Friday, November 27, 2015

So far, so good.

We've made it through week one of Kate's electronic fast. On the whole it's been going quite well--at the beginning she did have a few moments of "I don't think I'm going to make it!" I figured weekends would be hard, but that first after-school afternoon was pretty rough. We've gotten through it together. She and I have been spending a lot of time together, and she's come up with some fun things to do on her own. And our neighbor Tavah has been coming over to play a lot, which helps. So far I'm hopeful that her behavior is a little better. (We had an upset over Thanksgiving that was probably brought on by low blood sugar.) We'll have to wait a little longer to see if it helps with her school performance.

I feel like I've been making better use of my own computer time. I edited some photos that I took for a friend, worked on these last couple of blog posts, and created a vector design and sent it to Ponoko for laser cutting. I've always been highly distractable, so this is good for me too.  (Hooray for productivity!)

We avoided the Black Friday crowds (I found a couple of things online to spend some money on), and then in the afternoon I took Kate and Tavah down to Chambers Bay to watch the sunset. It turned out to be a nice day for it, which was great since we've had so much rain and wind lately. We haven't been getting out much. It was still chilly, but calm and clear.

Kate looks very stern in all her photos. I think she was being Serious Warrior Cat.

The sun dipped behind the horizon at 4:20. Three more weeks till the winter solstice!

Kate found a few dragon eggs (oval-shaped rocks) that she wanted to bring home, but nobody wanted to carry them (they were cold), so Tavah suggested they should find good nests for them there. Kate was up for that. It's nice to have someone else around for important duties like dragon egg tending.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving and the Sculpey Sweet Shoppe

Kate spent a large part of the day making Sculpey creations for her Littlest Pet Shop figures.  (Those are milkshakes with pink straws.)

We made Indian food this year.  Doug wanted to try making our own naan.  It was pretty good but not quite right.  We'll have to try again sometime. 

I've developed low expectations about Thanksgiving.  Years ago people used to invite us over, but that hasn't happened for a while.  I suppose one of these years we'll have to invite someone over ourselves.  Someone else with low expectations. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Painted Marshmallow Creatures

In preparation for Kate's three-week electronic fast, I came up with some projects for us to do together.  This one came from a combination of two things--toothpick-and-marshmallow creations at Cub Scout day camp, and an idea from Color Me Katie.  Marshmallows, toothpicks, food coloring, and brand-new clean paintbrushes.

It can be hard to get a good thin line. The brushes soak up a lot of food coloring, and release it rather blotchily. Takes some practice.

My collection of creatures.

Kate's creations.

It's a fun activity (slightly messy). Kate did eat a couple of the marshmallows--the intense concentration of food coloring makes for some exciting mouth-staining.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The three-week electronic fast

Kate's been having trouble focusing and functioning in school, and trouble handling her frustration.  She's also prone to anxiety and some OCD-like behaviors, and often feels like no one understands her.  When a friend mentioned this book, Reset Your Child's Brain, by Dr. Victoria L. Dunckley, I thought it was worth checking out.  I still haven't finished the book (it's rather long) but I was completely convinced by the first chapter.  She recommends a three-week period of no electronics at all, to reduce attention, behavior, and other problems.   I talked to Kate about it and we're giving it a go.  The fact that she was willing  indicates that she knows something needs to change.  I hope it helps.  Fifth grade has been hard on her and on us.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Little Black Cat-Dragon

This is what Kate came up with for Halloween this year--a cat-dragon. We got her a black hoodie and I picked up some black fleece and pink satin a while ago, but I've been so busy painting that I haven't been able to work on it much. I found some time this week to squeeze in working on the ears and spikes, and then today I did a rush job on the wings and tail and got it all finished. The ears turned out more like horse ears than cat ears, but she looks pretty cute!

I just made straps on the wings to connect them to the arms, rather than stitching along the whole sleeve. (I was in a hurry!)

Doug took her down to Michaels this afternoon for a bag-decorating and face-painting activity.  (Cute bag--Doug said he and Kate worked on it together.)

We had some pretty heavy wind and rain earlier today, but by evening it had let up a bit, so Doug and I threw on our hanboks (and put the green dragon cape on Andy) and we went down to the trunk-or-treat at the church.  (It's at 6:00.  They say if you get there at 6:15 all the candy is gone.)  Then Doug took Kate out around the neighborhood while I stayed home with Andy.  He might be coming down with something so we didn't want to stress his immune system.  They were out for quite a while so they must have had a good time, rain and all!

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Painting Don Giovanni

My latest project with Tacoma Opera--Don Giovanni, the tale of a rake punished.  Seductions, murder, a singing statue, and the fires of hell.  Exciting!

Over the summer, Tacoma Opera moved their offices to the Landmark Convention Center, which used to be the Temple Theater. The theater is still there, but now it's used as an event venue rather than a theater. They said we could use the stage area for painting whenever there wasn't an event happening, so I got to paint there rather than in a chilly warehouse in Lakewood. On the whole it worked out very well, though I did lose a week of painting time when they had a rash of events back-to-back.

Painting the fires of hell.

Part of the plan involved creating some cloth walls that would be hung over the orange walls, to reveal the fires of hell at the end.  I got three big canvas drop cloths to cover the stage with while I was working, and then Noel (the director) came by and said, "We could just paint these!"  So I did.  (I didn't get any pictures of that part.)  I spread two of the cloths out on the stage and wet them down to get the folds out, and let them dry over the weekend.  Then I spent a day roller-ing on a base coat and stippling them to match the other pieces. 

