Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Weekend update part II

6-30-09 leaving June behind brain-
Continuing from yesterday’s blog…..
Other picture from my garden…..Saturday afternoon, being worn out from gardening and biking, I waited for Greg to drive in from KC. I was a vegetable in front of the TV watching videos of Michael Jackson on VH1. I even took a nap. That evening I too was still tired, so went to bed early and after a good 9 hours of sleep I was ready to finish my gardening project. I was making a big push, since we will be out of town on vacation in July.

Plus, all I wanted to do on Sunday was be outside. The weather was perfect, gorgeous, delightful !…. No humidity, a wonderful breeze, with temperatures only in the upper 70’s to low 80’s. I worked some in the morning, then took a break mid day, enjoyed some hammock time, then finished the front garden in the evening, in between visiting with neighbors as they walked by…. Many enjoying an evening stroll, taking advantage of the first cooler day in over a week.

I did take time to go over to Kelley’s garden to see her new garden art.

The fences were painted by Kelley's friends who are starting a creative art business, called "Jody and Cate Create"... If you are in the Iowa area and are interested in some Art project that you don't have the time or energy to do..... I can get their contact information for you.

PS: my automated posting of scheduled blogs is not working correctly, thus when I am on vacation things might not show on schedule until I find a computer and manually post. Oh well.......it's summer and we all need to be a bit more laid back in July.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Weekend Report

6-29-09 narrative brain
Friday night my friend Ann and I were volunteers again this year for the Drake University water/pop beverage booth down at the big Des Moines Art Festival. It turned out to be a beautiful evening, a bit cooler than it has been, so the event was packed with people. Our shift was from 4:30 to 7:30PM, so after we hung out eating, looking at the art, and enjoyed the free concert with Gavin DeGraw. I didn’t get home until 10:30 and for some reason wasn’t ready for bed until close to midnight.

I woke up at 5:15AM on Saturday morning… very strange for me, since I like to sleep, but this week I have been out of bed early for 6 straight days. I think it’s the extreme sunlight this time of year. I’ve calculated that there is at least 6 more hours of sunlight now than what we have in the winter. So it’s only right that I’m affected by this, since in the winter I need to sleep at least 9 to 10 hours per night.

Anyway, I laid in bed a bit longer, but was out filling the bird feeders around 7:00AM, and discovered it was actually very pleasant out- only 72 degrees instead of 90. I ended up doing some weeding in the back yard, then off to the Beaverdale Garden Tour by 9:00AM. This was so much fun. Greg and I had done this a few years ago on our bikes and found this is the way to go. So this year I rode my bike again to the six houses on the tour, all within a 2-3 mile radius from our house. At one house I learned about rain barrels and met the local guy who is making and selling them. I’ve wanted to get one for several years, so this will finally be doable, since I can just get one down at his Beaverdale shop. At another house they were demonstrating how to make a water garden. Garden tours are always very inspiring to me.

Although I'm not a master gardener, some year maybe I’ll be brave enough to have my garden on the tour…. Someday when I have more time to weed on a more regular basis. Maybe I can create some outdoor art and feature this in my garden. My friend Kelley has recently added some “art” in her garden done by a local artist. Kelley is always encouraging saying…. “Judy you could do this!” Sure I could, I just need to clone myself. Maybe I can become “split in four”, and get twice as much done.

Continued tomorrow……

Saturday, June 27, 2009

As the stomach turns

6-27-09 again- pondering brain
Along side Dick Cheney, sits Ann Coulter pinned up on my dart board which hangs on the wall in the dark basement corner of my brain. Once in awhile, I go down these the dark steps to visit them…..usually I can only manage a quick peek, then I feel nauseated, and fearful that my eye’s will be blinded by the viewing this “distasteful duo”…..and I’m trying to be kind with my word use here.

Yesterday, I regrettably allowed myself to enter the black whole, when I listen to part of Bill O’Reilly on the Internet when Ann Coulter was a guest on his show…. There was a 5 minute clip where they were discussing the murder of Dr. George Tiller. (I could post the clip here, but I don’t want to give Bill or Ann an audience)…..

