Monday, January 28, 2008

Snow storm

The snow started coming down in earnest on Saturday afternoon. I took a class at the Spokane Art School on Saturday; when I went out to my car just before 6 pm, I was surprised to find four inches of snow on my car. But it was easy enough to brush it off and head up the hill to our friends' house. Patricia and Jason were kind to host Ross while I was in class and Chris was in Appleton, Wisconsin, for the annual trivia contest.

Ross and I drove home around 9 pm. The snow hadn't relented, and I knew that I had better do some shoveling before bed. As I worked on the driveway, I watched drivers try to maneuver their cars on the unplowed street. Two cars got stuck, but my neighbors and I helped push them out. And still, the snowfall was thick and fast. The night was pretty and quiet.

I rolled out of bed Sunday and immediately looked out the window. Lots more snow. Ross and I ate a quick bowl of cheerios, and I dressed for another round of shoveling. I was supposed to usher at church, but I was having my doubts that we'd be having services. Then the power went out. Since our church is only a block away, I assumed they'd lost power, too. I tried calling the office -- no answer. I figured that folks were smart enough to stay home and stay safe and warm. I kept shoveling. The power came back on in a couple of hours.

Meanwhile, Ross was supposed to finishing a writing assignment that he should have finished in school. I'd been very displeased that he hadn't been doing the work in school, but I was trying to keep my cool about it. After working outside for almost two hours, I came inside to find that Ross hadn't written a single thing in that whole time. Much anger and frustration rose up in me. I didn't totally "lose it" with him, but he got a long lecture about responsibility, work, goals, etc. He cried a little -- his normal response when he has blown it and he knows it. I laid out the consequences: no screen time (tv and computer time) for Sunday, and if he didn't finish by the deadline that I set, he'd be grounded for a week, which means only school and home, no friends, no screen time. I told him that he might regain his Sunday screen time if he finished on time and had done an excellent job. After we ate lunch, I went outside again. My cell phone was on alarm mode, set to ring four minutes before his deadline.

I'd noticed that the still-falling snow was weighing down the trees and shrubs. Our tall shrubs in the back yard were bent over, tips almost touching the ground. I went out with a broom to knock off as much snow as I could. (Unfortunately, I was too late for the hawthorn in the front yard. A large branch cracked high in the tree. We'll have to saw it off when the weather improves.)

As I worked in the back yard, Ross came out, all dressed for the snow. He still had a lot of time left before his deadline, and my first internal response was anger -- what the hell does he think he's doing out here?! But I tried to keep my composure when I saw his face was bright and happy. He told me that he had finished his assignment, and that he thought that I might need some help.

Some help? Oh my God. I was getting exhausted. And my son was offering me his help. This from a child who often lives in his head and does not seem to think much about others. I was grateful and thrilled. I felt the tears well up in my eyes a bit. He wanted to help me.

So. I brought out a second broom for him, and we knocked snow out of the hawthorn branches. He realized he couldn't reach very high, but he thought that he could climb up into the tree and knock off more snow up there. So I gave him a boost, and up he went.

He was so happy to be in that tree! He was careful as he climbed, and he did what he could. And then we went to the hawthorn in the front yard and did the same thing.

Finally, the snow stopped as evening fell; we had about a foot altogether, the most this area has seen in approximately 15 years. I had spent the vast majority of the day moving the snow, and I ached. When Ross asked about regaining his screen time, I smiled and told him why he'd earned it. First of all, he had finished his assignment on time and had done it well. But more important, he had come outside and offered to help me of his own free will. That meant a lot to me.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Top 7 from 2007

I'm joining the Small is Beautiful blogger group. (Hence, the "Passionate Blog" badge in the margin). The group manifesto is:
"We believe stories are valuable, no matter how many people read them.
We believe following your passion is more important that watching your site meter.
We believe in the handmade, the first try, the small start, and the good effort.
We believe that small is beautiful."

You can see posts for "Small is Beautiful" here.

Magpie Girl is posting "Top 7 from 2007" lists from fellow bloggers, in an effort to highlight some of the blogging gems out there. You can access some of the lists here. I really liked this idea, so I decided to pick out my own Top 7. I picked these for their passion and honesty -- they are the best representatives of what my blog is all about.

