Thursday, April 30, 2009

Grand Tetons Farm House, Finished

Well, it's finished. (Until Ross comes home and points out something I missed!) Painting water with acrylic is not easy! But it was fun doing a landscape, and I feel great about finishing 3 paintings in 3 days.

Grand Tetons Farm House, So Far

I started this landscape yesterday and I hope to finish it tonight while Ross is in the city. This is acrylic on an 11" x 14" gessoed art board.

Still have to put in the fence posts in the field on the right, finish the stream, and fill in the plants in the foreground.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bowl of Tomatoes, Still-Life, 12"x9"

I took a break from miniatures yesterday. They are small but they take sooo much forethought that they can be a real chore. Instead I pulled out an art board an the acrylic and jumped into painting this still life. What I like about acrylic is that you don't have to be perfect from the beginning, like you do with watercolors, you just slap it on and if you don't like it, don't worry, it will be dry in minutes and you can cover it up! Makes for a much looser and more intuitive painting process. This one took 5 or 6 hours.

There are some things I need to touch up and then I'm calling it done.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cat and Mouse (Miniature)

Ink & Watercolor, 2.5" x 3.5"
An orange tabby kitten sits in a warm, sunny spot with her favorite toy.

Pictured with lipstick for scale.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Not so bad!

It's Monday so of course it's cloudy, but it's also balmy which is a very nice change. I'd rather have hot and overcast then cold and overcast any day!

The weekend didn't go quite as planned. We've had rain moving through the area on and off all weekend so the raking/bundling/weeding didn't happen. But it was still a great weekend.

Saturday we went to church for week 2 of Celebration of Hope. Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, didn't make it to the Saturday service because of the weather but Kuyasa Kids from South Africa were there and they were awesome. We found out that the food packing project has already packed more than 2 million of the 4 million projected meals and over 17,500 Creekers have signed up to participate.

The sermon was out of Luke 12:13-21. In that passage Jesus warns the crowd, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." Bill talked about the real sources of happiness (research has found that in "happy" people wealth and possessions rarely make it into the top five contributors to their happiness) and the insidious and pervasive nature of greed. Since Stearns didn't make it to our service he also told a little of Stearns' life as a self-made man and his decision to leave his comfortable life as the CEO of Lenox to take over World Vision and how, under his leadership, World Vision has gone from feeding something like 400 million to 1.2 billion people! I thought of our little Lieketseng in Losotho and felt so grateful for what this man has done. She is one of those 1.2 billion and I can't imagine what her life would look like without World Vision.

At the end of the service they made Stearns' new book, The Hole in our Gospel, available to every family. I'm so glad they did. When you stop distracting yourself long enough to see what is going on it can be really depressing. The enormity of the problem is overwhelming, and a feeling of impotence is almost inevitable. But as long as you can keep making one conscious decision after another to engage, learn, give, etc. you can keep both the denial and the feeling of impotence at bay - and possibly even make a difference in the process.

I'm only on the second chapter but already I'm pretty impressed with how accessible and compelling it is. And I love the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Here are some of my favorites:

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet. -Frederick Buechner
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else. -C.S. Lewis

The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. -John Berger

The world can no longer be left to mere diplomats, politicians and business leaders. They have done the best they could, no doubt. But this is an age for spiritual heroes--a time for men and women to be heroic in their faith and in spiritual character and power. The greatest danger to the Christian church today is that of pitching its message too low. -Dallas Willard

After church we went to visit Mom and Dad. They are leaving for a road trip to Georgia on Wednesday so we brought Mom the pretty green suitcase she lent me for my first trip to North Carolina ages ago and sat around drinking Dad's excellent iced tea and catching up.

From there we went to see the Stangers. Mark's mom, Donna, was in town and we wanted to say hi before she had to head back home. Because of the time I spent with Steph in Iowa while she and Mark were dating, and because I've known her longer, I feel closer to Donna than my own mother-in-law. I guess she's like my mother-in-law-in-law. After putting Mally to bed we all sat down for a game of Acquire in which Donna thoroughly pummeled us all!

Sunday we did some grocery shopping and picked up two kites for a dollar at Deals. We plan on making fools of ourselves with them at the park very soon, I'll try to remember to bring the camera :P

Friday, April 24, 2009


Amazing. The sun has been gone for hours, and it is still so warm that I'm sitting here in my shorts with the windows up and the ceiling fan going. I love it!

This is great gardening weather. I transplanted my remaining impatiens and lavender plants into larger containers, pulled some weeds, and fed my irises and peonies. I'm really pulling for the peonies and irises this year because last year they were absolutely sad to look at. The peonies were patchy and small, not even the ants were interested, and only one of the irises actually got around to blooming. Tomorrow I want to rake (again), pull more weeds, bundle up sticks to take out on trash day, and do some prep work for the veggie garden. I'm putting off mowing until the last possible moment because we have a clover problem and I heard letting the grass grow tall early in the season helps keep clover under control.

