Thursday, June 30, 2016

Out of Africa

My staycations, vicarious adventures, are richly enhanced by gifts from afar, thanks to my friend Claire.  The above, found on her recent Botswana trip, are beautiful work by any standards.  As a card maker of many decades, I appreciate the design, techniques and will likely borrow the idea of small beads of glued brightness sprinkled here and there.  A cottage industry, even a very large cottage, is a fine thing.  Gorgeous promotion for the artists involved and for their country.  I have no plan to send these anywhere.

I discovered that kalahari sandworks has a Facebook presence, and also found reference to their products at this site.  Finding a connection to shop for their products is a work in progress.  I believe if we are determined and patient, we will prevail.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Word of the Week - 121

Word of the Week:  TITLES

Coming up with a title for any sort of work presents an opportunity for great creative mischief.  A few days before the UK and its choice filled the news, wall-to-wall, I had been thinking of a British gift for wry understatement.  My classic example is Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey mystery, "The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club."  Unpleasantness, indeed.  Murder.

A theme of titles also recalls another British source, this concerning a long-term lack of clarity, for The Who song is called "Baba O'Riley" and not "Teenage Wasteland."

Another favorite, since it arrived on the scene, is "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned  to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb."  On the slight chance you've never seen it, here is the trailer.

It is summer, time for reading, once a time for going to the movies where the air conditioning was free.  Perhaps it is still a time for that.  All of which means titles.  Titles, titles and more titles.  "To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street" or "Nancy's Mysterious Letter" or "Big Wednesday."  For years I read southern writers during the summer, heat always being a component of southern fiction.  Eudora Welty's "Delta Wedding," Carson McCullers' "The Member of the Wedding" and other works, Truman Capote's "Other Voices, Other Rooms," Flannery O'Connor's "Wise Blood."  Whether it is true or not, I remember summer as the time of seeing westerns and the occasional epic (for the era), like "Giant." 

Making lists of things to read, things to watch is a perfectly valid summer activity.  So, too, is writing a list of gifts to make for Christmas and then starting to make them.  But, she whined, there is so much time and so many other things to do.  In December, just remember using that as your excuse.  Meanwhile, I'll be over here trying to find a version of "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers."  And taking a nap.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Word of the Week - 120

Big Sur Coast, photo by Vern Clevenger.
Word of the Week:  NEPENTHE

The start of no other season transports me to earlier times in the same manner as summer.  As Los Angeles began to swelter on Saturday, my thoughts drifted to an A&W Root Beer drive-in, oasis in Paso Robles on the vacation road back to the coast.  On Sunday, when our little town was 103 at about 12:30, I recalled Nepenthe's deck above the Big Sur cliffs, our first Ambrosia Burgers with pink lemonade.  I also remembered our dad telling us the meaning of "nepenthe," an ancient remedy for banishing grief, sorrow or trouble by inducing forgetfulness.

I have not gone to check my archives but suspect I write nearly the same post every year.  Summer's hold on me is that tenacious and I always capitulate to its fierce, mad strength.  Not to mention its ability to cloud memory.

So much to contain, all those summers, how is there room for other matters?  Once I allow myself, there are multiple reveries over the light, the clothes, the movies, family vacations, Girl Scout adventures, crafts, weekly treks to the library, our series of wading pools and, best of all, free time, its own source of forgetfulness of the homework and autumn yard chores not too far distant.  Until then, my sister and brother and I could count on at least one family trip that took us eventually to the sea and included restaurant meals.  Pancake houses, Fisherman's Wharf, small town diners, even unfamiliar grocery stores that sold much better stuff than ours did.

More than a time of year, summer is a state of mind, one to which I happily return when prompted by changes subtle or brash.  There may yet be days of our June gloom (which does not require banishing), the cooler nights, less fire-prone conditions.  I suppose each of the seasons has a trickster aspect, leading us to expect its best and frequently getting conditions far different.  While there are odes to every time of the year, I think summer has the edge on endurable.  We can talk about rock and roll another time.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Word of the Week - 119

Word of the Week:  LEMONY

Minor technical difficulties kept me from sharing videos or photos on the blog for a brief time, that time now concluded.  Hurrah!

