Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Diva Challenge #275 - Give Peace a Chance

Welcome, Gentle Readers,

There are places on earth with higher violent death by gun rates than the United States: Swaziland, Iraq, much of Central America and Mexico. Of about 35 developed countries around the world that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States ranks 3rd in gun violence related deaths, with Chile and Mexico topping its numbers, and Israel close behind.  Japan is VERY low, due to its very tough gun control laws.  Additionally, Japan's overall violent death rate by any cause is very low compared to the U.S.  Also low are a number of countries in Western Europe that are classified as social democracies.  I'll not comment on that - you Dear Readers can draw your own conclusions.

The OECD published statistics about a number of societal factors in their member countries.  These included crime rates, perceptions of government corruption, and various economic factors.  The gun violence rate was highest, in order, in Chile, Mexico, United States and Israel.  Interestingly - and a sad commentary - is that economic inequality is also highest in those same four member countries.  They rank, in order, as Chile, Mexico, Israel and the United States.  What does that say about a possible cause and effect?  Perhaps when people feel economically powerless and they have access to guns, they start shooting.  I think it is not only that they lack money, because there are many places where people live with much less money and possessions.  The connecting factor may have something to do with seeing a few people at the top of the heap with such unimaginable riches and then realizing that you will never have a life like theirs.  Or perhaps, in a more sinister scenario, those at the top want to make sure those at the bottom have all the access to guns they want - "let them kill each other".  That distracts the public from what the top tier are up to.  "What a world, what a world..." 

As we approach the Republican and Democratic conventions this month, we cannot help but remember the events of 1968.  Racial inequality was a major issue then, just as it is today.  Black lives DO matter - as do Blue lives.  When we see videos of police appearing to shoot black people seemingly without cause, we are shocked and appalled.  But when we understand how frightening a confrontation with an armed suspect is for a police officer, we can see the situation in another way.  Police brutality against blacks and other minorities is unacceptable, but so is deliberate targeting of white officers by blacks in retaliation.  I don't understand those who believe the shooter of those officers was some kind of hero.  I don't understand rejoicing when a black person is acquitted even though the evidence that he committed a brutal crime is overwhelming.  But then, I'm not black, so I cannot see through someone else's eyes.  Of course, many people of all races don't understand how people can be pleased when a white person gets away with all kinds of corrupt behavior.  But I'm from Chicago, and old enough to remember the race riots right in my grandparents' neighborhood and at the Democratic convention in 1968.  Because black people wanted to buy a home "west of Ashland Avenue", because police brutality was rampant, because the government had no solutions. 

This year, the Democratic Convention is to be held in Philadelphia, "The City of Brotherly Love", which also experienced riots in 1968.  Our weekly guest Diva Challenge host is Suzanne Fluhr, a tangler and blogger (of a certain age) from Philadelphia.  She has been moved to offer us a challenge to Give Peace a Chance.  She references John Lennon, who composed the song by that name, and then was himself gunned down.  So much sadness.  Suzanne has asked us to reference that theme of peace in  our entries.  I have chosen to follow Suzanne's lead and use tangles that begin with the letters P.E.A.C.E.  I used my own tangle, Paris, a reference to the horrendous terrorist attack that occurred there. I used Eye-Wa, which has such strong black/white contrast. I used Suzanne's tangle, Aloha.  Wikipedia states "Aloha in the Hawaiian language means affection, peace, compassion, and mercy." That seems very relevant to me.  I used Cruffle because of its yin-yang design, reminding us that every force has its opposite.  Finally, I used Eddyper because somehow it reminds me of peace lilies.  I chose not to soften the design with shading, but rather to leave the black and white to speak for themselves.  This tile is a personal reminder to me that we must not ignore violence and hatred, but must work TOGETHER to make all our lives matter.


