Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Delightful find

I went to the Goodwill Outlet this week in search of some auction items that could be up-cycled.  I found this little treasure. It reminded me that in this new year I will need to improve my aim. After all, you can't hit the target if you don't aim at it!  Another important aspect of shooting a bow and arrow is to be aware of the breath. With all that has gone on this past year I have sometimes forgotten to simply breath. I also think I should find some good tights, maybe a pretty little frock? Maybe I should watch "Brave" or "Hunger Games" again? Maybe I just need the red slippers?

Happy New Year!


Monday, December 23, 2013

Winter Tea Party

A few days ago we had a little skiff of snow. It was lovely.
Little feet left their marks.

Neighborhood children had time to make a snowman - school 2 hours late.

My little studio looked so festive with a coating of snow.
Giggle, and the tiny woodstove covered by the umbrella.
Giggle, isn't it funny?
The week before I discovered the stove while root'in around in the barn
for the outdoor Christmas decorations.
What a hoot!
I found a piece of leftover chimney up in the rafters and
 soon the old stove was hot'in up the tea pot.
Join me if you will!
I will stoke up the wood stove and put on the teapot.
Wrapped yourself in bright woolen blanket,
let your legs dangling over the edge of my big veranda.
We will celebrate the season with a cup of good cheer.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Between the waves

On November 3, I awoke from a dream where I imagined a self directed course of study for myself focused on printmaking, complete with instructions on how to record my progress all the way to final assignments for each technique. I took my dream seriously and wrote it all down. Two days later I even typed it into a structured format for clarity and accountability. In between those two days life went sideways. Three weeks later...

Between the crashing waves and pull of the under tow I try to catch my breath so I can continue my  caregiver role. Sometimes I simply sit. Other times find respite in my studio. Last week, in spite of the cold (40 degrees inside my tiny crows nest) I soon was oblivious. With effort I picked up where I had left off - Nov. 3 - the day before the two falls.   I used a photo from a recent trip,  photoshoped it, and then made a tracing. I cut the soft fun foam and started to print. The inks were new to me and the results varied. I discovered quite a bit and soon was ready to move on to the next level. Two days later I redesigned the image, cut a new plate and tried again. I came away with many realizations. I hope I remember them.

It is sometimes hard to remember when new waves crash over you. I mean I know - just like at the ocean  - the big waves are going to come, but the frequency and amplitude is disturbing. Sometimes you don't even see them coming making it hard to prepare. And then there's the calm which is just as unnerving. It's chaos man!

This is why making (or trying to make) art is so important.


Bored with the print I play...

with the ink left on the plate.
Another day I resized the image thinking that would help...

Thoughts of how to get the windows in, registration issues... why one type of ink works better than another....

Instead I play with the ink left on the plate and use the foam cut outs instead of the original piece.

and then go deeper into how I feel.

Today I couldn't even go there. Instead I made cards for family.
Of course they won't get to them in time for Thanksgiving.
Where's Captain Kirk and his "beam me up Scotty" machine?

 The words: Let us be thankful for the opportunity in each new day.


Monday, November 18, 2013

The concept of Do and Be

With my recent retirement I developed this PLAN for a productive yet rewarding use of  my new found unscripted time. For all of October each Monday I would get up early, gather my tools together- paper and pen and nest with a hot cup of tea by the warm fire. I'd study and peruse my pages of lists: the garden to-do list, the maintenance list, the major fix list, and the 5 pages double sided single bulleted list of arty things I want to do. I felt it fair to choose something from each category for the week's goal. In that way I could get things ship shape at home and be the artist I thought I could be. The logic was so linear. I thought perhaps there was some harmonic balance that could be acheived through organization and mindfulness. Ha.

Only a few weeks into the plan Karma, the universe, something... had another plan.

It started on Nov 4th with two falls. By the 7th it developed into a hospitalization. For 7 days this was my spot. I had a good view of the patient, the tubes, and the hallway's comings and goings.

