Friday, April 30, 2010
It was an inspired day of painting and play. What Joy!
Off today to paint in a class happily titled: "Watercolor Big and Bold" Oh, and you can make a handy brush carrier with a bamboo placemat. Run some 3/4 in elastic through the middle.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
We arrived last night in windy Sedona and checked in to our Sedona Village Lodge. The photo below is from our balcony. I'm here to do a watercolor workshop for three days with Jeanne Carbonetti. More to come as our travel unfolds. Off to breakfast.
Lots of bru ha ha over the recent Arizona Governor's new immigration law. I don't approve.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
This got me to thinking about the value of posting favorite recipes. And since I'm "on the road" right now, traveling to Sedona, AZ this seemed like a good time to do this. So, for your dining pleasure I offer my all time favorite recipe for Spicy Peanut Sauce. This can be used over virtually anything, but makes a particularly good meal with chicken, rice and vegetables.
One cup of peanut butter
This recipe makes two cups which is a lot. The original recipe is half of everything, but I love it so much and eat it so often that I might as well make a lot and keep it. It stores well and can be thinned if it gets thick. Oh, and you can use any kind of peanut butter you like. Enjoy.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
MONDAY, APRIL 26, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Usually on Dream Machine weekend it is safest not to go out at all to brave the Highway 1 traffic snarl. But, I needed a walk, and so I drove to the parking lot nearest the Mavericks beach and took the trail around to the Pillar Point outpost. Rounding the curve I came upon a newly formed stone circle. Someone had built a small Labyrinth on a bluff overlooking the harbor. What a pleasure to stop and quietly walk the serpentine path as it folds in upon itself.
The idea of a Labyrinth is sensible. Pay attention to the path as you walk. Make it a meditation. I walked it twice. My mind needed this today.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Someone smart invented purple glue sticks. I make my own greeting cards by affixing a 4 x 6 photograph of one of my watercolors onto a blank greeting card. It is a very simple process, thanks to the bonding help of the purple glue stick. The purple allows you to see where the glue has been put. And, in some miracle of science, in a short time the purple color disappears and the thing sticks where it needs to be.
It's handy for stamps that have lost their umph . . and for making impromptu collage. I appreciate the convenience of these snappy tools. Always carry one in my little art tote.
Friday, April 23, 2010
I use the cards when I teach. I stuff it in a pocket. A two hour class lesson can be found on a single card. It may have a series of bullet points with cryptic phrases like: `Word Ball ~Leave the Room for the Same Reason ~Hat Game ~Three Word Sentences . . . ~CROW . . .
Let us say Hurrah for the 3 x 5 card!
Thursday, April 22, 2010
My husband is fond of pointing out that I like "little things" meaning tiny objects. I have a collection of small vases (one to four inches tall). A favorite daily task is putting a single flower or two into a thumb-sized vase and placing it on a windowsill or in an unexpected location. I'm fond of daisies of all kinds because they stay fresh for surprisingly long periods, I've observed.
The collection of odd items next to the mini flower arrangement includes a two inch Kuan Yin, the Chinese goddess of compassion. She sits presiding over a menagerie of a glass cat, a stone horse, a topaz cougar, a wooden mouse, an iron frog and a wooden curled cat figure.
Some of these were gifts, some were souvenirs of travel. It has struck me as sensible if one is going to buy tchotchke then it might as well be small stuff.
(Tchotchke (originally from Yiddish טשאַטשקע tshatshke [often spelled in a variety of other ways (such as tshotshke, tshatshke, tchatchke, chachke, orchochke) because there is no standardized transliteration] trinket), ultimately from a Slavic word for "toys" (Polish: cacka, Russian: цацки) are trinkets, small toys, knickknacks, baubles, or kitsch. The term has a connotation of worthlessness or disposability, as well as tackiness. The term was long used in the Jewish-American community and in the regional speech of New York City.)
I admit that I needed to look up the spelling of this fine word, and since the definition, et al, was pleasing I hope you don't mind that I included it here. I don't attach the attribute of tackiness to my use of the word tchotchke. But to me they are little things.
Beauty can be found everywhere. It can be celebrated by taking a single flower and giving it attention. I once told my sister that if she picked a dandelion from her back yard and placed it in a shot glass on her counter it would have the same purpose. Looking at a living flower can remind us of the whole world. Wasn't it the Buddha who, when asked about the meaning of life, simply held up a single flower?
