Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"Come on, everybody! MOOOOOOOOooooo with me!

"Only thing to do
Only think to do is jump
Only thing to do is jump Over the moon
Only thing to do is jump Over the moon
Over the moon
Over the ..."

And now you're asking yourself, what is that woman talking about!?

It's a song that the character Maureen sings in Rent. And I got my Moo cards, so I started moo-ing of course, which made me think of this song and.... now I'm gonna have to go put on the CD. But never mind, just take a look at what came in the mail today. Aren't they pretty!?

These things are tiny. About as long as my pointer finger and just a smidgen wider. They have a matte finish that would be fun to play with and add color or stamps or lettering or glitter. I'd heard about moo cards on other blogs and when I signed up for a flickr account, I got a free 10-pack (they sent doubles of three of the images) to try them out. I had to work with the photos I already had uploaded, but that's okay. If I liked them, I planned on ordering more anyway.

Well, I DO like them. I do, I do, I do!

Monday, February 25, 2008

I received two fantastic OWOH prizes in the mail yesterday.

The first was this stunning collection of photo art from Marie of Lost Aussie Designs. I tried to pick a favorite and couldn't. The best I could do was narrow it down to two that were lovely and three that were all my favorites (the tree, the birds, and the faded angel, since I know if I were you I'd be thinking "Which three!?") You can see them all, and other great images, in different posts on her blog.

Thank you Marie - I know some of these will end up framed in my home and the others will probably enjoy a spot on my bulletin board until I find the perfect use for them or the perfect person to gift them to. (Dang, how do you write that sentence so it doesn't end in a preposition?)

Next, I received a fun "keep in the car and consume in tiny bites while waiting for William to get his books out his locker or Jeff to run into the bank or Shelly to show up for our dinner date" type book by Jeanne Chambers of Life in the Along called Life is Too Short to be Ordinary.

Here's a picture of it... uhm.....

.... Rosie, what are you doing? I'm trying to take a photo....

Okay. Well, I see it's also a handy book to use as a chihuahua pillow.

Useful sans furry little companion as well, I've already dipped into the pages and found a chuckle or two. Thank you Jeanne!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I'm putting up the last of the photos from York today, both here and over on Beach Treasure. I've got to hurry up if I'm going to finish up one European holiday before I leave on the next one. (I never ever in my life thought that I would hear myself utter a comment like that! It just goes to show you never know what unexpected twists and turns your path will take!)

A growly sort of fellow

Wow, my flash on my camera is really powerful! Ha ha - not. They have spotlights on the York Minster at night.

Ruins of St. Mary's Abbey. I wonder what sort of flowering tree that is - it reminds me of the flowers on a California Buckeye - although I doubt if that's what it is. For one thing it's on a different continent entirely (is England considered part of the continent? I guess it wouldn't be, would it. It is it's own self, an island, yes?) For another thing, I've never seen a Buckeye grow that tall - although England is a lot rainier than California.

Another section of the ruins.

Another view of the York Minster

If I recall corrrectly, this little nest was tucked into a window slit of the circular stair well up to the top of the Minster. It was in some stair well in any case.

Doesn't it look like he could just leap off the building and fly away at any minute? Maybe, under the cloak of night, he really does.

A Greenman.

Don't forget to click over to Beach Treasure now to see more York scenery and shenanigans.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

No, I didn't deal with my photo uploading problems. I just got a box of memory cards I ordered delivered in the mail today. Six 1GB SD cards. Why do I need six 1GB you ask? Well, because, I'm going on vacation soon and I want to take lots and lots and lots of photos. Where am I going? I'll give you a clue or two. I'm going to visit two cities - the name of one city rhymes with Laris, the name of the other city rhymes with Pondon. Can you guess? If you give up, you can click on over to Beach Treasure and read the post I put up a couple of days ago.

So, I bought all these SD cards and now I have to try them out and make sure they work properly. And I still have to deal with my photo uploading problems, by uploading and copying all the photos now currently stored on all my other SD cards, so I can bring all those SD cards with me too and take bazillions and bazillions of photos. When I'm in Pondon and Laris.

