Friday, 29 June 2007

NO Orange Flowers, EVAH!

For some reason I have never liked the color orange. I hate being a color snob and I realize that there is no real inherent difference between one color and any other (they are all results of particular light wavelengths and orange falls right between red and yellow two colors that I happen to like very much!). As an artist I also realize that there are thousands of different shades of orange, that intensity and hue are variable, that there can be very pleasing combinations of colors with orange and that any color changes depending on the colors beside it and the color of light reflected upon it. You know what? I still don't like orange!

So, when I was planning my flower beds I was very careful to control the color palette in the garden and of course I forbade any orange flower of any kind to be within 30 yards of my gardens. I designed a lovely pink bed, a yellow and blue one. I copied a garden from Garden Design that would match my yellow house exterior and maroon door. (For that one I spent a fortune on expensive plants that never grow and never seem to bloom). The result for all of these gardens has been utter mediocrity. My pride and joy has been a white and red garden in the front yard. I carefully planted red pinks and white daisies and balloon flowers. There are daylilies and lilies in shades of red and white and four different peonies with matching shades. Here are some pictures of that particular garden.

Even though all those lily bulbs were clearly labelled RED - this is what I got. As you can see, nature has a mind of its own and seems detemined to stamp out prejudice through integration. It seems to be working. I wonder how orange marigolds would look in the front of the border.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Art Car Update

As some of you know, last Spring I allowed a College Art class to help me paint my Honda and turn it into an art car. Of course we worked on it all class long and then when the class was over. I drove home in my half-painted art car. I had promised my art teacher I would finish it up and register for the art car parade in Mid July. While one out of two aint bad! It has been so beastly hot of late that I simply have not wanted to paint, so with the cooler temperature today, I decided I had better get to work. This is pretty much what had been finished in my art class. (Today I put centers in the flowers, but otherwise the bats and vines were already completed.)

The hood (which is black because we hit a deer once coming home from the opera) needs more work. Last time I worked on the car I started the Maharajah and finished the woman on the left. I still have another complete figure, a cat and the rest of the Maharajah's fur coat to do on this part.

Today, however, I concentrated on the passenger's side of the car. It had been left the most incomplete from our first session. The bat near the rear of the car and the red flowers had been painted, but most of the vines had to be done along with the second bat.

That is what I accomplished today.

Eat to Live, But Enjoy It

Yes, I have been gaining weight. I sit far too much these days (and spend far too much time at this computer and on this blog.) I've developed plantar fascitis in my feet and it makes walking uncomfortable, so my usual very active lifestyle has been impaired.

Yesterday my husband very innocently asked me if I was over 200 pounds. He is a wonderful loving person and does not realize the implication of his question in psychical pain. Let me explain - I am under five foot two and would have to gain quite a bit of weight to reach the magic 200 point (Let me just add here that I don't have any problem with people being over 200 pounds or overweight - but I really want to lose weight so I don't have to have knee surgery or diabetes like my mother.) The point is I have been struggling with my weight and my husband has vastly overestimated the degree of obesity in which I have enveloped myself.

You can see that I love to complain, but there are times when the world around me administers a gentle dope slap to remind me that I am indeed very fortunate and a little poundage here or (and) there does not a nuclear holocaust make. In fact everything around me speaks of peacefulness and calm. I live in a rural area and work at a college campus in the midst of the woods. Not only did I see wild turkeys on my way to work yesterday, but also some other wonderfully harmonic scenes. I am not always as quick with the camera as I would like and only got this next image from a considerable distance.

Here is a slightly closer detail:

Yes, it was a mother deer with a faun that couldn't be more than a few weeks old. The father is grazing watchfully on the right.

At the moment, our campus is full of visitors that put ripples in the tranquility of the place: Parents wanting to see where their children will be coming to school, visiting scholars for conferences, first year students being oriented. As I passed one of the many immaculately groomed flower beds, something out of place caught my eye. Nothing seemed to move, but as I focused my eyes I noticed a slight oscillation:

Indeed, it was an ear twitch and a masticating jaw line.

