Saturday, May 31, 2008

Blog (de)Construction - I Am A Writer

I'm having trouble blogging. I'm having trouble blogging because I was sick for 2+ weeks and got out of the habit. And because our modem needs to be replaced and keeps timing out on me. And because I've finally gotten the perfect balance between a written and a visual journal, and now the words (my first, lifelong love) have returned full current, full force, full fever. Everything I read about 'how to keep a blog' instructs me to keep words to a minimum but include lots of pictures. That's provided I want readers. Readers like pictures, more than words. A LOT more than words.

But I'm a writer. That's who I am. I'm a writer who wanted new ways to express the images my writing gave me, and so I started fiddling with rubber stamps, which parlayed itself into all this other stuff I fiddle with now. But it's all extranneous activity: writing comes first. And now that the writing is back? Well, I'm going to write. It's a no-brainer. In fact, for me it's just not optional. That means words and not pictures -- or, word-pictures.

This is my blog, after all.

Journal Entry, Tuesday, May 20th, on the back of a Paris bird tag:
Do the birds of Paris know that their nests are in the eaves of old cathedrals? Does it alter their sense of flight, launching from such a place? Do they yearn to return, sooner, to their nests? "Oiseaux" (French: bird). A word I've loved since I learned it, in 4th grade. Why does the heart feel winged, like a bird's, in Paris -- lifted, elevated, as if all vistas are seen from a new vantage point, a current of winged & freed imagination leading the body & mind? And merging with surrender to that particular ambiance?

Same day, later, a fragment (I was still sick):
My youngest male child is waiting for me to check to see if I have any batteries. But I don't want to move from this patio seat. Oh, this fatigue, this weighted breathing, the sun behind the clouds for a moment, wind in the sky, through the trees, over my skin. I feel in such need of REST. Where is that born, soul exhaustion? I have no ideas for art, which is so odd, and no appetite at all for my blog (or anyone else's). I guesss it's a time of detachment. I have assignments to catch up on for the Weekly Wings, but zero energy. I'm completely depleted. Words, showers, & sleep seem my only restoratives. Is it also an internal response (different this year than last) to the arrival of the heat? I feel suffocated, frustrated, rebellious, trapped. Thank God for the soothing grace of the wind, for the fact that I love wind. I take cold baths now, & crave salads, & hate filling the kitchen sink with hot water for dishes. I want to lay down on a panel of ice, thick thick ice, and let my body melt its contours onto it, let the drops tickle me as they fall, chill my wrists & ankles, my inner thighs, my shoulder blades. I want to lay on wet earth and let new green grass grow through me and oxygenate me again. Oh, I'm so tired. So tired. It's an odd song inside - compelling but not really quite friendly.

fragment, on a page marked 'secrets', Sunday, May 25th:
This isn't a secret, but I'm crazy about my youngest male child's hair - the texture, the color, the feel, the smell. I'm always molesting that poor kid's head! And I love it when he lets it get longer, when it all starts to curl.

fragment, Monday, May 26th:
Is it possible to have a crush on your own child? I don't mean a "hubba hubba" crush, just that warm, bubbly, delightful heart-kick whenever I see him? Yea! My oldest male child has been rockin' my Casbah lately -- I'm so proud of him.

poetry fragment/idea, Thursday, May 29th:
I want to follow the sun to where it arcs away from my view
to that place where lilac is a burning color
where blue isn't an emotion but just the light I throw
where red is no longer my heart but a cloud-searing sky ...
would you notice me then?
i'm at the end of my day, empty of excuses for you,
& depleted of repartee ...
i'm crying at chord changes in all the songs I play
i'm wearing loneliness lines on my forehead
my sleep is creased with black-edged ideas for how
to make you want me again, enough to show it ...
why do I always polish your crown, then rinse my
hands in these cut-throat tears?
I'd rather not ... just let this world roll,
let the night (another night), arrive to shade our checkmate ...

