Friday, July 20, 2007

A Hefty Response

With an almost two year old, a paper maker and an artist in the house, storage of small items becomes crucial. Gallon sized zipclosure bags are the best answer. So a month or so ago, I purchased some Hefty(R) One Zip(R) Slider Bags. I opened the first one to store some leftovers and the food just fell out! I checked the bag: The slider worked and the seal was closed. The problem was that the plastic had not caught in the zip section. Aargh.

Thinking I would get little or no response, I decided to send an email anyway to let the manufacturer know. Imagine my surprise when I got a terrific email asking that I send the package and a few of the bags AT THEIR EXPENSE for their manufacturing manager to examine. I explained that it would be a while because it was the week of the new baby's arrival. The return email said not to worry about it and that I would get some coupons in the mail. I did.

Later, after Belle had come home and things settled, I mailed the packaging and bags. Another surprise! More coupons and a check for the postage. I thought this needed to be shared.

My thanks to Arlene Stafford, the Consumer Affairs Representative, and the other folks at Pactiv Corporation. I'll certainly be using their products as often as I can.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Yin & Yang of Choice

For many people who were casting their votes on Tuesday, the choice was tough.

Our friend, who had had a considerable lead in last month's special election but not a clear 50% has apparently lost by only a couple of hundred votes.

What happened?

There are some good political guesses:
"His supporters just thought his lead was good enough and didn't come out to vote."
"Voters found it hard to choose between the two run-off candidates or maybe they just didn't like either one."
"It is summer and lots of folks are out of town -- always a bad time for an election."
"It's such a busy time."

I had my precinct team in place from 7:00 AM until 7:00 PM. We were ready to handle the usual 50-65% turn-out of our 2700 registered voters. At the end of the day, we counted only 475 who stopped in, chatted with neighbors and friends and quickly cast their ballots. We were not surprised.

And what of those 2225 who didn't vote on Tuesday?
They made the easy choice.

Whether in the voting booth or in the studio,
not participating in the process . . . not choosing . . . is still a decision.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Three Hundred Sixty Degrees

I had to chuckle this week when reading about Robert Genn's idea of selecting a comfortable spot for painting and then selecting a subject. It seems like such an easy way to find the spirit of the place. It also seems that it must be a difficult thing to learn to do -- on location, the scenery just seduces the brain which forgets that the body has to be in that position for a good long session!

I had a group of students who had no problem with this concept. They were painting winter scenes through the windows of the studio. They came in, got settled in their usual spots and prepared their paper, paint and water and then proceeded to go to the window to select their subjects. They would then return to the painting spot and paint a little while before going to the window again. They skewed their perspective, missed shadow shapes and wondered what was wrong. BUT . . . they were comfortable!

So I developed a workshop which would address this problem whether indoors or out. I call it 360 Degrees -- a New Point of View. At each workshop location, I select (and number) spots for painting. Each student draws a number and locates his or her spot with instructions to settle in for a while and find and sketch as many potential paintings as possible from their comfortable spot. Rarely is one bored or stymied by the possibilities within the 360 degree space as closeups, mid-distance and landscapes are examined. Few want to exchange places when we begin after our break and the real painting begins.

Robert says it better than I can: "Why the comfort first? It's partly to do with the nature of the creative act. The subject itself is not as important as what can be done with it. And being comfortable has something to do with what can be done. You feel the potential of a place when you show up. It's intuitive, and it's also about remembered joys. "Something tells me I can get my brush around this," you find yourself saying. Get comfy, set up, squeeze out. Motifs appear like genies. Again he quotes McDonald, "Art is the ordering of the material in harmony with the spirit." Contemplation is needed. The results are often simple, direct, strong and expressive. You can sometimes do this sort of thing if you find a good place to sit."

I think you also need to learn to ignore the obvious in your three hundred and sixty degrees.

Today's photos were taken by Lucy and me. We love looking at the night sky in all directions. The first star while the moon is hiding, people in the late night light and finally, the moon comes out of hiding.

