Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Does your list look like this?

1. build boxes for paintings
2. mail paintings
3. check volunteer dates
4. e-mail Lawndale about volunteering
5. e-mail Pam and Valerie about iPub
6. write blog entry about ___?
7. empty dish washer
8. think of something for supper
9. tidy house
10. do something about organizing upstairs bathroom
11. tweet/facebook for old blue jeans
12. donate clothes to goodwill
13. or suffer mild humiliation by "selling" clothes to buffalo
14. make boxes
15. figure out how to do the God art project
16. e-mail lady about website
17. put assorted art deadlines on calendar
18. paint
19. write blog entry....

Two days later....
1. fail
2. obviously fail
3. what does this even mean?
4. check
5. no
6. _______? still nothing
7. yes!
8. yes
9. sort's better than it was
10. nope
11. yes. I should do that again, though....put this on new list
12. not yet
13. definitely no
14. still no
15. kind of....I know what to do just not how to do it, so no
16. nope
17. no
18. yes and no
19. this will have to do

Friday, August 24, 2012

Perchance to Dream

The setting in this painting is part real and part imagination. Believe it or not, I am only just now realizing that this is a trend in my work, to paint partly what's there and not the whole scene. Until now, I've excused it by saying that I only paint what I see.....but maybe it would be more accurate to say that while my paintings are based in reality, there is a healthy dose of imagination thrown in....which pretty much sums up the way I live. 

This is a real live tree here in Houston and I love it. This is what it would look like if it were in a natural setting, which it is, just not this natural setting, which isn't entirely true. It does look like this. But because of its surroundings, it also looks like something else entirely considering that some major identifiers as to its location have been purposefully omitted.

It's 30" x 30" oil on linen.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Supper and a Song

Remember that scene in "It's a Wonderful Life" when George and Mary are dancing the Charleston at the high school dance? A crowd clears a space around them while they are dancing and cheers. George looks at Mary and says, "They're cheering us. We must be good!" What George and Mary don't see is that while they are dancing, the floor over the swimming pool is opening, and each time the crowd cheers it's because George and Mary narrowly miss falling in the pool.

A couple of months ago, Reese was asked by someone at church if he would perform for a new event they were trying called Supper and a Song. He replied by saying something to the effect that Sarah plays the ukulele and we'd love to play a few songs. Playing music is one of our favorite things we do together. Even though we've gone busking, normally we just sit in the comfort of our living room with the captive audience of whoever happens to have been invited over for the night.

Reese and I picked three of our favorite songs to perform and amped up the practice. We play these songs ALL the time and in the comfort of our living room, dare I say it, we sound pretty good.

There was a time back in the day when I was a little better than adequate as a singer. In junior high and high school I was in several choirs, and can still remember (and sing) the alto harmony for several 70's era pop songs. Those days are long gone. Reese, on the other hand, has a beautiful voice. When he sings, he gets frequent and regular compliments.

As Reese and I were practicing for the Supper and a Song performance, he would look over at me, smile and say, "Sing, Sarah!" I'd mumble sing, content to let him shine, for he really does have a lovely singing voice. When we got to church for rehearsal 30 minutes before show time, it was the first time I had heard myself mic'd. Perfectly content to stand beside Reese and play, I was completely unprepared for the sound of my voice booming back to me over a PA system. To say I was mortified is an understatement. Reese sweetly whispered to me that if I didn't sing, he was going to announce to the audience that I sing along with him. When I complained to Lance the head sound guy, he told me that he asked Chris the secondary sound guy to turn up my mic on purpose. What? Now, the Amazing Reese loves me. I know that. But why on earth did he insist that I sing along with him when he knows what I sound like? And why did Lance have Chris turn up my mic? It's a conspiracy, I tell you.

To both Reese's and my absolute delight, the first act performed while the crowd was talking and eating. This was great! If we could be background performers with hardly anyone paying attention, all the better. This might not be so bad after all.

After a short intermission, a 16 year old young lady named Grace (even her name is pretty) walked on stage, sat behind a grand piano, started singing and playing her original compositions. She was incredible - beautiful face, beautiful voice, and beautiful spirit. It was so lovely. Wouldn't you know it? The crowd settled in and actually started paying attention. Reese and I were up next.

