Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Woods and Nests

For those of you who aren't following me on any social media, today was the day of my photography (film photo I might add) final for summer semester. You are in some luck today, because a good bit of this is copied right from my personal journal. 

We were to create a set of at least eight prints, mounted anyway we chose, that were inspired by a song or poem. From the get go, I had chosen the song "Woods" by Bon Iver as my song, only because of how much sway it held for me mentally. (You can check out this beautiful song here) But I won't lie, I was not expecting this assignment to whoop my ass the entire time. Three failed attempts and unforeseen circumstances later, I finally had a semi working idea/process for it. However, nearly eleven total hours later in the darkroom, I was coming up with nine nowhere near perfect prints and a lot of tearful texting to Daniel and my classmate Shelbie about how I was sure going to fail. I was just not inspired anymore and nothing was working the way I wanted it too. Insert instagram I took during one of my tearful frantic pacings during this time period...yes, that is a bottle of orange juice in the darkroom because I like to live dangerously and I have a really bad cold at the moment. 

Defeated, I put my nine, sad prints in the drying rack and went home, praying to the universe that something would come out alright. Sleep didn't really happen, just fitful tossing and turning. I get to the darkroom today with the rest of my parts for my mount and pulled my prints out to press them flat, only to see that in my over-analyzing panic the night before, they were not as terrible as I had expected now that they were fully dried and done. Not perfect, but not bad. So I set about to finish the piece in time for critique, which was building the mount for the pictures. I created a nest like sculpture to continue with my theme. During this time of adding grapevine twigs, burlap strips, white yarn, and torn photos to the nest, Daniel looked at me and said "Do you have a your brush with you? You could add some of your hair to it." 

I didn't actually have my brush with me, but I held out the scissors to him, pulled a lock of my hair from my head and told him to cut it off. He did with no trepidation, and I took this final touch and wove it into the nest. With each bit, I silently wished for a beautiful assignment and positive feedback, that all my work had not been in vain. Hair is one of the most magically infused things in existence, as it is the embodiment of who we are. You place a strand of hair under a microscope and it could tell you everything about your diet, age, health, etc. What better to wish for personal growth on that who you are? It's not as vain or selfish as you may think. 

Also from the start, I wanted this to be an interactive artwork. Keeping to that, I set up the piece in the classroom with my nine pictures laying on a wooden stool before the nest shaped mount and clothespins hanging from string. As the song played during the pre-critique, I had my classmates one-by-one come up to clothespin any chosen picture somewhere on the mount while I sat and watched. 

I was blown away. Watching this unfold was like watching magic happen. It was in such beautiful sync with the song that the final picture was placed on the mount as the song finished. I wanted to cry. My work came to life with the help of my ten comrades. It was more than I could have expected.

And lo and behold, I received positive feedback not only from my classmates, but my professor as well. Especially on the piece being interactive and my use of double exposure, which hadn't been taught during the semester. I kind of did it on a complete whim and a want to experiment. I left the classroom today with a new feeling of pride, my idea child held tight in my hand.

The day was only made better by watching Owlfish (who had accompanied me into Atlanta today as well) play peekaboo with a random lady on the MARTA train. She was an older woman who was coming from the airport and couldn't have been a nicer person. You almost expect everyone in such places to be guarded and nervous of you each time ("stranger danger"...nobody know show to be nice anymore.) But this woman was great; she spoke of her great-niece to us and Abbie really seemed to enjoy the fact that someone else was talking to her. I left the train feeling happy.

And for those who don't follow, here is an instagram of my final piece, "Nest".

I hope you all had a great hump day!!

("Nest" is an original piece of my own creation. The piece and instagram image is copyright to me and may not be distributed/sold anywhere without my written consent.)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Bagna Cauda

As I said in my last post (Damn, it's been a bit. Thanks summer semester!), we had Bagna Cauda night nearly two weeks ago at our house. In our family, this is kind of a big deal. Like a family cookout, but very Italian. Lots of wine and cooking. It was the night before my grandparents left, which that in itself was bittersweet. I still miss them. But back to Bagna. Better get comfy, I'm going on a long haul, complete with terrible wit and lots of parentheses!

So, you may be wondering, what is Bagna Cauda?


I know, it probably looks gross and not so appetizing. Pictures sometimes don't do justice, y'know. Basically, Bagna Cauda (or "hot bath") is an Italian fondue type dish, usually meant to be done with a lot (and I mean A LOT) of people. So it's most often a  family affair. Ya dig?

Here's how you do it!

