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Monday, October 31, 2011

Last weekend I took myself down to the golden foothills of California's North Bay for a silent yoga retreat with a dear kindred spirit.  I've been unpacking the events of the weekend, slowly, carefully, trying to allow them space to breath and become.  Trying to let them be just a sacred experience that I may never fully explain away.  I'm not ready to bare my heart on this one yet, but the events of the day seared themselves so deeply upon my heart that I can think of nothing else to speak of.  I filled pages and pages with writings and sketches.  I acquired verbiage for images I've only known as guttural response.  I know the depth is still descending, like a pebble in a bottomless well, but I desire to share this with you.
* * *
We drove in the dark under shooting stars, headlights cutting a trail through coyote brush and chaparral scrub, winding upward, onward, deeper, older, wiser.  The hills are soft with age and when you step lightly upon them, you feel a sense of stillness, of smallness as though the grandeur of what they once were held only a fraction of the power they now possess. The fauna was a live walk through the animals I chose for next year's calendar: deer in droves, jack rabbits, quail, owls, sparrows, goldfinch, moths, and one lone fox.  I felt arrived, I felt communal, I felt the holy nature of that place, baptized by the scent of eucalyptus, the trinity of hooves, feathers and fur.  I was alone with my thoughts, my hurts, my small victories.  We marched over hill and knoll, cold sunlight on the small of my back, dropping down into ancient creek beds that whispered.  I laid down, stretched out, on sturdy boughs that cradled my heart and soul.  
I said "I'm hurt."  I heard "I know."  
I said "I'm afraid."  I heard "I know that too."
No false promises, no rush for salvation, just a deep sorrow, a deeper understanding, smoothing of hair and an encompassing love.
And I wept because those tears were the only true offering I had to give.  There was no pride, there was no agenda.  They were pure.  Holy.  My heart unfurled a little more; great beating petals unfolding their true center.  Love became a brilliant beam pouring forth, pouring in, and I learned something, was reminded something about the power of self-love.
I tell you this: a stitch was put in an age old wound.  A balm was held to my forehead.  I felt safer with myself, safer with my heart, safer with my fears, my hopes, my wild imagination in that place than I have in a long, long time.  Perhaps since I was child who did not know better.  And that was so, so long ago.  
* * *

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sometime Thursday Morning Post Coffee

Or mid-coffee as the case may be.  
[side note:  I firmly believe that if the Last Supper had instead been the Last Brunch, Jesus would have turned that water into the most delicious coffee man had ever tasted, and cream and honey would have poured forth.]
But I digress... and I know you are all chomping at the bit to see what magic numbers were pulled out of the hat!
So with the help of Mr. Random Generator Dot Org. we have names and three calendars ready to be shipped out to their prospective homes!
Our winners:
Cinder Says (you foxy lady...)
Emmy D (miss optimist herself)
Emily (who has a thing for quails and chickadees - girl, I am right there with you on this one!!)

Ladies-fine, please send your addresses to me at and I'll ship shape them out!

And to ALL of you commenters-fine, thank you so much for taking a moment to enter this little give-a-way of mine.  Thank you as EVER for making my day, for making me smile, for making this life I believe so whole-heartedly real.

You are the bee's knees times ten thousand.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tres Cosas

~ uno ~
Creatures I Have Know:  THE Calendar is here.
It's so very satisfying what with its substantial cardstock, glossy inks and cheery, cheery colors.  I'm in perma grin over here!

~ dos ~
If you've not entered the 2012 Calendar give-a-way, you have just a few more hours to do so!  Chop chop!  I can't wait to pull those three winning names tomorrow!

~ tres ~
I have so many thoughts tied up in my head, compacted through my spine, plus the residual aches from 23 hours of driving that I am heading in for a massage shortly.  I left a sliver of my heart in Seattle this last weekend, and the empty space in my chest aches.  But it was good.  So good.  I'll tell you about it soon, ok?

Happy Hump Day!
I hope these last golden days of October are treating you well!
~ Umber ~

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The First Giveaway of 2012

That's right.
I said it.
And yes, it's only October.

I'd like to introduce you to the
UmberDove 2012 Calendar:  Creatures I Have Known
Picnik collage
Inspired by the feathered, the hooved, the furred and the winged who catch my eye and steal my heart on any given day.  By the restless ones, the cheerful ones, the small busy bodies who comfort me and entertain my laugh.  By the dawn song and the rustle in the ferns.  By the tiny gifts, the slightest clues left behind for my seemingly bottomless pockets.  By those who bring me joy.  Painted in hopes to bring a sliver of their jubilance to you.

A few highlights from the cast of characters...
This calendar represents hours upon hours spent sketching, drafting, drinking tea, laying watercolor grounds, layering paint colors, drinking more tea, adding highlights, painting details, eating milk chocolate sea salt toffee bars (thank you Whole Foods), scanning, editing, proofing, photographing and finally, sending my little flock off to the printers.
Needless to say, pulling off a calendar is a LOT of good hard time put in the studio.

