Thursday, October 20, 2011

Magic of the Pen

With French easels...there are these "wing nuts" and after setting up and taking down 3 or 4 times a day, those little nuts become 4 letter words!! Betty jean Bullips

After ten days of battling the elements in the Florida heat, a veteran studio painter was asked 'so how do you like painting outdoors?' The response was, 'I realize now that I prefer painting in Plein-Air Conditioning!' Mary Erickson

One of the techniques taught in art classes is "en plein-air," --painting out of doors. I have read books, magazines and listened to professors on the subject and the consensus is that plein air is the very best way to paint landscapes, the studio being a poor second.  Working from photographs is frowned on. Plein-air painters are considered the elite of landscape artists.  I read an ariticle about an artist who specialized in snow scenes; she painted en plein-air.  She sat cross-legged in the back of her station wagon painting while looking out the car window.  If it was too cold, she'd take photos to use as a reference to paint in the studio. Huh? Why not do that to start with? 

Plein-air was a tool developed by the French Impressionists in the 1870s and 80s to create fresh bright paintings, different then anything seen before.  However the French Academy of Art, with their rigid standards in painting, rejected the Impressionists' work because it didn't fit into the traditional norm of art of that time. The outlaw painters broke all the rules and only much later were they were applauded for standing up to the establishment and creating a new form of art. However the modern establishment teaches the Impressionists techniques as rules in creating art and rules were what the original en plein-air painters stood against.

While some people enjoy painting outside--I wish them great joy in it, I have problems with it.  One-- I am too slow.  I can't rush the painting and the light changes and my leg is not fun.  Two-- The landscape out doors has too much information for me to process.  If I look at a tree, I have a hard time deciding what shapes to include or which to leave out to suggest the tree. Three-- After being led to feel guilty for working from photos, there is nothing wrong with using reference photographs.  Certainly I don't want to COPY the picture.  A good artist can take elements from several photos and put them together in a composition.  

Essence of a Tree
An art teacher once told me that the key to being an artist is to train yourself to see.  So I look.  I study a tree or a barn or clouds--I never stop looking, whether riding in a car or waiting somewhere--and somehow this magical gift from God comes out when I need it.  When I start moving the pen around on the paper out came this tree--not any particular tree but the essence of what I have seen, and I did it inside while listening to people speak at a meeting. Who needs plein-air?  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Confessions of a Wife of a Redneck...5. The Food we et.

You might be a redneck if.. have filled your deer-tag on the golf course.
..the main course at potluck dinners is road kill. think that potted meat on a saltine is an hors d'ouerve.

Once someone gave us a bunch of canned chicken and the kids wouldn't touch it until my husband told them it was buffalo meat; then they scarfed it right down--eating it right out of the can.  You see my kids were used to eating weird things.

Like I said in earlier posts, I was a city girl--raised in the North and everything I had eaten came from the grocery store or garden or Grandpa's farm.  The first odd thing I notice about my Hubby was that he put peanuts in his Coke.  That didn't make sense to me.  If ya want peanuts why fix it soes ya have to chase 'em around with yur tongue?  And he called 'em goobers.  I don't know about you, when I thought of goobers, peanuts didn't come to mind. It went down hill from there.  I don't just mean things like head cheese and grits and okra and squirrels and coons and sech... it's worse 'n that.

The first odd food I encountered was frog legs.  Southern men love them and go off in the night with lanterns and frog gigs hunting big croakers, and all that can be used is the back legs. I had a policy-- I didn't eat anything that I couldn't stand to look at when it was alive.. and that purdy much leaves out reptiles.  The first thing I noticed 'bout frog legs is that they jumped around in the skillet when my mother-in-law was trying to cook them and that sealed the deal for me-- not only would I not eat them things but there was no way I could be talked into cooking them.  One Sunday Hubby and the boys went out and shot a big mess of legs and for the first time I was sweet-talked into cooking them.  Hubby told me that he cut the tendons so that they wouldn't jump in the hot fat.  I knew he was lyin' to me but I agreed anyway.  I had a big ole mound of them on a plate covered with flour and remembered I hadn't salted them.  So I liberally sprinkled salt on the mound.  One thing I've learned bout frog legs--the nervous system dies 5 days after the frog does. Once the salt hit the meat the legs started quivering-- the whole plate of them was moving.  I woke up my napping husband and told him they were going over the back fence in about 60 seconds and if he wanted them, he'd better rescue them.  He did and he cooked them his own self.

Then there was the Rocky Mountain oysters.  Not really oysters.  In West Texas they called them "calf fries."  When I worked at the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo I had to explain to customers what they were-- well... when you turn a bull into steer, you have to, uh, remove something.  And the oysters, which aren't really oysters, is a bi-product. The women would turn pale and the men would order them.  When Hubby explained calf fries to me I was outraged!  I wouldn't touch them things!!  I was taunted with them by Hubby and the in-laws.  What kind of family did I marry into anyway?  Then one day I visited my mother-in-law when she was frying some up and there the calf fries lay all hot and golden brown on a paper towel.  I don't know what came over me... I ate one.  Oh my, them things are good! I became an immediate fan.  Anybody know where I can get any in Northeastern Washington? It is the only weird food I'll eat. Nope won't eat the tongue, or heart, or brains but..

