October 31, 2010

* Happy Halloween

Ever get that 'alone' feeling?  I have a feeling our knowledge about the Universe and it's workings could fit in a pin head.  We have only just begun to understand.  Have a peek at this short video and allow your mind to wander.   Hubble Ultra Deep Field 3D

Astronomy Picture of the Day
Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2010 October 31
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.
Halloween and the Ghost Head Nebula
Credit: Mohammad Heydari-Malayeri (Observatoire de Paris) et al., ESA, NASA
Explanation: Halloween's origin is ancient and astronomical. Since the fifth century BC, Halloween has been celebrated as a cross-quarter day, a day halfway between an equinox (equal day / equal night) and a solstice (minimum day / maximum night in the northern hemisphere). With a modern calendar, however, the real cross-quarter day will occur next week. Another cross-quarter day is Groundhog's Day. Halloween's modern celebration retains historic roots in dressing to scare away the spirits of the dead. Perhaps a fitting tribute to this ancient holiday is this view of the Ghost Head Nebula taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. Similar to the icon of a fictional ghost, NGC 2080 is actually a star forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our own Milky Way Galaxy. The Ghost Head Nebula spans about 50 light-years and is shown in representative colors.

Tomorrow's picture: peak of the furnace

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* Neighbourhood Gossip

My friend, Wendy, lives a block away in a gated community which was developed about ten years ago.  I took a few photos so you can see where she lives in relation to me.

See where the white truck is sticking it's nose out out. Behind the truck you will see the beginning of a wall which extends down the street.  You can see roof tops within the walls where a small community exists.  This is where Wendy lives.
The gossip is about this house.  The owner is building a huge addition without the approval of the council.  Not only that, they have expanded their property on to common ground, taken up the entire space, taken light away from other houses, and have built a huge 3 story mansion.  They will get away with it.  The money it would cost the strata to take them to court would be over the top for residence of this community.  Interesting, don't you think? 
No more gossip.  This photo was a nice surprise.  I saw the birds and was trying to get them in my lens as they flew over.  I was snapping like crazy.  I pushed the delete button on the rest.  This was the nice surprise.
Blue denim's taking a walk in the wind on a distant clothes line.

Workers equipment neatly piled for the weekend.
Art as Flirtation and Surrender

In your light I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest,
where no one sees you,
but sometimes I do,
and that sight becomes this art.   ~ Rumi

October 30, 2010

* More Trivia and "The Hood"

Took a few photos upstairs tonight just to document the progress.  Then I began to look around.  I'll explain as we go.

When I walked upstairs tonight ...
the light was so incredibly beautiful.  It took
me back to Greece and the light there.  The Blues and the Whites.  .... sigh ....
Cesars' shoes stacked neatly on the unfinished window sill.
Notice they have put a lovely rolled lip around the arch of the fireplace. 
Now that the terrace is mostly cleared off, you can get a better idea of the size.  I am not, however, right at the edge of the other side.  I don't like standing with my back to a long 'drop'.  ha ha
This is the wire which seems to fascinate me so much.  I am working on a series of "People of the Wire", which was born from wire like this.  I will take photos when I'm finished.
I'd like to call this "Roses and Rebar", however, they are bougainvillea on the roof a couple of houses over from me.
This one lives on the roof next door.

Electrical Meters are locked up in little cages here.  If there is no lock, chances are someone will steal it.  A black market exists for electric meters as there is a shortage in town.  You can wait months to get one.  They are a hot commodity.  This is the meter across the street.  I like the grate.  Now that I've seen this one, I don't like mine anymore ...
I love the light towers all over town.  These are across the street from me.  Nice view ..... wait for it ...
LOL ... this is the same view before I edited it.  Wire all over this town.  I'm really not sure how the electrical in SMA works at all. 
The house across the street.
There are no street cleaning machines with sweepers or water who come along and keep the streets clean.  Each person sweeps the street in front of their house.  Women of the neighbourhood often take an evening walk ....
it's done like this.
More about the hood tomorrow.  In the meantime, I'm on a Rumi quote kick.  Here's another one I adore.

"The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you; Don't go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want; Don't go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don't go back to sleep."  ~ Rumi

October 28, 2010

* Today

It was a little chilly (much frio - very cold).  I went to open the gates in my cotton lounger.  I greeted men dressed in parkas with scarves around their noses.  The new part of the house got a coat of primer today.  The studio is beginning to look like a real space. 

