book cat wine

The Man tells me I have a couple of warning signs that I may need a couple hours on my own to decompress.  The big two are when I "get a little shout-y" and when I have more sighs than a grim reaper convention.


Tonight it seemed like there are a few more grim reapers around than usual so I've been banished to my room with a glass of wine and my book to experience my fourth favorite time of day.

My fourth favorite time of day is the middle evening, when the sun is sitting low in the west, dappling my bedroom in dancing shadows made by the hedge outside my window and I get to enjoy the warmth of the room with my Tiny Cat snuggled in beside me.

My third favorite time of day is afternoon quiet time, when I lay down on my bed and read my book with Tiny Cat stretched out beside me, with his head resting on my arm and snoring gently.  If you've never spooned with an unconscious cat, you haven't lived.

(Please note that I said 'quiet time', not 'nap time', because I am an adult.)

My second favorite time of day is right before lights out time, when I have my hot lemon drink or glass of wine with my book, Tiny Cat curled over my feet, all snacked up from his evening treats and dozing off.

My absolute favorite time of day is when I first wake up and The Man has placed a cup of coffee on my side table (which is a chair), and I read by myself (and Tiny Cat) for an hour or so before I start the day with the childs and the gym.

I swear, I actually do leave my bedroom sometimes.

It seems like a lot, like I spend my days reading in bed, but I actually pull the trick nearly every woman I know does, of handling all the things and still putting supper on the table.  Actually, with all the activities we do, running this way and that around the province for roller derby and home school bureaucracy, I feel like I'm hardly ever home.  I spend hours in a car every day.  Reading in bed is not a guilty pleasure, it's absolutely central to who I am as a human.  It is key to my health, physical and mental.  Plus, it's good for the cat to have us some quality snuggle time.

It's always seems a bit odd to me to think of myself as belonging to a group of people, since the times when I feel completely and utterly myself, I am alone(ish).  But I do have a tribe, of sorts, of fellow heavy readers, whom I will probably never meet and don't really want to anyway.  At least in person.

Hey, you, not paying any attention to me because you've got your face stuck in a book!  Twinsies!

It is just now creeping up to my favorite time of day that is just before my favorite time of day, which is reading to a child time.  Every night, I read out loud to either boy child or girl child (I alternate with The Man), from a book that we've picked out together.  Or the child insisted on and I'm too weak to resist.  Right now girl child and I are reading the second Dirk Gently book, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams (my favorite Adams' book) and boy child and I are reading Astrix and the Secret Weapon.  Speaking of the low and variable lighting in my room, I have loads of good things to say about the Astrix books, but the size of the print is not one of them.

Do I have to mention that Tiny Cat always sits in on story time?

My roller derby team has expressed some interest in having our daily read out loud time become a Skype event.  My description of snuggling up in bed every night with my hot drink or wine, diving into a book for an hour of uninterrupted reading sounds delightful for many people.  Also I do the voices so I can be quite entertaining.  Who doesn't want to have some very excellent book read to them while they relax in bed?

The question is, why don't we all read out loud to one another more often or at all?  We love our stories (movies, podcasts, Netflix, all different ways of telling stories) but reading out loud to someone, especially as a daily just-what-we-do event, is rare beyond early childhood.  There is something wonderful about a live human voice that is telling a story that you can interact with, to slow down or speed up or explain, or pause to appreciate the weird and funny thing the cat is doing. 

With someone reading out loud to another, the immersion in the story is a collective and social experience, yet personalized and unique.  When I read a book to one child and then the other, I subtly alter the character voices and emphasize different aspects of the story to fit the child's interests.  I can tell when they've missed something important or funny and go back over the passage.  I read slower to one than the other.  It is theatre, a performance for one, and can never be repeated exactly.

