While I was working in the kitchen the other night, I needed paper towels. Maximizing my efforts, I bundled up a bag of trash and headed down to the garage. When I came back up, ready to resume dinner-making, I realized I had forgotten the paper towels. I gathered up a load of recycling and headed down again. Back up, I stood at the counter again, ready for the same task, and realized I had forgotten the paper towels. Ranting aloud, I took out the under the sink trash, tied it up, and headed down. Up again and, you guessed it, still no paper towels. I went down the final time only to get them and succeeded. Crazy!




It has been a not easy week. It gas been the kind of week that makes me doubt everything. But the fruit I picked up a few weeks back for my next EDM were going soft. It was the right thing to do this morning, centering in its own way. Why pencil? Not sure. It is what I grabbed, maybe because I have been scratching in cartoon panels in pencil now and again. Just a rough sketch and a memory of what daily sketching offers and how it feels to sit in the quiet morning and draw.

See all that mess in the phone pic of the fruit? I call that honesty in blogging! Sure. I could have shown you a beautiful bokah-laden photo of the fruit on a simple background. But this is the nitty-gritty folks.

(This is Everyday Matters prompt 24--draw a piece of fruit. The next few coming up on the list are odd "draw x or whatever you like" ones. But first draw a drinking glass.)


[A few days separate then and now.]

The things we do.

Last night I did something that we hope we never have to so, but something that many times I have thought necessary and, even so, a step I have never taken. Until last night. I called 911 for an ambulance after a frightening afternoon with a sick adult, an adult who has often been sick but never this way. I called for an ambulance, and then I moved everything out of the way so that they could get in. In the minutes after being on hold and then explaining the situation to the dispatcher, I scrambled around the room trying to clear a path between the door and the suddenly dangerously narrow hallway. I moved two baskets of clean but unfolded laundry. I moved the bin of library books. i moved backpacks and shoes. I moved the couch. It felt oddly like cleaning up for a house cleaner to come in. And then there were eight or nine men filing the house, asking questions, taking over. It was not like on TV. It wasn't overly friendly or reassuring. And then they were gone, tape and packaging remnants scattered throughout the hallway.

There was a stillness in the house, though I could hear the sounds of the ambulance still on the street for another ten minutes or more. And there was the weight of all of it, of two kids watching it happen, of a hole in the hallway wall that I put packing tape over because the kids were as afraid that something might come through the wall as they were by the fact that the hole was caused by someone falling and hitting the wall with a head. There was weight all around us, pressing in, and yet for those who are left behind to wait, the hours move on. We finished the show we had been watching, the three of us, said goodbye to the lost hour of the time change, read at bedtime as we always do.

Later, when I could not sleep, I played through my scrabble games and then endless rounds of solitaire in between calls from the ER and then, later, the ICU. The weight of everything, all the implications, realities, worries, and more, kept me company through the night as I tried to figure out how to walk the next steps.

The next morning after coffee, the stillness within me sat like lead. With no one to call for help juggling the kids, I waited. I did my regular things, regular morning things, regular Sunday things, regular parenting things, all with an ear to the silent phone, all while mentally planning how to fit Sunday necessities into an amorphous day of waiting.

I looked at the list of daily drawing prompts and contemplated a piece of clothing to draw. It's a drawing prompt I've been tasked with before, and it is always one I find difficult. But "a piece of clothing" was the prompt ahead of me, so getting back "in" to the rhythm and the sketchbook meant starting there even though, in truth, I am going to skip several of the ones coming up. A piece of clothing. I considered a scarf. Simple pattern. But interesting. And then I spotted a sweater, a sweater that has lived a life of its own. I have two of the same sweater in different colors, each more than 15 years old, each seriously oversized, even in all the sizes I've been then and now. I wear them now in the mornings when it is cold, or late at night. Each is a silky soft chenille on the back, collar, and cuffs with a smooth front that is soft but not chenille at all. Though they've never been exposed to moths and are not wool in nature, the chenille has a worn appearance, a see-through quality when you hold it up to the light, as if sections are being somehow washed away. These are seriously old sweaters. They are not sentimental. They are simply cozy.

I picked one up, tried to drape it here and there so I could get some angle on it. Mostly I was unsuccessful, but finally I left it over the arm of a large loveseat and sat down to fill a page. And I did.

