Friday, September 30, 2011

Walking down a Zentangle path, drunkards style

I have always been a doodler.  When the phone rings, any memo pad within reach doesn’t have prayer.  As I chat my hand moves with a mind of its own and I cover the page with elaborate doodles.  Is that fancy scroll hiding a number…a date?  It’s not something new; I’ve been doing it all my life.

Of course there is no order to my jumbled mess.  And now I find there is a name for doodling of this kind—zentangle.  I like to think of zentangles as a kind of crazy quilt of the mind. 

There are many quilt designs, some of them old as the hills, and most of them very zentangle-y.  So I dig up the old drunkard’s path design, which in sewing has always presented me with problems.   If you managed to create one such quilt there is a rule that you must follow…never put it on a boy’s bed or they may become just that—a drunkard. 

But what to do with these (new to me) orderly doodles…and the answer came to me much like the doodles come to me—randomly.  And the answer was why not greeting cards?  I think they look fab, but I’m not going it to send it to anyone of the male gender, after all, why take chances?

I am entering this is this week’s PAINT PARTY FRIDAY and if anyone wants the drunkard’s path pattern be sure and let me know.  Since I have been under the weather it may me all weekend to visit all the wonderful creations shown at this week’s PPF, but rest assured I will get there, and you should too! 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Birthday Blues

When I was little I used to get excited when my birthday rolled around, but now that I am grown, not so much.  All it means is another candle on the cake, which has become a virtual fire hazard and another year added to my number.  I wonder how soon before I reach the crone stage?

I think there comes a time in everyone’s life when no amount of gifts, parties or cakes makes a birthday an event to look forward to.  My mother never had birthdays. Well, let me rephrase that.  She had a day on which she entered this world.  She just didn’t celebrate it every year.  She forfeited any presents and parties for the ability to just let that day go by without adding a another year to her age.  As a result, when she died, she was only 39 even though I was 40 at the time.

Since my Mom didn’t have birthdays, then it goes without saying that Dad couldn’t either.  You see, if he celebrated a Birthday every year, there would come a time when Mom couldn’t deny the fact that if the years were piling up on him, then they were also landing somewhere in her vicinity as well.  So if she didn’t have birthdays, then neither could he.  You know the marriage vows…through sickness, health, and lying about your age.  To this day I don't know the exact date of either of my parent's birthdays!

Today is my birthday. I was born on September 29, and although I am not Jewish, I arrived unexpectedly on Yom Kippur, a major Jewish Holiday.  The obstetrician, who was Jewish couldn’t be located until I had already made an appearance.  Personally I think mom should have got a little discount, don’t you? 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Art is (not always) meant to last

This past weekend I attended a street painting festival.  I was amazed at the creative and colorful designs painted temporarily in chalk in the middle of several roped off streets.  Did I say temporary?  Yes that is exactly what I said and under rain threatening skies as well! 

Don’t get me wrong I appreciated the talent and skill of these artists, but to roll around on the hard asphalt, covered from head to toe in the medium and then have your labors washed away or simply run over buy a garbage truck, well that is just—simply put, dedication.

Some of the creations were simple, but some were quite intricate reproductions of museum pieces.  Today they are gone, underfoot or tire, and it just rubs me the wrong way.

As I watch these hard-working artists put down something that will gone with the wind I think of the words spoken by the late Martin Luther King Jr….

~Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better. ~

As for me personally…I’ll stick with a hopscotch board.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Look closely at the photograph. What do you see?

I came across this one day and did a double take.  Did someone leave a little rocking horse in the middle of a field?  Is there a little doggie taking a rest?  I love looking at clouds and imagining all sorts of animals and shapes, but sometimes nature gives you the same thing right here on the ground!  Now, click on the photo to enlarge it.  Oh my,  it seems that it is simply a fallen tree branch!

What do you see?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Easy to make Foam Halloween mask/ party favor

Foam masks are readily available in Craft stores and a pack of four can be purchased for around a dollar.  What little princess wouldn’t just love to wear these masks to the Halloween party?  And they make great party favors too!  Use any trim you have on hand or pick up a bag of inexpensive ribbon and trims remnants that can be found anywhere crafts or fabrics are sold.  In no time you can create enough for a group!

