Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Start Seeing Sea Glass (or) Camp Sue-Dan

My Aunt Susan began crafting more seriously after retiring (quite luckily very early) with her husband, Dan. Dan began making wooden bowls on a lathe in the basement and Sue started collecting craft abilities. She began in the quilting arena with small throws and samplers and has now made blankets and purses and clutches for all her lucky relatives and friends.

I love to craft with her whenever I have a chance. She's always excited to learn a new method or a new hobby, and she enjoys the challenge of learning to do it well. This trip she brought along a book of embroidery techniques and some felt pieces and we spent several hours trying stitches together. (I found out that the stitch I use most frequently is NOT the chain stitch but the split stitch. Who knew? I just make stuff, I don't think about how I'm making it.) Sue gifted me some pretty variegated flosses and a cute vintage-y flower basket needle envelope. I've also got a new stack of pretty vintage reprint quarters ready to be cut and pieced for a little table runner.

Christmas 2009, our family spent at Sue and Dan's place in Cleveland. They had so many crafts and activities on the docket we dubbed their home "Camp Sue-Dan". (Puzzles, bowls, place mats, movies, games, walks, oh my!) One of our favorite activities was sea glass hunting in Lake Erie and then making pendants and earrings from our findings.

Sue brought her sea glass kits with her this visit as well. I made a couple cousin pendants to my -now worn and coppered- green glass pendant from our last jewelry making session. The toffee-colored one turned out very sweet. I love the way the glass looks with light in it. (The image to the right is a bracelet with a sea glass charm that I made for my mother for her birthday in 2010.)
I love when art reuses the discarded. Before hanging about my neck, this sliver of glass had a life as a bottle or a jar. Who's lips did it pass? How long ago? How many rocks did it rub against to become so smooth?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

United States of Matrimony

This weekend was the payoff for a couple months of happy anxiety for the wedding of two of my favorite people in the world: Sinda Nichols and Niko Tonks. I wasn't around for the big reveal of their wedding gift, but I think it's probably safe to post about it now. If they've still not opened it- tough cookies. SPOILER ALERT and all that.

The idea of the design was to take the shapes of the (most important) states that they've lived in - both as a couple and throughout their youth- and fit them together like puzzle pieces to create their own unique country. The United States of Sinda and Niko feature: Michigan, Maine, Texas, Rhode Island & Minnesota. Hopefully they won't also include a state of confusion as to where to hang their new art. I'd be happy even if it hung in the bathroom. As, in fact, that is a place where a person's attention is arrested for a considerable amount of time.

The wedding was beautiful, the couple was wonderful and gracious, as always. At one point in the ceremony the officiant said "The couple recognizes that this does not make them BETTER than anyone else." As a frequent bridesmaid and wedding attender as well as a single lady, I appreciated this sentiment. What a weekend! I spent time with old friends and spurred some new ones as well. I nearly danced all the moisture out of my body and I'm still tired from how little I slept. I also want to relive the whole shebang, right here and now.

Being among people with artistic and loving minds this weekend made me long for the city life I used to lead. Summers in the twin cities were magical: full of concerts and picnics and bike rides to the beach. A few days surrounded by my old city friends (all of whom are now relocated to new cities across the country) has left my own internal compass spinning for a new location. It is inching up on a year that I've been outside Dayton, Ohio. My plan in moving here was to be closer to family. That has been a successful venture. I've seen my sister and the kids so much more, I've gotten to chill with my 5 (I'm so blessed!) grandparents and I've become closer to the cousins on my mother's side. Not to mention I've spent 10 months re-learning my parents and the great people they are.

Still, the places in which I've lived make up a big part of my self: Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota (in various orders and numbers). I miss them all. I wish I could puzzle piece them all together literally, creating a nation in which the people I love can be within at least 6 hours of me. Of course, in order to do that I'd need to add a few more states. And Montana, Texas and Alaska sure add a lot of driving time to my trans-united-states-of-sarah trips. All else aside, I'm just wondering which direction the compass rose will snap to next.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Recent Attempts of A Crazed Crafter

My "roommates" (aka my parental units) are gone for five days on a journey to (to Minneapolis, of all places!). The empty house has prompted some crazy productivity - as well as some unnatural fears of dark rooms and empty windows. I've cleaned my desk and organized my files. More importantly, I've tackled and mastered my most recent wedding project. Look forward to seeing what is inside THIS package sometime after the 16th of June.

