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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lodi Part II

On Sunday we took a little family outing to Apple Hill, home of everything one could possibly create from the humble apple.

Here is a list of my consumption for the day (I kid you not).
1) Apple Donut
2) Apple Fritter (well only like a 1/4 of one but it still counts)
3) Apple Cider
4) Samples of Apple jelly and apple butter
5) Turkey sandwich (ok, but I had to eat something else!)
6) Jack Russel Apple Ale (yeah, beer made from barley AND apple juice)
7) Apple crisp
8) Apple pie
9) Last but not least, a Winesap apple dipped in peanut butter
10) A second apple donut

The caramel apple I saved for later.

And now here I am, back home in Sunny Seattle (it actually is today), sleeping off my self-induced sugar-coma. Happy Fall, Friends!

Friday, October 24, 2008

In my sudden (and highly typical) gusts of whirling activity I forgot to tell you all that I was leaving town for the bright lights of Lodi, California (in case you don't know Lodi, which you most probably do not, bright lights is a bit of an overstatement. Ok, not even a bit. A huge overstatement. As in NOTHING is open past 7:00pm. Takes some getting used to when you generally hit up late night happy hours after the moon rises). But it is where I did most of my growing up, and the nostalga of flat fields covered in grapevines and the musky scent of live oaks feels as familiar as a well-loved blanket.

I'm sitting here in the cool and quiet of my parents house but wanted to share a few images of what will always be home.

Tangerines, ripening for Christmas.

Yvette, Queen Silky Chicken.

The biggest jumping spider I have ever seen.

Good ol' Saint Frank watching over the animals.

Feral bunnies in the brambles, greeting me on my evening run.

A collection of cans.

I hope you all find a spot of peace this weekend, in the sun, the snow or the sprinkles.
Mine will be here.

- Umber

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I have a Dream

And in that dream every item in my house (save the really mundane stuff like T.P.) will have been created, willingly, by human hands. I want to strip away the unnecessary clutter, the pointless accumulation of "stuff" (what is that anyways? It just appears and steals my air) and keep only the objects that are marked with a fingerprint and continually bring me to grinning. While this does make my kitchen a treacherous place for doing the dishes, I find so much magic in using / wearing / holding objects that forever retain a slice of their creator's energy and love. It reminds me to appreciate the creator and not just the object.

Breakfast (after a rather rocky start to my day) was as pleasing as could be, warming me up from toes to heart, because *almost* everything here (save my massive mug from the unmentionable Buck with a Star first) passed through my fingers in it's creation.

From the left:
1) Cotton napkin silk screened with my "new growth" print.
2) Blue and turquoise patchwork coasters, my first foray into free-hand "quilting."
3) Brown bowl, thrown, fired and glazed with the far-away-but-close-hearted Ville-ette.
4) Brown plate and bright yellow bowl, thrown, carved, fired and glazed with my soul-friend Ti.
5) Slice of bread, Honey Whole Wheat baked last night in my typical late-night-baking-frenzy.
6) Jams, Raspberry (my own, from last week's final berry crop) on one half and Concord Grape on the other from the kitchen at Plume Gables.
7) Wearing my olive green Swallow t-shirt from Mister Wizbang.

I tell you this really just to share my little joys and to encourage everyone (well before Consumer Season 2008 hits) to look around your home, find something you love that bears the print of it's maker, and give thanks for that person today.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

While we're on the subject

Last week when my lovely Plume wrote a blog post about her own inspiration, she really set me to thinking.

I find it necessary to look. To really stop in your tracks, not just give a courtesy slow-down, but simply look without analyzing or chatting or making judgment calls. I can not turn this constant "looking" off, it is an unquenchable thirst and I am always drinking it in.

(As a side note: Did you know the average amount of time an American spends looking at a painting is eleven seconds? And that's the painting, out of all the others in the gallery/museum/etc, that peaked their interest, that they veered towards and stopped in front of. Eleven seconds. Not much can be truly absorbed in eleven seconds.)
I am fascinated with trees, their roots, rings, leaves, the idea of life that began long before my own and will continue long after I have returned to dust. The light that falls just before dusk and holds the world in a surreal glow wrenches my heart nightly; the crows that cry out in guttural tones speak to my soul of sweet bitterness and elegant melancholy.

Narcissistic as it may sound, I believe I receive personal blessings every day in the form of chickadees that have chosen my tree, the compositions of color that align in the foliage as I walk through my neighborhood, the seasonal cycles that parade across my open windows. I know when I walk through a field, the crickets sing a little louder because they know I am listening and the trees send down their most perfect golden leaves to share with me.

I find that if you really look, really listen, nature will reward that unexpected act of humility. And that reward will be the riches of inspiration that well up and flow from your heart and fingertips. Inspiration never dries up because there is always some new beauty the Earth is giving birth to. Sometimes it is fickle, and sometimes we are too busy, too fast, too burdened to lift our eyes without vision blurred with tears but inspiration never abandons us.

