Wednesday, October 31, 2007

We're Ready. Are You?

Last year, in my blog reading, I found a lovely little poem by Sandra Liatsos. Here is the beginning. . . . It seems to fit today (I apologize that I didn't note the blog.)
"Halloween Wind"
The wind came trick-or-treating
down our quiet street.
It rattled all the windows, and then we heard it beat
on every door of every house
where shutters banged and clattered. . . .

I've mostly been skipping Halloween in the last few years. It seems more fun this year.We've decorated. (Lucy added the chalk on floor and windows.)We've shopped for treats.We've tried on costumes.We've practiced Trick or Treating.
We're ready, are you?


Monday, October 29, 2007

Photo of the Day: The Curiosity of Shoes

There they were. Lined up between two garbage cans as neatly as in a closet. Just waiting on the curb.

They were comfortably worn, but not worn out. Yet there they were. I speculated on the reason for the change in a whole wardrobe of shoes. New job. Bad knees. Sex change . . . .

Except for the sneakers, they were all gone the next morning.

Curiosity. Brain food for artists.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

To Just Celebrate Beauty

This week, the moon appeared high in the dining room window. It was not a full moon, but in the clear sky, it glowed with charm. I pulled everyone from the table and we went to the porch for a better look. The five of us sat quietly on the front steps -- my daughters, granddaughters and I -- and celebrated it's beauty. We thought about my son-in-law under that same moon on the other side of the world. Younger daughter sang a short moon song for the little ones and, suddenly, I thought of my moon viewing experience while in Japan.

I decided to make this a special occasion. I returned inside to prepare an impromptu treat. I didn't have a pampas grass arrangement on the table or sweet bean dumplings like my Japanese hostess, Mrs. Kimura, but I did have some very special dishes and I scooped tiny ice cream balls to mimic the dumplings. I placed the tiny dishes and the large plate of moon-colored balls in the freezer and returned to the porch. Soon the night grew chilly and we said, "Good night, moon." I retrieved the cold treats and explained the significance of the moon shape and grass patterns on the gray glaze which had been created in one of the oldest pottery areas in Japan. Older daughter contributed some very thin Moravian ginger cookies which we learned to love while living near Old Salem, NC. I think I'll try to plan ahead next year for the October Harvest Moon, but this was a pretty neat party.

Will the little ones remember a celebration of the moon at their grandmother's house? Will it be one of those experiences which pops up as an unexpected memory like this one for me? Will it become part of who they are? Will they watch the moon and think of tiny scoops of ice cream served with tiny spoons and wonder why? Will they learn to just celebrate beauty?

A Note: During my years of participating in Sister City exchanges with Takarazuka, Japan, I had many unique experiences. Generally, I traveled alone with an exhibition which I helped uncrate and install. Each day during the exhibition, I was hosted by some wonderful people and given the assistance of an interpreter and sometimes a driver. At some point, the official schedules shifted as old friends began to request my time for a particular day, a special meal, or just to visit in their homes. So, I was invited to go their favorite temple or shrine in the mountains, to visit shopping districts, local craftsmen and museums, to share seasonal meals and family celebrations.

At the end of each visit, there was an official gift which the mayor of the city presented to me. On my last trip, he suggested that I select my own! I was a little stunned. I would be accompanied on this shopping trip by a couple of city of officials. I asked if there was a budget. It was a challenge -- perhaps a test! My choice must fit the budget, be an appropriate official gift, indicate that I had learned something about the culture and . . . be something I liked. As I opened my special dishes, the mayor was the only one who was surprised. He approved.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Yesterday Was Good Enough

Yesterday, saying she didn't get it, an artist passed along this quote, "In art, 'good enough' is not good enough." It has been around for a while and has been discussed by better than me, but I understand it.

While researching dates for artists' birthdays, I sometimes discover obscure ones whose lovely, well-done, even powerful work has been overlooked through the years -- it is good enough, but is just missing the mark.

Yesterday, I sat in a church where a 'good enough' organ has been replaced by a new and glorious instrument.*

On Sunday mornings, as Jamie Council Garvey plays the new Dobson, it is easy to HEAR the truth in this quote, but sometimes the choir or congregation is singing or there are other distractions.

Yesterday, there were no distractions as the season opened for 'Concerts With a Cause.' The guest musician was Olivier Latry, titular organist of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. As he played, the new organ 'sang' through both delicate and rich passages which were never just 'good enough.' Neither the organ nor Monsieur Latry missed the mark.

