We've spent a lot of time preparing for Eliana's arrival during our time off. It has been an absolute joy to anticipate meeting her in March and bringing her home. Yet as I have shared before, all of the preparations are incredibly bittersweet. It is a strange thing to be doing for your second child what you were never able to do for your first. In some ways, it has deepened my sense of loss as I am walking through all that was missed as we prepared for Isaac's arrival. Instead of decorating his nursery, we were choosing a cemetery plot. Instead of a closet full of cute clothes, we were looking for that perfect outfit in which he would be laid to rest.
And while these preparations have been bittersweet, they truly have been sweet. God has been gracious in really allowing us to experience that as I made wall letters for Eliana's room... as we hung shelves... as I washed her little clothes and hung them back up in her closet. We even found a way to include a little bit of Isaac in her room (look closely at the pictures below).
So without further adieu, here are a few pictures of the preparations we've been making in Eliana's room. Enjoy!
A view of her (tiny) room from the doorway. The fabric hanging from the blinds are swatches we're considering for the valence we're having made.
Yes, I am cartooning at the kitchen table, because I still haven't set up my art table in the study, because there are still too damn many boxes of books in the way. (There is an alarming shortage of shelf space in our new house.) No, I did not produce the images visible in the sketchbook while dandling Miss Thing there on my knee, though I confess that after this picture was taken I did indeed attempt to draw a few figures in ink while still cradling my daughter in my left hand. Kind of tricky.
And yes, the comic open before us there is an indispensable element of the piece I am working on at present. If all goes well, I may have more to tell before too much longer. (I'm sure that Isaac at least is a little curious...)
My last animated video.
music clip for the "time don't move" song,
composed by Neoangin, aka Jim Avignon.
made with aftereffects
I have noticed as I have been writing about Amy and her parents and the contention that swells around them, that I am emotionally disturbed by that contention. I am not sure if it hits too close to home, but as an eternal peacemaker, it goes against my nature. As I work through these things in my writing, I feel good when it is over, but when I am in the thick of it, I am on edge and cantankerous and nothing is right with the world. I suppose that is one reason I gave up TV a few years ago--I find myself living whatever I see--somehow the emotions of whatever it is translate into my real life in a negative way.
Case in point...this morning I am a little perterbed about a movie I took my kids too last night-Where the wild things are. I loved this book growing up, but this movie is a total flop from my point of view--no real story line, bad cinamatography, a movie dedicated to the bad behavior of children. It began poorly and ended poorly and I am glad I saw it at the dollar movie rather than paying full-price for it. I am sure it had to be an expensive movie to produce because they basically destroyed a whole island. Just a weird, lame movie. I feel sorry for the producers. They really could have done a much better job.
Listen to me be a movie critic! I've never really liked critics and suddenly i just became one. But I feel better and I think I can go sign books now and be okay. Happy New Year.
One of the things about insulin is that, in helping the body metabolize its blood sugar, it can sometimes do its job a bit too well. When blood sugar drops below a healthy or normal level, these symptoms can result:
(You can click to enlarge that.)
Which of these hypoglycemia symptoms might also be caused by a trip to a professional convention like the MLA?
If you keep your eyes open, even your junk mail might have interesting cartooning in it. I think this little symptom guy is really a nice piece of drawing, and my hat is off to the anonymous cartoonist who drew him.
I want to get to Jake and Amy, so tonight I will just share a portion of my story. When I was in grade school, I remember believing I was born without talent. I was lousy at sports, I was only an average student. I had zero musical talent--even to the point of being asked by the music mom to mouth the words because I was always loud and never on key. I had very few friends my own age. My neighborhood was filled with folks that were mostly at least 60 years older than me, but it was a magical place. Many of these old folks had tools in their garages and cookies in their jars and time to sit on their front porches and tell me amazing stories of their younger years. As I read and re-read the stories of Niederbipp, I find myself reflecting on the village that it took to raise me. So many have had a hand in who I have become. Most of these folks are gone now. Margaret Torkelson, the 95 year old woman who my mother sent me to to practice my reading, passed away more than twenty-five years ago, but I can still remember the smell of her flowered couch and the color of her beehive doo. She gave me jumbo gum drops after each visit. I read to her all of the books that drove my mother crazy--most of which were by Dr. Suess.
