Magical Places – Take One. The Center Pompidou

First, you all need to meet my traveling companion. Her name is Elsa, and she will be joining us for the next few postings.

Meet Elsa!

Elsa, a world traveler.

I wrote early in the summer that this season is often a time of journeys. Nobody offered where they were going this summer, or of any other journeys that you all may be on. (I was a little disappointed by that.) Regardless, I got to take an amazing and wonderful journey. I got to go to PARIS FRANCE!  Ooh la la doesn’t even come close to saying how extraordinary it was. I spent my time with an amazing woman I am very proud to call my friend.

Elsa, my traveling sidekick for The Botanicals, will be joining me in showing you bits and bytes of the trip. This series will all be under the umbrella title of ‘Magical Places.’

Elsa took out her magical wand, danced around the floor with it, and POOF, we ended up at The Center Pompidou. Lucky us! First, the building itself is loads of fun. The design came from an international competition, which for some reason absolutely delights me. Of course  it is reminiscent of the world fair and Eiffel Tower competition so many years before.

We met and followed a fun family though a bit of the museum. Their daughter was often in her stroller, rolled in front of a piece of art, given a piece of paper and a drawing tool. She picked one out one element and drew it. Everyone was enjoying. It was absolutely fascinating to see what she choose and how she represented it. What a joy to see parents exposing, challenging, and engaging a child in art this way. We last saw her in this large room where one could take a piece of chalk and add your own part/art to the greater collection of the wall. Elsa joined in on that one!

Chalk wall
Interactive wall art

Below is a small assortment of images from our visit to The Centre Pompidou. Click the arrows to click through  if yours are not cycling through automatically.

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Karma. A force to be reckoned with?

Karma :
The force created by a person’s actions that some people believe causes good or bad things to happen to that person. – http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/karma

The topic keeps popping up and so its time to be attentive (again).

Recently, I was having a great conversation with a friend about the concept of how the world/people/organizations can be callous and how we let them (enable them?) to siphon our spirit out.  This friend is involved with an ugly business situation that is crushing him. We started chatting about the reflections of ourselves in others. Within friendships, personal and business encounters we act (and react) to these reflections. It is said that emotions don’t belong in business, and although I think business too needs people with hearts, I do understand that raw emotions cannot rule business. However, these ‘reflections’ I am speaking of are far less conscious than unprocessed emotions and are much more subtle. Perspectives verses realities-perhaps. The boundaries of what is acceptable can be fuzzy and clearly differ from the mind and heart of each sender and receiver. Do we stop and think about those reflections? Seldom. However, they no doubt play a large role in our daily stumbles. I am sure these reflections are part of whom we enjoy and disdain, and probably part of why we just don’t like some people we meet. We all know-What we send is usually a reflection what we receive back. I do think reflections can be related to Karma.

The above conversation eventually lead to Karma and who sleeps the best at night? Obviously, most of us think the people who “care more” about the world, humanity, and each other, sleep better. Clearly they are destined to have better Karma.  I acknowledge that the world probably needs a little of the bad, it’s a balance and contrast thing. When folks are down right mean, or “bad” what’s that all about?  What reflections do they see and feel-if any? Do nasty people even stop to think, much less think about what they are “putting out” in the world?  What is their Karma?  If we change our reflections do we change our Karma? What do you think?

Later that day I was poking around on the web and an image popped up that said, “There are two kinds of people in the world: givers and takers. The takers may eat better, but the givers sleep better.”  It turns out the quote is from a motivational speaker/corporation called Ziglar. I thought it was an interesting full circle spin back to my afternoon conversation, one that started with yoga, twirled to reflections and ended with Karma.

It happens continually…
Coincidence-sure you can call it that….
But….
I think Karma also plays into the big picture.
Whether its food, attitude, or actions…
Garbage in=Garbage out.

Ollie - Minister of Truth

Summer travels, journeys, discoveries and destinations……

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. – Marcel Proust

It’s official – it’s summertime. The temps are swinging, and so are the flip flops. Many indications are all pointing to it…

Memorial Day is behind us
July 4th is around the corner
Baseball season is full swing
Flowers are blooming
Landscapes are lush and green
Schools are wrapping up for another year
Vacations are happening
Gardens are being planted
Gardens are being enjoyed
Farmers Markets are popping up
There is color everywhere
Biking, Hiking, Sailing, and all kinds of games abound
…Yep, it’s summertime!

off we go!

