February 2009 Archives


This was the major achievement of the morning. We've had a couple of cheap Ikea peg boards in the front hall for years, and for years most of the pegs have been missing... making it difficult to keep our coats off the floor. This morning I took seven metal coat hooks, drilled holes for them with my new drill, mounted them to a piece of wood, and got the piece of wood firmly affixed to the wall. Found a stud, measured sixteen inches on center, et cetera. I hung one of my sister's paintings over the hooks, hung up the coats and scarves, admired the view from various angles, and then cooked breakfast for the sleepover set. (And after that, I sat down on the sofa with another cup of coffee and read a book until lunchtime.)

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In a fairy tale, the orange armchair I saw in the empty lot this afternoon would have a special meaning for me. I was on my way to the dentist, and stopped across the street from the supermarket to look at it.



I love the way one dried cherry can contain so much flavor.

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The outing was my daughter's idea - she wanted to draw. And the day was still warm enough for us to go to the playground after work.

So we did. And we drew. And then the sun slipped behind the houses and our hands were colder. We walked home, talking, and made breakfast for supper - French toast.



Wintergreen, of course.



Berries remind me that spring will come again.



Happy birthday to everyone born on February 22 - with a special cheer for anyone born fourteen years ago today...


A few bites were left on the cutting board, after the rest had been cut up to go with the chicken wings.



On the coffee table. I'm guessing that this means we've run out of kleenex.



Things have a way of piling up.

Like papers beside a comfortable chair. Like comments. I know the papers collect - I didn't know about the comments. I thought I was just going through a quiet phase, and people were occupied elsewhere... and then I happened to look at my spam filter and found all kinds of wonderful observations and responses. They should all be posted now - thank you so much, and so sorry for the delay. (And now I should probably do something about the papers as well, but I think I'll leave them for a weekend project.)



This patchwork pillow is comfortable, but beginning to come apart at the top seam.



And I remember kids in school singing, "Nobody doesn't like cel-er-y," to the tune of the coffee cake jingle.

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Tonight I jumped in with some oil pastels that I hadn't used in a year or so - just wanted to push color around in a gray season.

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Drying on the counter.


Happy Valentine's Day. I finished the pair of socks I was knitting late last night, and wrapped and gave them to my husband this morning. He gave me chocolate and an electric drill - the perfect combination of sweetness and practicality. (I've already planned my first project with the drill... more on that, later.)

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A delicate, damp sweetness. After the brief thaw, we are back to February weather and the scent of primrose lets me imagine my way forward to March.


Just brush and water at first, and then painted color into the wet shape on the page.

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I had a brief thought of painting these with coffee. Some other night, perhaps.



One of a squadron of 24 now parked on the dining room table, getting ready for the school valentine exchange. Ingredients for each plane: 1 pack of Smarties, 1 stick of gum, 2 wintergreen Life Savers, colored paper (to wrap gum), and a rubber band. (We found instructions here.)

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Milk and wine glasses and mail.

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Red scarf, folded hastily. I won't need to wear it tomorrow, as it's supposed to be unseasonably warm.


Blue wool slippers tempt me to stay in pyjamas all day... one of these days...


I didn't set out to collect doll hands - but they began to find me. Waiting at the bus stop one day, I looked down and there was a tiny hand, waving to me from the gutter. I brought it home (wouldn't you?) and stuck in a bowl of odd buttons and small change on my bureau. I think I found another one that same week, and that started it. The rule seems to be that I can't go looking for them - but if they turn up, I save them.



Today is day 1500.

Should I draw 1500 dots, 1500 boxes, 1500 oranges?

I began daily drawing in late December 2004. When I got to day 28, I was so pleased and surprised that I made a video and began posting the drawings to this blog.

When I got to day 100, I bought myself a bigger box of watercolor crayons.

When I got to day 1000, I had a party online and made another video.

So for day 1500...?

Hmm. Mile markers, anniversaries, and birthdays are good. This year, my marriage turned 21 and I will turn 50. And signposts like those are worth celebrating, I think, even if they aren't really the point. I didn't get married in order to have anniversaries. I don't draw in order to have created a particular round number of drawings. After each celebration, I realize that over the long run, there's no particular magic number.

I breathe. I play. I love. I get to share things. I reflect. I find satisfaction in small moments.

Drawing teaches me to notice. To plunge in, regardless. To mess around. To make mistakes in public and keep going anyway.

"If a thing is worth doing," wrote G.K. Chesterton, "it's worth doing badly."

(And I have dozens of late-night paintings of oranges and smudged drawings of my right hand.)

As time has passed, I've gotten the chance to draw elsewhere. For nine months one year, I drew in the museum. I drew an extra drawing every day of November. Twice. I've contributed weekly drawings of Pittsburgh to a group blog since 2006. I now draw at the Pittsburgh Symphony, and was invited to join a new urban blog this fall. I'm grateful for the way my daily project has opened new opportunities.

So this particular performance continues. It is an open-ended version of my life, going by at one frame per day. An extreme sport, if we talk about extreme slow motion, near geologic pace in an age of short attention spans.

And what have I learned?

Will power doesn't count much. Delight does. Find something that delights you enough, and you will keep doing it anyway. Even on days when the biggest obstacles are your own expectations.

So my wish is to keep finding the delight. To have the chance to be present, slow down, and pay attention for a moment. Every day.

A small treat.

Another breath.

Another drawing.

Thanks for being such good company en route.



What could be more full of possibility?



Red chair in the living room.



I remember drawing suns like this orange, when I was in grade school. (Why was the sun always in the top left corner of my drawings back then, I wonder?)

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A home-made paper flag. (Note the comma...) The city has been completely swept up in joyous black-and-gold mania, as the Pittsburgh Steelers had a chance at winning a record sixth Super Bowl championship today. To give you a sense of the atmosphere, we went to an acoustic show in a bookstore café today, and half of the alt-folk crowd were wearing team jerseys. (A sketch of that is here.)

The game was close, full of dramatic reverses, and once-in-a-lifetime plays. We watched at home, and followed the excitement of friends on Twitter, Facebook, and via text messages. In celebration, tomorrow the city schools have a two-hour delay.




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