~:: A Sad Little Story ::~

Some of you aren’t going to understand this.

The last year has been just kinda hard. I shake my head at myself for writing that, knowing the kinds of things many of you have been dealing with. Mine has just been a niggling, if chronic, back and neck thing – just enough to pull the stuffing out of me and leave me sort of droopy and spiritless. But, you know, life is what it is. And plenty of dear things have happened, and I’ve read a lot of books instead of doing things.

It’s better now. Except sometimes. But again – it’s little. I’m little. It’s little.

I think I’m just tired.

A couple of weeks ago, we acquired a chicken. A dirty, scruffy buff Orphington (I think. What do I know?) who looked like the bottom of somebody’s pecking order. She had apparently escaped from the pompous black and white rooster (famous now, in that neighborhood around the barn, for obnoxiousness) down the way.

One morning, the barn was just us and the horses.

Next morning, there was this chicken.

She followed us around, discussing things at our backs. Scratched in the dust and old hay. Really commented on just about everything. Like I do.

I told G about her, and when he met her, he was charmed.  He took a number ten can full of oats and wheat and – of all things – beans from an old bean soup mix we’d never been brave enough to use. And she was very pleased. She’d eat out of his hand, never touching his skin, but getting every grain out of there—commenting, sometimes under her breath, but always cheerfully.  She had no use for the beans.

We talked about keeping her, but I thought someone might be missing her.  And I didn’t want chicken poop all over the barn (wouldn’t have been a big difference, and, in fact, wasn’t), so I went to a couple of neighbors, trying to find her real home. Never did find it. Which didn’t bother me, truth to tell.

Yesterday, she was charmingly broody, finding places in the scrap hay and settling down into them happily, vibrating and  commenting and squinching around till she had almost a nest. And she climbed the hay stack, looking back at me over her shoulder and explaining something.

I threw her three handfuls of G’s famous homemade feed. There are beans all over everything now.

This morning, she did not meet me the second I opened the barn door. Plenty of disgusted horses; I was late. I woke at an appallingly late hour, heavy and hurting more than I would have expected to at this point in things. They were hungry. I was late.

The barn felt very empty. Nobody commenting. Nobody pointedly scratching in the dirt.

Good, I was thinking. She went back home. But there was part of me that didn’t really mean the “good” part.

I set about my work, shaking out the horse bins, setting them in order. “You need water,” I told the horses, and started it running, went into Sophie’s place to shake out her horse-food-bowl. Looked down at the trough.

The chicken had drowned in it.

Her feathers were bright orange. Much more beautiful now. The dust had been hiding her color.

I had wondered about that trough, worrying about her drinking there. But for once in my life – no, it’s not the only time, and so, I suppose is representative of something – had not insisted on helments and seat belts and handwashing and not giving out personal information over the net.  On being home at a reasonable hour and eating right and wearing safety glasses when you solder.

Some of you are thinking, it was only a chicken.

You are the ones who I said wouldn’t understand; and that’s okay. Lucky you. One less in your list of hostages to fate.

After all my years of living, and I do not yet count as old among many (shrinking) circles, I have come to the peaceful and certain belief that animals have souls. They were not sent here to fight themselves like we are.  But they are who they are, and do what they do, and often have opinions of their own.  And are loved of God. And live forever somewhere else.

Just because we don’t understand somebody else’s comments doesn’t mean they weren’t meaningful.

Posted in Epiphanies and Meditations, Family, Just talk | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

~:: That Which Makes Us Tired ::~

In response to a blog recommended to me by my dear M: my comment.

It would appear that I can still write opinion. I may not be sitting down with images just now, or telling stories of family life, but I can still howl when trod upon. And why am I posting a comment on my blog and then on Facebook? Because I have always written to communicate, have always written for friends and family and kindred spirits. Because writing and reading sharing ideas is part of what has raised our species out of the muck.

And right now, I feel like the muck is pretty dang thick.  So I’m not actually recommending that you read EVERYTHING on the link that I’ve had shared on me, and now am sharing again, because there were lyrics here that repelled my eyes the way the wrong polar end of a magnet reacts. I got the point without reading them, thank you very much.  But the blog point is sharp and true.

You’ll force yourself to eat Kale – but we’ll take just about anything through our eyes and ears – like that kind of digestion doesn’t have just as much impact on our health and well-being. And the first comment? Very telling.

So, the link.  And so my comment:

That first comment was interesting. I’ve heard that kind of before, people trying to reason their way through their attraction to – I’m trying to come up with a term here – frippery could work, but it sounds so innocent. The destructive and seductive. Instead of the productive and beautiful (can’t come up with a light-filled rhyme there). I once accepted a literary award, and in my little speech to that audience of 500 plus folks, I talked about shoving darkness down the throats of students because, for some reason, we have decided that darkness is deeply meaningful, while light is just silly. This big guy, all dressed in black – another “children’s” author, came up to me and said, rather aggressively, “You said that darkness is a bad thing and we oughta not expose children to it. But what if a kid is *attracted* to darkness? They have a right to it, don’t they?”

