Thursday, September 27, 2007

Design Crush

I have been searching the web for seventies design, textiles and the like. I am firmly in the love with the graphic quality of seventies prints. I have always admired the bohemian meets psychedelic meets Victorian design found in England during the 1970's, but haven't had much appreciation for other aspects of the 1970's. How wrong I was! I have stumbled on numerous really cool blogs today and I have to share this blog: Cassapinka. She chronicles the making of a home including offbeat finds and what she does with them. I adore her style and I am enamored with the wallpaper she chose for her entryway. It a gorgeous black & white cherry blossom design from the 1970's (see right. Look at that woodwork too!).

Have I mentioned by penchant for black & white? I love how colors pop off black & white (like intense red, turquoise, lime green, pink & orange) Black & white is also unbelievably versatile, timeless, bold, fresh and elegant all at once.

Also look at her awesome finds like the Amy Leonard Sculptural Lamps (July 25, 2007 entry). How cool are they?!? I love the idea of using found objects to create a story under glass. Fantastic, in my opinion. I think her taste in art is grand.

Under the July 14, 2007 post is actually an x upholstered chair I have seen before and really liked...after scanning through her pictures I can't write down all the things I love although there is a picture of another blogger's bedroom and I want that black & white rug for my bedroom!

Yes, I realize I am gushing like a schoolgirl because simply put: I am giddy over this stuff!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fumbling with Design

I have been contemplating design lately. The Holidays are drawing nearer and nearer and I still haven't a clue of what my card design (or designs) is going to be. Do I go elegant, fun, festive, funky or traditional? I really want to do special handmade cards this fact I feel compelled to do them this year. I think a lot of my indecision stems from my being unsure of what my style is (something I have mentioned in an earlier post). I have noticed this frustrating inability to be cleanly and clearly me from my attempts at making artist trading cards (ATC). They aren't me. Rather the cards are a proximity of what I can do in a given amount of time with a certain theme. I ponder the themes for weeks and I am only compelled to do something by the deadline and often it is a compromise rather than any fulfillment of a "vision".

I think it may be time to exercise my creative muscles like I have with writing. For the past few weeks I have not only been writing on this blog, but more regularly writing in a personal journal. My journal has to be some of the most boring writing around, but I am learning to write consistently and not worrying about the quality nor the content as that is not the point. The personal journal is a means of chronicling my life and having an outlet rather than something to entertain others or even myself. I need to do a similar thing only visually to open up my artistic horizons and learn more about myself as a creator. I know what I am drawn to: art with a historic twist; incorporates a story as words and letters are important and beautiful to me; a touch of elegance and/or the ornate; a sense of chaotic movement; bold colors and ideas and an aspect of dark emotion (perhaps even morbid humor) and deep passions. How can I use these elements to create something that is me and that has the quality I desire? That is the question.

I have a circus themed ATC I am working on right now and I have decided to deal with elephants. For some reason I have this idea of an elephant feeling demeaned and angered by how it must pose, perform and is treated with little care for all her effort. I have named my fictional elephant Jade. I think for this theme I will also carve an elephant stamp--it is amazingly fun and gratifying to carve stamps. At right is a little of my preliminary planning for the circus ATC's (by the way the handwriting is the handwriting I have when it is for myself--it is a bit messier).

The other theme in October is orange. Now, I am a lover of orange, but I haven't a clue what my handle is on the color. I think it may be the 1970's...I keep thinking of the oranges found in the decor then (not to mention shag carpeting, macramé, owls, wooden beads, dark wood paneling, avocado green and harvest gold appliances and zigzags) and how many of my peers are now inspired by those same colors from their childhood and the reemergence of the popularity of orange in interior decorating.

In my search of Edward Gorey's illustrations (one of my favorites), I found Reusch Sketchbooks, a blog of an artist who posts images from his numerous sketchbooks. I haven't had a chance to at too many of his art, but what I have is intriguing to me. I especially like the first two sketches on the
Monday, March 5, 2007 entry on first glance.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

See Spot Run

On the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show (yes, it is on NPR) the subject was the emotional life of dogs (the guest was Patricia B. McConnell author of For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend). I am slightly (okay, more than slightly) consumed with my dogs. I bore the hell out of people by talking about them, but since so much of my life is about dealing with them I don't know how I could not.... I do have other topics on my mind and I can converse about just about anything (notice I did not say intelligently as I am pretty unknowledgeable about an innumerable amount of things) as I am willing to learn about new things, yet I tend to come back to my dogs. You can imagine then how interested I was in a radio show devoted to what my dogs are feeling. It looks like I will be watching my dogs even more intently to discover signs of their emotions and also it would be helpful for me to watch human behavior.

