Sunday, July 30, 2006

WAR IS A NO WIN SITUATION

This child is lucky. She is alive. She survived her gestation, her birth, and has made it to almost two. However, her emotional scars may be many due to the condition of her mother. Alanna is my granddaughter, conceived on a battlefield in Iraq by my daughter, nearly miscarried and almost aborted due to Army "error" and "neglect". Her mother is emotionally scarred with PTSD and many other unexplainable physical problems that remain untreated. Perhaps they will both be lucky. Maybe my daughter will find treatment for her physical conditons that will work and allow her to live a long and productive life. Maybe she will seek treatment for the nightmares that plague her and the demons that chase this 22 year old girl who was "found" by a modeling agent but chose to serve her country. It was a choice that she, her daughter, my husband and I, and others in her life will pay dearly for the rest of their lives.

For what? For lies, deception, for greed, for power.

I am angry-no I am FURIOUS.

What inspired this diatribe is the headlines that 34 children were killed in Lebanon today. We can send a rocket to the moon and bring it back. We have technology that is beyond most of our imaginations, but humankind can't figure out how to play nicely. I am disgusted with all the countries that have no value for human life.It is barbaric. And the US of A is guilty of partaking in this cycle of violence and murder.

I have always been an optimist and I believe in the good in people and in honesty.Yet I am struggling with my beliefs when I see what is going on in the world. I am not politically educated, though I try to be. It is so complicated that I would have to spend my life studying politics to sift through the propoganda on both sides and find the truth in between the lines. But it does not take a rocket scientist to see how we are destroying the earth and one another every single day.

I believe in kharma. I hope I am not around when our kharma comes back on us. Some religious groups say the world is ending. My 82 year old neighbor believes that the signs are all there and she is ready to go to a place of peace and love.

Tomorrow's post is another zine review. Today I felt so strongly about this that talking about art seemed trite. Thank you for the ear, and put love into the world.

Patti

Saturday, July 29, 2006

LAST KNOWN ADDRESS

Last Known Address by Niku had me engaged from the very start with the stories that relate Niku's moves to different states and countries. As someone who has moved many times, I could so relate to the house hunting, the struggles to make something less than perfect a place of peace and safety.

Niku's descriptive writing was captivating, and the way she portrayed it on the page gave it an even more interesting edge. The drawings, stampings, and little retro enclosures were really fun and spunky. Her variation in type and placement as well as combining handlettering with typewriter was fresh. I enjoyed the little mini zines that were in the book. She starts out in Michigan, then lands in Canada, Belgium, Minnesota, North Carolina, and is now in Texas.

Niku sounds like a really cool woman as she lives a full and creative life, as is evident in her writing. I wish her the best and hope that she found a wonderful place to live with her partner, and that someday we get another installment of her life in a zine! I would like to hear more about her involvement with Ms. Films and her travels and her art of living!

5.75" c 6", printed on colored papers, hand bound, and the painted key on the end gave a nice touch! Thanks Niku for the most entertaining read!

patti

Friday, July 28, 2006

BACK HOME AGAIN

I got back late last evening from my little mini vacation to visit my friend at the cape with another friend. We had a blast! We went whale watching, which was splendid, and we saw many humpbacks quite close frolicking in the ocean. It was breathtaking! We played in Provincetown, drinks and dinner at the Mews for a few hours, then hours of shopping and wandering the bustling streets. The air was warm and breezy and we were feeling soooo fine. Walks on the beach at sunset and shopping in boutiques. I love the Health Food store in Orleans; it carries wonderful Anti-Bush collaged cards and my all time favorite card company, Three Bad Mice from England. I purchased two books which I will review soon, THE CREATIVE LICENSE by Danny Gregory, and THE WRITER'S WORKSHOP IN A BOX. I am really digging this blogging, and it is time I honed my skills.

Of course I came back to 250 emails and orders and conversations, and spent today catching up with business and not writing my next review of zines. That will be for tomorrow's morning cup o' java!

Patti

The watercolor was done at my picnic table looking at the sun setting in my neighborhood.

Monday, July 24, 2006

ZINE: Plastic Dino

Now this zine took me right back to my childhood, and to my children's childhood, and it will become part of my granddaughters childhood. PLASTIC DINO was published for the Gleaner Group summer swap by Val Roberts. The zine is 4 x 5.5" in size, is printed on a nice cardstock, the illustrations and text printed onto the stock and then hand colored with watercolors, gouache and shimmery paints, and has an envelope of inclusions!

