Monday, May 31, 2010

A Dull Girl

Do you every get tired of yourself? That's what drove me into the studio today with the box cutter to do some cardboard box therapy and clean up a rat hole of empty boxes. After a few hours of slashing and trashing I felt much better. But I have been a dull girl for the last week.

I did the painting on canvas in acrylic of the peach tree. My peach tree is right outside my studio where I can watch the peaches fatten up day by day. Peach ice cream. Peach cobbler. Peaches!!

The painting went on for days; it was like that book "One Hundred Years of Solitude" only it was about the painting that went on forever.

Or maybe it was me. It's been two years since I've done a large (24x30") painting on canvas. Maybe I have to work through some stuff before I get my chops back.

Anyway I'm calling it done and have set it aside. It kept me busy and distracted which was a good thing.

I like the part about the peach angels. They are up there right now sorting through the bins to bring me some really good ones. They always do.

Plus I got to paint a face. I like painting faces. I noticed that most of the paintings I own are of faces. Faces and abstracts for the most part. Predominantly faces though.

The voice is soft and legible for about 500 words and then it poops out on me. Voice therapy next. Shellie predicted that by this fall I will be back in full sail. I'm holding onto that. In the meantime I made 2 phone calls yesterday and didn't do bad. The swelling is subsiding day by day. I'm practically good to go. xo

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Thank You Dear Friends

Man, we are soggy up here in the Pacific Northwest; it feels like it's going to rain forever. John runs out every dry moment to string more bean trellises then wrings his hands about ever getting seed in the ground. And me - I am listless putty, cajoling myself to stay awake, get up on my feet, rebuild my strength and energy following the successful thyroplasty surgery. I'm alive!!

John says I look like someone tried to saw my head off; a big jagged scar now from ear lobe to past my adam's apple. I'm thinking of good stories to tell about how I got it. Something involving gypsies, a knife fight and a dark alley. ha ha. That's me alright. I'm baaaaad.

I'm still on voice restriction until next week when I see my doctor. I feel so fortunate to have a chance to return to a nearly normal life although time will tell. So much is unknown at this point and the challenge is to stay open to all possibilities. It's a balancing act.

Through all the changes and challenges and ups and downs my journal has been my refuge. The pages I am working on now are about reclaiming my "badness", really my deep passion for all the illusions that make life so rich and juicy. I've always had a thing for rebels, misfits and bohemians; intellectuals and artistes. May I never lose my fire (my love of being alive); that's my deepest desire, to always stay connected to others and to the joys of finding myself in a human form. This life; it's endlessly amazing.

Love to you too. I hope your life amazes you.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Feeling Strong

Just a quick last minute post before tomorrow to let you know that I have done my homework and I'm feeling no fear regarding the surgery. I have had an extraordinary weekend surrounded by beauty in the form of nature, family and friends. I have painted and written. I have welcomed in the fear as well as the love. I accept this bittersweet stew and am happy to have a life, easy or hard it is all amazing.

My flowers have been thrilling me. I love the colors, gathering bouquets, strolling through the beds with my camera.

These little nubbins will be fat, juicy peaches in a couple of months. I love peach season. I am going to do a garden series of paintings this summer. I will show you everything as I go.

Journal entries. Thinking of world religion, always a subject of great interest to me. The desert religions with their wars and soldiers and the eastern religions with kali yuga and Buddha and meditation and peace. Any of them can be good or bad in the hands of good or bad people. The symbols for me are incredibly potent.

Not much to say about this one.

My computer just told me that it's 4 o'clock. I hear the train's whistle in the distance. I have a piece of Tres Leches cake in front of me which I will tell you about in a minute.

But first the peonies. These are all gone now but I took this picture about a month ago and it popped up in this folder so I tossed it in too. I do love me a fat, floppy peony.

And a bearded iris in the colors of the sunrise. 

Figs will be coming this summer too. In the background is a newly planted apricot tree, cherry tree and persimmon. Maybe you can see the grape vines. The grass where I lay on a blanket and nap in the summertime. Splendor in the grass.

Last evening we visited friends who prepared a beautiful meal for us. The filling is a mixture of avocado, lettuce, cabbage, jalapeno pickled peppers, onion, tomato and salsa. Mexican cheeses, enchilada sauce. Served with Spanish rice. I can't think of anything more delicious.

Tres Leches cake from the bakery for dessert. Oh my goodness goodness. This is the best cake I can imagine; my very favorite. My friends know this. My friends are so very good to me and to my family.

