Or maybe just a friendly reminder. So maybe it's a reminder specific to myself but on the other hand, doodling does feel good. And we should all do more things that feel good. So I'll say that this is for you, too. It may seem silly that I need to remind myself to do something that has always brought me so much joy, and on which my entire livelihood is based. You might be thinking, "whatever, Drama Queen. Isn't drawing what you do for a living?" Well, technically, yes. But you know how Real Life is. Too often we forget to just do stuff that's good for us or that simply makes us happy for no other reason than because it makes us happy. And that, I suppose, is why this is a public service announcement. I am reminding you to do that. So doodling or drawing isn't your thing? What is it from your past and simpler life that you used to do every day after school, every weekend, every moment you weren't busy with something else? Go do that. Even a little bit. Every day. For me, that thing was drawing. And it always will be. But here in Real Life, I often need to remind myself to do it. And that's what I'm going to go do right now. My little sketchbook is calling...
Want a totally unique, one-of-a-kind sketchbook or journal? My go-to journal and sketchbook buying spot is this great Etsy shop; I love seeing what Cindy has been up to, and end up visitng every time my current sketchbook starts to get filled up. And the supercool little journal pictured above was one of two I received as best-ever stocking-stuffers last Christmas. They're made by this awesome company in Portland, and I'm pretty sure Husband Guy picked them up at this favoritist coolest bestest ever shop here in Seattle.
Just returned from a cold, crisp dog walk a little while ago; it was one of those walks where I'm lucky to have stayed upright the entire time as I couldn't seem to keep my eyes below moon-level.
Did you see it tonight? Nice, right?
Back on another dog-walk on the opposite side of winter, at the opposite time of day, there was one just like this - facing the opposite direction. That particular morning I was so enchanted by the roundness and skinny-ness, the colors and gradation of the sky and the shadows of the trees, that I had to try and remember it somehow with a quick little drawing ... so out came the little sketchbook. Well, there were animals to be fed and coffee to drink, but then, the little sketchbook. And, well ... I guess I can just look at this one backwards when I want to remember tonight's moon.
Looking back I notice a sort of unexpected recurring theme from the week at the beach.
From the handful of books I grabbed to take with us where I read lots of stories about how Coyote helped create the World, gave people fire, taught ancient tribes how to fish and other real practical, helpful things...
...to the visitor who joined Molly on a walk one morning. Not surprising then that he showed up a couple times in my little sketchbook and drawings during the week.
Really just a pleasant character overall, in my opinion. The Coyote of legend just wanted people on earth to be happy. He sometimes gets a bad rap for the means by which he accomplished stuff, but his intentions were usually pretty positive. The coyote on the beach was unobtrusively and politely curious. And if you're an animal lover and haven't ever followed the Daily Coyote link in my lurk-list in the sidebar here, I think you should.
I'm not sure to whom I should credit the quote - it was one of my art-school-buddies I reconnected with last year, can't remember who said it first that evening (or if they were quoting someone else) but we repeated it often enough as the night went on so it all just sort of blended in with the rest of the slightly surreal memories of that day.
It's a concept I have always believed but still need to remind myself often ... like, um, today. So I thought I'd share it.
Also sharing this in honor of New Baby Crow in the old nest above my bedroom window whose adorably creaky little "mraaaat" is getting stronger and crowier-sounding every day. Can't wait to get a glimpse!
We came across this guy on a beach walk and wondered who we was, where he had come from. Just lying there on his back, with dem teeny tiny little feets in the air. Little Miss Agatha was pleased to be able to give him a proper dog greeting. When your nose is only a few inches off the ground, good bottom-sniff-greetings are hard to come by.
He had landed quite peacefully, actually. From the trail of clouds, it looked as if he had been launched somewhere in central Oregon. But where ... and why?
For thousands of years, deep within the thick deep old-growth forests of Oregon where some of the oldest trees on the planet reside, there has lived a tribe of woodland creatures that no human has ever seen. The creatures are shy and secretive, and cherish their quiet life among the giant evergreens. Long before even the first Native American set foot on this continent, they erected a grand statue of Magic Wood - a monument to their society and their home in the ancient forests. As rumors spread throughout the old-growth forest that a logging operation could be closing in on their pristine and private homeland, they realized they must relocate to a deeper, denser area. But their grand monument - he was much too large to carry with them (the creatures are very small, you see). What would they do? If they left him behind, Evil Loggers would try to cut him with their saws, maybe even burn him with fire, and the secret of the Magic Wood might be revealed. The statue must go as far from Evil Loggers as possible.
