October 31, 2010

On Turning 'All Work and No Play' on its Head

We took advantage of the cool and crisp weather that Saturday afforded to carve out a little family photo session outdoors in Autumn's splendor, getting a little work done at the same time. The Dave needed to trek out to regional community school to capture some material and form precedent shots for work, so we decided to make a day of it and explore the Campus as a family. Here are a few of my favorite shots from our shenanigans:
To see more of our Autumnal explorations, click right here.

October 30, 2010

Mostly Treating

Colder than we had hoped and wished for, the Craunlets went on their first trick-or-treating stint at Belle's school last night all bundled up in last year's winter coats. 
However, their costumes came together quite nicely, and managed to somewhat even coordinate with their bulky coats. The royal pair meandered through the parking lot, trunk-or-treating as they call it, and really cleared quite a treasure between them. And it is not even Halloween yet. 

Happy trick-or-treating.

October 28, 2010

Simple Red Books

These three are uncomplicated fun structures, and the yummy red that jackets all of the snowy white interior pages, is making me think they would also make great stocking-stuffers, and terrific quick holiday gifts.
Clean lines, simple folds, and minimal aluminum accents. I am loving the perfect bind, matchbook, and screw-post structures at this scale; just right for a handy jotter.

October 26, 2010

Secret Password

So, I decided--somewhat on a whim--to implement a household secret password, on top of all of our manners + character training around here...I randomly also demand a password on occasion.

Keeping it lively, and laughing, I suppose; the first password I came up with on the spot: I love you.

And so far, hearing I love you dance right out of the Craunlet's mouths through their big grins isn't getting old at all.

Gratis, For this I am So Thankful XXV

Though still engulfed in a much-more-than-I-would-like busy schedule, I managed to whittle out a few additional hours for friends and family this week. And I further eeked out some time to hit a couple art deadlines too. I feel like I am finally catching a good stride in this season. At last.
It's mostly been a week of random happy conversations spurred on by a good attitude and a demand for grace and real connection with people. How I too often rush through the daily not interacting, even when I am out and about shoulder to shoulder with other humans. This week, I have been trying to put faces on people, asking neighborhood pedestrians their names, and their dogs' names too. In small strides, I am working at making the little world I live and play in more human again. Even in the busy, there must time for people; it is so easy for me to hide out in isolation when things get schedule-crazy.

And on replay in my mind all of this week, sort of nudging me along, has been my square-dancing good times at the recent Zygote Press ARToberfest Hoe-down benefit party. I entertained a square with a friend's partner, together we were couple number one. I bowed to my corner, I bowed to my partner, I was hand-in-hand with friends and colleagues around the dance floor. And you know what, why the heck not? I have no idea how to square dance, and still don't after all of the merriment, and missteps and all of the caller's best efforts. But, it was a darn good time none-the-less. And it felt amazing to live right alongside other people so closely. So human. And real. I feel like I don't let myself live so fully often enough.

So here we are, another week, and another opportunity for a round-up of thanks. For this week's edition of Gratis, I am teeming with gratitude; most especially for:

232. Booked train tickets, and a reserved Superliner family bedroom -- which I hope looks just like the drawing -- for a little pretend polar express getaway that we have planned for winter break.

232. Mounds of mums flanking the stairs to our front porch. And their hearty hellos in shades of amber yellow, rich lilac, and rusty red.
233. More time outside. Harvesting Black Walnuts, Raking leaves, and clever invented games involving golden leaves, chalk, and other bits of scavenged nature.
234. Saying uh-uh, and no, nope, and not now with increased ease and frequency. Granting and gracing permission to do less; really. And without apology or guilt, slowly carving out more hours for our family in this busy season that only promises busier ahead.

235. Treasured upon inspiration in the studios of the Print shop at the Cleveland Institute of Art. It was like a drink of cool water to see all these tests and experiments laid out in rows. It was a moving and parallel now-and-then experience that transported me back to my school days art-making. 
236. The constant practicing, learning, and mastering. And the trails of evidence strewn through the home like little landmarks and monuments.
237. Last season's flowers on the brink of giving in to the cooling temperatures.
238. Skyping with the Grand Dubs. Bringing the too-far-away right into our dining room.

239. Halloween costumes that will eventually and surely get finished. And the very anxiously awaiting Prince and Princess.
240. Art and heart-filled letters and drawings received through the post.

October 21, 2010

On Nostalgia, the First Official School Picture

Is it so unbelievable that one would actually desire a plain and simple, normal [and maybe old-fashioned] iconic school picture?

Turns out, we made the most dreadful mistake of not dressing Bella to the hilt for  her recent and first ever school picture day. In teeny tiny fine print on the bottom of the picture day reminder handout, there was a casual mention that students could either wear their uniform, or dress appropriately otherwise.
Apparently this was code speak for: everybody, please out-do one another by dressing your children in overly dressy outfits for school pictures. This is after all, their future. Oops, I didn't read it that way at all, until Dave calls me after the morning drop-off to let me know that the majority of her colleagues, like holiday-only-church-goers showed up as if on cue and dressed to the nines. And the few out-numbered regular attenders,  of which Belle was included, were mightily under-dressed for the affair.

