Saturday, July 31, 2010

Appalacian Voices

I have been remiss in writing - too busy being immersed in having fun or working in/on the studio, and though I have a few blogs that I have started, they are in blog limbo as I have not been able to take any photos to go with them - the camera card is full and I have to organize and dump the photos onto my portable hard drive. 

One of the more moving events of the past week was my trip up to  Bearsville to have dinner at The Bear followed by the concert "Appalacian Voices" featuring musicians/singers Jim James from My Morning Jacket, who is now called Yim Yames , (great CD called Tribute To (George Harrison)), Ben Sollee, and Daniel Martin Moore.  The concert was opened by local boy Simone Felice of the Felice Brothers and Duke and the King.

I was familiar with Yim Yames' voice, and something told me to head over to a special evening not far from home.  And, besides, it was for a good cause - to "raise public awareness of the devastating practice of Mountaintop Removal coal mining throughout Appalachia. A portion of the proceeds from the tour will benefit Appalachian Voices, for which the tour was named, an organization devoted to ending mountaintop removal coal mining together with diverse environmental problems impacting the central and southern Appalachian Mountains." (quote from the Bearsville Theater calendar of events)

The song Flyrock Blues sings about the huge rocks that are blasted from the mountains that sometimes come down on folk's houses and/or property. It was pretty upsetting to learn about how coal mining is destroying the landscape and the ecology of the land, sending toxins into the air, polluting wild mountain streams.  It is a nagging and in your face reminder about why we need to move onto alternative energies. My fear is that we will move on this too late..and mankind will eventually self destruct.  

I was glad to have supported their work, to have learned about Mountaintop Removal in Coal Mining, and its devastation on the community and the earth. Please visit the site to educate yourself, make a donation, buy a CD....and I am hoping that a live CD is made of the tour.

After a show like that, it seems a mortal sin that 20 miles from my house, Chelsea Clinton is getting married at the Astor Estate to a tune of 2-5 million dollars.

While oil spills into the oceans and rivers
While the Appalacian people lose their homes and land
35% of the city I live in is on welfare.

I am having a hard time not gagging.



Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cucumber Heaven

My cucumbers are monsters, something out of the Little Shop of Horrors. They are trying to take over my entire garden. The vines are running up the driveway, down the driveway, up the trellis, out, over, under...and bearing many little baby cucumbers.This morning I only picked two, but in another day or two there will be another rush, just in time for me to attempt pickles.

Speaking of the 1960 movie, I have an early childhood memory to go with that. I was about 5-6 or so. It was a Sunday or Saturday afternoon as the entire family was home; my father in his chair, my brother in the living room, and my mother back and forth from the kitchen. I had done some terrible thing (I was always in trouble doing terrible things until my little brother John came along, and he took over that job) and I was made to stand in the corner of the kitchen for an inordinate amount of time. Modern day books say a minute for every year of age, but for my parents, it was like 10. It was so long that I think it was the length of the movie.

It was a black and white TV and Little Shop of Horrors was on. I was pissed because I wanted to see the movie. FEED ME I would hear the plant yell, FEED ME FEED ME. I tried to sneak a peek now and then, but since my parents had eyes in the back of their heads, they knew what I was doing and all that happened was that MORE time got added onto my punishment.

I had a fascination for horror movies. The Blob, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Earth vs. The Giant Spider, Bela Lugosi movies. So this was torture that I was excluded from the Sunday afternoon family time. In fact, it was downright child abuse in my little girl's mind.

I never did see the movie, nor the remake either. But every time I go into my garden, and some plant is out of control, I hear a little voice in the back of my head screaming FEED ME and I see a little girl standing in the corner, trying to peep at the TV.

So far I have eaten the cucumbers raw, make cucumber water,  Lithuanian cucumber salad that my mom used to make, Japanese cucumber salad, cucumber sandwiches, and cold cucumber soup, recipe by Emeril, which was WONDERFUL, though I am sure I smell like garlic and hot peppers today.
The last frontier will be to make dill pickles, but I will need a glut of cukes for that, but with the look of things, it will be happening soon.

Oh, and don't forget, the classic 21 Reasons Cucumbers are Better than Men. Sorry guys, but I warned you that this was coming.

Patti O Vine

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Back Home Again" (by Eigthavenue)

I thought of this song when I was sitting at my desk this morning, enjoying the prospect of a day off at home. It's been a long time since I have spent a day by myself without any responsibilities.

