Sunday, May 17, 2009

Saying Yes More Often.

I am, by nature, a pessimist. I like to think of myself as a realist because pessimist has such a negative connotation to it but, given my true nature at this stage in life, I am a pessimist. I think through all possible outcomes to a given situation before I begin to ensure that I am best prepared for the worst. I know logically that this approach to life leads to many situations where I don't even begin because a high percentage of possible outcomes could be detrimental (from my perspective).

I believe that my approach to life is largely based on my childhood experiences and that, because of those experiences, I have developed a habit of wanting to avoid "bad" outcomes. I also think it is human nature, as part of our basic survival instincts, to avoid "pain" and go to pleasure or comfort.

I know that my approach, my habits, keep me from experiencing things in my life (painful or pleasurable) that will help me grow as a person. I know that my need to control each situation, to play out all the end scenarios and determine how to deal with each before I have even started keeps my opportunities for growth limited to the perspectives and experiences I have played out beforehand, needing to be within my acceptable range of outcomes.

I logically know this is how I operate (most times on auto pilot) and yet I find myself in the same set of circumstances over and over and over through life. Because, frankly, change can be difficult and it definitely requires me to be present in the moment. And how can I be present in the moment if I am constantly playing out every darn possible scenario in the universe (mostly the bad one's) that could occur in the future so that I can adequately prepare myself?

So, my tiny step this week is to start saying "Yes!" more in places where I might have otherwise said no. I did this yesterday when an opportunity presented itself to me in place of what I thought I wanted. Instead of saying no, that is not what I asked for, I said Yes! I will try that because it is here for me now.

I was listening to a podcast last week where they talked about putting down the oar that we use to paddle up river and instead go where the river leads you. A deep part of me sighed with HUGE relief at being able to "let go". Of course, another part of me went into panic mode. We are all so incredibly trained as part of our societal obligations to "take the bull by the horns", "lead the way", "take the initiative", "make it happen", "be the leader", etc. There is so much value in our society for being driven, controlling, perfectionist - it creates struggle many times because everyone is hearing the message to be the team coach and there is no one left to be the team. I find this many times in my professional life. Everyone wants to be viewed as the visionary, the leader, the top dog....there is no one left to do the work. Or, even worse for me, the one's left actually doing the work are viewed as order-takers that lack drive and motivation. Hello?

So, my little part this week is to be open to what is in front of me more (saying yes to the moment or opportunity) and letting go of the oars (just a little bit for now).

Saturday, May 16, 2009

We Are All in the Same Boat.

You would have to live in a cave (a cave without wireless internet, cell reception or human contact) in order to avoid the fact that the world is going through some pretty hefty changes these days. Some folks have been relatively sheltered from the storm, many have had significant impact to their lives, their livelihoods and their world.

I propose that those who have been somewhat sheltered reach out to help those who have been impacted. I don't think you have to look too far at all. A friend (or friends), a family member, a co-worker (or ex co-worker). How can we help each other out? How can we take care of those around us? How can we be the vehicle for creating community, support and kindness for those in our immediate sphere?

Here are some thoughts:

  1. Make a friend a delicious homemade dinner and let them take the leftovers for lunch.
  2. Share items from your garden with a neighbor.
  3. Host a book/clothing/toy exchange at your home - everyone brings an item (or three) to exchange for something else...a "new to them" item.
  4. Make enough lunch to share with someone at work.
  5. Send an email, make a phone call or send one of those greeting cards piling up in your office to someone you love to let them know you are thinking about them.
  6. Hire your friend/neighbor/family member to provide a service to you in a skill area they are wonderful at.
  7. Burn a CD and give it to a friend.
  8. Loan movies/books/magazines to each other.
  9. Plan a "free day" excursion to visit the library, museum (on free day - most have one), nibble on Costco samples and window shop at local stores.
  10. Reach out to co-workers who are being laid off and connect with them, create a link and stay in touch. We should never be too busy to be kind and caring to our fellow humans.

