Friday, September 28

Back to the studio . . .

I love calling my work space "the studio," even though I still feel really funny about saying that. BUT, there is a 12' by 28' part of my home that is entirely dedicated to . . . this fun little pastime of mine. Someday, when I clean it up a bit, I may post some pictures of that space.

In the meantime, this is what I've done recently, taking a couple of muses into my STUDIO with me.

I started a journal. I'm not terribly excited about the results I have yet, but I'm doing it, and I'm going back for today's entry just as soon as I post this.I also made these cards.This card was inspired by my grandmother -- the subject of this card -- but the muse comes from e.b., and the collage I took home from her studio during my recent visit.This card was inspired by Rebecca Sower, and the inside sentiment reads: "I carry your heart with me, (I carry it in my heart)" - e.e. cummingsThis one? I guess it's mine.

Happy evening everyone! The moon still looks pretty festive.

Thursday, September 27

Wednesday, September 26

The Bloglandia Ball

edit: Okay, I have to intervene here, and let everyone know right off, that Jack did NOT make the hors d'oeuvres. It was Amanda's husband (whose name I don't know). Jack is very talented, but . . . not so much in the kitchen, ("Talented enough," he just yelled from the family room.)

The Invisibility Dress at the Bloglandia Ball
by Jack Riepe
The lights dimmed in the great hall of the Lightner Museum and the faint strains of music began to compete with the sounds of arriving guests. The rise and fall of laughter mixed with greetings -- old friends coming together face-to-face for the first time -- filtered through the main gallery's ornate doors. The ladies touched and hugged each other, admiring the exquisite gowns that mirrored their perception of art, color and self-expression. It was at once a celebration of the craft . . . And an induction into a special society.
The men grinned and exchanged handshakes. They looked like a convention of secret agents in their tuxedoes.
The Bloglandia Ball was about to cap weeks of planning and last-minute changes to works of art that were as revealing as they were complex. It is fitting that this event was being held in a museum, as many of these gowns would soon hang in a New England art gallery.The wait staff strategically positioned themselves inside the main hall. Each was invisible in a stark black dress and white apron that hinted at Gaulic origins, but faded in a rumor past the hint. The trays of hors d'oeuvres might just as well be levitating in thin air."Perfect," she thought to herself. "Everything is just perfect." It was her plan to view the ball from the outside, before becoming part
of it. To sense it before becoming absorbed by it.She looked down at the tray of canapés on her arm. Each could have been a cloisonné miniature. There were perfect little pancetta ricotta crostini, sculpted sui mai, and culinary delights adorned by edible flowers. Even the napkins in her other hand were filmy pieces of lace, fashioned from the wedding gowns of famous people.

No detail had been overlooked.

The doors opened and the crowd streamed in on a surge of color, paper and fabric designed to bloom in this intimate light. There was e.b. . . . Jill . . . Stephanie . . . Lisa . . . and SPF (Some Pink Flowers) . . . each adorned by a distinctive artistic statement. Boone moved through the crowd wearing pants of his own design -- sort of like "Yellow Submarine meets The Jungle Book."

The music picked up.

"Show time," she said to herself, moving through the crowd behind the tray."Canapé," she'd say over and over again, coming within an ace of touching the legendary names she'd linked to that week. "Hors d'oeuvre," she'd offer, close enough to the sources of light and images she been studying for months. But none saw her in the black guise of service. There was a tricky moment when e.b. reached for a quail's egg decorated to look like the Sistine Chapel. And Boone paused for a moment in the act of scarfing up a dozen gyoza.At ten minutes of ten, she slipped through the kitchen to a pantry. The serving dress was on the floor an instant later, having served its purpose. She slipped into her "Soul of New Mexico" gown, and liberated her hair with a tug on a ripcord that led to her ponytail. The skirt flowed around her hips like the Rio Grande wrapping around an island. The jeweled pattern of her blouse caught the ambient light -- and tickled it.She stepped out into the great hall and heard e.b. squeal . . . "Hey everybody! It's Leslie!"

*** Oh, how fun this has been! Thanks to Jack for DREAMing up the dialogue for this post; thanks to Amanda and her wonderful cooking husband for BEing such sports and letting me post their delicious photos (you can get the recipes for this stuff by visiting their blog, by the way); and thanks to e.b. for inspiring us all to PLAY!***

Monday, September 24

Are you ready?

