An Homage

Those of you who have been following me for a long time may remember a post that I wrote on my former, blogspot blog. The post was entitled “Pockets of Joy” (click to read it). It was a sad post, and a happy post – A post in mourning of my dear dog Shag (aka The Shagster) who had recently died.

Now, around a year after the anniversary of his death, I painted his portrait. It was therapeutic and a celebration of the best dog ever. I present to you, The Shagster:

"The Shagster" Oil on linen

“The Shagster” Oil on linen

April Fool’s Tradition

My cousin Chloee (really she’s more like an aunt to me) started a tradition years ago. She spends all year searching for a recipe with a crazy, unexpected ingredient. Then, she bakes up these unusual goodies and sends them out to family members, always timing it so that they arrive on April Fool’s Day, and challenges us to guess the secret ingredient. IMG_1222

These are not mean April Fool’s pranks… oh no! These are delightful. They’re always delicious, despite (or because of?) ingredients that may not otherwise seem very appetizing. Pinto beans in your muffins? Velveeta in your brownies? Rose petals in your cookies? Hey, don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.

 

So, this year when I received my April Fool’s treats, I couldn’t wait to open the box. Tiny muffins awaited me. I looked carefully. Hmm… green slivers. I sniffed. A hint of citrus. I took a tiny nibble and held it on my tongue. IMG_1223

Nutmeg, maybe…not too surprising. What else? Pecans? That’s not unusual either. Orange peel. Delicious, but not weird enough. What was that green? Zucchini? Not broccoli… chives maybe? Wheatgrass. Finally I settled on chives. There was a slightly herbal taste. I peeled back the label on the back of Chloee’s note, beneath which she had hidden the answer. Asparagus!? I don’t even like asparagus. But I like these muffins! Just goes to show, you never can tell.

IMG_1227

What I love about this tradition isn’t just the fun of it, or the craziness of it, or the effort Chloee puts into finding recipes and making sure they get here on just the right day. It’s the attention it requires on my part. It’s permission to take my time and notice every subtle detail of my food from the smell to the texture to the nuances of flavor. It’s the reminder to savor and enjoy.

It’s all about balance… well, mostly

ImageArt is a pretty sedentary activity. Luckily my other love is exercise of many different forms. One of my favorites- yoga. Often times during the relaxation period at the end of class when my thoughts are flowing gently ideas are formed, solutions uncovered, connections made. This morning, however, my revelation came during a balance pose. Having a revelation during a balance pose, by the way, can make you topple, so I gently tucked in the back of my brain to ponder over later. Now is later.

Imagine this: You’re trying a pose that seems unfamiliar, unnatural- say, for example, something on one foot (or in this case, on your head). You wobble, you teeter. Then what do you do? You laugh self-consciously or panic, you scrunch up, you shrink in, you become smaller. Do that, however, and you most assuredly will fall. However, if you keep your poise, lift up, expand with control, stretch out and grow you have a much better chance at success.

It seems to me that the same thing happens when we meet challenges or unfamiliar territory (or even just awkward situations) in life. If we become self-conscious, fearful of failure, insecure, and shrink into our small, seemingly safe little box, we most assuredly lose our balance. Instead, expand with control (“with control” being the optimum phrase here). Stretch. Be strong and test your limits. You still may fall, but I can almost guarantee it will be with more grace. And if you don’t fall? Congrats.

I’m not writing this from a position of authority. I’m really writing this TO myself. This is my challenge for myself in the upcoming year- to live expansively, generously, openly, un-self-consciously, without fear and shrinking… and if I fall, to fall with grace, then get back up and try again.

My Virtuous Vice

I have a vice. It’s probably one a lot of you share. Like many vices, it’s hard to resist. It’s not normally seen as a vice. In fact, in this culture of more more more, it’s typically viewed as virtuous.

