Thursday, January 30, 2014

Be True to You

This was the theme of week 4 at Life Book 2014. We were asked to pick three things we really like, that we are drawn to.

Well, that has to be the ocean for me. I just LOVE everything ocean - seashells, starfish, driftwood, lighthouses, waves, mermaids, seals and sea lions, whales... seagulls.

So this is what I created:

The colors in the background are teal, red oxide and raw sienna, three colors I like very much. However, I thought they were a little too powerful, so I used Titan Buff to tone it down a bit. Titan Buff is my first choice for toning something down, it works really well for me.

The seashells were stamped on tissue paper. I love how the tissue paper almost disappears when glued down. I love that effect. "Near the sea we forget to count the days" - now, isn't that true?

I'm linking to Paint Party Friday - my favorite party on Friday, and really, I am not a party girl. Except for this one!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Good-Bye Afton

Sorry for the bad quality of the pictures. These are the only photos I have of Afton.

This is how I will always remember her: standing in the door of her home, waiting for me to come up the stairs, cookie-ball in her mouth and her tail wagging like crazy.

Afton, my friend K's golden retriever. She was one of the sweetest and gentlest dogs I have ever known. She was also an incredible goofball. In just a matter of seconds she stole my heart and kept it forever. She did this big dance of joy whenever I came to her house, knowing that I was so easy to persuade to give her one of those dog cookies she loved so very much. She would sit right next to the jar, look at me as if she was starving and then take the cookie from my hand in the gentlest way possible. She had quickly figured out the pattern - there was a cookie when I had just come, one kind of in the middle of my stay and one right before I left (I think K had planned that in her daily diet on the days she expected me). She would lie next to me, sleeping and sometimes sighing in her dreams. She loved to be petted - of course. Sometimes she would lay her big head on my leg and "talk" to me with those grunts deep down in her throat.

Like every dog Afton loved to soak up the sun. And of course, one of her favorite things was to fill that orange ball with dog treats. She would bounce it through the house until that ball was empty and the contents had ended up in her belly. It was hilarious to watch her doing that.

She was not only a pet, but also a breeding dog for Canine Companions for Independence. She had several litters of sweet puppies until she could finally "retire". Then the funny girl she really was came out.

She had a happy life in a warm, loving family. Last Friday she died of cancer. Although she wasn't my dog, I feel very sad. I loved Afton and I will miss her.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Never Turn Your Back to the Ocean

On Martin Luther King Day we went to the ocean - the beautiful and wild Pacific Ocean. You know, we only live about an hour away from the ocean, but we go there way too seldom. But last Monday I told my family that I am going to the ocean and if they liked they could come with me.

They did.

It was a gorgeous day - warm and sunny. At the beach it was warmer than on some summer day - summer days at the ocean in this area can be quite chilly and foggy. We could run around in our sweaters, no need for hats or big jackets.

The ocean here is not a calm one. It is wild and completely unpredictable. On this Monday, the waves were extraordinary - huge and very very noisy. I love to watch these gigantic waves, how they slowly build up and then start to break and roll and finally crush towards the beach with loud thunder.

Such power!

We have two kinds of waves here - the "normal" ones and the sleeper waves which are far more dangerous because they seem to come out of nowhere and have so much power; they will easily knock over anyone who is in their path. The undercurrents are no less strong and pull you out in the ocean; you almost have no chance.

Many people have lost their lives here because they didn't take these waves seriously.

Children running at the edge of the water. People playing tag with the waves. Dog owners letting their dogs run through the water.

Signs are up everywhere, both in English and Spanish, warning people of the danger of these waves, of the ocean. The beaches are steep here and can easily trap you once you're in the water. So it's better to keep a safe distance from the water. It's still beautiful and relaxing to walk along the beach there, just keep away from the water.

And never, ever turn your back to the ocean!

(no, this is not my husband)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Warming Up a Winter Day

Winter in Northern California, at least near the coast, is not really cold. Sure, we do have chilly nights, some mornings are quite frosty, and evenings again are chilly. But this January is a really weird one, with daytime temperatures in the high 60's or low 70's. Today we went to the coast and we could walk around with just a sweater on. Usually, you wear layers at the coast.

So at least at the moment we don't have any reason to "warm up" a winter day.

But still... there is something about winter that makes me long for hot chocolate. It only happens in winter - the wish to heat up some milk, pour cocoa powder in and set a little hill of whipped cream on top of it. Some - like the Geek and Kaefer - also love marshmallows with it (the Geek doesn't like the cream). When everyone is at home in the late afternoon or early evening I ask this question "who wants some hot chocolate?", and they can't be too quick to yell a loud "I do".

