Monday, December 28, 2009

The laundry is trying to kill me.

It's funny actually the coincidences that pop up. Last post I mentioned using the holidays as a kind of subject crutch for my attempt at humor columns. Now, nearing the end of the holidays and I'm using an actual crutch. To make the circle complete I suppose I should write an article about that as well. - Maybe. For now I'll just give you the shortened version of two baskets of laundry, a stairwell and what felt like a break but is apparently only some damaged ligaments.

Let me tell you as inconvenient as this nonsense is, it is so much easier when your partner is in the country and you have the incredible blessing of a neighbor who is the bee's knees. Note the possessive apostrophe. I'm getting serious about my grammar and punctuation now. I hate catching my mistakes after something's been posted. Latest article over at the Leader. Go ahead read it, you may be one of ten people in the world who do. Join the elite club. And if you're feeling really crazy comment on it. Just don't mention the typo's and mistakes that I didn't catch.

I stumbled upon this really amazing artist Reuben Margolin and I've been thinking about his work. First of all the precision and planning that go into his pieces verge on a religous reverence for the elements of nature. The simple act of movement is taken to this elaborate level. Second of all, it's like this beautiful marriage of engineering, math, art and recycling. And third of all, can you imagine? This guy set out to make these gorgeous monuments to nature and movement that have no practical application in the world but to make something beautiful. Can you imagine how many people probably called him crazy or mocked his efforts? But the thing is, the wonder of it is, that what he has made could never have been achieved if he hadn't pushed beyond that and stayed true to his vision. So I have a new hero.

Also, I found this animation that emphasizes the importance of remembering, it can always get worse.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I'm a little tired of Christmas now. All the weight of the holiday falls on the shoulders of mothers. We carry the weight of all those expectations too long and we're bound to just get tired. Besides I've been writing all these seasonal pieces for the Blue Ridge Leader and I'm afraid I'm just using the seasonal stuff as a crutch because I don't have much else to say.
And then I decide to provide a new post here. The irony. Here is a post to say that I don't have much to say. Meh.

Here is one of my favorite bits of comedy for your viewing pleasure. Of course I know it by heart and parts of it have been rattling around in my head like song lyrics. Oh Erma I love you so.

And then there's my favorite Irishman. Dylan Moran.

I'll check in on you later when you're done laughing at these.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Can I steer an octopus around a wall?

Recently I was re-reading The Christmas Letters by Lee Smith. If you haven't read it, you should. It's one of the few books in epistolary style you can find that's done believably in my mind. But the thing is that in Christmas letters you read the great fiction of a person's life. Lee highlights this in her writing so that what is said in the text is almost a whisper compared to the yell of all that isn't said. We've all read those letters. They almost read like a listing of accomplishments or a nomination for an award. Their lives can't possibly be that good, and if it is, why gloat like that and shove it in all of our faces. But there is a desperate kind of flavor to it as well, between the lines. I remember there was a time when I wrote a few of the dang things and I think I was trying to convince myself that everything was hunky dory when I was new to being a mom, overwhelmed, or just plain lost and struggling my way through it all. So what brings that to mind is my wondering if this blog reads a little like those letters.

Can you hear how I'm struggling to get my footing? Do I sound as scattered and desperate as I sometimes feel? Maybe I'll look back at all these posts once I'm on the other side of all this and it will make sense as a clear transition from one thing to another. First I'm painting, then I'm writing. Then I'm working on a kids book, then I'm working on a novel and I thought it was going to be a YA novel but now I think it might be something else. Then I went and wrote another. And then I start writing a humor column and is it even funny? I'm so all over the place. Maybe I'm just in a funk recovering from the trip to Georgia. No offense Georgia, I love you and all but I think I'm just going to love you from over here. Two observations I picked up while I was down there this time around.
1. The South is not rising anytime soon.
2. Is there anything they don't fry in oil?
I gained weight while I was there and it must have been the deep fried air. But I digress. I'm finally coming to grips with my creative side. Actually I think it's something like a wrestling match or trying to steer an octopus. I won't even tell you about my audition for a Shakespeare play.

