More Painting, but Mostly Indoors

The guys finished trimming out the shipping containers today. There were a few clouds in the sky, which helped.

Vlassic and Lee approved.

Looks good! Yep!

I, too, painted. Kathleen set up a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Foundation today, sponsored by our personal assistance service, Hearts, Homes, and Hands. For a donation (small) participants got to paint either a seashell or a dolphin.

Paint and refreshments!

This was the kind of stuff we’d hoped to do before the pandemic. There was a great mix of clients, caregivers and their families in attendance. All the paintings were fun and individualistic. I enjoyed doing mine, with all those techniques I learned painting my weird turtles.

Some of the art. Fun was had.

Kathleen says we’re going to do more of these in the future. I love to have fun for a good cause. I’m proud of the team at HHH. Our new admin, Toni, is doing great. I’m enjoying being the silent partner and cheering our company on. It’s three years old now. Time flies when a virus attacks.

Meanwhile, I’m using up that leftover yarn.

I spent most of today working like crazy, which helped me not think about some family health scares. When not working, I crocheted. I think Drew understands that it was just too hot on this summer solstice to work together. I’ll try to get up early to work with him!

An Artist I’m Not

After spilling my guts about no longer feeling free yesterday (and receiving some wonderful support and feedback), I was grateful to have something to do last night to take my mind off The State of the World. It involved “art” in a loose sense.

From a distance it appears I did art.

I’d arranged with Sarah the Bartender to go try our hand at Painting with a Twist, because I’d never been invited to go when I lived in Austin and never thought to arrange to go myself.

You can bring wine.

Sara’s girlfriend Kara came along with us as we endeavored to create paintings of turtles. With minimal instruction from Kayla, the teacher, who focused most on making a taco with your paper towel after cleaning brushes, we had a lot of fun.

Ready for the fun

I learned back roads to get places, too. At least they were impressed I knew where some stuff was. Mostly I listened to them be cute young adults my kids’ age.

Cheers-ing

I enjoyed painting, but was way better at the background than the actual turtles. We got to draw freehand, so it was an advanced class, I guess. It’s fun mixing colors.

Obviously freehand. One of us Drew the turtles going the wrong way and insisted on giving them tails. Me.

The time and wine flowed quickly. Thus my turtles could use some work. But it was sure fun. Maybe I can do this again, like putt putt! I won’t do it here, because the place is closing. But apparently the fancy Lowe’s grocery store with a bar in it will soon host wine nights. Kayla is going there, she hopes.

Now I just have to get the thing home. Hmm.

These were growing wild on yesterday’s walk.

Yesterday I also met with Tom the super sales guy to learn how to set up to rent out one of our timeshare weeks on Vrbo or some such stuff. If he’s telling the truth, that would pay my maintenance fees. I feel like such a capitalist elite, even if I am a second-class piece of chattel to so many.

Yes I have sunscreen.

Sculpture! Birds! Nature Surprises! Beauty?

Today I got to have all the funs, to celebrate an actual day off, and have some emotional recharge. And of course I had to do some deep thinking. I’m on a roll with wonder and wondering.

Nature Surprise

You may remember that Lee forgot to pack any shirts for the trip. The t- shirts he got were fine. But. He got one long-sleeved shirt at Kohl’s when we stopped at one on the way, and it turned out to be weird and too big. So, he declared we would go to Tractor Supply and get more Lee-esque shirts. Why? It got chilly overnight!

Fern time. Sensitive.

Imagine my happiness when I saw that next to the store was a beautiful wooded area with a stream running through it. It was sort of like what I imagine in my mind when I think of a southern American woods. There were oaks, sweet gums, ash, and holly trees, with ferns and palmettos underneath. There were jack-in-the-pulpits and lizard’s tail. Vines included muscadine grape, poison ivy, and Virginia Creeper. I was in heaven. Plus I got to buy a windbreaker.

As if that wasn’t enough, we were actually in our way to our favorite spot, Brookgreen Gardens. It’s always great, but we lucked out this time. For one, the butterfly exhibit at the zoo has recently re-opened. We got to see some butterflies we’d never seen before. And the flowers weren’t bad, either.

A malachite butterfly.

While waiting in line, I met a fellow horse owner and traded photos, of course. But dang, look at these beauties! I don’t know what they are, though.

Of course, I had to get bird photos, too. I didn’t take many of the captive birds, but the ducks were so pretty I had to. At least I got some pretty wild birds, too.

I’ve saved the best for last. Just yesterday, a new exhibit opened. It’s sculpture by two married people, Babette Bloch and Marc Mellon.