(don't know where that will go, if anywhere, was blown away by the sky)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Card for Patty R.

Miss Veronica sent me an entire BUNDLE of Cuttlebug embossing folders, which arrived yesterday. I could not stop playing with them!! I love the thangs! I used the tiny mosaic Cuttlebug embossing folder for the background. The Mariposa woman stamp is one I just ordered/received from Veronica's ETSY shop. This is for a friend of mine here in Phoenix who has been depressed. Inside of card, and envelope.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Journal Trade with Veronica - Completed Pages

Veronica and I exchange projects all the time -- we buy two of different items, and we each make something with them. I picked a Making Memories spiral-bound journaling book and a sheet of sewing-&-garden inspired rub-ons. And, as I've said a few times before on this here blog, Veronica does NOT like surprises, so I enjoy giving her a glimpse of the work as it comes along. I finally decided to use a drawing pad, 6" x 8", to support the lightweight MM journal sheets. Patty at The Tuscan Rose gave me the doorway collage that kicked-off this page. I also bought the girl with doll transparency sheet from her. I'm telling you, between her shop and Bluebird Lane, I really don't have to go elsewhere for my goodies. I used foamie stamps for the underlay (flowery Moroccan design and copper butterflies). Mary Mata's image, from her collage sheet French Rose. Strip of blue velvet ribbon (luscious, luscious, did I say luscious?) I love you for Veronica, of course. I love to create fantasy pages that imply a story. The Bella dress stamp is one I actually bought for myself - I really respond to the femininity of it, the flowers. The dress became the basis for this page. I thought maybe the 'grandmother' (upper right) might be re-telling the tale of a love met/lost in Egypt to her namesake granddaughter (lower left). The dress is the one Grandmother wore, and which she is giving to the granddaughter at the same time she tells the love story. But you can make up your own story, of course (just let me know what it is, ok?) This is the first page I did in the original journal. The tags have similar stamps and colors, but in different places, and each has one of three 'dress' rub-ons from the set that was part of what we have to use, and that really dictate the color palette: green, pink/rose, robin's egg blue, black, cream. Again, the tags slip behind the black leafy page. I set these all down side-by-side and stamped all the images across each of them, so they had some consistency on this side, too. Each has a face, a word, and a French stamp. The angel image is a gift from Patty. I spray painted this piece of screen with an overlay to make it look like a trellis. The bird image came out of a magazine, and Veronica sent me the grass and leaf die cuts. That gorgeous 'blue' woman came from a collage sheet I bought from Ten Two Studios, the 'turquoise' sheet. The tag tucks behind the piece of screen. Veronica and I share music finds all the time, and generally love the same music. I had to include something to do with that. This is the paper that was behind the screen when I spray painted it -- cool, accidental stencil. The woman is from Mary Mata's Girl in the Garden stamp set. I use this quote a lot; it's very evocative for me. The blue stenciling? I bought a set of 'Glimmer Screens' from Creative Play and used portions of one of those. Iron-on glittery flowers, Basic Grey papers -- the tag can hang (the back is a personal message to Miss V). I haven't decided yet what, if anything, I'll do to that big green space. The tag tucks in behind that. Newspaper clipping from a paper I brought back from Rome. Maureen Blackmon Venezia stamp, and an Italian ticket stamp. Basic Grey flourish edge stamps. The business card is from a restaurant we've visited twice, now, in Montespertoli, Tuscany, which serves a spicy fried rabbit dish I actually dream about. See that little insert? That's the size of some of the original notebook pages that I had hoped to use, but they are too small and flimsy, so we decided we could use another base but use these pages as we chose. I got the 'while you were out' message from an old pad in a used office supply store -- I just liked how yellow and brittle it had become. The lamp image came from a lighting magazine. The back side of the insert. That ivy/flower tag came with an order I received a long time ago and I've finally found a perfect use for it. I also just bought the ivy rollagraph wheel. Double BB is nuts about ivy, so this will get used like mad! Veronica and I plan to visit Paris and Italy (Paris: just the two of us; Italy: with our hubbies). This is my fantasy of that. Veronica has gifted me with several Bellas, and I am determined to show her I'm capable of using the wee lovelies! The post card is vintage, from my collection, a piece I've had for almost 10 years and finally decided to part with. The palm tree (dontcha love that?) is a rub-on. This layout is a direct rip-off of one in Somerset Life, because it blew me away when I saw it, and because I wanted to see what I could do with it. The green background and the top strip are both wallpapers from Patty. She also gave me the image of the little girl with the cat, printed on white muslin. I used ink pads to create the color squares, then stamped the woman leaning over the flowers (Veronica gave me this rubber stamp). The pink rose in the uppper right is cut out of a piece of vintage wallpaper from Patty I clear-embossed a fern foamie stamp over the top, randomly, then chalked it with yellow. The curly-cues in the lower right came from a Cuttlebug die folder that Veronica sent me.

