Thursday, October 23, 2014

Painting pictures with my mind

(Still with the song lyrics, FYI.)

I set a goal for the month of October.  I told myself I was going to paint TWO new paintings.  Seems easy enough - 31 days and only two paintings.  But I am the master of self-sabotage; there was really only a 50/50 chance I would get this done.



The first was the apple from a couple weeks ago.  Halfway done, woo hoo, on a roll!  Then on Tuesday I hauled out a canvas I started way back in Montana.  I can't remember what it was originally going to be.  Words.  Two words.  Sounds like ....  Hmmm.  Can't remember.  It turned into this instead:

It was touch-and-go with this one; I didn't like how it was turning out.  I salvaged it, and then I didn't, and then I think I did.  I'm hoping over time it will grow on me, like the hot mess did.  Did I ever show you that one, the hot mess?  I almost threw it away when I was packing to move but I couldn't bring myself to do it and now it has been sitting on my desk for the last nine months and it has grown on me.  I'm looking at it right now in fact.  And so are you.

I know, I know, your initial reaction is, "WHOA!  YIKES!"  Mine was too, but as I said, it has grown on me.

Sorry, I digress.

The maple leaf painting makes two for October.  Goal met!  And guess what?!?  Goal exceeded!

Abstract nonsense.  A friend was having a very self-empowering moment two days ago, and I channeled her pride and exuberance.  This is what came out.  It's yummy in real life.  And I'm sending it to you, my friend, if you want it.

AND, there's another painting in the works.  So far it is just a cool, cool background.  I employed a ground-breaking technique and got an awesome effect that I love, so now I'm at the point where anything I do from here on out could totally wreck the whole thing.  I might just leave it as is.  I'm sleeping on it for a couple of days.

Not sleeping on the painting.  Just, you know, sleeping on it.

What else.

I'm going to something called The Haunted Forest with my mother, Kathy, Johnny and Evan on Saturday night, so if you never hear from me again, it was a frightening experience that turned fatal.  I can hardly wait.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Baby it's cold outside

It was in the 40s today and I saw hail twice.  Might be getting too cold for flip flops.

But before the snow starts to fly, here are some pictures of the awesome, weird, now pink tree in my front yard:

I wish I knew what kind of tree this is.  Hopefully a master gardener volunteer at the University of Vermont extension service will be able to help - I submitted a few of these pictures today with my question.  I will let you know if I get an answer.

The end.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Falling leaves, a sycamore

Not a lot of words today, but plenty of pictures.  Foliage is still fab here in Vermont.

Even the vacas think so.  Poodle and I went down to Killington on Friday, and here are some action shots so you can see how happy she was to get there.

What a nut.  She was also a leaf-peeper.

The view is crazy from my mom's house.  Here, I tried to stitch two photos together so you could get the full effect.  This is not a very successful effort, but it is the best I can do with the limited resources I've got, so keep your hair on.

It's quite mesmerizing in real life.

Here's a tree:

Love love love.

So, more foliage:

Poodle thought the view was pretty good from the deck, too.

Do you see her?  She's kinda like Where's Waldo in this one.

Today we went to the World's Best Breakfast, then down to the rec center to play ball.  I took the next picture through the windshield on River Road:

My dad's memorial service was one year ago today.

Has anybody noticed that the titles of my posts so far this month have all been song lyrics?  Today's title is from one of my dad's favorite songs.

And since we started this post with a farm on our way out of town, we will end it with another farm on our way back to town.

And now, since I've already said I don't have a lot of words today, and I've already said I'm ending with a farm, here are some final words from one of my favorite poets, Billy Collins, appropriate for an October day when my eye was drawn to the acorn caps scattered under an oak tree at the cemetery.

Some Final Words

I cannot leave you without saying this:
the past is nothing,
a nonmemory, a phantom,
a soundproof closet in which Johann Strauss
is composing another waltz no one can hear.

It is a fabrication, best forgotten,
a wellspring of sorrow
that waters a field of bitter vegetation.

Leave it behind.
Take your head out of your hands
and arise from the couch of melancholy
where the window-light falls against your face
and the sun rides across the autumn sky,
steely behind the bare trees,
glorious as the high strains of violins.

But forget Strauss.
And forget his younger brother,
the poor bastard who was killed in a fall
from a podium while conducting a symphony.

