Friday, September 01, 2006

Lamenting Summer

I have no idea where the summer went. Here it is, the first of September, Don't birthday just next weekend, and I don't honestly feel like I had any summer at all. Annie and Alex were here the first two weeks in August, and it was heaven, but how on earth could that have been two whole weeks? It seems like they came, they were here about sixteen minutes and then---POOF!--they were gone. Chris was here for five days, at the end of the visit, and that seemed like only a moment. ZAP! Gone. I loved having Annie, Chris and Alex here so much. Having a baby around, all the stuff that a baby requires, made the whole house feel lived in and used and full of family and love. It was heaven. Now I'm really looking forward to Jennie's visit in November for Connie's birthday.

It seems like the Arts Festival was over last week but already I have attened two meetings for next year's, our 50th, festival. I was present at my first executive board meeting as a member at large. I was glad to be included and hope that I will have some good ideas for the board in general. It's a new job, one I've never held before, so I'm still sort of feeling my way. We also had the retreat last Saturday. Susan and I thought, all in all, it went well. There are always things with which you could quibble, but it ended on time (!!!) and we covered most of what was on the agenda. A four hour retreat is fine by me! Susan and I need to start designing the "Save the Date" idea we have so we can present it to the board and get going on it. We'd like to be able to use the magnets, or whatever it ultimately will be (a postcard with a magnet?) all year long, so we'd best get moving.

I had a bit of a disaster at Grant Creek, that would have been MUCH worse. I got up last Monday morning and walked out through the dining room on my way to the deck to admire the view when I squished through the carpeting. Squishing through carpeting is never a good thing. I could not figure out where the water was coming from as there was nothing on the kitchen floor. I finally tracked it down to the reverse osmosis unit under the sink. I figured out how to turn it off and called a plumber. It took him six minutes (total) and $166 to tell me that it was caused by a sticker blocking the drain in the unit. That sticker must have been on or in the unit, since it was installed, and finally loosened over the years. I don't know how bad it might have been had I not been there that Monday morning. I guess I should be thankful I had wasps nesting in the ventilators on the roof and so had to say over an extra night to wait for the exterminator! I shudder to think what it would have been had I not caught it in time. As it was, I think the carpet was about 80% dry by the time I left Monday night--wasp free.

Nonie and I had a fun Sunday in La Conner. We hadn't been up there in well over a year, so it was really fun to go to Bunnies by the Bay and see all the changes there. I bought a lot of things for Emma for Christmas, some books for both the girls, a gift for Annie for Christmas (not that dumb, Annie, I know you read this blog!!! HA! Foiled again!) and an antique Chinese baby hat. Now I have one for each of the girls. Someday maybe I'll pass them on to them, but for now, they are mine and whenever my eye falls on them in my bedroom, I think of my little grandbabies and smile. Ah. Oh, back to La Conner. There is a little steam-driven launch operating tours there now, called the La Conner Belle, I think. We took the last tour of the day, for a measly $10, and had the time of our lives. The launch was surprisingly quiet. I don't know why I expected it to be so much louder, but it was very quiet. We saw a harbor seal and several herons fishing along the shoreline. The captain took us south down the channel and out into the bay, through Hole in the Wall. I had never been down the channel before so that was fun. Surprisingly echo-y under the Rainbow Bridge. We passed by a falling down group of buildings along the shore that used to be a boat building business. It's very interesting and looks rather like a skeleton of a building. The captain said he thought it would make a good painting and I have to agree! I may try it myself sometime. That was about the best $10 I have ever spent on entertainment. It was a perfect day, too....sunny and warm, late afternoon light twinkling off the water, but not too hot and not too crowded in the channel that late in the afternoon. After our boat ride we had dinner at what used to be Palmer's but is now Nell Something. Good food but crummy service. Too bad. Lousy service ruins even the best food.

I received a very nice email from Janie P who said she really liked my mermaid carving for my ATC contribution to the By the Sea trade and wanted to know if I wanted to be part of a swap! What a lovely, unexpected gift to find in my inbox. She is quite an active carver, I understand. She said she and her sister both are contributors to a Carvers Consortioum, whatever that is. I did write her back and say I'd love to be in a swap, but what was a Carver's Consortium, etc. Anyway, it was so nice to have someone write and say she liked my little cards. She also has my Wingin' It card from ArtFest. Her ATC for the By the Sea book is wonderful. It's taken from Mayumi Oda's Sea Goddess woodblock print and her adaptation is lyrical and flowing. She used cobalt ink on a white card, so it is very reminiscent of Japanese ceramics. Someone she has a lovely plastic glossy layer overtop that adds a twinkle that seems like water. It's a very sophisticated card and I love it. It's very flattering to have someone with so much talent compliment me on my first attempts at carving. I feel like a cat with a mouthful of canary feathers....silly but satisfied!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Catch Up

It's been a busy month. I went to Vancouver Island for the 2006 An Artists' Retreat with Anna Rhodes on the 13th. I took the Coho from Port Angeles. That's the first time I have gone up to Vancouver Island via the Black Ball Ferry and it worked out really well. I allowed more than enough time to get to Port Angeles by leaving Edmonds on the 7:10 AM ferry, however, and must make a note to myself that if I go via PA next time that I don't need to be quite so early! The Coho is fun, even though I would have enjoyed the crossing more had there been a little cafe or cafeteria or something. I didn't realize that I would be unable to get some lunch on the boat so by the time dinner rolled around at Sooke, I was starving. The photo that opens this entry is of the mooring lines laid out neatly on the deck of the Coho.

