Unfriendly Visitor

This guy greeted us the other morning on our front step: 

 

 

 

 

I thought he was half-dead, as he was on his back, and moving his legs in slow motion.  I flipped him over, and he was motionless.  It was only after I tried to shoo him off the porch that he took on his “DON’T MESS WITH ME” stance & got all up in my face… 

Let me tell you, this stag beetle was BIG!  And I thought the bugs in Florida were large…

I read somewhere one time that the average person swallows about 8 spiders a year.  I don’t want to know the stats on this guy…

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Past Life

So, I was visiting How About Orange  the other day, and was inspired to share some of my artwork from what seems like a lifetime ago.  Believe it or not, I used to be a painter/illustrator.  It’s what I went to school for, although I don’t think my talent ever reached anywhere near her’s… but if you check out her blog, you’ll see she’s in a whole other league as far as talent/success goes.  So jealous!  But so inspiring 🙂 

Anyway, I couldn’t find anything from my high school days or earlier– must’ve shipped that stuff off to MOBA some time ago… so I guess I’ll have to start with the college years, which isn’t quite as pathetic humorous as the earlier stuff, but hey, it’s whats I gots…

Up in the Sky

This is still one of my favorite projects from college– it was for a hypothetical coffee table book entitled, “Up in the Sky”.  There were size & layout restrictions, but other than that, the content was completely wide open for interpretation.  Yeah, “WTF” was the general consensus, but I still like it…

 

East of the Sun, West of the Moon

Sorry, poor photo quality here… I think this was supposed to be a poster for a book/story/play? entitled, “East of the Sun, West of the Moon”…. I can’t remember anything about it, other than it somehow involved a melancholy polar bear and the wind.  I really wanted a pale, simple background with foreground features that stuck out… I also wanted the shape of the polar bear to mimic the shape of the mountains– I guess I thought that was somehow clever…

 

Umm… “g” is for tomato?  What?!?  No, I didn’t smoke pot in college.  I used to love to get caught up in all that fussy rendering…  reflective of some deep-rooted control issues, no doubt…

 

After college, I farted around with a couple of different jobs, waitressing, one at a gallery, one at PAFA (oh, they just LOVED all my fussy realism…. snobs.  Seriously, though, I still loved working there… ) before I decided to form The Painted Tree, where I, well… painted on trees:

These are all 2″- 3″ square tiles- tiny-  that are mounted in a frame behind glass, hence, the bad pics again– I was too lazy to remove them from their frames before photographing.  I used recycled wood from my karate school.  I gave up this biz in 2001 due to lack of money and the sawdust was making me sick…

How did I end up sewing, you might ask?  Good question– it’s amazing how a life can change so much in a relatively short amount of time.  I used to make little painted & woodburned decorative boxes for The Painted Tree as well.  They actually sold a lot more than the tiles did, and they were all lined with pretty fabric.  I found that I really enjoyed picking out the fabrics for the interiors.  I still had a stash left over when, in 2003, while preggers with Max, the desire just sort of came to me to start sewing with it.  My mom had given me a sewing machine one year, thinking I could use it for The Painted Tree, and it had sat, since then, untouched (well, there was that one disaster hemming Bill’s pants, but we won’t go there).    Slowly I started making curtains for the house, and small gifts for people (and a quilt!) and I just became hooked.

As fate would have it, when we lived in Florida, my neighbor, who worked for an interior decorator, fed my fabric obsession by bringing over countless discontinued and duplicate samples of decorator fabric, and so I ended up with an incredibly giganto fabric collection (not that that has ever stopped me from buying more). 

So here I am, married, two kids, a bedroom-sized fabric collection, and a small little label called gigglepotamus.  I got my invitation to join Spoonflower the other day, which is running a beta program for artists/crafters to design & print your own fabric. I totally thought I’d be on the list for at least a month or so before I got my invite… I’m so excited at the prospects, but I’m completely stalled out because my circa 1996 Adobe Illustrator skills aren’t exactly going to help me with the design process nowadays… if anyone has any suggestions for any cheap/free & user-friendly software programs, where I can create graphics in a tile/repeat, please! I am open to any suggestions/help you might offer!!  I am totally shamed by this, as *technically* my degree says Graphic Design on it…. shame, shame, shame….

Family time

Some families read together, some ride bikes.  Still, others maybe play board games or sports.  We do those things, too, but when we’re really itchin’ for some fun we make…..

 

 

 

faux hawks

…..FAUXHAWKS!!

 

Nothin’ says family bonding like some shared product and spikey fun…

 

          

Summer Solstice Cleaning

It turned out to be a pretty nice weekend here, a little warm, but not over the top.  It was productive, getting some cleaning & yard work done.  Since December, all house projects have come to a complete halt, and the garage, the landing pad for any tool or other miscellaneous item without a home, has gotten *slightly* out of control….. OK, it’s a complete & utter disaster.  Basically, it got so bad that it’s prevented us from moving forward with any project that requires a tool or paint, because, well… it’s just not worth the extra half hour spent searching for the item in need, nor the risk of putting our lives in peril for fear something big might come down on top of us.

I know we’re not the only ones– I’ve walked by other houses in our neighborhood with their garage doors open, and for the most part, they’re just as bad.  I suppose the exception would be the people who have a shed in their backyard… we don’t.  All of the houses that share the same style as ours have a garage with a door that faces the side of the house, making it near impossible to actually park a car inside.  Due to the extreme skill level one would need to angle the car in & out, most have also become storage facilities. 