At first I thought he must be yet another incursion from beyond, yet no one around me seemed even to notice his presence. I thought ruefully about the beautiful flowers that were no doubt being decimated by this mangy pest and wondered if I should seek legal intervention against this blatant floral pillaging. It also occurred to me that the University should consider using this marauder's image as a marketing ploy, emblazoning his image on a poster stating: "Everyone's welcome here!" That would be more typical of the compassion showed by the monastery that is my employer.

Then I took a closer look at what the invisible invader was eating:

It was clover! I would not need to alert the legal authorities, and would not have the guilt of a leporidic soul on my karmic balancesheet. The flowers would be unassaulted, the garden would remain lovely and inviting for the guests. I was pleased to know this little secret and may have slightly winked in the bunnie's direction as he turned and headed for home. I'm not sure, but I think he returned a wave of his tail as he disappeared into the brush.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

In Honor of Witty Wednesday

ChrisB always posts jokes on Wednesdays. Instead of demonstrating my total inability to tell jokes, I thought I'd simply post an amusing photo I took a few days ago.

A Fine Mess

Not a good day. You know how you can psyche yourself into thinking all kinds of bad things? Your partner is seven and a half minutes late on the way home and you already have him/her lying lifeless in a ditch, neck broken and intestines strewn across the roadway, or you chip a nail and know that the whole day, well maybe the entire month, is going to be full of imperious doom!

Well, it was hot and muggy yesterday and yesterday morning when I went down to give the dog a bathroom break - something just wasn't right. I should preface all this with the explanation that my beloved Bart has been diagnosed with an enlarged spleen. It is likely that the organ will just keep growing until it bursts and all his blood starts hemorrhaging into his body cavity and the inevitable end ensues. The vet said when this ghastly event occurs, we will notice pale white gums. So when I arrived at the kennel, the poor dog would not stand up and I practically jammed my hands into his esophagus in my haste to check out his very pale gums! I was sure the time had arrived and was overcome with remorse for all the walks he didn't get and all the treats I had prevented my husband from giving him. Of course a few minutes later he stood up to lick my tear-stained face and I realized I was being an utter idiot. He was fine. His gums are naturally light pink - his tongue was bright red all his blood was exactly where it should be! - It was just beastly hot and nobody in her right mind moves around unneccessarily at 90+ degrees. So I got out Bart's swimming pool (a 3x2 foot plastic tub for feeding pigs (I think)) and filled it with cool water and left him splashing happily in his pool. You better believe he is getting a special walk at the trail this afternoon!

Okay, so here is the real tragedy. I finally finished the last row on the endless baby blanket! Here it is in all its glory.

Looks great, you might say - what is your problem?

Try it from this perspective!

Yes, there are not just one, but two fewer leaves on the top row than on the other three. I can hardly express how completely frustrated I was! I had to get out of the tropical stuffy house for a moment so I went out into the even hotter daylight and down to get the bills. As I opened the mail box, stewing in my own juices, I discovered an unexpected object. My friend Neroli had sent me some lovely rose scented tea. So now this morning I sit here on another scorchingly miserable day, thinking about my dog who is playing in his splashing pool, and I am drinking a cup of rose tea. The mercury is rising mercilessly and I'll be sitting today with a hot baby blanket in my lap as I rip and painfully reknit the top border, but as I listen to the splashing of my dog and sip that delicately scented gift of tea, I realize it is hot and oh so much sweeter than before. Maybe it is not such a bad day after all.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Shelfish Thoughts - Fun Monday

Today's fun Monday assignment - brought to you by Swamp Witch is to show our book shelves or any other shelves - but not to clean or organize them - just show the real thing. I think she wants us to reveal all our ugly little secrets - one is supposed to be able to read the titles of the books in the picture, but of course I have so many bookcases of books that this would be a sad blog if all I did was show images of the thousands of tomes in our house. If its a classic we probably have it, or if it is about JFK, is a murder mystery by John Dickson Carr or is a paperback about a mass murderer or conspiracy. Instead of showing rows of boring books, I am going to show representative shelves.

