June 30, 2010

Definitely Something My Studio Needs

Many of you know my dream of hanging my love affair with wood chairs up on the walls all around the tall-ceiling rooms of my living + dining spaces. I have a hard time not collecting these wood seats for a whole slew of what-if events and circumstances. The vision is to sturdy them up, and get them all painted smooth and uniform in a glossy white, to install them like decorative trim around the top perimeters of the room; easily accessible on a whim or in an entertaining pinch.

And then I see this...

I am pretty sure this would be the very sweetest solution to my art-making office space upstairs that I very much desire to also double as a guest room. Hello lovely perfect solution. Wood pegs, legs + table-top's in a choose-your-own-adventure adaptive installation, all deconstructed, and stowed away neatly and beautifully on the wall. Just waiting for possibility.

See all the lovely arrangements right here.

June 28, 2010

Because We Teeter on Insane

It's chronic, surely. And apparently also genetic and/or adaptive, as it appears that we are successfully passing down these tendencies to the Craunlets--to my dismay, I might add. This never-quitting and often entirely and lavishly over-the-top investment into our projects. Things that on all accounts should be simple; like the sunflower house.

Due to frustrations with our first and second [though pitiful on the latter] attempts, we decided that the best way to problem-solve forward on our current crux of crisis would most obviously be to CHANGE EVERY SINGLE VARIABLE. ALL AT ONCE. As opposed to the more moderate approach of changing one thing at a time and waiting, studying, reflecting. We are going to all-on clobber this house dream with everything that we've got left.

This weekend, we built a small fence with plastic hardware cloth, standing 18" tall, and charted out a larger circle in an entirely new and more-sunny location of the back garden. Then, we rounded up tons of slender but strong scraps from the wood shop. Dave handily drilled holes in them, into which I threaded with torn down lengths of fabric remnants to become support ties on our brilliant new sunflower stakes. Like a little new house-warming gift, so lovely.

Tonight, we will relocate and fertilize all the of surviving outdoor sunflowers equally spacing them around the new circle's circumference. Next, we will fill in the spaces between them with the two dozen tall sprouts we have indoors. Feed and water them all. Sing, surely. And just see what happens.

If nothing else, they will all go down in glorious great style. But I am still crossing all of my fingers that it is not too late, and that the happier-in-their-new-home sunflowers will spend all of July reaching up towards the sun for a full growing month and flourish wildly beyond expectation. And even become a little house, with a morning glory roof. That's the grand dream anyhow, and tonite is our very last--but valiant--attempt for this season in making it a reality.

June 25, 2010

Beautiful Normal

Porch plants in hanging baskets flanking both sides of the stair. Lovely wild and crazy vine dotted with golden black-eyed-susan's.

Quiet Destruction

On a steamy afternoon, nearly a week ago now, I went out to give the sunflowers a drink of water. To my horror and dismay, I found several plants from the second battalion uprooted and cast aside. Such a quiet violence. Devastating, and overwhelmingly disappointing.

When transplanting the first round of tender sprouts into their demarcated spaces, a few of the young sunflower plants incurred some severe damage and injury due to the process and assistance of the Craunlets. Sharing and co-laboring in the universal heartache over hurt among the living, Bella promptly suggested we sing to them. [I think it's all those Frances books, and that Badger's sweet poetry and constant song].

As we once sang for them all to sprout and then to grow, perhaps we could sing for them to heal. I was teary with her sweet innocent faith. The simple and hopeful believing that good always wins out. Knowing myself, that these plants would not fare a single day of sun.

So, I am watering the growing sunflowers the other afternoon, to find many of them uprooted, their entire plants thrown off to the side of the circle, and their gaping holes now widened and deepened by claw.

Disappointing destruction. Heart Ache.

Irreparable, and well beyond the reach of Song.

I decided to do nothing. My gut was to let it all just set for a bit. To wrap my brain around what beast was doing this, what the best reaction to this situation would be, and what action to take for moving forward with the garden. And mostly, to let my frustrations, anger and disappointments cool off.

