April 29, 2011

What the Rain has Brought.

Happy Weekend, all! 

It is Spring at last in Cleveland, and after a week of rainy days, we are promised sun.

April 28, 2011

Tea and Sympathy.

I read once that women have a tendency to invite sadness in like a good friend. And I am familiarly amazed every time I find myself having done such. I even tore the page out of the book--to hold onto it more closely--as it immediately resonated so loudly with me.
This afternoon, we anticipate a fun spot of tea with friends. And I am so yearning the conversation, the sheer joy of watching our babes play together, and the fragile sounds of little cups clinking on their saucers. 
I spent 29 minutes on the telephone today reliving 2 years of disappointment and frustration--though strangers to me at present--but in remembering and recounting them, I most unexpectedly invited back that sadness. A heart ache for seeing the very thing I left then, still seemingly stagnant now. A dream somewhat on hold, awaiting rebirth. Can I still hope?
I am so glad Nate and I went out on errand this morning for fresh flowers, and a thrifted tea pot. They are our gift for our afternoon hosts. It was nice to carefully put them together, taking my mind off the conversation of the call, and to capture the beauty of life with my lens--inviting in the light. To remember the joys of relationship on this side of eternity. To sow into the living. To dream together. And share life. To still have hope. And on occasion, tea and sympathy.

April 27, 2011

Upon Losing Power. And Nearly all my Nerves.

I was minutes into my afternoon work slot today, when the familiar disconcerting hum of electricity being silenced--and my computer screen simultaneously quieting into blackness--descended on my plans of productivity. After thinking of a million things that I could get done, but then realizing that every single thing making it's way into my mind required power, I gave up. All dejected like, I wandered into my studio. The one still brilliantly illuminated by the sunny day.

And then I remembered the pack of blank dice that I scored at our fabulous discount paper store [Hollo's, I am smitten as ever with you] for a mere $1.49 for three sets of six. I have yet to figure out what to do with the red and green set, but I knew immediately that the white set was destined to become Story Dice. 
This morning, before having the privilege of losing power, I collected tons of images that I had hoped to reference for the 36 sides of dice awaiting graphic images to prompt creative writing. I stowed them neatly away in a folder on my desktop. I even labeled it Story Dice.
Sitting in a sunny spot, and forgetting all of this morning's great ideas, I got busy with a fine tip paint marker...and had a ton of fun thinking of images to grace future funny stories to be written by the Craunlets.
And when I finished, with only a few sides that I found miserably drawn or  absolutely bizarre, I couldn't stop from tossing the dice into millions of combinations. 
 I can't wait to see the stories that flow from these.

Year and a Day.

The shadow of my sister's birthday has always been my youngest brother's. One day more than exactly a year apart. It's been an annual debate of frustrated arguing matches over who got the shorter stick in this situation, likely my parents win out--it's unbelievable to me how straining birthday season is on our little family, and the Craunlets are almost a whopping 2 months [and their 2 years] apart.
So, for Uncle D's birthday I enjoyed a little cake-on-a-stick in his honor. It was tiramisu flavored cake, with a fudgey fake coffee bean on top, and very very yummy. 
I hope his birthday today has been just as fabulous.

Happy Birthday, Dan!

On Rainbows.

The rain is a necessary part of the rainbow. 
A quick conference before school with Belle's Kindergarten teacher was a song of a start to this rainy day morning. Such incredible progress from the first months of shy silence.
A sweet insight of who she is at school, and the lovely little lady she is quickly becoming.

April 26, 2011

On Living Far Away.

I would have really liked to have baked her a cake. And to have picked out the just right candles to light on top. To have laughed late into the evening remembering stories of growing up. Just a casual hanging out kind of celebrating. I would have even brought balloons. Why do adults never get balloons anymore?
Instead, I fell in love with this fabric [Hoot, by Moda] and I whipped her up a set of work-week lunch napkins embroidered with the appropriate days-of-the-week. And I sent it off via post.
I wish I could swing by after work. With a cake. And our kids could play together in the backyard. And we could drink tall glasses of Iced Tea. Just hanging out. And celebrating.

Happy Birthday, Sister!

April 25, 2011

On Residency.