I have done a few other tangle works over the past couple weeks.  Part of why I have not been so active on the boards and challenges is that I have been playing around with calligraphy and dipping my toe into journaling with fountain pen and water color.  Getting the right pens, ink, etc., and facing that blank page with fear of "messing up" is a challenge in itself.  Maybe sometime I will post some of those efforts here, but for now, it's for my eyes only.  Additionally, my dearest and I have been dealing with some medical issues.  We have, thankfully, been able to rule out life threatening circumstances, and now are left with "inconvenient" realities.  We age, life changes, and we treasure each day together.

Here is what I have managed to complete in my Zentangle journey.

Eni Oken's Quandu, paired with Rixty.  Doesn't Quandu look like its cousin, Quib?

Watercolor wash laid on the tile first, then ink and graphite

Another watercolor wash with added splatters
So, Dear Readers, that is all I have for now.  Pray for peace.  Love each other and open your mind to the way your neighbor, co-worker, boss or employee sees the world.  Each of us stands in our place with the entire world beneath us and the entire universe above.  But each of us has a different reference point to the earth and the universe.  Let us always remember and respect that.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

"NMeshed - A New Tangle; Sip and Tangle Party, Shading Zentangle Groovy, and Diva Challenge #272

Welcome Gentle Readers,

After a coupla-three weeks off, I am back with more things to share with you. 

First, I have been working on a new tangle, and I thought it was time to share.  I very much love 'NZepple and the relaxing process of drawing it.  I also really love tangles drawn in the Ogee grid.  One of my formerly released tangles is Fichy, which uses that grid.  It seems inspiration comes from all directions for new tangles, and this one took a round-about route.

On June 10, Ragged Ray posted a WONDERFUL tile for a C-Wing focus.  I commented that it reminded me of those stretchy party décor streamer thingies that I have always loved.

C-Wing by Ragged Ray
Then I started thinking about those mesh bags you get with some delicate kinds of produce.  Whenever I get those, I have this little regret about throwing them out because they are just so nice, and fun to play with too!   (I lead a dull life, OK?) 
Right about this time, Facebook challenges started popping up that used the Ogee grid or I managed to tuck the focus tangle into that grid.  Here is a little scrap paper play with Rundl.  I drew shapes into some of the grid openings a la 'NZepple, and thought, "Hey, this might be a new tangle!!"
I started this tile a few days ago, but somehow it got set aside and I never finished the shading I wanted to do.  Now I can't find it.  Oh well, it will turn up.


I saw another Facebook focus using the pattern Groovy.  That one starts with the Ogee grid, so I just combined my new baby with the Groovy for this tile.

So, without further ado, here is my new tangle 'NMESHED.  Once you get the hang of the Ogee grid (takes a bit of practice), the rest is easy.  Just trace the spaces as you would for "NZepple and have fun playing with the shapes.  I'm kind of stuck on the wrapped in string look since it reminds me of those delicious Italian cheeses that hang in the shops.  Mmmm... see, I told you EVERYTHING reminds me of food.

Remember back when we had our big "DO"  party with all the wine?  I posted a photo of some tiles I prepared for a Sip and Tangle party with a wine glass dipped in Cabernet and swiped with Moscato.  A friend hosted a birthday party for her friend Ellie and we used those prepared tiles.  I also made up some cardstock templates of 2" paper cubes and taught several tangles and had them tangle each side with one (or two).  Here is what my girlies (all beginners!) did with them. Aren't they fabulous?  I think they had fun!

Birthday girl Ellie in the center with our host Donna next to her


Finally, here is my response to the latest Diva challenge.  I love this one - the BWR color scheme is one I have in my home (actually cream and black and red...) and it just seems comfortable to me.  Here is what I came up with:


So, Gentle Readers, that is all I have for now.  The summer travel season is here, so our efforts to escape the heat may mean I won't manage a post every week (what's new, lately??)  I will definitely have my Zentangle tools with me and maybe even have the strength to document our getaways.  I really want to pursue a journal habit, but so far the blank page of a permanent book is more intimidating than a little square tile.  We'll see!

Thank you for stopping by today and know that I cherish all your thoughts and comments. 