Okay I'll tell you the funny bit, but really the rejection still hurts so don't pour salt on it okay? I was auditioning and they asked me to play the part of Tom Snout. He's a worker, who is also an actor but not a very good one. He is playing the part of a wall and being that he is not proficient in the skills he explains to the audience that he is in fact a wall, and goes so far as to explain how the wall works. So I read the lines. And being in character, I moved around a bit as I was reading them. You see these characters are the humor of the play, and a moving talking wall, that's funny! Okay so then the director very politely asked me to read the part again, but this time being more wall-like. So I stayed still, or tried to. I spread my arms out to be like a wall, but had to bring one arm back in to read the script. And I didn't get the part. I am not qualified to be a WALL.
The only direction from here must be up. If only I could see past this wall blocking the view.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Friday, November 06, 2009

Write more wrimo write more!

Just to say -I'm thoroughly amazed at how far you can get when you don't know where you're going. I still don't have a clear idea of my plot, but I know my characters and they are leading the way right now. This is the fun and invigorating part of Nanowrimo where I'm all hopeful frantic. Such a thrill I can't understand why everyone isn't doing this. But heck you must be toying with the idea or why would you be reading about me doing it with any interest? If I wrote about jumping off bridges would you start leaning against the railings? Jump in the water's fine.

Also, why is it that kids are so heart achingly sweet when they feel awful? Is it the same Darwinian survival thing that makes them cute so you'll feed them? Poor Tully is under the weather. No it's not swine flu -though every cough and cold seems more important this year doesn't it? She's just a little feverish. As she was putting herself to bed she told me she was very happy that her brother and I were taking such good care of her. What a nice and sincere thanks! Oh all right I'll keep her, even if she does barf on me.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I have a lot of words and I'm not afraid to use them.

Recently I read How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead, by Ariel Gore. I've read a lot of books about writing but this has become my favorite. She dispels all the excuses for putting things off with practical advice. She doesn't waste a lot of time telling you what you already know. If you want to be a writer, you have to write. What stands out about her advice are all the pointers she gives about self promotion and most of these ideas transfer over to the art market as well. Good stuff. Ariel Gore is the cat's meow. Read anything she's written and her personality just shines through every page. She's the creator/editor of Hip Mama and worth checking out.

Then, Bam opportunity fell into my lap. I'm glad opportunity isn't like a cat with the claws outstretched because that would really hurt. A writer friend met a woman looking for folks to contribute to an online version of a local paper that had gone out of print and she recommended me. I gave her two little audition type articles and she liked them! So now I have the motivation to meet a deadline each week as I write this column. I'll be making more material, honing the craft, maybe even grabbing a few more readers. (No offense to my imaginary friends from here of course.)

Here it is,me in print! Sort of. you know the kind without ink, on a screen and on an obscure website that I can't even connect a link to. Hmm, not very differenty from this at all. My grand entrance to the respectable world outside of self publishing wasn't graceful. If I'd been thinking about it maybe my first sentence wouldn't have had the word crud in it. The difficult thing was to describe what my general subject matter will be, and how to describe myself. Subject matter I still haven't decided on, but since I'm trying to write humor, I'm going to go with whatever has the most joke potential. I'm aiming for five laughs for each piece with pieces averaging about 600 words.

This is what I came up with for a bio:
Alice Mullen is just some poor shlump living over in Lovettsville with too much time on her hands and a seemingly insatiable appetite for work that is unpaid and tedious. A slave to her creative muse she seems incapable of earning money in any of her endeavors. Mother of three, painter, writer and wise arse extraordinaire she balances an inferiority complex with an inflated sense of self. Her credentials are too numerous to mention, her expertise too wide and varied to question. Her education is a combination of both high brow elitist learning and street smarts. She will except both compliments and money at

November. National Novel Writing Month! I'm going to try and start fresh this year and push through. My novel, I guess we can call it my first novel, is still struggling through revision. There's a chance that my bright idea is part of what's been doing me in. Maybe I overdeveloped the plot trajectory so nothing organic could come from the writing. Maybe I was just coloring in the lines trying to hard to get to the next plot hurdle. The benefit of NaNoWriMo is that there'll be no time to over think. The field is wide open for ideas and I'm excited to get started.