And then the sweetest of moments transpires the very next evening.

Aside from wanting the Craunlets to experience the joy of life triumphing, and the magic of growing things with their own hands on their own little bit of earth. More than having sweet and fun play adventures within the walls of the sunflower house, I want them to invest in life. To nurture and enjoy the living. To be vulnerable in their hearts and lives, to tend and work at it, tirelessly. To keep going, and to never give up.

And old beyond her years, Bella responds to the sunflowers with the most tender and yet strong of hearts that I could pray for. At first, alarmed and confused by what had happened, she layered questions on me about the situation, begging for comprehension. And then decidedly, quickly, and just as quietly as the uprooting took place, she cared for her garden and what was left standing. She whispered song over them as she worked. She cleaned up all of the loss, refilled the holes with the scattered soil, separated out all of the pots and sticks.

With her little brother right beside her, she tended to his heart as well with her triumphant love example.

We have subsequently sprouted a third set of seeds indoors. I have no idea if it is already too late to plant them for the season. Or if anything will survive beyond the current 12" height of the sturdiest survivors. But I think it is worth another valiant effort. And I think we will also make some taller and sturdier stakes with soft fabric ties, for each individual plant. And we will nestle better this last group of sunflower younglings into the earth, and we will sing.

Because the sweet moments like last night--the two Craunlets snuggling on the grassy floor of the sunflower house that they can already dream is real and all around them--is worth too much to their and our hearts to give up on.

June 24, 2010

Beautiful Normal

The quiet of the evening after dinner; dear friends, and dreaming.

June 23, 2010

Beautiful Normal

Random coveted toy stashes; this one by the little boy.

Book-a-Week, or so...

I never anticipated how busy my summer residency would keep me, on top of all the normal summer crazy, but I am slowly getting accustomed to employment this summer. I am usually down to just my Zygote work, as all the teaching generally subsides until Fall.

This summer, I accepted a printmaking residency through Progressive Arts Alliance [a local arts nonprofit I work with on the academic calendar servicing the Cleveland Public Schools] to teach a teen program at the Cuyahoga County Libraries. So, I am on a bit of a whirlwind printmaking county tour, as I provide a Personal Treasure Map workshop at each of the 27 library locations.

To keep both my calendar and all my travel routes in order and at hand, I whipped up a little side stitch book to collate all the necessary papers. For the cover, I found a map of Cuyahoga County, that included all of the towns that I would be traveling to, so that I could color in each one as I complete the program at the respective location. It has been gloriously rewarding to watch the puzzle pieces of the county begin to fill in.

It has been interesting so far, and a joy to see the diversity of our County, in both landscape and population. Today I pack up for a double-header, two libraries situated on opposite sides of the County, one in the afternoon and the other in the evening. With just enough time in between them for the drive, and a little slot of quiet all to myself.

June 22, 2010

Beautiful Normal

Freshly picked, local and yummy tart cherries, from trees planted in downtown Cleveland by our church. My first-ever cherry pie. And who could resist attempting lattice?! Surely not myself, as you can see.

Gratis, For this I am So Thankful IX

Here we are at Tuesday once again. As Nate declared on the way to playgroup this morning; this week has gone pretty fast. In a good way, we are finding ourselves busy with summer, and celebrations. Overwhelmed with abundance and much laughter in our household, today I find myself so thankful for:

81. A local salon for kids. And indulging the sweat pea in a little time of lavishing that included: a haircut, a blow-dry, bubble gum scented products, and girlie twirly pullbacks adorned with a pair of complimentary ribbon clippers.

The print adjacent to photo is by Happy Doodle Land, here.

82. A husband that takes the babes on an overnight camping trip, and the alone time in the subsequently quiet house.

83. Despite all of my complaining, having access to two nationally-renowned health care systems, right here in our city. And health insurance that makes seeing all of the necessary specialists possible.