I stared at him for a second – it was the end of the day, and I was finally packing up what books I had left over after the signing ordeal – and felt my face sort of squinch up – and I said, very frankly and honestly, “Well I don’t think THAT sounds real healthy.”

His face lost all its – umm, purpose, – and he said, in this amazingly little voice, “You don’t?”

Answer, nearly twenty years later: “I don’t.”

Stupid is probably the germinal word here. Like the people who signed the “Elect Karl Marx for 2016″ petition (YouTube). Like anybody who buys a bridge in Brooklyn, for whatever reason. Stupid was here on the earth, just waiting for us to show up – like a virus. Stupidity – good natured, angry, depressed, lecherous, well-meaning, euphoric – it comes in all flavors. It seems to be what we human beings are best at.

And yet, I don’t really believe that. I believe that we were meant for unimaginably great things. We just settle for so very little, so very often. Then again, I know people who don’t settle at all. I know people who have built great beauty out of just what they find around the house and heart and mind. And of them, I sing, Baby.  And on them, I pin my hope.

Posted in IMENHO (Evidently not humble), Just talk, mad | Tagged , | 14 Comments

~:: Frozen – a Case for Thawing Out a Little ::~

I haven’t blogged for months, and what finally goads me into writing? A movie. Or rather, some public reaction to a movie.       

When I saw the trailer for Frozen, months and months ago, I wasn’t interested; obnoxious snowman/comic relief/foil/”endearing” character, large animal anthropomorphized (or at least with the heart of a dog), perky heroine with great hair and eyes half the size of her face. The trailer just made me feel tired. I felt the same way about the trailers for Tangled.

But I started hearing that the movie was surprisingly good, and armed with my  eventual enjoyment of Tangled, I decided to see it.

Frozen was surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly) good. As is with every quality movie that will be seen by children, there are plenty of important talking points here. Added bonus: the movie is entertaining, offers lovely, engaging characters and is unquestionably beautiful to look at.

So why are some people so disturbed? I mean, beyond the usual Disney-princess yadda yadda or objection to animation. I think there are two answers to this:

1. I’m going to call Frozen a musical. That alone could be a count against it with many people. Especially male people. But that is what the movie is, so I’m going to refer to the script as “the book,” which is what you call the script of a musical. A “book” is not going to feel like a movie script. The lines are pitched differently.  I’d have to sit down with this and think about it carefully in order to articulate the mechanics here. But the point is, you go, expecting to watch a movie, and what you’re really watching is the pilot run of material that is meant to end up on the stage.  This is now the Disney process. And this film will make an impressive stage production.

Still, the “stage” feel of the writing and the blocking might put some people off, or at least, make them feel a bit uncomfortable. None of this bothered me at all, past the moment when I realized that the language was awfully stage-y.  I simply changed hearing modes, and it worked wonderfully for me.

2. My main point here: the way the story is built, it pivots on the moment when Elsa leaves her home and, once safely isolated, builds the ice castle. This  moment seems to be the focus of all the brouhaha. And the trigger is the now nearly-beaten-to-death song: “Let it Go.”

In terms of storytelling, this song is a mid-plot sort of fulcrum. It is sung by a young woman who, feeling rejected by the people she has cared about all her life and fearing her own nature, runs away and closes herself off. It is a song that absolutely nails adolescent suffering. It is a bitter denunciation of hope – hope for – more than acceptance- for love, for the great joy of being part of the community you love. I’ve felt all those feelings, and I’m willing to bet that most of you have also.

It’s a human “rights of passage” moment. When you slink off to pity yourself.

It is a perfect pivotal moment, when the emotional maturity hits it’s nadir – loud, passionate, immature – and a lie. The song is a young girl lying to herself. I believe the usual phrase for this in life is, “And I don’t even care.”

The problem here? Not that the song was sung in that moment of the plot, sung with that stinging passion. The problem was that the song was used again – this time, under the credits.

The credits are  the place usually reserved for summing-up songs: finally we fell in love, or see??? In the end the right is going to prevail, whether they like it or not – that kind of song.  The credit slot is  for the triumph pantheon of popular songs.

And during the credits of Frozen – that’s the moment when the song begins to warp – why? Because here it seems to be framed as a triumph song, not a mid-growth suffering song.  It becomes the summing up of the movie, rather than the moment when the character hits bottom.  Someone had a terrible lapse in aesthetic and philosophical judgment when they made that call.  The point of the movie is not triumph in running away and wallowing in defiant self-pity.  The point of the movie is that a pure and true heart can, and sometimes does, act as a catalyst for a miracle.  And that pain should not end in you turning your back on what’s really important – on the work of loving people.

If you understand the history of the song, you may understand better what I’m trying to say. The song was written to be a song of evil triumph – a moment not unlike Maleficent’s morph into the dragon. In that earlier version of the book, which is much closer to the source material, “The Snow Queen,” a Hans Christian Andersen tale, Elsa becomes a villain – heart frozen, cruel and vengeful. Thus the  song was first written not as a navel-gazing bit of self-medication, but as a weapon – sung at those she has come to destroy: “give it up,” meaning your hope.  I am here to destroy you.

