Monday, May 31, 2010

A Sacred Journey

This year has held much sadness and tears for me. We lost our sweet Bruschi who'd suffered so long from seizures, I learned of the death of a lovely Etsian whose blog I had followed with much interest and respect, one of my best friends saw the death of her father recently, three old folks in the nursing home where I sing died just last week, my father went to the funeral of one of his best friends, my brother has told me of the spreading cancer of a musician friend, I have on-line friends who are struggling with cancer treatments and other health-related issues, and of course I've struggled with my own medical issues, albeit not life-threatening, for longer than I care to remember. And this list doesn't even mention the day-to-day struggles that we all deal with, either for ourselves or with a family member or friend.

So I have spent much time this year thinking about life and its mysteries, and yesterday I posted a new treasury on Etsy. Its title is Life is a Sacred Journey, and this is truly how I feel. It does hold mystery, it does hold blessings, it does hold beauty... all in spite of the struggle. The works featured here by these Etsians impart, to me, the beauty of our sacred journeys.

I hope each of you will take time daily to breathe slowly and thoughtfully, to be thankful, to love, to touch the earth, to simply be here on this planet with all of our fellow creatures and be aware of the sacredness of it all.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

One Fabulous Friday Date!

Earlier this week, my husband declared that we needed a date, so we set Friday as the time to take a drive into Virginia. We'd heard predictions of rain and storms for most of the week, but yesterday, we woke up to beautiful skies and warm temps... not too hot, just right! I left in the morning just before 10 for my singing gig with the old folks at the skilled nursing care facility nearby. Our dog Abby walked me to the door, and she looked so hopeful, as if she wanted to take a little trip with me. I've promised the old folks, and Abby, that I'd get the records of her shots from the vet so she can become a regular visitor. The old folks will enjoy it, and I think Abby will make a great pet therapy dog too... she'll love all the attention and pats!

When I returned home, I couldn't bear the thought of leaving Abby behind again, so we put her water dish, a bottle of water, and her leash in the car, and she hopped right in, ready to go on our little trip across the state line. We headed up into Virginia to eat at a little cafe in Meadows of Dan. On the way we stopped at a couple places to check out the view and let Abby stretch her legs. The air was cooler up that way, though it was a hazy day at times.

We ate on the porch of the cafe so that Abby could have a clear view of us, and I could easily take a few steps to the car to give her some lunchtime treats off my plate. It worked out quite well, and she got to stroll through the yard beside the cafe before we got back in the car.

After lunch, we decided on the spur of the moment to visit Chateau Morrisette Winery which is only a few more miles from Meadows of Dan. We traveled the back country roads where we enjoyed many a field full of cows, wildfowers, and lots of summery green! And what a delight when we arrived at the winery! With the Blue Ridge Mountains as the background and long, rolling green fields and gardens at our feet, we strolled around the grounds with Abby on her leash and I took some photos of the sights.

This last photo is the gift shop, wine-tasting room, and location for the start of the winery tour. I'd already decided that I'd like to take home a bottle of white, so we put Abby back in the car and went into the shop. After looking around a bit, we figured we better do a wine tasting so I'd know what I wanted to buy. Five bucks a person... you can't beat that, and of course you get to keep the wine glass too. Our first glass was poured as we explained where we were from and that we had our dog in the car. "Well, bring her on in here! We're dog friendly!" said our server. John went out to the car as the woman explained that the staff's dogs are often found roaming the shop and the grounds. And yes, here came two sweet pups around several cases of wine! Abby was the perfect dog; she said hello to the other dogs and then sat at our feet or stretched out on the cool tile floor. And she even got some pats and tummy rubs from other folks in the shop.

So here's the perfect winery, we decided. Many of their labels are named for dogs, their "bundles" of wines are called Kennel Packs, and one of their wines, Independence, benefits a Service Dog charity. This is my kind of place, for sure! We decided right away that we'd return with some friends for lunch at the Chateau Morrisette Restaurant (I've already checked out the menu and they are vegetarian-friendly too!) and an afternoon on the grounds where we can bring our guitars and spend the time drinking wine and singing and enjoy the beauty of this location amid the Blue Ridge Mountains.

So yes, we picked out two bottles of wine and got back into the car, this time getting on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a bit where we saw some gorgeous fire azaleas. Here in the lower elevations, the azaleas finished blossoming about three weeks ago or more, but there were so many on the parkway.

So I'll leave you with these last two photos of our beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains... enjoy! And have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Final Layers and Revisions

When you have several paintings going at the same time, you're bound to be excited by at least one or two of them, and if you're lucky, all of them! But you're also bound to finish them up, which is what I did today with four of mine; three of these were posted in yesterday's blog.

