Summertime and the Living is Easy

It’s been a good month. I’ve been relaxing – the messy house can just wait until later – because my kids are here. Kat arrived the end of June
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with Gep coming in two weeks later. I fumbled when he arrived and did not get the traditional “arrival” photo. We have spent our time being lazy, enjoying one another’s company. Gep strumming on his guitar, providing a wonderful, peaceful background sound, while Kat works on her projects.
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And I play with my alcohol inks, completing the class assignments – some with more success than others – but oh, the distance to go to become proficient.
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There is one I was happy enough with that I framed it.
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There are more classes, and I will soon be signing up for the August level 2 session.

Inside, we avoid listening to the news. Reading headlines is more than enough, most often. I need to know what’s going on in the world, despite the fact that it dismays me more often than not, but I do not need to immerse myself in it. We enjoy our coffee in the morning, while the furry girls lie quietly near us. They are rarely far from their people.
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Evenings, we have been binging on Amazon videos – most often Orphan Black, a BBC America series – because I have “cut the cable”, no more DirecTV, streaming only. We have enjoyed a glass, or two, of wine during our lazy evenings
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Outside, things bloom
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And nature provides us with bright displays to draw the days to a close.
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My life right now overflows with enough.

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Let the Learning Begin!

My alcohol ink painting online class started just over a week ago, and since Dawn asked how it was going, I thought I would share with all of you. It’s a new way of creating for me, but has some resemblance to water color painting – an art I never did successfully manage.

The first week’s lesson dealt with learning about the inks, how some colors have more alcohol content than others and will, therefore, flow more readily. The lighter the colors, the more alcohol. Included in this lesson was adding texture using alcohol mist, cotton balls, cotton swabs, bits of felt – pretty much whatever was on hand that you felt like using. Our challenges were to play with the flow of the inks, and to add texture. My attempts with flow and texture looked like this:

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Much of what I’ve done has been on 4″ x 4″ white ceramic tiles, because those can be cleaned off with alcohol and reused. I have a limited amount of Yupo paper, which is the “preferred” media – the only real requirements are that the media be nonporous – but have ordered more and will be using it more in future attempts.

Week two introduced more challenges – brushwork, lifting, and masking. The brushwork assignment was to create an apple, containing the flow of the inks to inside the lines. You will see that I was relatively successful, although there are some small places where I went outside the lines. Sometimes that’s okay, sometimes it’s not. My first attempt at the apple went like so:
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Then, a little more color:
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And some refining:

I found lifting a little more difficult, and my first try was done on Yupo paper. Unlike ceramic tile, Yupo will stain a little from the inks, so your tree trunk will have a hint of color. In my attempt to make the lifting a little easier, I used lighter colors for my background, ending up with this:
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Fail. Not enough contrast. So I went to a 4 x 4 tile I had done earlier when practicing with flow, and added a tree:
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Better, I think. I was happy with this one. I used cotton swab and brushes – some aqua brushes I’d purchased, which have tubes into which you can add whatever liquid is appropriate for what you’re doing. I had played with them, adding alcohol first, then trying blending solution, but I found too much of the liquid was released and I needed more containment for what I was doing. I switched to simply using the brush, dipping the tip into alcohol or blending solution as needed to lift the inks from the surface.

I have not yet attempted the masking assignment – that will be next.

I’m having fun – loving the concept that you’re never to old to learn something new.

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The Wonders of Alcohol

Hey! I saw that smirk, that little glimmer in your eye. Are you thinking about that last time you had just a wee bit too much to drink, and remembering the wonders of alcohol and how you felt the next morning? Well, yes, there is that. There is the alcohol that is meant for consumption. Human consumption. The kind that numbs the mind and makes a very very bad day not quite so bad. Or at least, not remembered in so much detail. But, far more often, the kind that makes sitting on my deck with a glass in hand in the early evening a wonderful way to just enjoy the world outside and watch the birds flit around, listen to their songs, and enjoy the newest blossoms smiling at the sun.
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But that’s not all, you know. There is regular, old-fashioned rubbing alcohol. That which contains antiseptic qualities, and has many uses for cleaning as well as sanitizing. We all have at least one of these bottles in our cabinets, don’t we?

