Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Okay, I have had some time off, a lot of time off considering I had to walk away from my main job at the end of the year due to the repetitive strain injury from too much computer time, and the psychological environment  that eventually ground me down too far to continue, even using my spiritual tools, and left me with an ulcer. When I finally got disengaged for good it seemed the sky suddenly opened up and there was the sun shining, and I thought I would take a break and do some art before looking again, though I'd always been looking every month or two for the over two and a half years I held the job.

I underestimated the power of Resistance. It's a long story and I made a vow to just stop with those, so go get Steven Pressfield's The War of Art. If you are any sort of creative type, it will make your eyes go wide, even if you already know some of this like I did. It is Just. So. Clear. There is no escaping learning how to deal with creative blocks of all sorts. Once fully uncovered resistance has a harder time hiding as it does its damage.

So I have been selling my stuff, started up an old business again that I enjoy, worked two other PT jobs I still had, played a lot of FarmVille and ukes, fitted out my studio space, then re-did it, and again, then when it was just right caught up on some TV shows and books. I just took up photography again with a new digital I'd been waiting for for 18 years. Figured out there was some stalling and procrastination going on. Figured it was fear based. That perfectionism thing. I am working on two commissions, one in oil. I haven't done oils for a few years now, cause well, I have been working and not painting. Had gone back to acrylics prior, forgot how to really use them effectively in the new style I'm trying to work out. Bought some great books and will share them next post. Got really excited, did some experimentation. Bought new supplies for those new ideas, which is also procrastination and retail therapy combined, a twofer!

I was going over my medium materials and needed a few things and darn. Cennini Studio Products has sold their painting products division and left no forwarding address. I was looking to replace my Lead Napthanate 24%, used as a drier in oil mediums or added to oil paint. The link in my sidebar (the paint brush) will still take you to the forums and a lot of fine information on oil painting geared towards Renaissance materials and traditions and technique and making your own paint, but the raw products are gone. I thought that I would now have to hoard my Ugly Dog Brush Soap, but Natural Pigments, also linked below Studio Products has it. I think that the soap smells like relabeled Murphy's Oil Soap. If it is, you can get it cheaper by buying Murphy's, but the label won't be as cool.

The other item I usually bought from them was a real lead white tubed oil paint.Natural Pigments has that. It has a really nice workability, dries everything it is mixed with better, is a good warm white with a faint yellow tint, and is dangerous if you get it on your skin and then eat lunch or smoke without washing it off. So don't. I wear nitrile gloves when I use oils. You can get them locally in drug stores but a box of 100 from Dick Blick is very reasonable. Try them out. I have started using them with my acrylics too. More about acrylics later. I have not posted anything on this blog, which was just deteriorating into egocentric rants instead of anything productive or useful regarding painting or art.

Right now my micro office/studio smells like good oil paint and a little oil of spike that I added to the medium I ended up making, with stand oil, English and a little Venetian (thick) turpentine, Damar varnish, a tiny bit of walnut oil to add a slippery touch to reduce the pull of the stand oil without over turping, a touch or lead (now all dried up in the bottle, sigh) and that dollop of spike, which is made from lavendar. It smells incredible, however I always keep everything capped, and only use a couple of small mixing knife fulls as needed for my paint as I'm mixing. Smells like home. Smells like good work accomplished. Smells like joy and enthusiasm. Smells like resistance has left the building.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

And When Almost Everything Is Gone?

I lost a whole week. I don't know exactly where it went. All of last week is a frustrating blur. Except Friday, that was hellish enough it made a lasting impression. Small hell internally in my body's anxious efforts to cope with stress chemicals in lots of little surges resulting from my job, but nothing like the big HELL I saw later unfolding online in videos coming in from all over Japan showing the earthquake as it happened, and more just heartbreaking video of the tsunami's destruction. To see how the people in the hard hit northern towns had their entire world overpowered and overrun by earthquake and then an icy cold and relentless tsunami to the point where little is left that is recognizable makes me feel ill. That's not bad enough, they have to have imminent reactor failure to contend with. The west coast of the US and Canada will get to share some of their misery and fear if it goes, the resulting cloud will visit us on it's way to dispersing around the world. Japan's economy will take a huge hit, which will immediately hit the world's economy, and if we ever thought there was a time when we weren't all one in this world, this should make it clear.

Actually I don't know what I did with the last three months, March is almost halfway over. I have started a nice sized painting but even having an accidentally free week (this last week that just slid out of my grasp) to work on it and doing only a few hours on one day was extremely frustrating. But I can't even imagine how horrified I would be to see my whole tiny row house get washed away, and not just mine but the whole street, no neighborhood, no city of houses and businesses, and to just be supremely grateful if my family and friends and neighbors all made it through. Assuming I even survived. I am chilled to think that not only entire towns but also whole trains are missing and no one knows where they are. And not to lessen the heartache of that thought in any way, but you know what happened to all of the pets. Some of the older people who made it through, that might have been all the comfort they had.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Feeling Like A Blue Christmas? (and it's not even Thanksgiving?)

Here's one of the best Christmas lights houses set to music I've seen since "Wizards of Winter" waay back. Guaranteed to lift the spirits. There's a page full here. If you have good broadband try the Vimeo versions,

I know there are blessings everywhere in our lives, sometimes we just need to take the time to look. Believe me I look a LOT, I practice gratitude all day long, but I was feeling a little blue because it's that time of year and I have so little family that isn't toxic, and the ones that are healthy are so far away I might as well be alone. But I still have so much I am thankful for. I usually start with just waking up again in the morning!

Hang in there! There really is a god and she loves you. The signs are everywhere. Don't let the devil steal your joy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Got Uke?

Pohaku image borrowed from SuzukHammer who got it I dunno where, thx!

K, I have a cure for what ails me to share just FWIW to you, and YMMV. Do I spend too much time in forums? Of course I do! I have bad blood and and wonky ass genes and addiction runs rampant in my famil(ies) and has caused much shenpa for all involved, except my generally oblivious other half, (who after four years of me blogging sporadically and even setting him up with his own a couple years ago which he finally has been using to battle evil in the world of form), said to me yesterday "YOU have a blog?". Well yes I do and this is it.

He also noted as he finally started reading it because I said he should because he might learn something about our relationship, that in the beginning I was calling him my "buddy" and my "better half". He wanted to know if I meant it. I told him yes at the time, but he is really both and neither. He has wrought great grief in my life over my strenuous objections and I have thrown up my hands because even God throws up his hands at the actions of fools. (That's a famous quote I am not going to bother to look up for you. Google is your friend and I would not deprive you of the joy of all the related links that will of course pop up and pull you even farther off course than this post is sailing now). But my bud has also been the one who was there for me (mostly because he was the last one standing because he is partly the reason my mother disowned me and the rest of that side of the family and friends followed because she's the boss and she lied and that is what people with no recovery do. My crime was trying too hard to please her and I don't do that anymore because it almost killed me).