We are all in the same boat and we need to take care of each other and let kindness be our currency.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Moment Before it Begins.

I love to have small groups of friends to the house for dinner. Note the word small. I am not a party person. Large groups of people overwhelm and confuse me most of the time. I like to pay attention to the conversation and get to know the people I am with on a more intimate level. I like to give them my undivided attention. In large group settings (for me that is 6 or more) I find it distracting, the conversations never getting too deep because there are so many people to say "hi" to.

Life has kind of been like the moment before the dinner begins for me the past few weeks. The table is set, the pots are simmering, the wine is chilling and the garden patio is dust free but no one is here yet. I have been in the mode of preparing for the next phase of my own life - cleaning my floors, grocery shopping for new items, creating new menus and thinking through the details. I have been asking myself a lot of questions and waiting for the answers to bubble to the top in their own good time. Perhaps when my view is clearer I will share more.

In other news it is HOT. Big surprise that Phoenix, in May, is hot. Every year I fall so in love with Spring and then the first 100 degree day hits and I start to wonder why I live here. I get dehydrated because I forget I have to drink more water now and I have not gotten back in the habit of putting the screen shade up in my car just yet. It takes a couple of weeks to adjust for the summer heat. Just a week ago we took the blankets off our bed (one heated and one synthetic down!). Hmmm, maybe I am not going through "the change" with all those night sweats after all - it was just too many blankets on the bed!

So, while I ease into the boiling atmosphere that will be the next few months of our lives here in the desert, I will leave you with this inspiring poem. Typically I do not "fall" for the predictable sing-songiness that all performance poets seem to have but the words were amazing as was the poet. I will also leave you with this very honest reflection of being an artist. Lastly, two new-to-me links to pass along that I found very entertaining so I will add this and this to my links list.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Post Earth Day.

I spent the week in Princeton, NJ for business this past week and didn't get to post on Earth Day. Isn't it so cool that we actually have an Earth Day? I think so. As we continue to grow as a species, it can be pretty daunting to think of the enormous burden we place on nature to sustain our bad habits. It is also inspiring to see all the innovation that is taking place (we are smart, aren't we?) as the need increases for sustainable solutions.

I look to our own household and some of the changes we have made just in the past year that have lightened our impact on the planet:

  1. Using my Klean Kanteen instead of plastic water bottles. While I have had other reusable water bottles in the past, the plastic one's were icky and other stainless steel brands got really nasty eventually because they were hard to wash due to the small opening. I LOVE my Klean Kanteen!
  2. We have switched from paper napkins to cloth ones. I can't imagine how much paper we have saved over the past year just in using cloth vs. paper.
  3. Using regular cups, plates and utensils when we entertain instead of paper and plastic disposable items.
  4. Eating less meat and more veggies from our lovely garden.
  5. Shopping more at the farmer's market and less at grocery stores. I have also rid my life of frozen meals all together. There is so much waste in the packaging and they aren't even that good!
This year, we have lots of new plans for more ways to decrease our foot print on the planet, including:
  1. Converting our front lawn to an edible landscape. Right now we have two huge pine trees and a Eucalyptus along with a large front lawn. They were all here when we bought the house 10 years ago. Now that Vynnie is the most amazing gardener, we will have the opportunity to create an edible landscape and hopefully inspire some of our neighbors to do the same.
  2. Creating more biodiversity in our backyard by getting some chickens! I am really excited about this since I am an animal lover. Can't wait for Fall so we can bring those lovely little chicks to their new home.
  3. Eating even less meat and even more organic fruits and veggies.
  4. Using our money to vote for the things we want to support. With the economy in the shape it is right now, our dollars are more powerful than ever in voting for what we want when we buy green, organic, sustainable and local.
  5. Creating artwork with more sensitivity to reusing, recycling and using Earth-friendly products when creating.
  6. No more plastic bags! I admit that I bought several reusable shopping bags, including one's that fit into my purse, and don't always use them. This year is the year to not put one more plastic bag into the system from shopping.
  7. I will be writing to some of my favorite stores to ask for better packaging options. One example is Trader Joe's. I love and adore Trader Joe's but why do they have to package all their organic fruits and veggies in plastic containers? I hope that they will find alternatives or quit packing these all together - nature already wrapped them didn't she?
  8. Limit our take out meals. Yes, it is nice to eat our favorite restaurant meals at home but the amount of waste that results from take out dining (containers, bags, plastic utensils) is unreal. Time to eat at the restaurant (and order only what we can eat there) or cook at home!
  9. Switch to sustainable house cleaning products. I am a big time Swiffer fan. It is so easy to run it across the floor, sweep up the fur balls and dust and toss it in the trash. The Swiffer mop is really convenient too, however neither of these products is sustainable or biodegradable. Time to find really good alternatives (like a dust mop and an old-fashioned floor mop) and reuse these babies!
  10. Give sustainable gifts and wrap them in ways other than paper or gift bags that end up in the trash. I saw the coolest thing at Cost Plus on a recent trip, fabric gift wrap and a lovely satin ribbon to tie it up with. You can reuse this again and again!
It's a good list for this year and something we can work towards. What are you going to change this year in the way that you live to help Earth?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

