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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Peace and Tidings

1. Whip up 3 gallons of flippin' fantastic carmel corn (check)
2. Wrap the last of the presents (almost check)
3. Load new audio book onto Mr. IPoddy-McPoderkins - that's really his name. (check)
4. Hand-wash my lady-wear (procrastinating)
5. Last and final post office trip before Christmas (check)
6. Pack (yeah right, we don't leave for another 15 hours - plenty of time)

And just like that, Christmas is upon us!

I'll be spending mine in the warm embrace of family, with steaming mugs of hot cocoa, with stories read in my father's voice, with handmade gifts given and received, with sticky buns straight from the oven (please and thank you Mums!), with crackling fires and card games, with the scent of pine and the blue of a California sky.

And for you my friends,
I wish you the best and brightest,
the most merry
of all.

Sending love and light to
one of you,
however you celebrate this season,
- Umber

Thursday, December 17, 2009

They're finally here!


I'm a bad waiter. No, not talking "would you like everything on your baked potato (although I have put in my fair time hauling trays, mixing martinis and arriving home stinking of strawberry margarita - and no, it's not as appealing a stench as it may seem...)," we're talking order something online and why can't it be here ten minutes later? I'm waiting for someone to invent the purchased-goods-teleport-system. But in the meantime I'll tryyyyyyyyyyy to be more patient.

But now you don't have to be! Because my new Postcards are here, approximately 17 days later than they were supposed to be! But here none the less and I'M SO VERY PLEASED WITH THEM! They've got a sturdy weight, a glossy finish and honestly, they just feel good in the hand.

I've popped them right-o into the ol' shop and they are quite beside themselves over how lovely they look propped up along my window ledge while I type.

We're already getting along well,
so you can just imagine how they'll beam up at the postman and sashay their way right into the homes of your penpals!

In other news, if you happen to be in Seattle tonight, drop on by La Familia Gallery. Tonight is the closing reception for the "5 x 5 by Thirty" show, which is where so many of these guys have been hanging out for the past month so you know where I'll be!


Monday, December 14, 2009

An Epic Battle and a Grand UmberDove Winner

The lines have been drawn.
The names have been written.
The jar has been filled.
May the last name still standing (on the desk) win!

The gladiators size each other up, paunches tensed, strategizing.

The first blow is landed!

Through his superior size, Marcus Thai-us wins the first match.

The hunt for a winner (and cat nip, and greenies) is on!

He wastes no time weeding out the week.

Until Maximus Sing-amus regains the pit and takes up his own fight against the paper names.

The tiny folds fall under his claws.

There is no mercy.

But then the victor reveals herself, last paper standing, to great cheers and applause.



Miss Good Girl, drop me an email at with the name of the print you would like as well as the address you'd like it shipped to and I'll send it out pronto!


Because the kitty boys are generally generous sorts (unless we're talking tuna, then it's each for his own) they decided to give a second prize, ONE SET OF THE PHANTOM POSTCARDS WHICH SHOULD BE ARRIVING ANY SECOND NOW** to the soggiest name (eew):


Elly, drop me an email as well and I'll pop those postcards in the mail for you just as soon as they arrive!


And to all my reader-friends who have come out and supported me in the last week, I really can't even thank you enough! You have each, individually, made my days, put a huge smile on my face, encouraged me in this business, and strengthened my faith.

but I'll say it anyways,

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cold SNAP!

There's a strange thing happening out here in ol' North Bend. I think people call it acclimating. I walk out in the mornings, into this wild cold-snap, where "warm" temperatures of 3o degrees are apparently laughable, and watch the patterns of my breathing trace thought bubbles in the sky. My fingertips looked ruddy and chapped, matching my lips, but there is something about that slap of icy air that keeps me coming back for more. I think I kind of like it.

ALSO: Pay no mind to the small vermillion stick in my freeze-dried fingers. It is most certainly not anything that rhymes with "dead ticklish" and even more certainly not something completely devoid of all nutritional value. It's probably just a stick, and a trick of the winter lighting making it appear reddish because I would never be caught with a guilty secret stash of licorice hidden behind the rice cakes and nutella that BC doesn't even know about and that I would sneak in the solitude of bachloretteish afternoons (if, of course, such a thing even existed). So keep moving, nothing more to see here.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sliced Bread doesn't stand a chance!

Are you sitting securely, both feet firmly on the floor, back straight, elbows resting at your side?
Are you holding a steaming beverage, perhaps a perfectly frothed cappuccino or a maté latté?
I suggest you set it down.

Because I have one of the biggest announcements in the history of UmberDove and I'm ready to crack that egg of knowledge all over this blog (confession: I watch more "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" than is good for anyone).

