Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy New Year!

This lovely poem was translated and sent to me by a reader, Christa Weitbrecht. She gave me permission to share it with you all, as we enter a bright new year.

Recipe for a Happy New Year
by Katharina Elisabeth Goethe
(Mother of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

Take twelve months;
Clean them thoroughly from bitterness, avarice, pedantery, and fear,
Cut each month into thirty or thirty-one equal parts,
So that this stock will last for a whole year.

Each part will be prepared separately
And arranged with one part of working and two parts of cheerfulness and good humour,
Then three big spoons heaped with optimism are added ,
As well as one small spoon of tolerance,
One grain of irony and a pinch of tactfulness.
Finally everything will be flavoured abundantly with lots of love.

It is recommended to adorn this dinner
with small bouquets of attentiveness
and serve it daily with serenity
and a cup of good revitalizing tea.

Thank you so much, Christa, and I raise my cup of good revitalizing tea to you all to wish you a wonderful and productive 2012!

(The clock photo was taken in the Waltham, MA clockworks museum.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas....

...from our Home to yours!
Our Christmas may necessarily come sooner than yours, though, as Gus began tearing the paper off the packages under the tree last night. He may have decided that, as none are marked as his, he will just claim them all! His isn't there yet, because he can always sniff it out and refuses to wait until a certain day or hour to claim it. Perhaps he was looking for it.

May your Christmas be merry and bright. And may you have time to sit and sip whatever it is you like to sip, and to enjoy the quiet wonder of the season.

Friday, December 16, 2011

'Slower than molasses in winter....'

(Now that I am a grandmother myself, I guess I feel quite comfortable using those old sayings I remember my grandmother using!)
Anyway, that is how this tapestry is going... slowly, slowly; like molasses in winter.

It feels quite right for me to be weaving 'mother and child' during this celebration season.The actual tapestry is a bit different than this photo of the maquette, but close enough that you can tell where I am. Still not too far along, I am about 3-4 inches up the tapestry body. I'm weaving fabric, in several meanings of the term. I always like weaving a tapestry of 'fabric.' It seems somehow fitting. Fabric about fabric.

This is the geranium that refused to bloom all summer long on my porch. Now that it is inside, it is blooming a bouquet all the time! It is in a south window, with bright light filtered through the lace curtain, near the warm radiator, and in the room with a humidifier running all the time (for my guitar), so no wonder it's happy! A bit of bright winter cheer each morning. I wish the same for you... bright winter cheer each day!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A slice of my life....

Wake up, feet!
It snowed last night. Not much snow... maybe just sno... or even sn....
(Hey, this is Colorado. We only have one word for the white stuff; and it's either worth getting out the skis and snowshoes for, or it's not. Today's is not.)

Books, camera, music stand. Must be where I live!

Where I meet friends, drink coffee, and occasionally shop.

Eye spy...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gus, Santa's little helper....

Actually, he usually ends up climbing the tree, and knocking the ornaments off. He is probably picking his victims as he sits demurely looking at it. "Ah, just wait until they leave the room. That antique glass ball is history!"

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fast away the old year passes....

Here it is December already. All the things I wanted to do in the 365 days, 52 weeks, and 12 long months of 2011 now must be compressed into the few days left, if they are to be accomplishments of this year.

Sigh. Oh the novels that have gone unwritten, the tapestries unwoven, the canvas unpainted, the days unsaved. But wait, I have yet three and a half weeks in which to still save the day!

This is the thing about December: it is not enough to celebrate the major holiday of the year, to shop and ship and bake and decorate. We also must deal with the waning year and all the promises to ourselves that are yet unkept. And we must still meet the daily requirements of work and home and of keeping ourselves and our loved ones warmed, inside and out. Oh, December, do you not demand too much of me? I mull over the month as I mull a cup of hot cider. I will drink both down with as much enjoyment as I can muster.

Even the darkest of Decembers have beauty to notice and savor. Even the most overloaded days have a moment or two to 'save the day,' for yourself or for someone who needs it even more. And soon I will sit and revel over the accomplishments I have made in this past year. But not yet. I'm thinking I still have a bit of time to add to that list first....

