Sunday, June 30, 2013

Bear Hunting

Poodle and I went bear hunting yesterday, and didn't see a single one.  I've heard they are all over my neighborhood - one of my neighbors sees them every time he turns around - but I've seen nada.  Zilch.  Zero.  This is what we saw instead:

Lots of daisies.  Lots of poodle in the tall grass.  The temperature has been climbing and I think it is supposed to hit close to 100 degrees in the next couple of days.  Awesome.

I had a bit of good news yesterday.  Well, it wasn't really news, but it was encouraging.  My new plan is to tell everyone I know that we have a commercial building for sale, in case they know someone who is looking.  (By the way - we have a commercial building for sale in downtown Bigfork.)  I was talking to a friend who is a realtor, and she said she's got two investors looking to dump cash in a 1031 exchange and their time is running out.  She wants more info so she can talk to her clients.  This is in no way a sure thing, but it was encouraging to me.  Potential buyers are everywhere if you look hard enough.

On another front, my mojo is still mostly a no show, so I've decided to try something different to jump-start myself.  I'm not going to share any details until I know if it is working, but think big.  As in 36" x 48".  That's all I'm going to say.  I hope I have enough paint....

Friday, June 28, 2013

Mojo? What mojo?

So as you know, for the past seven or eight weeks my mojo has been a total no show.  Here's what I think happened.  I was mildly frantic getting ready for my vacation - I had been procrastinating on a few things at work that I knew would be a pain in the rear, so ended up doing them the night before I left.  That would be stitching down three football jerseys for shadowboxes.  I was in Vermont for a week.  I got home to find a minor flood in my bathroom.  In addition to being a crazy catch-up week at work, it took forever to figure out why my sink was leaking and how to fix it (thanks to a very helpful man named Doyle at my local hardware store, I can add plumbing skills to my resume).  Then it was my birthday.  The day after my birthday my dad went back into the hospital for three nights and four days.  I've also had some setbacks regarding my "hope and dream" plans regarding my move to Vermont.  I'm not quite ready to slide back down into the pit of despair, but I've had to give myself several pep talks in the past weeks.  And although painting is one of my happy places, I haven't had the right creativity to get to that place.  I tried, and ended up with a couple of things just about good enough for the trash.  Bleh.

So I gave myself a new motto.  I have a pink Post-it note on my bathroom sink that says MAKE BETTER CHOICES.  This is most specifically related to food choices - I gave myself a 10 day challenge to eat clean.  When I cut out the junk, I feel a ton better (no surprise there).  And I sleep better.  And hopefully it well help my mojo come back because I have more energy.  You can only spend so many hours a day glued to the couch reading, even if it is the latest John Sandford book.

Anyway, I did paint something passable last week.  Another sheepy.

If this ends up as a keeper, I'm going to name it "Lone Ranger."

Two days ago I needed to just get some paint on a canvas (or on my clothes, or on the floor - anything would be better than nothing), and I ended up with this little abstract piece.

I'm calling it "Expect the Unexpected" and for now it lives in a white lacquer frame, like so:

Yeah, I know, in this picture it looks pinky.  But it's white.  Kitchen art - matches the fridge.

Speaking of none of that (except the kitchen part), I had a tragic experience last night.  Today is Last Fridays in downtown Bigfork, and I was trying a new recipe that came highly recommended by some clients.  Carmelized bacon.  I know, right?  How could that possibly be bad?  This is Ina Garten's recipe and it sounded like something I would eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  So I put tin foil in two baking pans, set wire racks on top, cut an entire package (1.5 pounds) of thick-cut bacon in half and put the strips on the racks, then smeared them totally with a clever mixture of pecans, brown sugar, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and maple syrup that I whizzed up in the food processor.  Into the oven for 25-30 minutes until browned but not burned.  Well.  Let me tell you what happened next.  I washed the dishes, and sat down on the couch with poodle and John Sandford.  About 12 minutes later I noticed it was getting a little hazy in my kitchen/living room.  I checked the oven to see if maybe there was a dead squirrel in there that had caught on fire (you never know), but nothing.  I took out my fire extinguisher and read the directions (safety first).  Then I saw smoke coming out of one of the burners.  Called Derek and he told me that's how the oven vents, and all the smoke was because I was cooking (read "burning") sugar.  I have the ability to create ZERO cross-ventilation in my wee home because the only two windows that open are separated by an entire wall.  So I opened the door and waved a painting around trying to clear the place out.  When I took the bacon out of the oven, I have to admit it really didn't look appetizing.  But the recipe said to transfer it to a plate covered with paper towels while it was hot, and it would crisp up as it cooled.  If it was cooked enough.  But not burned (burnt?).  My bacon was showing a little char.  And felt floppy.  Not a good combo (in anything, really, not just bacon).

