Thursday, January 31, 2008

Living in a Froggy World...and 100 Days of School

Today marks the 100th day of this school year for James and Katie!
They are excited, to say the least. One Hundred Day is a big deal for kindergarten and first graders. James made a poster covered with 100 Spiderman stickers. Katie made a string of 100 metal beads.

Mrs. Bergen had a special surprise this morning. The kindergarten kiddos had to walk through a giant 100 door poster with cutouts in the zeros to get to their class. As each one walked through, Mrs. Bergen took their picture to commemorate the day. Oh, and I almost forgot, Mrs. Bergen was wearing a tiara. . . someone crowned her Queen of One Hundred Day!

James' class was abuzz this morning, as usual. They opening their journals to write about the day.

I have to thank Mrs. Bradham for working so hard to develop the first graders' reading skills. That frog book in the picture was a source of complete delight to James last night. He started reading it as soon as we left the library, laid it down to go into the grocery store, picked it up as soon as we returned to the van, and spent the evening reading all six chapters aloud! What is so exciting for me is that he was excited about the tree frogs and each detail he read. Yep, that's a good reader, so involved in what he was reading that he really didn't realize until later that he had read an entire book :) He went to sleep still talking about ways to save the rain forest so the tree frogs will always have a home.

Happy 100 Day!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Flora's Passion for Spring

Flora's Passion for Spring

Flora is headed to St. Louis with a few more of my sculptures. She's going to be at The Argonne Gallery! Joan and Tom Elliott will be "Bringing art to the whole community" from their gallery at 101A West Argonne in Kirkwood. I am so excited! Joan's jewelry and enameling pieces, Kathy's metalsmithing and jewelry, pottery from two ceramic artists, and my glass pieces will be on display for sale when the gallery opens. (and you know I'll be sure to let you know the exact date!)

Joan is a wonderful person! She has a way with gemstones and jewelry, too! I can't wait to see her enameled copper bowls. . .and I get to talk to her today. Since I can't make it over to the gallery itself yet, I'm counting on her to fill me in on all the details :) I am so excited for Joan as she embarks on her "second career"!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Busted Nose Football Player for Pop's Project

Okay, here ya go, the first part of the project with Pop. This is the beginning of the football player's head. . . in case you aren't up on sports, this guy still needs the face mask part of his helmet. Gonna make that part with wire. Gotta make him some hands and a jersey.

Uh-uh, I'm not up on sports, either. What's a goddess kinda glass girl doing, trying to make a brawny football player? Experimenting, as usual! For this guy, I made sure the nose was anything but straight-- this guy really gets into the game. Errr, well, either that, or he tried to play defense wearing that mask-less helmet ;) Oh, and I made the helmet after I made the head. They are attached at the neck and forehead, but I built that helmet layer after layer until it covered his noggin. Made the loops at the side for attaching the wire for a face mask. Added the letters BHS on the side of his helmet. That's for Butler High School, Pop's high school.

Progress report done for now. Hope you're all having a good start to your Tuesday!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sometimes, A Cigar is Just a Cigar

One of my favorite quotes is from Sigmund Freud, that psychoanalyst who seems to have added so many layers of extra considerations to understanding the human mentality. . . I mean, seriously, the man was brilliant, but sometimes I think his theories started a barrage of psychoanalysis that never lets up, never stops until it tries to unearth and explain every tiny detail of thought. Freud had some interesting things to say about oral fixations and what they represent, but when someone had the temerity to ask him about the cigar in his own mouth, he had this to say:

"Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar."

It's true. Sometimes, something is just what it is, nothing more. Now, this goddess with the mask, she is just that, a goddess with a mask. Well, she does represent some things in a larger sense, but she's not a remembrance of any wild Mardi Gras celebrations on my part. . . although, that kind of a story sure would get some attention, wouldn't it?? I really am tempted to call her "Mardi Gras Mystery Goddess" or "We All Have Our Little Mysteries, Don't We?".

Of course, that's my smarta$$ humor coming out. My spiritual, mystical, musing self is clearly balanced by my smartass, cynical, rambling self. So, what was I thinking when I made this sculpture?

I was thinking about masks, how they've been used throughout time to don a new identity or identify with a certain god or goddess or animal. I was thinking about how, when all is said and done, it is easier to reveal our bodies to someone than it is to reveal our innermost thoughts and soul, those things behind the mask. I was thinking about the differences in the male mind versus the female mind. I was thinking how most women "get" this concept and how it completely escapes most men. And, if you must know, the smartass cynic in me was chiming in, "This is going to be a total waste of time because there's no way you can fit that whole shebang into one piece of glass...but hey, why don't you see how big you can make that mask while you're at it?"

