I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. ~Andrew Wyeth

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Old age ain't no place for sissies. ~Bette Davis

Last week we spent the day at my mother in law's house. We helped her celebrate her 92th birthday.
This is a woman of fortitude and will power.
Her name is Violetta, or Vi. I have known her for fifty one years.
These are the two people who take care of her.
This is Vi's daughter and her granddaughter. They make it possible for Vi to stay in her home now that she is in her 90's and I think they deserve a special cake too... but we only got a birthday cake for the birthday girl.
At 90 Vi took a nasty fall and broke quite a few bones, but she recovered.
At 91, a few months ago, she fell again trying to straighten some curtains. She left her walker in the hall way and strolled over to the window in her bedroom, to straightened the drapes. When she backed up she trip on a suitcase that was being prepared for a Mothers day trip to Reno. She is still recovering from that fall and has a leg gash that is not healing.
Her life has become a controlled dance of limited behavior.
Has it been 12 years since she was dancing at my son's wedding? She was always ready for parties and
get-togethers with friends and family. She loved to get all dolled up and go on "dates" with her husband, who is gone now. She loved him so.
Now life is quiet and as she puts it, " A bit boring." But, she is an example of strength and "Don't show them that you're cryin'." She practices what she preaches. She has always told me that there is no way but through something and no use in fussing about things that you have no control over.
So, she is growing old gracefully... and rather quietly... with family to take care of her.

We went to her favorite Mexican restaurant for lunch. She ordering a burrito, eating less than half and taking the rest home... but she still ate some cake and ice cream.
Happy Birthday, Grandma. You are an example to us all.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Gourd art with Dremels and Other Dilemmas of Life

I hosted our SCAT art group at my house on Wednesday and because of some wonderful quirk of nature, the weather cooperated by being cooler than usual. This was a nice change in the weather and fortunate, because we had to work on our project outside. It was still very warm but not into the 100's like the week before.
My friend, Mary Jane, did a mini workshop on using a Dremel drill to decorate the outside of a gourd.
She showed us a beautiful example of what we needed to work toward.

And explained, in detail, how to achieve this affect using the right drill bits. How we would cut the curves into the gourd and remove the brown outside layer, leaving just the right amount to "shade the edges.
In theory, I understood what she was telling us and some of us caught on really fast. Some of us are very good at this sort of thing. Some of us had already started on this project ahead of time.
Me?... not so much.
Wait! I'm not finished yet. Staying on a curved line with a tool that moves clockwise, when you're left handed and want to go to the LEFT, is hard. I used a broken piece of gourd because I wanted to practice. Kind of looks like Freddie Kruger's scratch marks in Nightmare on Elm Street doesn't it?
Mary Jane was so kind. She helped all of us and tried to show me what I was, obviously, doing wrong.
We all worked diligently. The afternoon got quite a bit warmer.
We wore our masks when drilling. Gourd dust is notorious for creating chaos in the lungs, so you always want to wear some kind of mask while your working on one.
It was getting quite warm in the sun so everyone was trying to sit closer to the house, in the shade... except for the "redhead". She was trying for a suntan, like me. Some of us always try. I've been trying since I was in junior high school. You'd think that I would learn.
Red was doing a great job with the "curves". So, I kept working on my piece of artwork and even thought Mary Jane presented us with another gourd to inspire...
I never quite got it. This is how it looked right before I said something like, " I'm going to take a break and do what I know how to do."  Under my mask I was sweating and swearing to myself.
Just remember that in showing all of you this, I'm pouring out my insecurities and laying them on the table. Please do not comment on the quality of this gourd piece. It's hard to admit that carving is not "my thing", but it obviously isn't.

I brought more ice tea and water out to everyone, got my camera and did MY thing. Then we moved inside for dessert and drinks with lots of ice in them. We sat and enjoyed each others company. This is such a wonderful group of woman. I'm glad I know all of them.
They weren't allowed to leave until they took some tomatoes and I offered them some hollyhock seeds to go. I've been drying all the seeds and I have A LOT. Only three people took me up on my offer to send hollyhock seeds to them. The will each receive enough for their whole neighborhood shortly.

That night I came back from my walk and stayed out in the garden until after dark. I shot this photo of a French marigold just before dark with my new Speedlight flash and diffuser.
Then, when it got really dark, I took a flashlight and back lit the same marigold, without a flash, and got this shot.
And then the moon...
which will be full in three days. It's the first time I had EVER gotten detail on the moon surface. I'm so pleased. It's not tack sharp but I'll work on this until I get a good one. I want to work on the back lighting because the photography forum, that I joined, is having a contest using the technique called Contre-jour. This means "into the light". You can read about it here. I can't wait to work on this process and see what I can do with it. 
I think I was over compensating for my gourd drilling failure...staying outside in the dark... trying to do something amazing and creative, but the bottom line is that you can't be good at everything. Life is short... you have to pick your battles and your artistic endeavors.
I can loose time (and myself) when I'm walking around with my camera. I realize that photography truly is a passion and I can only say that about a few efforts in my life. Like raising children, gardening and writing stories, photography takes dedication and a willingness to swallow your ego, love what your doing and fertilizing your brain with information about the subject.  These special things in my life were and are a challenge, a learning process and  most of all they need PASSION.
 Next month we are going to do some felting at our SCAT meeting. I CAN DO FELTING. I can felt my little heart out. My confidence is back all ready, just thinking about it.



Sunday, July 14, 2013

Medusa... with doll parts

I've been having a summer slow down. I just haven't been able to come up with blog subjects that are interesting and noteworthy... until this afternoon.
My daughter in law, Robbin, sent me this photo that she took at the Exploratorium in San Francisco today. She took the Beans (my grandchildren) to see all the wonderful things there are to see in this amazing place.
This is the photo she sent me.

Scary isn't it? Just one of the most bizarre thing you've ever seen? It's completely made up of doll parts... feet, hands, body parts and a couple of very wicked eyeballs. Even the beam of light coming in from the window adds to the strange feeling of the piece. It's called Medusa and the artist is Freya Jobbins.
I will be going to the Art Is You workshop in Petaluma this fall, with my sister, and one of the classes that we are going to take is called Wild Things. The teacher, Clarissa Callesen, will show us how to make strange dolls from old stuffed animals and doll parts. My daughter in law thought that "Medusa" would inspire us for this class. It certainly does.

Then, my oldest son spent last week in Las Vegas. He sent this photo of the downtown casinos and the fire that was burning on the hills outside of town on Mt. Charleston. I think this is a really good photo and wanted to share it with you.
 I would love to see Las Vegas again. We've only been there once, many years ago. It was 118 degrees in the shade. Now, that's "fry an egg on the sidewalk" weather. We saw Arnold Schwarzenegger‎ at Lake Mead, asked him for an autograph (for our boys) and he refused. He said he didn't sign autographs on vacation. I've never forgotten that. I didn't vote for him when he ran for governor. Maybe that was my way of saying, "What would it have hurt to give us an autograph for our boys." There were other reasons I didn't vote for him, but that incident has always stuck in my craw. This was before the Terminator, before Maria and before politics. He was just starting out. He was bodybuilding and had been in a few movies. There was no one around. He had three bodyguards with him, on an empty dock. What would it have hurt?
Las Vegas is bigger and has more amazing casinos now. It kind of looks like Disneyland doesn't it?
Some day we will go down there again, in Fall or Winter, and then the ol' Prospector and I could continue into Arizona and drive to the town of Williams, where you can get on a train and go on a tour of the Grand Canyon. Just another trip to add to our "bucket" list.
Hope your weekend was a relaxing one. Take care.