So part of my mother's objection to me was that I was happy while she wasn't, therefore she could only be happy if I was miserable. I'm the codependent one so I used to be happy if the other person was happy first. So that was crazy making. My hair fell out, I got hives and migraines, I started having nightmares, my thyroid became toast, and the extra cortisol from all the stress packed 20 extra pounds on. Now I am so burned out even after a most two years I have compassion fatigue and my favorite songs are "People Are Crazy" and "My Give A Damn's Busted". Now if people aren't happy, it's just not my job to fix it. AND they can keep their crap on their own side of the street. I know a lot of people in similar positions and they feel the same way, and they are also moving on with their lives and their lives are much better for it.

One of the things that has really helped me is Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings and a little gift from God AKA The Mighty Uke. I am borrowing the title from the film because it's true. A ukulele has the power to heal. Go to YouTube and check out WS64, here and here, and of course Jake Shimabukuro, and others. It's a wonderful blues chaser, even when it's the blues being played.

Here's a neat little chunk strum posted by byjimini in a uke forum.

Tell me that all doesn't take a lot of the "Ow" out.

Now go get your own.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


You'll have to click, can't be bothered making it work in the post.

Apparently I am actually not having a really great year, being far far far from being a decent example of humanity. I am living more like an average every day delusional narcissistic moron, like someone on a reality tv program for 20 year olds.

I figure it's either menopause or job stress. I can't really talk about my job but I am looking for a better one. I like my boss but work just gets intense and I really just want a quiet cubicle somewhere where I can do my job without being interrupted or stalled, then just go home. Benefits and something creative would be nice, but I'm kind of done with dreaming & hoping. It is what it is and that's all it is, hope is a cruel illusion that leads to being stuck again in samsara.

I added two more ukes to the herd since my last post, so the year isn't total suckage. My arthritis is worse though, which makes playing not really doable some weeks. Note I use the term "playing" loosely. I think I'm going to add some uke blogs to the blog roll there.

Art is something I'm making more room for, like an animal pulling fur or feathers from it's own body or rolling shit into balls to make a place for the babies. Getting the layer of dust off of the paint tubes will make me feel a lot better. It's like keeping one's desk clean, if I can't keep the creative space clean my creative thoughts are dusty and unclear.

Ok so this is a crappy post and some of my fellow bloggers seem to be going through a similar dearth of posts because of unexpected twists and turns on the highway or rough roads of life, so I hope to see you all back on the autobahn cruisin along at a good clip next year, and hope I'm still here too and can kiss bumpers and draft along in your slipstreams!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Practice Helps

I had a laid back Christmas with just a couple friends and the little bit of family I have left. Most of my family is dead or might as well be. It's the cycle of life. For me many of the endings have come in December or January, so it's not a season I celebrate anymore. But I do like an excuse to have a simple dinner with people I love.

I had planned to use my oven which was fine the last time I used it a few weeks ago. I turned it on to preheat while a friend and I were preparing veggies for roasting. On some subconscious level I realized I wasn't hearing the pops of the warming metal as the oven heated, nor was there any sound or smell of ignition. There was also no gas smell so that was good. My oven was stone cold and I had stuff ready to go in. I got a lighter and flashlight and looked for where the pilot should be, tried lighting it, no luck. Got a man in to look at it, no luck. Ok. Stovetop was fine, and my friend set about having to dice the potatoes smaller while I did the garlic and onions. Part of me was remembering a Christmas past where my mother's stove had pulled the same stunt. A little universal humor at work, and it was kind of funny. Except that I also wondered if my mother had put a curse on me, since she was always the vengeful sort. I dismissed it until I went to microwave some butter for garlic toast, and the microwave was also on the fritz! Ok, pull out a small sauce pan. Dinner was fine, a little late but it was extremely informal and so what, it all tasted great, ribeyes and home fries and grilled asparagus and mushrooms with garlic toast, and even experimentally roasted garlic off the grill.

After dinner we all watched the Poodle open presents, which was hilarious, because he knew exactly how to open his gifts with enthusiasm and help with a few other people's wrapping paper. I wanted to get the camera but didn't want to miss the joy of watching a little "kid" opening presents at Christmas. It's really not as silly as it sounds.

So at evening's end my friend commented on how well I handled the appliance outage, just rolling with it and not even getting upset. I was a bit puzzled because all I could think was what good would it have done me to get upset about it? Then I realized how easily something like this would have upset me in the past, and saw that my practice has really helped change my attitude about a lot of things, and how I have awareness that I can choose to handle things differently. It doesn't mean I don't still have to practice my dharma teachings and my recovery until I die (and maybe after), but it's nice to see it working in real life situations. I'm a little bummed about the microwave, it was $100 and only lasted nine months, which is one of the things so frustrating about everything being built in China these days, the quality is appalling. But there's nothing I can do about that either.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Be Careful What You Ask For

because the universe has a perverse sense of humor!

I had been mourning the lack of bees and expressing how tough it was going to be if our crops had to be hand pollinated. We are incredibly dependent on bees.

When I was first trying to get back into painting after a long time away I painted that little bee. So in my general lament over the loss of bees while having to hand pollinate my zucchini I think I may have unintentionally manifested bees in abundance.

I'm very glad I had just let my pup back into the house one early Friday afternoon, because about a minute later I heard the strangest sound, and had to get back up from my work to investigate. It didn't quite sound like an engine, a mower, or a power tool, but had some aspect of all of those, though it was a buzzy whine I hadn't heard before. I looked out the back door and moving into the center of my patio was a small whirlwind full of tiny dark objects. It took a few seconds for those objects to register as BEES! LOTS of bees! All I could think was "Oh holy crap, please keep going!" Well apparently that's not what bees do. These guys started peeling off the tornado and landing on my stack of moving boxes which we had intended to donate. Then they started disappearing. They were crawling into one of the boxes! I spent the rest of the day learning all about bees.

This is the time of year that hives split up. The swarms are a set of workers protecting a queen who has decided due to the birth of a younger queen to move along. The swarm will alight and rest when it is tired as it is searching. It may land in a tree and stay for a few days while scouts search for a good area near a food source to build the next hive. There had been bees in a tree a few streets down and over where we walk. I don't know if it was this hive or another. It didn't matter, I didn't want them! I had wanted more bees, true, but this was ridiculous. I had a swarm living next to my back gate, and six feet away from where we like to sit at night, and right in front of my motorcycle! How would I let my dog out? How would I get my bike out? How would I get into my garage? It was all about me.

