Thursday, December 22, 2011

merry and gay

(We've been watching an awful lot of "Pee Wee's Christmas Special" around here)

Me: [singing] Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock...
Auden: What's that boy's name, the boy who sings that?
Me: It's a woman, her name is K.D. Lang.
Auden: No, it's a boy.
Me: No it isn't, it's a woman.
Auden: No, it's a boy.
Me: Why do you think it's a boy, because she has short hair?
Auden: Yeah.
Me: Well, I have short hair.
Auden: ...
Me: Did I stump ya?
Auden: Yeah!
Me: Ha ha!
Auden: But the one who sings that song is a boy.
Me: No, it's not. It's a woman.
Auden: No! It's a boy!
Me: Nope, it's a woman.
Auden: But papa has short hair, and he's a boy. And I have short hair, and I'm a boy.
            So... I'm K.D. Lang!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sir Auden the Brave

I now have the feeling that when Auden is grown up and working at the Renaissance Faire as a jousting knight, he will say, "I've been wanting to do this since I was three years old." And it will be totally true.

He's been writing his name on his drawings more and more, to our great surprise, but now he writes it perfectly backwards:

(with some variations in spelling):

I have no idea what to make of it. He arranges the fridge magnets from right to left, too. He has great... spatial... understanding?

Here is his letter to Santa (with a little help on some of those letters):

 "Sir Knight Auden" -- the 'brave' to be added after school

It kills me how singularly dedicated he is to being a knight. There are other toys, sure (including the $3 Buzz Lightyear we scored at Savers the other day: Mom, I'm hugging Buzz! Mom, Buzz is my friend!), but there is really only one game:

This weekend we're going to the Armory Museum in Worcester, and I'm reeeeeaaaalllllyy looking forward to seeing him lose his ever-loving mind.


Friday, December 2, 2011

stars upon thars

I thrifted this awesome star sweater a couple weeks ago and finally made it into this sweet shirt:

I finally figured out that candy is the secret to a successful photo shoot.

And even then I only get a small window of time before the sugar (and the mischief) kick in.

This one's for sale too! (er, the shirt, not the kid, although some days that's debabtable...)

It's 60% cotton, 40% acrylic, wash cold and tumble dry regular heat. It's a double-thick knit, so it's really cushy & cozy. Size 12 - 18 months (unless you're Isla, who is 22 months and barely 20 pounds. Still pushing the chocolate pudding).

$15 for the shirt
$3 for shipping

I still have some fabric left if you love it but want it in a different size! 


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

slipper season!

I got out all my slipper-making materials again...

I still have acres of this brown velvet, and even though it's maddening to work with -- the nap makes the contrasting fabric catch and shift like crazy, even after I've pinned it -- the end result is so nice that I'll put up with the hassle:

I went back and forth on the yellow buttons... it was either those or a pair of more subdued pearly grays. I chose COLOR, can you believe it? And you know how much I love gray.

Now I'm going to make it really easy for you to buy them: Click a button! Wheeeee!

(They're $30, with $5 for shipping & handling)

All the slippers I make are mostly recycled materials, thrifted and repurposed curtains, skirts, jackets, and suede pants. (Trust me, no one was EVER going to wear those pants again. They were hideous.) The flannel lining is store-bought, as is the thread and the cushion insole between the lining and the leather sole. This pair is a size 6, or 23.5 cm. I've got materials leftover, though, so give a holler if you want them in a different size!

