Category Archives: Art

Over The Top

As I drive around these days, I’m enjoying seeing all the Halloween decorations.  I have to say that the folks in the house across the street from Southdale Library have taken it to a new level.  I particularly love the two skeletons that appear to be climbing onto the roof using a ladder.  The big skeleton may be as tall as the house!

While I don’t do a lot of outdoor décor for the various holidays, for many years I did a lot of inside decorating.  Over the years I have cut down for various reasons:  Nimue, my terrorist tabby likes to eat the Easter grass and bat the plastic eggs around, Rhiannon couldn’t stay away from the Chinese New Year decorations that hung down from various places.  And truth be told, it was just too much some years.  As I’ve been downsizing my stuff, I’ve really whittled down on all my décor, which lives in big plastic bins in the attic. 

For Halloween and Thanksgiving, I have mostly autumn décor: candle rings, pumpkins, lots of flint corn.  And, of course, some ceramic bowls with fall designs that have candy in them.

Are you a holiday/seasonal decorator?  Inside or out?

Took another new route this week; as we were coming down a hill, I thought I saw a statue in someone’s backyard.  “Must be St. Francis” I thought to myself and as we got closer I realized I was correct.  And then we got even closer and I started to laugh.  The photo says it all.  When I came around the corner of the driveway (yes, I trespassed a little for the photo), I laughed even harder when I saw the second, smaller statue.  This just made my day.

There is a new federal law – you are required to have a statue of someone in your yard.  It has to be a person (although secondary and tertiary statues of any type are ok).  Who will it be?

Yard Signage

There are quite a few fairy gardens on the various paths that I walk each day.  Some at the edges of the sidewalk, two different ones in big pots, one on a tree trunk.  My favorite though is a large one near Lake Harriet that wraps around the bushes along the front sidewalk.  It has just about everything you can imagine including a teeny tiny yard side for Black Lives Matter (in the upper right corner).  As you probably can figure, I think this is charming.

I come by my love of yard signs naturally.  My folks usually always had a sign up for some candidate or other at election time.  The year my dad was the campaign manager for a friend running for city council, one whole side of our yard (that faced the busier street) was lined with them.  They even let me put up a “No Nukes” sign when I was in college, although our house at that point was at the end of a cul de sac so I’m sure the sign didn’t get seen by too many people.

I’ve been thinking about adding a yard sign for my presidential favorite almost every morning when I’m walking the dog, but then I get back to the house and promptly forget about it.  After seeing the little fairy garden yard sign, I sent myself an email to remind me, then drove up to Northern Sun (I love them – I was SO happy when I realized that I had moved to the city where their store is located!) and picked up my sign, which is now in my yard, along with my BLM sign.  Somehow having two signs feels quite natural – guess I’ll have to find another sign after the election so I will still have two!

Are you a yard sign person?  Or a fairy garden fancier?

I’d Sure Like to Meet…

Today’s post comes to us from Minnesota Steve

In 1960 when I saw To Kill a Mockingbird, I knew it was a great film that would become a classic. I also knew—or thought I knew—that Gregory Peck must be a thoroughly decent man, not just an actor who played the role of a decent man. And yet, that second notion is actually not as obvious as it often seems. Not all great actors are ethical, friendly or likable in real life. Happily enough, Peck turned out to be as nice as the part he played. His costars have praised him endlessly for his generosity and kindness. Time has been as kind to Peck’s reputation as it has to his most iconic film.

But being a great performance artist is difficult, and not every performer who reaches the high levels of artistry is as likable as Gregory Peck. While it is understandable that fans want to believe their favorite performers are also good people, not all performers are as likable as they are talented.

Some accomplished performers have complicated reputations. John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Pablo Picasso are often mentioned as people you might admire but would not enjoy being close to. In the world of business, Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, Elon Musk and Henry Ford are usually considered difficult human beings, if not worse. I used to dislike Bill Gates, but either he changed or I was badly informed. He seems admirable now.

Steve Goodman is an interesting person in this context. Goodman was funny, smart and easy to like as a performer. And yet I’ve read that his close friends knew he could occasionally be one of most annoying persons on earth. One person saying that was Goodman’s wife, Nancy, who loved him deeply.

Similarly interesting is the singer Loudon Wainwright III. Several people close to him have accused him of being a shoddy human being. One person expressing that opinion is the singer himself. While he has admitted to philandering and other mistakes, Wainwright’s open way of discussing them makes him more interesting or even likable.

