Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Write: In the Land of the Free

The Fourth of July is Independence Day here in the US.  A day when we gather and give thanks for those men and women who have kept us free.  We also honor our forefathers who wrote the declaration that is the basis for our country.
In this age of political ups and downs, it's hard to keep faith in your country.  But we have to keep in mind that the country is not the politics.  This country is set up to support the many different peoples and beliefs.  When two people can shout at each other over what it means to be free, that is what our country is about.  When two people can scream at each other over a difference in religion, politics, ethics, or interpretations, that is what our country is about.  We don't have to like each other, we don't have to agree with each other or the government.  We can be as free and judgmental (unfortunately) as we are brave enough to be.

Exercise:  Write about the phrase "The land of the free and the home of the brave" and see what you come up with.  The entire phrase does not have to appear in your writing, nor does it have to stay in that order.  


The American dream is currently a nightmare.
A house, a yard, kids
has been replaced with
more and more money,
success, and fame.
This land of the free
is slowly gaining ground.
A nation not dependant
on amount and size
A home of the brave
who stand up and see
and share and care
about their neighbors
and planet.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Inspire: Freedom and Liberty

Sorry again, guys.  Sickness struck yesterday even after I instructed it not to.

I live in Iowa.  Not much for anyone to really think about, it's mostly flat and full of corn.  But every once in awhile we do something awesome... such as granting homosexuals the right to marry.  Our state motto is "Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain."  This motto is something that I really feel I've connected to in the past couple years, giving me pride in a country that I tend to be disgusted with.  But at the same time as I am growing tired of the political pollution and environmental destruction, this land is a place where everyone has a right to be heard.  If I don't like it, it is my job, my duty, my civic responsibility to stand up and be heard.

The Fourth of July means fireworks and BBQs, but this year I hope to instill in my son just what it means to be free.

What are your plans for the Fourth?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Create: Inspiration Notebooks

I may have mentioned this before, but in one of my last swaps, I received a fantastic notebook.  It was an inspiration journal with lines from one of my favorite poets on top of each page.  You are supposed to be able to open up the journal and write about what is written on top if you are stuck for inspiration.  I find it a fantastic idea and have shared it with my writer's group.


This last group meeting, we realized that it would take a lot of time to fill out an entire notebook with quotes.  So after sharing the idea, we decided to take one line from a book and write for ten minutes and see what we came up with.  It was wonderful to see the different ideas people came up with.

This journal idea could be modified for whatever craft/art you do.  Do you draw? Write your lines on top of your sketch journal pages.  It will just require a little inspiration to tweak the idea to your needs.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Write: Fleeting Inspiration

Do you ever get overwhelmed with ideas?  Are you ever in the middle of writing down one idea and get bombarded with several others, half gone before you can jot them down?  I know how you feel...

Enjoy this week's writing offering:

I can't write fast enough.  The words, they fly across my mind's eye, teasing and taunting as they disappear.  No enticement, no pleading, no begging will bring them back long enough to be tacked down by my pen.  Just out of sight is out of mind is good and gone.

Half formed scribbles litter my page with those phrases that were pinned down but not like butterflies spread beautifully in death.  Half of the notes are abandoned, their brethren having sped the process to the point where nothing is legible.

Nothing.

I may lay in wait in a blind, ambushing the perfect word to mount on my paper.  Let the good words pass and just wait for that absolutely perfect word.  Floods and schools of others may pass in front of my spot, but I will let them go.  I will wait for the wonderful words and let the others escape my arrows of ink. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Inspire: Inspirations

On the topic of being inspired, how about we go straight for the big one and be inspired by our inspirations? ;)  This blog was started as a way for me to keep track of my inspirations, but also to keep them in order so I wouldn't go nuts with all the projects and ideas I had.  I think it really has helped.  I can write down what inspires me and go through it a week at a time without everything clammering to be done NOW.

One of my swap partners sent me a nifty book that I have shared with my writing group and intend to make more of that is a way to break through writer's block.  That has inspired me to make two other kinds of books, both of which I will hopefully share with you at the end of the week (if I can find the box with all my notebooks in it...).

How do you take care of your inspirations?  How do you feed your Muse and keep her happy with you?  Do you ever have the greatest idea and then can not remember it later? 

