Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas in California

Today, Camille's twin girls asked if they could spend next Christmas in Albuquerque.  When I asked why, they said, "Because we want to make a snowman!"  Here is the front of Camille's house...
 Evergreens in baskets on the gate contrast with the blooming camellias on the left!

And while we don't always have snow for Christmas, this year the snow is lingering on the north slopes around our house, so the twins could have made a snowman.  Instead we are all taking walks in shirt sleeves in sunny California.  

Camille has little touches of Christmas all around her house, but my favorite of her decorations is this nicho (niche in English) at her front entrance.

It is lovely at night, although my cell phone camera would not cooperate well enough to take an effective photo.  The twins also made "putz" or glitter houses. And I made 18 of them for the St. Mark's Celebrity luncheon centerpieces.   As my husband said, "The Glitter Fairy bombed the house!"  Indeed, I imagine I will be vacuuming up glitter for some time to come. 

Glitter houses by Caroline and Sara.

One of my centerpieces...

 And if that were not enough glitter, here are the ornaments the children at St. Mark's and I made for the tree in the Sanctuary.

The excitement is high here on Christmas Eve.  Yesterday, we made tamales for this evening's dinner. We are going out to put up the luminarias this afternoon if the forecast rains lighten up.  Enchiladas and pecan pie are on the chore list for this morning.    

Max, the Elf on a Shelf was particularly naughty on his last day with the twins. While playing soccer with his friends, he knocked over all the collection of Santas that my sister had collected through the years...

 And, he made a banana split.  However he did not eat it as he had mistaken shaving cream for whipping cream.

Friday, December 12, 2014

To Tree or Not to Tree

As life changes, so too do the holiday traditions.  For the last 30+ years, we have hosted the family Christmas celebrations which included my older relatives, my husband's parents, most of our siblings and their spouses, our children and their children. 
Last year's small tree

Now we are the oldest members of the family and our daughters and son-in-laws are wanting to establish their own family traditions.  For the second year, we are traveling to another location to spend Christmas with one of our  daughters.  Hope we can keep track of whose turn it is!

Last year, as was our custom, we cut a tree and decorated it.  A few dinners with friends were lit by the lights on the tree and the house sitter probably enjoyed it over Christmas.  This year, as many of the trees on our property are dying from drought, we are loath to cut a healthy one for the two weeks we might enjoy it.  We are hosting a few dinners, however, so I feel a little something festive is in order.    Hating artificial trees, I cast about for an alternative.  This metal obelisk supports a tomato plant on my front porch in the summer, but it is about the right size and shape for a tree-like support for my Christmas now I am searching for the lights and ornaments for my very modern spare "tree."  I will probably add greens to my chandeliers for the lovely pinion scent the tree usually provides.

Last year after Christmas I went to an estate sale.  In a box of rather tatty Christmas things like chipped plastic Santas was a treasure.  Beautifully beaded felt ornaments that must have taken three to four hours each to create.  They were being sold for fifty cents a piece.  How could I pass them up?  So they will grace my very unconventional tree this year.

Here is one of he three Wise Men whose elaborate beading are done on both sides so that you can hang them facing either direction.

This peacock confirms my hunch that these were created in the 1950's because my friend Kathy B's Mom made quite a number of them for her tree when she was a child. 

Butterflies, doves, an angel and two camels were available.  Sadly there was no Holy Family with this collection.  Perhaps family members kept only those ornaments.  Although not much of a seamstress, perhaps I can find a pattern and make Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus at some point.

When we lived in another house which was a southwest style with bancos, I decorated a tree with turquoise, pink and purple leather and feather ornaments that I made.  Not sure what I did with those, but I still have the purchased ball ornaments that went with that tree and they go very well with these vintage (although new to me) ornaments.

Not as pretty as a real tree, but good for the environment! And, as I said to my friend Jane over at the Small But Charming Blog there will be no pine needles to vacuum up for the next three months.  Sati, our cat, found this new kind of tree intriguing but so far has refrained from using it as a jungle gymnasium, perhaps her first experience many years ago with riding a 12 ft. tree to the ground as it toppled with her weight (smashing rather a lot of vintage and beloved ornaments!) has deterred her.  However, any round sparkly thing sitting in a vignette is still fair game!  I am linking to Jane's "Christmas Tree in the House" party so pop on over to see more trees by some other blogging friends.  

