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Mosaic Stairs: A Pictorial

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This series of photos goes along with the story in EP 166 of the Creative Mom Podcast. The one shown here scampered ahead and was posing long before I made it to the top. After his series of poses, he laid down... dead... much to the amusement of another stair-climber passing by. I didn't have the right lens with me, but this was a walk worth taking, with or without the right lens on board!

Sunday Morning

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BLOG-sunday-1SHARE-.jpgSunday mornings... Sunday mornings have the potential to have a flavor all of their own. In recent years, I've moved through points where Sundays, moreso than any day of the week, were difficult days. But this morning, as I sorted through a bundle of thoughts that were bouncing around, I was going to leave a status at Facebook and realized that the flavor of Sunday morning can't always be contained in a single 240-character update. You can't always encapsulate the many layers and textures of a Sunday morning in just a few words.

It's barely 8AM, so the day is not yet underway. The shape and resonance the day will take on is still unformed, unspoken, unbroken. There is the softness of morning, undertones of possibility and creative energy. My thoughts this morning were simple enough... they started with an awareness that the Renegade Craft Fair in SF is today. I had hoped to work it out for yesterday. (In the end, we saw Mr. Popper's Penguins.) I've sort of reconciled myself to the fact that I can't get there, but I spent time thinking through whether or not I might get there. That led me (again) to the show's website and then to their blog and then to a post on "not to miss" things in SF.

I scanned that list because similar lists (scaled down a bit) have been in my head lately--fueled by a bit of caffeine, a thread of unexpected friendship, and the growing sense that we have to make and take time. In thinking of simple lists, the concept of bucket lists hovers around the periphery (not something I've done, not a movie I've seen). And so I poked around the "not to miss" blog post. I opened a "craft spots in SF" map, and I laughed just a bit to see on that map that things marked as "part" of the base map, things like city parks, for instance, included Tartine, a well-known bakery here--and the first in a series of recent explorations.


Shelving the Renegade Craft Fair until I can see how the hours of mid-day pan out, I skimmed some Facebook posts by Cathy Johnson and realized, with a jolt, that I had put aside her new book
(a wonderful birthday thought) to savor, and in the spiral of days, I'd never gotten it back out. As I got up and refilled my coffee (briefly contemplating switching over to tea for the day since the maker had already clicked off), I poked around in first an overflowing bin, then a precarious stack on a stool, then under a pile of fabric in a chair, and then, bending down to look at the seats of the chairs surrounding the table, I spotted Cathy's book in another small stack, one which includes Knit Noro: 30 Designs in Living Color (another birthday gift I haven't really gotten to look at).

I took Artist's Journal Workshop with me back to my chair, realizing in the same moment that the languor of morning had basically passed... that boys were waking... that the tenor of the day would soon begin to take shape, my morning time winding down. Still, unwilling to give in and let go of the semblance of calm, I sat for a few minutes and read the introductory pages. In the back of my head, I wondered if maybe I should save the book to take with me in a few weeks. Even seeing the first few pages and samples, I am drawn, I am compelled, I feel the rise within to grab my journal... to again follow the path I was on a few years ago. I recently spent time looking through an older journal, one from the days of daily "visual" journaling and recordkeeping, and I miss that process... and I miss that capturing of line on my pages.
Just as I did when I recently looked at Danny's new book, An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers (or anytime I pick up The Creative License), I wanted to recommit and reconnect.

But instead of jumping up and grabbing my journal, I grabbed a Bluetooth keyboard and thought to write a simple Facebook status update, maybe urging someone else to check out the local craft extravaganza or nudging someone else to crack open a new journal. Instead of grabbing my journal and a pen, I grabbed a keyboard. (I suppose it is not necessarily a bad thing... it puts me one step closer to working on show notes that are open, are incomplete, and deal with some of these very topics.) And as I thought about the journals, about my journals, about the wonder of "watercolor kit" sketches (or tools sketches), about the ways in which I've never reached the line I want, the kind of line I love, I thought, again, about working in public... about stopping to sketch coffee as you have coffee... about being able to "be me" whenever and wherever. And in that process, I reached the full-circle spiral, as I landed right back in the heart of the unfinished show notes, notes with began recently with a mid-day tea.

Even as I thought about journaling, I let myself glance over at several different projects on the wall, knowing that I need to focus and plan and cut and get each organized so that I can move them along, especially the different applique projects...

