Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Be AMAZED . . .

Be Happy; Be Amazed; Be Grateful; BE ALIVE.

BE AmazeD and Alive!
These are my words to live by this week.
There are too many wonderful things all around us not to be amazed.

Recently, we experienced a brief miracle of amazment when our sweet chickens began laying eggs. I feel like such a proud mama.
These sweet little eggs were so tiny - about half the size of a regular egg. But they had bright orange centers and were so delicious. Just a little preview of many more to come.
I found myself preparing these carefully. Nothing special - they were scrambled with some salt and pepper; however, since we feed these chickens each day and make sure that they have a safe place to roost at night, I was uniquely attached to these eggs. I sat at my table and savored each bite. There is something so wonderful about being a part of the process that creates the food that we eat. I experience this when I pick the berries and vegetables from my garden. And I experienced it when I enjoyed these eggs for breakfast.

And now for a commercial announcement - I will be showing work in Oceanside, Oregon this weekend. If you happen to be on the Oregon Coast for the long weekend, swing by Oceanside. It is such a sweet little town and the beach is beautiful. And there is ART! Wonderful Art by some wonderful people.

The following weekend, I will be participating in the West Linn Arts Festival. This is a first for me - I am quite excited and am looking forward to seeing some artist friends that I haven't seen for a while.
Judee Moonbeam is a wonderful fiber artist. She designs bags, hats and clothing using Middle Eastern, Celtic and African motifs. Judee and I met when we were placed next to each other at a small holiday sale. It was a mid week sale - rather slow - and we found ourselves filling the time by talking. I consider her a soul sister. And since I can barely sew a straight line, I have a true appreciation for the beautiful work she creates and the exceptional quality of her pieces.
Lin Haak is a fabulous artist I met a few years ago. I remember the first time I saw her work at an art festival. I spent quite a while in her booth. Her work combines rich colors, realistic images and an unexpected touch of whimsy. Later, I met her at an meeting of a group of local artists, and I remember feeling a little starstruck. It was like meeting a celebrity that you have followed from afar. The reality is - Lin is an open, friendly woman and I am happy to call her friend.

Art Festivals are a lot of work - there is a lot of preplanning, loading up the van, setting up the booth, packing the supplies for "just in case" - and then at the conclusion, you do everything in reverse.
 But I love them!
 I love talking with the people who come to look and shop and admire.
But even more important, I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones.
 At each sale, I walk away feeling like I am truly part of a community of like minded individuals. . . people who are driven to create and make this world a little more beautiful.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Sisterhood

Many Sisters . . .One Sisterhood.

I was born into a family of all brothers. All older brothers. I remember as a young girl wishing for a sister. I would ask my mother if she would have another baby so that I could have a sister and she would laugh and tell me no - that wasn't possible. I just wanted another girl in the house that could do "girl" things with me. I wanted someone to play hair and dolls and do nails with. But instead - it was all boys.
As I reached high school, I began to realize the value of girl friends. I had some very close friends that I could do all of those "sister" type things with.
When I married and had children, I wondered where "friends" would fit into the equation. My husband and I had plenty of friends - there were other couples and families that we would get together with and have dinner and play board games while our children played. And then in 1988, I left the corporate world for several years to raise my children full time. And the isolation kicked in. I realized that I didn't have any best girlfriends. It seemed like everyone was going off to work and having adult relationships and I was at home with toddlers. It was HARD! There were many tears through that period. And some friends came and went - but they weren't the "I can't go a day without talking to my best friend" kind of friends that I had had in high school. Until 1992 . . .
my third child was born. And through that experience, I met someone. A mother with young children, similar parenting beliefs and styles, like-minded morals and a sharp sense of humor that helped to keep the ups and downs of motherhood in perspective. I had found my friend. A few years later, I met another woman that was much the same. And shortly after that, yet another woman. And as if I wasn't blessed enough - 2 years ago another soul sister entered my life. Years later, these women are still an integral part of my life. They are my touchstones. They help to ground me. I have solved many problems and found many answers during our everyday conversations. Who needs therapy when you have friends like these?
 When I think back over the years and the experiences I have shared with these women, I realize that between us we have witnessed the birth of  children and grandchildren, our collective children have moved through preschool, elementary, high school and college; there have been 2 marriages of our children; there has been one divorce and another marriage in crisis; several bouts of unemployment; new businesses started, a few didn't quite make it - major moves,  including one relocation to another state; there have been illnesses from the common cold to much more major illnesses; deaths of parents; birthdays, celebrations, ups, downs, good, bad and ugly. There have been laughter and tears shared over breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. There have been weekend get-a-ways, family camping trips, and family vacations to more exotic locations.
The men - our husbands, have been friends, but they relate to each other in a much different way. They talk about jobs, home improvements and successes.
But us girls?  We talk about our secrets, our hopes, our dreams, our fears, our frustrations - for ourselves and for our family members.  Life has changed where we all are at. We are all working full time jobs now and our free time is at a premium. But I can say that not a week goes by that I don't connect with all three of these women - either by phone, over a meal, over through the internet. And whats more important - I know that if I called any of these women and told them I needed help with something they would be there in a hearbeat - no matter the time of day or night. They have proved this to me over and over throughout the years.
These women may not be related to me by birth or even by marriage - but I never could have asked for more loyal and wonderful "sisters". I know, deep down in my soul, that no matter where our lives take us - these relationships will endure. We are "one Sisterhood".
Who is your best girl friend? How long have you known her?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Summer Days. . .

