Happy Columbus Day! I mean... well, our Thanksgiving always involves Pittsburgh and Columbus, and lots of beloved people. It is always a true reason to give thanks. May your holiday be full of family, blood and otherwise!
p.s. That gorgeous hand-knit in the picture is my friend Laura's doing.
p.p.s. Below, a video of some turkey-roasting hijinks from last year's holiday. I couldn't resist posting this, mainly because I still don't know quite what to make of it. I give you... Turkey Cord 2011! Any ideas?
When I lived in Madison, my favorite dinner was bread and olive oil. There was a restaurant called "Greenbush Bar," under the Italian Workman's Club on Regent Street. Low lights, candles, and a regularly-changing scotch and wine menu. We couldn't stay away. The staff treated us with decency, giving us tastes of new things when we were skeptical, even though we were obviously twenty-somethings with barely enough money to make rent. Their food was basic and delicious. Addictive. One famously creamy linguini had flakes of smoked trout and a high lemon flair. My custom was to agonize over the menu until I finally ordered a small salad and a loaf of the white peasant bread they baked in house. The olive oil came on a little white plate, and a shaker of parmesan sat on every table. Mound the cheese in the center of the pool, swipe the bread into the mouth. Repeat until you need a new loaf. It was the best, most divine, most devastating comfort food I've ever obsessed about, and I just recreated it by accident. Here's the recipe: a Sweet Batard from Acme Bread Company, Spectrum Organic Mediterranean Olive Oil, and shredded Asiago in bulk from my beloved Co-op. That combo will set you back a bit more than a nightcap at Greenbush, but the olive oil is a proper investment. It's drinkable, and holds up to high heat. xox
Winter is coming, the goose is getting fat. Rather than put my penny in the man's hat, let me introduce you to No New Christmas. Particularly, the rules.
No New Christmas was an effort by my family, put forth a few years back, to gift things of a recycled, made, or otherwise stridently not-purchased variety. When I say family, I mean Troy and myself. It was easy when we began, to include Penn in the fold. At two, he didn't have much of an opinion about NITB vs. No New. That's all different this year, as Lego has tightened its grip. Troy and I have been avoiding the topic. To No New, or not to No New? That is a different blog post.
I've never actually set about creating guidelines for NNX (sounds like a boy band), but I'm inspired by the recent ferver (my own) for advent calendars. You've seen these things–they number one through twenty-five, they help you while away the days until Christmas, they usually involve the popping out of wax figurines that taste sort of like chocolate. I started making a tiny-art shadow-box version last year, then abandoned it for baby socks. Until I get pictures, don't ask. (Ask Pinterest.) Lego has an advent calendar. There is now a Whisky advent calendar, recently admired by Huffington Post. Which brings me back to NNX (No New Christmas): could you D-I-Y a booze advent calendar? Could you keep it NNX? Perhaps. It all depends on the rules I am about. to. set. forth. Right here:
How To Achieve No New Christmas
1) Use these guidelines to help shape your gift-giving season, not everyone else's. Be a good sport, and always be gracious when receiving any gift. From anyone. See Rules #7-8.
2) Gifts must be recycled, reused, repurposed or hand-made.
3) Consumerism is not the enemy–waste is. Feel free to buy something recycled, reused, or repurposed. Feel free to buy something hand-made by someone else. But before you wander into the gray with a plastic-wrapped bar of soap from some small company in Vermont, ask yourself. Is it really No New? (See Rule #8 for wiggle room.) A human hand may have, at some point, touched a set of Legos. Doesn't count. (She said to no one's husband in particular.)
4) Hand-made gifts can incorporate new purchases of ingredients. We need food to live. Seems like it should get a pass. Also, I don't want to be the one to begrudge you your peppermint bark. (She said, hoping her friend would read this post and made that flipping peppermint bark again.) Finally, it's unwise to recycle chocolate.
5) Gift Wrap must conform to Rule #2. But see Secret Rule #10.