If it weren't for having to be the one to make every decision
 about every form of treatment or non-treatment,
and being witness to the bruised 87 year old body riddled with Alzheimer's
the view would have been fantastic.  
The 6th floor had a magnificent view of the valley.
Autumn had richly clothed the scene in nut brown, greens and gold.
 On a clear day you could see the bay.

Yes, behind every cloud there's blue sky.
See, there it is.
However, if a hole doesn't open up you have to go through
the cloud of unknowing to see it.
I call it the grey zone - where clear vision isn't an option.
The grey zone where decision making isn't black and white.
There are no feeding tubes and last rites in the grey zone.
The grey zone is where you play dice and hang (in time)
waiting to see how the game plays out.
Apparently, the grey zone is a place where an old guy
can put his right foot in the grave
and just as quickly take it out and shake it all about.
I'd be so focused I would catch myself holding my breath.
Imagine having to remind yourself to so something so automatic as breathing?
So, with positivity - onward and upward - next stop - a skilled nursing facility.
Unbelievable, how is this possible?
A lucid  day,
where recovering man expresses himself eloquently,
giving thanks to his Decider (POA), watchwoman caregiver, his mouthpiece - ME!
sniff and tear....
I own that lucid moment.
It is mine. All mine.
I am sorry for the others who did not get one.
Because the moment didn't last.
The ones that followed weren't the same.
Later a midnight call
and more weighty decisions about a fever, drugs, and readmission.
It is a roller coaster ride - just like the fair.
(I hate the rides at the fair.)
Hear my virtual scream.
I look down at my hands -
I am neither grasping the rail or holding my hands high.
In my mind I am PRACTICING riding the rise and fall.
I focus on the concept of BE and DO.
When I can't Do (anything about anything) - I can (simply) Be.
I can breath.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Samhain

I love autumn!
Mists are on the moors like a thick wool blanket.
 Pumpkins sit atop fence posts along the drive.
Their toothy smiles on rakish tilt.
Heaps of leaves below the trees.
Perfect for foot dragging and scuffling.
I have been making paper with cedar bark, cattail stems,
and repurposed sumi-e practice sheets in the company of good friends.
With the winds threatening to scatter the leaves
it was a scurry to eco-print.
Soft tones for some,
Good color on others.
Time to play with collage and sumi-e too.
Yes, this is how the days were recently spent.
Retirement is lovely.

Maybe there's still time today to put a dye bath on the stove
and cook up some mushrooms?
Boil and bubble,
spoon and cudgel.
Maybe the dye would finally stick
to paper and cloth
like it does under my fingernails?
Maybe if I add this little spell:
"Within this happy circle
may no evil come,
but love and peace and happiness
make up our daily sum."

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Pendulum Swung

Yes, that's right, the pendulum swung so far into the happy zone it shouldn't be surprising that it has taken 2 weeks to recover from the greatest month we have had in YEARS! Oh, my gosh. We can hardly express how wonderful our trip to Scotland and Ireland was because we are smiling so hard, laughing over the funny escapades and then ahhhing and grabbing our waist (or where it used to be) over the food we experienced. Only took 10,000 photos. No, I am not joking. I am a bit overwhelmed thinking about how to make them into something meaningful. I don't need to worry about the kids coming over to see a slide show of them as they refused to do that after seeing photos from our last trip. Hurrump. I would like to create something with them for memory sake tho... so I am cogitating.

In the meantime, sitting by my new little stove (heater with the fake flames) I made a linoleum block from one of the Ireland photos. I thought I would print a mono print background and then print the linoleum block. Ha! Will I ever "get it" - that flipping the image thing? Well, it's good that I have a wry sense of humor otherwise I could have be in tears as I was already upset that I accidentally cut a part out that I wanted. I tried to watercolor some, color pencil on others. Oh, well, it's all play, right? Who knows, maybe I will do something more to them to cover up my humanness. Or not. Or maybe I will just sit by the fake fire and look out at the changing autumn scene, or build myself a crannog (a Gaelic round house built on stilts above the water) just in case mother nature thinks that the foot of rain we have gotten isn't enough.




Monday, August 26, 2013

Adventure is Out There!

