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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

And the winner is...

[timing disclaimer]
Well my friends, today my internet provider and I have heartily disagreed on what constitutes "high speed internet."  Apparently Mr. Internet is still on winter holiday, and doing business only via his smart phone between pinã coladas on a beach somewhere that is most certainly NOT in my house.  So here it is, high time for dinner (tamale pie to ward off the December chill) and I finally have a little video to share...

I honestly think this has been the richest giveaway contest in the history of UmberDove: reading through all the celebrations your lives has upped the anti on the incredible sense of community I feel in the bloggy world.  It has given me cause to remember joys I'd not consciously celebrated and revel in the shared experienced we have (and by "we" I really do mean me and YOU).  I've had a perma-grin settled on my cheeks every time I've opened my laptop.

I'd like to host a giant tea/booze party and invite you all over for fresh guacamole, persimmon cookies, and oreo truffles just so I could sit and hear the stories pouring from your lips.

I loved it.
Really LOVED it.

So without further ado, here we have the winner-winner...

In case you have not watched the bit of silliness above, the absolute random winner of the Dwell Stone Giveaway is...
Nancy, my friend, wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-hooo!  I'll have this beauty fluttering cross country right to your door step!
And to everyone else who commented, thank you from the upper right chamber of my beating heart for sharing with me!

All that said,
I'm back to my own winter holiday and way too many pieces of toffee!  I've family in town through the weekend so I'll be largely off the interwebs and enjoying their company until next week soooooooo...

See you then and
HAPPY 2011!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A quick extension of the GIVEAWAY!

Good Tuesday to you Post-Holiday Birds!

A very quick note to say I've had to postpone the official declaration of a winner in the CELEBRATION GIVEAWAY until tomorrow, Wednesday December 29th.  That said, if you've not left a comment entering yourself and sharing what you're celebrating, then hustle those little mousey-pointer-fingers down the computer screen and leave me a comment (as I'm extending the deadline until midnight tonight)!

Supah Tighty.
- Umber -

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Date for an Update

Dwelling Stone No. 1

Dwelling Stone No. 2

Rudy Russet Feather Sea Stone

Stone Whitetail Antlers

These next two are part of my "The Physicality of Words" Series, taken very directly from one of my best loved phrases, a phrase I continually cling to, a phrase I wear like a mantra, a phrase for which there is no tidy English translation from the original Vietnamese (so please forgive my bumbling explaination). 
Buong Xa Di
"Exhale the negativity within you, which hinders the Spirit, in order to make room for creative growth"
Now honestly, have you ever heard such a beautiful, hopeful phrase in all your years?  One of these days I plan to wear it low along my left arm, to be reminded with every movement of every brush, every flick of the wrist to exhale.
Exhale Stone No. 1

Exhale Stone No. 2

These pieces and a few others will be winding their way into the Shop-a-roo tomorrow morning, Monday December 20th, around 11:00 PST.  Each of these sea stones are available as Reserves, if one belongs to you, just drop me an Etsy convo right here.  

In other news, I had a delicious date with my BC last night, part of our own celebration for the end of chemotherapy.  I swilled a gin martini with a lime twist and got tipsy under the twinkling Christmas lights of 153 year old building with my man.  
Woke up this morning, felt fabulous.

How was your weekend?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

GIVEAWAY of Celebrations and thoughts on Dwelling

Well first things first.
I'm here, in my local laundry mat (which I love, I should mention) and apparently, Saturday night is Abba Night.  It rocks my socks (every last pair) and makes me want to pop a huge bowl of popcorn and watch Mama Mia for the bazillionth time.

Ok, now more Important things second.
You know that giveaway I keep mentioning, dangling from the pitch of my long limbs like a tasty treat?  LET'S DO IT NOW!

This stone, which is no small token - over six inches in length, is for you.  
She is dear to me.
I'll just say that for starters.


