Monday, May 31, 2010

Getting my life back

I'ts slow going. I feel sort of like I've been knocked off my axis and can't quite get a grip on things. But, I'm making progress.

Trevor (17 year old grandson) is graduating from high school this week, and Candis (13 year old granddaughter) is graduating from Jr. High tomorrow. Lots going on around here. Candis and I shopped for the decorations for Trevor's graduation party, and we found an adorable stuffed toy, a big round fluffy white furball with a grad mortar board on top. I had it in the bottom of a big bag here with the other decorations. When I was going through the bag, Nikki noticed the stuffed furball and her eyes lit up. I explained it was NOT for her. No! Nikki! Leave it alone! I put it back in a smaller bag in the bottom of the big bag. Okay, everything went fine for several days she walked past it without a glance. I forgot about it. Then the other afternoon I was cleaning the deck outside and when I came in there she sat in the middle of the floor hugging this white fluffy ball. No Nikki! You leave that alone! And I double wrapped it in plastic and put it back in the bag. A couple days later I was working out in the studio and I noticed Nikki was missing. She disappeared for quite awhile. Hmmmm.... usually means she is up to mischief. Called her and she came dashing into studio with such a pleased with herself look on her face (she's too adorable). What did you do? was the first thing to come out of my mouth. I stepped outside, and there in the garden with Lulu guarding it - was Trevor's furball. They had unwrapped it and carried it down the stairs to play outside. Both girls were so happy I swear they were giggling and squealing and high fiving each other! Well, not really. I retrieved it again and it now resides in the locked studio until Thursday. fortunately they did not chew it up, or unstuff it all over the living room - it looks intact. I have to give it to Nikki. When she wants something, she just waits for the opportunity and goes for it. She plans it all out in that clever, sly little chihuahua brain. Lulu just goes along for the fun of it. She follows Nikki around with a conversation I image goes like this. "Whatcha doing now Nik? Can I come to? I wanna help, I wanna play with that too." Being a terrier, she does not want to give it back once she gets hold of it! I can't imagine life without these little characters. I"m not sure a 17 year old boy really wants a big fur ball - and he's nuts about Nikki. I have a hunch she may just wheedle him out of it soon.

Today was a day of hard work on the country place. Power wash by my son Matt, leaf and pine needle raking by Nathan and Brendon. the place shines and sparkles. Looks wonderful Candis helped inside and we emptied drawers and shelves. I'm going to be doing non stop laundry for several days to freshen everything up before returning them to the country. It was a great day. Even the apple orchard was open so we had apple donuts and juice. Yummmm..... My very best friend Cat who is a clean-freak is going to shampoo the carpets and clean the inside soon so we can start the season fresh and tidy. I can hardly wait. I've got a nice stack of books to read sitting there waiting for me. And the radio is tuned to NPR. It's heaven on Earth.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Book of Michael

As I'm trying to work through my feelings about this horrible tragedy and the terrible feeling of loss, a book of Michael is being formed in my mind and will soon translate to paper. 30 pages long, one for each year of his life. The first 16 I will fill with photos and his drawings and sweet and funny things I remember about him. Somewhere I have a little tape recording of his voice as he asked me a million questions one day. I hope I can find it. The last 14 pages will be blank since those are the years I did not see or hear of/or from him. The lost years. At the end will be the obit along with my poem. I hope this helps the healing process. I will give it to his dad when it's done and maybe it will help him too.

Michael's drinking buddies and friends are giving a bash celebrating his life at his fav sports bar in another county at the end of next week. I don't know if I can bear to go. Accepting his life style after the fact is one thing - to mix with it is another. This is a pic of Michael and me at my parent's house.


Michael's death was like a major earthquake and now come the aftershocks. Talking to his dad. Talking to his mom. Reading that obit. I spent the evenig looking at old photos and trying to find the little drawings he left here. I kept one on my office file cabinet at work until I retired. Remembering the good times and trying to erase the pain.

Here's a pic of Mikey with his dad in happier times.

It's been a week now, and tonite was the first time I tasted my dinner. I've been eating - it's just that nothing had any flavor.

