Archive for December, 2010

Bring On 2011

Friday, December 31st, 2010

I am spending the last day of 2010 tying up some loose ends both personal and SDA job related. One of the things I wanted to get done was making a spiffy cover for my sketchbook.

I used some scraps of my hand-dyed and printed fabrics and fused them together.

I used gel medium to attach the fused pieces to the sketchbook and then did a layer of medium over everything.

Once it is completely dry, I will attach a ribbon tie to hold the fat thing together!! I am very happy with the whole project and part of me does not want to send it off. But that is what I signed on to do and I will enjoy knowing it is out there for others to see.

How you feeling about the end of 2010 and the start of a new year? I always spend some time pondering where I have been and where I would like to go.

As an artist, I tried some new things this past year. So far I have not had great success entering them in venues, but I plan to continue some of the exploration (more on that later) and attempt to push myself in new directions and also honing the work I find satisfying.

As an aging woman, I am mindful that I must keep taking care of myself. My sinuses seem to be under control for the time being. The ENT said not to come back unless I have a totally awful sinus infection! I did have a very serious incident with my blood pressure which scared the heck out of me. I am on new medication and seem to have it under control. I know I need to continue to eat carefully and keep an active life. Scooter is a big help, but I think it is time for me to join a gym and do some weightlifting and possibly some water aerobics.

As a busy person. I flit from project to job to activity, leaving a trail of detritus on my desk, in my studio, in the tv room or where ever I have been doing something. I find that the day comes when I can’t take it any more and I have to spend the day cleaning up after myself. I want to simplify my life and so I plan to spend 15 – 20 minutes a day tackling the detritus of the day before. I know that I can set my timer for 15 minutes and get a whole lot done that I would otherwise put off.

My 2011 Project: I have devised a project for the coming year. If you read my blog very often, you know that I buy lots of great books. I thumb through them and then they end up in a pile some place in my office. My goal for 2011 is to start going through my books and selecting exercises, perhaps one a week, which I will chronicle on the blog. I think Friday or Saturday of each week, I will plan to post what I have done for that week.

I had so much fun making the cover for my sketchbook this morning. It felt good to be in my studio thinking about color and design! I have lots of deadlines coming up. I have taken a month or more off from serious art work. It is time to jump back in and I can hardly wait.

I want to thank all my readers, known and unknown. You keep me going. You make my life interesting. You keep me thinking. You make me laugh. I wish you the best for the coming year. I hope you will continue to come here as I soon start my sixth year of blogging.

Tonight we are going out to dinner and then going to hear Pink Martini, a Portland musical group that we love. Here is a sample.

The Tranquil Time

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010


This time between Christmas and New Year’s is always a laid back time in our house. There are left overs to be eaten. No meetings to go to. No deadlines. Mr C and I have been watching lots of movies that we download from Netflix, mainly subtitled foreign films that require my complete attention!!

I have spent some time in my studio and office and am happy to report that it is looking quite spiffy for the start of the new year. I have thrown all my silk fabrics in the colors for the next Twelve x Twelve  theme on to my work table. I must say – they make a glorious sight. I am not sure which ones will make it in to the final piece.

While I was cleaning up, I found my Flip Video camera that I bought on Black Friday. It is so tiny, I am going to have to be careful. I got it charged and set up, but that is as far as I have gotten. I hope to have some fun with it. Expect several goofy Scooter videos.

I am happy to report that Steph and family are all recovered from that crappy virus. She is planning a redo of Mia’s birthday celebration which was canceled due to her illness.

We are due to get some snow flurries tomorrow; it will be a relief from the incessant rain we have been experiencing. On Thursday, I have a conference call to start learning about and get training about administering the new SDA website which is to make its debut around the 15th of January.

So that is the news from tranquil Eastmoreland where we patiently await the new year. We are in better shape than this Santa that we saw on our walk in the neighborhood, yesterday.

If my photos seem different, it is because WordPress is unusually cranky tonight. Not sure what the problem is!

Happy Christmas!

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

We have had a scaled down celebration this year. Steph, Jack and Mia are still recovering from the crappy virus. They came last night for a couple of hours. I made a delicious cabbage, leek and chicken sausage soup which we ate with mini sandwiches followed by some Christmas goodies. We opened Christmas gifts to each other, and they had left for home to go back to bed by 7 pm.

Mr C and I went to midnight mass at Trinity and got there early enough to sit in the front row which was very pleasant especially during the pre-service music program. I actually wore a dress, something I have not done for a long time. It is an Eileen Fisher wool knit which I wore with tights.  Here is the dress – a bit longer on me. It may sound silly, but it made me happy to find a dress that I could wear with my weird body.