Then there was the road kill.  Armadillo.  When we lived in East Texas, Hubby wanted one but they are a protected species in Texas.  We'd be camping and hear rustling in the bushes and he'd take off hoping to catch him an armadillo but those suckers are fast and he always came back out of breath and empty-handed.  Late one night him and his buddy were out drinking and on the way home they hit an armadillo with the car.  He was so excited--he finally got him one.  The two of them spent the rest of the night in the shed drinking and singing while they cleaned it.  By daylight he was frying some up for breakfast (by then he knew that his wife wasn't gonna cook anything suspicious.) "Get up kids," he shouted, "we're havin' us some armadiller for breakfast!"  The kids got up, like I said they were used to eating weird things.

(I know that I used improper grammar and spelling, but this is a redneck story and my writing teacher said you can do that as long as it is on purpose. ;o)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Confessions of a Wife of a Redneck...4. The language we spoke..

You might be a redneck have moved your refrigerator and the grass underneath it has turned yellow or if taking a dip has nothing to do with water or if your hood and one door is a different color then the rest of your car. 

I first noticed  Hubby and I had a communication problem not long after we were married.  We had just moved into our apartment and I was busy scrubbing cabinets; he came into the kitchen and asked me something. I thought he said, "how much do you like doing that?"  Oh, I thought, he wants to help!!  I told him I didn't like it very much at all.  "No," he said, " I asked you how much you lacked."  As in how much did I have left to do.  He wanted me to finish up so we could do something fun.  And he weren't gonna help.

He married a Yankee city girl and immediately set about tryin' to change her and he started with the language she spoke.  I annoyed him to no end how I pronounced words, and he would correct me.  Like the word "pecan."   I pronounced it like it is written, "PEE'-can."  That was wrong, he told me, "that sounds like yur wantin' to pee in a can," he says, "It's pronounced, 'puh-KAHN.'"  I still pronounce it that way to this day--I was a very obedient wife.  His correction was especially harsh when I asked him if he wanted Vienna  sausages.  I said, Vee-EH-na --isn't that the way they say it in Austria?  No, he insisted, it is Vie-EEN-nees. "Fetch me up some vie-EEN-nees," he'd say. What? there is no "s" on the end of Vienna!!  I still refuse to use that pronunciation-- he had a very stubborn wife.

So in this post I giving some words I learned during my transformation into a Southern girl. This is an incomplete list and I am sure I will think of more later.  Enjoy.

Y'all.  Y'all can be singular or plural.  I could be addressing every one in the room or only one person and use the same word.  "All y'all" is definitely plural jus soes there's no confusion that I am speaking to everyone.  It is part of my Southern up-bringing I refused to let go of when we moved North.

Plum. It's not referring to fruit or something in alignment.  It means complete. "We done run plum outa butter."  Oh yeah, notice the use of "done."

Tickled-- Pleased or happy.  "I'm plum tickled ya bought some butter."

Sugah.  Sumpthin ya put in yur iced tea or plant on someone's lips.  "Honey, give me some sugah."

Munts - noun. A calendar division. "Bubba got six munts in the slammer."

Over Yonder.  Not here but in the general direction of there.

Whistle britches - noun.  Someone who is not highly thought of. A doofus.  "Where's ole whistle britches?"   The origin came from when boys wore corduroy pants which was totally not cool.

Britches. -noun- the garment with two legs that ya wear on the lower part of yur anatomy.  This word applies to all kinds, including diapers.  "Honey, Sissy needs some clean britches."

Horny toad...'s not what you think. It's a reptile --a horned lizard.

Them there.. "Gimme some a them there grits."

Fetch-- go get and it is not referring to the dog.

Idinit: (Isn't it?) Term employed by genteel Southerners to avoid saying "Ain't."

Ast--to inquire.
Dayam--a cuss word.
Whup-- beat up or spank.
Squarsh -- a vegetable or "to flatten."
Yaller-- a color.
Fixin'  --about to.
I reckon -- I suppose.
Rile--make angry.
Tarnation-- a nice way to say damnation.
Tore-up --hurtin or sad.
Druthers --preference.
Varmint-- a pesky critter.
Hankerin-- yearning.
Heap-- a lot.
Liked to --almost.
Piddlin' --insignificant.
A toad stabber, or Arkansas toothpick-- a knife.
Bowed up --bristling for a fight.
Burnin' daylight --sleeping in way to late.  ( I do that a lot. :o)
A tank -- a pond usually man-made for watering cattle.  And it is usually stocked with catfish to keep the miskeeters down.

I'll let y'all figger these out:  everwhichaway, cattywampus, good ole boy, hunkeydory, likety split, sho'nuff.

Law enforcement officer: PO-leece, Johnny Law, Polecat, shuruff.  These are the polite ones

I hope this post plum tickled ya.  Y'all come back, ya hear?"

Locust Trees
I have been writing in my blog since December 2009, uploading pictures mostly of my art and old pix of my family. One day recently I went to blogger and found that all the photos are gone. I have been so busy that I haven't had time to deal with it, but last night I researched it. It seems that all the photos on all the Google sites --of which blogger is one-- are stored at a site called... picasaweb. If you delete any photos on any site, they are removed from picasweb. If they are removed from picasweb, they are removed from all the sites. I can't remembr clearly but it seems that when I signed up for Google+ a bunch of my photos appeared in there and I didn't want them on that site so I deleted them. Who knows what really happened but a warning box saying that they would be deleted out of blogger would have been nice! Like how I was supposed to know that????!!! I didn't even know that the photos were even stored on  picasweb!!! Now this whole blog is hard to understand without the pictures since I discuss the dang things in my posts and the only way to get them back is to upload them one at a time--on 158 posts! Most of the photos are stored on disc, and since my computer crashed, I haven't gotten them all installed on the reformatted PC.  But I have started.  If you read a post with a black picture on it check back later to see the photo that goes with it.

