Wednesday, October 9, 2013

24 years ago - October 7, 1989

We were so young then. In some ways. I was one of those proverbial old souls, already having lived through some pretty rough stuff. To say my childhood was dysfunctional is such an understatement it would be funny, were it not so sad.

Compared to my upbringing, my husband's looked like a 1950s sitcom, the mother wearing an apron over her freshly pressed dress, greeting her returning husband with a joyous glow as she brought him his cocktail, insisting he put his feet up after a long, hard day at work. And it wasn't even really like that. It was pretty average but to me, I couldn't grasp what that life would have been about. I'd never known normalcy and you'll have to take my word on it, I mean that literally. My parents didn't have friends, and our exended family lived hundreds of miles away in Mississippi. That insulation made it all the worse. There was no one to provide checks and balances, no one to see what was happening and maybe rescue me. But there was no help. I had to make it through as best I could.

Looking at these photos, I seem impossibly young, though that wasn't really the case at all. I was ancient, life experience-wise, from the lack of receiving guidance from nurturing parents and growing up in the natural, normal way. There was no standard of reference for me. No wonder life was and continues to be so hard.

Twenty-four years of rollercoaster ups and downs, buying a house, having kids. It's serious stuff. The young me was looking no further ahead than the honeymoon in Europe. Changing diapers, sleepless nights, post-partum depression, all that stuff that came after...

Never would I have imagined any of it.

We've been hit pretty hard since the day I wore that pretty dress now packed away in one of the closets. A big part of what's made it so rough happened way before my wedding day but I didn't realize how deep the impact was until a few years ago. Until I started working through it, after a lifetime spent sweeping it under the rug, in denial.

With age comes wisdom, I guess.

Next year will be our silver anniversary. Or so I presume, if nothing happens to change our course. We'll have two kids in college, our youngest becoming an "only" child. It'll be a weaning of sorts, preparation for how will life will uproot and change, all over again, when all the kids are away at school and it's just us after a whole generation of being married with kids.

Like everything else I never anticipated in life, I couldn't begin to say what life will throw at us then.

I guess we'll see.

Monday, October 7, 2013

L'art for the L'azy: Let's Marble Paper! (Redux)

I shouldn't have done it but I did.

I looked at some other paper marbling sites, including that cow MARTHA'S, and found the acrylic paint method makes for more dramatic art.


Do the stuff I told you in the last post:

Fill half the pan with water
Add a couple Tablespoons of oil

Only, instead of food coloring use acrylic paints:

You can get them at any craft store, Walmart, etc.

Zig-zag lines of each color on top of the water:

To make it more "marble-y," drag a toothpick or kebob stick or whatever through the water:

Place paper on top of water, push it down a bit to wet the whole piece, then:

And, yeah. More marble-y than using food coloring. Harder to clean the pan but a nicer effect.

FINE, MARTHA. But I'm not going to buy all her fancy chemicals and such. I'm happy with the easy water, oil and paint method.

You win this time. But I'm still proud of my first efforts:

They'll all make lovely art journal pages.

Now that I've done all this, I've run out of time to work out. Ah, well. Lunch it is.

L'art for the L'azy: Let's Marble Paper!

I'm a spur of the moment decision kind of gal. In the middle of thinking about going to work out, it occurred to me that hey, I want to try making marbled paper!

It really was that pathetic.

I saw it on some YouTube video or other, which probably explains it a LOT better than I do, so let's just go with my inferior method, anyway. Okay?

You will need:

newspaper, to cover work surface
paper towels
a place to put the paper to dry

1 deep cookie pan (an inch would be ideal, but whatevs)
cooking oil
food coloring

I laid the pan on a few pages of newspaper, then filled it roughly halfway with water.

Then, I added two or three Tablespoons of your regular, everyday cooking oil (canola, because I like my art to be healthy).

Next, randomly drop in several drops of several colors of food coloring. Go crazy!

The oil and water of course don't mix, so that leaves the colors to float on top.

Take your paper (I used watercolor paper, so thicker than copy paper)...

Drop it in the pan...

It's going to look a bit like crap but you can see it's starting to marbleize.

So, swish it a bit, to make sure it's all wet... AND THEN...


This one was made fairly late in the game, I'll admit it. I'm pretty sure you're supposed to change the water after a time or two but I, well...

These were made earlier in the process, before my water turned dark bluey ick:

If I'd followed actual instructions these probably would have turned out even better but for a first attempt - and a lazy one at that - I don't think they're bad. Kind of.

Do be careful of the food coloring, as you would with any project involving paint. But the good thing about this paper is the oil in the water keeps it from sticking to things. I put it on cardboard, newsprint, foil and of course our outdoor patio table and it didn't stick to a darn thing.

Once it's done we can play "Let's make a lazy art project!" from it. Maybe later this week. I'm taking the week off from job hunting, so hopefully I'll have some good, quality art time.

In the meantime, maybe I'll try making a few more pieces of marbled paper. If When I really get the hang of it I'll give you the tips. But in the meantime, mess around with this general idea and we'll meet back later in the week.