It is so easy to bring beauty into our lives, onto our windowsills and desks. Something living, a flower that won't last long, is a reminder to appreciate the natural world and treasure our fleeting time on earth.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I am a laminating fool. If it ain't nailed down I may run it through one of my little machines to give it a permanent glossy case. My friends know that I will turn almost anything into a bookmark. An inspirational quote, a life lesson idea, a poem + something of art: a watercolor image, a paint sample chart, a postcard from a trip--these become encased in laminate for safe keeping.
What is it in your life that you would like to laminate today?
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
After a few hours of rummaging in our storage loft and battling lots of cobwebs I located a cardboard box containing memorabilia from my past. I found the program from Unto These Hills, but it turns out I was in the cast in 1964 and not 1963. This was a disappointment to the researcher who started all this. Finding the scrapbook with this program led to a treasure trove of memories. The box included scrapbooks of faded theatrical reviews from the 1960's and photographs of me in all manner of costumes. Perhaps someday I'll make a montage of these images. My acting days were interesting times albeit distant now.
Tucked into a corner of this box was a file folder titled "Mash Notes". Who here knows what a "mash note" is? According to Merriam-Webste Onliner: mash note Function: noun Date: 1890 "a usually sentimental or effusive note or letter expressing affection for the recipient."
During the years of my teaching life I kept a file folder in my bulky metal file cabinet in the office titled: Mash Notes. I recommend, by the way, they you start such a folder. In it file away thank you letters and notes received over the years. Include also letters that say kind and encouraging things about what you have done, etc.
And, then, every ten years of so, OR when you are having a day when you are feeling "less than" . . . pull out the folder and read these notes. Reading aloud is also a nice touch. I think we all long for appreciation, to be recognized, to be loved and admired. Of course we do. And, no matter how much we are praised, it may never seem enough. So, my advice is SAVE your MASH NOTES!
And you might even want to laminate the really good ones and make them into bookmarks. This reminds me I must show off my laminator machine as one of the tools of everyday life.
The photograph is a pile of a few of the letters I've received as a teacher. I treasure these. A teacher's life has meaning if her students found value in the classroom. And how do we know this? From time to time a thoughtful, kind student stops and writes a note of thanks and leaves in on the office desk or better yet mails it.
What teacher changed your life? You may be able to track them down these days with Facebook and all. Find that address and write a mash note. Make someone's day.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Al hail the simple tool. I'll bet there are tools in your life that serve many uses. When was the last time you thanked your spatula?
Sunday, April 18, 2010
I like being about the carry all of my paint supplies in a 5" X 7" zipper bag. I can paint anywhere. I've always loved an open paintbox. Seeing the colors lined up in a rainbow line seems to fill the world with possibilities. All hail art supplies.
They are wonderful gifts for children. Give a child a set of colors: paints, pencils, crayons, chalk. Color opens the imagination.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Forget your perfect offering
there is a crack in everything
that's how the light gets in."
Leonard Cohen's song, Anthem
A dear friend, Carol Anne
Bickerstaff got married in Vancouver, BC two weeks ago. I was invited to be the "ring mistress of the ceremony." As a wedding gift I gave her a Tibetan temple bell. (not the one pictured here which is Japanese). I quoted the Leonard Cohen lyric above. There is something haunting and useful about that sentiment. Our flaws, our cracks create the world of possibility. Light, change all that moves does so because of the cracks, the open spaces, the flaws.
Today let us celebrate the cracks in our lives.
Friday, April 16, 2010
I spent most of the morning on a complicated scene. I'm afraid I fell into a poor habit of overworking the piece. Watercolor is best when used simply and carefully, not placed ploddingly or heavily. While I know this as an artist something in me forgets and I paint and paint and fix and add when I know better. We need to do a lot of "less than perfect" paintings to allow for those tiny miracles to happen on the paper.
At the end of the morning I set aside my disappointment in the earlier piece and vowed to do a five minute painting. I just stared closely at these extraordinary lavender/blue irises. The result which I post here proves my point that "less is often more."