There's still time all you dressmakers! Head over and see e.b. for all the details.

Wednesday, September 19


The beautiful and talented Michelle Ward throws out a new challenge every month on her Green Pepper Street Team blog. How cool is that? I've never participated before, but this month it's crushes. Crushes? Oh yeah. I've got a fewFirst on my list of obsessions these days is the touching work of Judy Wilkenfeld! If you haven't been there yet, gather up your tissues and head over to this most remarkable of blogs. Her thorough, thoughtful and loving attention to detail in this body of work (Numbers) simply blows me away. Don't hesitate. Go now!I also have a huge crush on the delightful Elizabeth Bunsen and family, having just spent the most wonderful of weekends with them all. This particular bay on Lake Champlain is another place to run, jump, hop if you get the chance.Oh, and antique store finds. I love those! Especially old cigar boxes and vintage tins.And no list of my crushes would be complete without adding this silly dog. I've heard that many women claim their dog would be their boyfriend if he were a man. Gosh, Atticus is a pain in the neck now. Imagine if he could talk!

Tuesday, September 18

Been . . . Dreamt . . . Played

“No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees," said Amelia Earhart.I found this quote in my Foundation for a Better Life e-mail when I returned home from our wonderful visit to Vermont and the gracious arms of elizabeth bunsen and her Be, Dream, Play family. How perfect it felt, as e.b.'s invitation to share the weekend with her clan has opened so many doors, and illuminated so many creative and spiritual horizons. A new and deeper friendship for sure, but perhaps other roots as well.It's so difficult for me to share in words how exquisite our weekend in Vermont was, so I'm going to add my photos to the excellent words penned by my partner (a writer), Jack.Life Among The Artists In Vermont
By Jack Riepe
© Copyright Jack Riepe 2007