First of all, whoever put us on after Grace, well, our style couldn't be any more opposite. As Reese aptly explained to the gathered crowd (250 people!), Grace's performance was Jones Hall champagne worthy. The best they were going to get out of us was beer at the Alabama Ice House. We performed  three songs - We're Going to be Friends by the White Stripes,  You've Got a Friend in Me from Toy Story, and That's Amore.  Somehow, it's all a blur, we fumbled through and made it back to our seats. The audience applauded, but I figured they were just being polite - not that there's anything wrong with that! We could all use a little more politeness and courtesy in this world. We had just settled in back at our table (I was trying to make myself smaller and dying a little bit on the inside) when there was a tap on my shoulder.  Turning around, a bouquet of flowers was presented to me by Sam, the dearest of friends. If kindness can slap someone in the face, this is how to do it. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Thank you, Sam (and Mary!)

In the early part of this week, I thought of how unprofessional and goofy we must have seemed, especially when compared to the other, more polished performers that night. (Why, oh why am I comparing us to others? That's never a good thing.) Then yesterday, we actually received a very sweet thank you note (our first fan mail!) for just being who we are - Alabama Ice House kind of people. My head still thinks that any accolades are probably (maybe, maybe not) because we were dancing so close to the edge of the pool, then fell in backwards. But in my heart, like George Bailey, I prefer to think, "They're cheering us. We must be good!" So all in all, in spite of nervousness and (lots of) mistakes, we sure did have fun. *shrugs shoulders* Come on in! The water's fine.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Boulevard Oaks

For whatever reason, I keep painting trees. It must be a phase. At this point, I have  two more tree paintings already planned and sketched, just waiting for the time to put into the actual painting part. These are some of the lovely oak trees from a boulevard in a neighborhood in Houston called Boulevard Oaks. Redundant, but a lovely part of town none the less.

Instead of painting this week, daughter Hilary and I have appointments for cake tasting and going for round one of her trying on wedding dresses. For my part, I found my mother of the bride dress last week in a consignment shop. It's a beautiful vintage (late 60's, early 70's) pink silk dress with beading around the collar and sleeve edges. It fits perfectly, was only $24, and is bride to be approved! I'm still on the lookout for shoes, but at least there's time to shop. Silver slippers with a small heel would be ideal.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Let's Be Friends

Backstory, Part 2

With a little bit of island fever, which is what happens when mainlanders feel stuck on an island, I wasn't ready to go back to Hawaii after a month of "nannying" in Aspen. It's been 28 years since this story began, I don't remember all of the details, but from January to May, I traveled, lived, and worked in Oklahoma at a pizza place, in Washington DC at a place called The Cedars accompanied by volunteer work at a soup kitchen on 3rd Street downtown. In the Chicago area I helped cook and clean for a family who lived between Winnetka and Wilmette. I stayed with Stan and Mary in Kansas City. That was my favorite. They graciously assimilated me into their family life. I love them. From there, my time line might be wonky, but basically from there I got a job at a Covenant Heights Camp on the top of the mountain in Estes Park, Colorado. That's another (small) story.

All this time, I had been keeping up with a few friends from the church in Aspen. Letters. We wrote letters back in the day. When these friends invited me to a young adults camp out retreat during spring melt, I hitchhiked to get there. (Did you know that, Dad, that I hitchhiked?) The retreat was just off the road in a clearing up towards Ashcroft. By the time I arrived, everyone was setting up tents and campers, but there were two guys off in the aspens setting up what I came to find out was called a "lean to." It was just a tarp strung between two trees and tied off at an angle. Who sleeps like that? What about bugs and snakes and bears? Ugh. One of these guys came bounding out of the woods across the meadow, all long limbed, wearing overalls with shaggy blond hair  and a huge enthusiastic smile to introduce himself. It was the Amazing Reese, only I didn't know how amazing he was, yet. If I were to draw a super hero character of the Amazing Reese, he would look like he did that first time I met him, only shirtless, which will be explained in the next paragraph.

