Monday, January 31, 2011

5 - Winter is for the Birds

Following closely behind these bird tracks were cat prints. Did the cat stalk the bird? Or did it catch the scent hours after the bird had left? Or maybe the cat had been there first. The snow records their presence but leaves us no timeline except to reveal that the birds are returning from their southern vacation and that means that spring can't be that far behind.

The Lotus 52s is my 2011 project to capture one photo a week. I have a new lens and that makes it the right time to get to know my camera better. This is my effort to improve my images, to improve my processing, and to learn more about the world around me.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Lotus List Update: 1000 piece puzzle

Another item on my list is done! This one was an easy one and perhaps some would say finishing a 1000 piece puzzle is too simple of a goal for a Life List. But I am Lotus and this is MY LIST. And I'd never done a puzzle before. With Big D's help, I've now completed two!

We started the Yosemite puzzle the day after Thanksgiving. Still burning from the fact that we had to abandon a puzzle, unfinished at our vacation condo on the North Shore, we came home and immediately went out to buy another. We didn't complete it until Christmas Day. I admit we considered giving up, but got quite the boost from out neighbor who re-energized our enthusiasm.

We started the Taj Mahal puzzle on New Year's Eve. It was completed this last weekend. This one was much easier!

Puzzling is a good activity for us two, being new parents and all. We can sit with some wine and puzzle after the Baby Lotus Bud has fallen asleep. We talk, we listen to music, we stop for dinner and to refill our wine glasses. When we are puzzling, I don't feel like there is somewhere else I want to be and that's a very good thing.

Item #126 on the Lotus List complete!

I have a lot of catching up do on this list. In 2010 I completed several items on my list but I still have not had the chance to post about them. Stay tuned for more. And don't forget to make a list of your own!
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Iron Craft: Get Cozy

This week's Iron Craft challenge was to make a coffee cozy. I think this was a great challenge because these coffee cozies are reusable alternatives to those cardboard sleeves that come with every single cup of coffee bought at a coffeehouse. Also, I was itching to knit something.

I had seen the ones that Kat made last year and envied her fine work. I was thrilled to see this for the week's challenge and had big dreams.

Big, big dreams.

To say I got obsessed with this challenge would not be far from the truth.

Did these dreams materialize? Somewhat. Am I entirely happy with the results. No. But I did it and I am sharing what I completed AND I plan to use the ones that I made.

Please excuse the blurriness of this photo. I had a couple glasses of wine. And let me tell you, wine does make knitting a little difficult, especially because I decided to do a fair isle pattern.

I attempted to edge the sleeve with ribbing, but that was not working. I was struggling with the DPN needles, the cat trying to eat the yarn and the Baby Lotus Bud tugging on my sleeve. After several failed attempts, I decided to move forward without it.

I wanted to make something that would remind me that Spring was on it's way. Flowers were the way to go. It seemed to work because after a week of single digit temperatures, the temps rose as I was working on these sleeves. We actually got above 20 and that sure seems like a heat wave!

The floral pattern comes from toys to knit which includes a pattern for a teddy bear. I made the teddy before the Baby Lotus Bud was born and I named him Teddy Marley. I have not made him a sweater yet, instead I used the design for the coffee cozy.

This challenge forced me to seriously think about gauging my stitches because I had to think about creating as I went along. While I am sort of happy about this, I thought the colors didn't pop like I wanted. So, I tried again.

Unfortunately, this time the gauge was off so the coffee cozy turned out too long and little loose. The Big D called it "overkill".

So of course, I couldn't stop there. I made one for him and this time I finally figured the gauge right.

In this last one I decided to get that ribbing down. I tried and tried and tried again (yes, three times) with the other cozies I made, but it just wasn't happening for some reason. I tried it before the wine so I can't blame it on alcohol.

I'm pretty happy with this last one. The Big D took it into work yesterday and because he was running late, he picked up coffee rather than bringing it from home. Apparently it was a hit with his co-workers. The Big D works for an organic, environmentally-conscious company so there were many people who appreciated the reusable sleeves. There have been requests! Now I have to find the time to make some for others. But these knit up fairly quickly (now that I've got the pattern down) so I might be able to sell some of my knits.

