After Graduation: The journey of an artist after art school – Part IV

This is Part IV of my online story: After Graduation: The journey of an artist after art school. If you would like to start from the beginning, here is the link: Part I


Because there was so much to be completed with the gallery and Mel needed every moment she had available, she pushed back the art lessons with James until after the gallery opened. The two weeks had passed, with this past Monday being the successful grand opening day, and the gallery looked sophisticated and full of breathtaking art. But this wasn’t the highlight of her week and in fact, when the opening day came, Mel was more excited about who would be at her side rather than the number of customers to grace their way through the door. After their first meeting, James had stopped by almost daily to help out with the arrangement. Though it was unprecedented for an artist to spend that much time assisting a gallery manager, Mel never refused because she needed the help and his well-earned expertise. The only problem was her difficulty with focusing on anything when he was nearby.

Each evening as she waited to fall asleep, she let the memories wash over her. The way he had spoken to her while in the gallery, flirtatious and flattering. There were the meetings when James, Tilly and Mel discussed the gallery, James reached over and touched Mel’s arm more times than she could remember. His touches had a way of clearing out her thoughts and melting her into a moldable piece of clay in his hands. When considering the artwork on the walls, he would stand within inches of her. His scent always surrounded her like a warm friend. Each time he asked a question, she looked over at him, reading his eyes, his features with more interest than she had done with anyone before. There was the time late one night when evaluating the souvenirs, they were hunched over the marble countertop assessing the items laid out in a neat line and his arm was lying against hers. That same night, he bought two large coffees from the next door shop and, cozying up on a sofa in the darkened bookstore, told of his past romances, his future plans, her past romances and her future plans until early the next morning. The newness of everything with James left her feeling wired without ever consuming an ounce of caffeine. She found herself not needing to eat or sleep. She hated leaving his side when it was time to go home. She especially despised the past two days because he needed the time to work in his studio.

She had known him for days, yes, but it had felt like so much more. Not surprisingly, her dreams last night had been filled with his presence. Most of her dreams were foggy, wrought with confusion and odd circumstances or creatures. This one, however, was very clear.

James asked to take her on a hike in the nearby woods. The trees were what every photographer hopes to find in autumn. Gold leaves shimmered more than any cathedral interior, crimson-red maple leaves had fallen on the path and created a thick carpet, still-green leaves were deep and earthy. The breeze was a cooling hymn through the leaves. James guided her through the forest, birds whispered their secrets. It was a path she had ventured before many times, but never with such wonder. She knew where they were heading; there was a lookout of the deep valley further ahead. The path was easily followed. Once they reached the edge, he offered his hand and pointed her beyond the protective fence that kept tourists restrained. Leading first, he kept her hand braced against his lower back. They descended into a thicket of plum-colored brush, carefully placing their feet on the stony mountain steps. They walked single file, his hand embracing hers with steady assurance. As they hiked, she stared at his masculine form in the simple long sleeved shirt. The fabric was thin and she could feel the muscles of his back shifting with every step. Trees arched overhead and when she was brave, she looked upward to see the tunnel of colors shift between yellow, orange and green. Squirrels chattered unhappily, sad to see their private paradise invaded.

Further and further south they negotiated on the barely visible trail. James glided through the forest with unnatural ease. Over his shoulder, he glanced back and smiled; a loving smile that sent ribbons through her body. Then the narrow path opened up. The sun was at their back and flooding parts of the valley with its beautiful glory. He pulled her arm around to his side so that now she was embracing him. James curled his arm around her waist to hold her even closer. His body felt so warm, so solid, more solid than she remembered. She moved further into his side and he looked down, his face moving closer to her. All of the sounds left the forest except the sound of his breath and, in her ears, her pounding heart. Just as their lips were about to meet, the birds scattered over head. It was a piercing noise that wouldn’t end. Confused and unsure, they looked for the cause of the startling. A drumming rose above the alarmed birds’ shrieks. The leaves started to fade. The beautiful scene was dimming as she stirred into consciousness. Slowly, her mind became aware of her reality and heard the steady vibration of her phone. She blinked twice before reaching over to silence the noise. She rolled back to her warm spot in the bed. She wanted to bring the dream back. Tightly closing her eyes, she tried to remember the images of James, of the overlook, of the flock of birds. After five frustrated minutes of trying, she pulled the covers off and began the task of getting ready. In only a few hours she would get to see him in real life and that was far better than the illusion she had just indulged.

She spent extra time getting the details of her person correct in anticipation of the day. Wanting to ensure James hadn’t cancelled their lesson, she opened her email and, seeing one unread message, quickly became jolted. She stood staring at the laptop, considering what she was reading in the open email.

Hey Mel,

Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I accepted a user experience job here at Interspace Media and have been getting settled in ever since. I work with some great people. There’s a coffee shop below our office and my apartment’s only two blocks away. It’s pretty nice. The Paris pictures were awesome. They convinced me to go before I forget all about art history.

