Category Archives: Art

Random Rambling Thoughts

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With the temperatures fluctuating, my walk down the Fox Lake Road has turned into a wild and slippery, ever-changing adventure. Just a week ago there was good snow pack to walk on. Yesterday, there was standing water. Snow banked up on the sides of the road, and frost underground, give the melting snow no place to go. In some places, the road becomes a shallow river. Last night, the temperature dropped; today the road is like a skating rink.

It looks like there was a bit of freezing rain overnight, too. In the woods, ice clings to the branches. The sun shining through makes it look like a jewel box, the trees glistening like diamonds.

My car is coated with ice, too. I’m hoping it melts before I have to use it. I’ve had my fill, already this winter, of scraping ice and snow. Today is primary voting day in Michigan, so I will have to make a trip to town to cast my ballot.

Today, I’m catching up on all the things on my list that I didn’t get done yesterday. It includes household chores, bill-paying, and maybe looking at my taxes. And packing. And time to admonish myself for all the time I frittered away over the last two days, leaving me such a lot to get done today.

I’m setting off (again!) this weekend for a second winter vacation. This time, for a week in Hawaii. I know! It’s really too much. I almost never take vacations. Lately, it seems like I’m doing a lot of travelling.

Hawaii has never been a place I was dying to go to. Beautiful, of course, and interesting, but expensive, and very far away. This winter, though, my younger daughter is working there. She is on the big island for four months, with her husband, and two of my grandchildren. That made the place much more enticing; my older daughter and I planned the trip to visit them.

Timing could have been better. This year was the year of my vacation with my sisters. It’s also the year that one grandson graduates from high school. And the year of my own 50th high school class reunion. But, this is the year that I have family in Hawaii to visit, so now is when I’m going.

All the talk about the Corona virus is scary, too. Although I do not have heart disease, lung disease or diabetes, I do, unfortunately, fall into the “elderly” category. I’ll be making my way through airports, and sitting on long flights. Unless things escalate so quickly that I am absolutely forced to cancel though, I’ll be careful, but I’m still going.

That’s about it for my rambling thoughts today. Time to get moving!

So Long

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Good-bye, snow. So long to my sweet dogs. Good riddance to my job; it’s nice to leave it for a while. I’m leaving the island today, as the first step in travels that will eventually bring me to a warm weather location with four of my sisters.

I have plans to relax. I intend to write and read and draw. I will walk on the beach, and relish the sunshine. I won’t be back here until March. I’m not bringing my computer, so I doubt I’ll be posting a blog until I’m home again. I’ll tell you all about it then. For now, farewell, take care, so long…

No Electricity

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Blackie Chan in deep snow

I woke up today to lots of fresh snow, with wind. My coffee was barely brewed before the electricity went out. Well. Immediately, that puts most of the morning plans on hold. No electricity means no internet and no computer. So, no time spent looking at social media, checking the news and playing internet Scrabble. No writing my Tuesday blog.

In addition, when the electricity is out, I have to be careful of my water use. No cooking. No lights, though that’s not an issue when the outage is in the daytime hours. I’ve hooked my land-line back up, so I have a working telephone even when the power goes out. The first thing I did was call to report the outage. The automated system informed me that they were already aware of it, and working hard to fix it.

Next, I made a few other calls that were on my to-do list. One, regarding vaccinations my dogs are due for; one to arrange for the mainland car at the end of this week. I called a friend to see if we could meet up on my way downstate this Friday; no answer, there, so I’ll have to try again later. I called my sister, to let her know when I’d be arriving at her house. She was out, too, so I left a message.

I wrote in my journal. With no distractions to pull me away, I wrote a whole three pages this morning. I wrote of my frustrations at how all of my habits, goals and resolutions were falling by the wayside. I renewed my intention to get back on track.

My yoga program was next. Right on cue, as it has been one of the things I’ve been neglecting lately. I have often been going through the first five exercises, basically the “warm up,” and calling it done. Today, I made my best effort at all of the positions.

I walked the dogs. That is a firm habit, almost no matter what the weather, and certainly not dependent on electricity. The road had not been plowed, though, and the winds were a little unnerving. Our walk down the Fox Lake Road is a walk between large stands of trees. When the high winds set those trees in motion, I get nervous. Still, we got a decent walk in.

Home again, and still no power. I took a cup of lukewarm coffee up to the studio. I added a few elements to a new collage, and contemplated how to finish the others I’ve been working on. I sorted a stack of collagraph plates. I pulled out a sketchbook, and found the pen I wanted to use. Rusty as my drawing skills are, I did a few “thumbnail” sketches, reminding myself that only practice will bring back ability.

I pulled out my suitcase, next, and unpacked it. I put my “vacation clothes” in it two months ago, when my sisters and I first planned our Florida trip. Now that it is less than a week away, I’ve been thinking I should do a review of what I was bringing. Try things on. make sure everything is wrinkle-free; determine that I have remembered all the necessities. I did a little editing of the contents, and set aside my choices to be tossed in the dryer to be refreshed before putting them back in the suitcase.

