonderful memories of things we did together—pictures of the birthday parties and family dinners we celebrated at our home and hers, camping trips on which she accompanied us, scenic walks we took around Abbotsford where she lived.

I also have a few photos of her when she was much younger. I love studying them and finding premonitions of the faces of my siblings, our children, nieces, and nephews. This week’s quote in my daily planner reminded me of one of them:

“I can’t quite see myself as a mother and I can’t quite see my own mother as anything else” – Courtney E. Martin.

Mom, at about 20 years of age

Portrait of my mother at twenty

Silky blush-tint skin

against green-toned sepia,

thick hair pulled loosely back,

brown pompadour above

high smooth forehead

declares “I am woman.”

Open-mouthed smile

sweet and eager.

Lace collar frames her neck.

Behind 30s-fashionable rimless glasses

eyes large, dark, frank,

clear, friendly

recall her words, “We were close pals.

She was my friend.”

They make me wonder,

If I had been her age

would she have smiled that way

and said those things about me?

– Violet Nesdoly  © 2020 (All rights reserved)

On my cleanup a few weeks ago I found a stash of sympathy cards we received on Mom’s death. Many of them tell memories of her. This Mother’s Day, I’m going to reread all those cards and appreciate her again for all she was to those of us blessed to have her in our lives.

Seasons in a Creative’s Life

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“Spring Song” – Violet Nesdoly (Watercolor on 140 lb. cold press paper, 9×6 inches).

This week I’m taking in a three-session webinar on the artist’s mindset led by artist coach and mentor Matt Tommey. Yesterday’s lecture was followed by a Q&A where Tommey answered submitted questions. The first question and his answer opened a window for me.

The question was (not the exact words but the gist) “What do I do when I feel an artistic calling in many directions?”

Matt’s answer:

  • Many creatives are polymaths, i.e. Renaissance people who are interested and excel at many things. It is not surprising that they struggle with finding a focus when their interests and skills are wide and varied.

  • The answer to that is to recognize that life has SEASONS.

He spoke of his own seasons of leading worship (music), basket making (art), church involvement, now leading his mentoring program.

Our seasons are determined by many things: our age, family and responsibilities to them, finances, health, etc. When we are aware of life’s seasons, and the changes they bring, we don’t need to stress when we find our focus shifting as a result of changing circumstances.

I can relate to that!

When our family was growing up, my creative pursuits involved decorating my home, sewing for my family, gardening, and doing the odd craft project.

Then I started a home-based medical transcription business and for a time my attention was absorbed by it—along with family and church responsibilities.

Once it was established, I got the itch to work on an old love—writing. I registered for a writing course and within about a year, had sold my first article. Many published articles, stories, devotions, puzzles and poems followed. I published a couple of poetry books and even wrote two novels.

Then in 2017 I discovered Bible Art Journaling through a request to review the wonderful book The Complete Guide to Bible Journaling. Oh shiny!

(Many of my siblings are talented artists with formal art training. I loved art but felt I couldn’t measure up, so shoved that old interest into the background. When I saw the Bible Journaling book and the projects people did, immediately I knew I wanted to try this, just for the fun and spiritual enrichment of it. I promptly ordered a journaling Bible, which I enjoy doodling in to this day.)

My next step into art was joining Instagram where my visual world exploded with the wonderful art work of others. I joined in on a few art and lettering challenges and stumbled across Samantha Dion Baker’s book Draw Your Day, about keeping a sketch journal.

On December 7, 2018, I made my first sketch journal entry, with a resolve to do a little art every day. It’s a resolve I’ve pretty much honoured since them.

What I discovered, however, as I let myself get drawn ever more into the vortex of art, was that my formerly high enthusiasm for writing was waning. All the creative oxygen in my life was being sucked up by art. I often felt sad and a little guilty about this, but didn’t feel like going back to the committed writing lifestyle either.

Yesterday’s discussion by Matt about flowing with the seasons of life, then, helped me put my experience into perspective.

I realized there were reasons why I was moving out of the writing season.

  • I have written about many many things and felt talked-out.
  • As I age (and I am a senior) words are harder to find. The old mind isn’t quite as nimble and sharp as it used to be. Art is easier on the brain.
  • The production cycle for any big writing project, like a book, is long and taxing. Even if one puts one’s heart and soul into it, it is often not monetarily viable. (It’s true what they say, that writing the book is only a fraction of the work that’s needed to get it out into the world.)

All that to say, I now understand my journey better. I feel free to embrace this new season of visual art creation as a step that was right and perhaps even inevitable.