But in her usual- “trying to be witty and amusing” way, Coulter said…"I don't really like to think of it as a murder. It was terminating Tiller in the 203rd trimester. I am personally opposed to shooting abortionists, but I don't want to impose my moral values on others."

THAT’s what I don’t understand. If you ARE PRO-LIFE……. And are vocal and adamant about “ALL LIFE is PRECIOUS”… doesn’t “all” mean ALL….i.e….. everyone? Then Dr. Tiller’s life was precious, even if his “behavior” or “beliefs” were something “they” disagreed with.

Pro-lifer’s had posted comments on the DM Newspaper web site saying that supporters of Dr. Tiller’s were “playing God” by deciding that some fetus’s (i.e. babies/humans) were not worthy (without value) to be born due to defects found prior to birth….. BUT aren’t pro-lifer’s doing the same thing by “playing God” when deciding it’s OK to kill Tiller?

That’s a rhetorical question….. no need to respond, I’m just pondering again today.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ann's KC visit

6-26-09 weekend brain
I had mentioned the weekend visit by our friend Ann to KC, which happened a few weeks ago. Now I will elaborate on this trip. Saturday we mostly shopped, ate, and conversed. Ann is good at all three of these…. And I tried my best to keep up with her too..... but I believe at times, Greg’s head was spinning. Ann is a high energy person who multitasks and her conversations also move at a fast pace.

Ann has a conversation “game” she likes to play called “rapid fire”. One form of her game is like free word association- she will say a word and we are suppose to say the first thing that comes to our mind. Another version she has of the rapid fire game is when Ann will give a choice between 2 or 3 things and then we are expected to answer fast.

Like one I remember was: Ann asked “what would you choose? hamburg, hot dog or brat?” ……. I said “hamburg, especially if it’s grilled by Greg” (That was an acceptable answer, in an acceptable time)….. When Ann asked Greg this question, Greg thought for a period of time then said “depends”. And he left it at that. (That was not acceptable to Ann)…. She pressed him further until he was forced elaborated.

The funny part was when our friend Molly, (who also was hanging out with us) told us that “depends” was the answer Bob Dole once gave in an interview when asked the question “boxer or briefs”?..... this made us all laugh, and “depends” now has become our canned answer to Ann’s rapid fire game.

Sunday we decided to go on a sight-seeing mission: We took Ann to see the WWI Memorial at the Liberty Tower, up on the hill, which is just south of downtown Kansas City. This was build in the 1920's.

Greg and I had never been there either. This was wonderful and so interesting! I recommend this to anyone visiting KC! We learned so much I can’t even begin to blog about it all. Then we also went up into this tower and enjoyed the view, this picture showing the Union Railroad Station (worth a visit too) and the downtown sky line....And many fountains that KC is famous for.

All in all we had an enjoyable weekend exploring KC, learning, shopping for the house furniture, eating, and laughing with friends. “Life is Good”!

PS: I only ate 1/3 of this and took the rest home for two more meals. After all, I had to save room for the cheesecake. We ate at the "Cheesecake Factory" on the Plaza.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Five Toe" sketch

6-25-09 silly brain

When in KC, I didn't have my pastels with me to work on more "toenail" sketches, so I decided to practice some sidewalk chalk drawing for the fun of it. This sketch is a bit bigger than the toenail sketches, thus I think it is appropriate to call it a "Foot" or a "Five Toe" sketch.

I've been working in Iowa City the last few days, so no time to blog.... but I promise to write one for tomorrow. You are probably tired of my "toes".

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Toenail Sketch #2

6-24-09 silent brain

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I LOVE Wrens!

6-23-09 bird brain
I've been back in Des Moines now for a few days- just in time to see my lilies bursting with color in the front and back gardens. I am also very excited to see that the wrens have accepted to stay in the lodging I have provided them this year. They have been chatting away (I love that sound) and sneaking in and out of the green gourd. My Dad was the first to show me how to attract wrens by giving them a home. Dad has used many gourds over the years. I don’t have a drill to make a round hole, but the triangle seems to work OK for them as well.