I thought I’d mention this too: I’m sure you’ve found something great for a job, but if not, Interspace is looking for another person to hire. Brad would prefer a Whiting grad; I mentioned you and I hope that was okay. It would be mainly a graphic design role, but some work with CMS. I told him you were the best in our class at graphics. Let me know soon if you’re interested. We’re growing by the month, which is a good thing, but it means some of us are working around the clock. It would be good to have a familiar face around the office.

Let me know,
Henry

She didn’t have time to think about this with the gallery and, simply stated, James. But there was a familiar flutter in her stomach. She repeated what she had told Granny Ann weeks ago; Henry was her past and she wasn’t moving that direction. She closed the laptop, grabbed her keys, and launched out the door to meet James for the art lesson.

James’ studio was in the neighboring town, which, on a warm, sleepy Sunday in summer, was only a fifteen minute drive. She had allowed twenty minutes to traverse the unfamiliar roads to the easterly town, but it had only taken ten before she saw the traditional brick downtown buildings. The quaint lamp posts matched the colonial period architecture that decorated the city’s numerous blocks of two story buildings. Never before had she ventured into this town because she had little interest in antiques. The city was known in all the guidebooks to be the superior collection of high-quality antiques in the area. Sundays were a popular day, she quickly ascertained, as she bumped along the downtown brick road. The street was divided by a well-manicured median, complete with shrubs and flowers. While stopped at a light, she couldn’t help but stare at the shoppers strolling past with paper coffee mugs in hand. Sophisticated bags hung off their arms like well-planned accessories. Some people were seated on outdoor patios, sipping coffee, chatting lightly with friends or reading through the Sunday paper. A piece of her soul connected the scene with memories of Paris. Though not as chic, it was a decent stand in. The light turned green and as she traveled further, she reached the other end of the downtown. She wasn’t entirely sure where the studio was located though she imagined in such a small stretch of buildings, it shouldn’t be hard to find.

There was a cluster of open parking on her left, just as the boulevard condensed into a street. She looked at her notes again, compared the street numbers with the one she was given, and headed back into downtown, passing the outdoor tables and smelling the indulgent coffee.

Her nose alerted her to a breakfast shop up ahead that smelled how her imagination said a grandmother’s house should smell – if the grandmother wasn’t Granny Ann. Cinnamon and vanilla was mingled with buttery pastry; it greeted her nose with a wafting temptation. She Mel forged on until she arrived at the last door on the block. The door was plain and the address, 801 E. Main Street, was correct. Turning the knob, the door loosened and opened directly to a narrow flight of wooden stairs.

His studio was one of the most impressive studios she could have imagined. The entire upper story of the building’s block was an open atrium. She caught a firm whiff of mineral spirits, paint and something else that reminded her of the college’s printmaking room. Windows, tall and multi-panelled, welcomed in the late morning light. She had just started taking in the almost-blinding brightness of the space when James’ voice called out.

“Hey, Mel, welcome to the studio.” He rose from a generous chair; one of three grouped in a tight cluster. With the golden light at his back, he looked like a silhouette moving against a heavenly backdrop. He tossed his sketch pad on the nearby console table. The pencil rolled off the thick tablet and pinged on the wooden floor. The sound echoed softly across the room.

“This is incredible James. I had no idea you would have this much studio space. It’s bigger than some of my college’s studios.”

“It was a good find thanks to some friends who work in commercial real estate.” He walked over and kissed her on each cheek. “You didn’t have trouble finding it did you? Google thinks my studio is in gazebo across the street, which, I agree, is a pleasant spot, but not good in the winter.”

She laughed. “No, I found it easily.”

“Good.” He put his arm around her waist and guided her towards the room’s belly. “I’ll give you the quick tour and then I figured we’d get started.”

The space was open and easily walked through in a minutes. He pointed out the most important aspects such as the kitchen, a deep sink for cleaning brushes, an assortment of still life objects in the back corner of the space, the restroom and the day bed that looked to have been used the night prior.  Almost in the exact middle of the studio, two easels were positioned beside one another and faced a large table draped in a heather gray sheet. A white plaster bust of Michelangelo’s David sat lonely on the cloth surface.

“Ready for a study in the value scale?” She nodded, sat down in front of an easel and absorbed his painting wisdom for the next two hours.

 


© 2014 Cortney North. All Rights Reserved.

 

When we go back, I’ll likely skip the ferris wheel

After a day of being busy and working, when my head hit the pillow late last night, my mind turned reflective. To be honest, this isn’t much different from most days when my mind is whirling with all sorts of questions and contemplations, but I needed to start this post off with something and that’s where I’m beginning.

