Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Unfurling And Pushing Up

MAY is on its way, and soon these luscious tree peony petals will be layering the sidewalk. This is always a sad moment of spring because I would so like to save all of these pink petals just as they are, so ripe and juicy with this great color. (The branches are over my head, about 6-7 feet tall.)
However, it's never to be. Time cannot stand still for any man ... or any flower. Here they are reaching up into the April sky. Behind them is the copper-topped trellis that supports the clematis. I don't happen to know its name, but I may post a picture of a bloom when it happens. Maybe someone else out there has one and knows the official nomenclature.
It's been cool and rainy and the day is fast approaching - May 1 - when our Disintegration Projects, inspired by Seth, will come in from the weather and submit themselves to our human hands, rather than Mother Nature's. I have been considering what to do with my rotted and withered pages, but have decided "persactly" what to do.
I had a lovely April birthday with these glorious flowers picked from my daughter's own yard. She is now in her "own" first house since she left home and there may be a purchase in the offing. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for her - femminismo
p.s. Speaking of flowers, anyone know what these small yellow daffodil/narcissus crossbreed are? The scent is lovely, like something you'd want to eat!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Painting Paper and Then Cutting "Viewpoints"

AFTER stamping this paper, front and back, Thursday night and Friday morning, I was so pleased with the color combinations I didn't think I would do a thing with them, except maybe inscribe them with a poem throughout.
Then this morning I began arranging them and I wanted to see some of the blue contrasted against the orange and so I got an Exacto knife and began cutting slices of them away. Then I thought, why not cut and bend back a few sections so I can save pieces and see various colors against each other. Then I thought why not keep cutting and see more and more color combinations!?! Voila! Turns out the stamped papers weren't so very precious after all.
So then I started cutting up practically brand-new New Yorkers, which haven't even been read (like that's going to happen any time soon!) and using some of the illustrations to look at through "viewpoints."
Tell me if you can think of things that are more pleasurable than scissors and paste? Well, OK, there's other things, but therapeutic? Oh, my, yes!
Outside the Mister was chopping weeds and I was trying not to feel guilty and I did a pretty good job of it. The Solomon's Seal is shooting from the ground, growing inches in a day. I cannot wait to see the white pendulous bells hanging from its branches.
Remember the brand new gel pens I said I found at Office Depot? Well, I started doodling - inspired I think by Fairy Shoes and Other Things "Arthur Rackham trees." Or another blog? I can't find it now. The blogger was talking about a field in England where certain purple flowers grow, sprouting in fields from the blood of Danes lost in battle. (Wait! I'll google it!) Found this:

The Knights Flower (M. Il-Warda tal-Kavallier) is the name given to the fruit of a wild creeping plant commonly believed to grow between May and September, within Fort St Angelo, and nowhere else. According to tradition, this plant sprang out of the blood shed by the knights in defence of the fort during the Great Siege of 1565. The fruit resembles the eight-pointed cross of the Order of St John, but two of its points on one side are slightly tilted at an angle with their opposite points.

Since classical times there have been numerous metamorphosis stories relating how human beings were transformed into trees. In the story of Polydorus in Virgils Aeneid (Book III, lines 22-68) the tree grows out of the heros tomb. An old French chronicle relates how sweet-smelling roses grew out of the corpses of the fallen Christians, but briars and thorns out of those of the Saracens. (Oh my goodness - my comment on this.)

The flower on the blog looked something like a trillium, but dark purple with a taller stem. Sorry, I don't know whose it was. Well, that's what I get for wandering without leaving bread crumbs - femminismo

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Can't Stay Away From You For Long, Can I?

