Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The sun is setting on another year

Winter sky

I'm not feeling poetic or profound on this last day of 2008. I can name the feelings running around inside me: a bit of melancholy and tiredness, but there is also an elixir of calm, hope, and anticipation. Surely a mixed bag if ever there was one.

I guess the biggest question I have for myself today is: do you dare to dream big?

The scared part of me wants to stay in its illusion of safety. (If I don't think big, I won't fall big.) But the rest of me knows the soul-sucking quality of staying in my cave.

We are all born to be more than we think we are. I remind myself that I am no exception to the rule.

Lesley Riley has written a wonderful piece about being specific about your desires. It is easier to create the life we want when we can picture it clearly in our mind. So. I will dare to be clear, and specific, as I think about what I want in 2009.

A happy new year to all!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas!

Scenes from our Christmas:

Nutcracker and star


Opening the first present


Chris and Ross with ball maze


Spore!


Chaplin with catnip mouse

****************************


Now that everyone has opened their presents, I can show you the rest of the doll that I made for my mother-in-law.

Star doll (sunlit)

Joy

And that mysterious photo -- of fleece?

Fleece close-up

Those were 2 of the 16 scarves I made for Christmas presents! The fleece is so soft and warm that I thought of it as giving warm hugs to my family and friends this winter.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The "reveal"

I've received the paperwork from Lark Books, and there don't seem to be any publicity restrictions, so -- here is the photo that they want to publish:

Wrapping paper close-up

Do you remember this? I wrote about it in June. It's a close-up of the wrapping paper I made for my friend's wedding present. Here's a wider shot of the project:

Heart wrapping paper

The book is tentatively titled: Focus: Love. Quoting Lark's letter: "This full-color gallery book will be the first release in a new series that aims to spotlight the talents of digital snappers [photographers] of all experience levels and backgrounds while encouraging readers to look at the world in a new light, seeking the often neglected details of our everyday world. This particular book will showcase images of hearts — from simple to sublime, from obvious to surprising."

I'll get a free copy of book, a discount if I buy more, and full credit for my photo. Mostly, it's a nice way to get some exposure. If you've ever looked at Lark's publications, you know that they print some really nice books.

I think it's fabulous to have my work in a book of hearts! An affirmation of love, alive in the universe.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow days

Christmas lights and snowy trees

At 9:20 am yesterday, Chris brought a yardstick to our front yard and measured 21 inches of snow -- and we've had 4 or 5 inches (at least) since then. Yikes!

Red Christmas light in snow

Ross has started his winter vacation early -- no school yesterday or today. Chris decided to go down to Gonzaga today, so that he would have less distractions while he's finishing his grading. Can't say that I blame him. I'm glad that he is a Yooper (a person from Michigan's Upper Peninsula) with lots of snow-driving experience, and that we have a Jeep that is very reliable on lousy roads.

Ross has already cleared some bushes and tree branches today, and I'll get out and do some more shoveling in a while. Otherwise, it will be a very laid-back day. I have a few presents to finish and a lot of gift wrapping to do -- Christmas is coming very, very soon, isn't it?!

Here are some peeks at what I've been making. (I'll post more photos after Christmas -- I want my presents to stay a surprise!) This is a small pouch, made to hold a notebook, for a musical friend:

Music pouch

Something warm and cozy:

Fleece close-up

Another detail of my new doll, now finished and on its way to its new home:

Star doll beading (on leg)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Amazing news in my email

Oh my goodness!

I am so excited, I should be pinching myself to make sure that I am not dreaming: one of my photos may be published in a Lark Books publication!

I don't think I'll say which photo -- just in case they have restrictions about that sort of thing. But it IS a photo in my Flickr account of one of my craft projects. How cool is that?!! They're supposed to be sending me more info at the end of the month.

I am so pleased that more people may see my work and find some inspiration in it. So grateful!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday, December 4, 2008

New doll, in progress

I love making Christmas presents!

