Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Have You Ever Thought About the Story -Before- the Story?

As I headed into my room, my step jarred the music box in my bedroom on top of my dresser shelf. That single note in the middle of it’s round paused my step as I headed over to my dresser, curious and delighted. It had been so very long since my trinket had made a sound, I’d have thought that it was no longer capable of doing so.

It’s hardly larger than a pill box, gold colored, though hardly made of the precious metal, and enameled in lovely shades of green. I still remember the day that I purchased it. I walked into a gift store attracted by the windchimes and the way the light caught the pretty glass baubles. And as I walked around, I knew that I wanted this box to hold my wedding bands when I needed to take them off. You see, on the lid is a charming little frog with green cubic zirconi eyes. And I had married my prince charming (:

As I wound it up and listened to the pleasing tinkling sounds, I dressed for bed and thought of the Frog Prince Tale. As my eyes grew heavy, a smile curved my lips and my musings followed me into slumber.

Oh we all know the classic tale of spoiled princess, golden ball, frog that turns out to be an enchanted prince, a promise and a kiss. But dreams aren’t bound to the tales we’ve grown up hearing…

Once upon a time, oh so very long ago, in an enchanted forest, there was the most beautiful sparkling waterfall. The sound of the water running over the rocks tinkled like music and any that heard it would find themselves standing still to hear it better, head cocked to the side, listening intensely with a small smile in the corner of their mouth.

For you see, the waterfall contained all our happy thoughts and snippets of memories that are lost with the passage of time. We don’t miss them, but to hear the chime of them stirs within us echoes of those happy times, and so we have the chance, ever so briefly, to enjoy them again.

Not many have ever searched for the wellspring of the waterfall, but if they had, they would know it is a long journey through deeply dappled forests. And as you approach the base of a mountain, it is as though the water forms freely in the air, right there beside a small but comfortable cottage at what must surely be the starting point of the river.

If you were curious enough to look, you would soon realize that this is exactly what happens, for inside the cottage lives a very old woman, blind to the world around her with the passage of years. But when she smiles, you can see glimpses of the beauty she held in her youth and you know that her eyes are turned to other worlds than this.

It is this woman that is the guardian of all lost happiness, and she that distills it from the air and gives it form. And from this water that dances through the woods and over rock are dreams and hopes born.

One day, as she was enjoying a newborn’s first laugh (for you see, she could read each drop of water for the moments that they were), she did not know that a thief was fast approaching her door. He was stealthy, he was surefooted, and he was greedy.

He had heard the tales of joy that flowed into the world from here, and he wanted it all for himself. And so he searched for many days, following the river in reverse until he chanced upon the Dream Distiller’s cottage.

So great was the greed in his heart, it blinded him to compassion, or even to morality and he dashed through the door, intent to murder the woman.

Fortunately for her, her cottage, like the forest that surrounded it, was enchanted. And her home was meant to protect the woman and the work inside. As soon as he entered with foul murder in his heart, he was turned away, lost in the woods, a curse lingering over him, and no recollection of who he was, nor why he was there.

He traveled many days, lost in those woods. And I promise, as idealic as they would seem should you choose to enter them—should you find yourself thrust into them without your will, it is nightmarish in it’s unending size. The same lovely dappled greens that shine like gems along the water are ominous and blot out the light within the heart of the forest…especially if you’ve been sent there as punishment.

He was on the verge of death by starvation and lack of water, his clothing tattered, his hair long and unkempt, when he tripped over a large tree stump and moved no more.

It so happened that at this time, a carriage was passing, containing a lovely and kind-hearted princess and her traveling maid. The princess wish the stop in the shade and enjoy a repast before continuing the journey. Her ladie’s maid was sent to gather blackberries, for they had traveled this way before, and both knew they would be ripe and juicy and ready for the plucking.

The maid had not walked far when she came across the unconscious man. She dashed back to the carriage, and the driver retrieved the man. He was loaded into the carriage at the Princess’s direction, and they rushed to her home, calling immediately for a doctor.

Every day, the Princess came to his room to check on his progress, and as he regained his strength and his vitality, they talked. He thanked her for saving his life, and told the tale of not knowing how he had come to be there, only how terrifying the experience had been. And as they spoke, a love began to flourish between them.

