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Thursday, May 31, 2012


Currently this is my favorite time of day.  When the light turns saffron and slithers along rooftops, when the shadows stretch and the black-headed grosbeaks make their final songs.  It is when I gather dinner supplements from the garden, when my toes grow cold, when the dogs make their final maniacal gallops around the house and the cats beg to come out from one more snack of clover.  It is my favorite time to photograph the midas touch, my favorite time to breath the cool river air rising, my favorite time to kiss the day goodbye. 
This past weekend I attended a memorial for a dear friend's mother.  I feel my life, perhaps all lives, can be best described by dichotomy: I am surrounded by rounded bellies carrying souls yet to be born, by mourning for those who have passed on, by children in curls and babies discovering their own feet, by friends who are faced with their own mortality in the bloom of youth, by the scars on my own chest and the still-fresh feeling of hair on my head.  I'm dizzy with the spin of life and death.

But I know this: I'm grateful for the life I have, for the life I live, for the time I am granted.  I wish to live in grace and light, but I wish just as fervently to live in the raw grittiness of human emotion.  To be present and honest.  To be full with the spectrum of life, rather than reside only in the prettiest colors.  If we only have one shot at a life, then I want to greedily gather every experience I can.

And lastly, I want to eat my greens.
Self Portrait as a Collard Green

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sometimes on rainy days we play dress-up
on rainy days
we play dress-up.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Return of the Unfurl Rings

The Return of the Unfurl Rings

Unspool your heart strings!
Let your soul breath!

I've been wanting to sculpt another little batch of these rings for some time now.  They curl and wrap and swing so cheerily and I figure there is no better time than spring to do a bit of unfurling.  I'll be listing all five in the shop tomorrow morning after I'm appropriately caffeinated, but probably before I'm appropriately dressed.  OOH!  That's just how I do it some days.

It's been a tremendously busy last week, but I feel my heart has never left the studio.  I'm digging into something, letting color and shape roll across my tongue, and finally crashing hard late at night to the oddest dreams (falling between the house of Lemony Snicket and running in the Hunger Games with a tiny dash of Lord of the Flies.  Really, really bizarre.  But I always have great clothes in dreams.  Like amazing boots that I can never find in waking life, which is beyond tragic - have I ever told you about the Prada's with a 13 inch heel that I stole in a Bonnie and Clyde style dream?  They were utterly amazing but I was so tall I cracked my head on the ceiling every time I stood up straight.  Why don't those exist?  Other than for head cracking reasons of course!  Why?).

Now.  The sun is slanting most gloriously through the north-west windows, illuminating comatose puppies and a dust-bunny riden floor.  I know I've already checked in on the veggie garden, but I think I might gather the first thinnings of the arugula and slip a couple more radishes out for dinner.  Really I just want an excuse to feel the sunlight on the top of my head, so I best scoot along and feel it.
Happy Wednesday!
~ Umber ~

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Practice of Balance

A friend recently asked me about my creative process, if there were bursts and lulls, ebbs and flows.  In thinking this over, I admitted to myself that the highs, the bursts of wild inspiration, are breathtaking and powerful and never do I feel so energized as when the tidal wave of the muse washes over me.  However, as a tidal wave is wont to do, it has the potential and power to knock me off my feet and spin me into a frothy, fizzy mess.  A beautiful and appreciated mess, but a mess all the same.  Sometimes the multitude of creative ideas, all calling out their desire to be realized can feel downright paralyzing.

And the lows are of course, low.  I tend to keep a tidier kitchen, the laundry gets caught up and I spend so much time paging back through sketchbooks, wondering what in the world I was thinking with such and such drawings.  These are the days when I know I need to just keep showing up, to constantly remind myself that what came from my head and heart still resides there, and that I will find it again.  And that maybe, just maybe, I need to rest.

But it is the middle ground that is my favorite.  That honest, sturdy place.  When the frenzy has slowed (I think my muse is a kinetic being - she is ALL or nothing and spazzy to the max), when I've had a chance to hold each idea and look at it from all sides, when I've been able to discern which ones truly must see creation and which need to germinate a while longer.  It's such a practice, such a constant search for balance.  It's like finding a runner's stride, like hearing a perfect harmony, like believing in the rhythm of your own unique heartbeat.  And it doesn't always come naturally.  Hense the practice.