6) Stockings must conform to Rule #2.
7) Service Gifts must... these are tricky. Are massages new or made? How about that wine-and-cheese-of-the-month-club? This is a wild card rule. Totally your call, whether or not that heifer is new. (Spoiler alert: you actually get to decide on all of these. It's Choose-Your-Own-Advent, and you're winning!)
8) Bonus Rule: when one of your gifts is made entirely of repurposed/recycled/reimagined items that you did not have to go out and purchase, you gain a little wiggle room. For other items, like the Death Star 10188.
9) Since there is no zero-waste alternative, I hereby sanction use of the USPS.
Secret Rule #10) Gift wrap you purchased at 90% off last year totally counts as NNX. xox
November 19, 2012 update! I finished my sock advent calendar. It was actually as much fun, start to finish, and it looked and sounded. I did manage to get some no-new Legos in there, as well. (Thank goodness for teen-aged neighbors!)
I've always loved Boxing Day. And the absence of the need to do anything on the day after Giftmas. The day deserves its own compartment and surprise.
One Snowy Day gave its life for this advent calendar. All beat-up, beyond-repair books should go to such fine resting places! xox
In case I get whine-y and complain, let it be known that today was a good food day. Pumpkin bread was baked with coconut oil & delivered to friends. A persimmon was et. After a run, two soft eggs went down with water. "Soft egg" is what Penn calls a soft-boiled egg, and I like the convention. Okra was breaded with korma spices (and whole coriander!) and fried in olive oil whilst I endured the final presidential debate on the radio, and warmed up Christmas soup. Note: actual soup frozen in December is especially delightful to discover in October. Ten months, well-spent! A pumpkin beer from Uinta Brewing Company helped a great deal. Dessert was a pomegranate.
Today, the forecast was tornadoes. Nicely averted. xox
Most of these photos are from September 15, 2011. But they capture just what's happening around here now. Astonishing, how cyclical this life...
Candy stripe figs from 2011 (I picked some on this morning's walk). Though I'm no longer wearing this baby bracelet in support of Brie, I am eagerly awaiting a birthday snuggle with her little boy. That lovely soul becomes a magical one-year-old in one week.
Daisies and love in the Common House Kitchen. More of the same this year.
Last year's blessing of Muir Commons.
The Anniversary fire. We'll be celebrating another year of co-housing in one week, as well.
This year, our own anniversaries were punctuated by bursts of water balloon action. (And the lasting gift of balloon shards all over our backyard.)
Young Virgo Time Capsule 2012: Legos and Star Wars (Episode Unfortunate).
Another photo from last year's Anniversary Week at MC. A small boy's modesty level has increased over the past year, so there's not likely to be a repeat of this cherubic merriment in 2012. Which makes me all the more grateful that Brie captured this on camera.
Happy, happy birthday to you, my marvelous friend and co-blogger. There's nothing half-assed about my love and admiration for you--you're the bee's knees, and I miss you terrifically. I wish I could be there to make cake. I'm raising my cup of light-cream laden Dunkin' Donuts coffee to you, lovely one!
"I'm just trying to wash your face. So you don't get face-cancer." Quoth the husband at bedtime. He approached the feral child with a washcloth. [continued after jump so's not to detract from my co-blogger's amazing out-her-office-window photo]
I'm a little homesick--for Annie and Tigger; and for dry, clear air; and for the wide fields and the hills off in the distance; and the fruit trees everywhere. I walked into a Whole Foods the other night and was greeted by a small basket of figs for sale--figs from California, of course; figs just like the ones that are probably currently ripening on the tree just behind the abundant garden I worked so hard to plant and left behind; figs that are ripening just in front of the two pomegranate trees that will still have a month or two to go before the arils burst the skins of the fruit.
