Sunday, February 28, 2010

Today (rejoice in small things)


I crossed a busy street, by myself, and didn't have any anxiety about getting hit by a car. I can not tell you how happy this makes me!   I'm getting better!

After the accident, I was hyper-anxious and aware of the tons of steel and glass barreling past me, and the drivers who were texting/changing music/talking on the phone/sleepy* short not paying attention. I did not get hit by a car (but have been thisclose on several occasions, often while cycling..and I know people who have been hit while cycling). I got my injury because I had tripped and hit my head on pavement.  One would think that I would be scared of falling... and I kind of am. I hold my hands out around me when I'm walking down stairs or am navigating a tricky surface (ice, snow, rocks).

  The hyper anxiety about potentially unsafe situations is apparently a symptom. It's the brain's way of keeping me out of danger. My brain is/was acting like a driver's ed teacher with the brake on their side of the car. Danger, Will Robinson.

Today, I feel a little more normal. I don't feel like such a nut, having to hold somebody's hand or check the road 12 times both ways, or just avoiding crossing altogether. I did avoid crossing the road for a while. I would walk the dogs down the street, always on the same side I lived on.  Thinking about traffic made me very anxious, scared, crazy (I'm a grown woman, fer cryin' out loud).

So, the little things, here's to them. May we rejoice in small victories.

*if you are a driver that is distracted, please visit this link, and then sign Oprah's No Phone Zone pledge.

Jeff Huntington

Jeff Huntington- Orchids (#738), oil on canvas, 32x30 inches

Gorgeous, isn't it? Go check out Jeff's work at 

Everybody Gets Knocked Down


I am/was a recreational triathlete. I have also been caving, sky diving, mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, canoeing, acro-yoga-ing, waterfall jumping.... I very much like to be doing something. I'm not competitive, I just like to have the experience, and to encourage others to try.  Running, swimming, biking... some of my best Summer memories are from doing these things.  One Summer's day years ago, my brother and I were deciding how to spend the daylight hours-we decided to ride our bikes up a prominent local "hill" (700 ft elevation gain). It was hard, but it was a fantastic ride and we enjoyed every minute of it.

When I got my injury, it was when I was doing a short training run for a Half-Ironman triathlon. I had finished multiple triathlon and running races before the incident. I went on paceline rides with a cycling group.  I had even gotten a finisher's medal for a marathon (I'm not fast, but I finish!).

 photo by emples on flickr

After the injury, it took me a while to come to the conclusion that I was not going to be at the start line in Rhode Island for the triathlon. It could endanger my health, and the health of other athletes (what if I had crashed?). It broke my heart. The registration was pretty expensive, and non-refundable, so I decided to go to packet pick up to at least get the T-Shirt to remember all the work I had put into the race. This plan was not very well thought out, and I sobbed uncontrollably in the parking garage on packet pick up day, surrounded by hopeful people and their beautiful racing cycles.  For the remaining summer, I would be hit with sadness when I saw someone running or riding, my inner voice whispering that I had to stay put on the porch.  When I saw a group of cyclists, I would wish them a good ride. I couldn't enjoy the gentle breeze, smooth pavement, dappled sunlight, and smells of barbecue; but hoped somebody else did.

Now that I am slowly getting better, I have a little hope.  Maybe I can go do a lap in the sparkling waters of Walden pond. Maybe I can go on some gentle summer road rides. Maybe get wet-suited up for a sprint tri this year. Maybe a 5k. Who knows? Start small. Gain confidence. Have fun. We'll see.

I saw this Nike commercial yesterday.  I won't lie when I tell you that it touches me.

and...Lance is in it. Lance always makes my day, offers hope. He smiles with his dead Elvis grin and tells you he can race again.

The song in the ad is by The Hours and is titled "Ali in the Jungle". It's title references Muhammed Ali.
Some lyrics:

It's, not, where you are, It's where you're going,
Where are you going?
And it's, not, about the things you've done, it's what you're doing, now,
What are you doing, now? 

Everybody gets knocked down,
How quick are you gonna' get up?
Just how are you gonna' get up?

Like Ali in the jungle,
Like Nelson in jail,
Like Simpson on the mountain,
Well with odds like that, they were bound to fail
Like Hannah in the darkness,
Like Adam's in the dark,
Like Ludwig Van, how I loved that man, well the guy went deaf and didn't give a f*ck, no... 