40 Things I Love...

Today is my husband's 40th birthday! My husband Vynnie is truly the most incredible, inspiring and kindest person I know. What does a girl get for the man who needs nothing to be happy, loves sitting in his garden more than going out to fancy dinners and thinks poop is a gift? Compost bins! Yes, that's right, he wanted compost bins for his birthday and so that is what he is getting!

I think sometimes the people in our lives don't know what makes them so special to us so I wanted to write a list of 40 things I absolutely love about my man. So here it goes:

  1. His smile. This is the first thing I saw, even before I met him. You can see his smile coming a mile away and it always melts my heart.
  2. The way he drinks his tea (both hands on a cup, sipping like a little kid).
  3. His kindness.
  4. That he prefers PB and J to fillet mignon.
  5. His passion for all things green.
  6. That he always says yes to a new adventure.
  7. How he can talk to anybody. Anybody!
  8. That for his birthday dinner he wants something that has rice.
  9. How he can put anything together, fix anything and never throw the hammer when it takes longer than expected or when it requires far more tools and supplies than originally thought.
  10. That he likes cats.
  11. That there are no strangers in his world, only friends he hasn't met yet.
  12. His endless creativity.
  13. That his favorite color is white.
  14. His paintings - they are mysterious, layered and they inspire the imagination to go to new places.
  15. That his favorite movie is Blade Runner
  16. How his eyes exude incredible light, like he knows the secret to the universe.
  17. The way he cooks sweet potatoes - YUM!
  18. That it takes him a year to read a novel, one page a day.
  19. That he is a brave Marine but never, ever brags about it.
  20. His gusto for eating vegetables. He will pick things out of the garden and start nibbling right there because he can not wait for them to be rinsed and prepared.
  21. His eye for beauty - admiring it, creating it, finding it in places where others may overlook it.
  22. How he always uses the Latin name for plants (and therefore I rarely know which one's he is talking about).
  23. The way children light up when he walks into a room.
  24. His preference for t-shirt and shorts over suit and tie.
  25. The way he will stand in his garden, arms crossed, and witness life happening all around.
  26. That he always had something positive to say - about anyone, anything or any situation.
  27. His incredible, unending patience. As an impatient perfectionist, I am in constant awe of his ability to let things move at their own pace and in their own unique way.
  28. His beard that tickles my chin a little every time we kiss.
  29. His fondness for vanilla ice cream.
  30. The way he eats his chips and salsa - chips crushed up in a bowl, salsa poured on top and eaten with a spoon.
  31. The way he writes very detailed information on tiny little Post It notes.
  32. The way he walks - with confidence and a smidgen of bad ass.
  33. That he can admit getting a tattoo hurt.
  34. How he always finishes his drink before he starts to eat.
  35. The way his face lights up when he talks about peach cobbler.
  36. That no matter how expensive the bottle of wine, he will pour Hansen's soda in it to make it a wine cooler.
  37. His detachment to having control. He is very good at taking control if a situation calls for it, otherwise he just rolls with whatever is happening and enjoys the ride.
  38. His Scooby-Doo laugh. His laugh makes everyone smile and laugh with him.
  39. That he never raises his voice in anger.
  40. The way he can raise one eyebrow like Mr. Spock!
Happy birthday Vynnie! You are a true gift in everyone's life who has the fortune to know you!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I Get a Do Over.