Now, I've screwed around long enough it's time to eat lunch before I can even think of going to work out. So I need to clean up my mess and eat, then see if I can get to the health club without any more shiny object distractions.

Enjoy your Monday...

My three...

Three kids, ages: 16, 18 and 19.

Obviously, they're older than this. This was taken in 2007, right after we bought our fancy new Canon Rebel EOS Xti, which is no longer fancy nor new anymore. So we have tons of not that great pics from that year, when we joined the digital revolution.

Now they're (left to right) high school sophomore, college sophomore and high school senior.


I wish I'd been blogging when they were tiny and compact, portable and not yet verbal, but such wasn't the case. If I had, I'd have been able to talk about fun stuff like: ceaseless wailing (mine and theirs), potty training (tenth ring of hell), preschool (mixed, mostly hell), elementary school... You get the idea. But I wasn't one of those early bloggers, so we'll have to settle for testosterone and estrogen in much greater doses. Well, mine's taking a nosedive but my daughter's in full swing.

If your kids are older, like mine, you'll realize the challenges have changed. A lot. For one, two of three are taller than I am. When your kids are small you don't take that threat seriously, that one day you'll be looking up to talk to them, counterbalancing all that looking down you did. They aren't always ripping each other's hair out, screaming at each other and stomping off to their rooms. And the wailing has pretty much stopped (mine and theirs). I'm fortunate in that they're not partiers, get good grades and, for the most part, obey.


Still, there are challenges a-plenty. Now it's paying for college and queuing up to pay tuition for two more starting way too soon for my liking. My two older kids drive. My oldest is studying in Wales next semester and who knows if we'll get her back. In some ways stuff is easier. In others, not so much. We've gone from Thomas the Tank Engine to let's think about your whole future and livelihood, while trying to save some money so Mom and Dad can retire.

And I'm currently unemployed.

Oh, joy!

These are the facts, should you choose to accept them. As for me, I have no choice.

I really have no choice, right?

Oh hell.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Begin at the begin

I'm not a summer person. I burn too easily and bitch too loudly when it's hot and I'm sweaty. But neither am I particularly into winter. I freeze too easily, hate snow and bitch too loudly when my ears get frostbitten and fall off. That means I'm happy less than, oh, ten days a year, when it's temperate in the Chicago metropolitan area.

If you're not familiar with it, the climate here is hot and humid in the summers (though the past couple have been good to us = global warming), fairly snowy and occasionally arctic in the winter (ditto = global warming).

Aside from the rapidly escalating crime in the inner city, it's probably as decent a metro area to live in as any, because aren't they pretty much all the same? The touristy and business part of the city are pretty. Lots of museums, impressive architecture and pretty neighborhoods. But that's if you can afford getting there, from the boonies. The train's expensive, parking criminally so. Or should be but Chicago's not that big on criminalizing.

Where we are, in the far-flung Fox River Valley area, it's pleasantly hilly, which is the positive. For negatives, the traffic's hell, the school system misappropriates money faster than you can say budget reform and no one in our neighborhood makes eye contact. When we moved here there were maybe two families with kids in our age within walking distance. Now that we're aging, two of our three kids legally adults, the old people are dying off and young families finally moving in.

Timing. It's everything.

As for downtown charm and community feel? Low and dropping lower by the day, as businesses change hands and a poorly planned condo complex sits empty about four years after construction began.

Nobody home.

Looks good, doesn't it? Only, it sat open to the elements for a couple years, held up by both legal problems and the small problem no one wanted to actually live there, and harbors who knows what nasty, growing things. It's also on the corner of Traffic from Hell and No Outlet.

Quality of living index in our suburb? I'd say four to five out of ten, on a good day.

I never meant to live in the suburbs. Or drive a mini-van. Or even wind up staying in the U.S. When I was young and stupid idealistic,  I vaguely imagined a writer's life, where money would fall from the sky. I'd live in Britain or France, somewhere oozing culture and history. Money for essentials would come, somehow. Details. Mere details.

Fame and fortune? Yes and yes. All without my having to do much of anything but exist, with the potential for doing something really cool in the future. At least that's what I can gather, based on fuzzy data you'd expect from an English major. If it ain't iambic pentameter, it's beyond my comprehension.

I graduated with a B.A. in English literature from what was Rosary College in River Forest, IL and is now Dominican University. I got a well-rounded Liberal Arts education, which I thought was marketable as hell. I was almost right. No way in hell was it marketable.

Then marriage happened and a string of secretarial jobs. Then children. Ultimately, life in the suburbs, stretching out in front of me as far as I can see. Life from which I can only dream I'll escape between now and my dotage, when I'll probably slip on my medieval stone pathway and break a hip on the way to the market for tea and fresh crumpets.

But I will die knowing I made it, man. I made it.

In reality, I went for my Master's in Library and Information Studies, right around the time libraries started to tank. So now I'm an unemployed, peri-menopausal mother of three, fortunate to be married to someone who generates income. Stuck in the suburbs, living the American dream. It's all just so romantic, I don't know where to start.

Here seems like as good a place as any.