Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fare Thee Well, March...We Hardly Knew Ye...

Cherry Blossoms new

Whoa. It's the last day uh, day before the last day of March. (Note to self: check calendar before posting. Also, finish coffee before posting. That is all.) Is anyone else shaking their heads and wondering how it flew by at light speed? I think it must be the fact that February lasted about seven weeks this year, leaving March only enough time to smile a little sunshine and flowers on us before flitting away.

Of course, I'm not really helping things by putting up the April banner already, but I was excited about the new template possibilities in Blogger, and couldn't wait to try it out. I hope you'll all let me know what you think - it's quite a departure from my usual simple white background. I'm worried that it is too busy and visually cluttered...feel free to weigh in. I've switched back to regular Blogger comments, as well - there were too many people that had trouble with the other, and I'd rather get comments than have some slick and different system that causes chaos and headaches!

I changed the template and header at quirk, as well...I'd love your comments on it, too, if you have a minute.

Linda and I did a little mind mapping when we met up last week, and we came up with a theme, if you will, for the month of April - not just for quirk, but for any and all creative output for the month.

random divergent thought interjection...did you know you can buy mind mapping SOFTWARE. Because it's so difficult to use a pen and a piece of paper? Because we need to digitize free-form thoughts? Hello? I love technology, but give me a break, people - the whole point of mind-mapping is to be non-linear and let your right brain take over the process...

ANYway...I'll talk more about what we came up with, and maybe a little bit of why, although I don't think it will be too hard to understand. Now, if I can just come up with some idea on how to represent it tomorrow, I'll be golden.

I think I'll make an spreadsheet of possibilities and prioritize it according to cost and man-hours...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Yellah Bells

Yellow Bells


Actually, the last 8 Saturdays started the same as this one...early. My soccer players had to go to soccer school at 9, which meant we had to leave the house by 8, which meant we had to eat breakfast by 7, which had me up by 6.

Which, of course, is just like every other day, so it's only a mental irritation.

Because I'm still 14 at heart, and feel like I DESERVE to sleep in on Saturdays.
Scenes like the one above, though, make waking up before the dawn worthwhile.

My great-grandmother, Mama Carrie, in Alabama, always called forsythias, "yellah bells." I would write that out as yellow, but that's not how she said it.  I had no idea they were called anything else until I moved to Tennessee and made the mistake of asking for a "yellah bell" at the garden center.

After a blank stare and a couple of blinks of confusion, I called my mom and found out that the plant is actually called a forsythia. I've since learned that there are at least two other plants called yellow bells. Who knew?

I think it's my favorite sign of spring - all those bright yellow blossoms look like little (yellah) baby suns.

Plus? They remind me of my Mama Carrie...

Friday, March 26, 2010



We're back in Arlington.
We're tired.
We're out of milk.

The week in Knoxville flew by at a breakneck speed, leaving me with very little time to seek out free internet access, as evidenced by a complete lack of posting, other than a couple of quickies on quirk. I took photos and read a couple of books and educated a couple of punks and spent a few good hours with some spectacular girlfriends and a few good hours with a spectacular hair stylist (who happens to be one of those spectacular girlfriends.)

I also had a chance to slip in a meet up with Linda to talk about our dismal lack of creativity and what the Joe Biden we're going to do about it. That's a subject of much debate and contemplation. We'll talk later.

A certain SmartyPants had a birthday, too.

Happy Birthday to You

And Hot Wheels were had by all.


Gotta go get some milk, man.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I'll Fly Away

Udvar-Hazy museum

We've spent the last few hours at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, a companion facility to the National Air and Space Museum on the national mall. It is a wonderful place - full of aircraft and spacecraft and all manner o'things that can fly, including the space shuttle Enterprise and an SR-71 Blackbird.

I took this photo on the commercial side of the museum, although we didn't actually make it over there to see all the planes. You can click on the photo and it will take you to my Flickr account, where you can view it much larger. It's a huge place.


The interesting part of this (in case you were wondering...) is the way I took the photo. I used my iphone to snap a bunch of pictures, and then stitched them together on the iphone using a little app I found the other day called AutoStitch, then I uploaded it to Flickr using Mobile Fotos.

If I could just find a decent blog writer app that actually liked Blogger, I could ditch the laptop entirely and go all iphone, all the time.
We're heading south for few days tomorrow. I'm very hopeful that the weather will be nice enough to put the top down on the convertible and drive around town a little bit...I miss that.

For now - I'm heading up to my studio to package up the paintings (yes, that's plural...I sold Basil yesterday!) for mailing and delivery next week.  Maybe all those sales over the last week will inspire me to paint something new.

That and the supery, doopery, fantastalicious spring weather...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Written and Unwritten

Inkdeath Excerpt

Another day spent reading at the park, while the boys acted out pirates and policemen, soldiers and Gungans on the playground. I'm continuing in my quest to read all the most popular young adult literature. I'm currently in the last installment of Cornelia Funke's Inkworld trilogy, Inkdeath.

