Thursday, April 30, 2009

Puddle City and "The Ditch Kids"

One spring a few years ago, probably right after the kids and I "retired" from the daycare job, I noticed boys in rubber boots trudging down our road to the creek. They'd be carrying buckets but no fishing poles, so my best guess was that they were hunting crawdads. Another thing I noticed was their footwear, which was not typical for modern day kids but did jog memories from my childhood. The boys were wearing rubber boots like the ones in this picture.

For some reason, I thought those boots, especially the green version with yellow trim, were made for sloshing through shhhhh, um, sludge in barnyards. It never dawned on me that you could buy them at Wal-Mart or that they are available in kid and adult sizes. Aha! What a revelation when I did discover them at our Wal-Mart! We got a pair for Kate, a pair for James, a pair for me, and even a pair for our niece Victoria. Woooooooohooooooooooo! Do you know how much fun it is to ramble through the backyard and down the edges of the neighbor's field, hunting for giant puddles, sloshing and stomping through the water, and occasionally getting a boot suction-stuck in the mud?

We haven't gotten the boots on our feet yet this spring (although the ones in the pic are really ours, and the puddle is one that always forms at the end of the driveway). Today looks like it could be the day to play in what I think could be called Puddle City! Okay, so Irvington, population 800 on a busy afternoon, is not technically a city, but that could still be a terrific nickname for our little town.

Yep, Puddle City, home of "The Ditch Kids." You see, the story goes that two teachers from our little town were both teaching at a school in the bigger town nearby (population 12,000, which is really oh so much bigger, wink). Mrs. Bennett told me that she and Mrs. Obermeier would inevitably mention the Irvington kids' ditch explorations every spring. One year, as signs of spring became apparent, one of the other teachers asked the Irvington women whether or not "the ditch kids" were out yet. What a perfectly wonderful, absolutely descriptive name for it! If I had the patience to write chapter books, I'd be all over that title! Can't you just see it?

The Ditch Kids and Their Puddle Town Adventures
Speaking of children's book adventures, James and Kate and I started reading Roald Dahl's The BFG last night. Oh, my, oh, my, we are going to have fun with that story! James actually guessed that BFG stood for Big Friendly Giant, and Kate giggled through the descriptions of how human beans taste, even though she didn't "get" all of the jokes.
Well, time for me to do a few more things and contemplate whether our afternoon should involve rubber boots and puddles or a quick trip out of town to the nearest Lowe's or both :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Egad, it's past sunrise, but the clouds have blocked the sun. Let me save you the trouble of turning on the television to check the news. I will gladly interpret this morning's surprise event from both the liberal and conservative points of view.

Conservative Pundit Poobah Report: The American people are shocked to find that the sun is not shining this morning. In yet another attempt to throw up a smokescreen around the real issues, the Administration has orchestrated this cloud cover. More later on the real story today, once we latch onto it.

Liberal La-La Report: It's astounding! From where I'm standing, you can not see the sun this morning! We are told that the President has been awakened, informed of the situation, and assigned a task force to study this perilous situation. More later on the miraculous recovery we expect to see once the government steps into action and approves a new spending bill with a katrillion dollars earmarked for making the clouds go away.

I have had enough from both sides. Get over yourselves, and report the news from an objective viewpoint, please.
Thank you.
Feel free to go on about your business. I don't really expect my little rant to change anything.
If you frequent any non-political forums and you are the people (both conservatives and liberals) who keep sneaking sly political remarks and campaigns into everyday threads, please quit. It's taking up a lot of my time, this clicking on threads you start and checking to see if you've finally given up on the political gouging ;-)
Another P.S.
This one is for the person who has obviously decided I need someone to personally interpret all these rantings and tell me what I think about them. I think for myself. In case you've never noticed, you and I do agree on many points but disagree on the way they are presented and/or the specific reasons behind the outcomes. You aren't going to change me into your political clone, and I am not going to change you into someone who can weigh all sides of an issue ( <--snark! couldn't help myself!).

