Wondering Why I’m Here

Here it is 14 days into June already. My 84th birthday on May 3 has passed by as fast as my life goes these days. A month and a half passes by before I notice and then I think of things to say. Like, “What is an 84 year old woman doing in trying to create a web site?” Well, I didn’t create this one. I hired someone.

But there is more to a website that setting up the first components. Adding new pictures, maybe adding more pages, trying to get it noticed so people can see it, all of this causes me to throw up my hands in recognizing my lack of experience. I just read over five blog pages which didn’t get published. I don’t know why? Apparently I failed to push the right button.

Then there are the problems which arise when I think about how to sell my book. It’s the tenth book that I have written. The others I failed to sell. Of course I can still work on that. I am learning about the help that is out there. Since I failed with the first books I need to become successful in this latest venture. I need to devote my time to it instead of getting interested in building another book; I have several waiting to be born.

So in wondering why I am here I need to dig in to this unreal world of promotion, learn the maneuvers and push through even though I feel totally unexperienced. I guess my strongest feature is the willingness to try new things. Here it is, my becoming a sales person, at 84.

The Book is Ready

Hug a Slug, Scoot a Newt, Making Friends with Nature, is ready to buy. The story details a hike in a preserve for a group of four children and their docent. They hike through four habitats: the oak woodlands, the evergreen forest, the riparian and the chaparral habitats looking at the creatures who live in them. All the pictures are collages using fabric which gives it an earthy feel. Included is a map of the hike and a glossary of terms that one confronts in the story.

This is the type of book one might find in a gift shop at a state park. Hopefully we can find the right place for it. I’d love to see it in the libraries and also in elementary schools. That is my job now, to sell it.

If you are interested let me know.

Leaves of Color

Every now and then a piece of work catches the attention of my viewers and this one has. On Facebook nineteen viewers registered their likes and eleven of these wrote comments. For me that is a lot. I must add that I, too, like this one.

I realize I should know the name of the plant. It’s a huge, actively growing, hedge like bush in my front patio. Rarely are blooms allowed to develop as I prune the bush back to keep it contained. I noticed two blooms hidden under the 2 feet new growth which is always red.

So I grabbed my phone and caught a picture. What became fascinating as I reproduced it in acrylics were the many colors of the leaves. An of course all the leaves are green, in reality except those shooting high above the bush; the new growth is red. The blue color is the reflection of the sky and a challenge to make it appear. The leaves are so shiny they reflect the night lights with little sparkles and glints of light.

Samples of My Art

One of my many collages that I work on in the early morning.
I search my collection of magazines images that I like and have cut out. I may follow a color scheme or look for interesting shapes.
It seems in this one I searched for lines as well as shapes and colors.
Kleenex boxes are a good source for the collages I make.

My daily habit in the wee hours of the morning is to select my materials and then set to arranging them in some semblance of an eye catching picture. I have many tablets full of these collages. I’ll draw the outer lines (limits) and then arrange the various selected pieces in some kind of order that suits my eye. Then I use a common glue stick to adhere them to the background in my tablet. I may add a sparkle or two with the metallic ink I have. After studying the collage for a moment I write a Haiku to accompany it. I photograph it with my phone and immediately post it on Facebook with the Haiku.

Processing a Book

What a process getting a book ready to publish! My new children’s book, “Hug a Slug, Scoot a Newt, Making Friends with Nature” has about 8 reincarnations by now. My editor and I asked various people to read and make comments (suggestions or questions) about it. Then we make the necessary corrections or changes.

My daughter noticed that the docent figure didn’t change her stance throughout the story. And, yes, I had made the children have different poses and just put the thought aside of changing the docent. Originally each figure had only one stance. Now I’m changing the docent.

Which means changing seven pictures and photographing them again.

Also, several readers mentioned the need for a glossary. So I need to create that. I will used a cloth background to type on. I have to figure how the computer can do that. I photographed two sections of a possible background cloth. I am now figuring out how to make a sheet of paper out of it so I can type on it.

Below are pictures of the characters:

By making a new set of children I had a chance to have several skin colors.

Reuniting with Friends

What a wonderful week I have had. Three occasions of meeting people face to face and maskless. Monday I rode the bus and walked through downtown Santa Rosa to the Glacer Center to meet my friends of the Older and Bolder Ladies, women who have reached their 80th year. We realized that when we were all vaccinated we could meet in person instead of zooming twice a month. What a joyful experience to see people in the flesh after a whole year of isolation.

Then a friend of mine, another member of the percussion section of the New Horizon Band, stopped by for a conversation, in my apartment, maskless. We covered most of the year talking about our experiences during the shutdown, bringing ourselves up to date and considering how the group could reunite and play together again.