I am grateful for those old folks who loved me like a grandson and always welcomed my visits, helped me fix my bike, lent me tools to use as I dug holes in other neighbor's yards-trying to get to China, filled my mind with fun stories and opened possibilities to me that I never could have imagined. It seems my imagination has no limits because they were never imposed on me in my youth. I never watched TV because it could never compete with the world outside. It still can't.
I will write more later.
If any of you have any questions about the book or about my story, this might be a fun forum for question and answers. Ask on--
A year ago Regina was just as much an artist, but not the driven and committed advocate, lobbyist, organizer, and witness for health-care reform that she has become in 2009. Unfortunately, she was moved to reshape her life and her career by painful personal experiences with the many outrages and injustices—some small, some large, all unnecessary—that attended her husband Fred's diagnosis and treatment for Stage Four cancer.
Fred Holliday was both my colleague at work and my friend, a warm and funny presence, a scholar of film and television, a generous host, and a model of how to be a husband and a father. He was admitted to the hospital just a few days before his 39th birthday last March, the cancer having been detected while doctors were looking for the source of other problems Fred had been having. Fred moved from one hospital to another, to a rehab center, and then to a hospice before returning to Regina and their two boys at home for the last week of his life. He passed away in mid-June, a day after my last visit to see him.
Already while Fred was still in the hospital, Regina had begun turning her art to public advocacy for health-care reform. An early painting, Medical Facts, was hung in a local restaurant, and featured a painting of a skeleton showing areas where the bones had been weakened by cancer—the areas where Fred had been afflicted. The painting offered a stark confrontation with the harsh literal facts of Fred's illness, laid bare on canvas. The image was accompanied by text including data from Fred's medical charts, laid out like the "Nutrition Facts" box on food packaging, and it asked a blunt question: "Why do we have more access to information on a box of Cheerios than on a medical chart?"
In early September, Regina finished a much more extensive mural, an outdoor painting that fills the entire side of a BP station at 5001 Connecticut Avenue NW here in Washington, DC. This mural is titled 73 Cents, after the amount it cost Regina, per page, to get a copy of Fred's medical records. Unlike the almost reportorial quality of Medical Facts, the 73 cents mural employs symbolism and allusions to other works of art. Regina describes some of her artistic models for the painting's composition here, but you can probably recognize at a glance the elements inspired by David's Death of Marat and Picasso's Guernica in the central section of the mural:
That's Fred in the hospital bed, clutching a note with an actual message he delivered to his wife: "Go after them, Regina." And that's Regina in blue before him, wearing a mask to show a brave face to Fred as wife and caregiver while a more troubled face is turned to the nurse who is passing some medical records to her. The little boy with the blocks is their younger son Isaac; their older boy, Freddie, can just be glimpsed as an eye peeking through the sliver where the door in the background joins its hinges.
Here is the leftmost portion of the mural:
And here is the right:
For more information about the symbolism of the mural (and its use of text from Buffy the Vampire Slayer alongside quotations from Shakespeare and Thomas Jefferson), along with many more detailed photos, please read Regina's own discussion here. For an early statement by Regina on art as advocacy, please read her post here. For Regina's Thanksgiving post on what 2009 was like for her, Fred, and their boys, please read this post. And for Regina's continued updates on her art, her mission, and the progress of health-care reform, please visit reginaholliday.blogspot.com.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
When was the last time your soul felt its worth? It's true worth?
This Christmas season, if there is one thing I would want you to know it is this: your soul is of great value and immeasurable worth.