I got the book, too.

Mellon has had his work at Texas A&M (to impress the locals) at the Bush Presidential Library. He also designed an official medal for President Obama. His main work has been statues of female athletes. He makes them look strong as well as beautiful. He also did a horse. I liked that.

My heart melted when I started looking at Bloch’s work. She started out in bronze, but then moved on to making art with laser-cut steel. It’s lots of flowers. As you know, I am fond of flowers.

Large herons, outdoors

I had two favorites. One is a phoenix. The base of the sculpture is based on Bloch’s face!

My second favorite was a wall with dozens of flowers in bowls with color behind them. Each bowl was someone’s family heirloom. It moved me to tears to see the old things become new art.

All her work was interesting and different from anything I ever saw. The burnished parts were mesmerizing. Here’s some more of her work. Lee just loved the dog, of course.

To top it all off, I went back in at the end of our visit, and I got to tell Bloch how much her work and the stories behind it moved me. That felt great. My heart is full. What a great day.

My Deep Thiughts

Being at Brookgreen and enjoying the art made me wonder something. Do humans always seek beauty? Have they always done so? Are there things that just naturally please humans?

Are sunsets thought beautiful in all cultures? If so, why?

I seem to remember that symmetry is often found beautiful, like in people’s faces. And there’s that golden ratio that’s supposedly pleasing.

Any thoughts? I’m going to do some research. I guess I shouldn’t take time off from work and chores. I start wondering.

A Last Trip Up

It was really cold last night, but warmed up with bright sun, so I decided to talk a walk at lunchtime. I wanted to do the path on the other side of the Blue River from downtown Breck, just to see what I’d see. It was a pleasant walk, and I took pictures of statues that the town has put up, as well as views of the river.

That one must have been fun to make.

The problem was that all the smells from the backs of restaurants made me hungry. After checking to see if the distillery shipped (nope), I looked for a place to eat. I ended up in the Thai/Japanese place and treated myself to some sushi.

It was quite a rustic Thai/Japanese place, no doubt because it had to fit in with the town theme, which is that everything is a mountain lodge or a mine.

Blue River

The lunch was fun. I watched dogs as I ate, since I always try to sit by a window when I’m alone. There are certainly more huskies per person than anywhere I ever have been before. At least they are in their element! They must enjoy the weather.

Happy cowboys

I then carried on, like someone’s wayward son, and just kept walking until I realized I was at the end of the historical part of town. When I turned back, it was clear that I had also passed the gondola. Should I go up? It would make my lunch hour very long…but when would I have another chance?

Sack race.

So, up I went. Perhaps it was not a great idea to go on a swinging high-rise conveyance after a large meal of fish. I did end up getting a bit gondola-sick going down, but the views were worth it! I still like that wetland area that the gondola goes over the best. The mountain views are second, and the woods (still stubbornly free of animals that I could see) are third.

I stumbled out of the gondola car at the end, and decided I needed a break, so I went in a place called Cashmere and Chocolates. Living in Texas, I do NOT need any cashmere items, but being me, I could always use some chocolates. I got one that looked like the Earth!

It contained a smoky tequila truffle.

I survived the walk back, happy to have hit my exercise goal again (I’d have to raise it if I lived here, because my heart rate finally speeds up at this altitude). I’m glad I allowed myself to be spontaneous and eat nice food and see the scenery again. There’s plenty of time to finish work now!

(I wrote this post during a particularly lengthy update process on my work computer that failed, so I had to do it twice.)

A Bit of Digital Culture

What a treat today was! Anita bought us tickets to Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience months ago, because we’d read about the exhibit when it was in other cities. Today was the day of our appointment, so I drove in to Austin and worked until time to go over to the Circuit of the Americas place where they do car races, concerts, and such.

The exhibit is under a big tent

At first, all I could think about was how easy the exhibit must be to transport, since almost all parts of it fold flat, other than the projectors. Eventually I got more immersed in the immersive experience.

There were lots of fun mirrors.

The exhibit is well designed, like a grownup Disney World, where you’re in a queue but don’t realize it. I enjoyed all the quotes over extreme close-ups of paintings, as well as the fun empty picture frames.

The second part of the exhibit was a room with bits of paintings projected on the walls and floor. You could lie down in it, watch it, or stand in the light. There was theorizing that drugs might enhance the experience. Anita didn’t need drugs.

This needs to be made into a large print

The patterns were so much fun!

The final part of the exhibit was a big immersive room with paintings and words and beautiful music. I really liked the patterns on the floor.