(A preview of very BIG project I am working on - this will be taking up all of my time over the next week or so . . I'll post pictures of the progress.)

You gotta love summer days! The food, the flavors, the colors, the energy. But for the last week or so, there has been a shift. The evenings are cooler, the mornings are just plain chilly, and there is a distinct feeling of fall in the air. How can that be - didn't summer just begin? I actually consider fall to be one of my favorite seasons. In Oregon, the warm days generally last well into October, but the nights cool down enough to sleep. But once September hits, the schedule becomes more organized and regulated again with school schedules. Even though I will have only one student in high school this year, it still changes things. Although I like having a schedule - I miss the lazy days of summer.
I love starting my summer Saturdays off with a trip to the Farmers Market. Although we have a garden, not many of our veggies are ready to be harvested. My hubby and I usually head to market early Saturday and get our produce right away. We plan our weekend dinner based on what we purchase. This last weekend, we enjoyed fresh sweet corn, green beans, and a warm fresh berry cobbler. Yum! The hubby was convinced that the only reason I bring him along is to have him do the heavy lifting! Well . . .maybe he is a little accurate on that (wink wink).
After we have secured our menu for the weekend, we head home to finish up all those chores. Then I am rewarded with some serious studio time. Sometimes I even get to have good friends join me in the studio to work on their own projects.
And later - our family has created our own version of "Movies in the Park" - without the crowds. My Mr. Man pulls out a television and the DVD player; I make bowls of popcorn; my son or hubby build a roaring fire, and we all gather together to watch a movie under the stars. Sometimes I think - even if summer lasted all year, it wouldn't be long enough. So in the meantime, I will do my best to grab the last of these

Monday, August 23, 2010

What Are Sundays For?