Monday, April 27, 2009

5 Things-- Just Write 1,2,3,4,5 Things!

Lunch break. Drove home to raid the fridge for leftovers (made a BBQ chicken sandwich). Think, yet again, that I need to write something, anything, for the blog before I completely forget how to post an entry. Not a single thing has tripped my creative writing trigger in the last few days, not one single thing.
Sandy Wright's third and fourth graders don't know that, though. I just insisted that they write, yes, actually move their pencils and write, during their entire creative writing session. Hmmph. Guess you know that makes words like "hypocrite" and "those who can't, teach" run through my head right about now.
Without further ado or whining, I shall now write, just write, five things. Ready? Here we go :)
  1. The lonely torch sighs as the oxygen and propane course through its hoses. Finally, a human has remembered to light the flame and melt glass. The kiln winks at the torch, sharing a metallic high five! (I torched for the first time in what seemed like weeks yesterday...)
  2. Mrs. Bradham is retiring at the end of the school year. I am so glad my children had her to teach them. Strict and "100 percent all about school" would be adjectives they've uttered, but I think they already know it been a good foundation.
  3. Chocolate chip cookies do not have to be homemade to make your taste buds smile.
  4. Dragons are not overrated, just under-seen. The sky looks like one could come swooping down from behind the clouds at any moment. I'd like to see a benevolent Eastern dragon with sparkling scales, trailing silk ribbons and flickering flames.
  5. Wonder if that extra fizzing sensation from drinking a bit of Diet Coke after eating chocolate chip cookies is meant to be a deterrent to eating more sweets. Blech.
Alright, that's five, and I gotta get back to school!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

You Are Weaving Part of Someone's Tapestry, Whether You Know It or Not

This great tapestry of humanity is woven from the miniscule stitches made every second of the day. Where the patterns have divided, they can just as easily converge again with the tiniest stitch. Whether or not you realize it, your actions today have woven new stitches, created the beginnings of new patterns, added the finishing flair to old patterns, and strengthened the entire tapestry.

With this in mind, I ask the fates to guide my hand so that I only add stitches to the tapestry and very rarely cause someone to want to rip out the day's stitches and start over :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

WooooooooooBaby! Celebrate! Earth Day, Comin' Up!

Macy and Katie felt the urge to paint this afternoon, so I let them dig through the drawers of acrylic paints and pick their own palettes. They went for the brights, the pinks, the purples, the pretties. My favorite part of Katie's paint palette is the swirled blues and greens, definitely nice for representing the Earth :)

This is Macy's palette of colors. Gotta love the way she mixed bright pink and plain orange to make superatomicbrightandlively orange.

Kate's painting for wrapping around her recycled planting container. The kids are all supposed to bring a milk jug or tin can to use for planting some seeds tomorrow. Kate and Macy plan on using their recycled pieces of brown paper bag to decorate their containers.

Macy's Earth Day painting includes a cute touch-- the "y" at the end of "day" is heart shaped.
James has been busy avoiding the presence of the girls, so no Earth Day painting from him yet. In about an hour and a half, we'll all leave for the movies. Katie, Macy, Aleah, and I are going to see the Hannah Montana movie, while James, Dylan, Justin, and Ricky are going to watch Monsters versus Aliens. Guess I'd better get back to macaroni and cheese making. . .gots some hungry children waiting on hot dogs and mac 'n cheese. Hmmph, not to mention the boy versus girls battles that require my services as referee! Toodles for now!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Spring 1971

This morning finds me digging through stashes of stuff, searching for goodies to use in my fortune teller booth at the school carnival, detouring through old photographs, lost in the remember-when's.
By the way, rejoice with me, fellow packrats, for I found a stash of upholstery material that will do nicely for the fortune teller's booth :) Now, to scrounge around some more and find the "bones" that will hold it all up. Hmm, gotta think on that one.
The thing is, thinking is not really what I want filling my agenda today. We have looked at houses, discussed good points and bad points of each repeatedly this weekend. We have discussed politics this weekend, repeatedly alternating between preaching to the choir and giving the other person up for completely lost in the wrong opinions. . . all of which led me to print out and read copies of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and rest of the Amendments. Thinking is my usual mode of operating, quite often to my detriment, you might argue. Today I crave a fluffy little break :)
That's where the old pictures come into play. The one above had to be taken in the spring of 1971 because the baby that Tommy is holding is my little brother. William Lee was born in October of 1970, so that helps date the picture. The other little boy in overalls is Tommy's brother, William Kelly. Thirty-eight years later, both the brothers in overalls are gone. That part is sad, but the memories of playing in that driveway, running around that house, and venturing into the big barn at the end of the driveway are all happy (well, except for the time the rooster tree-ed me and wouldn't let me get past him and back to the house). The tallest girl, the cutie in the red dress with white ruffles, is my cousin Doris Jean. The littlest girl is my sister, and this could possibly be the last known picture of her wearing a dress, LOL! That's me on the end, long hair and short dress.
Guess that's why we take pictures, knowing the tiny square time capsule will be a good remedy for a blah mood someday, huh? I'm sure in a much better mood :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Saturday...In the Yard

