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Friday, December 19, 2008

When One is Officially Snowed In

Seattle has been transformed.  And the city has no idea what to do with itself (we're talking major shutdowns, the entire school system, seventy percent of the public transportation, several bridges) so it has released its residents out to play.

We trekked up to our favorite breakfast haunt along with approximately half the population of Seattle, jostling padded elbows and winking festively under beanies.  I had the Rainbow Rumble (an appropriate name for the hippy veggie dish) and he had the Daily Special.  We laughed with total strangers over snowball fights, chatted with a 3 year old on telemark skies, and cheered on the brave (and by brave I mean foolish) souls who sledded down the steepest street on nothing more than a cardboard box.  

Jovial doesn't even quite cover it.

I've decided that I love the snow.

Like, "if you love it so much, you should marry it."

I think I might take it on as a mister.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Midnight Romps


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmafication Part One

Hi.  I've been a bit delinquent, but honestly, I think some caped crusader came in and stole the entire last week from me.  I remember being busy, and eating some really great cheese, and watching one spectacular sunset while I jogged the ridge of Capitol Hill (my neighborhood here in Seattle), but other than that, I really don't know what happened.

Except that my home has suddenly been Christmafied and every morning I wake to the glorious scent of a fresh fir tree wafting its spicy goodness throughout the house.

An ever wise friend joined in on the decorating fun and pointed out that I should have an entire tree in my home at all times, year-round.  I tend to agree.  It fits my redwood soul and makes these plaster walls feel so much more alive.

I love these mountains.  
The far-reaching marine layer from the Puget Sound wraps its tendrils over the hilltops even in the hight of summer and there is a stillness in the trees that always quiets my heart.

We gratefully accepted our complimentary hot cocoa, and then went back for sneaky seconds, and then took a hot cider for the road.  Scandalous!

And then, I went out for a spot of urban foraging, harvesting two full bags of cedar and fir boughs 
from the surrounding blocks.

Ahhhh, Christmas!  How I love you and all of your scenty, delectable ways!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I tell myself that I am a morning person.  And I DO love waking before the rest of the world, when the sunlight is watery and the birds are just beginning to shuffle about.  I love the ridiculous productivity that can happen before 10:00 am, the feeling of actually wanting lunch at noon (rather than around 4:00, which is when I usually tear myself away to eat) and feeling that the day has been full by the time the sun sets.

But the truth is, I can not keep myself from working late into the night, sipping on a tiny glass of Amaretto, pencils flying, fingers (and wrists and forearms) covered in sticky, glue-like matte medium, Jack Johnson strumming in the background and my terrariums keeping watch like portly soldiers.

These are both in progress (I know, I know, how many "in progress" items can one gal have?) but I've been enjoying working on these the last few nights.  Part collage, part watercolor, soon to be mounted on panel and covered in a thick, protective layer of resin, they are loose stories of small discoveries made while walking through my neighborhood.

So the question is, are you a morning bird or a night owl?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

And so The Rainfall begins

So I know I've been on a bit of a kick with the videos so please forgive me (I plan on blaming it on my mother - she likes them because she gets to see me in action precious little - I love you Mum!).  BUT I was just starting a new painting in the studio yesterday and thought it might be interesting to record just how I attack (in the outpouring of creative energy) the canvas on day one.

As a total side note, do you know where the Umber of UmberDove comes from?  Now that I've officially published my website, I suppose the cat is out of the bag and I can let you in on the secret of half of my pseudonym.  I do not think a painting has ever, in the history of my oils and myself, gone without this particular luscious shade of deep, cool earthy brown.  And as a side note to the side note, I DO squeeze my toothpaste from the middle and it DOES look just like those tubes of paint in the background.  BC and I have come to a truce on it.  Which basically means once a week I painstakingly squeeze it all up to the top, rolling the flattened base like someone who is far more left-brained than myself.  But back to the real story.

The working (a.k.a. unofficial) title of this painting is "The Rainfall."  The last, larger painting, "The Inheritance" is still coming along but I had an experience this past weekend that had stuck in my head on repeat and I knew I need to get it down on canvas.  I feel pretty clear about the direction of the painting, but as they all go, there are many more layers to be put down, many more hours to spend with it, and many long meditative looks to give it.  The process in this video will be repeated (entirely) in about 48 hours, scraping and blending to create a ground of pure mottled color seamlessly flowing upon which to begin the "real" painting.