My trip back home was stressful. Heavy turbulence made me grip the edge of my seat. The announcement that we could not land in Stewart, my final destination, due to severe storms, and that we have to be diverted as we were running out of fuel made me and everyone else sigh. The hour wait for a bus to bring us from Pennsylvania to Newburgh. Four hours later than scheduled,I arrived on New York soil.

I tried to not get upset. After all, I was not in the same position of the man next to me whose father was dying, and he spent 3x the money to fly a day earlier to see him, and in the end he could not get there today anyway.

But I am home now....and the words of John Denver rang true as I rode home on the bus, the storm clouds swirling over the mountaintops:

There's a storm across the valley,
clouds are rollin' in,
The afternoon is heavy on your shoulders.
There's a truck out on the four lane,
a mile or more away,
The whinin' of his wheels just makes it colder...
...Hey, it's good to be back home again.
Sometimes this old farm
feels like a long-lost friend.
Yes! Hey it's good to be back home again.

I was glad to be digging in the dirt, picking the produce, and for spending the first half of the day cooking. I was at home again.

This rendition of Denver's song is has a lot of soul.

Patti O Landing

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Starving Artist's Guide to Beauty

I am tongue in cheek when I call this a starving artist's guide.  I am NOT a starving artist, as I am an art  teacher with a good salary.  But the summer is a time where I watch my finances.  I don't get a paycheck, Larry doesn't have summer classes, and in order to do the little extras, like vacation and facials,  I have to be wise with my money during the year.  I put money into a 403B, and have a fund to save money for my grandchildren's college education, and that eats up the "extra" spending money.  I have learned that I don't need a huge wardrobe, or a lot of cosmetics, and I loathe to spend money on pricey items when something else for a fraction of the price works as well or better. I have an organic garden which feeds me spring through fall, (and into the winter as I freeze the extras) and I rely on the local farmer's markets to fill in what I can't raise myself.

This spring I had treated myself to a facial by an acquaintance I had friended on Facebook. I had known Robyn over the years from the shops she worked in Woodstock, and from seeing her around my little city.  She is a little younger than I, and I always marveled at how naturally radiant she was.  Her svelte figure and natural looks stood out in a crowd of women. No flashy diamonds, or overdone makeup. A smile and kindness enhanced her looks.She would periodically post about a facial she was preparing for, and one day I decided to book an appointment.

She lives in her parent's house as they are aging and need help.  She has a lovely space downstairs where she does her "magic"   It was set up like a mini spa, and very comfortable.  She used wonderful products, and after an hour of massaging, cleaning, steaming, mask, toning and moisturizing, I felt like a new woman, with scents of essential oils wafting from my rejuvenated face.She asked what kind of cleaner I  used.  I have been using cold cream for years, finding ones that had the fewest ingredients. ( While doing my research for this blog, I came across one I would love to try by Jamila Naturals.) She said "ah, that is why your skin is so hydrated." A jar of cold cream lasts a LONG time, and I don't think I have spent more than 5-6.00 a jar.

I also try and drink as much water as possible.  It is something that I have to remind myself to do, as it keeps your skin hydrated, flushes out toxins and has many other health benefits. I have a pitcher of filtered water in my fridge, and with the glut of cucumbers from my garden, will be dropping in a handful of slices to make a refreshing summer drink. After a super treat to Mohonk Mountain House for a massage with friends, I fell in love with the iced cucumber slices they left on ice for our eyes.  Robyn also did a cold cucumber facial, laying strips over my face, which turned warm from the heat from my face. I have since done eye patches on Larry, and he found them delightful. After using them for salads, facials and water, there may not be enough for pickles, which are my next venture.

I  brew my own double mint tea from my organic peppermint/spearmint, which helps my digestive issues (which are almost non existent these days) and refrigerate that in a glass pitcher for instant iced tea. I make my own bath salts at a fraction of the price, and I buy some of my soaps and facial products from Lorna's Naturals

A book that I love which is written by local author Dina Falconi, titled  Earthly Bodies & Heavenly Hair: Natural and Healthy Personal Care for Every Body It is one of the better books on the market and is a fantastic handbook for making your own body care products (note: try to use organic products whenever possible, and do your own research when in doubt about any products/components in your recipes. 

Taking care of your skin and body doesn't have to cost a lot of money. Many of the products and companies that state they are natural contain chemicals and additives that are not necessary and are sometimes harmful. Many times less IS better, and cheaper.

