Seed Catalogues – Tis the season

summer-planting

I don’t know about you, but my mail box has been flooded with seed catalogues. Each one has glossy, color photos of stunning summer vegetables and flowers – the sole intent to seduce.

“Look at the beautiful carrots (beets, corn, eggplant, beans, tomatoes, chard, okra, tomatillos, pumpkins, squash, etc, etc)! You know you want to grow these! Picture the beautiful garden! Picture yourself, lovingly tending this lovely, summer paradise!”

Uh huh.

I love the *idea* of gardening. I love the planning of a garden. Pouring over seed catalogues, picking out what to grow and how to arrange it so that each plant is beneficial to the other. Visiting the local nursery, picking out heirloom varieties of tomatoes.

I love the *idea* of walking out to the garden in the summer and picking fresh, ripe veggies for dinner.

I love the *idea* of looking over my flourishing garden and sighing with pleasure.

What I don’t like, is the reality of gardening. The daily watering and the never ending battle with weeds and gophers and bugs. Especially the squash bugs – nasty suckers.

Our first year on the farm, we went a little crazy planting a LARGE garden with every type of seed bought from above mentioned catalogues. It became practically another full time job maintaining the garden, and by the end of the summer we had so many tomatoes (and squash, and corn, and peppers) that we were begging perfect strangers, “Please, do you you need any veggies?! I’ll bag them for you!”

Almost eight years later, we’ve gotten a little wiser. We still plant a few things in the garden, but we limit ourselves to just a few seedlings from the local nursery – and happily take the neighbor’s extra tomatoes and squash.

 

Balancing act

teeter-totter

When I was in college, I worked part time at a horse stable. The trainer I worked for, a wise, older, southern gentleman chided me one day, “My dear, you are an extremist.” I remember being a little shocked and huffing back an insulted, “I am not!”

I can’t recall exactly what prompted his comment all those years ago. While I can still remember the affronted indignation of my 20 year old self, today, I flash back to those words and think with chagrin, yeah… ok, maybe he had a point. I do tend to teeter and totter to extremes in my life.

I’m bursting with creativity and enthusiasm! (teeter)  //  I have no energy and just want to lie on my big chair. (totter)

I’m running tons of miles and training for a 50 mile race! (teeter)  //  Not running it all. Ugh. (totter)

If life is a series of lessons, then I’m stuck on trying to learn balance.

On my grumpy days, I stomp around and think, “Balance!? What a ridiculous and impossible goal! I’ve got too much to do and not enough time to do it all. ARGH!” On my happier, more zen days, I thoughtfully tell myself, “It is what it is. You’re just doing the best that you can.”

My grumpy days want to beat my happy/zen days with a large stick.

Happy Sunday!

A dark and rainy night

Got home just after dark. A chorus of meows and moos greeted me as I walked, shoulders hunched in the rain towards the house. Suzie wiggled as I entered the house, a hint of guilt in her eyes and I guessed that she jumped down from the bed.

Work clothes were traded for farm clothes, then Suzie and I were off to feed the cows. I put my headlamp on, and stomped into my boots. The cats meowed at me, demanding to fed first, strident little buggers, but they would have to wait. “This way, Suze,” and we headed down through the pasture.

The cows were lined up at the feeder, their eyes glowing eerily as the light from my headlamp washed over the line up. The rain has started up again, not too hard yet, but steady. I pulled the tarp off of the hay bales while Suzie worked the fence, watching the cows intently, ready for anything.

Pretty soon, the soft sound of chewing could be heard against the background of wind and rain drops. A soothing sound. I almost wanted to sit and listen to them for awhile, but it was a dark and rainy night, so I headed back to the house and to my own dinner.

cows
**The photo above was from a few days ago – too dark to get any photos tonight – but the same group of cows.

“Someday, I will be a beautiful butterfly…”

We had a pot luck at work last week and a coworker was wearing a scarf that was tied and held with a beautiful butterfly pin. The image of that pin stayed with me for a couple of days.

Playing with some ideas for art this weekend, I my mind kept  circling back to the butterfly pin.

“Oh, come on!” my internal critic complained, “Butterflies? Really? Can you be anymore cliche? And flowers? Where is the angst, the drama, the art in that?”

((shrug))

Sometimes, I just want to work on something that makes me happy.

