Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking back

In 2010, I …
  • Survived 4 months as Lauren’s single parent. Barely.
  • Spent a fun couple of days with her in New York.
  • Rowed on the lake in Central Park, and danced in a subway.
  • Found out why my ankle hurt so much, and spent six weeks in a cast.
  • Saw whales off-shore, and many dolphins close to shore.
  • Spent a wonderful birthday alone at Big Sur.
  • Hiked quite a lot. Fell hard while doing so. Ouch.
  • Made a slow-stitched garment, a la Alabama Chanin.
  • Attended a Civil War re-enactment.
  • Entertained Australian visitors (always welcome!)
  • Fed a lot of friends, and let them feed me.
  • Made a dress and a cardigan and about 50 gifts.
  • Flew downunder, where I drank tea and viewed great art with my sister, explored caves with her and my father, snorkeled with my children and grandson, planted natives with my great-niece, discussed spirituality and quilting and business with my girlfriends, and had more special times than I can sum up in one sentence.
  • Knitted a lace cowl.
  • Started sketching again.
  • Got back to yoga.
  • Became more introspective.
Here’s to another good year. I think it's going to be interesting.

The world's fanciest lunch bag

The world's fanciest lunch bagRemember when I said that I don't care for fold-over lunch bags, because they lack a handle? Well, then I found Heather Bailey's Jack & Jill pattern, so had to buy and make it. At last, a project worthy of my precious PippiJoe fabric. I didn't have quite enough, so extended it with some embroidered linen from a thrifted skirt. The result is so fancy, so formal looking, that I feel I should be taking it to the opera, not to the office!

I'm going to test drive this baby before I pronounce judgment on it, but right off the bat it seems too fussy for practicality. You have to fold in the top sides, fold it down, secure the velcro, tie the ribbon .... really? Am I just being lazy, or is this too much work? I'll let you know in a week.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Art at the Skirball

Taking advantage of my time off work, I took myself up the hill to the Skirball Cultural Center this afternoon so I could enjoy Free Admission Thursday :-) There's currently two exhibits of interest to me there (well, three if you count the permanent Noah's Ark installation, which is tons of fun).

1000 Journals ProjectThe first is the 1000 Journals Project.

Journals on displayTwelve of the original 1000 journals are on display; many more are represented on the walls and computer screens.

Adding to a journalThere are over 30 additional "in-progress" journals provided in the exhibition space, along with pens, paper, magazine pages, glue, and other journalling tools and materials. Even the youngest visitors are encouraged to contribute.

At first I didn't think I'd journal myself, but suddenly I wanted to. I made a very personal page, then snapped the book shut and walked suddenly away from it. It was like sending a Postsecret; putting something out there that was so very private. It felt risky but cathartic.

More awesome than that, was the Maira Kalman exhibit. What a wonderful artist, what a quirky world view, what pleasure and joy is in that room. Besides her peerless illustrations, I loved seeing her textiles and collections, and the watches she designed with her husband, for M&Co.

If you get a chance, go go go. Both exhibits run till Feb 13.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bun in the oven

My curly girlTwo days ago she emailed me, "Any chance we could Skype tomorrow? xoxoxox." Then yesterday it was, "Please turn your skype on! I have the cam set up and everything lol."

When I saw it was both her and Tony on camera, I had a feeling there was some Big News to impart. I was right.

My curly girl, now 22 almost 23 years old, is having a baby.

I admit to a *facepalm* when they told me. After all, they had just decided to postpone their May wedding until they were better on their feet. Now they're looking at getting married next month.

But they are excited, so I am too. Sure, the timing isn't ideal, but it hardly ever is, right? There are now three pregnant ladies in the family. You know what this means ... I need to get cracking on more baby gifts!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The King's Speech

If you are a fan of history, royalty, or superb acting, go see this movie. That's all I can say. Go see it.

Christmas Hats

The materials for this year's hats were all from the office supply store. There were lots of groans from the guests when they saw what they had to work with, but ingenuity soon surfaced and some fabulous headwear resulted.
Romy (back)
Johnny, Alex
Lynne, Lauren, Evie

I forgot to photograph the food. But let's face it, an Indian feast isn't really that photogenic without fancy dishes or props. It was delicious, so that's all that counts.

So now Christmas is done, except for taking down the tree, which will probably happen in the next couple of days. I'm not one for leaving it up till Jan 6th, as my mother did. In many ways, I feel that Christmas is the culmination of my year, and once the day is past, I'm ready to clear it away and get ready, mentally, for the new year.

