Monday, June 21, 2010

Finished Painting

Well, my attempt at creating flow didn't work so I had to rely on good old fashioned discipline to get the painting done. There are too many distractions on the weekend. In this case, knowing I'd have to drive my son somewhere but not having a set time for it until his friend texted him. Anyway, it's done and I'm happy.
We had fresh peas for lunch and they were so good!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Neurobiology of Excellence

Right before I came down with that virus last week I had picked up a couple of books at the Goodwill. One of them was Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. I was particularly interested in the section, Flow: The Neurobiology of Excellence. For me, flow often feels like a state of grace in which I've gotten out of my own way. I'm totally focused on what I'm doing but in a relaxed joyful way. It's been a while since I experienced it while painting and I really need the occasional dose of it to keep me going. Better still, I want to develop a set of work habits that can help me access it on a regular basis. A way to enter flow is to "intentionally focus a sharp attention on the task at hand." It's a bit like meditation, once the intruding thoughts have quieted it becomes self reinforcing. Ideally, the work should be at a level of difficulty just a bit more challenging than one is used to.
So for the time being I've stopped listening to NPR talk shows while I work. I'm trying to get my mind quiet before I paint. It may be that some soft music may help. Nothing I'm doing is really new but trying to deliberately, systematically train myself is new to me. I'll let you know how it goes.
This image is the painting I'm working on, another close up of a glass jar against a blue background. Getting some of the highlights in is making it more fun to work on.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Here's what's blossoming in the lot next to our house today: day lillies, daisies, red clover, white clover, hawkweed,yarrow, yellow vetch, moth mullen, blue toadflax, deptford pinks, daisy fleabane, bedstraw and those bright pink flowers that I can't name at the moment. This is what I'm looking at while Lucy is searching for intruder cats instead of taking care of business. It's the season for kitty romance and a pair of cats has taken up their dalliance in our backyard bushes. Though I don't much care for their serenade, they're driving Lucy bonkers.
It's been a year since our son graduated from 8th grade at the Waldorf school. Saturday his best friend who was in the class a year behind him graduated. So did my best friend's daughter. I finally feel closure with that phase of my life. Waldorf education is wonderful for the kids and I'm glad we chose it for our son but it can be unbelievably hard on the parents. I've only just gotten over my Post Waldorf Stress Disorder and I hope that it goes faster for my friend.
P.S. The school just sent out this year's annual fund drive letter, including one to my not quite 16 year old son.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Sewing Lesson

This has been a pretty yucky week for me. I came down with a virus, head ache, fever and chills since Monday afternoon. The sort of bug that just has to run its course. Tuesday morning I got the urge to sew a test version of the peasant blouse pattern. Even as I carried my Singer downstairs I was wondering distantly why I was even trying to sew. But the stars were in alignment. The machine was running perfectly and in my slow loopy state of mind, I didn't try to hurry things along. When I got tired, I stopped. In the past I've found myself getting impatient. Something about the machine puts my mind into faster-faster mode while I don't get that with hand sewing. The end is in sight, keep going, I tell myself. If I'm hand sewing and get bored or tired I just put it down and come back later. Part of it may be that the machine takes up a chunk of space on the dinning room table and it's more of a pain to move around. If there was an upside to being sick, it was that it forced me to slow down.
The pattern worked well. I'm going to work on the sleeve a bit but everything else is good to go. This fabric was from my sister-law. They bought a house that had been empty for twelve years and it needed cleaning out. Dan and I went up to help and I brought home some of the fabric from the attic. This is cotton and sooo soft.

Friday, June 4, 2010

It's A Serious Post Today

I need to write about something that's been haunting me for a couple of days. If you're a thrift store regular like I am you'll probably have noticed the other regulars. I've been seeing the same white haired lady for years and though I don't know her name, we've chatted casually a couple of times. The store staff seems to know her well and she's one of those people that I just naturally like. When she was going through chemo I overheard her talking to the sales people about it and I was impressed with the way she weathered that storm. She's one tough, matter of fact lady. I put her in my prayers and hoped she'd be OK.
Now I think I know where that toughness came from. The last time I saw her I noticed something I hadn't seen before. She was reaching up to touch a garment on a high hanger, her sleeve fell back, and there it was, a concentration camp tattoo. It's hard to think of the right words to express what I felt but, "no" was the first one that came to mind. I know the history and I don't doubt the true horror of the holocaust but this brought me face to face with it in such a personal way. How cruel and evil that string of black numbers looked. I felt sick for her and sick over that dark part of humanity that can do such things.
Yet here she is, going on with life, and you'd never know what she had been through. That strength of the human spirit is what I'm trying to focus on and not the terrible evil that we humans are capable of, and I've been struggling with it, though this post is helping me sort out my feelings.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Peasant Blouse Pattern

This is the design I'm using on the yolk of my peasant blouse. It's inspired by Erica Wilson's Crewel Embroidery book, a recent thrifted find. The critters are jackalopes.I'm going to use cotton floss instead of wool because the top has to be machine washable. But before I can even start that I need to sew a test version of the pattern. Leave it to me to do the fun stuff first! I'm still dithering over rather to use a diamond shaped gusset under the arm like the original or add a side panel like on a kurta.
My son is going home with a friend this afternoon and then a group of them are going to an all ages concert tonight so I'll have him on my mind today. I'm still getting used to this sort of thing. I'd rather it wasn't on a school night but who am I kidding? He may be in his bedroom by 10:30 but I know he doesn't go to sleep right away. I don't think it will be that late but it's the long drive that takes up the time. I already told him he's not taking tomorrow off, even if I have to pry him out of bed with a crowbar. Chances are he'll be eager to see his friends to talk about the show anyway.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I've been going through a period of daytime sleepiness and getting really frustrated with myself not having energy. Today is better, much better and I'm wondering if it was the supposedly non drowsy allergy medicine I was taking. I also started taking vitamins again. Hopefully, I'm past the worst of the pollen.
This is the latest mushroom garden. I've got another one in pink that is nearly done but I got tired of working on it so I did some new listings and shipped a package. Dan asked me to make him some sleeveless kung fu tops and I figured I'd draft a pattern for a square necked peasant top for myself since I'll be sewing. The summer before I started high school my family took its one and only big vacation to England and Scotland. While in London my sister and I bought peasant tops from a Pakistani shop. Mine was turquoise blue, my sister's was the brightest eye popping yellow you could ever imagine. I ended up with both of them and wore them until they wore out. This style is so much more comfortable than a t shirt in the summer heat. Assuming I have success with this, I'm willing to share the pattern which will probably be about a 1 or 2X. Alas, I am no longer the size I used to be back when I got the original.