The current medium I am using in this busy summer is pen and ink.  I carry a small sketch pad and pens with me everywhere and doodle where I have to be in meetings, campgrounds or where ever I might be sitting.  I am in a tree phase.  This picture was drawn on a camping trip.  I will be back with a new post soon.  Stay tuned...

Friday, May 27, 2011

Confessions of a Wife of a Redneck...3. Birdseed

You might be a redneck if the taillight covers of your car are made of red tape... or if people hear your car a long time before they see it... or if you think the movie Mechanic is about somebody who repairs cars...
Once when I did stand-up comedy, someone asked me how I did it.  Two things are important to work as a comedian:  you have to be able to laugh at yourself and not worry about what others think.  The one person in my life I had the hardest time making laugh was my husband--he'd laugh at others but not me. I'd make myself crazy trying to impress him with my wit. I imagine that on judgment day, God will explain to him one of his sins,  "I gave you a funny wife and you didn't laugh."  He never laughed at this story, but I am telling it anyway.

Hubby often worked as a mechanic.  When he worked all day under a hood of a vehicle, he hated to work on his own car, or more specifically he hated to work on mine. At one time I had an Audi.  I loved that car, but Hubby always put off repairing it.  He said he didn't work on "furrin" cars.  My youngest son and I did minor repairs using the owner's manual as a guide and we did a pretty good job.  It developed a problem we couldn't fix, though, the headlights wouldn't shut off; even with the engine off and the key pulled the lights stayed on; the fuse box was a mess.  I temporarily solved the problem, by raising the hood and unplugging the lights, every time I shut the engine off-- of course I'd have to plug them back in when I got ready to go again.  Eventually, I left only the high beams plugged in and turned the dimmer switch to low to turn off the lights.  I thought I was pretty clever.

When I was in college Hubby had an auto repair shop and he sold used cars on the side, he often drove home one of the vehicles for sale and I never knew what kind of car I'd find parked in the drive.  

One night I drove the Audi home and unplugged the lights--that was before I figured out the trick with the high beams--and went into the house.  My oldest son was sitting on the floor with the parakeet crawling all over him.  "Look Mama, this bird is acting weird."  It was odd since the bird was standoffish and didn't like to be touched. I suddenly realized that I had forgotten to feed it and I had been out of birdseed for a couple of days.  I couldn't even remember the last time the parakeet had eaten.  I felt like a murderer. I freaked out and ran out the door intent on getting to the store before it closed at 10.  I didn't want to bother with opening the hood and plugging in the lights of the Audi so I jumped in the car Hubby had driven home from work and raced to the store.  I parked in the parking lot and hurried inside just before the store closed.  There were a lot of people in line and I impatiently waited clutching the box of bird seed, praying the critter wouldn't keel over before I got home.

I finally got checked out and the manager opened the door to let me out.  This store was not in a good neighborhood and I had just stood in line with some scary looking people.  I went straight to the car, got in and put the key in the ignition and tried to turn it but it wouldn't work.  As I was frantically trying to start the car--with a starving bird on my mind--I glanced over to the passenger seat.  "Funny," I thought, "I don't remember that junk there."  Then I turned and looked to the left and saw the car I had driven parked 4 spaces away.  I don't even know how I'd made that mistake because I had driven a dark green car to the store and and the one I was trying to start was white.  I felt like a burglar caught red-handed in the bank vault.  And the owner of the car was one of those scary looking people still inside the store.

I jumped out and ran over to the green car, relieved that I hadn't got caught in a stranger's  car,  and as I was getting in,  I realized I had left the bird seed on the seat of the white car.  If the store had been opened I would have just bought another box and left the owner of the white car to wonder where the bird seed came from, but I had no other choice. I wasn't going home without food for the parakeet.  I hurried over to the white car,  jerked opened the door, grabbed the box of seed and ran back to the green car driving out of that neighborhood like a bat outta hell.  Sometimes things that happen to me won't seem funny until years later, but that night, once I was sure no one was in hot pursuit, I laughed all the way home.  The parakeet survived-- I can't remember if we gave it away or if the cat ate it but I assure you I never forgot to feed it again.

 Source of redneck jokes:


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Confessions of a Wife of a Redneck.... 2. The Hunt

You might be a redneck if you have the local taxidermist's number on speed dial.  Or you've ever hit a deer with your car... deliberately. Or your mother has "ammo" on her Christmas list.

It was a tradition in the family I married into that only men hunted.  A woman could go fishing--as long as she didn't out-fish the men.  I would like to say that I could fish--I especially liked to catch wide-mouth bass.  But this story is about hunting--I'll talk about fishing later.