Our bags are packed, we're ready to go. Look out world here we come. We will be gone for almost a month. Yup, recent events have made us realize it is important to start checking things off our own "lists" and stop postponing or procrastinating.
I hope to be recording and drawing all along the way. Here are my travel essentials:
watercolor journal, writing journal, watercolors and water brush, colored pencils, 2 "flight" pens, click pencil, grease pen, sharpie, and a tiny pair of scissors.

This week on the way from my studio back to the house I saw this little tiny feather laying on the trail. Oh, delight! I love black and white feathers! It was only when I got up close did I see the little heart. How special is that! Who would have known that not only do flickers have spectacular orange and black striped feathers but also ones decorated with hearts. I am so glad we keep the suet feeders filled - even in summer.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fell off the turnip truck

Yes, it is true... I fell off the turnip truck and have only now made my way back to the funny farm.
July, with its three planet retrograde was unbelievable. Nothing was moving forward. Did you notice it too? Thank goodness August has opened up and things are back on track. Not that any serious art is being made - it is way to pleasant out to be inside, plus there are farm chores to be done. Maybe making and painting our new gate counts as 'art'? It is unbelievably bright. Well, the paint was free and I wanted it to be different. It surely is.

Time to get back to the chores.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Rusted, tea stained, leaf printed and waxed

This is what I call fun!
Eco-printed journal holders:
Rusted, tea stained, leaf printed, and waxed watercolor paper folded into a box-like journal holder with a fun foam button and crow. Inside two little journals - one with watercolor paper, the other with calligraphy paper.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

New Adventures

This week has been the big push to finalize my artist statement/bio and entries for the 14th Annual Maritime Exhibition at the Harbor Museum in Gig Harbor. I have no idea if my work will meet their needs/desires, but ready or not I am about to hit "send". We will see what comes of this effort. I did have three of my books accepted it into the Puget Sound Book Artist Exhibition at the University of Puget Sound but EGADS - tomorrow there will be a meet the artist & conversation night. Sheez...

Honestly, entering these shows has really pushed me - made me ask myself hard questions about my motivations, materials, meaning and brand. Not a bad thing to do once in a while. The good news is I have been working consistently on my art in spite of my added caregiving duties. In fact, just the other day, I had an ah ha moment. I realized that I was no longer making excuses why I wasn't making any art, I was making excuses why the house wasn't picked up or the laundry done! While slightly embarrassed over the mess, I was ecstatic that I had finally climbed over this gigantic 'mental' hurdle. I am ready now to call quietly call myself an artist.

Title: Land and Water Meet Air  - An Intertidal Assemblage
3 sea shell books with images of eel grass calligraphy, lugworm castings,
and heart rocks.
Sea urchin and kelp made out of phonebook pages.
Paper clam with barnacles,
kelp fronds and eel grass
on a suminagashi base.
Title: They Came By Ship
Boat covered with tea bag papers, 2 lines of ancestors names,
handmade paper sail with grandmother's thrums

Title: Sailing Away
Photos of Commencement Bay printed on rice paper,
2 driftwood skiffs,
and a rock ship amid beach litter.

Using my photos, printing on different papers, waxing the surfaces, recycling phonebook pages or other waste stream materials, adding natural elements,
makes for what I call ADVENTURE!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I have been on duty since April 26 managing healthcare decisions for dad. I have gotten an eye full of the medical world, Alzheimer's, lawyers and brokers. It is a world unto its own. There are no patterns of comfort, routine, or status quo. To participate in this unique world one must be "in the moment" at all times. The good part is every day will be different. The bad part is every day will be different.

So...even though my farm chores aren't done a respite seemed much more important. Getting out into nature I was sure would be the balm to soothe and restore me. I was right. Destination: Nisqually Wildlife Reserve

Just off the parking area - two young ones


And within a few more feet we saw our first wings:

and then something so precious and delicate
on it's first walk about
 bobbing for salmonberries...


The day was 68 degrees, sunny with a slight breeze... it just doesn't get better!

A male towhee was just one of the many singing the praises of the day.