So I spoke to a lot of bee people in between Googling bees. I was able to get from a quote of $200.00 eventually to free from the city to remove them. The city wanted to wait a week or so though. The blessing was that these weren't Africanized bees; supposedly we do have them in Southern California but most of the bee people I spoke to said no we really didn't in L.A., that they were just our usual honeybees. These were actually very non aggressive bees, especially since they did not yet have a hive to protect, so they were still vagabonds. They may have been resting or they may have had scouts come tell them all about the really cool boxes next to the zucchini and tomato plants, plus our lemons were in full flower, so it was a great location, c'mon, follow us! Anyway, they settled. I didn't want to be deprived of my patio etc. for a week or so while they possibly got completely entrenched, so I used a long rake and knocked all the boxes down one or two at a time, carefully retreating as deemed necessary until I could pull their box free and open it up. I was hoping they would get the hint that it was no longer a great place to park. I also found out they go to sleep at night. This is what they looked like later when they were sleeping.

If you click on the pic you can just get an idea of what a cantaloupe size ball of bees looks like in a book/record box. Aren't they just adorable? They were hanging from the inside "ceiling" of the box, and they were making a soft rustling vibration sound. They were also chewing on the box; they'd been chewing on it all day, and I think they were getting into adding wax to it before they went to sleep. I was actually getting pretty fond of them, but eventually they were encouraged to move on. I wished them well.

Now about the car I asked for. I got two, a month apart. One has a failing clutch but great cold air and a super CD sound system and drives like a rocket. The other has a crappy radio and a leaky manifold and a bad tire but it can haul a truckload of stuff, and the air works, so it's great for me because I have to move big things sometimes. Plus it was mine once before, so we have an understanding, this car and me. He "waves" hello at me with his wipers.

What I should have made clear when I asked for a car was one great car with everything working properly would be sufficient. Because I wasn't super happy with the first but was very grateful for wheels, I got a much better one but it needs a bit of work. But now I'm stuck with the first one too. But I'm still exceedingly grateful for the abundance!

Now I'm asking for financial gain from painting again. I'm doing my best to be careful with that request, that it be answered in the best possible way. There will be some work posted shortly, so check back every now and then. Then it will be more of "still painting", but even if it's daily I'm not committing myself to that movement. At this point with 3 PT jobs and looking for another, once a week is good. See you next time.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Why Does Google Hate Me?

Just kidding, I ADORE GOOGLE! I can hardly remember how we even managed B.G., before Google. But I'm using it as an example of how humans tend to take things personally from the perspective of the ego self. I love to read a few specific blogs everyday, you can find them in my blogroll. But it seems like I have to do word verification twice, at the minimum, to get Blogger to accept a comment. Then when I want to follow a blog, half the time it tells me that I don't have an account or that my pw is incorrect. I'm sure it's not my typing! But just that little inconvenience can stir up a tiny feeling of exclusion, because it tickles my ego in its "I'm Not Worthy" spot.

I'm just posting today because I see that I have missed June, uh, July entirely, and don't want to do that two months in a row. I'm all wrapped up in manifesting, which is going extremely well, and I wanted to stop by and tell all three of you that the key to manifesting is having tremendous gratitude for everything you already HAVE. Even the hard stuff, the lessons, the grief. That practice of gratitude opens one's heart and the Universe then instantly replys "Oh! You're ready for more gratitude!" because it tends to give you more of what you focus on. There's a saying "What you resist, persists.", which is also true, it's just manifesting from a negative perspective. A positive perspective and belief also brings more of the same, which translates as abundance.

I am not impressed with "The Secret" because it is a badly rehashed, dumbed down version of the laws of manifesting. Manifesting is not about getting parking spaces and stuff. It is about filling one's life with grace and peace. Stuff is just the world of form, while peace of mind and grace are what make life worth living. I'm currently manifesting a good job, and it takes energy, positive energy. I'm confident it will show up when it is supposed to, the accoutrements required are already coming together. In the meantime I'm holding those good thoughts, and saying thank you a LOT.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Flowers For Algernon and Charly

I'm fascinated by craigslist, and find the most amazing things, it's a slice of the society we live in, cross sectioned by material goods categories, relationship want ads, services, and nostalgia. (And ukes, I got 3 of them off cl!).

But first let me slip off on a tangent. When I was in high school I read a book titled "Flowers For Algernon" by Daniel Keyes, it is truly a classic exploration of the concept of self and the effect of intellect on that self awareness. When I read it I didn't realize that it was adapted from the author's original short novella which won a Hugo Award. The novel won a Nebula award. The book was adapted into a movie with the wonderful Cliff Robertson in the title role as Charly, the character the novel tracks through his experience as a janitor with an I.Q. of 68 through his intellectual growth via an experimental brain procedure. Later it was a stage play with Michael Crawford, who went on to do Barnum and then Phantom of the Opera and later EFX in Las Vegas. Crawford broke his arm doing a stunt in Flowers For Algernon. (Crawford used to own one of my bronzes, I used to own one of his jackets. Long story.)

Here's a quote from the book from the Amazon review:

Following his doctor's instructions, engaging simpleton Charlie Gordon tells his own story in semi-literate "progris riports." He dimly wants to better himself, but with an IQ of 68 can't even beat the laboratory mouse Algernon at maze-solving:

I dint feel bad because I watched Algernon and I lernd how to finish the amaze even if it takes me along time.

I dint know mice were so smart.

From this excerpt at the beginning of the experiment, Charly's I.Q. grows to genius level and far beyond; to where he is, upon finding himself at the other end of the intelligence scale, again isolated from his fellows by the gap in ability to understand, except now the lack is that of the scientists. Then Algernon starts to lose his brilliance, which does not bode well for Charly.

So point being, Flowers For Algernon is a classic, and without completely revealing the ending of that story I wanted to share the joy I felt when whilst browsing through craigslist looking for furniture for my new patio, I found that Charly is alive and well in L.A. County. Here's the ad vebatim:

I cut up a big tree in my backyark ,use it to built a picknic table, to sit on them around a bomb fire,make a hole in the midle and use it as a pot for a flower, you can get as much as you want for free! i can help you load up your truck, call for more info. The tree is located in the city of (note: I edited the location for privacy).

Oh Charly, thank YOU for taking me back to that wonderful, heartbreaking and yet uplifting story about a simple man who wanted to be the best he could be. You seem to be a hard worker, generous of spirit, and kind. You are a gem. Thanks for making me smile. God bless you!

Monday, January 19, 2009

UAS Itch and Happy New Year!