I was surprised at how quickly I got to Sooke. I drove right to Sooke Harbour House, not even making one wrong turn. Victoria has more mid-afternoon traffic than one might expect, so it did take longer to get out of Victoria proper than anticipated, but the rest of the trip was quick and uneventful. It's a pretty drive, too. Sooke Harbour House is just as I'd remembered it. It's such a pretty place and the gardens and the situation of the Inn are stunning. I love it that Whiffen Spit is right there, at the end of the road, and it's such a nice walk out to the end and back. The beach is not the best for 'picking', as Nonie would say, but I still managed to find a few Chinese hats and a piece of broken crockery that I know came from a TG Greene mixing bowl. I have the very same one in the cupboard at Grant Creek!

We had been given the Events Pavilion at Sooke Harbour House for our painting/art space, although we did have to clear it all away on Friday night and reassemble it again on Sunday, as there was a wedding there on Saturday. I liked painting there a lot. We each had a big, round table of our own, for all our supplies and papers and such. Anna had constructed the most amazing 'alter' in the center of the Pavilion with a huge flower arrangement, fruits and veggies, candles, sea stars, shells, wooden drawing models (those pose-able little wooden men thingies), ribbons and little books and art works. It was stunningly beautiful and inspiring and centered the whole space---gave it weight, I guess, is the best way to say it. Anna likes to have drama in her spaces and it has the effect of making you feel you are somewhere special and safe and almost sacred. I love her attention to detail and the whole environment she creates for her classes. What's even more fun is that she lives that way, too. Her whole house seems like one of her elaborate alters, with flowers and art and objects, books and glass and candles....even the way she displays her French knives on the chopping board in the kitchen has drama and snap.

Anna, Frederique Philip and Frederique's daughter

Saturday we moved our location to Frederique and Sinclair Philip's home, just a few minutes drive away in Sooke Harbour. They have a lovely home just west of the commercial dock in Sooke and the view across to East Sooke was beautiful. The Olympics were visible to the south, too, across the Strait. We spent the whole day there. Our assignment was visionary landscapes. I really enjoyed myself and had lots of fun doing three little caran d'arche drawings. Two were of the view across to East Sooke, one much more realistic than the other, and the third was my impression of snorkeling in Tahiti (sans glasses!). I was happy with my work and enjoyed being on the deck of the Philip's house. We had a yummy lunch---wonderful wraps from the Sooke Harbour House kitchen and lots of fresh fruits. Heaven. The weather was wonderful, too. Sunny and hot, but not too hot.

Sunday was oil portraiture day. I did another of Xenia Hausner's women. This one is younger, happier and not nearly as self-possessed as the last two I've done. I really enjoyed the process although I did hit a wall in the mid-afternoon where I had no idea at all how to proceed or what I was trying to do. I got through it but found it to be rather a scary feeling. I've never had that happen to me before. We had some wonderful things come out of the portraits on Sunday. I think everyone got, at least, a great start on their portrait. I have almost finished mine. I had to do quite a bit of work on it here at home, and only have some background work left to do that I'm unhappy with at this point. I think she might be very nice hung downstairs....

It was a great retreat and I'm so glad I got to go again. I am amazed that Anna was able to pull it all together since we had to change the venue at the very last minute because of Will's illness. It was a huge job to move all the supplies from The Hawthorne to Sooke Harbour House. We couldn't have had the retreat without all the help from Frederique. She's a wonderful lady and I am very glad I got to meet her and have the chance to get to know her a little. Now there's another lady with huge personal style and a very real flair for Drama!

After the retreat ended on Monday afternoon I headed back to Victoria. I spent the night at the Laurel Point Inn, in the very same room that Nonie and I shared last summer when we were up in Victoria for the Tall Ships Festival. Wonderful view and very expansive deck. I spent some great R&R time on the deck, soaking up the sun and the view and doing a little reading. On Tuesday I got up, packed up, headed out and walked nine miles by 4:30 when I had to move the car into the line for the 7:30 sailing of the Coho to PA. I set off, with a breakfast stop at Murchie's (tea and a croissant), then went up Fort Street looking in the antique shops that caught my eye. Romanoff's didn't have anything I had to bring home this time, so I guess I saved myself a bundle there! I went on to the Museum of Greater Victoria (at Moss Street) and saw the Group of Seven Sketches show. Amazing! I am such a huge fan of JEH MacDonald's and there were three of his oils on board that I could really study up close. All the work was fascinating. There is a permanent collection of quite a few of Emily Carr's paintings there, too, so I got to see those too. (I stayed in the Emily Carr room at Sooke!) There was also a show of Japanese wood block prints that was outstanding. From the museum I walked down to the Emily Carr House. It was fun to take the tour and see not only the house where she was raised (including the grape vine her father tended lovingly and named Isabella) but the House of All Sorts, that was just around the corner on Simcoe street. I have always wanted to see the Emily Carr House, so that was great fun for me. I managed to get some Victoria Cremes to take home to Nonie, who loves them so, and to buy about $250 worth of books at Munro's. They had a great book of paintings by JEH MacDonald from Lake O'Hara. I read that completely before the Coho sailed on Tuesday night! Made me mightily homesick for O'Hara.

