First off, I will say that today was a much easier day than I've seen in a while. Some things fell (potentially) into place, which is to say that some barriers and obstacles that were on my path earlier this week have inched over. But I was whole heartedly tickled to find a comment in my post from this morning from none other than Patti Digh. !!!!! Sorry, but that deserved each and every one of those exclamation points. I've been reading her, "Life is a Verb" for the last ten days or so, finding times when the house is quiet and I can really absorb her words. I was/am going to give it its full due when I have turned the last page but I mentioned the Juan Mann video this morning and how it helped get me off a negative tact I had tried to not be on, but one I found myself stuck with one foot in nevertheless. Her comment will be added to my claim to fame, along with my two published letters to the editor.
I managed to squeeze out *e*'s next tag. This one, the question, "what makes me, me?" I loved reading this question when it came out a couple of weeks ago (I'm now only two questions behind) and a few days ago I knew what image I wanted to use. I pulled a photo of a zygote off the www, for the back - the black and white version - I ran it through befunky.com, I kept the original vibrant colors for the front. The journaling on the back reads, "flesh and bones - habits - conditioning - my past - fears - that little part inside that only I know about - friends - dreams - hope - family - home - what I think and feel when I am alone". I also got to use one of the new stamping alphabet kits I got on vacation, I find the antique style of font works well with the fuzziness of the zygote.
Gotta tell you that it's been kind of an up and down week. Some hard emotional dredging and stuff that has come up and slapped me in the face. And then last night lying in my bath, reading Patti Digh's, "Life is a Verb", she mentions this YouTube video about Juan Mann who, when he was down and out decided to give free hugs. It is so inspirational, especially when I'm feeling so low and confused. She (Digh) says that we need four hugs a day for survival, eight hugs a day for maintenance and twelve hugs a day for growth. Isn't it amazing how children hug and hug and hug? I tried to count how many I usually get in a day. With Riley around I probably get twelve or more, he's big on hugging, especially for no reason, although he hasn't wanted to hug me much the last couple of days. It makes me want to purposefully chuck out this funk and start some intentional healing.
I went shopping this morning for sun hats/baseball caps for Riley because it seems his head has grown extraordinarily since last summer. Instead I found two pairs of pants for ME. My theory is if you find something that f-i-t-s, you buy another one in a different color. I had been looking for some beige chino-khaki style pants that I could wear to work and for something casual. I hate to say this because I know it's not something a woman can complain about without considerable backlash, but I have no ass. Basically, my back ends. Period. So anything that fits my waist swims in the rear. But lordy, lordy, Sports Experts had this nice pair of "travel" pants made by Lole and damned if they didn't look great on me. They stretch. They wick. They pack down so flat and hardly wrinkle. And they look quite presentable. They were also not cheap. So with all that, I also bought the black pair.
Well, today the universe didn't throw me any of its spare change. I did get a laugh this morning when Riley was running around trying to balance as many markers as possible all lined up together. It was quite funny, but then again, maybe you had to be there:
And after much dithering, I got to the garden to do some raking and finally see how my fall/winter compost had done. I got a nice load, although it always seems like a tiny amount (considering what went in there) when you try to spread it on the ground. I had only a small pile of stuff that didn't break down, mostly some of the larger branches and roots I had thrown in. All last summer it seemed I had too much green material (which makes it kind of wet and smelly) but the fall and winter it seemed that I had too much brown material. It's all a fine balance, I'm told. But last fall I kept all my raked leaves so I will have plenty of brown to add to my abundant green this season. I'm even thinking of getting a second bin to fill while bin number 1 does it's work. Amongst the stuff that didn't break down was this little cherry tomato, which I found kind of odd. It is a mere shell of its former self and I'm kind of glad I didn't try to eat it last season because that must be one tough skin.
Apparently, my winning streak isn't over. I found this today - more than three times what I found yesterday, today it was at a mini-putt place, a birthday party for a friend of Riley's. Riley asked me to hang around and I liked nothing more than following a motley crew of 20 five and six-year olds wielding iron putters around 18 holes:
Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for (literally) every penny I find but I can't help but think there is some kind of message in this change.
