This is the place where I round up a corral chock-full of mixed media art, vintage collections, digital escapades, and some occasionally snarky observations about life with junk, books, rescue dogs and nearly-grown children.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Summer Garden

Mrs. Puff, my senior Chihuahua foster dog, knows it's important to take time to smell the blossoms.
It's been hot, hot, hot here in The Woodlands, TX, but the other day I took a break from pulling weeds to take some photos in my garden.

These are "SOOC" photos--straight-out-of-the-camera, with only minor cropping.  I've been using a digital camera since late 2005, so I like to tinker with my photos in Photoshop or with Picnik, but the light was great and I took time to adjust my settings as I moved about the garden.

Red variegated banana leaf detail.

We've never had fruit from our bananas, but when we lived in Hawai'i, we enjoyed the tastiest home-grown "apple" bananas ever, from "keikis" (Hawaiian for "child," which meant sideshoots) from a parent plant in Waipahu.

You might think we're in the tropics, but our area received cold temperatures that damaged our bananas, oleanders, palms and citrus.  The fan palm seedlings are from some palms along our fence.  We have so manay seedlings that I have to yank them up like weeds.

Our hibiscus froze to the ground but have rebounded.

I bought a packet of zinnia seeds at the grocery store.  We have to spread thick mulch to combat weeds (it doesn't work that well, actually) so we only had about four zinnias mature into adult plants.  They have loads of pretty button-shaped blooms, although the plants are woody and sprawl onto the patio concrete.

And now, here are some more SOOC photos from our summer vacation trip to Washington, D.C.  These were shot at Mount Vernon, George Washington's home.

Butterfly on a zinnia.

Crepe myrtle; Mount Vernon.  BTW, crepe myrtle grows well here in The Woodlands.  And in Waxahachie, TX, there is a "Crepe Myrtle Festival" every June!

Coneflower, an American native, which also can be found in Texas, although our soil is generally too acidic here in The Woodlands.

Boxwood parterre bed at Mount Vernon.  I love shaped garden designs, but lack patience.

So what's going on in your garden as summer winds down?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Things that Hack Me Off

I was looking at Roy Rogers collectibles on eBay today, and found a neat site, "The Pony Pen," which carries all sorts of horse-image postcards.  Some of the seller's offerings are new remakes taken from the original postcards, and that is clearly stated.  I was almost to the end of a 21-page set of postcards, and was planning to order, when I stumbled across this listing:
Click to see it a bit bigger--I apologize for the poor resolution.  My personal computer is at Fry's (that's another thing that hacks me off).  I immediately recognized the Trigger image--I made it.  It's on my Flickr photostream.  Here it is below:

I made the image using a Creative Commons background from the Flickr Textures for Layers Group, and added the Trigger image, carefully cut out and cleaned up in Photoshop--by me--to the layer.  It is the opening image in a set called "Just Trigger," which is an homage to my favorite famous horse.

I will admit that I don't personally own a hard copy of this particular Trigger image.  I found it some years ago on the  Internet in a vintage magazine advertisement offered for sale.  I downloaded the ad.  About a year ago, I cropped out Trigger so I could play with the image.  In the strict sense, I am guilty of copyright infringement.  However, I posted the image as an artwork--a digital collage.  It is not for sale nor have I benefited financially from it.

I realize that anything posted on the Interwebs is fair game.  I realize that entrepreneurial types troll the depths of Flickr looking for high-quality images.  I realize that by posting my images (including my scans of ephemera from my personal collection) that people may "harvest" and sell them.  My scans are part of the free exchange of information that is encouraged by the open nature of the Internet. I try my best to give credit to the owner of any image I use, and I do not sell pieces containing work that doesn't belong to me.

Taking an image from my Flickr stream without notice and selling it without even altering the background is stealing.  The seller/creator of the card bills this item (and there are more than 10 available) as "ROY ROGERS' THE ORIGINAL TRIGGER PALOMINO HORSE POSTCARD; Continental Size Chrome Postcard in NEW MINT CONDITION".  
It's not original. And sticking a new frame and some doodles on it doesn't change that.  Now, had this seller sent me a Flickr email asking to use the image, and explaining that he/she would like to make a postcard of it, I would have been happy to send the cut-out Trigger PNG file (minus the background) to the seller.  I don't mind so much that the seller is marketing the cards for $1.49 each.

What hacks me off that my un-altered image is the basis for the product!

I have written the seller a note via eBay.  I have also printed out the report forms to fax to eBay. I have filled them out and will fax them tomorrow.  It was a matter of time before I came across the inappropriate use of my work on the Internet.  I'm willing to bet this isn't the only instance.  But I won't sit by without alerting the miscreant to the fact that I know what has happened.

