Riding the tide of spring

Yesterday we found a little bunny in the garden who had died, perhaps drowned in the previous day’s deluge of torrential rains, perhaps done in by a predator.  I sketched it for a few minutes admiring it’s perfection, even in death, before I buried it out back in the woods.  This spring I’ve been keenly aware of the Movement of Life.  The gardens, green beyond belief and flora and fauna in such vast numbers that I cannot keep up.  But we try.  In the midst of it all, taking drawn notes in my sketchbook helps me to take it all in.  I’m grateful for the gift of finding this bunny to sketch up close, as I rarely get to observe the wild rabbits too closely.

bunny

The chicklets have moved outdoors permanently, taking to scritching in the grass for bugs like it’s their job.  Yet I worry about them still, being young and small and vulnerable.  We have had a bit of a cold snap in this neck of the woods so last night I rigged a small heat lamp in their coop just in case…. It’s all I can do beyond food, water and as much protection from predators as I know to provide.

chicksSpeaking of growing up and moving out beyond my perceived bubble of protection, Jack graduated from high school this week.  It was a beautiful and tearful ceremony marking the end of an era for this group of young artists.  They move on to be artists, engineers, doctors, musicians, teachers and so many other things beyond their knowing.  We are proud beyond belief at how hard Jack has worked to maintain good grades in challenging academic classes while pursuing his passion for music.  His relief at being finished is visible in his shoulders, finally out from the vicinity of his ears.  He’s attending UC’s College Conservatory of Music this fall – a great school that so many students travel from all parts of the world to attend.  We are fortunate to have it just in our back yard here in Cincinnati and so Jack will just be across town.  We are all thrilled to keep him close at hand for a few more years (especially his little sister) and he is stoked to actually know a bit of what his life will look like in the coming years.  Limbo is hard on a kid and this last year or so has worn on all of us.  And yet, we’ve managed to ride the wave without falling off and somehow we are keeping up.  With the beautiful dailyness of little things like chicken chores and garden digging, we are finding our way through the grace and complexity of the Big Things.

graduation

 

 

Nest

“Physically, the creature endowed with a sense of refuge, huddles up to itself, takes to cover, hides away, lies snug, concealed.  If we were to look among the wealth of our vocabulary for verbs that express the dynamics of retreat, we should find images based on animal movements of withdrawal, movements that are engraved in our muscles.”  

~Gaston Bachelard (from The Poetics of Space)

nest 1

This lovely little nook is officially my new work space.  I am enchanted with it.  If you have read this blog for awhile, you know that the studio space I’ve occupied for years now here at this house has had it’s share of issues for all of it’s privacy, gorgeous light and the connection to our green space.  I’ve sweated through it in summer, bundled up in the winter and made peace with the the spider’s midwifery nature of the place.  But last week, during a week of particularly torrential rain and humidity that left the covers of paperback books curling up in protest, the roof began to leak.  This was no ordinary leak.  This particular leak was just above my desk.  Drip. Drip. Drip. On. To. My. DESK!!!!!  I am extremely fortunate on the timing of this leak as I was home and just happened to be bopping around between home and studio getting a few things done when I noticed the wetness that given another hour or two would have ruined finished watercolor drawings and my book filled with collected information, forms and such I have ready for the Taos trip.  This close call was simply too close.  We’ve been slowly working to improve the room out there, taking down old ceiling tiles (which had begun falling down on their own), but now it’s time to truly get to work.  Living in an old house requires the patience of things never being quite finished.  One room is always being worked on so we have to move our lives and our stuff around accordingly.  Our house is a ‘split-level’ house and the lower level has been under construction for about the last 2 years.  We gutted the place down to the studs as they say and have rebuilt a lovely space for entertaining and gained some new storage space while we were at it.  (This storage space is currently where the chickens are living since they outgrew their mini-brooder set up in the powder room.)  So while we still have some work to do in this space, the basics are finished.  It is warmer with some new insulation.  It doesn’t smell any more as it used to after years of unchecked humidity.  It has a real floor and lights that turn on when we flip the switch.  And so, I have moved my drawing table into one end of this space, installed one of my book shelves with my best and favorite books.
nest 2