Many times during the hunting season when the family gathered at my in-laws the scene was always the same.  All morning the men hunted while the wimen folk prepared dinner.  Dinner in the South is the noon meal--the evening meal is supper.  There were no shortcuts allowed, we cooked from scratch--Southern fried chicken, biscuits, gravy and mashed potatoes we peeled--not from a box; we were allowed to get our green beans out of a can, though.  Then the men would come in all tired and hungry from their hard day at hunting and devour the meal in 5 minutes flat and leave the table and go relax in front of the TV.  They didn't help clear the table or even rinse their plates and put them in the sink; after all that was wimen's work.  So us gals spent the rest of the afternoon clearing up the meal and cleaning the game the men had so thoughtfully provided.

I thought that was just wrong!  I was the first city girl to marry into the family and they thought my ideas were a tad progressive.  I wanted to go hunting.  I thought it would be better'n being stuck in the kitchen on a Sunday.  

I pestered my husband until he bought me a gun.  It was a 410 Shotgun; he thought the light gun would be easier for me to handle and I bristled because he thought a girl couldn't shoot a 20 gauge.  I burned off a lota ammo annihilating stationary targets.  I could hold the gun against my shoulder so it wouldn't kick, sight down the barrel and fire without closing my eyes. I was ready to HUNT.  Hubby took me hunting trips to the barn to shoot pigeons.  Then he insisted I clean them, cook them and taste the meat.  I think it's an acquired taste.

Then the day arrived that he took me hunting with his brothers.  My father-in-law wouldn't had stood for it but he wasn't there that day.  We were hunting quail.  If my husband really loved me I think he could have chosen larger game for me on my first expedition--like a mule deer... with a target painted on its head ...previously shot with a tranquilizer gun.  But, nooo! it had to be quail--little bitty birds hardly worth bothering with.  I was gonna show 'em, though.  I determined that I would hunt so well they would realize that women could be good hunters and I'd be able to go all the time.  I would liberate the Simmons women from the bondage of the kitchen!

Hubby showed how to find quail and sent me off to hunt on my own.  I  tiptoed through the underbrush like Elmer Fudd. I'd approach the thicket where I knew quail were hiding--I knew they were in there, I knew it, I knew it! I'd get closer and closer tightly gripping my four-ten shotgun and ..whoosh!  The birds would explode from the thicket, scaring the daylights out of me and by the time I recovered from my heart attack they were gone.  This happened over and over-- even knowing they were gonna do it, it still startled me so bad I couldn't get a shot off.

When it was time to head back to the cars, I dejectedly trailed behind the men. I never even fired my gun. Then the worse thing possible happened--I tripped; with a loaded shotgun in my arm and my brother-in-law right in front of me! As I fell I turned the barrel down so the gun wasn't aimed at Hubby's brother; he was a nice guy and I didn't want to kill him.  Why I was so quick thinking then but not when I flushed the quail, I don't know. When I fell I rammed the gun into the ground driving dirt two inches up into the barrel. It was God's grace that it didn't go off.  Right then I had what 12 Step Recovery calls a "spiritual awakening."  I knew I had no business running around with a gun and decided never to go hunting again.  I no doubt kept hunters everywhere safe.  The game was never in any danger.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Confessions of a Wife of a Redneck.... 1. Culture Shock

You might be a red neck if you mowed your grass and found your car.  Or if you've ever filled your deer tag on the golf course.  Or if you've ever bar-b-qued Spam on the grill...

I was a city girl.  I'd never been hunting and I watched my dad clean a fish --once; it grossed me out.  My only experience with a farm was at my grandparents' place where I played.  I never mucked out the stalls, milked cows, bucked hay or gathered eggs--Grandpa did all that. I didn't even ride the horses or the tractor.  We lived a few blocks from the grocery store and gas station and I lived near a wonderful downtown area where I could seriously shop or go to the movies. If I wanted to talk to a friend I just called her on the phone or walked the short distance to her home.  I was definitely a city girl.

Then I  married a redneck.  Oh, I didn't know he was one-- I'd never even heard of the term; I thought he was a cute charming ex-sailor who was going to be my prince. In time, being a redneck has become a status symbol--  a fella wearing a t-shirt with the sleeves cut off, jeans with a Skoal ring on his back pocket, and of course cowboy boots. He drives a bad-assed pick-up truck with a couple of guns in a rack on the back winder.  And somewhere on his person, pick-up or in his home you'll find a Rebel flag.  Always country music is playing somewhere in the background, like Charlie Daniel's The South's Gonna do it Again.  His lady calls herself a redneck woman. I never used that moniker in reference to myself.  I was raised better'n that.  I was always quick to point out that I was married into that family, not born into it.

I grew up around the forests and waterways of the beautiful Pacific Northwest, but I let  myself be talked into moving to West Texas and Oklahoma.  The culture shock was beyond belief and I was extremely homesick.  The Plains were flat and treeless; the fields of grain moved with the incessant wind like waves on a green or gold sea. It took me years to get used to the wind.  The family we initially stayed with didn't have indoor plumbing and for the first time in my life I had to use an outhouse.  Hubby scared me with tales of rattlesnakes making trips out to the privy terrifying. After hearing  Hubby's tales of twisters, storms frightened me as much as the snakes.  We we lived in Tornado Alley where the storms are violent--wind, hail, nasty lookin' green clouds-- it was like nothing I had ever seen before. Almost every home had a storm cellar, often inhabited by snakes and spiders, so when we heard a storm warning, I'd have to decide which would be worse-- encountering a tornado or a snake.  It was a tough choice but in the end, I'd go into the cellar; I'd stand smack dab in the middle of the room not touching the dirt walls, checking out every crevice.  While I never really got over my fear of snakes--I still have it, it diminished to manageable levels and I eventually grew to love storms.

