Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wishing you a boogie woogie new year...

Let's see, that would be a new year full of energy, enthusiasm, creativity and good health...similar to what these amazing dancers exude.

Winter rains...

After a few days of heavy rain, the North Umpqua River is a muddy grey color and overflowing its banks. But the hills across the river are beginning to change from summer brown to spring green, a beautiful and hopeful sight.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Snail Bird

The drive took twice as long as it should have, but we arrived safely in Portland last Tuesday and enjoyed a very pleasant holiday with our family. Christmas with a three year old is just FUN!

Although Georgia received a number of gender neutral presents, her new doll seemed to be her favorite gift. In addition to the doll, she received a small wicker laundry basket with clothesline and clothes pins and a child-size iron and ironing board, also big hits. Almost immediately Georgia B.'s Laundry was open for business. She took the doll clothes off the hangers and stuffed them under a pillow on the sofa (her pretend washing machine). After a while the clothes were hung up to dry, then ironed and returned to their hangers in the doll trunk. Then the cycle was repeated.

Oh, and the doll's new name?..."Snail-Bird" (shortened to Birdie). Don't ask. Because who can fathom the mind of a three year old.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

North to Alaska, er I mean Portland…

We’re loading gifts and food and heading north today to spend Christmas with our family in Portland. But not without some trepidation, at least on my part, as Portland has been hit with ten days of significant snow (for Oregon), freezing rain and generally treacherous road conditions. My ever confident husband isn’t worried (4-wheel drive, plus chains) but I am less sanguine about the plan. I guess we’ll find out. We really must show, because WE have the doll…

I wish you all a warm, cozy holiday, with good cheer, good friends, and delicious, decadent food. Who knows where we will all be this time next year, after the Masters of the Universe are finished with things...

(Photo credit: www.copyright-free-photos.org.uk)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ready for delivery...

My husband finished the doll trunk last night and if the weather gods cooperate, it will be under the tree for my granddaughter on Christmas eve...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Oh, baby, it's cold outside

We hardly ever use our wood stove any more, but I woke up to this cozy fire, built by my husband before he left for work on this snowy Oregon morning...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I live in Oregon, the number one Christmas tree producing state in the nation. Last year Oregon harvested 7.3 million Christmas trees. They are bountiful and fairly inexpensive here, but this year we are without one. Since we will be spending Christmas at our son’s home this year, and because life is particularly hectic right now, we decided to skip the tree. My husband was THRILLED, since he is the one who ends up doing most of the work. I was okay with our decision until a few days ago when I suddenly began craving the scent of evergreens in my home…and greatly missed being able to enjoy my first cup of coffee in the dark living room, illuminated only by the lights on the tree.

So last weekend my husband cut down some evergreen boughs for me to use in this arrangement. And last night he spray painted some branches white for me.

And now there’s a hint of evergreens wafting through my home and life is feeling a little bit more festive.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A very big baby...

Thirty-two years ago today I was hugely pregnant with twins. Within 48 hours, on December 10, my babies would arrive in the world and I would be recovering from a C-section and a broken shoulder joint.

The first months of my pregnancy were normal. The doctor and mid-wife at the birthing center kept telling me I was going to have a BIG baby. But at seven months, an ultrasound revealed that BIG baby was really twins. Exciting and scary news for my husband and I. My normal pregnancy soon began to change and by the time I entered the end of my eighth month, I had developed preeclampsia, a potentially fatal condition for mother and child. I was hospitalized for a week, then released. A day later I was back in the hospital where, within the next 12 hours, my son and daughter were delivered by C-section. During this time I also fractured my shoulder joint. (Twins are often born premature and underweight but mine were born on their due date and had normal birth weights – 8 lbs. 4 oz. and 6 lbs. 13 oz. I was huge. Teenagers laughed at me...)

Three days after their birth the twins went home with my husband, but I remained in the hospital for another two weeks. Two operations and two months later my shoulder joint had finally healed and I was able to hold them without assistance for the first time. Our little family had a bumpy beginning. The help we received from my husband's parents saved us.

Although the birth experience was not what I anticipated, my babies were everything I imagined and hoped for. They were mellow infants and happy children - smart, funny, creative and kind. Their teenage years were bumpy, but we all got through it. After high school they both went on to obtain advance degrees and have successful careers. My son is a wonderful father and I know my daughter will be a great mom if she has children. We're very proud of them.

Like all siblings, Zach and Camas have their prickly moments, but I’m pleased that they are friends and still close. They are probably rolling their eyes by now at my depiction of our family (not as perfect as I have perhaps made it sound). But we do love each other and enjoy spending time together, a sweet blessing.

On Wednesday they will be 32 years old. We won’t be able to celebrate their mid-week birthdays with them in Portland, but we’ll talk by phone. Happy birthday, my sweet babes. You'll always be my super kids!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Red trunk, rediscovered...

