Thursday, December 27, 2012

A New Look!

Well now, how do I look?  I loved my old background and header, but needed a change. This time of year, I like to look at things in a different way. It is good to refresh things, isn't it? The thought of facing the whole winter in the same digs inspires me to rearrange and redo.

Still cleaning out things. The only problem is it looks like nothing has changed.  Many of my weedings and sortings are inside cabinets and bins, or in corners that had somehow stuffed themselves with things and stuff!  This week I got rid of the dying exercise bike and cleaned out the old computer armoir (how DO you spell that word?) and made a sewing center in it. It works nicely and tucks away without a mess. I also put a chair in front of my cubey cabinet in the kitchen and cleaned. Without changing the looks of it at all, I filled a whole trash bag! It is amazing how papers pile up and seemingly important things lose their value over time. The thing about cube shelves is having enough matching containers to hide the stuff!

We got a lovely blizzard last night-I got up early and shoveled my way out of the driveway to go to work. I was about 1 foot from the street when my brother Jim came out and said if I waited a while, he'd plow it. Too late-I wanted to get my hours in at work, as I won't get paid while I recover from my knee surgery (Jan 10). I was the only one in the whole building for the first hour. I'm sure it is haunted! That old heating system with its clanking pipes and water dripping sounds...! I work in my old grammar school building, which now contains our Town Offices and Senior Center. I work in the office of the Senior Center part time. A nice little job to supplement my meager retirement.

Craft Fair Rant:  This year I sold my collages and photography at 4 different craft fairs. I had nice matted photo prints, framed photos, and greeting cards. I made a new line of cheeky victorian collages, called "Slightly Twisted," which I scanned and made note cards and gift tags. I used them and my photos to make theme banners. I made nifty bookmarks from the spines of the books I altered to make my collages. I covered little composition books with collage themes. People loved my collages. Many laughed out loud and bought a card or two. If the photos struck a cord with them they looked for a card to buy. I sold many $3.00 cards, some gift tags, a couple of original collages and 3 matted prints in four fairs! I packed my car, set up and took down everything by myself. I had fun with the other crafters and bartered for some nice Christmas presents. So what is wrong with this picture? Well, I spent 2-3 times what I took in on materials. Kind of depressing!

I guess the whole rant really is to say I loved doing those little inexpensive gifty things, but should I continue? I've dreamed for years of having an Etsy store. Just got to take the first step, I guess!

I am trying to look at my art in a brand new way. I hope to be able to make more sincere art-starting with large canvases, painting, texturing and incorporating collage elements to tell a story... I am ready to start my first one and I'm pretty excited about the process. I will keep you posted. Meanwhile I am exposing you to my Slightly Twisted collages.

Have you heard about the Grow Your Blog Party at 2 Bags Full? Check it out here. We hope to meet lots of other bloggers and make many new friends. A great way to expand our blogs. Join us if you can!

I hope you can look at things in a "different way" now and then, too--

Refresh your life!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Different Me

Hi All,

For some reason, this title seems appropriate. I have been concentrating on my health, issues with weight loss, arthritis, bad knee. I have also been at a new job, lots of pet sitting away from home, considering moving in with Mom, etc.

It's almost Christmas, and I long to entertain. But I have come to the conclusion that I am a bad, bad, bad! hoarder. I can't get my house cleaned up enough to have a holiday or a studio open house. I look at pinterest pictures of lovely holiday decorating and drool, but not this year, not here

It was neat once...
I can't seem to get rid of things, which I have to do in a MaJoR wAy! I have been really thinking and rethinking the move to Mom's next Spring-I will have two main rooms. One will serve as bed, kitchen, craft studio, and the other a nice living room/office. 

What to get rid of?
As is my way, I have started to obsess about how I will live there. How to arrange which furniture? How much kitchen do I need if I can use Mom's too? Do I need ALL that craft stuff? How can I make it neat?  Those thoughts keep me up at night and I plan and replan. Every time I go over there, that big room gets smaller. I really need to measure it out and plan accordingly.

Most of us find our clutter growing and growing. Many manage it on a regular basis. The clutter management cells in my brain seem to have shut down and I've become overwhelmed, but I'm not yet ready for the TV show, Please!!!

The former screenporch
In September I had a tag sale in my old screenporch, which is now my warehouse. I made $300, but it doesn't look like a dent out of the whole. Where I live, it is hard to get people to stop and buy. If my brother hadn't set up an outside area with lots of car parts, motorcycles, musical instruments and electronics, I probably would have had half the traffic.

My craft room in better days...
I have a plan, though. A girl's gotta have a plan!  This winter, including about 6 weeks of recovery time for knee surgery, I hope to go through and box everything I can for keeping and for selling. What I don't want to bring with me goes to an auction house. Yes. I want out! I have emotional issues surrounding my stuff. I keep ... well you know. All I have to do is make two choices: keep, sell. Someone else handles the selling and it all goes at once! Good plan? I hope so!