Cat. (text added)
Sidewalk chalk. (solarized picture)

Pansy. (fish-eyed)
Hubby in the "library". Boy child reading a Star Wars book. Girl child zonked out on the couch. Mom coffee-ed up but still not ready to get into thinking mode. Hope your day is a great one!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Making Faces

Here are the basic steps to sculpting a face using any kind of media that allows you to build a sculpture instead of carve it. Be forewarned that I know diddlysquat about clay and just used air dry modeling clay yesterday with the kids at school. . . I wasn't about to take my big girl torch to school and be the volunteer who set something afire, LOL. The clay faces everyone made may or may not hold up, but everyone stretched their imagination and worked their fingers and funny bones! I did let the 7th and 8th graders experiment with melting glass stringers with a candle flame, and everyone tried rotating a glob of honey on the end of a straw to simulate melting glass on a mandrel in the flame. The favorite art quote was definitely Michelangelo's "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." My favorite question of the day came from a kindergarten kiddo who was fascinated with the whole glass bead thing. Logan kept asking me throughout the class, "But when are you going to change the clay into glass??"
Step 1: Keep in mind the basic proportions of a face. This guideline is used by artists who draw people and characters. We tested this guideline by running a finger from one of our ears to the other, and the kids were amazed to find that the bottom of their noses fell right along that line. The reason I try to remember this guideline, even though you can look at all my glass faces and see that I never get it right, is that it's a reference point. For instance, when I'm wondering where to place the ears along the side of a face, I remember, "Oh, yeah, the tops of the ears usually start around the same area as the eyebrows, and the bottom of the ears line up with the bottom of the nose."
Step 2: Roll your material into a big ball (or make a big bead on the mandrel), then flatten it into a tab shape.

Step 3: Add a ball of material for each cheek, making sure to smooth it into the face to create cheekbones. Add a cigar shape that's fatter at the lower end to make your nose. If you like nostrils for the nose, you can push the material inward at an angle towards the cheek. You can also add a small ball of material on each side of the bottom of the nose, blending and shaping it into flared nostrils.

Step 4: Add eyes, either by adding and shaping another ball of material or by making a crease above the apple of the cheek to represent the eyes.

Step 5: Make a football shape of material for the mouth. Blend it into the face, and then shape the lips by making a crease across the middle of the football. If you want a bigger smile, push the lower lip downward into a U shape.

Step 6: Add hair or ears or whatever floats your boat! My favorite additions made by kids yesterday included pigtails and feathers to make an Indian chief (we are the Irvington Indians).

MOST IMPORTANT RULE: Rules are meant to be considered and then broken when necessary! My favorite rule-breaking yesterday came from a sixth grader who made a Cyclops instead of a face with two eyes :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How to Make a Face-- the Preparation

Whew! No nightmares last night about missed college assignment deadlines! "Hey, wait a minute, Ang," you say, "didn't you graduate college in 1988?" Yes. Yes, I did. However, yesterday's to-do list threw me into a time warp, right back to my procrastination glory days during freshman year. Okay, quit snickering, I know I've always been a procrastination queen. Freshman year was simply my peak! I'd write English 101 compositions at the breakfast table . . . and my class was an early one, say 8:30a.m. Some of those essays were my best ever, wish I had saved them. Ah, but they did not come easy if you consider how I spent the time from the assignment of the topic until the actual writing of it. I did a lot of "writing" in my head, erasing and re-writing, thinking and re-thinking, searching for the perfect opening line, constructing a meaningful outline, letting the whole mess percolate at the back of my mind while doing other things. When absolutely no ideas were appearing, I'd take advantage of the dormitory's seemingly unlimited supply of hot water and stand under the steaming stream of water in hopes that one of those drops would beat some sense (or ideas) into my noggin.

