Friday, December 12, 2008

tangled up in red, green, and jingly little bells




It really has been a while since my last post, hasn't it? I knew I was behind, but I don't think I'd quite realized how much.

I absolutely blame the holidays. We have been busy, busy, busy, and are leaving to see my family in St. Louis for Christmas soon. VERY SOON! And although I am really looking forward to the trip ever so much, I'm absolutely dreading a 3 1/2 hour flight with an active toddler on my lap. Is it legal to give a baby just half an Ambien? THAT WAS A JOKE.

But things are very good, I think. I've accomplished so many things this week that were on my Christmas to-do list, not to mention my dreaded everyday to-do list, that it's actually quite shocking. We even managed to buy about 80-85% of our gifts from Etsy sellers. And best of all, my sense of accomplishment is enormous (albeit much tempered by the realization that I haven't dressed the baby all day).

So, while I am busy trying to finish up Christmas gifts, lingering work projects, cleaning the house, and packing, (and dressing the baby!), here is something for you that I find terribly inspiring right now - perfect for the holidays, the economy, the new year, and, well, life:

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common — this is my symphony.

-William Henry Channing

Monday, November 17, 2008

today is


listening to the radio instead of the television
(bye bye elmo & matt lauer, hello patty griffin)
having a grapefruit for breakfast instead of peanut butter honey toast
(really needing to stick to a diet, for once)
enjoying the cool morning air and the sight of green grass through the front door
(after being shut inside all yesterday, due to ash)

ignoring air quality alerts for just maybe one more hour
loving the quiet, the air, the light
wondering where two lost baby bottles are lurking, all milky...
looking for any excuse to skip the gym today
(and not finding one)
needing to draw.
missing my family
feeling a little lost again
knowing how to fix it

making the attempt, again.

Friday, November 7, 2008

fresh air

After a walk to the post office and the bank, a stop at the park is well-deserved!









heartsick

Sure, the election is over, and my man won (in such a big way), but I am still feeling oh so drained from a week of politicking with friends & family.

I wish I could explain how hard it is, defending your choices and your faith to people who should know you best. But I am too tired. If you've been through it yourself, you know.

And so I've been floating through this week on the edge of elation and failure, hope renewed and the dark end of the road. I know too well that it is better to stay out of the discussion with some people, but emotions get so high around election time, and I always think I've found a better, kinder, more accessible way to explain myself. And in the end I feel like I've gone back to an abusive boyfriend, although there's nobody to blame but myself, I guess.

pffft. Drama, drama, drama, huh?


Doing my best to put it all behind me. It is warm and clear and skies are blue blue on the westside today, and as soon as my beautiful baby girl wakes up we are going to walk over crunchy leaves down to the post office and the bank. We will wear t-shirts and sandals and think about the lucky folks who woke up to snow this morning! (feeling equally lucky ourselves.) We both need fresh air. Maybe we all need fresh air.

Thank goodness it's time for a weekend.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

moop!



At last - I am so excited - my moop market bag arrived today! It's like a little post-election celebration present!



I've been looking and looking for a pretty, all-season, go-with-everything bag that could double as a laptop meet-with-clients bag or a diaper+bottles+extra-Lena-outfit (read: the ultimate, PERFECT) bag, and I think I've found it at moop. (Thank you, Etsy!)



It took a couple of weeks to arrive, but I believe that's because they were busy making it just for me. It's gorgeous, soft, sturdy, has big pockets inside that can hold bottles and power supplies, and completely beats out both my black (albeit very useful for a newborn) Skip Hop diaper bag as well as my black nylon (durable and free) Technicolor swag laptop case.


(image from moop)


(image from moop)


Jimmy, I'm sorry I beat you to a Christmas present. You'll just have to find something else, I think...

so happy, so proud

President Barack Obama - it just feels so good to say.


...can't wait for January.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

a little monkey, a little democracy




We skipped town Friday night to surprise Lena's grammie and great-grandparents with her trick-or-treating little monkey self, with the added bonus of vegging in their sleepy seaside town on Saturday and Sunday. They live up in Morro Bay where the big news right now is the new traffic circle under construction by Hwy 1. It was a lovely visit, and I broke my no-drinking no-sweets rule to celebrate. (Sit me down on an afternoon off with the Sunday crossword, a view of the Pacific, and a glass of port, and tell me not to indulge. Go ahead and try!)

