Monday, November 30, 2009

The Long Sweetening

"You know what Granny used to call molasseys? the long sweetening. Reach me some of that long sweetening, honey, she'd say at the breakfast table. I can hear her now."
~Fair and Tender Ladies, Lee Smith

Long sweetening was so called because of the time it took to cook and stir the cane into syrup, and also because of the way the flavor lingers. When new, the cane is sweet like white sugar, but when slow-cooked over an open wood fire down to the deep sulfured pitch that we know as molasses... long sweetening. Southern folks used it to sweeten their coffee (and some still do) and poured it on biscuits instead of honey or jam.

We had a wonderful (and delicious!) Thanksgiving weekend in Port Angeles with Steve's family. I really enjoyed meeting them and spending time with them. While there, Steve and I spent one evening parked across the inlet, below the rise of Hurricane Ridge and the glittering teeth of the Olympic Mountain range, watching the city lights twinkle on the water. We could hear the breakers pounding like thunder from the Sound against the beach behind us. It was beautiful and peaceful... and it gave way to an "Aha!" moment. I realized what the difference is in my relationship with Steve. It's not just that I love him, but that I love being with him. I have always wanted someone just to be with... and he makes it so easy, so comfortable, so.... inviting. It doesn't matter if we're doing something fun, something mundane, or even if we're absorbed in our own projects at opposite ends of the house. It's good just to be together. And when he holds me? Well, the rest of the world just disappears.

On Friday Steve and his brother went fishing. I spent much of the day talking to Bob (Dad). We talked about everything, but mostly what it's like to loose a mate. He revealed a man who refuses to be immobilized by the grief he still feels over losing his wife (who died nearly two years ago), but who isn't sure how to proceed (I could relate). He also revealed a man who has such deep love and respect (and hope) for his sons that it was breathtaking. The finest symphony will never compare to the beautiful strains I heard that day. What a lovely man. I'm honored to have shared tears with him.

I feel a deep stirring within me, as if something that has been cooking over a low fire is now ready. It's as if, all my life, I've been sweeping the wooden paddle through this vat of goo and it's finally reached a perfect point of richness, of stickiness even, of something that's worthy at any table. This part of my life is the long sweetening, that acrid rich, sticky-sweet flavor that cannot be ignored, denied, or resisted. As if I'd want to. Reach me some of that long sweetenin'.

"... I said to myself, Ivy, this is your life, this is your real life, and you are living it. Your life is not going to start later. This is it, it is now. It's funny how a person can be so busy living that they forget this is it. This is my life."
~Fair and Tender Ladies, Lee Smith

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Black Ink Pad Designs

Will wonders never cease?! Three posts in one day?! Let alone one week? Do not attempt to adjust your computer screen... it's all good! I just wanted to take a moment to announce the launch of Black Ink Pad Designs where I'll be selling the cards, art, and crafts that I create. Please stop by, take a look, let me know what you think, and hey... place an order!

Bonus Round!

I couldn't resist sharing this. My friend Fran posted it on Facebook. Her kids decided to very artfully, in an extremely amusing way, rearrange her nativity. It truly made me laugh out loud. It's one of the funniest things I've ever seen on the internet. What follows is her description. Enjoy!

"Here is what they did to my Nativity. Please note the Bionicle in a Horse Stance on top. He happens to be on his "cell phone" calling his wife. (Josh's MP3) The wise man to the right is "camel surfing" and Mary is in the "Honey Bucket". The mini lego figure next to baby Jesus is the nanny and Joseph is catching a nap up in the loft area on the left. There is also an angel riding on a camel and chasing down another mini-figure who is running for his life. I'm not sure why there is an upside down mini figure hanging where the angel is supposed to be."

Saying Grace

First off, I'll get the news out of the way. The craft bazaar went well. Attendance wasn't quite what was expected and sales were slim, but all in all, it was a good experience. I'm looking forward to doing others... lots of others!

This will likely be my last post until after Thanksgiving. We're heading off to the Olympic Peninsula to spend time with Steve's family. So, I hereby wish all of my dear readers a most wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! Keep it simple, don't sweat stuff, and enjoy the little moments.

Now then.

I have a lot to be thankful for on Thursday (and everyday). A whole lot... health, love, forgiveness, creativity, humor, friendship, good bean, warm knitted slippers (thanks Mom!), passion, snuggling, home, tenacity, courage, bed, laughter, rubber stamps, paper, ink, contentment, facebook, this blog, my fleece bathrobe, a good name... so many other things. Needless to say, I'm overwhelmingly thankful for being so graced to have Steve in my life.

Thursday also happens to be my Dad's birthday. He would have been 83 years old. Dad is one of my muses and my favorite picture of him graces my art studio (along with a picture of Grandma Schmutzer and one of Steve). I am so thankful that I'm his daughter, as daunting a task as that is. I'm forever grateful for the creativity that I inherited from him and for the vision to be able to pursue an artistically creative life. I wish I could sit with him and share my work and let him know what joy I find in it... that the creativity he denied himself lives on regardless.