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Holidays a-bloom....

My Christmas cactus is blooming on this Thanksgiving morning! (That is a chocolate pecan pie in front of the bread box, by the way.)

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends and family. May you be blessed with the awareness of all the good in your life on this day of giving thanks.

And may we all be blessed with peace and joy throughout the oncoming holiday season.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Decisions and choices...

I know. It doesn't look like I have done much on these tapestries. And I haven't progressed very far, just a bit more than an inch on each of them. But each of those little bits of weaving represent a lot of thought, and many choices and decisions.

As I am 'beginning again,' weaving the start of the tapestry bodies, I have had to decide a lot of things: how much texture does the fox area need to look fox-like? And should the sheep be physically textured or just visually textured? How can I keep the rhythm of dark/light (chiaroscuro) going between the fabric and the animals? How dark should the darkest shadows on the fabric be, and how light should the lightest highlights be? Can I weave 'straw?'

So there was a lot of work, and even a bit of unweaving, in these few inches. They represent two weeks of work. Sad.... but true.

In my non-weaving time, I am knitting and sewing grand-children holiday gifts. Fun!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

'The thinginess of things....'

Sylvia Plath has been quoted as saying, "If I could paint, I would want to paint things. I love the thinginess of things."

I also love the 'thinginess of things,' and I love that phrase! I think of it when I paint,or even photograph, a still life.

Today I thawed out my paints and did this painting. It is a bit of an irony, as it is an oil painting of a watercolor palette and a cup of dirty paint water. It is 9"x12".

I have heard jurors and art critics call amateur painters "Sunday painters" with a distinct snub in their tone when they say it. I seem to have become a "Sunday painter." I won't apologize for it, nor do I think anyone should, if they can only paint on the weekend or in spare bits of time. Better on a Sunday afternoon than never, I say! While I am weaving through the weekday work times, I can't get out the paints. My painting studio and my weaving studio are one and the same, just on opposite sides of the room. Going back and forth between the two mediums involves a lot of clean-up, not to mention a completely different mindset. So, for now at least, I am quite delighted to have a hour or two on Sunday afternoon to put paint to canvas.

Reluctantly, I will now stick my palette back in the freezer, hoping that I'll have a bit of time, and the inspiration of 'the thinginess' of something or other, to bring me back to the easel next Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The next step: Nativity tapestries....

In spite of horrid migraines the past 2 days (weather related?) I have enlarged and drawn up the cartoons for the upper portions of the two Nativity tapestry panels. The poor quality of the photo (and the cheesy vintage paneling) are because I did it in the basement, as the rest of the house was just 'too bright.' (Which is actually funny, if you've ever been in an Arts and Crafts house with wide eaves!)

Anyway,weather and head willing, I will be ready to proceed with the weaving of these on Monday. In the meantime, we will be heading back up to the mountains to cut more wood before the snow keeps us from being able to get back into the forest.

I love it when I am at this stage of a tapestry, (or in this case, two tapestries.) When the only thing between now and the cutting off is a lot of time at the loom. Winter is setting in... perfect weaving time! I will try to keep you posted on the progress of the weaving, but posting about weaving an inch or two, while it may be significant to me and may have involved a lot of time and work, just seems like posting 'breathing reports' sometimes.

In the meantime, leave me a comment to let me know you are visiting me and to let me know what YOU are up to! I know there is surely a world out there beyond these studio walls...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Peace border...

If you are interested in the spiritual symbolism in the lower right border of the Nativity tapestries, you can find more about it here.

Monday, October 31, 2011


I came home from New England with a nasty fall cold. It has been a chore to motivate myself to do anything, so I have been 'dangling carrots' in front of myself, with the promise that, if I keep moving, I will reward myself.

The thing I needed to keep moving towards was the completion of the lower borders of the Nativity tapestries. I finished these up yesterday! So next I will need to enlarge the cartoons for the upper tapestries. But I promised myself that, when the weaving on the borders was completed, I would take a bit of weaving time off and I would paint something. I haven't painted anything except small travel watercolor sketches since mid-May! I wasn't certain I'd even know how to hold the brush!

