Oct 27, 2012

Tree with Red Lipstick

My mom and I never lived more than a few hours apart but we wrote letters and sent home made cards at least once a week for decades. She made me this wonderful card with a fall leaf from our yard. As I write this the same tree is again red, like it is every year at this time. She wrote to me about the simple pleasures: some really fresh fish, a visit with her sister or subtle observations of changing seasons. She wrote about things that kept her grounded and gave her some joy.
I wrote to her about some kind of complication -- a sniffle, frustration with a class or work, a relationship that wasn't working out. I really do try to find joy in the simple things but it’s just not my forte. When I do find joy in a simple thing it’s usually some piece of junk I've picked up in the street or by poking ridiculous fun at the culture I (try to) live in.
As we get older we sometimes realize how much we are turning into our parents. It can be a frightening thought! Today I'm wishing I could be more like my mom in the way she would gotten up this morning to run outside and pick up the most beautiful fall leaves before she even finished her instant coffee.

Oct 22, 2012

Clutter is Better

I grew up in a cluttered home so my favorite book was this one "What Happened to Piggy?" Poor Piggy got mixed up with the dirty clothes and had a frightening outing to a commercial laundry before returning home (luckily!) unharmed. After that big scare his family cleaned up their act and lived happily ever after. On top of having "What Happened to Piggy" drummed into my head, I was swayed by new age gurus saying that cleaning out clutter would reduce stress and create all kinds of new opportunities for spiritual growth and success. 

I couldn't take the guilt any longer about how I was ruining my life with clutter so I decided to go all Niecy Nash/Clean House on myself and had a massive yard sale/DIY fix up. I now live in a mostly clean and organized home and I have to say: Piggy and the new age gurus both steered me wrong. I'm pretty sure some of the "Clean House" families got together for a good cry and some serious self medication in newly cleaned and organized homes -- that's what I did! I'm giving it a little (just a little) more time before heading to some yard sales to get my clutter on again. Meanwhile I've retreated to the only room in my home that is still somewhat messy -- the other rooms just scare me. 

If you have plans for cleaning up your clutter and organizing your life I urge you to immediately stop feeling guilty about being a slob and just relax and enjoy. If you're still not convinced I suggest reading "A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder - How Crammed Closets, Cluttered Offices, and on-the-Fly Planning Make the World a Better Place". 

Oct 12, 2012

Someone Else's Souvenirs

A friend recently commented, "You act like you've never traveled!" in a more than slightly snarky way, like "You can't possibly be as stupid as all THAT!" I managed to convince her that yes, I really was white trash. It wasn't too hard.

But I can see why she was a bit confused. My home is filled with vintage kitschy souvenirs that I've picked up for next to nothing at local yard sales. I serve drinks in glasses representing almost all of the 50 states (most of which I've never been to). In summer my back yard looks like a tiki lounge. I have an astonishing collection of old postcards, all from places I've never been. 

I live in a summer resort, so the idea of a "tourist" is, well, unappetizing. Me? A tourist? Ha! Hell no! Spending time on a cruise ship sounds like purgatory to me. I know there are many alternative modes of travel but spending money is often involved, and that's been somewhat of a barrier. 

But my friend really got me thinking about applying myself to going somewhere, just about anywhere, on a shoestring budget. Then a free travel offer arrived in my inbox today: A one-day round trip bus trip to a battleground state to knock on doors for the Obama campaign. Hmmmmm ... how desperate am I to get out of town? In the meantime I'll make some collages inspired by someone else's souvenirs. Here's one for Venice, where (of course) I've never been. 

Oct 9, 2012

Trashion at Maker Faire

Maker Faire says its "A two-day, family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker movement". Its also a group of brilliant geeks, a few Burning Man vehicles, the Life Size Mousetrap Game (literally), edgy crafters, 3D printers, food and lots more.  There are even some boring corporate booths but no one pays much attention to them because they don't have the cool stuff. 

Last weekend I presented my Trashion Accessories workshop at World Maker Faire in New York and won an Editor's Choice Award. The creativity and the crowds (estimated at over 50,000 people) were overwhelming! 

It was a bit crazy to present a one-on-one workshop to hundreds of people (mostly kids) outdoors for two full days. The goal was to make a fun and wearable accessory. I brought an array of interesting materials that cost me next to nothing: discarded weed wacker cords, T shirts, computer cables, felted sweaters, wire, a leopard print Snuggie, safety pins, thread, magazines, cardboard, Diet Coke bottles and, most importantly, a ton of patience. 

I was really amazed to see how people were able to stop and create in the middle of a chaotic festival surrounded by so many interesting things. They committed to making something and didn't walk away until they were done. Then they walked away very proudly wearing their creation -- which in almost every case was quite cool. 

Disney was giving away plastic kites just a few booths away.  In spite of Disney's resources (and the obvious name and character recognition) the kids had a much richer experience making their own things out of a bunch of stuff that cost practically nothing.