Saturday, May 29

nature calls


I've been taking time the past few days to visit the gardens at Morris Arboratum. Yesterday, while sitting on a secret hidden bench amongst the honeysuckle, a bow-legged and extremely furry woodchick sauntered by me, not three feet from my left ankle. He did not know I was there. Woodchucks are the pirates of the local fauna - independent, unwashed, with an Aaarr!on their lips as they boldly hang out in dangerous places (grazing roadside, for example.) This hoary little fellow was no different. Bold and swashbuckling. I watched him as he swaggered off, following a path hidden under the mint.


Then I turned to see where he had come from and saw, gliding along, a prim, lithe, yellow-striped garter snake. Lovely and silent and watchful.

And two hummingbirds came, feeding from tall purple spires of meadow sage.

Bees buzzed, and the air was filled with the smell of roses, so strong it was almost visible.

Thursday, May 27

the studio universe


This is the first photo out of my repaired SX-70 Polaroid Land camera since it has returned from the void ~ a neccessary development since I had dropped it right before my New Orleans trip a few weeks back. Looks good as new! Thank goodness. Though I have been charmed by my back-up SX-70, well...you know the story...

Life is good.

I have a show coming up in about 10 days ~ one I do each year, at Orchard Artworks, a cooperative fine arts & crafts gallery. We, the members (from knitters to woodworkers to printmakers) run the gallery, set up shows, do press releases: all the minutiae of running a gallery. It's rather fun and very interesting. Not least is the fact that the gallery is placed in a semi-restored revolutionary-war era farmhouse, which used to be surrounded by apple orchards (hence, the name.) (Here's me at last year's opening.)

So my present days are spent at a messy studio desk, rooting around and exploring, and making art. I'll post some photos before the show goes up. Sometimes, if I'm working on some portable sewing, I can work in the backyard. But, I have to watch it, because if I get up...


I don't get my seat back.


FYI * (Comments close at midnight tonight for the giveaway from my Artist Spotlight interview over at Sheena's blog, The Little Red House!)

Wednesday, May 26

time to read, (& a giveway!)


Last night's moon was stunning ~ glowing in a humid blue sky while I, wearing crimson and fuschia and velvet, sat underneath, on white clover, and saw it.

Then I went inside, poured a seltzer & oj, lit a candle, and watched the DVR'd last episode of Lost with Tim. Oh, Lost. Long have I half-watched you while reading a book, my feet in Tim's lap to take advantage of the fact that he squeezes them during stressful sequences...

I've been reading a completely riveting book series lately, and it's actually been affecting my studio work. As in, I'd rather read than work. Ahem...It's to the point where I have to set my timer to limit my reading throughout the day. I'm the type of reader who, with clarity and focus, could sit down and read through a whole day. And way into the wee hours of the morning. For obvious reasons, I usually try not to book-binge like that very often. (When I do, it's a complete wonderful luxury!) That's where the timer comes in. I feel a little silly about it ~ but it seems to be working. Most days I use the timer to focus my work ~ with my studio in the house, the distractions are numerous. Never have I used it to limit my reading!

How do you balance things like that? Anyone else have this kind of experience?

*Be sure to stop over at Sheena Jibson's blog, The Little Red House, today ~ She's doing a feature on my work and photography and I've made something special for a giveaway!

Monday, May 24

a philosophy of weeds


In my world lately, my life seems to be mostly about the inside of my studio, the inside of my bookshelf, and the garden. And the pets. The pets are what make me go out for my walk every day, sometimes more than once. They're there when I cook, curl up on the couch with a book, do yoga on the rug, and work in the studio. They know the sound of my car, and of my footstep on the front stoop.

But the only one who's allowed in the garden with me is Mimi. No dogs allowed in the garden. I've seen the seeds take sprout and grow this spring ~ the hidden roots of the perennials returning to send up shoots that are now small bushes of pink aster, furry chamomile, bright yarrow, majestic foxglove beardtongue, and meadow sage, which tower above the smaller herbs. Mimi cannot now be seen when she walks in the garden. She can blend in, disappear, you'll never see her again. With any luck, she's got the grail already... Cough. Sorry...sidetracked. (name that movie!)

I was weeding today: more specifically, pulling up the lovely rampaging purple allysum that took off like wildfire from a couple of packets of seed. Gardening, to me, is always an interesting echo of living my life. Finding the balance of what does best where, in what amounts, and pruning and trimming when necessary. Thinning the allysum is the tough decision this week ~ those pretty little plants, growing there in their glory...as they steal the sun so delicately from my herbaceous border. It's tough to pull them up. They're so present: there, now, alive. I feel for them. As my husband quoted to me the other day, A weed is just a plant in the wrong place.