Too bad that after all that relaxing I came back to emails and Facebook notes from friends and family hyped up about the election. - the election, and, more specifically, the fact that I no longer vote the way they do.

I have ZERO desire to get into it here, after I've now explained myself in writing a minimum of eight times in the last 36 hours, but I am a Christian democrat who was raised to belief that such a thing was a logistical impossibility. Let me tell you what a not fun position it is to be in.

So I am tired, and disappointed, and a little hurt, but it has not been all bad. I had one family member and two friends really, you know, reach across the aisle the last couple of days, and I tried to let them know how much that meant (and means!) to me.

And early this morning we walked in the cool waking sunshine along still-wet leaf-covered sidewalks to our neighborhood polling place, and I cannot fully express how exciting it was to mark that little dot next to Obama's name. I actually got a thrill, and left feeling so proud. Now Lena is prancing around the house in her "That One '08" t-shirt and "I Voted!" sticker to keep me encouraged. We've watched, researched, prayed, and done what we felt was right. We tried to mend fences with family. And now we're waiting and seeing.

Please vote today, for whomever you choose. Please be kind to your friends and family who disagree with you. Because this is how America works.




Thursday, October 30, 2008

what i think about when i'm alone




It's been threatening to rain here all day, in that strange surreal sort of LA way. I want to adequately describe the expansive rolling gray clouds that seemed to ebb and flow across the sky today, but any words I come up with seem to conjure up images of a traditional midwestern storm that really is nothing like what we have here. (Particularly in the aspect that midwestern storms usually actually materialize.)

But these clouds had a way of appearing and disappearing; looking like they were directly overhead, and then far off to the north, or west, or east. And these sort of tumbling gusty breezes accompanied the whole show, carrying the tiny papery tree seed pods that terrorize my entryway and showering them in great baleful swirls across the lawn so that they looked like snow.

It was alternately warm and cool. Pleasant and strange at the same time. Like someone added a Photoshop layer over the neighborhood, and painted it with storm.


I would really, really like for it to rain.




all images copyright melanie hill 2008

what husbands and wives talk about

On Oct 29, 2008, at 9:16 AM, Melanie wrote:

last night i dreamt that you left the new bottle of corzo open and standing in lena's soapy bathwater after she'd had a bath. when i went to clean up, i opened the shower curtain and knocked over the bottle, and it was just lying there under the water, and i couldn't tell what was old, soapy water and what was premium tequila.

i was so disappointed! and a little annoyed. why would you do something like that???


On Oct 29, 2008 at 9:36 AM, Jimmy wrote:

Drink the bath water you drunkard!


On Oct 29, 2008, at 9:58 AM, Melanie wrote:

heh. well, that is one interpretation, i guess. i thought the dream meant that i am CRAZY.


On Oct 29, 2008 at 10:21 AM, Jimmy wrote:

we didn't need a dream to get that info. i'm sure it's more about cleaning up your act now that the baby is here or something


On Oct 29, 2008, at 10:22 AM, Melanie wrote:

maybe it's my subconscious telling me to quit ignoring the fact that you like to bathe the baby in liquor. quit pouring tequila on the baby, jimmy!


On Oct 29, 2008 at 10:25 AM, Jimmy wrote:

it's a marinade! look in the cook book!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

turkey chili



Jimmy made turkey chili last night, and I am happily enjoying it for lunch today. Now, I do not pretend to be a great (or even very good) food photographer, but let me tell you, if you are not drooling over this photo, you are just wrong. And I pity you.

Of course, I had to let Jimmy know today how much I love and appreciate having this big vat of comfort food in my refrigerator, and what was his response? "You know, you can't just eat chili all day." Excuse me? Aren't you the crazy man who had to stay up past midnight last night in my kitchen, working on his masterpiece? Didn't you come running into the living room FIVE times with spoonfuls for me so I could taste the subtle differences in your changing recipe? (Once after I'd brushed my teeth for the night??) And now you're telling me to go easy on the chili?