I read the previous two books a while ago, but just hadn't found the time to pick up this weighty tome (over 600 pages). I saw it at the library the other day though, and decided it was time to finish the story. I've had kind of a love-hate relationship with the series, sometimes feeling like, you know, could we just get on with it already?

But sometimes I kind of love it, because it goes out of its way to demonstrate the power of words over all our lives - the good and the bad and the downright wicked.

If you are looking for a new story to pique your interest, or to share with your (older) kids, I can't help but recommend it.

Even when I don't like it.

And when I do.

I'm ready to be done, now.

I'm conflicted.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream

'screm samich

Yeah. We're reveling in it. We know it may not last, you see - last year, as I recall, Easter was miserably cold and rainy and gloomy, and it was a week later than it is this year.

As soon as we finished school today, we rushed out to the park to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather. Then we came home. Then we took the dogs for a walk. Then we came home again. I think we'll have to go out at least one more time before we can call it a day.

*****2 hours later******

Yes, indeed - as soon as Dr. SmartyPants got home, we went for another walk with the pups around the park.

It was lovely.

And now?

I believe I'll have a cupcake.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I Can See Clearly Now...

Crocus Blossoms

Another nice day, another afternoon spent sunning like an iguana on the rocks of Galapagos.

And I have the sunburned feet to prove it.

I finished my commissioned piece, and the client loved it. I'm pretty excited about it, too. It's a house in Knoxville, and I'll actually be taking it with me next week and dropping it off in person and getting to meet the client - how cool is that? I've loved working with Etsy, but most of my sales have been very far away, and I'll never get to meet the people who have bought my paintings. It's a far cry from a personal shop where you can meet people and shake hands with customers.

We are heading out to the Talky Beer Place in a bit, to meet the Smarty. I'll be carrying along my Hipstamatic and seeing what kinds of St. Patrick's Day photos I can capture. We'll go early to avoid the majority of the green beer need to introduce that concept to my boys quite yet...

Erin go bragh, ya'll.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An Important Lesson on White Balance Settings


When photographing crocuses on a sunny day, remember to change your white balance setting from "Indoor, Incandescent" to "Outdoor, Shady." Otherwise, you end up with blue-tinted photographs that look they are straight out of your dad's instamatic camera, circa 1968.

HOWEVER. If that happens? Go with it. Round the corners, fade the colors a bit and voila!

Instant vintage photo.

Gorsh, I love digital photography

Hope your day is as sunny as mine...the birds are chirping, the flowers are waking, the northern hemisphere is all abuzz with the promise of spring.

And yes, I know we all lost an hour of sleep over the weekend, but people? For my money? Having that extra hour of light at the end of the day is worth it.

Completely and totally worth it...

Thank you Mr. Franklin, Hudson, Willett

Monday, March 15, 2010

Rainy Days and Mondays


Back to school after a nice, long week off...


It rained off and on all weekend, but it wasn't overly gloomy - mainly because the temperature was decent, I think.

And it wasn't snow.

Dr. SmartyPants took the boys to soccer on Saturday, which left me blissfully alone for about 5 hours. I could have done anything I wanted in the whole world.

So I mopped.

I'm pretty sure that makes me a little bit unbalanced in the brain, my friends.

But, now my house is so amazingly clean I can hardly stand myself.

It. Is. Awesome.

Even my studio space is clean, and I've got a little commissioned painting going on up there and I sold Ewan and I'm ready to become a painter of paintings and a drawer of drawings once again, even though I have no idea what I want to paint or draw.  Weird.

I'm also thinking of redesigning the blog. I'd been considering changing to Wordpress, but Blogger has been stepping up some new features, and I've been here so long, I'm thinking I'll hang out and try some of them before I do anything drastic.

So, if things get a little wonky on the design side of things, just hang in there - it will all get fixed, I promise.


Hipstamatic Selfie

And...I may be having way too much fun with my iPhone's Hipstamatic app.  What a fun camera application, people. If you have an iPhone, and you don't have this app...seriously...go get it right now. I mean, you don't really have to GO get it - just touch the little app store thing and download it. It's not even that hard, okay?

If you don't have an iPhone?

It'll make you want one.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Shadow Shot Wings

Shadow Shot Wings

The last few days have been rainy and glum, but earlier in the week, the sun was strong and the camera was charged and this little flutterby was begging for a photo shoot.

For more soaring shadow shots, head over to HeyHarriet! and click on the links!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Couch Potato


Raikki lounges well. He's gifted, you might say. Except when he's tearing around like a maniac. He has two speeds, this dog.

Crazy and Unconscious.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cloudy, with a Chance of Passive Aggressive Mathematics


Rainy days, especially after a full and sunny week, make me feel just like this caracal. Sleepy, yawny, and just a wee bit grumpy.