I've been thinking, meditating, reminding myself constantly of late on Dwelling.  In the long lifetime that this last year has been, there have been too many moments where something in me sprinted ahead of my present time, to every last (and often worst) possibility, dragging my head in places it never belonged.  I think it is in our very human nature to dream, but the antithesis to that is our nature to worry.  We have these built-in mechanisms for brilliant reasons, to protect us, to help us plan for the future, to propel us forward on our individual paths and the grand highway that is mankind.
But flying into the future is not always healthy for our hearts.  Sometimes we forget that we are where we are, right now, right here.  And this place, where our soles rest on the ground and our lungs pull in air is exactly where we need to be.  To dwell in the present.  To see the true nature of what surrounds us in the current second.  To be present with our bodies, our hearts, our laughter, our tears.

I say these things to you as no expert on the matter.  Rather, I paint these words because I need my hands to spell out a physical reminder.  Again and again, and no doubt, I'll need to again in the future.  Which means to me, that I'm not the only one craving that reminder.
We strive to Dwell.
Here and Now.

Giveaway Rules?
This time it's as simple as can be: just leave a comment below telling me ONE thing in your life you're celebrating right now.  I'm going to be a stickler on it, no celebration, no entry!  Entries close at midnight PST on Monday December 27th 2010 (after I return from celebrating Christmas!).  I'll announce the winner on Tuesday December 28th.

Now.  It's time for me to wiggle my nose like Mary Poppins and watch the laundry fold itself then settle into place on best behavior.
Ship Shape!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Sketchbook Writings

Somedays I just chat in my sketchbook, keeping a record of sorts.  Today was one of those kind of days.

- From my sketchbook writings, December 16th, 2010 -
Today the sea offered up a veritable smorgasbord of color and texture, along with a fine grit of salt to line my lips.  I felt like the month of April was vacationing on the coastline, taking a break from anywhere that utters the words "deep freeze," so I gladly traded out my jacket for a pashmina, stripped off my gloves, rolled up my sleeves and bade it please, please warm my skinny forearms.  The sea stone cache was so grand that two exceptional things happened: 1) A trip to the car was required, as I was dragging a fully laden bag, only to empty it to the floorboards and walk directly back to the shoreline for more. 2) The second bag, filled to bursting, gave up on this life and loosed itself from the shoulder strap in a huge tumble of noise and chaos.  How great is a haul that breaks the back (or strap) of the bag that carried it?  I take this as a sign of overwhelming bounty, absolutely topped off with fresh material.  I want to lodge my soul firmly in this place, to line my thoughts with a tapestry woven from seaweed and sword ferns.

I adore this tiny cafe, in this tiny town, nearly airplane sized but with a heart of pure gold.  As I sit scratching away in this book of mine, the bubbly barista in the enviable stockings pronounces to a [traveling] patron that they have no paper togo cups, reason being that he has now stepped into the land of tree-huggers and would he like to purchase a mason jar for his coffee.  I'm quite content in this land, drinking my tea from a well-used hunk of ceramic, nibbling on a homemade lemon bar, my mood matching the sunshine splashed up the walls.  I sip more maté and contemplate taking home a raw, vegan cinnamon roll made by someone up the lane named Joe.  I just feel good.  Which is the most simplistic set of words to describe the state of my heart, the color of the light pouring from my sternum, the downy wings I'm pretty sure are sprouting from my spine.  


I'm thinking about Dwelling.  
I have new work to show you.
I have a new piece almost ready to reveal.
Did I mention I'm painting it for you?
In celebration, in a giveaway
because there is SO much in my life worth celebrating.
(yep. More on that tomorrow after my final post-chemo appointments)

Oh yeah, this funky beat is what I'm sliding my brushes to today. 
"Wont wont wont ba da ta da"
(this is exactly the sound coming out of my mouth)
(also I shake my shoulders with some SOUL when I chair dance)

- Umber

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Week in Five Senses

Something in me is filling up.

I debated this morning about giving you the minute by minute commentary (or at least some abbreviated version) but in better judgement decided to share the distilled essences that my five senses experienced.

