Sunday, January 12, 2014

And So it Goes- Postcard to Russia, '80s Synth Music, Dreams, and Life in the new year

Blue Monday 2014:  Still bleary-eyed and dreading the traffic commute, my eyes were dazzled by the sunrise salutation witnessed this morning.  East greeted West with brilliant rainbow pastel brushstrokes across the sky; a blazing yellow light emerging from the middle.  The light show was incredible, and I was a little worried I might wind up in an accident from ogling this natural masterpiece while at the wheel.  I scratched my head, could I be dreaming, I thought?  And then remembered, 'red sky in the morning, sailor's take warning'....  The rest of the week here in the land of the Mariners, Seattle-WA, would be gloomy, dreary, stormy, rainy, and blue.  Reality bites the dust of the sunrise.

Combatting the rainy Pacific Northwest winter blues is a challenge!  You're never quite prepared for it until it just seeps deep into your skin, bones, and soul.  I tried forcing a smile, exercising, singing, repeating positive mantras, even saying the word 'bubble' out loud (yes, listen here for more explanation) to muster up some happy vibes.  This quote by Roald Dahl sorta worked a bit....
but who'm I kidding?....sometimes I need the real deal sunshine to chase the gloomy rainclouds away!

So needless to say, the week was full of heaviness and some deep introspection.  Welcome to Winter, I guess!

My project to-do list has started to accumulate, and even with all the blue vibes predominating around me, I was able to cross one thing off this weekend.

Last month I made a little stop at Bulldog News up in the U-district for inspiration and gift purchases.  Always impressed with the selection of foreign & indie magazines at this local newsstand/coffee shop, I bought a few magazines as Christmas gifts for folks when the magazine buyer of the shop pointed me in the direction of a new magazine he'd just ordered called Flow.  I bought it, I'm a sucker for new mags, and have been reading an article here and there ever since.

One such article was about an international postcard swapping site called postcrossing.com.  You create an account and start swapping postcards with other account members around the world.  Ah, what fun!  Reminds me of when I was in 7th grade and failed at even reciprocating a penpal relationship with a girl over in the Ukraine.  Call it unrequited airmail.  Twenty plus years later, and with more of an appreciation of airmail correspondence, I was really charmed by the idea of sending letters through the post.  Snail mail.  Maybe it's my mistrust in technology, or my exhaustion of the pace of it, or my love of giving & receiving handmade pieces of humanity......one of my new years resolutions was to create an account on postcrossing and start corresponding across the planet.

My previous blogpost talked about my daily goals, one of them doing something creative each day.  My goal in becoming a member of postcrossing was to create artwork and release it to the world in postcards.  I especially enjoyed the random selection of who my recipients would be and where my artwork would end up.  So this weekend I decided I'd create my first piece of artwork to send.

Inspiration came easy for me....
Blame it on the Bowie!  Maybe he was on my mind because his birthday fell on Blue Wednesday this year...that's January 8th.  And when this iconic image of one of his alter-egos, Alladin Sane, is combined with another one of my loves, Boston Terriers, I come up with something like this:

So back to postcrossing.com to receive a randomly generated penpal recipient.  Send a lovely note with best wishes.  Slide it in the envelope...
and off to Russia it goes!

Excited to send my first postcrossing, I almost skipped down to the post office this afternoon listening to my music on my headphones, smile on face, despite the dreary grey Seattle skies.  As I purchased the stamp and wrote 'par avion' on my envelope addressed to my Russian penpal....ironically, this song came on my mp3 player:


The last phrase of the lyrics whispered in my ears as I left the post office,
.........."Whatever happened to your dreams?"...........
and I walked into the night, while my postcard was bound for Russia.

When I got home, I googled 'Moscow 1980' and found that there was actually an original version.
And the irony deepens....right as we're a month away from the Winter Olympics in Sochi and with the current foreign strife and affairs dominating the world, listening to the intro of the original version song kinda gave me the chills:


The delivery of the lyrics on this version is a bit off and warbly, but still, the last line has followed me:
"Whatever Happened to Your Dreams?"
As I googled the full lyrics of the song, 'Moscow 1980', I was side-tracked by this one video and my question was answered!


Many years ago I had one of the weirdest dreams that I still cannot decipher.  I was in a decrepit urban part of my hometown of Cincinnati, OH, at an abandoned Clark Gas Station.  There was a crowd of people in the concrete parking lot, gathered in a circle, watching with glee and excitement.  As I approached the crowd and made my way to the middle, all eyes were on Jerry Seinfeld, who was dressed like a current b-boy in white tank top, baggy jeans, and tattoo.  I was quite mesmerized by Mr Seinfeld's rendition of the Russian Cossack dance and immediately fell in love.

And now, I think I've come full circle!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Time will Tell: 2013 Round Up & 2014 Look Ahead



5-4-3-2-1-Poof! Pop the bubbly, sprinkle the confetti, and sound the noisemakers.... It's 2014!  My perception of time seems to speed up a bit more as every year passes by.  The last quarter of the year always feels like a flash in the pan.  October, November, and December are here today and gone tomorrow!  I'm busy tying up loose ends on projects, furiously making & sending my Christmas cards, burning the midnight oil at the sewing machine pumping out handmade gifts, and packing/unpacking as I board planes, trains, and automobiles to visit loved ones around this time of year!  With all this excitement and chaos, I always neglect my blog.  So, here's a wrap-up on how I ended 2013 and how I plan to live out 2014.