New paragraph.  Finally.  After a couple more chapters of John Sandford, I test-drove the bacon.  It.  Was.  Gross.  Can you believe I just said that about bacon?  Total fail.  I never thought it would be possible to have a bacon fail.  And what a tragic waste of 1.5 pounds of my favorite food.  I'm betting it will still smell like a diner at home when I get there late tonight, too.

So there you have it.  That's all I have to report.  If you decide to try and make Ina Garten's recipe (google it), let me know how it comes out for you.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Company We Keep

Uncle Eddy came up from Missoula for an adventure on Sunday.  He is poodle's Uncle, and my brother-in-law.  I was going to put him to work in the gallery, but he was too busy sitting outside and drinking water and sniffing Roxie's toys and having a snack and taking a nap.  Here he is:

Eddy died today.  He was having a really hard time because of a tumor growing near his throat.  He was a constant and faithful companion to Eletra and Wayne - and was an extra special friend to Dylan - for many years.  We will miss him very much.

Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog.
-- Sidney Jeanne Seward

Friday, June 14, 2013

Summertime ... for a minute

A client of ours told me yesterday that in the month of June last year, here in the Flathead Valley, it rained 27 out of 30 days.  She knows this because she grows wine grapes so keeps track of weather details.  We have had more sunny days this year in June, but today isn't one of them.  Sunday (aptly named) was beautiful; high 70s with a little breeze.  The wild daisies are just beginning to bloom.

The wild rose bushes are blooming and they smell really good if you get up close.

I think one of the larger rose bushes is being invaded.  Anybody know what this is called?  I'm thinking it's a monkey-something.

Poodle and I played ball and although this is normally a thrilling experience for her, this time momma almost had heart failure.  A doe came out of the woods and watched us, then started running after the ball with Roxie.  Made me a bit nervous.  I tried to chase her away by waving the Chuck-It stick at her, but that didn't work.  After five or six trips back and forth (during which poodle was totally focused on the ball - I'm not even sure she noticed the deer was running behind her), the doe caught up and started pawing Roxie's back as she was running.  Momma was VERY upset.  It's a good thing I don't own an assault rifle.  We stopped playing, and I taught that deer some new words.

Turns out the doe was protecting her babies and she decided my entire yard and the entire field by the house is her territory.  Before we were playing, in fact, she chased Bones all the way around to the front of the house.  When we got back from a walk later in the afternoon, this is what we saw:

I think she brought them out of the woods so I could see she had babies to protect, because I haven't seen them at all in the past five days.  Those little buggers were tiny.

Anyway, here is a lovely picture of dog butts.

And here is a story in pictures.  It goes like this - Bones gets in the pool.

Bones splashes in the pool and tries to bite the water.

Roxie sees, and is convinced Bones found something good in there.

One in, one out!

Funny dogs.  Thank you, Bones, for sharing your pool.