My friend Ann gave me this other bird house for my birthday last year in the fall, so this is the first year to see if the wrens will like this style of housing. Even if the wrens decide that they don’t want to fly into that NOSE….... I’m enjoying having it hang in my back tree! Ann will have to leave a comment for me.... I believe this came from a local artist she found down at the Farmer's Market in Des Moines. Is that correct Ann?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Trading spaces, home sweet home #2

6-22-09 decorating brain
Time for an update: many projects have occurred over the last 10 days while I have been in KC. We finally have made progress in getting the KC house more put together. We are having fun trying to furnish this place on a small budget, finding sales and using hand-me-downs.

Two weekends ago, our friend Ann from DM came to visit with her white van (the "shopping mobile" I like to call it- Ann loves to shop) and brought us a day-bed she was getting rid of. She also brought down the base of a table our neighbor was getting rid of. Both of these would be painting projects for us.

With Ann’s van we also went shopping out at Nebraska Furniture Mart looking for some sales. Our goal was to get a futon type couch for the basement to make a guest suite since the extra bathroom is in the finished basement. Besides finding an inexpensive black futon, we found a sofa table in clearance. The trick was to fit both in the van along with three people for the 25 mile ride home. We did it! Greg rode in the back.

There will be future posts on Ann’s visit later in the week….. but I am happy to report that Greg and I worked on our painting projects with great success. However, the futon was too long to get down the narrow basement steps, so this now is in the family room, which works out great.

The house is now starting to look like someone actually lives here; all we have left is an empty basement….. which in reality is refreshing, compared to all the clutter in the basement of the DM house. Also we now have several places for guests to sleep.... Come on down for a visit!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Time will tell

6-20-09 Pondering brain
This week, after hearing all the news about the Iran elections, the controversy with the elections results followed by the protesting, I began pondering……. And wondering about this apparent yearning for democracy…. Or at least the yearning for a “Moderate Revolution” in Iran.

In the KC Star newspaper Friday I found two viewpoints in the opinion page. One was just a letter to the editor by a local guy who was fast to give credit to George W. Bush for planting the seeds of freedom in the Middle East…….I thought…. “Well maybe,…. but at what cost to our country?”…. However, I think it is way too soon for a statement like this. Time will tell.

The events in Tehran feel more like a Tiananmen Square moment to me. It is wonderful to see the human spirit dream and aspire towards a self-actualized life, longing for more freedoms…… but if a seed has been planted, there is a long, difficult growing season ahead. Time will tell.

The second viewpoint I was pondering was in Thomas Friedman’s commentary about the “Mideast’s Digital Revolution” and how Internet technology like Facebook, Twitter, and blogging all are playing a big roll in the grassroots movement of organizing people towards a cause.

The Internet continues to astound me. I’m just beginning to fully appreciate the power THIS technology has to change our world. Not only changing the way we communicate with each other, but also changing habits, changing how we spend our work time, our free time, our active/sedentary lifestyle, changes in the amount of information that is at our finger tips, and probably even changes in our brain. I for one am profoundly impacted by the evolution and revolution of the Internet which allows me to live both in Des Moines and Kansas City and work remotely.

Change”…. Life’s only constant…. Many, many, many changes brought about by Internet technology appear to be for the good, …… However, it may be way too soon for a statement like this as well. Time will tell.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Toenail Sketch #1

6-19-09 exercising brain
I found an interesting article in the Kansas City Star newspaper last Sunday. I was attracted to the headline “Preventing Memory Loss”…. I am at that age where I have started to observe slight forgetfulness in myself and in my friends. I think we are probably just way too busy and our brains can’t keep up, but if there is a decline starting, then it is time to start doing activities to counteract this.

This article, written by Tony Castro of Los Angeles Daily News, is about a physician, Arnold Bresky and states “success comes when people exercise their brains by doing artwork”. “The brain works through numbers and patterns…. The numbers are on the left side of your brain, the patterns are on the right side”. What Bresky’s program is doing is connecting the two sides….. through art.

Well, that certainly caught my attention. I’ve been thinking for awhile now, that I should be blogging less and doing more artwork. After all, I’m not a writer, but a painter. Although, I bet blogging has some benefits for the brain too.

So recently I’ve started trying to build a new habit of doing some “mini sketching” daily. My art teacher, Mary Muller, always preached the benefit of this to improve drawing skills. Unfortunately, I haven't yet been doing this every day…. But I hope to work up to that.

