The previous bout of weather knocked the rabbit from its perch and shattered it. I painstakingly patched and fixed it. This time I’ll bedazzled it a little bit. I put a watch below it, one set to 1:43 p.m. which is what time I was born about 394 years ago. .
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!
Over the last months, I made an ornate wooden box and painted it, adding some touches to it. I had plans to do something special with it for myself. Originally, I thought to add a light mounted on a spinning motor to cast shadows in the dark. Instead, today I walked over to one of the apartments and handed it to a husband and wife with a small child. I told them I’d made it and wanted their son to have it. The husband said, “Man, thank you! His birthday is coming up.” I told them I’d add his name to it but I wasn’t sure how to spell it, as not everyone has an elegant and simple name like X.
We were all happy and smiling. Me, for surprising someone with something I’d put a lot of love into. They, for being so surprised and touched that I wanted to give their son a gift out of the blue.
I’ve surprised them anonymously and otherwise since I’ve lived here. I admit that I failed and prejudged them based on one of the family members. They are good people. I hate that I did that.
It was a lemon moment. For once, I didn’t take a picture of the surprise box before I let it go. I will remember it for a long time, because it was one of the things I worked on a little bit at a time for quite a while, imagining all sorts of uses for it.
I think it found the perfect home, in the perfect moment.
I needed a win this afternoon.
P.S. I took the picture in front of an art display. I had a hell of an anxiety issue not long after, yesterday. Life overwhelmed me for a bit.
It’s such a beautiful October morning. It’s 73 now, which is hard to complain about. It’s overcast and the wind is blowing, eddying the leaves across the unkempt parking lot. It’s difficult to not be introspective standing on the landing observing it.
I’m working hard to remember all the things I have to be grateful for. I’ll return to work soon, which is both a blessing and a concern. My current tally for medical bills is 65-70K. It’s better to have the bills than to not have woken up after emergency surgery – there’s no doubt about that! It will wipe me out, of course. This not only reminds me that I wish we all had universal health care, but that any of us, at any time, can be subject to the caprice and whims of our bodies and the universe. I’m foolish because I’ve preached this lesson for years, to people who privately didn’t believe it. Everything is eventual.
My cat Güino is taking his job as a litter-scatterer very seriously, using his large paws to trap a surprising amount of litter. Previously, he stalked around on carpet. Wood vinyl floors start to look like a sandy beach with a nervous cat prowling around exploring. He’s getting old, but I’m considering teaching him to walk on a leash. I know, good luck, right? I have a neighbor who walks his cat on a leash like a dog. Either that or I’m high from all the cannabis wafting around here.
The other picture is a screenshot of some of the wi-fi networks. I have a “Stepbrothers” fan, as well as a fan of… hazy oblivion. “Porn Freak” comes up regularly, too. Noticeably absent is the drug dealer who always finds a place in most apartments. “Find Jesus” popped up twice, perhaps in response to, and as a reminder of, the others. I’m going to have to change mine again. I’ll pick something boring. 🙂
The third picture is of one of the two windowsills I completely redid to not only fix the horrid condition of the previous sills but also to expand and support a wider sill for plants. And now, fortuitously, a prowling cat. The backside of the apartment complex is indeed a wilderness. I’m glad I live on the second floor. You’d have to be crazy to live on the bottom level. I’ll have to be creative in the big front window. Previously, I built a privacy blocker for the bottom of the large front window, which is just a foot off the floor. I flipped it so that Güino can perch there if he wishes. I’ll have to get creative to recruit more birds to the feeder. My neighbor has a monopoly on all of them with the draw of a vast variety of plants and feeders. Güino is accustomed to up-close and personal views of plants, squirrels, and birds. I’m sure my ex-wife is going to get up and miss seeing him at the various vantage points of the old house. The squirrels, however, will probably enjoy the privacy.
The last picture is of Güino perching behind the desk and on the flipped window guard. It’s a contrast having a black and white tuxedo cat in comparison to all the colors here.
This lamp was one of many of my side projects. I found the original child’s lamp at a thrift store. It was the one with the ornate and fascinating lampshade that I donated back to the store before leaving. I stripped it to pieces, took off the rough edges, and painted it a nice crazy pink color, reassembled it, and installed a Happy Light bulb in it. If you look closely at the lamp, you’ll see I left the pacifier on the end of the pull chain. I intended to put a firecracker bulb in it, similar to the one I left at my old house. A kind friend gave me one of the bulbs and knew that I would love to experiment with it.
Apps control these bulbs; when you play music, the bulb pulsates, oscillates, and changes color, intensity, and tempo with the music. When I have it on with the LED strips above my kitchen, it probably looks like rainbow lightning from the outside.
