"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What I'm Painting These Days

Here it is, my painting day, Tuesday, so I thought a little update on the painter bit of me was in order. I am still really enjoying watercolor and kind of think that I will stick with it as "my" medium as an artist. I am tempted by gouache (say "gwash") and water soluble oils which my drawing teacher just told me about. I think I will do a bit of dabbling in both of those sometime but, I do love watercolor quite well.

I think part of my allegiance to watercolor is the fact that my grandfather was a watercolorist, somehow seems cool to be carrying on the tradition...and then I also really like the challenge of working with such a difficult medium and the beautiful translucent, light-shot quality that ends up on the paper.

Another thing I have discovered along the way is the truly brilliant fabulocity of tube paints over a tray of block colors. Tube paints are more vivid, more energetic and they feel better somehow too. I have just begun using up a couple of the colors in my tray and bought tubes to replace them, I look forward to being 100% in the tube paint world someday soon.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Old Clothes As Rainbows

Always good to share the genius of another artists work with the world. Spring seems like the time to be celebrating this French sculptor, Alain Guerra who is scattering the world with a blazing spectrum of color using, old clothes...of all things!

Guerra de la PazImage by VernissageTV Didier Didier via Flickr

I would never have dreamed up the stuff he's created...it's surreal beauty of the first order. Do click through and take a good gander around. Bonus points for you if you speak French (I do not).
Inspiration-TributeImage by Duc C. Nguyên via Flickr

Maybe some of you can get the language conversion feature on this website to work for you. I couldn't see to get it to stay on the page I wanted once I asked it to translate so I just enjoyed the works en Francais. Good thing this kind of expression communicates so well in any language. Click this link and see for yourself, art is the great unifier. Art and tears and laughter.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Poetry Friday: A Spring Tanka

Lilac BudsImage by NedraI via Flickr
Happy Poetry Friday! 

I am writing in loose, Americanized tanka today, a new form for me. Tanka is a form, similar to haiku and also brought to us from Asia. Many modern poets use similar standards as with haiku, setting up the template to flow: 5,7,5,7,7 (each number denoting a syllable) similar to the sound portions that break up the Japanese language.

Most of the great historically memorable tanka poets were women. They wrote about a range of topics, often nature (Ah, the Japanese!) but it was also common to write a poems for your lover at the end of the evening together to remember a sweet or poignant moment. Is that cool or what. High romance if you ask me. Kind of fun to play in a new format. I have always loved haiku and thought it would be good to mess around with a new variation. It was a short poem kind of day.

April Morning

The morning is so
Noisy now in April
A wild tumult streams through the
Cracked window, too loud to read
Din of lilac buds breaking.

Nothing like hope, eh?
I am writing this, looking out at the lawn, towards our lilac bush which is promisingly full of buds but not close to blooming anytime too terribly soon. I do hope we get a few mornings like this. My money is all on April....those buds are swelling more and more and one of these mornings there's going to be a real rumpus!
A lilac bush (Syringa vulgaris) showing a pani...Image via Wikipedia

Hop on over to today's Poetry Friday host and check out the other contrbutions!

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Glimpses of History

Am thinking all the time about the history and story of our 1920's colonial. Who lived here through World War II? Who was born here? What did the gardens look like? How was it decorated? All those sorts of curious thoughts. I am inspired in my wistful wonderings by spending too much time looking through the pictures at the Flikr group "Looking Into The Past." 

Sure wish I had some authentic, black and white, pulled from the pages of history photos of our old place from its heyday. I wonder if somebody does, out there someplace.

This photo in particular strikes wishful chords for me. What a gem, to have that kind of a shot of the front of your place! Gotta get myself down to the historical society and look up our home's history and also call the previous owner's granddaughter for the interview she promised me about the house. So much journalism, so little time.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Feathered Decoration

Last year, I logged this post featuring an American Idol video of the feather-wearing contestant Crystal Bowersox. The idea of wearing feathers has niggled at me ever since and I've considered all sorts of ideas for how to pull it off and not tried a single one.

A modern belle going to the rooms at Bath by J...Image via Wikipedia
Then yesterday, there I was in Target fingering my way through the earring racks when I bumped into the only pair I purchased. There they were. Feathers, all ready for the wearing.

I love them.