But today I didn't go any further than the supermarket on the edge of town, where I took photos of these wonderful dusty pink and lavender roses.

I liked these roses too, with the color all sealed up inside the rose until the petals unfold. Plus, I liked the little splash of green in the corner.

Now that I'm armed (with a camera) and loaded (with SD cards) and dangerous (I've got a flash and I'm not afraid to use it!), I can catch up on photographing a lot of new treasures I've been anxious to show you. I haven't had time for making any new art lately, but I have brought home some great new finds.

Psssst - Deirdre - what do you think your new photo program could do with these roses?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I won a prize from Peggy of Peggy's Mixed Up Art! blog in her OWOH giveway. It arrived in today's mail. It's a wee box, about 2-1/2" square. Isn't it cute!?

I love how the little girl has her hand on her hip and a very bossy look on her face. It's rather... cough, cough..... ME. And red too. One of my fave colors.

I opened the box to find this adorable polka dot tissue paper - I'm saving it. I'm sure I can find a use for it in my own collage work - just as soon as I can find time to clear a work space and DO some collage work.

And when I opened up the tissue paper, there was a tiny heart charm. I really like the way it's pulsing - radiating - aura glowing - however you want to describe the little rays surrounding it. It reminds me of Mexican milagros.

For the last six weeks or so I've been wearing a tiny snowman charm on a chain around my neck. I think it worked "like a charm" as we had a VERY snowy January. We're finally melting away some of that white, cold, icy stuff and getting some above freezing temps, and now that I've finally started to believe winter was fading, we've got a week's worth of snow in the weather forecast - ARGH! NO! I'm done with winter, please. I think it's definitely time to switch necklaces - I'm going to put this little heart on tomorrow.

Thanks again, Peggy, my gift is VERY MOI - I love it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Today is the day for all the participants to announce the winners of their One World - One Heart giveway prizes. I had these three little hearts to giveaway so I needed to pick three names.

Some people picked their winners by using this random number generator. I took a look at it but then decided "nawwww", where's the fun in that? So I used a different random number generator. Here's a photo of mine -

I ask you, what could possibly generate more randomness than a teenager!? Well, okay, maybe a toddler. But still, a teen is pretty high up there on the random meter. I called William on his cell phone (I mean, what self respecting teen would be at home when you needed them?) and said "Do me a favor. Pick three numbers between, and including, 1 through 83." And he did. Didn't even ask why. 'Cause he's my kid and so he's used to his mother's odd requests and strange behavior.

I've already notified my three winners by e-mail. Congratulations to Angelika of Toscania-Art-Life, Heather of Bumblebird, and Enzie of World Market Portraits. I only wish I could clone myself, and my little hearts, so I'd have enough hearts, time, and postage to send one to each and every one of my visitors. In a perfect world, eh?

This was a lot of fun, visiting everyone else's blogs, looking forward to a mailbox full of visits from other bloggers. I'm already thinking ahead to next year - I can only assume that such a great event will be an annual phenomenon. Hopefully, next year I'll have more time to plan and I can put up my post earlier. In the meantime, I hope I'll be able to continue to visit some of the great new bloggers I've met in the last week. And those folks that visited me, please, remember, come on back round anytime. Day or night, I'm always up late. Okay, maybe not anytime near sunrise, give or take a couple hours. But anytime else, yeah, don't be a stranger!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I have finally caught up with visiting all the participants in the One World - One Heart blogger's party. And what a party it has been! Of course it's fun to enter the giveaways and fantasize about winning one of the many lovely prizes being offered. But even if I don't win a single prize, I already feel like a winner for having met so many new and wonderful bloggers. Now, if only I can find the time to return and visit some of them again. So many new friends, so little time!

