Saturday, February 25, 2012

Haiku moment

I am reading a book right now, Gideon's Corpse, by those two guys -- hmm, I'm guessing Lincoln somebody and Douglas somebody.  Wait, let me look it up.  Hang on a sec.  Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.  Anyway, the main character described some jazz music this way:  "too many notes, not enough music."  Immediately, my mind said, "too many words, not enough poetry."  And that terrifically sums up why a lot of poetry doesn't work for me.  Too wordy.  Or, more succinctly, too many words, not enough poetry.  Perhaps this is why I am a fan of traditional haiku.  And suddenly (and I truly mean suddenly, as in just this minute) I am recalling a piece I wrote about haiku about five years ago.  Maybe six.  Here it is:


It was a dark and stormy night.  I sit on the couch, laptop perched precariously on my knees, doing a little research on haiku.  If I'm going to start writing poetry, I ought to know a little about it, and all I could remember was the 5/7/5 thing.  Imagine my dismay to find that the haiku rules have changed.  How can that be?

why did the rules change
before I even started
this will take some work

Poetry does not come tripping off the tongue for me.  Nothing does, actually; I've never claimed to be a writer.  But I was intrigued by the idea of thoughts gracefully composed and artfully arranged.  The OCD in me liked the 5/7/5 concept, and here I find it has been yanked out from under me.  Zero steps forward, two steps back.

alas, woe is me
thoughts are tripping lazily
right back in my head

Okay, let's take another look.  I've only been to one website and already it's sucking the life out of me.  I thought this would be fun.  Now I've found a list of rules - one of which is the 5/7/5 rule to which I'm holding dear - and I see that haiku is many things to many people.  Maybe I can still give this a try.

on the windowsill
Ubu watches nightfall come
my cat is haiku

There's something here about riddles, and something about seasons.  One rule says "do this" while the next one says "don't do this."  There are so many rules they cancel themselves out so I'll interpret that to mean anything goes.  In fact, I think I'll call them tools rather than rules, and pick whichever ones will get the job done.

three times in two days
spiders running on the floor
spring is in the air

I want all of my haiku to be "true stories."  I'll be a non-fiction haiku writer.  That way I won't be burdened with inventing a plot and a cast of characters - I'll only write about things that really happened or things I really feel.

rain falls as I run
my thoughts scatter to the wind
like drops of water

It's the cadence I'm attracted to.  The 5/7/5 thing is very melodic to me, almost soothing.  Any three lines of poetry where the middle line is longer than the other two counts as haiku - there's a rule about that somewhere, I'm sure of it - but to me it doesn't feel right if it's not 5/7/5.

every day's the same
broken glass and razor blades
Band-Aids are my friends

I wonder if it's possible to sum up my entire self in just seventeen syllables.  My autobiography.

I travel through life
with watchful eyes yet silent;
birds cry look at me

Yeah, I guess it is.  Frankly, that was a stroke of genius, even if I'm the only one who gets it.  A "haiku moment" is supposed to be a profound event that inspires you to write or paint or somehow create, but this happened backwards; the writing created the "haiku moment" and the Zen of it is zinging all over.

I'm still sitting here on the couch, it's an even darker yet not so stormy night, and I've summed up my entire life in three lines totaling seventeen syllables.  Damn, I feel good.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Not quite right

Everything I have painted the last few days has come out so-so.  Not exactly wrong, but not quite right.  For instance, I found a painting I really like on Etsy and tried to use it as inspiration for a piece of my own.  Meh.  That one may be salvageable - we'll see.  If so, I will post a picture.  Then I tried to paint my clock for this year's "It's About Time" show at the Museum.  Double meh.  Still salvageable, but not as a clock face so back to the drawing board, which is quite unfortunate because - ironically - I'm running out of time (show opens March 2nd and I need to paint, dry, paint, dry, varnish, varnish, assemble and frame -- yikes!).  The beauty in the accidental non-clock piece is in the way the colors work together but mostly in the texture, and I don't think that will show up in pictures.

I also painted a piece to show the woman who contacted me about Take Back the Night.  I wanted to give her two choices, but I'm not sure I like the new one.  It sat at home for a couple of days before I decided it was worth varnishing.  If it gets a halfway decent reception when I bring it to work tomorrow I will photograph it.  And then I found this pear in a drawer - it obviously didn't quite make the cut back when I painted it, but now I like it.  So I painted the canvas and put it together.  Not sure I like the dark green color I chose for the canvas, tho, and that would be in keeping with all the other so-so stuff I've done lately!

