Monday, September 30, 2013

Ode to Innocence

Georgia O'Keefe, Black Iris, 1906
Before he picked the flowers
from her secret garden,
was she softer on the outside,
or predestined to harden?
Beautiful and innocent in her personal hell.
Blooming in seasons through her broken shell. 

Before he plucked the petals,
from her ambrosia bouquet,
was she sure to soar,
or always meant to decay?
Degraded and innocent, a false world in her head.
Better than praying that she was already dead. 

Before he fed off of
the damage inside,
did her soul shine with pride
or did shame always reside?
Mending torn innocence, she stitches her seems,
Envisioning beauty and reclaiming her dreams. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Ode To Body

Abundant substance, I behold;
matter over mind.
Obscuring truths sevenfold,
blind led by the blind.

Abusive fingers curl around,
the handle of a gun.
Liquid bullets to my lips;
death by consumption.
Barbara Kruger, "Untitled (your body is a battleground)"

Faithful subject, loyal friend;
true through darkest times.
Rights of passage, means to ends,
scenic view of crimes.

Restrictive habits starve my soul,
unconditionally unkind.
Sustenance---myself, I stole.
No fruit, only the rind.

I pledge my love, I make a vow:
nothing that I think,
Will from hereon ever weigh you down,
Or cause your heart to sink.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Ode to Masks

This masquerade, a ball to most,
With drink in hand, proposing toasts.

Dark eyes obscured by masks grow moist,
Batting against the winds of choice.

Compelled by spirit, called by chance,
They step in time and do the dance.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Kitchen Cabinets and the Yellow Sun

So, as if making invitations all weekend and then celebrating their completion until 7AM on Sunday wasn't taxing enough I decided to paint the front doors of my kitchen cabinets on Tuesday.  I was glad it was actually decent weather so I decided to take advantage of the day and finish up a project I had been wanting to get to for awhile. 

My motley cupboard doors were in need of a spruce, and my kitchen needed brightened up.  Half of my cabinets were stained wood, unvarnished, and the other half were covered in a faux wood grain formica that I wasn't exactly sure would accept paint well.  I went with a sunshine yellow and used Valspar spray paint that is primer and paint in one and is made for wood, metal, and plastic, etc.  I scrubbed all the doors, then unscrewed them at the hinges.  All different sizes of screws, because of course none of the cabinets actually match.  This proved to be more fun when we put them back on!

The paint only took about two coats, and I had just enough to finish all of the cabinets sans the one under the sink (which I am planning on painting orange).  They dried rather fast and it seems to have dried on the formica, although it is a little more prone to scratching.  We'll see how this goes over time.  Luckily they are the upper cabinets and are not used by little hands.  I would have roughed them up first with some sand paper, but couldn't find any and I was being too impulsive to wait.

So, there!  13 cabinet doors painted, and it's like I have a brand new kitchen!  Yeah...nowhere even close, but it only took a few hours and was a cheap way to change the mood of the room.  Now if it was only that easy to change out the sink.  That's a much bigger project, but coming soon enough.  In the meantime...I finally have cabinets that are coordinated in some way.  If it doesn't match, make it match!!  I actually have always said that matching is overrated, but when your kitchen is naturally dark, some artificial sunshine can go a long way!

Monday, September 16, 2013

You're Invited OR Creating Corresponding Cards

One of the main parts of planning a wedding, which is basically just a glorified personal prom, is the invitations!  There are so many options nowadays.  This was one of the most exciting aspects of my wedding for me because I chose to design and make my own.  I even had a wedding "logo" that was on them along with the t-shirts I designed and printed for the wedding party to wear.  I was technically married in a t-shirt, but we also walked out of a chicken coop so it worked.  (I took some artistic licenses, I guess you could say, with our wedding theme.)  It was very personalized as were our invitations.  I used 100% recycled card stock and envelopes.  I got to experiment with different colors of vellum and natural jute twine.  I designed them all myself, included a quote from Tuesday's With Maury, and hand addressed every one. 