For the time being, I am irrefutably and gloriously happy. It's been a long time coming, but currently the trail is easy and the scenery is breathtaking. It was worth the effort. Isn't it always?

We only get out of this life what we put into it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

How Bazaar

It's been a busy couple of weeks getting ready for the craft bazaar tomorrow. I'm excited, nervous, anxious... and I think ready (thanks to much love, support and effort from my mate). It's a strange feeling to think I'll be plying my wares to complete strangers. That ol' demon External Validation is really trying hard to finagle his way into the mix. I've been having whacked out stress dreams all week (when I can sleep), including one about running a flying cow ranch. Yes, the cows had wings. Yes, the cows, like seagulls, shit everywhere! The chihuahuas from the night before were only slightly easier (but much more annoying) to deal with.

The weather has been very supportive of my Muses. It's been raining all week long... the kind of weather that makes me want to hide in my craft room except for necessary and frequent trips to the coffee pot. I've never been so productive. Sure, it's out of necessity, but that unstoppable feeling feels good. It's the old adage of the more you do a thing, the more you're inclined to do a thing.

I had a wonderful birthday. Steve treated me like a queen all day - I actually got yelled at for doing laundry! As in, "What are you doing?! Get the fuck away from that machine!" My present from him was scissors... all kinds... big ones, little ones, titanium coated ones, wire & tin snips. I know he felt it was sort of a cheezy gift compared to the 12-string guitar that he initially wanted to get me that I talked him out of (my playing prowess just isn't worthy of a 12-string, plus I have so little time these days), but all the jewels in the world couldn't have made me happier. Swear, I find romance in the quirkiest shit. I opened the box, saw all those scissors and immediately had to fight back tears. I'm never so dazzled by a guy as I am by one who can see a need and fill a need without a word being said. I don't care if all of the scissors eventually get worn down to nubs, I'm never getting rid of them. He also made me steak and shrimp for dinner and took me out to 31 flavors for ice cream for dessert. All in all, it was a fine day.

Alas, I must get busy. I've lots and lots to do before tomorrow... and I hear the Muses calling my name.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Total Package

Today I begin my 48th year on this rock. My birthday present came early this year... all 6'2" of him showed up on my doorstep one day in July and my life changed for the better in an instant. Wrapped up in one package, I received so many gifts that day... trust, respect, acceptance, support, and not the least of which, love. I couldn't ask for more. I never even dared ask for this much. I am, in short, happily overwhelmed by Steve's presence (and presents) in my life. He brings out the best in me... how can I not shine with that much love in my life?

He spent half the weekend helping me cut paper (he volunteered... I didn't ask) and get ready for the upcoming craft fair this weekend. It blew me away to realize that... I dunno... that not only do I have a man who wants to be in my life, but one who wants to participate in it. Yesterday he pondered aloud, "What birthday present do I get for the woman who has everything?" I replied, "In the words of King Arthur, 'Simply love her...'"

So, you'll pardon me if I wax toward the smarmy edge of things. Hey, it's my birthday... I get to... and a happier birthday there's never been.

Please forgive me
If I act a little strange
For I know not what I do.
Feels like lightning running through my veins
Everytime I look at you

~Please Forgive Me, David Gray

Thursday, November 12, 2009

How to Save Your Own Life

Today is the second anniversary of this blog. But it feels more like a decade has passed since I first, with a heavy sigh, posted the words, "Alright, alright! I give up already!! It seems like forever that friends and admirers (no one has any standards anymore, I swear) have been nudging me to slap a blog into existence. So, here's my attempt."

I never expected it to last this long or mean as much to others as it has come to mean to me. As so many of you already know, it began as an attempt for me to deal with the inundating flux of feelings I was floundering in after losing John. It was like riding a tricycle through mud... I was getting nowhere fast. Solo introspection just left me in tears (talk about inundation!). I needed to get stuff out. I needed a sounding board... a wailing wall of my very own. So, bowing to the pressures of others (Thanks, Bill... Thanks, Laura) and creating this blog is one of the best things I've ever done for myself.

What I've learned about myself as I rambled along is: that amid the engulfing sadness there is a deep well of humor; amid the feeling of oh-god-how-do-I-go-on there is a feisty gypsy determined to hack her way through the briars in mere hope of being able spend some time in a sunny meadow again; amid the harsh reality there is a deep, and deeply defining, beauty. All three of those things remain as true today as they did two years ago.  Ultimately though, the notion that was brought home to me (in order for me to be a sane, happy individual) is this: I need to create no matter what whacky rabbit hole that creative force drags me down. I'd like to say I found myself, but if I was lost I was unaware. So, I think it would be more appropriate to say that this blog helped define me. (And I still hate the word blog!)

