Friday, April 01, 2016

Yes, but is it art?

Just some random images, from sketchbooks and elsewhere. Just cuz.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Christmas toss-up continued

The main alternative to flat-out Jesus kids get at Christmas is Santa. So, this would seem a natural choice for our household, especially being as fond as we are of fairy-stories. But there's something about the whole Santa masquerade that's rankled me as long as I can remember, so I've kind of begged off just laying him out on a platter as where the presents come.
Somehow, the kid's latched onto him as THE source of Christmas gifts. She told me plainly that there should be NO presents in the house, and that Santa would take care of it on Christmas Eve. I was tempted to do as she said, and take any existing presents out, but not even I'm that cruel (plus I'd been looking forward to her getting the dollhouse we'd gotten her way back in early autumn). I wouldn't concede, however, to the wife's suggestion that we tag some gifts as 'From Santa.' I don't know how to handle her self-created belief in the Jolly Old Elf, but one thing's for certain: I won't be resorting to the emotional blackmail that makes up the 'Santa's Naughty-or-Nice' list myth.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Christmas toss-up

I'm an atheist, but I wasn't raised that way. Nor was I raised in any religion. I'm trying to bring up the kid a little more spiritually informed than I was, and with an open choice to make re: religion when the time comes. Christmas can, naturally enough, make this a little tricky. Especially in this house.
See, we kinda love Christmas around here. We have to have a tree, we like to have the holiday with some kind of family (this year it's our nuclear one for the first time), make sure we watch the old movies that brought out the spirit in us as kids, listen to our own brand of Christmas music and usually have a hearty meal on the day. So, the kid's getting that it's important to us.
She's in a nursery, and this year they did a little Nativity play. She was Joseph. It was the first exposure she'd had to the whole story, and indeed to most of the idea of Jesus (or at least 'Baby Jesus'), and she was almost immediately enamoured. I wasn't too surprised: she loves a good story, and it's a pretty decent one. The folks at the nursery didn't seem to be indoctrinating her with any kind of scriptural brainwashing or anything, so I couldn't really mind. Sure, every once in a while she was coming home with little gems like, 'Baby Jesus is very strong. Stronger than anybody,' but her understanding of Mary, Joseph, the Angel Gabriel and the Baby himself amounted to something more like Super Friends than saviour and family.
But, of course, there's the questions. And she's reaching the point where my vague style of answering such questions in an even-handed manner (e.g., 'There are people in the world who believe...') is not really cutting it for her. She's somehow worked out that, for some people at least, this is Real, and not just the Fairy Story she was first understanding it as. I try to make sure to talk with her about it, in the very least to feel out where she stands mentally on the whole issue of it's reality, and I can only come to the conclusion that it doesn't really matter to her.
Because, really, her memory reaches to about a month ago lately on casual things, and much longer on things that matter alot to her. Seems like this is a thing that is ending up not mattering any more to her than that there's more to the Sleeping Beauty story than '...happily ever after.' And quite possibly less.
When it comes right down to it, though, I'll be grateful when the season's over and we can get back to not talking about Baby Jesus, Angel Gabriel...and their occasional encounters with the Wicked Witch of the West.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A good day is a good day

I made a deal with the kid a couple weeks ago.
I'd been finding myself a little...short-tempered to be dealing with a three-year-old every day, and I knew she was starting to reflect it. We'd gotten into this weird, antagonistic dynamic, and I needed it to stop. So, we made a deal: I'd be nicer to her, if she'd be nicer to me.
It was simple, but effective, and the house is so much better to be in every day because of it. I make an effort to take extra deep breaths before responding if I feel my patience/temper shortening, and I can see she works a little harder to adjust her tone with me.
Our days together can be long, especially when she's just here at home alone with me all day (as is happening right now with a killer cold snap, no nursery, and mum not having started holiday yet), so it's been vitally important to us both for them to be calmer, if not always better.
But they're usually better, too.

Monday, December 20, 2010

They ARE real books, but...