Her father did not object when they announced their wish to wed, for though the boy came with no memories, he brought with him the manners and speaking of one grown up surrounded by culture. So even though he bore no wealth, the King was sure that lad came from it, and somewhere, someday, there would be someone searching for him, and thankful that he was so well cared for.

A year and a day passed from the time of their union, and the princess discovered that she was with child. There was much rejoicing in the kingdom! Then the time came for the birth of her child, but her husband was no where to be found! Where could he be? Why would he leave his wife’s side in this time of need?

For all this time, he’d carried with him the curse for his evil actions. And now payment was due. It was as though his mind and body were not his own, for the man who had entered that forest, and the man he had become were as different as night and day, and he could not stop himself from mounting his horse and riding off into the forest he had so long avoided. He did not know where he was heading, but he rode unerringly to the cottage in the forest.

The Dream Distiller stepped onto her porch, turning her blind eyes on him and said, “I see all the happy moments that are forgotten, and I know that you have found true love and are expecting your first child any moment now. But you do not deserve the happiness you have found!”

At this moment, the weight of his previous life fell upon him and he knew the evil deeds he had originally come to commit. He could not imagine trying to steal other’s happiness, and he dropped to his knees, tears rolling down his face as he apologized.

“I can see that you are no longer the man you had been, but you must still be punished for your intentions. Instead of taking the life of your child, instead, your curse shall pass to him, and it will be true task to break it.”

“You came to me with hate in your heart for the joy of others. That hate will show on him from the outside. And only the love of a princess who can look beyond that will restore him.”

And with that the man found himself in his wife’s delivery room as she screamed and gave her last push. Instead of the beautiful child she was sure she had cradle in her room, a terrible, ugly frog passed from her body. She screamed and fainted on the spot. The doctor would have killed it immediately, for fear of a changeling, but the father stopped him, knowing that it was his fault his son had been born thus.

When his wife was revived, she refused to look at the creature of have anything to do with it. She would not even hear the tale of how it had come to pass. She ordered it killed on the spot, but again, her husband stayed the hands of the those that would slay it, and begged her to allow him to build their son a garden in the forest, where he could grow and she would be able to forget about him.

“You have three days, and no more. After that, the abomination needs to be gone. One way… or the other.”

And so the man leapt upon the horse, his infant son, a hideous toad, wrapped in swaddling and this time headed for the cottage in the woods with purpose. The Dream Distiller stood waiting on her porch for she knew that he was coming.

“You may build him a garden at the pond where the river ends. He will live in the water of joy until the day comes that he must seek to free himself from your curse. You must visit him every year on the day of his birth, that he never forget that his is a man. And may time be merciful to him.”

And so the Frog Prince was set up in the pond of joy, living his life day by day in the ways of lily pad hoppers, but every year, on the day of his birth, reminded that he was indeed a man. And on the day after he turned 18 and his father left after his briefly yearly visit, the young man in a frogs body saw the most beautiful maiden he could ever have imagined, coming towards his pond, playing with her golden ball.”

Not all Stories have the Desired End Result

Anyone with little boys is probably already going to know this, but they absolutely delight in all things gross. So bedtime tonight was characterized with lots of poots, giggles, and belching. And was the source for tonight’s story:

“Oh man! WHAT was that stink?!?” (proceeded by the giggling of two little boys)

“You’d best be careful with all of that, or you’ll end up in the Land of Ick!”

I bet that you didn’t know that if you fill a room with enough stink, it opens a portal to the Land of Ick. Now if you’re a stink bug or have no sense of smell at all, it’s probably your absolute favorite kind of place to vacation, but if you have a nose and it works even just a little bit, then it’s a terrible, horrible, awful place to be!

See, all the stinks in the world filter down and are condensed into their most foul, most concentrated nastiness and run like a river into the Land of Ick. But there are more than just smells that make up the Land of Ick—there are also the things that make those icky smells! So you wouldn’t be too surprised to know that every city dump has it’s own entrance to the Land of Ick…but you really can’t tell the difference between them.

