Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Greatest gift....

Here in the depth of winter snow
thoughts come, leaving footprints
SCATTERED everywhere, no direction....
Where's the shovel?
This is DEEP.

The older I get, the more I realize
the less I know
and frantically, as the clock ticks
I try to shovel in the knowledge--
to fill in that bottomless pit, where
for every shovelfull I throw in
TWO disappear.

THIS, I do know,
and will NOT forget.
The most important thing
is NOT
what you have.
who you know...
is NOT..
WHAT you know...
It is who you love, and
who loves YOU.

Despite all faults
despite unsightlyness,
despite annoying habits
despite that thing
(whatever it is)
that everyone WISHES TO HELL
you wouldn't do...
you are loved, anyway.

That is the BEST GIFT.

If there is someone who you
love, treasure, adore
appreciate,or whose existence you
Let them know.
Today, while they
and you
are here on earth.

Say it
sing it
write it
paint it
wrap it up
send it
deliver it
GIVE it.


EVERY day is a holiday!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tossed and Found

I am neverendingly astounded at the logic of the mainstream conciousness of this country, and much of this world. It is commonplace, NORMAL to deliberately create things that will not last or worse, that will become "outdated" in a very short time. We have an economy that is based on cheap crap that breaks, and huge corporations hire executives to convince us that we cannot live without these things. Our lives will be so much faster, easier, more efficient. We will be more comfortable, happier, COOLER, safer, healthier, better looking, classier, and we will have more fun, not to mention be the envy of all our friends if we would just BUY the latest cheap crap gizmo.
Along with this "economy" comes a mountain of burden placed on the planet (and ultimately US, not that we want to LOOK at that part of the equation) in the form of pollution created in the making of these products, the mining that is required for some of their parts (such as Urainium for cell phones) the by-product waste that occurs in manufacturing, and finally the waste of the discarded products themselves.
What is the plan for all of this waste? Unfortunately, there usually isn't one. A lot of stuff comes into existance and no one knows what to do with it. I recently had a conversation with someone who was SO proud of the fact that in the city she lived in, there was a facility where people could drop off expired medications so that they wouldn't be dumped into the water system. Well, in theory, that's wonderful, but me being ME, I said "what do they do with them when they are turned in?" She got a bit huffy and said "They are DESTROYED", OF COURSE!" I said that I felt that was a rather vague answer, and I wanted to know HOW they were destroyed. Burned? Buried? Broken down in water, and then......? Which brings us back to the beginning of the circle. There is no good way to get rid of so many of these things.
In my mind, I see the future-world much like it appears in the movie "Idiocracy", a post consumer nightmare landscape, built from mountains of trash. Cities either teeter dangerously on the heaps, or lie sprawled in the shadowy valleys of trash that threatens to avalanche and bury them. Handbags, shoes,clothing, computers and all of their components, cars-which are made with an alarming amount of plastic, not to mention one-use plastic that practically everything comes in, much of it practically bulletproof and impervious to decay.
With this in mind, I have dedicated myself to making art from discarded materials as much as I possibly can. I refuse to purchase any more canvas, when perfectly good plywood from construction goes to waste every day. I try to repurpose things that have been thrown away into beautiful useful, ARTful things. I try not to purchase things that come in one use only, disposable packaging, and when I purchase things online, I ask in the notes to seller that the item NOT be shipped with non recyclable packing materials such as packing peanuts and bubble wrap. I ask for crushed newspaper instead, and a surprising number of shippers comply.
I have ceased purchasing plastic bags for food storage, and I reuse grocery sacks whenever possible, except that these are often made DELIBERATELY with holes in the bottom. It's part of the design, for no good reason I can see. I found large tote bags at the dump that work wonderfully for hauling groceriesand when the last of the plastic sacks are gone, I will not use them anymore.
Nothing pleases me more than to find a way to problem solve by repurposing something that has been thrown away. I've been wanting to try to learn to knit, but have been unable to, due to lack of knitting needles. I kept hoping some would show up at the dump. I found a couple of bags of yarn, but no needles. Then I remembered that, in my sculpture studio (my former home, the recycled school bus) I had some long metal pegs that had come from the drawers of a card catalogue. KNITTING NEEDLES! They are not only perfectly functional as knitting needles, but they also have an attractive steampunk air about them.
As the cheap-crap economy has crashed, recession (or some say a depression) crushes much of the nation, we have begun to find that we CAN live without the latest cheap crap trinket. As in the Great Depression, more and more, people are beginning to rediscover the art of tinkering--cobbling useful things together with things that were no longer useful in their original capacity. The term "hobo" has made a comeback. If only we can encourage and spread this new way of thinking, and not go back to our disposable ways if, and when the economy turns around On that note: buy local. Buy handmade--support an artist or craftsperson. Don't buy cheap crap. Find a way around it. If you can't afford to buy from a craftsperson, make it yourself, out of something discarded. Fix it. Patch it. Paint it.
Breathe new life into something discarded and use it, and it will breathe life into YOU. Into all of us. The earth thanks you. I thank you.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dangerous Things

