Saturday, April 30, 2011
Remembering Pepperwood and last summer, when I tromped all around the mountaintops toting my paintbox and related paraphenalia, happy times. Let's see. I had a discussion with my daughter about whether to carry a purse at the WEDDING, and she indicated everything I need will be close by in the little house on the venue property. And then I watched the Royal Wedding, not live, but in retrospect last night, and balled my eyes out, and was hella-happy I ordered a sweet (and unobtrusive) little bag to keep with me, stuffed with Kleenex. Interesting guest list at the big Brit do. Elton John? The Beckhams? And what is it with Victoria Beckham, anyway? She always looks like someone just farted in her face. Must be wonderful to be rich and famous, but does that make her superior to the rest of us? If she were TRULY rich, she would be a lot happier, don't you think? Well, I am happy today. My brother is recovering nicely from his "incident". I am about to mow the lawn, put laundry in the dryer, brush the Pickle, and maybe sew a little. Busy, productive, RICH little life. And I am smiling, too.
Friday, April 29, 2011
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
This is my reference/self-help/spiritual bookshelf. I have spent most of my life trying to figure out what is going on around me. Take my family. I realized that if my folks had not needed to put me on deck now that my brother who drives them around and shops for them is out of commission for a while, I never would have heard about his stroke. That is because it has always been my job to call them and find out what is happening. No one there thinks I am worthy of notifying when an uncle dies, or Mom has to go to emergency after an animal bite. Now, I spent about 35 years believing that I was just always going to be a victim of these really mean-spirited people, the ones that did not visit me in the hospital when I was horridly ill because they don't like hospitals. Loads of therapy and 21 years of recovery have taught me that they are who they are, and wanting them to change just made ME crazy. Hating them made ME unhappy. And if I was a victim, it was of my own thoughts and subsequent feelings and actions. And I made a different decision. I am not nuts. THEY ARE. So I have this mantra. Whenever one of those venomous words drops from my mother's lips, I say to myself "that's not about me". It is about who SHE is and what SHE thinks and what SHE does. And I can walk away, all in one piece, unscathed. Some friends think I shouldn't even visit. I know that if I didn't honor them on the days that are important, and now, in this end time when they are really like baby birds over there, with their mouths open, crying to be fed, I would feel awful, about MYSELF. So I go, over and over again. You know, I have learned that if you are broken, it doesn't matter whether it was at another's hands or your own. You're still broken. Feeling a little cracked at the moment. Thank HP, this, too, shall pass. Soon, I hope.
Crazy time here in the little yellow house. My 66th year, and well aware that my grandfather died suddenly at this age. Of a stroke. So, taking my supplements, exercising, being diligent. And my 63 year old brother had the stroke. Could have been a lot worse. He is already recovering his speech, after just 4 days. And well enough to drive himself home. Gratitude, and it was not a bad thing, when you think about it, a touch on the shoulder, so to speak. Best to know what is happening, and he may actually quit smoking. He is very emotional, not at all himself. That is probably nicotine withdrawal more than anything. Send prayers to dear Richard for a happy recovery, and happier, healthier lifestyle. Hell, we can all use that. So, I stood at the kitchen counter and painted those pears again. Trying lots of different stuff these days, just seeing what's what with these fascinating little sticks of color. Cannot think of a better way to spend a quiet morning.
