Thursday, December 06, 2018


This view, even in a photograph, soothes me. I can overthink it and see the unfinished projects, the weeds, the odds and ends. But never mind all that. This is about first impressions, and a higher appreciation for beauty, plenty, opportunity, home. I just need to relax.

Every party needs a theme, even if the theme is "no theme." This party, Maria's 14th birthday celebration, revolved around Studio Ghibli and Porco Rosso, and good friends, and it was a lot of fun. For us, the fun began with taking a Japanese animation about seaplane pilots set in the Adriatic Sea and Turin, Italy, and planning a party around all of that. We settled on spaghetti dinner, and pizza flavored Poky Pretz for snacks, and we were super excited to find balsa plane kits. No cake... just lots of tiny dessert, like cannoli and Italian cookies, and Maria's Tutu brought strawberry mochi, which was a brilliant addition.

A favorite part of the movie takes place in Turin, where Porco Rosso turns to his mechanic, Piccolo, for help. There we meet Fio... she designs and engineers his new seaplane. The workshop scenes, and appetizing pasta scene are great. Of course, we didn't build our own workshop for the sake of a party theme, but it's always amusing to recognize how our interests intersect.

New school, new friends, and longtime friends, too.
Norman, Amira, and Ben, Max, Amber, Makayla, Skylar and Leo!
Keene, Lucas, Rory, Maria, Alec, and Natalie~

Walls! The art studio has walls. Paul, Janece, and Amira were over, and it turned into a nice day of making, and hanging out.

My very own elf on a shelf, or is it my gnome at home? I thought I was being thoughtful and supportive buying gifts from local makers, artists, keeping a hand-made pledge, but in her usual fashion, Calamity Kim went all out and my order arrived brimming full of fun.

Carol and Leo collected beach treasure on a visit to Arcata, California, and just look what she made! I try not to be too grabby, but I can't keep my hands off of Maria's birthday gift!

It's been about as seasonally cool and even rainy, as we can hope for, and I love it.

The weather and holidays have redoubled my mood and efforts to make things, and I've been experimenting with chalk paint, and wax, and designing new display shelves. Oh! And I also found the nerve to add a small art piece to a Zazzle account. My Santa Lucia in Helsinki painting is available as a postcard.

Relax. Relax. And breath. Relax, and breath, and keep moving forward.

Blogging is largely a matter of talking to myself. And today, I am talking about my attitude. I am anxious, stressed, insecure, doubtful, and nearly trounced.

In my head, I just heard my friend add: "And talented. You forgot 'talented'"

I hope everyone has a friend like mine, one that steps in and adds levity, grace, kindness, a view of the bigger picture. I want to be that kind of friend... thoughtful, and kind. And not just with others, but with myself, too, so that when I do feel nearly trounced and anxious, I can draw a long, slow breath, and say, "Relax."

Maria is trying to manage being sick and being in high school, which largely entails, I am sorry to say, "Sucking it up." She had a rocky morning, and I watched her knock around the house, like a battered pinball, trying to dress, eat, find a backpack, finish homework, brush tangled, wet hair, and figure out how to turn in homework that is less than her usual high-caliber work. Of course, she is still sick, too. And I felt really bad for her, and I also bit my tongue, refraining from saying something truly awful, like "Relax. Your attitude will go a long way to making this easier..." Oh, my God. It might be true, it might be sincere, and wise, but it would have been a terrible thing to say. Sometimes, truth and wisdom, especially coming from someone not in the crisis, are not what I need, when I am feeling overwhelmed.

Tonight, I will intervene a bit more, and help her pace herself, prioritizing, and reconnecting with effective solutions. And I will take long, slow breaths, be relaxed, and do what I can to demonstrate a calm, supportive attitude. I am hoping that my example and assistance will be more helpful than a speech about "what to do, how to act."

And I am going to add: I needn't use Maria as an example of being frazzled, knocking around like a battered pinball, when I was even worse, just yesterday. Really, this entire post could be a note to self: Relax. Your attitude could go a long way to making this easier. I was invited to a holiday party for 'art leaders in San Diego,' and I spent way too much time worried about stuff... what to wear, what to say, how to introduce myself, where is our stamp so I can make business cards?? I suffered for hours trying to make business cards, which entailed my inexperience crossing streams with inadequate software and materials. Round hole, square peg, and still I persisted, which was a senseless exercise in futility. My sense of anxiety and stress were real, my concerns were genuine, but none of it mattered... at least, none of it could be helped, and none of it was helping. We went to the party, and it was sweet, and pretty, and we met people, and saw downtown in rainy-holiday-lit-up splendor, and in the end, I was sorry I spent the day in a state. No one asked for a business card.

Problems and challenges are not going away, but I so very much want to remember that it's mostly ok. I need frequent, gentle, reminding.

