Sunday, February 27, 2011

Snow's gone. Labyrinth clear. Dollivers go.

The six word bio of yesterday's Dolliver adventure forms the title of today's post.

Finally the snow has gone, for now anyway, and as I was urgently in need of a labyrinth outing, what with long winter, tiredness, general depression and feelings of oh, poor me, intervening among happier passages.

So the Ds. insisted they come. The little Kitchen Witch explained that since she knows about magic and helping and powers we can't see, she had no need of a new costume at all, being fully equipped for any eventuality, but she insisted that this be her first outing of her life.

Big D however thought her handcrocheted lace dress and a headband would be a suitably humble yet lovely outfit, and Porcelain D borrowed shorts to go with her dress, and decided on a headband, too, which made her look unnervingly like John McEnroe in drag, but never mind.

They agreed to stay respectfully out of the center of the labyrinth, under the Tibetan prayer flags, which brush my hair as I walk the labyrinth, very pleasingly, like an unearthly touch. I found a piece of green glass which I put in the center of the labyrinth when I reached it and stood for a few minutes, just letting things be.

Things included music which a neighbor suddenly started blasting out of the garage while he worked on his car. Remembering the Shakuhachi Effect -- everything that happens is part of what happens, not an interruption of what happens -- I just went on.

It has been true on every labyrinth visit that whatever problems I present as I enter get some kind of response before I leave. This time it was about tiredness, long winter, feeling of cabin fever in all parts of life at times. And on the way out, came swimming up from the subconscious the thought, clear as anything: most of what you want is fantasy.

Now this really rocked me. Given that want has several different meanings, desire, need, lack, and more. And given that fantasy might mean more life of the imagination, or might mean unrealistic hopes and dreams for some life that isn't mine, or might mean taking pleasure in simply examining lives, mine and others. A lot of material to deal with.

Anyway, a great visit.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wallpapering Together

They say that the decision most likely to cause massive if not terminal domestic strife is innocently stumbled on when the couple decide to wallpaper together. I speak as a survivor.

Some background: as you know, HP was a nuclear scientist till he retired, and I am an artist until they carry me out. This means very different ways of seeing the world and intuiting it. He was a chemist which is good, because typically chemists have a great sensitivity to color, and he does enjoy my work hanging on the walls.

However, scientists tend to like the plan and design and THEN execute school of thought. Artists, at least my kind, are more along the lines of ready, fire, AIM! When you have one of each in a couple you have the makings of a very exciting time.

I was reminded of this a couple of days ago, when HP's physio, the marvellous Emil, was here, and we had observed that one exercise which involves hoisting HP to his feet several times, with huge assist from Emil, also made HP's feet slip a bit, despite the athletic shoes, on the laminate floor. So I wondered if a section of nonskid shelf lining, often used in rehabs to make walker handles and chair arms nonskid, might work underfoot too.

Emil, ever open, despite his massive expertise, to learning anything new, was fine with trying it. HP the scientist said, oh, that won't work. No advance planning, no scribbled notes on paper, I guess was his reasoning. I said, well, let's just see.

It worked just fine. And E. commented, well that's the difference between the science and the art approach! in both cases, though scientists and artists are quite used to things not working quite as hoped, and persevering nonetheless.

And it took my memory right back, straight as an arrow, to the time we wallpapered the kitchen in the first house we owned. This was a house built in the 1920s with all the quirks you would expect in a Sears Roebuck kit house with extra ideas added in by the owner. The kitchen had three doors opening onto it, and the sort of walls that the passage of time has um mellowed, or bellied a bit, normal in a plastered house of that period.

So we had the wallpaper. Big cheerful sunflowers and green vines or something. Bear with me, it was the early 70s., this was All The Rage at that time. If you want to see almost the exact pattern, look at the DVD of Bob Newhart's first season of the Bob Newhart Show. I rest my case. And I will not mention the orange shag rug in the dining room. Or the forest green accent wall in the living room. Draw a veil over it is a good idea. Actually a veil would probably have been a good idea at the time, too.