Do you have discovery plans? Do they included long distance travel? Maybe local adventures? Dreams-count too!

I think  Proust had it right. The joy, the reason, the adventure, the growth of travel, and in every day, is in how we see it.

What do you want your eyes to be seeing these days?
What are your hopes for your eyes this season?

Jot down your secret dreams for the summer, check back in September and see how you did.

 

Does clutter become The Fabric of My Life?

Clutter, “Stuff”-The fabric of my life? I hope NOT!  I refuse to believe that my stuff makes up WHO I am. It is true that, partly, it makes up what my home looks like, how crowded my mind, and possibly my life, may be at any given moment. All this “stuff” didn’t just appear one day in my house, my mind, or my life, it’s an insidious, slow moving, existential like growth. Maybe it is like fabric? I suppose it did start as a small swatch and has evolved into yards and yards over the years. If I continue with this analogy… fabrics can get messy and be washed, they can get cut up and reused or re-purposed, they can be loved as well as tossed out or given away. Sometimes they fade, and sometimes we have to give them up for they are no longer possible in the space. My “fabric” (like yours probably) has pretty much been through most/all of those scenarios.

This topic has come up for I am reorganizing my office/studio. It is the result of winter damage, which meant a wall and ceiling needed to be repaired, which meant EVERYTHING had to come out of a VERY crowded, over stuffed, “creative chaos” room. Not a bad thing in the long run, however in the short run it has been exhausting. Taxing my left side brain into hyper organization and lots of practice in the art of “letting go”-into the recycle, trash, or donate pile. This brings up another favorite topic, the one of Intention. I am practicing that skill as well. I read an article that stated- “Most traditional approaches do not consider the energetic impact of clearing, no matter how miniscule the task or effort. The fact is, clearing anything consciously and gently … creates an energetic opening—a spaciousness—that works on us slowly and surely to soften our grip of attachments.” (article)  I have been very intently/consciously clearing things out for approximately three years now. It started with the closets full of clothes, and slowly I have been working on the “stuff.”  The office/studio has accelerated the cause along. In theory (and mind) I don’t want the all this stuff, I want my space (in all ways) to be clearer. Much easily said than done for me. However, it is better than before and I am slowly learning the process and power of Intention in so many aspects of life. Intention of letting go. Intention of holding on when appropriate. Intention of a never ending process of moving on to whatever is next with an open mind and heart. Intention of clearing (in mind as well as physical space.)  An intention of realizing it is not about throwing away something but is often about letting go of a far bigger commodity than the goods in my hand. I am far from done. I will probably always be working on this “intention and clearing process.” It will probably never be easy, or fun. I do know it does feel good to let some of these things go. There is some truth to the saying of- Clear the clutter, Clear the mind. 

For all those that are spring cleaning, or life clearing- May the journey be partly to embrace the change, and enjoy the clean air in that new cleared space. (At least, that’s what I am trying to do.)

It always comes back to KINDNESS. This time it’s kindness to yourself, give yourself a break, a pat on the back, and awareness that the journey is what often matters and that simple is often an easier way to go. As Robert Browning so famously said, and the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe beautifully adapted-Less is More.

Birdelini takes on the motto of Less is More in her Simple Spring Hat 2015 collection.
Birdelini takes on the motto of Less is More in her Simple Spring Hat 2015 collection.

Changes: “Life is a series of surprises.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

First I was going to write about a topic that has been fascinating me since I heard a TED Talk  called How to spot a liar” by Pamela Meyer. It’s about trust, deception, and our society’s propensity for lies. It’s compelling, and I recommend using 18 mins of your life to listen to it. However, I moved on to topic #2. That was to be Clutter – Clear the clutter, clear the mind. Goes with new beginnings and one of my favorite topics-Letting go! Although those words and thoughts take up a LARGE portion of my mind these days, it was too much, too complex, and more than I wanted to share in words. Therefore, it was shelved for “later.”  Topic #3 was intriguing when I wandered over to  the word of Friendship. However, as I sat down to write I changed my mind again and indeed the topic I have settled on is CHANGE. Particularly , change with Botanical Beauties and Beasties.