Although, I do have to say that I still think I need to get brave enough to wear some in my hair which still strikes me as exotic and stunning.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

You Win, I Win

SuccessImage by aloshbennett via Flickr
Time to stop putting each other down when we have successes. Really. Everyone struggles when they have failures. Failures don't feel good and there's that who wretched bruised, "How will I ever bring myself to feel brave enough to try again." business that inevitably follows a major downer. I hate that our culture makes us feel sort of similar feelings when we have simple successes in life.

FriendshipImage via Wikipedia

I was talking to my sister on the phone yesterday and she was pointing out that we (especially women) have this sick cultural reaction to our own personal victories. [See her post, which got me going on the topic here.] We don't tell people when we win, because we know people won't share our joy. They'll get out all their needles when we take a waltz with our new red balloon instead. I have lost all the baby weight twice and am in the throes of hacking my way through a third round of weight loss. Do I talk about it? Nope. It's not because it's not important to me or because it's effortless and I just drop pounds in my sleep...I'm working at it really hard and it's really difficult and I care a lot about the topic and believe me, there are private but riotous celebrations in my bathroom near the scale whenever I make it to another goal. I don't share because I'm scared of being either depressing to others or verbally bitten by the jealous.
HappinessImage via Wikipedia

I hate being part of a culture that feels threatened by fellows successes. Why can't we root for the people around us and find a way to feel that we have some personal stake (even a vicarious one) in their achievements or windfalls? Even worse, I think the idea that we feel like we need to toss out a little negativity when we share our happiness is so wretched. ("I just potty trained my son! Of course, maybe he'll regress when we have the baby, we'll see.")  The idea that someone near us winning means we are less shiny and cool is so absurd that it makes my teeth hurt. Let's throw that one out with all our energy and a mighty war whoop to boot, shall we?
Friendship.Image via Wikipedia

 I think most of this negativity is unconscious. I'd venture to guess that most of the people I know who take stabs at other's joys don't mean to be doing something mean spirited. We are naturally inward focused and it's easy to have a reflexive desire reaction to somebody's else's win. Still, I really feel sad when I hear a friend announce success:
"Am so excited for us! We met our budget three months running! Hooray!"
And a co-listener says glumly:
"Geez! Must be nice. We're so in debt I can't even imagine making a budget."
Friendship, Göteborg, SwedenImage via Wikipedia

I think there are a few things we can do to change the culture of private happiness and make happiness a mutual, public affair.
  • When we win, try to share with people around us. (it's good for the soul to hear about people's personal joys) And I think it really is true that when we share our joy it is doubled. Wanna savor your wins? Tell a friend!
  • When our success intimidates we can share how hard won, or practically achievable our happiness has been. This makes sure that ensure those around us that we aren't trying to be a superior. (Everyone appreciates knowing that you stopped buying soda and bought a food scale instead of just "got lucky and lost weight")
  • When we witness somebody being shot down over their joy, reinforce the happy sharer and also encourage the negative listener. Kill two birds with one stone and be the positive force. Something like this: "Gee, your husband deserves about three gold stars for bringing you breakfast in bed. I bet you felt like a million bucks!" (and then to the gloomy third party) "Sure sounds good, eh? I love to be treated like celebrity, don't you?"
  • When we catch ourselves thinking or even feeling negatively because somebody we know has a success, try to nip it in the bud. Remind ourselves that we are not in a grand happiness competition with all of humanity. Life is more like a relay where we ought to root for and assist our teammates. When other people win we stand to gain a lot. We can learn techniques for beating our own problems, we can share the high, we can be inspired to aspire ourselves and our community becomes a place where people own joy which is a great environment.
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Monday, March 21, 2011

The First Day of Spring!

In honor of the first full day of spring, a few local florals.
Love to see that blazing color showing up again. Shades of grey are all very well for pencils in my evening class ,but wow, do I love me some zip in real life. Nothing like a good blazing-monarch purple crocus with those absurdly neon stamens to wake you right up, eh?

I thought I'd leave you with a lovely snippet from "The First Spring Day" by Christina Rosetti.

