Saturday, February 28, 2009

Walking slowly at first...

Do you think it was natural causes?

One never knows what will be found in my woods...

One of my goals for 2009 is to get back into better shape and I thought I'd start out by walking every day. One of my favorite blogging artists Leslie Avon Miller has been posting her walk progress in mileage on the sidebar of her blog: textures shapes and colors. I thought it was a neat idea - and one that will challenge me to continue so I am shamelessly copying her idea.

I'm up to (blush) two miles!! Yeah - not much, but I just started a couple days ago, and I got sidetracked. Halfway down my 1/4 mile driveway, I realized I needed to go back for a shovel and clean out the dammed up leaves so that my steep road won't be crisscrossed by flash flooding. After 45 minutes of shoveling gravel and leaves, I 'd had a pretty good workout.

Though NE GA is still in an extreme drought situation, we've had three days of constant rain. The small watering hole in the upper pasture is full and overflowing the red clay banks with red, red water. The horses have clean water in their troughs, but they use this little pond for water sports, splashing and rolling in the muddy water on warm or hot days.

I usually have company on my walks; my goofy dog Frieda, the two Pyrenees, and a few kitty cats. I looked up at what I thought was a squirrel and spied instead a grey tabby fifteen feet up a tree. That's Madeline. She has apparently forgotten the broken leg of last year. Broken in two places, it was a challenge for the vet to pin because of all the small pieces. Maddy came to me from the rent-a-center where I was picking up scaffolding. The guy came out of the warehouse with my locking wheels in one hand and little Maddy in the other - and a sob story about how she was "gonna get squashed" if she stayed around there. So she came home with me and promptly broke her leg. I believe that's called irony. 'nuff said...

It's still winter - and though the trees have begun to blush with buds, the landscape is still rather bleak. But spring is marching out of the woods in the form of little yellow daffodils. These were hunkered down under the logs of a fallen pine that a friend cut up for me. Guess it's time for some spring clean up.

Sometimes it's the air, sometimes it's the smell. Sometimes it's the sound of water, sometimes it's the stillness. It's tapping into the transcendent, and teaching your heart to see it, and making your eyes and hands express it that creates transcendent paintings. - Gil Dellinger

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Clever blogging... John Wright... and yellow

Living in a rural area as I do, I've little access to professional galleries, museums and the art world that I know is out there. Having lived in Philadelphia for many years with its ready access to New York , Washington and Baltimore, I hunger for ART. When I discovered the world of the blogging artist, I realized here was an ever changing gallery with hundreds of artist's works that I could visit any time in order to satisfy my longing for art - and the comradeship of other artists. I follow - and subscribe to posts of many and I am constantly inspired, enchanted and challenged by the work, the writings, and the creative ideas I discover there.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw this post at John Wright's blog "John Wright Art". I was originally drawn to John's blog for a curious reason: I've never cared much for yellow. I read that back - and it sounds absurd. How can an artist dislike a color? The truth of the matter is that I've spent too much time in too-yellow rooms! When I was growing up, yellow was THE color for kitchens. The particular yellow was so often "lemon" - a rather cool and pale imitation of sun and butter and Black-eyed Susan petals. As a child, I never had enough sleep, therefore I spent too many crabby mornings in a yellow kitchen. Perhaps I need therapy... just give me a green room (heh). I find flat pale yellow without the balance of other accents to be very off-putting, to say the least.
Shown above is John Wright's watercolor: "Outside the Pavilion"

When I saw the header image for John's blog, I was struck by the yellows. Sunny, warm, luscious hues of ochre and cadmium and gold - and yes - even lemony yellows. So fitting for the sun-washed beaches he paints. Lovely. And John is giving one away! He's offering the original watercolor shown here to any one of us who shamelessly seeks to have it. There are a few "rules" and one needs to be lucky as well (prolly leaves me out...) ;~( But it's great fun to participate and I'm happy to share John's work.

I recently read a quote about the dangers of yellow in the hands of "amateurs." I wish I could find it, as it's so apropos, but I did find these:

I was for years in the yellow period, you know. - Joseph Albers
Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun. - Pablo Picasso
"What a horrible thing yellow is." --Edgar Degas

This little guy is from my own "yellow period."

