Monday, December 29, 2008

The Most Beautiful Thing

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” (Albert Einstein, What I Believe)

I love this Einstein quotation.

I put it on a coffee mug for my oldest son, that I designed on Zazzle. (The mug, not my son.)

It's hard to see on these little images of the mug that I captured on the Zazzle site, but here is the painting that I used:

Divination, acrylic on canvas

Horizontal worked best for the mug of course, but this is one of those pieces that I can see being hung different ways, even more so because it is a diptych. I show it three different ways on my Etsy site.

I like being able to give art or things based on my art as gifts. It seems more personal, but I don't want to overdo it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Bead Craft with the Girl Scouts

On Saturday we did a fun craft with our little Girl Scout troop. A few weeks ago a local craft store was offering a class on beaded ornament hangers and our head honcho troop leader (I'm one of three) said she was thinking of learning how to make the little beaded thingies and asked if I was interested in going. I looked at the picture and said, Oh, those are easy. We can do that. So, we shopped for wire and a few packages of beads to supplement the stores of unused craft beads hanging around my house, and VOILA:

The moms got to work cutting and bending the wire, while the girls ran around and played, then the Girl Scouts got busy and very creative and made a number of hangers. Even a five year old brother made a few beautiful hangers. After almost an hour of steady focus on the craft, the girls started drifting upstairs to play, and the moms kept at it for another 45 minutes, totally engrossed in creating little objects and conversation. It was nice, a kind of quilting bee gathering. We came away with some lovely ornament hangers, and the girls were very into it, working intently with no bickering or whining for almost an hour; I have to declare it a successful GS craft.

R favored a definite color scheme.

We think they really dress up simple glass balls and tree ornaments.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Traditional Christmas Toffee

I often find that the best things in life are the simplest. This goes for my two most requested recipes. Both have few ingredients and are simple to make. The first is an artichoke dip that I had about 25 years ago and recreated later and have been making ever since. And the second is this toffee.

We discovered this simple toffee recipe when I was a child, in a crudely bound Methodist women's cookbook. I make it every year. I don't have an actual recipe, but I will try to explain how to do it.

1 stick butter (accept no imitations)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup pecans (about)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (about)

Coarsely chop or break up pecans to cover the bottom of a 9x9 inch pan.

In a medium sauce pan, heat butter and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat. This is a moderate boil; let the mixture foam and rise up in the pan. Stir frequently rubbing the bottom of the pan so the sugar will not scorch. Boil/simmer for 7 minutes. You want it to turn a little darker, but not burn.

Turn out sugar mixture onto the pecans in the baking pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips over and cover with a cutting board or cookie sheet with a kitchen towel in it for insulation. Check after 5 or so minutes to see if the chips look wet, then spread around with knife or spatula.

Let cool and set. When the chocolate is hard, break into pieces.

Make 2 batches. Eat some. Make another batch. Pass out to friends and enjoy.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Still thinking too

So, here's the deal. I kept meaning to write about something else. I intended to write about the vegan cauliflower-pear-turmeric soup I drastically adapted the other day, the sudden frigid weather and its effect on our garden, or thoughts about art matters. I meant to move on. But in a way, following the obituary I posted last time with any of these other mundane things seemed so superficial that I felt ...paralyzed by it.

Yesterday, on a cold grey day with a little sleet and slush and a warning not to travel if you didn't have to, we drove to Grand Prairie to attend the "Celebration Service" for Nicholas, a bright, vibrant 14 year old whose life ended so unexpectedly. The place was packed. Absolutely filled with people of all ages, but most notably with so many kids, adolescents at that funny in-between age, looking like kids and looking like young men and young women. So young, and they don't realize how young, how new and unformed.

It was a wonderful, and completely non-conventional, service. We were impressed by how nicely the service respected the differing beliefs of all the family and people involved; it was very well done. We all were moved, and moved to tears and to laughter, by the comments and the pictures and short videos appearing on the two screens.

There was no doubt that this boy was loved.

