Saturday, January 21, 2012

So What Are You Making?

The other day, I happened to run into my friend Megan just outside of the art building.  And in less than a minutes, she taught me how to purl!  (Yes, I keep my practice with me at school for lulls in my schedule.)

Now, I know enough about knitting (it's actually one of the few things I do know) to know that you have to finish a row.

So there I am, standing, talking with my friends, and purling.

This was a MUCH better experience than my last attempt.

And my friend Rabbit comes over to say hello to everyone and notices my hair sticks.  I couldn't resist announcing that I'd made them.  He laughed and said, "Of course you did!"  And then he noticed I was knitting and joked that I was making the sweater I was wearing as a custom fit.  We all laughed -a LOT-.  I still find the mental image of that description absolutely hysterical:  knitting yourself into a sweater.  (Sorry.  STILL laughing!)

It took me -forever- to do that single row of purl.

Mr. Skaggs happened to be passing by and asked me what I was making.  I quipped, "It's either going to be a scarf or a pot holder!"  (I like to keep my options open.)

Tonight, it's reached 'square' status.  If it was going to be a pot holder (albeit a -giant- one), this'd be the point where that happens.  But I'm stubborn and determined:  I still want to see how much yarn is in this skein!

I saw some absolutely beautiful frilly scarves the other day and thought, "Ha! I see what you did there!"  But the wind cuts right through scarves with large holes and I don't like that at all.  Beautiful, absolutely;  Practical on a cold winter day-- not so much.

And it made me think about my Practice (as I've come to name this thing).  Seriously, this thing is -thick-.  I joked with Mark tonight that you could wear it in Antarctica.  He pointed out that it's awful wide for a scarf.  It's almost like a blanket.  I'm still aiming for a scarf.  I'm just realizing that it's going to take a LOT of rows to get there.

And I'm still alright with that, since it started as nothing more than a chance to practice my knitting.
....And it's certainly that!

Where I stopped tonight (:  The needle on the left points to the three rows of purling.  My game plan is to put three rows on the other end of the scarf the same distance from the end.  I like to have goals (;

Friday, January 20, 2012

Terrible Action Phrases

So my boys watched Fairly Odd Parents this morning.  It was the episode featuring Timmy's favorite action hero figure, the Crimson Chin-- but it was last year's model.  And he had some truly chin-terrible action phrases.

Now, perhaps it's the need to go back to sleep talking, but I could't help envisioning a handy maternal action figure with other (non-chin specific) terrible action phrases.

You know, all those things Moms say to their kids...that in retrospect are really no help at all.  JUST what the kids need, right? (;


"How bad could it be?"  (Which is sort of a call out to the universe to smite you, right there and then.)

"It's all fun and games until someone looses an eye."  (Which implies that not only is loosing an eye highly likely, but the game isn't over until it happens....)

"Monkey see, Monkey do."  (Is that supposed to be an admonishment...or advice?  After all, Mary Poppins came down from the clouds just fine with -her- umbrella.  The roof is so much closer to the ground already, right?)

"A penny saved is a penny earned." (This one actually has me wondering if, when my boys are old enough to have them, their children will even know what a penny is...)

"To the victor goes the spoils."  (Filed under "Bullying and other fun ways to get what you want.")

"You are what you eat." (So eating dirt = Sandman and eating boogers = Flubber and eating chicken = ...wait...)

"Ignorance is bliss." (So skip school!)

"Look before you leap."  (Which doesn't say, "Don't Leap."  It just says, "Look first, see the great distance you'll be plummeting to your doom, then go right ahead.  ...And don't forget that Mommy love you.")

"Accidents will happen."  (Remember that first one?  Yeah,  here's another one that says, "Yes, please.  Smite me.")

"There's an exception to every rule." (Talk about opening up a can of worms.  This one implies you can get away with anything...if you can figure out what the exception is.)

"Blood is thicker than water."  (Sounds like a call for a science experiment...that's going to be followed up with a panicked, "Mooooooommmmm!.....Can you come here?"....and possible stitches....probably stitches.)

"It goes without saying."  (But here we are, saying anyway.  I believe this might be a milder version of "I told you so.")

(Speaking of which...)  "I told you so."

"Actions speak louder than words."  (I can't help but remember hearing the joke of a mother spanking her son saying, "Don't" (spank) "Hit" (spank) "Your Sister." (spank).")

"That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger." (Is it just me, or do a lot of these like tempting fate?)

"You can't have your cake and eat it too."  (Oh, and Happy Birthday!)