While searching for that quotation, I came upon: Color, Meaning, Symbolism and Psychology - a site where one can take a "Color Personality Test" (as if we didn't already know if we had a sunny disposition or a tendency to blue periods...) But I did find this quote to my liking:

"Yellow shines with optimism, enlightenment, and happiness. Shades of golden yellow carry the promise of a positive future. Yellow will advance from surrounding colors and instill optimism and energy as well as spark creative thoughts."

And a quote from me: I'm liking yellow better these days.

Here are a few more of my yellows...

Monday, February 23, 2009

A bit of debris...

I'm doing about 63 mph when I notice it, and I suspend my distance vision from its "defensive driving" sweep and refocus onto... what? A tiny movement had caught my eye... There. Not a bit of debris after all, but a tiny crab-shaped spider clinging desperately to the glass of my aerodynamic windshield. She is a pale yellow-green and in the sun's glare her body appears translucent, as if she had been splattered there the night before, as I first thought. But I can see she is very much alive, her little form being buffeted, her tiny abdomen moving in a minuscule jerky little hula dance as she struggles to hold fast. She (I automatically assume it's a she) is so small she could fit inside the circle of a dime even with all her eight legs outstretched as they are now. In this brief second of my notice, two legs lose purchase and she holds now with only five. At any moment, she may be gone, swept from the glass by pummeling molecules of air.

Almost automatically, I let up on the gas to give her a chance to regrip. I've six miles to go and she'll never make it. I notice a couple of cars behind me, but I had been exceeding the limit by a few mph, so let 'em suffer. At 55 mph we round a curve, the direction of wind shear changing abruptly and - unbelievably - she now holds on by only three legs. How can she possibly do this? What manner of strength and will and magic does she possess? Is this just an average spider? I think: this is a spider worth saving. With two of her tiny legs pinned to one side by the force of air - she reaches and paws, scrambling madly with the remaining three trying to re-establish her hold; I slow to 48 mph.

The two cars behind me have become four; impatient vehicles driven by important people with no time for drama. She's slipping... she pivots and regrips... I nearly lose her just as I see a crossroad ahead and signal to turn right. Several vehicles accelerate around me with attitude as I brake for the turn. Even before I come to a complete stop she is scuttling quickly toward the driver's side window. I lose sight of her as I open my door and emerge from the van - and then I see her. She's peering warily from the rubber gasket lining the door frame, front legs raised in a warning gesture. After what she's just endured, who can blame her? Suddenly she makes a run for the edge of the hood and disappears under the rim, sheltered in the mechanism of the wiper blades. Safe.

Springsteen's Hungry Heart is playing as I put the van in gear and we continue on our way...

If I were to write of my philosophy of life, of what is meaningful and important to me, I could not improve upon the following paragraph from Annie Dillard:

There are many things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises. The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside by a generous hand. But - and this is the point - who gets excited by a mere penny? If you follow one arrow, if you crouch motionless on a bank to watch a tremulous ripple thrill on the water and are rewarded by the sight of a muskrat paddling from its den, will you count that sight a chip of copper only, and go on your rueful way? It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued that he won't stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get.

- Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

I believe with all my heart that everything wrong with modern civilization has to do with greed. I don't really understand what motivates the extreme desire for more, and more, and ever more. Why does a person with a million dollars need ten million or 50 billion? What can possibly make a baseball player "worth more" than a scientist or poet or even another baseball player? How did our ideas about what we value get so skewed?

One of the lessons I remember well from grade school civics on up to high school American History was that there are supposed to be limits on how much one person or company can control. Whatever happened to the controls on monopolies? Where are the anti-trust controls of old? What happened to fair trade? Why did Sam Walton think he needed not just ten or fifty Wal-Marts, but literally thousands? What drives humans to want more power than they can understand, much less control? If there were five hundred car manufacturers, instead of a handful, would we be bailing them out? If banks and mortgage brokers and financial institutions were truly competitive - truly manageable on a human scale, there would be thousands upon thousands going about their business all over the world. Some would succeed, some might fail - but the failure of one or two or three companies could not panic the rest of the world. We've become a population of billions controlled by a few concerned only with the present and with themselves. With great power over great numbers comes anonymity. With anonymity comes abuse.

