Monthly Archives: September 2017

rainbow themed

When I was in high school I started painting murals. It was the late eighties / early nineties, and that was a big thing – a more custom take on stenciled borders and wallpapered walls that everyone seemed to have. It kept me busy. I did a lot of nurseries and kid rooms, bathrooms, dining rooms, kitchens. I painted on larger walls in schools – lots of book themed murals in hallways and stairwells. I also did pen and ink renderings or watercolors of people’s homes, watercolor names of children for their rooms, a few painted mailboxes and flowerpots – I don’t think I ever turned down a job. Thinking back on that now, I really hustled in high school. I had places to go (Europe with my French class!), things to buy (Guess jeans!), events to attend (New Kids on the Block concerts!).

So it was kind of funny to have some flashbacks to this time over this past weekend.

I painted a lot of book themed murals in the elementary school where my mom taught third grade. I started painting them in high school, and added to the collection over summer breaks at home from college. Based on the date above, I must have done this one right before heading back to my sophomore year at Clemson. It’s a scene from Eric Carle’s Draw Me A Star, and I remember that it wasn’t that easy to paint something in thick paint that was originally rendered in painted tissue paper collages.

My first mural in that school was the cover of one of my favorite books – Tomie De Paulo’s The Art Lesson. It’s hard to tell in the photo, but that mural was ten feet tall and painted over a stair, so it was a pretty dicey ladder setup I worked from. Also, I had to use oil based paint on the painted concrete block walls, which wasn’t much fun. I don’t miss mineral spirits. I used to bathe in the stuff.


E is always drawing or painting something at home. A friend asked recently if she’d be willing to paint a mural on her daughter’s bedroom wall, and E was excited to do it. I offered to help her get started on this project because I know that it’s not as easy as it looks. You need good quality paint, you need a lot of supplies, and it’s easy to tell when you haven’t done your homework. Plus, someone’s got to drive her around to do all of this, so she didn’t have much of a choice on the partnership. Luckily she was on board.

We ended up having a really great time together, and split the work pretty evenly to be efficient. I gave her lots of pointers along the way, but let her make or weigh in on every single decision. (We used a push pin in the corner of the wall, and stretched twine tied to a pencil to make the perfect arcs for the rainbow stripes. And we hunted through the house for big circles – using a step stool and a metal toy bin for the fluffy clouds.) We made a good team, and when we were driving home on the third day, she thanked me for the opportunity to try it. She loved the process and really loved the end result. She wants to do more. I have a feeling she might have a mural business in the making.

i want to do more

The list, if you let me start it, will roll out slowly, tentatively at first, as if testing the waters between us. It will watch for your shrug or your sigh, for you to politely cut me off with a statement of dismissal, or forcefully drive your point into its stream before it gathers momentum.

But if you are feeling gracious and let me ramble, it will pick up speed. You may have thought you knew just what I would say, but I would surprise you. It’s all there, just under the surface. The expected and the norm-shattering, together.

Each morning I rise and wonder if this is the day the dam breaks. The sides of the sandcastle begin to shear off and slide into the center pool, dissolving, despite the incessant pack-pack-packing the foundation into compliance, sturdy and steady and sticking.

I long to test it somewhere safe, to see how bad the flood is. I don’t know where that is, but I’m searching.

saturday morning in the garden

Last week was a long one, and I never could get caught up on sleep. By the time Friday night rolled around, we had a house full of girls and a college soccer game to attend, and the game went into overtime. I barely remember collapsing into bed that night.

Saturday morning came, and my alarm went off just after six. It was so tempting to turn it off. The sun was just starting to stream in through the open windows, the breeze was cool, and the sheets and blankets felt so good. The girls would be sleeping a few more hours if we let them, and I felt like it was perfectly rational to want to stay in bed and grab some more sleep.

Ten minutes later I got up. I knew that this was my time, and that I never regretted it when I took it. I threw on running clothes this morning instead of yoga ones. My yoga instructor wasn’t teaching that day, and I had decided to go for a long run after my morning garden walk. I checked the temperature outside, and threw on a sweater over my tank. I made a quick peanut butter sandwich to carry me through the next three hours and my run, and headed out the door.

The garden seemed quieter on this day. It’s never busy during that first hour of the walking hours, but I was surprised at how empty it was. Maybe everyone else had a similar reckoning moment beneath the sheets. I didn’t mind. An empty garden is my favorite, although I enjoy the quiet nods from others as we walk.

The sun seemed higher than it should be for September – it was a cloudless morning, and warming quickly as it began. The bees and butterflies were abundant, busy and still in turns.

I almost skipped bringing the camera – sometimes I convince myself that I’ve seen it all before, it hasn’t changed that much since my last walk. And then I’m reminded that it’s always changing, and I find new blooms and colors and views that I’ve missed.

The camera lets me look in different ways. I enjoy the heaviness of it in my hand.

I left my car at the garden and ran for the next hour and a half – to and around a nearby park, and up and down the tree-lined streets of the neighborhood. When I returned to my car the lot was nearly full, the garden fully open, streams of people filing in the doors with sun hats and strollers. I was headed home to smells of breakfast and a warm shower and a pot of coffee just for me, feeling more rested and relaxed than any good snooze button could offer.