Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Paint Oaxaca!!! Part 1

I recently returned from a stupendous week in Oaxaca, Mexico with the Paint Oaxaca! group, led by Kathie Vezzani and Ana Elena Martinez.  The teachers were Judy Wise and Katie Kendrick, with a special afternoon's class from our "guest artist," Karen Cole, who was also a member of the group.

Karen Cole sketching at Santo Domingo, Oaxaca
Facade of Santo Domingo de Guzman, Oaxaca
We spend our time making art----painting, making copper repoussé frames, sewing cases to hold out art, making bead and fabric necklaces, cooking, laughing, eating delectable meals, sightseeing, and on and on----and having a wonderful time.  We made new friendships.  We deepened existing friendships.  We learned and shared and were filled up with the beauty of the people of Oaxaca and the lovely landscapes.  And Mexican art, food and music are just the best!

Judy Wise strolling near Santo Domingo

One of the unexpected perks of any Mexican visit, to my mind, is stumbling onto a parade or celebration.  We saw several of theses colorful, loud, exciting gatherings during out time in Oaxaca.  Each one was splendid and happy.  I have no idea what they were celebrating and that didn't matter one whit---I was happy to be part of the audience and share in the fun.


Our happy art tribe

I loved seeing all the lush planters and pots that decorate the streets, shops and homes of Oaxaca.  It was the rainy season during out time there, but I will not complain about warm rain.  We did get caught in a few gully washers, but wading home with your umbrella clutched tightly in hand, was fun and an adventure in and of itself.  A little water does not daunt someone from the Pacific Northwest!

my ex voto painting
In upcoming days I'll post more photos from my wonderful time in Mexico.  I like this trip so much I have signed on for one in Mexico City in March.  And I just had my first Spanish language class last night.  (And oh my goodness, I am not a natural at speaking Spanish.  This is going to be quite a workout for this old brain!)

Saturday, July 05, 2014

A Series of Unfortunate Events....

I had a lovely two day holiday in Iceland.  It was not supposed to be so short, but my traveling companion became ill and, after an over night hospital stay and a day to organize an early return, we flew home.  What I saw in Iceland was gorgeous!  It is a beautiful country, full of lovely, friendly people, expansive vistas, volcanoes, steam vents, waterfalls, Icelandic horses, sheep and lots of baby lambs, beautiful rugged coastlines and fjords and a Viking history so strong you can taste it.

In my very short visit I saw fields of lupine and buttercups.  It was breathtaking.  The waterfalls, each more lovely than the last, are everywhere.  No matter where I pointed my camera I got wonderful shots.

Our bus driver was Olaf, and he was a gentle man and a gentleman.  Lots of smiles, great driving and a pleasant demeanor.  I liked him a lot.

Icelandic poppies were blooming.  I can't say I was surprised to see Icelandic poppies in Iceland, but it still gave me a real thrill.  I grow them in my garden, too.

Boiling hot water bubbles up from the underground all over the country.  And I do mean boiling hot water!  It struck me as rather unnerving to see steam vents releasing clouds of foggy steam in random fields, here and there.  Not a sight I am used to!

There are large numbers of the small, sturdy Icelandic horses.  They are a more common pet in Reykjavik than cats or dogs!

There are beautiful little churches everywhere.

And the coastline is picturesque and pristine.

There are snug little harbors....

 ....and cozy little farmsteads with glacier-topped mountains behind them....

....and fields of wildflowers.  It is so beautiful.

And the lupines.  Fields and flows and drifts and clumps of blue, blue lupine blooming joyously all over the country in June.  I can't wait to be able to return to finish my visit.

When I returned home to face the medical issues with my dear sister-in-law, Nonie, at that already stressful time, my hard drive crashed.  I've just gotten my computer back and reloaded all my files and photos and programs and music and that took days.  It was, as I said, unfortunate.

The upside is that I leave for two weeks on Nantucket with my best friend on Monday morning!  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Baby Hummers!

I have been monitoring the nest outside my bedroom window.  There was Mama, Mrs. Anna Hummer, sitting away on the nest.  The Portuguese Laurel is in bloom now and it makes a lovely screen for the nest.

Mrs. Anna doesn't like me paying attention to her or her nest.  If I bird can give you the stink eye, Mrs. Anna is giving it to me!

 And then, several days ago....little beaks point up out of the nest and no Mama.  She was off gathering nectar for her little ones.  There are just two, I think, as I have never seen more than two beaks.

The little ones are still small enough that the most I can spy from my vantage point is the very top of their little fuzzy heads and their sharp little beaks.  I haven't been able to get a good shot of them being fed, unfortunately.

Mrs. Anna comes and goes, comes and goes, comes and goes.  She must be exhausted but her babies seem to be thriving.  She's a good mother.

I am leaving on a trip to Iceland tomorrow.  My husband will be monitoring the little ones and their devoted mother, but he is unlikely to post any photos.  Too bad for us all!  I would like progress reports but that won't happen!  I hope they are still in the nest when I return.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Edmonds Arts Festival is Next Weekend!