We each have our own gifts, our own set of lenses through which to see the world, and while not trusting in our own ideas may be the largest crime of a lifetime, believing in them enough to breathe life into them is easily the largest blessing.

And that, my loves, my friends, is why I create.


- Umber

Sunday, October 12, 2008

And who doesn't like mail?

I'm going to go out on a limb and just assume that if you are a blog reader (uhm, yep) then you are probably also the type of person who likes real mail. Not the value packs (although I do abuse the weekly offering of discounted Indian food with shocking regularity) or the phone service offers but the real post. When you open the mail box and the bright corner of a hand written envelope with a real stamp wiggles it's way out of the masses of mundane business and absolutely makes your day. I am a huge sucker for mail. It's one of my favorite things. Period.

I think that might explain part of my love of etsy purchasing; when the goods arrive I can make a whole party out of opening the box, reading little handwritten notes, unwrapping my new self-present.

I love simple pleasures.

SOoooo in light of all that, the most beautiful gypsy-Aussie I know, The Wind Hover, has proposed a Real Mail Swap and I'm here to push it. You must visit her blog, right here, to get all the details but the short story is this: Let Miss Windy know and you will be assigned a mailing partner and a letter of the alphabet. You then put together a little package based on that letter and send it off with lots of love and wait anxiously for your own package to arrive. Brilliant. AND Miss Windy has given the option of international exchange OR just keeping it in your own country so you really have no excuse to not partake.

And if you do not join in, then you will not have the possibility of receiving my package, which you know is gonna be good!

Monday, October 6, 2008

A New Do

Well? Whose going to make the first zebra print comment? I dare you!

The past two days I have logged some serious hours sitting in a stylist chair, offering up my tender head to a barrage of high pony tails, curling irons and (get ready for it...) a thick mass of blonde extensions. And all for a friend of a friend who really is going to be one of the next big high fashion hair designers (He is in his final stage of his acceptance onto one of the most forward thinking teams Seattle has to offer).

He's giving me the hair-color-itch, what with the MANE of hair I'm sporting right now and the bright blonde bits perking up a rainy afternoon.

In other news, I've found a blissful amount of peace in these last few days between the soul cleansing Fall rain and the hours I've spent in my studio working steadily (you may not know it, but I have rather high strung self, always moving, working, checking off that dread mental list that never ends, only able to come down with concentrated mental effort). The rain, that official marker of Autumn, has come sashaying down my street in a whirl of colored leaves and a brisk wind that dares to flip up the ladies' skirts.

I once had a dear friend tell me (back when I lived in sunny California) that springtime in Seattle would break my heart. She was close, but it is Autumn that awakes something primal in my soul and makes me want to fling all the windows open to the elements. I am residing in small corner of heaven on my earth, somewhere between the turning cherry blossoms tree and violet storm clouds.

I hope this Autumn allows you to shake off the vestments you no longer need and prepare for the most restful hibernation ever.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

And now for something completely new

After a long, chaotic, beautiful, relentless, draining, and yet energizing month (that some people like to refer to as September) I finally got back into my studio today. Yep, it had been almost a full month since I last held my brushes and honestly, I'm not sure how I did not implode.

But I made it. And this afternoon my oils felt like the sweetest balm, my brushes sturdy in my hand, and my thoughts decisive and sure. It felt so right.

So I made a new decision, and set up the very first ever [time lapse] video of me, painting in my studio. This painting, whose working title is "The Inheritance," is about half done (so keep that in mind!). Today was the first day of detail work but there is still a long way to go and much more to paint. I continued on for another couple hours after this video - which just happens to be the exact time length as 10,000 Maniacs "Live in New York" - so if you see my open mouth belting out tunes you can bet it's either "Eat for Two" or "Hey Jack Kerouac" (hey, I already told you that in my world I sound just like Miss N. Merchant!).

So with out further ado, here is,

"The Inheritance"

She has always been there
At my back
Darkness strips none of Her glory
Fear can not exist and
burdens do not lap Her
For She radiates life in the deep
She is my estate,
My inheritance

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Change

October 1st, a new beginning. And the end, the end of a month-era that has been a greater success than I had seen coming.

1. Sept 28 - 2:34, 2. Greenery, 3. Good morning sunshine, 4. 9/24

All of you beautiful people who participated in the 30 Days of Self, well, I really fell in love with you this month. You can truly have no idea how your photos affected me with joy and laughter, sorrow and heaviness, inspiration and contemplation but know that I appreciate each and every one of you.

1. sp-30, 2. London Bridge l, 3. Day 23 - sitting in a tree, 4. Telling waters

The art of finding beauty in my own skin has been a tricky path. I hope that this comradery, this searching for beauty and sharing of life details has been as good for you as it has for me.

So all that is left to say is thank you.

You are beautiful souls.