Create: A Little Bird

Okay, I know I suck.  Sorry for leaving you guys without any notice!  I decided at the last minute to take Friday off work so I could work on getting ready to move.  And I took Monday off to finish up moving stuff.  Good news, I am officially moved into my new place.  Bad news, everything is in boxes... Don't you  hate how they never just jump out of the box and move into the correct place?  My kitchen is a mess because I don't have the same amount of storage as my other place.  But I really love it.  It's nifty.

Now onto making things inspired by your friends...

One of my friends, the talented Kristin Roach of Craft Leftovers, brought this pattern to our Sew 'n Swap a couple weeks ago.  She had it previously, I believe in an issue of her great zine, and I thought she had it on her website as a freebie, but I can't find it right now.  But she brought it out and we all made some wonderful little birdies to hang out with.

I love getting ideas from my friends.  How about you?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Write: A Friendly Welcome

So... I've been over and over the last few lines of this poem, and I still don't think it's right.  But at the same time, it's given me a great subject to talk to you all about.  That's right, word selection! 

I'm currently reading Spunk & Bite by Arthur Plotnik.  The subtitle is 'A writer's guide to punchier, more engaging language & style.'  The chapter I finished today was about Writers' Words and how to find new ones that fit.  I find this very apt considering my problem with the poem below.  I was struggling with using 'sun' as it's pretty overused, but 'glowing orb' sounded to pretentious.  So I wrote it with basic words, thinking I would go back and try to jazz up my word selection.

How do you deal with words in your writing?  Do you use a thesaurus?  Do you expand your vocabulary while writing?  Or do you suffer the same problem I have, reusing words until they no longer are fresh?

This might become the next topic for my writer's group...

The glowing sun smiles down
on the growing grass,
encouraging rampant weeds
to frolic across the field.
Trees stretch their limbs,
leaves embracing the
golden light as a
friend welcomes
others to her home.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Extra! Noumenia and Goals

It's the first sliver of new moon again, peeking out from behind clouds and shedding It's light again on us. 

Last month, I said I would work on my daily practice and follow the calender of rituals.  I pretty much met those goals this month.  I asked for help in finding a place to live in my hometown, ten miles away from where I currently live, since my car went to crap again.  I asked for the transition to be easy on my pocketbook since I was moving a lot earlier than expected.  I pledged that I would make an offering for the help I received.

I found a fantastic duplex from my current rental company that will transfer deposit and split June's rent.  So I am moving on Saturday.  I had given up my search for a duplex when I decided that I should probably start trying to save money for a better car and such.  But this duplex is a straight shot down and two miles away from where I pick up my rideshare van, a mile away from an elementary school, comes with a garage and washer/dryer hookups, and is right next to a cyride (city bus system) stop.  It's just about perfect for us.  And I can afford it.

So I made sure that once the lease was signed and everything was finalized that I made my offering.  I also managed to remember to light a candle for Hekate's Deipnon yesterday, although I forgot the libation to Zeus Saturday.

This month I am going to make my goal to establish myself and my gods in my new home.  I have a couple ideas for how to do so that would be better than what I currently do, but we will see.

Write: The Joy of Friends

Inspirations can come from any source.  A mural can come from rolls of butcher paper during a contest.  A poem can come from an empty can rolling across the sidewalk.  A story can come from an abandoned glove.

Anything can come from anywhere.  Even writer's block.

It's what you put into the story that is important.  The story is imagined, "Where did that glove come from," and that thought leads to another, "I bet their hands are really cold right now." 

Inspirations are inspired and the Muses are everywhere.

I am lucky to have found a fantastic group of crafty friends who are full of inspiration.  If I can't use it, maybe one of them can.  Maybe they have an idea that sparks one of my own.  My friend Kristin, designer and creator of our mural and art group, has brought in some of her wonderful projects for our sew 'n swaps along with our other groups.  My friend Sarah always has abstract, crazy, wonderful ideas that are completely off the wall but are inspiring.  My son always has some idea that inspires me to take up the challenge and make him something (although the plarn bag turned out too girly for him.  I have to make another one in more manly colors).

Who inspires you?  Where do you get ideas from and who helps you realize those ideas?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Extra! Craft Hope: Gulf Oil Spill

I have been watching coverage of the oil spill for as long as I can stomach each night.  My son has started asking to change the channel because he doesn't want to hear anymore.  I've been down because I haven't felt like I can do anything about the spill.  Moving and being a single mom means that there isn't much left over for me to donate, I don't cut my hair enough to gather the amount they would like to create booms, and there is no way for me to travel to help with clean up. 