Of the two pieces I submitted to the online paper thingy, one was considered to risky to publish. So I give it to you. Happy eat the kid's candy before they do day.

by Alice Mullen
Recently a Springfield Virginia man was arrested for indecent exposure . The catch to the story is that he was naked in his own home in his kitchen making coffee, and this got me to thinking. Isn't this a sort of gender discrimination? If it had been a woman don't you think folks would be less likely to complain?
It's not this fellow's fault that the male genitalia are all dangling and silly. Speaking of which, Ladies have you ever noticed that sometimes, as you gaze lovingly at your man in all his glory it's a little like a cartoon face, the nipples like eyes, the belly button a little nose? Or is that just me? Maybe I'd be less likely to damage sensitive egos if I wasn't laughing hysterically every time a naked man comes at me.
A woman is just less likely to be naked by accident. I, for one, am almost never naked unless the light is flattering (read here dim), or I'm swept up in a certain reckless abandon. Though there are disputes about the actual time this incident occurred, it was most definitely before noon. Reckless abandon never visits me before noon.
I used to live on a large farm, in a dark house, with great views. Since I didn't have any real neighbors, I didn't have curtains. For the most part this worked out just fine. I would step out of the shower, gaze at grazing cows while I dried off, and all was right with the world. One morning though as I stepped out, the sunlight bouncing off my glistening wet skin like a glittery beacon, I looked out to see ten or more people standing around watching as a vet gave the cows inoculations. I'll tell you there's nothing that can make you feel so young and vibrant as crawling away from a window on your hands and knees. Not that I have any shame in my body. I think it's holding together very well, but I have had three children so there are portions of my physique that require subtitles or at the least, post-its of explanation. Without the benefit of these explanations I think the sight of ME is a bit much to take. I make a concerted effort to spare the general public, but my point is, accidents happen.
Back then to our man in Springfield. There's a chance these things just didn't occur to him; his nakedness, the woeful lack of curtains, the watchful eyes of a close knit community. Maybe he was behaving like a flasher, exposing himself to strangers to get some weird thrill. But oh, how lazy and sad. I mean at least you can give a flasher some grudging respect, he's out there fully engaged with life and the elements. Armed with nothing but a trench coat and a sense of purpose, with the ever present threat of a chill wind all but shriveling his credibility. Standing in front of a window? Lazy, lazy lazy. And with the benefits of central heating, down right pitiful. So maybe he was a perv, but a lazy sad one. How awkward are things going to be in this neighborhood? Fully clothed on his way to the mailbox, neighbors will avert their eyes from him for fear of something unzipped or that they'll giggle just thinking of it. I'm not saying it's okay to be creepy or perverted especially where kids are concerned. What I am saying is that in these times when there are so many bad things to be or do, naked hardly seems to be one of them.
It was a mother that called the police, presumably to defend her child from being exposed to too much humanity all at once. What's really disturbing about this is that she witnessed him (either exposing himself or accidentally forgetting his clothes- take your pick) and decided the best way to handle it was to call the police. Victims call police to defend themselves from crimes. What I'm concerned with is that this woman felt so helpless that she had to call the authorities to help. What ever happened to the days when the community set the standards for a modicum of behavior and mothers were the stalwart defenders of these standards? Communities have all but become extinct. Now we just have clusters of houses without anything connecting the lives within them. This woman didn't realize the potential power of her community. It's all just so simple. This guy's neighbors just need to take a small collection and buy the poor man some curtains, and a trench coat just in case.

Friday, October 16, 2009

My favorite deviant

So Felix's teacher sent home a note. Actually it was more like a novella. He's been arguing with her and being disrespectful. Which doesn't sound like him, but when he gets an idea in his head he can be pretty fierce to defend it. The long note offered some examples of his behavior. Did I mention it was long? And as much as I'm embarrassed to know that he's being difficult, as much as I want to help the teacher and come up with strategies for him to deal with everything better. I still think he's doing better than I did as a kid.

