Thursday, July 30, 2009

Favorite things...

On this warm Thursday afternoon, I'm dreaming of my favorite things. Here's a little mosaic of a things I find inspirational.

What inspires you? What do you hold dear?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Seeing deeply... a toad's eye view

In conversation the other day a friend said, "You're so lucky, so talented."

It seems she thought art came easily for me.

Hardly! But I've been working for years on seeing deeply, teaching myself to really look, study, observe what's around me. I still have a long way to go, but it's terrific to be on the path and learning.

Which is why I was so excited again last night, when a toad sat patiently modeling for me in the twilight.

Look how his eyes pop up on his head!

See how his back legs fold up...

... and the line of the lips, the angle of the iris of his eyes, the puce-colored line up his back.

Even a common garden toad is absolutely fascinating.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Farmyard friends in our neighborhood

Sometimes I feel like I'm living in an old-fashioned story book.

Working on nursery rhymes has intensified the feeling. Perhaps it's because research has led me back to the animal friends in my neighborhood...

This darling will appear shortly in Little Bo Peep's entourage...

... and notice the rounded nose for Baa Baa Black Sheep. Did you ever look closely at a sheep's face before?

And this girl doesn't need much adapting to turn into a storybook horse, does she?

Right in my own backyard, the fluffy chicklets from spring have turned into honest-to-goodness hens... Just think how many hens appear in the old familiar nursery rhymes!

Even the old Tom had to show me his true colors...

So far he's not fitting into a nursery rhyme but he's so storybook I feel he must put in appearance somewhere before Thanksgiving.

I feel I've forgotten to notice the specialness of life around me these past few weeks. So good to be looking deeply again and appreciating the miracles that surround me.

Real life truly is the very best fairy tale!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Funnel lamp how-to

I needed a little more light in the studio, but it had to be done on the cheap.

Scrounged materials to the rescue! For under $10 I now have some wonderful lamps.

Want to do something similar? Here's how!

I found some old funnels. One I bought for a quarter at a thrift store, one I scrounged from an old farmyard. Picked up some rusty heavy duty wire thingies too~ nobody knows what they were but they were round and suited my purpose.

Buy a lamp kit at the hardware store. This is just a simple socket and electrical wire. It cost me $5 each.

Stick the wire through the funnel hole and use a screwdriver to hook it to the socket.

Voila! You have a lamp.

Now to the fun part: embellishing!

I used some feathers I found on the road while jogging. Stuck them on with an old fashioned clothespin.

Used some fabulous silk ribbon for a bit of girly glam and soften the roughness of the old metals. My fave ribbons are always from Raffit Ribbon. Eliot Raffit's silks feel like your great grandma must have handed them down.

This time I used a champagne silk ribbon and tied it to the top, letting it hang down and hold up a rather odd crinkly round of rusty wire. You could use barbed wire or anything round, even a circle of grapevine.

Use old clothes pins to hang inspirations or notes to yourself, anything you like.

It's a fun way to add character and light to your workspace. A cheapskate's stylish dream!

Saturday, July 25, 2009


This year summer seems particularly grand.

How could you not marvel at blue skies and sunshine, a new grapevine taking hold on the trellis?

...toads in the garden...

... blueberries ripening...

... the slightly russet tone of an apple and the similar colors on our sweet hens...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Green envy

I'm green.

Not as in environmentally, though I'm working on that.

Green, as in envious. Drooling over the gardens in the neighborhood.

Planning for next year already.

I can not live another year without Montmorency cherries, almost translucent, lovely for pies.

A birdhouse with hollyhocks strategically placed.

So British-looking. Chic, almost. Perhaps one of those apartment styles, high on its pole.

I must paint the hen house red. And look how smart Scarlett was to place an apple tree right next to it, where the blush on the ripening apples would pick up hints of the same barn red.

And her pole beans~ why didn't I think of that? (Scribbling notes I'll probably lose over the winter...)

But our garden does boast delights of its own, and if you studiously ignore the weeds, there's lavendar...

hydrangeas of many hues...

Shasta daisies to remind me of Grandaddy,

... and a bumper crop of berries, enough kinds to keep us picking all summer long.

I feel a picnic coming on! Such fun to be a gardener in the summertime.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Courage, redemption and restoration

Our friends John and Anne bought a wreck of a house this week.

It took courage and vision to buy something with potential that nobody else could see.

When escrow closed, I went to work alongside them, breathing new life into something forlorn and stinking.

Move out the squatter with his unspeakable porn, but do it gently and with kindness.

Get rid of the rats and mice. Cleanse the kitchen, carry out load after load of garbage, and wash out every trace of disgusting things that carry the stench of death. We were gagging and it was awful, but we did it.

Every inch was permeated with trash and dirt and decay. But the house had good bones, as my friend says. At its core, she knew there was something worth saving and I am cheering her on.

We are people who believe in restoration.

We have hope.

For nations, for communities, for our neighbors.

Even for one little white house on a hill in Clear Lake.

As the week drew to a close, we'd gotten rid of most of the junk inside. We'd hauled out the freezer full of rotting meat, dumped the buckets of evil-smelling liquids, and trashed filthy mattresses.

It's only a start. There are many loads to haul to the dump, and it'll take years to finish, but things are moving the right direction. You can feel it even though it's going to be a long and dirty task.

There's a new day coming for the little house by the lake.

You can almost hear this house start to giggle.

The old is swept out, there's a new day coming.

Already the little house begins to laugh again. We had a birthday party in the gazebo yesterday, and there will be sledding and cocoa this winter. Soon laundry will flap on the line, and when Thanksgiving comes, Anne will roast a huge turkey in the oven and smile wide in her country kitchen.

We are people of hope, and we believe. Oh yes, we believe.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hiking the Cascades

"Let's pack a picnic and go," said Mr. Wonderful at breakfast.

"Yes!" Cold chicken and lemonade, cherries and chocolate chip cookies... Sketch pad, watercolors, pencil... leashes, puppies and nalgenes full of ice water and we're tootling east up the highway and into the Cascades.

This is the same glacier we see from the living room window, but up close it rivals the Alps at its best.

Alpine lakes. Snow fields, even in July. Glacier lilies. And that's just for starters.

Trickling water refreshed our souls with music composed by God himself.

I was stunned by the wildflowers~ everything from flowering blueberries

to ferns unfurling like a majestic and artful dance

buttercups side-by-side with the violets along a mossy stream...

When we turned toward home I felt as if I'd had a whole week's vacation, condensed into one glorious day.

How is it that one place can be so refreshingly energizing?

If you are coming to the Pacific Northwest this summer, you must let me play tour guide. I need to go up into the Cascades again. Soon.