Thursday, May 19, 2016

Good news will be brought to you by mail.

That's a fortune I just found sitting on my desk.  I keep fortunes - they're everywhere around here - but this one in particular was sitting right in front of my face.  And funny enough, if you add an "e" in front of the "mail" part, this fortune came true!  Sometime in the middle of the night I sold a painting on Etsy.  It's the second painting I've sold on Etsy in the last month or so.  And both sales happened in the middle of the night.  My friend Brenda always talks about the "cha-ching" the Etsy app makes on her phone whenever she has a sale and I've wondered what it sounds like.  And now, two sales later, I STILL don't know!  HA!  Anyway, today I'm packing up this one and sending it to a new home in Bethesda:

And the other sale was "Front and Center" which went out to California:

The woman in California sent me a photo of this piece hanging in a place of honor on her "sheep" wall.  So cool.

Now, lest you think everything is all sunshine and lollipops in Paint on Purpose land, I painted something new and it's not going to win any beauty contests.  Here's the close-up I put on Facebook:

His name is "Party Animal."  He went directly to the questionable pile, without passing Go and without collecting $200, but now he is growing on me.  Gotta love a lemony llama.

Or not.

I have a couple other new little paintings that are mostly finished but are waiting for the final touches. Hopefully they work out a little better than the experimental model I tried a few months ago.  This is going to be another good lesson in not getting too attached to something while it is still in the "I could wreck it at any time" phase.  Oh, and speaking of which, I've got a bigger piece that isn't in that phase yet, but hopefully will be soon, and then hopefully it makes it out the other side.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Well and truly sprung

For the most part, things are growing around here and I took some pictures.

I say "for the most part" because there is one thing that ISN'T growing around here.  Anymore.

See that shallow trench in front of my fave tree?  There used to be more than a dozen scrawny little cedar trees planted there all in a row.  Poof!  Now they're gone, and hopefully they are growing nicely at their new home in Elmore.  It looks soooooo much better now, although I gained another "work in progress" spot.

Speaking of none of that, I've got a poop shrub out in my back yard.  It's really some kind of cherry shrub/bush/not-a-tree, and late last year it got a fungus.  I thought for sure I would have to smite the thing (I said smite) but suddenly one day it was covered with buds.  Here's what the flowers look like:

And here's that same view, captioned "Focus on Fungus."

The whole thing was covered in those poop-looking growths.  I cut off all the branches that had no buds, and we'll see what happens.  But I can't get rid of something with such pretty flowers, no matter how poopy it is.

The other tree I'm fascinated with this spring is a twig of a thing in my front yard and I don't know what it is.  I don't remember it blossoming last year or the year before, but now it's about to burst.

I'm quite sure if I stare at those pictures hard enough, the flowers will bust wide open.  And here's why they are doing so well this year:

Thank you, wee bee.

It rained for most of Friday afternoon and when I got home from work drops were dripping off everything.

And look at these beauties:

Are those daffodils?  We spotted them in a neighbor's yard about a mile up the road and if I were a devious person, I would dig them up in the dark of night and transplant them to MY yard.

The grass was looking green before the rain, but now it's GREEN!  The entire day was punctuated by the sound of lawn mowers.  And it's raining again right this moment so chances are good tomorrow it will be GREENER!  Ah, spring.  Thank you for being sprung.

Since I was so busy being a slug at the end of last year, I never posted Roxie's official Christmas portrait.  There's a bunch of good stuff on my phone, which I will post later in a random bunch of nonsense, but in closing today, here's the portrait.  My baby girl:


Sunday, May 8, 2016

State of the Self

There's something I've been thinking about since December of last year.  In fact I started writing a blog post about it mid-December and I figured I would post it by beginning of the year.  It would be timely, hence the title.  And then, in the biggest pile of irony known to mankind, I didn't finish writing it.