It's been a whirlwind and as much fun as I've had, it's nice to come home, kick off my shoes, and relax for a bit. I feel like took off for the party at a moment's notice, leaving behind a messy house, unfinished projects, and errands to check off my To Do list. It's time to get back to my real life and get some things done.

Yet, it turned out to be time well spent.

I've spent the last 3-4 nights on the computer visiting other bloggers, almost every single one sharing their creative side, and at first I felt sort of guilty taking so much time online. Until yesterday when, I realizes that along with meeting fun new people, the blog surfing was helpful in another, unexpected way.

I tried to be selective in the giveaways I participated in. If I visited a blog but didn't comment for a chance to win their prize, it wasn't because it wasn't a thoughtful prize or because I didn't like it. It was simply because I don't have pierced ears or because I didn't know where I'd display something or because I felt guilty thinking of some international blogger having to mail something heavy to me.... any number of reasons. I figured that it was better to leave some art pieces to those participants who would truly love a piece than to just willy nilly enter all the chances. Those giveaways I did enter, I know I'd truly cherish if I was lucky enough to win.

The process of making those decisions - enter this giveway?, don't enter this giveaway? - helped me to sift through all the dozens, nay HUNDREDS, of creative mediums and genres vying for my attention, and find those that consistently make my heart thump wildly.

I read a book last year by author Eric Maisel called Deep Writing. It focused on helping writers but the idea of "deep writing" could easily apply to artists and the process of "deep creating". The theme of the book was this - that anyone can write/create. It takes time and effort and space and energy to do so. Why use all our resources, why settle for "just" writing/creating. Why not give it some thought first and choose only those projects that reach deep down inside of you and engage your soul, your heart?

It's so easy to get distracted by what other artists do, what the latest trend/genre is, what we think others will like, what we think is acceptable or saleable art. And we spend our time making/writing things we think we should make/write, that we think others will approve of or find worthy of our time. The truth is, only WE know what is worthy of our time and effort.

I had a similar, smaller epiphany a few years back about my quilting. I have the absolutely delightful pleasure of hanging with a large number of creative textile artists and quilters, many who enter competitions and deservedly win many accolades for their work. I knew that I had it in me to match any of these amazing artists, work for work, and yet I wasn't doing so. It wasn't about being capable of doing it, it was that I wasn't doing it, and no one was making that choice but me.

Instead I was busy making comfort quilts for friends and family. Time passed and brick by brick I began building a wall of guilt that I wasn't using my talents the way I SHOULD be using them. Until one day, a thought broke through and I suddenly realized that I was in fact accountable to no one but myself. I'd been complaining about not doing this or that and my friends, trying to be helpful, encouraged me to find the time, make the time. Of course this only made me feel more guilty because I knew even if I hadn't admitted it to myself yet, that nothing was truly standing in my way except a choice I'd made without knowing I'd made. I'd gotten caught up in the enthusiasm and excitement of other artist's paths without stopping to think if I even wanted to be on that same path. There they go, off to Africa, without me. Here I am, waving them goodbye. Why aren't I going with them? Not once had I asked the real question - Did I WANT to go to Africa? When I did finally take a good look at my frustrations, I realized that a very large portion of it was placed there not by others, but by me. No one was telling me or judging me, they were just trying to be encouraging because I was sending out "feeling left behind" energy. I was the one piling up the guilt.

The truth was what felt important and right at that point in time wasn't to create competitive pieces for people to ooh and ahhh over. What made my heart sing was to create simple but love filled quilts for people who needed to wrap themselves in the energy of knowing that someone cared. There were people coming into the world and leaving this world, celebrating or crying, in the quilts I made and that meant more to me than all the ribbons or awards in the world. I would have saved myself a lot of emotional wear and tear if I'd been able to think it through and say "Hey, Africa, how cool is that - have fun! I'd love to join you but, y'know what, I'm busy getting ready to take a trip to China." And then my friends would have said "Oh, cool, China. Well, you have fun too!"