The trouble is, I never get started soon enough. I could make something for everyone on my list, but I usually don't come up with ideas until after Thanksgiving. (sigh)

This year, I want to make a few things. Thinking about what I truly love about this season, it's not the decorating or the cooking, although I do enjoy those, too. I love the "gifting," when it comes from my heart -- NOT out of any sense of obligation. I want to give a part of my self to people in my life, saying "thank you for being you." What better gift to give than something I created?

Here's a doll that's "in progress." She's still evolving, since I'm experimenting a little with her. Don't know where her final destination will be, but I do like her face.

Doll face

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Damp days

It's been very wet and foggy here in Spokane. The gloom of November is heavy upon us. Yet, I am managing to find beauty and light in the droplets all around me.

Wet branches

I wish my camera did better with this low light. The auto-focus gets a little freaked out, so it's hard to get a crisp photo, and the manual focus is very hard to use. Still, you can see how the moisture clings to everything.

Wet berries

Thanksgiving was quiet, just our little family. Ross decided to implement "Operation Mobile Nap." He spent most of the day crawling around in a sleeping bag, ready to nap anywhere, at any time. That seemed pretty fitting for a dark and wet Thanksgiving day. He would occasionally throw his hacky sack at me -- I think he was wearing his helmet just in case I hit him in the head when I threw it back.

Chaplin and Ross at Thanksgiving

Chaplin was in heaven: lots of bodies to provide warm laps, and turkey, turkey, turkey! I managed to capture him in mid-yawn:

Nap time

It's so amazing that Chaplin is still with us. He is definitely an old and sick cat, but he seems quite comfortable, and he has energetic days -- even chasing squirrels in the back yard this fall. We are grateful for every day we share with him.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

(untitled)

In this moment
Fall is brown, rustling, frosty, quiet.
Time for the world to rest.
Clouds and fog shroud these days,
veiling the sun, hushing the sky.
Crunching leaves underfoot, I want to defy
my urge to hibernate. Sleep beckons me.
The squirrels still play, even as they gather
their harvest. I, too, can store
my gladness, and crack the shell open
in the middle of the winter,
a feast to spread onto my art and to share at my table.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful . . .

I am thankful for the frosty beauty that surrounds us in Spokane at this time of year.

Frosty dandelion (in the light)

I am thankful for the challenge of a zine swap! In case you've never heard of zines, they are small, self-published newsletters or magazines, usually photocopied, and usually about niche topics. Alma Stoller is hosting an arts-and-crafts zine swap, and I couldn't resist. I love zines, yet I'd never produced one, so I took the plunge. It was an adventure coming up with articles and photos to include, plus I decided to create unique covers and pamphlet stitch them! Whew. (I am really grateful that I have some publishing experience from my years as a proofreader, or else it may have been too daunting a task.)

Now I can't wait to see what other folks have produced. I am looking forward to some reading adventures as the cold weather sets in.

"Something Extra" zine

I am thankful to you (yes, you) for reading my blog. It is humbling to have an audience. I learn so much from so many bloggers, and I hope that this blog gives you inspiration, or at least a smile once in a while. Happy Thanksgiving to my U.S. readers, and grateful greetings to my international friends!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Busy, busy fall

Angel in leaves

(birdbath at my church)

November is whizzing by. I've been spending a lot of time at the sewing machine, preparing samples for classes.

I taught a 3-hour workshop on art dolls on Saturday. I had 8 people signed up, but only 4 rolled out of bed and showed up. I'm so glad they did -- they were an enthusiastic bunch, and we had a lot of fun. They were happy to get some inspiration.

None of the samples below are finished yet. The middle doll, with the arms, is made from my photos. I printed them on cotton muslin, specially prepared for inkjet printers. (These are Jacquard sheets, and other companies make them as well.) I zigzagged the photos onto a flannel backing, then cut out the doll shape. (Click on the photos for a larger view.)

Art doll class samples

My youth sewing class has been quite the challenge. Four 1-1/2 hour classes, teaching 9- to 13-year-olds how to use a sewing machine. I made a tote bag sample for them, using old blue jeans and plain cotton webbing for the straps. I thought it needed to be spiced up, so I took out my paints and inks and went to town on it. It'll get some writing on it eventually, but I've been using it as is, carrying yarn and crochet hooks in it.

