Several thousand petroglyphs can be found on Easter Island, 2300 miles west of Chile. Most of them carvings of the mysterious "bird man" orTangata Manu.
Tangata Manu's followers have become known as the "bird man cult." Each year, the bird man's followers performed a ritual. First, islanders traveled to the village of Orongo, where a member of each tribe was chosen for a competition.
These men were in a race to collect the egg of a sooty tern bird. They had to race down treacherous cliffs, swim out to the island, find the egg, and then swim it back to the main island (and back up the mountain) without breaking it. Many died.
The first man to return an egg -unbroken - secured special treatment for one year. He went into seclusion in a hut built on risers, grew his fingernails, and watched the village from above.
The bird man cult and the ritual survived until the 1800s, when small pox and slave ships decimated the indigenous population on Easter Island.
Ophelia is a minor, but haunting, character in Shakespeare's Hamlet - a tale of tragic deception, madness, death, and suicide. She lives to please the men in her life; men who never accept or return her love.
Hamlet was kind to her for a time but became cold and cruel. She returns that cruelty with love but, in the end, Hamlet humiliates her after they are intimate.
Unable to cope with his cruelty, Ophelia begins the descent into madness. She wanders to the river, singing love songs and twirling flowers in her hair. Finally, she drowns herself.
Ophelia was a popular subject for Victorian painters - though most chose to romantic portrayals of her innocence and beauty. Sir John Everett Millais shocked Victorian England with his painting of Ophelia (1851). Here she is - hands stiff; mouth ajar; skirts floating.
If you are interested in the story of Hamlet, you might try renting one of the film productions. Screen adaptations of Shakespeare's work are often easier to follow than trying to read the plays. Probably the best place to start is with Director Franco Zeffirelli's version. Zeffirelli cast...wait for it...Mel Gibson as Hamlet. Ophelia is played by Helena Bonham Carter.
Mel Gibson...I know...but Zeffirelli's version is set in Shakespeare's time and gives amazing castle visuals. You could also try the not-as-grand Kenneth Branaugh/Kate Winslet, or Ethan Hawke/Julia Stiles; versions. Up to you. If you see all three you'll be able to see how each actress chose to play Ophelia - and there are important differences.
Modern adaptation of the story can also be a great introduction to Shakespeare. Did you know that one of the most familiar treatments of Hamlet is the Disney movie, The Lion King?
Poem: "Passengers," by Billy Collins from Picnic, Lightning © University of Pittsburgh Press.
At the gate, I sit in a row of blue seats
with the possible company of my death,
this sprawling miscellany of people—
carry-on bags and paperbacks—
that could be gathered in a flash
into a band of pilgrims on the last open road.
Not that I think
if our plane crumpled into a mountain
we would all ascend together,
holding hands like a ring of skydivers,
into a sudden gasp of brightness,
or that there would be some common place
for us to reunite to jubilize the moment,
some spaceless, pillarless Greece
where we could, at the count of three,
toss our ashes into the sunny air.
It's just that the way that man has his briefcase
so carefully arranged,
the way that girl is cooling her tea,
and the flow of the comb that woman
passes through her daughter's hair ...
and when you consider the altitude,
the secret parts of the engines,
and all the hard water and the deep canyons below ...
well, I just think it would be good if one of us
maybe stood up and said a few words,
or, so as not to involve the police,
at least quietly wrote something down.
The painting is from an altar piece at St. Ignatius Mission, in St. Ignatius, Montana.
Henri Rousseau, Portrait of a Woman (the Polish school teacher), 1895. Musee Picasso.
So, I've lived here for six years now and I pretty much have just the one local friend. I mean, there are others, but it's really only Sue that understands me, or at least , laughs at my jokes and can get together with me even without a bottle of wine.
When I go home from My One Friend Sue's house, I've genuinely enjoyed my time there and I feel like I got to be 100 percent myself, which is altogether too rare in these parts.
Can you call someone your "friend" if, after six years of get-togethers, they don't really know anything about you? I mean, don't know you're an artist? Or that you own your own business?
In that case, I think you're just a "drinking buddy." A friendship that is organized like that doesn't go deep, and it doesn't include any of the things that are really important about you. Your job is to be the audience, you've bought a bar stool ticket to watch the drinking stories of the past being performed night after night. If you're lucky, they allow some measure of audience participation.
Back to the point. The problem with My One Friend Sue (MOFS) is that she's only here in the summer. An amazing opportunity opened up this summer, though, when MOFS' husband decided to start his own company, thereby opening up the possibility of relocation from big city to here.
I lobbied hard. I even offered to home school their children, given their worries about high school graduation rates on the Reservation. I know the limits of my expertise, and I made it clear MOFS would have to find someone else to teach the Maths part. My course units were organized around "Lifestyle Skills:"
Lifestyle Skills Class Syllabus
1. Makeup for Camping; Makeup FOREVER!
2. The Miracle of Spray Paint.
3. Hair: Brush Styling for the Masses.
4. Found Objects/Functional Art.
5. Baked Goods 101
6. Nothing Unconnected Ever Occurs: Reading, Writing, Going Within.
7. Girl, In Landscape: The Art of Writing Personal Narrative.
8. Burqas for Art and Farm.
9. Are High Heels Ever a Mistake?
10. The Psychology of Theme Parties, Considered.
The painting above, Portrait of a Woman, was completed by Henri Rousseau around 1895. It is said to be modeled on a Polish schoolteacher, Yadwigha, his lifelong, unrequited love. She is said to be the inspiration behind and model for his very famous painting, The Dream. Worth viewing alongside Michael Traister's Sock Monkey Dream. Just one of the insights I would have pointed out to MOFS' kids if she'd allowed me the chance to shape their young minds.
At the end of summer, MOFS promptly loaded up her children and took them home - to their swim team and their AP Math classes. You knew that was coming, right?