Recently, I stumbled across another kind of alcohol. Not meant for human consumption, as least not orally. Not meant for sanitizing or cleaning. Meant to create beauty – or, in my case, attempt to create beauty. But then, it’s not just alcohol, there are other components. I learned about this from our little local newsletter, where I saw an ad for a class to be offered at our local art gallery – it was called alcohol ink painting, and the photos of some of the samples intrigued me. So I signed up – but, alas, the class did not happen because enough people did not sign up. I think that part might have been mishandled just a bit, and that the ad could have been more explicit about signing up in advance, but so be it. I had bought the requisite materials, so I tried playing at home. As always, when I become interested in something new, I research and research and research and watch videos and read tutorials, all in an attempt to have a clue. A beginning point.

Well – I almost had a beginning point. I almost had a clue. Maybe. But I found those inks of the alcoholic kind to be a bit wayward, a bit headstrong, not much interested in being controlled by a neophyte. So I spent a lot of time typing the words into Google, watching videos and tutorials that came up, still not managing to create anything near what the instructors created. Frustration! Then I stumbled upon an online class, offered by Sheryl Williams. I signed up. The class doesn’t start until July 2, and is the kind I like best – work at your own pace with lots of videos and instructions offered. The material is available for a year from the start date, giving the opportunity to practice and practice and hopefully, even this old lady will catch on. The medium intrigues me because in the painting I’ve done in years past, I’ve always had this need to come up with a very realistic result. I’ve never been able to let myself just play, just go with the flow, the heart, and end up with something abstract, but yet still speaks to me. I am hoping alcohol inks will encourage that in me.

I have bought the materials listed for the class – many more than the class that didn’t happen required – in fairness, it was only a two hour class and could not possibly cover the territory this one will at four week – the paints and other things, so now I have a pretty impressive collection.

And I have played. And played. One of the blessings of this type of painting is that if you are not satisfied with what you’ve done and your surface permits – I’m using ceramic tiles, anything non-porous will work – you can simply clean it off with – surprise! – alcohol. The rubbing kind. Then go have a glass of the drinking kind, come back and try again. A little of what I have done –

you can see how far I have to go. Stay tuned.

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In My Garden, And Other Thoughts

I have managed, occasionally, to take a photo or two when I’m wandering around the yard, and I thought this might be a good time to show you what’s happening out there right now. Other than the weeds and grasses that pop up where they aren’t wanted, that is. Oh yes, and the mosquitoes, which are abundant this year. There are blessings in having a wet winter, but also penalties I suppose.

Shortly after we moved here, nearly 17 years ago, I planted a Chinese Fringe Tree – it was a tiny little thing and it struggled and struggled for the first couple of years. It’s starting to look a little more like a future tree although it’s only about two feet tall. I hope to live long enough to see it become a real tree. It’s blooming now, and I love these little clusters of fringes.
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In the front, in what are supposed to be “groundcover beds”, a couple of plants from a nearby flower bed have transplanted themselves. The geranium and the Lady’s Mantle are quite indiscriminate about where they pop up, along with the ornamental strawberries that they birds have spread about. I did like the look of the Lady’s Mantle as the morning sun shown on the water drops on its leaves.
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A special delight yesterday afternoon was having this butterfly light upon the flowers in the pot on the morning room deck – it showed up as I was attempting to clean accumulated yellow pine pollen from the deck surface – thank you Ponderosas! What is that you’re saying? Oh yes, something about taking the bad with the good, right?
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The bad and the good. There is always a lot of good. There is enough. The things I most appreciate from the last few days:

Cooler temperatures
The birds that are drawn by the trees surrounding me – yes, those trees whose by-products I complain about so frequently – they bestow blessings too.
The opportunities to spend most of my days as I choose – lounging, creating, taking care of chores slowly by slowly, enjoying my furry kids.
Emails and texts from my kids, in their faraway homes.
Time with friends.