Photo is of last year's harvest as I am writing from my daughter's computer in Kentucky and don't have access to my library of images. But the produce is from my organic garden, cultivated without chemicals or fertilizers, in raised beds filled with organic compost!

Patti O Naturale

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ah, Frenchwomen

This morning my friend Judi sent me a link to a New York Times article titled 10 Ways to Age Like a Frenchwoman.  Being 52, and a woman who strives to maintain femininity at any age,  I was drawn to  the article. My visions of Frenchwomen come from movies such as Chocolate, and actresses such as Audrey Tautou, Isabelle Adjani, Juliette Binoche, Emmanuelle Beart, as well as the descriptions of the women of Paris from a friend whose daughter lives and works there.  Women who have panache at any age and at any time of the day.

I follow her daughter Zeva's blog,  Paris by Appointment Only which tells of the hidden pleasures of Paris such as artisans, couture, and pilates.  I take a virtual vacation when I absorb her stories and photographs, preparing myself for one of the vacations of my dreams in the future.

I was tickled to find out that I already practice some of the suggestions; cool water rinses, keeping my makeup natural looking and to a minimum, eating non-processed foods, and dressing age-appropriately.It seems like the French health care system covers issues like varicose veins and visits to the dermatologist, something not usually covered here, unless the affliction causes physical pain or threatens one's health.

I was surprised that it mentioned that they prefer a spa over working out, but then realized that they get their own workouts every day as many of them walk all over Paris, and keep their figures and legs in great shape because of this. Who needs a workout with that?!

It saddens me to see how many women let themselves get dowdy in America.  They eat food which is bad for their skin and health. I see women  wearing clothes that neither fit their body shape or age, and some who wear far too much makeup when they have beautiful faces which need little enhancement.  We get in the car for every little trip, (I am guilty of that).  Somewhere along the line women forget that they are sensual beings, and let themselves go.

Though I am not wealthy, I buy my clothes wisely. If I don't love it enough to wear every day, I won't buy it.
I use simple cleaners and moisturizers for my body and face, many which are organic and without chemicals.  I eat as much from the garden as I can.  If it is in a can or package, it isn't as good. I save my money for an occasional facial and massage. When my body cooperates, I do yoga. I know I need to meditate more.

Distilled..I think it comes to loving yourself.  If you care for your body (and you should, for where else are you going to live?) you will nurture it, adorn it, and treat it wisely, and you don't have to be part of "la noblesse" to pay for it. 

Next blog will be "The Starving Artist's Guide too Looking and Feeling Fabulous". 

PLEASE NOTE: image from Everything Vintage. Pam let me use the image for this blog.  Please remember folks, if you are going to use an image from the internet, be considerate and ask first. Most artists/designers will have no problem with it if you ask, and it is also appropriate to provide a link to the site/or artist/photographer whose work it is.

Au revoir!


Monday, July 12, 2010

Rainy Morning Musings

 Eva (my sister Mary's Daughter) and Alanna, my granddaughter

 Me and my sister Mary (who will always be 8 years younger than me, haha

Saturday my sister's family was coming up from Pelham to visit; I was slightly concerned as I lay in bed at 7 am listening to the heavy rain pound down upon the air conditioner, sounding more like hail than a rain drop.  Nine people in a small house; what were we all to do for 8 hours?

As I lay in bed, I thought about how up until the past year or two, I had a general dislike of entertaining, and  realized that I have many characteristics similar to my father which was difficult to embrace, especially since I lived in fear of the man, and did not particularly like him.

He never liked crowds - we only went to Jones beach on the off season, usually when it was too cold to swim.  (like warm days in December?!)  I don't think he liked to leave the house unless it was to go to work, to church or do the obligatory food shop once a week with all four kids and the wife (my mom did not drive most of her life).  He made it very clear that he was not driving me around all over the place after school, which meant I had no social life,  as at 12 years of age we moved to the boonies outside of Woodstock from Long Island.  We rarely entertained, unless it was his sisters and cousins.  I never had a sleep over at my house, and the only birthday party I remember having was when I was about 4 or 5.  We led a solitary life, and I wonder why it was like that.  Did he have something to hide? Was my mother's drinking that apparent? Why?

I thought about my own I don't like crowds, don't really like shopping unless it is under the right circumstances, never liked having lots of children at my house, and though I did the obligatory sleep overs for my kids, I did not enjoy them.  And as I got older, I liked entertaining and cooking less and less and preferred a solitary life. Yes, hard to imagine to my friends who see how busy my social life is, but in reality, I enjoy solitude and could easily become a hermit, coming out only when I need something or feel the need for human contact. Entertaining was a chore. I had to clean, shop, cook, and clean again, all things that  I hated. 

