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Friday, December 26, 2008

And Why Not?

The image on this tall strip of canvas has been haunting me, so I had to get it out. I have attempted to portray what is termed "mezla"* before, with little success. This may also turn out to be a blind alley, but when I got down a folded piece of canvas to make a new stretched canvas, it unfolded into this long strip and suddenly I thought, "well, why not? Why not tack it to the wall and paint on it unprimed? After all, acrylics can do that!" So here it is, and I like it now. I hope I will like it later also ... but who knows?

Mezla: The flow of energy, consciousness, and matter through its various phases of expression in the Tree of Life, from subtle unity of the absolute to the dense realm of matter.source: Kabbalah for Health & Wellness, Mark Stavish (Llewellyn Publications)

The Family Gathers

Lord and Master with The Bear



(l-r) Kirk, Panda, Valari and Me

(l-r) Jasmine and Leila Departing

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Illustration: Jawbone of a beaver

Bwahahaha I bet you thought this was MY jawbone, but no .....

I had a tiny sore spot on the back of my gums next to my tongue, which did not seem to get any better (or worse), so I called the dentist today to see if he could tell me what it was.

Turns out it was a bone spicule, as he said, "trying to work its way out" through my gums. He wriggled it and carved at it until finally it came off and now my traumatized gums are recovering nicely, thank you.

Also turns out this could be related to the medication I take for bone loss (? modern medicine ?).

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

They Swim, Too!

After having seen a lot of bison in Yellowstone, we witnessed a small herd swimming across the Yellowstone River near Fishing Bridge. It was a wonderful sight, and here it is immortalized (well, blobbed anyway). I now know how people feel they can pet these wild animals. They are amazingly casual about humans, which leads us to fall under the spell that they must be tame, because they have no fear. Story goes one man grabbed a bison's head hair and the bull turned the man's car over into the ditch.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Aggression Thy Name is Woman?

You can see part of Osprey's post behind my finners, which I held up as I read that MEN, but not WOMEN, have the index finger shorter than the ring finger, and that this short index indicates high testosterone levels and aggressive tendencies *begins to show fangs*. Perhaps that is why I tend to kill at Combat Cards? You can read the post here, but beware of looking at your hands lest you find out you are gender corn fused in the fingers department!

Thanks Given At Mom's House

In an unaccountable and long-lived spasm of domesticity I made the entire Thanksgiving dinner myself, asking my fambly to bring nothing but any drinks they would prefer over those we usually have on hand (milk, fat-free milk, water, juice, tea and diet cola). This is a shot of the cranberries before I morphed them into a very delicious sauce for the dinner. I made so much of this crap I gave away what seemed like gallons of the stuff. To those of us with a taste for the sweet, it was delish. For Osprey, I think it would have tasted abominable. See her post on raw cranberry consumption here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Psychic Oddity

The Movie "I, Worst of All" portrays the life of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. I watched it a couple of months ago, I think. Then, this past Wednesday, Sor Juana just came into my mind for no particular reason. I did a search on her and found her biography. I was reading it, when it occurred to me to wonder what her birthdate was. Lo and behold, it was the 12th of November! I was amazed that I happened to look her up on her birthday.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Big Brother in London

Britain considers database of phone and e-mail traffic

The Associated Press

Thursday, October 16, 2008

LONDON - The British government is considering setting up a database of all phone and e-mail traffic in the country as part of a high-tech strategy to fight terrorism and crime, its senior law enforcement official said Wednesday.

The official, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, said Britain's police and security services needed new ways to collect and store records of phone calls, e-mail messages and Internet traffic.

Technological changes have created an online world that is complex and fragmented, Smith said, and important information like telephone billing data is not always retained.

Opposition politicians and civil liberties groups condemned the idea, and the country's independent reviewer of terrorism laws, Lord Carlile, said the government should not be allowed to set up a vast "data warehouse."

The Home Office said one option was the creation of a database that would store all phone numbers dialed, Web sites visited and e-mail addresses contacted by everyone in Britain.

Officials emphasized that such a database would not store the content of phone calls or e-mail messages.

But Chris Huhne, the domestic affairs spokesman for the opposition Liberal Democrats, accused the government of hatching "Orwellian plans for a vast database of our private communications."

A civil liberties group, Liberty, said there were "huge dangers" in collecting so much data about every person in the country. "The bigger the data haul, the greater the temptation to treat innocent habits as suspicious behavior," said the group's policy director, Gareth Crossman.

Lord Carlile said any new law must include strict limitations and protections against abuse.

