Monday, February 28, 2011

A Pleasant Weekbeginning

My Post-Academy-Awards-Related Things To Be Happy About:

1. An Oscar ballot upon which nearly all of the nominees have been marked as 'seen and enjoyed.'
2. Diet Ginger Ale made rosy with a splish of Grenadine = faux pink champagne.
3. Lounging jammies, monkey slippers, and costume jewelry bling.
4. Playing Fashion Police during the Red Carpet parade.
5. Champagne flutes, wooden caviar spoons, and TV trays. 
6. Crab legs cooked to perfection.
7. Getting all teary-eyed during the In Memoriam segment....
8. Oscar Bingo.
9. My favorite film goin' home with the gold!
10. A best friend who loves movies as much as I do, sees them all with me, doesn't mind spending long happy hours afterwards critiquing them to within an inch of their lives, and on Oscar Day brings me eyelash glue and a bouquet of roses for my pajama-clad Red Carpet look. (Love you, James!)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sweating the Small Stuff

Since Saturday night I've been enveloped in a sadness, the kind that just needs time (and perhaps all manner of exercise, vitamin D, and antidepressants) in order to go the heck away....

So what am I doing right now? Exercising? Taking care of myself? No. I'm standing at the dining room table sorting watch parts! Things so flippin' small I need a magnifying glass just to see them.

And suddenly just typing this has led to somewhat of an a-ha moment.

Perhaps part of the reason I'm depressed is because I'm making the small, insignificant, so-dang-miniscule-that-they-don't-even-make-a-surface-scratch-on-the-grand-scheme-of-things details way more important than they need to be.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Snow Day Ponderings

It's a snowy Sunday, my one free day before an onslaught of Grandbugsitting, and what am I doing? Slogging around in circles trying to pick up around here while James plays in his studio.

What's wrong with this picture?

It's my own choice but I can't say that I'm happy about it. It's just that I can't play when my nest is a mess, and my nest is ALWAYS a mess. If there's not stuff that needs putting away, there's stuff that needs dusting/cleaning/scrubbing/fill-in-the-blank. And heaven forbid I start a big project when there are at the most a handful of hours until it all needs to be cleared away again before the Grandtoddler visits. So in my head I think, "Why bother?" One quick look-around tells me that the only way to get on top of this overwhelming job would be to set fire to it all.

Yes, I know: It's not going anywhere, so if I hole up in the studio I can deal with it later. Life is short, blah blah. You'd be surprised how small and ineffective those words are when I'm busy surveying my mess.

I envy James his ability to ignore work that needs doing. In fact, I sometimes suspect he's seriously oblivious to it. In the few years that he's been practicing his glasswork, he's created a crap ton of product, and it bums me out to know that there's an artist living here who is actually accomplishing something. Why isn't that artist me?

The thing is, it could be me. Provided I forego my dreams of ever having a home where I can invite guests in and not feel embarrassed about it. Or have a Grandmonkey visit without worrying that she'll hurt herself....

I cruise around online and find blogs written by tattooed and eye-linered 20-somethings about their fabulous creative lives, their Victorian cottages that they've DIY'd to perfection, their 3.5 kids who seem to be Stepford progeny, their burgeoning Etsy stores filled with clever items that are clearly Not Your Grandma's Needlework. I see photos of them in their cutesy pink-and-black workrooms spinning straw into gold while their kids are -- what? -- upstairs in the nursery with the nanny while Hubby dusts and vacuums? While I'm wondering just how much of all that to believe I'm comparing my own self to it all and falling so short that I'm surprised I don't just go back to bed and stay there.

Are their lives perfect and uncluttered because they're 20-something? And is mine like it is because I've lived as long as I have and accumulated all the crap that carries over from a 20-year marriage, the raising of two kids to adulthood, and the incorporation of someone into my life who is as big a pack rat as I am and has thirty years of flotsam to show for it?

...(Insert the sound of crickets chirping here)....