But something shifted. I am not sure how and when, but I suspect it was my four day seclusion at the monastery, where I was introduced to mindful living.  Perhaps it was when I had grandchildren, and my daughter got sick with cancer and I realized how fragile life is.  Perhaps it is the gifts I give myself- such as having someone help me clean, buying from markets that I like to go to (IE: Farmer's Markets/Health Food Stores) that made my life much easier. Perhaps it was letting go of the notion that I had to have a certain level of cleanliness and a fancy menu in order to entertain. Perhaps it was that I learned how to love.

As the rain drummed down, I smiled knowing my house was clean, the fridge was full of garden harvest and local healthy foods, that I was going to have fun and enjoy the people in my life no matter the day.  And, as the day progressed, the sun came out, we went to the zoo to feed the animals and let the kids run, we took them out for ice cream, had two healthy eclectic meals, and I had a wonderful time seeing those I love.

It's never to late to teach an old horse new tricks.  It's never too late to change a way of thinking or living.  And for the transformation, I am grateful.

Patti O Party

Friday, July 09, 2010

Market(ing) in Review

I have recovered from the production and market this past weekend, non of which ended too soon considering the current heat wave.  Saturday started getting hot, and my tent was on the shady side of the street most of the time.

I did as well I expected to. No more, no less.  Some people think doing craft fairs is glamorous, as they see the goods lovingly displayed, and me dressed up and on my best behavior (or not sometimes!).  What they don't see is the hours of work to prepare, pack, haul, set up, being "on" all day with a smile, no matter how sick you feel or what the weather brings, the tear down, then collapsing after it is all done.  And sometimes, it is only for a few dollars once you pay your expenses.

That being said, I enjoy doing occasional shows as it gets me out of my solitary life in the studio, I see my friends, and I enjoy the smiles, laughs, and the questions about my work.  Rarely does someone not like my work, save for the one time a woman walked by and commented "I don't get it".
I figured she was only operating on half of her cylinders, so I laughed it off.

This show I sold a nice amount of cards, and many of them were surprisingly to men!  I am used to my market being mainly women, (82% of my FB Catskillpaper Fan pages are women)  but my quirky (sometimes toilet humor)  humor,  and my landscape watercolor cards drew the men in. 

Being that it was a local market, the use of my watercolor landscape sketches mounted on cards proved to be a wise idea as most of them sold.  I don't feel that my watercolors are strong enough as "works of art" but they sure make a lovely card.  And, one that people might frame.  So next visit to Kentucky (a landscape I did there did sell too..) I have an envelope full of photos to do studies of. 

Today's art was made from altered postcards and magazine images. Wintergreen oil and sandpaper on the fish, and sandpaper, an antique image, and a color graphite pencil on the other.  It is a fun technique, and something that I can do with my students at school.  I will have to do a drive for postcards; in the meantime I will pick them up where ever I go.  The trick is, to make sure that you alter it enough so that the original image is not recognizable as one does not want to get into copyright violation issues.  But they make a fun and cheap collage/mixed media ground.  Thanks to artist and friend Loel Barr for her generosity in opening up her studio to me yesterday, and showing me these techniques! 

I have a free day and am meeting up with one of my old friends and bosses...whom I worked for 25 years ago, and am going to do some freelance for again.  I found her on someones page on Facebook and am so excited to be reunited.  Some may be very critical of Facebook, but I love it.

Patti O Painter

Friday, July 02, 2010

Kingston Farmer's Market

Look for me tomorrow at the Kingston Farmer's Market

No, I am not selling things from my garden, though it overflows with several varieties of basil, Swiss chard, and when the cucumbers come in baby, watch out guys.  You're all history.

Friend and author Heather Rolland and I are sharing a booth on John Street, which is closed to traffic twice a month for local craftspeople to join in with the Farmers.  I've spent the last two days working in the studio in between all the other things I have had to do after being away for two weeks, but I promise to have a batch of new cards, and to bring some of my smaller paintings and collages.

Enclosed are a few scans of some new cards, which are apropos for the market. I hope to see some of my readers and Facebook friends there.  At the very least, I am putting my art and my face together in my little city, which in spite of my periodic rantings, I do love. 

Off to give Alanna a bath. She has had a very full day, and is a very concerned about the dirt on her feet.