Share Your World – 2016 Week 34

I haven’t done this for a few weeks now – the urge just hasn’t been there – but this morning I feel like playing. I’m so glad Cee is flexible about attendance!

1. What is your favorite comfort snack food? Chocolate, in one form or another, most of the time. Although lately I’ve been on a cheese (sharp or extra sharp cheddar) and crackers (Wheat Thins) kick, which I think doesn’t do a lot for the waist line. My rational is in the heat we’ve been having dinner has been a big green salad, so that makes up for it. Right? We won’t talk about the dressing on the salad.

2. Is the paper money in your possession right now organized sequentially according to denomination and with the bills right side up and facing the same way? Very definitely yes. That comes from my training to be a cashier at a movie theater when I was in business school – in those days, that was a very strict requirement. We also had to count change back. I get frustrated now when cashiers hand me (no counting) my change and the bills are all willy nilly. The constant is the changes, right?

3. If you were a mouse in your house in the evening, what would you see your family doing? The mouse would see me in my big chair, feet up, watching TV, playing games on my iPad, or reading. In cool weather, the mouse would see me covered by my so so soft fleece blanket that lives in my chair. The mouse would see my furry girls sprawled somewhere near me, Shasta most often in her chair or on the couch – so the mouse better stay hidden, because my girls would be chasing it in a heartbeat.

4. Would you rather not be able to read or not be able to speak? That’s a hard choice, but I think, like Cee, that not being able to speak with be more readily dealt with either by sign language or writing notes. To not be able to read would take away so much of what I enjoy doing – and, reading directions for something new is a critical part of life for me. I’m very much a written instruction person.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? My gratitude is pretty much always for the very same things in my life – my kids, my friends, my furry girls, the roof over my head, sunshine, birds and their songs, breathing, mobility, time to do things I love and the ability to ignore those things I don’t want to do for awhile. I’m looking forward to more of the same.

I have continued to play/work with alcohol inks, so I’d like to share some of the images created for lessons in the online classes I’m taking with Sheryl Williams. We are working with pouring inks, pens, brushes, and markers.
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This one was one I did just because I wanted to.
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Here’s to you and your days filled with enough.

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I feel like putting words down this morning. If you’re looking for wisdom or cohesiveness or a story line, this is not the place to be. I’m pretty sure this will ramble, because my mode of conversation this week seems to be rambling. Sentences, not so much in the way of paragraphs. Reflects the depth of my thinking these days.

This morning was a sleepy morning, but Shasta thinks by 6:30 a.m. – 7:00 a.m. if she’s being generous – I’ve certainly slept enough, and she and Bailey have needs. They need a trip outside, but more importantly, perhaps, they need breakfast. Because they are very definitely starving to death. Shasta at least. Bailey is less concerned with food, but rarely turns it down. Providing it meets her expectations of the moment. Anyway, after their needs were met, I opted to go back to sleep for awhile. Another couple of hours while, it turned out. Perhaps now I’m prepared for the day. So when I had my morning coffee, my view was much brighter than it is most mornings. Full sun, none of this sun just beginning to peek over the hills behind me. My view, because I’m sure you’re curious.
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We’ve had cooler temperatures for this time of year the past few days – mid 70s for the most part – but we are now on a warming trend again. Which means, if I have any sense at all (the jury is out on that one), I should cut my grass today. Before it heats up more. Soon, while there is still some shade out front. I love the green, but sometimes I think it shoots up just to spite me. Because it knows I’m lazy, and would rather sit and look at it then sit on the mower and chop it down. I’m seeing little bits of color on a few trees – isn’t it too early for that? And the sunflower a bird planted for me is blooming – I think sunflowers are nature’s way of smiling.
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I’ve been undecided about what kind of curtains/valances/window coverings/decoration I’ve wanted in my family room. When husband was alive, we had draperies, but draperies are so heavy and block so much light. Over the past couple of years, I’ve tried different kinds of valances, but none of them have pleased me. I had sheer dark brown scarves a few years ago which I liked, but finding those in the right lengths was tough. So I finally decided scarves were what I wanted, but not in the fabric I could find them in already made, so I ordered a gauze fabric. Lightweight, but not too lightweight. It came the end of last week, so one of this week’s projects has been to measure, cut, hem and hang those scarves. The family room is done now, but I have lots of fabric left – that reflects my concern about “not having enough” – so I might just make new scarves for the morning room windows too. Eventually. Over a period of a few days. Not good to rush into things.
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The other afternoon I heard bird flutterings in the morning room. Investigation turned up a little brown wren that had found his way through the hanging screen on the door but could not find his way out. Last year I had another little wren that kept coming in, until one day he got in and I didn’t know it. He did not survive, sadly. So I managed to capture this year’s wren the other day, and release him back outside. This morning I heard flutterings at a window I had just closed (opened to let in cool air overnight, closed in the morning to keep hot air out). At first, I thought it was a bird outside, but I wasn’t seeing anything, so I went to look. Silly little wren! He had come in again, and was trapped between the screen and the glass. Once again, he was captured and released outside. Perhaps I should turn the morning room into an aviary.