So, there ya go. She's a mystery to me, too. She's on my list of things to do today-- find her true name, take some more pictures, give this mystery her due attention. It's a toss-up right now, maybe Jezebel ("My body I can sell, but my secrets I'll never tell"), maybe the High Priestess of Tarot (women's intuition, mystique, hidden meanings)? Your guess is as good as mine at this point :)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Yep, I'm all out of catchy titles for today. I am truly an Irish girl from at least one side of the family, and the other is full of blarney no matter which country they came from, so you'd think I'd never be caught speechless, now wouldn't ya? Alas, the kiss of the Blarney Stone fades from time to time when it has had to travel through a few generations :)

I'd hate to let you down after you've come to visit, though, so here are a few bits and pieces of rambling to think on until the next dose of AngieBlab:

  • Groundhog Day is coming soon, and my son is excited! Really, the boy is excited. See, he is convinced that groundhog is in charge of the weather. He really, really doesn't like the cold weather we've been having lately. He really, really believes the groundhog will determine whether or not spring comes right away or has to wait another six weeks. He really, really hopes the groundhog doesn't see his shadow. James really, really believes that spring will begin as soon as that happens. Naw, he doesn't get any of this gullibility from his mother. *ahem*
  • Yes, I am gullible. Always have been a target for my father's off-the-wall, off-the-top-of-his-head explanations for things. See Exhibit A: That white stripe to the right of the road marks the motorcycle lane. See Exhibit B: R.I.P. stands for Rhode Island Police. So, I figured these out after much embarrassment, but I have to wonder what else he's told me over the years that I should check :)
  • Katie isn't immune to the gullibility issue, either. Check this out. One night when she was about 3, she knocked on the bathroom door while I was taking a bath. "Mommy, where are you??" My answer, from the bathtub, was a barely straightfaced "in the kitchen." I heard the pitterpatter of Katie feet head toward the kitchen and then return. "No, you're not in the kitchen, Mommy!"
Hey, hope your weekend is a fun one!

Friday, January 25, 2008

"What's So Good about Fridays, Mom?"

James is forever seeing the glass as empty, never even half empty, much less half full. My little dramatic pessimist, that's what he is! This morning as we were watching our breath in front of us in this very chill 7 degree weather, I said, "Hooray, it's cold, but it's Friday!"

To which my son replied, "What's so good about Fridays, Mom?"

Aha! This is the child who usually counts the days until the weekend because he doesn't like school this year. What's not to like about Fridays when you're in that situation? Unless you might be liking school after all, huh?

"Well, I do like being with my friends. . .and some learning is okay."

Oh, yeah, I have to see this glass as half full, at least for today! Picture me, doing the mommy happy dance!

Happy Friday to you, too! As soon as I quit dancing, I'm going to take some more pictures and list this shou bead in my Etsy shop. If that goes smoothly, then I'll do pictures of a glass sculpture of a woman with another Chinese longevity symbol "tattooed" on her back and list her. Wish me luck!

P.S. Lisi, I sent you an email from Use the website thing again if you don't get it, 'kay?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Lucky Peach of a Day

You can read all about the Chinese symbols for longevity that inspired this glass bead, as well as see a couple more pictures, in my gallery pages. Then, if I'm lucky, someone will love it so much that they will go to my Etsy shop later today and buy it for themselves.

Something about this combination of peachy coral and dark yellow with the bright green decoration makes me feel lucky today. Lucky to be a part of this world. Lucky to have two children who are as bright and fun as these colors are together. Lucky to have such wonderful family and friends. . . and lucky to have had these people in my life for a long time. Think about it, as you must figure I am, since my 42nd birthday is rapidly approaching, which means my sister will be 40 this year!!

Maybe, instead of the symbolism, this peach just makes me feel happy and lucky because I like a juicy, ripe peach so much. Maybe, instead of the good luck it carries with it for the future, it is the good luck I already have that makes me appreciate this peach. Maybe, instead of having some deep meaning, this peach is simply a happy piece of glass that makes me smile.

Hmmm, maybe, instead of musing about this, I oughtta get on with the day and see what fun I can create at the torch today? Yep, sounds like a plan! Have a peach of a day!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Chasing the Dragon (or Having Fun Playing with Glass)

Nothing "pretty" to show you this morning, but I do have a "failure" to show you!

This is cracked attempt at a Chinese paper dragon mask. You know, the kind you see in pictures of Chinese New Year celebrations, the kind with all the bright colors undulating atop the outstretched hands of several people walking underneath it. Oh, those colors! Bold oranges, yellows, and reds accented by vibrant blues and greens and gilded with gold.

I wish I could see such a parade from the vantage point of those people underneath the dragon. Is the dragon thin enough that the sun shining on top casts a faint shadow of the colors? It would be like walking inside a kaleidoscope, with those colors for your sky and confetti beneath your feet. The spectators lining the sidewalks would be another sort of confetti, a barrage of different fabrics quilted together by the crush of the crowd.

Hmm, I like this imagination game, but some very real vibrant and colorful little people are up and it's time for breakfast! Have a bold kaleidoscope of a day!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My Dad, His Baby Brother, and The Book of Think

My dad and his baby brother have been on my mind. Well, all of my family get a rotation through our conversations and thoughts every day, that's one way to keep the distance manageable. I talk to my mom almost every day, but my dad only talks on the phone if he's the one nearest the cordless when it rings and no one else reaches for it. That's another story, though, and I'm not writing that chapter today. Actually, there are lots of good stories that include siblings and cousins and aunts, but today is for two of the Greer "boys."