But you should (NOT) see it now!
Sorry I have been a bad blogger lately, but I feel like a transitional time has come over me. I need to change and grow my art into something bigger (literally) and more original. I have a lot of ideas, but not the motivation or the space (I know) to carry it out. The clutter is not only in my house, but also my brain!  I am trying to straighten out so many things at the same time, and I realize that remaking everything all at once might be a bit much, but it is also a different path which is exciting to explore!

I will be back with an update soon, along with new ideas as they come up. I hope to make this blog a creative outlet for myself and for you. I have gained sooo much from visiting your lovely sites over the years. You are the art community I have longed for. You are my inspiration!

Me in better days

Thanks for helping me be a DiFfeReNt Me!


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Happy/Sad Day

This morning, I had a good laugh reading my friend Joani's blog, "My Second Wind". She tells how she took a sad situation and started goofy new family traditions with her grandkids. I started thinking about my little French Grandma, who died in the 1970's. Grandma was cute and funny and often the instigator of big messy food fights at the picnic table. I can see it like yesterday, her filling a plastic spoon with yellow mustard and shooting it at my uncle. He of course escalated the affair into a full blown fiasco involving all of us, while Grandpa grouchily hollered, "Stop! Food is sacred!" Whereas we found grandma leaning against a tree laughing so hard she was peeing her pants. As kids we were a little scared of Grandpa, but Grandma always found ways to break the tension and make everything fun.

My little Grandma
Now, understanding the family dynamics, his alcohol addiction and all the issues that lead up to that time, I see Grandma, the sweet positive influence of our lives, as somewhat of a saint. Her three children often got the brunt of his abuse, but her fun-loving nature got them through their childhoods with strength and humor. Grandpa lived on for another 20 years, a time that was healing for my Mom and him, something I didn't foresee.

Their wedding day, 1926ish
Back to the present...Two weeks ago my baby brother, Dave, got married. He met his beautiful wife, Clarita, while participating in Native American ceremonies in Florida. She is from Argenina, living in Florida with her 6 year old son. Their wedding was in the ceremonial tepee that Dave made a few years ago. Friends came from Florida, Colorado, Canada, and Vermont to his little cabin on a hill in Western Mass.

A beautiful day!

Tepee on right with its bottom raised for the breezes. 36' diameter
They had an overnight ceremony two days before with all their friends who participate, then they invited all of us to the wedding in the tepee. The wedding ceremony combined traditions of North and South America. Tibetan prayer flags and wind chimes flew from the tepee. It was very beautiful and sweet. They asked me to take pictures, and I got almost 400 great shots of all the action.

Fire ring and altar as wedding begins

Hands tied together
I have enjoyed getting to know this wonderful woman who is my new sister. Her son is adorable and loves Dave. Dave is so happy to have a new family and a new life. Today is the day they are driving away to Florida. He will pack light and leave a lot behind for another trip, but he can't go without his cactus! Last night Jim had to go up and help him get the cactus in the car. (There are several of them and they are BIG!)

She sang him a beautiful song in Spanish
 A little sniffle or two!

After lighting the fire
I wasn't sad about the move till Mom mentioned it with a quiver to her voice. Now I'm remembering that little kid who I had to babysit for. Holding his big warty hands as we crossed the street, taking him to the county fair. He cried all the time and had terrible tantrums. He was skinny in a chubby family, circles around his eyes and his tummy distended. No one knew what was wrong with him, till as a preteen, he ended up in the hospital with terrible allergy symptoms. After learning what to avoid and how to take care of himself, he lived much more healthily. He became a strong man, whose big square hands do the most remarkable artistic carpentry. He has done pottery and art fabrication and installations, he has designed and executed beautiful kitchens and bathrooms in fabulous houses. He can look at something, then draw it in great detail from memory. He is what I call a renaissance man-anything he attempts he completes with beauty and grace.

The blanket ceremony

It was 90 degrees that day!
As the youngest child, Dave has his annoying little habits-but we will all miss him in our own ways now that he is moving away! Mom is used to having all her chicks under her wing since I moved back from my 20 years in Colorado. She will have to make the biggest adjustment. I think I'd better get her set-up with internet, so they can skype.

So today is happy/sad. But what it portends is hope for the future! We can make the most of each day or let life defeat us. The choice is ours. This I believe.

Best wishes for Dave, Clarita and Benjamin!


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Texture Tuesday

Hi Folks,
Just playing with Kim Klaussen's latest texture for Texture Tuesday. I have been saving these textures and not doing anything, so I wanted to give it a try.

I happened upon these pink poppies in a friend's garden. They were so beautiful, I just had to take tons of pictures of them. These are just a couple.

I really love the intensity of the natural picture,

 but I also think the softened one is sweet.

Or maybe a bit over done! I think I need more practice with layering and light.

And a couple more in natural mode...

Which do you like best?


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Loopy for Lupines

Hi all,
I ran into my old friend Cass today-it's been years since I've seen her. Met her new husband-I didn't know she had a new life! I've been thinking about her all day. It is so nice when people pop back into your life.

Hummer in my garden
Overwhelmed by computer work and petsitting duties, I decided to take a drive to Pudding Hollow and look for the fields of lupines I'd heard about. It was overcast, but bright, and I thought it would be a great day for taking pictures. Pudding Hollow is the name of a tiny old settlement on the edge of Hawley State Forest.