"Fight fire with fire."  (Filed under "How to raise your very own sweet little arsonist.")

"The best things in life are free." (Now, how to explain why you can't just walk out of the store without paying...)

Now she just needs one of these

in her back loaded up with the phrases.

Because, as any Mom can tell you, kids are great at pushing our buttons.  (;

Thursday, January 19, 2012

i'll blame the rain

a little melancholy,
a little fugue,
a little sad,

like winter rains,
but mercifully brief.

a little discouragement,
a little tears,
a little lost sleep,

it's hard to tell
the difference
between caring
and callous.

a little moping,
a little self-pity,
and a lot of inspiration.

a chance to make
productive what
would otherwise
be waste.

time to get out
of the funk
and back to me.

And so I decided to start a mandala.

I look forward to seeing what it looks like when it's done.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Thumb Wars

I've put off for three years taking Life Drawing.  Unlike most people, it's not the nude figures that bothered me. As I told a friend today when she joked, "You know there's going to be nude people, right?", "Yup.  I've seen nude people.  I've even -been- one!"  And we both laughed because really, if we think about it, we've -all- been nude at some point.

No, I've put it off for two different reasons.  The first being that it always happens late in the afternoon-- and I needed someone to be able to watch my boys for those hours.  Thankfully, -very- thankfully, for me, my mother in law is willing to do that.

The second reason is that I haven't drawn, -really- drawn, for direct observation since I took Drawing 1 and 2... in 1995.  And then, the biggest thing I ever heard from my drawing teacher was, "Nice.  Do it faster."

I'm still not a fast drawer.  So what it boils down to is that my second reason it outright fear and worry.  Yes, I know we've got over 2 hours for the class, but I worry that I'm not going to be fast enough.  I also worry that I'm going to be terribly off in my proportions.  I'm consoling myself with the fact that this class is meant to improve both of them (;

So what does any of that have to do with thumb wars?

Today, Mr. Everett got us started on our first assignment-- drawing our own hand.  While he was giving the demo, he mused that the only thing separating man from the beasts are our minds and our thumbs-- and if the mafia wants to take a finger, offer up the useless pinkie, because without that thumb, there are a couple of dolphins might win out on that mind thing.

He's a hoot (:

But it reminded me of all the cat comics you read that say the only reason cats don't rule the world is for lack of a thumb.  And it's not the first time I've heard that thumbs are what gave man an advantage that allowed us to climb to the top of the food chain.

And it amused me to envision it as one massive species vs. species thumb war--

"1-2-3-4, I declare a Thumb War!"

where man and primates came out on top because they were the only ones who brought the opposable thumb to the table (;

That said, I decided to take pictures of all of our hands once they went up on the board.

-Very- impressed (:  I have a talented bunch of class mates!

If you look closely, you can pinpoint mine out of all the others with a cursory glance.

Did you figure out how?

I'll show you mine, to give you a hint (;

Did you figure it out?

Yup.  All of my class mates are right handed!  I'm the only southpaw.  (;

Looking for the Cliff

When I was seven years old, we watched a National Geographic special on Lemmings.

Their biggest claim to fame is the fatality of their herd thinking.

From the moment I learned that, whenever I'm in a large group that is moving in mass, and I'm not particularly sure where the final destination is, the word, "Lemmings" rings in my head and I stop moving forward.  People will surge around me, and I don't move until I know where we're going and why.

But I have the same reaction to other large groups.  Pep Rallies where everyone is supposed to feed on each other's excitement.  Working in groups to find answers in a class.  Sometimes while attending church.  Generally speaking, in any situation where a lot of people are together and meant to experience the same emotions, come to the same conclusions, I have a moment where I stop.  I step back.  I become an observer and the word "Lemmings" is clearly in my head-- and I'm looking for the cliff.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to imply that these situations are dangerous.  In most instances, they're people having a great deal of fun together.  But that moment of clarity, and being completely in my head with my personal warning, allows me to see the orchestrator's intentions.  It's recognizing that we're cheering on the team to get them psyched up, excited and ready for the next game.  It's knowing that it's meant to increase empathy and bring the congregation closer together.  And on the flip side, it's not being swept up into buying a share in a condo, when all you want are tickets to shows.  It's avoiding a pyramid scheme or unreasonably risky investments.  It's sticking to the answer you know is right, even when the popular answer is wrong. 

Because it's important to realize that herd mentality is actually mental.  What I mean is, if 'everyone' suggests something to be true, even if it isn't, your brain is actually inclined to change what you know, to fit what everyone else thinks!

