what lies beneath … art blogging/journaling

“Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth.” 
― Pablo Picasso
what lies beneath
what lies beneath

There is a company, Stampington Press, which produces many magazines about art and blogging and journaling.

This is the process I use and I find it a great escape, but check out the many magazines they offer online and in many stores, and see what process you want to design for yourself.

First, I pick some materials.  In this case a photograph from 2008 of a Magnolia tree in bloom.

(If you are doing a hand piece, grab some paper, and a  few tools: magic markers, pens, colored pencils, stickers, bling, and/or whatever you like, but don’t feel you must have the whole art supply cabinet with you.  Once you have a few items, sit with them and see what emerges.)

Second, I pick some tools.  In this case, Photoshop.

Third, I start playing.  I work with this e-media in my day job, so to make it fun, I just try different filters and things I know how to do.  In this case I duplicated and cropped the picture 4xs to make the frame, which also has lighting adjustments made to it.

Then I played with the Magnolia photo itself, enlarging it and filtering it.

Finally, I saved it and then started layering the layers.  Then, all of a sudden:  this photo was done.

I named it what lies beneath because it reminds me of a time when I bought a picture only to find others underneath it.  A common experience for flea market investigators.  I thought it would be fun to find a quote to go with it so I googled art quotes and Goodreads showed the quote by Picasso at the top.  Serendipity, I guess.


Being held at the Lansing Community Libary…click for details.




All beautiful things

even in the worst drought since 18__?


“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

Henry David Thoreauimage

A sense of place…my Grandmother’s house on Lake Street

A day at Grandmas
My family in my Grandmother’s back yard, the wall with plants is the viaduct, the train, including the Phoebe Snow, ran above it.

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From the time I was born until I turned 14, the center of my universe was Lake Street in Elmira, New York.

My Grandmother’s house sat alone on the other side of a train viaduct.  This house  had once been part of a much larger, bustling, nice neighborhood. My great Uncle Joe had lived across the street in a beautiful house. A painting of it endures and from it I sense the warmth of the neighborhood.

My Grandmother’s house was actually a row house with two large units she inherited from her father. My Grandfather had a Mom and Pop shop in front and after our weekly Sunday dinners, we, my younger siblings and I, would go with one of my Aunts to run the store.

I can remember the smell of tobacco mingled with candy bars when you walked in and the bell clanged against the door frame. For fun there, we climbed up on Grandpa’s office chair, a beautiful wooden piece with a slated back, and swiveled each other around as fast as we could go.  Grandpa sauntered in after his meal and asked us what kind of candy we wanted to take with us. I remember being a big fan of mallow cups.  They were lined up in boxes behind a glass case as I recall.

Often,  I would stay at my Grandparent’s house for the whole weekend day. Those days were slow, as only childhood days can be…there were no computers to entertain us, only 3 major TV stations and so my Aunts took us outside.

At times we hung out in the front yard where we watched the people and cars go by. There was an antique doll and carriage I played with, rolling it up and down the brick driveway.

Many times on hot Sunday afternoons, my Aunt Melia or Aunt Claire, would walk us down the street, under the viaduct, through the dust kicked up by the traffic, to the Dairy Queen for an ice cream. That was a real treat on a hot day in the 60s, along with the sprinkler. The Aunts often pulled the sprinkler out for a mid-afternoon dip when the heat was oppressive and we needed entertaining.

Two years ago, I saw one of my Aunt’s younger contemporaries from the neighborhood. “Oh,” he said, “I just loved your Grandparent’s place, there it was, this beautiful oasis of gardens and green in the city. It looked so out-of-place but it was so lovely, if you find a picture please send it to me. I’d love to see it again.”

He felt that sense of place and for one minute, I actually went back there, back in time to this house along the tracks. There wasn’t much to it, I see now in old pictures. But to me, it was a castle, a beautiful spot.  A place of meat with egg, mashed potatoes, after-dinner drinks of crème de menthe, picnics with thick plastic plates and matching plastic glasses; a grape arbor, oodles of plants, and the smell of freshly mowed grass, Chianti wine, and an old stereo stocked with my Aunt’s 45s:  how much is that doggy in the window, one of her favorites.

Gone now, of course. In 1975 Tops Supermarket bought my Grandparents out. Change is a coming wrote Bob Dylan and it always comes. They tore the whole thing down. It later morphed into a Big Lots, which is what I think it still is today.

I went there once with my husband. We parked in the parking lot, I made my way to the stone wall of the train trellis, and as I got closer, I could feel the place. Actually feel it, I wanted to grab a plant, maybe it was one from my Grandmother’s lovely garden, probably not, I told myself.