You can buy a minimalist lamp base and a bulb like this for less than $20, if such a thing interests you. Everyone should have one for visitors, especially when you’re ready for them to leave. Tell them, “I don’t like night lights. I sleep with this…” And then hit them with the polychromatic seizure-inducing light show. Tell your Aunt Hazel I said, “You’re welcome.”
I wish I could have a place filled with 140 colors, all of them competing. I love sleek minimalist design and color, too; it speaks to me.
But color? It makes me feel like the world matches the inside of me.
I’m calculating whether I can unscrew all the vertical banister rails of my landing and paint them red. “It was that way when I got here,” MIGHT be believable, right? It does amuse me to think about just going wild in this apartment and painting everything. I was promised that the apartment would be completely repainted before I moved in; it wasn’t. I could blame it on the handyman. The likelihood of him still being employed by the landlords gets increasingly smaller as time passes. 🙂
Knowing I took something old and rejuvenated with my energy tickles me, too.
I do hope they appreciate the body outline I’ve created on the floor between the kitchen and living bedroom.
I have more tiles drying outside. One of them is fluorescent green, otherwise known as the alien puke color. It’s lovely.
I wrote a heart-wrenching post and story today. This isn’t it. 🙂
After writing yesterday about coincidences, a couple of big ones popped up, like fish jumping out of the water and into the boat. It’s a bit mesmerizing, seeing unrelated things – and people’s stories – merge and overlap. A couple of these surprise coincidences were related to people having connections that I previously didn’t know about. Another was finding out that people had an entirely hidden life. (Or so they thought. People always know. And once people die, their stories become liquid and slide out of people’s mouths with greater ease.)
For those who take the time to share their stories, it is appreciated. Seriously. As with pictures, I love that people trust me with their tales and (often) invisible biographies. It adds a lot of value to my life. More so now than ever.
I made a huge pot of homemade chili yesterday. The apartment smells fantastic for once. 🙂 I’ll avoid the obvious joke here.
Yesterday and today, I painted several long floor tiles. Yesterday’s were cobalt metallic blue; today’s are deep, bright red. Instead of lacquering the deplorable countertops, I’m placing a series of tiles across some of the sections. I’m using felt on the bottom if such things interest you.
These also allow me to put hot pans all over the place, even if I’m not cooking. It’s essential to keep people guessing.
I also installed a hallway light where one didn’t previously exist. I was so spoiled at my last house. Because I planned, I had extensive photos of the house being built, including all the plumbing, wiring, and extraneous studs and braces in the walls. I have to be extra careful, like a barbarian, in this old apartment.
Though I won’t go into details, some of my overconfidence and previous exposure to violence finally worked on my behalf. I took a risk and confronted someone who needed a reminder of what constitutes civilized behavior. Shockingly, something in my eyes or deadpan delivery got through to him. I don’t know about y’all, but a whispered intention carries much more power than a shouted one. It is one of the few things that my Dad’s meanness resulted in a payoff for me. I don’t invoke it often. I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t foresee a trainwreck if I didn’t risk it. It was a small victory and will add a little peace to a few people’s lives. There’s no need for me to understand the person’s cruelty. Sometimes I forget that. It just needs to stop, and there are times when playing it safe sometimes makes it less so.
My backings and kits to make my own brooches arrived. I’m sure all of you have thought, “X really needs a lot more brooches.” Realistically, it’s cheaper to convert pendants and other items into brooches than it is to buy brooches. And it might be fun. I’ll let you know after I’ve stabbed myself sixteen times. Or tried soldering, only to melt my fingertips. Fortunately, I have insurance for my failures. It doesn’t hurt to have a jewelry expert handy when I have several dumb questions.
In another project, I learned that you can use vodka instead of perfumer’s alcohol when making your own eau de toilette or eau de cologne. In other news, perfumer’s alcohol is a real thing. Unlike perfumer’s alcohol, at least you can drink the vodka if you botch an attempt at making your own eau du toilette. The confounding aspect of this project is that I haven’t worn any cologne or scent since the Jurassic Era.
I got a surprise gift of Ghiradelli Sea Salt Soiree dark chocolates. I’ve been craving chocolate lately. They’re small enough I can’t overdo it. Well, I shouldn’t say “can’t.”
My weird set of stainless steel rainbow bowls arrived today. They are ridiculous. And I love them.
I got an extended free trial of Walmart +, which includes home delivery. I realized how much time and effort I was expending shopping and lugging groceries. Until you’ve carried 22 34-oz diet tonic water bottles and 30+ cans of fruits and vegetables, you don’t realize how much exercise this is. My first order didn’t include any refrigerated items. The next one will.
