Monday, March 17, 2014

A Ghost in my Office

Now, I will admit that I am not the tidiest of people.  Things can end up in unexpected places.  But this morning things seem to have gotten out of control and the only explanation I can come up with involves supernatural ones.  To be specific, I think it was a visit from my Uncle Jack.

Last week, I bought two packages of photo paper at Staples.  They are in bright yellow boxes, hard to miss.  I opened one and used some paper, and I put the other box in the closet where I store computer paper.  The opened box sat on my desk next to the computer for a few days as I continued to use it.

Then, I had to tidy my office to make it look official and professional for a photo shoot.  (For a website.  Long story which I won't go into here.)  I put the miscellaneous stuff away, and I remember taking the photo paper out of the printer, putting it back into the package, and refilling the printer with normal copy paper.

Photo shoot happens, I go out of town for a few days, and this morning I sat down at my computer to edit a few photos and then print them out.

When it came time to print, I looked for the opened package of photo paper.  But I couldn't find it anywhere.  It was not in the closet with the unopened box.  It was not in any file drawers or anywhere I can think I might have tucked it while cleaning the desk surface.  I have looked behind and under things.  I have looked in other rooms, thinking that maybe I mistakenly carried it off in a pile of something-or-another.  It's a bright yellow box, for pete's sake.  Not hard to see.  But it is not anywhere I can find.

So I decide that I will open the other box, print my photos, and I'll eventually find Box #1.  You may be familiar with photo paper boxes like this -- the outer cardboard is sealed with two overlapping flaps that are fastened with a clear tape seal, and then other flaps inside there hold the plastic-wrapped pile of photo paper.  I take my scissors, gently cut the plastic seal, open the flap....

... and inside, facing up, is a photo of my aunt and uncle and their family, along with a few postcards that I used to display on my office bulletin board years ago, but were lately tucked into an organizer slot on my desk.

Yep, you read that right.  I opened the SEALED PACKAGE to find a family photo and some other postcards.

And you know how I mentioned that i was out of town for a few days last week?  I was visiting my aunt.  THE ONE IN THE PHOTO.  And, one night, we were talking about my uncle who died 4 years ago, and I was explaining somehing to my aunt about something he'd said to me once and why it was very meaningful to me.  Of course, during the visit his name came up various times too. Also, coincidentally, my mom and aunt and I had a long conversation about whether people who've died can visit us or communicate with us after they've died, and I was saying that I absolutely believe that they can.

Oh. I've just realized that it's St. Patrick's day today.  My uncle was Irish... my only Irish relative, in fact.

I still haven't found the first box of photo paper.  But I got my photos printed and I will carefully put Box #2 back in the closet and hope box #1 turns up.  And I will enjoy the very odd but sort of comforting thought that Uncle Jack was saying hello and telling me he knew I was thinking about him.

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Petaluma Morning

This past weekend, I met up with some Urban Sketching friends for a morning of sketching.  We met in the northern California town of Petaluma (the home of the mythical Daisy Hill Puppy Farm where Snoopy was born).  It's a lovely town, full of interesting old buildings, new shops and restaurants, a river and an old railroad station and lovingly kept Victorian homes.  We were graced with a perfect sunny day, and there was no shortage of things to draw -- even lots of benches along the street for sitting to sketch, too.

Our Urban Sketchers-North Bay group is pretty new, but we've gotten together often enough now that we're starting to know each other a bit.  I'm starting to recognize people's styles, and I learn so much from seeing what everyone does. 

We had some first-time attendees this weekend, too.  I had a funny conversation with one talented sketcher, Veda, who said that she felt pressured if she thought she was "sketching" but could relax and enjoy herself if she told herself she was "drawing."  Funny, I replied, as it's the opposite for me -- if I think I'm "drawing," then I somehow expect it to be tidy and perfect, while "sketching" in a journal feels free and inconsequential and I can just have fun.  We giggled at how we have to fool our inner critics to be able to just relax and create something.

Every time I sit down to draw something, I'm struck again at how pleasurable it is to just LOOK at somethings, and looking is really different from seeing.  When I look at something to draw it, I see it in a very different way.  I suddenly notice architectural details I hadn't really discerned before.  I notice shadows, and the graceful way they highlight features.  I notice the elegance of the street lamps, and the way the brick at the top of the buildings has weathered to a different color than the rest of the wall.  It's a visual meditation of sorts, and I realize every time that it's THAT feeling that keeps me sketching. It's a way of being fully present and absorbed and it feels wonderful. 

For anyone in the north bay area of San Francisco Bay, our group tries to get out to sketch on the second saturday of every month (usually around 10am) and the 4th thursday afternoon, usually around 1pm.  You can check out future sketch dates on the blog or on the USk-NB facebook page.  And you are welcome to come along!