It's so sweet how he remembers what I tell him.

In other news this week ~ On wednesday, my artwork and photography will be featured by Sheena Jibson over at The Little Red House. It's part of her artist spotlight series, and a little interview with yours truly will be there, along with a giveaway! If you've a mind to, stop by over there ~ (I love her photography.)

Saturday, May 22

afternoon


A balmy white-skied day where the weather can't seem to make up it's mind to be one thing or another ~ an impending thundercloud ~ a good book ~ a few free hours before Tim and I head downtown to see Momix ~ some honeyed tea and a lap-cat. My day seems to be shaping up.

Thursday, May 20

midweek camping




Unexpectedly lovely.

Wednesday, May 19

poppies


The oriental poppies in the neighborhood beckon to me from blocks away. I know each garden where they reside. I simply cannot get enough of them. Little ladies in crinkled silk, shy and waving, with those intense black velvet centers. When I visited Flanders, I saw fields of flanders poppies, small, folded, red. They were stunning, like a flock of blood-red butterflies, bright as cherries. Frivolous, somehow, compared to these stately oriental poppies, each one full-blown like a battleship, swaying on the currents of the breeze, elusive as a great red migratory bird, soon to have passed on.

Tuesday, May 18

doggone it


Yesterday I saw a blue-eyed husky running down the sidewalk (the sidewalk, mind you, not the street, smart critter) with a veritable grin splitting his face. I think I heard a chuckle on the wind as he breezed by. A minute or so later, a strapping young thirty-something came trotting after him, muttering to himself. Then, as I rounded the corner (I was taking a studio break and driving to the thrift shop), I saw a pair of sunshine-dappled, leash-holding women. One leash had a dog on the end, one leash had none.

I can still hear that dog's chuckle.



And can someone please come over and tell me to stop taking so many Polaroids of my pets. I've been taking Saturdays and Sundays off to relax and catch up on my reading, and it seems like all I do is sip tea, read for a page, and then look up and one of them is in another position of unbearable sweet fuzziness and...well, if you have pets, you know how it is.

I read The Eight, by Katherine Neville, this weekend and it was history, chess, Russia, hidden secret codes, adventure, Algeria and all sorts of fun stuff. I couldn't put it down. As in, take it to the bathroom with me couldn't-put-it-down.

And I have to share these amazing Flickr polaroids. I want them for my own. Here and here and here and here. And this photo is so lovely it makes me sigh and smile.

Monday, May 17

my personal mythology


Sunday my mind was in turmoil: a gentle compassionate state of loneliness. Most of the time I love my solitude and guard it gladly. But sometimes, once in a great while, I long to have a different character: one that embraces a home full of acquaintences and friends, busy comings and happenings, full of movement and shy of nothing. One that has energy for everyone and every conversation, and can still go into the studio and have something to say.

But I've learned that the two don't coexist well for me. I can't, so to speak, have my cake and eat it too. In my solitude lots and lots of lovely things happen, which wouldn't be happening if I spent that creative currency elsewhere.

It's like a story from mythology, only I am both the hero and the Hydra. I'm Daedelus, the labyrinth, and the beast, altogether.

I think yesterday was a beast type of day. Just getting by, trying to find my sight and my balance, feeling not quite wholly one creature yet not another, and filled with primitive and non-rational emotions.

I spent the day in the back garden, next to a pot of tea, with my nose in a book, and the scent of the white iris filling the air. Didn't make things seem less beastly, but it didn't hurt, either. :)

Saturday, May 15

speechless


Oh, what lovely weather! That breeze, that sun, that saturday feeling. The cat doing her saturday yoga.

I was just laying on my stomach in the back garden, getting a photo of Mimi crouched in the yarrow (she thinks no one can see her) when I heard the characteristic BBBHHHHHHHhhh of a hummingbird overhead. I happened to be right under the feeder, so caught a glimpse of his silhouette against the blue sky. I think I frightened him ~ here he was, hungry from a long journey up north, sees a lovely red feeder, and just as he's about to sip, the ground beneath twists into a ponytailed, yoga-pant-wearing person. With a camera. He took off.

I immediately came inside and made fresh sugar-water. And a pot of tea. I refilled the feeder and of course every 30 seconds I'm popping up to see if he's back.

He'll be back.

