Second Update

We are expecting four inches of snow tonight. Guess where my neighbor parked?

Yep. You guessed it.

In a way I can see how he would have parked there before. Maybe he didn't realize how disruptive his actions were. But now I've spoken with him and he conciously decides to park there again, despite knowing that it causes hardship. That is the tell-tale sign of what type of person he is. If a neighbor or coworker told me something I was doing was irritating, I would try to stop. At least the best side of me hopes that I would. Every day is closer to Spring.

Updated update: Miraculous! He moved his truck! The snow is coming down in gusts. Maybe his wife spoke with him. Any-which-way-YAY!


Enough Already!

Enough Already!, originally uploaded by pejnolan.

My neighbor only parks on our side of the street when there is a snowstorm. That way his side of the street is plowed clear while the snowplow dumps all the snow into our driveway where I have to shovel it out before being able to take my son to school and take myself to work. Normally it is a minor inconvenience, but with this year's snowfall - numerous and heavy - this last storm was the last straw. I had to shovel out a 4.5 foot tall by 6 feet wide by 4 foot deep snow heap... and I put it all in behind the neighbor's truck. He asked me if there was a problem and I said, why, yes, there was. Words were exchanged to put it politely. He will most likely do the same with any remaining snowstorms, but I am writing up a plan for the city to review showing why no one should park on one side of the street after a 2-inch snowfall. No one else parks on the street - just this guy. It would be easier for the plows to remove the snow and easier for people to navigate on the street. Hopefully NEXT year I won't have to go through this anymore. There are notes in the picture on my Flickr. UPDATE: It is the following day and all the muscles in my back, hammies and wrists are painfully knotted up. Geez, I can't wait to see how I feel tomorrow. OUCH!


I felt pretty good this morning after having a haircut last night by the best stylist in the world, Stephanie at Dolce Vita. She is the ONLY stylist that has ever made my hair look decent and polished. P. is off today, J. went to school no problem and it was just me and my puppy for an hour by ourselves as I was getting ready for work. The sun in shining (finally) and I hear tell that the temperature may be above freezing on Sunday. I hope, I hope, I hope! It will feel like a heatwave. Every morning this past week I have awakened to sparrows singing. They know that Spring is just around the corner. The energy is rising in the world around me like sap flowing in a tree and I can feel it. Little things like taking a shower in the morning with *gasp* sunlight shining through the window, the buds of trees are looking ever so slightly more green, the squirrels are acting squirrelie, there is still sunlight when I leave work at night. Soon, very soon... Have you read the Chronicles of Narnia? Remember when they said, "Aslan is on the move!"? This feeling is what C.S. Lewis must have been describing: anticipation, excitement, hope, renewal. YAY!


Crappie Art

This is one fish out of my lastest painting. I scanned it in and cutout the background. The act of creating these intricate designs is very meditative for me. I've mentioned earlier that I paint after the day is done and I'm settled in bed. Well, this is the time I pray and try to review the day and analyse what I did right and what I could do better. This process along with remembering the stories and places I'm painting create my own "dreamtime." Not the high stress waking hours, not yet carefree sleeping: somewhere between. Time goes faster, or slower as I focus on my work. I can sense the difference. My right brain, creative side, takes over. It is a hum.


NIU - Valentine Day Shooter

Shooting at NIU: 7 dead, 22 wounded

The constant hum of helicopter motors is strange for this small town.

The big question is why? In cases like this there is no reason, no logic. There is no why. In my mind the why doesn't matter. Seven people went to school this morning, young full of life, never dreaming that they wouldn't make it home that evening to share Valentine's with their loved ones.

Parents sent their children to school, offering them everything they had so that their children could be offered every opportunity to be successful. Now they are crying, wishing they had never sent them away from home. A parent's job is to keep their children safe and healthy and to love them always. They will continue to love their children, but they will not see them again in this lifetime and never again have the opportunity to keep them safe.

Life is fleeting and precious, but who among us understands this fact unless something like this happens? Then, in time, this feeling will fade until it happens again. I felt awful when I heard about Columbine, about Virginia Tech, but to be honest that was "somewhere else." I had prayed for those families in earnest, but the shock I felt yesterday made me physically ill. I had difficulty focusing, my hearing was muffled. I felt a disconnect between reality and what I was viewing. It was the same feeling I had on 9•11. "All those people." I could feel the suffering of the people caught, jumping, their families... true suffering, not just a heart ache, but a soul ache.