~ Scent ~
The heady pungence of cedar essential oil
The warmth of leather (and more leather, and then some more leather)
The tang of salt water atomized by pounding surf
Fresh coffee at dawn

~ Taste ~
Spicy winter squash pilled with arugula
Cardamom ice cream
Blueberry buttermilk muffins dampened by rain
Spring rolls dipped in peanut sauce


~ Touch ~
Damp, gritty wood in a duck blind
Hot tea to-go cupped between my fingers
Solid, heavy handled butter knives
The suppleness of elk hide

~ Sight ~
Eye contact with a lone coyote
The hills of California greener than Ireland could ever boast
Walls painted in Caribbean Blue 
The richness of fall leaves still in full color

~ Sound ~
The hooting of owls at dusk
Allison singing in the shower
The dull thud of a rubber mallet on leather tools
The scratch of pencil on paper in the otherwise silent night


All that to say,
Something in me is filling up.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Now I promised I wouldn't leave you without a little eye candy before I left for the salt waters of Tomales Bay and the chai at the Bovine Bakery, so here I am to deliver!
Taking Pause
Linen and Cotton, 12"x18"

One Fine Day
100% Linen (primarily reclaimed and recycled), 12"x18"

Long Walks in a Small Town: Teasel Edition
100% Linen  16"x16

These next three pieces are new delectables for me: Filled to the brim with organic buckwheat hulls and a hearty helping of organic lavender grown right here on my little stretch of the California coast, they weigh in with a satisfying heft and rustling that holds a bit of ocean magic.  In short, they smell like heaven.  Heaven in Provence with a sheer linen skirt and a broad brimmed hat and the scent of purple heady in the air.  Breath deep.  Then breath again.

Sleeping on Wings
100% Linen, 10"x14"
Filled with Organic Buckwheat Hulls and Organic Local Lavender

Everyone will be listed in the textile shop this afternoon!
After lunch that is.
As I'm dressed so fine in my new scarflace and matching sunny earings, BC just offered up a sushi date!  I'm a weak woman when it comes to the spicy tuna so I'm tugging on my Wellies and will be back shortly.
Ciao Bellas e Bellos!
I'm off to get my miso on!

~ P.S. ~
As a business side note, I DO accept reserves on any and all pieces I feature on my blog EXCEPT those expressly labeled "no reserves."  It's a first come-email, first served-reserved situation around here, so don't be shy if you know a bit of textile love belongs to you!  Drop me an Etsy Convo right here... 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Start of Something New

I'm growing new wings.


I've been molting for months, shedding little bits of me, sloughing them off in the rain, leaving markers scattered behind everywhere I travel.  My skin feels bright pink and a little raw, sensitive to the crystalline winds that carry sea salt up and over the bluffs.  This is, after all, the very nature of regeneration.  And what is this time but intense regeneration; the death of the damaged and dangerous [cells], the birth of the new, fresh, hopeful.

Cellular renewal.  
Two words I believe in as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow.


I'm a strong believer in chapters of life.  We live a period of time in one place, be it mentally or physically, with certain trials that develop our character, new actors that enter at a pivotal scene, a climax that engulfs us and then,
the chapter closes with a few choice words.  
Sometimes we feel it immediately, sometimes it takes the wisdom of hindsight, but either way what once was has passed.  And when we flip that page, blotting out the translucence of yesterday, a clean space and a boldly written title mark the start of something new.  The story has yet to be written, and although the first few sentences illuminate the way, the path is unknown and therefore can be full of possibilities.

Today, I can't help but feel this chapter winding down.  I'm tempted to skim ahead and see what lies next, to speed read (as I do far too often in my own excitement), but life doesn't exactly work that way.  The side effects from this last round are still heavy in my body, but I'm eagerly fingering that dogeared corner, ready to smooth that page flat and see what happens next.  I think Thursday might be the start.  I know how silly that sounds, pinpointing a day still in the future to mark the passage of time, but I think that's the date.  I'm taking a short trip to one of the places on this earth I love best, meeting up with a friend who is quickly becoming entwined in my soul and painting the town bright cherry red.  HUGELY celebrating the end and the beginning.  My own alpha and omega.  I'm ready to pack my bags now.