I used to be a collector, it was part of the antiques and collectible dealer acquisition mindset. I've put that mostly behind me, thanks to some hard life lessons taught me by the thieves and nutcases I've crossed paths with over many years. I learned that for as many decent and kind and ethical people there are in this world, there are also many who are users and losers, and some who prey on people as a matter of course. They take as much as they can, on whatever pretext they can get unsuspecting and trusting people to swallow. Then they blame the victim and run off to find the next target, leaving a swath of destruction in their wake. I found while researching this and hearing other people's stories that this is really more common than the average person would ever suspect. I've read some excellent literature about psychopaths, and now I finally understand something of how they work. They have no conscience and no soul. It explains a lot of behavior I never understood before in several people I had the misfortune to know and to trust, and my new knowledge makes me believe there is a welcome place for eugenics in human society expressly for weeding out vicious criminal behavior. I recently read a novel about an alternate universe in a book titles "Hominids" by Robert J. Sawyer in which an advanced Neanderthal society neutered proven criminals as well as some of their relatives, and thus reduced the incidence of aggression over generations within the species genetically. In times of tribalism in our world this was also done to some extent; people who exhibited this kind of defect were taken along on a hunting expedition, and the hunting party made sure that individual never came back.

Buddhism will say that everything is dharma and karma, and shit happens, that life is basically suffering (and it teaches the tools for minimizing suffering, and those tools are the Eightfold Path). One of the most important precepts is the injunction against taking life. But it also says that sometimes to save someone, say a murderer, from the effects of bad karma that person would be taking on by killing a group of people on purpose, another person making the choice to kill that potential murderer to save the lives of those he would kill is actually ok, because it saves that person from accumulating the resulting tremendously bad karma, which would take multiple lifetimes to burn. So the hunting party was doing a good thing for everyone involved. It was weeding the garden.

So I digress as usual, but over the years of reluctantly relinquishing things, along with ego, I learned how deeply that acquisition comes from ego, which made de-acquisitioning easier and easier. I learned way back I'm not my stuff. But it took a lot longer to realize I'm also not what I do for a living. Other people aren't their stuff either, or what they do. So now I'm amazed now at how many people think they are, and define themselves by who they know, what they do, what they have, what they wear, where they eat, and what kind of car they drive. It's a tribalism defined by ego, and it's enlightening and terrifying at the same time. It's what lets kids kill other kids for their shoes. Or let the doctor who tried to kill two cyclists with his car because they were on "his" road somehow think he had that right. We are not what we have, what we do, how we look. What we really are is how we conduct ourselves within the context of our life day to day over its full course, and how much we are able to have compassion and gratitude, and what we give back.

People who are trying to "find out who they really are" don't quite understand this. They are searching for the "real self" within the context of the false self of EGO. Christianity explains this in the verse about how it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a wealthy man to enter heaven. It doesn't mean he doesn't go to God in the end, it means that his life in the phyisical world is ruled by his concern for his wealth, which is often a sort of Hell. I know a rich man for whom all he owns is not enough, he constantly lusts after more, and he makes his living ripping off estates. He actually had to track me to my door on Christmas eve a couple years ago to demand from me funds from a small account that was mine after the joint account holder died. It was black and white, funds automatically become the property of the other account holder. But this guy got out of his big new Mercedes and calmly asked me if I really needed the money that badly (my own money) that I would refuse to hand it over to him, because the other account holder was his relative. This man carries a $25K diamond and a rare $10K coin in his wallet for emergency funds when traveling. Me, I carry a credit card... but he's insane with the disease of acquisition. He's also short, so maybe he's compensating. Point being, he can't be satisfied with what he has, and heaven (or happiness, peace of mind, gratitude and humility) eludes him.

Stephen Hawking
is one of my heroes. He doesn't look like much of a hero type; his cruel disease has wrenched his body into an ethereal and spare shell of the man he was in his youth, and according to medical science he shouldn't even have been alive for the last 25 years, and yet he has the world's most amazing and brilliant scientific mind and by his own and God's grace is still alive today. Some asked him something to the effect of did his disability ever disillusion him, and his reply was essentially "What more could I ask for?". To me he is a perfect example of a Bodhisattva, a being who had attained enlightenment, but who chose to reincarnate out of compassion for the beings still stuck in worldly suffering, and to teach us how to become free. I think he lives on gratitude, and with an amazing amount of courage and heart. He took what the universe gave him and soared. So when I look for role model for how to live my life, I look to human beings like Stephen Hawking. Knowing I can't come close but trying anyway.

So what does psychopathy and quantum physics have to do with the ukulele? Not much, but ukes are certainly an antidote to despair caused by the human condition and man's inhumanity to man; and like atomic particles ukuleles tiny size belies their power!

So back to acquisition, which is where ego comes into play; how many ukes is enough? One, really. But there is a so called disease know colloquially as Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome, and for most sufferers a cure is not actually desired and they are not actually suffering. In spite of my continuing de-acquisition phase I fell under the spell of this little instrument and have now ended up with one of each size; soprano, concert, tenor and baritone. Well, almost, I don't have a sopranino but that may be going too far. And the bari lives with my Mom. There are also hybrids; sopranos with concert necks, concerts with tenor necks, and a whole subset made from antique cigar boxes that sound amazing, plus maybe others I don't know about yet. But no matter the size, what a kick in the pants they are! You want something that will put a smile on your face, get a ukulele! Two strings less than a guitar, one for each finger and the thumb free to play bass or even pick out notes. Go to YouTube and listen to some ukers play everything from George Formby (not my cup 'o' tea and what actually kept me from the instrument for years) to Led Zeppelin as played by Jake Shimabukuro. The Beatles rock on uke, and did you know that three of them played it, most notably George who took it very seriously and John, who played his mom's uke when he was a teen? George's music really sings on the ukulele in competent hands.
Clapton is a joy too. It's amazing!

