Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The eerie glow behind the keys

A lot has changed since my last entry. The busy season is behind me, I left town, and I'm now writing from my brother's pub in Oakridge, OR, on my shiny new Macbook (love the eerie glow behind the keys!). I'm even getting a little excited about Christmas, now that I'm past the retail portion of the holiday.

This photo of Pookles, one of the Oregon family cats, sums up my current attitude.

Friday, December 18, 2009

One whirled, one dream

This was my design for a past year's rutabaga shirt, inspired by the Olympic theme. This year the design has a chicken on it. You KNOW you want to come to this event tomorrow!

Rutabaga madness!

Alright alright, Gary gave me a few raised eyebrows yesterday evening about my lack of blog entries lately, to which I replied that basically I've just been really busy packing up card orders and such, and while that's great for business it makes for super boring blog entries. But I have something interesting to say today that should make you sit right up and listen!

Tomorrow is the last outdoor farmers' market of the season, hurrah, and that means the time for the annual International Rutabaga Curling Championship has "rolled" around again! It's the 12th Annual this year, and you can read all about it here. Basically it's like bocci ball with rutabagas, played on the bumpy floor of our market pavilion, and it's a fine example of Ithaca community street theatre. People turn out by the hundreds for this (not much else would bring them out on those cold days), wear costumes, form teams, and get pretty darned competitive vying for the title. In a fine example of nepotism, (I work for the Commisioner, Steve Sierigk of Acorn Designs), I've held onto the job of being the Rutabaga Goddess for the last several years. Registration is from 10:30-11:45, and the games begin with opening ceromonies and the arrival of the flame from Mount Cruciferae and a parade of athletes at high noon. This is tomorrow. Come on out. Wear warm clothes and don't forget toe wamers in your boots.

Word on the street is that there might be a Team Capoeira this year.

And it's the last chance to find me at market until next spring, since I'm taking off for Oregon on Monday for the holidays, and then only back briefly before my next adventure.

Monday, December 14, 2009


So I just stopped by my computer for a minute to see if I had any exciting email, and Nebraska (cat, not geographic location) got on my lap and so now I'm trapped here for a moment, and may as well make a short blog entry. Been meaning to do that anyway...

Just crawled out of a rough week. My cold is mostly gone and I feel like my usual energetic self, and I might even start answering the phone again soon. Only one more market to go for the season. Special orders are tapering off, seems like all stores are well stocked with my cards. My calendars are running low! Loads of houseguests! A looming birthday! And in a week, I fly to Oregon to spend the holidays with the west coast contingent of my family, including lots of time at my brother's pub.

The time has come to start thinking about making my crown for the Rutabaga Curl...which I will explain later since it deserves its own entry. Are you intrigued?

And since blogs are all about peering into the minutiae of people's lives, I'll let you know that I have some lovely-smelling butternut squash soup cooking on the stove right now. I make it with Thai red curry spices and coconut milk and leeks. Mmmmm-hmmm.

Monday, December 7, 2009

He's not a big, pretty hen

I mentioned a few posts ago that one of my new young chickens turned out to be rooster. All along I was kind of hoping that it was just a big, pretty hen. Newly renamed Harold, after my great-uncle, he's beautiful and turning very showy. Does anyone want to adopt him?

Plowshares was a great success, and now there are just two more farmers' markets and the store on the Commons to keep afloat. I see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. I will also be on my way to Oregon for the holidays in two weeks, hurrah! But meanwhile, I have a wicked little cold and am feeling cranky and reclusive.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Oooh, another booth photo!

Well, quick breaking news in Syracuse, all set up for the Plowshares show, and took a photo of my booth in case it entices you to stop in...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Eye of the retail storm

It feels way later than it is.

It's that time of year again, sun goes down at about 4:30 and so I start burning the midnight oil mighty early.

I have been working full-out on my card business for several weeks now (and not blogging, in case you haven't noticed)...wholesale orders are up, and my website is once again paying for itself. Trips to the post office almost every day. This evening I finally finished the worst of the planning and packing for my biggest craft show of the year, the Plowshares Craftsfair in Syracuse, and now I am kicking back with a long hot bath and a well-deserved wee sip o' wine in front of the woodstove. Kind of an eye-of-the-storm moment. Read about Plowshares here, and come on up...loads of excellent artists and interesting treats for your Christmas stockings. This lion and lamb image seemed appropriate to talking about a fair put on by the Syracuse Peace Council. Oh hey, and it's available as a card, of course!

The Holiday Spirit Store is picking up...that's the one in downtown Ithaca. Working lots of shifts there and trying to encourage people to shop locally and support their favorite artists who needed pricey new brakes on their cars this week.

I had my first Etsy sale! A calendar to someone in Oregon. Excellent.

Farmers' Market continues on, we are at our outdoor location until December 19th (when we host the International Rutabaga Curling Championship). For me, that means two chilly markets on the 12th and 19th, and then I can hang it up for a while.

In other breaking news, the new chicken of indeterminate gender proclaimed his rooster-ness today with a series of unmistakable cock-a-doodle-dooooos. I've been wondering about that chicken, and now we know...

Friday, November 20, 2009


I have a few paintings up at the Museum of the Earth for the next few months. They have an amber exhibit, which is supposed to be spectacular.

