One point of this exercise is to see if the divine can be seen in the mundane. On my very mundane walk to my office, three blocks from my house, past a FexEd and a yoga studio and a LensCrafters and an empty lot...the divine almost hit me over the head, as just long as I was looking for it. Angels, devils, heaven, hell, natural, supernatural, unnatural.
Today, I thought up a meme (which, in my head, I pronounce "Me-Me", because I can, because it's my head). 10-10-10. Ten photos. Ten minutes. Ten days. It's intended to exercise my mindfulness and stretch my photographic eye. No time to fidget with settings (which I cannot, because I cracked the LCD display on the back of my camera. Perfect.). No time to stage anything. No photo editing.
If you click the links below, you'll see the photo information. It says that the photos were taken in September of 2007, but, like I say, the LCD display in cracked and I can't change anything. Keeps me honest. Except the date thing. Because these photos were taken today. All within ten minutes.
If you'd like to join in, have at it!
Day One: Nine photos in the mosaic and one on top! (The one on top is different from the one in the mosaic...not by much...I'll get better at this as the days go by, pinky swear.
"I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity, and her flaming self respect. And it's these things I'd believe in, even if the whole world indulged in wild suspicions that she wasn't all she should be. I love her and it is the beginning of everything."
OH my feet hurt. Why can't I where comfortable shoes without it being a political statement?
Okay: So, yesterday, I was invited by Craftside to attend Unique L.A., do a little Make 'N Take, book signing la-di-da... And much fun was had.
In Germany, about this time of year, Christmas markets are a staple tradition. And Unique L.A. is exactly the same thing. Except in Los Angeles not in Germany, and 75ºF/24ºC and not 20 below freezing, and live D.J. and not Glockenspiel, and something called Tanzanian Sumatran Fair Trade Organic (which was not a sandwich, as I hoped) and not mulled wine, and in a penthouse and not in the village square, and Grand Marnier pistacio cupcakes and not sugared almonds...but exactly the same. Exactly the same in all the important ways: Lots of handcrafted, lots of good chit-chat – a good time yes indeedy.
I set out some design examples from our book, demonstrated an easy holiday fascinator, sold a few sewing patterns (actually, gave many more away, because whenever I hear "Oh, I'd love to sew, but don't know where to start," that's my cue).
Yes, okay: I love irony as much as the next guy. Probably more. (See?) But, despite the bon mots and pithy banter that is the running dialog of my head and my above ironic seasonal arrangement, there is more to this story. This story includes a phantom, screaming, nudity and lots of baking soda.
'Twas an ordinary night before Christmas and all through the house, I was stirring: turning off lights, picking up scattered things, closing curtains and, dang nabit, if the lawn guys didn't close that side gate... So, as to deter any would-be prowlers, I ventured into the dark and shadowy yard to close the side gate...
...When what did emerge from those shadows but a phantom! A phantom of two white stripes undulating on a pool of furry shadow darker than evil itself! Such phantom dashed from the dark between when there gate stood against the boundary wall to brush against my unsuspecting ankle! My very flesh! A true fright as I have never had.
I screamed a scream to rival any eleven-year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert. And turn and run I did, stomping my clogs across the bricks so loudly as to surely register with the USGS. Run I did, into the safety of my hallowed home, secure that I had outrun the shadow demon.
Did it get me? No.
Of course not. I am safe.
"Did it get me?" I ask the perplexed children, awoken from their peaceful slumber.
A slight taste of curry. A tinge of rubber cement.
A scent of burning tires...
No, a scent of...
Punked. Skunked. Whodda thunk? It got me.
It sure as heck got me.
Upon which realization I dash out from the hallowed home in a frenzy to disrobe down to my birthday suit. I streak back into the house straight into the shower yelling to the gagging, coughing young ones, "Go on the Internet! Type in 'get rid of skunk smell'!"
A ghost story as ne'er was told.
But this post is also educational:
To get rid of skunk smell from yourself or a pet or a child, the magic recipe is this: Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.
It works, it really does. Now, the way I recommend to punk your skunk-funk is to first give yourself a sticky layer of shower gel. If you have no shower gel, use shampoo or dishwashing liquid (it's an emergency, sister). Onto this, pour the hydrogen peroxide and baking soda mixture and lather up. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse, repeat in your best anxiety disorder fashion.
For your hair, however, unless you can suddenly sport that Billy Idol/Gwen Stefani look for reals, keep the hydrogen peroxide a good distance from your raven/auburn/ginger/mousey locks. Just pour lots and lots of baking soda into your damp hair, work in and let sit for a while before shampooing and rinsing. It worked. The smell was basically gone. For me, at least.