While reminiscing, I realized autumn has been the season when the most changes have occurred for my husband and me. We’ve had job changes, job loss, moving, and school happen during this cool season. One of the most important changes in our lives was when we both ‘met’ each other in Chicago. I place the word met in quotations because my husband, S, and I have known each other since our Freshman year in college. We were in the same grade, class, whatever you wish to call it and we also happened to be art majors. This meant, for our first two years of school, we shared 4 out of 6 classes together. We also ate breakfast and walked to classes together. No spark, just friendship.

Our romance didn’t begin until our Junior year when we took a required art trip to Chicago. My eyes were opened to this man who had shared countless meals and laughs with me. While we were walking around to various galleries and restaurants, I had to keep my hands in my pockets to resist reaching out and grasping his hand. He knocked me over with his charm and I’ve been captivated ever since.

SAndCin Chicago

Our first photograph together though we weren’t dating at the time. Just friends. I was also scared out of my mind in this photo. Then S decided to shake the carriage to terrify me further. Isn’t he so romantic? It’s been nine years and my hands still get clammy thinking about it. It’s been nine years and he still laughs loudly about it.

But there was also something we experienced while in Chicago that we haven’t been able to get out of our memories: the food. Oh my goodness I still crave the food we enjoyed while on that art trip. One of the first restaurants was a Turkish eatery where I shared a scallop with my future husband and he shared a piece of lamb with me. Ever since trying that grilled bite of meat, I’ve been lamb-free. It was the thought that counts. He liked the scallop, which made me love him more.

On an early morning out, the large art group went to a breakfast place that has not left my mind. We went to Ann Sather and dined on large cinnamon rolls along with lingonberries, which are the tartest breakfast jam I’ve had in my life. I didn’t take the photo below because I know I didn’t order eggs or bacon at the diner and I don’t make that much of a mess with my coffee cup. College kids, sheesh, they are animals. I’m posting this photo because those cinnamon rolls need to be shared. Delicious.

CinnamonRollsAtAnnSather

Also, what’s with the silverware being thrown around and sitting underneath the plate? Someone needed more sleep…

The whole point of the Chicago trip was for us to check out the galleries and latest artwork. Here’s what I was drawn to:

Crystal
Sadly I know not the artist, title or any pertinent information about this beautiful, glittering cube. What I do know is that it was beautiful on so many levels and I still enjoy it to this day.

We want to go back and spend time taking in Chicago at our own pace. We didn’t get to the natural history museum or the planetarium, both of which I know we want to visit. Since I have a love of zoos, we’d like to visit the Lincoln Park zoo. So much to do! Plus it only feels right to go visit the spots where our love began to bloom. Or maybe it was a love of the edible delights on my plate and his face was the first I saw when I looked up from my food euphoria? Maybe, but he is just as charming even after all these years. I doubt I could say the same for a nine year old plate of cinnamon rolls. I think I picked the winner between the two, though it was a close race.

The day when Harry Potter taught me about ribbed vaults

Sunday night before watching Godzilla, my husband and I were watching Harry Potter as we ate our delicious, eclectic dinner. I believe the word you are looking for is ‘nerds’ as a way to describe us.

Yes, we are a bit of that. There’s no sense in denying the truth.

While noshing away at our edible delights, I was intrigued by the architecture shown in the Harry Potter movie. I asked my husband about the vaults I saw behind Harry. “Are those called ribbed vaults? Can you remember?”

He looked at me and shrugged his shoulders. He knows about human anatomy, microbiology and genetics; I’m the requisite art history buff now. Plus I earned the top grade in my art history classes, which should equate to retaining all that valuable historical information except for the fact that life occurred and now I remember not as much as I should.

I was correct, however, that we were looking at ribbed vaulting in Harry Potter’s cherished school. Because I wanted a freshening up about the subject, I gave myself the assignment to re-learn what makes up a ribbed vault. I found some intriguing information.

Durham Cathedral, Image source: Wikipedia

The vaults to which I refer are not secured under banks, but rather are the archways found in cathedrals. In the photo above, you are seeing a series of ribbed vaults on the ceiling. The ribs are the curved X’s that appear to slope down towards the ground. The vault is the archway, which is pointed in the above photo, and are situated on both sides of the ‘X’-shaped ribs. Even though we may immediately think the look is purely decorative and a good way to break up what could be a boring piece of ceiling, the ribs identify an architectural feature. When you see a ribbed vault, what you are actually looking at is an intersection of two pathways (or a pathway and two windows) within a cathedral.

Let’s say you have two pathways running perpendicular to one another in your cathedral and they end up crossing paths. What do you do at this intersection? How do you make the two rounded ceilings overlap nicely and have the added bonus of good support so they don’t collapse down on your visitors? The photo below shows what architects came up with when a pathway intersected with tall windows.

