Into Every Life A Little Rain Must Fall

When I was younger I found it impossible to say “I’m sorry”, or to admit I was wrong. That thankfully has changed with age, and I know that my near and dear ones greatly appreciate it. The day before yesterday I said we were expecting “a little” rain here, and I said I welcomed it. I’m sorry, I was wrong. (See I said it) Not that a little rain wouldn’t be nice, but torrential downpour with heavy winds I could do without. I know I should consider us lucky that it isn’t that four letter word…S N O W, but it kept us in our house all day. The nearest thing I can compare it to is being inside a car in the middle of a car wash. It was as if someone were outside throwing buckets of water at the window. Neither Dan nor I remember any weather as bad as this in the ten years we’ve lived here. In honor of this momentous weather day I painted a watercolor of vintage souvenir key holder that I own. It’s from Toronto, where I was born, and given to me as a gift. Its one of those kitschy little items that I own that I really love. He also so happens to be a guy with an umbrella.2 28 14

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One For The Money

Every now and then I can pick up a small side job, or a craft show that brings a little money into our house. These days any extra cash is welcome here. I have a dear friend who has in the last few months thrown a little work my way. She has found projects around her home that she has asked me to update, or refinish. I really appreciate the business. Last year I painted a mantel shelf for her. A few weeks ago she asked me to paint a table to match. The table is my art project for today, I’ve spent the better part of today perfecting the finish. I unfortunately didn’t take a “before” photo, but if you can imagine it in its original form it was brown, non-distinctive wood. A few coats of polyurethane and it’s finished.

I haven’t really picked up my regular paintbrush in a bit. As things here at home have gotten down to the wire I’m feeling very stressed. I haven’t felt like painting. It’s honestly been a struggle to work at all in the last few days. I have so much on my mind, hesitant to hope with Dan’s job opportunity, adjusting to Brian moving out, and daily issues with my aging father. I need to figure out a way to relax and let my mind wander, and recharge my creativity. There are a few things in my life that always cheer me up. Three of them are my cats. One of them is always near getting in my way while I work. Whether its to sit on me, to sit on the paper I’m working on, or making a bed in my drop-cloth so I can’t move it, they always make me smile.

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My Early Spring

We are finally expecting a little rain out here in Southern California I know for some people that rain isn’t very good news, but for me it is more than welcome. Aside from the fact that California is in the midst of a drought, I miss rain. I miss weather. I spent most of my life in Chicago, in hot humid summers, freezing cold winters, but glorious spring days, and crisp fall winds. I’m sure everyone who is freezing in the Midwest and the East must think I’m insane, but for me a little bad weather takes me home. It was overcast this morning and I was sure a few drops might fall from the sky, but by late morning the sun was in full shine. My sister tells me that they are expecting a snowstorm in Chicago this weekend. Dan and I walked this morning in the unusually cool air, and as we walked I, as always, admired the beauty that is around us. Yes we are very lucky to live where we live, where Spring raises her head just a little earlier than most places, but in my heart Chicago will always be home, late season snow storms and all.

Tonight just a little pen and ink, part of a thank you I need to send. The drawing inspired by a terrific book by W.G. Paulson Townsend, “Plant And Floral Studies for Artists and Craftspeople”. I loved the finished drawing, but I also enjoy adding just a touch of color with Photo-shop. Last week a package arrived with a small kitchen scale in it. I hadn’t ordered it, and I was quite puzzled at where it came from, there was no receipt included. After a few days Dan received a text message from his mother. My mystery gift was from her. My mother in law very generously wanted to help with my business, and said I could use the scale to help to figure out shipping. It is a very thoughtful gesture. I plan to incorporate the drawing into a card in the morning.2 26 14 (2)

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Also for tonight a touch of Spring, photos from our walk this morning. The Jasmine is in bloom, as is Iris, and quite a few flowers in my garden. A gift of hope for my family and friends due east.

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The Men In My Life

My twenty-fifth wedding anniversary is four months from today. If you read this blog you know how much I love my husband. However much I love Dan there are other men in my life. I’m not talking about my Dad, although I do love him. Brian is one of the great joys of my life, but I’m not talking about my son either. There are two men, well maybe three. I believe I may have mentioned two of them before (after more than three hundred posts I just can’t keep track), there is “Bob” as in Redford. I’ve loved Bob since I was ten, even though he is the same age as my mother, and he is looking older. We watched “All Is Lost” last week, and Dan was only too happy to point out how much better he is aging compared to Mr. Redford. I had to agree. There is also “Bob Jr.”, a.k.a. Brad Pitt. Brad reminds me of young Bob, so he too gets a little piece of my heart. My other man is chef Tyler Florence. This isn’t a physical attraction (although he is cute), it’s definitely food related. As I so often mention, I love, love to cook, and I am really good at it, but when I am in a quandary and not sure how to make something, Tyler is my man. He never fails me. Tyler offers me security in my little corner of the world, my kitchen. No need for concern because Tyler’s advice is only a few computer clicks away. I have also mentioned that one of the great things about being artistic is that if I see something I like I can pretty much make it for myself. I saw a photo in a magazine of Tyler’s kitchen. He has a chalkboard wall, I have a chalkboard wall, but he had a pig on his wall, and I loved it! My chalkboard wall isn’t quite as big as Tyler’s, but I also had a large chalkboard hanging in my kitchen. I made my own pig. He is fairly close to Tyler’s, the best I could do from the small photo I had. I had a long day yesterday, not enough sleep the night before, and as I wrote last night, I stayed overnight in a hotel with Dan. Our hotel room had a window that overlooked a parking lot. A parking lot that was lit for the World Series. The light coming in over the curtains was so bright we couldn’t sleep. We were both up on and off all night. I decided to give myself the night off and instead post my pig. Thank you Tyler for the cooking advice, and thank you for my pig.2 25 14