Hmmmm. To be continued, maybe. Because something tells me I might have to think about that for a bit.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

G-O-U-Ache -- Coincidence?

I'm still knee deep in my studio re-org, and here we are at Wednesday -- Day Two of this week's go-'round with all The Boxes. This continued messmaking is beginning to annoy me....
I realize we're now over halfway into February and I've yet to A.) get the job done, and B.) create anything. And I get that the studio re-org might just take the rest of my life since there's a LOT of stuff to slog through and said slogging has to happen between long bouts of Reality. But dang! -- I feel like one big Stall Out, neither moving forward nor having any teensy progress to show for my spinning wheels. If I'm inching towards my goal at all, it'd be nice to know it....
Anyway, on a pleasanter note: Unpacking the boxes has led to some inspiration of sorts, at least. Yesterday I dug through a truckload of paints -- unopened assortments of gouache tubes, acrylics, and pans of watercolors -- and I felt compelled to ignore the unpacking and give them a go. Me? And color? I know -- weird, right? But the idea kind of kept me awake last night, and this morning I awoke still awash in colorful dreams. It dawned on me then that color has been patiently waiting in the wings for me for years. And all the while my head ignores it out of fear, my heart keeps writing it love letters.

I may just have to take a break today and dip some brushes. The last time I painted anything I was more disappointed than exhilarated, so it may be just what I need to get kickstarted again into the reorganizing groove. But who knows?

It might also be the beginning of something sweet.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Testing -- 1, 2, 3. Is This Thing On?

Old dog, here. Still trying to learn some new tricks. And blogging is right up there at the top. Today I'm attempting to e-mail in my blog post, so we'll see what happens.
And since I hate to waste a post, let me just take this opportunity to thank you for being my reader. You've been in my thoughts a LOT lately; I look at every magical moment of my day with you in mind.
I just wanted you to know that, 'k?
Big hugs for being YOU.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Happy Thoughts

I'm thinking SO many happy thoughts today and these are just a few of them:
  • Squishing no less than eight cloves of garlic into the homemade spaghetti sauce.
  • Wispy toddler hair that makes your nose tickle when you nuzzle it.
  • Kitten-soft pajama pants.
  • The soothing metronome beat of an old-fashioned clock.
  • Geraniums stretching for the sun.
  • Popcorn for supper.
  • Old-fashioned typefaces.
  • Happily studying seed catalogs and poultry magazines in bed.
  • Writing haiku.
  • Black polka dots on a pink background (and vice versa).
Add to my list! What happy thoughts are you thinking today?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

5 Magical Things About My (yester)Day (2/7/11)

  1. Snow so soft and downy that it can be swept aside with a broom.
  2. A lunch of Fuji apple slices.
  3. Rocking in the darkness of the nursery with a napping Grandbug curled up in my arms.
  4. Discovering tiny bird tracks in the snow.
  5. Whirligigs in my front window, spinning in the sun.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Still Life with Kitchen Sink

Welcome to Ye Olde Curiosity Kitchen and my view at the sink. I could happily stand and look at it for hours, and sometimes I do just that.

The shelf here under the window was supposed to hold dishwashing paraphernalia (at least that's what I put it there for) but over the years it's held anything but -- partly because I'm not sensible and efficient that way, but mostly because any horizontal surface at my house has to hold something interesting.

The shelf-over-the-sink has supported primarily fascinating things in jars that eat stuff. Things like sea monkeys, garden slugs, cecropia caterpillars, cicadas, and the like. But for now -- except for the odd bacterium or two that I'm sure are happily feasting away -- the shelf is void (devoid?) of animal activity.

That cloche that's covering the sprouting shamrocks? It's one-half of a cheese service, the other half of which is being used for -- who knows? -- something not cheese-related, surely. That jar of rooted plant pinchings? They're from my mother's Swedish ivy which, if I'm not mistaken, is a direct descendant of her mother's Swedish ivy. In the medicine bottle are morning glory seeds collected and saved from last year's vines. And in the terra cotta saucer are pet cockatiel Miss Lily's fairy-sized eggs.