You ask again, "Why would you be thinking about all that?" It's yet another convoluted story from me, don't ya know :) I was working on an art class lesson all day, kept stumbling over finding the right outline, and figured the whole thing would trigger one of those OMG-I-forgot-to-drop-the-class-and-now-I-have-to-take-the-final-exam nightmares. I get those occasionally, even now. The art lesson in question is for a visit to the art classes at James and Kate's school today. I'll be in visiting the art teacher's room and doing an activity with all the classes. What an opportunity to share a love of creating things! What an opportunity to talk about rules and why some of them are meant to be broken! What an opportunity to talk about discovering yourself and not being afraid to try new things! What an opportunity to talk about all the colors and patterns and magnificence of nature, let alone humanity's embellishments of it!

What a windbag I must be if I thought I could fit all that and more into one 35 minute session, LOL! Good grief! I've spent the last month mulling over all these thoughts from time to time, trying to make an outline. Ha! Thank goodness, I'd already bought some air dry modeling clay to use with them, because the outline has finally been narrowed down to "How to Make a Face Bead". Actually, that might even be narrowed down even further to "How to Make a Face." After a trial run with James and Kate last night, I'm thinking a small face bead might be a bit too involved for small hands. . .but small hands could probably navigate the task on a slightly bigger scale. With a slightly larger than focal bead size clump of clay, it'll be easier to smooth in cheeks and add eyes and noses.

Ahem. Rule Number 1-- follow some rules until you need to change them!

Speaking of rules and such, here are a few quotes I found and pasted onto today's handout (yeah, literally, with Elmer's, because I don't know how to add sideways quotes along a margin surrounding the main text):

  • He who has imagination without learning has wings but no feet. --Joseph Joubert
  • I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. --Michelangelo
  • Nothing encourages creativity like the chance to fall flat on one's face. --James D. Finley
  • What art offers is space-- a certain breathing room for the spirit. --John Updike
  • Art is the colors and textures of your imagination. -- Meghan, Los Cerros Middle School student, 1999
  • I found I could say things with colors and shapes that I couldn't say any other way- things I had no words for. --Georgia O'Keeffe
  • When my daughter was about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college- that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared at me, incredulous, and said, "You mean they forget?" -- Howard Ikemoto
  • All art requires courage. -- Anne Tucker

Whoops! 6:45a.m. ! Looks like I'm running out of time this morning, so I'll attempt to share the "How to Make a Face" outline and pictures with you in tomorrow's post :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Little Bunny Foo Foo. . .

What gets brought home to Grandma's stays at Grandma's :)
Meet HashBrown and Thumper.

Grandma's Easter Egg tree and animated bunny rabbits liven up the stove and coffee table.

Another pretty Easter trinket.

My sister-- steadfastly ignoring me and my camera!

Yummmmm! Coconut cake!

Monday, April 13, 2009

What Do You Love About a New Pair of Shoes?

What do you love about a new pair of shoes? The visual stimulation of a bit of sparkly embroidery on the toes? Lacing a pair of boots for the first time? Pulling the wadded up tissue paper out of the toes so you can try on the shoe? Walking a little stiltedly across the floor of the store, afraid of scuffing up the soles even though you're on carpet and only taking five steps? Taking the new shoes out of the box when you get home, pausing only long enough to bring in the frozen groceries before you stick those new shoesies on your tootsies?
I think my favorite is the moment you get dressed and finish your outfit with a new pair of shoes. You already know I'm not a fashionista or a shopaholic, so this is not akin to delicately tugging on the Jimmy Choo's and clicking down the hallway as you straighten the collar of your new blouse. This is more like putting on the jeans, finding a shirt that doesn't have writing across the front (I do love me some t-shirts), and adding a finishing touch of never been scuffed on the toe yet shoes (I happen to be one of those people who walks funny and drags the toes of their shoes, don't ask how, just know it isn't likely to change after 43 years of walking this way). The newness delights me, even if not another soul on the planet notices I've got something different on my soles.
This pair of Born sandals is courtesy of my Mom and Dad, errrrr, I mean the Easter Bunny gave each of us shoe money. The kiddos went shoe shopping with Grandma, and I hopped myself to Shoe Carnival to browse the clearance racks and drool over the new sandals. I spied a pair of Clarks lingering in the clearance rack, tried on everything from Skechers to Naturalizers to Bare Traps, and then left the store empty-handed, not sure I could decide on a single pair. Moseying on down the shopping center sidewalk and into T.J.Maxx, I found myself wishing I hadn't turned into a non-shopaholic. My, my, my, it is fun to ramble down an aisle full of pretty shoes, each pair slightly different from the others and all of them with a bit of a fancy personality. Going shoe shopping at Wally-World is like grabbing your tried and true favorite candy bar at the checkout, while going shoe shopping in a department store is like ogling all the jars of candies in a candy store and having to finally just choose one!
So, I chose these Born sandals because they were the only pair like them in the sizes 7 thru 8's, because they have a funky look that makes them a little bit more complicated than a ninety-nine cent pair of flipflops, and because my subconscious must have also loved pastel color double knit polyester leisure suits with dark thread seams. These babies feel good to my tootsies, too.
Now, if I could only get Mother Nature to answer my requests for a couple of warmer days so I can wear my new sandals. . .I really don't think blue, frostbitten toes would go well with the ivory leather, ya know?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Egg Hunt, the Boy Way. . .Easter Egg Hunt, the Girl Way

Easter Egg Hunt, the Boy Way: Carefully line up the eggs from your basket, then count your haul.

Easter Egg Hunt, the Girl Way: Gently toss eggs onto the fluffy spring grass, counting each one as it is tossed.

Hope you and your family have had a wonderful Easter holiday! The kids and I have been enjoying ourselves at Grandma and Granddaddy's for a long weekend. Back soon with more pics (of not one, but two new a few more pretty pics).

Thursday, April 9, 2009

S-s-s-s-Sonic S-s-s-s-Slushy! Sssssssssssslurrrrrp!

Mmmmmmmm, Lemon Berry Slushie from Sonic, America's Drive In. Slurp it up on your way to anywhere between 2-4p.m., and get a great deal! It's their Happy Hour, when sodas and slushies are half off.
So, for the grand sum of two dollars and one cent, I had a large Lemon Berry Slushie and the kids each had their own value size Strawberry Slushie. Pretty cool, huh? I still have some of my slushie in the fridge, and I'll add some water to it tomorrow and slurp some more :) The kids have slurped their slushies all evening.
Why did we feel the need for c-c-c-cold drinks on a drizzly, dreary spring afternoon? Well, we needed something to soothe Kate's sore throat and wash down her disappointment at missing today's Easter Egg Hunt at school. After a night of sore tummy and sore throat woes, Kate recovered this morning in time to go to school, insisting she felt good enough to handle a spelling test and a math test in the morning (and an Easter Egg Hunt in the afternoon).
She made it through the spelling test, finished the math test, and then had to come home with me when I arrived thinking I would be helping with the afternoon fun and games. Poor Kate. You know, we grownups tend to look at things from the perspective of many years. Of course, there'll be more parties at school, and there'll most likely be an Easter Egg Hunt next year and the year after that and the year after that. . . but to a kid, it's all about what's happening now. One Easter Egg Hunt missed out of 43 isn't that big of a deal, but that same missed celebration is a big deal when it's one out of 6. It's a shame we can't just inject our kids with the anti-disappointment serum we've earned over our lifetimes, isn't it? I imagine we're all destined to look back at each step of our lives, shake our heads, and say, "If only I'd known then what I know now."
Kate seems to be feeling better this evening, helped by the thought that Uncle Bubby and Aunt Soupie will probably both be happy to hide and re-hide and hide again a bunch of Easter Eggs at Grandma's this weekend :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Good Thing It's Wordless Wednesday, Because I'm Speechless :)

Cooked coral. Lots of times, I mean to do this to coral, same as I like to work ivory to death and beyond. This time, I didn't mean to do it, but coral stringer can be a delicate thing in the hands of a big-honking-flame-loving woman. Anyway, the coral really faded alot, faded into a peachy pink that really is kinda pretty in this Healer Woman pattern. I like, but then I'm a little warped like that, seeing as how I didn't learn all the "rules" when I first started playing with glass.

Moochie doesn't really care whether or not I break a few rules, either, as long as it doesn't change her meal times and she also gets opportunities to inspect the beads.

Silly cat, scarves are for humans. . .and for picture props. But, hey, Mooch, you go right ahead and snuggle down into my scarf while I'm trying to take a picture :)

Mmmmmmmm, sheer, silky, perfect for twining my claws into...

