Spring

So it’s 19 degrees outside, there’s a light dusting of snow on the ground, more is falling out of the sky, and I thought I would never stop shaking after I spent five minutes standing in the cold at 11 p.m., photographing the Swinney’s Hardware sign … but the Cubs’ pitchers and catchers reported to Mesa today, so obviously, it is now officially spring.

I don’t normally celebrate Valentine’s Day by dragging Ron out in the cold to shoot signs at 11 p.m., but we were just down the block from Swinney’s this evening anyway, having gone to the Circle to see American Hardcore, a great documentary about the hardcore punk scene, so we brought his camera along to see what I could get. After he dumps the photos off his camera, I’ll take a look and see if I got anything worth posting.

Ron’s little Kodak can be a bit uncooperative in low light, and the cold weather makes it a little temperamental (it and me both — I am not fond of subfreezing temperatures), but I didn’t feel like dragging my Rebel all over town tonight. It’s an amazing camera, but it’s also big, heavy, and rather valuable, so I prefer not to bring it along on trips where it’s likely to end up “lost or stolen or strayed,” to borrow a phrase from Milne. If the Swinney’s shot didn’t work tonight, I’ll take the Rebel out and try again tomorrow.

We don’t make a big fuss over Valentine’s Day, but tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the year. Tomorrow is the day that all of the little chocolate hearts with fluffy strawberry filling go on sale for half price, and tomorrow is also the day that the drugstores will start putting the Cadbury eggs and marshmallow Peeps on the shelves. I think I’ll check and see if I can rustle up some Peeps for my friend Laurel, who is recovering from a rather harrowing adventure involving her health. Laurel and I share a deep and abiding love for Route 66, good sushi, Archie McPhee catalogs, and marshmallow Peeps. It takes a special friend to understand about old motels, tuna sashimi, Nunzilla, and the delicate flavor of a marshmallow bunny impaled on a fondue fork and roasted to perfection over a gas burner….

Emily

How I became a hippie

After stumbling across a YouTube clip today that shows a video I remember watching as a child, I realized I’d never fully explained to my readers how it was that someone my age could have turned into a hopeless bleeding-heart hippie.

If I remember correctly, it was a seven-step process, recounted here and accompanied by helpful visual aids:

1. After consuming organic baby food made from vegetables Mom and Dad grew in their garden, I was exposed to repeated viewings of Iron Eyes Cody’s tears:

2. At age 3, I received a Greenpeace mailer with a sweet little face like this one on it. I perused it after I got bored with the Mother Earth News article I was reading over Mom’s shoulder. Mom offered to match my donations to keep somebody from clubbing the little guy in the head and stealing his fur. Between us, I think we ponied up about eight bucks. (Twenty-seven years later, I watched March of the Penguins and discovered that the fuzzy baby seal I’d helped rescue probably grew up to be a scary, bloodthirsty carnivore with big teeth … but never mind.)

3. MTV spent my entire fifth-grade year using this video to remind me that there were starving children in Ethiopia:

4. Two years later, combining the starving-children-in-Africa theme with the fragile-environment theme, Mom suggested that my best friend and I do our seventh-grade science-fair project on desertification. We won a superior, then followed it up the next year with a project on the greenhouse effect, for which we took home another superior, largely because we did not have to compete with Al Gore.

5. Also in junior high, I launched my first serious protest against injustice by circulating a petition demanding that the school offer a girls’ track team (we were offered softball, which I wasn’t any good at, while the boys got to run track), then defiantly showing up at tryouts and outrunning several boys who had ridiculed my protest. No luck forcing the district to give me a spot on the team, but the warm, fuzzy feeling of making a couple of my detractors eat my dust stayed with me for a long time.

6. Two years later, I began a four-year quest to overthrow the homecoming queen on the grounds that our school’s homecoming tradition was inherently sexist due to the absence of a comparable beauty/popularity contest for the boys. My efforts resulted in a task force being appointed to review our school’s homecoming practices. Their conclusions led to a dramatic reduction in the size of the homecoming court.

7. Using money earned while babysitting the Oestmann kids, I purchased a copy of 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth during the 1990 Earth Day celebration, began dreaming of Trombe walls and graywater tanks, and the transformation was complete.

