Housecleaning with Max

  Today Max and i began to rearrange his room.
  i share this to give you a feel for working with this wonder-full, communication-impaired young man with autism, as well as inevitably a bit of my own limitations.
The"Desk to Last a Lifetime,"
when Max and MyGuy had nearly finished constructing it
  i've known for some time that he wanted the room arranged differently, but there aren't many options, what with the Desk to Last a Lifetime that takes up 1/4 of it.  Plus, let's be honest, there's ANYTHING else i'd rather do than housekeeping, never mind housecleaning with Max.)
  We began with two hours of "Keep it or get rid it?" about every single item on his dresser, piled a foot high in places.  (MyGuy and i are not ones to do the purge & ask questions later thing.)
  Well, back up.  First i had to determine that Max was willing to do the project now.  There have been other good times for me that were not good times for him.
  So anyway we got on with sorting the stuff on the desk.  Some of the "get rid of" stuff is things i've been looking for, & will go in the scrapbook or to his teacher for schoolwork.  Or maybe enrichment here.  i found the instructions for a mini digital camera he was given several Christmases ago.  Maybe the camera will surface too & we can look at the photos he took. (But he sure had fun shooting.)
  That took a couple hours.  Very boring.
  We took everything off, polished the top, vacuumed the available carpet, moved the dresser, vacuumed again the additional available carpet, then began the process again with the stuff on the bookcase headboard.  There wasn't so much, so that didn't take so long.
  At that point we called Dad/MyGuy to help with the bed.  Moving, more vacuuming, reminders of why moving furniture is bad for the marriage, replacing stuff.
  i'd measured wrong.  Yes, the bed goes where i thought.  Yes, the dresser does indeed fit in the niche under the window.  But the shelves don't fit between the bed & the window, so they'll have to stay where they are. But that won't be the problem i'd thought either.  They can slide along the wall they're on, or not, as Max prefers, as long as we remove the boxes on the floor that extend past the shelves.
  But the shelves must wait for later.  Now it's time for MyGuy and Max to go to the grocery, then we'll reconvene as a family for lunch and library.  Today i think we'll also take the tree down.
  Saturday routine has kicked in.

Providing for our Needy: Complications on Complications

  i spend too much time reading.
  But i think about what i read, & make connections too.
  Yesterday i began that gift book about TR, Mornings on Horseback.  McCullough begins with a couple chapters about TR's parents.

  Our 26th president set out to live up to his father's name and in the end eclipsed it.  Who knows these days that President Theodore Roosevelt was the son of Theodore Roosevelt?
  TR senior was the sort of philanthropist whose travels were greeted with a sigh of relief.  Not because he was an odious man; he was in fact very well-liked, but because he threw himself completely into his causes: personally, with his own considerable finances, and soliciting from his also wealthy friends.  One friend estimated he had a thousand dollars additional disposable income the year the Roosevelt family spent in Europe.
  He set up museums and homes for NYC orphans.  During the Civil War, he approached Lincoln about funding for the families of soldiers.  What he received was not  government funding, but backing to visit the troops and carry the soldiers' own money as designated by them home to their families.
  He spent most of the war years traveling on the project, often sleeping in tents and on trains, seldom seeing his own family, who had their own health problems.
  Nothing is mentioned of his appearances at the family firm during this time.
  Theodore Roosevelt senior did not fight in the union army, out of consideration to his Southern wife, but he cared about the plight of Union soldiers and their families.  And he backed it up with his life.