Now all the gifts have been unwrapped, I can share a few more with you.
AMH chook
AMH chookI made Anna Maria Horner's hen with chicks for Little Miss Tessa.
Lunch bag and napkin
Lunch bag and napkinLunch bags and napkins for Nettie and Jessica.
Potholders, trivet and teatowelKitchen textiles for Emma.
BibsBibs for Aiden (including one to celebrate his first Christmas).
CandleholdersAnd for Josh, Lauren and Ian, wooden candleholders. Without a drill press, it was hard to drill the holes completely flat, so the tealights sit a little wonkily. But overall, I think they were impressed :-)

Now for the gentle slide into 2011. I plan plenty of reading, meditation, and contemplation, along with some purging.

What are YOU doing this week?

Friday, December 17, 2010

One week to go

We're on the countdown to Christmas. Last night I thawed out 19 batches of frozen cookies, and bagged them up for workmates and teachers. But first I filled the tins to send to U.S. relatives. I've been waiting till the last minute to mail the domestic gifts, not wanting the cookies to go stale. However, a mad search in the garage revealed the sad truth that I'd used all the boxes and bubble wrap on the Australian mailing. Ack.

So today I brought home the necessaries from work: MORE than enough cartons and packaging material. Tomorrow morning will find me in line at the post office, much later in the month than I find comfortable. I doubt I'll do cookies for mailable gifts in the future. While I still think that food gifts are delightfully gender- and age-neutral, "non-perishable" is better, I've decided.

One week to go. Oh how I love Christmas. This weekend's list:
  • Mail U.S. gifts. This will be an exercise in practicing patience. I hope to get out of the PO prior to my blood bank appointment at 10:30.
  • Make crackers. Check back for this year's version -- it's going to have a theme!
  • Buy pyjamas for Lauren. I've realized that grownups really don't need new pj's every year. Josh is still wearing the pair I gave him six years ago. Subsequent gifts have been quietly sent to the thrift store, I think. But Lauren is still growing, and, when she heard I was going to skip that tradition this year, she demanded requested that she, at least, should get them. I've looked at the mall, and failed to find anything that will fit her tween body without either showing her breast buds or screaming a brand name, or both. I hope to find something acceptable to both of us this weekend. We may end up with handmade. Wish me luck.
  • Plan menu for The Day. For the past few years, I've made Beef Bourguignon and roasted veggies. It's easy, it's tender, and it's popular. Maybe I'll do it again this year, but maybe not. Josh is not eating beef right now, and of course I am vegetarian, so I don't care what meat I serve. Some of our guests will be Jewish, so ham is out ... maybe roasted chickens? I don't know ... for the first time in many years I'm floundering on the Christmas menu. I'd actually love to just go meatless, but I'm not sure I want to rock the boat that much. What are YOU serving? Inspire me, please!
  • Buy non-perishable food for Christmas. See above.
  • Socialize. We have a party on Saturday night and a brunch on Sunday. I am looking forward to both.
  • The usual weekend stuff. You know: laundry, housework, grocery shopping, grooming the cat, watering the orchids ....
I'm happy. I'm ready for it. Bring it on!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fiesta de la Virgen de Guadalupe

With gorgeous weather (80s in December? yes please) and no particular reason to hang around at home today, I decided to take the train downtown to the Renegade Craft Fair; just to enjoy the day and the presence of crafters, artists, and their wares.

The fair was near Chinatown, one stop from Olvera Street, birthplace of Los Angeles and the cultural center of the Mexican community here.

Baby boy headed to La Virgen de Guadalupe festivities at Olvera StThere were lots of Mexican families heading in the same direction, the little girls in national dress, and the baby boys wearing bandanas and drawn-on moustaches and beards. Today is the Fiesta de la Virgen de Guadalupe, when the little boys are dressed as Juan Diego, an indigenous Mexican who reported a Marian apparition, Our Lady of Guadalupe, in 1531. I knew I'd have to check out the fun at Olvera St after attending the Fair.

Birdenvy @ Renegade Craft Fair
Ashkahn @ Renegade Craft Fair
Julianne Dodds @ Renegade Craft Fair
Michelle Caplan @ Renegade Craft Fair
Krank Press @ Renegade Craft Fair
1. Birdenvy 2. Ashkahn 3. Julianne Dodds 4. Michelle Caplan 5. Krank Press.

Over 150 Renegade vendors and plenty of customers occupied tents in the Los Angeles State Historic Park. If I'd found anyone selling a hat, I would have bought one (it was HOT!) but I kept my wallet safely in my handbag, despite being tempted several times (sorry, artists, but my Christmas shopping is DONE!)