Time is ticking away, and I think it’s now time for me to get out there and cut that grass. To you all, I wish a day overflowing with enough!

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Observations From the Deck

I have spent my day much as I usually do – a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Some laundry, some vacuuming, some playing with alcohol inks, my newest passion – looking for my voice. Preparation of a cold Mediterranean type salad for dinner – to be served with – ready, you gour-mets out there? hot dogs! Hot dogs – yes. Because I often do not eat meat, and when I decided I wanted some meat with tonight’s dinner, I had little time for defrosting, you see. And hot dogs just – appealed.

As is my custom on warm days, I just spent some time on my front deck, where I often enjoy a beer, or a glass of wine, or maybe a Chai Latte, hot or cold, or whatever my little heart says it wants on that day – assuming I have what my little heart says it wants. Sometimes it comes up with wants that I cannot fulfill. Then it has to learn about reality. A lesson it avoids as often as possible.

While sitting on my deck with my furry girls, I realized that what happens with me when I am out there alone is the very thing that named this blog – my mind, elusive at its very best, wanders. Various places. No accounting, no reason, it just goes as it sees fit. Blown about, perhaps, by the rather stiff but very pleasant breeze on this perfect-temperature day. It’s 77 out there – a serious change from the less-pleasant 95+ degree days we were having.

Oh – where was I? Oh yes – the wandering of my mind, such as it is. For a time, I am entertained by the hummingbirds as the flit here and there, chattering all the way. Then, a moment of silence – before they once again flit about, chattering all the way. There are Rufous and Anna’s Hummingbirds – in the shade of the pines, told apart as they flit largely only by size, the Anna’s being a bit bigger. For the most part, they are not terribly good hosts and hostesses, the occasions where they will sit side by side enjoying a bit of nourishment being few and far between. The males, in particular, seem bent on declaring territorial rights. Sadly, there was a juvenile male Rufous lying on the deck when I went out – obviously he dashed too quickly into the window. Still, the numbers flitting about are not few.

I thought a bit about a couple of books I’ve read recently. I first read I Have Sand in all the Wrong Places by Lisa Scottoline and her daughter, Francesca Serritella – apologies, Francesca, if I did not get your last name correct. I have read some of Lisa’s novels, largely those that do not involve a continuing character, and enjoyed them. This one, however, was completely different – written with chapters involving random topics, alternating between mother and daughter, with diversions off-topic scattered throughout – rather a stream-of-consciousness style of writing with great humor. Mother and daughter obviously have a close relationship, a very strong connection, which called to me – perhaps because I feel blessed to have the same thing with my daughter. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and was prompted to purchase another which I’ve not yet read. I believe it’s titled Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim – I would check that, but I’m too lazy to go look at what my iPad Kindle app tells me.

