Monday, December 21, 2009

Still Pondering "Home"

“The ache for home lives in all of us, 
the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” 
- Maya Angelou

"Home is a name, a word,
it is a strong one;
Stronger than magician ever spoke, 
or spirit ever answered to,
in the strongest conjuration."
-Charles Dickens

I'm going "Home for the Holidays" soon.
This is Never Easy for me.
It's usually Intense,
Sometimes full of Conflict,
Almost Always feels like a Test
. . . that I'm Failing.

Please wish me Luck.
Wish me Patience.
Wish me Love.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Crafting Extravaganza (Or Why Martha's Throne Is Safe From Me)

I decided to try my hand at making some Christmas gifts myself this year (if you know me at all, you might be cringing a little bit right now).  You know, because gifts are more personal and special when they're hand-made and it's a labor of love and one-of-a-kind and things mean more when you do them with your own two hands, and give from the heart and blah, blah, blah, altruistic propaganda.

Truth?  The economy sucks and my smarty-smarty husband just had to choose finishing his Ph.D. over getting out and getting a job and money's just tight right now, okay?  And getting married means not just one family to buy Christmas gifts for, but two.  I had to get creative.

So I spent last Thursday night (yay, girls' craft night!), ALL DAY Sunday, and most of the last two evenings working on my home-made, hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind gifts.  There is glitter stuck to my hair, caked under my fingernails, embedded in my contacts, and covering every surface of my house.  When I sneeze, I swear glitter shoots out of my nostrils.  That's not to mention the chalkboard surface spray paint that crackled and peeled away once I added the second coat.  Or the hour I spent on Sunday dying to go to the bathroom because my fingers were glued together and I couldn't get my jeans unzipped.  Or the jingle bells that the cat dragged off the worktable and batted into oblivion so that now one of my projects is forever asymmetrical, because I don't have time to go out and get more jingle bells and looking under the couch is gross.

I saw beautiful glittered garland like this at a Christmas gift market and thought,
"I can totally make that myself!"

Ha!  Who was I kidding?  This took SOOO much work and it's still dripping glitter 
all over the carpet.  Plus it's not nearly as cute as I envisioned it.

And at the end of the day, after all the hard work, glue, tears, anguish, glitter, decoupage, paint, mishaps and temper tantrums - my gifts are decidedly more It's-The-Thought-That-Counts-y than Oh-My-God-I-Can't-Believe-You-Made-This-For-Me-y.  It will be a long time before I can give Martha a run for her money.  Quite honestly, I'm just not sure I'm cut out for crafting.

The base of these wine glasses is coated with spray paint that dries to a 
chalkboard surface.  You can write/draw on the foot with chalk instead of 
using wine charms to keep track of glasses at a party.  I'll wrap red 
ribbon around each stem and tie on a jingle bell and a piece of chalk .

This is take two.  I tried adding a second coat of paint to the first set 
and it ruined them, so I had to start over with a different set.  
We're keeping the botched ones for ourselves.

I day-dream of having my own work room where I create and design and bring to life wonderful amazing projects.  Okay, well maybe not day-dream (as my day-dreams are more likely to consist of dark chocolate and flaming hot cheetos and entire days spent with my husband doing nothing but snuggling and reading and talking and watching inspiring movies and addictive TV-on-DVD).  But I have at least thought about having a work room once or twice.  I have at least imagined rolls and rolls of brightly colored ribbon and fabric and shelves stacked with clear plastic storage bins stuffed with beads and glitter and doodads in every color imaginable.  I have on occasion even deluded myself into believing at least a time or two that somehow, suddenly,  I will magically be able to cut in a straight line.

Chunky wooden picture frames decoupaged with scrapbook
 paper and topped with hand-glittered "Sparkle Letters."  

Thankfully, these photos are forgiving and you can't see the buckling paper.
 Guess I didn't smooth out the air bubbles sufficiently?

But the reality is me.  The reality is I can't draw, drive, or even walk in a straight line, much less cut.  The reality is I can't even color inside a not-straight line (if I wasn't so good at reading, I probably would have flunked preschool).  The reality is having to craft in a kitchen so small that once I got set up for my three days of crafting, there was no conceivable way to do the dishes or even make a sandwich for lunch.  The reality is I'm impatient and I get distracted and I am not detail-oriented enough to make sure that all my crafts turn out absolutely perfect.  And then I cry and get depressed and crabby when I realize that all my crafts did not turn out absolutely perfect.  Yep, definitely, I am not cut out for crafting.

