Friday, July 31, 2009

Art 101

Once, at a low point in my life, I received this in the mail from my sister, Georgeanne Sieler (better known as Annie). It helped a lot. I knew that she understood the mountain that I was climbing and she was there for support as well as cheerleading.

And looking at the pieces that she put together to form a whole, I am still so pleased to see it. The influence in my life by the East and the West, the little cat (that would be Willie Dixon, who is still with me) in the right hand corner, how we traveled together and the fact that I needed to let the past just be the past and go on with my life. Annie conveyed all this with this very personal card.

Annie created Art in a 3" x 5" format. I have saved, enjoyed and reflected on this card for many years. To my mind that is what Art does. It instructs and elevates.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cream Cheese

I don't know about you, but I do enjoy cream cheese on my crackers or toast. I used to buy what the store had to offer but after reading the ingredients with my brain, instead of my stomach, I decided that Trader Joe's would be a cleaner product.TJ's did have a much healthier product but the taste was not to my palate. (doesn't that sound high fallutin?). That meant no more cream cheese for me.

Then I remembered that somewhere in my recipe pile, I had a recipe. About 35 years ago I tore it out of a Sunset magazine. I haven't made it in a long time. Like anything that it is old, it needed some tuning up. It has taken 3 times recently to get it to my liking. I make it with non fat milk but I have found that that makes a slightly bitter cheese. The texture is good but the recipe needed more fat. So, this time I used whole 1/2 & 1/2, instead of fat free 1/2 & 1/2. Now, it is fine.

It is very easy. You heat the milk and 1/2 & 1/2 to 120 degrees. Mix in the buttermilk. Set out on your counter (covered but vented) for about a day and a half. When good, firm curds form, pour into a cheese cloth lined colander and drain off the whey, making sure the colander is in a pan or bowl large enough to catch the drippings. Some people drink the whey. I give it to the dogs. Then, cover it with plastic wrap tightly, put in refrigerator for another day. After that, take it out, scrape off cheese into a bowl, add a small amount of salt and then get out the crackers.

There are a lot of herbs you can add for an extra treat. I have been adding pimentos.
I used 1 1/4 quart non fat milk and 1 cup 1/2 & 1/2. But this is the beauty of making something for yourself, you can please yourself!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Kitten Up Date

The weekend is over and I worked in the shop, people came over for the Dog Club and it wasn't till yesterday afternoon that I could work on my purse project. So I have nothing to show and it wouldn't be fair to show something that isn't done. When a person is sewing. partial demos don't really show the idea or the path. Also, I am at a point with the purse, that I must pause and decide.
So, by saying all that, here are the kittens. Not Kittens? But of course, they will always be my kittens! I know they are getting full size. I hardly ever see them on this ottoman anymore. But they were in a togetherness mode!
Besides, it was a lazy Sunday for them!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Matter of Taste

One goes through life assuming that taste or ideas of beauty are more or less universal. There is a Bell Curve on beauty. But from my discussion yesterday, my thoughts have changed.
I found this dried
remnant of Grape Ivy in my yard. The plant is on a fence and it grows, and grows, and grows. But this one piece was not cleared up from the last pruning. I picked it up and looked at it, really looked at it. The beauty was amazing. Here was something that was once alive and now had died. But the beauty was still there.
enthusiastically showed it to this another person. This other person looked and they looked hard like I did. But they just couldn't see the beauty. That is bewildering as well as wonderful. It makes this world larger bigger, large enough to encompass many more things than my mind will ever encounter. Now if I can incorporate that idea into my everyday life, my life will be bigger and more wonderful.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Best Photos

It is hell when the best photos that I have taken were about 30 years ago. Somehow I was able to capture every one's personality. The caring that my darling niece had for my son has sustained itself till now. The excitement of my son is apparent in both photos. And with my nephew, it shows the competition that they both felt even then.

This is what the books talk about, when the address the taking photos of people. So, all I can do is start all over again and try to channel the feeling.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Rely on the "Bounty" of Strangers

Aren't these beautiful? They taste as good as they look! I did not grow them but a friend, who grew up on a farm in Nebraska, did. He told me of his secret. In the fall, he covered up his vegetable plot with all the leaves he could collect. He said that he had over 6 inches of leaves. In the spring, he parted only enough of the leaves to plant the tomato seedlings. He does well with tomatoes.
I, on the other hand, have been a dismal failure with tomatoes. It appears that the ground needs to be re-invested every year with lots of manure or compost. I thought that I had done that but evidently not enough. They would start to grow but something would get them every time. And year by year the crop would get smaller and smaller.
So (thanks to Hollywood and Blanche Dubois) I rely on the kindness of strangers.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Karma, The Book

