Monday, December 31, 2007

End Of The Year Thoughts

When I was a kid, my brothers, my sister and I built a Scotch broom fort on our property. We hacked down some of the plants - probably with Mom's sharpest kitchen knives - and made trails throughout the hillside patch where we could walk, or crawl on our hands and knees, invisible to the outside world. It was a hot scratchy hideout, but better than nothing - which is basically what we had to work with.

I was reading "Alice in Wonderland" at the time and found the hideout to be a quiet, private place to concentrate on the book. With two brothers and two sisters, privacy and quiet were hard to come by.

One afternoon I accidentally left the book in the Scotch broom patch. The next day, when I went back for it, it was gone. After questioning my siblings, who denied any knowledge of the crime, I immediately discerned who the culprit was. It was not some passerby. I knew it was the White Rabbit. To this day, I prefer that explanation over all others.

Have you ever wanted to believe in something so much, that it didn't really matter what the facts were? Of course you have; we all have. This is how faith prevails and religions get started. Against all realistic evidence, people chose to believe in the unseen and the extraordinary.

On the seventh night of Hanukkah this year, at our house, something unusual happened. I was taking digital photos of my husband lighting the seventh candle on the menorah. I took three photos of him until I was satisfied with the picture. Then I took one more.

In the last photograph, where he is lighting the last candle, there are seven purple ovals "hovering" around his shoulders above the eight candles - seven candles for Hanukkah and one candle to light them. How odd, I thought.

Just recently, I had read an article on what I considered a "woo woo" topic; a belief that the "orbs" or balls of light in digital photos, are supernatural and show the presence of spirits from the other side.

When I read the article I thought of the thousands of pictures I have taken. None of them ever showed the presence of an orb. Poor lighting, blurry images, someone just turning their head from the camera, yes; but no orbs. And why, I asked, would there only be orbs in digital photos and none in single lens reflex cameras. Those old photos didn't show orbs. Why not?

Well, as anyone who's used a digital camera knows, the leap in technology has not been without a price. We can see our photos right away, but many times they are much poorer images than those made with an old fashioned camera.

This, however, was my very first orb photo and it fascinated me. I found myself wanting to believe there might be something to these orbs. I have always regretted I never got to meet my husband's parents. His father died when he was very young, and his mother died when he was in his 20s. To my knowledge he only has one photograph, a wedding portrait, of his mother and father together.

There is also a roll of 8 mm movie film, which a video shop put on VHS tape for us so he could watch it. In this short film, he (a toddler) and his sister are forever in the sunny back yard of their California home, coaxed by their parents to push a baby carriage, smile and otherwise perform for the neighbor's movie camera.

This small clip of time during the early 1950s is all that's left to remind him of family times together. With my own huge, loving family, I have always felt a little sorry for anyone who doesn't have as many wonderful memories.

I guess that's why the purple orbs appealed to me. I could try the experiment again with the candles and camera, but something inside me wants to accept another explanation.
I'm not a kid any more, and I may not believe the orbs are from the other side (or that the White Rabbit really took my book) but I do want to believe my husband's family was near him that night; that they always want to be near him in any way they can - even if it's only in my imagination.

Happy New Year to all!

Femminismo's overactive imagination is sometimes handy, but it's murder when a dentist appointment is coming up or she's alone in the house at night.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

No more wind like this, please.

Yesterday we left our "comfort zone" - couch, hot tea, art supplies and sports on demand - and drove to the Oregon coast. We ended up in Seaside and saw beautiful snowy hillsides on the way. Evergreen tree limbs were dusted with snow and tall alder trees glowed pinkish at the tops in the fog along Highway 26.
Then we came upon the devastation that recent December winds left behind.
In Astoria, at a friend's home, they told us there were average sustained winds of 90 mph for 20 hours. Many of the trees around their home were uprooted - one tree's roots, ripped from the ground, were 30 feet across - and many other trees were simply snapped off, as you can tell from this picture.
Wind gusts were much higher than 90 mph. Their pickup cab was smashed by a falling tree and they lost part of their deck, but other than losing many of their wonderful trees, they were lucky by far.
The weather at the coast was mild. It was around 45 degrees, but it was too wet for us fair weather friends to walk on the beach. Besides, we had to get back home to a family gathering, with dessert and board games to make up for a missed Christmas get-together.
I hope your weather is fine and your winds are fair. - femminismo
Hey, Janet, I was in your neck of the woods!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

One Less Rational Voice.

Shock at the precarious balance in the world overwhelmed me this morning as I logged on the computer to see the headlines. Benazir Bhutto had been killed, apparently by a suicide bomber, and it was one of those times, for me at least, when I wouldn't forget where I was or what I had been doing.
With our smaller and smaller world, it isn't difficult for events that happen around the world to affect us more quickly than we can imagine.
I grieve for Benazir Bhutto's family, her country and supporters and everyone who loves peace.
This is a page in my journal I have begun in memory of this day. The "empty" white tracing paper dress was just laying on my work table from another project where it was never used. Unfortunately, it finally found a purpose.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

White Christmas ... for a while.

Just for a little while, down here in Oregon's northwestern valley, there was snow falling on Christmas Day.
First it came from the east, and then the west, then straight down with very little wind. The flakes weren't very big, but I'll bet higher elevations got a lot more.
When the flakes came down, everyone here gathered around the tree to play with their Christmas toys. The wind-up kangaroo does great back-flips.
I hope your Christmas day is wonderful, with family and friends ... and your dinner is the best ever, with no one forgetting the fruit salad at the back of the refrigerator. What would dinner be with no fruit salad?
Cranberry relish? Got that? And the tiny sweet pickles and black olives?
What can't your family live without during the Christmas dinner?

Here's hoping for peace on earth. - femminismo

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Longest Night of the Year.

In the summer you can barely find this rock, it is so covered with vines and surrounded by other plants. But today it stood out in the garden, providing a deep wonderful green note in all the brown of the muddy flowerbeds.
It looks like a fairy rock. The water falling from the sky is perfect for the conditions this moss craves.
I watched the movie "Once" tonight. I wanted it to go on for a much longer time. I am still humming the song. Now it is playing in the background from the Web site linked here. You might like this movie. I did.
Now I'm going to have a cup of tea and concentrate on saying goodbye to my cold tonight. Tomorrow it will start getting much better until it's only a memory. Besides, I want to make a batch of cookies tomorrow and I can't do that when I'm sick. And there's the house to clean to get ready for a bit of company.
Best drink that tea and go to bed early. Cheers on this lovely night of the year when we can make every minute count ... or just laze about doing nothing. From here on the daylight hours get longer. - femminismo

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Painting tonight for tomorrow.

I'm painting tonight so I will have dry colorful pages to write on tomorrow and the next day and the next.
Can you decide which is prettier - the glittery page or the stamp? It's the blue foam block I heated at the Innerstandings class and then had Judy Wise step on with the great shoe pattern that looks like a fern unfolding. I don't know if that last sentence made sense, but I need - absolutely need - to get more of that blue foam and then look for marvelous texture-y things to stamp.
The woman's face came courtesy of Diane Havnen-Smith's carving her. I believe she will be at the window with the curtains flying around her face (not Diane, but the "stamp woman." Maybe she'll even get her curtains by tomorrow night.
I am also posting my January 2008 calendar just as it is, with globby sumi ink and all. Maybe you can copy and paste it somewhere on your computer so you'll know what day of the week January 20th falls on.