Today the family came over for a short time for lasagna, salad and pumpkin cheesecake. I could tell that Steph felt a lot better because she had seconds of the lasagna. They only stayed a short time. Both Miles and Mia were engrossed in their personal obsessions.

Miles and his latest Lego Star Wars set.

Mia is reading a new book by Richard Riordin about Greek gods.

The little nativity figures up at the top are a gift from Lisa. They were made in Tibet, I think. Very sweet. My favorite nativity set has to be the one the Kristin La Flamme made for me. Well, actually, we did a trade. I love all the details she has put into each figure.

Mr C gave me this beautiful necklace made by a Portland artist, Elaine Tan. I picked it out at our November Artisans sale at Trinity. It has lava beads, green jade and silver.

Steph gave me this book by Maira Kalman, And The Pursuit of Happiness. I just love her illustrations. With it is a new apron from Lisa.

Lisa’s partner, Clay, took a wood block printing class a couple of months ago and she made prints of Lisa’s dog, Wilfredo. I think she did such a great job and hinted that I would like one. She got it nicely framed for me.

I really enjoyed our simpler holiday. I am feeling tired, but very happy. I had lots of phone time with both Mark and Lisa. I was so tired from the late night and the cooking that I fell asleep this afternoon. I am heading to the studio tomorrow. First thing is to clean up from the coaster making frenzy. Then, I must get my next Twelve X Twelve done. We are delaying the reveal because of the holiday. So look for what we all do on January 12.

I hope your holiday was merry, too.

Handmade Ornaments

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Mia and Miles spent the afternoon and helped me get the tree decorated and the manger scenes set up. There is Miles hard at work.  Mia is much better, but has lost a lot of weight.

Mia asked if we got a smaller tree or was she getting bigger! I told her it was a bit of both.

The tree is looking good. I love hanging the ornaments and remembering where each one came from. Many of my ornaments were gifts from friends and family. I thought I would share some of my favorite homemade ornaments.

These two were both made by my sister-in-law, Kristin  — a crocheted snowflake and a patchwork.

This crewel piece was made by my best friend and neighbor when we lived in San Jose. It is a beautiful crewel piece.

This is an origami ornament that Miles made for me last year.

The next 3 ornaments were made by my mother-in-law, Ruth; she almost always had some hand work going.

My other sister-in-law made these two clothespin ornaments for us, years ago.

And this clothespin Mexican donkey is a favorite, too.

I am repeating my affirmations that I can get every thing done to create a lovely Christmas for the Portland contingent of the family. Steph is still not well and isn’t sleeping because she is coughing so much.

If you don’t hear from me for a few days, know that I am busy wrapping and baking and last minute shopping.

The Scenic Route

Monday, December 20th, 2010

We are Home, Sweet, Home after 3 grueling flights from Syracuse to Portland. We left Syracuse uneventfully on Sunday morning and arrived in Philadelphia with little time to spare as we took a shuttle to another terminal and grabbed a sandwich before we boarded our plane to Phoenix.

Then, it all came to a screeching halt as we waited and waited and waited for the plane to take off. Their were a couple of minor equipment repairs, one being a clogged drain in one of the bathrooms. They kept telling us it was a paperwork snafu. At one point, I was on the verge of a panic attack. Steve and I were not seated together so I couldn’t lean on him for comfort. I finally stood up and was able to talk to him in the row opposite. We were an hour late taking off, and we had that sinking feeling that we would not make our connection to Portland.

To add insult to injury, they ran out of meals by the time they got to our row. My half a sandwich did not hold up for the six hours that I was on the plane. I had a protein bar in my purse which got me through, but I was in major meltdown mode by the time we got off the plane in Phoenix. I did get this poor photograph of an exquisite sunset as we flew into Phoenix.

Our choices were to have standby for the later flight to Portland or stay in a hotel and have confirmed seats in the morning. I really wanted to go home. We did not have our luggage, and really, who can make a decision with low blood sugar. After sitting down and eating a chicken Caesar salad and drinking a big glass of wine, my good sense returned and we took the night in the hotel and flew home this morning.

We saw some beautiful scenery as we flew northwest over the mountains. Much of the land was shrouded in clouds, but occasionally we got some terrific views.

I think today is the first day that I have not cried in a few weeks. It has been an emotional roller coaster since Thanksgiving. Who can explain the melancholy that sometimes envelopes us? Whatever it was — angst over my sister’s plight, my struggles with my health or my feeling that I had lost my way artistically. Whatever it was, I think I am moving beyond. The winter solstice arrives tomorrow with the promise of longer days and light returning.

I wanted to share the poem, When I Am Among the Trees, which was read at my brother-in-law’s service.

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness,
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

~ Mary Oliver ~