I put spare change in a jar for the gnomes/spirits of the house/agathos daimon and it is earmarked for a charity dealing with home/family.  For instance, I may donate it to the Emergency Residency Project in town, or the local women's abuse shelter.  But this oil spill affects my countries home and wildlife and people.  I don't know, I have to ask the gnomes where they want it to go.

But I found something today that I CAN do.  I will also be asking if we can have our fibers group participate (but I'll wait until either tonight or tomorrow to ask the host since we're all sorts of crazy about the dedication ceremony tomorrow).  ANYWAY, Craft Hope is working on a project to send handmade towels and wash clothes to a group working to clean animals affected by the oil spill.  By donated handmade items made preferably of cotton, I could finally have some peace in knowing that I helped out in some way.

Items can be knitted, crocheted, or sewn out of preferably cotton or terrycloth.  They will even accept items that are not handmade or of the preferred material. That is how much they need these items.

The due date is July 3rd, but they will continue to accept items after that.

If you are interested in helping, leave a comment at the project 8 blog and get cracking!  The button on the right goes to their homepage.

Luckily I have some cotton sitting out from packing in case I wanted to make something this week.  I think in my travel time between work and home I should be able to work on one a day, hopefully. 

Let me know if you are planning on helping as well!

Create: Plastic Bag Keeper

I have a tendency to forget my reusable bags when I go to the store, or I don't plan on going to the store and end up not having them when I need them.  Either way, I've ended up with a lot of plastic bags.  What better way to keep them than to stick them in this thing? 
This has worked for me for awhile (when I don't over stuff it with plastic bags).  I took a bandanna, sewed one side together to create the length.  Then, I sewed casings for the elastic on top and bottom.  And last, I added a strip of elastic as a hanger.  That was one thing I would change.  Rather than elastic, use a ribbon or cloth for the hanger.  It works really well.  Just pull a bag out of the top or bottom when you need it.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Write: A World Not My Own

For today's exercise, I want you to sit for ten minutes thinking of how the earth would look if we did nothing about pollution and trash.  What does this mean to you?  Would the world be the same or would it be something completely different?  What are your feelings on recycling, reducing, and reusing?  Write it down.

Here we go....

I dreamed I awoke in a world not my own.  Where were the bird calls in the tree outside my window?  Where was the shush of leaves gently moving against the siding?  Where was the beam of sunlight on my pillow?  I thought nothing more of it, deciding that traffic was heavy and the day was overcast.  I went through my routine, getting ready and out the door. 

But I went no further than that.

Gone was my world.  The birds were no where in sight, driven away by an inhospitable place.  Only the crows circled in the gray sky.  Their raucous cawing could barely be heard.  Maybe they were not happy about swooping in and out of the dumpsters left open.

My beloved tree, once full of leaves and life just outside my window, was barely tall enough to reach the roof.  It's bare branches twisted and lifeless, full of plastic bags masquerading as leaves.  The breeze blew one away to cartwheel down the packed street, ducking between cars and floating higher on exhaust.

Cement sidewalks and steel scrapers stretched as far as I could see.  No green space or yards, just trash covering the dirt plots in front of a few houses. A few clumps of wilted dandelions tried to bravely grow between the cracks. 

A roll of thunder made me look up, praying for the clouds to open up.  At least a fresh, new rain would clean my spirit, feed my hope.  But the rumble came from a passing semi and the drop that fell on my cheek burned at the touch.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Inspire: A Life with Plastic

Sorry about the late post, dear readers.  Blogger didn't want to let me put up a new post yesterday.  It was a technical Blogger thing, not me, I swear! :)

I've been following the Save Our Oceans contest, or at least I was until I realized I was moving, in upcycling and recycling.  It's about reducing plastic use and consumption.  At the same time, Cat Chapin-Bishop of Quaker Pagan Reflections decided that she needed to reduce plastic waste in her own life and started a new blog called Chestnut House where she deals with how to lower her plastic consumption.  A blogger on my local newspaper wrote an article that really got me, and I think this is part of the reason for the outcry against plastic.  In his article, he states that BP isn't the one at fault, we are for our use of throw away plastic. 