The question is: Am I crafty enough? Indeed I am ! Now I just have to find the time!

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Monday, January 24, 2011

4 - Mississippi Queen

I was thrilled to spot so much color on this gray Winter day. The Mississippi Queen is just as beautiful today as it is during warmer seasons. The stairway leading onto the boat was a huge temptation but trespassing wasn't on the agenda for today.

The Lotus 52s is my 2011 project to capture one photo a week. I have a new lens and that makes it the right time to get to know my camera better. This is my effort to improve my images, to improve my processing, and to learn more about the world around me.

The weather is bitter cold here in Minnesota. See what else the world has to offer at Communal Global.
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Iron Craft: Just Bunt (or Garland)

This week's Iron Craft challenge is to create a bunting or a garland.

How I got to the idea for my project requires some explanation. Like I said yesterday, I had grand plans to make a thousand cranes in anticipation for the birth of the Baby Lotus Bud. I planned to hang as many as I could from the ceiling of her room. My dreams got squished when I chose the wrong, meaning harder, peace crane pattern. It took me twenty minutes to make each crane (that was when I got used to the pattern and picked up the speed). I was annoyed with myself and settled on making about thirty.

Her one year birthday is coming up. Can you believe it? My baby will be one year old in less than a month!

This week's challenge got me thinking about decorations for her birthday party. I feel so in sync with this whole Iron Craft adventure!

The birthday party will be a small gathering of family, some other Mamas, and a couple hundred cranes. I found a different pattern and it is much simpler: a pattern for the flapping bird. I can make about 15 in an hour. I even ordered some black paper so I make some raven-like birds (Raven is my daughter's middle name). But those will come later this week, after the deadline for the Iron Craft challenge.

So I made my way to Joann Fabric and picked up some origami paper. While there I found paper that has fold directions right on it for making wild animals. Specifically lions, giraffes and elephants.

These were so fun to fold! Quite the noble looking menagerie, wouldn't you say?

Then came the scramble to make cranes.

The Big D had gotten a whole box load of nice twine from where he works. I think they were supposed to be part of a holiday project about 5 years ago. They never followed through with the idea, so the company was just giving it away. This is the first time I am using this twine, but I sure was glad to have it sitting around here in my house. I probably have more than 50 of these bundles. Need twine?

I couldn't figure out how to string the wild animals for a garland without destroying their elegant shapes. So I settled for a string of cranes which I have hung in the dining room.

The nice thing about this particular folding origami pattern is that once I get used to it, I can start churning them out. I finished my whole package of paper.

Although the effort to meet the challenge may be complete, the project to fold a few hundred cranes is ongoing. I have a lot of folding to do from now until February 10!

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Menagerie

I spent the weekend folding origami animals and cranes for my contribution to this week's Iron Craft challenge. I am making a garland for the Baby Lotus Bud's room.

Lions, giraffes and elephants...Oh my! These come with the fold pattern on the paper which made them fairly easy to make.

When I was pregnant I made a bunch of cranes to hang from the ceiling of the nursery. I didn't realize that I had chosen the more difficult pattern: the peace crane. So much for making a 1000 cranes.

These here are much easier to make and supposedly you can tug on the tail and they will flap their wings. 1000 cranes just may happen sometime soon!

As of today, I'm still folding. I have about 30 more to go for the garland. Wish me luck!

See what's happening around the world today at Communal Global!

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Monday, January 17, 2011

An Evening of Women and Art

How perfect is it that my first night on a Friday without baby is to an art exhibition at Homewood Studios entitled "Women: Relationship and Identity"?

Venturing out in the early evening snowfall I made my way over to North Minneapolis, which is not an easy feat these days as all but one bridge that crosses the river from Northeast Minneapolis are closed. I put my Jeep into 4-wheel drive and navigated my way to the gallery. It was worth every effort it took to get there as the Art Exhibition was wonderful and Homewood Studios turned out to be this lovely, shining place on a dark little corner of Plymouth Avenue.

I am definitely in that phase of life where my identity is radically changing. I am a new mother, I am turning 40 this year, I left academia to pursue something else with the sneaking suspicion that the something else might actually be "art."