I’d purchased a new, lightweight, messenger-style bag to replace my purse. Large enough to hold all of my carry-on needs (wallet, toothbrush, journal, book, sketchbook, bullet journal, e-reader and earphones), but easy to carry and small enough to stow under an airplane seat. When it arrived, I was disappointed in the color. Not enough to send it back, but still. Today, I pulled out my needle and some fine wool yarn, and embellished it just a little.

By the time the power came back on, I was feeling pretty good about my days accomplishments. A day without electricity turned into a blessing in disguise!

Winter Settles In

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It’s only February, and already I’m garnering quite a collection of neglected commitments.

My diet, rigorously followed for three months, has shown no weight-loss results. I get on the scale every morning, and have actually watched the numbers creep upward. One day last week, discouraged, tired, and frustrated with other things, I completely abandoned my healthy eating regimen. In a big way. Potato chips. Pot stickers. Ginger snaps. The next morning, I found I had lost two and a half pounds! In twenty-four hours! I have to admit, I thought long and hard about adapting a potato chip-pot sticker-ginger snap diet. But, no, with two warm-weather vacations coming up, I’m back to smoothies and soups and salads.

My exercise plan is often abbreviated to the tiniest fraction. A one-minute plank combined with a five minute medicine ball routine counts as weight-training. I have to push myself to continue beyond the few basic warm-up yoga moves. My morning and evening dog walks continue, though weather conditions have shortened our distance on several days.

Having cleared my studio to the point where I can work in it, I have put my ambitious reorganizing plans on hold. The up-side of that news is that I have been actually getting into the studio to make art. Still, I don’t want to abandon my original goals. Any large projects, painting or printmaking, will demand a much more orderly space. Encaustic painting, which I am determined to experiment with this winter, will not be possible until I’ve completely cleared the space. Molten wax, heat guns and propane torches do not mix with clutter!

I’ve missed two Sunday blogs in a row. I’m struggling to find something meaningful to write about. Have I already said everything I have to say? Have I told all the stories? Sometimes it feels that way. Especially in the winter, when there is little going on around here.

Winter has definitely settled in. We note every change in the weather: a few more inches of snow on the roads; an especially cold day: a little more ice forming in the harbor. We greet everyone that we see, but it’s rare to see anyone new. The faces are all the same. They all seem to wear the same expression, too. No one is too rushed, though most folks have winter projects going. Resigned to winter. Settled in. Looking toward spring.

Timeout for Art: Making Room

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Blackie Chan and Rosa Parks.
This image has nothing to do with the essay, but aren’t these dogs CUTE?!?

As I struggle to advance in the excavation-in-progress that is my studio, I encourage myself with plans for the future. There are new directions I want to explore, and old, familiar areas I want to spend time with. So, I continue the long, slow process of clearing and cleaning. It truly is an “excavation,” with layers that spark memories and reveal history.

Yesterday, I cleared shelves for a fresh and more current arrangement of supplies. Behind the watercolors, pencils and paints that I’d crowded in where they’d fit, were remnants of the sweet arrangement my granddaughter had made several years ago. Crayons, colored pencils, markers and stacks of paper strips were set up for her bookmark-making production, along with several samples. I scooped it all into an old suitcase I keep filled with art-making supplies for children. Had I allowed time for reminiscing, I’d still be standing there.

Tucked under the printing press, there was a large box filled with kitchen paraphernalia: holiday napkins, coffee filters suitable for a coffee pot I no longer own, wine corks saved for a long-forgotten project, staples, flashlight, batteries….That box was filled, I’m sure, several years ago when I cleared out a large, many-drawered apothecary cabinet that I was giving away because it took up too much space in my kitchen. The contents were loaded into that box and tucked out of the way. Until, I’m sure I told myself, I had time to go through them.

Yesterday, if I was going to continue my forward momentum, was not that time. I shifted the contents, other than a few ragged items that I was content to throw away, from the cardboard box into a sturdy lidded tote. I tucked it into an unused corner under the stairs, beside canning jars and other sorely neglected and nearly forgotten items. To further delay dealing with it, I know.

Another layer of history are the papers, drawing materials and reference books, gathered together thoughtfully each week for last summer’s drawing classes, then left in piles on any horizontal surface when the class was done. There are cans of house paint stacked behind the door, waiting for the project it was purchased for, or leftover from a completed job. Then there are the abandoned artworks, the works-in-progress and the works waiting to be framed.

Cleaning the studio is a tremendous, tedious and often overwhelming job. But I’m getting it done. Yesterday, with a marathon of old Barbra Streisand movies to keep me company, and ideas for future work to keep me inspired, there was good progress.

Mid-January Miscellany

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Yesterday was cold and windy. Overnight, the temperature dropped as the wind died down. Yesterday, it was the wind-chill that made it feel so frigid. Today, it’s just plain cold. I added snow pants and a heavy scarf to walk with the dogs.

