Monday, September 21, 2009

Aaaaaaarrrrrrrgh and all that...

Talk Like a Pirate Day weekend at the Mariners' Museum was fantastic. Among other things, I met some astonishingly beautiful macaws and parrots (including an African grey like Alex), a Jack Sparrow impersonator who was brilliant, and a real paleontologist. I am very excited about meeting a real paleontologist.

I cobbled together pirate garb from my old SCA garb, and I think I did a halfway decent job.

It may not look like much in the photo, but my display is getting better and better. I spent almost all day Friday finishing my tablecloths, which I sewed by hand because I still don't know how to use a sewing machine, even though I own two (and a half). Turns out, the hand-sewn look is a perfect complement to my artwork.

The wrinkled look, not so much, but I haven't figured out yet how to prevent that - I can iron them until I need to turn the house's AC up, and they still get wrecked by the time I get to the event. I don't want to take an iron with me if I can avoid it, so I will have to start experimenting with starches.

In trying to find a way to wrap the newest tablecloth to cover the table ends, I stumbled on the idea of rope and grommets:

Turned out as well as I had hoped, and well worth the pain and finger jabs.

Here are some photos from the Towne Place at Greenbrier show last weekend. The first shot is the "before" shot of the tablecloth above (you'll see that it's too long on the wide ends and too short on the short ends, and why I am especially pleased with the new look in comparison):

The Towne Place show was my first outdoor event with my own tent, and it was very exciting. I have always loved the idea of my own portable, but defined space - I am infatuated with the idea of RVs and boats and tinker wagons - and having my own tent was a thrill for my inner wanderer, even though I only ended up putting up one and a half walls. Just having my own roof gave me a feeling of home.

Initially, I created a sort of hallway, so people could walk in from both directions, and around and through, and keep the flow going, but...

... after the sun started to hit the left side of the tent and heat up my artwork (lesson learned: know which way the sun will move), I moved the tables into an L shape and put up another half wall. I think I like this arrangement better, anyway.

Ultimately, my goal is to create an ambience for the tent that is a total experience - so that when people walk in, they feel that they are walking into a ship-slash-expeditionary camp (a la pirate-slash-Indiana Jones). It's a slow process, and right now, it's mostly in the small details, like my "shipping" crates below, but I definitely feel like I am on the right path.

Next, I will turn my hand to creating bigger displays for hanging artwork and embellishments for the outside of the tent.

I was wary of doing two events so close together, but I am so glad I did. They were so very different from each other, but I learned a lot from each - vending and hawking and selling do not come naturally to me, but I really do like meeting new people and seeing their reactions to my artwork - at least, most of the time - and I am thoroughly enjoying the set design aspect.

Not to mention talking like a pirate, and all that. Aaaarrrrrrrrrrrgh!

Friday, September 11, 2009


I do remember.

I remember so many things about that day. So many details. I remember, most clearly, the vivid blue of the sky. God, it was a beautiful day that day. It was one of those days where you can't stop grinning, on the walk to work, because it's so beautiful outside. It was one of those days that you can't not notice the weather.

And then, only 20 minutes later and in the hours that followed, I remember the surprise, followed by shock, followed by ever-increasing horror. I was in Philadelphia, south of NYC, north of DC and east of Shanksville. I remember a feeling of panic because it seemed we were surrounded, with no escape. It wasn't distant. We knew people who were right there in the middle of it, and we watched it unfold, minute by minute.

I remember watching footage of New York as a journalist at the Department of Defense reported to the network by telephone. And I remember hearing the plane hit the Pentagon right in the middle of a sentence.

I remember making eye contact with a total stranger outside work, and breaking into tears. I remember how she hugged me. She didn't look like the hugging type.

I remember the firefighters and police who chose to put themselves in that place, because they cared about the lives of strangers. "Cared" doesn't even seem like a strong enough word. That is such an amazing thing to do - even just to take the chance of sacrificing your life for someone else. So I remember and respect the firefighters who survived, too.

And even though I didn't know them - although, like countless people on the East Coast, I know people who did - I remember the other people who died. The people on the planes. The people who were at work - who maybe walked to work grinning like I did, because it was so beautiful outside. The people in the Pentagon. The people who never knew what hit them, and the people on the planes and the higher floors of the World Trade Center, who, knowing there was no way out, called their family members to say good-bye.

I remember the people just like us.

I remember. So many people have ideas about the best kind of memorial. But I think the best way to remember is to live. To really live. To live the kinds of lives we would want people to talk about when we die.

To smile a lot. To laugh a lot. To live with zest. To love our family members as hard as we can, and to forgive them their faults as best we can. To forgive ourselves for our own faults. To truly savor the little, seemingly insignificant moments, like brushing our teeth or pouring a glass of iced tea. To really feel what we are touching, to really taste what we are eating, to really smell the flowers, to really live in the moment. To be kind to strangers, even when they don't return the favor, because they might be having a really bad day. To stop worrying so much. To stop blaming other people so much. To live fully, even in the bad moments. To thank people. To do the things we love and treat ourselves to the things that make us happy. To recognize when things are good and we are happy. To do our best to share that happiness with the world. To share our talents and give back in our own way. To care. To do the things we've always dreamed of doing, because it's now - or maybe never. To follow our dreams.

And most of all, on a really beautiful day, to look up at the sky, and grin, and take a deep breath, and say, "Wow, it's a beautiful day."

And it is, it really is.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


My latest map. Prints in the shop today; the original will follow after my upcoming events. I am particularly fond of this one.

Halloweenland, 8" x 10", ink and watercolor on paper

How best to celebrate All Hallows Eve? With a trip to Halloweenland, of course. This Halloween map is the perfect guide to this mysterious place: from Spiderweb Crossing to the ghostly Spookville, from the city of Necropolis to the eerie Cauldron Lake, you'll see no end of mysterious, haunting sights, and meet plenty of ghosts, witches, zombies and other creatures of the night.

Take a headless horseback ride along Abracadabra Highway and Zombie Road, or float down the Magic Potion River on a raft steered by unseen spirits. And you'll see some amazing fall foliage while you're at it.

It will be a trip you'll never forget.

A fantastic Halloween decoration, and a perfect gift for any ghost, spirit, witch, goblin, zombie, monster, or fan of Halloween.

For Posterity

09/09/09 at 09:09:09

Because it's important to celebrate the little things in life.

And because this makes me laugh.

Happy 09/09/09!