A few years ago I went into the scary-yet-fascinating basement archives at the Paleontological Research Institute (associated with the Museum), and did some oil paintings based on sketches I made in their collections. These two paintings will be behind the welcome desk at the museum for the duration of the exhibit. A detail from one of them is shown here. The gift shop will also be selling notecards of this image!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Friends who read my blog

I just spent a great weekend in Pennsyltucky with some of my awesome college friends. We got together to see my friend Karen's play...she's the one on the left...she directed a bunch of high school students in a pretty amazing rendition of Cinderella.

So that's me on the right, the short one. It was a gorgeous and we tramped around Valley Forge, meeting dogs and enjoying the sunshine. I love my friends.

I also learned that some of you read my blog without me knowing it...thanks! You know who you are.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chicken gossip!

Enough about art, I know you just want to hear about the chickens.

Lots going on in the ol' hencoop lately! The flock is back up to 6 birds as of last wednesday. Here's a photo of the new residents, who are 4-month old adolescent chicks. Left to right, they are Edna (Barred Rock), Florence (Rhode Island Red), and the mysterious as-yet-unnamed Black Rock. I've been debating whether that one is a rooster because of the colorful feathers and larger size...but apparently Black Rocks are sex-linked and the males are a totally different color. So she must just be on her way to being a giant hen. They should start laying in January. It's fun having cute little younger birds, I've been picking them up a lot so they get used to being handled and will hopefully grow up to be friendly hens who hang out with me in the garden like the original flock. I have opened the coop door for them for the first time today, so we'll see if they go out.

As for the older birds, lots has been going on there too. The huge Australorpes (Ida Mae and Pauline) started venturing out and following Clara around, and they started laying again. Last week, however, before the new chicks arrived, one of the neighbor's dogs got loose and chased the girls of the neighbor children handed poor traumatized Pauline to me after getting her away from the dog (she was fine, just scared), Clara came back by dark, and Ida Mae spent a night outside the coop.

Clara (the lone survivor of the original flock) is making up for her time as the low chick on the totem pole. She's definitely turning into the alpha hen. She's putting on some weight, pecking the new girls, and showing the Australorpes how things are done around here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

How to spend your weekend

Just lit the woodstove, and enjoying the thin November sunshine for a few moments before plunging back into work. As I might have mentioned in my last post (but I don't really remember), my business has become more busy-ness lately. 'Tis the season, etc etc.

Let me fill you in on two upcoming events:

First, the Holiday Spirit Store is opening on Friday night! That's tomorrow evening, from 5-7, during Gallery Night downtown. Everyone in the store is scrambling madly around getting their displays and products ready, and Alice and Werner have been complete creative angels is pulling together a cohesive story and look to the place. Alice has a cool photo on her blog. Please come out, it is not just a great place to support local artists and find unique gifts, but almost a theatre experience. You can find more information here, regarding hours and such.

Second, the capoeira group I am part of is hosting an event this weekend in Ithaca! Oh, I am so excited! Three days of capoeira, our group's mestre is coming to visit and play, and there are music and movement workshops all weekend. The exciting part for YOU is that we're having an open roda on Saturday evening, from 5-7 at the the Bethel Grove Community Center...which is free and open to the public. If you're curious what this whole Brazilian martial art / dance thing is that I'm always talking about, please stop in and watch up play, you'll be amazed. More info on our website. I screened some cool t-shirts for the event, which you can get there too.

So now that I've filled your day with lots of links and calendar events, I must be off to cut some more mats and pack up some more cards. I'm looking forward to winter when I can paint again!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cat eye

Happy Halloween y'all! Here's Nebraska modeling a cool cat mask made by a guy at the Farmers' Market... Speaking of, tomorrow should be a fun day down there, with a parade of cute little costumed kids and vendors all dressed up. Stop down, and get some winter squash and NOTECARDS! And CALENDARS! They are done and I will have them with me at the market for the rest of the year. I'll try to get them up on Etsy next week too, will keep you posted.

My blog entries have fallen off a little, as this past week has been exceptionally busy. I've been printing t-shirts for an upcoming capoeira event (there was a saga involved in getting the screens made, but now is not the time for that), and starting to move into the store on the Commons (which means getting a whole second set of inventory together, and lots of schlepping-of-display-pieces).

And now it's Friday night, and I'm going to stop working for the evening as soon as I hit the "publish post" button. And hey, one of the chickens finally laid an egg today!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Holiday Spirit Store

Good morning everyone! As you might assume from my lack of posts lately, things are ramping up here. It's hard to think about Christmas in the middle of October, but that's what it's like when you're an artist and make cards. One quick announcement if that I'm gearing up to be part of a fantastic store on the Ithaca Commons for the months of November and December! There are about 20 of us, with art and clothing and body care and tasty treats. We'll be in the old Plantations space and the grand opening will be Gallery Night on November 6th.

Please check our website for more info! And come out and SHOP!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sneak Preview - 2010 calendar!

I just got back from a really fun weekend in Vermont, at a big farm party that involved making lots of apple cider, and contra dancing, and tango in a barn. It was lovely up there, the fall colors were running wild and the sun was shining. Mighty cold for camping though, the only way to stay warm was to dance. Usually contra dancing makes me wickedly dizzy, but this time around it was alright.

