Tuesday, December 29, 2009
She would layer the ingredients in a glass casserole dish (she came from the generation of casseroles... get your can of Campbell's soup & can opener). She didn't use Campbell's for this one though... she would saute the eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, onion in olive oil and then layer everything in the dish and bake it. I remember really liking it. It was very different for her.
After looking at a couple of recipes on-line, I started making my own version of ratatouille last winter. I make it in a big stock pot. The onion and garlic get sauteed in olive oil first then the vegetable stock and tomatoes get added. By that point the salted eggplant has sweated and the veggies have been cubed: eggplant, zucchini, green, red & yellow peppers all into the pot! Salt, pepper, oregano, basil & bay. Simmer for an hour or two and then let it sit overnight before serving then the flavors can really meld & blend.
I made some peasant stew yesterday for a party tonight. It has been pretty cold in our little California beach town and I thought a pot of warm tasty stew would be a nice treat. It also seemed like the perfect dish for a housewarming party.
This housewarming party was really quite lovely. So many people came to warm this new home for my friend Vonder. Everyone brought food and the table was overflowing. There was a gigantic Christmas tree standing in the corner of the studio apartment all sparkling with lights and ornaments.
There were groups of people standing, sitting, talking, laughing. At one moment I was really happy to realize I was part of this group of warm happy people during this time of year. I was surrounded by friends and it was heartfelt.
When I went to gather my items to leave I found that the ratatouille was nearly gone. It is always a happy sight when you find that everyone has enjoyed the food you prepared. It is for me anyway.
So that is the state of the world for me tonight. I am still radiating gratitude as we fast approach the New Year.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
I am trying to stay in the beauty of the outward breath. Trying not to jump into "what's next?!". I am only doing Sunday night and I think that I will go take a long hot bath. Then curl up with a book and my cat and enjoy my warm comforter on this cold winters night.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I don't know why but this time of year is hard for a lot of people. Winter time, Christmas time, the New Year... why do we make it so hard? Expectations of what we think everything should be? Oh the good ol' days when we were kids. Oh the bad ol'days when we were kids. I don't have enough of this or that... I should have done this or that...
It's a lot of looking at what we don't have and not enough of looking at what we have right here right now. Where are we at this moment. Who is in our life right now that makes our hearts sing.
My current work situation could throw me into a hurricane of worry & frustration but I have been diligent especially the last week about staying in faith. The really good news is that I have work set up in January & February but right now-right now I am in between jobs. Being self employed means that I am constantly chasing the next job.
The next job always comes and my bills always get paid and I don't go hungry. That's not to say that my bank account doesn't get overdrawn and that I don't drive on empty and sometimes I eat once a day. But I am always taken care of...
I have a lot to be grateful for right now. In October I was given a huge gift: a place of my own. It's a perfect little house and I love it. I have my health. I have a car... with gas. I can read & write. I live in a society where women such as myself can live independently. I can vote. I have freedom of speech. I have food. I have family & friends that love me. I live in a cozy little beach town where there really isn't a lot of traffic. Things in my life are on the up and up.
So as I chase the next job, I am looking at what I do have and not what I don't have. And I guess I want to say to the world that things are alright.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
So as I sit here with time on my hands I ponder this last month and type in the rhythm of the Latin tunes on the ipod. (If my high school typing teacher had played Latin music in class I would have been a primo typist... but I digress)
So I sit and ponder this last month of November. It is not anything I expected. What did I expect... the same ol' thang. But when is it ever the same ol' thing...
As of November 1 I had already spent 6 days in my new home. I found the perfect little Hobbit House on October 20 & moved October 24-25. That happened so fast my head was spinning. Meanwhile I was coordinating costumes on two large cast shows- one to open mid-November and the other mid-December.
Then one day I was checking Face Book to see what everyone was doing and I saw a posting from a cousin... her dad (my first cousin) had just been admitted to the James Cancer Hospital in Columbus Ohio. Last I heard in June her dad was recovering from surgery that had to do with cancer. Major surgery but he made it through.
