Monday, April 27, 2015

My Very Busy Last Week

Last week a lady I just met said, “Sounds like you’re a creative person!”

I guess I am.

I met her at a memoir writing class and told her that tomorrow evening I have an art class.
As much as I enjoy attending such classes for their content (costing as much as they often do, that’s very important!), I equally enjoy meeting and chatting with my classmates (9/10 are women).
My writing class, an intimate group of five of us, had an age range spanning perhaps three decades, but we found enough common ground that the conversation flowed easily. Each had an interesting anecdote to share with the class.

One is a chemist and the child of Greek immigrants. She wrote about the time her brother and she accidentally knocked over their mother’s precious knick-knack shelf resulting in absolute silence from their mother for several days.

Another lady had had a traffic accident when the bicycle she was riding was struck by a car, resulting in the loss of several teeth and an ambulance ride to the hospital. She said that while her surgeon was trying to explain the steps he would take during her impending surgery, she was more concerned with what was going on in Port Charles in “General Hospital” (which was on in the background).

Probably the most profound story shared, the kind of thing one might hear about on an NPR program  was by a lady who had long ago suffered a major trauma that turned out to be a life changing event for everyone involved. “Charlene” had stopped over to visit a dear friend of hers one day. Her blood ran cold when she saw her friend’s battered and bloodied corpse lying face down on the ground. Before Charlene could do anything, she, herself was attacked resulting in several severe stab wounds that just narrowly missed her major arteries. Both she and her friend were attacked by her friend’s enraged son, who was later sentenced to life in prison.

Fast forward twenty years and Charlene finally gathered the courage to visit her attacker in prison. Charlene said “Jamal” showed genuine remorse and asked for her forgiveness. After perhaps a little reluctance, she recognized that he was sincere and granted him forgiveness. Several repeat visits later, Charlene has even started a friendship with Jamal, and travels around preaching her story and about the power of forgiveness.

I felt humbled as I didn’t have anything nearly as exciting or momentous to share, but my audience was kind anyway. I wrote about how it sometimes felt dysfunctional to have two married parents when both my best friends only had one parent.

By the way, our instructor was actually a published author by the name of Jody Casella. She wrote a book a couple years ago called Thin Space. It’s targeted at an adolescent market, but I still want to read it, so I ordered it from

Wednesday April 22, 2015
Tonight was the first night of my ‘New Wave Watercolor class.’ Here’s the class summary: “Explore cool new techniques with traditional watercolor paint and new water-based media—perfect for mixed media work, journal pages and more. We’ll make a series of technique based paintings in this class using heavy weight watercolor paper. Learn to combine watercolor with gouache, InkTense pencils and blocks, watercolor markers, Gelli Plate printing, and stencils. Combine all with more watercolor touches n’ tricks or just a few techniques for colorful and creative backgrounds and paintings that you’ll use again and again!”

Unlike most weeks when I rush in breathless and am the last to arrive, there were still several empty chairs (I think some of the others were in the store [Dick Blick’s] shopping). I was pleasantly surprised to see my friend, Nadia,* who, along with myself, are Shrewd Arts alumni having taken numerous classes under the tutelage of our esteemed instructor, Amy Flowers.

*Nadia has one of the coolest jobs ever, designing displays at the Columbus Zoo. She was the one who first told me about the latest batch of tiger cubs born just a couple days ago. She had photos of them on her phone which we couldn’t stop cooing about.

Like in my writing class, there were five of us in my art class (though one other lady enrolled but didn’t show up). There was perhaps a little less of an age range, but we did have a genuine student in our group who I think was still in high school since she mentioned being “home schooled.” We later got to meet her mother when she came to pick her up.

As usual, Amy had us try some experiments to stretch the boundaries of what you can do with watercolor paints when you mix them with other media – like watercolor pencils and blocks, and special watercolor markers. I especially enjoyed working with stencils and could have quite happily done that all night. As intricate as some stencils are, you probably could spend all night on that too.

Friday April 24, 2015
Tonight my husband, Andrew and I ran in the annual Roadrunner One Mile Fun Run. It was the third year I had done it, but only the first for Andrew. Both of us were pleased with our times. Andrew finished in around 7 minutes while I clocked in just after 10 minutes. Both of us felt we probably could have done better had it not been for all the obstacles (i.e., children!) we had to run around. I suppose the one positive thing about racing against children is that you can outrun them. Like the tortoise and the hare, they may start out fast, but soon get winded and end up later limping over the finishing line. At one point I even heard an angry father yelling at his son to stop. I assume that was because the father was having trouble keeping track of him. They obviously weren’t worried about finishing with a decent time!

After the race we dined on tacos from the Locos Tacos truck and a lemonade raspberry cupcake from a cupcake food truck. Water was free, so we were all set. Since I had forgotten to take any photos before the race, we did some in the driveway afterwards (before the runners in the 5K race came down our street, since Andrew was embarrassed by using a tripod and timer to take pictures).

On the way home we discussed possibly signing up for the Safari-themed Glow-in-the-Dark 5K being held at our local fairgrounds at the end of June. It sounds more silly, than serious, so perhaps a little easier to complete as neither of us have ever done a 5K (though my sister is quite experienced with them).

Saturday April 25, 2015
Fun with Polaroids....