Check this guy out! He was hanging out on the sidewalk like he owned it as hoards of people wandered down Bleeker Street on a Saturday. I love the the braveness.

I got a note from The Universe this morning that says I get a do-over. The note read:

You get as many "do-overs" as you like. Of course, you never know you're living a "do-over" until it's over.
There are lots of reasons for wanting a "do-over." Most of all, people want another chance to do things they were afraid to do the first time, and to say things they were afraid to say. Oddly enough, it's not their mistakes they want to rework, but their "unused" minutes. Yeah, pretty nifty, but you should know that it isn't any easier the next time, and because no two ever go exactly the same, the gifts, opportunities, and loves of one, never appear the same way again. Never. So all in all, it's better to live as if there are no "do-overs," so that you won't need one. But I thought I'd share this with you anyway, to work in the bits about fear, mistakes, and how precious today's opportunities really and truly are.

I love my life and have few regrets but boy, it is good to know, that if I need it I can get a do-over.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Weekend in Pictures...

This post is a tad late due to this pesky thing called work however, this is my weekend documented in pictures...

First, my favorite concoction. Green tea vanilla almond milk latte! Mix 1 part warm vanilla almond milk, 2 parts good green tea, a tad of agave nectar and a smidgen of cream....delicious! And yes, I make my tea in a French press.

Then a morning stroll in the garden...

...lovely, lovely flowers...

.....yummy edibles everywhere...

....and the meeting of the minds...

Finally, a cat nicknamed Bird (for her chirping) who likes a good roll in the dirt!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Don't these cherries look radiant? I took this photo a couple of years ago when I first got my digital SLR and was delighted at the results. May your day be a big, fat bowl of succulent cherries.

But, wait, have you heard? My friend Mary Ann is going to be doing the most stencilicious online workshop on, what else, stencils! She has an incredible class blog set up with tons of information and her workshop is sure to be as fantastic and creative as she is. Check out her blog for some really rockin' stencil work. These are not your mother's stencils folks! There is still time to get a spot in class so go sign up here!

The studio is coming along nicely. I have some twinkle lights installed and a new ceiling fan that won't hit me in the head when I walk across the room. I also found the coolest little doodads at Cost Plus while shopping for wine yesterday. They are just the right thing needed to spice up the clean white wall surrounding my garden view window. I am also making modifications to this dreamy find to remove the light and make it a lovely hanging mobile with touches of silky pink, orange and turquoise ribbons. I will post another round of photos with the updates to my little art hideaway perhaps this weekend. Tonight is for making some art in the studio. Ciao...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sundays are for Napping.

Unfortunately, no napping for me yet today.

On a completely random note, have you seen the outdoor Chihuly exhibit that is on tour coming to a town near you? If not, I highly recommend it. They have ours at the Desert Botanical Garden and it is viewable day and night (the sculptures light up at night). Here is a sneak peek:

We have gone once already and intend on going back on a not-so-crowded week night so we can get some really good photos. The glass was integrated in such unique and creative ways with all the funky desert plants we have around these here parts.

In other news, the farm animals are as chipper as ever. Would you like to meet a few?

This is Sir Charles Fuzzalot (we make all our own names for them...). He is the fuzziest burro I have ever seen. I wonder if he is not part horse, part burro as he is larger than all the other burros on the farm and has unique features.