These mini doodles are small- something I can finish easily in an hour or less. I went to photograph a few and needed to hold the picture flat with my foot…. Thus, I have created the name “toenail sketch” to describe my mini artwork. (Yes ,that is my big toe... surprisingly it looks a lot like my thumb..... I never noticed that before)

So if I don’t feel like writing a blog, I will be posting some of my toenail sketches. These aren’t perfect. That’s not to point. The point is to exercise my brain and keep the creativity flowing.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bathroom view

6-18-09 observing brain
I love to look out the windows of my upstairs bathroom in the DM house; There are four- one west, two north, and one east. From my toilet seat I love looking west at the neighbors serviceberry tree. This tree has beautiful flowers in the spring, then red berries the birds love, then beautiful autumn leaves.

Greg and I liked this tree so much, we added one to our yard in the front curb garden. Our serviceberry currently is more bush like than tree like, but it is growing nicely.

While in KC, I'm wondering if I'm missing all the fun out the bathroom window. When I left town the berries were just staring to turn red and soon the birds will to doing acrobatics as they maneuver to eat the berries. I believe the birds get a bit "drunk" as the berries ripen. At least they act that way!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Girl Power!

6-17-09 Strong brain

I’m working from the KC house this week. I heard some noise of children laughing and became distracted. It seems like our street in KC has many families with children. Greg is happy for this, knowing our neighborhood has young families investing in these homes. I myself do get a kick out of watching the view out our large living room picture window. So far I’ve witnessed, tree climbing, a lemonade stand which I did patronize, playing in the rain, sidewalk chalk drawing and today there was playing with the garden hose with the garbage cans!

These kids are interesting . The oldest is a girl, who is in 3rd grade, followed by three younger brothers. I would say the girl does her best to keep the boys under control. She has a loud “outdoor” voice, especially when she is selling lemonade.

This reminds me of my 80+ year old friend Vivian, who grew up in a family of boys and she was the oldest. This undeniably has shaped Vivian. Vivian is a family friend who loves saying “I’ve known Judy all her life”. Vivian first knew my father in high school, then became friends with my parents when their lives crossed paths again several years later.

Growing up, I called Vivian my “Aunt Vivian” since my real aunt lived cross country and I didn’t get to see her much. The cool thing was that my aunt and Vivian also knew each other in high school, so Vivian, along with her family, are definitely part of my family.

Vivian, like my young neighbor girl, has a strong personality, and is not afraid to speak her mind. I have been blessed to have Vivian as one of my female mentors. When I need to speak up, or speak out with my opinion, or come to the defense of someone or something…. I do my best to “channel” Vivian’s strength. Here is a picture of my mother (glasses) and Vivian (sitting on floor)....probably in the early 50’s.

I'm grateful that Vivian is still in my life today, although her body is slowly failing, her spirit is still strong, and when that time comes for Vivian to pass on, I will not only carry her memory in my heart, but also in my backbone!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mr. Jade

6-16-09 horticulture brain

I miscounted; I have at least 20 house plants. I forgot I have moved some outdoors for the summer and a few are now in KC. One of my favorite and oldest of my plants is my Jade plant. I can’t even remember when or where I got this, but it was small, only 6 inches high. I believe it was in the mid 80’s when I moved into my own apartment. This might have even been a “house warming” gift. I’ve re-potted it several times, but I think it’s so heavy now, this is his permanent home.

Mr. Jade gets to spend summers outdoors, since this is the thing that really makes him healthy and strong. Then he suffers a bit in doors, over the dark winter months. A few days ago I decided that Mr. Jade was doing to have some babies…. It was time for a trim.

If anyone in DM or KC wants a baby Jade, I’d be happy to share. Lord knows I don’t need any more plants.

Monday, June 15, 2009

My friend Violet

6-15-09 traveling brain

Well it’s about that time of the month again…… NO not THAT! I’m happy to say I’m DONE with that!.....
I mean it’s time for me to head south to KC and spend a week with Greg. Pack up my laptop, my work, a few clothes and my traveling buddy- "Violet"!