Poor Jose!  He really was freezing.
Both the young Muchachos bundled up painting the house.  Oh, btw, did I mention it was 70 degrees?  A cool wind though and they were standing in the shade.
Maestro Jose and Emilio in the Studio.  What a difference a coat of paint can make.
“Oh soul,
you worry too much.
You have seen your own strength.
You have seen your own beauty.
You have seen your golden wings.
Of anything less,
why do you worry?
You are in truth
the soul, of the soul, of the soul.”  ~ Rumi

October 27, 2010

* Sunday Afternoon"

I've been really struggling with the background.  Didn't want to go any further with the figures until I had the background in place.  Took the table out three times.  Re sized it, reshaped it, re thought it, and put it back in.  Still didn't like it.  Moved the drapes from the middle of the painting over to the right.  Couldn't stand that it cut the painting in half.  Created some landscape out the window to give the room more depth.  That seemed to work.

Today at class I had a bit of a breakthrough.  Dumped the table for good.  Took out the candles on the left hand side.  Created candles ... larger more substantial in the middle.  I think I'm over the 'stuck' part.  I will be able to carry on working this week.  YEAH!

You can see I've begun to add colour.  I love this part!

“The minute I heard my first love story I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all along.” Rumi

October 26, 2010

* Trivia

Sometimes I love trivia.  Just the simple little things which happen in our everyday lives.  The small things which make you smile or slightly annoy you.  Some trivia photographs from my last week or two follow.

A delightful old photograph of two children which I found in an antique shop.  Obviously a french influence.  Were they in costume?  Were they dressed for a specific occasion?  Questions abound.  It is dated in the corner, unfortunately the writing is illegible.  It will be fun to use in a collage.
Another interesting photograph found in the same shop.  Notice the men have guns.  Notice the hats.  Love it!
Some metal junque I discovered which I can't wait to play with.  Assembledge ... I can feel it coming on!

Now I remember why I don't wash the orange towels with the blue towels!  

Fireplace tiles have been installed.  It was hard to get a photograph straight on today because of the light.  You get the idea though.
Late afternoon light in the studio.  Floor is now completely laid.

"Not a shred of evidence exists in favour of the idea that life is serious."  ~ Brendan Gill

October 22, 2010

* Painting the Figure ... View at your own risk.

"Sunday Afternoon"  Oil on Canvas
My latest attempt at painting the human figure follows.  As you are aware, I have no models to work with, so this is straight from my head.  It's difficult, and I only have my anatomy book to refer to.  I think I'm probably hooked on the human figure now.  It's the most fascinating, challenging, beautiful object to try and render in any way.  This painting has only just begun.

"Don't paint bit by bit, but paint everything at once by placing tones everywhere, with brushstrokes of the right colour and value, while noticing what is alongside. Use small brushstrokes and try to put down your perceptions immediately. The eye should not be fixed on one spot, but should take in everything, while observing the reflections which the colours produce on their surroundings."
Camille Pissaro

October 21, 2010

* All the Queen's Men

I was summoned upstairs yesterday, and asked to bring my camera.  Jose and Cesar (the two young men) came down to get me.  They were all smiles.  When I reached the top of the stairs, the floor was almost complete.  Maestro showed it off with pride, knowing it would make me happy.  A couple of photographs to document the occasion.

It's going to be lovely.
Habibi seems to be getting a little bored with the entire situation.  He just wants to be out in his yard playing.

"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better." ~  Ralph Waldo Emmerson  

October 20, 2010

* Astronomy Picture of the Day

For anyone interested in this vast and magical Universe and how it is being formed, please google "Astronomy Picture of the Day"  A new photo is shared each day by NASA with a brief explanation below.  Exciting and Mystical stuff.  The photography alone is enough to take my breath away.  On October 17th, this was the photo and explanation.