And this dashing young black and white fellow is Baby Goat (he was, afterall, an itty-bitty baby when we first met him). Now he likes to play king of the hill with all the new babies. The have to keep a harness on him because he is a little frisky and can be hard to get ahold of when the vet comes to check on him. The one next to him is new and we have not named her yet. Suggestions?

This guy is Grandpa Goat (I know, not very creative but he is the oldest one in the herd). He has severe arthritis in his front legs so many times you will see him kneeling on his two front legs with his booty up in the air. The owners of the farm treat him twice a day with arthritis meds to keep his pain levels in check.

And this handsome fellow is Mr. Ed. He is the sweetest miniature horse and he LOVES carrots and apples.

And in our very own garden jungle, LuLu goes undercover so she can hunt birds. She burrows herself down into the giant lavender bushes and waits for birds and lizards to practically crawl onto her and then she pounces. We try to deter this behavior since the garden is home to a couple of dozen lizards and is a bird nesting ground for humming birds, finches, thrashers, wood peckers and doves. She did catch one of the finch babies last year (bad LuLu) when we weren't as attentive as we should have been.

LuLu was a stray in our neighborhood (we unfortunately have many strays). We do a catch, fix and release program with a local organization to cut down on all the breeding of feral cats because frankly it breaks my heart to see them all out there without a loving home and a lap to nap on. We currently have 2 former strays living indoors with us (LuLu and Zoe). When LuLu was a stray, she went to the vet to get fixed and the next morning when we released her she wouldn't leave our front door. So, we opened the door and she walked right in and has not left. Of course, she received a thorough check up, vaccinations, etc. before being released into the rest of the herd. She has been indoors now for about 2 years but she has a wild streak in her (hence the stalking of birds). We love her anyway...

In other news, my handsome and talented husband spent a good part of his day yesterday volunteering his garden expertise at a tree planting effort in Downtown Phoenix. Oh, why is that my husband with Phoenix City Mayor Phil Gordon?

I got a personal tour of the tree lined streets this morning and boy did everyone do a great job! Thanks to Mayor Phil for funding the effort!!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Hour Today 8:30 PM Local Time

Hey, what would it be like if you turned out your lights and shut down your computer and television for an entire hour today? What if you did this at the same time as lots of other people in your time zone? Check out Earth Hour and see what the impact can be if you participate.

Here are 10 things you can do during the hour the lights are out:

  1. Light a few candles, pour a glass of wine and talk to someone you love.
  2. Charge up your iPod and put on the headphones and listen to some music.
  3. Meditate.
  4. Have dinner by moon light.
  5. Have a party with your friends and play games by candle light.
  6. Charge your laptop and watch a movie on battery power (ok, this might be cheating a teeny, weenie bit).
  7. Make yourself a hot bath at 7:59 PM and enjoy a long and realxing soak.
  8. If you live some place warm, go for a moonlight walk.
  9. Make art by candle light. People actually used to this ALL the time before electricity!
  10. Go to bed early and get a good night's sleep.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Nothing Like a Deadline to Get Me Moving....

Seeing as how work is looming in my schedule starting Monday, I put the pedal to the metal the last couple of days to get the studio somewhat finished. It was a lot of work (and dust....and sneezing....) but it is almost there. I know it would not have gotten this far without all the help from Vyn who gave up a lot of time these past few days to assemble shelves and furniture and carry heavy boxes from the store to the car and then from the car to the house. Thank you honey!!!

So, without further ado, here it is:



The two paintings in this shot are from the lovely and talented Anahata.



Chris....this is your new bed when you come to visit!


I still need to put the doors on the rest of these cabinets but they were out of stock at Ikea. The black doors here are actually glass and you can put your own artwork inside these or fabric. I thought it was pretty cool to be able to change the look without changing the furniture.