I wish people were as easy as dogs to pin down and that they tolerated you to investigate them. Here is what I imagine such a conversation would go if I were to ask someone for permission: "Hey, Bob, would you mind if I followed you around and watched how you interact with others and in daily life so I can better understand you and human behavior, motivation, conversation, thoughts, emotions--basically the sum of life is all? Surely you would be fine with me taking notes and staring at your face for facial movement? And then asked you repeatedly what you are feeling in that moment? What your motivation is? You wouldn't mind the intrusion, right? That isn't really creepy, is it?" How could Bob not give me an enthusiastic yes? I have a feeling (oh, how intuitive am I?) Bob would more than likely run like the hounds of hell were after him. Still, if there were game Bobs or Jennies--their female counterparts--it would be so helpful. Yet, humans aren't like that. We aren't that open or easy to understand even to ourselves and it is certainly not simple to explain ourselves to someone else no matter how willing and nonjudgmental they are.

So much of life is hiding and masking our vulnerabilities, our idiosyncrasies, our flaws, our fears, our emotions and even our strengths that I wonder if we fully understand how we are also fundamentally alike and what makes each person an individual?

My last entry I mentioned how I often feel guilt...I am beginning to understand why I do. I try to place myself in other people's shoes and to ever remain cognizant that each person are dealing with their own set of conditions and that they are just as important in this world at large as I am. I want to abate hurt whenever possible and make people feel they are understood and to help them to either realize or reaffirm that they are valuable. I like to be a peacemaker. I strive to be a soothing influence and this is a colossal ideal--to be beneficial to everyone I encounter (of course the extent would vary greatly--for a stranger I might just be a girl who smiled at them or opened the door for them and for a close friend I ideally am someone who accepts them for who they are and they trust will value who they are). That is who I want to be. Yes, I desire to be liked by everyone because of the opportunities it affords me. I am welcome to ease troubles amongst groups or friends because I am on good terms with each party and I care about each of them. For me to not feel concerned about how another feels and how something I did or did not do impacted them would be analogous (in my little world) to me dismissing them. It would betray a sacred truth I rely on to define who I am.

Yes, there is a certain arrogance in my assumptions and the role I have cast myself into, but we must all aspire to something more to make a contribution.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Lost in Translation

I spoke with a friend I met online for the first time on the phone last night and it is really incredible to finally hear her voice rather than only read what she types. She is completely lovely on the phone. I happen to like to talk to people on the phone, but I also have many problems I am dealing with whenever I engage in a conversation. Is there such a thing as audio dyslexia? At times I have to work rather hard to properly process sounds into meaning and I never know when I will have a very tough time of it. I realize I am using a lot of guessing when I communicate (I often have to play something in my mind several times before I figure out what was said and how to reply) and I there are times when I will hear words I can't understand or guess correctly without unfortunately having someone repeat themselves until the connection is made in my mind. I feel so embarrassed about it and hope they realize the blame is mine and not theirs.

I have a feeling I am not being very clear...for instance there was one occasion when my sister spoke to me and it was like she spoke a foreign language. I heard the words, but they were not being converted into any sort of sense. My cheeks heated up and I became rather scared that my capacity for hearing sounds and then translating them into language was completely deserting me. I kept having her repeat herself and I tried to tell her that I could not understand her at all because of some malfunction in my own brain rather than her being unclear. I think that occasion really made me understand why I have problems with certain aspects of communication and how much I struggle. There are times when I will be talking to someone and I simply can't find the word I am searching for and it drives me crazy. I find that without some time to mull things over I am at a real disadvantage--I fumble a lot. Sometimes I can accept potentially coming off as a fool and other times it is just too painful for me.

I have to admit that I have been feeling moments of sadness off and on this past week or so. I felt sadness because I missed my extended family after I returned home and I also feel sadness from inadvertently hurting someone and not being able to make it right.

I think I shy away from a lot of human interaction because of the potential of hurt. Now I realize it is actually my own ability to hurt, which I am most concerned about. How do you reconcile hurting someone else? I am at a loss at how to deal with any situation where I hurt someone no matter the reason. I seem to come to terms with it only to be confronted with an onslaught of guilt a day later or ten years later. I wish I could know how to healthfully deal with such situations. Guilt permeates everything causing even good things to be dulled. At least someone can know that if I have wronged him or her in anyway I am paying for it and paying for it some more.