Still nothing in the painting department.  I have an idea for a landscape I want to try and I will be wickedly surprised if it works out.  I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wrapping it Up

I still have some catching up to do on here from last month but I've lost all my mojo so it has taken a bit longer than I expected.  I will start with this:  remember that marathon relay team I was on?  Here we are, post-event:

It was a grueling day.  We left the house at 6:20 a.m. and got to Burlington by 7:00ish.  Walked up to the starting area in rainy and 42 degree weather.  Cold.  Windy.  Icky.  The race didn't start until 8:03 a.m. so there was plenty of waiting around.  In the cold.  And wind.  And rain.  Abby was in charge of the first leg of the race - 3.3 miles - and Johnny ran with her.  She was a rock star.  Johnny continued on with the second leg - another 6.something miles.  He wanted to say he ran the distance of a half marathon, so he ran with me up to the 13.1 mile mark.  Or, I should say, he ran but after my first 4 miles or so I stopped to walk.  Johnny was a rock star.  I was responsible for the third and fourth legs of the race - 11.something miles - and it was brutal.  Everything that could hurt or break, did.  Right knee, right hip, left knee, left hip, lower back, piriformis, tops of my feet, bottom of my left pinky toe.  Delaney was waiting an awful long time for me to get to the start of the fifth and last leg.  She was a rock star.  I don't know what our team's official time was, but we didn't care about time - we just wanted to finish.  (Delaney even stopped for about 10 minutes to take off her jacket and re-pin her bib onto her t-shirt.)  It was, for the most part, a miserable running experience but I'm so proud of our team and I would do it again next year.  Both Delaney and Abby wore their official race jerseys to school the Tuesday after the race.

On Memorial Day we went with Evan and three of his fellow Cub Scouts to replace the flags in the Hinesburg Village Cemetery.  I couldn't get a good picture of all four boys together, but here is my favorite picture of Evan:

Last but not least, I wouldn't want Liam to feel left out, so here he is, in all his teenage glory.  This is an awesome picture:

Awesome.  What else.   I went to Killington for a couple of days and saw my dad for the first time post-brain tumor diagnosis, radiation and all that nonsense.  I got to see the plastic mask he had to wear during his radiation treatments.  Creepy, in a "Friday the 13th" kind of way.  Dad was on his best behavior but, of course, a couple of days after I got back to Montana he went back to the hospital for three nights and four days.  Craziness.  Someday I'd like to see my dad's medical file - I bet it is so huge it takes up an entire filing cabinet.

Speaking of wrapping up things, I wrapped up several of my paintings last week.  Two went to Connecticut, one went to California, one stayed here in Montana and one is almost on its way to Switzerland.  Most of the paintings were purchased by my wonderful family.  I have been getting loads of support and encouragement from my family regarding my art career, which probably means I should start painting again.  It's been a few weeks but, as I said at the beginning of this post, my mojo is gone.  Getting it back is on my To Do List for this week!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Is it June yet?

Hey!  Where have you guys been - it's been ages!  Heh heh.  Loads of things have happened in the past month, and none of them have involved painting.  Oops.  The recap will take several blog posts, and I will start by saying I planted my flower boxes at home on Mother's Day.

Planting the flowers signifies sure-fire spring for me, although it has rained here a crap-ton and even snowed once since Mother's Day.  Chances are good it will snow again.

Poodle and I also met our new neighbor.

She was two weeks old when I took these pictures.  There are currently four baby mules down the road, each one a different color.  This is the first female.

In other news, and temporarily skipping a bunch in between, my birthday was on Monday and every year my mother-in-law sends me a copy of the "Year at a Glance for Gemini."  Here are the pertinent bits from this year:

"... what you do this year sets the tone for the next twelve years.  Step forward; trust that resources will appear to support you."

"You are capable of accomplishing miracles this year...."

"Focus on the here and now, bring order to chaos, take risks in spite of fears."

"You need to be with inspiring cohorts.  This may require a new setting.  Old comforts could keep you in victim consciousness, smother you in self-doubt.  Don't hold out for the perfect situation, better to experiment and move on if the conversations don't set your hair on fire."

Awesome.  Sounds like it will be a big year for me!  The trusting in potentially non-existing resources and taking risks in spite of fears parts are scary for me (see?  there's that fear now) but sometimes the best rewards come when you step outside of your comfort zone.  Remember, "Do, or do not.  There is no try."  So says Yoda.

Next up I will post some pictures from my vacation in Vermont.  Stay tuned.