The card making was a memorable time; it was one stage of wedding preparation that I really enjoyed.  It took a lot of work, but was a lot of fun and very rewarding.  They looked awesome, if I do say so myself!  Other people liked them as well and I later had someone ask me to make their son's graduation announcements, which was a neat project to do as well.  My cousin is getting married this November and asked me to make her invitations for her.  I was very honored to be asked and excited because I learned while making mine that my love for stationery transcends my notebook collection.  I like to design and make my own cards! 

My cousin is having a fall wedding theme with leaves and such, fitting for the month it will take place.  Her colors are chocolate brown, red and a rust color.  I was so excited to work with these colors.  It's going to be gorgeous, that's my pallet!  I'm such an Autumn.  We met and decided over wine how they would look and ordered the supplies from, which is where I also bought all of the paper and envelopes for my previous cards.  I talked her into using a wax seal on the outside of the inner envelope which we ordered also.  I was so excited to live vicariously through my cousin's personalized stamp!  I have always loved and wanted to use wax seals.  I was SO psyched! 

This weekend my cousin came up to help finalize and assemble the invitations.  It was a memorable occasion to say the least.  Friday night she arrived around nine.  I was still laying out the graphics and wording.  My mom kept Celie so I could safely get out my rotary cutter and mat.  I used to use this to cut fabric when I was in my Missie Susie seamstress stage.  I also used it to cut the paper for my wedding invitations and a ton of other stuff.  It's dangerous as hell and intimidating as shit, but is a vital tool for crafting and sewing.  I reacquainted myself with my tools and got to work.  We stayed up all night talking and catching up while I was printing all of the pages and cutting paper.  We stayed up until 4am and then I decided the rest could be done the next morning.  Saturday evening we were planning on having some other family over to my parents' house to help with the assembling.  Everything was decided, I just needed to finish printing.  Surely I could get that done easily tomorrow, right?

Saturday, of course we ran into problems as soon as I started printing.  First the printer jammed, then I ran out of ink, which I didn't have on hand.  Long story long, I got everything printed out and ready for the assembly party by around 9PM.  We took the supplies down to the crew, and after hours of taping, tying, stuffing, addressing and stamping we finally finished up around 3AM.  85+ invitations, DONE!  We then commenced with the celebratory drinking.  It was one hell of a night and morning!

The invitations turned out so damn nice.  I was actually REALLY proud of myself for this one.  I got to experiment with wax seals, and they turned out pretty good for my first time.  I am totally a stationery nerd, because even though it was nearing 2AM, I was sad when I finished sealing all of the inner envelopes. I LOVE PLAYING WITH MELTED WAX!  Yes...stationery is swell!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Munches From the Mission Jar

I have two of these awesome little crock jars that clasp shut, old school.  They are nice pieces alone, but one of them ended up with an even cooler purpose because it has become so much more than a mere vessel.  It's maximum volume is limitless.  It symbolically holds unlimited potential.  This jar has been dubbed "The Mission Jar" and it can be fun and sometimes challenging.  I love it; constructive and creative play!

I found this site last year that had the idea of the jar, so I didn't make it up or anything, just pounced on it.  There was a page of squares to print out, some with missions on them, others you filled in yourself.  After adding your own personalized missions, you then cut out the squares and place these into some sort of container.  Everyday (or whenever) you pick out a square slip and do what is required of you.  It can be fun!  And it gives you a project to work on that you aren't in complete control of deciding.  Makes you think!  Good for the brain...the spirit....the boredom!! 

"Write a Song About Your Day" proved to be an adventure! "Give Someone a Compliment" wasn't too challenging, but important work nonetheless.  I reckon the transcended vessel could be called the Cup O' Challenge? I'm still working on my "Create an Image with Dots" challenge, which is my latest assignment.  The image here is of my last challenge to "Bake Something, for a Friend or Neighbor".  I made these lovely and festive cup cakes for my friend Leslie, even though Celie and I ended up eating most of them!  Oops! 

