Saturday, November 28, 2015

Gallery of Photos: Looking Back at November

For me, November is wind rustling ... leaves skittering ... plus beautiful low-angled light giving the day a perpetual three-o'clock-in-the-afternoon feel ... as well as what seems an increase in light now that the trees have dropped their leaves and the sun can pour through bare branches.  Of course, it's also the transition into winter when we hunker down for three months.

Tiny house

Canada geese

Heirloom apples


Cranberries at a local farm stand

Our weekly farmers' market has now moved indoors for the winter.

Many thanks, K.!  Your first time doing the Thanksgiving turkey and it was mighty tasty!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Remembering Those Goofy, Corny Days

It all started when I looked out the window a few weeks ago and said to myself, "It's going to be chilly today."  At which an image of my mother instantly popped into my head along with her amused little saying, "It'll be chile today and hot tamale."  I mean, even as I write that, it makes me laugh.  Yes, corny, but it so reminds me of my mother, I don't care.

Then I remembered my father liked "If we had some ham, we could have some ham and eggs, if we had some eggs."  A popular saying of that day.  No one says that anymore.

It got me to thinking about how that sweet, silly, sappy, old fashioned humor has gone the way ... things that we just came up with ourselves.  Now if we want to laugh, we tune in to some program.  Of course, programs have been around a long time:  Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Jack Benny on the radio in my day.  But it seems that now, rather than just being nutty and goofy, humor has become mean-spirited, or else it's ironic or sarcastic. Or Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey tosses off what are called "zingers" as impromptu wit, but, still, this isn't the humor I remember.

Of course, a lot of it is style, and corny jokes aren't Maggie Smith's style.  They were my parents' style, though ... and, as I say, part of the style of that time.

My father briefly tried his hand at being a cartoonist and used 3 x 5 cards to record the family's cute sayings that he wanted to illustrate.  I still have those cards and find, now, how really innocent our humor was.

*Distracted father:  Our money goes so fast these days we don't even get a chance to spend it.

*Woman:  For years I've been catering to my stomach.  Now, I'm going to think about my'sylph!

*Definition of a cat washing itself:  A little spit and paw-lish.

*Child:  We're studying insects at school and now I've got the bug.

*Kids going to bed, say to parents:  Please be quiet, we want to talk.

*Young mother:  Well, after all, I gave up swearing to be a good influence on the children.  If they're going to take it up, so am I.

Well, all that may have gone out of style today, but I'm glad my parents had their goofy moments, especially considering what their generation had to take on!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Listening: Letting Each Morning Tell Me What It Wants to Say

A cup of tea and a quiet chair.  That's all it really takes.  No music, no radio, no TV, no computer.  Just a few first-thing-in-the-morning moments to sit and transition into the day.  Or, if one is fortunate enough to live near the water, a good early morning walk on the beach is splendid.  Or along a mountain trail.  I'm not talking about now and again, I'm talking regularly! 

I often think that it's totally necessary to spend some quiet time with myself ... to sit down and be silent. Or, to put it another way, to simply BE. If I'm to receive easy thoughts--or answers to any questions, for that matter--I need to be in a quiet environment.  Though, yes, they can arrive in the middle of washing the dishes.  Or taking a bath.  Or driving down our main street.

So, I live a quiet life partly to be receptive to whatever might come and partly because I simply prefer a life of peace.  No sounds except maybe a light configuring of traffic out on the main road.  The humming of the refrigerator.  Maybe a neighbor down the hill mowing his lawn.  I don't even put on Bach and Vivaldi as often as I used to.  Though I do enjoy tuning in to Krishna Das on Pandora sometimes when I'm making supper.

But if our minds are so obliterated with noise, with external music, with motors and beeps... how can we truly listen to the silence?  I particularly love going out on a sunny afternoon--usually, late afternoon--and just being in my garden.  With its woods, its grass, its rock walls and chipmunks, its tall white pines and herb garden.  Just to be there and take it in.  Then later ideas come to me.  Things I might write about or paint. (Or put into this blog.)   Places I want to go.  But it's the silence that captures me.  No one is around, no traffic (I'm on a dead-end street), no disturbances.

Of course, my uphill neighbor's dog does its share of barking which can drive me to distraction--sorry, but I have zero tolerance for a dog with an annoying bark--but it's what Zen might call "an awareness."  Zen would call the dog my teacher ... its barking something to set aside.  And the setting aside is something that I need to practice along with "don't know mind" as one teacher described it.  Staying neutral.  Not getting involved with others' dramas.  Taking deep breaths.

Loud music in restaurants is also problematic.  And "music" where I go fill up my gas tank.  Or at the dentist's, the butcher's, baker's, or candlestick maker's.  Just let us be, I want to say.  Just let us be.  We need only the sound of the wind in the grasses, the clouds covering the moon, the waves breaking on the beach, the words of a cheery hello.  And children, especially, need this.  Get rid of the television!  Let them be, let them understand the glories of quietude!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Painting With Six Colors

From lower right, going clockwise:

Cadmium Lemon
Cadmium Yellow Medium
Cadmium Red Medium
Quinacridone Rose
Ultramarine Blue
Cerulean Blue

People kept asking me, "Are you painting?" and I would reply, "No.  Not at the moment."  To which they'd say, "That's what you said last time I asked."  True.  For some reason, I stopped painting.  Well, yes, it began a few years back when I got a frozen shoulder and couldn't move my right arm very well.  Then I had the inspiration to turn some of my already-finished paintings into note cards.  That wasn't as successful as I hoped.  When a fire in town closed the last shop that showed an interest in carrying them, I decided to switch to photography ... especially for this blog.  Fun.  But, still, it's not painting.

I've heard of writer's block but not painter's block.  I couldn't seem to get myself INTO it!  I re-arranged my art room (twice).  I bought a couple of beautiful Afghani carpets to put in it to inspire me.  I sorted through my paints, my portfolios, tossed out old work, but I still couldn't get going.  Then, this autumn I decided to take an art class so I'd be forced to paint ... so chose a still life class in watercolor.  I love watercolor.  And still life was fine with me--it lets you stay indoors--no hauling equipment outside, no shifting of light and shadow, no potential rain, no bugs, no sunscreen, or (conversely) painting with mittens as I once did in Scotland.

So I signed up largely for the discipline of having to show up each week and produce something ... but, of course, the instruction and critiques are always valuable.

Though I took my paint box with me early on (and dipped into it now and again), it turned out the teacher provided the paints, wanting us to try out using only the six listed above (Da Vinci brand).  In fact, they produce all the colors you need.  A good grey comes by combining complementary colors. As for greens, oranges, purples, browns, just dip in and work your own mixing magic.  Black can be a bit iffy but try mixing the three primary colors together.  (I do like the six-color approach and want to continue working with it but need to say that though all the photos here are a result of the class, the apple with green leaves was augmented with a few colors from my paint box.)

So it's all great fun.  And I'm reviewing complementary colors, split complements, analogous colors.  Color bouncing from an object to its near neighbor.  Plus the wet-on-wet technique.
The colors I mixed for one particular painting.

The teacher set out a selection of autumn props from which we could choose our subjects.  Apples, leaves, peppers, miniature pumpkins, squashes, plums, pears, onions ...

A quick study in complements:  yellows and purple

A little purple in the apple, a little red in the pepper dropped in when still wet

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