Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Spoolz: New Tangle Pattern

I was looking at my Christmas tree (or what remains of it after the force which is Hurricane Cooper) and noticed an ornament made out of sewing thread spools. I thought it might make a good tangle.

I see lots of potential with this one! I hope you enjoy it! If you use it, please drop a link in my comments so I can see your creativity!

Friday, December 06, 2013

Cooper and The Christmas Tree

I can't believe it's been a month since I wrote an entry. Life has been going one hundred miles an hour and things slide. I'll have to be better about updating in 2014. Can you believe it's just around the corner?

We put up the Christmas tree last weekend. This is really an outside decoration. I put it up inside for the first time 5 years ago as a kind of joke when I didn't have the spirit or inclination to go get a real tree. I kind of liked it because it's clean and simple yet cheery and you can see all of the ornaments.  But when I posted this picture on Facebook when we first put it up, it was met with resounding snickers and name calling. The 'Charlie Brown Christmas Tree' was referenced several times. 
After dark I took another picture to try and convince  folks that it was better lit up. Let's just say people were still not convinced. 

But once the ornaments are all on, it 'lights up like a Christmas tree' I think. We really like it. There hasn't been a tree up in a couple of years so it was fun to dig out the ornaments. Almost every one is handmade and has a memory of the maker attached to it. 

Why, since we're in the Christmas spirit this year, didn't we go out and get a real tree? This is why...

This is Cooper the Christmas Destroying Cat. He doesn't confine his destroying to just Christmas, however. In the upper right of this picture, you can see  the bones and pelt of a zebra he took down and ate just before this photo was taken.  He's relatively calm when he's sleeping off a big feed. But then, once he's had a nap (which are way too short-lived, lemme tell ya)...

He becomes Devil Cat. You may notice that there are no decorations on the bottom third of the tree. He pickey-pawed them off one-by-one and chawed on 'em so we put them away. And  that tree skirt he's crouching on , contemplating which ornament to try for next, was-moments before this pic was taken-thoroughly soaked  in a magical, 'Spray-This-On-Your-Stuff-To-Repel-Your-Cat' elixir. Works like a charm? I want my money back!

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Wallpaper on a Spaceship and Monkey Anesthetization

A lot of people have asked me about my 'artistic process'.  How do I come up with the ideas to draw?  I myself so as to not be rude of course. I don't consider myself an artist. I don't have a process. I learned about repetitive drawing by reading about Zentangles online. My process is this: I have a head full of mind monkeys, swinging from the mental chandeliers and flinging their own poo.  I draw repetitive patterns to lull them into a banana-sated siesta in their little hammocks among the limbs, twigs and branches where they otherwise spend their time maniacally jumping to conclusions and teetering precariously the edge of reason. That's my  entire 'process'-monkey anesthetization!

Case in point, I've been more than a wee bit angsty over the last week or so, so I wanted to start a project that would take a while. It should be repetitive but not too repetitive, large but not too large, detailed but not too detailed, difficult but not too difficult. And before you know it  I was angsty about what to draw.  Cause that's how I roll. Friggin' monkeys! So to break the mental 'gridlock',  I got a 12 x 12 sheet of white paper and drew a 1/2 inch grid in pencil. Too repetitive. So I drew circles all over it. Initially I thought that they would be orbs floating over a repetitive background. Lately I've been enamored by the pattern '8s' by Jane over a the 'See Jane Run' blog so I just started filling in the grid background with that.

Before long, one of the monkeys raised his drowsy head and decided that the circles weren't orbs but portals and so I drew the frames and rivets. He settled back into his slumber and I continued on with the '8s'.  I had worked on a smaller study of 8s the week before, experimenting with all of the designs I could use to 'fill in ' the basic '8s' pattern, so I used the one I like best; little shields with a gem in the middle connected by cables with porch door screens in between. This kept the monkeys down for several days. Every time they sat up in their hammocks, stretched their arms over their sleepy little heads and tried to yawn themselves awake, I grabbed a pen and lulled them back to Dream Land.