On a totally different subject, I love polar fleece. I also love my dogs, but the two just don't co-exist happily together. I was wondering if companies such as LLBean or Land's End wouldn't make a fortune if they marketed some fleece clothing or blankets in colors more appealing to pet owners. Instead of moss green, lemon creme or ink black, how about chocolate lab, golden retriever or shepherd/collie mix? I have a fabulous black fleece jacket but after a year and a half, I don't dare to wear it outside of the house. I've tried all kinds of things to remove the hair - I buy those sticky rollers at Costco by the flat for goodness sake, but there is only so much hair that will come off. It's held up well to washing and I've really gotten my money's worth as far as the wearing of it goes but there is still an awful lot of life left in it. And I'm willing to spend only so much time rollering myself before I go out the door. Any miracle cures for de-hairing fleece out there?
OK, this was too weird to not record. Walking my dog this afternoon I found a third penny lying in the grass. Again, the year of Riley's birth. Maybe they just minted a lot of pennies in 2003. I'm choosing the positive side of all the possibilities my rampant, superstitious mind has run up. My genie in a bottle - three wishes today.
Unbelievable A third penny, it found me An omen today?
The wonders never cease with *e*'s questions. This one from three weeks ago (leaving me now only two tags to do to catch up), "What was the last good book you read?" I've already spoken about this book, so I'll leave it as is.
I found this on the sidewalk on the way out of the dermatologist's office this morning:
Two pennies in a zipper bag so small I had trouble opening it. It got me thinking, how weird is this? What is the purpose of putting two pennies in a little bag, especially one so small. I thought maybe it was a little kid's, who had dropped it and is now looking for it or maybe forgot about it completely as they will. One of them is dated the year of Riley's birth so I had to wrestle the bag open to read the date on the second one (to see if it was a message from the gods and goddesses). I still pick up pennies. Obviously! Some people don't think it's worth it, but it's still money to me. Besides, found pennies are supposed to be lucky. Since he was very young, Riley and I always take a few pennies when we go to the mega mall, for throwing in the fountain with a wish. So now, when Riley finds a penny on the street, he picks it up, cups it with eyes closed, makes his wish, then throws it down again. Have I said lately how much that kid cracks me up?
What did you do for Earth Day? Sadly, I didn't do anything really remarkable. I drove to work, something I just started doing two weeks ago because it means a little more time at the end of the day with my son and a lot less stress and mingling with the great unwashed on the public transportation system. Time is so valuable to me lately that every little wedge I gain, I relish. At the risk of getting on my high-horse, I didn't go out of my way to celebrate Earth Day because I believe that every day should be recognized as earth day. A couple of years ago I made a concerted effort to change some of my lazier habits. I compost as much as our climate lets me, I gave up plastic sandwich bags in favour of WrapNMats, using plastic containers as well. I use biodegradable garbage bags, biodegradable dog scoopy bags and soaps. I rarely buy small water bottles and if I do I recycle them, actually if recycling isn't available where I am, I will bring whatever I have used home and do the deed here. Every January 1st I look around and see what little bit of my lifestyle I can tweak that, over time, will make a difference. So I don't feel so bad driving my car downtown two days a week or not making a big deal about yesterday. Awhile ago I found this website where you can measure your own carbon footprint. Sadly, they hadn't listed Canada as a starting place, but they do have the USA which was close enough for me.
I did buy a new journal yesterday. My current one is almost done and I like to "live with" a new one before starting in on it. It's one by the company "Paper Blanks". I really like the ones they make, the covers are lovely, the paper is smooth and they stay open when you are writing, which is a biggie for me. They usually have a little pouch at the back and this one has a magnetic closure and one of those skinny, attached, red fabric strips for a bookmark. And very importantly, they use sustainable forest paper. What's not to love?
Oh, who am I kidding? I can't do this without words. Something very strange happened yesterday. Or maybe it was today. I won something. I still can't believe it. A few days ago I came across a blog called Got Art? and the first post I saw, Sherry was giving away a piece of her mixed media work to the first person who could guess what was the object of a photo close-up she had up. It was a hard one, plenty of people were guessing all kinds of things, my first guess was coffee beans dropping in a glass of milk. It turns out it was a photo of the inside of a cherimoya. Which I got only because someone else had guessed an exotic fruit and then Sherry gave another clue that it began with "ch". I must admit I got a little frantic at one point, shouting out all kinds of exotic fruits that begin with "ch". So it turns out that one of my guesses was right. I think the last thing I won was $5.00 when I was 5 years old - we used to have a kind of lotto based on horse racing and I remember when I won, I had to put the $5.00 in the bank. Now there's a good pastime for 5 year olds - gambling. Look where it got me!
It was a clock-watching day today at work. *sigh* But the irony is that Riley, who is just beginning to grasp the concept of time said to me this morning, "Five minutes isn't very long, is it?" Whereas time seemed to pass in very slow five minute increments for me today.
This comes from yesterday at the park when I told him, "Five more minutes and we're leaving," and he didn't seem to mind, until the five minutes was up. And again this morning after he had finished up his breakfast and brushed his teeth quickly with no nagging. I told him, "You have five minutes to play before we have to leave". After about four of those minutes, I found him lounging and watching television, it was then he said, "Five minutes isn't very long, is it?"
It's all relative. Five minutes when you're waiting for news can be very long. Five minutes when you're having a good time isn't long at all.
You know it's time to take down your Christmas lights when....your neighbors casually mention, "I was up in the middle of the night last night and oh, did you know, I think you still have some Christmas lights up?" I know, I know. If it wasn't for iMan stringing them up, I wouldn't have them at all. Not that I don't love lights at that dark time of year because I do. It makes all the difference in my day to see the color and the light shining. But I have a terrible fear of heights so I rarely go up ladders. And also, stringing up the lights (and getting them down) just isn't "my department". So here's the last of them. And just so you know I'm not a total idiot, they are solar powered so it's not like I was actually plugging them in every day.
Now, I do love this time of year. And at the same time I am a bit sad and have a little resentment stirring in my bones. This is when I pull out my summer season clothes and bring out the garden ornaments, the outdoor accouterments. There is always some ooh-ing and aah-ing, not unlike opening up the Christmas decoration boxes and remembering the little treasures we only see for about one month each year. Today I discovered a pair of H2O capris I found last year, the last pair at Sports Experts and on sale because it was an odd size. The same capris I wore whenever they were clean last summer. And this t-shirt I found on vacation in March, from the "Life is Good" line.
Here is a shot of the blue heron my sister gave me as a Christmas present last year, it's debut in my garden.
And these, from a friend who gave them to me; her sister had given them to her for her own daughter but the girl was really too old and was probably a little embarrassed by them. They have seen a little wear and the green one, well I think I'll call him the headless horseman since I can't bear to part with it.
And the frog prince, who I neglected to put away in the fall but weathered the winter without any obvious wear and tear. I like this shot - I didn't have a golden ball but the green one works.
There is the birdhouse that I adore.
The bobble heads we got at Loblaws last spring, one to represent each of us.
What's a garden without a couple of dragonflies?
And an odd mixed media bird I bought at a Christmas craft fair, a newbie along with the heron.
The resentment part is that I don't get to live with these pieces more than a handful of months each year. I know they are just "things" and that it is an indication I need to work on my attachment to the material. I am always sad to put them away, then when the garage door is closed I seem to forget about them, missing them without knowing exactly what I am missing.
I had so much fun with this. *e*'s question number 13, "what was my worst (best) hairstyle experience to date?" One of the things about scrapping that appeals to my packrat spirit is that no piece of paper is too small to save. Here's my tag and what a confession!
