Eavesdropping for Art

conversationEavesdropping for Art was a hobby of mine a few decades ago.  It was a guilty pleasure that gave me some very surreal moments.  It started out quite innocently.  I would go to the gym after work and on the walk home I’d stop at a restaurant for supper.  I was single and quite frankly after a long day it was rather nice to sit alone and read the local rag.  Sometimes I’d work on some sketches – thinking about a new project.  One day I overheard a conversation and that lead to my starting a small cartoon. The conversation was this – “So I went to South Africa for my holiday.  It was great.  No car bombs or anything’.   The next one I remember was – ” I seem to like violent men”.   All these small pieces of conversations were like a side-order to my meals.  I never was interested in the actual conversation – those small nuggets were too good on their own.

 

 

Daily Prompt: Talking in Your Sleep ~

Have you ever eavesdropped on a conversation you weren’t supposed to? Tell us about a time when it was impossible not to overhear a conversation between people who didn’t know you were there. What was the conversation about? How did it make you feel?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us ACCIDENT.

Banana Brownies

A great recipe – again. Love Brownies but sometimes they can be like toffee. I bet there’s a recipe for zucchini brownies somewhere.

A Taste of Morning

This is a brownie recipe that I love because the brownies are super moist and let me make use of extra bananas, and an added bonus is that they freeze well. I just made a batch to put out for guests!Image

Banana Brownies

Not overly sweet or overly chocolatey, these have the added flavor and moistness of banana.

3/4 c. + 2 T. all-purpose flour

2 T. Dutch-process cocoa

1/4 t. salt

4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped or just over 3/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 c. unsalted butter

1-2 lg. eggs (use 1 for denser brownies, 2 for cakier brownies)

1/2 c. dark brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 c. granulated white sugar

1 c. mashed overripe banana (about 2 lg.)

1 t. vanilla extract

3.75 oz. chopped milk chocolate or 3/4 c. milk chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Butter and flour a 9” square baking pan…

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Oh many of my Italian and Spanish friends will like this too – so I must share this one. You could use wheat or barley instead for a nuttier taste. I’m sure my grandmother knew how to make such a pudding – the English were very fond of foods from all the countries they invaded – :) For some reason I am polenta challenged but I will check this one out soon. Thanks Laurie.

A Taste of Morning

Indian Pudding is a traditional New England dessert which can be traced back to the 18th century. I developed a  fondness for it when I lived in the Boston area. For some reason, though, it is relatively unknown outside of New England.

Here is a brief history of the dish …

When British settlers moved to this country they brought their Hasty Pudding recipes with them. I’ve never had Hasty Pudding, but apparently it is a dish made from wheat cooked in water or milk until it develops the consistency of a porridge. Wheat was in short supply in New England, so the settlers adapted to the new world by substituting corn meal – which they called Indian flour. Being along a trade route with plentiful molasses and spices, they embellished the dish with these flavorful additions as well as with dried fruits and sometimes nuts … and thankfully, the…

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Where do You Look?

Do you look ahead or to the side or just watch where your feet are stepping?  Should you look directly at anyone and feel OK about a direct look?  Do you know when is it good or bad form?  Some of these questions hit me in the elevator last week.   I’ve debated this before.   Of course the variables change and so do the rules.  What interests me most are the checks we live with – personal rules and social protocol.

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family – no flash – lots of movement

Last week – There was this girl who stepped into the elevator and faced perpendicular to me.  I could see out of the corner of my eye, that she was short, 20 something with long, straight, dark blond hair held back with an Alice band.  Her face was long and pale.  The band wasn’t able to hold the hair well and the cotton shapeless outfit spelled youth, arts student and earth child.  She gazed up at me, to ask me something.  Normally people are not so direct.  I’m not too comfortable with gazing although I am very good at looking.  I noticed her eyes were open really wide and they looked directly at me as I talked.

I only managed a few seconds of returned gaze.  I wasn’t able to keep my thoughts together under this gaze.  The intensity was startling.   The 1st issue was because of this internal running commentary going on about looking at people and secondly it was about participating in her reality.  It was too personal.   I chose to look sideways.  Unfortunately I started to laugh at myself but she interpreted it more with what I was saying and the conversation was lightened.   I think I saw amusement being sent back at me, as she noted my off-center gaze.  Perhaps she too has the same internal conversation.

