Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The October Precipice

I stopped doing NaNoWriMo a few years ago, but I still can't shake the idea that November is the time to do something a little crazy. When late October arrives, I find myself looking for a project or challenge with which to make myself a little bonkers, but in that totally good way.

To be honest, this year I do not need to add another thing to my plate. I'm up to my eyeballs with things that need to be done, ought to be done, want to be done, and aren't getting done. I also know that it's times like these when it is necessary to carve out some time for  not-work. I've started going to tai chi and qigong class again, and it has been great to have an excuse for saying, "Time out - I need to do this for Me."

I've been reading about the importance of using habit, as opposed to discipline, to encourage creativity. Nano does that, to an extent, but for me and my slow-typing fingers, it goes beyond habit into punishment. By the end of the month, I only want to stop the madness, not continue on.

Over at the Creative Every Day blog (a philosophy I heartily support in principle, if not actually in practice), November is Art Every Day Month. That sounds doable, right? Especially when the extremely loose "rules" say, "I mean art in the sense of anything creative, whether that be painting, drawing, knitting, sewing, cooking, decorating, writing, photography, clay, jewelry-making or whatever!" Add spinning in there, and you've got all of my creative bases covered. Yeah, I think I can give this a shot.

 Did you see the beautiful, almost-full moon tonight? And on Halloween, no less. Here's a highly suitable song for both occasions. It's also good for slow dancing, or just snuggling up with someone under a cozy blanket.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Old dog learns new trick

I went to my first presidential election when I was 3 1/2 years old. My mother took me with her to the grade school gymnasium, and I remember standing in the little booth with her while she marked her ballot with one penciled X after another. Even as a tot, I somehow understood that this was An Important Thing that grownups did.

When I grew old enough to vote, I was always engrossed by the whole voting experience - the locations, the people, the changing technology. I'm so fascinated by it, in fact, that I never had any desire to vote by absentee ballot, even when they relaxed the restrictions so that you didn't need a reason to ask for one. Voting at the dining table, in my jammies, would not feel like real voting to me.

This year, though, we have early voting - live, in-person, early voting - and one of the polling sites is just a couple of miles from our house. T voted there, since he has a long shift on election day, and voting would be inconvenient for him. Yesterday, I decided I had pretty much made up my mind about everyone, so I voted, too.

The polling location was in a strip mall, next to a grocery store. Two young people stood outside with "Vote Here Today" signs. When I got out of my car, they yelled across the road, "Have you voted yet?" I pointed and said, "That's where I'm headed." "Good" they yelled back. The actual voting had all of the things I expect, including a wait in line with a variety of citizenry, which did my heart great good. The volunteer workers seemed very professional and by-the-book. There was even an infant there with her young parents, experiencing her own first election.

Early voting: Glad I tried it, would do it again.

You're going to vote, too - right? RIGHT? Don't make me come over there!

I was going to sing us out with the song from Grease about Sandy, in honor of my friends who are waiting for the hurricane. Then I remembered that I don't like that song. Luckily, YouTube offered me some other Travolta songs, and this one is perfect. Plus, Chris Walken singing! He was on CBS Sunday Morning today. Did you know he has been married to the same woman since 1969? No wonder he could be so convincing with these lyrics.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Gingerbread Day

Today was chilly and rainy. I wore a sweater today, and made gingerbread tonight. By my standards, that means it is now officially autumn.

This year, I passed by the usual Pillsbury/Duncan Hines/Betty Crocker gingerbread mixes, and went to the health food section. There I found Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Gingerbread Mix. It was dark and moist and pleasantly dense. I liked it, and even T, who is gingerbread-neutral, sneaked back into the kitchen for a second piece. Thumbs up.

Yesterday's video was so energetic, I thought something more mellow might be in order.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


When I was a kid, we had the World Book Encyclopedia, and it was my favorite book. I loved how at the end of articles, it would suggest other articles on related topics. I could spend hours jumping from one topic to the next, sometimes following a logical thread, and sometimes just reading everything on a page until something caught my attention.

In some ways, the internet offers that same experience (although not so kid-friendly.) Get me set up with IMDB, Wikipedia, and Youtube, and I can entertain myself for hours. That's exactly how I came up with today's video. I had to poke under a few rocks before I found what I was looking for.

In this number, the late, and brilliantly talented, Michael Jeter, plays a terminally ill man who is treating himself to a fancy vacation on his way to the grave. This number opened the Tony Awards show, in 1990, I believe. I was blown away then, and I still am.

I also clearly remember the acceptance speech he gave a few minutes later when he won the Tony. You can see that here.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Autumn art

Leaf rubbings by chaimann
Leaf rubbings, a photo by chaimann on Flickr.
Autumn has been working its way toward us a little earlier than usual. I think the trees were just worn out from the drought, and at the first sign of cool weather, they said, "That's it, we're done." We've had some gloriously beautiful fall colors, but the end is clearly near.

I found this mostly perfect leaf by the door this afternoon. It was still soft, and felt like a cross between leather and paper. Like the colors, a leaf does not last forever, either, so I made a leaf rubbing.

Do you remember leaf rubbings? I didn't, and had to look up how to do them when an artist friend mentioned them. It's pretty darned easy. Put a piece of paper over the leaf, and rub the paper with the side of a crayon. I didn't have any normal kid-crayons, so I used Conte crayons, and they were fine.

Here are a couple of outstanding artists, both of whom I had the honor of seeing perform live, with their own tribute to Autumn Leaves.

(Want a more traditional treatment of the song? Famous Iowan Roger Williams plays his well-known version here.)

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Word or pictures?

Before it was even October, and before I was reminded about blogging challenges, I heard about 30 Days of Get Your Art On. This one is just an artist challenging herself, and inviting others along for the ride.

I've also been following the book release party/blog hop over at Snowball Journals. I took the Imaginary Animals class online last year, and it's fun to see other artists' animals. That lead me to Cranky Birds. What would you call the cross between Art and Fanfic? That is what I want to do with the Cranky Birds. Their creator, Dar Hosta, even provided a tutorial on how to make them.

Let's have a little musical nightcap, shall we? It's a couple of days late for September, but the leaves are golden here, just like the man says. And if you know the song from its many, many popular interpretations, I bet this isn't the version you know.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Wait, what happened to summer?

A lot of things, that's what, most of which don't bear repeating on a public forum. Things have been better, but things have been worse.

It was May, and now all of a sudden it's October, the traditional month [n.b. traditions happen fast in internet time] for posting on your blog every day.

Honestly, I don't know if that will happen, but just in case it does, I don't want it to be ruined because I couldn't be bothered to write anything on 10/1.

There are also some art challenges going on, but, as interesting as they sound, I won't pretend that they are going to happen. I still noodle around with art supplies for fun, and when I can figure out what is wrong with the scanner, I may show off a thing or two.

Anyway, I will try to crawl out of my own head occasionally this month, and say Hey.