Saturday, February 27, 2010



Concord is one of my favorite local towns. As the wikipedia link states, Concord "is noted for its leading roles in American history and literature."   I have seen the Old North Bridge,  walked in Sleepy Hollow cemetery, seen Louisa May Alcott's home, and have been swimming in the refreshingly beautiful water of Thoreau's Walden Pond. I have ridden my bicycle to and through it many times, enjoying the colonial architecture and gardens of this small historical town. It is also a delight to walk around and check out the shops and galleries. If you go, lunch is always delicious at the Main Street Cafe.

We went to Concord today for two things:
-Check out the exhibits of members and Merrill Comeau at the Concord Art Association
-Join the Concord Art Association

The outcome of this trip is that I am now a member, and I got to see some fabulous art in the process!

First off, Merrill Comeau. Merrill is a fabric artist that does such wonderfully organic and colorful pieces that it's hard not to like her art. Think  ... art quilts. Spectacular use of colors, patterns, textures, and shine. Do go check out her site, you'll be delighted. If you get the chance to see Merrill's work in person, carve out some time and go. This is a link to her exhibition in Concord.

The member exhibition was interesting in that it had great variety. Abstract, realism, photos, paintings, drawings, quilting, and sculpture...they were all represented. Some of my favorite pieces were by Thomas WhelanErica Mason, and Judith Cooper. To be fair, there were a lot of talented artists represented by their work.

I look forward to meeting other members of the Concord Art Association and being inspired by them and their work.

Rules to Live By (borrowed edition)

 Lily of the Valley photo by Daawn on Flickr
I read these very true rules on Rosemary's wonderful blog, Content in a Cottage. I encourage you to go check her posts out if you're at all interested in beautiful architecture, simple pleasures (books, chai, and doggies), and gracious living in general. She's also got a pretty good sense of humor!

12 Rules to Live By
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)  

-Make up your mind to be happy. Learn to find pleasure in simple things.
-Make the best of circumstances. No one has everything and everyone has something of sorrow.
-Don't take yourself too seriously. 
-Don't let criticism worry you. You can't please everybody. 
-Don't let your neighbors set your standards; be yourself.
-Do things you enjoy doing but stay out of debt.
-Don't borrow trouble. Imaginary things are harder to bear than actual ones. 
-Since hate poisons the soul, do not cherish enmities and grudges. Avoid people who make you unhappy. 
-Have many interests. If you can't travel, read about places. 
-Don't hold post-mortems or spend time brooding over sorrows and mistakes. 
-Do what you can for those less fortunate than yourself. 
-Keep busy at something. A very busy person never has time to be unhappy.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Influences -Wayne Thiebaud

Around The Cake, oil on canvas, 22x28 inches (click picture to see the sculptural icing)

I was introduced to the work of Wayne Thiebaud when I was in college. I immediately liked his simple shapes that were enhanced with such beautiful real texture, pattern, and saturated colors. I think it also helped that a lot of his works are paintings of desserts!
Cakes, oil on canvas, 60"x72"

Wayne's landscapes are gorgeous too, for all of the same reasons I liked the desserts paintings. While the dessert paintings conform to common perspective, the landscape paintings tend to show off Thiebaud's talent for turning the world into Gumby-like surfaces that bend and dive.

San Francisco West Side Ridge

Thursday, February 25, 2010

TED talk with Temple Grandin

photo by Tanakwho on Flickr   

When I was falling asleep a couple of nights ago, I paid attention to the images that popped into my head. This is not a new thing, the images. I remember first talking about it to friends years ago (their reaction led me to believe that I am somewhat different, maybe crazy).  The images come rapidfire, and are complete in their detail (to the point where I could easily draw them if I had a sketchbook and colored pencils). Bam!Bam!Bam!Bam!Bam!Bam!....  Purple watercolor gorillas, red barns in autumn, koi fish, green apples sitting on a sunny marble counter top. A lot of the images are very random, but sometimes I'll get a string of images that are somewhat related. Green orchids, yellow roses on a brick wall, tea roses, a cup of chamomile tea, lemon slices, oranges, limes on a wooden board.

