Friday, October 24, 2014

After a Day in the Bardo, Relaxing with Jesse

Really,  one of my least favorite days is the day when I have to get a new phone-- all the transferring of files, synching of things, learning a new phone even when it's supposed to be "really just like" the 4S, only the minute muscle movements are different and nothing really feels the same.  This day is not exactly equal to a root canal day, but I would put it equal to an airport day with four close connections, one of them Newark, and it's stormy. 

So after the day in the bardo,  it felt great to unwind by making a big pot of chicken soup/gumbo and some cornbread.  I used some of the gumbo file that I made from sassafras leaves from one of the little sassafras trees in our back yard woods.
Jesse smelled chicken and came loping into the kitchen.  On the right he's sitting on a stool at the counter watching carefully.
Later he came over to my drawing table and settled in to do some grooming.
Then his head grew heavy, and it sank slowly down onto his paw. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Watching a Performance of the Digestive System

Last night we had the fun of watching Maya's class present their unit on the human body.  She goes to an arts-based public charter school where the curriculum is learned through the arts.  For this unit each small group of kids researched and presented one of the body systems, and Maya's group did the digestive system.  They wrote books in which the protagonists were pieces of food going through the alimentary canal, drew diagrams and large maps of the systems, composed and performed music and dances in order to present the many aspects of this study.  Here are quick rough sketches that I made during the performance:  Maya waving to us before the performance started, a couple of the exotic instruments used for the music, a boy reading part of a story, Maya and some friends on stage playing drums, and a girl dancing.
Tonight I went over to my friend L's studio so we could parallel work on some projects.  One of my projects was drawing, so I drew two of her antique dolls, one looking startled and the other terrified.  And on the right is a green-but-maybe -starting- to- ripen fig from F's tree.  We picked it today to bring it inside in hopes that it will ripen in the house since a frost is predicted for tonight.
This gorgeous orangey red rose hip was hanging from a rose bush on the side of the road we were walking on.  This must be the kind of rose hips that people make jelly out of.  There were a couple of roses left on the bush-- variegated pink with a sweet sweet smell.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


First thing this morning 13 turkeys performed an impressive passagiata in our front yard.  All the babies are adults now, and a very handsome family it is! I spent the rest of the day carving little eraser blocks to use with a big woodcut, and here are proofs of them.  I cut them using my drawings of water plants as reference.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

RIP Old Keens

Yesterday was one of those days , and when I got home around 9 PM I could not face the computer.  So here are yesterday's drawings:   a scattering of tabletop objects from a meeting of my journal group.  Two of these are new tools-- a new kind of water brush by Caran d'Ache (and if this brush is as good as the densely pigmented crayons they make it is really worth looking into), and the other is a micro-fine Prismacolor pen.  Both are on my list of things to track down.
Today began with my discovery that two of my favorite objects are irreparably broken.  On the left is one of my Keen hiking shoes.  I've had Keens that lasted so long the inner soles compressed and became rock hard.  I have never had a pair that actually gave out on me.  But this nice lightweight pair that I've probably had for 6 or 7 years has turned belly up.  I had laced it up and was ready to head out when I noticed that the entire sole had separated from the upper part of the show, and green mold had grown all over the part of the toe that is usually covered by the tip of the sole.

Well that was sad, but I found another pair of hiking shoes at the back of the closet.  Worse was when I went into the kitchen to make my regular morning smoothie and discovered the blender had broken four out of its six wee plastic teeth that engage with the motor.  Very cheap construction!  Beware of Braun blenders-- check to make sure the bottom of the top part engages with the top of the motor part by means of a metal assembly before you plunk down your money.  These little plastic teeth have been chipping off at the rate of one every few weeks, but this morning there was only one full tooth left, and it was just not up to the whole job.
I rounded out this short series of drawings with a sad face carved out of what looks like some kind of lava.  It's a lovely little face, about 5 inches from hairline to chin, and so minimally worked-- just a few passes with a chisel.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Joining the Leaf People on Craggy Pinnacle; Acquiring a Poison Ring

J and I ventured out along the Blue Ridge Parkway this afternoon along with hundreds of tourists seeking autumn colors.  The trail up to the top of Craggy Pinnacle reminded me of visiting the Uffizi in Florence-- forced march, not enough time to linger and enjoy any of the paintings/trees.  inally we found a side trail and a little outcrop off of it.  It was below the pinnacle itself so we missed the crowds up there and had a quiet spot to sit for a couple of hours and talk and take pictures and draw.