I want to get some bamboo shades for the windows and get art on the wall but, that aside, it is GREAT to have a place where I can think, relax and make art without the distraction of the giant mess that was my studio when I started this project.

In total:

  • 5 full garbage/recycle bins
  • 7 days of cleaning, sorting, keeping/tossing, moving, painting, resorting
  • 3 gallons of paint
  • 7 bottles of wine (I think)
  • Roughly $1,400 in furniture, storage, etc.
  • A couple of dozen Advil for sore muscles
  • A place to create - priceless!!
And I still have the weekend....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

So Refreshing!

It is so darn refreshing to watch a presidential press conference where my leader is articulate and thoughtful all the while respectful of opposing opinions while still being confident. I know we are in tough times right now but I feel so much more confident that we can make it through the tough times with someone like Barack at the helm. (Note: The photo above is not mine - it is an official White House photo - no photographer name listed.)

In other news, today started out at Lux with Vyn (why fit into my work pants when I go back to the office next week??), then off to Ikea for 3 hours of studio planning and selection of the right solutions for the space. I ended up getting quite the deal on my desk. I knew I wanted a frosted glass desk for the studio. We looked at the various glass desk options and then happened to find ourselves in the dining area where they had the perfect glass dining table that would work for my desk and for $150 less than the desk (it was on sale for $99!!! Score!!!).

After we came home and dropped off the desk, we headed out to one of our favorite Mexican food places, Ritos. It is a little hole-in-the-wall place that has no indoor seating and is located in a tough part of town. They only serve burritos (bean and cheese and green or red sauce beef) and they are soooooooooo delicious!!! So we sat out on the patio and ate our very late lunch/early dinner (we call it Linner) and enjoyed the mild Spring day. We then headed to Costco for dog and cat food as well as some organic baby carrots for my furry friends at the farm. We stopped at the farm on the way home and fed the critters the entire 5 pound bag of carrots - they are so fun to feed that we couldn't stop until the carrots were all gone!

Not a very exciting day to blog about but such a great day to be in!

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Question for the Universe...

Dear Universe,

Can you tell me why, when I spend a fortune on a gorgeous kitty condo like the one pictured below, which sits empty in my living room,

...the little fuzzy darlings insist on sleeping in Costco boxes in the garage?

It is quite the mystery to me and something I would love to get to the bottom of in this lifetime.



Thank God for Garbage Bins.

I spent a good part of the afternoon in the studio. Here is what I learned:

1. I've made a lot of bad art.

2. There are a lot of bad hair photos of me in various stages of life (the photo above is not one of them). Even though I think I have destroyed them all, each time I go through the photos they all seem to crop up. I think this is because I think about destroying them but then I decide against it and put said photos back in the box and close the lid.

3. It is okay to destroy one's bad art after the experiment is complete (see #1 above). I know some may disagree with me here. It certainly is a personal decision. For me, being able to move on from the experiments to something more fruitful that results from the experiments is key. I find bad art hanging around like a 10 pound weight around my neck. It weighs me down. If I had to look at every bad piece of art I have ever made over and over, it will probably kill all future hope for something good.

4. Keep the good art! Yes!!! This maintains the momentum and hope to keep me experimenting and making not-so-good art. Good art will come!

5. Although there are a lot of bad hair pictures of me around, I do not destroy these (see #2 above). For me, photos are like a story line of our lives. While every picture comes with a set of memories and emotions (some good, some not), I find them extremely important in helping me to remember where I have come from.

6. The cavernous bad art cave, a.k.a. my studio, is slowly being emptied out (another full garbage bin and recycle bin and 2 more boxes of donations today). I can see the floor of the entire room, I can see the back of the closet, I can see the walls. I can definitely see the possibilities for a new space with new energy forming in front of me. (Side Note: I can NOT see the top of my dining room table as all the desired art supplies that will be staying with me are sitting on it....but that is another story).

