Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Happiness is A New Camera

You can just Color Me Very Thankful for a new camera to replace my recently stolen, perfect-for-me-Canon. It is part of the new type of Canon Powershot line with a much bigger lens, the SX200. I haven't gotten used to it quite yet, especially the pop-up flash thingy which I always seem to have my finger on. I had better get that figured out quickly, otherwise the motor will burn out trying to push my finger up too. There are a whole lot more functions and goodies that I am finding that I am actually reading the manual so that I can use them.

So far the portrait function works really well, but the pictures I snapped of my boys aren't authorized for sharing here. By them that is. They vetoed the faces they were making for posting on the internet, but I can at least say that there was no red-eye at all.
I'm feeling much better now that I have a camera again. It was strange not having one that I could rely upon. A real one that worked reliably and has all the functions I'm used to. I've realized that I really have myself setup to function with one, almost as if it is another set of eyes that I was missing.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Time for AV Club

To continue with my Neil Gaiman admiration and appreciation (some say stalk-er-y) AV club here are two gems, one audio only, one audio + video.

If you like grail stories and would love to have the author read a really different kind of grail story to you (it is about 30 minutes long) then do give a listen to Chivalry written and read by Neil Gaiman. I think listening to an author read the story they've written is a different experience than hearing an actor perform it. There is an authentic quality that comes through that an actor just can't produce.

I'm on the hunt for this book to give my brother and sister-in-law as they've just brought a beautiful new baby girl into the world. I love being an auntie once again. I think this book is a lovely welcoming prayer and blessing that would be great to read over and over.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Grass is As High As A Lion's Eye

What do you think? Should I cut the grass? Spike doesn't think so. Since he is a stripey jungle print cat, he really enjoys skulking around through the tall grass like his ancestors. The other cats stand out, but he is really well camoflauged.

The grass is this crazy high because our lawn mower broke last year. And what is wrong with it would cost more to fix than buying a new one (Crazy huh?!). So this means I have to use the weed whacker. Which I am, quite frankly, terrified of. It isn't one of those buzzing cute string trimmers, it is one of the snarling whirling bladed ones, with a harness, balanced handles and a huge loud motor. It is mostly intended for the hillsides where it is brushier as opposed to grassy, and not mowable.
So, either I have to put off replacing my recently stolen camera, and buy that new mower this very weekend, or convince husband Marc that he now has this job around the house. Mowing our property has always been my domain. Which was fine when we had a working mower. But I just don't know if I'm up for this. Tell you what, if the thing starts in the first 10 tries, I'll do it. Otherwise, I'm punting till tomorrow.

Oh, by the way, here is the mower I want: The Cub Cadet 500. It is electric, and a little more robustly made than the others that I've seen.
It costs almost exactly the same as the replacement camera models that I'm looking at. Guess I better start playing the lottery eh?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Wuz Robbed

I Am Really Bummed Out.

You know how I was saying I couldn't find my camera?

Well, I figured out why yesterday afternoon.

My car was broken into, right in our driveway, and all the small electronic things were taken.

My camera, my iPod, FM transmitter and the new GPS I gave my husband for Christmas are all gone. And who knows what else that I haven't missed yet.

Luckily my purse and new phone were inside the house for once.

I rarely lock my car, and have been in the habit of leaving keys and purse in it for years and years now. We live on a very rarely traveled by car or by foot, dead-end street. So it is probably one of the neighbors or their kids or their friends. I'm suspecting teenagers, by the things that were taken. Which my teenager informs me is ageist. (I suppose so).

This is the first time that I've ever been robbed in my life and I am finding that I feel very very strange and off-balance. A whole bunch of feelings are swirling around.
mad at myself,
feel stupid for being so trusting and lazy for not bringing my stuff in and locking up.
And really really sad because I don't have my favorite thing that I own, my camera.

On Saturday my husband found our neighbor's car registration at the top of our driveway, and heard that his car had been rifled through also.

Now I have to call the police and sheepishly file a report. Yes, they were in my unlocked car. No I didn't notice right away. And I suppose I'll call my insurance and see what our deductible is, I bet it is right around what everything is worth.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

This Old Dock

As I'm still on the hunt for my camera (come out come out wherever you are darling) I thought I'd share a few more vacation photos from Lake Tahoe.
The first view I had of Lake Tahoe up close was at early sunset. It was a fairly clear sky, and warm outside. There weren't many people or boats out and about, just ducks and the Tahoe Queen. I was instantly drawn to this image of the old dock footings going out in a line off into the lake. They looked so otherworldly.