Some of the little creatures decided to build a catapult, and thrust their statue into space to live among the stars. But the older, wiser creatures realized that Magic Wood was much too heavy to make it all the way to space, and would fall short; they suggested aiming it toward a land birds had told them of: The Beach. The Beach is a magical place covered in soft sand, which would provide a gentle landing for the statue. And even better, there was a beach north of them that was the longest, straightest sandy beach on the face of the earth. This would be perfect ... a 28-mile runway in which to land. The creatures gathered in a somber ceremony to bid farewell to their monument. Their world was changing, and all they could hope was that they could find a new little piece of forest in which to live, forever hidden from humans and their destructive ways. They watched as their grand monument launched into the sky, as if on fire - contrail billowing behind him - far, far, away, to land softly in the distant sands of the Long Beach Peninsula. There he rests peacefully today. As predicted, humans have tried to destroy him with saws, and with fire,
but he is made of Magic Wood, and he remains solid and constant - a silent monument to the Creatures of the Old Growth Forest.
Anyone who knows me knows about my thing with the ocean. I'm all about the ocean.
But I have a special thing about the ocean in February.
Most folks wouldn't consider outdoor activities involving the beach this time of year, at least this far north ... but there's a special place in my heart for Pacific Northwest beaches during this particular month.
It all started in 1972. We were planning a little family outing, a long weekend at the cabin over Presidents' Day. Mom said, "we're going to have to make sure and pack lots of warm clothes. I am sure it will be cold and rainy the whole time we're there." but I had a pretty good feeling otherwise. Maybe this was just because I was a kid, and kids aren't very practical. But I felt strongly about it. I said, "I bet you it will be nice!" and then my kid brain went into bargaining mode: "I bet you a pair of clogs that it will be sunny and nice the whole time."
I had been longing for a pair of clogs for so long. Cool wedgie-heeled slip-ons - all the fashionable girls had them. Mom was not too keen on the style, and had been answering my pleas with a firm "No!" for quite some time. Looking back, I can't say I blame her. Allowing her clumsy and cross-eyed little child to leave the house in shoes with a heel (even a tiny one) and no secure straps or laces? It hadn't even been 2 full years since I had spontaneously tumbled down the driveway jamming my front tooth clean through my lower lip, and that was in flat Mary Janes strapped on tight. Heaven only knew what kind of damage could be done in floppy little clogs.
But she smiled, agreed to my "bet"...
The sun shone on the beach that Presidents' Day weekend, as it shone on my wishes for fabulous new shoes.
That next week I got my dream clogs: soft crinkly leather, cork wedgie-heels, and blue as the sun shining on the Pacific ocean in February.
Among other dumb things about 2009, it ended up being a particularly ocean-free year for me. That was totally lame, but instead of dwelling on the past, I'm happy to move forward and soak in all that this happier new year has to offer.
Off to a pretty good start, ocean-wise and fabulous-shoe-wise (really) and I haven't tumbled down one single driveway.
I know, it's not really, around here at least. Yet.
As a child, that fact was my only gripe with September. I had just celebrated a birthday, and I was back at school with shiny new school supplies and pretty new school clothes. But new school clothes consisted mainly of sweaters, thick corduroys, wool skirts, hats, mittens, and the most exciting of all: a new heavy coat. Stuff that will keep a kid warm and dry waiting at the bus stop or out at recess the rest of the school year. Around here we tend to get awesomely gorgeous and warm Indian Summers that can last into October. But real summer was over. I was back to school; I wanted to wear my back to school clothes. And I would. And I would be hot. Uncomfortably hot. And itchy. So non-sweater-weather, that was my September nemesis.
Fortunately, I guess...I no longer start September with a drawer full of that new-wool-smell (mmm, smell that...makes the itchiness worth it, kind of). So I am loving the fact that although the nights are cooler, and it is dark earlier, I get to enjoy some more summery weather as the rest of the tomatoes ripen in the sun.
But there is still a sweatery theme around here right now. A couple weeks ago I was thinking about nothing and sketching in my Moleskine, and these guys appeared.
I'm not expecting this to actually make sense to you, but it might make a little more sense if you realize that I draw and sketch from the bottom right corner out. A habit I picked up early on to minimize the smudge-drag from my left hand. I even draw that way on the Wacom...I realize smudging is not an issue drawing digitally but I can't not do it that way.
These guys have been kicking around in my brain...really wanting to be realized in their final form.
No, really...I need to. It says so, right here.