The illustrations are delightful, and the details in the painting so much FUN. Val relates to us the history of her plastic dino collecting, starting with the visit to the Sinclair Dinoland Exhibit with Granddaddy Roberts in 1967 where she got to see plastic dinos produced and got her own warm plastic hot-off-the-press dino. It was the start of a lifelong love affair with her dinos. She tells her story of collecting in a fun and humorous manner. I especially related to the Dino Raygun (I bought one for Alanna for Christmas last year) and the story about Bob, her class dinosaur mascot who turned up missing one day. I cracked up over the WANTED poster that she designed. I now need to find a dino that has sparks that fly out of its mouth when you wind it up just like her hers.

Val includes an envelope of dino-goodies. One of those capsules that you put in water and a sponge or plastic dino appears. I will save that for Alanna's bath time. There are dino cards, a dino bookmark, dino stickers and a wooden dino that I am going to make into a magnet. Alanna loves to play with magnets on the fridge.

Val tapped into the childhood of my past and the childhood I now live through my little granddaughter. It is always a gem of a creation when something can take me there and this zine will be part of my collection for a very long time.

Val can be contacted at varoberts@aol.com

Please visit my Etsy and eBay links for zines, cards, and antique ephemera for collage!

Thanks for visiting! Patti/Pootie

Sunday, July 23, 2006

HINTS FOR MAKING ZINES


I am so thankful to all the yahoo groups that I have been on over the past six years as I have worked with some of the best artists, teachers and thinkers. Everyone, including myself, at some point in time, was a newbie and started at ground zero. (isn't it fascinating that words like "newbie" and "ground zero" are words used primarily in this decade?) The generosity of others has astounded me, especially since many of us do not get to meet the people we talk to on an almost daily basis. I am honored and appreciative. Thank you all!

As with anything we do, we strive to do our absolute best. Sometimes we don't know how to get there, and others take us by the hand and show us the path or makes us aware of options. I have struggled and pushed myself to complete swaps, books, cooperative works and other challenges over the past years. I have encountered many problems along the way and have done a few projects which I was not happy with, but in order to meet my obligations, sent them in anyway. A majority of my work however, has been the best that I could do, and for that I am proud. We learn by our mistakes and move forward.

In having been in a few zine swaps, I have noticed some things that are of most importance in creating a zine that we put out into the world. I worked furiously hard on the ones I have made, encountering steep learning curves in Photoshop, printing problems, binding problems and agonized over my writing. I have spent much time thinking about the problems and pitfalls that myself and others have encountered, and felt I should share this with other zinesters. (another new word!)
Below are some guidelines that I want to share. Also, I am one who likes to get the biggest BANG for my buck, so those hints will be there too.

Paper: use the appropriate paper for the job. If you are printing a double sided page, make sure the paper is of the appropriate weight. You don't want your images to be showing through to the other side. Copy machine paper is fine for a zine that does not have any inclusions or attachments, but if you are adding things besides ink to you page, consider a heavier weight paper or cardstock. Or, you can mix and match papers, as long as you use the right papers for the job to be done. I print my zines myself for the most part and in full color. I have an Epson C88 printer, which rocks...and found the best paper ----at Sam's Club. Royal Brites PHOTO PAPER, Matte. 200 sheets are 25.00 or so for the box. That is about .13 cents a sheet. It is heavy so you can print on both sides, without a problem! It only comes in white of course, but I bet you could stain it, paint it lightly etc. and then print on it. (hmmm..something else for me to experiment with!)

Inclusions/Illustrations: make sure that you are using copyright free images OR text in your zine. Images taken from the internet without permission unless stated public domain or copyright free are not wise for two reasons. 1) they are usually low resolution and don't look great, and 2) it might be illegal. When in doubt, leave it out. I am not a copyright expert, have taken a seminar in it, and don't want you to be misguided by my information. I use images that are earlier than 1920. That way, I can alter them, print them, scan them, send as inclusions without fear of violating the law. Better to be safe than sorry. If I have any doubt ie: Maxfield Parish pictures, or modern photos of public domain art, then I don't use it. In my previous zine, OBSESSIONS, I wanted to use some information from a website in England. I wrote to the author who did not get back to me right away, and I just put in his website addy as I was on a deadline and could not wait for him to respond. That way others could still research the info themselves. He did get back to me after the zine was finished, and said that he had no problem with my quoting him. I will keep this in mind for future zines. Copyright is very complex and I don't have the energy or time to devote to it here, but am willing to help out in any way if you want to write me.