I'm fairly certain Nelson Telfare and James Franklin won't mind being left out of this discussion, since they probably know it means "while I'm talking about Stanley Monroe and Ralph Boyd, I'm leaving them alone." Your day will come, boys, surely it will. . . just be patient, I'm an equal-opportunity pick-on-my-uncles kinda girl :)

Pop, just so you know, I'm writing this when I can't be torching, so it's not taking up time that would be better spent working on our project.

Yep, if you look in this picture, you'll see a headless and handless welded figure that Pop put together. I was so excited when he showed me his idea at Christmas! I am supposed to be designing and torching the head and hands out of glass. Supposed to be. It's been too cold this weekend, and the kiddos were off school yesterday, too, so no torching since I got this figure in the mail Friday.

Why didn't I fib and say it wasn't here yet? <----Seriously, that's not a rhetorical question, that's a lament, one of those smack your forehead and say "I coulda had a V8" moments. There are some weeks when I only hear my father's voice in the background as I talk to mother. Remember what I said about the man and the phone? He avoids it. Not this weekend. He's answered at least twice and asked if I've been working on any glass.

What's the holdup on my end? Procrastination? Maybe. After all, I am the Queen of Procrastination. But this time, I think the holdup has to do with indecision and wanting to make the "perfect" pieces to go with Pop's hard work. What if he thinks what I made is too ugly or strange? What if I make it, put it all together, and then get a brilliant idea for how I should have done my part of the project?

Pop solved this problem last night, though. While I was hemming and hawing and avoiding answering about what I'm going to make, I got him to tell me he is planning on making some more. Aha! This won't be my only chance! Methinks, I just might torch some glass today, Pop!

Oh, don't worry, Uncle Ralph, I did not forget that I was going to talk about you, too. Do you know where I got that book in the picture? Got it thirty years ago, when I was 12. Says so on the cover, where I proudly wrote "Angie Greer '78". You and Aunt Carol took your kiddos and me (and maybe Sally was there that time?) to the mall, which was a big deal back when indoor malls were new. You bought me this book that I really, really liked when I saw it in the bookstore. I loved that book. I've kept it all these years, sometimes re-reading, almost always remembering what it teaches about thinking outside the box when you need to solve a problem, and always thinking of you whenever I see it in the bookcase. Thank you, Uncle "Rolf," and you don't know just how pleased I am that you are recovering from all this heart plumbing surgery and will be around to pester for a long, long time :)

And that is the AnFaye report for today. Back to the regularly scheduled glass goodies tomorrow (we hope I have something new to show by then, don't we, Pop?).

Monday, January 21, 2008

What's Your Dream This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day?

"Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world..." --John Lennon

Imagine, all the people sharing all the world. Who says it has to be likely in our time for it to be a reasonable dream? The more we wish for peace for humanity, the more tiny steps we take each day to achieve it. Those tiny steps take us ever closer and closer to peace. Any history buff is going to tell you it's an unrealistic dream, there's never been complete peace in the world. True, as far as I can see. . . but as far as I can see, another truth is that working toward a peaceful world gives each of us a bit more peace, and how can that not be a good thing?

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today! -- from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s I Have a Dream speech

This is the portion of Dr. King's speech that some school age children and I memorized one winter at the daycare where I used to work. Those kids were amazing, not just memorizing this but talking about what it meant, too. It's been many years ago, but I still remember the joy I felt as they listened to the words as they recited them. My dream is that those children will someday live in a world where this speech is merely a memory of times gone by. . . see, there go those baby steps again! Little by little, small steps in daily life make a difference in our world.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Patience, Squishy Oatmeal, and Another Heart

Patience. I suppose there is something very appropriate about the fact that it takes a long time to learn patience, isn't there? I will be 42 very soon, and I still haven't learned to be patient in all situations. I have learned to be patient in traffic, since questioning the intelligence of the driver in front of you doesn't really do anything to raise his pitiable IQ-- it only serves to raise your own blood pressure. I have learned to be patient cooking bacon, since cranking up the burner pretty much guarantees charred bits of fat clinging to limp, still half raw meat-- and quite possibly a smoke alarm bleeping louder than your own cursing. I have learned to be patient while standing in line at the store, since taking over the cash register yourself or grabbing her purse and counting those last pennies for the frugal person who can't seem to find that 27th penny is generally frowned upon in civilized circles-- and it wouldn't matter, because the one time you did that would probably be the same time you forgot the one thing you had to have from the store, and there you'd be, wanting to say "wait a minute while I run back to the dairy case, pretty please".

I could tell you all of the situations which still try my patience, but I'm not sure either of us has the patience to write it all out or read it all once it is written!

One of those situations involves teaching children to have patience. Argh!! You just can't rush the acquirement of patience. . .and who am I, impatient still at my age, to expect a 5 or 6 year old to have a grasp on it?

So, what's my plan for teaching patience? Since leading by example isn't going to be enough of an example for them if I'm the example (didja catch all that?), then experience has to be the teacher here. Katie learned fairly early (since she was already bossy at a fairly early age) that if Mommy says the frozen waffles aren't quite toasted, then maybe you should be patient and wait instead of taking a bite of that soggy lukewarm Eggo Mommy retrieved from the oven just for you. She also learned that it's much better to change your idea of which pair of jeans is absolutely essential to wear today than to insist Mommy retrieve your favorites from the dryer "right now," since half-dried jeans really don't pull up very easily, if at all.