The prospect of taking a road trip with Leslie (Stiffie) appeals to me any time. In fact, I had been thinking about a fall ride (top down) along the Blue Ridge Parkway, with visions of a gourmet picnic basket (pate, baguette, exotic fruit, and champagne) on the back seat and a wool blanket tucked around Stiff in the front. The purpose of this trip would be to take in the fall colors, rifle the wares of antique dealers, and skirt certain death on the curves of the Parkway.
Naturally, I jumped when Stiff said, "It's road trip time." The destination, however, would be Vermont and the objective was to view artists in their natural habitat. Those of you who think an artist's habitat includes a huge plastic ball which they run around in are misinformed. We were going to visit Elizabeth Bunsen (the famous e.b.), at her invitation, in a compound on the shores of Lake Champlain.This neck of the woods was far from strange to me, as I lived in Lake Placid (across Champlain in New York's Adirondacks) for 18 years. I was delighted to be heading back at the nicest time of the year when clouds of carnivorous insects had already expired. e.b.'s compound is more of an artist's palette on the edge of the lake, where the blue of the sky blends with that of the water, dotted with bursts of color that are flowers surrounding the two houses. e.b. put us up in the guest house (well, her folks' house), where most of the windows overlook a bay on Lake Champlain. e.b.'s home, which she shares with her husband David, son Boone, dog Luna, cat Byz, and two parakeets, is a cozy nook of art, mysticism, and Vermont woodworking skill. Every corner is home to artwork, books, unusual rocks, flowers, music, stained glass, and crystals.We met e.b. on a country road by the ferry that brought us across the lake. Based on Leslie's buildup and previous description, I expected e.b. to be standing several feet above the ground, and the obvious source of all sunlight and oxygen on the planet. I really didn't know how she would fit in the car. Furthermore, I was convinced I should keep my mouth shut before she realized I was nothing but a snake oil merchant from Jersey City.
She was wearing a flowing skirt that billowed in the breeze, and handed Leslie a bunch of flowers that she had just picked. Literally. e.b. just picked these herself from the garden of somebody's house... A perfect stranger no less. "It's all right," said e.b. "I waved my hand over the spot and new ones instantly sprang up where these were." Despite being 11:30am, e.b. insisted we go to a local winery. This suited me just fine, and I sampled 238 varieties of Vermont wine made from local blueberries, acorns, and plant shoots. It was quite good, and we spent three hours discussing art, philosophy, travel, art, politics, economics, art, cheese, family, and art. On her 27th glass of a vintage called, "No Regrets," e.b. started to confide in us. "There's something I want to tell you," she said, like a conspirator. "It's positively scandalous, and I've never told anyone." I perked up around this point in the conversation. I figured she either had someone buried in the lawn or was about to drop something very juicy. "I want to tell you why I'm in love with the colors I use," she said. What passes for scandal in Vermont is page 39 in the farm news down here.
Shortly thereafter, we met her son and husband. Boone is the prodigy type of kid that calls to mind the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. One of his paintings recently sold for $1,150. The kid's picture is routinely plastered all over the local press. Something he painted apparently healed the sick or lowered the interest rate. e.b.'s husband David is a Vermont Renaissance Man. A master woodworker, his shop holds a collection of wood, ranging from cherry to Spanish cedar, and from American walnut to exotic Asian types. He casually described an exquisite small table he's made of solid curly maple as "something to do." In addition to building most of their house, Dave has an affinity for restoring Mercedes automobiles, and has a Corvair convertible tucked away in a garage. He also knows his way around a kitchen and flips a mean flapjack. I mentioned that I build things too (okay, once, and it turned out screwy), that I fix things (not fix but alter), and that I cook (true).e.b.'s studio is the confluence of color and light, a mixture of art and eastern discipline, and the epicenter of her world. To many artists, the word "studio" is synonymous with "gallery," where art is converted into revenue. I saw e.b. flog revenue out into the street. The studio is where she creates, and helps people understand the creation process. For me the creation process on this trip began with a chorus of "singing bowls," glass vessels played by massaging their rims with a suede wand. e.b. and David have a full range of these and can be persuaded to play them from time to time. There are also Tibetan singing bowls, that are made of metal. I was entranced by the sound and e.b. presented us with one of the Tibetan ones. The wind whipped in off the lake on our final night, and the temperature dropped. David built a fire in the stove. The conversation covered a hundred things, and I was delighted to learn that David is an aficionado of old movies. We ran through our favorites and found many in common. I opened the windows before climbing into bed to let the weather in. The wind ruffled the flag on the pole outside, and the shivering halyards of two dozen sailboats at anchor make the most marvelous wind chimes. I got up two or three times during the night just to listen. At dawn, it was quiet as the wind had dropped. The sight of sailboats in the bay reminded me of another dawn overlooking a similar body of water, in Maine, on the other side of this same New England. In less than an hour, we'd be in the car heading home without disturbing our hosts. I ate in the best places... I met the the best people... And I had the best of times. Yet the image I remember best, is Stiffie's face in the rearview mirror, smile edged with tan, eyes behind her sunglasses, lost in conversation with e.b.
Jack Riepe
West Chester, Pa.*I went down to the dock at sunrise on Sunday morning as the first morning light hinted at pink, but nope. No pink sky. I guess we can all see that the muse was missing from this photo.

Tuesday, September 11

Knock, knock. Who's there?

J and K had their 20-week ultrasound today to check the status of Baby Marsh and to determine the baby's gender. She and J thought everyone might have fun trying to figure it out from the picture below. (The head is to the left and the butt to the right.) So, what do you think?It's a boy!

Oh yeah, I could tell that . . . I could tell.

(I agree with Mary, I think it kind of looks like a puppy - a puppy with wings, and I can definitely see a foot coming in from the left.)

Thursday, September 6

A gathering point . . .

I read that nearly 16 million people flew somewhere over Labor Day weekend, and I was one of them. Experts predicted that it would be a mess, but you couldn't tell it by my flights. I flew from Philadelphia to Springfield, Missouri, on Delta. I was concerned about my mere 35-minute layover in Delta's hub - Atlanta - but still I made it! I suppose that is because my second flight was delayed two hours. And coming home? Both flights on Northwest (through Memphis) arrived early. My favorite airline remains Midwest though. Roomy leather seats and fresh-baked chocolate-chip cookies. Could a traveler ask for more?I flew to southern Missouri for a family reunion. As almost always happens, not everyone could make it, but still, there were 35+ for dinner on Sunday night. We gathered at my aunt and uncle's house outside of Bolivar. They raise dogs on their idyllic farm, and it was a weekend full of puppies and kids. I moved to the Northeast from Nebraska when I was only 19, so I often forget how simple and wonderful life in the Midwest can be. It's good to be reminded.Oh, and SPF, thanks for petting my dogs while I was away!