“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
whispering 'it will be happier'...”
~Alfred Tennyson~

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Speak to me of love...

Before Christmas my sister and I decided to make a "box" for each other as a Christmas gift. I'm finally getting around to showing you what she made for me.
Will you look at this...
She took a plain wood box and created this beautiful piece of art for me.
The most amazing thing about it is that she used one of my favorite poems by Mary Oliver. It's called How I Go to the Woods. She knows me and understands how I feel about solitude.
She wrote the poem all the way around the sides of the box...
And the last amazing lines of the poem are on the top.
The box is covered with lace and shells.
A butterfly is watching from the corner.
In the moss... a small bird and a nest that she made, with pearl "eggs" in it.
There is a photo of us with a heart attached.
This is a very special gift.

Thanks Sis. I'm so lucky to have a sister like you.  I will always take you with me into the woods, because I love you very much.
Here is the poem by M. Oliver... one of many that speak to me.
Have a wonderful day.

How I go to the woods
Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single
friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore
I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of
praying, as you no doubt have yours.
Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit
on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost
unhearable sound of the roses singing.
If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
you very much.”

~Mary Oliver~

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Addiction of book altering

My sister, Lisa, was here last week. She left on Thursday and we miss her.

Carl too...
It was her birthday. She chose to spend it with us.
We shopped the thrift stores in town for old books.
Let me tell you why.

When I went to see my friend in Isleton, for her birthday. I gave her a book on folding book pages as art.
It was filled with ideas like this,
and this...
I was so inspired that I got on line and found out how to start folding pages and I made my friend an altered book as part of her gift. It was really fun to do. Very simple... only done by folding the pages and using a little glue in some places.
She was delighted and I was inspired to make more.
When my sister arrived, we decided to devote most of our week to making one of these books. That's when we headed to the thrift stores to find some old books that would work for this project.
Wonderful old books that we didn't have any attachment to and didn't cost more than $1.50 a piece.
I showed Lisa the video that I had watched. I shared my vast knowledge (Ha!) of book page folding with her and off we went, into the land of creating art from old book pages.
She started off a bit faster than I did. . She sees an idea in her head. I see the start, but never the end. She sees the process. I see the "Oh, my gosh... look what's happening?" as I move through the concept. We both started folding pages. She couldn't wait to start painting and shaping the idea that was already forming in her head. I was content to fold triangles different ways and found it soothing to bend and fold each page.
This was her beginning...
But, I didn't get a clear photo of her final piece. I will get one from her and show it to you in another post. It's wild and whimsical with extra pages shredding and flying out of the folds like fireworks. It's beautiful and creative. I was trying to work on mine as the same time and I thought I had some decent photos of hers. but I didn't. Wait until you see it. WOW!
Mine started out with basic folding and then I started snipping the edges of the triangles.
And folding them in different directions.

 I also took words and sentences from the story and added them to the blank pages on the left an right side of the book.

Then  I stained the pages with a wash of Vandyke brown and some nickel Azo gold acrylic paint to make it all look old.
The painting was done with layers of different colored paints that I let dry as I layered.

I finished the lighter colors and then added some brown and black to one side. The book is about a war in England when Rome invaded southern Britain about 44AD.The Romans were pretty brutal and so were the Druids. So I wanted one side of the book to look like it had been through a war. I painted the left side with dark brown and black as if it was burnt. I also use a red paint to signify blood.

Since these  photos were taken, I have added more "blood" and I'm thinking about burning some of the pages on the left side to really give it more battle scaring. It's amazing how much you can do with paint  to add darkness to the pages.
The right side is about coming through the war and starting to recover... seeing the sunrise and finding human emotions like love again.
There is no burning and blood on this side... only recovery and healing.
At one end of the arrow that pierces the pages, the red feathers say
wounded beast... through the darkness... exhausted and battered... terrible injuries. When it comes out on the other side it says, "Oh, I see... an arrow." as if the arrow has no where to go and becomes lost in the air. Losing its power, it's then caught by the bright sun before it can do any more damage.

One side is dark, black and bloody filled with, "Fragments that penetrate the human body." and  "approaching enemies". The right side is filled with a night sky washed with the pale glow of dawn, where a man comes home to breezes blowing through the forest and his woman is waiting for him.
I enjoyed working on this. Wish I had read the whole book before I altered it. I kind of read pages as I was pulling them out or when I was cutting them up.
It's not quite done, but almost. What do you think about burning pages on the left side... just a little?.

I've started working on a new one. It's an old hymnal with lots of old Christian songs.
This is becoming quite an addiction.

( The war book was called When the Eagle Hunts, by Simon Scarrow)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Annie in love?