To start off, here is a shelf in our living room. The decor is light yellow and royal blue, so these shelves help establish the color scheme. My sister, Mindy, gave me the monkey for Christmas. He screams when you press his foot. So do I. The shelves contain the cook books, plant books and home improvement books, essentially the books I never use anymore since I've given up cooking or ever having an improved home! I still plant things every year, because I kill plants every year. The books don't really seem to help.

These shelves can be found to the left of my computer in my work room. They house the weaving books and toys. You'll see Japanese wooden dolls, the Lost in Space Robot and Kwan Yin on those shelves between giant plastic spiders and Buffy action figures. The shelves are cluttered and show the true state of my mind. No doubt the blog should end here as these shelves epitomize the essence of my being.

Here are shelves from the room I call the library. it is a huge cavernous and dark chamber in the basement, where I house the classics. You'll find Plato's cave, The Bacchae, Wuthering Heights and Mansfield Park all together down there along with all kinds of historical books, and great English literature. (Most of my German and French literature is in my office.) Those are cat figures on top of the book shelves. We have quite a collection between the two of us.

Some of the philosphers are in this case that has a few of my skeleton toys on top. The paintings are by my mother Lynn.

I can go on endlessly. The library has unending shelves on three walls and there are also book shelves in the two other downstairs room and a whole wall of shelves in the living room that I photographed but have not shown. They all look pretty much the same!

What else could Swamp Witch want to see? The Pantry? Hmmm. My husband has been organizing down there - so things are pretty orderly. I think he is reliving childhood glories by trying to set up a fall-out shelter type environment. I'm not sure, but I think I"d prefer radiation poisoning to having to eat all those canned beans and water chestnuts, still if that is what makes a house a home, then bring on the C rations and bottled water!

This set of shelves is above the kitchen work area. You can see the ubiquitous Lord of the Ring Action figures which over flow all rooms and closets. They keep hoping to find their way back to Hobbiton, but so far they are imprisoned in the Modor of our closets and shelf tops! Every once in a while a hobbit kamikazes down on me from the shelves, but I always capture him and replace him on Mount Doom, poor thing!

After taking the above picture I was a bit appalled by the excess of stuff in the cabinet,so even though it was against the rules, I cleaned it out and threw out a grocery bag full of 20 year old tea and chocolates left over from Christmas/Holiday before last. Even with the reduction in stuff, there was no more space in the cabinet. Like housework (which always expands to fill whatever time one has available) the contents of cabinets swell to fit the space available minus 1/3.

My mother-in-law is coming to visit this week - I hope I can keep this one little part of my life clean until she arrives and then force her to notice the only clean area in the house!

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Nut Weevils Don't Get No Respect!

My friend Neroli challenged me to come up with a monument of equivalent beauty for the humble Acorn weevil since it is such a neglected and unappreciated bug. I am alas unequal to the task. The Alabama Bollweevil monument is just SO incredible, but here is what I could come up with: (Feel free to click on the image to enlarge it to its full glory!)

Friday, 22 June 2007

And The Answer Is...

Well, after a flurried exchange with the Department of Natural Resources, a kindly soul named Luke was able to disabuse me of my fears that the boll weevils were invading Minnesota (In short, he thought I was crazy - (so what else is new?) but was very Minnesota nice about it.) It turns out what I saw was a snout weevil of some kind. (Seems imminently logical!) After looking around the web I was able to locate some Unversity entomology sites that give me a reasonable idea of what I might have. Bless University of Michigan and Texas A and M!

Luke explained to me that the bollweevil has spikes on his legs, while the Acorn and Nut weevils have smooth, shapely legs.

(Remember the entomologists (portrayed by Dan Butler and Paul Lazar) on Silence of the Lambs playing chess with the beetles?)

Enough said.

Maybe not enough said - Here is the Boll Weevil Monument mentioned in the Commetns! Pretty Amazing! I definitely need to make a pilgrimmage there some day!

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Random Act of Kindness

I've been kind of down lately and look what spousal unit Don brought me!!

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Me and My Big Mouth UPDATED PROOF!