I've been working on this all day today, absolutely in a Clueless Bliss Zone, listening to Paula Cole, Patti Scialfa, Minnie Driver, and Queen Latifah -- I haven't even taken a break to nosh on anything but I'm just not hungry when I get into that special place. I don't feel 'done' yet, either ... ideas generate more ideas, and I think a few more pages are going to flow out of me yet. I also have to think about how I want to bind these, but I never consider that until I've finished the pages.

Gorgeous New Blog

Veronica's husband, Big Daddy, AKA Rick, has started a blog -- WHOO HOO!!!!! ... I say there aren't nearly enough blogs by men! I love their perspective on things, so different from a woman's and thus so interesting to me! Rick's blog so far is all about fishing, the location in Canada that he and Veronica love, and his amazing (I do NOT use that word lightly) garden -- to see his flower shots alone is worth a visit to his blog. Go here!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Blank Cards for My Lovely Mother

I'm back to work on the blank cards commissioned by My Lovely Mother. She asked for some birthday cards (NOT my forte), and especially masculine birthday cards. I'm loving the challenge to get macho on/in my art -- it's a lot tougher than it may look!! Front of card -- idea swiped directly out of a Stampington issue of Take Ten (as were all that follow except the last one). Inside of card and front of envelope. Kooky, playful ... different style for me, certainly. I sprayed bleach on the cardstock, then torched it with my heat gun to get the spacey, dotted effect. That had me searching for kind of an 'out there' stamp image ... and the rest? FUN! WAY outside my usual creative boundaries, but what a blast! I figure a man covered in tattoos might just have a -- er -- colorful way of expressing a sentiment, right? I love every individual piece on here -- the slide shaped image is from Ten Two Studios (Lisa Vollrath).
Inside of card, front of envelope. I have a photo storage box full of paint chips, various sizes, every imaginable color -- I use them in my journal cuz they're fast/quick tags. Am trying to branch out on how I use them. Front of card.
Inside of card, and front of envelope. Feels alive, like me inside, near the ocean. But it's masculine. Saturday, I received a new set of clear stamps, a set called Girl in the Garden, by Mary Mata. I have an acquaintance in England who is an avid gardener, and I knew I wanted to make something for her, first, with these new stamps. Hence this card!

Postage Stamp ATCs

My online art group had such a blast with the first postage stamp mingle that we decided to do another, this time 'anything goes' instead of Postage People. The first one ??? goodness, who knows where ideas like this come from, anyway! The middle one is because Veronica sent me some gorgeous ATC papers that seemed very Asian-themed to me, so I went with it. The third one? hee hee, my favorite: I call this one "Mei Ling's Alter Ego" ... anyway, I'll be mailing these out on Tuesday.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Wings 4 You - Catching Up

Being as I've been sick for 2 weeks and pretty much stranded on my backside (the full length of it!), I've missed two weeks of Weekly Wings journeys. I've really missed it, too!!