So I'm working on my new calendar for 2010, and am pretty excited about how it's turning out. I'm using some of my botanical illustrations, and having fun with the design. It will fit in a cd case, which handily flips open to make a nifty little stand for the pages (same style as last year). Here's a little preview of one of the pages. I expect to have these done in a week or so and available at the farmers' market....eventually on the website too...or just email me if you want one!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ida Mae

For those who follow this blog primarily for stories about my chickens, here's a photo of Ida Mae, the larger and more cocky (har har) of the two new black australorpes. You can't really see it here, but they're very pretty, with super soft feathers and a nice green sheen over the black. I had to get her picture inside the coop, because she and Pauline are not yet venturing through the door to the outside world. Maybe Clara is filling their pea-sized heads with scary stories about What Happened to the Other Chickens.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The re-purpose-driven notecard

Out comes the big bright SAD lamp! It's been a dreary week here in Ithaca, all that I dread about autumn has been out in full force. 42 and raining, no sun at all for 6 days in a row. I really don't want to complain, but weather like this makes me non-functional.

I was taking a walk in the woods today though, dragged myself out of the cozy woodstove-warmed house, and I felt so much better. And my brain turned back on in the fresh air, and all kinds of ideas started flowing. One idea I acted on right away, and here are the results. I have a few small 2009 calendars left, and have started re-purposing the images...cutting up the pages and looking for ways to make things from the art. Today (and shown here) I made blank cards from sheets of luscious tree-free colorful Nepalese paper, and glued the artwork on the fronts...pack them up with some nice brown envelopes, and new fancy-schmancy cards to take with me to the farmers' market tomorrow. I made some journals with these images last week too.

Exciting gossip in the neighborhood is that my housemates' birdfeeder was mangled by a bear! I wonder if bears eat chickens? The new hens now have access to the outdoors, but they are being timid and staying in their coop. Smart.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New tiny journals!

A quick announcement! Acorn Designs, a great local paper product company who are dedicated to using 100% eco-friendly recycled papers and inks (and I'm their graphic designer) has a very cute and fun new line of tiny journals. There are 20 designs, and two of them are mine...including the "star tree" which is shown here on the right. My sister-in-law, Patti Sobel, made the stones painting which is shown here next to the star tree, too!

You can check them out and order them here. Great little gifts!

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Yesterday was one of those farmers' market days that tax the spirit and sap the mind. It was chilly, the wind was wicked (one of my framed pieces blew over and broke, and cards were flying loose and free), I injured myself both with the car door and also while putting up the giant flapping tarp in the wind, a downtown festival kept many of the customers away, and the rain was falling as I loaded up the car. I got home and wanted nothing more than to crawl into a warm comfy place with some tea and a book....and a peek at the weather forecast confirmed my gut feeling that I should take Sunday off.

So today I have been enjoying a real Sabbath know, that concept of creating your world for six days and then taking the seventh to rest from your labors. I don't get to do this often enough, there's always something that needs to be attended to when I'm working here in my studio. It's pretty blissful, and I expect to wake up tomorrow refreshed and ready to work again.

It's raining and misty and dark here today, the dark side of the otherwise lovely Ithaca autumn. I lit the woodstove for the first time this morning, to take the chill off. And there are two new glossy fat black chickens in the coop, Pauline and Ida Mae.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Something sad and mysterious happened at home while I was obliviously gallivanting around the Yosemite wilderness. My flock of six chickens vanished. Well, five of them are gone without a trace, and only poor lonely Clara is left. She has been pecking around the yard in a desultory manner, is not laying, and seems quite sad to be roosting alone. She's been hanging out in the gardening basket by the door a lot.

Where did they go? I know there has been a family of young hawks in my woods, and I have seem them buzz around the coop. But I can't imagine that they could kill and consume five plump chickens in one afternoon without leaving any feathers or other signs of struggle. Did they get spooked and run away and then got lost? Did they miss me and set off in a quest to follow me? Were they nabbed by chicken rustlers? My friend Jean Elizabeth thinks they joined the circus.

So farewell to Martha, Ethel and Ruth, who have been with me since the beginning and laid such gigantic eggs. Also alas for Mildred and Agnes, the two lovely new wyandottes.

I hope to get two more hens tomorrow, black australorps...will keep you posted.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I didn't photoshop myself into this one

So take a close look at this photo, specifically at the ridge I'm on. Yes indeedily-do, I traversed that baby, scrambling over rocks and up ledges, trying to ignore the plunging drops on either side while enjoying the scenery at the same time. All the while, my friend Brian is ahead of me saying "I dunno, this looks do-able..." Holy crow, it was possibly the most challenging but also fun hiking adventure ever!

All that to say, I'm back from my second trip to Yosemite, and had a great time. The fire was over except for some tiny sparks in the woods while driving through, and everything came together beautifully for a grand adventure. Highlights included a tour of my old friend Dan's legendary "ahmond" farm, being lucky enough to have my pack carried up to Vogelsang by mule train, getting completely lost in the dark while following a short cut and finding our way back to where we should be going by literally following the north star and Jupiter, painting on the kitchen wall at Merced Lake camp, being woken by high winds and looming cows at the Mammoth Hot Springs, cruising through Santa Cruz (where I went to grad school 10 years ago) and hiking a total of about 35 high-altitude miles in Chacos.

Then a red-eye flight home and what felt like a 24 hour sleep, and a few days of getting back into regular life...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Big Meadow Fire

I am emerging from my cave, with apologies to all friends and family I was grumpy at this week. Another tall job with a short deadline, and that's all I need to say about that.