IT'S THE TRUTH, and I know it. Whenever I get something special in the mail, whenever I create something unusual, I have to share it with you, my beloved blog and blog friends.
I got a birthday card from my friend in eastern Oregon - in Monument. I swore I was going to write to her sooner, and then this card comes and I realize almost an entire year has gone by. I made myself wait for a bit before I opened it, so as to savor the experience, and then I laughed so hard when I opened it and saw this photograph.
This is our 8th grade graduating class from our tiny three-room elementary school. No junior high for us, set apart to distance the genteel village folk from the distracting elements of emerging puberty. Pat said in her card that only two of us looked "normal." I am the goofy one, front and center, and I have no memory of that skirt or blouse. Actually I think the blouse must have been adorable! And the hair looks pretty tame; tamer than it usually was. Pat is in the back on the left. (I think she sees something in my hair. Maybe it's a bug that's crawling down my neck and the photographer told us to hold still.)
Here is the envelope and another official-looking letter I got. Turns out it is official. The auditors at work want to make sure their facts agree with my best estimation of how long I've been working there and when I was born and if my figures of a -32 percent loss on my 401(k) is in line with their tally. Sounds good to me. I thought it was more like -50 percent, but let's keep that quiet in case they double check. Ha ha, boo hoo!
This morning, before I left for work, I had to look twice at the maple tree. A few days ago, nothing; now it's covered with bursts of green waiting to unfurl. (The American elm is first, with no leaves yet, then the maple, then the Sequoia and redwood at back. And the cherry tree dressed in full white blooms.) And since it got so cool last night, the tulips may last a little longer around the "Woman With No Face."
She must be happy about that. And I am too, really, despite being cold.
I stopped at Office Depot tonight and found the coolest folders and gel pens in all colors that I could not resist. And some paper that is pre-punched along one side so it can be turned into a folder with a plastic coil binding. But, first, lots of paint! - femminismo

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day 2009 ... and my thanks to Ma Nature.

WELL, for starters, you're probably wondering how I saved my piece of the Earth today.
The morning began much as any other, except for the bucket I now keep in the shower. I use the gray water that accumulates during my shower to irrigate patches of the yard that get very little water because of the overhanging eaves. So proud of myself! (This is a good incentive.)
Also, while I'm running water, waiting for it to warm up so I can wash my face, I save that water that used to go down the drain. I was amazed how much was wasted. And, I washed out my plastic sandwich baggie to use another time or two. And - well, that's about it for today. Small steps, but they add up.
The Mister was even busier, turning over the earth and adding mushroom compost to what will be our garden spot. You can see our small "potting area." (Euphemism for old picnic table.)
The Mister loves our neighbor's old garage. I sort of like it better when the grape vines grow real tall and disguise it a bit. *Note: I've come back into this post to add this because, after looking at the garden picture, up close it looks as though the fence is falling over. It's not. Not to worry!
We are putting in beans, zucchini, tomatoes and some corn - things we will eat and enjoy. The berry vines, on the posts and wire, produce enough for eating when we're working, or for a small pie when they come on all at once. The only problem with our garden is the lack of sun. Because of the redwood tree to the east and our other neighbor's trees to the west, there's a shorter window of sunshine than we'd like. Well, we shall see what happens.
And last but not least I could not pass by my Disintegration Project without taking a peek. The pages have dried out with the sunny weather we had - which is now gone. It was almost 80 yesterday and then 50 (43 with the wind) today. Brrr! There's a fire in our fireplace and things are cozy.
Well, happy Earth Day, Earth. Even though we treat you badly sometimes, we really do love you - femminismo

Monday, April 20, 2009

I Want More Time! Right Now!