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Diva Challenge #268 Bit-O-Black - and SQ1 Fugu - with SKYE and a Story, and Yew-Dee Shading

Gentle Readers,

This week I will be brief!  I have a party coming up, and if you want to know what kind, witness the fruits of our quick wine run! :-)

Also, I spent the morning cooking up the custard for Gabrielle Hamilton's amazing brown sugar ice cream.  Last time I made it, people were practically licking out the container.  So good!  I have shopping, patio and lawn furniture washing and cooking left to do before Saturday afternoon, so not a lot of time for tangling. 

The latest buzz on the Zentangle boards is Margaret Bremner's new tangle SKYE.  It is not the easiest to draw - requires focus!  But every Bremner tangle involves strong blacks, so perfect for this week.  Also, I was getting it ready for Eni Oken's Shading Zentangle FB page when I saw the Diva Challenge.


OK, here is the STORY/CONFESSION time for this tile...  I was working on adding Fugu to the SKYE pattern I had drawn.  Fugu is the feature tangle for the SQ1 FB page.  I had practiced SKYE enough that I could put it on a "real" tile, and then was adding Fugu around and underneath it.  Oddly, it has quite a bit in common - shapewise - with Margaret Bremner's other recent tangle, Pixioze, so I thought it would work well.  Ah, relaxing Zentangle...until I fall asleep and the pen shoots across the tile leaving a very big "opportunity".  CONFESSION:  I decided, fie on the rules, it is my tile and I will just fix that little slip with a white gel pen just like Whiteout back in the old typewriter days!  So I did, and was reasonably satisfied with that.  I continued to work on the tile, and then realized, "hey, it's Monday!  Diva Challenge!" I had just been thinking that my tile needed some bold black and maybe the structure of a border treatment. 

Serendipity!  I decided the side of my tile would look great with a black fill.  I also decided my penance for disregarding the "no mistakes" rule was to add the black side-shot line back in and proceed from that point.  I didn't even finish filling in the Fugu shape as I had started.  This is my Amish Quilt mistake moment. 

So, here is my Bit-O-Black "opportunity"!

Last week the Shading Zentangle focus was Yew-Dee.  I gazed admiringly at what others were posting on Facebook, but just couldn't get my groove, as it were.  Finally, I was fooling around in the sketchbook and hit on something I liked.  I had fun shading both the individual elements and the bigger form.

So, Dear Readers, that is it for this week.  Thank you for stopping by and know that I cherish all your thoughts and comments.  If I am not completely undone by the festivities this weekend ;-), I will report back next week...


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Diva Challenge #276 Duotangle (really #267, but more about that...), SQ1 Batumber-Hollyhock and A Bit of Color

Welcome Gentle Readers,

I got my Diva Challenge tile finished on Monday, but have been fooling around all week trying to complete a couple other focus challenges.  Bust...  When the inspiration dries up and you have other things going on (good stuff, really!), you end the week with not much to show. 

Just a bit of local color to start:

This is what you get when you throw in a $1.59 pack of seeds into a pot.

Marigolds started from seeds from last year's blooms

Aloe, Vinca and Hibiscus are all happy in this moderate weather.  We'll see what survives the coming inferno.

Speaking of color:

I have an upcoming "Sip and Tangle" type party at a friend's home, and thought I would pre-string some tiles for the guests.  Cabernet takes center stage, but I used a bit of Moscato to add an "optional" additional line.  I'm anxious to see how these turn out!

DIVA CHALLENGE #276 (I say it is #267 since last week was #266, but who am I?) DUOTANGLE POKEROOT AND DRUPE

I have been fooling around with my watercolors and managed to come up with this.  I am pleased, and now motivated to look into a watercolor class.  I have avoided them because I'm not a landscape girl, but maybe...


I had just been playing around with the newly published Hollyhock by Jason Lau when the focus on Square One came up with Batumber.  I think they must be related!

More stuff...


I saw the tangle Fluxogee by Hanny Waldburger, and gave it a try.  I wouldn't say this is totally perfected - the shading could be better - but I had fun, so here it is, folks!

So, Dear Readers, that's it for this week - late again, but mostly because I was procrastinating. Thank you for stopping by and know that I cherish all your thoughts and comments.


