Monday, July 30, 2007

more thoughts about Harry Potter (SPOILER ALERT!)

As I said in yesterday's post, I'm going to talk about themes in The Deathly Hallows, so proceed at your own risk.

Over on her blog, novelist Erica Orloff has been talking about symbolism in her work and the work of other writers.

The symbolism in Rowling's work is pretty clear -- to me anyway. If ever there was a symbol in a modern day novel of Christ, Harry is it. He walks willingly and without fight into what he sees as his death with the idea that he will be saving his friends. Greater love has no man.....

The power of this final book continues to grow in my mind as I continue to consider all its meanings days after finishing it.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I finished reading The Deathly Hallows

last night. Ok, it only took me a week longer than all those kids that started reading as soon as they got their hands on it and kept reading until they were done, but I've had to do a lot of other stuff too!!

If you haven't finished and don't want it spoiled, STOP READING THIS NOW! I'm not going to spoil it for you on purpose, but I am going to talk about story themes!

In the area I live in, there is a large group of folks with a well know leader of their group that thinks they need to tell us what we should read -- a fact that annoys me not a little.

I think he could do with reading the Harry Potter series. One thing I have noticed and adore about Rowling's books is that no matter how dark things may look, good always triumphs. And at the base of that good is always love. If every kid that has read this series would be as willing as Harry is at the end to do the right thing our world would be a much better place.

In my opinion, though, there are still other books that could spring out of this series, even though Harry is no longer a student at Hogwarts.

I am awed as an aspiring writer by Rowling's ability to keep track of hundreds of characters and make each and every one of them a fully rounded flat cardboard cutouts here....she must spend hours writing back stories on every one of wonder she says she has lots of material that didn't make it into the books.

No matter what she writes next, I'll be lining up to buy it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Odder and odder......

most peculiar things -- after posting last week about looking for a friend from high school maybe I'm just hyper-aware, but last night was WEIRD!

We watched a new show on TV called Saving Grace. While I would not recommend this show to any household with kids (WAY too mature subject lines), it was odd beyond belief.

For one thing, the actress that plays the lead role (Holly Hunter) reminds me a lot of my missing friend -- the body build, hair color, the "in your face" attitude. Then during the episode there is a scene where she's interacting with this black and white cow (which made me think of the seat covers in the '57 Chevy)


ok, I'm still trying to get someone to answer on that phone number in So Cal that's listed to Catherine far it just rings and rings. I'll keep trying tho', after all, its summer and people go on vacation.....

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

looking for "closure"

Closure is a word that has come to mean something more than just to reach the end.

People who have had loved ones murdered look for "closure" in a death sentence for the one found guilty of the crime as if that will bring their loved ones back.

Certainly there seems to be a human need to "finish the book" and find the answers for mysteries unsolved. It is almost as if we are hard wired to keep searching for whatever it is we have lost.

As I wrote about yesterday, for some reason this case in Grand Junction, CO, where the mother of 3 children (Paige Birgfeld) disappeared has set me off trying to find an answer to my own "unsolved mystery".

This is a mystery that I have been puzzling over since the late 1970's. During those times when my life is crazy hectic I don't think about it as much, but it is always lurking in the back of my brain.

I understand to a degree the need to find even the body --- at least then you know the answer to the puzzle --- its the not knowing that makes you nuts.

So, in an attempt to help myself make since of this puzzle, I've decided to talk about it here. Who knows, its a World Wide Web, maybe by putting all this "out there" someone will know someone that knows something.....stranger things have happened!

My ongoing mystery has to do with the "disappearance" of a woman that I had known since childhood.

We were introduced by our school district in the fifth grade. I was transfered into the "smart" class (I hated how this was classified in the early '60s -- like we needed to be labeled?!). Like being the new kid on the block, I was a little lost and she was willing to be my friend.

We were an odd pair. She was the tall, thin, blonde and everyone in our little suburban town knew her mother. I was the scrawny, awkward, brunette that no one knew. Behind our respective pairs of glasses we saw something of a kindred spirit, and we just "clicked".

So it was from grade 5 through junior high school. We survived "Slam books", PE and not being invited to the dances together. Our first 2 years in high school we went to different schools, but as soon as we were in the same school again, we were together a lot.