We’ve lived in our house for almost nine months now, and this is probably the third or fourth time we’ve cleaned out the garage.  Not a good sign….  But this time, we actually pulled stuff out & rearranged (OK, mostly Bill did that while I stood there & pointed) instead of just straightening up a mess that had no rhyme or reason.  Stuff we don’t immediately need made it’s way up to the attic (which now needs its own cleaning).  Other stuff, like yard equipment, got grouped together.  It felt good.

We even made a special trip to the Home Depot to get some snazzy peg hooks & tool-holder thingies, which will hopefully all be hung by the end of this week.  And so commences all the overdue home improvements that have been patiently waiting their turn in line.  Now, if only I didn’t have A.D.D.  when it came to projects, we might actually be able to get something finished. 

For a long time now, we’ve had sort of an 80% rule when it comes to any kind of home improvement project.  We get it done to a livable level (80%), & I get bored & move on to something else.  Hence, the kitchen still has no base moulding and the fabric I bought for valances still sits in the studio, already cut, but not sewn.   With the garage clean-up, my head started spinning with all kinds of new projects we could tackle: new flooring in the foyer, a window seat in the family room, and hey, maybe we can pull out the ugly, dated railing on our stairs and put in a much more attractive wooden balustrade…. Bill, if you’re reading this, please stop twitching.  I think he would pass out if I ever put my mental list into writing.

 Now that the garage is about 80% done, it’s time to start something new…  🙂

Lunch can really take a lot out of a guy…

You’d think with several pictures like this, Wyatt would be my sleeper.  He’s not.  Still, he apparently has his limits.  The poor little guy, I guess the hot dog & cucumbers were too much for him.  Off to sleepy land we go…

Farmin’ It

A couple of weeks ago, we were invited to a friend’s farm for a day of strawberry picking, tractor rides, and hangin’ with great people.  We all had a blast & I thought I’d finally share some photos (of my kids only since I didn’t ask anyone else for permission).

Three pigs

Three pigs… you decide.

 

In the bean fields with me, “before the burn”…

 

Max on the back of the truck that’s run on vegetable oil.

 

Wyatt…. secretly raised by pigs?

 

The tractor arrives… everyone piled in back for a ride around the farm.

 

Freshly picked strawberries– the vines were practically bursting with juicy red goodness (that’s what she said) and they didn’t disappoint…

 

Despite the 97 degree weather, we had a fabuloso time & can’t wait to go back.  It was nice to get a little country air in my lungs… 

 

 

A Letter to my Father

Yesterday was my first Father’s Day without my dad.  I wish I could say we had a great tradition for him on this day, but it was always pretty low key.  Still, I found myself in a bit of a funk all day.  I’m not sure if it was specifically because I was missing him, or another reason.  I can say that, although I don’t think that I truly appreciated him for all his worth while he was still around, I definitely have been thinking about him a lot lately and missing him, especially these past couple of months.

It sounds weird, but I guess I was kind of expecting some sort of sign from him.  Some sense that he was around, some unexplained activity, but…. nothing.  I suppose it’s made me feel a little sad and abandoned.  I know, crazy, right?  It also doesn’t help that I’ve been watching so much Lisa Williams: Life Among the Dead lately…. that show always makes me cry!

Despite me not “feeling” him, I do believe that he can observe me & my life, and that maybe I’m just not as open to his way of communicating as I would like to be.  Again…. crazy, right?  Anyway, for this reason, I would just like to take the opportunity to let him know that I might not have told him enough how much I loved him or appreciated him when he was with us, but I really would like to now.  I don’t know if it’s too late, but it’s certainly worth a try.  So….

Dad,

I would really like to thank you for being the best dad that you knew how to be.  That may not sound like a great compliment, but it is.  Now that I am a parent, I realize how difficult it is.  You worked so hard to provide for us, and you were always so proud and quick to brag to whomever would listen.  Your kindness towards other people was inspiring.  You had a heart of gold, and an innocence about you that is rare in this world.  There was not a cynical bone in your body, and I truly do believe that you always had a clear conscience (that’s why you always slept so well!).  I smile when I often see you in Max, especially when he is so eager to share his knowledge of the world. 

I am truly sorry if I did not live up to your expectations of what a good daughter should be.  Not that you would ever, ever say anything so critical to me or anyone else.  You always took criticism with such grace and dignity, even when it wasn’t fair or warranted, which was most of the time.  You never retaliated.  You were perceived as such a simple person; I realize now that your simplicity was not a flaw, but a reflection of your purity of spirit.  

I am sorry that I was not there at the very end.  To this day, it is one of my biggest regrets.  The truth is, I wanted to be, but I was scared.  I had never witnessed first hand anyone leave this world, much less a parent, and I didn’t know if I could handle it.  If I had thought it through more, I would’ve sucked it up, because whatever I was going through couldn’t have been scarier than what you were experiencing.  You didn’t deserve the suffering you endured, but I hope that you were aware that we were there as much as possible, and tried our best to surround you with all our love.  We truly believed that your essence was gone before your physical body gave up the fight. 

I know you are happy now.  I just know because you can’t be the person you are without being happy.  You’ve always deserved the best, and I hope you now have it.  I hope you can forgive me for all of my flaws and selfish expectations of you, because I know now how lucky I was to have had you in my life and as my father.  I just wish I had the guts to tell you this face to face when I had the chance. 

I love you, dad, and thank you for all of the love you provided to me.  Happy Father’s Day.

Love,

Lauren

 

It’s funny how death can strip away all of the inconsequential technicalities of a relationship and leave you with just love & appreciation of a person.  There is a lesson in the irony of it all…. a lesson that is a cliche for a reason:  You don’t know what you have ’til it’s gone.  OK, now I need to go get a tissue…