84. Picking cherries downtown, from trees planted by our church. And then turning those fabulously tart cherries into a simple divine pie.

85. An entirely unexpected raise and a bonus. A most delightful beginning to this week. The privilege and pleasure of loving my job.

86. Baby showers, and blessing dear friends with piles of sewn soft and beautifully functional necessities.

87. The group of women friends who gather weekly for both ourselves and our growing babes, for play, fellowship and feasting. A seriously supportive and fun play group.

88. Dance parties in the living room. Nate on the microphone in his red choir robe, and Bella spinning and choreographing on the cuff to her brother's songs whilst donning her fairy ballerina attire.

89. The quieting of rain. Especially in the mornings, with espresso. And summer solstice. The official beginning to our already grand summer.

90. Children who observe and articulate the details of our world so brilliantly.

Driving by a historically gorgeous house the other day, Nate commented, amazed at the beauty of a both magnificently and meticulously restored home:
Nate: That's a pretty one mommy...
Me: [quizzical, and pointing out the window] That house, over there?
Nate: It's got jewelry all around its roof.

Bella, insistent on getting some tie-shoes to learn before Kindergarten, finally got a pair of pink Converse All Star's last night. After a quick practice with the laces, she quietly and busily traced the shoe onto paper. She turned it over and studied the pattern of the sole, setting it on the chair like an intimate still-life, and made a drawing that she further cut out:

It's another full and fun week on slate, with occasional lulls interspersed. Welcome summer, and all of your sunny blue skies.

Picture Pages, Recent Shenanigans

We have updated our picture pages to include the most recent Team Craun goings-on and early summer adventures. Click here to see the many silly faces of the growing up Craunlets.

June 20, 2010

Beautiful Normal

Freshly picked from heavy-laden little trees. These shall most certainly become a pie tomorrow.

Happy Father's Day

We enjoyed a fun and full day celebrating Daddy.

It is easy to celebrate Dave.
Hands down, he is the best Daddy I know.

Patient, near never-ending.
Always family-first.
An excellent fort-builder.
Skilled train track engineer, and lego-building architect.
Fabulous cook, and handy baker; especially sweet breads.
Strong and hardworking. Always. Providing.
The best example.
Honest and loving.
A leader of adventures.
Handy, and inventive. Fixer of everything.

The bath-giver, and bedtime story-reader.
On-the-fly loving nick-namer.
The first up in the morning.

The very example of the Father.
And for this, we are all so lucky.

June 19, 2010

June 18, 2010

Beautiful Normal

Hair Cut, twirly pull backs, and pretty bows.

Team Craun Plays All Day

Helping a friend track down some festive font for a school flier that she is designing, I treasured upon a fanciful fun link, here. And I have subsequently pilfered away many precious minutes concocting all sorts of humorous sayings.

Type in your message, and it will generate a lovely balloon animal translation. It will even e-mail you the file, which I enhanced ever-so-subtly in Photoshop. I am thinking up all sorts of insanely fun party themes now as a result, and Nate's next-up fourth birthday...still way into the winter months away.Happy Weekend to you all, link in the comments if you come up with a brilliant animal balloon message. I am addicted, and wondering what we ever did without the Internet. And stuff like Balloon Animal Font Message Generators. I mean, really?!!

June 17, 2010

Beautiful Normal

A new scarf. Hanging on an old peg. Waiting.

June 16, 2010

Gratis, For this I am So Thankful VIII

Here is the list of thanks originally intended for Tuesday's post. This summer break is already proving to be grand and rich and full of much slow learning and growth. And we are only a couple weeks in. And in the mix of rainy days, and sunny ones, I am so thankful for:

71. A husband who makes terrifically yummy cookies. Moist and chewy dark chocolate with peanut butter chips. And he lets the kids help.