I used to be really frustrated with guitar until I picked up a classical, even then I never got beyond a few malaguenas and practicing arpeggios and smooth chord changes on all my different six strings. And I could read the treble clef music. That's just very basic noodling. Then I broke my right hand over ten years ago when a horse stepped on it, and my left ring finger when I bailed off my own horse nine years ago. I eventually ended up selling the guitars one by one and figured my days of noodling with a stringed instrument were over. I tried a digeridoo for awhile, but they leave me breathless. ;) Drums are fun but I had to put them in storage. Then I found out my Mom had a baritone ukulele and it was a Martin! Score! It was like a four string tenor guitar, and it made me realize how much I'd missed them. So I borrowed it and it was a joyous thing, but I couldn't find much music for baritone, and they really sound more guitar-ish. But it led me to standard or soprano ukes so I could try my hand at the traditional music and tuning, and I got a sweet little vintage mahogany piece of my own off of eBay, and it rings like a bell! And I began discovering all the uke resources online. But the soprano is tough on my stiff fingers because the fret spacing is so tight. I soon found out that many of the top players are using tenors, so I manifested a sweet Pono solid koa tenor, one of the last of the Hawaiian koas made by Pono which is a branch of the exellent Ko'olau company of Hawaii. I love it, it's very mellow since I restrung it with Worth Browns. But by then I had discovered the low versus high g debate, and I put low Gs on the Pono, which left me "needing" a traditional high g tuned instrument that was larger than my soprano. I decided a concert would fill that spot nicely, and I also had a hankering for a cigar box. See how the disease progresses, how innocuously it involves ego in presenting justification? There is actually a valid reason for having two different instruments with the two main different tunings, but one could carry that into several different high and low g tunings as well as take that justification and add in variables of size and maker and tone wood and on and on. But I have manifested the concert size in the form of a cigar box (how cool is that, a twofer!) and am well satisfied with having a traveling uke in that one, a traditional in the soprano which is too sweet to re-sell, and the tenor which stays home because it is too nice to travel and koa cracks easily. It came back from an extended stay in Palm Springs with two fine and harmless finish cracks in the back, even with a humidifier, so I decided to let it stay at the beach. I think the cigar box (a Po Mahina made from a 50 year old cedar cigar box) should be tougher. So I tell myself I'm done with the three that replaced my last three guitars in more compact form (everything going around coming back again), but there is this awesome cigar box tenor I just found... hmm. (This isn't it, but they sound similar, and wow Tom does nice work!).

I have to say that there is something clean and soothing and honest about the little uke. I like clean and honest, it feels to me like it is the only way to live a life of inner peace even as the world rages all around me. So yes, I feel I'm feeding my ego and as I'm fully aware of that, I have made an "informed" choice. Which means that I am consciously enjoying and playing with the world of form. And it's ok to live in and enjoy what Buddhism calls the world of form (others call it "reality", which is always subjective); the trick is to keep one's ego out of it and embrace humility, and that is exactly why I practice. It grounds my perspective and it brings me peace. My new year's resolution is to remember that life is all about gratitude, humility and practice. And, well, to not scratch the itch...

Happy New Year, and may it bring you much joy and much gratitude, and remember to practice!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Do What You Need To Do

"Junk Fence" photo borrowed from Elite Feet

“Setting healthy boundaries”, what the heck does that mean?!

Most of us understand that old saying “Good fences make good neighbors”. It refers to setting a physical boundary around one’s property. It’s something that is generally agreed upon by both neighbors as a binding or legal division, it keeps pets and often plants and maybe offspring safely contained, and in the old days people often visited over the back fence. Healthy personal boundaries refer to how well we protect our body, mind and spirit. In this context it’s something like defining property limits in that it shows others “this is where I begin and end, and outside that is your stuff”; “stuff” being emotions, day to day problems, attitudes, opinions, ethics, and personality issues. People can violate physical as well as many psychological boundaries. Our job as emotionally healthy people is to set up a “fence” that consists of the limits we impose on what is acceptable to us emotionally and physically, that help define us, and that grant what kind of access is okay, and who is allowed that access and when, while also protecting us from people who are the emotional and psychological equivalent of bullies and vandals and thieves, people who are boundary violators.

Think of it in terms of having healthy self respect (which might be a foreign concept to many). When children are taught the difference between “good touch” and “bad touch”, they are being taught healthy boundaries. Child molesters are an egregious example of boundary violators. If you work in a corporate office setting, you may have had a “class” covering what is considered sexual harassment, because a lot of people don’t have a clue, or are intentionally disregarding your right to your personal space. Emotional and psychological boundaries are harder to understand than physical boundaries, as they are more difficult to define succinctly. One clue is that when something “feels bad”, in that it makes us uneasy, angry, or feel ashamed; there is often a violated boundary involved. The key here to making a strong boundary is understanding that we are responsible for ourselves, which means owning all of our feelings and taking responsibility for our own attitudes. Simply put, nobody “makes us angry”, we do that to ourselves, we push our own buttons, it’s an “inside job”. It may be that the other person triggers our old wounds that we don’t even realize seethe in our subconscious, but they are still our wounds. It’s difficult to remember that feelings and thoughts are ephemeral and transitory, they come and they go, and the pain or pleasure they trigger is equally illusory. Our thought and feelings are not “Us”, but we think they are. What they are is our EGO, our false self, the self that feels it's entitled. The "real" self is in the quiet places between the thoughts and feelings. It's the part of us that feels connected to everything. The ego part is what makes us feel separate and isolated. This ego as illusion is a common concept in Buddhist thought. I like to think of it as our true self being more like the Christian concept of the soul, stainless and perfect.

We are habituated in the West however to identifying “self” as what we think and feel. But that's really just ego. When my mind is still and settled then, where am “I”? And that's scary in a way because our idea of self is based on habitual patterns of thoughts and feelings and our resultant behaviors. But if you can become aware of this than it's easier to understand how we are responsible for what we think and feel. Conversely other people’s thoughts and feelings are their responsibility. If someone says “YOU made angry, you made me feel sad, you ruined my day, my life”, guess what? Yep, those are still their feelings and thus their responsibility. If you did violate their boundaries you owe them amends, but they must own their feelings. A common Buddhist description of anger is that it is “the acid which destroys the vessel that contains it”. If I am stewing over something someone did that in my perception injured me, it isn’t affecting them, it’s raising my blood pressure and roiling acid in my stomach. They are probably eating chocolate cake while driving down the street in their new car while illegally talking on their cellphone, all of which they essentially stole from me (yes, I am visualizing a specific soulless cretin), but they aren’t feeling any pain! So when I take responsibility for my anger over letting someone toxic repeatedly violate my boundaries because even though they did not respect my “No”, no matter how loudly or how many times I said it, well, eventually I find that with practice and awareness, it becomes easier and easier to let that anger go. And I am healthier and happier for it. But it can be really hard work.

Having healthy boundaries doesn’t mean we don’t have compassion or empathize, but it does mean that we shouldn’t codependently wallow in someone else’s issues or psychodramatic angst. If you find other peoples emotions to be contagious, then you likely have weak or porous boundaries. There is a difference between having empathy with someone and getting sucked into their issues and sharing their misery vicariously, or letting them dump their crap in your lap. Healthy boundaries in the context of interrelationship mean being able to say “No” and stick to it or being able to remove oneself from the situation if your no isn’t an acceptable answer. I wish I had learned that a lot better a lot sooner.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Say What You Need To Say

Probably most people think of this as just a love song, unless they have seen "The Bucket List", and then it has a deeper and more poignant meaning. I can't help but read the Dharma into it as well, because it contains some of the basic teachings that resonate with me. We may have real "problems" in our lives, but how we deal with them is usually from our ego or feeling state, which is essentially most often with coping mechanisms we learned to help us survive our childhoods intact. So we think we're dealing but find we aren't doing very well, and we don't understand why things don't change, and why we aren't happy.