WHEN we first moved into our house, we found the kitchen appliances were practically brand new. They were from the late sixties and we moved in about 1994, but the dishwasher and oven might have been used a dozen times.
Now I think I know why. The retired couple who lived here enjoyed working in the yard, the woodshop, doing crafts and reading: the house was stuffed with book club selections that mostly got sold at the estate sale before we moved in.
The retired couple didn't want to cook or wash dishes. They went out to restaurants and spent their time doing things that were much more fun. (The walls were hung with dozens of decoupaged pieces of wood. Somehow those sold too.)
Tonight, as I faced the choice of preparing dinner or stamping paper with all sorts of paint, I knew where I would rather be!
However, the Mister had worked all day too. I wanted to show you what he accomplished over the weekend. On Saturday, actually, he "lined" - trimmed - the bathroom windowsill with some of the copper he has. It's to match - in material, but not in texture - the copper panels that line the skylight over our as-yet-unused shower.
And TODAY I got "Royal Mail." Rosie sent her Library Card Project and it was so exciting to get it all the way from Leeds. The front and back were decorated. I love it! (The back has a film strip with figures of a man on it, in case you can't see it clearly.)
So now I have gotten nine cards and I don't know about the 10th. I know who has it but I hesitate to ask again because I know from reading their blog, they are a bit overwhelmed right now. I think I will wait and see for a few days and in the meantime prepare the "e-book" of the story and illustrated cards.
I've been having such fun stamping colors on cards and painting some pages in my journal. I have a class coming up May 16, and it's going to be an adventure and lots of fun to take a whole day to experiment with different techniques One Whole Saturday! I can't wait. Even if no one else is there, I'll be having fun - femminismo

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Disintegration Means Being Eaten Too!

BITS NIBBLED AWAY, that's what the slugs were up to during December, January, February and March. Hidden away and protected from the elements, the bundled and tied pages provided some protection from the winter storms - snow, ice, rain, sleet.
Now it's April and I could stand it no longer. I wanted to see what had been happening under my Disintegration Project. You can see by these results that the paper or gesso provided something(s) with quasi-nourishment. Yuck!
There were also bulbs sprouting under the pages and weeds growing, so they needed to be moved and rearranged a bit.
It is lovely to see words glimmering through the thin application of gesso, and a little gross but nevertheless fascinating to see words through the "disintegration."
THE back yard is so full of blooming things: muscari and dandelions, yellow and blue, are an appealing color combination. The muscari are loved more than the dandelions, however. The tulip tree is in full glory, so I climbed a ladder to get some "underbelly" views. You can see our redwood tree through the upper part of the tree. Needless to say, it's been around for quite some time - much longer than any of the other trees or plants. Longer, even, than me!
Last pic: the back of the house through the tulip tree.
We're going to a barbecue today - first of the season, so I'd better go do something related to housework. I already made a batch of cinnamon espresso chocolate chip cookies, which I sampled, and that wasn't necessarily a good idea. Not a bad one either, since I'm buzzing with energy now - femminismo

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Today Is A New Day.

WELL, actually, today is almost over. Only a few more hours here and it will be tomorrow.
But it was a new day today and somehow it finally worked out OK. Some more gloominess today and trying to figure out what is going on. A good cry, some talking, some work in the yard, took some pictures, had a hot shower, then painted some paper.
April is National Poetry Month and I have not honored it here yet - so let's get on with it!

Earth does not understand her child,
Who from the loud gregarious town
Returns, depleted and defiled,
To the still woods, to fling him down.

Earth can not count the sons she bore:
The wounded lynx, the wounded man
Come trailing blood unto her door;
She shelters both as best she can.

But she is early up and out,
To trim the year or strip its bones;
She has no time to stand about
Talking of him in undertones

Who has no aim but to forget,
Be left in peace, be lying thus
For days, for years, for centuries yet,
Unshaven and anonymous;

Who, marked for failure, dulled by grief,
Has traded in his wife and friend
For this warm ledge, this alder leaf:
Comfort that does not comprehend.

I WANT to show you the little book (up above) I made of my papers I painted (last post). There is a special punch and some plastic binders the receptionist at work uses, and she showed me how to operate this and the papers got put together. My friend, JoAnn, said maybe instead of the plastic, use ribbon, yarn or wire. That sounds good, too. Next time.
Tonight I started painting more paper - greens on one side, purple and pink on the other. Does the transfer of the eye detail look familiar? It was on Seth's blog, a detail from an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I believe.
I also took pictures of my Disintegration Project this afternoon as I worked in the garden. I decided to turn over the book pages and allow the back side to get some of the sunshine due in the next few days. AND I couldn't stand giving the slugs refuge for much longer, so they are now g.o.n.e. Pictures of the pages coming soon. May 1 is the day to figure out what to do with them.
And Judy Wise, who attended, taught and learned at Artfest, is doing some self portraits on her blog, and since I like to steal her ideas, I did my own self portrait tonight. I'll leave you with that - femminismo

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring Comes Calling At Last.