But the ship is interesting too, especially with this beautiful reflection. And the sky began to turn color, also changing the water color of course.

Finally I laid down right there on the dock, set my camera vertically on the edge, and got the ship out of my view. That was what I was trying to capture.
This illusion that there is something just underneath, just out of view.
Or stepping stones one could jump from one to another to cross to the mountains on the horizon. Maybe it is the left-behind, defunct marker of where humankind has made our mark on the timelessness of this vista.
But I think it is the ever-present reminder as one goes around Lake Tahoe of what has been forever lost. ie the water. So much of it is just plain gone. Countless docks jut out of the water many many feet above the surface. It is a sad picture to me because of this irretrievable loss.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Snow Lilac

Just a couple weeks ago I was bundled up and walking around in the snow at Lake Tahoe. And now I'm wearing shorts and tank tops and complaining about how hot it is already this year. So I thought I'd dive into the hundreds of photos I took there, to "cool off". Looking at pictures of snow is somehow psychologically cooling. Another reminder of how strong our minds truly are.Whenever we go on a car trip I bring a piece of something from my garden to put on the dashboard. Usually rosemary since it is next to the driveway. Having the greenery and scent of home is a way to stay connected when we're out exploring. This time it was one of the zillions of lilac blooms. I could only bring one because of the powerful scent, it would have being too much. After being in the car for a few days, it looked ready for a little snow. So I left it as an offering near Fallen Leaf Lake.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Think Like an Artist

Panic is beginning to set in, as I can't find my camera! Yikes! So these fairly lousy cellphone camera shots will have to do for now of the work I accomplished in the amazing and wonderful Pamela Allen class this past weekend.
Our first piece was to be an exercise in monochrome. I went with peach pink orangey browns. This is how it looks with quite a bit of hand stitching added, as well as some beads that I happened to have in my work bag.
This was what the board looked like after the first exercise. The colorful floral piece is Jaye's, she wasn't doing the class projects, but there for more work in this piece started in a previous Pamela class.
This one was fun, Pamela gave us a small image of part of a painting or collage that had been printed out on fabric and we had to incorporate it into a small piece in 10 minutes. The three orange shapes I added are what she calls an "arbitrary artistic element", something that works in the piece but isn't necessarily part of the story. I protested and said they were chicken feet. Granted, very fat chicken feet.
Next we were given a piece of printed fabric and asked to extend the lines and incorporate the fabric piece into the whole new piece. When I got the zebra stripes my first thought was "oh crap, so high contrast and obvious". I realized that I didn't have the darks in my stash or really available to camoflauge it into an overall piece so I needed an emphatic color that would support and compete with equally those black and white stripes, this was red. As I started working with it the phrase "nature is red in tooth and claw came into my mind." So I just went with it. And was done fairly quickly after adding in some various white/cream silks of different weights. I really like this piece quite a bit.
So since I finished that quickly, Pamela gave me an assignment to work on while everyone else was busy, and it was to create textural dimension up and out of the 2d surface. This was pretty fun, although frustrating because I had lots of ideas, but doing it by hand and not machine was going to be way too slow.

Back for day 2 of class, we began by each talking about the pieces we'd created with the linear fabric. It was really interesting to hear what each person went through to make her piece, as well as the comments from Pamela as well as the group.

This was the final piece that we made, and it is the largest one. We were working on making additional volume, texture and pattern using preivously printed fabrics. I wish I had taken a before and after to show the difference between just the big pieces, unaltered, to this state. Iti s really quite dramatic. The theme of this is an industrial landscape which is based on the oil refineries in the North Bay we just drove by on our way to and from Lake Tahoe. It is quite striking, such a big contrast, all this machinery in the beautiful green hills.

I highly recommend taking a class from Pamela if you can. She is a great teacher, a fabulous art teacher and a very inspirational fabric artist. She manages the class time very well, is attentive to all the students, and is encouraging and challenging.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Apple Tree Time

One of our apple trees is gone crazy with blossoms. The other three trees have half as many blossoms.
I can see it out my window and it just shimmers with all that collected and processed sunlight.