Not there's anything wrong with going to Africa. I have creative awards and ribbons. They're lovely to win and display. Mine are now laying in a big dusty pile waiting for me to rehang them in the studio after some remodeling. But what made them important at the time wasn't the acknowledgement of others - although don't get me wrong, that's a fantastic feeling! - it was more importantly the sense of having accomplished something for myself, having overcome some challenge or pushed past some level I thought beyond me, going beyond my own limits and awarding myself the sense of a hard won, deserved personal victory. It was because it was the right path for me at that moment in time.

Of course one of the reasons I didn't speak of and say I was going to China was because I didn't really want to go to China. I didn't know WHERE I wanted to go. That was the problem. Did I want to go to China? Or would I rather go to Alaska? Indonesia? Cabo San Lucas? Minneapolis? I couldn't pack my bags and leave because I'd hit a point in my life where I didn't know where I wanted to travel.

I came to a decision about six or eight months ago to allow myself a year (or so) of discovery. No need to choose any directions, no need to make any long term goals. For a number of years I'd been trying to FORCE myself to find my own path and the approach was dismally and frustratingly unsuccessful. I wanted to see what happened when, instead, I greeted each day as open to an possibilities and see where it would organically take me. I haven't yet found a path with rays of light shining down on it. No neon signs flashing "This Way". But I do think this approach is working. I'm closer to finding a new direction now than I have been for a long while. I've gotten a lot done this past year, although in bits and pieces so I had to take a good look back at things to see that this was so. And I don't wake up anymore with anywhere near the weight of frustration or fear that I'm lost, that it's "too late", that I'll never find my way. I'm feeling guardedly hopeful.

For a while now, don't know how long it's been simmering, I've started to see some ideas bobbing closer to the top than others. This last half week of reading and visiting other blogs, a use of time I thought of as somewhat selfish and frivolous, has ended up being the perfect "excercise" in focusing my muse. At some point along the blogging trail the idea of "deep creating" started to accompany me. I started to visit each blog with this question in mind - who seemed to be creating from the heart, who didn't? - and more importantly - Where could I find my own deepest wellspring? I've come home from the party with a lot more blogging friends, but, happy surprise, I've also come home with a lot fewer directions calling for my attention. Flip that round, I came home with more focus. Out of the chaos comes the form.

Now I'm home, back to my real life, less frustrated at all the things I don't have time to do, and more enthusiasm and peace for working on a few more carefully chosen projects.

So - maybe it will help you to ask yourself some of the same questions about deep creating -

What purpose? What medium? What process? Small and intimate? Large and in your face? For you alone? Paint? To make a statement to the world? To seek beauty? To test the comfort zone? Quilt? To find reality? To step outside of reality and create new ground? Decorate? To simplify? Expand? Sing? Move through grief? Find joy?

What makes your heart thump wildly?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I'm completely hooked on visiting all the other One World - One Heart participants. To say I'm getting little else done is, alas, an accurate accusation.

I've been cooking though - that's always a shocking accomplishment these days. Once I get back into the swing of things, I really enjoy cooking. But with all the coming and going over the last few years, and hubby working swing shift and William thinking most of my menus are highly suspect, it's just hard to build up any enthusiasm for cooking for, most of the time, myself.

I'm also still working on my gray cowl scarf and I am cautiously excited because it appears, now that I'm about a quarter of the way finished and there's enough to see to figure it out, that I am indeed doing it correctly. I'm rather amazed at that. Give me a sticker! Applaud me! I feel like I'm two years old and proudly showing off that I put my pants on ALL BY MYSELF!!! I'll try to take a photo to show you the progress. Soon. Maybe tonight will be the night I get my photo mess worked out.

Since I always feel bad if I don't have a visual for you, I'll end by sharing two rather pretty views of the York Minster. They go along with another holiday photo post I've put up on Beach Treasure today. Go check it out for more photos of the Shambles.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

ONE World-ONE Heart
A lot of my favorite bloggers are participating in this lovely networking project - One World, One Heart. The idea is for bloggers to meet and greet other bloggers. Each participant rewards their fellow bloggers by offering a free giveaway to anyone who leaves a comment on their One World, One Heart post.