Today I saw the sun not once, but twice! I heard Christmas carols and had dinner made for me. I addressed Christmas cards ... sorry, Mr. Postman ... and I am now going to have some Rocky Road ice cream. Ahhhhhhh! Sweet, sweet life! - femminismo

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Couldn't Sleep - Why Not Paint?

Last night I couldn't sleep. Woke up at 3 a.m. (which was technically today, not last night), read two New Yorker book reviews and still couldn't get back to sleep.
When I finally got out of bed at 4, I found the green page and the sumi ink irresistible and this is what I got. I think she is part of me ... but not all. The wide open eyes are me however.
I was awake until 5. Slept for about an hour or so, then dragged myself out of bed at 6:30 a.m. for a shower, espresso and work.

I'm including a "story page" from my art journal. The picture suggested the story. The one girl is squinting - the sun is in her eyes - but I thought the other girl (twins?) was looking somewhere other than at the camera.
Let me know if you have trouble reading what she's thinking. I'll tell you everything!


The gold paint makes it a little hard to read, what with the reflection of the light. But perhaps it's more mysterious that way.
Today I laughed, I listened to someone talk about their pain and touched her hair and hugged her when she cried, I talked to my littlest sister and my younger brother, and I kissed someone with peppermint breath. Ooh la la!
Be safe and well.
femminismo

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sumi ink discovery!

My first attempts to use sumi ink during a Judy Wise workshop did not work out well. I used the wooden end of a paintbrush as my writing instrument and I just got globs.
Then I tried to use the ink on my tea bag calendar. Same writing instrument. (I will show you the results of that later.) : (
Tonight, using a new writing instrument, a chopstick, I think I have found a better drawing tool. Because the chopstick was coated with paint, the ink rolled off and I had to go back to the well pretty often, but I liked my lady picture. Her nose may not be the perfect distance from her mouth, but when you're working with ink rolling off a chopstick, you hurry.

I have been painting pages in my art journal books, but not writing very much. I've been pretty consistent, however, with this blog lately. It seems to have to be "one or t'other." Paint or type.
I hope you guys know what I go through just so you can have something new to see when you check in on me. (Leave a comment, pleeeeeease.)
Today I saw a man carrying a bicycle toward a bike shop, I saw a coworker with his shirt tucked in for a change, I saw a beautiful young girl in a head scarf, I saw a nearby house is now owned by the bank and I saw trees without a single leaf.
Today I heard a car honk at another car that could not move.
Today I smelled espresso and fresh ground pepper.
What did you see, hear and smell? - femminismo

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Button, button ... bracelet.

Last night, at ArtHouse, hosted by Bodacious Beads in Hillsboro, I made a button bracelet. There is a closeup - which will be small - posted on the far left.
I have been going to ArtHouse with two friends and so far have made a journal, shrinky dinks and, now, a bracelet. Next month we will do collage. ArtHouse is held one Saturday evening each month.
At left is my bracelet in the foreground and JoAnn's bracelet in progress, held by her. It will be elegant when she finishes. The green buttons, culled from another friend's button jars, are the most beautiful green. At one time they must have graced the most elegant of dresses, or perhaps a jacket.
JoAnn has a good eye for color combinations.
I was so proud to have actually finished something. I live in fear, however, that my jump rings are not together well enough and I will someday have seed beads all over the place. Ah, well. Que sera, que sera. - femminismo

Saturday, December 15, 2007

January's Calendar Is Almost Here!


As some of you know, I've been saving tea bags like there's no tomorrow.
A. Empty the dry used tea bags B. Spread them out and smooth with hand C. Sew rows of five empty used tea bags together in strips D. Sew them to a strip of five more dry used tea bags
Voila! Now there are enough "spaces" to write on and make your own calendar for the new year. Well, the first month, anyway. Above are the tea bags sewn together in strips.


And then ... here (left) they are laid out to see how many tea bags I will need to sew on the seven strips of bags. Turns out to be five. (Well, approximately. I came out a little long with the five bags, but it's nothing scissors won't cure.)
I actually sewed the long strips onto the top strip with some thread I found on the living room chair. It had unraveled from a piece of fabric.
I felt as if I could be a pioneer woman, recycling everything the way I did. Well, except for the lack of central heating, microwaves and craft stores I could be a pioneer woman.
Actually, as I discovered how resilient the tea bag paper is, I wondered how it was made and discovered it is quite a waste on our planet to use paper for tea preparation. There are other methods, fortunately, for making tea. Plus you'd get to read the leaves.
Now that I think more about it, if I were a pioneer woman, I would probably recycle this paper for more utilitarian purposes and use it in the outhouse. Here is the proposed calendar on the wall, before letters and dates are stamped on it.
femminismo

Friday, December 14, 2007

Oldest "Ornament."


One of the oldest "ornaments" on my tree is not really an ornament, but a pair of baby shoes I bought at an estate sale. (See them at left.) I took out the newspaper stuffed into them and found a piece dated Feb. 3, 1944. I love to put them on the tree each year and imagine the sweet child who wore them.
Also, to the left, is a photo of the empty tea bags I am stitching by hand into a January calendar. (It's not an original idea, but one I saw on someone else's Web site.) However, it will definitely be one of a kind, since I'll be altering it in my own way. How ... I'm not sure yet. I'm making rows of five tea bags stitched together, and then after I have seven strips, I'll stitch those together. Then I'll stamp numbers on them.

I'm including a picture of the almost fully decorated tree. It's such a soothing and somewhat bittersweet walk back through time as I hang each ornament on the tree remembering times past - when and where I bought the ornament or who gave it to me as a gift, the home I was in when I first hung it on a tree. The smell of the tree brings back even older memories. Memories from times when the tree was held straight by tying a cord to it and attaching that to a nail in the wall. The ornaments were made from leftover tin foil and there were strings of freshly popped corn and circular chain links made from lined writing paper glued together with paste made from flour and water. The tree lights were huge - and hanging all over the tree branches were heavy strands of tinsel, probably lead-filled.

I hope you are warm and safe tonight with sweet memories of your own. - femminismo

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Seventh Night.


Tonight we lit the seventh candle on the menorah. What a lovely warm glow they cast on this cold dark night. There were gifts to open and dinner to enjoy, with dessert still ahead. What could be better?
I'll answer my own question: I talked with a treasured friend tonight. She is in Michigan, where there is lots of snow.

"Treasured friend" sounds good, doesn't it? I didn't want to say "old friend," even though that's what we are. We've known each other a long time. She was my first real friend and I had to wait until I was in high school to find her.
Hearing her voice on the phone takes me back - back to our teenage years - and reminds me how very far we've both come. She is one of those people you never need to apologize to for not calling. (Well, you should, but ... you don't absolutely need to.) You just pick right up where you left off before. Plus she reads my blog! Thanks, Barb, for being such a good friend. When I want to remember who I am, and where I've been, I'll always call you.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Tis the Season.

Cookie making is becoming addictive. And it's more fun with granddaughters doing the hard part: mixing. This takes muscles.
Leesheea and Shey joined me for the afternoon. We made chocolate chip cookies, of course, and then peanut butter with fork tine markings on the top.
One cookie was so picture perfect it needed its own frame!
These two "cookie pals" are perfect company in a warm kitchen on a cold night.



Leesheea's arm was a blur of movement as she stirred in the chips. I hope you have some good company for your cold winter nights - which officially begin on Dec. 22.
A warm fire, a good movie or favorite book, and hot chocolate or a toddy on frosty nights - can't think of many better things. Best wishes, femminismo.

Working on pages.