So much so, that over 2000 years ago, God began his redemptive plan for humanity... for your soul and for mine. On this night, Love came down... leaving His heavenly throne, and made his way humbly into our world as tiny baby in a manger whose name is Jesus...to walk among us sharing a story of hope and redemption, and to ultimately give up his own life for the sake of ours.
For the souls of those who feel insignificant... Love came down.
For the souls of those who feel too broken to be fixed... Love came down.
For the souls of those bound by addiction... Love came down.
For the souls of those who feel burdened by shame... Love came down.
For the souls of those whose lives feel shattered by heartache and pain... Love came down.
For the souls of those whose life outside the womb was far too short... Love came down.
For the souls of those who have been conceived, but have not yet been born... Love came down.
Because of the person of Jesus Christ, your soul is of immeasurable worth. It is the presence of Jesus that illuminates our soul's true value.
If you want to know what your soul is truly worth, cast your gaze upon Him... know Him... and allow Him to bring His heavenly peace.
There is no soul that is insignificant... and that includes the souls of little children who have yet to be born. A person's soul doesn't just gain significance once they are born; a person's soul has eternal significance and worth from the moment of conception as he or she is being uniquely created in the womb in the very image of God.
It is my sincere hope and prayer this Christmas season that you would know your soul's true worth. That you would know that your soul is of immeasurable value to God... so much so that it was purchased at a great cost. And I pray that this year, the good news of Christmas would bring you hope.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees!
Oh hear the angel voices!
Oh night divine!
Oh night when Christ was born!
Oh night divine!
Oh night, oh night divine!
—but it's not really fair to her, innocent that she is; and Isaac has had his fair share of claims on his attention, too, yet he's managed to keep the blog moving single-handed. So to my good buddy Isaac, I publicly apologize for being such a slacker on this would-be joint endeavor of a blog, and I will endeavor to do better henceforth.
(Incidentally, the flaws in the drawing above are the fault of the artist, not of his subject.)
At any rate, I commemorate Mr. Stang's demise with this quasi-pencil sketch, digitally darkened, and so faint in its original graphite version**** that I myself failed to detect part of the artwork in the scan and cropped it too close on the left (man, I'm out of practice with the machinery of bloggery...but all that's missing is part of a gravestone whose text is the title of this post):
* Perhaps fittingly, given Mr. Stang's work in animation, the term "milquetoast" is itself derived from an early comic-strip character, Caspar Milquetoast. Who knew?
** I wish I'd been kidding when I noted this, but it's true: every time I think of Arnold Stang I mentally read his last name backwards. Till now, however, it has never occurred to me to read his first name as Dlonra.
*** For further evidence in re: my life, the sadness whereof, see also: the previous footnote.
**** Graphite, but not pencil. I drew this with a "graphite object," a sculpture of a pea pod. If the object's not meant for drawing with, why does it fit perfectly cradled in a hand poised for sketching? I ask you...
I am signing today in Orem at Costco. Tomorrow I will be in SAndy and on Christmas Eve, I will be at the Bountiful store. Come and see me and pick up book 2 if you havent already. Cheers and Merry Christmas. Ben
First, I am just missing Isaac so incredibly deeply as Christmas draws increasingly near. I know he would be so captivated by our neighbor's lights that "dance" to the music on a local radio station... by the ornaments hung on the tree... or by the gingerbread men that we've made. He'd be old enough that we'd be able to start talking to him about the real meaning of Christmas, and perhaps he'd at least start to associate "baby" (Jesus) with Christmastime. Anyone who has experienced significant loss will tell you that the holidays agitate their grief. I was talking with a woman last week about how her mother died fourteen years ago... and the holidays are still really hard. I guess it's the times when families gather together that the fact that there's someone missing from ours feels even more pronounced. And I can feel that ache in my heart... that ache for my son who isn't here... just grow.