You will need:

Pack of foam masks with elastic ties

Tacky Craft Glue

Ruler, scissors

Small amount of braided trim

7 inches of string beads

Some feathers

Sequins,  trim on a roll or you can use each sequin separately

5 rhinestones or flat backed beads

Clothespins for holding while the glue sets

1.     You will be using two masks to make one thicker mask.  Decorate the front of the mask by gluing the braided trim all around the edges.  Glue sequins (or strung sequins) around eyeholes.  Glue five rhinestones in the center of the mask and let dry.

2.     On the second mask (the back) measure 7 inches of string beads and fold in half.  Apply some glue to the mask and attach the beads to the lower end of one side.  (I did it to the right side but any side will do)  Add more glue on top and add the feathers.

3.     Apply glue generously to the entire back piece (see photo) and line up the decorated front piece on top.  Make sure the holes for the elastic line up as well.  Press and use some clothespins all around to hold tight until the glue sets.  Let dry completely.

4.     When the mask is dry tie on the elastic for wearing. 

Be careful when wearing masks since vision may be a bit obstructed.  You can sandwich a thin popsicle stick or dowel on the back before you glue the sides together for holding instead of wearing with elastic.

If you don’t want a thicker mask, just use one and forego the feathers and beads hanging down.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The girl and the hornet's nest

No, I’m not talking about an international fiction bestseller; I’m talking about me.  You just can’t make this stuff up.

First let me explain a few things…

*  I am allergic to bee stings.
* Somehow, even loving nature as I do, I have managed to avoid venomous stinging insects for many years.
* This year for some reason there are a lot of hornets around my house.
*  At night if I turn on the porch light, they flock to it and my front door as if it were a magnet.
*  There can be hundreds of hornets in a single nest
*  Hornets emit a pheromone that alerts other hornets to a threat and signals an entire nest to attack.

So I don’t turn on the porch light.  My husband doesn’t seem to get it and automatically turns it on at dusk.  Last night before bed I got ready to take the dog out for one last bathroom break.  My husband told me he was going to watch a little TV in bed and went upstairs.  I opened the door and went out never noticing that the porch light was on.  After doggy did her business, I started to go inside but stopped dead in my tracks when I saw that several hornets were congregating around my door.  In fact it would be impossible to get by without disturbing them!  Two of them were crawling around the storm doorframe and three were on the doormat. Heaven knows how I got past them when I went out!

Dilemma:  I don’t kill bugs and even if I did, the thought of activating some pheromone that would set the whole nest on me made me cringe.  Husband was happily watching TV upstairs. After years of working around jet engines he only hearing.  Get where I'm going with this yet?

I picked up a fallen tree branch and tried to push the doorbell, no luck.  Then I spied the pooper-scooper, angled it and lined it up with the doorbell.  I pushed, and it rang, and rang and rang. Husband dear, as I feared, was hearing nothing.!!!  Fruitlessly, I waited for him to come down the stairs hoping I could shout at him through the storm door not to open it but to let me in through the garage.

A light bulb went off, no not the porch one. (For those of you who are not into cartoons it means an idea popped into my head)  The garage had button codes for opening!  The dog and I walked over to where the keypad should be...and what do you know.., no keypad!  As I searched in the dark, I realized that the painters, who had been working during the day, had removed it in order to paint the trim! 

The night was getting a bit chilly. Back to the front door I went…pooper-scooper in hand I rang some more.  After a grueling 30 minutes or so of pooper-scooping the doorbell, husband wandered down the stairs.  Thank god for that pooper-scooper!  I yelled at him not to open the door but let me in from the garage. Confused, but cooperative he opened the garage.  I guess you could say I was mad as a... hornet.

I wouldn’t have to spend the night on the lawn, curled up in the bushes with only an 11 lb. Jack Russell terrier to keep me warm.  Hopefully the hornets will soon be gone with the cooler weather approaching.  Today I am putting a post it note by the porch light switch…”do not turn on after 6 p.m.

And for those of you who will be visiting me soon I would forgo the doorbell and just knock.