Later at the reception, there was a delicious moment when I responded to the French-accented request for a 'doggie bag.' But perhaps that is an entry for another day.

Yes. Yesterday WAS good enough.

*To share the new Dobson organ at St. John United Methodist Church, this free concert series is offered to the community by generous contributions and the offering just before intermission benefits one community charity. A reception follows which allows the audience to meet both the guest musicians and representatives of the charity, which yesterday was Catholic Social Services. 2007-2008 schedule is at


Friday, October 19, 2007

The Sun Will Be Shining

Today, the final preparations were made for the annual Barbecue for 1950s graduates of my old high school. An amazing transformation has taken place on a classmate's farm as all the work of committee members has come together.

We have assembled nametags with old annual photos for the 800 who will gather. Some sold ads for a souvenir program book and invited a few guests. Others planned for the placement of food and registration tents and the row of 50s classic cars. On my 59Musketeers blog, I have added lists of registrants, noted regrets, and encouraged attendance.

A late afternoon front blew black clouds over the pasture and caused a flurry of concerns.

But tomorrow will be a day for remembering and the sun will be shining!


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Color of the Week - Magic Orange

We didn't plan it that way. Orange.

We stopped by a playground which had an orange tunnel which made a magic warm glow to crawl through.

We bought 'Florida Tangerines.' They were not. Turned out to be oranges -- tiny, juicy ones. Then, I thought I bought some cinnamon rolls. They were Orange Danish. Turned out, they tasted just right!

Yesterday, we found more orange.

The giant slide in the park.

We brought some home.
The pumpkin patch.

As Lucy said, "Oh, my Goodness!"

I almost missed it. The orange. I don't know how. 'Tis the season.

Magic Orange.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sharing the Days

Sometimes a simple weekend is a gift
And, in the fall,
It is a joy
As the crisp morning air
Gently rubs away the green of summer
And spatters the landscape with colors
Before the rush of the seasons of giving --
Of Thanks and of Love.

Sometimes a quiet weekend is a joy
And, in the fall,
It is a gift
As sunlight sifts through drifting leaves
And calms the soul
To begin the seasons of giving --
Of Thanks and of Love.

This past weekend, simple and quiet shared the days.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Understanding Two Things

My little country house is on the grounds of a church campground which means that three times a year, our time there coincides with planned events. It means there are more friends, family and guests to prepare for, but also more times to be quiet with music and words under the big open air tabernacle.

This weekend was one of those times. While the summer week has been a tradition for almost 200 years, the fall weekend was my mother's idea and she has guided its program for 15 years. She gives much thought to how the musicians and speakers will balance each other for the services under the big open tabernacle and assigns everything from altar flowers to sausage biscuits.

My assignment is usually Saturday lunch for the ministers. In a primitive cottage with no hot water and sawdust floors, meals need to be easily prepared and served. This year, a few cool days called for a huge pot of vegetable soup, some biscuits, saucers of butter and a couple of pies. No one cared that I used frozen, not fresh, vegetables in the soup pot (a big pot roast cut into bite-sized pieces gave them flavor), that I used fat canned biscuits which were baked in my electric skillet ('how did you get them so crisp and brown on both sides?') or that the lemon and chocolate silk pies were thawed just before serving! A centerpiece of pots of chrysanthemums and fall figurines, an assortment of antique dishes which have collected in the cabinets and big soup bowls added to the ambiance, and laughter filled the chairs around the big table for much longer than usual.

On Sunday morning, as I drank my coffee and watched the sun coming through the trees. I thought about the times when those Saturday menus have been complicated and 'from scratch.' I don't know that the food has been any better or that the meal has been any more satisfying.

In the quiet morning, I understood two things: Complicated process is not always best. Successful shortcuts are learned through practice.

Two things which work in a simple place;
two things which work in the studio.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Street Talk -- A Lady Among Many

When we take our walks down the street, Lucy and I never quite know what we will discover. One day this week, we were surprised to see a large mirror leaning against a tree. I was especially interested in getting some photos of the nearby monument to finish up my ''street talks," but we stopped to take a photo and ponder about its presence.

We continued our stroll and approached the four delicate columns from the rear.

I haven't counted the number of monuments on the street, but I do know that all are dedicated to men, except this one. Its axis sits on a perpendicular line with the altar of one (visible behind Lucy in the mirror) of several churches in Tennessee and Georgia which were funded by Emily Harris Tubman. It recognizes her concern for education and her founding of schools for girls. It acknowledges her firm stand on colonization of freed slaves who carried the Tubman name back to Africa and the country of Liberia. It acknowledges her life as a gentlewoman.

