Harvest

 

 

We have a bounty of home-grown tomatoes on the sill and I am a smitten kitten.

 

Still, this weekend’s recent harvest has me wondering when to call it quits and clear out the plants. They’re getting spindly, to be sure. And the tomatoes seem to have slowed down quite a bit. At some point, we have to know when to stop watering the danged thangs. They’ve been good to us, granted, but we don’t want to waste water if they’re not producing. Capisce?

 

It’s tricky, though. For just when I think they’ve expelled their last sighs, the little tomato plants surprise me by showing off new greenies. Looks like the old gals have a bit of life left after all. I can relate…

 

Cool, Clear Water

 

 

While keeping cool and floating in the pool, I couldn’t help thinking about water. Cool, clear water. I guarantee much of my liquid obsession is based in the drought. Go figure.

 

Our water problems here in the West are consistently ugly, and even though there’s talk of major El Niño weather in our future, one winter won’t cure our ills.

 

But I digress. This photo is not only beautiful, but cooling for me. I can almost feel the cool, damp room where Mister and I encountered this shady fountain, a jillion years ago. And for the moment, at least, I don’t mind the heat so much.

Murder Was the Case That They Gave Me

 

 

I didn’t mean to do it. And yet I did.

 

I found a lizard in the house. In the house, y’all. Since that little guy doesn’t pay rent, he had to go. So Mister and I put a bowl over him and slid a big piece of paper beneath the bowl, capturing the lizard and making it possible to take him outside to set him free. Easy, right?

 

It was going according to plan and I started to pick up the paper and bowl. The lizard’s weight was a bit more than I’d anticipated and he broke free. I put the bowl back down, hoping to cover him again. But I caught him on his tail. Expecting him to “release” his tail and run free, I tried again to place the bowl over his entire body. And that’s when it happened: I accidentally placed the bowl on his neck. I had killed him.

 

It really hurt my heart, and as Mister carried the lizard’s limp body to the yard and placed him in the grass, I apologized over and over. At that point, there really was nothing I could do. Mister asked if I would be able to let it go and I assured him that yes, I could. It’s the circle of life, after all.

 

I continued to feel badly about the whole thing, but I kept it to myself. After a while I told Mister that while I had been the one to deliver the fatal blow, I didn’t really think it was my fault. The way I see it, that little lizard shouldn’t have been in the house in the first place. This isn’t his domain. He screwed up.

 

I think if I keep telling myself that, I’ll get over my guilt. Poor little lizard.

I Yam What I Yam, Not What I’m Not

 

 

I am a big fan of the work of Edward Weston. His photography is some of my very favorite in the whole wide world. When I see his work, I am left speechless.

 

Mr. Weston and I share a birthday, but that’s about it. I would love to be able to come close to his photos, but I fail miserably, each time I try.

 

Recently I found a pepper that intrigued me so much, I almost couldn’t bring myself to eat it. Its curves and attitude led me to think of Weston. So I got out my camera.

 

 

Even with the help of Photoshop, I failed in my Weston quest. Which really isn’t a surprise. I mean, I’m not Edward Weston. No one is. And really, isn’t that as it should be?

 

So I’ll go on loving Mr. Weston’s work, and I’ll probably go on failing at imitating him. The only person I’m good at imitating is me. Fingers crossed, that will be enough.

 

Just Because…

 

 

Today is National Just Because Day in America. Why? Just Because.

 

I’ve decided to pull out my sewing machine and some fabric I’ve had for a while. I also have a couple of pillow forms in my craftin’ cubby. So I’m a-gonna make me some new pillows. Why? Just Because.

 

And I’m gonna love those pillows, too. Just Because.

 

By the way, I do not have a Hello Kitty sewing machine, and that’s a darned shame. Why? Just Because.

Slowpoke?

