Friday, July 29, 2011

Talents and More Talents


We all have them. Sometimes we call them gifts because we are surprised by them - just as if we were handed a box, not knowing what was inside, and carefully unwrapped the colorful paper to discover something exciting, and that something is us! 


photo by Sid McNulty


Sometimes we see the talents of others before they do and we get to be the one to tell them, "WOW! You're incredible!" The gift is already theirs, but we wrap it up and finish it off with a sparkly bow. Then we feel great! We're excited to see what they do with their talents and know that as long as new people are born on this earth, the talent pool will grow, change, and diversify, and they will be the creators of new books, movies, songs, and inventions that will amaze us! Whew!


One of my favorite things about raising children has been watching their talents emerge and helping them find expression for their gifts. I often marvel that if I had 100 children (same husband) they would all look different, be different, and have different abilities to share with the world. Now multiply that by whatever huge number is your favorite and you have my most optimistic and exciting view of the future talent pool!


A couple of years ago when I first thought about creating a blog, I wanted to showcase the art and talents of my family and friends. Now that I actually have a blog I just use it to brag about my own talents. 


Right? 


Wrong.


Today I want to spread the word about some of the local talent from Durham, California, so I'm showcasing another song written and performed by  All Sixes and Sevens. 




All  Sixes and Sevens,  photo by Sid McNulty
Click below to listen to Flipside.






To read more about this band and hear another song, Foolhardy Son, go here.





Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Blueberries For Sal -- and Ember

2011 has been a great year for our little blueberry patch -- and our little blueberry-loving granddaughter. I was thrilled to get this candid shot of her involved in one of her favorite summer activities. Some of the most beautiful pleasures in life are the simple ones -- like this one -- unplanned and serendipitously (my own word) perfect! 


Ember in the blueberry patch,  July 2011






The toddler
The countryside
The blueberries
The the old fashioned print of her dress....

                                made me think of a treasured book....






In 1949 Robert McCloskey won the Caldecott Honor award for his children's book, Blueberries For Sal. It was very popular in the 1960's and 70's (when I was a little girl), and in the 1980's and 90's when my children were little. This book with it's timeless story and charming block print illustrations has already won the attention of three generations of children. If you haven't read it, find a little person and snuggle up together -- before the blueberries have all ripened




What were the classic picture books of your childhood? 



Monday, July 25, 2011

The Sky Is Everywhere

There are so many ways for something to be amazing, so I won't tell you the book I just finished was amazing. I will tell you the characters are unique and memorable. They remind me of people who walked through my childhood with me. I will tell you the story is funny, heart-wrenching, and beautiful. I will also tell you that reading it opened a floodgate of teenage memories. 


The writing style is unique, and fresh, and every word counts. I want so badly to recommend it to people because:


1.  The author deserves the credit 


2.   Someone else may become as smitten by this book as I was, and I don't want anyone to miss that.


3.   In many ways it's a great writing model for contemporary fiction.


But....I am very particular about the books I recommend, and this one has some questionable content (you know--sex, violence, or cussing) -- just like life.  


So, with that warning, I give you The Sky Is Everywhere.






And thank you, Jandy Nelson, for an unforgettable summer read!


Have you read anything amazing this summer? I figure I can still fit in a few more books, so what do you have for me?



Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lewisia

taking a break from writing to draw -- thought I'd share my doodle with you:

wildflower  found on Table Mountain

Lewisia by Lacie Myers July 2011

not sure if it's complete -- still thinking

any ideas?



Friday, July 15, 2011

Flash Fiction Blogfest Part Two

Today I am doing my first blog hop! (See previous post for details.) Thirty other bloggers are hopping with me! That means I am posting a short piece of fiction here and then visiting the blogs of all the other people joining the fest and reading what they've written. I'm excited to see the variety of ways people responded to the same theme. I feel like I'm a six year old and it's the night before my birthday party. I can't wait to get a flavor for all the new bloggers I'll meet during this exchange of creativity and encouragement. 


Visit the blog links below to read more of the entries.


My piece:


     Fourth of July had come again – Kenny’s favorite holiday. We all gathered on the sloping driveway for fireworks, finding the familiar spot where the cement was level enough.
     
     I  imagined I could see the black marks left from last year’s snakes and the powdery residue from the multi-colored fountains. Kenny had spent hours planning that display. Mom’s voice broke through my thoughts.

     “Before we light the fireworks I have some news to share. The public defender called to say Kenny is coming home next week. He’s done; time served.”

     I heard none of her words after that. The relief began in my chest and moved down to my stomach as nine months of clenching let go. I looked up and saw a streak of silver light shooting into the air, taking my grief with it, transforming it, and sending it to the ground in a shower of gold. 

     As a whistler shot through the silence, I started to laugh. This news meant he was safe and would get another chance. He would be free. Our little show seemed to last for hours, bringing the best message of freedom I had known in my fifteen years. 

     Mom lit the last of the Roman candles and repeaters. The bursts of light came to end, and in the dark, quiet aftermath I found myself hoping Kenny would be strong enough to hang on to his freedom, smart enough to stay out of trouble.

     “We still have sparklers,” Mom reminded us. I lit mine and wrote the word PLEASE in the sky.  