The Quote below is from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Essays and Lectures. “From a layered and immeasurably insightful 1841 essay titled “Circles,” exploring the pillars of personal growth and how we can learn to stop resisting the very things that help us transcend our self-imposed limitations.” I found it on a site I read regularly called Brain Pickings. Click for the full story.

Every ultimate fact is only the first of a new series… The new statement is always hated by the old, and, to those dwelling in the old, comes like an abyss of skepticism.

[…]

In nature every moment is new; the past is always swallowed and forgotten… Nothing is secure but life, transition, the energizing spirit. No love can be bound by oath or covenant to secure it against a higher love. No truth so sublime but it may be trivial to-morrow in the light of new thoughts. People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.

Life is a series of surprises.”

Surprise # 1:  I might have mentioned to you I am changing the tag line of the business. I am thinking about simplifying things across the board. In life, and so in my business as well. That means change. The tag line has been “Live Kind. Live Green. Live Creatively .” When I do shows those words will continue to serve my story verbally and I still believe in them wholeheartedly. However, I have been thinking for a couple of years now, If the world were to be a bit more “evolved” then Live Kind, Live Green would be one and the same. If we are to truly live within Kindness, that translates  into kindness for self, others, and the world around us, including the planet we all share. So, in the hopes of evolution of us all, and in the process of simplification…. the new line is …. are you ready?…. drum beat please…. Kindess. it's always the bottom line.

As for the third part,  i.e. Live Creatively …Well that most surely continues. Creativity comes in many forms and sizes mostly as words, images, motions and thoughts. We (society) need much help if creativity disappears. For me it is important that I utilize my creativity often, when I don’t my mind gets (even more?) muddled. My thoughts are far enough off the beaten road at times without adding any extra curves! But, I’m also glad about that-without those thoughts, ideas, and imagination the Botanical Beauties would never have been created, launched or shared in any manner. I hope we all agree that would be a shame.

The next step is to figure out to keep moving forward and what’s up next. New paths are ahead, changes are ahead, but I am not clear yet on what, when, where, or how. I continue to work on learning the how, and simultaneously, trying to do (!) the writing and illustrating of  my children’s book. The book has totally changed recently. I will share the New Book when I get a better grip on it.

If anyone has any solid ideas about good marketing, or paths to follow for the Botanical Beauties and Beasties, by all means, please speak up! New crossroads, new thoughts, new directions are indeed what I am looking for!

Surprise #2 – Well, time will tell.

 

Zoie and Kindness

What’s behind those Foster Grants?

A lot has happened in the past month or so. A constant thought has been an awareness that I/we often don’t really know what’s going on with whomever is front of me/us. What’s the back story? Is their a cause and effect? Am I missing something? Do they have a “truth” that if I knew would cause me to understand or perceive something, or them, differently? Creating a different interaction? Changing the outcome of an event? This happens everyday, small events and spreads to gigantic events that can effect many.

As I often do, I was listening to NPR en route to work. This week had two particular interesting pieces to me with my Things are not what they always appear to be mindset. The first-

Ollie and The Thunder Lizzard
Who’s behind those Foster Grants?

 

“Is It Time To Resurrect The Brontosaurus?”

The Brontosaurus may be back.

Not that it ever really went away, at least not in the minds of generations of people who grew up watching Fred Flintstone devour one of his beloved Brontosaurus burgers.

But, if you’re a scientist, you have to stick to the rules, and in 1903, the name Brontosaurus was struck from the record. That was when paleontologist Elmer Riggs deemed that the Brontosaurus was really just a different dinosaur, Apatosaurus…..As NPR reported in 2012, the tussle over naming the dinosaur goes back to the so-called Bone Wars of the late 1800s, when rival fossil hunters raced to name new Thdinosaurs. Othniel Charles Marsh led a team that found the skeletons of two creatures….