The fact that the character, as she was coming to life in the story the Disney team was discovering, was not a villain. Quite the opposite.  Elsa, obeying both her parents and the magical advisors, sacrifices the love her heart treasures in order to protect the people around her.  She does NOT defy her parents. Neither girl does. The fault in this story lies in the understanding of the parents, which – you must admit – gives the film a certain heartbreaking verity. Rather than working with the strange gift their daughter has, helping her to discover what good it can do, giving her the balance and strength that growing up with love would offer, they want to hide her away, ultimately running from what they don’t understand.

It is this, more than any other thing, I think, that has given rise to the rather ugly and sad howls about the nature of Elsa’s situation. If the parents don’t understand her in this story, it must be because the writers built is so that what makes her different will be understood as whatever controversial and wildly popular difference of our own day and culture. And the assumption has been made by some that the writers are telling this story to make some specific politically correct point.  But the fact of the matter  is that the power to freeze things is morally neutral. There is no religious or cultural onus on it. And this is an old story – it doesn’t have to be bent in weird shapes to provide whatever metaphor the audience comes looking for – the metaphor was there from the beginning, and it is  broad. The story can be used as an allegory of thousands of things.  If one person is looking for ugly, she will find it.  If another is looking for beauty and light, she will find it. Using the self-same metaphor. And this is true even if there is an agenda lurking somewhere. You see what you look for.

I say this as a deeply religious person, by the way, a practicing (which means “living it”) LDS person who believes very much in the value of spiritual, moral, intellectual health anchored in belief – searching always for truth.

To throw the baby out with the bathwater – and that is a very apt phrase for what I’m saying – smacks of a certain hysteria, not of a heart that loves.

We all have children we don’t understand. Some of them turn out to be artists and that is our problem in understanding them.  Some of them don’t turn out to be artists, and that is our problem understanding them. Some have no sense of social interaction.  Some have only too much. Their dreams aren’t ours.  Their choice in clothing alarms us. Whatever. Choose any one of a million things that sends a child stamping up the stairs to slam the bedroom door. Why set this particular movie into some kind of absolute-evil-agenda stone? To do so is just silly.

I do realize that in any creative team, I am certain to find people whose personal attitudes and mores do not harmonize with my own, and I do not give this studio a pass just because it bears the Disney name. And I am not saying that your child can’t take away from – any experience – a “lesson” or message that you might not want them to have assimilated.  But I am saying that to accuse a creative team of evil intent, when the product was patently not evil in any way, is not productive.

Anyone who lets a child participate in ANY kind of entertainment – may it be books, TV, movies, commercial music – without experiencing it themselves is naïve and irresponsible. We need to participate WITH our children, seeing what they see, hearing what they hear. Learning their perspective. And using our own at the same time – not so much because we need to censure things, but because we need to learn from the children – what they think, how they think – what appeals to them in this book, this music – and why.  We can’t teach them without hearing them.  And hearing them react to outside things is a great opportunity to begin understanding on deep levels.  Shared context is of tremendous value.

For me, this movie was about love.

That is a simple statement, but it is the most important one. The relationship between Anna and Elsa is the beating heart here. Anna disregards her sister’s advice about love and suffers for it.  The child learns to trust the older heart.  And in the end, in all of the relationships, love and worth are proved by sacrifice – willing, spontaneous, dogged sacrifice. As it is in life.

Or should be.

And that is why I enjoyed the movie. And that is why I will buy it.

Posted in Epiphanies and Meditations, IMENHO (Evidently not humble), Movie reviews | 19 Comments

~:: Reset ::~

I don’t know if this starting again will work. Mostly because I don’t know why it stopped working in the first place. It has occurred to me that the problem might have been in having too much to say, and not enough lift to sort it all out. That doesn’t seem unreasonable, does it? And there was the genealogy, which is still on-going – and which I will try to explain at some point, but not now, because unravelling the complexity of my motivation is pretty much worth my life. And there was the fact of a physical crash.

Last January I started the year’s first big project: the book of my mom’s life. Full time, I was scanning, re-touching and color correcting, reading and re-reading her personal history, trying to establish a time-line and identify which pictures came where. Somewhere in the middle of the second month, my little body began to crash. Okay, my desk was so far from being ergonomically set up as to be just stupid, but that’s because I never really plan anything out; I just get an idea and plunge into things. When idea and plunge happen simultaneously, I can’t stop to line up my tools or worry about where my monitors are.

I got yelled at for that, for working in deeply unergonomic circumstances. Murphy, the computer mavin, lectured me and made me take everything off the desk and set it up intelligently. More intelligently, I mean – which still may not actually be qualifiable as fully intelligent. To be fair to me, I’d already bought an ergonomic chair, one of those kind you’re supposed to sort of kneel in. Of course, sometimes I just sort of put my feet where your knees are supposed to go – But all this was sort of shutting the barn door after the horses are all gone.

