Monday, December 30, 2013

The Ups and Downs of this next Phase

Retirement: Lots to read, sunshine on my back  

I think of this as my next career, All Art, All the Time, but really it is retirement in most people's sense of the word in this country at this time. I wonder if more than 1% of the next generation will have this choose time over money. 

Time is a funny thing, it can seem to expand and contract, depending on how engaged we are in what's going on. Today, with 2014 starting tomorrow at midnight, feels a bit like time outside of time...gray, quiet, cold at 48, but not windy, the grass is green and the leaves are down, that hushed period between Christmas and New Years...Thank goodness for this holiday break during the dark days of winter. A time for reflection and resolution. It's 3:51pm and the sun is already sinking behind the mountains to the south, its track across my sky low and attenuated. I haven't yet started the project I intended for today...but I've been side tracked, and am learning to be more forgiving of myself for my digressions, knowing that side trips can be fruitful.

My first "real" book, 2003

The last time I quit health care, in 2001, I traveled and taught, designed patterns, and led classes. Then I had to bow to the reality of wanting to retire with a roof over my head at some point in the future, and I went back to health care in 2004 up to December 3, 2013, my third and last time quitting my work for myself, the work I love.

The last two times I've tried to quit in times of long sunny days, but this time wasn't totally intended, and here I am in the depth of the dark season in the Northwest, working on what it is I'm going to do with the rest of my life. "All Art, All the Time" isn't quite sufficiently specific, especially since I find I can no longer work, "all the time." I used to travel all over the country to teach, and now I was thinking that I could stay home and enjoy where I am...but the Universe...or something in my own calling out that I'm not all THAT much ready to just sit and read.

Even in the Dark Days of Winter, when I could be hibernating, and even if I am a little bit afraid of the prospect of hitting the road and working with women and change again, the Universe seems to be calling to me to Come out, Come out...with invitations across the country...So I have been spending today way of figuring out what I want to do, looking up previous proposals, and considering, as my teabag fortune declaimed: "Let your heart guide you." Some things that are difficult, are still worth learn what I decide, please stay tuned to this and my other blog:

My 2014 Meyer lemon meringue pie

I've always said that New Year's Eve is an artificial construct, and I spend the time between Solstice and the earlier sunrise, around January 10, spreading out the celebration, giving myself treats...then exercising away the extra calories. Both pursuits are good for I found a longer, but not as steep way to walk home from the grocery store. I'm trying not to use my car if I don't have to and watched a fascinating PBS special on Faces with John Cleese, so I know how important it is for us to trade facial expressions with others on a regular basis.

Anyway, because Sunday still seems different from weekdays, I decided to make my pie yesterday and enjoy it for the week. Because I live alone, I don't have to follow anyone else's concepts of holiday propriety...but today and every day I do wish All of You, happiness, creativity, fulfillment, love, and work that satisfies you...even if it doesn't always come in the form that you think you would like.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Food, Family, always

Ferry pulling into Edmonds...Mountains are out in Sun

As someone said recently, It feels as if we've already had winter and are moving into Spring here in the NW...of course all that can change, but Christmas Day was sunny and the mountains were showing their snowy tops as my ferry pulled into Edmonds.

My beautiful niece, Serene

We are, indeed, a family of food appreciators and cooks. Serene is famous for her cakes and cookies, but this year added a savory: colorful red and green stuffed peppers. She is an engineer and likes to follow recipes, while her dad and I are more "artistic" about our cooking...probably why her cakes turn out so beautifully and mine do not.

David and Amal doing a selfie...Shannon and Brian in background

Salmon en croute being prepared on the right side of the counter, pepper stuffing, laptop with recipes.


Hugh made fruit cake this year

When I was a child, I use to love helping Mom make fruit cake, and helping myself liberally to the nuts and candied fruits. Hugh has taken over that task in recent years. We are a family who likes fruit cake, in spite of all the jokes. The cakes benefit from a liberal dose of alcohol. Next year is my turn to make plum pudding...a combination of Grandma Hastings', by way of her Stevenson heritage and some of the online recipes...I hope I wrote down what I did last time. I do have the pudding mold from the Leonard homestead. The recipe fills it twice. It's tough to find the right kind of suet...I may have ended up using Mexican lard last time.

Connie and Hugh, festive clothing

Doug and Amal, spiral cut ham. Thanks, David.  

Proud chef of a beautiful piece of salmon wrapped in puff pastry  

My plate, filled with delicious foods

Brian, being tempted by the sumptuous dessert table

David's friend, Shannon, from the Seattle Men's Chorus and the US Army joined us, and the young man certainly has a sweet tooth...sampling the lush display made him forget to call his grandmother...but she called and reminded him that All Families are Important on special days and Always. Brian loves sweets, too, but went on a sugar fast prior to Thanksgiving, enjoyed all the holidays thoroughly, and may renew his fast again today...or maybe time out for New Year's snacking. I'm making myself a lemon meraingue pie with Meyer Lemons for New Year's I need a vegetable side dish???