As far as how to debunk the skunk funk in the house? Well, Lysol spray, bowls of baking soda laying about and--this is the real debunker, I think--bowls of chlorine bleach scattered about. You know how undiluted chlorine bleach has that chemical, swimming-pool smell? Well, the bleach vapors seem to cancel out the sulfurous methyl and butyl thiols. Within a rather short time, we didn't really smell either the skunk funk or the bleach.
By this morning, a tiny bit of the musky-skunkiness lingers, but about as much as a skunky road kill one street over would. By this time, I can air out the house by opening doors and windows (couldn't do that last night, as the skunk funk was right outside the house). And then, to get into the spirit of the season, I went ahead and decked the hall with boughs of car fresheners.
I think a lot of stupid things. One of the stupider thoughts I tend to have is, "How tough can it be to do that?"
For a long time, I've had the stupid thought, "How tough can it be to do that?" Bryonie Porter does beautiful work, don't you think? Sublime. Can't you see how she lead me down a dark path of temptation?
I now know the answer to this question, "How tough can it be to wallpaper a piece of furniture." I'm much wiser now. Much wiser than I would like to be.
The ingredients for this DIYour-damn-self were a roll of antique wallpaper for a whopping $9.99 and an old cabinet that came with the house. The cabinet was screwed to the wall in the garage and used to store 20+ years worth of extra paint. In addition, the previous owners had a tendency to nail random boards and nails into the thing, as well as use some of the leftover paint on the cabinet itself. All the shabby, none of the chic. With all the holes in this thing, stripping and refinishing this sucker never really entered my head. Plus, I had that stupid "How hard can it be to do that?" taking up all the room in my head anyway. So, because I didn't see the value in storing 20-year-old paint any longer when I really, really, really need storage for years and years of household admin paperwork, I channeled my inner Bryonie Porter and went to work.
Puttying, sanding, painting, pasting, moulding, trimming and two coats of shellack before the rain came in and I had to get the thing indoors... Long story short. And I mean long story, here's the after.
The ugly, pubescent middle of this project can be viewed here.
I'm waiting for some antique hardware I won on Ebay to finish it off. In terms of the look, I was heading toward old Hollywood and got off the freeway somewhere in Claremont. The paper tore at the edges and corners. But the aged back of the paper showed through and I went with it. It was a learning project. And the rough edges sorta matches the wear on the club chairs we have in that room, accidently on purpose. Well, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.
Okay, okay, I know, I know. I missed a Halloween post. And the kids' costumes turned out pretty cute. The plan was to get them in their costumes the next day again... yeah, well ...
But I am back for Thanksgiving! We celebrated in a small way, just me and the kids. The Professor is in China these days, so we did our wishbone wishes with him via Skype.
This year, I am grateful for my family and health, the way the sun streams in through the kitchen windows, the pie-crust making lessons I received from my mother, Skype, political leaders that are guided by conscience and a strong ethical code, the Professor's terrific opportunity these days in China, my dear friends, who include my son in their excursions to Palm Springs, the millions and millions of people around the world, who generously share their knowledge and experience with DYI on the Internet, my friends and colleagues at Farbenmix, the thousands of people, who have bought our sewing patterns and book and the many who have joined our forums and flickr groups and so on... I am even sort of grateful to the idiot, who, in her passive-aggressive, sometimes aggressive-aggressive way, takes issue with our parking a car on the street. She'll put broken glass under the tires, leave nasty notes, paint lines on the street indicating where she wants me to park, that sort of thing. Crazy person. It makes me realize how fortunate I am to never, ever have had such a thought cross my mind. I've never, ever been that upset at anyone's parking, for Pete's sake. Just not how I flow. I don't even care about the broken glass or the notes. If there's ever any damage, I'll deal with that. But let the woman have her little hissy fit. I recall being in Paris, and remembering that people, if they were parked on a flat street, would not put their transmissions in "park", so that, if necessary, the next car needing a bit more room could nudge the car a bit. I remember being in Athens and double and triple parking in front of a club. The rationale of the drivers being, that the party was great, so who'd want to leave?
Oh. Em. Gee. At Jack's soccer game yesterday, there was this woman who was "WOO-WOO-WOO-ing" at the top of her lungs (actually, at the top of her throat, a very annoying, howling, wavering ululation heard among some Arab cultures at funerals), just because her son got a goal. Yes, a spectacular goal, a header from 15 yards right over two taller leaping opponents. But comeon.