We also made it out to the Half Priced Books today. Books are not, strictly speaking, a necessity in these tough economic times. But when they are used and discounted I always manage to leave the store with one or two. This time I got Seeking the Face of God by Gary L. Thomas (author of two of my favorite books on marriage, Sacred Marriage and Sacred Influence) and Black Mountain Breakdown by Lee Smith (one of the best Southern writers around.)

Right now Ross is on his way back from the city where he was networking with other video game developers. It's been a pretty good week in the job search and we are feeling hopeful. He had a phone interview today with a San Francisco based company and has an on-site interview with a local company next week. Praying hard!

Tomorrow is supposed to be another deliciously warm day. We're going to try to swing by the Stangers' for a visit before Mark's mother, Donna, has to go back to Iowa and then it's on to church in the evening for the second week of Celebration of Hope.

Finally, if you haven't already seen it over on iblogo, here is a little video for your viewing pleasure:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I'm just very glad it's not Monday anymore. I really do hate Mondays. Bad vibes.

Today is already better than Monday because I have bowling to look forward to! Mark won a bowling party at the Brunswick in Algonquin and invited us. I don't think I've bowled since we went to visit Noah and Lauren in NY, and that was years ago.

The weather here has turned sour again. The forecasters were predicting snow flurries over night and this morning. So my FMS is acting up again. The newest thing is foot cramps. Owwweeeee.

The crazy thing is that we could be in the 80s by Friday! What a roller-coaster Spring we are having.

Baby Peonies

Friday, April 17, 2009

Madison Meadows

We have an 89 acre park (Madison Meadows) just a block and a half from our house and, with a pond and a meandering path, it's a good place to go for a walk. It's also a good place to play tennis, which we are both looking forward to, and an ok place to play roller hockey, which only one of us is looking forward to :P


Did anybody else see these clouds last Saturday? Thought they were pretty stinkin' cool!

Friday's Random Ten

I haven't done one of these in ages! You set your music player to shuffle, hit play, and write down the first ten songs that play.
  1. Enemy Fire, Gold by Ryan Adams
  2. She's So Liquid, Perfumed Letter by Bill Mallonee
  3. Know My Heart, Conversations by Sara Groves
  4. One Man Wrecking Machine, Gangin' Up on the Sun by Guster
  5. Jesus Blood, Glo by Delirious?
  6. Yahweh, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb by U2
  7. Glory and the Dream, V.O.L. by Vigilantes of Love
  8. Satellite, Gangin' Up on the Sun by Guster
  9. My Name is Jonas, The Blue Album by Weezer
  10. So Far Away, Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits
Hey, Mr. Mandy Moore opens the shuffle! I think I bought Gold after hearing "Le Cienega Just Smiled" on Felicity. I remember listening to that album as I scrubbed away at years of tarry residue on the kitchen cabinets at the old house on Oregon when Mom and Dad put it on the market.

Vigilantes of Love (7) always reminds me of college, I used to fall asleep listening to V.O.L. and have the craziest dreams. Trains, bones, rivers, whispers, and wind. On the other hand, Bill Mallonee (2), formerly of Vigilantes of Love, reminds me of the slow unraveling that was 2001-2004, so I don't listen to him much anymore.

I love "My Name is Jonas" (9). Ross turned me on to The Blue Album in the first few weeks of our relationship. It quickly became a staple (along with a Red Bull) of the 40 minute drive from Elgin to Chicago to see him.

There's a lot of history with Delirious? (4). When I was a freshman in college I used to play U2 non-stop. I was sort of famous (infamous?) for it. So when my suite-mate, Darcy, heard about a Christian band that was taking the UK by storm with its U2-ish sound she had her boyfriend, a missionary there, send her a bootleg copy of Cutting Edge and gave it to me. I was a janitor at the time and I played that tape to death mopping floors and emptying trash cans in the Spoelhof Center. Nearly 10 years later a Delirious? concert was one of Ross and my first dates.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Good Stuff

Susan Boyle on Britain's Got Talent
Thanks to Crystal for sharing the wonder that is Susan Boyle! Ross and I have watched that video half a dozen times already. Love it!

Entertainment Weekly discusses the Friday Night Lights season finale.
Last week was the season 3 finale of our beloved Friday Night Lights. You know, the best show on TV?

Follow-up on the 2.25 million strong Red Envelope Day campaign.
March 31st was Red Envelope Day, a letter writing campaign to raise awareness of the enormous human toll of abortion in this country. The movement was completely ignored by main stream media, but at the white house it was impossible to ignore.