Here's the thing.  A bit of drama started happening at work last fall and suddenly I had extra time on my hands, and that equated to extra time spent in my head.  In there I found a disturbing jumble of half-formed thoughts and pictures, all centered around the differences between activity and passivity. Introspection lead to revelation, and it wasn't pretty:  somewhere along the line I had stopped being an active participant in my own life.  Now mind you, I've always been one step away from a professional procrastinator - if it were an Olympic sport and had a Master's Division, I'd own it.  But this was different.  I just consulted my friend Google and found:

Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task which needs to be accomplished.  It is the practice of doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, or carrying out less urgent tasks instead of more urgent ones, thus putting off impending tasks to a later time.

Using that as our working definition, I wasn't really procrastinating because I wasn't avoiding tasks, I wasn't carrying out less urgent tasks in place of urgent ones, I wasn't putting off tasks to a later time. There was no conscious thought of "oh I'll do that later."  I just stopped doing things.  Let me give you an example.  One day I noticed I had six empty jars of Miracle Whip in my fridge.  Let's skip the obvious (Miracle Whip????) and get right to the crux of it.  Six.  Empty.  Jars.   Seriously, that's not procrastination, that's a lack of participation.  That's passivity at its finest.  And it's just a tiny example, or rather an example of a tiny thing.  I wasn't painting.  I wasn't running.  I wasn't finishing anything, except books - lots of books.  I love to read, but when you clock two or three books a week you're spending a shit ton of hours living in someone else's world and not in your own.  This is how grim it was - here's one of the sentences from the blog post I started back in December:

I look in the mirror and don't even recognize myself.

How did this happen?  When did I stop putting in the effort?  And why?  Most importantly, what was I going to do about it?

The beginning of a new year seemed the right time to address the issue, more in the spirit of "State of the Union" season rather than New Year's resolution season.  I am THE GREAT SABATEUR when it comes to resolutions - I could be a circus act, hence the all caps.  But this time around, I decided to put a different spin on things.  Yes, I would have a New Year's resolution, but it would have a slightly different meaning courtesy of Wikipedia:

Temporal resolution (TR) refers to the precision of a measurement with respect to time.  Often there is a trade off between temporal resolution of a measurement and its spatial resolution due to uncertainty principle which is an inherent property of Fourier transform.

Yeah, just kidding.  I have no idea what that means.  But I DO want to think of the word "resolution" more in terms of focus and clarity.  Sometime over the last year the dpi of my life got fewer and fewer and things started to blur out.  I want to make a conscious effort to bring things back into focus and to do that, I need to be more present in my everyday existence.  I need to be more aware of how I am spending my time, and spend more of it doing things that matter.  Not that reading a good book on the couch while eating potato chips DOESN'T matter, but seriously.  How can I possibly be proud of myself if I look back at the end of every day and see ... nothing.

So of course I didn't follow through and here we are and it's the first week of May.  There were fits and starts, sure.  There was fierce determination and follow-through in some areas, but only mediocre effort in others.  Ingrained habits are hard to break.

Maybe I needed to wait until spring, which is my favorite time of the year.  I love the way it can rain all night and suddenly my lawn is green the next morning.  I love seeing plants poking their little heads up out of the ground.  I love the hope that spring represents.  If the flowers in my yard can re-emerge every year, unfurl, stretch toward the light and blossom into something beautiful - well damn it, so can I.  Roxie and I went for a run a couple days ago and I had a perfect moment, the type of moment I want to experience more often.  We were on our way back home and stopped at the top of a hill because suddenly everything was so crisp and clear.  The light was beautiful, the temperature was perfect, the view was fantastic even though it was nothing special. I felt like I had just gotten new contact lenses because everything - as far as the eye could see - was in absolute focus, and I was so grateful and happy to be in that very spot, at that very time, with that very dog next to me.  I could not have been more present in that moment if I tried.  And my heart was full.

Clarity.  Focus.  Resolution.  I'm working on it.  And I'm cleaning out my fridge.

April 29th there was still a small pile of snow in my back yard, but spring is pressing on:

And by May 6th, in the words of Sylvia Plath, "Cheers for spring; for life; for a growing soul."