Monday, November 26, 2012

Random Acts of Shopping

How'd you do? Credit card maxed out yet? Well, there's still time, most of the "deals" expire at midnight, right? I admit I bought too much too. But I am proud that I did NOT venture out to shop on Friday. Well... I did walk next door with my son to the Country Cobwebs. Hey! They had hot apple cider and ginger snaps. And I was with my son, so it's family time... and shopping local.

My sister's family was visiting and we played pictionary on my wall. And ate too much cheesecake.

The uni-brow Lilah Bean ate too much turkey! (See the pile of bones?)

And when we could pry the three teenage boys off of Minecraft, they were super helpful and moved all my boxes from storage in my mom's attic (she's moving).... into my mudroom!

Oh-oh. It didn't look like quite that many boxes when they were in the giant attic! I had hoped they'd be mostly old receipts from my stamp company - like the first box I opened- and then I could just recycle them. Nope. Guess what they were? My TOY collection! About 50 boxes of action figures, in their packaging. Everything from Coneheads, to Star Trek, to Inspector Gadget. And don't snort, but there are at least ten boxes filled with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! And yes - I DO have the Ray Filet with color change. And I have a talking Venom, a talking Buzz Lightyear, and I'm not sure if Jack Skelton talks...

I was up til 2 am last night trying to sort out the bodies. Now what!? Selling them off on line will be a full-time job. But I do need my mudroom back soon.

So, in honor of consumerism, collectible-itis, my daughter Lilah's birthday, and my cat Lilo (see note below), I am having a Free Shipping Sale on my Etsy site. Until Wednesday night (November 28th), all US orders over $75 will ship free. Use the code: LILOSHIP. You will need to enter in the code in the promo box during checkout or it won't be applied.

What's up with Lilo? (That's actually, "Lilo Bean JellyBean") She is famous for her role in Zentangle for Kids. Well, seems that her URIs are actually a tumor. That might be TMI, but she's in a lot of pain, slurping pregnisone, and there isn't anything that can be done to help her. She's had a really good life, but it is cruel not to let her move on to Kitty Heaven. So she'll climb that Stairway tomorrow. I'm too much of a coward to take her in to the vet, but my mom promised she'd hold her hand. My RAK is to not prolong her suffering for my own benefit. And also, not to ruin the holidays for my kids. I'll start crying if I don't distract myself soon. Yep, she's my fur-kid. So I'm going to blow off anymore work tonight. Put on my pjs and watch TV until very late. Lilo will curl up under my knees and purr and purr. And THAT will be my memory of this fabulous feline.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Random Acts of Tangling...

I had mentioned in my last post how - seeing the rocks on the beach gave me the urge to tangle a few and put them back for someone else to find. Random Acts of Tangling. I know there are all kinds of groups doing similar things with trading cards, stuffies, guerilla art... it got me thinking though...

Maybe it's the time of year, the approaching holidays, the lack of sunlight, colds, the constant flood of donation requests, renewal reminders, the unending lawyer bills, the ever increasing vet bills... but I am feeling a bit on the edge of insanity! I keep reminding myself that this is supposed to be a wonderful, magical time of year. But I just don't feel it. I want to NOT focus on the expense and the commercial aspects, but that laundry list above is focused on money. I want to take a step away... what would Zentangle do? Seems kind of corny, but... what would happen if I did take a step back, squint at it, look for patterns... can I break it down into steps? I'll let you know if I figure out how to deconstruct this tangled mess!

Last night, my daughter and I watched a cute, animated version of Yes, Virginia (there is a Santa Claus) on Netflix. It was a good reminder that  - whether or not you will admit to "believing" in Santa, or fairies, or magic, or anything, really - the point is actually "hope". The movie points out that everyone has a chance to "be" Santa Claus by giving hope to someone else. Sometimes, all it takes is a change of outlook. It's not about giving the right coffeemaker, or the latest gadget or toy. The right gift is often a show of support, the right words, or maybe even NOT saying something. Like that quote, I don't know who said it, "Would you rather be right, or kind?"