Friday, November 21, 2014

44.4 Million Dollars for one Georgia O'Keefe Painting

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you already know that I like Georgia O'Keefe's paintings.  One of my favorite haunts in Santa Fe is the Georgia O'Keefe museum which has just sold this painting...
It was originally owned by Georgia's sister, Anita O'Keefe Young whose estate was sold in 1987 by Sotheby's.  The painting was donated to the museum by the Burnett Foundation in l996.  The museum intends to use the whopping 44.4 million dollar sale to increase their acquisitions fund.  This painting, along with the two others sold are very similar to other pieces the museum owns.  I can't wait to see what the museum director, Robert Kret, and the curator, Cody Hartley buy next and how much they will have to pay!  If you are fan of Georgia O'Keefe, you can read more in the Albuquerque Journal, here

If you are an art collector, you might want to visit the St. Mark's Art and Crafts Fair tomorrow and Sunday.  Who knows, your heirs might sell that painting you buy for a whole lot more money that you paid!  Scroll on down to the next post to see the details. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Watercolors With Six Year Old's

I am in California celebrating my twin granddaughter's sixth birthday and they love art!  Here is their work space...

Tables from IKEA with wheels added to make it easier to clean this space.

A secret to creativity, don't worry too much about the end result!  Many things go into the trash.

Image Via
I showed the twins this image of a painting by Renee Nault, a Canadian artist and illustrator who is primarily known for her whimsical mermaids...
We started with typewriter...oops showing my age...I meant computer paper and used blue painters' tape to cover the areas we wanted to stay white.

This is Sara's

This is Caroline's
The girls then painted over the tape with black and we sprinkled salt onto the paint hoping to create a snowy effect.  However, computer paper does NOT act like watercolor paper and the salt did not accomplish the intended result.
However, when the paint dried and we pulled off the blue tape, the girls were excited to see their trees.

Tomorrow we will attempt the little fox.  AND purchase some watercolor paper!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

How The Unicorn Got His Horn Back, Creative Lives Series, Vicki Dean Mayhew

Have you ever wanted to write a children's book?  For years, my friend, Vicki Mayhew, has been trying to get several of her books published.  She went to workshops, she considered self-publishing, and she opened countless rejection letters from publishers, but she never gave up. 

Vicki taught Sunday School with me when her children were small and she began to share a story about a pair of shoes belonging to a young boy.  He had taken them off to wade in the sea and a wave swept them away.  The story line grew in Vicki's imagination and she told to me over the next few months the continuing magical adventures of this pair of shoes.  In my mind I could see the illustrations that would tell this story with few words to very young children.  This book is still waiting on a publisher, but another of Vicki's stories has been published.  A signed copy of it was sitting on my desk at St. Mark's when I got to work one morning.

As with many creative people, Vicki found the time to run AP-T Camera Repair,the largest  camera repair shop in New Mexico, with her husband, Mike, raise wonderful children, volunteer with both the Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts, coach Little League, take wonderful photographs, care for the patio garden at St. Mark's, work in her own gardens, sew, and coach and play softball, all the while, writing stories and poems.

If you are looking for a gift for a child or grandchild, I would recommend this book about bullying. Children today have all either been a victim of bullying or have taken part in this less than positive activity themselves.  This little story will give you an opportunity to discuss this issue with them.

Here is a video of one of her books now available from Amazon.  It is a gift to have such a talented friend!

Update from the author "Sea Shoes has been accepted for publication and the illustrator is at work!"

If you would like a signed copy, drop by AP-T Camera Repair, 4503 Menual NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico.   Call first to let Vicki know you are coming (505)881-6600)...or order from Amazon...

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Magic Lives On, or "Why I like Harry Potter"

I work with children.  As Director of Christian Education at St. Mark's, I frequently have to ask my readers to put down their books to participate in our Bible studies and the activities we use to reinforce these stories.  And what book is most often the culprit?  One of the Harry Potter series.  Even the non-readers have been known to carry one with them to soccer, soft-ball, music lessons, etc. 

What is it about this awkward, unloved, young orphan boy thrust into an often scary world that appeals so strongly to what is now another decade of young readers? 

