I know I’m often guilty of playing the “cute” card in these posts. But last weekend something happened that stretches the limits of the word. Alden’s friend Iris came over for the day, visiting from Baltimore, and brought her dad Christian along. All of us decided to take a walk to the post office, and along the way, Alden and Iris decided to make their friendship public, to the utter delight of their camera-toting parents.
This visit was the first time that they’ve ever really played together, as opposed to playing next to one another.
Together, they loaded blocks and small stuffed monkeys into the trunk of Alden’s plastic car.
Together, they stacked blocks on the block-stacking thingy.
Together, they shared private secrets and grinned conspiratorially about them.
Iris even let Alden try on her sunglasses.
Their BFF status was forever cemented when they shared a moment of horror (or was it awe?)…
…when Christian decided to try them on as well.
Christian and I might already be too uncool for our daughters to stomach, but we can take heart in knowing that at least they have each other.
It’s hard to believe, that so recently they were doing this.
Click here for more photos of the bosom friends in their early years.
As the first flakes of snow fall here in Chestertown, I am preparing for the yearly trek to Philadelphia to help my parents with their booth at the Philadelphia Flower Show. As a “freelance artist”, I have the “luxury” to spend some of my “time” scraping together “money” doing various things like standing on a stepstool in a cramped booth for two weeks hawking family wares. I suppose the occasional 7-11 (that’s am to pm, of course) is better than the regular 9-5, though (or so I’ve led myself to believe). As you can see, it makes me giddy with delight.
For those of you not in the know, the Philadelphia Flower Show is the largest indoor flower/garden event in the United States (and, apparently, one of the top 100 events in North America in 2010, according to the American Bus Association) (evidently, those bus people know their events). Each year there is a theme around which arrangements are made, small-scale buildings are built, indoor gardens are planted, and contests are put forth. This year the theme is “Passport to the World” – which is pretty much like having the theme “Anything Under the Sun”. I’m sure it will be spectacular regardless.
The best part about the Flower Show is the weeks preceding it, when the gallery downstairs (read: the entrance to our barn) looks something like this:
and then this:
Meaning it’s even more of a treacherous maze to get into our home than usual. I always say, things have to look worse before they look better, and it is very true in this case. This year I am happily missing out on the part where we assemble the booth in the frigid and dusty convention center for two fun-packed 12-hour days.
I used the ever-helpful excuse, “But dude, I just had a baby!” Which actually isn’t the real excuse. The real excuse is that the baby I just had pretty much has to travel with me, strapped to me, if I’m going to go anywhere. Moving boxes full of pottery and lead (yes! we sell lead! lead, as in the element Pb (thanks, wikipedia!)!) is just plain hard to do with a baby strapped to your chest. So, I have been excused. But hopefully the carefully labeled boxes are getting unpacked (for those of you not in the know, Seiko labeled this one, and is, incidentally, Japanese):
and the booth is coming together into the buying extravaganza that is this:
I will go up tomorrow with Kato strapped to my chest, and we will man the deadliest part of the booth, the part where we sell the little lead pieces with brass nails sticking out of them (called “kenzan” or “mountain of swords” in Japanese). Kato just needs to learn from the start that we aren’t a bunch of pantywaists in this family. Even Alden pitched in at the ripe old age of 11 months:
So for those of you who are dying to see a little spring, head on up to Philly and soak your senses in the likes of this:
but, obviously, with a more Passport-y to the World-y sort of theme. And while you’re up there, make sure to stop by this shop, right behind the convention center, for pretty much anything that you can’t find at the Flower Show:
To our surprise, Alden has adjusted quickly and well to Kato’s permanent arrival. We worried that she might be jealous or threatened, but in general she seems to regard him with a kind of nonchalance, punctuated with occasional bursts of intense affection. In addition to ignoring him, she enjoys kissing his head, bouncing his bouncy chair, and saying “Sawwy, Buddy,” when he cries.
The other day, however, she saw me feeding Kato and decided she wanted to help.
She took her work very seriously at first, wanting to make sure she was doing it right.
But once she got the hang of it, she relaxed a little. It is deeply gratifying to feed a baby.
So – for all you folks out there who have been on the edges of your seats waiting for updates about the Makers Tiles, I am here to do your bidding. For the rest of you, Matthew will be posting about babies and dogs and bunnies tomorrow, so you can come back then.
We recently received proofs of the trimmed tiles in the mail.
Matthew cannot be charged with this kind of responsibility. As CEO of this organization, I thought it necessary to appoint a supervisor to spearhead the proof acceptance project. My usual trusted aide had unfortunately been assigned other duties for the day.
And so, for lack of better options, I had to appoint the new guy.
It seemed that right from the start, he took his job very seriously. He obviously saw that this was a real opportunity to climb the company ladder. While Matthew dilly-dallied opening up the package, you could see his new supervisor seething with impatience.
“Quit your ham-handlin’ and show me those cards! We don’t have all day!” he finally cried. Matthew complied, trying to keep positive in his newfound position at the bottom of the corporate totem pole.