Here is #9: Baggage Overload

You know what your dreams are, and perhaps you even have an idea of how you want to go about making them come true. Yet you find yourself stalling, feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how or where to start. Maybe you tell yourself that you'll get going "tomorrow," even though you wish you felt like starting today. So what's holding you back? If you're like most of us, it's the heavy baggage that you need to ditch before you can move forward. Now I'm not talking about the kind of baggage that falls into the categories of serious physical and emotional problems; those kinds of issues may require the help of medical or mental health professionals. I'm talking about baggage in the form of "stuff" - possessions, habits, behaviors, and relationships that take a great deal of time and energy from your life and its true purpose.

It takes energy and nurturing to foster personal growth. Yet often we find ourselves up against a variety of obstacles that keep us from steadily moving forward, much like rush hour traffic on a highway with a closed lane. We've all experienced that feeling of trying to get quickly from one place to another, but having to constantly put on the brakes and slow down to a crawl every few yards. We get edgy, we feel irritable; we may even lose our temper. And how does it feel by the time we finally reach our destination? Does it ever seem as if it weren't worth the trouble of the trip? The same idea applies to the heavy baggage (tolerations) in our lives that functions as speed bumps on our own personal highways.

This week's challenge is the first in a series that is designed to help you achieve the balance you need to go forward with clarity and power. Over the next several weeks, we will work on systematically eliminating the tolerations in the major areas of your life that slow your progress and keep you from living the best life you can imagine.

Your Call to Adventure
Bountiful Universe

Your challenge this week is very simple - give something away! We receive more in our lives when we make room for it, so this week's challenge is to put that universal law into action by creating a space that can be filled with a positive gift from the universe. There are a few rules:

Choose something that you've been holding on to for a long time (two or more years is a good starting point) because "it's too good to get rid of" or you "might want to use it someday." I'm not talking about something that is an important souvenir or special keepsake; I'm talking about something of quality or value (by this I mean it isn't just "junk") you've held on to out of habit. It's probably in a closet or on a shelf, and it's cluttering up your physical space. You know what I'm talking about! Acknowledge that you're keeping it as a symbol of something that is no longer relevant in your life, and that you will be one step closer to freedom if you release it. Think of someone who would enjoy or benefit from receiving this item. It could be an individual or an organization. Visualize what you need to do to transfer the item from you to the recipient, and think of how it will positively impact that recipient. Finally, give it away - with joy, love, and no strings attached.

Ahh, this was a relief for me, because it's not really anything I have to do or change. I am a CHAMPION PURGER -- to the point that Double BB has to keep me away from his piles. If my sentimental attachment to anything has dissolved, I find a new home for it. Ditto clothing I haven't worn in a season ... I just don't hang onto stuff. I.E. if ever I outgrow my ceramic birds, then I'll ask the universe for help in finding someone who would love them as much as I have while the attachment was present -- and someone is always presented to me. So Dame Carla actually assigned a task I practice as a constant!!!

I Feel Pretty altered book layout

I got seriously stuck trying to decide on a song for my last layout -- you may remember because I did a post and asked for HELP but noooOOOOooooobody commented. [Is there anybody out there? I wonder sometimes. (I'm waving my guilt wand at all of you; it's pouring guilt-glitter, can you feel it?!!)] Meanwhile, the ladies of my online art group cast a few votes and "I Feel Pretty", from West Side Story, won the election. The theme of the altered book is lyrics/music, and free reign after that. What I remember most about this scene is how light Maria was behaving, giddy and floating and lifted on love ... and how her friends were doing that skeptical cackling thing ('keep away from her, send for Chino, this is NOT the Maria we know') ... and that they were in the dress shop with all the dress mannequins. What a great movie, huh? I decided not to include more lyrics/lettering, because the pages (for me) really capture that floating, I'm-in-Love lightness I feel when I see that scene and hear that song.