After I got the background all filled in, I filled the portals in with black and then filled them with stars. This is my very favorite pattern to do . I finished it and posted it to my Doodlers Group on Zentangle for constructive criticism. Someone said that it looked like 'wallpaper on a spaceship' but 'in a good way'. And so, there you have it, even though they are sleeping, sometimes little monkey dreams sneak into the very design of the thing created to lull them, and I end up with 'Wallpaper On A Spaceship'.

PS-I'm not crazy. My mother had me tested.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Happy Birthday Daddy!

My daddy loved money and the art of the deal. There was nothing he liked better than buying something, and reselling it for a little profit. It was his hobby and his joy. He also collected coins. When he passed away on April 1, 1999, my Mum gave me a bank that he had received for a gift many years before. It is a plain wooden box, but the front has one of the old fashioned post office mailbox doors that had the little dial combination lock that is all letters.  Spin the lock to letter G, reverse direction and pass G stopping on letter B.  Now forward until you get to the space between L and M.  It's pretty awesome and reminds me of Daddy every time I see it.

As soon as I received it, I started hording all of my change and putting it in there. I go to the bank on November first (Daddy's birthday) and April 1st (his death date) and turn it in. The combination bank is pretty full by then, but the night before bank day finds me scrounging for every bit of change I own. All of the usual repositories are searched relentlessly; the dish in the laundry closet and the little one on my dresser, the cubby in the car, the bottom of my purse, coat pockets, sofa cushions. It's all of a sudden vitally important to me that I don't miss one single penny.

This year I wasn't going to be at work on November 1st. My bank is by my office so I bundled up all of my change and took it with me to work on October 31, planning to take it into the bank on my lunch hour. I locked it in my trunk, worked all morning, and then on my way out at lunchtime, I told a coworker about my little change ritual and said that I hoped Daddy would forgive me for taking it in a day early.

On my way to the back door, I found a penny on the carpet.  Absently I picked it up and put it in my pocket...almost on auto-pilot.  I drove over to the bank and hauled my treasure inside.  A cashier took it and put it in the counting machine out back. She came back with a slip of paper and handed it to me saying 'Awwww! So close!!!'.  The slip of paper said $84.99. I said 'Awww ...' too and felt kind of  bad for a minute until I remembered. I stuck my hand in my pocket and pulled out the penny.  $85 EVEN!  Thank you Daddy! I love you and miss you every single day.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pewett's Nest 2013

Made the annual pilgrimage to Pewett's Nest on Sunday. It was an amazingly beautiful day. The trail was perilous. Good thing I had friend, Scott, along to clear the way!

 We hiked into the lower falls first.  I could listen to the sounds all day long. 

Then we went to the upper falls. I've never seen the water this low and we were able to hike in the ravine bottom right up to the falls themselves. Here is Scott after he bullyed a rude and surly photographer out of the way. (People were lined up to take a pic of the falls and he was standing IN it, taking close up pics of leaves for over 20 minutes!)

It was about 2:30PM-ish and the play of light through the trees was magical

Deep reflections....

 and sunbeams abound.

 Beside the still water.

It's one of those mystical places that always restores my soul to visit. On the way home, we went to apple orchards and snacked on cider donuts. All and all it was a beautiful way to spend an autumn Sunday!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

New Tangle Pattern: Hastings

While I was home this time, I noticed the pattern on the chenille bedspread that my Mum had on the guest bed. Below is the pattern. I called it Hastings because I wrote it down on the day that my cousin, Rhonda and I slogged through a muddy woods road and ATV trail to get to Hasting's Falls in the northern Maine woods. I've included pictures of the falls afterward. Totally worth the slog! Enjoy!

 Hastings and variations
Upstream from the falls-stair steps!

