Sunday, December 25

Saturday, December 17

Ephemeral Art

When I was in college, one of the required courses was a four-part humanities series. For three semesters we studied pretty much all of recorded history with a focus on the arts, while the fourth provided a more hands-on experience as we each designed and created our own art projects and present them before the class.

During the fourth semester, I was first introduced to the concept of ephemeral art. If you're unfamiliar with the term, it basically means art that is designed to be temporary. It covers a broad range of types, everything from ice carving to face painting to sand castles to fire sculptures that burn up as they are displayed.

I was reminded of my general amazement with the genre this morning when I found Rosi drawing in the condensation on the back window.


Being the amazing educational facilitator I (occasionally) am, I immediately turned her play into an art lesson. As part of our study, we looked at collections of ephemeral art online. Some of my favorites were by Richard Shilling and Andy Goldsworthy, who do something called "land art" or working outdoors with primarily natural materials which then may erode or decay naturally. Be sure to check out the links; both of these guys do some really incredible stuff!

Photo by Mike and Kirsty Grundy [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Friday, December 9

Genius

I got this quote in my e-mail the other day. I really like it.

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
attributed to Albert Einstein

Ironically, there are a few fish living in Africa and Southeast Asia that do, in fact, climb trees. Still, I bet they're better at swimming.

Tuesday, December 6

Finally, It Makes Sense

Tunisian Knit StitchEver since I first discovered it, some five years ago, I've thought the Tunisian crochet stitch was pretty cool. Both of my long-time readers may remember this Tunisian stitch satchel I made for my niece, lo these many moons ago.

More recently, I found instructions for the Tunisian Knit stitch in a stitch dictionary I'd gotten. The resulting fabric is such a neat knit-like look, without all the trouble of actually having to knit. The only problem was, the instructions provided in that particular book were not very clear. I tried and tried and tried, but just couldn't figure out quite where to place my hook to get the neat chained-stitch effect.

Tunisian Knit StitchThis week's Crochet Me newsletter features a tutorial on the Tunisian stitch, including a diagram of Tunisian Knit showing exactly where the hook goes. I tried it out and, whaddaya know, it worked exactly like it's supposed to!

I can totally see this as a cuff to a sweater or a mitten. Maybe I'll start a pair of mittens for myself, now that the winter weather has actually arrived in Sioux Falls with a half inch of snow dusting the ground. Or maybe I should complete some of the UFOs cluttering up the top of my piano first ...

Friday, December 2

Two Things I Learned on the Water Slide

How the heck did it get to be December already? My parents weren't kidding about time moving faster as you get older!

A couple of weeks ago, Adam and I celebrated our birthdays. My in-laws' gift to us was a couple of nights at a local hotel with an indoor water park. Alone time and uninterrupted sleep being rare and precious commodities in our house, we decided to spend our days together with the kids splashing around in the pools and water slides, then each of us took one evening and overnight to stay in the room alone.

I didn't end up spending my evening alone. In fact, I picked up my 19-year-old niece to go for coffee and we spent the next several hours talking about everything from college to boys to Christianity to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Finally, as midnight was approaching, I decided I'd better take her home, lest she turn into a pumpkin.

After a lovely full night's sleep without anyone bumping into me in bed, I took a few final rides on the 160-foot water slide before checking out. God used that opportunity to teach me some important lessons.
  1. It's okay to have fun by myself, in fact, it's necessary
  2. Rosi and I had had a blast riding the water slide together our first day at the hotel. Unfortunately, they had to close the slide for maintenance the afternoon of the second day, so she wasn't able to ride on it again. We splashed around in the other pools (there were three total, plus two hot tubs) and slid down the kiddie slides with Adam and Ian.

    After discovering the big slide was open again the next morning, I thought about picking up the kids for a quick visit. But, I figured by the time I drove home, we got them ready to go, drove back to the hotel, and actually were ready to use the pool, it would be nearly time to check out. So I went down the slide a couple of times on my own, thinking about how much fun Rosi would have had if she were there, and feeling a bit guilty that she wasn't able to experience it with me.

    As I climbed up out of the pool after my second or third ride, the thought occurred to me that I didn't need to feel guilty because I wasn't doing anything wrong. Not only was it good for me to be having fun on my own, but it was important. Nobody can be having fun all the time. In this broken world, at any given moment someone (probably lots and lots of someones) are hurting or hungry or afraid. If we limit our own enjoyment of life to only that which can simultaneously be enjoyed by everyone else, we're not going to enjoy anything.

    I don't mean to suggest that we shouldn't do what all we can to help those who are hungry or hurting, but not enjoying the pleasure that is in my life, because everyone else can't share it with me, simply leaves me miserable without offering any benefit to anyone.

  3. Trusting the one who designed the course makes the ride a whole lot more fun.
  4. Prior to this hotel stay, the last time I'd gone down a water slide was not a good experience for me. That slide was completely enclosed so I couldn't really see what was coming next. I ended up off balance, landing in the water on my belly and hitting my elbow on the end of the slide.

    With those memories at the forefront of my mind, I was feeling pretty cautious the first few times I rode down this new slide. I kept my hands pressed against the sides to slow myself down and help stay upright. As I continued to slide, I started feeling more comfortable with the ride, but I still worried that if I didn't hold on, I'd start going too fast or tip over to one side or suffer some nasty accident--160 feet down looks awfully high from the top!

    After about a dozen rides, it occurred to me that any water slide designer worth his salt would naturally design a slide that's really difficult to fall from. Furthermore, any park that installs a slide would have a vested interest in the safety of the riders, if for no other reason than because injuries are bad for business.

    Finally, I gathered up the courage to let go, just sliding down with the water and not worrying (too much) about losing control or falling off. My last couple of rides were definitely the best ones of the whole visit. I wasn't tense or worried. Splashing from one side to the other as I rode around the curves was fun rather than scary. Believing that the creator of the ride knew what he was doing and trusting that he had it all worked out to keep me where I was supposed to be allowed me to appreciate the topsy-turvy feeling, smile at the rush of wind in my face, and anticipate the splash at the end.