So, straight from the Mission Jar, there's something sweet and savory that didn't exist before.  This is a great way to do something creative once in awhile.  You can make all of your slips pertain to something in particular, being a writing prompt or a certain topic, what have you.  Whatever works for you.  The simple act of having random goals and challenges accomplished is good for the spirit and keeps us in a playful and thoughtful state of mind.  Keeping the creative mind active with projects as you age is probably just as important as stimulating the analytical mind with crossword or sudoku puzzles.  "If you don't use it, you lose it!" I guess they say, so flex that creative muscle and keep your mind open!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Asking For Help: A Retrospective Ramble

[Started February 3, 2012]

Last week I was still dealing with crazy head.  Don’t get excited, nothing has changed, but I have a plan of action now at the very least.  I’ve said I want a Renaissance.  I’ve been saying it and feeling it.  But it’s hard to work on my Self and be a semi-single SAH mother and a wife and a writer and an artist and a musician and a business owner.  For some reason I guess I always felt like I should be able to do it all.  Not 100%, but at least do it all myself.  My husband is always away, so I take on the role I have to in order to exist here.  But I want my other roles; I have many.  It’s hard to keep things going and still manage to do everything.  Motherhood trumps everything else, including my sanity.
Drifting Sun has been back burnered for quite awhile now.  My shed was inundated with all of the stuff that was in my office prior to us needing a room for the baby.  I only printed one or two jobs the entire time I was pregnant.  I actually had my sister and husband do the physical printing, and I just did the screening, prepping and registration.  It can get a little smoky while printing, and in July while being 8 months pregnant the last thing I wanted to do was be standing and printing in my tiny hot box of a shop.  So they printed for me as I oversaw the process while sitting outside in a chair, and it worked out nicely.  I did print a couple pieces when they ran into problems, though, and helped them get straightened out.  And I printed a jacket job I had, because it was one jacket (ONE CHANCE SWIPE!) and my husband felt a little too intimidated to do it himself, which is understandable. 

I just printed a job for my cousin (December 2011), a memorial shirt for my Aunt Leslie who died of cancer in 2008.  It was an honor to print these shirts and it got me back into the swing of things with printing after the pregnancy hiatus.  This still doesn’t change the fact that my printing and chemicals and dark(bath)room stuff doesn’t exactly mix with watching a toddler.  And even when I am working on graphics or other things, it takes a great deal of my attention.  I’m always split.  I’m not a working mother and I’m not a stay at home mother...I’m something else.  I’ve tried to work out a situation where I could have her consistently watched once a week but haven’t been able to make it work yet.  At a loss, I’ve taken a friend on as my “assistant” instead.  I need help.  I think it’s obvious, and if I am pleading “please, I’m dying here!” and am not answered with a helpful hand, then by the fuck I’ll MAKE a helping hand.  Leslie is my friend and it seems appropriate she shares my aunt’s name.  Truthfully, other than my aunt, she is the only Leslie I have ever known.  She will visit me a lot and simply allow me to get simple things done like the dishes or getting a shower, just by being another individual that is around.  Leslie has agreed to help me out with my business also.  It seems appropriate that the first time I met her I was in the shed printing a job.  She actually helped me out watching my kid AND printing the first day I met her.  Maybe it was her eagerness, or something inside of her I recognized that seemed familiar, but this girl is a lifesaver.  Sometimes you just recognize people on a soul level and the connection is immediate and effortless.
Sometimes asking for help can be difficult.  I have grown to have a problem with this because the response was usually unsatisfying.  I shirked from asking for help...but in truth, I need help.  Isn’t it obvious?  It can be hard to submit to the fact that you are lost, look at the male stereotype of how hard it is to ask for directions.  Last year I struggled with this dilemma when deciding whether to take antidepressants or not and whether to begin to see a therapist or not.  Decisions decisions.  Life decisions.  This year has been chock full of the help I received because of that decision, the decision to heal.  The decision to leave the victim mentality behind.  It’s mostly a battle with EGO.  Ego doesn’t need it thinks.  Truth is...EGO needs help more than anyone or anything.  EGO is the prime reason for all suffering and most of the communication problems among us.  It’s quite the bitch. 

