Monday, April 30, 2007

~:G R O W T H:~

So Anton and I were in the grocery store the other day and I opened up my purse to pay for something at the checkout and the cashier said, "Oh, you look so organized! Your purse - everything is so organized! I'm jealous." I thanked her and smiled broadly. Maybe I'm getting my shit back together since the life I once knew flew out the window? Yes? YES. I can feel it. Two months ago it took me 10 minutes to find my keys. But now, everything's a little cleaner and I'm able to incorporate the old back into the new. My worlds are meeting. It's a fantastic feeling.

To give you an example, here's a picture of the back porch, which I transformed into a gardening station. Oh, it's heavenly to try to make things grow. I took cuttings from many of my favorite plants and am trying to root them. Doug and I are building a fence for the front yard and I want to use the surface as an excuse to plant more tings. Building the fence will be a different post. More later on that. In one corner of the porch, I've got my potter's wheel set up. I am itching like mad to get that going again. I think Anton would have a blast throwing pots. Oh, we are going to have such fun together.

So Spring is here and lots of projects are brewing. I am feeling creative again, with more energy to share. I'm feelin' the love.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

~:S E L L I N G • O U T:~

I know. I suck. We said goodbye to the Landrover and traded it in for a {ahem} minivan. I never thought I'd cave in. I thought living in the suburbs was bad enough. But no. You're looking at a Hundai Entourage. At least it's red?! It's wonderful, though. Much better gas mileage and a kazillion cup holders and air bags inside. Room for lotsta people, all my school stuff, all of Anton's gear and the shit monkey, BjornMouse. So we're happy. And safe. A family. In a minivan.


Friday, April 27, 2007

~:P O U R I N G • M U S I C:~

A painting I did in response to my relationship with God. About connectedness, spirituality and love. Some of my most warm childhood memories come from a child's perspective of a relationship with God. I took piano lessons for 10 years growing up. To help me feel less alone when carrying the burden of practicing 30 minutes a day, my mother would get up with me every morning and listen to me practice. I'd set the alarm for 6AM, wake her up and we'd both go downstairs to sit on the couch and pray. We'd pray together and when we finished, I'd go into the next room to practice. Mom would sit on the couch and listen to me. I knew she was there, in the next room. It helped to have an audience. To know I was not alone.

I thought of God the same way. Sitting next to me on the piano bench, quietly listening as I struggled to learn, to memorize and to pour emotion intuitively into the instrument.

Mom said it was wonderful to wake up to a house with music. I think it was wonderful to wake up to an audience every morning. I think my mother was smart and wise to do what she did. When I asked for a piano, she made me sign a contract that said I'd take lessons for at least 5 years. When I got sick of playing, when the novelty of the gift wore off and I'd wanted to quit, she pulled out the contract and remind me of my promise. It was written on a piece of paper and sat in a drawer to the left of the fridge. It was the biggest promise I ever kept as a child. I ended up taking lessons for 10 years and it's shaped me forever. In many good ways. I still play to this day. And when I do, I think of the contract. I think of Mom and the couch. I think of god sitting next to me. I think of Tommy listening. My grandfather listening. It is very much like the alter at church. That intersection of space and time.

Music connects us to the spiritual world. It pours through us - vibrates every cell in us, every cell of wood in violins, pianos, cellos. It sings and gives and brings pleasure. Makes you think. Expresses gratitude. Smiles to everyone.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

~:M I A • I N • C R O C S:~

This is the latest from Mom - a beautiful painting of my niece Mia in her green Crocs. I just ove this one. Innocent and simple and honest. Composition is strong, primary colors are so childlike and the details of the beads connect you from the bravely painted green shoes all the way up to her sweet face.

Way to go, Mom. You rock! Do Anton next?

Monday, April 23, 2007

"What we all have in common

is an appreciation of kindness and compassion;

all the religions have this.

We all lean towards love."

~Richard Gere

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Nothing is better than this. Sleeping in on a Saturday morning and walking downstairs into your sunny kitchen to find your husband feeding the pears and apple your prepared the night before to the baby and your dog napping at their feet in a patch of sunshine. Fresh coffee waiting to be ground and brewed. Knowing you're not in the hospital anymore. Saying a quick prayer for the women who are. Knowing that you're just a few months away from fitting into your favorite skirt again. Feeling your legs grow stronger underneath you. Finding new muscles you didn't know you had in your arms. Trusting that life will not kill you. That you'll always get stronger through every hardship you endure and learn from. That you are not alone. That you bring life to everything and everything to life. That you breathe peace. That you encourage smiles. That things are perfectly as they should be. That everything will be OK.

Friday, April 20, 2007

~:B A A A A • M E A N S • N O:~

One of my all time favorite movie scenes is from Woody Allen's "Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask." Gene Wilder plays a doctor who falls in love with Mr. Milo's sheep.