Monday, April 25, 2011
I got bored this morning. Not a good thing for anyone in the vicinity, and thankfully, that was just the dogs, who cut me a wide berth as long as I put their food down as soon as I hit the kitchen. I yearn for their simple life. Not that mine is all that complex at the moment. I toned my too blond hair again today, and it is mucho improved, on the silver side again. Gee, I should be happy about that. And my refund came from the state, $445. That should have me jumping up and down, and streaking for the door to hit WalMart and stock up on de-wrinkling compounds. Not happening. So I diddled up a couple of pears, my favorite subject ever since I saw a wondrous little painting at Art for Life, and marveled at the simplicity and delight of such a common little fruit. Not unhappy with this, lots of colors there, and some elan, too, I think. Now to sew a couple of runners, and I may be ready for that shopping trip. Or not. Maybe I'm sick. Lack of shopping desire is definitely a symptom of some malaise. Off to take my ABCDE and baby aspirin, just in case.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
My mother sews. Until recently, like since she turned 90, she sewed or knitted most of her own clothes, made pillows and curtains and afghans. She still crochets potholders and sells them at the little consignment shop in her little town for a little bit of $$$. She was a child of the Great Depression. Thriftiness runs in her veins. And she insisted that I know how to do all those things, too. I took a sewing class in 8th grade, and another in high school. And I did some of those things, like make dresses and knit sweaters and afghans, embroidered samplers, made piped chair cushions with matching tie-backs for the kitchen, quilted a wall hanging for over the fireplace, crocheted baby blankets, on and on and on, happy hands at home. That was then. Now, I own this spiffy sewing machine that I purchased from a friend, one after my own heart, who owns the creme de la creme of stuff, and traded up for a spiffier machine that does monogramming and embroidering. This one will do for me. And I am in the process of sewing up 18 table runners for little kiddo's wedding in July. You would have thought I was in the midst of a designer's runway showing, I was in such a tizz about this whole project. First, I couldn't remember how to fill a bobbin or thread the needle. Got out the manual, and was still flummoxed. Dear sewing friend found a video she still had. That helped. I got over it. My next challenge was to buy this folding 6 foot table at Costco, ever so reasonably priced at $50, as these runners are 9 feet long and I wanted to be ever so careful when measuring and cutting them out. I got the table into my cart (hella-heavy, that sucker), and into the car. Where it lived for the next week, as I happily drove it around town. I was in that funk we talked about, and just couldn't get off the launching pad. Finally, I got it into the house, yay. It sat in the corner of the kitchen for another week before I moved furniture around and set about opening it up. It seemed glued shut. Aaaaaarrrrgggh! A friend of the male persuasion stopped by, he opened it up for me, and yesterday, only 3 little days later, I cut out all the runners, and sewed up two of them. Sewed another one this morning. Looks like they will get done, after all. Worried that people would notice my seams are not particularly straight. Then realized, no one will notice these pieces at all if I do them reasonably well. Humility oozing from every pore.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Done with this little ditty, which threatened to never manifest itself at all, and then came together in a way that was kind of interesting. I surprised myself this time, leaving a lot of it kind of indistinct while detailing some of it to within an inch of its life. Basically, I just burned out and said enough. Some ideas work better than others. And I still love the red, because it is gray outside again, and will be for the next few days. Ah, rain like this brings bowers of wildflowers. They are already heaped up by the side of 101, and I know the coast is going to be amazing in May, when I plan on going on the cliff walk with a friend, sit above the amethyst sea and watch the pelicans cruise by. Unless we have another summer of no summer, as we did our first year at the house on the edge of the world, and didn't see the sun for months on end. Without the blue sky, the ocean goes all pewter and sullen. So do I, in fact. So, lots of red, and yellow and blue and well, you can see for yourself. In love with color here.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