But yesterday I walked past an apple tree someone had planted in front of their house. I don't remember seeing fruit trees anywhere in the city as a child. My grandfather's house in western Pennsylvania had apples, and the farm in upstate New York, where I lived right after college, had an incredible old apple tree with some of the most delicious apples I've ever eaten. Those seemed like the height of luxury--food! Growing right outside the door! California, with its abundance of edible landscaping--figs, pomegranates, plums, rosemary, cherries, apricots, pluots, blackberries...all just hanging out in city parks--seemed unreal and magical. Easy.
I have a hard relationship to easy. I'm never sure where the balance is for me: When is easy a good thing? When does it alleviate unnecessary difficulty, suffering even, and when does it begin to cross the line into facile and soul deadening?
This city is a hard place for me to be, in many ways. There are ghosts, emotional baggage. The weather here is terrible for me this time of year--not in an "I'm a delicate flower" way, but really, really hard. Atypical seasonal affective disorder hard. By the time I left for work one day last week, I was crying in my car, so rattled I couldn't even drive. My body was so physically miserable I could barely function, let alone maintain emotional balance. All I wanted was to be in the Central Valley, where it's dry as a bone and the mornings are cool, even in the height of summer.
The thing is, there are plenty of things I don't love back there. It took me years to stop being upset by the soulless architecture of most of Davis. The strip malls everywhere. The perfectly landscaped lack of wildness. The brutal sun in the middle of a summer day. The lack of public transit (I took a train to Center City Philadelphia yesterday, and it was blissful).
No place is perfect. If there's a town that is ideally tailored to me, I've yet to meet it. I seem to keep making choices that end up challenging me one way or another, and that certainly sounds like a good thing on paper. But I'm not sure how to keep challenging choices from tipping from healthy and nourishing into extreme discomfort. But then I also wonder if maybe I'm just a challenged sort of person, always--maybe as a category of feeling it's related to the longing Lis wrote about. Maybe extreme discomfort is just part of the package, and maybe there's some cosmic lesson I'm meant to learn from that occasionally ease-less package.
In any event, despite my uneasy relationship with the kind of discomfort I'm feeling right now, my relationship with ease is, perhaps, even less easy. In some ways, certain choices have felt just as much about rejecting ease as accepting challenge. Is that just an adolescent distrust, a need to prove something to myself? Or is it actually a kind of self preservation?
I want a life that's rich and nuanced and faceted. Ultimately, I guess what I really want is beauty and soulfulness and deep search and discovery. To the extent that those things are compatible with ease (and lack of humidity and heat--is that really too much to ask?), I'll take some ease, but apparently I'm unwilling (unable, even) to take ease if it means a lack of the other things.
Meanwhile, this view out my office window is some solace in the middle of the discomfort of homesickness and sticky warm wetness. Rain glistening on slate and Wissahickon schist.
So, I got this new job. And I left California and the entire life I'd built up there over the last thirteen years. And I had to leave my dogs behind, which is, frankly, so heart wrenching that I'm pretty certain it hasn't even sunk in yet. It just doesn't feel real. I'm just on vacation, or simply in the part of the week when their other parent has them--it's not possible that they're an entire continent away from me, and that I won't get to see them this week, this month, this year maybe.
They have a good life, tons of love and doggie field trips and the best possible medical care imaginable. And I had an incredible opportunity to come back to a place that I love almost beyond my power to describe it. And my life in California had been winding down for a while. I was really only staying put for Annie and Tigger. And if they were human children, that might have made sense, and if they were mine alone, I wouldn't have thought twice--they'd have come with me.
But I didn't sit down here to write about them, though I think I'll leave it up there.
The job: I'm working at Bryn Mawr College, in the theater, where I spent pretty much all my time as a college student in the late '80s. I haven't worked in theater since the late '90s. And I never imagined I'd return to Bryn Mawr this way. But here I am, polishing up the technical theater skills I abandoned a while back. Remembering how I love the sawdusty smell of a theater, the oddball problems that crop up, the challenge of learning a new technical skill (uber-advanced lighting and sound systems, anyone?). Remembering how much I like working as part of a real team--in person, on a day-to-day basis. It's different from the solitary work I've been doing, writing and editing and only communicating by email. Or putting together a cooking class in my kitchen or making jewelry all by myself. And it's delightfully different from working in an office--a fact I keep realizing every time I find myself climbing something or carrying something or running around the building at the last minute to make sure there are enough chairs on the stage for the event that's beginning in seconds.