The lemony goodness of my birthday Hobonichi Techo, gift from Lisa.

Some washi tapes archived in the lemony Hobonichi Techo.
Dispeller of shadows, a brilliant light source also warms us.  It serves to remind that, against its sheer power, what lurks in dark corners will not be able to hide for long.  As a color, the visual of sunshine yellow hints at its familiar taste, sweet and tangy, a favorite of the tongue.  My most enduring memories of that specific citrus are the once popular giant lemon stands in the San Joaquin Valley of my childhood, usually "all you can drink" cups of ice cold, fresh lemonade, an oasis vision on a summer afternoon before cars had air conditioning.

My thanks to this site for a contemporary giant lemon.
The word "zing" often appears in the company of lemony.  Rightfully so.  The unmistakable color nearly fizzes with electricity, snapping us awake, bringing us back from doldrums or worse like creatures in Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory.  I have been keeping track of everyday highlights in my Hobonichi, procrastinated about designing pages for public viewing until I knew I would be able to share them.  Actually, truthfully, I simply procrastinated.  Enough of that, she muttered.  I am called to planning by mellow yellow.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Before we were interrupted...

In February (as I remember it) Lisa Hoffman released her first sticker collection, still available in limited supply in her etsy shop.  She now offers Collection #2, soon to be followed by pre-orders for original clear stamps,  teasing samples of which have appeared in her Facebook and Instagram posts.

Also in February, artist friend Lynne Perrella invited a handful of us to create mail art showcasing Lisa's stickers.  Here are most of the front and back of my envelope to Lynne.  The larger, watercolored images are from Lisa's collection.
Coffee mug, cup and saucer, pastry on plate, fashionista, by Lisa Hoffman.
Typewriter, pencil, bird, sofa, butterfly, sundress girl from Lisa's shop (link above).
Quick, before the premier set is sold out, hasten to the link.  Be the first on your block.  Designed for and beloved by the planner community, Lisa stickers obviously bring rich, full life to otherwise dull snail mail.  They, singly or collectively, will also help you create uniquely charming greeting cards.  A versatile product from an exceptional talent.  Hurry.  Hurry.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Word of the Week - 118

"As long as the world is turning and spinning, we're gonna get dizzy and we're gonna make mistakes."
- Mel Brooks, The 2,000Year Old Man

Word(s) of the Week: TINY STITCHES, BABY STEPS

Seeing samples of very small embroidery stitches by artists on Facebook, it seemed such a wise approach to a complex, lengthy task.  Teensy.  Wee.  Such a sharp and slender needle, such a fine thread.  We are held together without our stuffing starting to leak by delicate, intentional work of hand and eye and heart.  I will, I swear, regardless of the years and decades I have done it otherwise, take whatever time it requires to steward meaningful aspects of myself and my wild, precious life.  Even with excruciating caution, one gets dizzy and makes mistakes.

I no longer believe that quantity is the equal of quality.  I have attended with unblinking focus the handwork of artists shown in documentaries about the great fashion houses.  I am slow and can just, just, be present for one next indicated thing at a time, one bead, one stitch. When my mind begins to run away with - or from - me, I reel it back in and take up where I was before becoming lost.  Regardless of what many try to sell us, this is not a contest, not with others and not with ourselves.  Actions with no quantifiable product may be the best possible use of time.  That I can sift and sort through envelopes, stacks of text and cover-weight papers in rainbow shades, quiets my mind, seals out unhelpful chatter, builds clarity.  That colors lift my spirits and, I have no doubt, strengthen my immune system makes such a practice medicinal.  Were I a consultant with a roster of patients, I would suggest it for healing potential.

Once we become truly quiet, I imagine John Muir among the highest branches of a Yosemite pine, we are able to hear, if not necessarily interpret, what we are trying so fervently to tell ourselves.  If your message is to speed up, use big and loopy stitches, well, you have to heed that.  More likely, though, it is the opposite.  Our lives are not improved by doing at least two things at a time.  It may seem virtuous, the very model of the Puritan ethic, and your noisesome mind will affirm it.  Yet I know I am so much smarter in silence than I am in hubbub.  Slow, small, quiet, deliberate.  Patience, the voices murmurs, more will be revealed.