Violet has to make the trip with me, since Violet needs watered more that once while I’m gone, while my other house plants can survive.
I’m not sure why I ended up with so many house plants, but I have at least a dozen. I think I got my first plant, a philodendron while in college. I read that house plants were helpful at improving air quality and I was sensitive to the environment even back then.

Violet was given to me about 3 years ago by some work associates, Carol and Beth, who I was helping up at the hospital in Ames, Iowa. I'm surprised I've managed to keep Violet alive, but she is happy to sit on my east kitchen window and in KC, Violet sits in the front living room large picture window. I have not done anything special for her, except keep her watered and loved.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Old family art

6-13-09 amazed brain
I had a Great Aunt on my mother’s side of the family who dabbled in art. My Mom has some of Aunt Lucy’s paintings hanging back home. When I was back in my hometown over Memorial Weekend, I found myself studying a few of the paintings. They appeared to be watercolor. It amazes me that these paintings are over 100 years old! This pictured is signed with Lucy's name and '07. That would be 1907. It hangs in the front bathroom of my parents house.

Aunt Lucy was #7 out of 12 children of August Huxsol (born in Germany) and his wife Elizabeth Keller (born in Ohio). This Huxsol family established a farm in Floyd County, Iowa. My Grandpa was #11 out of the 12. There were 8 girls and 4 boys. Lucy was born in 1889 and died 1962. Coincidentally Lucy's birth day is in October, just 3 days before mine. We are both Scorpios!

Lucy is shown here with her sisters. She is in the front row on right side.

I sometimes think of Aunt Lucy when I paint, wondering if this is where I get some of my natural talent. I also wonder if any of my art will survive for 100 years.

These are a few more of Lucy's artwork. My Mom has told me that she didn't think Lucy ever had art lessons. Lucy was single her whole life, I believe, and she took care of the children of one of her brother's, since his wife had died. (I think I have that story correct.... Mom can correct me if I've confused Lucy with another Aunt)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Book Review

6-12-09 reading brain
Over the Memorial Day weekend trip back to my hometown, my mother wanted to take time to show my sister and I important things in her closet that we would need to deal with (if anything were to happen to her). Mom showed us materials she was keeping as acting historian for 3 different organizations and showed us old family books. There was nothing too earth shaking.

I did notice some other books on the floor and questioned her about them. She said these were books she has read by one of her favorite authors, Jodi Picoult. I had never heard of this author, so I asked my mother if she could recommend one. Mom said they were ALL good and just handed me the book off the top of the pile. She gave one to my sister too. The book she gave me must have been the last book she had read, since the copy write was 2009, called “Handle with Care”.

I took the book home with me and have spent the last 3 weeks reading it…. a few chapters at a time just before bedtime, my favorite routine. This book is definitely very readable and was written in a very interesting way where each chapter was written from a different character’s view point. I’ve found this book to be very timely with current events: the killing of the abortion doctor, Dr. George Tiller.

Although no abortion takes place in this book, one character was adopted and looking for her birth mother and another character in the story was a disabled child. If you are a mother, I believe you will find this book thought-provoking. I would recommend it for your summer reading list! I for one, can't wait to borrow another Jodi Picoult book from my mother on my next trip home!

There is a review from Washington Post.

PS: In regards to real life news: the murder of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas, I’d say- “until your become a parent faced with the decision to keep or terminate a deformed fetus who's future will lead to a profoundly disabled child; you can not make a judgment on the medical services Dr. George Tiller provided for his patients.” (quote from me in my Letter to the Editor in DM newspaper this week.

Coincidentally, this week NPR had a eye OPENING show on abortion. Can an abortion ever be called a blessing? Listen and judge for yourself…. But don’t judge for someone else.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Water Art part 1

6-11-09 nature brain

So far, June has been wonderful in Iowa this year. Much sunlight but still cooler temperatures, like a few days ago, the overnight temperature was only 52 degrees. Actually that is perfect sleeping weather with windows open about 6 inches. A blanket is still needed, and still feels nice to snuggle in as I listen to the birds sing as the sunrises early. I took advantage of these delightful conditions the other morning and as went for a walk before work, I discovered some “Water Art” in the grass. Every blade had one drop. I don’t have a fancy camera, so this picture does not fully do this nature art show justice.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"SOLD" Art

6-10-09 shamWOW brain!
Wowwie... all this "ART" talk on my blog was heard by the universe and in that awesome mysterious way, something surprising happened!

