Friday, February 28, 2014

Coffee Mug

Day 99: Feb. 28, 2014

Today's post is merely for the benefit of showing off my latest watercolor.  My poor friend who as of the middle of last night has the throw ups, as we call it around here, has influenced my inner artist.

And also, one benefit of having no goat fence is that whenever we go for a walk in the neighborhood, the goats come too. We are quite a scene walking down the road. The other day, we were walking along with our neighbor and her new puppy. We walked all the way to the intersection where another neighbor's horse hangs out, and we stopped to feed it some grass. The goats were right along with us, eating grass, hopping around when the puppy got too close. Then, another couple walks by. It was as if the goats could sense their lives would be better with these other, more sane individuals who had no puppy and no children to distract them from caring for the goats.  So they walked right along with their new mom and dad as if I and my kids never existed for them.  It was a little heart wrenching.

We got them back eventually.

Here's the watercolor.





Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Painting

Day 98, 2014

Painting is really hard but some people make it look really easy. My artist friend who I was with four months ago when this whole thing started is here again, and we're painting together. We're painting from the same still life. Uh, it turns out, I have no patience for finer details. My poor little drawing is so hideous. And his drawing is so beautiful! 

It turns out, I'm competing with my friend to make the more beautiful drawing.  They're not drawings, they're paintings.

Today's painting is bigger than my usual.  On nice paper that was purchased at the art store this morning.  See, my mind is on where my daughter will go to kindergarten next year, which makes it difficult to think fully about where to put the shadows and what colors to start with. Nonetheless, I am excited about the two watercolor books my friend found for me today, and the paper, and the new brushes.  Exciting days are ahead. 

Coffee: Wish I had had some caffeine today.

Watercolors:

 
 
 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Let's stay home, Mommy!

Day 98, Feb. 24, 2014

My three year old does not take transition lightly. I don't blame him. He lives in the moment and gets fully involved in what he's doing whether or not we have to go somewhere in two hours or ten minutes. At home, he's often happy to play by himself or with his sister for long periods at which point I can steal away to write, clean, sleep (not really.) I read somewhere recently (and I've heard this millions of times,) that less is more when it comes to parenting. 

Here are some of things we do when the kids have decided that mommy has had enough "less is more" time to herself:

1. Painting: We all enjoy it and its relaxing.  We do this at the kitchen table. There's never any mess because we're all super refined painters.  There's never paint smeared in people's hair or entirely up their arms, or kids running around smearing paint on the walls.  And we have lots of art to show for it hung on the walls in beautiful frames, and definitely not piled up in the art cabinet.

2. Play Doh: From the first day my daughter could hold the stuff in her hand and not eat all of it, we've been playing with it. We started out making snakes with colorful stripes. Well there's a snake on the box, so it was easy to come up with that one. This activity can keep us occupied for hours and we usually end up talking about pancakes and birthday cakes.

3. Dance Party: This requires massive amounts of energy which if you don't have, you still won't when you're done. Basically we turn on the music and dance around for a while. At some point and for some unknown reason, this activity evolves into sprints across the living room back and forth, back and forth until the end of time. At some further point it becomes "the flying game." The kids get tired and require that I hold their hands and "fly" them across the room as fast as I can.

4. Chase: There are rules. Only for me, though. Chase the kids into my son's room, hide my eyes while they bury themselves under a blanket. Say, "oh, there you are!"  Grab them, carry them both simultaneously into my bedroom and throw them on the bed. Repeat. (Have I mentioned that I plan on entering a body building contest?)

I'm sure its true that less is more. I hope I can strike a balance between structure and non-structure.  Between giving them my attention and letting them work it out themselves. Between helping them put on their shoes and letting them get it done on their own.

Coffee: homemade coffee with lots of chocolate today.

Watercolor:



Thursday, February 20, 2014

Big

Day 97: Feb. 20, 2014

I remember my grandmother and grandfather's house well. It was a tiny house set back from the street nestled among Garden District mansions in New Orleans. The house was just a few blocks from my house and I could walk there easily.  Wednesday afternoons were the days I'd go there after school and about those days I can remember two things: saltine peanut butter crackers, and my grandfather sitting on the couch in the sun room under an umbrella, or watching TV and listening to the radio at the same time, or reading.  And its possible that every single time I saw him he asked me if I had my violin and would I play the Bruch violin concerto for him. I eventually did play that concerto, but I don't remember him being there to hear it.

I really wish my son could meet my Grandfather because I'm sure the two of them would hit it off. My Grandfather, (we called him Big) was a comedian. His jokes almost always involved word play and wry comments about life and society. My son is also a comedian. He likes to vary from the norm just to make people laugh. And he would have sat right underneath that umbrella as if nothing unusual were going on.

My grandparents used to yell at each other a lot, which seriously scared the crap out of me. I hope one day my mom writes down the story of her life living with them. Not an easy task, but it would be so interesting! At least to me.