We heard stories and memories of this delightful child from family, teachers and from his young friends and class and teammates. The service really focused on the life of Nicholas Scroggs. However, one of the most moving things in the service was when the man who struck the boy on the highway came up to speak at the request of the family. I so applaud and am in such awe of the spirit and ...I don't know...acceptance and generosity of the Scroggs family in being able to accept this person (who is hurting and questioning too) and wanting him to speak at the service for their child. Really, this absolutely blows me away. What he read at the service were thoughts and questions from a post on his blog.

This afternoon, I picked up my youngest child, 11, at school after choir practice. I was looking at her as we were planning what needed to get done this evening, and opening the Christmas cards from friends and family that I had saved for her to help open. And I was thinking of what Pastor Bart said yesterday and in his blog, about seeing Nick running across the highway, glorious, perfect, an athlete, in those last seconds.

I hope the extended family and loving friends can find comfort in how truly extraordinary their child was and was seen and appreciated by everyone around him, by how many came out that cold day to honor and remember him. And by the thoughts and tributes and memories of all the people who stepped up that icy day to pay tribute to Nicholas.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Nicholas Alexander Scroggs (age 14), in memoriam

A child of friends of ours, Nicholas Scroggs, died on Thursday in a totally senseless accident.

A sweet, polite, smart, sensitive kid.

Celebration Services for Nicholas Alexander Scroggs (age 14) of Grand
Prairie, TX, will be 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, December 16, 2008 at the Ruthe
Jackson Center in Grand Prairie. Nicholas died December 11, 2008 in
Grand Prairie. He was born to Robert and Barbara Dent Scroggs August
18, 1994 in Denton and was attending Grand Prairie High School. Nick
was taking a full slate of Gifted & Talented classes at Grand Prairie
High School where he was also a member of the swim team and a friend
to everyone. He had a passion for reading, drawing, and playing all
types of musical instruments, especially the drums. He was always
gung- ho about trying new experiences and his smile and energy were
contagious to everyone. Left behind to cherish his memory are parents
Robert Scroggs and his wife Katherine of Grand Prairie, Barbara
Brumbaugh and her husband Don of NRH, brother Houston Chapman, sister
Madalyn Brumbaugh, grandparents Jack and Charlotte Scroggs of Denton
and Charles and Lee Dent of Poncha Springs, CO, great grandmothers
Genevieve Scroggs of Denton and Ethel Dill of Fort Collins, CO, and
many aunts, uncles, and cousins who also loved him dearly. Memorial
contributions are suggested to the Nicholas Scroggs Memorial Fund.

Please warn your children of the danger of highways, and remember this bereaved family in your thoughts and your hearts.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

New Abstract Painting: Which Way Is Up?

Have you ever looked at an abstract piece of art and not been sure which side was supposed to be the top?

I painted this painting that I finished today with a definite opinion about what the top was, but when I looked at it finished, I thought, Hmmm, that could work another way.

I thought this way looked ok too. And then...

I asked my oldest son which side he thought was the top, and he turned it around this last way. When my 11 year old daughter came home from school, I asked her, and she said that it definitely was supposed to go the way I had painted it in the first place.

What do you think??

By the way, we discovered that a painting by Matisse was hung upside down in the Museum of Modern art in New York, for 47 days...or about 116,000 views. !

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Trip to Iowa Part 2: Snow and Kansas City Ethiopian

Rn or I had never been north before in the fall or winter. When you are bound to a school schedule, almost all your traveling takes place in the summer months. We were hoping for SNOW, a nice snowy, picturesque Iowa Thanksgiving, over the river and through the woods in the sleigh to grandma's house. Well, it was cold (we bought gloves and thermals in preparation for the trip) but sunny, very sunny, the whole time, until the morning we left.

An hour or two down the road we started getting drizzly rain, then suddenly we said, Hey, is that slushy frozen stuff in those little raindrops on the windshield. Just as we crossed into Missouri, it turned into full fledged snow with the flakes getting bigger and fluffier as we continued (strangely enough) south. Not long after crossing into Missouri, we had to pull off the highway and stop to see how the snow was falling. (Okay, I know a lot of people are thinking, Yeah, we had to put up with snow on Thanksgiving week, big deal, but we live in Texas, so snow always seems a little miraculous.)

So then, of course, we had to get out and run around in it, on this barren side street in northern Missouri.

