Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Good Stuff

A little bit of this:

Followed by a little bit of this:

That's right, folks, I'm hitting the road again. Except this time, I'm flying.

It's hard to drive to Hawaii.

My mother and I are going to Honolulu for a week, then it's back to Reno for a few days at Mom's house, and possibly a little skiing (if my poor battered immune system can handle it by then, but I'm sure a few days in Hawaii will perk me right back up again).

This handy MacBook (ah, glorious computer, how I loooooooove you) might make it possible for me to check in from time to time, and I'll be back in time to wish you a Happy Valentine's Day, but in the meantime, let me be the first to wish you the best and happiest of Groundhog Days.* It's my favorite day of the year. I'll be three times eleven.

Before I go, let me share with you two of my favoritest Internet discoveries of the week:

Goodreads, thanks to Jeannine of art*play*possibility, one of the nicest people I've met in Virginia. You can list the books you've read, are reading, or want to read; review books; look at other people's reading lists; and so on. It feels much more personal and less snarky than Amazon reviews can be. So far, it doesn't seem to have a "since you liked this, you might like that" recommendation system or a "neighbors" feature (like last.fm does), but I'm still quite pleased to be part of it.

Notes From the Universe, thanks to the marvelous iHanna. I've received two notes so far and I think they're pretty darn cool.

Also, before I wrap this up, I'd like to give a birthday shout-out to Corey of Tongue in Cheek Antiques, whose birthday is only two days after mine. If you've never been to her blog, go, go go. Corey is someone who really knows how to live. I hope it's a beautiful day for you, Corey.

All right, time for me to go tie up loose pre-vacation ends, like paying bills, and head out for a pre-birthday dinner with my husband. As always, I am wishing you my very best

* Groundhog Day is my father's favorite movie. He watches it every February 2nd, possibly before he even calls to wish me happy birthday, but I don't mind, because I have to admit that Punxutawney Phil IS pretty charming.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

They Make It Look Effortless

They make it look like a movie.

I wasn't even really paying attention. It was just on because, well, that's what was on TV. I just happened to glance up as they began skating. I know next to nothing about figure skating, and I feel pretty proud of myself if I can make it around an ice rink once without falling. So I can't begin to comment on any technical merit, but I am so glad I looked up just in time to watch Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto perform tonight at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Amazing. I'd never heard of them before an hour ago, but I don't think I'll forget them soon. Wow. Wow, wow, wow.

Table Therapy

You may remember my starry table tutorial from a long ways back...

Star Table Wide

I am honored to discover that my beloved table has inspired others, one of which was featured today on Apartment Therapy's ohdeedoh blog. Isn't it beautiful?

Still Mapping, and Soon, Exploring

It's been a whirlwind two months around here, and I'm about to head off into the tropics to celebrate my birthday with some hands-on exploring of Hawaii (surely island travel falls under the category of business research, too?), but before I go, I thought you'd like to see what I've been doing around here. My latest paintings:

Realm of Good Cheer Map (Full)

Realm of Good Cheer, 8" x 10", (reproduction)

(This original has been sold, but reproductions are available in the Interimaginational Institute Shop. These others are all originals and available; reproductions of some will also be available when I return from my travels.)

City of Marvelopolis (and vicinity) Map

5" x 7", ink and watercolor on paper

Fortune Isle Treasure Map (knockout)

Fortune Isle Treasure Map, 8 1/2" x 11 1/4", ink on wood

Tall Ship No. 1

Tall Ship No. 1, 2.5" x 3.5", ink and watercolor on paper

And a special map just in time for Valentine's Day:

Realm of Love Map (Full)

Realm of Love,
5" x 7", ink and watercolor on paper

(This is actually one of two love-themed maps - I have yet to scan the second, which I like even more, but I'll share it when I do.)

Happy Travels, all.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My Kind of Business Trip, or "Is This Tax-Deductible?"

What we did with a few hours to spare:

VA Aquarium - Turtle Says Hello
Made new friends...

VA Aquarium - JellyFish
...studied other lifeforms...

VA Aquarium - School of Fish
...got studied by other lifeforms...

VA Aquarium - Old Turtle
...made another new friend...

VA Aquarium - Shark
...avoided making some other friends, but did become nodding acquaintances...

VA Aquarium - Octopus
...and conducted artistic research. (The business part of a lovely cross-town trip.)

Oh, and learned how to work the video part of the digital camera. Maybe I'll figure out how to edit it next, and share that, cause there's something special about an octopus moving. A bit creepy, a bit endearing.

What a great way to spend time we didn't know we would have.

