Chicken Soup and My Life in Books
All four of us came down with a virus over the weekend. So we're enjoying a stay-cation of sorts, drinking lots of orange juice smoothies, eating my famous ginger-carrot chicken soup (with an extra-strong dose of garlic for our colds--stay tuned, I'll post the recipe once I can get it out of my head and onto paper) and watching Disney movies. With Daddy home from work for a week of sick-leave still feels like a bit of a "holiday" even when we're all sniffling and sneezing and sleeping away half the day.
Isn't my soup-bowl pretty? (I processed the photo with Kim Klassen's "Stained Paper" and "Sun-Kissed" textures for Texture Tuesday.) I was admiring the color palette, thinking that maybe it would inspire a new piece of art. Then I realized that it's almost the same palette I already used in my new Raindrops collage.
And it's the same color palette of this pleasing little vignette I arranged yesterday as I was organizing the new HUGE shelving unit in our living room/studio space. (I have a hard time keeping still, even when I'm sick.) Bookshelves are so challenging to arrange in a way that accommodates all of the "stuff" that needs to be stored while still managing to look pretty (especially when your place is like ours and doesn't have closets). One of my tricks is to organize books by color. Of course, this is completely impractical when you're looking for a specific title. But in my book, sometimes visual organization is more important than practical organization.
The other thing I noticed while I was organizing my books by color--the "stories" created by the collection of titles in a color-group are so interesting! I mean, I keep finding little "microcosms" of my life. Here, for example, in this little collection of 7 yellow (and cream-colored) books:
1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. This series is one of my all-time favorites; I re-read it every year, always starting in the fall for Harry's back-to-school adventures (which means it's just about time to pick it up again!). I am somewhat of a nerd like that.
2. My personal journal from the years 2005-2008, in which I struggle with a difficult teaching job while dreaming of motherhood and a "creative life." I've been spending a lot of time lately thinking about those three years before my oldest daughter was born, the years we were so saddened by our longing for her. But I poured all of that sadness into art and discovered that for the first time I could call myself Artist. This part of my identity would become so crucial in the way I adjusted to becoming a mother--art is the way I can always come back to "just being me" even as I let myself get beautifully lost in the identities of the two little souls who grew inside of my body and under my heart.
3. Stasiland by Anna Funder, which is about a graduate student who lived for several years in East Germany in the late 1980's and early 1990's, interviewing people and doing research to discover the truth of what it was like to live in occupied Germany under the DDR. I can relate so well to her observations of the German people and her descriptions of the heavy sadness that still sometimes hangs about in the country's atmosphere.
4. Duden's German Rechtschreibung, or "The Rules of Writing." This is only one of many, many enormous books in this series . . . and I haven't even touched it, to be honest. But I did ace my first German test a few weeks ago and received my Official German Language B1 Certificate, which just means that my language skills are advancing beyond "beginner" to "intermediate," and are good enough that I would have a chance to enter the workforce. Which I don't plan on doing, except maybe to teach a class or two at the community college. I'm still planning on giving this "artist thing" a go ;).
5. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. I've been practicing much patience lately, trying always to speak in love--even when I'm frustrated. Amazingly, I find that the newest phase of parenting leaves me saying to myself in amazement, "wow! This isn't as hard as it used to be!" But don't worry, I don't expect this "easy" phase to last long. Ha!
6. Writing with Pictures, by Uri Shulevitz. This is supposed to be the best book to read about illustrating books for children. I love the idea of writing with pictures--obviously, I like it so much that it inspired the name of my blog and my little art-business!
7. Exploring Watercolor: Creative Exercises and Techniques for Watercolor and Mixed Media by Elizabeth Groves. What a great book of watercolor techniuques--especially if you're interested in learning some of the "rules" of watercolor in a contemporary, non-traditional, no-rules approach. Totally my style.
Anyway, I'm enjoying the splash of bright yellow in the book arrangement against the pale yellow of the walls. Actually, I think maybe I'm becoming obsessed with the color yellow, thanks to this German-gray "summer" weather! In all fairness, it's an uncommonly beautiful sunny day today, which is making me smile even from under my pile of quilts and tissues!