October 22, 2014
October 21, 2014
My friend Carol and I took the Mad Campus Art Walk at the University of Washington this week. The “Mad Art” consisted of 12 outdoor sculptures and installations, a temporary display that will end this weekend. Although we did not like some of the pieces, it was fun to follow the map and discover art amidst busy student life. Almost like having a treasure map!
October 19, 2014
October 18, 2014
Yesterday was a day off work, a weekday reprieve since I work this weekend. I had a hard time falling asleep on Thursday night because I was feeling overwhelmed again — the stresses of too many things I’d like to do and need to do, and worries about finding the time to fit everything in. I woke, not really rested yesterday morning and decided that if I accomplished two things — running around Green Lake and painting at least one watercolor sketch — I would be happy. Everything else would either get done or not.
But before I could run, I noticed that the cat litter box was in desperate need of cleaning. Jellybean is getting messy in her old age. That was not a task I wanted to deal with first thing in the morning, but it had to be done. So I was crabby when I started my three-mile run, but by the time I returned to the house I felt wonderful. I try to run every day, but I had skipped Thursday because I have felt all week like I was coming down with a cold. Of all the things in my life, my commitment to running every morning — getting my blood going, sweating, and being outside — is always worth the effort.
After showering and putting a load of clothes in the washing machine, I sat down to paint a bird portrait. I saw this sandhill crane in Homer, Alaska several years ago, and I used one of my trip photographs to paint from. I was pleased with the painting, and I really should have started another painting when the going was good, but I stopped to grab lunch at a café. That was it for playing with paints. I’m happy to have made at least something. To help me stay on track to paint or sketch something every day, I have just started emailing a photo of the day’s work to a friend. She does the same. I do find that even this informal accountability is giving me the incentive to pick up my paintbrush instead of finding an excuse not to make art.
I dream of spending my days off relaxing and reading a stack of books. I am stressed by the huge pile of books I have checked out of the library right now. Part of this reading is in preparation for my Alaska post, the next in my Armchair America project. All this is fun, but I find I can’t quite carve out the time I hope for. My days evaporate in quotidian tasks.
Yesterday, in addition to cleaning and changing the cat litter, I washed and folded clothes, made a loaf of bread in my bread machine, and used up some windfall apples in a pie for supper. (I added a tiny bit of leftover quince sauce for some extra flavor.) I took some photos for my next Wordless Wednesday post and edited and uploaded them. After that, I did have an hour or so to read before I started making supper, and then after supper my husband and I watched a DVD movie.
So my day passed all too quickly, filled with homey tasks and some creative work, too, but not enough time to relax and rest. Does this happen to you, too?
October 17, 2014
I had to quickly paint this squash before I cooked it. I used its roasted flesh, instead of pumpkin, in the chili recipe that was posted on the Gordon Farm Blackboard (see earlier post about that destination here.) I also used a tablespoon of Mrs. Wages dry salsa mix instead of chili powder, which I did not have on hand. And I added half a diced green bell pepper. This was really the most flavorful soup, and I will make it again for sure.
October 16, 2014
” . . . there were many hours when Humphrey was left all alone, which he did not mind in the least, for he was by temperament a bookish child, and the child who is at home in the world of books never lacks for companionship, entertainment, or adventure.” — Jacqueline Kelly, Return to the Willows
I read a lot of books, and here are a few from recent months that I consider quite unique and exceptional:
What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund. This book provides much food for thought about the inner world of reading. Mendelsund says, “We imagine that the experience of reading is like that of watching a film. But this is not what actually happens — this is neither what reading is, nor what it is like.” He talks about how fictional characters are revealed incrementally, gradually materializing in our imaginations from a few distilled facts. Our mental images of them can remain quite vague, but our feelings about the characters are more firmly defined, and therein is where we find meaning. This is true for me.
The sketchiness is part of the charm of reading. That is at least part of the reason that seeing a film adaptation of a favorite book is often disenchanting. “One should watch a film adaptation of a favorite book only after considering, very carefully, the fact that the casting of the film may very well become the permanent casting of the book in one’s mind. This is a very real hazard.“
When we read, we go back and make adjustments to our reconstructions of characters based on the play of elements and new details. And we each bring our own experiences to bear on our imaginings. That is one reason why re-reading a novel can be a new and rewarding experience — we’ve changed since our last reading, and our impressions of the characters change, too.
Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast. Many, many people like graphic novels, but I have never been drawn to this genre. I can remember reading just one graphic novel, Persepolis by Marjane Strapi, which was also an autobiographical story — very good. However, I highly recommend Chast’s memoir to anyone who has cared for or is caring for elderly parents. This is a poignantly honest portrayal of her role as daughter, a role that is constantly changing as her parents become increasingly frail and lose their ability to cope with living independently in their New York apartment.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. This novel is a heartwarming testament to the healing power of community, even when “community” is a pesky, boisterous family who insinuates itself into the quiet life of a widow next door. Ove, at 59, has recently lost his wife and then is involuntarily forced to retire from his job. Life holds no meaning nor the promise of anything worthwhile, and Ove has practically become a hermit. He decides to kill himself, but before he can get the job done, he is dragged back to life by the intrusiveness, and loving kindness, of his new neighbors.
Worn Stories by Emily Spivack. In this book, Spivack has collected stories about special garments people have held on to over the years. She says, “We all have a memoir in miniature living in a garment we’ve worn.” What a fascinating idea for a book. The stories will make you think about the provenance of clothes in your closet and their meaning in your life.