    So, as I was saying, I paid attention a few nights ago. I snatched an image, studied it like I had snatched a dandelion puff from a breeze and was interested in how it floats. The aforementioned watercolor illustration of a lavender gorilla standing upright next to a simple light orange coconut tree popped in my head. I know it was watercolor because of the washes and the texture of the paper the image was on. At this point you're probably thinking the same thing I was thinking.. what was that all doing in my head? Where did it come from? Had I seen this before? Was it something that I had unconsciously squirreled away? Since my accident, I am all sorts of interested in how the mind works and why it does the things it does. I don't think I would have put the images up for examination if I didn't have an injury.  I think I would have just shrugged it off the way I did years ago.

Imagine my excitement today when I came across this TED talk by Temple Grandin. A description of the video from the TED site:

Temple Grandin, diagnosed with autism as a child, talks about how her mind works -- sharing her ability to "think in pictures," which helps her solve problems that neurotypical brains might miss. She makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids.

 And then I find this on Temple Grandin's website:

My mind is associative and does not think in a linear manner. If you say the word 'butterfly', the first picture I see is butterflies in my childhood backyard. The next image is metal decorative butterflies that people decorate the outside of their houses with and the third image is some butterflies I painted on a piece of plywood when I was in graduate school. Then my mind gets off the subject and I see a butterfly cut of chicken that was served at a fancy restaurant approximately 3 days ago.

I'm not saying I'm autistic, or a genius, or special. I do, however, heavily relate to what she describes as a photo realistic visual thinker. I even relate to her comments about algebra ( a few months ago I reflected on the disaster that was algebra, and I thought... why didn't I just do geometry?). I loved earth science, biology, and astronomy; but failed at chemistry (I had problems visualizing and couldn't relate) and therefore wasn't allowed to progress to physics (which would have probably blown my mind anyway). I still love science. I think that if I didn't have art, I would be working in a biology related field.

Picasso's Dora Maar with Cat

Art... it's pretty obvious I love art. I do everything from painting to drawing to 3D modeling and animation (self taught).

But even in art, I had some problems with abstract thinking. For example, I didn't understand Picasso's works until somebody said "he just draws the object/individual from all viewing angles at once and puts it all on the same canvas".  This made immediate sense. It was as though Picasso had the Matrix cameras. You remember where one of the main characters jumps up and the camera revolves around her even though she is still in the air? Another example-  I didn't understand Jackson Pollock either until a teacher said that his paintings are a record of paint in air. I related this to playing with water from a hose when I was a child. I remember trying to make very temporary water sculptures by making the water go in arcs, making arches that sparkled in the sun.

Temple says that there are many different brains, and together we are very strong and diverse. We all have our strengths and weaknesses.  

I'm going to go work on art now.  :)  Go do something that you love, too!

A Good Resource

I stumbled upon 
It looks to be a site that is very useful, inspiring, and informative for survivors and families.
It is an information goldmine, and I highly recommend checking it out.

And there are pictures by brain injury survivors that have captions describing what they are experiencing.  The picture below is just a jpg and won't actually play anything..

 Brain Injury X-Posed: The Survivor’s View
What does it feel like to live with a brain injury? What are the issues and concerns of survivors? How do they cope? Where do they find comfort, support, and hope?

Brain Injury X-Posed: The Survivor’s View is a photographic exhibit created by eight members of the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts Framingham support group. Each participant in the project took photographs and wrote personal narratives that reflect their experience living with brain injury. The exhibit was on display during March 2009 at the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
“Taking photos and talking about them helped to peel away the layers of issues and emotions like the layers of an onion,” says Barbara Webster, facilitator of the Framingham group, who also sustained a TBI.

I have talked to Barbara on the phone, she has been really helpful and nice.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Walton Ford

I think Walton Ford's pieces are incredible.


To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat.  ~Beverly Nichols

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

On the Importance of Naps for Everybody


Naps are pretty important to my recovery. I've posted about the effects of not napping before. I get worn down pretty quickly. It turns out that naps are beneficial for everybody's brain, according to a newly released study from the University of Berkeley California.

  If you see a student dozing in the library or a co-worker catching 40 winks in her cubicle, don't roll your eyes. New research from the University of California, Berkeley, shows that an hour's nap can dramatically boost and restore your brain power. Indeed, the findings suggest that a biphasic sleep schedule not only refreshes the mind, but can make you smarter.

