Nuance

Last night after everyone had gone to bed, I found a note on my kitchen counter. This note was not written to me, however. It was a note written from one of the children in my house to another.

My daughter had come into the kitchen before bed to make her lunch, but then she realized she didn’t need a lunch. She had an appointment today, and we had arranged to stop and pick up some food on the way back to school. But she had forgotten… until she pulled out two sandwich bags into which she was going to pack lunch items.

Rather than place the bags back into the box, she left them on the counter for her brother. With a note, apparently, instructing him how to proceed.

But after her brother had come down to make his own lunch, the bags, and the note, remained on the counter. “Pack your lunch with these. They are not poisoned in any way,” she had written.

Huh…. If something wasn’t poisoned, why would you have to say it wasn’t? Wouldn’t that be the expectation?

Instead, I had to think the very thought that poisoning had crossed her mind might make her brother wonder at her true intent. It certainly made me wonder.

Poison or no, I think he was smart to leave the bags on the counter. (The note has been confiscated should it be needed for “evidence” at a later date).

{Written in response to today’s one-word prompt}

Creative direction

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Creativity comes in many forms in my household. I have the creative writer who develops fictional worlds, populates them with characters of his making, places those characters in impossible situations, and then writes them out of (or deeper into) those situations.

I have the visual artist who recently used her artistic talents to explore mental illness through drawing and painting. She used both color and black and white images and some 3 dimensional work, as well. The resulting pieces will be added to the portfolio she will use as she applies to colleges in the fall.

And I have the science-minded engineering type who uses computers, 3D printers, electronic components, and the tools of engineering to create and develop the ideas that populate his brain on a daily basis.

None of these forms of creativity is any better or worse than the other. My children have discovered the tools and materials that intrigue and inspire them; they started from the same general place—creativity—but they have gone off in completely different directions. And I must say, it is fascinating to watch them develop their skills day by day.

For Christmas, I gave Himalayan salt lamps to two of my children. For my birthday, my son created a small lamp for me. Using the salt lamps as inspiration, he designed the “crystal” and created it and the base on his 3D printer, completed the wiring, and assembled the whole thing. I had no idea that he was doing this until I opened it.

Creativity… it’s an interesting concept that manifests differently in everyone. If we really look, we can recognize it as a trait every individual possesses. Personally, I like the way creativity shows up in my house.

 

Seeking Inspiration

I am trying to write. Something funny, something creative, something inspiring. but my mind is overworked, active day and night as it deals with life and loss and moving forward. I am looking for inspiration and something to sink my words into. And then there was this:

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Hardly an invitation to creativity.

This book appears to be as uninspiring as any book I have seen, despite the claim on its cover. I am wondering about the conversation in the design room the day this book was being completed. “Hey Boss, I need a cover for this textbook on creativity….”

“Yeah. It’s a textbook. Make it look like one.”

“But Boss, it’s a handbook. Of creativity. Shouldn’t it be fun? Creative, maybe?”

“Nah. It’s a textbook. Make it look like a textbook. Throw some color on it if you want.”

Hmm.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen some much more appealing textbooks. I’ve seen some downright fun textbooks. Most even have pictures or designs on the front cover. Just because a book is designed for learning doesn’t mean it has to be boring. In fact, a splash of color on the cover might make the reader more excited to read this book. I know that for me, the appeal of the cover definitely affects my interest in a book, but apparently, this is a centuries old debate, as indicated by the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” You know, the whole first impression thing….

But then I have to wonder why it is that we are so quick to judge based on what’s on the outside. There is much information held within the pages of this book. The fact that the cover is dry and stilted and downright uncreative is of little import to the material contained within the book. It just seems to me that a handbook on creativity should be… well… CREATIVE.

But I am trying to creative-ize my mind and clear the fog that has been hovering there. Perhaps the words of this book might inspire me. Or maybe they’ll serve to distract me just enough that creativity can slip back in.

Altered Messages

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I have a set of “grown up” alphabet letter blocks as part of my living room décor. With these blocks, I can create a wide variety of sayings and greetings—pretty much anything that can be said in 18 or fewer letters. I have had the letters for many years, though I don’t remember which mail order catalogue I found them in. After my initial set of letters, I asked for the images and numbers for Christmas (or my birthday) one year. Over the years, I have used the blocks for greetings, holiday sayings, birthday wishes, announcements, etc.