And because I was ready and my dear friends were finished with their vaccinations I arranged a dinner party. I fixed a Spanish flavored rice and chicken dish containing flavorful and spicy Jalapeno peppers. Friends brought the a green salad with shrimp, an apple pie with a crumb topping and a sauvignon blanc to accompany the rice. After dinner we played Up Words, a type of scrabble game. We were back. Back to sharing our stories, our joys and sorrows, our experiences as we go through life.

I shared my pictures made of fabric that I made to illustrate a story about a docent led hike through the Bouverie Preserve at Glen Ellen. Here is a sample. It will be a print book and ready for publication this month.

Entering Evergreen Forest
Acorn Woodpeckers
Water Critters

Keeping Focused

I’m beginning to think that I have too many interests, things I want to keep up with. Each week I have scheduled several zoom meetings including regular class gatherings and then other scheduled webinars of many interests, such as climate activism, town halls about local government, nature explorations, and on and on. As I’ve mentioned before my primary focus is the book, the nature book with the pictures out of fabric.

Above is a fabric representation of the Western Fence Lizard doing push ups to attract a female or let the others males in the neighbor hood that he is strong and a force to deal with. I added texture on the lizard with a colored pen. The sky space above can be used for the words of the story.

And a picture of Mountain Lion tracks which can be detected as someone walks along the woodland path.

You can see that I am a minimalist because I use only enough information to inform the viewer. What amazes me is how I can do minimalist pictures but my day to day life is full of detail, filled up in fact, and I’m thinking maybe I need to cut out the nonessential. Now there’s a job for me.

Waiting for Life to Happen

Can you ever imagine staying at home and never venturing out for eleven months? Well, it happened to me. Although I did spend September and October in New Hampshire with my daughter hiding out from the fires in Sonoma County, California. The rest of the year I hunkered down in my apartment, peaking out now and then. As the pandemic grew and became a true monster I withdrew more and more. All my food I had delivered with my trusty friend and ever present helpmate, Amazon. It gave me whatever I wanted solving all my problems. My other close friend, Zoom, was always willing . I could go everywhere with Zoom and amazingly there were always some thing to see, to visit, to attend via Zoom. It offered unmasked faces with mouths that moved and smiled. What a wonderful thing, to be able to recreate a human interaction, over a computer, using the many electrons it takes to recreate reality.

Following this is a couple pictures from my collection. One represents the peace one finds in nature. The other creates a new reality, ordered, and free, all at once.

Look toward nature for peace.
Looking toward a new reality.

The New Project

Several year’s ago I wrote a story about a children’s hike at the Bouverie Preserve. I had trained as a docent and had led many hikes with 3rd and 4th graders. The story follows a group through the preserve as they look at what’s there to talk about.

Because I had a couple drawers full of fabric scraps, I sew a lot, I decided to make the pictures out of fabric. I enjoyed selecting the colors and the prints as I designed each page. For ease of producing pictures that include children I made them separate so I could photograph the children placed on each picture as needed. The final count is sixteen pages. And with the text pages the book would be about 22 pages, a nice size of a children’s book.

That’s as far as I got, then. The book has been tucked away in the closet for all these years. Now I brought the fabric pages out to photograph with the children, read the story on the computer, and started integrating the two. It’s hard work and I lost interest when I was through. I wanted to make it a printed book out of it. I knew I needed money to do that. So I waited as I wondered who to get to do the book.

I discovered my memoir teacher did editing and layout. As we talked back and forth we finally agreed to work on the project together. Now I’m busy redoing the children to make them more like 3rd and 4th graders. My cohort is editing and doing the layout and adding some science pages to the back of the story. I’m excited to be working on it with a partner and envisioning how it will look in the end.

Our Window Exhibition

During the pandemic my church group, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Santa Rosa, knowing they were closing for more than a year, decided to display art in their front windows. Not being a typical church building, at one time it was a theater downtown, it has windows that face the street. The administrator asked if I had some paintings to show. I thought, great, I have been working on a project of endangered animals. I’d love the opportunity to show them to the walking public.

For the past ten months my paintings plus those of two other artists have been enjoyed by those walking by. This next week we are going to change the display and I will hang more animals on the list. A red Panda, who is as small as a cat, Bluefin Tuna swirling in the blue, a couple of Polar Bears moaning, several Lady Bugs roaming a geranium leaf, and a Karner Blue Butterfly hovering over its favorite flowers will displace those there now. The major cause of extinction is the loss of habitat. Insects like the wild, open spaces which are disappearing as we, humans, build our houses and farm huge expanses of land.

This is a watercolor.