And then it was necessary that a snowball fight ensue:

By the time we got to Kansas City, it was just a cold drizzle, and we had put off stopping for lunch to go to the Blue Nile for Ethiopian food. It was R's first experience with having big, flat bread as a plate and eating with no utensils. She enjoyed the injera and a few of the milder offerings, like the lentils and carrots with turmeric, on the double order of this vegetarian plate we had, with a sampling of all of these things:

1. Gomen - $8.95
Fresh collard greens cooked and seasoned with onion, ginger, and garlic.

2. Misir Watt - $8.95
A stew made from organic red lentils cooked with sautéed onion and berbere, then flavored with ginger, garlic, and cardamom.

3. Atiklett - $8.95
Cabbage mixed with chunks of potatoes and carrot cooked with yellow onion and flavored with ginger, garlic, and trmeric.

4. Yekik Watt - $7.95
Seasoned yellow split peas slowly cooked with ginger, turmeric and garlic.

5. Fosolia - $8.95
Fresh green beans and carrots cooked with onions, fresh garlic, turmeric and ginger.

6. Mushroom Shiro - $8.95
Roasted and powdered chickpeas and sliced mushroom simmered in spiced red sauce.

7. Dinich Watt - $7.95
Chunks of potatoes cooked with garlic seasoned in tomato and berbere sauce.

8. Shimbera Assa - $10.95
Baked and sliced ground, garbanzo bean dough, simmered in a medium spiced stew with onions, berbere, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and a touch of mustard and nutmeg..

9. Veggie Combination - $12.95
A platter featuring items #1 through #8.

It was all quite yummy, but what I think she enjoyed most was the attention and instruction from the super friendly young waitress who explained to her all about the traditional Ethiopian table and eating styles in the family and the Ethiopian alphabet. This young woman was absolutely adorable, as I whispered to Edward, and then when we went up to pay, and R was busily creating a personal note writing code for her, she whispered to us about R, She is adorable. So cute. It was a great eating experience.

About my garden in December: When we got back I really needed to water, but the plants looked pretty good. On Dec 2, I harvested a number of tomatoes and a beautiful orange pepper.

Mid-morning today it was a very temperate 65, but a little after noon it became very windy and grey and winter was blowing in. Now, a couple of hours after we left Edward's parents' they got the same winter storm that we ran into on the drive back and got 4-6 inches of that snow R and I had been hoping for. This evening in Texas, rain and sleet or snow and sleet are in the forecast. It won't stick, but it would be nice to see it fall. We've just got to get out and pick or cover all the little delicate things growing in our garden.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thanksgiving in Iowa: Part 1: Clinton, Thai, Veggie Dinner and RiversideTrek

It has been a while since my last post, because the Monday before Thanksgiving we loaded up the car and made the drive from warm, sunny Texas to Iowa. The long way. Through Little Rock, Arkansas (a five hour drive in itself) where we stopped for a quick view of the Clinton Library. Though we only had an hour before the museum closed, it was quite fascinating, entertaining and well worth the trip. And the building itself is very striking, with the second floor stretching out toward the river, invoking the phrase, "Building a bridge to the 21st century."

R and I
in front of the Wm. J. Clinton Presidential Library
photo by Edward McGuire

Several hours later we stopped in Fayetteville, Arkansas, a college town, for some of the best Thai food I have ever put in my mouth, amazing, in the old downtown area. I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant, but go there! Really. The town isn't that big; you'll find it. Rowan even devoured hers, ordered mild, one star out of five. My green coconut curry with lots of veggies and tofu, ordered at 3 star heat, was perfect.

After dinner we were lured by hints of shining light to stroll down the street to the town square, which was an amazing Christmas wonderland of lights, festooning every tree, arbor, bench...just everywhere...with carols playing and families and couples walking around in the late night cold, looking up and being as amazed as we were.

As a woman who had never made a complete Thanksgiving dinner in my life, this year I was a little anxious about making two, for other people who are not vegetarians. On Sunday my grown children gathered at my house before our trip and had dinner, with a vegan roast of tofu, wheat gluten and other "weird" veggie stuff, plus traditional seasonal sides. But I knew these guys were going to go to my mom's on Thursday for the full traditional turkey and dressing meal.