This morning I took the now-dry water soluble crayon pages (example shown at left and far left) and put in the Mutts cartoon I had been saving since Dec. 2. I noticed the colors were very similar, and although the little cat didn't meet Jane Goodall, he may happen upon the African princess who is walking her own special magical path in the jungle.
The sumi ink was great to work with using a fine pointed brush. The calligraphy-like strokes of the tree leaves felt lovely as I loosened up my wrist and let them flow.
This page is coming along. I want to add more color to the princess' jungle, but it may be a pastel jungle and not so very raucous. (Her name is Roya and she can roar.)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Not Alone in the Dark.


It was a dark and stormy night.
Really, it was!
It was pitch dark, pouring rain and I was leaving Clackamas on the right
highway headed in the wrong direction: north instead of south.
There was no turning back. I knew what eventually lay in front of me. It wasn’t going to be pretty, either. It would involve three lanes of traffic, with more vehicles constantly merging onto the road on my right.
I stuck to the middle lane. All of us were eager to get home, especially those large pickups and SUVs — passing on both my right and left — throwing up water spray that covered my windshield. The wipers were going rapid fire, “swish, click, swish, click.”
Northward I flew, saying aloud “I can do this!” Again, aloud, I spoke to my fellow drivers: “We all just want to get home safe.”
The radio was off. I couldn’t concentrate on anything but staying in my
lane and remembering to breathe.
Parkrose exit. I could have gotten off there. Powell - another exit with
a name I knew. I pictured the long stretch of Powell Boulevard and the
bridge to the other side of Portland.
The freeway seemed to collapse in length and become shorter and shorter
as the minutes went by. The airport exit came up before I knew it. I
would have to get off this road soon or end up in Washington.
The airport exit! I knew the airport. I could find my way home from the
airport. I had gone out of my way by a long shot, but from there I knew
I could find my way home.
Unfortunately I turned off at Cascade Station, thinking it was the first
parking area for overnight or weekly parking at the airport. I didn’t
know it was a humonguous new shopping center with stores for almost
anything you might or might not need.
I considered going in and asking for directions, but something akin to a
Y chromosome kicked in. If I asked for help I would be admitting defeat:
“I couldn’t do this alone.”
I have a difficult time asking for help, but that’s too long a story.
I did call my husband on my cell phone, however, to let him know I might
be late getting home. I had called him when I left Clackamas.
“Where are you now?” he asked.
“I’m out by the airport. Yes, I can see it from here. I’m at Cascade
Station, near that new Ikea store. Oops! Someone’s in back of me. Gotta’
go.”
I dropped the phone into my lap and drove off. Ahead of me was a Subaru
in a right turn only lane. I saw a blue sign: I-84. Things were looking
up. When the light changed we both turned right and then stopped at
another light. I decided to trust the Subaru and followed its taillights
when the light turned green. Soon we were on I-84 ... going in the wrong
direction.
Sandy Boulevard. Another familiar street. I abandoned my friend in the
Subaru and left the freeway. Now I was on Sandy, headed east or west.
Your guess would have been as good as mine. No daylight; no sun to show
me my way home; no stars either. Only more rain.
My cell phone rang. It was my husband asking “Where are you now?”
“I’m headed down Sandy,” I said. “Say, there’s an adult toy shop. Need
anything?”
I don’t know who I was trying to reassure with this attempt at humor,
him or me.
I stopped at a light then. There was a car beside me on my left and I
glanced over at the intersection of the one-way cross street looking for
information and saw a sign that read “City Center.” Yes!
“I’m at an intersection,” I said, “and there’s a sign to city center.”
“Take that,” he said. “You can find your way back that way.”
However, to go that way I would need to cross three lanes of traffic —
one beside me on my left and two other oncoming lanes. I remembered my
driver’s education manual and knew this wasn’t an option.
Then I spotted a motel on the right just through the intersection.
“I’ll bet I can turn into this motel, go through their parking lot and
turn onto the one-way street headed toward downtown. Goodbye,” I said.
Soon I was hurtling toward “downtown” which turned out to be I-84 again,
but in the correct direction. I got into the left hand lane to make sure
I would get the Salem and, eventually, Beaverton exits.
Finally I was really on my way home. I was on my way to the safest place
in the world. Why had I ever left it, I wondered.

That night, holding my husband's hand and trying to fall asleep, I was amazed to have traveled all that distance and come to rest, at last, here in this snug harbor. A million thoughts went through my head. They were all related to my trip and the “what if’s” that so often haunt us late at night.
What if I’d had an accident? What if I hadn’t been lucky?
But I had been. I was lucky to find my way home safely, lucky to be snug
in a safe little house with someone I love. Lucky, lucky, lucky.
I believe in skill. I believe in intelligence. But I’ll trust lucky any day.

— femminismo trusts luck too much, sometimes, but hardly ever buys
lottery tickets.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Baking Cookies


I spent last evening baking chocolate chip oatmeal cookies (why bother with cookies unless there's chocolate in them?), working on art journal pages and watching "Tin Man." I loved the sister story it contained, and the strong family/humanity theme.
The cookies were for a reception at Valley Art Gallery where I volunteer. The Mister and I only ate two cookies each. (Not a total breakdown on our dietary goals.)
I worked with water soluble crayons and gluing in some collage. More fun ... and now the dining room table is covered with my "projects" again. Sigh! Well, I did keep it pretty clean for almost two weeks.
You'll notice in the cookie picture I did put in a plug for our other eating habits: whole grain bread, apples ... and can you find the red wine?
femminismo

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Art-full Journals

Today I spent some wonderful hours in Clackamas at Diane Havnen-Smith's lovely home with the fabulous Judy Wise teaching marvelous art journal techniques. I thought I took quite a few photos, but came home surprised at the small number of them. video
However, I did come home with a short video of our time there ... where Lisa was "teacher's pet" because she would listen to the teacher while others were talking ... and more talking. What a good time laughing and enjoying everyone's different views of art and life. There were so many techniques and materials ... and learning how to use them all was part of the fun.
I still have a lot to learn, but oh what a fun journey to journal!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Nanowrimo winner tonight!


Yes, it's true. I produced 50,000 actual words that make up a story/novel beginning - with flashbacks, two alternate story lines and two fascinating women characters in the lead "roles."
My gosh, I'm proud of myself, aren't I?
I did it with the help of a wonderful man, who cooks, cleans and shops. Now we know one of the secrets behind successful Nanowrimo winners.
Next year? Sure, why not?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

video
Here's a video that several family members had fun producing.
It took a lot of work, giggling, sweat and plain goofiness to refine
the finished product, but I think you'll agree it was worth it.
The perfect finish to a 9 year old's birthday.

Nanowrimo - almost there!


Hello there. Just wanted to let you know that two of the most wonderful things have happened.

No. 1: As you can tell by this photo I'm including I have been spending an inordinate amount of time on my laptop working on Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) and I am almost up to my 50,000 words -- even though I started late!!! You can still search for "femminismo" under authors at the nanowrimo.org Web site and read my crazy excerpt.
No. 2: I am going to take a workshop with my heroine, Judy Wise, this weekend! I know!! I can't believe it either!! I can't stop using exclamation marks and I feel like crying and laughing at the same time. A whole day workshop making art journals - I can't wait. (!!!!!)
I am one happy person tonight. Happy, happy, happy! I hope you are too. Not just for me, but I hope you find something in your life soon that enriches you, revitalizes you and makes you revel in the fact that life can change for the better in a split second - or even in 30 days ... and you can wait that long. Look at me with the 50,000 new words toward a novel that I now possess. Makes you feel like you could do anything! Cheers! Femminismo.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Family and the Tea Bag Lady



Last night we spent the evening with family celebrating the 9th birthday of a very special little girl, Cassandra, our granddaughter.
On Nov. 5, it was also the birthday of my own special girl, Ruth. I did a really quick watercolor of her in my art journal with watercolor pencil on very thick watercolor paper. It probably deserved a better artist, but even though the picture isn't an exact reproduction of Ruth, I was pretty happy with it.