Later, I sat and searched for new (to me) podcasts and stocked my phone with a playlist of shows I have not tried before. I scrolled through the few people I follow at Facebook and flipped over and read an essay that appeared on a "weekend list" Ali Edwards had linked to from her blog, a piece written to (and in defense of) a parent on a phone. I read just enough to find it brought me to tears, tears I was woodenly keeping at bay. I clipped it to Evernote and put it aside for later. It is a beautiful piece and a reminder that what you think you see may or may not be the while story. So often these days I see the insular way in which people draw boundaries and make interpretations. It is a good piece to read, whether your phone is a lifeline for a hundred reasons or not. I went back a day later and read it all the way through. I know none of the people the author knows, and yet I am many of them.

When I left the computer, still waiting, I stood in front of a pile of fabric. I cut some pieces. I sewed a few seams. I looked at the almost finished piece marking last year, and yet I filled my head and hands with pieces for this year's project, one defined but not yet begun. I waited, and I worked on something new. And I stopped at one point and pondered the role of the process, the normalcy and calm of the act of creating in such moments when, really, one's hands are tied.

Today, a few days since... I read another post on "story," on the telling of story, the crafting of story, on finding and identifying and following story. These are all things I have been thinking about in recent days, weeks, and months. Sometimes the story is in the subtext, another layer to a main story, an aside, something in the wings and waiting or while waiting. And always we pick and choose which parts to tell, which parts to weave together. Which parts to let stand alone, to let break a rule of grammar for a turn of phrase or a pause. Sometimes our stories are interwoven with others, sometimes connected to things past, things present, and things yet unknown. And always, always, there are more stories than we can really share, read, tell, and comprehend. But stories help us understand, survive, and better know ourselves and others. Over the last few days, I've paused in the midst of other things many times realizing I need to sit, with myself, and get down the bare bones of several stories, stories upon which I want to build, stories with details I do not want to lose and wonder about later. I've been telling myself that for months, over and over, as I run around with too many things on my plate, the fine lines of some stories fading fast. This post, in reality, was spawned by the moment of stopping and realizing that in the midst of a bad day, I turned, instinctively, to a pile of fabric. But in writing that reality, the nature of story rises to the surface.

Random thoughts on mornings, "Warning to the Children" by Robert Graves, blue jeans planters, a white on white painting, and more. Prompt: boxes.

Featured Podsafe Music:

Intro Clip: Jim Fidler ~ All I Really Wanted [PMN]
David Alter ~ Never Look Back [Ariel Publicity]


robotics_ (1 of 1)

Oh no!

Yesterday was our middle school robotics group's first competition. All the other schools at the event were high school level, so we went knowing that it was "for the experience" and, possibly, to open their eyes and to inspire them to what is possible in robot design. It was my first time seeing VEX robots in action. I knew a good bit about this year's Sack Attack challenge from my work at Science Buddies. But I haven't been involved in the robotics club at all. (He's at that age!) So it was interesting to see what they had done and what others had done, given the same challenge and design and game objectives.

Once I decided to go, I responded to the query for a photographer. If no one else had offered, I said, I would shoot the event. "Are you a professional photographer," was the reply.

You know how I responded in my head!

I explained that I don't have the best camera (wish I could afford an upgrade) and that I am not a professional... but that I know what I am doing and have experience. How else do you respond to that question when you are an amateur, a hobbyist, someone for whom photography is one of many, many half-studied and loved creative pastimes?

So I went. I felt self-conscious. I shot.

And... I failed.

I was so disheartened this morning to pull up the day's photos and find that though things looked fine on-screen while I was shooting... the lighting indoors was more of a challenge than I had realized. Far too many shots are less crisp than I would like. The kids were constantly in motion tinkering with the bots, and so there are far too many with blur (of hands). Ugggh. Just so disappointing. And I hate to even show the set. When I told the robotics member... he, too, was disappointed. That was interested... that's the kind of comment that sends me wondering... disappointed because he will be embarrassed they are not great? Disappointed because he wanted to be able to show off what I could do? I just don't know.

How many times can I wish for a different reality -- on that would bring a camera upgrade? Every time I think we are back on track, the ground falls away again, and I find myself scrambling to keep perspective on whether or not I can even make ends meet. A camera is not a necessity.

Maybe next time I should just say no (or not volunteer).

I was not blogging or podcasting last year when a similar moment happened. But that time... my shots turned out fine, fully of story and tone. That time... led me to go ahead and say yes this time.

It was a very long day. We planned to be there just a few hours, home just after lunch so that I could have an afternoon of sewing while the kids absorbed themselves in minecraft and the science fair display board sections were typed up (hopefully not in that order). But at 4PM, the qualifying rounds were just ending. It was a very long day of standing around and, mostly, waiting and doing nothing.

