Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wow, Three Years Since This Pic

There I was, looking for a pic already loaded on my computer, hoping to do a quick little blog post before we head to the Open House at school tonight... and wowee, how time does fly! James will start fifth grade tomorrow, and Kate will start fourth grade.

They are still cute as they can be, but they've started getting the pre-teen look about them.


The old people were right... time flies, doesn't it?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Keep 'em? or Chuck 'em?

Should I keep 'em? Think I'll run into trouble at school if I'm the teacher aide with smiley faces drawn on the cap of her chucks? I'm thinking about doing that, you know...

I already have another pair of new shoes for work, so do I really need these?

Ha, ha, ha!

Does the world need peace?

Does chocolate taste good with peanut butter?

Does the sun rise in the east and set in the west?

Yes... well, maybe not "need."

Yes... of course.

Yes... oh, man, nothing better!

and Yes... without a doubt.

Chucks, it is.

I'll have to let you know about the smiley faces on the toes, though :)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Run Away and Join the Carnival?

No, I don't really want to run away and join the carnival... but I wouldn't mind if the people who made these rides were local and needed an apprentice in the paint shop! Look at the colors! Look at the gorgeously gaudy lights and designs!

By the way, this Sphinx boat ride had the kids squealing with delight because the boat almost stood on end at the top of its swing. Katie told me she could feel herself being lifted off the seat. Our friend Eileen, who stayed on the ground with the rest of us grownups, told me she saw Katie being lifted off her seat. I wouldn't know. I had to stop watching. It was either that, or have a panic attack because Kate was on one end seat and James was on the other end seat. Yep. Swing to the right, and mom alerts are on danger overload. Swing to the left, danger overload again.

You know I've been lazy with cameras for the past year. It's sooooo convenient to simply use the camera on my phone. There is the little problem of the pause between touching the button and the shutter releasing, though. This was the best pic of the dragon rollercoaster on the move. Oh, what a spectacular, splendiferous sight was that dragon and its pagoda!

Finally, here is a midway shot of the Himalaya carnival ride. Take the colors in these images, multiply them exponentially by 47, and you'll have an idea of how lovely the colors were at dusk at the St. Clair County Fair last Friday night.
Ahhhhh... sigh... Wouldn't it be fun to help build and decorate all those rides?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What? Doesn't Everyone...

What? Doesn't everyone have an oxygen tank cap and a brass Ganesh on their work table? If you melt glass, you just might have both of those. It just struck me as funny when I set the Ganesh on the table this morning. Not funny ha-ha funny, more like it struck me as unusual funny at the time.

I imagine all of us have our good luck charms and routines in our lives. Artists, especially, seem inclined to work a little inspiration voodoo dance magic whenever we set out to create, don't we? Creating things is a funny business, you know. We want to say we do it from our hearts, that we create because of the need we feel to do so. That's true, but it's also true that creative muses can be finicky, and the reality of making things is that you have to work. You can't just sit at your table and watch the fairies and good luck charms wave their magic wands to "poof" your art into existence. It's more like the good luck charms and fairies and whatever other muses you can conjure are there for moral support, there to cheer on each step until you build momentum and keep going.

Now, you may scoff at good luck charms, especially if you are a natural skeptic such as I am. It's also possible that you may believe that fairies literally do exist. I'm here to tell you that both perspectives have some weight. My way of including both the mystical and the skeptical in my life is to merge the two. You know what I believe about those fairies and magic elves in the workshop? I believe that thinking and dreaming about them is a way of giving my mind permission to explore ideas that it would otherwise shun. I think imagining the life of the fairies opens doors to other creative worlds. I think delving into the stories of deities and good luck charms opens mental windows and lets inspiration breezes blow across my work.

I think setting Ganesh, the Remover of Obstacles, on my work table this morning before I lit the torch opened a closet of confidence and patience... I tried those on for a while, and they fit well while I was torching. Very nice, very nice, indeed.

What about you? Have any good luck charms or rituals you don't mind sharing? I don't know about you, but I love to hear other people's thoughts about these things :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What Caught Your Eye Today?

What caught your eye today? Did you pause to admire it, observe it closely, experience it? It's easier said than done, this pausing. There's little time for it when you're grabbing the mail, downing the last sip of coffee, trying to find your keys, and jumping into the car to head to work. When it's still summer, the kids and I don't have to do the early morning rush to school... and I am lucky enough to be able to pause and look more closely when something catches my eye. I hope I can remember to do it occasionally once we're back into the school routine (them to their school, me to mine for work). Despite the rush, despite the anxiety of wondering whether you'll beat the bell if you have to turn around and go back to the house because someone forgot their glasses or you noticed your shoes don't match, despite the stresses of modern living, it does us all good to pause to gaze at the world around us.

It's funny how times have changed since I was a kid. I don't remember my mother ever catching grief from other people because she was a stay at home mom, but I can attest to the guilt and grief that can accompany it nowadays... see how I felt compelled to mention it before I continue with the "pause when you can" message? Anyway, that brings me to another conclusion. People can be in the stressed out phase or in the pause-and-enjoy phase at any given time. It's not just that there are two types of people (with apologies to the Type A and Type B personality theory), it's that each of us has the potential to be in either phase. We don't have to confine ourselves to one mode all the time. The laidback Type B can step it up, and the perpetually stressed Type A can relax... it's all a matter of timing and opportunity and remembering it's possible.