Each one of us has her or his own special mug. Mine is this one, orange with little owls - of course! I found it in this Etsy store - go take a look, this mug is still available (plus some other wonderful ceramics). This mug always puts a smile on my face and the hot chocolate tastes really good from it!

So, what do you do to warm up a winter day?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Inner Artist Guardians and Cougars

This year I have signed up for Life Book again - I joined Life Book 2013 last year, and although I didn't do all the projects (by far not) I liked this year long class so much that is was pretty much a no-brainer to sign up for Life Book 2014. I love it - no surprise here.

The first week was about our inner artist guardian - no wonder a cougar turned up in my imagination as my very personal guardian. No angel or anything like that - a mountain lion instead.

If this painting reminds you of the cougar I wrote about here you are absolutely right!!!

Week 2 we had the wonderful Micki Wilde. I have adored her art work for some years and I was looking forward to her lesson. She worked around our word for the year which in my case is "making time"

Although the "assignment" itself was not difficult at all, I had a hard time with it. Micki did her lesson mostly in grey which I first did, too. I did not like mine, and I also had difficulties freeing myself from her example and did kind of the same thing as she did.

Needless to say I didn't like that. I just let it rest for a couple of days, and then I started a new painting. This time it worked - I painted what came into my mind - most often my hand just ruled over everything and played with the white paint, making many "swirly dots" - oh, I liked this so much better!!!

Does this sometimes happen to you that you see something that you want to paint and you just can't get free from that image? You're simple blocked to come up with something on your own? If so, what do you usually do?

I'm linking with Paint Party Friday - the first time in 2014 for me.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Word or Two for the New Year

Usually I pick a word for the year, a word that will guide me through those 365 days. Two years in a row I chose "being authentic" because that is important to me. Last year it was "grow" - and while I was successful with growth in some parts of my life, it didn't apply to other parts.

My word for 2014 came completely on its own - I wasn't even thinking about a word when it popped right up in November. It appeared while I was reading a wonderful mail from a blogging friend that was so sweet it brought tears to my eyes. She wrote about events in her life that I somehow have totally missed out on because I hadn't visited her blog for quite some time. That moment, the word "time" popped up and settled in my mind.

While I did relatively well on "grow" I had slipped many things at the same time. It seems that "grow" pre-occupied me in such a way that things I care about and are important to me were pushed to the back burner - because of the lack of time. Just leaning back and reading a book. Watching the birds at my feeders in the garden. Knitting. Going through cookbooks and try some new recipes. Enjoying a cup of coffee while really listening to music, not just as a background. Meditating. Walking around the lake with open eyes and not just rushing around it because I was busy to grow something else.

Don't get me wrong - "grow" was the right word for last year, but I didn't always handle it very well. It actually "grew" (ha!) to my word for 2014 - making time.

Not taking time. Making time. Actively making time for something that I enjoy, that cuddles my soul.

While I am aware that I still will work hard and many hours for my shop (which I thoroughly enjoy), I am convinced that if I am more thoughtful and careful with my time I can accomplish more in less hours and have time for the things that feed my soul. The start so far has been good. On a warm day around noon I sat outside close to the feeders and watched the birds. I was so still that a little junco even landed on my knee. A squirrel sat just a foot from me away. Birds were flying by my head very close. It was an hour of pure bliss.

I started to knit again. A few weeks ago, Jo and I visited a yarn shop and I found such beautiful yarn that I could already see the finished project. I bought the yarn, Jo showed me a special stitch that I could do to get the pattern I wanted and I just started. I'm far from finished, but I enjoy the movement of my hands and see the green scarf with its beautiful pattern getting longer. While knitting I can listen to music and just let my thoughts wander.

Meditating - it's not really meditating (I think), but I have started to make time for some "conscious breathing". I sit or lie on our red sofa with my eyes closed, breathe deeply and follow my breathing. It's only for about 20 minutes a day, but they are very refreshing and I also feel like emptying my head because I don't think of anything specifically. Another benefit of this is that it actually helps my blood pressure which is more than welcome.

And - I'm making time for exercising again. I became very sluggish with that toward the end of the year. Last Monday I started my "regime" again and am back to Jazzercise. I have to admit that the first time was a bit hard, but also fun. Sure, my body is sore now, but it's a good kind of soreness. I am determined to stick to it.

So - I hope that eventually I will learn to make more time for things that are not related to my business but will do me good. Being more connected is one of them. Writing letters, reading blogs, reaching out. Being present.

It should be a good year!