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Along with the prestige came a handsome monetary prize. At the time I thought, "Patricia, you should buy something with this that you would not have purchased otherwise." And, so I ordered a hand-painted table from an amazing company called Sticks. They offer one of a kind hand painted furniture pieces. I was able to be part of the design decision making by giving them the text of words that ring the outer rim of the table. Here are quotes that run around the edge: In order of importance, but not necessarily order of placement next to each other:
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
This is the preferred tool when I autograph my books. It writes smoothly and never smears. All hail the Sharpie of today. And now that I have an entire mug-full I have no excuse not to be working on the next book. I love this pen.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
- A few years ago I found myself struggling with back pain. Many of the chairs and sofas in our house can most kindly be described as soft. Doing some research I found that IKEA made a sensible reading chair that supported the lower back while holding everything else in a comfortable way. We positioned the chair with the window light behind and the gas fireplace nearby for cold or rainy mornings. Sitting in this chair and having a cup of tea is one of life's deep pleasures. Currently I am preparing for a trip to Sedona, Arizona to study watercolor with Jeanne Carbonetti. Her style is wildly colorful. I look forward to learning how to play with color in an expansive way
Sitting in this chair returns me to my true self.
Well, perhaps that is something of an overstatement. But, I do like sitting here.
Monday, April 12, 2010
This sturdy yellow bowl is today's object of respect. It comes from the San Francisco CAFE GRATITUDE. Rimming the interior of the bowl are the words: "What are you grateful for?" I uncover this query whenever I get to the bottom of a hearty bowl of miso soup or a rice bowl drenched in peanut sauce. (My husband contends that cardboard would taste good covered in peanut sauce.)
But I don't need to be at the bottom of a one dish meal to ask and answer this question. If you attend to life carefully it is hard not to be virtually overwhelmed with appreciation for the people and things of this world that serve us and make our own daily life possible and often, easy.
I've written about this in my book, Improv Wisdom in the chapter titled: "Wake Up to the Gifts." When we fail to notice the gifts it is likely that we are in the grip of our natural self-centeredness. When it occurs to me that "it is not about me" I am able to see how densely Reality is supporting me all the time. Cultivating an eye that looks at the world gratefully may be the single most potent vitamin for the happy and satisfied life. Even the stuff that drives us crazy can be torqued to reveal a gift.
I am grateful for so much. I am grateful for this moment when my eyes can see, when my limbs allow me to type, when my mind seems to be functioning normally and I can parse sentences. I am grateful to Google for the technology of the Blogger that allows me to put these ideas together easily and post them "out there" for anyone to see. I am grateful for the rain today which is helping the plants to grow and is washing off the needles of the pine outside my window. I am grateful for problems to solve, for laundry to do, for the time I have to reflect upon my life.
And, by the way, the Cafe Gratitude has wonderful food if you are in the San Francisco area. Stop in for a meal or to buy a bowl with the words: "What are you grateful for?" in the bottom. Or simply etch these words in your heart and let them appear when you look at anything carefully.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Saturday, April 10, 2010
“Everyday life is the way.”
A wonderful PBS program on “The Life of the Buddha” reminded me of this central tenet of Buddhist thought: The path to wisdom is found in our ordinary activities, in the way we make our meals and fold the laundry, sweep the steps and feed the cat. I know this, and I forget. I want to live this truth and also to reflect upon it. Starting today I vow to spend some time each day to consider this.
I plan to choose an everyday object to start the conversation.
On this “Day 1” of my project I picked my favorite teacup. This cup was made by the potter, Sandy Kreyer . It is beautifully made, exceedingly strong. The enamel finish is thick and shiny. It is not prone to chip or crack and feels good as I hold it. It is a sturdy cup and deep. The hand painted design is lovely. Each time I use it filled with Earl Grey tea with milk and sweetener I can't help but smile. Such beauty arouses my pleasure. Form, color and function join to bring me a happy moment not only while drinking the tea and holding the cup, but also when washing it or hanging it on a hook in the kitchen.
There are so many objects in my world that stand ready to serve me and to delight my senses. I've never noticed the teacup complaining when I leave it dirty on the side table. It "lives" (if you will) to serve me. So it is fitting that I treat it with respect and consideration. It even makes sense to me to thank it. "Thank you, teacup, you are always there for me." And, thank you, Sandy Kreyer, for sitting at your wheel to make this cup.
Begin to look around and notice the objects that are "there" for you.