Sunday, May 31, 2009

Birds, birds, birds...

We've had lots of new birds in the yard. Cardinals, goldfinches, nuthatches, robins and all the usual Mid-Atlantic suspects. They jockey for position at the bird feeders. They camp out on the garden fence, keeping an eye out for delectable bugs (go birds!). My favorite pair of ravens hasn't shown up yet, but I'm sure I'll see them. They've been here every summer for 8 years.
I even saw one of my beloved blue herons fly over. Every time I see one I think of dinosaurs - they look so wonderfully prehistoric.

But there was one visitor that I spotted on the fence of the horse paddock next door that I have never, ever seen in our woods. It was a juvenile bald eagle! I felt like I had won the lottery. My DH ran for the binoculars, and I actually saw the eagle's profile - straight from some patriotic photo shoot - that marvelous hooked bill. While I watched him, sitting there calmly (eyeing my neighbor's fish pond, or perhaps their small dog), a determined blue jay attacked him. The eagle was not fazed in the least. Finally, he spread his massive wings and flew off into the woods. I wish I could have taken a picture of him. I know if I had gone for the camera, I would have missed watching him.

So of course, with all the bird business going on here, I have been making bird collages, and strange bird plushies. I'll post the strange bird plushie as soon as I finish sewing on her skirt. Yes, she does have a skirt and she loves it.

It seems I have birds on the brain. As opposed to a bird brain. :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

They're back!

Two of my kids are home from college. Granted, they're a lot cuter (and even smarter) than locusts, but they do just about the same damage. My oldest son is in a 'wait state'. He's getting an apartment near campus with 5 of his closest friends (wouldn't you just love to live next door to them?) in a couple of weeks. Basically, until then, our house is just one big storage container that serves meals.

My daughter is home, too, and since her small bedroom is filled to the brim with the amazing artifacts of her limitless creativity (this is a pic of one part of her desk area --->)...her dorm room has been tucked into an alcove for the summer.

Make that several alcoves. Actually we could use some new alcoves because we seem to be running out.

Like locusts, they destroy every room they enter. I'll admit, they have help from their friend locusts, but still, it's an amazing thing to witness. I had no sooner cleaned the kitchen when this happened.
<--------- They work fast, leaving only corn stalks in their wake. But what amazes me most is the laundry. How can there be so much? I couldn't even open the door to get into the laundry room. When I did, and I climbed Laundry Mountain, I couldn't open the dryer door. I had to drag everything into the mud room. Look at my poor doggie, she's afraid I'm in trouble and need rescuing. She's right! Help me, Sophie!!! (and I took this picture AFTER I cleaned out half of what was in there)

So I've decided to give a college course on how to do laundry. If you have a student who likes to think you're dumb enough to buy into the "I don't know how to do it" line that I'm getting around here, send them right on over. I'll clear the boxes out of the living room and amaze them with a Powerpoint presentation.

Of course, everyone who passes my course will receive a diploma: a B.L.S.
The coveted Bachelor of Laundry Sciences. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some notes to prepare.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Frida Friday

I made this little painting of a young Frida yesterday. It seemingly came from out of the blue, which made me ponder my creative process a little. Lately I seem to be all over the map: stitching plushies, painting plushies, writing, not-writing, drawing strange girls with their pets (what is THAT about?). There doesn't seem to be any connection between any of it. It's a little random, even for me, and believe me, I am a random kinda gal.

Is it just the time in my life? Kids swooping in from college, swooping out again, teens angsting and hormoning (I am inventing new words this morning!). My youngest 'graduating' from grade school. Maybe I just can't concentrate any more - maybe my poor old brain is firing on one sad little cylinder ("I think I can, I think I can!"), and anything added into the mix just causes a short.