  Conversely, the more hours we spend awake, the more sluggish our minds become, according to the findings. The results support previous data from the same research team that pulling an all-nighter – a common practice at college during midterms and finals –- decreases the ability to cram in new facts by nearly 40 percent, due to a shutdown of brain regions during sleep deprivation.

  "Sleep not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness but, at a neurocognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were before you took a nap," said Matthew Walker, an assistant professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and the lead investigator of these studies.

"It's as though the e-mail inbox in your hippocampus is full and, until you sleep and clear out those fact e-mails, you're not going to receive any more mail. It's just going to bounce until you sleep and move it into another folder," Walker said.

emphasis mine.

So, when do we start Siesta in our culture? Can you imagine that???  Naps... they're quite the luxury and not very productive, are they?  There is a great graphic from the Boston Globe on napping, check it out.

I originally found this on Lifehacker, a source for a lot of useful things, especially if you are technologically inclined.

The Truth, well said

There is a lovely article in Esquire about Roger Ebert, his battle with cancer, and his outlook on life...

"These things come to us, they don't come from us, he writes about his cancer, about sickness, on another Post-it note. Dreams come from us."

Monday, February 22, 2010

Painting- Artist Revealed

Artist Revealed, 18"x24", acrylic on canvas

I have just sent this piece out to San Francisco, California for the Shout! art show hosted by Swords To Ploughshares  showcasing the talents of artists who are also military veterans. The show will be on March 17th and 18th. More details here.

**all of the images in this post can be enlarged by clicking on them**

The title of this piece is Artist Revealed. It's a bit of a self portrait in the respect that there are details that reflect who I am and what I have done.  There is an Air Force Commendation medal in the still life, as well as a glass perfume bottle my mother gave me, a milk glass vase from my sister, a bouquet of Ranunculus, a book that features Van Gogh (and the origins of the painting's title), and apples. Some objects have shades of meaning, others just are what they are- an enjoyment, an appreciation.

I thought that the title of the book, The Artist Revealed, was entirely appropriate in multiple layers. I had mentioned earlier that this is a self portrait of sorts. Another layer of meaning has to do with people's multiple facets. If I had told you that I was an artist, not too many people would automatically relate that to a military veteran, and vice versa. The truth is that everyone of us is a faceted gem with multiple lives and experiences that go beyond a singular categorization.

I have taken pictures of my whole process, which I will share with you..
The painting is based on a photo that I took and used for reference. The first picture is a general roughing out of shapes, colors, and tonal values. The background is all red, because I don't like to start with plain white and I like to let some background color shine through the painting giving the work a little electricity. And, yes, the studio/office wall is actually a pumpkin color (I'm not afraid of colors in the house).

This next photo shows my original intentions of having a very organic background comprised of overlapping circles. A lot of the colors are being established here.

I'm trying at this point to show something luminous. The aforementioned circles are still trying to work their way in.

I gave up on the circles for the background. I felt the composition needed another angular element to balance out the book that the apples are resting on.

The Ranunculus petals start to take shape and light. I begin really trying to model the apples into recognizable apple form. The medal is blocked in with basic colors.

The details of the glass perfume bottle are worked. I love glass, and this bottle is rather fun to paint. The apples, flowers, vase, book, and medal get more detail.

The shadows of the apples on the book are made more definitive. The lonely apple on the right was giving me trouble in that it looked flat, not apple-like, so there was more work to be done on that. I also add more organically shaped shadows on the bottom of the canvas to reflect the Ranunculus shapes at the top of the canvas. The book's lettering is painted in, and after this shot was taken, I signed it.

The whole time I am working, I am also doing a couple of other things. I think about my current and future life. I reflect on experiences that have led me to this painting. I listen to music... Stevie Nicks, Sting, and Madeleine Peyroux for this piece.  When it is all done, I feel a bit of accomplishment akin to finishing a twenty page paper the night before it is due. Happy and relieved.

So, if you're near San Francisco on the 17th and 18th of March, you can go see this piece as well as other fantastic pieces by women veteran artists! I am not yet aware of who else will be showing work, but I'm sure there will be some beautiful and thoughtful art. Many thanks to the organization, Swords to Plowshares for hosting this event!