  Yesterday Diveboard Dave posted about the  "While Others Play" letter to the editor of the Indianapolis Star.
  Understandably the writer is frustrated by the scads of money going to fripperies while someone he loves is in need.  As am i.
  But we must remember the man has earned the money in an honest way, must be presumed to pay taxes honestly, and donates charitably.  The money is his, and whether we like it or not, he may do with it as he pleases.
  And that is not the entire picture.  The fancy guitars were made by craftsmen. The craftsmen were paid by former owners, but they were paid.
  Artists and craftsmen have a place in society.
  The fancy guitars were sold to this man by somebody.  Personally, i own some collectibles.  Some i paid for myself, $5 at a time over months.  Others are antiques inherited from deceased family members.
  When i sell them, i sincerely hope there is someone out there with the disposable income to buy them for something like they are supposed to be worth.
  My $5/month collectibles came from the Tyrol Valley of the Alps.  They came through numerous intermediaries.  The artists did not receive all the profit from them, but from what they did receive, they are able to continue to live in their beautiful valley.   i enjoy them as much as my art from local artists (which i also have some of, and have created some of).   Likely i would not have them without the intermediaries.  And the valley people, who have a decent living from the crafts, would be considerably poorer without these intermediaries.

  So, to gather up my threads, where are we?
  We can't dictate what others do with their funds.
  We can take an active part in asking, suggesting what they might do.      We can definitely take more part in caring for our own, both family and neighbors.

   The Arc of Indiana, in their Blueprint for Change, talks about "soft supports" in the community, family and friends, being part of the solution.  Carlene Crum, is a person who did just that.Her son required many hours of hands-on therapy.  In her book Something of Value,  she describes speaking in churches and other places, asking for volunteers to donate an hour a week to working with her son, meeting his needs.

  i don't care to point fingers at others.  There's too much to be done in this corner of the planet.

More about A Wrinkle in Time



  Madeleine L'Engle was a faith and reason Christian who was first of all a storyteller.  MyGuy says her science only holds up enough to hang the story on - i'm not the one to ask about that.  And my theology is not the same as hers, but what stories.  They are unquestionably faith stories, and faith-strenghtening stories..  
  Conservative Christians - and i do count myself loosely in the number - are often offended by L'Engle's books.  There are details in them that must be taken as part of a fantastic story.   Although a Newbery Award winner, A Wrinkle in Time "is on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000 at number 22."

  Throughout these three books, i was impressed by the continuity of the themes of the importance of active love, the control of our Creator over all, and joy in finding our God-ordained place in this world.  The Murry family is not a churchy family, but the supernatural beings interacting with them know and  reverence to God.  They quote Scripture in His praise and to encourage the young protagonists to do  the hard tasks  that need doing.  L'Engle looks at good and evil, conformity and being willing to be different, arrogance and humility, the vast spread of our smallest choices.
  A lot of the story is truly fantastic.  But God moves in fantastic ways, and these are after all stories, and scifi/fantasy stories at that.  Why shouldn't they be fantastic?  Fiction is about a suspension of disbelief in the details so that we can see a greater truth.
  Finally, i would like to share a quote from Madeleine L'Engle herself which sums up the ideas in these books:
. . .  what we must look for is not the destructive power but the vision of interrelatedness that is desperately needed on this fragmented planet. We are indeed part of a universe. We belong to each other; the fall of every sparrow is noted, every tear we shed is collected in the Creator's bottle. ”




Words on Wednesday


  More about what i'm reading --

  = Still reading Something of Value, by Carlene Crum.  It's shorter than an Agatha Christie mystery, but much meatier.  i'm reading it a little like a devotional, but not quite.

   = i've dipped into two new Christmas gift books, Mornings on Horseback, about TR's coming of age years, by David McCullough, and Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip, by Matthew Algeo.  Not that i've really read them yet, but they look really exciting.

 =  Mostly i've been reading Madeleine L'Engle's Time Trilogy, A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, and currently A Swiftly Tilting Planet.  With MyGuy and FB, i've also rewatched the movie A Wrinkle in Time.

  Apparently i've only gotten part of the story.  L'Engle wrote the books over many years, and after my boxed set was published, she wrote Many Waters, which sequentially inserts between Wind and Planet.   (These are the first three she wrote in the series.  She also wrote about the next generation characters, and some of those novels are included in a "Time Quintet," or possibly larger series.  i've not followed the storyline that far.)

