Thursday, April 30, 2009
I read at "Secret Notebooks..." today (sorry about not being current...I've had a lot on my plate but I am catching up!) about how we don't send letters anymore and how so many of us/you enjoy both sending and receiving letters in the mail. I, too, thoroughly enjoy opening up my mailbox and peeking inside. I am always hoping that there is something really great in there. Most days there is not but every once in awhile I am totally surprised and get the excitement of seeing a familiar handwriting or a colorful envelope with drawings or stickers decorating the outside. Isn't it great how something so simple can satisfy a person's desire? I have to admit that the mailbox is one of my most favorite times of the day. I look forward to arriving at the bottom of the road, key in hand, turning the lock, and looking inside. Maybe it is the element of surprise that I like; maybe it is just the connection.
Speaking of connections: Willow wrote an incredible poem on her blog today and also posted a great photo of my other favorite place: the bathtub. I cannot live without my bathtub. My bathtub not only soothes my body when it is aching, but it also soothes my soul when it needs a deep soak also.
When one of my twins was in college she was a runner on the track team. One night she was out on the levee behind the college, practicing with her identical twin sister, and collapsed. Thank goodness her sister was with her because there was no one around (being evening and summer) when school was not in session. Someone was down in the parking lot and heard my daughter's screams and dialed 911. Thank goodness they were only a few blocks away because when they arrived my daughter was already in distress and the EMT's had to shock her three times to get her back before transporting her to the ER. We received a call from the sheriff's office that she was "code blue" and we flew to the hospital (over an hour away) as fast as we could. A week later we found out that she had something called "Sudden Death in Athlete's Syndrome" and usually it was diagnosed during an autopsy. Thank goodness that was not her. A month later she had open-heart surgery for something that there were only 100 reported cases and very few surgeries ever performed. That has been well over 10 years now and she has had the fortune of marrying a wonderful man, building a wonderful home, and having a wonderful daughter. During that time though, my bathtub was my place of solace. I wrote a poem about my tub after she went home to be on her own. It was hard to let her go and not "mother" her after all that time being at home.
Here is the poem that I wrote:
TIME TO LET GO
I lie in my tub.
Warm water and lavender bubbles seep slowly
Into every pore.
Sky is dark.
Sweet smell of candles in the air.
Clock on the wall
My thoughts turn inward.
Are you doing well
Are you safe?
I should be there with you.
You are alone.
My tub cannot wash the pain away.
Yet, months are carried upward by
The hot wax of the burning candles.
Alone, now, I can only hope that time
Will heal you.
My worries swirl down the drain of the tub.
My thoughts float on the pool of hot wax.
This virtual world of blogging is such a wonderful outlet for all things. We can share our thoughts, our dreams, our neighborhoods, our interests, and our even our sadness. I find that I have so many things in common with people from enjoying the actual mailbox, to yoga, to feeling upset about parents and children, to art and its concept and creation, to food and friends. I am constantly reminded about how small the world really is. It feels so large and many places feel so far away UNTIL I read posts by other bloggers and realize how similar we all are in one way or another. Life is full of mysteries and yet, the more we ask, the more the mysteries become solved. I feel so lucky to be alive and aware of what is around me that should not be taken advantage of. I thank each and every one of you for sharing parts of your lives with me (and others). For me it is like opening up my mailbox each day to a sweet surprise.
"HAPPINESS IS A PERFUME YOU CANNOT POUR ON OTHERS WITHOUT GETTING A FEW DROPS ON YOURSELF". Ralph Waldo Emerson
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
These are pictures of Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe. Isn't it gorgeous? And to think all this beauty is in my backyard! Amazing!
We arrived at South Lake Tahoe on Friday night where we stayed at a house owned by some friends of ours who loaned us (YES---Free) their house for the entire weekend. All they asked for was a good bottle of red wine. How easy was that?! It was such a wonderful weekend where we celebrated with family and friends my birthday and my husband's birthday. I don't think that it could have been any better really. Good food, good friends, good fun and family. And, it helped me keep my mind off the dreaded biopsy on Monday. That, by the way, went fine. Not much pain so that was good. Now, the waiting game. I am crossing my fingers AND my toes.
