Sunday, January 31, 2010

Nuggets of Joy

Joy: painted foam letters adhered to embossed metal. The fabric started out as red flannel with glitzy fabrics needle punched on thus making a one-of-a-kind fabric.

Nuggets of Joy can occur when a road runner darts across the back wall, or comes right up to the glass bedroom door and amuses Spencer, aka the very large male cat, and I by talking to us through the closed door. Other nuggets of joy happened when I discovered that I suddenly have a dozen followers of this blog. One of which I'd like to introduce you to. Laura not only has FM like I do but does amazing art and has written a book. I'm in awe.

Another follower, who is also a dear friend, is Pam.  I'm envious of her writing and of her approach to grow her skills.

Nuggets of Joy can be found in my backyard which is in the throes of being redone, well not the entire yard, but the raised bed area. The HOA insists that yards be completely planted during the first 6 months after purchase of a new house. As it turns out that is a hard thing to do; gardens aren't stagnate but change with seasons and how a garden develops which can take years. So, the original ground cover plants that took over the mounded area have got go; they're making the yard smaller than it needs to look, plus, they're overgrown and devoured by bugs. This is just one small area that I've tackled so far. My guy was going to start the work in November when the temps dipped below 90 degrees, but I'm now left with the work while his brain recovers from two strokes. To the left, out of frame, is the next area that I will also plant with cactus that were purchased last summer. I'm not fond of so many stepping stones in the garden, but the tree trimmers need places to stand.

This odd seed pod is from a white oleander plant. I've never seen a bloom do this before. Marvelous in a scary way; I imagine that birds might like to use it for nest building? Or, maybe they're smart enough to know about the poisonous plant. I grew up in the Land-of-Oleanders and never thought I'd grow them again, but they grow fast and were perfect for the side yard. They didn't let me down and now are providing much needed shade.

Quote: Practice random expressions of happiness. It might just catch on. Sally Huss

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Still Raining

What a strange view out the bedroom window. Rain splattered window, the mountain ridge peaking out between layers of clouds as the sun set. Terrestrial perhaps? It was one of those times when I couldn't grab the camera fast enough. There are ponds/pools of water all over the back yard and still the rain continues. Is the end in sight?

I've always been envious of those who have design walls for their fabric art, that is until I came up with a makeshift one. The cork board is 24x36 inches and is perfect for the small sizes I work on. These two are for challenges. The background fabrics are from the marathon screen printing session I did last spring that ended when the temps rose to the high 90's in June. The square on the green piece, left, is an altered line drawing of a brain. The challenge, from Three Creative Studios is the word "puzzle." I'm immensely puzzled as to why three people that I love are all brain injured. How can that be? Stacy, my 41 year old daughter, suffered from infection after infection when she was 22 months old and her temperature was entirely off the charts one day, enough so that she was left brain damaged. Mom has Alzheimer's, and my guy had a major stroke in October. And there are times when my brain doesn't seem to work as it should, but I'm pretty certain that it's brain fog related to FM. I've had brain fog off and on for my entire life.

Quotes: Dr. Seuss: I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells.
Irish proverb: You'll never plough a field by turning it over in your mind.
Albert Einstein: Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.

Monday, January 18, 2010


It never rains here in the desert of southern CA, at least that's been my experience. I'm wondering if I brought the wet weather back with me from the San Francisco bay area. I visited my guy in the Greenbrae nursing home last Mon-Thur. and encountered fog, sprinkles, and rain. I hadn't seen him since Nov. 22nd when he was moved north so it was imperative that I visit him. The trip included a few firsts such as renting a car and staying alone in a hotel all which I did easily. Worrying as it turned out was a waste of energy, but then it usually is.

The stroke was a bad one and it appears that it's going to take his brain a long time to rewire itself. He is physically strong and gets through his exercises without problems while I on the other hand can't keep up. It turns out that  he had been concerned about my finding him so when I walked into his room he cried and said, "I knew you'd find me."  If I could I'd visit more often but the trip involves leaving mom and Stacy in Redondo Beach with my youngest daughter and her family; their house is a three hour drive. Flying from LAX to SFO, renting a car, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County, checking into a hotel . . . well, it's not a simple thing.

I can't believe that I didn't take one single photo, but then I was concentrating on getting myself everywhere I needed to go; being both navigator and driver isn't easy. When I got back home I saw my yard and view from my bedroom window with new eyes. Marin county is beautiful but there is something to be said for taking photos that no one else in the world will have in their collection. I know, poor me. Every time I look out my bedroom window I see mountains.

