Tag Archives: saturday series

saturday (camping)

A few weekends ago our family went camping with our regular camping family friends. We try to get away each spring and fall, and we always find new places to explore. We finally found a few moments to transfer around some photos, and as I’m looking at them now I’m getting more and more excited for our upcoming vacation adventures. The girls and I got new hiking shoes and better outerwear for exploring this weekend, and now I feel like I could leave tomorrow. I want to be outside, seeing new things, exploring to the point of exhaustion, and starting all over again the next day.

I love being their mother. I love seeing them outdoors exploring. I hope they remember our adventures. I hope the seed is planted for their own adventures beyond us. But first I want to cram in as much of this as possible.

saturday (paper)

The first week of May is our busiest week of the year. Many of the things we hold dear have major fundraisers this week – We Stories, the girls’ elementary school soiree, and the Sparkle Run. So our hearts and hands and brains are all over the place right now. Forgive the brevity here.

If you’ve followed along for awhile, you know that every year I make a set of raffle posters for the soiree. Sometimes I use acrylics or watercolors – one year I used fabric. But I love to use paper, and returned to the theme this year – with lots of dimension.

The theme this year was the Wizard of Oz, and that’s a really easy theme to run with. We initially had four raffle baskets, but as we bundled auction items together we changed it to three, and the themes are built around the items the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion are all seeking from the Wizard. I didn’t want to use the characters themselves, but drew on imagery from their placement along the yellow brick road, and also included the items they received in Oz, which carry the names of each raffle prize.

First up: “Knowledge is Power”. This package includes lots of items to increase your brain power.

Dimensional diploma, and lots of straw.

I also display the names of the items / donors somewhere on each board – although a more detailed description is included in each guest’s program. This year I decided to “carve” the donors name in bricks like you see in memorial plazas, and made the bricks yellow of course! This took the most time, but was worth it.

I really love the corn stalks. I tried to use plant life / greenery / trees along the way that showed the path through the forest, and how it changed throughout the story – from corn fields, to tall, slender trees for chopping, and then more jungle like when the lion shows up.

Next up: “Love is All You Need”. This package includes big ticket items that involve activities to do with someone you love.

The tin man’s heart clock was my favorite thing to create. I cut A LOT of gold chain circles, and made the dimensional daisies, and I think it turned out really great.

I like the abstract trees here, with no greenery – but I felt like it needed some color to tie in with the others, and to make the red heart pop, so I hinted at the poppy fields to come in the corner of this poster.

And the last one (maybe my favorite): Be Brave. This awesome package includes a ton of things that might force you out of your comfort zone a little!

My first thought was of Bert Lahr’s lion in the beauty salon in Oz. It’s one of my favorite scenes from the movie, and I love when he gets a red bow, and then his medal of valor pinned to his ringlets.

When there were four posters, the fourth was going to be a Dorothy one, so I already had red sparkly paper. I used it for the bow instead, and I like the ruby slipper reference here.

It was a lot of oranges and yellows, so the jungle like greenery really helped in the corners.

Raffle tickets go in corresponding glass jars, so I made these little themed tags to identify the jars.

And there you have it – what I’ve been up to all Saturday! Paper art is my favorite art.

saturday (exquisite)

I was getting my hair cut earlier this week, and the salon chair is always a great place for conversation. Somehow our talking turned to my grandparents – I think maybe we were talking about this post I wrote recently about my grandfather’s poetry, but at some point it turned to my grandmother’s numerous talents. Our family is nearing eight years without her, which seems both incredibly long and short at the same time. I think I assumed that the missing would fade somewhat with the passing years, but I find myself thinking of her more often lately than I would have expected.

I’ve been wondering about why this is, and I think maybe I’ve settled on an explanation. I’ve talked a lot about incorporating rituals into my life that help me connect with things that bring me joy and calm and respite, as well as celebrating the beauty around me. I’ve tried to be intentional about this practice, and most importantly – specific, and focused in my attention to them. Because I can remember times in my life when I’ve struggled with difficult transitions, or battled depression or anxiety, or felt immense and relentless grief – and during those periods I would frequently tell myself that this life – MY life – was beautiful, and that I should feel lucky and grateful and satisfied, not unmoored and untethered and bleak. It stayed in this vague, gauzy, abstract form that did nothing for the very real and tangible struggle I was mired in. It didn’t bring me comfort; it encouraged guilt, and feelings of inadequacy.

Specificity changed that, not overnight, but with time. I named those things that made life beautiful – that gave it meaning, that challenged me, that inspired me. And then I mapped out where those things could fit in – daily, weekly, with specificity and priority. I documented them with photos and words – many I share, most I don’t.

I found ways for these things to bleed into each other. I strengthened the ritual of early morning walking in the garden, first with E, now with F. I allowed the excitement around new discoveries in the garden to help motivate me to run a little faster and longer on the park trails in the afternoons. I brought those colors indoors – on my counter, in my vases and my lunches, on our bookshelves, in our art collections. I sought out inspiring people around me, and stopped admiring them from afar – I said hello, I’ve been thinking about this too, let’s talk more, grab coffee, collaborate. I tuck away all these things for now and for later, so if I’m asked to help out here or there, I can pull from all of those things just what I need. A catalog of petals and poses and pages and poetry and passions and people that I draw deep breaths from each day.

And so I miss my grandmother in this moment, because I’d like to share this all with her. Partly because I know that she would draw equal or greater joy in the collection of these things. But mostly because I wish I could share with her my thoughts on this. My grandparents loved me and my sister unconditionally, and they were passionate about everything that we were interested in. But in my memories of my grandmother, I will always be young – and so I miss these deeper conversations I’d like to have with her now. I wrote these words as part of her obituary –

Jo was a gifted artist, particularly with textiles, and graciously shared her numerous talents throughout her life with family, friends, and the many church homes served by Jo and George. She was exquisite in every sense of the word, and she leaves a lasting legacy of a beautiful life and a life made beautiful.

– and I really meant them. I just wish that I could talk to her about them now. I’d like to tell her how I squeezed up my face in thought and reflection in the quiet of my dad’s office the day after she died. I was looking for words, and had no shortage of them – but this kind of writing requires a complicated balance of both depth and brevity. It was not enough to simply acknowledge her passing and our grief in biographical form. I needed to be specific, to name what I had always thought of in a gauzy, vague, and abstract sort of way. I wish I could tell her that the specificity required of me in that moment would become a seed that I have tended now for almost eight years. That when I finally relaxed my squeezed up face and settled on those words something had changed in me. I would tell her that I look for the exquisite in every part of this life – the challenges and the setbacks and the triumphs and the mundane – and the whole of it is so very, very beautiful.