On my birthday last month I purchased a Polaroid SX-70 camera, which is approximately the same age as me, give or take. The store couldn’t guarantee it was operational, which is why I found it in the Bargain Room at World of Photography in Grandview. They have a special deal where if you buy three bargain items, you get 75% off. Plus, they don’t care if two of the items are expensive and one item is cheap. Hence, at the advice of Don, the man who waited on us, I grabbed the camera, a box of transparency paper, and a $2 plastic picture frame. I ended up getting the camera for $5 I think.
Since I wasn’t sure if the camera worked, I was hesitant to spend much money on film to test it, so I bid on an expired cartridge from E-bay and paid $10. When it arrived I eagerly removed it from its still sealed up packaging and shoved it in the camera, pressed the shutter release button, and...

nothing happened.

Story of my life. I shrugged. What you gonna do? Up until today I figured it was maybe the camera at fault and that I now had a $15 paperweight.

However, today the thought occurred to me that maybe I could get that cartridge to fit in my (not quite as old) Polaroid 600 camera, so I fetched that camera out of the crate it was residing in in our basement. When I opened up the camera I was surprised to see a cartridge already in there, and that it still had most of its pictures left. I pressed the shutter button without taking proper aim and out popped a photo. After a few minutes two kind of cool looking blobs showed up.

I took the camera outside and aimed at a couple of tulips and pulled the trigger. Out popped a photo, but this time just a long flat black blob appeared at the bottom of the photo. 

Then, my camera made a funny noise – like the kind you used to hear when your film was being automatically rewound back into its cartridge. I think this was the death knell for the cartridge, because I was no longer able to take any more pictures. I was also unsure how to remove the cartridge with all the pictures still in it. I felt stupid (but grateful) when Andrew came home and just pulled it out. I wasn’t entirely surprised when the SX-70 cartridge didn’t fit the Polaroid 600. Plus, as Andrew pointed out, one of the contacts on the expired cartridge was a dud, so it was a no go from the get go. The contacts on the Polaroid 600 cartridge are still intact, but the battery inside the cartridge is dead, as it is in the SX-70 one I imagine, so all I am left with is two wonky cartridges and a pile of expired Polaroid prints. I am hoping to make something artsy out of them. Anyone have any ideas?

Sunday April 26, 2015
It’s all about the plants....
Today I popped into my church between the last midday service and what appeared to be an impending baptism (or perhaps several of them). I was asked if I could water the stems of our Easter lilies that are sitting in boxes on the altar. Obviously three weeks later all that is left are stems, but since our regular greenery still needs to be delivered from our florist, our pastor has opted to keep them so the boxes aren’t empty. 

Watering the plants involved several trips back and forth to one of the restrooms so I could fill my watering can. I ended up making quite a puddle on the left side of the altar, so I was grateful the door to the sacristy was open so I could walk in and help myself to a good wad of paper towels to clean up my mess. Luckily I finished with time to spare.

Since I was still in plant mode I decided to have a crack at planting our seed packets into the tray of little boxes I bought on clearance at Target. The magic words were, “Clearance,” and “Just add water.” However, like with most things, it wasn’t necessarily that straight forward.

With Andrew’s help we made sure each box had a dirt pod and that most were resting flat, though I’m not sure that mattered. Next, I filled the watering can with warm water, as per the instructions, and then Andrew tipped a little water into each box while we waited for the dirt pods to expand. Only a small minority of them sprang to it, so we refilled our watering can and added more water. Not much seemed to happen so Andrew kept watering and watering until the tray below was fairly full. I decided to help things along with breaking them up with an old spoon and then sharing out the dirt between boxes where some were lacking and others were plentiful.

We eventually got to the step where you add the seeds. I found it difficult to cover them without inadvertently removing them with your finger. Andrew found it easier, so I left him to it while I kept a record of which seeds were in which boxes. Luckily Andrew had the foresight to leave a row empty so we can plant some more later (which we’ll probably do since we’re awaiting a seed packet in the mail).

By the way, we planted Love Lies Bleeding (Andrew’s choice), one Mouse Melon seed (more on the way in the mail), and lots of tomato. I also purchased Radish seeds, but apparently you can just put them straight into the ground, so I am saving them for later. I also planted some Basil seeds in a bamboo planter I got on clearance in the NPR shop, so we have that to add to our inventory.
We’ve decided to place our little greenhouse and the basil pot in our front south facing window for now. Once the lid comes off and the seedlings start sprouting, we’ll have to find a safer place to keep our kitty from grazing. 

Monday April 27, 2015
Another dreary Monday - partly sunny in the a.m., then cloudy and windy in the p.m. When the weather is depressing like this, thoughts turn to comfort food, so I looked up some recipes of what I could do with a couple handfuls of strawberries and about half a container of whipped cream cheese and found a recipe for Strawberry Cream Cheese Muffins. Thanks Mom On
Although it meant delaying dinner about an hour while I got them ready, it was well worth the effort because they were so delicious and our kitchen was all warm and cozy. My husband and I only ate one each, but if I was home alone, I probably would have had at least one more. I lucked out in that my husband even did the washing up for me. How nice is that? Here's a photo of the debris and the fruits of my labor.

Have a good week everyone!