Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Skagit Valley flats from the back of a Honda Magna on the 4th of July

 Not much of a post, but hey, what the hell. If you have the chance (and we blessedly often do, living mere minutes away up the foothills from them), visit Skagit county's farmlands out in NW WA, they're gorgeous and some of the last huge swathes of un-Californicated lands around here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Oh June. Let's Break Up.

June. Why won't you let me love you, baby? I want to lay out in your lush green lawns in a cute little dress and read all afternoon, sipping iced lemon zinger tea, skin warmed until I fall into a comfortable catnap. I want to drive through your valleys, birds echoing off the sides in a wild cacophonous hillbilly symphony, my arm out the driver's window playing with the wind, Gish or Siamese dream loud on the stereo. I want to cut some of your flowers and open every window in the house, bringing you inside as much as possible. I want to sit up in the tree house with my family in a humid funky pinky-purpley glow or your stunning sunsets, drinking beer and playing with a telescope, watching for falling stars, making smores in the firepit.
But, June.

Your gloom is oppressive. I wake up to clouds hanging low, scraping the treetops, heavy with potential rains. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, you rain so loud it wakes me and I lay there wishing I had to run out and roll up the windows of the cars. But the windows are closed. Because, you know, we've had the heater on inside of them. All of the lights in the house are on during the daytime (well, from room to room, we're not assholes). It feels like you're drawing from every fire ever burned and choking everything with all of it's black-grey and haze. And while you do stay bright enough inside the low ceiling of grey, the light you give is filtered, tugs down the corner of one's eyes to squint, mouth set grim, everything cast in a bluish light like an overly arty film - colors distorted to drive a point home in a supposed symbolic manner. Gross is all it really is, film or reality.

Oh, June.
I'm sorry, we have to break up this year. You're just not the June I remember. I play swing music loud, trying to chase your irritating depressive-ness away with hyper-chipper, saccharine melodies and upbeat, poppy tunes. I lace all of the meals I make with hothouse grown tomatoes and zucchinis, pretending you're not leaving my own veggies shriveled and bent in the garden. I sleep with the windows open in defiance of your blustery winds, with all of my quilts piled high. I wear thick tights with cute skirts and hoodies and cardigans and pray it doesn't rain enough so that I wind up soaked.
Fuck you, June.

I'm not a fan of what your looming dampness is doing to the satanic levels of grass pollen, either.
Just so you know.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Best Kind of Chaos Ever

The most amazing, wonderful, and exciting thing happened this past Saturday - my bestest, darlingest, dearest, sweetest, and most importantly SMELLIEST friend ever had her second child at 3 in the afternoon or so. I got a call around 8, with a voicemail that *I* got at about 9.30: "Door, it's me, I know it's really early but my blood pressure was too high, so we're having the baby at 10.30. BYE". That's how she is, all the big details that beg elaboration - such as, "I'm totally fine and so is baby, we're just being cautious because I have the shittiest pregnancies known to humankind" - and I got to have a giant stone of freaked in my belly all day. Normally I wouldn't, but BFFFF has the worst luck with health and preggo-ness. For instance, last month? She passed two kidney stones. While pregnant. The size of pencil erasers. GOOD TIMES.

Anyhow, everyone gets to come home tomorrow, and I get to watch my cutiepatootie little almost-niece, Sassypants while baby gets settled in (and mama and Dad get a nap, one hopes). I've got chocolate chips and cookie makings, a Tinkerbell movie for Sassy and Sae, and 35 different kinds of nail polish. I'm excited! A fun girl's day, hopefully she will be excited to do cool big girl stuff and be jazzed on her new job as Big Sister. I love little Sassypants mucho, and have really sucked about seeing her (and her dear mama) lately.

Tonight, I am returning the meal-making favor BFFFF bestowed on me Post-BusyBee birth. She brought me all kinds of stuff, made sure to take pics because I'm miserable at it, and kept me company and thus sane.
I've made a Southwestern sort of casserole with corn tortillas, beef, bell peppers, tomato, corn, and mild chili sauce. It's topped with cheese, homemade cornbread, and a smidge more cheese :) I <3 cheese. I've also made two pumpkin bread loaves - one with chocolate chips, and one without because some ladies are big weirdos who hate chocolate but they just had a ridiculously cute baby, so I will indulge them in their deranged tastes. I'm also making a bolognese bake, but I'm most excited to make BFFFF her long-awaited chicken carbonara. She had to be really good on a really strict diet during her pregnancy, and she asked me to make my version of America's Test Kitchen's "lite" (bahahahaaaaaaaa) chicken carbonara as soon as she could cut loose a little! I love cooking for people a ridiculously huge amount.