I found this embroidered "Last Supper" wall hanging at a thrift store awhile back. Whenever I see needlework in a thrift store, I almost always buy it. It's difficult not to appreciate how much time and effort went into recreating Da Vinci's famous painting.
I bought it for $2.50, cleaned it up, and turned it into a kitschy bed pillow. My plan was to sell it in my etsy store, but I dunno. We kind of like it.
Yesterday, M. and I visited the Ninepipes Museum in Charlo, Montana. I'd read an article earlier this year about financial difficulties at Ninepipes Museum so made a special effort to visit on our way home from Missoula. I'm embarrassed to tell you how many times we've driven by without stopping, even though I'm an arts consultant and even though small, rural museums are my absolute favorite.
I love small museums for lots of different reasons. One is that [often] they show everything they have. They don't have the same hang ups that big city curators do - and that makes the display all that much more interesting -- and appropriate. The Flathead Indian reservation is actually an amalgamation of several different tribes that were relocated to this area - the Salish, the Kootenai, and the Pend d'Oreilles.
So, instead of rows and rows of carefully catalogued embroidery from the same area, you get a wall of cradle boards from a diverse group of tribes. I loved that I could compare the embroidery styles and materials side by side.
I apologize for the poor quality of the photos - I only had my cell phone camera with me.
Here is a collection of rawhide saddles. The one in the center had a breast plate made of aquamarine sequins that looked a lot like the sequins made of gelatin in the 1930's. But I couldn't be sure. Definitely not a practical saddle in that case (gelatin sequins can't get wet).
The Ninepipes Museum had a very informative display about trade beads. You can see some of the trade beads used on the Flathead Indian reservation on the museum website. This basket is made of deer hide and decorated with hooves and trade beads.
And, unlike a big museum, much of the collection has been donated by locals, many of whom have saved these items as family heirlooms or personal collections. Many of the tags listed names from the valley that were familiar to me.
The clothing was amazing. This is a pair of trousers, sewn from a red wool Pendleton blanket and and embellished at the cuff with bead embroidery. The embroidered shirt has ermine skins on each sleeve. I think this was made in the 1930's, but I'm not 100 percent.
There is a much better photo of the ermine sleeve garment on the Ninepipes website.
I also appreciated seeing this dress. Cut from a wool blanket and embellished with elk ivories. Elk have just two ivory teeth and are very difficult to get. By wearing this garment, a woman would have been showing her skill as a hunter (or that of her husband or other family member.)
The Jesuit mission is an important part of the history of the Flathead Indian Reservation and it remains predominantly Roman Catholic.
Here, Chief Charlo is talking with Fr. Taelman, who first came to the the area in 1890. Salish Chief Paul Charlo was bitterly opposed to the land allotment policies the U. S. Government assigned to Indians. I learned that he made many trips to Washington, DC to speak with representatives.
Fr. Taelman was fluent in Salish and translated the Latin Mass each day. He spent most of his life working on this reservation. He died in 1962 and his last rites were said at St. Ignatius Mission. Several items from the early Jesuit years were on display at Ninepipes Museum.
The embroidery on these vestments was pretty amazing. Next visit, I bring the good camera.
Finally, let me share a beautiful parfleche, or carry bag, made of rawhide. A parfleche was most often used to carry food.
I really enjoyed my visit. And I appreciated seeing all the hand made items in the gift shop. I regret not purchasing a pocket-sized parfleche. I may go back for it.
Today's challenge: Identify a museum or community space that you have passed by many times without visiting. Stop in - even if it is only for twenty minutes - and report in.
Meoto Iwa shrine, Japan. According to Shinto, the rocks celebrate the union in marriage of man and woman. The rope, made of rice straw, weighs over a ton and must be replaced several times a year in a special ceremony
We woke up yesterday to the cool breezes of fall. No idea if this weather will stay or go, but we don't really care. We embrace this change like no other. To us, fall means no lawn mowing; no beds to make; nothing to get ready for. Weekends stretch out before us with plenty of options for good times. In other words, fall means that we're both in GOOD MOODS. At the SAME TIME. Best not to waste it.
Earlier this week, M. took the plane up and found some roads and trails in the Swan Valley he wanted to explore on foot. This was a great trail because the altitude gain was completed in the car (great for foot injuries, like mine)! And oddly groomed for such a remote place. Most of all, we liked the fact that there wasn't anyone else around. Here we are at 6,500 feet. Click on it. Make it bigger.
So, we get about 1/4 of mile in and we start seeing huckleberry bushes. At 1/2 mile, we start seeing scads of huckleberry bushes that haven't been cleaned by other hikers.
Now, a huckleberry is something special. They only grow at altitude, they are small, and pretty time consuming to pick. They are about the width of your pinky fingernail and they hide under the leaves. A good bush will maybe give you fifteen berries at most. It takes a long, long, time to fill a ziploc.
My sister snapped this photo when we picked a few weeks ago. On that trip, the temperature dropped to 40 degrees and it hailed or rained on us the entire evening. You know, after about five minutes, hail HURTS, you know what I'm saying?
We had gone up with the intention of hiking, but walking past a huckleberry mother lode is like walking past a whole bunch of $100 bills scattered all over the ground. Can't be done. I don't care who you are.
(I pretty much ripped this photo off the internet because it makes the point.)
Hands down, sitting at bush-level picking berries with my husband - having the entire day in front of us to do what we wanted - will go in the books as one of the best H & M moments on record. We talked about the randomness of how we met and wound up in this completely unlikely second location, picking huckleberries on our butts in rural Montana.
Two hours and four hands YIELDED half a ziploc bag of hucks.
This morning, I made a huckleberry coffee cake with vanilla crumb topping. Loosely based on this recipe from Cory Schreiber. The main ingredients in this cake are butter and sugar, with a lot of butter and sugar on top.
