Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane, co-author Rainy Day Thought, where they write about experiences, ideas, nature, creativity, and culture. The latter might appear at times political, but we will try to avoid partisanship to speak to the broader issues that impact a culture. This is just too important a time not to sometimes speak to problems that impact society. As she and I do, readers will find we often disagree and have for over 50 years-- still able to be close friends. You can do that if you can be agreeable that we share more than not despite the difference.

Diane posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments, relating to the topic, are welcome as it turns an article into a discussion, but must be in English, with no profanity, hate-filled comments, or links (unless pre-approved).

Fantasy, the painting by Diane Widler Wenzel, cropped a little to fit the needs of a banner.





Saturday, November 30, 2019

tribes

by Rain Trueax


"Tribe-- a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader." Dictionary definition
Do you think much about tribes and what they mean? There have been times in history where you belonged to a tribe or you died. Breaking the rules of the tribe could send someone into a solitary life where it was impossible to survive. An example was the Apaches where an unfaithful woman was banished and had her nose cut off in punishment. How do I know about this? -- Research and regressions... Tribes are cultural and not just Native American or African. They also are not just about friendships. It's more about a common purpose, I think.

In today's world, people tend to move around; so communities aren't static tribes; they might think they are with those moving in and out. Tribes might be about careers, but when it is, the tribal connection often ends when the job does. Churches and political parties are the same way-- share the beliefs or you're out the door-- by choice or otherwise. I have not been much of a joiner, but clubs could provide a tribal experience. They require having a common interest, which could last a lifetime like say gardening.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

by Diane: Thanksgiving lasts three weeks for husband's recovery

One shelf is devoted to prepared food for Don to help himself.
 some foods are made fresh daily.
 After  4 day old mock gravy was suspect for causing gas,
I am learning to use post it notes with dates
and then toss out quanities of three day old food. 
My husband was released from the hospital November 11. Up until  last Saturday, November 22, he has been eating liquids and purees in small quantities. Rejecting protein shakes, and can you blame him because he had a willing cook? Early on fixing liquid and pureed food was done with heart and love.
I felt my expression of love was creatively satisfying to me and was healing to my husband.
       
         I was happy to make mini meals.  Like a quarter cup of mashed yams with mini marshmallows, mashed potatoes with mock gravy from homemade broth further flavored with chopped turkey. Even jellied cranberry sauce on the side! Custard or lemon meringue without crust of course.  And ice-cream banana shakes! Shakes with blueberry juice separated from the seeds. Couldn't beat the convenience of classic Campbell's chicken noodle soup! Also made homemade soups like potato or chicken soup. Then he wanted more texture in his food. Maybe too soon!
Some of my appliances include a Magic Bullet best for soups and shakes, a Black and Decker Handy Chopper
and Instant Pot to make broth and cook meat until tender

        Just as my Husband was eating a little more, I made a mistake that caused us both a bout of gas and could be a possible cause of his poor sleep Monday night. (Yes, I eat his left overs because my appliances to work properly make more food than he can eat.) From now on I will not serve left over sauce, just freshly made. I will make sure that canned soups and vegetables are cooked not just warmed in the microwave.  Yesterday working with the turkey, I cleaned up with a little bleach.

Lesson learned: I don't belong in the kitchen when I have too many pots on the stove. Then I take short cuts like using food that should have been tossed. Cleaning up the counter tops of everything except what I am using will make food preparation less frantic and  safer and more fun.

Update:
11-27-19
This morning I made scrambled eggs whipping and adding enough milk to make the eggs pastel, baby yellow. Then in  fry pan mixing them continuously until they are almost completely thickened. Then I add milk and cover for a minute. I served half of them. The rest went into the magic bullet with vanilla ice cream, a third of a banana, blueberry passion fruit sorbee and vanilla ice cream. I pushed pulsating. Poured into a small cup and my husband said I didn't serve him enough. He wants more later.