We lived in the country with no phone and the mailman became my best friend as he was my contact with the outside world---him and the one or two TV channels brought in by an antenna.  Going to town for groceries was the high social event of the week.  However I didn't have to do much farming.  I flatly refused to learn to milk a cow--cattle scared me-- and the one time I tried to drive a tractor was a fiasco.  Hubby was moving equipment from one field to another and thought it would be helpful if I could drive one of the tractors.  It was his way to rattle off directions and expect the listener to understand immediately what he said.  He fired off  instructions on how to operate the tractor, telling me to follow him and he strode off to the equipment he was driving.  I did OK until we arrived at our destination and I realized I didn't quite get the part about stopping it. There was no brake pedal, I had to pull a lever or  some thingy, but which one?  I went barreling through the gate screaming "I can't stop it!" He chased me down and jumped on the tractor to stop it. He did not think it was funny.  That was my last tractor driving lesson, which was probably a pretty smart move on my part. 

I married into a family of hunters, and I learned how to clean game and fish against my will.  A redneck rule-- and there were lots of those-- was that if you bagged it you cleaned it... unless you were married, then you made your wife do it.  And she had to cook it too.  Not long after I had my first baby, we had just settled into a farm house and I was happy being the little housewife.  One afternoon Hubby opened the back door and tossed a couple of cottontail rabbits on the floor that he'd shot from the tractor.  He said, "You need to clean these and cook them for supper," and he hurried back to his plowing.  I approached the rabbits and one of them moved.  I jumped back.  He expected me to clean it, but did I have to murder it too?  And rabbits didn't have the decency to closed their eyes when they died, and how was I to be expected to dress out something that was looking at me?  That night Hubby found the rabbits right where he left them and he was not pleased--he had his mouth set on fried rabbit.  I didn't get away with that behavior very long.  I was soon skinning, gutting and scaling with the best of them.  I never got used to it, though, especially not the big soft brown eyes of the cottontails.  

I know I wrote "winder," and a few other words--trust me, the spell checker was all over them with red squiggly lines, but the language is appropriate to redneck stories.  I have much more to tell.. stay tuned...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Part of a Wolf Pack--Repost

The wolf, which hunts in a pack, has a greater chance of survival than the lion, which hunts alone. Christian Lous Lange

I was thinking today about a wolf I once knew. No, not the two legged kind, though I have known those too. I mean a real wolf.

I know that wolves have a bad reputation, maybe justly so, but I became friends with one. In a small town in N E Washington, we moved into a house that was next door to a man who owned a wolf--there was someone in the area who raised and sold wolf pups. This wolf was no longer a cute pup but a grown animal who was chained in the neighbor's yard. 

The guy told me that the wolf's name was Buddy and not to approach him.

I will never forget my first encounter with the animal-- there he was standing in a classic wolf pose with his head lowered, looking at me with those incredible eyes which seemed to look into my soul. Then he snarled at me. That is when I started talking to him. Every time I was in the yard, I spoke to him and he started to settle down. He spent his time pacing as far as his chain would let him or sitting on top of his dog house, staring off towards the woods that were only a block away. I thought he lived a cruel existence; since wolves are pack animals, he must of been lonely. I got permission from the neighbor to feed him table scraps and started sharing our meals with him. After that Buddy was always happy to see me. I still never approached him--I couldn't imagine petting him like a dog; I respected his wildness. As I went about my business in the yard, carrying on one-sided conversations with him, I enjoyed knowing he was there.

One day, while working in the garden, he broke his chain and got loose. He didn't run for the forest down the street as you'd think he would, or run anywhere at all, except over to me. He raced around me like a frisky pup and then snatched up a glove and ran off with it dancing about out of my reach. I told him to bring it back but he dropped it and raced in to grab a plastic pot and took off with it, then he dropped it and came back to where I was standing to steal something else. For the first time ever Buddy looked happy; he was playing with me and I realized then that he had made me part of his pack, and he wanted to be with me more than he wanted to be free in the woods. His owner noticed him loose and caught him and our game was over, but I was deeply moved by this animal, and sad that he had to go back on the chain. He seemed to become distraught after that and started howling at night, and the neighbors complained, so Buddy went to a new home, but I still wonder about him; I hope he was happier. 

I would like to draw a picture of a wolf. Someday, I hope to show you a picture of a wolf titled Buddy.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Smashing an Artist's Block

 When the world says, "Give up,"
Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."
 Consider the postage stamp:  its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there.  ~Josh Billings

A friend told me that she hasn't found any recent posts in my blog, suggesting that I have had a lot to write about lately in regards to my art.  She is right.  The purpose of this blog when I began it, was to overcome a gigantic artist's block so I could start painting again.  Getting from there to here has been a long process involving much more than just writing about my struggles in a blog.  

I sit here at the keyboard inhaling the scent of oil paint; I seemed to have wrestled down that block and beaten it to a pulp.  How I managed that is to think about, talk about and pray about ---art. The unused drawing table--indeed the whole studio-- had become a dumping ground so I first had to clear out the room because clutter creates chaos in my mind. I involved friends in conversation about art, posted comments about it on Face Book  and other sites; I exposed myself and my work to new situations and new people. I stretched myself beyond the limits of my little studio and I took risks.

