May 15, 2015
As you can see, I’ve taken out the paper mache again, so that I can make a Thing. It’s a secret project. I might post pictures of the finished thing, or I might not, because there are some extenuating circumstances. How’s that for mysterious? Anyway, this bit is what I did Wednesday. I worked on Phase 2 last night, and left a wet sopping mess to dry overnight. (I love living in an arid part of the country, where paper mache actually dries overnight. I was reading one set of instructions that suggested putting your paper mache in the oven to dry, and that just sounded like a disaster waiting to happen. Or maybe that’s just my oven.)
When I got up this morning and took a look at it? Ooooooooh, it’s lookin’ really good! I’m really excited! Next step: paint.
May 6, 2015
1. Decide to do a Thing.
2. Study other examples of that Thing.
3. Read up on how other people have done that Thing.
4. Practice doing that Thing.
5. Get feedback from experienced Thing doers.
6. Do that Thing some more.
7. Put that Thing out there.
8. Repeat forever.
July 30, 2014
Turns out I’m not the only one going through a belongings purge and cleaning out the boxes from the basement and so forth. My parents are cleaning out, too, which means the last few times they’ve been to my house, they’ve brought. . . boxes. Of. . .stuff. They say, “This is yours now,” and leave me to deal with it. It’s hardly fair, as this has given me even more to clean out than I planned on. My strategy is to not even let these boxes get to the basement. Go through them immediately, throw stuff out, send them to the thrift store. I’ve done pretty well so far. Most of it has been toys I didn’t even remember we had, leading to the oft repeated phrase, “Why did we even keep this?” Answer: They got put in a box twenty years ago and no one looked at them until now. And I can’t just throw away the boxes, because I’ve also discovered true treasures, like old Muppets toys, that I will not get rid of.
Then one of the boxes turned out to be filled with art projects. My art projects, from when I was a wee small one. Seems I took a pottery class when I was probably in second or third grade. I made a lot of. . .stuff in that class.
What do you do with this kind of thing? I actually remember making most of it. I just hadn’t thought about it in thirty years. And Mom saved it all.
I think the assignment on this one was making 3-D maps of an imaginary place. We built up a mold of rocks and newspaper and things to make contours. I actually kind of like it, but it’s huge, like the size of a small watermelon.
This was supposed to be a self portrait. We will speak no more of it.
Another bust, done a few years later for a different class. I kind of like this one. I’ll probably end up putting it in one of the herb planter boxes for decoration, and to scare off bugs.
Seriously, guys, there was a whole box of this stuff. Art, you know? Not good art, but still. It felt really weird when I took a hammer to most of it. That’s right, except for a couple of little pieces I saved, I smashed the whole box into little pieces, which then went into the bottom of flower pots and planters during my last round of gardening. So, recycling, which felt pretty good. Still, it was weird destroying art.
But I think it’ll all be happier providing drainage for flowerpots.
July 7, 2014
My brother and his family came to visit this weekend, as we all gathered to celebrate my grandparents’ 65th wedding anniversary (!!!). I got to do something pretty darned special: I took my niece riding. This was one of the things on my auntie bucket list — I’m the horse person in the family, and every little girl needs to ride a pony at least once, so I really wanted to make this happen. We were a bit worried that Emmy wouldn’t be into it — horses are big animals, and if she’d decided she didn’t want anything to do with them, well, that would have been fine.
But see, right now I have access to Thumbelina, who is 13.1 hh — very kid sized. Perfect opportunity. Emmy did great:
(Thumbelina did great, too.) Emmy even helped brush Thumbles’ tail. She didn’t want to get off. Her parents may be doomed, and my work here is done.
When we got home, I remembered that one of my Breyer horses is a little bay Shetland pony that looks very much like Thumbelina, so I gave it to Emmy. Niece’s first Breyer! She’s only two and a half, and doesn’t quite get that not all toys should be thrown around. I had to close my eyes a couple of times, lest I see one of my beloved ponies take damage. But hey, she has her first horse, and that’s important, at least to me.
We all spent the weekend in the mountains, and had some pretty cool wildlife encounters. Here’s the moose who visited us at the cabin where we stayed:
Isn’t he lovely?
February 24, 2014
It’s a wonder I ever became an English major, what with the terrible time I had in AP English in high school. But I think part of the reason I had a terrible time was I loved the literature. This is the class where I discovered Sylvia Plath and Tom Stoppard. But the teacher… I argued with her. A lot.