Let's start with Halloween 2013.  I didn't have any plans to make a costume this year...just didn't have any reason, which is highly uncharacteristic behavior for me.  I'm a costume queen.  If I'd have my way, I'd carry out every day of my life on earth flaunting around in ornate, ridiculous, and hilarious costumes.  So, with just 2 days before 10-31, I whipped up this little number below inspired by Dia De Muertos/ Sugar Skulls.

I bought a black t-shirt dress from American Apparel and hand painted a neon pink skeleton on it. For the sugar skull mask, I found a blank gesso'd mask from  A&C art supplies and painted it with a psychedelic butterfly design.  Finishing touches were hot-glued rhinestones, pink glitter, and poofy faux peonies in my hair...and ta-da!


Not long after Halloween came and went, a quilt that I'd been making for my bestie, Mere, came back from the quilter.  Meredith, who moved to The Netherlands years ago to marry her Dutch soulmate, just bought a house this past summer.  This was my cue to make her a masterpiece to decorate her new abode, cherish, and of course, serve as a memory of our friendship.  I began making the quilt in September, buying fabric from the wholesale company that I work for, Clothworks.  I decided on a bright color palette, anchored by dark charcoal grey, and started sketching simple modern designs on graph paper.  After sketching a design and making the calculations for the blocks, I started piecing.  As I began piecing, I didn't like the design direction in which the quilt was headed.  Too simple.  It reminded me of two giant eyes...so I played a little bit with the current design, cutting up the graph paper sketch and re-positioning it to create something completely different and was able to save the work I had started with the piecing.  I was really pleased with the quilt top once I completed it!!
Once the quilt top and bottom were pieced, I passed it off to a fantastic long-arm quilter, Leslie of Eat,Sleep,Quilt, and waited for a few weeks.  Boy was I surprised when Leslie returned with my quilt!  The detail and design that she put into the quilting was way beyond my expectations!!  I fell in love with my creation even more...I really didn't want to give it away.  But then I wouldn't have something amazing to give to Mere.  So I finished binding the edges, added an applique of a flying pig patch (my tag, an inside joke between Mere and me), and snapped a few pics of it before it was shipped off to Mere.  Three weeks later, and on Christmas Eve to boot, Mere received my package in the mail and I'm happy to report that I surprised the socks off of her!  Yay!

And then before I knew it, I was on a plane headed back home to Cincy-OH for Thanksgiving!  Nice to spend time with family, friends, and see how much the city has changed since I've last visited.  I've gotta say, I'm impressed with those changes.  Below were some highlights of my Cincy romp-  from left to right:  Northside (a very cool Cincy hood), Queen City Cookies (adorable indie cookie/cake shop), and the beautiful old facades of Covington, KY (charming little borough across the Ohio River from Cincy).

Thanksgiving fell so late on the calendar in 2013....once I returned back to Seattle, I hit the ground running with the holiday preparations.  Tacky decorations, glitter, tinsel, beads, and colored lights helped get me in the mood.  I even sketched and made my own Christmas cards this year!

And then I got to work on a project for my Mom.  She requested a neoprene bag to fit her iPad mini, much like the ones that are made by BuiltNY for iPads.  Since BuiltNY doesn't have an iPad mini sized bag (they have a sleeve), it was my sewing skills that came to the rescue to stitch up this creation for my mom- with zipper closure and inner pockets, too!

And then Christmas was here, family flew in, and we headed out to Hood River, Oregon for a few days to get away, relax, cook, and eat.  Doesn't the Columbia River inspire you in this panoramic pic I snapped below?

Back from Oregon, we did some sightseeing around Seattle- a trip on the Great Wheel to gain a birds eye vantage of Seattle, and then a little side trip up to Kerry Park in Queen Anne to witness a rapid fog rolling in at sunset!

As I reflect on 2013, it was a year of many achievements and great moments of creativity.  Looking ahead for 2014, I want to instill the following into my daily living:  Wellness, Activity, and Creativity.  I call it 'Livin' WAC'.  Each day, I'm making it my goal to do the following:
1)  Live well-  which means eating healthfully and moderately and treating myself well.
2)  Live actively-  which means making it a point to be active- whether it's a short 20 minute jog or a long 1.5 hour walk, or even dancing around my apartment- just getting the body moving!
3)  Live creatively-  which means to create at least once during the day- sketching, sewing, cooking, whatever it might be- it's a way for me to be held accountable in continuing my creative pursuits.

So far, so good!  I've sketched and made a few greeting cards in the first few days of 2014:

And harkened in the new year with a yummy pot of Cuban Black Beans and Rice in my newest kitchen accessory- a cast iron dutch oven!

As 2014 continues, I plan to get back in the groove , continue to document my creative pursuits, and live a positively prosperous year!  Peace, ya'll.....