  Anyway.  i don't propose to describe the plots of the stories here, but their effects on me.
  i first read them in the early 1980s.  i'd seen Wrinkle on the library shelves when i was a kid, and the whole idea of a wrinkle in time was scary.
  When i first read the boxed set, i was a new married young adult, and read them for coming of age stories.  They are, after all, young adult fiction.  And i enjoyed them at the time as such.
  Now, i am reading them at a deeper level.  i think any book with any substance can show more on subsequent readings.

 More on that in a future post. . . .

Deconstructing the Quilt

  This quilt had seen better days.
  Actually it was no one's special quilt by the time it came to us.
  i don't even know who made it.  It was no longer in really good shape when we got it.  A few years back MyGuy decided it was the best thing we had for a draftstopper.
  Most of that time it's been shedding its batting over the floor.
  Not good.
blue stripes: new draftstopper
patchwork quilt on right, with burgundy backing at top
  When my niece told me she was sewing Christmas gifts, i told her that her uncle would like a draftstopper.  Actually, i was tired of the shed batting.
  Old quilts shed worse than corgis.
  And i promised her the remains of the quilt after Christmas.
  So when she delivered on the nice draftstopper, i knew that the quilt needed to come apart.  It needs to be washed, and that batting is definitely not going through the machine.  The quilttop and the base will need to be put in separate pillow cases, though i think both will survive.  Without the batting.

  It's amazing what work went into this quilt that nobody loved.
  i have no idea how old it was.  i do know it was old when i first saw it, back when i was a kid. So it dates from at least my mom's childhood, back in the 20s, 30s.  Maybe as recently as the 40s.  It was made by someone, or a group of someones, in her family, or people they knew.
  Made by hand.  Hand stitched and hand tied.  There seems to be some fabric in it that was new at the time (flour sacks?), as well as the pieces of worn dresses and shirts.
  The backing must have been entirely new fabric for the quilt.

  i got a trash can and began cutting and ripping the batting off.  Because even though it had been shedding too much for too long, most of it was still there.  Max helped me some with pulling and cutting the red yarn that tied the layers together.
  The entire process took maybe 45 minutes, probably less.
  The making of it way back when probably took months.

  And i'm excited to see what my niece will make of the recycled fabric.

Saturday Sisters - Anna


an occasional series of meditations

 
How blessed are those who
dwell in Your house!
They are ever praising You! Psalm 84:4
    This woman was not normal.  She never left God's house, the temple, and apparently she never did any "useful" work there either.  So how did she fill those seventy or eighty years after her husband died?

  With worship.  Pure worship.  Worship "in spirit and in truth," as Jesus later said.  She prayed, filling her mind with God's word instead of her body with food.  As she remembered how God had interacted with her people in history, she came to know Him herself, and so could recognize Him when He appeared before her, as promised, as a tiny baby.

You might think that we, with our full lives and busy normality, have nothing in common with this ancient, frail weirdo.  I mean, I'd love to worship all the time too, but there's the husband, the job, the kids. . .

Did you know that Anna had an obstacle too?  The temple was set up for men.  There were three public areas: the outer one for nonJews, a middle one, and the central one.   The real worship ceremonies took place in the central area, called the Court of Israel, while Anna was never allowed past the middle area, the Court of Women.  She lived in a society where the men actually thanked God for not making them women!

So.  We have responsibilities, but she was shut out.  Can we truly say we worship God with all our hearts, even so?
Anna lived most of her life in God's house,
 worshipfully, joyfully awaiting God's Son.

 
There was nowhere she'd rather be than with her God.

Luke 2:36-38; Psalm 84

  So God has given both His promise and His oath.
  These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie.
  Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can take new courage, for we 
can hold on to His promise with confidence.
  This confidence is like a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. 
 It leads us through the curtain of heaven into God's inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us.      . . . . . . 
  Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.
Hebrews 6:16-20a, 10:23

Communication & Trust


   i don't remember why we took this photo.
   Possibly it was a safety valve for getting angry.
   You see, Max wasn't supposed to bring the entire cereal box into the living room, there being so much potential for the whole thing spilling & being so messy.
  But by the time he was this age, i would've known the difficulty of conveying this to him.
   i deal in words.  He does not.  Even less so back then.  i have, by well-placed questions, caused people to reconsider:
                -  the usefulness of 5 syllable words over one syllable ones
                - look at different political and religious stances that they had previously held as perhaps not so off the wall as they'd thought before.  Sometimes just by the gentle questions someone will even do an about-face on the issue.
    But i cannot convey to one autistic kid that not being allowed to bring the entire box into the living room does not equate to, there is no more food for you, ever.
   Because that is what it is about.