On more adventurous topics, now I can start to concentrate on the fact that I'm flying back to California on Sunday for another 10 day adventure in Yosemite! And this time it might start with more of an adventure that I was looking for, because there's a forest fire that's blocking the road that goes up to Tuolumne Meadows, where the trailhead I seek is located. To begin with, it's difficult to get to Tuolumne with public transportation (there's only one road, and the bus schedules don't mesh), and my angelic friends Dan and Mary Lee who live in Modesto were graciously planning on making a family adventure out of driving me up there...and all was going to be perfectly lovely and fun. But the Big Meadow Fire, a prescribed burn that got hugely out of control, is in the way and the road is closed from the west. One can drive in from the east, but it's a really really big circle. Something will work out though, and we can all keep our fingers crossed that the road might open again by Monday which would obviate all my current worries.

This all reminds me of one of my mannequin paintings. A few years ago my Dad scrounged some discarded store mannequins for me, and I used them for landscape canvas. Here's the forest fire.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Beebalm and delphinium

I've been such a busy little bee these last two weeks.  Here's the Quaker wedding certificate from last week, in watercolor and pen on 300 lb hot press watercolor paper.  The couple was happy with it, whew!

Might be visiting Gary's studio this afternoon to pick up my eldest niece's pottery, and then might be visiting Nancy's gallery in Groton to see the new location and check on my cards...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


It's morning, and I just had to toss Turtle the cat off the bed when he tried to steal my toast.  Gluten-free toast, not so exciting, but he seemed to be after the almond butter, the little weirdo.  There's a cool breeze coming in the window, the weather has turned beautiful after last weeks' heat.

Apologies for the dull technical tone of yesterday's blog entry, I know you're all reading this hoping for gossip and drama.  But sometimes this artist's life is full of dull things like font decisions.  Although sometimes it's full of things like...another trip to California in a few weeks!  Yes, going back to Yosemite, getting another dose of the beautiful high Sierras and the Left Coast.  Here are two more photos from my last trip, hopefully the marmot derriere will make up a little for yesterday's font lecture.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Font snob

I'm deep in the land of graphic design this week, working on a newsletter for the Friends of Montezuma Wetlands folks.  Files and articles have been coming in madly all weekends, and I've been sorting them out into a hopefully attractive and informative format.  It has been enjoyable, haven't had a good solid design project in a while.  The looming deadline (publish or perish by Friday) is keeping me going too.

So I've been making choices about heading fonts and paragraph styles and colors palettes, which makes me reflect on how passionate people are about fonts.  No exception here, I get downright surly when clients request fonts which make me itch.  Font choice is important, it communicates a lot beyond the words the letters are spelling out.  Casual, formal, calligraphic, too trendy, too dated...and often the "trendy" quickly turns into the "dated"...

I'm a little snobby about fonts, I admit.  Don't like fonts that are too dense, or too overused.  I avoid Apple Chancery (have you ever tried to read a paragraph written in this font?), Comic Sans, and Tekton.  I once received an email written entirely in Comic Sans, and it did not bode well for that line of communication.  Papyrus used to be a favorite, but everyone and their aunt Jane uses it now.  Ditto on Tempus Sans.  

Right now I tend towards using nice interesting-yet-readable fonts for paragraphs, fond of Futura or Gill Sans for sans serif, or Georgia and Garamond for serif.  Skia is nice, so is Bernhard Modern.  I like space around my letters.  Headline fonts: Zapfino (but it will probably go the way of Papyrus in a year or so) and Herculanum and something odd I found online called Old Copperfield.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A path in the woods

A quick little drawing/painting on a scrap bit of 300 lb watercolor paper.  I think this might be a first sketch for an etching, have been thinking quite a bit about making new etchings lately.

I'm working on a Quaker wedding certificate, and was so happy to find that the paper I had in the files is 300 lb rather than 140 lb...nice and heavy and rich, perfect for this.  The couple requested delphiniums, lavender and bee balm.  I hope to finish it by the weekend.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Another busy week.  I'm enjoying a perfect summer peach for breakfast, and realizing that what will all my teenage nieces visiting and other busy family stuff, I haven't blogged in ages.  Also, the only thing I've painted lately is my toenails, and that was a while ago too.  BUT, let me tell you about all the good books I have bookmarks in right now!  I read a little every day, it's my favorite way to rewire my brain.

Bookmarks are in:

1) "The Ionian Mission" by Patrick O'Brian.  Love that guy, high seas Napoleonic wars British Navy adventures very funny, I usually have one going all the time (there are 21 of them in the series).

2) "Ahab's Wife" by Sena Jeter Naslund.  I loved this book when I first read it a few years ago, couldn't put it down, well written and involving more high seas adventure.  I'm enjoying it the second time around, but not as much....still recommend it though!

3) "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" of course...see, I saw the latest movie last week and couldn't remember why it was ok in the end for Snape to kill Dumbledore, so I have to go back and read the next (and last) book to find out.

4) "Geek Love" by Katherine Dunn.  WOW, what a book, about a family of carnival freaks and their attendant craziness.  The author must have had a very fun time writing this.  Not best for reading before sleep, because it just keeps getting weirder and weirder.

My friend Debra just handed me "Twilight" yesterday, so I guess I'll read that pop phenom once I get through a few of these.  How about you?  Let me know what you're reading, I'm always looking for new books...!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New prints!

Just added some new small archival prints to my collection!  There are 5 of them, these are the first two which I've posted on Etsy (the others will be there within the week).  These little giclee prints are 3 x 3 inches, printed with archival inks on watercolor paper, and signed by me.  They're awfully cute, if I do say so myself, and I'm pleased to say that they are selling well at the market and amongst my friends.  Check them out!  And now that vacation time is over for a while, I intend to tend my Etsy site and post more goodies on a regular basis.  Hey, if you order from there and mention this blog entry, I'll add a extra bonus gift!

