Monday, December 27, 2010

For God's Sake who invited the Athiest to Christmas Dinner?

Before I even go into this- I hesitated sharing for a number of reasons, one being the three posts about vehicular whining- let me tell you that all in all my real Christmas with my family was a good one. Everything went well and anything that was awry I was able to sweep under the rug. Kind of.

So we all have something in our family closet, right? Divorced parents remarried to bimbo's or bimbette's. The funny uncle. The Aunt who used to be an Uncle. Well, right now my sister thinks she's an Athiest who celebrates Pagan holidays but not regular ones. Fine and Dandy. I really don't care about your religion as long as you are not asking me to drink the purple kool-aid or chicken blood. And ever since we made that pact a few years ago where in I promised to never help her out/screw up her life again- my life has been easier.

I needed her to watch the kids over Christmas break and asked her to come Wed and Thurs. She asked what the plans were for Christmas. I told her that the husband's whole family would be there for dinner and that Grams and Gramps would be staying over Christmas Eve in the guest bedroom. No prob, she said, she'd bring her air mattress and sleep in the pool room. I hoped the lack of a direct invitation would be enough but apparently not. I winced a little, ok a lot, two days where in I spend minimum of time in near proximity is just about all I can handle of her. This, then would make four. She was great- cleaned out the girls closet, etc. I was very busy- wrapping or cleaning so don't think I didn't appreciate the help. But, its still hard to be around her- sadly, it just is.

Christmas Eve came and she disappeared conveniently about the time we were to leave for Church service. Bernie, the patriarch of our Catholic family, cautiously informed me that he had invited her to join us at mass but she declined. I matter of factly validated that and then quickly moved on. A touch uncomfortable to explain that Sis would prefer not to celebrate the birth of our Lord because she was ATHIEST. YES, I said ATHIEST, no, not a, she wouldn't be sacrificing anything while we were gone and no there wasn't a pentagram drawn on the floor under the guest bed. ARRGH! Couldn't she just take her uncomfortable religion or lack there of (which if you dedicatedly believe against religion- isn't that still a form of a religion???)and go elsewhere on my Christmas?

Again, everything was going smoothly Christmas, presents were given and received. I loved my jewelry box I picked out and the bracelet that hubby picked out. Everyone behaved. We cooked, we set the table, we called Aunts and Uncles far away. We decided to eat buffet style- food in the kitchen, guests at the table- we were running out of space. So while I was taking the rolls out of the oven someone asked if we minded if we gathered in the kitchen to say Grace all together. Awesome, I said- thinking 'oh yeah, gather up, ye minions, and dance to my tune' when the only other awkward moment of the day occurred.

Patriarch Bernie realized that Sister wasn't with us. Everything halted. I started to sweat. Now I was in a room full of Catholics who didn't know about the Athiest in the closet. It was at this time that I wished she was a lesbian in the closet. Then she could be there to pray with us and run off to see a girlfriend later. Damn it all! I said "Yes. We can pray with out her." "No, we couldn't do that!" was their aghast reply. There was this split second of ...nothing....then I turned and RAN down the stairs. Pretty fast, too, for an out of shape 42 year old woman.

She was lurking around a corner. "Please come up stairs, the Catholics want you to say grace with them!" "No" she said in that same stead fast, brick wall, I will stick to this until you stick a pool stick in my eye- voice that I'd learned years before would take at least an hour to beat out of her. (I considered the pool stick option.)

So somewhere between a scream and a whisper and between gritted teeth I replied "What do you want me to do? Tell them you're a Pagan?" She threw up her hands and said "Tell them I'm in the bathroom- I don't care!" Really? The bathroom is the best you can come up with? Thanks, cuz that's what I want to mention to my guests, on Christmas, in the middle of the kitchen right before we say grace and eat a lovely dinner. I just can't win. I was born into the wrong life. Surely I was. I stood there for a milli-second and whirled around and bolted up the stairs. I rejoined the circle, grabbed the hands of the people next to me and stated in the calmest, matter of fact- let's not continue to debate this- voice that I could muster- "She's in the bathroom and asks that we go ahead an pray with out her, she could be awhile."

Well, that shut them up. We said a nice prayer, had a nice dinner to which she 'appeared', I drank wine (thank God, I am Catholic) and we had a nice remainder of the day.

Its honestly the first time I have found bathroom talk the best solution during a dinner meal. But whatever. Later- I had a question rip through my mind like a tornado through Kansas. What the Hell was she doing there with us giving and receiving gifts, and supping with us-if she is an Athiest? Its not like I hid the fact that it was Christmas! Hmm, nice. Thanks for the awkward moments, Sis, did you like the shirts I bought you? This won't happen next year. Trust me.

