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Thursday, January 17

seeing stars

OK, I've been a bit grumpy. It's the application blues. I have it every year. Plus, my studio is a disaster and I can't work up the motivation to go into the cold attic and clean up. Russ is away for a few days, and I am missing him. So, when I buckled up Quincy to take him for a walk, I was just hoping he would pee quick so I could get back in my big chair and continue to grumble and procrastinate.

I was not my best self this morning.

There was a soft snow in the air, barely there, tiny dots of white against a gray sky. Perfect back drop for my mood.

And then a flake landed on Quincy's shiny black coat. I don't know why I noticed such a thing, but I did. It was a perfect star. 6 or 8 points, it was too tiny to tell for sure. The center was lace. I could see the flake perfectly against the black and it stopped me cold. (no pun intended. maybe) I mean, you see those blown up photos of snowflakes all the time, but how often does one present itself to you in all it's miraculous perfection, just big enough for the naked eye to admire? Not one this tiny for sure. Life is truly magical, I thought. Just look at that. My cliche alert did not go off. It was just too perfect.

I reached into my pocket hoping to find my iPhone so I could take a picture. Of course not. I pondered whether I would be able to run in for my camera. I looked  back at the flake and it was evaporating. First the points, then the outside of the circle, then the lace. It melted in slow motion, leaving a soft white haze before it went away totally.

Well, so much for miracles, I grumbled to my whiny self, and I coaxed Q to hurry, promising cheese when we got back inside. A flake drifted by, landed on my lashes and I brushed it off. Then I looked down and saw that my coat had little flakes all over it. Star flakes. Perfect. Tiny. Lacy.

Look at me, all covered in stars, I thought. It was a gift I realized.  A bubble rose in my chest, pushing the grump out, letting the star gazer back in.

I can do this.

Monday, January 14

ready, set...

Well, the first app has been mailed. Here we go again. Fill in the blanks, gather the pictures of your creations, try to explain your creative process in a way that impresses whoever is going to read it, write the checks (app fee and booth fee), hope they clear, check off that box on your list, file the paperwork. Wait.

There will be one of those every week or 2 now for a while. I will procrastinate and grumble until I have mere hours to get it to the post office. As I mail the last of them, the first of them will be letting me know if I got the show or not.

I have to readjust my attitude, I think. This is business, not personal. If they don't choose me, so be it.


Some years ago, after doing a run of awful shows, I decided to try for one show every year that seemed "out of my league". Since I wasn't expecting good news, it was exciting when I got it. And I got it more often than not. Last year I tried for one in Michigan near my son and his family and was "not invited" but it was a last minute rush job. This year I will submit better work and try again. It's a long shot, but I made a vow.

My life, for many years, ran on a September to June schedule. Grade school, high school, college, teaching. I still feel a sense of anticipation in September. Now it's a May-December schedule with a preamble. It is the rhythm of my life. The anticipation comes with the first warm afternoon.

So, off and running. OK, walking, but getting there.

Thursday, January 3

dewey would flip a decimal

I actually love the way libraries work now. When I hear about a book that sounds interesting, I log into my account, request the book and my branch emails me when they have retrieved it for me. If I don't want to wait a couple of days for that, I can see which libraries have the desired book on their shelves and I can do the work myself.

Today I went to pick up 2 books that I had requested. I scanned my card at the self service kiosk, put the 2 books on the desk, the computer scrolled out the titles, I pushed the button for email receipt and I was on my way.

Before I go any further, let me say that I love most technology. I own almost everything Apple has come up with in the last 20 years. Their products intrigue me. But for some reason, today I got nostalgic.

I had a flash of memory. The little envelope on the back cover, the card with all the stamped dates on it, the friendly (usually) librarian adding a new date on the card and sliding it into the envelope, handing the book to you. When I was a kid, I liked to think about the people all these dates represented and wonder what books they had taken out. Some of the dates went way back. Like 5 years! and it seemed like ancient history to me.

Now there is no connection to the patrons that came before you. The book is clean, free of history. Every once in a while something falls out from between the pages. A receipt from the drugstore. If you're lucky there is a note written on the back. Or a ticket stub. Once I was gifted with a postcard from Denmark. They were having a great time, the place was amazing but they missed home.

I love my library, but it has become a cold place. There used to be people behind the desk that knew me, that would ask how I was. Now it is sort of like going to the drive through car wash.  In and out in record time, little or no human contact.

But at least there are still books. Standing there waiting for you. Some of them with yellowed pages, some still smelling of printer's ink. All of them holding something you didn't know before. I wonder how long libraries will exist now. How long before we only read books on a glowing screen and the simple pleasure of holding a book and turning the pages goes the way of the little stamped cards?

This may explain why I love making books. I watch people pick them up, cradle the spine, fan the pages, run a hand over the cover, smile. It is almost sensual.

It's the least I can do :)