It seems that my cat, Annie, is in a serious relationship with the mountain lion statue.
I was coming up the road, from my walk, and there she was touching noses with the statue. She saw me and the silliness began.
"Who's your friend Annie?"
When I said this, she rubbed her face on its head and got kind of goofy....
she started rubbing back and forth like animals do when they like each other. 
I think it's time to get her another feline companion. She's having fantasies. She has been alone too long.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Revival of an old Chinese building

Do you remember when my friend first moved to Isleton and I took some pictures of some of the buildings on the main street in town? One of the buildings was the Bing Kong Tong Society Building.
And this was the condition it was in until the beginning of last year. 
Well... take a look at it now.
This is what a few dedicated people can do with the help of ...
... its local Historical Society, stabilization grants, SHRA(Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency ) and The California Cultural and Historical Endowment (CCHE).
The inside still needs to be finished but this may be the beginning of saving these old buildings from falling into decay.
This building has been restored to its former historical splendor, with gold leafed wood symbols on the second floor that were meticulously recreated by a local artisan who lives in town.
The attention to details was considerable, right down to the light fixtures and metal siding.
This building now represents Isleton's history with the respect it deserves.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Yes, I'm kind of Fungophobic

Yesterday I returned home from celebrating Christmas with my family, in the Bay Area. It was fun, busy and enjoyable. So enjoyable, in fact, that I didn't take any pictures. I can't believe it. This is a first. There will be no photos of the wonderful dinner that my sister hosted, no pictures of the Beans playing with their new toys, not one selfie or close up of the other family members who were with us. I don't even know what to say. I left the camera in the car and NEVER used it.
I'm a failure as an event photographer. But, I had a great time and enjoyed my short visit.

On Wednesday, Christmas Eve day, I wrapped presents. I made a lemon Bundt cake, packed my stuff up and piled it all into the car for my trip on Christmas morning. But the first thing I did was to go for a hike.

 It was cold, foggy and beautiful.
At the top of the hill the fog lifted a little, so I just sat on a favorite downed log...
and spent some quiet time with mother nature.
This log is always covered with these wonderful Bracket fungi, or shelf fungi. 
This one is called Ganoderma. It can  grow large thick shelves that may contribute to the death of the tree, and then feed off the wood for years after. This tree has been laying here for years and these fungi are always here on it. Their hardiness means they are very resilient and can live a long time,  developing beautiful multi-coloured circles of color that are actually annual growth rings.

The Oaks are covered with many different mosses, lichens and tiny ferns, mostly on their north sides.
The Poison Oak vines uses the trees for support and climbs all over the trunks and into the branches,
... covering some trees like a corset. The trees that fell in the wind storm a couple of weeks ago, were old ones that didn't have the poison oak growing around them. I think the vine acts as a support system for the trees and give them strength against the winter weather.

I walked up the ridge to an Oak tree that I had noticed before, because it has a multitude of mushrooms underneath it. It's a healthy, average looking oak tree that, for some reason, has an abundance of different mushrooms growing below it.

I stepped lightly around the tree and took some pictures of the amazing assortment of mushrooms that live under this tree.
There are pretty brown ones that look very fragile and somewhat rubbery. Same with the little cap mushrooms behind this one. I think the little ones are called Deadly Galerina and they would kill you with their deadly toxin. But, I'm not sure.. and there lies the dilemma.
There are some that look like pretty rocks...
odd shaped potatoes?

These two, very different mushrooms, seem to be having a serious relationship.
But, they all look dangerous to me,
except for this one...
These are the most abundant kind that are growing under the tree.
This one starts growing up through the earth like a brown ball of leaves...
 Then you begin to see the white top.
 It carries the grass and leaves with it as it grows out of the ground.
Finally the mushroom looses its coat of leaves and becomes a rather good sized mushroom with a really white stem, white cap and yellow gills.
This one looks good enough to eat... but who knows.
The cap has a beautiful, undulating shape.
Many of the caps seem to be broken off...
..which would indicate that something has tried to eat them. I guess this could have happen when the mushroom was pushing through the ground, but it sure looks like a critter has taken a bite out of them.

The rain and sunshine is producing a lot of mushrooms this year. They're everywhere.
This one is on the slope behind our house.
It's a monster. It arrives every year. We never touch it.

I love looking for mushrooms. It's like a scavenger hunt and there are so many different  kinds.
I don't know what any of these mushrooms are and I would rather not think that I do. It's safer to take pictures of them than to make a decision about the good and bad ones, eat them and end up sick... or worse.
My Italian family knew which were OK. They showed me when I was little, gave me books, explained which was which... but still... I just don't trust myself to know.

This is a wonderful pastime... photographing mushrooms.
So I think I will just lay on the ground and watch them grow... and buy the good ones in the store.