When i have been down, as I have been lately, I like to CHANGE something, and that thing I usually change is my hair. And usually, the change is so very subtle, no one but I knows that it is any different. That is not what happened today. I had used just a smidge of a frosting, and it kind of went blond on me, so I decided I had not left it on long enough, and gave it another, more all-over 55 minutes, and wound up with a real mop of yellow blond hair, just what I didn't want. It is a testament to my humility level that I went to the noon meeting like that. When I got home, I tried stipping some of the color out with hot olive oil. No go. So I decided it needed a cut anyway, and headed over to Supercuts where my sweet Jaimie was not too backed up, and hey!, there is a beauty supply place next door. They gave me some good advice, a toner that will take out the brassisness, and here is where we are at the moment. Not as silver as I like it, but you know, I seem to remember that it got that way after I frosted it to begin with, and then swam three or four days a week for a while. And it just so happens I have begun to do that again. I can live with this color for a while. And I can always tone it again, too. I like the idea that there are no mistakes, just lessons to be learned. Check this one off the list.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
My artist-du-jour specializes in portraits, with especial attention to (are you ready for this) hair. Okay, she has a BFA from a prestigious institution, so she must know what she's doing. But a detailed portrait of a woman with hair on the top of her head, and the bottom, where there is usually a mouth and a chin, etc., kind of turns me off. Now, I did pay attention to the hair in this little ditty, so much so that I went back into it because the hair looked kind of flat on one side (sort of like MY hair, actually, which sticks up over my cowlick on the left and lays flat on the right). I did this painting originally just to see if I could do it, then got so into it, I got kind of excited. She is young, and kind of angelic. I think it is that sweet mouth. Okay, the eyes are something, too. This is from my acrylic opus, and a bit of a tribute to Julian Freud in the layers of paint that define the features. I, unlike Julian, do not think my subjects need to uglier than life. It is enough to get a decent likeness to begin with. Anyway, back to the hair. I was surprised and delighted with the way the acrylic let me drag colors over one another without making one amorphous glob, like oils tend to do, so it is perfect for defining hair, which should be diffuse and particular at the same time. And blond hair so lends itself to the medium, as it is so many different shades, from platinum to honey. Sort of like my own as I have reached that stage where red or brunette make me look more prunish than I am comfortable with. My little gal here is all pink and blue and rose. Looking at her after a little while has passed, I am particularly proud of her neck. Lots of definition there. And no one else has to like her for me to be okay with this painting. Planing on framing her, yes I am. If I were really brave, I would put her up for grabs at the Art for Life auction this year. Could happen. No one will be more surprised than I if that happens.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
I just did my zen dishwasher emptying. I get all in the moment, and mindfully put away all those sparkly clean dishes, and wow, what an abundance. Do you think it matters that some of these dishes came from WalMart? No one minds that when I put out little red bowls full of nuts or other tidbits, or make my Country Captain curry or serve Costco cheesecake. And I love all these prosaic little plates and bowls. They came to me since my third divorce, when I divested myself of bunches of stuff I never wanted to see again. Objects, you see, tend to get all bound up in memories and emotions for me. All of these were bought by ME, for ME, because I wanted or needed them. They are like precious jewels, all neatly piled on shelfpaper printed with rosebuds. It is good once in a while to reflect on how sweet my life actually is. Everything I need is here with me in the little yellow house, even a box of those amazing almond butter cookies from TJs. But that's another cupboard entirely!
Monday, April 18, 2011
My artist-du-jour on my home iGoogle page works in neon lights, clever sayings like "trying to live on 14 cents a day". What is that all about? Apparently, that is what you learn in upper-division art classes? You think? It is all very mysterious, this world of creative minds, all colliding with one another. Meanwhile, this is what I did. Lots of color, red because it is still really chilly here in the little yellow house, and all gray outside, too. I better hurry up and finish this opus, as the flowers are just about ready to expire. I used the last piece of Fabiano watercolor paper for this, lots of tooth which meant a lot of working the pigment into all those little nooks and crannies, many, many layers of pigment. Not unhappy at this point, but that usually lasts about 30 seconds, and I am back to HMMMMMMM. Perhaps the problem is trying to get a DRAMATIC study of such a prosaic subject. Can you tell how much I love that little blue pitcher? It has starred in many of my early works as well. It has all these subtle reflections in it. It never lets me down. Oh, I am whacked out on pastel dust. Must cook something hearty and soul-satisfying and settle down to finish my Harry Potter tome, the last in the series, preparation for the final movie coming in July. Cannot tell you how much I enjoyed it this (third) time. Helps that I have the memory of a prawn. Everything old is new again. Always.
