Monday, June 30, 2008

Journal Backgrounds Continue ...

I couldn't wait to get these baby Converse on a page! The Dos Gringos band was the wrist band my oldest male child sported at his very first Happy Hour as a 21 year old (legal happy hour, that is to say). That incredibly cute baby was on a sheet of 'misprints' Patty sent me -- ACK! Of course the photo is available on a collage sheet which I intend to get my mitts on eventually. The silhouette of the children is a piece of copyright free clip art. A combination of Basic Grey papers and scanned scraps, cut apart, a Tuscan Rose fragment (upper left border) and slide-sized image of a woman (isn't she gorgeous?), one of my word-play slide mounts in the lower right, and a picture of part of Rick and Veronica's gorgeous yard. The circle stamp with the lines is a 7 Gypsies -- love that thang! Basic Grey paper (large pieces), scraps and stickers, a Mary Mata image of a couple, and the Sea Salt photo is one I shot. The little cat in the lower right is one of my favorite punches; this beastie pops up everywhere ... kind of my personal symbol for Zoe. The image of the woman came as a bonus in an order from Patty at the Tuscan Rose. I love the angle of this shot -- she looks somehow sultry and worldly-wise/weary at the same time. I've been digging into my stashes of scrapbook paper more and more; most of what you see here is from that. The 'my message' piece with the red rose is from The Tuscan Rose -- actually, Patty sent me a couple scraps in an order -- this was one of them. I scanned those fragments and some other stuff, then printed it all off on some lilac-bordered paper to see what would happen. The bird is just a black & white copy of a tag I have.
The blue with light blue swirly flowers is the back side of the palm tree/red paper on the next page. This is a small pocket for a tiny tag. The triangle shapes on both pages lift up for more 'secret' writing! FUN! The red paper with the palm trees is Cherry Arte, a new line I discovered and like because it's 2 sided. This piece is a pocket where I can slide in a large tag. The gray-violet color is from a Ralph Lauren paint pod, color called Pacific Heights. I love those pods -- they're small, easy to store, loads of colors, and not so much of it that I'll never EVER use it all. Plus, my Sharpies just glide over it. Love that!

Piece for My English Friend

This is a direct rip-off of the July/August 2008 Somerset Studio cover art, by artist Colette Copeland, except I added a few things in the sky area, and lower left corner. I saw that cover and knew I was going to copy it. The two images of the women came from The Tuscan Rose shop (see sidebar); the butterflies are from a Mary Mata collage sheet, and the rest from magazines. This is the back side -- the library pocket will house the paper I use to write on, for the letter. The glassware photo is one I took; the other is a vintage B&W from my stash; the legs are a Vogue magazine cut-out. This is the front of the envelope. I used two of the Glimmer Screens, but this time I sprayed ink directly onto the screen then pressed it onto the envelope -- kind of a reverse stencil process. The gorgeous flowers in the lower left are a photo I took from Rick's blog -- he said I could his flower pics any time I wanted! The other images are masking tape transfers.

Phoenix is Burning

Photos sent by my bro', Cam - can't provide source credits, but they are NOT from my MuthaCam!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

My Boy is a Man

"I've got a baby
His name is David ...
that's my man,
that's my man."

A little made-up, Toni-original, lullaby ditty I've been singing to my oldest male child since he was maybe 2 months old, and which he still sings along with whenever I do (usually just to tease him, but sometimes when he's down or not feeling well, too) -- and now it's really TRUE. See, my boy, my little man, my oldest male 'child', turned 21 this past Wednesday. Eesh. Blimey. Shite. TWENTY-ONE!! Well, that's a big deal, to my way of thinking, one of those transitional things, A Passage - he's a man. So I splurged, bought him some gym clothes, since that is his abiding passion (basketball, basketball, basketball). 2 pair o'shorts, 2 T-shirts, a pair of sandals, all Retro Jordan. He just came in all decked out in one of the new outfits. Believe it or not, the rhinestone BLING on this shirt (which I admit had me pretty worried -- was it too girly? too non-testosterone?) was his favorite thing! Oh yea, there's that smile. The smile that turns Mom to buttuh! Listen, Man-Child o'Mine ... you're still my baby, and now you're my man, too. I love you SOOOOOOOOOO MUUUUCCCCHHHHH!!!