Speaking of calendars, it's time to start planning the 2010 calendar.  Already.  And also time to think about new Christmas card designs, but I find that difficult to do when it's 80 degrees outside.  

Monday, August 10, 2009

Talk about the weather

ARGH!  When I strolled out to let the chickens out this morning, I saw that my poor little veggie garden was half-flattened by that big rain storm last night!  Tomatoes were toppled, the lone surviving sunflower was on its side, the nasturtiums were no longer perky...I didn't look any further, but it seems that the gigantic thyme plant is the only thing that survived.  A cautious glance towards the flower bed was fairly discouraging too.  The garden has already been hit hard by rabbits, chickens, a huge groundhog, and too much rain.  It's been an odd summer in Ithaca, mostly kind of chilly and rainy.  Oh wait, it's ITHACA...of course it's chilly and rainy!  I only have a tan this summer because I went to California.

Yesterday afternoon, around 2:30 which is almost closing time for the market, a huge storm came sweeping down the lake and directly into our pavilion.  Fortunately I saw it coming and got the vulnerable unpackaged cards put away and some of the more wobbly displays, and our esteemed market manager came by with a giant tarp to throw over the rest of my display.  It was pretty spectacular though, tons of water coming in sideways and vendors scrambling to get their wares under cover.

Otherwise, it continues busy here, and summer (such as it is) is flying by.  My nieces from Oregon are visiting for 2 weeks, and we're having a good time.  Getting blueberries in the freezer.  A lot of card orders have been coming in (hurrah!), and I have a couple of biggish freelance projects on tap.

Here's a photo from California, blue skies with puffy clouds to balance out Ithaca's low grey ceiling.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

All the diamonds

All the diamonds in this world
that mean anything to me
are conjured up by wind and sunlight
sparkling on the sea

I ran aground in a harbor town
lost the taste for being free
thank God He sent some gull-chased ship 
to carry me to sea

Two thousand years and half a world away
dying trees still grow greener when you pray

Silver scales flash bright and fade
in reeds along the shore
Like a pearl in a sea of liquid jade
his ship comes shining
Like a crystal swan in a sky of suns
his ship comes shining

-Bruce Cockburn

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wee watercolor book

It's a whirlwind around here!  Haven't had a chance to turn around, let alone make a blog entry, since returning from Cali a week ago.  A week already?!?!  I really miss being there.  The Artists' Market was fun and successful, lovely down there on the Cayuga Lake waterfront in the evening, and tons of people turned out to shop and check out the art.  My canoe and I took another quick trip to the Adirondacks too, my annual college-friends-camping trip.  Beyond that, I'll just say it's been mad busy rather than give you a tedious list.  

BUT!  Here are some pages from my travel sketchbook from my Yosemite trip!  In the last few years I've discovered the pleasure of taking a wee sketchbook and watercolors along when traveling, and not trying too hard to make perfect complete paintings.  The latest incarnation of my travel kit contains a small Moleskine watercolor book (3x5 inches), a folding watercolor palette (holds colors from tubes), a small container for water, a nifty travel brush whose handle comes apart to make a very pleasing self-contained holder that protects the bristles, my favorite technical pencil, and a couple of brush-tip markers in shades of grey and brown.  These pages are views and trees from around Vogelsang.  

Friday, July 31, 2009

Artists' Market and Yosemite teaser

I am scrambling around this morning getting last minute things together before the long-awaited Ithaca Artists' Market which happens today from 2-8 PM at the market pavilion.  There will be around 60 other local artists, lots of food and wine and music and even a chocolate vendor.  So what if it's raining and thundering, stop in and shop for some fine local art!  Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing everyone else's work, it's a fun opportunity to see what my colleagues have been up to.  

Actually, I'm basically ready for it, but have some scrambling to do in order to get a few card orders in the mail.  I got back from Yosemite late late on Wednesday night and have been wading through the emails, while at the same time reassuring my lonely cats that I'm really back.

Speaking of Yosemite, I had a really amazing and fun and beautiful trip!!!  I was very sad to leave.  I will blog more thoroughly about it later when I have a little more leisure, but will post one teaser photo right now...this is one of the views from the Vogelsang High Sierra Camp, where I stayed.  Can you even believe it's real?  I swear that everywhere you look there it's perfect.  

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Hee hee hee, I am taking the day off from the Farmers' Market, and it feels deliciously wonderful to sleep late, listen to weekend NPR, and have the day to relax and prepare for my trip.  It all starts tomorrow with a 6 AM flight from Syracuse, which means leaving here at 3:30 AM...and the day tomorrow will end with a 7.5 mile hike into Vogelsang High Sierra Camp, which is over 10,000 feet...adventure beckons!

So all that to say, the blog will be quiet for a little while, but expect pretty photos when I return.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday is the new Tuesday

Ahhh, Friday evening, with the car all loaded up for market, the to-do list all crossed off, all the laundry and dishes done, and a sense of accomplishment after another week of working flat out.  I'm compressing five weeks of work into three because of my upcoming travel friends and family are probably considering sending out a search party because I've just been in non-social work zone.   Although with market tomorrow, my Friday night is like a normal person's, say, Tuesday night.

This weekend is a big capoeira event in NYC, a batizado, and many of the people in my group are going.  I'm sad to be missing it!  