To join the pathways and provide a sturdy ceiling, the architects blended the curved arches into one another. At earlier points in architectural history, there were more simple pathways that had a rounded ceiling that ran the entire length of the passageway – there were no ribs, just a rounded, barrel-like shape to the ceiling. As you can imagine, a rounded tunnel was the resulting appearance. This meant the architects could not place large, soaring windows on the sides of the tunnel walls. As time went on, what patrons wanted were large, soaring windows down the length of their walkways. People wanted cathedrals to be taller, lighter and brighter. They wanted a building that would be closer to heaven. Thus, the architects needed a way to get lift and get taller windows. The ribbed vault became a welcomed friend to the Gothic era of cathedrals.

I believe the illustration below does a good job of showing the combining of the pathways. They maintain their arched shape and create a beautiful design in the interior. The arched shape also allowed for weight to be better distributed downward (compared to the rounded arches) and allowed for more windows to be added with less bulky support. This is also exampled below – lots of room for windows and light.

There are stylistic differences when looking at vaults and you may have noticed a difference between the photos above. The top-most photo of the Durham Cathedral shows vaults that come to a decorative point at the top (the illustration above also shows this style of vault). These are called arched vaults. In the photo of the Gloucester Cathedral ambulatory (also known as a walkway), the vault is rounded. These are called barrel vaults and were an earlier style associated with a time period before the Gothic period, which was the Romanesque period.

Bath Abbey, Bath, England. Made from local Bath stone, this is a Victorian restoration (in the 1860s) of the original roof of 1608.

Notice the arched vaults because they come to a point at the top. You may also notice the ribs are a tad bit more ornate here. You’re actually saying, “How could I not notice those ribs!” This is an example of fan vaulting where the ribs are clustered into a fan shape that projects out from the vault.

The above photo is an example of a lierne vault, which derives it’s name from the star shape created by the ribs that branch off from the main ribs.

There are many, many photos that you could check out from various cathedrals as examples of ribbed vaults. The Durham Cathedral and Cathedral of Gloucester were used in the filming of Harry Potter if you wanted to learn more about them. If you search under Gothic cathedral ribbed vaulting, you’ll be graced with a plethora of viewing options.

This is by no means a comprehensive look at ribbed vaults. As with all of history, ribbed vaults have a far more complex tale than what I illustrate here, but since I’m not writing a dissertation on ribbed vaults, I wanted to keep it simple. My hope is that if you look at a column that has thick lines running towards the ceiling, now you’ll look to see if those are ribs, which are accompanied by arches known as vaults. And maybe you’ll be able to identify if it’s a barrel vault versus an arched vault. If you do, A+ for you.

My subconscious has an eclectic palate

Well it’s Monday, my husband and I both worked on Saturday and he’s already back at work as I type. We did have enough time this morning to eat breakfast together, which is always a plus. We even made eggs.

Have I mentioned that I’ve always been on again, off again with eggs? At rare points in life I have enjoyed eating eggs. Today wasn’t one of those days, so he went to work with lots of protein in his belly. For years, milk and I had a similar, tenuous relationship, but now we’re sworn enemies. Yogurt? I believe it was made by the devil. Ice cream? Sometimes we can be friends. Cheese? Well, c’mon, I’ll always love you because you’re cheese. No one can hate you.

“Did you have a point for your blog post today?” I hear you asking. No, no I didn’t, so I’ll continue with my morning nonsense.

Today while cooking the eggs, I looked at the pumpkin pie, which was situated south of the bananas. While reaching to break off two bananas from the bunch, I asked my husband if he wanted some pie with his breakfast. He looked at me confused and said, “Did you mean to say ‘a banana?'”

My question was asked before coffee was ingested. But really, now that I think about it, would pumpkin pie – a pie filled with healthful squash – be so bad for breakfast? I think not. It has vitamin A and enough sugar to keep you going until 8p. What could be better? This is also coming from the person who, this past Saturday, reached for ground cinnamon and instead picked up chili powder because they are stored in identical containers. Oh yes, I sprinkled it liberally on my oatmeal. Then, because in the morning I have the nose of a stuffed up allergy sufferer, I stopped just in time to realize I had administered a full teaspoon into my morning grub. Surprisingly it was a good way to wake up the senses and rev up my metabolism. Maybe my unconscious brain is attempting to vary the breakfast offerings? Chili powder, not just for stews! Pumpkin pie, superior to any strudel! I think not.

This said, I might have reached the age where caffeine is required before the food.

On a completely unrelated note, my husband and I saw two interesting sights while hiking around our favorite, no-bikes-allowed park yesterday. As we crossed over a rim, a tree caught my eye because it was hot pink. Due to an odd quirk created in our brains while in college, my husband and I enjoy looking for colors in nature that we originally guessed were human made. One such color is hot pink. Can you think of a place where you’d find hot pink in nature other than a flower? Exactly, it’s uncommon. But we found another place where it exists! Look at these seed pods from the European Spindle tree:

Image from ObserveYourPreserve.org

It was an incredible sight. With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, this tree only seems appropriate. I didn’t take this photo, but this is a great representation of the pods. In fact, the pods we saw may have even been a touch brighter.