I have the sense that all human interaction is quite delicate and when I am feeling most sensitive I read many things as indicative of an error on my part--I have offended someone somehow or I construe some action of theirs (and it can be completely innocent) as evidence of something I did wrong. I realize that some of my feelings are false, but I often have a hard time figuring out what is true. I have too much information coming at me and I have a difficulty processing it all. I am trying to gauge how I am being received (and trying to adjust as needed), interpret language and meaning, the emotional state and reactions from others, my own emotions and trying to really pay attention to information about each individual I communicate with. Are others likewise overwhelmed and confused? Then I spend days later analyzing what I communicated and what others conveyed which usually only brings up more questions and ambiguity.

Perhaps I am merely exaggerating my own troubles? It is all so complicated and amazing how seemingly simple things are so very mysterious....

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Acting Like Glue, or a Rambling Telling of What I Did on My Trip

I am back in the office this morning after returning home around midnight. Yes, the trip ended up being wonderful, but how could it not when you like everyone you are around and also it is in a part of the country which is majestically beautiful? We drove through the night Wednesday (I should be honest and mention I never drove this trip. I hate driving other people's cars as I have less confidence in my own driving than other people do which I then project on others in order to influence and often undermine their opinion of me--this is a pattern as if I am dodging certain aspects of adulthood in the vain attempt to remain ever youthful and irresponsible) and arrived at my aunt's doorstep early Thursday afternoon. I should warn people that the highways and interstates in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama can be rather rough at times while Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina seem to value smooth roads.

The only aim I had when I reached my aunt's house (other than greeting my grandparents and aunt) was taking a shower. It ended up that my grandparents and aunt were at a doctor's appointment when we arrived so I went straight for the shower missing them when they came home very briefly between appointments. My need to be clean once again causes minor problems. Still, I did end up seeing them a few hours later and they are in much better form and spirits than they have been for a while. Of course I missed the Move which I hear was quite horrendous for everyone involved but most especially for my dad's youngest brother. I don't imagine he will ever read this blog (in all honesty I have not disclosed to any family I do blog--strange how we sometimes keep aspects of ourselves from even those we are closest to), but I still wish to acknowledge the huge effort he made.

Thursday evening my grandparents and aunt took us to a model home similar to the house they are presently building and then we went to their house which is framed in and will soon be sheet rocked. I can't tell you how happy my sister and I were to see how excited and giddy my grandparents are about building their house. My grandpa for all his years still has this childlike smile which lightens his whole face in is truly an awesome thing to see and warms this blogger's little heart, dear reader. Their house is coming along very nicely and I can't wait to see it when it is complete.

Friday late morning found us all on the road caravanning to the Seabee reunion in North Carolina. The city of Asheville is rather lovely nestled by the Smoky Mountains. Asheville is also a college town with wonderful artistic character and charm. The downtown is peppered with little cafes, shops and galleries. We did walk around downtown a bit and go through several antique shops in search for a dough bowl for my mom (or biscuit bowl as she calls it) and the next day we were triumphant in our quest (that occupied much of our two afternoons in Asheville). Friday afternoon on our return to the hotel there were a few familiar faces: my dad's older brother, his wife and also as a surprise for my grandparents, my uncle and aunt's oldest son and his girlfriend. It ended up that our party of 10 made up a third of the Seabee reunion and we were 4 less in number than last year. I think our family is infamous (be it good or bad) among the regular attendants of the Seabee reunion, so much so that when my dad pulled up in my sister's car with it's Texas license plates the man who organized this year's reunion (his father is a Seabee) who happened to be in the front of the hotel immediately called out our family's name (they know a contingent hails from Texas).

We were a happy bunch Friday evening keeping amongst ourselves in one of the rooms of the hospitality suite, chatting and catching up. By happy accident we all sincerely like each other. We all have our faults, but in the end we are easygoing, intelligent (without being too esoteric), fun people who know how to enjoy family and laugh often and well. I think we feel a little guilty that we have used the Seabee reunion as an excuse for the past few years for a family reunion. In fact it looks like next year we may bypass the Seabee reunion (depending on the grandparents' health otherwise someone will take them) in favor of an actual meeting around the area my grandparents and aunt now live. Still we will miss the great people we encounter at the Seabee reunion and the numbers are decreasing as the years pass. My grandpa was one of the younger of his unit as he went into the Navy at 17 and it is very interesting to listen to the gentlemen speak about their time stationed in the Pacific. My life would have been far poorer for not meeting the men stationed with my grandpa and their families.

On Saturday night there was a banquet for the Seabees including a silent auction. A daughter of a Seabee donated several custom framed items (all really well done by her) to the auction including a lovely Seabee postcard. My dad bid on it (as a gift for my grandpa) only to have my grandpa outbid him, then to be outbid by my ornery, mischievous uncle. I finally outbid them all and won the item only to immediately hand it over to my grandpa. We had a laugh because all the bidding was for naught, but the money did go to a good cause and it will make a good story to tell within the family.