The seller's eBay user name is clear570.  The seller's shop is "The Pony Pen."  Please do not buy from this seller.

On another note--and not a happy one--I am hacked off at Fry's.  You know them--the big computer chain store.  My personal computer, an HP Pavilion laptop, has been at our local Fry's since August 10th.  For the third time (yes, you read that right), my video card has messed up the motherboard, and I am awaiting a repair.  Evidently this is a problem with the Pavilion Laptop series. I have a service contract--a good thing--because this is a $400 repair according to folks on the HP forum. I'm using my husband's generic laptop, which doesn't have my Photoshop, printer or scanner programs.

I have already been without my computer for almost 6 weeks this year due to the previous repairs.

This hardware problem has meant that I have become well-acquainted with the geeky staff at the Fry's Service desk.  My buddies include Yuri, Brian and Tina.  Fry's caters to actual computer nerds, so the Service desk people aren't used to working with non-techie people like me.  I have decent computer skills (I've been on computer since 1985--that's another post)--but the way Fry's handles their repairs is so tedious it makes me grind my teeth. Or worse.

Fortunately I have backed everything up.  Yuri talked me through a full-backup in safe mode during a long Saturday night phone call in March.  I did a full disk restore.  So scary.  It didn't solve the problem but it did speed up the second repair since I had already performed the back up/restore.

After the latest freeze-up and screen issues on August 9th, I was able to back up the photos and documents that I had added from the end of March through early August.  I even downloaded brush presets for Photoshop--because I do have skills!  Now, I had to do some of the  backup at Fry's when I checked my Laptop into service repair last week. The girl checking me in wasn't thrilled that it took a half hour to download files onto my portable hard disk before she could put my laptop on a shelf.  That was irritating. But at least I knew Yuri could look into my problem.  He was coming in the next day.  I called him and talked to him last Thursday and he said he'd take over the service request.   But, alas, Yuri, quit this week.  

I talked to Brian today--all the tech guys/gals at Fry's are my close personal buddies, you know.  Brian promised me so sincerely that he is going to speed this one along.  He says they are really short-handed and that there are many computers awaiting diagnosis, along with mine.  But this machine has been there more than 7 days.  We know already it is a repeat of an earlier problem.  My service contract has more than paid for the repairs and Fry's is losing money on this machine.

And now Fry's is going to lose more money because I am telling you:  Do not ever, ever get your computer from Fry's.  They aren't set up for home users.  Use Best Buy--at least the Geek Squad is set up to interact with their customers in an efficient way.  I didn't pick out this particular computer.  My husband and son got it to replace my Sony VAIO in May of 2008.  The unit isn't even that old--and the problem showed up in January 2010.  It makes me want to scream.

The photo in the "iMiss" image is courtesy of HP.  The "iMiss" tag is a clear rip-off from Apple.  The mock-Polaroid frame is courtesy of Picnik.  Just thought you might want to know.

Learn More About The Orange Show

Watch this to learn more about Houston's delightfully unique "Orange Show."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Orange Show

 McKissack created this environment right in suburbia.
Modest homes surround the Orange Show.

If you're in Houston, you need to visit the amazing and astonishing "Orange Show" environment created by the late Jefferson Davis McKissack. Now managed by a foundation and staffed by dedicated volunteers, The Orange Show is a star attraction in East Houston.

 Eye candy abounds at The fabulous Orange Show.

I have been to the site several times--it is a wonderful place to take visitors, truly a gem.  This Sunday, I took my daughter and her girlfriend, after they decided that the Delta Con Gaming Event wasn't worth the $20 entry fee.  We had driven down from The Woodlands to the University of Houston campus, which is only blocks from Munger Street, where the Orange show is located.

 A perfect spot for a fashion shoot!

We braved record-breaking heat to take a quick walk-through.  My daughter wants to go back for more photos when it's cooler.

Jeff McKissack, a mail carrier in Houston, Texas, transformed a small suburban lot near his wood frame house into The Orange Show in honor of his favorite fruit. Between 1956 and 1980, when he died, McKissack used common building materials and recycled junk such as bricks, tiles, fenc
ing, and farm implements to transform his home into an architectural maze of walkways, balconies, arenas and exhibits decorated with mosaics and brightly painted iron figures.—From Wikipedia

 I have one of these metal bucking broncos.
Originally they were ornaments for screen doors or fences.

These are my most recent photos from the Orange Show, but you can visit my Flickr page to view photos that date back to 2006.

I hope you enjoyed this virtual visit to this veritable oasis of art!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Migration of the Plastic Bag

Seen on BoingBoing.  Watch this and take care that you don't contribute to this un-natural migration.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Feelin' Groovy

Yes, she's feelin' groovy.