Load-in at the Rialto.  There's no backstage shop area, like at the Pantages, so they just stack stuff everywhere.

Going up!

When I was working on the orange panels I didn't have them next to each other, so I figured I would do more blending once we got them put up, and maybe add some red splatters, but Noel said it looked good the way it was.

There were a lot of changes to the set--things that I painted that didn't get used, and things that got added and I had to paint after they were put in place. It happens.

On Monday I took a spill--I was cleaning up and carrying two paint cans to the edge of the stage when I caught my foot on the edge of my drop cloth and went sprawling. I skinned my knee, and one can popped its lid, sending a delicate spray of bright red paint over my hair, my face, my was like a horrifying scene of bloody carnage. (I came home and took a shower.) I was limping around for a couple of days, but I was still able to do what I needed to. Whew!

Taking my work home with me--I painted these shutters Wednesday morning before going in. The kids had a half day, so I picked them up and took them to Mary McGiffin's house, and then was busy painting till almost 6:30. Long day!

The painted drop cloth walls went up, and there was enough fabric left over to cover the lower area also. Score!

The cloth walls were attached with velcro. Everyone said they looked really good. (Hardly like painted drop cloths at all!) I suspect we may be using this technique again in the future.

Dress rehearsal day is always a bit frantic. We had a lot to do, and we were busy right up until the last minute.

Noel kept telling me to add more orange. I wasn't completely sold on the idea, but it did look pretty cool with the dramatic lighting at the end! I did feel that the all-over stippling may not have been a good idea, though. When you have a uniform layer of stippling it all just ends up looking the same. (I think I did better with the Romeo and Juliette set. I shall redeem myself next time!)

Tony and I had a four-hour work call Friday morning to finish up a few things. (More orange stippling!)

I begged a couple of extra tickets (for Friday, since Doug has evening class on Wednesday), so I got to go to opening night with Anne Marie, Mary, and my friend Mimi (who I met through Two Peas years ago!) It was a blast. We got a blurry group selfie!

The ending was particularly stunning. Don Giovanni descends into hell, but the Rialto doesn't have a trap door, so Noel came up with a really clever solution.

(Photos by Peter Serko, from dress rehearsal.)

Don Giovanni is confronted by the statue of the Commendatore while the furies peel back the cloth walls. This part was so cool--I knew it was coming and I was still impressed. Anne Marie said it was like the walls were melting. (The furies are not in the opera, originally, but they worked well.)

The middle section is on wheels, and the whole thing moves forward very slowly as the statue sings. (Creepy!)

The furies lift up the lid. (This got painted before opening night.)

Don Giovanni is thrust into hell and the furies close the lid on him. (They had a light under the unit, from behind, so there was a glow coming up through the opening. It looked amazing.)

The other principals come out and sing, "So end all who do wickedly!" Or something like that. (That's Karen Evans in black--she was Mother Abbess in our multi-stake Sound of Music.)

We went out in the lobby to see Karen, and I heard a lot of people telling Noel how stunning the ending was. Those special effects were really something!

This is the fourth time I've painted for Tacoma Opera, but the first time I've done  the October show.  It's been a busy month.  (Halloween preparations at home have been very minimal.)  Now I have to wait till January to start painting the next show! Maybe I'll start working on that mural in our bathroom.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

On a Misty Morning

The spiders are decorating for Halloween!

Kate and I saw an astonishing number of webs on the way to school.   Thousands of webs.  It was pretty amazing.  And slightly disturbing.  I mean, I suppose they're there all the time, but the dew just makes them stand out.  Kate said we should get ready for the spider apocalypse. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

I would walk 500 miles (and 500 more)

My sister Betsey, finding herself ready for a life-changing experience, is walking the Camino de Santiago through France and Spain.  My friend Rebecca was the one who suggested it, as she was getting ready to walk it as well (the above is a gelli print that I made for Rebecca earlier--the scallop shell is a symbol of the pilgrim's road).

The most well-known part of the road is the 500-mile French Way (featured in the movie The Way with Marin Sheen) but Betsey, who is the original author of the term "we do it the hard way," decided to add an additional 500 miles to the journey by walking the Le Puy route through southern France first.  She's been blogging about it at A Nice Day for a Walk and we have all been loving following her adventures and gorgeous photos. After a month of walking she made it to St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port (the beginning of the French Way) and is crossing the Pyrenees into Spain.

You can read Betsey's own words about her reasons behind her pilgrimage here.  She's been through some amazing changes in her life and we're just thrilled that she's able to do this.  It's inspiring.  Makes me want to go walk somewhere.  (I did see where there's a guy who's trying to establish a pilgrimage route in Korea.  Hmmmm....)

Buen Camino, Betsey!  You're halfway there!

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Conference Weekend (two years later)

October General Conference marks two years in our new house. Hard to believe it's been that long! There are a lot of things that we were hoping to accomplish that we still haven't, but on the whole it's been a good ride. We had a nice weekend at home, listening to Conference and working on various projects.

I spent the time putting together a stamp of a Korean song.  This is some very fiddly cutting.  I got four lines done. The other four will have to wait for another time.

And here's what Doug was working on. It's a Korean temple beast from one of our photos.

Kate made this out of Sculpey. (It's Gulper.)

Andy has been making Duplo block letters. This is an M. He wanted to hold it sideways. I was just impressed that he was willing to hold it up for the camera at all--he hasn't really been clear on the concept in the past.

I'm supposed to start painting the set for Don Giovanni tomorrow.  Going to be a busy month!