I had a quick Artist-in-Residency project that serviced several 6th, 7th and 8th-grade classes of a Catholic Elementary and Middle School recently, where we made books. I have grown to love teaching books more than I ever might have imagined. It's a crazy great victory, laden with millions of important steps of process, that yields both a beautiful and functional object.
It feels a bit like my cooking epiphany, nearly a decade ago now, wherein I realized pretty much everything could be parsed down into a recipe and made. It was salsa, specifically. And the mountain of tomatoes and peppers, and lime and cilantro on my table as I chopped, chopped, chopped away. It was just a matter of ingredients and process. And it was the best salsa I have ever tasted.
All of the things we make so large, can generally be broken down into small and quite simple and satisfying parts. It's just a matter of unlearning the consumerism impulse--to go out and buy--and deciding rather to sit down and try.

Proposed Exterior Color Scheme.

We have narrowed down the color scheme for our summer house-painting project. We live in an 1880s Stick Style house, and have a hefty tall job in front of us, certainly. It's a 3 or 4 color scheme, depending on how we decide to finish the detailing.
I am hoping this cheery palette proves to be as motivating throughout the hardest parts of the project as it is at the moment.

April 24, 2011

Happy Easter.

Hopes in vain for a nice image of the Craunlets sporting their spiffed out Easter attire did at least yield much silliness and shenanigan at the end of a full but fun day. Here are some of the more comical outtakes from our photo session:
Hope your Easter was equally celebratory.

April 23, 2011

Easter Eve.

It's seems an annual tradition now, that Easter Egg dying is relegated to the very last afternoon before Easter. 
I suppose that's just how we roll. 
It's a combination of both building up our collective anticipation and Easter excitement, with a knowing and drudgerous putting off of the inevitable chaos that ensues upon encouraging the Craunlets to dip impossibly rolling eggs into inevitably splashing pots of dye. 
It's a sort of a dance of both fun and frustration; yet somehow the results are always magical. And certainly worth repeating.

Happy Easter Weekend.

Team Craun will be a flurry with Easter activity this weekend, and the list of preparations is near a mile long for today. All fun things, but predictably exhausting.
Nate started off our morning quite normally, in inquiry:
So, is the Easter Bunny a girl or a boy?

It's far too early on a weekend morning to have gender discussions about fictitious characters with a four year old, so the best I could respond was flatly obvious:
I don't know, the Easter Bunny is a Bunny. Isn't that enough?

April 22, 2011

What Came in the Mail Today.

The fabulous Grand Dubs is making each of her grand babes a twin sized bed quilt. It carries on the legacy of her mother, as we each received one as her grand children. I still love mine to tatters. And I have rosy memories of knowing--even as a child--how much of a cherished possession it was, and an incredible labor of love. There is something of the piecing together, and the miles of mini-stitches, and the fact that we each had our very own. On our very own beds. And as far as I know, no two were made exactly alike.
The Grand Dubs let Dave and I select the quilt patterns for the Craunlets, so naturally, Dave and I disagreed entirely as we poured over pages and pages of books filled with patterns. There are so many glorious options! We hemmed and hawed until we found the just right one for each of our babes. Something clean, and modern, but cozy and comfortable. We didn't want anything too fussy, or iconic...and we wanted the just right match for Nate, and the just right match for Belle. At last, we found two that sung sweetly to our preferences and met our wishes beyond imagination.
Since the Grand Dubs had three to make, she enlisted the support of her sister [thanks Aunt Mary!] to do the machine quilting, after she completed all of the piecing and assembly of the top and bottom. And special thanks should go to my sister Anna, also--who assisted in all of the fabric selections.
Nate's finished quilt arrived today in the mail. And after much jumping and squealing, we unfurled it out on the living room floor, and just rolled in it. Something so divinely handmade--it seemed best appreciated with our whole bodies! I rolled the Craunlets up like burrito's in the sumptuously stitched cloth, and actually welled up with tears. Receiving this quilt today, struck a chord deep within my very being; the moment seemed so overwhelmingly joyful and indicative of what childhood memories are made of.
Thank you, Mom. The quilt is truly gorgeous; and already appreciated beyond articulation.

April 21, 2011

Rain and Then Sun. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

The front gardens are alight with a spectrum of color.

If You Could Ask for Anything.