Monday through Saturday is filled with more work and chaos than I can bare sometimes. I always look forward to the weekends. But even Saturdays are crazy, as we try to catch up on the chores and errands that fell through the cracks during the week.
And then comes Sunday. The day of rest. The day of family. The day of simplicity. I love relaxed Sundays when the grandparents join us for dinner and game night. We all join in the kitchen to participate in the preparation of the meal while we listen to music and share stories and laughter. We later gather around the table and share a wonderful meal and conversation. Once dinner is finished we clear the dishes and pull out the dominos. Then we sit in friendly competition and play together. The last few weeks, there has also been a communal puzzle sitting on the coffee table. The players in the game change sometimes throughout the evening as the various family members move to other tasks. But the game is not the point - the game is nothing more than a catalyst for being together.
My parents are advancing in years. They may or may not have many years left - but health challenges have been more frequent and more severe recently. Their mortality is becoming more of an issue. I refuse to wake up one day saying "I wish I had spent more time with them. . ." . My parents live relatively close to us. I know that I loved my grandparents when I was young - but it was from a distance. One set lived in another state and the other set was a bit more distant emotionally. I want my children to know and love their grandparents. I want them to learn from their stories. I want them to share their achievements, the challenges, and their joys with them. I want them to know that they can always find unconditional love and support from their grandparents. And the only way to do that is to make sure that they have a chance to spend time with them.
Our Sunday dinners are a time that we all look forward to - in fact, some Sundays, when we are unable to bring the grandparents over for one reason or another, we all feel a bit like something is missing.
All I know, is that at the end of the evening, I go to bed feeling an overwhelming sense of love and peace. And far more prepared to face the week ahead.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Last week I was at an art sale in West Linn. A woman walked into the booth. I welcomed her and told her to let me know if she had any questions. Because I have so many words and sentiments on my work, I try not to talk too much as people are looking. They seem to get frustrated if I am too chatty because they can't read and talk at the same time. She stood there for awhile, left, came back and stood a bit longer. She finally decided on a mirror and indicated that she wanted to purchase it. While I was wrapping up her new treasure she began to talk.

She told me that she felt so happy reading the phrases and quotes. She told me she just wanted to stand there a little longer and enjoy the feeling in the booth. WOW! I felt very humbled by that.

And then she asked me a question . . . "Are you just naturally happy and then you paint that - or do you need to paint to feel happy?" Her question caught me by surprise. I had never been asked anything like that before. I told her to give me a minute to think about how I wanted to answer and she stood there, patiently waiting, watching me and letting me know that she wasn't going to leave until I answered her.

In just a few short seconds, many thoughts raced through my mind and I realized - I am happy because I paint! Looking back on my life I know that I have fought times of depression. I like to stay busy - sometimes extremely busy. And that isn't always a good thing because it becomes overwhelming and it makes the situation even worse. But if I am busy - then I didn't have time to stop and feel down and blue. It is a bit of a catch-22. As I answered her question, she asked me if I fought depression. I wanted to weep as I answered her - because in the last year, the depression gremlin has been a bit stronger than ever before. And I immediately had an "a-ha" moment - I can't spend enough time in my studio these days. I am resentful when I have to do things like chores, or go to my day job, or any other type of distraction. I tell myself it is because I have deadlines and orders and shows . . .but I think the real reason is, I want to be in my studio because it is the best anti-depressant I have. In my studio, time stands still.

I am fairly new to the art world - I didn't even pick up a paint brush until I was an adult. It was the result of a bout of depression. I have always been creative. I performed for many years, I dabbled in various crafts like knitting and crochet - but I always wanted to paint. I was scared to get started. Paint seemed so "permanent" - what if I screwed up? Then what? Encouraged by my very dearest friend, I bought a few bottles of paint and some paint brushes and I started. I am so grateful for that encouragement. I'm not sure where I would be today without my art. My early work was very different from what I do today - I didn't find my artist voice until 6 years ago.

People often comment on my color palette - it is bright! I like bright, rich, saturated colors. I love how they make me feel. I love how they seem to surround my spirit and make it feel alive. Rich colors are like a blanket of security to me. I live in a place that has long, gray winters. I don't mind winter - in fact I love all of the seasons - but the gray . . .the neverending, thick, impenetrable gray . . .it begins to get to a person. When I was younger, it didn't bother me. The older I get, though, it is hard. If it weren't for my art, I'm not sure I could pull myself out of bed sometimes. I tell people I paint my own sunshine. I believe heaven will be full of colors that we can't even comprehend.

I am greatful that I have found my "passion" - I believe that everyone needs one. We all need that thing that we think about when we wake up in the morning and that keeps us up at night because we want to spend just a few more minutes doing it. Mine is art. I love being surrounded by my blanket of rich color. If you like my work and it makes you happy - thank you. If it's not your style - that is ok. I paint to make me happy. I paint to make my soul rejoice.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dream Big!

I use the word "Dream" in a lot of my work - I encourage friends and family to follow their dreams and their passions and to take time for themselves. I believe this. I really do. Especially because, as a woman and mother- we are not much good to those we care for if our reserves are always depleted. I just don't always follow my own advice.