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with our son, daughter-in-law and three year old granddaughter Georgia. She pronounced the dinner, “very good” (although I think she was really just referring to the jellied cranberry sauce and the pumpkin brulĂ©e.)

While she was here my husband pulled more of our children’s toys out of the attic for her to play with. Georgia was quite taken with my daughter’s old doll and the red doll trunk filled with doll clothes hanging on brass hangers. My daughter’s grandfather made the little brass hangers and I spent many hours sewing and embroidering the “Vogue” doll clothes during my twins’ naps and after they were in bed at night.

After seeing her delight in the doll and her accessories, a plan was hatched. Although my daughter-in-law is not a big fan of dolls, on Monday she ordered a beautiful German doll for Georgia for Christmas. My husband began the search for brass fittings for a wooden doll trunk which he will make and I went shopping for fabric and patterns for doll clothing.

I’m sure this month will fly as I make dresses and pants and shirts and pajamas for the newest addition to Georgia's little family. And I suspect there won't be much painting...

Thanks, June!

A big thank you to June for sending this award my way. I'm supposed to pass it on and will do so eventually, but life is just too busy right now. Stop by and visit June's blog Poetry and Photography: The Memory Thread. It's an interesting mix of photographs and musings about her life.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I know you have one, too...

I suspect every American family has a holiday recipe which includes a very unwholesome ingredient made by Kraft Foods, General Mills or some other corporate food producer. Maybe it’s something with lime green jello in it, or a cake mix full of preservatives. Perhaps Lipton soup mix is a main ingredient or it has marshmallows on top. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s a throwback from the 1950s and family members refuse to give it up.

In our family, that dish is Artic Freeze, a creamy, tart frozen concoction with walnuts and whole cranberry bits in it. I serve slices of it on a plate with a serving of homemade fresh cranberry sauce. If I omit it from the Thanksgiving menu, there’s a lot of whining around the table. Most of the ingredients in the dish are okay. It’s a blend of whole cranberry sauce, cream cheese, shredded pineapple and walnuts. Not too bad, so far, right? The killer ingredient? COOL WHIP. According to Wikipedia: “Cool Whip is made of water, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated coconut and palm kernel oil (CPKO), sodium caseinate, vanilla extract, xanthan and guar gums, polysorbate 60 (glycosperse), and beta carotene.”

Cool Whip is pretty creepy used by itself as a dairy-like topping. (I always think of it as soft edible plastic.) But when it’s blended with all those other ingredients it actually looks and tastes like real food. I have in the past substituted real whipped cream for the Cool Whip. It was okay, it worked with the recipe, but it just didn’t have quite the right texture.

It would be a bad thing if I ate Artic Freeze everyday, but I’m sure once a year is fine. So I’m off now to add the ingredients to my Thanksgiving grocery list. And I'd love to hear about your favorite recipe, too...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Squash Primer

With the exception of pumpkin (as in pie) I never eat squash. I believe squash really exists to provide an inexpensive front porch decoration during the months of October and November. I do, however, have great appreciation for their aesthetic beauty and always enjoy seeing them piled in colorful mounds at the fall farmers market. Their odd, beautifully colored shapes are wonderful to look at… and paint. I know the names of some of the members of the squash family - butternut, acorn, turban, but there are many kinds of squash whose names were unknown to me. That changed last week after the Oregonian newspaper featured a squash photo spread in the food section.

And now I know the names of all that squash piled on my front porch.

Delicate - According to the Oregonian, " This variety is unique in that the skin, provided it's cooked long enough, is thin enough to eat, and the nutty, creamy flesh has notes of corn and sweet potato. Best when baked or steamed; not as good for soups."

Sweet Dumpling - "A winner. Sweet and nutty with a super-creamy texture. Skip trying to peel those small ridges and just cut it in half and bake." (Personally, I think the name of this one should be "camo.")

Kuri- "Also known as Japanese squash, orange Hokkaido or uchiki, kuri squash is similar in texture to the butternut; red kuri is smoother, with a distinct taste of chestnuts."

I'm dedicating this post to my wonderful daughter-in-law Aimee, who apparently can never get enought of this stuff, since her freezer is full of jars filled with squash!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Evening view

I was getting ready to put my paints away and close the curtains for the evening when I noticed these colors outside. Most of the trees around our house are naked now, but there are a few bushes and trees that refuse to give up their autumn finery.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today is the day we get our country back!

The champagne is chilling. The flutes have been washed. Our friends are joining us this evening for dinner and election returns.

We tried this four years ago and it was a bust. But I'm thinking tonight we're going to have better results.

And I'm really looking forward to not having to cringe every time our president opens his mouth.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Oh, yumm!