In 1993, I was approached about painting the proposed monument to raise money for its construction. The committee did not want an architectural rendering; they wanted a painting and they wanted one of mine. I struggled. Finally, on the 199th anniversary of Mrs. Tubman's birth, I stood beside our mayor to unveil the painting. A burst of wind blew the framed watercolor off the easel. Everyone gasped until they discovered that I had removed the glass for the photos. Then everyone smiled. It was exactly like they thought it should look!

As the year progressed, reproductions of the painting were sold and changes were made in the original plans which I had used to develop my painting. The flower bowl is much larger with a flat-sided base for engraved acknowledgments. The capitals are not as defined. There are no benches now (or in my painting) even though they were part of the initial design -- no one could agree on exactly where they should be.

The monument to Emily Tubman was dedicated on what would have been her two hundredth birthday. I don't mind that it doesn't match my painting. It feels exactly right.

And it's on my street . . . . That's something to talk about.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Quote of the Day: Continuing Education

My argument was, 'You do those very well already, try doing something you're not good at.' That's what education is.
Jim Mateer

Today's quote comes from an article about the author/artist of Funky Winkerbean in the Cleveland Freetimes. The statement is from Midview High School art teacher Jim Mateer who taught the clever and creative Tom Batiuk. I was directed to it by my friend Karen and her very poignant blog entry. Both the article and the blog are worth a second reading.

The Internet continues to be a source of inspiration, fun and challenges for me. First, I learned about emails and lists of people with similar interests; for me, it was a group of painters. Now, I explore a few blogs daily and I subscribe to a few I like and I write two of my own. I have tried to learn as new stuff comes along and to overcome my technical ineptitude.

I'm trying to get better at something I'm not good at.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Color of the Day -- Black and White

Yesterday, we stopped at a nearby town for the 19th annual Laurel and Hardy Festival. The day is a small town's tribute to it's native son, Oliver Hardy, and his classic black and white movies. The humor of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy suits this little town and people from around the world stop in to visit the museum, watch the parade, see a few movies and compare the look-a-likes. Lucy and Belle were curious about the whole thing.

Crafts, food and kiddie rides kept the crowd moving up and down the main street. Lucy thought that pony rides were less scary than patting Clydesdales.

In spite of the looming black and white clouds overhead, the sun popped out occasionally and we stayed longer than we had planned.

There was still time get to our summer cottage and do a few repairs. It was a good day.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Street Talk -- Passing Parades

On one of our walks up the street, we hurried the five blocks to see the annual horse and carriage parade. The event was begun by one of my high school classmates to kick-off the winter Futurity. It was popular, but because of unpredictable weather, it was moved to spring. More recently, it has been scheduled to coincide with our major downtown Arts Festival.

Lest you think it boring. Consider that there were four legged creatures from miniature mules to Clydesdales, wheeled vehicles from chuck wagons to funeral hearses and modern dress mixed with western garb and period costumes.

The entries moved like clockwork down the blocks and there were few lulls in the line-up for a full hour of fun. The street-sweepers signaled the end, but we were reluctant to leave and moved one block over to catch the beginning again.

After the parade, we stopped to visit at our neighborhood bed and breakfast inn.
Suddenly, a vehicle towing a horse trailer pulled up in front and a couple of guests stopped to check out. They opened the trailer to let us see their Clydesdales closeup. They talked about how much they liked the well-run event and our city (and of course, our street) before they began their long drive back to North Georgia. They agreed that they would plan to come again.

This was the 15th year. This was my first time! Five blocks away and this was my first time. Shame on me.

Are there parades passing you by on your street?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Monday Link: Morphing Rembrandt

Along with others, I was charmed by the morphing of Women in Western Art on this year. So, still fascinated by the images of "The Age of Rembrandt" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was delighted to find Rembrandt's paintings at two different YouTube sites.

(Note: Today's image is from the current show and not a self-portrait! Rembrandt - "The Noble Slav")My previous post here.

In the first, his self-portraits are morphed one to another with the eyes staying pretty steady. Weird but fascinating as he stares out at me. Rembrandt's morphed self portraits --
or here

In the second, his self-portraits are arranged in a slide show accompanied by a delightful arrangement of Vivaldi's "Winter."

or here

Totally different presentations; both good Monday links.