Okay. Now I'm in trouble. I told Bichonpawz over at Bermudabluez that my dog looks like hers- and it's true to someone with a really BIG imagination (with emphasis on the big! ) As you might imagine, BP has the most adorable Bichon that she features in her blog. It is a cute, little, white dog, with a little black button nose -adorable, beautifully groomed and full of character. My dog has a black nose - so I think they look a lot alike.

Here is a photo of Bichonpawz' dog Chloe on her website (By the way this is not the best picture of her dog - check out her blog to see Chloe in her full glory. Link above):

Are you ready? Here is mine. Yeah, I hear you say you can make any drawing look like another dog. (Well, isn't that the point?)

Okay here is another picture of him after I accidentally over dosed him on valium yesterday because of a big thunderstorm. (It is a long story and I feel really really guilty even though I was following vet orders.) Do you see the resemblance? White dog, black nose! Yup, they could be twins (alright Bart the sheep dog could be Chloe's country cousin - he's a diamond in the rough!)

Here is a better comparison:

Okay, I admit it, there is a reason my sister calls me "Nutso" on her blog!

(Bart is a Great Pyrennese Mountain Dog By the Way).

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

An Image for ChrisB

(Regarding the post below: The insect IS as Pamela suggests - a boll weevil - I have contacted our Department of Natural Resources to see what it is doing up here and if there is cause for concern. I've never seen them here before!)

I have a meeting in about 20 minutes, but I wanted to get another Tree Root picture up for ChrisB. This one is greatly cropped and manipulated,but I am a bit happier with it than with the earlier versions. I will probably work with the image some more, but in the mean time here is another variation on her tree.

Monday, 18 June 2007

What's This?

I found this crawling on my arm! It is small (maybe 1/4 inch long) and weird looking! (I'm sure it shares that opinion about me too!

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Fun Monday - Not Quite Off the Wall

Brought to you by Return of the White Robin

It is very hard for me to narrow down what to post on this blog. The topic is things that hang on our walls and I hang many, many things on the walls. Here is a small representative sample. These are silver cha cha slippers in a dark area near the entrance. I thought If I could bring some light in, it might cheer the area up.

This is a painting my mother did of Mindy and her family. Lynn is a wonderful painter and more of her work can be seen at this site .

I have a large collection of masks from all over the world. This one covers (mostly) the tackiest wall thermometer in existence. I have lots of toys dangling from the ceiling - some sit close to the wall like this cat on a spring swing.

As you pass the divider between the kitchen and dining area - you will see these objects on the edge of the divider. The small photo is of my dead father laughing.

This is a mask from Mexico with a fingert puppet I got from Christmas. Below is a mask I bought in Japan.

Here are some of my action figures. I have a few!

The figure on the right is a lamp with flickering electric bulbs. He can be quite menacing when lit (Can't we all!?)

When I made this, I intended it as a wall bird feeder for out doors, but it still needs to be glazed, so it is in the house for now.

Embarrassingly - these can be found behind the bedroom door!

Coloring ChrisB's Roots

Some time back (June 2nd actually) Chris B issued a challenge to her readers in general and me in particular and because I had just gotten back from our trip to Texas, I had somehow missed the throwing of the gauntlet. Under most circumstances, this would be a good thing - but under any circumstances it smacks (haha) of rudeness to be addressed and refuse a polite answer, SO after a gentle nudge I am doing the gentle(wo)manly thing and responding.

The challenge is as follows:

Take Chris B's picture of this fallen tree and turn it to an even more spectacular image using photoshop elements or whatever.

Here is the image (It is slightly truncated because her image was too large for my dial up modem to capture. You can see the original image and challenge HERE ).

I'll warn you, this one is harder than it looks because of the complexity of the image. I will post a couple of weak attempts today and then there will be Fun Monday and then I will turn my efforts to this more seriously during the course of the week.

Failure Number 1:

And here is Failure Number 2

The difficulty I see with this image is that it needs a stronger focal point - so I am going to have to cogitate on this a bit (Hear that, Mindy?) and will get back to the physical after a bit of the cerebral. I'm sure at least a couple of my readers will be willing to give this a try!!