10 days later I was flying to Columbus to say good-bye to my dear cousin. The crazy thing is that I had not seen him in 12 years. How could he be so dear. But he was that dear. My sister who lives on the east coast was able to make the 7 hour drive to Ohio. She called me after seeing him a week after the FB note and said "If you want to say good-bye you better get here fast."
You know how we always say to our dear friends & family "When life gets really bad I'll be there for you." Well this was that time. This is the time when you have to be a braveheart and face the reality of mortality. It's one thing to bury your grandparents and parents- which I have done. But this is different. Now it's a contemporary relation. It's my cousin that I grew up with and shared a lot of great memories with.
Could I not go see him one last time? What am I suppose to say to someone who is dieing? Could I look him in the eye while he laid in a hospital bed hooked up to numerous machines? Could I hold his hand & make him chuckle one last time? Could I afford it? Did I have time? He's so far away.
This was the time when nothing else matters- you drop everything and go. Because really what is this whole crazy Life about? Honestly it baffles me most of the time but I believe that the bottom line is not money, success, or material objects. It's not how many college degrees you have or what kind of car you drive. I believe it is all about love and our relationship to each other. How do we care for each other? Do we forgive each other? Do we communicate our true feelings to the ones that matter?
My flight left Tuesday morning out of LAX and I connected to another flight in St. Louis to Milwaukee and finally Columbus. I'm not even sure how long it took me to get there but it was a long ass day.
I spent Wednesday & Thursday with my dear cuz. Mostly I sat in the room with him. I didn't have to say much just be there. I was able to look him in the eye and tell him I loved him and I was glad that I came to visit him.
The following week he died, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I was home baking pies with a friend. We were watching movies while we whirled around my small kitchen. My cell phone beeped and it was a text. It was from another cousin, my sick cousin's sister and it said he was gone.
While I was sad to see him go, I was mostly relieved. He was a happy, funny, animated guy and to see him incapacitated was not right.
I cried when I had to tell one of my aunts but other than that I cried mostly before I went to Columbus. I cried after I said good-bye to him in the hospital. And I am misty right now as I write because I miss him.
After going through many deaths of close relations I have learned that the tears come when they come and I let them come when ever they show up. Sometimes its hard because I am working or I am in line at the grocery store and people get uncomfortable. At some point I figured out that it didn't matter that I had to cry when I needed to.
As I move forward I am re-newed with a sense of the NOW. Trying to keep fresh the idea of what is important. When I received the text regarding my cousin's passing I was watching Moulin Rouge. And the big statement that the bohemians were striving for in "Spectacular Spectacular" was that it is more important to love than to be loved. And I want to keep that in mind for this beautiful Sunday.
Monday, October 5, 2009
This last weekend I participated in the second annual Wearable Art Fashion Show at the Museum of Ventura County. It took a while to come up with a concept for my design. After flipping through the September Vogue with all of the Fall fashions, I was inspired by Vera Wang's 50 style polka dot dresses. I took it a step further and made a tribute to Marilyn Monroe's Seven Year Itch dress in white plastic grocery bags from Vons. The bodice & skirt are lined with a red plastic table cloth. Instead of stitching the dress together I used packing tape.
The museum coordinator connected me with a young woman from Los Angeles. Her name is Dizzy and I could not have asked for anyone better. She was wonderful on the runway and truely brought my dress to life.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
The truth of the matter is that Life is good. It seems like a three ring circus but it's good none the less. I have plenty of work right now. And the projects are good projects. They are creative, I am able to work independently and I am making a living as an artist. I am living my dream.
When did the projects change from juggling nerf balls to juggling bowling balls? I believe it's my perspective... am I focused on the positive or the negative? am I in the moment? am I present... right here right now? Or am I looking ahead at all my deadlines wondering how I going to do it all??!!!
So I have to stop myself (often) and do the next indicated action and pay attention right here right now. Eating something doesn't hurt either.