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Perfect Christmas Day

Christmas day is a very special day to exhibit my holly homemaker hostess skills. So I start the day with a very special routine. Chilled water is sooo refreshing.

A little personal grooming goes a long way.

Hubby understands how important this day is to a wife. Truly a culmination of all I could ever hope to be...

So the outfit is especially important. Do I go all out?

Or go for the casually elegant and oh so modern?

These decisions can cause a lot of anxiety!
Luckily, I have a coping mechanism...

My guests will be very interesting and diverse.

They are sure to enjoy the touch of Americana I included in the supper menu.

I just know that the Mr. of the house will be so proud and fall in love with his wife all over again.....

Unfortunately after such a strenuous day I am likely to develop a headache....

Only curable by a little alone time with that ever so fabulous- ME!!!!

Ahhhhh.....I can see it now...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Eye Candy for You- no calories!

This was on my daughter's Christmas list to Santa. She wants a necklace that says 'Dogs' and a charm bracelet. Whatever your sweet little 71/2 heart desires. Its only money. How can I compare repairing a car to the dreams and wishes of a child who believes in Santa?
This is a do-it-your-self-er I bought from Hobby Lobby. The bracelet comes strung with beads and jump rings. Then you add the charms from their vast selection and Viola~ you have a personalized gift that will probably be lost by the end of the school year...ahh the dreams and wishes of a 7 1/2 year old.

Hey- here's a tid bit from the art world part of my life! I'm still waiting for a ballerina to arrive so I can finish the bird. So in the meantime, I have just started tinkering with the gown. I'm stuck on cloisonne` and capturing spaces with wire. This portion looks somewhat like a stained glass pattern to me. I dig it- How about you?

And....what you do for one you do for the other....while B. is the saviour and lover of all animals Kayla is my performer. American Idol watch out. She has a guitar and may even get lessons some day....she loves to sing and dance. She sure has stage presence...I just have to get her to stop adjusting her tights while singing. Those hands....always have to be busy....

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Perhaps an electrical field gone haywire?

I'm starting to think there really is "something up" in my world. But I'm busy. Its Christmas. These other worldly things will have wait- right? I spent 4 hours wrapping presents Sunday. Good day to do it as hubby fixed the car stuck in the driveway. Weirdly though, during his tests drives (the ones that got it stuck in the drive) an electrical problem occurred. My brake lights came on and stayed on can't tell if the car is braking or not. Plus to make the lights go off one has to pull out the fuse with needle nose pliers. "#40" he told me. "Its number 40. You want me to circle it in the book?" "No" I replied, "I will never forget as the last thing I want to do is be in a parking lot somewhere asking strangers to jump my car." Really, silently I am thinking, I just about can't take any more indignity- so I will remember the number 40. How old am I? I thought all this unreliable car stuff was done with about the time I settled into grey hairs and crows feet? What's wrong with this picture?

Today was the day the Rendezvous is to go in to the mechanic. Cute little- Russian Alex- mechanic. I like him- he has a genuine accent. It makes him interesting. I need interesting things to divert my attention from- oh yeah, cars. So on this morning I received a clue about the electrical fields that have gone haywire around me.

My hairdryer that was given to me by my first sister-in-law over ten years ago (don't give hair dryers as Christmas presents- just a hint) went from working fine and dandy to shooting out sparks and flame- luckily for my endangered hair- sparks first- then went dead and then turned back on, shooting out more sparks, flame and smoke. I screamed a little, just a little, by now its going to take a lot more than flames to get a good reaction out of me. "hmmph!" I thought and tossed it in the garbage. "Hope I can remember in 8 hours that I need a new hair dryer!"

I played switch-a-roo with the cars at the mechanic. I dropped off my Rendezvous and picked up the Subaru. It was a nice re-union. I liked this car for many years. Today as all the lights were working and as long as I didn't "run it too long" I felt safe. So off I went after work to pick up the girls from daycare. I parked in front of the building, got out, started walking towards the doors and stopped dead in my tracks.

Even though I had turned the engine off the lights were on. Specifically the tail lights. What the hell? I thought. Seriously? Because the only common denominator in this situation is ME! I went back and checked the knobs, looked at the doors, they were all shut. I started to get the heebie jeebies. My cars- my cars are alive and I am being haunted. It was truly a very weird feeling.