With the intent to demonstrate more than just simple statements about women's identity, the exhibition's curator Sarah Rust Sampedro presents a "visual conversation about the role relationships play in the identity of women." She goes on to state that women are the "relational gender" which I took to mean that relationships play a fundamental part in decisions made by women, in the paths that women dare to tread, in the battles that women choose to engage, the joys that they seek, and the art they choose to create.

The exhibition presented pieces from many local artists as well as some from women across the country. There was a variety of mediums including textile, photography and paint. curlers. Yes, I did look very closely in this piece and discovered hair amongst these curlers which made me smile. What a way to re-use and re-purpose! This piece was created by Elizabeth Lundberg Morisette who resides in Fort Collins, Co (which is also the location of the Fat Tire Brewery, just in case you wanted to know where that awesome beer comes from!). The piece is called "Beauty School Dropout." It was one of the first I saw as I entered Homewood Studios and a result that song from Grease was in my head for a large part of the evening.

KimyiBo created this textile piece and declared it to be "Hope." She is the local artist and mother who invited me to this exhibit. I wish my photo was better so that the colors of this stunning piece were vibrant and visible. In her artist statement, she says "Identity is the result of a struggle to achieve balance between inner self and the world." Her piece demonstrated the fractured, yet harmonious nature of women's identity through this chaos of color and geometric structures.

"A Kiss on the Cheek Can Be a Stab in the Back." Who hasn't experienced this sort of kiss? Jasmine King is a local artist and her piece is from a larger series called "21," which were created at the young age of 21. Damn. It was profound, not only in content but also to think she had such wisdom at such a young age. And the ability to capture the sentiment with such precision.

Sampedro's arrangement of this piece in particular was brilliant. Placed at the end of a long hallway, the painting drew you along and raised curiosity. No problem if you go straight to it as King's art is undeniably compelling. You must walk back through the hallway to get out, so there is time to focus on all the pieces that you may have passed to get to King's.

Like this one entitled "Internal/External."

Danielle Kutscheid pulls together graphite, paper, thread and linen into her artwork. I was drawn to this one, but it still took me a few moments to realize that the subject was breastfeeding.

An alternative title for this post is...Why do I see references to breastfeeding everywhere?

It is because I am a woman, a nursing mother, a resident of Minnesota where breastfeeding is protected by law, and because my instincts and vision are driven by the major changes brought into my life when I gave birth to the Baby Lotus Bud. I know that all these factors have contributed to my identity, my relationship to those around me and the interactions I have with the surrounding community. Or it could just be that I am part of a community of new mothers who all seem to bare their breast in public. Which by the way brings about a whole new relationship between my body and society.

One thing I particularly enjoyed about this evening was the opportunity to hang out with other women of color, other mothers of color. This is important to me. While I am part of a fantastic community of Minneapolis Mamas, I crave sharing my motherhood experience with other women of color. The experience raises my comfort level when breastfeeding in public.

Growing up as an South Asian American in Minnesota, I was constantly under the gaze of the majority White community around me. At times this gaze made me very uncomfortable. A bared breast causes stares in public, understandably so. As a nursing mother, my relationship to this community has changed. Because breastfeeding is a right protected by law in Minnesota, I take this to bolster my strength and will in providing the necessary nutrition for my baby anywhere and everywhere that it is needed.

The ways and means in which women carry this off - breastfeeding in public - is itself a beautiful art form.

The exhibition "Women: Relationship and Identity" runs from January 14-29 at Homewood Studios. Go check it out. And if you've got one, bring your baby along and breastfeed while you are there. Contact me if you want some company!

My thanks to George and Sarah for allowing me to photograph this amazing art!
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Sunday, January 16, 2011

3 - Evidence

Here's proof that I actually got out on a Friday night. That means out of the house, without baby, and not wearing sweat pants. And it was snowing! And I had a glass of wine!

I met up with a couple of women that have recently come into my life and for that I am grateful! Not only did I get out, but I got out to an art exhibition. One of these women is an artist whose submitted a piece for the show. More on the exhibition in the next post. Right now I just want to bask in the experience of being out on a Friday night!
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Iron Craft: Snakey Door Thingy

This week's Iron Craft challenge is to make a "draft dodger" or "door snake." I had this project in mind for a few weeks now and even had all the materials available. That's before this week's challenge was announced. While I adore the tips for a "door snake," since I already had the materials I had to stick with the less fun, less hip "draft dodger."

