Tuesday, June 30, 2009

When things come full circle...


Like most creative people, I am always itching to get back to my current project. I can be anywhere, having a perfectly lovely time, and STILL be thinking about it. Consequently, sometimes, just sometimes, I get a teensy weensy bit neglectful about things like housework, and cooking. So when my 16-year-old kept saying there was nothing to eat in the house, I just kept sewing and waved him toward the pantry. "There's a ton of food in there!" I said.

Turns out there wasn't exactly a ton. Turns out I needed to go to the grocery store. Pronto. And so I decided, instead of resenting the break in my creative flow, I would take some pics along the way. It's funny how circular life can be sometimes. I'll show you what I mean:

Here's Sophie. She likes to lay in the driveway. It's nice and cool in the shade, and she has a good view of things. So first off, I always have to coax Sophie out of the way.

She grudgingly gets up and 'takes me' to the end of the drive.

These is a field of wheat, or some sort of grain, growing in a field next to our neighborhood.


As I leave our little tract, I drive into the woods down Wildcat Road. These woods are the reason I love where we live. I never know what I'll see when I drive through them. Deer, raccoons, possum, foxes, cardinals, owls, turkey vultures, box turtles...black rat snakes. One of my first wildlife encounters when I moved here from California was seeing a 6 foot long rat snake coiled on Wildcat Road. I thought it was a roll of electrical conduit that had fallen off a truck, and then it MOVED. Both my son and I had the same reaction (as I slammed on the brakes), "WHOA! WHAT IN THE %$#%$# IS THAT????" I always think of that snake when I drive around this certain curve in the road.

I love the trees on this road, and the dappled light.

There are these fabulous daylilies growing all across Maryland right now. I keep forgetting to pack a spade...heh heh.

This is the home of the couple that started their farm here years ago. You can pick your own produce. But I needed more than fruit (darn), and so I ended up here:

Your typical grocery store, right? I'm always happy to be leaving. I pass this water tower before I turn into the woods.

I got home, and restocked the larder, and had just settled back in to my little workspace upstairs when I hear my husband yell, "There's a little rat snake on the front porch."

I hurry down, because everyone loves to see a snake, right?

Thank god the front door was closed! Gizmo (the pug) thinks he's made a new friend. Needless to say, I reminded my husband that a 'little rat snake' is NOT four feet long. Maybe four inches long.
Here's the good news: I no longer have to feel guilty about not weeding in the front of the house.
Which gives me more time for making stuff!
You have to love how things work out sometimes. :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer and a WIP


I know it's summer when:

1. I'm not yelling in the mornings.
2. Corn comes in a jacket.
3. Gnats swarm me when I mow the lawn.
4. My Saturday pancakes have fresh blueberries in them.
5. Jimmie Cone is open for business. Vanilla soft-serve ice cream...yum.
6. I have to get out of my car and move frogs off the driveway before I can park.
7. The fireflies come out of the woods to say howdy at dusk.
8. I eat dinner at 9 and it still seems too early.
9. I switch from hot tea in the morning to iced tea. Actually, make that switching to iced tea all day.
10. Gnats swarm me when I am not mowing the lawn.

Summer rocks. There is nothing better than heading outside, just as the last bit of sun is going down, and puttering in the yard while my dogs wrestle and I inhale a few hundred more gnats. Free protein, right? While I work I can hear the kids in the neighborhood yelling to each other. A dedicated neighbor mowing. Frogs chirping happily in my used-to-be-swimming pool. Birds saying their little 'good-nights' to each other. Yeah, summer is good. :)

(The WIP is a small painting of my Raven Girl, rising above the skelly garden - reminding me to rise above certain things, too. Especially gnats:)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!


Happy Father's Day to all the Dads who are there, every day, for their kids. Even when you feel like pulling out your hair. Even when you feel like locking your daughters in the closet. Or when you feel like pointing to the door and saying "Go West, young man!" to your sons. For hanging tough, hanging in there, and setting the example as a stand-up guy. (And especially for all those gearhead skills that you impart to those of us who are challenged in that department. :) It's not an easy job, but man, is it important. So while I'm at it, I want to say a special thank you to my hubby, who is a heck of a dad, and an excellent friend, too. He's helped raise 6 kids, so it's no wonder his beard is going gray! Happy Father's Day - I hope I don't burn the flan!

Take it easy today, fathers everywhere, and let the little rugrats wait on you. Take a nice nap. Live it up! It's your day. :)

Friday, June 19, 2009

The chaos of the purge...