Now Reese had grown up camping. He joined boy scouts just so he could go camping. He likes to joke that he was the oldest Tenderfoot in the troop. He didn't care at all about badges, but please let him go camping. This, on the other hand, was my very first camping trip EVER. I was so grossed out by the filth factor that I even went into town the next morning to shower. Thankfully, I made it back in time to watch Reese, in his overalls and shirtless, cook scrambled eggs over the camp fire the next morning. Mmm, mmm good. His long and lean muscles had been chiseled from carpentry work the previous  summer and a long winter of cross country skiing. It looked good on him and I wasn't the only female to notice. The eggs were delicious, too.

During some getting to know you chit chat, I asked Reese where he lived in town. Normal enough question, but he was cagey in his reply. He told me where and I asked, "Oh, those apartments on the right?" He said, "No." So I asked, "Then is it that house down on the left?" He said, "No." I said, "Well, I know the area, and there's nothing between those apartments and that house." He reluctantly and rather sheepishly said, "You know that stream that goes under the road? If you follow that stream up about 20 yards, then jump over it, there's a little clearing. In that clearing is a platform I built. And on the platform, is my tent. That's where I live." OK, I thought. This guy really likes camping.

At church retreats, it's usual to have a speaker focus on a particular topic for the weekend. That weekend, the topic was friendship. The speaker discussed different examples of friendships in the Bible, buddy buddy friendships, romantic friendships, and friendships centered on another's spiritual well being. The idea was that we live in a disjointed society with people moving in and out of our lives, and unless we really commit to friendships, we can easily lose our way in this great big world. I went to six different schools growing up, so the idea of  working toward a "staying connected" friendship appealed to me.

There were no big sparks. At the time, I was sort of dating someone else. But I liked Reese well enough. He was enthusiastic, kind, thoughtful, and helpful. Plus, he knew how to scramble eggs over a campfire. That's a skill worth something. He must have liked me at least a little bit, too. By the end of the weekend, with the idea of friendship on our hearts and minds, just before I put my thumb out to hitchhike back to Estes Park, Reese and I looked at each other and said, "Let's be friends." I think we shook hands to seal the deal. So, that's how we met and became almost instant friends. And we've been best friends ever since. But falling in love? That's another story.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Backstory

One of the things I've wanted to do since I was a teenager was write a book. In a few months, I'll be 49, and it's about time some effort got put into this dream. Maybe not like every writer, I don't know, but a big hindrance has been trying to formulate or even think of what to say.

When I tell stories in real life, in the living room over a cup of coffee or glass of wine, there's a give and take, an ebb and flow, especially when the Amazing Reese and I are telling different viewpoints of the same how we met.

It's a simple enough story. This is how it begins. When Reese was growing up his family went snow skiing quite a few times. Because Reese is from a big family, they would drive from Houston to somewhere in New Mexico, like Angel Fire or Taos, and sleep in the pop up camper. It was so cold at night that if Reese left a glass of water by his bedside, it would be frozen solid in the morning. On one of these ski trips, Reese's brother Claude brought a neighborhood friend, Robert Woodson. Turns out it was Robert's first time ever to go skiing. He fell in love with the sport, eventually becoming a ski instructor, traveling the world to ski winters in both hemispheres.

Because Reese grew up in Houston where it hardly ever snows, he was enchanted by the adventurous life Robert was living in perpetual snow. He asked Robert where in the world he could live in snow country and get a job? Robert told him that he could always find a job in Aspen. So one November, just before Thanksgiving, Reese moved to Aspen and within a few days had a job making sandwiches at a butcher shop.

From Hawaii, I came to to the mainland initially for a conference, after which I was invited to spend the month of January with my parent's friends while they vacationed in Aspen. How cool is that? What hadn't been communicated to me was that I was to be the live in nanny for their three small children. Classic bait and switch.

The only social outlet I had during that month was going to church with the family on Sundays and one church sanctioned young adults meeting on a week night. I met some really wonderful people during that month, and even though Reese went to the same church and we had the same friends, Reese and I didn't meet each other that winter.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Trash or Treasure?

I've been cleaning out the studio of things I don't use or need anymore. Is my trash your treasure? If so, come and get it. This lot includes old sketchbooks, house paint, oil paints, books on funding, broken plates and dishes, pastels, a portable box easel, an abstract painting, and a portfolio bag. It's yours for the taking.