The other photo is my rendition of a "tea bag" lady suggested by Judy Wise on her blog. (You take a used tea bag, dry it, carefully unfold it, empty the contents and draw something on it. Judy used shellac on hers, but I don't have any. I'll have to wait for the right medium to appear. Or maybe leave it like this.
Gotta' go! femminismo

Saturday, November 17, 2007

FirstGiving

Donate to FirstGiving, and Nanowrimo's Office of Light and Words will help promote writing in the classroom. For everyone who donates, I'll be eternally grateful. From the halo over my head on my Nanowrimo page, you can tell I've already donated.
Donate and keep me writing. Make me feel compelled to keep going because you've stepped up and put money down. That should keep me busy working.
Make a donation and I will write your name into my story and post an excerpt on my page. You might be surprised what "your" character ends up doing! (Nothing too naughty, I promise.) I'll let you know when your name appears.
Thanks for listening. Halfway through November and I'm only at 13,000 words. Keep those donations coming!
femminismo

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nanowrimo

Here it is: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/107496
Copy and paste it into your browser and find me at Nanowrimo.org. I am working like mad on my story "Asking Eleanor."
There is an excerpt posted now, and it doesn't make me gag too badly. I think I am remembering slowly but surely how to write without stopping and still make a bit of sense.
I am thinking of reasons why my character might be having a difficult time right now in her life (first person novel) and what might have happened in the past.
Cheer me on. Tell me to sit down and type/write/scribble.
I will try my hardest not to let myself down. You can also search under "Authors" (gosh, that sounds good) at the Web site and find me by typing in femminismo and then click on "search."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Is it time for a new post or what?



Cannot believe how quickly November began and started rolling.
The art event I helped with is now over and (almost) done. Just a committee report and totaling up expenses and, hopefully, profits.
Now it's off to the writing races. I am down in my word count for Nanowrimo - unbelievably down. Tonight I have 3,666 words and I've got to add more than 2,500 each night or I'm sunk. I won't achieve the 50,000 total words needed. Put on the coffee pot, mama, I'm staying up tonight!
So now you'll know why I've been so slow to post. But just in case you think I've been laying around gathering moss, I have some new photos to post also. I hope you enjoy them. Kelli Perkins, the lovely "scrap crow doll" maker - f November/December, personally gave me the go-ahead to make the crows, seatured in Cloth Paper Scissors forell them, promote them, etc. She sounds wonderful and has a great blog. Just check her out.
Ciao! (And the new photo to the left, top, asks the question: What do you desire?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Make the Paper Day


Thursday we make Friday's paper. Here is my lunch, my proofreader's pen and the copy. Busy, busy day. After work, I rushed home to sew another "scrap crow" together. I am getting more organized at turning them out. After that I was off to Valley Art to clean and decorate the front windows for our Annual Artist Event coming soon on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Cannot wait until that evening is over!
Enjoy the new pictures. And here's my Nanowrimo link. See if it works for you.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

FOR HALLOWEEN I WORSHIP ORANGE.

Sometimes there is nothing better than some good orange food. Today I could hear it calling me from the other end of the room. It's spooky on Halloween to hear voices, but food voices I hear all the time.
It was the salty, cheery other-worldly glow of Cheetos that I craved and so I indulged myself as you can see from the self-portrait of my hand holding a bag of orange goodness. What would we do at work without the snack table?
When Cheetos don't work, Dorito nachos chips do the trick, and guess what? They are orange too!
Sometimes I worship at the altar of the Church of Orange Non-Food Products. Other times it's apples ... but no more candy. I've sworn off candy unless it's dark chocolate, and then only in small portions. The other night I was at the grocery store and I had eaten a small bag of Cheetos that day and I wanted to buy a great big bag and finish them in the car before I drove home. I didn't do it, however. Then, right there at the checkout stand, was a cart with a small girl (about 3) holding a large bag of Cheetos. She was quietly waiting for her parents to the put the rest of the groceries in the cart until she saw my eyes on her bag of Cheetos. She glared and me and suddenly clutched them to her chest. Her large brown eyes narrowed and you could tell she could read my mind. She gave me the evil look that said, "Oh, no, you don't. They're mine!"
"Don't you just love Cheetos?" I asked. "They are my favorite too."
My tone won her over, I guess. She smiled a little but she didn't loosen her grip on the bag. Smart girl.
Her mother assured me the little girl didn't get them often. "Just once in a while," she said.
Ha! I'm sure the girl wouldn't get many of them. Not if the mother and father worshiped orange non-food the way I do. Somehow the Cheetos would disappear faster than anticipated for the little girl ... unless she took them to bed with her. I wondered if I should warn her ...? But being a parent is rough enough. The two of them looked as if a few Cheetos wouldn't hurt them, and there's always more of them coming from the Land of Bright Orange Snack Food every day.
Happy Halloween everyone. Tomorrow - at midnight tonight - Nanowrimo begins. Wish me well on my quest to finish 50,000 words before the end of November. Visit my Nanowrimo page. Search for "femminismo" or literary fiction writers in the Pacific Northwest. You'll find me I'm sure. Watch my progress. Cheer me on.
More later, that's for sure.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ah! So Much Has Been Going On.


Too busy. That's reflected in my art/journal page which isn't more than cutting and pasting. I admired this advertisement and it seemed to fit ... so I stole it.
It's fall all around, underfoot and overhead. I captured some photos of that.
I finally got my copy of Cloth Paper Scissors and was so happy to read about Judy Wise. She is absolutely the busiest, most creative person on earth.
I've also been busy baking "pies" for our Annual Artist Event at Valley Art. The theme is "Preface," with a strong emphasis on the nursery rhyme and story book about the four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie. In the same Cloth Paper Scissors was an article on fancy "scrap crow" dolls, so I made one last night. Now I just have to make one every night until Nov. 6 and I'll be set to decorate tabletops with them in "pies."
Must leave you once again. Hope you enjoy the photos. femminismo

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

It's about time!



That's what all my loyal fans are saying: "It's about time!"
Well, what can I say? I've been busy? Yes, I'll say that. It's not that I've been lazy.
Here are photos from the latest class I took. They are huge. I'll have to make them smaller and repost them.
Sorry about that.
It was a class in "Shrinky Dink" art. We stamped shrinky dink material, colored the stamped image and then put them in little toaster ovens.
It was fun and the time flew by much too fast.
Enjoy. Hope your fall is going well. - femminismo

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Paste paper ... and it's easy and fun!