I thought I would post a tiny bit - I'm so busy I haven't even painted much, but I need to focus on writing at least! I need an outlet! Even if it is to squee and talk about food and happy junk. Nice for a change of pace for this poor old blog!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What I Wore (aka it's totally narcissism, look at my awesome thrift find)

I don't have anything particularly pithy to say, I'm wiped out from a day out with my lovely mum and a nice dinner all together - spaghetti, Avenue Bread's rosemary-laced heavenly bread, and maybe a smidge too much wine and chocolate piroutte cookies. Then Ma and I had to watch a few episodes of Two Fat ladies, which is an emotional event in itself. So. Much. Pork. Love, love, looooooooooove Two Fat Ladies. I love their accents, I love their recipes, I love their camaraderie, and most of all, I love their motorcycle and the little treks they take to cook for all kinds of neat groups of people! In the three we watched, they cooked for a group of Irish Benedictine nuns, a group of girls at Pony Camp (oooo, posh), and a men's chorus from Whales. So cool! What I would give for that to be ME! I'd love to roam around making porky loveliness and lamb pies and scones.
Ok, so I would also love to stay put and do that too. Not gonna lie.
So between groceries, lunch, nursery browsing, drives, dinner, meandering through our garden, and cozy tv watching, this is what I wore (except for the shoes inside my house, that is totally not allowed. Mud. It rains here. A lot)...
Wandering outside, getting valuable plant advice from Ma. Costello is eating something disgusting.
I apologize to Michelle right now for how bad my awesome hair looks in this. I ruined her art!
Tunic: Thrifted at Buffalo Exchange
Leggings: Target
Boots: Sparky Boot by Jump

Super duper fabulous, and full of button-y joy. And blurry. I might be tipsy.
Don't you judge me. I see you.

deco fan pattern!  
I really dig this tunic, it can ride a bit scarily low in the front, but it's a cotton-modal blend and feels like schlumpy pyjamas. Modal is probably one of my favorite fabrics to wear - I've bought unattractive or unnecessary clothing purely because it was modal. The feel of nice modal is somewhere between thin raw silk and sueded, lightweight cotton. Luscious!
I think this outfit worked alright. I had planned on belting it with my corset buckle belt (in blessed spandex and then leather where it counts) but it turns out that it was ready to go to Goodwill for another sassy portly lady. Weeding is killing my wardrobe, but I am getting more toned. I noticed, too, that I bought this tunic in a Large (well, being thrifted, that was really the only size...) but it needs to be nipped at the waist quite a bit.
Yet another project to add to Mend and Hem Mountain.
And in case you're wondering, I was able to wear my tall leather boots in June because it was windy and rainy here. Again. June! I had wanted to marry you and your lovely sunshine! Come back. I will buy you ice cream and even help you eat it. I love you, sunny June. I miss you.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Makin hay, with a side of bacon

This weekend, we had appropriate-to-the-Northern-Hemisphere temps for June, sun and everything! It was a marvel. We spent a good chunk gardening outside (Husbandman is mad for weeding, thankfully, I just like to tidy... compulsively), but squeezed in some wandering time too. We took a nice drive into town and had an awesome lunch of chicken gyros and humus that we shared with Sae. We did a tiny bit of thrifting, but that was cut short by a colossal Toddler Shit Fit. Squidge was off camping with a friend for the weekend, so we were able to deal with tantrums and naps this weekend a bit more smoothly. Mostly mine, but Jellybean had a few impressive fits, herself!