The bees are of course very very happy
Just seeing these blossoms open, open, open make me happy also, even though I'm not a bee.

This is my favorite picture of all. It makes me think of a dance of apple blossom fairies.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Holiday Hilarity

Spring is such a holiday filled time of year, what with Ostara, Easter, Passover, Nowruz, and all the others. I find that when we experience holidays besides all the deep meaning, pageantry, celebration, behind all that there are always an occasion or two for having a whole lot of fun.

Whether the fun involves marshmallows shaped like chicks and bunnies: The Peeps Show is really amazing this year.

Or a new social-networking twist on a very very old tradition: A Facebook Haggadah. No, really.

And then there is always the trying to explain one's holiday to someone from another culture unintended comdedy: "Excuse me, but what's an Easter?" You just can't beat David Sedaris for holiday hilarity.

Attack of the Squabsters

My almost fourteen year old son Alex has always loved having me create little stuffed animals for him from his drawings and descriptions. But recently he decided to do one completely on his own. His main intention was to make a giant squid, because we'd seen a cool program about them not so long ago. He drew with Sharpie marker on some old red flannel sheeting and cut two pieces out. I did help him figure out how to sew the creature up so that the tentacles would be outside rather than inside (tricky the first time you do it). I also had to show him how to sew on the button eye. Hey, that sewing on a button skill is a must-teach survival skill in my opinion.

He took the original red one to school and it was promptly christened a Squabster, since it is somewhere between a Squid and a Lobster. His friends (both boys and girls) went wild for it and requested their very own Squabsters. He's made many many others, here is just one of the innovative ones made out of fake snakeskin with an interesting button eye. It cracks me up to think of all these too-cool-for-school middle schoolers running around with their little stuffed toys

He was crowding me at my sewing workspace so I had to give him my old sewing machine to use at his desk in his room. At first he was complaining about it not having the automatic thread cutter and knee lift, but he soon got used to it and was really happy to be sewing away in his own room, blasting tunes on his stereo. Luckily I have at least two of every sewing supply hanging around my studio, so was able to give him a pin cushion and scissors to use. Because if he steals the ones I always use, it will not be a good thing as I'm really particular about the pins I like to use, and there are only a few scissors that I really like a lot. grrrr, stay away from my stuff. Who knew I was so particular and territorial....

He comes home from school everyday with a new order request for a Squabster which he creates out of my fabric and button stash (hey, at least it is getting used for *something*). One kid even gave him the fabric and a button he wanted used in a little bag. So far he's just giving them away, but I told him to consider charging at some point in the future.

I'm personally quite thrilled about his interest in making stuff with fabric, it is really cool to have inspired this free-wheeling creative impulse in my own kid. My arms are sore now from patting myself on the back (grin).
(Oh and I did ask if I could write about this on my blog, along with the pictures, he said "sure I'm proud of my Squabsters")

Friday, April 10, 2009

In No Strange Land

Here is the first book I've worked in, (besides my own) of the altered board book round robin I'm participating in with other artists in the Traveler's Hart group. It is Lunaea's Jewels & Treasures.
my group,

Here's what it looks like inside with no flash.And here it is outside in the sun.

The pages were already a nice flat black gesso, a great base to work from, and I glued on a layer of crinkled purple tissue paper, then covered that up with purple and gold paints. The images are all magazine or catalog pictures, and old Italian stamps, and the poem is from a vintage book of poems I use for collage, on top of some Japanese candy wrapper with a cool pattern.
This is the left-hand page, taken outside so there is a shadow of the hand.
Some details of the left hand page, include some Italian stamps in various shades of purple and pink. And a shadowy hand that is....

A little popped-out, and sparkly of course.
This is the other side of the hand, it says Devotional.
Here is the poem, in case you can't read it:
O WORLD invisible, we view thee,
O world intangible, we touch thee,
O world unknowable, we know thee,
Inapprehensible, we clutch thee!

This poem helped me pull together the meaning of the collage I was making here in Lunaea's book. That this devotional impulse is one of our greatest treasures we ever do possess. If it requires spiraling into and out of the dark deep cave, traveling far away or just looking at the palm of our hands. It is all intangible and unknowable and invisible. But yet we reach for it.