After eating what could be described as "fistfuls" of the vanilla crumb topping, I finally dished out some cottage cheese and Kashi Go Lean cereal so I'd have some protein in my body before the cake came out of the oven. Check yo'self before you wreck yo'self type of thing.
What can I say? It's been a long summer of [relatively] clean eating, but I finally broke down. So, basically, I ate five of these, but at least I spared myself the animal fat, i.e. lard.
I whipped up these Chocolate Fudgy Oatmeal Cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Mmmmmm.
And Ugh. I'm definitely, definitely, going to the gym tomorrow. Actually, my trainer is going to love the fact that I ate oats, ground flax, and almond milk - the "cookie" part she's not going to hear about.
Finding this recipe also saves me from having to invent a special looks like "bear scat" cookie for the Gelber family. This recipe has lots of dried cherries, so it works for the bear scat theme AND tastes delicious. Enjoy, Sue!
Chocolate Fudgy Oatmeal Cookies
from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero
2 cups quick-cooking oats.
1 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour (I used white whole wheat.)
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar (I cut the sugar back to 1 1/4 cups.)
2 T. ground flax seed
2/3 cup nondairy milk (I used almond milk)
2/3 cup canola oil.
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract.
1/4 tsp almond extract.
3/4 cup chocolate chips.
1 cup dried cherries or raisins (optional).
Preheat oven to 350 F and line two baking sheets with parchment. Mix first six ingredients in medium size bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, beat together sugar, flax, and nondairy milk until smooth. Add the oil and the extracts and beat until well mixed. Fold in half the flour mix to moisten and then dump in the rest. Fold in the chips and dried fruit, if desired.
For each cookie drop 2 generous Tablespoons of dough on the cookie sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space between each cookie. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until firm and risen. Let cookies rest 5 minutes on the cookie sheets and then transfer to wire racks to complete cooling.
What qualifies Good Mail as "good", in my book, is the way it challenges my expectations. It might be content. It might be form.
Today, we say goodbye to our friends Matt, Sue, Katie, and Maggie. They are heading home for the school year and taking all the late night good times on the lake with them. I'm going to miss the Good Mail I've received from Maggie and Katie this summer.
These are two of my favorite surprise installations:
You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine...-Jacques Crickillon
not to mention the crystal goblet and--somehow--the wine.
I realized the other day that one of the reasons I never go work in my art studio is because it feels like a gallery of unfinished projects. Like this one. A pair of embroidered felt baby booties that I completed - with the exception of the ties - one weekend back in February.
Officially, this was what I call a "felt warm-up project" - something simple and satisfying that I use to get my MAKE juices flowing. I knew early on that I would never crochet the ties per the directions but, somehow, buying a yard of velvet ribbon seemed to be the beta blocker to completion.
So here they are. Complete. And so is my old friend's baby girl, Iris Irene - born last month and totally beautiful, as seen on Facebook. I like the fact that the last time I remember hanging out with her Mom, we were 19, likely drunk, and rocking out to Crosstown Traffic on her Jimi Hendrix cassette tape.
Now, we've both got careers and husbands, accomplishments and deep thoughts to discuss [electronically], and that amazes me and makes me thankful - so few high school relationships ever get past high school in the mind. I still really like her and everything she does impresses me so I'm going to send her baby these freakin' booties.
Back when I started this blog, I was making things all the time. Just having the blog motivated me to get things done so I could share it with the universe - didn't matter what it was. I had all of these thoughts that had no place to land, and no one ever read them. I was lucky to see fourteen hits a day - most of them from my own computer, checking to see if anyone had read my blog yet. I was never going to be one of those bloggers who eventually posts a goodbye/thanks for everything/I won't be posting anymore type of post.
And I'm still not. But I'm aware of how much has changed in my mind over the last few years of writing. All this is? An anthropology of the way my own mind works, the things that inspire, take hold, take over my day. I used to crave connection with the world outside of my every day life. Now I find myself craving a little more anonymity so I can write about the things that are on my mind without offending the people I love and those that love me. I probably do that anyway, but even so, I'm still holding back.
I'd love to go all Brooklyn on your a**, and use words like motherfucker, kind of like Fashionably Late to the Party who gave me the word in the first place but really more like Jive "Eating prunes at my desk, who wants to do me?" Turkey but with a cherry orchard slant.
If I had that veil over my identity, I'd tell you the truth about myself - the unattractive parts; the sins, the memories of *not* being around a campfire with my parents, the long list of hurts I have intentionally dealt to others, mostly out of fear that I was un-loveable. But you're not supposed to do that. I do some of that on this blog anyway, but you do learn the hard way not to be honest with coworkers, neighbors and even some friends.
Sometime, substitute "Tell the truth" for "I love you" and see what happens.
Eating 300-500 calorie breakfasts and protein at lunch will prevent chocolate binges later in the day.
Iron your thread before you hand sew or embroider - it makes everything go more smoothly, motherfuckah!
Put a lemon down your garbage disposal and your drain will freshen right up.
And then there is the B side of friendship - learning how to be alone. If you depend on your friends to spoon feed you happiness - and then ask that it be served in a beautiful dish - your friendships won't last. I'm not talking about times of genuine need - I'm talking about that clutching, helpless, outwardly passive stance toward the world.
I never thought much about Hello Kitty until, one day, I read an article that told the life story of Shintaro Tsuji, the Founder and CEO of Sanrio. Tsuji had a lonely childhood. In the article he said:
"I felt that the most important thing in your life is to have someone whom you can open up your heart to and talk about anything; to have many friends whom you can talk with your heart is the most blessed thing in your life. Then I asked myself how can you make friends -- in what way people can make a friend with those people. That is not just to avoid behaving, which makes people uncomfortable. But do something, which makes people happy. In this way people can make friends.