This is what we did to the cake in a period of about 15 minutes. There were 8 of us. But still ...

This is Buff Beauty, my yummy musk rose that twines up through the burgundy leaves of the Japanese Maple. 

Siberian Iris and Calla Lilies before being made into a bouquet to take to our friends.

And finally the Golden Showers rose that smells so pretty but whose blooms are short lived. And still the Peace rose has opened today and the mystery rose and I can't keep up with all the beauty in the world - there is just too much.

I'll be back asap to visit your blogs and to post here. Aren't we lucky to live in a time where we are never alone, having the internet to join us together and to help us help each other? I think this is the best time to be alive yet. xo

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Slow Drift

My little canoe has been circling around since my return from Ohio, making no forward progress. It is discouraging for a bossy person like myself to not be able to speak; fitting karma perhaps but lonely and strange at the same time. Today I heard about a friend of a friend who has had the same voice restoration surgery as the one I'm having on Tuesday. This person did indeed regain his voice although a softer version and so I am comforted by that thought.

A little side effect of my new larynx is breathlessness. Last night John and I went to a movie and I had to ask him to slow down twice as even a brisk walk wears me out. I want to get going again. It is weird to have my wings clipped. I need exercise.

And so my journal has been a reflection of these circuitous thoughts. Too much pondering; I'd be better off doing than writing but I seem stuck in my left brain. I have always had the kind of mind that wants to plan my way out of disappointment. It won't work this time but my brain keeps insisting, "I can help" and "let me think our way out of this".

Every day I wake up thinking that today will be the day I get back to work but so far I've just crabwalked through the hours in a torpor. I could fight it harder I suppose. But common sense tells me this is a big event in my life and that I should respect it. Allow myself to feel the sadness and be unproductive if I feel like it. To give it some time.

Everyone has been so kind. So tender. My daughters gave me the best Mother's Day beginning with pedicures, lunch at my favorite restaurant and then full body massages followed by frappucinos. Kindness. So much kindness. I feel the pokes and prods of all the "mothers" who are willing me to go on and not stay moored.

This etched metal Virgin of Guadalupe arrived in the mail along with several other treasures this week from dear Pilar who so many in our community know. She is one of the good guys, a sweet spirit who I know has reached out whenever she could to be of help to others. So thank you Pilar for the music, the stitched drawing on linen, the card and most of all for just knowing someone like you exists in the world to care for the fallen. You are a goddess of light.

That goes for all of you who come here whether you have written or not - I can feel you out there and I'm hoping a week from today I'll have some great news for you. I'm going to do my best to make it so. xo

Saturday, May 08, 2010

May Showers

Gloriosky, the first rose in my garden. Cecile Brunner, my dainty sweetness who greeted me this morning. Not that I've caught up but I finally couldn't ignore the great goings-on outside any longer and so I traipsed outdoors with my camera today and took a few shots for you. These messages from nature uplift me more than I can express. That I can still see, smell and caress the beauty that surrounds me. Deep joy.

I've turned to the journal more than usual as I've navigated recent loss and disappointment. Talking to myself gently. Encouraging myself and coaxing myself to get up and go on. It's been up and down.

Here is my hero, planting tomatoes in the garden. He of the rough, dry hands that never passes by without an encouraging smile and kiss. He just came in and peeked over my shoulder to see what I was doing and he smelled like fish fertilizer. That's my man. I like anything he smells like.

Earlier this week we had a whacking good hail storm that punched holes in the spinach and flattened the heads on the irises.

But here they are this morning in the sunshine, no worse for the wear. These are the irises that smell like grape kool aid that I brought to this house eleven years ago from Orenco. From Mrs. Sharp who gave them to me who has passed on now. She brought me freshly baked bread and pie when we lived next door. She was a good woman to visit and I miss her more than I would have expected. She lives on for me though in these irises.

A school friend who found me on Facebook sent me the photograph from when we were in the Brownies together as young girls. I was so happy to have that photograph again. I wish I still had my beanie and my Brownie pin. I still remember the songs we sang and the girls in my troop. (Troop 19, remember Virginia?)

Last night I pulled a big tub of greens from this planting and tonight I'll make a pasta dish that calls for 4 cups of spinach. I'm thinking if it worked for Popeye it can't hurt me.