Since returning home I have been getting ready for Annie and Alex's visit. They arrive tonight and I can't wait. I have agreed to be a member-at-large on the EAF executive board for next year. I hope I haven't shot myself in the foot by agreeing to do that! Sue J., the incoming president, swears that all it will mean is a few more meetings for me to attend. I sure hope she's telling me the truth!

LIFE IS GOOD. My children are well and happy, my husband is well and happy, my friends seem to be healthy, happy and occupied with activities that please them and it's summer. What a truly lucky woman I am.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Day at the Beach with Emma

Kellie and Emma came over today and we went to the beach. It was a very low tide and we were there to enjoy all the sealife that is usually under water. There were many sea stars and urchins, a tidal pool was full of fish (baby bullheads?) and the sand was scattered with moon snail collars. There was lots of seaweed, too, and Emma surprised me by being willing to wade through quite a deep patch of it barefoot. It came up to mid-calf on her, but she was game and seemed to enjoy the seaweed squishing between her toes. She buried the bag of ducks in the sand, I buried her feet, we buried Kellie's feet and a fine time was had by all. The most amazing thing was that both Kellie and I forgot to bring our cameras! So, no pictures of Emma. Boo hoo. I'm a bad grandma to forget the camera! I have posted a few photos I took a couple of weeks ago during an equally low tide. But how I wish I had a picture of Emma and the multi-legged sea star! Next time I'll remember.

I get to babysit tomorrow. It's a lucky day for me.

Connie leaves tomorrow night for the state shoot. He'll be down in Centralia for the weekend. I hope he does really well. I leave for Vancouver Island and my retreat on Thursday morning. I need to catch the 7:10 ferry. I have to be at the Black Ball dock in PA by 11:15. I told Anna I should be out at Sooke about 3 or so. The car is stuffed with her art supplies. Hope I don't have any problem with customs! All of it is coming back with me again, so it shouldn't be a problem. I am so excited about this retreat. I only wish I was up to date with my personal journal. Must work on that as time allows tonight and tomorrow. Maybe I should take it when I babysit in case Emma is napping? That's a thought.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Big Day in Edmonds

Nonie's real estate agent called last night and arranged to show her a condo today. The long and short of it is...she made an offer. The offer has been accepted, pending financing. Nonie will have to make arrangements tomorrow with Tom, but it looks like a done deal. The price was right, the location was more than right, there is enough storage for even all of Nonie's boxes and treasures and the view is stunning. She wants to be closer to her family and we are certainly all down in this neck of the woods, not up north where she is all alone. Since she's retired, for all intents and purposes, it seems like the right time and the right thing for her to do. Please keep your fingers crossed for her. It's everything she wanted, and more.

The shoe photo that opens this addition is something I did at Anna's, the last time class met. We spent most of the day doing drawings of shoes. Anna had each of us bring at least one pair of shoes, and she added quite a few of her own so we had quite a collection from which to choose. I had gotten rather bored with repeated attempts at drawing the shoes with graphite sticks so when we switched to Caran d'Arche watercolor crayons I was much happier. It was a very hot afternoon and we were working in Anna's backyard and my crayons began to melt and fall apart in my hands as I used them. Instead of getting frustrated and anal, which would be my usual response when my tools weren't working properly, I just went with it and worked very fast and very loose. I am quite pleased with the result. I find that they look more like Dutch wooden shoes to me than the Moroccan slippers they really are, but since I was at Anna's and Will's presence is so strong there now, perhaps I was feelilng Will more than I realized.

Still waiting for all the tests to be done on Will at the medical center in Kelowna. Once the results are in I gather that a decision about treatment options can be made. At least Will seems to be feeling very positive. Bernice is holding up well, too. I am keeping them in my heart. What a sad, sad thing this cancer diagnosis is. As it always is, for anyone.

I did a little six by six portrait last weekend while I was up at Grant Creek. It was fun and I'm (moslty) happy with the results. Fun to do and fast. Well, fast for me. It took the better part of a day, I guess, spread out over two days of actual painting. I am still fine tuning it, but it's pretty much done. It amazes me that I can do this. As Connie keeps saying, "Who knew?" Who knew, indeed!
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Monday, June 26, 2006

Life After the Festival

Posted by Picasa I survived the festival. I didn't mess up too many things. There were volunteers in places that needed volunteers, usually in numbers sufficient to handle the job. People seemed to be having a good time and a few even said they were having fun and would be back to volunteer next year. I didn't get any really negative feedback about anything over which I have control. Susan P is coming on board with me as co-director for the 2007 festival, our 50th Anniversary year. It'll be great to have here with me as she could do this job blindfolded and tied up but she'll let me think I am doing some of it and she will share in the worry as well as the glory (??). Besides, she's fun! I have written all the thank yous I needed to send and have only to write up my report (two copies, please) to turn in for the wrap-up meeting Wednesday and then I can put the festival away for two months and recharge.

I miss my grandbabies. I miss my family. I have been eating, sleeping (sort of sleeping....) and breathing this silly festival for so long that everything else has fallen between the cracks. I have weeds in my front yard as tall as I am and they are threatening to crowd out my beautiful lilies that are just starting to open. I haven't seen Emma, except for a quick minute the first day of the festival when she cam by with her mother and other grandmother to say hello, in ages. She is growing up and I'm not there to enjoy it or be a part of it. Waaaah! That will change. Now.

