Thursday, May 31, 2012

Don Quixotic Ambitions

As promised last week, I have spent the passing days weeding out rooms throughout my house.  I vacillate between zealotry and apathy.  I assure myself that with ample intent and velocity I can thoroughly eradicate all clutter and unnecessary flimflam, then I cave to the mounting sense of hopelessness.

The process of decluttering my son’s room  left us with an 8” square of clear space on the carpet in which to work.  Two hours, 137 t-shirts, and a dozen pair of pants later, we still had one square foot of neutral land.  The rest was consumed in disarray comparable only to a war-ravaged shopping mall.  Hangers, the cheap flat plastic kind that come with your Wal-mart purchases lay scattered and snapped like so many broken skeletons.  An entire arsenal of wooden swords, cap pistols, light sabers, and even one disintegration ray gun threatened all hope of future peace.  A silver ooze of silly putty had begun to seep out from between two bed pillows.  But the truly horrific revelation was that the clutter abounds because it self-propagates.

Just when I thought I had yanked all the t-shirts from the closet a dozen more appeared from under the desk, behind the bed, and from within backpacks.  For each professional ball team I rescued from the impending dust storm and thrust into my son’s hands with a firm remonstrance to file them in their boxes (“What WOULD your father say?), another team appeared in a sloppy stack elsewhere.  And the LEGOS!  Tiny little hats, miniscule hands, and microbial transparent doo-dads that probably support life in another galaxy.  If you watch carefully through nearly closed eyes, you will see tiny Lego legs hurrying across the war-torn field of tan construction-grade carpet to squirrel away tiny Lego particles.


But now, I sit outside listening to the wind chimes, trying to ignore the unseasonable chill in the evening air, and I can only smile at the Don Quixotic nature of my quest.  The wild that was my son’s room remains untamed and there is a windmill at the top of the hill beckoning me.  The windmill is hurling paint, rubber stamps,  and a forest of paper across the landscape, and only I can save the countryside!  And tomorrow, I might.

One of my goals this week was to paricipate in the TOFF (The Octopode Factory) challenge.  This is my entry.  The theme is Friendship and I thought "how cute would it be to use the punk giraffe as something other than a punk giraffe!"  Isn't he cute.  His friends are lifting him up, fulfilling his dreams, or however you would like to interpret it.  The background sparkles, thanks to Tattered Angels glimmer spray in Marshmallow, but you can't tell in the photo. 

I also worked on a set of greeting cards to give to my Grandma.  She turned 85 this week.  This card was one of my favorites. (Sorry for the less than lovely photos.  But you know my efforts have been elsewhere, alas.)  And check out those oh-so cute envies to go with the cards.  I am still messing with windows on my cards- when I am not working on one of my Christy Tomlinson workshops, that is.  This coming week promises to be a productive one, so be sure to stop by next week.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Exercise Your Inner Demon

In the spirit of summer break I have no words of wisdom or deep thoughts to ponder today.  Rather than seeking truth, or beauty, or some nobler good, this week I am only seeking potent diversion tactics.  Swimsuit season arrived in a flash and last year's suits mock me.  So, I need something to keep me out of the cookies I baked for recital, and out of the drive-up ice-cream shake havens, and the drive-thru lunches my son clamors for each and every day.  At the moment, I am giving the power of suggestion a try.  The tea box suggested my steaming hot beverage would taste like chocolate and hazelnuts.  It's a stretch (like the waistline of my swimsuit!).  But with a little imagination, anything is possible.

The first of my diversion tactics resembles Spring Cleaning.  I have adopted a semi-methodical approach and drafted my children into indentured servitude.  We have actually written one room on every day of the calendar for the next 10 business days.  My two children have made a list of "rewards" that they can choose from at the completion of each room.  This capitalistic bribery works very well on my 8 year old son who wants nothing more than a lot of quality time with a game controller.  My (soon-to-be) eleven year old daughter is another matter.  Seems you just can't buy happiness some days!

Diversion tactic number two has been gardening.  Let's face it, those weeds won't pull themselves.

The final diversion tactic I have adopted is art.  I just signed up for another online workshop, a six week course with Christy Tomlinson entitled "Your Living Canvas".  I am excited to get started and I hope I will have something to share with you next week.

In the meantime, I would like to leave you with this week's Mantra:  Exercise Your Inner Demon.

I would love to hear about it. So drop me a line to tell me how you exercise your inner demons (or exOrcise them- it all depends on pernicious they are).

Stamp credits:  Inkadinkado and JudiKins, Studio G., and Technique Tuesday.  ATC created by Renee Griffin.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Summer Song

Image, Stampotque: background, Dylusions: bird cage, Crafter's Workshop.  ATC by Renee Griffin

My favorite time of year has arrived.  The countdown to summer is kept in hours now.  As much as I have moaned about the early dismissal for summer holiday, I am as excited as the kids.  No need to pack lunches, make sure uniforms are clean- or kids for that matter.  Just see that they are safe and fed occasionally.

It's not cold anymore and the oppressive blanket of heat has not yet settled over town.  The flowers still offer promises of beauty that will shrivel quickly once the thermometer begins to rise.  But for now, I can sit on my deck, ponder the greenness of the grass and the abundance of those tiny white bugs that dance in the air like dust in a sun shaft.  The birds and the crickets sing the matinee while the frogs close the show each day.  And the promise of slower days dangles just out of reach.