Art In The Dark

 

A last-minute decision leaves me traveling tonight, and since it is just a little after seven, I find myself doodling and writing in the dark. As many people know, Dan has been out of work for some time. He has a third interview tomorrow for a job that he is perfect for. It seems strange at times to share our troubles in such a public forum, in particular because we are very quiet and private people. I started this blog only a week after the whirlwind of our daughter’s wedding, I thought that I would continue the life I had known before all the business and planning that goes into such a momentous event was past. Within weeks of that Dan lost his job. A life I never dreamt of began. It has been nearly a year of tremendous worry and change, and as life proves to all of us again and again, plans are dreams and hopes, and it is fate that decides reality. This blog has been along for the ride of my life, the lows from stress, the highs from the gratitude we both feel for the love and prayers that have come our way. I wasn’t going to come tonight. Dan’s meeting is in the morning nearly two hours from where we live. He reserved a hotel room near the interview so as to be there on time, without the horrors of the California morning rush. I wanted to come, but thought he might need a little alone time. He wanted me to come, but he knew I’d worry about leaving our cats (two of them are in a battle for household supremacy), and my regular Tuesday morning date with a Gabby and Kingston. We finally fessed up to each other after dinner tonight. We’ve been in this together from the start, and always will be side by side. I’ll wait in the hotel room praying for good news, but whatever the news it is ours together. I promised a make-up breakfast to Gabby and King, including individual cans of whipped cream. I called Brian to check on the cats. I’m where I should be, driving in the dark, hopefully headed towards some light. No idea where this one came from, just driving in the dark and sketching away.image

One Man’s Trash

Some time ago on this blog I wrote about my Dad and myself and how we “saved” things. I referred to us by the name my Mom gave us which was Sanford and Daughter. This morning I was watching CBS Sunday Morning, the news and human interest story program. On one of the segments there was a piece about hoarders, it is now a diagnosed mental disorder. I didn’t even have to turn my head, I knew Dan was smiling behind the newspaper, particularly when it came to the woman who saves the metal holder off the top of Chinese takeout containers because, “You’ll never know what you can use them for.” Famous last words. Words I have spoken so much, much more than you can imagine. My “Artistic Fridge” that I am in the process of cleaning out is filled with lots and lots of  “I can use this for something” fragments. In my defense I actually do use some of these pieces from time to time, but I will admit there are probably more pieces than I will ever get to. People with this disorder have anxiety when separating from their things. It apparently runs in families. Funny since I referred to my daughter as “Sanford and Granddaughter”only yesterday . It made me sad to see how difficult it was for some of the people on the show, but also made me realize that maybe I really need to look at all the stuff, the fragments, the pieces of things I have kept. I certainly think I may have just a touch of this disorder, or harkening back to another post about Myra and Emma (the ladies who rewarded us neighborhood children with candy for picking up trash), it may just be that I can’t stand to see waste, or see something perfectly usable end up in a landfill. Could it possibly be The Boxcar Children? The books by Gertrude Chandler Warner that so enthralled me as a child? All that said, I’m ninety percent finished with the first of my window projects. An old window, scrap plywood, left over fabric, and vintage hooks. In other words, garbage. Bits and pieces given new life in something quite useful and pretty.

I’ve again leaned the window against a mirror for the center. There are three small hooks on the bottom for hanging jewelry or keys, and one larger hook on the side.Tomorrow we attempt to cut the mirror once again.2 23 14 (2)

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Addicted

Did you hear the ringing? That was me admitting to phoning it in tonight. My “to be continued” from last night is still on hold.  The reason? More than a year ago Dan bought me seasons one and two of Downton Abbey. I’m not a huge television watcher, and very particular about what I watch. I knew I would like Downton Abbey, and honestly have put it off for a year fearing the worst, and I was right. I’m addicted. It has literally taken over my day. Late in the day I realized that I needed to tear my eyes away for a moment and work on something for tonight.  Dan paused the DVD long enough for me to run up to the studio and grab supplies. I was going for clay of some kind, but spied a linoleum block in the cabinet. It’s been awhile since I’ve played around with carving linoleum so I decided that I’d do that. As I was leaving the room I saw a heart-shaped Nicho (a Mexican tin art formed box) and decided that was what I wanted to do. A simple design that took way too long because my attention was elsewhere. The idea was to make a reverse block print. I like where it’s headed, but on printing with the block I definitely think it needs a little more detail. Some of what I carved in got lost in the ink. I did take one of the prints and add a little color and wrote something to put in the empty space I created in the center. I think I’ll play with it a little more tomorrow.057 That is of course if I can get my fix, only a few episodes left (at least until I get seasons three and four), back to reality, art, and windows tomorrow!