We also drove out to a local nursery, Thompson's, and browsed around. We're on the quest for an affordable camellia - I think we're SOL, but it's fun to hunt around and enjoy all of the plants. Plus, nursery workers are awesome people. I love plant folks. While we didn't find our lusted-after Yuletide camellia, we did find a couple of cheap mint plants and some ridiculously cheap veggie starts. We went home with a morroccan mint, an apple mint, three sugar pie pumpkins, and what Prof Husbandman thought were more pumpkins... but were in fact, UFO summer squash! BWAHAHA.
See, it's funny because I've been forbidden to have more than one zuke plant, which I do already, and most cucurbit (see: pumpkin, squashes, cuke) starts look pretty much the same at the secondary leaf growth stage.
I grew up around plant dorks, I blame them.
Our backyard seen from upstairs, south-facing of course. Apples and veg at the back.

So far this year, we've weeded, pruned all of the apple trees (7 in all, one giant old gravenstien that you don't see here - that one took three full days to prune up), made a veggie bed kind of shaped like a mirror image of Oklahoma, a triangularish ornamental bed, and the Old Man is making a bed out front. That one is weird, kind of a berm of clippings and compost and lawn clods, he claims he's going to put japanese maples and magnolias atop it. Odd man, that one. I have no idea why he wants to do it that way, but it keeps him off the streets, so I ain't complainin'.
Here's a labeled view of our veggies. I neglected to capture the Pumpkin Panhandle off to the left, but we have some. YAY.
click to make with the big
Here is our new ornamental bed, again with labels. Aside from the buddleia and the columbine, I have no permanent plans here. I really look forward to the now-tiny butterfly bush to grow into its full 8 foot purple glory of honey-drenched-smelling deliciousness. I can just imagine, a warm summer day, the buddleia in full bloom casting a nice shadow over the kitchen, windows of the house open, then a breeze hits and everything smells like it's covered in powdery honey pixie dust. Loooooooooooove.
clicky clicky click
Otherwise, for now, I am enjoying these...
peonies, my absolute fave
delicate indigo Japanese irises, hooray!

June! You are off to a wonderful start. Every now and then I'm discouraged with what feels like too-slow or absolutely NO progress on the house and yard, but then the sun hits the front of the house, and I forget that stupid bullshit and enjoy the cute little bungalow for what it is right now.
Yeah buddy

I mean, what's not to like? Weeds happen. All this hard work is paying off, and it no longer looks like meth heads are using this as a cook house. We are making a difference. It IS getting better. We ARE working our asses off.
And my husband IS an excellent gardener (all of the shaping and weeded prettiness there is aaaaaaaaaaaall him). Life is most definitely good!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Paintin' That Bish All Up

I totally forgot to post yesterday - I want to try and at least post a little bit even if my brain is otherwise occupied. It's been a rough week, I haven't had much to say that wasn't heinously negative and no one wants to hear me bitch about my mundane life bullshit. Well, I don't want to hear me do it, anyhow.
But I did get a glass of water poured into my keyboard and underneath my laptop.
So, you know. The thrills never end!

One of the big reasons I haven't posted was I was too busy painting yesterday! I work mostly mixed media and acrylics, and I can rock a tube of acrylic like nobody's biz, even the cheap shit from Michael's (oh, Michaels, you are the bane and yet utter love of my entire existence). I know a lot of people hesitate and go over to those nasty smelly oils because of the difficulty and tempestuousness of working in acrylic, but I guess I just started there and grew there and that's where I'm at. Plus, oils reek and take forever to cure and are all mushy and like nasty frosting from the depths of hell.
That said, I have an old friend who I introduced to acrylics one drunken painterly night, and he's kicked some major ass in that arena. His oils are bitchin like woah: (http://treesfromthewoods.blogspot.com/2011/02/warning-artists-are-bad-for-environment.html). I'm a little envious, but more covetous!

Anyhow, how I like to primarily rock those bitchy acrylics is to do acrylic washes, which are time consuming but worth it for workability and coverage. What you do is you get a stack of those little to-go condiment cups - mine are about a 1.5 oz size - WITH lids. My grandma introduced me to using those instead of aluminum packets or palettes with acrylics. So not worth the hassle, plus, the cups are recyclable. Bonus!
You put your measured/eyeballed amount of paint in the cup, and then add a thinning medium. I prefer Mod Podge because I am a dirty, dirty whore for decoupage and assemblage and it's the best shit for either just about. You can also use Elmer's glue, carpenter's glue (this can backfire and fuck your brushes up but good, make sure you have GOOD brush cleaner or turpentine on hand), or any other paste medium. I also like to add some water to get things nice and thinned. I dig the opacity of acrylics, but I do like to mimic a watercolor wash or a creamy oily blend (but without the aforementioned heinous intrinsic Oil-ness) and BOTH can be achieved with the right ratio of floaty adhesive medium to water to paint. You do have to get a feel for it, play around on a big piece of cardboard and do lots of tests.

