Saturday, March 10, 2018

Sense of Place Stories

What are the stories we tell?

Mark Twain is quoted to have said "Write what you know." I have taken that advice to include the concept - Sense of Place when making my art books. Dr. Thomas A. Woods, President of Making Sense of Place, Inc., provides a lovely, textured definition of Sense of Place:

What is a Sense of Place?
People develop a "sense of place" through experience and knowledge of a particular area. A sense of place emerges through knowledge of the history, geography and geology of an area, its flora and fauna, the legends of a place, and a growing sense of the land and its history after living there for a time.

The feel of the sun on your face or the rain on your back, the rough and smooth textures of the land, the color of the sky at morning and sunset, the fragrance of the plants blooming in season, the songs and antics of birds and the cautious ramblings of mammals are environmental influences that help to define a place. Memories of personal and cultural experiences over time make a place special, favorite objects that shape to your hand or body with use, songs or dances that emerge from the people of a place, special skills you develop to enjoy your area--these too help to define a place and anchor you in it.

Through time, shared experiences and stories (history) help to connect place and people and to transmit feelings of place from generation to generation. Shared physical perceptions and experiences help people from different cultural groups fashion a local culture that expresses their unity in a place. Finally, place becomes unique and special for individuals and their group, and the group solidifies its identity through celebrations and rituals.
Developing a sense of place helps people identify with their region and with each other. A strong sense of place can lead to more sensitive stewardship of our cultural history and natural environment.
As the years go by my appreciation for our little six acre oasis has grown. I wonder at times if I am the last of the earth lovers. Over the last ten years I have watched the parcels that did not 'perk' be developed. Communities all across America are being swallowed up by the gentrification mold that is consuming the land - farmland as well as wetlands, trees, open space and waterways. In my community the farmers and common sense folk are being replaced by the "instant people," those who have no care or respect for nature, water, or soil.

It has been difficult to watch. Since wisdom comes slowly I  dare not disparage too loudly. Instead I try to respond to this disturbing trend by making art where my previous understanding has been changed or improved. In the end I may just speaking to myself, but don't you think it is important to review one's belief system once in a while? Is it not important to question the beliefs given to us by the others when we were children? As an adult, I am happy to say I have let go of the concepts of perfectionism, the biblical mandate to fill the earth and subdue it, and the many willful-man-models. I am relieved to find Mother Nature is forgiving. I find grace and peace within the folds of her earth skirt of many colors.

My latest art books are about two, maybe three subjects which cause many people to have opinions. The subjects are dandelions, crows and ants.

Illuminating Taraxacum officinales endeavors to shine a light on the humble and much maligned dandelion. The translucent images of the dandelion’s seed head can be hinged together to form 4 luminaries or into one long photo essay. The companion book contains facts, poems, childhood memories and a recipe. Perhaps I was trying to shine a light on hate as well. There seems to be so much hate in the world even small plants are caught in the battle. Is it possible to see the beauty and good?  

Crow Anting is my fourteenth art book about the life and times on Thistledown Farm. One seldom ever sees a Crow Anting as crows are rather private creatures. They like to spy on us, but they do not like to be studied. I felt quite lucky to see the sky fill up with the dark raucous forms. They landed on tree and shrub and grass. The first crows strutted up the anthill with such great dignity. How quickly it turned into jumping and squawking, hopping and flapping. Laughing and guffawing came from the rest of the murder above. Amused by the sight I giggled too.

I have sent my entry form off to Puget Sound Book Artist Exhibition 2018. We will see if they both get in. The dates of the show are: June 4 - July 27, 2018 at University Puget Sound, Collins Library. 
Till then I will be in the garden... learning more from Mother Nature. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day

When lives are busy and time rushes by…

There’s always time for a virtual Tea Party – especially for Valentine’s Day! I know my tea pot is in this image somewhere.  The birch tree has been hung with Norwegian paper hearts along with the glass, cloth and metal ornaments. The bowl of glass hearts given to me by my beloved over the years sparkles in the sunshine. The prisms in the windows cast rainbows on them from time to time.

If we got together I would share stories about the garden, my attempts to rebuild a stain glass window, and my visit with Flat Stanley from Oregon. We could always talk about the weather (to avoid politics!) It has been lovely weather. We all loved seeing the sun these past few days. Spring isn’t far off, but thanks goodness for a few days of rain. After 5 days straight in the garden I can’t stand up straight.

We could drink tea from the little red cups and have bites of chocolates as we reminisced.

Gee it was sure nice to have this visit.

These virtual tea parties are so easy… we should do them more often.

My blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Endings and Beginnings

It has been a while since my last post. Over this past year I have struggled to not have politics be part of every one of my conversations even though I have been pretty whipped up about what is going on in the world and here in the U.S. For the most part I failed - so I have kept quiet with my on-line space. I have spared you all that ranting. Then too...

