Sunday, November 27, 2011

Not Even a Little Christmassy

There's nothing about this that says 'holiday' unless, of course, you grew up on an antebellum plantation and had peacocks strutting around year round. According to Wikipedia, peacocks will eat rodents and snakes, so that's probably why people had them around.

Or maybe it's because they look so beautiful - that's why I plan on having a pet peacock on my imaginary farm someday, along with about 40 head of Mr. Cow, a miniature cow (hamster sized) that I hope science can make by the time I'm 70 and have time to tend my miniature livestock herd.

Another fun fact about peacocks: they will warn of tigers in the forest by calling. Do you know what a peacock's call sounds like? I don't. I'd heard a high trilling noise and cock my ear and say, "What was that ARGH!!! WHAT HAS MY NECK?!"

Drafting Joy!

Well, I was finally struck by what I want for my Xmas card this year. Here is the first draft for that:
At what resolution did I scan this? Are you ever saddened by your startling lack of skills in one or more areas? Like me with the computer? Frankly, I am surprised that I don't refer to the major search engine as "The Google". I have that, at least.

Commission for Lora F.

Awaiting your glitter decision, my dear.

Changes? Revisions?

Marker, micro roller pen on paper.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

You were warned.

Or promised! You were warned or promised more Holiday Cheer, that is.  And here it is!

Bing Crosby is singing to me of the best way to say Merry Christmas on a bright, Hawaiian Christmas Day as I type this.

Just a little study about some of my favorite holiday memories, at least of the easily capturable things from Christmas. I would find it difficult to capture caroling with our 4-H club, or seeing the Dayton's Christmas exhibit, or my older sister ruining her lunch with a painfully hot dose of hot sauce at the Nanking Restaurant, for these are the events that holiday memories are made of.

Memory is faulty, but this is my best rendition of these objects that represent particular Christmases or many of them. I particularly like the idea of drawing objects since so many of them are just lost, and this is another way to record and remember events and places that are long since lost.

Since the script is very thin and maybe not legible, the objects are:
My grandparents' blue lights from the tree. Object lost.
- Great Grandma's Spicy Jello Salad. I don't care who you are, this is delicious. Would you like the recipe?
- Grandma and Grandpa's tree topper - this is not what it looked like, but how I remember it. Object lost.
- Dollhouse plate from my stocking, from a service of six. Object stored in dollhouse cabinet, right where the Dahls can get at them easily.
- A candle that smells of Christmas. It was bayberry and spice? It smelled wonderful, and it came out every year. Object lost.
- Treat bag from after the Christmas Pagaent. Oh, it was full of wonderful things! Object lost.
- The crazy Target lady. Maria Bamford is hilarious.
- The little light up Christmas tree. Ceramic, about four inches tall. There's one available at Vermont Country Store that sort of evokes it, but is much taller. Object still displayed yearly.
- The best Christmas outfit ever! Mom made my little sister and me matching outfits. They were shiny and had ballet slippers, and were easily our favorite outfits.

I hope that as you decorate the house and throw lights on the trees outside that you are able to step back and enjoy your own memories. There is sorrow in stepping back because lost times can never be relived. But as long as you aren't dead, you hold the power to create your own entirely new experiences, and that is the true power in looking back.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

I've officially moved into the holiday frame of mind, so that's probably going to be the theme of the blog for a month or two. You've been warned, if you're bah-humbuggy.

One of the very best things at the holidays is the little vignettes that pop up in homes and businesses. For the warm-hearted there is a mix of the old and the new, the coordinated and not so much, the beautiful and the so homely it must have a story behind it. For the cold-hearted (and businesses!) there is a theme, and, by god, it's all going to hew to that theme, dammit! For the super-consumer it's all new, and they're probably super psyched that they didn't spend that much on it.

I like to add little bits year by year, and since I have a small house it can all go up on the day after Thanksgiving (I refuse to participate in the shopping drag race that day has become). My mother always put out lots of Christmas books among the decorations, so I'm building my collection slowly.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Study: Aerial Farm Photography

Long before the days of satellites and GoogleEarth, there was awesome aerial farm photography. If my understanding of this one particular sort is correct, private firms would criss-cross an area and snap pictures at a low-ish, usually of the more photogenic views of the farm (focusing on the house rather than the animals' yards, for example) and then you could purchase prints of your spread. To store on the kitchen wall of the same. I love these now, because they kind of look like tilt-shift photography, but I loved these as a child. Loved.

Because it was always seemed like some black and white snap from twenty or more years ago and you'd ask where this barn had gone or what happened to that tree and the residents, or your parents who were the children of the residents thirty years ago, would tell you that that barn caught fire one dusty summer or that tree got some fungus and blew over in a real strong storm.

We have so very, very many ways to preserve memories now, which is wonderful, but something about the rarity of this old ephemera compared to the zillions of iPhone pictures makes them worth infinitely more. When you see these pictures you're either gazing at an ancestor's livelihood or in an antique shop wondering who grew up there and what became of them all.

Like the Spring Grove picture a few days ago, this is similarly inspired. It's a cobbling together of several farms I was familiar with as a child, a bit of imagination, and a whole lot of ignorance about farms, so it's missing the sense of occupancy that these pictures usually had.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Internet Time Thief

I bet it ate yours, too. C'mon. Admit it. You fell down that gadget rabbit hole and now, here you are, twenty minutes, an hour, two hours later. It is both so helpful and so damaging. There's so much I learn from Professor Internet and so little I retain from the same. I can remember some very unconnected and some very well-connected bits of learning from magazines, books, and teachers from twenty, twenty-five years ago.  Do you know what I remember from the internet? Not the locations of things I might like to buy someday. Not ways that I would like to decorate (although I just remember to revisit Peak of Chic and Habitually Chic and hope that a passing internet shadow, i.e., a link or a reference to another site, points the way to the rest). Not healthy and delicious vegetable and beef hotdishes I thought sounded good. 

I remember alarming tidbits of information. And there's the vague sense of there's a better way I should be doing everything. I lote the internet. (Love + Hate = lote.)

From the archives...

Totally unlike most of my work, and yet everything like it. Farm (because that is my natural default brain location, despite my never having lived in the country). Woman (because I always felt more confident drawing women rather than men. Something about the lips and hair; the fellas always looked... different...). Person being rather more wistful than the situation requires (if you loved Anne of Green Gables as much as I did and played countless games of "Orphanage" with your best friend, you would know that she's actually just as wistful as she should be.).

She's my girl and there's a nice wind rustling through the windbreak and the sky is more pink and yellow than it is blue and that sweet corn is going to be so good that maybe that's all she's going to have for supper. I don't know who took the picture, and I don't know who else is in the house. Maybe there'll be a hand or two of cards and a few bottles of beer and some popcorn. They'll probably hear the cows and the wind and plan for tomorrow.