Thursday, December 31, 2009

Book of Beauty

Of the many and varied books that I own, The World of Tasha Tudor is the one I go back to time and time again. I have two of her books and I never tire of looking at the beautiful photographs and imagining how it was that she lived. Tasha Tudor lived in Vermont in a house built for her by her son. She lived an old-fashioned life style without electricity much in the same way that her ancestors lived on the same land.
Tasha Tudor's gardens were splendid and her animals were many. She raised goats and Corgi dogs, using them as models for the illustrations in the books she wrote and illustrated for children; she also had a parrot and a horse. In the dead of winter, she wore a long, hooded, red cape as she traveled back and forth to the barn. It was a stark contrast to the white snow piled up against the out-buildings.
I often think it would have been lovely to have spent the day with Tasha Tudor. But instead, I go there often in my books. Happy New Year everyone.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Waiting Patiently For Creativity To Strike

Sometimes, I have so many creative ideas running through my head that I cannot sleep. Lately, though, I have been going through a very dry spell. I have had the luxury during the past several days to spend as much time as I need on my art. But, as luck would have it, or whatever else one would call it, I have no ideas.

I have begun reading,
Living The Creative Life by Rice Freeman-Zachery, a gift from Janet at Christmas. I am trying to begin the transition from left-brain daily thought to the right-brain world of art. It will not be easy for me. Not only have I spent the past thirty five years in concrete sequential thought, fighting the abstract random person inside, but I have also attempted to tame the distractible, playful child that has lived inside of me for sixty six years. So now, I must coax her out to play, to paint, to glue, to make messes, and to not care.
I know I have begun this process through my collages and drawings. But I want to know what I'm doing and right now, I don't know what I'm doing. Does that matter? I have signed up for a creativity class called Mondo Beyondo that begins online in January. I have also registered for a class that will teach me how to solder so that I can begin making assemblage pieces. I think I will summon a muse for myself; maybe invent an imaginary alter ego.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Time Traveling

Today, I traveled back in time, not in a special machine from Back To The Future, and not in the transporter from Star Trek. I merely drove a few miles down the road to Silver Springs Park Attraction here in Ocala. As you can see by the photograph of the entrance to the park, this is not Disneyworld. Silver Springs is a nature park that has been in Ocala since before I was a little girl. Sixty years ago, my family and I would make the very long drive from Tampa to Ocala and visit Silver Springs. My family at the time consisted of myself, my mother, and my father; however, we never went anywhere this exciting without the nudging and accompaniment of my Aunt Margie, Uncle Lynwood, and cousins Paul and Judy.
The special and most amazing thing about Silver Springs back in the forties was that one could ride in a glass-bottom boat and witness all that was below the water line if the sun shone on the water just right. When I was young, it seemed like magic because there was nowhere else that could give us that kind of entry into the unknown underwater world of the Silver River, or any other river for that matter.
Today, when I stepped into that glass-bottomed boat after sixty years, the thrill was much the same. The boats are not as shiny as they were back then; the wooden interior is not as polished and new. However, the glass in the bottom of the boat was the same and the thrill of seeing fifty or more feet to the bottom of the river was as exciting as ever.
I think the biggest thrill I had today was in listening to the excitement of the children who were on board with their families. There was no expectation for anything mechanical or glittery. There was no expectation of a thrill ride or characters dressed in costumes. There was simply nature; tossing fish food out of the window, spotting an alligator on the shore or noticing a turtle on the river bank.
It was discovery at its best. And it was wonderful to see that not very much has changed on the Silver River since I was a girl. Kids are still kids; the water is still pure; the gators still love the sun; and mullet still jump straight up in the air no matter what time of day it is.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas Everyone

The Christmas table is set and our guests will arrive around 2pm. The roast pork has been in the oven since 6am and I am drinking a great cup of coffee while I wait until it's time to begin cooking the black beans, mashed potatoes, carrots, and plantains. We are having a rather traditional Cuban Christmas meal although I add the mashed potatoes and carrots as extras.
It is windy and drizzly outside but Cocoa hasn't noticed. She is waiting for Santa.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

On The Way Back From Somewhere

I took this beautiful photograph through the car window on the way back from somewhere. The sky was turning from light to dark (dark-thirty, as Janet and I like to say), the shadows were growing longer and day was quickly turning into night. Cold weather was on its way and the contrails looked like giant feathers.
The honeysuckle in the back garden has donned its fall berries in bright orange just in time for the Thanksgiving season.
The beauty-berry bush has only recently decided to turn it's berries purple. This is the bush in the back garden bed. The other beauty-berry bushes around the yard have been purple for about a month. The timing of nature is a curiousity.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

In Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness

This is my new art piece in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Her name is "Survivor".

