Tuesday, November 25, 2008
My memories go back to the time when the children were all in elementary and middle school. I have fond memories of sitting around the dinner table. It was generally casual. I love to cook, but hate the cleanup. Often our dinners were dished up at the stove and we carried what we needed to the table. In my childhood, dinner required "setting the table" with plates, glasses, napkins, knives, forks, spoons, and all of the accompaniments like butter, salt, pepper, jam, etc. Each meal was an event. And it was lovely. But I often choose a more casual approach. . .
Once we were all settled, I wanted to engage in conversation with the family. We would play "High Low". One by one we would go around the table and tell about the high point of our day, and the low point. Some days, we would have wonderful, exciting "highs". Mostly; however, it would be simple things like who they played with at recess or completing their homework on time. This simple ritual gave me a wonderful glimpse into my children's daily lives when they were away from me.
We will play a similar game around our Thanksgiving table this week. Each place setting will contain three pieces of candy corn. Each of these pieces represent an item of gratitude, which we will take turns sharing. This will be followed by a prayer of Thanksgiving and Gratitude before we begin our meal. Then - considering that my children don't sit around the table together often anymore, I am sure that it will resemble the "wild rumpus" that is oversaw by Max in the book "Where the Wild Things Are",(which is my favorite children's story -and hopefully, there won't be any gnashing of terrible teeth.
Although I try to maintain an attitude of gratitude throughout the year, I wish to take this time to express my gratitude for the wonderful blessings I experience in my life everyday. I am grateful for family - my wonderful husband of 22 years, and my children; I am grateful to still have my parents in my life and my ability to pick up the phone and talk to them any time I want; I am grateful for some amazing friends (you know who you are - I have awesome girl friends!!!); I am grateful for my job; I am grateful for my talents and the opportunity I get to use them every day; I am grateful for my home - it's not perfect, but it protects me from the cold and rain; I am grateful for so many of my daily conveniences like good cooking utensils and my gas stove, a washer and a dryer, a refrigerator, indoor plumbing, a warm coat . . ." I could go on for hours! May you all take time to recognize those people and things which you are grateful for and may your Thanksgiving be a day surrounded by friends and family.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Here is mermaid chair hanging on the wall of the display.
Is that a Laurie Miller design? Yep! One of my other product lines that you can see at my shows this season. . .heavy cotton tote bags with unique black and white designs. Perfect for groceries, school books, or a bohemian purse.
Thanks for sharing this experience with me. It was really wonderful . . .now I need to return to the studio to finish up all kinds of treasures for my upcoming shows! Hope to see you there.
Monday, November 17, 2008
This is one of several designs created with pen and colored pencil. Each one is sold in a double mat, ready for framing. You'll have to come and visit me to see the other designs.
Here is an example of my hand mirrors. Perfect for daughters, your hair dresser, a friend . . .everybody needs a hand held mirror. This is one of several designs.
So here is the deal - my big sale is in Seattle. If you are in the Seattle area, be sure and visit me on December 6 & 7 at the Phinney Winter Fest. Otherwise, if Portland is a little more doable for you - I will be showing a variety of "giftables" at the Scrooge Lives Holiday Festival on December 3rd and 4th at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham. The hours are from 10:00-6:00 on both days. Other than that, I will be doing a private sale - I will post the date when I have more details. Make this year something special and think about a special hand made gift for those people who are close to you. Contact me if you need a special order.
I want to thank those of you who commented on how they are going to try to cope with the chaos of the holidays. It seems like alot of you are looking at doing more service. In fact, I am going to a holiday party the first week of December. We are going to do the traditional "white elephant" gift exchange. But this year, we are putting a new spin on it. Instead of cleaning out junk to pass on to someone else, each person will wrap up a description of a service they are willing to do for someone else. An hour or two of housework, a batch of cookies, an offer to teach something you are really go at, etc. I thought the idea was brilliant. What a great way to share the holiday spirit. Keep those ideas and suggestions coming. Maybe you will share something that no one else has thought of.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Cierra and Auntie Michele -
Auntie Michele listening to our creation.
Chrissy and Jon working on the mix and playback.
So here is my question? As the season approaches, what is your family doing to keep the spirit alive and to limit the chaos?
Here's to a wonderful and peaceful holiday season!
