Altoid Tin Watercolors

Watercolor was never my favorite paint. When I was young I fell in love with the slow blending work of oil, but turpentine and work space limitations being what they are, I later transitioned to the beautiful imperfection of acrylics – usually with an element of mixed medium (metal foil, glue, papers, etc).

My Grandmother, however, prefers watercolors as her first choice. I once took a water color class with her as a child and I remember disliking the opaque nature of the paint (and ultimately, painting a grey cat far too thickly so it looked terribly muddy).

March 2, 2022

But now, time is of the essence. And quickly adding a bit of art to my day- in ten minutes, or even 5- is a highly desirable concept. Enter: the homemade Altoid tin watercolor studio.

My first painting “out and about” while getting sushi for lunch.

How to make a pocket-size watercolor studio: Buy an Altoids tin, a $1-2 watercolor palette and some cheap brushes. Glue the paints into the bottom of the tin, trim down the paintbrushes to also fit (I suggest using garden shears!), and cut watercolor paper into small rectangles. Voila! An art studio in your pocket.

No to War

Independent Russian news outlet TV Rain was forced to shut down on Thursday, March 3, 2022 due to the Russian government’s crackdown on local media stations broadcasting unfavorable coverage of the war in Ukraine. Journalists signed off by saying “no to war,” before walking off the station’s set.

The network then broadcast Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, a nod to the 1991 coup attempt against the government of then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. As that coup was taking place, the ballet played repeatedly on television, an indication to viewers that something was wrong.

Gratitude Lately

Lately I’ve been grateful for morning stomps,
for Valentine’s Day roses,
For negative Covid tests,
For family movie nights,
For bottles of glitter and my Friday crafting buddy,
For new hairdos perfectly accessorized,
And for baby dolphins.

2022 seems to be flying by already!

Another Piece of String

[excerpt from A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh: the House at Pooh Corner, chapter 8.]

The above paragraph describes the scene in chapter 8 of The House at Pooh Corner, during which Owl, Piglet, and Pooh all find themselves trapped inside Owl’s house which has been blown over by the very Blustery Day. At this stage of the pandemic sometimes I am Owl, sometimes I am Piglet, and sometimes I am Pooh.

Owl, the unflappable healthcare worker. Vaccine breakthrough with omicron? Ok, we lean on therapeutics for high-risk patients. Monoclonals no longer working against omicron? No problem, we become experts on using Paxlovid. We run short of Paxlovid? We try Molnupiravir or Remdesivir, and clamor harder for the shipment of Sotrovimab to arrive or figure out how to deploy Evushield… as Owl says: “If the string breaks, we try another piece of string.”

But I am also Piglet, who caught Covid. Will I have long-term effects from my Covid infection? And if I had delta, and I am re-infected with omicron in the next couple weeks, what will that mean- to have both so close together? Piglet is really wanting to know (since it is the same him who will always come tumbling down), although he agrees there seems nothing else to do.

But then I am Pooh — who, although he has very little brain, is the one to reassure Piglet that the string won’t break (because Piglet is very small) and Pooh will stand underneath anyway. If you catch Covid and are vaccinated, your risk of severe outcomes is steeply reduced. And if you do worsen, and your Covid infection becomes serious, we know so much more about how to help you now than we did in 2020. “You are vaccinated, you won’t fall seriously ill. But just in case, we’re at the urgent care and ER to help. We will catch you if you do fall.” And Pooh reassures Piglet that the story will end very well; although right now we are all three stuck in this tumbled-down treehouse together.

And then once again I am Piglet — who rises towards the ceiling, and sees some tiny signs that perhaps this is close to the end… but doesn’t call out just yet, because what if we collectively let go of the string too soon?

The E.H. Shepard Archive, University of Surrey.

PopPop Painted

As far back as I can remember, PopPop painted.

It wasn’t that he ‘loved to paint’ — although perhaps he did, I can’t be sure because I never asked him. As a child, it never occurred to me to ask. But whenever my parents bought a house, he painted.

He painted my childhood room from a muddy mustard yellow to a sky blue. He painted the downstairs office, even when he doubted my mother’s dramatic burgundy color-choice (it ended up looking fabulous). He transformed my sister’s boring beige bedroom to a warm welcoming pink.

It wasn’t that my parents couldn’t or wouldn’t have gotten around to painting, they could and they would have done it all themselves — but they never needed to, because PopPop painted.

What a great and simple love is built of things like that: taking care of the painting.

Listening Lately

Talk About by The Gospel Whiskey Runners

“If you need more love, it just takes time. We’re just singing songs with different rhymes. Let’s talk about you. Talk about me. Talk about everything that’s in between. Talk about this, talk about that, talk about love until it comes rolling back. Let’s talk about everything that we want back.” – The Gospel Whiskey Runners

Dollywood Pumpkins, 2021

“I don’t see how a pumpkin patch could be more sincere than this one.” — It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

The first weekend of October, we took a one-day trip with C.A. to see the Pumpkin Luminights at Dollywood.
The Mystery Mine illuminated for the events.
It’s not Dollywood if you don’t eat an entire loaf of Cinnamon Bread.
We shared our apple butter with this honey bee.
My original theme park crew: these two cheery faces!
See our quick vlog of the day here.^

We’re already looking forward to going back for the Christmas lights!

“Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” — Dolly Parton