I'm really missing blogging and blog reading, so I'm trying out Bloglovin'.
Blog following has been a struggle for me since Google shut down Reader.
What rss reader do you use?
~GK Chesterton, Orthodoxy
I thought I'd be able to carry off this Love Your Blog Challenge. After all, it only asked for four posts over as many weeks, and who couldn't manage that?
Last week's prompt was Beginnings. "Well, I've had lots of those," I thought, "so no problem there." Marriage. Babies. Moving house. Moving again. Moving several more times. A blog. Then this blog. Then one more blog. Renovations. Recipes. School years. Art projects. Crochet projects. Knitting projects. You know, life.
Er, right. But no. No words.
"Ok," I thought. "Obviously the ole noggin doesn't want to look back at past beginnings, so maybe I should start something new." I didn't have to look far. I started a book. I finished it. Whee.
Plenty of new things were going on in life. Meetings, auditions, a performance, a First Communion. I was not inspired to add to that wonderful-yet-slightly-stressful chaos with another project. So I opted for one more week of fallow-field blogging, and I let the Beginnings prompt pass to concentrate on the actual beginning happening around me.
This week's prompt was Ugly. "Plenty of that in the world," I thought. "But do I want to write about it?"
Not really. Well, maybe. If I can keep it light.
And that's when I remembered about Roald Dahl's The Twits. I love the story of the Twits. Whenever I see it on the shelf in a used book store, I buy it so I always have an extra copy to give away to the right person. It's a funny, horrendous tale with a satisfying ending. Here is what Dahl has to say about Mrs Twit and ugly:
But the funny thing is that Mrs Twit wasn't born ugly. She'd had quite a nice face when she was young. The ugliness had grown upon her year by year as she got older.
Why would that happen? I'll tell you why.
If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until it gets so ugly you can hardly bear to look at it.
A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.
I think that's all that's needed about ugly here for now. Go show your sunbeams.
Hello again. This writing is going to be quick and choppy, and a bit random. Please forgive the rust and the disconnects. Hopefully as more posting happens around here, things will smooth out.
She's using the month of April to post weekly prompts and participants are invited to use the experience to inspire their own postings, link up, and discover other bloggers.
The challenge is short and sweet and just the little kick in the pants that I need to get back to blogging. Posting has been on my To Do list for a year, but somehow always gets itself bumped to the bottom in favor of unimportant things like sleeping, or cooking for my family.
Of course I spend lots of time watching television and knitting (The Blacklist, anyone? And my guilty pleasure, Poirot.), or "micro-blogging" on Twitter, or just clicking around on Ravelry and Pinterest. And all those things tie into this week's theme of Interactions and Community. But I have to say this past year I've been interacting online less and in person more (difficult for this introvert, but a growth opportunity) and my community has expanded to include (gasp) more people who actually live in my state. Last summer I even traveled a bit and met some of my internet friends IRL, which, despite the air-travel-induced vertigo and the sleep deprivation, was really super.
But my favorite way to communicate on a daily basis is definitely via e-whatever, and even when I get off the phone after a 2 hour conversation with my sister, I find myself sitting at my keyboard and firing off an email to her full of links to the things we were talking about, because that is how my brain works now. Like the cup says, this is both good and bad.
Now, as this is a blogging challenge issued by a fellow knitter, I would be remiss if I didn't mention my interactions with other lovers of yarn. Of course there is Ravelry, which fills so many holes as a community. But it's my local knitting group that gathers weekly that is so very accessible. Though I don't always make it to the meetings, I do enjoy sitting in the knitting circle when I can, and those friends seem always able to show me how to solve the world's problems each week. Naturally, they help solve my yarny issues, too, which is priceless. And I'm not the only one who also knows how to crochet, which is another warm fuzzy to put in the bucket.
Find yourself some community. Interact, even if you are an introvert. It may tire you out, but it's also a kind of vitamin that will keep parts of your soul from atrophy and keep you growing. And that, my friend, is also priceless.
Like I said, the writing today is a bit disjointed, but as we get on with the challenge it will hopefully improve. Thanks for wading through with me.