72. Generous compassionate Craunlets who upon seeing the above baked cookies amass, propose we send a care package to cousin Elliot to celebrate his move and new house. As well as deliver a plateful to Mary, our 93-year-old neighbor.

73. A neighbor-relationship that continues to bless our family, and our children. One that engages many a great simple and equally profound conversation:
Mary: I'm too old for life in this world...I don't know why the Lord is still keeping me around? [a quiet sweet pause, and then her eyes alight, as if she is a child again] Maybe for your cookies! she blurts out with a huge smile.
Myself: [quietly, smiling] Surely so.

74. Children that gladly and politely accept a broken piece of the same cookie, that we have piles of yet at home, from Mary's hand and the plate that we just bestowed upon her. And the language and the love that the Craunlets share with Mary. So familiar and effortless. And the return-sharing that so naturally and every time ensues.

75. Our kitchen garden that continues to bloom, and fruit. The second harvest of lettuces. And the handful of sugar snap peas we picked just last night.

76. Local Art Fairs. And a new pair of ceramic cups.

77. Snail mail. Handwritten notes from friends, and relevant articles snipped from newspapers. Timely thoughtful, and always welcome.

78. Camping. Even when it is canceled, and rescheduled.

79. Art Openings at Zygote Press. I love this art family, my job there, and our festive + merry receptions.

80. The never-tiring relentlessness of nature. The profound miracle and beauty of life. And its resiliency to overcome, and bloom.

It has been a beautifully bumpy week; real and full. I am so blessed to live it out with my amazing supportive and generous husband and these growing compassionate and energetic Craunlets. I wouldn't dream it any other way.

Beautiful Normal

Bella perched upon a chair. Everyday. Art-making.

June 15, 2010

Beautiful Normal

Today started out so sweet. Even the babies prayed with us this morning, and then they joined the pajama-matching Craunlets at the window to wave daddy off to work.

Gratis, For this I am So Thankful VII

This weekend was a song. Just lovely and wonderful...full, but well composed, and a deeply refreshing break from the weeks of busy that preceded it. Monday was even good, which is equally profound and welcome. I was cheerfully making mental lists of all that I was so thankful for, and worried even, that I might easily prattle off more than ten great things here today, and still miss a ton of really big ones this week.

And then today happened.

And it took the wind straight out of my sails.

So much so, that I found myself in an all-too-familiar place that I intentionally and concertedly quit last summer, jog your memory here or here. Yeah, the drive-through coffee habit, followed immediately with the long and leisurely drive through the woods that always promises to lull the Craunlets to sleep. The drive where I steal an almost-hour to myself and my frustrations. Where I change my own heart position and attitude, making good myself, on the demands that I place upon the Craunlets.

The first song on my afternoon play list was just what I needed to hear. And I listened. And sang. And wept. And decided to begin the day all over.

It was Glen Hansard + Marketa Irglova, from the Once soundtrack, and specifically the song Falling Slowly. The familiar and frequently played lyrics washed over me...

Crazy how my attitude and my heart's outlook can be so easily derailed and defined by circumstance. The lyrics of this song were such an incredible reminder to me today, that we always have a choice, and that when we decide, we are never left alone. And it is never too late. And we can always turn our [sinking] boat around, point it towards home, and most importantly -- raise our hopeful voice.

And I am so thankful that...

61. every day has new grace.

62. deep and real relationships are worth all of the work and refining.

63. the truth always wins.

64. I am never alone, and that I am loved beyond comprehensible measure.

65. my children are learning how to love.

66. how we live on this earth matters.

67. life is full of so many second- and third- and forth-chances.

68. things like chalk are so easy to clean up.

69. sincere apologies; they can restore relationships, and heal so many wounds.

70. I can always point my sinking boat towards home; and it is never too late.

June 14, 2010

Beautiful Normal

Wheat thins and water cups. A simple and savory afternoon snack.

June 11, 2010

Rigorous Summer Reading

Apparently Bella's self-imposed and likely-too-rigorous summer reading schedule is already getting the best of her.