I am (was) inspired by the beauty that surrounded me all weekend long. There is no way that that kind of art could ever be perfected. Nature has the most incredible eye when it comes to creating something so breath-takingly beautiful. Man cannot improve on what nature does every day of the year in every part of the world. Mother Nature has the most incredible canvas at her disposal, the most incredible palette of colors to choose from, and the most wonderful brushes at her fingertips. I've said it before: I wish that I could take lessons from her. The best I can do is try to put her best works on my camera and share them with all of you. I hope you enjoy her paintings today. She made my birthday (and my husband's) special. And so did everyone I shared it with. Happy Day-of-Birth to me!!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
This wonderful frog painting is a watercolor by a wonderful friend of mine, Robert Berryman. Robert (or Buzz as he is affectionately known to those who love him) studied art at California State University at Sacramento and obtained his Masters Degree in Art. He studied with many teachers there but I have heard him talk more about Joseph Raphael than any other teacher. Robert (Buzz) just so happens to be my daughters' (yes, the apostrophe is in the correct place because I have identical twin daughters who married brothers, if you can believe that!) father-in-law. He lives in Northern California and painting is his passion.
Buzz paints what he feels, what he sees daily, what he lives, and what he remembers from childhood and close family ties. He has a passion for the river where he fishes from his drift boat. The river is deeply embedded in his philosophy for life. I think that it is a metaphor for his life too. He also truly feels the presence of the native people who lived and survived at this river. The Redwoods are some of his closest neighbors. He can sit high atop his perch in the wonderful home he built by hand and view the river below from almost every window in his home. He represents the epitome of a self-made man to me. He only paints what is important to him. It has to hold some aspect that he can clearly identify with in order for it to command his attention. It has to MEAN something to him personally. His surroundings and his home are special to him, as he has a personal attachment to this bit of land since he was a child. His family has been coming to that part of Northern California since he was young (and maybe even before that). So, it is home to him. It represents his essence, his soul, his deepest connection to life and love and to what may come to pass.
This frog was found not far from his home. It reminds him of his childhood and playing with the frogs in the creek that runs to the river. The frog is a symbol of fertility to many cultures. The Romans linked it to Aphrodite. To the Chinese it represented the moon--the lunar yin principle bringing healing and prosperity. The American Indian's believe that the frog connotes renewal, Spring, and fertility. According to "Experiencefestival.com" old dream interpretation books "say that frogs are good omens and represent happiness and great friendships". Frogs also represent transformation of the positive kind.
The painting is surrounded by the Yurok/Tolowa tribe "Frog's Foot" pattern used in their weaving and baskets. In doing so, he surrounded the frog painting itself with a border of the old world that reads "Frogs Foot". Very symbolic. Very deliberate. Always a connection for him to the past, the people, his world and theirs.
I see all of these definitions as being current in his life. He is going through a period of transformation and renewal. In many ways, this is the Spring in his life. He is experiencing healing and happiness and also great friendships. Definitely transformation of the positive kind. He is a true friend to me; not only family. He listens and collaborates with me. He can listen to me "bend his ear" for hours and "hardly" ever complains about it. His philosophy and mine coincide and in so doing, I am able to discuss anything with him and obtain great insight. Sometimes these insights are not even apparent to me until I voice them out loud. Maybe it is the act of being able to voice them that makes them apparent? In many ways, just having a friend who also understands art is a valuable commodity. We have a common ground.
I have been quite absent from doing my blog as of late because I am experiencing my own form of transformation at this point. I have had radioactive iodine tests, ultrasounds, and am currently scheduled for a Fine Needle Biopsy. I can't say that I am not concerned. How can you not be when you don't know what is in store for you? But, in reality, none of us knows and so I am trying to remain positive and feel that I am being guided to do what is the appropriate course of action. I am hoping that this frog brings to me, via email, the Chinese meaning of healing. And, I wouldn't mind some of that prosperity that they talk about too. If the frog doesn't bring me what I hope for, it HAS brought me the best of a good friendship and happiness. And time to reflect.
Thanks to www.secretnotebookswildpages.blogspot.com (one of these days I am going to figure out how to highlight and link these...for now, they don't seem to be working...any advice?) for linking my moss painting. Moss----such soft pillows of green. Yours look like birthday presents all wrapped up, ready to be open. It just so happens that I had a birthday yesterday and I am considering your photos of moss (and my link) a wonderful gift.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Today we woke up and it was only 27 degrees at 7 AM but the weather tonight tells us that it is going to be in the high 80's and maybe even reach the 90's by this weekend. I'm not sure how long all the beautiful Spring flowers will last with the heat wave that is coming. Maybe we will go from Spring directly into Summer. It is a good thing that I was out taking pictures of some of the Spring blossoms before they fade. Mother Nature knows what to do and when to do it. I just have to be at the right place at the right time. One or two weeks early or late and I could miss the whole glorious spectacle.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Oh those strawberries!!! I have some planted in the garden but it is WAY too soon for me. I don't even think that they are flowering yet. But, down the road we have people who park for the day and sell strawberries from their vehicle. They are not locally grown; they most likely come from down in the Sacramento valley or in the adjoining county where it is less mountainous and lower in elevation. But, I cannot wait until the sweet taste of strawberries makes it's (M--should I drop the apostrophe???) way to my mouth. The strawberries in the market LOOK good but they just do not have that "certain something", that sweet scent of Spring, that I am looking for. I always get anxious and I always buy because I am drawn to the LOOK of those strawberries but I am always disappointed. Maybe in a few weeks my mouth will REALLY water with the yummy taste of Spring strawberries.