But- I'm busy. I still have Christmas shopping to do. I went in and got the girls. I watched them closely as they approached the car. They acted fine. So much for children being sensitive to the paranormal- right?

Well- I'm just going to get right to the end, here folks! Enough DRAMA! I bumped a button and it was the fog lights! Only the rear fog lights but still! Paranoid Polly has about had it! I am trying to plan a Christmas menu and get some party cleaning done, here! I have no time for cars, or ghosts or tarantulas because I have stockings to stuff! Geez o' pete's! So I promise you- no more posts about strange events until after Christmas! But, just so you are warned there is a reason this blog is named ChrisChronicles. There is!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Update on my new career as a grease monkey-

Ok, folks, I got out of playing car mechanic on Sunday, anyways. A bolt had come loose and was caught between some thing important and some other thingamajiggy. But this strange thing happened in the midst of all this- my tailights are stuck in the on position. That means no brake lights (Hey, mister in the big white truck, do you think there's a reason I turned on my hazards? Get off my ass!) So I did play mechanic for a minute as a friend told me that if I followed the break pedal up into the dash I might just find a I tried it and no switch but as I was laying on the floorboards of my car with my hand squeezed in a little hole I was reminded of a movie where there were tarantulas hiding everywhere and they would fall out on people's heads and bite them....

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mercury is in Retrograde. (Or some crap like that!)

That's what those in the know say. I subscribe to a newsletter that keeps me abreast of these things. I look forward to getting it and then....never really understand what I am reading. Truly, astrology is a language all to itself. Apparently when Mercury is in retrograde our thought processes are compromised. Do not, and I have diligently tried to follow this- make any important decisions right now. Wait two weeks. But- does it mean something else for Scorpios? I'm just wondering because things...things have not been right this month!

I just got my haircut yesterday. For the third time this month. Really- all I said was- "whatever you did last time, my hair was great, not one bad hair day so do that again" Apparently that is what you do not say to your hair stylist. When I came back a week later with a limp, dull and dragging hair style I said "this is what its doing for me- I've tried me..." She looked at it and said "why did I cut it on that angle? That's obviously not working for you." She cut it again, styled it and away I went. Problem solved? No, there was something 'bulky' about it. I'm busy. I didn't want to go back. I didn't want to bug her for a third time.

Yep. I have a problem. All designers suffer from the affliction of thinking we can do anything. And while we can do a lot of things and we are problem solvers by nature we are not endowed with all skills. you think....ooooh...that's it right there...that little piece sticking out.....and that little piece right....there.

So yesterday I had to explain to my hair dresser that while yes, I was still having problems with the cut she gave me.... the cut she was staring out was not the one she gave me. The phrase "really, its not you...its me" never rang so true. Long story short.....well 'short' is the word that ends this tale.

The other weird thing....I'm trying to ignore winter. I did that last year and I was pretty successful. But today.......I will have to go outside and play car mechanic with my husband. I don't want to do that. I don't want to lay on the cold ground and use my small hands to get parts off the wheel of my car that is blocking our driveway. I don't. I'm a girl. I don't like car grease and I don't like being cold. I'm way too old for this. Damn his large manly hands!

So seriously. We somehow have four old cars (anyone want to trade for two new ones?) and none of them will get us out of our drive way. One is at a garage being diagnosed as to whether or not we should activate the resuscitators or call time of death. One just never made it to the junk yard before the snow flew. One is just fine now that hubby got the broken spark plug out of it by using a hair dryer to warm it up. And my car....well, that's the one that barely got me home from Christmas shopping last night. (It was a hairy ride home but Mr. couldn't come and get me because of the broken spark plug that wouldn't come out- seriously can you beieve this...)

But my car is now blocking the driveway and without going into the snow bank we can't get around it. You know, to get the parts we need to fix the car blocking the driveway. Thank god for phones and wine. We will get this resolved but.....I don't want to go out in the cold......I don't want to touch the car's parts....I'm a girl....I have to clean up puke in the middle of the night- I shouldn't have to work on cars....If something happens and I can't do art anymore....

So really, all you this something to with Mercury being in retrograde?....Inquiring minds want to know

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Merry Christmas, Everyone.

Thought I'd share a peek at my tree with you. I just finished grading 30 final projects so I don't have much going on in the art department.

I do have a fabulous bird sculpture to show you. Fabulous because I had no idea that I could sculpt and animal. I've never tried! You may remember the bird from earlier posts. In its breast is a hollowed out spot for a ballerina that twirls around. Guess what? Broken music mechanism! Over wound like me. Try to find a music box mechanism when you need one. On line prices are daunting. Sure, retail stores have plenty of $10. jewelry boxes. You know what you get for ten dollars? Ballerinas with palsy. Yep, a lot of twitching and jerking for ten dollars. I have one on order from a jewelry store.

