Art is a black hole

I've been absorbed by art projects this weekend. Dan & Miss G are in Reno visiting Miss L, so it's just me and the dogs and several large surfaces to spread out alllll over.

It's been a really long time since I've made stuff just for the sake of making stuff. When I had a non-creative job, I thought I wanted a creative job. When I had a creative job, I had no juice left for my own projects; it all got used up at work. I don't even remember the last painting I did for myself.

Creativity isn't supposed to be draining. It's supposed to fuel--invigorate-- inspire. I forgot about that part, until this weekend.

I keep forgetting to eat. I look up and it's afternoon and I only made toast for breakfast. I meant to add eggs and stuff, but I just-- forgot. There are three days of dishes in the sink. Serious, serious vacuuming needs to happen.

But that's okay. It was a really productive weekend. And I can get all the chores done today. Right after... okay, just this one little thing that needs tweaking...


Buried Treasure

My favorites stores are the ones where I have to dig for treasure. I love thrift stores and sales racks. I love the feeling of The Find-- you know, that perfect whatever that's 93% off.

But books, now.... it's hard to find a fun bookstore any more. I don't like the big chains; they're dull and soulless. I want the tiny, scrungy local-owned places with hardcover editions of my favorite out-of-print something or other. Preferably with all shelf space used up and the excess stacked up in wobbly piles. But of all the things Las Vegas has to offer, the just-right second hand bookstore is one that's missing. Or I just haven't found it yet.

So, most of my book shopping happens at thrift stores. Or sometimes ebay, if I hate the current editions' cover art (His Dark Materials) or the current (sacrilegious) order of a particular series. (*coughcough*Narnia*cough*). Mostly, I save my book shopping for when I visit my folks in Tucosn.

A block or two from their house, there's the perfect hunt-n-peck bookstore. I love it. My dad and I have a standing date to comb the sci-fi section whenever I'm in town. The whole place is about the size of my living room and kitchen combined and absolutely crammed with books. If they run out of room in one section, they stack overflow onto the nearest shelf. This leads to curious juxtapositions like Anne Frank ending up in True Crime.

I like to rearrange the books while I'm there. Not a lot, just-- you know, moving Tao of Pooh out of the children's section. Jonathan Livingston Seagull frequently turns up there too; sometimes I leave him, depending on my mood. Once I found him in animal books. Also: The Five People You Meet in Heaven is not a biography. The Historian does not belong in historical novels. And The Time Traveler's Wife is not sci-fi.

But the funny just adds to the whole experience. And finding a particular treasure-- a hardcopy edition of Illusions, for example-- is all the more sacred for the effort I put in. Just like everything else.





Okay. This might not look like much. But here's the story:

A couple of the cacti there were blown over, poor things, and needed to be replanted. Meanwhile, Bermuda grass (which I'm convinced is a sentient species... but that's another blog post entirely) had taken over some sections of yard, including the cactus. And a nice feathery bush with little yellow flowers was planted too close to the fence, and getting squished.

So-- step one, moved bush. Step two, removed Bermuda grass. (This involves two solid feet of dirt and roots more than it sounds) Step 3, set cacti back upright with special rock supports.

Also, I arranged Dan's bone collection (and a very small portion of his rock collection) in pots along the rockway there.

It's only a tiny 'after'. But it's one more 'after' than I had at this time yesterday.


The Middle Part

When Miss G was little, I spent the day at school or at work missing her-- telling stories about her, planning what to do that evening with her. And every day I was surprised at how little she really was-- in the afternoon when I picked her up from daycare, such tiny shoes lined up next to the door. Or when I saw her tucked in watching Star Wars on the couch, only the slightest arc of her head visible above the cushions. Or nestled up with her Pig at bedtime, barely a bump changing the blanket's landscape. Her chock-full personality loomed in my mind; how could all that chutzpah fit into such a tiny package? How could something two feet tall pack such a wallop?

And now when I see her, I think "My god, she's enormous. When did she get so big?" And her personality is still not contained neatly within.

Where'd the middle part go? How did she move from too small to too big without a middle part? Worse, how'd I miss it?

Then I realized, I'm still in it. I'm surrounded by middle part.

Parenting is not a verb with a concrete culmination. It's a jumble of stages crammed together. There wasn't a missed mythical 'right' size, when Miss G's height magically matched her energy level and angels sang and everything made sense.

For a middle to exist, there has to be a beginning and an end. Parenting begins clearly enough-- one day there's no baby, then the next there is. But it doesn't wrap up in a bow at age eighteen. Or, you know. Ever.

It's a lifetime of middle part.