My version is such a plain Jane version that I almost didn't even want to blog about it. But there's this thing called committment and because of that I have to stay committed to blogging about this week's craft challenge. Besides I heard that it takes three weeks for habits to sink in and so I don't want to make a break in my crafting/blogging stride.

The supplies: fabric (clearance at the fabric store) and bags of beans (I bought cheap ones on sale at the local grocery store).

Here it is:

Pay no attention to the dust on the floor!
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Monday, January 10, 2011

Letters to the Lotus Bud: Eleven Months

Little Lotus Bud,

I totally missed out on writing your letter last month. It was a crazy month, full of lots of things that needed to get done. On top of that, your Daddy was home from work for nearly half the month and when he's around there's no time to do those things that fit in our regular schedule. There are too many really fun things to do with him around and he doesn't get time off all that often so we have to make the most of it.

Also, I haven't taken many pictures lately. It's hard to catch you sitting still AND it's a cold, winter out there so there aren't too many places to shoot. I know these are just a bunch of excuses but the truth is winter hit hard here in Minnesota and it's not letting up, putting a damper on my mood and energy. You don't seem to mind the snow and cold. Look how you just fell asleep on a totally snowy day!

You've also started moving around. I always have to keep my eye on you now. You are everywhere and into every little thing, especially those things that you shouldn't be into like the power strip and the cat food bowls! It's fun to see you making your way around the world. You've got the army crawl down and it is so dang cute!

But, oh man, you've got a temper. I think that comes from me. You get so angry when I pull you away from something that you were playing with or simply don't want to let go! You're squirmy when we try to change your diaper and thank goodness you have a deep abiding love for your diaper rash cream tube or else there would be no diaper changes in this house.

Your Daddy and I got a membership at a local health club where they have a 90 degree swimming pool. Last month you got your first swimming certificate from lessons at a local high school and we've continued the swimming at the health club. You seem to love it. Truly! You even like your baths much more and seem to try to swim in the bath tub. In the pool, you hold on to my fingers and kick your legs like a froggy. It's amazing to see you take to the water and I hope you have that enthusiasm for all the different things we want to share with you!

That health club has two hours of free child care per day. Did you read that correctly? TWO HOURS OF FREE CHILD CARE! Wahoo! Oh my goodness, I can't even tell you how liberating it feels to me to drop you off in that facility and head to the locker room for my workout! Mostly it's going good. There are some staff you really like and some you really detest.

We were members of that club years ago but it is a little bit of a drive for us, so we quit and joined a smaller one closer to us. Now we are back mainly for the pool and the family activities and that drive seems just long enough to put you to sleep. You nap on a regular basis now and I am so glad we didn't tussle over this issue because it seems to just have come naturally to you. I'm learning to be a Mama, you're teaching me to follow my instincts.

Christmas was interesting. I couldn't help but feel proud that you didn't trust this big white guy in the weird suit!

We spent Christmas Eve with your Daddy's family. You didn't quite get the concept of presents in terms of ripping the wrapping paper off, but you do seem to like the new toys. It's a good thing we got a few new things for you because you get bored with toys really fast and daily need new things to stimulate your interest.

Christmas was also the first time you ate from the adult table. That's been a worry of mine lately. I want you to be able to eat with us and move away from the pureed foods. But we don't usually have the energy to cook dinner until after you've gone to bed for the night. Now we're making a point to eat breakfast and lunch with you and I'm learning new tricks from other Mamas. Like the fact that I can cut up pieces of turkey for lunch and you'll eat them. And then you'll fall asleep for a good two hours! Bonus!

The pickle was the first food you grabbed and ate on your own. Now you've moved onto squash, avocado, bread and of course, turkey.

Our big Christmas present for you was a sled. It's a blast taking your around the neighborhood! You chatter away while we drag you over the snow on the city sidewalks. You always look so happy. We have to be careful to not let your cheeks get chapped because I think if it was up to you, you'd stay out there for a long, long time. We took you sledding on Christmas day and I can honestly say that was the best holiday I ever had.