Manifest destiny is a lie. Free enterprise is a broken promise. Bigger is better is an oxymoron. I say we need to think small. Smaller populations; smaller companies, smaller cars, smaller growth, smaller salaries (for anyone making more than say, the president...) smaller desires, smaller houses .

Think big? Nah. Give me the small pleasures.

Six folksy chicks found at a flea market for $1 each. One of life's little pleasures...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Monday musings...

Horsemen often refer to the look in a horse's eye to describe the sort of mount and companion that horse is likely to make. Generally speaking "a quiet eye" or " a kind eye" are the ones to look for. Here are the kind eyes (and ears) of two of my horses, soft, calm, but ever alert.

The chestnut is Dixie, and don't let that soft eye delude you. She's the alpha mare and total tyrant of chow time. She never shows any white, rolls her eye or lets on - until she whirls, teeth bared, hooves flying to run off any equine in her peripheral vision.

Perhaps that's why Babygirl (the bay) is looking just a little apprehensive... Actually, it was the whirr and beep of my camera that put Babygirl off.

I just liked these close-ups and wanted to share a little horse lore with all the wanna-be horse whisperers out there.

The shy one with the teary eye is Rita the red roan.

I have all kinds of collections of things - bones, twigs, plastic lizards, buttons, glass perfume bottle stoppers, cicada shells, telephone wire, turtle shells, and, um, Kewpie dolls. Actually, I never purposely collected these little guys; I just keep finding them as I unpack boxes marked "miscellaneous dec."

Apparently they have hidden themselves amongst the odds 'n ends I put away until my house is "finished" (yeah, like that's ever going to happen...) waiting for me to liberate them. It was only when I came upon #4 that I realized I had an entire Kewpie family. They guard my DVD/VHS players from bad karma and power surges and the like... Who'd have ever thought Kewpie doll hair would make a fashion statement?

Before I got sick, I was thrifting - one of my most favorite pastimes. I found the bobble bird that day and I also found this wonderful little (21 x 8) painting of mushrooms. They're not the morels I wrote of a while back, but aren't they delightfully rendered? There's no date, but it's signed "Ralph Cooper" and it's painted on a fragment of one of those canvasboard panels. On the back there's a small printed cartoonish figure wearing a hat that says something like: _URG DAN or DAI in very tiny print. The artwork style of the figure would date it from the forties to the late fifties.

I paid $3.00 for it.

I wonder what future thrifters will pay for my works...

And finally:

I missed Valentine's day as I was in a bit of a viral stupor. It's not the day itself I regret missing, as it's generally been a disappointment, romantically speaking... sigh. But I wanted to post something cool - like my fellow bloggers did for the most part.

So here he is... My Valentine Kewpie, wishing everyone love and hugs for the rest of the year.

Addendum: Roy just informed me that my Kewpies are just plain trolls... Oh my. As soon as I saw his comment, I knew he was right. I'd forgotten they were called trolls. Perhaps they now lurk around blogging sites rather than bridges. Thanks Roy!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

As a transplant to The South, one of my great pleasures is that spring often comes in what used to be the middle of winter. Growing up, I was a heat loving person. I thought nothing could be finer than to lie in the sun; sweat trickling on bare skin, a cold drink and a book. Ah, summer...

Shortly after I married, I spent two years in Vermont. I say "spent" rather than "lived" purposefully. Though I found it to be unsettlingly lovely (like living in a postal card), I never could get warm - even in summer. In winter (which began in September) snow drifts eight feet high could cover the windows; temperatures of - 15 were commonplace, and just when I thought Spring must be coming, it wasn't. What was coming was mud.

Mud season must be experienced to be comprehended. Like most children, I had once adored playing in the mud, splashing about in puddles and building forts. But the mud of my childhood and the mud of Vermont's fifth season have little in common. In New England, we're talking black, sticky and deep - and it's cold mud - made up as much of slush as of water and dirt. Each night, the mud freezes, creating deep troughs and furrows into which small mammals have gone missing - and upon which unprepared Midwesterners twist our ankles and curse their muck. When there was still snow in the woods in June during my second year there, I informed my then-spouse that I would not spend another winter in that beautiful hell. "Summer" was six weeks of no more than 80 degrees. Blink. It's winter again.

