30
Apr

Journals!

Well, I sold both of my little springtime jotters! I guess that’s my kick in the butt to get some more made and up in my shop. I finished two on Wednesday and Thursday, but only one of them was ever destined to make it into my shop, and that’s this one, Little Bird in Brown.

Go check it out. :)

The one that didn’t make it into my shop was tailor-made for my baby “sister,” who is as avid a writer as I am and who was in need of a new journal. She loves zebra print, and her favorite color is red, so it was only fitting to make her a zebra print journal with a red spine. This was my first real attempt at coptic binding, and it turned out surprisingly well.

It wasn’t perfect, of course. I underestimated how much thread I was going to need—twice. And I missed one knot on the spine.

The signatures don’t line up 100%, but someday, I’m determined to get my own paper guillotine so that I can trim the pages nice and neat like professional bookbinders do.

But until then, I’m content to have these little imperfections. That’s part of the charm of handmade items: there will never be another exactly like it, because each one will have it’s subtle differences.

25
Apr

Found Poetry

There’s something kind of magical about combing through the words on a printed page and finding bits of poetry there; a little bit in this line, a word in the next, a phrase in the one after that… Found poetry takes a piece of prose and turns it into something completely and totally new.

The concept of found poetry is something that I find incredibly attractive, especially since I used to be a very prolific poet. Most of my poetry was awful, but I enjoyed writing it until I turned my focus more towards prose. The novel for me eclipsed the poem, and for me, it became a lost art form. At least, until now.

My found poetry is still pretty awful, and I’m sure most of it makes no sense, but it’s so much fun that I don’t care. I’ve spent the last two nights after work happily defacing a 56 year old book with my Prismacolors, picking out little bits of poetry.

 

Valor

Valor - 4/23/11, from the Reader's Digest Condensed Books, winter 1955 selections

Valor
It was a dream—
Glittering, wheeling obediently—
a virtue called valor, worshiped
the supreme adventure.
It was a dream
and glittering visions faded
defeated by
corruption.

 

A Witness

Witness – 4/24/11, from the Reader’s Digest Condensed Books, winter 1955 selections

A Witness
What would you say
secrets and all?
I’ve lost it—
The final indignity
the shame.
We can lay the secrets on
direct examination
in the favorable light
of the sting.
We’ve got a witness to cover
all these and much more.

Have you ever experimented with found poetry? I’d love to hear some of your creations in the comments.

23
Apr

5 Things I’m Chirping About This Week

Hello again, friends! It’s that time of week here at Suburban Bird when I share the 5 things that I can’t get enough of this week. So here goes!

This onion that sprouted in our pantry. Every day it grows a little more, and I can’t help smiling when I look at it. I know, I’m a little weird. But you have to admit, the way that each layer of the onion grows up into a new leaf is pretty darn cool!

The way that sunsets make even dead things look beautiful. Enough said.

Finding unexpected things right under my nose. This little nest, not much bigger than both of my fists held together, is perched precariously where several branches of this bush intersect. It makes me wonder if it was just built this spring, or if it was used last summer and I never even noticed.

Budding lilac bushes. By far my favorite fragrance ever, these little leaves are the harbinger of an aromatic May.

This gorgeous red bush. What can I say? Red is my favorite color, and this bush is just beautiful this time of year.

Tell me about your 5 things for this week in the comments!

22
Apr

Grand Opening of Suburban Bird Studios on Etsy!

by Birdie in Etsy, Handmade

I don’t have a whole lot of time to write this, since I have to leave for work in five minutes, but I just wanted to let all of you know that I officially opened Suburban Bird Studios on Etsy today, and listed my first two journals for sale. Check them out:

And for all of my wonderful readers, for a limited time, you can get 10% off your purchase when you enter the coupon code SBREADER10 at checkout.

21
Apr

Name That Fish!

So, here’s something that you may or may not already know: I love fish. And frogs. And reptiles. Sadly, I’ve only ever been able to own the first two. (Someday, somehow, I will have a bearded dragon and a ball python!) Recently, most of my previous fish have died off after several long years of life, (Khulio, the lone black khuli loach is all that’s left in my six gallon) and I’m in the process of slowly restocking my tanks. I’m not sure yet what I want in my bigger tank, but my three gallon has always been home to a male betta, and I couldn’t resist looking at the selection of bettas at Petsmart when I went earlier to pick up a couple of things for my frog. (He’s so awesome, someday he’ll get a post of his own.) And there, I found this guy.

He’s absolutely gorgeous, and even after I compared him to every single other betta in the store, I knew I had to have him. (Too bad he’s not better at posing for photos, though.)

And here, I find myself in a bit of a dilemma: I can’t possibly think of a fitting name for this guy. He’s black and blue with a splash of red on his ventral fins, and he’s got a lot of spunk. While I was trying to get pictures of him, he kept flitting around trying to keep his eye on the camera. It make it very hard to get any decent shots of what he actually looks like from the side.