Saturday was a too short day of playing and making art. Patricia Edmonds taught a class at the Accidental Bookmaker and though we were slow to take off, when things got cooking (one cooked element was the paste itself) our inhibitions "baked away" and we were churning out the artwork.
Paintbrushes were dipped into tinted rice and wheat paste and we covered our paper. Then we used a variety of tools - never intended for any other purpose besides whisking egg whites or combing hair - to make patterns in our paste mixture.
I tried to restrain myself from applying glitter on everything, and once or twice succeeded.
Some of these finished papers will go into books and some could stand as framed art alone ... (she said modestly).
There were many different papers to try. Black papers coated with paste and then "combed," with the original paper color underneath revealed, were lovely. Many of my papers were left in the studio to dry overnight. This morning I ironed the wrong side of the ones I brought home and I have feverish plans to include them in my November art journal, which I desperately hope will be better than my October book. It has been given short shrift because of my other projects this month.
However, in November I will also begin Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). I'm not sure what my novel will feature this year, but I have a couple of ideas. You can wish me luck with it by following along at the Nanowrimo.org Web site. Search for "femminismo."
One of the nicest things about Saturday - yesterday - was getting in touch with Judy Teufel who also took the class. I have been thinking about her lately ... wondering how she was doing. Now I know. She has a new kayak and will be taking it out soon. Her new "ship" is a color she calls "Mango Tango." In a few years, I hope I am as vibrant and alive as this woman is today.
Enough. Take a look at my pictures of yesterday.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

My, October is racing along!


Yes, it's true time is racing. Perhaps it's because I spend too much time on the computer altering and changing blogs and documents - and exploring those irresistible sites that I seem to happen upon by reading other blogs with yummy applications in them.
I found a way to tile some photos and I'll put the link when I get another spare minute. It was fun. Now I just have to find where I stored it on my computer.
Let's see if it shows up. Just like a treasure hunt ... you would think I would learn to make better notes on files. You would think ... .

Saturday, October 6, 2007

A Saturday Market Kind of Morning

Cool, cool nights into the low 40s. This morning found us at our local Saturday Farmers Market looking at all the wonderful pears and vegetables. How about those photos? Some raspberries and peaches were still on show, too. The smells of the sausage stand brought us over that way. Carnivores until the end, I guess.
The trees seemed to change color on my way to and from the market. I swear they looked redder and yellower. Different weather from yesterday. Then it was sunny and pretty warm. The sunroof was open and small yellow leaves swirled like snowflakes, some making it into the car. Today it's too changeable and cold to leave the windows open very long.
I had some good news yesterday. That made the day special. Today I spent some time with my brother. We worked on his blog and put more pictures on it. Tonight we are going to a movie with friends, so that should be fun, too.
Art ... manana.

Friday, October 5, 2007

What Have I Been Doing?


Time has been getting on and what have I been doing, you ask?
Well, staring at the autumn leaves. Writing sporadically in my art/journal. Working at a paying job. Working on the computer for a volunteer organization.
The days and evenings race by and there's not much being done with my art.
I've drawn a few pictures in October's journal and I promise I'll do more.
I am working on a design for blackbirds for a project. I think black construction paper would work well, with black and white checkerboard wings for the birds.
I really need to marshal my organizational skills together. I am chairperson for an art event on Nov. 6 and will be doing Nanowrimo again this year - for the third time - and it begins Nov. 1. Yikes!
I haven't decided what to write about. It's usually a last minute decision, since you're supposed to start from scratch and I'm a very strict rule follower, even when no one's watching.
Paranoid, I guess, just a little. More later ... stay tuned.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Corded Book.


Saturday, Sept. 29, I took a class in making a "corded" book at The Accidental Bookmaker shop with Patricia Grass. I had fun choosing papers and then figuring out how to attach cords to "j" hooks and tighten wing nuts to fix tension.
Next came sewing the pages together and wrapping the waxed linen thread around the cords to cover them.
The result was something I really liked and it was fun to do. My results weren't perfect, but if I kept doing it I'm sure it would get easier and I'd have ever so many nice gifts for friends.
My September book/art journal ends today (One Day At a Time) and tomorrow I start October's book.

Today, Sunday, my sister and husband and I went to the cemetery to take Mom some flowers since her birthday is October 2. It was finally a rainy day in Oregon. That should keep the flowers fresher, longer and keep the pretty plant well watered.
Goodbye, September.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

This is looking up into the American elm in our back yard. Soon it will be covered with yellow leaves which will automatically release at a predetermined time (by someone or something) and descend to the ground. If we are lucky they will stay dry long enough to rake easily ... in light piles. With rain, however, more leaves will leave their posts earlier and we'll have heavy piles to compost. But we do need the rain ... .
This is a random post. I am still working on trying to get photos to enlarge in blogger when you hover over them with your cursor.
femminismo

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Fall is here.

It's not official, but fall is here in the early morning air and throughout the day. It reminds me of the days when a new dress for school and brand new sharp crayons and pencils made me excited to start learning something new.
This fall I want to learn lots of new things.
If there is anything that teaches us that time is not finite, it's the rapidly ongoing change of the seasons. If I hear once more how quickly time seems to be passing I think I will scream. (I already know this. Don't tell me again! And I promise not to say it myself.)
Here are some photos of flowers still in the yard - autumn crocus and roses ... don't know what kind, but they're lovely.
It's time to plant bulbs now for flowers in the spring. Best get busy.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival Day!

Yes! What makes the perfect ending to summer? Chalk Art! There was so much to see and do and people to visit with and good food to eat. So many artists blossoming on the streets with colorful chalk drawings and "paintings."
What imaginations and great skill a lot of them had. The koi in the small sidewalk "pond" looked real enough to feed.
Opinions were expressed, real people and cartoon characters were honored ... it boggled the brain the riot of color that blossomed.

I, of course, this year had vowed to get a balloon hat from Joe Mishkin, the balloon man. As I waited patiently in line with the kids, I decided I wanted a crown. Just a modest number, with no estates, subjects or castles included. Joe came through for me as I'm sure you can tell by the fetching balloon gear I am wearing on my head.
I had so much fun. Three granddaughters were also there, and a son and a daughter. What a wonderful, wonderful way to end summer.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Getting Ready for Fun.

Tomorrow is Sidewalk Chalk Art day and I have to admit I am excited and anxious at the same time. Excited because Chalk Art is always so much fun, marking the end of the summer but with the excitement of fall in the offing, too. Anxious that everything goes well and my contribution is worthwhile.
It's actually just a total day of fun when you can feel like a kid and get filthy while drawing on the sidewalk.
I will have three grandchildren there and my daughter and son will be there, too. It doesn't get much more fun than that.
I never really envisioned the rich warm feeling I would have seeing my older children together with their own children - and those children playing together. It is almost as good a feeling as holding your own baby close to your heart.
I will enjoy tomorrow, whatever it brings: clouds, a little mist, a cool morning. I will be with friends and doing something I enjoy and watching my children play together again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

In memory.

Tonight I hung paper leaves ("Living Leaves") decorated with paints, crayons, pictures and words in remembrance of 9/11. The tradition originally started in 2000 after two local men died on Mt. Hood in a climbing accident. The following year, in September of 2001, it took on more meaning when we remembered the victims of the 9/11 attacks.
Each year we use this opportunity to remind each other of the important joys of life (peace, love, hope), express an opinion or remember and honor those we have lost. As the wind blows through the leaves, which are hung on the small trees along Main Street, I like to think that the thoughts and prayers written on them will reach up into the heavens.
Sentimental, but pure in intention.
This year I put one up for my mother and one for my father. The one for dad is bright orange and large. On the back it says "for the tallest, handsomest and kindest dad." Mom's leaf says "best mama ever."

Monday, September 10, 2007

A Weekend Spent Playing

It was a good weekend of work in the sunroom - off and on - because I had to spend part of the time cleaning out my inside work space to make room for this winter's work. Soon the rain and cold will come and I don't want to be spending it out in the dampness. I want to be warm and cozy and inspired - not shivering.
September's workbook art/journal is well on its way. The pages haven't been too inspiring; just utilitarian. Somewhere to write down thoughts.
Tonight I am making leaves - "living leaves" with thoughts, comments, sentiments, memories, memorials in honor of loved ones and in memory of 9/11. They will hang on the trees in a nearby town to remember sacrifices and honor family members. The leaves may have poems or pictures on them. It is something I enjoy doing each September.
Hope you enjoy the pictures. - femminismo

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Busy, busy day!