But first, in the name of delayed gratification (which I am most certainly not a fan of, but occasionally enjoy teasing others with it), I want to introduce to you a newcomer to the flock:

"Unexpected Enlightenment" 4"x 4"

I really can't help it. The avian population here plays a very different game that those of the city. Here, good looks don't go as far. To survive these woods one must be terrible clever, surprising innovative, endlessly resourceful, genuinely gracious, and most of all, unshakably faithful. And these birds do it all with song on their black-tipped beaks. Every time I walk these fields I feel I take a chapter in their story, tuck it inside my 27 layers (good Lord it's cold here!), and read it over and over until I begin to understand.

How I love my birds.

That's right!

With great flourish and enthusiasm (drumrolls, snowball-rolls, popcorn ball-rolls), I'd like to introduce to you my brand new Etsy shop:

After much thought, debate, research and preparations, I've decided to open shop WHOOT! offering select prints of my work, original paintings and (as soon as they arrive via stork) collections of postcards. ZING! I couldn't be more excited YIPPADOO! about it (and just in time for the holidays I might add...) as you may be picking up. I'll be spending much of the day today listing up a storm BUT if there is a particular print you'd like to see, just let me know!

To celebrate the grand opening, to thank all of you who have commented in the past, who have emailed words of encouragement and advice, who have supported me in all my ventures, I'd like to offer a contest. All you need to to is leave a comment on this post between now and Sunday December 13th, letting me know that you were here, and I'll drop your name into my fuzzy felted bowl for a random drawing. The lucky little bird whose name is drawn...
will receive
one print
of their choice
from my el shoppo!

I'll be drawing a name on Monday December 14th, so be sure to check back then!

Additionally, for all orders placed this week (Monday December 7th through Friday December 11th), I'd like to offer free shipping! Just leave me a note in the "messages to seller" box that you are a bloggy friend and I'll cheerfully refund you the shipping costs!

What a morning!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Baby it's cold outside

the great white frost-hunter,

- Umber

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

On the Subject of Apronoscity

That may not be a real word.

But I'll tell you what is, or, more exactly, what three real words are:

In case you were wondering, the answer is yes. My needle has been pulling some tricky stunts lately. Just when I think I've got it all figured out, an idea pops into my head and I've got to sweep everything off the table, choose some gaudy thread for experimenting, and create something new. Which is how I recently ended up with an apron-I-love-like-none-other. And wear everywhere.

Sorry Ladies, this one's staying home with me!
But this one is flitting over to my little shop of wonders pronto (or after I finish my turkey sandwich)!

It certainly took me long enough but I've finally begun digging into my precious stash of vintage fabrics. This baby features a charming floral swatch of flour-sack that has passed through the fingers of three generations of my family; my own baby blanket, a patchwork quilt strewn with the most amazing fabrics, includes quite a lot of this exact flour-sack. Cutting into that last remaining scrap of cloth and carefully stitching it, knowing another woman would wear this apron well, felt like the best way I could honor that lineage. I love the idea that years ago, one bit of fabric was used in the kitchen, washed and carefully folded in drawers, only to be cut, quilted and slept under by a child, later to be pressed and stitched into an apron. There is something about that handing down that resonates deeply with me and I understand that history in my bones.

All of that to say, an apron is thing of fabulouscity (also, perhaps not real). Three cheers I say!


The house is so quiet I can hear the buzz of the radiators
The sky offers watery bands of light through a milky gray haze
They break on the white-tipped grass and slide down ivy colored trunks
I feel a bit in a fog myself (12 hour drives will do that to you)
But I'm enjoying the stillness before torrent.

When the crunch of gravel welcomed us home (late, late Sunday night)
I was reminded, yet again, of just how much I have to give thanks for
I could easily begin that list and keep on shouting my thanks for days
What I really want to say
Right here
And right now
Is Thanks to

You, fabulous reader-friends, continually make my days a little bit brighter
Encourage me when I most need it
Make me laugh and snort into my coffee cup
Cause me to marvel and remember the beauty of humankind.

When I began this blog (truly, honestly, I only expected me mum to be reading)
I had no idea the friendships it would lead me to find,
Across town, across this continent, and across the earth
And for that I have no more words
Other than
Thank You
You really do mean the world to me.

Oh yeah.
One more thing:

Paul Bunyan agrees. We're tight like that.