A Day with Double BB

I called Double BB at work on Thursday and said, "I NEED SOME BB AND TONI TIME! CAN WE GO SOMEWHERE ON SATURDAY?" If we don't actually go on a day trip, we get in his truck, crank up the tunes, and cruise, hold hands, yak, and then find a new place to have lunch. We drove way out east today, trying to find some open fields, some of the more rural areas we remembered from past drives long ago. Alas, the infestation of housing developments and empty strip malls has encroached almost entirely on the areas we had time to get to. There was such a dearth of anything worth looking at that I never got out of the truck, or even asked him ONE SINGLE TIME to find a spot to pull over. Matter o'fact, the stinkin' lens cap never came off the MuthaCam once.

Except here -- before we started our drive, we first had to make a Famous Footwear pit stop so Double BB could find some flip flops - the sole on his favorite casual shoes ripped clean through on the left one! While he tried sandals on, I moseyed through with my MuthaCam on stealth, and found these fun pair! I never wanted girls. True story. I wanted two of the hulking, deep-voiced, always starving, chore-dodging male children just like I have. But every once in a while, I see something, like these sandals, that make me think a girl child coulda been pretty fun. This pair is so doggone small I could use them for toe rings!! HA! Ha!!! Any kid small enough to fit into these isn't actually going to be doing much hiking, I'd say - -but ooh, he'd be stylin'! I am an unbridled Converse devotee -- have a pair of high top red ones (a gift from My Lovely Mother), which thankfully neither of my sons can fit a big toe into! These infant-sized Cons had me swooning ... Double BB, having grown up in Wichita near two of the best BBQ joints in the country, has in two and a half decades not been able to find anything of the same par by way of BBQ out here. Me personally, I don't like BBQ, but yesterday I happened to be moseying in a new area looking for a particular bank branch, and saw the sign for this place. Since Double BB wanted to take me to lunch today, I thought, "Ok, we always do Mexican, my favorite -- let's go try us some BBQ instead." Double BB is of the BBQ school wherein the meat is cooked IN the sauce ... not where the sauce is poured over the meat AFTER the fact. GOOD NEWS!!! Hap's Barbecue agreeds with Double BB!! -- who had a half rack and I'm here to tell you, the man did not talk AT ALL while he smacked down those ribs! [Oh, and if anyone is in doubt, according to Double BB, PORK ribs are the best.] I had a ham and cheese sandwich, which was ... well ... a ham and cheese sandwich. But we found an above-passable BBQ spot for Double BB, so I was pretty pleased with myself anyway! [Still, I did come home and whip myself up, later, some Mexican fare for dinner!] I managed to refrain from buying one of these T-shirts for Double BB, but ooh we had a good laugh with fat full BBQ bellies!

Anniversary Card

For my darlin' Veronica and Big Daddy - their 11th anniversary. Front of envelope and card.
Back of envelope; inside of card.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Soul Food is Back

[googled image: I AM DYING FOR THE OCEAN!!!! This is Nags Head, N.C.]

Some time ago, when probably I was bored & fussy or something like that, I got on my blog, then got to fiddling & rearranging & updating & deleting and just generally fooling around with my layout and lists. In the process, I deleted all my Soul Food blog links. This morning, I FINALLY got around to putting that list back in order, with some fun new additions! Whew. I'm okay at work because I have them all saved into a favorites list -- never got around to doing that at home so had to scrounge to find them the entire time my list was down.

I think I've gotten around to -- uh -- at least DEALING with the fact that the heat is here, the heat is ON, the heat will follow me everywhere now until -- oh, at least early October ... so I've decided to come out of my cocoon, get over my intense SULK [& accompanying bad attitude], and resume reading these lovely blogs.