Some of us were lucky enough to have excellent models of caring and compassion, people who taught us well and kept us safe, while giving us tools to live a healthy, centered and productive life. Many of us were not. We were damaged to some degree or even to a point of barely being able to function by people who were in turn damaged by the people who raised them, back though generations in what is often referred to as a generational curse. But we can learn to resolve (re- solve) the damaged ways of relating and living that we learned as kids, by re-parenting ourselves and learning effective tools for dealing in a healthy and compassionate way with ourselves and the people and situations that form our lives now, in this moment, and from moment to moment. In practicing taking care of ourselves (and I don't mean in an egocentric, selfish and entitled way), we learn to heal ourselves down to our soul (which is pure and blameless and incorruptible). And from here we can relate outward with kindness and compassion towards others, and with healthy personal boundaries. It really is an inside job. It's that Inside Job part that is what is common to both Buddhism and 12 Step programs.

From either perspective, most of what we carry around in our heads is the past in the form of old patterns of thinking. We are constantly listening to the internalized abuser, fighting with "the shadows in your head". We learn to walk "like a one man army", bristling with aggression and weapons to defend ourselves so that we don't get hurt again. Our "problems" define us in drama and self pity and low or hyper inflated self esteem, or in isolation and walls of self protection. We build up a false "sense of honor" that entitles us to blame others, or on the flip side makes us feel we need to take responsibility for other people's actions (we are only responsible for our own feelings and actions, and that's what owning them means). We live out the "patterns in your head" of childhood over and over again, feeling neglected, ignored, punished, less than, unworthy. Or better than, entitled, superior and punitive. For those who feel less than, even if we said what we needed to say, we were discounted and invalidated, told that's not true or that we were liars. We were made to feel unimportant, and we learned that if we said what we needed to say, there would be unpleasant consequences.

With help we learn to put aside the "fear of giving in" because we find there is a wonderful freedom in finding our voices and saying what we "need to say", even if we start with ourselves, which may actually be the best way. We benefit from letting go of the need to control our world and the people in it, that's illusory anyway. Surrender done right ultimately brings peace and equanimity. We can start with being rigorously honest on the inside, and find that it's okay to be flawed, that letting go of personal fears makes us stronger to the point that we can look back and wonder why we were so afraid. Humans are social animals, and we are constantly expressing ourselves, even when sitting still in a chair. It makes sense that we should say what we need to say, even when our hands are shaking and our faith is broken, that is when we are most vulnerable and our hearts are wide open. That is when we are most receptive to having compassion for ourselves and others, that is when we are most connected to the Universe, and surprisingly, that is when that Universe hears us and pulls us up from the ashes to be reborn. Maybe not in the way we think we want, but in the way we actually need, we get everything we ask for.

And if it means telling someone you have a crush, or just letting someone know you love them, of course that works too. Let it be okay though if you don't hear the answer you wanted, because you had the strength to say what you needed to say, and being honest is really good practice for following the Dharma, and for being in a harmonious relationship with the world around you. And it's about saying what you need to say, not what you want to hear in return. That's a different song.

PS: The young man in the red Rockets shirt (BoyceAvenue) on the video links (after the video) has a lovely and sensitive cover of Say, and I think he has a better voice.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Meditation on Cleaning the House

Another post from MySpace. I'm too old and tired to start over at Facebook. :P

Meditation on Cleaning the House
Current mood: contemplative
Category: Life

Cleaning the house is my job because I'm good at it, and I can set my own hours of work, being multiply self employed. (My Apache Indian medicine man said we're self employed because we're basically unemployable.. ;D). That said, I have never exactly enjoyed it. I like the end results because I like a neat, clean house. I don't like dust, grime, and clutter. (That's actually wanting control. Wanting control is wanting "ground", and ground is something Buddhists understand as illusory. Wanting to have ground is ego clinging and attachment, and attachment is what leads to suffering!). I like everything in it's place (That's control too ;D). That's a good thing though for living in my current environment because my roommates all feel exactly the same way, though we are all obsessive about it in slightly different areas. So I honor the others by understanding their particular tweaks, and taking care of them. That meant spending about 20 minutes just cleaning the fucking toaster! But it looks pretty close to new now. So far it's like 4 hours just in the kitchen, and it's not even like you would have been unwilling to eat dinner here if you were in the kitchen checking things out while I was cooking last night. It looked great. (Tonight was leftovers and everyone for themselves.) The problem is to not take on the others' obsessions! I have to draw a healthy boundary there, my own obsessions (coffee) are enough to deal with, and I am working on dismantling them.

I never mind cleaning all the coffee machines, that's my gig. I hate cleaning the stove though. I'm also the main cook, because I'm good at that too. But the grease that builds up on the stove top and stuff above it is like industrial strength! What's up with that?! Is it the killer tacos?? 'Cause I clean it like 3-4 times every time I cook. It's not even like it's a nice appliance, just a cheap crappy condo stovetop/oven combo. Not the gorgeous 6 burner $15,000.00 professional kitchen appliance I would prefer, that might be worth such a serious cleaning. Might even be an enjoyable process, like the coffee machines. (Though I'm certainly very grateful to have the use of it!)
So I just plugged in my iPod, for which I'm also extremely grateful and count as a major blessing, and hit my "Inspirational" playlist, which kept me going with cleaning on and off all day until 2:30 a.m.. I think that's a personal record. That even includes laundry. I try to take the Buddhist perspective of maintaining a mindfulness of purpose and intent, but somehow I think the music is a cheat.

At least I have the resentment thing about it scaled waaaay down, so I think the mind training in awareness and staying in the moment (shamata or shinay meditation) is having quite the positive effect. And the house looks great. Of course, I realize that wanting and enjoying a clean house is the equivalent of wanting and enjoying having ground, when existence is really groundlessness. But it's a nice illusion, and I'm fully aware that it's an illusion, and that it's just ego enjoying illusion. And that ego is what keeps us stuck in samsara, or suffering. So, that's definitely some progress in understanding the Dharma. But then that's ego and illusion too! The third quality of threefold purity (regarding expectations of meditation) is "Give up all hope of fruition". Hmm.

Currently listening :
Everyday Driven
By Everyday Driven

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Dressage Freestyle, Original Horse Version

Dressage is the consummate expression of horse and rider becoming one. I think I've mentioned somewhere in this blog that I rode dressage as well as "stadium" jumpers and both are a perfect melding of two minds and bodies into one being. It's similar I think to the tremendous ties of loyalty between dogs and mankind (maybe more loyalty on the part of the dogs however).