Did you know that?  Neither did I.  

Until I read Susan Cain's Quiet when I received a free e-book version through the online book club From Left to Write.

Are you an introvert or extrovert?.Author Susan Cain explores how introverts can be powerful in a world where being an extrovert is highly valued. Join From Left to Write on January 19 as we discuss Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain. We'll also be chatting live with Susan Cain at 9PM Eastern on January 26. As a member of From Left to Write, I received a copy of the book. All opinions are my own. 

And it makes me appreciate my personal warning and ambivert nature.

Monday, January 16, 2012

What Would You Like to Do Today?

Each night, I snuggle with my little boys.  We talk about their day, the ups and downs, make up stories, read stories, etc.  Well, since none of us had school today, I asked each of them what they wanted to do.

They decided we were going to start out the day making breakfast together.  So we did (:  Scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, sliced red navel oranges, and hot cocoa/ coffee.  My 6 year old is getting very proficient at cracking eggs!  And my oldest is becoming a master microwave chef (;  (That's how we typically cook our bacon, since I hate being popped.)

After breakfast, I caught back up on my knitting practice, then sat down to paint with my boys, as that was the second wish on their to do list for today.

They wanted me to teach them about painting.  I decided we'd work on watercolor, so I taught them how to wet the dried paint.  I also had them draw their idea before they started painting.  And they each got to practice on mixing their own special colors.

My youngest, all set up to start (:

He's been working his way through Batman Arkham City, so he decided he wanted to make a bat.  But he didn't like the way the feet looked, so he decided they're curled up under the bat while it flies.

His finished piece.  He made the red and dark red/purple colors (:
My oldest, all set up to get started (:

One of his favorite shows lately is Sons of Guns.  So he decided to make a police officer shooting at a target on a range.

He mixed the skin color for his person and the blue for the pants (:
I decided to practice my water color and see if I could realize the Pay It Forward idea I have for my friend Hannah.

I decided to create a watercolor of the Parable of the Pear Tree.

The Parable of the Pear Tree

Once upon a time, long, long ago, a man had four sons.  He wished to teach them to judge things with careful consideration, and so he sent them each, one at time to view the pear tree.  His eldest, he sent in winter.  The next in spring.  The next in summer.  And the youngest in fall.

He then called his sons to him and asked them to share what they had observed.

His oldest spoke first, saying, "The tree was bear and twisted, dead and of little value."

His brother, who viewed it in spring responded, "You are wrong!  It was in the bloom of spring covered in sweet smelling flowers and fresh, new leaves!  It was a sweet, beautiful delight for both the eyes and nose."

The third brother argued, "You too are in error!  It was full of green leaves, not a bloom in sight.  It provided excellent shade from the heat of the sun!"

And the youngest brother said, "It was indeed full of leaves, but it also bore sweet, succulent fruit."

The father answered that they were -all- correct...but only for a single season of the tree's life.  "We should not judge things or people too quickly.  This would be a grievous error!  Giving up in winter would deprive you of the beauty of spring, the shade of summer and the fruit of fall."

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pay It Forward 2011 Project 2

I just finished my second 2011 Pay It Forward project.  This one is for my friend Victoria.  She admired the coasters that I'd made in ceramics, but the bottoms aren't very flat, so I didn't consider them of good enough quality to give away.  Besides, I have to admit, it's one of the times I was making something for me.  My little boys use them all the time.

BUT-- I knew she had an interest in coasters.  I also know that she's an extreme Alabama fan.  So I decided to make her some Alabama coasters.

There are a LOT of websites out there with instructions on how to turn tiles into coasters.

The difference between theirs and mine is that I got the 4 1/4" tile squares (because they had a smoother edge than the 4" ones.  I didn't like the way those felt in my hand.)  At Lowes, they were 36 cents a piece.  And I also got contact paper cork which made it -really- easy to apply to the bottom.

I used my Adobe Illustrator to create my design. 
Then cut them out and applied the modgepodge to the tile.  Smoothed the paper design on top and let it dry for 20 minutes, just like both of the above websites advise.
Then I applied the first coat on top to seal.
Close up while the modgepodge is drying.  Then I added a second coat in the cross direction.
Then I cut out my contact cork in 4" squares to apply to the back.
A quick seal with spray sealant and time to dry after putting the cork on the bottoms, and Viola!  Crimson Tide coasters are all done.
Since Victoria is local, I'm going to see if I can just hand deliver them to her within the week (:

I hope she likes them!