Hastings Falls-at the top

 Hastings Falls-over the edge! (25 foot drop)

I might be biased but I think there is no place more beautiful on the planet that the lands in the shadow of Mount Katahdin!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Diva's Border Challenge and Blessing of the Animals

This week's Diva Challenge was to look around our immediate area at things that have borders or can be used as ideas for borders and use them in a tangle. Each of the coils has a border that's in my living room.
 From the upper left and going clockwise: The wooden beading around the edge of my telephone table, the grill of my heat vent, the design around the top of a pottery piece, the border of a pillow on my sofa, the edge of a piece of  pre digital era film, My guitar neck and the middle one is a hank of beads I'm using for a knitting project. Fun and great to do while watching Bones, Sleepy Hollow and Castle! Thanks again Diva!

Yesterday I volunteered to help the animal outreach volunteer at Heartland take animals to Primrose Lutheran Church for a 'Blessing of the Animal's service. It was an amazingly incredible experience. I wish our church had done it. I would have been all over that!

I loaded Ricky and Fonzie the roosters into my car...

And Faye took Teddy the Shetland sheep

I followed her which was hysterical because Teddy was looking all around the entire way. It was a brilliant, perfect fall morning and the ride through the farmlands was astounding. I think Tedward enjoyed it as much as I did!
I didn't know what to expect for the service so the first surprise was that the entire service was held outside. Couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather. 
 The next surprise was how many animals the parishioners brought! Almost everyone brought a dog. There were all shapes and sizes and breeds and they all got along!
The organist had a golden doodle.
But there were also cats, ferrets and horses as well as two roosters and a sheep!
The pastor of the church was super sweet. Here she is blessing Fonzie and Ricky together. They stayed still and let her pray for over a minute. The prayer she said for Teddy when I took him up made me cry it was so heartfelt and beautiful.
 And while the animals were being blessed, this lovely lady played wonderful, haunting music on her Native American flute.

I am so blessed that I picked this opportunity as my first volunteer gig back at the farm. I  teared up several times during the morning;  it was such a touching and beautiful ceremony.  I also had a giggle though because before the service, the minister asked everyone to take a moment of silence and center themselves to prepare to worship. The MINUTE she said 'moment of silence' Fonzie, the little rooster,  started to crow his heart out. He has been non-verbal except for clucking the whole time until that very moment. And he didn't just stop at one, he crowed and crowed and crowed and crowed through the entire thing!  He's little but he's LOUD! Then he stopped when she broke the moment of silence and started talking again. She announced that the first hymn would be 'Morning Has Broken'. Well! Howdy Do! That's a rooster's theme song! So he 'sang' along for the entire song. Then when the song was over, he was done as well and was quiet for the rest of the time. Nobody, not even G*d gets to tell Fonzie when to be quiet!

After the service, the parishioners brought out a kiddie swimming pool and completely filled it with gifts for the farm; the pool for the ducks, a bag of cracked corn, a push broom, pet dishes and beds, tins of cat food, paper products, a Mounds gift card and cash.  All very thoughtful and much needed gifts from these sweet people. I was truly humbled at the generosity and the way that these folks loved their animals, their pastor and their church. I think animals should be allowed in church every week!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Knightsbridge and Tipple

This week's Diva Challenge was to use two patterns "Knightsbridge (checkerboard) and Tipple (bubbles). I had to do it rather quickly but I kind of like how it turned out! Thanks for another great challenge, Laura!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Diva Challenge: Tipple Tangle Pattern

Given my last post, this week's Diva Challenge is especially apropos.  It's about the meditative process of Zentangling, more than the design.  This is one of the things I did on Saturday. I drew the piece below purposefully, slowly and mindfully. It took a long time and I enjoyed every single moment of it. It's amazing how much you can clear your mind and relax by just putting pen to paper  and drawing one stroke at a time.

