Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pie in the Sky--electronic media brings friends

Ah the miracles of modern connectivity! When I posted on FaceBook that I'd made a rhubarb custard pie, and might have to eat the whole thing myself, I got instant volunteers to come and help me out. Beatriz and Diana come over this afternoon, after work and writing group to share.

Beatriz is making plans to move south to NM. David's already down there happily working at a new library. They'll be close to Mike and Katie, who left for AZ a year and a half ago.

I've lived in Port Angeles six years next Monday! and already I've lost good friends to moves south and east...no matter how much we want things
to stay the same, they don't...on the other hand,
connections with friends stretch across miles, and new ones show up.

There was a request for my recipe, originally from Betty Crocker's Pie and Pastry Book, given to me and my ex husband by his mother, Christmas 1968. Neither of the two women who came over today know how to make pies...a tradition handed down from mothers...will it become a lost art? My rebellion against following recipes to the letter makes my baking a bit uneven. All measurements are approximate.

My pie crust is now: a cup of unbleached flour, 1/4 cup wheat germ, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon white sugar--mix well and cut in 1/3 C butter-flavored Crisco and 3 tablespoons real butter.
Use a 1/3 measuring cup and put in ice, water, and a tablespoon of cider vinegar. Mix most of this into the flour/shortening, and form into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least an hour before rolling it out. I roll part way, cut in quarters, stack up the quarters and roll again. I think my ex mother-in-law taught me this trick.

Mix 4-5 eggs, 1 2/3-2 cups sugar (dark brown and part maple syrup), 3 tablespoons half and half, 1/4 cup flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix the above with 4 cups rhubarb cut in 1/2 " slices.

Save the cut off parts of the pie crust to lay on top of the filled pie--9" or 10"

Bake 50-60 minutes at 400 degrees. I put my pizza stone on the bottom shelf of the oven while baking the pie to encourage the bottom crust cooking. I love this MUCH more than strawberry-rhubarb...the custard is a nice foil for the tangy rhubarb and the texture feels good in the mouth.

There are certain foods I associate with seasons, as well as holidays. In northern climates rhubarb is often the first edible plant to ripen, and we always had a rhubarb clump in the yard--this year I had to buy the rhubarb at $3 a pound...Yikes! This is the second pie of the season. Maybe I should plant some rhubarb.

I worked more on this painting this morning (love these Tuesdays off!) I fixed it some, but the mouth still isn't right...or the cheek. I'm less afraid of over-working now...practice, practice, practice!

I've been putting more work on my web site, adding some older and newer things that I thought you might like to see. The times when I've just kept plugging away at my art are the times when I've had the best results--check it out. I have difficulty with the rigidity of computer-speak...always distracted by a tangent, so you'll see some incomplete links, which I will fix. If there's no price, that means the piece has sold.

I listened to a whole book today. The library has these clever all-inclusive devices that one plugs a head phone into and just walks around with someone reading a book into my ears...Strange feeling for me, as I have not adopted ALL the modern technology yet. I've been reading a lot of books about brain chemistry and the mind...fascinating stuff!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Perservering and the Angel

Today's painting, still not quite done. From a photo of David and me at Shannon and Chris' wedding in Mexico...why is David so hard to "get"?

I was listening to Radio Lab this morning, about the different layers of brain and "self" ...how we make ourselves accomplish what we want to...or have so much trouble doing it. A quote from Elizabeth Gilbert (EAT, PRAY, LOVE) and Tom Waits about how the Angel of Creativity is more likely to visit the person who is chained to her/his desk/easel...or just continuing to work away on the idea at hand.

It is good to have a passion. I'm reading Po Bronson's WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY LIFE? I'm don't feel settled, even at 64...although these endless paintings, which I have stacked around my walls are still frustratingly fun.

This was last weekend's painting. I alternate between nudes from my old life drawings and portraits from photographs...different seeing.

I shared frustrations with Suzanne this morning. It's good to have another artist say, "yes, it's worth while to continue what you're doing." Such highs and lows...I imagine with all creative people. We have an almost goddess-like power to make something exist that never did before.

I just started another book today, COGNITIVE SURPLUS, tracing civilization and "free" time, which was first taken up with gin, then TV, and now the internet, which is so much more participatory and collaborative than passive consumption. Will the Forces for Good triumph???

For a wake up call, read DEADLY SPIN by Wendell Potter about how our attitudes are manipulated...does greed have a biological benefit?

Thanks for all the support for continuing my art exploration. I guess I do know what to do with my life: make art, improve health care delivery...two big jobs, but fascinating. I Love learning new things! I made myself another rhubarb custard pie today, and it's even better than the first one. Hi, Ashley


Saturday, June 04, 2011

Getting Old is Not for Sissies!

Self-portrait in SUN! 06/04/11

Helen Hays, in her seventies, made the statement above. It seems that the older I get, the more work it takes to sort of stay even. As I age (64 now), it's important to discover for myself any advantages of aging. I know all the obligations: daily exertion, stretching, good food, brain exercise--learning for the joy of it, giving--to others And myself--continuing to push, explore, and DANCE!

Here in the NW we have the season of Light, and the season of Darkness, when everyone stays home, and I try to immerse myself in creative projects.Today is June 4th, with light from 4am-11pm. I wrote this on Hollywood Beach. Everyone is outside: Farmer's Market, marathon, Hollywood Beach downtown, yard work, dogs and kids, soaking up the sun while it lasts. Some of the kids may learn to play, rather than just being passively entertained. Some were standing in the frigid Strait, with long branches of kelp over their shoulders, pretending to be were eagles.

My back yard, at almost 9pm, specializing in ground cover, lavender, red glass ornaments...I'm going to try some driftwood, painted in red/purple/turquoise for vertical interest.

My favorite Kokopelli real fish and chips, journalling in the sun. Alone with people all around downtown. Good Saturday!

The importance of the ever-present journal to the Creative Life: ideas, words, drawings. Danny Gregory has made a career of it. A journal that's small enough to take with you. (thank goodness cameras are small now, too, so all this and a book fit into my red bag. Ideas, words, drawings, names of books and movies: my idea stack is never depleted, and I'm constantly training my eye and hand.

Like exercise, eating right, and letting your friends and family know you love them, drawing can be a part of every day's routine. Then you'll KNOW that you are not only the effect of one bad day or stupid boss, but that you are bigger and more connected than all of that.

Last weekend I had the extreme luxury of four days off in a row, and finished my Sara painting, by doing very little to it...what a large part of ART is learning when to stop...and not letting one self compare to others' work too much.

Keep playing with the idea! I transferred the image to heavy watercolor paper and used collage and paint in the second one, utilizing images from my friend, Loel Annie Barr in the background.

Sara did body work on me before I moved West. I was agonizing about leaving comfort for the unknown, and she asked the key question: If you were on your death bed, would you regret not having done it? Thank you, Sara, and here I am.

This experiment spawned another painting/collage on watercolor paper (I'm too cheap to buy and store endless canvases, but do have a flat file in the garage for works on paper).

BECOMING MYSELF: I'm working on this life time project. Doing interesting side reading these days on brain function: how do we know who we are, and what is this creature that we construct and call by our name?

Find the things that are important to you and Do them! Don't worry about what the others are doing or thinking, and don't forget to DANCE!