After some eight or so years of spending hours and hours in front of that bad set-up, twisting my spine wrong and using the dang mouse with my right hand – I was in trouble. My back was killing me and my right arm was alternately numb and aching, like it had bursitis. I went to the doctor and asked for a course of heavy anti-inflammatories, because that had helped before a couple of years ago. Took the meds and felt much better – for about four days. Then it was all back again. Couldn’t sleep because of back and arm.

And every time I got up from the couch (where I curl up and write or read or eat-on-the-fly, or knit, or whatever) I walked like a little old person, all bent over – couldn’t straighten up for a couple of minutes. Constant pain of many different kinds in many different places, and mainly in the small of my back. Which scared me. Cancer can show up as a back ache. Blood clots in the lungs can show up as middle back pains. All of a sudden, I was feeling very mortal.

So, okay – I’m sixty one. But that’s just information.

The more essential truth is I went into age denial at about 48, around the time I stopped recognizing my face in the mirror. Aging is a little like childbirth – only your bestest, wisest friends will remember to warn you not to take your pre-preg jeans to the hospital when you finally deliver, assuming that baby-going-out means jeans-finally-going-back-on. And maybe nobody CAN warn you about how the machine your spirit is running is finally going to wear down. How it begins to lag in efficiency. The cameras start to fail, and the microphones, and the gears. And I’m supposed to think that living another thirty years can still be a picnic?

So anyway, it came to me to go to this chiropractor that Chaz and Lorri both used after car accidents, suggested by their very-not-ambulance-chasing lawyer (discussion of what car insurance does NOT do for you and why you actually much engage a lawyer at another time) because this particular chiro-practice is very quantified and effective and is accepted in the courts as responsible information. I thought, if I go there, they can tell me if this IS a back problem or not – and if it is, they might help. And if it isn’t, we’ll go from there.

So I went. And found out some astounding things about my muscular/skeletal state. And went into rehab – and have been in rehab since September. And things are getting better, much better. By rehab, I don’t mean lying on a work-out ball and gently rolling back and forth.  I mean getting strapped into weight machines and hauling huge amounts of weight using only my neck.  Or my core.  This stuff is WORK.

But the fact remains that, sometime in February, it was like somebody pulled a plug on my energy, and I am still dragging. Is it just age? I don’t know. I have done a million things in spite of all this.  I do at least two miles on the treadmill every single day, and sling hay, and argue with horses and make stuff.

But even back in May, when the fam took me to Disneyland, I didn’t feel like I had half the energy even to want to go. I don’t know. Maybe I am old. That would – ummm – suck eggs. To find that I actually am as old as I look. Which is bad.

——- January 7th

Oh PHOOEY.  The problem is that I can’t WANT TO DO ANYTHING. Like I’m exhausted all the dang time. WHY IS THIS?  I can think of reasons for every dang month in the last year, but it’s not like last year was any different than any other year. Well, I’m finished with the whining. I’ve put images up on Flickr since last year, meaning to blog them. And now I’m going to do it and back date the blogs.  But they’ll all be under the old, wilted header image.

And I’ll try to remember to put links to the backdated stuff here – I mean if anybody wants to read what a big fat whiner has to say. Or see what a whiner  - wait, you can’t actually see whining, can you?  Maybe you can. Well.

Oh, poop, anyway.

Birthday at Disney,  2013

including Cars Land

June, going South, 2013

The Desert

June and October, 2013

Blue Hair

November 11, 2013

I think these are just Autumn shots

Gifts for Gin, 2013

What I made

November 27, 2013

The feast

First real snow, first of Dec, 2013

And whining about some people I know

The Crazy Christmas Party, 2013

ORNAMENTS

Christmas Making, 2013

More stuff I made

Christmas Day, 2013

Posted in whining | 24 Comments

~:: Christmas Day ::~

So, Chaz came to stay overnight on Christmas Eve, as she always does. But she did not get up before dawn.  Neither did we.  The kids were all going to show up at about nine, so the following pictures are NOT Christmas morning, but once were, the whole family up in the dark with the lights burning fiercely outside as the excitement and joy burned just as fiercely at the hearth, where “hung” the stockings.

So I put these pictures of the lights first, to get myself in the mood, here.

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And these are the snowflakes I made with the wood. I just stuck them on the tree for fun.  And just stuck the pictures here the same way.

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Christmas morning.  Now that we’re all grown up, we get to start with breakfast. We have bacon and sausage and Mama’s fried potatoes and waffles and eggs and cracked wheat cereal.  We have orange juice and milk and hot chocolate and egg nog and we start with sweet rolls, as my Mama was wont to do. Except that this year, we bought frozen cinnamon rolls and forgot to get them out of the freezer.  So we stuck them into the oven to thaw out, hoping we’d have them not long after the end of the rest of the breakfast.