Alex had her eye surgery in early June and while it is still really too early to be sure of how well it went, I can't say I was unhappy to hear she was, once again, in her glasses and eye patch. She is just so dang cute in her little pink glasses. There is something about an adorable little girl in pink glasses that just seems right. Of course, everyone in the family wears or has worn glasses, so they seem like a normal thing to me. But she is especially adorable in hers. I should be wishing they were a thing of the past, but in my heart of hearts I'm glad she's still wearing them. If you doubt me, see below and judge for yourself!
Posted by Picasa Jen had a good trip to London and Paris and came home with some fantastic photos. Frankly all the photos she posted to the web were fantastic. She has an amazing eye and a unique style of her own. You could take all of her shots and publish them into a beautiful coffee table book just as they are, and I'm sure it would be a top seller. I'm green with envy.

Connie had a good trip to visit with Annie. He helped build her pergola in the backyard and had fun trying to teach Alex to crawl. Apparently she's close to crawling but hasn't yet gotten the leg and arm thing coordinated enough to really start moving. Both Connie and I think Annie and Chris have had it quiet enough for long enough and now it's time for them to start running all day, every day, after Alex. Yes, I know we are mean. That's what grandparents are for. Payback is sweeeeeeeeet.

Annie and Alex will be here 1 August for a two week visit. Chris will join them for the end of the stay, so we get to have the whole family with us for a bit. I can't wait!

I had one day of painting at Anna's last Saturday but life got in the way on Sunday and I had to cancel. I was working on a painting of shoes, really Moroccan slippers, that somehow morphed into more like Dutch wooden shoes as the day progressed. I guess Will was greatly on my mind that day. "They" say you paint what you have in your heart and I surely do have Will and Bernice in my heart these days, so maybe it's true. I didn't get to finish the painting but I got a good start on it. It was really odd to be using my Caron d'Arche sticks outside as they were melting and kept breaking off in my hands. I hadn't brought my paints box so I had to rely on the crayons entirely to do the painting. I had technicolor hands by the time I had to leave! I will have to go back and pick up the painting and some supplies for Anna in the next week or so, as I have promised to haul what I can fit into my car up to Sooke Harbour House for the retreat next month. It's going to be much (MUCH) more expensive than anyone had planned now that we can't go to The Hawthorn because of Will's illness, but Sooke Harbour House is so beautiful and it's such an inspiring place that I really don't begrudge the money I'll have to spend. I do love it there.

Well. I feel better. I still have days and weeks and months of writing to do in my journal to catch up but I guess there is time enough for that in the coming weeks. Got to get that report done first. Then, I'm free!!!!
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Monday, June 05, 2006

Ten Days and Counting

I got my crow platter back from the ceramic painting store and I am quite pleased with the results. The crows look pretty good and I didn't get any chipping when I did the sgriffito technique. Now I think I'll try the same design on some other items. Maybe a vase, maybe a big mug. Something....

The arts festival starts in TEN DAYS. And today I found out I have a voice mail box other than the box I'd been told about and had never had a message in....and guess what? Yep. Four messages and who knows how many I've already missed that have been deleted for just sitting there...unheard, unanswered, unloved? I feel awful but I didn't know! Now, one more thing to do each day. At least I managed to salvage a good lead for the children's area. Jeremy came through with a windfall of volunteers for Thursday, set up day. He wrote and asked if we could use about sixty volunteers? Well, ah.....gee....YES. If we can get a few of them to show up at 7 am Chris will have all the help she needs to get the field organized and a good, efficient unload for the artists rolling. Wouldn't that be sweet? some things seem to be so much better, others seem so much worse. It's just an on-going nightmare and I won't be able to wake up from this one for about two weeks! Aaaargh!

I will not go on and on with this feckless whining, but it's getting bad and will only get worse. Signing on for this job proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am incurably insane.

I did get to play over the weekend. It was so wonderful! Nonie and I took old Red Truck for a spin on Saturday, got the old crankcase fluids and oil pumping and flowing, showed off the elegantly dusty ratty paint job and had a good time doing it. We 'dined' at Haggens in Arlington. The sushi wasn't bad and Nonie seemed to like the honey glazed chicken and fried rice. The price was surely right, too. We were so lazy we didn't even go for a walk, although I will admit that the best weather we had all weekend was while we were driving around in Old Red. It poured most of the day yesterday and I got drenched while planting one tomato, three thyme plants and a couple of geraniums. At least no one need worry about watering up there for a while!

Annie reported that Alex was sick over the weekend but has made a full recovery, even if there is a slight lingering cough. At least she won't have to have her eye surgery postponed because of illness. That's scheduled for Thursday.

Tomorrow night we are having a family dinner at Giraldi's for Kellie's birthday. Eunice, Nonie, Don and Kellie, Emma and the old grandparents will all be in attendance. I am looking forward to having us all together for a nice meal that I don't have to fix. I don't have the time or energy (not to mention a house that is decent enough to let folks into!) to cook a dinner right now. Rune is coming over tonight for supper and the poor guy is getting hot dogs and chili! I know that'll please Connie, but I'm not too sure about Rune.

