Monday, December 27, 2010

got tired of feeling guilty for not posting.

I know I've gone almost two months without posting, and feel more guilty with each passing day. 
So here's a partial listing of what I've done.  And I will be honest with you - I have been quite non-creative most days.  Self-forgiveness is necessary and then I step back into it.

1.  I sorted through my surprisingly small fabric stash, gave some of it away to my HS's  drama department, and have a much better idea of what I have left.
2.  I discovered this website:   This organization gives instructions for making little dresses out of pillow cases for young girls in Africa.  Easy as it can be.  Now, it just so happens that one of the very few items I regularly sewed over the past 15 or so years has been  pillow cases.  It's a great way to make a unique yet inexpensive gift - buy a yard of cool fabric and sew it into a pillow case.  I made them for my son and daughter all the time.  My daughter and I went through our stash of pillow cases and sorted them out.  Now she has her favorite pillow cases in the linen closet and I have a small pile of  pillow cases to turn into dresses.

This photo is from the Little Dresses for Africa website.       
I also did a whole bunch of  baking for the holidays, what with gingerbread and all.

Right now, though, it's after midnight, my son is home from college, and I'm going to sign off and go to bed.  With any luck and planning - more tomorrow!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

... went to Fabric Planet and bought some wonderful trim.

It's been making me NUTS that I don't have my sewing machine in order - my tension wasn't working anyways, so I thought I'd take it apart, clean it and put it back together again, right?  Not right.  Oh, SO not right.  I had it almost working at one point, but ruined it by showing it off and the machine just put its stubborn peddle down and refused to cooperate. So I went to Fabric Planet on Lincoln Blvd in Venice to indulge in looking/touching at gorgeous fabrics while suffering that I can't do anything with them.

Or can I?  Please, it sometimes takes me a while to figure out how to prep for the future. (It sometimes takes me a while to figure out anything, but I digress.) I realized that even though I probably won't get my machine fixed until Thanksgiving week, I can pin, cut & baste things.  Oh yeah.

I didn't end up purchasing any fabric, but I did indulge in some wonderful trim.  My latest Fire Mountain bead catalog showed up a couple of days ago, and I saw some necklace fittings that inspired me to look for cord, braid, ribbon,  etc. for potential ornament-holders.  I will post pics as soon as I can...

Here, though is a photo I took last week of my students.  My kids were id'ing different types of galaxies in a Deep Space Hubble Photo, and I became enchanted with how the galaxies danced across their backs as they stood at the board.  I grabbed my phone, which had been thrown in with my (cold) lunch and was fogged up.  I took some pics anyway, and loved the way they came out.
Josh has dancing galaxies on his back.

Rick has galactic mist drifting off his.
We are all made of stardust.

Friday, October 29, 2010

...Took a Well Day off from work.

... and it was lovely.  I slept in a little, read a little - "The Last Knight" by Norman F. Cantor.  I've read his "In the Wake of the Plague," and really enjoyed it, even if it was about how 40 or so percent of Europe died horrible deaths in the 14th century.  What can I say?  He's a fun history writer.  And I am such a sucker for a fun history writer.
John of Gaunt - the last True Knight of medieval England and the subject of Cantor's book.
I am SUCH a geek.

Thomas Cahill is another great history writer.  I used his "Hinges of History" concept to talk about Copernicus with my astronomy kids last week.  We medieval Europeans were happily following Ptolemy's logical - and insanely incorrect - lead on a geocentric solar system until Copernicus went, "Hey, wait a minute..." and science turned to another path.

Ptolemy's Approved Geocentric Solar SystemWRONG

Copernicus' Heliocentric System:  Not quite there yet, but at least it's mostly RIGHT.
At any rate, Cahill wrote one of my favorite books, "How the Irish Saved Civilization."  If you haven't read it quite yet, pick it up and give it a shot.  Entertaining as all get out, too.  Honest, you won't be sorry.