A friend brought me an application to the art show at the local college and on the day of the show he helped me unload and set up; he cheered me on and told anybody who'd listen about the exhibit.  I met a lot of people in those two days and I sold 3 pieces at modest prices.  In talking with other artists, I learned about a special show at the local gallery "Everything Blooming" and  I took four paintings to exhibit there. The painting of the goldfinch was placed in the front window glowing  for all passing by to see.  I also donated a couple of pictures to fundraisers and was surprised to find at one event that someone had placed next to the painting a copy of a post from this blog as a bio.  My pictures always bring wonderful comments which makes me pretty happy but I know the ability to create comes from the Creator of the universe and I am deeply grateful for that gift, and I give Him the credit every chance I get.

So now I have two paintings underway and had decided to record process of them in Face Book to keep myself accountable.  I am excited to be back on track again and I am planning on a bigger and better studio when I get another house.  This is what I am supposed to be doing.  This is what makes me happy.

I want to thank those who have been part of this recovery process, by reading, following and commenting on this blog, by checking out my other sites and by loving and encouraging me.  This is your victory too.

Monday, February 21, 2011

How to spot an Internet Dating scammer.

Sometimes I get messages from men in Facebook or another site I am on and they tell me that my profile is very interesting but don't refer to anything specific. I had to teach myself what to watch out for and I can practically smell those sleezeballs.

I met a couple of men in My Space and learned a lot from them as they were dating scammers who were intent on making me fall in love with them and send them money.  The first one actually asked me for money, which he didn't get, and I found out the second guy was fraudulent, when gave he me enough information to Google him.  In fact I found his profile on a scammer watch dog web site where I discovered that he had many aliases and email addresses. I did a lot of research to arm myself against these people.

You may think you are writing to a beautiful woman in Russia or a handsome man in Henderson NV, but the truth is that you are most likely talking to a man in Nigeria, Russia or even in an Asian country. If a picture is used, it is stolen from the Internet. The profiles are fiction.  Dating scams aren't the only kind of messages you can get.  I have received messages and friend requests from teenagers living in Africa or Eastern Europe who want friends to "practice their English with,"  which seems innocent enough, until some (fake) catastrophe hits the family and the kid starts asking for money.

There is no dating site, or social networking site that is completely free of scammers. So those using the sites have to be wary. However the sites do work hard to eliminate them and the good news is that scammers are fairly easy to spot.  Following is a list of things to watch out for.

~The scammers usually say they are new to online dating and in their profile says they have just joined the site and have no friends yet.  I don't even trust those who  have few friends, or those who only have friends of he opposite sex.
~99% of the scammers have a Yahoo email and chat.  They don't want to talk to you in My Space, Face Book or the dating sites even though each has it's own chat system, but they want to get you to talking in Yahoo chat because the sites are on the lookout for scammers and the phonies are at risk of having their account shut down.  I would say this is the biggest read flag.
~Their email address often reflects their pursuit of relationships, like "richeartlover," "lookinforlove," and "rickhasit4u".
~The big red flag is they write as if English is not their first language.  Odd use of words, and backward phrases. Scammers don't talk quite as well in chat as they might in email, relying on copying and pasting when they can.
~Scammers seem to have trouble with grammar, capitalization and punctuation.  Most all the emails have sentences with no spaces between the periods and the next word.  The spelling might be OK as they have spell checkers, but they mix up words like, "there, their and they're."  Of course I know they're a lot of people are not used to typing and don't it perfectly, but this still can be an indication something is not right.
~Their stories are similar. They generally say they are working overseas as contractors, engineers, or in construction. That is where the scoundrels live, so they need a plausible reason for using an international phone number or for you to send money out of country.  In regards to male scammers, they almost always say they are widowed, or divorced because of the infidelity of the wife.  They nearly all have just one child--usually a daughter who is usually around age 19. If he says he has a son the boy is generally 11 or 12 years old. They often have a tragic story --one man wrote he lost his family in Katrina, another said his son was killed in the Fort Hood shootings.  Loved ones lost in car crashes are scammers favorite stories.  The intent is to tug on their victims heartstrings.
~They are lavish with their compliments on your profile picture and use sweet terms of endearment. They say things like,  "I got attracted to you," "I am blushing already." or "God must be missing an angel in heaven because I am looking at her right now." Cutie, pretty, gorgeous, beautiful, sweetie, baby, and so on.  These men will say they like your profile but make no comment about anything specific, since they don't bother to read the profile
~They usually fall in love quickly, immediately talking about relationship and marriage.
~All of the scammers make similar comments like they are all reading from the same manual-- things that women are supposed to want to hear like-- they like to walk on the beach, watch a sunset, look at the stars, sit in front of the fire, hold hands, cuddle, dance, cook (oh yeah--bring it on!).   Or they say they have a sense of humor. Or they are sincere, caring and honest.  They often say they don't want someone who plays games. (sheesh-what are THEY doing?)  "Age is only a number" is a favorite.
~They make big mistakes.  Sometimes they give their weight and height in the metric system even though they say were born and live in the US. And one guy's profile said he didn't drink, but he had a picture of himself with a beer in his hand.
~They all say they are Christian or God fearing.  Once they realize you are religious too, they pepper their conversations with reference to the Lord.  This is the sad part.
~They use fraudulent Photos.  Photos are stolen from the internet.  There are all types --snapshots and professional pictures from modeling agencies.  Since the scammer is often African, he (or she) has to have an American photo to convince you he is really from Henderson NV, or where ever.