I think that what depresses me so much about the holidays is the presents. If I think of it like a logic problem... if someone likes you, they buy you a present. If they really value you, or love you, they buy you something expensive, or lots of presents. So then the opposite it true too, right? For the last few years... more than I care to admit... I have been buying my own presents. Birthdays, Christmas... even Anniversaries. I always get gifts that I want. But what's the point? I remember feeling very disappointed, even as a kid. That something was missing. A point. And if gifts are meant to represent hope, rather than your own value, maybe they shouldn't be opened?

When I was a kid, Christmas was in December. The END of December. There were Christmas sales at school, advent workshops, lots of hoopla, but not until December. We put the tree up the first day of the holiday vacation. My grandmother and I would mix up an enormous bowl of gingerbread and spend an entire day rolling and cutting little "poopsies" (gingerbread people). Those cookies were an Estonian recipe - they were crispy and spicey and so delicious! We'd take plates of them to all our neighbors. The happiness on their faces was contagious.  On Christmas Eve, I felt the magic at church. The music, the candles, my friends... the happiness made me want to burst! The pews were so full because everyone had family visiting. And after church, I'd watch the swarms of people heading off to dinner and parties and I wanted to be one of those kids with a huge family! We'd go home to eat cookies and Christmas sausage... me, my sister, brother, grandmother and mom. I remember resenting my tiny family! Now, my family is even smaller. And last Christmas, my kids were with their father and my mom with friends... Christmas for one, truly sucks.

Like Ebenezer Scrooge, I've been shown a bunch of variations, and I know I want things to be different, but I don't know what new traditions or people I can adopt. I know for sure that spending an entire month, or TWO months! - preparing for one day - is a recipe for disappointment. No one holiday could possibly live up to all that hoopla and marketing!

There's a great video from The Story of Stuff folks - Tis the Season to Get Trampled. They are suggesting we stay HOME the day after Thanksgiving and DO SOMETHING with our family members instead of running out for bargain shopping. Their slogan is "Buy Nothing. Do Something." Choose Family Over Frenzy. So I decided NOT to do an Open Studio that weekend. I'm going to hang out with my kids and my sister and her family. Just say no. It's a start.

Then I want to start noticing other ways that I can integrate the whole random acts thing into my life. Because THAT's what feels good to me. And I will start paying more attention to the random acts of kindness that others hand to ME. I admit I get so "stressed" that I wouldn't even notice if all my dreams came true. Wait a minute! I think they have! Darn, I missed it! It's probably all on Facebook.  Point is - when I'm rushing through McDonald's and the server says "Ohmigosh! I love your coat!" That's a RAK - I should acknowledge that the compliment not only means I have good taste (or something), but I DO have a warm, fuzzy, purple coat that makes me feel good. Gratitude. I have what I need. When my daughter's teacher says she is doing really well and not acting out in class anymore. That's not just relief I feel that my kid is not the one throwing rocks. Not just an absence of embarrassment, but a feeling of gratitude. I am proud of my kid, yes, but also grateful that I HAVE this amazing kid.

So this week is Thanksgiving. It's not Black Friday or Cyber Monday or whatever. It's Thanksgiving. It's a reminder that I have SOOOOO many things to really feel grateful about. You try it out too - if you are feeling stressed about the crowd coming to your house? Picture the alternative. Then find a way to appreciate each person and what they are contributing to your life.

I'm curious to know what Random Acts of Kindness you have received? What about RAKs that you DO for others? Wouldn't it be cool to have a Signature Act of Kindness? (A SAK?) That would make us like super-heros - a special power! As an example: when we go to the grocery store and my daughter is feeling a little sad, she has this magical way of cheering herself up. She looks for a woman who is shopping alone and who looks sad too. Then Lilah walks right up to her and smiles a huge smile, "Hi, I'm Lilah, I'm 5!" And she just stands there smiling until the woman smiles back. She runs back to me and says "She smiled. She'll be OK." That's quite a super-power.