Soooooo, the kitchen. I thought we should work around until we met, going in opposite directions. And my approach was to wet the paper, slap it up, gently shift it into position, cut it in at the ceiling and around the many obstacles, and it looked just fine. HP made many little diagrams with measurements and little arrows and runic inscriptions then transferred the diagrams fullsize onto the wallpaper, and THEN cut it out and applied it to the wall, and it looked fine.

Came the part where we were to meet, and he was horrified when I butted together the edges where we met, then cut around the flower motifs to make the join invisible. I wasn't exhibiting art at that point, that came later, but I had a feeling for how to fool the eye, anyway.

But HP never got over the fact that though my half of the room looked fine, which he conceded, I had cheated by failing to measure and mark ahead of time!!

Fast forward to the current artwork: freeform tapestry, no advance planning other than to gather up my handspun yarn in colors that like each other, and warping the frame with string. That's it. Now, there are tapestry weavers who have the HP approach, of planning and calculating the yardage and the psi concerns, and make a cartoon, that's a rough drawing, to install behind the warp to follow as they work.

I did try that at the outset, not wishing to assume I wouldn't like it, and I hated it. All the fun went into the drawing and all that was left was dull stuff! but to those who always work that way, make wonderful artworks, good for you.

Anyway, HP is finally reconciled to my working this way and now that he's seen a lot of results he thinks maybe it's okay after all. Particularly since I was just offered a solo exhibit in fiber works for Spring 2012, all my choice of items.

Adventure stretching ahead..

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Of jewels, beans and Poseidon

There was one of those neat features in the NYT today about finding materials to plant in the kitchen: those dried beans and various seeds and lentils and other things we think of as food but which can be planted.

Ever since I read a book years ago called something like The After Dinner Gardener, which was about planting the pits from your dessert orange and that kind of thing, I've been a pushover for planting whatever I find around me, but had unaccountably overlooked lentils and beans. Now, given that they might have been irradiated to exterminate various dread ailments, they may not sprout at all, but no harm in trying.

So I started pawing through the kitchen cabinets and found a bag of bean soup beans, many kinds, in the freezer. I hope freezing hasn't done them in, but I figured I may as well plant a few, so I put them in a bowl to soak for a day. And realized that the beef bones which, most unlike me, never do beef, in the freezer, are waiting to be processed into stock and united with this bean soup mix for a great family soup. So the bones are now roasting, the beans are now soaking for food purposes and a selection is soaking for planting.

They look exactly like little jewels, too good to eat. I'll keep you updated on their progress if they have any progress. I think I'll put them in the glass gardens, why not.

Other updates: years ago I made a lot of art together with another artist, Stefi Mandelbaum, under the monicker Unified Field. We did very well, as Unified, juried into some very respectable places, and even made sales, gads, as well as continuing our solo art adventures. It was great fun to keep our real identities concealed, and collect people's surmises. At one point we were thought to be a couple of young male bikers!!

Anyway, Stefi has now committed a blog, which you can find (I don't do hotlinks, since to me they are like call waiting, I'd rather not interrupt your reading in here) by googling on her name, going to her blog, then finding the page entitled Unified Field, where all will be revealed, how we arrived at the name, how we worked, and some of the works we created together.

Here's Poseidon, a mixed media piece, three image transfers from polaroids we took of our own earlier works, on a torn paper background. Please forgive the distortion -- it was the only way I could get a picture of a black piece under glass without having my own reflection front and center or a big glare from the flash.

But do mosey over to Stefi's blog and take a look at her art, too, while you're checking up on Unified Field. Good stuff there.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Three Snowdrops! must be Spring..

Finally the snow receded to where I could stumble around on the patio and see if any snowdrops had braved it all and there were three sticking up gallantly from the snow and ice, blooming away. More to come, but the total snowdrop garden is about eight flowers, so three is a representative number.

I love snowdrops, because they come through no matter what. Some years they bloom and fade all under the snow, but they seem not to care about that. And though Lucia in the Benson books despises them because they hang their heads (!) I love how you have to get up close and personal to see into their faces.