Do you know what has happened in the process of teaching impatient Kate to be patient Kate? James hasn't developed much patience. Another impatient question from me: When does a parent get to feel successful at parenting, temporary though it may be?? Anyway, this morning James learned to have patience when it comes to oatmeal, if not when it comes to anything else. We like steel cut oats, cooked with milk, mixed with a little brown sugar and cinnamon. Mmmmmm, don't like regular oatmeal at all, but steel cut oats fixed this way have a yummy "squishy" texture. Squishy is James' description, not sure it sounds yummy but they really do taste good if you let them cook long enough to reach this stage.

This morning, James learned that if Mom says the oatmeal is almost done but not quite ready, then the bowl she fixes for you ahead of everyone else's just might be a little less "squishy" than you like. It's edible, but not quite as enjoyable. He was quite happy to wait patiently while Mom finished cooking his oatmeal to the "squishy" stage.

I'm not sure there's a moral of the story today, since learning patience seems to be a lifelong struggle for some of us, but I can almost guarantee you this much: If my mom or dad read this, the next time I try to sneak a bowl of chili before it's simmered long enough or try to finish a project before the previous layer of paint has had time to cure, I will most certainly hear, "Patience, AnFaye, patience." :)

P.S. The sculpture in the picture will be in my Etsy shop later today, I'm having a little trouble being patient with the picture taking but I'm working on it. . .

Friday, January 18, 2008

Welcome to the World of the Scrap Heap Goddess

Good morning, and welcome inside the world of the scrap heap goddess. Hmm, better make sure you know I'm talking about the picture and not myself. . . scrap heap junkie, that I am quickly becoming, but I don't call myself a goddess ;) The scrap heap goddess may get a more dignified name after I take her pictures. I wrote the word "Re-Use" on her glass base because I was thinking in terms of "Reduce, Re-Use, and Recycle" when I began this project.

I am definitely in the "Re-Use" camp when it comes to optimizing Mother Earth's resources. I've learned to recycle, not a problem. I am learning to reduce my consumption of energy, materials, etc. I have to tell you, though, that neither of those brings me as much joy as finding a way to re-use something that's already been made and would otherwise find its way to a garbage can or scrap heap!

When it comes to clothes and household decorations, thrift stores and yard sales are the best (and most fun) sources for re-usable goods! Now, I have to admit that I don't do a lot of clothes shopping that way, just a little when the kids and I are in Kentucky with Grandma. Those adventures usually end up being treasure hunts for toys, and that's cool. Someday, when the kiddos are just a bit bigger and have a longer attention span for it, we'll do more looking at the clothes when we go yard-saling and thrift-shopping. For now, that's on the backburner, but it is so much fun to discover a brand new sweater laying on a yard sale table for $1 when the original tags are still on it. Ditto the fun thing when it comes to quickly scanning the rows of t-shirts in a thrift store and finding a funky design in your favorite color for a pittance.

When it comes to my art, I have become enamored of "shopping" in my dad's workshop. He and my brother both have five-gallon buckets in which they toss small rusty or non-usable (for what they need) pieces of metal. I've scavenged the teeth from a mowing machine. I've dug out a ziploc freezer bag full of still-sort-of-shiny washers from who knows what job. I've glommed onto bits of wire and old hinges. This is so much fun!

I'm really just getting started with the Re-Use projects. Heck, I think that might even be a possible name for them, "Re-Usables." Who knows where this will go?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What's on Your Kitchen Counter? or How a Broken Pizza Cutter Helped Me Make a Creative Decision

^ That's my kitchen counter this morning. I still haven't made that multi-media goddess because I couldn't make a decision-- rusty treasures or shiny treasures? The rusty things looked neat with the glass head, but I just didn't have enough of them in the right sizes to do the whole piece. So, I've been trying to mix rusty and shiny, and it wasn't clicking. I've got this whole big freezer bag full of washers that came from Bubby's junk bucket, and they've been shouting, "Oh, oh, pick us! Pick us!"

I still couldn't decide, though. . . until I broke the pizza cutter last night. Slapped that sucker down into the pizza, ready to rip through it like a pro. Apparently, if you're going to slap a pizza cutter down into crust over a period of six or seven years, you should either buy a commercial grade one or buy a backup. Eventually, one of those slaps will be the one that broke the pizza cutter's back.

But, get this, bummed as I was about having to wrestle the pizza with a steak knife, this fiasco did result in an "Aha!" moment.

Aha! That pizza cutter blade makes a perfect collar for my goddess!!

Ahem. I didn't break it on purpose.
I swear.
But I sure do wish I'd thought of it earlier in the week. . .
Then I would've broken it on purpose so I could finish this project!

Gotta go. Got a goddess to finish, mail to pick up, milk to buy, yada, yada, yada :)


Sorry...hit something I shouldn't have. Back soon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Something for Your Sweetheart. . . and Let's Talk about Gifts, 'kay?

