Category Archives: Decorative

Beauty For Its Own Sake

Both the mural and the art project are in the breakroom near where I work. I think they both are beautiful, both the completed mural and the work in progress of the colored pencil drawing. It’s a demonstration of art where art normally isn’t. And it’s also a demonstration that beauty and art can coexist anywhere, even in sterile places. What confounds me is that there are a few people that think such efforts are wasteful. Because anything that distracts us from our routine life, especially when it’s mundane, is worth the effort. All the important things are invisible. Though the mural and art project exist in space, it’s what they do inside of our heads as we look at them that makes them worthwhile. Creativity and beauty are among those. Love, X

Underwear On The Door, Part Two

This post isn’t for you. You know who are, favorite DNA person. 🙂

Most of us live in our private nests.

Pretty much everyone feels like they need to clean more, reduce more, and spend more time in the bureaucracy of keeping their nest aligned with an arbitrary level of cleanliness. That’s okay, too. Each minute spent to do so should not be at the expense of your moments, your friends, your family – but more so, at the cost of your mental well-being. Time spent concerned about how your nest looks is time not spent being creative or enjoying even simple pleasures. You become too focused on the “ought to and obligation” of keeping your nest perfect.

Stacks of mail in the kitchen, dust everywhere it can be. Clothes to be washed, clothes to be put away, clothes that don’t fit inside the closet, dressers, and on the floor. Books to be read, magazines you will never read. You don’t have a crazy drawer, you have an entire crazy room, garage, or storage space filled with miscellaneous everything. Most of us do. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there! People keep their nests largely unhidden, so we wrongly assume they don’t have the same problem as we do.

You can’t triage the physical space. Look around. For the most part, whatever condition your house is in right now, it’s probably the default. That might bother you to accept. It shouldn’t. You can fight an agonizing fight to spend a lot of time and energy temporarily fixing your space, or you can yield and do the best you can and let it go at that. Homes and nests are meant to be lived in, and you will always have to make choices to keep it pristine or lived in. You can’t have both without wasting a lot of your now moments.

The same is true about your job, your diet, your vices, and your mind.

Each person’s best is variable, fluid, and often contradictory. And that is okay.

If you have precious things, keep those that are tied to defining moments and memories in your life. The rest? Sell what you can to have the things that add value to your life.

Donate, discard, disown.

We hoard and clutter partly because it makes us feel like our place is a home, a nest, and our place to be. But we also do it because we don’t see the arc of time getting shorter and shorter.

For a later day, I might need it, it’s valuable; these are all valid reasons to keep things. But it is not things that matter. Not if you don’t use them regularly, not if they don’t light you up, or if they fail to make your life fuller and more satisfying.

“Treasures that aren’t treasured, admired, or used aren’t treasures at all. They are anchors, ones that keep up from enjoying the here and now and the people in our orbit.” – X

Out of sound, out of mind, trinkets, and treasures stored for no witness or participant.

Things are to be used or admired. Everything else? It not only clutters your nest, it clutters your mind.

Simplicity is the toughest goal. It requires herculean effort to overcome the urge to keep, to store, to accumulate.

As someone smart once told me, “Ain’t nothing you got that can’t be taken except for your peace of mind. This world honors nothing with permanence.”

Love, X

Laugh! Or Else!

Listen, if you come into my apartment, you’re going to need to pay attention. I have so many little goofy things and pranks laying about.

This morning, as the landlord and I carried my new water heater up the steps, he came inside and was pleased that I’d contained the leaking water heater.

As he left, he looked at my doorknob and smiled. He didn’t say anything, but he shook his head.

On the inside of the doorknob, I’d left a pair of panties hanging there, like a perverted Xmas remnant. Don’t worry, Susan never even knew they were missing. Who is Susan? I have no idea, either.

I hope she’s not cold, though, whoever she is!

And these moments are what make life so damned fun.

Love, X




🙂 “It’s better to give than receive.” I’m not sure my downstairs neighbor agrees. It turns out that my water heater was giving the floor a constant drip of water, saturating the ceiling below until it gave way. That was a small part of my Xmas day, constantly emptying the little container that would fit between my water heater and the board in front of it. PS I am SO grateful that I waited for an upstairs apartment.