James Griffioen blogs his explorations of crumbling Detroit (and other things.)
James Griffioen was one of the guests on NPR's The Story today, talking about his wanderings through the decaying and plundered ruins of Detroit. More than ever, I find the plight of Detroit to be poignant and kinda terrifying.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

It's a sunny but chilly Good Friday here. I was reading Buechner this morning and thought I would share this passage on Good Friday (same as the note I posted on fb);
"God so loved the world," John writes, "that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." That is to say that God so loved the world that he gave his only son even to this obscene horror; so loved the world that in some ultimately indescribable way and at some ultimately immeasurable cost he gave the world himself. Out of this terrible death, John says, came eternal life not just in the sense of resurrection to life after death but in the sense of life so precious even this side of death that to live it is to stand with one foot already in eternity. To participate in the sacrificial life and death of Jesus Christ is to life already in his kingdom. This is the essence of the Christian message, the heart of the Good News, and it is why the cross has become the chief Christian symbol. A cross of all things -- a guillotine, a gallows --- but the cross at the same time as the crossroads of eternity and time, as the place where such a mighty heart was broken that the healing power of God himself could flow through it into a sick and broken world. It was for this reason that of all the possible words they could have used to describe the day of his death, the word they settled on was "good." Good Friday.

In gardening news - all of my pepper plants are growing strong, but the lavender and impatiens have been slowly declining ever since they first sprouted. I only have about six impatiens left and about 30(out of about 50)lavender. The morning glory are outgrowing the little Cetaphil jar they started in so I'm going to try to transplant them to the much roomier yogurt carton later today ;P The outdoor plants are doing great! My first daffodil bloomed today. (Sorry the picture is so bad, I was rushing because I wasn't wearing any shoes and it's cold out!)

Lilac Bush


Blurry Daffodil

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Sick Day

Today was one of those rare days in which I actually have someplace I would like to go. So, of course, I ended up getting sick. I think the snow might have aggravated my fms or something, I don't know, but, health-wise, it hasn't been a good week.

At least I have Lost to look forward to tonight!

Here's a fun Lost interview from Entertainment Weekly. (You might want to skip the pig part, I had no clue what that was about!)

An interview with Sterling Beaumon (young Ben).

Monday, April 06, 2009

April Snow

Spring is such a flippin' tease. Some of my daffodils are just moments away from opening and then, thump, they get 2.5" of wet, heavy snow dumped on their tiny heads. Around the time we went to bed my lilac bush was nearly doubled over under the weight of the snow clinging to its branches and I had to go out and shake it off. Well, I don't know if had to, but I didn't like seeing it that way, and after losing my tulips I'm feeling more protective than ever of my remaining plants.

When I woke up this morning it was like we had jumped back in time by a month or two. The floor was cold, there was no bird song, and each room was bathed in the cool, wan light. It was kind of eerie. So I snapped off a few pictures and went back to bed.

Now, several hours later, the snow is half gone and a few irrepressible birds are chirping. Hopefully, Spring will be back on track before we know it.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

A Quote for Today

Today was a great day, but I am too tired to form sentences, so I will just borrow a few from someone else!

I saw and felt the stars now, for hope had come again in my heart, and I thanked the God of hope. "Our minds are small because they are faithless," I said to myself. "If we had faith in God, as our Lord tells us, our hearts would share in His greatness and peace. For we should not then be shut up in ourselves, but would walk abroad in Him."

-George MacDonald from Annals of a Quiet Neighbourhood

Friday, April 03, 2009

Kitten and Toy

I hoped to finish at least one miniature painting today but had such a hard time choosing a subject that I got a late start and only got this far.

Hey, at least it's paint on paper. It seems like that is rarer and rarer these days. I found a bunch of note cards that I used to keep over my desk and re-posted them today, hoping they will give me a little nudge.

One has sayings from Julia Cameron's Artist's Way. Kinda corny, but they really speak to the stupid anxieties that block me from sitting down to paint.
"Creativity is play!"
"Leap and the net will appear!"
"Quantity, not quality."

And I posted this old note card, because it makes me laugh:

Grandma Moses on painting; "I don't advise anyone to take it up as a business proposition unless they really have talent, and are so crippled as to deprive them of physical labor."

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Lounging Cat Sketch

Lately tv time has been sketching time. Finished this one tonight during Smallville. I have never drawn a cat of this girth or in this position before and it was trickier than I expected. I had an especially hard time with the depth. To really get it right I would have had to pay better attention to the subtle value differences in the reference photo. Maybe I will revisit this one soon, and not when I'm watching television ;P