SUNDAY was a gloomy day for me. I don't quite know what the reason is for my "downness." Maybe you've noticed there haven't been quite as many posts. I've noticed others post about their bad days and health problems, but I really haven't wanted to do that. But this isn't just a blog for others. This is my journal. This is where I go to when I'm remembering the good times and the bad times.
Even this sunny picture here of the tulip tree in the back yard couldn't quite dispel the darkness.
So, yes, life has been gloomy lately and I've been fighting my own unhappy demons and regrets. But I think this keeps things in perspective. My life - no one's life - is all happy times filled with constantly blooming roses and sun shining in every window. Sometimes there are cobwebs in the corners and ugly little spiders lurking about. Memories come calling and bring with them sorrow and guilt. Time flies by and the calendar pages are ripped off one by one without goals being accomplished.
On Saturday I screamed as loud as I could - twice! I was so frustrated. I drew a picture of myself screaming. I looked mad and frustrated in the picture and you know why? Because I WAS!
(Here's a picture of my faceless lady statue in the back yard. A little blurry, but she's getting surrounded with a tulip uprising and the johnny jumpups are creeping up on her.)
Well, today I don't feel quite so hopeless but I can't tell you why. I didn't sleep well last night. I went to work today and it was a fairly busy day. After work I went to the Nordstrom Rack to return a pair of pants and ended up with another pair, a skirt and two cheap, thin tops I can layer like light underwear that will help keep me warm until summer is here. (I am perpetually cold!) I also bought a new purse. It's green. I'll show a photo of that tomorrow. I really hope this purse works out. Buying purses is sort of like trying to find the perfect babysitter for your children. None of them is ever quite "just right."
And I have more pictures of the papers I've been decorating. Can you find the bird I mentioned in the last post? It was a "happy accident" of the paint brayer.
Tomorrow night I am going to go quite mad with paint and do just gobs of these pieces of paper with all sorts of colors. But now it's almost 10:30 p.m. and our accountant still hasn't called with our tax information, so I'm wondering if we will have to file for an extension? Does this mean more money for Uncle Sam? Drat! I shouldn't have bought that purse - femminismo

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mail Call And I'm So Lucky!

MAIL arrived Friday and one package was the cutest little heart-shaped needle case from Arlene at We are doing a trade for this wonderful item, since I commented on it and then she let me know she was going to send me one! (Yay!)
In the other artistically decorated package was the Library Card Project from Nathalie, so I can put it into a book, and she also sent me some of the many library cards she has - with books and authors and stamped "in" and "out" dates on them. These should be really fun to do projects with.
On Saturday we attended an elaborate Easter egg hunt at my brother's and sister-in-law's house. Their huge back yard was stuffed to the gills with eggs, and plastic baseballs hid in the grass too. I think I might even have seen a football, but I'm not sure.
There were plenty of prizes for everyone - with special goodies for the kids who find the fewest eggs. The bunny, who lives in their back yard, has his own special little house at the base of a tree. The tree is hidden away so he gets his privacy, since I'm sure he was busy behind his little door, working away, preparing to hit other homes today.
Little Bobby, my brother, even had presents for his favorite sisters. He is a dyed-in-the-wool kid and we hope he never grows up.
Today I could no longer withstand the siren call of the paint and the brayer and went out to make a mess, rolling the brayer in acrylic paint and then stamping elongated 30# index card paper with a blue foam block stamp.
I used orange, purple, terra cotta, white, yellow and put them all together. As you can see the back of the cards aren't done yet. I then turned them over, drew squiggly lines with an oil crayon and rolled the brayer through white gesso, more paint. I added orange ... hmm ... then what? Don't know. Yellow? Ochre?
Finally I added some blue stamping to everything (down below).
I would like to bind the cards into a booklet and then decorate the "pages" with whatever comes to hand.
I came up with one magical stamping pattern that looked like a bird's head. So magical what you can "see" when you look at these abstract, randomly produced "paintings." (I don't know if you can find it here or not. The papers are now hanging in a spare room drying throughly before I glue/paint/distress them any further.) I think there might be glitter or some shiny stuff coming along, with text from an old physiology textbook and maybe some letters stamped on top of that.
It felt good to be slopping about in the paint, adding this and that and seeing my hands get all colorful too. Therapeutic is what it was - femminismo