Note: This just came up on the MSN home page: "Grab a towel. Desert city is America's sweatiest - Phoenix tops annual list of 100 drippingly hot cities. It may be "dry heat" out there, but Phoenix leads a list of America's sweatiest cities, according to an annual ranking from deodorant maker Old Spice. The desert city's average high temperature was 95.1 degrees in June, July and August 2007, the company said. As a result, the average Phoenix resident pumped out 26.4 ounces of sweat per hour. That's the equivalent of more than two cans of soda. Do you live in a sweaty city? Check the list. Here are the top 20 cities (MSN's article listed the top 100):
1. Phoenix, Ariz.
2. Las Vegas, Nev.
3. Tallahassee, Fla.
4. Tucson, Ariz.
5. Memphis, Tenn.
6. Miami, Fla.
7. Houston, Texas
8. Tampa, Fla.
9. Baton Rouge, La.
10. Fort Myers, Fla.
11. Huntsville, Ala.
12. New Orleans, La.
13. Birmingham, Ala.
14. Jacksonville, Fla.
15. West Palm Beach, Fla.
16. Montgomery, Ala.
17. Orlando, Fla.
18. Dallas, Texas
19. Little Rock, Ark.
20. Corpus Christi, Texas

[I feel somehow vindicated for being crabby about the heat!]

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ian's Garden

My family's very dear friends, Ian and Traudel, who live in Sheffield, England, are the proud creators and owners of this incredible green, lush, vibrant, colorful outdoor space. Ian, I think, does the actual planting/tending - at any rate he sent me the photo last Friday, which made me cry -- it was Friday, after all (my most-hated work day); it was 114-degrees here in Phoenix (ghastly); to see something this fertile, verdant, and beautiful was just too much!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Written Journal - Prepped Pages

The Paris images are from a Mary Mata collage sheet. The stamped image is called Cosmic Woman (Stamp Francisco) - I just got it and LOVE it. She reminds me of the actress Helena Bonham Carter, actually, who I think is sublime! The dark pink tag with Mind-Body-Soul at the top is attached to another just like it, little tag inserts such as I love -- I made these in a make-your-own-tags experiment. The gold corner piece is an American Express business envelope that came in the mail at work - I loved the image of the hand with the birds, feels like a Venetian setting too! The green paper with the blue bird on it (Basic Grey) slides behind the envelope. The yellow/black plastic parts bag is something I found on an alley walk. The ballerinas are a tag that pulls out. When I say I love tags and surprises in my journal, you can see I'm telling you a true story, huh? This page is actually finished -- it became a collage that visually expresses everything I was feeling that day. The Mermaid Dreams section is a post card I made then could NOT bear to part with when it was finished! I hand-carved the stamp of the trio of small frames (stamped in blue, here).

Journal Pages for Veronica

I'm still slowly working on my journal project for Veronica. Here are the latest three pages.
The tag on the left slides behind the map postcard (from Veronica). I'm having so much fun with these I may never finish! ACK!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Basket Case

If something new enters the studio, it belongs to ZOE. First. Foremost. Always. She has to be forcibly ejected from baskets, boxes and large envelopes. All scraps must be put on lock-down, as well, particularly mat board.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My Marriage Vow - I Will Not Take You For Granted

Written Tuesday, 6/10/08, for Double BB:
[listening to the song "In the Red", title track from the Tina Dico CD]

Yes, find me with long-held fantasies & breathing you can't contain. Your dark eyes full of rainbows, fields, wet loam, desire. I can be all of that for you, too. I can open the rusty longings & spread myself across cautious hinges to cross to you. Easily. They don't matter -- boundaries. Just wishes & reach, old ideas made real in my touch, kisses back & forth treading discovery thresholds & hacking through caution tape. After all this time, let's pull it off, say, "Yes" again & anew, trample the known & cut a different path. Call me possibility. Push my edges until they blur, then beg. Understand my impatient throbbing & make a place for it in the center of your hand. Walk, walk, walk, all through my curiosity about what else could be, where haven't we been, what haven't I felt for you. Be a wind with no name, tipsy & grass-green. Love me. Make me roll & present my protected mind, my burdened moves, my notions of right & good enough -- tumble me, throw me through trees & walls, obliterate me until I'm erased & newly found. Yes! I want you! Yes! I want it like that -- raw, unsteady, inside out & heart-called. Say my name the way you hear it -- show me your way, any way, that way or this, make of me the animal Adam never met & could never have named.