I printed the Farmageddon shirts yesterday on the porch, they all turned out well.  Here are some photos of the process and the end result.  I find the most important thing is to keep my hands clean, so there aren't any smudgy fingerprints in random places on the shirts.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

At the Smart Monkey

Hey, I keep forgetting to let you (faithful readers and those who happen to be browsing here) know that my art is up at the Smart Monkey Cafe this month!  I'm downstairs, and Alice Muhlback is upstairs.  Or at least her art is.  These are many of the new paintings from the Korova show from earlier in the year, those fun little lino block prints, plus a few others from the archives.  But this time you can view them while eating tasty local organic food.

And while I'm making a sort of business-y post, I should mention the upcoming Artists' Market on July 31st, a Friday evening from 2-8 PM, down at the Farmers' Market pavilion.  It's a beloved Ithaca tradition, and this year the Friday evening time is different and allows the market to expand.  There will be 60 juried artists (me included), plus food, wine, chocolate, music, etc.  Please come.

On the gossipy front, the new chickens are settling into the flock with a minimum of fuss, and I am still working really really long hard days, because next Monday I fly off to California to spend 10 days in the backcountry in Yosemite (and I can barely wait)!

(here's me this afternoon at the Smart Monkey)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

You need a Farmageddon shirt

Lots of time on the computer this week, especially this morning....two wedding announcements to work on, a t-shirt design for a local winery, a capoeira print, lots of emails and Etsy updates and digital ducks in a row.  Am currently installed on the porch, which is kind of the living room extension during the summer months, so I can pretend to be outside while working, haHA!  Beautiful beautiful day!

Next week I have a completely different project on tap...silkscreening a second round of the legendary Farmageddon t-shirts!  The screen is being burned as I type (hopefully) and there's a giant pile of shirts in my kitchen awaiting printing.  I sometimes burn the screens myself but the chemicals are getting old, and setting up that complicated system with the 500 watt bulb and the glass and the dark room is tricky and doesn't always work.  If you want one of these shirts, let me know, there will be unisex (blue or rusty orange) and women's styles (pink or light blue) and they will be $15.  Guaranteed to get comments.

(Farmageddon was a big party that my friend Thor threw on his farm a few years ago as a benefit for the local low-income CSA program.  Lots of music and food, very fun time.  The shirts were a big hit, and went fast, so this at long last is a second chance to get one.)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chickpea curry

If you came here from Gary's blog, here's that chickpea curry he's talking about!  (recipe courtesy of my pals Kendra and Peter):

2 cans (19oz each) chickpeas

1/4c vegetable oil

generous pinch asafetida

1t cumin seeds

1 med-small onion, peeled and chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1/4c canned chopped tomatoes

2t peeled, finely grated ginger

1 1/4c prepared black tea (we like Lap Sang Su Shong)

1 to 2 hot green chilis, cut into fine rounds

1t salt

2t ground toasted cumin seeds

1t garam masala

3-4T coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

1T lemon juice

Rinse and drain chickpeas.

Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add asafetida and cook for a few seconds. Add cumin seeds and cook for 15 seconds, Add onion and cook until onion turns quite brown. Add garlic and cook until golden. Add tomatoes and cook until they turn dark and thick. Add ginger, stir well. Add chickpeas and remaining ingredients. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Appetizing, indeed!

The informative directions, on my new bag of rice noodles.  I heart the Asian grocery store!

"Egret Brand Tung-Kow rice vermicelli is a traditional diet made of choice rice, white and smooth, soft but tough threads and easy cooking are favourable for pot-luck, for entertainment of guests or for use as a gift.

Suggestions for cooking: (1) Frying: after softening the vermicelli in boiling water, take out to fry along with sauteed dainty ingredients until well done, (2) Boiling: fry the aforesaid ingredients to half-done, put in boiling water at the bubble, and gether the sqftened vermicelli to simmer until fully cooked, (3) Deepfrying: after frying in boiling oil for 1-2 minutes, it is crisp and savoury and when coordinated with congee or other diet, it is appetizing, indeed!"

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Flew the coop

So out here in the country we take our excitement where we can get it.  Those who follow my blog, or even those who drop in occasionally looking for stories about the life of a freelance artist and maybe some recent nice paintings, know that I have a small flock of chickens who are apparently my main source of entertainment.  I try not to talk too much about them, but there are two recent tales that beg telling, and I also promised Werner and Rob that there'd be some good reading on here tonight.

Story 1: A few days ago I drove back into my driveway, and the girls came waddling down to greet me as usual.  I think this is pretty funny, so I usually encourage this behavior with a handful of corn.  I went over to the feedbag, in an old beat-up metal trash can, and grabbed a handful of corn to scatter.  Then I reached in again, and instead of corn, much to everyone's surprise I grabbed a chipmunk.  

Story 2: The original flock of six hens has dwindled to four (Gladys disappeared, Dorothy faded away and eventually had to be dispatched by my farmer boy housemate...leaving Martha, Clara, Ruth and Ethel), so I decided to get two more to round out the number again.  A friend at the farmers' market had extra, so she offered to bring me a couple of hens in exchange for some notecards.  Hurrah for the barter system!  