Less overthinking, less panic, and doubt. True, I have a lot to do, and I'll stumble, again and again. But this will easier if I loosen my grip, and hold space for grace.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Keeping Hope & Shining Light

November has been a pretty month, a month of breathtaking views, and happy events. I will miss the November skies, sunsets, and sunrises, clouds, and colors. It's not easy to reflect on all of the beauty and Thanks, and not think on the horrors, too. I am not blithely unaware of headlines and happenings... shootings, fires, losses, injustice, corruption, lies, and atrocities. None of us can be unaware. I am buoyed by the mindfulness and actions, compassion, diligence and resilience of many good and intelligent people. I acknowledge my privilege, blessings, opportunities, and the peace and comfort I can wrap around me... I do not need everything I have or deserve any of it anymore than anyone does, and I am struggling to enjoy my life, while being a conscious and solicitous being. Even having the space and time to reflect on the concepts of self-care and personal space is an immunity from real hardship.


Chickenblog, and my Instagram are happy places... I cannot deny that I have a beautiful life, that I focus my attention and what I share on the best aspects of my life. If keeping it real means anything, if you find any of this a little too shiny, rest assured... we have heartache, challenges, setbacks, and worries, we have been battling very real upsets and anguish. Like the subjects I paint, I think I need my social media to be as far removed from the whole picture as possible. Too much news, too much time immersed in every crisis, flattens me. If I am not careful, I get pulled too low, become ineffectual, despondent. Do I feel apologetic for this quality, for the way my empathy can deplete me utterly? Yes... which is equally discouraging, and essentially pointless to linger on. Nonetheless... I am sorry. I am sorry for the suffering in the world, the injustice, the hateful words and cruel deeds, I am sorry for the loneliness, and struggles. And to survive, to carry on, and in hopes of being a source of comfort and encouragement... I will keep looking at the sky, planting the garden, sharing recipes, packing lunches, washing socks, listening, holding space, keeping hope, shining light.

This is where I nursed my cold and discovered the bliss of online shopping with local shopkeepers, artists, and makers.

And when I wasn't feeling too crummy, I kept busy building and making my own gift giving creations... woodworking, painting, and crocheting.

What I would love to do is develop a style and means of sharing our handmade gifts as prettily and thoughtfully as our friends do with their gifts. I need to be careful, though; I have a bad habit of procrastinating when I cannot do something as nicely or well as I have envisioned, then things get muddled, delayed, lost, or stressful, which is not pretty, at all.

Here was a happy chance... taking Max out for a midweek lunch, and running into Lucas and Charles. Lucas helped me find a brilliant birthday gift for Maria.

Here she is... our birthday girl. She wanted to remain 13 for as long as possible, so even though we were dropping her off to school on the day of her birth, she saved the official turning for the hour of her birth. And this is where I might write scads of praise and an anecdote or 2 about her qualities. But I've already whispered all of it into her ear, and around her head. She is a joy, thoroughly, consistently, and we love her.

Here is my Swiffer.

He is a joy, and a scamp, and puppy-cat, and we love him, too.

Tonight... a party to celebrate the birthday girl, and be with friends, sharing our happiness.

And ahead... our wishes for light, hope, and comfort, for all.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Every Bit As Much As We Can

By the time my favorite time of year comes around, I already feel like time is running out, and I want to appreciate every bit of fall, and traditions, the changing weather, the anticipation of holidays, the hope of seeing family. Not everything can turn out as we might hope, and not all of our activities are carefree and light... but we have been enjoying as much of every bit of the goodness of the season as we can. Falling asleep beside me, late Thanksgiving night, Maria murmured contentedly, "We really did have a nice Thanksgiving, didn't we?"

If you still hang around FB, and want something beautiful to lift your spirits, may I suggest... Fred Cohen Photography? Most of the year he is sharing New York sights, which increasingly inspire me to get there, someday. And then... then there are the trips Fred and Anna B make, around the world, and sometimes to our own backyards, and those are really rousing! I am always eagerly anticipating their next adventure, and the photographs that follow. I am submitting a proposal to join them, as a baggage handler, novice guide. Fred kindly lets me use his photographs to practice my painting lessons, which I appreciate.

"No pictures!" That was the command of Mia, the birthday girl, that invited Maria bowling... and I think I made a decent compromise, only taking blurry-artsy images. It was too hard to resist taking pictures of the fun, the friends, the lights and action. And I'm posting these, however questionable the quality, because they are a prompt to remind me of our daughter, almost 14, her new friends, and happy moments of high school.

Hey! Our make club, #BOoMNerds, received a very cool kit from our friends at Echanted Leaves... it's for electroforming, which I explain in our first ever unboxing video!

Whoa... that was a lot of links.

But. Do, please, check-out our video, which shows all the neat stuff we are going to use to learn how to make more neat stuff!

Or... you can just go directly to Nedda's marvelous shop, Enchanted Leaves, and dive into the sales happening now, for the beautiful jewelry she makes. Support handmade!

Final projects. I keep adding just one more painting to my final projects portfolio. I can't believe this class is almost over. Sad face.

This is me, trying ingratiate myself into Chibi's heart... I was pet sitting, but I think this may be proof that I traumatized my friends' doggo. I'm sorry, Chibi.

Maria, Bambi, Alex, Max, and William... and with this picture, my Thanksgiving joy was complete.

Just... one. more. final. project.

Every bit, as much as we can, we are loving this wonderful time of the year.