Today, I finished a book titled All the Missing Girls by – okay, now I do need to go see what Kindle says, excuse me for just a moment, please – by Megan Miranda. It starts out, goes to a point, then begins again, only at the end and moves backward to the beginning. Or the end of the beginning before it went to the end. You understand, right? Well, let me tell you, this was indeed, as advertised, a psychological thriller. I started it yesterday afternoon and put it down because duty called after an hour or so, but picked it up instead of turning on TV to watch that final episode of Food Network Star, and read until my eyes refused to stay open last night. I picked it up at lunch today – have I ever told you that’s a habit I developed during childhood that lingers on still – the reading while I eat when I’m alone? Anyway, I picked it up at lunch today, thinking I only had a few pages left, but it seems I really remembered nothing of what I read in the last couple of chapters last night. Apparently my brain went to sleep before it notified me it was time. I finished the book. Just so you know, it was not the characters I feared it might be. That’s all there is to say.

Food Network Star awaits me tonight. Again, just so you won’t worry about my missing that final episode – the crowning of the new “Food Network Star”!

There were more thoughts – how nice the lawn looks for a day or so after it’s cut (I mowed yesterday); how my flower beds are running wild and what I should do about it – then, what I probably will do about it. They are not the same. Changes I could make. It’s so easy to plan work while sitting. But planning involves a lot of time and thinking – one doesn’t want to rush into changes too quickly. Because obviously, one rushed into creating all these flower beds far too quickly when one was much younger, failing to take the time to recognize that time passes, changes to the body, the mind, and the interest levels, happen, and what seems an exciting challenge now might just later be a major drag; might later become something that requires a lot more motivation than I am able to muster up. Anyone know where I can find some motivation? Maybe by the case? Thoughts about how the jackrabbits have a relatively regular schedule, but questions about why sometimes he comes alone and sometimes he brings his partner. And where are all those quail and their young that I was seeing last week?

Then. Reality sets in. Furry girls want dinner. NOW.

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Chicks and Inks

Whoops! Hit publish too soon, so here’s the corrected post. Sorry about that.

My house is too quiet. There are no sounds other than that of the furry girls snores and sounds of the fans, moving the air around. It’s hot outside, much hotter than I like. They say – those “they” that purport to know these things – that it will hit 97 today. I’ll stay inside, doors and windows closed, fans moving the air, pursuing quiet, non-physical activities. Because it’s too hot to be busy.

My house is too quiet because once again my chicks have flown the coop. Kat has returned to Bangkok, where she cuddles with her cats and prepares for her first day of work at her new school on August 1. Gep has returned to Ecuador to go back to the camp on the coast where they are housing and assisting victims of the spring earthquakes. I wander around, occasionally finding myself about to tell one of them something – and then realize their chairs are empty. This too shall pass.

While they were here, we moved some pieces of my furniture that I did not care about to the garage, and replaced those pieces with some of Gep’s furniture – some pieces from Tibet he bought while in China – pieces he prizes and would be better off inside a temperature controlled building for the winter. That process created a trailer-load of the cardboard wrapping that the shippers taped – quite securely taped, I must say – to protect the pieces. Here they are, sedate and stone-faced as they usually are, hauling it off to my burn pit.
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What? Oh, you’d like to see the furniture pieces? Well, I’m here to accommodate and keep you all happy, so here they are.
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My chicks are gone, but my inks remain. A few days ago Robin of Breezes at Dawn fame, posted a photo that drew me in, and made me want to see if I could create the scene with the inks. I made two attempts, the first of which came out like this:
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but I wasn’t sure I was happy with it, so I redid it and came up with this, with a little artistic license of course.
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And then, yesterday when I was avoiding putting all of the items I’d removed from my pieces of furniture into their new homes in Gep’s furniture, and not moving about too much because it was too warm to be busy, I played a bit more, and came up with this:
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Quite similar to some others I’ve done, but yet a bit different. I have a inclination to do mountains – mountains and trees are what I did the most when I was painting with oils. I’ll be taking more classes, one of which will show me how to do water, because water is another of my favorites. I’m excited about that!

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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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