I'll be posting other new pairs soon... so watch out for more awesome fabric combinations and candy-colored buttons. I know, I know: COLOR. I'm amazed, too.


ps. the genius behind this design is Cheri at Shoeology on Etsy... you can buy the pattern there.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

at attempt an an objective report

It's the Season of Hard. It's the Season of Whining. It's the Season of Kneecapping. I know I'm prone to exaggeration with an embellishment of martyrdom, so I'm going to try to say it plain:

I wake up at 5am, hear Isla talking to herself in her crib, go back to sleep. Auden comes to our bed for the second time (first time at 2:30am), but we don't go back to sleep, because soon Isla is yelling and throwing things. I get her and take her into bed, too, all four of us sandwiched on the full-sized mattress. I nurse her while Jason sets up a movie for Auden in the living room. After 20 minutes I pry Isla off me and tell her to go watch the movie with Auden. She doesn't like his movie. It's 5:45, Jason gets up and starts the coffee. I put a pillow over my head and try to go back to sleep.

Auden wakes me up at 6:08. Isla spots me from the kitchen, is ecstatic to see me again, and commences hanging on my legs. For the next 30 minutes I try to go to the bathroom and eat breakfast, cannot do either one without interruption. I try several ways to occupy Isla with toys, and then to mediate disputes about unfairly pilfered toys. Someone invariably wipes their snotty face on my pant-leg. I reheat my coffee. The house is already a mess of discarded toys by 6:30am.

Jason is miraculously already dressed, gets the kids dressed, and is suited up to head off to work. There is a brief display of camaraderie between Auden & Isla as they pretend to go back to sleep in Auden's bed. But then he hits her and squashes her, and she's bawling and I'm trying to go to the bathroom and Jason's trying to get out the door.

Auden doesn't want to go to school, cries and carries on and tries to negotiate our departure time. Spends his "10 more minutes" negotiating for more time. I get dressed. Isla wants more milk. I have the brilliant idea of making a smoothie instead, figuring this will give us all a project to focus on and get some calories into them both. For a few minutes they are content to eat frozen berries while I blend. I pour smoothie into cups with straws, and an unblended blueberry gets stuck in Auden's straw, so he tips the cup up and spills purple glop all over his clothes. Is devastated that he can no longer wear his dinosaur hoodie, and wails on the floor. Isla pulls the legs off a fridge magnet monster that Auden made at school, which adds another layer of injustice and fuels his tantrum.

I completely lose my cool and yell at Auden to STOP IT RIGHT NOW! STOP CRYING! I'VE HAD ENOUGH! THERE'S NOTHING TO CRY ABOUT!

"You're too loud!" he tells me.
"WELL SO ARE YOU!" I respond maturely, sensibly.

We simmer down, he wants me to apologize. I do, and try to explain why I get so frustrated when he whines.

"It's hard for me to keep being patient with you when it seems like you get so upset about every little thing," I say, maturely and sensibly.
"But... but," he says, "I can't find my sword!"

And I realize that I AM THE CRAZY ONE HERE. For trying to reason with someone who is constitutionally unreasonable. Meanwhile, the smoothie sits on the table, mostly unfinished.

I start to hustle us toward the door, but Auden still doesn't want to leave, resumes previously forgotten negotiations. Pokes Isla with his sword, hits her with his helmet. Doesn't want to sit next to Isla while we get our shoes on. Doesn't want to wear a jacket.

I realize on the way downstairs that Jason has my bike key, so we can't take the bike trailer, which I'd told Auden we would. I briefly attempt to alter reality by willing my bike lock to come off.

Auden cries about not being able to take the bike trailer. "Well, we can't do anything about it now." I say, foolishly trying to reintroduce reason.

I get Isla buckled into her seat, but Auden won't get into the car. I put my head down on the door and count to ten, imagining the ways I'd like to physically force him in. Instead I get into the driver's seat and start the car. Auden thinks I'm going to leave without him, which I suppose was my intention, starts crying again, and clambers into his seat. I feel guilty about using fear to manipulate my child. Is that worse than grabbing his arms? Is it worse than hissing commands? I am not capable of anything nice.

As I buckle him, he is crying that he wants to lock the door. "No," I say, mainly because I don't really hear his request and don't understand it. This prompts a fresh outburst. I get into the driver's seat, try to breathe deeply again. I reach back and push the window button, then show him where the lock button is, this seems to appease him and he's finally amenable and chatting happily as we drive to day-care. I look and feel like I've been through the ringer.