And so, dear friends, I turn to you. What should I name this gorgeous guy? He needs a name soon. I can’t just keep calling him The Nameless. So, what are your suggestions? (Bethie, I’m looking forward to your suggestions. XD) Leave them in the comments!

18
Apr

The North Bird

North Bird

It’s a perfect day, the thick, ashen clouds rolling over one another, all eager to bring the rain we need so desperately. Overhead, the geese in graceful arcs turn a south-easterly course while one, alone, turns itself to the north, defying the norm. A small part of me doesn’t understand, but then the Emily Dickinson in me takes over and I can see no reason that the rest of the flock shouldn’t turn to follow the North Bird.

Now the birds and world fall away from me and I am trapped in a rather fitting metaphor where I am the North Bird and society my flock, seeking shelter from the winter while I seek change and the chaos of the cold grey envelope of December.

In a strange way I have found home within the strangest feeling, the accurate metaphor of the North Bird, and the abandonment of safety and surety for a more chaotic self-exile. Beneath the gray wool clouds, wrapped in a shawl of clammy September air, I come to this conclusion, and I am satisfied.

And then the rain comes. I allow it to bathe my face and watch as it cajoles the leaves of the old maple to dance.

Monday September 26, 2005

It has been a very long time since I wrote this, and I have no recollection of exactly what was going on in my life at that specific point in time. I was a junior in high school when I wrote this, fresh from an eventful summer during which I had purchased my horse, watched a barn go up in my back yard, spent weeks building a fence, and suffered a head injury that wiped away a good chunk of my short-term memory. (Maybe that’s why I have no idea what prompted this piece.) But when I found this little entry in an old journal this past week, I found it rather fitting.

This is the first time in any of my sporadic journal entries that I make a comparison between myself and a bird, but it’s far from the last. Perhaps this was the first moment that I acknowledged that, despite not knowing where the next few years would take me, I had a strong feeling that I would have a hard time staying in any one place for long. Perhaps the moment I wrote this was the very moment that I understood that I was instinctively seeking something that society couldn’t give me, something that I had to find on my own in the coldest, loneliest, and most desolate times of my life.

Six years later, I’m still not entirely sure what it is that I’m seeking. Maybe it’s a career that will give my life meaning; maybe it’s a husband and a family; maybe it’s that one defining moment that will make everything worthwhile and finally allow me to make my mark on the world. All I know is that, as of this moment, maybe I’ve brushed up against it once or twice in my wandering, but I haven’t quite found it. Maybe I’ve wandered close to it and then away again, but all the while, deep down, I know I’ll never stop seeking it until I have, without a doubt, found it.

For now, I’m content to seek and follow my heart and God’s gentle urgings wherever they take me. It unnerves me, being somewhat of a control freak, to have no idea where I’m heading or what I’ll find there, but I know that no matter what it is, it will be worth all the effort it’s going to take to get there.

I’m still that North Bird, wheeling away from the flock and forging my own future. Suburban Bird is clearly a part of that future, though what role it will play is yet to be seen. I’m glad to have all of you along for the journey, and I hope that you’ll share your own adventures as we go along.

Keep on flying, friends, and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re going the wrong way.

16
Apr

5 Things I’m Chirping About This Week

I want to apologize again for a lack of 5 things post last week. Life got in the way, and I was ill-prepared and didn’t have enough time to write my posts for the week ahead of time. This week, I won’t let that happen again. So, without further ado, the 5 things I can’t get enough of this week:

These gorgeous yellow flowers. We have a line of bushes along the street that explode with these vibrant yellow flowers every year around this time. They are incredibly fragrant, and they brighten up even gloomy, cloudy days.

The first daffodil of the year. These always pop up before the daylillies in our front yard, and they’re one of the first heralds of spring.

The promise of many, many daylillies. We have two huge banks like this in our front yard, and I’m always excited every year when they pop up because I know that soon, there will be so many flowers in there among all that beautiful green.

Warm days spent out in the sun. I love it when the weather is warm, but still has that crisp, chilly edge to it. I savor every one of those days because I know that, sooner than I’d like, they’ll be overtaken by the hot humidity of a midwestern summer.

Life growing up out of something previously dead. Every year when the weather warms and the days start to grow longer, this plant pushes back up through the skeleton of what it was the summer before. And every year, I’m awed by the way nature revolves.

So, friends, what are your 5 things this week? I’d love to hear all about them in the comments. Thanks for reading!

15
Apr

A Golden Thread

I am, by nature, a bit of a perfectionist with my art and my writing. Over the last few years, this has slowly begun to spill over into my working life. No matter what job I’m doing, I strive to do it perfectly and efficiently, and it bothers me to no end if I fall short of that goal. This, of course, means a lot of frustration with myself when I make mistakes or find myself diverted from a task by someone or something. This also means that I’ve settled into a sort of comfort zone, work-wise, where I aim low and try to find contentment in a job that I know I can do well. I’ve stopped challenging myself.