I realize that not everybody at this table is all grown up (actually, I wonder if any of us are), but the tiny ones had been up since six, and had opened their family gifts already. So no children were harmed in putting breakfast first.

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We use my grandmother’s good goblets, and the table is the richer for Laura’s mother’s pine centerpiece. Guy is the chef.

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And yes, both Andy and I should have had our eyes closed just then.

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Andy in her spanking new princess dress.  Scooter is wearing a costume, too, but he’s drowned it in rabbits at the moment.

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Andy, who had been feeling poorly for a week, still was, and got quieter and sleepier as the morning went on.  Her father, it turned out, was on the same path, and was dragging badly by the time the last gift was opened.

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Later, we’d end up with several devices out, talking to Gin and family over Face Time so they could watch us open their presents to us, and we could watch them open ours.  This kind of thing has snuck up on us so gradually that you have to take a step back so you can feel the amazing miracle of it. Yeah, they used to talk about video phones – but here we are – just doing it, like it’s normal, talking to somebody several states away, and watching their faces as they open their presents. It’s so – future.  But it feels so – the way things should be.

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No record of our family gatherings is complete without this photo: Cam wouldn’t know how to live without a lens attached to his hand.

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Okay, this picture is significant because Andy was never ever going to take off that princess dress, ever again. But when she opened my present – she DID.  Here is sick Andy with her fish.

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And Scooter – or Peter the Apostle, with matching fish.

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It was at about this point – hours into the morning, when we finally remembered that those rolls were thawing and rising in the oven.  Yeah. They were gigantic by then and pretty lurpy. But we baked ‘em anyway, and they smelled great.

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And there you have it.  I don’t have an ending image.  I’ll just have to say that it was a sweet day in spite of viruses and overblown cinnamon rolls.  It’s so odd – Christmas is just another day of the week, really – and we get together with this bunch of people every other Sunday like clockwork.  But you add the spiritual feast together with the Renaissance/Victorian visual feast, and the mysteries in the boxes, and the delighted anticipation of both giver and given-to, and the day drops out of time. Magic, every single year, if you let it be.  And I say, God bless it.  And you.  And yours.

Much love to you all.  And hope that the following year will see some sense return to the world, so that love abounds and children are safe, innocence protected and rejoiced of. That hearts will mend, spirits strengthen, the world become more healthy, arising as if from a strange sleep into the light of a new day.

Kisses!  K –

Posted in Christmas, Family, Fun Stuff, Gin, HappyHappyHappy, holidays, Pics of Made Things, Seasons, The g-kids, The kids | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

~:: December Making ::~

More evening light in the middle of the afternoon.  This is what my studio looks like at Christmas.

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Sewing machine, organic bits of this and that, inorganic bits of this and that -

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Here is a little deer.  I’ve been wanting to make one for a long time.  Last year, I finally did plenty of things I’d wanted to do for a long time.  This year, not so much, till I did this guy.  He (if he gets antlers) or she (if he doesn’t) is my prototype.  For once, the pattern worked right the first time.  I was surprised and down right pleased when I got him turned inside out and stuffed.  His legs are bits of the trimmed wildish Potawatomi plum trees from the back yard; the bark is smooth and dark and makes very nice legs.

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Deer one and two together.  Two got a coat of paint and is definitely a doe.

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I think she’s lovely.  The light in the room could have been better.

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She’s good natured, too.

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I decorated a couple of stools, too.  By this time, I was coming down with some odd cold (thank you, Jane, for the very effective garlic pills). I’d been planning to do a stool for Rachel all year, but G kept hinting – sadly, knowing I’d never remember him in all the rest of the stuff I was doing.

To get his done before Christmas I had to do this crazy wait-till-G-leaves-then-drag-all-my-paints-out, then keep an ear out for him to return, then HIDE EVERYTHING –  which was helped along by the fact that I was also doing Rachel, so some the mess was explained quite innocently.  It was actually good that I was too sniffly and coughy and worn out to go to church or family parties.  I magnanimously put up a brave I-don’t-need-nursing front (I really didn’t need it – I was just contagious) and sent him to these events without me, then spent the time feverishly coughing and snivelling and wood-burning and painting.  Even Leslie and Sterling were in on the subterfuge,  calling to warn me when they started home from the family party with G in tow.

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Done for Rachel, to remind her of her chickens and her mountains and her horses and the sheep in the back field – and everything.

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For G – it’s supposed to be a brown trout, but I sort of messed up the coloring.

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The coyote among sheep here is a character I used to draw a lot when I was in grad school, and for several years of the first of our marriage.  The sheep are there because I find that I love doing sheep.

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The dogs are silly – and there’s even a real dog hair forever preserved under the varnish.

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For Scooter, I made an Apostle Peter suit. Took me most of a day to pull it off, but it ended up kinda cool.  It came complete with a fish , since – well, you know.

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This little dress, I whipped up in a couple of hours – to my TREMENDOUS delight.  I used this tutorial. The result was very satisfying. I embellished the bodice with one of the little birds from the scraps.  I’d also made a fish for Andy – two more fishy presents.