Forget the past,
forget the stunned audience on its feet,
the absurdity of their formal clothes
in the face of sudden death,
forget their collective gasp,
the murmur and huddle over the body,
the creaking of the lowered curtain.

Forget Strauss
with that encore look in his eye
and his tiresome industry:
more than five hundred finished compositions!
He even wrote a polka for his mother.
That alone is enough to make me flee the past,
evacuate its temples,
and walk alone under the stars
down these dark paths strewn with acorns,
feeling nothing but the crisp October air,
the swing of my arms
and the rhythm of my stepping --
a man of the present who has forgotten
every composer, every great battle,
just me,
a thin reed blowing in the night.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Autumn leaves of red and gold

Well, I may have to rake my yard after all.  I'm not sure my lawn mower will be able to mulch a carpet of leaves that is a good four inches deep.  Poo.  But that's a story for another day.

Today I will first tell you about my Dr. Seuss tree.  That's what Kathy calls it, and the name fits.  Here's a picture from earlier this summer.

See how it's all sticks at the top and leafy at the bottom?  The sticks are leftover from last year.  It was just sticks until end of June and I thought the wickedly cold winter had killed the whole tree.  No buds, no nothin'.  Then it started to leaf out at the bottom.  Here's another picture with a poodle for scale.

Those new sticks grew over a foot every week.  And the leaves?  Whoa.

THAT picture is from late July.  The previous owners called this an Elephant Ear tree, so I googled that and now I think it may be a paulownia tomentosa which, according to wikipedia, is the fastest-growing tree in the world.  Mine didn't have any flowers or any fruit, so maybe I have mis-diagnosed its species, but there were images online that look just like this one.  Look it up and let me know if you agree.  Here's a picture from mid-August.

The leafy sticks didn't grow as tall as last year's sticks, but those leaves were ginormous.  They still are.  We had a hard frost ... early last week?  It wrecked some of the top leaves, but the rest are still huge and green.  I would run outside and take a picture, but it's almost midnight and although the moon (bella luna!) is one day from being full, there's still not enough light.

So now let's talk Crime Rib.  Remember my friend Leslie's first mystery novel that was published last summer?  Crime Rib is the second in the series.  And remember how I begged Leslie to kill me off in one of her books?  Crime Rib is where that doesn't happen.  HA!  But I DO get introduced as a character.  I don't have my copy of the book in front of me because my mom borrowed it and now it is working its way through her bridge ladies (or her tennis ladies, I can't remember).  So here is the bookmark Leslie sent me with the book.

Now, there are SO MANY things to be excited about with this book.  First, an aside to Leslie:  I forgot to tell you that over the 4th of July weekend when I was in Connecticut with family, I was talking books with my cousin Jennifer who is a manager or an assistant manager at a Barnes & Noble somewhere in Connecticut.  I told her about Crime Rib and she said, "I know that book - I just shelved it yesterday!"

Okay, next, go here and take advantage of the "look inside" feature.  (Not that I want you to buy the book at Amazon - I would rather you find a local independent bookseller and support them.  In fact, buy seven copies from your local independent bookseller.  Just because.)  So anyway, scroll down to the cast of characters.  I'll wait.


Did you?


Who did you see?  I'll give you a hint, in case you were too lazy to hit that one hotlink and do the work yourself.  IT'S ME!  Leslie named the character after me.  HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  She is awesome.  And I am famous.

So next click on THIS link and read the article in The Missoulian.  Seriously.  Do it.

HAHAHAHAHA!  Famous again.

Now, follow YET ANOTHER link to Leslie's blog, and click on the link SHE has in that post.  Not to spoil the surprise or anything, BUT I'M SO FAMOUS!

Rock and roll.

When I read Crime Rib this summer there was one spot in the book where Christine is described as wearing dorky black glasses and I thought, "Hey!  I've got dorky black glasses."  Refer back to my selfie with minion from the other day.  Then in another spot Christine was wearing purple glasses and I thought, "HEY!  I've got purple glasses!"  Refer to selfie below.

It's crazy being famous.  I can't wait until the third book comes out next year.  I would say it is tragic that I have to wait that long, but in reality it just means I get to have my 15 minutes of fame all over again.  Awe.  Some.

Speaking of minions, if you're my friend on Facebook you've already seen my new minion.

That's my girl.  Minion goggles.  Or doggles, as the case may be.