Today was a work day at the newspaper: reading, writing, editing. Argh! My eyeballs need a rest. But after work I went to volunteer some time at Valley Art Association, a nonprofit art gallery. Two artists, Gerald Sticka and Martha Denham, were the featured artists. Their work is wonderful, of course.
It was First Wednesday downtown and I prepared an appetizer (spinach leaves stuffed with Thai-inspired goodies), and there was cheese, dip, crackers, a rosy bowl of plums, grapes, veggies and a wine tasting with Montinore Reisling, pinot noir and pinotgrigo. Lots of happy, smiling people milling about - in the gallery and in the street because there were other vendors throughout town and it was a wonderful September evening. I was happy to be walking around town visiting with old friends and artists I had met last month. The summer is definitely coming to a close and it's hard to say goodbye to these longer, warmer evenings.
By 8 p.m., however, I was happy to be on my way home, with dahlias left over from the party. My shoes are off and my feet will soon be propped up.
I'm posting a photo of a portion of the food table. I love sunflowers! - femminismo

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day Weekend

It was a relaxing weekend and I feel like I got some things done I'd been meaning to accomplish: went to Saturday Market and got peaches (lovely Snow King peaches), worked on my next art/journal book, spent Sunday at Art in the Pearl and Monday escaped to the woods for a hike and a listen to the creek. The sky was blue with white dappled clouds. I've posted several photos. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

It's a new month!

Yes, September is here and I have finished August's art journal in keeping with my determination to track One Day At A Time. Hence, the name of this blog for those who didn't know ... or care.
It's warm today in the Pacific Northwest, but last night left dew on the skylights this morning. As you can see by the newest photo I've posted, the sunflower in the front yard - a volunteer - has reached heights beyond picking. Most of the beautiful yellow flowers have escaped my shears and flourish to provide the bees with something - nectar? pollen? - and the birds with seeds a little later on. That is, if it doesn't fall over again. It is staked now, and thanks to our neighbor's exuberant in-ground sprinkler, it is watered.
This month I am making my entire book (not the paper). I have signatures of folded paper I will bind and sew into a handmade cover. I hope it works out and doesn't become the straw that breaks this art journalist's back. Now I must get busy.
Hope your sunflowers, or any flowers, are blooming their heads off. - femminismo

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

So It Begins ....

There's always one telltale sign in our back yard that fall is on the way. It's not the autumn crocus or the hardy amaryllis, but the lowest branches of the American sycamore that signal the turn of the seasons.
So far it hasn't been the warmest summer on record. In fact, I will be surprised if this September - usually a warm month - is any better.
Why, land's sake, I can remember in the '60s wearing a new wool skirt or a hard earned sweater (my own money, picking strawberries and beans) when school began in September and regretting it because the weather was so hot. Nowadays, there are many times I have worn sweaters this July and August, and not only because of air conditioning inside.
In the Oregon of my youth the summer days seemed warm and long. As I walked through fields of dry grass, the grasshoppers, with their brightly colored wings, fanned out from all around me. Now, I haven't seen a grasshopper in so long, I really wonder if Mother Nature makes them any more.
The summers were warm and my sister and I slept in a small bedroom upstairs where all the heat went during the day. We would gather around the one window that could be opened about 10 inches, because that was the size of the only little screen we had. That was our sole protection from the mosquitoes that could detect the scent of us from miles away. It was torture to lie there in the darkness and hear them whining away. So sleepy ... but we didn't want to doze in case one started drilling.
A rolled up newspaper came in handy, and eventually my sister would screw in the light bulb in the ceiling (the only way to turn it on or off) and start thwacking away at the bugs that alighted on the ceiling - trying in their obscure way to hide from us.
The light bulb in the ceiling: Ah! It's been a couple of years since I thought of that. What great arguments we used to have over whose turn it was to shut it off. It was usually so hot we had to put a sock or something else over our hand so we could touch it and (literally) "turn" it off.
Of course, thwacking mosquitoes on the ceiling and fighting about the light usually only brought a shout from downstairs. "You kids go to sleep! Right now!"
Well, I've come a ways from leaves turning color. What's it like where you live? How do you know fall is coming? I'd like to know. - femminismo

Sunday, August 19, 2007

This Weekend's Work.

I decided to heat up some wax and slapped down a torn photograph of these wonderful musicians from a book I had. I added/drew a woman's face and thought it looked as if the trombone player and the young woman were in some way a "couple." I named the woman "Marcella" and the trombone player "Francis." He plays with the Gibson Brothers Band while Marcella remains in the city and attends business school. She is going to be a secretary and save her money up for their wedding. Will Francis ever settle down, however; that's the question.
The imagination is surely one of the more fascinating aspects of being human.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mona? Is that you?

Mona like you've never seen her before. The wonderful illustration is from a yoga magazine and don't you think it makes a wonderful, cozy pullover for Mona? However, she might seem scary to some. She's got a great hairband and earrings that are extra special. I may cover her in wax ... just because I've been wanting to heat some wax. The weather has been cooler, so the time may be ripe.
I am still continuing with my art/journal pages. I have been back to work and busy after vacation. Hoping to enjoy a leisurely, artful Labor Day too. Ciao!

Friday, August 10, 2007

From Oregon to Washington

We left on Sunday for Ellensburg, Washington. Up the Columbia River Gorge - a most beautiful place - across at Biggs Junction, to Goldendale and then on for miles and miles through Washington territory to E-burg.
Across the Columbia, on the Washington side, the hills looked as if they were covered in brown suede or nubby golden corduroy. Most of my scenic pictures are "speeding" photos, which means from the car window as we sped on our way. Going 70 mph was the norm for most of our trip.
We met family in the town of Ellensburg and had dinner and then went to the "bed and breakfast" my sister operates when family visits. She really doesn't have a bed and breakfast, but she and her husband do have a wonderful log cabin. So peaceful there, with only the birds - tanagers, grosbeaks and many, many hummingbirds. (Well, there are elk, deer, mountain lions and bears - from time to time - but the only wildlife I saw was birds and chipmunks.) Check out the photos at the bottom of our views from the cabin.
We went to Roslyn, where "Northern Exposure" was filmed, hiked and climbed in Ohme Garden, in Wenatchee, which you really should visit, and buzzed through Leavenworth. Our quest for a new sparkly wind twirler was realized. Yippee!
We ate and ate and had a great time. Thanks, Judy and Gary, for the fine welcome. Happy birthday, today, Judy!
Now we're home watering the yard and scrubbing road grime from the car. Back to the real world.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Windy, artsy August night

Tonight was the First Wednesday of the month, and at the art gallery where I volunteer there was a great turnout for our eight local artists' reception. The food was good and wine tastings were going on all over town.
The wind blew along the street and flapped the colorful flags outside the gallery so loudly it was hard to hear yourself think.
The farmers market at the end of the street was filled with early, luscious produce and beautiful lilies, sunflowers and annuals of all sorts. The air was scented with basil and tamales and I met an artist from Louisiana, driven away by the lack of work and depressed economy, and another artist who paints toys with other objects. There was one painting of a sock monkey next to a rubber ducky. The monkey was looking very tenderly at the ducky, like he'd either like to take it on a date or for a ride in a tub of water.
Another artist had wonderful, impressionistic fused glass and still two other women artists - sisters - who had jewelry and "totem" people, all inspired by their upbringing in South America, Chile and South Africa. "Tribal art" they call it. Ah, the minds of artists - and so many of them say "We'd like to quit our jobs and do only this." So I'm not the only one ... no big surprise. Good night, now.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Tiger Lily

I've got two "tiger lilies" actually. One is the flower and one the little lady, Tiger Lily, that I made on SCRIBBLER. I love to draw the simple line figures with my mouse and then watch SCRIBBLER make them look almost like actual art.
On this altered book/journal page I pasted a head onto a body - both ones I drew and the software program finished. The link is http://www.zefrank.com/scribbler/.

