chasing the light

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It’s gray here, and icy. We’re under an ice storm warning, and almost everything is closed – all the schools, a lot of the businesses. M and I are working from home, and the girls made their own schedules for the day. E and F are now playing jointly – from 11:40-noon, and I don’t hear any bickering. So far, so good. According to their schedule I have a break at 12:10  – an appointment with a stack of girl scout badges and a hot iron. There seem to be numerous snack breaks on the paper as well. Whatever gets us through.

This image is getting me through at the moment. I’m nearing the point where the light returns again – at least long enough to squeeze in some short runs after work. I’m trying to be patient, to flex those indoor muscles while I wait. It’s paying off, I can feel it. A few weeks ago I mastered a difficult head stand pose; I’ve never had the kind of upper body strength that I have now. Last night I was able to raise and lower myself in a what resembles a vertical, inverted series of crunches, for a dozen times before I had to return to the ground. When I started physical therapy three years ago, I could not touch my toes without bending my knees. I was tasked with tiny exercises for my feet, but I knew that commitment needed to eventually extend to the rest of me. That decision has changed me in ways that I could never have imagined or predicted.

In a few weeks I’ll flip back over, finding the ground beneath my feet again, stretching in new ways for a new year. I haven’t set any specific goals for running or strength training or yoga this year, outside of enjoying the practice. Chasing the light on a regular basis, and introducing it to our home in new ways. Those are my resolutions for this year.

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Big day coming up – January 20th. And I’m not talking about the inauguration, I’m talking about a distraction from it. The 20th is the day we hand over so much of our work to someone else. (Choirs of angels singing.)

We are tired, and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. I will be largely absent here between now and then, and largely absent from my bed as well. I’m already yawning through everything, but I’m excited too. And stressed. But mostly excited. Until five minutes from now when I will again be mostly stressed.

I’m looking forward to sharing many more details soon, but for now, I thought I’d let you guys do the writing work for me! I’d love to know something that you would love to have in your kitchen – maybe something you’d do if you had more room or would tackle in a future renovation. Or it could be something you already have now that you couldn’t live without.

Here are two things to get the ball rolling:

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Don’t laugh, but I want to install a large paper roll / cutter like this on the wall of the kitchen. Maybe even more than one. Not to write lovely menus on the wall – although that’s adorable, but I really would love a giant roll of parchment paper mounted like that. I guess I could write on it occasionally, but it would really be for using. I love the natural colored parchment paper, and use it for baking, roasting, wrapping, covering, etc. I put a roll in my shopping cart every three weeks.

And pot rails. Cue the pot rails. I can’t wait.

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Sneak peek at the range as well.

Your turn.

our portrait collection continues

Hi! It’s good to be back after the holidays. I hope you had a nice one, maybe a change of pace for a bit. We traveled a lot as we always do, but we’re home now and I’m actually home-home for a day with no work. A rare treat for me these days. The girls start back to school on Wednesday.

So today will be a day of unpacking and packing. Actually, we’re pretty much unpacked, just not fully put away. That seems to always draw out for awhile, particularly after the holidays when we come back with extra goodies in our bags. But there will be some packing up as well – I think I’ll start to take down some of the Christmas decorations, although I’m sure we’ll leave some up through the weekend. And then I have to somehow wrap my head around packing up more of our house – as we live in it – we don’t completely know how the phasing of these house projects is going to shake out, although we should have a clearer idea about that soon. Regardless, there’s going to be a big push to clean up and clear out, and Januarys are good for pushing me in that direction.

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You might recall that last Christmas the girls and I gave M two custom oil paintings – portraits of both girls for our portrait wall. I decided to keep up that tradition and build on it this year.

Funny story though…

I contacted local artist Cbabi Bayoc back in late summer about doing a piece for me because – get this – I was SO on top of my gift game. He graciously agreed to the project and then asked me to send him a few photos for ideas. I was catching up from vacation and busy at work, and so I sort of forgot about my return email. (For a few months.) I felt terrible about it, but it didn’t even jog my memory until early October when we were eating at SweetArt for breakfast. M mentioned to me that he’d love to contact Cbabi sometime to see if he had a print of the alphabet painting (slide 11 in that link) he had done for a library branch M built last year. (His actual piece was produced at a large scale on glass.) Outwardly I told him that was a great idea; inwardly I remembered that I had never followed through on the portrait piece.

I sent off an apology email and waited to hear back – but I didn’t. Fall marched forward, and I tried again. Still nothing – I knew he was busy. I looked into Plan B, and found an artist, June Chang, working in watercolors, that I liked through Minted’s custom artwork service (scroll down and you’ll see the girls on June’s page – I highly recommend working with her!). I sent June one of my favorite photos taken by Yvonne Niemann for our family, and she loved it and got to work.

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I sent her a deposit… and then Cbabi emailed me the next day. (Of course!)

He found some time, he loved the bridge photo I sent him (my favorite as well), he could do the piece sometime in the next week and a half – what could I say?

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Well, yes.

So that’s how I ended up with two paintings this year for M. OK, three. Because Cbabi also gave me that alphabet painting M had wanted!

…..

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I just adore this watercolor by June – she said it was her favorite piece all year, and I think it’s so perfect. The original photo by Yvonne was taken on the lawn outside of Central Library – you can see all of those photos here. (Do you see the little mouse in F’s hand?)

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And when I picked up the piece by Cbabi on the morning we left for our Christmas travels, I almost started crying right in the restaurant. It was just so perfect.

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I love this photo of the girls at the garden – he captured their round cheeks, and the light of the day, and it’s such a special place and memory to me. I love his style of painting and I love everything that he does, but this has got to be my favorite piece by him. I love having one of our garden mornings captured this way.

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So cheers to more lovely art to adorn our walls – whenever all those walls are finished! 2017 is already off to a colorful start.