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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Breaking Down My Funny Bone

I Am Funny. 
Really, I am. 

I can even be hysterically-bend over-holding your guts funny.
On the rare occasion, someone listens long enough to hear it.
Listening is a lost art. 
Hearing what a person says; all of what a person says and watching their body language. 
Instead we listen to prepare a response. 
Never truly hearing what the person is trying to convey.
I catch myself doing this consistently.
I'm afraid my carefully prepared comment will be wandering around in the recesses of my brain, like a toddler in a toy store. 
Unretrievable, heading to the general populace of the mall.
Perhaps that thought should disappear. 
How could I truly know how to respond when I have still to listen, to hear?!
Now, back to my funny bone.
I can also be sharp and cutting. Revealing that foible or indiscretion of yours.
Enter sarcasm...
Having tamped my latent sarcasm over decades; I continue to yearn for my sidekick. 
Sarcasm was my greatest companion in my party days. Hours of inebriated hilarity. 
I guffawed, they chortled, we corporately snickered as the poor soul with the invisible bullseye was verbally skewered. 
Somehow enjoying their own skewering and consorting with the howling throng.
Sarcasm was also my greatest weapon of defense, when I was scared or hurt. 
Which was often.
"Defense is the best offense", was my litany. 
Strike first lest you be struck, et al.
One day I realized sarcasm could be painful to the recipient and I reformed my ways. 
Cold turkey off the sarcasm was akin to when I quit smoking cold turkey. Seriously true. 
Man, I think I did both in the same year. Whew! The year of rehabilitation.
In the 2 decades since I have allowed a modicum of sarcasm to season my verbiage.
Like the dry drunk indulging in an occasional O'Doul's near-beer. 
I believe I know my limitations, but could honestly relapse quickly and cheerfully.
The majority of my humor is dry, witty, off-the-cuff, and is spoken into the wind.
My funny bone is probably best enjoyed by me, myself, and I.
But if you listen, really listen, you may harken to the rare chimes of a fleeting repartee.

Ciao for now,

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Atypical Leanings

The article linked here was interesting to read. It jogged a few memories for me.
FYI, this is very personal, I rarely share my beliefs on a blog that encompasses my creative work. You've been warned.
So please be respectful and think before you verbally react. Thank you. 

As a homeschool mom I was always torn between offering large amounts of fort building time (they still talk about that) or insisting they finish their math (no fond reminisces there). I felt I would fail them if I didn't offer everything they needed to become mature intellectually stimulated preteens. (Reading Geo Washington's Rules of Civility didn't help. He copied them down as a teenager for crying out loud.)

Unschooling vs Academic Excellence. Charlotte Mason vs A Beka. So many options!!
I began as I meant to go on. I sought God for guidance, in terms of economy and their psyches. I continued to learn who my children were, listened for clues, watched the results, and adjusted as necessary. 

One day I read a short piece by Donna Partow in our HS newsletter that solidified my choices. To roughly paraphrase; God is speaking here: "are you raising your child to be a genius who barely tolerates Me, or one who loves me and is a so-so student?" 

Of course she, and I, strove for academic competence, but what a stress-release to work on the character first. So many times, in my own home, waiting was proven to be the best choice. Always. Each time they were able to bring their studies up to grade level in a very short time. I had the luxury to assess regularly. I only had 4 students after all. Also, who else in this world would care more than I for my children and their future decisions? No one. My mantra at the time was relationships before duties

I had concerns; that we would embrace the ongoing HS sub-culture of judgment and superiority, of denying our struggles and projecting a false confident image, that my four daughters could lose their hard-won rights to be an equal voice in this world; pulled into the undertow of stifling, female submissiveness rampant in that HS culture. 

I was less concerned over their spiritual lives. I left that up to Him. I exposed them to scripture, biographies, and the church culture; attempting to emphasize relationship over posturing. Sigh. The HS and church environments still fostered divisiveness and exclusionary tactics. You had to dig real deep for the gold; for Truth and genuine people. I hold fast to it, to them. 

Missteps were made. I was learning here too. I wasn't even 30 years old yet. Every well-meaning adult gave input. Rarely did they trust my love for my children and my instincts for teaching them. I always heard (in a roundabout way) what even far-flung relatives felt about my decisions. Fear was battled every day when I considered what well-meaning people might do. 

Trust me, this was no laissez-faire endeavor. Planning, research, verifiable evidentiary results, etc...went before every single decision. This is a 24/7 job, that I undertook for 14 years. Hey, what can I say?! I'm a dedicated kind of person. 
(A sense of humor is not optional).

We may have looked like your typical HS family when we were in the trenches, but over time their individuality, and our personality as a family, emerged. This scared some families and our circle of friends changed and morphed accordingly. Que sera, sera. 