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Diva Challenge #266 Crux, Kaleidoscopic Color, 14 Shades of Gray and Ellish...or Allish?

Gentle Readers,

I appreciate your patience in waiting for my post - it seems I'm moving ever farther past Thursday to now...Saturday!  I guess I get so involved with the tangling that I don't stop to record and organize.  I must admit, that is one of my lifelong challenges.  I used to HATE when the powers-that-be at work asked us to keep track of everything we do.  That takes way longer than the doing!  Thank goodness those days are gone.

Before I forget, Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful, loving, supportive, challenged, overwhelmed, affectionate but frazzled, totally human (and even the non-human!) mothers out there!  May all your progeny shower you with every accolade on your special day.  My own mother departed so very many years ago, just four days after her 30th birthday, and I never had the opportunity to share a Mother's Day with her.  I still love you, Mommy!

On to this week's "Zentanglish" musings:


Last week I promised to work in some color.  I have been playing around with new watercolors and trying out various papers, stretching techniques, brushes, washes, etc.  This is all new to me - I haven't really used watercolor since I painted them into my childhood coloring book pages.  So much to learn!  When I started working with the featured tangle Crux, I thought from the start that it cried out for color.  Somehow the crystalline forms reminded me of what I saw peering through the opening of those little Kaleidoscopes I loved as a child.

I applied the color sparingly in this case, but added lots of black to simulate that feeling of the dark hole in the tube with the colored light shining through. 


On the other end of the color spectrum, I received my 14 Shades of Gray kit from the supremely talented Sonya Yencer and Jenny Peruzzi.  This kit describes a method of taking your featured tangle from black and white to a misty gray on your tile.  It is such a lovely transition and way to soften the look of a bold tangle.  I have lots more to learn through practice and inspiration from other 14-Shaders, but here are my two contributions to the mix.




I tried the new official tangle Ellish, but it kept going its own way, turning into an "A".  One of the FB group commenters said "I love your Allish!", so that is what I will call it.

Allish on a Ring

Allish with Ruutz

So, Dear Readers, thank you for stopping by today.  Have a beautiful Mother's Day weekend and enjoy your families.  Know that I cherish all your thoughts and comments and would love to hear from you.


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Diva Challenge #265 Stripes, SQ1 Snails, 14 Shades and Kitchen Gadgets Galore

Gentle Readers,

This post is hitting the air late, but I didn't want to skip altogether again.  I had fun this week, and want to record it all!

First up -

KITCHEN GADGETS - I am the gadget queen!

Over the past year or so, I have been updating my storehouse of kitchen wares.  Amazon LOVES me!  I started by necessity - my trusty Cuisinart food processor circa 1987 jammed.  The chopping blade is stuck in place and will not come off.  I have tried soaking, robo-grip plyers, steam, running it with water in it, etc.  As (bad)luck would have it, I had just purchased a series of new slicing and grating blades to the tune of over $100.  The motor is as strong as ever, but now it is pretty useless, as I don't feel comfortable with cleaning it without being to disassemble it.  So - I bought a new machine that fits the blades I just bought.  It is good, but I must say I agree with all the web commenters who advised if the old one still works, hang on to it!  Oh well, the new one works for me.

Next, I received a new Vitamix blender from my loving (and food loving) hubby!  What a wonderful piece of equipment.  Did I mention that both the New Cuisinart and the Vitamix are a lovely cherry red color!  My favorite kitchen accent in my black and white space.  Nice!

Up next, I bought an accessory kit for my other trusty friend, my 1987 Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  This kit has food mill, grinder and sausage making tools.  My husband was VERY anxious for me to fire those babies up!

Finally, I bought a stove-top pressure cooker.  I haven't had one of those since my grandma's exploded and spewed spaghetti sauce all over the ceiling.  My heart still pounds whenever I think of that day!  It literally blew a hole in the top of the pot and the metal lodged in the ceiling like shrapnel!  Yikes!

So...this week I finally pulled all the ingredients together, unfroze the casings and bought two pork shoulder roasts. 