Right now I have such a yearning to paint my nails, something I don't undertake lightly.  My hands must be still for way too long to let the polish dry, and I can't stand chipping.  since we have no spare nickels to rub together and buy me a manicure I must do it myself, and keeping my hands still for more than five minutes is not one of my strengths.

My friend and summer school student Carmen knitted me the most gorgeous scarf, with all my favorite colors.  She gave it to me last week, and I absolutely LOVELOVELOVE it!  Thank you, Carmen!  You are one of the best humans I know.

Monday, October 18, 2010

.. thought about what creativity is.

When my son was a HS freshman I took him and a friend to a retrospective of Frank Gehry's work at MOCA in downtown Los Angeles.  I was in awe especially of the initial building models - they were built of balsa wood, paper cups, Styrofoam plates, corrugated cardboard cut from storage boxes, Saran Wrap, pencils -- anything and everything.  AND they were everywhere, pouring off the walls, flowing down the tables, practically dancing in the halls.  And it struck me while I stood there, dizzy from  it all - creativity is generous. And joyful.  And unselfconscious.

One of Gehry's models.

This is Disney Concert Hall - I think that it was just underway
when we went to the retrospective.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

...made banana bread and colored my hair.

I also graded and recorded a six-inch stack of papers from my classes, and finally cleared out some junk from a shelf in the pantry.  Another week ahead.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

... finished the above-mentioned octopus

I was thinking about what I unconsciously mean by creativity, and I think for ME being creative is visual and kinetic. I need to make something with my hands to call myself creative. (I certainly need to be keeping my hands busy if I want to feel stable.)

I saw a very cool video this morning on on "divergent thinking," as part of an animated lecture on pedagogy:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

... crocheted most of an octopus.

... but finally put it down because I wanted to work on my astronomy PowerPoint.  I admit it -- I love making PowerPoints for my classes.  I work hard on them, try to make them readable - fret over the kind of font and font size, how much on the page, that sort of thing.  I LOVE hunting down just the right image.  I just love when I find a cool yet odd pic -- like the one of Kepler with a California roll in his calipers.  Awesome!

I've asked my students, "What's wrong with this picture?" and to my delight kids GOT it in about 20 seconds. 

So is tweaking a PowerPoint an act of creativity?  Or just another way of procrastinating before grading papers?

I think I'm going to stop declaring my next day's creative exercise.  I feel sort of embarrassed that I don't have that banana bread baked yet.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Finished my skirt! I stitched my very first hand-sewn buttonhole.

It took me a while to get to my creativity project this evening - I just crashed last night after DD had her play practice; I even brought my crochet hook and yarn along.  I just ended staring at my steering wheel as I sat in the parking lot, hoping that I could make it back from Venice, a whole 3 or so miles away, without falling asleep at the wheel. 

Lesson learned? (Cue the South Park boys...) I need a full eight hours of sleep in the night, otherwise my evening hours the next day are useless.

The laundry I was supposed to fold last night had to wait until this evening, but it's all neatly done and put away.  Yay!  Usually I leave it for days. I still have piles of papers to grade.  Not tonight:  I have sleeping to do.

Tomorrow I think I'll NOT throw away the over-ripe bananas in the kitchen, but tomorrow make banana bread.  Is baking a creative act?  I'm assuming that it is, but am I right?  If I'm right, why do I feel strange about declaring it so?

I feel the need to explain my creativity project for this evening.  I am very proud of this wrap skirt - it's from a free internet pattern and fabric that I love, which I've had for years.  It was almost finished, and I was stonewalled by the buttonhole.  My sewing machine was not behaving, and I was dreading the buttonhole process - even with the machine I've always been terrible.  But the buttonhole was needed to pull the sash through for the wrap and at the end of it all:  one more incomplete project to haunt me.  I didn't just sew my first buttonhole; I just broke a lifelong habit - for a day.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Why I think I could be creative -OR- what I do right now that hints of creativity.