Now it's 9:30, and I think I'll go back to bed.


Thursday, October 27, 2011


So, because I'm in this limbo-before-the-breakthrough, I've decided to return to my roots. My drawing roots, that is.

I love my babies' bodies, and since they were born I've been wishing I would take the time to draw them more. But they don't sit still, and I'm cross-eyed, and I'm out of practice, and etc, etc. I have lots of excuses to stay stuck.

I have tried to draw them a few times, and I end up with a scritchy abstract jumble of lines because, seriously, they just keep moving. So I decided to cheat. I took some pictures of them in the bath, when they are most gorgeous, and did some sketches from those.

I have a great idea for a painting I'm going to do based on these sketches. You know, after the breatkthrough.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

there might not be a design, in certain cases

Body in knots, head in a muddle. I keep thinking I can get to the bottom of the thoughts -- if I just keep pulling them out one by one, I'll come to the end, or The Answer. It's faulty, to say the least. It's a trap.

I did a little of a lot of things today, nothing felt very satisfying. And of course I blow it up to be so huge that the daubs and swishes of paint that I put down today were NOT GOOD and VERY UGLY and WHAT DOES IT MEAN ABOUT ME AND MY FUTURE. So easy to get stuck there... then I go to the thinking, determined to think every last thought; to think an answer, to think relief.

I know I am ornery and tight and caught up on these same familiar snags. I wanted to do something NOT MYSELF -- how did I end up doing this utterly and completely MYSELF mark on the canvas? And I don't know how to make a different mark, so I'm stuck with this daub-daub, wipe-wipe approach that is maddening, and my colors are all wrong, and on and on.

I went to mess up the two encaustic collages I made years ago when Auden was a baby, because it had worked so well with the "There Is a Design" piece, and that felt so good.

 Now I've covered up too much with paint. Patchy calico paint that's at once too dark and too chalky and makes no sense and there's no sense of freedom in the brushstrokes, just that same dense willfulness, contrived and badly executed.

Struggling with each layer.

Struggling with painting in general. I feel as though I'm on the verge of breaking through something SOMETHING and this period before the breakthrough is agonizing. Full of doubt and distress, so uncomfortable to hesitate making any mark, to be dissatisfied with every mark. I mix the same colors in the same proportions and wonder why I get the same mud every time


Reworking these hand pieces, I'm baffled. What do I do next? Which color and where? I'm fighting with the surface, the composition. Trying to stay available to answers that are still unseen. Unseeable. So hard to comprehend that there could be any kind of resolution. How can I call myself a painter when I hate painting and don't know how to do it? So go the voices in my head.

Can I allow that each piece is important, even if it's never right or beautiful or finished?

I read a quote by Albert Einstein: "It's not that I'm so smart, it's that I stay with a problem longer."

So I'm trying to stay with the problem.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011


The commission that I started back in May, resolved, finally:

It was fitful toward the end, as it usually is for me, when I sense that I'm close but can't settle on how to put final touches in their right place.

These paintings turned out to be so much more quiet and soft than I'd originally planned, and I was really fighting with myself about how to bring back the boldness and rhythm of the first layers. There is always tension between what I think I want, and what the painting itself is doing.

So, I pulled my hair and bit my lips and dabbed and erased and huffed and puffed, and somewhere in there I mixed the sweetest gray and it found its way in, balancing and brightening. Even as I was overthinking it, each panel gently found its completion and waited for me to hush my mind enough to see it.

I guess I didn't want to allow that the final step could be so small and subtle... I was hoping for a flourish! Some drama! But no.

I was also waiting to feel finished, and that didn't happened right away. Now they're packed and shipped, and I'm waiting to hear that they've found their home and match the wall color. Then I'll exhale.