Life is so busy for everyone, and it seems to me lately, that so many people I know and love are going through really hard times. Events are unfolding in their lives that are paradigm shifts. All that tough stuff that eventually we all have to face in one flavor or another. So it occurred to me, maybe this is my way of 'smelling the roses'. And one day the roses are all about working on my novel, but the next day, different roses call my name. As for Frida - here's a lady who had terrible physical pain, from a very early age, but she went on to live an amazing life. She chronicled her pain in her art. I've often wondered if she did that to give it less power, or maybe just because it was so much a part of who she was. But she didn't let it stop her.

So maybe my little Frida is telling me something. Maybe she's giving me permission to be as random as hell, and to just keep working. I'd like to think that. If so, thanks, Frida.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Maybe if I make a list of my lists....

I'm a compulsive list maker. The end. Because that's as far as my organizational skills take me. And I don't make my lists in a lovely notebook, or a Blackberry - I use backs of envelopes, the bottom of my son's homework scratch paper, the torn off top of a cereal box, or the back of a grocery receipt. It seems to me that I make lists on things that will be next to impossible to find. I'm thinking Freud would have a field day with that, because what good is a list if you can't find it? Or you find it after all the things on the list don't matter anymore?

Some part of me loves it when I find a very old list. I look at the handwriting, so I know it's mine. But what does "Check BRD" mean? Check the bedroom door? Was there some hole I was going to spackle? Maybe it means "Check beneath red drum". I like that, it sounds so mysterious! Maybe I have multiple personalities and one of them is a spy!

I don't just make lists of things I have to do or buy. I also make lists of ideas. Ideas for stories. Ideas for plushies. These are really fun to find later..they're kind of like reading a dream. "There is a strong man with pigtails...(unable to read the rest because of Diet Coke stain)." Was that an idea for a softie? A novel? Someone following me in my multiple personality spy life? Who knows.

The hardest part is knowing what to do with all my orphan lists once I discover them. Should I recycle them and let them become part of the List Cosmos? Have a ceremonial bonfire in the backyard, and send their little organized spirits sailing up into the air?

I usually stack them up and try to clip them together. Then I make stacks of the little stacks. When I get too many stacks, I jam them into a zip-lock and date the front of it. In my defense, they are hard to throw away.What if somewhere on a list is the perfect idea for a story? Or an incredible monster plushie? Or maybe there's a doctor's appointment listed in there somewhere? I can't risk it.

And so the lists float around my house, and my car, and my kitchen table, and my snowflakes that I diligently collect and clip together. Maybe someday, far in the future, an archaeologist will find them. I can see him opening the zip-lock marked "MAY 2009". He pulls out a torn paper napkin and reads:

1. Pick up L after school
2. Milk/salad stuff
3. Yeti would be very cool - look up
4. You need to move SC to the LP and and get rid of BG earlier.
5. Check BRD

Then he reaches for the Motrin.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Mother of All Days...

It's almost Mother's Day, so first and foremost, I want to wish any female on this planet (or any other planet for that matter) who ever came into contact with a child on a regular basis a very happy day. You deserve a day of peeled grapes and other delectable treats, served to you by tall handsome men. To all my friends who have helped raise my wild brood over the years, a heartfelt thank you. I'll send those men and grapes right on over. To my own ma, thank you for putting up with me. You could have left me in the woods many times (all those camping trips held many golden opportunities!), but you didn't. (Why I am thanking you on a blog, I have no idea, since you refuse to own a computer.)

My kids & stepkids have kept me on my toes, and taught me several things:

1. I could have had a career as a drill sergeant. A very good drill sergeant.
2. You can live off of three hours sleep a day, you just won't make any sense.
3. I am completely out-numbered, so never mind about the clean house idea.
4. The pets are all mine.
5.The answers to "What did you do at school today?" (when they are little) and "What did you do last night?" (when they are teens) are exactly the same!
6. Never ask your child to do anything until they have completed their level on WOW.
7. Teenagers and puppies have a lot in common: bursts of manic energy followed by long, ill-timed naps.
8. Time exists on another plane altogether for kids. "Wait a minute," can actually mean "Wait until hell freezes over." Which I'm not sure is going to happen anytime soon.
9. My parental opinion is ranked directly underneath that of the garden snail. But it is above the amoeba! Good news, that!