I do experience the same when I read quietly to myself, my own mental state changes the way I receive a book.  Books, in return, cast light on my own life, reflecting back my thoughts but offering a new perspective that helps me figure out what to do or to appreciate what I have.  This is just one of many ways that reading forms the core of my health and being.  My heart rate slows, my brain focuses and entering a world that is beyond my narrow self-interests nourishes my spirit.

Like this evening, when I'm starting to get a bit shout-y, having being sent off with a book is the most healthy and proficient way to halt the mood and refresh.  It's my (and the cat's) favorite time of day. 




 It's fence painting weekend!  Actually, now that we've gotten going on it, it's turning into fence painting summer.  There is no way we are going to finish in our allotted three days of painting because we have a LOT of fence and a LOT of distractions like sleepovers, skateparks, feeding ourselves, wine...

I have mentioned a couple times that my house is a whole 644 square feet of wonderful, but that my yard is, relatively speaking, a good size.  It's a 175 feet deep.  It was established at a time when people were expected to have a home, a garden and an outhouse.  I joke that we bought a yard with a shack on it, which is funny, until it's time to upkeep the fence that circles the perimeter.  Not so funny anymore. 

I have a curious relationship to yard work.  In general, I like the outdoors, especially when it's on the other side of the glass, peered at overtop of the edge of my book.  I'm not a fan of actually being outdoors, in the sun, for hours, because I'm a vampire.  But I have very few jobs in my life where I can see an actual end result like yard work present.  Weeding the garden looks good (especially since I let it go so long).  So does mowing the lawn.  So many inside things that must be done but never actually look done or are, in fact, Done.  You only know that they are done by when they aren't done, because nobody notices that it gets done until you fail to do it.  I'm looking at you, laundry.

So, though I must spend time outdoors, doing work jobs, painting is something with appreciable results and a definite end.   At least I hope so.  We haven't made nearly the progress we've hoped for.  And the second coat will probably be much less satisfying since painting white on white is not quite the same impressive looking progress.  But, if I work at, every day, over the next week-

This is probably never going to be done, is it?

It doesn't help that I paint like I'm trying to bludgeon the fence to death.  It's tough on the arms and I have yet to subdue little more than half the beast.

I was trying to look at a bright side to all this but failing a little bit.  Thus, instead of trying to derive satisfaction from a job well done, I'm going to find another angle.  Like, look, the trees are gorgeous!

Yay, cherries!  Good stuff I have to work not at all to get!  Also, they look nice with my white fence and undead complexion.

And there is, indeed, an end in sight, when it gets too dark to work, so I may sling inside and read my book.

The book, by the way, is Shrill by Lindy West, which I am enjoying very much. The book mark is by Boy Child, and it is part of his design to attach a full set of deer antlers to his head to wear to the medieval faire this summer.  Not only is he a great artist, he is also a snappy dresser.

So here's to the end of another day of painting and getting things done, slowly and painfully.  I am sure, sometime around August, when the fence is fully painted, it will look very nice and I will bask in satisfaction of a job well bludgeoned.


my mother's day

For my children, who are epic. 

I really like this homeschooler aesthetic you've got going on.  It says antiestablishmentarianism with a dash of nap time.

I like that our spring time 'school subjects' are Picnics with Geese and Skate Park.  It's a nice change from our winter subjects of Coffee Shops and Skate Park.

I like that your favorite animals are penguins and centipedes ('They're so cuddly!") and that you consider our kitties, Tiny and Battle Cat, to be your brothers.  To be fair, all four of you come running whenever you hear packaging being opened in the kitchen as being in competition for food is a defining feature of siblinghood.  

I like that though you are only twelve and nine years old, you live like middle age people who have unstructured time in the afternoon who enjoy a quiet nap before tea time.  This is unbelievably convenient for me.

I like how you have low standards for housekeeping.  Not having nice things is an excellent strategy we've developed together that allows us to not have to worry about wrecking the things we have and we can just relax now and have fun.  As long as we clean up the dishes so we can eat off plates and occasionally hose out the bathroom, we're all good. Who needs nice stuff when we can draw on the walls and play indoor parkour?