I am a fearful person, more and moreso, the older I get. Hermitage is becoming more comfortable to me, while direct contact with the public is not. It has nothing to do with germs or fear of crowds. It is more of a ever-narrowing selectiveness of who I want to spend time with, as time becomes more precious to me in ways that it never was before.

Such as now.... the sensible thing would be to go to bed. But since when have I ever been the one to do the sensible thing? I often spit in the face of the sensible thing on sheer principle. Being sensible lacks adventure, and is mostly boring. I don't want to go to bed. I want the night all to myself, when I can imagine that most everyone on this little island is tucked into bed (or passed out on a couch) while I am wide awake; tonights moon and gusty wind are MINE.

Now about those fears..... I am not afraid of the dark, except where it concerns not being able to see, and possibly tripping on something. I'm not really afraid of FALLING, per se, just that big crash that happens at the end of it. The falling part is fine, especially when you're talking about love, at which, by the way, I have been very LUCKY.....

Without realizing it, I recently began to paint about my fears. I saw a vision of a specific painting in my head and set about trying to create it, as is how most of my work comes about. I went through my designated sculpture metal scrap heaps, as well as the metal dumpster at the exchange, and picked out things that seemed to belong in the painting I had seen in my head. Next, I began a quest for spraypaint--scrap spray paint which would be thrown out. I am fairly adament about using discarded items for my art materials. Next, I miraculously scored some plywood, and away I went, working entirely from instinct. When I had mostly finished two pieces, I realized that all of the "sillouetted" elements in the painting represented Dangerous Things, and I decided that was to be the name of the series. Taking it a step further, I realized that the piece was the result of my brain waxing poetic about my many fears.

We are often attracted to (and even LOVE) the things that can hurt or even kill us, literally and/or figuratively. All of the elements in the paintings represented metaphors for my deepest fears. I will leave it for you to decide what the elements represent, but keep in mind that you might be seeing your own fears, and not mine. Some of the answers are obvious, while others are not.

O.O Hmmm.......Do you smell smoke... ?

Friday, August 28, 2009

To see my online portfolio...

go to I will be updating soon....

New Directions......