Is it so ridiculous to desire school pictures that feel like just what they are? I mean, they are even called School pictures, after all. I couldn't imagine Bella not looking like a school girl in them.

October 20, 2010

Gratis, For this I am So Thankful XXIV

The days are no longer named. The schedule around here has quickly gone from hectic to teetering on insane. And without the Kindergartner telling me each morning what day it is to be, I surely would never know. And if I send her to gym with her music shoes on, she could get an F. Wow. I guess.  I mean, what else do you assess a 5-year-old on for gym, other than her parents' potential memory slip-ups, due to their tired brains, and the general morning distress of getting them dressed, fed and out the door on time? And while I am piling it on, I am not at all confident in my usage of Roman Numerals  here in these Gratis titles now that I have passed 19. I really should google that. And then bookmark it, because I will surely forget. Again. And again.
I do know that today is not a Tuesday. And that tomorrow is a gym day. And I have decided that it is entirely alright if my Gratis posts from this point forward either do or do not fall on a Tuesday. Though I very much intend to keep them coming on a near-weekly basis.

Amidst all the crazy, that I am sure will eventually expound itself all over these pages in future and soon forthcoming posts, I am amazed at how many sweet morsels each day relentlessly provides.

So today, I reflect on the more-than-a-week past, and find myself incredibly thankful for:

221. the 2011 calendars that are already underway. The birds have been displaced this year, for bees. Or hexagons actually, but the reference is unavoidable with that 6-sided shape. They are lovely fun so far, and I am crazy for the red embroidery right now.
222. having friends over for casual weeknight dinners. And finally--at long last--baking up a bubbly and cheesy sage-infused breadcrumb soup inside a pumpkin. YEP. Yummy.

223. felt, and its soft simplicity--the bold and luxurious colors. And the Craunlet's Halloween costumes that are coming along slowly but splendidly. Mostly slowly.
224. the way that busy, and now too-busy, is making way for a lot more NO. And the slow whittling down of priorities; that honed focus is such freedom right now.
225. letterpress. Nothing beats the satisfaction of working a long day in the studio cranking out some inky embossed images. Most recently, an old and super worn snowman slug that I am printing up for a friend's holiday cards.
226. healthy babes, and dear friends' growing families. Most recently, sweet Mara Autumn, who has just made Poppy Anne a big sister.

227. the little girl, and her love of braids. Even though I don't really know what I am doing I am quickly learning on my feet.
228. all the silly songs sung by the Craunlets. Even Belle's endless, and on constant-repeat A-M-E-R-I-C-A, I love America every day... song. And Nate's song Gently back, so they don't crack for putting away his egg shakers carefully in Music class. The quiet is forever filled with song around here. And counting.
229. all the little plastic toys that litter the bathroom. I actually enjoy all the colorful clutter in there. Bath toys seem to me what childhood is made of. 
230. crevices of time. One's that afford stolen moments within the stacked days for a wee bit of art-making.

October 15, 2010

Correspondence Art

Year's past, I was a part of a lovely correspondence art group. We sent each other a myriad of made treasures. I still have nearly everything I received, and can remember much of what I made and sent.
One of the German exchange artists, that Zygote is hosting currently, asked me if I would participate in a correspondence art project that she is organizing. Of course I jumped on the opportunity, despite being laden with other obligations.  The digital printing was already present on the folded page that I received. All other contributions mine. And it is soon on its way to Dresden.
It's great to be putting art through the post again.

October 14, 2010

Most of the Time

I do love it. Most of the time. The whole mostly-staying-at-home thing. Most of the time, I love it.

A former colleague of Dave's challenged me once to put that out there, right here on this blog. If  I remember correctly, she dared me to title a post with the very wording that I used for this one. That these charming Craunlets, sometimes -- every once and a while -- aren't all of me. That some days, but not most of the time, they aren't my very favorite thing to do.
Many of you know that I have more jobs that I can sometimes keep track of. I squirrel away my hours in afternoon naptimes, in crevices of afternoon play and communal art-making. I keep the wee hours of night after the Craunlets are tucked into sleep. And I steel every second of any unexpectedly available time, especially when I have 30 minutes left on the sitter clock. I scrawl reminders on every available scrap of paper, and pile them near my desk, and on our dining table. These heaps and piles, and little stashes of sanity. And sometimes in the quiet, I lust for what it would be like to have multiple clear days in a week without all the frenzy. I wonder what making art in the studio--on a weekday, several hours in a row--would look like.