Multi-tasking

The following is a true story, and typical:

I put on moisturizer in the morning. While waiting for the moisturizer to soak in, I begin brushing my teeth. When I reach for the toothpaste I notice a cup on the bathroom counter than needs to go in the dishwasher, so toothbrush in mouth, cup in hand, I head to the kitchen. When I get there I realize the dishwasher needs to be unloaded, so one-handed (I’m still brushing my teeth with the other hand) I begin unloading the dishwasher. Teeth brushed, dishwasher half-unloaded, I return to the bathroom to rinse my mouth and put away my toothbrush. While there, I realize I never finished applying my make-up. Powder on, mascara out, I realize I never finished unloading the dishwasher. Mascara applied quickly, I return to the kitchen where I find my husband, unaware that the dishwasher was half-unloaded (because really, why should it be??) putting dirty dishes in the with the clean. Amidst all of this there is also some toddler juggling going on. This. Should. Not. Happen.

IMG_0524

So, in a quest for sanity, peace of mind, and just all-around efficacy, I’m trying to rid myself of my multi-tasking ways AND as I’m going to tell you all about it (Didn’t you know I would?).

Scary Diversion

In our house October is scary movie month. Almost every night for the entire month (after the little one has retired, of course) my husband and I watch a scary movie, or at least a scary t.v. show. We run the gamut from campy silly to scary horror.

I know this is an art blog and way off subject, but I thought you might want to put down the paintbrush and grab some candy corn and join me. Here’s what we’ve watched so far and my rating, in case you’re interested. Ratings are shown with * on a 5 point scale (I hardly ever give anything 5 stars, so 4 is really good).

IMG_0430

By the way, who decided this looked like corn?

Cabin in the Woods: Fun movie. Kinda scary, fairly gory, very witty- a different view on the whole “scary movie formula” (you know- the dumb blonde, the athlete, the good girl, the goofy friend, the smart one, etc.) A Joss Whedon creation…he pretty much does no wrong, so his movies and show are always a good bet. ****

The Awakening: Really good. It has that quiet, creepy style of The Others. Not gory. Scary while you’re watching it, but it doesn’t leave you feeling afraid to turn out the light. ****

Hellraiser: Terrible. Supposedly a classic, but the acting was distractingly bad (I know that’s a campy scary movie requirement, but this one wasn’t even trying to be campy). *

Ghostbusters: What can I even say? It’s Ghostbusters! ***.5

I Sell the Dead: Witty, campy gory, fun to watch. Dominic Monaghan (you know, Charlie from Lost, Meri  from Lord of the the Rings) stars. ****

Intruders: Really really good. Another one that keeps you feeling creeped out while you’re watching it, but doesn’t leave you terrified. ****

Clue: I forgot how fun this movie is. Just quirky enough to watch with a group of quirky friends who don’t like actually scary movies. ***.5

Trick or Treat: Favorite Halloween movie. A comic book style movie involving several intersecting plot lines. Kinda scary, but not nightmare inducing scary. Good scary fun. *****

As for scary t.v. shows, we’ve been watching an anime cartoon called, Blood. We haven’t watched much of it, so I can’t rate it, but I like it so far.

Enjoy!

Onions and Organization

I did it again. I forgot I have to paint. I don’t mean I forgot I have work to do or I forgot I have a deadline. I mean I forgot I HAVE to paint.

At first I didn’t realize what the problem was. “I’m scattered,” I’d say, “What’s wrong with me? I keep forgetting things.” Enter the dreaded, stereotypical “flaky artist.” After the second missed appointment, third panicked car key search, fourth forgotten errand, and tenth stress headache, I realized- I haven’t been painting. We’ve been in and out of town and I don’t have any looming deadlines for which I feel ill-prepared, so I’ve allowed other things to get in the way. Mistake. It’s not a job with paid vacation. It’s who I am. It’s how I organize my thoughts. The world is full of so many things to look at and so much stimulation that if I don’t have that out-flow I guess my brain sort of overloads and shuts down.

IMG_0297

So today, noticing the pinks, greens, and yellows harmonizing on an onion skin, I put down the dish towel I was using and picked up my paintbrush. Upon finishing my little painting in a much calmer state of mind I paid an almost forgotten bill and prepared my daughter’s bag for her first day of mother’s day out. Relief. (Somewhat) organized me is back.