Of Life (And Literal Limbs)

Over the last few days, I painted another 6″ X 24″ tile. I drilled holes in six places to make it easier to secure safely in my surprise location. I glued dozens of multi-colored glow-in-the-dark rocks to the front. On the back, I wrote a truth of mine in marker. The truth is very personal. Anyone who wants to know it will have to climb a considerable height to do so.

This makes me happy.

After work today, I climbed a tall tree before I lost my nerve. It’s the first tall one I’ve climbed since my surgery. It was tricky getting up there with a two-foot-long tile strung around my neck as I ascended. As far as I could tell, no one noticed me as I rose the vertical surface of the tree, carefully finding my foothold. After twenty feet, my reluctance vanished, and I forgot all about the possibility of falling. I’m just as likely to get killed by a rogue intestine or a plane falling out of the sky as I am climbing a tree. Besides, I laughed at the idea of my precarious fall being covered on the local news or the What’s Up, Fayetteville group. “Arts & Crafts Take Local Man’s Life” would work nicely. “Idiot Falls While Doing Performance Art” also serves its purpose.

As the limbs thinned out, I stood, watching the area below me. It was beautiful. I took the tile, ran steel wire through the open holes, and secured it from one primarily perpendicular limb. Not wanting to leave the view behind, I sat near the trunk and just felt the wind around me.

It was a stolen moment!

After a few minutes, I climbed down in one quick descent and stood back on the ground. I looked up at the pretty colored rocks and the brightly painted long tile. Yes, that would do nicely.

Where did I place the beautifully decorated tile? That’s the question, isn’t it? Take a moment and stare up into the slowly appearing upper branches of the trees around you. “Look up, not down” is not only a symbolic reminder to find yourself and answers looking directly into the world, but now also a practical guide to ever finding my hidden-in-plain-sight tilework.

Beauty is anywhere you find it, y’all. Even if you never find my tilework, look around and find the people and things that light you up. Give them attention and appreciation. From time to time, look up to behold the wonders that we forget to see. If you can do so, look at yourself in the mirror and remember that no matter who you are, someone loves you. Merry Xmas!

Love, X

A Morning Of Color

I went to Lowe’s for more paint to finish painting my interior doors in the apartment. I also bought some electrical to wire my landings so I can put an assortment of crazy colored lights out there. More accurately, more crazy lights… As I was leaving a man exited his car with his young son. He was so tickled at the color of my car and that my glasses seemed to match it. I showed him the key that I painted yesterday to match. He was laughing as he went inside, and said he wished he could get by with that kind of color. I told him the secret was to simply not care and that if I had my wish everything would be washed in color. His son, who was about five, told his dad, “Can my room be painted like that daddy?” My last comment before they left to go inside was that they might as well get all the paint necessary to do it while they were in there. Lowe’s owes me at least $100 in commission..

An Afternoon

The occasional murder of crows returned this afternoon, their cawing like decibel-driven bird testosterone. These crows are large and full of personality. On a whim, I went outside and scattered four bags of my beloved PopChips behind the dumpster. By the time I went inside, their excited discovery of same caused a melee of activity there. Güino watched and listened in nervous excitement from slightly outside the apartment, his back legs twitching in time to his swishing tail. Though it is the middle of October, it was 72 degrees with a slight, stirring breeze. The passersby in the throng of traffic failed to take note of the crows. “Much to their loss,” I thought to myself.

I had taken a break from painting two more inside doors of my apartment. To my dissatisfaction, the pragmatic part of me had surrendered to painting the doors classic grey – instead of a wild blue or deep red. In a flash of inspiration, I decided to find (or make) a metal silhouette of a crow and put it on at least one of the doors. My bathroom door has been off since two days ago. The cat learned again that it is idiotic to jump onto the top of a recently-painted door. If he does it again, I’m leaving the paw prints as part of the intended look.

I turned on all my inside LED lights to flood the space with color. I wish I had the technology to bathe all the walls in vivid, wild splashes of it.