Especially with the offspring. Dang. Just get the one math lesson FOR THE ENTIRE WEEK done, already.

I love my oldest boy, but I don't always claim to understand him. He spent a half hour this morning, arguing against the benefits of using graph paper in long division problems.

My stance? "It helps keep your place values in line."

His stance? "I just don't see the point."

Translation? "You are an idiot. You are mean. I don't like you. If I argue against using the paper long enough, you will give up and let me watch TV."

Mercy. I told him to just do the problem without the graph paper - feel free - try it out!  Woo hoo! The result was a jumbled up mess of numbers that made sense to no one. Not even him. My point was made.

Half an hour later?

Still doing division. On the graph paper.

S L O W L Y.

Can anyone say procrastination?

Lord, help me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Zippity Zoo Dah Day

Gorgeous weather + school break + 2 boys = a day at the zoo!

Orangutan Dreads

Kiko on the "O-Line," the orangutan crossing system at the zoo.

Gorilla Family

Mandara and Kibibi.


Tai Shan has gone back to China, but his parents are still trying to reduce the bamboo population, and raise the Giant Panda population...


These two chimps were running around outside of their enclosures.


I'm just glad they're making friends.


I hope your day is filled with adventure...

Monday, March 08, 2010


Blue and Gray

Saturday was a beautiful day, and so after the boys finished up their soccer academy time in the town of Manassas, we decided to spend the rest of the day at the Manassas National Battlefield. It's a huge area, rolling hills and farmland, pretty much unchanged since the days of the Civil War. When you stand on the hills and look across the valleys, it is very easy for your mind to fill in the sight of boys in blue and gray, facing off against each other on a sweltering summer day.

The battles fought there were early in the war, and all the reports point to the fact that the troops were green - untested - not battle-weary veterans. My heart had a hard time reading the first-hand accounts of young men, who not very long before the battle spent their days farming, hunting and courting.

It's interesting to me how differently men approach a battlefield than I imagine most women do - how I do. While I'm interested in the history, I don't get a charge out of it like my boys. It makes me so sad, standing on fields where so many young men sacrificed their lives for causes they believed in. Watching my boys choose hats in the gift shop hearkened back to the days when brother truly fought against brother.

Manassas Battlefield

But they thought of it as picking teams - a soccer game with guns and cannon. That is, of course, because they are 8 and 10 years old. They are innocent and naive about war.

They asked me who the good guys were in this war between the states. How do you answer such a thing? All I could say was that there weren't good guys and bad guys in this war, just two groups of people who believed very strongly that they were right, that believed their ideas were right, and that the end result was the result that made us a stronger and better country. "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

One of our last stops on the tour we made was at a Confederate cemetery. Over 200 soldiers were buried there, and only two had been identified, so they were buried by state, in mass graves. It just broke my heart - all those boys, lost to their families, buried on a hilltop overlooking the battlefield that had taken their lives.

I think the challenge for me is to try and balance a boy's love of action, and the idea that war is just another adventure story with the knowledge that war is an ugly and heart-breaking reality that is sometimes necessary to protect a way of life.

Maybe someday it won't be necessary anymore. Maybe someday opposing forces can meet across a conference table and work out differences without firing a shot. Maybe someday folks will be able to see that just because some people have different ideas doesn't mean they need to be eliminated from the planet. Maybe someday...

Until then, my mama's heart will just have to weep whenever I hear of another son or daughter killed in war. It will break when I think of my own children faced with the prospect of defending their country against those who would seek to destroy it. It will shatter at the thought of men and women and children living in fear of oppression and tyranny.

And maybe Papa SmartyPants will have to take over those battlefield trips without me...

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Shadow Shot Shot


The weather was gorgeous yesterday. Still a bit chilly and windy, but the sun was beaming and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

We headed out to Manassas National Battlefield Park after soccer, and spent the day roaming the historic sites. Manassas (or Bull Run) was the site of two different Civil War battles, both victories for the Confederates. It's the place where "Stonewall" Jackson (literally) made his name..."There stands Jackson like a stone wall."

I'll write more about it later, but I wanted to share this shot with you. The sun was so bright and the shadows it cast were so very crisp. This cannon caught my eye and shouted out "Shadow Shot Sunday!" to me. For more fabulous shadow shots, visit HeyHarriet! and click on the links!

Thursday, March 04, 2010



500 miles one way.

It never ceases to amaze me what kind of ground you can cover in an eight-hour day.

It just took me an extra day - the weather was kind of crummy, so I hung out in Knoxvegas for a day to let the clouds roll by. But - I'm back here in this straight-up thug town.

When I got back, I sat out on the back porch and talked to my mom on the phone and just let the sunlight wash down on my face and seep into my pores. The daffodils and crocuses are peeking up through the mulch. The forsythia buds are growing larger. The birds were chirruping.

It made me think I just might make it.

No. It's not spring, yet, but it is coming. This hemisphere is on the upswing.

And all the people said...

oh yeah.