RESOLUTION: if you are printing out your zine to either bring to the printer OR printing your zine yourself, or printing up inclusions to be used by others in their work, print it at 300 DPI and on the best paper you can afford. I have been enclosing antique papers, but not all can do that. Make sure items are copyright free, print on great paper at a minimum of 300 DPI. I used Durabrite inks so I know they won't run or fade if someone used it in their own work too. If your inks are fugitive, or not waterproof, or if you don't know, then don't print up your own inclusions. The most upsetting thing is to be using a piece in a work of art, you coat it with an adhesive or finish, and it all runs!!!

SPELLING/GRAMMAR: I agonize over this in my blog and in my zines. The first obvious hint is to use spell check, but remember spell check doesn't catch all errors. It won't catch the difference between altars (shrines) and alter, as in change. Big difference in meanings. I read and re-read the zine over and over, then give it to others to proof. I read it out loud to myself and often catch mistakes that way. I have caught errors in many magazine articles and books, and proofing is a tough but necessary job. You don't want great art with poor writing. Keep it simple if writing is not your forte, but make sure that it is as good as you can make it.
You would not want to do a collage depicting Leonardo da Vinci and accidently use images of Michelangelo instead to portray him, unless you intent was to be humorous or to make him turn over in his grave! (they hated one another) When writing I keep on online dictionary/thesaurus open all the time.

BINDING: I have tried a few different bindings on my zine. A simple sewn binding is good for a small zine, I used it in my EAT MAN DRINK WATER. It was chapbook sized publication; too small for comb or spiral binding. So I used my Dremel and drill press attachment to drill 3 holes, used a upholstery needle and heavy waxed thread OR antique thick silk embroidery floss to make a simple binding. If you don't mind spending a little money, you can have them spiral or comb bound at Staples or Office Depot. My OBSESSIONS zine fit 2 to a small comb, and cost me 1.29 for the both. That was affordable. Heavy staples work well too. I am not a binding expert, but just make sure that your text and images are set up to allow the 1/4" needed for binding, whether you use comb or staples. Recently I had a problem with Staples as they punched into the text. I had never had that happen before, and I had done plenty of comb bindings. Guess it happens from time to time.....but I was not happy!

CONFIDENCE IN YOURSELF: DO NOT DO NOT apologise about your work saying this is the first zine that you did and you hope it is ok and you would do it better next time etc. Have faith in your work and in yourself. We all make mistakes. We learn, we move on. Many of you first time zinsters have done the most amazing jobs and I would not have known it was your first effort. I noticed others have done things like Vol 1 Issue 1..which tells me that they might be new at this, or this is the first issue and volume of a new idea. That is ok. I also like how people number their zines 3/7 etc. Perhaps it is my own pet peeve, and forgive me for it, but have confidence in yourself. Remember that song I HAVE CONFIDENCE! sung by Julie Andrews?
Was that in the Sound of Music? I am really dating myself here, LOL.

I am sure that there is more I could talk about, but I have covered a lot of ground here. I hope that this has helpful and I appreciate feedback.

Tomorrow back to another zine review.

All material here is copyrighted by the author. If you would like to use it in any publication or work, please contact me! Thanks! Patti

PS you can view my zines on Ebay and Etsy, links to the right of this page!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

ZINE: ArTchemy

ArTchemy: The transmutation of any item into art by Debrynda Davey was done for the Gleaner Zine Summer Swap.

This zine is a visual delight, well written, and is very well laid out. Clean and crisp, printed on nice heavy stock and is 5.5 x 8.5", bound with comb binding which is embellished with a fiber and gem.

Debrynda equates making art with the magic of the alchemy; the conversion of one substance into another. She discusses her love of making backgrounds, which is pure alchemy in and of itself; using diverse, sometimes unlikely materials to create a final surface upon which to work. She has graciously shared parts of her collection with us by using them in mini works of art which are carefully mounted throughout the zine. She also provides us with delightful HIGH QUALITY inclusions with which we can make our own art, as well as a board to make it upon! I can't wait to use them!