I was way too sensitive as a kid. I could deal with adults, I felt like I understood animals, but other kids were a mystery to me. Once we were watching a slide show about the sun. I was spacing out, looking out the window. I remember it was one of the slide show movies with a loud beep to signal in the recording for the teacher to change the slide. I tuned in to pay attention just in time to hear that the sun was a star and would eventually burn out. But, because I hadn't been paying attention I thought they said it would burn out in 30 years not 30 million. (This highlights the value of paying attention kids.) I took in my little dose of misinformation and just absorbed it. I looked around at all my classmates and felt like I suddenly understood them. That it all made sense, the things they thought were funny that weren't, the way they acted so loud and wild. It was only news to me, they already knew we were all doomed and they were just determined to live it up. I went on thinking like that for months before I finally sorted it all out. See? Weird dark goth child. Maybe I was anemic, or prematurely depressed? I think having a strange viewpoint growing up sort of helps me now. I can usually come at things from some unexpected angle, because normal just eludes me. But poor Felix. I hope him and normal can become acquainted.

And while I'm rummaging through the junk left on the sidewalks of memory lane I can't leave out the big black dog. Grammar school our recess was out on the blacktop. Across from the blacktop there was this big grassy slope that looked out over the school and everyone set their coats and lunches on the hill. Now me, being anti-social and all, I sat up on the hill and watched. Sometimes I watched the games of the kids below, and sometimes I tried to see into the windows of the school and wondered what the teachers did when we were all outside. One day this big old black dog sauntered up to me on the hill. He was a little shy, like me, but eventually he sat beside me and I patted him. To me it was a thrill because secretly I was lonely and it was so nice to have some affection in the middle of the day. But as I was patting him I could feel his ribs sticking out . . .

I remember sitting in the principals office, crying, my nose running, gasping for breath in between sobs. The principal kept asking me what I had been thinking. And I really didn't get it. I know I was upset that an adult was upset with me but I truly didn't understand. My dog friend had been so hungry, and all the kids, well, they were obviously well fed.

I know some version of the big black dog will eventually find Felix. Maybe he can do better than I did and just feed the dog his own lunch and not every one's.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

pummelled with my good fortune

Things are ridiculously good. I've met so many amazing and incredibly nice people. I'm meeting with someone tomorrow to find out about showing some artwork at a winery. I'm meeting Friday with someone to help prepare for Oktoberfest. I'm meeting Tuesday with another writer whose work I really like.
After all the time and isolation I had back at the farm all these connections and shared interests are just blowing my mind. What have I done to get so danged lucky?
I'd be an ass not to appreciate it, but I don't want to jinx it either. So it all comes down to the butterflies. We have so many butterflies here that we don't even need flowers, they just flit about in the trees, on the deck and the front lawn. Big black ones with bright blue tips. Zebra striped ones and the occasional monarch. We have so many butterflies in fact that sometimes when I walk out the front door to fast I get smacked in the face with a wing. That's what my good fortune feels like right now. It's just silly.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Selling myself short

My first time as a vendor in a fair! Sales-wise, not a spectacular showing, but not bad either considering the economy. I learned so much and I was so lucky to have a good friend to share it with.

I had made arrangements ages ago to borrow a tent from a friend and hadn't really given much thought to how I would display things. The week before the fair I was wracking my brain trying to think of a way to display it all. A neighbor friend offered the loan of a standing panel, like a woven shutter -and then I remembered the much neglected shutters in the shed of the big house at the farm. Lickety split I chatted with the current tenants and slipped three tall and four short shutters into the car. In the following week I painted them all white, Eric set hinges on the short ones so they'd stand independent and I muddled through with practice setups in the driveway. Not to reveal all my secrets but the tall shutters attached to the tent with rubber bands and hair-ties.

Originally I had thought I would just tack a few nails in the wood and hang the paintings like I do in the studio. That doesn't account for the wind though and then I realized that I could tie the canvases to the shutters with plain old kite string.

Friday evening we set up just the tent and then went home planning to set up the display the following morning. The mother of all storms hit about an hour later and I found myself barefoot in the pouring rain, bailing out Emer's egress window with a bucket. The gutter had clogged (right above it of course) and the view out her window became an odd kind of aquarium. I bailed the water from about waist height, back down to the rocks where it was supposed to be and then got the call from the fair that the tent had gone down and that's all they knew. They didn't know if it had blown away, been knocked down, broken. No details.