So last year was fucking nuts but it was a first step into what really feels like a whole new life, it seems fitting that December 2012 was the end of the Mayan calendar and the supposed end of the world as we know it.  Nothing seemed to happen, aside from symbolically.  Was that really such a bad thing?  I needed the change.  I needed my world to end so that my new life could begin.  It was a matter of SURRENDER.  I simply had to surrender to the help that I have always desperately needed...physically, emotionally, mentally...and spiritually. 

[Finished September 10, 2013]

(Facebook Meme Graphic/artist unknown)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor of Love: 138th Cooper Picnic

Today we did what we have done for Labor Day...well, all of my life?  I wonder if it really has been 32 years in a row?  Surely not, but most years of my life.  I don't know how old I was when we first went.  Surely I missed a year or so in there somewhere? Who knows?  Most of the years of my life I have gone to the Cooper Picnic on Labor Day.  This was Celie's 3rd year.  She made her Cooper Grove debut about 7 days after she was born; it was our first outing as a family. This year was the 138th annual Cooper Picnic.  My family's involvement in these festivities has spanned decades and it is a tradition that is close to my heart and will hopefully continue.

When I was younger Labor Day sometimes started the day before the picnic.  My dad is an electrician, and often fixed things or helped out as they were preparing for the event.  I remember going with him when he fixed the soft serve ice cream machine.  I thought it was so neat, I got to see how it was made.  My family also helped out and we were expected to for many years once we were older.  My grandmother worked in the kitchen when we were younger and we would run into the old dining hall kitchen to see her.  "I love you!" she'd tell us every time.  We would visit a minute or two, watching as she did the dishes.  It was also in this hall where my parents had the dinner part of their wedding reception.

The Cooper Picnic has games and small rides, like the unforgettable hay rides, but I can even remember when they used to have a ferris wheel and there were ticket booths.  They have the traditional bbq chicken dinner but also have a stand with burgers and such.  Funnel cakes, blue berry milk shakes, birch beer!  A few of my favorite things. The games and flea market are even better.  I can't even say how many gold fish we've won and free goods we have acquired.  My pap spun the chuck-o'-luck wheel for well over twenty five years!  I can still hear his voice declaring, "An ace, a deuce, and a trey!"  My grandmother worked at the Chinese auction when we were older, this was actually the last place that I saw her alive.  We stood in the spot where I last spoke to her on this Labor Day as we talked to a friend and watched his dad's band perform.  I forgot to mention the live music they have every year.  It's a good time.  Plus, you never know who you are going to run into at the Cooper Picnic, family, friend, or foe!

The grove is haunted by the spectres of my youth but I am sure more than that clings to this place.  I used to attend catechism classes every Wednesday in the main building that has long been torn down and replaced by a new one.  We used to ride the merry-go-round until we were sick!  They used to have the yearly 'Sleigh Full of Gifts' dinner here where we saw Santa.  I remember coming to Karate events here that my dad was in when I was a kid.  What else happened here, beyond my life?  To think, what was this grove like 138 years ago when the residents of Cooper Settlement started this community tradition?  What did these grounds look like?  The grove itself must have been so different; these trees, while impressive, were clearly not here 138 years ago.

As my daughter ran wildly evading my husband's attempts to control her, I saw myself running around the Cooper Grove as a kid, barefoot and wild, lost in tradition.  Living in the holiday.  Times have changed, the grove has clearly changed, the food has changed, the games have changed....the people have changed.  Many things about this event have changed over the years...but the tradition continues.