Patti Edmon Altered Attic: February 2009

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Happy Birthday Woody, or, Why I'm Glad I'm Presbyterian

Today is Woody's Birthday. The Rev. Dr. Woody L. Berry is my pastor, mentor, counselor, collaborator on matters relating to art, life, the journey... and best of all, my friend. 
If I hadn't wandered in to Maxwell Street Presbyterian 3-1/2 years ago, I wouldn't know Woody and that's not a scenario I like to consider. I wasn't a Presbyterian then but after my second visit I knew I'd found home. It has been a relatively short distance from visitor to member, deacon, active  membership committee participant, house writer. My frequent conversations with Woody are light posts marking the distance between the stretches that are at times, dark, reflective, sometimes lonely but always filled with meaning. He has this way, that continues to amaze me, of taking a concept that seems difficult, convoluted, maddening, and untangling it into a framework that is so easy to grasp that I can't imagine how I didn't see it in the first place. He's one of the smartest people I know and has done some of the coolest things - like gotten a phone call from his Houston pal, who happened to be in space at the time. But you'd never imagine his many accomplishments, all couched in a humility that is enviable.
Disclaimer: On the subject of humility, its also important for me to acknowledge that, while I am singing praises, I do understand the difference between fact and opinion! I respect your beliefs, practices and/or spiritual journey, whatever they may be. 
I'm no biblical scholar but I've learned more about the teachings of Jesus by belonging at Maxwell Street than all my former years in Sunday School. We practice inclusion, embrace diversity, encourage thoughtful examination of scripture and evangelize by doing. We have more mission projects than I could begin to describe in this space. And we start our Easter celebration by eating pancakes on Fat Tuesday.
I have grown to love Lent, a season of inward examination, when we are encouraged to fast on judgment and feast on compassion; fast on fear and feast on challenge; fast on pride and feast on courage. Though Ash Wednesday has come and gone, we are still in the beginning of Lent, a season of preparation for new life; the next step of the journey with chronic illness, toward wholeness, forgiveness and eternal peace.
Happy Lent and Happy Birthday to Woody - my pal, my champion and my hero!

Hop, Hop, Hop, Giveaway Alert!

Cruising around blogland is one of the most rewarding, fun ways to spend an icy-rainy afternoon! I've visited regulars and found some amazing new sites. After checking in with Jodi on Sweet Repeats I hopped over to see Nancy Lefko's moving new piece; while there I saw the 'house project'  the Metsy team's benefit for those devastated by the fires in Australia. 
On Artsnark's blog, along with a poignant piece of art, I saw more houses, noticed they were done by a fabulous mixed media artist who loves right here in the same town - can't believe I've never met her. So, naturally, I visited her blog, P is for Paper and left a comment there too. She's included a tutorial along with photos of her contribution to the Victorian Brush Fire Appeal shop on Etsy, which will be open through March.
My friend Karin posts daily journal entries, each one looks like it couldn't possibly have been done in a day; she has been a great pal and encouraged me to get involved in the Art House Coop, a group responsible for creating massive art projects that connect artists across the country. I've signed on for the Five Canvas project, which, after being on display at Atlanta airport, will be condensed and published in a book. How cool is that!?
I'm not sure exactly how I ended up on the Farm Chicks blog, but certainly am glad I did! I grabbed the photo at the top of this post from their site and left comment #89 (!) and they aren't even revealing the prize! After spending a few minutes there I decided I definitely want to be a Farm Chick:
...a girl who sees the world through rose-colored glasses. She loves her family. She laughs a lot. She's farmgirl meets Fifth Avenue. And with a little junk she'll change the world.
Definitely my kind of woman! Hop on over and see for yourself!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Creativity, the Mystery of Muse