I just saw a clip from the HBO movie "Grey Gardens" that is due to play this coming weekend. I have always been fascinated with the Kennedy's and it looks to be quite a good "made for TV movie". Thank goodness for HBO. They always take the lead (in my opinion) on making great stuff. Most networks won't even touch the kind of stuff you can view on HBO and I am thankful for their ability to "rock the boat" so to speak. I really love what I see there most of the time.
I didn't get out in my studio today. Had to go and have an ultrasound on my neck. I guess the next step (although I really think it should have been the FIRST step) in diagnosing my thyroid problem. I had wanted to get out there and work on a canvas and just see where it would take me. I had heard of an experiment that some people did where they played certain music the entire time they painted as a way to see if the music would affect what they painted. I know, for myself, that I am less apt to paint if I am in a depressed state of mind but I really wanted to go out there and see just what this recent set-back in my health would do to my art. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow. I am in a better frame of mind today though. I guess I have just given in to "what will be, will be". It doesn't pay to fight it.
Here is a painting that I have been working on for quite some time. It is very small section of moss that I photographed on the edge of a grave stone. I have blown it way up to fit on the canvas and I am enjoying the depths and layers that I am able to paint into it. Many more hours to go...or not! It depends on when I feel that I am finished with it. Sometimes you can take a painting too far and then you can't get back to where you should be. I enjoy the struggle of getting there and seeing the painting come to life.
Spring----------more life to come. Strawberries are just the beginning!
Monday, April 13, 2009
She has learned to do exactly what she likes to do when she paints. She doesn't worry about editing her work because it might not appeal to someone else. She doesn't even ask anyone for suggestions when she paints. She just goes for it and when it is done, she knows. Why can't I get back to where she is? Why can't I listen to my inner child and know when my work is done? I have pieces still sitting, waiting to be "completed".
These past couple of weeks have really been quite trying, health wise. I had a radioactive iodine test on my thyroid last week. It was a two-day test and waited all week for some sort of report. Nothing. Until tonight at 6:30 when a phone call to a friend was interrupted by call waiting. Not exactly what I wanted to hear. The radioactive tests turned out normal but there is an "abnormality" on the left side. So, now further tests consisting of ultrasound and possibly needle biopsy. Not good things to hear. Too many things to worry about. I guess I just have to try and take a queue from Natalie and just relax and go with the flow. After all, there is nothing that worrying will do or not do for me and basically I just have to take everything a step at a time.
Maybe I'll go out into my studio tomorrow and paint a canvas until I know that it is time to stop. Just paint what my heart is telling me. I wonder if I will know when to stop, like Natalie does or if I will over-think my work trying to make it right? Life is funny. Just when you think things are on the right track, an emotional earthquake hits and sets your world spinning. We, as humans, never know just what is around the next corner. I guess the trick is to just put one foot in front of the other and keep taking steps forward.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
This wonderful egg art was done by my granddaughter, Natalie. She is really turning out to love art and because her grandfather on her father's side is an artist and so am I, she has a good chance of having the art "gene". And, funny thing too is that my middle name is Jene, pronounced "gene". This name was given to my mother by her father and not having finished school, he really didn't know how to spell. But, the name has now followed four generations of women: my mother, myself, my daughter, and Natalie.
We are having some rain today, actually LOTS of rain but it is giving all my seeds a really good soaking and they will burst forth as soon as the warm sunshine comes back. This is exactly what they need. I am getting excited though for all the colors to appear. Just like the egg in the picture there are Azaleas ready to show their pinks, reds and whites. There are Forget-Me-Nots ready with blue. The Lilac is just ready to burst! I go out occasionally and check the stems to see just when they will be popping. Oh how I love that color of the Lilac. I have a white one that gave me two (yes...only two) blooms last year so I am anxious to see if it will be splendid this year. I once heard that it takes about seven years after you transplant a Lilac to get a good blush of blooms. And, all those fruit trees! Peaches, grapes, apples, cherries! I can hardly wait. I hope that I can beat the birds this year. Last year a bear came into our yard and ate all the apples. I hope that doesn't happen again. It is scary to see a big bear in your yard unexpectedly. He even managed to come directly up on our deck and stare at me through the sliding glass door.