I worked in a comic shop for about a decade, so I'm pretty aware of the stigma attached to funny-books. Chief among these is that, regardless of packaging or content or style, they're just not 'real books.' They are, and I'm not really going to go into why they are, since I'm sure there are at least dozens of people who've done it better than me already. The trouble is, though, that while I'm reading a stack of classic-literature Real Books, I've been reading comics/graphic novels/trade paperbacks on the side. The classics, and there are 23 of them, have been mostly enjoyable and satisfying, though there have been a few honest-to-god hard slogs in there. The comics...well, mostly the same can be said.
However, I've probably read around 100 comics in the time it's taken me to read less than 20 of the others. And therein lies my own problem with comics as Real Books. They meet any criteria you can throw at them to stand up next to standard literature (save that real books aren't illustrated, but who would make that one up?), but damn do they read ALOT faster!
The latest example of this are my latest coincidental readings: in one corner, the hefty Edwardian series of stories making up John Galworthy's Forsyte Saga; in the other, Neil Gaiman's The Sandman. I have roughly 100 pages left in the former, and have only just (re)started the latter. Still, I have this lingering suspicion that I just might make it through all 10 volumes of Sandman before I finish Galworthy's saga.
So, what? Does that delegitimise comics as literature, or indeed as books? Of course not. But it does make them -- at least for me -- substantially faster reading.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Snowballs in Hell

Something I've gotten used to living here in northern England is the almost total lack of snow all winter long. So, imagine my surprise yesterday morning.
There'd been a light snow the day before,
one that I'd totally missed somehow between bringing the kid home from her Christmas party and looking out the window about an hour later. But it'd been nothing like the 3 inches or so we got hit with overnight.
It didn't even cross my mind to be bothered by the snow. I grew up in central Pennsylvania, and this is the sort of behaviour we naturally expect from the coldest part of the year. We don't have a car, and over the weekend had nowhere we had to be, so we could just play in it! (It was only later, when being offered by a friend kind wishes to 'make it through this awful weather' that it even occured to me this might not
be something everyone was enjoying.)
It was our wedding anniversary, and spending that morning with the wife & daughter out
building a snowperson, shoveling snow into a pile and then fashioning a crude snow-hill & tunnel, frankly it all felt like the perfect way to celebrate 6 years of marriage and what's happened in the interim.
I couldn't help but feel like passersby thought we were a little nuts for frolicking about in our front garden in heaps of snow, but that doesn't really seem anything new in this town. And we had a great time doing it, so nuts to them.
(Of course, sometime early in the evening last night some chucklehead had the balls to walk right into our aforementioned garden and knock the head off our snowperson. I rebuilt it today, though it's not the snowperson it once was. I expect the head to be off again tomorrow...and I'll probably rebuild it again.)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Back in the swing?

I'm at the point in my life where I either need to get serious about writing, or just give up on the concept entirely. If I can make any kind of an effort to keep writing here, I think that should be an indication I'm not utterly hopeless.
Since the last time I wrote (ages and ages ago) anything about my life here, my life has changed again. We've had the kid I said we were having, and she's superb. The kid's now 3 and a half years old, and smart and funny and lovely and just about everything I could've dreamed or hoped of her.
The missus came up with the idea that we should try to get the kid to earn a recent trip somewhere we know she loves to go (with the added bonus that Santa would be there, for whatever that means to her). The goal was to earn a star a day for good behaviour, with the cumulative sum of four equalling the trip. Well, she did it, and life around the house has been superb. Today, however, (the day after earning the 4th star) she was starting to act up. When we both asked her to settle down, she said: 'But I already got my four stars.' Serves us right, I suppose.
I reasoned with her that all our lives have been so much more pleasant for the past week, and wouldn't it be lovely if we could be like that all the time? She saw the sense in this, and settled down to go get dressed. It's swell having a smart kid.
(I don't mean to suggest she's a monster on her usual days, but she -- like her Dad -- has trouble with her temper. We've been trying to get it under control/give her alternatives for venting. You know, like NOT hitting other kids when they take a toy she's not really playing with but is integral to her environment somehow.)
Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary. We're going on the kid's trip. To a kids' science museum. Not the most romantic destination, but a suitable reflection of what our life is now with me, the wife, and the little girl. Should be a good time. Oh, and of course I've gotten the wife a little something (the US anniversary this year is for iron; in the UK it's sugar -- guess which way I went).