Since my last post, I have left Bell Street Gallery and have created a tent show gallery across the street at Tom's Burned Down Cafe. Depending on the weather, I am sometimes set up under a tent out front, and if "the weather sucks", I will be in the bar in the stage area just to the left of the bar.
Since I am somewhat of a folk artist and my work is pretty far outside the mainstream box, I felt that making a home for my art at Tom's Burned Down Cafe was a perfect fit for me. Tommy has generously provided me with space, a tent and whatever else I needed to make it work. THANKS, Tom!!!
There will be other artists joining me in the "three ring circus" tent show off and on, as they are able, and we are making plans already for next years shenanagins. Be prepared for anything, because that's what you'll get! The tent show, like Tom's Burned Down Cafe, is a work in progress and will undoubtedly never reach a state of full completion. We are all about spur-of-the-moment changes, especially "when the weather sucks".
If you see art and/or jewelry under my tent that you like, don't be afraid to haggle. This is a gypsy/hobo operation--I expect haggling. I might be willing to work out a deal if you are purchasing more than one item, if you are a collector of my work, or I'm having a slow day. But beware:I might raise or lower my prices at whim from day to day, so if you want something but decide to "think about it", don't be surprised if you come back and it's sold or repriced, or I'M gone altogether for the day~~ "Now you see it, now you don't". I might "untag" my items some days and throw the pricetags in a jar, and have you draw a price from it. In any case, I feel my prices are always reasonable. I want my art to be available to anyone who wants to purchase it--not just people who have plenty of money.
The name of this show is "Tossed and Found". Much of my art is made from found natural and discarded items. I like to recycle/reuse/repurpose as much as possible. Many of my jewelry pieces are made from things I find in the lake or on the beachs, on the roads and in parking lots on the island. Some of the doo-dads I make jewelry out of, I don't even know what they ARE, but I have a penchant for tinkering, combining odd elements together to create interesting designs. I NEVER make more than ONE of anything except, obviously my greeting cards, prints or photographs. Jewelry is all one of a kind, and I don't always make reproductions of all of my artwork. Sometimes it sells before I can even get a picture of it!
Be sure to check out my photo booths: the MadiLisa, Scream!, and the Burned Down Gothic. For a dollar, you can take a picture with your camera and create a picture postcard to send all your family and friends. "Having a great time on Madeline Island. Too bad you're NOT." "Missed the ferry. AGAIN!!!" "Help! I'm being held hostage at Tom's Burned Down Cafe! Please send cash (before happy hour) for my safe return!"
Cheers!!! See you at the gypsy/hobo tent show!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Writing out loud.....

If talking to yourself is "thinking out loud", as my father used to call it, then what is blogging? I call it "writing out loud". Considering that my blog is called "Louder than words", it seems appropriate.
Lately, I seem to have all but abandoned my visual art--it has been a struggle to paint, make jewelry, or even to tinker with my sculptures. I've done very little in my studio in the past few months. But I HAVE been writing.
I used to feel guilty whenever I hit what seemed to be a creative slump. However, in later years, I began to notice that I seem to have multiple creative 'personalities", each with it's own inherant interest, and they can only come out to play one at a time. I noticed that when it had been weeks since I had painting, it meant that my mind was busy conjuring something else up: a song, a poem or story. Standup comedy routines, even. It's always something. If I lived to be 1000, I could still never chase down all the ideas I have and bring them into being. In a sense, writing is easy compared to painting or sculpting. It doesn't seem so BLIND. I just get out of the way and type whatever shows up. Painting is not like that. I used to actually get SCARED to continue--a kind of stage fright, in a way-- thinking "WHAT IF I SCREW IT UP? WHAT IF I HATE IT?"
Later in life, I started to learn how to "get out of the way" when I'm painting, or sculpting, too. It's just PLAYING, really. It figures itself out, just like games kids make up as they go along. Kids just keep making up rules until the game WORKS. They never worry that it WON'T work. They never stop the game and wonder if they could have done it better.
I try not to, either.

Here is a piece I wrote after a monumentally BAD DAY....


the day started
as warm flannel
fresh from the dryer

But then, suddenly, it was
a hinge, LOUDLY squawking in protest
the bang of a door slamming shut
the stench of an overflowing ashtray.....

I was a rusty jagged sawblade
the prickliest of scratchy sweaters
the last cold swallow
of yesterdays bad coffee

You were a kettle, burning
on the stove
a thousand bee stings
an eternity stuck in traffic
And later, the dinging sound
of a car door left open

Sleep changed the channel

Today I am lukewarm dishwater
I am one tiny red tennis shoe
on the side of the road
I am a shiny penny
on a dirty restroom floor

Before the day is over, I hope to be
a sliver of white moon on smooth water
truffle chocolate
and a goose down pillow

I hope you will be
a train that's right on time
apple pie and ice cream
everything in working order
your favorite song
on the radio

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The ceremony of Piemaking

I make pie. I mean, from SCRATCH, completely. I don't use anything from a can, or frozen crust. In the fall after Halloween, I buy the poor lonely rejected pumpkins that didn't get chosen for jack o'lanterns, and I give their lives meaning by turning them into pie.

