Sunday, October 31, 2010

This is Halloween

This is one of my favorite movies.  It does have an offbeat sense of humor including a two-faced politician for Mayor.  His head swivels when he has to make a decision.  The whole movie is filled with visual plays on words.  Even though you might think this is only a simple kids movie it is not; there is plenty of hidden meanings like the Mayor to watch for.  It is indeed a movie you need to set and watch to catch the entirety of the movie, it is very cleverly done.  Plus this movie has a good basic moral to it.  Apparently I am not the only one to love "The Nightmare Before Christmas" as it has been out for many years and has been redone a couple of times.  I think the last time they redid it it was in 3-D.  The kids and I have enjoyed it for years and it is starting on a third generation.  I hope you enjoy this little celebration of Halloween.
Happy Halloween

Johnina  ;^D

Friday, October 29, 2010

Stormy October weather

We have had several days of rain in a row.  I does clear up for a couple of hours in the afternoon everyday so it's not so bad.  The wind however continues to gust all day long.  I decided to try out a new technique to see if I could capture the movement of the leaves during the times when the rain was not falling but the wind was blowing.  I experimented with the shutter speed so that the lens was open longer to catch the leaves as they moved while trying to keep the tree trunks and backgrounds sharp.  Some of the results are below.  Let me know what you think so I can adjust my camera for the best photos.

 My daughter also has stormy weather every fall as she starts school and breaks in new roommates on top of the weather change.  She has already had to cope with snow flurries at night already.  Since she has asthma the weather change makes a difference, but the biggest of her stormy weather is breaking in her roommates to her allergies.  You see she has severe food allergies that can send her into an asthma attack or worse anaphylaxis and it's not just eating the food, it can just being around when the food is cooked.  She posts a list which causes some teasing; it is very long and even if her roommates are understanding some of their friends are not.  They are also not used to being careful in what they eat and fix so they sometimes forget and then she can't breathe.  She really did a good job of describing what it is like for her on her blog  
I can relate; I have different medical problems but a lot of the same frustrations.  Check out her blog it will give you a different view on life.

  I have been reading the first Dresden files book.  I've read a couple of them and they are just fun, quick to read fantasy books.  This one did have a tidbit of wisdom in it and finding these little character thoughts that really round out the characters is why I still read.  The saying that the book is always better than the movie; I believe to be true almost exclusively.  Anyway here is the quote from "Storm Front" by Jim Butcher that kind of sums up how to handle the storms of life.
'Rain was coming down in sheets.  I could hear it, on the concrete outside and on the old building above me.  It creaked and swayed in the spring thunderstorm and the wind, timbers gently flexing, wise enough with age to give a little, rather than put up stubborn resistance until they broke.  I could probably stand to learn something from that.'  
I think we could all learn to bend in the storms of life so we don't break.

Johnina  :^A

Monday, October 25, 2010

More Autumn Colors

Georgia in October
Splashes of Color 14
Old white gate
Splashes of Color 13
Georgia in October 2

Autumn colors in a more traditional view; photos taken last week. 
Enjoy the sumptuous colors of this beautiful world and season.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Autumn Colors

Blanketflower art-edit
Splashes of color 17
Splashes of color 19
Splashes of color 18- Art edit

Autumn wildflower 1
At this time of year everyday brings a change of colors.  The leaves change slowly down here and this year it seems to be slower than usual.  One day you wake to a completely green tree, then maybe a day or two later that tree may have just a couple of colored leaves, then maybe a couple of clumps a few days later and then days later a tree in fall color, looking the way it shouldIn the meantime another tree is doing the same thing but on a different schedule.  Added to that is the fall flowers that are currently blooming.  It is really quite pretty even if the colors are not coming out as they normally do.  I have not been able to get traditional autumn landscapes so I have concentrated on the colorful leaves, especially those that are sunlit. I have also taken the pictures and turned them into art-edits so that I have more than just leaf photos.  Enjoy some of the colors of autumn from Georgia.