Obit - hanging out the dirty laundry

First let me tell you that this was written by a bunch of my grandson Michael's friends who got together over some beers and wrote it as if it were Michael's own words. I hear he was a great photographer and had a talent for writing. Buckle your seat belts, cause this isn't like any obit you've read before. I'm still rocking from my first read through. ----------------------

Michael Alan Schoening

- May 13, 2010
Michael Alan Schoening, a well known and fearsome redneck adventurer chose to end his life on the morning of May 13th 2010. He was renowned for his quick wit, gritty back woods charm, and uncanny ability to wreck other people cars. He had an energetic imagination that could turn the most mundane set of events or experiences into elaborate and impromptu stories that would send anyone listening into convulsive and debilitating laughter. He could deliver spontaneous and monstrous fabrications with utter sincerity and his dead pan humor and sarcasm could turn the most bitter tragedy into a ludicrous farce.

Mike hitchhiked his way around the country in his early 20's explored our country and took up residence in Rhode Island, which he referred to as, "The smallest, stupidest state." If any one place could claim responsibility for spawning and nurturing this rare specimen, it was Amador County, to which he continually returned. As he put it, "The world is full of stupid a-holes, but Amador County is full of a-holes I know" (Mike, of course, did not say "a-hole"). The times he moved to other places like Sacramento, Sonora and elsewhere, he tried to drag the worst parts of Amador with him, like his scalawag cohorts Joel and Dart. Mike was a connoisseur of four-wheeling, drinking, shooting guns, senseless acts of vandalism, and loved getting high.

He was brilliant, hilarious, we loved him, and the world is a darker, duller place without him. He is survived by his mother Linda, his best friend Erin, his grandparents, his dog "Rocket", hundreds of loving friends, and the remainder of the God-forsaken human race.

"There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass-production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die."

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Computer mentality

I spend so much time on the computer, that I have come to think I can hit "undo" and go back and change ANYTHING. It's not like life, is it?

Life is not all roses and puppies.

My family and I are in mourning for the loss of my oldest grandson. He would have been 30 this year.


Wasn’t it only yesterday

when You followed me around

chattering a mile a minute.

My first grandchild. My Michael.

So full of little boy energy and curiosity.

So sweet, with those big wide eyes, and blond hair.

Then there was the bitter divorce

followed by years of fighting to be able to see you

and finally, in your teen years

you divorced yourself from us.

The years went by - nothing was ever resolved.

Why didn’t we fight harder?

Why didn’t we try harder?

I’m sorry Michael.

Now it’s too late.

Your life was too short.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Playing with old photos

This are little tablescapes in my living room, tweaked with Photoshop elements.

Mother's Day weekend.

Mother's Day weekend. Mother's Day and roses go together in my memory book. We always clipped roses for the table. As kids we usually ate dinners in the dining room. Mother set a nice table, simple but there were almost always fresh flowers of some kind in the center. When I was grown and living outside of Chicago for a number of years, I really missed the earlier Springs that we have in California. On particularly rough winter just dragged on and on. My mother sent a whole box of her fresh cut roses to me as a surprise. This is the nicest gift I'd ever received, and such a loving touching gesture from so far off was well received. They traveled fine and arrived fresh and fragrant. They went in the center of my table and brought an earlier Spring with them.

Jackie sent this photo of the flowers she set on her table today. I tweaked them with Photoshop and first posted my results, but now went back and put in Jackie's photos. I decided you can't improve on Mother Nature.

Yesterday I drove Jean and Francis up to San Andreas to go to a fashion show that was put on as a benefit for the Senior Center there. All the clothes modeled were from local thrift stores, and it was held outside in a park. We had a mix of wonderful sunshine or shade under the trees, with a little cool breeze. Gin, Cat and I spent most of our time in the sun. Carole, Jean and Francis aren't devout sun worshipers so they stayed in the shade. It was a fun day. The models came in all shapes and sizes, and all ages from 8 to 80+. Riding with friends chatting away made the miles go by much faster and I enjoyed their company.

My brother and SIL left today for their big trip to Peru. A once in a lifetime adventure. I miss them already.