This is the right hand page of the two page spread.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Luckily, Unluckily

Luckily, he wasn't on the freeway when the front axle broke.
Unluckily, he was on an almost blind corner on a rural road with no cellphone reception and no flares because he gave them to someone who needed them a few weeks ago.

Luckily, some passers-by 1) Didn't rear-end him in the dark, 2) Had Flares to Put Out , and 3)Had a cellphone that worked.
Unluckily, the tow truck took more than a half hour to arrive after I phoned it in.

Luckily, the nice police officer didn't give him a ticket for not having his registration tags on his license plate quite yet.
Unluckily, the place the officer parked blocked the road so many many people had to wait for the tow truck to finish.

Luckily there was somewhere to pull off and park while I waited for all the drama to be over.
Unluckily when I dashed out the door to go to the rescue, I didn't bring a warm enough coat so I had to stay in the car.

Luckily, the car eventually came off the tow truck even though it was hung up on the broken axle which was hanging down.
Unluckily, the car mechanic says to scrap it and get another one (he's been saying this for several years now.).

Luckily my car is very close to paid off now.
Unluckily, now we have to go car shopping again...

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Singing Sirens of Seaweed

I was at Natural Bridges beach last weekend, just for a short, windy, and kind of cold after a while visit with all the visiting priestesses of the Sisterhood of the Silver Branch. And from way way way across the beach these seaweed covered cliff rocks called to me. I was pulled to them without a word, holding only my camera as if in some kind of trance.
I had to take some pictures, even though I could not of course see the picture on the back of the digital camera in the very bright afternoon sun. I tried to not get to close up and to listen for the focusing sound of the lens going in and out. It seemed to work pretty well, as I got some fairly in-focus, clear photos, a bit glare-y, but that is what happens at 2pm at the beach.

Don't you love how mossy this looks? And how smooth and curvily sensuous the rocks are?

I don't know anything about seaweed, but I do know what I like to look at. If, and I'm just saying IF I were a seaweed monster I would want to be comprised of this stuff. I think it would be a real Cousin It effect. But smelly and wet of course.

This one gets rearranged every time a wave comes in and goes out. Those yellowy danglers move around quite a bit. Like party decorations moving in the wind.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Dots Done Directly

When you have to write a card to someone, what do you usually do? Sometimes I just use all the ones I've accumulated over the years. I'll buy interesting looking designs or textured paper notecards. Lately it seems I get a new set of note cards from charities trolling for donations every week (hello FINCA, I think I've gotten 7 sets over the last few months! Which makes me not want to donate...). I tend to use those freebie ones for the not so formal communications, like sending checks to people or businesses.

But when you're writing a thank you note or just a letter to someone, it is nice to make a card that you think will suit them. I don't usually take a lot of time to do these, sometimes it is just to use up excess paint from something else, or extra fabric or paper bits that need to be collaged on a very small scale.

In this case I was writing to Jaye who really really loves polka dots. So I took a watercolor paper card and used my Caran d'Ache watercolor crayons to make some brightly colored, randomly dispersed dots. After the addition of a little water, the card still needed something. Which in this case was some black pen circling the dots and adding some specks in the background.
I was pleased enough with how it turned out that I snapped this picture.

It makes me wonder whether this is a good enough type of design for a run at a Spoonflower custom fabric printing order??

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Sugar Magnolia

Well, I certainly fell off the blog wagon didn't I? I'm back on now for April, so get ready to read and look at pretty pictures...

It has been a busy week just past, a very packed weekend with a gathering of my Silver Branch priestess sisters, had an unexpected house guest, which was fabulous and wonderful, and the whole family enjoyed the visit, but that necessitated some major spring cleaning. Which is great, because now it is much nicer in the house.

Oh and my magnolia bloomed, I'm pretty sure for the first time since I planted it three years ago. So I took some pictures of the beautiful flowers. So exciting, I've been really looking forward to seeing this young tree with some blooms.The magnolia is up against a fence in the front yard in a wire cage to protect it from the deer. So far that seems to be working, as the tree is growing up enough to get to produce some flowers.

I just love the shape of the petals, and how they hide the inside goings on of the flower.But when the flower is opened up, all that reproductive equipment is so, out there, even well displayed. Fun fact I just found, magnolias evolved before bees and had to use beetles for pollination.

I'm really glad I figured out the macro function on my camera so that I could get some close ups.