Johnina :^A 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thank you, Nora

I have had several really bad days in a row and so I really appreciate Nora's suggestion of coloring in a copy of the Mandala that I drew.  I found that coloring them in to be just as relaxing as the original drawing of it was.  I scanned it on my printer and than printed it onto card stock making several copies.  For the first one I colored I wanted to do a quick and easy one, so I decided to keep it simple using just a few colors, using black to do the basic outlines of the designs and leaving quite a bit of white so I gathered markers of only a few colors, not paying attention to the brand.  I quickly remembered why I now only buy certain brands.  I use Sharpie markers, they come in many colors and points and are reasonably priced.  I found with the off brands that they tend to run out of color quickly, have muddy colors, do not apply evenly and are generally somewhat frustrating to work with.  Sharpies do tend to bleed though the paper, but that can be taken care of easily enough just by putting down a sheet or two of cheap paper.  I don't use markers often enough to have tried the artist quality marker so I have no idea how much better they might be than the Sharpies.
  This is the second Mandala that I colored.  I decided to do a more complicated job of coloring.  For this one I used colored pencils, regular ones, watercolor ones, and soft blend-able ones.  It took a couple of days to complete this one and I just finished it this morning.  I could have done more layering and blending, but I was anxious to see what it would look like completely filled with color.  I think the next one I do I will take more time, do more layers and blending and more of the touches that add finesse and finish to a drawing.    
Since I do most of my drawing and artwork in pencil both graphite and colored pencil I've tried several brand and have my favorites.  Crayola colored pencils are my favorite student quality pencils and Crayola watercolor pencils are also available.  They come in lots of colors work pretty well, are available easily and are reasonably priced.  I used them for a long time.  When I upgraded to artist quality I was lucky that the first ones that I tried were Derwent colored pencils.  I noticed a vast difference in the ease and quality of the work done with the pencils from the very first stroke.  The kids were impressed and noticed a significant difference in the quality from the first time I showed them a new drawing; and then when they used them they were just as excited as I was.  This brand offers many different types of colored pencils and they are all wonderful and delightful to use.  (All are available on amazon, just click on the colored pencil site above or the locator on the bottom right of this blog.)  The colors are also very fade resistant.  It's very disappointing to put a lot of time into a piece of artwork only to have the colors fade and that is a problem with colored pencils.  I have tried many other brands and have found each one to have at least one frustrating point.  Things like tips that break easy, pencils that drag, uneven color distribution.  However, I have found that other artists have their favorites, too.  But after trying some other highly recommended pencils only to be frustrated with them I now pretty well stick with Derwent.  You may find you like others better because of the way you use your pencils or Derwent may not be as popular simply because it is a little harder to find; but now that it is on Amazon that problem is gone.  Anyway find what works for you.  The materials you use should not be a source of frustration.  For me that is especially important which is probably why I got on such a band wagon about my favorite brands.
If you like to do art work I hope it brings as much pleasure and joy into your life as it does in mine.  And with the bad days that I have had lately; art has made all the difference in the world in my life.  Coloring in the Mandalas was a great suggestion and has served me well.
Johnina  :^A 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Editing Program

This is going to be a short post.  Bad night last night.  Dreamed and then pain in my dream and I started crying in my dream from the pain only to wake up crying and in pain.  I hate nights like that.
Yesterday was not all bad I got a new editing program from a friend.  At first I accidentally downloaded the wrong program, but it was free so I left it and went on to find the correct program which was a free trial (bummer).  Anyway I tried out the programs and played with them without any particular idea in mind.  I did come up with this picture which I do like.  I hope you enjoy it ,too.
Johnina :^A 

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Mandala Zentangle Style- 1st attempt

I don't remember where I found out about the You Tube demonstration on this style of Mandala but I am sure glad I did.  In case you don't know what a Mandala is; it is an ancient art form, usually a circle, which is usually used as a focus for meditation.  The making of a Mandala is also used as a type of meditation.  It is done in colored sand in some monasteries by monks in the present day.  I've seen pictures and videos of it being done and it is fascinating.  The reason I don't remember where I found this style is because I found it a while ago and never got up the courage to try this new technique even though I liked the look and had done some Mandalas in the past.  But with reading 'The Sound of Paper' by Julie Cameron I gathered my courage and tried it.  It was wonderful!!!!  Making it turned out to be a form of meditation and a GREAT distraction from the pain.  I started on it last night and got lost in it, losing track of time AND PAIN.  It didn't take away the pain because when I stopped there was an immediate return of the pain; I was just lost in the creation and not paying attention to the pain.  Just like hypnosis does not take away the pain, it just takes your mind elsewhere.  I had my last three babies with hypnosis; while my body was busy and in full labor, my mind was on the beach relaxing.  The pain was still there though; I know because one Doctor walked in touched me on the leg and said 'time to wake up an have this baby' and I came right out of the hypnosis in the middle of a 'let's push this baby out' contraction and promptly panicked;  I've even had stitches in my neck without even having had a local while using hypnosis.   I wish I could stay in a state of hypnosis at times, but it does have it's limits like laying down and being still and not really accomplishing anything (except for having a baby).  I think I will try another one and be a little more adventurous and use some color.
Below is the You tube demonstration if you would like to try it.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Micheal Jackson Medley