I was supposed to take a class yesterday on Alcohol Ink Painting. The class did not happen – because there were not enough people signed up. Basic problem – the ad did not say to sign up in advance and, although I had called the phone number listed and left my name and number stating that I was interested in the class, I did not get a call back. I suspect the phone number was incorrect. It looks like this will be another of those things I teach myself. I have the supplies, all except the non-porous surfaces on which to paint and that will be remedied by a trip to town tomorrow, and a delivery from Amazon tomorrow evening.

This post cannot end without the requisite photos of the newest member of our family, little Willy – formerly known as Batman/Little Boy/Little Boy Batman, and some other names I probably should not repeat here. Batman seemed a heavy name for such a little guy to carry, so he is now named Sir William Batman. I can hear you, you know – you’re saying “Sir William Batman, that’s not a heavy name?” I know, and that’s why we call him Willy. I am quite certain he will grow into a name beginning with Sir – he is, after all, going to be a CAT. Kittens are a delight – kittens are maddening – kittens are kittens, learning how to be cats. Which are a delight, which are maddening – Kat and I have agreed it is good that God made kittens cute, because if he did not, they would all be homeless.

The quiet times, those times that make the times he is climbing my plants and chasing my fingers as I type tolerable. Willy sprawls
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Willy looks cute as he sleeps
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and have you ever seen such an innocent face?

Yep, innocent while asleep. The reason he is not homeless.

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Let’s Ramble

It’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted. The world smiles more again, and we jumped from spring to mid-summer very quickly. From perfect temperatures in the 70s to the 90s, almost overnight. Too quickly for me. Neither too cold nor too hot temperatures please me, but then again, I don’t think pleasing me is Mother Nature’s top priority.

In my absence, I have put some plants in pots outside, and maybe one of these days I’ll even take some pictures to show you – because, why should you take my word for it? You all know how lazy I really am. There is much more waiting to be attended to outside, but I am still undecided as to how important those chores are. Until I make that decision, I shall linger inside or out on the deck, pondering, relaxing, enjoying.

There are the antics of the kitten – Batman, aka Little Boy, Little Boy Batman, LBB, Lubb (because LBB would sound like that), Lubby, Hey You!, NO! As the only male in the house, it is important he keep his eye on us, most particularly me.

It’s his job to keep me in line

Napping is harder now, for the big furry girls. This little thing races wildly about the house, caring not whose nose or toes he pounces on. Though, sometimes, exhaustion overcomes him, and we are given freedom to do as we please, without assistance. For a brief period of time, anyway.

The lawn needs mowing. But it’s Sunday. And thunderstorms are threatening. And although now it’s cloudy and not too warm, the sprinklers ran overnight and the grass is wet. And I don’t really feel like it.

The house needs cleaning. Again. But it’s Sunday. And I don’t feel like it.

I went to town the other day and got a pedicure. My pedicurist (what are they called anyway?) asked if I’d been gardening because my legs have a network of fine scratches. No, I said – but I have a kitten, and when I’m sitting at my computer desk, my legs are his ladder to the desktop, where he needs to be because I need supervision. And help. My pedicurist, who I’m certain was wishing he hadn’t asked that question, said – very thoughtfully – “oh”. Conversation successfully deterred.

Kathy, of Lake Superior Spirit blog fame, talked about sentences that go on forever without punctuation in her blog the other day. It kind of felt like a challenge one that would be very difficult for me not so much the sentence that goes on forever but the lack of punctuation because my fingers just automatically go to those keys as I type and it’s hard to control them you know but I’m going to try that now because like I said it kind of felt like a challenge one that I could take on because it didn’t require any heavy lifting or real effort on my part other than to make my brain communicate with my fingers in the way I want it to rather than the way it thinks it should so here I am without punctuation or very much coherence just kind of putting words on the paper and letting you go where you might with them but I think any second now that’s going to end because I really want to share a couple more photos with you. There! That’s done! Take that, Kathy!

While I ponder how much outside work I really care to do, I sometimes sit in my morning room chair, watching what’s going on in the bird tree outside my window. The other day, one of our regular summer visitors, the Western Tanager, came by to say hello.