Through a certain amount of personal shyness I am sure I have rarely looked anyone in the eye, most of my days.  Contrarily,  I am also a starer.  As an artist I stare very intently.  My husband and friends, in our early acquaintance, found those stares a bit uncomfortable.  Our art class model used to comment on my stares.  I stare at all sorts of things when I’m listening or looking.

Some days I become very bold and just stare – however it isn’t without risk.  I once was shouted at – “What do you think you are looking at?!!” by a very large person.  I thought it was obvious and even though she was alarming in her reaction, I found the situation very funny.  Perhaps it was rude but in all truth I was having a great old time looking at her, watching her walk towards me.  I wasn’t critical, I was just looking.  When I was a young person I often walked along looking at the ground!  When I traveled to and lived for a bit  in California that all fell away – thankfully.  It was unexpected – nowhere else had that effect on me.

As an artist I look at everything.   Colour, shapes, movement, negative space – they are all food for thought.  One of my most common looking strategies is when I let the visual image come in uncensored.  This is a distancing strategy.  I manage to look without engaging in details.  My work is very detail oriented and critical in nature.  It can be that work  and the social looking are not always played  properly.   They can be misinterpreted in kind.

In the end I will continue to look and monitor my behavior.  Looking is fun and maybe a bit dangerous.  The alternative is too depressing.2012-6-1-BowlCrpdRszd

Hoar Frost

I was up at the farm last weekend and the Hoar Frost was amazing.  I was so happy I had the camera with me.  Initially it seemed a waste because it was such a grey day.  It got greyer as I drove up the escarpment.  There is often a 3 to 10 degree difference from the city to the country, where the farm is. When I get to the farm there could be black ice and snow.

Alongside the road, the woods and farms looked spooky in the fog.  By the time I turned off the highway the temperature had plummeted to create the hoar-frost.  Our car has a  temp read-out of the ground.  It was +2C in town,  0C on the highway and -5C on the side road.

Trees on Roadway - Frosted

Trees on Roadway – Frosted

Old Maples

Old Maples

Hay Field

Hay Field

Lane entrance

Lane entrance

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Hoar Frost

Hoar Frost

In the photos with the ‘fog’ – the frost is disappearing into the air – this was over so quickly – I am glad I wasn’t late for lunch. . Once at the farm I bundled up my Chihuahua and took her and my parent’s collie for a walk.  Dali always has a good time but damp cold and snow aren’t a Chihuahua’s favourite.  When we turned around to walk home she was charged and that excited Adam the collie – who in turn hoped they would play.  Dali was up for a race but not a wrestle!

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Play!

Play!

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Pets

Bella, Cora & Me

I’ve been a pet owner all my life.  When I was little I didn’t think about it and made every creature one.  Poor things had to endure periods of neglect and attention.  Being a child and later on too,  I didn’t always know what they needed or cared.  My parents tried to stem my enthusiasm but I was a spoiled child who almost always got her way.  My cat and dog endured many outings dressed, trimmed and stuffed into boxes or carriages.

I have lived a double life – one in the country and one in the city.  In the country it was easy to find pets.  They came by the dozen.   Cats and dogs were always showing up at the farm.  I played with the kittens and the mature cats whenever I could.  My dogs and I would walk the fence-lines and spend long hours under a tree or on a large rock in the sun.  I would race to the stables and snuggle up with the baby pigs and enjoy the older ones chewing on my rubber boots.  Cows have very wet noses and very rough tongues.   Chickens are silly and yet they are very sweet too.   Collecting eggs with my grandmother I also learned to be careful cause a chicken can bite very hard.   Sheep are kind of pushy – young and old.  My  father wanted me to join the 4H club but talked himself out of it when he thought about how I’d react to my calf being slaughtered.  He tried to tell me that farming isn’t about having pets.

Pets have been my closest friends for periods of my life.  They comforted me, made me laugh and were wonderful companions.  They began to teach me that they have their own intelligence.