I read Atlas Shrugged back in 1964. I was in the process of divorcing my first husband, just 20 years old, and probably not in full possession of my wits at the time. I lived in San Francisco, with 3 or 4 other women, in a 3 bedroom house on Eureka Street, just a couple of blocks from the Castro, which was then just another rundown neighborhood. Every weekday morning, I pulled on my girdle, slipped into witchy pointy-toed heels, and plied Market Street in the 8 Castro bus, if I was early enough, or caught the steetcar coming out of the tunnel at full gallop, if not. City transit riders are a vapid lot. Most sit staring at nothing in particular, patently ignoring anyone in their vicinity. You couldn't smoke on the buses or streetcars. That vexed me. And one day I saw a particularly intelligent looking being reading a book. Well, this was the book I chose to lug with me day after day. It wasn't as big as this version, but a paperback thick as a brick. It took me about six months to slog through the first 400 pages. Then Dagny crashlanded, and it all took off from there. I wore out that first version, and asked for a new one a few years ago for my birthday. I read it again. I am now preparing for a fourth (or fifth, what can I say, its been a long life) trip through Ayn Rand's very opinionated mind. One thing you can say about dear old Ayn; she knew who she was and what she was about. I am still exploring those things myself. I heard someone say on TV the other morning "who do you think you are?". Gee, that's a good question. Meditating on that even as we speak.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Well, I am up. I have perused my summons to jury duty, which tells me the date I am obligated to report, the place, gives me a parking permit and a badge, and informs me of the terms under which I may forsake this privilege. Nowhere does it tell me what TIME to appear. Nor does it give me a phone number to attain this information. Okay, problem solver is engaged. We will figure this out. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my daily art shots, the Artist-du-jour on my homepage, have all been devoid of color. Now, I love color. That is why I picked up the pastels. They exude vibrancy. It is sooooo much fun to just lay more and more pigment on the paper. This is my current oeuvre, which flies in the face of all those others who think life is black and white, or worse, gray. I actually have curtains the color of the background of this picture, and they are behind the little TJ bouquet. Notice that my workspace, like my art, is all-over-the-place. I always start with the sticks all lined up and arranged by color, the whites and grays on top, followed by the yellows, the reds, the blues, the greens, the purples, and last, the earth tones. Then I get going, and in the end, there is this great big pile. Today, I will rearrange it, again. Too much time wasted finding what I need in my hand at the instant I need it. Patience is not my strong suit. And this work is at that "what-was-I-thinking" stage. Don't think it will ever come together. Hope I am wrong.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
I moved the big jellydoughnut dog cushion under my computer desk today because I am about to put up a big folding table in the nook in the kitchen and move the angel table and rocking chairs into the office as I prepare to whip out 18 table runners for kiddo's country wedding. And look! My furry bozos figured it out and happily crawled under there. For about 5 minutes. And notice that, like an old married couple, they are occupying the far reaches of their king-sized doughnut. At this moment, they are both stretched out on the rug, having their post-afternoon-romp nap, to be closely followed by their pre-bedtime nap on the bed, once I move into the bedroom. Ah, the life of Boo and Pickle. And yesterday was Pickle's third birthday. Somehow I thought this milestone would find her more settled-down. Not happening. She just said hello by putting her big feet on my thigh, thus allowing me to pull half a dozen or so leaves, twigs and burrs from her fluffy little self. This is why I keep a doggy brush in the bedside table. Life with the fur people is mighty busy and fine.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
