Tuesday, August 30, 2011

•kissing onions•

Just a photo-toast, to better days. Get well soon, everyone! (Myself, included.) xox

Sunday, August 28, 2011

•a very merry HA birthday•

Turns out the age for which you must get the birthday cake right is 4. Any variation on the theme, no matter how delicious, will be rejected--nay, rewarded!--with apocalypse now, toddler edition. Complete with hyperventilation, and outbursts so simultaneously piteous and hilarious you will be unable to stop laughing. Which won't help matters.
But there are no strawberries!!!! < sob sob sob >
Where is the....fraaaaaawwwww-ssssssting!!!!?

The earnestness. The confusion. The terrifying (if it weren't so adorable) rage. To be fair, it was his last night of toddlerdom. Perhaps he realized he ought to go out in style.

What I did next was, perhaps, not my finest flourish. But it had been a week of napless, back-to-school madness. And we were celebrating with an all-adult birthday dinner (save the guest of honor, of course) in our friend's extremely echo-y, amplifying living room. Oh, honey, you thought cake and candles were tonight? Actually, that's tomorrow. We'll have cake with frosting and strawberries and candles on your real birthday (thankgoditsnottoday). Tonight's cake is just a nice dessert for after dinner... That's right. I groveled.

And then I regrouped.

The next morning, I gathered my triage materials. Frozen cake, leftover frosting a friend made, strawberries, jam, old cereal bag for piping on accents. Things were looking good. And then I started to go a little nuts. Turns out, there are a great many images on the Interwebs of various "bus cakes." Inspiring. Could I free-style a bus that would meet with the child's approval? Could I, in fact, half-ass it?

Fortunately, my ambition knows no bounds. And I had a few hours o' free time.

I started to lose it a little with these strawberry "bushes." Not an essential feature, but...

It worked in my favor. My son appreciated the sugary offering, and accepted the whole monstrosity as a "fire bus." He even forgave its chocolate exterior. (Note to parents: white frosting is like gold. If you attempt a four-year-old's birthday cake without enough of this stuff, tread lightly and prepare for war.)

Turns out, if it's worth doing, it's worth over-doing. Within half-assed reason, of course. xox

©2011 Lis Harvey

Thursday, August 25, 2011

•you up?•

whatcha thinking about

are you dreaming of
a tiny frog, or a very, very,
very long fishing line
and a golden fish?

or a lego house so big you can sleep in it
or a house with trampolines for floors
or a bed made of kitten fur

or a common meal
cooked by Leila and Tatum
and cleaned up by Freija, or
a banana that tastes like raspberries

and breakfast made of ice cream, or
pancakes made of cheese

or a birthday cake made of kisses
and kisses that taste like frosting, or
a moon who laughs and sings songs to you

like the mama who always loves you
and the daddy who always loves you
and all the cuddles to come
in your fifth year
while you're four
and we three
are too busy to notice how we've become

Popsicle people in the park (party picture), after the jump.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Post With Way Too Many Links to (Other People's) Self Portraits

(But the links! They're mostly to pretty pictures!)

I'm planning to take another photography class with the lovely Vivienne McMaster in September. This one isn't specifically focused on self portraits, though she did kind of design it for folks who have taken one or both of her self portrait classes. (And in the event that you somehow missed my obsessive rambling about self portraits earlier in the year, see here and here.)

In any event, I'm still a little obsessed with self portraits. It's a rich genre, as you can see by looking here and here. So with a burst of creative energy I had this evening (finally, finally), I began compiling my ideas in a notebook and also searching Flickr to see what other people are doing with their self portraits. And I learned a few things.

1) Photoshop can be used for good...or for eeeeevil. Wowza. So, so bad.

2) You can take a picture of yourself in a landscape. Or, you can find a way to become an integral part of the landscape in your picture. Guess which one works better.