One of the most fun ways to get going with acrylic washes is to make an Eric Carle inspired collage piece. You just use plain rice paper or, if you're patient and brave, plain tissue paper. You can freeform your image, or do a little sketch on your mounting medium. With lightweight papers, all you really need is watercolor paper to bear the light load. Once you've prepped your paint washes and your work area, you take a sheet of rice/tissue paper and paint your wash on. Don't overload it, treat the paper like you're doing watercolors on it.  You can make it as thin or thick as you like, and once the first coat dries, you can always go back over in contrasting colors, or complimentary if you like to be all matchy-matchy.
After all of your gorgeous acrylic washed tissue sheets are dried, you apply them to your board, either over your (very, very light) sketch. Or mix media it. Play around! I like to use this method and apply it over newsprint to obscure the words and just get the graphic effect of the type.

Here's my background wash I finished today for an aquatic art nouveau-ish piece I've been rolling around in my head:
yeah, I suck at taking pictures... 
I will also blame my proper lighting and the gloss of the paint as it was drying. 
So there.

Anyways, shitty lighting aside, I sharpened the crap out of this in Picassa so you can see some of the layers. I think this is my sixth or seventh. The first two, I did aqua green and blue washes, all over, no definition. Then a pale blue wash with a wavy brush texture (oh! Acrylics and mod podge = subtle texture love), then a pea green layer just on chunky highlight areas, then a blue vertical wash for tint and coverage, then green again with a rag removal technique to make it even MORE translucent, then the final coat is a vertical aqua streaking done with a sponge brush dragged down it and a rag removal in some areas.
Over the top of all of these washes is going to be a solid acrylic border and a mixed media center (like a center of creamy gross rotting corpse under the ocean goodness). This is my outer sketch, and it goes without saying don't rip my shit off or I'll fucking cut you. If you get inspired and riff off of me, that is so cool, but credit me with said Art-'spo or I will, again, cut you.
That said, I was inspired by Erica Moen, this propaganda poster from the Netherlands, and this propaganda poster from my beloved homeland of the Republic of Cascadia.
I'm not super tidy with my ref sketches. I know what I meant, ok.
Also, I like jellyfishes. Ignore the giant scallop center, it was nice but got tossed out.

So I'd better get back to it, my two canvases (the second is another post for another time, also pretty crap with dead shit, I AM my mother's daughter *snifflesniffle*) are finally dry. Those washes, they take longer than plain acrylics to dry, just so you know. And depending on which type of adhesive you use, the sheen dries differently. I am using semigloss acrylics with a gloss Mod Podge, with has a nice, soft sheen that looks good when you mix a bit of neutral metallic into your washes, too. It's fun to play with. Don't fear acrylics! Make them your bitch!

Monday, May 30, 2011

What I Wore (aka narcissism, but I pretend it isn't)

So today's Memorial Day here in the states (though I think most non-state readers either are ex-pats or just totally knew that already kthx). As usual, it was grey and actually pretty chilly - it reminded me of last year when I wore a fleece jacket and sweater to the 4th of July party I went to. So, so sad. You see advertisments on tv where everyone's rocking out at this great, sunny bash, drinking beer, wearing swimsuits (in May bahahahahahaaaa), and being all cute and summery.
Yeeeeeeeah... that's obviously not the lovely PNW. It's probably 55F tops. I had to layer. I LAYERED. It was slightly upsetting, but then today was kind of upsetting anyhow.
I went to Playboy of the Western World's grave site finally - I haven't been there since my "Last" (dundundunnnnn) post here, which would be Grandpa's funeral in 2009. I brought out some of our lilacs and some insane tropicana-melon colored azaleas, in a nice glass jar. Except when I got out there, I remembered, right... no glass allowed, and had to dig out a powerade bottle. Lovely! Gah. I hope PoTWW would've laughed. I think he would've liked the flowers and been proud of my garden.
I brought some lilacs over to his brother's headstone too, which is one of my favorites. I know that sounds macabre  but it is very, very sweet. My grandpa's brother E had Down's, and lived to only be about 35 at the most, I think. He was the apple of everyone's eye and my great grandma loved him no differently than any of her other kids (and this is in the 30's when he was born, and waaaaaaay rural). When he died, after a much-longer-than-anticipated life, they planted these two beautiful shrubs flanking his headstone, which itself reads "Darling E____" and is one of the prettiest engravings I've seen in a graveyard. The two shrubs have grown together and the effect is beautiful.
So anyhow, I opted not to wear makeup today, but that's not particularly unusual. I thought I'd play it safe, I'm feeling beyond sentimental and my heart is pretty raw. I really miss PoTWW. I think Rockmother referred to him once as a "gem of a man" and I couldn't find a more appropriate phrase for him.