 I had another fit trying to name them, and after brainstorming a list of words, I felt like I usually do while playing Scrabble -- that certainly these letters add up to something? Plene is a word, right? How about palanquist? was no help, nor, but when I told Jason, he suggested maybe I was thinking of palanquin. It's good to be married to an academic.

Palanquins, it turns out, are canopied chairs carried aloft by porters, used to bear noble people or royalty, or, with a more crude construction, to bear the wounded from the battlefield. One definition says, "a wheel-less vehicle, a type of human-powered transport, for the transport of persons." They also look a little like omikoshi in Japan, which are ornate gilded little shrines, held in the same way, used in festivals to carry the gods through the streets. 

I like the idea of my vertebrae, especially the atlas, as a palanquin. A human-powered vehicle, for the transport of my person, my head, my gods, my silly ideas. 

Thank you, MV, for the opportunity to make art for you, I truly hope it works just right in your space. If not, you're going to have to re-paint that wall. 


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

potty talk

Auden and I have this very weird recurring potty conversation. You know, the one that happens when you're helping your kid on the toilet? You don't have that one? Well, here, enjoy ours:

"What's coming?"
"I don't know, a train?"
"Maybe it's a slug!"
"A slug? Ew."
"What was that?"
"I don't know, a snake?"
"A snake came outta my butt!"
"Gross, dude."
"I have a surprise for you, mom!"
"What is it?"
[gets off toilet]
"Is that just what you always wanted?"


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

train table

I got a great home-made train table from my cousin -- her boyfriend had built it years ago, and their kids weren't playing with it much anymore. I was running around like a mad-woman in the days before our move, but I'd been wanting a table for the kids for ages, so even though Jason was at the point of "LOOK AT ALL THIS STUFF, oh my god how do we have so much stuff?" I was happy to go pick it up and load it into the moving truck.

Once we were moved in and more or less set up, I hauled out my collage materials and dove in. It felt really good to have a project -- it had been about a month, the point at which I start getting a little itchy.

I don't have a good "before" shot, but you can see that it was white with your standard green-grass-blue-water-gray-rocks motif:

I pasted a bunch of different paper on it, including some cool topo-maps and Japanese train time-tables -- so, abstract but having a little something to do with land and trains:

Here, a rare shot of the artist at work (well, the artist's backside, anyway, along with loyal side-kick in underpants):

Auden was very helpful with the gluing part, but in general does not have patience for these kinds of projects. Specifically, the part where he's not allowed to play on it yet:


 Look out Sir Bevis, a T-Rex and a giant sloth behind you!

Next I did a layer of paint, sticking with quiet colors -- "desert hues" as Jason calls them. I added a few more scraps of paper, and a cool stencil that I'd made years ago from the shadow my plant cast on the wall:

And then there was another break in production to test out the surface. Suitable for cars and trucks:

It was interesting to work on this surface, because it's big like a painting, but is horizontal and doesn't have a top or bottom. The composition needed to be balanced but not too focused. I added some paper circles, and some curved lines in paint to create some more geometrical shapes, and that felt just right:

Then I painted the sides and the legs a dark honey-brown color, and then sealed it all with polyurethane. I wanted the whole table to blend in with our furniture and not scream PLAYROOM like the original paint job was doing. Besides, white gets so dirty, and this way you can't see all the paw-prints from the many beasties who come to play.

And play they do. It may be the single best investment I've made, for how much use it gets (although, I should point out, the only thing they DON'T do on it is build train tracks):

 Here's the finished table, in our front parlor:

 Now, carry on with your mock-battles and lego dismemberment:


Thursday, September 29, 2011

journal art #1

Back in July I had this great plan that I would schedule a bunch of posts of images from my journal to go up during August while I was settling in and in a dark cave without internets. Of course I did no such thing, but it's still a good idea.

I try to let my journal be the place where I loosen up and try different stuff, but sometimes it just becomes a repository for left-over paint and odds & ends. I'm so frugal, I can't even waste little bits of ideas. Save them! They might be useful! I'm an idea hoarder.