But setting aside the theater work, this job is going to be a lot about working with the students--helping, advising, training, mentoring. Giving back and sharing, in a very real way, something that absolutely was given to me in this place. Helping them, I hope, to develop their senses of self, their capabilities, their solidity. Their ability to solve hard problems--fast, on the fly. Their ability to climb tall ladders and carry heavy things and to use power tools. Their ability to make something beautiful. Their ability to plunge into spaces where they know nothing at all and to teach themselves exactly what they need to know to occupy those spaces comfortably--to own them.
Yesterday, the freshman arrived, and at the end of the day, they were all piled onto the main stage in the theater, their families and friends in the audience, as they were officially welcomed by the president of the college and a number of other folks. I sat at the back of the house, watching that sea of 380 young women who don't yet know one another, and all I could imagine was the sea of young women with whom I entered the college 25 years ago. I remember on one of the first nights of orientation (or Customs Week, as we call it), being gathered in the gymnasium to fill out some form or other. We sprawled all over the gym floor, and the lighting was fluorescent and yellow over all the unfamiliar faces, and I felt both a bit lost and so eager to know these people and be known by them. And then I thought about all the ways that this place helped shape me.
And it's 25 years on, and many of those people are among the dearest ones I can imagine, and many of them are quite literally an everyday part of my life--along with many other Mawrters I've met along the way, both during and since college. And here I am again, home in some very deep way--returned to the mother ship, as many of us jokingly refer to it, this place that has been, for me and I know for others, quite literally an "alma mater."
I told Penn "True Blood" is not a movie. It is a television show about artichokes.
Later, amidst the usual bedtime tears, my suddenly-five-year-old wanted to know, "Are you gonna watch an artichoke show? I don't like artichokes, but if they're not going in my mouth I want to see it." Then, "You get to watch stuff and I don't!" Well, yeah. And perhaps the eventual slumber of a five-year-old is better for it. Recently, a friend lamented having showed her daughter an animated film about dragons. The movie introduced the verb "killing" into the toddlers vocabulary. Another friend, the mother of a boy who I've credited with teaching my son the art of constantly pretending to have a gun in his hand, recently mentioned that her husband is very anti-gun. So. File all of this under no-matter-what-we-do? We've tried to relax about the gun obsession, in an effort to give it as little energy as possible. And we've started "Movie Nights" with Penn, in an effort to have a little bit of popcorn-riddled fun. A part of me wonders what he would be like, raised instead in the woods with hand-hewn chess pieces on a stump covered in checker-board moss. That I painted on, chia-ball style. What if. What if we raised our child with select omissions? No guns, killing, Darth Maul, black teeth, poison, or even that bad man who sent the planes with the bombs.* What would a five-year-old Penn be like, without his tart awareness of the world? Awkward though it may be, it's an awareness. Just musing. What is it that you wish you'd kept to yourself? For just a little longer? xox *Penn's description of Hitler.
I don't care how August you are. If the night air smells of molasses cookies and a kindergartener just had his first day of school, then, my friend, you're Fall. Nail in the coffin was that split pomegranate on the curb this evening. File that under "seasonally appropriate." Autumn starts now.
Right now, there are a bunch of 'draft' posts littering the backstage here at HalfAssedMama.com. The titles are interesting. "Englandia." "Long losts." My favorite is simply "the toyotas."