Monday, November 10, 2008
As an artist trying to grow my business while working at an 8-5 job, my days off have been spent . . . painting. For most, we are entering into the Thanksgiving season. For me, I am full blown into the Christmas season. I am working hard to build my inventory up for the holidays.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
I actually didn't mind the concept of serving. In a way, I was kind of looking forward to it. It was a new adventure! An opportunity to go downtown and feel the energy of the city. I used to work downtown every day - in fact it was where I met my wonderful husband - and I sometimes miss that energy. Nowhere else can you find that feeling. The "city" has it's own sounds, feel, and smells. So I gathered a few items to occupy my time while waiting and headed off on my adventure.
The first thing I encountered was the traffic. Oh my goodness!!! I had forgotten what the morning rush hour commute into downtown is like. I was a bundle of nerves. How do people do that every day and keep their sanity?!! My daily commute to my job is 15 minutes with very limited traffic. And then there was the parking. I found a smartpark garage near the courthouse, but those things are nervewracking. I drove around in circles forever trying to find a spot where I could park and then actually have enough room to get out of the car!
At the courthouse, it was the security check. They ran my bag through 4 times. I carry basic art supplies with me everywhere I go. In my pencil pouch was a compass for drawing circles. They finally decided that I would not be able to do any serious damage with it and let me go - the lady behind me with the miniature scissors for her sewing was not so lucky. She had to surrender those or not come in. What a sad world we live in.
Once in the courthouse, I checked into the jury room. There was a sea of people - a few hundred of us. I walked around looking for a space to become my home for the next few hours. I found my piece of real estate at a round table surrounded with chairs. I sat down and scanned the room. All types of people were there - business professionals, students, retired people . . .and not one person would look at another. No one said hello, or engaged in small talk. In fact it was so quiet, I felt self-concious moving my chair.
People had books, mp3 players, laptops, cell phones, knitting, and crossword puzzles. We were all there together, confined to a single room. According to our instructions, we could most likely be there for the next 8-9 hours. But we were all alone. Obviously people wanted to talk to someone - so they pulled out there phones and talked, completely ignoring the people surrounding them. Others buried their faces in their computer screens rather than making eye contact. It was truly one of the most isolating feelings I have had in a long time.
Now don't get me wrong - I love technology. It frustrates me, while at the same time amazing me with it's power. But as we have embraced technology, we have forgotten how to be human. People would rather communicate through a piece of machinery that to make the human connection, soul to soul. My children send over 3,000 text messages a month. They prefer that to talking on the phone. Emails have replaced handwritten letters.
I never did get called onto a jury - no one did. In fact they ended up releasing most of us by noon. But I left there with a renewed desire to connect with friends and loved ones. I challenge anyone reading this to call up a friend and go meet them for lunch, or coffee, or hot chocolate or tea or whatever you like. Pick up the phone and listen to each others voices. Or handwrite a special note. Let's remember we are all in this together and share the most valuable asset we posses - ourselves.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
I came home from work, got something to drink and pulled out my voters pamphlet. Some choices were easy - I had made my decision months ago. Others were more complicated.
Later my son came home. He just turned 20. He wasn't able to vote in the last presidential elections. We've had alot of conversations about the duty to vote. It's easy to take the attitude that "my vote doesn't count for much". After all, when you read through the manuals, alot of the language is hard to understand. But if you don't want to let your voice be heard, then you don't have the right to complain.
As we were reviewing the issues, Collin and I had some wonderful conversation. It really is frustrating - so many of the issues were not easy choices. Here in Oregon, we had three issues that, if passed, would require increases to our Property taxes. Now recognize, Oregon is a no sales-tax state. So we pay extra property taxes. The first issue is to pass a bond to fund much needed upgrades at the Oregon Zoo. The second issue is to pay for funding that would support foster child programs, after school programs, and a variety of state funded children's programs. The third is for a bond for our local school district to fund overdue repairs, improvements, and construction of a new middle school (there are over 1,000 7th and 8th graders in one school). My budget can only support so many increases to our property taxes - but all three issues are important. What would you choose?
Collin found himself in a unique position - he agreed that all 3 issues were important. He could vote for all three; afterall, he doesn't pay property taxes and probably won't for a very long time. So it doesn't really affect him, right? We found ourselves having a very interesting conversation. I made my choice, explained to him the implications of each option and he made his choice.
