Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Blue Ribbon Bragging Rights

The pergola is lovely, but mosquitoes are driving me out at night. I must be overly sensitive to them. Michael doesn’t seem nearly as uncomfortable as I do. I need suggestions for inexpensive mosquito deterrents. A friend swears by dryer sheets tucked in your clothes and around the patio. Seems strange, but I am going to try that one. If it works, I’ll report back.

I brought the blog up-to-date on our remodeling projects. Let me comment on artistic events in my life.

In April, the Houston Photographic Society’s special category for competition was “edibles.” This led me to a great idea for a photograph. I mentioned it to Michael, who said, sagely, “That’s a good idea. I have my own ideas. Why don’t you take the picture yourself?” So I did.
The photograph is a super close-up of a slice of lime and slice of lemon suspended in club soda in a goblet in front of a royal blue backdrop. The result knocked my socks off. And it also won me a first place ribbon at the HPS competition! My first blue ribbon I ever earned.

In June, Women in the Visual and Literary Arts had its annual print show and I decided to enter. The show’s theme was “Altered States.” I decided to use my award-winning photograph and have some fun altering it. I ordered a jigsaw puzzle made from my image, then used the pieces to “pour” the lemon-lime into a black and white photograph of the same image. It took some doing.

Jigsaw Puzzle Aside: When the jigsaw puzzle arrived from the Far East (for the low, low price of $15.95 or thereabouts, I had to laugh. I couldn’t put it together!! I am usually good at jigsaws, so it is quite ironic that my own image stymied me. I blame it partly on the image, with its solid center of green lime flesh and transparent bubbles, and partly on the simplicity of the puzzle, which did not have much variety to the pieces. For example, there were no pieces without nubs, nor were there any of the cock-eyed pieces typically in a jigsaw puzzle. I got down to 17 pieces that defied arrangement. Fortunately, Victoria came along and finished it for me.

I scoured the internet for images of pouring liquids so I could see what the splash pattern should be. When I had that in my mind, I sketched it and transferred the outline (lightly) to my black and white image. I took apart the jigsaw puzzle to conform to the sketch and superimposed it on the photograph. With the left over pieces, I made a soda bottle with a flow of liquid pouring from it into the photo below. Above all of this, I have the original picture. It is titled “Lemon Lime Too.”

The exhibit opened at the Museum of Printing History last Thursday night. I had a great time at the opening and I received many compliments on my artwork. That always makes an opening more fun.

I received a fair bit of good-humored teasing about “cross-fertilization” and abandoning my writing for art, but that isn’t really a serious threat. I am considering adding an artist section to my professional resume, though. After all, I have bragging rights to a blue ribbon!!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Back in the Blogosphere

My friend Cheryl gave me hell recently because my blog is so badly neglected. I deserved every bit of it. I have been neglectful. But I feel more animated about life in general these days, so I intend to get back in the saddle and write for the blogosphere once more.

After I returned from the Vermont Studio Center, I slipped into a kind of funk. Perhaps the intensity of the work I did there – I wrote over 40,000 words of prose – merely required a period of recuperation. I found it difficult to get back into family life, housework, writing, or socializing.

I began working my way out of that in April and shook it off completely by the end of May. I continue to make a lot of progress. Here are some of the events and activities that I should have been writing about instead.

The Closet Factory: In April, Michael and I decided to fulfill a long outstanding dream by having some built-ins installed in our home. Our living room, which is very large, has a funky fireplace wall that we have never liked. The fireplace is on the right side and the cable TV outlet is on the left side. That made the fireplace look decidedly off-balance and forced an odd orientation of our furniture. So we had the Closet Factory install a media center/display case/mantle on that wall. It looks fabulous.

The wall now extends about two feet farther out on each side, so that the fireplace looks more centered. There is a mantle over the fireplace, which sets off our paintings on that wall very nicely. The stereo components now all fit in a cupboard under the TV, eliminating a rolling TV cart we’ve had for almost 20 years. There are two cupboards on the left end, by the kitchen, topped with a two-shelf display case. This unit has the added benefit of completely hiding the freestanding cabinet by the backdoor and kitchen. (We planned it that way.) On the right side of the fireplace, a tall, open display case can be seen from both the living room and the office. It balances out the cupboards on the other end. Between the TV cabinet and the mantle, they installed a media drawer that pulls out and has vertical storage shelves for DVDs, CDs, and VHS tapes. It is so slick!! The mantle itself is simple, supported by three corbels. Everything is tied in together as one unit. It is lovely.

Also, I had my studio built out in the Cozy Corner. It is delightful. I have a desk, two drawers that open all the way out, two shelves that pull out, a bookshelf, vertical and horizontal cubbies, two large cupboards, and a two-drawer lateral file cabinet to the right of the desk. On the wall in front of my desk, there is a tack board covered in a lovely fabric with an abstract design in green, beige, rose, black, and off-white. It is light and airy looking. I also have a built-in desk lamp with touch controls. I am feeling very professional as I sit here and write.

The Pergola: At the end of May, Michael and I built ourselves a 12 X 15 foot pergola over the patio. Boy, did that take some work! It has six posts, lath running across the “ceiling” every six inches, and latticework panels on top to filter the sun. We are in the process of making planter boxes for the support posts and will plant vines in them to grow across the top of the pergola. The vines we bought are two grapes (green and red), a night-blooming jasmine, a regular jasmine, and a bougainvillea. I also bought a pretty hanging plant, a Mona Lavender, which has glossy, dark green leaves with a purple underbelly and long spikes of tiny purple flowers. I potted and hung up some variegated sedum, a hummingbird feeder I got for Mother’s Day from Alix and Adam, some wind chimes, and the bird (seed) feeder. Michael and I decided to give this pergola to ourselves for our wedding anniversary about 4 years ago, so we are very pleased that it turned out so well.

That’s enough for tonight. I will continue my reprise of the last few month’s events tomorrow.