7. I truly do have the best husband ever! He has been so helpful, so patient and so understanding through this gigantic mess of mine. Today he patched holes in the studio walls so I could start painting these walls tomorrow. All the while, encouraging me and listening to me talk about all my bad art as I marched it outside to it's new home. He even offered to go to Ikea (gasp!!!) on his vacation. I must have done something incredibly noble and good in a past life to deserve such a wonderful and kind man in this life.

In other news, I was thinking about how important some places are in my life. Places that play such a key role in the things that occur in my life that I can not imagine what life would be like without these places. One of these places is our coffee hang out, Lux, which I mentioned yesterday. For me, Lux is a reprieve, a treat in my week, a ritual, a place to go with my old friends and to meet new one's. It a place where I have reconnected with people I thought I had lost contact with. It is a place to sit with my hubby and talk through ambitious plans and to dream, all while getting hopped up on caffeine and sugar. Life is good with places like this in our lives. The owner of Lux, Jeff, is so incredible and works tirelessly to create a space for community to come together. The people that Jeff employs are so kind and energetic and happy to be there. Thank God for people like this on the Earth that are so completely committed to bringing something special into being for the rest of us to experience.

What places are special in your life?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Gone Fishing....Be Back Soon.

Well, the studio remodel project is slow going. It is, after all, vacation and Spring has sprung in the Southwest. There are birds to be watched, flowers blooming everywhere in the garden and fresh herbs and veggies to be eaten fresh from our very own plot and cooked in deliciously simple dishes enjoyed at sunset sitting with my wonderful husband in the garden (whew, huge run on sentence there). Thank goodness my dear man is a lover of dirt - I have certainly reaped all the wonderful benefits of his passion for all things growing and green! I think it is true that it tastes better when it comes from your garden and you get to pick it. I got a lesson the other night in how to properly cut spinach and herbs so that new growth can emerge. Pretty damn cool!

Today we ventured to the best nursery in town to meander through the fields of plants. We happened upon a huge selection of roses in every color, size and variety imaginable. Such a coincidence (if there is such a thing....) as yesterday we were on a garden tour in town and ran into the queen of roses. She gave us lots of information and advice on when, how and what to plant. Roses seem to me, brown thumb that I am, elusive and complex. The Rose Queen simplified it tremendously and we are now planning our rose garden that will sit outside the studio window (lucky me!). Back at the nursery, we were able to see all the plants in full bloom and take photos so we know which bare root roses to ask for when we are ready to plant. The Rose Queen strongly advised us to plant bare roots in January and not fall into the tantalizing trap of planting blooming roses now as it is better for the rose bushes that way (must be a desert thing). We will take her advice and spend the summer and fall planning the space and prepping the soil for all our exotically named varieties (Falling in Love, St. Patrick's, Marilyn Monroe, Pink Passion, Bob Hope....and on the list goes).

Oh, and we had to go feed the farm animals down the street at our local urban farm. There is something to be said for living in an older, urban area where there are no home owner associations, rules and regs, etc. etc. etc. We live in an older area of town, some houses lovely and unique with character, others not so much. The wonderful thing is that we have urban farms within 5 minutes of our home in most any direction. Our favorite is Marlette Farm (no website) which is run by a local family that has been in the area for several generations. They have a large piece of property right in the middle of town which they turned into a rescue for goats, sheep, pot bellied pigs, minature horses, burros, chickens, geese and the occasional duck. They support the farm with their own funds (no non-profit status....we know because we asked to make a donation at one point). There is nothing more therapeutic and grounding for me than to go feed the lovelies some fresh carrots from the farmers market. It is such a positive experience for so many people who bring their children on their evening walk to the farm to bond with animals and give them treats. I will get some pictures of our four-legged friends on our next visit so you can meet them.

While avoiding the home project (it really is too nice to be indoors!) I have been enjoying longer, more frequent visits to our favorite coffee place in town, Lux. It truly is the best place to hang out, drink coffee roasted fresh on site and eat high-calorie, homemade goodies that are too good to pass up (even if my pants are getting tight...ahem.)