Carolina Wren got its final glaze of yellow and is now listed in my Etsy shop...

Leaves of Love became a very green painting...

The untitled 8 x 10 landscape received a colorful field of wildflowers and poppies and became Roadside Attraction, for sale in the Etsy shop...

And a new painting that I worked on late yesterday afternoon after being amazed at the wonderful clouds in the sky that have accompanied our stormy weather, this 12 x 12 is titled As the Crow Flies and it's for sale in the shop...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Paintings in the Studio

In various stages, there are 5 canvases in progress in my studio. Here's a glimpse of four of them in their current state...

My Mountain Home, 18 x 24

Leaves of Love, 12 x 12

And here's the inspiration for Leaves. I'm not sure what kind of shrubbery this is, but it resides just beyond the back fence, near my husband's tobacco-barn-turned-shop, and I've always loved its heart-shaped leaves.

Carolina Wren, 18 x 24

And a little as yet untitled 8 x 10 landscape which could very possibly change quite a bit...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

First Turtle Crossing

On our way to church this morning, we got behind a very slow driver. Now listen, on these curvy county roads, I surely am not a fast driver, especially at night. And during the warm months, I am ever on the lookout for critters who get a bit too close to the road. But this woman in the car ahead of us was a creeper. I remarked to my husband that at least if she is driving that slowly she'll be able to stop without a problem in case there's a turtle in her path. I was, of course, assuming she'd be the kind of person that would care that there was a turtle in the road. No sooner had I said that and guess what we saw? Oh yes, a turtle. It was not yet in the road, but it had its long neck out, checking out the traffic, perhaps, and heading straight for the pavement. So my husband pulled over just beyond the site, and I hopped out and headed to do our first turtle rescue of the season.

Normally when you approach a box turtle, it will go into survival mode and stick its head and its feet up inside its shell, trying not to be seen, making like a rock. But not this turtle! This guy actually ran from me! It kept its neck out, its head held high, and those feet made tracks! John could even see it from the car. But I scooped it up, carried it to the other side of the road, well past the pavement, and smiled as I watched it hurry down into the brush and the woods.

Yay! John is keeping a turtle migration chart this year, and we can only hope that each turtle makes it safely across these roads. Of course, we'll help as much as possible. And while many folks definitely feel the opposite of me, I'll just go ahead and say that I have the same good wishes for the snakes too!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

New Products This Week

I live in an area surrounded by many vineyards and wineries, and I do one show a year at a festival to celebrate Autumn Harvests at Shelton Vineyards. So I have decided it's time to begin working on a new product for this show in particular, but also for the Etsy shop and any other local shows that I do. Can you guess what this product is? If you guessed Knee Deep Wines, you guessed wrong... although hey... that might be a fun new venture for the next decade. I like the sound of the name too, don't you?

This new product is much simpler... wine glass charms. I worked with one of my favorite glass bead sellers on Etsy, LindenAvenueDesigns, and she created custom lampwork beads for me. I wanted to work in themes, so the colors I chose were based on those themes. I think these will be fabulous gifts for weddings, housewarmings, birthdays, anniversaries... and of course they're perfect for those summer dinner parties and gatherings. Here's what I have so far. Where the themes are highlighted, they are for sale in the shop. Others will be listed today or tomorrow.

My first set... Spring... now resides in the gift shop at a local gallery. It's a set of four in the happy colors of pink, aqua, ecru, and yellow and accented with crystals and seed beads

Earth and Sky... a set of four in cobalt, pale blue, rich brown, and spring green, accented with Swarovsky crystals and seed beads

Summer Flowers... a set of six in bright, cheery floral tones, accented with an orange gemstone round and seed beads

Fiesta!... a set of six in turquoise, red, orange, yellow, green, and cobalt, accented with silver swirls and seed beads

Sand and Sea... a set of four in royal blue, gray, sand, and aqua, accented with a mother of pearl oval bead and seed beads

Elements... a set of four in Wind (very pale pink), Earth (moss green), Fire (orange-red), and Water (cobalt), accented with gemstones, Swarovski crystals, and seed beads

These have been a nice change of pace for me, and I believe they will sell, at least at the local wine shows! But today, there is sunshine and warmth after three cool and rainy days, so I'm heading out to the painting studio... with a big smile on my face!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dogs, Dogs, and More Dogs

This past weekend was crammed full of activities around these parts... dinner parties, brunches, family visits, graduation, and not least... Woofstock which took place on Saturday.

Woofstock was a fundraiser for the Forsyth County Humane Society and it was the kickoff for Art Unleashed, the project for which I painted the fiberglass cat form which became Scout in the Garden. All these dog and cat sculptures had their debut on Saturday, and wow! They were all beautiful and so very different. Here are some photos of the forms, the first includes Scout sitting between two very precious puppies.