Thanks to Lani for sharing this amazing take on the muse, the daemon that visited ancient Greeks on their quested for creative enlightenment. Or not. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, One Woman's Search for Everything... across Italy, India and Indonesia, examines her skyrocket journey to unexpected publishing success - over 5 million copies in print, NYT best seller list, etc. etc. and whether or not that is a good thing, a frightening thing or just frightening. 
That most of us have a smidge of fear, whether of failure or success is a given; but on her site (click on the book/link) the 10 most asked questions of the award-winning fiction writer mention of fear only in the context of traveling alone safely and then, returning to the daily grind after such an amazing journey. People want to know where she found the pizza in Italy and how they might meet the healer, the medicine man, find the Ashram. Nothing about whether her heart clenches as she tightens up the final draft of her 'next' book. The one that comes next, which will be referred to, as she wryly ponders the fate of every future book as 'the one that comes after.'   Spoiler Alert: Gilbert acknowledges the reality that her life's greatest accomplishment may well be behind her. What then? Well, you'll just have to watch and find out.
While you're browsing, visit Lani the Puppetmaker on her incredible blog, where treasures, delights and happiness - salve for fear or just a plain old bad mood can be found on a regular basis.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Peace Angel Altered Tin

This Peace Angel is for a winter wonderland-themed altered tin swap, still apropos considering the cold front that is approaching Kentucky. And it's only 30 degrees! Fortunately the altered attic is very well insulated and being on the third floor, stays toasty warm.  

I may be a couple of months late  but fortunately my swap pal and I use the same calendar! Wonder if she has started on mine... I love altering tins and this time I wanted to try something new, so I made a cutout with my trusty dremel, and twisted the edges back for an uneven, yet, rustic look. It was also a good reason to heat up the beeswax, mmmm, love that smell and the way found objects, lace even, can be repositioned with a blast of the heat gun.

Angels abound at Christmas but like Spruce trees, adorn our lives all year long. A gold halo and wings? How else would they fly... Love the little german glass doll that I snatched up at Kristin's Retro Art Cafe, along with an assortment of heads and other body parts. The 'Peace' charm on the front was part of a necklace at some point in time, and we don't we all hope and/or pray daily for that?! I guess I am finding all the reasons why being late is better than being never and that the thought truly is what counts. I also doubt I'll enter any swaps after October again, considering the difficulty I have coordinating my list with my energy level!

Friday, February 20, 2009

For all Chronic Babes out there...

There's a site for those of us with Chronic Illnesses. Invisible ones that is - the kind that alter your life and then add the mockery of no telltale evidence to explain why the handicap tag swings from the rearview. The latest post is on fibro, which, being relatively new in its discovery/diagnosis cycle, is often called into question by a segment of the medical community. I'm glad I don't have that one. More than one of my closest friends do though, one of whom has no other auto-immune disorders to cushion her from the harshness of the blank stares she's often met with when she 'crashes.' 
We all have our own lingo for hitting the brick wall, that moment when the flu symptoms hammer down and there's only one option - bed. I've been at this a while and I've practiced my pacing - most days that doesn't happen until six or seven in the evening. But the flurry of activity on the barometer damns most of my best efforts and I've had a few zingers lately. No pity parties here though; since I've taken the visual journaling workshop I've discovered a more portable art and even though I can't focus my vision, at all, I can do a bit of shading and 'doodling' albeit at a slow pace.
If you're one of us, the sisterhood of artists who also share chronic illness, take a look at their site. Lots of good stuff! Have a brick-free day!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

sweet tweet

I've been watching Random Notes daily for my Sweet Tweet journal entry, which I mailed at the last possible moment. It popped up, for sure, in my mailbox yesterday - the label fell off!! I had spent almost as much time on the envelope as the page so the postal carrier took pity on me and brought it back for an address.

I used this quote on one of the pages I made for the visual journaling workshop I recently completed (over but not abandoned!). And, since the theme was birds and sweet, I thought it fit rather nicely. I think we are all tempted to let a pesty nest start tangling in the do, now and again anyway. My favorite ways to disassemble the sorrow roost in whatever stage I manage to catch it, are making art, wandering through blogland and keeping in touch with people who use their time and talents to create projects like the journal this page will hopefully end up in - if it gets there in time.