Lady, would you just stop that? I mean, really. I'm so embarrassed for that woman's kid.
And then I'm thinking, oh no, that woman is me. "WOO-WOO-*sound of needle scratching across record errrrrt*" Sort of hit me like a soccer ball straight in the face (had to find some segway to those photos, right?)
I think it's official. I've turned into a cliché: Soccer mom. I think about the only thing I am missing is one of those white decals on the darkened rear window. If I were a window-decal kind of person, I'm pretty sure I would have one. I am this close--thiiiiis close--to writing a complaining email about that Assistant Ref (You gotta keep up with the second-to-last defender! You missed so many offsides, I'm ready to tell my kid to stay off sides when we switch field sides. And you can't be chewing the fat with the spectators! That's right, I'm talking to you, chubby, no-neck Assistant Ref in Norwalk: You!). And don't get me started on the icky politics of this club. Just don't. (Okay, okay, so there's two teams in my son's division and the other team, I mean, really,...okay, don't...)And I find that I am only wearing black. Because I am a ninja. No, because I am squishy and black is the least offensive color on squishy. But there's no denying the look is pretty soccer-ish. (And I also keep the local peasantry safe from the corrupt samurai with my skill and magic...)
I think waaaay too much about my kids' soccer. How did I get here? This started out years and years ago, to get the kids involved in a team sport that did not have a lot of equipment (Football? The undergarments alone are a hundred bucks. Hockey? I don't think so. Basketball? Okay, except for the fact that I have about the shortest kids in the class.). Because team sports is a good thing for kids. A good thing that I didn't have. I was in one sports team in my life, in college, a biking team for the Little 500. And so, here I am. Is this a good thing? In other people: Um, no. Not a good look. And me?
I want my kids to do well. I wish the best for all kids. But I do want my kids to shine bright (brighter? ... -est?). I want that for them. Which is a good thing, right? And I want it for me, too. Which is...?
Which is creating "WOO-WOO-WOO" sounds from my throat. That much is certain. Must at least come up with better responses. Must practice restrained excitement: "Well done, lad?" "Good stuff, son?" "Deserved of approval, young man?" "YOU ROCK, JACK!!! WOO-WOO-WOO!!!"
At least the black helps me to disappear into the background more easily, once I've completely embarrassed myself and my children. Ninja...
But I need to let you know, that I cannot access my voicemail! I will not be able to access my voicemail for about two weeks. This is incredibly inconvenient for my retail partners, I know. I am very sorry. I gave my phone to my husband to take on a trip, because he wanted to use the some of the apps. So the calls are forwarded to another phone. However, the voicemails are not forwarded.
Again, I apologize. Please drop me an email. That is the easiest way to reach me.
It's getting to be Halloween time. So, I thought today I would pull out some of Jack's past costumes made from bicycle helmets. I came up with this idea many years ago and like the idea, because it is a lot of effect for the effort. Essentially, you get a great big head. And great big heads are awesome for costumes. The bicycle helmet works nicely, because it fits snugly with a chin strap. Plus, it has ventilation holes leading into a layer of Styrofoam, into which you can anchor things.
The drawbacks with this kind of costume are that the headpiece can become heavy if you load it up too much. So keep the building materials lightweight. The other drawback, is that the child's vision is obscured, so he will need a little extra supervision during treat-or-treating. The headpiece can become a bit cumbersome, so keep in mind your child's tolerance level.
This was a viper fish/angler fish. Probably a species not yet discovered.
I rigged this with little lights along the back, tail and into the hanging lure.
This was a Cyclops. Here, you can see the underside. I can't think of many blogs that offer you a chance to look up a hairy Cylcops nose. The teeth are made of a modeling plastic (Fimo). Before baking, I inserted toothpicks into the tops of each tooth. I then stuck the toothpicks up into Styrofoam to anchor them. Alas, all that Halloween candy lead to some tooth loss for our Cyclops along the way and he only has two teeth remaining. The helmet is concealed with faux fur cut into shaggy strips.
And a dragon! The snout for this dragon and the nose for the Cyclops were made by carving pieces of Styrofoam with a paring knife and then moulding and glueing felt around the carving. On the dragon snout, I used a Sharpie pen to add shadow and detail. Dragons must eat less candy, because he still has all his teeth! Feathers add detail to the crown and expression to the eyes. The helmet is covered here in probably an old bed sheet spray painted and cut into strips.