Yeah, that really is the same booted foot in both photos! Trees of Mystery and Paul Bunyan? Sigh, I really do miss California somedays!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Dove has come back to play

What's that you say? It's Tuesday, today? I think it was about this time last week I donned my hermit hat (it happens to be rather fuzzy and orange) painting apron covered with delicious smears of oil, tights layered with knee socks layered with leg-warmers (I like a toasty sort of day) and closed the door on the rest of the world to live in the ebb and flow of my brushes. I also ate too many Club crackers with avocado, but that's a whole different story.

When I finally emerged, sometime around 3pm yesterday, I brought with me a whole family of new paintings.

I'd like you to meet them.

I think you'll get along quite well.

They sing the river song, the tale of dew in the morning and rain come down. They know the quiet secrets of the field after dark, when the city lights fade and the grass blades morn the sun. They remember the fallen, not in sadness but in respect and appreciation, for in nature none go to waste. They know the rhythm of the season, the bounty of the earth, the resilience of the wild. They mark the days with an eye to the barren aspens and the creeping fingers of snow on the mountain. They are Deliberate. They are Purposeful.

Click here to trot on over to my Flickr site and see the individual paintings in all their glory!

Individually they stand alone, each a solitary chapter in the greater narrative of this last month I've spent living in North Bend. Together they tell the tale of my observations, the epiphanies I've had while walking though these forests, the sights that have caught my breath and caused my heart to skip a beat.
They feel Important.
They feel like me.
They are exactly what I want to say right now, right here.

Oh friends, I can not tell you enough how necessary paint is for my soul, how I would simply implode if I could not put these thoughts down on canvas, thus honoring the messages I receive.
It's so good.

And that's the understatement of the year.

- Umber

* If you live in the greater Seattle area I'd LOVE for you to come and see my work in person! This collection of paintings will be shown at La Familia Gallery in December, with the official art opening on December 3rd from 4:30-9:00 (oooh an extended opening! come for art, me, and snacktivities!) *
** To answer the question (as it's been posed) yes, these guys are available for purchase! If you'd like more information on any of these pieces, please feel very free to contact me at umberdove[at] **

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Finch Named Frank

I'd like to tell you a story.

Once, in a magical mountain town, there lived a dovely little gal who resided in the rainfall and ferns. Every sunrise she would throw open the curtains, pull the shades, bid the trees Good Morning and check on the growing pile of pine cones left on her stoop. She brewed her coffee dark but poured in cream, she bundled up her toes but left her fingers exposed. She would sit for hours in front of the windows, watching crystalline droplets catch the light as they slid down lanky branches and understood each one was a profound message. She noted tuffs of moss poking cheekily though the leaves and stubby fir needles glowing blue at the tip, understanding that they were fulfilling their life's purpose by simply being. But most importantly she watched Frank.
Frank was a bit of a rascal (but that only make her love him more), always being scolded by the jays, peeping in on the gal from his side of the window ledge, and playing eagle games with the chickadees. The rain fell thick, the fescue frosted over, and snow capped the peak of the mountain. The gal worried for Frank: would he be warm, would he eat well, would he be safe through the winter (for these were her own fears, manifested and transfered)?
But Frank showed no fear.
For Frank knew something the gal sometimes forgot. Frank's place in life was here and now, Frank's purpose was to be Frank, and because of that, he would make it. Destiny had no time for fear, and certainly no patience for worry because the path was much too long for that. So on the good days, Frank would shake his umber tail feathers just so the gal would see Joy. He would sing with all the bravado he could muster just so the gal could hear Trust. He would preen and leave one snowy plume just so the gal could feel Hope. For Frank's purpose was to be Frank, but it was also to remind the gal. Day in, day out, Frank fulfilled his destiny. And for the gift of Frank, the gal gave thanks.

"A Finch Named Frank" 5"x5"

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How Excited Am I?

Skippetty-Dee! Scoopetty-Doo!
Ok, you get the point.
You need to go here right now.

My UmberDove interview on the Seattlest is live and
running and I'm superiorly pleased!
So chop chop!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Followed by a Post of No Substance Whatsoever

Monday, November 9, 2009

And Now for a Post of Substance

What with all the tra-la-la-ing out to the river, gluttonizing on Autumn foliage and giggling over kitty trees I'm afraid you may think I'm going soft around the edges. I'm now here to offer the rebuttal, to convince you that yes indeed, life here in North Bend consists of far more than wooded frolics and 20 cups of tea in one day (although they both happen - really) and being slightly freaked out by squirrels who look you dead in the eye with an "I mean business" stare (also true).

I've actually been so busy, there may or may not still be cardboard boxes in my living room.

** Side Note **
I decided that today needed to be a heeled-boots-and-pink-prettiness day after I woke up, stumbled into the kitchen, opened the fridge and briefly considered eating nothing but 5-layer bean dip for breakfast. I had to nip that in the bud. Pronto.

