Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Small, Small World

My daughter's world history class was assigned to watch this video over the Thanksgiving break. I think it's a good way to keep things in perspective this season.

More information about the Miniature Earth project can be found on their website here.

P.S. The comments line might be pulling a disappearing act. If it's missing and you'd like to leave a comment, try clicking on the post title above. :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Since Thanksgiving is tomorrow, I thought it would be a good time to say thanks. Thanks for visiting and commenting. Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement, and for making me laugh, even on the days I think I might be chasing unicorns.

I thought blogging would be a good way to force myself to write and paint at least a little bit every day. I jumped into it with no particular focus in mind. As it turns out, a lack of focus is my focus. It’s worked out pretty well, because I’ve been lucky enough to connect with moms and writers and artists and travelers - all kinds of creative people who share some of my passions and are kind enough to share their ideas. I’m delighted and surprised every time you come back. I know my blog is a mixed bag. In the words of Forrest Gump, you never know what yer gonna get.

I hope you’ll keep visiting, and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Art of Reading Coincidences

I pay attention to coincidences. I always think there could be a message there. The trouble is it isn’t always easy to interpret what the message might be.

I don’t know how many times I’ve sent manuscripts out only to receive rejections all at once, within a day of each other. It doesn’t matter if I sent several different pieces out, or if they were sent months apart. If they’re going to be rejected, the rejections always come at the same time.

Naturally, I find that discouraging. It’s pretty hard not to jump to conclusions about what the universe is trying to tell you. My husband, the unrelentingly optimistic one, thinks this is the universe’s way of letting me get bad news over with at once, sparing me multiple days of misery. This way I spend less time feeling sorry for myself and more time on the business of writing and trying to find the right place for my work. I like his theory, but either way, I require a good amount of chocolate.

I pondered the meaning of all this after my last clump of rejections arrived. My son and I were taking the dog for her nightly walk. I was absorbed in my own troubles when I noticed how clear the night sky looked, and how many stars were out. I suddenly thought to myself that it’d been an awfully long time since I’d seen a shooting star, and wouldn’t it be nice to see one right now?

Less than a minute later I saw it – a flick of white across the black sky, as brief as a blink. I gasped, and then caught myself. I didn’t want to say anything out loud, since I’d probably just imagined it. Then my son, who’d caught my surprised expression, said, “I saw it too!”

I don’t know what it meant. But it did make me feel better.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pods and Berries

No, the title of this post is not a reference to iPods and BlackBerries. Put those down, and go for a walk. Unless it's ridiculously cold where you are. Then make yourself some tea, and look at the pictures.

This looks like a good place to start. See, Mr. Duck thinks so. Okay, back to pods and berries. I noticed we have quite a variety in our neighborhood.

These Chinese golden rain trees line the streets where I live. In summer they provide showers of bright yellow flowers; in the fall, the papery seed cases resemble bougainvillas. The only downside is the seeds take root in my yard - they're tenacious little devils.

I wonder what ever happened to ball fringe. Didn't it hang from things like lamp shades and sombreros? I always think of it when I see these sycamore seed pods.

Here are crepe myrtle berries. The dried out cases (in the top left of the photo) are shaped like tiny sectioned oranges.

These butterfly iris seed pods are almost as delicate as the flowers. They look like they're ready to take flight.

Indian hawthorne berries.

Heavenly bamboo.

I have no idea what these are, but I think they're cool.

Not a pod or a berry. More like a nut.

Here's some desert broom - our version of snow. This kind can give you the sniffles, too.

A magnolia seed pod about to burst.

Jacaranda seed pods remind me of castanets.

Way up in the tree, some palm fruit. Those are awfully big berries...

...and last, some tiny birch cones, about the size of an almond. They look cute on small holiday ornaments.

I hope you have the chance to get out and explore - maybe somewhere other than the mall.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Another Little Poem...

...made up entirely of picture book titles (the last one can be found here).

This is what happens when I spend too long in the picture book section of the library. It inspired a new illustration, too.


Raindrop, Plop!
This is the Rain
Love, Splat
Tick-Tock, Drip Drop
The Rain Came Down
High in the Clouds
Shadows and Reflections
Terrible, Terrible!
Clang Boom Bang!
What’s Up, What’s Down?
Achoo! Bang! Crash!
Now What Can I Do?
In My Heart
A Blue So Blue
Close Your Eyes
Make a Wish
Just a Minute
I Can Hear the Sun
Peace at Last
The Gift of Nothing
A Rainbow All Around
Rise and Shine
Let’s Go Home

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Organizing is Just Another Chore

A trip to the store with the upscale cardboard boxes and frilly coat hangers was supposed to inspire me to get organized. It didn’t work. Not even the expandable spice rack tempted me.

We do at least have a way of dealing with dreaded household chores. Eight of the chores that ought to be done weekly in a civilized household get divvied up. Two chores per week shouldn’t be too much to gripe about. We rotate, so no one gets stuck scrubbing toilets more than once a month.

To help keep track of whose turn it is to do what, we write the tasks on a dry erase board. Sure, it sounds a little stringent, but it helps keep peace. Under each of our names is plenty of leftover space to indicate whether we’ve done our chores for the week.