But the most important thing my children have taught me is:

10. Don't sweat the small stuff. Forget about those failing grades! SAT tests! Clean rooms! Hygiene! Never mind all that piddly stuff - because raising a child is a short, exciting, love-filled ride. Just hold on, have fun, and remember...take lots of pictures. :)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Renee Award

I’ve taken a little while to post about the Renee Award, and I apologize for that. It came to me out of the blue, from the lovely Sonia, of The Dark Ravens Nest. I had never heard of the award (being as how I am a blogging newbie) and so I got myself over to Renee’s blog and let me tell you this: her blog is not to be missed. She is an amazing person and an incredible writer (go back and read her prior posts - they're fantastic). She has that gift – where as you’re reading, you hear the person’s voice in your head, and it’s like you’ve known her all your life. It’s like she’s sitting across the table from you chatting. I love that! I love slipping into other people’s houses and lives, and listening to them. I love it when I chuckle out loud – which I did! And I cried, too. She's honest, and shoots straight from the hip. Renee is a ‘drink of cold water on a hot day’, as my ma would say. She is very brave. I admire her so much, and I am humbled as I write this.

I am to pass on the award to eight people. They (if they are so inclined) are each to pass it on to 8 other people. As Sonia said in her post:

“The Renee award was created by Bella and Ces in honour of their friend Renee. In Bella's own words "this is a brand new award and I have the pleasure and honor of spreading the seed, watching it grow. I hope it finds it's way to those who are like Renee: the acorn, a small package becoming a tall and sturdy oak, giving more acorns, becoming tall and sturdy oaks, giving acorns…”

So the 8 little acorns I have chosen are:

Susan at 29 Black Street – her musings on life with her critters in a quaint seaside village are really wonderful. Her art is wonderful! And I have an old dog that could be Winnie’s cousin!

Marsha at Tumble Fish Studio – take one look at her sweet collages and you will be hooked for life! Marsha writes honestly and humorously about life in Southern California, and her art.

Mariann Johansen-Ellis – an amazing artist that spends her time between Spain and Singapore. Her work is glorious and whimsical, and she is so generous with her praise of others she discovers here in Internet World.

Chickory – Another incredible artist who lives in Georgia with her critters (a dog named Trout – I love that) and chickens, chickens, chickens. I’ve never been to Georgia, but Chickory makes me want to live there.

Chris of Designs by CK – his blog is full of whiz-bang Halloween tech goodies and spooky eye-candy. He makes wonderful Halloween art pieces. And Chris is one of the warmest and most generous people I’ve met since starting my blog.

Sloe Gin Fizz - Nicole muses about her new life in Michigan, and the culinary delights she discovers. She makes wonderful and whimsical art, which will make you happier just to look at them. So you should!

Ika from Vanilla Vain – Ika has this limitless energy that makes its way to me all the way from Jakarta, Indonesia. She’s like a good, strong, cup of coffee! She makes wonderful, funny collages and in general seems to be enjoying life to the hilt.

Laurie of Monkey-Cats Studio – Laurie is just an amazing artist, who has taken paper clay to new and fantastic levels. Her work is full of whimsy and humor. Her blog lets you watch her WIPs, and give you a glimpse of life in Nebraska. If you’re feeling a little blue, pop on over to Monkey-Cats and look at some of her pieces. You’ll perk right up!

As a matter of fact, you’ll perk up if you go to any of these blogs. They are all amazing!

If any of my little acorns have an award-free blog site, it’s okay not to post. It's okay to do nothing at all, but if I were you, I'd check out Renee's blog, and all the others here. Good inspiration all around!

And thank you, Sonia, for thinking of me! Xox Pam