Tuesday, March 30, 2010

birds on a wire

...or a stick...but who's getting technical?
i am enchanted by birds sitting upon wires. it amazes me that they teeter back and forth, beak nearly pointed to the ground, but never fall. during springtime, houston sees a major influx of birds migrating back north after the winter. i wish i could say i knew all the varieties, but we'll have to ask my friend jaime about that....he's a nature wiz!
as a small homage to my love of birds and springtime  and all things handmade, i created these little guys on their own perch. i love the shadow they cast in the bright sunlight.

thanks to my sweet friend alison, who led me to the pattern for these lovely, sculptural birdies. you should see the mobile she made! my son loves to touch it.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

my little artist

i am in the midst of three different projects, and with only about 2-3 hours a day to work on them, plus do laundry, vacuum, and all the other chores to get done while baby sleeps, it may be a while....
BUT today caleb and i took a trip to the children's museum.  while there is not much for a 6 month old to do there, i thought it s good experience for him to touch, see, and hear new sights. he enjoyed holding on to  the cables holding up this funky climbing tower, loved sitting on a big boy bike and holding the handle bars, and of course seeing himself in the mirror. it's so cute how he looks away shyly when he catches his own eye! however, when we finally found the tiny tots section, he loved sitting in this squishy one person circle full of the kind of balls used in those germ infested net cages filled with balls, the likes of which you see at chuck e. cheese's. he held them with both hands, of course tasted them, and figured out he could put his finger inside the whiffle ball and pick it up. he was working up a right big puddle of drool with his intense concentration! it's pretty amazing watching a child discover something for the first time, usually things that have completely lost their magic for us. touching water in our fountain, for example. it never ceases to bring a dimpled smile.
amidst all the yelling kids beating each other over the head with back packs and school folders, we sat down in the painting room and caleb made his first piece of art!

okay so maybe i had to help him hold the brush...and i did dip it into the watered down, muddied colors...but he jabbed the paper. so we'll call it a collaborative. how beautiful is that? i love my baby! 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


for houston, texas, a city often enough known to have hot weather on christmas, it has been an unusually cold and long winter. it snowed (and stuck!) on december 8th and temperatures hovered around the teens and twenties for about a week. as a result my garden currently looks like armageddon, though i am seriously hoping for a miraculous resurrection.
alas, it is now march, and we are having a month of near perfect weather thus far. i love march for many reasons - my birthday, my niece's birthday, several dear friends' birthdays, daylight savings time, blooms, dresses, the list goes on.  mostly i love the feeling of the sun warm on my face and neck and breeze lightly ruffling my hair. perfect in between hot and cold temperature where long sleeves is not uncomfortable and tank tops feel refreshing. i love my dogs yapping at everything that moves and bailey, the oldest one, basking in the sun til i literally have to drag him by the collar inside. when i do that, he rolls onto his back and goes limp. message to his person: i am just fine right here, and i plan on staying just fine right here. i love families out in public parks and the general sense of glee and togetherness warm weather seems to bring. i've long thought that maybe one reason people are outwardly very friendly in the south is because we have so many days of warmth that keep our heads up and out of the isolated dark space buried inside winter coats.
my husband has this week off, and we've taken our 6 month old to a new place every day. today is was the zoo. though he can't really name or engage with animals, he did enjoy pulling the goat's ears at the petting zoo. the goat was remarkably patient. but he slept through the most exciting part for me - when the elephants decided to go for a swim. 3 multi ton elephants in a pool about 15 yards in diameter...wow.  you see, since i was small i have had a fascination with elephants. so much so that i used to say when i grew up i wanted to be one. my genetics make that impossible, so when i got out of college, the first rendition of my elephant metamorphosis was 2 one ton printing presses the size of small elephants named tembo studio. tembo = elephant in swahili. in one way i became the elephant i dreamt of as a child. it was hard today not to elbow my way in front of squealing kids and indifferent adults. it's probably a mortal sin to step on and over 5 year olds giddy with excitement over one of the zoo animals actually moving, so i willed myself to stay in the second row of people...but i did manage to worm my arm over the heads of little people to take some photos.