The other interesting sight was seeing a Horned Grebe diving under the water.

Horned Grebe Photo

Image from AllAboutBirds.org

The above photo is the Grebe during summer, which it is not here in Ohio. Our little bird was less ornate in preparation for winter. They are a migratory bird for Ohio so we were thrilled to get to see a species that ordinarily would have passed by without our notice. It was amusing to watch it dive under the water. It’s little head would flick around while watching the fish underneath the surface. When it was the right time, it would get its little body ready and leap face first into the dark water. It was quite animated. There are some good examples on YouTube if you’re interested in watching. Just as we were turning to leave the little bird, it began calling out a twirly little tune. Then it dove back under the calm surface looking for some fishy breakfast. Yum, not. But, I eat chili powder for breakfast so who am I to judge?

We rounded out our day by watching Godzilla. Let me tell you, it was some science fiction. If you’re yearning for a movie that includes ancient creatures battling in a major metropolitan city, well, look no further, dear reader. My husband grew up watching Godzilla, I did not, but I love a great science fiction movie; I was game. I had to look past some holes in the plot, and holes in the dialog, but otherwise, I was entertained. There were explosions and liberties taken with science facts. I mean really, animals (I’m using that term generously) that ingest radiation and want to lay more eggs beside a live nuclear missile? What’s not to love there?

Clearly we are living the high life. Horned Grebe’s and Godzilla all in one day? There’s only so much excitement one girl can take. No wonder I was murmuring about pies this morning – I had an elation hangover.

 

 

Decor Friday: Green with delight

Green is one of my favorite colors, but I realize it is high up on most people’s ‘don’t like it’ list. Next to yellow, it might be the color that gets the most nose scrunches when I mention using it. I blame the 70’s and the avocado green that adorned many appliances, counter tops and people. Oh, thank the heavens we have moved away from that color grouping of avocado, gold and orange. Can I get an amen?

Growing up, I never considered liking any shade of green because my mother despised it. In fact, her feelings haven’t changed; she is a proud member of the ‘I hate green’ club. If you’d like to join, give her a call, she’s the President. I know if I were to mention adding a green item into her red rooms, I’d be met with a door in my face. I don’t blame her; her memories of the avocado green and gold have created a permanent scar.

It is fair for everyone to have color preferences. There are some colors you like and some you don’t. But, if you’re like me and were swayed into hating green because someone told you it was ugly, perhaps the rooms below can give you a different frame of reference. I even think – if my mother dared to read the post after seeing the word green in the title – she might be intrigued by a few of the designs. She won’t because that’s not permitted under her Presidential contract, but a color enthusiast can dream.

I will give this disclaimer about using green: It is a trickier option than other colors. Painting ample sections of color samples will be your best option for a successful relationship between you and your green. Lighting can reveal hidden hues that come out only under the pressure of bright daylight or oddly-colored incandescent bulbs. You may have thought you were painting viridian green, but what you got was a shade similar to that stagnant pond down the road. Then you might question, “Well, maybe I like this? It was a lot of work to get it up there. Maybe it could work?” No, no. Stagnant pond isn’t a popular color for a reason. Use samples first.

Second disclaimer: I had a difficult time finding well-designed rooms that incorporated green. In order to get this posted before Christmas, some rooms will have a great design, while others will have one great feature.

Green and red are complimentary colors so they’ll look excellent paired together. The touch of green on the walls is muted and blends seamlessly with the beauty seen outdoors. If white was used on the window wall, it would have detracted from the view. The right color choice here helps bring the outdoors inside. And conversely, leads your eye outdoors.

Deep brown and dark hunter green; is there a more classic pairing? I like that it is used somewhere other than a male’s office too. This designer set the combination off with the bright white trim and ceiling, which makes it something spectacular. Green gets to be the moody star of this room. I’d love to see it at night.

This is a lot of saturation and commitment, I know, but I truly love the color. I would never be this bold, but the color is a great natural green that warms my soul.

This is similar to the soft, sage green of the first picture. Again, it is balanced out by the white ceiling. I like the softness of the color, though the room as a whole is a nod to the ‘Grandma’s Decor style.’

The wall color is a beige-green, which gets mellowed out by the vibrant green accents. This is a sophisticated way to add green to your room – just make sure you really love green before ordering that headboard. For myself, I would go more neutral there. I can’t tell, but are those camo pillows? I’m intrigued.

If I’m honest, this is how I would incorporate green into a room. I love ferns and palms because they’re the plants of my homeland (Florida). Don’t discount using real plants as a way to add green to your color scheme. They can bring a big impact. Just make sure you water them and avoid fake plants, they’re dust collectors.

I’ve included this room to show how a little punch of green can be effective, such as the green alcove for the TV. What a pleasant way to add a bit of color without placing it all over the room. Otherwise, I’m not sure about this design.