For over ten years at Camp Stoney (now the Bishop Ridge Episcopal Camp and Conference Center)  we offered a week of Harry Potter Camp.  For many of those years, I played the part of Deputy Headmistress Minerva McGonagle.  Along with a very enthusiastic and dedicated group of diocesan volunteers, we used these books to teach about the Christian themes so cleverly hidden in J.K. Rowlings books.   (I say cleverly because, like the great Christian theologian, C.S. Lewis, who wrote the children's Narnia series, Rawling wanted non-Christians to read these books.)  “To me, [the religious parallels have] always been obvious,” Rowling said. “But I never wanted to talk too openly about it because I thought it might show people who just wanted the story where we were going.” 

Rowling  explores themes of self-sacrifice, combating prejudice, choosing worthy companions and being loyal, fighting for good against evil, and yes even the theme of death and resurrection woven throughout Christian allegorical stories.

In “Deathly Hallows,” Harry visits his parents’ graves at Godric’s Hallow and sees two biblical references on his parents’ tombstones, reading: “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death,” and "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

One Sunday morning, I asked the young people at St. Mark's what sort of party they would like to have.  Maybe an Alice in Wonderland party, a pirate party, a theatre night party?  Nope they all voted for a Harry Potter Party.  So today, after VOTING on somewhat more important issues (have you voted yet?) I am off to Camp Stoney to pick up some of the sets we made over the years for the upcoming party.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Shy, Illusive Fox

Sometimes, as I drive up the mountainside to my house, a fox slips across the dirt road in front of my car.  A flash of red in an otherwise dusty green and brown landscape.  We often see wildlife but the fox is much shyer, so I have often wondered how artists become familiar enough with foxes to paint these compelling images...

by Lucy Newton Mixed Media

Always Wary, Watercolor by Joe Garcia Image Via

Water Color by Dean Crouser Image Via
Watercolor by Joe Garcia Image via
Out Foxed by Bonnie Marris Image Via
 Found this image on Pinterest but was unable to follow it to its source. A reader provided the answer.  It is by Konstantin Kalinin.

Evening Fox by Marcia Baldwin image via
'Zorros' by Franz Marc (1913) Image Via
New Media by Kamilla Marant Image Via

Game Over by Robert Bateman  Image Via

Love this one.  Wish I could discover who painted it.  I also found this on Pinterest, but the original pinner did not attribute it.

Perhaps in other parts of the country, foxes are more tame, or more bold and hang around long enough to at least be photographed.  Wish that our fox-in-residence would come out more frequently. But maybe Sati, our cat, will survive to old age if our dog continues to chase away all wild things.  

It has been some time since I have seen our flock of wild turkeys.  The bow hunting season was in the spring, so I am thinking the turkeys may be moving to a lower elevation for the winter.   I am told that this flock, which drove our dog mad as they marched, one at a time, across the hillside behind our house, might be the turkeys "missing in action" from the San Felipe pueblo to the north of us.  Perhaps they have decided to return home.

There also has been no sign of last year's bear cub.  The lack of pinion nuts this year might have him foraging further afield.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Dia De Los Muertos and Marigold Parade, Albuquerque

My daughter made these corsages from silk flowers and prairie dog skulls that Colin found when hiking.  They will wear them at the Dia De Los Muertos and Marigold Parade in Albuquerque.  
Theme: El agua es la vida, no se vende se defiende means (loosely translated by my high school Spanish) "Water is life, it is not to be sold, but defended."

I walked along side of Brittany last year to provide a shoulder to hang onto when she tired.  She had been ill but was determined to walk on stilts with Colin.

Here are some photos from last year...
You could purchase a hat or silk flowers from one of many vendors at the culmination of the parade.
  A float at rest after the parade.
 Along the parade route.

 Brittany and her friend, Rhonda (don't come with a bare face, you might feel a little naked!)

 But if you don't have any face make-up, you can buy a face...

Or paint a little face...

Brittany and Colin on their stilts...


I will be having fun at the parade with my grown (well somewhat grownup) children.

Ofrendas are a part of the Dia De Los Muertos tradition.

Notice the photographs?  These are family members or friends who have died.  The altar is created to remember them.  My church, St. Mark's Episcopal Church, creates an Ofrenda every year for parishioners to remember their loved ones on All Saints Day.  This year it is also showcasing many of the icons of saints painted in the ongoing icon classes.  New classes will be forming soon if you would like to learn "icon writing."  Sign up to receive our newsletter for more information.

Or if parades and calaveras are not your thing, come to the Fairgrounds this weekend to view the Encantadas Opening Reception.  My friend and fellow artist, Allen Lowery will have some of his artwork hanging.

So much fun, so little time!