The government said that the database was just one of several ideas being considered and that no bills would be drafted until after public consultation next year.

My comment: Art / Life / Art sort of thing:

Interestingly, there is a series being shown on PBS right now on Masterpiece Contemporary, set in London, about just such a system being abused.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Let There Be Clouds!

I seem to be constitutionally incapable of taking a straight square photo of a painting. Oh well. These clouds are PINK ... yes, believe it or not. Pale, pale pink, to be sure. I think they give a lot of life and dimensionality to the painting.

The sky is cutting into the foreground for the time being, so that when I reinforce the tree trunks they will be in front of the sky.

What a Difference Value Makes!

While this sky is currently "chalky" and too flat, it brings the foreground to life by showing the trees against a light sky. While it dries, I upload and share with you.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Aspens in Process and Progress

This is the painting now. I have re-applied a very dark green background for the trees. Why did I bother putting in all that red-orange, you ask? It is there, it is just not consciously visible. Like nature*, a painting has underlying colors to give strength, body and impact to the ones on the surface.

A portrait of the painter as an old pirate.

Making a nice green ... out of red, yellow and blue ... ah the magic!

Yes, blue and yellow make green, but it is not nature's green yet!

All these tones appear in the painting, in what is technically known as "the central blob of color", the aspen leaves.

*in nature, leaves are red under all that green. In the fall, the green is stripped away to reveal nature's underpainting!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Aspens in Progress

I am in ecstasy during this part of the process. You can still see the ground in certain areas, but I have used mostly complementary colors for the underpainting, so that scraps of those colors will enliven the mostly yellow, green and blue of the image.

By the way, this painting is 36"H x 24"W x 1 1/2"D, on heavy cotton canvas and heavy stretcher bars.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Genesis in the Studio

I took this photo on vacation, and I really like the contrast of the white aspen trunks against the dark evergreens. I manipulated it in Photoshop to emphasize that contrast in the printout, which I will use to paint from. The road entering from the corner is something I really like, although it sometimes can be a dangerous placement, because it can lead the eye out of the painting, unless used carefully.

Here is the printout with my gesso mixing container and brush.

There is something very satisfying about making a canvas. This one is a recycle, so it already has a hanging wire on the back.

Tabla rasa ... the canvas before the application of the gesso.

Sign of the Cross ... the first application of the colored gesso is done out from the center to the centers of the four edges in order to prevent pulling the stretcher bars out of square. The gesso, acrylic paint and water are very strong and the canvas drooped toward the center, as though it might not tighten up, but I knew it would, from past experience.

The Ground of Being ... the deep blue-violet will be a nice place to begin. All the lighter colors will "pop" from this deep background. For me, this part of the process is exciting; it must be accomplished quickly before the gesso begins to tear the canvas.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Awww Bombo Is Happy!

In Age 3 of Human Age, one sometimes acquires a pet crocodile, even though it is a beast one hunts, as well. This is Bombo, my pet croc. The text says:

"Bombo, the crocodile, is very happy -- it's looking at you with love in its eyes!"

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Another Binge Classic!

I could eat every one of these (plus the dozen still in the oven) and No One Would Ever Know!

So I dare not eat even one, because I remember the Chocolate Chip Cookie Hypnotic Trance :(

Foil Is Not Totally Evil!

I try not to use a lot of aluminum foil, because it is hard to manufacture and to reuse, but sometimes ... I had a request for REAL brownies (no mix, all the chocolate, sugar, flour and butter you need for a year, you know, like Mother Used to Make).

But I digress ... the point is, look at my brownie pan on the left! I followed the directions and lined the pan with foil, and *guilty giggle* no cleanup (well, other than the bowls, beaters, spoons, counter, and putting away the ingredients)!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Steve's Two Year Death Anniversary

Somehow in all the computer insanity of hard drive losses, I have lost all the digitized photos I had of Steve :((. I can picture him, and I miss him.

Last night, all my descendants and I met at a burger joint and celebrated Patrick's 42nd birthday, and toasted Steve. Kirk now has a tattoo over his heart, saying (so far) Stephen. I guess he will have the dates of Steve's life put on there as well.

Valari says she wants Steve's old pickup truck to drive when she gets her license. Patrick is storing it in the meantime. It is a black 1999 Ford F150 with a bullldog from a Mac truck on the hood. Not the usual teenage girl ride.

Monday, October 06, 2008


Over and over, in my life, the way I perceive someone has changed drastically and suddenly with an internally audible "click". Frequently, when I was dating, I decided to break it off with someone based upon a sudden change in my perception of them. I tend to think the best of people, but when they repeatedly do things that I find unpleasant, eventually I have the "click" experience, and it is all over.