I actually did this before the challenge was issued but only by a couple of days. Since it matched the criteria and it has lots of 'Tipple' (the pattern that looks like little bubbles) I decided to submit it. I hope that's not cheating

I apologize because I can't remember who recently posted about exploring Maori culture and their tribal symbolism.* I was very intrigued by that and based this design loosely on that idea. It was created on a piece of  12" x 12" scrapbook paper that has a neutral dot pattern on the background. I traced one of my dinner plates in the middle with pencil, and then I took a medium nib Sharpie and just let loose. I finished it with highlights and accents using a white Jelly Roll pen. I'd love some constructive criticism about the overall design and how it makes others feel. Although it's very dark and concentrated, it gives me a feeling of serenity because of the overall roundness of the design and because of the process by which it came into existence.

Thanks again Diva for another WONDERFUL challenge!  Keep 'em comin'!

*Thank you Joke Broekhans Geers! She let me know it was the amazing Margaret Bremner who was posting about Maori designs the other day. Cheers!

Perspective, perspective, perspective...

I've had a string of bad days lately.  Sometimes I forget to take care of ME and get so worn down that I forget that it's my choice to NOT wallow in self-pity and loathing. I can let go of the angst and anxiety, and walk away from the drama of others in my life...and my OWN self-created drama.  I forget that I can CHOOSE to be happy.

On Friday I suddenly remembered again and pulled my head out of my butt for the first time in quite a while. I decided to get up extra-early and bake some lemon bread since I haven't baked in forever and I love it. I decided to enjoy my work instead of slogging through it, and I set aside an hour to read in the garden in the evening.  I ate healthily and sipped tea all day. It was glorious! It was a conscious effort and there was a lot of redirecting my monkey-mind, but as the day went on, I started to relax.

Saturday, since I was on a roll,  I decided to play hooky all day. I  decided to read,  knit, draw or whatever else brings me happiness for the entire day.  Chores could wait.  EVERYTHING could wait. I spent the entire day just being in the moment and enjoying it tremendously. I opened the house up to like-minded friends and had fun visiting with folks who dropped in.

In the evening, I cuddled with the these two and watched Life of Pi on HBO. I had tried to read the book when it first came out and two different times after that and just couldn't. I couldn't get into it. I can count on one hand the number of books I haven't been able to read over the years; 'Life of Pi', 'The Corrections', 'House of Leaves'...  I can't remember the thousands of books I HAVE read, but the ones I can't read I remember...and hold a grudge. That said 'Life of Pi' the movie' was A-MAZ-ING cinema-graphically. I regret now that I didn't see it in the theater on the biggest screen available. Three hours of wonderful storytelling and eye candy. Sigh. 

There was absolutely nothing different about my life on Friday and Saturday than there had been any day in the past few weeks. I still had the same issue, insecurities and problems. The lone difference on Friday and Saturday was my attitude Sunday was a drama-filled day again, but I was better able to handle it having recharged a bit. How many times do I have to relearn this lesson? I KNOW that I have the choice to be happy, but it seems to slip away from time to time forcing me to go through H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks- for a while until I get straightened back out.  

Dear Universe,
Please help me to remember all of the blessings I have in my life. Please remind me to recognize and show gratitude for the beauty around me. So many people have it so much worse than I do. I am incredibly  blessed and my troubles are small in the great scheme of things. Please help me to remember that my attitude and my reactions to situations is always my choice and ...


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Decision Doodling

I'm in one of those phases in my life where I have  some of decisions to make; hard decisions. And I don't like it one bit lemme tell you. In order to settle myself and sort through the pros and cons, I've done a couple of larger doodles lately. I uploaded pics of them from my phone to Facebook. I save them from there and transfer them here. For some reason, when I send from my phone to my email, the picture gets partly eaten on the way. Great! Another hard decision! What new phone to get!

Anyway, a dear friend who is like a sister and just moved to Texas, saw them and named them for me:

Too High Falootin' To Be A  Lone Star 

(Apparently, to move to the Texas, you must memorize the fact that a  Lone Star has EXACTLY 5 points. Not  3 or 4....and definitely not 6 like the abomination above. Then they beat it into you that all stars must be  the State Approved 5-pointed Lone Star. Any doodler who attempt to doodle a star other that the official  state design  is kicked out of The South altogether and has to join the Witness Protection Program. And don't even think about eating Pace Salsa ever again. I'm going to have to do some heavy atonement and begging , not to mention drawing copious amounts of correct, 5-pointed stars, to even be allowed into the state if I ever want to visit!)