NGC 346 in the Small Magellanic Cloud
Credit: A. Nota (ESA/STScI) et al., ESA, NASA
Explanation: How and why are all these stars forming? Found among the Small Magellanic Cloud's (SMC's) clusters and nebulae NGC 346 is a star forming region about 200 light-years across, pictured above by the Hubble Space Telescope. A satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) is a wonder of the southern sky, a mere 210,000 light-years distant in the constellation of the Toucan (Tucana). Exploring NGC 346, astronomers have identified a population of embryonic stars strung along the dark, intersecting dust lanes visible here on the right. Still collapsing within their natal clouds, the stellar infants' light is reddened by the intervening dust. A small, irregular galaxy, the SMC itself represents a type of galaxy more common in the early Universe. But these small galaxies are thought to be a building blocks for the larger galaxies present today. Within the SMC, stellar nurseries like NGC 346 are also thought to be similar to those found in the early Universe.
Is this not incredible?  A friend of mine introduced me to this site and I'm hooked.

What grander idea can the mind of man form to itself than a prodigious, glorious and firy globe hanging in the midst of an infinite and boundless space surrounded with bodies of whom our earth is scarcely any thing in comparison, moving their rounds about its body and held tight to their respective orbits by the attractive force inherent to it while they are suspended in the same space by the Creator's almighty arm! And then let us cast our eyes up to the spangled canopy of heaven, where innumerable luminaries at such an immense distance from us cover the face of the skies. All suns as great as that which illumines us, surrounded with earths perhaps no way inferior to the ball which we inhabit and no part of the amazing whole unfilled! System running into system, and worlds bordering on worlds! Sun, earth, moon, stars be ye made, and they were made!
- Edmund Burke, at age 15 praising the 'noble science' of astronomy

October 19, 2010

* By The Light ... update

Inside of "By The Light" is moving forward. The final plaster coat has been completed.  Most of the electrical is in.  It's beginning to look like a real room.  Still lots to do.  Some photo updates follow.

As you enter By the Light, this is what you see first.  Looking straight ahead.  As you can see, they are beginning to lay out the floor.

Now, when you walk straight across the room and turn around, this is what you see.

Looking from one end of the room.

View from the other end of the room.  The little room you see is the bathroom.
The terrace.  It will be a lovely space to sit and look over the mountains.  The big black tank is my water tank.  It will go up on the roof.   I'm currently running of the cistern. 
Looking down from the Studio terrace.
"Your life feels different on you, once you greet death and understand your heart's position. You wear your life like a garment from the mission bundle sale ever after -- lightly because you realize you never paid nothing for it, cherishing because you know you won't ever come by such a bargain again."
- Louise Erdrich

October 18, 2010

* How to live 'til you die

Steve Jobs has always fascinated me.  I've followed his career ever since I knew he started Apple in his garage.  He has learned about life along the way.  I agree with what he has to say.  Hope you find it interesting and inspiring.  Our generation was taught to be 'practical'.  I know now to follow my heart.  I try every day to do just that.  What about you?

"If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing."
~ Marc Chagall

October 17, 2010

* 100 Graces

I know a wonderful woman named Sue.  She has soul.  Her river runs deep.  Sue lives in Athens and now and then escapes to the beautiful island of Andros in the Cyclades.  How I long to return to Greece on day and spend a late summer on a Greek Island.  Sue has a gift.  She is able to take me there with her words.  Sometimes I spend entire days walking beside Sue, hearing, seeing, and breathing her beautiful descriptions.  She has the gift to transport me back to those days when I too experienced the beauty and magic of Greece.

At the moment Sue is on Andros.  The 100 graces below are Sue's.   I would like to share them with you.  They inspire me to use all my senses in experiencing and being thankful for the simple things in my life.  I hope they will do the same for you.

Thanks Sue.  Your generosity in allowing me to share your beautiful graces will be infections is such a beautiful way.

I haven't written 100 graces for a long time. I just felt like it today.