Our Lecture One assignment was: “Create a piece of art that reflects your response to the beauty of God’s gift of imagination.” The Red-wing Blackbird study that illustrates this post is based on a reference photo i took a few weeks ago, of a blackbird singing his heart out. It symbolizes the joy of a new season.

One more thing!

We’re having a two-day sale at our Etsy shop. You will find 15% off all items in the store (art cards and wall art). Check it out: at Violet Nesdoly Art.

Pandemic Lifestyle – a poem

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When presented, by my writing group, with the challenge to write about my experience during the pandemic, my first thought was to do it in poem form (seeing as how it’s April and National Poetry Month). “Pandemic Lifestyle” is a snapshot of some of the things that have characterized the last months for me and my husband. (The last stanza makes reference to Psalm 91 that has been a mainstay for me and many others during this time.)

Pandemic Lifestyle

We keep our social distance
intentionally move out of the way
of anyone approaching us,
take to the sidewalk’s grassy margin
the street’s parking lane
to honour a fellow-walker’s
and our own
2-metre force field.
As we pass our eyes meet
momentarily
above masks,
smile humour (This feels ridiculous)
and apology (Sorry to be treating you
like a pariah
).

We live in a bubble
cloistered behind the membranes
of doors and windows
that become transparent
during Zoom meetings,
where we see each other at kitchen counters,
lounging against headboards,
seated in front of bookshelves (looking so well-read),
or posed before waving palms and surging surf,
mute testimony to where we have been
where we would love to be again
yet relieved to be here, now,
surrounded by the familiar and the safe.

We are sheltered under a wing
covered by divine feathers
as we experience sweet family life virtually
with children and grandchildren,
brothers and sisters,
in Bible studies, prayer meetings
and streamed church services.
Here we have been hidden
from the Covid-19 pestilence
that walks in darkness,
the prowling pandemic
that lays waste at noon.
We have not been numbered
in the daily 3 o’clock count
of thousands and ten thousands
that have fallen around us,
and we are incredibly grateful.

© 2021 by Violet Nesdoly

Only a month from Valentine’s Day!

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Can you believe we’re already almost halfway through January?

Have you done any dreaming or planning for the year ahead?

I finally got to setting down some intentions and goals last weekend. I know many pooh-pooh this new year tradition. Not I! Even the roughest road map helps me feel more purposeful and confident that I’m heading in a direction to which I’ve given at least a little thought.

One of my intentions this year is to be more regular with blogging. I’m going to try for one post a week, alternating posts about art and writing. We’ll start this week with art.

A month from today is Valentine’s Day! Since I’ve opened my shop, I’m very conscious about upcoming celebrations—all the more because orders need to be placed in good time to allow for shipping (and I’m not Amazon!). And so I’ve spent my art hours this week making valentines (with accompanying memories of elementary school).

A Valentine trend this year, according to Etsy, is for vintage designs. I had fun trying to figure out and duplicate that look. Here are some of the cards you’ll find at Violet Nesdoly Art. (Several of them can be personalized.) What do you think, did I capture the vintage vibe in some of them?

How have you spent these first weeks of January 2021?

Eye of the Storm – review

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Eye of the Storm by Janice L. Dick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Eye of the Storm, Book Two in Janice L. Dick’s Storm Series, takes us through the tumultuous years of 1917 to 1919 in Russia and Crimea. The Czar’s rule is in shambles. All over the countryside poor Russian peasants are agitating for land. Mennonite settlements, like the villages in the Molotschna Colony, are frequent targets as Russian neighbours, emboldened to take over land they feel is really theirs, steal, kidnap, raid, and light fires. The troubles soon spill over to Crimea and reach the Succoth Estate—the home of Heinrich Hildebrandt, his family, and Johann Suderman, the tutor Heinrich has hired for his younger children.

In the city, Paul Tekanin, the Russian friend of Johann in his youth, joins the Bolsheviks. Through him we experience the roller-coaster-ride of political developments in Russia at this time.

The characters we met in Book One continue to throb with life as they feel the increasing pressure to defend themselves (in defiance of the pacifism which is a foundational tenet of their faith) against vandalism, looting, and threats to life. At the Succoth Estate Heinrich and his family do their best to placate the populace with generosity and service. However, the anarchy in the countryside only grows worse. As their lifestyle of peace and plenty is turned upside down and lives are lost, they face the dilemma of whether they can live by another teaching of Jesus and forgive their enemies.

Dick keeps the action moving as she segues us from one scene to another through the viewpoints of various characters. These people are realistic and sympathetic. The setting is described with confidence and in vivid detail. Not only was this a captivating read, but educational as well. I am looking forward to the release of Book Three, the final one in the series, this summer.






