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Okay, here’s the deal… this front page is my regular, ongoing, run-of-the-mill “whatever’s on my mind today” blog. The page “Invasive Species” is a murder mystery work in progress that I’m posting for anyone who is interested in following along, as it unfolds. If you like it, subscribe to the blog and you’ll get a notification when new pages are posted. And as always – I love comments! Enjoy…
All photos are “clickable” for a larger image
So a few weeks ago, Sara Irene Smith tossed out a challenge to her social media partners in crime regarding Earth Day and her company’s product. Sara is the founder of Wrappily, a company that advertises itself as offering “chic gift wrap with an eco-friendly twist.” Oh, save me a couple hundred words by checking it out yourself here and then come back.
Did you? Cool, yeah? Anyway, back to the story…
She offered to send a supply of gift wrap to anyone who was willing to use it for a project and photograph the results, to be used in conjuction with Earth Day.
Of course I raised my cyber hand.
Now most normal people would receive the paper and use it in a nice gift-wrap kinda way. But since I’m on this insane Mod Podge-ing cheap used furniture tangent, so that’s what I decided to tackle. She chose the design, so when I received my goodie bag, I had two designs to choose from: a green/blue abstract pattern and the one you’ll see in the following pictures. I have to say – I loved the product, and immediately wanted to buy people presents, just so I could wrap them. But back to the project …
Couldn’t find the right piece of furniture at Salvation Army so I decided to re-vamp my own little beat up particle board night stand. I think I bought it as a do-it-yourself piece of furniture for my son’s first bedroom. He turns 21 next month. So….
It needed some help.
My bedroom is an odd assortment of pinks and burgundies, so I figured I’d make this match. First step: spray paint.
Second step: remember to not leave a heavy piece of particle board furniture on a flimsy plastic platform. It fell over and took me forever to unstick all the grass from the side. Yes, I swore a lot.
After painting all areas except the ones that I planned to cover with the Wrappily paper, I was ready to begin. The paper – which has a different print on each side, btw – had soft creases, as gift wrap does. For this project, I decided to iron the sheets, to smooth out the lines a bit. Note: this is the opposite side, and also a very cool print.
Normally I use a heavier paper, so this was challenging. It’s newsprint, which is PERFECT for gift wrap but a little light for Mod Podge-ing. But I’ve done it a lot so I made sure to give it plenty of drying time between coats.
Originally, my plan was to use the paper on the top, drawer front, and bottom skirt panel. But when I did it, although I liked the look in general, I knew it would be too much for my room. I simply have too many other crazy designs going on in there.
After walking around it in my living room for a couple of days, I finally decided to change the front panel to a solid burgundy:
I thought that worked a lot better in my room, so I’m glad I made the change. The next step is always the most challenging for me … finding a drawer pull that I like. I couldn’t find anything in Lahaina, and I really needed to get the darn thing out of my living room (remote controlling “around it” was an interesting gymnastic maneuver) so I reverted to a trick I used when I couldn’t find drawer pulls for my desk. I raided my bead stash and came up with this, as a makeshift drawer pull:
Isn’t that cute? I really like it. Cautionary note about beads as drawer pulls – make sure that whatever material you use to string them is strong, and likewise for the method of fastening it. I strung them on a hemp cord (hemp is nearly indestructible) and knotted it like a sailor on steroids, on the inside.
Well, I finally got it back where it belongs and here it is:
I still would like to do some sort of finishing around the top edges, where the particle board has gotten a little funky, but haven’t figured out what or how. But I will. In the meantime, I love my spiffy little updated nightstand, and am now happily a Wrappily customer forever.
Sorry, had to do the “happily Wrappily” thing. Couldn’t resist.
Anyway … Mahalo, Sara. That was fun!
I was a fourth grader, and had spent Sunday at my grandparents’ farm. I didn’t care whether we left and got home BEFORE The Ed Sullivan Show started, or whether we watched it at Baba’s and left after. All I knew was – my ten year old self just had to see what the hype was all about.
By this time, I already was aware of how influenced we could by our friends or the cumulative roll of public opinion. I couldn’t articulate it in those terms, but it made me cautious. Excited but cautious. Like … all this hoopla could be a crock.
So I waited. Ed did his introduction, calling them “youngsters from Liverpool.” I remember that he pronounced their name funny – everyone else said it was though it was spelled Beadles, but he said it, either as Bea Tells or Bea’les, I found that odd.