I should probably see if I can find Jamie a video of that Keep America Beautiful ad and a plush harp seal for his birthday….

Emily

Wild thing in progress

wildthing.jpg

I finally got some time to work on my mural again tonight. I put second coats on most of the large areas of color and started doing the detail work with the paintmarker.

Jaiden and Corbin were eager to see my progress, so I promised their mom I’d post something online for them as soon as I had something to share.

Right now, the mural looks sort of like Maurice Sendak meets Dr. Seuss, because the colors are more vivid and less nuanced than Sendak’s work, which is largely a function of the medium and the nature of the project. Sendak rendered his Wild Things in watercolor, with pen-and-ink details. Obviously watercolor is not an option for a mural painted directly onto the wall, so I had to settle for acrylic, which gives the work a much different feel. The paint dries too quickly to get faux-watercolor color variations and subtleties when you’re dealing with large areas of color, plus I invited a couple of munchkins to help with the project, so I reduced it to a sort of paint-by-number affair that has all the subtlety of a Peterbilt.

It doesn’t look exactly like Sendak’s work, but I think it looks pretty cool, and Corbin and Jaiden and I had a lot of fun painting it, which is the important thing. The amped-up color is kind of fun. I debated doing a scene from The Lorax before I settled on Where the Wild Things Are. That bright coral tree behind the monster looks rather Truffulaesque against that bright turquoise sky, don’t you think?

Emily

The real reason

I hadn’t heard this song in a while. I’d forgotten how beautiful and how sad it is.

‘Scuse my tinfoil hat, but I find it not at all coincidental that corporate radio stopped playing “Travelin’ Soldier” as soon as the war started.

Natalie Maines might have given them an excuse, but I think it’s naive to pretend that this song’s sweet, heart-wrenching message — which evokes, without a trace of political bias, the actual human cost of war — didn’t factor strongly into the efforts to silence the band in the early days of the Iraq war.

Music is a powerful tool for effecting change. And the Chicks’ opponents know it.

Emily

Finished at last

I’m 10 days behind schedule with it, but I have finally finished the updated edition of Route 66 for Kids, along with the redesign of the corresponding Web site, Kidson66.com.

The Terms of Use page that you land on when you click the link to Route 66 for Kids is something I felt compelled to add after dealing with an individual who apparently has zero comprehension of copyright law. It’s disappointing to find out that people have to be told that it’s wrong to steal.

The “Scout’s Scrapbook” section of the site has not been redesigned yet, as I am still figuring out exactly how I want it to look and exactly how much time I think it’s worth to redo it. But the existing design is OK for the moment, and the important stuff (index, guidebook, coloring pages, links, etc.) has been redesigned for clarity and a more professional appearance. I think it looks pretty decent. And I am utterly thrilled to be finished with it at last.

Cross two more items off that to-do list. Twelve down, 10 to go … and I expect to knock out eight of the remaining projects tomorrow this evening. I’d hoped to plant crocus and tulips and build my little Lorax tribute in the backyard this weekend, but between the cold weather and a handful of commitments that are likely to eat up all the daylight hours, I think it’s probably best if I save that project for another weekend.

That’s enough. If I get to bed in the next two minutes, I can get five hours’ sleep before time to get up and get ready for church.

Emily

Beating the winter blahs

If you decide that climate or atmosphere is unhealthy, it will be so to you. Your decisions will master you, whichever direction they take. Reverse the case. Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously. When the condition is present which you say induces disease, whether it be air, exercise, heredity, contagion, or accident, then perform your office as porter and shut out these unhealthy thoughts and fears.

–Mary Baker Eddy

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks wandering around in a sort of haze, feeling sleepy and vaguely depressed for no particular reason.

I didn’t think much about it at first. I kept thinking I just needed a nap. Maybe I’d been working too hard, or maybe I was just overwhelmed because I had too many projects on my plate, or maybe the weather had something to do with it.