I wanted to include a room that used lime green. This is lovely on so many levels if you’re a lover of lime. It’s also a good lesson for what to do in a behemoth of a room. Soften the faux stone with drapes and use larger, plush furniture pieces. Bringing in the correct sized lighting feature and lowering it to a normal ceiling height helps lessen the cave-like feeling. This room makes me groove.

Minty green and lime green being used together makes me a happy person. If you don’t love the lime accents, you can always switch those out for beige or tan.

This is girly, I know, but quaint and nice. It makes me want to go to a tea house and eat those little cakes and sandwiches. These two colors are close to aqua and turquoise, but what a great pairing. I love that green bench.

I saved the best for last. I know it doesn’t involve green paint, but this is the reason I love green. It represents outdoors and life and all that seems good. And ultimately, I believe it is the reason so many people want to use green in their homes – to surround ourselves with the colors of the outdoors.

And that’s my roundup. Hopefully it convinced you even a little bit to embrace hope in the color green. It can be used with great success!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. For us, it will be a sad one with news of the sudden passing of a friend. Make sure you hug and love on the ones dear to you. Take care!

Scientifically speaking, I wasn’t being lazy

I’m getting a later start here on the blog because I woke up two hours later than my normal time. I’m not going to lie, it felt wonderful and I feel no guilt. And you might think, Oh, you went to bed later.

No, no I didn’t. I went to bed one hour earlier than normal. Clearly all of the very difficult sitting I did yesterday with writing and being at work was strenuous. There’s only so much time you can spend in a computer chair before you start saying, “I’m beat. I just can’t hold my body up any longer.” In truth, it was probably the 37 minutes of Smart Barre I did yesterday morning. My muscles are staging a coup as I type. Oh, the abdominal exercises. And the Smart Barre shelf? Oh, I can feel it firming up. Yes, 37 minutes of Smart Barre is enough to make my body comatose for 10 full hours.

On a more serious/intellectually stimulating note, my husband told me about a TED talk he watched about sleeping. Here’s the link if you’re interested: Jeff Iliff: One more reason to get a good night’s sleep. I haven’t watched it yet, though my husband filled me in on the details. It’s probably the reason I don’t feel one bit of guilt about those indulgent extra hours. My husband also watched this TED talk about the future of early detection of cancer using our smartphones: Jorge Soto: The future of early cancer detection?. Fascinating, though again, he described the talk to me instead of me watching. I realize with this paragraph, it makes my husband appear far more intellectual than me and though I know that isn’t true, my behaviors today can’t prove otherwise. I’ll just say I’m glad I have him in my life to keep me up to date on all of the world’s happenings and advancements while I’m very busy – and healthily – catching Zzz’s.

And while I’m on the subject of my husband, and since I’ve mentioned it a few times before, I wanted to give a quick update about his medical school progress: he was asked to attend an interview at the end of this month. I am so excited for him! I not-so-secretly hope there are more interviews to come.

I hope you enjoy the talks and I’ll be back tomorrow with some great design pieces I’ve found on the great internet. Sending my best to you!

Having smurf-colored ears could be the next fashion statement

Back when I was a preschool teacher, I had stories. Oh, let me tell you how I had stories. Most were funny because I worked primarily with 3 to 5 year olds and those little people have an interesting perspective on the world. At the time I figured I would never forget the golden nuggets of hilarity that came out of their mouths. I should have known better. I should have written them down. Now all I have are a few jumbles of funny one-liners and a lot of broken phrases. I was reminiscing yesterday and some of the stories popped into my mind. Because of what happened before, I decided I better write them down or risk forgetting I was a preschool teacher altogether.

One of the classic stories was during our busy summer season. We had just attempted to exhaust the children’s energy by taking a long walk. It always worked in the way that you can exhaust the energizer bunny. Once we were back in the classroom, we explained the art project, which involved coloring paper elephant ears with markers. We instructed these children to “color in their ears.” Brevity and clarity is a must with 3 year olds. Well, much to our amazement, one child took this quite literally and, using a bright blue marker, plunged the thick writing utensil into his outer ear and went to town. In the seconds it took for us to say “Stop!”, he had done a thorough job of turning his ear, and surrounding neck, blue. We were a bit embarrassed to admit this to his mother, but she laughed it off. From then on, we were very careful to say, “Color in your elephant ears.”

Some of the things I’ve uttered while at that job will forever be burned in my brain. The children were supposed to be fully potty trained and not wearing pull ups. Some, I think, were potty trained the day before school began and the parents were playing fast and loose with the term. When a child is scared of the potty, they probably aren’t potty trained. Just an assumption. Some of the things I have seen, I can’t un-see. I’ll spare you descriptions because really, I don’t even want to remember the ghastly sights. There are things I’ve cleaned up that I thought were reserved only for parents to clean up from their own child. Oh, the tragedy. As a young woman in my early twenties, I got an eyeful. Rushing into motherhood? Um, not for me.