After making the rounds, I walked back through Chinatown to Olvera Street, where there was quite a party happening!

Children dressed up for La Virgen de Guadalupe festivities at Olvera St
La Virgen de Guadalupe festivities at Olvera St
Toddler boy at La Virgen de Guadalupe festivities, Olvera St
Photo op, La Virgen de Guadalupe festivities at Olvera St
Holy water blessings, La Virgen de Guadalupe festivities at Olvera StThere was music, dancing, and long lines to be blessed by the priest, photographed on a burro, or admitted to a restaurant. While I don't generally care for crowds, I find it invigorating to be amongst people from another culture, having fun in ways that are not my own. It makes me feel alive and, perhaps counter-intuitively, connected. The fact that they are celebrating something foreign to me encourages me to open my heart and mind to them, and note our common humanity and joy.

It was, indeed, a lovely day. How was yours?

Next to Normal

As Josh said at intermission, "This is not Oklahoma!" Next to Normal is an in-your-face, disturbing, powerful, rock musical that deals with mental illness, drug addiction, grief, loss, growing up, psychiatric treatments, isolation and dysfunctional family relationships. Those who have first hand experience with any of the above (haven't we all?) might find it extremely uncomfortable. Until the very end, there's not much 'feel-good' about it. But I loved it.

The price of love is loss,
But still we pay.
We love anyway.
And when the night has finally gone.
And when we see the new day dawn.
We'll wonder how we wandered for so long, so blind.
The wasted world we thought we knew,
The light will make it look brand new.
Let it
Let it
Let it
Let it
Let it
Shine, shine, shine.

If you get the chance, go.

Friday, December 10, 2010

11 things your life doesn’t need

I picked up this prompt over at Reverb. It got me thinking ...

What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

Being right
Filling up lists ...

Next year I want to explore spaces. The space between breaths. The nothingness of having little. Lists with only one thing on them. Or nothing on them. I want to let go of my superhero complex. My desire to be all things to all people.

I want to focus on being happy, instead of being right. That alone will shed the resentment. I want to breathe more. Deeply. Expand the ribs, expand the belly. Relax the brow. Just be. Here. Now.

A week ago a doctor told me, "Let NOTHING stop you from going to yoga." So, still in my cast, I went back to class. Four times so far, and in three of them I've been the only student, benefiting from one-on-one accommodation to my limitations and needs.

Why do I so often neglect my own needs? Why do I tell myself that I have to stay at my desk, because I am so busy?

The world will not fall apart if I take an hour in the middle of the day to go to yoga. If I spend 20 minutes in meditation before my commute. In fact, the world will be a better place if I inhabit these spaces, if I welcome the gaps. I don't need to add things to the list, just so I can check them off. Less is, in fact, more. More peace. More love. More of the good stuff.

How will this change my life? It already has.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Cast off!

It was a family affair
It was a family affair
The foot emerges.
Although my doctor's appointment to remove my (second) cast isn't till Monday, I had a little mishap in the shower this morning. I've been using two garbage bags, one tucked into the top of the cast, and the other cinched tight with a piece of elastic, to keep my leg dry while bathing. Last time I showered (I admit it, I've only been showering every other day since this rigmarole started) I tore a hole in one of the bags. This morning I was undressed, with the shower running, when I suddenly realized I had only one layer of plastic handy, and no clothes on. F*** it, I thought. I'll just be careful. I won't get it wet.


A lovely river flowed inside my fibreglass cast, soaking the many layers of padding. It was wet. It was squishy. I drove to work in a quagmire, and called my wonderful prop master husband (who can get ANYTHING) and asked him to please bring home a cast cutter, because I had a stinky swamp foot which would only get more ripe and horrid between now and Monday. He did. He's good like that.

So tonight my foot was finally released from its prison. It was a family effort. Josh sawed. Lauren vacuumed. I drank. Then I showered, without plastic bags. Oh, bliss.

Is my torn tendon healed? I think it might be. It's hard to tell, because ANY flexing of my foot and ankle feels uncomfortable right now. I am still limping, and treating it gently. But I'm hopeful that I can be dancing and hiking again in the new year.

I am SO looking forward to 2011~~!! Are you?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

New journal

Journal, spine and back
Journal, closed
Journal, opening
Journal, open
I enjoyed a wonderful crafternoon with some girlfriends today, where I made a new journal. One hunderd and sixty pages, five signatures, five-hole sewn binding, random papers, some sewn together.

The girls expressed enthusiasm for doing this monthly in '11. I'm going to add it to my calendar, for sure :-)