Saturday, November 19, 2011

I Won't Back Down

Tom Petty.
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers.

I had a best friend growing up, and for about as long as I can remember she was over the moon for Tom Petty. All through junior high, and high school she would regale us with the life and times of Tom Petty... his looks, his talents, his latest album, her favorite singles. She would call me when the Heartbreakers were on the radio. She labored over his portrait in art class. And no matter what anyone had to say against him, she jumped to his defense.

She kept this up through college. She got an autograph, "To Jill ~Tom Petty." She went to concerts. Lots of 'em. And she has not backed down. She was at a concert just weeks ago. The cover photo for Damn The Torpedoes has been her FB profile picture. She is still a fan.

And I guess this is not surprising, not for teenagers. Being a fan, loving a band or a musician, or a Hollywood star is pretty typical stuff, but I think Jill took it to a whole other level and just short of craZy ObesSion! She is not the same person she was as a teenager, but she has the same true devotion to her convictions, to what she loves. From a very young age, she recognized what she liked, she declared it, and she stood her ground, and her sincerity has remained, unwavering. I have always admired Jill for this. Despite distances in time and space, she is a lasting friend, a dedicated person, a true fan. She is honest about what she likes, or does not like, and those lucky Heartbreakers have had one of the most enthusiastic and steadfast supporters you can imagine.

It's sweet, I think. I love that when I hear "I Won't Back Down," The Waiting," "Here Comes My Girl"... I think of Jill. I think of all those days in school together, slam books and stickers, Licorice Pizza, and sleepovers. I think of her first car, Jenny. I think of nights we laughed over the most senseless things, Hmmmmm... smells like popcorn. There are so many things about my teen years, and college days that have sort of faded into the background, and I can see how easy it could be to let those memories slip away for good. But Jill has had the endearing charm of making me remember, making me grin knowingly, and making me appreciate what it means to stand your ground, to not back down.

Jill, thank you.
For still popping-up in my life and making me laugh at senseless things. For instilling in me an appreciation for Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, and for being a model for me of how to feel like a giddy teenage fan when I get to do the things I love. You are, and always have been, an example of living passionately and honestly, and how to stand my ground.

When I went to photograph Ron Blair, the guitars, and Jessica Baron, it was with a knowing grin, and happy memories of my friend, Jill. I kept thinking how much she would enjoy the full circle nature of this moment... new friends, new circumstances, common threads, and a cause that supports bringing music to young people.

I can be kind of shy and reclusive, and I have a tendency to feel defeated, discouraged... maybe this is not obvious, coming from a person who journals for the whole wide world, but nonetheless. The thing is, Jill was always good at bringing me out of my shell. Thank you for that too, Jill.

Inspired by Jill and her steadfast devotion to her convictions, I am suppressing my inclination to retreat, to back down from talking again about Guitars In The Classroom, and pointing out that a really marvelous event is happening that can raise money to keep music programs in our schools.

The auction is open now! You can bid on some really cool things, and opportunities. There are bargains, and there are unique and special items that are truly one of a kind.

My photographs are published. *blush* And, I am owning the truth that I feel pretty darn giddy about photography and being published, and yeah... so, you know... just a little showing off.

There are so many creative, talented, and generous people out there! They are sharing for the auction, they are bidding at the auction. They are in music studios, and art studios. They are at kitchen tables, and out in our communities. They are fans of music and art, of science and education. And it's because they give time, or make time, and show their interest that we can hope to keep education meaningful and alive.

We need people who are true fans, who won't back down. We need tireless people, like Jessica Baron. We need superstars, like Ron Blair, and Tom Petty. We need volunteers, and teachers, and people like you and me... to take action, get involved, make a stand, lend a hand, "Like" on FB... be a true and lasting fan, for the sake of children everywhere. I hope, in even a small way, I can influence support for Guitars In The Classroom. I hope I can continue to be as true a friend to the things I love, not retreating or giving into doubt, just as my friend Jill has been teaching me.

Friday, November 18, 2011

{this moment}... for Guitars In The Classroom

A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. :: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

My friend Jessica runs an important and special nonprofit organization called
Guitars In The Classroom, and starting today you can help support the efforts of this organization to bring music into schools. Support musical education by bidding at this online charity auction to benefit Guitars In The Classroom. There is a really impressive and tempting selection of items to bid on, including jewelry, musical instruments, and travel opportunities... whitewater rafting in Maine, anyone? Okay. Seriously... the starting bids are low, the cause is fantastic, and all kinds of nice gifts are waiting to go to good homes.