Several years ago, I saw the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun" . I immediately fell in love with it. The concept that a woman, when at the end of her rope, goes on a trip and never comes back hit a nerve deep inside me. I have watched the movie over and over and over. I imagine myself doing something similar. I wonder how I would adapt to a foreign country. Would I learn to communicate or would my "old lady" brain win out? Would I make friends and develop relationships? How would I earn a living? Am I brave enough?

Last night, my husband took me to see "Eat, Pray, Love", again a story of a woman reaching a roadblock in her life and taking off on her own. There is much that can be said about the movie - was it perfect? No. Was it a bit self-indulgent? Maybe. Did I love it? Yes. And what's more - it stirred those wanderlust feelings inside of me yet again. I found myself dwelling on it when I came home. I woke in the middle of the night to dreams of travel and soul-searching.

I have always found myself drawn to and fascinated by the idea of exploring other cultures - not as a tourist, but as a participant. I fantasize about spending months in one place. Enough time to really explore and observe.

Of course, life gets in the way sometimes. Family takes precendence - as it should. Afterall, family is the one constant I can always rely on. But sometimes I have to wonder . . .could I? Is is possible to make such a dream a reality? Then it goes back to my words of wisdom - "Keep your dreams big" and "have faith". I know that some day I will travel and see some of the remarkable places this world has to offer. I may not end up staying for a year or even months - but I believe that the desire is strong enough that someday, I will get a stamp in my passport. Maybe even several stamps.

So . . .what is your dream or fantasy that seems so big that you aren't sure how to make it come true? We need to share so that we can all support each other. So let's raise our hands high and make a promise to ourselves to go out and do everything we can to living our dreams.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Garden Tour

Summer is in full swing around our place. Besides all of the art shows and creating new work, we are spending alot of time in the yard and garden. We had a rather late start to the growing season due to the unusual amount of rain and cold spring that we had. Of course, living in the Pacific NW, we are used to plenty of rain - but this year was a bit out of the ordinary. We also dug up some new beds. Some of them are limping along - our tomatoes and green beans are leaving something to be desired - but the sunflowers? They are in their prime right now. The thing that needs to be understood is - we didn't plant any of these. We planted a few ornamental sunflowers last year and every one in our garden this year is a volunteer. We just couldn't fathom pulling them out. They are, afterall, one of my favorite summer flowers! My son is standing next to the one plant that is different from all the rest. Who knows where this one came from. It is the type that you grow for the seeds. We have proclaimed it the "dinosaur plant" because of its huge size. For a bit of reference, my son is 6'3" and his arm is fully extended and he still couldn't stretch it up all of the way. The stalk at the bottom of this plant is huge! And the head of the plant weighs about 20 pounds! Amazing - I am constantly amazed at the miracles of nature. Such a tiny seed can produce such a wonderful and enourmous flower!

In other news - we are prepping for West Linn's Arts in the Forest this weekend (August 14 and 15). We are diligently working to make sure that we have lots of great items available. We would love to see as many of our friends as possible. And this show has a great feature - tree dancers - an aerial dance troupe that performs from the tops of the tree in the forest. Very exciting! Time to get back to the garden and the studio!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


When I'm not working my 8-5 job, painting in the studio, getting ready for a sale, filling an order, fixing dinner, cleaning up a mess, taxiing around one of my kids or . . . .???, I find moments of comic relief watching my grandson. This little man is growing so fast and really beginning to explore the world around him.

Would you like to meet his new "best friend"? His toes! It has been so much fun watching him discover these cute little piggies. He grabs his foot, works it into his mouth and spends a moment chewing on them. Then he looses his grip and gives you a big, slobbery smile.

Life is crazy busy. And I love having this little man to help me settle my thoughts and remind me to slow down and enjoy these moments. It really is true what they say . . .the reward for being a parent is becoming a grandparent. I find myself much more willing to forget about the "have tos" when I am in his presence than when I was a mother. I guess I have a better understanding of just how short and precious these moments are and I don't want to miss a single one.

Thanks Cameron for letting be apart of your grand discovery! I can't wait until you are old enough to come play in the studio with me.

Then again - yes I can. It will be here before I know it!