Once you start, you will find yourself unable to quit. Good luck drawing.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

July is getting on.

There's not much left of July is there? Once again I didn't "pepper" the flower beds with annuals so I could have some vivid color in the garden during these last days of summer. Most of the color is from a scattering of lilies, the butterfly bush and late lavender. The purple cones of tiny flowers on the butterfly bush smell so much like honey to me, and the swallowtail butterflies truly love them.
I won't write for long tonight, except to say that I am tired and I long for the week of vacation that is coming soon. After that I want to retire and stay at home and plant flowers and draw pictures and someone should just give me a paintbrush and a thousand tubes of colors - all sorts of colors - and turn me loose with them so I can make art.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Be Gone Ye Dragon!

It’s like a jump off a diving board into a cold, murky pool — when you don’t know how to swim.
That’s what it feels like on the days I walk one mile to work. What am I afraid of? That’s what I asked myself this morning.
I thought about all the good reasons to drive instead of walk: I would get there sooner, my right knee was hurting, and I’d just eaten breakfast and hate to walk on a full stomach.
I thought about all the good reasons to walk instead of drive: I had made a commitment to my health and exercise would strengthen my heart and lower my blood glucose levels, I wouldn’t be using my car and it would help the environment, and I had lost another 2 pounds. Boy, these reasons outweighed the others. What was I waiting for? If I collapsed at the side of the road surely someone would stop and help me. The same thing could happen while I was sitting in the car or at my desk.
I stepped out the front door into a beautiful summer day and stopped. I should take the car, I thought. Why? I went over the same concerns as before. No; walk, I decided. Quickly I took off before my anxieties gave way to the good things walking had to offer.
You can learn a lot more about your neighborhood when you walk through than when you zip past sealed up in a car I decided. At the end of the block, it sounded as if there were a party going on. It was a group of guys laughing and joking over coffee in the back yard, letting off steam before leaving for a construction job.
About a block away from home, on the street that runs parallel to ours, I heard a rooster crow. Then I heard it again. Chickens in the city! It’s amazing how some neighbors get along so well with each other. Evidently none of them found roosters annoying. Or if they had, they decided to live and let live.
When you walk alone, you also have time to contemplate your life. Twice a week I have one-half hour to think about people I love and people I could live without, trips I’d like to take and, of course, where I’ve been in my life and where I’m going.
The jump off the diving board, the jump out the front door – both are like the leap of faith that writing is: putting down your thoughts and hoping that you'll find it both a good exercise and rewarding. Of course it's the happiest thing when your writing gives someone else information they need or want.
In 2003 I went to Italy by myself – if you don't count the hundreds of other people in the airplane, all of them strangers – to meet a group of women in Umbria. I got there without dropping unconscious by the side of the road. During that trip I confessed to the group of women that I had anxiety attacks. One of them said, “Oh, doctors know how to deal with that now."
Is that right, I thought sarcastically to myself. I'd been having these attacks for about 40 years and no one had ever given me very much help.
She explained that breathing in through your nose to a count of four, holding your breath for a count of four and then exhaling through your mouth to a count of 10-12 would work for me. I should practice this breathing to be ready if an attack came. So, I did. There wasn't much to lose.
A couple of nights later I woke up around 2 a.m. and it started; that terrible anxiety.
The breathing I thought, over my panic. I began breathing and holding and exhaling and I'll be darned if the anxiety didn't stop. In that dark room in Umbria, I could literally see the dragon - that for so long had his claws wrapped in my hair - let go and fade away into the corner. I felt so powerful; so wonderful.
However he still lingers in my memory. He hasn't come back full force and I don't want to allow that to happen. The memory of the claws is why I play the mental game with myself - should I walk to work or drive. Yet I know that every time I walk I'm doing more than getting exercise.
I'm leaving that dragon a little further behind every time ... and good riddance.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Do You Know Crabby?

I've been feeling crabby lately. How about you?
Feeling crabby, for me, usually means there's been a shortage of letting feelings out. A couple of days ago I spent some time in a place that does not hold good memories for me: the local emergency room.
I wasn't there for myself; lucky me. However, it is a place I associate with two terrible events in my life. It's the emergency room where I saw my father alive for the last time, and it's the place I brought my mother when she was hurting one night. She laid in a room for over two hours before she was admitted to the hospital. She was then released about a week later because her doctor could do nothing more for her.
I'm sure this emergency room holds plenty of frightening memories for many local residents and even for the people who work there, I can't imagine they become inured to the harsh realities of living and dying.
So, yes, I've been crabby and distracted and feeling a little lonesome for loved ones I still love and miss. Perhaps it's time for a good cry and then some therapeutic art.
Maybe it's even time to write, which has been cathartic in the past. We shall see.
Can you tell where I went on Sunday? There it is: Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Friday's over. Whew!

Well, I don't know about you, but I escaped the dreaded Friday the 13th with no accidents or bad luck (that I know of). Except I seem to be losing my memory. I swear I will have to write down more things, and write them in one place only, so I can live my life without forgetting to attend parties or by going to interviews that were actually scheduled for next week.
I have always felt my memory was poor, due to the scattered quality of my thought patterns. This was something I thought I was born with, and although I try to remember more than the words to the theme song from "Gilligan's Island," there are definitely times my memory lets me down.
I am not thinking it's a serious illness, but my "rememberation" could really use some help. (And I've tried ginko already, and didn't forget to take it, so I won't try that old joke.
I have been watering the July flowers in my Pacific Northwest garden - not as often as they'd like, but as often as I care to. Most of my free time is spent trying to keep up with my altered book/journal ... filling its pages with some random thoughts that won't be too frightening to pass on to future generations.
I look at it this way: If I found a book like some of the ones I'm filling up, I would be delighted. I can only hope they survive the coming years and someone similar to me finds them interesting.
Now I am going out to the sunroom to paint a few more pages with some new paint that was recommended to me. I hope it's cool where you are ... but not too much so.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I've been working on art.

Sorry I haven't posted anything but a journal page for a while. I've been busier ... making art.
I melted wax again today and fixed up a page in my book with an original drawing covered with beeswax. I hope to do some larger pictures. I've been coming to the realization that I'm expecting too much from myself, as usual. Actually, I've just been expecting works of art to come together too quickly without much experimenting over the past few years.
The more casually I tend to approach the "work," the easier it seems to come. So I think I will just have fun with what I'm working on and not take it too seriously.
I'll show you what I come up with. Meanwhile, my pointy hat girl will have to stand in for me for a while.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

And now for something different.