And this is what I wore...

Hoodie: Obey
Blouse: Target, more likely than not
Skirt: Old Navy circa '05!
Tights, socks: unknown, mysteriously appeared
Shoes: goodwill, brand worn off!

I can't believe I've had that skirt so long! I guess it stayed nice because it sat in my closet being too small for 4 years or so. I'm pretty excited that it fits again. Not so excited that my wedding band is falling off, but hey, that's life. Stuff is fixable, or barring that, replaceable. Weight loss is weird, though.
And you'll have to excuse my dorky faces, I get really nervous when someone takes my picture and make goofy faces like Calvin. It's just because I feel really awkward and embarrassed. Hopefully I'll get over it!

edited: removed image that kept popping up on german google searches for weird reasons YEAH NO THANKS

Friday, May 27, 2011

Because Growth is Important

Growing is important, admitting you were a shithead and incredibly unpleasant is too. I've been thinking about this, especially in regards to restarting this blog. I'd abandoned it for a while because it'd gone of the rails - the rants were mean, not smart or cute, they were shitty and angry and just generally made me sound like this frothing Glenn Beck type of ladyperson.
Which, you know... I can def go there, but I am not that person. I'm not even "drama". I hear tell that I'm (somehow, somewhat mysteriously to me) the level-headed friend who won't feed you a line of bs, someone who can put things in a way that is straightforward but funny. But here, on this blog, it got gross. It got nutty and ugly and it wasn't funny, it was mean and angry and sanctimoniously shitty. Prepartum depression had a whole shitload to do with this, I'm not even gonna lie or dick around veiling that right there. And everyone now is all... "yeah, no shit, Miss Thing". I know. Hey, I didn't even know it was a thing, you know?
Rest assured my baby Tupperware days are over.
So yeah, I've gone back and deleted the grossest, ookiest, and most awkwardly heinous stuff on here. I didn't want to start entirely over. As I read through things here, I actually remembered some stuff I'd forgotten about! How cool! But then, as the pregnancy wore on, so did the shittiness. The "I know it all, fuck you" doctrinaire bullshit started much earlier though, and I want to put an apology and an acknowledgment out into the ether and vapors that is Bloglandia for whatever that is worth or affects.

The best thing, for me, about being a parent and writing and communicating with people as much as I can is that my compassion grows. My capacity to be righteous and stand in someone else's shoes grows and I like that. I can look at things that would just out and out enrage me back in the hormonal psychosis and see where I was coming at things wrong. My big resolution this year was to be more upright and come correct as much as I possibly can. Being judgmental is useful, but being married to those judgments or using that to make value assessments of someone as a whole is not. And mostly, it isn't my thing to concern myself with.