It was such a productive day here. I spent about an hour and a half this morning just putting away clutter, throwing out clutter and reducing piles. I would pick up one thing and not put it down until I had dealt with it. Then I would move on to another. And another. I threw out some very old stuff that I thought I was attached to but in the past year what really matters to me has changed. Then the garden got about two hours of raking and cleaning out. I managed to clean out the perennial beds at the back of the house, re-set the fencing around them and the same for the raspberry bushes. I got the table de-tarped and the shovels and hockey sticks away. The rest of the day was spent at the park. The sun felt hot enough that I put some sunscreen on both of us; a friend of mine got quite a bad sunburn on her face last week at the same park in just an hour so I was scared into it. In his six years Riley has yet to have a sunburn. It's something I take quite seriously since I grew up in an era before sunscreen and with the lifestyle of playing outside all day in the summer, I would burn over and over just about every day. I have blistered, peeled and freckled more than I care to remember. And with fair skin, a mother with a grade 4 melanoma, and my own personal history of a benign type of skin cancer that necessitated plastic surgery just above my eye, I have reason to be a little bit cautious, maybe overly so. I have to weigh the odds of the chemicals in the sunscreen versus the chance of getting a sunburn and I've been through all the literature, and all the latest reports. *sigh* We can't we just enjoy running outside, skin bare to the elements? My dermatologist wants me to wear a 60 spf every day, rain, shine or snowstorm regardless whether I'm outside or in. That I find excessive and feel I'm educated enough to make some of my own decisions about that. Such a rebel.
I do like the feeling of having worked outside in the fresh air because I resent being cooped up for so long, layers of clothes covering my body, feet encased, not breathing. There is such a sense of satisfaction when one task is done, standing back and admiring the order (which, of course never lasts long in a garden). I neglected to bring out any of the lawn chairs in case I would be tempted to plant my self in one and then not get up. It's been done once or twice. So I'm a nice kind of tired tonight. I really feel aired out.
Guess who is back? Bono showed up to do a little break-dance for me.
This is what I heard at supper, "Mom, sometimes I like you so much I feel like crying". Yeah, he says that now, until he realizes he has fossils for parents. You see, my idea of a grand Saturday night is just what I am looking forward to tonight. A long hot bath with a book, then into bed with either some BritComs or more of the book, knowing that there is no alarm tomorrow morning.
And speaking of books, I just finished, "Letters from The Dhamma Brothers," by Jenny Phillips. I saw the author on Oprah a number of months ago. Not the Oprah show (not that there is anything wrong with the Oprah show, it's just that I don't watch it with any kind of regularity these days) but on one of her Soul Series podcasts. She was talking about a documentary film she had made introducing a form of meditation called Vipassana, based on the teachings of the Buddha, to the toughest prison in Alabama. The results were astounding. And after reading the book she wrote following making the film, I had great respect for the prisoners who went through the program (ten intensive days comprised of ten hours of meditation, no talking and a special diet) because I wasn't sure I could physically go through it or emotionally go through the gunk that comes up under those circumstances. It gives real hope that rehabilitation is possible, even under dire conditions. It also gives credibility to dedicated meditation, something I have been a believer in for a very long time.
And if you haven't read Coriander's blog in a while (I hadn't because it seemed she had taken a blog-break), she has a couple of new posts up that I almost peed myself reading. Now there is someone who should be writing comedy (maybe she is, come to think of it!) for a living.
Finally, co-incidence or kismet, call it what you will, came in and slapped me upside the head recently. I saw the book, "I Thought It Was Just Me," on some one's blog, perhaps the Queen of Arts. And then I saw it on a few other blogs, including one today, linked from Beth's Books Etc. Last night I was in Chapters shopping for the two birthday parties Riley has lined up and guess what I see in the Bargain Books. Yup, so I bought it because I recognize when the universe is telling me to read a book.