Saturday, October 3, 2009

My Mother's Legs

Sometimes, I look in the mirror and I see my mother staring back at me in the reflection. I think all of us who are aging have that happen every now and then and it does not really surprise us. Yesterday, though, as I was getting dressed for work, I saw my mother's legs in my mirror and they were attached to me. What I mean is that the skin on my legs is sagging, slowly making it's way to the tops of my knees. And no matter now thin I get, my legs do not change. I now have the legs of an old woman. I don't know why this surprises me so, I am creeping up towards seventy. So what do I expect? Perhaps the legs of the bouncy majorette of the 1950's? Or the firm, strong legs of the runner of the 197o's? Or the still pretty fantastic legs as I "worked out" in the 1980's?

No, those legs are gone. In their place are my mother's legs. They stare back at me in mockery, causing me to think about the things that really matter. What matters is that I have amassed a good deal of wisdom as these legs have responded to gravity; I have made a difference to the lives of many as my hair has grown whiter; and I have learned much from my life as my face has taken on its wrinkles. And so instead of quoting from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, "I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled...", I will quote instead from my favorite Robert Frost poem, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening: " And I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep".

I can live with my mother's legs. I can live with my father's jaw line. But that is where the similarity ends. I am carving my own initials on the tree of my life. And the tree is only a sapling. I have much work to do.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Destination Location

We pretended we were on vacation yesterday and took a drive to our favorite restaurant in Ozello. You have to really want to go there to go there. The drive is about an hour and a half with the last ten miles down a very winding, very "Old Florida" road. It is a beautiful drive with tawny-colored marshes on either side of the road and little patches of water that make you want to slide a kayak in and paddle for a while.
Once you arrive, you can go behind the restaurant and see the live crabs that are kept in a bin until the customers want crabs. I always want crabs and yesterday was no exception. The garlic crabs were phenomenal; the Sam Adams was superb; and the view was one in a million.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Waiting For the Change of Seasons

I read someone's blog today and it seems the seasons are changing in New York. How I wish they were changing in Florida. Just in case autumn is right around the corner, I spent the day killing weeds and getting the garden ready for it's next performance. I used to pull weeds by hand but lately, I've decided that using weed killer is much more efficient and saves my energy for things that are more important. Although I thought the hummingbirds had begun their southern migration, I was wrong. They are still in the garden and I saw two of them this morning. I also was happy to see three or four nuthatches that were eating bugs all over the garden. I never have nuthatches in my yard so this was quite a thrill for me. It doesn't take much. Just a new bird or a new flower or maybe a little change in the morning light to let me know cooler weather is on it's way. The bean plants are about six inches tall and the lettuce are thriving. In about two more weeks, I'll plant Swiss Chard. In the meantime, I will dream of a drop in temperature and an excuse to wear my black suede jacket.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Bit of Rumination

I am having a very hard time with work right now. It is brutally busy and I am very, very tired. I decided that I need to be working on a journal in which I chronicle how long during the weekend it takes me to recover from the week. And so, I began this Saturday. It took me until about noon to get my energy rounded up so that I could enjoy the rest of Saturday and the entire day on Sunday. I am trying to decide how much longer I want to work and we are taking Thanksgiving week off to spend some time at the beach as we contemplate the next stage of our lives. The last time I retired, I became bored very quickly and felt purposeless and useless. (Those are almost the same, aren't they?) But that was nine years ago (actually, almost ten) and I was much younger. These days, I relish a lazy beginning to the morning with a good cup of coffee and a round of Farmville with a few friends on Facebook. Then I like to do a little art or maybe a little gardening. I think I sound like an old woman. Yee Gads!! Then a trip to IKEA or to the Friday Farmer's Market.

