Some of the beauty blooming in my sister’s backyard currently. Good thing there’s not a market for stolen trees (wait, is there?). ♦
Finding art and beauty in everything lately. Threw Bean and Shane a co-ed shower for Button a while back and during clean up some of the leftovers mingled together in a pleasing menagerie of texture and composition. I dig the rather garish colors as well. Pickles, rocket, croutons, and candy of cotton.
Then at the store, these hearts nearly leapt out at me, with a call to join their army of love. Fall in line!
And this walk- nothing oddly unusual, just nature wearing its glory au naturel.
A pause before entrance.
Spent some time in O Canada last summer where I stopped in at Miniature World. The carnivalian (gettin’ wordy with words) circus scene was an absolute favorite. It employed sooo many little figurines of people and I wondered how many folks set them all up- just one? They aren’t willy-nilly- they’re all in an interaction or have a place to be. No red noses though. I’m partial to the guy at the far right walking out of frame, the way the lower half of his coat’s taken flight. The scene sprawls for many feet beyond the photo filled with replicas of all the classic rides found in such places. Push a button and the lights dim causing everything to glow in the dark under black lights.
Oh, yes, and there’s this dandy as well.
In things with a bit less beauty, I had to take part of my car dash apart recently in the hopes of installing a new flasher relay, no blinkers = no darn good. Took me less than five minutes to remove the two screws and swap the thing out. Success! Even learned what the heck torx 20 screws were and that they allowed me to finally use the star tip bits in the screwdriver kit. It then took me no less than a stinking (pee-yew) half an hour to get the darned things back in place. At any rate, I can now flash people freely again, and we’re all better for it.
Gosh, three days after a trip through the car wash and nothing to show for it according to the photo here.
It would appear that I’m still evil as someone felt they must brand my little car on the passenger’s side door. They must know it’s best spelled with an “A” as well. Most of the time it doesn’t display itself quite so prominently, and with the circle not etched in as deep, I’m merely marked as though with a scarlet letter. (In other things anarchy, Bender’s lines continually repeat in my mind as I write.)
Those are stars in my ears, uh, eyes. ♦
Long live the vinyl.
For Christmas, Bean gave me these fantabulous bookends made from old records. Repurposing is a beautiful thing! Though this particular item does make me feel a bit for the music. Find them at spinninghat.com.
One Pot Chicken and Brown Rice.
This was far more delicious than I imagined it’d be. Simple, simple, simple- chop up some stuff and dump it in the pan, cover and simmer where the magic apparently happens, allowing for all the flavors to intermingle and saturate the rice. Made it again the very next week even, which just doesn’t happen much, as variety is a muse.
There’s so much beauty to be found in the ugly. To me, this is rather ugly. And yet, I’m finding beauty, maybe it’s in composition, possibly in the repetition of coils, likely the light’s play on the stained rim. ♦
Oh, to bask in a bouquet, to meander through a field of sunflowers …
Today’s musings, the telling of my outright full-on love (love!) for that of Vincent van Gogh. Often, I am asked who my favorite artist is, to which I reply “My favorite artist is Vincent van Gogh.” I’m met with a groan or rolling of the eyes much of the time, especially if a fellow artist or designer is the one asking. For, he’s typical. A layman’s choice. His work over saturates many a poster shop, the term “a dime a dozen” coming to mind in describing the prevalence of his work.
What I had yet to learn was that the ability to produce realism was in fact considered preliminary.
At the age of 14, I hated, hated, hated him! His work rather. Any artwork that didn’t seek to capture realism simply sucked in my view. The way I saw it, these artists didn’t have the skill to look at an object or scene and reproduce it in graphite or paint. Instead, they apparently did what they could, creating splotchy, ill-conceived versions of their subjects often with poor perspective and proportion to boot. My thinking hadn’t yet evolved to realize that the art that he and others were creating wasn’t about the desire to recreate reality perfectly. What I had yet to learn was that the ability to produce realism was in fact considered preliminary. For years artists were trained to draw and paint realistically, spending hours recreating works painted by the masters down to the last brushstroke, as well as the traditional still life studies, figure rendering, portraiture and landscape work.