Sometimes, you've got to take the leap
Japanese lantern drawings
Pictures from Manito Park
Collage therapy
Autumn thoughts

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Gratitude chains

If you click on this link, you'll see Yolanda's wonderful blog post about gratitude. I quote: "Gratitude Chains are made up of links of appreciation for what contributes to the people and things we care about." For example, think of all the people that labored to get food from the field to your table. Isn't it a miracle? I am grateful for abundance of the land, and the work of many hands, that allows me to nourish my body, mind, and soul with good food.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Derby results

Saturday was the 2008 Pinewood Derby for Pack 344.

Chris helped race the cars. Each car is raced three times, once on each slot on the track. The top 15 cars move on to semifinal heats, and then the top three race in another round. Plus, the open class cars (made by siblings and parents) all race as well. When you have 38 Cub Scout cars, plus approximately a dozen open class cars, it makes for a long race day.

Ross' car ran well. He was 6th in the first round, and then 5th after the semifinals. Not good enough for a trophy, but a mighty fine showing.

Ross was very excited in the first round.

Here's Chris' car (boat) at the starting line. He took off the seats for better aerodynamics.

Here's my car at the finish line.

I came in second in the open adult class, and Chris came in third (out of 5 total). I was amazed! One of my wheels was periodically rubbing on the fender, but I guess it behaved itself in the races. Chris and I both won large chocolate bars. My car also got an honorable mention ribbon for design. "Bling Thing" certainly attracted a lot of attention -- it was the shiniest thing on the track.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Starry Night at Jefferson Elementary

There were a lot of people at "Starry Night," the annual art night at my son's school. My booth was very busy! Lots of folks looked at my art quilts and dolls, and lots and lots of kids (and some parents) made ATCs. It's amazing how excited kids get when you give them a table of stuff and some glue and let them go nuts.

Instead of sticking to the trading card format, some kids made larger pieces. These girls made collages on felt backgrounds.

I had some requests to teach the kids how to make art dolls -- from girls and boys. I may do that next year, if I can figure out the logistics. I certainly plan on participating next year. It was a blast!

2008 Pinewood derby entries

It was a lot of work, but we all finished our Pinewood Derby entries on time.

Ross' entry is the "Aero-X," a simple but cool design -- the two holes are drilled through the entire length of the car.

Chris decided to stick with his boat theme from last year. This year his entry is "Gone Fishin'." He cannibalized a plastic toy boat for parts. (The fisherman will not be riding on it when it races.)

Notice the fish-finder and live well in the middle of the boat. Do you think the camouflage paint-job will hide it from the bass?

This is my first year entering the Pinewood Derby. I think I'm the only mom who entered a car this year. My car is based on Liberace's 1961 Rolls Phantom V, which was covered in Austrian crystals. My version is the "Bling Thing," which is covered in approximately five dollars' worth of rhinestones.

The fenders are plastic parts I bought from the Boy Scout shop. I painted them and glued on rhinestones, then glued the fenders onto the car.

I drew the little details with a Pigma Micron pen.

The vanity plate in the back says it all:

If you ever thought that I might be a bit obsessive/compulsive, this might be all the evidence you need. Is it sparkly enough for you?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

What my name supposedly means

What Judy Means

You are fair, honest, and logical. You are a natural leader, and people respect you.

You never give up, and you will succeed... even if it takes you a hundred tries.

You are rational enough to see every part of a problem. You are great at giving other people advice.

You are a very lucky person. Things just always seem to go your way.

And because you're so lucky, you don't really have a lot of worries. You just hope for the best in life.

You're sometimes a little guilty of being greedy. Spread your luck around a little to people who need it.

You are balanced, orderly, and organized. You like your ducks in a row.

You are powerful and competent, especially in the workplace.

People can see you as stubborn and headstrong. You definitely have a dominant personality.

You are a free spirit, and you resent anyone who tries to fence you in.

You are unpredictable, adventurous, and always a little surprising.