She learned to drive and had her own car, (a 1957 Chevy - RED - that she recovered the seats in with unborn calf skin --- very interesting black and white "fur") and during our junior year in high school, we cut a lot of classes together. (Something that I'm not particularly proud of now, in fact I now consider it to be the reason I didn't find any direction for going on to college, which I think now was a serious mistake.)

She graduated in December ahead of me in May back in the day when girls who were married and pregnant couldn't stay in school.

Through the years she married a couple more times, and both of us moved to California, and we kept in touch until 1979. Then she just disappeared.

The last time I saw her was over Halloween of 1978. We drove to Simi Valley where she and her 3rd husband lived at the time. Her son had gotten to be a good looking 9 year old, and her mother (who's husband had died a year or so before) was living with them too.

At Christmas a year later I got a letter with pictures of her new baby and that picture of her dressed in a belly dancing costume. She said she was using the name Sheherazade and doing some dancing in a club.

That was the last letter. Later someone told me that her husband had said that she just walked away. I just can't believe that.

So, yesterday I spent some time on line looking in any place I could to try and find any record of her or her sons.

Among the many records I found a possible clue, and I'm still trying to follow it up. There is always that chance she did "walk away" but to another husband, and what name would that be? One record yesterday gave me hope that might be true, but so far I can't confirm anything.

So, here are the names, and if any one knows anything about these folks, I'd really love to find some closure here.

maiden name: Catherine Lillian Wilson
first married name: Bliss
second married name: Greening
third married name: Popp (husband's first name: Bruce)

sons: Edward Bliss -- I believe was adopted by Bruce Popp, so his name would be Edward Popp -- he was born in August, 1969, would be almost 38 years old now

Bruce Robert Popp (born in 1979, he would be about 28 years old now

the other clue found yesterday: there is a Bruce Robert Popp, age 28 in Southern California listed as having a relative named Catherine Lillian Russo, age 57

Yes, that sounds like a match, but so far, no luck locating a phone number for Bruce Robert, and no answer at the phone number found for a Catherine Russo....

I'm still searching.........

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

it reads like a mystery novel -- I think I know how it ends

the local papers have been full of articles about a Grand Junction woman (Paige Birgfeld) who disappeared the end of June.

She was working a dozen angles to stay at home with her kids and hang on to the big house she was granted in a divorce settlement....selling kitchen goods and maybe herself to do it.

It really does read like a mystery novel -- she visits with an ex-husband and never gets home; her cell phone goes right to voice mail even though she would never turn it off; her car found burning; then the discovery of the business no one knew she had -- yes, all the elements are there for a very bad ending....

It also reads very like a story I know from my past. I had a childhood friend that disappeared in the late 1970s. Supposedly just walked away from her husband and her 2 sons. Trouble is, I have never believed it. I just have never been able to find out much about it because we lived too far away from each other and we were notorious for not writing regularly.

I still have those last pictures -- her sons -- one as just a baby and one as a 10 year old in a Dracula Halloween costume she had made him -- and one of her, in her belly dancing costume, her blonde hair hanging loose below her waist, looking like there was no way she could be almost 30 and have had 2 kids.....

It is this huge unanswered nagging question......WHY? or maybe who? If I ever fall into some money I'm going looking.......

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What I did on my Play Day

I have been fascinated by Artist Trading Cards for a while now, and I recently got a book that talks about a variety of techniques for creating special papers, etc., for them.

So on Sunday, I spent several hours working on different techniques and ideas.

This is the first one I did. I had scanned a map of the area of California where Nevada City is and printed it out.

Next I brushed a thin coat of gesso over the top, leaving the area that says Nevada City uncoated.

Then I glued the picture of the Miner's Foundry across the bottom and the little bear cutout (with a layer of torn tissue paper under it) in the top corner.

Finally I used silver gel pen to letter at the top.

The back ground of this one is a piece of paper towel that I had used colored markers on then sprayed with water to "bleed" the color. After I dryed it with the hair dryer, I used a rubber stamp of a bear.

The bear and the letters are highlighted with a glitter gel pen.

This one is my favorite of the three.

I used a rubber stamp of 2 bears sitting back to back. Stamping on black construction paper with bleach created the orangy looking back ground paper.

After the bleach had dried, I brushed gesso over the top to create the shadow effect.

Then I used a gold gel pen to do the drawing and lettering over the top.