Yesterday evening, I also made my first emergency banana bread. You know the type. The bananas are brown past tastiness and you have two options: either toss the fruit in the garbage or channel June Cleaver and make banana bread out of that mushy pulp. I've always wanted to be the type of person who actually made the bread rather than wasting. In the past, I've generally been the gal with the good intentions who sticks the bananas into the freezer to "save" them for when she has time for such things as baking. Usually, that just lead to throwing out frozen, black bananas 6 months later.

Today, I hope to make some more figurative banana bread. I've been thinking about trying to cover and record a song on my computer. Today is the day. If (no, WHEN) I'm done, I'll be sure to share the results. And, on the note of sharing results of experiments. Here are some of my other more recent projects to keep you satiated until you get to see the innards of the next wedding present:

My brother-in-law's brother got married 2 weekends ago. (Sounds comically distant, but it's really not.) I hurriedly tossed together an embroidery for the two of them. The Bible verse mentions "making allowances for each other's faults". I hope they can make allowances for one of my faults: choosing to freehand the lettering in the sample. It sure is homey- if not ugly. Yikes! I bit the bullet and gave it to them anyway.

Also- I've done some more video fanangling. My dear dear friend Liz (of the famously rad Andrew and Liz) made another AMAZING gift for me when I was having some down-in-the-dumps time. It's a little hard to explain the context, but the gist is that the doll is a cross between Me, Ally McBeal, and a hotdog. Now Presenting: the intro segment to Sarah McDog the new TV sensation.

Also threw together a cute video of my lil' neice, Lily. She does the darndest things.

EDIT: as of 6:39pm, THIS MUSIC VIDEO was also posted on the youtube. Banner day.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Best Gift Ever (or) Good Salve for a Breakup

Recently, I recounted the story of the greatest (material) present anyone had ever given me. I think that the story, the thought that went into it, the personal care and love, and the general human good will of the effort has inspired much of my own gift-giving. I aspire to set off such a chain reaction of care with my own thoughtfulness.

Here's the tale:

Several years ago, I was embarking on a journey to visit my on-again-off-again boyfriend. We had been discussing and planning our most final break-up to date. It was a hard sever for me. We had spent much of our relationship long distance, but we decided to spend one last weekend together before finally throwing in the towel. We both knew it would be over when I drove home on Sunday evening.

A dear work friend, not even someone I saw on a regular basis, heard about my weekend plans and devised her own. The night before I left I stopped by her home, at her request, to pick up a mysterious cardboard box. She instructed me to open it only after I had finally said goodbye to the boy and was on the journey home, by myself.

That anticipation, itself, was the first part of the gift. The weekend should have been entirely horrible. It was bittersweet moments of temporary happiness butted up against trading back belongings and saying goodbye again and again. But every now and then, I would think of the box on my passenger seat, my mysterious driving companion, and feel anticipation rather than dread.

When I finally did pull out of the drive, my old lover waving in the rearview, I could hardly wait to pull over to read the card on top of the box. It contained instructions for the contents. Open, the box turned out to be full of many different gifts which were layered and labeled in chronological order. I was to open each gift a a different point at approximate 30 minute intervals during my 5 hour drive.

I do not recall all of the items she had packed, but here is a sampling: bar of chocolate, small geode, harmonica, postcard, mini vodka, silver owl earrings, cuticle cream, a seed pod, baubley green bracelet. And little notes and kind, pithy words to go with each. She suggested I play my own song with the harmonica- I laughed my way through Piano Man. A suggestion that I pull over for dinner and have a nipper- oh yes, I did. I wore the earrings immediately, and fell in love with sea salt chocolate.

Something magical occurred. As the miles ticked by, I stopped crying about what HAD happened and felt a desire for the immediate future.

In fact, on that long drive away from a bad relationship, I think I may have fallen in love with love again. I saw clearly for the first time that love is about freely giving of oneself, and -more importantly- it is not confined to romantic relationships. Sometimes, in fact, love is truest in the challenges of a friendship that perseveres despite no marriage of commitment.

To this day I keep waiting for just the perfect time to crack open that geode. And I think of my friend every time my nephews blow through the harmonica. Though the two of us are hardly in touch anymore, I will only ever think fondly of this friend and be grateful for the example she set for me. Man has such great capacity for kindness. If only more of us invested such time into creating love packages for near strangers.
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