1. A magical day. The Chilean miners gave me the courage to take the ferry alone to Andros, something I haven't had the energy to do for years. 'If you can do something, do it,' they said, and I was listening.
2. The way Chile gave the world a reason to be happy.
3. Memories of being high up in the Argentinian Andes and how in a tiny sprawling village there I found an internet shop and a girl speaking perfect English who apologised for not having broadband! This, at a time when we didn't have broadband in Athens.
4. Being outside in nature just before dawn.
5. A dark blue sea with shifting lighter patches; dark blue hills tranquil in grey mist, a single walker out with his dog - just before dawn.
5. Standing on deck in morning sunshine, soft warm breeze on my face, cliffs of the island gliding by.
6. After a week of winter and rain, a clear radiant tranquil day of brilliant sunshine.
7. Stripping off to my bikini on the verandah. The exquisite warmth on my skin.
8. The luxury of being outdoors all day.
9. The quiet; the fresh clean air.
10. The surprising heat of the October sun.
11. Lying on pristine sand on the deserted beach with the sun radiating light and summer heat through ideally temperate air.
12. The beauty of that beach today takes my breath away; it's the quality of the light after the rain.
13. An arbour of tree fronds stretching to where sparkling water laps the sand.
14. Autumn leaves falling into the surf-like fringe of incoming waves.
15. Sparkling smooth pebbles. Smooth majestic rocks enclosing the bay.
16. A single white-washed taverna, its trellices laden with vines, its blue shutters closed for winter.
17. An elegant small yacht moored within swimming distance.
18. The quiet murmur and laughter of the only two swimmers in the bay.
19. The silence enabling this laughter to be heard up at the house.
20. Swimming in crystal clear water on 15th October. (A few local Brits enticed me in to what for me is cold water.)
21. Walking along the shore singing, three plump ducks happily leading the way.
22. My toes surprised by even colder water which runs into the sea from a hillside stream.
23. The curved hillside behind the beach with its tiny white-washed cottages and olive trees.
24. The sound of creaking branches.
25. The sound of a single pine cone dropping to earth.
26. Being lazy, because it's time to be.
27. Knowing that 'just being' is just fine.
28. Sitting outdoors all afternoon in the shade reading a wonderful novel about music - Vikram Seth's 'An Equal Music.'
29. Not using the computer for a whole day.
30. Not using my brain for a whole day.
31. Not driving for a whole day.
32. Not wearing a watch.
33. The way there are only natural sounds here.
34. Deciding to learn Spanish after my French.
35. Being so happy about the fact that finally, after several years, I can be outdoors all day without adverse effects on my metabolism.
36. Ecstatically enjoying the rich aromas of wind and earth again.
37. Realising I don't want to go back to the city this winter.
38. Realising I'm out of synch with the seasons. I want it to be warm so that I don't ever have to go indoors again.
39. I can envisage one day swimming in the sea and not in a pool - such a possibility would have been beyond the realms of imagination even a year ago.
40. The potential of the human spirit, and mind, and body.