HP was thrilled with this sign of Spring that I set up in a little glass of water near him.

Meanwhile his flower requirements were being met by an orchid which blooms faithfully every year in the house.

According to the New York Times, this blog, or rather this form, is dying, speaking of coming through no matter what. They claim that Facebook and Twitter have taken over entirely. Hm. I don't THINK so! they eventually got to the point of realizing that blogs are for actual sharing of thoughts and ideas and questions and solutions, not for telling people we've just parked the car and now we're getting out and now we're crossing the parking lot, truly riveting information. I wonder if everyone's talking and nobody's listening to that sort of exciting stuff. But as they say, if you like that kind of thing, it's exactly the kind of thing you'd like..

Meanwhile, back at the blogstand, this one and its sister blog, Art, the Beautiful Metaphor, aren't going away any time soon. Oh, and our Field and Fen journals, talking about going on no matter what, are as follows: Nautilus is now in Alaska, next stop will be New Zealand, and Treasure Everywhere is in Vancouver, next stop the Bay Area. These journals have crisscrossed geography and lives, some in struggling mode, some frantically busy but with good stuff, all willing to take a shot at the journal. The journals got separated in the course of traveling, but that's fine, they'll get there! and thank you to everyone who has taken part already and to those patiently waiting their turn!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Snow White and other awful ideas

No, no, poison!

Just heard the local classical music station with a program I'd never heard before -- music written for the movies. Okay, since I rarely see movies, I figured this should be new to me, and I started to listen as I drove down a busy road en route to Target about which more anon.

And almost went off the road with PTSD when they started in on songs from the accursed Snow White. And after the Target trip, to the library to decompress, and I found an obliging child had put up a collection of stuffed toys, which agreed to be models for the narrative. Snow White has brown, not blue, eye color, about which more later..but this was a doll just acting the part of Snow White, after all.

So, fast backward, hearing the SW song in the car, I quickly switched to another station, but not before a rapid sequence of awful experiences with movies had flashed before my inner child's eyes.

The wicked Queen with the red apple, cackling and rowing off armed with the poisoned red apple to kill Snow White, oh, gah. I know several people of my age who saw this movie at age seven, and never in their lives after could put a red apple anywhere near their mouths. I wouldn't be surprised if my aversion to small boats and rowing dated from then, too!

And my monkey mind rapidly switched to Lassie, and the nightmares and crying after seeing those movies.

I think I was spared them after one sequence of screaming and nightmares about "poor Lassie and her PAWS were BLEEDING..." I wouldn't even read so-called classic novels about animals in case they suffered. Like the miserable Black Beauty. Heck, even nursery rhymes weren't safe places -- remember I Had a Little Pony????

I've often wondered what in tarnation adults are thinking, well, maybe they're not thinking, when they give little children this wonderful treat which will scar them for life! Bambi's mother....oh and that poor Dumbo...

no, no, that way madness lies.

I do remember taking HS to see a Benjy movie and we left in a hurry when he just couldn't stand it. I hadn't realized it was going to be harrowing. So maybe the prospect of Snow White sounded nice to the adults to took me there, too.

One part of that which didn't strike me as horrifying until years later was the pencil on glass quality of dear little SW's singing voice..but I still remember the good part which was that unlike most fairy story heroines, Snow White was not a blonde!!! lovely dark wavy hair and blue eyes. Like mine.

Which brings me with a swoosh to the present day and the necessity to get alternative access to the internet, since the various neighborhood wireless signals are all too weak any more to be helpful. For ages I had choices and was so grateful to generous neighbors who didn't lock down their access, and now I have to think again. It was wonderful while it lasted, but I need my dear old netbook to be working for me.

So after some research and total failure to find what I was looking for online: a stand alone service using a broadband device that looks like a memory stick, but which gives internet access on a contract basis. Online it's all bundles with everything in your house including the water heater and maybe a snowblower, in the contract, and our household won't yield easily to that approach.

