Friday, August 27, 2010

Good Times in the Graveyard

Pardon my recent obsession with graves... but here's another update.
Yesterday was my grandmother's birthday. And although I love Harry Potter as much as the next 40 year old with the reading level of a 12 year-old, I did not celebrate Gram's "Death Day" with a party this past spring. In my mind, she is still the funny, silly, brave, ALIVE woman whom I admire and miss so much. Not the freaky-screaming-shell who vaguely resembled my Grandma on a really bad day. So which one would I rather celebrate?

Since she has a new stone, and it was her birthday, I coaxed my kids, my mom, and my mother-in-law out to the graveyard for a little picnic. My son and I had made a chocolate cake (Gramma loved chocolate) and we all ate until we were sugar crazed. Lilah took off running around the cemetery like a banshee and Ellie trailed after her. I had been disappointed that Gramma was buried in this new cemetery - no old interesting stones, no trees, just lots and lots of empty grass and an occasional altar with beer bottles or flowers... but now I realized this was the perfect spot. I didn't have to say"be careful, don't step on...." because it was mostly empty. So go ahead and run, burn that sugar rush! Meanwhile, Alex and I built a marshmallow "cake" into the shape of a heart and I wrote on it with frosting. The ants thought they had died and gone to heaven! Maybe Waterloo Cemetery is actually the Valhalla for ants? Well, it was yesterday. And after a week of steady, dreary rain, Gramma had somehow managed to conjure up an absolutely perfect sunny, cool day.

It really was one of the nicest parties I have been to in a long time! And I was imagining that, after the sun set, a small brown bear would wander out of the trees and gobble down the remaining marshmallows. Then she'd sit herself down against the bench, with her picture on it, and have a little snooze. She'd dream about a lady with lovely smooth, pink skin, mischievous blue eyes surrounded by laugh lines, and the heart of a bear. And for that minute, the bear would wonder 'Am I a woman dreaming of being a bear, or a bear dreaming that I am a woman?' And my Grandmother would look down from where she is watching and have a good laugh.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tangle on... and on... and on...

Wowza! Sandra Strait has published a list of all the Tangle names she could find from the web, the books and the official Zentangle site and kits... take a look at her blog! It's a great way to see if a name has already been used when you are designing your own Tangles. And Sandra, I'm assuming you do not have any small children still at home, right. Otherwise, you have WAY too much free time on your hands! (yep, I'm jealous - but I love lists!)

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Grave Situation

 It's been over a year since my grandmother died (read the post about her here). Her grave finally has a gravestone! It seemed a bit... well, I'm not sure what the word would be. I mean, she was buried in a tote bag for goodness sakes. I kept bugging my mother about getting a nice stone, but it wasn't until this spring that inspiration struck.

We stopped over in Paris on the way to our Holy Lands Adventure. The plan had been to visit the Catacombs, but when we arrived, there was a line all the way around the block. And visitors only enter in groups of 11 or so. I figured we would be standing in line all day before we even made it to the gate. Ugh. So we wandered over to the nearest, free, macabre attraction - the Montparnasse Cemetery. We roamed for hours. I have never been in a more fascinating graveyard. This was more like a little city and filled with famous scientists', authors' and artists' "homes". There was so much variety - from the Egyptian themed grave in the Jewish sector to an ultra-modern stack of granite sticks.

As we were leaving, we realized we had to make use of our inspiration to finally get a stone for Gramma Magda! And certainly not a boring gray slab.

I would have loved to have a bear shaped sculpture as her marker, but that was a bit... expensive. My mother ordered this unusual black granite bench with an engraved bear. A good compromise. The stone looks rather lonely and bare  (and a bit dirty!) without foliage and flowers. I thought it might be nice to make some cement stepping stones with the kids' handprints too. In our graveyards we often put vases of flowers. But in Paris, they have whole shrines erected. There was a grave for a 12 year-old Chinese boy  :-(  that had food in Tupperware containers, soda cans, little toys, photos, and letters. It was so sad. For the famous graves, visitors left their subway ticket stubs held down by pebbles. And on others, there were small piles of rocks. I suppose it is a way of saying, "I was here and I miss you."

A prince and a princess who died on the same day. So many stories buried here!
Guy de Maupassant (and Alex)

A very original grave!

My favorite shot. this was such a beautiful cemetery.

