Projects, or, Wonder Woman Does Not Live Here

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We have been enjoying rain for the past several weeks, and it shows.  Colors are more intense as the winter grasses emerge, the cold is shaking the leaves into color, and the subdued light intensifies the beauty of the trails nearby.  Of course, post-production helps, too.  I’ve enjoyed the weather – wind, rain, clouds, sunshine, cold.

The variety of weather has really helped, too, as this past week I’ve been dealing with dental problems and dental pain.  I didn’t know my teeth could be so annoying!!  However, things are calming down, and thank goodness for dental insurance, and good dentists.

Around here, there are a lot of things afoot, and not enough time to do them all.  I have been doing the following:

I thought I would be able to do it all, and still work my silly schedule, but it may be that I will need to scale back a bit.  I really want to do all these things, but find that an 11-hour day is so long that by the time I get home, I can just function.  This means eat dinner, do the dishes, and either fall asleep or watch a bit of TV, and then fall asleep.  How dull, eh?

What I am finding useful, though, is to actually schedule my creative time.   This means sit down and decide what I want to do on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  If I don’t, I get distracted, and other things just won’t happen.  And trust me, there are lots of things to distract me (besides aching teeth).  If I stay focused on my projects, I become a recluse and don’t get out of the house.  Friends and family help to keep me human, not a raving, obsessed something.

Rainy Day Walk

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I’ve been rather housebound for the last few days, busy with this and that, and just plain lazy.  This morning, though, with the prediction of a whole day of rain, the allure of a walk in the damp was too much.  Our rain has dwindled into a slow drizzle, but it is so welcomed here in our parched California landscape.  The sky was a blue-grey, hinting at moisture to come, and it did soon after I started out, more like a misty rain than drops, which is fine when you want to go hiking.  The trails were all sticky – my boots sucked into the mud and made a rhythmic noise with each step.  Areas of the trail had not yet dried, but when they do, the trail will be lumpy and bumpy for a long time.

When I got to the area I wanted to explore – it’s always new, no matter how many times you go! – the parking area was closed for repairs.  I skirted around to where the oaks and cacti and stream and sycamore hang out, just in case it did get wetter.  It turns out that the recent rains have caused soil slippage, and some trees have toppled a bit.  One oak had fallen and split, so the work crew was waiting for the oak tree specialist (the city has one, as oak trees are protected where I live) to determine whether it needed anything or just a bit of a trim.

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Here, a little bit of rain goes a long way, and soon enough the grasses begin to sprout for the upcoming spring.  Beige and brown give way to the delicate greens.  The cold temperatures have pushed the autumn leaves to golds and reds, so suddenly a dull grey-brown landscape pops into life.  The smell of the damp earth, the creeks with running water, and the occasional bird song or insect was all that could be heard.  A bit of bliss for a couple of hours!  Click a picture below to scroll through them.

Junking the Junk

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How many of us really do clean up and clean out after the holiday season?  I know I never have because I’m lazy and really do not have the time.  To declutter means I have to have the time to do it.  When I was a kid, my mother made us clean our rooms by throwing everything into the middle of the floor, dumping drawers out, and so on.  It was pretty traumatic and valuable (to me) things would get broken.  The sound of a vacuum cleaner forewarned that hell was ready to break loose.  So, for me, getting rid of things takes a long, long time because that is what cleaning up meant:  throw it all in the middle of the room and spend 20 hours doing the task.  I’ve done that for years.

2016 has been different.  For a variety of reasons, the DH and I have been cleaning up and cleaning out.  In the past two months we have rearranged the garage for better usage, and to consolidate stuff so it can be more easily accessed and sorted out by subject matter (yarn, books, toys, tools, etc.), so that future decluttering tasks are easier to do.  We also managed to install new mirrors in the bathroom, clean out the cookbook shelf, empty the bathroom vanity drawers, throw away all the stuff lurking under the kitchen and bathroom sinks.  DH has cleaned up his office and I have cleaned up the studio and bedroom closet.  The picture above is not what we took to the Goodwill drop-off corner, but yesterday, just from the closet, I brought over bags of purses, shoes, clothes, material, and other goodies.  The bags were the 15-gallon trash can variety.  Now the closet looks like a closet!  I can find my clothes, my shoes, my sewing machine(s).  Wow!

I get holding on to things.  Some things are too costly to replace, such as paints or spinning wheels or chain saws.  Hobby items are tools that can take up space and may not be used all the time, but are necessary when needed.  However – HOWEVER! –  too much is just too much.  Freeing up space means there is actual space – physical, mental, and emotional – for new things (hopefully not physical unless they are the product of one’s productivity).  Organizing makes life cleaner and easier.  We still have a long, long way to go, though.

So, with that thought in mind, I leave you with a link to a jolly good cartoon:  http://www.newyorker.com/cartoons/a20188

New Year, New Focus

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I’ve done watercolor off and on since I was a teenager, back before the dinosaurs disappeared, but I have never made it a resolution to spend time – a lot of time – mastering it.  Rather, the approach I have had has been sporadic and amateurish.  Now, I want to be the “serious student” I never was . . . and while I think I am off to a good start, the real question which lies ahead is how well will I integrate painting into my work life?  I’ve managed to integrate both sumi-e and photography into my life, but I began both of those long before I ended up working 10-hour days.

There are a lot of good books about “how to” watercolor, and I have looked through and purchased a number of them.  As well, there are a number of good YouTube channels with talented artists, with whom you get to cruise along with as they produce a painting.  For me, this visual is what gets me all the time.  While books show you step-by-step photos, some in color, some in black and white, there is absolutely nothing like the video of beginning-to-end, with commentary as the painting develops.

I still plan on pursuing photography – in fact, I have a 365 project planned, with different subjects on a monthly basis.  While I am shifting my focus away from photography as my primary creative outlet, I really want to master watercolor and drawing, and to do so, I need to spend more time doing it rather than thinking about doing it.

So, Happy New Year to everyone!  I hope you have new intentions to keep you happy and creative in your life!

Perspective in Retrospect

I have no head for heights, and just watching this video has made me jump a number of times!  Despite that, I have always loved this picture because of the simple fact I could never even think of something as working up so high.  There is something so awesome about these men . . . and the photographers as well.