Saturday 16th October
41. Going out onto the verandah before dawn; watching the stars fade.
42. Watching the last bat fly across the terrace.
43. Watching clouds appear with the dawning light, shifting across the brightening sky.
44. How those clouds mingle and part, their blush spreading across the whole sky, before brightening to white.
45. The first hungry kitten brushing my legs and miaowing when it's still dark.
46. An early/late cricket screeching.
47. The first birds singing.
48. A cock crowing.
49. The sea lapping the shore beneath the cliff.
50. The hillside being still and silent enough to hear all these sounds.
51. Ten minutes after dawn, at 7.10, it's light enough to continue reading my book outside.
52. Eating breakfast outside.
53. Walking to the beach in early morning sunlight.
54. Sitting on a stone wall in town, looking out over the harbour with its fishing boats.
55. White-washed houses with blue shutters and red-tiled roofs rising up the gentle slopes all around.
56. The joy of just being outdoors.
57. Watching fisherman sell their catch to local householders from an orange, white and sky-blue wooden boat crafted in a nearby boatyard.
58. Just strolling, with no particular place to go.
59. Sitting in a yellow deckchair on the verandah while kittens play around me.
60. In the silence I can hear: - waves lapping,
61. - bougeanvillia flowers falling onto the flagstones,
62. - the whirring of the wings of passing swallows,
63. - bees buzzing,
64. - the tinkle of a glass mobile hanging from the wooden trellis overhead,
65. - a distant miaow coming closer,
66. - a bee-eater singing in the bushes.
67. A baby lizard frolics on the wall by the geraniums.
68. The smell of thyme and herbs and freshly sprouting wild grasses.
69. The smell of warm moist soil and sea-salt, brine and jasmine.
70. A majestic bird with a huge wing span gliding and circling in the bay. It has white body and wings, a black tail and head.
71. A cat frisking along with me down to the beach. I've never been for a walk with a cat before.
72. The positive power of faith (I'm thinking of the miners again).
73. How this power is not dependent on the proven existence of the object of faith.
74. Not feeling guilty for being here in paradise.
75. Seagulls falling seawards like white handkerchiefs suffused with sunlight against a blue sky.
76. Fridge noises, and the way Will Self wrote about them.
77. Reading late into the night because the book is so good I am totally immersed in its world.
78. Reading outdoors in comforting warmth.
79. Being alone and able to read without interruption.
80. Being alone so that thoughts can flow like a river.
81. Bottled water from springs in Northern Greece.
82. Not being scared of my own body and its unnerving quirks.
83. My metabolism's unreliability becoming a thing of the past.
84. That up to number 84 I didn't even have to search for graces; they just flowed.
85. Letting go for two days - of work, worry, obligation, planning, figuring, assessing, post-mortems, guilt, resentment, judgement, anger, self-criticism, fearfulness.
86. How fear dissolves in sunlight.
87. Letting go for two days - of meditation, positive imaging, yoga, rebounding, daily recuperative targets, e-mailing, cooking nurturing food, shopping for health, taking supplements, doing foot exercises, thinking about any of this.
88. Letting go for two days - of talking, socialising, thinking of others, thinking of myself, thinking of the world, thinking of anything at all.
89. Letting go of - writing my book, which is what I've always done in the past when I was here alone.
90. Lying on the verandah in the midday sun along with the lizards, gazing unfocussed through the holes in a straw-weave sunhat, and purring.
91. There is nothing in my world but graces today. Graces abound all around me. My minute by minute is one big Grace. And it's an even bigger grace that it can be so; that I can live in such a world for a day.
92. Books with comfortably large print.
93. I've shed a few pounds in weight - and hopefully cholesterol - since the summer.
94. My ex-husband, for maintaining this house and a little old car, on the island ready for all the family, including me, to use.
95. Greek families.
96. The way I love writing graces.
97. The way that when I need a hug, I hug and cuddle for hours and hours until my body tells me that my energy boxes are full.
98. In the same way, how when I need sunlight on my body, I stay outside for days until I am sated, and only then move indoors.
99. Sunlight shining through bright red bougeanvillias.
100. Back to the Chilean miners and that first note they sent up. 'We are all alive and well - all 33 of us.' It's so noble, so understated. Not 'we are starving' or 'help us' or 'get us out of here'. No drama, no playing the victim. 'We are all well.' Just that. Such a lot for me to emulate and take inspiration from there.

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.  ~Melody Beattie 

... when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that's present--love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure--the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.  ~Sarah Ban Brethnach

October 16, 2010

* Today

I live in the present moment.  (I try, most of the time I succeed these days).  I awoke at 6:30.  The stars were still visible.  Roosters crowed before the crack of dawn.  Habibi stayed curled up beside me preferring not to move and risk the cold.  I took my arms from the warmth of the down comforter and stretched.  I snuggled back under.  Too cold.  Not moving, I thought.  I looked over at the flowers I bought at the market yesterday.  Detail was not visible in the still dusky dawn.  The smell of tuber roses lingered in the air.  I took a deep breath through my nose, appreciating, enjoying, wondering.  Flowers make my heart sing.  Their presence cheers me.  It calms me.  It settles me. They change the energy in a room.  I'm not so near to a source of flowers as I was in Centro.  I used to have a bouquet every week.  I must see what I can do about that.  I miss them.

A flower cannot blossom without sunshine, and man cannot live without love.   ~ Max Muller

October 14, 2010

* Final coat of plaster

Yes!  The final skim coat of plaster is being applied in the studio.  The men are so proud of their work.  Cesar came down and called me up to take a photo.  He said it was 'bonito' (beautiful) ... which it is.  Here's the photo of my 'men at work'.

Finishing plaster being applied
A lovely surprise for me yesterday.  Helga, of My ARTtistic Life featured the Frida Nicho I made on her blog.  Check it out HERE.

"The greatest gift that you could ever give to another is your own happiness, for when you are in a state of joy, happiness, or appreciation, you are fully connected to the Stream of pure, positive Source Energy that is truly who you are. And when you are in that state of connection, anything or anyone that you are holding as your object of attention benefits from your attention."

~ Esther Hicks ~