Turning so many pages is proving to be utterly exhausting.

Coming Together and Coming Undone

The way it all easily comes together, serves also to remind me how simply and quickly it can also come undone. Such an excellent parallel to our life here in this world; all these little temples we build. The fragments and various pieces of so many dreamy possibilities.

I am trying to live out this season embracing a lot more freedom and flexibility -- two things very foreign to all my tendencies. I am a clean it all up, get it all sorted and planned and organized controller-type. Helpful attributes at times, but quite stifling and even debilitating at others.

We find ourselves frequently playing with Bella's fantastic jar of pop beads, creating and concocting all sorts of jewelry combinations. Building, rebuilding. Entertaining the constant flux of change and impermanence with both challenge and optimism. Boy have these beads come a long way from the circle-only and pastel-colored beads of my childhood memories. Bella's little jar is chock full of interesting colors, shapes + textures, as well as a myriad of findings.

The other day, mulling over her amassing inventory of bracelets, Bella was dreaming of starting up a jewelry store business; I was tempted, in my own little world, to actually wear out the set that I had created.

June 8, 2010

The Stiff Leaf Book Form

This week for my book-a-week challenge, in preparation for a workshop that I will be teaching this coming Monday, I created this lovely little stiff leaf book. A truly simple form, featuring cottony rag folios that open effortlessly and completely to reveal a full lay-flat spread at each turn of the weighty page.

The edges are stained dark with walnut ink, enveloping this clean-line form and jacketing the smooth but heavy pages with a thin outline that always reminds me of the gold powdered edge of a holy card. Growing up and attending Catholic School, these were like our trading cards on the playground. The ones framed in with gold edges were always the most coveted; those, and the also rare, non-rectangular shaped cards -- such as the ovals -- which were most likely even further decked out with fancy embossing and gold foil.

You can all surely guess by now that the charmingly gold gilded-edge version of the stiff leaf above will be soon to follow. I've yet to test metallic inks for book board staining, and this form simply begs for it in my opinion.

Gratis, For this I am So Thankful VI

The list of that which I am thankful for continues to grow.

Summer is a good refocusing time for me. Being on an academic calendar, I find myself with less schedule and demand, and more time for open flexibility. I more easily remember what I am made for, and have the time to live it out, less distracted. A season of realignment and recommitting. For this I am thankful also, beyond the gratis enumerations listed here and within the archives of Chatter, that I am made for another world, and I should certainly live like it a lot more often. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. [Romans 8:28]

This week's gratitude line-up:

51. Strawberry Lemonade Smoothies. And our good friends that ran the stand for us this year, donating all of the proceeds to build a homeless grandmother a hut near the Rift Valley in Kenya.

52. Indulging in fabulously luxurious necessities, like these alpaca wool-felted handmade soaps, and the lovely soft organic hemp velour facial scrub that all reside on the window sill adjacent the bath. And beyond the indulgence, the thrill of supporting the local and the handmade.

53. Salt + Pepper. Such good and simple flavor friends. Like today's little snack of lemon pepper hummus with sea salt pita chips. Whichever mom left these on our counter today, THANK YOU for the stellar quiet lunch snack I just enjoyed.

54. Children who are voracious readers; ones eager to sign up for library summer reading programs. And favorite books that are smart, and sophisticatedly funny, like this one:

55. The terrific intercession/worship music by Misty Edwards. And iTunes. What did we do before such simple and ready accessibility to music?

56. A conversational little Nate -- whose vocabulary and interest in airtime have both exploded exponentially. His storytelling is both animated and hysterically funny.

57. The poetic, though sometimes sad, irony of our neighborhood childrens' names, their pets and their friends. The other day we chatted with Honesty as she was taking her pet pit-bull puppy named Princess for a walk. Princess was pulling hard on the leash, and tugging Honesty along reluctantly. Then her friend Destiny walked by, but was too busy to stop; she said instead that she would come by later.