I heard the news through a co-worker whose friend had called him on his cell to say that he was locked in the Holmes Student Center basement because there had been a shooting. It was difficult to look at my co-worker's face. I could see the concern, disbelief, and sorrow. His other friends started calling, the news kept getting worse. I felt badly for him. He is a young guy and this is probably the first time he has had to deal with something so tragic as an adult.

Is it so difficult to try to be good. Even if you think about doing something bad, is it so difficult to say to yourself, "No!"? When I was young the world was black and white. The older I get, the easier it is to see the grays. It is more confusing, but I still have a sense of right and wrong, black and white... and now red. Society today doesn't see the gray. They only acknowledge the black or white after the fact. Little by little, slowly and imperceptibly, like the proverbial frog in a pot of boiling water, society had gone insane. Drug addicts, drunkards, liars, those materialistic ideals - those are the people society raises up as "successful." Think about the celebrities we and our children want to be like. Are they good people? Do we really want to be like that? Does their plight entertain us? Should it?

Morality is not based on the highest common denominator any longer. We have lowered ourselves so that the basest among us rule. If you tell someone they are wrong, it is someone else's fault. If you say what they did was bad, you are being judgmental. If you notify authorities, you are interfering. Following the law or obeying rules is for "someone else." Everyone feels they are the exception. Society cannot function in this way.

In the end all we can do is try to be good ourselves. Try to do good for others, maybe that kindness and generosity and loving will rub off onto them. I know that when a stranger does a kindness to me, my faith in humanity is renewed. It is the small things in life that build on one another. Smile at a stranger. Open the door for someone behind you. Let an older person have that parking space close to the door. Tell those close to you that you love them. Play peek-a-boo with a baby who is crying. It doesn't a great person with unlimited funds to change the world. It takes you.


Kishwaukee Valley Art League Show

Two of my pieces are hanging in the Egyptian Theatre. ("Seadragon's World" is shown on the left.) This is the first time I've seen my work up - not as a student. It felt great! The colors and textures and people energized me so much that I was on a natural high the entire day.

The series that I'm working on right now is the very first time I've created something for myself: they were not created for a specific class or project or person. They serve no practical purpose. If other people enjoy them, that is terrific and I enjoy hearing their comments. When it comes right down to it, though, it doesn't matter if they like it or not. It doesn't matter if the painting gets in a show, it doesn't matter if it makes money. I'm just making them for me. Selfish, aren't I?

It is liberating not to worry about what other's think. The older I get, the more I realize that I cannot let outside influences determine who I am as a person or as an artist. For too long I allowed myself to be shaped by what people thought of me and what I believed society expected of me.

Ahh, it is late and I'm rambling. Good night.


Biomorphic Pendant

At the last Maker's Art Group meeting I came across the cover project for Art Jewelry Magazine entitled, "Create a Hybrid Focal Piece with Wire and Polymer Clay" and was enraptured. Although I haven't worked with polymer clay before, I looked the project over and thought it was doable.

My tiny 10'x8' bedroom has become my studio. Everything I need (except a blowtorch) is organized in neat little boxes: one for acrylics, one for tools, another for drawing, etc. Whenever I start a new project, another box comes out or is created. In this case, I have a brand new polymer clay box with brand new tools and clay. Exciting... new box equals new possiblities!

The magazine suggested that it was based on a seed pod design, but I saw more of an angry red squid, so I went with that. I used raw copper wire instead of the suggested plastic coated type. The instructions called for a type of smooth gradient achieved with a pasta machine. (Mine didn't work out so well, but I enjoy the stripes created as a happy accident. I'll have to practise that technique a bit more.) I also filled the interior cavity with seashells and a copper spiral attached to the endcap. Now that it is finished, my mind is racing on different applications.

Meanwhile my lastest painting went horribly wrong. Thank goodness acrylics are workable, I'll be fixing that tonight. When it is finished, it will illustrate another story from my history. I can't wait to share it with ya'll, but it takes time.


Winter Wonderland

The gnomes went out this morning. I told them not to. They didn't even wear their mittens! We had about 10 inches of snow overnight, but they were determined to start planting their flowers. Eventually, inevitably, I went out to rescue them when they became stuck in the snow. Silly gnomes.