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There were a couple of other things I messed around with making during the month.  Mostly, it didn’t go beyond the mess part.  But one last thing worked out to be a lot of fun:  last year, I found this cool piece in the magazine Christmas Ideas about designer, Karin Lidbeck‘s wooden snowflakes. I’d bought a bunch of the wood bits from the craft stores over the year meaning to make some of these, and I finally sat down during December to mess with them. There will be better pictures of these later.

Posted in Christmas, Fun Stuff, Making Things, Pics of Made Things, Seasons | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

~:: Christmas Fête 2013 ::~

I didn’t shoot a lot of images of anything this year.  But I did remember to ask to borrow one of Cam’s photo lights so that I could shoot the Christmas Party ornaments – so you guys could see them all.  We did forget to assign a scribe, and I cannot remember who made what.  I’m going hunting for the info, but if you see yours and it isn’t identified, or if you remember who made what, give me a shout in the comments and I’ll give credit.

Look, I apologize – cause I usually clean these shots up and crop them and straighten them, but I’m doing almost a whole year at one time here, and if I stopped to do it, I’d never finish and then I’d be right back where I was, where everything is just too HARD. So, please forgive the lack of aesthetic? First a little bit of winter domesticity:

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Even when it’s cold, the light warms up my little Christmas house. I LOVE these shots; they make us look like home.

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Okay. Now – for the ornaments. I didn’t even take a shot of party folks this year – we wore ourselves totally out with the game, and it was just too late. Besides, neither Cam nor Gordon were able to come and help me set up. I  still can’t believe I didn’t do it.

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Ha! I remember this one – it was Peg’s first. And she made a JOY one, too – but I didn’t get to shoot it.  How fun is this? Glass balls full of stuff are pretty magical.

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Okay, not exactly DIY, here. But we let Gordon get away with shells for years; how could we deny Dick? I can’t tell what the little paper says.  I think this whole thing was Dick’s bottom dollar.

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Rosemary’s Modus Operandi: tiny, tiny complicated, detailed little guys with tons of even tinier embroidery.  A peppermint house, for your pleasure. Chaz has it.

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Mark H. made this star of burnished copper.  I love metal pieces like this, and I’m always wanting to make some.  I shoulda asked  Mark how -

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This was Rebecca and Danny’s, procured in a deep South American forest, at the foot of portentous ruins.

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Rachel’s charming, bemused little owl.  Ric rac.  I remember Ric rac.  But not how to spell it.  Mom had tons of it. I think I have some too.  I’ll have to dig it out.

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Cara’s sugar-plumb lights.

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Murphy’s very simple but highly symbolic piece. The circle is eternity – held inside the square, which is mortal life.  Which is pretty thought provoking, if you think about it -

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Danielle made this swell, jolly Santa Love the bits of ivy.  But I think my favorite part is the mittens.  Well, and his nose.

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Lynd, who hates having to do this stuff, is always brilliant. This guy is caved into a wooden spoon.  Marilyn, who had lost wonderful thing after wonderful thing, finally won it. He better make another one for Meridee.

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Close-up. Lind, honestly – what would you do with all that crafty gift if you hadn’t this party as a good-natured goad?

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Marilyn made this fetching set of guys.  Big fights.  Ooooooh-ahhhhhhh.

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They’re hilarious and amazing, yes?

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My lovely Laura, a fellow author, brought two brilliant red birds. (She was merciful and shared one with her bummy husband.)  We are an eclectic group – I’m woodsy-craftsy, Laura is elegant-craftsy.  Wonderful.

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Melissa, who lives with Chelsea and Chaz, and who is a world-class costumer, hand-beaded this gorgeous Victorian glass concoction.

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Gaye’s tiny nativity scene.  Honestly – the square is about an inch across.  And it’s  two sided  - with -

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this wonderful tree on the front.  Or the other way around. I love the detail. And I love the way the tree escapes the frame.  And it’s on my tree because G won it.  And I am happy.

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This is Tricia’s hipster sweater, done up in felt. Danielle was very pleased to take it home.

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Bob, who always carves something, did this partridge in a pear tree.  Which I WON.

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Swell, huh?  AND IT’s MINE.  Unless he doesn’t make one for Debbie, in which case I will be forced to part with it.  How could you not keep something like this in the fam?

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These guys are Sam’s.  He’s a real paid artist (sigh – living the dream) – who evidently is not limited to creating “3-D” characters on the flat – cause these three guys are in three remarkable dimensions:

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Sam – is this Gonzo?  Because it looks like Gonzo. No. It really does. Except maybe with more teeth.

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Phil made this cribbage game.  It’s tiny.  I didn’t get to look at it really close.  Is it leather?  Because Phil always does leather.

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Meridee made this guy.  And I love him.  I love him so much.  Falalala much.  You didn’t knit him, huh?  This is recycled wool, isn’t it?  A sweater, right?  TELL -

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Ginger was the first person EVER to have her ornament go 4 owners +.  She BLEW this glass.  It was beautiful and everybody fought over it, and it was gone before my number even came up.  Somebody stole it from Murphy. Dang good thing I don’t remember who.