I have a lot of thinking to do. I will know more after our November retreat.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Trip to IKEA

We took a field trip to IKEA last Saturday and among the wonderful things we brought home was this kitchen island. I have wanted a chopping block island since we moved into this house and now I finally have it. I can't wait to start chopping on it. After seeing Julie and Julia this past weekend, I will act like Julia Child and chop onions until I am an expert.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Where This Blogger Creates

Colette Copeland of A Bird in the Hand, said in her daily blog that today is" Where Bloggers Create" day. I think that means posting a photo of where we create if we blog because she posted a photograph of her blogging space. Well, this is a picture of my blogging space; also, my studio space, my guest room when the Murphy bed is pulled down, and my workout room when I am working out to a DVD on the computer. So I guess this is my multi-purpose room. But I love it. It is the place I go to think, to create, to network, and to drink my coffee first thing in the morning.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New Little Idea

New little hang-tag created from a very old, vintage birthday card. Isn't she cute?

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Yesterday, I wanted to try a new sketch but couldn't really find any subject matter that appealed to me. It was raining outside so I couldn't so out into the garden and the inside of the house seemed boring to me. So I looked in my photo box for two vintage photographs. Although both photos featured people, I can't draw people yet so I left the people out. The sketch above is one of a little store in Tampa back in the 1920's.
This is a sketch of the house where my parents spent part of their honeymoon in San Francisco in 1933, I like the idea of drawing only the background scenery in photographs and may do more.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Something To Ponder

Yesterday, while looking for something to read, I selected Winter Walk from our extensive library collection. Winter Walk is the true story of an Alaskan Athabascan woman, her children, and her journey of survival during the winter of 1892. While Janet is a reader of historical non-fiction, I tend to select books of other genre. However, once I read the following quote from the prologue, I knew I would be compelled to read the entire book.

"Imagine if the survival of others as well as ourselves depended on our skills, knowledge, inner strength, and respect."

I wonder if I would have had the courage and fortitude to make the very hard decisions this woman was required to make throughout the course of this story. I wonder if I would have been able to make the sacrifices necessary to protect my children. I suppose these are questions every mother would ask in light of a story such as this one. I recommend this book highly. It raises many questions about life, hardship, commitment, family, and what is really important when all is said and done. And you can read it in one afternoon.

Alaska today.....still very desolate and unforgiving in it's uninhabited territories, even in the spring of the year (pictured here).

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Time of Secrecy

There was a time when children were to be seen and not heard; when little girls were given no importance; when good manners was the protocol at the expense of one's own spirit.... It Was A Time of Secrecy.

Playing Around With Color

Though a little hazy, this is my experiment with my new watercolor pencils. I can draw with them and then use a wet brush to activate the watercolors. The pencils provide an easier way to blend colors prior to adding the water. I think I will like using them. They are portable and effortless.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Never Too Old For A Pedicure

The feet of an aging woman, drawn while applying polish...though not beautiful, at least interesting!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

View From the Porch

This Guy Wolf hand-thrown pot from the foundry in Connecticut, was purchased many years ago on a trip to New England. Growing inside, a green and burgundy caladium and a red salvia, a volunteer that seeded itself. Hand drawn, then water colored.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Slip On the Closet Door

A watercolor of Aunt Isabel's vintage slip hanging on the closet door. This slip is actually off white and is at least 50 years old. All cotton, double panel on the skirt, priceless.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Mexican Cup

Fill with a strong expresso, add a little cream, and take to the third floor terrace where you will sit and listen to the birds and the bells and the barking dogs. Add a Mariachi band, the sound of the Santorini delivery man, the knife sharpener, and the garbage truck and you know you are in San Miguel. This watercolor is of the one, solitary cup I purchsed from a street vendor in San Miguel one year ago this week. I want to go back there. And I want to go back now!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

On Lake Santa Fe

Another in the set of watercolor journal pages I am working on. I work in a 5x7 watercolor book that is easy to transport and great to sketch in. I sketch first and watercolor later. It is a lot like coloring and I have never lost my love for coloring. This drawing was done from a photograph taken on Lake Santa Fe during my visit to Melrose. The photo appears in one of my previous posts.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

In the Trunk

"Not allowed to have a studio at home one artist made collages in the trunk of her car."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Of Vision Boards, Retreats, and Solitude

This weekend, I went to visit a dear friend in Melrose, Florida. I had never been to Melrose even though it is scarcely less than an hour away from my home. My friend has the soul of an artist but is so busy in her work, that she never really gets the opportunity to explore that side of herself. And so, I took all of the makings for a vision board, several art magazines, many articles about creativity, scissors, and glue.
We spent the day having brunch, talking, talking, and talking; then we worked on our vision boards and I took photographs of this beautiful setting to sketch later in my little sketch and watercolor book. After this wonderful day of visiting, creating art, and fishing with a cane pole and wiggly worms, I felt that I had truly gone on a retreat.
Our next adventure is to plan a women's discovery retreat for October and I can hardly wait.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Singer and Dancer in the Studio