My keys found their way back to me! Here's the story; I went to my noon women's meeting, and we read the 5th step today, about admitting to God, ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. I shared about how disappointed I got with myself in losing my spare set of keys, like I have double-digit sobriety, I should be better than that by now. I really didn't mean to share that, it just kind of came bubbling out. I like to be really candid with the women, who may think that I have attained perfection if I didn't share my shortcomings. Well, I am a legend in my own mind there, I think. Anyway, Lucy came up and asked me if there was an AA chip on my keychain, and did I have a Ford? I left them there last week, and she turned them into the office. Wow, what a blessing. I get to hold onto about $100 that I had already earmarked to replace those suckers. I can stop looking at the ground and behind all the furniture and in the pockets of jackets and pants, even the ones I haven't worn since September. I can move on, to new and bigger problems. Oh, right. There are still problems. Nonetheless, gratitude is all over the place in the little yellow house today.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Well, it's Monday. The garbage guys have been by, several times. The whole house shudders with the noisiness of it all. Sirens. Lots and lots of sirens out there today, reminding me that drama lurks in the side streets, just like it did in the brush at the house on the edge of the world, where the vultures wheeled overhead. I am sick. Not surprising. Much drama happening all around me, and I got really overwhelmed with it, and am now just getting back on my feet, except I just got knocked off them. So that is a big hint to just take care, do what I can, the rest will still be there waiting for me, like the Pickle prints on the tile floor, residual of chasing up and down the fenceline, barking at my neighbor as he hauls his trash barrels up and back the driveway. It never ends, does it. Oh, and I took this prosaic little painting and put it up on the drawing board and livened it up a little. Guess I wasn't feeling particularly brave when I first executed it. Now, anything can happen, and it certainly did. Color, wow.
Sunday, April 10, 2011
There was a moment this morning, late this morning, when I considered not getting up at all. Never mind that it is all sunny and bright outside. It is actually so not warm it is amazing. If it gets over 60 degrees these days, everyone breaks out the shorts and sandals. I was all cocooned in sweats under quilts and the thermal blanket, toasty and basking in the vestige of what must have been a sweet dream. Then I opened my eyes. Bad idea. Both dogs were sitting by my side, hanging over me with that Snoopy intensity, waiting. I flattered myself to believe it wasn't because they were hungry, and indeed, once I stumbled out into the rudeness of 49 degrees, I saw that there was actually some food leftover from yesterday in one of their bowls. Dear creatures, my fur people. So, to reward myself, I made French toast out of my new TJ whole grain sourdough and Greek yogurt, topped with sugarless syrup (not bad at all), and ran a lavender bubble bath. I am now dressed, and that was a major accomplishment. A friend called, and I got to realize this is a difficult time, as a dear friend is passing. That happened several times last year, but every time it was a surprise. There was no time to honor that spirit until it had left the planet. And now, I honor not only my dear one who is fading, but an even dearer spirit who is standing by her side through this sacred time. I hope to be able to visit sometime this week, if she is strong enough, and read to her from Ann LaMott's Traveling Mercies. So much in there to chuckle at, to identify with, to soothe.
On another note, I distracted myself and went to a concert last night. I know that when some folks say "concert", they mean Dave Matthews Band or Lady Gaga. I mean the American Philharmonic Orchestra of Sonoma County, an all volunteer symphony orchestra that gives free concerts. I donated the suggested $20 and felt treated. They played an all American program, beginning with Bernstein's Overture to Candide, Barber's Adagio for Strings, and Copland's Appalachian Spring. Very stirring. After lolling about the lobby during intermission, doing some of Ann LaMott's Butt Mind (comparing my rear end to all the others in the room), we heard Moby Dick, by Bernard Herrman, a little played work for chorus, soloists and orchestra. Of course, the chorus was all male. No chicks aboard the Pequod. Ahab, the baritone, was spectacular. It was a noisy, self-involved piece that was resoundingly well-received. I got to be somewhere else for a couple of happy hours. Thinking I will do some of that today, too. Walk in the neighborhood. Do a pastel of these tulips. Something. Anything.