My birthday was yesterday, and now I'm 51.  Since I was the oldest of two girls, I didn't get the full "Baby Boom" experience, although I qualify as a boomer.  I don't recall when JFK was shot, I didn't know what Woodstock was or who The Beatles were until the early 1970s.  However, I remember that groovy, groovy style, especially as it appeared in book illustrations and on stationary.

 The poems are worse than mediocre, but the illustrations are trippy.

Today's finds include a few bits from my personal collection.  Several of the images come from Hallmark gift books, which were very, very popular in the 1970s.  Hallmark capitalized on the trend toward psychedelic grooviness by utilizing "hip" illustrators.  I found most of these little gems at my local Friends of the Library, in the 10-cent book bins.  Fred Klemushim illustrated the "Tell You That I Love You" Hallmark book, which was published in 1973.  The poems were copyrighted in 1942.  Go figure.

John Overmeyer lent his illustration talents to this upbeat, "give peace a chance" themed tome, published by Hallmark in 1971.

And what could be more groovy than a minstrel playing a flute on the cover of this happening 1970s school textbook, "Making Music Your Own."  I absolutely love this cover.  You can see the back cover on my Flickr page.

Greeting card illustrated by Jane Gilbert.

What time machine to the '70s would omit big-eyed kitties?  Although these aren't the famous Keane sad-eyed strays, the hypnotic, staring eyes of these pop-art Siamese kittens perched in a punch bowl makes men who stare at goats look like amateurs.

Click to see the bigger size to truly appreciate the shagginess.

Don't forget the fashionable carpet of the 1970s!  It's simply shag-alicious--and by Armstrong in 20 "flavors."  This ad was scanned from the July1976 "Reader's Digest".

 Jonathan knew he was different than the other seagulls.

Of course it wasn't all about shag carpets, Watergate and Leisure Suits in the '70s.  We had our best sellers, too.  This is a direct scan of my very own paperback copy of "Jonathan Livingston Seagull."  I read it several times, not a challenge since it's a short book--"a story," as the cover text assures us.
Playing card from the 1970s.  It just seems to say it all, doesn't it?

So have a nice day.  Smile.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

File Cabinet Archeology

My husband is out of town for three weeks, so I'm doing some file-purge work.  I am the pack-rat in the family.  I'm not to the point that I need to audition for that reality show about hoarders, but I have a tendency to save all sorts of things--as a mixed-media artist, I can find a use for just about anything.

 My "office" circa late 2009.
I don't have an official studio, so I store my paperwork, books and much of my art stuff in my "office."  Consequently, my office, as you can see above, is a landscape of bins and piles, framed by bookshelves.  I have a filing cabinet in another  that I have used to corral the overflow, but the contents are mostly mundane--school newsletters, recipes from Family Circle that I will never use, tourist brochures, old schoolwork by the kids, college application work for my son, church projects that failed to launch.  You get the idea.  All that has gone into the recycle bin, and I've freed up almost an entire drawer on a four-drawer cabinet, and I have one more drawer on that cabinet to sort.

Sorting my files has been like a visit to a thrift shop--little surprises pop up among the junk, and I have found some things I had forgotten I had.
Doodle from the bottom of a church council agenda.

Among the keepers I've come across during my sorting are doodles (I used to be a pretty fast sketch-cartoonist) and some vintage stuff--you know, stuff from the 1980s, like the KLOS Radio logo above.

Sketch of my dog, "Cross," circa 2005

 I have found a few things that bring back memories, like this business card from our favorite pre-kids restaurant in Redondo Beach, CA:
I have always been a writer, and I've earned my living with it, so I have research stuff from different companies I've worked for (not in this file cabinet), copies of brochures and newsletters I've penned (for pay and as a volunteer for  non-profit work), not to mention the drafts for three completed novels, bunches of poems and all sorts of notes, short stories, and character sketches.  That's all stashed in two other file cabinets, which are not on the agenda for this set of purges.
My high school graduation gift from my parents was this Smith Corona electric typewriter.
The image is cropped from the instruction booklet, which I found in my filing cabinet!

My goal is to clean up the floor of my office and get rid of old magazines, art supplies/junk that I don't intend to use, and to take an inventory of my incomplete projects and decide which I plan to finish.  We're also working on getting an upstairs "game room" ready to house my daughter's sewing machine.  We're going to be selling some stuff we no longer use--an electronic drum set and an electronic keyboard.  Once this post is up, I plan to set out some boxes for Purple Heart pick up tomorrow morning.  I have two big boxes of books to take to the Friends of the Library.
Remember Dr. Finklestein from Tim Burton's "Nightmare Before Christmas"?
This image is from a plastic bag I had used to hold ticket stubs.

I want my husband to see a noticeable difference in the house when he returns on August 21st.  So this is my way of getting some accountability!