William Wendt, Hills in Springtime, 20x36, oil on canvas

It's pretty hard not to be influenced by William Wendt's beautiful paintings.


Sunday, February 21, 2010


There is an interesting article in Slate about the history of what some deem to be the most feminine color ever, and certainly the most polarizing in our culture... Pink.

 Cherry Blossom picture by Conner395 on Flickr

I will admit to being someone who has been a little frustrated with the color. For example, when I was mountain biking, just about every riding jersey in the women's section was pink.. with flowers or butterflies or cupcakes . You know from my paintings that I love flowers, butterflies, and I am currently working on two paintings that feature pink! So, what is the problem, you ask?  I didn't like that I didn't have a choice of jerseys- or bicycles for that matter. So many manufacturers were trying to appeal to the women's market by "shrink it and pink it" mentality, meaning they took men's bicycles and made them smaller and pink, and sometimes added flowers. They didn't really consider the geometry (women's torsos are shorter and their legs longer than men's), they just pushed them out and said "take it or leave it".

I LOVE cupcakes, I just don't want to wear them

The manufacturers have since changed the way they do business. There are more colors available, and the geometry is much better. When I was looking for a road bike, I ended up getting a men's cycle anyway because the women's cycles don't really accommodate a 5' 11" female. There were adjustments (I had to really get fitted or the geometry might result in knee, back, and shoulder problems), and my bicycles fit me perfectly now.

I do have a pink jersey now, it's rather plain. I also have bright orange, bright green, and light blue. Colors- I like them all.

As an end note:  There are multiple bicycling races each year, and quite a few tours. You are probably familiar with the Tour de France, made popular with the American public by Lance Armstrong. There is also the Ladies Tour of Qatar !!  Did you know about the Giro d'Italia?   It's the same kind of multiple day race as the Tour, but it happens in Italy. And the winning rider's jersey is known as the "maglia rosa", which means pink jersey.   ;)

Denis Menchov leading the 2009 Giro d'Italia

Music- Yundi Li plays Chopin Nocturne

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I'm now listed on !  Ahtspot is an online community of New England artists, and I'm happy to be included.  :)


Butterfly for my Sister

 close to being finished butterfly, 16"x20", oil on masonite

This is a WIP picture of a butterfly that I painted in oils for my sister.  It's one of the first oil paintings that I have done, and had a blast doing.  This was a present for my sister, so I had to wait a while to post this. It has since been finished and given.

My sister is a big fan of butterflies. She has gone so far as to get a rather exquisite tattoo of a Monarch.

I've always liked them, too. I think I've always wanted a butterfly on my wall, but was more partial to the butterfly specimens (dead butterflies in a box), because of the beautiful colors. I just didn't want a dead critter on my wall.  My solution? Paint 'em.


I just checked out the usage statistics for
People from all over the East Coast, Texas, California, Seattle, as well as Germany and the Ukraine are viewing my art!   How wonderful is that?


Now, if I can find out the user statistics for this blog....

Friday, February 19, 2010

Documentary- Wipeout

This is a documentary about the experiences of brain injury survivors.  This site also heavily promotes helmets*.

There are other videos on the site. I have just finished Chris Tutin's video blog (intro). In it, Chris says that "everybody's brain injury isn't the same, it's different".  We're kinda like snowflakes that way.  While Chris has physical limitations, his intelligence is fine.  My brain injury is different in the respect that I don't have much physical limitation (my balance is off), but my cognitive skills are lacking in some areas.

 Chris has a good sense of humor and a willingness to inform others of what his abilities and limitations are. I think you have to have a good sense of humor, for life in general, but especially when you are presented with hard circumstances.

*before my brain injury, I was a recreational triathlete. Before I got on my bike, I always had my helmet on. It never ceased to amaze me how many people were riding without helmets. Whole families out for a nice bike ride and not a single helmet (including children!!).  I have also known people who said that helmets looked too dorky to wear. There are some pretty nicely designed helmets out there...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Painting- Artist Revealed work in progress

This is a work in progress.. thought I would share it's current state:

Artist Revealed, work in progress, 18" x 24", acrylic on canvas

I am in the process of painting it for a show in San Francisco.  I don't know if I have been officially accepted, but I'm working on it anyway! 