I try to show up and do the best I can each day. Some days my best is better than others. And that's okay for me.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
The designer and I have run to The Theater Company in Upland, downtown LA to the fabric district and to Chapman College in Orange County to rent costumes. We still have to hit Western Costume in North Hollywood. That place is really cool because the costumes are from the old old movies. I get nostalgic when I go there. I think I might see Scarlet O'Hara's green drape dress! We are trying to find costumes to match the designer's vision and fit the bodies of the singers. I have a shout out to my friends at the Salt Lake City Opera to see what they have in stock. Then at the end after all the singing is finished, I get to remember where everything came from!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Another June, another summer program at the Music Academy of the West. More vocal students, more costumes, more coordinating.
Today's adventure was driving down to Upland to pull costumes. This year I am coordinating with a local SoCal costume designer. We decided to meet at a logical point since we were coming from different home bases. Hers is in Long Beach, mine is in Ventura.
The logical meeting point ended up to be Irwindale, where the 210 & 605 freeways intersect. Irwindale. There are 2 landmarks that I know of in Irwindale: The Miller's Brewery and the gravel pits. Neither one seemed like a good place to leave a car. I found a Costco in Azusa, not Irwindale but just over the city limits. Lots of parking, safe and $1.99 pizza.
What a trek- 90 miles one way. through the San Fernando Valley... through the Other Valley: San Gabriel... and keep on going!
I took an alternative route home because there was an accident in The Valley somewhere. I stayed on the 210 and wound my way up around the foothills and through the Santa Susana Pass into Simi Valley. I love the Santa Susana Pass. It looks like a perfect backdrop to a Hollywood Western.
Tomorrow we meet in Downtown LA. We are shopping for fabric. There are gypsy costumes to be made!
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
When I am painting, I go in to the "Creative Zone". You know when you get so engrossed in what you are doing that time & place disappear? That's what I'm talking about. I believe that there is a connection to the Divine that happens in the zone.
It is similar to meditation. In meditation you sit in silence and listen to the Divine. There is a channeling of energy that happens. Creating is a channeling of energy from the Divine into this world.
Displaying artwork that comes from such a place exposes a vulnerability. It takes some practice getting use to showing publicly. But I believe it is important to get your artwork out there. It is how visual artists communicate. It is how we connect with others. And after all isn't it all about connection and relationship?
In the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz one of the agreements is "Don't take anything personally". Obviously negative or unsolicited comments are best not taken personally. But Ruiz also talks about doing the same with positive comments. That we need to stand on our own opinion of ourselves, be confident of our own value. Know that you did your best with no regrets.
The more artwork I create with abandon, the more confident I get. The more exhibits I do the easier it gets.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Some say that it is good to know people in high places. Well in my case its good to know people who know people. My friend's niece is a dolphin trainer at Sea World. My friend invited me to celebrate her birthday by swimming with the dolphins. So Tuesday I had the incredible treat of bringing one of my life's dreams in to reality.
It almost feels like it didn't happen. Have you ever gone on a trip & come home and wondered if it ever really happened? That is how I feel. But it did happen and it was wonderful.
weird. snorkling? Face masks? Fins? How deep is the water???
I like to get ALL the details before I "dive in" to something I am unfamiliar with. But on this occasion I had to let go of a lot... including my fear of water. Bogging my friend down with endless questions she couldn't answer was useless, so I let go. I put it out of my mind or put it into another section of my mind so I wouldn't obsess. I went in to this experience with an open mind.
We arrived at Sea World in the morning and were very lucky to be alone with the trainer. The water was very cold: 60 degrees. The wetsuits & booties helped keep us somewhat warm but the cold water does seep in and takes awhile to warm up.
The dolphins were so playful & friendly. We could feel their open hearts. Even though the trainer was giving them commands, nothing felt forced and the dolphins were open to sharing their playfulness with us. We interacted with 3 different dolphins: Sandy, Ridley & Chow. Sandy was the oldest. She was 30 years. There was another dolphin that was 40 years old that we saw in the other holding tank.