I feel certain that there will be parts of motherhood that surprise me, but there will be others that I say, “Oh, this brings back memories.” I’m hopeful I’ll be less offended when it’s my own children. But really, if the worst I get is a kid who scribbles in his ears, that seems like a win. Maybe that’s why the mom laughed. In perspective, having a child with a smurf-colored ear is the lesser of all evils.

If any other nuggets decide to cross my memories, I’ll put them up here. We’ll see if my memory bank will spring to life and help me out. If not, well, perhaps I forgot for a reason. Happy Wednesday to you!

We hiked nine miles and my only souvenir was this lousy blister

Why is it that the weekends you want to last forever always disappear most quickly? I tried to savor every day because it was a weekend that my husband and I had multiple days together. Three days with great couple time and yet it went by faster than the two day weekends. What’s the deal, Time?

This past weekend, we were able to do some fun things along with a bit of relaxation. The most notable accomplishment was finishing my online book. Because I wrote it out old-style with a pen and paper, I need to type it up. But it’s done! Thank the heavens! I may have celebrated accomplishing the feat with some wine. And by ‘may’ I mean I did. It was delicious.

On Sunday, we ventured to a nearby park that supposedly had trees rich with fall color. Last year we visited this same park and were in awe of the color displayed in the maple forests. I haven’t seen tree color so intense. The entire forest was a shade of sunburst yellow and the tree bark was a deep shade of umber. It was an almost indescribable, artful sight. As you can imagine, we were excited to repeat this experience so, after hearing from sources that maples were in their peak of color (and after confirming that, yes, the maples around us are showing off their best color), we geared up for our 9 mile hike. We don’t frequent this park for two reasons: 1. the paths are paved with asphalt, which always results in large blisters and 2. the bikers. If the bikers at this park weren’t so possessive of the asphalt trail, I might not mind, but most go too fast and don’t warn us they are coming. “Ahem, Mr./Ms. Biker, I can’t hear you if you’re traveling at the speed of sound. Give me some warning. It’s only polite, and safe.” But I’m not bitter. For us, the hike is worth the pain and annoyance when we get to see those groves of trees. Their beauty causes us to forgive grievances.

So, we braved the perils and headed about on our journey. The sun was shining, the birds were calling and the bikers were spinning. About five miles into the trail and, blisters large and angry, I begin to see the edge of the tree grove. I tell my husband, “Look, we’re almost there.” He nods his head, but had skepticism washing all over his face. I tried to stay positive, but had the same misgivings. We had been walking all those miles and had yet to see much tree color. The only trees we did see with color were a few saplings back in the wetlands along with one spindly maple that was wearing the scarlet color of a proud Buckeye fan. We had reason to be concerned.

Then we came around the bend in the trail. We look up to see a sight that left me without words. There was the maple forest and it was awash in all it’s summery green. We counted three perimeter trees that had a hint of fall color – they could be considered lime green. At this moment, a family of bikers whooshed up and yelled, “On your left.”

“Well,” I tell my husband, “at least we were able to get a long hike in today.” That was me being an eternal optimist. Or maybe it was just the endorphins talking.

The positives of the trip were seeing the wooly bear caterpillars and a red tree squirrel. It was just like being out on the savannah.

We decided that we were two weeks too early and will stop back later. This time we’re going to drive up to the closer parking lot and walk a third of a mile to observe the tree color. With age and experience comes wisdom, as they say.

After the long hike, we were wiped out and wanted to read and not use our legs. We succeeded in this by reading and writing. I ended the day with praying that my blisters – which were growing larger by the hour – would dissipate overnight. Thankfully they did and I’ve been able to walk on my feet ever since.

Monday we completed chores and didn’t do much of anything thrilling. We did have a lunch date, which was a wonderful treat – the food and the event. There was just a mountain of laundry to be tackled, errands to run and dinner to cook. Even though the little, monotonous things are unromantic, there is something special about doing them together. We talked, we laughed, we appreciated the good company and we didn’t have our life threatened by a biker. All in all, it was a great weekend.

Decor Friday: White and metallic autumn edition

I was supposed to do a lot of writing yesterday. I promised myself that I would be a writing blur of energy, ripping over the keyboard with the most magnificent of creative force. And that’s exactly what happened.

Ha! Oh, I jest. That’s not at all what happened. What actually happened was me doing a lot of thinking about writing. Some dust settled on the keyboard as I stared at the blinking cursor for three hours. I did write a little though, but not as much as I was hoping. I need to plan out where this internet semi-novel, experimental project is heading. This is a lesson I learned after 4 years of writing my big novel and saying, “Wait, this isn’t where I wanted the novel to head.” I’d rather not repeat it.