Girls screamed their way through the intro, while my parents and uncles cracked jokes. The camera switched to the performing stage and there were the Beatles. Weird hair (for the times) combed forward, matching suits, looking pretty much like they did in photos we’d seen. Okay, let’s see what this —
“one, two, three four…”
“Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you, tomorrow I’ll miss you, remember I’ll always be true…”
From the first three words, I was transported. Where? I don’t know. It wasn’t just that I developed an immediate crush on Paul. It was about the whole experience. All these years later I still cannot explain it. The best I can do is say this – some gut-deep part of me that I didn’t know existed was opened, awakened. It was exciting. Scary exciting. We had laughed at the photos of British teens fainting in a state of hysteria but as I watched them, I understood. As dramatic as this might seem to those who were not “there” – it was a true paradigm shift.
And the first of many such shifts, I have to say. For the next six years, they did it over and over again. Every Beatles album took us someplace new, someplace we hadn’t even imagined. And the musical world followed.
As the band broke up, I continued to listen to them individually. Loved Plastic Ono Band, thought All Things Must Pass was heaven. Switched loyalties among the four of them over the years (yes, Ringo, too), thought they all went on to great individual careers but I always missed the alchemy of “The Fab Four.” When I later learned what the word synergy meant, I understood it by thinking, “oh, like the Beatles.” Alchemy, yes. The universal elixir, turning base metals to gold. That’s what it was.
In the past twenty years or so, younger friends have asked in in total earnestness:
“What was so great about the Beatles?”
When asked that, I pause. I can tell them that everything they ever did, they were the first ones to do it. I can site classics like Yesterday and rattle off a dozen tunes from the Lennon/McCartney song writing team. I can point to George’s superior guitar skills, even at the young age of 22, or John’s cutting edge insights or Paul’s ability to know an audience. But the truth is, I can’t explain it.
You had to be there. You simply had to be there.
I am from the mainland, a second generation American from Eastern European ancestry. THAT is my background, my history. My grandparents gave up everything they had and everyone they knew just for the privilege of living in America. Never regretted it, never looked back.
I grew up in the same house for the first 18 years of my life before wanderlust got ahold of me. I moved from a steel town in Ohio to Miami, Florida, back to another part of of Ohio, to Denver, Colorado, Napa, California, Los Angeles and finally – nearly 28 years ago – to Hawaii. First to the Big Island, then to Maui.
Yes, like so many others, I came to Hawaii from somewhere else. I am not Hawaiian, I don’t (to my knowledge) try to “be” Hawaiian. At least I hope I haven’t turned into one of those.
Nevertheless, every January 17th, no matter how happy I am (and this is a very happy year thus far), I am overcome by a sadness. The word sombre comes to mind. On this day, 121 years ago, the government of my country, the land that my grandparents gave up everything for, overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy. Why? Basically because the Queen’s desire for a new constitution which would bring a balance of power (BALANCE, not absolute) back to the Hawaiians might be a little troublesome to the American businessmen’s long term plans of trade and commerce. Seriously. That’s why. The Hawaiian Islands was a monarchical kingdom that the US, represented by a small handful of men, then “conquered” for our convenience and profitability.
Sound familiar? On my more radical days, it feels like it’s happening right here again with the whole 1% vs. 99% thing. Or maybe not. I don’t really know.
But back to the point. When I first came to Hawaii, this revelation about the overthrow confused and upset me, made me sort of uncomfortable, even embarrassed. I’m not sure why; my people were getting stomped on in Europe while this all happened. But it did.
Now it just makes me sad.
I see a lot of year’s end “letting go” posts as I scroll through my Facebook page and I decided this time I’m going in the opposite direction. So last evening, a friend and I had a conversation that we called The Best of 2013. We casually and without a lot of direction compiled our own list of Favorites from this year that is ending. Starting with the usual Favorite Movie, Favorite Song (I couldn’t come up with one) type stuff, we eventually wandered into increasingly more specific and ultimately more meaningful terrain. Just a few of our 2013 Favorites were:
Favorite new toy
Favorite phone pic
Favorite Facebook post (neither of us really came up with one)
Favorite thing to wear
Favorite holiday experience
Favorite new friend
That last one gave us each pause. What was my favorite moment in 2013?
The funny thing was, it came to me instantly. In a year that held a million wonderful memories during a great mainland vacation, my favorite moment took place only one island away. I was at a restaurant with a friend, listening to a jazz trio after a killer great meal. The lead guy invited his niece up to sing “When Sunny Gets Blue,” one of my all-time favorite songs and I was so happy. Could this night possibly get any better? She took the mic, opened her mouth and … totally SUCKED. We were about five feet away from the band and I tried my damnedest to keep a straight face. It took a great evening and made it absolutely perfect.
Now the memory is a little bittersweet, as the past is – well – the past. So what’s the takeaway? What, from that moment (as well as the other Favorites) do I take with me into 2014? I guess it would be along the lines of: Be present. Surround myself with the people and environment that I truly enjoy. Allow myself to feel that all is right in my world. And above all – don’t take any of it TOO seriously.