Glimpse of my Written Journal Page Backgrounds

One of the things that most fascinates me is seeing other writers' written journals BEFORE they actually do any writing -- how do they prep them? What kind of images or stamps or backgrounds do they use? None of my written journals ever looks the same -- I find myself responding to different materials or images, colors. I decided to share a few of the pages I prepped last night in a fit of coughless-feeling-better energy! This is such a Toni page -- the photo is mine, and captures one of my recurring dreamscapes EXACTLY. The stamped image with the harlequin background is another I love, and (of course) birds. I have no doubt at all that when I get to this page, I'll be scrawling poetry lines. This photograph keeps turning up in this journal -- I'm just really excited to have taken my OWN shot of something I dream so often! This page is ALL about that stogie-puffin' quacker on the bottom right. This is a favorite stamp I use often; it just makes me grin and grin!! Rubber stamps and stickers, and also a homemade painted paper piece. Nothing goes to waste in my studio.
Favorite stamped images, stickers. Even after I pull stickers off a sheet, I use what's left -- creates cool little frames and sweet spots for eensy writing, almost like little secrets. Love that! This is one of my visual journal pages, scanned and printed smaller. The paint chip sample pulls out and has a gorgeous piece of Basic Grey paper on the back for more writing. The shutters are from a collage sheet I got from The Tuscan Rose, called BOLD. This is another of my favorite on-line stores for imagery, papers and Basic Grey stamps. Scrap paper (Basic Grey, of course!), stickers, pretty picture from Mary Mata's 'Ivy's Garden' collage sheet, which I recently received. I scanned a bunch of background scrap papers received in a recent order, and used a strip of those. Also the liner of an envelope (love those things, Mary Ann at Dispatch from LA got me hooked on these). One of the women in my online art group sent a link to a website with a ton of free images for downloading -- this lovely woman came from that. I only saved it to my favorites at work, or I'd certainly share it here.
This photo is one of mine, from my 'From the Hood' walks, printed on vellum. Increasingly, I find I want to use my own photographs and create my own background papers -- no copyright issues, no cost involved, and a creative challenge that feeds my other art. Some of my photos really blow my own socks off and I want to celebrate that feeling, too!

Bluebird Lane Lands Again, & a lovely RAK/Card

All from Bluebird Lane. The one on the top right is a tag Donna made for me ... loveliness!
Birds, oh I love birds! These are German die-cuts from Bluebird Lane. My online art group is hosting a postage stamp ATC mingle: I received these from the lovely Claudia -- I guffawed over her post of Frankenstein in drag (sprayed my monitor!!), and look! She sent it to me. But I'm really loving her CARD -- the polka dot embossed background and matching butterfly, which is lifted off the paper and shadowed with black. It's so beautiful!

The Phoenix Rises (or: Shopping Therapy)

Finally (I repeat: FINALLY) I enjoyed an entire night's sleep without a single cough or snore. True story, Double BB has been reporting my progress to me every morning. For a few nights there, my gurgling gagging snorting antics have driven him to the livingroom sofa, poor man! I think I'm on the mend -- the very fact that I'm posting a blog entry is indication enough for me! Addicted to Scrapbooking has a $1 store, perfect for the housebound coughing weak nap-addicted sickling I have been. I watch it diligently, and this time I was FREAKED OUT DELIGHTED to see all the heart images, hearts being my third favorite images (1. mermaids 2. birds).
My written journal, this go-round, seems to be all about journaling stickers and heart stamp images, despite the luscious tags I've recently ordered/received. Go figure.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bluebird Lane

These tags are from my favorite ETSY shop, Bluebird Lane. I use tags in my written journal constantly, for add-ins, little surprises to myself, poetry fragments, quotes. And while I do try to make my own, I don't always have the images or inks or supplies that completely capture what I want. I found Bluebird Lane and I haven't stopped going back. And oh my, the way Donna (the owner) wraps the orders ... well, it's just such a special feeling to receive an order wrapped in tissue paper, bound with French seaming ribbon, a tag tied onto it with an unusual, beautiful embellishment and a handwritten thank you. I keep it all! I always split my orders with Veronica, because the tags come in sets of 6 or 8, and I don't need that many.