Serene's Bouse de Noel (excuse my French)

Serene's creation: a heady chocolate roll with chocolate cream cheese filling, meraingue mushrooms and fresh raspberries. (excuse my poor spelling--this is a traditional French cake in the shape of a Jule log). Thank you, Serene! Thayer, we missed you, but are sure you had a wide array of wonderful treats in Haifa.  Happy Solstice to All!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Reading my way through Retirement

Books lined up and ready to read...I LOVE Retirement

My last day of work in health care was a little over a week ago. I've quit health care three times now, and this is the last time. I am grateful to my parents for insisting that I learn a trade, but each time I've had to go back to health care from full time art feels like a horrible failure. 28 years of Arts and 20 years of health care later...with arts Always going on in the background, I've saved enough to live a simple life, the rest of my life as an artist...and thanks to health care I have a very nice, low-maintenance roof over my head and food in the cupboards...and I've met and heard stories from some wonderful, wonderful people along the way...and learned a lot about hands and more than I wanted to about Medicare...which could work as a model for Health Care for All, if we could just get rid of the Corporations...politics can't help creeping in here around the edges, even though I try not to be strident about it.

Kim's portrait 1

So I am enjoying a Banquet of Books...from the public library...following up on other books by authors I enjoy, reading the book about the hospital in New Orleans during the big flood, lots of graphic novels, books about writing, memoirs, photograph books, a book on international graffiti--Interesting how the styles change from country to country--and lately books that include recipes and food: THE LANGUAGE OF BAKLAVA by Diana Abu-Jaber, especially since my sister-in-law is Palestinian, and I had the opportunity to spend a month in Arab culture in Israel in the Eighties, and HALLELUJAH! THE WELCOME TABLE, by Maya Angelou. Friend and Family food is relatively simple to make, with onions and garlic showing up a lot.

Kim's Portrait, stage 2

My last and Lifetime career is as an artist...and I'm really enjoying working on projects that interest me, bringing what has always been in the background into the foreground again as my life's work. I enjoyed traveling and teaching around this country and Canada and doing craft fairs all over the Northeast...and I've never stopped teaching online once I figured that now I actually have time to make the art I enjoy doing to live...without having to make a living from doing it. And, wonderfully, sometimes I even get paid for this art, too.

Finished portrait of Kim...her second appearance in my Hot Flash Women Series

Making Art, Reading, Cooking, Being out in the Yard, Friends...A HAPPY RETIREMENT!

Thursday, December 05, 2013

The Hot Flash Women Keep Coming out of my Studio

The Hot Flash Women keep coming! D'Alice Pierson and Apollo #80. D'Alice was known as Doreen when she lived here and was in the original Read 'em and Eat book group. She has lived in Montana and several places back in California since then...She's a woman who knows what she wants and goes after it.

Now that I'm free to work in Art all the time, I can spend more time on each painting...but I think for me, doing a LOT of anything helps me to improve my techniques. However, I won't be able to afford LOTS of canvases now, so am working on using up my huge stockpile of materials. You'll see more paintings on paper now, smaller sculptures, Graphic Grannies, and who knows what else! Work Toward YOUR dream!!

Monday, December 02, 2013

Pursuing Passion...Seeing Patterns

I like to take close up pictures of interesting things. This was a dead, disintegrating bird in my yard. Today a live hummingbird looked in at me while I was working on the computer.

I am a book addict, always have been, but now I can really read on all sorts of tangents, and sketch and write as I go. The Port Angeles library has a great collection of graphic novels and I just brought home a book called THE WORLD ATLAS OF STREET ART AND GRAFFITI...which is just fascinating, in both images and writing, tying movements in public art to politics and sociology. Some of the most beautiful works of public art are from some of the most repressive countries. 

Copying images from the Graffiti book

After reading about graffiti and wondering why it is mostly men who do the BIG art, and drawing and writing about the images, I happened to look around and saw the world both inside and outside as a series of large graphic shapes...I often wonder if the small airplanes flying over my yard can see the shapes I've laid out in white stone on black gravel.

Patterns out my front windows, the ones I built and my railings

Patterns: window frames, railings, yard, fences

and on the northeast side, rocks, window frames, stones, fence

New colors of seaweed at Port Williams after high winds and high tide

I'll finish with another gray image...Port Williams, 11/30/13

Gray images for the Olympic Peninsula in late fall...I'm looking forward to celebrating the Solstice Soon! I would like to Be in Every Moment, and never want Time to pass more quickly than it already does...but I do feel more energetic on sunny days. I spent an hour or so in my yard today working in the sunny patches...picking up leaves and pine needles by hand and arranging my rocks. Also spent good studio and reading and drawing time, still eating Thanksgiving leftovers (see my FaceBook page for food pictures)...Life is GOOD!