So yesterday, I determined I'd paint a small 'unimportant' painting. I decided not to do anything large, so I prepped an 8"x10" canvas. And I didn't want to paint an image that was meaningful or special to me, as I didn't want to 'ruin' it, having not painted for so long. So I chose a pretty trite and simple subject; a barn on a grey New England fall day. I painted simply for the joy of smushing the paint out of the tubes onto the canvas with my brushes. I delighted in the smell and feel of the process, without having any expectation for the product. So much fun! Even though I did not create a great work of art, I remembered why I love to paint. So now I want to do more of it! I have prepped two more canvases.

Why do we wait so long to do the things we love doing? Yes, I have been pretty busy lately, but I have done other things; I have practiced my guitar, I have kept up with my Words with Friends games, I have exercised, I have read a few books. So I will do an occasional painting, as well. I'm going to try to do at least one small painting each week, even while I am working on the commission tapestry.

Another 'carrot' that has been dangling in front of me is not as 'tasty.' I need to get out into my garden and do some fall clean-up. Looking at the weather forecast, today and tomorrow are the days to do it. So I'll clean my brushes for now, and will stick my wet paint palette in the freezer for another day.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Point of View....

My view of the world, my 'weather-station' and my look-out on the neighborhood and my small world, is from my sitting room window. This is the view today. The view changes with the seasons, but it almost always can undo me with it's simple loveliness.

I played a bit with the photo, and may find the need to paint it someday.

This is the same view that I photographed and posted here long ago. You may recognize it as the source for my "January" tapestry. Perhaps it would be fun to weave the same view in other seasons.... A thought to perk around in my head a bit today.

I hope your day gives you many lovely points of view as this awe-inspiring month of October comes to an end. I will paint with my Alzheimer's artists this morning, then I plan to spend the afternoon at the loom.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

in Search of Autumn...

We went to the east coast, to Massachusetts and to Maine, looking for Autumn. We walked among tall beautiful old trees on foggy roads, treading carpets of colorful leaves.

We saw the cool moist ocean with it's crashing waves.

We carved pumpkins, visited fall festivals, and hiked the woods with our jacket-clad grandchildren.

We saw forest floor ferns that had taken on their autumn cast.

It was all beautiful.

But I knew that I had truly found autumn when we drove down our own street and found that autumn had arrived at our very doorstep while we were away. Welcome HOME to autumn!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Acadia

I love that the US has set aside some of the most beautiful spots in our country to belong to each and all of us, as our National Parks.

So when we visit these places, though we may be surrounded by other people, we can be confident that our experience of the place belongs to us alone. Acadia is my experience of it.

This is my second visit to my Acadia. In my experience, Acadia is cool and moist air, crashing waves, trees growing out of rocky places, and lovely autumn light.

Reflections; beauty worth repeating.

One of the small sketches I did yesterday. (4x5" watercolor)

- Posted from my iPad

Sunday, October 16, 2011


We are in Maine.... the land of moisture, where 'desert' refers to an island, not an arid place of cactus and dry skin.

It is autumn here, which means color and a different slant of light.

The ocean is a huge expanse to a small boy. And to his grandmother.

Fall festivals abound...

...and even the past is beautiful.

It is good to look at the world in a different place, with new eyes, for a short while.

Posted from my iPad

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Yes, I know I mis-spelled it, but when you spend most of a day above the clouds, it seems that the word for such an experience should be more lofty than the same word that is used in such phrases as, 'fight or flight,' or 'she is flighty,' or even 'flight of fancy.'

As we left the wild west and flew out to the culture-vated east, we flew over most every kind of cloud! We flew over roiling stormy clouds, over clouds that looked like waves of water,

over clouds that looked so much like fields of snow you felt certain that you could ski across them,

over a seemingly endless cloud horizon,

and over clouds that Georgia O'Keefe could have painted onto a beautiful mural sized canvas.

Then, when the clouds separated for moments, we saw the white seam where the Great Lakes meet the land...

and tiny houses that I could play Monopoly with,

and finally, the skyline of Boston.

To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, "from there to here, from here to there, marvelous things are everywhere!"

- Posted from my iPad