Last of the cattle

Sarah

I found having a pet in the city a challenge and one that has led me to think about their happiness.  When I moved to the city after school, I couldn’t bring my Doberman.   She didn’t fare well.  The city sounds and the broken glass made her life very difficult.  Luckily my parents took her in.  I didn’t have a pet again for almost 6 years.  As a freelance illustrator I thought my lifestyle allowed space and time for a cat.  It did but as time went on my work and social life took more time away and she grew lonely and a bit nuts.  I got her a companion but she wasn’t prepared and though they did play and shared a bit the relationship wasn’t ideal.  The companion cat lived a long and lovely life with me and my growing family.  My first cat however became increasingly unhappy and fearful, culminating in a shorter life.  She only related to me.

Mitzi

Here is Mitzi – one of  my parent’s dogs.  When my mother was in the hospital for a few years Mitzi would wait for me to arrive at the farm and then she’d hop in the car for the trip to the hospital.   She was a working dog.  She and Bruno, her life-long companion, would take turns working and keeping my father company.  The year they passed away was very hard for my parents.

Losing pets is such a hard topic.  Each passing cuts like a knife.  As hard on me as the loss of my father.  I think this is because they are like your children and in some cases like a sibling.  Luckily for future pets they have given me much to think on regarding their health and happiness.

A little slideshow in honour of many animals in my life but not all.

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1st Writing Challenge – Owning a Chihuahua

I am not a writer but like many people I have aspirations.  I’m off to sign up at the Weekly Post.  I changed my mind about writing every day – have to leave some time  for my art too.

1st story

Dali

Owning a Chihuahua

Last year we decided to get a dog, after waiting for 3 years since our cat of 18 years had passed away.  My husband had some experience with Chihuahuas and suggested this breed as an answer to my desire for a walking and working companion.  It was never my intention to own a small dog – or any dog while living in a big city.  Here I am, almost a year in, owning the most adorable Chi there is.  Dali is my constant companion, my art dog and my personal trainer.  In fact I had better get her outside soon or risk much naughtiness from my darling.  I see her out of the corner of my eye, wandering from room to room in quest of some activity.  Best we hit the park for dog stimulation and calorie burning for us both.

We are back.  It is a cool rainy October day and Chihuahuas tend to dislike this kind of weather.  My Chi also dislikes outfits.  When I got my coat and shoes out she was very excited and came over.  Seeing the sweater made her run into the kitchen with a hang-dog look.  After a bit of cajoling,  the sweater was on and off we went.  We left the park for an urban walk as the grass was too wet and cold for her liking.  The temperature wasn’t too cold so I relented and took off the coat.  In the end she was very dirty and wet.   Her feet tend to splash mud and grit up her belly and sides.  We were out for an hour but she really didn’t get much exercise.  No other dogs were out to play with.  She ran after the ball a bit but mostly she wanted to go home.  When we got home she had to have a bath.

For many years I lived in the country and over time we had a few big dogs – Border Collies, mixed breeds and a Doberman.    We even had some medium-sized dogs – Schipperkes, a Rat Terrier, and Schnauzers .  Most of these dogs had abundant freedom and were great companions when farm work or horseback riding was the activity.  Along with dogs we had many cats.  Cats are a great pet in the country and the city except where there are lots of Coyotes.   My Doberman was my last dog and the city was no place for her.  As I work in the city, I got a cat a few years later and then another.  They were great companions but were locked into the apartment and balcony experience.

I don’t want to give the impression that Dali isn’t up for lots of activity.  She loves her walks and plays many games, including her racing around the apartment like a small greyhound.  This past spring and summer was her 1st and she learned so much about her environment, people and other dogs. We visited family in the country and she reveled in the freedom, exploring and playing with her pal Adam.

Adam & Dal - Spring 2011

In the city she has pals in the park and at my art teacher job north of the city.  She travels well and is quite good about doing her business before a car trip or just afterwards.  In the car, she stays in her dog crate .  The crate is where she sleeps at night and where she will go to nap when I am working.  The crate was originally for my cats and it has been a great investment.  Dali is about 9 lbs and although lighter than the cats, when she’s snuggling in her blanket she fills the carrier nicely.

Now after her bath and a nice lunch she is pressed against my back on my chair, sleeping.    Lucky for me this old chair has a long seat.  I didn’t mention it before but as I type, my budgerigar named Bow,  is sitting on my knee preening and chirping.  The budgies are free-flighted and that means they have the free reign of the back 3 rooms, flying where they want, which includes my studio.

to be continued …