The first was found in 1877 and named Apatosaurus. But, as the story says, “it was missing a skull, so in 1883 when Marsh published a reconstruction of his Apatosaurus, Lamanna says he used the head of another dinosaur — thought to be a Camarasaurus — to complete the skeleton.”…The second dinosaur, found in 1879, was named Brontosaurus, or “thunder lizard.”… As Smithsonian notes, “The fate of Brontosaurus now relies upon whether other paleontologists will be able to replicate the results, as well as what those researchers think about the threshold for when dinosaurs merit different names.”

It’s taken more than 100 years, but the Brontosaurus may be on the road to redemption….” To read the whole article, click here. 

The part that actually thrilled me was the sub name for Brontosaurus, of “thunder lizard!”  A giant, long-necked, heavy bodied, swamp-dwelling, 15-30 ton, well loved by many small children, and movie goers, creature possibly never even existed and is a lizard?!!!! Who knew lizards could be have such a breath of size possibilities? It was news to me. No wonder the word THUNDER is in its name! The need to make lots of noise and be heard seems clear for the cause. Where is the truth? What’s the real story? What’s the back story?  In the name,  it seems that someone had either a great imagination, or sense of humor, with the words THUNDER LIZARD? The pairing of those two words seems incongruous and yet somehow wonderful! This delights me. Who’s behind those Foster Grants-a giant thundering big stomping dinosaur? A scampering tiny camouflaged quick creature? A minister of truth? A 1879 Brontosaurus? A few bones here or there, a skull-for sure they all make a difference, I get it but….There always seems to be a back story-even in science!  There are at least 1/2 dozen articles this week on this issue-it’s big news in the Dino world. Who would think in spring 2015 the Brontosaurus would be prime time news?  In the words of Abbott and Costello, Who’s on First?  Does it matter? Who’s behind those dark glasses? It all mysteriously ties together for me. Does it for you?

As for the second piece of NPR that drew me-well, you will have to wait until next time. This is plenty to think about for now… Stay tuned and enjoy the very welcome warmth and sunshine of springtime. Today, up here in NE, we are finally getting to see, and feel, a bit of spring. Flowers should start popping out soon-thank goodness for small miracles of nature!

  Calthia is created from the first crocus of springtime. Her job is Clean Air. Seems suitable as she helps blow away the dregs of winter!!
Calthia is created from the first crocus of springtime. Her job is Clean Air. Seems suitable as she helps blow away the dregs of winter!!

World Water Day 2015

Today is a holiday to celebrate water! Yesterday, I got to see the Atlantic Ocean and water everywhere-it was wonderful. Water has a way of southing and nourishing my soul, my spirits and my heart all at once. We are lucky here and water abounds. I drink many glasses a day of water. Water flows out of the spigot easily for so many uses almost as if by magic. It’s without much thought to the availability, and ease, of that fabulous water that my daily routine flows each day.

However, World Water Day is a serious issue. I like the way Time Magazine featured it-so I will give you the first bit here, and then send you all over to the article for the rest. 

A holiday for H2O

Sunday is World Water Day, a United Nations initiative to celebrate clean water and bring attention to those who don’t have enough of it. A new report released ahead of World Water Day warns about a looming shortage, and centers on this year’s theme: water and sustainable development.

Here are five ways to celebrate World Water Day….

http://time.com/3753021/world-water-day/

(I’ll give you a hint as the five: food, females, and of course- poop- but it’s not what you think. By the way, on the last one, check out the astronauts, they and Bill Gates have this “recycle” process in common!) 

Another great site and easy to absorb (ha ha) info is from UNWater. It’s a great presentation of water and the worlds needs. http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday

I close this post with MOE- Botanical Beauties Minister of Clean Water.

He has water-breathing gills and can travel in the seas for as long as needed. He and his family can adapt to sea or land as needed. This makes Moe’s job as Minister of Clean Water a natural for him. As he swims, he performs water tests, makes notations of underwater spots of beauty and reports on problem areas. Unfortunately, these areas are more common than he would like to see. He strives to help in any way he can, for he is aware that it all starts with ONE person, or in this case one Botanical Fish. 

Moe, Our Minster of Clean Water
Moe in his element WATER.

Feathers, Fuddles and Hope. What!?