There are a great many things preventing us from blogging. We both just landed ourselves new jobs. In my case, I got a text in England from my boss. One of our co-workers was leaving; would I like to apply for her job? After five weeks, Troy, Penn & I returned home to a swirl of jet-lag-interview-hired!-ready-set-full-time-job-for-mommy on top of (p.s.) a week-long conference that took Troy to Massachussetts. I'm still skinning my knees daily, just trying to keep up, but it's good to be working at a new velocity for That Store we love so well. It will let up, in December. So look for that "Englandia" post, then. Right now it's swim lessons and scraped-together meals and piles of suitcase innards.
For Amy's part, it's packing and working, not sleeping and tidying up loose ends, because her new job means a rather abrupt move, cross-country. Which means, first and foremost, we will be half-assedly blogging from opposite coasts of the US! (Thank you to Bryn Mawr for proffering this upgrade in bloggerly coolness.) Amy has accepted a dream job as a production manager for the Bryn Mawr theater department. She moves to Philadelphia on Sunday. I went to her house a few nights ago in a work-induced stupor, and she sent me away with a giant ceramic ladle, a box of beads, an oversized bag of clothes, and a book of our blog. Of course, all the clothes are still in the bag. The beads have been picked over by a small child. And the book is right here, online, for anyone to comb through. But there's something different about seeing all those early posts in pages. I can open to a random date, as though our posts are part of a larger story. And so they are. Once upon a time, Amy wrote, "Right now, I'm going to go put one small piece in the kiln to see what happens..." Right now, I'm going to go.
Sometimes, I read the Totblog over there to the right, and I laugh out loud, and I have this moment of a sort of automatic comment reflex, when I just want to say something about how awesome and hilarious and sweet and charming Penn is. And then I remember that you can't comment on Totblog, and I get a tiny bit bummed out. And then tonight it occurred to me that *it's my blog too* and I can *post* a little something about how awesome and hilarious and sweet and charming Penn is. And about how Totblog gets funnier by the day. (In Norwegian, laughing is explaining.)
(I've been sweating over posts and the lack thereof. Given our blog title, it's a wonder it took me this long to come around. Just write, dumbass.)
We're not all built the same. Yet we're so much more alike, we humans, than we are different. Is everyone destined to pine? I have a piney history. I'm not particularly piney at the moment, having just affirmed that I live where I want to live, and love the family I've been given. And manifested the job, literally of my dreams. (Still reeling from that turn of events.) But I tend to pine. I'm good at it.
I am happy. I am even working on the illusion that I'm ready. For change, which is possibly more inevitable (and less comfortable, in some instances) than death. But I have that tendency to pine. Even in the middle of my big pile of joy, I yearn. And it's not unpleasant, either. I've ALWAYS been this way. Pining is a core trajectory of my personality.
Or maybe it's not. Could it actually be something else? Not yearning, or ambition... could it be hope? For more? I am hopeful, rather than pineful? I certainly prefer that spin. My superstition is creeping around the edges of the screen, whispering things like "dangerous," and "greeeeeeed." I guess that's true, as well. My heart is a greedy thing, and my eyes, wide enough to swallow everything. xox
And now, a propos of nothing, a soft egg from a complimentary hotel breakfast in Trondheim.
All those things you're holding onto, all those things you love?
Sometimes, when you ask the universe for something more, something bigger, the thing you'll get back will be such a large possibility, so much more than you'd imagined you were asking for, that you'll need to put down all the things you're holding in order even to attempt to pick up this new gift.
If you manage to pick it up, the new gift will wreck some very good ideas, some very beautiful plans, at least for now. And even trying to pick it up will require the willingness to walk away from something so precious your heart will break at the very possibility.
Remember that holding onto the precious thing requires making a choice that will keep you stunted. Remembering that won't keep your heart from breaking, but it might save you from making the small choice.
Burning Man sounds good. Hang-gliding, too. I swear, ever since I pulled every single thing out of my closet and held it up to the light, things are looking clearer. We are moving, we are changing. I am throwing away old photos and recordings, the paper trails, the acceptance letters.