My in-laws, however, hadn't really been exposed to vegetarian cooking AND this trip was the first time I'd be cooking for them. In addition to veggie "meat" I made a lot of very traditional things like mashed potatoes, gravy (no giblets), dressing (no giblets), green bean casserole and the fresh cranberry relish that I take to my mom's every year. Edward and R made pumpkin pies (I made the crust but made Edward roll it out. He claimed I was welshing on the deal, but I was feeling a little overwhelmed at that point.) Everything was very well received
and complimented, and they were happy to eat leftovers the next evening before heading to Des Moines for the ballet.

Edward's mom and dad/step-father live outside an Iowa town on a Christmas tree farm. The busy season started up on Friday, and R lent Grandpa Fred a hand and learned how to make wreaths from fresh tree boughs they gathered.

R and Fred intent on their work

Friday Edward, R and I went on a little road trip to the small town of Riverside, Iowa.

Yes, really.

Across from the town park, the Starship Enterprise was parked alongside an equal sized shuttle craft.
Edward did a great job when I looked down the block and yelled, "Quick, you've got to get a picture of this!"

Modes of transportation?
The past and the future meet in the present in Riverside

After picking up our tickets for the ballet in the Civic Center lobby, we were startled by loud cracking sounds and hurried see a spectacular fireworks display just a few blocks away at the tree lighting. Our spot on the chilly sidewalk was a perfect viewing place. That has to be one of the most delightful joys in life, coming upon unexpected fireworks. Our busy Friday ended with an enchanting performance of The Nutcracker. I love that magical moment when it begins to snow.

And here is our own little worn out princess, dreaming her Christmas dreams.

All photos, except the sleeping beauty, by Edward McGuire.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mail! Artist Business Cards

My business cards from Moo came in the mail today. They are terrific. The images on the front sides printed very nicely...

...and all my website and contact info is on the back. I'm really pleased.

It was a good mail day; I also got a used book I ordered from Abe books and a package with a couple of little stocking stuffer type gifts from an Etsy something handmade. I like that. I am shockingly behind on Christmas shopping. I can't believe Thanksgiving is next week. I'm happy for what I can get accomplished online.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New Poetry Anthology by Incarnate Muse Press

Michelle Rhea and Anita M. Barnard of Incarnate Muse Press are proud, pleased and relieved to announce that the second Volume of the poetry anthology, Above Us Only Sky, is now at the printers and will be available soon through the website, and in time for the Los Angeles reading on Sunday, November 23 at 11am. Center for Inquiry Los Angeles, 4773 Hollywood Blvd. The event including lunch is free and open to the public.

I will not be attending because of various family responsibilities in Texas and Iowa that week, but Michelle will be there, a few of the poets appearing in the anthology, and a couple of guest readers who will be reading poetry from both volumes 1 and 2.

This is one of my favorite poems from the first volume of Above Us Only Sky.

I am always amazed

that most people
believe in that which
they cannot see

and belittle me
for being agnostic--
a coarse, flip-flopping description
of omission

they do not understand

not knowing
is beautiful
it opens the world
to me like an iris

I am not adrift but in search
not for an end but a be-ing
in harmony not with the river's
source but its flow

we are surrounded by
only believers surrender to it
and I yearn to divine it

the point is not
where the spirit
comes from but
where it leads

which for me is
to earth
and I have no need
to worship it

Dan Logan

© 2003. All rights remain with authors.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Art Prints and the Business of Art

Over the last two days I have been selecting and loading digital images of a few of my paintings, collages and photographs to the website Imagekind. I have been noticing a number of artists with their own sites and with gallery representation directing possible customers to this site to purchase art prints.

From the site: Imagekind ( is the world's fastest-growing art site offering over 750,000 high-quality fine art images for sale. Imagekind gives consumers limitless options to purchase museum-quality framed and poster art from over 50,000 domestic and international emerging and established artists.

Serving as a community for professional artists to create and sell their work, Imagekind's goal is to develop a new online art experience that provides both consumers and artists with a new outlet for sharing, creating and buying art from digital files.

Night Flow
acrylic on canvas
virtually matted and framed

One thing that is fun with Imagekind is the ability to see all your work as matted and framed prints in different sizes and with a huge variety of different framing options. Images are also available printed on canvas, as a nice quality card (if the artist approves that option) or just as a simple print with no framing. It has been interesting for me to play around with all the options for my images in my Imagekind gallery.