I was fascinated by the section on symbols and delighted by the web info for reference. I know I will be using this site in teaching my art classes! Thanks for sharing that!

I enjoyed the text which provides the reader with information about alchemy, an area which employed the sciences, philosophy, art, medicine, and religion. What struck me most was the fact that besides wanting to turn other metals into silver and gold, alchemists "wanted to create a universal panacea--a cure for all diseases so people would live indefinately" Art is a panacea for many of us, a balm for the emotions and turmoil that exists inside the soul.

Debrynda is an alchemist who has taken simple pieces of paper/images/text and turned them into a gem of a book!! For futher infomation she can be contacted at brendee2002@yahoo.com.

THANK YOU DEBRYNDA!

I will be reviewing a zine a day. I may be offline for a few days, but then will pick up the reviews when I am back online.

PS: Visit my Etsy link to the right of this blog to get a glimpse of the zine that I produced for this swap!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Repose


I have not posted in a while as I have had a guest and three people involved at one point in my life died on the same day. I have been spending time celebrating their life in a way that is joyful and honors the good that they did for the world. Though I am sad for the loved ones they have left behind, I know they are at peace and without pain.

Repose is the act of resting or the state of being at rest, freedom from worry,peace of mind, calmness, and finally, tranquillity. It sounds like a good state to be in these days, with the pain that life flings to us from all sides.

I am spending much of my time seeking repose, and hopefully I will find it BEFORE leaving this earth. The women who passed found this peace in their lives through God, family,friends, and the beauty of nature. I am trying to follow a similar path, with the help of a good therapist and Al Anon.

I want to follow up more on these thoughts, but I am weary and my body needs rest.

I will be reviewing zines in my future posts from the Gleaner swap. I am amazed at the talent, vibrancy, honesty and sharing that these zines impart. They are mini works of art that have brought me joy the past few days in my rare moments of quiet and contemplation.

Till tomorrow, Patti

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Living is Easy


I am a pool ho and I am not ashamed to admit it. (I don't know how you spell "ho", but I bet if I asked my students they could tell me.) I don't have a pool, can't justify it in my budget.

I used to LOVE LOVE LOVE the heat when I was younger, but now as I age and my hormomes become a bit shakey, I have less tolerance for the heat, and the humid hot days of the northeast KILLS ME. That means I might hurt you if you take the last bag of my favorite chips, or cut me off in traffic.

I don't have central air either. Many of us here in the northeast don't, and those of us that live in older houses shut all the windows to try and keep the cooler night air in till we can't stand the stale air.

There is nothing like floating around in a pool on a raft with a drink or a bottle of water in hand. I am spoiled as I have several friends who have lovely inground pools where I can escape to once in a while when I just can't take it anymore, or they invite me over. I always carry a suit or a change of clothes, and a towel in the car, ready for any water action adventure that I might encounter. I have been known to hike up mountains out west in 100 degree weather as long as I knew there was a stream or a pool in which to dip.

I will help you cook, clean, walk the dog, clean the pool, ANYTHING to get a dip in your water. Well, almost anything. For THAT I get a season's pass. (only kidding Larry)

Today's photo was taken in New Jersey at a great seafood restaurant in north Belmar. We stay at the Morning Dove Inn. It is a wonderful place..and it is only a block from the beach.

Off to the docs---and then to a pool. Today it is 95 degrees...and Gina called me up for a dip. I have bought a bottle of wine and am going to head up there soon.

Cheerio, stay cool! Patti

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Into the Storms


On the way out TO the Cape I had done the first half of the year's tax entries in my log book. I felt rather smug being that I am a woman who had filed double extensions for years. The trip home left me wondering...dare I pull out the paints? I had not picked up my watercolors in quite a while and I find riding in the car on long trips conducive to painting as I can pass the time while Larry drives, practicing my sketching, painting, and perception skills. Often I paint what I see on the journey, which necessitates a keen interpretation and a fast brush. I carry a watercolor paint box, a package of Strathmore watercolor postcards, a small box of brushes, and a bottle of water, all of which fit into a gallon size baggy, easily tossed into the back seat of the car, or in my large Ameribag.

The fear of making art that might not be good has left everything it it's bag far too many times as of late. Is it fear of making a mistake, ruining paper, or making art that no one would like that makes is so? This fear quickly dissipated as I became familiar again with my loved paintbox. I told myself "I am not painting for anyone, just for myself".