I spent several hours last night cruising the list of participants - which you can find on the project site, just click on the image or title link above. I certainly left comments for some of the lovely giveaways offered, but more importantly, I spend some time with old blogging friends (some I visit regularly, some I haven't had a chance to visit in awhile) and met some wonderful new bloggers who I hope to add to my list of inspiring blogs to visit whenever I can find a minute or two minutes or sixty eleven hundred minutes.

I was so inspired by the variety of blogs and prizes I came across, I wanted to spend part of today finding or making something to offer in return. I was going to make something but then I found the perfect treasure at the thrift store when I stopped there on my way home from a couple of errands.

We're supposed to share hearts. Look what I found - HEARTS! The photo is lousy, sorry 'bout that. Still haven't fixed my photo storage issues. But trust me, these little hearts pins are so sweet. I didn't make them, but they are obviously handmade with love and attention to detail. Some have ribbon flowers, some are button flowers. Approximately 3" X 3", perfect to wear on your coat or sweater from Valentines Day through spring and on into summer. They'd be equally cute being held by teddy or doll, or used in some other decorative fashion. I have one pinned to my scarf at the moment.

I'm going to keep one each (button/ribbon) - one for myself and one for a friend - and send a heart off to three lucky bloggers. All you have to do to enter to win one is leave a comment here on this post. You must have an active blog of your own to participate. Make sure your comment links back to an e-mail or to your own blog where I can post a comment to contact you. I'll pull the names of three lucky winners at the same time as everyone else - on the evening of February 13.

Of course, if you're new to my little corner of the web, I hope you also take the opportunity to browse more of my posts either now or later when you have more time to visit. You can also hop on over to my general blog, Beach Treasure. I'm a bit more of a blabbermouth over there and since a lot more people read that blog regularly, I'm having a separate One World - One Heart giveaway there too!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Here's what I've been working on lately and what I'm using as my efforts for the last couple of days of Thing-a-Day.

What you see in this not-very-clear photo is a very pretty skein of gray angora yarn and a pair of double ended needles with knitting that wraps around and around. It will, hopefully, knock on wood, if I've done it properly, be a moebius scarf/cowl.

I thought it would be super easy. Just cast on a bunch of stitches onto circular needles and then twist them once before connecting them into a ring. WRONG! I had to do a bunch of net surfing and reading before I understood why that wouldn't work. Because it creates a 360 degree twist and what I wanted to make was only a 180 degree twist. After more reading and heaving thinking (the hardest part, oh my old brain hurts!), I decided I was as unconfused as I was likely to get and I started the project. This blog post was very helpful because it provided a few step-by-step photos and this site was helpful because it gave the most detailed instructions. There may be many more helpful sites out there, but that's as far as I got before picking up my needles with not a small amount of trepidation.

The yellow you see in the photo are the stitches I cast on. They are not a permanent part of the scarf. When the scarf is completed, the yellow stitches will be snipped or pulled out. The oddest part of this whole project is that there is no front and back, no SIDES, and you knit it from the inside out to the the edges. After the first round of gray stitches, I had to knit the second round into the bottom of the first round, intead of the top round that are looped around the needle already, and then leave that first round on the needles while picking up a new round of stitches, doubling how many stitches I have on the needles and coiling the needles around each other in two loops. Confused yet? If that made no sense to you, don't worry, it didn't make sense to me the first half dozen times I tried to understand it either.

The first several rounds were really hard to maneuver. It's getting a bit easier now that I've gone round for a bit and there's some stretch between the two coils. The scariest thing about this project is that you don't get to see it unwrapped and working until it's done and cast off the needles. So I'm knitting this on BLIND FAITH. Ack! I sure hope I'm doing this correctly!