The concept of 'Spring Cleaning' is a great one. You get rid of things you don't need, and clean the house, giving you a fresh start in time for summer. Unfortunately, for our family, Spring seems to be the worst time to focus on the house. We're just focusing on getting everyone up and out the door for school. We're focusing on remembering where we put our shoes, and the permission slips for that last field trip. Burnout has set in, and the last thing any of us want to do it clean. We just want to survive until summer. But now that summer vacation is a whopping three days old, my crew is purging with a vengeance.

Granted, I am standing over them with a whip (and holding hostage the remote controls, the car keys, and cash - the trinity of summer), but still, they are doing a fine job of purging. It's one of the things I am really proud of with my kids - they don't have a problem letting go of things. When they were little, all I had to say was, "I think some other little kid would love to play with this, don't you?" and 'wham' it was in the giveaway box. The empathy gene is alive and well. This is a good thing, not only because it makes them nice humans, but because our house would quickly fill to the rooftop if it was missing.

So now that summer vacation is a whopping three days old, everyone is purging their rooms. I'm trying very hard not to hyperventilate from the piles of clothing, shoes, books, and toys that have accumulated on every surface in the house.

It explains my new skelly painting, which I call "Survivor Skelly". Sure he's standing on a tiny pink island, waves crashing against the shore, scary bats flying around his head, and dead fish swimming in the skelly sea. But this skelly is a survivor!

So here's to getting through the next thing on the list. Whatever it is. For me, it's surviving the purge. :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

There are always more questions...

My sister has been visiting me from Iowa, so we’ve been playing tourist in DC (which is about 20 miles south of where I live). These pictures are from the National Arboretum, and there are a couple from the National Cathedral. (I forgot my camera, so they're from my cell.)

A couple of days ago, Susan from 29 Black Street tagged me, and there were some fun questions, so here are my answers. I added a new question at the end. Anyone reading this can be tagged if they’d like to be!

What is your current obsession?
How can I be expected to pick one obsession? I’ll try. I’m currently obsessed with painting, and specifically, painting strange little skeletons. I’m obsessed with editing a picture book that refuses to assume its correct form.

And I’m obsessed with my family (furry members as well). Are they eating right? Sleeping well? You know, all the stereotypical overly-protective mothering stuff.

What is your weirdest obsession? Hmm…I suppose chocolate doesn’t count.

What are you wearing today? A plaid cotton shirt from Salvation Army (I thrift shop A LOT), jeans and tennis shoes.

What's for dinner? Chicken curry with rice

What would you eat for your last meal? I’m not sure I would eat. Who could eat food at a time like that? I would be busily apologizing to God for doubting his existence. Then I would ask for a large glass of cognac.

What's the last thing you bought? 2 postcards from the National Cathedral gift shop in Washington, DC. There is a stained glass window there about space. It’s not your traditional stained glass window. The card doesn’t capture the blue of the light coming through – it was amazing.

What are you listening to right now? My daughter and her boyfriend are discussing going to Jimmie Cone for ice cream. My husband is shooting zombies on his laptop. My big dog is panting because she just came in from chasing something outside, probably a rabbit.

What do you think of the person who tagged you? Susan is a warm, loving person who cares deeply about her friends and her animals. She is very creative, and an excellent writer. I think she speaks to many of us who are trying to figure out the ‘next chapter’ before us. She is honest and funny.

If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished, anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be? Some part of me fantasizes about living in the typical English village, where we live in a cozy cottage, steps from the local market (and local pub). Some place where I knew the people well, and the countryside was loverly. Or if that didn’t work out, Hawaii - haha. Actually, anywhere we could be together (family-wise) is swell by me. I’d have to insist on a tree or two. No wall to wall concrete.

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go? It’s not of this world, but I’d love to see what it looks like up there in outer space – maybe looking back at Earth. An hour isn’t really enough time to see another country, or a famous place (like the Great Wall), but it would be enough time to talk with someone. It would also be very cool to hang out with Obama for an hour. If I could go back in time, I’d like to talk to someone like Mark Twain.

Which language do you want to learn? Dolphin or great ape

What's your favorite quote (for now)? I have never let my schooling interfere with my education (Twain)

What is your favorite color? You know, I’m not sure I have one.

What is your favorite piece of clothing in your own wardrobe? An extra large gray sweatshirt.

What is your dream job? I want to create things and get paid for them (just enough money to limp along).

Describe your personal style – casual with a ‘maybe she works on a ranch’ flavor.
What is your favorite tree? Trees! I love trees. I love pine trees, oaks, and dogwoods, and cottonwoods, and Japanese maples and all kinds of trees. Love trees. No favorites.

What are you going to do after this? I’m going to go sit in the living room with my sister and sip a glass of wine, while discussing and solving all the problems in the world. Then I am going to bed.

What is your favorite fruit? Watermelon. I also love blueberries, cherries, cantaloupe and crisp apples.

What inspires you? The amazing things other people do. The Earth and all its fabulous critters.

