Wednesday, October 31, 2007

the truth is out there...

I know I've talked before about moral character, and how lately (in my lifetime, anyway) the world seems to be running on greed. Hungry for more and more power and control, massive multinational corporations have become something akin to the evil empire from Star Wars, gobbling up more territory every day, and crushing all who don't get out of the way fast enough. The men (and let's face it, they are mostly men) who run these corporations are behaving as if they believe that nasty little saying: "the one who dies with the most toys wins".

Case in point: yesterday, I was listening to news from the BBC...coverage of Saudi King Abdullah's state visit to England. He was greeted warmly by the Queen and PM Gordon Brown, after which, as he was ceremonially inspecting the troops, you could hear a military band playing "the Imperial March" in the background. (that's Darth Vader's theme song from Star Wars to most of us) How insane is that?!

We certainly seem to be heading toward some sort of final reckoning. I'm not predicting the end of the world, just the end of our world as we know it now. I doubt that we'll go so far as to literally destroy the planet itself, but we certainly have the means to obliterate every living thing on it.

Dave sent me the text of a speech John Edwards gave the other day at a college in New Hampshire. He talked about the moral decay in our country and about how we need to start hearing the truth, especially from our country's leaders. He spoke frankly about the moral crisis we're facing, and how difficult it will be to overcome. We need to rise to the challenge, as we've always done: ordinary people driven by what is right to do extraordinary things.

Here's a link to the text of his speech. I don't think anyone could read this and not be stirred into action.

By the was not lost on me that he gave this speech in New Hampshire. He is running for president.

Monday, October 22, 2007

complementary colors 101

What a beautiful autumn day! The sky is an amazing, clear blue; the trees are lit up in brilliant golds, reds and oranges. Walking up on the ridge with Dave and the pups this morning, we could see Portland spread out below us like a gorgeous multicolored tapestry. It means so much to me to feel connected to the earth, and unapologetic city girl that I am, I still get to observe nature and the change of seasons and all the creative inspiration that brings.

Friday, October 19, 2007

quote of the week

"The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider's web. "
- pablo picasso

Sunday, September 30, 2007

adios to summer

Last weekend, on the eve of the autumnal equinox, we had a little gathering to celebrate the arrival of fall.
All the usual suspects showed up. We fired up the chimenea, baked some goodies, and roasted a few marshmallows.

(And drank a little wine to keep us warm) As you can see by the glove-wearing Suzie and Margaret, the chimenea's heat didn't travel very far past Tamara...but the patio behind Camp Cactus gets pretty cozy when you cram enough bodies back there. Caitie's camera was an endless source of fun, as we kept getting weird firey effects from the candles and twinkle lights.
We floated an idea around to put a gate between our back yard and the Petersen's so our gatherings could expand to fit the guest list...maybe some day.
I almost can't wait to celebrate the Winter Solstice, but I think we're gonna need more heat!

Monday, September 24, 2007

it's official...summer's really over

Well, that's it. Today really felt like fall, even though the leaves have only barely begun to turn color. I was up early this morning for a change, working on a photo shoot set in a rooftop garden of a very tall building overlooking the river and the mountains. It was pre-dawn and very chilly, and just as I was wishing I'd worn warmer clothing, the sun rose in all its autumnal majesty and reaffirmed why I love living here.

The change of seasons makes so much sense, don't you think? It refocuses our awareness just in time to keep us in the moment, to notice things again, and to realize that some things happen naturally and without the need for human intervention. I look forward to the shorter days and longer nights, and not just because I'm really not a morning person. I like the nip in the air and the chance to change my summer wardrobe to one I'm not so tired of. Of course it hasn't started raining yet, so everything's still pretty peachy at the moment. I'm sure I'll be waxing nostalgic over summer by mid-November.

There's also something a little sad about autumn, though: nothing lasts forever. Gone are the glorious long summer evenings, when the sun sets at such a late hour, and the energy that accompanies all that sunshine. I can see how people can go a little nutty in far northern regions where the sun barely sets at all in summer.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

is this blog heaven, or blog hell?

Here's what happens when you don't think things through: you may find yourself turning into a sort of mental contortionist to fix the problem. It seems I was a bit hasty in choosing my first blog address. I didn't realize you could name your blog differently than the actual address it was at, therefore making it simpler for people to remember. Duhhh.