“Yes, yes, ah, yes,” said the new supervisor, supervising to the fullest extent of his capacities.
“Now, give them to me, so I can take all of the credit for your hard work,” he said, taking the final leap into successful coporate management.
He’ll be running Goldman Sachs in no time.
The proof cards turned out to be slightly jiggered, so we’ve been told that the very best production person will be on press in Hong Kong to make sure that our cards are properly printed and trimmed. Please, everyone, keep your fingers crossed, because if anything is slightly awry, it will totally mess up the whole object of the game. And if you are successful with your fingers-crossing, we might have some entry-level openings for you in our corporation. Just hope that you don’t get assigned to the new guy. He’s a real ball-buster.
If you have ever thought to yourself that it might be fun to throw Robbi and me into a laboratory and poke and prod us with various sensors and probes, here is your golden opportunity. We have been identified by a nice fellow writing a piece on creative collaboration for a well-known online magazine as subjects for his wonderings. The name of the well-known online magazine and the nice fellow/author of the piece will be left unnamed for the time being.
The plan, as this fellow sees it, is to subject us to a number of evaluations that run the gamut from downright scientific to downright whimsical, all in an effort to get at the question of what makes a creative pair tick. What is it that happens when two minds come together and try to create? Perhaps you know the answer already. The nice fellow writing the article does not. And so he aims to thoroughly investigate us.
Robbi and I have already undergone a number of evaluations, including some psychological surveys, a visit to the barn by a Feng Shui master, and an examination of our written correspondence by a psychologist. We are in the process of creating drawings of our ideal work space, creating a dictionary of our private language (I hadn’t even realized that we had a private language), and are anticipating a trip to an actual laboratory, in which we will be hooked up with sensors and electrodes, which will evaluate our unconscious biorhythmic utterances. I kid you not. The very depth of our beings is being summarily plumbed. And yet the nice fellow will not be content until he has examined our collaboration in each and every manner imaginable.
Here is where you come in. We have been asked (by the nice fellow, writing on behalf of the unnamed, yet well-known online magazine) to turn to you, faithful readers, for ideas for yet more ways in which our collaboration might be measured, analyzed, tested, or scrutinized.
So put on your lab coats and take out your test tubes. Dig deep and see what you can come up with. No idea will be unconsidered. Consider the floor open. We can’t wait to hear your ideas.
And neither can the nice fellow.
Please note: As an added incentive, we will be sending the illustration at the top of this post as a prize to whichever of you is determined to have supplied the best idea (according to the nice man who is writing the article for the not-yet-named but terribly impressive online magazine).
In spite of what you might be thinking, I am not engaged in a personal reclamation exercise. While I do occasionally have to affirm my own self regard, at this moment I am sharing the exciting news that I have successfully persuaded Robbi to draw another sickeningly cute animal. Hooray!
I admire Robbi’s ability to make 8 tons of wrinkles look endearing, but I think she’s done it. So please, join your fellow readers in shedding all financial inhibition in pursuit of this larger-than-life illustration.
Generally speaking, I’m not the giddy type. I famously greeted my firstborn child with a “Well, hello there” in a sort of casual, off-hand way, as if I were passing her in the hallway on my way to lunch. My teen idols were usually safely dead (James Dean, Elvis) or moody broody pre-emo alt-rockers who would definitely think that giddiness was so uncool. There is, however, a certain gentleman who makes me giddy just hearing his voice.
For those of you not in the know, Ira Glass is the host of This American Life – an exceptional show on public radio that reveals our humanity through stories based around a different theme each week (there’s now a TV version of it on Showtime, which I haven’t actually seen, since I don’t get Showtime). If you haven’t already heard of/listened to This American Life, you must. It makes me laugh and makes me cry and I listen to it as I sit at my desk drawing and painting. And laughing and crying. And Ira Glass is the genius behind it all.
At any rate, a few months back, Mr. Glass was in Baltimore giving a talk about the show, and I became a member of my local NPR station just so that I could get tickets before they were available to the general public. Which, I guess, is kind of shameful, since I should have been a member already just because, but the whole Ira thing got me all fired up, which was probably all part of the plan (those sneaky fund-raising drives!). So, we went to the talk, and it was fascinating. The talk itself felt very much like the show – music cuing in to emphasize a point or create a transition, tidbits of studio recordings, friendly banter from Mr. Glass. The curious thing about it, though, was that there, sitting in the auditorium, you could see all of it happening: the leaning into and away from the microphone, the pressing of the buttons on the recordings, the shuffling around of papers and discs and equipment, and how it all came out seamlessly. It was a very different experience from just hearing it on the radio – it was like seeing the Great Oz behind his curtain, in a way. So anyway, the question and answer session came around, and for some completely unknown reason, I raised my hand to ask a question that I hadn’t quite formulated in my mind (this is, by the way, always a bad move). My question was sort of about the mechanics of the show, and how it all seems very casual as you hear it, but is clearly very carefully orchestrated to have the strongest emotional impact. But somehow in getting around to formulate that question (and, perhaps I can blame my giddiness for this) I actually asked Ira Glass if he felt like a puppetmaster. Like he was manipulating all of us. I even made a ridiculous hand gesture like I was a marionettist or something. Well, he was pretty graceful about his answer, but clearly didn’t like being called manipulative. I was horrified.