Not wanting to waste any of that goodness, I trimmed and cut the meat, saving the excess fat to make fresh rendered lard and cracklings.  The lard is in a jar in the fridge now and the cracklings are salted and just waiting to be baked into cornbread.  So decadent and yummy!  I left a bit of meat on the bones I cut out of the meat and roasted them in the oven until nice and brown.  Then I put them along with a little olive oil, garlic and San Marzano tomatoes and other chopped canned tomatoes into the new pressure cooker.  In 40 minutes, (plus cool down time) I had the spaghetti sauce we always called "red gravy" that used to take half the day to make!  I had already pulled out my hand cranked pasta machine (another fun gadget)  a few days earlier and made fresh linguini, so we were set for a feast.  It was...

Now, on to the most important thing.  I ground all the meat twice, and reserved about two pounds for Swedish Potatis Skorv - potato sausage.  I have never eaten that before, but the Mister has been clamoring for it for some time.  I boiled and ground potatoes, ground a couple big onions (if you think SLICING onions makes you cry, try GRINDING them right in front of your face!)  I mixed that all up with spices I would never think of for meat - allspice, nutmeg, mace, sugar, and let that rest a while in the fridge.  I stuffed it into the casings - a project not for the weak-hearted.  A number of online commenters said they had problems with the food pusher that came with the grinder when it came time to stuff the casings.  Being a gadget queen, I dove into the cabinet and pulled out the black pusher that came with my new Vitamix.  PERFECT FIT!  It worked much better than the vilified white plastic Kitchen Aid pusher, and saved the day! Once the Swedish sausage was formed into links, I put a few into a container of salted water to hold them, per the online tips I found.  The rest went into freezer bags immediately.  The next day, I boiled the refrigerated links in some chicken broth, then sautéed them briefly in butter - again following online instructions - and WHAT A TREAT!  I was an honorary Swede for a day!

The Italian sausage was very basic and done the way we did it at home years ago.  Mix the meat with salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, fennel seed and some water.  I had about eight pounds of meat for that, so it all went into a big bowl in the fridge to marinate over night.  We have only eaten a tiny sample of that so far, but it was delicious.  I am more confident about that, as I know what to expect.  It all went into freezer bags awaiting future mealtimes.  I have a party coming up and some will be cut into little chunks for appetizers.  Can't beat that!

So now that I have bored most of you to tears - unless you share my obsession - it's time to move on to the more artistic pursuits...


I was anticipating receipt of my 14 Shades of Gray kit when this challenge came out, so I decided to warm up the graphite in alternate stripes.  Here is my tile with  Paris, 3D-Room and OVY alternated with Printemps, Hibred, Zenith and I don't remember the name of the leafy on down the center.  No prizes here, but it was relaxing and fun.

Snails is a tangle that I just discovered a couple weeks ago when I was reviewing my Zenthology files from CZT training.  I have been playing around with it a bit and think it is pretty cool.  However, when I tried to feature it in a tile, I just couldn't get anything interesting to happen.  Then I pulled out the sketchbook and just started making spirals in a very relaxed and loose way.  I used my whole arm and went fairly quickly.  That's it!  I know snails are supposed to be slow, but this one was bookin'!
Here is one of the tiles I did a few days before with Snail in it as a "just because" tile.  I also really love the fill for Quandary (which I stole from the Zentangle Primer book...don't tell anyone...)
Here is my first crack at this technique.  I went "by the book" and followed Sonya Yencer's excellent instructions for Jetties.  I am anxious to try it out on other tangles.
So, Dear Readers, that is all I have this week.  Next week I hope to add a bit more color, but this week it seemed "meet and right so to do" to keep it black and white (and gray).
Thank you for stopping by, and know that I cherish all your thoughts and comments!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Antiquities, Diva Challenge #263 Globular Grid, SQ1 Cruze

Gentle Readers,

Antiquities have been in my musings this week for a variety of unrelated reasons.  These thoughts seemed to gel into an ongoing pattern yesterday when I saw two things.  One, was a posting on the Facebook page Shading Zentangle.  It was from Terry Landeck-Cardinal, and showed a beautiful tile that looked like an ancient stone with Zentangle runes carved into it.  I hope you can see it from this link, as it is stunning.
I was so taken with that piece, and of course, now must pull out the watercolors and try this technique...I digress...already...