Wishing you the same in 2014. And hoping you get to bring your “favorites” along for the ride…
For years I’ve tried to distill the meaning of Christmas into its essence, into something that doesn’t divide us, but instead offers something we can all relate to. And for me, it comes down to one concept:
There the world was, a few thousand years ago, in the middle of political unrest, caught between a burgeoning economy and an expanding empire that utilized an increasingly brutal use of coercion to maintain that empire. In other words, things were kind of a mess.
In the middle of all this, a child was humbly born who would, as a young man, try to explain that rather than brute force and politics, the better (and frankly, more practical) route would be love and compassion. And to top it off, he tried to explain that every one of us carried the potential for those traits – love and compassion – within us. Really? Dang!
Things are a little dark out there this year (arguing over whether to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? Really?) but for me, a good focus for this time of year is to believe that he was right – that love and compassion do, in fact, exist within us all.
My wish for us all (myself included, lol) is that we are able to access those traits within ourselves.
Hope. Now THAT’s a gift.
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My opinions tend to be on the liberal side, particularly regarding social equality. I think the fuss we kick up regarding race, religion, sexual orientation are just ridiculous. Good grief, I can’t believe we are still defending barriers that exist only because we created them. But THAT’S JUST ME.
Nevertheless, I know there are people that I like – and even love – who don’t necessarily share my perspective on these issues. Now if I am in a ‘real life, in person’ situation where something is said or done that is grossly counter to those beliefs, I will speak up. Calmly and (hopefully) with respect, and I have no qualms about doing so.
But I don’t look for those moments. If I encounter someone who I know has very different beliefs in certain areas, here’s what I know: A) We both know we each think the other is nuts, and B) we both know we will not change the other’s mind. So we establish a bit of a social comfort zone. I don’t think it’s phony or cowardly; it is simply a mutual willingness to tread carefully on areas of disagreement so we may focus on the things we have in common. It’s a way to create a little moment of positive connection in this crazy world. No, I don’t want to know how you think my president is the worst thing that’s happened to us and no, you don’t want to know that I’d – as an ordained member of Christ Consciousness – would love to perform the marriage ceremony for my friend to his future husband. We usually avoid those areas. What would stepping into it accomplish?
However, I’ll be honest – I would not speak as candidly to that person as I would to a friend who I know shares my beliefs. And again, I’m hoping it’s not an indication of being a coward. I honestly don’t think so. I interact with many people in different environments in my life and I tend to lead with whatever the person(s) and I have in common. So – for better or for worse – I’m slightly different in the various aspects of my life. I’m not afraid of being disliked, so I’d like to think the root is more along the lines of courtesy and consideration.
But social media has changed all that. I’m thinking of a recent Facebook melee, but that’s only one instance of a larger development. Suddenly, my and everyone else’s comments are made in a room full of everyone we’ve ever known in our lives. On one hand, it’s interesting because we’re learning things about each other that we might not have otherwise known. But on the other hand, in many cases we were probably happier NOT knowing!
Add this to the fact that we are already incredibly polarized, that we seem to be divided into THIS camp or THAT camp with nowhere in between to be, and, well….
It’s mind boggling. Everyone is so angry. I tell ya … if my spiritual beliefs were different (I believe this life is only an illusion anyway ;-) ), I’d be pretty freaked out about it all. As it is, I am still usually able to keep a sense of humor and an element of detachment. Like now, in fact.
So where do we go now? What’s next?
This post is simply from my perspective. Now I want to hear about yours.
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I was twenty-two and absolutely crazy about him and those big puppy dog brown eyes. We made it through a few crazily romantic months … At work I wrote him notes about “winter, spring, summer or fall” and he wrote me love letters on musical staff paper in his barely legible musician’s scrawl. Every night, after each set, we would just gaze into each other’s eyes or I would listen to his dreams and plans, in an attempt at being the salve he continually craved. He didn’t care for “unpleasantness” so we never discussed problems or things that weren’t working for me. It began to feel a little stale but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why.
One evening he brought a woman to our table to introduce me to her. He referred to her as his new friend.
I smiled, acted happy to meet her and like nothing in the world was wrong. Inside I was confused, broken-hearted, but tried to keep the feeling of betrayal at bay.
One sleepless nights a few days later, this song came on the radio around 2AM. Somehow it eased its way into my conscious mind and I got it. I was done.
Yesterday, thirty-seven years and a bajillion lifetimes and people later, I was getting my back iced at my physical therapist’s office and the song flashed into my mind, the chorus playing in a continual loop.
The eyes are now blue but once again, I got it.
And, reluctantly, I am done.