I had a burst of tears…a bitter sweet burst. The joy of feeling just a touch of the place, the pain knowing it and all that it gave me,  gone.

Related family history blogs:






The central garden

central garden July 8 2010d 046

Often I’ll go outside and just place my hands on the soil, even if there’s no work to do on it. When I am filled with worries, I do that and I can feel the energy of the mountains and of the trees.”
― Andy Couturier, A Different Kind of Luxury: Japanese Lessons in Simple Living and Inner Abundance

I have often thought about writing about the gardens we have here and so I may give it a whirl this winter.  After all, it may inspire me, when confined, to think about why we tolerate the confinement.  It is still fall and we are now in the middle of our second snowstorm.

The backstory on this garden:  when I first moved here, I said, “New husband, I need a garden of my own.”

“Ok, how about that one.”  He pointed to a row of flowers, three tiers of unorganized, tall flowers that abutted the clothesline.  The clothesline stretched from this area to the barn and faithfully, Barbara (see December 7 post) put her laundry up to dry several days a week.

I plotted my garden out and I bought lots of plants…as I recall, one season it looked really good, but then…reality hit. Reality being work:  the work I attended to every week, my job; the housework and grocery shopping on weekends; and the world of weeding.  It felt too big  and so, I believe eyeing its potential and my subsequent abandonment during a few summers, the new husband, who was not so new and had summers off, said:  “I know it is a lot, if you don’t mind, I can take it over.”

In came the variation of plants, the bench, a little pond, yellow tulips, and a Japanese Maple, not all at once, of course. This picture is pretty close to how it looks today: fourteen years later.  It is lovely.  I can’t begin to name all the plants. But for me, it is where I  learned how wonderful it is to dig in the dirt on a rainy misty day and see fushia colored flowers and my beloved peonies bloom.

Sadly, Barbara died shortly after this garden was finished.  The garden then looked more like a template of things to come. The last place I saw Barbara was on the bench pictured above.  She then went in to watch the US Open.  That night, a short two days before she died, she called a friend and expressed a tremendous sense of peace sitting with my husband and I that day.  

As if everyone she loved was right there with her.

This is the central garden and I will probably revisit it in these posts..

photograph & content:  claireaperez@gmail.com

quote under photograph from Goodreads

Bee balm and Facebook in the mist

bee balm unedited
bee balm unedited

I took this photograph in the summer, surrounded by bee balm

today I tried to make something of it that represents how Facebook can feel

to me

lovely in its color, but distorted, liquified, watered down

not quite true, as if all the world really existed like it does on Facebook

and then of course, ephemeral,

gone, like the bee balm with nothing to show

except that moment of excitement with a liked post, a beautiful pic of family,

a message from a friend thousands of miles away


the parties I have not been invited to

or weddings I could not attend due to whatever

and all the delicious recipes I don’t have time to make

…this is my reminder to turn the volume down Facebook, to call a friend, have a party, and bake.


Beebalm 2014
Beebalm 2014

garden photos and the dog chronicles

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I am having fun with a new camera, it beats the iPhone 3G.

Macadew and Moby photo..We got the love part down, it's just the training....
We got the love part down, it’s just the training…

The doggies, the ones I  mention  frequently, take our minds off the news, which we can not control,  and other things, which we can not control.

Moby and Macadew…today’s entry:

Moby was put out because when the two were presented with dog bones,  Macadew put  Moby’s bone in his mouth and tore past me and Moby.  I decided Moby had to be protected so I brought both dogs inside and gave them each one bone in their  crates.  Well Macadew just gnawed away for the 1/2 hour or so.   Mobs just lay in his little crate, despondent, bone at the far end.

He is a social critter.  Only when Moby  got out of his cage did he proceed to chomp away. He was protected from Macadew by my husband who simply says, Ut oh to get compliance out of Macadew.


My signature dish…

When I was in college,  my friend and I took turns visiting each other’s families at their  rented lake homes.   There we were  on fire with ideas about life and trying to figure it out and there were our parents talking about food.  My Mother discussed upcoming gatherings and the ingredients she needed to purchase for her macaroni salad.  My friend’s Mother and sister debated the best places to get summer produce: a little Amish market up the street or a farm stand on the road home.  At night, my friend and I went out for a drink, a cigarette, a few laughs, and of course, a bit of life contemplation.

One night we were out and as I want to remember it, my friend took a drag from her cigarette, flicked the ashes in the ash tray, leaned pack in her chair and said: “All I know Claire, is when I get older, I’m not going to talk about food! ”

“Yeh, I know what you mean!”  And that became our running joke, “Their talking about food again,” and other  statements made as the lake visits continued through our early adulthood.