Doesn't have to be for Valentine's Day, although it is a soulful heart. It could be a wedding gift; attach a note with the quote and wish them this kind of future together. It could be an anniversary gift; attach a note with the quote and thank her for this kind of past, present, and future. . . or attach a note with the quote and congratulate them on this kind of past, present, and future.

Just an idea from your friendly neighborhood glass sculptor, the one who also loves to think up wonderful gifts. You know, the one who could be enticed to include some special gift wrapping for your sweetheart if you ask.

Okay, you know I have to all out promote my goods every once in a while ;).
So, now that's done, let's talk. Let's talk about gifts, 'kay? Let's talk about what makes a gift special, or not so special as the case may be. Husbands, boyfriends, significant others, please take note. Of course, you don't have to have a Y chromosome to read this and learn, and I do realize that in some alternate universe where I don't live there are perfectly thoughtful gift-giving males. No disrespect to them! I know they are out there, I've heard stories and even had one or two buy beadalinas for their sweeties because that was something she would like! For those of you who can use a few tips, though, let's pick a proposed "gift" and discuss when it is or is not acceptable, 'kay?

Let's go extravagant for the first example. How about a car?
A car is a perfectly acceptable gift in these cases:
  • You make enough money to buy it and outright give it to her.
  • You buy the car of her dreams.

A car is not a perfectly acceptable gift in these cases:
  • You buy it, then she has to work extra hours to help make the payments.
  • You buy an ugly poop-brown rickety Gremlin from the 1970's and offer to give it to her, even though you know she's a Camaro or Chevy 2 or Chevelle kinda girl who really detests Gremlins and Pacers.

Next example, let's go with jewelry, just because some women really like to receive pretty baubles (you can tell I'm not one of those, since I said "pretty baubles" instead of "fine quality diamonds and gemstones". But we are each different, and that's part of today's lesson-- pay attention to her likes and dislikes, ya dig?). Here we go.
Jewelry is a perfectly acceptable gift in these cases:
  • She really likes to wear diamonds or gemstones, and you picked one of her favorites.
  • You looked at several jewelry displays, and finally found a piece that you thought would look gorgeous on her. . .and you tell her why you picked it when you give it to her.
Jewelry is not a perfectly acceptable gift in these cases:
  • She doesn't wear jewelry because she knows she tends to lose it or break it; you know for a fact that she only wears one piece of jewelry, an indestructible thick wide band that's a combination wedding band/mother's ring with no stones.
  • You were desperately seeking a last minute Valentine's gift on your way home from work, and K-Mart was having a clearance sale so you grabbed something in a pretty box and hoped for the best.

One more example, 'kay? Let's talk about the gift of which jokes are made, the vacuum cleaner.
A vacuum cleaner is a perfectly acceptable gift in these cases:
  • She asked you for a specific make and model of vacuum cleaner because she really wants it.
  • You insist on giving practical gifts, you got a great deal once you figure in the rebate, and (pay close attention here) you don't mind sleeping on the couch for the next week or so.

A vacuum cleaner is not a perfectly acceptable gift in these cases:
  • Any time except when she specifically asked you for a vacuum cleaner for a gift. . .c'mon, get real, man, it's a vacuum cleaner!

That's all for today. Just a side note, all situations above are merely hypothetical. . .just in case my husband decides to read my blog and sees this :) In fact, some of those examples really are just examples, I'm just not saying which ones!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Little Reminder about Life and Perfection

Metamorphosis: Wings Unfurl

Heaven, Lord, Mother, Whoever Is On My Watch Today, please help me remember that life is a gradual process and that instant perfection is not attainable unless you happen to be omnipotent. . . and I am only human. I grow in increments, and I can greet each new day, each new week, each new season, as a fresh beginning if my soul chooses.

Monday, January 14, 2008

It Was "Wicked Awesome"-- We Saw a Bald Eagle Along the Mississippi!

Yesterday's drive turned into an adventure along the portion of the Great River Road near Alton, Illinois. Our first stop in the late afternoon was the Melvin Price Lock and Dam, where we ambled around inside the National Great Rivers Museum, gawking at the displays and pushing all the interactive buttons. Kate and James and Ricky went into the tugboat wheelhouse to try their hand at navigating a virtual barge down the river, while I kept peering at the seagulls "surfing" the winds inside the lock.

Funny how you can try to impress upon kids the specialness of an experience, but they take away what they want to remember. My children couldn't stop talking about the forty cent postcards I let them choose from the gift shop. They both chose the trio of baby raccoons, and carefully placed them inside the library books we'd brought along for the ride! They were busy making up stories about "their" raccoons talking to the bald eagles in the books when we saw an eagles' nest right along the highway! It was huge, with the "twigs" being more like branches from a medium size tree!

We drove a little further and took a quick peek at the Piasa bird painted on the bluffs, then headed farther up the river in hopes of seeing an eagle at dusk. Lots of beautiful vistas, lots of wide expanse of river, but no bald eagles.

No bald eagles until we turned around, headed back toward Interstate 64 so we could be on our way home. That's when we noticed a car stopped along the roadside. The bald eagle was perched in the top branches of a tall tree by the river, and it was a majestic bird. A juvenile bald eagle, brown feathers and all, was soaring between the bluffs and the tree. It was a wondrous sight.