I was happy to discover that Scout was featured in the Art Unleashed brochure! Also, each artist learned where his or her animal form would spend the summer before the exciting auction party in September. Scout in the Garden will spend her summer months at Associated Artists, which is the artist organization to which I belong. I was thrilled to learn that bit of news. That means I'll get to see Scout a couple times during the next few months!

Woofstock took place from 1:00 - 10:00 pm and there were many wonderful musicians who provided great music and entertainment throughout the day.

There were also animal-oriented booths such as artists whose work features animals, animal-rights booths, booths who sold animal treats and services, and booths who wanted to make the public aware of various local laws regarding animals. The Humane Society had a few of their adoptable animals on site, and making a big splash was the doggie pool! Sometimes there were two and three dogs in there, and sometimes just one while others patiently waited their turn at the edge.

There were dogs of all kinds and sizes everywhere, so for us dog-lovers, we were in heaven! Woofstock was a fabulous event for all who attended, it was well run, and I hope that it made lots of money for the Humane Society, a very wonderful organization run by wonderful folks who care immensely for the dogs and cats who find their way there, looking for a forever home.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Foxy Lady!!

Two new treasuries... one of cute, foxy critters and one of hot, foxy lady goodies, things my husband really likes! Follow the links to see them up close and check everything out. Enjoy!

Foxy Lady...

Foxy Lady Two...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tuesday's Treasures

Really? This cold in May? It's happened here before, and I didn't like it then and I don't like it now. But fortunately we had a cold rain today and not cold snow! And I know it will be warmer tomorrow, and I'm glad because I'm a little weary of fires in the woodstove, especially after I'd cleaned it out, dusted and vacuumed the corner the stove is in, and prettied the stove top up with art sculptures. But in the meantime, our cool weather plants are loving the past few days! Salad anyone? We've got lots of lettuce and spinach to go around! And snow peas on the way!

So while it's been chilly outside, I've spent some time searching around for some hot items on Etsy that I surely do admire. Take a closer look by clicking on the links.

A gorgeous woodcut print by AzureGrackle...

A lovely and unique wine-red necklace with sea glass by Astash...

A fun and floaty balloon T by BoosTees...

A fun red fox by abilgailbrown...

And a gorgeous porcelain vase by NewMoonStudio...

Remember... shop handmade, support artists, shop Etsy!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sunday Already? Time for a New Post!

I've been so busy, both inside and outside, that I haven't been on the computer too much lately. I've done some gardening, some cleaning, some baking, some work in the jewelry studio, some relaxing, some songwriting and music stuff, and some moving (for and with one of my sons). I realized this afternoon that I haven't done a blog post since last Tuesday, and I haven't posted much on Facebook either. Not much new in the Etsy shop, for that matter... a new painting and a reserved listing... and that's about it. Where does the time go?

So here I am... awaiting a visit from our youngest child who is coming up for a dinner of shrimp and veggie shishkabobs on the grill, along with roasted corn on the cob, and roasted potatoes and garlic, and some good ol' Southern cornbread. He will also collect his dog, Empi, who has been visiting for a week while my son was on location in Charleston, SC for a photo and video shoot. As my blog followers know, I simply LOVE having Empi here, as does our dog, Abby, and we are both very sad when she leaves Camp Dresser, as we've come to call our home in the woods when Empi comes to visit.

Since I'm waiting, and all the food is ready to go on the grill and in the oven, I thought I'd share some recent photos I've taken of a couple things around the house I've been working on. Yesterday I worked on new beading for older pendants. These are all mostly 16 inches with sterling silver and gemstone pendants. I may list them on Etsy, but I will probably wait until after another show I will do soon.

Art Deco... green opal with hematite

A Touch of the Sun... amber, turquoise, goldstone, pearls

Chocolate and Cherry... red tiger's eye, tiger iron, red coral

Spot On!... dalmation jasper, river stone, hematite, pearls

Summer Gold... ocean jasper, mookaite, mother of pearl, red tiger's eye, topaz

Here's a photo of the visitor we had in our front yard yesterday evening. The dogs were just a little upset that someone was out in the yard without them!

Finally, I spent some time yesterday creating a bottle tree... which in these parts is rumored to keep away evil spirits. We've had our share of those this year, so since I've been collecting bottles for a while now, I decided I'd better put them to good use. And when I helped my son move all his stuff on Friday, I confiscated a box of some old vintage bottles and some glass insulators. He was happy to give them to me, really, and he was happy to know how they would be used.

Okay... the dogs are barking like crazy... that most likely means a car is coming up the road and it'll be my son! Time for hugs, visiting, and dinner!

Happy Mother's Day to all moms out there!