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G’s little tree.  Once he had the idea, he made the essential bit in about twenty minutes.  We had a great time picking the right beads for the joints. It was SO WONDERFUL – and got passed around and stolen almost as many times as Ginger’s did.  I wanted it.  Then Marilyn wanted it.  Then Rachel wanted it – and Rosemary ended up with it.  But the rules don’t cover after-party wheeling and dealing, except to prohibit outright physical intimidation,  so it’s on MY tree now.

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This came from Gomm’s – I don’t know whether Jeannie or David made it. Lovely work. As always.  They teach classes, by the way.  And they’re really fun.

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Chelsea – SO steam punk.  Gears and keys to make the lace and points. Brilliant.

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Debbie’s annual mobile. Her work is so perfect – charming shapes, perfectly balanced – and each one with character.  I really love the tree best.  It’s those rounded edges, reminds me of the stacking toy we had when I was little.

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Kathy’s first guy – another magical ball full of things.  This one is a nativity.

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This guy is mine.  He was very rustic, as you can tell.  Why bother sanding when you’re going to burn the heck out of something.  I had a ton of fun making  a bunch of single ones.  Some weren’t great, and some – well – the front would have one horizon, but the back might be 90 degrees off.  These three were perfectly lined up, thankfully.  They were made of a branch of the river birch by our front gate. All three pieces turn – they all have different little things on front and back.  Guy did the drilling.

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Steve always makes a meticulous and elegant wooden ornament. This year – I don’t know how he came up with this concept, and I don’t know who finally won it. It totally reminds me of chocolate oranges.

2013-12-15-Winter-299 Okay.  This was an extra guy I made in case I had an emergency deal to make. Which I did have.  And it’s a good thing I had this in my back pocket, I’m tellin’ ya.

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This little bird of Lynn’s that charmed everybody to the point of covetousness.  It started with Danielle, who loved it.  And then someone heart-crushing stole it.  Then someone stole it from them.  Did everybody own this for at least five seconds?  Lynn’s felt is always so detailed -

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This is an actual original painting by one of my favorite artists, Mark Beuhner.  Mark illustrates gorgeous children’s books, and his wife, Cara, writes them – wonderful, funny books.  Fanny’s Dream will always be my favorite (well – I suppose that could change, if they keep putting books together).  This painting is a nod to Snowmen at Night, which every child should have read to him or her (buy it on Amazon and you will never regret it),  and all the books in that series.

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Nobody understands how Terri does these things. They are TINY, and always detailed and amazing. Big fights over her stuff every dang time.  I have to put my glasses on to see what it is, to say nothing of discerning the stitches.

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For some reason, I didn’t get a shot of Chaz’. But it was one of her trees.  I include two samples of similar things, here.  She is a tree-maven.

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Posted in Christmas, Events, friends, Fun Stuff, holidays, Making Things, The kids | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

~:: While Rachel was in Cancun ::~

Some people are very insensitive. They forget that not everybody can just jet off at the beginning of December, leaving children for endless blue water, and fairly nice December weather in the mountains for the warm yellow light of the southern regions. That not everybody enjoys photo reminders that they have been left behind, especially when all of a sudden, the weather back home  goes from nice to blizzard overnight.

I don’t have any of the pictures of Cancun – though I did see several such pictures, generously posted on Facebook.  On the other hand, I have plenty of pictures of home during that time. Which I am now going to show you:

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This was only the beginning. You will note how dull the light is.  That’s because it’s snowing, see.  And the clouds are very heavy and the sun has gone to Cancun.

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The four deer who live on the porch were aghast to find themselves blinded by the snow.

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This is so sad.  Don’t they look puzzled?  At least I got to run the lights during the day – they showed up very nicely, even at noon.  If there was a noon that week.

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Just a little storm.   Drifts on the planters.

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ALL the planters.

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In the back, the lines of lights began to grow into something else -

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That’s the way it happens – you get some physical structure covered by water, and the little coral animals come and attach themselves and build these lovely, odd structures on them.  That’s what I found in my backyard – just like what I’d have found as I snorkeled in Cancun.  If I had been invited to go there, I mean.

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Then again, MY coral lights up.

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And – who needs documentaries on arctic foxes when you live with two of them?  Above, you see the fox after flying up in the air, ready to plunge nose first into the snow in search of – well, I don’t really know what lives under the snow in our front yard.  Probably mice, right?  Couldn’t be snakes.  Maybe there’s a whole nother kind of animal that lives with us in the winter without every once being seen? Anyway –

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This is what arctic foxes get – white noses.

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I hope it doesn’t embarrass them.

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This is what it looked like inside the house in the afternoon with the lights out.  Of course, the camera exaggerates things a little. It wasn’t really this dark.  Only nearly.