Oh, yeah, wish I could just dive into that human scarf, like diving into a pool of crystal clear water...well, except that I'm a cat and I'm not going near any pools of water, crystal clear or not.
So, there ya have it, another case of feline saves the day by distracting mouthy woman from rant. If you ever have one of those moments that make you wonder why people do what they do, hang in there. . .go home and pet your cat (or not, depending on the cat-itude of your particular feline) and feel better about the world :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Happy Birthday Thoughts for Rosa Mae and Angela Katharina

Rosa Mae, my maternal grandmother, and Angela Katharina, the other Angie Garren (aka my mother-in-law), were both born on April 7th. My Granny was actually only a few years older than my mother-in-law. I'd tell you the decade in which they were born, but then I'd have to kill ya. . .oh, wait, I'm not a secret agent. I wouldn't have to kill ya, but my mother-in-law might choose to educate me regarding my skepticism about the afterlife and ghosts if I were to divulge the secret of her age! No one, except for her children, knew that woman's real age, and she liked it that way :)
Every April 7th, I think of both of these women. They both had their moments, if you must know. Well, heck, don't we all have our good points and bad points? I guess it's that the spread between their good points score and bad points score could seem so extreme at times. You know, each could give you a great big hug from the heart, and each could make you shake your head in frustration at their stubbornness. My favorite story about Granny is that she always made sure to fix a three-legged fried chicken for lunch when my sister, brother, and I were going to be there. Each of us kids would want a chicken leg, and it's not so easy to split two drumsticks between three kids. So, Granny either plucked two chickens or saved a drumstick from another meal for our lunches.
Granny, Rosa Mae, Grandma, Rosie. . . I heard her called all those names, and I often heard my Granddaddy tell me how much I looked like Rosie Mae when she was a little girl. Rosie and her green checked polyester pants paired with that gawwwwwwwd-awwwwwwful dark orange polyester shirt probably had just as much flair for fashion as I do, LOL. She could "clean up nice," but I don't think that was a priority for her :) Sometimes, I wish I could travel in a time machine and talk to her when she was the same age I am now. At 43, she had already raised her children and had a few grandchildren. When I was a kid the age of my two youngins', I thought she was "old" but she was barely in her fifties. Granddaddy being almost twenty years older than her aged her, and it was understandable since women in that era didn't dream of trying to make 40 the new 30.
On the other hand, the "other" Angie Garren was vain enough that she wouldn't have dreamed of revealing her age to anyone. She dyed her hair, pencilled in her eyebrows, sported bright lipstick, and carried off the look with no problem. Once again, I'd like to hop in that time machine and talk to her when she was my age. At 43, she had four children under the age of ten. I'm pretty sure she was a glamour girl before children, but I imagine being an "older" mom made her conscious of her age at a time when most moms of young children would've been quite a bit younger than she was.
Shoot, there isn't enough time in the day to tell you all about each of them. Talking about their age and how they carried it is only a shallow beginning, you know. Today I took James and Kate to put a carnation apiece on their Grandma Angie's grave. They read the names of their grandparents on the headstone. They looked at their Grandpa's marker that showed he'd served in the Army during World War II. James traced his fingers over the carved "Garren" above Angela Katharina and Luther Paul's names. Kate said she was glad we brought her Grandma some flowers. We talked about their Grandma and my Granny. They sang Happy Birthday to Rosie and Angie. It was a good afternoon.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pfffffft. . . Pouting Pansies Push Me Over the Proverbial Precipice

Okay, so I haven't really gone over the edge, and the pansies aren't really pouting BUT THEY SHOULD NOT INDOORS WITH ME!
They should be outdoors, not inside hiding from Jack Frost! Actually, they should still be at Wal-Mart, instead of in my possession because I knew better than to buy them this early. It was so pretty Saturday, though, and the Easter Bunny was drawing the crowds back to the Garden Center when we went to pick up a few things.
Ahem. Yeah. "A few things" being some clay pots, some orange-y coral-y pansies, some buttery yellow pansies, and for good measure, a few multi-colored pansies :)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pillar of the Sun. . .Paleolithic Ponderings