Seen from this perspective, the sandbox doesn't look like much, does it? But she's obviously engrossed in her activity.
The sandbox is a much more interesting place when you get down to a kid's point of view.
I think these guys are ticked off at their HOA. No stock tanks allowed in the front yard? So unreasonable.
Yes, we do buy some standard sand/beach toys for the kids. But recyclables from the laundry room also make great scoops, cups and buckets. Or dinosaur stock tanks swimming pools.
And items from the kitchen department of the thrift store can be inexpensive, durable, and more interesting than a typical plastic shovel and pail. This is maybe a version of the Hollywood Bowl? The seating is a bit primitive, but what do you expect when you go to hear a literal ROCK band?
And nothing makes a better roof for Pikachu's beach house than a scrap of wood trim. Obviously Pikachu is still working on his landscaping. And maybe a kitchen remodel.
So, just a friendly reminder: It's always a good idea to take a closer look.
The bunny that used to hang out near our living room windows has been missing for a year or more. There is a rock with a slight overhang where he had hollowed out a dish of soil to relax in on hot days, or to shelter on blustery days. This spot is now sadly abandoned and no longer used by a bunny. No idea what happened to him, but there is now also a small, empty place in my heart because I miss our Watch Rabbit.
In recent days there have been several of what I can only assume to be his kinfolk hopping around the property off and on, nibbling the lawn down to the roots in places (dern it) and generally taking it in turns to look at us either like "Aren't we cute?" or "Keep away, dangerous, terrifying human!"
I managed to capture (with my camera) one of them as he gave himself a little wash. Enjoy.
This first picture says the most: Wind.
Can you see the poor little apple blossoms trying to hang on for dear life? And today the wind is blowing even harder and from the opposite direction. I don't think they'll have much of a chance this year. Most years you can't see any green for all the pink there is.
I was wondering how the lilacs would turn out, since last summer I didn't prune them and they'd gone to seed. Happily, for some reason it didn't seem to matter. Plenty of blooms to enjoy looking at, and even extra to pick.
Some of my daylilies had me worried. There was a week of warm weather followed by two snow storms a few days apart. They had sprouted in the warm and then the snow came and gave them frostbite. Do you see their poor, crunchy brown tips? So sad.
But three weeks later...
If only my phlox showed signs of coming back so strongly. And don't even get me started on the poor strawberries...
But all in all, it's a good spring in our yard. The peonies started out with just a ferny hint of growth and overnight sprouted up to look like some sort of mutant asparagus. With the recent rain we've had the countryside has a lovely fuzz of green across it. I'll soak in the green with my eyes while it's here, because if this summer turns out anything like our previous summer, there will be a lot more of the tan color to look at again soon.
I hope I don't have to dampen my optimism when I go outside tomorrow to see what kind of havoc today's wind wreaked!
I must've mentioned it here before, but in case you missed it — I've lost my mind I am a member of the Armitage Army. I didn't set out to join "the service" but apparently if you admire Richard Armitage's work and admit it publicly, you are automatically drafted. I'm not complaining. It's been great fun being conscripted with so many lovely people. And the creativity! Very inspiring.
But I'm not going to start promoting the fandom here. If you are in the Armitage Army, you don't need any links from me, and if you are not, well, what is wrong with you I suggest you search #RichardArmitage on Twitter, look him up on the IMDB, or just smile and nod, read on for the craft, and never mind my fangirling. Besides, even though this project was made with Richard Armitage in mind, it is essentially a Hobbit project so that ought to hold some interest for the rest of you. And if you don't like Tolkien, I'm afraid we may have to part ways. I mean, really. The Hobbit is the first chapter book I remember picking up on my own, and it has been part of my imagination ever since. I was in Second grade. Yes, I do believe I read Tolkien before I read Laura Ingalls Wilder. Which I suppose says more about me than I thought it did, though I'm not going to wade into those waters here, either.