I promptly came home and wrote a long apology, which I sent off to the This American Life headquarters with a handful of our books. I explained how I listen to the show all the time while I’m working, how I contribute to Chicago Public Radio just because of the show, and how even though I called him a puppetmaster, I didn’t really mean it. Pretty soon afterwards, I got a very nice email from the show’s producer, who said she had forwarded the packet on to Mr. Glass.
Well, yesterday, I got this in the mail:
Redemption! Hooray! Ira Glass doesn’t think I’m a total ass! Or, if he does, he doesn’t actually say it! AND – he called our books “perfect little human objects”! Joy! I return to being giddy, instead of searingly ashamed. Plus, I have a piece of paper with his actual handwriting on it. I mean, fandom doesn’t get any better than this.
But as I bask in my renewed giddiness, I also realize that there’s another impish gentlemen in glasses who makes me giddy. And a little girl in a funny hat. And a brand new bundled baby.
Sometimes it’s okay not to be too cool for school. Some things really deserve giddy.
Lately, Alden has been interested in numbers. We practice while she’s getting dressed: “One foot. Two feet.” We count grapes as they are eaten, steps as they are taken, blocks as they are stacked on top of one another.
Or wooden balls as they are forcefully pounded. As shown:
She has been known to make it all the way to seven, though sometimes when a girl is excited, it’s tempting to skip straight from three to ten. There is time yet to work out the kinks on the counting front. And to learn the proper way to use a hammer.
Reader, we are on to you. Robbi has been auctioning original artwork for 11 weeks now, and we are beginning to understand what you’re really interested in. While the stunning, inventive, and admittedly strange “Going to Seed” sold for less than $20,
the playful, straightforward, and admittedly cute “Don’t Land on Me” fetched a whopping $150.
In general, bidders have been pleased by images featuring animals (be they giraffes, penguins, herons, or skiing zombie bunnies), and less keen on those featuring people (be they Elvis impersonators, men on motorcycles, or women with weeds growing out of their shoulders). Shrewd businessman that I am, I counseled Robbi to draw another cute animal for this week’s auction—perhaps something irresistible like a hamster or a baby ginger monkey.
For those of you who don’t know Robbi, she is a stubborn, willful thing—defiant, churlish, and almost hostile to reason. She drew a very cute picture of a furry woodland animal and then tore it up to spite me. She drew another and then crumpled it into a little ball, which she then burned.
And then she drew this, a lovely scene of a solitary cabin on a distant hill, a place I dream of spending empty afternoons.
But true to form, fickle reader, you show no interest in these works of integrity.
If I have my way, next week’s auction will feature an animal of such sickening cuteness that you will be compelled to empty your bank accounts or participate in a tag-team cage fight in order to obtain it. For now, you may join my sister Andy and the ever-faithful chronos3667 (thank you, ever-faithful chronos3667) in the slightly less epic battle for House on a Hill. At the moment, it can be yours for $6.00.
Living cloistered here in the barn, I actually don’t get much exposure to anything hip, trendy or happenin’ in the outside world that doesn’t come through the mail in the form of the New Yorker or the Restoration Hardware catalog. And though I would like to be one of those people who finds time to read all my subscriptions and learn about the latest goings on in SoHo or wherever things are happening on the art scene these days (ahem, is it even New York??) I am not. I can barely find time to cut my fingernails (mental note: cut fingernails). Luckily, a trendy hipster has married into the family, and gives me good reads and cool art books at Christmas. But beyond that, he is a bona fide artiste himself. King works out of Brooklyn but is currently on sabbatical in Amsterdam (not bad, that). He started out doing photography, and I have been the happy recipient of a number of his street photos – I love how he manages to capture what seem like very personal moments while walking us right through the middle of the picture. He makes me feel like I’m looking at everything out of the corners of my eyes, trying to be inconspicuous-like.
King has since changed his focus to painting – super large scale canvases and structures that are just impossible to capture online. But here are a few of them anyway:
He has recently been interviewed for an arts blog. Monsieur Clark writes about it all more intelligently than I could, so please check it out. And, if you have a chance, have a look at the process images of King’s latest work in Amsterdam on his website. Very cool stuff, especially if you like getting messy with motor oil/not giving a crap when it snows on your masterpiece.
At any rate, I am totally envious of King because he is one of those artists who just must do art all the time. I’m kind of a fair-weather-artist, really, and I always need to have some sort of project in order to get myself going (thus, books by subscription). The blank canvas is really one of the most intimidating things I know (scary floating clowns aside).