She just put 'Snakes on a Plane' under this one. I wonder why?

Goodnight All!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Diva Challenge: Dex

Just a quick drive by before I turn in for the night. Here is my Diva Challenge entry for this week. The task? To use only one tangle-Dex.  It wasn't a hardship. It's one of my favorites. Especially when I can draw it in space! 'Night All!

Cooper the Climber No More

We were having a bit of a problem at our house with Cooper climbing the screens to catch his favorite crunchy treat, the Musca Domestica . That's the common house fly for those of us whose palet isn't as cultured as Cooper's. It's all cute-like now that he's only 3 # but will become a problem when he gets bigger. A friend told me to get a squirt gun and squirt him with it whenever he starts climbing. Didn't sound wrong. So I went to Farm and Fleet and bought the only squirt gun they sell, a little hand-held number, felt good in the hand, good grip, good trigger. $3.49 and it was all mine. I got it home, loaded it up and lay in wait for the first signs of screen climbage. As luck would have it, I didn't have to wait long.

In my defense, regarding what happened next, when I was a kid (in the before times) there was one kind of squirt gun.  It was a little opaque-colored plastic pistol-usually blue or red. It took approximately 36 hours to get enough water through the impossibly small hole on the top to fill it because there was a little plastic dingus attached. No one knows why it was there because it certainly didn't keep water in. The thing leaked like a sieve from the hole and every available seam.  When you pulled the trigger, an anemic little dribble came out of the end of the barrel. Honestly, the leaking seams had more water pressure. Two 'shots' and the whole thing fell apart, started to biodegrade and that was it. Playing with a  squirt gun. Big fun.

So imagine my surprise, when I pulled the trigger on this bad boy and literally blew poor Cooper off the windowsill and onto the floor looking like he's been in a tsunami. Holy Crap! I'm lucky my aim wasn't better or I would have drilled a hole straight through him. I spent the next 10 minutes alternately cleaning up the 30 gallons of water that came out of a gun (that I only put one cup in to begin with) and consoling Cooper who ran to ME for help, apparently so traumatized that he didn't remember I was the one that pulled the trigger in the first place.

I was relaying this story to a friend over the weekend who suggested that maybe a mister bottle was a kinder, gentler way to go. Cooper wants to know where this friend was BEFORE I purchased the fire hose water launcher that soggied him up! I don't think I'll have to worry about it because he won't go NEAR the window sills now.  Apparently you never know when a rogue wave will happen by and take you out. There is something to be said for pulling the band aid off quickly!

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The Cooper Conundrum and This Week's Diva Challenge

Bid'ness first. Here is my Diva Challenge for this week. The challenge was to use the tangle 'Henna Drum' by Jane MacKugler.  You can see the basic tangle here.  I usually don't like my work while I'm doing it or right after I'm doing it. I will go through old pieces later and think 'Hey, I kinda like that', but that's after my knowledge of the mistakes and things that didn't go like I thought they would have faded. This one I actually liked while I was doing it!
I'm not sure why my camera makes my backgrounds have a bluish tint. This design is much more striking on the white paper it's drawn on.  Oh well. Last week was a pretty stressful week, it was nice to sit down with this and relax. Once again. The Diva ROCKS!

Exciting news! Tonight I am meeting with some Madison Zentanglers in what I hope will become a regular monthly group. One of the artists will be Diane Knauff from Stone Art Angels, who I was lucky enough to have as a teacher when I attended the Zentangle retreat in Mineral Point last fall. If anyone in the Madison area is interested in attending, comment me and I will send you location and time. The more the merrier! This technique really is relaxing and has enriched my life tremendously. You don't have to be any kind of artist to do this. I've proven that! It's just repetitive pen strokes for meditation and relaxation. You don't have to show a soul your finished product if you don't want...just reap the benefits of the Zen, baby!