For example, when people are ill, you can say something to them, or when people did something for you, you say thank you to them. For those kinds of occasions, you send a small present rather than an expensive gift. It is important to show your appreciation since you are able to make good friends in this way. This idea has formed as a business. As a result, Hello Kitty was created. Hello Kitty has become known among everybody and it means that people are becoming friends. I am pleased with this phenomenon."
I will always remember this story.
Last night, while floating in the bath, I realized that the missing piece I've been searching for is that feeling of falling in love. Not being in love. (I am in love. I have plenty of love in my every day.)
I'm talking about that feeling of falling. Specifically, falling in love with a thing, or an idea, or an experience.
You know what I mean? That can't get enough of this I could do it forever type of passion for something.
The reality is, I just don't have time to look for it, be with it, take care of it. I bounce from moment to moment, always two steps behind, always offending someone I haven't had time to get in touch with. Paintings wait two, sometimes three, years to be finished.
I'm caught in a pattern of imbalance which, according to Marcus Buckingham, is not only the condition of life, but it's goal. Buckingham says,
When you are balanced, you are stationary, holding your breath, trying not to let any sudden twitch or jerk pull you too far one way or the other. You are at a standstill. This precarious, motionless state is not worth striving for. It's the wrong life goal. Strive for fullness instead.
Buckingham says to cradle your "strongest moments" and seek to create more of those moments in your week. I'm meditating these ideas right now.
Painting: Elmer Bischoff, Nude in Chair, 1960, Watercolor and Gouache on paper.
Orchard manager Rod and his daughter Bernie strap the bins down for the ride down to the processing facility.
A wall of cherry bins lines the road in front of the processing plant. Our harvest is checked in and the bins are counted.
We think our fruit was exceptionally lovely this year.
After the bins are counted by the Growers Association at the processing facility, the cherries are washed in a cold water bath. The temperature of the water is about 33 degrees.
The water comes through this pipe from inside the enormous metal shed on site. The shed is a place of great mystery to me. It's, like I said, enormous - but there is nothing really in it.
Except for one year, the Growers Association had donuts out for everyone. So I always go inside and check everything out - just to make sure I'm not missing out on anything.
And that's it. Twenty minutes of processing and you're done. The cherries are on a truck headed for Yakima, Washington, where they will be sized, sorted, and shipped to supermarkets.
We have 180 trees (considered a "small" orchard in these parts) with a yield of 57 bins this year. (I got that word "yield" from my friend Sue.) Each bin weighs about 300 pounds so we guesstimated that we had about 17,000 pounds come in yesterday. Several thousand more than our last harvest.
Depending on the market - which always sucks - we should get anywhere between 50-75 cents per pound for our fruit. After expenses, we'll probably net about $5,000 after expenses - our first profit on the orchard in...um...five years. So, in orchard terms, we're only a bajillion dollars in the hole - less $5,000! Things are looking up!
I'm too old for jeggings. That's what I was thinking yesterday at the gym. I just can't do the 80's again. But I like this song. I like the retro sound but I also like that it reminds me of this vintage 1980's Dairy Queen commerical:
Kind of a lifelong career fantasy for me. To be the set design person that would build a chocolate syrup river running through an ice cream cone forest. Maybe some black licorice gorillas in the mist....
What was your dream job?
Right now, I'm reading a phenomenal book - Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth. I guess you'd call it historical fiction and, normally, I don't go for that kind of thing. But this book is amazing and I'm not surprised it won the Booker Prize. It's the sort of tale that sucks you in and rolls you over at the end of every page. And it's challenging - I have to keep my dictionary close by so I can figure out what Unsworth is on about.
One of the characters is a doctor named Matthew Paris. He served time in prison for publishing essays questioning the existence of God. After his release, he wound up working on a slave ship owned by his uncle. He's passing the journey to Africa making a translation of a work by an English physician named Harvey called de motu cordis. I had to look it up:
In 1628, physician William Harvey published a treatise on the circulation of blood. Exercitatio anatomica de motu cordis et sanguinis in animalibus (Concerning the motion of the heart and blood), more commonly referred to as de motu cordis.
de motu cordis was a landmark study in physiology because it was the first to look upon the heart as a mechanical pump instead of a mystical "seat of the spirit." Harvey also used a formal approach to his study that ascribed a layer of reliability to his findings unusual for the time.
The illustrations are amazing.
We just returned from a week in Aspen, Colorado. Like Miami's South Beach, Aspen is a bike town. Unlike South Beach, those vintage "beach cruisers" have been pimped to extremes. I'm glad I don't live there, because I don't have room for all of the vintage bicycles I would buy just for their awesome-ness.
We also saw a few of these wild and crazy outdoor elliptical bikes or ElliptiGO. You can buy one for $2199.
Toward the end of his life, Matisse suffered from bowel cancer and was nursed back to relative health by a Dominican nun, Sr. Jacques-Marie.
Their friendship endured and a few years later, Sr. Jacques-Marie came to Matisse and asked for his help designing a chapel for the Dominican convent in Vence, France.
This year, the Vatican will put Matisse' "Stations of the Cross" drawings on display in the Vatican Museum. These drawings, difficult to size in the video (below), are approximately 50 feet high.
Alistair Sooke, the art critic for BBC One, puts on a not-very-convincing cry session as he enters the chapel. Which kind of ruins it for me but is very typical of the Beeb, so perhaps I am just a wee bit cynical. Unfortunately, it is the best way to see the work. Mute the overacting and dramatic music, if you wish.
The Goldstein Museum of Design at the University of Minnesota is currently showing Flights of Fancy: A History of Feathers in Fashion. This hat, c. 1940, was a gift to the gallery from a private donor. It is made of blue felt and has (quite obviously) a wing attached to the crown.
It would take a special woman to wear this hat.
The short list.
Sometimes, I'm jealous of the unwavering support and encouragement others receive from their parents. My parents were not those people. But looking back, I'm glad I learned how to take care of myself, and I'm glad it happened early in life. It makes me happy that I can earn money if I need to.