Please visit Guitars In The Classroom, and see the wonderful things they are accomplishing. Like they say, "Together we can make a difference. Reach a teacher... inspire a generation." With Guitars In The Classroom offering their free program in 30 states and reaching over a half million students each year, I would say they are inspiring generations! The website is loaded with useful links for aspiring and inspired musicians alike.

I had the honor of photographing a friend, with two specially autographed guitars for the auction. Any Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers fans out there? How about Switchfoot? My moment this week was the pleasure of connecting dots, and friends, and seeing the great things that can happen when inspiring and creative people extend themselves for a good cause! It's music to my soul.

It will be fun to add updates to this wonderful event.

Visit Jack Johnson's web page, where you can read about the beautiful ukulele he donated and signed for Guitars In The Classroom. Take a look! You are bound to find something wonderful as a gift for someone you love, including yourself.

Jess, say the word, and I will travel to Hawaii to photograph Jack Johnson... anytime!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lady Betty Orpington Foundation... ahem

"Lady Betty Orpington Foundation..." sounds so auspicious, so legit. It conjures, for me, a benevolent dowager. A kindly woman who goes to tea, and keeps her hands busy with needle work, while overseeing her philanthropic empire. Naturally, she gardens, bakes occasionally, and likes to attend a concert now and then.

Lady Betty Orpington, the chicken, is my feathered dream come true. Our very first chickens were with us when we lived on an acre or two, and when we moved, then moved again, I missed my chickens. I missed those two-legged-freaky-feathered creatures, and I missed the liberty of being home and being free to do the things I wanted to do, like garden and build, and play (without answering to a landlord). I went for several years trying to contain my obsession for chickens, but all the while feeling deprived of my liberty and desire to fulfill my dreams.

So. I rebelled.
"Where chickens are outlawed, outlaws will have chickens."

Without a coop, without the landlord's permission, in a very city lot kind of home, with a teeny yard... I brought home chicks, including a yellow downy peep I named Lady Betty Orpington.

Betty represents my freedom of will. She reminds me to take matters into my own hands, to invent, and if necessary reinvent. I made our Ikea picnic table into a coop. Bringing Betty into my life was a joyful liberation of my happiness, even with the difficulties and challenges. She made me feel like I could make things happen... like she was my muse.

She is. She is my muse and my amusement. And I find I can express my dreams and ideals through her. I can make believe that I am a farmer, a philanthropist, a patron of the arts, a cowgirl artist. And the more I live my life as though I am who and what I dream, the closer I come to really fulfilling those dreams. Lady Betty Orpington somehow puts me in touch with that space where imagination and reality meet. I may have a sink full of dirty dishes and a car that still needs a new transmission. Maybe I never actually graduated from college, or overcame my fear of higher math... but Betty can do it all, and she reminds me to keep moving forward, even putting the cart before the horse.

The Lady Betty Orpington Foundation is as real as I can imagine. It is a foundation to build dreams on, to affirm my own beliefs and hopes, and to inspire others to do the same. The Lady Betty Orpington Foundation is a name for my aspirations and beliefs, for the direction I hope to move, for the causes I believe in, for the people I want to encourage and support. Don't look for a trust fund, or a dowager with a beehive hairdo. Look for a golden hen, who makes messes and smiles, who is one dream come true, inspiring more dreams to come true.

She has a FB page.

"Welcome engineers, artists, poets, cooks, and farmers, scientists, inventors, musicians, and robots...

Born yellow and downy, Lady Betty Orpington is a golden, radiant being. Troubled in her youth by the unkind reproaches of her peers, Lady Betty Orpington overcame hardships and persecution, by looking for safe havens where she was free to express her creative tendencies. Inspired by her mentors, and by the dedication and brilliance of many individuals in her community and the world at large, Lady Betty Orpington aspires to celebrate and promote education, science, technology, math, and art. Lady Betty Orpington believes all people, young and experienced, deserve to be safe, respected, and provided with the tools and support they need to learn, to explore, to be their brightest selves.

Lady Betty Orpington and The Lady Betty Orpington Foundation support and encourage creativity, math, science, engineering, art, play, equality, justice, poetry, music, dance, theater, popcorn, gardening.

Personal Interests
Maker Faire, Make Club, Robotics, Team San Diego, SDA Robotics, FIRST 2102 Team Paradox, TED, Chickenblog, FIRST, FTC, FLL, 812 Midnight Mechanics, art, science, math, engineering, poetry, music, Gever Tulley, Tinkering School, Love and Rockets Young Makers Club, Kree Woods, Guitars in the Classroom..."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Easy Peasy Bleach Squeezey

A bleach pen... found ours at Tar-jay
Wax paper
A dark shirt

Sunday was sunny, and my children voluntarily cleaned the living room and the kitchen, and I fainted. Then I came to, and thanked them. Their industry was inspiring, and it got me in the laundry room sorting out worn and outgrown clothing... am I meandering to my point? Yes. Yes, I think I am. Sorry. It might be this frackin' cold I picked up. It's making me all meandery and snuffy, and last night I felt absolutely super meh.