Still, if I could have you (right now), it would be quietly, my flesh colorizing like light seeps through petals -- pale at the center, flushed at the tip, & reaching. Your name is a new stem, a shoot from the root of my desire. I have no explanation for my immediacy, this turn toward you -- but it is welcome, as ever. My flight is on puzzled currents, lit by loneliness for new knowledge of you, paced by curiosity & possible connections. Butterfly wings. You look at me & I am moved to open my flutter to give a dance & to whir by you, filled with give-away smiles. Loopy & minus my usual radar. I am so tired of certainty. Lose that. Lose flight patterns & turn hoola-hoop circles in the sky of meeting you -- loose, fluid, happy, nervous again. We're never nervous anymore, and I CRAVE that. Discovery. I want to be new to you all over again.

Oh, my coordinates, comfort, & coherence -- be lost in you!

Make wild turbulence of me. Please.

Rearrange my limbs - let my hand come out of my ribcage, my lips loiter on the tip of my thigh. See me in a way I've never been seen by anyone, even you! Can you do that? Make your kisses sift me, eradicate my footprints as they approach. Hide me in the curve of your cologne, cover me with your own armpit scent, drip sweat over my belly. I accept! Do you HEAR me? I am NOT always the same, what you expect or anticipate. I travel the whole color wheel; my passport bulges with the stamps of the world. Travel me. Can't we spin a globe of our own invention, talk in tongues and perfectly-aimed fingers? Our bodies have met & met & still lure the magnetic forces & gyrate the rules of gravity. Twister! My hand on your foot; your tongue on my shoulder, surprises, more, more, more! You give me the urge to scream & give it up.

But I am not as simple as this. I walk on parallel dimensions, through time clocks & under bell jars. Leaves & wind recite poetry to me, and I speak sky. I'm under your rivers, putting up my wrists to draw you down, down, down to this magic, this coursing feast of nipple & groin. You swim a very small resist & make me grow to a boulder, solid & blocking your escape. Flow to me, enter the glorious give, be liquid in me.

I pronounce: surrender is looking back. Give me those eyes & follow me ahead. Our path is yet waiting! Yes, it's always good. Yes, it's ever satiating. You know how to make me want, then deliver the closure that is still, somehow, open-ended & continuing to seek you. I join you, & thank you every time. Passion in mine -- come, again. Do.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Relatives - the Generations Grow On!

My cousin Jackie, her humorous & engaging hubby Tony (gotta love another Tony, eh?!), and their two young'uns gifted us with a visitation over the weekend -- came out for a colleague's wedding up at the Grand Canyon, but managed 2 days staying with my dad. We all (my sibs, that is, and myself) descended on Dad's Sunday for noshing and catching up. Please meet my new NOT AT ALL SECRET CRUSH!! Finneas Alexander, 14 months! He captivated me to the point that the MuthaCam was all but abandoned in favor of ball throwing & door opening/closing & block tower demolishing. Joy! Joy! Joy! to be around such a small little laddie again. Eesh! Blimey! Shite! Who could resist such a grinning Finn? Not me. For 20 minutes, Finn and I sat on the kitchen floor playing with the ice in the coolers. Finn picked up a piece and threw it on the floor, then we clapped, "Yay! Good job!" Then I picked the piece back up and tossed it back into the cooler, and we would clap again, 'Yay! Good job!" Then Finn helped me clean the wet spot on the floor with the paper towel, clap clap!! Then he would plop onto my knee and I'd wipe the bottoms of his chubby little feet so he wouldn't slip -- clap! Clap! And then we'd begin again. I haven't had so much fun in the last year! This is Jocelyn Lorelei, Finn's older, and only, sister (8 years old). As Jackie pointed out, in general you start a conversation with Jocelyn, who pretty soon is turning a flip and you continue your end of the dialogue by addressing HER 'end' ... quite scintillating, certainly NOT what I'm accustomed to in my adult discussions!!! [Ciera, alas! couldn't join us, as she is in San Diego with friends for a week, searching for mermaids and building sand castles. Otherwise, she and Jocelyn would no doubt have become New Best Friends.] Joc, in a rare right-side-up moment, readying to launch the marble through the block shoot! My Dad with Finn. Finn was so enthralled with the marble scuttling down the block ramps that he was a wiggling, giggling mass of baby flesh, and I couldn't get a cleaner shot of them both cracking up. My dear dear other Mom, Judy, accepting a Finn hand-off from Dad. Here is Young Finn-ster sharing blocks with Tony, his Daddy. I didn't manage any shots of Jackie, so am hoping my brothers email some that I can share!

Two Recent RAK's Received

From Amber, with my online group - a sweet reminder to celebrate mySELF! Came on Friday, much much needed boost and delightedly welcomed! When I took my post-work nap, I slept with it under my pillow to bring on great dreams! From Barb R., also in my online group -- she has been helping me to better understand Dia de los Muertos -- I have (confession) avoided it because I tangled it up mentally with Halloween, a day that skeers me awful! On the left is a 'playing card' (Ace), and on the right is Barb's re-working of it, making it dimensional. It really appears the skeleton couple is MOVING, dancing!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Father's Day Card

Dad and I actually do share interests in many things, not the least of which is photography, and as I've said many times before, his photographs, traipsing along with him on photo-hike escapades, has been critical in training my artist's eye. I wanted to make a card that encompassed his passion for this desert landscape, the colors, the richness & depth of shapes/shadows which can truly be surprising when you get out beyond the inhabited grid. The stamp is a new one to my collection, from Creative Play, called Three Gossips. The pin came from Good Will, a LOOOOONG time ago. Alcohol ink play on the background.
Reverse side of card.

Gift from Kayla!

Our shop foreman's daughter, Kayla, recently spent several days in Italy -- look what she brought back for me!!!! And it's even got LEMONS (the theme of my kitchen)! What a sweetheart --- and from Assisi, somewhere I did NOT get to visit on my trips to Italy. I can't wait to see her photos and hear her stories!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Roots - Nebraska

Written outside, listening to Oscar Lopez, 'Seduction' cd:
Let me not forget the prairie, the golden wheat light, and rainbows in the pivot sprays. One love of my life (Grandpa Andy), then two (Grandpa Andy and the country), then writing my name in fallow earth, like Sarah - Plain and Tall, & claiming my heritage. Mermaid & ocean aside, my folks are from the Midwest, and I also have two able legs and equal feet. I've left my footprints on midnight train tracks and pre-dawn irrigated rows, on the "beach" at the Sutherland Reservoir, and on the concrete steps to Hershey's watering hole. I know the weight of a thick sliding barn door and impatient cattle, the sweltering continuous lift (& near-faint ache) of stacking hay, the combine's rhythm, and the slam of an ancient corn-hauler's clutch.

I loved to watch a faraway gathering of April clouds but ran for the cellar at its nearing -- there, canned beans & corn, & put-away jellies on warped-wood shelves, a friendly stowed sink, and Grandpa's work gloves cast on the floor made me feel safe. Wind like now (out here, in my writing spot on the patio), but not the same at all, too much fear in the way I heard it canceled my reception. I was all eyes and ears and wishing for the city, for somewhere else. But it would pass, sometimes spitting rounds of hail and leaving the farmers all around checking their fields, their outbuildings, the paint jobs on their always-latest-model Chevy's. I harbored panic as I sipped cocoa at the kitchen counter and glared at departing cloud shadows. Grandma gathered together the curtains over the sink, then touched my shoulder as she passed to go read her bible, seated on the bottom of the steep narrow stairs I climbed (always kissing her cheek) each night on my way to bed.

And my Grandpa Andy loved me. I felt it as a certainty beyond the daily dawn. I remember his toothpick stash in the glove compartment (so he wouldn't light up), his chuckle at a gallivanting dog-got-loose, his slow-to-a-crawl drive by of any old piece of farm machinery (or any new!), his collection of harness, chain, tools & keys hanging like the treasures he found in them from steady rows of nails on the barn wall. He never faltered, not even when he couldn't trust his own legs to take a step. His hugs took in more than the flesh and returned the land's vastness -- I never wanted to let go of him.

I want to know, now, when it's too late to ask, what he dreamed of, who he missed, how he felt when he lingered in a late field watching for pheasant. I don't know what his favorite season was, or why, or who he'd never forgotten (or forgiven), or what priceless advice his mother gave him, or why he fell in love with my Grandma. I want him back, now, when I'm old enough to have such questions, and to care about the answers! I want to know him as a man, not just as Grandpa, cruising in the pickup I just helped him wash to the A&W, turning off the farm news station with a sharp click, his eyes dancing when the onion rings and his root beer float finally arrived. I want to say, "I love you" from my entire accumulation of life experience, from my roots that join with his, from the prairie that grew us, and knew us, both -- so differently, yet so very much the same.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Lonely Inside for "Different"

Written outside just a few minutes ago, listening to Chris Spheeris:
I'm lonely inside for "different", and for the me introduced by "strange" -- new scents, altered vistas, foreign tongues, that combination which lures a transitioned Toni to the fore -- how I observe, or participate, my efforts to interact, my smiles or focused eyes -- learning, learning, and willing. I'm a good traveler -- minus expectations and large on acceptance, & I fully comprehend that any changes required are of ME. It's not my language = so learn the word(s). It's not my cuisine = so eat what I've never eaten before! It's not my culture = so adjust my behavior. Move slowly, listen far far more than speak, always know how to say 'please' and 'thank you'. So simple, really. Find the older ones, sitting alone in the square, and sit down. Erase all notions of itineraries, of must or should, and let the place and people reveal themselves. Put the camera down and interact, engage, become a PART of what I otherwise might just observe and/or photograph -- then I'm an element of the memory and not just the recorder of other people's activity. LET MY RESPONSES SHOW!!! The inhalations, the tears, the unreserved laughter, the awe. Genuineness dissolves every single barrier, warms hearts, creates a bond. I started crying in Certaldo, Italy, the first time I went, just overwhelmed -- it was so intimate, so quiet, so resonant with history, & so bright with red geraniums on every sill and porch, the air so yellow-gold & welcoming, that I couldn't take another step or breath. I sat down next to an elderly woman on her stoop -- she gestured at me to do so, seeing my tears, and after I'd sat she pointed at my tears. I, in turn, waved my hand at -- the place! The street, the buildings, the view, the flowers, herself -- and then she smiled and just patted my hand for as long as my eyes flowed, which was quite some time. When I finally rose, having to go meet the group at the bus, I thanked her (in Italian: "Mille grazie, Signora, mille grazie" with tears starting again), and she took my hand in both of hers and shook and shook my hand. I didn't hide, and that warmed her. Consequently we shared a personal, real moment. It's a singular memory I have of that trip, and I was PART of it, it's not a photograph or something I described in my journal (until much much later). I'm 'in the picture', do you see what I mean? That's the way I travel. I remember her difficulty getting down her tiny little stair and settled into her chair. I remember her black lace shawl, something clearly handmade and much-loved. I remember the bend of her hands - arthritis, perhaps? I remember standing with tears pouring out of my face, just frozen in place & my heart in ten million perfect fragments of response, and how she waved and waved me over to sit by her. I remember that the grip of both her hands around mine felt stronger than she looked capable of, and that her smile went through her eyes and wrinkled her entire face, every wrinkle her life had given her smiled at me. Yes, I'm lonely for that kind of 'different' inside, a surprise connection in a small corner of a world not mine which makes it mine, after all.

Mermaid Idol

This is a gift for a friend.