Monday, October 25, 2010

The four day gift


I am moving slowly today. I'm coming off four days with seven sassy women in the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. Still marinating in what we created there together. When I got the invitation back in August my husband took one look at it and was like, under no circumstances are you missing this thing. Whoever these women are who thought this up are clearly fabulous. And he was right. All of them fabulous. All of them with special gifts that unfolded beautifully over our long weekend together. There was a rough schedule which we only kind of abided. We mainly let the weather decide if we should go out or stay in. When we went out we took walks and breathed in the lake and bought candy and had moose mochas and admired Scandinavian handicrafts. And when we stayed in there was a lot of creating going on. Bookbinding and collaging and sketching and coloring and beading and inking. Not to mention the hysterical laughter, cooking, dancing, storytelling and sharing. I took advantage of my time away to read and take naps also. It was just what I needed. It was just who I needed too. Thank you Liv, Rachel, Aimee, Jen, Carissa, Kolleen and Lori. Big love to all of you.


Fair Winds





Sunday, October 17, 2010

Treasure hunting


**somehow this didn't post last Sunday. Posting now even though it is horribly out of date.

Today was the last day in a string of unending commitments that started at the end of August with the first day of kindergarten and just has NOT. LET. UP. The parent participation school, while incredible in many ways, feels like a day job. The amount of emails alone is enough to make me cry uncle. Every week there's something. Meetings, rocket day, potlucks, walk-a-thon, sign ups, parent education training, class pictures, conferences, observation. Not to mention the fact that starting week after next I am actually working there two hours a week. Teaching math, no less. Which would send my Algebra teacher Mr. Oster into hysterics.

So that coupled with five Jewish holidays, one of which is eight days long and involves inviting people to eat outside in your tabernacle and obviously cooking for them, plus the birthdays and last weeks big show, I am just WRECKED. GRIZZLED. KNACKERED. Pull me out of the toaster, BURNT.

And today was the final event - my son's birthday party. We couldn't celebrate last weekend because of the show so it was today instead. He decided to invite only kids from his new school which I thought was a bold choice. Twelve kids including a few younger sibs. We had it in our home.

Here is where I stop to mention that I would LOVE to spend $300 and have it at some kitschy bouncy house place where up to twenty kids run around like maniacs and then have cake. I would love that. Then I don't have to plan, call, clean, strategize, and run seventy-two errands.  We've been to a lot of these parties and my kids love them. But every time we go, I feel dirty. And they're all the time hosing you down with hand sanitizer which only exacerbates my feeling. I mean my son goes hog wild every time at these parties but it's not for us. I still reserve the right to have one of these parties if ever necessary. Just saying.

So my husband came up with the idea of a treasure hunt, which we were unable to plan until the day before out of shear laziness. But given this fact I would say it was still totally awesome. It even rained but that didn't scare our intrepid treasure hunters. While we were waiting for everyone to arrive we read my favorite book from the mid-seventies Sloth's Birthday Party. It's about a really messy sloth whose friends celebrate his birthday and it rains during the story so it seemed very apropos. Following the story the rain abated and we split into two teams. The reds and the blues. And then we sent everyone to stations around the neighborhood including our neighbors Juan and Irene, our compost bin, two different park locations and inside our murphy bed. I had my mom, Grandma Seuss, write the clues the night before and we made sure the order for each team was different. Each clue had a puzzle piece inside and once each team had been to each station they came back home to build the puzzle with all ten pieces which turned out to be a map! After much scrutiny and a little parental guidance the kids found "buried" treasure in the crawl space behind our house. A piƱata! Hooray! We hung it up outside and bashed the crap out it, collected candy and headed inside for pizza and cake and the customary lifting of the birthday boy in the decorated chair, once for each year and one for next year. I think we even topped the year we got him a cell phone cake. Especially since the whiskers on his lion cake were made of tootsie roll.

And with that I prepare myself to take leave of this suburban life for a few days of relaxation and inspiration on the North Shore of Lake Superior with seven celebrated women. More when I return...