The show's details:

March 17 & 18, 2010
Salle Pianos
1632 C Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

"Swords to Plowshares will be hosting the 2nd annual, SHOUT! Art by Women Veterans to celebrate women who have served.  The event will feature art by several women veterans and aims to raise awareness about the issues these women face. "


I'm pretty excited about this!

 I will tell you more about my illustrious military career in another post, promise.


Opportunities, 30"x40", acrylic on canvas

Doctor's Appointments

I've just finished my second Dr's appointment in two days.
Good news from both! They are both optimistic and are seeing signs of recovery (finally)!

One of my doctors is talking about upping the dopamine in my brain. He is telling me that when there is a frontal lobe injury, the dopamine decreases. Apparently, some people's brains get used to lower levels of dopamine (which I think might be the case for my grey matter). Some people's brains just want to get back to the way things were and switch back fairly easily, with little to no outside help.   I wish I could give a better explanation, I was furiously writing this down in my little notebook* and it didn't make much sense to me.

There is no official time-line for when I'll be back to normal, if I'll ever be back to the way I was... but since I started getting better sleep (trazodone), my moods are more stable...which is a great help.

My Dr. explained that I had been sleep deprived -which made my condition worse. When I was injured, I was constantly worrying about getting better so I could get back to work**, so much so that I wasn't getting solid sleep at night. It would sometimes take me 3 hours to get to sleep. Sometimes I would wake up in the middle of the night and be awake for 2+ hours.  When I wasn't sleeping, I had to be doing something to prove to myself and others that I was productive, which was backfiring. It's like writing that 15 page paper in college at 3 am when you finally come to the crossroads of -sleep? or -one more semi-coherent paragraph?          

*notebooks are par for the course for brain injuries. They help us remember significant things that have happened, and help us with writing sequences down ... for example :first call insurance company and ask about the testing, get list of doctors, make appointment this month for testing, get ride to testing.

** I was putting constant pressure on myself to get better, to act like I was better, to soldier through it, that my main goal of getting back to work was actually getting farther and farther from reach. I think there is a lot of pressure in our society to constantly be at work (we are impressed by people who have multiple irons in the productive!). If we aren't working, we are either so rich that we are above it, or we are worthless.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


 Sugar Glider!

I got to meetings for survivors of brain injury. At first glance, this meeting is solely for the brain injured, but it helps out everyone affected. At the beginning of the meeting, people are divided between survivors and caregivers. The caregivers go to a different room, and they share ideas and stories while we survivors are taught coping strategies.

Caregiver, to me sounds like caretaker: someone at the zoo who is educated in the care and survival of a critter far that is in unfamiliar surroundings. We are tamarind monkeys, pandas, or lemurs. Our personalities and habits have changed or are in the process of changing,  so it's a bit of a shock akin to being uprooted from our lives in Indonesia and plopped in Michigan.

G doesn't have a manual entitled "The Care and Feeding of a Brain Injured Heather"... but he is doing a good job with what information he has (and what information I can give him).  He does not pressure me to get better quicker, or to push myself beyond my limits, or to act as though nothing is wrong. It's taken a little trial and error, as I believe most care givers and survivors go through, but he anticipates my needs and I try to make life easier for him. He tells me not to worry about anything (which is hard, given the situation we are in).

He works a lot, then comes home to the peace that is two excited dogs and an attention-starved mTBI survivor. I try to give him space and peace. I pack his lunch and bake him chocolate cookies that are fresh out of the oven when he comes home. I hope that my small contributions somehow make up for what is going on in our life.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Documentary- The Botany of Desire

I recently watched Botany of Desire.  It was an interesting look at the relationship between humans and plants. Apples, Tulips, Marijuana, and Potatoes' histories are examined.  The premise is that while we think we are getting the plants to do what we want them to do, the plants are actually benefiting from our interest and cultivation (think bees and flowers). I found it incredibly interesting and would recommend to anyone who enjoys documentaries and is in any way fond of plants and gardening.