When you stop to consider though that the horse is a prey animal, that anything on it's back is something to be fought instinctively I think it lends an even greater appreciation for how much horses have given up for people. Not only letting us on their backs and following our commands, but being taken from a natural life of roaming and grazing over 10-20 miles in a day to being cooped up in 12x12 stalls, of if lucky a stall with a run or of small pasture. We ask for and expect so much of them.

So in keeping with the dog "dressage" post below, I thought I'd share this video from the World

Equestrian Games Freestyle Dressage Final performance of Andreas Helgstrand on Blue Hors Matine.

I wish the quality of the video was better, but the quality of the horse's movement and expressiveness, and the oneness with the rider, the evidence of the tremendously deep bond between the two, is the epitome of the art form. It might make you cry with joy, or at least think "WoW".

Friday, April 11, 2008

Doggie FREEstyle!

From some of my previous posts it's probably obvious I'm an animal lover, and my greatest bonds have been with dogs and horses. I have a Poodle sitting on my lap right now as I type this, he is one of the greatest joys of my life, well, actually, the people in my life don't read this blog, so I will admit that he IS the greatest joy!

I used to ride dressage on my horses, and a friend sent me one of these videos, where the dog and owner are in a canine freestyle class, and are doing all the moves of freestyle dressage; half pass, piaffe and passage, canter pirouette, tempe changes (it looks like skipping), and Spanish Walk, plus a salute to the judges at the end. It's pretty amazing, and it made me cry to see on video an example of how the bond between canine and human can be so very deep. My dog and I watched several videos together, and I thought I'd post them here, since that bond is often my secondary blog subject. The video of Carolynn Scott and Rookie is one of my favorites, and to me it is pure joy.

Take a moment to pat your furry buddies if you have one.

Tina Humphrey and her Dressage Dog

Carolyn Scott and Rookie

Monday, March 17, 2008

I Bought Paint!

I have a nasty thing called "A Birthday" coming up. I don't like them at ALL! I enjoy still being "here", preferably 'here now", as in "in the moment", but I don't like the yearly reminder that I'm older. It seems to sit in judgement of me, as in "So what exactly have you accomplished in the year that just flew by since your last birthday?".
So I try to look at it as a "REbirthday", but it's difficult to stay in that mindset. I know that truly the voice of judgement in the back of my head is that of my inflexible and cowardly father and my psychotic stepmother, who never had anything nice to say about my dreams or accomplishments, either one. No matter what I did or what anyone else thought of it, what I got from either of them was at best "Yeah, but you can do better", and at worst a long mean spirited lecture on why I should not be wasting my time on what I loved best. Talk about a motivation killer! And that was just concerning art. I finally gave up on those people when I learned what toxic parents were.

The upside of birthdays is that I love everyone else's! Maybe it's a vicarious thing, I enjoy celebrating and choosing neat presents for those I love. My beloved's birthday is just before mine, and I have picked out something really cool, and it's also useful. It's a milestone birthday, so it's even more special.

The one thing I will do for my own birthday, even though I lay low on the actual day (because a lot of bad things have happened to me on that day and I have become leery), is that I will indulge myself with a few things I have wanted, usually paint or green coffee beans. Last year and this year it was oil paint! (It's not here yet, I binged last night, that's last year's birthday paint in the photo). I got a coupon in my email from Studio Products, so I bought some Ugly Dog Painter's Safety Soap, which I use on both my brushes and hands. It works very well. (I use a barrier cream on my hands before I start painting, because I'm sensitive to latex so can't wear the gloves, but if I get a smear of a toxic cadmium or a cobalt I go wash and reapply the cream). I also got a tube of their Transparent French Red Ochre, because I wanted to try their paint, but I have a limited budget. It's also a very versatile pigment, good for landscapes and for portraits both. Studio Products offers a hard to find selection of Old Masters traditional resins and oils and specialty mediums as well as paint. There is often some controversy swirling around the owner on various art forums, I believe mostly because he is a person of strong opinions, but the products and service are excellent, though the prices are high. Artists who have used the paint extensively have reported excellent quality and workability, and many swear by the flake white as being the only white they will use. I bought the red ochre because while I have some lovely Vasari red earths, I wanted to try Studio Products in comparison. So far my Vasari earths are some of the nicest I have ever used. Vasari Classic Artist's Oil Colors is currently having a SALE on their earth colors through the end of March, so go take a look. You won't be disappointed in any of their paint! They have a sale every month or so on a different color set. I believe last month was greens.

I also dropped a C note on a nice lot of "Special" Cadmiums from the Williamsburg site. The "Specials" are colors that don't quite exactly match the standard line, but are still the same excellent handmade paint. When they are listed at half price or less a tube, ask me if I care! Cads are, like other paint, generally modulated and not used straight from the tube anyway. Really well made cadmiums are expensive, and I consider them a necessary luxury. Other reds and yellows, while having their place on a palette, just will not have the clarity or tinting strength of a finely made cadmium! So they were a great find (I was looking for something else and just stumbled across the specials). In truth, I have a Williamsburg Camium Yellow Light that I have to rub up with some high quality cold pressed linseed oil because it is drying in the tube. I will retube it, it was at least $30. a year ago. A year is a long time for a handmade paint to sit, so it's not the fault of the maker. But it's not much bother to salvage it. (If you need tubes, I finally found some at Sinopia). So if you are an oil painter, and love rich and vibrant color, and are looking for quality paint, grab some now before they are gone, this is another paint you will not regret having in your paint box!

Sinopia (now combined with Kremer, another big name in specialty supplies for discriminating oil painters and which, like Sinopia, is oriented toward supplies for making your OWN oil paints) is where I dropped another $50. on the fancy Swedish Cold Pressed Linseed Oil
which I got for the Cad Y L above. I also picked up some clove oil, which is used to slow drying time when you need to leave oil sitting on a palette. I often think I'll get back to a project the next day and it doesn't happen. A drop added to a paint nut or just to the palette which is then covered will help to retard drying.

So now I have to go back to work so I can pay for this late night buying spree (always when I am the most vulnerable to the lure of buying on the 'net, all alone and under the cover of darkness..)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

If You Love Someone, Tell Them Now.

There's another star in the sky tonight. I lost one of my closest and dearest and most treasured of friends on the 6th. He was one of my most ardent supporters of my work, and was a great encouragement for me to continue. He was an older gentleman and was hospitalized for "wound care" for an injury caused to his leg three weeks before by a careless aide, and he died 10 hours later; unmonitored, unevaluated, and alone, in a hospital he'd never been to previously and should not have been sent to by people who did not have permission. He was being treated for other conditions, but there are so many questions as to how so many things were done wrong concerning his care, that I want to grab the collar of the "Dr." in charge and shake him and ask "Can you say "Malpractice"??"