Remember that old commercial - how do you spell relief? - and then the roving reporter on the street would find people who would spell out R-O-L-A-I-D-S. I don't know why I thought of that this morning but when my accountant called with the tally of my tax forms, that came to mind. It appears that between one government body to pay, one sending me a refund, and the accountant's fees, I'll break even, maybe be around $100 to the good. As a self-employed person that is such a relief. I felt so good that I went and put on these:
Forgive me the socks, please. I was hoping it would warm up enough today to shed them, eventually. When we were in Florida we were out at the mall one night and I tried on a pair of Sketchers. My son is always saying, Sketchers! Sketchers! Sketchers! Gotta have Sketchers! To which I thought it was a peer-group thing. But when I put them on I didn't want to take them off long enough to pay for them. Since I've been home I haven't had a chance to wear them. So it was celebration day in all kinds of ways here.
I also got a couple of hours in my studio, working three different pieces and doing this tag. The question made me go crazy with bright colors, happy things. I underestimated how much space the lettering would take but it works well enough. Like Emily Falconbridge says, it's not so much the art, but the story behind that will endure.
This morning while I was running around the house getting us ready, Riley was busy working on something. He asked me to spell out "welcome" for him so I did as I raced from room to room, chore to chore. On the way out the door we passed his latest fort, the new and improved one with spy gear and a list of who is allowed in (I'm not on the list, by the way). Nevertheless, this is what I saw at the entrance to the fort:
Man, he cracks me up.
And on another unrelated topic, shouldn't there be guidelines for what constitutes a baby carrot? I pulled this handful out of the bag yesterday while preparing my lunch. The one on the far left, a good five inches long, is, in my humble opinion, hardly a baby. Well, at least I know they aren't those cattle carrots shaved down to resemble the real thing.
Since this is my first Wordless Wednesday post, I need to have a few words to go along with this. I'm not sure where I first saw it, but there is a trend amongst (certain) bloggers to just go visual on Wednesday. And Wednesday being one of my downtown working days, it's a relief to not have to come up with something pithy or clever at the end of the day. So here's my first Wordless Wednesday post and it is kind of fitting since yesterday I posted a picture of the same thing, only at the end of it's life span. Whereas this shot is more like what I am starting to feel like again, fresh(er) and new(er).
Done. Spent. Used up. I must be in some kind of a slump or a frump. I'm trying to hold it up, hold it together but inside it's all like these tulips. When I came home tonight after a very l-o-n-g day the light was incredible at my back window where they sit so I grabbed my camera and shot on manual. Not my best work, but they more or less convey how I've been feeling. I also think we've got some mild gastro (how does one "think" they have something like that?!) and to add to that I have a number of fairly important aspects of my life that are in limbo. So it's kind of hard to say if it's all psychological.
I did find something to get excited about through the Queen of Arts blog. A while back she posted about a book she had found called Creative Awakenings by Sheri Gaynor. She, herself, was so excited about it that I ordered it and it arrived last week. On the weekend I had a chance to really get into it and I would swear that the very beginning of the book called, "The Adventure Begins", could have been written about me. I got sucked right in. There is also a website set up to go along with the book and I invite you to go and have a look-see. I've already met two other Canadian artists there, funny how on the www, I would find other people right in my own backyard.