Who would've thought paleolithic ponderings would emerge from the glass while I was torching Friday? Oh, she's a far cry from the bison, horses, and other ancient animals found drawn inside the caves of western Europe, but she is indeed related in a roundabout way.
The Mind in the Cave, by David Lewis-Williams, has been slowly capturing my thought this weekend. If you click on the link, you'll get a review, one I haven't even read all the way through yet but thought looked informative. Whether this book is pop-archeology, or whether it is basically a textbook dressed up for public consumption, I'm not sure. I surely don't know much about archeology, except that I find it fascinating when I run across it. . . and since what I find fascinating is the process of trying to explain what was on the mind of a fellow human being at any point in time, then it doesn't matter so much to me whether or not this book is deemed acceptable by archeological circles. I just want to hear what the guy has to say about all those cave paintings :)
Anyway, one of the things that jumped out at me was the description of some cave paintings that used the natural outlines and/or bulges of the rocks to guide the shaping of the animals drawn in particular places. For instance, instead of drawing an entire standing bison inside the boundaries of a raised part of rock, Paleolithic man (or woman or both, haven't read that far yet) might expand the body of the bison to follow all the curves of the outcropping, even if that didn't leave room to paint the legs.
Think that observation might resonate with someone who lets the pull of gravity on globs of molten glass determine where the curve of a hip might be in a sculpture? You know, someone who lets the base glob of glass shape itself and then decides how to nudge it a bit further into a suitable shape?
This Pillar of the Sun was not intended to be a goddess or a sculpture. She was supposed to be a bead. . .until a belly button formed itself where I was haphazardly painting extra streaks of glass on the pillar of glass. With visions of bisons filling curves of rocks, I saw a hip line forming and the goddess emerged without apology :)
P.S. I'll let ya know if I even finish the book. I'm not sure if it's dry, if my powers of concentration have dwindled over the years, or if both might be happening, but this is a slow reading book for me.

Friday, April 3, 2009

You're Gonna Smoke Whaaaaaaaaat??? Have You Lost Your Mind???

Yesterday's online entertainment (as in interesting, not ha ha funny entertainment) was a smash-up of smokers and non-smokers and reformed smokers, a veritable smorgasboard of tobacco and nicotine opinions which appears to have morphed into a less volatile but infinitely more disgusting to me discussion. . .people want to grow their own tobacco to smoke!

I grew up in a tobacco state, worked in the tobacco patch every summer, hated the damn gummy shit that coats your fingers while you're pulling suckers. . . in the middle of freaking hot summer, with no breeze blowing hard enough to reach you inside a row of gigantic sticky (as in gummy) tobacco leaves, with your hands coated with said gummy shit and sweat dripping down into your eyes and you can't wipe it without dragging those gummed up hands across them and gum plus sweat will make your eyes sting like the bejezus!

You want to smoke? Your business. You want to actually grow your own tobacco? Even though I imagine your experience will be different since it should be on a smaller scale that what I experienced growing up and you'll probably not want to use pesticides and such, all I can think is GAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!! DO YOU LIKE GUMMY SHIT STUCK TO YOUR HANDS?? WOULDN'T YOU RATHER JUST PAY THE DAMN TAX ON YOUR CARTON, INSTEAD OF DEALING WITH TOBACCO WORMS AND MUD AND ALL SORTS OF OTHER DISGUSTING STUFF??

Late in the spring of each year, my mother would fix the tobacco beds, the spots where seeds would be sowed and grow into plants big enough for setting out in the tobacco patch. She'd till the ground, place some noxious cans of something or other down the center of the bed, cover the bed with plastic that had to be weighted down all around the edges of the bed, and then push the tops of those cans to release whatever that junk was in them. Weed killer? Probably, I don't remember more than that if you had to seal it inside that plastic and take extra care not to get any whiffs of it, then how could it not be nasty stuff?

When the plastic came off and the tobacco seeds were sown, we'd follow Mother out there and look for signs of the seeds coming up. She'd cover the beds with a loose canvas, and the tiny green seedlings would grow into a packed bed of ankle high, skinny plants that already had that sticky stuff inside their stems. "Setting the tobacco out" meant helping carefully pull single plants out of the dirt, stacking them with the roots all pointing the same way, and getting enough piles of them to last for a bunch of runs across the tobacco patch with the tobacco setter behind the tractor. This pulling plants was usually done while dew was still on the ground, and every time you moved your pile, crumbles of dirt and mud would coat your arm or leg or whatever body part got in the way. Can you say muddy, wet, and just chilly enough to not be fun?