That is all behind me now. I've lived in Georgia nearly nineteen years, and I think I will never be complacent about Spring in the South. For the past several days the temperature has been in the mid-sixties to seventy degrees. Tepid - almost warm - breezes kick up the chaff as I feed the horses their hay in my shirt-sleeves and lift my face to the still feeble slanted rays of a February sun. Sure, it may yet turn colder. We might even get another hard frost. But there will never be snow in the Georgia woods in June. I love you, Vermont - even more from a distance...

And now for some fun:

Some of my online buds have been challenged by mouse (aka kimy) to choose and write about ten words beginning with a letter drawn from "the jar." Kimy graciously granted my behest, and the jar did its magic, offering up a "W". W is perfect for me.!! It seems quite kismet, with so many of my interests and artistic subjects beginning with doubleyew. I don't recall hearing any rules, per se, but I felt my ten words should be the first ones that came to mind. Here goes:

Water. Cold, clear, clean, refreshing, wet, (heh). Rain. We're entering another year of prolonged drought in the Southeast, thus this is a subject forefront on my mind. Water is often rationed; water tables dropped. Fine old trees, hundreds of years old; dying. Lakes and rivers 20 + feet below normal. Water = life.

Wonder - The look on a baby's face as it gazes upon the world; the questions in our eyes as we ponder meaning and mystery. The wonder of it all. The wah-wah-wah -wah-wonder... And don't we all know It's A Wonderful Life... ? It is. We are full of life and wonder.
Wing - Wings, winged, winging. My artwork is lately filled with winged Black Birds; birds who fly upon the Wind (my third word) and into the wind and are blown by great white winds begotten of Warm (4) air masses colliding with cold air masses to produce Weather (5) and the Water (6) of life.

Warm. Yes. I may think I'm cool - but I'd rather be warm. Warm hands, warm blankets and fires and mittens. The warmth of the sun, a warm smile, a warming trend; heartwarming...
mmmm... warmth...

Weather. One of my fav subjects. Bridges all conversational gaps, affects everyone - and is all powerful. Rain, hail, snow, sleet, hurricane, tornado, cyclone, blizzard, thunderstorm - or a fine sunny day - all amazing.

Whiskers. Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens... My cat Elvis' whiskers tickling my cheek; not a bad way to be awakened.

Whistle. What Jiminy Cricket said to do when you are afraid. The myriad whistles of birds, groundhogs, prairie dogs. whales and - yes - trains. A fine sound, rooted in our ancestry.

Whinny. I just had to put this in. It's the happy, soft greeting of my horses when I whistle. I've six horses here and each of them has a distinct sound - from a high trilling to almost a chortle to what can only be described as a soft murmuring.

... Kinda makes me Wistful...

thanx Kimy and all the other participants.

It's been fun to see what folks do with this.

The beautiful "Babygirl" - one of the sweetest mares ever... She's the one who "murmurs."

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Wow... I am so, so honored that if anyone was here, I'd be speechless!! I've been chosen to receive a blogging award! Roy Hilbinger, who is an amazing photographer as well as a gifted writer, selected my blog the rabbit hole as one of his picks for the PREMIO DARDOS blog award. Not only is the award a major surprise, but to receive it from such an amazing blogger as Roy doubles the honor. Roy was the first one to "follow" my blog; he just showed up one day much to my delight, and I became a follower of his after reading just one post. He's a caring, compassionate and responsible citizen of the planet with eyes that find the beauty in all things and brains to articulate about what he finds and thinks. His blog: Roy's World was honored in kind, and I am humbled to be chosen as one of his picks.

Here's what this award is about:

The Dardos Award is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing. These stamps were created with the intention of promoting fraternization between bloggers, a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web.

The rules:
1) Accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and a link to his/her blog. [Note: Don't forget to copy and paste the award jpeg itself to include on your own blog!]
2) Pass the award to another five blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment, remembering to contact each of them to let them know they have been selected for this award.

Now my task is to pass this award on to five more bloggers whose sites embody the values as noted. I think my favorite phrase within the "mission statement" of the award is the last line of the first paragraph: a way of showing affection and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web. I do feel affection for bloggers with whom I share images, comments and philosophy - though we've never met. The humor, intelligence and admirable attributes they convey in their postings makes me feel as if we have a connection that is akin to personal friendship. We are fragile and strong. We are compassionate and resilient. We think; therefore we blog. This is way cool.

