Friday, May 25, 2012

The New Frame Shop Header - DOESN'T WORK!

Man-dog. Talk about being aggravated.

Here I am, still up at the crack of dawn (someplace... here it's 1:15 a.m., but that didn't sound as dramatic) and I am so ticked because I have wasted two-plus hours fiddling with a new header for our frame shop website and the dumb thing won't ftp correctly.

I have been having trouble with our hosting company. Right now our Chocolate Panache site is down, our Frame Shop Gallery site is down, Davesports is down, and now The Frame Shop Gallery Online won't post updates.

Makes me ticked.

However, look at my little mother and my little grand-daughter.

That's lovely.

So, extremely beautiful.

And who knows. I sent in a "help" ticket (oooooh, I hate to do that!), and they really are good about getting things fixed. But I wanted to see my mommy and my grammy-baby up there TONIGHT!


Love, d.

P.S. Now it's 1:23 a.m.  See: crack of dawn someplace else by now!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How to Organize: 101

Oh my goodness, I love art books and magazines and they just pile up around here.

This past week, when I was cleaning the ridiculous stack of books and magazines that seem to accumulate by the side of my bed, I ran across a couple of magazines that I didn't remember I had but, FUNNY-FUNNY-FUNNY, I also ran across two books about organizing.

Oh my goodness, that gets me to laughing.

I remember buying them now. I paid ONE PENNY for one of them (plus shipping, of course) and that's how much good it's done me. Not even a two-cents opinion.

The other book was about organizing home offices and stuff. I remember fanning through the pages of that and deciding it was a waste of time too. I paid about a dollar for that one.

You know what? The problem is not lack of organizational skills. I apparently am somewhat able to organize because I worked as a secretary for over 15 years and although they were probably pretty happy to get rid of me when I left, at least I wasn't fired for losing things.

The problem is... the crummy truth is... I am extremely lazy.

Lord, I must repent. But not quite yet.

I listened to a sermon by Alistair Begg recently about being lazy and I knew he had me pegged. I am extremely lazy. I am capable of organizing something, but I'd rather just take a nap or watch a Frazier rerun. I am lazy-lazy-lazy.

So what's the point?

Only point is this: both those books are thrown in the Salvation Army pile. If you want a couple good books about organizing, look at the Salvation Army. But you'll have to just keep looking and looking and looking, because who knows when I'll get around to dropping them by there. Meanwhile, you're welcome to shuffle through the growing pile of junk-books I don't want anymore (by the bookshelf by the front door so I'll remember to take them some day far-far-far into the future).

Love to all you workers out there... and to the lazy ones like me, even more love and lots and lots of ata-boys. d.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Trying to Move On: NOT Easy

When I got home from work today, I asked my wiener dog, Frankie, I said, "Frankie, why is it that no matter how hard you try, you can't shake some people out of your life?"

Frankie didn't know how to answer.

Here's the only thing I know:

In the last year I've tried my best to shake three different people out of my life. But as soon as I think I can stop holding my breath and that it's finally over for good, here they come again. (Why oh why oh why???)

My daughter said Frankie chased a big old horse and its rider all the way up the hill to our neighbors' last night about a half mile away. He is just downright an attack dog, old Frankie Bean.  He is fearless.

I wish I could be like Frankie when I don't like something and just raise my hackles and finally be DONE with these people. But I guess God has other ideas and that's why these, well, miserable associations keep popping up.

And I guess God agrees with me about Frankie too: he's perfection... and so he can chase those old horses' asses away! Far, far away. Never to return. Or Frankie will send them packing again.

Oh, what a wondrous delight that must be.

Love to my friends and family and all those who are not horses' asses. d.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What are you doing here, Elijah?

(Below is a short video showing a series of photos of a new mixed-media project I finished last weekend called, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" I like looking at works in progress done by artists, so I tried to sort of do that here. It's clumsy, but it's the first one I've done and I'm tired of it, ha! Above is the finished painting. We are framing it at the shop now and when we get finished, I will take a picture of it if I can remember. It's off to its new home mid-week so I'll have to get with it quick or it'll be too late!)

Who wouldn't be wild for Elijah: 

standing up to the wicked King Ahab and Queen Jezebel and tormenting all their prophets with his witty little diatribe about their fake gods.

But like so many of us, after the excitement of the moment was over and Elijah realized what he had done (and that Jezebel was after him to kill him dead), he simply just ran away.

Elijah, this man of tremendous faith and understanding, ran and ran and ran and ran. For forty days he peeled out across the desert. He didn't eat or drink unless the good Lord  delivered it to him with the same convenience and panache a pizza in a box is delivered to our front door, except Elijah didn't even bother to mutter, "much obliged, Lord." Poor old Elijah. I've never done anything great -- not one thing, not even close -- in my life... but I am simple and selfish enough to have felt discouraged enough to run and run and run and run.

Eventually, old human Elijah hid in a cave where he immersed himself in pity. That's when God presented himself to this incredible, faithful, frightened human. It's one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible.

The Lord Appears to Elijah

And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.

12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

This mixed-media piece, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" was made for a drama group in Florissant, Missouri, to present to their director. Their play is about the unseen work of angels, who are active all around us... but we are largely unaware of their presence or the miracles they provide for us right under our turned-up little self-important noses. (Okay, I added the turned-up little self-important noses part. I have no idea how humans are portrayed in this play. I only know how stupid I, myself, act.)

