Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween Costumes, and a Poem

My dad and a friend, about 1940, dressed for Halloween

I found this photo this past summer in a plastic tub full of miscellaneous items I cleaned out of  Mother's apartment when she passed away a few years ago.  I always meant to get back into those stored items, but never did until I needed the tub for storage.  I adore this picture with the homemade pirate costumes.  It looks to me like it was taken at Millard Elementary School, where I also went to grades 1-4.  What I failed to notice before is that there is snow on the ground.  I wonder how many times I had a fun costume, usually something Mom sewed, and had to go out in a winter jacket? 

My husband and I went out today and got a few accessories for our costumes.  I have various skirts, blouses, shawls, boots and so on that can be assembled into gypsies, witches, or historical characters.  I indulged in a store-bought witch's hat I like, and think later I'll see how I can mix and match to make this year look a little different than other years.

We also indulged in another fresh quart of cider, pumpkin doughnuts, and a couple of pumpkins to carve later on.  I am such a sucker for Halloween...

Hey, Ma, Something’s under My Bed
by Joan Horton

I hear it at night
when I turn out the light.
It’s that creature who’s under my bed.
He won’t go away.
He’s determined to stay.
But I wish he would beat it, instead.

I told him to go,
but he shook his head no.
He was worse than an unwelcome quest.
I gave him a nudge,
but he still wouldn’t budge.
It was hard to get rid of the pest.

So I fired one hundred
round cannon balls plundered
from pirate ships sailing the seas.
But he caught them barehanded
and quickly grandstanded
by juggling them nice as you please.

The creature was slick.
He was clever and quick.
This called for a drastic maneuver.
So I lifted my spread
and charged under the bed
with the roar of my mother’s new Hoover.

But he snorted his nose
and sucked in the long hose,
the canister, cord, and the plug,
and vacuumed in dust  
till I thought he would bust
then he blew it all over the rug.

Now this made me sore,
so I cried, “This is war!”
and sent in a contingent of fleas,
an army of ants
dressed in camouflage pants
followed closely by big killer bees.
But he welcomed them in
With a sly, crafty grin,
And he ate them with crackers and cheese.

I screamed, “That’s enough!”
It was time to get tough.
“You asked for it, Creature,” I said,
as I picked up and threw,
with an aim sure and true,
my gym sneaker under the bed.

With each whiff of the sneaker
the creature grew weaker.
He staggered out gasping for air.
He coughed and he sneezed
and collapsed with a wheeze
and accuse me of not playing fair.

Then holding his nose
with his twelve hairy toes,
the creature curled into a ball,
and rolled ’cross the floor
smashing right through the door.
I was rid of him once and for all.

The very next night
when I turned out the light
and was ready to lay down my head,
I heard my kid brother
cry our to my mother,
“Hey, Ma, something’s under my bed.”

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dane Co. Farmers Market

I love living close to Madison, with its many cultural opportunities, the university, restaurants, and the Dane County Farmers Market.  I was horrified last week to realize I hadn't visited the market all summer, so we decided to go this past Saturday.  I was a little sad because I have giving up sugar and flour in a effort to shed pounds gained this past summer, so that meant no cherry or apricot bars from my favorite bakery vendor.  But the fresh vegetables and people watching made up for that loss.

This view is from the steps of the capital building, and you can see not only part of the market, which surrounds the capital, but Lake Mendota in the background.

There's always lots going on along with the market, especially buskers like this one, and political activists looking to hand out pamphlets or solicit signatures.

Don't want to buy food?  There are always plants and cut flowers available.

There were lots of pumpkins, traditional jack-o-lantern types, white ones, and these warty ones. 

I'm not sure what these women were celebrating, but their bouquets of balloons typify the cheerful atmosphere found at the market.  I'm grateful to have had such a lovely day to soak up the atmosphere.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Spooky Moon Dance

6x6 inches, paper collage

I finally went upstairs to the studio and finished this submission for the current Illustration Friday challenge: Spooky  It has been ages since I completed a challenge of any sort, and I thought if I was going to get this done before Halloween I had better get off my backside.
I was inspired by a design I saw in a restaurant created by punching out sections of metal, and I thought I could do something similar using wee bits of paper.  I had visions of a series until I actually completed this guy.  The little snips of paper are very small indeed, and were difficult to position.  Originally it was just the skeleton on the dark background, but I wanted more color, so I planned the moon.  Yellow was too close to the light snippets that outline the figure, so I settled on blue to spark up the design.