People talk a lot about seasonal depression, and it’s easy to get sucked into the idea that it’s somehow natural to be tired and unmotivated when the sky is gray and the weather is cold. But it came to me today that if God is, in fact, omnipotent, then His ability to bless His children with health, happiness, and energy certainly can’t be dependent on the color of the sky or the outdoor air temperature. I finally recognized this feeling of being a bit out of sorts as an aggressive mental suggestion that I did not have to accept for even one second. I realized I hadn’t been doing a very good job of following Mrs. Eddy’s advice to “stand porter at the door of thought,” and I promised myself I would do better.

The next time the suggestion came to me to go take a nap just as I was thinking about starting a project, I had a concise response:

“No!”

No, I did not have to accept the suggestion that I was too tired and run-down to get my work done. I did not have to feel overwhelmed by the 22 items on my to-do list. I did not have to slink off to bed without getting anything done for the umpteenth day in a row. I did not have to accept that this sleepy, depressed, lazy girl had anything to do with me. I was God’s perfect daughter, made in His image, and I had access to unlimited supplies of everything I needed — including energy.

That simple “No!” was all it took to shake loose the malaise that had seemed to hold me captive for days. Once free, I felt happy and energized, ready to tackle my projects without fear of exhaustion.

Less than six hours later, I’ve knocked 10 items off my to-do list, and I expect to complete two more before I go to bed. It’s still cold outside, and tomorrow’s weather forecast is calling for more clouds, but the fog has lifted from my thought, and I’m happily basking in the warmth and radiant energy of divine Love.

Emily

P.S.: I’ve got purple deadnettle growing in the backyard, the garlic is looking good, the sparrows and mockingbirds were singing their hearts out this afternoon, and that hyacinth Bill and Kathey gave me is trying to form a bud, so I expect to see it blooming in the windowsill later this week. Oh, yeah — it’s four days to p/c camp, too! Planting season is just around the corner….

Venus

I haven’t accomplished much of a tangible nature in the past few days. I have a stack of projects I need to work on, but I seem to just collapse in a heap before I get to any of them. It’s turned cold again, which doesn’t exactly inspire me to crawl out of my warm bed if I don’t have to. Hopefully I’ll pull myself together and get some things done this weekend.

We went to the Circle Cinema this evening to see Venus.

My overall impression of the film was that I probably would have written it eventually if somebody else hadn’t, because it centers on a premise that has always fascinated me: the radical notion that two people separated by a generation or two might, in fact, have a few things to teach each other in spite of — or perhaps precisely because of — their differences. (I probably love this storyline so much because my circle of friends consists primarily of people 25 to 30 years my senior — although I should note, for the record, that none of them has attempted to take any liberties with me, as O’Toole’s character does to his young foil on several occasions in the film. The guys I hang out with have better sense, better morals, or — in most cases — both.)

O’Toole gave an excellent performance, as did his young costar, Jodie Whittaker. Go see it if you get the chance — especially if you have the option of seeing it at an artsy indie theater, as we did.

Six days to p/c camp….

Emily

Woweeeee!

It was warm today. I had a meeting after work, and one lady reported that her car thermometer was showing an outdoor temperature of 73 degrees, which sounds about right. The weather was nice enough that I could wear a skirt and open-toed heels to work, which was a pleasant change of pace after being bundled up for weeks on end.

I heard a rumor that some of the daffodils are coming up on the church lawn. I’ll have to look for them Sunday morning. I saw several flats of pansies blooming at a plant nursery I passed yesterday on Harvard, too. I’m still waiting for Grumpy’s Garden to get some plants in.

I would have gone outside to play today, except I had a meeting immediately after work and then went to dinner with a friend, and now I’m a bit wiped out. Hopefully the temperature will hold for a day or two so I can enjoy it. I’ve got a lot of commitments tomorrow, but my Thursday schedule looks a bit more open, so we’ll see how it goes.

I love a good midwinter thaw.

The mockingbird in our yard seemed to be enjoying it this morning, too. I saw it zipping around the front yard as I was leaving for work today. I’m waiting for the scissortails to return.

I haven’t run a step in weeks and weeks, but I’m thinking I might sign up for the Sweetheart Run this Saturday (just the 5K — I’m not up for a 10K right now) to have an excuse to be outside. I know it will probably freeze over again by Saturday, but the run is at Mohawk Park and would give me an excuse to see what sort of wildlife is out. I haven’t spent nearly enough time outside lately. I feel sort of out of the loop.

