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.