Each dolphin was brought over to us separately at first. We were able to pet them & hold their faces in our hands & kiss their noses. Their skin is slick & soft. The trainer said they like to be touched. They each had individual noises they made through their blow holes. We encouraged them with our giggles & strokes.
At the end of our session each one of us got to swim around the pool with one of the dolphins. This was truely a test for me. Deep cold water... with an animal... a large animal... a large powerful animal... but I trusted the animal. The entire time with them there was not a malicious vibe in any of these dolphins. So I held on to the dorcel fin and let Chow take me for a ride around the pool. I screamed & laughed the whole time! Cold water splashing my face! It was amazing! I loved it!
We went on to have a full & fabulous day with private tours of the sea lions & otters. We sat pool side watching the trainers try different tricks with the dolphins. When they got the trick right the dolphins would squeal with delight as they came up out of the water. The trainer in the pool said the dolphins were squealing with excitement underwater. There is so much joy in them!
I could sit and watch them swim for hours. Even when they were just hanging out in their tanks, they swam around and played with each other, jumping out of the water.
Living at the beach allows me to sit on the sand and watch dolphins in the wild. I can see that they are equally playful. I have seen wild dolphins jump and flip out of the ocean.
So much joy! I hope to hold this joy in my heart for a long time.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
I had a step mother for a while after my mother died when I was in my 20's. But she was more like my father's wife then a mother. She was more like the step mother in Cinderella... I used to call her my step-monster... but I'm not bitter about it. really. She disappeared after my dad died 14 years ago. So I don't have to worry about cards for her either.
I'm not quite sure where this blog is taking me or why I even signed in. I guess I just wanted to comment how Mothers Day is for me. I'm not sad like I was early after my mother's death. My sadness probably lasted a good 8 years. Then the emotions started to let up and I don't cry much.
Although I did cry a couple of weeks a go when I told a friend how my dad sobbed at my mother's memroial. I never even saw him shed a tear before that time. There he sat in my aunt's backyard on a short wall sobbing into his hands. It was funny how the tears were right there when I pictured him. Even now I'm getting a bit misty.
As far as my loss of my mother, I have done the majority of the grieving. I say majority because I don't think the grieving is ever done. It just gets different. And my life has been quite different without her as it would have been with her. But life is what it is. It is my journey.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
But really, when I was in junior high the girls had to take sewing while the boys took wood shop. In sewing I made an apron & a gym bag out of gingham (that checkered material, usually white & another color.) Moving on to high school I continued to take sewing because I could make my own clothes. Fabric and patterns were cheap then... The rest is history.
Anyway I went shopping today. The local theater called me in to coordinate the costumes for their next show: a one woman play. They gave me a wad of money and sent me out to find a professional pant suit for the second act. Did I mention they wanted the suit in the color teal? or green. Oh and the actor is tall with an inseam of 34".
My inseam is 28". I'm 5' tall. I can't even reach the top shelf of the kitchen cubbards. What do I know about the Tall section. Well, today I found out how hard it is to shop for a tall woman. Even if there isn't a Petite section I can buy a Regular size pant & cut 12" off the leg and they'll fit. It's not so easy the other way around. Off the rack pants only have about 1.5 inches in the hem to let out.
I started my search at "Avenue", a store over in the "Ross Dress for Less" shopping center. Everything there is casual, nothing professional. Next the"Old Target": nada. Not even jackets. Lots for me but no professional wear. Then "JC Penney" in the Pacific Mall. Here I found a lot of things. There was an actual suit section but nothing in the right size. Oh I did find a jacket in the right size but the pants were missing.
Now I should say I knew perfectly well that I would not find a teal or even a green suit so I was going for something in the ball park. I'm creative not crazy. Maybe a turquoise or green jacket paired with black pant. But almost all the suits were black or navy. The suits with a color jacket were mostly pink or red with a skirt. And most of the suits were petites. Did I mention I'm shopping for a redhead...
JC Penney had the largest selection of blazer jackets and pretty short sleeve or sleeveless blouses. Did I mention that the actress doesn't like to wear short sleeve or sleeveless?