My daughter has met several authors, and it wasn’t always good. Bill Holm and Michael Ondaatje behaved like jerks at book signings. Louise Penny, by contrast, could not have been more friendly and fun.

Garrison Keillor has been an important personality in my life for 56 years. I am a fan of much of his work, but not of the man himself, for I know he can be discourteous or even cruel. It is a cliché that humorists are often gloomy, unpleasant people, but remember, sometimes clichés are true. The charges of sexual harassment complicate the reputation of a man who was already highly complicated in my mind.

While it is difficult to know what celebrities are like in real life, with some performers you just know in your heart that they are someone you would enjoy as a friend. Bonnie Raitt has so much compassion and respect for other performers that I can’t imagine not liking her. Similarly, Emmylou Harris is unfailingly generous with other performers. Who could possibly dislike her?

Who among famous people would you like to know as a friend? Why?

The Little Bridge

Yesterday Guinevere and I turned right where we normally turn left.  It was just a half a block later that I noticed a path peeking out between the trees with stairs heading down toward Minnehaha Creek.  I was pretty sure where the path would lead so we took the path.  After just a bit, I could see the bottom of the steps; there was a rainbow-painted bridge across the creek that I had never realized was there.  The steps were completed embowered (I love that word) by a little forest of trees and the creek gurgles nicely as you walk over the bridge.

For several years I avoided using rainbows.  It’s hard when something becomes a symbol for a movement; you’ve never sure how your use of that symbol will be interpreted.  And not just rainbows but the symbol of the rainbow bridge!  But I’ve found that I’m craving rainbows the last couple of months – for me, they give me hope and bring me beauty.  I’ve made lots of rainbow-themed cards over the summer and added some rainbow stamps and dies to my collection.

So I was very happy to see the little rainbow bridge.  I think that Guinevere and I will visit the path and the bridge often in the future!

If you had a symbol for your life, what would you choose?

Jump Start

Back in March and April, when we thought life might be back to “normal” by now and before I got hit by the furlough, I was thinking I would be very very busy at work this fall.  I had my regular programs that normally run in October and November.  Then I had five programs that should have run in the spring and were postponing until autumn as well.  In an effort to not be crazy, I thought maybe I should ramp up my holiday projects, so I wouldn’t have them hanging over me if I was insane at work.

Luckily I had already identified my theme for 2020; this is probably a good idea because at this point I might be choosing toilet paper to represent this bummer of a year!  So I ordered a few supplies that I needed and got down to work.  First I did the Ukrainian eggs (two weeks), then I worked on my Solstice cards (three weeks).

Then I got furloughed and could have put everything else off but decided to forge ahead.  The last big project is my calendar.  I get a download from one of my favorite craft companies and then decorate each page, add pretty papers and eyelets.  The pretty papers turned out to be a problem.  By the time I was ready to work on the calendars, all the craft shops around here had closed their doors .  I tried to find papers online but it was just impossible to search out everything I needed.  I just had to wait until I could get the paper in person.

I’ve been working on the calendar pages for about a month now – been stringing it out and filling in between other projects.  But yesterday, I finished up December and got all the eyelets added!  Woo hoo.  I always like to be ahead of the game with my holiday projects but I’ve definitely set a record this year.  And even if I do get called back to work, all my fall programs appear to be postponing again to next spring.  Maybe I’ll do the holiday baking early too…. I could use cookies about now!

Any projects that you’re ahead of schedule on this year?

Birthday Art

Last week was my birthday.  I learned a long time ago that I don’t want to wait around to have friends/family bring celebration to me; if I want a particular celebration, then I just make it happen.  I came to this revelation after wasband #1 and I split up.  It was Valentine’s Day and I was feeling sorry for myself so I went out and bought myself a small bouquet of flowers, some heart-shaped balloons and a couple of pink frosted donuts with sprinkles (one for me, one for the dog).  I had also scored a big box from the new tv of the neighbors (Katy Scarlett loved to sit in big boxes and then eventually destroy them) which I decorated with red and pink markers for her.  Turned out to be a great day and a great lesson for myself.