I wonder if the sap is stirring yet,
If wintry birds are dreaming of a mate,
If frozen snowdrops feel as yet the sun
And crocus fires are kindling one by one:
Sing, robin, sing;
I still am sore in doubt concerning Spring.
(read the rest of it here)

Congratulations all, technically, you've survived winter!
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Saturday, March 19, 2011

A List of Delicious, Good For Me Snacks

I need healthy snacks.
But, I have to say they need to be delicious and healthy. All too often I fall into the trap of shoving some convenient and less than terribly nutritious, maybe not even that enjoyable something-or-other in my mouth on the go. I do it when I'm stressed out (emo-eater extraordinaire here) and when I'm tired and when I have whiney kids to feed and when we're dashing in and then back out again and I don't have time to even think, let alone cook dinner. 
Summer rolls, cold rollsImage via Wikipedia

I decided that its time to end all the empty, crappy snack insanity. I know better. I know how to eat well. I enjoy eating well. We buy good food. I live with a supportive food partner who believes in making good food choices...I'm just lazy. I'm not even talking physical laziness...its just the mental brain-fog-lazy that I need to kick. You know, this whole bit: "Uh....what could we eat???" *long and empty stare into the fridge*

Aguacate / AvocadoImage via Wikipedia
And that was how the idea of The Vibrant Snack List was born. 
I can do the thinking now, ahead of time, when my brain still works...and then later when I'm starving and my cerebellum freezes up on me, all I have to do is scan the list (which I am posting on the side of the fridge) and then have an automatic moment of gastronomic genius with whatever ingredients we are currently stocking. 
mmmmm. roasted garlicImage by intuitive cat via Flickr

This list is full of things that I consider to be healthful, happy, easy (or at least moderately so) and super enjoyable. You might not think everything on here sounds tasty to you, pick what you like and feel free to cut anything that sounds nasty to your palate and be sure to add your own brilliant stand-bys...(hint hint! Adding them in the comments below means we all get to enjoy your brilliance.) Also worth noting is the fact that my personal version of healthful isn't everyone's definition. I like all the food groups, generally eschew sugar am an omnivore and firmly believe that fats are good. You won't find any low-fat versions of things, or substitutionary style food copycats here either. I'm all for real food, all the time.

Vibrant Snacks
    Olive Oil - Over the counterImage by Flavio@Flickr via Flickr
  • avocado, squeeze of lime, sprinkle of sea salt (eat out of shell with a spoon!)
  • string cheese
  • a small pool of good olive oil, a dash of rosemary and a good hunk of fresh bread
  • honey drizzled cottage cheese
  • an apple (preferably a fresh, autumn apple) eaten out-of-hand with periodic smears of natural peanut butter
  • a handful of good jerky 
  • dried cherries
  • a glass of fresh juice (take your pick!) just pressed out of my juicer
  • a sandwich w/ soft goat cheese, basil, olive oil and thick slices of ripe tomato
  • a fresh, garlicky hummus with raw carrots or red pepper slices
  • a poached egg, cut open to dribble over a bed of sauteed mushrooms and fresh salad greens
  • half of a melon and a spoon (leave the melon to ripen on the countertop for three or four days after purchase in the grocery store...it will get melty ripe and juicy)
  • a ramekin of quality granola and fresh, raw milk
  • ripe strawberries, or apricots sliced into cream...sprinkled with sugar or drizzled with honey
  • fluffy scrambled egg with a tiny spoonful of caviar on top, some snippings of fresh dill and a bit of sour cream
  • two halves of a fresh prickly pear fruit
  • shrimp cocktail
    Prickly Pear FruitImage by ~dgies via Flickr
  • jicama spears with a squeeze of lime
  • a crisp dill pickle
  • a handful of blueberries
  • Vietnamese summer rolls with a small dish of nuoc mam for dipping
  • 1/3 of a bar of dark chocolate
  • thin slices of cold leftover chicken spread with a little honey mustard
  • rosemary Triscuits, wedges of apple and paper thin slices of sharp, sharp cheddar
  • a spoonful of glowing honeycomb
  • a handful of Sungold tomatoes
  • a small dish of salted edemame
  • freshly popped corn w/ butter and salt 
  • celery w/ a dollop of Alouette herb cheese on top
  • dark chocolate covered strawberries
  • raw spinach, raw walnuts, a hunk of crumbled goat cheese, chopped strawberries and a handful of blueberries topped with Brianna's delicious poppyseed dressing
  • a shot of wheatgrass!
  • goat cheese, ripe figs and proscuitto
    kişisel resimImage via Wikipedia
  • half a grapefruit, drizzled with honey, eaten with a spoon
  • fruit leather (you know, the kind made with real fruit)
  • a head of garlic, dribbled with olive oil, salted and then roasted until the skin is gold...eaten with the fingers 

    Okay...now I'm slobbering. Awesome. Gotta get this baby printed off and then...I think I need a snack!
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