In my studio, I am surrounded by items that I love. This is the Singer sewing machine, originally a treadle machine, that belonged to my mother and upon which I learned to sew fifty years ago. (My, has it been that long?) I dreaded summer sewing lessons but my mother insisted that every proper young lady should know how to sew. Therefore, I would go each week to Mrs. Lazzara who would comment constantly about the selvage edge of the fabric. I was not a good seamstress back then but learned enough that I could make dresses for my three daughters until they begged me to stop.
Hanging on my supply cabinet are these pointe shoes, a gift from my oldest daughter to indulge my fantasy of being a ballerina someday. My mother also made certain I had dance lessons and so, at the age of four, I began taking lessons at Ella May's School of the Dance. Can you tell how very old I am by these requirements of my youth? Dancing school was a constant frustration for me, though, because only the cute little blond girls could be ballerinas. I was a cute little Hispanic girl and so I was only allowed to tap dance. These pointe shoes are a reminder for me that I could have been a great little ballerina if I had been given the opportunity. And my art is frequently a mirror of the events and descrimination that still creep into the world of women and girls. I would love to hear your stories if you are willing to share.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sunflower Wants the Sun

It has been raining for five straight days and this sunflower wants the sun back. Actually, I am the one who wants the sun back even though it will make everything extremely humid. After all, this is Florida!! As I anticipate a three day weekend in honor of Memorial Day, rain could be good though. I have two new books from the library; The Story of Edgar Sawtell and Scarpetta, the new book by Patricia Cornwell. So I could read. And I believe my next collage has finally taken shape in my head so I could work on that. The beans in the garden will be ready to pick by Sunday or Monday....I have never grown beans so this is very exciting. And I need to pick the last of the lettuce which has been fantastic. The property needs to be mown, the beds trimmed, and mulch spread. Just another day in paradise...for which I am very grateful.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

New Artistic Playthings

Janet bought me a Pocket Field Sketch box, water colors for traveling. I tried out my sketchpad yesterday while sitting on the back steps. I haven't had to courage to use color yet but may do that today. Small pages are easy to work with; not quite as intimidating as a large sheet of watercolor paper. I never fancied myself as a sketching or drawing artist but I'm trying to just let myself go without being judgmental about my product.

This jar of buttons is a prize I found at a yard sale on Friday morning. I got up really early so I could get to the sale before going to work. I love old buttons and was excited to find this unique assortment. I plan to use some of them in my next collage which is already taking up space in by brain. I have been wanting to construct a collage with a religious theme and am finally ready to tackle it. I can see these buttons embellishing an altar of some sort.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Work In Progress; How Long Will This Take?

I've been working on this piece for at least three weeks and before that, it was dancing around in my head at all hours of the day and night. I am still not finished although I'm a lot closer now than I have been. I knew as soon as I saw these glass knobs that I would use them in this fashion.
At first I wanted to call this "Just Because I Have Boobs Doesn't Mean I Don't Have Brains." But then, Janet gave me this phrase and the piece has become, " A Woman Uses the Currency She's Born With." Both are very biting, I think. And so, just a little more to go. Or maybe a lot.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Artistry In The Garden

I have no new art to show because I am working on a series that is not ready yet. I have the idea and I have one of the images created but my creativity is blocked. Therefore, I garden. These are some of my new butterfly plants. I love pink and red salvia and am having wonderful luck with lavender this year also.
I love the way the plants sway in the breeze, particularly when a butterfly lands on a flower and weighs it down. The Knock Out Rose is almost as tall as the yard umbrella in the back garden.

As always, the art and garden assistant watches carefully over the proceedings. This perch is Cocoa's favorite spot as it allows her to watch out the window without exerting too much effort.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Where I've Been

We just returned from a wonderful vacation in North Carolina. Pictured here is Looking Glass Falls. It is a spectacular sight to see and hear as it cascades down the rock into a pool below.
These forsythia bushes (yellow) and pink blossomed willow trees lined the driveway of Barkwell's , a fabulous place that caters to families with dogs. It was our first stay at this wonderful location and we recommend it highly. Cocoa thought it was fantastic!!