(Just for the record, all of these shots were taken without a flash in less-than-ideal lighting conditions. Not bad for a little Canon PowerShot (A550). That first one's a bit blurry, but how could I resist sharing that facial expression?)

Saturday, January 19, 2008


... isn't my favorite word, although I couldn't say why. It seems a little creepy to me.

But what other word do you use to describe this map of Europe in 1870, and others in the same style? I've always liked maps like this.

The thesaurus offers "hominine" as an alternative, but who's ever heard that word before?

Whatever word you pick to say what the map is physically, I say it's also clever, impressive, and funny in spite of its subject matter, and made even more enjoyable by the blogger's interpretation (the whole blog is terrific, actually).

Found via a comment here, which in turn, was found via Google Alert.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Monday, January 14, 2008

Just a Month Before Valentine's Day...

One of the most romantic stories I've ever heard began to unfold this weekend in the south of France (in truth, of course, it began to unfold long ago, but it all started to come together with momentum on Friday). If you are looking for something to take your breath away, visit Corey Amaro's blog, Tongue in Cheek Antiques. Start here:

Blogger Turned Matchmaker

and follow the Typepad links at the top of the page to get to the next entries.

Never before have I paid so much attention to the lives of people I don't know, or waited anxiously for someone to write a new blog entry with such nervous, happy, joyous delight. I feel so lucky to have been a witness of sorts.

The Belle of the Ball

French Toast Girl has a watercolor posted on her latest blog entry that is just beautiful. Go see...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Mapping the Imagination, Among Other Things

If I hadn't just started a new job, you can bet I'd be in the car, on the way to Chicago to see the "Festival of Maps," a citywide exhibition that includes everything from some of J.R.R. Tolkien's maps of Middle-earth to the map Charles Lindbergh carried on his historic flight across the Atlantic to a 1920-ish "Ancient Mappe of Fairyland"* by Bernard Sleigh. It looks like I have mighty big shoes to fill. In fact, it is one of the great pleasures of this occupation, finding kindred spirits who have paved a path for me to explore. And another great joy is that each of us has a different world of the imaginary to map.

Read more about the festival here. Yes, I desperately wish I could go.

And now, I've just discovered, via Google Alert, this exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum:
Mapping the Imagination: This display includes maps made to inform or to entertain, maps enhanced by imaginative embellishments, maps that show imaginary places, and works in which artists have adapted map iconography to express their ideas and experiences of place.
Right up my alley, wouldn't you agree? At least it's not so painful to miss this one, since it's not as if I could hop in the car and drive on over to London. Someday, perhaps, someday. Some day, I'll have a little amphibious, solar-powered car with a galley, to boot, and London will be just a short drive away. In the meantime, if you're there, feel free to go on my behalf.

(Incidentally, this exhibit looks of particular interest to Etsyians, as well.)


With many thanks to the almost-anonymous Dean who left a comment below, I can now start planning a visit -- or dare I dream -- visits to the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, sometime between March and June, to see that same exhibit currently at the Field Museum in Chicago. And it seems the city of Baltimore is planning a Festival of Maps in conjunction with the event. I'm so excited -- how could I not have known this? -- that I'm sitting perfectly still, lest I jump out of my skin and scare the cats (and trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, to breathe slowly). That, my friends, is very excited.

Friday, January 04, 2008

I Always Dream in Color.

And I think in color, too. I think in color and texture and temperature and, often, in musical notes, even though I am only an occasional musician. How do you think and dream?

Pantone has named a Color of the Year - Blue Iris - and French Toast Girl has asked her readers to choose their own Color of the Year. I think Blue Iris is an absolutely lovely color, soothing and rich and calming. It's serene, but it isn't a wimp by any means.

I might be content to leave it at that, but my belief is that this year will be full of movement and concentration, hard work and strength, and a certain kind of focused discipline, like that needed by dancers or athletes or concert pianists. Sometimes you're bruised or aching or exhausted, and you want to stay in bed all day, but you get up and get back to work. I don't expect that it will be the most relaxing or easiest of years, but I will live with my choices as richly and as fully as possible. So I have in mind that Residence Inn commercial with the trapeze artist:

My hope is that the hard work on my plate this year will pay off and I will be able to soar joyfully some day in the not-so-very-distant future. (Figuratively, not literally, although if Cirque du Soleil called me up and offered curtain-flying lessons, all bets are off.)

And so I choose that rich, full red of the drapes for my own color of 2008. (For the record, it seems to be Pantone 186.)

Now, what's YOUR choice for color of the year?