First, invite over all of your family or friends within a decent radius. Have them all each bring a bottle of red wine (or their favorite spirit, doesn't matter!). Then, get cooking.

The actual Bagna is made from olive oil, heavy cream, a SHIT TON of garlic (because we hates Twilight and are Italian, so never mind...), and anchovies (Ick, I know...just bear with me!). All of these are crushed and mashed in a pan for several hours until is becomes a very hot liquid. And when I say several hours, I mean it. That's why everyone is to get involved with the process! Once the Bagna is ready, the concoction is put into an electric frying pan on simmer to keep it bubbling and hot throughout the meal. During the mashing and whatnot, collect things to fry in the mix such as meat (Raw! Don't cook it, the Bagna does that for you!), cauliflower, bell peppers, mushrooms, and cabbage, all of which should be chopped or torn into bite-sized pieces before the meal. Also, cut up one inch slices of baguette bread. These will be eaten with the meat and veggies after they have been in the fondue. (Or as we do, during the cooking! We go through some bread!) And be sure to keep refilling your drink as you go! Keep some water handy, it gets hot in the kitchen during this!

Set your table or eating area up with the Bagna in the middle of it all. Toss in some of the raw meat and veggies to the pan. Let those cook for a bit, then place them on your slice of bread and enjoy! Lots of laughs, love, wine, and food with people you hold dear!

WARNING: You will smell like garlic for days! Your clothes, hair, sweat, farts...all garlic. Go help out some poor Twitard with their issues during this period! (Or just take a long bath and wash your clothes...that's cool too.)

Phew...So there you go. That's Bagna Cauda. Sound cool? Give it a shot and send me your pictures! I'd love to see them! theburntnickel (at) yahoo (dot) com

If you would like a better detailed recipe, including cook time, shoot me an email!

Here's a couple pictures from our Yuletide Bagna Cauda back in 2010:

Yours truly in the mashing process! My hair was such a hot mess back then...

The table set up!

(All pictures this time are taken by my Dad)

Friday, July 12, 2013

My Grandparents are here!

Look at little mini Owlfish up there! She was so so tiny! I can't believe it's nearly been two years since those picture; it's crazy.

My grandparents are here in town for the week!  They arrived Wednesday night, but once again, due to school and life, I haven't had a chance to share the news. It's exciting that they are visiting, considering they haven't been to Georgia since Owlfish was a month and a half old. So far, Abbie has been a bit skittish around them and it took her about a day to generally warm up to them. Usually, she's very social, but things happen. She's been doing well though, especially since I haven't been home during the day because of class. Not gonna lie, it sucks losing so much time with my grandparents because of school. They live on the west coast, so my family and I don't get to see them often. But I'm trying to make the most of it without too much brooding. 

The biggest deal of them being here for me is that they finally get to meet Daniel. The last time Grandma and Grandpa were in town was Thanksgiving 2011, which was still when Daniel and I were  courting each other (see causally dating, not really together, etc...). But I knew eventually this day would come and they do really seem to like him alot. And they get to see how he and Owlfish interact with each other. So far, so good! :)

Tomorrow is Bagna Caulda day! Don't know what that is? Stay tuned!

Pictures from Thanksgiving 2011 ( see post here.)

Monday, July 08, 2013

Personal diagnosis

I'm jaded as shit.

Pretty sure that's the biggest answer to all my problems. It's not just my mental disorders, not just stress, not just being a single mom. I'm just lacking in enthusiam in every form. I'm constantly tired and not caring. Ever since I left Carrollton now two and a half years ago, I've found my lust for life and will lessening with each passing day. Granted, for a while, I thought it was because of pregnancy before and after that was killing my mojo. I am not one of those women who enjoyed being preganant. I hated almost every minute of it. Not just with the stress my ex placed on me; I was always sick, I didn't want to move, I got lazy as hell. The only brightsides were the nudges, the kick and pokes, the growing ultrasound pictures from little Owlfish. And that's it. All the crap I got spoonfed about how "this trimester will do___", "your hair will be pretty", "everyone loves that mommy glow"...yeah right. All I felt was gross, fat, and sweaty. Like being on the rag for nine months, minus the gore. I complained more than was necessary. Bitch, bitch, whine, gripe, bitch, bitch. Then came post-preganancy, my immature mind hoped things would start going back to normal. My drive would come back, I'd lose all that baby weight, I'd get happy. If not for my sake, then for my baby girl.