Other issues were equally difficult - many of them appeared smart on the surface, but through further reading the reality of what these choices would cost made them look a little less attractive. Many choices would reduce funding to schools. How can we do that? Our schools in Oregon are already sinking. How can we take more money away from them? Choices - spend billions of dollars to build more prisons and keep that money in the schools. These are not easy choices. Many things seem like the lesser of two evils.
But the reality is this -I get to have a voice. I get to vote. People fought for that right and I want to honor the sacrifice that they made on our behalf. The system isn't perfect, but I am greatful to live in this country. I am greatful that I have choices and can walk down the street and pursue my passions and go to a job. There are women throughout the world who will never be able to do those things. Let your voice be heard this year. Get out there and vote!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
"If I could reach up and hold a star for every time you've made me smile - the entire evening sky would be in the palm of my hand".
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Thus began my week . . .my week of lying flat and doing very little. Now you understand that I am perpetually busy all of the time. If I am not at my day job, I am working in my art studio creating designs and filling orders or getting ready for an art show. And if I'm not doing that, I am running kids around, making meals, grocery shopping or completing other mommie-related tasks. Yes - I know my kids are growing up, but motherhood doesn't end at a certain age!
So - how does a person who is perpetually busy spend a week of bedrest? By watching alot of television. I think I have seen more home decorating shows on the HGTV Network this last week then I have in a year. And you know what - it got to a point where it was a bit depressing. I was watching people pay for these remodels and it started to remind me of the Brady Bunch. You know - how all of life's problems can be solved in less then 30 minutes?
This week was incredibly frustrating - the Holidays are fast approaching. Now in the "real" world, no one wants to think about that in October. But in an artist's world - the Holidays are a time of business. I generally spend a couple of months frantically working to build up my inventory for holiday sales. I am already filling orders for chairs and stools for Christmas gifts. As I was complaining about my frustration with not being able to sit, let alone work in the studio, my daughter put things in perspective. "Mom," she said, "maybe the Lord is telling you that you need to slow down and rest once in a while. If you aren't willing to slow down on your own - maybe He felt the He needed to make you slow down." Hmmmmm.
My back is improving - slowly. I was actually able to spend a few hours out in the studio yesterday and today. I'm not back to full function yet - but at least well enough that I have been able to turn off the tv! And as my back begins to return to normal functions, I will use this time of being an invalid as an opportunity to remind myself to slow down a bit and enjoy the moment.
So today, I left my desk and walked outside to feel the sun on my face. It may be the last time for several months. I stopped and looked at the changing leaves - the colors of orange and gold were spectacular. I kicked a pile of fallen leaves and listened to the crackly sound they made. I found an acorn - a whole acorn! And I took a deep breath and smelled autumn. Because remember - "it's not about how many breaths you take - but how many moments take your breath away."
Friday, October 24, 2008
Grandma and Auntie Michele
The cousins - Jacob, Jordan, Chance, Angie, Chrissy, and Cierra
Chelsea (the birthday girl) and her brother Ron - he just returned from a two year mission to Rome, Italy - welcome back
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
At the same time, I have been working on an 18th birthday present for Kerrie. She wanted a custom made mirror. We had talked for awhile about some of the images she wanted to see - and most important - a quote that had special meaning for her. "Open your heart and let the sun shine in." There will be a few baubles and beads added to the bottom to dangle and sway in the breeze. Then it will be all ready for pick up. Hopefully it will bring years of smiles to Kerrie. Happy birthday, Kerrie!
Besides creating art, this weekend was my daughter was a milestone as my daughter turned 22. I don't understand how that could be -especially since I am only 29! Or at least that is how i feel!
We celebrated by having our annual family favorite dinner . . .a shrimp boil! It is more than just dinner - it is a tactile experience. We cook the entire dinner in a huge pot seasoned with Old Bay Seasoning. There are small potatoes, sausage, corn on the cob, and most importantly . . .shrimp. We cover the table with butcher paper. Then once everything is cooked, we drain the liquid and dump the entire contents of the pot out on the table. No utensils are allowed. Melted butter with hot sauce, cocktail sauce, and a loaf of crusty bread finish out the meal. Everything is eaten with our hands. It is fun, delicious and full of good conversation. Everyone should do this at least once a year!