Last night I dreamt I was with a rescue team. We had to take a helicopter to the disaster. I gave myself three seconds to decide whether to balk at the airlift, or go with it. I chose to leave my fear on the ground. Anyway, what kind of helicopter drops its load, when lifting an ambulance into position? We landed just fine, and my team never knew my doubts. Last week, in waking life, I applied the same thinking to a routine blood draw. I'm phobic about my veins. I faint, I kick. I decided not to warn the phlebotomist. First time. I focused on normalcy. Be strong, handle your shit. It worked. The phlebotomist talked about his wood-working hobby. I said "have a nice day," and made it to my car without screaming. Later, I danced.
We are walking, on. Through and into change. We get to decide when it's time to let go. xox
Self portraits taken today for Rewriting the Story. The assignment was to play with blur and focus--blurring things that might normally be your focus, focusing on things that wouldn't. I was a little stumped about how to control the focus while using a remote (which automatically focuses the camera). I could have set the focus manually and then set the self timer, but really--ten seconds to clamber around too many branches or climb past brambles to perch on a fallen tree? In a delicate, filmy dress? Yeah, not happening. So I messed around with making things "blurry" in one way or another during editing.
The blur interests me on levels I have no energy to delve into right now. I've been sick the past couple of days, and I have other posts stewing in my brain, but I can't write those now either. (It's amazing I managed to get any photos done.) But sometimes, I just like to come here and check in. Or reach out. Make a mark somehow.
at this, and it turns out I'm not so good at catching
fast-moving kidlets with my phone camera.
Lis and Troy both had work-related commitments, so I’d eagerly agreed to
spend a few hours hanging out with Penn.
dinner, we gathered up some plastic bunnies with parachutes and set off for the
park with them. Penn explained to me in great detail how you have to climb to
the very highest point on the play structure, and then drop the bunnies just
so, allowing their parachutes to fill with air and ensuring a good jump. He
decided we should take not only his bunny, but the second one—the one his mom
and dad use—because it’s better to have a second one, in case one person wants
more turns. Because sometimes, sharing just isn’t the most fun you can have,
He asked me
if we could stop by his friend’s house to see if she could go to the park with
us. So we wandered down to the co-housing community where she lives,
the community that Lis and Troy and Penn are also a part of, though
they don’t technically live in the community.
it didn’t take us long to run into someone we know. Because Lis often invites
me to join community meals at the common house (and because it’s the kind of
place where everyone and their goldfish belongs to the food co-op Lis and I
both work for), I’m familiar to many of the members. And Penn, of course, is
well known and loved.
stopped and chatted. And then we went and knocked on Tatum’s door. It was close
to bedtime for her, but she and her mom came outside to spend a few minutes
with us before Penn and I walked on to the park. Brie and I chatted and the
kids ran around, giggling madly as they pretended to sneak up on us and poke us
in our backs. We would break the conversation to feign shock, the kids would
run away, and we’d go right back to the conversation.
walked our friends back to their house to get ready for bed, we turned around
to see another friend, Amy, across the walkway, going to visit Holly at her
house. We all greeted one another warmly, and as we chatted, Holly heard us and
called hello to us out her kitchen window.
pretty much exactly as blissfully warm and community spirited as it sounds, and
what really struck me was this: Not one person even asked why Penn and I were
hanging out, or where Lis and Troy were that evening. It seemed as if
everyone found it entirely normal that a loving, non-parental grown-up would be
out and about in the neighborhood with her four-year-old friend on a spring
Eventually, Penn and I wandered on. We climbed the play structure exactly as
Penn had described to me, and we dropped the bunnies from the great height, and
their parachutes filled with air to help them land safely.