Here' a dumb question, but one I've been thinking about for the past couple of days: If you had to choose between Nature and Culture, which would you choose? Like if someone sat you down and said, either you have to live in a cement city with all the music, art, and literature that you want, or you have to live (comfortably) in a pristine environment of natural beauty, without any of the items mentioned in the first scenario.  You could still use your brain in the second scenario, i.e. you could write, or make your own music (you'd have to make your own instruments.) I know, an idiotic question.  I'm not sure yet which I'd choose. My first instinct is to say Nature.

Coffee: N/A as of yet.

Watercolor:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Goats and other thoughts.

Day 96, Feb. 19, 2014

I enjoy February.  Its the month before March, which to me marks the beginning of Spring. I don't particularly enjoy March however, as the beginning of Spring doesn't really come until May or June in these parts. Usually, the temperature warms slightly, but the rain stays on, and at some point my kids demand to run naked through a hose no mater what the weather and then you know: all you can do is take what you can get where Spring is concerned.

I'm sitting in the woods watching the goats eat as I write this. I decided to experiment with hand writing my post for their sake. So they can eat blackberries and feel safe instead of hovering (and pooping) on my doorstep. If they had proverbial balls and any brains they'd hang out in the woods, eat their fill, and then go sit quietly in their little house until they were hungry again. Instead they hover and poop next to the front or back door and I'm going insane. Their movable fence is lying in a heap on the ground because the last time I went to move it, only a week after moving it from before, I gave up in a fit of drama and declared my love affair with the goats over. Here's the thing: they are very useful eating the blackberries, but only enclosed in a six foot fence, which is too cumbersome to be traipsing all over the mountainside once a week. So either we build something permanent and keep them as pets, or we call the experiment a fail.

As for hand writing my post, I'm enjoying it and according to the principal of one of the ritzy schools in our city, writing with a pen is the activity that most engages our brains in all of its neuron firing glory. Sounds good. I just like being in the woods as opposed to my messy house.

I was thinking today about how there was a time when people lived in the elements. No houses, computers or cars. No toilets or beds. They were hardened to the brutality of the cold and the wind, but softened by the sound of the creeks and the smell of the wet grass. I wonder when my kids will be old enough to go backpacking.  Maybe soon, because shoot, their favorite game is "trip." Or "fill a bag with stuff, march around the house, find a place to empty the bag, and then pretend to go to sleep."  Sounds a lot like backpacking!

Coffee: the day is young, nevertheless, I still have the cup. It served as a water cup while I was swimming laps.

Watercolor:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Here's some advice.

Day 95: Feb. 18, 2014

Once I was walking on a wide trail in Eastern Oregon and there were two women walking together followed by a big group of people with a dog. The dog was not on a leash, and a man was throwing a stick to the dog who would grab it and bring it back to him. The dog was very cute and very well behaved, but also very energetic.

Here is what I heard:

"Stop throwing that stick to your dog right behind me," said one of the ladies loudly and angrily.

"We're staying well behind you, ma'am," responded the man calmly.

"And furthermore, your dog should be on a leash," flashed the lady.

"If we wanted to know, we would have asked, thank you," said the man.

I'm sure not everyone would agree with me, but in my mind I was rooting for the man with the dog.  The lady was mean and the man was nice, even though he was breaking the rules. And I loved the response, "If we wanted to know, we would have asked..."

Like, if you saw a woman with two kids crossing the street not in the cross walk, and there was a line of cars waiting at a stop light, so there was no chance of any danger, would you yell out, GO TO THE CROSSWALK! in a mean and nasty voice?

I get it. Crossing in the middle of the street is against the rules. I guess if every single person crossed in the  middle of the street, there would be chaos.  Although, not if they all crossed quickly at exactly the right time, and hardly anyone noticed.  For me, offering unsolicited advice is not something I ever do.  Maybe I don't have the guts. Or maybe I don't feel like its my place to tell anyone else what I think about their lives. Can't we all just get along?

Not that this was me. Because I always follow the rules and I have everything figured out, and no one has any need to ever offer me unsolicited advice, nor does anyone ever think it in their heads that I even need any.

Coffee: one today that spilled all over the floor in the Hult center.

Watercolor:


Monday, February 17, 2014

Getting lost is OK!

Day 94: Feb. 17, 2013
 
When I was fifteen, I went to an orchestral music camp in Lenox, Massachusetts.  We played a concert every two weeks with different conductors. We had to audition within the first couple of days so the faculty could place us for the first concert. At this point in my life, my orchestral experience was zero. There was no youth orchestra in New Orleans, and almost no one I knew besides my brother and one or two other people played the violin. I auditioned with a piece I had performed that year in my teacher's studio recital and I remember the three men sitting at the table listening to me play. They were wearing suits and smiling nicely, and I thought, ok, well, I guess I just have to play now, not really understanding the ramifications of the situation. Apparently I impressed them because they ooed and ahhed and placed me on the first stand of the violin section in second chair. Basically, I was screwed from that moment on. I had never had to sight read a piece of music in my life, and all of these kids around me had played in major youth symphonies from the age of six, and they were all older than me, and playing the violin was cool where they came from. I sat down for the first rehearsal of Beethoven's fifth symphony and slam bam, I was lost. I had no idea what to play or when to play it. That day, I played zero notes at the right time. By the time the concert came, I played about 25% of the notes at the right time. When the three men would come to watch rehearsals, I could see the deep furrows in their brows pointing in my direction.