Anyway, I found what I need, at the local Target with a perfectly great salesperson who had exactly what I wanted, and I'll run this by HS who knows good questions for me to think about, and then I'll probably spring for it. It is literally what I was looking for, and I'm amazed to have found it so easily. Well, easily once I'd navigated the totally under construction store which seems to be turning into a grocery place. I needed a GPS to find the electronics department...

So there's the emotional and logistical state of affairs around here. HP had a couple of bad days this week, needed quick attention and I needed rapid access to doctor advice, which is email, and his appointments with various professionals are set up that way, too. So the internet is really more of a requirement than a fun deal for me.

However, all's well now, and we will live to fight another day or several!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Forty Eight and Counting!

Feb 16 1963 was the day HP and I committed matrimony. Not intending to coincide with or near V day, since we'd been trying to get married since the previous October. But since Catholic weddings have no legal status in England, since the Reformation, the only legally recognized marriage is performed by the township registrar. However, since a registrar's office wedding has no religious status in the Catholic church, the only option is to get the registrar to attend the religious ceremony, which they hate to do. So after setting and breaking many dates, between the church being available and the registrar being willing, we finally managed to snag the registrar on Feb 16 at 3.20 p.m. take it or leave it. So we took it.

The wedding picture is a portrait of generosity as well as a wedding picture of two hopefuls cutting their cake together. The dress and veil were lent by a friend I worked with, the cake was a wedding present from another friend, the photography a wedding present from another friend, the surroundings, the Student Union at Manchester University, a low budget location for the reception.

They were all excited about it since it was the first wedding they'd ever done! they insisted on doing all the greenery on the tables since no flowers were available -- severe winter and flowers at that time of year in England used to come from the Scilly Isles, which were totally cut off by winter storms at the time

So the soap opera began! and we were married for 18 years, during which time we emigrated, lived in Wisconsin then here in NJ, divorced, were completely apart for several years, got together again, fell apart again after buying this townhouse, and remained friends through all this, though we were a hopeless couple. Finally, we think, we put out lives together once and for all on nine eleven, figuring that we wanted to be together for each other since it could all be over in a flash.

This is us a couple of years ago

So that's us! one very perceptive friend, well, she's a therapist, hardly surprising, but she was in my life as a private art student, commented that we'd actually done what we needed wrt one another throughout, very flexible approach and one that therapists are starting to see as a good thing for many people, rather than breaking up angrily forever, or sticking together angrily forever!

And so you see us. It cracks me up when people ask what is the secret of our still being close after all these years. The answer is: a great big break of time in the middle of it...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy VDay in the Antipodes!

a.k.a. This one's for you, Minimiss!!

Since it's already Valentine's Day in New Zealand and other good neighborhoods, I figured we'd get the wishing under way.

Dolliver in newly draped mermaid gown (note the shore theme) has to acknowledge the design influence of A.I., which does not in fact mean artificial intelligence, in fact she has a ton of the genuine sort, for her way of designing evening wear by draping a lot of beautiful fabric and going from there.

And the pet puppy Olivier read Mutts today, decided it was highly suitable for his purposes and borrowed the heart motif. D's porcelain doll, Canada, in honor of her origins, got all dressed up in her best red silk and lace and spangly stuff in honor of the day.

Hearts and flowers from all of us to all of you. Happy Day! SO remembered to get HS to produce a card and a little box of hearts for me, from HP, which touched me no end, since I didn't know he had realized the date. Little foggy on a lot of things these days.

And Wednesday, the 16th, no relation at all to V day in fact, will be the 48th anniversary of when we committed matrimony together! long funny story of our soap opera lives, together, apart, together, apart, dangit make your minds up, people, but that can wait a day or two.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Community Service and movie review. Dolliver-style, that is

I found recently that St. Jude Ranch for Children, in Nevada, takes the fronts of old greeting cards, with some exceptions, for use in recycling to new cards as a fund raiser. So the recent massive purging of the files having yielded large numbers of greeting cards, all nice to see, but surplus to requirements, I figured this was a good destination.

I kept some from Handsome Partner and Handsome Son, which I can't part with, but there were tons that were just casual sorts of deals. So I spent hours cutting off the fronts, recycling the rest of them, parceled the fronts up in a box to send off today, and two Dollivers decided that since they are nice people, they would take part in this effort, mainly by getting a new hat each

and posing at the post office, evoking a lot of quizzical looks and cautious smiles.

I think the post office people who have known me for decades wondered if I might be getting a bit strange and maybe go postal.

So the parcel is off to do some good and the Ds are consoled for not winning the movie lottery at the weekend and getting to come to The King's Speech. The audience at the event was, well, mature, many of them probably remembering the events of 1936-9 when the movie takes place.

The Ds who did win the lottery were surprised at how dark it was in the movie

and they couldn't see from this seat

so one D. made the great discovery of a doll seat.

She noticed that other people were using them to hold drinks, and concluded they didn't understand the real purpose. This screen is huge, much better than that tiny little tv at home. Maybe we could have one of these at home, too, huh?

Mainly they fell back in admiration of the great Colin Firth, who ought to get an Oscar for this movie, as should everyone else in it, including Derek Jacoby who played the Arch. of C. with just the right toffee nosed effect and a lot of aplomb, which I expect he would pronounce just right. The sets were just stuffy enough for the royal scenes and just grimy enough for the speech therapist office scenes.

The audience respectfully sat through all the credits. And if they'd played God Save the King, I think they would probably all have leapt, or wavered, to their feet. Appreciative group.

I award this movie five crowns. And may God bless all who sail in her..

Meanwhile, I have made my reservation for my Great Big Outing to Cape May in May, and the Ds have put in urgent requests for swimwear. No, not for getting wet, for lounging in the sun. And hats. And sunglasses. And tall drinks. And I told them they were getting a bit ahead of themselves.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tracks and quilting

I noticed on a walk today, these kind of running stitches across the snow, in patterns that reminded me of quilting

And found the Canada goose family who were busy inscribing their footprints. In case you thought I was some great track detective.

Which made me wonder if the early quilters were inspired by goose tracks in the snow to do their quilting with running stitches in patterns.

There are traditional quilt designs with goose in their name, but they usually refer to the flight of geese. But these really made me wonder about the origins of parts of that artform.

It's good to know that Canada geese are creating interesting designs, in the intervals of pooping all over our parks, and eating local crops. Some misguided soul declared them a protected species some years ago, and we now have flocks of thousands of them resident all year round, very happily reproducing at a rate of knots. And now and then a farmyard goose runs away to join them.

One of my petcare clients lost their farm goose that way -- saw him flying with the Canada geese, and eventually taking off in a V formation with them. Not that they go far. I used to see him now and then just a couple of miles from home, happily pursuing family life in his new group.

So I guess that's another thing to credit them with: accepting other species into their flock. We could probably learn a thing or two from them.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dolliver and Oliver

One of the Ds., the one most attached to big fluffy dog Oliver, decided he was suffering from cabin fever, and needed to romp in the snow. He needed no two invitations, and togged up in her new purple skirt and matching pillbox (channeling Jackie O) hat, she took him out to pose on a peak in Darien,or his nearest approach to it.

And in true doggy fashion, he romped and jumped and knocked her flat

and thanked her for playing with him in the snow and generally posed like a handsome Westminster entrant.

As she pointed out, far be it from any other D. to do such a nice thing for their pet, and the bribe of the purple skirt and hat does not count, but they do look good, no?

The big dog show is up in a couple of weeks, so no doubt Dog Oliver and Puppy Olivier will need to follow it in case their breed wins big. Fuzzy Yarnhound, Nonworking variety.

Speaking of nonworking, the Groundhog Day groundhogs performed their total annual working obligation, failed to see a shadow and cheered us all up no end that this means spring will soon come. Depending on your definition of Spring, but we'll take it at this point.

The Ds. are already planning their Spring outfits. I pointed out that Valentine's Day happens long before spring, so they stopped, thought, and flicked through more pages of their fashion mags to find suitable V wear. I probably should have omitted that information.