And then it
was getting later, and Penn was yawning, and a tired-whiny note was starting to
enter his voice. And I knew just how he felt, so I picked him up to carry him
home. The night air was cooling, and his little body was warm and solid as he
leaned into me and put his head on my shoulder. We walked several blocks that
way, in silence, until my arms couldn’t take it anymore, and I put him down and
we held hands the rest of the way home, through a neighborhood where everyone
Up late working to the sound of crickets, frogs, and the night breeze, and I suddenly felt the need to note it here. Just to document the moment, the loveliness, the gratitude I feel for it, though my body hurts, and the week's been hard, and I'm way behind on way too many things.
But none of the hard stuff really matters.
I have a screen door that leads to a world of nighttime spring breezes, the sounds of crickets and frogs. Tonight, when I was unable to concentrate (for the quadrillionth time of late), I got up and spent a few hours making myself food for the week: I washed and dried two heads of lettuce so it would be ready for salads. I hard boiled eggs and baked some chicken. I roasted tiny new potatoes with carrot chunks and cauliflower, salt and olive oil. I made tomato-y curried lentils to eat with toasted cashews and yogurt and chutney. I cut up three apples and doused them with lemon to keep them from browning. I talked on the phone with one of my most beloved people, and it was more like having her in the kitchen with me while I worked--sometimes, we were just there, on the phone, not talking, each absorbed in our own moment, but present with one another nonetheless. There I was, nourished in all ways.
My dogs had a good day. This afternoon, I set up an extension cord and took my computer to the little table on the back patio, where I sat and worked for several hours while my dogs ran around the enormous yard with my landlords' two dogs. They're the best of friends now; they all get excited when my dogs arrive each Monday morning--quivery doggie play-date joy. Today, one dog went to the water bowl and the rest followed, and then each dog drank from the bowl in turn, while the other three stood around politely waiting their turns--they almost queued up; it was hilarious.
One of my landlords just cleared an enormous space out back so that I can start a garden--he's planning to have it tilled for me when the ground is dry enough. My other landlord, his wife, is planning to grow a couple of tomato plants out there too, but mainly, the space will be mine this summer, and I hope I can grow enough to supply them with plenty of produce all season long (not really much of a challenge around these parts, where everything grows like weeds).
My life is filled with small joys that are actually enormous, and I'm surrounded by beauty all the time. I have good work to do, and people who love me with all their hearts. And people I love with all my heart. And the hard stuff is hard, and it makes me tired, and my body often hurts.
And none of the hard stuff really matters.
The lizard who indulged me by sitting quite still for a portrait session for quite a long time.
Bunny (baby? it was very small) in the front yard late yesterday
afternoon. Edited all soft and romantic-like, because...BUNNY.
This week in Swan Dive, we've been creating texture photos to use for layering. Below is a texture I painted last fall (when I took the class for the first time). It's sort of texturally interesting, but so far I've found that it's not entirely well suited to my photos.
Specifically, I softened and intensified the original a bit (using the Orton effect in PicMonkey), then I took it over to Pixlr and layered on one of their star overlays two times at full strength. And now I can't stop layering it over my photos. For example:
Or this, originally seen edited completely differently here:
I often have mixed feelings about doing this to photos--it's really fun to do, and I can get really into the experimentation. But I'm not always sure I like the results. The beauty of being able to play with them like this? The two below weren't very good photos to begin with, and now they're at least interesting to look at--see the before and after.
So...definitely more interesting than the originals. Definitely a lot of fun to make. But they're not really anything more than pretty, you know? Not that there's anything wrong with pretty, but apparently I have a complicated relationship with making things that are just pretty.
But I don't always feel this way about editing heavily. Sometimes, it's precisely, exactly what a photo needs to become precisely, exactly what it's meant to become. Below, for instance, is my favorite self portrait so far. In altering the image's texture and color, I turned it into something that has less to do with what I look like, and more to do with being...I'm not really sure how to put it. But it became something outside of myself, something that has a deeper story, and something I hope is more than merely pretty. And I love that.
Also interesting--the texture on the self portrait is the very same texture I used on the orchard photo above. It works well on both, but it's astonishing how vastly different the total effect is, no?