No matter what, we walk every day. morning and night. This time of year, our evening walk is in the dark. Rain, wind, ice or extreme cold slow me down the most, but we still get out there. What with heavy boots and icy roads, I’m no longer attempting the “walk-to-run” program that I was doing in fairer weather, but we walk at a pretty good pace. Even on my worst days, we get a couple miles in.

I’m working at being more serious about diet and exercise in 2020. I’m cutting back on sugars and refined carbohydrates; I’m eating more salads. In addition to walking and my little morning yoga routine, I’ve added weight-training every other day. On the days in-between, I do a longer yoga session, some Pilates, or another exercise program. Twelve days in to the new year, it’s going okay.

And that’s a good lead-in to my next topic: January 12th is my granddaughter Madeline’s birthday. It’s hard to believe she is already twenty years old! She’s good-hearted, smart, witty, kind, and beautiful; I couldn’t be more proud of her!

Madeline, in front of our hogan, at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center

Yesterday was my friend Susan’s birthday. Two days before that was my friend Ellen’s birthday. It was also the anniversary of the day I got married. I’ve been divorced for a long time, but I still take note of the date as it comes around, and spend a melancholy moment or two in thoughts of “if only…” or “what if…”

After all, none of us gets married with plans of the union going badly. I started out with stars in my eyes and plans for a long and happy future together, just like everybody else. It just didn’t work out that way. Still, it’s kind of shocking to note that, had we stayed married, we’d have been celebrating forty-nine years together!

At work, I’m continuing my plans to get the basement in order. This is a job that is long overdue. We’ve talked about it as a necessary winter activity for several years now, but when hours and employees are cut severely back, it’s nearly impossible. If you’re the only one running the store, you can’t be downstairs, away from the business.

This January, we still have two people working most days, and it has been slow enough to allow for one of us to be working in the basement. I took it on. I started by relocating the Christmas merchandise as I brought it downstairs. Then, I moved the plumbing aisle over to the old Christmas location, sorting and organizing as I went along.

That allowed me to put the builder’s supplies, plus the trash cans, in neat rows where plumbing had been. Then, I gathered the coils of well pipe, corrugated drainage pipe, and flexible perforated drainage pipe from the floor in several aisles where they had been stashed, and hung them all neatly in the aisle where the trash cans had been. It’s a huge improvement!

The basement is dusty, damp and chilly. The job involves lots of heavy lifting, setting up shelves and moving merchandise, and also lots of cleaning, sorting and organizing. I find it very gratifying, though, and enjoy seeing the progress.

At home, I’m still working at getting the studio thoroughly cleaned and organized. Every other room in the house has been purged of excess and deep-cleaned. The struggle, now, is to maintain what is done, while concentrating my energy on what remains to be done. The weather, though, is perfect for it. These cold winter days just cry out for a serious indoor project. Luckily, I still have one!

One Room

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It’s been a while since I moved my sleeping arrangements downstairs. My stairs are steep, and my little dog has a weak bladder that necessitates several trips outside each night. With my brittle bones, bum knees and unpredictable bouts of vertigo, it made sense to spend my nights on the ground floor. So, my narrow bed doubles as a sofa, and my lower story functions like a little studio apartment.

That opened up new possibilities for what had been my small bedroom in the upper level of my story-and-a-half house. The larger upstairs room, which had once been two tiny bedrooms for my daughters, has long been used as my art studio. The other room, I decided, would be a perfect place for exercise, meditation and journal-writing. I moved my Pilates chair up there. I gathered up all exercise books, tapes, CDs and DVDs, and arranged them on the shelves. The medicine ball and hand weights were given a corner spot.

Then, I got busy with other things. For several months now, I’ve been working my way through a whole-house, long overdue deep-cleaning and de-cluttering project. That, in tangent with painting the floor, dominated my spare time. It also generated a lot of excess. I brought bags to the Transfer Station, and boxes to the Re-Sale Shop. Still, there were plenty of things that no longer belonged wherever I’d pulled them from, but still did not have a “place.”

That nearly empty room at the top of the stairs became the depository for all of that “stuff.” Then, with the downstairs finished (for the most part) and the New Year looming, it was time to finish the Exercise Room. Which was now a much larger job, as it had become a storage room. Uncharacteristically, I took a few photos to document the mess.

In trying to hook up a strand of colored lights, I accidentally knocked out my telephone and internet service. With the holidays, it was going to be several days before a repair could be made. A perfect opportunity! Without the distractions of news, social media and computer games, without the ability to stall by chatting with family and friends, certainly I could accomplish something meaningful!

And I did!

I still managed to find several diversionary tactics. There were extra dog-walks and lots of coffee breaks. I set up my new bullet journal, finished a book, and played about one-hundred games of solitaire. Nevertheless, I got that one room done. Thoroughly done. From the attic spaces under the eaves to the dresser drawers and the curtains and plants in the window. One. Room. Done!