58. Having a drink with the husband, winding close another evening together after the underlings are tucked in for the night. Conversation and laughter; the history of the years we are accumulating together.

59. Our terrifically aged neighbor Mary, pictured above. How profound the impact of relationship can be; encouraging the Craunlets to learn how to love their older neighbor, and entertain conversations about life and death, and the will of God. Like this one:

Nate: Mary's life is almost done.
Bella: Her life isn't done; it is still coming at her.
Nate: Well it is almost done.
Bella: We don't know that Nate.

60. Fresh sweet cherries, ones pitted in our crazy fun-to-use Cherry Chomper.

June 6, 2010

The Recital

Bella's first dance recital -- on the big stage -- at long last.

She has been dreaming of this moment for two semester's of dance class now; and yesterday she finally got her few minutes on the stage. She is second in the above line-up, as they entered the stage, for the cutely sweet piece, titled: Ride my Bike.


Situated smack in the middle of a busy Saturday, the crazy annual Street Fair, and an action-packed weekend, we were all stoked that everything went so swimmingly.

After the performance, Bella had both of her arms full with two bouquets of flowers, a porcelain ballerina, many sweet cards + sparkly stickers.

June 4, 2010

Sunflowers Sprouts, the Second Battalion

The next group of sunflower sprouts are ready in wait for their transplant into the earth, hopefully growing strong to become the entry path of the house.

Somehow crazy descended on us this week, weekend and all of next week...but I am optimistic we can carve a few minutes out of our over-committed calendar to get them all outside this weekend.

How does summer always hit so hard and so fast? It seems like only a few breaths ago, I welcomed turning my calendars to June with much jubilation. Only to glance next at each of the individual cells of the calendar's page finding them all littered and congested with commitments, and myself already combating fatigue.

June 1, 2010

Dinosaur Riding, and Picture Pages

Here the Craunlets are posing on the "photo op" in the dinosaur exhibit currently on display at our zoo. This picture completely cracks me up.

They were comfortable only to do this after they both understood, as Nate put it best: The Dinosaurs aren't real, they just swallowed robots.

We've updated our picture pages yet again--for a little looky-lou, just click right here.

Gratis, For this I am So Thankful V

It seems this week has started with Tuesday, and it is entirely throwing me off. But I must admit, that forgoing the Monday this week was most brilliant, and entirely worth all of the disorientation. If only all weeks were sandwiched with long weekends. A lot to be thankful for, as always, but here is this week's installment:

41. Our first harvest, grown in raised garden beds on our very own bit of earth.

42. The yummiest fresh + crisp green salad I have ever experienced. A mix of green spinach, buttercrunch leaf lettuce + arugula, all from #41, sprinkled with toasted pepitas and drizzled with balsamic and olive oil.

43. Watching my children become good friends. Sweet Bella holding Nate's hand, wrestling him onto her same-sized lap to snuggle and comfort him, and dreaming with him in imaginative play. Below they are playing inside their [future] sunflower house imagining it so real, as if it were in its full and finished splendor.

44. Family reunions in the fabulous Cleveland Metroparks.

45. A bold and confident growing young Bella that volunteers to bless the feast, for #44, in front of two dozen long-distance family [strangers] and does so beautifully and sweetly:
Dear Jesus,
Thank you for this food.
Thank you for our bodies.
Thank you for this reunion.
46. A family that treasures the special gift of #45, and counts it as enough; no one building upon her humble blessing of gratitude to make it more official.

47. The relentless blooming of our front gardens.

48. European Chocolate Bread, freshly baked, and slathered with homemade honey roasted peanut butter.

49. Long holiday weekends, and even starting them off a day early, where the sun shines near constant.

50. Making a book each week. Above is last week's rainbow side-stitch structure that never made it into its own post due to #49. Nice to have my hands folding paper and working with all my tools again on a regular basis; thinking in pages.


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