It was hard to sleep that night wondering what I had to look forward to in the morning. I packed up everything I would need to set up, all the paintings and rubber bands and kite string and decided to hope for the best.

Bern got there before me and did some of her own bailing, taking the water out of the canvas section on the top. Then we set into the work of putting the tent up again. One section was slightly bent and two pieces had come disconnected but this really nice Amish guy came along and helped us. He had a pocket knife, a beard and suspenders. After fixing the tent then we had the long process of setting up our display. The first day it honestly looked a little cluttered and busy and we hadn't yet figured out where the flow of traffic would go. By the second day the weather had improved and we streamlined the set up to be kind of a breeze through. I also put up some signs explaining who and what we were, and I threw caution to the wind, lowered my prices and talked more to customers. I was sorry to see the day end because I felt like I was just hitting my stride. The next event I have is Octoberfest in downtown Lovettsville where my new friend Kristin is trying to make a kind of art alley, Then Middleburg fair selling batiks with Mary, and then possibly the Waterford fair. I realize now though that most of these fairs are where people buy gifts for others rather than art for their own homes. With that in mind I plan to touch base with two antique stores in the area that sell things on commission since that is more my market. The pieces that didn't sell are re-posted on Etsy and I've dropped all my prices. A healthy dose of reality is good for that.

Another bonus of the fair was that I had the good fortune to meet some other artists in the booth next to us, one of which is a YA writer. And that got me to dust of the manuscript and have another go at it.

All and all it went pretty well considering I started the whole thing underwater and overwhelmed.

Monday, August 10, 2009

sitting around watching the paint dry

I refuse to make excuses. But I will do some splainin'.
Stay -at- home mom..summertime, more busy.
New house, moving, cleaning out old house, more busy.
No internet at new house, more stir crazy than usual and more busy.

So it's August. What of it.
You want to start something with me on my lack of bloggability? Get in line. I have three small people taking turns telling me how much I suck on a minute by minute basis.
In all fairness, they have been really good sports about the hard stuff. The constant drives to and from. The endless boxing and un-boxing, the cleaning, the painting. They entertained themselves all pretty reasonably. It's just the last couple of days that they've all hit a limit of sorts and started a mutiny. The weird thing is that this is after I've been trying to make sure they have more fun, get to see more friends, really savor the last of the summer. Give them an inch and they seem to say WTF? I ordered a mile, and by the way -cut my milk!

I know we're probably just on the other side of the whole moving transition. I know it's a big change. It must be hard to suddenly have a bigger nicer house, neighbor friends in walking distance and a whole community of neighbors that all seem too good to be true. -We really have lucked out. We found this place, weighed our options, did a lot of math and what if scenarios, but we didn't account for the neighbor factor. It reminds me a little of the movie Ice Castles. -We forgot about the flowers.

I haven't painted anything but walls for a month or more, and my writing has been collecting dust. Always a good push in the right direction is the success of friends. A writer that had been kind enough to work with me for a bit recently got an agent. Besides being so happy for her, I'm also mad at myself. I'm looking forward to the school schedule so I can get back to writing more regularly. -And doubting myself and my commitment. Dang it. Maybe if I did only one thing I could be more successful. And maybe I should paint the basement a light warm tan. I don't know. Distractions are endless.

I really like having a house. More than that I like having people over. It's so different than the cave we'd been in. This house is so well suited to us it just amazes me. Lucky, lucky lucky. I feel a little guilty that it was at someone else's expense. I mean their misfortune led to the foreclosure that allowed us to be here. The best I can do is to try not to take it for granted. So I'm not. I won't.

Helpful in that respect is the lack of tv. Not even an antenna it's movies, netflix stuff, or internet for entertainment. Feel a little bad for the kids on that, but the chances of me actually getting things done is so much better without the visual crack box to fall back on. Marx said religion was the opiate of the masses but I think religion is playing second fiddle to t.v. these days.

So I've missed you, my invisible mostly imaginary friend. Stop by soon. Eventually I'll say something worthwhile. I'm going to go paint a wall or something.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

July!? Already? Oh dear.

Fast forward. We bought the house. Eric was in Amarillo at the time and I got to sign all the paperwork for both of us. I signed John Eric Arlington by Alice Mullen attorney in fact, and Alice Mullen like a zillion times and then it was done.

