"Synchronized Scowling" mixed media by Kerry McFall
The Newport Performing Arts Center (not pictured obviously!) on Christmas Eve eve was a treasure: first we saw a local ballet troupe perform Nutcracker Remix in 3D, an absolute hoot and very well done. There is nothing like a 3-year-old ballerina to lift your spirits, unless it’s a 3-year-old Nutcracker soldier battling a mouse king three times his size – best sword play I’ve seen on stage since I saw Baryshnikov dance the Nutcracker in Atlanta once! And then later that evening, we heard none other than David Ogden Stiers read from “A Christmas Carol” and other Christmas works – world class actor, small audience – we felt very privileged.
Between performances, an informal synchronized flight show was taking place a bit north of the Arts Center. As a rule it’s too windy/wet/cold at the coast (there’s a reason we rarely use the term “beach” in Oregon) for plein air sketching. This weekend was no exception, and I came prepared with my camera. A flock of gulls had congregated because some idiot was throwing them bread – it was fun to watch them catch the chunks in mid-air, but what I know about wild birds is that you shouldn’t feed them white bread. When Bread Man left, a cloud of gloom descended on the flock, and they all took up posts on the fence and stared moodily out to sea from the Nye Beach Parking Lot (obviously so named by the good people in the Tourism Bureau). Good mood or bad, it’s very difficult to avoid an expression on a bird face that doesn’t look cranky… still working on that! The blob of red on the tip of their beaks doesn’t help much, kind of makes it look like they just tore apart their prey and forgot to use their napkins… the NationalAudubon Society web page tells me that this is probably a Western Gull, and the wing span can be up to five feet… wow!
“Having a quiet Christmas” is just code for “we don’t have anybody to play with.” That’s what I’ve decided after spending the first Christmas in my life without being surrounded by all sorts and descriptions of friends and relations. We thought it made sense to just stay home and enjoy the peace and quiet for once, after all the travels last year, and with the kids away in the wide, wide world… as Christmas got closer, it seemed less and less sensible. For a bleak while, it even looked like we wouldn’t be able to enjoy our Christmas Eve traditional dinner with friends because The Chef had to work… but Martha stepped up to the plate in the nick of time, and just like in the “Heroine’s-Name-Here Saves Christmas” kiddy tales, she went the extra mile, and we had such a lovely time at her home! She and Dave and Alice and Avery gave us a very warm welcome, dinner was delicious, and except for an unlamented lack of illuminated reindeer or inflatable Santas, it was just like on TV!
Our hostess gift to her was going to be bulbs – maybe some paperwhite narcissus? – but the cyclamen shelf at Schmidt’s Garden Center caught my eye, so we decided she would be able to enjoy it indoors now and plant it when the sun comes out of hiding in a few months. Plus, I really, really wanted to have a go at sketching those lacy silverish leaves… this has been photoshopped just a bit, and I’m still trying to decide whether or not to get out my pen and ink and do another session with some cross-hatching.
My New Year’s resolution is probably going to be “Don’t be Sensible.” Especially about Christmas!
My solution for needing to stare at a flame on a chilly Sunday afternoon, but not having a fireplace: go find some matches and then dig out that candle that somebody gave me last year… now where was that – corner cabinet? Dining room shelves? Box in the closet? Then go get the stool out of the utility room, climb up and get that can of cocoa out of the way back of the cupboard, where it’s been hiding since this time last year… ah. Do we have any milk in the fridge? Yes! Perfect. ‘ Tis the Season!
"Peppermint Poinsettia", mixed media by Kerry McFall
I took a tag from the “Giving Tree” at work, which said “10 year old boy” on the front, and “HexBug Robotic Ant” on the back. The resulting shopping event was such fun – turns out there really is such a thing as a robotic ant, about the size of a healthy Georgia “Palmetto Bug”, only purple… just about the coolest toy since Slinkies! Then I found a book at GoodWill titled, “Is That a Dead Dog in Your Locker?” – perfect for the small unknown male if he’s anything like most of the males I have known, although perhaps not an enduring classic. Throw in a box of 10 Crayola markers just in case he’s a budding artist, a couple packs of Pop Rocks, and I think I will have covered all the bases… Have fun, Little Man!
It’s going to be a quiet Christmas for us this year, assuming of course that the planet is still spinning after the End of the World As We Know It event on 12/21/12. We’re staying home, the kids are scattering. Life’s Rich Pageant marches on, and sometimes what you need is a nice cup of peppermint tea and plenty of time to stare at a candle flame and/or sketch a wildly RED poinsettia. This piece started out using my Pentel brush pen, the one that says to me, “You can’t possibly do every petal so don’t try.” A few layers of watercolor and colored pencil, and voila – Christmas Card is done! Maybe I’ll get some printed and mailed, or maybe I’ll just light another candle! Happy Holidays!