I have accomplished one page this weekend for my art journal and also did a bit of sketching. The journal page took an odd turn. The prompt was "Pink and orange are the navy blue of India" and I rather thought I'd have a bright, happy page to show for my efforts. But, no. I somehow got to thinking about all the poor girls who are burned to death because they didn't bring a big enough dowry in the opinion of their husbands families. I thought about all the women who comitted sati. I kept thinking "women as fuel" and it was very depressing. So the page took a dark turn and I smacked on my handpring right in the middle and cut out two little hands that I used as a border design. I found a poem about sati on the internet, and while it's not my feelings on the subject of ritual (usually enforced) suicide of a widow, it is an opinion that many women may have had, so I used it. Not the cheey page I invisioned. But that's the joy of doing something like this---you can let it lead you where it may.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Four and 20

I finally found some time to do a page for my art journal. The prompt for this week is "birds" and that is a subject I love. I'd seen a plate on the wall in a photo in an English home and garden magazine that had crows (or maybe blackbirds?) and pears on a big round charger. It was hung over an Aga, which is probably why I picked out this tiny little detail in a rather wide angle photo of a kitchen. (Cool kitchen, by the way....very English and very cool.) I really liked the charger and wished I had one. It occurred to me....duh.....that painting ceramic bisque is a skill I have mastered to some degree, and this was a project clearly within my abilities. I don't have a big charger or a platter or even a plate that was large enough for the design I visualized, so I went over to the local contemporary ceramic studio and found just what I wanted. It's a long, rectangular platter and would look well hung on the wall over the arch to the breakfast room here in Edmonds or it would look equally nice up at Grant Creek, somewhere near my Aga. I worked out a design of three crows, loosely based on the birds in the photo (what I could see of them....very small in the photo and a big glare off the plate, hiding about a quarter of the design). I like my birdies. They are sort of cool and they march along the platter, looking very crow-ish. I painted it and then used sgraffito to add some detail. The platter should be fired and ready to pick up on Tuesday. (I feel rather like I'm hauling coals to Newcastle here, but I didn't have the bisque blank and I don't want to fire the kiln for one platter!) Since I had these nice crows all drawn out, I decided this evening to do a page for the art journal using the same birds. I like how it turned out. My pages are certainly different from the style of the others in my art journal group, but I am getting some good technique ideas from them and their pages, and factoring it through my own working style. Can't say if anyone else cares for my pages, but some of them are pleasing me and some of them were failures but all of them were fun to do. And that's the point.

The garden is lush and lovely right now. Full of weeds, too, but the rhodies are blooming and the hostas are huge and green and the pots on the patio are full of blooms of all color, so they weeds go unnoticed...I hope. The white clematis in the back garden is blooming like crazy and the flowers are nearly as large as a dinner plate. They take my breath away. Both the cats are spending most of each day outside, unless it's raining. Then they sit inside and look out the patio door. They do like their deck time in the sun. Lazy sods.

Tomorrow I have to work the Market from 9 to noon. This is another drive to sign up new volunteers for the Festival. I hope everyone who signed up to work shows up. I am only going to do the first shift and then I'm off to Grant Creek for the remainder of the Memorial Day Weekend. Nonie is joining me up there tomorrow mid-afternoon, so I hope not to get held up in town. I do have to stop and do the grocery shopping, so that's more time before I get to my snug little place overlooking the Stilly. I yearn to be there now. Patience is hard. Very hard!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Letter Y

It rained all day today. A soaking rain, a cold rain---and it was so dark at noon that I had to have the lights on inside the house. I decided it was the day for me to pull out my page for the TTM Thank You book and get it finished. I had already completed the letter "Y" that was my assigned letter by using the repousse technique that I learned in Beckah Krahula's three day workshop at ArtFest. I liked how it turned out and thought that the letter design lent itself to a three dimensional format. I didn't like the silver color, however, so I used my copper paint and then a patina on top of that to get a sort of bronze-y gold color. A little carbon black to bring out the details and it looked just like I wanted. The page itself I did on watercolor paper and then added acrylic paints and smooshed them around with a credit card until the background looked right. (Smooshed is a technical term....) I like the addition of the blue velum in the cut outs. Once the page is inserted into the book and the page is turned, it'll be obvious that it's translucent. I liked the idea of the contrast between translucent and metal. Besides, I got to use my new gold paint pen a lot on the page and it was fun! I like the back of the page, too.

I sent off my pages for the Photo Journal groups' next book, Shadows, yesterday. It's good to have that completed and off my list. I still have the next page for the Photo Journal group to figure out. That book's theme is reflections and I have no idea what I'll end up doing for that one. It's due at the end of June so if I get stuck I guess I will (barely) have time to get it done after the arts festival. I have a June 15th deadline for the ArtFest ATC summer book, By the Sea. I've done the prototype for that card and am happy with it. My problem is that I love coming up with the design and carving the stamps, figuring out how to put it all together, but I don't like the grunt work of putting all the copies together. Well, that's my job for the long weekend. I'll be up at Grant Creek and I plan to get all of them made while watching McLeod's Daughters on DVD. Then I can start worrying about the reflections photo and the little matter of the two artichoke drawings I have to have for Anna by the end of June. I seem to be putting a lot of stress on myself with all these art commitments. I do love to take part in these projects so I guess I should stop with the feckless whining! I wouldn't do this if I really didn't want to. I do like being busy and having all these self-inflicted deadlines keeps my active and making art. Lots of different kinds of art, too, and I do like the variety. It's a great and good thing that I have the chance to do what I like, what pleases me. I am so very lucky.