3) I am all for exploring the body through photography. There are some beautiful examples of this on Flickr--and interestingly, not all of them involve taking off one's clothes (also, looking like a Martha Graham dancer is generally a pretty okay idea in my book). However. There are also an alarming number of people who seem to think that taking off one's clothes in front of the camera automatically makes for a compelling photograph. As it turns out: Not so!

4) I like a nice concept, a story, a bit of mystery. I like a photo shoot that takes some thought and planning. I like props, costumes, landscapes to play in. (This sort of makes sense; I did once have something that vaguely resembled a career in theater.)

5) Mostly? People should probably stop trying to explain the meaning of their photos. Because wow, so many of the explanations are so not good--often, even when the photographs are pretty good! And in general, in art, it's just not a great plan to tell your audience what they should think about the thing you've created. Unless there's a really important reason for commentary, or the commentary is about something process oriented, let the photographs stand by themselves. And if they can't, well...that might indicate a problem.

And here--for being such good sports and clicking all those links (you know, I'm assuming), and because Lis seems to like it when I post my self portraits, and because I somehow feel a little weird when I post words without any pictures, here's a photograph I took in one of Vivienne's classes. I'm pretty sure that a year ago, when Lis and I started this blog, I'd never have posted any self portraits, let alone this one. Art, man. It changes you.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

•the best parents•

Once upon a time, there was a Mommy and a Daddy who wanted to talk. The problem was, anytime they talked, their swarthy little toddler had something, also, to say. So the Mommy and the Daddy thought long and hard. They sought far and wide the answer. One night, while dining with friends, it came to them: sometimes, the best parents aren't parents at all. The next day, they arranged for friends to take the scurvy child. The Mommy and Daddy fled, and talked! Meanwhile, the adult friends took the the deck-swabbing toddler. Without so much as a furrowed brow, they concocted a First Rate Pirate Adventure, including the actual commandeering of a ship, the jumping of a plank, a swimming expedition with first mates, and a hunt for actual treasure. In a few short hours (and with the help of cardboard, marker and aluminum foil), they opened the toddler's eyes to a world of scarves and piracy. When his parents returned, they found a happy boy. But ever thereafter, they could not dissuade him from wearing a hearty's mustache. And a skele-tattoo, at all times. Even to the Co-op. xox

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Trust Roots

Is it better for grief to be paired with hope? Or is it best to have none, to hit the bottom hard and in your pain know, at least, that there’s no further down to go? Hope can always fail us eventually: What if the thing hoped for never comes to pass? What if the universe is moving in a different direction than the one you’re longing for? And so grief paired with hope is a perfect breeding ground for fear.

And still, I think I’ll take my grief with hope and do my best to wait, as Adrienne Rich says, "...without sadness and with grave impatience." And to believe that roots lovingly tended can survive a winter under snow and send up green shoots in the spring--whenever spring arrives.

(From "This is My Third and Last Address to You," by Adrienne Rich)

The work of winter starts fermenting in my head
how with the hands of a lover or a midwife
to hold back till the time is right

force nothing, be unforced
accept no giant miracles of growth
by counterfeit light

trust roots, allow the days to shrink
give credence to these slender means
wait without sadness and with grave impatience

here in the north where winter has a meaning
where the heaped colors suddenly go ashen
where nothing is promised

learn what an underground journey
has been, might have to be; speak in a winter code
let fog, sleet, translate; wind, carry them.

Friday, August 5, 2011


The other night, leaving work, I noticed the chilly air, and the crescent moon through the trees. There was a breeze, and the leaves, which are starting to dry, made whispery rustling sounds moving against one another. The days are still hot, and the sun is still fairly high in the sky, but there's an autumnal feeling to an August night here, the new season creeping in under cover of darkness, gently beginning the shift while everyone is sleeping. Within weeks, that chilly night breeze will convince the sun to slide downward, to spread its warmth more gently, shine its light at a sideways slant. And the night chill will become bolder, lingering into the mornings, and settling into the afternoons well before the sun has set.