 

 

I’ve shared that I’m working on a commissioned painting right now and that there is a deadline. Because I didn’t just meet me, I was able to plan accordingly when taking on this project, giving myself enough time to actually finish the danged thang. As of right now, I’m not worried. My head may start to melt as the deadline draws near, mind you, but I’ll deal with that then.

 

Yesterday brought a new challenge my way: I was asked to participate in a local charity art show. Basically – I agreed to paint 2 very small pieces – 4 x 6 inches each – on art paper. The pieces are then displayed and sold for set prices, along with several hundred other works, the night of the big fundraiser. Ordinarily, this shindig goes down in November. But this year is different. It’s happening in September, so I – all by myself – agreed to meet a 4 September submission date . For 2 tiny paintings. By me. Slowpoke Mikki.

 

Now if you’re asking why I would agree to such a deadline, what with knowing myself and all, I’ll tell ya: I’m trying to say “Yes” more often to life. And when this incredibly lovely person asked me to contribute, I sort of felt like I needed to make myself available. Some of that is, like I said, saying “Yes.” Some of it is putting myself in a position that calls upon me to actually be an artist. No matter what you read and see in these missives, I am very conservative in life when it comes to tooting my own horn. Being part of this fundraiser will require me to own, well, me. And I can definitely stand to do a bit more of that.

 

So yesterday I worked on one of the small paintings and all it needs is a touch-up, once it’s dry. It’s darling. And it took less than 2 hours. I may not be as slowpoke-y as I think I am. Hmm…

Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena

 

 

Have you ever had the privilege of standing before a work of art, a work you’ve seen a ka-jillion times in print, but never in person? I had just such an experience last week when my painting buddy Nicole and I headed to Pasadena’s Norton Simon Museum for an art outing.

 

 

For ages now folks have been telling me to visit that museum, and I’ve truly wanted to go. But you know how it is – life is pulling you in different directions, and then when you do have some free time, you forget you were even interested in doing that, so you end up doing nothing. But I digress… Nicole and I arrived at the Norton Simon at high noon – when the doors opened. We didn’t have much of a game plan, other than making sure we saw an exhibit about the accidental discovery of synthetic blue (paint tint). We just wanted to wander around. And so we began.

 

 

The museum itself is gorgeous and rests on almost 8 acres, which is pretty fabulous. The gardens are tremendously beautiful and the sculpture collection is amazing.

 

 

They have a casting of Rodin’s “The Thinker” and it’s pretty cool to walk around, studying it. They have several Rodin pieces, in fact, and they’re gorgeous.

 

 

It was fun to round a corner and see an original work that’s familiar, such as Vincent van Gogh’s “The Mulberry Tree.” I’ve seen this Diego Rivera painting – “The Flower Vendor (Girl With Lilies)” – on cards and in magazines forever. To see the real deal was crazy:

 

 

Same with this pair of Lucas Cranach the Elder’s “Adam” and “Eve” paintings.

 

 

Certain pieces seemed familiar, but I may be wrong about that.

 

 

Others were brand-spanking-new to me. And I was smitten.

 

 

As for that aforementioned exhibit about synthetic blues, it was fascinating! As I said, that color’s invention was an accident (the chemists were trying to develop a new red) and it changed the painting world. Before this new Prussian Blue, blue paints were unstable and their hues would change with time and exposure. This was no bueno for artists, as their vision couldn’t be fully realized in a fashion they could depend on. But suddenly, Prussian Blue came along and it led to a newer, more reliable blue. If an artist used it alone or mixed it with other colors, the hues remained more steady, more true. After Prussian Blue, the French government sponsored a contest for chemists to develop a new, stable Ultramarine hue. I was blown away, thinking of a government sponsoring and supporting the arts in such a fashion. I also learned why – to this day – the color is called French Ultramarine. Makes perfect sense now. All of these developments took place in the 1700s and the exhibit included beautiful pieces (like the detail above), representing the new colors. Again – I was smitten.