Recently, I participated in a project called The Petition Box. The premise is simple; you happen upon a little book that asks one thing: If you could ask anything from anyone what would you ask for? It's a book art and social project created by a friend and print colleague of mine, Carol Lynn Mitchell.
This book was photographed as part of the Monumental Miniature II Project, here.
She made an edition of 100 books, to travel to all sorts public and private places through personal passings of the books, using connections of friends, families, colleagues, etc. She catalogued and tracked the books, and has been sharing many of their entries as they return to her.

I had book number 89. After a few weeks in Cleveland, it traveled to my sister in Nebraska, and the lobby of her work for a while. As our returned book became live on The Petition Box blog, I was mesmerized to see again what I had scrawled on its pages; I can remember exactly the day and its circumstances, my heart heavy with an intense artist residency in a troubled school, and the drive that afternoon to pick up Belle from Kindergarten. The resonance of two places in the same city, yet so dissimilar and unfair. I loved that the up-cycled page I selected had the word American in all capitals, and announced no annual fee.
Scrolling further down through the entry on book 89, I easily identified my sister's petition by her handwriting and written voice both, and further read the enchanting diversity held within this single book of petitions alone.

And then I was entirely drawn in to the collective we bared out on the pages of these 100 books. What do WE ask for, want, desire, long for change, and need? I spent many minutes last night, turning through the digital pages of the Petition Box, and reading the serious and silly requests of friends, family and strangers--and was reminded of how human the world is. Made of people, so diverse but similar also.

Likely this book didn't physically make it's way to you, if it had [or did] leave a response in the comments:  If you could ask anything from anyone what would you ask for?

April 20, 2011

Make it Beautiful.

What a pick-me-up on a gray and rainy Spring afternoon. Watch this brilliantly cheery stop-motion video by Erin Jang created with folded origami flowers.

I found this delightful video via upon a fold.

On City Kitties.

Our little old lady has moved away, and it seems her former kindness to the feral felines of the neighborhood has turned up quite a problem. As they no longer have her home, and offerings set out among her porches, we are somewhat overrun by city kitties looking for new lounging and mewing spots.

Detail of a sweet cat print created and gifted to me by a friend, Melissa Agreisti.
I have a cat insistent on sleeping on our doormat near-nightly, likely the one that has taken to spraying the wall of our porch on occasion, and a handful of them lounging around our front gardens, and bird feeder. Anyone have any deterrent tips that don't involve chemicals or electronics? 

I have tried a concoction of lemon oil and lavender infused water, and the spray has certainly provided spotty temporary alleviation. Are there any plants that deter more effectively that I could add to our gardens, or something more lasting and withstanding of Spring rains? 


The full and finished view of Security, revealed in part here. It's a pounce-wheel-printed red grid, framing in 64 little one-inch square cells. Circle-punched security print envelope liners and an OK stamp rest comfortably within the boxes. I love the stability of this piece. The comfort and the assurance of having enough, and being content. The piece is also dear to me right now, as it has been a springboard to an artist book that I am working on currently, titled hold on.
 I plan to frame this piece later in the week, and think it shall be a most marvelous companion to my newest acquisition.

April 19, 2011

Number Two.

We have a double-dotting of holes where teeth were once in Belle's sweet smile. 
One on top, and now one on the bottom. This morning's cupcakes, enjoyed for our after-school snack, are happily to blame. 


Nathaniel has an incredible gift of sleeping.

The kid hits the pillow hard most afternoon naptimes, and is generally snoring by the time Dave and I remember to turn on the monitor in the evenings. [Minutes at most, I swear!]
My favorite of his sleep abilities, however, occurs about once every two weeks, wherein the little guy actually manages to nap moments after having just taken a nap. This is after waking up, getting his shoes and jacket on and even walking out to the car to pick up Belle from Kindergarten. A couple blocks into the 4-minute drive and I am serenaded by a soft snore, and the sweetly quiet sigh of a few more winks of sleep.
Being four must be quite exhausting.

A Marathon of Fabric and Thread.

I finished up a terrifically fun set of cloth napkins this weekend, employing yards upon yards of 3" strips of polka-dot fabric, thanks Anna! The strips easily yielded a set of 12, and I backed them up with some solid white cotton.
They certainly make a festive addition to our more practical [read: boring] varieties in the drawer, and have already brightened up our meals a bit this week.
I'm on quite the napkin-making bender around here. In the last handful of days, I've stitched miles of zigzag on my little machine. I can't wait to see how these weather and wear over time with use and washing, I am hoping for some sumptuously soft fraying at the edges of all that zigzagging.


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