Oh, yeah. I found a clean sweatshirt that Max has out grown, and is probably much too big for Maria. I was about to add it to the donate pile when I remembered the artsy-craftsy project I'd been wanting to try for about a year. I even had the supplies on hand, and cleared space to jump in and go for it.

The wax paper is to put between the layers of the sweatshirt. The idea being to protect the back of the shirt in case the bleach seeps through. Protecting surfaces from wayward bleach is an important aspect of this project. One tutorial I read even suggested wearing gloves. I did not wear gloves, but I did put on an apron. Also, I did this outside and on a bleach safe surface.

The bleach pen has two tips, and I used the fine point. I wish it were finer. Remember to shake the pen, and be aware: there will be bubbles and clumps, and every drop will leave its mark. This may not be the ideal project for a perfectionist, or anyone, young or mature, who freaks out about "mistakes."

And now some thoughts about Control. I am not a control freak. (Yes, I am.) I am not selfish, and I do not horde my crafty supplies all for myself, to use on a magical artsy-craftsy day, when all of my sweet skills and marvelous visions will come to life. (I am, and I do.) Okay, so honestly, it's not the easiest thing in the world to be approached by a perky six year old who wants to intercept my artsy-craftsy plans and make them her own, but some six year olds are hard to deny, so I relinquished the chalk and let her draw her pictures, on what is now her custom and personalized sweatshirt.

She drew, and then I traced. The clumps get a bit frustrating, and I think big and simple images is definitely the way to go. I have seen some very sophisticated results, which could be fun to try. I am also thinking that a certain robotics team may want to employ this technique to label and personalize their team jackets... FIRST 2102 Team Paradox... names across the shoulders, gears, details? Could be fun!

Maria's pictures have lightened to a pale-pale pink. Next up we wash it separately and then Ta-Da! Her easy peasy bleach squeezy jacket will be ready to wear!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Country Day

It's a home coming. A very brief camp out, under the oaks. We don't have to go far to get away. And being there never fails to make me feel like I am home.

I am making a point of ignoring the muddy-wet tent waiting to be cleaned and put away, and never mind that I left a messy house, so I could make a camping mess to bring home. Right. So. That is the last mention of all that.

Max's cold did not get any worse. In fact, I propose that the fresh air and restful day gave him the upper hand. It was a good choice not sleeping in the tent, which was like a nylon lake the next morning. Happily we slept all together, snug and blissful inside our Green Goose.

Acorns. If there was a single force motivating and inspiring this little getaway, it was acorns. Maria said she didn't know what an acorn was! I could have brought out a book, or turned to Google, but no. No, I wanted to bring her to the acorns, to put one in her hand. So, even with a sick child, a slow leaking tire, and about forty-two pressing demands that really needed our attention, I packed us up and away we went!

She knows about acorns now. I feel good.

She collected acorns, and acorn caps. She counted acorns... one hundred and six. She sorted them, and carried them. She plied some apart, inspecting their insides, contemplating their structure.

Holly and Ruth drove up for the day, to join our sojourn. Cousins, Nick and Izzy came, and two of Nick's buddies. We trekked down to the pond, across to the picnic grove, back to the dam, under the owl boxes, over to the ranger station. All over.

We followed the ducks and the coots. We looked for feathers and other natural collectibles for Izzy's science project. Mateo found an owl pellet. How cool is that?

Also cool... table leaping, and looking into oak hollows, and holding jarred specimens in the ranger's collection, and eating a good lunch after lots and lots of exploring.

Alex and Tutu-Ruth

Izzy and Maria

I think Izzy found good things for her nature collection.

Izzy, next time, let's remember to ask about holding the rosy boa. The ranger brings him out for children to pet.

He is a very pretty snake, with lovely brown and periwinkle colors.
He'd just finished eating his lunch too... a mouse.

Maria asked about the snake and the ranger asked her if she would like to hold him. Maria was very excited about this prospect.

She sat down and listened to the ranger's instructions. And then Maria held the rosy boa. "It was so smoooooth."

He was also curious.

So. Yeah. No matter the domestic perils, the brutal realities and obstacles... escaping the routine, even if for twenty-fours, is worthwhile. Holding a snake is a dream come true. Hopping table tops, and searching for owl feathers is fun. And seeing, touching and collecting acorns out in the country is good.