One of my recent paintings, Sea Change, sits by me for now as it awaits installation in a show at the Kennedy Heights Art Center later this month.

nest3

I have a place to play my music and bowls of magical things to inspire.  Though my drawing table is on a tilt, I have pinned source imagery for drawings along with some of my more favorite beautiful things onto it, also to inspire.  Above my desk is a work of art by Jessie Henson, (Untitled (After Drawing On Clouds, VI)) which I find to be the perfect thing to quietly look at between brush strokes.  nest4

The focus of my work lately has been illustration and this new set up makes sense.  As we head into the heat and humidity of an Ohio River Valley summer, I can stay cooler indoors and my watercolors can dry at a reasonable rate.  My son Jack, a graduating senior this year will more than likely be moving out into his own apartment in the fall and I may take over his old room as a studio.  But the stories can’t wait that long.  My friend Ginger Small is fairly bursting with adventures and I want to officially introduce you to her here.  With help from my techie/ tumblr-blogger extraordinaire daughter Maddie, Ginger will hopefully be rocking her own tumblr page in the days to come.  But for now, here’s a sneak peak at her life and her character….

….Once upon a time, there lived a little hamster whose name was Ginger Small.  Ginger, like many small creatures, was only given a short time to exist in our realm, and she was cared for greatly while she lived here.  When it was time for her to go, she declared that “Goodbyes are ever so tedious, don’t you think?” and she promised to send postcards back home of all her adventures out in the world.  And this she has been doing now for years, much to the delight of those she left behind.  Ginger’s is a special brand of magic.  She can do anything and be about anyone she fancies, so one never knows what she will be up to at any given time….

Ginger and Macy go for a boat ride

There are boat rides and bike rides with friends, Macy and Toby….

Ginger and Toby ride off into the sunset together

There are quiet nights at home, where special lanterns and cozy afghans keep the darkness and chill at bay.

Ginger paints in her sketchbook while curled up in her nest

Some adventures are wilder than others!!!!

Ginger skydives with Toad

And with all the rain we have here in Ohio, it’s never a bad idea to get with your friends and build and ark…

If it's going to rain, one must don one's best jacket and prepare to weather the storm

Squirrels are especially good navigators, did you know?

Tally ho!! Ginger's ark is ready for the rainy season

And that, my friends, is a peek at Ginger Small.  I look forward to developing her character more as time goes on.  If you want to follow Ginger’s adventures day to day, you can be her friend on Facebook, and when her tumblr page goes live, I’ll be sure to let you know.

In the meantime, I am just weeks away from going back to Taos for the Illuminated Travel Journaling class.  I’m certain Ginger will come along, tucked snuggly into my pocket ready for adventure….

In which Ginger Small cavorts with the other-worldly

…or relaxation, such as the case may be.

a desert spa day for ginger

Spring (among other things) has sprung

In which Iris hides in the shade looking for the garden faeries.
In which Iris hides in the shade looking for the garden faeries.

It’s finally, blissfully, feeling like spring time down in our little gully and there is much to fill you in on.

unfurling 2

In between things popping up out of the ground and being pulled from the ground (what is with all the chickweed this year??) and things being planted into the ground, life around here is running along at breakneck speed.

My youngest kid managed a perfect score on her driver’s test and is now able to run herself around to dance classes and social engagements.  The hub and I are thinking this smells a bit like freedom.  It’s the natural order of things, this growing up, and getting out into the world and I am so proud of her and tickled for her.

life 1

Meanwhile my oldest kid is due to graduate  from high school here in a couple weeks.  This just seems unreal.  I have adopted a zen mindset about it all as best I can (the odd glass of wine helps as well) as he navigates the next few steps.  He’ll be sticking close to home for college, attending University of Cincinnati’s esteemed College-Conservatory of Music.  So he’s shopping for apartments and making his budgetary plans.  We are thrilled that he is staying in town but also happy for him that he’s going to get on with his young adult life.  This too smells a bit like freedom, perhaps not financially, but at least from a temporal perspective.  Time is opening up for me, and not just by one kid leaving the nest and the other doing her own driving….