  Max was about 5 in this photo.  He is 21 now.  He no longer brings cereal boxes into the living room. But communication is still a problem.
  To figure out what he wants, we do a 20 questions sort of dance.  "Is there anything you want to talk to the doctor about today?"  "YES!"  "Okay.  Is it your medicine or something different?"  "Medicine."  
"Do you want a different medicine, or more of this one, or less of this one?"  "Different medicine."  "What bothers you about this one?"
  Here i followed with a short list of possible side effects with a request for more choices. "More choices."
   Is this getting tedious to you?  It is to me.  Several minutes later, we figured it out, and had a major communication triumph to bring to the doctor.
 Later still, we left the office with different medicine, which seems better for him.

  There's also trouble with trust issues.  While he has enough experience now to know we'll feed him, he also has enough experience to know his memory is way better than mine.  Once i said we'd go to a Sesame Street day, then forgot.  My own events don't always get on the calendar, and i take it in stride.  Max couldn't tell me what i forgot, and we dealt with a major meltdown.  It was a couple weeks later before i remembered Oh, yes, THAT'S what that was about.

  We're still trying to figure out the communication thing.  As he's grown, i've had more time to read about it.  (When Max was in preschool, his wonder-full, well-meaning teacher gave me a huge binder about how to communicate.  i was so overwhelmed with the dailiness of living with him, that i forgot i had it & only recently uncovered it.  It would have been better if someone could have gone through it with me.)

  If you'd like some tips about communicating with people with autism, the Indiana Resource Center for Autism has great articles.  Here's a short one specifically geared to communicating, helping us see their point of view:
http://www.iidc.indiana.edu/index.php?pageId=519

  Another take on trust and communication comes from fellow blogger Dave, who works with adults in the special needs community.  While the story he tells here is representational of many individuals, not one in particular, attempting to put yourself in Carla's shoes can give some insights on why trust and communication can be difficult:
http://diveboard-dave.blogspot.com/2011/12/fictional-friday-carla.html

Words on Wednesday: a Peek at what i've been reading

  Lately i've been skipping around.  Several books are unfinished.  Here is a selection:

- A Season in the Desert: Making Time Holy, by W. Paul Jones  Some practical devotional advice, some of Father Paul's personal jouney, some frankly too metaphysical for me to follow, it's fascinating.

- various Agatha Christie stories: Hallowe'en Party, The Clocks, Passenger to Frankfort, Come Tell Me How You Live, "The Water Bus."  There may have been some other of her novels; these read quickly for me.
   Come Tell Me How You Live is different.  It is a "faction" of her life as an archeologist's life in Syria.  It's a much more leisurely read, with insights on how people in the area think.  For example, Jezebel is wicked not because she painted her face, but because she looked out the window.

- Jill Paton Walsh's continuation of the Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane stories, The Attenbury Emeralds.

- i picked up a summer issue of The New Yorker at Borders' going out of business sale & have been enjoying it.

- i keep poring over, not actually reading, some scrapbook magazines and an art book on collage and another on sketchbook journaling.  i'm getting started in the latter.  Learned some fascinating stuff about the Halifax explosion of 1917, where one of the artists grew up.

- i seldom read it on the right day, but i read The Indianapolis Star.  Apparently they still consider me one of their education bloggers.  i just got an assignment from them.  i'd set the required article aside to read later, so i needed to find it and still have to read it.  But i already have opinions.