Now, if you've seen something like this before, it might seem like old hat, like I am exaggerating the excitement. It's true, what we are accustomed to seeing doesn't evoke much spine-tingling excitement. The new, the rare, the unusual, that's what produces exclamations of wonder. I was hoping yesterday's experience wouldn't be relegated to a blase' memory for my children, so this morning I was pleased by James' reply when I asked them, "Wasn't that really cool yesterday, seeing that bald eagle in the tree by the river?"

My son's reply describes it well, "Mom, it wasn't just cool, it was WICKED AWWWWWESOME!"

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More Scraps. . .and Where Did the Sun Go??

More scraps laying on the kitchen counter with another piece of glass :)
I really like the rusty scraps, but these shiny ones are calling me, saying "Why don't you like us? There's an entire bag of us! Just think about the possibilities! Forget about those rusty things, come play with us!"

The glass piece is another head-- surprise, surprise, Angie made something with a face on it, heehee. You know, sometimes I try to make other things, but the faces almost always find a way to sneak back into whatever I'm making. Anyway, what you can see of this one is the back of her head and crown. The crown has a couple of loops for attaching something, as well as a slot between the loops. . . and there in lies the quandary. What shall I put in her crown? Rusty? Shiny? Both?

In any case, a Sunday drive is on the agenda, so all of this stuff will wait on the kitchen counter until tomorrow. Time to incubate and percolate! Looks like yesterday's sunshine has hidden again, so it'll be a good day for thinking while riding.

So, there's my little scrap of bloggin' for today. . .thanks for dropping by to see me!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Hannah Montana of the Webkinz World Gives a Concert in Our Living Room

These are the stuffed animal fans, waiting patiently for Hannah Montana to take the stage. The stage was built by Katie using an old comforter stretched across a t.v. tray table and a few chairs. She also had me write "Hannah Montana" in big puffy letters so she could color it to look like lights!

And, heeeeeeeeeeeere she is, "Hannah Montana" of the Webkinz world, complete with fake yellow wig made of paper:

Heehee, don't ya love it?? Kate wanted me to make a Hannah Montana wig, but I insisted that she had to try it first. In the end, all I did was cut the holes for Katlyn's ears.

It's true, my kids get to watch too much television. I have to say that I don't think it's been entirely bad, though. They take the stories from the shows on Nick and Disney and use them as a springboard for all sorts of elaborate play with all their stuffed animals cast as characters. Then, they add more characters, and the stories evolve. So, for us, anyway, it's not a damper on imagination.

What it does do is create too much interest in material possessions. These kids are seriously spoiled, by their parents, by their families, by friends. No blame here, it's just reality. Who wants to always give a kid something practical for a gift instead of a toy? We spend a lot of time talking about how lucky they are, and about how there are kids in this world who don't have a house or enough food. That's the serious aspect.

Now, let me tell you about the funny part. My son has always been fascinated with commercials. He watches all of the commercials, and I don't mean just all of the toy commercials. He watches the informercial type ones, too. Good grief, that boy has suggested that his father might want to get that new NutriSystem plan for men! He's told me all the benefits of Debbie's Green Bags for keeping produce fresh. . . and my personal favorite, when I was feeling bad last fall, he suggested that I might want to get LifeAlert for when he and Kate are away at school and I'm here alone like an old lady! Okay, I admit to being seriously offended when he first said it, but now I laugh :)

In fact, I'm thinking I have a budding television producer and a budding set designer/all-around-artist growing up here! That's what's fun about watching kids grow, you just never know where they'll take you. . .

Friday, January 11, 2008

Fuzzy Pink Slippers, Downbound Trains, and Bald Eagles

My children were awake before six o'clock this morning!! Now, the preferred mommy routine involves a wee bit of time to myself to quietly sip my coffee and maybe begin my post here for the day. Please forgive me for being particular and selfish about this, but I'd rather not start discussing Webkinz until I've had caffeine. Two reindeer, two dalmations, a white terrier, and a gorilla are all well and good (in stuffed animal form, not real ones!), but not until I've had a moment to put in my contacts, maybe go pee, and possibly turn on the kitchen lights.

Ah, but I managed to switch gears pretty quickly this morning. The kiddos and I grabbed books to read for a little while before we got up to get them ready for school. James wanted to read The Cheese by Margie Palatini. It's all about the Farmer in the Dell, except instead of letting the cheese stand alone as the song says, the rat wants to eat the cheese!

Kate and I grabbed Eagle & Birds of Prey by Jemima Parry-Jones, and we all three quickly began oohing and aahing at the majestic eagles and falcons. . . as well as ewwwwwwwwww-ing at the ugly, ugly baby owlets and baby falcons and the equally ugly grownup vultures. Okay, some owlets are ugly in a cute kinda way, as are some vultures. Others? Well, still not cute by any stretch. Oh, and the osprey with the garden snake hanging out of his beak? Double ewwwwwwww!