My son-in -law put this on his facebook page and even though I am not a big Micheal Jackson fan I thought this was WOW wonderful.  There are so many creative people out in this world and isn't it delightful to live in an age where technology allows us to share our talents with the world.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Brownies for breakfast

Actually these brownies were made for dinner not for breakfast and having brownies for a meal brings back two very different memories and two very different trains of thought.  One of the memories which inspired the Halloween decorations comes from one of my all time favorite movies 'Practical MagicSearch for Practical Magic' with Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing and Diane Wiest.  You see they never quite fit into the town they live in; a town their family has lived in for generations; because you see they are a line of witches and live their lives their own way.  Anyway when Sally and Jillian's parents  die and they move in with their aunties, they are taken into the house and promised chocolate cake for breakfastWhen Sally's husband dies, she moves back in with the aunties and in order to try to be normal tells her girls and the aunties there will be no chocolate for breakfast.  Later when Sally goes to rescue her sister Jillian from an abusive boyfriend and brings her back home; the aunties invite her to have brownies for breakfast; which they had been doing all along.  I always thought that the aunties were pretty smart cookies, sometimes it takes a treat to comfort and to get over the rough spots of life.
There are several themes that run though this movie and even though I do not believe in witchcraft the movie is pretty wise, sometimes funny and sometimes touching.  And in the end the neighborhood women band together to save Jullian from her nasty old boyfriend, showing that in the end we are all more alike than we are different.  I've been watching as I've been writing this blog and it's been delightful.  Even if I had the brownies for desert last night instead of dinner it did serve to cheer me up.
The other memory associated with Brownies for dinner happened when we had 5 kids still at home and I was trying very hard to improve the way we were eating.  I had given up on the diet of the week threw the scale out and decided just to eat healthy, exercise and not worry about the weight.  Amazingly I lost the baby fat from 5 pregnancies and kept it off for many years.  When I tried a new recipe, at first I would make sure there was enough of the rest of the dinner so if someone did not like the new item they didn't go to bed hungry.  We found some good new recipes and some real disasters, some I had a hard time gagging down.  About this time I got a computer program cookbook software that gave nutrition info on the recipes so I could adjust my recipies and make them healthier and be able to get a nice mix between taste and health.  While I was doing that I made an AMAZING discovery. my stroganoff, my corn chowder and my brownies all had the same nutrition, same calories, same fat, same vitamins, same protien, same carbs.  And they were all dinner size portions no tiny brownie- this was a 1/4 of an 8 x8 pan.  So when nobody liked the dinner we throw it out and one of the three big kids would make brownies for dinner.  It made trying out new recipes fun we either had a hit or we had brownies.  
Since I knew it had the same nutrition as my stroganoff and we only did it maybe once a week.  I got to the point where I no longer felt guilty about the brownies for dinner.
Brownie Recipe
3/4 cup cocoa
2 cup sugar
1 cup margarine
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Stir together sugar and cocoa.  Add margarine and stir well.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each egg.  Stir in remaining ingredients mixing well.  Spread into greased 9x12 pan.  Bake in 350*preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
View from my kitchen window

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sorry sometimes I get down

Step by painful step
Pain, pain and more pain
Times of down spirits.
Diagnosis after diagnosis
When will it stop?

Lack of color in my life.

New day, color coming back.
Some dark, some light.
Beautiful contrast
Take a look 

Taking baby steps back
Learning, coping, lifting spirit.
  Can always come back
To see the beauty of life.
Color in my life.