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Three Hundred Twenty-One Posts, Oh My!

CHOOSING sleep, reading a book or blogging, I find myself irresistibly drawn to the computer and recording some words and thoughts here.
The ancient practice of journal writing made more simple - or maybe not. Sizing the photos and then sitting down to complete the task: There's nothing simple here.
But I have some things to show you. I transplanted two miniature roses in the front yard on Monday and it was very, very warm here suddenly. So when I decided to take a break, I got some water, fruit and then checked in the old mail box - the one that sits by the side of our road - not the one on the computer.
And there in the mailbox was my artwork from Seth Apter, the Altered Page guru. I admire his work so much I sent away for some of it and now got to take a break! A cool glass of water, a piece of fruit (yes, that's a pear that's very well traveled on the bumpy road of life) and a package to open is!
I really like the Madonna and child, Seth, and thanks for the wonderful wrapping. I have taken the plastic bag inside and filled it with the string, tissue paper, and some items from my work table and desk. JoAnn, my pal, also donated some great stuff. Now to leave the baggie of stuff somewhere so someone can make a grand art project from the findings. More fun and nothing goes to waste.
I also worked in the back yard at the potting table, and although I think I've done it again and waited too long, I decided to start some globe thistle seeds in peat pots so I can watch them more closely and then just stick the whole thing in the dirt.
At the back of the yard I was leaning over the fence, admiring our neighbor's orchard and the way the sun was setting in the west. The grass is carpeted with white violets - if you click on the sunset photo and look toward the base of the tree on the left you'll see a bed of them. It appears the tree did not fare well during the snow and ice storms this past winter. Oh I love saying that: This PAST winter!
Here is a closeup of some of the white violets that have crept over into our yard. (The purple and white ones cross pollinate (I guess?) and we have lovely light blue and lavender ones.) The Mister is such a sweetheart, since he puts off cutting the grass until the crocus and the violets have had their time.
The soft, warm spring air is full of sweet flying insects and the birds are getting their fill in this pleasant weather. I hope you are happy, safe and content tonight and I hope tomorrow finds you with something to do that makes you feel even more content and pleased with yourself and the world - femminismo

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Spring Is - Incredibly - Really Here.

LIKE a forgotten memory suddenly nudged alive by a quiet reminder, spring has finally arrived. Just when I had begun to think warmth and that certain shade of green in the grass and the riot of birdsong would never come again it's here in abundance.
Whenever I've walked out the front door I've found water all over the stone path and I couldn't figure out why. It wasn't raining. And then I noticed how little water was in the bird bath. Wow! Talk about walking around a Gloomy Gus with my head in the gray clouds.
The cold hard earth is sending up shoots and leaves, and today while I was trimming back the frost-burnt, bent fern to let the new shoots unfurl (say that three times fast) I found other green shoots that indicate the Solomon's seal is well on its way.
The yellow johnny jump-ups are flowering in the back yard and seem to be spreading, which is good news to me. The forsythia, above, and the Oregon grape, at left, have filled in the fence line with yellow and it looks like the cherry tree may be filled with blossoms very soon.
This fine weather couldn't have come at a better time. We'll enjoy it while we can and put some seeds into the earth so on Wednesday, when the rain arrives, it can help us instead of entirely disappointing us.
Here is one last picture of the moon peeking in the sunroom at us while we ate our dinner - femminismo