Jane at Random Arts is one of my all-time favorites... pal, artist, shop owner, blogger... she has the kind of light that shines just when a dark moment threatens. I noticed, by the way, that she's hosting Michael deMeng again this year for a workshop that promises to be as breathtaking as last years' Morpheus Box/assemblage class I was lucky enough to attend. Oh, still my beating heart!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Valentine's Day Treat

I've enjoyed chatting with friends who were kind enough to share their true Valentine's Day sentiments - the hoopla, extravaganza - romantic and thrilling,  for some. Me? I stood at the door, waving. My daughter and her buds helped chaperone a ballet babysitting fundraiser/party; my husband took my son to a concert deemed by the music critic as ideal for those inclined to wear their heart - and/or spleen on their valentine sleeve, music befitting the original ancient Roman Lupercalia festival, a raucous affair involving goat-skin whips and fertility chants. Ahem.
I ate red licorice and watched Sweet Home Alabama. Again. I love when Reese Witherspoon decks Candice Bergen. Anyway, about 30 minutes in, unable to prop open my eyes, I went to bed with a good book and promptly fell asleep.
But I was honored!  I felt loved! My daughter made a poster-sized card wishing me a Happy Day and my son made me a Rice Krispie... treat. (I tinted it pink for visibility of the detail). Did he use a recipe? Heck no, in the spirit of a true creative, he poured, heated and stirred until it met with his satisfaction. And then we adorned it with Christmas sprinkles. My wonderful husband bought me a Moleskin sketch book and a watercolor pad, such treats for the artistic sweet tooth.
Then, last night, we wound up at a restaurant, my son and I played football with a straw wrapper, my daughter rolled her eyes while I picked apart the plot of the movie we'd seen (Confessions of a Shopaholic) my husband debated the dessert offerings... He and I noted what a genuinely pleasant time we were having - who cares that it was a routine Monday night? I'll take them whenever they fall into my lap.
However you celebrated I hope your weekend - and the coming days - are sweet and satisfying!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