So I started digging around through old rag piles downstairs. Stocked up on some thinning colors in the thread box. Found those pillows that the puppies chewed up 20 years ago. Yes, I still have pillows that were destroyed 2 decades ago.
The first sweaters to go under the knife were both thrift shop finds from the 80s. A lovely, heavy, hand-knitted fisherman's getup that never fit right and always looked weird on. Didn't really have a front or back. More like it had 2 backs. But it was such a great sweater. So it went into the paint-clothes drawer. And it got paint on it. And I tugged at the neck constantly every time I wore it. The other was a tricky little bugger. A pretty, sleeveless turtleneck. It looks so soft, and when you touch it, seems so soft. But it sneaks up on you. Wear it for an hour and your neck will run screaming, leaving your head in danger of falling off onto the floor. This one must be used sparingly. It's a dangerous little sweater.
My tiny sketches were about as close as I got to a pattern. I let the sweaters themselves dictate size and shape. I cut pieces that sort of made sense and started sewing.
Because he was sewn during family-time, the project ended up being stitched completely by hand. Some details would have been much simpler and tidier had I gotten out the machine...but this time, it was more important to enjoy quiet, together time than to complete a project efficiently. Once finished, though...I realized he needed something.
Meet Dickie, Sweatercat's little buddy.
Yeah, Dickie's arms are too high, or maybe his nose is too long. Hard to tell. That's what happens when you don't bother with patterns or plans of any kind. But Sweatercat doesn't mind.
And Dickie isn't at all bothered by the fact that Sweatercat's lips are so dry that they're stuck to his teeth.
They're perfectly happy this way.
And the boxes they're posing on? More about those in a bit.
After looking at them for a while, there was something familiar...and suddenly I remembered some silly little unfinished drawings that have been filed away in the "to do one of these days" folder for over a year now.
I think this could be Sweatercat's entire family.
OK...I can't stand it. The boxes! I can't wait to show you, but it's going to have to be another post. Later. Not now.
Oh alright (I can hardly contain myself) here's a little peek...
Those local folks who found themselves unemployed after the last run on Monday night can in all fairness lash out at me for even mentioning this, let alone go on and on as I'm about to. Lash away guys. Sure, I can wax nostalgic about the daily newspaper as an institution, about the smell of the ink and tactile quality of rough newsprint, with a sudden unexpected fondness for the grubby black smudges on my hands and clothes, or even that little jerk who used to manage to crush at least one blooming bulb every time he blindly tossed a paper over my fence. I can ramble annoyingly about a world where co-workers would gather around a crossword puzzle during a break or strangers in a coffee-house or on the bus would share sections of the paper rather than avoiding all human contact by texting or web-surfing.
I could go on and on...but I'm one of the guiltiest parties in the decline of the daily news printed on a piece of paper. Like many others, I learned the news about the PI's last day online.
Who am I to wax nostalgic over something I did nothing to support when it most needed me? Well, I'm just a serial nostalgia-waxer...I can't help it. I still turn my head trying to focus quickly as I drive past, hoping to catch a glimpse of the skinny-house in Montlake or the weird-white-lump "building" on lower Queen Anne, only to see shiny perfect boxes that look the same as everything else built in the last decade; I feel a painful little tug from deep inside when I realize I'll never again eat a greasily delicious after-hours feast at The Doghouse, where the fluorescent orange gooey goodness oozing from my grilled sandwich is rivaled in cheesiness only by the drunken sing-along led by Dick Dickerson and his organ that wafts from the dark bar along thick clouds of cigarette smoke.
Yeah, I'm the girl who actually paid money for a carload of stinky old chairs and tables from the Music Hall before it was torn down, who dragged my nephew to the imploded carcass of the Kingdome the day they opened the site to the public to gather armloads of broken concrete, small pieces that had once been our big round stadium. So it seemed only natural that I would actually make the effort to buy that final issue of the PI yesterday (again, the former employees can all shout "where were you last month, last year...?" while throwing things at me, I'll take it). But I was too late anyway. Boxes all over the city were empty by the time we started looking at noon. My own jaded guess was that before the sun even came up, armloads were taken all at once after dropping in the first few quarters to open a box, and that they would all show up today on eBay. I'm afraid I was right.
But something that will remain unchanged is that I will always speak fondly of things I remember from our city's past, with little stars...or are those little kitschy neon signs...in my eyes. Those of you with JP Patches episodes on DVD tucked away in the back of your media cabinet, who, try as you might, can't help but crack a smile when you hear the words keep clam, you will understand what I mean.
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