Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Wha'da'ya Think???

....ya think that Matzo grows on trees?!?!?!
Happy Passover Y'all!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fandango Fantasy... or it's a Jungle Out There

I went to the Orlando Area Polymer Clay Fandango Retreat again this year. I just finished up our Christi Friesen Project and have it hanging on the wall. Fantasy mirror or some such thing the class was called.

The supply list for the class called for a 6 inch mirror. Marsha and I discussed it and decided that we wanted to work together on a project. When we arrived at Lake Yale we met up with Christi quickly and told her our plan. She said "It's a very 'in' thing to do these days." She called it a collaboration and said all the artists are doing it now.

"Yeah, whatever" we said, "we just want to see if we can actually work together!"
We started with a 12 inch mirror. We figured it would be a challenge to make it work since our styles are so very different. We started off at 9 AM the morning of our Christi class... 'On a roll'. We purposely bickered and fussed at each other as we began to get into the spirit of collaboration. Not sure if it helped the spirits but it was fun as I tend to work tiny and detailed, Marsha works big and bold. We reversed roles. I wanted everything BIG and Marsha kept turning out small flowers and leaves.
Christi kept us encouraged with the idea that there are no rules for this project... this is a Dr. Seuss kind of creation. If the leaves want to be purple they can be purple. If the flowers are striped and plaid... no problem. We quickly forgot to fuss and kept cranking that pasta machine with all manner of strange color combinations.
We were so busy that we took only one picture... and it was when we were coming down the home stretch of the class.... and that's when the panic began. Three pieces of card stock was not going to provide proper support for our mirror's travel home

We'd planned on everything except how to get the unbaked mirror home! We had nothing to set it on to keep it safe in transport.

I searched our room. Nothing.

I searched the car. Nothing.

This was starting to look grim...

We saw a couple of options... beg the cafeteria staff for a box. We didn't have the nerve.

Go to Walgreen's and hope for a cookie sheet or a dumpster dive opportunity. Didn't want to give up any retreat time to take the trip.

Finally, a fellow retreat-er rescued us. She had a mailing box, still flat, in her car. She brought it to us. The mirror fit. We could get it home.
It was back to regular panic. As the mirror grew, we realized that this thing could be a challenge to hang safely. Marsha tracked down Christi for some last minute advice on hangers. "Three wire hangers" she said.

"THREE" we said?!?!

Three hangers on the back?
"Yeah baby" was the answer.

The mirror became the centerpiece of the car when we started packing. Nothing could infringe on our Christi mirror... with or without hangers.

We arrived home and Marsha was given the honor of carrying the mirror inside. She only got that honor because I take better pictures.

The mirror took up residence on a craft table as the story had to be continued.

Marsha took charge of 'shiny'. She spent a day dabbing on mica powders. Then I started adding beads and more leaves. After several consults there was still an empty spot and Marsha said, "Needs another flower of some leaves or something... There." and she poked in the general direction of the top of the mirror.

I looked at her and said. "Fine, I'm tired of working by myself on it, YOU fix it!"

She did... here's her last flower to fill the hole.
Time to bake.

I was in charge of toilet papering it. We decided we really should have brought home a supply from Lake Yale. After all, everyone else had baked theirs there and therefore they used Lake Yale potty paper. Alas, I had to raid my own bathroom.

I got everything supported so it wouldn't sag in the oven. This was a big baby and was going to take quite a while to cook... and nothing was going to droop in the heat. if I had anything to stuff into it. I fixed the shelves in the kitchen oven and did a test run to check the temperature. Reconfirmed that the oven bakes hot. 25 degrees to be exact.

Finally the mirror met the oven. We baked... and we baked... and we baked. I checked the temp and the condition of the mirror every 15 minutes. All came off according to schedule. Except for hangers, the mirror was done.

The orange thing at the bottom is my rendition of a funky fungus that was growing at Lake Yale. We almost convinced California Christi that those strange looking things are where flamingos come from.

Maureen Carlson got in on the story and while she was checking one out up close and personal, she stepped on it. That's one less flamingo in the world. She googled it while we were there and came up with a name for the fungus, but I've forgotten what it is - other than funky fungus. Whatever it is, it all rotted when the weather got sunny.

In the meantime, Maureen had been keeping an eye on the mirror. She asked, "But... who lives there??" I didn't know at the time.

Then Marsha showed up cradling a tiny mouse on a leaf. Christi had made it during a demo and had given it to Marsha.

And look, it just snuggled in... right there.