Superstitious

I’ve never been to see a psychic. I’d like to say it’s because I don’t believe in psychics, but the truth is that I’m not sure if I believe in them, and I know myself. I have a very active imagination, and as I have mentioned more than once in past posts, I’m Irish. (If you happened to have not read it, it means glass not full, nor empty, because the glass is shattered on the floor.) I’ve always been afraid that if I heard something that wasn’t good I’d obsess. (I’m also phenomenally good at obsessing.) It would rule my life, no matter how much I would try to convince myself that it was nonsense there would be that little corner of my mind that would poke its nasty self into my every waking moment. It’s much the same with superstition. We’ve had a rough year, and the disappointments, bad luck, and struggles continue and seem to have no end. (Dan does have a promising job interview on Tuesday, but I’m honestly afraid to be hopeful.) In the last few days I’ve been writing about the never-ending window projects. I left them alone yesterday, I needed a break. Today with fresh eyes I went back to work on one of them. This would be the larger of the two that I intend to turn into sort of a jewelry/mirror/memo center. A place where you can check hair or makeup, choose your necklace, and read your to do list before you have to run out the door. I coated four of the triangular shapes with magnetic paint, and then on top of that a few coats of chalkboard paint. The two side panels will allow for tucked in memos, I plan on covering them tomorrow and adding ribbon detail, and finally the center, which will become a mirror. Except this, I bought a door mirror to cut to fit the center. I’ve never cut glass. I watched a YouTube video which of course made me an instant expert.  I broke a piece off. Seven years bad luck. Then Dan came in. He has cut glass, successfully, but not this time. Four breaks. So basically right now we are looking at another thirty-five years of bad luck. (Openly groveling for all reading this to wish me good karma.) Do I believe in the superstition of seven years of bad luck for a broken mirror? Seven years times five? Not to mention we have to try again tomorrow!!! I’d like to say no…but there is that nasty little corner of my mind….

So here is what’s happening so far…IMG_5625

I leaned the window against a mirror in my guest room. (Notice the magnet) Still much to do, but I think you get the idea…

…to be continued.

Taking A Break

I took most of the day off today. I’ve been working on those windows for days, and honestly my hands are a little raw, not to mention all the sawdust in my nose and in my hair. I’m just tired, and at this point getting a little less enthusiastic about the amount of work it is taking to get them where I want them to be. So while I didn’t actually take the day off (because I never really do), I did need to leave those projects be for a day. I spent more time creating in my other studio, my kitchen. I made not one, but two dinners, both were penne with chicken and Alfredo sauce. One was for Dan, myself and our friend Lori, the other was for Brian. He stopped home today, and is typical for a newly moved out “bachelor”, he hadn’t eaten. We fed him lunch, and then I sent him home with dinner for himself and his two roommates. i also whipped up some homemade thousand island dressing and croutons for our salads, and molten chocolate cakes for dessert.

As far as an art project for this evening, just a little doodle while sitting in front of the television. It’s actually again something we may use in our business. I’ll attack the windows in the morning with fresh perspective.image

Just Ask Me

The window saga continues. I won’t bore you with the details…until tomorrow.

My work of art tonight is a gift for a friend, and while the subject of my blog tonight is about asking, my friend didn’t ask for this gift. I love to do things for people. I truly enjoy giving of my talents to others. As I told Dan earlier this evening, if I weren’t me, but knew me, I’d ask me to do things for me. Got that? I have many talents and am more than happy to make, or paint, or draw, anything for those I care about. Several months ago I created a piece of altered art that I recently brought out to hang in my hallway. Theresa was here and saw it, and admired it greatly. I had made this particular piece on a board that we had left over from a project years ago. I had another nearly identical piece of the same wood. I sent her a message today asking which bible verse it was that she liked. Proverbs 3:5-6. Using a photograph of a small statue I have in my bedroom as my angel, and some photos of Calla Lilies taken in a graveyard in Richmond, I created “Deum benedicite”, “God bless” in Latin. In several areas I secured the pieces so that it is three-dimensional. There are stenciled areas in copper, silver, and gold. The proverb is printed on vellum, which when sprayed with polyurethane becomes almost translucent.

In these last trying months of our life, Dan and I have been blessed to have much love and support from our friends and family. In time I plan to do a little something for all to show our appreciation. Theresa has been the sister that I don’t have here in California, as mine are in Chicago. Her family is like my family. Just the first of many, many gifts to say, “Thank you.”2 19 14