Susan brought two lovely Silver-Laced Wyandotts to me at market in a pet carrier, and I brought them to their new home on Saturday.  Now, Saturday was an extremely busy day at the market, the Fourth of July and nice weather and TONS and TONS of people....we looooove profitable days like that at market, but I was absolutely reeling from the crowds and from talking to too many people, completely knackered.  I wanted to shut the new girls in the coop for a few days so they knew where home was, so my plan was to pop them in the coop and then go take a big fat nap.  But I reached into the carrier to grab a chicken, and she pecked me!  A-ha, I said, I'll just take the top off the carrier and pick them up and pop them in the coop that way, and go on with the nap plan!  However, when I took the lid off, instead of sitting docilely and waiting to be installed in the coop, they flew out in a big flurry and headed for the piney woods.  I started to chase them, yelling unpleasant things about chickens, and of course they just went deeper into the bushes.  I threw out some corn (sans chipmunks) which got their attention for a minute but didn't really lure them back.  My housemate and her baby came out to join the fun.  After a little while of this, being so tired and grumpy and now covered in bits of the piney woods, I decided to just leave them be...they knew there was corn to be had, and anyway chickens always calm down when it gets dark and perhaps I could do the scoop-and-install plan when they were asleep.

Chickens are not very smart, but they ARE concerned about their self-preservation.  In the end, they both settled nervously into the coop all on their own at dusk, and one of them laid an egg.  The original flock was a little nervous too, but this morning all seemed fairly peaceful if a little extra raucous.  This afternoon they were all sticking fairly well together, checking out the compost and the birdfeeder...but still eyeing each other skeptically as you can see from the photo.  It will be interesting to see how they settle themselves out, and who will become alpha.  They are provisionally named Mildred and Agnes.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Smoke and oakum

It's been a very productive few days, on the heels of last week's sloth and indolence...and camping and friends visiting, and shopping, and la la la.  I sat down on Monday and made a very detailed plan of attack for the week, with tasks to be completed each day before sleeping, and am pleased to say I'm cracking on like smoke and oakum (as Jack Aubrey is always saying in those Patrick O'Brian novels I read so often).  I spent yesterday afternoon with my etching press, oh how I love my sweet etching press, and today pulled the prints out of the blotting paper and hung them out to finish drying on the clothesline on the porch.  Makes for interesting blog photos too, no?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Welcome to the world of Etsy

Hey, after all the talk, I'm finally on Etsy!  I just posted my first few items for sale, concentrating on some notecard sets.  But eager to add more things over this next week, as I continue to sort out how to get some good photos etc.  Here is my set of wee gift cards.

Check it out here!
Or more directly, the website is  And tell your friends...and check back often because there will be lots more on there soon...

Otherwise, it seems that when the summer season really hits, my blog suffers as I become busier with such things as:
a) working frantically on keeping my farmers' market booth fully stocked 
b) continuing with the freelance projects, which just ramped up again
c) summer also equals wedding announcement work for all those happy couples!
d) having fun outside!  storing some rare Ithaca sunshine in my bones for the winter

(What is Etsy, you ask?  It's an online marketplace for artisans like me, there are tons and tons of interesting things on there, from clothing to pottery to toys to soaps to original art to vintage items, etc etc.  I just purchased a couple of catnip toys shaped like eyeballs, for example.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Forked Lake

I just got back from a few days in the Adirondacks, for my annual June trip with my pal Jean Elizabeth...she celebrates her birthday at Forked Lake, and I join her when I can get away.  If any of you are looking for a beautiful camping place this summer, definitely check out Forked Lake, it's located between Blue Mountain Lake and Long Lake.  The caretaker, Ted, is a great guy too.  I took my lovely little solo canoe (her name is the Nutmeg of Consolation, after a Patrick O'Brian book), and we had the coveted small island site.  Not much happened, except for a windy expedition down the inlet between Forked Lake and Raquette Lake.  Here's a photo of as far as we got in the canoe, to where the river turned into a small impassible rocky stream.  Great spot for lunch, and it would be a great spot for a swim too except the water was mighty cold.

On the way home, my efforts at tying on the canoe slacked, and I had to keep stopping and securing.  It's a newish car, you see, and all of these systems need to be worked out...

On the art front, the quest to join Etsy continues, I took a lot of photos of my cards today and designed my banner.  I also sent cards to a new store in Stone Harbor, NJ.  The store is named Alice, and I'm pretty excited about being part of their collections!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Travel sketchbook

Yup, it's a computer-y day for me, two blog entries and research into the brave new world of getting my car packed up for market this weekend.  I should be working on that label project, which I will do next, before heading over to Gary's studio to learn how to make mug handles.  Then off to dinner at my favorite Ithaca restaurant (Just a Taste, yummy...those garlic braised greens are to die for!) with a birthday friend, and there's big talk of catching some African music at the State later!

Since I'm scanning things today, here's a page from the larger of my traveling watercolor sketchbooks, with a recent quick painting from my time in Michigan a few weeks ago.  This is one of my favorite spots on the Au Sable land.  I love these brush tip markers and quick watercolor washes.

So yeah, I'm on the verge of being on Etsy...will keep you posted...


Scenes like this are not uncommon around my house when I'm trying to get work done.  I have several small graphic design jobs to work on, and I don't mind computer work so much when it's raining outside.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

So much thyme on my hands

I just got the garden weeded yesterday, so here it is.  Please note the gigantic thyme plant in the foreground, it was so tiny last year and now I'm trying to sort out how to divide and conquer it.  Other than thyme, my garden contains: salad mix, swiss chard, various basils, assorted tomatoes (including sungolds and brandywines), a couple kinds of yummy summer squash, sweet bell peppers, nasturtiums, a few kale varieties, and marigolds.  I have some sunflowers started and will plant them soon, once they are too big to be tempting to chipmunks.