Graffiti jeans purse (unfinished)

My last youth sewing class is this Thursday, and I won't teach another class until February. That means I can concentrate on the holidays now!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Scrumblin'

Been scrumblin'

Here are the little bits of crochet ("scrumbles") that I've done since Artfiberfest. They're going to evolve into a scarf, I think. I love having something to do in waiting rooms, at the bus stop, etc., that is very low-key. Just playing!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Is it possible to reconcile "red" and "blue"?

Saw this link on Jen Lemen's blog, and am very intrigued -- I invite you to check it out:
From 52 to 48

I continue to speak this truth: we are all ONE.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My 250th post -- Obama is elected president

YES!!!

A thousand times, YES! Yes, we did it!

The roar of the three of us in our living room, when Ohio went blue, was pure emotion, pure joy. Chris was still being cautious after that, but me, ever the optimist, started to relax.

Yet when the networks called the race, part of me felt a little scared -- did I dare really believe that this moment was now?!?

What made it real: watching tears stream down Jesse Jackson's face. I said to Chris, "He's remembering Martin."

I cannot forget the heartbreak of my history lessons -- JFK, Martin, Bobby. But oh, what a day this is. Now. So, so sweet. Martin Luther King, Jr. is so proud, somewhere out there.

It is a time to smile, and to dance. But notice how serious Barack looked as he delivered his speech. The gravity of the office is already upon his shoulders. He is ready to tackle what lies ahead.

So, don't give up on that chant: Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Let it be our collective mantra, our reminder of what we aspire to be, each and every day. Let us remember that we are all one. Let us reach out to one another. Let us continue to climb up the mountain.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween 2008

Getting ready for trick-or-treat:

Costume adjustments

Ross was the balrog, the demon that Gandalf fights in The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. We bought most of the costume pieces at one of those Halloween stores that pop up in the fall. Chris transformed a Viking helmet into the balrog's horns, and he fashioned some electrical wire into the frame for the wings.

Balrog costume

Balrog costume back

Chris was a Jedi -- a great excuse to show off his homemade lightsaber (which doubled as a nice flashlight).

Chris' costume

I had found a wonderfully tacky polyester shirt at the thrift store, and decided to be "a wild and crazy guy" (do you remember the Steve Martin Saturday Night Live skits?)

My costume

Ross got a nice haul of candy, and enjoyed playing with it, as well as eating it.

Candy silliness

Artfiberfest 2008

(Sorry it has taken me so long to post -- it's been a crazy month.)

Artfiberfest 2008 was a wonderful, wonderful event. Sharing a few days with fiber friends, old and new, and seeing and learning new techniques and possibilities -- I couldn't ask for anything more.

I didn't take many photos in Port Townsend. Sometimes it feels better to stay immersed in the moment, rather than step back with a camera and assess from a distance.

My first class was Lisa Engelbrecht's "Book of Intentions." I'd taken a class with Lisa last year -- she is an excellent teacher. This year, though, I was not happy with what I created in class. This was no fault of Lisa's! My past doubts and fears came swimming to the surface, and it was an opportunity to learn from those dark emotions. It was hard to accept these tough feelings welling up in me, but I think I will come to know them as a blessing.

Then I dived into crochet with Alma Stoller. I hadn't crocheted since my grandmother taught me some basic stitches when I was in high school. I started an afghan back then, but I only finished a 2-foot square. Well, Alma taught us some funky and freeform stuff -- what a blast!

Crochet scrumbles

I made a very organic, crocheted "bead," and decided that it was meant to be a hat for a plushie. So then, of course, I had to make the plushie on the spot! I spent some of my free time constructing her, in time for Saturday night's show and tell.

Scrumble-hat plushie

Scrumble-hat plushie face

Scrumble hat back

Saturday I learned how to spin yarn in Tracie Lampe's class. She makes wonderful funky, chunky yarns. Our first "lump" was plain roving, spun on a drop spindle, and then dyed with Kool Aid. What great colors! I'm trying to decide what I'll crochet this beauty into.