It's not just summer that has had me skipping this week though.  I made a new friend in Canada.  We exchanged ATCs with one another, and now my strange little TEDfellow resides in Canada.  And one of my favorite online artists, host of the Katherine Wheel, has requested an exchange as well.  So a big hello to Valerie and Kate- you have brought extra rays of sunshine with you this week.  And the fun doesn't stop there.  My new Ranger heat tool arrived this week- which means I can paint and stamp into the wee hours and have no fear of flipping on the switch to dry something in a hurry. I also got some fun new images which I am sure you will see soon.  And I made strides in stocking up to reload my empty nest on Etsy.  And the cherry on top was watching my second grade son play piano for the school during the talent show.  It takes lots of guts, and I am proud of him!

Enjoy your shorts, flip-flops, patio and a cold drink... and while you are at it, drop me a line in the comment box.  'Til Thursday- chillax -  R

Thursday, May 10, 2012

When Mommy Bakes the Cookies

 It’s been a typical week.  That means that the time flew by and I cannot account for much of it.  That’s because so much of it is the menial workings of managing a household.  Who really keeps track of how many times they make the rounds to turn off the lights, pick up the shoes, put a dish in the dishwasher, potty the dogs, vacuum the pea gravel (which NEVER seems to actually go UP the vacuum)?  And so when someone like my 84 year old grandmother, or my husband for that matter, ask what I have done, I am at a loss as how to respond.

While running on my hamster wheel this week I recalled one of my children’s favorite early childhood books, When You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  And it occurred to me that this book is NOT about a mouse at all (or a moose, or a pig, or a kitten – to follow the series). 
Allow me to illustrate, actually, I will narrate.  Please illustrate it in your head. :)

When they ask me to make cookies, I agree.  If I am going to make cookies, I will need a cookie sheet.

When I take the cookie sheet from the oven where I store it, I see it is still dirty from the weekend.  When I find a dirty cookie sheet, I must wash it.

If I am going to wash dishes, I will need a clean dishcloth.  All the clean dishcloths are next to the laundry room.  But when I see the mountain of fabric, I will feel compelled to start a load of laundry.

While pouring soap into the machine I notice a stack of papers on the counter; and in that stack of papers is a calendar of events.

When I see the list of events, I know I need to put them on my calendar.  When I boot up my computer I remember to check my email.  

Reading my email will result in new dates to put on the computer, and so I do.   After putting the dates in my computer I throw the calendar away.

When I am throwing away the calendar I see the dirty cookie sheet sitting next to the sink.  And when I see a dirty cookie sheet, I am going to want to wash it.  And if I am going to wash it, I will need a clean dishcloth…

And so a full week has rolled around without any progress of any kind.  The house is a mess, the books I started to read remain unfinished, I have tried pushing no new boundaries in my art area or in the kitchen, so on and so forth.  And I know that I AM NOT ALONE.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you Hamster-Wheel –Running-Crazies like myself.  And, a HUGE thank you to all you hardworking teachers donning the battle gear each day. 

Here are two examples of thank you cards I have been making lately.  I have been playing with windows on my card fronts.

Interested in purchasing hand-crafted greeting cards?  Contact me.

The stamp credits: owl, Sassafrass; rabbit, Octopode Factory;
Cog dies, Spellbinders; Cog embossing folder, Cuttlebug

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Strange Tedfellows

“I wish you all could be inside my head.  The conversation is sparkling.”
                                                                           -Sheldon, The Big Bang Theory

And speaking of strange fellows, meet Herman.  He is the handsome fiend the the right.  I am submitting him to the Stampotique ATC swap.  It is my first ATC- because I don't know what to do with them upon completion. 

And speaking of completion.  Did you discover my bonus Monday blog post?  If not, look for it in the archives.

I have fabulous conversations with myself, but only in my head.  I find that sound uses too many brain cells to sustain engaging or intelligent thought.  Each week I compose multiple blog entries in my head- all worthy of my consideration, as well as that of my three loyal readers (you know who you are).  But when I sit down to write, all I can find in my head is the ramblings of a mom on the brink of dementia.

Amid the fragments of thought that drift into the darker recesses of my head, there are usually a couple glimmers of sparkling potential.  Like carbon clusters, they need a substantial amount of cutting and polishing before being considered gem-worthy.  Such humble beginnings.  My musings today have been incubating in the dark (kinda like my friend up above) since Christine left, neglected and ignored.  Today they sought light.

As you recall, last month brought me a visit from my dear friend Christine Lee.  Christine has a Phd. in Bio-Archeology and the distinction of being named a TED Fellow.  During her visit we watched a few TED Fellow talks via the internet and she left me with a list of others to pursue on my own. (I think she saw the dementia.  Perhaps she believes some intellectual stimulation will stave it off.)
I pursued many things in the weeks that followed, not one of which answered to the title “TED Fellow”.  Yet the Fellows pursued me.  One found me in the loo!  There he was at the back of an issue of Week magazine.  Another found me this morning at the breakfast table while reading Joe’s blog.  I could no longer ignore these insistent speakers.

I spent about an hour yesterday morning listening to BrenĂ© Brown.  I listened to her expound on the virtues of vulnerability and shame.  I will not detract from the experience of hearing her speak by trying to summarize her here.  But, like the strange Tedfellows stalking me as of late, I insist that you set aside twenty minutes this week to hear BrenĂ© speak.  No, make that twenty five minutes.  After listening to her, follow up with a comment on my blog.  Let me know your reaction.  And then tape a note to your refrigerator, or better yet, your dashboard, that reads “I am enough.”  ---  You won’t get it if you don’t check her out.

Click on the link below to hear her.  If you like what you hear, you can find other talks by her and others at the TED site.  Happy listening!