My cats make me happy. My mother didn't allow pets because of the "work." I swear to you that my sister and I would have grown up a lot more balanced and confident if we'd had steady pet love in our lives as kids. They are true friends. People make fun of me for this, but you know? Cat love is so much less complicated than human love. It's so worth taking care of them for what you get in return.
I love good mail. The surprise envelope - sent or received - is a rare and beautiful thing. It makes the world a little less lonely, doesn't it? You know, for sure, that someone is thinking of you. Email doesn't have that same effect for me - why is that?
The change of seasons never disappoints. I love that transition to winter - the first snow, the darkening skies, the soup. And the gentle, warm, surprising sunshine of Spring. Summer cherries. Gold leaves in the orchard and the smell of wood smoke when summer turns to fall.
I love it when my constantly hardworking husband chucks it all in and takes a day off with me. The other day we put our chairs right in the lake, sunned ourselves and swam all afternoon. In six years, we've maybe done this - three times. It was awesome!
Every once in awhile, you stumble on a good book - the kind you just can't put down. I love that feeling! Of settling in to the story and eating it like a piece of pie. This also counts for art work - the every once in awhile feeling that you're on to something, and you're getting it right.
Riding a bike around Sunriver is definitely a happy-making activity.
I'm happy I learned how to be happy, all alone. I love being with friends and family, but I am not dependent on them to make my life interesting or to feel fulfilled.
It makes me happy that some of my friends have put up with me for decades, or longer. I just had a visit from a friend who has known me for 20 years - through many stages of awkwardness into present day confusions. It makes me happy that my BFF and I have known each other for ten years this year - never underestimate the value of sharing a cabin at Haystack!
Making campsite coffee, in the old fashioned percolator makes me happy. Nothing like getting up early and having a cup under the mountains.
What's on your happy list?
Six months ago, I gave my dog away. It was extremely difficult for me but it was the right thing to do, I think. I still think about him all the time. It's hard not to miss your best friend.
I've wanted to check in with his new owner but I also wanted to give him time to settle in without "hovering" in the background. He's her dog now, not mine. Not checking in also meant I could imagine him living the life I hoped he'd find there - playing with his new cat, dog, and horse friends and getting all the love he could handle from his new owner. My fear was he wouldn't make the adjustment.
But this morning I got a note from Buddy's new Mom - and it was so nice to hear the news! I thought I'd share it:
Buddy has been with us 6 months. We hope he is as happy to be with us as we are with him. My husband says if tail wagging is an indicator, then Buddy is always happy. He gets along great with our other dog and even our cats seem to like him ( just tolerate the other dog). Buddy quickly became involved with our routines, up and out in the morning and evening to take care of horse chores.. going on walks or going in the vehicles at every opportunity. And Buddy is the only critter in this household that will hang out forsuch as vacuuming, dusting, etc. all others quickly disappear. Buddy has known a lot of love and care in his life and that made him ready to return that love in full measure. You've no doubt missed him when you could be home, but know that he is cared for and I believe living a good life.
You couldn't ask for more than that.
It's been an inspiring time in the art studio this week. (OK, I only made it up there one afternoon, but it was a productive afternoon.) I've been looking at the figurative portraits of Matisse, Derain, and others this week. I may come out as a Fauvist. If I can work up the courage to tell my Mom.
Henri Matisse, Odalisque with Red Trousers:
Rousseau's portrait of Marie Laurencin and her lover:
And Kees van Dongen:
I'm in a rush at the moment, so I'll have to come back and fill in the blanks (and links) about the artists and their work. I just wanted you to have something to look at - to get you through your Friday.
Aboubakar Fofana creates home textiles from hand-spun, hand-woven silk and cotton in his studio in Bamako, Mali. Each piece uses the traditional indigo dye process. Watch this short video of a young apprentice at work.
Every time I purchase on a pair of comfortable shoes, I throw up a little bit in my mouth. As far as I'm concerned, shoes with a rounded toe box and arch support are one credit card swipe closer to death. I'm just not that kind of woman. My kind of woman wears shoes like these:
Picking out flat shoes to wear with jeans? Baffles me. Platform heels go with jeans. Platform heels go with everything.
But, quite frankly, if you're going to wear leopard platform heels in Montana you're going to look like a fool. So, the last couple of years, I've tried to shoot for the middle with some Via Spiga platform clogs and a pair of lug sole Michael Kors high heel penny loafers for the cold months and flip flops of all varieties and prices in summer. If people are making fun of me they are doing it behind my back.
But since I ruptured my tendon everything is different. I'm supposed to wear special things in my shoes. And even though my doctor said they would fit 80 percent of my shoes, they only fit in my running shoes. The dirty pair that I brought to the fitting appointment. And if I don't wear them my foot really hurts, which I've figured out the hard way.
So, today, I bit the bullet and googled, "comfortable shoes for custom orthotic inserts." Whoa. No! I think one of the things that bothered me the most was that the comfortable shoes all have little names: "Sassy"; "Delores"; "Adele"...Note to Marketers: Naming shoes with old lady names? Is A Total Turnoff.
Several hours of searching later, I had purchased three pairs.
NAOT's platform "Admire" wedge - maybe it looks like Robert Cleregie if you get drunk enough?
And then two pairs of Privo - a little T-strap called "Walk"; and a sneaker-y type thing called "Pateo."
Please, God. Sometimes, that's the only prayer you can make, you know?
Most are in-between: I have spent many a night trying to find my high school math classroom in a long corridor of empty rooms. The other night I went to bed so hungry that I dreamed that I was eating scraps off of dirty dishes in the sink.
A precious few are so real that my heart breaks on awakening: I have to say goodbye to people who have long since passed away in real life, or realize that a friend that I love, but never get to see, isn't in the next room waiting to have breakfast together.