Whee!

The paintings weren’t static. They transitioned in cool ways and there were very well implemented digital effects that made birds fly, water ripple, and clouds scut through the sky.

Most fun were the self portraits of Van Gogh. Every so often, they’d blink! And we slowly realized that his pipe’s embers were burning and very subtle smoke came out. It was not cheesy; it was cool. But, we were too busy watching to get photos, so here’s a beautiful illusion of cherry petals flowing.

The big room’s program lasted 35 minutes, so we ended up being there an hour. We both declared it unusual, but well worth going. Plus, there was a little humor.

Ha ha. Clever.

I had to drive back to the ranch in bad rain and did one of my meetings from the car, but that was a small price to pay for getting to see ART in a pleasant, uncrowded environment.

Book Report: Red—The History of a Color

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I talked earlier about how fond I am of the color red and how much I enjoyed the session on cochineal, a red dye, last week. So, naturally, the first of the series of color books by Michel Pastoureau I just got that I’m going to report on is Red: The History of a Color.

Beautiful book!

The quality of this book is drool-worthy. Each book in the series is hefty and dense. The paper for the pages is so thick, and the printing is sublime. The illustrations are so interesting that I’ll go back to this book over and over.

Example of one of the illustrative images. This is by Jan Van Eyk.

While I did get lost in the photos, I also learned a lot about how red figured throughout European history. It was the most important color up until the last few centuries, when blue took over. Boo, blue (I guess I’ll be more on Team Blue when I read the blue volume).

My kitchen is Team Red, too.

The author teaches us a lot about how color has been perceived by humans, which I learned from earlier color books, but the focus on red and how it was perceived earlier than colors other than black and white made the history pretty memorable. it turns out names for many colors show up quite late, as the chapter on pink showed.

Pink and red at my house. Also, roosters were revered because of their bright red combs!

I enjoyed learning a lot about how people dressed through European history, and not just the royalty and rich people. Peasants always liked red!

Sapphire points out that her breed had particularly red combs, and eyes.

Any book in this series would be a nice gift for an artsy or crafty friend. A high-quality book on your favorite color that’s also a work of art in itself—what’s not to love? And red’s the color of love!

Delays Are Minor Disappointments – Still Having Fun

Because I think I annoyed my family by reacting with a sad-face emoji to the news that the inspection of the new office building won’t be until Monday, let me say that I am ever-so-cheerful about how things are going, and am enjoying doing the things I can do. I also extra appreciative of how hard everyone is working and how helpful we’ve all been to each other.

That said, I’m still in the dungeon working away at the ole Agile Transformation and such. On lunch break, though, I went over to the shiny new office (which sure has a lot of spider webs to get rid of), and got to watch Chris put my desk together, so it’s all one piece now.

We still need to add the glass cover (very important to protect the delicate crackle job) and the keyboard drawer, for my typing pleasure. But, that can be done this weekend or Monday. I’ll use the small piece of glass on my current desk until the custom piece is made.

Look, it’s art.

And while he had the drill in hand, Chris was kind enough to hang my art on the walls. That really helps the place look more finished! I have the cool glass hanging lamp I want installed, but it needs more chain, then all that’s left is the stained glass and shelves. These things take time! I’m honestly not trying to get it all done at once. I can work now, once we get the approval, and that’s what dounts.

I seem to have put most of the stuff in this one corner. Hmm.

It’s just nice to have something that makes me happy to focus on, if you know what I mean!

I’m glad my painting of Carlton climbing the fence fit in above the coat rack. I won’t have the view of Lee’s door, once the glass goes in the “window” there.

There’s lots to look forward to the rest of today. Trixie’s coming, so my hope is that Apache gets a clean bill of health, as well as Fiona. Hee haw!

Go Far Enough and You’ll Eventually Hit Water

Boom! I hit water yesterday, a long way from Texas. How convenient that the UU Lent word for today is water! Lee and I are both water signs, Pisces, and this year for our birthdays we got each other a trip to the ocean, carefully planned to be before the onslaught of spring breaks and such.

Kendall and Jan in the neighbor’s forsythia bushes.

We had a nice visit with my cousins (Jan and daughter, Kendall) and my stepmother (Florence). Jan’s the cousin on my dad’s side who’s kept in touch with me the most. I think I’m too “out there” for most of the rest of them. She made us a nice breakfast and then she and Kendall and I took an excellent walk around her neighborhood, which was blooming with daffodils, but no redbuds yet. We even got to pet some horses!

You can’t quite tell, but the paint is sticking her tongue out.