I am bereft and sorry and crushed. But nothing we might do will change anything now. I watched the casket being lowered into the ground after the funeral, to make sure they were careful, to make it really real because I didn't get to truly say goodbye, though we talked 3 days before. I keep expecting a message on my cell phone, I keep thinking "Oh, I can stop by tomorrow", and there isn't and I can't. I've lost a lot of family and friends at this time of year, another reason I suppose I'm not big on the holidays, they are just something to tolerate and get through with as low a profile as possible.

So if you love someone let them know. Say the words. You'll mostly never know if it might be the last time.

Monday, December 3, 2007

A Decadent or a Decent December?

Yes, I am actually working on a painting for someone. I don't usually show anything in progress anymore, because most people just don't understand the process. So this is just to show the process and make a stab at explaining it. There are many different ways of working in oil paint. The fussiest way is with sketches and layers, which is what this is. I was taught layers a long time ago, and it's a good discipline, but I would like to take classes in alla prima (Italian for "at once") or direct painting, where the painting is done in one sitting with a wet in wet technique. I've played with it in smaller works and enjoy it quite a bit, I would just like to get more confident with my technique.
So to start I stretched the custom sized canvas (16x 24), put a gesso ground on it, sketched it in charcoal, put a light fixative over that after I wiped it down with a little English turpentine to get the dust off and lighten it up, then brushed and ragged a mixture of yellow ochre and raw sienna with a touch of a red earth for my middle value. I used paper towels and q-tips to rub out highlights, both the brightest and softer ones. There are no darker values in this yet. I like working this way because it takes the white of the canvas away, gives me an undertone to help me get my values correct, covers up a lot of the reference sketching, and gives me a feeling of some life in the subject. I'll post more photos as it progresses, for better or worse (every painting seems to go through an icky stage where it's not working, but it's mostly just in an awkward transition, like a teenager).

Now for my holiday rant: I am not a big fan of the holidays. The commercialized aspect is an abysmal shift from what used to be a holiday season in which to celebrate thankfulness and the spirtual, ineffable side of life, and then with the New year, renewal. I don't buy into the current version, it doesn't rev me up in any positive way, it just generally makes me feel pretty sad. How about you?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Never Stick Your Elbow In Cadmium Yellow!

First, even though it's your elbow, you'd be surprised how many places on your body it can actually reach!

Second, because although it is one of the most luscious yellows available in oils (my opinion, but a common one, if just for it's superb clarity and high tinting strength in mixing), it is TOXIC. Which is why one should always wear an over shirt or at least a painter's apron. You really don't want the cadmiums on your bare skin.

Third, it is a Grizzly bear to get out of fabric precisely because of it's tinting power and intensity.

I wasn't even using it very much at present in the portrait I'm working on, except for making small touches of various complementary and reflected greens, but it's very expensive to my budget, so I don't toss even a dab if it's still workable, I just move it to the new palette. It takes a long time to dry, so will often be viable when other colors left out longer than intended between painting sessions are dry all the way though.

Don't ask me how I got my elbow in the very small pile of yellow that was waaaay up in the upper right corner of my palette. I dragged the shirt sleeve through it at some point, then leaned my elbow on my thigh. By the time I noticed it on my jeans, I thought "Oh crap, where's the rest of it?!" All over my favorite painting shirt, which is over sized on me so a bit more prone to this type of studio accident, but I posted my love of this shirt at length in a previous post, so I won't go there.

I took it off, my jeans too, and used my brush cleaning solvent to remove as much as possible, then soaked it in Chlorox 2 and left it for overnight (I'll let you know if it works). That's the one advantage to having a studio space in a laundry room. That may also be part of the problem: my work space is so tight and small that there is not enough room to really manage a larger canvas, and this is not even big, only about 16" x 24". I used to favor 3 by 4 FEET. Those days are over, at least for the time being. As difficult as it is, as much as I was spoiled by "real" studio space over about 35 years, I bless my small area and I am glad to have it. As I downsize all the stuff and bother of my life in a quest for greater simplicity, less overall expense and more peace, thus ending up with less and less material "stuff", I find it's so much easier to be thankful for the smallest of things, which makes the bigger stuff truly awesome!

I went online tonight needing bigger brushes for this particular work, picked out about $80. worth, left it to go paint some more, spot happened, came back up to rework the order, then checked my credit card balance, and decided I couldn't afford it. BUT, I am really grateful I have a computer to go online with to even browse!

So, all two of you reading this, take a moment to count all of your blessings! :~D

Saturday, November 3, 2007


Yup, it's here already. Where did the rest of the year go? That's the problem with getting old, relative time moves faster! When we're 10, a year is one tenth of our entire life. At fifty, five years is one tenth. That's sixty months instead of twelve, but good gosh, I think the last five years feels to me pretty much like what a year felt like at age ten. It's rather horrifying to contemplate how fast the next twenty years could feel, presuming I have that future...

I don't have a finished oil painting to show, so here's some leaves off of my tree I snapped with my Canon and popped into PhotoShop to add a quick personal touch. Gotta get down in the dungeon and PAINT! Bye!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Power of Prayer

The puppy in my older posts below came from a breeder in Rimforest, next door to Lake Arrowhead, which is still under seige from a terrible wildfire. I have great concern for the breeder of this dog and their dogs. The area was under evacuation orders I believe yesterday. I also have friends in Arrowhead and Arrowbear, Malibu, Topanga Canyon, family in San Diego, Frazier Park, and in more of the affected fire areas. I know I don't get much in the way of readers of this blog, it's mostly for myself to see my work in a different format. The best comments are from bloggers who aren't in the arts, or who are in the arts but not blogging.. ;D
I am a firm believer in the power of prayer, not so much to get "stuff" but to move and shift the great and small currents of the universe to create best possible outcomes for the greater good or to open doors. If you read this and believe or not, please say prayers for the brave firefighters out there now with 3 days of exhausting work behind them, more ahead of them, and not enough equipment to do the job. Pray for all the people in SoCal who are now homeless, who may have lost everything, or who don't yet even know, and for the people displaced from the comforts of whatever home they may have to evacuation centers. Also please pray for the wildlife in these forests. I'm a Buddhist but my Christian roots have no conflict with that, and Buddhists pray as well. Look at it as a way to improve your conscious contact with God, while sending some positive energy to your fellow man. Photos are off the 'net and are top to bottom near Fallbrook (Photo: GETTY IMAGES/David McNew), another unID'd image, the Witch fire (Photo GETTY IMAGES/Sandy Huffaker), and an Arrowhead neighborhood (Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times).