November 25: Notes to myself

November 26, 2012 § Leave a comment

Our guests have left and it’s back to our daily lives, in which I get to caught up in To-Do’s that I forget some basic things like deep breathing and staying hydrated. So today I made little signs to put around the house to remind myself of certain things. I put a Relax and a Stay Calm sign in front of J’s room: it applies to both of us. there is a Dance sign by the radio and a few others in perhaps unexpected places. Let’s see if it prevents me from taking myself too seriously.

this one is above the changing table where i spend a fair amount of my time



November 2: Altar

November 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

We do this every year: we pull out our Day of the Dead decorations, buy some bread from the neighborhood Mexican bakery, and bring out the pictures and possessions of our loved ones who have passed away. Then we make an altar that we keep up for a few days, honoring those no longer living.

October 28: Complaints box

October 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

The older I get, the more fearful I become. There are so many things to fear, so many reasons to worry. This is no way to live, so while I work on figuring out a more forceful approach to the problem, I have turned a cardboard jewelry box into a box to file away fears, worries, and complaints, and leave them there for the Universe to deal with.

It never hurts to be a little tacky, hence the heart stickers. Some lavender sprinkled in there. On the outside, the phosphorescent Virgin from an excellent Loteria (Mexican Bingo) set I bought ages ago in Tucson and just found today while browsing through some drawers, along with some other excellent future art materials. My first note is written on handmade paper and rolled up.

Doing this reminded me of a quote from one of  the favorite books of my early twenties, Teachings of Don Juan: “The first enemy of a man of knowledge is Fear.”

October 21: Portable shrine

October 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Because I had to dismantle the altar where I kept my goddesses, seasonal decorations, and other inspirations to make room for the baby changing table, and because I was advised to do so by my new creativity book mentioned in yesterday’s post, I made a miniature version of an altar, i.e. a portable shrine. It looks a little like the shrines one sees around Tucson, and a little like an I Spy scene. The best part is, it can be dismantled or rearranged at any time.


It contains lots of things, even a Lego version of the golden snitch that J. made, a “Vote Socialist Workers” button from the 70s, some acorns I found today (relevant due to a recent dream), sage, and even a sunflower eraser from the Van Gogh museum. What it does not contain are nice looking push pins. This is the first time in ages that I didn’t have exactly the right supply for a project. Now, D. is the real shrine master in this house. If he lets me, I may photograph his shrines for the blog in the near future.


October 16: Kolam

October 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

A colleague and friend from India introduced me to the art of kolam.  She even invited me to collaborate with her on a paper about it, and in the process I learned a lot about this ancient Indian art. The designs are created by women every morning at thresholds of homes, traditionally using rice flour. The designs are supposed to bring prosperity. The rules for the creation of kolam are strict. There are multitudes of designs, some of which can be found at

Today she visited our home as we needed to prepare for a workshop we are conducting with fifth graders next week, featuring kolam. She brought rice flour and showed J. and me how to draw the designs. He and I were hopeless of course, but were both intrigued by the process. I definitely want to get more practice. It was amazing to watch her hand movements. Elegant and enchanting. I didn’t have the heart to sweep up the flour, so the designs are still on the kitchen floor.

September 26: health candles

September 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

As I mentioned the other day, there have been unusual illnesses, freak accidents, and unfortunate events around me recently. It makes me uncomfortable. Superstitious. Yesterday I bought two tall, glass, Mexican candles, and tonight my little helper and I created what I decided to call health candles:

His is on the left. It is a “health creature.” The creature has three hands, and the hands hold bottles, which restore health. Great  idea.

Mine, on the right, has a picture of Hygeia, the Greek goddess of health, as portrayed by Gustav Klimt. J. thought her eyes were scary, but you need scary eyes to keep illness away, I think.

On the back of mine, there is also a Buddhist prayer:

taken from my WomanPrayers book.

While I will make sure not to share pencils with students, not to shake hands with people who cough, to get my kids vaccinated, and be safe in traffic, it doesn’t hurt to also be on the divinities’ good side. I therefore intend to light these candles with wishes for health, not only for my family, but for all those I know, especially those who are currently ailing.

August 26: loose ends

August 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

Due to a promise I made last night, J. & I started the day with more exquisite corpse drawings, this time joined by dad. What a great way to pass time and keep everyone happy! I will have to try it next time we are stuck somewhere with a whining child.

The one above is my favorite. Folding the paper in quarters didn’t work so well (the bottom drawing in the top picture), but we are certain to try again.

There was another loose end to tie, the final in our series of family pouches. This one was for D, more precisely for our relationship. Apart from lemon balm (smells heavenly, is associated with romance) and lavender (perennial favorite, associated with devotion), it contained two ceramic hearts, two ceramic butterflies (transformation), and a few carefully chosen words.

It is now on the family altar in the living room, with all the other ones. More positive thoughts are needed in our sometimes grumpy home.

August 22: Blessing pouch

August 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

Of course, if one child gets a pouch, so should the other, though the blessings one wants to bestow on a baby are more generic, as her character is not yet known. So, in addition to the generic traits I think every girl should have (courage and strength, for example), I wished her the Sun, the Moon, and the stars.

For her pouch I used my handmade paper and multicolored fairy dust… I mean glitter.

Because my little sunshine got inspired by my pouch making, he made one for me, so now there are three:

When I make one for D. hopefully tomorrow, the whole family will be blessed!

August 21: Blessing pouch

August 22, 2012 § 2 Comments

My little sunshine, J, has never been an easy child. He is smart, funny, creative, and fascinating in many ways; but also moody, whiny, and sometimes nearly impossible. This has been especially true since his sister came along.

When he was born, D. and I made a pouch with wishes for his future. It’s still around somewhere, and I am need to find it to read what we wrote. In the meantime, because of his recent grumpiness, I thought it was time to make him another one.

I started with a pouch filled with camomile (to calm down, like Peter Rabbit), lavender, some paper, sharpie, and glitter (fairy dust):

I wrote the character traits I would like him to have

rolled them up, put them in, added some glitter, and there it was:

I asked him what he wants for himself, and while it’s hard to get a straight answer out of him, he did say two things that  I added to the pouch:

I hope it works. If nothing else, I hope it helps me accept him for who he is.

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