Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Nesting, Rearranging, and the Poetry of Space

Nesting has begun! I welcome it with joy. It is wonderful to have all of this spontaneously generated energy, motivation, and focus. I can really make use of this by harnessing it in service of some household projects that have been nagging at me for accomplishment.

We've been clearing out the former office/guest room/ exercise room and turning it into a nursery for Little Guy (who up until recently has still been in our room) with a craft corner for me! This will be great as I haven't had a dedicated place for my crafty pursuits since I moved my sewing nook out of the living room back when Bear started to crawl. I hope my son will not mind sharing his room with space for one of his mother's hobbies. It is a bigger room than he needs and the girls will have to share, so it's only fair, right?  Space in our home is limited so we need to multipurpose some areas.

Anyway, over the last week I've been doing a lot of decorating and sundry projects in there, trying to give the room a nautical theme. It is looking pretty good although still not quite done.

We've moved H's desk and office equipment into our room. I've also re-organized my closet, cleared clutter from off my dresser and nightstand, and done some general reducing of stuff, boxing things up for Goodwill. I love getting rid of things. I love that sensation of lightening my load, lightening the house.

There are soon to be five of us in this 1400 square foot bungalow. I'm convinced it can be comfortable, even spacious and roomy, if it is efficiently arranged and we keep our stuff under control. And really that can be a very agreeable task, as I believe there is a deep poetry and symbolic resonance to the way we shape our spaces to fit our changing needs, personalities, and desires.

When worked mindfully from an imaginative, soulful core, creating and caring for inhabited space can be a journey of fulfillment and life celebration. I think household chores and the domestic arts only become stifling and tiresome when we take them up from a value system foreign to our true selves, heaping on the "shoulds" and personally inauthentic measures. Easy to do, wonderful to be free from. I'd like to bring more of a sense of freedom, poetry, and soul to my homemaking endeavors. It's a process, but I feel better about everything when I keep those deeper values in mind.

Moving out of the heady and abstract and back to the kitchen etc., ;-), I'm gaining more appreciations for the benefits of clear space for creating a sense of harmony and peace. Clear floors, corners of rooms, surfaces (counters, dressers, table tops, etc). It gives a feeling of expansion and rest.

It's looking like the recent endowment of nesting zeal will be enough to help me pull this off (a lot of clutter has accumulated from the days I wasn't feeling so well). I'm glad the nesting has started early in this pregnancy. Maybe when I'm done reorganizing the house I'll still have time to paint and decorate the laundry room before the baby (due in May) arrives.

I suppose anyone who still reads here (site traffic has dropped significantly since I haven't been participating in blog challenges for a couple weeks now) may have noticed I haven't blogged about my art journal in awhile. The fact is, I haven't been art journaling hardly at all due to being preoccupied with the subjects of this post. I'm sure I'll get back to it, probably soon, in the meantime I'm liking writing about other things from time to time as the inspiration strikes. Anyone who is reading feel free to say hi, I love hearing from you!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Holy Ghost People, 1967, film review and commentary by me

Last night H and I watched a 1967 documentary about a snake handling church. It was called "The Holy Ghost People," and apparently there is going to be a movie of the same title coming out in 2013 sometime. I do not know how much it will have in common with the documentary, which was weird. It was partly weird because it was very low budget with extremely poor quality cameras and cinematography, but that somehow lent an eeriness to the filming that was an atmosphere all of it's own. It was black and white and stilted and occasionally shaky. There was very little commentary. A brief introduction as to what snake handling churches even are was unemotionally narrated, while filmers in a car "snaked" through a small town in the Appalachian mountains, on the way to the destined church service. It was a small country church with about thirty people, maybe less. Several old folks, several babies, there was quite a mix. There were  a few brief interviews and then the service got started.

It was the strangest blend of the familiar and the bizarre. The country church, people engrossed in worship, the group energy (hysteria?) that builds, "manifestations of the spirit", the peculiar little cliches and catch phrases of charismatically spun fundamentalism-- these are elements I've encountered  in various combinations before. **spoilers** All together in one room it seemed a bit much, and yet I sympathized somehow with their purpose, feeling, and fervor. But I would not have felt at ease there at all. When they started tossing snakes around as part of their worship, it was as if the world tilted slightly, that blend of the familiar and the bizarre I mentioned above. Still I found myself devoutly hoping no one would be bitten. And someone was, the preacher himself, quite spectacularly.