My best wishes to you for a Happy Thanksgiving no matter what you think you can eat.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Shifting homes has complications (a bonus post)

by Rain Trueax

the view up our Tucson driveway as we arrived on Sunday


Yesterday was a frustrating day with trying to get our electronic world up and connecting us. Changing homes has that complication as when we know we won’t be in the desert home for enough months, we put the services on vacation. The Oregon home stays active as our son takes it over when we are gone.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

A circuitous path

By Rain Trueax


When I came to the background for the hero in Vislogus, the fourth Mystic Shadows book, I found the research particularly interesting as I always do when someone has been taught by Native American cultures. Mitch led quite a life, and mysticism was always part of it. By the time he comes into the book, he's become reclusive. He's a wolf shapeshifter, whose best friend is a wolf who can talk. Well, it's claimed Adolph is hybrid to make him legal to own. Mitch finds peace in shifting into an animal; danger is never far away whatever form he takes. Mitch's bio is below-- much of the sort that a writer must know but does not make it into a book.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

by Diane; Thoughts on a Lunch Box Conversation at the Corrine Woodman Gallery

At the Corine Woodman Gallery in the Corvallis Arts Center the November 12 to December 4th exhibit is called The Woodblock Traditional and Experimental featuring long time artist Jessica Billey and a  recent graduate of OSU, Tim Hartsock. At the Lunch Box Conversation, Tuesday, November 12, Jessica and Tim answered Hester Couck and the audiences' questions..
        Both exhibitors use wood in their work. For Jessica's the prints is the finished art.  Her woodblock is a tool for printing multiple prints. While for Tim the wood becomes the finished piece of art. They talked about their process and how they used their tools.
       After my previous blogs on the ways brushes can be allowed to govern in traditional and creative finished painting, I enjoyed seeing how traditional and high tech tools play in the process of two very different artists.


Traditional V cutter and two U cutters
       Hester Coucke often pairs artists who have contrasting processes. This month is no exception. Both artists share a studio above the Inkwell Home Store in Corvallis but their process comes from different backgrounds.  Jessica has been carving since childhood. Tim is new to wood and fresh out of finishing a degree in art at OSU.
         Jessica carves birch plywood to make prints and then enjoys the block on her walls while Tim considers the manipulated wood block his finished work of art.  His process starts with pencil drawings that he manipulates with Photo Shop and finally burns the image of his handwork into the wood with Oregon State University fancy expensive laser cutter. The look of the lines he originally The same lines character in the end is.from the machines making the manipulations and less from thought and feelings directly made by his own hand. Tim needs to have an exhibit to want to work.  an exhibition goal helps to get permission to use the OSU cutter! For him he does not need to be producing art works to be creative. At present he is living as an artist working to make his home his creation.
      Jessica starts with photos of flowers combining them into a collage. Then she photo digitizes her collage to make a transparency to project on large plywood blocks approximately four foot by three foot. The projected image is penned with a black Sharpy on the painted red wood so when she cuts the wood the lines are lightest. Carving is very physically difficult and painful. When coming back to a work that builds day by day, knowing her journey path must be calming and meditative keeping her wanting to go to the studio to work. She needs to take breaks and get physical therapy and message.  
       Like Tim the goal of having an exhibit in the future is a welcome motive for Jessica.
       Jessica uses traditional tools like mine. These knives are cheaper than laser cutters by far.
       I did wood block prints in the 60's and 70's. My process was to paint the wood block black and carve it freehand while looking at a model. The detail below is example of one of my prints. The lines made by a V cutter. Repeated lines form a gray shape similar to Jessica's favorite method of creating value contrasts.
 
detail of woodcut illustrating mark of the V cutter
mostly cutting in the direction of the grain.
Mostly cut in one hour, my choice was cutting with the grain
 because it was faster than other tools and offered little resistance saving time.
I apologize for not having pictures of Jessica's work
but too busy care giving to go to the CAC to
photo Jessica's prints and Tim's wood blocks.
           Old growth wood like I used is not readily available today so plywood is the wood of choice.  The uneven grain on the wood skins gives Jessica the challenge of adjusting her cuts according to the resistances of working the knives through uneven grains.  These irregularities in the wood start a process of give and take between her and the wood.  The story of her process is visible in the prints taken from the block. Jessica's woodblock prints tell an intimate story. Tim's are to me an expression of the pulse of today's technology's forced power in contrast to the organic growth of the wood.
 