Trial and Error

Full of inspiration and excitement after my art class, I dragged out all of my supplies to play. I was planning to experiment. To just play, to go with intuition and see where things went.

In one of my classes through AAU, we were assigned to just do random, organic shapes. We did several versions and had to turn in our four best. Part of the assignment was to play around with negative space, different size and shapes. With that in mind, I started playing around on paper. Then, I decided to forget the paper and just work straight on the wood that I planned to work on.

I grabbed a pencil and started drawing randomly. It was very zen.

I got out my wood burning tool. I had bought it last year, but had yet to open it up. I was a little nervous about it, since I really didn’t want to burn the house down. I very carefully set it on a trivet and opened a window for ventilation. Grabbing my wood, I started burning some of the outlines that I had drafted.

Oh boy. Wood burning is fun! I think I got a teensy bit carried away. It does take some practice to get smooth lines, especially on the curves. My piece was pretty small, so I wonder how it would be to work on something really large.

I outlined my pebbles. I experimented with the tip of the tool, adding little divets. Some deep. Some shallow. Some squiggly. Some straight. There was something satisfying about this whole process. And the smell of the burning wood pleasant.

PebblesThen came the paint. I didn’t have a clear purpose or color palette in mind when I started. I had a vague notion that I was going to stick to earth tones. Greys and browns, sand and stone. Then I veered off slightly into a mustard-y  yellow. More veering with some turquoise. Hmmm.

Looking at it now, it is not really what I was hoping for. But in the spirit of “experimenting”, I continued on. Let it evolve. Just keep going.

—-

Art is personal. And subjective.  And who gets to define what is “good”? Last year for my birthday, I took a day off work and went to see the Impressionist exhibit at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. I was really excited to see the work of Monet, Cézanne and especially van Gogh (although, van Gogh is technically post-impressionism). The exhibit was sold out and incredibly crowded. I’m not sure how many people actually were allowed in the exhibit at one time, but there were at least 3-4 deep at any one painting. I had paid for the audio tour, so as I looked at specific paintings, I could play an audio narration of the history of the artist and the piece.

Standing in front of van Gogh’s The Starry Night, feeling a little giddy that the famous painting was right there, I felt a sense of awe. All of these people were here to gaze at this painting (and others) yet most was that during van Gogh’s lifetime, his art was not well known or well liked. And yet hundreds of years later, his work sells at auction for millions of dollars and people come by the thousands to pay for a chance to gaze at it for a few moments. Mind-bending.

I continued on with my experiment adding fabrics. I kept going, even though I wasn’t coming together like I hoped. I didn’t think I had a plan in mind when I started this, and yet, this was not turning out like I hoped. Did I go too crazy with the wood burning tool? Did I not like the colors? Not sure. But I just continued on, finally adding some dimensional paint and then finally varnish.

It is very abstract. Sort of chaotic. Not sure if I like it.

There is a quote from The Artist’s Way book, a prayer actually that goes something like, “God, I’ll take care of the quantity if you take care of the quality.”  I’ll keep going with quantity and hope quality follows.

Getting my creative mojo back

It was a long, non-creative summer. I cleaned up my sewing room (read=dining room) in anticipation of the nieces visiting for two weeks and never got my stuff back out once they left.

I spent the rest of the summer running and thinking about being creative. A lot of thinking; not much doing. In fact, no creative doing at all. So when a friend at work asked if anyone wanted to attend an art class in San Rafael, I jumped at the chance. It was exactly what I needed, and doesn’t the universe tend to work like that?

Telamadera Fusion – my friend’s sister, Alma, is an artist who created the technique – combines wood, paint and fabric to create beautiful art. Alma is a wonderfully creative, talented, warm and giving woman and a fabulous teacher. (Check out her web site www.almaart.com) I had taken one of her classes last year and it opened up all sorts of possibilities in my mind. But over the course of the year, I sort of deflated creatively. Work, stress, life – all big rocks that weighted down my sense of fun.

So… almost a full year later, I went back for another class. And once again, I was inspired and invigorated and buoyed.


It was a great day. Full of laughter, fun, creativity, friendship and joy. A toast to Alma (and Julianna, who extended the invitation to the class)… thanks for sharing your love of creating and thanks for inspiring me.