I was so tired when I got home, I did something really indulgent and odd, something I used to do when I was 20-something. I had buttered popcorn and chocolate-covered toffee for dinner. There ya go!


Episode 171: Bacon Podcast

Catching up on a year started and a year gone buy.

Featured Podsafe Music:

Intro Clip: Jim Fidler ~ All I Really Wanted [PMN]
David Alter ~ Live for Today [Ariel Publicity]
Jennifer Richman ~ Home Inside [Ariel Publicity]



It is January 28. Just a few more days in the month are ticking away. As the first month of the year passes, there are several things I am hoping to complete, manage, share that will help get me firmly started on this year in terms of the notes I made of daily or monthly or yearly creative goals for 2013. It is not looking good, but I think there is still some possibility of putting a few things firmly in place. If January slips away, it is too easy to call the year a loss. So I am determined even if more than my share of busy at work and getting over some kind of flu.

You have a good guess as to what one of my "goals" for the month was, right?

For the moment, I am going to post this list, started last week and sitting here waiting to be pushed out, of things of recent note in my Facebook updates (and in open windows on my computer):

  • Doodles? Tangles? A Zentangle follower? Check out this open call -- and submit your tiles! Note the Feb 15 deadline. Do it! (As my oldest would say... "Come on peoples!") @CreateMixedMedia
  • Someone else recommended Wonder  by R.J. Palacio to me recently (or asked if we had read it). Seeing a Chapel Chronicles mini-review reminded me that I want to take a look at this one!
  • Check out Tammy Garcia's journal prompt cards in her Etsy shop. Need a nudge? Or know someone who does?
  • Awesome library photos... some libraries I would love to see and sit and read or write in. My library is way less than cool aesthetically. This is an eye-opening reminder to the beauty of books and space.
  • A new book and a list of books to check from Claire Vanderpools. (What I said when I saw it: "When I first read her list of recommendations, they felt 'too' classic. But looking closer... I think this is an interesting list (w a few token exceptions). Do you have favorites that appear here or ones you would like to read or have your middle readers read?")
  • Super cool small fabric globes.
  • Geeky whimsy: ice globe lanterns @MAKE.
  • On my list to watch: Mathematical Impressions: Can You Turn a Rubber Band into a Knot?
  • "Warning to Children" by Robert Graves -- It's a poem I did not know, but it's a poem my oldest recently chose for analysis and as a basis for writing his own poems in his humanities class. I like the poem very much. (And if you have a Minecraft player... there's a ring of that in here!)
  • I am an EverNote user... I thought this video on their career page was excellent.

I may need a brigade to ping me at night so that I manage to find my way to a computer, to words, to notes, and then... to the microphone. Not that desperate yet. But the days are ticking away!





A pointless photo, but after making my second full cup, I was thinking about a meeting I had this week. I typically manage to keep a low meeting profile, but before our once-a-month in person staff meeting this week, I agreed to a pre-meeting with a young scientist to talk about social media. She does not live in the Bay Area but was staying in Union Square for this (rare) city-based meeting. I don't spend much time in the Financial District or South of Market, so I poked around online to try and find a coffee shop near our main meeting location. Ultimately, Starbucks was easy to figure and count on. We met there... And she had a tiny hot chocolate. I downed my venti and then when we got to our main meeting, I welcomed the opportunity to refill my cup from an available carafe. Me and the other 40-somethings, I guess.

My young scientist explained that she has watched a parent who drinks two cups a day and knows it is in her genes and doesn't want to do that. Oh spare me! Like an ancient sage or an old tortoise, I told her there are way worse things you can do than drink coffee.

I am suddenly drinking more coffee than ever before (at home), and I still pass out in exhaustion each night before I manage to find any 'me' (creative) time.

"Coffee may be my one remaining luxury in life," I told the group around me. "I am definitely not going to begrudge myself my coffee!"

Drink it or don't. But spare the rest.

Here, I am hoping for some kind of quasi-normal (for me) weekend... which I hope means some time to work on something. I always hope :) I have spent too much time already this morning savoring my alone time and
watching the darkness fade around me into light as I browsed, played my morning games, evaluated some app options, and did some math as part of planning a 2013 collaborative yearlong project. Time now to move into the day... which means the kids are now up.

(Posting from mobile app... Still working out kinks with getting photos to work this way in this template. Would love a new template. Like the look of this one but a bad choice from code side.)