Thursday, September 22, 2011

Beauty

Last week my sister and I watched a riveting documentary about origami.  I think the description on Netflix actually said "riveting" and we good-naturedly scoffed at the idea of origami being riveting.  However, being that we grew up in a household which often included Japanese exchange students, I think I can safely speak for the both of us and say that we have a bit of a soft spot for paper folding.  And indeed, the doc was riveting.  You should see it, even if you're thinking it's pretty dorky to watch a documentary about origami.
The paper folding that I have enjoyed in the past pretty much peaked at the paper crane level, which I thought was respectably advanced.  The origami artists profiled in this film veritably breathe life into a single piece of paper.  How is this possible with a single square of paper?
Particularly intriguing is the intermingling of art and science.  I so often think of art and science as mutually exclusive realms, when, really, they are tangled up in each other.  It's quite obvious in origami.  When you look at these artists' paper folded sculptures, it is undeniable that they are works of beauty, works of art.  When you unfold these works of art, the fold lines on the flattened paper reveal the genius behind the geometry of the artists' creations.
It has me wondering about the nature of beauty.  Is there order underlying all that we see as beautiful?  A symmetry and an asymmetry, a balance and counterbalance that imbue all that we see as beautiful with that mysterious quality?



Or is it the abstract and random that bring beauty to life?

Or, do the things of beauty we perceive as random and abstract actually follow some kind of order and design that we simply can't grasp well enough to decode?

The changing path of the Mississippi 

Hmm... enough pontificating.  

I started reading this book the other day:

It's intriguing so far.  The premise, as I understand it after reading the first couple of chapters is embracing a lifestyle of "radical gratitude."  The dust jacket says that this book "beckons you to leave the parched ground of pride, fear, and white knuckle control and abandon yourself to the God who overflows your cup."  I like the idea of slowing down the sense of haste in my days enough to notice all the little things and big things that I can be thankful for: watching my boys interact lovingly with each other, the fog rolling into the valley like a quilt, or the seeming miracle of how good a hot shower can feel.  The first chapters hint at being thankful for everything that happens in life, even the bad things.  I can't quite wrap my head around being thankful for the hard things in life.  I can be thankful for things that I have learned from trials in life, but to actually be thankful for things like cancer...hmmm.  I'll have to keep reading to see if she is saying what I think she is saying.

Other books on my coffee table right now:

and


I borrowed the Rainbow of Stitches book from my library about five times in the last year, so I finally treated myself to a couple of books for my collection with my birthday money this year.  My couch throw pillows, which used to have nice fluffy covers, are starting to look matted and ugly, so I think I'll sew up some new covers and pick some embroidery patterns to stitch onto them.  Perhaps something like one of these (all from pinterest):





embroider your childhood home or other nostalgic building







Ideas?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Transition

I started this post almost a week ago now, so it may be rather disjointed.  Our week was interrupted by the stomach flu, a tangible reminder of how delicately balanced our health usually is. Thankfully, T and I seem to have escaped this round of illness.  O and husband...not so much.

Ten years ago this week, my mother awoke me early with the news of planes flying into buildings in New York.  I remember sitting on the pink chair in our family room, involuntary tears falling as I watched live footage of people jumping from the World Trade Centre buildings.  My university classes weren't cancelled that day, per se, but we sat around looking at each other in class, rather dumbfounded about what was happening.
Nearly three thousand lives were lost that day, and how many thousands or perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost in the past ten years in the name of righting the wrong of 9/11?  Violence begets violence and more violence and more violence.  Hatred: more hatred, fear: more fear.  How do we become lovers of justice and mercy?

We've been camping out at my parent's home for the past week and a half as our house still hasn't sold, and the commute would just be too long and costly to justify staying in our own home.  It's a lot easier to keep my house clean for showings when we aren't actually living in it!  We check on it once a week and have some friends checking in on it as well regularly.  I don't think that it has really sunk into my mind yet that we are actually moving.  It kind of just feels like a prolonged visit to my parents house.  It's been almost nine years since I've lived in this house and in this city, so my bearings feel a little off.  When I'm driving around the city, I second guess my sense of direction because land has been cleared, new buildings have appeared, and new roads have been paved.
My kids are loving the extra attention of having grandparents and an auntie in the house in addition to my husband and I.  My grandmother and step-grandfather live next door, and it's been good to have some extra visits with my grandma.  I didn't realize it, but living further away changed the nature of visits with some family.  Because we had to drive a considerable distance, we usually only made the trek out there for larger family visits.  I had tea with my grandma last week and realized it has been a long, long time since I'd had a one on one visit with her.  Probably about nine years.  Growing up, I took for granted living next to my grandparents.  Now I realize how unusual that is, and what a neat experience it was to have so much access to my grandparents when I was a kid.
We've been going for walks in the evening here, and the closest playground for O is at the school where I attended from kindergarten to grade six.  When we arrived, I was so overwhelmed with the flood of childhood memories that I felt like sitting down right there and having a good cry about the brevity of our years.  How did time go so quickly?  Wasn't I just five years old and lined up outside for the first day of kindergarten?  Or in grade six walking down the hallway to the gymnasium for the first school dance, wearing my white denim skirt and sheer-sleeved blouse?  It's not that I want to start over and live my life from the start again.  It just seems to be picking up speed with every year.  I suppose that is part of what makes life so achingly beautiful: the older you get and the more you understand, the more you realize how precious the days are.
I lined up for kindergarten to the left of the door.  Just in case you were wondering.
I hope my little boys have good memories of their childhood.  O is adjusting quite well to this time of transition, and is just as friendly and effervescent as ever.  He adores his baby brother and loves talking all the time.  I love listening to his chatter, and I never know what he will think of next.  A few weeks ago, he said the funniest thing out of nowhere:
O: "Mom, when the Lord was making me, I was talking.  And the Lord told me to stop."
Me: "He told you to stop talking?"
O, looking very solemn: "Yes, Mom."  Then he burst out giggling.
I rarely tell him to stop talking, so I'm not sure where he got that one from, but I could kind of imagine God asking him to stop talking for a few seconds to concentrate on getting the arm in the armhole and the leg in the leg hole.
Once, when I was still pregnant with T., and running late for a doctor's appointment because the freeway was a parking lot and I was trying to figure out a back route on the fly, O, kept asking me questions about cows, clouds, road signs, and people and everything else under the sun, and I was only half listening and giving pat answers and "hmmms" and "I don't know"'s.  He finally said: "No, mommy, don't say 'I don't know,' think about it!"
T is adjusting well this quasi-move as well, although I wasn't really concerned that he would have trouble with it.  He seems so much older to me than O was at this age.  I think he probably is a little bigger in size, and he's already popped two teeth last week, and been rolling over for about a month already.  He is full of smiles these days, quiet giggles, and eyes filled with adoration for his older brother.  Can't you just see it in this photo?  Not really, I know.  But most of the time it's there.  These are the well enjoyed Bert & Ernie costumes my mom made for my older sister and I when we were kids.  They actually looked more cute than scary when they were filled out with bigger heads and before the mouths become kind of Joker-esque from years of play.
Brotherly love.



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