one of the elephants, shanti, is expecting any day now, and if you've never seen a baby elephant GO SOON. they bounce in the most delightfully skittish way. shanti is also having a baby shower to which you can donate by clicking here. it's difficult to find tutus in elephant sizes though...
i did a collage in my journal as a tribute to outside. though caleb, josh, and i all have runny noses and itchy throats due to the trees' bursting forth with chartreuse blooms (all eager to ask each other about their winters i am sure), i am 100% ready to embrace the spring and wear my long dormant sundresses. yikes. haven't worn them since before pregnancy. gotta put the flounce back in those guys. enjoy spring! and go outside as much as you can.

Friday, March 12, 2010

i *heart* teenagers

most of the adults i know are clench-your-purse-close-to-your-chest or weary-at-best of the teenage population. well, i love teenagers. like really really love them. i taught and counseled middle and high school kids for the last 10 years, and they taught me a thing or two about how to be with them. i spent a bit of time with my nieces' best loved babysitter the other day. she is a senior about to go off to college, quite the artist, and such a genuine person. being around her made me long for all of those i have called "my kids" over the years. how i miss them! i remember once referring to them as such one time, and someone asked innocently, "oh! how many do you have?" imagine their polite surprise when i answered, "close to 700."
apart from my close relationships with many individual adolescents, one of the reasons i love them as a collective is because they are knotted with self consciousness, emotion, confidence, curiosity, aloofness all rolled into one being. in short, they are trying to figure out who they are and who they want to become. i wonder if it's so hard for some adults to relate to teenagers because they want so badly to forget the tumult of teenagedom or if they never quite figured out who they are. i see a lot of adults trying to assume power and control over teenagers...they yell, they say they know best, they say "trust me" even when teens look at them with a raised eyebrow, who-do-you-think-you-are expression. i remember in vivid detail much of my adolescence, so maybe those snapshots remind me how i hated being yelled at or made to feel stupid by adults. i am not trying to suggest that i am perfect with teenagers - far from it. i just think i am far enough removed from feeling self conscious that i can drop my guard and find joy in their experience. i think they can also find joy in experiencing an adult who is simply real and generally respectful toward them. i've been accused more than once of being quite the dork by many teens, but i think they meant it in the most lovable way! perhaps they secretly can't wait to embrace their own dorkiness one day when cool doesn't matter so much. i hope i am as close to my own kids as i have been with other peoples' children over the years.
the only thing i DON'T understand about adolescents (and even some adults) is the phenomenon of sagging pants. it is a fad i seriously wish would move on. when i see kids waddling across the street in a stiff legged way, clutching their pants about mid-thigh, i just want to scream. i realize, though, that forming a relationship must come before addressing the pants issue. trust me, my husband has held me back at movie theaters and shopping malls. but alas, i am not here to discuss fashion faux pas.
i leave you with two thoughts borrowed from margaret atwood and my image for the day, which, incidentally, has nothing to do with teenagers.
"We thought we were running away from the grownups, and now we are the grownups." (remember this next time you proclaim in exasperation, "kids these days!")
“Next it was time for the graduates to receive their diplomas. Up they trooped, solemn and radiant, in many sizes, all beautiful as only the young can be beautiful. Even the ugly ones were beautiful, even the surly ones, the fat ones, even the spotty ones. None of them understand this — how beautiful they are.”

a digital collage made with some painting and images from my new webster's pictorial dictionary.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

cupcakes with love

i think i've noticed a cupcake fad lately. or maybe my eyes are big as saucers when it comes to any bite or two or three sized goodie made with chocolate. my guilty pleasure lately seems to be just happening by crave cupcakes in uptown park. they claim to have no preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, etc. they are not exactly organic but not exactly unnatural either. i suppose it's a better fetish than cheetos, which i am still known to indulge in if they are given away for free post fun run or on an airplane. yep, hand over that yellow #9! to my body's relief, i do find barbara's organics even yummier than chester's. anyway, back to cupcakes...
i've been making quite a few of my own as well. aside from my first ever adventure with butter cream frosting for a friend's baby shower, i've made some 100% natural, zero fat, super fudgy mini cakes that last forever. before you read and re-read my words in utter disbelief and go asking for the recipe, check out the photo.

