A Fresh Start

First day of the year, a fresh start in so many ways. I’ve made as lot of promises to myself, ones I will do my hardest to keep. I am keeping one promise right away, I am posting early. I want to stop leaving Dan to fall asleep on the couch as I rush to write before bed.

We started the year the right way, we hiked for six and a half miles. It took us close to three hours. We live very near the Santa Rosa Plateau. It is a beautiful place with hills, and wildlife. In the Spring there are vernal pools, water that rises up out of the ground for a very short time span, and fields of wildflowers. We plan on making the hikes a regular thing this year. It’s great exercise, but more than that it is a place that brings serenity. There were moments today when the only sounds we heard were the wind blowing through the trees, the cry of the hawks circling overhead, woodpeckers at work, and the songs of the birds. There is a peace that comes when you take yourself away from the world.  As we walked all I could think about was the beauty around me and what I wanted to paint. Did I paint when I got home? No, the truth is sometimes I forget how old I am, or that I’ve had six knee surgeries. By the time we neared the end of the path on our way back to the car, I was telling Dan that I longed to see civilization, a glimpse of the parking lot, or maybe roadside assistance to pick me up on the path. I was so tired, hot, and in need of a foot bath. Struggling uphill with my bad knees, hoping we were near the end. We stopped at grocery store on the way back and had to laugh as we struggled to get out of the car. When we got home I simply passed out. Happy New Year to me.  So, no painting today, instead a pen and ink of another of my favorite things. It’s an old letter opener. A simple tool with amazing detail work. Things simply are not made like they used to be, and I am definitely not as young as I used to be!

1 14

I wish everyone could start the year in peace, so I’ll share some photos of our day. IMG_9778

IMG_0063IMG_3483

 

Advertisements

Sun Kissed Trees

They’re here, the snowmen. It took me roughly two hours to arrange them, there are far too many, and it seems like an awful lot of work for the amount of time that they are out, but I do love my snowmen. In particular, as I mentioned last night, things my kids make are always my favorites.  The collection was never meant to get this large. I had intended only to collect vintage snowmen, but you know how it is. People think that you want any snowman and they begin to buy them for you. Then thanks to my Catholic brain, I feel too guilty to not put them out. You never know when someone might fly in from Chicago to make sure that the gift they gave me ten years ago is still on display.

IMG_3224

An embroidery project from Brian in the third grade.

IMG_3225

And a reverse glass painting Jessica did at home with me at about age six.IMG_3219

The entire display. We have an old built-in from Chicago that we bought at a salvage yard and restored. It makes a perfect snowman display case.

IMG_3222

All this Christmas decorating doesn’t give me a lot of extra time for art, but I was in the mood to draw tonight. There have been some particularly beautiful sunrises in the last few days, and I wanted to recreate one. I was looking to do something soft so I decided on pastel chalk. I didn’t want to do a complete landscape. I love the way that the morning sun kisses the tops of the trees. 12 18

Feeling Merry and Bright

Dare I say it? I’m feeling just a little merry, as in Christmas. We went out today to get our tree. It’s really sort of a non event for us. We don’t have little ones who are excited. There is also the fact that as we chose our tree I was taking photos in the garden center at Home Depot to torture my sisters with. (Come to think of it that made it worth the trip.) I knew it was snowing in Chicago and it was eighty-four here. The temperature also affects the way I feel. When you grow up in the Midwest you want a white Christmas. The only snow I see here is on the tops of the mountains which are more than an hour away. I’m not complaining. I’m getting older, and I am getting to the age where every injury I have sustained in my life is tapping me on the shoulder to say, “Ha, forgot about me didn’t you?” I hurt in multitudes of places depending on the day. I can only imagine what some nice icy weather would do to me. I think I miss the idea of a white Christmas more than anything else. Didn’t I say I was merry? Doesn’t sound like it, but I am, really I am.

There is also this, before we moved to California we cut down our own tree. Our home was outside the city and we lived only a few minutes from a tree farm. I have fond memories of going with the kids in the cold picking our tree, coming back to the house and drinking something hot, and decorating the tree. The experience isn’t quite as picturesque at the home improvement store when I’m too warm to wear a jacket, but once the tree is in the house, and the boxes of ornaments come out, I’m in full holiday mode. I am a very sentimental woman, I remember nearly every ornament and when we got it. My favorites of course are the goofy ones that the kids made, and one that my mother in law made. It is in the tradition of the old German ornaments made with cotton and cloth with the exception of a cut out from a photo of Jessica’s face. It was really cute when it was new, but as the years have gone by it has gotten really creepy looking. I make sure to put it front and center. The tree wouldn’t be complete without creepy Baby Jessica.  Every year I am also reminded of an ornament I made a very long time ago. It was in the third grade. When I was a kid there weren’t many of the current safety regulations in place. We created an ornament with a Styrofoam ball, toothpicks, paint, and glitter. I remember mine was orange. We had to stick the toothpicks all around this ball, dunk it in paint, and then again in glitter. It wasn’t an ornament, it was a deadly weapon. Like a giant porcupine ball, or some Medieval instrument of torture. (Possibly a craft idea inspired by the Inquisition?)  I can’t imagine a school these days allowing kids to make anything close to it.  Of course once the ornaments come out, the snowmen come out. I’ve mentioned my dirty little collecting secret before. I haven’t taken them out of the boxes quite yet, they are awaiting my attention in the morning. (Photo tomorrow night)

Tree trimming in our house usually starts with Vince Guaraldi and the music from Charlie Brown Christmas. It sets the tone perfectly. Dan really likes Charlie Brown Christmas so a few years ago I made him a Charlie Brown tree and painted an ornament red for him to hang from it. I also painted a few ornaments for him as a gift.  They will have to suffice as my art project for the day. I spent the morning creating my Dad’s five Irish fairies. (Much thanks to my cousin Lorna in Ireland for giving me the correct spelling of Merry Christmas in Gaelic.) One of the things I truly love about the artistic abilities I have is that when I want to make something special for someone, I have the skill to do so. It makes me very happy…I mean merry.12 17 (3)

12 17

12 17 (2)And finally, a few Irish fairies.

12 17 4