All this yard and garden work, no wonder I haven't been inside blogging.  Summer is really coming to Ithaca now.  In my opinion, June is about as beautiful as it gets, warm but not too hot, cool nights, those first swims of the year, early season bike rides.  This makes up for the dismal grey of November just a little.  Strawberries are in season too...

And while I'm on the bucolic theme, here's my chickens in the compost pile too.  They're better than TV, really.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It sits in the center and knows

What's up with the spiral imagery in my paintings, anyway?  I get asked this all the time at the Farmers' Market.  It's kind of complicated and organic, so here's a cliff-note style summary of how the spiral fits in my personal iconography.

The first time I really became aware of spiral imagery was during a family vacation to the west coast, where we stopped at some petroglyphs in New Mexico.  There was one image of a line of people dancing under a huge spiral.  This resonated with my worldview and faith, and stuck with me.  Next, a few years later I was painting a chair for a friend of mine in Oregon, and had some extra paint, so I signed the piece with my handprint on the underside, and noticed that a spiral would tuck nicely into the space in the palm.  Hmmm...a logo is hand and my creativity in one image.  Then I started seeing this hand-and-spiral design everywhere, in many native traditions around the world.  THEN I started putting it into my paintings, usually under some point I realized that in these paintings the spiral meant the life coming from the earth and growing into the trees.  On a more shallow level, spirals simply make a really nice design element, sometimes art just looks cool and doesn't necessarily have a deep meaning.

I make one of these stone spirals on the lake beach outside my cabin in Michigan every year.

In other news, I've been back from vacation since Friday night, after a long drive, a tiring evening of packing for market, a busy weekend of selling cards, and now a few days of generally getting my house, garden, business, and life back in order (shedding cats!).  Took down my show at Korova on Monday too.  Summer is here!  I jumped in a creek yesterday.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Au Sable again

OK ok, this is just a funny photo, working in the kitchen is actually very fun.  Not to mention sanitary, well-lit, and non-violent.  

I spent much of the morning today working on another letter to the Au Sable board of directors.  They are meeting this weekend, and will be again discussing the future of this place.  In a nutshell, they are in dire financial straights, and almost decided to shut down, since the endowment has been decimated without anyone really knowing it.  There's been a fierce reaction from former students and staff and academic partners, saying how Au Sable can't close.  New plans are in place, and some fundraising efforts, all of which have managed to keep it limping along.  Obviously, since I drive 10-13 hours each way and spent my vacation time here not being paid to work in a kitchen every year, I care about this place and love being here.  There are trees here who I consider to be friends.  If I were rich, I'd give them more money, but I'm not so instead I make dinner.  If you'd like to read more, or wish to learn about donating, please check here.  

I've been having lots of deep thoughts lately about paradigm shifts.  But I need to go work the dinner shift, so that will have to wait until next time.  ha ha ha!  That's a cliffhanger if I ever heard one!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Not much to say, still on vacation

Vacation continues.  I'm on page 500 or so of "Cryptonomicon" (that would be the thick Neal Stephenson book I was referring to a few days ago), have explained to at least 15 people individually and at tediously-for-me great length why I'm avoiding gluten or sugar, baked some killer breadsticks (which I didn't eat), biked again, ran around the lake, spent some time in the woods with my watercolor sketchbook, went to bed one night before it was properly dark out...

...and held a bananiera for THREE SECONDS!  That's a capoeira handstand, been practicing for months and it's coming slowly...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rainy woods

It's raining here, and I am feeling like I'm on vacation.  I was up early to work the breakfast shift this morning, but then biked back to my cabin and took a long nap for the rest of the morning, listening to the rain and enjoying a day truly OFF.  "Off" in a good way, that is.  Took a walk, made some sketches, wrote part of a letter, and started in on a very thick Neal Stephenson novel in the afternoon.  

Here's a photo of a bit of my mural (it's a whole hallway), plus the rainy woods.  The photo doesn't do justice to the contrast between the dark trunks and the absolutely vivid almost absinthe green of the leaves.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Michigan adventure, part 1

I'm writing today from the dining hall at Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies, a familiar place to some of you readers.  I was a student here while in college, then spent two summer working on a mural and in the kitchen, and now I've been coming here for my spring vacation for the last several years.  I'm kitchen staff while here, but it's really all about being in the woods and on the trails, making some art and reading books, and hanging out with cool environmentally-aware people.  I will post photos of the mural in the next few days, I can see it from where I'm sitting but do not have the camera handy. 

I arrived last night, after a very long day in the car.  The drive should take about 10 1/2 hours, including a straight shot through Canada.  I packed up Sadie (my mountain bike) and lots of art supplies along with my clothes and whatnot, and hit the road in shockingly good time at 8:06 AM.  All went very well until I realized that the book on CD I was listening to was putting me to sleep and so I stopped to take a nap at a rest area near London.  Refreshed, I put in some Brazilian lounge music, and cruised happily along until getting stuck in border traffic in Sarnia/Port Huron...two hours!  Somewhere around the "I've been in the car for 11 hours" point I started singing along with Emmylou Harris really loudly.  But all's well, I arrived around 8:45, with the sun still shining in these northern latitudes, and pulled into the driveway at Au Sable accompanied by a huge rush of nostalgia.

Places are very important to me, I become attached to the land and woods in places that I love.  That keeps me coming back here year and after year.