FuddlesRainbowPg2Rsm
Fuddles the Feather of Wonder (and hope.)

Feathers: They are soft, they drift and can wander wherever, in my world they are a wonderment, they represent Part to Whole with their collective pieces  helping a bird to fly, often times very pretty, possibly colorful, full of potential-representing dreams and hopes, and they are floaty-a fun word and a fine flexible attribute!

I have been thinking about connectivity, the occurrences that happen and the randomness (or not) of it all. The never-ending question of…Are their Coincidences? Do all things happen for a reason, however unclear it may be at the time?

Fuddles, a character in my children’s picture book, is a protagonist with the cause being the Wonder of Planet Earth. Fuddles image became a feather from the seed of an idea that “something” could impart “goodness.”  The form that the something was to take began with conversations and bouncing around ideas. I needed a physical form but I couldn’t get my finger on. Once Fuddles was a feather it all became clear. Fuddles was not only an ecological presence but also one of hope and vision. Months later I came to realize the strong connection to the hope concepts of Fuddles. Hope became a topic of much thought and conversation with many who crossed my path. In this (not so random) universe the topic of hope seems to be everywhere these days. (Or is that just my awareness and focus?)  From the somewhat benign, such as the weather forecast which can’t get enough of the omnipresence Hope for (the upcoming and not soon enough for me) Spring, to the paramount news reminding us this is the anniversary of the famous Edmund Pettus Bridge walk in Selma Ala. where Hope was, and still is, a clear message. I randomly was watching a movie called Finding Normal that stated, “…and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But, the greatest of these is love.” (apparently that is a biblical passage from Corinthians 13:13.) So there is was again, this time in entertainment. We all know the idiom of-Hope springs eternal. Indeed, Hope is sometimes the string that keeps us moving foreword in large and small endeavors.

I looked up the symbolic meanings of feathers and found this. “Symbol meaning of feathers deal with ascension and spiritual evolution to a higher plane…Native American Chiefs wore feathers to symbolize their communication with Spirit, and to express their celestial wisdom…Another symbol meaning of feathers also revolves around prayer, and the Pueblo use feather sticks as they dance in prayer for rain during solstice rituals..As a Celtic symbol meaning (connected the Druids to) sky gods and (to) gain knowledge of the celestial realm…The Egyptians believed that feathers were symbolic of sky gods too. Ma’at, the Egyptian goddess of justice, would weigh the hearts of the newly dead in the underworld against the weight of a feather to determine the worthiness of his or her soul…In Christianity feathers represented virtues. In fact, an image of three feathers were made into signet rings – each feather symbolizing Charity, hope, and faith…In dreams feathers meanings point to travel or the ability to move more freely in life. White feathers in dreams indicate innocence or a fresh start in a spiritual sense.”  -(read more –website)  All the above are essentially about Hope. Hope has a forward momentum, it’s about the future and thinking thoughts/dreams/desires/needs as to what’s next, regardless of how immediate or far off in the “next” may be.

My question to you is as follows. It’s for further books and for my curiosity. What emotions, and words do feathers evoke for you?
Please Let me know in a comment below.

The Original feather
The Original feather of inspiration.

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Water, drops, drips, frozen=ICE

icicles
Wellie breaks out his super fantatical Icicle cutters.

ICE – Ice – ice…..no matter how you type it’s still frozen water, slick, cold, and reflective. Clear with a blue tint, blurry at the edges or sharp as a knife.

Ice is such odd contradiction of concepts to me…

  • Beautiful but can be deadly…..
  • Can look soft and yet is incredibly hard.
  • One end of the spectrum is a tiny ice crystal-the other may be a glacier.
  • Water is fluid-Ice is stoic and solid.
  • Ice makes: pellets, hail, dams, snowflakes, crystals, needles, sculptures, ice cubes, a coolant, ice houses/blocks, a famous movie* and musician**-since it can make all those things it ought to be flexible…. and yet it is not.
  • Did you know there is something called Rime ice? Rime ice is a type of ice formed on cold objects when drops of water crystallize on them.
  • Here’s a really odd one! Did you know that according to wikipedia “Ice can be used to start a fire by carving it into a lens which will focus sunlight onto kindling. A fire will eventually start.[38]”  Makes sense but really, I don’t think I would have ever thought of that.