Eight days to pitchers’ and catchers’ camp!

Emily

Another day, another toy

Chameleon

I bought this gorgeous puppet for Jamie on my lunch hour Monday. It’s a chameleon, complete with eyes that bug out and move independently and a spandex tongue that you can flick in and out of its mouth. It’s hard to tell from this picture, but the puppet — not including tail — is nearly as long as my forearm, and it’s got a long tail that curls up at the end and little mitteny-looking hands with weird pairs of toes like a real chameleon’s.

I bought it at Kiddlestix, which is a wicked cool mom-and-pop toy store that specializes in educational toys. I think the chameleon puppet — which is made out of baby-friendly twinkly green metallic fabric — is only slightly less cool than the peacock I got him a few weeks ago.

I’ll probably blog about Kiddlestix on Indie Tulsa in the next couple of days.

Oh — and lest you think I’m all talk and no action on that “shop independent” thing I’ve been yanging about: The stylin’ Route 66 futon cover you see under the chameleon’s pillow (and the futon that it’s covering!) came from Great Southern Bedrooms, and that white bag in the background is a 50-pound sack of Booster Feed Mill’s store-brand dog food.

I hope Jamie likes weird puppets, because he’s going to be well-blessed with them. I saw a cute otter today that I want to get for him at some point, and they had a huge display of fun little finger puppets, including a very fuzzy emu that Jamie obviously needs to own. I didn’t buy either today because I was trying to exercise something resembling restraint, but you can bet I’ll be back in there in a week or two, buying some other shiny object to indulge my magpie tendencies entertain my nephew….

Emily

Spring in my step

It’s supposed to be 66 degrees out tomorrow. Upon seeing the weather forecast, Ron installed the new headlight on my bike so I can go for a ride tomorrow evening when I get home.

I’ve got a hyacinth coming up in the front flowerbed, but I’m not sure how well it’s going to do, because it was completely glazed with ice and seemed to be that slightly-too-vibrant shade of green that plants get when they’ve frozen all the way through. Ron says the growth starts underground, so it should be OK. I hope he’s right. The hyacinths — which someone planted before we moved here — were absolutely stunning last year, and I’d hate to lose them just because they tried to sprout too early.

It was warm enough this afternoon that I had to roll down my windows while sitting in rush hour traffic. Two teenyboppers in a car next to me at a stoplight had their windows down, too, and I could hear them discussing the perils of “flat hair” before they turned on the radio and began singing (off-key) and wiggling along with the Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week.” I tried not to laugh, lest they see me and get all embarrassed, but they were pretty funny. I think the February thaw makes everybody a little goofy….

Today’s warmer temperatures apparently inspired the entire population of Tulsa to wash the leftover winter muck off their vehicles. When I left work at 5 p.m., a half-dozen SUVs were lined up at the drive-through car wash next to the gas station behind our office. I can’t say I blame them. This morning, I scraped a thin layer of frost off my windshield, then moved around to the back to help out the defroster, which didn’t seem to be doing much. I figured out what the problem was when I saw the little skiff of black gunk on my new scraper’s shiny blade. Rear defrosters are great on ice, but I’ve never seen one yet that could melt off road salt and grime.

If I were less lazy, I’d wash the car on my lunch hour tomorrow, but what I’ll probably do instead is call Sara over at Midtown and ask her for the phone number of those guys who used to come out to her office and wash everybody’s cars for $10. I’m supposed to go to dinner with my ubertidy friend Vicki tomorrow, and it would be nice if I could offer to drive without fear of contaminating her clothing with dog hair, fast-food-wrapper residue, or that mystery dirt that seems to grow in unattended cupholders. The mobile car wash guys will actually throw out all the trash, corral all the clutter in a box in the back of the car, vacuum out all the dog hair, wipe down the cupholders, and squeegee the insides of the windows as part of their basic car wash.

Maybe I’ll call them tomorrow and take before-and-after shots to put on Indie Tulsa. If they’re still in business — and I don’t know why they wouldn’t be, given their convenience and value — they’re certainly deserving of a little publicity.

Emily