In wake of the oil spill in the gulf, I've been debating my use of plastic as well.  Granted, I don't buy bottled water (except for long trips where I've forgotten my reusable one or I'm dying of thirst, even then I feel guilty), but I realized yesterday during lunch that my string cheese was wrapped in plastic.  How am I to reduce my waste when I didn't even realize that?  I used to buy the store brand that came without single servings and I'm going to go back to that.  But what do I put my string cheese in?  What do I put my trash in?  Plastic is everywhere and to reduce it from where I'm currently at is going to take a lot of work. 

Luckily, I believe my son is with me.  He has been just as emotionally affected by the gulf spill as I have been.  But do I ask him to give up all his plastic toys?  I believe I will start will smaller steps and work my way towards being plastic free, or at least less.  I will not throw away my tupperware lunch containers and go buy new.  But when they are worn out or I need new ones, I will look for alternatives.  The glass containers I have now have plastic lids...  It's everywhere!

With my move, I am also looking at alternative transportation.  Unfortunately, the buses start ten minutes after I need to be at my vanpool in the morning.  So I will have to either fix/get a new car, fix/ride my bike (exercise!), or find a ride.  Not so bad in the summer, but winter here gets to -20 before you factor in windchill.

Are you interested in reducing your plastic use?  Do you think we are to blame for BP's actions?  How else can we reduce our impact on the planet?

Video: Use Less Plastic to Save Our Oceans

Friday, June 4, 2010

Create: Summer Waves Bag

Well, I didn't finish my project for this week.  It's almost done, just in need of a strap.  I fell asleep on the couch last night and luckily I was woken up by a friend calling so I could make sure the kidlet got into the shower and to bed.  I could barely stay awake long enough to make lunches.  Thank goodness for leftovers!

Here is the main body of my son's bag, made of stashed yarn and plarn.  He wanted something to carry water balloons in, and also something to holster his water gun with.  I can't quite think of a way to holster the water gun to the bag without it being too heavy, so I think I'm going to create a guitar-style strap that attaches to the water gun.  Then he can hook the bag (once I create a strap for it) to the water gun.

Hopefully I have it done by next week when we dedicate the mural with water balloons!

Until next week, go out there and do it!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Write: Summer Scenes

We seemed to have our first big summer storm last night.  I don't live in Tornado Alley, just like I don't live in the Great Plains, but we are close enough that it's the same thing.  Summer storms are fun and scary things.  The thunder booms big and powerful, followed by lightning that streaks across the sky like it's noon instead of midnight.  Luckily, I didn't hear of any tornadoes nearby this time. 

For today, take a few minutes and list what kind of weather you experience in summer.  It could be weather where you are, or your favorite type of summer weather, or what kind of weather you WISH you were having in summer.  Choose one and write on that subject for ten minutes.

Here we go!

Beyond the glass turned
to a mirror by the electric light
the wind brushes branches against the siding.
A boom, a shake, and the windows rattle.
The world illuminated for one brilliant second
as if noon didn't want to go to sleep
and instead, played in a summer storm.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Inspire: It's Summer Time!

Hope you all had a great three day weekend!  I got quite a bit done and was pretty frugal, I'm excited!  I blanched and froze three packages of sweet corn, made from-scratch muffins (which I never do), made excess pancakes to freeze, made a roast, and made a crock-pot meal for today.  I feel accomplished. :)  I'm going to try to plan more crock-pot meals during the summer so I don't have to work over a hot stove/oven.

You will notice some changes today, I've been messing about with the layout of the blog.  I'm hoping to find a way to make a great banner but haven't gotten there yet. 

Another change may happen, may not.  I'm going to be moving (hopefully by July 1st if not sooner!) and in doing so, I've got a LOT of packing to be doing.  Moving is not the best environment to start craft projects in, so I'm going to try to keep my crafting to a minimum and keep it to small pieces.  That's pretty much what I've been posting anyway, right?  Hopefully I can think of some nifty moving how-to posts or moving related crafting.

Now on to this weeks theme!  Summer time!

Yes, I know, it's not officially summer time, but this is my son's last week of school and I officially have a sun burn.  That makes it summer for me.  I hit the pool for the first time this year and it was spectacular.  I'm still suffering from a bit of that burn, not from swimming, but from driving from my town to the swimming pool town. 

This week start thinking about what you want to do this summer.  Is it a zoo or a trip to the science center?  Is it swimming or camping or barbecuing?  I'm planning on having a garage party if/when I move into this new place.  I also plan on hanging out at the pool and finding some friends to play disc golf with.

What are you going to do?