Well, you have to be careful about filling your own room with poots and belches and farts and dirty socks and stinky feet, otherwise a portal to Ick opens up right there under your bed!

And if you do it often enough, you’ll burn a hole into your bed and fall right into that portal!

(Now, it’s at this point that I realize if the goal was to get them to stop pooting, I completely failed (lol) As now both of my little boys wanted to see if they could open up a portal to ick and see if they could burn a hole through their beds.)

“Good night boys!” I exclaimed as I evacuated the room as quickly as possible.

Monday, January 10, 2011

"Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing"

Ha. I'm betting that quote caught your eye. It was one of my favorite from Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. But I thought it made a pretty good title for today's NaNoWriMo sharing (:

And as my oldest sighed and headed to his room, my youngest said, “Momma, my room IS clean! Can I have another story?”

“Sure, honey. What would you like me to tell you a story about?”

To which he replied, “A mouse in a spaceship!”

“Once upon a time that has not yet happened, for it is some where in the future, the people of earth knew that the planet they had forever called home would soon reach the point that she could no longer sustain them. And so they looked to the stars.

But man has always been cautious about practicing his science on people—it’s much easier to test it on animals first, for if it goes horribly wrong, well, there’s far less outcry over a rat than there is over a child!

And so the day came when they built on the moon, what they hoped was a station that could support life indefinitely.

They sent many creatures up there to try it out for months at a time. Among them was a small grey mouse, hardly noticeable at all save for the small white dot on his left haunch.

(“Momma, what’s a haunch?” asked my youngest. “Well, honey…. It’s the mouse’s butt I guess you could say.” Which led to a round of much giggling.)

So anyway, this small gray mouse with the small white dot was named Al. And given his druthers he’d have never ended up in space! But it wasn’t his choice. He’d been born in a lab and his entire life had been decided by the giants: Run the maze. Push the buttons. Eat this. Don’t eat that…. Well, you get the idea. He was in a space station on the moon, and it was NOT by his choice!

There wasn’t much gravity, which made trying to run in his wheel a little difficult until he realized he could do it upside down! And –that- was pretty cool. And the food was pretty good as well. He got to eat his favorite cheese at least once a week.

And then one day, there were a LOT more people in the station. It buzzed with excitement and sound and activity in a way it never had before! And it wasn’t long after that that Al was brought in and sized for a teeny tiny space suit.

“Now why on earth would a little mouse need a space suit?” You might ask—and the answer is simple: The station was a success and people had begun moving to the moon, but the moon would not be enough for all the people of the world, and so mankind would need to look to our neighboring planets.

What did any of that have to do with, Al? Well, he would be going in the first spaceship headed to Mars to live in yet another bio-dome to test it out for human occupation. Now the people who were using him…well…as a lab rat… weren’t completely evil people, and they wanted to make sure he’d have plenty of oxygen, just in case, so that right there is why he needed his very own space suit!

And he had to admit, he did look dashing in it!

So he was loaded up into the spaceship with a great variety of other animals, all of them headed to Mars. But on the way something terrible and unforeseen happened! The people who were flying the ship got dreadfully ill! Their fevers soared and they were not able to do their jobs.

Al saw all this and knew that something had to be done! So he slipped from his cage (for a mouse that can run through mazes, a simple cage latch is pinkie’s play! (And in case you’re wondering, a ‘pinkie’ is a baby mouse.)) and headed for the control room.

He could not read the language, but he could understand the words, and the computer was crying that they were off course and needed to engage autopilot—which happened to be a button on the dash that was flashing green…. And he was a MASTER button pusher!

All his life, he had trained for this moment! He navigated across the room and up the paneling—an easy maze with limited obstacles! He clambered over the edge and onto the surface, the noise of the alarm spurring him on! And then he pushed the button! The alarm immediately ceased. The spacecraft auto corrected on the way to Mars. And in a matter of days, the people’s fevers passed.

None of them could remember putting the ship into autopilot, and that was surely the only reason that anyone was still alive! So they decided to watch the security tapes and were –amazed- at what they saw! All of them owed their lives to a little gray mouse with a small white spot!