I'll contact and post my picks in the morning - as I'm sitting here at 1:20 am with a terrible cold and should be in bed. But I got so excited, I forgot for a while I was sick... Thank you, Roy.

It's morning - and here are my choices (in no particular order) for the PREMIO DARDOS :

Turboblues, the blog of John Grow. John doesn't say much about himself in his profile, but there are reams of autobiographical writings and his outstanding and very moving poetry. He's not afraid to tackle controversial subjects or to bleed onto his keyboard. The fist time I encountered his blog, I read until my eyes hurt. A writer's writer is John.

Art Propelled, the amazing visual journey of Robyn G, an artist from South Africa. I would nominate her just for the series on"Bug" - and yes, you need to go there to see the phenomenal photographs and to check out "his" heartwarming tale - but I nominate her blog more for how she allows me to see through her eyes. The art she post is sometimes quirky, sometimes cutting edge or beautiful, but it is all engrossing and intriguing., as are her exotic (to me) photos of South Africa.

The Roaring Inside is Holly Friesan's blog about her life as an artist. Holly is particularly gifted at speaking with her creative voice while still telling truths. Her work spills out from her studio and her pages, all the while drawing the viewer inside to read and wonder. I love this quotation from her "About Me": I am a working artist/painter struggling to find my way through this glorious, anxious life with a heart full of unresolved questions. A glorious life indeed...

Poemfish is the blog of Casey Kurz, a visual artist and writer over on Her munificent blog includes extraordinary poems, photographs, and writings as well as some of her inspiring artwork. What I like best about her writing is how she focuses on both the fragility and strength of life. Her essays are introspective, inspiring and uplifting,; searching for and honoring the best in everyone.

Finally I nominate Embrasures, the poetry blog of Marcy Stoekel. Marcy is quite new to the blogging community here at Blogspot, but her poems richly deserve a wider audience. She speaks with the inner voice of all women, and yet her poems transcend gender. Her work is not just a good read, but an emotional escapade; evocative, challenging, strong and oh, so poignant.

I'm not really new to blogging - though I only recently began to take the rabbit hole seriously and to post regularly. I enjoy the feedback and the "validation" that writing offers and though choices are skewed a bit toward the arts, it's because that is where my heart is. A month from now I could add twenty more wonderful sites, as I discover more every day.

Monday, February 02, 2009

I couldn't find the rest of the photos I wanted to post until today.

Yeah, okay... One of those cloud photos from the previous post was man made, but wasn't it cool? Though it appeared a plane had gone down (or up) 'twas just an illusion. Jet streams actually do affect cloud formation to a great degree in parts of the country which are on major flight paths. (I read that somewhere - and experienced it when I lived in Western New York: overcast 60% of the time! - and thought to owe at least 20% of those cloudy days to jet streams, the particulates in the exhaust attract molecules of moisture and ta-da!


This little series documents one of my cloud chasing adventures. I spotted a line of mare's tails dancing across the western sky just like a sparkling chorus line. I grabbed my camera and headed up the mountain to try and get a better view. I zoomed toward them and they danced away over the tree line. I topped the mountain and headed into the most open area I could find which happened to be a new subdivision... A few folks wondered what it was up in the sky that interested me so - but no one dared to ask.

I'm fascinated by these little tornadoes of ice crystals... It's as if there are several little twisters high in the sky.

I added the info on man-made clouds because I was thinking about those sweet groundhogs who are disturbed from a nice sleep every year so that we can all rest, knowing (heh) just how much winter is left... Odds are that in the Northeast part of the country it's likely to be cloudy. Not so today. Sun in PA; clouds in GA. Spring will be early in the south and late in the north... That's not much of a surprise is it?

Groundhog Day! Why not keep it as a day to honor one of our cutest and most resilient of creatures ? And when evening comes, spend it watching a classic Bill Murray film.

I say: leave the little furballs be. Here's a true sign of spring: daffodils!!

These beauties actually bloomed over two weeks ago, but it seemed cruel to show them off before Groundhog Day - when at least folks "know" what to expect.