Ice- all part of  Winter Wonders. I am hard pressed to call it a Winter Wonderland at this point. It has created havoc for so many and worn me down. Mother Nature-you win with 100 points…me-I’m down to about five points.

So I am holding out for the hope of spring, warmer days, no more ice and bitting cold temps. A while ago a dear friend shared a poem that I know is near to his heart. I am sharing it with you all now…. On so many levels, it’s so fitting right now.  Here’s to hope for a weather change, a season change, and because hope in life and what the future may present is often the ray of sunshine and warmth we need to hold on to.

It is called
Hope” is the thing with feathers. By Emily Dickinson.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers – 
That perches in the soul – 
And sings the tune without the words – 
And never stops – at all – 

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm – 

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

(thanks Gary-a special nod and hug)

* I thinking of the movie Frozen
** Vanilla Ice and his 1990 single “Ice Ice Baby

Snowflakes. Unique as we are.

For the final truth about snowflakes is that they become more individual as they fall—that, buffeted by wind and time, they are translated, as if by magic, into ever more strange and complex patterns, until, at last, like us, they touch earth. Then, like us, they melt.” –http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/01/03/all-alike

Izzy out in the snow- the 3 large snowflkes are Bentleys Snowflakes images.
Izzy out in the snow- the 3 large snowflkes are Bentleys Snowflakes images.

I am wondering how to do what seems like the impossible, i.e. put a good spin on all this white snow. All these tiny little crystals are getting the best of me. I will admit that the other night the snow did indeed actually glisten-it was as if there were little tiny shimmers popping on and off. It was quite spectacular, and I enjoyed the surreal movie scene quality to it. I know, some people love the snow, to them I say “Lucky You.” Maybe if it didn’t “interfere” making so many things, in my everyday routine, so much more difficult I would agree. I will give it a “pretty factor” of +8  (out of 10 – It can’t be 10 for the GIANT piles from the plows all over the place are NOT pretty.)

OK…here’s the positive spin I could come up with for all this past, present and future snow.

#1) “Snowflakes start off all alike; their different shapes are owed to their different lives.” –http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/01/03/all-alike
My own translation into “human” terms/lives…. We are all the same inside. Our outer looks, our shapes are transposed by our environments, unique DNA and lives. As a snowflake floats through the sky it’s altered by environmental factors-as we drift through our lives we are altered by many things as well, and so we too make adjustments as needed.

#2) “A snowflake is either a single ice crystal or an aggregation of ice crystals…Initial attempts to find identical snowflakes by photographing thousands of them with a microscope from 1885 onward by Wilson Alwyn Bentley found the wide variety of snowflakes we know about today.”  – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowflake
My own translation into “human” terms/lives…We are indeed individuals but a community gives us strength. Just like snowflakes arrive in masses, no man/woman is really an island. 

#3) “A non-aggregated snowflake often exhibits six-fold radial symmetry…” (That makes many snowflakes a hexagram shape.) Within Indic lore, the (hexagram) shape is generally understood to consist of two triangles—one pointed up and the other down—locked in harmonious embrace. The two components are called “Om” and the “Hrim” in Sanskrit, and symbolize man’s position between earth and sky. The downward triangle symbolizes Shakti, the sacred embodiment of femininity, and the upward triangle symbolizes Shiva, or Agni Tattva, representing the focused aspects of masculinity. The mystical union of the two triangles represents Creation…”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hexagram
My own translation into “human” terms/lives – Creation is usually a good thing. Creations not only means human lives, but to me also means imagination and creativity.  Therefore, we have the yin/yang, the male/female sides to creativity and the simplicity of a clear known shape intertwined. 

That’s it, I think three good positive reflections on all this snow is pretty darn good!

By the way…Want to know more about the native Vermonter Wilson Alwyn “Snowflake” Bentley (1865-1931), the man who is one of the first known photographers of the snowflake?  He manged to capture more than 5,000 images of those little tiny crystals we know as snow, and indeed showed us, no two are the same!
Click link http://snowflakebentley.com