Now, we come to the tobacco setter. Once upon a time, my parents put out plants using a handheld, peg-like planter, and we followed with water for each plant. Ah, but somewhere along the way we got mechanized, and the tobacco setter was sort of our friend. I say "sort of" because my city grandma (not the granny who lived in the country all her life, but my other grandmother) mentioned to six year old me that the "hands" that gently clamped each tobacco plant and rotated it down to the ground to be watered and have the soil packed around it as the machine moved, those hands just might pinch me if I left my hand there too long when I laid each plant in them. These hands rotated around the wheel very quickly, and the two people riding the setter had to keep them full. Someone else got the pleasure of walking behind the setter and filling in any missed spots with a plant and packing the dirt and mud around it. Whether my city grandmother really thought I might get my hand caught, or whether she was teasing me, I don't know. I imagine my mother has an opinion, but suffice it to say that I hesitated almost too long every time I rode the setter for a long while after that. Later on in my childhood, I was pretty fast at it. My mom and I would ride the setter, and Pop would gradually run the tractor faster and faster. . .and that, messy as it was, was a fun job sometimes. Still, I wouldn't choose to do it all over again.

What else? Oh, yeah, hours in the stark summer sunshine, walking down each row of tobacco with a hoe in your hand, chopping weeds and pulling loose dirt up around the tobacco plants. Not a fond memory. Not a horrible memory, I guess, but once again, I wouldn't choose to do it all over again.

Stifling hot, that's how it felt in between those rows of tobacco later in the summer. That was when we'd be suckering the tobacco, pulling off the darker green suckers that competed with the big leaves for food. The big leaves were also food themselves, at least for tobacco worms, those fat, juicy green worms that were not my friends. Imagine walking slowly down one of those rows, hoping to get a whiff of fresh air from above your head, wishing you wouldn't sweat and have to feel said sweat running down your forehead, lost in whatever daydreams you could muster to make the time pass more quickly, and SPLAT! Someone, probably your sister or maybe your mother, has plucked one of those worms and tossed it in your direction.

So, that's about half your summer. The rest of the tobacco growing season was just as "entertaining," what with cutting and spearing stalks onto tobacco sticks, hauling those heavily laden sticks out of the patch, and hanging them all in the barn (Mother and Bubby's job, they could handle balancing up there in the tier poles, leaning over to pick up a stick full of tobacco, and hanging them to dry). As the tobacco dried and fall progressed, the time to strip the leaves approached. Never very warm, even with kerosene heaters in the shed, stripping tobacco was another one of those cold, sticky (yep, still gummy, even after drying for months) jobs.

And, that is why my gut reaction to someone wanting to grow their own tobacco to smoke is YOU WANT TO SMOKE WHAAAAAAAAAAT?? HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND??

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Getting the Ketchup Out of the Bottle

Remember the other day when I was virtually humming Annnnnnn-ti-ci-pa-ay-tion? This funky mustard and turquoise fish with a Chinese symbol for longevity finally got pictures taken and quickly went swimming/flying to Amber. Amber saw a phoenix speaking from this shape. . . either way, this one really grabbed me when I took it out of the kiln. The symbolism is cool, either way, but the colors are almost as powerful. Something about the turquoise on the mustard really causes a "hey, wait a minute, look at that again" reaction in your brain.

As for the phoenix and the fish, I have to tell you I was pleasantly surprised. When I was taking pictures, I noticed that the fish shape really only stands out when you turn this bead over and look at the plain back. That sorta threw me, that not seeing the fish plainly from the front, because I could see the fish while I was working. Glass will humble you every chance it gets, ya know? Then, if you're lucky, someone will see what you're missing in the message and open your eyes to extended possibilities. I like what changes in perspective can add to the meaning of a piece, like how different aspects of a piece speak different messages to different people. Yep, there's a world of possibilities in glass :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

No Fooling, These I.G.S. Kids Are Stars :-)

You know I'm going to show you pictures of one of my own kiddos, but each and every one of the Irvington Grade School students present at Family Reading Night walked down the red carpet and then did their handprints for a Reading Walk of Fame. Just like Hollywood stars sinking their hands into fresh concrete to leave their prints on the Walk of Fame, these kids were celebrated. What were we celebrating? Reading books and taking comprehension tests to gain points in the Accelerated Reading program during the school year. The teachers and staff went all out for the occasion, wearing glitzy tiaras and sparkling clothes and treating each student arrival as a big event. If you ever want my opinion, I'll tell you that small schools are the BEST!

Here is James, the boy who has refused to fingerpaint ever since he was a toddler. I wish I could've caught the look of hesitation on his face right before he plunged his hands into the paint!

P.S. Scholastic book company's book fairs are incredible! All this week, the books are all Buy One, Get One Free!