I sold one of my paintings!
This one is called "Dining Room Table" which I did about 8 years ago.

Well, first I need to explain that I have been a member of the Associated Artists of Central Iowa (AACI), for several years. However, I've been too busy with "real work" to be very active in the group, and if I'm lucky, I get to one or two meetings a year.... but I do pay my dues every year to be a member.

The AACI has art shows around the city and normally the timing does not work out for me to participate, since I'm either out of town the day they hang the show or or take down the show, so I haven't bothered submitting any of my artwork.

Well this month in June, I decided to put three paintings in the show which is downtown in the Iowa State Bank lobby, across the street from the Historical Building, by the Capitol Building. The show just went up on June 1st.

I was sitting at my desk Friday afternoon, June 5th at 4:45 PM and the phone rang..... this guy wants to by my painting for his wife! WOW!

Oh... it's going to be hard to part with this painting which hung in my dinning room for several years, but since I repainted the dining room a new color this winter, I had decided I no longer needed this painting. I know I'll never get rich by selling my art, since each one is like a child I have given birth to.... and I rarely want to part with them. But my walls are full, so now is the time to make room for new creations to come into my life.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Shoe Art

6-9-09 unpredictable brain
So on Saturday I had mentioned some shoe shopping….. Greg and I both like DSW, "Designer Shoe Warehouse". We first were introduced to DSW by our friend Molly in Kansas City at least 15 years ago. There was one of these stores close to the apartment she was living in at that time. I wasn’t much of a shoe person back then. I was happy to have a blue, black and cream pair for work and maybe some tennis shoes and one pair of sandals. Well, needless to say, Greg has been a bad influence on me. I now have too many shoes. But this weekend I was looking for something to wear with my basic black evening dress which I have planned to wear to a wedding this summer. I don’t dress up much, so I don’t really own a fancy pair of shoes.

I remember the lessons given on the TV show “What Not to Wear”….. that you can wear fun shoes that “pop” to give that extra pizazz. I figured if I was wearing a black dress I did need some pizazz. I first looked at some red shoes, then lime green…. I ended up finding these on the sale rack…. They are Liz Claiborne’s. I had to laugh at myself. These aren’t usually something I would wear…. These shoes remind me of something my hair designer friend LuAnn worn back in the 1980’s. We were an “odd couple” together: I wore the preppy look back then and she dressed more 80’s Madonna like.

I bet LuAnn will get a kick out of these shoes! She is now the more conservative one (I think)... and I am trying to be more bold. I tell you…. Turning 50 does something to you!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Art of a fun weekend

6-8-09 re-creation brain
Friday night was our first street party of the summer. We call it Beaveritaville, since we live in the neighborhood of “Beaverdale” and this is our Jimmy Buffet type Margarita Party. Many people were willing to dress the part and have their pictures taken. The party this year was held in the backyard deck of one of our newest neighbors, Deb, who has proven herself to be a supreme hostess! Of course we all pitched in, but Deb went that extra mile. I can’t believe I managed to stay awake until 11:30 PM, that’s when the last 6 of us decided it was well past our bedtimes.

So I was in bed about midnight, and awake at 5:00AM to hear the start of the rain that was predicted. I was please with this, since it meant I could roll over and sleep for several more hours….. there was nothing urgent to do Saturday morning.

Finally late Saturday morning, the rain had stopped, and Greg and I got ourselves together to attend the British Car Club auto show. For the past 5 years it has been held in Beaverdale, but this year someone new had organized it out in West Des Moines in the new shopping area “West Glen”, by the new Jordan Creek Mall. We hung out for about 3 hours there with our Mini Cooper friends. We discovered the most wonderful Mediterranean Restaurant named “Adonis”. Mmmmmm…. It was so good! I had the best pita wrap and salad.

After doing a few errands late Saturday afternoon, which included shoe shopping at DSW, we decided we were too worn out to attend another potluck party with people we knew from the Drake University MPA program, so we just walked over to the local Mexican restaurant close to our house for dinner. Then we remembered that the Greek Festival was this weekend, so we found enough energy to get on our bikes to ride a mile or so to that event in hopes of getting some baklava dessert. Sad to say they had run out of this, so we were forced to bike a bit farther to find some ice cream at a local Italian shop, Marino’s.