Fingers crossed and elbows oiled! (That’s one of my phrases, a reminder to be hopeful but be willing to get to work.)
Tomorrow is the anniversary of my wife Deanne’s death. I’m not one to memorialize as much on the “day of.” I’d rather have nostalgic moments pop into my head unbidden. Memories can be like beloved books; on the shelf, waiting. Being divorced has pushed me to take a more complex look at the phases of my life; her death put a sharp boundary and divide in my life. I’m reminded that I survived the turmoil. Part of my secret was not to wait for life to come to find me again. Despite all my trouble, most of my own making, I wonder.
I haven’t made a similar box in a LONG time; they take a lot of time, depending on the desired level of lunacy and intricacy. I’ve made them with hidden compartments, lever locks, plain, and in all manner of geometric shapes.
This one isn’t quite finished. It’s about 90%.
This one has a partial wooden dowel structure hidden inside a large cardboard box. The ‘lid’ is a decorative piece I stripped, painted, and attached hinges to. Each side is covered in various pictures: people, places, goofy photoshops, and keepsake memories. All of that is covered by a mile of pristine clear tape.
If you’re wondering how much time I spent getting to this point, you should just think of Stonehenge. After a few minutes of doing this sort of thing, I disappear a little bit into the effort. I don’t concentrate on the final result, in part because I often don’t know what it might be.
Yes, I jittered all the images on the box. It’s a thing that must be seen in person.
It’s not something most people would want.
It is interesting as hell to see, though, like a carnival ride on fire. 🙂
The mundane laziness of distance infects me. In The Before, as I call it, I drove miles out of my way to enjoy the eatery’s healthy chicken and pico de gallo extravaganzas, either in Springdale or Fayetteville. The truth is that it’s just not convenient to drive to MLK, much less to Springdale. Quick minds will point out I’ve walked past it during the nights the Wanderer calls me to leave my apartment and walk for miles.
I’m spoiled by time and distance now, living in the midst of so much and so many. Since I don’t bring unhealthy things home to eat, it’s easier than ever to eat without much thought. I’ve tried to incorporate more from the work cafeteria; it’s ironic that now that I could eat there more, their selection has diminished to a series of undesirable options from which I can choose. You’d imagine that a medical cafeteria would be predominantly healthy, especially since visitors can’t use it, thanks to Covid. You’d be wrong.
After stopping at a couple of flea-markety boutiques today, I realized that I could easily have 19 projects going if I didn’t deliberately choose a couple at a time. Yesterday was a barrage of creative and practical projects. The last boutique I visited had a nice collection of brooches. One of the workers there commented profusely about the polychromatic hummingbird I had pinned to my bright orange-red shirt. Several people commented at work. I’ve amassed a large number of explanations for why I’m wearing brooches. It’s amusing to know that people are taking an extra-long look and wondering, “Why is he wearing THAT?” Most people are inquisitive and interested. I’m not expecting a resurgence in brooch popularity anytime soon, though.
It was at that point my stomach said, “Hey, you might want to eat at some point!” In my defense, I did have a bag of PopChips earlier and a cup filled with baby carrots and hot sauce for breakfast.
I went to Tacos 4 Life. Despite its reputation for being a little pricey, I entered intending to find something delicious and healthy. Given that I no longer worry about looking dumb, I asked questions. Lo and behold, they offer lettuce beds instead of tortillas. Since I have two CASES of PopChips in the car, along with a large bottle of Tajin seasoning, I came prepared. Opting for the grilled chicken taco deal, minus the sour cream, cheese, and other needless ingredients, I was pleasantly surprised when the cashier said, “Oh, health care worker discount!” Total? A little over $12. That might sound like a lot – but I can’t go to a Tex-Mex place without spending $20 thanks to my pico de gallo addiction.
The cashier brought me chips and salsa. Or it was supposed to be. He got queso and chips instead.
“You can keep the queso. I’ll bring a bunch of salsa for you.” He noticed my large bottle of Tajin. “Wow, you brought your own spice.”
I offered some to him and explained its history. He was intrigued.
I finished my meal, beyond satisfied by volume and flavor.
Going up to the cashier, I handed him my large bottle of Tajin.
“This is for you. Give it an honest try. It surprises people. And I’d love to be the one who makes you a life-long fan of the stuff. I eat it on just about everything.”
He told me about his everyday supper and promised he’d try it later.
I surprised him. It’s nice being able to surprise people.