Your favorite books? Since I am a children’s author, my favorite books are children’s books. I can’t pick a favorite book, but one of my favorite authors is Roald Dahl.

What are you currently reading? A children’s book (what a surprise!). I think the title is Monster Hunter. It’s about a kid who accidentally lets monsters into our world when he has nightmares. He’s training at an academy to learn how to use his ‘powers’ for good! :)

Go to your bookshelf, take down the first book with a red spine you see, turn to page 26 and type out the first sentence:
“The mouse look at her rather inquisitively, and seemed to her to wink with one of its little eyes, but it said nothing.”
(from The Annotated Alice in Wonderland)

What delighted you the most today?
Watching my youngest hug my sister, who is visiting from Iowa. He’s 11, so hugging is not as frequent as it used to be, but this was a good hug.

By what criteria do you judge a person? I look for kindness in people. If that is there, it seems like the rest follows suit.

Are you artistic or crafty ? how does your passion show up in your life ?
I’m not sure what I am. My education is in artsy, but I definitely love me some good crafty. So maybe I’m a little of both. All I know is that my entire life, since I was little, I have loved to make things. So whatever that is, I’m that. I think like most creative people, I shy away from the ‘artist’ label because I don’t feel like I’m good enough? Same with writing. At some point though, you just throw those labels out there and see what happens. So far, no one has fainted when I’ve used them in regards to myself.

Here's the question I've added: Who would you like to be reincarnated as?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Okay, people have talent coming out of their eyeballs...

Sometimes it can be overwhelming when you look at all the talent there is in the world. I mean, look at Clem's work. I found him on etsy not long ago, and fell in love with his watercolors. His work has a sense of light and atmosphere that blows me away! It would be very easy to curl up into a little ball and never, ever create again. But oddly, I find discovering new artists energizing. I might not ever conquer watercolor, but these colors really speak to me. Besides, I need a flippin' vacation in the worst way, and a trip to Europe ain't in the cards. So looking into Clem's paintings is the next best thing.

Speaking of art, am I the only person out there that has about 50 prints that need to be framed and hung on the wall? I have made a promise to myself: to finally frame the print that my husband bought me for my anniversary THREE YEARS ago (don't worry Clem, yours is framed and on the wall, I promise. ;) I'm like a kid in a candy shop with this stuff. I can't get enough. It's a serious addiction.

As far as bad habits go, I guess it's a pretty tame one. At least I'm not spending the mortgage money (yet). Here's my new angle: if I blog about some of these talented artists every now and then, it somehow justifies me buying their work! Heh? Why? I have no idea, just go with me on this.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

In the garden of happy skellys...


I've already confessed to being random in my creative endeavors. :) But I've decided there is some wisdom to casting one's net far and wide. For one thing, you never know what you'll catch. I think lately I've caught skelly fever. The only known cure is to just keep drawing and making skellys until I obsessed on something new. So here is my latest skelly - a little painting. It's very strange, but for some reason I find skeletons amazingly joyful. I get all sorts of cheery when I see Day of the Dead art, and Halloween makes me deliriously happy. :)

There's one other thing that I've been obsessing over lately: frogs. Specifically, the colony of a more than a ga-billion frogs that has decided that the above-ground swimming pool in our backyard is the perfect place to start their own froggy civilization. There are so many that I half expect to see frog palaces begin to spring up on top of the pool cover. Perhaps a frog metro-rail to take them to and from the deck to the pool! Last night I took a flashlight and peered into the pool. Tadpoles, tadpoles, tadpoles.




So even though I haven't taken any recent frog pictures yet (I will try!), I thought I would share some froggies (toadies?) of Amphibian Invasions Past.


Ribbit, ribbit! :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Raven Girl WIP


As promised, I'm posting my raven girl doll (wearing the skirt that she loves!). I've named her Lenore. Every now and then I make something that I am very tempted to keep. This is one of those pieces, but it's going to SpookyTimeJingles to hang out with the groovy Halloween offerings for this month. Besides, I'm sure there is another Bird Girl flitting around in my head.

I'm not exactly sure where the raven girl came from, but in my mind, she is everything I would love to be: strong, mysterious, watchful, and yet, still playful. After all, she can fly and dance.


She started out as black felt and muslin. At first I thought she would wear a witch's hat, but later I decided not.





I stitched up her wings.






Painted her eyes (she has one on each side).





Sewed and painted her legs.










I stitched on her eyes and realized she needed something.
Lenore told me it was a skirt (she's very chatty for a raven).
I obliged and made her a skirt from black lace.



Then I embellished her with steel-gray seed beads, some amber glass beads along the edge of her wings, and black ric-rac around her waist. That's my favorite part, adding the final touches. :)