So I ended up with a gray blazer, gray pants that don't match the jacket, black pants both 32". 4 blouses in the blue green range. All short sleeve. It was a start.
I moved on to Sears: nothing. Macy's: this is the land of the petite suit set in nothing over size 10. I found a pair of black pants in a Tall at Lane Bryant. And a tan blazer at Ann Taylor. Both stores had very good customer service. (Having worked in customer service for 6 years in a previous life, I like to give credit where credit is due.)
I want to know where Hilary Clinton gets all those colorful suits!
I had a meeting in Santa Barbara in the evening so I went early so I could stop by Nordstroms. Nordie's has everything! They are so sophisticated. Surely I will find what I need there! They had the smallest suit section and the only colors were black & brown. (FYI: They did have the classic button up blouses with 3/4 length sleeve in white & colors. I couldn't find a one in Ventura)
Then I had a moment of inspiration: Talbots! There's a Talbots at La Cumbre Plaza right on my way to my meeting. Surely they would have professional wear. Appropriate garments!!
It's been a while since I have been up to La Cumbre Plaza and they have seriously upgraded the place. There is even a Louis Vitton store?! At "Talbots" I found a lovely selection of clothes: talls & petites. And much to my surprise when I asked the salesclerk (who was very helpful) if they had any blazers in turquoise she said yes! I was able to find a pair of green pants too.
Tomorrow we have our fitting session. I have a slew of garments to try on the actor. We'll see what fits, what matches the director's vision and what I get to return!
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
This is something I have had to learn to accept, being a Night Hawk. When most people operate on a 9-5 mentality its hard to fit in. AND God knows we all want to fit in and not be judged even if we have a rebellious nature. When your body's natural operating time is more like 12 noon to 12 midnight it can be hard to function early in the day.
Oh you might say what's the big deal? You are probably an Early Bird... but anyway... Sometimes its hard coordinating with the rest of the world. Especially if you have friends that are Early Birds. They are glazing over & making face plants right about the time I'm hitting a good pace! They also tend to call me around 9am and wonder why I'm groggy... "Oh were you sleeping??!" I have one friend who will sometime call me at 7am (!!!) yikes!
Actually being a Night Hawk can be a big deal if you have to take a job with hours like 8am - 5pm. I have had to do that in the past and I just was not very happy. My body rebelled and I was not really clear & functional until after lunch which limits the time of productivity... some thing the boss keeps track of.
Now I am self employed and my hours are more flexible. I can get up slowly and get out of the house at a humane pace. I can work on projects during hours that I am at my peak. I'm happy because my body is happy. It has taken me a while to understand that my body clock ticks to a different time zone AND be okay with it.
That's all for now. I am actually getting tired. It is after all my bedtime: 2am.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Today I put together my marketing plan for my upcoming exhibit before going in to my studio to work. I maintain an art studio in a building where other artists also have studio space. It's a wonderful creative environment. The layout is open concept: no doors on the studios so it promotes community among us.
My upcoming exhibit is called " Through the Window". I'm using old wood framed windows to "frame" my work. Instead of using conventional frames, I'm hanging my paintings on the wall with clips. Then the window will be mounted on the wall in front of the paintings so the viewer will be looking through the window.
So I had to wash the windows outside to get all of the dirt off. I was able to get 6 more windows from a fellow artist at the studio. She's an assemblage artist and collects... everything. I also figured out the arrangement of the paintings and the layout of the window. It worked out that I need to paint 3 more paintings to fill the gallery. (The gallery is in the same building as the studios)
I also worked on painting a bedsheet I bought at a thrift store. I'm prepping it so I can use it as a canvas. The paint I picked up for free from Fuller Paint. They have a big bin in the back of their store full of peoples discards. I think the paint would end up in a toxic landfill. I grabbed a gallon can of primer and i assumed it would be white. But when I opened the can it turned out to be a dark red brown color. This will make an interesting background to work on.
It's 2;30 & I think I'm ready to go to sleep now.