 

Saturday, November 16, 2019

It takes a hero

by Rain Trueax



For my books about the Hemstreet sisters and their mother, the first attractions to their characters were location, the family, and then that they were professional witches. 

In terms of witch, I am using that word loosely as we have a concept for what qualifies someone to be a witch? Why are they labeled such? These are ordinary looking women with ordinary jobs. Two ran a boutique. One was a detective. One helped her widowed mother run the Black Cat Bookstore. All but one had their own homes-- the youngest, still at home, wanted to move out.

I referred to these women as natural born witches but fully human with skills that make them different. At the same time, they have all the usual human problems. I liked them having an added problem of supernatural powers, since that meant they had to lead a double life, where you have to hide part of who you are. What did that mean for their romantic life? 

What many people, those who don't read romances, don't know is that the male protagonists are central to the stories. Romances are thought of as stories for women. Of course, women are their main buyers but unlike chick lit, men also read them for a variety of reasons. The thing I want to explore here are those heroes in the books. What about the men!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

by Diane: Watercolors, brushes and rags workshop


At the November 2nd  ODFW and Oregon State Fish Hatchery and Research Center Fall Creek Arts and Crafts Festival there were no students who used my demonstrated idea in the morning.
Waly ( the surviving partner of high school class mate, Mike Mayer) myself
and co-teacher Cheryl French gather for a photo shoot by Ann Holyfield.
Waly is a successful designer of commercial needlepoint designs.
Recently he started doing custom work
 painting in acrylic on the backing.
This was his first experience with watercolors.
Unfortunately Crayola brand food coloring in glue
is different from artist quality paints. If he was really
serious about taking up watercolors, this workshop was not a good sample
of what the medium could offer him. 
I demonstrated how to fully saturate a brush by first spraying water on Crayola pan colors, then  making a puddle of water and paint on the palette.  The brush is rolled on its side to make it hold as much as it can possibly hold. And then the brush was ready to easily slide across the paper making shapes that look like watercolor paint.

 The number of brush fulls of paint to make the right concentration on the palette is guesswork.  After painting it on your paper and the estimate is incorrect, make the paint lighter by picking up excessive wet areas with a dry brush or rag. 

Also demonstrated how a dry corner of the rag dipped into the paint sucks up paint. Drying up excessive puddles on the paper prevents an irregular blooms as the paint dries. If desired the wet paint can be darkened by dropping more color into the paint before the paint is completely dry. 

I always learn more from these workshops than I think my students do.  For one, I learned that most students who come to these fairs just enjoy the labor of brushing back and forth gradually building their shapes. Every touch of their brush showed the scrubbing force behind the paint. Most of the students in the morning had no interest in trying a new way from how they painted maybe years before. Some were more joyfully engaged in care taking. Their clients' faces sometimes brightened with joy. They were loud and happy in no way wanting to concentrate on the painting process. Painting should also be a relaxed way to enjoy an activity with others as these care givers were doing.

The families with young children were engaged in introducing painting to their children as they had obviously painted with them before. This year's instruction on the use of brush and rag was less useful for both these families and care givers.


 I also learned from a seriously involved painter. Above is a painting done in about 15 minutes during lunch break by a watercolorist who did not take the morning watercolor class nor was she signed up to take my afternoon class. Because she was interested in looking at my stack of demo paintings, I invited her to see my demo and paint. She definitely knew how to incorporate my demo ideas. She had a considerable amount of painting experience. She dropped color into the background to make the impression of water.  She dropped purple spots on the body She motified the value with the rag, and in addition she knew she needed pencils and something to scratch into the paint.

The best part of the workshop experience was what I learned in doing the demonstration. I am excited to do more watercolors.




Saturday, November 09, 2019

Love is such a medicine

by Rain Trueax

Image from the Ben Kern wagon train, a trip taken by those who want to relive 
what once was done out of necessity.