But before then, I have more to tell you, more to show you, more to GIVE you (ooooohh... sneaky sneak!) and a nap to take.
because there is so much to celebrate,
- Umber

* * * * *

Side Note #1
Medical Update:  I AM done with Chemotherapy - shazzam - and almost ready to move onto the next phase of post-cancer-treatment.  I've several weeks off (through to the new year) and then I'll begin radiation therapy, everyday for six weeks.  And then, God willing, I'll talk about that one time I had cancer and kicked it's mutated little ass.

Side Note #2
Yes.  The bird to whom these wings belong showed up in our dining room under the proud and boastful meow of Thai - NOT something I was happy to see.  However still something that made my little heart swell with pride for my city-kitty, who at the age of 10 is finding and exercising his age-old instincts in this big back yard of ours.  I'd rather it be the gophers, but I love seeing him tap into his heritage of hunting.

Side Note #3
Our pup loves brussel sprouts.  Or more specifically the brussel sprout stalk we stripped and cleaned for him as the new most favorite toy.  Losing his ever-loving mind.  He gallops like a horse with a bright green banner in his mouth, snorting and woofing in those high-pitched puppy barks.  He's my little snapping turtle with ten foot long legs who eats cruciferous vegetables.  Oh love!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Last One

Well here it is, Friday morning.
I gathered up my various forms of entertainment, I'm wearing my viking warrior woman hat, and I'm coming to you LIVE from the infusion clinic.


Glory be

Let's put this chapter of [post] cancer treatment to bed, shall we?  Because I am so ready.  And while I'd like to say more, I'm feeling the start of the pre-treatment drugs which make me rather loopy and slur like a drunkard (yes, even type slur) so I'm going to lay back and just go with it.

See you on the flip side!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Morning Beastie Report

Post-Breakfast Naps

(Have you ever seen a more photogenic kitty boy?  I swear he couldn't take a bad photo if he tried.)


(Greeting the sun with the songbirds.  In their territory.  Directly above their feeders in fact.)

The Tongue

All tongue and all heart.  And open mouth all the time "insert anything you can possibly find that might taste interesting and cause your mamma to dig through the jowlies."

Oh and one more thing on this fine morning:
I like to call it the "Kitty Mustache."


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Just a Handful of Reasons

For family who treks the long and winding roads to celebrate our togetherness, family who pours heart and joy into the creation of a meal, family who laughs and hugs and hopes and prays for each other.  For family who consistently loves, deeply and ever unconditionally.  For my tiny family: my BC (always, always), my kitty boys who give the best mojo, for Sancho-pup who is already joy-therapy.

Thanksgiving table

For the bounty of this life and the hindsight to see that this place I reside is exactly where I am meant to be.  For knowing that I have purpose, and knowing that I'm forging my own path through the jungle of life that has never been walked in exactly the same way before.


For health and positivity, for my ten fingers (honest - this is a thanks I give consistently), for only one more round of chemotherapy, for being encouraged to use the lessons laid before me to dig deeper into soul-territory, to find new kindness, to find new hope.


For you, for this place where we have met, for the incredibly real and rich and rewarding relationships I have found through this blog.  For the way you have heard my words, supported my hands and helped me thrive in a season that could have gone in so many different directions.

And these are just a few of the reasons I give thanks.

- Umber

Monday, November 22, 2010

Breakfasting Sounds

Cheerio me fair-feathered finch!

I've been rising with the sun, or to be more direct, rising with a little puppy-face whose bladder marks dawn like clockwork.  It's incredibly good for my head to be out of bed before the dew has dried; I am a morning person at heart who happened to marry a night owl and then spent a great many years woking till the wee hours every night.
THIS is what I've been seeing and hearing and delighting in each morning (and yes, more seed is on the errand list for the day).
I just had to share the cacophony with you too.

Morning Sky