This is not to say that I don’t love what friends/family do for me – I think when folks think of me it means MORE to me because I am self-sufficient in the “celebrate me” arena.  This year I had an especially nice surprise.  While I was out walking the dog that morning, the little girls next door (Margot and Matilda) came over and did chalk decorations all over my sidewalk.  I’m sure they had help from their parents, but the rainbows and butterflies were clearly Margot’s inspiration.  It was so touching – it’s still there a week later although getting a little faded from folks walking on it and the couple of rain sprinkles.  It was the best birthday wish I got this year!

Do you have a favorite neighbor?  Or a not-favorite one?

RIP Grant Imahara

I saw the sad news that Grant Imahara has passed away, from a brain aneurysm at the age of 49.  Although he worked for 9 years behind the scenes and Lucasfilms and Industrial Light & Magic as well as winning the third season of Battlebots, he is probably best known as one of the co-hosts of Mythbusters from 2005 to 2014.

I started watching Mythbusters right about the time that Grant started and I was hooked from the beginning.  This was about the time in my life when I was really starting to embrace my interest in science or as my baby sister says “my nerd stuff”.  As I know I’ve talked about here before, I spent decades of my life trying to mask my intelligence.  Even though I was the “smart one” in the family and did well in school, I never highlighted any accomplishments and purposely didn’t gravitate to things that were too nerdy.

But by the time Grant came into my life I had begun to realize that being interested in science, being a big reader, watching shows like Mythbusters was nothing to be ashamed about.  I loved the show and I was always amazed at Grant’s ability to whip up a robot whenever it was needed, from a baseball pitching machine to a robot that could fling a metal rimmed hat at a statue (a la James Bond).

So I will always be grateful to Grant for helping me along a path that has made me happier – I (and the rest of the world) will miss him.

Anything around your house you would like a have a robot do?

Retro – Again

It seems a truism that “what goes around, comes around” but I hadn’t given it much thought until about a month ago when YA announced that she wanted to do tie-dye.  She normally gives me a lot of grief when I wear one of the two tie-dyed shirts that I still own, so it was a surprise that apparently tie-dye is cool again.  Only pastel now.

The last time we did die-dye was several years ago and in the process we had used up several colors, so new ingredients were needed.  I got onto the website of Dharma Trading Company (a good source for a lot of fabric crafts) and let her choose the colors she wanted.  It took almost 3 weeks for the supplies to arrive since their warehouse is only staffed by 2 people at a time right now and YA probably asked me every other day when the order would arrive.   I ordered a “blank” sundress for myself, YA got two t-shirts and a sweatshirt for herself.

Despite the fact that I’ve done tie-dye for years, YA didn’t trust my knowledge, rolling her eyes and shaking her head.  I sent her off to do her own research and “voila”… all my advice was corroborated, including making sure you wash your fabric to get the sizing out before you start dyeing.  She REALLY didn’t believe me when I had said this was necessary.  Thank you, Google.

She got the dining room table all set up while I mixed the dyes in the individual squirt bottles. Then we tied our projects.  I went for a traditional sunburst pattern while YA only wanted the general “scrunch” look (no particular pattern in the end).  I also wanted to use bright colors so I did my dyeing first and then YA headed back to the kitchen to water down the colors she wanted so her pieces would be pastel.  Lots of color swatches on paper towels before she got what she wanted.

It was hard for her to wait 24 hours while the dye was setting and she was very concerned that if we did the final wash (in the washing machine) the color from my dress would bleed onto her shirts.  Once again, thank you, Google.  They turned out great – I’ve seen her wear both of her t-shirts already and I assume I’ll see the sweatshirt again when the weather cools down.  Unless tie-dye goes out of style before that!

What would you like to see come around again?

Here’s Your Hat – What’s Your Hurry?

My local library has begun to accept books back – there is a big bin outside the door during their open hours.  The books will be “quarantined” – until they are out of quarantine, they will stay on my account.

When I called the library last week to check out one of my curbside holds, I asked about the returns and the librarian told me to please not bring all 28 at one time.  So I’ve been stopping by and dropping off 4 or 5 at a time every day.

Yesterday on my way home, I passed a mother and daughter who were clearly headed toward the curbside check-out.  The little girl looked to be about five, maybe six.  At first glance I was thinking “why does this kid have on a hat in this hot weather?”  Then as they got closer, I saw that it was a unicorn hat.  “Aaaah…. never too hot for a unicorn hat!”

Forget the weather, forget hat hair.  What kind of hat will you wear today?