Yesterday was a day to reconnect to the value of genealogy, a hobby I’d started with doubts as to whether I’d be deeply interested. I was wrong. Almost a decade has past and my Ancestry account at one time held 100+ family trees. It gave me a few more skills to use to find missing fathers, long-lost friends for other people, allegedly missing birth certificates, and reconnect people to their own history. It’s pushed me to determine whether someone has Native American ancestry (few actually do, despite the stories they might have heard). When you immerse yourself into genealogy, you relearn how interconnected we are. Often literally. A couple of people were surprised to find out just how far I’d taken their family trees. I’ve fallen out of the dedicated habit in the last few months; life has pushed my attention elsewhere. As interesting as the document and paper trail side of family trees has been, none have meshed the forensic and undeniable magic that DNA has. It is the inarguable blueprint that identifies us. Libido has always been the x variable in our shared histories. It drives so much behavior and (mis)adventure. Yesterday renewed my urge to continue to flesh out people’s blueprints. Behind it all is my love of pictures. Even though I don’t know the people in most of the photos I unearth, it has always ignited my imagination. For those I love, I mark their death by adding hundreds of pictures to a database that’s likely to survive generations. It’s only fair that pictures be shared. I haven’t mentioned it in a while, but I cringe to think of the millions of unappreciated pictures in basements, attics, boxes, and containers pushed carelessly onto garage shelves or under beds.

Because I have to be more cautious with money, I applied a mathematician’s eye to the lottery. Surprisingly, the most cost-effective lottery option is the Natural State Jackpot game. Tickets are $1. The current payout is 330K – but the odds of winning, though still long, are hundreds of times in your favor compared to the Mega Millions or Powerball. After taxes, I could buy several thousand cans of paint. 🙂 Maybe enough to paint your house while you’re sleeping. Because most people don’t know how the multi-draw option works, I’d recommend you look into it. You’ll spend less and won’t miss a drawing. If wasting your money on smaller lottery payouts doesn’t interest you, feel free to throw some money at bitcoin; those guys desperately need more money.

I came home from work tired but also invigorated. Because boredom isn’t a trait I’m afflicted with, I tried to prioritize how I might squeeze ten hours of activity into a much smaller time span. And that caused me to sit and think of the larger picture: how can I fit more into the unknown remainder of my life? No matter what I do, I know I’ll die with plans still unrealized.

It occurred to me that I might stop to eat. I’m still off-schedule with everything, food included. Most mornings, I down a protein drink before my first cup of coffee. It satiates me in a way that I didn’t expect it to when I started. Dairy was a stranger to me for so long. Now, I eat low-fat cottage cheese, skim milk (for the protein powder, though I eat that raw and by the spoonful at times), sugar-free pudding, and Greek yogurt as if I own stock in the companies. I still drink a V-8 most days and find creative ways to eat fruits and vegetables, many of which I’m certain would make you wrinkle your nose in surprise. The joy is knowing it’s possible to eat a great diet and be as weird as I’d like to be.

While I was writing the last part, the Walmart+ driver sneaked up to the landing to drop my groceries. It’s such an indulgence to have delicious food dropped at the door. This is the first time I haven’t walked down and carried all my groceries up myself. On another note, when you buy your groceries yourself, there are of course, advantages. And you don’t have to tip the driver. BUT, when you consciously make a list to buy whatever you need, you will save a lot of money by not impulse-purchasing. This effect is amplified when you’re buying for one person. As the Walmart+ driver walked away, he said, “I love the decorations.” He laughed at a couple of them. He could see the LED lights reflecting inside, too. ‘I bet your place is full of color, isn’t it?” I laughed. “Not enough. I won’t rest until it looks like a nuclear bomb of rainbows went off in there.” He smiled and nodded.

I went back outside and watched the birds and the traffic.

All the people streaming by, each intent on their respective goal. And yet, they still paid little attention to the crows.

The afternoon and I shared a moment.

Love, X

Of Salsa And Light

Because I gave away all my solar lanterns to an admirer earlier in the week, I tried to find creative ways to replace the solar lantern I’d made out of a converted and inverted blue glass hummingbird feeder.

Somehow, in my move, I still had two salsa jars given to me by the famous salsa maker Mike. I’d hoped that when he gifted me the unexpected salsa it would come with a lifetime refill option. Alas, that was not to be. Given that he allegedly is retiring in a couple of years, I see no reason for him NOT to have a side business making salsa (at cost, of course) for his legions of fans.

Using solar fairy lights kits I bought on Amazon (for about $5 each), I put both woefully empty salsa mason jars to use today. Though they are not finished, they provide beautiful light and color already. It seemed wasteful not to light them up tonight. I’ll take all of the colors I can get, especially in this place where beauty is a third-tier concern.