If you've never cut up a pumpkin, it takes about as much effort as cutting down a tree with an ax. Seriously--I know, because I've done BOTH. A SHARP, long thin serated blade works best, but no matter how good your knife is, plan on spending some TIME at it. It doesn't get done quickly, I don't care WHO you are.

I like to save the seeds and soak them overnight in salt water and then bake them on a cookie sheet. Test the salt water to make sure you haven't overdone it before you add the seeds. It needn't be BRINE, just a little salty. Bake them till they are beginning to turn brown, so they are a bit crispy. Pumpkin seeds are VERY good for you--Extremely high in vitamin E and lecithin.

After I have mutilated the pumpkin and cut it into chunks, I put the chunks into a zip lock bag and add the seasonings and shake it up so they get evenly coated.

I do the same thing with apples--I peel and core them (which, though I have a coring took, it still takes forever to peel enough for a pie or two) and then season and sugar them with the ziplock bag trick. At this point, I generally throw the bag into the freezer and leave it there until I am ready to make the pie. The freezing actually helps to soften the apples or pumpkin a bit so they don't require as much cooking.

The crust recipe is essentially my mothers, but I have modified it a bit, as I do with all recipes. I can't seem to help myself, I just have to make a recipe my own. (Actually my favorite way to cook is to not follow ANY recipe, and just throw things together and WING IT!) I have a wonderful rolling pin and a crust "cutting" tool--for mixing the flour butter or shortening into the flour. It makes all the difference in the world. Good utinsels are important in cooking and baking. If you don't believe me, try making meringue with a simple whisk and elbow grease! UGH!!! Pie making requires a lot of time no matter how you do it, and without the right tools, it can be downright exhausting! I recently made two apple pies, and from apple prep to full bake time took SIX HOURS. (That doesn't count clean up, either!)

On that note, always prewash your utinsels right away, before you wash them or run them through the dishwasher. It just gets them extra clean, and saves a lot of goop from going in your regular wash water.

Making a pie is almost a spiritual ceremony to me. My pies are an intention, a gift to someone--for a special occasion, for a special thank you, congratulations, or just to say I love you. They are made with intention and care and love--a ritual of expression. I never bake when I am sad or angry---I believe it can ruin a pie, or a loaf of bread. The best pies are made with the all the love for those who will enjoy it baked right in.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The magic hoop