This seems like a valuable service for artists who may not have large format printers and archival inks and do not have to spend the time away from their art to print and ship, and for buyers who would like a piece of an artist's work, but are not ready to invest in an original.

There are a number of online resources these days to help artists negotiate the business end of their field, prompt them to promote their art and instruct them that they must be business people as well as artists. I am not much of a business person and am definitely a little allergic to financial concerns and anything too much like math. (I also often feel like promoting feels a little bit pushy and full of myself.) But I do read a couple of blogs like Alyson Stanfield's Art Biz Blog. She also has a book about artists self-promoting with a great title, I'd Rather Be in the Studio.

One small piece of advice I picked up from her is to use your name for your art business, and I used that advice a few weeks ago when I opened up my etsy shop for fine art. Yesterday I decided to set up a business email. So, with Edward's, okay, Edward did it all, I just decided on the address name...I now have, just for art matters.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day, the Walk to School, and the Right to Vote

This morning I walked my daughter to school, and her thoughts were all about the election. R would like to see a woman elected president, and I hope that someday she will, but this morning I spoke to her about choosing a candidate not just by gender or race or belief system, but because of that person's qualifications and goals. As I was talking about intelligence and experience, R patted her chest and said "Heart. Someone with a good heart." I had to agree that all the native intelligence and political savvy in the world just doesn't matter if the person is not kind and determined to do the best things to help and care for the people in this country and its neighbors. R liked the idea that the country is made of the people all around us, that she IS this country.

She was also amazed when we got to her school at all the red, white and blue signs posted in the lawn.

"Were these here yesterday!?"

At the time our country was established, voting rights, though not dictated by the Constitution or federal law, were held by white men of property.

Before the Civil War some northern states extended the right to vote to free black men. In 1870 the 15th Amendment guaranteed the right vote for all men.

"Votes for women were first seriously proposed in the United States in July, 1848, at the Seneca Falls Woman's Rights Convention organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. One woman who attended that convention was Charlotte Woodward. She was nineteen at the time. In 1920, when women finally won the vote throughout the nation, Charlotte Woodward was the only participant in the 1848 Convention who was still alive to cast her vote. Eighty-one years old, she cast her vote proudly." (by Jone Johnson Lewis)

The women who marched on Washington and worked through education and peaceful demonstration to win the right to vote for themselves and their daughters were often reviled and tortured. A group of these suffragettes, arrested for "obstructing sidewalk traffic", were imprisoned, chained, left hanging in chains from bars overnight, beaten, choked, fed gruel crawling with worms and force fed with tubes shoved down their throats by their jailers when they refused to eat it. All because they wanted the right to cast their vote.

They don't teach us these things in school. The Women's Suffrage Movement and quest for women's rights are glossed over, treated as not so serious as the fight against unfair stamp taxes or the Civil Rights movement, and the torture inflicted on these women completely ignored.

I voted on Thursday, and I'm such a sloppy sentimentalist at times, when I cast my ballot I got a little choked up. Then I walked out of our neighborhood community center and watched a small bent woman make her slow way with her cane and tiny steps to the door to cast her vote. And I thought of both my grandmothers, one who never learned to drive and whose mobility was limited after her husband died, who walked or carpooled to work the elections until she was no longer able, and my grandma who would have been 90 and is missing her first election ever this year, even though, or maybe because, they were born into a world where women were not allowed to vote.

So, moms and teachers, nurses and office workers, women doctors and women CEOs today take that 30 minutes out of your busy schedule, put off the laundry, trip to the grocery store or one last brief to file and go out and claim your hard-purchased right to vote. And if you have to decide between voting and getting your daughter to her dance class or soccer practice, just for today let her skip and take her with you to the polls, let her see you cast your ballot and tell her about the women who went through so much, less than 90 years ago, to insure that you, and that your daughter will be able to vote.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

First November Tomato Harvest and Blog Interview

Saturday afternoon tomato harvest,
mostly San Marzanos

I love getting tomatoes into mid fall. At noon Saturday we were baking in the sun at the elementary school football game (I have a bright pink triangle of skin at my collar bone to prove it.) And I might wish for just a bit cooler, autumnal weather, but I am not in a hurry for a real frost to come along and kill off my tomatoes and herbs. In fact, we've been known to go out after dark with sheets and plastic tarps, and even heat lamps a time or two, to try and protect our plants and prolong the season as much as possible.