- When i worked the Discipleship walk last fall, i met a wonderful lady named Carlene Crum.  She was our prayer warrior, and she had written a book about her experiences in the 1980s raising a special needs child.  Last week i bought a copy of her book, Something of Value: a mother's spiritual journey with a special needs child, and it also is onmy reading shelf.  The short chapters make Ben's disability real while dwelling more on Carlene's journey that made her the person she is today.  i'm reading it slowly and digesting the thoughts that Carlene lived through in the 17 years of Ben's life.

- Another quick read was was Henry vanDyke's novella, The Story of the Other Wise Man.  Based on a dream he received at the end of a year of pain, it tells how a 4th wise man kept getting distracted in his journey to visit the Christ Child by people in need.

- i'm not familiar with Smith Magazine, but when i saw the library book compiling responses to their six word memoir challenge, i had to check it out.  They vary from funny to stupid to profound - actually the gamut of human experience.  It's called Not Quite What I was Planning.

- Could be a pipe dream, but i'm hoping to get a family vacation to Florida in the next couple months.  So there's a few planning guides on the shelf too.

- oh yes, and enough PTA stuff to make me go deer in the headlights.

Time to stop talking about BOOKS and get to work.  Any hot reading tips out there?

Saturday Sisters - Mary


an occasional series of meditations

"How can this happen?" Mary asked the angel. . . .Luke 1:34a,38, NIrV

   She said yes. 
    In the middle of her ordinary life, an angel appeared, told her of the impending miracle, gave her a choice:
                Will you give God His way in your life?
    Did she think, at that moment, what it would cost her?
    She knew that, in the normal course of things, what the angel proposed was impossible, but she also knew that, with God, all things are possible.  Didn't He make humans out of dirt?  And the dirt itself out of nothing? 
    Did she realize that, if she of great faith wondered how it was possible, the rest of her world would consider her an immoral, lying fool?  That her fiance, that just, honest Joseph, would be repulsed, would seriously consider how best to break things off with her? 
    Maybe at that moment, all she knew was that the God of the universe was inviting her to become part of something bigger than herself.
    And that He would be with her through whatever came.
"I serve the Lord," Mary said.  "May it happen to me just as you said it would."Luke 1:38a, NIrV
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, 
and the weakness of God is stronger than men. . . .  
that no man should boast before God.

                               I Corinthians 1:25,29



working out the Christmas tree thing


  When i was growing up, December was the month of parties.
  Grownup parties, that is.
  We  put up our tree on the day after Thanksgiving and by the first Sunday in December our house was filled with people.  First it was my mom's sorority Christmas party, and we often had my parents' Sunday school class over.  Closer to Christmas, we had my dad's family in.  Since he was part of a large family who pretty much all had large families, that was a houseful.
  Seldom, though, did my mom's family come.  Her sister had claimed that event, barring the emergency of my dad being on call for the holiday.
  Our Christmas tree went up early, and stayed up late.  It was a central prop for the parties, complete with the Nativity set beneath.

  When i married, there was a bit of culture shock at Christmas time.
  Our tree was always, within my memory anyway, an artificial one, accompanied by the brief but passionate tale from my mom of The Year the Christmas Tree Burned.  
  For some reason i am uncomfortable in a home with a "live" tree.
  Do you see what's coming?
  MyGuy had grown up having one of those "live" trees every year.  With much grumbling, he acquiesced to the "fake" one, admitting that real ones had drawbacks.  Sure, they smell nice, but you have to   buy a new one every time and keep it watered and vacuum up needles.  Never mind fire hazards!

   The really difficult thing, though, was the timing of setting it up.  You see, he didn't just want to wait unti December.  MyGuy says if you get out Christmas stuff too early, you wear out the season.  To not "wear out the season," that means waiting until at least the 20th, preferably the 21st or 2nd.
  It took years for him to reallize that, for me, there could be no shopping, Christmas cards, any preparation whatever, without that tree in place.  There were a few years along the way where we didn't put one up at all, because if you wait until the 20th, there is simply no point.  

It hasn't always been easy.  It was really hard to not put a tree up the day after Thanksgiving, but i eventually realized that doing it that early is not an option.  
  So we worked it out.  Eventually.  Compromise.  We're worth it.
  Christmas is too important to fight over.