Carl Jung, the Swiss psychologist, captured scenes from his unconscious during a period of great transition in his life. Some say it was a period of psychosis, others call it a time of "creative illness." During this time, Jung recorded his dreams and illustrated them in the style of an illuminated manuscript, bound in red leather. The "Red Book", as it has become known, is 205 pages of text and illustration, all by the hand of Carl Jung. 53 pages are full image, 71 containt both calligraphic text and artwork, and 81 pages contain calligraphic text alone.Click on the image above to make it bigger!
For decades, The Red Book remained private. Only a handful of Jung's relatives and a very few scholars had ever seen it. Finally, Sonu Shamdasani, an adviser to the Jung family convinced the heirs to allow it to be published and shared with the public. LA's Hammer Museum recently closed an exhibit - I'm not sure where The Red Book travels next.
A .pdf excerpt of Carl Jung's The Red Book is published on Scribd. This is the best place to view clean, sharp renderings of the illuminations. You can see more of them, a little bit fuzzier, at this promotional site.
Anne Lemanski constructs her three dimensional sculpture from paper and thread.
For "Shirley", Lemanski embroidered vintage photos and stitched them together with artificial sinew.
"Fennec Fox (Dog Star)" is paper, ink, and artificial sinew.
"Deerfield, USA" is aerial imagery printed on paper, then stitched together. I love it. Very inspiring work for me.
It's been a month since my foot has come out of the cast, and about three months since I was back here, in this place.
I'm not sure I'm 100 percent sorted, but I've figured out a few things that seem to have helped both my body and my mind. I think of them as "Non Scale Victories" or NSVs:
1) I'm working a lot less.
2) I'm sleeping a lot more.
3) I've virtually eliminated any processed food from my diet and replaced with organic produce.
4) I'm sucking it up and taking the medicines my doctor wants me to take. I do feel better.
5) I found a trainer, Mary, who can put together a program for me to do in my home gym in Montana. She's awesome and nonstop with encouragement and support.
6) I balance protein and carbs with every meal and cook 90 percent of what I eat at home.
7) Not being able to put weight on my foot has been a great workout challenge. Mary has kicked my core into shape - I love it. I'm doing 1000+ core exercises a week.
8) I keep a food journal and I've learned that a) I hate eating breakfast and b) that if I don't eat lunch I wind up eating junk food in the afternoon. I'm dealing with both of those things and it really helps a lot.
9) My moods are better.
10) I think I'm smaller in places, but I haven't weighed myself. Most important to me is that I'm stronger and happier. A lot stronger.
I still need to figure out a way to get others to be supportive - and acknowledge that the best version of me post-illness may not look the same way I did ten years ago. That's hard, because I'm still figuring that part out myself. Every time I think I'm there, someone suggests I'm not as good as I could be, and I wind up back at broken heart square one. I suppose I shouldn't care what others say, but that's a lot harder than it sounds, isn't it?!
I love Fall clothing - the textures and the color stories just appeal to me so much more than anything fashion offers the rest of the year. But mostly? I love coats. I just feel really warm and safe - protected when I've got a great coat on. I dread the epidermal vulnerability of summer.
I remember my friend Carole asking me one day, "Heidi, how many coats do you have?" (I have more than thirty.) And then she said, "I have one. And I wear it every day, all winter long." huh.
My internet surveys seem to suggest the Fall 2010 collections were, for the most part, wearable and sell-able. I'd like to see the couple that can pull off these matching Chanel snuffaluffagus suits in Aspen:
The red and camel together - I love. This one is from Chanel:
And this one, from Carolina Herrera. Half the magic of Carolina Herrera is knowing that the fabric and the tailoring is fine beyond all logic. I'd kneel to touch the garments.
Alexander McQueen sent this heavenly gold feather jacket - I love the way it turns the model into a beautiful bird - with tulle-feather tail. My guess is that the feathers on the jacket are made of laser-cut leather or silk. McQueen was doing a lot of work with laser-cutter over the past few years.
But the one I would buy? Is this Gianfranco Ferre. You could keep it, and wear it, forever. With a red handbag, baby.
I own one Gianfranco Ferre - scored ten years ago at Filene's in DC - but, sadly, it doesn't fit me anymore. And even if it did, it would look a little bizarro around this town.
What do you love to wear? What do you own too many of?
Many Conservatives argue that contemporary art, music, and theatre do not represent "family values" and should not receive support from government entities. "Old is good. We need to get back to it," they might say.
And that is why, whenever I think of the NEA's Shakespeare for a New Generation initiative, I have to have a little private chuckle. I mean, bawdier material has never been written. The vocabulary of the time was so complex that it often masks very dark and difficult themes.
What's a middle school teacher going to do when some kid asks what Bill meant when he said, "her breasts were dun coloured...?" Homosexuality, cross-dressing, promiscuity, drugs, murder, suicide - it's all in there. Hopefully, the teacher's study guide provides some helpful resources.
I'm not saying Shakespeare isn't worth studying, I'm just saying I don't think it anyone that has really read it would argue that it upholds "family values" the way the Bush administration believed. I have to wonder the new Endowment chief extended the program last year because he, too, gets a big private chuckle out of the deal.
Speaking of language. At Georgetown, my old school, the athletic teams are known as the Hoyas, a shortened version of an old Greek and Latin chant, "Hoya Saxa!" that was popular in the 1870s. Loosely translated, this means "What Rocks!" Wikipedia suggests that "rocks" refers to a rock wall on campus, but in my heart of hearts, I have to wonder.
There is an amazing fresco by Pierro della Francesca in Arezzo . Open up your browser in Explorer and you can explore the San Francesco, Arezzo church in 3D. This is an amazing piece of work, not just for the beauty of the painting but for the way the physical structure of the church is used to tell the story. It's like a "pop-up" book of renaissance art, telling a story known as the "Legend of the Cross."