Last summer we had a hummer stay for weeks ~ defending our feeder against other hummers ~ perching daintily on the cosmos stems. I checked on him multiple times per hour. One day, our rottweiler Donovan was laying under the feeder, sunning himself like a good turtle. We had just been to the beach the day before, and the green horseflies were so demonic we'd had to wrap the dogs in the beach blankets. So there's Donovan, sleeping nose deep in clover, when a huge BBBBHHHHHhhhh noise awakens him from peaceful slumber ~ there, hovering a foot away, is the biggest horsefly he's ever seen in his life. You could see this is what he was thinking. Oh my god, that thing is enormous. And the hummingbird's suspiciously hovering there thinking, What's that huge beast gonna do to me? I don't know who was more freaked out. It so happened that both Tim and I were present for this spectacle and we were both in stitches. I just love a good laugh, don't you?

I'm heading back out with my pot of tea ~ Enjoy your weekend, and whatever it brings!

Friday, May 14

seeing double


It was a day for dueling teapots.

Thursday, May 13

the midas touch


I am so happy to have added 7 more prints of my Polaroids to my shop!

Presently reading Absence and Presence, by Pablo Neruda and Luis Poirot, (thanks, maddie) in tandem with A New Kind of Country, by Dorothy Gilman. Both are so good I'm tempted to sit in a hot bath and read them, one after the other, until I am wrinkled like an autumn pepper. The temperature has dropped here the last few days and our hours are chilly!

On our latest sunny day, Tim built a rope trellis for our hops vines over the back porch in order to throw the hot afternoon chairs into some shade. Little hops are growing already and in preparation for his brother's eventual homebrew, Tim has been sipping Midas Touch, a beer made from ~ "an ancient Turkish recipe using the original ingredients from the 2700 year old drinking vessels discovered in the tomb of King Midas." Really.

And the most wonderful thing happened yesterday. I came across a new-to-me blog, Mocking Bird, and discovered a tutorial for how to apply a gel filter to my Polaroid film. I ordered some on ebay ~ now, perhaps, the overexposure I've been working with will be resolved. So sweet. I do hope this works.

Hope you're enjoying your week too. :)

Wednesday, May 12

eggshells & poppies


Enjoying these dreamy blue nights, when the blue glows and embraces the trees, the raindrops falling like pennies into the soft garden soil.

This morning I found pieces of bird's eggshell on my car.

When I walk, I'm watching the crow fly to her hidden nest, and, two blocks and a left turn away, the crimson oriental poppies still shrouded in their hoary jackets. Any day now a slit will break in the enfolding sepals and the glowing red will show through, crumpled and secret, shy before its crinkly debut.

Monday, May 10

oh, spring...

...you charmer, you.

Saturday, May 8

polaroid bliss


Polaroid prints are starting to trickle into my shop! More are on their way and please do let me know if you've had your eye on a Polaroid from my blog or flickr, and I will be happy to post a print for you in the shop.

I am so excited I could scream. Instead, I'm celebrating. I'm off to hit a flea market on this fine Saturday morning. :)

Friday, May 7

fun facts of myself


I collect Pyrex bowls. Confront me with a Pyrex bowl at a thrift shop and it's probably coming home with me.

I make at least one pot of tea every day even though I can't handle much caffeine.

I eat honey straight.

I like weeding.

I have to be barefoot in the house.

I throw water balloons against my garden wall when I feel just too angry for anything.

I pluck at stoplights.

While driving, if there's a hawk sitting in a tree anywhere in the vicinity, I'll spot it.

When I travel, I always bring home a rock.

I have to take off all my jewelry at night.

I wear earplugs at the movies.

I love writing letters by hand.

I can feel my eyelashes catching on each other and sometimes that drives me nuts.

My teeth are placed in such a way that there is this certain spot where pieces of spinach, etc. always catch. When I ask my husband how my teeth are after a meal out, he always looks right at that spot to see if I'm in the clear.

I make chocolate chip scones an average of once a week. Recipe here.

I like following garage sale signs.

:::

What about you? Care to share a fun fact or two of note about yourself?

Thursday, May 6

all work and no play


I've been working hard lately on getting those Polaroid prints up and running (my brain feels like fuzz) and took a break yesterday evening. Of course I spent the break taking photos, wandering and weeding in the garden with the cat underfoot, and looking for four-leafed clovers in the lawn.

Which reminds me of my dog walking lately. When they stop to sniff, I stop to look for four-leafed clovers. I tend to be the one still lingering when they tug on the other end of the leash.