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Introducing my art shop

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It’s hard to believe that it’s already November 26th. Just think… a month from today is Boxing Day. Christmas 2020 will be past!

And the pandemic continues. Have you stayed healthy and well—in body and spirit? How have you spent your time? Have you tackled projects that you might not otherwise have done?

Welcome to my art shop

One thing I’ve been busy with since the beginning of October is setting up my own little art shop – Violet Nesdoly Art.

Now along with the rest of the world, I’m having a SALE! Starting today and for three days only (Nov. 26, 27, 28) everything in the shop is 30% off.

Shipping is free for all orders that ship within Canada and free to the U.S. for orders totalling $35+ US

Examples of what you’ll find at Violet Nesdoly Art:

Printed Notecards. Multiples of these are available as individual cards:
Regular price $5.00
30% off is $3.50
Buy 4 of any printed design and I’ll ship you a 5th card free (your choice of design).

Original Watercolour paintings.
Only one of each available – in various sizes and price points.
For example, the pictured ones are 9×12 inches
Regular price: $125
30% off: $87.50 (paintings only, no mats or frames included).
(The blackberry painting- bottom right- is no longer available)

Free Under the Cloud download

Also on November 26 – 28 only get a free download of the Kindle edition of my latest novel Under the Cloud at your Amazon store:

Under the Cloud at Amazon.ca

Under the Cloud at Amazon.com

Under the Cloud is also available in paperback. I’ll send you a signed paperback copy for only $20 (free shipping) for books ordered between November 26 and Dec. 11, 2020.

Email me to order.

Newsletter signup

Subscribe to my email Newsletter and get the first crack at specials on art and books. New subscribers get a 10% off coupon for the Violet Nesdoly Art shop on sign-up.

Sign up HERE

More books arriving this week!

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Under the Cloud has been out just a little over two months. In that time, I’ve distributed a box of paperbacks but another shipment is on its way, scheduled to arrive later this week.

Reader response is gratifying! Here are some comments, gathered from reviews:

“Zamri’s story explores themes that are as relevant now as they were then, for example identity, coming of age, disappointment, doubt, and faith.” – Elma Schemenauer (Amazon.ca review)

“The story was so engaging I really did not want to do anything else until it was finished” – Ed Hird (Amazon.ca review)

Under the Cloud was an absolutely beautiful story.” – Deborah L. Kelly (reader email).

If you’d like a signed copy, I’d be delighted to send one to you
(Book: $20; Postage $5.34 all prices CAD). Email me.

Project completed!

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I’m excited to announce that my second novel, Under the Cloud, a continuation of the story begun in Destiny’s Hands, is now available from Amazon in paperback and ebook editions!

Here’s the cover (designed by Glynis and Amanda Belec of Angel Hope Publishing):

And the description, from the back of the book:

Fifteen-year-old Zamri lives in the shadow of her brilliant brother Bezalel. While he crafts the gold and bronze articles for Tabernacle worship, all she can look forward to is a life of women’s work—work she finds uninteresting and confusing. But no one can keep her from dreaming. She imagines becoming a leader among women like her hero Miriam. That all changes when the dashing Pallu wins her heart.

Trek through the years of exodus with Zamri as, within the strictures of Israel’s patriarchal society, she grows into mature womanhood. Discover with her how dreams need never die, indeed can come true in the most unlikely ways.

Yes, the seven and one half-year project has finally been completed! My first entry in the notebook where I kept the journal of this book is dated January 7, 2013. Interestingly, it’s almost exactly eight years since I launched Destiny’s Hands (I received the boxes of books of that title on July 4, 2012).

Receiving boxes of product will probably not be the case with Under the Cloud, as I have been unable to place an order for author copies with Amazon. They are not shipping author copies to Canada during the Covid-19 pandemic *sigh.*

However, they do send out purchased paperback copies to Canada, and of course the Kindle edition is available as an instant download.

If you decide to purchase, I hope you enjoy. Then would you be so kind as to write a review—on Amazon, or your blog, or wherever? That would be hugely appreciated!

Prepare for the End of Your World

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“Galaxy” – © 2020 by V. Nesdoly

Yesterday a newsfeed headline “How to Prepare Now for the Complete End of the World” caught my eye. I didn’t read the article right away, but it got me thinking.

Are we near the “complete end of the world”? The spreading covid19 virus, the doom and gloom of climate change purveyors, the local civil unrest over aboriginal land claims, and more, compound to give me a feeling that life, if not about to end may not return to “normal” anytime soon…maybe ever.

The danger that the covid19 virus poses to seniors (I’m in that age group) is especially concerning. And so, in my staring match with mortality, I ask myself, am I ready for the end? Are you?