Friday, May 19, 2006

"Centrally Isolated"

Susan P's birthday 'sleep-over' at Grant Creek, with Sandi from Wenatchee in tow, turned out to be a lot of fun. They arrived around one on Tuesday, horn honking all the way from the gully, in a cloud of dust. It was near 90 degrees and a glorious day. We talked and talked and talked. I haven't seen Sandi since she got back from AZ. Actually, I hadn't seen Sandi since around Thanksgiving! She was perky and bubbly and happy as ever. Susan was in full Birthday Princess mode, and declared the GC B&B a fine place to go for one's birthday. Let's see, that must have been #64. We did a flank steak on the BBQ, had some grilled asparagus to go with, and finished the meal off with Italian style apple cake. Susan seemed happy.

Wednesday we got up pretty early and headed east to Darrington, where we had a wonderful pork product of choice and egg breakfast at Skidder's. Susan and I love Skidder's. It's an old timey bar with great food and lots of 'atmosphere'. It has obviously been sold since the last time I was there as it's been painted and fixed up, but not too much. It's still Skidder's. And the food was great as was the service. If you are out Darrington way, stop in and try the biscuits and gravy---it'll plug up your arteries but you'll die happy.

Stopped at a place we'd been before and bought a bunch of plants. There is this nice younger woman who has a sort of hand-built hippie looking studio and man, oh man, does that girl have a green thumb. We all got some great plants for a great price, including two huge, healthy hostas for me. I'd have had to spend three times as much for hostas that large at a nursery in town. They will go out back in Edmonds.....I bought some clay tools from this young woman a few years back. She seems to always be selling something and I bet she was happy to have had us show up. She must have made close to $50 from the three of us.

From there we headed west and took Highway 9 north to Sedro Woolley, then headed towards Bow and Edison. A month or two ago in Seattle magazine was an article with ten out of the way places to visit in Washington State. (I'd been to eight of the ten....Edison was the one on the list I hadn't been to that I wanted to see, the other place just didn't interest me). In the article it spoke of a specialty food store in Edison that sold great wines, cheeses and all sorts of imported food stuffs. The owner, John DeGloria, was quoted as calling Edison 'centrally isolated'. That really caught my fancy and the term has stuck with me since reading about the little shop. It is centrally isolated but it is truly a great little place. Besides, I love the pun of the shop's name. Love those puns, especially when they relate to food. ("Doc Chen's....even the Ham is Cured!" at Raffles in Singapore is my all-time favorite.) We bought some cheese to try and each of us seemed to leave with a little something else to take home to try later. Susan bought a grilling cheese from Corsica that was good. We grilled it on the BBQ and declared it worthy of a cracker. There was a good bakery in Edison, too, called The Bread Farm. Edison turned out to be very photogenic and full of good eats. I will be heading back there before too long!

It's been a momentous week for the family. Good things, but big things. Emma is now sleeping in her new house in a big girl bed. Gulp. How can she be big enough for that? Jen is off to London and Paris and left SF this afternoon. She'll be gone about ten days. Annie turns thirty tomorrow. Annie sent me some great photos of Alex...One of her naked (but wearing her glasses) is my favorite. She is just the cutest little ting and looks so involved and interested in everything around her. Wish I could see more of her, but oh, well. Kelley and Don are celebrating their first full week in their remodeled house tomorrow. Don did a fantastic job on that place and I am so very, very impressed with him and his ability to learn new skills and put them to practice. I am just slogging away trying to keep up with the volunteers for the arts festival. So far, so good. Connie is happily over in Eastern Washington, weed whacking with is new weed whacker. We are all good and that makes my life grand.

Don McK had everything at Grant Creek looking picture perfect. The weather was amazing, hot and sunny, and all the plants are exploding out of the ground. I have my lettuce in and tomatoes, peppers and squash, too. The roses are beginning to bloom, the clematis are blooming and I cut an armload of peonies to bring home to Edmonds to enjoy. I won't be able to get up there this weekend, but hope to go up a week from tomorrow, after I do my stint at the Market, trying to drum up volunteers. I'll be doing that very same thing in the morning. It's only three hours. I hope the weather is as nice next time I get up there as it was this week. I also hope that the house is rid of the mice. I saw one this time....bold as brass, moving around while the three of us chatted in the kitchen. I left lots of delicious aqua colored 'nibbles' and asked Don to be sure to check the house for dead mice. I hope there are lots and that will be the last of them inside this summer. I like them in theory, but I hate them in my house!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Lilac Weather

It was wet. Rained Saturday, rained all day today, probably will rain again tomorrow. But, my oh my, how the lilacs love it. This year at Grant Creek I really have lilacs in bloom. You can smell them all around the house. The Korean lilac in the front, the one by my bedroom window, is wonderfully subtle, but still manages to perfume the bedroom with a gentle odor of spring. The big Persian lilac in the back is loaded with blossoms and smells delightfully. Another lilac in the front bed is just coming on, not so much this year as the others, but still a joy for the eyes and the nose. The many clematis will be blooming by next weekend. The rhodies are all in bloom now, and beautiful. And the peonies are all ready to pop into full bloom, again by next weekend, I'm sure. It may have been gray and wet, but spring is truly here and the flowers this year are beautiful. Don McK has been working hard on the yard, and all is tidy and ship shape, the way I like it. It's a joy to be there. I can't wait for next Friday so I can get back up there. I even got the ceramics studio cleaned out, de-moused (total body shudder) and the floor positively gleams. Susan P and Sandy-from-Wenatchee are going to be spending a couple of nights up there with me in a little more than a week (for Susan's birthday), and I think it'll be looking good and ready for guests. I love it when the house and grounds are all in order. Tidy house, tidy mind or so the saying least it's one less thing to stress about!