These kits, though inexpensive, are usually designed for larger containers. If anyone wants to make them for themselves, I can easily explain how to do it. (These also have several settings, which is surprising given how inexpensive they are.) Although I don’t remember using that many sets, it seems I’ve bought 34 kits from Amazon alone in the last couple of years. Somewhere out there, there’s a lot of light and color I’ve generated for the world.

I love that I made these out of something that held a delicious surprise.

Of course, now I’m craving salsa. A gallon a week ought to do it.

Love, X

An Array Of…

A visit to Sam’s proved valuable in my quest for tomfoolery. The door checker was very adamant I use the Scan-As-You-Go feature. I told him I thought that was for the bathroom. (Is that joke funny?) Among my many feats, I went down the chip and nut aisle and scanned every item on it, about 50 items. And then asked for help to remove “a couple” of things I needed to delete from my app checkout cart. Several people asked for assistance because I still wore my work badge, soft purple shirt, and fantastic Dance Commander brooch. I did my best to help them except for the last guy, who was in a bad mood and couldn’t find the coffee on sale. Without missing a beat, I told him it was all the way in the back rear corner, past the paper towels. Note: it’s not there. But it was the furthest point from me in the store. He walked off, and I decided it would be a good time to leave. I hope he complains about me to the manager! If I don’t get Employee of The Month, I’ll know who to blame.
The picture of 3 photos is of the upper right corner of my fridge, which I’m loading with photo magnets. Everyone in the pictures except me suffers or suffered from addiction issues. Of the 5 other people in the photos, all but one of them died with their addictions. My sister Marsha is making another heroic effort to right her ship as I write this. Having phrased it slightly wrong when I said “other than me,” the truth is that everyone suffers if they love someone with addictions. Watching someone get on the diving board and stay there and then lose the battle is one of the most painful experiences any of us can live through.

There are no bystanders to addiction.
It’s nice having a metal door. Not because it heats up to 180 F in the summer. Or prevents most people from being able to kick it. No, I like it because I can fill it with photo magnets and nonsense.
The purpose of the picture of me against the brownish wallpaper background is two-fold: to show the brooch I wore today and to give publicity to someone’s kitchen wallpaper. I’m not standing in said kitchen. I took a picture of me standing near the trail and transposed myself onto the wild wallpaper background. The brooch inspired a lot of comments: Is it a pilot’s insignia? Was it a repurposed military medal? My go-to response was this: I’ve been promoted to Dance Commander. Whatever you do, DO NOT go to YouTube and watch “Dance Commander – Electric Six.” I love the song, but I’m guessing 103% of y’all won’t. (It’s more than 100% due to the number of my social media friends who have multiple voices in their heads.)

The picture of the two pennies was the second brooch I made. I gave it to my Director as a gift. If the joke is too thin, it’s this: “Here are my two cents worth.” It might come in handy in conversations.

The picture of the broken watch is sentimental. I broke off 1/2 of the band and attached a brooch clip on the reverse. I couldn’t bring myself to discard the broken watch. The phoenix in me told me to give it new life – so I did.

The fuchsia-colored bird metalwork is something I had made by Married To The Metal on Etsy. I painted it when I moved here. If you’re interested, you should look up the word “Onism” on “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.” It’s delightful and an apt reminder while I live inside this box. It is where I discovered the word “Sonder” and many others that are a delight.

The picture of the edge of my deck is my color tile project-in-the-making. Several of the neighbors probably think of me as some kind of artist because, most days, I’m on the deck painting a variety of things that look out of place. The apartment simplex has a variety of people: dealer, disabled, dog people, and probable serial killer. I have a lot to shoot for if I want to become the most infamous resident here. To be accused of too much color and art would be a glorious compliment.