Happy Birthday jU-jU! I love you more than words can say. And I am so proud of you. You have turned into an incredible young woman.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
When Julie came to pick up the chair, she mentioned that they had just got word that her mother-in-law had been taken to the hospital. She was quite ill and the doctors were not sure what the cause was. I hope this chair gives her a place to find comfort and peace. I know my prayers will be with her in this trying time. Thanks, Julie, for letting me do this for you.
Paul is a co-worker of mine. He had seen a few of the chairs I have done recently and asked me to create something for his guest room. The guest room was created for his father for when he comes to visit. He wanted the chair to be a homage to his father. Paul told me his father loves to read, and loves music. Taking those cues i created this tribute for Paul's dad. . .
I used deep earth colors like browns, greens, and oranges. A quote about fathers says "My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived his life and showed me how." I think that quote is a wonderful tribute to fathers. Blocks of color with images like a stack of books, music notes, and geometric patterns are laid over a branch with leaves. It has the sense of whimsy that I love, without being too feminine. Hope Paul thinks it will pay proper tribute to his father.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
And the back - if you could run your hand over this you could feel all of the texture! I think my friend is going to be pleased when she see this pulled up to the desk of her home office.
Next, I am going to be working on a chair for a co-worker. It's going to be a tribute to his dad. I'll also be starting on a wooden rocking chair for a local teacher. I can't wait to get started on these this weekend.
This mixed-media painting was created by my sweet daughter for her best friends birthday. She started with a blank canvas and layered in a variety of blues and greens. It has the feel of a clear ocean. Then she layered on a black and white clippling of s yoga pose, layers of oil pastels and then some dimensional elements to add some texture. Some clippings of quotes and some words finished it off. I think it turned out pretty great. I love to see my kids trying out their creativity. It's a habit they will be able to use for the rest of their lives.
Monday, September 8, 2008
This view shows the base pattern on the seat . . .it still needs all of it's little details that will make it pop!
Here is the base with a few base colors laid in. It still has lots of doodles and dazzles to go before it is finished. It's a good thing I can seperate the pieces like this. When this chair is together, it weighs more than some tables I have worked on. When I bought it, I had to move it to my car in two pieces. This chair is solid and will last for years to come.
Here's an overall view of the main part of the chair - notice the metal rod in the bottom - it fits into the base above. It let will let Teri adjust the height of the chair and swivel. If she needs to smile, she can spin herself until she is dizzy.
The chair has a base color of black with layers and layers of bright happy colors that make me smile. Positive statements adorn the arms and seat. Teri - this should be ready for you by the end of the week. I hope you like it!
If you are interested in a special custom order for you or a friend, leave me a comment or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org Let's talk about a personal creation for you . . .
Saturday, September 6, 2008
And finally - pedicures. How indulgent! It was a perfect morning. (Check out those short, stubby toes!)
After a little shopping, my daughter had to head back to her home over the big mountain Then I went out with my good friend for a little lunch and girl talk. Several hours later I headed back home to find my younger daughters had picked up the house and were making dinner.
How's that for a perfect day? Good friends, good conversation, good food, no chores, and blue toenails!
Thursday, September 4, 2008
My computer at home is old and very tired. Even with a cable connection it is painfully slow sometimes. Two hours later, I was still trying to email off my pages. I had removed a few photos, shrunk them down – I event split the document into 2 separate emails. It finally worked after 2 ½ hours.
Fast forward to the next night. I am taking my daughter out to look for school supplies. I stop by my local Best Buy to get something for my IPod and walk out with a brand new laptop. The first one I have ever owned. Now I can really blog in style!
This blogging thing is a frightening new adventure for me. I love to read other people’s blogs. I have gained a world of inspiration from reading about other artist’s journeys. And I have always been a journaler. I love words and I love to combine them with my art. Blogging should be a natural progression for me. But considering how long it took me to join the Laptop revolution, you can understand my fear of actually doing my own blog.
This blog will be used to track my progression with my art – to create a witness , if you will. I hope to use it to track the progress on various projects and custom orders, as well as to let you know about my successes and my failures. I hope to use it to keep connected with friends – both old and new. Here is to a new journey and adventure!