After that, we had a short but good visit with Florence, who’s doing well for 84. She had forgotten we were coming, or had the wrong day, so we didn’t interfere with her day for too long. She’s so cute in small doses, and was so happy to show us her latest paintings. She kept telling me to approach them straight, or they won’t come out right (once a professional photographer, always a professional photographer.

Where Is That Water?

Here’s the waterfall at the rest stop.

We got to see some new scenery on the way to Myrtle Beach from High Point, which was fun. Lots of small towns and pine trees. Yesterday I shared a picture of the rest stop with a living roof. That was so interesting. The view was amazing, too, and it had water!

We had an interesting time finding the place we are staying, because the GPS routed us to 1600 Ocean Blvd in NORTH Myrtle Beach, whereas our actual place was in regular Myrtle Beach. The check-in lady says that if we had been coming from the south, there would have been a third wrong way we could have been sent in the next town south. Great choice in naming roads. This place is trying to get their location fixed on mapping software, but it ain’t easy.

Water makes me happy.

But we are here now, way up almost on the top of a big resort building, with a nice partial beach view. That’s okay, because the land view has a ferris wheel and other interesting things to look at.

Night view of Myrtle Beach. It’s pretty, but I’d prefer a less urban vacation spot. I think the next one will be like that.

Lee and I took a nice walk on the beach, enjoyed a tropical cocktail and mostly just chilled last night. We are having a very nice time, and it’s so nice to not have to rush around for a few days. This is a perfect birthday present for hermits.

And, don’t worry, we will not be attending large gatherings of any sort. I think we are going to go to State Parks, mostly, though I do want to do a small amount of shopping. Small, really.

As for Water

Water means a lot to me, as a symbol as well as bringing life to us all. The way water moves has always fascinated me, which may be why I love that arroyo on the ranch so much. I am amazed that the spring springs and sends water down that little stream. And there is nothing more beautiful than an area after an ice storm, all sparkly and dangerous at the same time. And water brings us clouds!

Look! Clouds and water!

I spent more than a usual person’s time looking at maps of river systems, and love knowing where the water on my property goes on its way to the ocean. What a journey!

Here’s the Instagram of the day, in case you were curious.

The one thing I asked Lee for in the quest for our permanent “retirement” home (yes, I realize we have failed at retiring) was some kind of water. I was so happy to have the cattle tanks, utilitarian as they are, and frontage on Walker’s Creek, even though Ralph said it was the worst land on the ranch, because it floods. Well, I hadn’t planned to build a subdivision there, and keeping it natural is just fine with me.

I had to put the photo up in a larger format, so sorry for the duplication. Here is water in all its forms. There are some icy clouds way up there by the moon. Photo by Lee.

Water ties us all together, too. The water in us has been in many other people, in many other places. When they say we are all one, they aren’t kidding.

Decorative Arts: I Have a Nature Theme

This is my newest plant-themed plate, by Cameron artist Pamela Neeley. It’s hand-shaped, and she used real leaves to make the image.

I went into a deep dive yesterday into one artist whose work graces my walls. Lula Moser is not the only talented individual who makes me happy every time I look at an object. And, of course, there are things by people I don’t know personally, but I’m surprised at how many of the objects in both my homes are by family members, friends, or acquaintances.

Today I share a few from the Austin house, like the one above, which I just got last month. I just had to have this plate by my friend Pamela Neeley, because it helps my house look like an extension of the woods, which must be the subliminal theme of both houses.

This piece by Renice is on really lovely hand-made paper, too. It also holds up my very long pothos plant stems.

The beautiful print of violets was done by my former friend Renice at the time of my first wedding in 1990. It’s followed me around and been the base for many room color schemes since then.

The Pod

While it’s a little abstract, this pod by one of my women’s group members from the UU church in Urbana, Illinois, still fits with the nature theme. I am so happy I have not managed to break it. I love the contrast between the rough bottom and smooth top.

My non-Christmas quilt, which reminds me of vines. The white fabrics are really nice in this one.

I can’t forget fiber arts! Our guest room includes a lovely quilt made for me by Alice Sessions and her late mother, Jackie van Voris. I wanted a red and green quilt that didn’t look Christmasy and that fit with all my plant art. This one fit the bill perfectly (I won it in a services auction; what a prize!)

The top is a counted cross stitch of a pine tree quilt block. I made it over 20 years ago. Below is my reminder to make music, from Carolyn.