I received my photo journal from the Yahoo group. It's a wonderful little book and I am so happy I joined that group. The theme for this first book was "Enter Here" and each of the contributor's did an amazing job. I especially love Bee S's (from artifact) window photo. It has lots of beach collected items....shells, feathers and driftwood and on the back is a bit of writing I expect is from her journal. I always picture her on a beach, as that's where we met, and that's her favorite place to be, I know. If the next books are anything as wonderful as this first one, I'll have quite a collection!

When I opened the front door on Friday morning to the mailman's knock and saw the label on the package in my handwriting, I knew it had to be my photo journal. I was so excited I had to really resist the impulse to grab the package out of the postman's hands and tear it open right there on the porch! I felt just like a kid who's secret decoder ring had arrived, but unlike that kid, I wasn't disappointed when I got into the package. My copy of the Enter Here journal is all I could hope for, and more.

I have to find a good online source for Orcie's inhaled medication. It's so expensive! And to think I used to mock Annie & Chris for what they spend on Duchess and her allergies. Guess they showed me! Orcie and his inhaled meds have put all they spend on Duchess (the crabbiest cat in the world, by the way) to shame. I used to think it funny that she had to have shots and was allergic to Annie dander and the special food and all that. Now I have a cat who has to have his asthma inhalor twice a day and his meds cost an arm and a paw. I had no idea I was this much of a doting Cat Mother. God help me. Orcie is not thankful. Oh, no. He is not appreciative for all we do to keep him alive and healthy. Noooooo, all he wants is chicken and he wants it right now, thank you very much.

Today was the H's birthday party, given by their children, for their combined birthdays....all 160 years of them! It was fun to see Ray and Claire, and also Marsha, Don and his wife, Suzanne. Ray looks great, as does Claire, although Claire is getting 'fuzzy' mentally. They are off on Tuesday to stay at a new RV park near Oak Harbor. Ray was happily planning to drive via Anacortes and Deception Pass, rather than pay around a $100 to take the ferry. I don't blame him. Besides, the trip over the bridge at Deception Pass is always a thrill. What a view! Eunice, Connie, Nonie and I represented the family. Glad I went. The hotel was HOT, however, so hot you just wanted to run outside into the rain to cool off. That was my only complaint.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Never Paint a Pirate

This was my art weekend at Anna's. Oh, my! We 'did' artichokes on Saturday. First we used charcoal, to warm up, and then we did a pencil rendering. It is always amazing to me how something that you really think you know, like an artichoke or an apple or a coffee mug, changes when you really look at it, study it, pay attention to it in great detail
Anna had us look at the little thorns on the top of each leaf with a magna-fying glass and it was a revelation to see all the colors, from yellow to sienna, purple amd pink.

Today we started doing self portraits. Man, you should have heard all of us whine! The rooms echoed with the moaning and groaning. The various ways each of us found to prolong beginning was amazing. Rena in particular was almost frantic to do something, anything, other than pick up a pencil and start sketching. She is such a beautiful lady, too. Yet each of us, from the beautiful to the average, yeah, even the mousey (!), we all resisted in one way or another. It is hard to draw your own face. For me, a big part of the problem is what I see in the mirror is not me. It's not how I feel, how I 'see' myself inside my own head. I look in the mirror and it's Grandma looking back at me. When did I turn into my own(beloved) grandmother? I will catch a reflection of myself in a shop window and I am always surprised. So to pick up a pencil and look at a photo, or into the mirrors that Anna had cut for each of us, was hard. Really, really hard. I did a sketch and then started in on a canvas. I painted for a couple of hours and then, poof!, it was time to clean up and pack up and go home. I have made a start. It feels like a good beginning but there is so much to do, so many more layers of paint that need to be applied, so much more seeing to do. I'm not really sure, even now, that I want to see myself clearly enough to paint my own face. I don't know what I'm so reluctant to see, or maybe I'm afraid, but if so, of what? This is an odd experience. I know that many, many artists paint themselves over and over---Frida Kahlo, for example. I can't see myself doing that.

I guess I just can't really see myself.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Saturday at the Beach with Nonie

The data base for the volunteer roster was corrupted, I discovered to my horror,last Monday. I spent all last week working on getting a clean, correct copy made. It took about 40 hours to get the data re-entered and to check all the names, address and phone numbers. I sure hope I got it put together properly. I was just about permanently blind from squinting at the computer screen and trying to read all the phone numbers and email address by the time I finished up the last bit very early on Saturday morning. Since getting this error fixed (so I can schedule all the volunteers and keep the records straight) was paramount, everything else was ignored all last week. I didn't even make one entry into my journal! I have played hooky from all my other 'jobs' this weekend and I feel like a new, restored, woman tonight. Nonie and I spent most of yesterday exploring the shopping at Mill Creek, walking around Edmonds or on the beach. We didn't get home last night until after nine. It was a beautiful day, full of the promise of summer, and we enjoyed every minute of it. I took a lot of photos last night. It was a beautiful evening.

There was a very interesting art installation at Mill Creek. Lining all the walkways were what looked to be hundreds of pairs of shoes. Turns out there were actually 1200 pairs and the purpose was to point out the unnecessary deaths due to tobacco use. It was quite a statement and had strong visual impact. Very moving.