He was swinging a rattlesnake around saying that even if it bit him, the Word of God still stands, even if he died (I think he said that, am I embellishing now?) the Word of God would still stand. It bit him. On the hand, quite suddenly and with a vicious hiss. He dropped it and his hand was bleeding. Someone tried to clean up some of the blood that spilled, but he said something to the effect of, "Leave that blood on the floor sister, that's all right." He was obviously shaken and in pain, but he bravely continued to address his congregation, swaying a little. He said sometimes we ask ourselves why these things have to happen, and that he just didn't know. He didn't know why these things happened.  There seems more than a bit of ludicrousness in this assertion of ignorance under the circumstances, but that was completely overshadowed by the pathos of a man who thought to be following God beyond common sense, left alone with the natural results of his folly.

It happens.

He kept talking, they kept praying, his hand kept swelling, the movie ended.

It was one of those moments that I think you don't forget, even if seen second hand. I wonder about the children that were there then, what they are like now, what they think of those things, how they have made sense of their experiences. A follow up on all that would be an interesting study. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sweet and Spicy Crock Pot Beef Recipe

I don't often craft recipes, but yesterday I tried an experimental combo of my own invention in the crock pot.  It was super easy and came out surprisingly well. I thought I must share it with my loving audience here (and I also wanted to document it for myself). So here goes!

Sweet and Spicy Crock Pot Beef


1/2 can orange juice concentrate
2 fresh jalepenos 
2 pounds stew meat
1 cup water
1 tablespoon honey
1 tsp salt
2-3 tablespoons flour

Blend jalepenjos and orange juice concentrate in food processor. Add to crock pot along with other ingredients and stir till thoroughly combined. Make sure meat is mostly covered, add more water if necessary. Cook on low 7-8 hours. Serve over rice. 

Note: this is quite peppery, so if you don't like spicy food you may want to reduce the amount of jalepenos!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Letter to My Shrink: A Dream About Therapy

So, in this dream we were in your office and you were sitting in your chair as usual. You were holding your hands cupped in front of you and there was a glowing yellow light emanating from them. Curious, I stepped closer to see what it was and three golden balls, of light or fire or something, materialized and began revolving in a circle, ferris wheel style. It was as though you were juggling them, but your hands were still and they were moving on their own power. I was entranced. I reached out to touch one and it turned into an egg yolk in my hand, which made me marvel even more.  Then for some reason I held it to my cheek and it instantly transformed into a baby chick, all yellow and fluffy, healthy, squirming, and with fluttering wings. I laughed. Then I woke up.

Cool dream, yes? I haven't analyzed it thoroughly yet, but I'm thinking the yellow light you were holding represents insight, which when taken and accepted can turn into new life.

Hope you are having a good day and that you inspire such lovely dreams in all your clients. :)


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And I am posting this on my blog because. . . the dream weaver is also an artist. Dreams are a kind of art and so is dream interpretation. Plus I just liked this one a lot. It was so pretty and resonant. Kind of reminded me of the mood of an earlier dream I wrote about here.

Next in My Practice Watercolor Series and a Few Purchases

This is the next in my little practice series of watercolors featuring my daughter's most loved toys. She calls this guy "Puppy Dog". Two year olds,  I've learned, are very literal people. When I showed her the picture she gasped, "It's Puppy Dog! I like it, Mommy. Thank you very much." Too cute. :-)

And speaking of all the wonderful children in my life, Saturday I finally got a chance to make a trip back home to see my family of origin, who were sadly stricken with the flu for sometime causing me to miss seeing them for both Christmas and New Year's! But finally all are recovered and so I made a little day trip to see them a couple days ago, bringing the two kids. H stayed home to enjoy the silence and tinker with his pickup truck. To each their own.