You want me to eat some veggies, I think you know what to do. PUT THEM IN THE CHILI.


Incidentally, for beautiful food photography, go here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

feeling the love! no, really.




Wednesday, and baby is still too under the weather for going out. And at this point, by "under the weather" what I mean is, "not feeling too bad but still dripping snot in a way that would have us kicked out of the gym daycare immediately assuming the caregivers aren't first grossed-out into submission by the incredible snot-o-matic." I'm beginning to wonder if I'm ever going to be able to establish a gym routine if the daycare there is giving her colds. It's inevitable, though, right? If not now, then we'll just be doing this when preschool comes along. Right??

Again, just as well, as I have lots of freelance work to do, and am still on a sketching kick that feels fantastic. Besides, who needs to fit into something cute by Christmas? We all know that the pride of having been a productive and responsible member of society - highly skilled at toddler diaper changes - far outweighs the temporary pleasure of looking hot at that one annual holiday party where you're sure to see somebody's ex or two and that guy that never called you about a job like he promised and oh maybe an ex-coworker from the horrible show you worked on that left you sobbing in your car every night at one a.m. Pfft. Yeah. Priorities, people.

As you can see, I am in a very good place today. Balanced, you might say. Zen. These thoughts, paired with a recent attack of that chronic naivete on the subject of family and politics, a sweet baby so afflicted with snot and EIGHT NEW TEETH that she crumbles if the cat looks at her askance, and the fact that we are very nearly out of Trader Joe's peanut butter, are really helping me maintain a cheery outlook on things.

And is it just me, or is the entire nation on edge?

No no, not to worry. I'm headed off for a fresh cup of coffee which will make everything look better. And OH, my new autumn-mix cd just arrived from love squalor over at Full Instrumental!! Really, truly, the day is not lost. Thank you, thank you, it could not have come on a better day!




images copyright 2008 melanie hill

Monday, October 27, 2008

especially the dazzling blue skies


My baby girl is feeling better, but still has a bit too much of a runny nose to take to the gym with me. It's just as well. I have a pile of actual work to do, alongside my, you know, just daily life of washing bottles, picking up toys, and (taking a stab at) keeping up with correspondence. Not to mention I've been officially bitten by some sort of creative bug....which is not a complaint....I've been praying for this to happen my entire life. Okay, maybe not my entire life. Just since I was four.

On a side note, I think I really am giving up snacks and alcohol until Thanksgiving. Call it my autumn Lent. Because I'm home all day everyday and have the willpower of a three-year-old, I figure this is the closest I can get to a cleanse, which just sounds so refreshing. And we're beginning the holidays this year with Jimmy's Italian side of the family, so the prospect of guilt-free cabernet, homemade gnocchi, and fried cream-of-wheat is a goal well worth the agony.

It's supposed to hit 80 degrees today in Los Angeles, but I hear it's snowing in the northern states. I'm imagining pure white crystalline snow crusted on dry brown and golden leaves....maybe it's clear and cold, but not too cold to take a walk in the woods, breath hanging in the air, and the scent of bonfires....dazzling blue skies... does anybody have this? I wonder.


Back to work.



all pictures copyright melanie hill 2008

even the weather is soft today



Lena has had a cold all weekend and is still recovering, so the two of us have spent the day at home in our comfies, making the best of it. Sesame street, sorting toys by color, tissues, too many milk bottles, and lots of cuddles are the order of the day.

While she naps I am busy looking at our finances and trying to lay out some kind of basis for discussion so Jimmy and I can continue to plan our family's future. Everything feels very pivotal now, but I suspect we will be having these sorts of conversations for the rest of our lives. And that's okay. If we weren't talking about our goals, where would we be headed? Likely nowhere, and we're both in agreement that we don't want to turn around in twenty years and realize we never even looked at our options.

And I am drawing today, which feels nice. Finally looking at some old pieces that I still like in hopes of being inspired. It has been refreshing - playing with old styles, new paper, and just generally spoiling myself. Maybe there will be something new to share tomorrow. Maybe not. Today it is enough to make too much coffee, listen to the hum of traffic outside, write a little, draw a little, and love on my baby girl.