Journal Entry - Dusk

from evening, May 16, Friday:
dusk - quieting birds - hushed trees - lilac clouds backlit by turquoise and red, moving,coasting, lilting. Limbs overgrowing the masonry wall but not yet blooming -- hummingbirds hover, whir, whisk away, frustrated. This is when I, too, thirst for sugar, red-colored dew, a rush, a flight with my fantasies full. Sometimes I draw so near to them I hear the words they mouth to me --- "Come, enter, welcome." I spell the words out slowly & enrich my pulse, but step back. Reverse, when the imagination only wants acceleration, immersion, satisfaction, actualization. Internal dusk, glowing orange-azul and floating, shaped by desires and heartbeat, an illusion of air & available space. Still - oh! It feels so good!! I am always blooming, I think. I'm my own source. Stay my limbs but loose my mind. A hard hard dichotomy. A true skill, and one I've not fully mastered. Many times I follow with my body -- that tilt, that lean, that expectant muscled tautness. Catch myself, spell R-E-A-L-I-T-Y, as many times as it takes. ======== Which is a truer indication of who I am? The me that follows? The me that imagines? The me that holds back? Or all? ... heavy swallowing, all that sugar -- sometimes too rich, other times the saving dose. I stay in the middle, I guess, on an edge I've claimed for my own. I believe in fantasy; I chooose reality. One informs the other. Maybe there is the secret of the source I give myself ... that blend of indulgence tempered by restraint. My drug. My self. & then this, for Double BB:
Topsy-turvy. I feel alive inside. This magical spring, now rolling into heat, is the crisped green I feel inside, foliage and seed, all this murmuring of limb & leaf. I want to be moaning in your arms, my rib cage so small under your hands, my wetness your surround, this love, this love, this green hot seeking love. You water me, & turn me, & absolve the weeds of me in your exuberant tenderness. I believe you, every time. It holds me so steady! It makes my roots shiver & hold tight. I grow forever -- reaching for you. God, the summons of words -- I can barely see my pen, this page, but I HAVE TO SPEAK. Are you thinking of me now? I hold you so close. What do you see in my eyes -- you? me? Us? I love you, looking at me. If allowed, I'll sing. My throat is never immune; neither the arch of my thoughts. I feel when your melody enters me, or hovers, seeking penetration. My response is winged then -- full, flutter, pause, alight, cling. It's a beautiful song; it's a woman's song; it's the song I feel for you.

Double BB's World - Weights

Now of course, what with Double BB resembling Denzel Washington (so I'm told by his female fans throughout the Valley of the Sun), we've established that he's HOT. Mmmm hmmmm. What Double BB knows, cuz I've been telling him almost since the day we met, is that I married him just to have his splendiferous BUTT in the family (& in the gene pool!). True story, & now you're in the know too! (Shhhh, don't tell Double BB I told ya!) Second only to a fabulous backside and a wicked sense of humor on the Must-Have-List for yours truly, though, are fabulous arms. You DO already know that I'm a big girl, 5'-10" ... & yea, while it can be true that a tall guy such as Double BB can lend to my feeling more petite than I really am, what does it most for me are ... can you guess? GREAT ARMS! Strong ... they don't have to be 'cut' like those cartoon-looking guys on muscle magazine covers. But strong. Tender-strong, you know what I mean?
Of course because he knows I'm posting these weight shots, Double BB has disallowed shots of his arms ... sigh. But I live with them, so I get to see them every day. And fall asleep in them. And be hugged by them, and sometimes tickled.

Double BB's World - Grill

P.S. Double BB has since acquired a NEW set of grill brushes from his totally horrified MuthaCam-bearing wife who looked at these and had visions of E-Coli prancing through her head!!