There’s been some evolution in how we mark off our completed chores. In the beginning, a checkmark or a simple ‘x’ sufficed. Things have changed. Let’s take a look at this week’s chart.

Here’s how my husband filled in his space:

Two little piggies…one for each chore! Don’t they look jaunty? I’ll bet that’s because they don’t have to live in a pig sty.

Now here’s my entry:

Oh, yes, you can tell who the artist is in this house. Those are supposed to be mice. I think the cleaning fumes got to me.

Moving on to my daughter’s space:

Wait a minute. I know she did her chores – I saw her sashaying about with a bottle of window cleaner. I hope she put more effort into the chores then she did in checking them off.

And finally, my son’s input:

I think he has some issues he’d like to take up with the management.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

One Holiday at a Time

You might remember me mentioning the neighbors who had Halloween decorations up in early September. As I passed their house yesterday morning, I was greeted with a four foot pine wreath and Christmas lights. On November seventh. The best part is - they still have a big hanging skeleton and a witch decoration up on their front porch.

These people don’t just rush the seasons, they clump them all together. Happy Hallo-giving-mas. Or maybe Merry Hallowistmas. They could be taking the retailers’ approach and skipping over poor Thanksgiving altogether. I’m starting to see why some communities have rules about decorating.

I wonder if these neighbors take the same approach to everything. Do they skip ahead to read the last chapter of a book, but reread the same Family Circle every month? Did they potty train their kids at six months but bottle feed them ‘til first grade? Do they eat breakfast before going to bed, but stay in pajamas ‘til 3 pm?

Is this a sign of how overstretched are we – racing through special times and letting other things slide? I’m always curious to hear how people manage the stress of the holidays. Most people I talk to don’t really seem to enjoy the pressure of all that’s expected of them. I’ve learned that even if it comes with a twinge of guilt, I enjoy things more when I scale them down.

I’ll be pondering this, while fully expecting to see jingle bells AND Easter bunnies sometime in January.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Best Movie Line Ever

I’ve seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show a few times over the years, but a couple of weeks ago we watched it again with the kids.

Some of their friends had already seen it in elementary school – I thought that was pushing it. When the kids were little about the only things they were allowed to watch were PBS and the Food Network. But by the time they reached middle school, they’d come across more objectionable things on prime time TV. I don’t even want to know what they’ve Googled at friends’ houses.

Anyway, I was glad we decided to watch it, because it contains my new favorite movie line. Besides being hilarious as always, it’s proved to be useful, too.

About three quarters of the way through the movie, after committing murder and mayhem and turning a good portion of the remaining cast into stone, the deviant Dr. Frank N. Furter pauses, mugs for the camera, and pouts, “It’s not easy having a good time.”

It’s impossible for us to picture Tim Curry sporting lipstick and uttering that line, and not laugh. That quote has dispelled family arguments. It’s averted a few adolescent meltdowns. It’s become my silent mantra. I think of it while fighting my way past the herd around the buffalo wing samples at Costco. I mutter it when being forced to pick dog hair out of the clogged vacuum cleaner hose because company is coming. With the holiday season coming up, I just know it’s going to come in handy.

I’m sure the magic will eventually wear off, but until then I plan to get all the mileage I can out of that line. Because, you know, it’s not easy having a good time.

Is there a famous movie line that’s worked for you?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pickled Eyeballs and Other Delights

It's November! I hope everyone had a fun Halloween. I've been too busy to think up a new blog post, so I figured I'd put up some pictures of the festivities.

We gathered a large group of trick-or-treaters together, including my brother-in-law from Mexico and his girlfriend, who'd never experienced this ritual. They arrived all decked out and ready to go, and only got a little discouraged when one Halloween Scrooge told them the candy was "just for the kids." We conviced them to jump right back in.

As for my kids' costumes, I noticed a couple of repeat themes this year. Here's a picture of them from last year, as The Joker and Amy Winehouse:

My son decided to stick to the Batman villain thing. This year he was Two-Face. We went with more of a Tommy Lee Jones inspired look, rather than the more recent burn victim Harvey Dent:

The boy has a wild side. I could've gone crazy with the make-up, but do you know how hard it is to get a 12 year old boy to sit still for hair and make-up? Overall when there's a neighborhood overflowing with candy just waiting for him?

For my daughter, however, it's all about the hair and make-up. I think she settled on Cleopatra because it's the only costume that requires EVEN MORE eye make-up than Amy Winehouse.

Here she is, the Queen of the Nile. Or in this case, the queen of the eyeliner.

While I was searching through the craft box for something for Cleopatra's necklace, I found a pack of undecorated plastic masks. They saved my husband and I from being totally costumeless:

What's black and white and ready to be dragged all over?

Here's a picture of the happy trick-or-treating couple from Mexico:

Under that archway, this looks like some bizarre alternative wedding.

We're now the proud owners of that giant double axe prop. For some reason my brother-in-law thinks it wouldn't go over well with airport security. And speaking of props, I have to give my son credit with coming up with this lovely decoration:

Pickled eyeballs.

That's it. On with November. And for those of you participating in NaNoWriMo this month, good luck!