Apple galettes are the quintessential fall dessert. Mine always taste good, but they are often rough and mishappen in appearance. Today I made a pretty galette. (Actually, I guess the apples should have been arranged in concentric circles.) But still, I had to share...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Foggy Foliage

I had to drive into town very early on a foggy morning last week. The low lying fog and beautiful fall foliage against the dark evergreens was very dramatic. I tried to capture it from memory today.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Nothing in the room inspired me while we were watching Sixty Minutes last night, so I drew this from a fashion magazine at hand. Contour drawings are relaxing, no worry about accuracy or creating anything special, just an opportunity to exercise the right side of the brain...

Ha! I'm certain that Vogue model did not have the hips I drew on her, maybe a bit of projection on my part?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

October Virtual Sketch Date

I have company coming this weekend, so I'm posting my painting for the October Virtual Sketch Date early. This is the first time I've used rough paper and I really like the granulation.


I was looking through my bookshelf today for some art inspiration and came across the wonderful book, Lawrence Goldsmith: A Life in Watercolor. Goldsmith's use of color, calligraphic line and white space is exquisite. Sitting down with his book was a very good way to start my day. Here's more of Goldschmidt's art:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Imminent demise greatly exaggerated

A couple of weeks ago I predicted these flowers would soon be history. But this is the bouquet I picked today. What the heck do I know? Maybe they'll bloom all winter!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Muse in flight

If I ever had one, it seems to be gone now. It's Watercolor 101 at my house lately.

Or maybe this is just what happens when one neglects to draw or paint for days at a time.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

3 a.m.

Cornelius Eady

You'll never sleep tonight.
Trains will betray you, cars confess
Their destinations.

Whether you like it
Or not.

They want more
Than to be in
Your dreams.

They want to tell you
A story.

They yammer all night and then
The birds take over,
Jeering as only
The well-rested can.

Not much of a resemblence, but it does depict how I feel, wandering around the house at 3 a.m. A bit deranged and very tired...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Almost finished...

After a week of very hot weather, rain and cooler temperatures are headed to Oregon. One night of freezing temperatures and these zinnias will be finished.

A very quick little study while I waited for dinner to finish cooking.

How difficult is it to name the newspapers/magazines YOU read?

I guess it would be a tough question if you didn't actually read any...

Last night on the CBS Evening News, host Katie Couric asked Sarah Palin which sources she relies on for her news consumption. Three separate times, Couric tried to elicit a response from Palin about which specific newspapers she reads. Seemingly caught off guard, Palin could not name a single news source:

COURIC: And when it comes to establishing your world view, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this — to stay informed and to understand the world?

PALIN: I’ve read most of them again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media —

COURIC: But what ones specifically? I’m curious.

PALIN: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me over all these years.

COURIC: Can you name any of them?

PALIN: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

September Virtual Sketch Draw

My most recent attempt to paint a tree peony which is this month's subject for virtual sketch draw.

An abundance of tree peonies

I had dinner at a friend's house for my birthday in May and she sent me home with this beautiful tree peony. The photo is the subject for this month's Virtual Sketch Date.

I've drawn and painted the flower several times during the past few months. My first attempt (ink & watercolor) was done from life, right before the ripe flower blew apart. My painting is a bit blowsy and overdone.

This ink and watercolor wash was my second attempt. Anemic.

I also tried it using charcoal pencil.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What's in my journal...

"Odd things, like a button drawer. Mean
Thing, fishhooks, barbs in your hand.
But marbles too. A genius for being agreeable.
Junkyard crucifixes, voluptuous
discards. Space for knickknacks, and for
Alaska. Evidence to hang me, or to beatify.
Clues that lead nowhere, that never connected
anyway. Deliberate obfuscation, the kind
that takes genius. Chasms in character.
Loud omissions. Mornings that yawn above
a new grave. Pages you know exist
but you can't find them. Someone's terribly
inevitable life story, maybe mine."

by William Stafford,
from Crossing Unmarked Snow

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Acquainted with the Night

I'v suffered from insomnia for many years and I was intrigued when I heard about this book, edited by Lisa Spaar. I finally got around to purchasing it. It's a gem - a collection of verse on the subject of insomnia, including poems by Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Bishop, Charles Simic, Rimbaud, Shakespeare and Shelley. Something to read in the early morning hours.

Here's one I like by Charles Simic:

Mirrors at 4 A.M.

You must come to them sideways
In rooms webbed in shadow,
Sneak a view of their emptiness
Without them catching
A glimpse of you in retutrn.

The secret is,
Even the empty bed is a burden to them,
A pretense.
They are more themselves keeping
The company of a blank wall,
The company of time and eternity

Which, begging your pardon,
Cast no image
As they admire themselves in the mirror,
While you stand to the side
Pulling a hanky out
To wipe your brow surreptitiously.