And a little eye-candy - Riley eating a pot of Nerds from his Easter stash, gotta love the face of a kid knee-deep in candy:
After sweating about it and planning it for the last couple of weeks, Riley's Easter treasure hunt was a hit. From the moment he got up, saw his basket with the lifesaver gummies and the rabbit footprint we were up and running. It only took half an hour and he had followed all the clues and found the booty. The treasure hunt was a great idea, not that I can really take personal credit for it since I'm sure half of the free world, and maybe half of the not-free world, were doing the same thing. But it provided a focus. As an only child he doesn't have the excitement of competition from siblings to coax him on to find all the hidden eggs. But you know, it could have gone either way. I'm realizing that as much as I think I know my son, there is so much I don't know about him. And that is my own challenge, the learning - and my reward is seeing him truly happy and allowing magic into his life. Here he is somewhere around clue number 3:
And again around clue number 5:
Not to mention the eggs hidden in the bathtub:
And true success on his part:
Later in the morning we went to the Biosphere, which is the former American pavilion from our Expo 67. I was seven years old when Montreal hosted Expo and I remember a lot of it. Since we lived in the city, we had "passports" to the site for the whole summer, I can even remember the black turtle neck sweater I was wearing in the photo on that passport, so I even remember the original American pavilion. For anyone who is not that familiar with my city, it is one of Bucky Fuller's geodesic domes, an immense structure that seems very space age, (think Epcot in Disney) certainly for 1967. And now it has been converted into an interactive ecological site. The first section was the most fun for the kids - all about water. We are quite spoiled here being able to turn on our taps for a seemingly endless supply of cheap water. One of the things that Riley did was a kind of "chop wood and carry water". They had hand pumps at one end of the room and jugs which you would fill, quite slowly, and then you had to carry the full jug across the room and dump in into an old claw-foot bathtub, trying to fill it. Equally slowly. The concept is to see how long it takes to make the water that we soak in every night.
And another shot of Riley walking on pontoons, which of course meant his feet were soaked within the first five minutes:
Amongst other things there was a climbing wall made out of something recyclable (just what escapes my memory at the moment):
And to finish the day, they had an amazing outdoor play park which had very unusual structures - things that use centrifugal force for spinning (lots of those, I almost tossed my lunch a few times), here's just a sweet shot, and you can see it was cold today - we have hats and mitts on again, I believe it was -7 with the windchill:
I don't know why I love Easter so much since I've had Riley and he's been conscious enough to do the Hunt. I found this online last year, but didn't do it, this year...well here it is! Riley asked for a certain kind of Spy Gear kit instead of candy, thinking that the Easter Bunny is kind of like Santa Claus and will surely come through if he wished hard enough. So I made a treasure hunt throughout the house, 10 clues in plastic eggs with one or two little chocolates to end up with a bunch of Spy Gear gadgets in a nice little metal case. It's not the specific kit he wanted (we saw that in the US and I couldn't find it here), but I think the bits and pieces I did find are far better than what was in the other kit. I also hid a couple of other Caramilk eggs (I plan on eating those) and placed some rabbit foot prints around the house - a stencil with baby powder. Oh I can hardly wait! Take a look:
That's one of the Caramilk eggs in the corner of his green chair. Now I'm going to try to contain the dogs so they don't traipse through the nice little bunny prints. And another shot from today - Riley insisted on eating his meals today with chop sticks. This morning's eggs and toast, he actually did really well but I don't know where he got the idea or the talent.
Yesterday Riley and I met up with some of his friends at the mega mall to see the Easter animals. We usually go to our local small mall and I kind of missed not going there this year but in comparison to what we saw, our usual lot is a bit of a scruffy bunch. And there was always this very old, very randy pony. I was beginning to wonder what I would say to Riley if he asked about it, but I guess this year I don't have to worry about that. Here are a few shots - this other mall had a lovely pony with braids in its hair:
And there were a couple of pigs, one of which looked like he was half vulcan:
The requisite ugly turkey (with all due respect to turkeys):
The Easter bunny, storing up his energy for his big night tonight:
The surreal peacock:
And an alpaca (at least I don't think it's a llama as they are usually taller) with a really nasty eye booger: Lastly, a camera-toting 6-year old with rabbit ears doing the classic "taking a picture of you taking a picture of me":
The previous night I had been up five times - three with my dog and twice with Riley so when he got up at 5:30, raring to go, I wept that I really needed more rest so he played quietly until 7:00. Once I was up, he insisted on going out in the yard to do my chores for me. He started raking and tidying up the yard. For all the gears he has cranked this last week, he turns around and does something so thoughtful it brings me to tears (never mind I have to go and clean up after he's cleaned up). Not much of a fashion plate, but who's looking so early on a Saturday morning?