Funny thing I met with Eric afterward and we were having dinner in a local restaurant when he asked when we would get the keys. I forgot to ask for them and our realtor forgot to give them to us! She was so nice to drive out and drop them off right there and then for us though.

We've been a flurry of activity since then getting the house fixed up, and ready for us to move in. The place came with a riding lawnmower that was broken and Eric managed to fix it. Matter of fact his knack has come in pretty handy as he's fixed the dishwasher, and washing machine as well. He's also dug a trench and put in a pipe to fix a water drainage problem. With some help getting started I've painted two bathrooms and half of a bedroom. There's also been a lot of cleaning, but for the most part the house is just about ready for us. We've got a contractor putting in a window for the downstairs basement and then we'll move in. Right now we've been doing little day trips over bringing small loads of stuff each time.

A nice tradition we've started is that once we're done with whatever chores we planned while we're there we go for a walk on the trails that Eric has mowed. It's a nice way to wind down and remember why we like it there so much. There are fresh blackberries on the path and we usually see some kind of wildlife. Frogs by the pond, rabbits or a deer. Oddly the deer where Eric went camping were less wild then the ones in our backyard. This photo is from a camping trip Eric took the kids to in Shenendoah.

Okay. Back to packing and hauling things and such. -A

Friday, June 05, 2009

We've begun the countdown to when we'll close on the new house. It's a weirdly exciting process to finally own a house and to plan this whole moving/settling in process. One of the best parts is that I'll have a garage as a studio. It has enough electricity to run the kiln and to do the batik work I've been making and start experimenting with encaustic painting which is a really nice blending of both the batik work and oil painting. I might even be able to give some painting classes in the studio.

I'm still plugging away at the writing process. I've been taking a writing course online and I'm pleased with both how demanding it has been and the quality of work from the other students. What I need to do is start submitting the pieces I've written.

In a weird twist of fate we finally have some neighbors in the big house and I really like them. It's so nice to see people outside and just go and hang out. It's been especially nice for Tully to have a little friend her own age to play with. It's going to be difficult to move away from them.

I'm gearing up for the Lucketts Fair in August making a variety of paintings at different price ranges to try and sell. If it goes well I might try and do the Waterford Fair as well. Word on the street is that it's a more art oriented program and the people with heavy wallets are more prone to show up and spend. We'll see.

Sort of a boring post but them's the facts Jack. I'll try and post photos of all the new work I've been making soon.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Diving in.

So I'm surprised that after feeling locked out of the housing market for so long that being a prospective home buyer is not really all that exciting to me. That said, we seem to have found a house or it has found us. All the arguments against buying have dawdled off and left me standing on the precipice of this really huge decision. I'm oddly detached. I tell a few friends and they congratulate us. -Really? We're taking on a huge fiscal responsibility that could be like an albatross around our necks weighing us down and limiting our options in a shifting sea of uncertainties. Yay?
Usually I'm pretty in tune with myself. I've got a pretty good handle on what I'm feeling and why most of the time. Maybe it's just that this is uncharted territory for us, a great unknown. Maybe it's because we've studied the housing bubble for so long that we can't be swayed with the allure of home decorating. I don't know. -And that's so odd to me since usually I'm such an insufferable know-it-all.
Some comfort as we head into this is that as much as we've settled into our lives here at the farm, the park authority that runs it has a 15 yr plan for the property that doesn't include us. I think I would feel better leaving here if something would break or someone would make me mad. It seems so counter intuitive to leave when things are good. Hmm. Much to ponder.