Another picture frame (I made three).
Keith cut the paper for me because of my aforementioned straight line problem.  

Also, he knows that sharp objects + me usually equals blood everywhere.  

But I always have the best of intentions.  And I really do think a gift is more special when you have to do more than just run out to a store and plunk down some money for it.  Does anyone really mean it when they say, "It's the thought that counts"?  For the sake of this Christmas, I really, really hope so!

Finished products: gifts for our "Green Group" (long story) Christmas party. 

One girl gift and one boy gift. 

Black & White & Red has become my "Signature" when it comes to gift wrapping.

Because I like it so much. 
 And I bought a ton of wrapping paper during after-Christmas sales last year.

So merry last week before Christmas to all of you.  To those who share in my crafting disabilities, you have my sympathy.  To those who receive a very-special, one-of-a-kind, oh-so-meaningful, hand-crafted Christmas gift (I really did try) from me this year, you have my deepest sympathy and my apologies and one final piece of advice: Just please don't look at it too closely!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday Inspiration

"Where the mind is without fear and the head held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by Thee into ever-widening thought and action;
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake."
- Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941,)
winner of the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature

Monday, December 14, 2009

Going Home

 "Home is an English word virtually impossible to translate into other tongues. No translation catches the associations, the mixture of memory and longing, the sense of security and autonomy and accessibility, the aroma of inclusiveness, of freedom from wariness that cling to the word 'home' and are absent from 'house' or even 'my house'. Home is a concept, not a place; it's a state of mind where self-definition starts. It is origins, a mix of time and place and smell and weather wherein one first realizes one is an original; perhaps like others, especially those one loves; but discreet, distinct, not to be copied. Home is where one first learned to be separate, and it remains in the mind as the place where reunion, if it were ever to occur, would happen. All literary romance, all romance epic, derives from the Odyssey and it is about going home. It's about rejoining; rejoining a beloved, rejoining parent to child, rejoining a land to its rightful owner or rule. Romance is about putting things aright after some tragedy has put them asunder. It is about restoration of the right relations among things. And 'going home' is where that restoration occurs, because that's where it matters most."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Meditations on Home

Today is a beautiful day.  A brilliant sun beckons from its place high in the sky, but the crisp bite of the wind recommends staying inside instead, wrapped in the warmth of home. 

Home, as an idea, has been on my mind lately.

Home is a place that I've left behind, that I'll never quite recapture.  Home is beside my husband, facing a new and unknown future.  Home is with You, and in You, and You inside me.

Home is a 12 x 12 foot box with three windows, a desk, a computer and much work to be done.  Home is a good book.  Home is supper simmering on the stove, sleepy blue eyes over a coffee cup in morning light, four swishing tails and eight pairs of overly-curious, frisky paws.  Home is wrapped under blankets, warmed by the man I chose so well.  Home is with You, and in You, and You inside me.

Home is a place I've left behind, that I'm constantly leaving behind.  Home is a bond that I've severed.  Home is a hand I once held.  Home is the person I used to be.  Home is constant frenetic energy, and trying to keep up.  Home is trying so hard to more, be better, be enough.  Home is a grand gathering, loud voices, lots of laughter, and constant demands.  Home is a tight hug after a long, honest cry.  Home is with You, and in You, and You inside me.

Home is a place that I've left behind, that I'm constantly leaving behind.  And home is a place I'm returning to.  Home is the person I want to be, the person I'm becoming.  Home is open arms, open eyes, and an open heart.  Home is moving forward, and sometimes looking wistfully back.  Home is beside my husband, the man I chose so well, looking out at a brilliant and unknown future.  Home is a great, big, wide world to explore and to make my own.  Home is risking and loving, and learning to be unselfish but still maintain my Self. Home is wholeness and healing and tearing down walls.  Home is looking at myself, honestly, and not always liking what I see.  Home is being loved and challenged, held and pushed.  Home is reaching out a hand.  Home is being led and being lost.  Home is with You, and in You, and You inside me.

Home is a place I've left behind, that I'm constantly leaving behind.  And home is the place I am always returning to.  Home is right here - wherever You are - and wherever I AM.