In recent months, I’ve realized that I can no longer afford to stay someplace just because I’m comfortable. I love my job, and I believe that I do it well, but it’s a job that I’ve been doing in one place or another for eight years. There’s no challenge for me there, now that I’ve mastered all but one of our departments, and have begun to master that last one. I enjoy interacting with customers and having a chance to brighten their day, but I’m starting to feel that gnawing need in the pit of my stomach for a challenge.

Another personality quirk (flaw?) that I’ve started to see in myself is a need to know where I’m going. Even if it’s only for the next month, I have to know where I’m heading. I’m not so good at plotting out the long-term because plans have a way of changing and evolving, (and I’m not fooling myself by discounting how much of that changing and evolving is God’s nudging me in the right direction) but it scares me, not knowing what my destination is for the near future.

It is because of this that job searching outside of retail is so terrifying to me. It brings up so much uncertainty, about myself and about where I’m going, that no amount of discussion and self-placation can completely dispel. At this point in time, I haven’t the slightest clue where I’ll be in a month, let alone next week. I may still be right where I am now, or I may be starting a new job, or I may be doing any number of things. All I know is that I’m stepping out of my comfort zone in a way I never have before, and I’m not sure yet if I like it or not.

In all of this, I’ve really been relating to the song Golden Thread by Joy Williams. Not only is it a gorgeous, catchy song, but it describes, almost exactly, how I feel right now. My life feels like it’s out of my control, and all I want is to feel a little bit of peace about it. So, after a particularly long day at work, I came home and settled down at the coffee table, pulled out my art journal, (which I haven’t touched in years) and just let it all out. Despite my need to know where things are supposed to end up, I refused to let myself plan how things were going to turn out this time.

At first I grabbed my scissors and started cutting, as you can tell by the sheet of lyrics that are the foundation for this piece. And then I started thinking about everything I was trying to process and release, and I realized that the scissors were just one more way I strove for perfection, and so I abandoned them.

It’s far from perfect. It has its fair share of flaws. The page curls. The golden string I used stuck to my fingers when I was placing it down on the page and thus protested against the perfect, gentle curve I intended.

I tore some of the edges of the letters. I tore too much of the tissue paper away in places. Sometimes, I used too much Mod Podge, and it left gloopy bits on the page.

But you know what? I love it. I love every accidental tear, every gloop and glop, every imperfection. I love that I approached this with only the vague image of a golden thread in my mind, and yet, the result was even more beautiful to me than anything I could have meticulously planned.

So, tomorrow I’ll soldier on in my search for a new job, and every time I start to stress about the unknown road that lays ahead of me, out of sight behind some bend or the crest of some hill, I’ll flip open my art journal and use this little bit of improvisation to remind myself that sometimes it’s best to have no idea where the road ends.

After all, what’s life without a little bit of adventure? I think it’s high time for my adventure to begin.

Update: A friend of mine sent me this quote after reading this post, and I found it pertinent and had to share: “Nothing in our past lives is wasted. Nothing that once made us feel happy and fulfilled is ever lost. There’s a golden thread that runs through each of our lives. We just need to rediscover this thread before the joy of living completely unravels” — Sarah Ban Breathnach

10
Apr

An Apology

by Birdie in Life

I’m sorry for the lack of a 5 things post this week. I’ve had a lot going on, what with work and searching for a new job and trying to figure everything out with my finances. I will have a 5 things post soon, I promise, and some inspirations too. :)

2
Apr

5 Things This Bird is Chirping About This Week

Each Saturday, I plan to post a list of the five things that I can’t get enough of this week, be it music, art, writing, etc. I would love for you to share your five things in the comments section. :)

Joy Williams – Speaking a Dead Language

I just cannot get enough of this song! It’s just so haunting and beautiful. In fact, I can’t get enough of the two EPs of hers that I have, Songs from This, and Songs from That. (links will open an iTunes preview page.)

My $9 apron from Home Goods

I found this apron at Home Goods for $9, and it just happens to be one of my favorite patterns, and my favorite shade of pink! It was a birthday present from my mom. Thanks, mom!

Cute critters in sunbeams

It’s that time of year when it starts to finally get green outside, and that also means nice, warm rays of sun streaming in through the windows. There’s no shortage of cute critters at my house, and they all love to curl up and bask in the sunbeams.

This fortune

I got this in my fortune cookie on the day that I launched Suburban Bird. It just seemed so fitting. :)

Caribou cups

I have always loved Caribou’s cups. They’re so much fun, and this one just takes the cake. It’s covered in a bunch of their baristas’ favorite things.

So, friends, what are your five things this week? I’d love to hear about them in the comments. :) Happy weekend!