After a stop at the Cape outlets, we headed onto 495 and headed right into the worst storms I have ever been in while on the road. Storm after storm with intense lightning, blinding rain and wind made driving almost impossible. Cars pulled off the side of the road, and traffic slowed to a crawl. Trucks were sending rivers into our windshield and much of the time we could not see the road, nevermind the exit signs. We would drive for 20 minutes in an intense storm, then it would get a bit brighter, we would breathe a sigh of relief before we got pounded again.

495 WENT ON FOREVER. When I could see the road signs they seemed unfamiliar. Geez, isn't the Mass Turnpike exit coming up? I started getting suspicious and by the time I could say...let's get out the road map, we were in New Hampshire. We had missed the exit for the turnpike an hour back.

We pulled into this small gas station in a tiny town with huge fancy houses, and inquired about the quickest way back to the Pike. "Oh, about 45 minutes or so and you take 290 through Worchester, and then you can get the pike." We had now added 2 hours onto a 4.5 hour trip.

At any rate, we were safe, and if need be we could stay overnight somewhere, or just drive home, which is what we did. We got a splendid view of Worchester in between storms, and once we crossed over into New York, the skies cleared and the ride home was splendid. (thank God we get something for our taxes..LOL) All was well when we got home and I thanked the great thunder god for our safe trip home. *a glimpse of him below*. Oh and I got my watercolors lust back, thanks to the storms.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Salt Marsh Trail OR the trail better not traveled


Some paths are better left unwalked. Forget the proverbial "take the road less traveled". Some are just plain dangerous.

Our hosts were gracious having spent two days taking us around so that we would become familiar with the roads and sites on the Cape. One of the journeys was to Eastham to the Salt Marsh Visitor's Center and Museum/Gift Store. It is a lovely place, equipped with the latest in toilets and sinks that are built to conserve water and keep harmful gases from entering the soil beneath. The visitor's center was quite lovely; it had a clean and spacious theater with various informative films such as one about the geography of the Cape, another about Thoreau's love affair with the area, and a few more we did not see. There is a nice little museum with arts and crafts of the sea such as sailor's valentines, scrimshaw, whaling and fishing tools, a natural history area , as well as the proverbial gift shop which actually had some really nice things. I love giving money to gift shops, especially when it benefits organizations that are dedicated to the research and preservation of the land.

One day we were on our own and decided to hike the salt marsh trails. From the Visitor's Center they had appeared to be wide lolling trails, meandering for a mile or so around the marsh. It was hot so we wore our shorts, flip flops, and took our paints and cameras.

Off down the path we went..it was a path of sand and stones, and was easy going, which is important for me as my ankle is not 100% healed. We arrived at a T and met an older couple who told us NOT TO GO TO THE RIGHT as it was bad and dead-ended. We went to the left.

As we walked along the marsh, the path became narrower. The foliage became very thick, and poison ivy started to appear along the edge of the path. I am HIGHLY allergic to it, so I was careful to walk in the center of the path. As we descended into the brush, the bugs appeared out of their hiding places and decided that some lunch had appeared in their territory. Flies and bees, and probably the unseen and feared ticks followed us down along the path and started lining the underside of Larry's white "bush hat" and became entangled in my long hair. We walked quite a way; the poison ivy got thicker and thicker soon filling up the fields. I felt like I was covered in bugs, and realized that putting on Aveda essential flower oils made me a tasty meal. Finally something other than poison ivy lined the path...lovely tall wildflowers with large purple heads. Upon closer look I discovered that there were COLONIES of bees swarming them. Panic struck. I stared sweating and decided I could no longer continue.

By this time Larry was freaking about the bugs and the overgrowth of poison ivy, so we turned back. As we were heading back, the path appeared narrower. WAS IT THIS NARROW ON THE WAY DOWN I PONDERED??? Wait, WHY WAS THERE POISON IVY CRAWLING OVER THE PATH...IT WAS NOT THERE EARLIER.

I began to sweat even more. I felt like a character in a Stephen King novel. it reminded me of the vignette about the alien life that starts to grow in the guys house (played by Stepehn himself). Was it my imagination, or had the ivy and brush grown even more? The bugs were unbearable by now. I walked faster than I have in a year till I got back to the wider path. My heart was pounding. I was far ahead of Larry who was having his own difficulties as he was carrying a camera on a tripod.