"What are you doing here, Elijah?"..........

"What are you doing here, Donna?" ...........

I have no earthly idea, Lord. Not even a single tiny clue. And I am so thankful for your gentle calling.

Love, d.

The painting process:

I started with just a  quick-quick rough sketch of Elijah  (If I spend too much time thinking about what to  do or how to begin, what ends up on the canvas is studied and stiff and self-conscious) and working as maniacally as possible with oil pastels and acrylics... (oh the glory of oil pastels and gel medium and paint-paint-paint!) 

I tried to figure out what sort of expression and feelings Elijah might have. 

Would Elijah simply be all worried and discouraged? That's kind of my default mode, but Elijah was ELIJAH, after all! not some dopey dim middle-aged house-wife. 

Would he be defensive and sort of half-mad? I mean, admit it, it's possible to feel that way, even toward God.

Would he feel betrayed and abandoned by God? I believe he did. Maybe he did and that's why God did what he did. He understands that stubborn, disquieting human nature so much better than we do.

He would have certainly been overwhelmed. 

Perhaps he was so depressed and exhausted that he simply  felt nothing. I don't know. I just don't know.

I went ahead and started on the background. 

I wanted to give a feeling conveyed by these powerful scriptures without being terribly trite and literal or worse, completely predictable. Within a couple hours,  I had used so many paintbrushes I had to stop and clean them... and I've been collecting brushes for 30+ years... I have over 100 brushes! 

Painting the fire was tremendous fun. Oh my goodness, I mean, I wanted to make that whole picture on firI loved it so much. Of course, maybe that's because I had my ka-billions of brushes all clean and ready to use again! 

I was uneasy about the lightning; how do you paint lightning that doesn't look cartoonish...? I've seen cartoonish lightning in paintings done by real artists. There's not even a laughable, remote hope for  my dumb lightning. But Elijah had to have his lightning. And so I hurried up and quickly quickly quickly streaked it in there.

Hardest of all:  how to portray the Lord as a gentle whisper??? 

What in the world does that look like? How in the world do I convey that feeling?

I set the painting on the easel and sat on the couch to look at it while I ate a snack. No ideas came to mind that seemed workable. I cleaned up my studio a little then went back to the couch and looked at Elijah again.

I figured out what I thought I might do after I took a picture of the painting with my flash on. It illuminated Elijah in a way that seemed like a possible solution to what I was hoping to render.  I thought maybe that was how I could signify the Lord: in a supernatural, pure, whispering breeze.

Once that was painted, I felt slightly more confident about Elijah's expression... a little bit better anyway... (although I am not an adept enough artist to convey all the things I wish I could. I'm actually just pleased I sort of know the correct layout of a face! ha ha!):
Renewed determination. 
Utter and stupefying wonderment. 
Even rest.
Even peace, maybe? 

"What are you doing here, Elijah?"

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tiny Houses

These little bitty houses are intriguing to me.

I've watched YouTube videos about little houses... downloaded lots of pictures of little houses... thought about how it'd be nice to simplify into a little bitty house... admired the little tiny house our friend Nick lived in before he joined the Navy. I just like those little houses and I like thinking about how luxurious you could make a small space simply because it is small.

Today we took Ashley, my older daughter, her husband Matt, friends Martha and James and baby Olive, and my mother and mother-in-law to Moreland's Restaurant for an overdue dinner celebration of Ashley's birthday. Moreland's is on the Gasconade River, across from where the old Highway 63 North bridge (past Vichy, before Vienna) was blown to bits decades ago after they built the new highway. Down the cliff from Moreland's, is my father- and mother-in-law's little place on the river.

My father-in-law, Alton Roberts, was a man who knew how to live and he did just that, everyday of his life, whether he was healthy enough to or not!... he never wasted a minute. Sadly, he passed away in the late winter this year. After dinner this evening we toured, probably for the last time (my mother-in-law is selling it), Alton's little cabin -- his own tiny little home.

When I first knew Alton, over 30 years ago, I remember him talking about wanting a place on the river one day. Alton worked for everything he ever had; nothing was given to him. He was a hard-working, hard-living  bulldog of a man and though it took years for him to achieve this dream, there was no doubt that he eventually would have his place: His cabin on the river.

Alton and Brenda with great-grandson Micah this past Christmas
Including today, I can count on one hand the number of times I visited his place at the river. Our girls stayed there with their granddaddy and grandmama for fishing trips and camping when they were younger, but mostly the place was Alton's. It was his little private world of sorts, I think. He had his river-life and his river-friends and his river-schedule and his river-ways. He had his own river-family too... Alton was beloved by the people who knew him and the river people likely knew him best.

Alton's little cabin is a lovely, simple place. Quiet but not too isolated. I believe he mostly would do his living out doors there: the porch is as big as the cabin. My mother-in-law said they had to have the mattresses special made to fit into the tiny bedrooms (smaller than a full, larger than a twin). Yet, there is everything a person could need. Could even want.

A tiny house for this big bulldog of a man. This strong man. This good and decent and kind and honest man.

We miss you, Alton. We know you don't have a small house anymore. Oh, but what a fine, fine home you have now.

It was an honor to know you. I love you dearly and can't wait to see you again.