To that end, I figure sharing what you see when you pause is bound to be a good deed. It opens up the view to people in the rushed phase. If only for a few seconds, it reminds them sunlight changes its hue from season to season and apples aren't just crayon red. It captures and pares down a scene into smaller vignettes that can be easily consumed. It's sort of like making life vitamins to supplement busy schedules. So, open up. Here are some vitamins to pop when you have the chance:

  • Summer sunlight floods our front window in the morning hours. This house has a lovely triple window in the dining room. It is uncovered, except for the small light-blocking shade the former owners installed to cover the middle panel when the sun is beaming in the morning. Sometimes, even I pull the shade. Ah, but it is amazing to see the sun bathe whatever is on the table. The pinks and reds and pale yellows in the apple skins were glowing this morning. As I walked by the table, coffee in hand, I couldn't help but stop and look at the shadows and highlights on the plump apples. James thought these Cripps Pink apples looked so delicious that he reached back into the bin at the store and grabbed an extra one to buy.

  • Venturing into the jungle that started the summer as a garden, I found the first gourd among the buttery yellow blooms and light green, fuzzy leaves. Faint light yellow lines run vertically on the deeper yellow body of the pear shaped gourd, and a tiny green hat tops it off.

  • The watermelon vines are wandering all over the garden jungle. There have been many small yellow blooms, but I still haven't spotted a watermelon. While I was contemplating whether it's too late for those watermelons to start growing, I glanced down to find a big fat snake snoozing on the landscaping pebbles. He was about two feet long and an inch or so in diameter. Talk about pausing... I think my almost bare in flipflops feet froze and my heart stopped. (Oh, and now the vicious cycle circles more strongly. The garden is too overgrown with grass and weeds, so I'm scared to get in there and pull stuff out because there might be a snake waiting for me. Since I haven't pulled all that stuff out, now there's really a snake enjoying living in the garden. Ack!)

  • Breakfast: Cooked an egg in a little bit of pepper and butter, covered it with the leftover red peppers and onion and mushroom from last night, and sprinkled it with shredded parmesan cheese. Let it all bubble. Put it on asiago cheese bread toast with mayo and a slice of tomato. Eating it with a fork because it slides hopelessly side to side if you try to pick it up.

That's all from me today. Hope your day is filled with little opportunities to pause :)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Woof! Don't Let a Bad Mood Dog Ya!

Woof, baby!

Don't let a bad mood dog ya, not like I did yesterday. Ugh. Did you ever see a puppy dog who lost his Frisbee and had his best chew toy stolen by a smaller dog? Well, I don't know exactly what the Frisbee and the chew toy are, metaphorically speaking, but I am pretty sure my facial expression was similar to a puppy dog's on a day like that. There wasn't much reason for me to be grumpy. In fact, if I start rehashing the gripes, they'll probably grow and take over today, too. So, let's not do that.

Let's move on to a fresh start. Hey, it is a new morning, after all. One good thing that can be said about mornings is that you can almost always convince your mind it has a fresh start. Fresh, new, and filled with opportunity, fresh starts are good:

  • writing your name on the first page of a new notebook

  • lacing the strings on a new pair of shoes

  • pulling open the spout on a new carton of orange juice

  • breaking the vacuum seal and smelling the scent of a new bag of dark roasted coffee beans

  • sticking the key in the ignition of a new car for the first time

  • mowing the grass for the first time in the spring

  • making the first mark on a squeaky clean whiteboard

Well, the list will keep growing as the day progresses, because I'm going to will myself to think in terms of "new" and "fresh." This reminds me, why do little boys like to wear the same pair of socks until they are crunchy? Don't they recognize the good feeling of pulling sweet smelling clean socks onto your feet?

See, look at that. "Fresh" doesn't even have to be brand-spanking "new" to be good. Renewal is often even better than the first-"new"-al. The first time you do something, you can't compare it with anything else. Remember your very first day of school? It was exciting, wasn't it? I remember waiting for the bus on the wrong day, by the way. After about an hour of my mother telling me to quit waving and making weird chopping gestures at passing cars, we figured out it was the teachers' first day! Anyway, the point is that I was so excited and ready for school, but I had no idea how that feeling would compare to other back-to-school days. Each year, there would be friends and fun and challenges awaiting... and I could compare those exciting new things to last year. By the end of any school year, you're ready to move on to the next year, even if it's a little scary. The sense of renewal floods your mind, doesn't it?

  • This year, I will make hundreds on all my spelling tests!

  • This year, I will lay my clothes out the night before and not rush so much in the morning!

  • This year, I know I can finish my projects early!

Hee hee, it's catching, isn't it? The joyous sense of renewal is hard to ignore, once you start thinking about it. You can limit yourself to New Year's Day, and the start of school if you have kids or work in a school system... or you can choose to have that feeling 365 days of the year.

Hmmm. One or 2 versus 365? I think I'm opting for 365! Happy Fresh Start, Everyone!