Homeschooling did not create perfect students or perfect adults. It did create four adults who can communicate, reason, seek knowledge, debate, and care. 
Their work ethic is amazing and their capacity to feel for others is incredible. 
I never wanted our family to be typical anyhow. 
Mission accomplished!
Ciao for now,

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Fear and Loathing...Myself

Title too harsh for you? Too raw? 
Too transparent? TMI; too much information? Yeah.  I hear ya.
It makes you want to hand around cliches, like tissues during flu season; "buck up Buttercup" or "it could be worse" or "tomorrow is another day" or  "think positive".  Sigh.  I am guilty of saying all of the above.
Let me sort through this mess I have created here. There are a few things weighing my heart tonight, so much so that I cannot sleep before writing it down. 
People matter, you matter. 
People have value, you have value. 
People have feelings, you have feelings. 
Not every feeling I have is valid. It's sad but true. I have irrational, unsubstantiated feelings. 
I have felt lonely in a crowd.  I have felt slighted on social media.  I have felt ugly looking in a mirror.  I give my emotions too much street cred.
Seriously. As if my emotions grew up on the street and can direct me to the safe neighborhoods to loiter in. "Here you go Trish, I have the perfect pity party for you".  "Psst...Trish, make an abrupt turn on Anger Street".  Funny, yet not funny. 
It has taken me many moons to identify when my emotions are valid or not; decades of moons. This is called maturity. Then an interesting season called menopause plays havoc with your emotions and you can't trust your previous legend on the emotion map.  Yikes! I am lost once more.
This reminds me of my hormonal teenage years.  The years filled with the aforementioned fear and loathing.  Years in which I could not tell anyone of my constant suicidal thoughts. It was the 70s. They locked you away for that stuff.  I coped.  Not always in a healthy way, but I found what worked for me. I created a niche for me that felt normal, that created security for me; that allowed me to be myself.  I just never knew that I was not alone; in my thoughts, in my fear and loathing,
Lately, there have been too many sad stories of suicide victims. I don't know all of the stories, but the few I do break my heart. 
Sometimes we are afraid and we loathe ourselves because someone who matters to us cannot accept us the way we are.  
They need us to be ______.  (You can fill in the blank).  
Perhaps fear of the unknown, and loathing our inadequacies, creates an artificial environment where death seems our only way out.
Maybe we are in thrall to our emotion's street cred and accept every emotional hill and valley as concrete proof that we don't belong here.
There are definitely physical challenges and mental illnesses that can also manufacture an end-game scenario. 
Now what?!  Good point.  
First, be kind.
Be kind to yourself.
Be kind to your kids.
Be kind to your parents.
Be kind to your friends and neighbors.
Be kind to your students/employees/strangers.
Second, make a friend and trust them with who you are.
Friends, listen, really hear.  Accept, love, and walk with them.
Lastly, learn to take an emotional inventory. 
Find a trusted source to hold your emotions up against for evaluation. (Reevaluate as needed).
Compare them to someone mature you look up to.  Someone real.
I know this is barely a drop in the bucket, but I needed to say it.
I love you all; known and unknown.
Ciao for now,

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Film Noir Stage

Hello, this is my final project as Guest Designer for Gypsy Soul Laser Cuts this February. The array of exciting choices, at GSLCuts, set my imagination in thousands of directions. 

When I spied the stage I knew Film Noir was the theme.  I limited my color palette to a gray scale and dove in.
Please browse with me through the steps; I'll share some tips and provide the supply list at the end. Let's go...

Rather than paint the pieces and then assemble them, this time I glued the stage together first (except for the top curtain piece). Tacky glue worked great to hold the pieces in place as they dried. (E6000 was not as friendly to work with.)

I used some leftover spray paint to change the color. (A shade that looks like aluminum.) I placed the stage in a shallow cardboard box and sprayed in light, even, sweeps out-of-doors. Let it set for an hour for most of the fumes to dissipate.

The top curtain section was covered in black gesso.

I wanted the other leftover spray paint for the filmstrip. (This shade looks like chrome.) Then I taped off the curtain sections for stripes.

Again, I placed the stage in a shallow cardboard box and sprayed in light, even, sweeps out-of-doors. Let it set for an hour for most of the fumes to dissipate.

This is the backside of the pieces to show the difference.

I wanted the filmstrip to stand out visually, so I mixed some gum Arabic, water, and PearlEx macro pearl.

I love the subtle shine it gives the filmstrip.

Here is the stage all striped out.

My black stripes were too intense for me so I toned them down with some PearlEx micro pearl.

Then the film reel and my mysterious dame needed a coat of black gesso.

The film reel received a coat of PearlEx silver.

The tone difference is amazing.

My mysterious dame needs a gun in her silhouette. I altered her handbag with my Exacto knife.

