Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween @ Battle Rock

This year- Halloween fell on Wednesday,the day I teach art at Battle Rock Charter School. The cottonwoods along McElmo creek are in blazing yellow and the foliage below them in brilliant orange, set against the red sandstone of the canyon walls and the blue, blue sky- it was an awe inspiring drive.

Once at the school, I was met by superheros, and faires, monsters and princesses, in all shapes and sizes as school across the country were host too.

What is a little different about Battle Rock is it is just few miles from the Utah border and the Navajo Reservation- so we had a few unique spooks- including a very scary Navajo Grandmother- in a raggedy broom skirt and scarf complete with turquoise jewelery.

But once she was done scaring everyone- she gave us all a extra special treat- Fry Bread- yum! Pretty much at every festival or function around these parts, you can find a stand of Navajo ladies, stirring up dough and than slapping out a disc of flour and water- which is fried in a skillet of lard.

Cousin to the sophapia or funnel cake- fried bread is best eaten in the first few minutes of its creation and is yummy with a little honey,powder sugar or for the base of a Navajo Taco with all the fixings!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

IF...Trick or Treat?

I confess- this is "Re-illustrating"- kind of like regifting- but I wont have time to get to a new illustration done and since Halloween is like my least favorite holiday- check out my Oct. 2006 archive to know why- if your curious, I guess I am not very motivated. This one, from last year works well- the theme around Halloween was "Ghost"- i.e. no feet-
So have a blessed "All Saints Day" and enjoy the harvest- the light and views in my corner of the West are amazing right now- I was driving out near the border of Utah/Colorado yesterday, early in the morning and I actually thought I was witnessing a UFO- no joke- the sun was behind me, just coming up and there was like lights in the sky- like those square rows of lights at the baseball field. It would move around and then they all would turn off for a second and then turn back on- I actually slowed down trying to figure out what it was. What is was- was a flock of white birds with grey underbellies flying in formation. The sun was casting light off their backs and not when they turned their underbellies towards the sun, they disappeared from sight.
Such things are why I love the Fall- the changes in the light, the air, the trees and the animals.
But alas I am an illustrator, a teacher and a mother- I ain't getting away from Halloween- so here is my offering!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Another history of a word...Nepotism

Thanks again to Wikipedia- here is an interesting "history of word"- Nepotism is a word that was created around the practice of Roman Catholic Popes appointing their nephews as Cardinals. Since they were celibate and had no children, a nephew was the the closest thing to family they had and I guess family pressure existed back there to get relatives in the "biz". You can read more about it at----

Nepotism is still alive and well in politics and Hollywood. Ever wonder why a motion picture has like fifteen assistant producers? Nephews, nieces, cousins- the more things change the more they stay the same!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

"You can tell a man by the size of his kitchen."

This past spring we did a weekend trip to Saint George, Utah, one of the first Mormon settlements in Utah.Right after the Civil War-Brigham Young picked this spot for its mild climate and directed the Saints to plant cotton, harvest silkworms and yes-grow vineyards- to make wine- to sell to the near by miners and use as a tithe to fund the building of a small temple and tabernacle.
Young also picked Saint George as one of his seasonal homes and today you can tour the pretty little Desert Victorian house on the corner lot, surrounded by pecan trees and grape vines, where Harriet Amelia Folsom Young,one of his few wives that did not have children, would usually spend the winter.
When Young purchased the house he added a fine entryway.The craftsmen ship is amazing-with faux painted pine- the only wood they had- turned into the finest grained oak set against the finest furniture and art. While there Young would oversee the churches affair, receiving visitors either in the front parlor or in his bedroom- a massive room with high ceilings to accommodate a canopy bed,with a sitting area next to a tall desk.
But I think you can tell a man by the size of his kitchen and to tell you the truth I was not impressed by the size of Brigham Young's kitchen. After taking the tour through the house and hearing of the entertaining the Young's did in this little house- I was expecting a spacious kitchen with lots of places to work and room to move- well it wasn't that- it was cramped and small. Granted-a hired girl did the cooking for the Young's and who knows what the kitchen looked like really- before it became a museum- but it made me start thinking and realize you can tell a lot about a man by the size of his kitchen. Take for instance- my great grandfather James Jenson.
Jame's parents emigrated from Denmark and settle in Freeborn county Minnesota, where my great grandfather and all his brother and sister were born. I don't know much about his younger days, but I do know when the rest of his family decide to migrate west to Montana- James decide to stay- because he had his eye on a young Danish girl, Christine- who had just come from Denmark with her family and was too young to marry-So James waited- and when she was of age- he married her and started a farm. At first they lived in a shack. Christine, pregnant and with little ones to watch - cooked in a tent- providing meals for the men working the fields. Coming to James, she told him she didn't have a platter big enough to server the breakfast meats and eggs on. James returned from town, that day, with a large pretty platter asking her if it would do. The platter is still passed around our families table today with stories of our grandfather James and how crazy he was for our great grandmother. Also proved by their thirteen children- in a time that when you were done having kids-you stopped- well....
Eventually he built Christine a proper kitchen- spacious with nooks and drawers for her cooking things- next to a fine dining room full of wood and a beautiful archway where she hung large paper bells each Christmas- near the staircase to the top floor where my grandmother remembers seeing her father sitting and crying- when his youngest son, barely two, died of dehydration.
Later in their life, my great grandmother,waking in her sleep,fell down those stairs and James would let no one else carry her back up and to her bed.
I have stories of my other great and great great grandfathers- stories of how important they thought they were and how they liked to rule over their households-but I have never heard those stories about my great grandfather James. Yup, you can tell a man by the size of his kitchen.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

IF-"Open Air"

The only way to see the amazing island of Maui is in an "open air" Jeep!