Monday, February 04, 2008

My big plans for Thing-a-Day, and for my own benefit, was to spend tedious but necessary hours transferring years worth of photos from my overstuffed photo program and filled SD cards into multiple storage - uploading them to online storage, burning "hard copy" CD's of the files, and then moving them onto an external hard drive so I could delete them from my program and the cards and have S P A C E to once again unleash my digital muse. However we've had more stormy nights (and days) and the power flickering on and off, so it seemed like a bad time to undertake any computer projects. Maybe tonight, as I am looking out the window and see the oddest color in the sky - BLUE!

However I did search through my latest SD card and deleted a few photos I didn't care about to give me room to shoot a half dozen new photos. I had visited another blog yesterday (which I was going to link to but my Bloglines list seems to have eaten it and I can't FIND it! ARGH.) showing photos of some winter garden pots. The winter shown being a San Francisco Bay Area winter, all green and misty. It inspired me to take a couple photos of my own winter garden pots which, now that I've set you up, you won't see here - I've posted them over on Beach Treasure. But I do have a couple more that I thought turned out artsy to show you below.


Snowed In

Saturday, February 02, 2008

My friend Deirdre signed up for this Thing-a-Day project. It's a collective of bloggers who commit to using the dreary days of February to make a "thing" a day. If you go to the website, there's a list of possible "things" to do after the blog title on the top of each page. It's a pretty all-encompassing list - "knit, cook, draw, paint, tape, solder, write, install, destroy, invent, document". I thought hey, even I can manage one of those things. At the very least I could say "Hi folks. Today I farted. I created gas!"

So I signed up. And promptly missed the first day. In fact, I sort of forgot that January slid into February yesterday as the weather here simply slid from one snowy day into another snowy day. For some reason that obviously makes no sense, I thought that it would stop snowing once the calendar flipped to another month. But no, nothing has changed. February snow and white looks surprisingly similar to January snow and white.

It's not like I didn't do anything yesterday. I did lots of things, I just didn't post about any of them. And honestly, none of them are so amazing that I'd want to crow about them. For example:

  • I made cinnamon raisin French toast.
  • I went to the bookstore.
  • I read some blogs.
  • I answered some e-mails.
  • I kept tabs on William's whereabouts.
  • I let the dogs in and out and in and out and in and out and in and out.
You can see how none of those are particularly inspiring.

About halfway through January, through a series of synchonicities, the exact details of which have now become somewhat faded, I decided that I would embrace my coccoon nature of January and that February was going to be when all that quiet rest and reflection would change into cleaning and preparing energies. I was sort of disappointed that this didn't manifest in me jumping up into a Broadway song and dance number on the stroke of midnight February 1 but, there are signs of stirring.

More inspiring than the rest of the "things" on my list, yesterday I spent some serious, real time tossing around writing ideas and then researching them online last night. I've reserved another blog name to use for all things "Writer-ish" but it's not ready to launch yet so I'll just mention this here, being as it counts as being creative.

I won't be following through with more thinking and researching today however. Today is Imbolc, my deadline for taking all the holiday boxes out to the garage (even though there's several feet of packed snow between here and there) and burning all the holiday greens. That falls under "destroying" and "dismantling". In fact, quite literally "dis-mantling" as I'm going to take my mantel decor apart. Hah! I also told myself I would make, maintain, and keep up-to-date an altar this year, so I'll be working on creating a Imbolc altar. It might be as simple as a candle and picture, it might be as complex as setting up some grow lights and planting some seeds. We'll see.

Also, my need to deal with my photo storage problems has hit or will soon (like, within a day or two) hit crisis point, so that's right up there on the top of the To Do List. Not something that's very creative or interesting to share but it's critical to me getting back into my creative groove as I depend heavily on my photography to inspire me.

In the meantime, my daughter-in-law has been a lot busier in the crafty side of life than me. Check out Lisa's recent posts showing the quilts she finished in the last couple of days.

I'll leave with you an artsy photo. I didn't take it this year, it's from several winters ago - we actually have a LOT more snow now - but I thought this photo captured the peaceful white side of my mood lately.