On New Year's Eve I kept telling you that when you woke the next morning, it would be a whole new year. But I don't think you quite understood. That's OK. You slept all night, like every night and for that I am grateful.

So I'm going to end this letter with a few pictures I took of you for Christmas cards. Please don't hate me when you grow up for dressing you like this. You should know that I made the hat and added the feather trim to the red onesie. Even if you do hate it just know that I made it with love!

I can't believe that in a month you are going to a whole year old! You're growing up so fast. I already miss the tiny little peanut that you were.

Love from me, your Mommy
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2 - The Snow is Here to Stay

It's going to be here for months! It's piling up. I remember when I was younger, it seemed that snow fell around Halloween and stayed until April. At least this year the big piles of snow didn't come until December. This is when I start to think global climate change might not be such a bad thing for Minnesota. Except for the fact that the farms get flooded in the summers, the region experiences draughts and killer tornadoes become regular occurrences. OK, so maybe global climate change isn't good. I'll take the snow because right now it's beautiful!

ETA: The whole point of this project is to improve upon my photography, not only in terms of composition, but also processing. And also to better know my camera. Making the switch to digital has been tough for me because of all the variables.

Big difference in the processing of these two photos, no?

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Iron Craft: Fire and Ice

I joined another group. I'm so into the group thing. And when that group does things, I get all tingly and excited inside about participating.

IRON CRAFT! 1 year, 52 challenges. Oh. My. Goodness. Gracious. Crafting.

This week is the first challenge: Lighting the Winter Gloom.

This is my contribution to this week's challenge.

I affectionately call it "Fire and Ice"

We got rain here in Minneapolis over the New Year's Holiday. Rain followed by single degree temperatures, so it was icy. I couldn't think of how to tackle this project until I started paying attention to my surrounding. Ice!

empty carton - ice cream, half & half, etc.

I've made these candles before for winter dinner parties. Each time I try a different flower and these seemed to hold up pretty well. The trick is to find a flower that is somewhat sturdy. If the petals are too delicate, they won't hold up to the freezing, they'll look wilted.

I used a small votive candle that I picked up from the dollar store. The carton used to hold coconut milk ice cream - perfect size. Once you've gathered these simple items, it's just a matter of placing the flowers around the candle. In the past I've used larger cartons and candles which made for a more dramatic piece, but since there was more water involved, I lost control over the placement of the flowers. The smalled sized cartons allow for way more control.

With this size carton, the candle froze overnight. I put it in my freezer, but now that I think of it, I could have just put it outside!

As time goes by, the ice candle changes. It's important to have the right holder. I bought these ridiculously large wine glasses years ago thinking I'd actually use them. But when you lift the glass to take a sip, it seems like an ocean of wine comes pouring down. Oh well, as it turns out the wine glass is perfect for my ice candle.

I was a bit nervous when I signed onto Iron Craft. There are some seriously good crafters and knitters in the group. Also with Baby Lotus Bud around, it is very hard to get things done. I'm off to a good start and looking forward to the next challenge!
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Sunday, January 2, 2011

A New Project - The Lotus 52s - 1

Projects that require commitment are appealing to me. Last year I tried to do one photo a day, but then I had my baby a month earlier than planned that threw everything off! This year I am going to try to do one photo a week: The Lotus 52s.

I realized that I do much better with smaller projects. The 28 Days project that recorded the changing seasons here in Minnesota was fun to do and extremely satisfying to finish.

Taking on a project like this allow me to be more than just a Mama. I get to keep an eye on all that surrounds me trying to capture another great photo.

I think I can do it and at the very least, I'm going to give it a try!
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Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Day

I haven't blogged in a while. It's been a crazy, busy end to 2010. I am grateful for all that has happened and all that has come to my life in 2010.

It's a new year, a new decade.

I'm excited for all the new opportunities and possibilities.

It is the Year of Lotus!

And I'm ready for the challenges ahead of me.

May the best of my past be the worst of my future.

Solute! Joy! Blessed Be! Cheers!

2011 - here I come!!!
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