I'm not trying to get up my ass or holier than thou here. I'm not.
But the thing is... hm. The longer I parent two small humans who have their own travails and needs that are occasionally beyond my personal capacity to fulfill, the less apt I am to have a strong opinion about any one way to parent or any one way to be a good person. I have less of a strident political opinion, I have less of a tendency to think someone's trash or stupid or fucking up.
Let me explain how I'm getting to this slightly less awful state of being.
My kids are both extremely challenging. Saderator is a dismantler of anything in her grasp, and a scary, parrot-level problem solver. She's TWO. To watch her during the day, I pretty much have to sit in a central location and keep one eye on her continuously, because otherwise tears, bodily harm, broken glass, cat scratches, bloody noses, or dishsoap in my dvd player WILL occur. I go to bed at night and feel like I've run a marathon, no lie. Mr Man is pretty rough to run himself, but in an entirely different way. Squidge was recently diagnosed with *extreme* Attention Deficit, which we've been half-unknowingly but occasionally suspecting and continually coping with for four years now. It's all been rough. The roughest part is accepting that his brain simply doesn't work like mine, and that when I ask him to engage in the real world and focus that not only is he incapable, he feels worse for my confusion, frustration, and yep, occasional anger. Having a kid who spaces out so hard that he literally wanders into traffic is incredibly difficult, and gives you perspective even on kids who are the opposite, those "monster" children that jump around like holler monkeys and the parents we scorn for their inability to get their damn shit together and punish them accordingly. You don't know their shit. You don't know how often they go to bed late, thrashed, drained, and crying because they feel like they are continually fucking their kids up. You don't know how hard they try the best they know how to help their kids. Sometimes, the kids need help, and sometimes, hard as it may be to believe, the parents are NOT clued in. Denial and butthurtism go a long way when it's your baby. And no, you don't just "get over it". It's a process, sometimes it takes an outside impetus, and sometimes it happens organically.
Not often organically, though. Something about being a protective parent makes you pretty blind to when your kid is wired different, especially if it's harmful. Assbackwards, but pretty true from my (anecdotal to y'all) experience.
My good (dear, sweet, lovely and insanely intelligent) girlfriend has a sweet little boy who is currently being helped with some of his own challenges, and she and I had a good chat about being completey butthurt about not being able to be SuperHumanParent and fix all your kids' stuff on our own, kind of insomuch as it's a phase YOU go through. Talking to her about her experiences and her process helped me define my family's and my personal experience with Squidge's issues. When you have any sort of hiccup that turns into a Big Effin Deal, you get mega butthurt, you have an acceptance period, then a long adjustment period. If you try and work it out you're doing better than so many people, is what you have to remember. Introspection is tough, and it's rare. It's like a mantra: "I'm not fucking this up, because if nothing else, I am TRYING" because that whole process is harder than childbirth itself.
If you can surrender to the fact that no, you are mom but you CAN'T fix everything, you're superhuman. If you can surrender to being human and being flawed and still be able to have faith in what you're doing, you're astounding and I want to be your friend even if I don't agree with your path.

To put your ego aside, to do the absolute best and to try and do the absolute most RIGHT by your kid is the most righteous thing anyone can do. It applies to more than parents and children, it applies to your relationships with anyone, it applies to how you lead your life.

I get a lot of uppity posts on my facebook feed condemning each other for their choices - people who eat "clean", nonparents who want to get up their own superior butts about cloth diapering (get it, pun) and breastfeeding, people who make condescending, classist comments that start with "I don't see how ANYone with HALF A BRAIN can...." yeah. It gets on my tit, man. And I want to open my mouth and be an asshole right back, but then I remember the blog here, the shit I've come with that was so far from correct or righteous or compassionate, and I stop. I've been that asshole, in longer forms. With paragraphs. With judgey shitty statements. With absolutism. So I try to think of my journey here, to being calmer, to being more accepting, to be more willing to slow down and stand in another light and look at things from that angle and see if my bullshit still holds water. I try and be calm, and I try to offer my experience or food for thought from a standpoint that only asks for an effort in the direction of that mentality. Maybe just in the neighborhood of it. Maybe just the same county. But it matters. It matters to not be a dick. It matters to be kind, it's important to try and come clear and correct and from a *truly* righteous heart, not a self-righteous one.
I tell you what, though, it's hard as shit to grow up when you get older. And I wish someone would've mentioned to me that the growing up doesn't start or stop or have a direction. I thought I would've been done eating crow and looking back while cringing by now.
So. You know. That was a lot of brain spew, and touchy feely and awkward for me, but I really feel deeply about it and about what I'm doing here now, so it had to be put out there and established. I love you all, I love writing, and I want to be happy to do it again. But it's all kinda different now. So hopefully now that I've worked that one out and gotten it all out, I can get over my stupid shit tiptoeing around here and get back to it.


Ms SSA, Deebee, Toadhead, Ms Thang, The Amazon, and always the Squid.