Saturday Sisters - Elisabeth


an occasional series of meditations.

from Luke 1
Think of ways to encourage each other
to outbursts of love and good deeds.
Hebrews 10:24NLT

  For centuries God had had no word to give to His people.
  In a culture that put much store in the meaning of names, it is fitting that the next word He gave came through a devoted couple whose names were Zechariah, "God Remembers," and Elisabeth, "(His) Oath."

  It started out as an ordinary workday for her husband when he got the news. It was not an ordinary day for Elisabeth when he came home from work mute and somehow let her know there was going to be a baby.
  Zechariah had been convinced this would not happen, though they had been praying for a child for many long years. Elisabeth believed. Did she remember that this had happened before, to Sarah and Abraham?

  A few months later, her young relative Mary arrived unnaounced  for a lengthy stay. Rather than regarding this as a major inconvenience, Elisabeth listened to the still, small voice of God and was thrilled to see Mary. Elisabeth recognized Mary, not merely as a relative whom she loved, not as a girl who had misbehaved, but as a young woman of great faith, the recipient of a blessing from God even greater than her own.
  From the great well of her faith, experience and emotions, Elisabeth gave.

"You are blessed, because you believed
that the Lord would do what He said."
Luke 1:45NLT

When Elisabeth knew she was at last going to receive
her heart's desire, she continued to trust and obey God.

It's not about the Movie


  Today Max was picked up at school for the first time by a Caregiver Support Person  (Caregiver Support Person).  The IDEA was, they would go, at our expense, to see a movie while Mom (the caregiver) does something for Mom, other than work or go to school.
  This is something that we are - horrors - ENTITLED  to by virtue of being on 3 waiting lists for Medicaid waivers.  You do not want me to go there.  It's entirely too complicated.
   For now, we can say this is a step on the way to Max not ending up eventually in Carl's situation.  Max is 21 years old, but functions more like a 3rd or 4th grader.
  Next year he will no longer be eligible for free public education.  Presumably there will be some job in place by then, but he will not be supporting himself for a long time, if ever.  We are involved parents, but there is a limit to what we can do for Max.  He will need other people involved in his life.
   People who are not family or school people.
   Hence the theoretical movie outing.
   So far, Caregiver Support is a bit of a hassle and a lot of worry for me.  It would be a lot simpler to let Max veg out on the couch with the PBS afternoon kids' shows.  But he needs the exposure to other people and experiences, which we would not be able to afford, and i need to learn how to work with the system so that eventually, when he needs more, it will be in place.
  i would like to also guide others, but i feel shaky enough about our situation.  Heck, i feel shaky enough about the whole ENTITLEMENT notion in the first place.  But i know what my kid needs, and this is the best i can see to get it for him.

  Actually they didn't go to a movie.  Max ran onto the bus and had to be removed, then he called me for reassurance.  i told him he could trust CGSP and he should go see the movie & have a good time.
  In a few minutes, CGSP called me from outside the theatre.  Max was insisting he wanted to come home and not see the movie.
  i told CGSP that if he doesn't want to see the movie, that's fine.  (Remember, it's not about the movie.)  But i want him to do SOMETHING  before he comes home.  i talked to Max again.  Where would you like to go for a snack?  Hardee's?  Steak n Shake?  McDonald's?  McDonald's, he says.  Ok, i say, then you ask CGSP and she'll take you there, then home.
  So i talk to CGSP again, and ask if she knows where a nearby McD's is.  She doesn't; i tell her.
  And they're off again.

  Gosh, it would be so SIMPLE to have let him come home on the bus and veg.

It's not about the movie.  It's about the MAX'S FUTURE.

A Little Help from My Friends


 i am very much an introvert, sometimes even to the point of being a recluse.  However, one thing i am passionate about is the necessity of friends.
  i enjoy, and NEED, my friends as well as my time alone.
  When i posted a few weeks ago about 10 Hints to Guess My Favorite Comic Book Superhero, two of my hints are that he's an ordinary guy whose superpower is friends.  (He's The Phantom.)
  We all need a little help from our friends.  Friends are fun, they keep us sane.  It may not be so dramatic as with The Phantom, but they save our life.