Love it.

I needed a cool film noir movie image for my screen and to set the dramatic theme. had a great one. I printed the image on white cardstock and adhered that to some chipboard for stability.

I added pop-dot adhesive to the back.

Here all of the parts, pre-assembly.

Notice the raven was given a coat of black gesso and then added to top edge of my stage. It rests just perfect up there.

Assembly time. I used tissue paper to prop up parts while they dry.

Love the look and negative space.

The filmstrip needed to be adhered with some elevation. Clear pop-dots, stacked up, performed well.

Almost there. Some dramatic placement.

Love how the negative space creates interest.

My mysterious dame needs a place.

A different angle. She creates another dramatic shadow.

Let's add a mirror to the top of the stage.

Here is the stage in many types of lighting and backdrops:


Sideview, outside...

From above, outside...

Studio lighting...

Indoor natural lighting:

I wanted to show the amazing differences in each lighting situation. I can't wait to see how this scene looks each day at differing times. 

Thank you so much for being with me this month! It has been an amazing creative journey. Please let me know what you think, of what you have seen, and any crafty ideas you have come up with.
Ciao for now,
-Trish Alger

My supply list:

Gypsy Soul Laser Cuts Supplies  
-Hollywood Shape Set  
-Fashionistas 1930s  
-Raven from Steampunk 2 Shape Set  

Other Supplies;
-Spray paints, aluminum and chrome
-Film Noir digital image
-Mini mirror
-Aleene's Clear Tacky Glue
-Pop Dot Adhesives white and clear
Jacquard Products
-PearlEx Silver, Macro Pearl, Micro Pearl, Gum Arabic
-ATG Adhesive
-Black Gesso
Eclectic Products
White Cardstock
Scrap chipboard

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Laying It Out, Family Style

When is the last time you created a layout? If recently, kudos to you. If like me you can't remember, let us consider it.

Scrapbooking was my entrée into this crafty medium. For the life of me I cannot figure out why I don't scrap anymore; at all. I don't even scrap digitally these days.

There was a discussion recently on Facebook about the dearth of scrapping supplies vs the overwhelming number of digital photos we all have. I can shoot 300 at one family event. How do I choose just one?

As a guest designer, for Gypsy Soul Laser Cuts, this month I challenged myself to a layout.

I remembered that I had a frame break in moving and had set aside the 8"x10" photo for later. Well, later is now here. I loved what this family picture said about us, the time period, and our personalities. Plus, the bright colors were just what I wanted to use.

I will walk you through the steps, the supply list is at the end.

I plan to place this on my wall so I chose a 12"x12" paper to start with.  Added some white gesso, then clear gesso before laying in some modeling paste and molding paste and crackle paste through some stencils. I even tried some black gesso for contrast.

Dye sprays in concentrated colors or iridescent tones were sprayed or splattered on the surface as well.

I kept trying materials until I achieved the look I was after. This is no time to be shy. Try it all if you like. That's why gesso is perfect for mixed media--it covers a multitude of attempts.

Inks were dripped and dropped in random order.

I wanted to add some matte effect with oil pastels.

Now to the great chipboard pieces I chose to incorporate. I used white gesso to prepare for other medium uses.

Here they are gessoed on the textured surface.

But wait, that's not all. The pieces need to pop with color.

Really pop. (Notice I cut apart the bottom piece).

The banner (that I modified a bit) and the pointer hand needed the golden touch.

It's getting there. I decided to use a gloss varnish over the brightly painted chipboard to make it shine and seal the surface.

When I tried the layout, the yellow was just too much for me and I was concerned I was trying to crowd too many pieces onto the layout with my large photo.

So I added back in some white, removed a couple of pieces and rearranged.

I liked it a lot better. Let me know what you think.

Here is a closer view of the edge:

The sticks were great to journal on top of.

Please let me know how your scrapbooking/layout/mixed media endeavors are going.  I'd love to hear from you.
Ciao for now,
-Trish Alger

Supply list:
Gypsy Soul Laser Cuts:  
Mixed Media Fragments 3  
Word Ribbons 1  
Curly Word: Remember  

Other Supplies:
-Black Gesso
-Clear Gesso
-Glossy Medium and Varnish
-Modeling Paste
-Hot Pink Paint
-Deep Yellow Paint
-Tropical Waters
-Apple Barrel Paint Iris
Golden Paints
-Molding Paste
-Crackle Paste
Martha Stewart
-Gesso White
Eclectic Products
Ranger Industries
-Dylusions Sprays
  Dirty Martini
  Fresh Lime
  White Linen
  Melted Chocolate
  Black Marble
Lindy's Stamp Gang
-Maidenhair Fern Green
Winsor and Newton
-Ink White
Faber Castell
-Gelatos Gold
-Adhesive pop dots