                                                 Lacie Myers July 15, 2011


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Flash Fiction Blogfest

It's time for me to learn something new about blog culture. If you're new to this you can learn with me. Here we go....

flash fiction -- a style of fiction characterized by extreme brevity, or in other words, very short fiction

blogfest -- an online celebration linking bloggers with common interests

blog hop -- moving from one blog to another reading posts and leaving comments of encouragement


This Friday, July 15th, I'll be participating in my first blogfest, hosted by writer Ali Cross. That means three things:

1. I will be writing a piece of fiction (250 words or less) using this theme:

It's Independence Day and something unexpected happens...

2. I will be posting that piece of fiction here for anyone to read. 

3. I will be posting links to other bloggers who are joining the fest so you can easily click on a link and see what they wrote as well. 


There is still time if any of you want to join the fest and write something too! Just click on the link below.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Adventures With Clay Part Two


When I came to ceramics class the week after 4th of July, a great surprise awaited me -- the look of intensity on the face of my usually happy instructor... She took me straight to the kiln to see the damage:



Pooders had partially exploded during firing! I just said, "Oh well. It was a risky project from the beginning. It's really okay. I had a great time making it and learned a lot."

 My instructor assumed responsibility, but I just figured it was the luck of the draw. She later told me that she had rushed the firing and started the kiln before the cat was completely dry inside. She felt terrible, and I became suddenly aware of the unforeseen stresses of being a ceramics instructor. Who knew?


In the words of one of my classmates, "You are bold to attempt a project like this." Honestly it was the challenge that attracted me. I figured, it's just clay. The worst that can happen is it won't work out. But the story isn't over. The new challenge is how to use what is left of Pooders to make a different piece of art. 



The happy part of this accident -- the prettiest parts of the cat are still intact. He still has potential.



Art changes us -- just like novels change us and people change us. My Adventures With Clay have already changed me, and I'm taking what I learned from Pooders (broken or not) with me to the next phase of this adventure -- whatever it is.



What do you think? Should I fill him in with plaster? Play archaeologist and piece him back together? Leave him as is and stain him to look like an ancient, damaged marble statue?


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Adventures With Clay


For the past few weeks I've been playing with clay --  four hours a day, four days a week! You may have noticed I've had less time to sit here and write blog posts. I have three classes left for my AA degree in Art Education, and ceramics is one of them. I hadn't done any ceramics since I was about ten years old and my mom had a little ceramics studio set up in our garage. Mind you, she made lots of cool stuff, but my sisters and I made pinch pots and I don't know what-- because it's all in the garbage now. 

Obviously I saved the ceramics part of my degree for last because I'd rather be drawing or painting, but this class has surprised me. 

Our 1st assignment:
  • Take four hunks of clay (apple size) 
  • Make four quick "sketches" (10 min. each)
  • Subjects for sketches: transportation, food, furniture, and something that represents you
I felt so awkward handling the clay, and wondered briefly how I was going to make it through six weeks of the stuff. Oh, and we were informed that one third of all pieces made by beginners break in the kiln during firing. Goodie! 

Here's what I made:

Go ahead and laugh --especially at my "furniture".  I ran out of time, so I made a quick birdbath -- figured it was bird furniture.
 (They didn't break in the kiln!)






2nd assignment: coil pot
I will use this to hold my long-handled paintbrushes (if it doesn't break in the kiln).




3rd piece: free choice
I will add this to my sun collection hanging outdoors 
 (Hooray! It didn't break in the kiln.) 


After glazing it looks like this:






4th assignment: sculpt a pet
At this point I became very excited! It felt like a true adventure (taking place in a ceramics studio of course) I wanted the cat to be big, so I used the whole bag of clay (about 25 lbs). My instructor showed me how to beat it with a special stick -- hard on the arms, but satisfying and therapeutic.




The cat began to take shape -- I was thrilled! He stands about 15 inches tall. My wimpy muscles got a work out just turning him from side to side to work on him.


Day 2: By now I felt like I could become addicted to sculpting! In the background is the picture I used as inspiration.

 


Day 3: I learned how to cut him him in half, hollow him out, and put him back together. By this stage of the project, many of my classmates were quite attached to this hunk-of-clay-kitty, and someone named him Pooders!


Day 4 : I Finished sculpting the details and got it to stand up! Victory!
The thing that looks like a fifth leg is a temporary clay brace.

Day 5: I laid the cat down and hollowed out his legs. My instructor warned me there would be some collateral damage, but I could fix it -- no problem. Yeah. This part of the project was stressful, but ended a success.

At this point in my Adventures With Clay it
 was 4th of July weekend, and Pooders was left to dry  in preparation for the most risky part of this adventure -- THE KILN !



Any ceramicists and potters out there? Or just people who like to bet? What do you think? Will Pooders survive the kiln?

to be continued............

Friday, July 1, 2011

Life Is A Story






I realized today that I have been writing stories all my life. When I was a kid I wrote stories in my little diary about my family and friends -- true stories.


 When I met my husband, I wrote stories in my journal about the two of us -- true stories.


 When I began having children I was compelled to write the stories I saw unfolding as I watched them learn about the world -- true stories again. 


I wrote to capture the simple and breathtaking events happening around me --things I knew were fleeting -- so I would remember. 


 When I learned to draw and paint, I longed to tell stories with my art --    true stories about beauty, love, sacrifice, and of course adventure.


Stories connect us with humanity -- our own and that of people we will never actually meet. We cannot thrive without them. That's  why we watch so many movies, read  so many books, and spend so much time on Facebook -- to share our lives with each other -- our stories.


So...to my readers: Thanks for sharing little bits of yourselves with me in the emails you send and the comments you leave.  Amid the intense traffic of the internet highway, our stories touch.



 
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