I'm sure there are really great photos of some incredible painted eggs out there on the web and probably a million different ways to paint, stain, and decorate them too. But, there is nothing that compares to the excitement that an almost-four-year-old gets when she makes (creates) her own work of art for the season.
I think that it is sad that the arts seem to be the first things that are cut out of the school's budgets when there is not enough money to go around. It is a well-known fact that art contributes to all others disciplines in more ways than one. What future artist might we be stunting by not offering the opportunity to create, to explore, to play? Not all children are lucky enough to have parents and grandparents who promote them or better yet: have the money in their own personal budget to buy the supplies required to make art at home. Expensive supplies are not always required but parents also have to have the desire to stimulate their children at home also. My Natalie is lucky to have parents who care deeply for her, as I do.
Here is a drawing of Natalie that I did for a self-published book I wrote and illustrated entitled: Natalie J. Bird---Imagination Way.
Natalie has inspired me in many different ways. She was always curious about her shadow so I decided one day to draw some images of her and write a story about her curiosity about her shadow. It is a very small book but it displays the imagination that she has. She is "my bird". She flies toward the sun and beyond! I am so lucky to have her in my life. We have a special bond. She makes the child in me come out. It's great when a person can learn a thing or two from a young child.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Friday, April 3, 2009
I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes a few years ago and have done all the necessary nutrition classes to learn how I am supposed to eat. I am keeping it at bay, so to speak, because I am not insulin dependent but I have always wanted to return to "before diabetes". Recently, a friend who also has this disease, told me of a book called "Reversing Diabetes" so I ordered it and have read the entire book now and am pondering if I can actually DO what it suggests to get my health back. I have recently lost over 19 lbs. so that has helped but I need to do more.
This diet (I hate to use that word but would rather use the word life-style or eating plan) requires me to become vegan; no meats (that easy to do), no eggs or cheese or milk (not so easy to do). But, I really want to give it a go because I figure "it is only food" (and we know what happens to it 'after') and I would like to have my health back. You can have everything in life but if you haven't got your health, nothing else matters does it?
I saw on "Blue Sky Dreaming" that she had a recipe for tofu. I think I may just have to give it a shot. It looked and sounded good. Like I said, I don't think that it is the meat replaced by soy that I will have a problem with. It is the yummy cheeses and eggs (even egg substitute isn't bad but not allowed on this plan). So, I will be searching out recipes in hopes of finding stuff that still makes me get excited about eating. I love salads and all those great veggies that we who live in California are so lucky to have. And, there are great Farmer's Markets close by. I just need a good nudge I guess. You would think that having a chronic disease would be nudge enough.
Have I told you that I'm a Taurus?? Being stubborn is one of our traits. BUT...that can work FOR me too, right? I can dig my heals in and be stubborn about treating myself to good healthy foods. See...I knew I just needed a good talking to!
QUOTE FROM MY STARBUCK'S COFFEE CUP TODAY:
The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating--in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head the the barrier to your life.
Like I've said before: when the student is ready the teacher appears. You never know where you find the answers you are looking for. Sometimes you just have to open your eyes. Hear that Teri???
Thursday, April 2, 2009
I really found the collages interesting and there are three pages of collages that you can visit and purchase. And... the prices are great! I saw a couple of artists that I am aware of such as Mimi Shapiro and Joan Schulze. Both artists are well-known to me. I own a copy of Joan Schulze's book of quilts that she has made. Her quilts are much in the same vein as her collages. They are quite intricate and layered and she uses photographs that have been processed in some way (scanned to fabric perhaps?) and also uses photographs that she has taken on her many travels and teaching excursions as part of the quilts. I have been an admirer of Joan's art for quite some time. She has a studio space in San Francisco that has a great view of parts of the City by the Bay.
This is a collage that I made for my friend's daughter when she moved in to her new "rustic cottage" in Lafayette. Apparently, the place is in the woods (of the city) and she has had many visitors in the form of insects and birds since she moved in. She has had scorpions and spiders to name a few. So, I made this collage for her last year titled "Where the Wild Things Are".
It was a fun thing to make. It is mounted on heavy gray paper and has assorted fabrics, bug images, bee images, and vellum that have been sewn with thread using my antique Singer sewing machine. I incorporated words such as "Survive this" and a few other smaller things that are hidden and only visible when the viewer gets up close. I like to hide things that not everyone might find upon first inspection of the piece.