my sister sent me this lovely little still life after she received her fancy cupcake for her birthday. another dear friend got an endless dessert on wednesday for her special day as well. i've attached little tags with a simple birthday message to the tops. i can just imagine myself behind a counter selling these by the baker's dozen. maybe i should make a felt chef's hat too! i am trying to figure out how to actually make money selling handmade goods. i don't know the best venue - online or in a physical space - but i keep having fantasies of a little store that sells all handmades by fabulous women. please please send along your ideas...and a yes or no as to whether you'd crave my cupcakes!

Monday, March 8, 2010

the perils of too much, take two

last week my sister posted a blog with the same title. her's was more or less about paying for doing too much, but the title alone made me smile because i have so often been accused of being "too much." when i was little i was too emotional or too sensitive. people with cameras told me on many occasions, "a little less smile...it's a bit too much." in middle school one of my best buddies told me he couldn't be my friend anymore because i was "too happy and my clothes were too colorful." when it was cool to be dour and depressive i guess i couldn't muster enough of it. although at some point having my friends systematically dump me for too much of one thing or another, caused some sadness!
i remember after watching one of my favorite movies, the power of one, i proclaimed i wanted to save the world and my parents just laughed and said, "holly you are (you guessed it) too much." i have a lot of passion, and sometimes when i get on my soapbox or express how i feel i become too difficult. for so long i felt i was simply too much for the world. how could i fit? how would i find my very special one?
i often heard that i was too intense for boyfriends, that i needed to lighten up and i guess giggle girlishly a little more. i kid you not one guy i dated broke up with me with these parting words: "your eyes...your smile...it's all just too much." awesome.
when i was pregnant i apparently touched my belly too much and i am sure there are several who think i love my baby a bit too much. i could go on and on...so imagine how happy i must feel upon marrying a laid back, everything's cool kinda guy and my too much is just enough for him. sigh. finally! josh can play superman to my too muchness anytime!

i wonder if gladys here was too much for her time? i mean she's there in her sensible shoes, can't be much past the 1920's, reading a paper. women weren't exactly encouraged to read papers and stay informed during that time. i wonder if she even had opinions of her own...how daring! such a benign act to us now, so here's hoping that someday my too much will be just right!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

a whale of a day!

okay, so maybe that's the most overused way to put "whale" into a sentence but it kind of fits here....
shouldn't we all have a whale of a day on our birthday? i love love love birthdays and think we all deserve that one day...or week...or month to be celebrated! i got to have lunch with my mom and sister at a place called haven. it's my sister's fave, and quickly becoming a family spot. it's green from head to toe and everything on the menu is from within a hundred miles of houston. go local food movement! such an important thing for local farmers and small businesses. plus you know what you are eating and it's more likely to be real food versus all the fake stuff allowed in our diets these days. i mean who goes up to the counter and asks for some red lake #9 and a side of fries? of course you don't, but trust me it's in there...but i digress.
if i could have one birthday wish just for me, it would be to go whale watching. my friend katy and i are currently dreaming about it, so to make my wish come true i am posting my recently finished "jonah the whale" softie. it was fun to photograph him and make a little collage for the background.

and here he is from the starboard side of our ship.

has anyone seen, by the way, the movie "the science of sleep" with my movie star crush gael garcia bernal? making my whale collage reminded me of the beautiful scenes created with moving toys, felt telephones, and cellophane pieces. i would love to help create a movie like that. sigh. maybe someday, jonah the whale.
for my birthday my sister linsey gave me some cute little hair clips she found by an artist named mai mckemy. the care she put into her packaging is so splendid i almost didn't want to unwrap it! inside the tiny envelope is a little note in little letters reading "thank you!"

so it was indeed a whale of a day! here's hoping katy and i get to go whale watching someday, and we really will be in our little red boat on the sea...