I returned time and again to books filled with works of Impressionism (along with a handful of other “isms”) and still shook my head in disbelief, unable to see an ounce of beauty in the work. I remember the day it all became clear to me. From the 6th grade on, I’d spend hours drawing, shunning a table or desk, opting instead for the floor. More often than not, I’d look up to find myself quite literally frozen in place, the sketch pad laid out across the bed, having knelt alongside it for hours, legs long since asleep, as I realized I’d once again trailed off into my own little world. That particular day, in leu of sketch pad, I stared perplexed at van Gogh’s “Irises.” Light bulb! I’d been perceiving the work all wrong. Having acquired the structural basics, fully versed and equipped in all things realistic, artists wanted more! To push beyond and discover something new! Uncharted territory. A style unexplored and yet to be defined, to be known for originality, a contribution. To create and be known for creating!
Art isn’t about beauty, though, it’s certainly a personal joy when it is. Art is about ideas. It’s not always pretty. Nor soothing. It can tell the truth. With a lie. With art one can mirror the current trends and foibles of society, as many a wry political cartoon may attest. The lie being that the art itself is a recreation of an image, not the actual image.
So, Vincent was the catalyst to my expansion of thought, a widening of view, and for that, I have great affection for him despite his commonplace status. Screw art snobs and the need to offer up a high brow example of artistic depth, yes? I’ve always been a bit sad that van Gogh came off as somewhat of a kook, what with the earlobe sharing and death by botched suicide attempt business. His short life spiraled downward into madness and was filled with many dark times and a lingering lack of self esteem. He sold but one painting while living and was generally considered a failure.
I was overcome to find that he was more than his bleak reputation.
In 2004, the Seattle Art Museum held an exhibition including an extensive selection of his work. I had seen several pieces at other museums on the East coast, but nothing like in this particular exhibit. The first room was full of just his drawings. Detailed sketches on aged brown paper with graphite. In those drawings, I saw that he was by no means just some kooky, dismal failure. He knew how to capture light and shape and perspective. Incredible detail, thoughtful visual tellings of the life he lived day to day. It was like reading an intimate journal, looking at those drawings. Then the next room, all paintings, all color! YAY! The piece de resistance, my favorite painting by him. “Cafe Terrace at Night.” No print does the real thing justice! No words in description. Cobblestone, wrought iron, night, stars, outside dining … le sigh. I began to cry. In a room milling with people, my sister came up behind me, “Deborah!” When I turned, tears welled over. No sobs, I held them down, receiving a nice lump in my throat from that! Ha. I was overcome to find that he was more than his bleak reputation. A published book of letters written to his brother show he was wonderfully expressive and reflective in thought. Seeing tactile proof right there though, on paper and canvas, to almost touch what he touched, it showed that for whatever struggles he had, he was so much more, and it renewed my pride in naming him my favorite. ♦
Cafe Terrace at Night
Recently I was completely inspired by another’s blog (Hi, Jean!) concerning the topics of food and cooking. Some of my thoughts on all things culinary …
That said, here in our society food can and should be so much more than fuel
I truly believe life is what you make it! From what you choose to fill your mind with, the thoughts you feed on, to the way you decorate and keep your home, the tone it evokes with lighting and music provides atmosphere, a feeling you hope others will be enveloped in and carry with them. I create my own world, not to escape reality, but to enhance it. That most certainly includes food, and the whole experience of dining. My dad’s former chastisement as to why I often make such a production out of everything has shifted over time to sincere compliments for creating beauty, building a home that’s inviting, and for my chasing after a newfound passion for cooking whole heartedly. The words “You should be a chef!” are heard from his mouth, despite his less than adventurous “meat and potatoes” view of food that contrasts starkly with mine. At its most basic, I try to think of food as fuel, my body as a machine and a gift, I get only one and if I mess it up too badly, I have to leave early. That said, here in our society food can and should be so much more than fuel, we’re afforded the privilege and luxury of abundance.