The world is full of nice people, but also the unscrupulous, so we have to be as the Scripture admonishes: wise as serpents and gentle as doves.

Friday, February 11, 2011


You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.  —Wayne Gretzky

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. —Will Rogers

A man looked at my house who is an investor.  While he never actually made an offer, his agent is in the same office as mine and they were discussing what he wanted to offer.  When my agent asked me what I thought, I told him I couldn't go for it.  After two price reductions a 14% cut was too much.  I was miffed at the buyer, that he thought I should take that kind of loss so he can make money.  The truth is that it is my house and I can do what I want with it, and I have the right to make sure I can afford a decent home with the proceeds of the sale of this one.

I have settled for less so many times in my life while others who are bolder and aggressive get more than their fair share.  I have let my needs be subordinate to the wishes of others.  This has been a pattern of behavior for me, which I am shedding like a ragged old garment.

I was thinking about an old boy friend today.  I have remembered him fondly, saying that he never mistreated me.  I suddenly wondered why that was good enough for me ?  Simply that he never mistreated me?  There was so much more I wanted from that relationship that I didn't get and while he didn't abuse me, he did mistreat me.  He didn't want to date me exclusively, and he decided when we would see each other.  His mistreatment took the form of unavailability and control.  And I accepted it.  I wanted to be with him so much we met on his terms.  I was settling for less than the best in a relationship.  I have done that in my marriage and other kinds of relationships.  I have made others my priority when I was only an option to them.

Now I am single again, and being alone is hard.  Valentine's day is excruciating without a sweetheart, but maybe I will always be single, because in my new life I don't intend settle for seconds and thirds.  Not on the price of my home, not in my personal life, not in friendships, and certainly not in any potential relationship with a man.

Still, I have great hope--that I will receive the best in everything I desire in my life, simply because I won't accept anything less.

The lilies are from my garden.  I can't see them now because they are in frozen ground under the snow but they are there--they come back faithfully every year.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Great Chicken Experiment

Jumping at several small opportunities may get us there more quickly than waiting for one big one to come along. ~Hugh Allen
Opportunity is often difficult to recognize; we usually expect it to beckon us with beepers and billboards.  ~William Arthur Ward

When I think about writing in this blog, I believe I am required to illustrate the post as I have in the past, but can't think of a piece of art I haven't shown before, so I don't write.  It occurred to me tonight that such "shoulds" and "haftas" have always dogged my life; I can be governed by rigid thinking patterns.  Who writes the rules for me anyway?  Moi.
I remember a story about a dog we had named Ginger.  My husband and I bought 5 acres of dirt in western Oklahoma, with  great expectations of it being a nice little farm. I never worked so hard in my whole life with so little results .  We planted a huge garden but it was wrecked by drought and a grasshopper plague; the only thing that survived was okra.  We ate it stewed, fried and pickled.  I hate okra.
We also launched the Great Chicken Experiment.  We decided we were going to raise chickens to butcher and sell.  Actually my husband decided, and I go "oh, OK."  So we had a garage full of baby chicks, which immediately fell prey to raccoons.  Raccoons may look cute but they can be mean when you try to take away their dinner. We put the half-grown hens in the chicken house with a sturdy fence to keep the varmints out and kept the light going all night, but we were still were mysteriously losing chickens, until I discovered owls were flying over the fence into the coop for a midnight snack. I sat up one night with a shotgun scaring the birds off.  The next day we had to modify the pen.  We finally did manage raise some chicks to pullet size and sold some, and ate some, but we didn't come close to breaking even; I hated the chicken business--specially the butchering part.  Chicken don't like to turn loose of their feathers.
Ginger was a wired-haired terrier--a wonderful dog.  That little farm was her personal responsibility and she watched out for the kids, the cats and Ahab the goat. When the goat got into stuff he shouldn't or started pulling clothes off the line, Ginger would alert me with her barking.  Ahab couldn't get away with anything. 
We started letting the surviving chickens out to scratch and at first they didn't know they were free and stayed huddled in the pen.  But when a hen started to venture out, Ginger chased her back in, then another would leave the pen, or two or three, only to be pushed back in by the dog.  Ginger spent a whole day herding chickens until she wore herself out and had to be satisfied with lying on a rise watching over the hens outside the pen.

I am trying to break free of old ideas--rules I have set down for myself in the past that don't have anything to do with reality--just rules. And sometimes I still feel very married and sometimes I let well-meaning people tell me what I "should" do.  I am free, and I am single and I can do what I want.  I know there are owls and raccoons out there. And wolves and sharks. (I have already encountered a few wolves but I came out unscathed and very much wiser. :o) I know I will make mistakes, but there is also freedom for me in the wide open spaces and opportunities if I am not too scared to try.

Writing this blog has been a way of sneaking out of the pen.  In fact, if you google me you will find me.  Not only this blog, but in my Face Book art page, and at Deviant Art.