The second was an article I read online about recent speculation that Scriptures may have been written centuries earlier than previously thought.  Not that the stories are older, but that the writing down of what had been preserved by oral tradition happened sooner than scholars thought.  They based these new theories on what are basically grocery lists!  Apparently, they found lists issued by supply masters in early armies outlining what they requested for the troops' needs.  Two jars of olive oil, flour, and most importantly :-), how many jugs of wine they required.  (more about wine later in this post - surprise!)   The researchers were impressed by the fact that these normal military guys - not elite scholars - were fully literate, indicating that written education must have been widespread at the time, somewhere around 600BC.

I have been exploring some larger ZIA work on 11x14 sheets of parchment.  This one has a few swashes of gouache in colors straight out of the tube, which I thought had an old-world look to it.  When I finished, I just kept thinking it reminded me of some Colonial era manuscript.

I enjoyed playing around and learning a bit about the properties of the paper, color and ink together.  I still have much to learn about all these materials that are new to me.  The paper is so very nice to draw on with ink.  Everything looks so delicate.  The wrinkles frustrated me, but I actually think it adds to that look of antiquity.  So be it.

I also have been fascinated lately with old maps.  The mapmakers included delightful images of animals (LOVE the whale!) and ships in their work, along with delicate coloring that hinted at the landscape.  Here is a detail from one old map of North America.  I learned a new word here, which is "Septentrionalis".  It denotes a northern area that is largely unexplored.  Conversely, "Meridionalis" similarly refers to a southern region.  Just a couple more things to add to what my daughters refer to as my vast treasure trove of useless information!

This brings me to the Diva Challenge this week, which employs a globe grid. 
I did my first attempt at this challenge on one of the hotel coasters I brought back from my last trip.  It is slightly smaller than a Zendala tile, but it was at hand and I was too lazy to leave my comfortable chair and retrieve the official materials.  Here you can see the size comparison.
I found this an opportunity to try out some of the "Reticula and Fragment" concepts I have been reading about in the new Zentangle Primer book.  Once again, I learned as much about the materials as anything.  Coasters do just what they are designed to do - drink up liquids!  They are nice to draw on, but have an extra pen handy!
Here is a large image of that first tile.  I used black and brown micron and graphite for shading.  I love the concept that if you fill in the fragments in different directions, you get a new metapattern.  It also was weird to squeeze some of the fragments into the distorted reticula formed by the globe.  This was fun!

The second tile brings me back to that antiquity theme.  I have been wanting to do some more wine themed ZIA pieces, and I have a little book of quotes about wine.  When I saw this quote: "Wine has drowned more men than the sea", I just kept thinking about those antique maps with the little images of ships.  Imagine one with a wine colored sea and little sailors drowning in it!
Instead, I did my grid with blue and green micron pens on a Renaissance Zendala tile.  Some of the fragments shown in the Zentangle Primer book reminded me of ships, so I went with that idea and created a fragment of my own. It is actually based on one featured in the center of the tile shown above.  I just kept them all going the same direction here.  I tried to add more Nautical type fragments - crashing waves and ship's wood paneling. What I like about this one is the sort of carved wood effect that the shading and highlighting gives these fragments. 
SQUARE ONE FOCUS - CRUZE  It was a short Cruze, but they had a fantastic pastry chef!
Once again, I end up with something that reminds me of food.  I started this tile thinking of ways to enhance the pattern with shading and rounding, embellish it with border treatments, provide some visual contrast.  Instead, I just ended up sooooo tempted to draw in a fork! 
So, Gentle Readers, thank you for stopping by today.  I hope you enjoyed my ramblings and perhaps will begin to see inspiration for your work in equally random sources!  Know that I cherish all your thoughts and comments.