 

 

After going through the Asian collection of mostly sculpture, Nicole asked if I was getting museum-ed out. I didn’t hesitate in answering, “Yes.” We looked at our watches and realized the joint was nearing closing time. We had been there almost 5 hours!

 

 

Let me be honest here. I adore Nicole. She is an amazing soul and I respect her to the nth degree. She’s also smart and fun, and those qualities count – a lot. I share this because I know going on an outing with her played a role in my reception of the day, but there was something more. And I’m not quite sure what that something was. I think this may have been the most inspiring art outing I’ve known. I got super-duper ideas for future projects. I chilled out about some of the mistakes I make in painting, when I saw very similar occurrences in the works of masters. Nicole and I talked through certain aspects of painting, and my brain was spinning in the best possible way. It really was a grand outing. And I’m so glad we went.

 

 

I now want to take Mister to the Norton Simon Museum and I encourage everyone to go, if you’re in or around Pasadena. Don’t be like me, y’all. Don’t let decades pass before heading over. It’s just too wonderful to wait.

 

Shareful

 

 

I am sated. With food. With fun. With friends. And life is indeed good.

 

I have lots to share, and will! But not right now. Right now I need to get my house back in order. I need to not overeat today. I need to work on some art. I need to make today a good day.

 

I’ll be shareful, though, promise. Tomorrow…

And on The Seventh Day…

 

 

The house is tidy. The food is prepped. We’re ready.

 

A high-school buddy is coming for dinner and Mister and I are looking forward to it. We’ve only crossed paths with him a few times since we were kids, and he’s a swell guy. So getting together for an evening is sure to be lovely.

 

It’s funny how we know people and then we don’t. It happens. Though I only moved to St. Louis when I was 16, Mister knew this dude throughout his early schoolin’. We all knew people like that. Hell – we liked a lot of them. And yet life twirls and swirls and we land where we land. It isn’t wrong or even bad. It’s just life.

 

We are looking forward to tonight. And we have been since the dinner was arranged. But yesterday made us even more happy to see this dude. You see, we had been emailing back and forth about what to serve for dinner. (I like to know if a guest has any food allergies or preferences before planning a menu.) When the dude asked what he could contribute to the meal (after flying into L.A.), we knew how difficult that would be, and so we made a joke about him bringing all kinds of foods only available in St. Louis. (We then made sure he knew he didn’t need to bring a thing.) Anyhoo – yesterday we received a delivery. From the dude. He had sent us a Gooey Butter Cake – one of the joke items we’d included in our funny email.

 

Our old high-school buddy made us laugh and laugh, and we really appreciated the joke. And the gift. Gooey Butter Cake am be good, y’all. Cheers to old friends.

Living With Color

 

 

I have shared my feelings about living with white walls, and how as a renter, I have spent most of my life surrounded by all that white. Or swiss coffee. Or whatever popular name of the moment is being bandied about instead of calling a damn paint color what it is – white!

 

But since moving to the new pad a couple of years ago, Mister and I have been fortunate enough, in some spaces, to be living with color. And because we spend all our time here, instead of going to the summer cabin by the lake or the mountain ski lodge in the winter – neither of which exist by the way – we get used to our surroundings and sometimes forget just how good we’ve got it.

 

Take the above photo. I’ve put sunflowers in that ordinary white vase many a time. And not once have I found myself ah-ing over the result. But this time, when placed in front of a beautiful blue wall… Wow! It’s my house and even I am smitten!

 

 

Our use of color, so far, has extended into the kitchen, too. In there, we are greeted each day by a happy green. And I love it. Just glancing in that direction makes me smile.

 

Early on, when we were still in the process of choosing colors and living with paint splotches on the walls, a friend advised me to be more basic. She said that if I wasn’t careful, my house would end up looking like a circus. She may have been right, but I’m okay with that. After living with white walls for decades, I am finally, fully committed to the Land of Oz. And I friggin’ love it.

 

Cue the circus music…