I am always in pain for me it is a matter of degree.  For the last couple of days my pain level has been extreme. I have pretty well learned to cope with pain and be able to see the beauty of the world.  Most people do not know that I am in pain all the time.  A couple of years ago I remember an afternoon of being pain free but other than that I don't remember being pain free.  Even on narcotics I am not pain free and believe me I know if I forget to take them.  On a scale of 1 to 10 my pain doctor and I try to keep my pain level under 5 and I have learned to cope pretty well at that point; not too much pain and not too groggy.  It's when the pain goes above 9 or stays above 8 for more than a day that I have a hard time.  My pain level has been above 8 for about 4 days now.  I went to the ortho doctor yesterday and he told me that my knee swelling and hurting could go on for another 6 to 8 months.  I really don't want this kind of pain for another 6 to 8 months even  if it is off and on, and that's just the point at which he would start to worry it could go on longer.  I told him about the vitamin d deficiency and the pain in my shin and he was real concerned about my having a stress fracture.  He had an x-ray taken; no stress fracture but calcium deposits in the muscles in front of my shins.  He said he didn't know what was causing them but they could be very painful equivalent to a stress fracture.  He also said that I now needed to be careful with my exercise so that I don't get a stress fracture and to come back immediately for an x-ray if I have any increase in pain. Between the pain, the doctors concern over fractures AND a new diagnosis I am feeling quite overwhelmed.  when I got home I started to research calcium deposits and the causes. None of the causes where pleasant and most of the causes required a different doctor to diagnosis it.  I could spend a lot of time and money just getting the cause so a treatment can be started. BIG TIME SIGH.
I've kind of resorted to chocolate, ice cream, caffeinated non-diet soda, and TV as comfort foods and distractions.  I even went so far as to watch SYFY movies. Actually I kind of like them they remind me of the B-movies I used to watch as a kid on TV or at the Dundee theater for 50 cents.  Then at college the good old 'Creature Features- Fiendish tales of......' where everyone would gather in the dorm lounge to watch, with bowls of popcorn, camaraderie, and where I learned to make no-bake cookies during commercials.  Also with SYFY movies you never know whose going to die sometimes a good guy will bite the dust while the bad guy goes on living, sometimes the sweet couple survives, and sometimes like the one I just finished watching where the monster ape killed everybody.  I don't often watch these movies i have to be in the mood which I must be because I'm on my second one (Halloween marathon)Sigh
I did get up and take some pictures this morning which did sort of get me a baby step in the right direction and the picture and poem above are the result of that baby step.  Hopefully tomorrow will be more and bigger steps back to seeing more color and beauty
Johnina:'C heading back to :^A

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Befriending Time

This pansy is still in it's little starter pot even though I bought it two weeks ago.  It is still healthy and waiting to be planted.  I have about 90% of my garden cleaned out now so I am making progress and they will be planted soon.  I do get frustrated with limited time and energy.  I wanted to get them planted right away.  Since I have been walking Pascal in the woods; I have gotten lots of bug bites on my ankles and lower legs and apparently whatever bit me I am allergic to.  Serious itching, bright red skin and hives.  It was bad enough I had to take Benadryl and I had to take enough so that it put me to sleep.  ZZZZZZZZ all day yesterday.  I also never know how I will feel from day to day with my medical problems so at times I get frustrated with time.
I have been reading Julia Cameron's 'The Sound Of Paper' in which she gives a situation that can cause one to hit a slump in their life and then she gives something to try to get oneself reconnected with life.  Even though this exercise is not exactly for frustration with time; it worked for me.

Try this: Most of us have been braver than we know, braver than we acknowledge.  Take pen in hand and write yourself a fan letter, thanking and praising yourself for your courage.  Be specific.  'It was brave of you to go back to graduate school.  It was brave of you to help your sister through her divorce.  It was brave of you to enter that juried show. It was brave of you to take up fly-fishing.'  Your inner artist is proud of you for your many accomplishments.  Let this letter be a place to share that pride.  Write fully and fondly, then mail yourself that letter."

When I look at what I have accomplished the frustration vanishes and is replaced with self respect.  I am grateful to have found this book and for the wise advise in it .  Johnina  :^A


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Autumn Roses

My roses are the only flowers that are still blooming well.  A couple of my blanketflowers are still blooming, but they are looking a little straggly.  Last year I had a lot of my annuals and most of my perennials were still blooming well, but with the heat this summer most of my annuals died.  I bought some pansies that I need to plant.  I think I will investigate some other plants for some color and start some perennials so next spring I'll have strong new plants.  Meanwhile I'll enjoy what I have.  I took some pics of my roses over the last couple of days and included them here and some of the lesser quality photos I took and did art edits.  It was fun to do and I enjoyed the results.
Hope you ENJOY too
Johnina  :^A 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

More from my walks with Rascal

Walking with Rascal
View through the trees
Rascal in the trees
Wood sprite
Morning lit
Splashes of colors

Rascal and I are working on the command 'be still' so I can take photos when I see something of interest and still get a nice crisp image.  As you can see Rascal is learning rather quickly.  Good boy.
Johnina :^A