I am entering this quick sketch of my nemesis in this week's Sunday Sketches so I'll see you there!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Quick, easy, and inexpensive, Ghost/mummy, Frankenstein/alien chenille pins

Lets Craft!  I know it's been a while since I published free instructions for an easy and inexpensive craft project but the wait is over!  You can create enough for a group of pins for under $2.00!  This is an original design and you won't find it anywhere but here! 

You will need:

Pack of sparkle chenille stems (you need one stem for each pin)

Tacky craft glue

1 inch pin back

Googly eyes  (one set for each pin.)

1.     To make a pin fold a chenille stem in half.  At the top, using your fingers form a small circle.  (If you are trying to make Frankenstein, flatten the top a bit for a squarish effect)

2.     Measure down two inches on one side and bend stem upwards.  (see photo) Repeat on the other side.  Cross right stem over body area and come up with the end at the neck.  Bend into place.   Bring other side around back and cross around neck to front and twist in place.  Adjust hands to any pose desired.


3.     Glue two google eyes right at the area where the head meets the neck  and let dry.

4.     Glue a one inch pin back onto back of pin and let dry.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Graffiti with punctuation

Last weekend my husband and I went to see the move “Contagion.”  The movie was passable, as disaster movies go but there was one thing that got me thinking and it really had nothing to do with the main plot.  It was about blogging.

In addition to the flu-like pandemic story there are several subplots woven within this movie. One of these subplots deals with a blogger who whips up the panic by dwelling on conspiracies within the medical and political arena. The blogger, played by Jude Law tries to defend his writing as journalism and is told, “Blogging isn’t journalism... it is graffiti with punctuation.”

“Graffiti with Punctuation!” I was shocked. No, I don’t have a million hits a day on my blog like Jude’s character, I’m lucky if I have a 100, but I work hard on my blog. 

I spend many hours each month thinking and writing up short, amusing pieces of life in order to entertain.  I am not controversial. I do not (usually) rant.  I don’t gossip and spread rumors. I don’t accuse anyone of anything and I don’t curse. 

That night when I came home I almost closed my blog then and there.  If no one respects blogging and it is something to laugh at, then count me out, I thought.

And then I realized…I am an artist and a writer and just like an athlete, blogging is my exercise and release.  Even If no one reads my blog, I know I have done my best.  So I will continue as long as I am able to fling my pearls of wisdom on that giant ocean we call Earth.

I hope, though, that someone does read it…. Can you hear me?  Are you out there? 

P.S.  After I wrote this post almost as if by magic I received my first hate comment, the first I’ve ever received in more than a year of blogging.  To the person who anonymously does such a thing…be assured that blogger delegates your venom to the spam folder, but may I offer a simple suggestion, if you don't like what is written here, then why not just stay away? A refresher course on grammar wouldn't hurt either.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Kitchen Archaeology

Apples in pastel

Ever since that long, long ago day when early man picked up something with which to mark on his walls we artists have felt the need to record the mundane, the common, the everyday occurrences that make our lives what they are.

Due to this fact, we know that early man liked the taste of wooly mammoth and that he may have been justifiably afraid of that saber toothed neighbor.  We know that his kitchen was a bit like, well, a cave.  We know that he enjoyed bar-be-que over an open flame.  Yes, we learn a lot about Mr. Caveman and woman from his art.

Several thousand years in the future the fruity still life is a perennial favorite subject, and in my house there is always seasonal inspiration right in the center of my kitchen table, or adorning my counter.  The bowls and the fruit constantly change right along with the weather.

Come summer and you are likely to encounter a big bowl of grapes and sometimes cherries, ripe for the picking…and eating.  My autumn is always abundant with apples and pears.  In winter there is nothing like a bright red bowl of cranberries to brighten the season.  After the snow has melted, I wait expectantly for spring and the ripe, sweet strawberries. 

Ok, I know that due to modern technology and shipping methods, fruit that used to only be available at certain times are now always at hand…but the taste and color are often not the best.

Boring?  Yes.  These tablescapes ever present in my humble kitchen are oh so boring and ordinary; even so they are a literal feast for the palate (pun intended) and the eyes!

One day in the very distant future some uber-modern human will smile at the knowledge that always sitting on the cave kitchen counter of Crystal Clear there was a bowl of fruit.