Sooo, here's what I did: I've switched "Buenos Burritos" to, from the old address,, renaming that one "Camp Cactus", in an effort to use it to put up news about my studio openings and current work. WHEW!

But then, you already knew that, because you're here. Right?

Click here: Camp Cactus to go there.

Oh boy. I really must get more sleep.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

a day at the beach...

We just got back from a swell little trip to the coast...ostensibly for our anniversary (32 years! Are we really that old?!), but it was also a good excuse to take the pups to see the ocean for the first time. After checking out our room (overlooking Mo's seafood joint, and just beyond it, the ocean) we went down and turned 'em loose on the unsuspecting beachcombers below. Fortunately, they didn't run over anyone, but we learned an important lesson: it's useless to shout into the wind for your (mostly) disobedient dogs to "COME!" They usually act like they're deaf anyway, but still, it's better to be downwind of them so they can at least get your scent when they've run toooo far away, and conveniently forgotten to look back.

Loving nothing better than to run flat out at a dead gallop, Abbie takes off for the far horizon, with Cooper right behind her all the way. She's the adventurous one of the pair. It's not like they've ever run off and not come back. I had a dog like that once: my first dog, named Snowball...he wanted nothing more than to get as far away as possible. It just occurred to me that maybe he didn't think he had the idyllic life we envisioned he had. Anyway, these two crazy twins don't seem to want to escape so much as just get out some excess energy and maybe find something disgusting to eat or roll in while they're at it.

We finally figured out that if we let one off leash at a time, they don't tend to run as far. (it's not as much fun when your partner in crime can't follow you) When they're together, it's like they share one brain. (OK, they're mostly Lab, so half a brain is actually more like it) So, after a bit of chasing them up and down the beach, we were all pretty tuckered out and made an early night of it.

All in all, I think walking your dogs on the beach with your soul mate is way more fun than candles and expensive restaurants...just ask Abbie and Cooper.

Friday, August 17, 2007

maybe atlas just shrugged, but it's not that easy for me...

Too many sleepless nights lately. This difficulty in turning off my brain, or at least lowering the volume a bit, is a getting to be a little disturbing. My body feels like it's gearing up for something, needing to be alert and watchful 24/7. Who knows? Maybe it's just hormonal, or maybe it could be some kind of instinctive warning signal, like animals going nuts just before an earthquake. To say I can feel it in my bones is an understatement. (And it's not like I'm hearing voices or anything, it's just getting a little hard to ignore the fact that the world seems kind of out of control lately) I used to have this recurring nightmare about a nuclear disaster...probably a by-product of being a kid during the Cuban missile crisis and the Cold War. Haven't had that one in awhile, but there are just so many other dark possibilities to choose from! I guess it's time to update the emergency supplies and make sure that base is covered.

I just don't understand why we (humans, that is) have gotten to this point. Is it just greed? That seems to be the one underlying theme to most of the grabs for power and control. Control of resources, control of people, control of governments, control of religion, (my God's better than your God! nyah nyah! God bless America! ) I don't know about you, but I'm getting kinda sick of the whole thing. Coming from a strictly Catholic point of view, whatever happened to "Thou shalt not kill"? or "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor"? or even "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's stuff"? (Not a commandment, but don't forget "Love thy neighbor as thyself"?) Maybe we shoulda left that ten commandments monument in the Alabama courthouse. I mean, seriously: so what if it's of religious origin? They do make pretty good sense, (okay, maybe the last five make more sense than the first five...) but maybe common sense just isn't so common anymore....

Sunday, August 12, 2007

vacations...mental and otherwise

I can't believe it's August already. Yesterday I harvested our first ripe tomato, and this morning when I got up the air felt all crisp, like the planet decided to cut vacation short this year, and to just move on directly from July to October.
It's simply not fair to us procrastinators. Just when I decide the garden needs more flowers, it's too late to get anything other than fall chrysanthemums and any day now, daffodil and tulip bulbs. Boy, all I can say is, I'm glad I'm not a little kid anymore...The back to school sales started about two weeks ago, and that's depressing even for grownups. Before you know it, there'll be huge crates of pumpkins outside of the supermarkets, and the christmas decor will be half price inside!