Now that it's officially done, I'm ready to celebrate.
Care to join?  Here's how:
1.  Pour a gin and tonic (Sapphire with a whole lime squeezed - do not skimp here!)
2.  Pack a suitcase for a weekend jaunt up North
3.  Take 30 to 40 more photos of your puppies doing really cute things like spooning-sleeping
4.  Take the rest of the evening off an paint your toes a ravishing shade of teal


You could just leave a comment below and be entered to win one of these markers of months, the 2012 Calendar!

I'm giving away THREE because three is such a lucky number.
All you need to do is leave one (and only one please) comment - say whatever you like - and you'll be in the running!  The contest starts now (bang!) and will end Wednesday, October 26th in the Evening Sometime with the three winners announced the following day after I've had coffee (these are scientifically precise times, no need to worry yourself with the details).


It is my additional delight to offer up these brand spanky new paintings in the Shop!   I'll be listing all twelve this evening, each one an UmberDove original, watercolored and gouached (maybe a word?  maybe not?) on archival paper and AS EVER so much more nuanced in person.  

Comment away!
~ Umber ~

Monday, October 17, 2011

Some days, I just need a holy fire and a cold baptism.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ten Thousand Small Histories

This is my favorite tea cup.
She's a no name number in periwinkle with a badly glued chip in the lip.
She was fifty cents at my favorite vintage treasures shop, but I have a feeling they would have just given her to me if I'd ask.
I can't quite explain why but sometimes, somethings just fit so perfectly in your hands that you can't help but feel the blessing of their past owners.  Like the long-gone from this world are resting just a little easier knowing that you are there, carrying on in their stead.  That they are not forgotten, that the remains of their days still hold a twinkle of beauty.  
Ten Thousand Small Histories
This little sliver of perfectly turquoise beach pottery hails from a rocky shore here in Northern California.    This beach, years ago, was the official town dump, a place to discard the old on the cliff bluffs, set blaze to the pile, then push it into the sea.  As you walk the ocean's edge, you step not on sand, not on rock, but on millions upon millions of bits of glass and pottery.  
I'd like to imagine this little piece was once from a tea cup as beloved as mine, holding black coffee on fog laden mornings.
Just because it is unknown, does not mean it is forgotten.
Ten Thousand Small Histories Necklace
Sterling Silver, Mendocino Beach Pottery and One Pressed Feather

In other news, THIS is still taking up most of my days.
When she's lovey, all she wants in the world is a warm body to snuggle with.
When she's feisty, you can hear her jaws snapping like a crocodile two rooms away.
Beware your toes!

Happy Friday All!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The GIRLIE has Arrived!

I'd like you to meet our newest pack member:
(it's pronounced fray-YA)
The name comes from an old Norse goddess of life and war, love and beauty - and here's the best part - WHO DRIVES A CHARIOT ACROSS THE LAND PULLED BY TWO CATS!

I think Thai and Sing are unamused by this little fact.  They have both made great show of smacking her on the behind and bopping her on the head.

about Miss Freyja.
When we arrived to pick her out, she surprised us by making it no contest at all.  From the photos, she is girlie number one; BC and I, based on photos alone, were leaning heavily towards either number 2 or 4 (their markings and bright eyes swooned us).  But from the moment we stepped into the puppy-fray, Freyja won our hearts and minds with personality, interaction, and not least of all, GUMPTION.  She is smart as a whip and curious as a cat.  Even in the few mini puppy training sessions we've already begun, she has wowed us in no small way.
All that to say, we have a lot of puppy on our hands!

Sancho thinks he has died and gone to heaven; his very own puppy to nom.  But truly I've fallen even more in love with him these last 48 hours, watching him play so gently with her, luring her to play tug, cleaning her face, checking in on her in her crate, and generally obsessing over his new bestie.
He will always be my Pup.
They will be thick as shoe-thieves, no doubt.

Here's to the thunderdome that now exists in our kitchen!
And here's to getting nothing done other than puppy play!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Good Morning!

I can't believe it's Friday already.  Moreover, I can't believe it's this Friday, the Friday we're driving south to pick out and pick up our new BEAST.  Our little girl.  THESE are the four not-so-tiny ladies we'll be picking from!  Who do you think?
Picnik collage
That said, BC is loading the car, Sancho is whining at the door (this is only because he does not realize he will spend the next six hours in the back seat of our little civic), the kitty boys are trying to convince us we've not left them with enough food, and no one knows I'm secretly on the computer.  
Time to hit the road, so merry Friday to you all and I promise to take GOBS of photos of the new little girl for you!!!!!

One more sneak peek?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Peek to End all Sneaks

is almost done.
will be off to the printers...
- WELL -
You'll just have to wait and see!