And I wonder. But only sometimes. Though, I am so astonished that even when I wonder--when I am so weary of what the day and circumstance has unfolded--that I have never regretted. That this short, short season is only for a little while. And try-as-we-might the relentless calendar constantly presses us, moving us forward, and at a furiously fast pace. And the milestones get bigger and bigger, and more and more unbelievable. And the sun goes down. And it comes up. And a new day is born. And another replaces it. New. Every day. And there is something primal and deeply satisfying about living that out with my little people -- like they somehow sharpen that acute awareness of time, and wring out every glorious minute available to them. And I understand that all so well. Most of the time.

And the days that I don't love it the best, it is usually easily and effortlessly redeemed with an unexpected hug, a glance of a single pair of large and quiet but telling eyes, and the sounds of cacophonous laughter. And the other so quickly fades, and I remember what is most important this minute, and I too race to wring it out. Because tomorrow might not afford that minute. 

And spending time on the rug is never wasted. Add to the list; tickle parties, and pillow piles, and another round of the what was your favorite? game, and puzzles, and fruit smoothies, walks,  art-making, and letter-writing, reading books and playgrounds...

As their hearts soar, so does mine. And knowing them so deeply is a treasure I would give most anything for.

October 12, 2010

Gratis, For this I am So Thankful XXIII

I realized last week on Wednesday that I had no idea what day it was. Somehow consumed by crazy schedules and day-to-day deadlines I all but forgot Tuesday, and my weekly gratis post. So, before the sun goes down on today, yet another Tuesday, I figured I should get back into the saddle with the thanks.

This week, carving out a lot more sanity time, I am so thankful for:
211. the official arrival of Autumn. and apple cider.
212. the Craunlets sweet effort to count all of the golden leaves on the tree in our front yard, and not having numbers near high enough.
213. afternoon light. and our glorious and growing huge money tree against our red walls.
214. the irony of the pairing of weight and wait, and the frequency in which I use these terms together in book making, but never applying them circumstantially, although they could also and often be quite useful.
215. autumn leaves encrusted with dirt, looking so very much like they were inked intaglio and are ready to print. I find the stunning detail of the veins against the golden dried leaf breathtaking.
216. totally homemade costumes already in the works for Halloween for Bella and Nate.
217. the Craunlets eager and enthusiastic first efforts in raking. Most glorious.
218. terrific friends that have amazing talents and craft. And for continued bartering; I cannot wait to trade a print for my stunning lovely stack of  new washcloths.
219. art-making in all the crevices of busy days.
220. second chances after long weeks, and for shifting our priorities to be concerned less with what is done, and more with how it is done. [T-shirt by Terry Schwarz, as a continued part of her AIR Exhibition TAKE IT! at Zygote Press]

Potty Talk

You certainly live in a household with children when you receive a text from the babysitter that reads:

the toilet is not overflowing, but...

After a quick fix that managed to stop the constant running of the water, we decided a better fix was going to be in order for the longevity of the potty. So, Dave being all Dave-like decided to upgrade to a fancy environmental flusher, that allows the user to choose the flush necessary for the job, indicated by one or two water droplets. Yeah, corresponding respectively the their implied job of going number one, or two. Keeping it simple, right? And entertaining a bit more potty talk around here. Except actually depressing either option on the button takes a good amount of oomph for a single finger.

So, it turns out the two-button system will indeed save us quite a lot of water, as the Craunlets can't even muscle the presser.

But the real clincher of all this potty talk occurred the other night during dinner when Nate remarked:

Daddy, when I grow up, I want to be able to flush the potty.

October 8, 2010

Weekend[ing] Thoughts On Migration

In our morning play time yesterday, Nate came up with this:
So we talked a little bit about migration. And the whole notion of going somewhere warmer. He reminded me that some butterflies migrate also. But that migrating would make his legs very tired. His thought process lends for the funniest of conversations sometimes. Anyway, I loved them all lined up and clipped onto the bar of the world globe. Waiting. Ready to take flight, and just dreaming up their destination.

Happy Weekend, all! May your days be full of joy and wonder, and also in dreaming up new adventures.

October 7, 2010

Sanity's Sillier Side

I think sometimes it's the silly faces that keep me sane.
Or at least laughing, and that is such sweet salve to the spirit.

October 6, 2010

Abecedarium, Practice Makes

At last, she is finished -- my third annual alphabet book -- and just before the [extended] deadline! I present to you here, Practice Makes:
I am so pleased with the results of the debossed letters on each page. Two letters sit adjacent to each other on either side of the 13 interior spreads. The front page includes an introduction, encouraging readers to trace along the letter forms, and the back page provides a brief colophon. It is a stiff leaf structure, built of book board [which I incised each of the letters into] laminated with folios of lush Somerset paper. The book edges are stained with walnut ink, and the text is printed via toner transfer, and a wee bit of graphite in the subtitling.
I am very much looking forward to seeing how the letters progress as viewers trace over them, accumulating both wear and staining--depositing a permanent trace. That first opportunity will be at the opening reception on Oct 15th:


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