They dashed into the lab and over to the mouse cage—but Al had passed away in the days while they were recovering. For you see, the life of a mouse is shorter than the life of a human, and he was old before he left the moon. And though he had not chosen the path his life had been set on, when the moment came for him to make a choice, Al chose to do the right thing. He had not planned to be a hero, but in the end he was. And so on Mars is a statue of a little mouse, with these words carved on the plaque beneath, “Without his bravery, mankind would never have reached past the moon.”

And now my children, it’s time to brush your teeth and get ready for bed, for tomorrow is another school day!


Okay, so I'm pretty sure I mentioned it last year, but I just don't make them. I've always been one of those people that if I want to make a difference, I will, whenever the decisions occurs to me.

The closest thing to a resolution I ever get is seeing how soon into the new year I'll stop writing the old year out in anything that requires writing the date.

Friday, January 7, Modern Art History notes: Fail.

As did the girl beside me, the girl beside her, and another across the table.

And I'd thought I'd done such a good job the Wednesday before when I wrote it correctly on my checks (lol). I guess I've trained myself for checks but not notes.

Last year, I did much better. I didn't mess it up after January 4th.

We'll see how long it takes this year (;

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pay It Forward 2010

So if the weather decides to be cooperative tomorrow, I will get the last of my Pay It Forward 2010 out in the mail (:

See, last year, almost to the day, a friend on facebook had a status for Pay It Forward 2010, that read something like this:

I will make something handmade for the first five people who respond to this, but I decide what it is and I'll send it in a year. The catch is that you have to post it in your status and make something for the first five people who respond to yours. It doesn't have to be art-- it can food or whatever, but you have to make it for that person.

So after I had the people who responded to my list, being an art student, I kept them in mind through out the year as projects were assigned.

I completed my first, for my friend K Renea in April. It's the 6th image in my Klimt transformation project. I was done at 5, but I did the 6th for her and call it, "If Klimt Painted Otters."

I made this series with her in mind because she's a 5th/6th grade science teacher.

In the fall, with our first monoprints, my mind turned towards my friend Heather.

We play in the SCA together. In this part of the country, our Kingdom is Meridies-- whose colors and black and white. So I wanted to make her a piece in Kingdom colors. But SCA stands for Society for Creative -Anachronisms- so I wanted to do a modern piece for her.

My third monoprint a week later was made with my friend Jenny Rhea in mind.

I know that Jenny Rhea was in theatre and has had an interesting year with several ups and downs, so I wanted to make a piece for her that was visually exciting.

And my final friend Marshal, was the inspiration for my "Mucha's Zombie" project. As the inspiration, I've sent him the first edition of the run.

And I have to admit, because Marshal is the friend I knew the most about, I spent the majority of the year trying to think of just the right thing to make for him. When the assignment came up to modify a major work of art, and I had this idea, I hoped that I'd found the perfect gift for him, as he's a big fan of zombie related things.

I only had 4 friends respond last year.

Well, a couple of days ago, I started seeing, "Pay It Forward 2011" popping up-- and I wondered if I could do it. Because even though all of my projects were finished by November-- I didn't get any of the mail out until yesterday.

So instead of pledging to send them at some point in 2011, I've stuck with the mostly within a year frame work (;

And had several more people sign up than last year!

Already plotting ideas....

But I won't be sharing any of those until I'm all done and they're in the mail (;

Why My 8 Year Old is Prepping Me For When He Has a Girlfriend

Okay, so I should mention that my boy knows he's not allowed to have one until he's sixteen, but tonight, he sat me down to have a discussion in preparation for when he has his first girl friend.

The introduction went like this, "Okay, Mom, when I'm old enough to have my first girlfriend, please, PLEASE don't embarrass me!"


Being the evil Mommy that I am, this called for a series of examples, so as I hugged him, I said, "So I'll just say, when she knocks on the door, 'Oh, hi, Honey! He's in the shower-- it's the first time in a week!"

"No!" (giggle) "Not that, Mom!" (giggle) "Don't say that!"

"Don't say that, hmmm?.... Oh! Okay, how about, "Well hi, Honey! Come on it, we can look through these photo albums of when he was a baby-- I have a really cute naked butt shot..."