And on the subject of pondering I've realized that too often with this blog I play it safe. I recently stumbled into a blog - Pacing in the Panic Room and I left mesmerized by how the author, Ryan had entered into this thing, this process so fully. In his writing he revealed himself with a capital R, allowing himself to be vunerable and sentimental and just so achingly human that I felt privileged to witness his journey. Also for a long time I've followed Sharon in her blog Weapons of Mass Distraction, so much so that I feel like I could count her as a friend. She's clued me in to so many cool sites and music and art that I owe her a great debt, yet we've never met. And Holy Cow what that girl can do with a camera can curl your toes. This whole blogging thing is an amazing use of technology and with it we make these fumbling gestures at creating community, and sometimes folks succeed in doing just that.
So I found myself thinking about it. Why don't I do that? No. Really.
You see I know there aren't that many people that read this. What am I doing it for if I'm not going to take any risks? And in the thinking I discovered what I'd forgotten.
Long long time ago I was 18 and left home. My father and I parted on bad terms, my mother, showing signs of dementia, was with him. I was over stuffed with melodramatic crap from books and movies, so full of my sense of right and wrong that I wouldn't speak to my dad. I had all sorts of trials and tribulations but every Thursday while my dad was at work I would call my mom and let her know that I was okay. I prided myself on my ability to turn everything into a good story, to get a laugh out of her, to make sure she didn't worry. I remember calling from a payphone when I was living in a motel with all sorts of troubles weighing down on me, but she laughed and I felt like I'd done my job for the week.

So this blog has been like those phone calls for me. I keep it light, I try and hit the funny points here and there but I never dig too deep or reveal myself too much. I wouldn't want anyone to worry. But I think I'm going to try and change that -either that or just be much funnier.
And in the spirit of jumping off into new things. Here is the latest painting I've started. It's still in the very early stages but it's ginormous and it'll be a journey getting it where I want it. Also very excited to be getting a big jug of Dorland's wax medium to paint with. I've never used it before but I've seen how it can be used and have great hopes. Thanks to a gift cert it was free!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

If Dr. Suess ran a hatchery

Usually I'm not a big fan of dyeing eggs for Easter. My family wasn't big on the tradition; or if we did, we were lackadaisical about actually having an Easter egg hunt. Little did I know how much fun it could be if you know the right people.
The kids and I and Eric made these beauties at Mary's house with hot wax and batik methods. Almost too pretty to eat, but we'd better eat them soon. Egg salad anyone?

It seems fitting to be looking at pictures of eggs though because aside from Easter it seems that we're waiting for all sorts of things to hatch.
(Tapping my toe and pointedly looking at you Kristi. But no pressure, really. tap tap tap. anytime now. tap tap)
We're waiting to see if the renewed dream of buying a house will hatch into something real and watching all the greenery explode around us. Things are good, and more good things will come.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Straws and camels

There comes a point when enough is just enough.
Damn you wood paneling, damn you to hell. (read threatening scowl, shaking fist here).

So tired of facing these dark brown walls for yet another day I fought back and I might have actually won. I used every trick I've ever heard of, big white ceiling to floor curtains (more to cover the wall than the window), mirrors everywhere, more white accessories than you can shake a stick at. As if that wasn't enough, I peeled off the two layers of grimy old wallpaper behind the sink in the kitchen and painting the small bit of non-wood white. I don't have before and after photos because it was such a dark cave before even the camera said, "No thanks I'd rather not." But here are a few of the improvements. And because they're my kind of improvements they were all on the cheap.

The result? Entirely more tolerable. It's not the Taj Mahal but at least I'm not internally cringing every time my eyes bump against the structural necessities of my confinement.

Now that the interior is more better I can focus on more important things. Like what you ask? New items in the shop! I'm taking spring cleaning to a new level and offering new listings of all styles and sizes, older work, newer stuff and more to come. Keep posted. My continuing frustration is with the quality of my photos of the paintings. Every version I can get of clear lighting also reflects a bit off the oil giving a slightly washed out look that doesn't really show the vibrancy of the colors. Ah, well I'll keep at it regardless.

In the writing realm I'm been having a lot more success with a program called scrivener that allows you to divide chapters into scenes and shuffle and rearrange. I've revised up to chapter 5 and I'm hopeful that I'm getting somewhere. I've also been so very lucky to find another writer to share work with. It's time to sign up for some online classes though and get the show on the road.

In the more mundane realm of family. Eihmear had a birthday, which once a year is about what you'd expect. I think 9 will be good for her, I'm hopeful. She recently finished The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe series, she came in 4th in a chess tournament and she has been inventing things. I think it's safe to say that she's developing into a very well rounded geek.