So, The Rainfall.  Day one.

And when it rained
The insects sang.
A primal chant of
Wing beats and
Thorax stomps

Antenna beseeching the heavens.

A melancholy pulse
Detritus laid out upon the altar 
Fog rising as burnt offering
Manna falling from the sky.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

On Gratitude and Gizzards

A List of Thanks that I have to give 
(plus one video to offer you the gift of laughing at me).
1) For Terrariums inside (yep, still really excited about them), for green moss outside that covers the cold concrete of my city like balm.
2) For the cold snap of November that chills my fingers and scratches my throat but makes me feel alive.
3) For hot tea in handmade mugs.
4) For two furry little kitty boys who know just when to snuggle up and offer the love, purring away to ease my mind.
5) For a studio space that is all my own, for painting, for writing, for thinking.
6) For healthy, beautiful relationships with family, with friends, with my husband.
7) For inspiration in its myriad of forms, that never leaves me.
8) For radiant heat, toasty on the frostiest nights.
9) For the crows whose harsh calls speak to me of melancholy beauty and the chickadees whose trilling songs bring a sly grin to my mouth.
10) For new gloves in a crisp hounds-tooth print.
11) For being a regular at the very best cappuccino stand in the city.
12) For my first gallery show in Seattle this year.
13) For take-out sushi and cheap steaming bowls of pho, and the conversations BC and I have shared over both.
14) For friends I have made in the last year, who have touched my soul, honored my moods, laughed at my jokes and celebrated my successes - whom I have still never stood face to face with.

Please PLEASE forgive me this terrible sideways video.  I spent far too long on the computer this morning trying to turn it right but only succeeded in removing all the volume - and believe me, the soundtrack is worth saving!  This was BC and my first time hosting Thanksgiving back in 2002 and believe me, I've come a loooong way!

15) Not having to prepare the turkey this year!

Ok, Whatever you eating, whoever you are sharing it with, I wish you the very most peaceful day of thanks and remembrance of blessings!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

All the Way from Australia!

My mail swap package just arrived in the post! Well, technically my dear mailman gave his typical resounding door knock (I know his knock, and always come running to greedily snap up any packages he brings) and left me this colorful little box.  Just to catch you up, a little while back The Wind Hover proposed an alphabet themed mail swap which I jumped on (due to my previously mentioned ravenous love of mail).  The packages were mailed out last week, and lickity split, mine just arrived all the way from The Wind Hover herself full of the letter B."

It was a very blue package, full of bookmarks and butterflies, blue pens and buttons (oh the hedgehog one is my very favorite!), bookplates and birthday books.  But I think my favorite of all, and the one I will be using ALL the time is my new yoga bag with printed bicycles.

Thank you so much my dear Windy Hoverings!  I love the work of your hands and this gift has absolutely made my day.  Now on to Sun Salutations and Warrior Poses!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Birth of a Mosserrarium

And then I made two more.

That's just how I am.  Something grabs me, and I become a complete maniac, forgoing food, sleep, drink, everything in favor of the creative pursuit that is [obviously] the most important thing in my entire life [right at that second].  The only reason I stopped this afternoon was that I ran out of appropriate containers (I was faced with either eating an entire jar of pickles or stepping back and resuming breathing.  I chose breath - but not because I don't like a good kosher dill!).  I think the entire neighborhood must think I'm a nut job.  
"There goes that tall girl again, always digging around in other people's yards, dragging home sticks and containers of dirt, scooping up moss with her big metal spoon, squatting on the sidewalk looking at dead birds, wearing crazy outfits and talking to the chipmunks."

But really.  The idea of making terrariums has been kicking around my head for the past three years or so - from an early issue of Domino Magazine featuring "alternative" house plants (although I do think that some of my neighbors think all that).  And sometime over the Summer, terrarium making exploded on Etsy; you can't click on the front page more than once in any given day without a mossy little bundle staring you in the face. Finally (like I really needed anymore encouragement) I had a chat with a certain boisterous little bird whose love for her own little climate-controlled garden convinced me I could wait no longer.  The rest, well, you've already seen it. 

BC better watch out.  
And eat some more pickles.

Tweetle-dee my mossy little friends!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Kelly likes Billy

I have a new crush.  His name is Billy.  I keep sneaking off for quick rendezvous in the afternoon when I'm supposedly working and slipping in just a few minutes with him just before bed.  