Birthday Lift

Lion cake

Monday, October 11, 2010

To Life


I am fall over and die exhausted. I did my first big show this weekend in Palo Alto. The kind where everyone has a tent. And you pay money to do it. And there's food and music and lots of people walking around. I decided to do it last April and thought oh I have plenty of time to psych myself up and get myself ready and prepare inventory. And yet I didn't want to get too psyched about it for fear I would completely fall on my face. You see, I have done small holiday boutiques for schools and synagogues and the damn Junior League. And all sucked. But something told me that this show would be different. Namely because it's a Jewish cultural street fair and a lot of my work is culturally Jewish.  Good match, me thinks. But the fee to participate was $200 which I thought was A TON for a six hour stint. And I knew that preparing for this event would mean a lot of hours of printing and matting and framing and organizing. Plus I don't own the kind of stuff one needs to attend these kinds of shows. The only tent we own says REI on it. And no walls or grids to hang art.

But my husband, engineering genius that he is, after seeing some of the pictures from the Sawdust Festival this summer, came up with the idea that we could use our sukkah (temporary dwelling we build in our yard every fall to celebrate Sukkot). And I thought, that is the best friggin idea I have ever heard. We were planning to build it anyway and sukkot would be over the 29th of September so that would give us another full week to play around with how to show art inside. We borrowed some bamboo siding from another friend's sukkah and Mr. Rosen fashioned a few beams in which to drill screws for displaying framed art. I bought some fabric from IKEA to hang as the roof. We borrowed tables, grabbed some of our own furniture, a few tschachkes of the middle eastern variety and created a place I can only describe as a desert oasis in a sea of white tenty sameness.

Mr. Rosen has built this structure many times. We've had it for three years now and he has labeled all of the wood for quick construction. But it's still construction. Unlike those little EZ-Up tents this thing requires a drill. And a contractor's license. So we got there plenty early. Within forty minutes I was able to get inside and start merchandising the art. (I actually videotaped the whole thing but we'll see if I can edit it into fast motion. Stay tuned).

Now I don't know if it was the sukkah or the fact that no one who comes to this show has seen my work or that my quota for crappy shows was fulfilled, but this show kicked ass on every level. I felt great about my space. My husband and I were in total teamwork mode. I spent the day working with my mom who is a saleswoman par none and was great about getting email addresses for the mailing list. The weather was beautiful. I met a lovely Yemenite Israeli retired professor who now makes spectacularly intricate filigree jewelry. And I made my booth space investment back five fold. Plus my husband and I got to bask in the eight hours we actually owned real estate in Palo Alto where, on any other day, our 100 square foot jewel would go for 1.2 million.

A few lessons learned:
  1. Having a flip bin is key. People spent several minutes engaged in flipping through $30 prints and many bought. They were a bargain compared to the framed art. 
  2. Next time have a $50 bin also.
  3. No one buys after they "think about it".
  4. 80 degrees feels like 95 when you're wearing jeans.





Wednesday, October 6, 2010



Hi kiddo,

I haven't written in a while. I used to write you letters on your birthday but after we had your sister that kind of yearly obligation was more than I could handle. But you and your antics did inspire me to start this blog so that kind of counts for something. I can't hardly believe that you're already six. SIX! That's like 42 in dog years. You're almost as old as Uncle Aaron! We don't always see eye to eye on things, like how often you should wear your green J Camp tee shirt or whether marshmallows make for a nutritious breakfast, but we sure do have a connection, you and me. For better or worse, we are locked in tight. Here are the things I love about you lately.
  1. The way you crack an egg.
  2. Your singing voice.
  3. Your loyalty to your (stuffed) kitty.
  4. Your enthusiasm for electricity and science.
  5. The way you draw fingers.
  6. Your love of shoes (this kind of bugs me but I can totally relate).
  7. Your heart.
  8. Your goodnight secrets.
  9. The way you look just like your Grandpa.
  10. Your imagination.
  11. The way you still crawl into our bed in the morning.
  12. Your willingness to try new foods (that's new!)
  13. Your compassion.
  14. The way you memorized every word to the Oompa Loompa songs.
  15. Your spirituality. 
  16. That your favorite birthday present was the label maker.
  17. The way you are unapologetically your awesome neurotic self. 
I love you.