So, that takes care of the bald eagles mentioned in the title of today's post, but what about fuzzy pink slippers and downbound trains? Well, the gray bead/sculpture has been vexing me as I try to find a background that will really make it stand out in the picture. White? Nah, still too blah. Gray on gray? Think not. When what should I stumble across but Katie's fuzzy pink slippers-- aha! Might not do for my gallery pages or for Etsy, but by gosh, it'll sure add some pop to the blog this morning! Oh, and "Downbound Train" is the Springsteen song I was listening to yesterday as I made this melancholy but mesmerizing piece of glass. "She just said, Joe, I gotta go. We had it once, we ain't got it anymore. . . " "Last night I heard your voice, you were crying crying, you were so alone, you said your love had never died, you were waiting for me at home..." Oh, Bruce's voice sounds so haunting throughout this song, and that's the feeling I hoped to put into this girl.

There ya have it, my Friday morning :)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I May Need to Put a Handle on This and Use It. . .

Hey, Joan, you are about to get a big box of glass scraps to use for your enameling and any fusing experiments! Sometime in the next few days, I have to clean off my worktable or I won't have any more room for my trusty butter knife and other sculpting tools!

A huge shovel might be the quickest way to accomplish the deed, too. Stringer, stringer scraps, bits of cracked glass, short ends of rods that I'm too lazy to fuse together so I can use them down to the tiniest nubs. . . it's all there, on top of my beautiful stainless steel counter, making it hard to find a place to lay down a hot rod while torching.

Different day, same song from me. I'm an un-reformable slob, and I may get a little better over the years but will always be messy. Hmmmm, talk about learning to accept yourself. I know me, and I know what might change and what likely won't change :)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Library Book, a Goddess, and a String of Shells

This is Nu Wa, ancient Chinese goddess of creation.
I found her story in a short paragraph of a children's library book. This world wide web and the local public library are tied as the best sources of inspiration, if you ask me. The best section of the library for unearthing interesting stories accompanied by gorgeous illustrations is the juvenile section of the children's books. There is where you'll find books packed with short bursts of information and magical drawings that illustrate the information.

The idea for this sculpture came from one of those library books,
Goddess A World of Myth and Magic by Burleigh Muten. Nu Wa was an ancient Chinese goddess who created the mountains and trees and then a tiny statue of herself. When she placed her miniature amidst the trees and mountains, it came to life and called her "Mother." Nu Wa quickly made more humans, taking care to make an equal number of males and females so they could multiply. This is why she also is known as the goddess of matchmaking and marriage.

Nu Wa's sacred animal is the snail, according to her story in that library book. This reminded me that I had three or four different strings of shells stored with my craft stuff. The shells on one of those strings have a spiral shape like a nautilus or a snail shell. Actually, I'm not sure if they are either one, but they just seemed appropriate for Nu Wa's hair decoration! I really like the end result, and I hope you enjoyed hearing more about how she was created :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Zen, Motorcycle Maintenance, Technology, & Me

After all these years, I've finally decided to read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Persig. It was written way back in 1974, so I know I've heard the title many times in my life. Every time I hear it, I am intrigued. I've never done very much delving into zen thinking, though, and actually riding motorcycles have never been my thing (they definitely have an aura of coolness, though!). This would be why I shrugged off the idea of reading this book for a good twenty years.

I finally bought the book over Christmas, deciding I would learn something about zen or motorcycles or both. Guess what? It's really a book about philosophy, told in novel style. I haven't read it all yet, but one part so far really struck a chord with me.

The part that struck me was not a particularly deep part of the story. Well, the discussion gets deep, but the draw is the difference of opinions about technology between the narrator and his friend. Technology should be my friend, it really should. . . but it is not. Co-worker, assistant, yes. Friend, no. I am trying to change that, yes, definitely trying. I learn to do things on the computer as needed. I am starting to just use tools, instead of always asking my dad to grind this or cut that. Baby steps, baby steps, but steps, nonetheless.

So, I am calling for a more hospitable truce between me and technology. I will give it a bit more respect (ie, maybe not use as many curse words?), and I will keep trying to learn its ways. That's where the sculpture in the picture comes into play. I wanted it to flow like a waterfall, and I wanted it to create a visual relationship between the spirits/faces and the recycled rusty things used to hold it. It is called Cascade of Spirits: An Industrial GlassFall.

As usual, however, technology is baffling me. I really am working on getting pictures of the whole thing! I just can't seem to make my camera "see" what I see, can't get the 360 degree view to pop out from the two-dimensional photos. . . Back to work for me, and hopefully, more pictures for you later :)

Monday, January 7, 2008

One Mask Project for Today...Shades of Phantom of the Opera

Now, it's true that this mask is not literally like the one on the Phantom of the Opera. . .still, it's got me thinking more in terms of mysteries than Mardi Gras.
I'll be working on it this week. I like the idea that I can dangle things from the mask since I put a single hole on each side.
Now, the coffee is almost gone from my cup, the kiddos need to wake up, and I think I ought to not take them to school without replacing my pajamas with real clothes!
Yep, another quick blog entry and a wave to ya!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Begon-with-ya, Winter!

You shouldn't wish away time, you can never get it back. . . I understand this, I really do, and it becomes even clearer to me with each passing year.