Friday, April 08, 2011
I seem to have lost my spare set of keys. And how is that a problem, you may well ask. For a normal person, it wouldn't be. For this numbnuts person, BIG TROUBLE. Because it is only a matter of time before I lose the other set, and wind up with no keys at all. Maybe if I don't have a spare set I will be more conscious of where the only set is. You think? Hell, I cannot begin to trust that reasoning. Reason has very little to do with what goes on in the cowwoman's life. Bad news is that replacing the handy-dandy remote thingy alone will cost $80. Apparently this is the sole delight of the dealership. Not even the Geek Squad at Best Buy could help me there, and having a captive consumership, they are not interested in making it affordable. Good news is that dear friend who has been making payments on a painting paid it off last night and I have $90 I did not count on. Bad news is that I didn't plan on spending it to replace something I may or may not ever need. Oh, nuts. I am waiting till Monday to see if those errant keys find their way back to me before heading out to replace them. And praying my solo set do not escape before then. Oh, and the cows are really old, back when I was just getting going in academia and trying stuff. I've always loved them. Today, they are my symbol of things coming home.
Thursday, April 07, 2011
Must hide this under something. Otherwise, every time I walk by, there will be more to do on it. It is fun and bright and okay exactly as it is. Just like me. Oh, I work on improving me, too. Not as easy as working on a painting, though. Life has marched on, and a whole bunch of it marched across my face. Winter came back today, and, once again, I am chilled to the bone. Planning on just bundling up under lots of covers and being a slug for a few happy hours before I have to get up and do it again.
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
Here is current oeuvre, still loosey-goosey and all over the place, could be done, maybe not. This one taught me a lot about layering the colors, and not worrying about anything. Nothing. Nada. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. I am working away furiously, praying every moment for my dear friend as she bravely leaves the planet. Hope I can be as courageous when it is my time to dance with the angels. And I love this happy mess. Kind of mirrors what's going on inside the cowwoman today.
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
I started a new pastel, after a lovely mile and a half walk to the art supply store, where they were having a dandy sale on pastels, normally $5.50 a stick, now only $2.99. Just couldn't get any better. I picked up yet another white, an off white, a couple of yellows, a pale blue that is not on the turquoise side, stuff that will give a little pizzazz on top of other pigments. And then I spent a happy hour doing this mess, which I sort of walked away from, thinking WHAT WAS I THINKING, then looked at again and saw that the rudiments are coming up quite nicely, after all. It is destined to be quite loose, not a bad thing, and I will be needing stuff to keep me busy indoors because my 4 day forecast says it is going to be winter again for the next few days, with thunder and lightening, even. Okay. I can handle that. I can close all the windows that are now open to catch the warm afternoon breeze, and spread the newly-laundered towels on the rug in the backroom again to attempt to catch the dog's dirtiness before they disseminate it all over the frigging house. Aaaaarrghh! Couldn't it just stay SPRING for a while? Strange days in the little yellow house. And, with all this beginning, a dear friend is in the end days of her waltz with cancer. Four years of discipline and protocols kept her with us, even though she had stage four ovarian cancer when first diagnosed. I am watching her do it her way, preferring to be at home, where she is most comfortable and not in danger of being hooked up to a machine because her girls feel guilty. Hospice visits daily, bring nurses and spiritual moments of meditation. This is one shining soul. Perhaps this will be my homage to her spirit. We spent many happy moments together, my friend and I. And love given is never lost. She will live in me as long as I am in the world, for sure.
Sunday, April 03, 2011
I just paid my taxes. Yes, I owe. I never have enough deducted. Why give them more than they deserve, let them keep it a whole year, then futz around for six weeks before refunding it? Unfortunately, however, I way underdeducted this year, and owe a bunch. Which is okay, because the state owes me. I will be adjusting the withholding, soon. It is good that there is always enough to render my pound of flesh to the powers that be. And, thank HP, that is over for another year. Meanwhile, rolling around in the spring weather, loving the roses coming up in the backyard. I figured out I could take just one dog at a time on my walks through the neighborhood, sort of Mommy and Me time, one on one. Together, they are impossible. Boo poops along at his little old man pace, getting slower and slower as we progress, while Pickle leaps out ahead, straining and coughing, even though she has a nifty harness instead of a collar. Ah, life's little challenges. Just thinking ahead of the dogs is a trial these days.