Yes, it is raining here, in fact, it's supposed to rain all week which will create problems, but when doesn't overkill? We've also experienced a few earthquakes lately and after the horrendous devastation in Haiti we're a little on edge about the tremors. Rain is good, earthquakes not so good.

The cactus is in a pot where I think that it will stay for as long as it lives. I'm not replanting it into the yard which was the original plan. I've had a copper bowl for decades that I used to plant succulents in until I realized how beautiful the patina is. The rain brought out a rich array of color this morning; glad I was there to photograph it.

It takes an earthquake to remind us that we walk on the crust of an unfinished planet.

Charles Kuralt

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


In my now so-called senior years, don't you just love it when middle age suddenly becomes senior years? Nope, I don't either. Anyway, suddenly a lot of red has appeared in my closet and I love it that red is known as a power color among other things. The garden has become colorless, winter sulking perhaps? So off to the nursery I went and bought three  red geraniums that I planted with the tall stately cypress plants; the patio now looks cheery which in turn gives me joy.

Quote: "Artists can color the sky red because they know it's blue. Those of us who aren't artists must color things the way they really are or people might think we're stupid.” Jules Feiffer

PSE version. I had forgotten that PSE 8 is now up and running on my computer. Too many things have happened since September including transferring all of my photos and files to external drives before the computer was taken down to bare bones in order to re-install all of the programs. Viruses!

So far I love PSE 8 and I haven't even cracked open "The Missing Manual" for PSE 8. The 600+ page tomb looks like a good purchase. This is my second upgrade from #2 that I loved, #4 drove me nuts; #8 seems to be the version I've been waiting for.

Saturday, January 02, 2010


Joy is my second word for 2010. I've allowed Joy to take a hiatus since Oct. 17th, the day of the stroke that struck my guy. My grandsons, Jack and Matthew, brought joy back into my life a little at a time until it started bubbling up again. I'm more determined to en-joy something every day. Jack and Matthew have that marvelous gift that children have of enjoying moments of "pretend play" that adults have lost over the years of dealing with life. Watching them play for three days while they were here for Christmas was a gift.

I'm reminded of the phrase, "Fake it until it becomes reality," or something like that.  Rather than faking joy all it takes is one small thing each day to make a difference, mentally, on how a day will take shape. This morning it was sitting on the patio with a mug of cafe mocha, two newspapers, and being warmed by the sun; it's about 75 degrees here in the desert today. This afternoon it was once again retreating to the backyard, this time in the shade of a Bottle tree, with my lunch of Quesadillas at my side and Sue Grafton's latest novel in my hands. Yummy!

Components: 5x7 inch wrap canvas textured with gesso. Coffee stained before writing Joy with black acrylic paint. I'm not sure this piece is done, but I don't feel compelled to add color, yet.

Quote by Sally Huss again. At the end of the day it is friends who make the day. Thank you my friends, especially Christina for the word "Joy."

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year.

December and 2009 were put to rest at midnight. Phew! I'm entering 2010 with Joy and Courageous as the words I hope to live by. The word Courageous is a gift from Pam that was gleaned from an exchange of emails. And Joy is shared with Christina, wink, her chosen word.

Joy was nearly stripped from my life over the last two months making me more determined to en-joy something every day. I have been gripped by fear of the unknown to the point of wanting to curl up into a tight ball and fall into a dark hole of defeat.

New Year: As deep sleep approached I barely made it to midnight to watch the Times Square ball drop and if I hadn't jotted it down I might have thought that I dreamt it; this years crystal ball represents "Let there be courage." Obviously, I'm not the only person who felt defeated in 2009. Nearly every day and night for the last few month health issues and nearly losing my guy replayed in my brain in at attempt to drain inner strength and joy. Not happening!

Components: A 6x6 inch hardboard panel, a layer of gesso imprinted with corrugated cardboard. I find that staining a gesso layer with instant coffee encourages texture and shape along with providing a rich base for paint. Nickel Azo Gold, Cerulean Blue Deep, and Transparent Red Iron Oxide Golden Fluid acrylics are probably my favorite fluid colors. The word "Courageous" was inkjet printed on Muslin and stained with coffee. The quotes were printed on transparency film.

The door in the photo montage is Orvieto, Italy, a joyous memory photographed in June.

Quote: The beginning determines everything. Start the year with a smile. Sally Huss