You may miss out by not settling down, but you're too busy having fun to care.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Busy week ahead

This is the current state of our dining room table:

The Pinewood Derby is this weekend! Chris found it easier to work at the dining room table than in the basement, and I had no objections. Last night we decided just to leave the mess as is, since none of us is done with our cars yet. (Yes, I am making a car this year. It's based on a real car, but a very odd one -- you'll see.)

The other big event this week is Starry Night, an art night hosted by Ross' elementary school. I'll be hosting a booth where kids and parents can make artist trading cards (ATCs). I've been making a few samples; I like how this one came out.

I'm really looking forward to this -- there's something really special about watching kids make art, especially when it's unstructured "play" time.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Enough snow for you?

We woke up to more snow this morning. I love snow, but I am starting to tire of it a bit. A day off from shoveling would be nice. I am glad that Chris and I are both healthy enough to shovel this year. If we had gotten this much snow last year, we may have had to pay someone to shovel for us.

Chaplin ventures out to our backyard almost every day. He even tiptoed in the snow this morning, just enough to see that there was no dry spot for him to sit in.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"Blue dreadlocks" art doll

I finished this art doll yesterday. We've had grey skies and lots of snow, so I had to take the pictures inside. It's not my favorite lighting, but you can see the details fairly well.

The doll is a large version of Belinda's icicle dolls. (Click on my "art dolls" label, at right, for more details.) The body is pieces from my scrap bag, free-motion quilted onto felt -- a technique I learned in Alma Stoller's class at Artfiberfest. I loosely crocheted ribbon yarns on a big hook to make the dreadlocks, and then sewed them into the top seam after I stuffed the doll. The face is drawn with a Gelly Roll pen onto muslin.

Some of the seams between the fabric scraps were loose, so I decided to embellish with beads, sequins, and embroidery, mostly along those seams. One of the reasons that I love embellishment is that it hides my mistakes! And hey, no piece is really "mine" until it has some beads on it.

This is a gift for a friend. She may well see it on the blog before she gets it in the mail. I hope it's a pleasant surprise when it arrives.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Random tales, lots of photos

We had a beer-brewing party at the Crowleys' house this weekend. Patricia wanted to try out my camera, and she took some fun shots. Here's Jason:


Chris and I:

And our guest photographer, Patricia:


I've been walking more. By January, I realize that winter is going to get tiresome very fast unless I spend some time outside. This weekend, I was walking in the Manito Park rose garden and discovered that someone had left a single red rose on the sundial. I thought that was rather romantic -- time fleeting, the delicate beauty of a rose, everlasting love . . .

Today the rose was snow-covered. I gently pulled it up and discovered that it was still quite red.

I was feeling low as I walked, and found myself searching for something, anything that would cheer me up a bit. Then I noticed the moss on the stone wall, and the snow clinging to the small rocky ledges. Life and beauty linger on.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Pay It Forward

I've been seeing this offer on various blogs, and I finally decided to jump in and join the fun with Inga at Cotton Picker:

“I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, which is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.”

What better way to start the week than to share a bit of yourself with others? Thanks for inspiring me, Inga!

Friday, January 4, 2008

January thaw

We woke up to a thawing, drippy world this morning. Ross started to put his sneakers on this morning, but I told him he was going to be slogging in slush today, so he'd better put his boots on. As we walked to his school, we skated on sidewalks where the compacted snow had condensed to ice. Ross slipped once, but he managed to catch himself with his hands, avoiding wet pants.

My boots are fairly waterproof, but they didn't withstand the onslaught today. I was kicking slush away from street drains, hoping to prevent flooded intersections when it started to rain. (And yes, I do like to play in puddles.)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

New Year's cards

For the past few years, I've been sending out New Year's cards instead of Christmas cards. I like getting Christmas cards from friends and family, and I like to send our best wishes, but I find myself more and more pressed to get cards out before Christmas. One year, I received a New Year's card from an old friend, and I thought it was a great idea. One less task to stress over!

I wrote the letter a few days ago; today, I assembled everything and will mail them later -- gotta go to the post office and have them weighed, to make sure I have enough postage on them.

Next, I can think about taking down the Christmas decorations. . . .