I could watch this movie over and over and over again. Classic. One of Woody's best.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

~:H E A L I N G • L A U G H T E R:~
I read this wonderful article on Jeff Daniels in the April issue of Premiere magazine. I've never taken him seriously until now, even though Dumb and Dumber is one of my favorite films. What he has to say about fame, humor, truth and what REALLY matters - really moved me:
" are you with the fact that many may remember you best as the guy with the runs in Dumb and Dumber?"
"Listen, over the weekend I saw soldiers at the Walter Reed hospital—no arms, faces blown up—and every single one of 'em quoted Dumb and Dumber. Later, I was told that those were the first words one guy had said in three days So that's my answer: "Absolutely, it was worth it."

Pretty amazing.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

This God Poster, a regular Emotive Type 2 assignment of mine at Portfolio Center, belongs to Hank. I have to thank you all for your thoughtful responses to my post about religion versus spirituaity.

I received another reponse today... here's a very beautiful part of it:

"Folks have faith in what they are told to have faith in.
It moves us away from God - when questioning is much
more a magnet toward God."

Happy Tuesday everyone. See you tomorrow.


Monday, April 16, 2007

~:P E T T I N G • Z O O:~

Olaf doesn't get as much press as Bjorn, but I think these photos make up for it. Anton sat in the grass for the first time today. He's learning how to sit up. You can see him beginning to tip near the end. Poor guy. He had a nice long nap after these were taken.

Nanny bought him the hat. Nancy Lauber knit him the sweater. And I think the lillies you see behind me are from Aunt Jacki years ago. David Arnold suggested we encourage Anton to pitch with his left hand.

I think this is a good start.

Minus is back! yay!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

~:E N D • O F • D A Y S:~

Yesterday I was summoned by Bjorn downstairs who was madly barking at voices coming from the font yard. I opened the front door and heard my neighbor Pat saying, "No, Thank you." Then I see two women pull up my driveway in a white Cadillac. They approach me with Bibles in hand and I immediately get nauseous.

One of them shakes my hand and says that she's here to get my "opinion" about the word of God.

"I'm an Episcopalian, so you don't need to evangelize to me."

"Yes, but do you believe we are indeed in the End Of Days?"

"Really, thank you but I don't need to discuss this with you."

So they left in pursuit of their next victims , thank GAWD.

I find myself so ashamed of my religion when I come across people like these. I realize I should be more tolerant, but it's THEIR intolerance that triggers mine. Fear-based fundamentalism makes me sick to my stomach. A couple of years ago I had an argument with a Christian who believed that homosexuality was a symptom of sexual abuse and that this was FACT and she had proof because ALL of her "recovering" homosexual clients (she's a Christian therapist) struggled with the same issues.

Last night I watched a fabulous documentary of Rome produced by The Learning Channel, back when TLC used to really be the "learning" channel. One of the strengths of Rome was that they assimilated their conquered cultures and were quite tolerant of other religions. They didn't have the racial tensions that we have in America today. The Romans simply adopted the best of all cultures to make themselves even stronger. No God, technique or style was too good for them.

Then the strange cult of Christianity appeared. This was one religion that refused to be assimilated. You were either a Roman OR a Christian. This all came to pass as Roman emperors became more and more ridiculous, Rome was too large to expand any longer, inflation disrupted the economy.... The Fall of Rome was here. Christianity offered unhappy Romans a way to escape what was wrong with their civilization. It contradicted everything Rome stood for. It gave them a solid moral ground upon which to stand. It offered a black and white world with no room for interpretation, no reason to stray into the abyss of self discovery, the despair of choice.

It's so odd for me to think of Christians meeting in underground catacombs for years and then suffering for their beliefs. What made them so different and eventually SO successful was their intolerance of other religions. And this is true to this day. It's what makes many Christians nauseatingly unbearable to me.

What keeps my heart tied to the idea of Christianity is Christ's message of love, grace, tolerance, generosity and forgiveness. There are a few other Christians out there like me, I know. But we're not very popular. Not as popular as the Bible Thumpers.

It's kind of a lonely place to be.

There must be comfort in thinking you're right all the time. Comfort in not having to think for yourself. Comfort in using the Bible as a magic 8 ball, instead of a beautiful set of stories meant to inspire kindness and truthfulness in all who read it.

I think all religions are valid. I don't think I have the right to dictate to anyone how they should worship if they chose to do so. My god is real. But he may not be yours, which is fine. Doesn't have to be yours, which is more than fine.

I believe the wonder of God comes in many forms, many faces - in people, rituals, places, nature... god is a single being, god is a culture, a group, a prayer. God is not a "code of conduct" or set of rules meant to make decision making easier.

I know that's vague. Infuriatingly so for many people. But I've been doing a lot of thinking lately.

If you have any thoughts or beliefs you'd like to share, I'm open to listening. And if not, that's OK, too. Just know that you're probably going to hell.

Kidding! I don't actually believe in hell - I think THIS is hell and when we all die, somehow, SOMEHOW everything we struggled for in this life is rewarded by peace.

I just believe it all works out.

No matter how awful things are, we are, they are - things just work out.