Now I can't get Van Morrison's Moondance out of my mind....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Good News

I'm posting this photo I took at the Lincoln-Tallman restorations here in Janesville because I haven't painted anything I like well enough to share, and the little collage I started isn't finished.  The truth is that I took this photo last October.  At the time I didn't notice the single leaf framed in the window, which only goes to show that there is good luck in the world.

I was pleased yesterday to learn that my watercolor of a salmon was accepted in the Watercolor Wisconsin show at the Charles A. Wustum Museum of Fine Arts in Racine.  I like that painting very much.  However my painting of two lemons was not accepted, so tomorrow I have to drive to Racine to collect it.

I'm hoping that my new planned route will avoid all the road construction I encountered on my last trip there, and also that I can have enough time to do some family history research in Muskego.  It's clear to me that I have been spoiled by my local library with its excellent collection and technology that almost never lets me down.  I wrote to two small community libraries asking about newspapers on microfilm, since I'm looking for old obituaries.  One of them has a limited collection on microfilm due to a fire, and no microfilm reader at all.  The other has the actual newspapers going back to 1942, "not indexed in any way."  I'm not getting my hopes too high here in the research department.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Back in the Saddle and Then Fell Off

OK, I have not worked in my studio in four or five weeks.  I've gone to art shows,  and I've thought about it, but either it was so hat I couldn't face time in that little room, or I had other things to do and places to go.  I worked ages on an computerized family tree.  Blah, blah, blah.  So today I decided to sit down and play with a monotype image of a musician friend, working on masa paper.  I had high hopes - then after I applied the base, the colors, dampened the paper and rubbed to lift the image, I tore the paper.  I repaired it for this posting with the magic of Photoshop, but it was not a good thing.  So, having nothing to lose, I went back in with watercolor and black in and a brush.

Looks like I got back in the saddle and then fell in the dust.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Peak Experience

Yesterday I drove to Racine to the Wustum art museum to drop off a couple watercolors for their Watercolor Wisconsin show.  We shall see if they are accepted or not.  There is a whole lot of road construction between Janesville and Racine, and in the city as well.  I got royally lost, and ended stopping at a gas station to buy a map of Racine. I had Google driving directions, but that didn't help me with all the detours I encountered.

Anyway, the drive both was as made fine by the autumn landscape - fields of corn and soybeans being harvested,  and the colors of the hardwood trees along the way.  I thought it was time for another poem.

from the 2010 Wisconsin Poets Calendar, 
by Katrin Talbot

It's the time of year
even with the crisp taps
of chilly nights,

the balding maples seem to be,
reluctant to relinquish
their dazzling threads,

holding onto their armfuls
of gold
like greedy bankers
who know the
market's going down,
one slow dance
at a time.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Indian Summer on the Upper Mississippi

Indian Summer has arrived here in southern Wisconsin, warm sunny days after the first frost.  The days are pleasant, and the nights are cool and bug free - heaven.  The colors here in Rock County are starting to peak, the trees gaudy in russets, oranges, and shades of gold.  We had a little trip this week on the Mississippi River, an alternative to our usual drive up the River Road from Prairie du Chien to Lake Pepin.  This time we saw the scenery from the middle of the river.

Dick booked us on an excursion boat called the Celebration Belle. We left from Dubuque, went up river sixty or so miles to Prairie du Chien, stayed overnight in a motel, then returned the next day. There was good food on the boat, and live music all the way, but the real reason to go is to see the river, the bluffs, the trees, and the bald eagles.

 The Mississippi was a flood stage, since heavy rains about a week ago.  At Dubuque many docks were under water, same with riverside parks and some cottages.
 This is lock and dam 11 near Dubuque.  The gates are all open, since the river is at flood stage.  The boat still goes through the lock since otherwise the current would be too swift to control the boat.

 This is one of the three captains on the excursion boat.  The pilots house was open, and we could go in, watch, ask questions, and get a good look at their navigational equipment.

 There weren't many pleasure craft out, since the current was so swift, and there was so much debris in the water, though we did see a couple canoeists.

 The trip went past some little villages, like Specht's Ferry, Cameron, and Guttenburg, Iowa. 

 Freight trains run all along both sides of the river, and when they sound their horns it echoes off the water and the limestone bluffs.

 There were a couple dozen tow boats with barges on the upper Mississippi, but this is the only one we saw.

What we mostly saw was blue sky, wide expanses of water, flooded islands, and at least a dozen bald eagles.  It was relaxing, lovely and a good way to celebrate autumn.