Also, this weather just like it is makes it perfect for dining out on the deck - one of my favorite things.

Blog Interview: Fabric artist and doll-maker Donna has posted a very nice feature and interview with me and my art on her blog today. Stop by and check it out.

Here is one of Donna's fairy creations:

Fall Fairy fiber sculpted fantasy art doll

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween, Samhain and Storybook Parade

Today's work of art:

Watch out or you'll get hexed.
R as Bellatrix LaStrange
at the school Storybook Parade

I don't have anything new ready to post, but I do have this small collage from a year or so ago in seasonal colors - much more orange than I usually use.

Fabric and paper collage with
acrylic painted papers 5x7

Also, check out my Etsy site for views of Divination, an acrylic on canvas diptych I painted a few weeks ago. (One of the ones I was struggling to photography well the other day.)

May you all get all the candy corn and chocolate you wish for!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Back in the technological age and Back to School

I haven't written a blog post in a while, or even been on the computer. Last week Microsoft sent an automatic update, and my poor old and overburdened computer just gave up the ghost. Now, thanks to Edward and Damon (my oldest) working hard into several nights and the addition of a number of Damon's computer part hand me downs plus new stuff, I am back in business with a spiffy new processor that glows neon blue and has lots and lots of room for more art files. And all the stuff on my old drive and the new equipment even seem to be playing nicely with each other.

Thanks guys!

My daughter is very happy to be back in school after her bout of mono. She seems to have had a fairly mild case. She just cannot participate in any strenuous sports or do anything that might result in impacts to her body, because of the enlarged spleen, danger of rupture thing. Dodgeball is definitely out.

I need to get back out and paint some more very soon. And I am finally going to overcome my fears and grout this piece that combines collage, photographs I took in Italy and mosaic. The piecing has been finished for a couple of months. It's very different for me, just hope I don't mess it up with the grout.

Tuscan collage mosaic in progress
photographs and images under tempered glass
(this is before the mosaic piecing was finished)

But right now I am going to take my cat to the vet and go and VOTE.

You must be the change you want to see in the world.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Photographing Paintings, Diagnosing Mono and Posting Collages

acrylic on canvas 20x16

I spent a good deal of time yesterday with the tripod set up in the living room taking pictures of a number of paintings...or at least attempting to. I have learned that adjusted white balance and a smidgen of sharpening in an image program (thanks Michelle!) can really help to get the photo to look like the work of art.

This morning I took my daughter to the doctor with a very sore throat and neck and headache and found out she has mono. Now, she's only just turned 11, so I doubt she's been kissing anyone. The pediatrician said it's like the worst sore throat in your life, and that it would probably get worse before it gets better, but she is in good spirits, if a little bored. She was asking this afternoon if certain friends could be asked over to play....uh, I'm not too sure that their moms would be too crazy about that idea!

Needless to say, I didn't get much art or photographing of art done today, but I did post these 2 collages on my Etsy shop this afternoon. Completely without titles! If anyone can come up with some suggestions for me, just let me brain is without ideas right now.

Handmade art collage composed of paper, fabric, highly textured handmade paper, acrylic painted papers, found and repurposed images. 10x8

Friday, October 17, 2008

More Paintings and Mutant Peppers

I haven't yet titled this painting I did a couple of weeks ago, but I'm thinking about giving it the name of an imaginary city from a series of books. I wonder if that would be okay?

The painting is 8x10, small enough that I could lay it on the scanner and not have to deal with the issues of lighting, digital photography settings and learning the new camera. Unfortunately, I can't do that with every painting, and I think I am going be experimenting with taking pictures of a larger diptych later today.

Two posts ago, there was a picture of my jalapeno plant with little red and green peppers. The little peppers are shorter, smaller, more rounded than the usual jalapeno. That's because the plant is one of the hybrids developed by Texas A&M University that is supposed to have the same taste but half the heat of the traditional jalapeno. I planted one of these and one regular jalapeno, in large pots about 8 feet apart. Which was evidently too close. Both plants have little rounded hot peppers. The other day I came in from the yard and put these 2 peppers in Edward's hand. He came down the hall a few hours later with watering eyes to report on the heat of the "mild" pepper he had just taken a bite out of.