And I didn't stop there. In the span of minutes, I cycled through many things... and then I headed to Facebook to leave a simple status. It began this way: Sunday morning: I am contemplating Renegade Craft Fair, cracked open Cathy Johnson's new Art Journal Workshop (though am tempted to save it for upcoming travel), pondering work project, thinking about show notes that are languishing, mentally making a list of things to cut, prep, plan...

It was too long. Too involved. And yet not enough.

So I headed here and let myself flesh it out a bit.

And in the time it took to follow the words, the drum beat of morning (and of Sunday) kicked in, as it almost always does, and the vibe has changed, the peace has been shattered, the edges are back in place, and we move on with the day.

Sundays.

Bowl again.

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Even I can't totally explain why food, all of a sudden, has become such a defining "thing." Another night. Another bowl. Another combination that was wonderful. This was over the weekend. There have been several nights and different combinations since then. I'm surprising myself, and I'm reminding myself that it is never too late.

Rain.

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The rain has been amazing. Days and days (especially nights) of pounding rain, and then spells of bright blue sky that foster a false sense of dryness only to be quickly pushed aside for another downpour. As I noted at Facebook... I don't wear a raincoat, use an umbrella, or own rubber boots. The moral? Wool (sweater coat, gauntlets, and hat) gets really wet!

During a momentary dry lull yesterday afternoon, we were outside after school when a first-grader (not mine) decided to give me worldly advice regarding his sense that my son's interest in video games is unhealthy. The conversation (so odd and so clearly echoing things he has to have heard a parent say) spins in my head today as I think about the unfinished CMP notes on my other computer. I'd hoped to have that show out... earlier this week. And yet it is still fragmented... there are 'windows' in it... and yet they are blurry... my foothold seems like a phantom, lighting up briefly so that I run off in pursuit only to get there and find myself standing, looking, uncertain, and just a bit confused by what I ran after.

The photo is a phone photo. It's proof that there's something happening... something unexpected, maybe.... but something to which I'm both holding and moving. There's more than just that, but the idea contained in that photo is one I'm coveting today. Seeing all this rain and chill, and knowing that Spring Break starts today, I would love to curl up in a warm house with happy kids, yet another cup of tea, and read and make art and eat fun food. Somehow I don't think it will be that easy or peaceful or smooth!

The photo was snapped just now at my desk. I wasn't really sketching or drawing amid all the clutter! No... I was doing that last night nearing midnight and not at a desk! But there's something ironic about seeing it plopped down on top of the chaos of papers, budget concerns, the coming tax deadline, work notes, and so on.

A Year in Review

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I think I almost have enough oxygen again to record the CMP. Almost. I'm hoping by later this coming week, I'll be able to do it and get 2011 started in terms of the Creative Mom Podcast. I sat last night and took some notes for the next show, thinking through some of what happened in the past few weeks and the ways in which quilts form the anchor points for those weeks in some ways.

The above quilt was a collaborative project, one of two created over the span of a year. A day or so into the new year, I pulled out all my finished pieces from 2010 and put them on the design wall. It awaits a bit of love and care on my part to complete the top. It was a wonderful year-long project and contains many, many stories in the elements created and choices made.

Cooperative Play

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I have to say, we're loving Forbidden Island. We always introduce new "family games" at Christmas, and I considered lots and lots of games when I was doing my pre-holiday surfing and shopping. We love games. We really do. But it's a bit tricky to find the perfect game for us because we've got some pretty intense competition issues that really get in the way of "just a game."

When I stumbled over Forbidden Island and read about it being a "cooperative game," I was intrigued. I've never played a game like this before. I'd never even heard of a game like this before! If we had ended up at our local game store pre-Holiday, I'm sure I could have gotten some input (or even a chance to demo the game) from the helpful staff there (a cool store!). But December schedules squelched the boys' pseudo-weekly Magic the Gathering meetings in December, and so I was on my own when it came to deciding... Forbidden Island or not.

I'm so glad I decided to check it out. I love it. I think Gramma really enjoyed it. The almost-10 loves it. And the almost-7 is really good at it.

The art on the cards, I think, is beautiful. I just love looking at them. And the premise of the game is pretty simple and straightforward. But, you work together. You either win as a team... or you lose as a team. And we've done both. The next time you play, the game will be different. It's a very interesting concept, and I am on the lookout now for similar types of games that are kid-friendly (I know there is one, for instance, about medical crises that may not quite fit the bill).

I wish there was some way to expand or extend Forbidden Island, but for now, we're happy with what it is. And, we've gotten off the island several times in a row now!

Reminder to Self.

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Sometimes what surrounds us—even what hangs unfinished and "to do"—is a reminder of promise and potential, of hope and grace.