And at the bottom of the above image is one non-nature theme treasure, made by Carolyn Dower, which I always keep in my bedroom to remind me to keep my music in my heart. The bell makes the music real. If anyone wonders whether I appreciate hand-made gifts, the answer is a firm yes.

And as for me

I made this one in the 90s. The guys REALLY wanted to make an octagonal frame.

Most of my non-knitted projects (I used to knit A LOT) have flowers in them, like my beautiful petit point project, which is even in a frame hand-made by my ex and a good friend. It occurs to me that art is not just in my house for beauty; it’s also there to keep the memories of the people I have loved in my life close to me and alive.

I did these in grad school, from a kit. The butterfly is in cotton, and the rest is wool.

I guess I’m not much of a person who picks art and accessories to match the house! The house has to conform to my art. And it’s not clutter. It’s beloved treasure. So there.

Farewell, from a sweet handmade bird Anita gave me. I can’t remember the artist’s name, but it makes me happy, too.

Mysterious Flower Lady

I think I have too many reference materials. But I tell you what, I like that I’ve become so curious about the things I run across that I look into lots and lots of details. Today I’ll share what I learned about a humble painter of ceramics. And hey, if you know anyone from Gainesville, Florida, ask them about her.

These plates are in my bathroom. All were my mother’s. She was a big fan of purple. The three on the bottom were painted by Lula E. Moser.

I grew up in a house full of china with flowers all over it. My mother had a really impressive collection of decorative plates, cups, and saucers displayed throughout our home, and many sets of china, which my sister and I split. I can’t believe my brother and I didn’t break things, but I think we had a deep fear of touching breakable objects instilled in us from an early age.

I’ve been looking at t his lady, trying to figure out what she’s looking at, my whole life. She is French, from K&G Luneville, I’m guessing early twentieth century.

Mom had a strong set of likes, and those likes were very much like her embroidery themes: flowers, leaves, and more flowers. She had ONE plate with a person on it, this haunting blue scene of an 1890s style woman looking off in the distance. Of course I still have that. The blue lady originally belonged to my grandmother, so I know it’s old, but my limited French has stymied my attempt to pin down dates based on the back of the plate.

Yet another of Mom’s flower items covered with pansies. This was from the “random cup and saucer collection” that I still have more of at my dad’s old house.

So, where did Mom get all those flowery items?

The mysterious Lula E. Moser

Poorly lit, but this is another of the many pansy dishes my mother bought from Lula E. Moser.

My mother really liked hand-painted china (ceramics, really). She especially adored the work of one of her friends in Gainesville, Lula Moser. I can remember driving to her house more than once to get ceramics and painted china from her. I had a white bunny with blue eyes for years, which I think is the only non-flower item they ever got.

Now that I look at this, I see the artist signed it L.E. Moser. Hmm.

Mom had many, many plates with painted pansies or violets on them. The photos I’m sharing are NOT all of them by any means. As you may have guessed, I got most of them, because I happen to also like pansies and violets. This has led to all of my houses having something to do with flowers in their theme, since that’s what I have and I love it. When I see all those Lula E. Moser plates, I think of Mom, just like with the embroidery she did.

The street (Boulevard) where Lula Moser lived much of her life. It also happens to be where I hung out a LOT as a little kid.

I always wondered who Lula Moser was and why they were always visiting. So, who was Lula E. Moser? Good question. She was not a famous artist, but she sure loved painting ceramics. She was of my grandmother’s generation (born on my birthday, March 5, in 1903, in Ohio), and my sister tells me she lived in one of those lovely old houses across from the duck pond (also known as my favorite place on this here earth). Canova also said Lula was a beautiful woman with very white hair.

This map shows you many things. Like that Lula lived between my house and my grandmother’s house. ALSO! The park I played in as a kid is now named after TOM PETTY!

From my sleuthing I discovered she was briefly married to a man named Frank Parker (an Austrian, originally named Frank Joseph Paukert), who was a television camera operator way back in the 50s. I actually found this info on his naturalization form when he became a US citizen.

Most of her life, though, Lula lived alone in a big house, painting ceramics and talking to my grandmother and mother. My sister says that on most visits, they came home with a new object.

This is her parents’ headstone. Sadly, there are no photos of her headstone, or of her, that I can find.

Lula died in 1989 and is buried in Ohio, where apparently the rest of her family lived. Why did she stay in Gainesville all those years, alone? A woman of mystery. Maybe I’ll name the woman on my blue plate Lula.

More on my nature art tomorrow. This got long.

PS: Want to know more about the beauty of old Gainesville, Florida? Check out the B&B that used to be the “haunted hippie house” across the street from my grandmother.

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