In the garden on Friday, I planted a row of mixed "Gourmet blend" beets, the picture on the seed packet is very pretty, and some more arugula. I noticed that several almost thread thin fennel seedlings had cropped up. I'm hoping the cats don't stroll across them until they are a bit sturdier.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Art Collages on Photrade

Last week I wrote that I had figured out how to watermark my images in GIMP and also that I joined Photrade and started putting the pictures from my Italy trip up.


I have also posted a number of my collages on Photrade. It's an interesting idea that people I don't know are looking at my photos and collages...well over 600 views, and that they could order prints, or even make mugs and mouse pads out of my images.

Silent in Stone

It's been a while since I've worked on a collage, because I have been focusing more on mosaics and painting recently, but as I was waking up Sunday morning I was planning a series of collages in my head.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The October Garden and the White House Lawn

Raindrops on Canna leaf

I love this time of the year. Everything is crisp and refreshed and greening back up again with a little autumn rain. The walk to school with my daughter is wonderful; every morning seems like a new beginning. Here in Texas October is a new growing season, when the garden comes back to life after the hot dry summer. Last night's wonderful rain has made the colors lush and the plants revive.

We have about 20 dark green poblanos on our one pepper plant.

Arugula seedlings

The baby greens are coming up from seed, little bitty Swiss chard, a few romaine seedlings and the arugula. I still have to plant some spinach and some more arugula which I mean to plant every few weeks for a while, so we will continue to have the young tender greens for salads.

We are still getting a couple of okra every day, but they have really slowed down, and I'm sure will bow out to the cool weather soon.

Our globe eggplant plant which gave us only one eggplant this summer now has half a dozen tennis ball sized fruits and more tiny ones forming under calyxes. The slender Japanese eggplant has one fruit and lots of blooms, but I doubt those will have time to do anything before the cold weather gets it.

We have harvested a few San Marzano tomatoes this month and have dozens of green ones all over this one plant that is sprawling all over the garden now. There are more green tomatoes on some of the other varieties of tomatoes, all tangled together with and under the San Marzano...pushy Sicilian!

Tiny tomatoes grown from heirloom seed

The peppers on the jalapeno plant look like red and green Christmas bulbs. We have been picking these constantly, more than we use, all summer and fall.

Speaking of kitchen gardens
, the people at Kitchen Gardens International have been running a campaign to have part of the wide expanse of the White House lawn replaced with an organic vegetable garden. Historically the White House grounds have included a garden; Thomas Jefferson had a vegetable garden and Eleanor Roosevelt planted a Victory garden. Produce would go to feed the people at the White House, First family and staff eating local homegrown organic food, the excess to be donated to a local food bank.

Author Michael Pollan wrote a very thorough article, Farmer in Chief, addressed to the president-elect, in the Sunday New York Times that champions this idea.

KGI's campaign to plant healthy, edible landscapes in high-impact, high-visibility places is called Eat the View.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tuscany Pictures and Photrade

A few weeks ago, Edward sent me an invitation to Photrade, a new site for photo storage, sharing and possible sales that he was trying out.

So, I signed up and took the opportunity to begin sorting through all my pictures from my trip to Italy with Michelle 2 years ago, doing a little walk down memory lane while finally labeling and describing the pics.

Here are a couple of examples:

San Biagio, Montepulciano
with olive trees and a vineyard.
I loved Montepulciano.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence,
and its reflection in the Arno.

I have several pages of photos in my Italy gallery on Photrade so far, and about that many more to go.

Friday, October 10, 2008

What I learned

When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college - that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared at me, incredulous, and said, "You mean they forget?" ~Howard Ikemoto

Today I learned how to use the layers dialog in GIMP (kinda like Photoshop) and apply a watermark to images of artwork or photos. I felt intimidated at first, but it wasn't too difficult, and easy as pie the second time. I learned from the tutorial at eHow.

The image of this painting was then posted at my new esty shop for fine art.

Trade Winds

I painted this one last week...evidently while I was time traveling. Think anyone will notice?