So, as I tend to do, I thought about all this and let my hands work.
The Practice of Balance
(sterling silver and pisco blue chrysocolla)

This ring was quite literally, a practice in balance.  The idea arrived in a flash, so I took a day to marinate over it.  That electric blue stone called out for tiny feathers so I happily obliged.  Each ball of sterling granulation was individually placed, some intuitively, others after careful consideration.  The physical balance of this ring is lovely; it cradles the finger with a rich weight, just enough to remind you of its presence.  There is a quiet breath in this ring and it wears like a token of peace.
(in the shop now)

Wherever you are today, just know I believe in your good heart.
~ Umber ~

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Right?  Right.
Fresh Picked
It's a bullet point sort of morning!
~ uno ~
This shirt arrived in yesterday's post, addressed to BC who happens to be out of town, and somehow, accidentally, the package tore and the tee just fell right out and onto my body.  Oops.  But seriously, how RAD is it?!?  It's yet another reminder that I could use tattooed across my forehead.  But that is a rather small canvas and something tells me, wearing a tee is a better plan.
~ dos ~
I'm officially in danger of becoming a hoarder of tomatos.  You see, it's been about SEVEN years since I was last able to grow those juicy fruits, between tight apartment living and a coastal fog that rotted out everything with a claim in the nightshade family.  But here, the sun shines a little brighter, a little hotter, and the fog pools just on the other side of the ridge, held back by geothermal forces.  So I started with two cherry varieties, just to see, and now, well, yeah.  Hoarder.  And I want more.  Isn't there a show about that?  Don't sent them here; I want no cure other than a pantry full of home-canned salsa.
~ tres ~
When country living, one must acquire certain skill sets.  Yesterday I learned that I could pull a dog tick off a dog using naught but a compostable-potato-ware spoon.  I wish my super powers had not been called upon, but good to know I'm resourceful!  Those things creep me out some fierce.  Just writing "tick" makes the backside of my knees itch.
~ cuatro ~
The wild roses are blooming!  Our front yard (a.k.a. wilderness zone) is rich with the competing scents of rose, cedar, and wild onion.  I wish you could smell the blooms; heady is too small a word for the scentalific euphoria they spread wide and far.  I've been carrying this little mason jar with me throughout the house, bedside to kitchen, to dinning, and then up to the studio, trailing perfume every where I walk.
~ cinco ~
I'm still itching.  Bleeeechahahah.
~ seis ~
This is my latest total obsession: a live-stream hidden camera in a great blue heron nest out in Ithaca, NY.  I've just left the tab open on my computer, listening to their squabbles and cries, watching like a star-struck bird nerd, checking in on them every time I walk by.  You MUST check it out.  No excuses.  I mean, it's BABY BIRDS HERE PEOPLE, and who doesn't love baby birds?
* * *
Duty calls!  Have a glorious Wednesday!
~ Umber ~

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Light Heart

Hazel-Rah - A Necklace for a Light Heart

Hazel-Rah - A Necklace for a Light Heart
(Sterling Silver and Turquoise)

I have made no bones about my Leporidae obsession.  Rabbits, rabbits, everywhere and always.  I think it began the Christmas I woke to find a Velveteen Rabbit in my stocking, the way I knew every breath of that story by heart, the way I tried to sneak up on my most beloved stuffed creatures, willing them to have become "Real" when I wasn't looking.  It continued on with Watership Down, which I've read and reread so many times the characters feel like old friends; battle scared, wise and wily, intuitively survival oriented old friends.

A few days ago I sat down in the studio and let my hands intuit the spry light that was beaming from my sternum.  Unlike the vast majority of my work, this piece came together completely spontaneously, without a single sketch or pre-drawing (I love to draw and draw and draw out endless thoughts).  I confess to never taking a single measurement, to boldly sawing silver without a template, curving, hammering, texturing when and were it felt right.  It was wholly organic and when I finally rocked back and held up the final piece I proclaimed it perfect.  There is so much lightness in this necklace it nearly levitates off the sternum!
I love it.

(if you'd like to know more, she's in the shop now)
* * *

In other news, this week I've squeezed some ham-like baby toes, swilled chardonay from paper cups on a beach boardwalk (gotta hide it from the po-po), and shrieked for joy at the first tiny green balls on the tomato plants.  All in all, it's been a pretty grand week.  How has yours been?

Happy Day my light hearts!
~ Umber ~

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Today's Truth
Flip flops and freshly painted toes doesn't hurt either.

Monday, May 7, 2012

I Took Myself Camping

I've been camping
Last week I packed up the tent, the Pup, kissed BC, the kitty boys and the Girly Dog goodbye and took myself camping.  Here, high on the northern California coast, there is no shortage of gorgeous camping spots but we drove to one of my very favorites.  Nestled in among the old growth sitka spruce and coastal redwoods, high on the cliffs above the pacific, we pitched camp.  The air held the bite of the ocean and at times we were chilled with mist and rain, but when the sun burned through that marine layer, every good, damp thing shone.  We ran on the beach at low tide; Sancho dragging every stick of driftwood he could find, me filling pockets with slick pebbles and beach agates.  At night we spooned together in the tent, Sancho snuffling under two blankets while I read by headlamp until I couldn't keep my eyes open a second longer.  Morning brought hot coffee, rice porridge and flocks of stellar's jays all vying for left-overs of anything at all.  I climbed a high trail along the cliffs and sat for who knows how long, lost in the crash of waves and the expanse of sea, one of those times when there are no words, no sketches, no stories, just a roar that fills the heart.  And then, with sap on my sleeves and hair scented with camp smoke, we came home.
Frisbee Love
But we'll be back.