Last week I performed my last show with the Frisch Marionette Company.    We closed out my favorite show, Hansel and Gretel, with a gig at Firestone High School for the Arts in Akron.  Rumplestiltzkin, the other show I know, had it’s final booking last week as well and with the company moving forward into a new season with Wizard of Oz, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll be doing any more shows.  Wizard is a perennial favorite of Frisch fans and that will be the show that sells.  So there it is.  My commitment is fulfilled.  It’s been such an amazing ride and I have a sense that Kevin and I will work together in the future on other projects.  I feel so fortunate to have learned the art of marionette manipulation from one of the true masters in the art.  I am now part of a lineage of puppetry that is written about in the history books.  It’s an honor.  On route to Akron last week, we stopped in at the Columbus Museum of Art where the show Strings Attached is on display.  If you are anywhere near Columbus Ohio and have a vague interest in sculpture, puppetry, theater and the like, I highly recommend a visit to this amazing show.

puppets 1

puppets 2

Visiting these professional grade puppets seemed like a nice way to cap off my time as a puppeteer.  I won’t ever be too far from the world of puppetry as I adore the art form and story-making in general.  But as I’ve been saying for too long now, it’s time to make my own stories.

taos

 

A beloved part of my story each summer is the Sketch Journaling Workshop to Taos NM.  I am just weeks away from heading back there for the third workshop and I am so excited when I think about it that my stomach gets that delightful butterfly feeling!  I have a small but healthy sized class of intrepid travelers and future illuminated-journal artists and there are new things planned to keep everyone’s eyes open and observant and their pens and brushes moving.  I’ve already begun packing supplies to send ahead of my own journey out there….

taos packing

 

Some other news that has me kid-level excited is that we finally, FINALLY have chickens.

Yes.  It’s true.

chickens 2

 

We welcomed 2 Barred Rocks, Gladys and Mabel, a Rhode Island Red, Bernadine, an Easter Egger, Elvyra and a haughty little Buff Orpington, EmmaJean, into our home last week.  We went to fetch them at twilight on an gorgeous Pink Moon evening and have delighted in their presence here with us.  We get that they are chickens.  Bottom of the food chain.  Likely to be hunted by local predators and the like.  So we are attached, but realistic about the keeping of chickens.  That said, they are pretty darn fetching.

chickens 4

chickens 5

 

Iris is exceptionally interested in them.

chickens 3

 

But after awhile, even dogs get bored with chickens.

dogs

 

I however, do not.  I could spend hours just watching them and drawing them.  It’s almost like corn in Ohio.  You can practically see them grow as you look at them.  They have sprouted little wings and are beginning to work out who’s who in the pecking order.  From my vantage point it all looks a lot like Jr. High School.  I’ve been taking lots of notes, loads of pictures and getting drawings of them into my sketchbook as well.  I’m looking forward to having them around, enjoying the eggs they will lay for us, and continuing to doodle them.  They are fantastic, under-appreciated creatures.

chickens 1

 

You’ll be seeing loads of chicklet pics here on the blog more than likely.  I frankly can’t get enough of them!!!

 

 

chickens 7

 

This is about all for now.  As is often the case, the blog will get ignored in lieu of gardening.  But behind the scenes here, there will be minor changes happening that will make this blog my online home.  I’ll be phasing out the old website in the coming weeks and doing more to continue making this virtual space one that is fun to visit.  While we are in crazy-time mode for the next few months with graduation, Irish Dance season and spring chores, I see time opening up a bit after that…  Time to get on with making the books I want to make, building the Illuminated Journaling classes I want to teach and continuing to explore painting as a Fine Art form.

I’ll keep you posted.