Ode to Blue Skies

You slap me in the face

like a bucket of ice water on the fifty yard line.

I wake from my stupor

to spot seagulls swirling above my mother’s head,

corn chips drawing them closer and closer,

their shapes softly silhouetted in your sapphire sky.

A cup is gripped tightly by an admirer

in the distance.

Time stops.

Then, a black crow lands and

the cobalt fades to powder and salmon.

Lingering here,

I understand,

but only briefly.

A chill wind brushes against my cheek

and you’re gone.

Floral Tattoos

Slice of Life 2020: Day 23

About two weeks ago, before the common era, I was asked by a friend if I wanted to make flower tattoos. These aren’t parlor tattoos. They are real flowers glued gently onto flesh colored kinesiology tape. The purpose of these little gems is to replace the bulky flower corsages so popular at proms and homecomings. After wearing a corsage for a short time, any young woman can attest to the challenges of keeping the item pinned properly in place and the flowers from being damaged.

Enter the flower tattoo! The original idea for this came from passionflowersue over on Instagram. Flower tattoos just stick to your arm or your shoulder or wherever you want them to embellish. Made up of smaller flowers, they’re beautiful and hold up perfectly for hours.

Here’s what we did…

First, my friend Tracy bought a load of colorful flowers. She went out in the yard and collected even more, so that ultimately we had a forest full of little flowers and greenery on a big table. She also brought colored kinesiology tape and E6000 glue found in the Walmart craft department. She cut out eye-shaped pieces of the tape with regular scissors.

Next, she told us to sit and start building the arrangement. There was a chill outside which made for happy, perky blossoms. To start, I squeezed a thick line of the glue onto the fabric piece. Then, I nudged little sprays of succulents, tiny white flowers, tea roses, fern, and wild violets into the clear glue. The glue stayed pliable for about 30 minutes. I kept adding more and more flowers until it was packed and full.

Then, we misted them with water and took a picture.

Now, if I were to place this onto a young lady’s wrist as a corsage, I would just unpeel the back of the fabric (K-tape) and stick it onto the skin. That tape is designed to stay in place all day and under damp conditions like athletes would encounter playing volley ball.

What do you think?

Lord willing, when things get back to normal, I’d like to make these with some mom-friends for homecoming. Its a really fun activity to do with people you like being around.

A Silver Lining

Slice of Life 2020: Day 20

Flowers, birds, bees, sunshine and a little spare time. That’s all it took to get us outside today. I bought a new battery for my second camera, plugged it in and off we went to see spring. Art class will be held outside!

Stepping away from our screens, we ventured across the street to a neighbor’s yard. There we saw snow drops, daffodils, camellias, and violets.

“Your shot’s a little blue,” I told my son and pointed to the white balance icon. He changed it over to sunshine, a first for this year. After he made that change, all his photos then reflected the proper golds and greens of the day.

This short outing was such a nice change of pace. There was no band, baseball, or meetings to keep our day compartmentalized, which gave us the freedom to just breathe in the fresh air outside. We didn’t have to be anywhere or do anything! That’s the silver lining to this cloud we find ourselves in right now: a second chance to slow things down and enjoy the people and life around us.

Handmade Icon Ornaments

you'll need brushes, modpodge, wood and icons

Handmade ornaments are always so personal and welcoming in a parish setting. At St. Basil’s, our first set was worn out by many loving and curious little hands. So, I decided this was the year to make a new and improved set that could withstand the love and storage abuse. I’m sharing this process with you in the hope that you’ll want to give it a try.

Here are the simple steps:

First of all, you need a Paul Bunyon of a husband to slice two dozen 1/4 inch circles from a medium sized hard wood branch. Now, we don’t cut trees down here every week, but we happened to be clearing some brush in our backyard and had the branches available. If you aren’t comfortable slinging a chainsaw around, go to Michaels or other similar craft store and buy a bag full of wood slices. That’s a whole lot easier.

Next, you’ve got to seal the wood. I learned this the hard way. On my first try, I sprayed gold paint directly onto the wood slices and it just absorbed right into the wood. On the second try, I sprayed polyurethane on the slices to coat and seal the wood. Then, I spray-painted all the slices gold on both sides. You can find cans of gold spray paint at Home Depot, Walmart, and craft stores.

Finally, I took a drill and bored holes into the top of each painted slice to make a sturdy place to thread a ribbon through the ornament. Finished with the wood preparation, now I was ready for the fun stuff: pasting and decorating!

A good quality image is needed for each icon ornament. I went digging in our “holy trash” pile of old calendars and bulletins for images and also printed some from the internet. We decided to use images of Jesus and the saints related to the season: St. Herman of Alaska, St. Lucia, and St. Nicholas. I’ve attached a page with small versions of the images we used here.

Once you’ve gotten the images you want, gather medium sized paint brushes, a bottle of Modpodge, glue, glitter and a spool of narrow ribbon. Glitter makes this project extra fun. There wasn’t a single kid that made an ornament that didn’t want gold glitter all around the icon.

At church on the first Sunday in December, we gathered up the kids, young and old to make the ornaments. I had the images already cut out along with the Modpodge, glue and glitter waiting.

Each child selected an image and got to work. First, I had her glue the image down on the wood. Then, she dipped her brush into the Modpodge and painted this mixture over the entire surface, until the whole side was completely covered and saturated. A couple of moms helped their very young children with the process. We also had a few teens join in the project. After the ornaments dried a few minutes, the glittering began. Basically, the kids had free, artistic reign here. Some glittered ALOT, others just a bit. Last, a gold or red ribbon was threaded through the drilled hole at the top and tied into a loop.

The ornaments dried for several days and went right onto the tree. I think they turned out beautiful. Hopefully, they will hold up a few years. If you give this a try, or have done this before, please leave a comment about your experience below.

Why Did the Chickens Cross the Road?

Well, that’d be to get their picture taken!

Boredom and heat have been known to drive many a sweating person to do things out of the ordinary. Some people pant and complain. Others go mad. But, a few are driven to do featherbrained projects for sheer frivolity. Recently, we fell into the later group. With temperatures soaring into the upper 90’s for months, the lawn baked crispy brown and the elephant ears drooping with exhaustion, we were ready to fly the coop. All the outdoor subjects were scorched from the intense sun and heat. Summer has been on us like a chicken on a June bug.

chicken portraiture

My dad was in town with his camera and we were pecking around for a photo project. Capturing water droplets on the weary elephant ear plants was a bust. That’s when we took inspiration from the chicken coop, as we often do. At least chickens don’t turn brown and shrivel up in the hot September sun. They do pant though. Sultry chickens, in their element, remind us that we aren’t alone struggling against heat and dirt.

Somehow, we managed to set up the dark side of the reflector disk and attempt chicken portraits, just like your typical back-to-school pictures in the fall. It took a little wrangling and a few attempts to get the gals to hold still. Plus, they were a little stinky. But, eventually, we found a way to set them on a black fabric-covered block and capture a few in-focus profile and side angle shots. In the end, the hens calmed for a few seconds and I took a couple of head shots. It was a riot experimenting with poses and back drops. Gabe even brought his green screen.

Alas! These chickens didn’t have to cross the road to get their photos taken. They just needed to perch and hold still.