Next weekend is the Edmonds Arts Festival, Father's Day weekend, June 13th through the 15th.  Every year the Festival gets better and better and I know that this year's edition will not disappoint.  There really is something for just about anyone.  Besides three galleries full of juried art (paintings, prints, drawings, photography, glass, jewelry, sculpture, woodwork, ceramics, enamel work and on and on), the Festival offers a variety of art vendors.  You can find everything from paintings, photographs, music, culinary products, leather goods, glass and ceramic wares, clothing, sculpture....the list is varied and extensive.

For those of us who volunteer our time to make the Festival happen, and the entire "show" is a volunteer run enterprise, this week before is exciting.  Yesterday and today the artists who were juried into our three galleries delivered their art to the Frances Anderson Center (700 Main Street in downtown Edmonds --  directions and parking information here), where we hold the Festival each year.
Volunteers waiting to check in juried art in the hallway of the Frances Anderson Center.
Delivered photography waiting to be hung for the show 
Volunteers discussing where the paintings, prints and drawings should be hung in the largest gallery.

Eve and Barbara, two of our faithful volunteers, were waiting for more art to be delivered to the main gallery.  Without volunteers such as these two, long time repeat helpers, the Festival would be impossible to operate.  There are over 500 individual job shifts each year, each filled with amazing volunteers who give generously of their time and energy, to bring this special event to fruition.
Mary and Alice, two more volunteers, who checked in photography for us this year.

Edmonds is blessed with a remarkable group of civic-minded people who give and give and give of their time, volunteering for a myriad of events throughout the year.  This charming couple, Margaret and Mike, not only volunteer for the Festival but also for the Historical Museum and who knows what other organizations are grateful for their generous help?  I know that they have been regular volunteers for longer than I have been involved with the Festival, well over ten years.

We even had specialized volunteers who spend countless hours each year hanging the show in a very short period of time.  They make all the remarkable artwork look even better by displaying it carefully though out the galleries.

Here's Susan, who has worn a number of different volunteer hats over the years.
Where ever you go next weekend at the Festival,  you will see an army of smiling, helpful blue-shirted volunteers who will be happy to direct you to the Kids' Create area, the food vendors, art vendors both above the Library on the Plaza and on the field.  They will point you towards the main stage for a wide variety of live entertainment all weekend long.  They will show you the way to the   beer and wine garden, where you can sit and enjoy an adult beverage.  Don't miss the Festival Store with fun and practical items for sale, including this year's poster by David Marty.  Come see the outstanding artwork of children in the Edmonds School District boundaries in the lower level of the Anderson Center.

Hours are Friday and Saturday, June 13th & 14, 10 AM to 8 PM, and from 10 AM to 6 PM on Father's Day, June 15th.  This remarkable event is free.  Please come spend some time with us---have something to eat, listen to some great music or watch some dancing, take your children to the Kids' Create area and let them participate in the special projects designed for young artists.  Please take a stroll through the Juried Galleries and the Student Art areas and see the creativity and variety of the art on display.  And please remember, should you decide to make a purchase, you will be helping to fund scholarships in the arts, public art and art programs in local schools.  We'd love to share all the fun of the Festival with you!

Please check the website, Edmonds Arts Festival for more information.  City law prohibits any animals except certified service dogs from the Frances Anderson Center grounds.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Summer Grilling Class

Chef Kari Brunson
I've been to The Pantry at Delancey for another class.  This one was taught by Chef Kari Brunson, co-owner of The Juice Box in Seattle.  Again, I was not disappointed!

Kari had us cooking over an apple wood fire and besides all the fun we had doing "camp cooking," the flavor of the smoke imparted to the food was lovely.  I had never grilled with apple wood before.  I will be looking for a source to use at home as I really like the taste.

We grilled burgers that we ground from three types of beef---chuck, brisket and short ribs.  My-oh- my, they were tasty!  Each burger was 8 ounces.  I would have thought that a bit much, but it turned out to be a perfect size when cooked.  We actually weighed each one as we made the patties.  It makes for easier grilling as you know that each patty is the same size and will take (approximately) the same amount of time to cook.

burgers cooking with the stone fruit and limes we used to garnish the pork chops

Also on the menu were grilled pork chops with stone fruits, also grilled.  The pork chops were brined first and then had a delicious spicy rub slathered on them.  They were the best pork chops I have ever eaten.  Ever.

pork chops and watermelon 
The appetizer was grilled watermelon with sea salt and cayenne pepper sprinkled on, to taste.  I would never have thought of grilling watermelon, but it was delicious.  And lo!  The cayenne was an unexpected but lovely flavor amp for the melon.  It worked very well!

Stone fruit and limes, oiled and ready for the grill

We had a grilled salad with lettuces and an anchovy-based dressing.  I ate way too much of the salad. It was savory and smoky, the anchovies undetectable as a fishy flavor but very much there with their umami flavor boosters and the croutons were done by toasting slices of cubed bread and then grinding them finely.  Added at the last minute, the toasted fresh crumbs were a crunchy addition to the salad and you got them in each bite.

Chef Kari directed us gently but wisely to create a meal that any of us could duplicate at home but also a menu that was sophisticated and with unexpected textures and flavors.  She stressed technique and was quick to point out how the different recipes could be adapted for a different grilling method or what substitutions you could make to change the menu, but not the method.  I loved each and every mouthful and was a member of the Clean Plate Club at the end of the evening.