My goal is to get the studio mostly done before I return to work in a week. I did spend two full days sorting, sifting, recycling, tossing and testing ink pens for good working order (all 300 of them). I have to admit I was more than a little overwhelmed by all the supplies I had collected in the last 5 years (the last time I went through everything). In keeping with my desire to simplify, I am keeping those things which still speak to me and donating the rest. I made a nice big box of art goodies for our next door neighbor's kids - all 3 of which are aspiring artists in their own regard. The rest will go to donations or, in some cases, in the recycle bin. This leaves me with a dining room table, breakfast bar and a couple of shelves worth of stuff. Still a lot to work with and still things that truly speak to my creativity.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Layers and Layers

I took the photo above on a trip to NYC last Spring. I loved the layers upon layers visible in one little frame (spotted glass, reflections of the street behind me, the contents of the store within). Rich, layered and complicated to me now when I look at it again. Shortly after this picture was taken I began a new phase in my life where my goal was to simplify. It started with a complete overhaul of our home which we have lived in for over 11 years now. We had built up such a complicated web of stuff - art, books, gadgets, knick-knacks, boxes upon boxes of "stuff". We spent the better part of last summer refining our collections - keep this, donate that. There was stuff we came across we forgot we had and, when we came upon it, we realized we had no issue in letting it go to the next lucky recipient.

The process continued with simplifying our living space. We painted in cool tones, lightness and openness our goal. We donated most of our older furniture and in it's place bought a few beautiful and simple pieces that were comfortable but that did not overwhelm the eye. We have made it through each room in the house now except for the art studio. Frankly, I have been avoiding it.

On the one hand, I feel such complete gratitude at having a space in my home that I can dedicate to the pursuit of art. A space that is my own, to do with as I please. On the other hand, the space has become a giant storage shed for everything that does not have a place elsewhere in the house. Pictures removed from walls while being painted and never put back up. Hundreds of dollars worth of papers that I could not resist buying because of their beauty but have not used (because I can not get to them behind the mess of stuff). Boxes, drawers and bins of pens, pencils, crayons, oil pastels, paints, inks, rubber stamps, glues. Pounds and pounds of magazines and fabrics! It's ridiculous and a little bit (okay, a lot!!) embarrassing. The volume and mess of it all prevents me from getting to a place where I am able to do anything creative. When I walk in the room right now I gasp, turn around and walk out, shutting the door behind me so I do not have to look at it.

I had gone through the studio 3 or 4 months ago and, no joke, donated 8 very large boxes of art supplies (paints, papers, crayons, rubber stamps, inks, stickers, canvases, clay and more!) to Free Arts for Abused Children. What I describe in the paragraph above is what was left over after the 8 boxes of stuff made their way to their new home!!!

So, this week, my vacation goal is this: Create a studio space that I love being in. A space that has just the right amount of art supplies to work with but not so many that I can't think clearly (or create). Let go of the things that need to move on to their new place in the universe.

I will post progress pics later this week as I make some headway on what is now referred to as the Black Hole! Wish me luck!

Monday, March 16, 2009

10 Things

1. I found my soul mate.

2. I have six kids. They all have tails.

3. I am in the second week of a three week vacation. I have never had three weeks off of work since I started working. I like it!

4. I can sit in the garden for hours and watch the birds, butterflies and bugs do their thing. No, I don't get bored.

5. After living by the ocean my entire life (California coast and two islands - Guam and Oahu) I moved to the desert 15 years ago. I miss the smell of salt water.

6. I could eat Thai food every day.

7. I practice being in the moment a lot. It is challenging for me most times because I like to plan for tomorrow or re-evaluate yesterday.

8. I am going to turn in the cable box this week because I want to watch less tv and make more art.

9. I have a tattoo. I want to get more.

10. I have a huge book addiction. I am in recovery.

Testing, testing 1...2....3.....

A new year and time for a new adventure. Here goes nothing.....