WHEW! This winter has been a difficult one for me, in both body and spirit. I have been fighting "demons" from both without and within, trying to stay present in this world in the capacity I have been blessed with up till now. Perhaps it is just "cabin fever", but I have been a prisoner in my own head lately....
I began making real changes in my life habits several years ago, beginning with retiring from my 33 year career as a professional smoker. I quit cold turkey on April fools day in 2005, and have not had a puff since. I can honestly say it was one of the most grueling, yet satisfying tasks I have ever accomplished. Since then, I have done everything I can to help those around me who want to quit, when they want help. This too, has been fulfilling, and helped a great deal to keep me on track; when I saw what others went through in their own struggle, it reaffirmed that I didn't want to repeat my own!
Now I have begun to examine my food choices (which are admittedly, not always the healthiest) and move in a direction that involves a bit less saturated fat, salt and sugar, to be replaced by more fruit and vegetables. Making this gastronomically appealing has been challenging to say the least. It's difficult if not almost impossible to make tofu seem as sumptuous as a cheeseburger and fries....... but I'm working on it. I have been implimenting some taste sensations that were formerly abscent from my palate: hot, spicy sauces, more onions, horseradish, and garlic, and recently, I have discovered the joy of curry. Weeeeeehooooooo!
In addition to my food overhaul, I have been snowshoeing, as I mentioned in my last blog. I replaced my 25 year old tried and true snowshoes with ones nearly identical (and almost extinct in the retail arena) and have been happily hitting the trails.
A couple of weeks ago, after I came back from the trails, I dragged out my giant hula hoop from it's "storage" spot where it leaned against the house. I had to bash some ice from it first, but then I rolled it out into the road in front of my house, where I had a one woman hoopfest for over an hour. I had forgotten how good hooping makes my body, mind and spirit feel. I wear headphones while I'm out there, and I dance while I hoop, whirling around clockwise and counterclockwise and swooping my arms, in a kind of grouse-like dance. A friend of mine from Red Cliff commented on my "good hoopdancing", and I was very honored. I always assumed I look like a total dork but it's fun, so I don't care.
Now, my favorite time of day is just before sunset, when I go out to the road to hoop. I watch the sunset (and this week, moonrise-at the same time!), dance and even take pictures! Just to up the ante, I hoop-walk up and down the road, which works even more muscles. Some people swear by yoga (which I also want to try) but I can't imagine anything that feels as good or is more fun than hooping. There is just something magical about that hoop revolving around my body.....
I have two hoops: one is 5'5 --as wide as I am tall, and weighs about 7 lbs. My other one is smaller--about 3'5, and weighs mabye a pound, if that. The big one was the one I learned on. I had never hooped before, so my body was not familiar with the motion. It reminded me of when I was learning to ride a bike or waterski--i was SURE something must be wrong with me, because I JUST COULDN'T GET IT!!! But then one day I tried this big hoop which seemed suddenly easy by comparison and I couldnt' get enough of it. I discovered over time that the big one is like lifting weights with your torso. It tones EVERYTHING from the chest down. I could even feel it in my FEET. I got smaller very quickly that summer! The smaller hoop requires a much faster movement, and is a good cardio workout, thus burning calories like an incinerator! Between the two of them, I hope to be in MUCH better shape by spring!
Aside from that, I'm painting like mad, as usual, and I've been making a little jewelry. I'll be posting some pieces here when I get the photos taken.....

Happy days to all~~ Diane Marie

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

In the Woods

I have been snowshoeing every day, and have been amazed at how different things are from day to day in the woods. The snow changes with the temperature and humitidy, and some days my snowshoes make a lot of noise, and some days I can barely hear a sound (except my pounding heart). The light is always different, some days there is a weak sun peeking through--like yesterday--some days it is blindingly bright, and I need sunglasses, which fog or even FROST over. The sky is as blue as anything you can imagine on those days--like that elusive shade of beach glass we all look for, but almost never find. On far too many days for my comfort, there are grey skies, which do nothing good for my energy or mood, but often bring fresh snow.

Every day, there are stories, written in the snow. A woodpecker hammers away at a dead poplar, leaving a pile of sawdust at the base that makes me look up in search of the mess-maker. In February, the Piliated woodpecker begins to drum on these trees, trying to attract a mate. The sound is a loud and distinctive drumming sound, in a variety of pitches, depending on the tree, and it can be heard for MILES.

Tracks are fun to look for, obviously, and there are lots to be seen. In powder, they aren't all that distinctive, so it's hard sometimes to tell whose trail I'm meeting. Mostly it's deer, squirrels and mice--field mice and jumpers, which leave very different trails. I usually run across a weasel trail as well--fantastic HUNTERS of mice!

Lately, I have seen the tracks of what might be snowshoe rabbits (or perhaps fishers.) We generally don't HAVE rabbits here BECAUSE of the fishers, but I have seen a couple of them over the years.

I often see the trail of the coyote whose territory this is. He was my dog's boyfriend for years--he often sang to her under the window in the moonlight, and I call him "Romeote". The first time he came, he sang on the front steps of the bus where we lived--he, on one side of the door glass, and she on the other!

Yesterday, I took one of my trails I hadn't been on in a few days; it had snowed since then. Twice, Romeote's trail crossed my previous tracks, and both times he MARKED the spot with urine, just as he had when my dog was alive, and hitting the trails with me! She always looked for those spots, and marked them in return, when she found them. I was pleased to see he had greeted me. It helped me to feel she still makes the rounds with me in spirit.