So today, I added hanging wires to the back of the mirror. Yes, three of them.

Christi, if you ever find your way to this blog and read this far....

I have a question. Have YOU ever tried to get all the nails in the right places on the wall to match three hangers... and then actually get all three nails hooked into all three hangers?!?!

I did it... finally!

The little stone dangling on the right side of the mirror is from Jerusalem. It's a jungle there you know.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Crawling the Labyrinth

I decided this past weekend that it was time to revive my backyard labyrinth. I know posts here have been few and far between but life circumstances knocked me for a loop. Perhaps I'm back up and blogging now, I'll just have to wait and see.

On to the labyrinth.

It was a beautiful sunny weekend and I was itching to get outside and putter.
I wandered outside to see where I was being led. I soon found myself down on my knees, pulling leaves and grass away from my labyrinth. It was almost totally covered with leaves. The grass was trying to crawl over the walls. It was a very neglected thing.

I was just going to pluck a bit of grass off the outside edge but soon I found myself with a pile of stuff that I couldn't just leave there. I rounded up a trash container - a big plastic flower pot with handles - and began my crawl. I started at the entrance and alternately traveled on my knees or on my butt... dragging my flower pot with me.

I used my fingers as my rake and scooped up the leaves. I pulled out up the dormant grass that was infringing on the structure. When my pot got full, I stood and stretched out the kinks then picked up my pot and took it to the compost pile.

It was a slow and steady scoot.

Slow was good that day, I needed it. I moved so slowly and so close to the ground that I was able to stop and see the bugs. I found a dried up bug carcass. The bugs on the ground and the bugs in my thinking.

Something about that carcass just caught my attention. Bug - been there and gone. Life moves on.

I keep up my scoot.


I'm fortunate to be living in my childhood home. That's not an experience that most folks have anymore.

When I crawled that labyrinth, my thoughts turned back to my childhood.
Squealing somersaults in the itchy green grass.
Games of Tag with the neighborhood kids.
Watching as the neighbor boys filled a garden hose with gas, then lit it and spun it around their heads. (I wasn't allowed to play with those kids...)

I remembered that my Father's tomato garden was "right about here". I continued on around the labyrinth circuit. I passed the bunny rabbit and tidied it up. He'd been knocked over during the winter and had been hidden by the leaves.

He's guarding his rocky rocks again.

The ribbon grass in front of the bunny was my Father's pride and joy. It's a variety that's hard to come by and is very slow growing. One time a local nursery owner, driving by, noticed it, stopped and asked my Father if he could dig it up. He'd trade anything in his nursery for it, he said.

Whatever Dad wanted, he could have, if he'd just part with his ribbon grass. My Father answered with a very firm "NO deal." Most of that grass is still in the front yard where my Father planted it, but I've been slowly transplanting it to special places.

Places to remember.
Scooting on... leafy fingers, muddy knees.

I'd forgotten the race horse. He was well hidden in overgrown shrubbery and piles of leaves.

It's Marsha's. I don't know the story, it's hers to remember when she walks the labyrinth.

I push on to the finish line even though it's a long way off and I won't hit it until the next day.

I'm remembering stories now. The stories my Mother used to tell me. Stories of how she and my Father had to tame that back yard. When they moved into the house in 1954 she said... "The trees were so close together that I couldn't stretch out my arms without touching one."

She and my Father cleared the land together. The yard was full of poison ivy. My Father tried to burn it once she said. "Don't ever burn poison ivy," was a very early lesson. Apparently the oils become suspended in the air. My Father ended up with poison ivy itch everywhere... "Yes, even 'there'.

Then I remembered another story... my Mother and Father crawled the whole back yard, planting sprigs of grass and pulling weeds. It was comforting this weekend to crawl where they had crawled... especially since all the poison ivy is gone.

Thinking about moved on to more current events in my life. A little light shiner reminded me that it's OK to be confused.

It's OK to wonder which way to go.

Scoot, pull, rake....
Sometimes, all you can do is gather up the broken pieces and keep going.

I stopped and stretched out on my back in the middle of the labyrinth. It was a beautiful sky.

Another 'remember' of childhood, lying in the yard with a friend. Finding dogs and rabbits in the clouds. Giggling.
Same yard. Wishing and dreaming, then and now.

On around the labyrinth I went.

Sometimes a bit of wine helps the whine.

Elephant tackles glass boulder.
Bunnies and Elephants and snakes... Oh My!

Tucked under the leaves, I found a tiny pine tree and a scrawny holy bush have taken root.

And the crawl continues back to where it began.