I like how your creativity and interests are unfettered by taste and skill.  That sounds harsh, but what I mean is that you never wait to be taught how to do something right, you do not wait to be told what you should be into, you just sort of go for it.  This way of proceeding has produced mixed results but the process itself, putting the responsibility of learning on yourself, takes the breaks off and what I see is a couple of kids who are resourceful and assured of themselves.  You take pride in your own achievements, whether they be performing solos in musical theatre or learning to tie a balloon off.  Some people are given an education.  You are going out and taking yours.   

I like how you like me.  It still blows my mind that everyday you want to be around me, want my attention, want to hear my stories and want to do all the things with me.  I can't expect this will go on forever so I'm going to soak up everyday now that I can, being with you in our little world, living our quiet routines and laughing at our own jokes. You forgive me my flaws and I positively adore yours. 



My son likes his stuff.  Everyday he has a small group of objects that he deems particularly important, often related to some ongoing private imagination game he is playing.  The game may be or may not be related to whatever video game or video gamer he is interested in at the moment.  I'm not entirely sure, since he does not directly share the plots of his games with me and the games evolve constantly.  But I do receive little hints from the things he leaves about.
Boy child's playthings are generally of two categories: techy or weaponry.  Guns, swords and the like are preferred toys.  Things with buttons are the second favorite.  Remote controls, robots, calculators, toys that blink and whirr.  Sometimes a random piece of plastic or a Pokemon card will sneak in but those will be few and usually has some sort of interesting graphic or is shiny in a way that boy child will relate to weapons and machines.  Rarely does anything representing a living thing come into the boy's games.
Important objects to boy child, whatever they may be at the time, are often left in specific arrays in specific locations are not to be moved when found.  This can be a bit tricky, since information about where and when things become relevant is also not share, but I'm getting good at spotting the signs. 
Like this little tableau I came across on the table the other morning:
That one was a rather obvious arrangement and, sure enough, when boy child awoke, he came to the table, loaded up his person with these objects, and wandered off to continue his internal narrative.
I remember being flummoxed by little boys long before I had my own, irritated with their fascinations with weapons and just want to shoot, slash, and bludgeon everything in their atmosphere.  I like books and quiet games where all the characters talk about their feelings.  When boy child came along and wanted to mash everything he couldn't blow up, I turned to resignation and for a time gave into the lazy thinking, 'Well, I guess, boys.  What are you going to do?'
But lately I am finding myself becoming interested in the forms that weapons take and what that means.  Truly there is a vast array of objects that are outright representations of actual weapons used in the world today,  but also a great variety of imaginary weapons with science fiction capabilities (turning people to stone or freezing them, creating space/time rifts, etc.) all mixed in with a primitive skill of turning the most benign object into a weapon by sharpening a point and swinging it wildly. 
Stranger still, to the way my brain classifies, boy child has no division between these very different types of weapons.  He will carry his space zapper right next to his pointy stick.  He's like a warrior out of time, or in all times.
Thinking a bit further, this anachronistic warrior, though, isn't such an anomaly when you consider that despite all of boy child's fascinations with the things, they are still tools in service to a narrative game he is playing in his mind.   In his imagination there are people like characters that are moving about motivated by their own virtues and vices.  Bravery and sacrifice is a common theme.  Protecting, endurance and strength.  Heroism.  This is, I think, the core of the weapon fascination and connecting factor that explains why the mace is nestled next the ray gun.  It's in service to a higher value.
Even with the weapons and the monsters that he draws and the insistence that all our books be about zombies and the first person shooter games and the acts of violence perpetrated against any standing pole, he's not really a scary kid.  He's loving and sweet.  I don't want to diminish his love of imaginary violence (he does not like real violence), because, for sure, he is all about splashing about the imaginary blood of his imaginary enemies, but his the movies he loves, the stories he plays, are about overcoming odds and being the good guy.  And if being the good guy and saving all the people requires stepping up and crushing the imperial warlords with extreme prejudice, well then, a guy has to do what a guy has to do.  Because, you know, boys.  


