Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Safe Travels, Balloon Bear

  The balloon bear does not rely on traditional modes of transportation to get where she needs to go. The balloon bear does not have traditional travel destinations. She does not go left, right, North, South, West or East. She travels up, up, up and up!

      Happy Christmas Eve! Hopefully, Balloon Bear won't knock into a herd of flying reindeer during her travels this evening.
    I have a bunch of illustrations in my sketchbook that I drew a while ago with the intention of painting them, including Balloon Bear. But I just recently have started adding the color to the drawings. I have some others to share in the future. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Be Happy

    A wise person once said, 'Be happy, you in the woods.' 


And it is true. It is down right silly not to be happy while wandering the woods. David and I were certainly happy during our jaunt through this moss and fern covered forest.



   It is easy to feel small in the woods, surrounded by so many towering trees.


  But the forest is full of small things too. Tiny bugs, crawling, scuttling and inching across the forest floor. Mushrooms and other fungi bulging like balloons, billowing like an open fan or sitting daintily atop a log.

      At the end of our hike, we came across a meadow that once was a baseball field. Now it is nothing but over grown grass surrounded by trees. There is a creaky fence that you have to open to get into the field. It seemed like a sad and haunted place. I can definitely imagine ghosts inhabiting that field. The ghosts would play baseball the entire day and once night settles over the forest, they would disperse to wander the woods.  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Sundial

   Something about the late fall and early winter puts me in the mood to read a good eerie, Gothic story. Around the same time of the year last year, I read Shirley Jackson's novel 'Hangsaman.' Since Shirley Jackson is always a dependable choice when one is in a mood for a interesting and unsettling yarn, I decided to follow suit this year. While at the library, rummaging thorough books, I found Jackson's novel 'The Sundial.' 

     A repeating theme in Jackson's books are creepy houses. The Haunting at Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle both feature creepy houses that act almost as another character. The creepy house in The Sundial is another example of Jackson's houses. This house is both lavish and creepy, and also full of lavish and creepy people. The story is about Aunt Fanny, who, while at the sundial in the middle of a shrub maze, meets her dead father who tells her of a coming apocalypse. Her father claims that the only safe place to be during the end times is in the house. Aunt Fanny convinces the rest of the people in the house of the visions validity, and together the family and their few followers prepare for the end of the world.
   This story, like most of Jackson's, is unsettling particularly because the reader is always on edge, not sure if Aunt Fanny is experiencing visions from madness or truly from an otherworldly source. But it is not just the suggestions of the world ending or the uncertainty of Aunt Fanny's sanity that is unsettling. It is the way the people respond to the news. Aunt Fanny's believers seem more excited for the new world that will exist after the apocalypse, rather than despairing at all the life that will be lost.
  One thing that was different about this novel compared to some of Jackson's others that I have read, is that 'The Sundial' was a lot funnier than her other books. There is both a playfulness and satirical humor that runs thorough the novel. My favorite funny part of the book is when Aunt Fanny's believers encounter another group who also believe the world is coming to the end.
  My favorite Jackson novel is still 'We Have Always Lived in the Castle' but it was wonderful visiting her writing and the worlds she creates in 'The Sundial.' It is an entertaining, dark and funny book well worth the read.

   Speaking of eerie, the sky was looking quite eerie earlier today. But also, very beautiful!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Muddy Boots and Farm Friends

   The holiday season is so fleeting. It seems like I was just at the pumpkin patch, searching the ground for the perfect pumpkin to carve for Halloween. David and I went to the pumpkin patch on a rainy afternoon. We drove out of the city and down a winding road to get to the pumpkin patch which is also a farm. On both sides of the road we saw pastures full of grazing cows. The year prior, we went to the same place. It was bustling with people. Everyone was filled with good cheer and merriment as they strolled through the farm, caramel apples and apple cider in toe. But this time we went midweek and during stormy weather so it had a completely different feel. Most of the seasonal stands were closed. The other people that were there trudged across the farm, heads down to avoid rain splattering on their face, hands in their pockets. It was bleak and dreary but beautiful. The animals were quiet and reserved. Since there weren't very many people, the crows felt comfortable descending from the sky to perch on top of bright orange pumpkins.

   The first part of our pumpkin patch excursion was spent with the animals. I love any opportunity to see animals close up. As you can see a couple of pictures down, I made friends with a sweet miniature donkey. David made friends with a curious llama. What can I say, we make friends wherever we go!

I made a new friend!

David made a new friend!

   The second part of our pumpkin patch adventure was spent tromping through the mud in search of a perfect pumpkin. I couldn't settle on just one and chose one traditional pumpkin and one bumpy, reddish pumpkin. David was more practical and found one, very large pumpkin.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Little Pier and Mistaken Identies

     This summer I was in California for a week visiting my family. I spent one night sleeping across the street from a pier. I could hear the fog horns bellowing across the water and through the windows. At one point they infiltrated my dreams but I can't remember how. Maybe they were disguised as an alarm in a dream where I had to escape a burning house. Or maybe they were the sound of a doorbell being continually rung by a ghost. 
   Piers are lonely places, and even though this tiny pier had several people on it, it still felt dismal and abandoned. It was a gray place. The water was gray and the sky was gray and the birds that swooped down from the sky were gray. The water lapped around the pier in a calming swishing sound while the fishermen slouched in bored anticipation of a catch. 
  I walked to the pier with my family. We stood at the end, huddled near each other. We watched the birds and the boats and talked about people we use to know. 

  Last week, it snowed for the first time this season. It started early in the morning, but I was awake because I had to get to work. I walked to my bus stop as a flurry of snow flakes swirled around me. By the time I got to my stop, I had snow covering my jacket and the top of my head. Once I was on the warm and buzzing bus, I watched the snow fluttering from the sky. Snow is a big deal in Seattle. We don't get it enough to be tired of it. It is exciting!
  By the afternoon, the sun was back. But not the temperature. It remained below freezing for the rest of the day and on and on for several days afterward. After work, I waited for my bus. The street seemed extra quiet and cold. Across the street, a couple waited at the bus stop going the opposite direction. They called to me and waved. I couldn't tell if I knew them or not. They had hoods on their heads, and scarves bundled around their faces. So I jovially waved back. This is when they said something about "Sally," and I realized they were strangers and that they thought I was someone else. They thought I was Sally. They started walking across the street toward me, and they were almost fully across when they realized I was not Sally. "Oh." The woman said with disappointment. They turned around and walked back across the street.
   Some one else came to wait at the bus stop with me, an older Russian man. He seemed very concerned that I was cold, even though I wasn't. I had two coats on and gloves. He asked me if I spoke Russian. I wish I did, but I don't. I took French in high school, but have forgotten most of it. Except for 'pamplemousse', which means grapefruit and is most people's favorite french word, according to my own anecdotal experience. It is definitely my favorite. It is fun to say and fun to hear. The man at the bus stop then asked me if I was Russian. There are lots of Russian things I find very interesting like Anna Karenina and mysterious stories about Rasputin. But it is not the land of my ancestors. He wasn't convinced, he wanted to know if maybe my grandparents were from Russia. When again, I told him no, he seemed disappointed. He said, "Oh, you look like people back home." Then the bus rolled up to us and I jumped aboard. The man from Russia must have been waiting for the other bus, though.
   And this is how two sets of people mistook me for someone else on the same day: Sally and a woman from Russia.