I also, amongst the endless errands yesterday (how do errands expand like marshmallows in the microwave?), went to Produce Junction for bananas to freeze for smoothies, and found some amazing purple strawflowers with yellow centers.

And here they are greeting me like little Inca suns.

What have you done lately that's a little bit special for yourself?

Wednesday, May 5

polaroids & sunshine


I'm between books right now and that always feels a little unsettling. I've got some requests in at the library so will have one again, soon, but meanwhile I feel like something's...not quite right.

Today I find out if my Polaroid prints look good, or not, and will post them accordingly into the shop, or not. I can't wait to pick them up! ~ It happens to be Polaroid Week on flickr, so have a look at all the fantastic polaroids out there!

And the weather is being seductively gorgeous again, tempting me outside with languid promises of warmth and sunbeams. I just might listen.

Tuesday, May 4

little beast


Yesterday I took some of my polaroids over to a local photo shop to get prints made. I'm very excited to say I might have some prints for sale in my shop very soon! I. adore. Polaroid. They make me giddy with their magic. I've been doing a lot of revamping in my shop this week, it's rather my focus, and I'm really looking forward to finishing up and having all be crisp and clean. It's kind of like making the bed: my shop's been rumpled and slept in all winter, but now ~ airing out and fresh sheets are getting the job done. I suppose it's Spring Cleaning.
 
My new used SX-70 arrived in the mail the other day, and I call it my little beast. It must have been sitting around in a basement since, oh, the seventies, for it's a bit mouldy. Looks like a world globe on the leather. But works just fine, except that the focus dial doesn't actually work. So, each shot is a guess on the depth of field. For some reason, this doesn't bother me. I have a pretty good eye for a foot, or a foot & a half, or whatnot, and it's rather exciting playing with it. I'm taking shots I wouldn't normally take. Very exciting!

In fact, life's feeling pretty exciting in general about now. The sun is beaming, the purple poppies are bursting up from the soil in silky wrinkled little green packages, the beets are growing even more red-stemmed, the white irises have popped. The fan is blowing and I'm even a bit chilly, which is pretty nice since yesterday was so humid any open books laying around were warping. The neighborhood hawk is keeeeew!-ing high above, so high she looks like a dot and we must look like toys.

Monday, May 3

Reasons why camping is The Best


1. Simplicity: life becomes very, very basic.

2.  Living with less, at least for a short time.

3. Other campers and what they brought: their dogs, their rugs, their cockatiel. The little touches that reveal their lives.

4. The incredible perspectives I gain on my everyday life.

5. Being out in the weather. Rain, Shine, Wind, Dark. Experiencing the reality of the natural world.

6. Setting up camp and then putting the water on to boil for pasta, slicing some cheese, eating a pear, and reading my book.

7. Using the camp stove for tea.

8. How normal events become special and valued: a shower, a quiet space, a creek walk, time to write, to think, to sit with my journal and tea.

9. Waking up each night and hearing the animals, the river, the crickets. The raccoon throwing the trashcan lid and scaring the bejeebers out of me..



10. Climbing out of the tent each morning, early, and seeing the world in that light.

11. The wealth of things to collect for my journal ~ 4-leaf clovers, flowers, drops of tea.

12. Enduring the discomforts because they provide a clear backdrop for shining the pleasantries so strongly.




.

Saturday, May 1

tea & clovers


The cat is asleep with her face resting on her side. I'm not sure how she does this (owl ancestry?) or if it's even at all comfortable.

I keep taking photos with my new SX-70 Polaroid Land Camera, just to make sure it's really working. Call me twitchy. It's turning out some nice shots (above) but is producing photos that are more overexposed than I was getting with my other SX-70, (see story here) which is presently boxed up and ready to go to a Magic Man I found who might be able to fix it.

Today is a day for working on Etsy orders (I love doing special orders ~ makes me feel kind of magical and wish-granting myself,) going for a walk in this heady summery shimmery weather, possibly at the arboratum, and decluttering. Serious purging is going on around these parts since I got home from my road trip.

Nice and cool in here with the ceiling fan on, the sunshine streaming into the garden, the birds calling. Tea boiling. I'm reading Birds, Beasts and Relatives now, on my continuous Gerald Durrell kick, and came across this sentence...

"Then Theodore and I would relax and discuss the day's work, drinking gallons of hot, stimulating tea and gorging ourselves on golden scones, bubbling with butter, fresh from Mother's oven."

Need I continue?

Enjoy your weekend ~