Secondly, I have been incredibly burdened with all that is going on in Congress (specifically the Senate right now) with health care reform, and the impact that proposed legislation will have on federal funding for abortion. In no way do I desire this post to become a debate; but I do feel a burden about this. If you haven't seen it already, John Piper has created a wonderful video that stemmed from one of his sermons back in January of this year in response our current administration's stance on abortion. I love this video because it boldly proclaims truth... but also extends grace.
Would you please join me in praying for our nation's Senators as they are currently voting on the bill, as well as for all members of Congress and our current administration as they continue to iron this out. Would you also please continue to pray for us as we're just missing Isaac so much these days.
Please pray as our nation's leaders continue to work out this new health care plan, and for conviction in the hearts and minds of these leaders.
Click here to watch.
People keep asking me if they can do stuff with my stuff, and yet stuff with my stuff is never done.
Where is the stuff?
So far people have asked me if they can:
Make a short film out of "Future Me"
Make a short film out of "I Am a Zombie Filled With Love"
Do a dramatic performance based on "I Am a Zombie Filled With Love"
Do a book report on "Warm Bodies"
Make a graphic novel out of "Blind Date"
Record a cover song of "What the Mountain Said"
The answer to all these requests has been "Yes, but I want to see it when you're done."
But--have I seen short films, dramatic performances, book reports, graphic novels, or cover songs?
I have not.
This makes me do this:
Which is not a face with an elephant trunk, but rather a face--my face--crying a pool of tears.
Please do not toy with my emotions. My emotions are not toys.
These are toys:
My emotions are none of these things. Except maybe sometimes the third one.
I was going to do a finished composition featuring an alligator hatching as a confused mama bird looked on, but work got so craz y i didnt have time to do anything but some bird and alligator sketches before the deadline came up. So hope you enjoy these, they are both things that hatch! Ill get around to that piece next week
started a new sketchbook! here are some sketches of people on the train and their shoes, and my dog sammy, and some chimps!
I wrote a little while back about starting to work on Eliana's room and how Spencer did a fabulous job painting and setting up her furniture. Clearly, we have a long way to go before it is finished, but it's at least at the point where we can start adding shelves, decorations, curtains, and all. I wish you could see this shade of pink in person... it's really beautiful.
Maryland also got it's first snow of the 2009-2010 season! And, a fairly substantial one at that. Around here, "substantial" would mean that you don't see the blades of grass poking through the snow :) Apparently, we're supposed to have a pretty snowy winter, which is GREAT in my book, since I will not be returning to work for the rest of the school year after Eliana is born in March!
In the midst of all that was going on, I realized we didn't have any good pictures taken from this past year. Maybe it was because I wasn't much for photos... I don't know. So, in front of our FRIEND'S Christmas tree (because ours is STILL not decorated!) we snapped this shot for our annual Christmas card.
My scanner is acting up this morning, so I don't have any updated ultrasound pictures for you. We got some great 4-D shots last time! I'll get those up soon... once my Christmas cards have finished being addressed and are in the mail :)
Sarah Palin signed in the Salt Lake Costco yesterday. I signed in Murray. She has folks lined up for 30 hours to get a signed copy. I strolled in about noon and began my work of accosting innocent people who may or may not be looking for a book. I sold 81 books. I'm sure she sold hundreds, but one small difference is--I wrote my book all by myself! No ghost writers for me. Sure, I had a lot of inspiration, but I typed every one of them thar words with my own two index fingers.
Anyway, you are going to love Discovering Isaac. For some reason, even though both books retail for the same price, $19.99, Discovering Isaac is selling for $12.49 where Remembering Isaac is selling at Costco for $11.99. I had nothing to do with that. Costco set the price up at headquarters. Don't ask me why--I just write books and accost people.
I am up late firing a kiln for Saturday's Studio Open House here at my studio--1150 E 800 S in Salt Lake, just a block from East High School. The show runs from 9-5. I will have a studio full of pots, both books and some of Lynnette's finest treats. Come on over. Sarah Palin and her enterage are planning on camping out tonight to be first in line! Cheers