Once in a while we like to have a book sale. Recently, we've gotten busy and have not done it as often as we would like. We decided now was the right time for the first book I ever wrote-- when I was closer to the age of the heroine-- unlike now when I'd be more like her great grandmother ;). I related to this young woman then and now for her goals and then the interference of life that changes our path sometimes. 

Because Veterans Day is a time we honor heroes, those who have served our country in the military, it seemed an apropos time for a book about heroes. Not just the main protagonist but several others who totally fit the hero profile for bravery and self-sacrifice. The 99¢ price for the eBook will be until midnight November 11th. It is only on Amazon but most eReaders can use Amazon for their books. 

Round the Bend is about two young people, who are traveling to Oregon with one of the last of the big wagon trains. They are coming with their families. One of those families is the best of the best and the other is dangerously dysfunctional. The young people have been friends most of their lives. One of then wants to change things. The other wants to keep it as it's been. 

The book is about the trip West and what it took to make it given the distance, weather and sometimes harassment of those not too thrilled to see their homeland possibly being threatened. When I wrote it, I knew the basic story. Before I published it, I had a much better idea of what it took to make the trek, the risks and the wonders. It's the story of a journey of community, our bodies, and even our souls as it changes things in ways they did not expect. 

My personal story about writing the book began when my cousin and I would go for walks during family gatherings. I liked making up stories. Often, I'd tell part and then she would. With this story, which I originally named Taopi Tawote, she stopped wanting to tell her part and wanted me to finish it. It would be years later before I actually did that. I changed the title because I feared people would think it was about Native Americans. I wrote a poem for the book though and it remains at the beginning.

Wound medicine, the Lakota call it.

    Yarrow, the English call it.

    Strong of scent, herbal healer,

    born of the earth...
taopi tawote.
        Men's souls need wound medicine.
    Some hurts go so deep only the strongest
    of medicines can heal them.
    Love is such a medicine...
     This is the story of such a love  
Maybe you've never actually read a romance. This might be your chance and for 99¢ until November 12th.  https://www.amazon.com/Round-Bend-Oregon-Historicals-Book-ebook/dp/B00UZ59KQA

When I wrote this book, I had no idea that it would lead to a series that takes the family into Oregon and its settling with three more romances. When you start writing about families, it makes a writer curious about the rest of these people like two more sisters and one I never dreamed would end up a romance, which I won't describe here as that's part of reading for the joy of discovery. Following a few years, after the family arrives in Oregon, comes Where Dreams Go. Then there was the question of the oldest sister-- Going Home which is after the Civil War. That left one sister-- Love Waits. 

Fun to write a series and there might be some more as the children grow into adults... 

 

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

by Diane: About the header painting

 
The header is a detail  from "Rock and Snow," an oil painting on cradled 12" square by 1 1/2" deep board. It is one of a series begun the summer before my senior year in high school. The first painting was of Humbug Creek with a big moss covered rock - my first oil painting on location.

1960

I have been back to Humbug Creek camp ground two more times and painted the rock and creek. Abstracts often evolve into this series at isolated times.

July 2,000

 
Nov. 3, 2019, down stream from Fall Creek Fish Hatchery and Research Center


 
My demonstration for afternoon watercolor workshop
at
2019 Fall Creek Arts and Crafts Festival
November 2, 2019
 
Painting the rock is always a comfort zone painting reminding me of pleasurable outings into the out of doors. The most recent was done on a marvelous sunny day with not even a breeze at the Fall Creek Festival.  More on the festival watercolor workshops I taught in my next blog Wednesday, Nov. 13.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

what if

by Rain Trueax


This is the season where the leaves fall off the trees. Do they also reveal what is otherwise hidden? Do we want to know what that might be? I've written before about the fairy tale for adults angle of why write or read books with supernatural elements. It was the fun part of what these books offer-- magical beings and special powers. 

There is another side-- the scary side. Why do people go to horror films? They might like being scared and looking for a vicarious, safe experience to get the adrenaline rush. In literature, there is the popularity of Stephen King's books to recognize that wanting to be frightened has fans.