As I followed route 8A north of Plainfield, I noticed that the little brook beside the road was all bulldozed and the banks lined with new-looking rocks, new guard rails and patches of new pavement on the road. There were lots of dead trees and boulders along the bank. This little stream had turned into a raging monster during Hurricane Irene last August. Another stream, tinier yet, had a boulder bigger than a car balanced in it, along with dead trees. Amazing, the force of water!

Can you see that tiny trickle?
I crossed a new bridge, went past Middle Road and drove up the hill to Pudding Hollow. There is an old meeting house and a town building of sorts. The road goes up the side of a very steep hill with beautiful old homes on either side. Beautiful homes, beautiful gardens, beautiful view! But no fields of lupines.
On Forge Hill Rd.
Eventually the road turns to dirt and diminishes to a one-lane trail overlooking a gully on one side. I never ventured up it before, but as I have a Subaru now, I thought I'd give it a try. Surely there were no lupine meadows up here, but maybe I'd find myself on one of the state forest roads. Then it started down, steep, winding and pitted, around a hairpin turn, a lovely house! Then pavement. More houses and suddenly, fields of LUPINES! It was heaven, I stopped and took pictures-50 or 60 of them. I won't show you all of them, though.

After getting my fill of lupines, I found myself back on the new bridge via Middle Road. I had made a big loop in my quest for lupines-looping for lupines! I remember taking Mom and Trisha and her mom, Helen, on Middle Road one time and wanting to take that steep hairpin dirt road. That old car with 4 of us in it never would have made it, and Helen was going to cry if I did it. I turned around and always wondered where it went...

Then I stopped at Plainfield Pond for pictures of the Mountain Laurel on the other side of the lake.

I'd live in this cabin by the lake!

So pretty!  Later today I drove by a small roadside swamp and found this sweet family of Canadian geese.

In the last few days I've spotted a moose, a cooper's hawk, a scarlet tanager & rose breasted grosbeak, many deer, one wild turkey and 6 turkey buzzards. I love living in the country...

Got too excited to focus!
Finally, summer in New England! Just driving around gives me a thrill. The weeds and wildflowers on the side of the road are lush and glorious. The smell of the tiny white wild roses permeates the air--around the next bend someone is haying, and that smells even more heavenly!

Side of the road
One year for a craft fair I made potpourri and pillow stuffing I called "side of the road" - lavender, pine needles, hay, tansy and sweet fern were some of the ingredients. Tansy and sweet fern have scents reminiscent of sagebrush, strong and resiny. Can't resist!

A gentle stream

Confucius said
Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

Happy trails!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Rhapsodising in Bloom

Hi All,

I'm so excited-I just won "Doodling in French" by Anna Corba from the blog! I've always admired the art of Anna Corba, her clean and simple style. I can't wait to see what is in her new book! Check out the blog. There is much to see there, and new ideas almost every day.

We had some hot humid weather over the holiday weekend, which turned dry and gorgeous most of the week, interspersed with rainstorms. Ideal weather, I think. I love cool breezy evenings on the porch. Summer is not here officially, but it seems to be. I have been wandering back and forth in my sparse gardens, mostly containers, looking at the progress there. Perennials have all come back to life and there are buds and blooms all over the place. I have finally had some luck with my clematis (!) after years of trying. I have lots of blooms on both of them!  Not the gorgeous full vines that a neighbor has wrapped around her mailbox, but blooms, nevertheless! Oops, no pictures yet! But here is my huechera:

This week I got the pleasure of pet sitting at one of my favorite places with the prettiest gardens. I love this place. It has a view to die for and two lovely Australian shepherds. Did I mention the gym, the pool, the greenhouse, the vegetable garden, the raspberry patch...we should all be so lucky!


Her flowers beckoned me as the sun was going down. This little corner garden has always thrilled me in the late afternoon. The sun sets early here, as there is a woodsy hill to the west. The light reflects off the garage and stone walls, flowers scent the screened porch...

I don't know what this is but I love it!

Right now, I'm sitting here under the influence of peonies. Their heady scent has inspired this post. I planted this peony about 4 years ago expecting that sweet soft light pink...what I got was this amazing luscious magenta! This year, I finally have enough blossoms to pick a few. I added some clippings from my pink willow for contrast. (The willow is really a lovely pink, mottled with green)

Ooh, flash not working-yucky color!
I am going through an especially busy time right now, and am missing you all. I have lots of artistic ideas in my head and no time to do them yet. I recently spent an evening watching an old mini-series on Netflix and I deconstructed several old Readers Digest condensed books. Their covers are so pretty, I am thinking of using them for a new line of something...even the spines will be used. And I want to try antiquing the coverless pages into book bundles. Karen Valentine of My Desert Cottage gives a tutorial here-looks like fun! Karen has a wonderful blog-check her out!  Hopefully I can get my hands into the mod podge and have some artistic fun soon. Meanwhile...

Another bad photo, but you get the idea!

I hope you are all enjoying warm weather and blooms!

Joyous June!