We have columbine in every color and shape imaginable. I love how every season brings new surprises in the garden. I don't plant anything myself any more. I just wait to see what Mother Nature brings me.

The leeks and fava beans are powering skyward. Is there anything more tender and mouth watering than baby favas stirred gently in hot olive oil with shallots? Oh, heavens, soon we'll have them!

One of my goals in Cincinnati was to sample Goetta but the occasion did not present itself. It sounds like the way my mother used to make meat loaf. She always added oats to the ground beef and spices. Maybe based on some Illinois version of Ohio's famous dish. I don't make meat loaf myself but I'd eat some now if I had it.

It's so easy to think that the things you look at every day are common but we have to remember that readers of blogs are often in hemispheres outside our own with different seasons and zones. So anyway, this is what's happening at the 45th parallel in the Pacific Northwest. Juicy rhododendrons.

New Zealand spinach. We love this variety. It's quite hardy here and yummy in a Wilted Spinach Salad with bacon and hot vinegar. Gee, how does one talk about one's garden without getting hungry?

The Siberian irises are beginning to pop. I just gave a ball of this variety to my friend last week. I hope hers are blooming now too. This is one of my favorite irises (I have lots of favorites).

This is a very shy and delicate rhody. She must have a name like blushing nymph or such like. 

Busy busy.

Mountain Bluett. Thank goodness it's hardy as it's competing with evil blackberries.

I thought this was a good thing to leave you with today. We just have to hitch up our britches and try. And oh, the joy when we surprise ourselves and discover that we can make things happen and that we have powers beyond our expectations. That we can do the things that bring us joy. 

Monday, May 03, 2010

Rizzle Frazzle

Stephanie and I returned home late Sunday night from our photo shoot and my head is still in a swim. So many experiences packed into those 9 days so tightly with no time to really digest everything. In the shot above our plane is passing over Mt. Hood at dusk after two long and bumpy flights. I was numb to it; at that point I had let myself sink into a state of blissful torpor as I reran the experiences.

One of those experiences was at this restaurant where we ate Italian food so dripping with good olive oil and garlic that we spent some time in heaven. In fact, the wonderful food was a highlight of the trip. Our standing editor Julie and our photographer Christine took us out to lunch every day to the great eateries of Cincinnati and we ate like royalty.

This is what the F & W studio looks like where the book photography is done. Those lights are not bright or hot; when the photos are taken they are augmented with flash. Julie is sitting to the right side of Stephanie where she records every step of our projects and techniques. This will help us later when the actual writing takes place.

Here I am showing a step in one of my projects while Christine takes a shot from above. The room we worked in was very large so we could spread out and make a big mess.

In addition to all the shots for the book, Stephanie and I appeared in three promotional videos for the book. These videos were shot in this room with lots of incredible equipment. Since I am now a quiet person Stephanie did all the talking which drove me crazy. I had to sit on my hammy instincts and let someone else speak for a change.

Stephanie and I managed to get in several good shopping trips while we were there. One of her hauls was this chartreuse metal-flake phone cover. She be lookin' mighty stylish talkin' on that phone now. I don't think she takes a bad picture. (you can take that both ways) Check out her blog posts about our trip too; here and here and here. She had more posting energy than I did.

We both captured shots of this precious dress at a big vintage store we visited. The store was rows on rows enormous and we spent a few hours there combing through the goodies. There was great furniture but too big to ship home so I left with only a few treasures.

One day we visited a nature trail to see if we could spy some cardinals. We don't have cardinals in Oregon so it was a huge thrill to see them flying over our heads and landing in the trees around us. The honeysuckle was beginning to bloom that day and the birdsong was like nothing I've ever experienced before. That powerful fragrance coupled with the joyful singing of the birds was amazing. I fell in love with the soft warmth and luscious forested hills of Ohio and Kentucky. I had no idea that place would be so green and beautiful.

This photo sums it up for me. One rather rickety old gal and one young woman in her prime joining talents and hearts to create a dream. We said many times to each other that this book will be so much better as a result of our collaboratiion. Fate allowed me to make this photo shoot in spite of a few hurdles. Stephanie was the strength I leaned on in Ohio. She held me up and I did not wobble.

Thank you again to those of you who have continuously sent your well wishes. I even dreamed about that last night. I think those messages of hope have sunk down deep into my soul where they give me ongoing sustenance. I send that love and encouragement back out to all of you too as you face your own hurdles and celebrations. It's hard, it's easy, it's life.