I really think that collages are some of my favorite things to make. It is fun to create a story using images from magazines, fabrics, and other items. I think the photo of this is not pure though. The reds seem much darker when you see it in person. Isn't it fun to see what scraps of "stuff" can come together to make? I always find the end of the process to be exciting; to be able to look at something sewn or mounted on paper and remember where it all started: a thought, a picture that sparked an idea, a photo of something that was important (or not).
Leslie gives her own reasons for making art: curiosity, reverence, time, energy, resources, attention, love, respect, connections, looking at things everywhere! It sounds as if we all feel the same way about why we do what we do. I agree with all of you and that is probably why I felt the need to read and follow other people's blogs. For me, even though I don't know any of you, it is the connection that I feel. I don't have to know you to know that all of you feel the same way that I do and that is what makes me feel bonded in some way. Thanks for the inspiration Leslie. Keep up the good work.u, it is the connections that I feel. I don't have to know you to know that you all feel the same way that I do and that is what makes me feel bonded in some way. Thanks for the inspiration Leslie. Keep up the good work!
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
This is a woodblock print that I did of a garden shed. I watercolored the printed image after the ink had dried. I enjoy carving into wood and have also taken wood carving classes. I enjoy making folk art items mostly because you can make mistakes and there is no real way to tell that they are "mistakes". With folk art, rustic or primitive is the "right" way to do things. I think that is what appeals to me about it. The ability to make it my way.
It seems that wood has been on my mind lately since we have been cutting up a few oak trees that split and had to be taken down in front of our house. We are almost done, fortunately, because it is really hard work. We almost have all our firewood for next year already in the woodshed. So, we won't have to work in the stifling hot weather of the summer. That is a really good thing.
Wood is a wonderful medium. I love how resilient it is. There are so many kinds of wood and each has a plus or a minus, depending on what you decide to use it for. Take pine for instance. Pine is great for framing a wall or even using as siding but it has too much pitch to actually use inside a fireplace or a wood stove. Madrone is a beautiful red wood and very hard. We use it inside our wood stove because it burns really hot but it is not a good wood to carve things out of. For carving I like to use bass wood because it is so soft and easy to carve. You can get great details in bass wood. We have redwood on the inside of our house on the walls in the living room. It is kind of dark (which is the negative part) but it is rot and insect resistant (which is the positive side). When I do my woodblock prints I like to use birch plywood. It is soft and easy to carve into and it is light weight also. The grain is tight so it prints on the press easily and sometimes I don't even use a press. I was taught by my Professor in college to "do the mashed potatoes!". Do any of you remember that dance? Well, you just twist and turn and stomp around until the image is printed on the paper. I put mats down to help with the process. I also like to just use a barren and a lot of hard pressing with my hands. I use circular motions and it takes a long time to get the ink to transfer to the paper but there is nothing like a hand-printed woodblock print. Nothing!!
So, this print of the garden shed is hanging on my wall (painted WOOD wall to be exact) and it is something that really speaks to me. I love all the flowers that I carved into it, the vines crawling up the building, the stones leading into the red door, and the trees that break the barrier into the border of the print. It gives the piece some tension and I like to show a bit of tension in my work. I often do something a bit quirky on the margins or at the bottom or top of a piece. There is a lot of thought that goes into the format of a piece no matter what medium I am using.
Making pieces of art takes lot of thought. I would think that most of the time spent on a piece is contemplating the layout, the color choices, the format, the medium, what kind of paper to use, what image to incorporate, etc. I think the actual process usually comes easy once the thought process is clear. The piece usually just flows once all the hard thinking is done. At least that is me. I ponder my art for quite some time. I enjoy the process and I even enjoy the failures. One time (because you have to carve woodblocks in reverse) I carved an entire block and then printed it only to realize that the image I wanted was in reverse. It didn't look bad that way and if I wasn't trying to represent a specific place it wouldn't have even mattered. But, it was for a friend who owns a nursery and flower garden and she would know that everything was reversed. So, back to the drawing (carving) table I had to go. I still have not finished that piece. Sometimes the mistake puts me on hold until I am ready to fix it and start over again.
It is a learning process that's for sure. But, for every mistake I make I probably learn two new things that I can apply later on. And, for me that is what keeps me coming back to it. I love to learn new things. I even went back to college and received my BA in Art late in life. I was 52 when I walked the stage with all the 20 year-olds! And, it didn't bother me at all! I was so proud of myself to accomplish something that I wanted just for me. Some day I am returning to get my Masters Degree. I will never be too old to learn.
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