So, in comments on the previous post I already told the story about this awful textbook we had that divided stories into “real” literature and popular literature, or “crap,” pretty much just like that (the book earned my eternal ire by placing Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game,” one of my favorite short stories at the time, in the “crap” category). So one day as part of a group presentation I did a fake commercial with a blender where I announced “This is your brain on popular literature,” blended an apple, and said, “Any questions?” The entire class cheered. The teacher did not. (I wonder, if I tried to bring a blender to high school now, would I be suspended because of zero tolerance policies?)
This was also the class where I pointed out that you can sing every Emily Dickinson song to the tune of “Yellow Rose of Texas.” (There are sing alongs on YouTube. Proceed at your own risk.) Now, first off, you can’t sing every poem to that tune, and second, that just means it’s a popular meter and there was no reason for Dickinson not to use a popular meter. In my defense, I would not have pointed this out to the class if I didn’t think everybody didn’t already know it. Turns out, nobody else knew it, and I was subsequently blamed for ruining Dickinson for everyone. (My response: “If that’s all it takes to ruin Dickinson for you, you don’t deserve her!”)
It would have ended there, except test day came along. The test, the big AP test that had kids puking in the bushes beforehand. As part of the AP English test, we were given a poem cold, that day, that we had to do a close reading on and write an essay about in the space of forty minutes or so. We cracked open our test books: Yes, it was an Emily Dickinson poem. And there were two dozen high school kids humming that song under their breaths. If looks could kill, I’d have been a steaming pile of goo that day.
I, however, thought it was the funniest damn thing that had happened all year. I could not stop laughing. And I got a 5 out of 5 on the test.
February 14, 2014
I’m a big fan of setting goals. I’ve written about it, given talks about it. Since I was a teenager, I’ve used a goal-setting technique based on a timeline: where do I want to be in ten years? What do I want to have accomplished in five years? By the end of the year? I’d review my goals every year, adjust as needed. This was a good way to make sure I was doing the little stepping stones that were necessary to achieve my long-term goals.
This method has fallen apart for me over the last few years. Mainly because I did it all. Just about everything on that long-term goal list? Making a living as a writer, my house, etc.? Done. My “where do I want to be in ten years?” list had turned in to “Same as now, only more so,” which is too vague to be useful. “Just keep doing the same things I’ve been doing” might be accurate but it feels…stagnant.
This year, I hit on a new way to handle my goal list and goal setting. Instead of setting everything up against a timetable — which simply isn’t as useful at age 41 as it was when I was 20 — I’ve set up a rolling list of projects: things I want to write, things I want to try, places I want to travel, and so on. Because that’s where I’m at now: I have this whole big list of things I want to do, but they’re not dependent on time or place, they’re just things I have to decide to do either now or later. And I don’t have to do them all at once. Every month or so, look at the list: what am I going to do next? What projects are ongoing, and which are do them and they’re done? What makes sense for me to work on now?
I think this is going to be a good way to make me feel like I’m still making progress without imposing the stress of an artificial timeline. I’m excited. Let’s see how this goes.
February 10, 2014
I got to take a vacation to someplace warm last week — including two days of diving. Woooo! So hard to come back to the freezing cold.
My second dive in Cozumel was great because it was very relaxed and chock full of fish, including a bunch of species I’d never seen before. A giant snapper of some kind, maybe 20″ long, followed our group for the entire hour-long dive. He either needed a school to hang with for awhile, or maybe he thought we knew where the food was. For whatever reason he was there, having his company was awfully cool. He was a chill dude and he made the dive more chill by being there.
I also saw a lobster, perched on a lump of coral. At least, I thought it was a lobster, but it was the strangest looking lobster I’ve ever seen. For one thing, it didn’t seem to have a head. It definitely didn’t have big long wavy antennae, which is how I usually spot lobster underwater. I watched it as long as I could, and it was just kind of flat and wriggly — like a giant roly poly bug underwater or something. I was the only one who saw it, so I couldn’t ask about it after the dive.
So last night I finally got out my reef guide and was flipping through it, not even thinking about any specific fish, when there it was, that goofy flat antennae-less lobster thing that I saw: Spanish (or slipper) lobster. Wooooooo! What a weird looking thing. And so very cool.
My other favorite thing I saw, on an earlier dive: baby yellowtail damsel. The thing glowed like disco lights. And it was tiny and cute!
I’m getting confident enough with the diving that I’m starting to think about learning underwater photography, so I can share some of these things with you.