Flash forward 20 some years.  A mini-reunion held, we sit down at a nice Italian restaurant, my girlfriends and I well into the 21st century.  The red wine poured, the warm bread and olive oil served, my friends and I pull the bread, dunk it into the oil, sip our red wine with its fingers latching onto the glass, and my lake buddy turns to me and says, as I remember it:  “Claire, I really like talking about food!” and we both start laughing with a glint in our eyes.

I retold this story  when I wanted to support a conversation that stayed away from politics.  Everyone laughed.  I also caught myself emailing a friend recently saying, you know what I need to keep my conversations less about issues and more about food.  My own private chuckle over that one.

In truth, I’m an ok chef.  My presentation is usually strong and colorful but I’m not that much into adding spices unless directed with precision by Betty (Crocker)  or the Barefoot Contessa.  And that is where my signature dish comes in.  I need one and I put that as my Facebook post yesterday.  I’m thinking of pizza.  I took out the big fat baking cookbook from the library again this month, thinking that now is the time to work on that pizza dough.  Make it over and over, top it with various vegetable combos from our garden, and presto, I will be able to serve delicious pizza forever, or at least until I die.  I can bring it with me when I need a “dish” to pass.  My long time friends suggested maybe  e-clairs or  7-Layer Mexican dip.  Both made me laugh  out loud.

A favorite classmate from high school died recently and I noticed that, like me, she did not have the traditional career path, but she did have a signature dish:  blueberry cobbler.  I could see my friend, a natural girl who loved skiing and pine trees and a good laugh, serving up this blueberry cobbler to her friends and family.  Bringing everyone together with the delicious site and smell of blueberries and sugar and butter bubbling away.  That struck me as something cool to be in an obituary, the signature dish, and if nothing else, I think I’d like that in mine.

in pursuit of my signature dish picture of pizza from show
from ehow…pizza

I just read a recap of Nora Ephron’s memorial service on a New York Times  report…she planned her service and the producer/author of Julie and Julia included some recipes in the program.  From her books and movies, it is clear, Nora Ephron was about more than food but food obviously delighted her. it makes sense:   many of us look forward to food each day, if we are fortunate, and it keeps our mind temporarily off the tough stuff, not to mention its bipartisan possibilities for pulling a divided nation together.

Well I’ve got to go…my pizza recipe awaits me.  I’ll keep you posted.


its cold here in upstate New York


the wind is whipping the trees around and you can here it slosh through the crevices in the doors.   The wind chimes are clanging repeatedly with no rhythm and I am laying on the couch with a wee bit of bandwidth, typing this post.  My husband just brought in some slippery elm wood to see how it will burn, he and his buddies have almost finished loading the woodshed for the winter ahead.  My little cat Honey Bunny has been meowing like a fiend all afternoon, I thought she was hungry, but soon after I fed her, she was back at it, Meoww, she still misses Tazz.  Tazz, our black cat, passed away in July and neither Honey Bunny, nor I, are over it.  I just can’t believe I’ll never see him again.  The denial part still sinks in, ‘Oh, he will be back…isn’t that him walking through the kitchen now.’

Other than that, today we have 4 signs out front promoting the democratic candidates in our area and the ban on fracking.  I arrived home from the library and shopping at 2 to see the signs all nicely aligned out front.  I caved in at the store and bought a decorative element for the front window this Halloween, a ceramic crow with his head cocked back looking over his shoulder.  He is sitting up there waiting for the pumpkin  I’m going to decorate tonight after I rustle up the lamb chops for supper.

My own Freudian analysis of the crow purchase is this:  I have spent the last 2 months hearing the game Angry Birds as a back drop to my evening reading and I have been busy watching the new and improved pigeon hobby of my husband’s take flight:  the purchase of the birds; construction of their flight pens; and purchase of their antibiotics and feed.  It makes sense I’d want some little bird of my own.  And then of course, there is Tazz, my first Halloween without his glowing green eyes since 1993 and the poem I quoted at the end of the summer about Edgar Allen Poe’s sweet Lenore: “Thus quoth The Raven:  Nevermore, Nevermore.”

“Ah but it is the nature of things.” my husband will say after reading this.


Poetry Month

Oprah has dedicated her current issue to poetry http://www.oprah.com/packages/the-power-ofpoetry.html

and so I am posting the poem Trees by Joyce Kilmer.  This remains my favorite poem and Mrs. Jordan made me memorize it and recite it to our fifth grade class at Hendy Avenue School.  I never looked at trees or poems the same again.  Go Mrs. Jordan wherever you are.

Tree tops in summer
Tree tops in summer

bu Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest, Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day, And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear, A next of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain; Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree.

author:  Joyce Kilmer