Here is a great detail from the Pierro della Francesca fresco at Arezzo:
You are correct. That is the scrot of a Roman right there. No doubt it's inclusion in the painting was intended as a symbol of the slattern behavior of Romans back in the day. All the same, from a kid's perspective, that's showing BALLS IN CHURCH, people.
Old is good, but things are not always as straightforward as they seem.
Tonight I had planned a special "Jersey Shore" (Jersey-licious?) dinner: "Boardwalk" oven fries, sausage and peppers. Nothing to do with the TV show - more a memory of family trips to Ocean City and Cape May that we made when I was a kid.
And then I went to the store and found these beautiful rainbow carrots and radishes and completely changed my mind. I fell in love with the colors and brought them home. I wish I could have captured the vegetables in their full glory, but somehow it just didn't translate 100 percent.
"Meat Man" Mike wouldn't touch them.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I loved this book - perhaps more for the narrative style and depth of the material than the story itself. Stegner reminds me of how beautiful the sentence can really be. Here, the narrator is on a ship headed to Denmark and is wanting to avoid a Midwestern couple also on board:
"They are awkward and diffident, and would get chummy on the slightest invitation, but I know this kind from childhood -- pious, censorious, opposed to smoking drinking cardplaying dancing movies books language thinking. They sit in lace-curtained parlors and tsk-tsk on an indrawn breath, they know every unwanted pregnancy in town sooner than the girl does, they want English teachers in Augustana College fired for assigning A Farewell to Arms, they wrote the Volstead Act. And touching in a sort of way."
I knew people like that growing up in Minnesota. I wrote "yes!" in the margin.
This is a book about truth and memory. The narrator, Joe Allston, spent six months on sabbatical in Denmark some twenty years ago. The surface drama of what Allston recalls for the reader is easily absorbed, but there is something happening at another level than I need to return to. The narrator refers to Marcus Aurelius over and over again - Stoic philosopher and Roman warrior. The title, The Spectator Bird probably refers to that need for that narrator to separate himself from the emotional world of those around him, particularly as he finds himself in the last years of his life,
I watched it again last night on Netflix. In spite of the reviews, I think this movie has a lot going for it.
There are definite problems - lots of bad hair - but you can't overlook the hilarious performance Ben Stiller turned in as contemporary artist/media darling. Or Amanda Kravat's music. Scarlett Johanssen as an eleven year old. Elle MacPherson's natural/giraffe beauty.
Or the fact that the movie was made before Botox and Juvederm. If Sarah Jessica Parker was born in 1965, I'm the Pope.
Do you see anything interesting in this photo?
What about this Mama Bear, half way up a tree? I'm getting really good for a girl from the city. I spotted her from 1/2 mile away going 50 mph. By the way? You can click on all of these photos to make them bigger.
This big black bear seemed to be patrolling the area and we think he probably ran the sow and her two cubs up into the tree.
I couldn't get a photo of the cubs who were hidden in the top branches, but Mama is obviously worried about them and trying to keep an eye on what's happening up above and down below.
Four bears in one day is pretty special. We rolled on to our campground and were greeted by a black bear munching grass on the side of the road.
Not to bore you with bear stuff, but I feel like I have to share some photos of a five bear weekend. We saw lots of other animals - moose, mountain goats, bighorn sheep - but I forgot the charger for my camera battery so I had to be very selective on this trip.
I did get a few photos of the West side of Glacier National Park (our favorite part of the Park) and the fairy tale weather we had over the weekend. As usual, we parked our camper in our favorite spot.
This is Two Medicine campground. Base camp for our hike to Pitamakan Pass a couple of years ago - the scariest hike I've ever done.
Still recovering four months after rupturing a tendon in my foot, I can't help but reflect on that hike and the fact that I made it up and around this pass -- a 19 mile loop five months after major surgery - but I can't even walk a mile down a flat road right now.
It was kind of nice to experience the Park in new ways. We took a tourist boat ride on Two Medicine Lake and drove over to Many Glacier to see what was happening there. Not much. Just gorgeous sunshine.
On a drive, we ran into a beautiful wild mare and her yearling but they turned away before I could get a full frontal. Here they are shakin' bacon for the trees.
Lunar Journey. Fiddletown, California: Katherine Venturelli, 2004. Edition of 20. 5.75" x 6.75" closed; 11 x 12 x 4" open. Long tie closure which wraps several times around the book. Printed papers using chine colle techniques. Book fabric varies with each book.
I made an appointment with a personal shopper last week hoping it would save me some time and energy during a busy trip to the city. Living in Montana, there are just things I need but can't find here and I'm still humping around on a bad foot. The idea of a personal shopper doing a little bit of work on my behalf was definitely attractive.
Short summary: The personal shopper experience was a colossal waste of time. Her main interest was to clothe me in the style she prefers for herself. In Scotland, we called this style "mutton dressed as a lamb." Imagine a 45 year-old, too-tan, slightly overweight woman dressed as a 20 year-old. Any of these women could serve as your mental picture for this blog post:
Except she didn't even look that good.
So, I go in the private dressing room and, luckily, there is a complimentary bottle of water in the room. I suck it down while I eyeball what she's pulled for me and try to figure out how to respond. I had requested "summer tops;" "no premium denim because I have too many pairs already;" a smaller black handbag, just as a start.
I'm looking back at multiple pairs of premium denim, four giant black messenger bags, and a slew of weird tops that I know, just by seeing them on a hanger, will make me look like a pregnant Dolly Parton. But I decide to try a few things. I talk to her about them and tell her I'm going to show her why they won't work for me.
First up, this Helmut Lang cowl neck top. If I was willing to share photos of myself in a dressing room on this blog, I would. Just to show you how ugly this top was. It doesn't even look that great on the model - who is twenty years younger and has no shape whatsoever.
So the personal shopper goes back on the floor and brings me this Elizabeth and James number. This line, by the Olsen twins, was designed for the anorexic woman who wishes to deflect any attention to her body.