On the left is a view looking down on the valley and at the mountain range in the distance.  On the right is the pinnacle as seen from below.  The foreground, which I did not draw, was a grassy high meadow and relatively flat.  The elevation was a little above 6000 feet, a 400 ft climb from the parking lot.
I met J to go hiking downtown at the Jewish festival where he had been able to find poison rings, something I had found when I was at the festival a couple of years ago.  I have regretted not buying one when I was there before;  so while I sat in the car in an illegal parking place, J ran back to the festival with some cash and bought one for each of us.  His has a tiny drawer under the bezel (top part with a small onyx stone) that pulls out.  Very nice.  Mine has a hinged bezel with a Celtic knot design.  I've never gotten over my fascination with decoder rings from the 50s, and an old silver ring with a secret compartment is right up my alley.  A good place to carry pin numbers among other things.  I checked out a history of poison rings and learned that date back very far, to the Middle Ages and earlier, and were used to carry poison, obviously, but also holy relics, locks of hair, secret messages, perfume, and even tiny portraits.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Packaging =, <, or > Food

 Maya and I were exploring the aisles of the new Whole Foods, one of our favorite places to go looking for interesting package design and new foods to try.  In the produce section we found a strange, deep red, spiny/hairy fruit labeled "Rambutan from Indonesia."  It looked so improbable and so unapproachable that we bought one to see if it tasted as strange as it looked.  It looked like a sea creature on the outside, and on the inside was a single gelatinous round ball that looked even more sea creaturely.  It had been easy to peel open.  The pale translucent ball of jelly-like stuff quivered a little.  I poked it with a finger and then tasted my finger.  Not bad!  I scooped it out and took a bite-- really nice!  I popped the whole thing into my mouth and discovered a hard nut-like seed in the middle surrounded by lots of soft sweetness.  Definitely better to eat than to look at.  Package < food.
Then this afternoon I was in a different market looking for some trail snacks.  I really liked the plain tan waxed paper wrapping of the Energy Gem.  I had never tried one of these, but its homemade-looking label attracted me also.  It seemed to say "All our attention is on making a great food thing, not on luring you in with slick packaging.  We just wrapped this up in a piece of old-fashioned sandwich paper and slapped on this unpretentious label."  I unwrapped it when I got home and took a little taste.  Pretty dense and serious.  Definitely not as enjoyable as a dark chocolate almond and sea salt Kind bar, but very earnest and healthy-seeming with all those sprouted seeds and a big squashed cranberry on top.  As dense as a hockey puck, it will take a few miles of hiking to work my way through this thing.  Package= food I think.
Well the Energy Gem might be dense and homely, but it tastes okay-- in contrast to this poor thing.  Last week Maya and I caved and bought not one but two new-to-us energy bar things because we loved the sheep drawing on the package.  The bar was called something like "Lamb Snack" and it tastes like what I imagine bird suet would taste like-- greasy and seedy and gamey as well as unpleasantly minty.  The white streak that runs vertically is congealed fat.  The thing smells like a dog treat.  So  Maya and I carefully peeled away the great packaging and washed it for future use.  The bar itself we offered to Jesse, a square quarter- inch- sized piece.  Being a cat with very catholic tastes, Jesse gobbled it down but didn't ask for any more.  Definitely packaging > food in this case.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Little Blue Farm Stand

 F and I were walking in her neighborhood after work today and we came across this tiny blue stand by the side of the road.  We opened up the front doors and found a handful of pretty green beans  and a can for money along with prices for tomatillas and a few other items.  There was no price for beans, but I put a couple of dollars in the can and took about half the beans.  F said the stand belongs to a neighbor's child and it's an honor system operation.  Very sweet!