Recently, I was cleaning or at least moving things around and dusting shelves where the books reside. It is a dangerous deal to get me next to books, as the job may or may not get done. That is, whether I find something really interesting, or I haven't read it yet. This time, I did not get the job done.
On a very high shelf, where there weren't any books, something caught my eye. Way in the back of the shelf, where I could barely see, was a package. It was a very slim, thin package in plastic. When I pulled it out, I could still not see what was inside. Naturally I got off the step stool. With the package in my hand, I sat down. And what I found was this very old book. I had never seen it before and knew nothing about it. It seemed very fragile and since it appeared to be over 100 years, it was delicate.
I live in my parents house. I thought I had cleared all the shelves and closets and knew what was in my house. But no, here was the treasure.
My father had very esoteric interests. He was an engineer, a photographer in his younger days with his own darkroom, a designer and an astrologer.
So, one of the remnants of his life was this book. I have no idea who he bought it from or if he received it as a gift.
Please enjoy the dedication of Leo Tolstoy and the beautiful photos of some of the drawings included in the book.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Next Project

I don't know if I enjoy the planning or the actual work of a new project. With the planning, I get to think about how I will work the fabric and how to adorn the purse and that is a lot of fun. I can go this way and use this sort of handle or I can go that way and put stones on it and it all is in the panorama of my mind. The actual sewing ends up making it into "stone" and what if I hate it. When that happens, it goes into the bottom drawer for retrieval at some future date.
This is what I plan on for this weekend: these lovely pieces of silk, combined to make a small clutch bag. I will find some semi-precious stones to adorn it and it will become a "Dinner Bag".
Right now, this is how I am thinking. Come this weekend, who knows?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Day is Early, the Thoughts......

The day is early and the thoughts are long and yearning. Sometimes I wake with this yearning to call my sister. Maybe it is the dreams of the night that provoke this feeling, I have never pinned it down.
When we were young, between 18-20, we would go to coffee houses and sit and talk about the boys we were dating, a dress I was making, her play at college that she was in, a fight with our parents. Just regular talk that girls have with each other.
Along came our late thirties and early forties. We both had the burdens of life weighing us down. And in the mail I received this card and the enclosed poem. My sister was always writing, writing poems, love letters to her family, journaling. She always used the written word to express her inner self. I have kept them all.
This painting by Edward Hopper expresses the connection that we had. Each girl leaning into the other with the urgency of communication. This is what we experienced. We listened to each other when no one was talking.
Because of the unexplained emptiness that one feels in Edward Hopper's paintings, he is my favorite painter. I have driven down early morning streets and felt like an escapee from "Nighthawks". The aloneness that he addresses is speaking to me. I did have the fortune of seeing "Nighthawks" at the Pasadena Art Museum many years ago. It is not a large painting (approx 17" x 30") but it certainly looms large in the consciousness.
My card has faded in the passing years but the feelings of those days are still beautiful and clear.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Next Time I Will Iron the BackGround!

I was so excited last night, when I finally finished this purse, that I couldn't wait to iron the sheet. I do apologize for the wrinkled distraction. But, after almost two months of work, I am done. I learned many things along the way. I have worked slowly, so that the purse itself could say how to proceed. That is what happened. I would go one way and I would have to rip out and go the other way. It was curious. But the fun I had in making this purse was paramount to the completion. I love the color Red. And when all the many items came together, it formed a whole. And the reason the sheet isn't iron is because the daylight was fading and I wanted natural light to photograph this. This is red tweed Wool and red Leather. I just got the red Leather two weeks ago when my darling niece and I went to the FIDM Scholarship store. It was a little tiny piece but the color was so wonderful that I scooped it up and ran home with it.

I made the shoulder strap wide, as a design statement. But because it is wide, it does not stay on the shoulder easily. This is what I planned to do. I created a little friction by interweaving strips of the leather. And as a final gesture of freedom, I added the baubles on the end to create tassels. The yellow stone is American Amber, the beads are Indian Silver. It makes a lovely clicking sound when I walk with the purse on my shoulder. The inside is lined with navy blue Velvet and navy blue Satin. My photo of the lining came to late in the day and it does not show very well.

And the following photo is my photographic helper, Chester.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Attraction of Jewels from the Sea

There aren't a lot of gems from the Sea but there are some significant ones. I think that we would all agree that Pearls are very special. In a way, reflecting our own gestation as creatures. A grain of sand is planted into the Oyster and the the Oyster takes care of it until it is ready to be "born" in the light. A rather fanciful way of looking at it but then the Pearl is a rather fanciful gem. The layers of colors that are reflected in the light. It draws me closer and I want to hold it up and turn it around to see all the variants of color. And the variety of colors of the Pearls are seemingly endless. The Brown, Black, Pink, Cream, Ivory, White, Violet and Lavender are very beautiful. I have even seen a Brass Gold string of Pearls. Hard for most people to wear but if one had the right complexion, what a knock out!