My first yarn

Looks like AFF will be moving to the summer for 2009. That will make my next October much more sane! I can hardly wait to see what'll be offered next year.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More heartman plushies!

Most of these guys are about 6" x 5" tall.

Heartmen with white legs (1)

Heartmen with white legs (2)

Heartmen with white legs (3)

This last guy is bigger, approx. 10" x 9" -- made for a friend.

Larger heartman

Off to pack! I probably won't post again until the middle of next week -- may you have wonderful days.

Ross carves his own jack o'lantern

Since Ross has been using a jackknife now and again, I figured it was time to let him carve his own jack o'lantern (with adult supervision, of course). He was absolutely thrilled, and he didn't slip or cut himself at all.

He redrew features a couple of times before he got down to work.

Pumpkin faces

I think he was surprised at how hard pumpkin carving can be!

Ross carving pumpkin

Ross' jack o'lantern

It's a space alien (of course!) with extra eyes. Pretty darn cool!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Countdown to ArtFiberFest

I'm in the final countdown till I leave for ArtFiberFest!

My days have been and will be hectic. Making more heart plushies. Doing the round-up of class materials and packing. Picking up the rental car. Making a list for Chris so that he doesn't forget cross country practice, our cat's medication, school picture day -- you get the idea. My boys can manage without me just fine, but somehow, writing it all down reminds me where my days go! I have to take care of some volunteer stuff, as well. (Add grumbling noises here.)

I promise: I will do less, and be, more. Does that make sense? I volunteer a lot. Some of it I love, and some does not feed me at all. My goal is to drop the stuff I do out of guilt. I owe myself that much. I realized how ridiculous things have gotten when Ross was having a meltdown and I felt like yelling, "Not now, honey -- I don't have time for you to have a crisis!" That's not how I want to live. (Actually, it's not living -- it's slavery to my old notions of what I should be doing.)

In the meantime, back to making those plushies, which are giving me lots of smiles.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Heart plushies

Busy, busy, busy right now! Getting ready for ArtFiberFest next week -- I'm excited and a little out of breath!

But I did want to show you what I've made so far for the plushie swap:

Heartman plushies (3)

Heartman plushies (2)

(Click on the photos for a larger view.)

I love how they all have their own personalities. I never know exactly what's going to happen with my creations until they are done; I like that sense of discovery.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sevens

I was tagged by Noni for this meme, so here goes!

7 Things I Plan to Do Before I Die
1. See Paris.
2. Write a book.
3. Learn how to weave.
4. Throw a pot (make one, that is, not break one!)
5. Play in a waterfall.
6. Create a glorious garden in our front yard.
7. Learn to express my gratitude for everything.

7 Things I Do Now
1. Sew! (Never thought I'd really make friends with my sewing machine, but I'm learning.)
2. Photograph beauty.
3. Read, read, read.
4. Cook great food when I want to.
5. Walk.
6. Smile.
7. Breathe.

7 Things I Can't Do
1. Wiggle my ears.
2. Curl my tongue.
3. Stay mad at anyone for long.
4. Dust regularly.
5. Learn to like wearing high-heeled shoes.
6. Take Sarah Palin seriously.
7. Eat menudo.

7 Things that Attract Me to the Opposite Sex
1. A sense of humor
2. Intelligence
3. An open smile
4. Honesty
5. The ability to eat heartily and unself-consciously with a date
6. Holding hands anywhere
7. Comfort with one's self

7 Things I Say Most Often
1. "Ross!"
2. "Ross, hurry up!"
3. "Will you do me a favor . . .?"
4. "Really?!"
5. "Nite, nite, sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite."
6. "Pardon my French." (I swear way too much.)
7. "Ross, please be business-like!"

7 Celebrities whom I Admire
1. The Dalai Lama
2. Bono
3. Jimmy Carter (as an ex-president)
4. Paul Newman (rest in peace)
5. Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love)
6. Oprah Winfrey
7. Annie Lamott (author of Operating Instructions, and Grace (Eventually))

7 Who Get to Do This Now
Whoever is reading this and wants to play, go for it! Let me know in the comments that you're doing it, okay?