Max and Friends
  Friends are very difficult for individuals with autism to have. i've read a lot about the subject, possibly have some understanding from the inside, i know that relating to Max can be difficult though rewarding.  Like any other young man, Max needs peers, yet they are even less certain of what to do with him than we are at home.

  i found this article

Autism Therapy More Successful When Peers Involved Too

interesting.  It seems that research bears me out.  Relating to these wonder-full people is neither simple nor natural, yet vital.
  It also helps explain why most of the reports i hear of special needs kids in regular schools are stories of heartache, where the student struggles to learn material perhaps not matched to their abilities while being bullied or ignored for being different.  Very few are the heartwarming tales of acceptance that i come across, though they should be more universal, routine even.
  Meanwhile, Max is happy at his specialized public school, where, on every IEP, it is noted as the disadvantage to being there, "no interaction with typical peers."  At this point in his career, i don't plan to push to have him elsewhere. Friends need not be school friends.  Yet somehow we must find them.
  Friends.  They can be your superpower too.

Time and Creativity

  Tomorrow is Breakfast with Santa at school.
  i'm a little frazzled and i should go to bed.
  Actually, i should've stayed home tonight instead of going scrapbooking, but the creative release was good.
  When i left school this afternoon, the games we were expecting hadn't yet arrived (as i edit after the Breakfast they did indeed come, and were much enjoyed) and one lonely game was in place for the kids.
  i spent most of the evening making games.
  A couple of sheets of scrapbook paper, cut into 12 cards each, and here's a matching game.
  A sheet of foamcore, and some pens, and a half hour, and here's a tree to stick bows on and decorate.

  The amazing thing was the awed comments i got from the women around me.
  It's just a throwaway project which will probably be trash before noon tomorrow.  Three steps and a bit of time, anyone could do it.

  Or could they?
  i found this a fun, relaxing project, but the women around me, all creative in their own ways, doing amazingly beautiful work, got stressed at the very idea of attempting this simple tree, even after my three step tutorial.
  Do the framework in brown, needles in green, add more needles until it looks right.  The last ones weren't even necessarily on framework,
  Everyone knows what a tree looks like, right?
  i told MyGuy about this, and he said, "How long have you been looking at trees and drawing them?  Count that time too."
  Well, decades actually.  For having spent that long drawing one stupid tree, it's pretty ugly.  For 30 minutes on the poster, 2 minutes on the tutorial, maybe not too bad.
  As my first art teacher, Nadine Starken, said, "Learning to draw is learning to see."  i think i spend more time looking than drawing.

  But i think another part of the problem is time.  We're in such a hurry for everything.  i really believe most people, if they allowed themselves to start, would get to Step 2and say, "See?  I told you - can't do it!"
  i once spent every minute of three hours telling a better painter than i "Yes, you're right.  It is a mess.  But you're not done yet.  Keep going."  She would have thrown that piece in the trash a hundred times otherwise, but, by the  time she was finished, she loved it.

  At first, when i began my tree game, i just wanted something quick and cheap.  Then i started having fun with it, adding dots for a cranberry garland and some bluejays and a red pot in the snow.  i could've left it at just the tree, but more creativity comes with more time.

  For a further, even more fascinating, illustration of this, see Susan Gaylord's Time and Creativity post, which describes what happens when young children are asked to complete an obvious drawing, first in ten seconds, then in ten minutes.
  It is amazing.

Life with Two Browsers


  Well, Chrome is here.
  As Boom assured me, it is simply another web browser.
  i was happy with Firefox, and i still use it for many things, but there is one important difference.
  i did need Chrome, because for whatever obscure, probably fixable if there were inclination, reason, Firefox does not recognize my Google profile.  This makes it impossible to comment on blogs and do other neat stuff with Firefox, but that's why i have Chrome.
  And at least until i figure out how to turn off that annoying Spellcheck, i have Firefox for composing blog entries.