So Saturday night I was in bed reading by 9:30, after soaking my tired muscles in a warm bath, and there I stayed until 12 hours later. We ignored the alarm clock and did not make church today….. but I did enjoy a leisurely Sabbath. I didn’t even try to accomplish anything until Sunday evening when I did force myself to pick up the house, do a few loads of laundry and blog. Now that was a fun weekend!

PS: Friday night I had two co-workers, Renee and Lori walking in the “Relay for Life”, the cancer all night walk held in Iowa Falls. I was thinking I should have been with them, but to show my support, while I was drinking a margarita, I was wearing my PINK breast cancer wrist band! (Maybe next year I’ll join them!?)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Art of Diplomacy

6-6-09 inspired brain

I heard much of President Obama’s speech this week from his visit to Egypt and was happy to see him represent the America I love and I believe in: The America that emits light in a world of darkness and the America that inspires freedom and peace, rather than fear and revenge.

Speaking of “Art and Spirit” yesterday in my blog….. Here is an example of the spirit that came through me a few days after 9-11-2001 and this poem was created with my hand, not necessary by my hand.

I know no one is perfect, but with Obama, I’m happy to see our country being lead towards, justice,... liberty,... life,... and love.

It’s About Time” -America
By Judy Sebern Beachy

Thank you SEPTEMBER ELEVENTH for awakening me from my comfortable middle-age nap.

I was couch potato like-
Lulled into complacency by the rich meal of prosperity,
Over fed by my middle class life.

Groggy as I was-
I didn’t even know I was chosen.
Too sedated to care much of the “other world’s” woes.

The alarm came-
Shocking and too loud to ignore.
No snooze button to be found.
Time to stretch, rub the sleep from my eyes.

Yes, I am now awake-
Called to stand up, summoned to make a difference.
Justice to be prayed for, liberty to protect.
Life to be grateful for, love to spread.

Addendum: For those of you with short memories or who are still in denial, see my fellow blogger’s post from June 5th: http://womenofcertainage.blogspot.com/

Friday, June 5, 2009

Church Art

6-5-09 inspired brain
Still speaking again of Art today, Pentecost Sunday was last week at church. Pentecost is the festival that marks the birth of the Christian church by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is one of my favorite church days since it’s all about "spirit” (holy spirit, advocate, spirit of truth)….. Something I strongly believe in, experience and use when I am creating art.

I am amazed at those times when a poem seems to be placed in my brain fully intact, and the words flow through me, not from me. I remember the exact first time (in 1998) when I, as an inexperienced art student, felt a shift in my brain while working on a piece. Before, I would be using my intellect, mental power, while I painted…. After, I now feel a spirit guiding me. This sounds weird I know, but it’s hard to explain with words.

In 2003, my church challenged a few of us artists, who were members, to create some symbols for Pentecost. At my church, Westminster Presbyterian, we have a strong Fine Arts Programs which includes music, drama and the visual arts. I enjoyed working on the piece called “FIRE” since it was different than anything I had done before. This is four foot high and made from a woodwork cutout. Here was my description below from the church program.

FIRE- Tongues of fire, drawn like water pouring out from the cross is an interpretation of the Scripture..."I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh...." The cross symbolizes God, the source of the Spirit. The cross is green to reflect the spring season of newness and rebirth. Confetti (balloons, streamers and music notes) are embedded in the paint of the cross to remind us of the celebration of Pentecost.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Safe Art

6-4-09 no-brain
After my unsuccessful attempt at “Nature Art” I decided I would create some no-brainer art. On my weekend trip to my hometown I had found some fun flower decals at a cute little shop called the “Rustic Corner”. I was probably drawn to these because of my childhood love the 60’s flower child clothes, love beads and mod art as illustrated by this "Flower Power" image.

These fun flower decals were very easy to work with and are easily removed. I decided to decorate the back door entry into the kitchen, since this is were we always enter the house and this is also the stairs going down to the basement. Maybe this addition of color would improve the Fung Shui energy.