I went outside and picked up a lot of trash. I quit, though, because my neighbor Bill got angry when I tried to put him in a trash bag. Please take a shower, Bill. Joking aside, I find myself picking up the mess here often. It’s not my job, but I hope I never get to the point where such things don’t register in my brain; doing so will mean I’ve accepted my environment. There are several things about this place that are very much in need of handcuffs, flamethrowers, or eye-rolling. While I was out, I managed to place another prank in plain view. Just call me Prank Sinatra.
A FedX truck barreled into the parking lot while I stood outside, relishing the breeze. The driver had salsa music blaring. For southerners, ‘salsa music’ isn’t music you listen to while you eat Tex-Mex, by the way. The driver was surprised I greeted him in Spanish. I love watching drivers pull up and always hope they need a signature. They can expect a lot of interesting scenarios with the crowd who lives here. Barking, sometimes even from actual dogs, suspiciously-folded window blinds, and a strange cast of characters.
I have to go choose among my 17 colors of paint and see what needs brightening now. I know I don’t. I hope the mood lasts. Last evening was a challenge for me. In closing, I’d like to add: no, Marilyn, I don’t have a cat yet, although I suspect I ate a bit of cat food in the cafeteria this morning at work.

Love, X

I Have An Addiction (Humor & Admission)

Yesterday, I put up a 4-shelf system behind my metal front door. It’s wasted space and ideal to display curios, knick-knacks, or bric-a-brac. (If you like the hoity-toity French word for small pieces of goofiness on display.) Give me credit for using a neutral color. My inclination was to do a series of bright resonant colors.

I’m using the bottom shelf to display my favorite brooches. I guess I have a brooch addiction. What kind of 12-step program is available for such an affliction probably would be really fabulous.

For those with discerning eyes, yes, that is a pregnancy test on the far right. No, I’m not pregnant. I put that odd curio there to catch people off guard. In case they aren’t already on guard just strolling through the front door. It’s akin to the fun I have by putting underwear on the door or on the floor in plain sight. Since my friend Marilyn insists I’m circling the crazy drain, I see no point resisting filling this old apartment with a variety of easter egg surprises. (The apartment simplex has a few surprises I’ve put up – and as far as I know, no one has questioned them. It’ll be interesting to see how far I can task this long-term project before being called out. 🙂 )

As for the real confession, lately I’ve been taking puffs of small cigars. The first puff always gives me a buzz. No, these are not the cannabis kind. Despite what you’d guess by reading what I write, I don’t do drugs – and they don’t do me, either. Today is the day I stop taking puffs. This is one of those small habits that most people keep a secret, especially if it’s one they are about to give up. It’s a bit ridiculous to reveal that I’ve been doing it. I hate secrecy, which is ironic on several levels. I have no problem confessing such stupidities. I’ve found that if you don’t confess things, even the small ones, people’s idea of you grows increasingly disparate from reality.

I’m painting more tiles and attempting a wall rack. The wall rack is already a bit of a mess.

As for my small first-world problems, people I love are experiencing real heartache and the kind of life surprises that really hurt. I have hope that all of us end this day with more love and peace than we started with. It’s a small ask, one bordering on prayer.

Love, X

Of Burned Food, Shadows, And Gratitude

Y’all signed up for this, so in deference to Ron White, who quipped (paraphrasing), “I know I have the right to remain silent, just not the ability.”

It’s a great thing that I love burned food. I made homemade pizzas (though you wouldn’t like the way I do…). I set Alexa for ten minutes. That’s what I thought I said. Because I mumble worse than a child who got caught pilfering cookies, I evidently said “twenty minutes.” The smoke alarm didn’t go off. I bought one of those new-fangled kinds that gauges the luxury of the residence. Mine evidently thinks I’ll be better off if the place turns to cinders. Though it’s a ‘smart’ device with built-in wifi, it calls 7-11 instead of 911. That’s a joke. I think it’s a joke. Flavor Flav once said, “9-1-1 is a joke in your town.” To that, I’d reply, “Yeah, until you need it.” And all of us eventually do.

Saturday, despite having great conversations with three lovely souls, I found myself doing projects to fill the quiet: colorful ones designed to invade both the interior and exterior of my old apartment. I keep hoping I’ll fill it with enough brightness to drown out the shadows. Don’t get me wrong; I’m so grateful for having my health and sanity. The latter is currently on hiatus.

One of the people I talked to told me that she found herself busy with projects when she was in my situation, filling time with movement and results. She said she could see through the tightly-slitted blinds of my writing that I was experiencing the all-too-human sensation of loneliness, and doubly so given my nature.

It’s not that I’m always alone, far from it. The universes watches me closely, though, and quite often waits to throw a shawl over my enthusiasm precisely when I’m not expecting it.