But I want some sunshine, and I'm already tired of winter!!

That's all for now :)
Talk to ya later.
Have a wonderful Sunday!
Summer will be here before we know it :)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Crack Happens...At Least It's Not Plumber's Crack!

Glass crack happens when you try to make something that's bigger than what you have the ability to keep warm. This flowing girl would've been 5 inches tall, and I gotta tell ya that sometimes your failures mean as much to you as your successes. Sound kinda crazy? Not really, not if you know what it means to stretch yourself and reach for new goals. For me, a failure that's 5 inches tall is a big leap from this time last year when my failures might've been 2 1/2 or 3 inches tall. Now, I can easily do those "smaller" sculptures without much effort. What I mean is that the constant rotation of the glass glob while I'm working on it comes naturally now for these smaller pieces. The larger pieces are stretching me, but I can do them. I'll just have a higher percentage of failures until I've practiced more. That's how you grow, doesn't matter what skills we're talking about! Now, it does hurt my pride to show you my failures, but it's also true that I love to talk and show my glass. . . so how can I leave out these steps? Okay, enough philosophizing, there are kids to be fed and glass to be melted and it's time for me to get on it! If you'd like to see more of my adventure with the rusty treasures and glass, click here or on the pictures above to go to that page in my gallery.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Spinning into Infinity. . .aka Do I Really Need Another Project That I Don't Know How to Do??

Hey, everybody, how's your week been? I don't know about you, but I'm still catching up on non-holiday stuff! Let me tell you, today is the first day in two weeks that I might get to torch, and I am ready to melt glass!

I also think I need to finally figure out how to do what I want to do with this Spinning into Infinity trio. Hmmmm, I think Bubby sent me in the right direction when he told me to check the hobby shop in E'town, but they no longer carried the spinning displays. Now, I'm thinking in terms of music boxes. We'll just see what happens (and when). . .

Now, before I go, here's a sprinkling of quotes that some wonderful glass peeps have collected:

Leonard Pitts Jr wrote in an editorial about an old man dancing, at a wedding I think: "In my notes, I wrote that he danced as if his bones were made of joy. Which strikes me as the only way to dance."

“Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people” - Eleanor Roosevelt

On the bathroom walls at Wal-mart or in the subway in New York.
The very funniest of which was "Grout writers write very small!"

I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalog: "No good in a bed, but fine against a wall." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

More to come on another day, peeps! Gotta get some things done iffen I wanna ever play with fire and molten glass today!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Ka-Pow! What a Burst of Summer!

I positively refuse to check the outside temperature just yet. Instead, I think I'll gander once again at this lovely intensely violet purple dahlia from my mom's garden this past summer.
Ka-POW, it seems to say on this cold winter day!

Here's another Ka-POW, a quote from Martha Graham that BeadRaven Lauren likes. I like it alot, too!

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium-- the world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. ----Martha Graham

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I Don't Care Where This Pleasant Road Is Going...

"I don't care where this pleasant road is going."
-- a quoted by Lea Zinke

On New Year's Eve, I asked some online friends for their favorite places to find inspirational and motivational quotes. You see, I'm one of those people who loves pens and paper so much that I like to either make or decorate my own calendar. . . and it doesn't have to be for the beginning of a new year, sometimes I just get a new notebook and pens and doodle away, happily making my own combination calendar/to-do list. This time I bought an actual calendar/planner and want to fill it with quotes and doodles and ramblings and such. Thanks to BeadRaven Lauren, now I have some more sites to delve into for great quotes, and I will be sharing them with you on another day.

Today, though, this quote of Lea's is tugging on the elbow of my writing muse, insisting on just a little bit of attention!

I don't care where this pleasant road is going.

Isn't that a wonderful, carefree way to look at the world? Where does that thought take you? Me? It takes me back to my early twenties and an ivy green-gold Camaro that was almost as old as I was. The feeling in that simple V-6 version of a boy's muscle car was still one of power and freedom, but in a more open and feminine way, now that I think about it. Sitting low in the seat, surrounded by that soft ivy color interior and the glow of sunshine diffusing through the wide expanse of windows, driving along the interstate on a summer day, listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival or maybe the Cardinals game as I got closer to Illinois, I was simply enjoying that pleasant road.

I don't care where this pleasant road is going. . . Sitting at the kitchen table with James and Kate, our fresh new notebooks and calendars open, looking for the "five silly scents fun-smelling markers" in the brand new pack of 20 Crayola markers, explaining the meaning of Memorial Day and Labor Day, marking birthdays in June and May, drawing scrolling vines and plush flowers along the border of the first page of January, watching Kate color the flowers she wanted drawn in her notebook, laughing at James' delight in knowing his birthday falls on a holiday, I was simply enjoying that pleasant road.

I don't care where this pleasant road is going. . . sitting in the porch swing at Grandma and Granddaddy's, scooching over to make room for Susie and Rose and Doris Jean and maybe William Lee, swinging high as we can, singing "Let Me Be There" or "Delta Dawn" at the top of our lungs as we stand up on the "stage" made by the wide porch rail, I was simply enjoying that pleasant road.

I don't care where this pleasant road is going. . . wonder where it will take me today?