This seems to put a smile on my face when I walk in the door.



Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Nature Art part 2

6-3-09 inspired brain
So a few weeks ago as I was sweeping up some whirly-bird Maple seeds and found myself thinking about Andrew Goldsworthy (from yesterday's post). Here I had an ample supply of natural material, what would Goldsworthy do with this?

I thought in order to do anything, I'd need a glue gun.... but that probably would break the "natural material" rules for this form of art. After a day or two of looking at the swept up pile of seeds I had a vision of those popcorn balls we'd eat as kids. I wasn't sure of the recipe, but after consulting my Betty Crocker Cookbook, I decided I would try to make a LARGE ball of whirly-birds. I went off to the the store to buy two large bottles of corn syrup. I cooked my sugar mixture on the stove until I thought it was done (guess it wasn't)....

Thank goodness Greg was not around to witness the the mess I created on the back porch. I had a large tub I used to stir the mixture together, then laid out on a plastic bag to try to form my ball. I had greased my gardening gloves so I would not get all stuck together.

Sadly my ball did not hold..... so I just pile up the sticky mess in a pot and put behind the garage to wait and see if any animals would be enticed to eat the whirly-bird candy treat.

Well, you win some and you lose some, even Andrew Goldsworthy can have an unsuccessful day as showed in this YouTube clip.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Nature Art part 1

6-2-08 creative brain
I was introduced to an artist about 8 years ago, by my friend Steve who lives in Alaska. Steve and I grew up in same neighborhood and attended school, K-12 grades, together in northern Iowa. Steve has been a teacher in Alaska for 20+ years, and he was visiting Iowa for the summer. He invited Greg and I to attend an evening lecture by Andrew Goldsworthy held at Drake University, only a few miles from our house. Goldsworthy actually had been in Des Moines several months creating an outdoors “sculpture” at the DM Art Center which is similar to this one.

I was so fascinated by Goldsworthy’s lecture and the slides of his work, that I became an instant fan. To summarize, I’d describe Goldsworthy as an artist who works with nature and natural materials to create temporary art. The idea of temporary art becomes more and more appealing to me as my house gets filled with too much stuff.

Goldsworthy was the subject of a documentary film back around 2001 called "Rivers and Tides". It’s breathtaking and awe-inspiring. Here is a YouTube clip from that movie to give you a flavor of his work.

Monday, June 1, 2009

I feel gross!

6-1-09 reassured brain
Friday evening we were going out for a causal dinner with friends. I couldn’t decide what to wear. First it was shorts, then it was capri pants, then it was long pants. It was one of those days…. I hated my face, my hair, my muffin top, and my clothes.
I finally settled on khaki pants with turquoise top with sandals. Feeling gross, I headed down stairs trying to get into a pleasant mood. As I walked into the sunroom, Greg said “I like your hair”.

It’s amazing when someone else sees you different than you see yourself! Was he just being nice, or did he really mean it?

Since Greg is always honest with me, I took his compliment and trusted that he knew best and then I decided to stop worrying about how I looked. We enjoyed a lovely evening with Ann and Roy eating dinner over at one of our local restaurants “Chef’s”. We then took a stroll around the neighborhood and then off to bed early so we could rise at a decent time with plans to attend the Des Moines Farmer’s Market.

Well, the alarm went off at 7:30AM, our idea of getting up early on the weekend, and I was actively dreaming! I couldn't get out of bed, I was still dead tired. It had been one of those nights, which happen from time to time, when I woke up at 3:00AM and laid there not sleeping, finally I decide to get up and go into the office and do some art. I finally went back to bed at 5:30AM, thinking 2 hours of sleep would help, but I think I felt worse.

Finally, I was able to force myself out of bed at 8:30 and we were down to the Farmer's Market by 9:30AM and we connected up with our friend Ann (a different Ann from last night). It was a beautiful weekend here in Iowa. Warm, sunny with a light breeze. I really should have been, and wanted to be out in the garden weeding that morning, but Greg convinced me to "play" instead. As an adult, it is easy to forget how important play is to our mental health!

I am grateful to have someone in my life who is honest, distracts me from work, reminds me to have fun.... and also likes my hair when it is messy!