Isn’t he a pretty boy?

Oh! He was there a second ago!

This morning on Facebook, I read a post my daughter had shared, written by a woman who said she “wanted her daughters to fill their space” – whether it be physical appearance or size, opinions, thoughts, dreams. It was a very interesting post, well-written, voicing thoughts I’ve had frequently through my life, and quite often of late. It seems society expects a great deal of all of us, but mostly women, and expects that we will fit those Hollywood propagated ideals – you know, the right weight, the right shape, wrinkle-free, intelligent but not pushy about it, talented in the kitchen, charming – all of those ideals. Unreal. Uniform. As I read this post, my thoughts went to the ways this applies not only to the young, but to those of us who are maturing, probably more quickly than we like. My thoughts went like this: Yes, yes! When we get old and our skin is more like crepe paper than satin, sags in unbecoming ways, and bears scars of tangles with life, puppy and kitten claws, rose bushes – when we are inclined to hide it all but it’s 90 degrees out there and we want to sprawl in the only cool spot we can find, unconfined, we need the freedom to be what we are and to fill our space. Unashamed.

My mind wants to ramble on about the current political campaigns, but I find that topic displeasing. Frightening. I must be dreaming. No, nightmaring. So I won’t go there. Instead, I will end with a photo of clouds that I thought were very interesting – appropriate because they occurred at sundown (sundown, an ending) the other evening.

Go forth now, and prosper! Prosper in accordance with your own personal definition of the word.

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These past couple of weeks have not been good ones. I’m calling Uncle!

My cold reinvented itself as sinusitis and a viral “thing” (my doctor’s words), and has knocked me basically flat.

Saturday evening we had a freakish accident in my house, and Misty May did not survive it. It was horrible, and I am having trouble erasing those awful images from my mind. Double Uncle!

I’m crawling into a hole now. For awhile. Until the world smiles again.

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Our Week of Bliss

Upholding traditions is important, don’t you think? Of course you do. So the first week of May, we neighborhood “girls” – or at least 3 of us, with The Artistic One flying in from Santa Fe, New Mexico – upheld our tradition of spending the week on the Oregon Coast, in a comfortable condo in Depoe Bay. Part of that tradition includes stopping at Dairy Queen at about the halfway mark. This trip, we double-dipped – we stopped at our regular Dairy Queen for lunch (no photos of that), and then, further along, we checked out a second Dairy Queen for extra energy for the rest of our drive.
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Once we arrive, it’s always important to check out the view from the balcony, to reassure ourselves that the ocean is, indeed, still here.
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During the week, we ventured out nearly every day, although we spent more time relaxing at our temporary home than we usually do. Part of that was because on the third day, I managed to catch a cold – say, what?! I haven’t had a cold for a very long time, and the timing on this one was not to my satisfaction. We did, however, get out enough to be satisfied – a little shopping, a little wandering to sightsee with part of one afternoon spent at Nye Beach because that’s what you do when you’re on the coast near Newport.
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A little house up above the beach caught my eye – picturesque and so warm and inviting I think.
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The wind was strong and cool, so after being outside for awhile, we wandered down to Nana’s Irish Pub seeking something to warm our hearts and bodies.
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We opted for an Irish Coffee, but, as you can see, we are sharing only a little of it with you. Because that’s just how we are.
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There were lots of late lunches out, one at MacDangDangs Reefside, where we enjoyed beer and wine with out halibut and chips – but the halibut and chips were shy and did not wish to be photographed.
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Of course we had a late lunch at Mo’s in Newport, too. That’s a must when you are at the coast.
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At home, we read and worked on jigsaw puzzles
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enjoyed wine on our balcony
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watched the 5 geese who spent every day foraging in the grass below us

and the gulls gathering nesting materials and preening

as well as taking a short walk to check out the seals,

one of which wanted to know what the heck we were looking at anyway!

We enjoyed quiet evenings with a variety of sunsets
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and then, alas, the week ended, far too soon as it always does. We returned home, restored, refreshed, sad to leave our holiday but happy to be back home.

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