1.  I'm a good listener.
2.  I can make a kick-ass PowerPoint for my classes, and they've gotten better as I've practiced.
3.  I taught myself to crochet after a friend showed me how to hook a row of single stitches.  I like to crochet dolls, and pretty much design them as I go.
4.  I write pretty good amateur haiku.
5.  I'm a good story teller, and my students love to hear them.
6.  I'd rather do anything else - even dishes - than watch most TV.
7.  I am awed in the beauty and individuality I seem to stumble across in just about anything.

... baked Zucchini bread.

.... and on Saturday I made five new pairs of earrings and a necklace!

And yes, I am well aware that on my second day of blogging I missed a post.... folks, I was busy busy busy (Saturday tends to be my recovery day while Sunday is for chores) and I was still updating a PowerPoint for my classes at 11 at night.  Too late for me to get 7 hours of sleep, much less my required 8 hours, so I stopped, begged forgiveness from the universe and tucked myself into bed.

STILL... during dinner prep I discovered that we had about a dozen zucchini in the veggie bin, and rather than let them rot away as usual, I grated them along with a carrot, mixed up my favorite zucchini bread recipe and baked two loaves while we ate dinner.  Right now I have zucchini bread slices waiting for me to share with my colleagues and make me a happy snack after classes today. 

The jewelry came about after DH's mother took us out for lunch, and I needed some time to decompress and re-focus.  DD was doing homework at the dining room table, so I grabbed my bead boxes, plunked myself down across from her and started to rummage.  It's the first time I've played with my beads in a couple of years, I think.

I've been bored with my earrings lately - my favorite pair these days is are blood orange danglesr, which I used to save for Halloween, but now make up excuses to wear.  I've wanted some bright, colorful drop earrings for a while - so now I do.  (I will post a pic of them as soon as I figure out how to post pics in my blog; oh the shame of it all.)  I found a bag of stones my mother had given me many years ago, and in her honor I actually put them to use, and pulled together a very nice garnet/citrine/unakite necklace.  Not my usual style, but still highly satisfactory.

My plan for today's creative project is to finish a wrap skirt I sewed up this summer.  All it needs is a buttonhole hand-sewed in the waistband to pull the tie through and voila!  I have a new skirt.  I'm very proud of this skirt.  I found a free pattern for it online, downloaded it, pieced it together and used fabric I've had stored for at least 10 years.  LOVE it!  I hope I'll be able to wear it tomorrow.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

... started this blog. ...My daily journey to a creative life.

This blog - my first attempt at one - is an overdue reaction to a facebook Q&A quiz:  Are you creative?  Who, me?  My answer - "I'm not sure.  I know I'm not as creative as I could be."

The quilt for Katie's new baby - sewn by two of my teacher friends and me. 
BTF1 (Best Teacher/Friend) gave BTF2 and me quilting lessons in BFF2's downtown loft.  T
his is my very first completed quilt!
(The loft is within walking distance of Los Angeles' fabric district.  I'm jealous.)
Once upon a time, before I became a Grown Up and had to maintain myself and then a family, I did a lot of creative things.  I sewed a lot of my own clothes, learned the basics of pattern-making, embroidered.  I read, wrote.  I looked at art a LOT.  I thought of myself as a creative person.  I want to be that creative person again.

I've recently been a daily lurker at, a wonderful blog by an incredibly talented and upbeat young lady.  She hit a low spot in her life, and inspired by "Julie and Julia," created her own challenge:  $365 clothes budget for one year.  (Nothing new.)  Buy every garment at a thrift store, flea market or garage sale for no more than a dollar.  Remake these atrociously horrible 80's remnants of fashion disasters into really, really cute modern-looking pieces.  One a day. Amazing!

So... the challenge I set for myself up is this:  do at least ONE creative thing a day.  For a year.  This means to make something, fix something, finish an old project, organize part of my life or environment to make it more friendly to creativity.  Report back here, and even photos once I figure out how!  And if I don't, I will report back here and give my (probably pathetic) excuses.