studio update

For almost three months now I've had a separate working studio space away from my home.  This has produced mixed results.  First of all, anything you might imagine when you think 'studio', you have to strip out all the romantic elements like sunlight, windows, quiet and peacefulness.  It's located downtown in a basement of a busy theatre, so the atmosphere can be charged with all sorts of theatrical emotions and, if there is no theatre above, then Phantom of the Opera level subterranean spook, with me being both the creeper and creeped.

My ability to find get down to my studio is quite limited, much more than I initially anticipated.  If I manage an hour a day, I get quite excited.  Maybe three on the weekend.  Maybe.

While I'm there, for however long, is it work time, so that part is working out.  Focusing on the task before me, I am not interrupted by the demands of home, childs, husband and cats, leaving me emotionally intact instead of irritated and scattered, which is how I feel when working at home.  An hour focused on my work is much more satisfying in the studio as I feel like I've been able to immerse myself.

But what am I working on?  I pictured finally getting to jump into all the ambitious ideas I've had over the years and really produce as an artist.  So far... nah.  I have done about the same as I would have done at home, but, and this is important, with more quilts!

This is boy child's design (as inspired by a non-traditional quilt he spotted on the Internet).  I started this on the first day I worked in the studio.  It's now ready to have the border hand stitched in the back but here it is in starting the 'making a quilt sandwich' phase:

There is no way I would of been able to leave out the quilting supplies while working on other projects when at home.  As mentioned (whined about) many times, I have six hundred and forty four feet of home here and there is hardly enough room to swing a broadsword, never mind working on a multi-piece quilting project.  If you have children like mine, you know how relevant it is to understand how much room it takes to swing any variety of weaponry.

In addition, while working on the boy's quilt, I actually made another one as well:

The quilt reads "Hello I'm good for nothing Will you love me just the same", which is a little bite of the lyrics from the Dresden  Doll's "The Perfect Fit".  I love that song.  I love this quilt!  And I love this child:

It's our new couch blanket and everybody loves it, especially the cats.

My studio has allowed me to do these quilts along with some of my more usual work, but, they really aren't the purpose of having the studio.  As my husband reminds me, I have overhead now.  Producing the art so I can sell the art has been a little low on my priority list.

I love this guy, but he is the only doll I've made in the past three months:

He is a were-bear and I actually never want to give him up, so that brings my doll productivity down to, round-about, zero.


That is exactly opposite of the plan.

Okay, but, the studio has allowed me to start learning a brand new skill.  A little anthropomorphic taxidermy to expand my horizons and indulge an interest. Here is Rat King, one of several rodents I have been learned all about the taxidermy with:

Girl child has also been down to the studio to taxidermy a mouse along with a couple friends of mine.  New skills for all of us, and even commercially successful for me so far.  I've sold a couple of rodent pieces.  That would be a check mark in favor the studio.

I have committed to keeping the studio until midsummer to give it a fair trial and see if it's worth all the bother.  So far I give it a grade of fifty percent worth-it-ness.  I do like having an emotional separation between the creative work and this home where the childs and distractions are, though I end up doing quite a bit in the house still.  Mostly the quilting and hand sewing bits that I can do while talking to the childs or when we are all listening to a podcast.  If I tried sitting alone in my studio while hand stitching a quilt border, I'd probably go bananas. 

I have a situation right now where I've cleared out a couple projects and can begin something new.  I'm talking to myself about what is a good idea as far as taking care of some of that overhead, but, well, honestly, another quilt idea seems to have wiggled in and is proving difficult to ignore.  It is, with a bit of foreshadowing here, worming its way into my headspace.  I know there is no way I could tackle this idea at all at home, but, far away in my private studio space, just maybe...