I went home and started another project, a custom paper trash receptacle to go by my desk. It’s going to be made out of a cardboard box, at least 500 sheets of differently-colored paper, and two miles of clear tape. People have told me that I sometimes look like Rainman when I’m engaged in these sorts of tedious and labor-intense projects. I’ll have to decide whether this box will be a 5-hour effort or 15. Keep in mind that in the picture, this is just the first stage of craziness.
But? I’m full of good food and creative energy. Doing 1,500 pushups yesterday and not sleeping well for two nights didn’t drain me yet.
As long as I can surprise people, there might be hope for me yet.
There’s a blog link to a sample of my previous box decorating.
I recently learned a little bit of Nepali to be able to surprise the clerks at a local convenience store. It’s already lead to some interesting interactions. It started with a clerk who was very reluctant to accept a tip of any kind when I bought lottery tickets.
Today, I was reminded of the interconnectedness of… well… everything.
I went to a local thrift store in search of a lamp I could disassemble, paint, and repurpose. Within 10 seconds, I found an interesting lime green children’s lamp, one with an ornate inset lampshade. Looking around, nothing else drew my eye. Getting into the long line to checkout, a woman stood in front of me with an adorable little brown-eyed girl. A minute later, another woman walked up to talk to the woman in front of me. She then stepped behind me. I turned and said, “Please go in front and stand with your friend. There’s no hurry here.” I wasn’t sure how much English she spoke, so I gestured dramatically. She thanked me and did so. The first woman turned and said something I didn’t understand. On a whim, I said “How are you?” in my weird accent in Nepali. Her eyes lit up and she rattled off something really long. I pulled my mask down and smiled, telling her that “How are you” was the only phrase I knew well. The little girl looked up at me and smiled. I said, “Hello” to her and although she did a little dance when I spoke to her, she then turned shyly away.
I wasn’t sure if the universe was trying to tell me that Nepali is in my future or if I needed to expand my narrow range a bit further.
Paying for the lamp, I asked if the clerk could take the ornate shade and resell it. “Yes! Thank you.” She then asked what I was going to do with the lamp base. The man behind me listened and said, “Well, that’s interesting.” So we all spent a few moments chatting. The clerk asked me if I sold the things I made. I laughed. I did appreciate the implied compliment though.
On the way out, the young man who’d been standing in the front calculating the cost of the few items he had temporarily placed on a table was still thinking. I put a $10 bill on the table and lied. “Someone gave this to me accidentally. It’s yours.” He looked confused – just long enough for me to hastily walk away and out the doors before he could respond. . …different topics… . I channeled my anxiety into overcoming the illusion that I couldn’t do more than 1,111 pushups today. Doing 500 by 6 a.m. signaled that it would be stupid to waste the opportunity. Lying in the bed and on the floor last night, sleepless, I knew I should have jumped up and gone outside to greet the Wanderer. Had I done so, today would have been a normal pushup today. Now, though? I broke my record again. I’d like to thank the academy, my pushup obsession, as well as lingering anxiety for making it all possible. . . I bought an outside light for my apartment door today. Opting against anything too interesting due to the likelihood of surprises ‘under the hood,’ so to speak, I didn’t want to risk buying a waterfall or prism light. After cleaning and disassembling the children’s lamp I purchased, I loosened the outside light screws. They were just screwed into the vinyl siding without a circuit box. Not exactly a surprise. A couple of days I’d seen a wasp go behind the light base into the vinyl. I used my sprayer to douse the area. Prior to loosening the screws, I pounded on the vinyl 2-3 feet in every direction, just to be safe. I stood on my upside-down Home Depot bucket. Just as I pulled the wires out, several wasps angrily swarmed out. They weren’t saying “Hello.” They were saying, “You’re dead, _______!” How I avoided getting stung is a good question. I swatted as I jumped off the bucket. I hit a couple and knocked them to the wood decking. After a few seconds, the remaining ones flew off. Though I value life, I stomped the daylights out of those I’d somehow stunned by hitting them with my hand.
I sprayed more insecticide into the hole around the wires. While I waited, I gave the lamp parts a second coat.
As I did, the hummingbirds came within two feet of me, watching, and then darting slightly up to the hummingbird feeder to grab lunch. They chatted and cheeped at one another as they did so.
I made homemade pizza; instead of sauce, I used Wickle’s hoagie spread. It’s hotter than a mom’s temper after a missed curfew, but delicious. I put the laundry in the machines down in the dungeon disguised as the laundry area for the apartments.
Sometime in the last few minutes, my prisms have washed the deck with several hundred little rainbow dots. The wall with the terrible light fixture is awash in them.
I’m going to go turn the power off now. I’ll change the horrible inside switch and put the new fixture outside.
I’ll let you know if the wasps even the score. If you hear screaming, it’s me.