As it is already November (rubber boots:homemade cranberry sauce:tall knit cowls), I'm stitching away, adding to the greats found here (they're better than goods) and putting secret gifts away for giving next month. Debuting over in el shoppo, for the first time ever, UMBERDOVE GIFT CERTIFICATES! Don't act like you're not excited, because I know you are! They're a positively perfect way to gift handmade love while simultaneously knowing your privileged giftee is picking out their heart's desire!

In painting news, since it's been a precious long time, I've set up my make-shift-Winter studio in the back of the house (the charmingly rustic studio building - which will be the permanent studio - located in the back, has no heat and these lithe fingers must stay limber enough to hold a brush!). I've a plethora of upcoming shows and a large stack of white canvas sparkling in the light, waiting to be created. Last week I kissed a handful of paintings on their little gessoed heads, wrapped them up with tidy labels, told them to be safe, then shipped them out to Florida for a December show (Aqua Art Miami ** whoot!).

The shelves in my studio-room are becoming jam-packed with tiny canvases, loads of 5" squares jostling shoulders as they vie for attention. Leaves and feathers tumble with tally marks and rings, bird skulls, hollow rabbits, and ghostly antlers all share space, simultaneously nodding to religious iconography and the early American surrealist movement. This place is so full of inspiration, I feel that I can hardly scribble down a single idea before ten more are crowding my head. Every time I walk the trails out back I see moss covered maples (totems), ferns pressing upward (arms lifted in praise), fallen birds (tributes to the cyclical nature of life), clouds on the horizon (all that is still hidden) and blazes of sunlight (blessing on my face). I see my lines reflected in the river currents, my words written in bare branches, my movements in the toss and flip of leaves. I often feel torn: it's hard to be inside looking out at all there is to observe, but as soon as I'm out, I only want to feel the paintbrush, solid in my grip.

The longer I sit, the more I think about this thing I do, the more certain I am that my path is steady underfoot. That's not to say it's easy; sometimes the fog rolls in thick and the rains blind me. But I know it's my path, and I must pull on my boots and walk.

Adieu my friends,
- Umber

Shameless (or shameful) Desire

Image by Pet Tree Houses, listed here.

1. I have a shamelessly codependent relationship with my kitty boys.
2. I hate cat decor.
3. I love trees.
4. If you happen to be driving cross country, Florida to Washington, would you pretty please pick this up for me? I can pay you in gin and tonic.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Friday Confessinal: Friday November 6th

*** (this photo is here for a reason, promise - see below) ***

Confession Number 754: I am a terrible lookie-loo. I don't mean to be, but I see such amazing sights and want to really SEE them and I sorta forget everything I'm doing in order to give said sight my full attention. Here's what I'm talking about:

Last weekend as we drove home on All Hallow's Eve I nearly caused my husband to crash our car three times. Each time it went something like this:
Talking talking, mid-sentence...
Silence and WHIP CRACK my head around to look at something outside the window
[BC breaks hard to ensure we're not about to be run down by the ghost train]
"What? What?"
"No, it's okay" I say, "it was just a huge Elk cow standing right over there. I just wanted to look at her. Keep driving, it's cool."


"No, no, I'm sorry, I did it again, didn't I? There was just a buck on the shoulder and he hardly flinched as we drove past. He was beautiful, but yeah, no, keep going, everything is okay."


"Oh! I thought I saw a bobcat! But it's gone now, don't worry about it."

It makes him a little crazy when I do this, but I really can't help myself. Plus my eyesight is better so I figure I should look double and then I can tell him about it. Plus I'm an artist so I tell myself that it's Important and Necessary for me to look at anything that could possible one day inspire me (like today). So maybe this isn't so much a confession today as it is a justification. Yeah. That's right.

*** Thank God I now live in a town with a population of only 3000! I was innocently driving my car along when the neon moose yelled at me (You! Take my picture! Now!) so I obediently rolled my car to a quick stop in the very middle of the road, rolled down the window, hung out from the torso up and took a whole series of neon and fog. Hallelujah, praise be, I was not run down by any angry hipsters in hybrids! ***

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Heart North Bend

Can I photographically gush for a bit on how enamored I am with my little town?

I am the girl who, two weeks into a relationship, decides she has fallen in love. I'm a fool for the turning tide of Autumn, the marriage of cold air and rosy cheeks, the sweep of fog across the valley and the break of sunlight dancing on dew. I walk outside and fill my lungs with the scent of our affair. I fill my hands with the colors of fire and twirl my fingertips along trails of moss. I'm a hopeless romantic when it comes to these things and they know it.