1.16.2012

Living now, later

Perhaps it's a function of almost dying, perhaps it's young wisdom, perhaps it's completely normal, but there are times when I know I'm going to want to remember exactly how this feels.  There have been a few times in my life, routines that I've been in, that I've saved, on purpose, in a vault in my mind.  And I can get them out whenever I want and really feel them again.

I learned about classical conditioning for the first time in high school, but I didn't trust a single thing the teacher said, nor did any of us, when we found out his credentials included one college class in Psychology.  I spent the whole semester devising a pulley system which would dump glue water and then a bucket of feathers on his head.

The next chance I got to learn about classical conditioning, I was paying attention.  I remember all about the dogs and the bells and how it works.  Basically, the guy who devised this had a bunch of hungry dogs.  Before he fed the dogs, he would ring a bell.  The dogs associated the bell with the food, so eventually when the guy rang the bell and then didn't give the dogs food, they drooled anyway.  We're all like the dogs -- hearing a popular song from the eighth grade dance era should send us all reeling back to that time fraught with humiliation and cluelessness.  We're also not like the dogs, because we can decide to do an experiment on ourselves.  Which I do.

Indulging in my reverie, I never photographed the rain drops, but this person did.

When I was interning at a graphic design firm in Z├╝rich in my early twenties, I had premonition that I would want to remember the twenty minute train rides that book-ended my days stuffed with design, tango dancing, strong coffee-drinking, and coming of age.  Frequently it rains in Switzerland because the clouds get stuck between the mountains, so most of the time the windows of the trains were streaked with water droplets scooting down the glass with the rhythm of the rails.  Every time the conditions were like that, I would listen to Peter Gabriel's "I Grieve" through my headphones.  The song was fittingly melancholy, terribly romantic, and beautiful like the gray landscape blurred out of the window.  And lo, whenever I miss having that gift of time in my life, time to chase thoughts, or not think at all, I play the song and am there again.

1.12.2012

Things that come to mind, and the people who come with them :: {Portugese Bread and Garlic Soup}

Christmas tree pick-up was this morning.  We dragged ours out to the curb, and looked up and down the street at the other dejected trees patiently waiting in the January drizzle.  Christmas decorations have all been stowed and the house looks a bit empty, like it's waiting for the spring sunshine to fill the empty corners. 

This is the time of year that I wish I remembered how to knit.  I've learned a bunch of times.  Once when I was very small I managed to complete a set of wrist-warmers.  These might be a Swiss phenomenon, but if you can remember that fingerless gloves still can keep your fingers warm, imagine how hand-less gloves might keep your hands warm.  The point is, they do.  Another time I learned to knit was my freshman year in college, when one of my hall-mate's dad's taught us.  It was January term, which meant we only had to take one class, and it was pass/fail.  We had lots of time on our hands.  In the evenings, we would all gather in one room, listen to Barry White, and knit.  I have absolutely no recollection of what I was even working on.  I doubt any of us do.

My great aunt, who had a story more harrowing than most, was a great knitter.  She knit me an army of pink sweaters when I was little.  I especially liked it when she chose yarn that had sparkles in it.  Throughout her difficult life she managed to maintain a child-like joyfulness, so I wouldn't be surprised if she chose the pink sparkly yarn for her benefit, as well as mine.  She was also a great maker of Schnitzel, and I fondly remember going over to her apartment to eat a huge steaming platter of it, decorated with lemon slices and served with potatoes, bread, and a salad.  After lunch, she would knit while all the grown-ups talked.  She's the only person I think I'll ever meet who actually kept her current knitting project tucked in her bosom.  This fascinated me as a young girl, and it was as good as a magic trick when she would reveal first one arm, then two, then the entirety of a full-sized sweater from her voluminous cleavage.
 
Tante Emmy and Onkel Paul ready for feasting.  Note the amount of Schnitzel she prepared for three people.

She left our family a great legacy -- she was the only one of her siblings who was strong enough to recount the stories from the war, the only one brave enough to face life with perpetual cheer and generosity.  Perhaps one of these Januaries I'll relearn how to knit again, perhaps when my daughter's old enough to do it, too.  Until that happens, I have a big box of pink sweaters, some with sparkles, that I hope Tante Emmy sees my little girl wearing, wherever she is.  They would have had a good time together, those two.


1.05.2012

How to draw with children, for non-majors :: {roasted tomatoes}

In our house, drawing is a team effort.  The grown-ups do the outlines, and Heidi the Toddler colors (read: scribblesveryenthusiastically) inside, outside, and on top of the lines.  It's like an on-demand coloring book.  I used to be the only Outline Draw-er, my theatre-major husband clutching his chest as he exclaimed how he wished he could draw, but alas!, Mama will have to draw the cat.  Again.  It got to the point where I was drawing about 50 cats a day.  Heidi would thrust a crayon in my hand and shout, "MEEEEEOOOOOW!!!!!!" and I would draw a cat for her to scribble upon.  I am incapable of denying her artistic desires.

As it turns out, however, that heart-clutching wish of my husband was easy enough to grant.  I devised a Very Easy way to draw a cat taught him to do it.  And now I will teach you, just in case your 2012 resolutions include drawing more with the children in your life. 

Without further ado....the Very Official Running Snail & Rainbow Way to draw a cat, dog, bunny, owl, and frog (you're more than welcome to right click to download the images, print them out, keep them handy):



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