It happened again today at yoga class. I am in the habit of talking with the others and sometimes helping them get things out or whatever.

One of the students spoke to me letting me know she does not like my ways. A few weeks ago, I said something like "I think we are supposed to be doing ..." whatever it was at the time. This student said, jokingly I thought at the time, "smarty-pants". I laughed it off.

Today I went to put my blankets on the stack, and this same student happened to put her blanket there just before I did. Under her blanket was a big misshapen lump, and I started to straighten it out. She said, "Take charge, Ellen". CLICK. I will be subtly avoiding her from now on. I will refrain from speaking to her about the class. She clearly feels I am interfering, and I will be on opposite sides of the room from her whenever possible.

Ding Dong the Brush Is Gone ...

Which Old Brush? The Hurricane Brush! Ding! Dong! The Hurricane Brush Is Gone!

I saw a truck in the neighborhood yesterday on my walk with Bear, and I was so happy that they finally got to our area.

They have been taking all the fallen trees and brush to special dumps, they told me, where it is stored, then chipped up to make mulch for the city parks and so on. I was very glad to hear that.

Today they took our brush, and the grass underlying the piles is still alive! I am thrilled. The truck that took ours was from Fort Myers, Florida. The one I saw yesterday was from Brevard, Florida. They said, yes they know hurricanes. I can only imagine.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Be Careful What You WIsh For!

This maple was always weak, it seemed to me, shedding branches regularly. Finally I asked a tree surgeon and he said that it was the squirrels eating the bark that weakened the limbs. I thought of having it cut down, but since it was large, it would have been expensive. Well, now we are going to have to cut it down thanks to our pal Ike.

The crape myrtle to the right has a lot of damage as well, but it will recover I am sure. Directly behind the maple is a crape myrtle we cut down last year. We even had the stump ground so it would not come back, but ... well they are feisty little characters!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy Equinox Everyone!

Today everywhere on our planet there are 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. Two times a year we are all on the same schedule. In between each place is a little bit different. Happy Spring, South America, Australia and New Zealand! We will be enjoying our autumn and preparing for winter in the Northern Hemisphere, of course.

This is, according to some, a good time to make changes in one's life, to decide what one needs to work on for the coming 6-month cycle, whether the sunlight is increasing or decreasing.

Astrologer Robert Wilkinson says:

"The 2008 Autumn Equinox falls at 8:45 am PDT on 22 September, 4:45 pm GDT, and early Sept 23 in Eastern Australia and Oceana .... The chart done for the that point in time is said to offer a snapshot of the cosmic and literal weather we can expect over the next 3 months. It seems it will be a fairly auspicious if portentous Autumn, since there are a host of great aspects along with prominent septile (fork in the road) indicators. The Moon makes a mixed bag of aspects, long range oppositions are indicated, with a very strong productive spiritual balancing indicated these next 3 months.

... With the planetary distribution as it is, it looks to be a "Locomotive" Jones pattern, with a "Bucket" shading throwing the handle to the Moon at 6 Cancer. A Locomotive is a chart with 2/3 of the signs set off against a void 1/3 that represents a lack or a need, a job to be done or a problem to be solved in the world. It shows a dynamic practicality and is moved by externals to address the void. This void falls between 21 Pisces and 6 Cancer.

Where this span falls in our charts will be where we are move to act or accomplish something. Where the void falls in various cities shows what must be addressed or acted upon by all in that location in general."

To read his entire post, which is worthwhile but lengthy, go here.

Our House

This is our house (on the left, one story). The maple is lying on the curb in chunks, and there are bags of leaves we swept up or raked, plus a lot of maple branches on the right. It is going to take a long time for the city to deal with all these downed trees, but we were so lucky. A lot of people in Galveston had their houses destroyed, as most people have seen on the news.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Yeah Ya Go Back, Jack ...

We are back in Jackson Hole at a lovely motel with this view out from our porch. Our return flights were cancelled, so we are here "stranded" (oh, can I handle this place? DOH yes) until we depart on Sunday morning to return to who knows what at home.

My biggest worry is our dog, in a kennel down there. We did not even know about Ike going to Houston until yesterday afternoon, because there was no internet, no TV and no cell phone coverage in Yellowstone. The last thing we had heard was that he was headed for the Rio Grande Valley, but noooooo ... my family is there but well inland. The house, you ask? Who knows. We will have to see how it goes.