Posted in dogs, Seasons, The outside world | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

~:: The Tiniest Family Thanksgiving ::~

Okay.  So life gets very complicated when your children grow up and start marrying people, and by default, the other people’s families.  Once it was just no big deal, filling up the places at the table. I can remember, both with Chaz and with M, parking them on the table in their baby carriers, and thinking with wonder about what it would be like some day when those people were big enough to sit in big chairs – all of us in big chairs, all around the table like a real family.

Somehow, we have shot right past that point and the chairs are empty again.  But we can’t take the leaves out of the table, because on many a Sunday, they’re all full again.  The thing is, when you’ve got a child married, you no longer own the holidays. Not any of them. Instead, you have entered into the age of parcelling them out. If you’re lucky. Like – this year, you guys come to our house.  Next year to the Pappenheimer’s house. (None of my kids actually married a Pappenheimer, but I used to babysit for some, and I still love the name).

Then you have TWO children married.  And they marry into families where there are more than one married kid – and suddenly, there’s this huge complexity of who goes where when which year.  Assuming the ungrateful whelps of children don’t decide to have a holiday in their OWN houses.

This becomes an interesting problem at both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  These are times when that old hope that your children will grow up to marry orphans begins to sag a bit in the face of reality.  Not that I regret sharing Gin with Kathy. Because I don’t.  Most of the time.  But this specific is a moot point, since Ginna doesn’t come up here at Thanksgiving anyway, seeing that she lives in New Mexico and their busiest dentist time is during periods when school is out.

Anyway – so far, we’ve been lucky: our fellow in-laws are kind of on the same schedule we are. Which can mean that we have all the kids here at one time some years.  But which also means that this year, all the kids were somewhere else. The real aggravation was that Cam and L and the three tiny Wild Ones drove down to GINNA this year.  So half the family was down there. And even Chaz’ buddy, Chelsea flew home to the East.  Which left just the three of us.

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When I chose this picture, it was because I loved the busy table. I didn’t realize that Chaz had her mouth gaping open. Which was her own fault.  I mean, I wasn’t hiding the fact that I had the camera up to my face. So here it is – just don’t look at her.  I like the warm colors here.  And that bottle is sparkling fruit juice, just so you know.

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So we were a tiny family – but the turkey (which G always gets up really early to stuff and start) and the gravy (the most important part) and dressing (ditto) were deee-lectable.

Oh – and just for the record, last year, we had Thanksgiving (with everybody) a week early because Gin was going to be here.  She actually ended up with two Thanksgivings, one here and one at Kathy’s, so we chose to have meatloaf (wasn’t it meatloaf?) instead. But then we had turkey for the smaller group on The Day.  But we’ve also been known to have it on Friday, or the weekend. Love is what it’s all about, after-all.  Not what day of the week.  So a belated happy thanks-giving day – but, you know – that should probably be every day, anyway.

Posted in A little history, Family, holidays, Seasons, The kids | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

~:: Odd Gifts by Hand ::~

For those who choose to live in far-away places (even not so very far-away is far), gifts have to be chosen or made and wrapped and in some way conveyed across space long before the Great Holiday happens. I really don’t like making presents for Christmas. Whenever I do it, I end up cramming needles into things and making do when the machine breaks down or trying to figure out how to work on something and hide it at the same time – and usually, I end up finishing the stuff at the very last minute. It’s anything but peaceful.

I like Christmas to be joyful, peaceful and lovely. Frantic doesn’t feel Noel-ish to me.

Gin and her family are hard to gift. People who can get things for themselves  throughout the year, all on their own, are hard. Grown up children are hard. Beloved people who you no longer live with and only actually see a couple of times a year are hard.

Little people hunger for things they can’t get for themselves. That’s what makes the gift morning such a merciful and magical thing. But how do you delight a grown up? What relief or wonder can you weave into a surprise for someone with his/her own nice checking account?

So I go for silly. Silly is delightful, too. And Gin loves crazy things. So I looked all year for odd, appealing ideas so I could send her something crazy. I had a pile of recycled sweaters and felt – aw heck, I have a little of everything. And I made the boys something crazy, too. And I bought a shirt for Kris that was slightly crazy. And I wrapped it all up. And I sent it all down with Cam at Thanksgiving.

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I sort of organized the wrapping stuff in baskets and boxes. It pleased me to have these things as a sort of decoration all on their own, stacked on the dining room table, waiting for the flurry of gifts, ready to go.

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I saw some platypus guys on line and knew Max would love one.  So I made him one in Perry colors, with his initial and a heart on the stomach, working in recycled sweater and bits of fleece.  The designer who inspired me makes and sells these (mine are not half as cool), so if you want to buy one, let me know and I’ll send you the link.

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Sandy’s was red.

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And for Gin, a fish that came from this designer.  Three different felted sweaters make his tail, body and upper fin.  His tail has a wonderful beaded, kind of star-fishy design on it.

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And that’s the tale of my making for Santa Fe.

Posted in Felt stuff, holidays, Making Things, Stuffed things, The g-kids, The kids | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments