Art For Sale

Dusty took more stained glass classes over the summer and I’ve finally gotten them all photographed (though they still don’t do the pieces justice. The feathers, in particular). She’s now aged out of the classes and will move up to volunteer/helper next year and will still be able to make pieces but on her own time.

She is selling them to raise money for school trips.

If you are interested in purchasing one of these, let me know. The last batch sold in a day. The prices were lower but her skills continue to grow.

Star 8.5″x 8.5″ ($80) SOLD:
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Sunrise 10.5″x 7 ($80) SOLD:
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Shapes 9″x 6.5″ ($75) SOLD:
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Feathers 5″ in length ($15/piece or $25/pair) – only 5 left!:
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(one on left and right – sold)
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Unicorn 16″ diagonally from back hoof to horn ($100):
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Permission To Say No, Sir

So I mentioned the yoga class a few posts ago. I went the first week and it was nice. Not spectacular but okay. The teacher didn’t really “teach” and didn’t seem to pay attention when the majority of people there said, yes, this was their very first yoga class ever. She didn’t demonstrate the poses beforehand, just went into them, instructing everyone to follow along which is tricky when you’re faced away from her. No music. Unless you count the music blaring from the aerobics class next door.

But, otherwise, it was fine. I forgot to bring a blanket to cushion my knees. My knees can’t do yoga and some teachers can handle this without breaking a sweat. They offer alternate poses. This one kind of did after it was clear I couldn’t do what she was doing and that pigeon pose. Forget it.

But, otherwise, it was fine.

Except, the next week was sandwiched between long days and I didn’t want to get home and leave again since it was the only night I’d have at home. For all of us to relax. So, I didn’t go. I mowed the front grass instead. That was my workout.

Plus, I didn’t really have the money to spend.

Last week, I skipped it because…same deal with the not wanting to be out late three days in a row. And the kids had colds. And I was exhausted. But still felt guilty all the same.

Later, I wondered why I felt guilty. Why I felt I had to make excuses (to myself) not to go in the first place. Why did I need to do that? Why did I feel I had to go to a yoga class anyway? If it wasn’t providing anything amazing, why do it? Wasn’t it time to pay attention to what I really needed to do? Which was to stay home and relax and be there with my kids? Couldn’t I just do the yoga in my room on my mat whenever I felt like it?

Why did I like the classes in the first place? Once upon a time, a number of factors played into it. First, I had a fabulous teacher. Second, it was an escape from a home that I wasn’t happy being in. Third, it was the only night of the week we were out at night. It was my escape.

Now, though, I don’t have anything I need to escape from. You might say, “Well, duh!” but it was an epiphany when I realized this. I was so busy making excuses about why I wasn’t doing something I didn’t want to do that I thought I was supposed to want to do, that I hadn’t realized that it wan’t important any longer. It had been then. It wasn’t now.

So, I’m not going back to yoga class. I’ve started looking into meditation instead. Well, maybe not instead or as well as. But I’m reading about it. I’ve downloaded a few apps (god – if you’d told me I’d be downloading apps a couple of years ago, I would have laughed. In your face.) with various meditations and I bought a book on the recommendation of a friend (Full Catastrophic Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn) and I can stay right in my nice comfy home, plug in my earbuds and lie on the bed or my sofa or my carpeted floor for 20 or 30 minutes – WHOLLY UNDISTURBED BY HOUSEHOLD TEENS – and meditate. Or nap. Whatever.

I like this new person I’m becoming and I like letting go of all the things I use to cling to that I simply don’t need any more. I don’t really have to ask permission to not do something I no longer need. I just need to recognize that I don’t need it.

Kraken-faced Autumn Hater

So it’s officially autumn and I, for one, am not happy about it. I know there are so many of you out there who love this time of year and yes, I can sort of see why you do but. This weather change does not agree with my body.

The moment the wind kicks summer to the curb and brings in that dry, fall weather, something in my body turns on a switch in the allergy machine region (which is kept well-regulated by a daily generic zyrtec) and I have an all-day headache that no amount of ibuprofen can get rid of. Everything dries up and I am just tired. Bone tired. All day long. I don’t mind the early evenings but I do mind trying to make myself stay away while I’m driving down country roads. Morning, afternoon, evening, doesn’t matter.

And it brings back the eczema that lives on my left eyelid and surrounds that eye. During the lovely humid summer, it goes away. But as soon as the weather changes….

Red and I stumbled upon Clash of the Titans (the good one; the 1981 version with Harry Hamlin) on tv the other day and watched as Perseus pulled Medusa’s head out of a bag, all the claymation snakes jerkedly writhing around, and held it up to the Kraken who is supposed to be more squid-like but resembles Godzilla more than anything.

Red loved it, the way she loves everything “old”: “OMG, that’s so fake! Wow! This is great!” Have I mentioned lately how much I love this kid? I have? Just yesterday? Okay, good.

Anyway. The Kraken turns….slowly….to stone and then….slowly….begins to crumble into dust, chunk by scaly grey chunk.

That’s how my eyelid feels: like it accidentally looked at Medusa and turned to stone. Or like a toddler snuck into my bedroom and placed a banana sticker (you know – the stickers that come free with every banana) on my eyelid and I’m unable to remove it.

It’s as fun as it sounds. And I’m out of my special vial of cream so I’ll need to go visit the doctor and order up some more before the “affected area” turns as red and angry as my soul.

Red was sniffling and tired yesterday and complained that EVERYONE at school was sick and some boy (it’s always a boy) was coughing on her in art class and she did what she could to turn away from him but it’s a small room and their desks touch. So, she’s done for. Three weeks into school and we’ve had it.

Once daylight saving time is over (and you know how much I hate that shit), I’ll sleep a little better (waking up at 3am instead of 2am, for example) but it’ll still be fall. And then winter. It’ll still be dry and cold except when it’s wet and cold and the sun will dip lower in the sky until it’s continuously at eye-scalding level. Gosh, what fun.

So anyhow. Y’all enjoy your cool weather. I’ll be inside popping ibuprofen and eating my weight in bread products curled up in front of the tv. And slathering on my anti-Kraken cream until next April.

Flying Like An Eagle and Writing About It

Right, so I dreamed last night that I was writing a post here and it was so important to remember the INCREDIBLY BRILLIANT opening and closing lines, that when I woke up at 2:00am – like I do every night – I wrote them down on the pad of paper I keep on my bedside table for just this reason. To remember my INCREDIBLY BRILLIANT THOUGHTS. What is this stroke of genius, you ask?

Opening: Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin…..

Closing: …into the future.

No haters. It was a dream (though I do like the Steve Miller Band).

What isn’t a dream is the repetitive pen-clicking of the receptionist down the hall. It’s making me insane. Or maybe it’s the coffee routine she has: make a pot of coffee. Pour the first cup and shut off the coffee maker. Stir in the sugar, clinkclinkclinkclink goes the spoon. Taptaptap on the side of the mug. Later, she’s back for more. Pour cold coffee in the mug. Stir in sugar clinkclinkclinkclinkclinktaptaptap. Put mug in microwave. Stir in “creamer” clinkclinkclinkclinktaptaptap. Repeat over the course of the day a million billion times.

Back at the ranch, I have now officially hired Dusty to help Red with her math homework because that pre-algebra crap makes absolutely no sense to me. And the instructions in the textbook are meaningless. I get hung up on what exactly is being asked for and then stare at the problems (which is what they are: problems) and then shrug and remember there’s a sink full of dishes that need tending to.

There were other things I was going to talk about but I forgot them. Here’s a few other things I’ve written elsewhere:

At Life In Ten Minutes, there was a prompt about waiting, something I’m really bad at. So I wrote this response.

I wrote about preserving my basil at Scribbletown Gardens (WP won’t add this link so check my Garden page).

I wrote an essay about Red because her Language Arts teacher assigned it to me. The parents were asked to write/brag about their kids so she could get to know them better. Encapsulating Red in a mere few paragraphs is hard. I’ve written a bajillion blog posts about the kid since she was born and I still haven’t gotten it all down.

Red and I have had some misunderstandings recently. Or, rather, I’ve reacted in a knee jerk way to things she’s done and have had to go back and apologize and explain why I did what I did. So, this essay partially allowed me to say, “I love you and I’m sorry and I might be your mom but that doesn’t mean I’m perfect”.

When I told Red I’d written it, and stapled it to the assignment sheet (that I had to SIGN, like every other school paper that enters the house), she was excited. “Can I read it?” Of course you can.

So, here’s what I wrote:

I wish I could attach a photo album to this essay because words do not fully capture the wacky uniqueness that is Red. As a baby, she ate crayons rather than colored with them. Furniture was for climbing on. She was fearless and was known for rushing into oncoming traffic and people except when we went to the beach. And then we discovered that the ocean was too terrifying for her to approach. She spent her first couple beach vacations behind the dune. I have photos – many of them in various stages of undress or overdress (she has style, this kid!) – of her covered in spaghetti sauce, covered in markers, covered in a blanket while she “reclines” on a wobbly stool, laying on a sheet of bubble wrap, sunk in a box of packing peanuts, pouring water over her head in the bath just because, and just being incredibly goofy like only she can be.

She has very particular likes and dislikes – for food, music, clothing, house styles, pretty much everything – and isn’t afraid to let them be known. You always know where you stand with Red; she will tell you.

She’s a dichotomy: both introvert and extrovert. She loves television, popular culture, teen magazines full of current celebrities but also has a passion for old cars (1950’s in particular), old houses (Tudor and Victorian styles) and old music (James Brown, Elton John, disco).

Red is multi-talented. She’s a talented writer (there are about 10 stories being worked on at any given time in my computer), an artist with an eye for color (her mother’s parents are artists so it’s in the genes), and a critic – of movies, tv shows, the comics, everything. She is never without an opinion on things large and small.

Red lives with her mother and older sister (a 9th grader at P-H-H-S-) in Beaverdam. We have three cats (Pokey, Charlie and Franklin) and an elderly but quite spry guinea pig (Cloud). Her father lives in Richmond. As does her bike. She has the best of both worlds: the country and the city. Rolling hills covered in cows and the James River.

Extended family include three aunts and grandparents in Richmond. Her other grandparents live in Salem. There may be as many as 10 cats amongst them. I lose count. No dogs. We’re pretty much cat people. Occasionally Red proclaims that she will be a crazy cat lady when she grows up. I’m trying to dissuade her from this as Plan A. It’s a good fall-back position but I’m hoping she’ll become a famous author first. The crazy cat thing can come after she’s signed the movie rights to her first novel.

Red giggled as she read it. “I like what you wrote.”

That’s all any writer wants to hear, you know?

What My Brain is Mulling Over

My gosh. So much going on. So busy. So much driving and not getting home at a decent hour. I skipped yoga class last night to mow the front yard. It’d been awhile. And exercise is exercise, right? Right.

And so while I’m doing ALL THE THINGS, I’m also thinking about a lot of random things these days, mainly because I’m not sleeping well and my brain won’t shut down but also just because. I’m thinking about:

  1. How much I’d like to live in a Trump-free world.
  2. How amused I am by the response, on a local FB page, that we’re getting a dollar store soon. Half the folks want x y and z as well or instead of. Half are complaining about anything that smacks of convenience and want everyone to boycott what we already have as if that would change anything. If an area is zoned for business and the county supervisors agree with the property owner about what they want to build, there’s not much that can be done about it. “Boycotting” what’s already established is just nonsense. You don’t like it, don’t shop there. But somehow those businesses seem to be doing just fine. I am thrilled to have choices, and a nice clean drug store and a nice clean ABC store. And whatever else they put in (not a fan of fast food joints but I don’t think we’re getting one of those, thankfully)
  3. How much I couldn’t stop looking at, when we visited the middle school and met all of Red’s teachers, her history teacher’s shoes. She was wearing canvas wedges with a peek-toe type hole in the front. I’m sure that’s got a name but I don’t know it. Her toes had slid down and were jammed into that hole which left a two-inch gap at the heel. How she walked around in those things, I do not know, but I was both fascinated and repulsed at the same time. When that five-minutes was up, I left with relief. I’d probably never have to see her or her toes again.
  4. How Red’s language arts teacher gave ME homework to do. We, the parents, are supposed to write an essay about our kids. I could fill a notebook with information about Red and her awesomeness. I’m not sure where to start. So I haven’t yet. The deadline’s next Friday. Red earns a point so I need to write it and turn it in soon.

Lastly, I’m mulling over creating calendars and note cards from my garden photos. If you’d like to pre-order one (or both or more than one or whatever), let me know. I’m still trying to figure out the best website to use for this but I’m taking orders now and will get back to you. They make great Xmas gifts. Don’t you think?