But yes, I was writing about my kiddies, in a more expanded sense. I have an eleven year old sister of whom I am very fond. Coincidentally, she has been doing a fair amount of painting and sketching lately! She proudly showed me some of her watercolors while I was there. It was so fun to see what she is up to and has been working on, and I think she has a flair for it. Her pictures are imaginative, and show a good instinct for color and some knack with lighting and shading. Only, her brushes, paints, and paper are all Crayola or equivalent. I thought that given the level of effort she's putting into her art, she'd probably get a lot of enjoyment out of and see encouraging results with her supplies if their quality was bumped up a notch or two. And since she has a birthday coming up, H and I decided yesterday on splurging slightly and getting her some better art supplies. I love shopping for this stuff, even online. Here is what we ended up purchasing:




Happy Birthday little sister! Can't wait to see what she creates with them! 

Linking to Mandarin Orange Monday and Creative Every Day.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Practicing Watercolor and Existence Take Two

I wanted to practice my watercolor skillz a little, and had the idea of doing a practice series of some of Bear's favorite toys and things. I'm sentimental about my kid like that.

Hmm, it's funny, but now that I'm actually about to post them I realize I feel more self conscious about posting pics of actual attempts to paint something than I do about sharing my journal pages. I think that's because with art journaling, there are no real goals or rules. It's self expression, an intuitive process, sometimes even spiritual. It's fun to do and cathartic and there is no real way to fail at it. Success means feeling satisfied with your page, and that's that. At least, this is how see it. Whereas with other kinds of painting and drawing, there are more defined principles, measures of skill and talent, etc. I am very much a beginner. But I'm posting anyway, because this blog is about chronicling my arty adventures, so here goes.

Bear's basketball slippers. She really loves these things and wears them all the time around the house; it's too funny. They came in a box of hand-me-downs for her brother, but as they are her size right now she latched onto them something strong. 

One of Bear's favorite stuffed kitty cats. I actually kind of like how this one came out.

In a very different style, here is a journal page I reworked the other day. This is one I had done for the Fall Fearless and Fly challenge, but I was not liking the results very much so changed it up a bit:

You can see the previous version here. I kept the quote from the challenge "Existence really is an imperfect tense that never becomes a present", layered some more paint and stuff, did some scraping through the now many layers. I like the page much better now.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Art Therapy Monster

Lately I've been enjoying learning a little about art therapy and practicing some interventions on myself. Toward those ends, I read all the blogs by art therapists I can find (and I wish more of them blogged as I haven't found all that many). However, the few I do read are pretty awesome and today one of them, Carolyn Mehlomakulu, did a post on metaphorizing problems into monsters via art media of some kind. Rather than elaborate on the dynamics here by quoting too extensively, I'll link to the post in question and encourage people to go have a read. It's interesting stuff.

At any rate, thus was I inspired to create Fran The Tired Monster.

Let me tell you about my monster. I have three children under three. (Well, one of them won't be born for another few months yet, but she still has all kinds of ways of making her presence very much known. So practically speaking, I feel I have three under three already.) I've always wanted at least a few kids and I think there are advantages to having them close in age. Realistically, though, I expect that most of those advantages are things we will be experiencing more in the years to come. Right now, I love my babies bunches but I'm tired a lot.

It so happened that I was particularly tired by the time I got some time to myself today, as I'm fighting off a cold and so is Little Guy, and neither kid was good about taking a nap this afternoon (erm, is this all starting to sound too Dickensian)? I ended up hiring the teeenager across the street for an hour of babysitting so I could rest. Whilst relaxing and skimming the feeds on my google reader, I came across the post mentioned above and thought, "Ah, yes, this is what I will do right now. Make a portrait of my monster of woe."

And so, here is Fran, poor girl:

I didn't actually finish her by the time the kids came home, but that was okay because I set Bear up with some art supplies and we worked together companionably for a bit while Little Guy played on the floor. It was kind of fun-- blending feelings of self pity and humor into an understanding monster that I now have some affection for.

 I think, after the kids are settled for bed, Fran and I will satisfy a pregnancy craving and treat ourselves to a bowl of mint chocolate chip icecream. With vanilla wafers and whipped cream and bananas. Now that is the way to make friends with a monster. :)