(Shriek) "Not that, Mom!" (giggle) "Not that!!"

"No?.... How about, 'Oh HI! You must be that girl he's been writing about in his diary!!"

(Shriek) "No, Mom! Never that!" (giggle) "PLEASE don't tell her that!"

"Hmmm.... How about, "Oh Hi! Come on it! Look Honey! It's a GIRL! There's a GIRL in our house!!!"

(Giggle) "No, Mom! ...Besides, we've had other girls in the house before." (Giggle)

"Well phewy. Hmm... How about, "Hi! Welcome. Please have a seat. He'll be out in a minute."

(Giggle) "That's perfect, Mom! You can say that!"

"....and while we're waiting, how about we look through his baby pictures...."


Clean Your Room!

Okay, so I realized that it's been a while since I added more of my NaNoWriMo stories-- and the last one in here was a stinker (; So here's the latest story:

“Mom,” my oldest said (and you could tell that he was trying to be tactful), “that wasn’t a very interesting story….could you, maybe… tell us another one?” (with hope and a little bit of worry in his eyes.)

And so I asked, “Alright, so what would You like to hear a story about instead?”

To which my son replied, with a wicked bit of gleam in his eye “…my messy room.”

“Ah! Well, you’ve asked for it, so here we go!”

“Now there’s a difference between trash and mess, incase you weren’t aware. Trash is the broken bits of toys you can’t repair. The puzzle pieces without the puzzle. The papers and papers and papers that don’t really need to be kept. Those are the kinds of things that need to make their way into their black plastic grave.

But a mess! Why a mess is stuff you –want-. Stuff you keep, and probably aren’t taking care of. Stuff you need but you can’t ever find because it just doesn’t have a place to go.

And a mess is what attracts the gibbles!

What? You’ve never heard of a gibble? Oh, you know that roaches and bugs love trash—which is why you don’t want –that- in your room! But gibbles are a completely different thing! They don’t care a wit about empty soda bottles and half eaten candy. What they want is your mess!

See, a mess has lots of nooks and crannies—places to go and be unnoticed. Places to watch from. Places to store things and no one will be the wiser.

Gibbles are afraid of the light, so messes are the only way they can get about. And what gibbles feed on is the nightmares of messy children.

“Oh no! My homework was left in my room and I’m going to fail my spelling test!” –Delicious!

“Aack!! There’s a monster hiding under my bed between my left tennis shoe and my large stuffed teddy bear!” –MMmmm!

And do you know how to get rid of gibbles?

“Umm…”, began my son, “…clean my room?”

“And –keep- it clean!”, chimed in my youngest.

“That’s right!”, I said, “So you know what you need to do now, don’t you?”

And as my oldest sighed and headed to his room, my youngest said, “Momma, my room IS clean! Can I have another story?”

Sticks and Stones

When I was a child, I remember learning this rhyme:

"Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

And this morning, I have to accept that my children are growing up in a world where that simply isn't the case.

See, my two little boys are growing up in a world:

Where verbal bullying about presumed sexual orientation leads to suicide.

Where cyber bullying from anything from appearance to social status, in the form of written words, often has the same end result.

Where I try to explain to my eight year old not to care about what some girl says to hurt his feelings because she's looking for a response, a reaction, a moment of cruel entertainment from him.

Where our politicians spew as much hate against those who have differing views as actual hate groups that 'protest' funerals and weddings alike.

Where outspoken and corrupt religious leaders take from their holy books only the words they need to twist the emotion of their followers to do their bidding.

And where stupid people with access to weapons take those words of hate one step further and end the lives of innocent people.

Anyone paying any attention at all in the last year doesn't need any links to any of these to know exactly what I'm talking about.

The world is probably full of over 80% good people. Being optimistic, we might even be able to claim 90%-- but 10% of the over 7 billion of us on the planet leaves a LOT of crazy, stupid and evil people in this world.

And all it takes is one of them with a weapon to end innocent lives. And all that needs is one strong voice spewing hate to encourage it.

To the latest victims of words that not only hurt but break lives, in Tucson, Arizona, I send my deepest condolences and sympathy.