Growing up, I always wanted to help in the kitchen as lots of kids probably do. Generally, I was considered in the way and made to leave sooner than later. By the time I was a teenager, I really looked at any cooking to be done as an inconvenience, and had crossed over into the realm of thinking it was a necessary evil to be hurried through and accomplished with minimal effort so as to get back to life. Then in my early twenties, I began preparing picnics here and there for friends and boyfriends and discovered I really enjoyed it! Classic sandwiches led into experiments with the occasional offbeat meat or cheese combination and then grew to the inclusion of all kinds of breads and spreads. A sandwich connoisseur, I am! And such a bread snob! No plain, packaged, pre-sliced, ordinary white or wheat bread for me, no sir. It’s gotta be whole so that I can determine the thickness for myself -thick-cut mild sourdough for French toast with bite. Thin-cut grilled jalapeno cheddar bread with pepperjack, roast beef and chipotle mayo for a sandwich/soup combo. Bakery-bought cinnamon-raisin bagels toasted and spread with crunchy peanut butter, slightly melted, and piled with crispy bacon, Presley inspired, a little frightening, but I swear you’d love me if I made you breakfast. Later on, as a volunteer on the 20something leadership team at my church, there were plenty of opportunites to prepare dinner for a large group, sometimes alone, but often with others ready and willing to be delegated to which added to my learning and now loving of entertaining.
This and then that kept me from delving much further into actually learning anything substantial in the way of cooking, and years passed by, while I waited for a time when I wasn’t in school or working or volunteering too much. Enter this past January! After a few false starts last year, I’ve really got down to business about cooking this year. It’s such an art thing. A feast for the senses, from the aroma wafting up to fill your nostrils, to the sight of the rich and decadent. The first taste exploding in your mouth, a culmination of flavors dancing on the tongue, beckoning and calling in enticement of more, heavy with satisfaction. Nothing short of ecstasy. The smells and textures, the colors, they provide infinite combination possibilities. It’s like love in a whole new form.
My role models have been few and far between when it comes to cooking:
• A distant and rarely seen uncle who makes killer salmon on the grill no matter the season or weather.
• Two friends, husband and wife, who worked beautifully as a team in the kitchen last Thanksgiving, to provide a meal to blow nothing less than your socks off.
• A few of the cooks where I once worked …
There’s a popular belief out there about simplicity in cooking, a minimalist view where one learns to prepare quality ingredients well.
Yes, thanks to a few too many years working at an Italian restaurant, I’m all about the pasta. Favorite food genre: Italian! Too often when I mention that, people say something like, “Oh, you like Italian? I guess it’s alright, but kinda boring.” Oh, do let me convince you otherwise! Surely, you’re referring to that old standby of spaghetti and meatballs, I take it? Enter REAL Italian, thank you very much. I shall make you any number of delectable dishes, a Chicken Cacciatore, a Fettuccine Primavera, Bucatini all’Amatriciana, or one of my very favorites, a Chicken Picatta or Marsala, maybe. Picatta, so good with a butterflied chicken breast in lemon sauce with capers, and the Marsala, based on the sweet red Marsala wine reduced down with just a bit of heavy cream among other ingredients and combined with mushrooms over pasta. How about a Penne all’Arrabbiata, meaning “angry,” so spicy with its abundant crushed red pepper and garlic. I simply adore garlic with a capital “G”. I forgive you, if you don’t. Or Pasta alla Puttanesca which means “Pasta in the way a whore would make it.” Or if you prefer, Spaghetti alla Puttanesca, “whore’s spaghetti.” Made with Kalamata olives, crushed tomatoes, anchovies (just the essence and a smidgin at that, so no worries) capers and garlic. The name’s origin? Possibly the sauce’s spicy flavor, though, I was taught that the ingredients was placed into many a glass jar during the morning back in Naples, Italy. Those jars were then lined up along the window sills of the brothel where the hot sun would beat down on them throughout the day causing the smell to waft out and down the street to passersby, potential customers, drawing them in for more than a meal. Either way, baby, that be the schtuff!
So, as of this past January, I had sandwiches, breakfasts, and pastas down. Time to expand! I have some stellar cookbooks, but when browsing through them, though, inspired and appetite wetted, the list of ingredients per recipe can be nothing less than daunting. So, I set aside my cookbook collection in want of starting with the basics. There’s a popular belief out there about simplicity in cooking, a minimalist view where one learns to prepare quality ingredients well. That’s where I chose to begin. ♦