In Cooper news, as he grows, we are finding out more about him. We suspect he is part porcupine and part flying squirrel because of his penchant for surprise acupuncture and hang-gliding, even though the vet insists he's just a Maine Coon cat. He apparently has acid flashbacks of some kind because one second he's calm, cool and collected, and the next he's completely wigged out and bouncing off the walls all wide-eyed, and Halloween-kitty like. He has some kind of a gravity-related super power.  One minute he's defying it by flying through the air with the greatest of ease, and the next minute he apparently uses it to increase his 3# weight ten-fold as evidenced by the herd-of-rhinos clatter he makes when he runs from one end of the house to the other over and over and over. And over. And over.

This weekend we had a family meeting to discuss the fact that one of us is consistently knocking over the recycling basket for no apparently reason.  We narrowed it down to Cooper who was remarkably un-remorseful, unrepentant, and since being id'-ed , hasn't modified that particular behavior one bit. Lord knows what he has against being eco-friendly. And the piece de resistance was when we discovered last night where all the missing objects (a sock, Kleenex, pens, a book mark, a recipe card, a gum eraser, post it notes. etc.) have been going lately. Apparently we can add 'pack-rat' to the number of species that make up our dear boy.  He had a little nest of objects he's pickpocketed in a den he's created under the bed. Some of them are bigger than he is! No wonder he rushes out and attacks any toes that come near the bed. He's protecting his hard-earned stash. 

Sigh. I'm just glad we adopted him and brought him into our family since he is apparently incapable of being a normal, contributing member of  regular society. He fits right in at our house. I saw a tee shirt the other day that said 'We don't hide the crazy in our family.  We give them an ice tea and set them out on the porch to mingle.' I swear it had Cooper's picture on it!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Outdoor Adventure: A Photo Essay

Belleville Park Bridge

Dam! Damn!
Big waterfall
Wee Waterfall
I know nothink!

Geese, eh?
There's one in every crowd. Goosed!

Down by the riverside

My brown eyed girls

Sea Urchin fossils

Barnacle fossils
(Or as some have suggested, Reeses' Mini Peanut Butter Cup fossils!

What did you do last weekend?

Diva Challenge: String 004

This week's Diva Challenge was to use a specific string (the foundation line to use as a guide to fill in the tangles).  The String looks like this  picture (which I shamelessly stole from the Tangle Pattern site. If I'm in trouble, please let me know and I'll take it down and apologize!)

TanglePatterns String 004
Anytime a string has those little loopies in it, I see 'Purk'.  They look like seed pods to me and are one of my favorites.  So I put them in both loops. I decided to 'theme' the rest of the tangle with nature designs-Sanibel in the lower right (and Purk) for plants, Rikpool by the amazing Neil Burkey, for the sea, Vauche for the animal print in the lower right hand corner and for the life of me I can't remember the one in the upper left for the stars/sky. If someone knows and could leave the name in the comments, I'd appreciate it. It's a new-ish one for me and I've been adding it to a lot of tangles lately.

I also made this hummingbird on a Thank You note for my Mum.  The color was added digitally afterward. 
And in keeping with the hummer design, which I like very much, I did this in my art journal. The dolphin was an afterthought-ignore it!
I like to tangle sitting on the sofa with my lap desk, but these days I have a lot of help. Cooper insists on sitting ON whatever paper I have and swatting at the pen
See what a big help he is?
Eventually he plays himself out and then SLEEPS on my work
Or ...
on ME
But look at that face! It's not difficult to put down the tangle and just snuggle the little guy.
His Nibs has his second kitty vet visit this afternoon.  When I got him on July 1, he weighed about a pound and a quarter. I think he's around three lbs now. He eats like a wee piglet. He'd weight more except he's pretty much in high gear all the time he's awake. He's a curious mix of flying squirrel, porcupine, burdock and snugglemonster. It'll be interesting to find out what the vet says.