PS: You might enjoy seeing Robert in action at this link. Be sure to click at the top to go forward to Creative Archeology and more on selecting your spot. You might even enjoy getting the newsletter twice a week for yourself -- sign up! thousands of us have.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bon à Rien

Pour agir, il faut une forte dose de défauts. Un homme sans défauts n'est bon à rien.
In order to act, we need a good dose of faults. A man without defects is good
for nothing. --Jacques Chardonne

I love this quote. Makes me feel OK! I certainly don't want to be 'good for nothing' -- I have a laundry lists of faults.

Remnants of Old Garden, 22"x28" watercolor

There is always an interesting quote and a lovely photo on Kristin Espinasse's french-word-a-day blog which keeps me reading. An Arizona native, Kristin writes about the adjustments of living in France with a wine connoisseur (now vineyard owner) and her two 'French' children. Part of her writing charm is her ability to laugh at herself and her 'defects' as she and her family go through daily life.

Even if you never learn French, travel to France or grow grapes, it's a good addition to your morning email. You might even recognize yourself in her travel tales in this post.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Color of the Week -- Peppermint

I'm taking a little time to catch up and edit a few posts, but I really like today's batch of color.

Lucy Shares with Day Old Belle

The Amaryllis Blooms in Our Yard

Lucy Checks Out the Photographer for a Local Paper. (Yes, she appeared in The Mirror.)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Quote of the Week

From my friend, Pete, who often makes more sense than he should.

"blocks are a lot like boredom, i've found. rather than being a lack of something to do (at least for me) they're an unwillingness to do those things we feel we've been presented with."

Update on previous post:
The peaches in our window were replaced by the kittens who really need to go somewhere else to live. We've discovered another kind of block!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Vertigo, Nausea and an All Round Good Time

This week has been an interesting one. On Monday morning, I discovered that everything went around as I tried to get out of bed. Several days later, I am better, but will be checked out next week.

We decided to cancel our planned ice cream supper on Saturday. Tiny sandwiches would start the party while churns of ice cream are being made ready for toppings, syrups and goodies. (When the ice cream is the entree, who can say there's no room?) We had planned sidewalk chalk paintings, some other games for all ages and prizes for all in red, white and blue.
It has been a favorite party in the past to celebrate the 4th (on the closest weekend) and this year would have had the added bonus of 07/07/07 and Mamma's 85th birthday. We hope to find a quiet way to celebrate with the ice cream party later.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

It Was A Good Week

When we first arrived last Saturday, we noticed a strange little orangey spider near the back door. We didn't disturb the web, but checked it as we passed in and out. Later in the week, we noticed that it was gone and suddenly the web appeared above the dining table -- suspended between the plants which I used as centerpieces and the light on the ceiling fan. Each afternoon, it disappeared and then it was rebuilt. It was interesting and beautiful construction and, again, we didn't disturb it. We enjoyed seeing it and watching the little creature close-up. On Friday, a visitor said, "Oh, you have a spider" and reached out destroying the web. Our spider didn't come back. We all felt a sense of loss.

As I said before, "It is a place away, a time away. It is what each person makes it. " It is a place where spiders are allowed to just hang out, bird nests are left in window sills and cats sleep on the overhead rafters.

A few more contradictions for the week.
This year, cardboard "funeral home" fans cooled the congregation to the rhythm of a new keyboard with lots of bells and whistles after the old piano simply gave out.
Someone decided that the "young people" needed to have some new kinds of music; the young people wanted to sing the old stuff.
An old-fashioned preacher in new fashioned clothes held everyone's attention with new ways of thinking about The Lord's Prayer. Amen.
Two-week-old Belle mostly slept while our 98 year old friend Esther had her usual sparkle as she greeted old friends.
Lucy and I watched for the moon each night and, in the daytime, admired strange bugs and spiders and avoided the ants.

We packed up dirty clothes, left-over food and the three cats who were allowed to go. It was a good week.