Finish line

I did manage to cross the finish line for the Blogging from A to Z.

It was a bit tricky because I had a last minute trip. I got the tickets last Sunday and flew on Tuesday. I flew back on Friday and got home on Saturday. I traveled super light: no laptop, no big camera, only phone and a small day pack and one change of clothes, so I washed some by hand daily. I am proud that I still got the A to Z done!

I feel more like a finisher than a winner. It does feel good to share so much of my mother’s artwork. Helen Burling Ottaway died at age 61 in 2000, so her artwork did not have much of an internet presence. She is present in the Lake Matinenda Cottage Owners Association here. She and my uncle and other family and friends worked on a Matinenda flora of the wildflowers and plants. There have been two more since.

Hooray for everyone who contributed to or supported or read the Blogging from A to Z this month and hmmm, what should I do next year?

Daily Evil: Z is for Zzzzz

Sleep is not evil. Nor is snoring, though you might think someone is evil at 2 am if their snoring is keeping you up.

This is a small watercolor, 9 by 6 inches. Again, no date, but it is a view near my parent’s house in Chimacum. They loved that house and the views. They moved there in 1996 and my mother was diagnosed with cancer a year later. I want to end with this painting because they were so happy there, even with the cancer. They had wanted to move to the northwest for years, but waited until my grandmother died. She was in her 90s and they were afraid to move her. After she died, it took three years to find a place and sort things and move.

So let’s end with them sleeping and waking to morning and the sun coming over the mountains and the farms around them and the views.

Daily Evil: Y is for Yellow

Yellow can mean fear or cowardice, but it is also a color. Sunlight, summer, warmth, daffodils, spring and tulips.

This watercolor by Helen Burling Ottaway is from 1999 and my daughter chose the mat. I love her choice, the orange picking up all the oranges and yellows in the painting. Orange would never occur to me, but it is wonderful.

Daily Evil: X is for Xenophobic

Are phobias evil? A fear of strangers or of foreigners. I think a phobia can make someone behave strangely or dangerously and harm others. I think that the isolation of the pandemic has increased our fear, so it may well exacerbate xenophobia. Not only the pandemic, but inflammatory news and war and changing weather patterns and the news that one in five trees is dying in part of California, unable to survive the warming.

This is a watercolor, again no date, but I think it is of the Olympic Mountains. That means it was painted in the last four years of her life, between 1996 and 2000. She and my father bought five acres with a house and barn in Chimacum, off of Center Valley Road. She loved the views up and down the valley. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1997 and died in 2000.

The mountains look like they have a crosshatching, Xes to indicate snow and valleys and places where the snow can’t stick. Or has fallen down.

Daily Evil: W is for Wild

Is wildness evil? What sort of wildness? The forest and waves and wilderness are not things we think of as evil, but some wildness in humans seems very evil. Some is silliness, some is substances, and some is truly violence and cruelty and terror and evil.

This is another of Helen Burling Ottaway’s fantasy etchings, titled The Hunt, number 6 of 30, 1986. A merman with a trident and dogfish, with a variety of tails. The etching is 6.75 by 8, the paper 11 by 15. I like the lines of movement, of waves, from the escaping shark.

Daily Evil: V is for Virago

Virago gives positive and negative definitions, but all female. The most positive ones are of a very strong woman, “like a man”. Is there a male word that means the same thing? A word for a man, where the most positive one is that he’s very strong, “like a woman”. Perhaps “like a woman in labor”. Let’s make one up if we can’t think of one. “Obstetico”, perhaps. A man who complains like he’s a woman in labor, but the positive definition is strong like a woman in labor.

This is a watercolor postcard. Helen Burling Ottaway painted a bunch of postcards, with wonderful detail. These snapdragons could be viragos or obstetricos or perhaps both. This is from 1999, two years into her ovarian cancer. So the song is the Bald Headed Blues.

Daily Evil: U is for Unlikely

Unlikely isn’t evil. Well, I am tired of evil, so U is for Unlikely because I am tossing in a monkey wrench. U for unexpected, too.

Back to etchings: U is for Unicorn. This is titled “The Virgin and the Unicorn II”, number 10/75, 1986, H. Ottaway. The etching is 7 inches by 8 inches and the paper is 11 inches by 15 inches. She would often frame them mounted but not matted, in frames that have a slot to hold the glass away from the picture. She did her own framing and especially disliked cutting glass. I knew when a show was close because she would be framing and grumpy.

Daily Evil: T is for Thief

Time is the evil thief I am thinking of today. This is my sister, Christine Robbins Ottaway, painted by Helen Burling Ottaway in the early 1970s. Time has stolen both of them.

This is another watercolor, over a pencil drawing, 10.5 inches by 14 inches.

Daily Evil: S is for Sneaky

Sneaky. One thing that I think really is evil is gossip. Talking about someone behind their back and spreading rumors and never speaking to the person themselves. But I do not need to punish anyone. The gossip will eat them from the inside, like a cancer, and they will look like fools when they are proven wrong. Curling churlishly with guilt.

I look at the sea and I let it all go.

This watercolor by Helen Burling Ottaway does not have a date. I love the whitecaps using the paper. Tricky to do that, I have tried. My daughter also draws horizons and seascapes, over and over. This is 11 by 15. I suspect it is from the late 1970s or early 1980s, because there is a watercolor of my sister on the beach, similar to this. My paternal grandparents lived on Topsail Island in North Carolina and that is the most likely location.

S is for sneaky and snarky and sea. Here is a snarky song.

Daily Evil: R is for Ridiculous

This is Donkey Oatie and Sancho Panda. Helen Burling Ottaway did a series for a book or a show or something in the early 1990s. I do not know if it was ever published. There is no date on this. This is colored pencil and the drawing is 9 by 12 inches. I think she did larger watercolors as the final project.

Is being ridiculous evil? I read that today is National Humorous Day. We need humor to let go of stress and blow off steam and to go from the fight or flight sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic relaxed one. Humor is a really good way to go. So watch those silly cat videos and laugh. Ok, not when you are at work. But even at work, my office manager and I needed to blow off steam and laugh. One day she was playing whale songs. I heard her say very seriously into the phone, “Oh, those are whale songs. Dr. Ottaway insists on whale songs.” I howled, because she had picked them. For revenge I made whale noises at her between patients all day. Anybody walking into clinic might have thought we were loons. I can do loon songs very well, better than whale songs.

I know a slightly different tune for The Dummy Line, a variation. There seem to be a bunch!