I know there were rabbits and tons of butterflies and birds, but I had spent my time swatting bugs and watching out for the poison ivy and my nature watching was dramatically curtailed. And I never stopped to paint.

As we breathed a sigh of relief, two bubbly women appeared in long pants, hats, armed with bug spray and boots. They were going hiking they said...in the marsh. They had hiked there before and were ready for the trip. Obviously they were not tourists like us, who had no concept of how to prepare for the marshes.

When I think back, I feel rather silly. Flip flops and shorts. RIGHT. Oils of flowers smeared around my neck. REAL SMART.

I did do a painting. From a bench in the open by the center. And, the little cartoon at the beginning of my entry gave me a chuckle.

AND...we warned all the other underprepared people we met on the path.....not to go into the Twilight Zone.

Tomorrow...the ride home from hell. Ciao for now.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

AM OFF TO THE CAPE FOR A FEW DAYS, HORRAY!!!! Since we had to cancel our vacation last year due to my broken ankle, we have not had more than one day away together in a few years. I will be searching for junk at the flea market in Wellfleet (I think) or combing the beach, or reading the rest of The Time Travelers Wife which has taken me forever to read, though it is a fabulous book. The Kite Runner is next and since I am a passenger in the car I will try and start my taxes. It is a long ride. I will be back in a few days as I don't think there is a computer there..though I might be wrong on that account.......

Thursday, July 06, 2006

An Old Fashioned 4th

I spent part of the 4th of July quietly in my studio making cards and putting the finishing touches on my zine. It was a peaceful day, I really did not think too much about it being the 4th. Later on that evening my friends and I got some sushi to go, make a lush salad from my garden, grilled a few organic burgers, drank some organic dark beer, and dined on her screened-in porch. It was relaxing and quite heavenly to spend time with good friends. Afterwards we headed up the mountain to Mohonk to view the fireworks.

We arrived early and took Bardet's grandson Pixley with us, an adorable 2 year old. We sat on the grand porch in overstuffed dining chairs; the dock was being set up for a performance. A group of men appeared in Civil War uniforms (Union uniforms) ..and played a selection of marches and songs from the period on the original instruments of the time. After they finished, it became hushed, and the all the lights were turned out on the mountain, save for the light in the tower across on the cliffs. It was inky dark. Then, all the gazebos were lit, decked out in little white lights. During the next part of the show, a bugle was played, there was a singer belting out traditional patriotic songs, and various forms such as flags, stars and torches were lit with fireworks. Even though I am furious at our current governing body, the war in Iraq, and how are soldiers are being treated, (I am the mother of a veteran of this war) I searched within myself and find a space where I honored the men and women who risked so much to build the nation that I live in. So often I take my freedoms for granted and forget the lives given to provide me with what I have now. I shed my anger and joined in on one of the songs.

The finale was a grand fireworks display. The evening ended with a moment of silence while taps was being played. It bought tears to my eyes.

After the lights were lit on the mountain and inside the house, an old fashioned square dance took place in one of the large ball rooms. The young and the old started to dance their hearts out. We all joined in for a dance or two, confusing our steps, dancing with the wrong partners, going in the wrong directions, but our souls were light and free and we laughed with the joy of the dance.

For an evening we were back in the 1860's....in a place where magic does happen.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Spirits in the Mountains

I could have kicked myself for not bringing my camera up to Mohonk yesterday. I wanted to catch a few vista shots of the Catskills and Shawangunks from the top of the mountain, with the storms dumping their heavy loads over some unsuspecting part of the valley. For anyone visiting the Hudson Valley, the Mohonk Mountain house is a must see. It was closed to the public this weekend, but my girlfriend knows the owner, so we got in for one of our very special afternoons. There is so much to do up there..golf, horseback riding, cross country skiing and ice skating in the winter, boating and swimming in the lake, a new spa (my reasons for the last two trips), tennis, hiking, rock on the 125+ year old porch, feed the giant stocked trout, stroll throught the heavenly gardens. It is one of the only remaining original "Catskill vacation hotels" built in 1865 as a Victorian Castle, with some 250+ rooms.