Clearly, if you've read any recent posts, my life is vastly different today than it was two years ago today. As I read through my old posts (all of 'em, pretentious twit that I am) it struck me (again and again) just how fast life can change. There is no real way to be prepared for any of the changes, good or bad. The best I can do is to keep defining the who of myself and hope that who will be a woman of honor in any situation. All I can do is all I can do, y'know?

And you, my Dear & Faithful Readers, I can't thank you enough for journeying with me; for keeping an eye to my telescope; for holding me accountable for my shit; for not being afraid to say "hey, wait just a damned minute, Barb!"; for caring enough to care that I'm okay; and for loving me whether I showed up crabby and unkempt, wiped out and wandering, or smiling and silly. Thank you for your ideas; for bouncing the ball back into my court; and for throwing me the occasional lifeline. I couldn't do it without you. Thank you.

Two years ago I sat here typing, my heart overflowing with sorrow, pain, and restlessness. Today as I sit here typing, my heart overflows with happiness, ease, and verve. Sure, I'll continue... *smile*... I can't not. Stick with me... I promise you good bean, an open mind, and a willing heart.

~You Are the Best Thing, Ray LaMontagne

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mad World

I've been in a bit of a pensive funk the past couple of days. It's unlike me and I don't like it. I'm not entirely sure what's up. Some of it may be lack of sleep, or maybe the lack of sleep is a result of the funk. Hard to say. But the world seems to have gone particularly mad lately, more so than usual... shootings everywhere, crazed hostility, wacky weather, poverty. On top of it all, I've already witnessed some of that oh, so unlovely pre-holiday apatheticly nasty behavior (And holiday shopping commercials already?! Give me a fucking break!) .

Even through my snazzy rose-colored glasses, the world has gone a slightly darker version of madder, and it's getting to me. It's messing with my usual laissez fair way of dealing with things (a nice way of saying I prefer being a hermit). It seems like every time the news is on lately, I'm found to be muttering, "Oh, just shoot the bastard in the head!" So much for pacifism. So much for compassion. Hey, it's not lost on me. I find it ironic that at the smarmy heart of me wanting everyone in the world to just get along and play nice, my dark half is screaming for viglilante justice.

And yet. There is so much in my world that is right and good and beautiful. So, who am I to feel funkified? Sigh. It's just the weight of heavier things, the gravity of it all. It's the chill wind and the sky going dark at 4 p.m. and... and what? A longing for innocence. Yesssssss. That's it!!! Innocence. You can't un-know a thing once it's known; you can't un-feel something that's been felt. Innocence. We've lost it. Twice uses the word freedom in its definitions of innocence. In losing innocence, we've lost freedom.

Interesting side note: in checking definitions, there is a flower in the "madder" family that also goes by the name "innocence." Irony. Gotta love the flavor of irony... sort of like the taste of burnt tin foil.

~Mad World, Gary Jules

Friday, November 6, 2009

I'm Spatial, So Spatial

I'd like to say that it's been a long week. But no. It feels like a missing week. Suddenly it's Friday night and I seem to have lost a day or two. Or three. I don't know where they went. My muses seem to be playing with my continuum... rat bastards and rat bastardesses that they can be. Serious. When Steve mentioned something about it being Friday this morning, I laughed. I said, "Wrongo, Hunnybunches. Friday? What the fuck happened to Wednesday?" He looked at me like I'd gone off m'crumpet. Indeed, I seem to have. So it is.

I've been lost in my craft - thoroughly and utterly immersed in my projects. Not that it's a bad thing to have happen, but I don't recall ever losing track of days before. Hours, sure. But days?! No wonder my neck and shoulders are achy. It's all for a good cause though. I'm doing a craft fair in two weeks (gads, but I have ever so much more crafty crapola to do!). I'm really excited for it. Although I've sold some of my work before, this will be the first time I've sprung it on a woefully unaware public.

I've never been more thoroughly content... even if it is a little more than odd to wake up and not remember the middle of a week. I'm fine if I have to work out in the real world (although with a current 10.2% unemployment rate, the chances of that happening soon is a bit slim), but what I want - and more than I've ever wanted it before - is an artistic life. I don't care what art form produces income for me, so long as I can create. Sure, there are others far more talented than I. Sure it's a competitive world. But if every artistic person on earth lived by that ridiculously cloying truth, we'd have no art. Imagine if Clapton said, "Well, Muddy Waters plays far better... why should I even try?" Or if Dega said, "No one will ever understand this funky oozing clock shit... it's not even particularly pretty!" Or if, putting down the pen forever, Sandburg said, "Hell, I'm no Shakespeare." Tragedy.

Even for the unknown artist it would be a tragedy. I've known plenty of non-famous artists in my life and my world would be lesser had I not had the chance to swim in their ponds. Besides, I'll stand by what I've said before. Art is necessary. It's as necessary as breathing. You've got to find an outlet for the soul gunk whether the by-product is good or bad.

I want it. Shit, I can't live without it. November is my birth month... my chance to reaffirm my existence. So, I claim it. I am an artist. I will make it viable.

I am an artist... I am a gypsy... coo coo catchoo....