Friday, April 13, 2007

~:B A P T I S M:~

Anton was baptized this Easter Sunday, and although the weather was chillier than I wanted, the day was quite perfect. We had everyone we loved with us to celebrate the event. Anton was a dream - sweet and flirty and patient. He fussed a little at the water and tried to eat the prayer book we were reading from - but he was still cute.

I had an epiphanous moment at the alter, the intersection of space and time. As I ate the communion bread, I had the most wonderful vision of Tommy making bread with Christ, for me to eat. It was marvelous. I can't describe how wonderful it felt to sit in church with my baby in my lap. I felt very blessed.

All the Temples came to join us - and I think Charles, Brent and Peter should start their own "daddy day care" center here in Atlanta. They have the magic touch. We all wore white - it was such a wonderful day. A real celebration.

Want to see pictures? There are lots to see here:

Anton's Easter Baptism

Happy Easter everyone,


Thursday, April 12, 2007

~:C R E A T I V E • S T R O K I N G • W I T H • E M O T I V E • T Y P E:~

These are the talented designers and some of their work in this quarter's Creative Strokes class at PC. We're having a blast with interpreting the Seven Deadly Sins with inky passion. Take a look at some of their work! Hooray for Jessica, John, Keith, Yuri, Witt, Brent, Jared and Van.

Friday, April 06, 2007

~:B A B Y • S P A C E • F O O D:~

Anton is learning how to eat solids from a spoon. I never thought I'd be one of those earthy mothers who makes her own baby food, but once I tried it, I couldn't stop. His pediatrician said it was more "time consuming" than buying preparing baby food jars, but really - it couldn't be easier. I surprised myself at how easy it was.

If you have a pot of water and a hand mixer, that's all you need. For instance, to prepare carrots, simply boil them in water until they're soft and then purée them in a hand mixer or blender. Then pour the mix into an ice cube tray and freeze for later. When he's ready for lunch, pop a cube in the microwave for a few seconds, stir and eat, eat, eat! It's fun!

So far, we're up to yellow fruits and veggies. After 7 months, we'll be adding green to his menu. Here on Anton's plate are: Carrot, squash, banana, apple and pear.

Any questions?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

~:B J O R G E:~

I am very, VERY happy today with some terrific news to share with you. ALL of the pets in the Elser household have finally made it on I Heart Casper Dot Com. This site belongs to Casper - Larry Luk's cute little fluffy white dog. I feel as if our pets have finally gotten the credit and exposure they deserve. Life could not be better.

I also learned something about Bjorn, who I THOUGHT was a virgin. Apparently, he and another PC student named George had a fling thing and produced the love child you see here, Bjorge.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

~:J O H N • G I V E N S:~

Way back in 1996, I graduated from PC with a good friend named John Givens. Now a designer in San Francisco, John's coming back to PC to give one of those seminar thingies on April 19th.

John's just completed a documentary called Working Title: a 60 minute film that "explores what it means to be an artist in a society that defines you by what you do for a living."

I'm excited because it's been soooo long since I've seen him. John has a great sense of humor - could make me laugh easily and was kind of a brother to me in grad school. He was honest and entertaining. His work had a heavy authenticity to it that made you think and care. He had a thing for texture, a love for the deeper story, an understanding of abstraction. John's a good man.

When we both graduated, John immediately went to San Fran. I interviewed out there and stayed with him and his girlfriend. They were both very generous. John made me the clock you see here. It's a portrait of me, back in the days I used to smoke - during my 8th quarter I got up to 2 packs a day. No shit. So I've got the smoker's mouth, BUT two lovely tulip petals for eyes.

I had just come back from interviewing with Ann Field in LA. She knew pink tulips were my favorite flower and greeted me with a bouquet of them. I nearly cried. I carried them with me on the plane to San Fran and put them in a vase at John's apartment. John saved two of the tulip petals for my clock and on the back wrote, "To Annie: Always Sweet, Occasionally Innocent."

Sunday, April 01, 2007

~:S P R I N G • H A S • S P R U N G:~

This post might explain my brief absence from the blogosphere. Next week I begin teaching again at PC. Behold the 5 new syllabi I've carefully crafted for the Spring quarter. The newest addition is a logos class, about which I'm real excited. I'm reintroducing and oldie, but goodie: The Holy Hand. Type is Mass has returned as well. I've been rubbing my palms together all weekend to prepare.

I learned how to make these little books from Michael Goodman's Bookingmaking class. I'll be taking it again this quarter, too. They're printed on French butcher paper. Lovely colors and a fun, shiny and modeled texture.

In other news, Anton is now 6 months old. This Easter Sunday, he'll be baptized. Very exciting! I am madly trying to finish a knitted cap for him to wear. He is a dream.

ALSO, I've started gardening again. Since we had such a warm gust of Spring weather lately, I've braved the weeds and pollen to plant new annuals and make room for the emerging perennials. This is a good sign, folks. I've just about reclaimed all the energy I used to have and my headaches continue to fade. I just don't think that much about my headaches any more. They are going away.

So our yard looks like it is once again loved. New plants at the mailbox, the windowboxes are full yet again. Things are in bloom. And I am STILL not in the hospital anymore.

Love to everyone,