Sunday a bit after noon we once again found ourselves on the road this time returning to Georgia. We all wish to return to Asheville when we have more time to devote to the area and its many options (no, dear reader, I hadn’t even a chance of even seeing Biltmore Estate to my chagrin). I drove with my aunt and grandma home and my aunt arranged for me to be picked up by a friend of hers after she dropped me off from a fantastic used bookstore I had visited on an earlier trip to visit her on college spring break whilst everyone else went to check out the new house. Find me a well stocked bookstore and I am purring with pleasure. My aunt knew it was a grand gift to me to give me that opportunity.

We capped off our final evening by going to a restaurant with my aunt's friend, followed by an evening talking in my aunt's living room laughing about various stories we told. I know that around my father's side of the family I feel more than accepted, I feel wanted as if they had all the options in the world they would still choose me as a family member. Honestly, I feel the same way.

I think this trip really solidified just how important family is to me and also made me more aware of what my position affords me. As a female I believe we usually are the glue of a family (I am not sure if your family is the same, but if a woman doesn't like her in-laws there is just not that much contact unless her husband is mightily forceful about keeping ties with his family) and as I have no significant other (and certainly no children) I have even more of an ability to devote time and effort on the family of my birth while other family members are building their nuclear families. So although I am sad that I seem destined for a perpetual single status for whatever reason, I am not alone in anyway and I can strengthen an already promising and receptive familial bond between our members.

Also, what I acutely noticed during this trip was the fantastic network of friends my aunt has created and fostered. A friend of my aunt wished to extend her hospitality to my sister and I whilst we were in Georgia. She and her husband were extremely gracious and generous to the extent we each had our own room, a bathroom to share between us and hot coffee waiting for us in the morning (my sister dislikes coffee, but I gladly drank a cup as I am not a morning person at all and I was regularly waking up around 7:30 am eastern time--6:30 my time this trip). Of course there was also the other friend who without hesitation picked me up from the bookstore. I am glad I had the chance to meet both of my aunt's friends again. It was fun to try to find a personal thank you gift for our hosts in Asheville (we both did a little investigating of their house to come up with alternatives which we believed they would enjoy--don't worry it was nothing intrusive, just observing our surroundings) and we settled upon a stained glass dragonfly sun-catcher as our hostess had a collection hanging from the windows of their eating area.

Monday morning we were again on the road--our final leg of this trip. We spoke for an hour or so about all we had done and about our family and we all ended up very happy with the trip and the family we were fortunate to be born into.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


I have no idea what to write at the moment. I had a fairly busy Labor Day weekend what with completing 44 artist trading cards (this included coloring, sewing, stuffing and a lot of cutting). I made some roasted banana cupcakes one day, helped to move furniture and boxes from one storage unit to another and discovered "Pasadena" a previously unknown (to me) short-lived series which was being played in marathon fashion Monday. The show is fun in that over the top, grandiose way that some dramas have and this one is sarcastic and dark as well. One thing which I found interesting was the main character's ultimate choice between what was morally right and family loyalty. I do wish there was another season for the choice to have been examined a bit more. I wonder how much our intentions matter when we make choices? I studied chaos theory only a little in college, but enough to realize that one choice or action has unforeseen ramifications. In my admittedly limited understanding chaos theory is a lot like karma in that one action be it positive or negative ripples through those around you and ultimately returns back to you with greater force.

This afternoon I will be driving with my dad and sister to Georgia to see my paternal grandparents and aunt (my dad's younger sister) and from there we will caravan to my grandpa's Seabee reunion (I will explain this in my next entry next week) in Asheville, North Carolina. My grandparents chose to love their children and grandchildren without condition and in return they receive deep, but mundane expressions of devotion from their family. My uncles, aunts and cousins helped pack up and move my grandparents to Georgia from Iowa only this past month (although the packing went on for nearly a year). My aunt drove from Georgia to Iowa when necessary. My dad and uncle field any legal problem that arises. I am proud of how my family honors and shows through their continual actions how much they love my grandparents.

As I am the oldest grandchild I have had three decades to know my grandparents from when they were in their early 50's to now in their 80's. My parents gave me the gift when I was younger of sending my sister and me to spend summers in Iowa with my grandparents. Those days are baby blue, powder pink and amber hued in my mind. Happy, pretty, simple and treasured. For the next few days I shall be feeling baby blue, powder pink and amber again and the more recent color of purple.

Dear reader, I hope you are blessed with delightful color.