I got a call yesterday that was both gratifying and emotional; as with such calls, it took me time to process it and look at it from a different perspective. It’s all in my head, of course. That’s how we experience reality, isn’t it? In our own way, cherry-picking the parts that reinforce what we’re thinking. It varies by mood, day, and person. None of us share the same reality because the voice in our head is the overriding narrative that sometimes drowns out the positive things in our lives. Or at least dims it just long enough to doubt ourselves. I envy people whose narrative is overwhelmingly one of gratitude and acceptance. What a superpower they have. Imagine if Superman walked around convincing everyone that they’re worthy. He wouldn’t need to jump tall buildings.

This is all normal – or so I’m told.

Because I’m lucky enough to have seen behind the curtains of people’s lives, I know that normal is just a word in the dictionary. One of the most normal people I know thinks it’s a great idea to shower about once a week. He doesn’t smell bad, so I’m not sure what alchemy or process he uses to “save water and time” by not showering.

It’s the universe’s perverse sense of humor that catches me off guard. No matter how good my morning or day has been, there is always a risk of unexpectedly getting smacked in the head. Sometimes, it brings joy. Sometimes, confusion. The morning gave me a bit of joy seeing the neighborhood, running without stopping, buying something for a project to help someone else out, and talking to great people.

Lord, though, the shadows.

I don’t want anyone to think I’m on happiness auto-pilot. It’s why I tell a couple of my friends that I understand all too well how our minds lay traps for us and that I understand their coping mechanisms. Short-term coping mechanisms are essential. So many of us make them inescapable habits, ones which shut off the rational parts of our lives.

I took a diamond painting of my cat Guino, the one who owns the house I used to live in – and I painted it vivid red. I changed something of the old and made it my own.

I made a runner of felt-backed tiles and put them on the deck outside my apartment. They don’t serve a purpose, except to add color and juxtapose themselves against the faded boards of the landing. I’m sure my pixie Larkma will appreciate the ornate sidewalk of the tiles. (And it tickles me that people will read the last sentence and wonder what in the hell I’m talking about.)

The burned pizzas were delicious. I didn’t plan to burn them but then wonder why I didn’t do it on purpose. No one is here to ask me what in blazes I’m doing in the kitchen.

*To the FedEx guy who got excited when I explained how easy it is to change his name, I hope you do. You’re forty and it is ridiculous to not choose a name you’ll love.

*To the bicyclist who went by earlier, wearing bright pink ankle shoes and a hat that looked like it was a spray-painted magician’s hat, more power to you, sir.

*To the neighbor who thinks no one sees that you sometimes hold the leash and let the dog walk onto the landing to pee, you’re wrong. One day soon, as a joke, I’m going to sneak over there and hang a urinal on the railing, and mark it “For Canine Use Only.” This idea pleases me.

*The best pizza recipe in the world: however you want it. I’m constantly preaching that all food is subjective. All of us eat stuff that would make a college freshman retch into his tiny decorative beer box, the one he uses temporarily, albeit for an entire year, as a bathroom trash can. I humbly ask everyone to stop arguing from the perspective that there is a right choice about food choices. Live and let eat, even if you have to wear a blindfold and a clothespin on your nose. Also, both of these devices might make walking around this world more palatable at times.

*The breeze this morning is sublime and filled with humidity from the rain. It’s scented with foliage and the unmistakable aroma of someone’s massive cannabis habit. I’m not sure that sentiment would work well in an Emerson poem. But it works well for a Fayetteville, Arkansas moment.

*A few of my neighbors borrowed a large screen tv to watch the Razorback game. I’m not a fan. I’m a fan of large TVs, but not college football. They are still happy this morning, being able to celebrate their team winning. I would be a hateful bastard to dampen that enthusiasm. I smile, nod, and say, “…and they won by a huge margin.” That’s the extent of my game facts for yesterday. That’s enough, though.

*I never thought about “Hype Man” being a part of several people’s Wikipedia biography pages. I can’t any college that offers a major in “Hype.” I’m irritated about this oversight.

*People sometimes tell me to cool it and stop writing so many dumb jokes and to shut my brain off for a day. The last time I tried that, the City of Fayetteville offered me a job on the Urban Planning Commission based on qualifications.

*I’d plant more ideas in your head, except I definitely don’t want to get in there and water them.

Love, X