Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Of Witches and Wizards

I just finished the final Harry Potter book.  I figured I'd better get to it since the last movie is out and I didn't want the ending of the series to be spoiled for me by someone chatting about it on the street.  I've had the books for a long time, but wanted to savor them.  Harry Potter is exactly the type of character I would have loved as a child.  He and his friends are regular people, except for that bit of magic that makes everything an adventure.  But the magic isn't so far-fetched that you can't hope that if you picked up the right wand-shaped object and said the right words, you too would find your magic talents.

As a youngster, I loved books about witches - the series by Ruth Chew were my favorites.  I used to catch reruns of Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie after school.  I tried wiggling my nose and blinking and even waving the flyswatter around as a wand.  None of it worked, but I couldn't help hoping that I just wasn't doing it right and one day!  I guess savoring the Harry Potter books was one way to continue that childhood hope!  

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cat in a Hot Brick House

Hey. Smiling Cat here. It's hot. My peeps don't have air conditioning.  Now most of the time, that's just fine.  There's usually a nice mountain breeze coming in the window.  The air's not super humid.  The cool chirpy air comes in at night.  The house cools off.  My peeps close the windows and the shades during the day and it stays cool.  It's fine.  That just doesn't happen though when it's 80 degrees at night and the air is so thick and damp that it frizzes my fur.  So I'm hot.  I'm just laying around, stretched out anywhere I can catch a breeze from the fan just wishing for some cooler air.  I've even tried laying in my cat grass to cool off.  Didn't really work, the dish was too small.  Maybe I'll go see if I can get in the fridge.  Stay cool!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tradition and Imagination

I love hand-made. I love to see people making things using traditional techniques. I love to see that tradition transform into modern ideas.  We just returned from Colonial Williamsburg where we watched the cabinet makers working on a bookshelf and a spinnet.  We watched the spinner and weaver turning a pile of sheep fluff into a blanket.  We watched the brick makers working the clay and molding it into bricks.  We watched the joiner cut notches into a timber that was part of the roof structure of a new building.  We watched the basket maker splitting oak to be woven into baskets.  There is a beauty in the natural wood and fibers that is certainly lost in today's particle board and nylon. 

We returned from the 18th century and spent the day in the 21st century yesterday at Heartwood, a new center showcasing Southwest Virginia food, music, crafts, and culture.  While many people are showcasing traditional crafts, they're doing it with a modern flare.  Wood workers made rocking chairs from cherry with whimsical curves and twists.  Clay pots feature bright glazes and unusual designs.  Wood carvers stretch the wood to its limit creating thin tail feathers on a whittled chicken.  Baskets include bright colors and new materials woven into them.  Ah, the beauty of hand-made married with a bit of imagination! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

First Bounty From the Garden

My plan for this post was to show you a photo of my yummy looking (and smelling) basil:

Followed by a photograph of my equally yummy looking and smelling pesto that I made with said basil.  Unfortunately, the pesto didn't turn out so well.  I seldom use kitchen aids and so haven't used what I thought was my food processor in a verrrryyy long time.  Turns out it's a food chopper not a food processor.  So pureeing basil and nuts was pretty much out of the question.  I tried the blender.  No dice.  I ended up with a semi-chewed up mess.  Which fortunately tasted good, but looked pretty revolting.  Glad I was making dinner for myself tonight. 

So, in lieu of the pesto photo, I give you a cherry tomato the size of a blueberry.  Spaghetti sauce season is a-coming...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Perfection Strikes

I try to keep my perfectionism at bay.  Usually that's pretty easy to do because I know nothing is really perfect and trying to make something perfect wastes time and energy and can be a real self-esteem killer.  But sometimes, my head knows that my work doesn't meet my standards and isn't ready for prime time.  The little voice will keep repeating, "You can do better."  When that happens, I can either throw it in a drawer or I can make it ready for prime time.  We've all had those occasions when there's no choice but to throw your work in a drawer (or the circular file) and just start over.

Fortunately, this afternoon, I had an opportunity to improve my work.  I made a print called "Corner Window" for the ARTspace Original Print Exchange.  I haven't entered a print exchange before, or any other exhibit for that matter, and so am a little anxious about getting it right.  I kept reading the "3/4" clear margin required around print area" line in the guidelines and looking at my print.  While the print is the right size, the "clear margin" had ink in it because the ridges left from carving out the white space had collected the ink when I rolled it out on the print.  So, after trimming all 10 prints to size and scrutinizing them as I did it, I decided I really had to clean up the edges and reprint.  I've just finished printing 10 more and am much happier with the results.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Feeding the Pig

I've spent most of my day trying to navigate the steps to formalize my business. I've been a tax preparer in the past so this stuff generally makes sense to me, but it's just plain headache inducing. Did I choose the right business type? Did I fill out the right forms? Did I get the right ID numbers? You want me to do what? Well, what the heck is that? The state prides itself on being "business friendly" and has a website to guide you through the process (for a fee), but I'm still left wondering if I did everything I was supposed to and what's next. Did I choose all the right taxes for my teensy weensy little business to feed the "business friendly" pig?