My kitchen sink still-life is like Tumbledown Concentrate. It's just a tiny taste of what it's like to live here, where at any given moment you might encounter a shelf full of things (like the ones pictured here) that will either gross you out or fascinate your day away.

As for me, I'm not easily grossed out but I am easily fascinated. That said, I'll admit there are a lot of shelves here. :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Song for a Wintry Window

(Cue Sir Paul and his acoustical renderings):

Frostbirds flying 'cross the windowpane
With your crystal wings you make your way o'er skies of gray....
Spring will come eventually to melt your wings away.
Frostbirds fly!
Frostbirds fly into the dark of the winter sky!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Collage of Guilt

Last Monday was supposed to be a busy day. With cleaning and organizing and the moving around of furniture and the jettisoning of boxes to charity. Busy busy. Like an achieve-a-thon.

But then I remembered that it was the last day of January and I'd signed up for a month-long mentorship during which time I was expected to send at least three uplifting e-mails and a single snail mail letter to the 'mentee' that I was paired with, cheering her on as she worked to fulfill her New Year's Resolution. Write e-mails? Write letters? Just write? I love this kind of stuff! And I like to imagine that over the course of the month I was an over-achiever, boring my poor 'mentee' by inundating her all January long with e-mails full of kind words and affirmations.

E-mails are all fine and good, but snail mail letters are my favorites. Love to write 'em, love to receive 'em. And instead of getting the single one that was required of me out of the dang way early in the month, I let the idea of it marinate in my head. I didn't want to just send a handwritten version of yet another one of my e-mails. I wanted it to be special. I decided over time that I'd create a little recipe-card-sized collage that my 'mentee' could use as a bookmark, something she could look at often and know that I was waving and cheering at curbside for her personal parade. Great idea, right? And then days passed and I forgot about it.

Snow was falling and piling up that morning when I realized that it was Now or Never. The deadline had arrived and I knew that if I didn't want to have to walk my letter to the post office through all the fresh snow, it had to be created and ready to go by the time the mail guy arrived at my door. So I grabbed the nearest stack of flotsam destined for the recycle bin and began paging through it for stuff I could use. I cut a square from an empty oatmeal box. I sliced words from ads and magazine articles. I misplaced the scissors. I lost the cap for the gluestick. I spent long minutes rereading stuff I was planning to throw away.

During all this time I felt eyes upon me. Someone authoritative but invisible, like the memory of a teacher. And I could hear them thinking: day's ticking away, work needs to be done, and here you are -- dinking around. But I wasn't 'dinking around!'.... Was I?.... I was doing something important. Something that would hopefully make someone's day. But I suddenly felt like my childhood self, shirking chores and homework by playing my day away. And the thought that my work waited undone just curdled whatever fun I was having....

The finished product was delightful! I wrote a note, tucked the collage inside, sealed everything, decorated the envelope with drawings, and secured it all to the mailbox with a clothespin. Whew! Just in time, I thought. And then I began to doubt myself. I rethought it all. I steamed the note open and studied everything I'd done. It was no longer delightful, it was crap! It was too cutesy, too generic, too fill-in-the-blank. I hated it.

Frantically, I hauled everything out again and started over. And all the while I was recreating my collage, I was hearing, "Your mentee is going to look at this and laugh!" "She's going to open your envelope and wonder what you were thinking." "Can't you do anything right?" That invisible authoritative figure was shouting now. And worse: I sensed it had a smile on its face.

This time the finished product was simple and more to the point. It was direct. I liked it better (OK, hated it less). It wasn't schoolgirly cute, like the first attempt. It was as though in the process of recreating it, the collage grew and matured. But I regressed, I think! And after getting it all in the mail just seconds before the letter carrier arrived, I spent the remainder of my day trying to appease The Figure.

I got my homework done, but I did it half-assed. Just like in the olden days.