Nobody would hate Mondays if they were all like this.



all pictures copyright melanie hill 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

baby-bama

We were given this super-cute baby tee for our cutie Miss Lena by some friends, and I can't wait to deck her out in our favorite nominee's gear in hopes that the combined cuteness will rub off on some undecideds. But I wonder....did the designers ever even notice the manufacturer's logo?




Or maybe this tiny elephant is just one of many defectors to the democratic party this year...

turning down the static


(It only took thirty years, but I have finally found my perfect breakfast - warm whole wheat toast, natural peanut butter & honey, black coffee.)

I actually had a tough time getting to sleep last night after writing about Holly's post on what I will now dub making your life what you want. While it is very true that I was making a mental list of exactly how expensive it would be to change out the items in our living room that I am (grateful for) but sick of looking at (sorry, Jimmy), I was primarily thinking about what I want in life, what Jimmy and I want as a couple (& family), and what sort of things in our life are superfluous. What can we change and what can we cut out? What is really worth sacrificing for?

It's a timely question, because I think we're both already in the middle of thinking on these things. Already we have been working on small changes, mine being:

- get up early(er) in the morning
- head to the gym 2-3 times a week
- turn off the tv during the day
- eat healthier
- buy less
- write more

Each one of those items could have entire posts devoted to them, and I will spare you the boredom. While they may appear to be small changes, for me they can be summed up as cut out the noise and concentrate on who I want to be.

And I am strongly considering cutting out sweets and alcohol until Thanksgiving. This, coming from the girl who can't stay on a diet through lunchtime! Yes, you many feel free to mock.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Quick! To the Ikea-mobile!

Holly over at decor8, one of my favorite blogs, posted a terribly inspiring rundown today of how she and her husband are managing to become bi-continental and furnish a newly-remodeled apartment in Germany in the midst of this crazy economy. I'm so happy she was brave enough to be so personal (not that sharing pictures of your living space every day isn't personal, but sharing your finances? gutsy), because I know I've been enviously drooling over her life and work and thinking oh-that's-so-fabulous-if-you-can-afford-it.

Well, apparently you can afford something if you plan for it and work for it and have a little patience. Crazy, right? I am inspired and impressed, and learning a lesson or two about making assumptions.



...and thinking a little about throwing everything out of the house and starting over....hmmm...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

what just happened (& mixed metaphors)

You may notice, (all three of you), that the archives are gone.

It isn't an accident. I loved being here in this space for a good couple of years until a few roadbumps threw me rather far afield. Pregnancy, for one. Pregnancy being shorthand for "panic, constant nausea, a desperate need for sleep at all hours, and waffle cravings, not to mention a sudden desire for more privacy." So, there was that, and then there was a beautiful angel baby all pink and wide-eyed and rather demanding, and then there was another - and worst yet - bout of depression. It's been... hmmm. It's been a lot to adjust to.

I should have taken the opportunity to write more. Record every new moment, every blessing, every stupid piece of advice, and every desperate requirement for pudding of any kind (no, not pudding - yuck! - CHEETOS). I didn't. Instead, when I found myself sitting in playgroup with the mommy who was bragging about potty training her six-month-old ("Noooo, we don't call them 'accidents!' We call them 'misses.'"), I thought, "Oh my Lord what an idiot this would make the funniest blog post" and then I went home and cleaned up an exploded poopy diaper and found out my baby girl had her first full-blown ear infections and geez louise did the cat get sick again?

Or something like that.

There were so many times I came by to write and just couldn't do it. For some reason the space here felt surprisingly confining. Ill-fitting. Maybe I outgrew it along with my jeans. And I thought once things settled down a bit I'd just pop right back in, but like my pre-maternity jeans, it just didn't seem to fit the same way.

As you can see, though, I didn't want to leave altogether. And so, instead of committing the cardinal blogging sin of ditching this blog in favor of a new one, I've committed what I hope is only the PENULTIMATE blogging sin of removing all the archives and sprucing up the site. Just a little. You didn't even notice until I mentioned it, did you? I didn't think so.

At least I feel better about it. The archives are now someplace safe where they will only be accessed again if I ever need to blackmail myself. (Yes they are THAT retarded.) And I'm here, and ready to write again. Now you know.