A stack of books!
I have always thought that you rest beneath your stone forever in peace. RIP and all that. But real estate is real estate. And if you don't keep paying the rent, well, someone else will take your spot. how creepy is that?

My grandmother shares her headstone with her mother-in-law, Jenni, her husband, Johannes, and her baby daughter, Merike. Jenni and John are actually buried somewhere on Long Island and Merike had been in a mass grave in Germany. But she was... "removed" when a large highway was built. It's nice to have them all together again in Warner, even if it is only in name.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tangles for Shelley, Part 2

You people are so AMAZING! I wish you could have seen Shelley's face when she saw all the cards and tiles that you all have sent her. (Actually, you CAN! SherRee posted them on the Wingdoodle FaceBook page). Shelley was energetic enough to make her way up to the Sunapee Craftsmen Fair today - so you know that all your positive, healing thoughts have found their mark. While she was enjoying her freedom from hospitals... I snatched her pile of tiles and ran home to my studio to take quick photos. I've posted them on my studio FaceBook page, so go and drool. You can tell that people were thinking happy thoughts as they drew! There were tiles from everywhere... Ohio, Philadelphia, Washington, Tasmania, Italy, Scotland....

And as for the League of NH Craftsmens Fair, there was plenty of inspiration (speaking of drooling). One of my goals in life is to have enough money that I could buy some of the pieces that I lust over. Especially Kathleen Dustin's and Luann Udell's work... and many others.

I always love watching these chainsaw bears being born (I do own a small one). Looks like a painful birth.

But the finished bear looks quite content. Or is she pregnant? Perhaps she ate the artist?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Art & Soul Virginia

Sign-ups are now open for Art & Soul Virginia 2011! I was accepted to teach two classes, one on Sunday - 1270 - Zentangle® 101 and the second on Monday - 1271 - On Beyond Zentangle® .  My classes this past spring were all sold out! So sign up soon. If you have never been to Art & Soul, this is one of the most wonderful retreats. The Embassy Suites is luxurious and the convention center has spacious rooms. But the best part is being surrounded by all the creative, whacky people. It's nice to feel like you "fit-in" - at least for a few days!

Cheryl Darrow from TenSeconds Studio is teaching a class called - 1149 - Metal Repousse in Altered Art. It sounds intimidating but it is like Zentangle on metal! I have to go explore the listings and try to decide what I want to take. The only bummer to being a teacher, is that some of the classes I want are on the same days that I am teaching!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tangled...uh... Tuckered... Out

Want to see what we are doing at the Master Zentangle Class in Newport, RI? Rick and Maria are putting pictures and posts on their blog:

In the bird's eye view, I am in the back row, in black, next to Suzanne McNeil. We did the most amazing illuminated letters today. No one wanted to stop working, but we got a private trolley that took us to a mansion at Salve Regina College, where we hunted down patterns for new tangles! What an insanely fun day! I am so exhausted I literally fell over when I got back to my room and my eyes are closing...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Time travelling

This morning I was in an 1800's colonial village. Now I am embedded in the consumeristic future world of Newport, RI. I took a short side trip to Sturbridge to visit my dad and his wife, on my way down to the Zentangle Master Class here in RI. Visiting Old Sturbridge Village seemed like a natural, since I had a few hours to kill anyway and my membership runs out next weekend. It was really quiet for a Monday morning, with skies threatening rain. But that's the way I like it. I hate crowds and tourists. And walking the dirt roads, alone, really feels like I have gone back in time. I sat and munched on my muffin next to the little pond and saw a girl in a huge sunbonnet fishing using just a stick with string. The horse and carriage trotted past me and clopped through the covered bridge. And in the background was the musical beat of the old sawmill. Of course, I snapped pictures of interesting patterns to make into zentangles! Fence posts, plants, stones, wallpaper in the town house.

Now I am sitting on a rooftop Deck above the Admiral Fitzroy Inn. Up here, it is hard to believe that there are so many people and cars down below. It is so quiet, I can hear the seagulls calling near the harbor. The buildings are beautiful and ancient, but filled with Starbucks and tacky tourist shops. I walked as far as I could on Thames Street in either direction while waiting for my room to be ready. There's pretty good people watching though!

In another lifetime (teenager) - I biked Long Island Sound. I haven't ridden a bike since. But I remember riding over the bridge and into the city, past the mansions, the "cottages," down to the beach. Ah, my peace and quiet were just invaded by a yuppie with her cell phone and her cigar smoking husband. Retreat!


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