I have gone dancing--I even danced with a cane before the surgery.  (Dance like nobody's watching...)  And bowling (maybe I should bowl like nobody's watching. :o) And I rode a snowmobile.  I not exactly ready to bungee jump, but I want to be alert to opportunities outside that chicken pen--chances to have fun, try new things and to be creative.  Maybe I'll try karaoke--the dog doesn't howl when I sing. :o)

I actually did find a drawing I haven't posted before.  I titled it Emily's House.  It is the Victoria home of Emily Carr, (1871-1945) a Canadian artist and writer who lived and worked in B. C.  She lived a non-traditional life for a woman of her time; she explored and recorded the world around her.  She made it out of the chicken pen.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Extraneous thought.

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.  ~Hans Hofmann

Eliminate physical clutter. More importantly, eliminate spiritual clutter. ~Terri Guillemets

When I posted art on Deviant, I found that the photos I uploaded were such low resolution, they couldn't be made into prints, so I have been rescanning the pictures at a higher DPI.  Because some of the paintings are larger than the scanner, I could only scan part of the picture.  I discovered that removing the extraneous parts of the painting actually made a  better picture.  I recall that the struggle with some of these paintings wasn't creating the subject, but with filling in the other areas of the composition.  This is something to keep in mind for future works.  Simplify.

The same works for my personal life.  Clutter makes me crazy, but I have been tolerating a lot of it since the death of my husband.  That is because I was spending too much time thinking.  It is like my thoughts were sucking up all my motivation and energy--and confidence. And not much of it was productive thought, either.
One of the signs that I am getting better is clearing out the physical clutter in my home and the clutter in my thoughts. I am feeling more like my old self; the energy and motivation that I thought were forever gone are returning.  I am pleased that I have cleaned the studio of the clutter that accumulated while I was laid up--unused places tend to become dumping grounds.  This week I cleared the drawing table and arranged the supplies and it is ready for me to use.  I am proud of the simple things I have accomplished and now I am ready to go onto greater things.  And maybe this blog will become what it was originally intended--about my journey in art.

The picture is part of a larger painting but it looks complete the way it is.  It is titiled Sunny Day on Cape D.  The light is Cape Disappointment on the Washington State side of mouth of the Columbia River.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Unwritten stories

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.  ~Ana├»s Nin
Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn't wait to get to work in the morning:  I wanted to know what I was going to say.  ~Sharon O'Brien

I just finished a book, Homestead, by Jane Kirkpatrick who wrote about her and husband's adventures in building a ranch in a remote and rugged part of Oregon; the story also chronicles her journey into writing.  Jane writes about women who have made their mark in the Pacific Northwest but her books are written as novels.  These are real women and the stories are based on facts, but the author takes the accounts further into "what might have been."  The lives of these women may be fictionalized, but who knows, maybe it did happen that way.  At any rate I enjoy Ms. Kirkpatrick's books very much.

My grandmother sitting on left. 
I have made family trees for myself and my husband and I am intrigued by the lives of these people I never met but who passed their DNA on to me.  My paternal grandmother, Gertrude, was born in Winnipeg.  Her father, Reinhart, immigrated from Amsterdam and her mother, Elizabeth, from Scotland.  The 1910 census said that she spoke English and he spoke Dutch.  I wonder how they worked that out and how they met? Elizabeth traveled from Scotland with her sister Margaret and records showed that their father was a miner and later loom operator in a mill, harsh occupations in that era.  Elizabeth died  from a blood clot shortly after the birth of her sixth child. Reinhart later married a woman who mistreated her step children.  She refused to learn English and forbade it spoken in her home though the children all learned their mother's language, and even after the family moved to the US.  I wonder what kind of story Jane Kirkpatrick would write about them?

My Dad on his way to school in front of the farmhouse.
Gertrude married Hendrick who was born in Amsterdam where his father, Jurgen, operated a canal boat.  Henry's mother, Jantina, was one of two surviving children out of seven pregnancies.  The other 5 were stillborn.  The Dutch are generous people; they offer their genealogical records--birth, death, marriage, online for free.  They are also meticulous record keepers--the mother's maiden name and the grandparents names, and often the occupation, are on almost every record, making searches easy.  Henry traveled with his parents and siblings, at age 4, to Washington state in 1904. They sailed aboard the Majestic, which was piloted by Captain Edward John Smith who later commanded the Titanic.  The family settled on a farm on Whidbey Island amidst a large Dutch community.  My dad was born on that farm.

Family tradition states that the 17th century Dutch painter, Jan Steen is one of our ancestors.  I have not proved the connection but there is enough information to make it fun to think about.  Could it be where our family talent came from?

Another situation that set me awondering is that my husband's ancestors and the ones on my mother's side, who came to the New World about the same time in the early 1600's, lived near each other in Connecticut and on Long Island. I lay awake at night speculating that these men might have met and wondering what they thought of each other.  I found a document that states one of my ancestors was actually hired by the brother of one my husband's ancestors to construct a parsonage on Long Island. How exciting is that?

My mother's ancestor, Daniel Kellogg is one of the founder's of Norwalk CT.  It is said that he was a very tall man, but peaceable. One story relates that when a couple of drinkers were fighting, that he grab them by their collars and knocked their heads together, calming them down right quick!!

There are so many stories that stimulate my imagination, civil war soldiers --on both sides, journeys across the Atlantic, a witch trial, love stories, western adventurers... yes, I wonder...