The still drone of the time
past midnight.
All words put out,
men are sunk into the sweetness
of sleep. Even the far-flung world
has put aside its rages
for sleep.

Only I
am awake.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Delicious autumn!

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. - George Elliot

Autumn actually arrives on September 22, but it already feels like fall in Oregon. September and October are my two favorite months of the year. I love the sunny days and crisp evenings, the beautiful colors and the knowledge that I'll soon be sharing the holidays with family and friends.

Every four years autumn also means presidential politics. While I think it's important for us all to pay attention and seek accurate information, I'm determined not to let politics ruin my enjoyment of this season. I'm trying not to obsess... and working on not spending half the night mulling things over. (Politics and insomnia are a BAD combination.) But instead of letters to the editor, I'll be posting my thoughts about the election here.

Painting helps...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Monday music...

Two very different, but equally wonderful, CDs arrived in my mailbox today.

An excellent way to start the week...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Following Directions

When I feel inspired to paint or draw, my usual procedure is to sit down and get to work, with little or no advance planning. My hope and expectation is that I will be able to intuitively create what is in my mind’s eye. Occasionally, the artwork turns out well, but for the most part it does not.

My watercolor teacher and the authors of the many watercolor books I own encourage a more thoughtful and systematic approach to creating a painting. I decided to follow their directions (for once!). This is the result. A bit too much contrast between the pink/orange color on the two pears, but overall an improvement over my usual work, I think.

I’ve also documented the process below.

The Process

I began with a graphite sketch/value study of the arrangement:

As a watercolor warm-up, I decided to do a mono-chromatic value study. Problems with the composition were apparent and I adjusted the arrangement a bit.

I used a limited palatte of relatively transparent watercolor: Hansa Yellow, Quinacrodone Red and Cobalt Blue:

I was fairly pleased with this result, but the grayscale version confirmed a lack of darker values. I knew I would screw things up if I tried to darken the pears. I set it aside for a couple of weeks and did other things.

Today I went in and darkened things a bit, as in the image of the post above.

Monday, August 18, 2008


After learning of Kay Ryan's appointment as U.S. Poet Laureate, I ordered her book Say Uncle. It arrived today, a wonderful treat. Patience is one of those virtues I hope to achieve before I die...


Patience is
wider than one
once envisioned,
with ribbons
of rivers
and distant
ranges and
tasks undertaken
and finished
with modest
relish by
natives in their
native dress.
Who would
have guessed
it possible
that waiting
is sustainable-
a place with
its own harvests.
Or that in
time’s fullness
the diamonds
of patience
couldn’t be
from the genuine
in brillance
or hardness.

Kay Ryan
US Poet Laureate

Friday, August 15, 2008

(Almost) Guacamole

Guacamole and enchiladas at my house tonight...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Blogging break...

I'm taking a blogging break for awhile to work on a project which must be completed by mid-September. If it turns out well, I'll share it when I'm done.

Although I won't be posting, I'll still be visiting my favorite blogs in the interim. Because I seem to be addicted to this stuff...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Splashing about...

I had a pleasant afternoon yesterday splashing about with paint and water. And then I sat in a chair by the river and read Billy Collins and enjoyed the cool breeze... a perfect summer afternoon.

When I woke up this morning, I discovered that Marsha Robinette at The Extraordinary Pencil had kindly sent the Arte y Pico award my way. You'll want to visit Marsha's blog. Her drawings are quite beautiful and her posts are thought provoking. Thanks so much for thinking of me, Marsha!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Loose ends..

I'm tired of painting little objects. But I'm not inspired to paint anything else, either. So I spent the last week making color charts and just fooling around. But I don't have much to show for it...

Maybe I need some new paint.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

At the Butterfly Pavilion

Notice the bee to the right of the butterfly in the photo? A second after I snapped this, the butterfly bolted after being buzzed.

We took an excursion to the small town of Elkton, Oregon yesterday to visit some wineries and see the Butterfly Pavilion. The flower gardens at the Pavilion were spectacular. It's impossible to beat Mother Nature's palette!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Virtual Sketch Date

I first learned about the Virtual Sketch Date blog at Laura's blog and decided to participate this month. A photo is posted on the Virtual Sketch Date blog every month and people can sign up to post their artistic interpretation of the photo, using whatever medium they want. I've attempted to paint the photograph several times this week, simplifying it more and more as the week progressed. These turned out the best, although they have problems. The top is watercolor; the bottom image was done using a Pigma Micron pen with Tombow watercolor markers. The leaf shadows were much easier to do with the watercolor markers than with a paintbrush. I need to practice painting leaves, too. Also, the photo was somewhat ambiguous. I think those were oranges, and not large lemons, in the photo!