I was also pretty busy with my book arts. I was on the curating team for the Puget Sound Book Artists this year as lead curator for the first themed exhibition. Now that the final survey is out for response my duties have nearly ended. I am glad to say it all turned out well. Here are a few pics.





The banners in the display area



The flat cases are hard to photograph.


We had a great turn out - some folks are out of camera - off to the food buffet around the corner.

A few of the thank you gifts.

While all this was going on my husband and I tackled a few projects:
We replaced the 6 raised beds - only 8 yards of soil to fill them!
Supposedly what doesn't kill you makes you strong, right?
I lost track on how many wheel barrow loads it took. 

With that accomplishment under our retirement project belt we thought "why not build a shed?" 

So - we did, but wait, first we had to build a deck. 

This required a good deal of supervision from the country folk. 
They would come out in ones and two, three on occasion. 
I quite liked it when they stood on their heels to see from the higher perspective. 

The first deck begat the second deck or what you might call the
gangplank over to my studio.
There are no rules unless you make them, right?

 OMG! I have never seen so much screwing. 
We should have taken out stock in the screw company.
Every joist, beam and stud had to have the fancy self screwing gold plated ones.
Its recycled wood, mind you! 

The whole thing required lots of breaks for "thinking about it".
And there were a naps too.
Yes, it was I who said there was no deadlines.
I was held to it.

It also required lots of sorting, painting and flipping boards over and over...

Finally we were able to get serious and open the box of tinker toy parts
fitting a to b and c to d. 

It looked just like a tinker toy too.

 I was beginning to be a little concerned as we left that extra length on the uprights
rather than saw them to the proper length per instructions.
The dang thing is now 10 tall and wobbles like a willow branch.
Saints alive we are insane or what? 

We opted for a painted canvas roof because we didn't think the roof
would hold us up to put anything else on. Ha....

But no worries once the wall boards were on it started to look real.
By the time trim was put on and the excess canvas cut off
it was starting to look even better. 
Of course our trifocals were steamed up
because we have had the warmest, driest summer on record. 
I mean really, we were just trying to make it like a camp anyway.

But once we got the barn door on the tinker toy shed was starting to look pretty spiffy. 

The windows will just have to wait until next spring or summer.
We are buttoned up for winter's arrival. We are out of steam.
We do have some old clear stain glass windows which need a bit of work.
This little project may turn out to be pretty darn cute once it is finally completed. 
I hope our youthful selves will find freedom to play inside. 
I hope it will be like the craft lodge at girl scout camp
(camp Amahami in New York). 
I call this place the Raven's Lodge.
For if you believe in universal messaging you may find it 
 significant that as we constructed and hung the barn door
two ravens tak-tak'd over head. 
Ravens are rare around here. Two is unheard of.
I am pretty sure it will stay 
"Raven's Lodge"

Now, just at the other end of the board walk is 
the Crow's Nest. 
(My Studio)
Back in behind - under the tent tarp is the campfire area. 
Can't wait till the fire burn is lifted!
We don't need a lake to complete the tableau...
there's the cow's watering tub (an old claw foot bath tub)
left from our farming days
if anyone wants to take a dip.

So, when the world of humans gets to you as it did me... 
remember to go out into nature, find the child within and then just play. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


After a very long winter of political outrage, a cold/cough that took a month to recover and then a frantic effort to make some books for this year's Puget Sound Book Artist Exhibition I finally noticed it was spring. It is our tradition to celebrate by going north to Skagit Valley to see the daffodils.

The dark low hanging clouds made the skies dramatic. Of course we bring our boots. The puddles on the edge of the fields were as muddy as ever and our favorite garden store, Christianson's, was beautifully decorated. A walk through the greenhouses inspires the camera and stimulates ideas for ones own garden.

The swans are present but no snow geese this time. 

Here are the books I entered in PSBA's member exhibit. 
This year it is a themed show called Northwest Musings.

This one I call Home
These are the birds that kept me company 
while I watched CNN, MSNBC, Fox, BBC, NHK, 
and if I felt wild I would look at RT 
just to balance out the political craziness. 
Somehow it felt like my civic duty to stay informed. 
I watch less now. 
I have made my mind up. 

This one is called "A Wish for Democracy"
It was the result of a participatory project at my local library. 
The book was designed around the comments 
on democracy by ninety three library patrons
 from January 20 (Inauguration Day) to February 20 (President's Day). 
This was my first collaboration and my first edition book of 4. 

This set is called Snap 1 & 2
It is a photo montage of the Pacific Northwest. 
It isn't a new set of book but it fit the theme.