Happy Mother's Day all my friends.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Garden cuttings

In the middle of my table, I have a group of cuttings from my garden. I thought I'd take a pic and preserve the memory of them at this stage, and then - AHA! I decided to tweak it in Photoshop Elements as an exercise to help compose a painting. Here are three variations. The reason I like to play with them this way is - I would never have thought to go dark wtih this subject - yet when I tried it by adjusting colors and contrast and saturation - I can see that it would make a very interesting painting. Hmmmmm........ Look how the little face on the bottle disappeared, and a new face emerged! Awesome!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Recycled tyvek mailing envelopes

This is a great way to use your old mail envelopes. They are sturdy and can hold up to heavy winds, and dance in the slightest breeze. 1. First, peel off any labels that you can get off, and tape as well. You can make these leaving them on, but it's easier to cut when they are removed. 2. Fold the envelope in half lengthwise. 3. fold each side into thirds, so you will end up with 6 sections. Make sharp folds, so it will be easy to cut good slits through them. 4. Leave about 1 and a half inches at the closed end of the envelope. Below that, using very sharp scissors cut across the fold, nearly all the way across - within about 3/4 of an inch. Cut another slit about 3/4 of an inch parallel with the first slit. (slits can be curved or straight) Continue cutting more slits to about 2 inches from the other end of envelope. 5. Turn the envelope over so the cuts are facing away from you and the clean uncut side is facing you. Now you will work your way down the envelope cutting slits in between the other slits, but from the opposite fold. Stop about 2 inches from end. See the pictures. 6. You can fringe the ends now, or cut shapes (I cut fish shapes) that will hang at the bottom. Or later you can staple or stitch on something to dangle from the end of the piece. 7. Now you carefully unfold the envelope with all the slits in it. 8. Then, when it is unfolded, grasp the folded end of envelope (or have someone else hold it) and stretch it from the opposite end. There it is. 9. Now cut across the ends of top section to make an opening to slip over a stick or pole.

Originally I made one of these out of a sheet of paper, which I found tore easily and so I looked for something that would fold and cut well but not tear easily. Tyvek was the perfect answer. It does not need to be an envelope. You can make them flat. I like the envelope as it makes it into a "sock". When I taught my friends to make the, they wanted to paint their old envelopes. I was hesitant, thinking it might stick together when the cuts were made, but only one friend had a problem, and it was because the paint was thicker. Nancy used the Lumiere paint and it was perfect. Next time she wants to paint the inside and the outside. I just received a package yesterday in the mail and have another envelope to recycle. Maybe I'll paint this one.

You can vary the lengths and widths and numbers of slits. The length of the stretched envelope will vary depending on the slits you cut. I hope you have fun with these. Let me know what you do, please.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A day in May

Here are a few pics. First is a volunteer oak tree - when I pulled it out, the entire root came out with it. Very sturdy root system. Sometime when I pull them out I get the old acorn as well. The iris photos was taken today in Modesto at Bev's house. It's the most beautiful color I've seen. I did not tweak the color or lighting digitally. This is just they way it looks.

The next photo is a windsock made of a recycled tyvek mail envelope. I learned to make the cuts in a book "A Japanese Touch for the Seasons". After some experimenting, I adapted the cutting pattern for a recycled mailing envelope. Tyvek cuts easily, is super strong and lightweight, and takes to paints. Nancy used Lumiere paints on this one. These are so much fun I had to teach my art pals to make them.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fences? who need fences?

People with dogs need fences. People like me. On the side of my garden between my house and the neighbor - the fence was really getting saggy, and there was a lot of rot in the wood, broken pieces, loose boards, etc. The dogs are always trying to wriggle through to get to visit the neighbor's dogs and visa versa. Finally Frank Jr., my retired neighbor, decided it was time to fix it - or rather replace it, since we'd been making a patchwork of it the last couple years. it was a losing battle. My fence line is lined with plants, arbor, pots, and decorative things, some planter boxes etc. So, the teen boys and their pals worked one evening moving things away from the fence and lining them along the house and strewing them wherever there was a bare spot. It looks like a hurricane hit out there. Yesterday morning the boys and Frank's grandson took down the fence. Board by board. We took down two large volunteer trees and had to do massive pruning to lilacs and other plants to the new fence can be built. Now, we are waiting for the builder. I'll miss the old fence, it holds lots of memories. Franks Sr. and I used to do a lot of flirting over that old fence years ago. I love old fence boards, but have sent them off to the dump so I won't stockpile them. No hoarding wood anymore! It's going to be like having a new canvas to paint on when it goes up. I can move the pots around, get rid of the overgrown things, and it will probably be filled up again very soon. The old birdhouses are gone. I think maintenance will be easier, especially with those trees removed. Boys dug out some other pesty plants that kept coming up year after year no matter what other measures I took to get rid of them.

All this activity follows two weeks of horribe pain from oral surgery. I like the diversion and am feeling better now and anxious to get back to my normal life. If I can remember what it was like! LOL