Broken Tulips proved to be the most interesting topic to me. The beautiful colors and patterns were caused by a non-lethal mosaic virus. The Dutch, at the time of Tulip Mania, were shelling out the equivalent of a year's pay to have a Broken Tulip bulb. It was quite the status symbol!  Some were "trading farm houses for three rare bulbs".    All for the showy sex organs of a plant with a virus!   photo by rdoroshenko on flickr 

And all of this got me to wondering.... how much did the floral arrangements for Dutch still life paintings cost? It isn't hard to find a broken tulip in many of the pieces. This leads to another question: at what price did the other flowers come? I imagine that people must have been thrown in jail over the theft of a tulip or even sent to some sort of debtors' prison when they could not pay the loan back on a bulb. Can you imagine an up-and-coming artist running around at night to steal a flower or two for a painting in hopes of getting recognition for their painting?
  Paintings by Jan Davidsz. deHeem  and Rachel Ruysch

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Quotes- Valentine's Day

I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.  ~Emma Goldman

beautiful photo by lelonopo on flickr

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Flowers, Valentines Day

G got me the most beautiful irises and pink tulips for Valentine's day!

I feel a bit bad, because when I opened the box, I was a bit confused (I lose dates and days, I hardly know what day it is). I stated "these are early".. not because of my dislike of the timing, but because I was figuring out what day it was. 

I am pretty sure that this beautiful arrangement will wind it's way into a painting. 

On James Joyce and leaping tall buildings

Before my accident, I tried to read Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, with bad results. I could not follow the language. I shelved it, to be taken up at another time.

This passage, for instance, made no sense to me (or rather, I had a very hard time understanding it):
 "Then all his eagerness passed away and he felt his face quite cool. He thought his face must be white because it felt so cool. He could not get out the answer for the sum but it did not matter. White roses and red roses those were beautiful colours to think of .And the cards for first place and third place were beautiful colours too pink and cream and lavender .Lavender and cream and pink roses were beautiful to think of .Perhaps a wild rose might be like those colours and he remembered the song about the wild rose blossoms on the little green place .But you could not have a green rose .But perhaps somewhere in the world you could."

 It is written without the full constraints and rules of the english language. It is written in a train of thought manner.

This is how I presently think and speak. I don't know what to edit out, what has more importance over what, and am always riding the current that is my train of thought.  When I started to re-read this book, it made total sense to me.   

I can't read it for long, mind you, because my brain peters out on me. So, even though it is slow going, I think I have discovered a new skill/ super power/ ability. I can't stop speeding bullets or leap tall buildings in a single bound, but I can paint big flowers and understand some of James Joyce's writing. I don't think I'll be saving Metropolis anytime soon, but I might be invited to a cultural event.  

Friday, February 12, 2010


I'm pretty excited about the opening ceremonies tonight, and wish all of the athletes good luck and good times!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


As I write this, our 15 year old collie is laying on her bed, relaxing for her sleepy-times. She is a sweet dog who prefers being petted over play time (but still likes play time), and is insistent that she is still a puppy, though she has lost the ability to bounce back like a puppy.

Over the course of the last few days, we have wondered over symptoms that were increasingly worrying. It is no secret that her hips are failing her, or that her eyesight is not what it once was. She started having more issues with balance and her eyes are moving back and forth like she is in a moving train car watching the passing fields and trees.  Her inability to walk steadily has resulted in her laying on the living room rug with me laying next to her, petting her, talking to her. I won't lie... I've been sobbing, but I try to hide it, because I don't want her worried about me.

Today, at the vet again, we have arrived at a diagnosis that makes sense. She has doggie vertigo. Everything in her world is moving, spinning, dipping, and diving. She is unsure of her footing, and when she does stand, it is as if she is saying that she has conquered this piece of ground...she holds tight.  I can see in her expression that she is worried and scared. I don't want her to be worried or scared.

So, we do what we can to help her. Words of praise. Hugs. Special treats (banana pieces). Medicine. Time to recover. I think the biggest thing we can do for her is to understand and be there.  Isn't that true of everyone?


The Pool by Tom Thomson

What/Who inspires me?

Emily Carr
Group of Seven
Barbara Washburn
Karen Kay Buckley's Quilts
Lance Armstrong
Dean Karnazes


Earth laughs in flowers.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, February 7, 2010


An article in the New York Times describes a collector,  Jack Walsh, and his quilts.

Ruth McDowell is one of the quilt artists that Mr. Walsh collects.

I really love all of the textures and the quality of light in this one.

Textures and colors again, gorgeous!