Despite this experience, I absolutely love playing in an orchestra. Its like a dream come true every time I get to do it. And by the time the camp was over that summer, I was a lot better at it. I didn't play all of the notes, and I still got lost some of the time, but I found my way back a lot faster, and somehow, I managed to feel the groove of the music inside my body.

Its good to live by the motto, "if it doesn't kill you, it only makes you stronger." Now I have to go practice!

Coffee: Still have the cup! Used it today while my wonderful dad took the kids to lunch and read to them from a new book they bought at the bookstore.

Watercolor: Its sideways.




Sunday, February 16, 2014

Do You Believe?

Day 93: Feb. 16, 2014

I have a new reusable cup. It is in my purse. It has a pretty design on it with the word BELIEVE written on it.

Here are some things that I believe:

1. Next year's blog project is going to be performance oriented.
2. I will do a major through hike before I die. The PCT, The AT or the Colorado, or maybe one in a foreign country.
3. There will come a time when my closets are, in fact, organized and stay that way.

Crap, I've tried for the last ten minutes to think of number four, but nothing is coming to me. I mean, seriously, I don't believe that much. I don't have strong convictions about things. I'm good with most aspects of life, although I don't like loud horror movies.  I don't like it when the type on my computer screen shrinks to an infinitesimal size because I hit a random key or unknowingly swipe the mouse pad just right (and have no idea how to get it back to normal.)

4. I believe its important to always work on yourself. To experiment with unknown territories in life. (Maybe I could work on mastering my computer?)
5. Learning Spanish is useful, if only so I can say this sentence: "no entiendo quando lo dice."  (translation: I don't understand when you say it.)  I love saying this because of how it sounds and how it feels to say. I can't explain it. 
6. I am loved!

Coffee: Haven't lost the cup yet (the one that I bought today.)

Watercolor:

 




Saturday, February 15, 2014

Hello Again!

Day 92: Feb. 15, 2014

I want to write something, but I don't know what. Its been 2 months. Everyday I think about how I'm not writing anymore. And its no big deal, it just occurs to me that, hey, I had my blog going for a while, and now I don't. Not writing created a feeling of freedom in me that I enjoyed, but now, I feel like I'd like to stir my creative pot.

Can I be honest? I am struggling to think of anything to write about. I mean, I could write about Brenda, the professional organizer. I could write about how I've noticed that I say this to myself on a regular basis: "I wonder what it would feel like in my body if I did Yoga everyday," but I have yet to find out. I could write about how I've been having some really awesome conversations with my daughter about her friends and their relationships. I could write about how sometimes I can see the walls between me and another person while I'm talking to them, if it happens that I don't know them well, or if we're just not the same personality type.

But here's what keeps popping into my mind while sitting here. Yesterday, I woke up at 3:30 a.m. I had a stuffy nose, and for some reason thought it would go away, but it never did, so I didn't fall back to sleep. Around 6, I got up to start the day, and felt my usual panicky feeling when I don't sleep enough and know I have to hang with the kids all day. But, right when heard my son's door creaking open and could imagine his little hands gripping the door knob in anticipation of what he would discover this day, I heard a voice inside my head. It said, "quiet your mind, and you will make it." It was a loud loud voice. Very forceful. And the greatest thing happened. My mind crawled into bed and snuggled down under the covers.  Normally when I don't sleep enough, I shriek around in my head all kinds of crap about how sad it is for me that I'm tired and that I'm full of woe, and how no one understands.  But yesterday, I felt so quiet in my head that I was able to be gentle on my family and my kids. And myself. I felt like I was experiencing a revelation all day long. It only took me forty years to get to this point, and hopefully my husband who has always known how to do this will forgive me for taking so long to get here! (Assuming "here" is a place, and I can actually stick around.)

And I'm getting my closets organized. You should see them. Well not yet, but you should see them once I'm all done. It turns out, organization is all about bins and labels. Who knew?

Coffee: I'll start with the confession, which I can't hide because my husband found me out: I bought a disposable cup about three weeks ago at Starbucks. You see, not only are my closets disorganized, so is my everyday life out and about. I lose things.  I'm way better than I used to be. But the fact is, I've lost every single reusable cup I've ever owned up to now. I mean, basically the coffee cup aspect of this blog is a complete sham. (So is the grocery bag part, who am I kidding?)

The good thing: since I've started this blog, whenever that was, I've bought two disposable cups (yes, there was another one about 5 months ago, which I never confessed.) That's a big improvement from 4 or 5 a week.  Ok, here's what I'll do. The next reusable cup I buy, I'll write my name and # on it, and I'll post here whether or not I still have it, which might help me to not lose it. We'll see.

Watercolor: