A Tale of Two Houses

Every year, the kids beg me to buy those gingerbread house kits. Every year, I give in. It’s like I forget about the huge mess they make. Or, maybe I think the joy they get from decorating the houses outweighs the annoyance of sweeping up bits of candy for weeks afterward.

Yeah, I definitely forget about the mess 😛

A couple days before Christmas, the kids got out their kits (I learned years ago that they could not build one house together.) I was working, so it was a great excuse to stay out of their project. I like things tidy, so my presence would’ve put a damper on their fun anyway (I think my younger son had more frosting on his jeans than his house.)

My older son (he’s 12) presented his masterpiece, complete with candy cane arch and candy walkway. The showoff even made a guest house out of regular graham crackers:

01-07 Gingerbread1

My eight-year-old son was frustrated that his house wouldn’t stay ‘glued’ together. I heard his aggravation, but he didn’t ask me for help, so I stayed away. When he did come get me to look at his creation, he presented it as a “gingerbread house in a tornado”:

01-07 Gingerbread2

I found this interesting, because it seems as we get older, we tend to color inside the lines, so to speak. I like my younger son’s creative spin (haha, spin… tornado… never mind) because it reminds me that things don’t have to be perfect to be visually interesting.

This is a reminder that once in a while, I should take the opportunity to toss the rules and let my creativity just happen.

Balloons and Chainsaws

There is one reason I wanted to go to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta:  hot air balloons.  Lots of them.  On Saturday, we woke up at 4:30 (yes, that’s AM) and left the hotel by 5:10 so we could see the dawn patrol at 6:45.  (The dawn patrol is where a handful of balloons lift off to check the wind and weather conditions prior to the mass ascension – where hundreds of balloons fill the sky at one time – which normally happens around half an hour later.)

No balloons…just tail lights

My husband, also fed up with camping on the freeway, managed to get off and took a road that went up a hill.  There was a gas station there with a nice sized parking lot, which happened to face Balloon Fiesta Park, so we parked.  We met a couple of families from out-of-state and commiserated about the traffic (through chattering teeth because it was cold!)  Ten minutes later, a security guard informed us that the mass ascension was canceled because of high winds.

To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.  I quickly found the bright side of the situation:  at least we hadn’t paid for parking and admission.  We celebrated our cheapness by going back to the hotel to partake in the FREE cook-to-order breakfast offered by the hotel.

Refusing to accept a wasted trip, we ventured back to the Balloon Fiesta Park later that day.  They had a 90-minute chainsaw carving demonstration that my husband and I both found intriguing.  What these men created in ninety minutes was simply amazing.  I took about thirty pictures of their work, but will only share a few pictures here.

This was my older son’s favorite – an adobe house in front of an eagle
Love the detail on this lizard (or is it a gator?)
An adorable tribute to a dog and her puppy
This was my favorite – love the detail on the reeds as well as the bird

What do you think – do you have a favorite carving?

Subjectivity of Art

“There’s nothing cute about it,” he said. The register of his voice indicated decision more so than discussion.

She disagreed heartily and privately, staring past his head and out the window behind him.

Their three-year-old son streaked by; a blur of gray, brown and orange acrylic paint.  She found the humor in his painting himself to match their cat, but conceded he should probably come inside.


This is my first entry in the Trifextra weekend challenge.    Here are the instructions:  For your prompt this week, we are giving you the first 33 words of a story. You need to complete it with 33 of your own words.

“There’s nothing cute about it,” he said. The register of his voice indicated decision more so than discussion. She disagreed heartily and privately, staring past his head and out the window behind him.

This weekend’s Trifextra is community-judged.  If you think this entry deserves a vote, there will be a chance to vote for it for 12 hours following the close of the challenge.  I’ll do a post then and link back to the challenge…

In Other Words, Creativity Happens

During my several nights of non-writing since I attended a single-day writer’s conference last weekend, one message has scrolled through my head like the banner across the bottom of a news show: You must write every single day.

Relax? Only with a computer!

One speaker at the workshop said that even one day without writing negatively impacts our craft.  I couldn’t believe one lazy (or busy) day zaps away progress faster than a slice of cheesecake derails a diet.  I could see several weeks eroding past gains, but one day?

It got me thinking (when I should, perhaps, have been writing) that maybe my opinion is skewed by the fact that if her statement is true, it means I’m destined for mediocrity, at best.  That’s all I need:  one more under-developed skill that will never be honed into excellence.

I could lay writing to rest with all the other things that I’ve enjoyed, but don’t excel at:  playing the clarinet, drawing, painting, bowling, modeling.  Okay, that last one was just to see if you were paying attention…but if I were 6 inches taller, 20 years younger and had a pretty pouty face, I’d have a chance.  (Not really…)

The same speaker made a suggestion to write down five novel ideas each day.  I may not write every day, but my creativity doesn’t rest.  I have lots of ideas, and a few of them make it to paper.  I don’t have five ideas a day, but at least I’ve got some ideas for a rainy day (or another reason to shake my head and wonder, ‘What was I thinking???’)

Sometimes I don’t have story ideas at all, but creativity happens anyway.

Last weekend, I made a flag stand out of scrap wood (which Home Depot kindly cut for free.)  It only cost me $1.53 since I already had paint on hand.  It has gotten rave reviews (my older son said it looked ‘cool’)

Hubby says it’s “creative”. That’s code speak for “Wow, that’s messed up!”

I’m also helping my younger son disguise his Thanksgiving turkey for a school assignment.  I came up with five ideas and he settled on the jack-o-lantern.  We’re in the design stages and gluing will happen this weekend.

I think he picked this one because he can empty the wrappers!

Finally, I had an idea for a funny cartoon (compliments of lack of sleep).  I did get it drawn, but you’ll have to wait until Sunday to see it.  It fits in with the post I’m thinking of doing.  (Again, more thinking than writing at the moment!)

Maybe it’s true.  Maybe I never will be a great writer.  Maybe my skills will continue to get stronger,and then atrophy as I navigate through life, leaving me no better (or worse) than before.  Then again, maybe if I can’t write myself out of a paper bag, I can always create a window.

What do you say?  How long does it take for under-used skills to get rusty?