I was a florist for seven years. Anyone who was ever a florist has had a turn or two at decorating trees. Traditional trees, contemporary trees, fishing trees, teddy bear trees, fruit and flower trees- you name it. But I have to say that my favorite tree has always been mine. (I should say 'ours' but I can barely let go of control long enough to have any one else touch it so it really is 'mine'.)

I've been asked "What kind of tree do you do for yourself?" I dunno what to call it- its the same every year. White lights, gold, ivory and silver ribbon with an angel nestled in a fluffy bow at the top. Then throw in ornaments of every color- red, green, hot pink, purple, a little but not much royal blue. The ornaments tend towards old fashioned toys, musical ornaments, romantic and a few baby's first Christmas ornaments. Every year since I was married I have dated the ornaments I bought. After twenty years I buy maybe just one a year but I like to keep to the tradition. The tin Pinnochio you see below is one of my favorites. The green carousel was made by my Mother from a kit she bought at Ben Franklin's Crafts. Remember those?

At some point I fell deeply in love with Mercury Glass ornaments. My small collection usually hangs from the ceiling around the angel.

I think people are disapointed when I tell them that my tree has no particular theme. I think they are expecting something more like "It's dedicated to Princess Diana and is decorated in designer gowns and expensive shoes" rather than my "Well, it just looks like the Sugar Plum Fairy came to visit awhile."

When I decorate my tree I feel a little bit like this child- daughter Brooke at 5, enchanted by the idea that there really is such a thing as Christmas Magic.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Another book? Is there money left for Christmas?

Fear not, Chinamommy, like I said, I have your gift. Actually, I bought this book awhile ago but just got around to scanning and uploading which takes for-ever...did I mention I live just outside one of the biggest cities in my state but I still have dial-up? ARRGH, doesn't begin to cover it.
Back to the book-

I have these fantastic pictures of daughter Brooke sleeping that are going to end up on canvas.... and that canvas will be gessoed...don't worry, I have a plan.... but....I have to get them to the firm that will make this happen in a format that they can work with and while I could just send them my jpeg I prefer to modify it first. I was playing around with a low level program on my computer and gave her this dramatic spotlight effect where in the center of the pic remained true and the outside edges blurred into darkness. Instant drama and I was hooked. But....what if the low level program I was using is not good enough and all my effort is wasted on a less than acceptable result? (repeat- I am not a perfectionist, I am not a perfectionist, ok, maybe a little around the edges....)

This is one of the pictures by the way. 'One of' because I can never settle for one of anything fabulous...

Oh yeah, the book. Well, with this project burning a hole in my brain I was off to the book store and the book store did not disappoint. Has it ever? The very first project in the book is creating a 'vignette' effect. All you need is Adobe Photoshop or more specifically Photoshop Elements. I have Creative Suite 3 Premium and have not really cracked the seal because....its on that darn Mac laptop that I bought off a student but really don't know how to use....(insert sigh expressing great angst.)

Oh yeah, the book....
By Susan Tuttle
Well of course, I love it. I find it quite user friendly in its set up. First it guides you through all the tools, simple processes like setting up files and working with layers. Then it takes you through multiple projects using all kinds of mixed media applications, each are step by step.

I don't know why- maybe because its explained by a female artist it seems so much easier to understand than even the photoshop for dummies type books I already own. I do recommend it to you but of course- I want you to browse through it to see if it meets your comfort level.

by Susan Mckivergan
There's a style for every one's taste in this collection, 25+ different examples of work, actually. I chose a couple I found intriguing.

by Tiffini Electra X
Oooh, does this mermaid seem just a bit 'Art Noveau' to you? Well, she's pretty, that's for sure. One thing I haven't mentioned yet is that this book contains a c-d with a few brushes and textures for you to use as backgrounds. Not a ton of them, but enough to get you started and the book does share how to create your own "brushes". Honest, it seems easy enough. Now, how to clone myself so that I can work, mother and create great art.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Jose~ Can You Sing?"

Now, repeat that to the tune of "Oh say can you see...."
Yep, there are many things I will miss about my daughter being young. For days now she's been running around singing "Jose` can you sing?" Sometimes I wonder if she has an auditory dis order. Especially when she's looking for the 'amote retrol'. Anyhoo, that's all...just wanted to share before my mental disorder made me forget.....