Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Holy or a Broken Hallelujah!

I'm less than a hack of a piano player. I had about one year of lessons when I was a kid - thanks to my generous and patient grandmother who put up with hours of endless plinkity-plinkity-plinkity on her old upright player piano - and mostly I play by a not-very-good ear.

But I've been wrestling with Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah and I am mad about that song. I've read several theories on the meaning of the song on the Internet and, as you would expect, most of them are so godless they haunt you for days that you even read them. I'm more inclined to believe Cohen's own ideas: he wrote it as a homage to God (not religion)... and although I believe it's possible he may have had a sort of confused glimpse of God when he wrote it, don't we all.

Thank you, baby Ashley, for introducing me to that song.

Today it is spring here. I did something that I know is a complete and utter luxury and I'm still endlessly amazed every time I have the opportunity to do it. I came home from needing to work and took a nap trying to get rid of a five-day headache (same-old-same-old stupid headaches for 30 years). Anyway, when I woke up, I found out I could procrastinate another day about something I need to do at the shop (boxing the rest of a shipment... the truck won't arrive until noon tomorrow so I can do it in the morning)... and so I thought I would go ahead and gesso some drawings I am trying to finish.

When I walked into the den on the way to my little screened-porch studio, it hit me. The air smelled like Hallelujah. It was raining softly sometime in the afternoon because it woke me up (or probably, my wiener dog Frankie did because he feels nervous when it rains), and the air smells like... I don't know what it smells like.

This old house we live in doesn't always smell that sweet. It's just the truth. We burn wood all winter long and so by spring the chimney is wet-ashy and everything else smells smokey. We have two little wiener dogs who are always underfoot and, even though I am reticent to acknowledge it, they do sometimes stink quite a bit. I am also a less than pristine housekeeper (i.e., my house rarely smells like cleaning products and when it does, it's usually a kill-all bleach). A lot of times in the spring this old house just smells sort of damp and musty unless the windows have been open.

Sometimes it doesn't smell too bad. On Saturdays, if we're cooking, it smells terrific: like roast beef or vegetable soup or chili or maybe even barbecue. When we burn wood in the fall it smells like the world is new and the smoke alone could be a thanksgiving sacrifice that the Lord would accept. At Christmas it smells like evergreens because I have fake trees and so I burn evergreen candles (tacky, huh.) But other wise, it's less than great. Don't feel smug. Your house probably stinks too, just I KNOW mine does.

So I came into the den and it smelled like hallelujah. When I went into the studio, it smelled even better.

I went outside with my terrible photography skills and snapped some pictures. They aren't too terrific. Actually, they are - as my dad used to tell me about my carpentry attempts - very poor. Very, very poor.
So it smells like hallelujah today and I am so honored to be here to be a part of it.

I've been re-reading some of the Nancy Drew mysteries I read as a kid and I am now reading "The Hidden Staircase". When Nancy's father comes up missing, she is having trouble figuring out what to do next, so she remembers some of her father's advice about what to do when she is confused. Take time for nature.

Usually, I think I'm going to solve some stupid problem by running in circles. I never do, though. After 45 years, a person should know this. I need to be like Nancy. I need to take time for nature. I need to take time for God. I need to take time for a holy or a broken hallelujah. Sometimes, a broken one is all you can manage.

So I didn't gesso my drawings yet and I didn't get rid of this headache, but I did smell the sweetness of this old house and remembered my broken hallelujah. God will make it holy for me.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Months passed - Very little done!

Where has the time gone and what have I been doing??? No one has an answer to either question!

I don't know what I've been doing, but nothing has been getting done. (It's like when you don't know what you've been eating... you just keep getting fatter. Wait. I don't think it's like that at all. I have nothing to show for what I've been doing. At least when I eat all the time I get fatter.)

New York (National Stationery Show) is in mere days (we leave May 14) and I'm still drawing dolls for the card collections. My goal is to complete 100, and I've almost got it, but I still have to finish about 15 or 20, then get them into final format. The printing equipment is in but I still haven't ordered paper (I don't know why) or packaging materials (I don't know why either). Most of the collections have been finalized or are in the process or being finalized.

The booth has been completely re-thought and simplified (something it seems I always have to do because I am a clutterer) and it will be shipping off, probably, within 10 days or so. That means I gotta be READY!!! (And so, instead of getting ready, I'm here writing this boring drivel.)

On the idea of simplifying, I dropped the Advent cards until next year. Their look is somewhat different from the Hot Snots and they are also a more complicated concept, so I thought I would drop them and try to launch with collections that are simpler to explain. We'll be doing Hot Snots & Tots (Bump Watch), Hot Snots Tie the Knot (Brides), A Snot a Day (Everyday Cards) and Nose to the Grindstone (Hot Snots at Work). I had already dropped the Goody-2-Shoes Snots because they had a different look and I think I'll push back their debut for at least a year. Who could know what will happen.

In my bid to get something-anything done, I got up early one morning and photographed about 30 of the new drawings and not one photograph is acceptable (one of them is above). I have to do them all over. Shows you what mornings are good for: nothing.

There is so much piled up on my desk to do that has nothing to do with this little venture that I don't know what to do first. Really, I just want to go back to bed! Stupid taxes have to get done. Stupid bank statements have to be reconciled. And it's really cold in here! How can a person work when they are so cold???

Okay. Enough complaining. I hope the next time I post I don't sound so grouchy. We'll see.