Today I bought a basket, really a sculptural piece, made by Joyeanna Chaudiere, a local artist who shows at Gallery North. It's gorgeous and playful. The piece is entitled "Not Quite Round Rainbow" and I've hung it in the back entry hall, where the ceiling is high enough to give it the space it needs. (The only place in this bungalow where there is enough height to show it off!) I love it---it's fun and fresh, and reminds me of a jellyfish.

I have just about finished my "dog tag" for Bee Shay's exhibit for next year's ArtFest. I have been struggling to get the patina just right and it has taken me all weekend----doing a bit here and letting it dry and a bit there and letting it dry----to get it the way I want it to look. I have just sealed it and I think it's done. Finally. I need only get a good jpeg of it for Bee and email it off to her, and that promise is kept.

There was a very interesting article in Seattle magazine about small town getaways. Edison was one of the places featured and a gentleman by the name of John DeGloria, the owner of Slough Foods (!), described Edison as "centrally isolated". I howled when I read that. It certainly is! Another great descriptor for my journal.

Connie came home about nine o'clock tonight. He'd had a good weekend and had gotten a lot done at 7 1/2 Ranch. A friend of his came by to shoot and Ralph got to try out Connie's token system for the clay pigeons. No token, not targets. This seems to me to be a very clever way to get the guest shooters to buy their own clay pigeons while keeping everyone happy and not having to try and make an honor system work. It's $2 for a token, which is what it costs to supply the 27 targets needed for a line of trap. From the photos Connie had taken it looks like the grass is coming in and it's greening up nicely. He seems very relaxed and happy. A good weekend for us both!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


The art journal group I belong to has a green page challenge on for this week. I sat down yesterday and worked on my first page for that group. It was a total experiment and I tried journaling along the lines of Teesha Moore's description of her process. That was a first for me and while I am not thrilled with the result, the act of making the page was great fun. I used Caran D'Ache (with and without water), rubber stamps, a variety of ink colors, various and sundry papers and some photographs from my Japan trip. I even used the image of the Tanuki, the tanuki that was outside the ryokan in Shigaraki. I pasted and colored, cut out leaf shapes and used various pens for details and for the journaling. In other words, I spent quite a bit of time playing with my art supplies, and I had a really good time doing it.

More and more work on the Excel generated volunteer sheets. More people to sign up. More changes to times and numbers of volunteers needed (as some people can't seem to understand that I have already mailed the volunteer forms and now will have to make many phone calls advising folks of a new time to arrive). It all makes me grumpy. Very grumpy. I am near to feckless whining....Thursday night is Art Walk and I have to canvas the downtown area, drumming up any new volunteers I can. Several of the other directors have agreed to be there. Sure hope they show up! I am living for June 20th when this will all be behind me. Two months and counting.

Beautiful spring day. The Olympics were spectacular, rising out of the blue of Puget Sound, still covered in snow. Susan P. and I had lunch at that great little Mexican restaurant that's north on Hwy 99---I think it's called Casa Corona. Great food and such nice people. I must get Connie up there sometime. The other Bowling Jocks were all off in various directions today. Maybe we'll connect again next week.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Rant on Whining/Easter Sunday

It is a beautiful afternoon. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the spring flowers are in full bloom and life is good. Nonie and I had a nice Easter breakfast at Chantrelle and then returned here to work on our several and various weekend projects. She is madly sorting photos, moving old photo files from floppy disks to CDs, making labels and squinting at the keyboard of her laptop. I have been working on making the scheduling sheets for each area for each day for the EAF on Excel (which Nonie kindly showed me how to do) and squinting at my laptop. It takes a lot of time but you can achieve exactly the form you need/want, so I guess it's a good investment of time. Besides, I can keep all these forms and then just pull them up for next year, saving myself redoing this tedious process and making what changes to next year's schedule as is deemed appropriate. I am not really thrilled with all this organizational effort on such a beautiful day, so in between making the forms for "Info Booth" and "Festival Store" I made a rubber stamp to use in my journal.

Years ago on NPR I heard a very reasonable and well-spoken man say something about how tired he was of "feckless whining". The phrase has stuck with me all these years as being the perfect anti-whining remark. Since, like most people, I do tend to wander into the realm of self-pity and downright whining in my journal on occasion, I decided that I needed a rubber stamp that I could use to print over these boring and, mostly, self-serving rants. Today I carved the stamp. I think it needed to be a stamp that looked bold and reactionary, and I am happy with the result. I can now go back through my journal and clearly mark those passages where I have written boring, whiney things that do not need to ever be revisited. (Sometimes the act of writing them down is the perfect way to expunge them from your system forever.) I am rather looking forward to going back through the pages, gleeflully stamping atop my more whiney entries --self editing. As Eunice has always said, "God hates whiners." Me, too.

I spoke with Anna Rhodes today and she kindly gave permission for me to link this blog with her website, An Artists' Retreat. I am already counting the days until my return to The Hawthorne in July. Anna is a wonderful teacher and think I should make her contact info available to anyone who would like to see what she offers. The classes at her house (for one weekend a month for the last three months) have been awesome. I love the new painting I did and the last session was on art books--very timely in terms of my current interests and readings! I have my cover started for a special, one-of-a-kind photo album for my pottery trip to Japan photos. I must be done with it before I see Anna on the 29th! I have all the paper purchased for the pages, endpapers and rice paper photo protection sheets, so it's only the cover canvas that's holding up getting this to the bindery. I’m using the design of the paper parasol I photographed outside the studio/showroom of Hozan in Shigaraki. I am smitten by that photo; the colors and the lines of the ribs always please me.