Felix has been overly tired, maybe from growing? Maybe from staying up late reading comics? Who knows, luckily he's still very sweet most of the time and tells me he loves me about a million times a day. He's been really enjoying piano and showing a bit of a knack for it. And did I mention he won an art competition? The whole school participated in the contest to design the cover for the year book. (Don't get me started on how crazy I think it is for an elementary to have a yearbook.) Felix won for both his grade and the whole school. So his picture will be on the cover. Unfortunately I don't have any shots of it and I'll have to buy the yearbook. Neat idea though, the school mascot is a lion. So he drew a lion, did the whole picture in watercolors and then ripped up pieces of paper with his friend's and teacher's names on them and filled in the picture like a collage. That's my little man in the middle.

Tully is fierce mild as of late. When she's upset or angry she goes up to the tree house and picks her nose. This has been the year of the stink bug and many of them have become her pets. I think this is fine until she tries to put them on leashes and take them for walks. I heard her one day outside yelling "Hi!" She was so loud and friendly I looked in the drive to see who was here but there was no one. I walked around the house to find her and she was in the backyard saying hi to the horses. They bend their heads down over our fence to get at the grass (you know, greener of course) and she hugs their noses. They're very tolerant. They might even like it. I've decided though for the most part that horses are just very big rabbits with smaller ears. Grass, grass, grass, nibble nibble. ect.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

objects in the mirror are stranger than they appear

Okay. So the thing that's really disorienting about Facebook is all these people popping up out of the woodwork from my hometown, my high school, grammar school ect. There was a 30 rock episode that pretty much sums up my experience with this but I couldn't find a clip to link to here. The basic gist was that Tina Fey's character thought she was a geek, a loser that everyone picked on. The truth was that she was so defensive she was verbally attacking people, making jokes at their expense all through school and they all thought she was a bully. I don't know where in the spectrum I fall but it sure felt familiar as I watched it. I feel like I owe everyone from my hometown an apology. I wasn't very nice, or very aware of anything other than how miserable I was. So very glad not to be there any more.

I'm done with my short obsession with moving or buying a house. It's a kind of crazy that can take you over imagining possible futures in different places. My only hang up with staying here on the farm is that the park authority won't let me paint the wood paneling and the sight of it makes me ill. I'm reviewing various schemes for covering it up. None of which Eric will approve.

We got Emer a spacing retainer to help spread her jaw to fit all those big teeth. And I'm comforting myself with what an expensively beautiful smile she'll have someday. It's difficult for her to talk with it in, it's uncomfortable and difficult to get used to ,but she's being an incredibly good sport about it all.

I signed up to sell my artwork at the local fair this summer. I'm sharing the space with my Tuesday Night Art Group so it's bound to be fun even if it isn't profitable.

I refuse to post another false promise to post pictures later. Look, me and the camera are having an argument. I don't want to get into it.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Enough all ready. meh.

I finished the first rough draft of what we will loosely refer to here as, -the novel. Now my plan is to let it stew for a few weeks, get some distance from it and then when I return to it, turn it into something I would actually want to read. As a late xmas gift to myself, or just to celebrate, I got myself a new bracelet. I'll include pictures later once I find the camera. Coolest piece of jewelry EVER. Made from old typewriter keys. Put it on my writing hand, of course.

I'm interested in the way my brain shifts focus after being so intent for what felt like so long. I haven't jumped into a new story but I have jotted down twenty or more ideas to turn into stories, for different age groups. Though it seems like a lame file to have in my documents I actually put them all into an 'idea box' so I have something to draw from when the well runs dry.

Then I started painting again. I started reworking the huge abstract, and then ideas and color combinations started flooding my brain. I'll be lucky if I can get them all onto a canvas in the time I have, but I'll try. Even though big canvases are my big happy right now I'm going to try and knock off some smaller pieces to post on the etsy site. I might even create some small booklets of my stories to offer for sale.

As for random thoughts on another subject entirely. A huge flock of canadian geese came honking by this morning and it was such a drizzly cold rainy day I felt sorry for them for a second, living out in the elements. And then it dawned on me that they love the water, and they love to fly, so flying in the rain would be the best of both worlds for them. Lucky ducks, or erm geese. They still look like flying bowling pins to me though.