Here is my Saturday offering of the bewitching Pearl. I love Black Pearls. When I received all of my uncle's Gems, there were these small Black Pearls of various colors. I picked out all the different colors, so when I looked at the bracelet I could enjoy the variety of colors. The band is Silver and I hammered it into the shape of my wrist.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Darling Penelope

I had posted this photograph of sweet Penelope emptying my pen mug. Penelope took each item out the the mug and dropped it into the waste paper basket. Fortunately, I watched this going on and was able to retrieve every item before emptying the whole basket into the trash can. I thought, at the time, isn't she a sweet, clever, little, dear for doing such endearing habits. Since that time, I have gotten to know her a lot better. I mean a lot better. I don't deny that she isn't sweet or beautiful. She is all that. But she also gives Chester a hard time, bosses him around, chooses the best of the food, demands that I cook chicken for her, meows for 1/2 & 1/2 (and gets it!). She is a girl that knows her own mind.

This is what I found her doing this morning:

There was Penelope, pulling all the pins out, one by one. Fortunately, I found all the pins and safety pins on the floor (I hope). She was really enjoying herself. I was terrified. My pin cushion is now safely tucked away in a drawer.
Oh well!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Oh, I Have a Frog in My Soap!!!!

How did that little froggie get in my soap? Will it be O.K.? My granddaughter is attending Science Camp and I think that it would be fun to go as well. But I don't pass the age requirements. This is one of the items that she made last week. And I haven't figured out if she will be offended if I don't use it and just look at it or go ahead and use it. Here I am back to another decision.
Also, this photo is the very first that I have tried to edit. I am getting familiar with the effects that I can create. It is a first for Lucy making soap and me for editing a photo. Wow!
Both soaps have frogs in them. That is very funny!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Quandary of Decisions

This three day weekend, I have listened to a book on tape while I was sewing. This is a photo of my ipod and a little speaker deal that I had in the shop. I find wearing headsets or ear buds extremely painful after about 20 minutes. And this way, with the speaker, I can move around without the cords catching on anything. I am listening to "How to Make a Decision" by Jonah Lehrer. It is terrific and interesting and I am on my second time through. Now, what I find funny about the weekend sewing and the book on tape is that I have a hard time coming to decisions. I go this way and that way and finally I just wait till the stone hits the bottom of my stomach. Then I move. But the "why" is what this book addresses. Truly fascinating to one who deals with this "situation" and has difficulties.
This is where I came to when I needed to make a decision. What to do next? "Do I sew in the lining and then attach the strap outside or should it go inside". But the other voice in my head said "Yes, but if you do either of these moves and then want to change it, you may not be able to go back and fix it". So, I was at a stalemate. Yikes

Here I where I have come to a decision on how I was to proceed. I had the red Tweed for the the outside of the purse and the navy blue Velvet lining for the inside. But before I could go any further, I had to decide on the strap. That was the problem. I have this beautiful red leather piece but I only have enough for the strap and I can't decide how to make the strap.

This was the next decision. The stopping point. The point where I needed to construct in my mind the different ways it could be done. In a nutshell, I was doing exactly what the book addresses....I was thinking too much.
However, to end on a high note, overnight, while I was asleep, I came to a conclusion and did proceed.
But that will be the next chapter!
And listening to books on tape is wonderful fun, while sewing.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Lovely Gift for Ungrateful Cats

Los Destructos received a very lovely gift this week. Actually it was for me but their cousin thought it might lighten the weight of these predatory animals if they had more play time.
My darling niece brought this climbing toy down to brighten my futures days. We put it together as fast as we could but Chester said that it wasn't really fast enough. But now is "All's well", according to "Himself". I think he spent last night on it to make sure it was still here this morning.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

One of My Favorite Scuptures

This is one of my favorite sculptures that my uncle, Patrick Dennis Sieler did. He was living in Tucson at the time of it's creation. I did not get to see it until after his death. When I opened the box that it came in, I almost lost my breath. The power of this creation just about overwhelmed me. I sat on the floor with the wrappings and the box and just held this up in front of my eyes, turning around and around and around.

I immediately saw a story in this beautiful creation.

The above image is the Conquistador, maybe Cortez. This image is cruel and unforgiving. I try to put myself into the mindset of the invaders. They come to this land and the people are pagans. They are savages or perhaps little better than animals. The Conquistadores do not need to respect these people, just savage the people and the land. I cannot hold this image in my mind for long but I see it in the sculpture.

Here is the Aztec. He is proud of his place in the Universe. His people have done many wonderful things. Many cruel and inhuman things by our standards but we are not to look at the Aztec by modern day standards, only how they see the world. They have a very fine organized culture. People live and thrive. The Arts thrive. And here is where I have my Achilles heel. Anywhere the Arts thrive, I tend to feel that the people have more abilities. And this is where I cannot forgive the white man, who came to pillage. For the most part, they could not see the beauty of what they looked at, only the gleam of gold.

And here is the aftermath of the white man's doing. They brought Small Pox, death, famine. They took possession of a land and changed it forever. Was is it for better? That is not for me to say, but I do regret what was done the culture and the disrespect to a whole race and culture.
As you can see, this sculpture brings a lot of feelings to me and makes me think, and it challenges the mind. That is what true art can do the human mind.

This is bronze is 10" x 5", Patrick Dennis Sieler