Did I mention he's a poet?

And just to be truthful, I've never met him, only his books, but I am infatuated with his stories.  So I thought, on this rather melancholy Tuesday that we were all in need of a spot of poetry, especially one to grin and snort over (which I do every time I read this particular one).  

The Country

I wondered about you
when you told me never to leave
a box of wooden, strike-anywhere matches
lying around the house because the mice

might get into them and start a fire.
But your face was absolutely straight
when you twisted the lid down on the round tin
where the matches, you said, are always stowed.

Who could sleep that night?
Who could whisk away the thought
of the one unlikely mouse
padding along a cold water pipe

behind the floral wallpaper
gripping a single wooden match 
between the needles of his teeth?
Who could not see him rounding a corner,

the blue tip scratching against a rough-hewn beam,
the sudden flare, and the creature
for one bright, shining moment
suddenly thrust ahead of his time - 

now a fire-starter, now a torchbearer
in a forgotten ritual, little brown druid
illuminating some ancient night
Who could fail to notice,

lit up in the blazing insulation,
the tiny looks of wonderment on the faces
of his fellow mice, onetime inhabitants
of what once was your house in the country?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Chocolate frosting under my nails
Wet sand stuck to my toes
One feather worn behind my ear
Unruly hair tossed in the breeze

The sun and I played hooky today
Leaving November to finish our chores

I read poetry to him 
While he stretched out across the sand
Stories of benevolent gods, aging bikers,
the baths of Istanbul, and one roadkill badger

We vowed not to loose ourselves again
In the flurries of seasons
Swore on a slice of driftwood
That I held tight in my fist

And the Winner is...

Jenn, lovely Jenn, congratulations!  I tried to be fair and wrote every one's name down on little snips of paper but Thai, he just insisted on picking out the winner (and I think he has a little kitty-boy crush on you anyways!) and he picked you!  I'll be sure to bundle up your new calendar with lots of love and send it your way in hopes of a brilliant year ahead.

Seriously, I had such cheeriness yesterday reading all your comments and [truly amazing] emails [that made me want to cry in joy].  I was so distracted all day by the magnetic pull of my computer that I barely managed to put in a full day of work.  BUT, I can think of no better audience to share with than you, and so I am grateful.


To further the fun, I decided to do another special treat this weekend for my beloved bloggie friends.  From now (the wee hours of Saturday morning, Nov 15th) until Sunday night (November 16th), when you purchase one of the Oh-So-Fabulous 2009 UmberDove Calendars, leave me a love note in the "message to seller" box saying you've read my blog and receive free shipping (which I will refund to you promptly via your paypal).

Ok friendly friends, the bewitching hour is long past and this Dove needs her beauty sleep (and please do excuse me for any horrible typos, my fingers are two steps ahead of my eyelids tonight...).

Sweet Dreams,

Friday, November 14, 2008

Drum Roll Please...

Oy! So much excitement is crackling in the air here! The calendar will be officially for sale in my little shop o' wonders as soon as I tackle the rest of the photography but I just couldn't wait any longer to give you the sneak peeks.

And the big news, yes mame, the website. I swear to you, there is nothing more sure to cause the grandest of elation and the surest of panic attacks than publishing a website to, well, EVERY ONE. There are still a few tweeks to be tweeked, and a few more paintings waiting for their photo shoots but my heart is full up to bursting (and it just might! It's that kind of excitement where you just don't know what to do with yourself and NO ONE is answering their phones, not even your mother and you tell your bestest man and he says "yes, I'm really excited too and I have been sitting here the entire time and I do know all about it, yes even how you changed the color of that one font..." Ok, sorry, regaining control). But seriously, you should take a look (not a peek, but a loooooooooook) because these paintings, this outpouring of my soul, this voluntary sharing of my heart, is who I am on the very deepest level of self.

So with out further ado,

So here is the way things will be going down: Just leave me a comment (and no anonymous comment bombers either, after all, how will I let you know when you win?) saying that you stopped by today, Friday November 14th and you will be entered into the drawing for a free UmberDove 2009 Calendar. That's it. Well almost. You will need to come back by tomorrow (Saturday November 15th) because I'll be announcing the winner. Cross your fingers, toss some salt and good luck!

Wishing you all the swiftest of Fridays and plenty of smooches,