ahhhh, another reminder of Valentine's Day. Romance, the scent of roses in the air mingled with chocolate and sliders? That's right, you can, if you have a reservation, enjoy a candle-lit dinner with table service at White Castle. 49-cent sliders served on a silver (OK, maybe it's plastic) platter. I haven't been to the WC in decades though I do have some fairly extravagant memories of Valentine's Days past. 
Like the year I decorated my (then) boyfriend's car, bumper to bumper with shaving cream, streamers and balloons, then made sure his coworkers were watching after the receptionist rang up to tell him he'd left his lights on. Rather than being embarrassed, he drove through town honking back at other drivers, even making a drive-through run at the bank. Fast forward twenty-two years and, since I asked him to make cards for the kids, I'll probably get one too. Jim is an illustrator after all, with his own line of greeting cards at Oatmeal Studios. That's not to say he isn't sentimental, but it is, admittedly, a commercial holiday. 
I walked into the grocery the other day and it could have been a television set for a cupid-themed sitcom. Enormous bouquets of pink and red balloons billowed in clusters across the entryway, reminders plastered on every aisle from  heart-healthy vegetables to deli, stacks of heart-shaped cookies boxed in the bakery and then, of course the aisle they reserve for the candy of the season. 
One need only glance at the papers or television ads to be bombarded with multitude of celebration possibilities - packages for lovers, special prices on dinners, diamonds, roses, chocolates, a night away from the kids. I'd been feeling a bit ambivalent and decided to query some friends for their thoughts on the event, a diverse group including newlyweds and long-time weds, writers, attorneys, bankers, pastors, creatives and moms and singles.
One of my guy pals who lives in a nearby, albeit tiny town, recalled the year the mayor (who also owned a floral shop) changed the date of Valentine's Day to the 23rd because of the snowstorm that made the streets impassable on the 14th. One of my friends was served waffles in bed this morning by her daughter. My daughter's ballet academy is offering a fun night for kids to raise money for costumes. One of my favorite observances has been One World One Heart, a internet event linking hundreds of bloggers with fellow artists through blog visits and comments that are generating art giveaways to randomly chosen entrants.
Aside from a friend who would only say, not applicable, most of us observe the day, whether guilt induced or a genuine occasion to celebrate their love for family and friends. If we can all manage to be in the same room at the same time today, we'll have a typically spontaneous blitz. Not that we aren't romantic... honestly, I know that my husband loves me. I know enough about being around myself to realize that he would be seriously demented otherwise. Like most, we don't rely on a cold day in February to profess our undying love. We demonstrate it in varying degrees of subtlety on a daily basis: a kiss on the way out the door, a sigh and slump-like embrace after a particularly difficult evening with two middle-schoolers, the battles and trauma of homework and dishes and chores and making sure the dog has been let out one last time. 
There was the year, not long after we were married, when I woke up to find our tiny house papered floor to ceiling in paper hearts that he'd spent weeks cutting out. And it wasn't even Valentine's Day. The past several years I've mostly thought about the kids. I made cards yesterday and thought about them as I glued and dusted glitter and embossed. Neither has romantic entanglements. Yet. No drama, hurt feelings, broken hearts... yet. I thought, with a swift pang, how much more painful it will be to witness their coming years than it was to live through my own, as they begin to endure and suffer the wonder and loss, the fleeting, brilliant light of a new crush followed by the dull thud of the broken heart, or the guilt of realizing that the person who, moments ago seemed so hot, so perfect, really is right for someone, anyone else.
Who can think about love without also thinking about heartache. It's a wonder mine survived, though it's had twenty-two fortunate years to recover. My own kids break my heart regularly, as they grow increasingly independent, impossible without a little rebellion and eye rolling, of course. Hard to think that it's what we've been working toward since we gathered at the kitchen table,their cheeks smeared with frosting, red and pink sprinkles. 
Most of my friends associate Valentine's Day with childhood, their own or the surprises they plan for their own kids. Many of the comments were poignant, flip and downright funny, if not a little surprising. My gal pals recalled times with their mothers, making treats, signing little cards for classmates and making 'mail boxes.' One spent several years mystified by the one anonymous secret valentine that turned out to be her mother, though she never figured out how she managed to sneak the treat into her bag at school. I remember it maybe being the one card I got all year long actually signed by my father. Others remember the chocolates, some long married still question whether they are adequate in the love department. There are wedding anniversaries celebrated today, romantic and family dinners planned and even the most pragmatic (a comment about ill-fitting lingerie) confess to a touch of sentimentality, acknowledging the day with a card or kiss, maybe even dinner out.
Some surprised me with the level of importance still assigned to the holiday after years of finding and losing love, infused with pain and the fresh glow of infatuation, the separate paths taken by friends, illness, the aging and passing of parents, kids who are getting old enough to expand their love beyond doting parents. So, I came to the conclusion that, yes, it's like every other day, but why not take any available opportunity to celebrate the love that radiates resplendently from our patched-up, many-times over mended hearts. 

Monday, February 2, 2009

Another Journal Page

I did this page the other day. It was the end of a long day spent iced in and I was really tired, and in a hurry. But so far, it's my favorite, though I haven't ventured very far from the yellow/gold base color that I've used on most all the pages.

There doesn't seem to be any way to predict this process, whether the images will be cohesive, if I'll like the way the pages look... I suppose that is the real beauty of doing this in the first place. To loosen up and let go, freedom from the over-thinking that rules most every area of my life.

So, now it's time to start the actual journaling part - writing on these pages? They seem sacrosanct, like doing a collage and then writing all over it. Obviously, after having struggled through this entire reverse process, I still have miles to go. Being a writer, this should be the easiest part. We'll see.


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