It’s Creative Tuesday so let’s all go and see how the theme of Kitchen its interpreted this week at CREATIVE TUESDAY!   Thanks Mr. Toast!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

These boots are made for sloshing on PPF

11 x 14 acrylic

It was a dark and stormy night. It was a dark and stormy day.  It was a dark and stormy night… again! I won’t go into the next day because I think you get the picture.  Irene breezed through with wind and rain, but Lee; well she is just sticking around night and day.   She brings thunder, lightening, and the only thing missing is a haunted house. 

The day, no matter how dark and dreary, must go on.  So as you set out for work, school, or chores, how do you keep dry?

Do you grab your boots, your umbrella, and maybe a raincoat? Within a few minutes you discover that rain is sneaky and it sometimes comes down sideways so your umbrella is not doing the job you thought it would do.  You naively stand on a curb and find that drivers have no courtesy where pedestrians are concerned and you are now dirt spattered and drenched.  If your boots are not the rubber kind, your feet are now residing in a swamp.  A gust of wind comes out of nowhere and your umbrella turns inside out.  You arrive at your destination; your carefully coifed hair is stringy and glued to your head making “bad hair day” an understatement.  Don’t look now but you have arrived at The Rocky Horror Picture show, and you are the star attraction.

As I sit typing in the semi darkness of this once again rainy day, I wonder will it become yet another dark and stormy night?  Could that be chains I hear rattling?

Last week I was on vacation in fantastic sunny weather and wasn't here for Paint Party Friday but I'm back now and I'm joining in  PAINT PARTY FRIDAY  once again.... so...see you there!  Thanks to Kristin and Eva-- our hosts.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wearing white after Labor Day good fashion sense or is it…for the birds?

Do you wear white after Labor Day?  I must say I don’t quite get the reason, but I’ve always gone by the rule.  Except today I decided to throw caution to the wind and get one last day out of my white jeans.  I felt very rebel-iscious until I looked out of my window and noticed the bird at my feeder.

Yes, he was wearing white-- on his head.  Freaky?  Yes.  Fashionable?  Most certainly, He looked very dapper indeed and goodness gracious—it was a couple of days after Labor Day!  It’s a tad a bit early for Halloween and I don’t think he is going to fool anyone into thinking he is a tiny eagle.

Scratching my head at this Bald Eagle imposter I went and did a bit of research on this odd phenomenon.  I find that it is more common (even though after years of watching birds this is the first I’ve ever seen) that one thinks.  The condition, called leucism is in fact, a partial mutation of the pigment cells. He is a leucistic Grackle! 

So, I must say that while we humans are stowing our white garments, the natural world is sporting them in style.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Technology retreats

The one thing that disturbed me the most about the August earthquake in Virginia wasn’t the loss of some knick-knacks and glassware.  It wasn’t the fears that rose along with the shaking, it was the loss of technology.

Yes, cell phones quit!  I couldn’t call my husband who works at the airport in D.C.  I couldn’t call my daughter or son, no one, unless of course they had an old fashioned plug in the wall, no electricity required landline!

Why?  The reason seems to be that everyone and his brother was using cell phones to call loved ones and the system was way overloaded.  So everyone who is lulled into thinking that with current technology in an emergency we can get in contact with our family and friends may be S-O-L.  For the handful of people who don’t know what that means, let me enlighten you…  S----- out of luck.  In addition since so many didn’t know what was happening I heard that a lot of people were calling 911, which also overloaded that system.  God forbid anyone was really injured.

So to summarize, you can just forget about that fancy cell phone in an emergency.  You may as well be holding a rock.  If you know me then you know that I do have a novel idea, however.  How about sending up some smoke signals?

Just to be safe it wouldn’t hurt to stock up on some wood and matches, and learn the signals.  

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I’m Back from vacation…did anyone miss me?

Blue Angels

Because I missed you all!  I went away unplugged and it was relaxing and quite rejuvenating!  My goofing off isn’t quite over yet, today I went to an air show and I still have the Labor Day holiday!!!   Very soon, though I will be back to painting, posting, commenting and catching up.  Until then…Happy Trails! 

Who is ready for fall?   “Me, me, me”.  Yes I am raising my hand as if I am the one going back to school!

Happy Labor Day!

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