I made this card for a collective project. From what I gather, most participants wrote lovely, heartfelt letters. Well, if you have it in you to do that I say more power to you. But I couldn't think of a thing to say. He hadn't saved my life (figuratively or literally), I wasn't going to propose to him (I'm already happily married, thank-you-very-much), and he doesn't feature in my dreams at night (not kidding, sorry Richard). It's just that he happens to be my favorite living actor, and seems like an all-around decent sort of person. I'd like to invite him camping with the family. Ok, I'm going to shush now before I get kicked out of the Army.
Besides, I'm afraid my version of "thank you" cards are still somewhat stuck back there in the Second grade.
Dear Uncle Schnozzer,
Thank you for the widgetropple. I never knew they made such a thing! I'm sure it will come in handy when I'm galimphing badoodles next summer.
The weather here is lovely. I hope you are well. Please say hello to Aunt Piquentina for me.
You get the picture. No way I'm sending something like that to Richard Armitage. *sigh* Hopeless.
So even though I wanted to be part of this project, I had no idea what to say.
Thank You would have to be enough, and I would leave it at that. But of course I couldn't just leave it at that. If you know me you know I never can leave well enough alone. Besides, the Thank You was already printed on the card, and I could hardly just autograph the thing, could I now. (No, that was not really a question which is why I didn't use a question mark. Shush.)
I began by printing a few copies of the provided image so that I could play around with some ideas. Here's an early prototype:
Hey. Don't judge! Pro-toe-type. For me it's like brainstorming in 3D. And you have no idea how embarrassing it is for me to show it to you. But this post is supposed to be about sharing my process, so in the name of science... Oh, whatever. I was going for an old fashioned hand-painted photograph sort of look, but I ended up with Thorin wearing lipstick. (It's called Perfection and it comes in Pink!) Yeah...no. This one hit the bin rather quickly. Then I had to fish it out and take a picture of it for you. But then it went right back in the bin. You're welcome.
I did finally come up with an idea I could live with. I'll just get to the pictures, shall I?
If you don't recognize a Hobbit door when you see one, is there any hope for humanity?
Now for the inside:
And, as long as I'm being honest, the back is my favorite part:
Once I had it finished, there were several back-and-forth moments where those little annoying voices in my head said,
"You aren't honestly going to send a cut and paste project to a movie star, are you?" "Um... yes?" "Seriously? You are such a dork." "I know. Shut up."
I finally got the niggling from my subconscious down to a dull roar and stuffed the card into an envelope to mail off to Janine.
Only to realize - I'd forgotten to put Gandalf's mark back on the door! *quelle horreur* You see, I'd remembered it the first time but somewhere in the middle of the lovely process pictured above, this had happened:
I can't even explain it. It was a definite Don Music moment. "What is life anyway?"
Actually, it was the glue. Which I continued to use because only in hindsight do you think of the perfect adhesive sitting in plain view five feet away on your other desk. No. In the midst of the creative moment you only see the stupid, wrong, paper-buckling glue that is right in front of you.
So I filed that bit in my Oval Office:
And then I had a panic moment where I realized I did not have any more of the red border paper and what was I going to do because I wanted it to look like bricks and that was as close as I could come and I'd already made a special trip to the store for the stupid brad for the doorknob and .... BREATHE, STACIE.
I found some more of the red paper. I had to take apart an origami Christmas decoration to get at it, and I had to iron a crease out of it, but I found it and I used it and it worked well enough, dangit. Even with that dumb glue that still made it buckle.
Anyway, back to the (nearly) finished card. I got it back out of the envelope (cutting through a Fort Knox of packing tape), scratched Gandalf's mark on it again with my magic staff silver pen and packed it up and sent it off before I could change my mind.
I have no idea where it is now. Unfortunately, when you release a creature like this out into the wild, there is no real way of tracking it. Which, all things considered, is probably a good thing. But my Second grade self still wants to know if it made it to The Lonely Mountain Richard's hands...
I bet you've been there too.
It's that place... You find yourself there when you realize you are spending too much time online, talking about things but not actually doing very much. Your days pass by in a bit of a blur, you spend a lot of time reading or listening to audio books, your head still feels fuzzy from the cold you're getting over, and one day you look at the snow blowing by outside your window and you say to the world, "WHAT?"
Or something like that.
I'll be back tomorrow to show you the card I made for Richard Armitage.