UPDATE (in bold): Today I had a total day of fun! I melted some beeswax, some carnuba wax and a few damar crystals (which melt at a higher temperature, and so makes any artwork created with it a little more stable and unlikely to react with higher room temperatures) and painted some old magnolia leaves.
The leaves had been through a Pacific Northwest winter, with lots of rain washing through the leaves - leaving behind the tougher membranes as an outline of the leaf.
I had an old framed photo of a lovely young couple. I don't know who they are (or were), but I'm sure once upon a time they were quite in love with one another. Now they are "Together" in this attempt at artwork.
They and the leaves are affixed to an old sliding window screen, which had definitely seen better days. (The screen seems to me to be a metaphor for life, since it catches a lot of things and doesn't allow them through to the other side. My, my, such "artsy-fartsy" thinking, but one could look at it that way, couldn't one?) I've added some tags to the art piece. On the reverse side of the tag they say something else. You can try to guess what they say or make up your own. I had one friend name the couple: Justin and Crystal. I don't know. What do you think?
It was truly fun. I don't know that it's "high art," but I enjoyed using up some old things I had been collecting and shuffling around from place to place. I wish I had a clue what the two young people's names were. Maybe someone could suggest some . . . in keeping with the time in which they lived. Probably around the late 1800s or very early 1900s, I would think. Scroll down for a larger photo.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Ka Pow!

Tonight on our street there are so many illegal fireworks going off that the police and firemen must be gritting their teeth at all the ignored warnings of $500 fines.
It is nearly 10:30 p.m. and time for bed, because for some of us it's a work day tomorrow. Hopefully the fireworks will stop soon. I'm glad we don't have any jumpy pets hiding under the bed.
Today I leave you with a photo from the back yard - daisies and Joe Pye weed on the Fourth of July.
The plant I called False Solomon's Seal is not that. It has another name, but I haven't tracked it down yet. Starts out with oval shaped green leaves, then has yellow starburst flowers, then pinkish berries which turn black. They are inedible. I don't even notice the birds eating them in the fall.
Happy birthday, America.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Trying to maintain.

I am really trying to keep going one day at a time recording my thoughts and daily 'adventures' in my altered book/journal. June has been a difficult month for me. There has been so much to do and not enough time.
I am wishing I were retired and had all my time to myself. The reality is that I give my time away to various people and causes and doubt I will ever 'own' my time.
My goal, however, is to enjoy each day and moment as it comes. On Tuesday I walked to work and enjoyed the sights and sounds I miss when I drive. I am hoping (should I say 'planning' in order to sound more determined?) to walk to work again tomorrow.
It has rained today and there is more in the forecast, so the experience should be a little different from the other day when I walked in warm sunshine.
It is after 9 p.m. and I was just outside taking photos of rain-drenched flowers. I can't resist my garden. Before that I was eating raspberries from the refrigerator. Deeelicious!
Today I turned down the opportunity to work 40 hours a week, and instead will do my 30 to 35. I enjoy leaving or arriving when I want to. At least, after my work is done.
I have still been writing and editing obituaries for the paper where I work, and it's difficult not to put in the family's emotional words and keep to the general outline of our paper's style.
A tender heart in charge of obits? Perhaps it's not a job for me.
Enjoy the photo for today. It is rain-soaked false Solomon's seal ... I think.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Weekends are for fun.

On Saturday at the local farmers market we found this lovely trio performing. Beautiful, yet sober in their intense concentration, we listened to them in mute appreciation. It was sunny and the vendors were plentiful. Another trio came home with us - strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.
In the second photo - taken today - you can see what became of these wonderful berries. In this blood glucose monitoring-household, two slices of bread will be our ration for the day. However, with eggs, milk and cinnamon the baked French toast, with its hot topping of berries, made a breakfast fit for a king or queen.
I am sharing it with you the only way I can, via photo. Yum!
Add two cups of espresso and I am ready to go. I hope your Sunday started this well.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Longest Day of the Year

Today, June 21, is the longest day of the year. Right now, here on the West Coast, it is 9:03 p.m. and still light out. The picture of the lilies on this site was taken around 8:45 p.m. Still enough light for a great photo.
Yet today was not nearly long enough for everything I wanted to do. The day was long enough for the things I should have done, and for the things I promised to do. However, it was not long enough for my personal agenda.
So I ask myself if this day was a good day, a day well spent. I think it was, since I got a hug from my brother for bringing him home from the hospital. I went to work and earned more money for groceries and art supplies.
Aha! I did get one thing done: I bought acrylic paints to try in my altered book/journals instead of the tempera that has wreaked havoc with my pens and markers. We shall see how it works out. Judy Wise is the wonderful friend who gave me this advice and she makes wonderful altered books which double as journals, too.
There is still a smell of the mock orange filling the backyard and the subtle scent of the petunia basket in the sunroom.
All of the magnolias are blooming too high right now to pick. I want to bring one inside and let its fragrance fill the room.
On a regular basis, around this time - toward evening - I ask myself if I have laughed today. Not just chuckled or snickered, but really laughed. I think perhaps it's the secret - one of them, anyway - to staying healthy. But I feel a little sad tonight, saying goodbye to the longest day of the year. Now each day will become successively shorter and the night will fall more quickly.
Every week I find myself trying to cram more into the days, staying up later and later to finish what I didn't accomplish during daytime hours.
It's not just the days that are getting shorter, but my life ... with so much yet to do; so much to finish. I can see myself when I'm 80 years old, rushing frantically around, trying to accomplish a little bit of everything.
Why, oh, why, don't we believe the "old folks" when they tell us life goes by like a rush of wind?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Children leave home, but not your heart.

On Sunday, June 10, we had a family get together. It's not often that all three kids are here at the same time. Days like these are what I think of as "touchstone" days. It's when you have a safe harbor together, if only for a little while, and you can use the people around you as a basis for comparison; a reference point in your life: This is where I went when I left behind my childhood, my adolescence, my teen years. These were my productions; my unique contributions to the world. These children helped me learn more about the depth of love and the width of sorrow than I ever could have learned alone. When we are together I rejoice in our compatibility and the love we share.
Touchstones set the measure for all subsequent work.
Will I ever do anything more important than the work I did raising children? And did I do as good a job as possible? You would think so if you met my kids ... she said modestly. But of course, like everyone, I made mistakes - big and small.
This month in my altered book/journal my goal was to remember more about the years I was a mother, since all of that happened, really, to another person.
I would do it again if I could. I once heard my sister say that, and my mother, and I wondered at their sanity. Now I know they already knew the secret: Children leave home but not your heart - and certainly not your arms. Our wish to hold them again and smell them, like any mother animal does - our desire to experience the joy and have a chance to correct perceived mistakes - all of that pulls at us. Part of that, of course, may be the desire to be young again and delay our life's mad dash to the finish line.
My kids are accustomed to my "unusual" ideas - like having them sit in my lap for a picture. If you have small children listen to those elderly know-it-alls around you and believe them: Enjoy them while they're young, for the time goes by so fast.
Decide what your own touchstones are and pay attention to them.
(Scroll down for a larger-sized picture of the lap-full of kids.)

















Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Magnolia Tree

It's hardly the magnolia tree's fault, but here it is again ... starting to bloom. Last year at this time Mama was with us, lying in her bed by the window so she could look out at the changing scenery as June brought forth roses and other flowers.
She grew weaker each day, and yet the magnolia tree was in its prime. Older yellowed leaves dropped and buds formed and began to open.
Marvelously big buds that unfurled to reveal thick white petals so fragrant you could smell them from a block away.
We brought some into the front room and put them near Mama's bed so she could enjoy them.
Looking into the center of them, it was like you were looking into the center of the universe, where everything has no beginning and no end.
But endings come. This June there will be plenty of magnolia flowers to perfume our corner of the world.
The most I can hope is that there is a heaven. I can hope Mama can smell the flowers. I can hope she sees this girl of hers down below, thinking of her ... remembering her still and never, ever forgetting.