Sunday, May 31, 2009

Back, In Miniature

It's been a long absence, I know. I've been sick. But I'm better now, and as evidence, here's my beloved and I enjoying ourselves in the sun.

I am very intimidated by paint. I just don't trust my abilities with a brush. But I fell in love with these little wooden people and decided everyone should have a set of dolls representing their family. I began with us. They absolutely crack me up. I can foresee becoming rather irritating to travel with, posing these guys like Amelie's gnome.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

One More Bag

For Olive's Mama Mary.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bench Mondays

So it's, you know, a thing people are doing. People are posting pictures of themselves standing on benches on Mondays. I don't know. It's gone more general and now it's just kind of great pictures of feet on platforms. I rather like these ridiculous assignments. One learns when teaching that they loosen the artistic spirit because the fear of failure dissipates.

In this pic I'm about five feet up on some kind of piling-esque pole in the sick boat yard in Charleston. I climbed up a pallettey wall to get here. Adventures in Coos Bay.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Two-Post Day

Scott's new tattoo, done by the amazing Dan Gilsdorf at Atlas, to commemorate his mother. It's based on a statue she kept by her bed.

Poet Mouse

This is my Olive. I am blessed to be her Noona! She is featured here wearing her birthday crown and birthday tutu that I made for her. Making tutus is my favorite new trick. The crowns, I think, will become a tradition for me with the little ones in my life. A new one each year, to supplement the dress-up box...

And this is Frederick. The book of the same name by Leo Lionni is one of my favorite children's books. When the other field mice are busy storing up grain and so forth, Frederick tends to sit in the sun and daydream. The others consider him rather shiftless, but in the dark of winter, when they've grown bored and cold, he shares his own bounty: he tells them the colors, the sounds, the images, the stories, that sustain them. He is, in short, a poet, and the book is one of very few with the moral that we should respect daydreaming.

Olive just turned one. I was thinking of bequeathment, as one does as a godparent, and I thought of Frederick, and that I would like to help Olive understand the value in experiencing the world quietly, seeing, dreaming, and storing up stories for cold days. For her first birthday I made her this quilt:
So happy first year, walking, talking girl.
And here is a lovely color to store up for the colder months.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother Gifties

When I run out of bag-space in my closet, I make them for my mom. Here's her new traveling bag, with lots of interior pockets, a little clutchy pouch and a matching notebook. I may have to make matching notebooks for all future handbags. A cereal box, a fabric scrap, and some odds and ends of paper. Very satisfying.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Mama

Here she is, as I often think of her.  This photograph was taken before I was born, by the poet William Stafford.  He was good at seeing people, and though I didn't know her yet, this seems like one of the truest pictures I have of her.  Gentle, happy, big kind eyes full of intelligence, alert to all around her,  busy with her hands.
It was my grandma who taught me to sew, but my mama taught me to embroider and to pursue all the other sundry arts I have explored.  Here is some embroidery she laid aside years ago that I recently came across.  She bellydanced throughout my childhood, and created incredible dresses embroidered with mirrors.  The patience and artistry that went into those projects blows my mind.  I wish I had them on hand to photograph.
Her most recent art has been watercolor.  These beautiful cloud studies hang over our kitchen table.  I am amazed by her art, and how much she has learned in a couple of years since she took this up.  It's very brave to launch into an art form that you don't know much about; it scares me a great deal, actually, but she jumps in and learns.

Of course there are many many other things I admire about her.  She is the most brilliant person I know, and she taught me to be loving, and kind, and to be who I am in the world.  
And she also filled my life, and continues to fill it, with magic objects.  These little bits (chair the size of a quarter) are always passing from her hands to mine.  They are rich with family history, with beauty, with meaning.  She taught me to look for beauty and story in the objects that surround me, and I feel deeply blessed with this knowledge and with my love for her.  

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Indoor Cat

This picture is posed. She looks like quite the wild cat, doesn't she? We put her in the lilac and she froze and looked just like this for some time. Scott took a large number of identical photographs. Eventually she managed to jump down which was quite a feat. She looks lovely, though, and I think, more alert than terrified.

And now she's gotten a taste for it. We're more than a little concerned. Her problem solving skills usually involve her meowing pathetically until one of us fixes her problem (sometimes Aidan is reduced to opening doors for her). She doesn't like the way grass feels on her paws, though, so hopefully she'll stick to the more civilized paths and not venture into the nearby wilderness.

If we ever let her out again.

And now I promise no more cat posts for awhile.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

What's Climbing Up My Walls?

I need some identification help.
Anybody know this?
Or this?

I think this is a peony. Anybody second that? And if so, why are there ants all over it? Will they hurt it?

What a treat to move into this home and find it bursting into the most surprising flower!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Stark Necessities of the Kitty Culinary

Because every meal is improved by art and fresh greens.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Keeping House

I have my share of domestic talents. I can sew, and cook, and make things pretty. But, as you have no doubt observed, fair readership, the gentle art that eludes me entirely is cleaning. I just don't have the knack. I have often stared at a dirty counter and wondered how to make it clean. I mean that I always have had the sense that other people had an easier time, some innate understanding that I lack. My husband mentioned in a loving fashion once or twice that he had also observed this lack in my abilities, and although cleaning isn't absolutely top of my list of things to excel at, I did wish I could get better.

Fairly recently, it occurred to me in full epiphianic glory that I know how to learn things, and that the things I learn do not always have to be in the form of abstractions. I've been in graduate school most of my adult life, and finding myself out of it, I've had some intellectual energy to burn. Why not systematically set about researching and synthesizing knowledge about the parts of my life that had previously befuddled me.

In January I set my full intellectual and creative powers toward learning to clean. I began with Amazon, and sought the perfect cleaning book. I found it in this form:
It's extremely practical, assumes you don't know how to clean a counter effectively, and most importantly, the authors are even more toxophobic than I am. It's green as can be. It's not very pretty though. So I use it in this form:
The first thing I learned was that there are simple techniques that are more effective than others. The second thing I learned is that honest to god, if you do a bit of cleaning each day, your house doesn't get super messy. I decided that I simply could not trust my instinct on this issue (it's failed me for thirty some years on this one) and created a regime. I'm very good at following regimes as long as they're entirely of my own making. Here is my regime:
(Matryoshka image "borrowed" from somewhere or other. I've got a real thing for matryoshkas. So sexy. So stern. So motherly. So sweet.)

Now, May seems to me to be quite a domestic month, and I have decided that here on my blog it will be housekeeping month. I have quite a lot to say on the subject, and promise to keep in craft-related. Things one can make. Concoctions. Pretty implements. The like. And please, offer me advice.

Gratuitous kitty attacking feather duster pic:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Today's Hand Bag

I made this little bag from some scraps today. I like it very much. It's so satisfying to make this kind of thing. Very quick and then so very useful, both for its prettiness and also its actual functionality. This whole craft thing is about that, yeah? Being able to create the useful objects around us. I used some left over duck from my dad's bag, and the lining is red stuff left over from the chair seats. The lovely flower print is left over from a soon-to-be revealed project. The button came off of a jacket I have retired. It's actually mostly there just for the photo shoot. I like decorative buttons in theory... but in actual use, the carrying this bag around part, they're a little too frippy.

Me trying to model bag. I always find this kind of shot amusing. Interesting reflection in the beveled edge of the ancient mirror.

I think this is my spring bag. Yes, it's black. That's inevitable. But it's sprigged with flowers!

Friday, May 1, 2009