I did read the above article this morning. I’m not sure I like its answers. It describes a “rewilding movement” where people get back to stone age living—making fire, hunting, wearing animal skins, eating roots and herbs, living in communes of yurts, basically like the hippies of the 1960s, only more primitive.  

“Rewilding” may be a solution if commerce grinds to a halt and technology dies. Trouble is, there’s still a personal end of the world beyond that. How do I prepare for the complete end of my personal world?

For me that means being ready to die and meet God.

Suppose you were to die today and stand before God, and He were to say to you, “Why should I let you into My heaven?”* What would you say? Would you say, I’ve done my best; I’ve done more good things than bad; I’ve been better than John down the street…?

I live with the conviction that we can give God a satisfactory answer. The Bible explains it this way.

1. Grace

– Heaven is a free gift (Ephesians 2:8,9).

– It is not earned or deserved (Romans 6:23).

2. Man

– But man (humans, males and females) are sinners (Romans 3:23)

– We don’t and can’t live up to heaven’s standard of perfection (Matthew 5:48).

– We can’t save ourselves (Proverbs 14:12).

3. God

– Is merciful (Jeremiah 31:3b).

– But He is also just and must punish sin (Exodus 34:7b).

In order to solve the dilemma of His mercy and justice…

4. Jesus

– God sent Jesus to earth 2000+ years ago to live and die as the infinite perfect God-man (John 1:1,14).

– For 33 years Jesus lived on earth. Those years are recorded in the Bible (books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

– At the age of 33 years, Jesus was crucified—died.

– His death was/is the payment to God that our sins deserve (Isaiah 53:6; 1 Peter 2:24).

–  His death in our stead shows God’s mercy while at the same time satisfying God’s need for justice. We call it GRACE: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

5. Faith

– We accept this gift of Christ’s death on our behalf through faith.

– It is more than intellectual faith, but a believing faith where I entrust our lives to Him now and for eternity (Acts 16:31).

– If we have believed in Him in this way, we know that He will accept us into heaven because He has said so (John 3:16; 6:37,47; John 14:1-3).

And so, when we come to the end of our personal world, and stand before God and He asks us, “Why should I let you into My heaven?” I can say, you can say, because Jesus paid the penalty for my sin.

Need to explore more? Get yourself a Bible or access one online. Read it. Start with the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

* This explanation of the Gospel is adapted from Evangelism Explosion materials.

February Roundup

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Even with its extra day, February is nearly history. It’s hard to believe we’re almost into the third month of 2020! My resolve to be better at updating the blog hasn’t resulted in much so far, but I’ve decided to, at least, write a monthly update post. Here is February’s…a list of things I did or tried to do

Art

I continued with my daily art practice through February. This month I had two sets of prompts to inspire the subjects of my paintings (Opus Daily Practice and Doodlewash). I also worked on proper water colour paper (instead of my sketch journal). That was a good learning experience. I found through that, that I really like working on hot press paper (as opposed to cold press). Here are some of my favourite February paintings.

In January a children’s pastor at my church (Laurel Archer) asked me to do the illustrations for a booklet to be used during missions month. Laurel wrote the text, I did the paintings (except for the boy and girl; they are hand puppets already in use), then our church’s media department assembled and printed the book. This was a gratifying project!

Writing

Though I haven’t spent as much time doing writing lately, it still occupies some of my time and offers rewards for past work.

Pockets (a children’s magazine put out by the Upper Room Group) reprinted an article I wrote for them some years ago on Jean Vanier. It found its way into the final issue (January / February 2020) of that lovely little magazine. I was sad to hear that it will no longer be published.

I gave a short presentation on writing book reviews at the last meeting of our writing group (South Surrey Writers Group) Thursday, February 27th.

I am continuing to edit my WIP manuscript (working title: Under the Cloud, a sequel to the biblical fiction, Destiny’s Hands that I published in 2012). I am getting dangerously close to being ready to send that baby off to a real editor. Under the Cloud should see the light of publication sometime this year. I’m not making any predictions as to when.

Personal

I’m finding that as I age, keeping the weight off is a never-ending challenge. Even though my husband and I walk for about an hour a day, and eat a pretty healthy diet, the numbers on the scale were creeping up.

There must be an app for that…

There is! I downloaded MyNetDiary and have been keeping track of daily intake, weight, and exercise much more consistently and the weight is slowly coming off.

Well, that was my February…a busy, healthy month. Here’s hoping and praying March is the same. Facing the threat of the Covid 19 virus, I have taken to praying and claiming as a promise of protection Psalm 91:9,10

“Because you have made the LORD,
who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling.”

I pray for protection for our land, and the survival of all who fall ill with this virus.