Autumnal

Some would say today is a perfect fall day. The temperature is almost chilly. The humidity is zero. The rain yesterday washed away summer and brought us here. To fall. The trill of cicadas is gone, leaving only busy crows and crickets. It’s lovely in its way. But autumn to me is like the beauty that lies within something dying. Leaves changing colors means they’ll soon drop to the ground and leave behind the skeletons of trees. Dried up sunflowers mean the seeds are ready for birds to eat but also that it’s time to pull them up and toss them in the disused pasture. It’s about time to pull everything up and prepare for the worst of all seasons: winter. Close up shop. Batten down the hatches. Turn in.

I am making an effort to find good things about fall. One surprising one: high school football games. I know. Who woulda thunk?

Dusty played in her first game on Friday with the marching band. I volunteered to work in the concession stand. I spent 5 hours prepping burgers and hot dogs with a congenial group of marching band parents – some I’d never met before, others I knew from scouts or just from living here and being a parent for 12 years. It was fun but it meant I couldn’t see the band play. Or really hear them, apart from the drums and the loudest horns. Most likely tubas but I couldn’t really tell. It was a long day for all us. But everyone was having a good time. We pretty much sold out of food.

Next Friday there’s another game and I’d like to see the band play (still couldn’t give two hoots for football – there’s a limit) so I think Red and I will go and be part of the crowd. All the concerts we attended this summer have made us excellent spectators.

The game capped off the first week of school. We all had to learn how to get up early and out the door at the same time again. I drive them to their respective schools – across the street from one another; where they have learned to navigate new hallways and multiple new teachers – and then I arrive at work early to a quiet building. A blessing. It’s different. It’s not bad.

The after-school band practices have meant long days. We’ll soon begin to eat one dinner a week in the college dining hall (bonus: no dishes to wash!). Next Tuesday, while Dusty’s at practice, Red and I will walk her school schedule and I’ll meet her teachers. Long days, home by dark, the evening begins to close in on us earlier and earlier. Less down time, less homework time. And I wish I could say it’ll ease off after Thanksgiving but Dusty handed me the schedule for symphonic band and….it’ll just go on and on. Forever.

Another good thing: Daylight saving time – the bane of my existence – will end eventually and give us back that hour we so desperately need.

And another good thing: yoga class. I went to my first yoga class last week in ages. It was nice. But it means another late day. We’ll see how long I can keep it up. I have a number of new projects to work on and I’m thinking, again, about the abandoned novel. When it gets cold outside, I’ll turn to that. And my quilt project. Keeping busy is the key to getting through the winter.

Also: the cooler weather means I can get out and walk again. By July, it had gotten too hot for even a quick mid-day walk around campus. Now, I need to remember to pack my walking shoes again.

So for now, I’ll try to enjoy this change and perhaps I can mow the grass a few more times and not get heat stroke. I’ve planted some lettuce on the deck. I need to freeze my basil before frost hits. But, it’s all good. I’m feeling good. We’re in a good place. Even if it’s no longer summer.

Creative Ventures

Happy Labor Day Weekend! We are all sad that summer’s coming to an unofficial end even though we’ll be attending a concert tonight out of town (which will be my final voyage of the summer, thank goodness). But the girls are moving up to middle and high school and they’ve met their teachers, walked their schedules, and are as ready as they’ll ever be for a new year, a new school.

I’ve been preparing some new projects as well!

I have created two new blogs.

Scribbletown Gardens will be (I hope) a revenue-generating blog (please click on links and help baby get a new pair of shoes!) in which I talk about most things gardening. I’ll include recipes and house projects and whatever else strikes my fancy.

Roadside Virginiana will document as many old motels along the entire length of Route One in Virginia as possible. The idea came to me after travelling the same stretch of Route One (to avoid the hideous traffic on I-95) within a two week period. Because traffic moves slower on Route One, as it goes through towns and there are numerous stop lights and reduced speeds, I was able to notice my surroundings. And what I noticed were the dozens of abandoned and repurposed old motels from a time when Route One was THE highway, and the thrill of driving was new and exciting. Unlike now, when it is necessary and soul sucking hell. Mostly.

I felt a compulsion to document these disappearing landmarks, this very American history.

Hope you’ll join me in both places! I’ll still be here as well, writing about stuff and life. As I do.