This is called "Little Big Pear," partly because it reminds me of the really big pear I painted, and partly because it is little (6" wide x 8" high) yet too big for the paper.  And there you have it.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Happy 2nd anniversary to my poodle.  She is my best good girl.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Staying out of the vortex

There is some crazy drama going on over here in my neck of the woods, and although it really has nothing to do with me I kind of have a front row seat and am trying hard not to get sucked into the vortex.  Although it would be more like throwing myself into the vortex.  Derek can't figure out why I am amazed at the incredible childishness and relative stupidity of people.  Apparently many of us truly never leave junior high.  I could not in a million years have been a psychologist -- human nature at times baffles me to the point of insanity.  Would it be considered suicide if you died of brain injuries from constantly banging your head against the wall?  I.  Do.  Not.  Understand.  Some.  People.  Ergo, I will be utterly selfish this coming weekend and concentrate on me me me.  And poodle.  Let it all go.  Do things for me, that make me happy, and the hell with everybody else.  This does, however, require a complete lack of contact with facebook, and we all know facebook is like a trainwreck.  It is impossible to look away.  Or, as George Takei posted (on facebook, ironically), it is like a fridge -- you know there is nothing new but you can't help checking every 10 minutes anyway.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Three unrelated things

Here is something old.  I found it in the sauna the other day.

It is called "Copper Moon."  I brought it to work and Derek said, "That's ... interesting."  Hmmm.  Not to give away any trade secrets, but around here that's code for "ew."  No matter.  I like it.  It needs a shiny black frame.  As a side note, I have a painting very similar to this in an old sketch book.

Here is something brand new.  Another purple tree.

These shiny buggers are really hard to photograph.  I think I am going to take four tree paintings to Lee for pre-press work.  By the way, he said no problem with photographing several together, as long as the color palette is similar.  I'm thinking these four:

Maybe.  The one on the right is an approximation - the painting I would use is here but I haven't photographed it.  Stay tuned for further developments, but don't hold your breath.

And thirdly, I got a message from someone through Etsy the other day.  She asked if I would be willing to donate a painting for the Take Back the Night fundraiser in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  This is the painting she liked:

I am going to paint a new one, and then let her pick.  I have no connection to Ann Arbor, but was honored to have been asked.  It is a very worthy cause, and maybe I will get a little bit of exposure.  We shall see.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Two Quickies

Firstly, click on the bird over there -------> and check my Etsy shop.  I changed the banner on the top and I like it much better.

Secondly, I sold another painting yesterday here at work.  I don't have a picture to post, because I'm not sure I took a picture of it.  'Twas the last of my green trees, the little 5" x 7" panels, and it was in a red lacquer frame.  Woo hoo!

The end.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Two Ten Twelve

February 10th.  Today is my nephew Evan's birthday.  Roxie was going to stay up all night baking him a cake, but I was making broccoli soup and there isn't enough room in the kitchen for both of us.  There is barely enough room for one of us!  Next year, Evan, poodle will make you a cake.  And deliver it, too.

The soup is quite tasty, and will go well with Derek's chicken, salad stuff and the kefir bread we ordered from Bad Dog Bakery.  Since procrastination got the best of me, I had to get up early this morning to make the oatmeal cookies, only to discover an almost complete lack of oatmeal.  Oops.  Quick run to the grocery store before work, then home at lunch to make cookies.

There is nothing better than the smell of oatmeal cookies in the oven.  And since I am currently gluten-free, I didn't even get to lick the spoon.  Or eat any crumbs.  But that's okay, these cookies truly are the greatest thing in the world, and I am happy to bake them for someone who can use a little cookie love right now.

So today is day 10 of a 100 day Burpee Challenge.  This is how it works:  a group of us on facebook started the challenge on February 1st.  The first day, you do one burpee.  The second day, you do two burpees, the third day three, and on and on until the hundredth day (which I think is May 10th) when you do 100 burpees.  If you don't know what a burpee is, watch this quick video here.  I do mine a bit differently - coming up out of the pushup (chest hits the floor) I land in a full squat, and I end with a jump up and clap.  If you get behind it's no big deal, as long as you catch up.  I have been behind, and in my attempt to catch up I may have done day six twice.  My house, as you will remember, is quite small so I really only have one spot with enough floor space, but if Roxie is in the room she thinks we are playing a game and gets right where I need to be.  Last night I had to clear a spot in my bedroom while she was sleeping on the couch, and this morning I was in the living room when she went back to bed after her breakfast.  Sneakiness is key.

Now, here is the first of my new series:

It is called "Muhammad Ali."  The series is a word series, words associated with a specific person.  I have the next few lined up, but am looking for more inspiration.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sometimes a kitchen is just a kitchen

Tonight my studio is going to be a kitchen.  Just a kitchen.  Derek and I are putting together dinner for about 10 people for Friday night, and I am on soup and dessert duty.  Our friend Deliah still has a house full of people here; it was Deliah's husband who was killed in an avalanche last week.  It sounds like she has a great support system right now of people taking care of her, and the least we can do is feed them.

I still find myself thinking about mortality and the struggle between mourning and counting your blessings.  Another very good friend lost her brother last week; he had bladder cancer but nobody in his family knew he was ill.  Another tragedy.  Lots of conversations about life cut short, and how it affects those left behind.  But mourning a loss and rejoicing in good fortune doesn't have to be a balancing act, and I am working at tipping the scales in favor of happier thoughts.  Goodness and light.  Sunshine and lollipops.  Broccoli soup and oatmeal cookies.

I am starting a new series of paintings -- one is almost done.  I shall say no more about it.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Happy first day of the Year of the Black Water Dragon!  I must start off the new lunar year with a confession:  I didn't get any of my cleaning done.  This turned into a strange week.  Wednesday rolled around and I was still floating on the high that was January (our best January in 14 years at work -- by a lot).  Then Thursday morning I saw on facebook that it was the one year anniversary for a friend of being cancer free.  That's a good thing.  At 8:45 a.m., another friend had her divorce hearing.  That's also good.  One of my favorite cousins had a birthday.  Again -- all good.  I got to work and discovered my email had been hacked.  Eh, not so good, but still not terrible.  Just an inconvenience.  Then over the course of the day three different people came in to talk about the guy who got trapped in an avalanche on Wednesday afternoon.  I hadn't heard about it.  Search and rescue teams weren't able to reach the site until Thursday afternoon, when they recovered his body.  Turns out it was the husband of a friend of ours.  Wow.  That one threw me for a loop.  I had never met Mark, but we've known Deliah for years.  I spent pretty much all day Thursday and most of the day Friday thinking about it; what a horrible, horrible situation.  Life really can change in an instant.  I want to keep reminding myself to count my blessings, but then I feel bad for having blessings to count when I know Deliah is going through hell.  I need to reconcile my happiness at the positive things in my life, while still being sad for the tragedy in Deliah's life.  It has been a partially subconscious mental battle, and it wore me out.  I had no energy to dust and vacuum, I just wanted to sit on the couch with my poodle, all squished up together under a blanket.  So the cleaning waits for another day - hopefully today.

Yesterday, as he does every Friday, the owner of Bad Dog Bakery stopped in to see if he could tempt us with anything.  Dan is moving his business from Kalispell to Bigfork, and while the build-out is ongoing he stops around town with a truck full of yummies.  Unfortunately for him, I am currently gluten-free.  Unfortunately for me, he says he will be making gluten-free doughnuts.  (Are you reading this Derek?  GLUTEN-FREE DOUGHNUTS!)  I am so in trouble.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The same, but different

And here is yet another Valentine.  This one is called Chocolate Berry Heart, and I am donating it to a fundraiser.  Their theme every year is champagne and chocolate, and the event is the weekend before Valentine's Day.

Poodle and I are holding down the fort for the rest of the week, and we are going to clean the crap out of this place.  Starting today, because the trash gets picked up early Thursday mornings.  I have been feeling overwhelmed with clutter, both at work and at home, and I intend to do something about it ASAP.  In fact, I started de-cluttering at home the other day and it is amazing what a difference it makes, even when you only put away a few small things.  Of course, I live in a space that started its life as a two car garage, so I have limited space to begin with.

I am also going to work on the feng shui of my house.  I need to clean and de-clutter before Saturday, which is the first day of the Year of the Black Water Dragon.  This is going to be a big year for me (monkeys and dragons are best friends you know), and I want to start it off right.  Woo hoo!  Someone who shall remain nameless ridiculed me and informed me I am not Chinese (news flash) so feng shui is not going to work for me, but he speaks from a position of ignorance.  Feng shui is about being aware of your environment and making it as comfortable and safe as possible.  This reduces feelings of stress and anxiety, thereby creating a more positive and relaxing space which is more conducive to health and well being.  When we are happier, we feel better.  When we are relaxed, we are more comfortable.  No gimmicks, no hokey chimes and coins and crystals, no weird blanket statements about what you can and cannot do.  Just common sense.  I'm all for that.  And so is poodle.  Rock on.