I really don't have any reason to complain... I've had lots of time off this summer and got to do some fun stuff. We took a trip to upstate NY and Cleveland, Ohio courtesy of Dave's sister, and enjoyed catching up with family and friends. I got up early enough one day to go out and take some pictures with my new brother in law and got one or two nice's one I took at Menden Ponds in Rochester. Early morning light rocks! (That is, light in the early morning hours...not light rock early in the morning. There is a difference.) One afternoon we had a picnic on Lake Ontario. The beach was closed to swimmers, although the water smelled so bad, I doubt anyone would be tempted to stick a toe in, much less immerse themselves in it. I immediately missed Oregon, where even the Willamette River, notorious Superfund site that it is, still smells okay. (To be fair, though, the first time I got a whiff of the paper mills across the Columbia in Washington, I thought Portland must be in the middle of a garbage strike.) I'd also forgotten how old everything is back there on the East Coast. Both Rochester and Cleveland are trying very hard to come back from the recessions of the 80's and 90's. Lots of abandoned storefronts and crumbling infrastructure. People in Rochester don't walk around town much, or commute by bike like they do here. For one thing, there don't seem to be many sidewalks, and I didn't see a single bike lane the whole time we were there. We did take a walk along the Erie Canal, and shared the trail with lots of bikers and walkers. You can even rent barges and float down the canal, like they do in Europe. Rochester seems to have lots of county parks and wildlife areas close to town, which was nice.

In Cleveland, we got to go to an Indian's game at Jacob's Field. What a cool ballpark! Right in the middle of downtown, it's a pretty intimate park, a few blocks from Lake Erie. (Which didn't stink) Tom and Rose got us great seats down the first base line. I had no idea Rose was such a big baseball fan. She was yelling and cheering Kenny Lofton, her favorite player, and brought her team jersey for good luck- but alas, they lost. We had a good time anyway: We ate peanuts, hotdogs and crackerjacks-the total ballpark experience. Dave and I have had this fantasy vacation dream for a long time: travel around the country and hit as many major league ballparks as possible. I guess we'll just have to do it one or two at a time. Maybe if we win the lottery, we'll go after we've spent a month or so in Hawaii...

Monday, June 11, 2007

the ties that bind

The week began with a funeral. This morning we attended a mass for a neighbor we didn't know well. He was a gaunt, tough old guy who looked as if life had not given him an easy run at it. A father of eight, several of whom have had troubles with the law, drugs, and bad choices all around. Troubled or not, they were all there today at St. Rose of Lima, a tight knit family bonded together by love, or circumstance, or faith...I'm guessing a combination of all those things. Isn't that really the embodiment of family? I'm not sure that we get a choice what family we're born into, but we're deeply connected at a level we don't always want to acknowledge. Death has a way of pointing directly at that most visceral connection. A finality. An understanding that we can't go back to the way things were. That life is forever changed in ways we don't always expect.

Walking home, I listened to the birds singing and looked at the flowers, surrounded by the green and brown softness of the earth and the velvety blue of the sky, wanting to smell and see and hear and feel and appreciate this place and these neighbors and this time. We're all family, and in the end, how we care for each other is the only legacy that counts.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

the tincup times revisited

Today would have been my dad's 92nd birthday. He was a pretty unusual guy by most people's standards: writer, editor, musician, carpenter, sometime artist, cook, and most of all, an inveterate writer of humorous letters and postcards. I have a thick file of his correspondence dating back many years, and I think that many others do also. It's hard to throw away something written with such humor and craft.

He was a copy editor, columnist and correspondant for such illustrious publications as The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, PM, The Papermaker, and The Stars and Stripes. When I got my first typesetting equipment, Dad (old newspaperman that he was) had me set up a letterhead for him entitled "The Tincup Times" whose motto was: "All the Views Unfit to Print". He had it copied and used it as the masthead for many of his letters, which were sent on a regular basis to numerous friends and relatives around the world. My favorites were and still are the ones with the quirky address lines he would make up, like one he sent to me addressed "Calamity Jane, Camp Cactus" from "J.R. Tincup, Tumbleweed Towers", or to "Bedlam Gables", from "The Fractured Arms". He was also known as Mesquite Manny, Tumbleweed Tim, Boardwalk Benny, Diamond Jiminy Crickets, Lord Feeley of Letchworth (don't even ask) and his favorite, I think: Ta Ta.

So, tonight I'll raise a glass (Dad's drink of choice...a Screwdriver. A pretty pleasant way to get your daily dose of Vitamin C, according to old Tincup himself) to Tumbleweed Tim, a man of letters.
Cheers, Dad!