PPD kicked in hard, but I didn't even try to get out the rut or seek help. I kinda went straight to autopilot, only coming alive when I was forced into public, not stressed, or Abbie was being sweet (which to her favor, she is almost always sweet!). And my autopiolot is not nice. If anything, I'm a complete bitch and a half. And I get thorny with people easily. It takes so much energy for me to put on a smile in a crowd, to be even a decent girlfriend to a man I clearly feel I don't deserve, and most importantly, the mother my child deserves. And it's my fault to be honest. I haven't given my all to fix it. Yes, I got back into school finally and back on track to getting finishing degree, but I fought tooth and nail for that not for my sake, but to prove everyone wrong that I couldn't/wouldn't do it. So it was in a sense selfish vanity. And now being back, I'm still just as jaded as I was out of school. I have lucked into alot of my work and grades except for my last photo assignment, which I actually forced effort. But even now, I'm still not sure if I did it to get better and wake the fuck up, or just to put on a show. 

Yes, maybe it's just because I'm a twenty something and my jadedness is my still immaturity in life, especially as a first time mom trying to balance that and being an artist. I'm probably not the only one like this out there. But now that I have woken up and figured out what the hell is the matter with me, there's a huge part of my mind that's like "The fuck? Fix this! This isn't you!" I have always hated complacency and living like a sheep. I used to push back on society and live as much as I could. I know I can still do that, just a little differently to be a good example to the little being curretly kicking the side of her crib refusing to go to sleep. It IS possible.

But I still feel that huge tidal tug that screams, "K, well why bother? Nothing's gonna change, so go nap." And it's hard not to shrug, give it, and just be...well, you get it.

Heavy boots and all that. 

Something's gotta give. I know it does. But how to fight it? Where do I finally stand up and go enough is enough? I still have dreams that I have tried to put in motion, only to too soon give up. Is that really how I want the rest of my life to be? Is that the example I want to give my kid?

Hell no.

tL;dR, have my mind vomit on life. If you have any advice, I'm very willing to hear it. Things have to change and I need to stop being such a catalyst to my own drama.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

These Colors Don't Run-

-Despite all of the rain Mother Nature decided to dump on us today. We caught a few fireworks tonight, but mostly stayed home and watched 1776. Daniel had never seen it. It wasn't a huge party day, but we still got out and celebrated. Owlfish wasn't exactly thrilled with the rain and company today, but for her second 4th, she did alright. 

I hope you all had a safe and dry Independence Day, full of family and appreciation for those who still fight for our freedom today!

Click here to see last years celebrations!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Unexpected Hiatus


I appaud and thank all of you who still stopped by or read this poor blog in my unexpected absence. June became a completely hectic month out of the blue and I didn't have much personal time, let alone blogging time. Also, for those who have just discovered our corner of the internet, hello and welcome to Owlfish and Family. Check out the links to the side to figure our bunch out. :) 

With that being said, in short, here's what happened in June of 2013:

-Daniel and I attended Frill by Affrilliation 2013 as staff. We only managed to make it one day due to scheduling conflicts, but it was a great chance to hang out with our lolita and dandy friends. Also some great shopping and meet-and-greet, all topped by a great night of drinks, dancing, and fashion. For more information on Frill, the Atlanta based Lolita convention, visit here!

-I started my first semester at Georgia State University June 10th. Nearly two years after withdrawing from West Georgia, I finally went back to finish my undergrad degree. So far, it's been fast paced, mostly because it's a condensed semester. That and trying to balanced home life and being a mommy is proving to be challenging. But I'm hanging tough. And so are Owlfish and Daniel, wo have been complete troopers the past month.

-Had a fair share of bumps and hardships. Experienced a few tragic losses and made irrational decisions with regards to burning bridges. Not entirely proud of that last part right there....

By the way, speaking of the munchkin:

-We have hit the three foot mark!

-Operation No Binky has begun. I decided it was time to start weaning her off the pacifier now that bottles went out the window about two months ago. So far, it's been slow and I have given in quite a few times. She's definitely a diva baby.

-I recieved my first piece of art from here two days ago. Insanely proud mama:

-She went to sleep early for her tonight. 8:25 pm. I suspect either a growth spurt or lack of daily naps are at work.

Otherwise, Daniel and I are doing fantastic. Still holding strong, although we have had a few disagreeements as of late. Nothing major, but still needed to happen. We've been having some trouble adjusting to the new schedule in our lives with me being back at school, but I think it'll be something that over time, we'll adjust to together. But class was cancelled for tomorrow, so I get a four day weekend! Definitely couldn't have come at a better time too...

Now, if Mother Nature could only hold off her emotions long enough to see fireworks tomorrow, things would be stellar.

Hope you all have been doing well in our absence! Thanks for sticking around!