Wednesday, October 31, 2007

the many days of mural, part II

So, despite some doggie help, I have finally finished work on the mural. I can't believe it's done!

The painted Chinese characters is a proverb written by the upcoming baby's grandfather. Roughly translated it says,“In the pureness and innocence of childhood, true joy and happiness.”

This is my favorite part of the mural. The tree will be used as a growth chart, which is why the banner says, "Oh, how you've grown!" Originally it was going to include the baby's name but since that keeps changing, we decided to leave it out.

All in all the mural took about ten days to do. It may have been ten, ten-hour days, mind you. I think I might have lost some weight in the process. I definitely lost sleep as you can tell from my haggard appearance. Haggard, but happy!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

the many days of mural

My good friends Luke and Ranida are about to have a baby. So as a baby gift, I offered to paint a mural for their nursery. Of course, I have never painted a mural before but I thought, "Hey, I'm a professional illustrator, right? How hard can it be?" With my confidence in overabundance, I assured them that I could get the wall done in a few days, maybe a week.

So I drew up some sketches and got the okay for this one:

And calmly began painting in the background.

Then the snags began. My oh-so-smart idea of projecting the image onto the wall failed miserably. The room was too shallow for the image to project accurately and I spent the day wrestling with it.

Finally, I just gave up and drew everything freehand. Which was quite time-consuming.

And of course my pencil marks were so messy, I had to outline in paint just to see what I had drawn.

It was quite a relief to actually start painting color. But to get to this stage took about twice the amount of time anticipated.

And at this point, I just hope I get the mural done before the baby gets here!

to be continued...

Sunday, October 21, 2007


My friends have been really great in keeping my life full. Most recently, Jon and Loretta brought over some pumpkins to carve which was much fun.

Strangely, Jon decided to carve a Totoro pumpkin while I made mine into a Cylon. Totoro is a character from a sweet Japanese animation. A Cylon is an evil robot in Battlestar Galactica, a somewhat geeky sci-fi show. Somehow it seemed the pumpkins were carved by the wrong people. As Loretta put it, "It's as if we are in some kind of bizarro-land."

But that was until we lit them up. With the lights off and a the pumpkins glowing, we realized Jon's Totoro was quite menacing while my Cylon was rather cute.

Friday, October 19, 2007

you only lose what you cling to

Nine months ago, before Robert's illness became obviously terminal, I had been researching Buddhist quotes for my new novel. Without really considering the meaning, I wrote down the quote "you only lose what you cling to" as an offhand possibility. But as these last few months have progressed that quote seems to repeat in my head, becoming an anchor in an onslaught of emotional storms.

Caring for and watching someone you love die is a revelation. Only in Robert's death did I ever feel the emotions of life so purely and passionately. In that single moment, life and death balanced each other, becoming the same thing wrapped in one.

But that moment passed. Imperceptibly, Robert's death has begun to fade; and as his death diminishes in my life, the urge to cling to it beckons. Because to live in that moment of pure emotion, the moment where black and white become the same color, is to deny death. It allows me to feel that Robert is alive.

But to be in that moment of denying death, one must also deny life. To feel that Robert is alive, my own life must pay the price. And to do that, to squander my life in his name, would be the one thing he would not forgive me for.

So I have been letting go. Letting go of the memories, of the pure emotions, of the desperate times and flashes of beauty. And in this release, the meaning of the quote I wrote down long ago becomes clear to me. Clinging to Robert's death makes me feel as if I could lose his life. Letting it go makes me feel as if I can gain my own.