Joy

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I was sick... and am still sick. But I did what I could in the final weeks of the year, even though I feel keenly the loss of the days, of the time, of the routines... I'm fighting all of that, even though I can't change what happened. Despite all of it, there was a level of 'joy' in him in those weeks... something you could see radiating from him. Something you could almost feel. I love this photo. (Hat by Gramma.)

Balancing Blocks

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Episode 152 of the Creative Mom Podcast is live... it's all over the place. "Catch-up" shows are rarely as tightly woven as they should be. The above photo was a reference photo for a piece talked about in this episode. The photo was taken... wisely... before it was accidentally toppled the next day.

Yesterday I paused and realized how grateful I was that I took time to make rice pudding Sunday with the recipe Gooma8x left at my house. I was skeptical, but it worked. And I made double. And so there is plenty for a seemingly decadent bowl of rice pudding with my toast while I work in the mornings. A simple thing. And yet it is one of the good things.

Snails and Crocs and Making Moments

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from Facebook ~ Moments: Two tiny snails picked up on the way to the car and put in a lid to take to school. The lid stowed in the floor. Bird out the window in a tree. Bird out the window on porch steps. Snails in floor on a lid. Snails forgotten in excitement over bird. The relative size of a 5-year olds Croc to a baby snail? Squoosh. Mom's relative comfort level with picking up squoosh out of the floor of the car?

It was a bit gross. And they were in the floor because he is maybe the most fearless of all of us, but he has a bit of an aversion to the "slime" snails leave when they (ahem) yeah... that, in your hand. So, they were on the lid.

Fittingly, the new episode of the Creative Mom Podcast is entitled "Making Moments" (EP 129). It's live as of today.

Respite

Respite: The mockingbird there on the same wire this morning, a little one asking to draw in the car, and then wonderful lines about Camellias in The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

And today... after tracking down a YouTube clip of the CSI theme song (by The Who) for a Science Buddies blog entry, I poked around a bit. I don't get the setting of this video... but just close your eyes and listen.


Bench.

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I want to go here... and sit... the right moment in life, the right person, the right pair of binoculars. I want to sit.

A Year of...

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It's been a while since I've been here, I guess. I'm surprised to see I haven't posted in the new year. I've been busy with a number of things, and the show has remained on track... but no blogging. And so, today, photos I've talked about already (in EP 81), but photos that mark a year of possibility and a year of commitment to my own journey... to the continuation of it... and to ongoing exploration. And, as you can see, the work in progress right now is the first step... ATCs for January.

One "blank" at a time.

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Birds at the Bookstore

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Well, as everyone knows, the birds have basically taken over my awareness and so, finally, I found myself at the bookstore intent on getting a copy of the The Sibley Guide to Birds. Everyone agrees I need a Sibley, right? Of course, I do. I've been slow in bringing one home, but it's time. And so, there I was. Both boys had already picked out something (both graphic novel style) and both were in the floor happily reading while I stood in front of the bird books shelf. As my luck would have it, there were no copies of Sibley to be found. I had considered a Kaufman guide, indeed. But I'd decided, in the end, that my first bird book, of my own, should be a Silbeys. So... today was not the day. (I'm really a tried-and-true Amazon.com shopper anyway, but I had a gift card in hand... so, well... there I was.) But, I spent some time looking at what was on the shelves. I finally got to see Letters From Eden: A Year at Home, in the Woods in person, which I've wanted to do for some time, and I think it'll be a great book to read this year. I also found myself enamoured with Robert Burton's The World of the Hummingbird which is brimming with the most beautiful hummingbird photography I've ever seen.

And then, there were the personal narratives... life with birds... Two in particular jumped out at me: Providence of a Sparrow: Lessons from a Life Gone to the Birds and The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.

Both seem worth looking into.

And, there you have it.... a bird-oriented trip to the bookstore. And... on the way in... as we got out of our car, the sound of birds was intense. The tree in front of us was bare of leaves... and at first, it appeared empty. But, looking closely, we finally found them... several birds... and amazing song.

A Moment

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I was vacuuming... straightening up a bit this morning, and the kids were playing (and still in pj's). As I started vacuuming down the hall, I noticed the small light was on in their bedroom, and I wondered about that and figured I'd turn it off when I got done. When I poked my head around their door, this is what I saw... both in bed, the oldest reading Hungry Caterpillar (one the little one loves still) to his brother... and reading it what we call the "silly way" (which is something "I" do often these days with books we've read hundreds of times... and something I used to do with songs...).

Such a surprising moment. And so sweet.

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