And here's a weird thought... if you could make a wishlist of RAKs, what would you most like to receive from others? What would make your day?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

UNTangle Retreat Pics

I found Lilah Bean on the beach! Her hair is a big shell, body and flippers are rocks, ladder is part of a lobster trap. Mini Bean is made from shrink plastic.
After months of planning, it is amazing how fast the actual event blows by! UNTangle, the Holiday Edition, was a great success. We kept this one small and that meant we all got to know each other a bit better, plus there was elbow room to work on tangley projects.
The hotel made cupcakes to celebrate Terry's birthday. They included bottles of chocolate sauce so we could tangle them ourselves! Sweet!
Half our group
Our basic tiles - just to make sure everybody has a good foundation... before we start breaking the rules!
Jenny, who owns a shop on Mount Desert Isle, brought laser cut snowflakes for us to tangle.
Linda adds a bit of bling to her snowflake.
Along the Marginal Way.
I have an urge to tangle a bunch of rocks and return them to the beach... Random Acts of Tangling...
The view from my window. Low-ish tide.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Infectious Tangling

Perhaps "addictive" is less intimidating a word? Now that I have internet back again, I need to catch up the blog posts...

First - I had a wonderful visit from Carolyn Boatman and her husband, Ian. Carolyn, who lives in Bermuda, was "infected" with Zentangle by her daughter, who lives in England. (Sounds like the beginning of a logic problem!) She emailed me to ask if they could visit my studio while vacationing in New Hampshire. Of course! I just had to figure out how to keep my daughter out of the way for a few hours... well, that failed completely. She must have some crazy radar that pulls her in... "Oooo guests in MY studio!" Carolyn had mentioned she had some questions she wanted to ask me about Zentangle. I have no idea what they were... Carolyn, if you remember, go ahead and post them in the comments! But I can rest easy knowing that both Carolyn AND Ian have a complete understanding of the intricacies of drawing proper Lilah Beans. And Lilah Beans with five o'clock shadows...

I'm seriously going to get my kids Certified... I'm just afraid Lilah would take over the conference...

Second - this weekend was the 2nd Annual CZT Retreat in Tilton, NH. Ten completely addicted CZTs in one room. This retreat was hosted by Bette Abdu and she did a bang up job pulling it all together.
Bette Abdu - (and Bette's car decals will be for sale soon!)
The retreat was at The Black Swan Inn, an historic gem (with ghosts and secret panels...). Bette hosts Tea and Tangle events at the Inn - the info is on her Facebook page - if you'd like to experience it for yourself.
The proprietress, Cheryl, is rather eccentric...
The Inn is covered with carved panels and textures everywhere. It made my job a breeze on Friday when I had the task of teaching printmaking with Zentangles. Our "warm-up" project was making impressions of textures using foam blocks.

Aha, shoes have patterns too...
I figured we'd spend maybe a half hour on this? Mmhm... did I mention even the door hinges were covered in intricate details? We did foam block textures almost til lunch time!

Prints of textures
Prints of textures on wood, then tangled
I'm not going to tell you what we did AFTER lunch - you have to come to a retreat to find out for yourself. Oh? Yes - just so happens there is a retreat next week! There are a couple of spots still open if you would like a  chance to hang out with a select group of Zentangle fanatics. ;-D

Here are a few more shots...

My new sneakers, tangled up
Pumpkin, the other owner of the Inn. Or, as I nicknamed him... The Great Pumpkin. He was huge! And purred like a lion.
Uh-oh... Pumpkins don't belong in trees. Especially trees with skinny branches.
Pumpkin a la toilet paper tube...
raspberry cheesecake encrusted with white chocolate... mmhm... our meals were prepared by a pastry chef named Paris.


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