If you can't afford the 450-750.00 a night rooms,(I don't know many who can, but they do run specials as low as 238.00 per person) you can do a day at the Mountain House and have lunch, dinner, or use the spa, which is what I do. I book a massage and go early; pack a lunch and find a gazebo to eat it in on the lake, hike trails, stroll in the gardens. There is fabulous rock scrambling and climbing too, but with my ankle, I stick to walking and mild hiking! The spa is wonderful and for our 95.00 we steam, sauna, do the mineral pool, shower, use their wonderful spa products, sit in the solarium after the massage sipping herb tea and eating grapes, shower and then go for a rock on the porch watching the sun set. HOW DECADENT IS THAT?

The air is clean, the smell of the vegetation that grows on the top of a mountain crisp and sharp. The views of the valley from the numerous vistas spectacular. Some say the water has magical properties; I have to agree. When I leave there I feel at peace with myself and the world.

I have decided that after I retire I want to run art classes there. They have quite a few recreational activities and sometimes they will do a trade for time in the house. I would teach arts or crafts from that particular era, after all, it was my thesis work.

I have visited this house many times over the past 30 years. I never tire of walking the hushed halls and smelling the infusions of 150 years of wood, mountains, and spirits. Tonite they shoot fireworks between the lake and the cliffs; I hope to be there, AND bring my camera.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

We are the Garden

Yesterday I worked for a few hours in the garden, mulching my plants, trying to get the garden to a point of self-maintenance. Keep in the moisture, enrich the soil, and keep out the weeds with the help of some good black organic mulch. When the work is done I get to sit back and watch it grow with minimal intervention and maximum health. After having done this for a few years now, I am setting a timeline for the garden; all plants in by June 1,(except the moonflowers and the plants we buy for Larry on Father's day) and all mulching and staking done by the July 4th weekend.

I am a "cottage gardener". I let the plants take their own paths, with only a little intervention from me. I figure they plants know what the best places are for them to grow, and what they need. I have to help them out now and then, but for the most part, they settled in pretty nicely. Even the weeds have been given a place in areas of the garden....sometimes they have honored and surprised me in with beautiful blooms or medicinal leaves or food for the many bees and hummingbirds which dart gleefully about.

The garden is like raising children and nurturing ourselves; we provide the means to grow, protection from what might hinder our maximum yield as humans, and use natural ingredients that don't harm our bodies and gives back to the earth. There are day to day variables that might affect the rate of growth, or quality, and many these are out of our control; it makes us unique individuals. And like the garden, we give back with our beauty and we sustain ourselves and one another. We all have a value, a purpose. If we only tended the world like we tend our gardens, it might be a place of acceptance, peace, and balance.

Movie of the weekend: we rented Boys Don't Cry. 1999, true story. Hillary Swank has a commanding performance in this movie. Powerful, moving, painful. A must see.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

AND BEING ALL EARS, STAN SAID "DON'T EAT WHAT SHE COOKS!".

Meet Stan, he is a man who is all ears. He listens intently to every conversation; catches subtle murmurings behind the curtains. He is quick to report any hint of danger to Dick. He fears Totty is up to no good.

Stan is one of the characters in a little ditty for the zine which I had better consider finishing this weekend. Just a little poem about the tale of Totty and Dick titled Eat Man, Drink Water. Inspired by a collage, a title, and PMS. Oh, and an ex-husband. One of my friends who saw the dummy of the zine said, oh, is this part one of the Burning Bed series?!! hehehe (in an Eddie Murphy kind of way)

Kidding aside, Stan is an antique photo, collaged with paper using encaustics and xerox transfers made into the wax.If you live in the "tri-state area" which means NY, NJ, and any one of the other nearby states like CT, MA, VT, PA, etc...a workshop at R and F Encaustics in the city of KINGSTON, NY is a must. They have four hour workshops for 40 ish dollars or three day or more intensive workshops that are 400 ish. Great fun, you get to use their wonderful studio and supplies, and I always come away with SOMETHING fun. They just moved to a new location; I will have to check them out. The owners are great people, as well as the staff. And if you are in Ulster county, there is Woodstock, Rhinebeck, and mansions up and down the Hudson for inspiration and fun. The Center for Photography in Woodstock (where my dh works) is a place to hear famous photographers give a slide show or lecture, or viist Bard college and hear a concert in one of their many venues.

Off to the Saturday market uptown. I need some veggies to go with my abundant lettuce garden. Have a great day and enjoy the sun!

Patti