Another choice piece from Elizabeth and James. Again, it should be noted that I am way, way too old for these clothes and they don't suit my figure at all. They might look great on someone else - but they don't look good on me.
Oh, and the Ella Moss pants. Which, on the upside, would have plenty of room for a pair of Depends underneath.
It's obvious, by this time, that personal shopper isn't a good listener and we're getting nowhere. By accident, she brings me a jacket that works. A beautiful moss green Vince in buttery soft suede.
We talk about the reasons why this jacket works for my body (the structure, the darts, the color) and then she goes off onto the floor and brings back this.
Two things that don't go together? A bosom-y woman and a bat wing jacket. She was a walking example of a person who couldn't grow with her age. It was sad.
To be a good salesperson, you have to be a good listener and a problem solver. Here I am - a busy consultant with absolutely NO SHOPPING in my town - and this woman couldn't sell me a single thing. I left without buying a single thing. Not even a pair of underwear. She wasted two hours out of my day, besides.
When I lived in Scotland, my flat was just around the corner from the Stockbridge branch of the Napier Herbal Dispensary. Napier sold various remedies and many of them smelled wonderful and were very pleasant to use - even if they didn't entirely cure my insomnia or acne.
At some point, I found a book of aromatherapy recipes by Valerie Ann Worwood called The Fragrant Mind: Aromatherapy for Personality, Mind, Mood, and Emotion. The book includes recipes developed to deal with anything ranging from insomnia to schizophrenia.
I know. And I bought it for precisely that reason. It's a little bit funny. But then again, why not? If you're suffering from lack of confidence, how nice to have something like the "low self-esteem blend" to beautifully scent your environment and make you feel better. Here is a mix I thought almost all of you would enjoy.
Aromatherapy Blend for Light, Lethargic Depression.
5 drops grapefruit oil
10 drops rosemary oil
15 drops eucalyptus citriodra
Put all drops into a clean, dark brown glass bottle. Roll (do not shake) the bottle between your hands and gently turn upside down and back again. To use: Place 2-3 drops in a small bowl of hot water and diffuse into a room. You may also put 1-2 drops on a tissue and inhale or add a few drops to a small amount of grapeseed oil for massage.
Later that same evening..."The Dude" stopped back in our yard. He's lived on our property for longer than we have and, until last summer, we never saw him. We just saw his...stuff. He stayed away from the house and we looked away when he went on his pre-hibernation binge eats in our cherry orchard.
But last summer, we noticed he was more relaxed about keeping his distance and he's clearly very hungry because he starts wandering the property during the day. Yesterday, he checked out the bird feeder in front of my door. Today, he walked all over the yard, under the gazebo, and then on over to the orchard to see what he could see. It's not good for him (or for us) to be so close to one another.
The Meat Man is going to call tomorrow and see about getting him relocated. You can read about and see photos of grizzly bear "relocations" at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Game Department's web page.
When I lived on Miami's South Beach, the balcony of my apartment was directly across from the front door of a small-time drug dealer and right next to the orthodox synagogue. It was a period of deep contrast in my life.
The dealer, a kind of doughy-fat white guy, made it about a year in that apartment before his arrest, largely because he was a passably nice enough guy and all the neighbors (just like me) looked the other way. Late-night pickups, deliveries - even the iron grate on the front door with a hole just small enough to fit a hand through - went unreported. Why? We were afraid of one of his friends, who always made it a point to behave in a threatening way whenever he stopped by. That guy was just scary, and no one wanted to get in his way.
I've had that feeling here lately. Like I'm being watched.
And if things don't go the way some people want them to,
There will be consequences.
And there are other threats. This thug watches us through the trees.
Apparently frustrated by the lack of cherries over in the orchard, he mauls my swim noodles and poops out my beach floatie toys. He checked out the bird feeder last night and then headed over to the neighbors' deck to lick their barbecue.
Are they working together? It's hard to know. Being the handy type, I always keep a tub of plaster-of-paris around. I'm waiting for these footprint molds to set as we speak. They won't be great - I need to get some alginate mold for that - but at least I tried.
What's bothering me is the feeder is right next to our front door. Which means "The Dude" (as we call him) is becoming "habituated" and as a consequence - much more dangerous than a bear who is scared of humans and tries to avoid them. That never ending supply of orchard apples and cherries probably has something to do with it. He's hooked.
GiversLog is helping Ladies Home Journal with an article about the best gifts ever received. What comes to your mind when I ask this question?
When I was 6 or 7, I had a birthday party for friends at our house in Michigan. I believe this was the very party when I chugged a giant 2-liter bottle of cherry-flavored Faygo and then puked it up later that same evening. (If I don't tell you that, my sister will via the comments, so I'm just putting it out there the way I remember it.)
My mom didn't allow any sugar in the house, and that's basically where my bad relationship with the white powder begins - TO THIS DAY, if I can get my hands on sugar, it feels like a wicked, wicked treat. But that's another blog post.
Bueno, en resumidas cuentas, my neighborhood friend Ruthie brought a gift to my party that I would call the "best" gift I've ever received. It was a shoebox filled with small toys and surprises. There were crayons, jacks, play money (my favorite!) and one of those rubber balls attached to a paddle that you smack around for five minutes until it breaks. In essence, it was a box full of things that I'd see at the grocery store, always wanted, but my mother would never buy for me.
I found a great tutorial at IndieTutes that demonstrates how to turn an ordinary shoe box into a pirate's treasure box for kids. These are photos from the IndieTutes site. My box looked a lot like this.
Interestingly enough, I don't remember playing with anything in the shoebox. The real moment of excitement was the package itself - the feeling of surprise when pulling the top off, wonder at each item and the feeling of being suddenly toy rich.
I have received many wonderful gifts since that time but this one comes to mind as the first, best.