I’ll be working on the writing experiment this weekend so I can move those characters to the back burner of my conscious thought. My aim is to get the story completed this weekend.

Oh, me and those lofty dreams! In the meantime, I’ve included some fall home accessories that caught my eye. I wasn’t planning on establishing a theme, but it happened anyways. For some reason, I’m really enjoying white, gray and metallic elements for fall this year.  Enjoy the browsing.

These two images (above and below) are the obligatory fall colors that are not included below.

 

Threshold Set of 3 Decorative Fall Figurines, Target, $22.99

Threshold™ Set of 3 Decorative Fall Figurines - White

They also have brushed gold and wooden versions. They are simple, classy and not too expensive. That’s always my favorite kind of seasonal decoration.

Framed Snake head print – 1 of 3, West Elm, $149

Framed Print - Snake Head

This is picture one of the series. It shows the entire x-ray of the rattlesnake. This fascinates me to no end. I’m not afraid of snakes since I had to work with them for years, but if you are, you might want to keep scrolling – this probably doesn’t fascinate you. If you’re into science-y things, you should check out the full collection. This is probably man-cave approved art.

Quilted Bowl, West Elm, $39

Quilted Bowl

I’m a sucker for anything in the copper color family. This bowl is the perfect color for autumn, but would work in all seasons. And it’s shiny and textural and handy. Picture this on a marble counter – stunning! What a beautiful bowl for the money.

Gray and White Chevron Throw, World Market, $29.99

I also have a weakness for chevron prints and this blanket would be a cozy addition to any room. It has graphic interest, but is also understated due to the mellow colors – great combination. Throw it over the top of the sofa or chair and it should work in most rooms. It will transition through all of the cold months – bonus.

Faux Fur Throw Chinchilla, Pottery Barn, $129

Faux Fur Throw Chinchilla

Many years ago, I bought a very similar blanket at Pottery Barn for my husband. It was half this price because I purchased it on clearance and it has been one of the best purchases I’ve made. We currently have this at the foot of our bed (lying atop a white duvet) and on the cold nights, it is just the right amount of weight and thickness to keep the heat in. Ours is soft, but I imagine the faux chinchilla must be superior.

Dotted Velvet Pillow, Antropologie, $58.00

These wouldn’t fly with my husband. They would need to be in my woman-loft. I appreciate the low-pile velvet and glimmering effect of the small metallic dots. They are dainty and feminine.

Threshold™ Ikat Toss Pillow (18×18″), Target, $24.99
Threshold™ Ikat Toss Pillow (18x18")

I think Ikat is taking over the world right now. At least the design world, that is. I’ve always enjoyed it and I like this take on the pattern. Two colors, simple and tasteful.

Nordic Ware Great Pumpkin Cake Pan

Nordic Ware Great Pumpkin Cake Pan

If I’m honest, this is the best part of fall – the food. If you’d rather eat your decorations like me, I’d recommend this pumpkin bundt pan. I’m not a fan of one-use kitchen utensils, but I could bend the rule for this one. I’d make so many to deem the purchase worthwhile.

Halloween Haunted House Kit, Williams and Sonoma, $19.99, sale

Halloween Haunted House Kit

I have a confession to make: I’ve never made a gingerbread house. I’ve made gingerbread men and ladies, which were Christmas decorations and not edible (because my parents wanted to be cruel, apparently) (but don’t worry. I ate one anyway. It was a mistake. My mouth burned for days afterwards. Yes, I was a strong-willed child. Why do you ask?). Perhaps I can make up for my lack of childhood nostalgia and buy this! At this price, I think it’s worth it.

Thank you for indulging my procrastination. I must get back to work now. On a different fall note, I hope your football team wins this week – there are some mighty good games on this weekend. Have a good one!

I’ll get it done eventually!

There are many ‘to-do’s floating around in my head right now. When I think about my blog, one of the biggest items on the list is getting my experimental writing project completed. It’s the project I gave myself this summer: To write a chapter of a story each week or every two weeks and post each chapter when it was ready. I came up with the idea of taking an art student who had just graduated and showing the initial twists and turns life can take post-graduation. In the past few months, I’ve written 3 chapters, I believe. This fact haunts me! It’s just appalling!

I’ve been giving my attention elsewhere and need to devote at least a few hours each week towards wrapping it up. I can’t say I love the story as much as my novel, but it forces my writing muscle to extend out a bit further, which I know is useful. That was why I began the project in the first place. That and getting over the fear of putting my fiction writing out there in the public space. It makes the idea of self-publishing my novel less daunting. And less terrifying.

What I’d love to have is a section of my website full of my writing projects where you can indulge in a story at your leisure. Lofty goals – it’s what I’m known for.

Well, the clouds have rolled in and my tea is almost empty. That signals my need to open up a Word document and get to work. I hope you have a wonderful Thursday and I leave you with a quote from Louis Pasteur.

“Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity.”
Louis Pasteur