After working on the art cards, I spent some time working on the altered couture project I have going. Having finished the bottom band and the neck band, I finally decided what color and pattern I would use on the button bands for the front.

This is a coffee colored yarn and I'm working a knit 2, purl 2 ribbing with an extra knit 2 in the center which will be where it gets folded over to make a double layer.

I'm working the button side first so I can keep track of how many rows it is then I can work out the right placement for the button holes on the other side.

It was nice having a play day and experimenting with new ideas. Now I'm ready to go back to work on the other projects!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Visiting the Art Festival

In the time we have been back in Colorado, we have made it a tradition to visit an area in Denver twice a year.

The original reason for this visit was that it is one of the few places in Colorado that has a specific restaurant that reminds us of where we called home for 30 years in California.

And so we make the treck to Cherry Creek at Christmas time (to look at the decorations, do a little shopping and eat lunch in that restaurant) and around the 4th of July when they hold a nationally known arts festival (and of course eat lunch in that restaurant!)

This year this trip had even more importance to me than usual. I had applied to the show this year -- and been turned down -- and I really wanted to take a good look at who my "competition" was.

For those of you who are not familiar with how this process works, when you apply to an Art show, you must submit photos of your work -- usually between 3 and 6 pictures -- and the "jury" (love the sound of that -- are you "guilty?" or not) determines from those few pictures rather or not you will have the opportunity to display and sell your work on the street for 3 days. (Oh yeah, and they charge you a fee to "judge" you)

Without sounding too much like I'm bragging, I'd like to say that I've concluded that my work is good enough to compete with the people that were judged "good enough". No one else in the entire show is doing what I do with the same materials, and my craftsmanship is absolutely as good.

The question then is, "so why didn't I get in?". And I believe the answer is that my photographs are not good enough.

These are the pictures I have taken of 5 of our pieces.

These are scans of the pictures of work from the artists that got in to the show.

One of these artists was willing to share with me who does her photographs. In fact, she gave me her card, wrote the photographer's name on the back and told me to tell him she sent me.

So, before we are again sending in applications to this kind of show, I will be trying to find out how much it will cost us to have this guy photograph a few of our pieces.

Meantime, I came away from the show with some ideas for some designs that are quite different that the last few pieces (which are of course quite different from what I was doing a year ago, or two years ago).

I also decided that I'm making myself a little crazy by working on things that are for sale 24/7. Hence forth I'm going to try to set aside one day a week to "play".

On "play" days, I will experiment with new materials, try different things and in general try to step away from the part of my art that I attempt to make a living from and enjoy different things.

I encourage all of you to try this too!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

not knowing what day it is......

The confusing part of being at home during the week and working the weekends is that sometimes I forget what day it is!

This is especially true in a week that has a holiday in the middle! So, yesterday felt like Sunday to me, today feels like Monday, then I'll be totally confused until next Monday.....AAACCCKK!!

Oh well.

Hope you all had a Happy 4th of July and you don't have to work too hard today!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Off setting messages from the mail box.....

back in the middle of June (ok, so that was only 2 weeks ago) I had gotten a standard rejection letter from a publication in response to a picture I had sent of one of my pieces of jewelry. So, I sent off another picture shortly after that. Well, yesterday I got the same standard rejection letter for the second submission {sigh} I can't seem to finish the pieces as fast as that publication can reject them....nuts!

Think I'll send pictures of my newest piece to one of the other magazines.

Meantime, in the same batch of mail (along with the junk and the cable bill) was an invitation to participate in an indoor show aimed at professional women (much more the right customer for my work!) The show takes place in St Joseph, MO, and I'm thinking I got the invite because some of the University Women saw my work there last summer when I did a show in the park. Unfortunately, the show is the same weekend as another I show I have already applied for....well, guess I have a "back up" plan for that weekend, and maybe this one would be a good idea to try for next year.

My cousin called me yesterday afternoon to let me know his mother (my dad's sister, who just lost her husband on Good Friday) is having heart valve replacement surgery on Tuesday. After the testing was complete, the conclusion was that her blood vessels are in great shape, but she has a valve that is not working correctly, so they will replace it. She is 84 years old, and I was glad to hear that she wants to have the surgery as there are (in her words) "still things I want to do"!

Anyway, could all of you add her to your prayer lists for this week? Thank you so much!