The sayings have a spot on the top of the shelf-unit where the television sits. The shelf is six feet high, so I create the sayings on the living room rug, and move the words to their perch one at a time. I move the bottom word first and work in ascending order, placing one word on top of the other until the message is complete. For many years, I could create a saying, place it on the shelf, and not even think about it again until I it was time to change it.

Lately, however, I have noticed that the sayings I write are often … well, altered in some subtle (or not so subtle) way. For example, my Christmas message: Joy, Peace & Love morphed over time. After only a couple of days of sitting on the shelf, it suddenly read: Joy, Geese & Love. Hmm… because everyone hopes for geese at this time of year…?

Now that everyone is tall enough to reach the block sayings, it’s anyone’s guess as to how the message will change from what I write, but there is no doubt that it will be altered in one way or another. I can only sit back, relax, and anticipate the changes. Certainly, the message I put on the shelf makes sense. At least for the first day or two….

The Cactus

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Tonight at dinner, my daughter went running up to her room and came back to the table with something in her hand. “Here,” she said, thrusting it into my hand. “Do you like my cactus?”

Over the past year or so, she has developed a love of succulents. I’m not exactly sure when this happened or why, but slowly, the plants began to disappear from the windowsill in the kitchen and reappear on the windowsill in her room. I noticed that some smaller pots were materializing, and shoots had been taken from the plants of mine that hadn’t yet made the trek up the stairs. [I am really hoping she doesn’t decide she needs some of my Christmas cactus in the next few days because it has just started to poke out some teeny tiny bud-lings….]

I examined the ceramic cactus in my hand. It was “growing” in a pot that almost looked like a wicker basket. The plant had understated spikes that gave the green ball a distinct cactus look. And the cactus bloomed with two dusty pink flowers.

“It’s beautiful!” I told her when I had finished my inspection.

“I made it,” she told me.

“No you didn’t,” I responded, only partially convinced by her words.

“Yes I did. It came out of the kiln yesterday.” And then she turned it upside down, so I could see the bottom. “My initials,” she pointed out.

Indeed, the bottom indicated that the piece was handmade. And it was beautiful! She just started taking a pottery class at school, this year. I can’t wait to see what else she brings home!

Leaves

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Friday was a windy day. As we say in New England, it was wicked windy! All afternoon, I watched from the window of my basement office as the leaves swirled in the sky above me. Then again, being in the basement, pretty much everything was above me.

But with all the wind and the drop in temperature, things had taken an interesting turn back at home. The leaves in the area had been cleaned up just about a week ago, but they always do the “fall clean up” just a little too early. As happens every year, when the wind starts blowing, all the leaves that remain on the ground, on the trees, and pretty much in the entire neighborhood, collect right in front of my house. Every year. It has something to do with the way the townhouses are staggered and the fact that mine is set back from the ones on either side, I suppose. The alcove by my front door is the perfect repository for the residual leaves.

By the time I got home–with the recent time change–it was dark out. And seeing as I am a creative person, I have an over active imagination in the daylight. So when I arrived home (in the dark) and approached my front door, I was well aware that the leaves that were mounded in front of my steps were the perfect size and shape to be hiding a body. Or a live person who might jump out at me. Granted, said person would have to be lying flat, and would have to stay very still, but it was possible. Anything is possible.

I pushed the thought out of my mind and walked quickly to the front door, carefully stepping over the leaves rather than in them, as I do in the daylight.

The next morning, I told this story to my daughter. “I thought the same thing!” she exclaimed. We creative minds think alike. Then again, in this neighborhood (and with my neighbors), there is no telling what might be hiding under a pile of leaves in the dark.

On a positive note, because the wind brought all of the remaining leaves in the neighborhood to my front door, my back deck is now leaf-free!

Brain transplant

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Sometimes (actually, often), we have some unusual conversations in our family. The other day, I got in the car with W, and as I settled in to drive, I felt a twinge in my knee. “Ooo, my knee hurts,” I commented, mostly to myself.

“Is that from when you fell?” he asked, and I nodded. Back in January, I was pumping gas, and I attempted to step over the loop of hose between my car and the gas pump. Bad idea. The hose tripped me up, and I fell, my left knee taking the brunt of the landing. Let’s just say after the embarrassment, the tears, and the initial pain, I had recovered, but my knee… it was slow to heal.

“You should probably get that checked before you have to get it replaced,” he said in his fifteen-year-old matter-of-fact way. “I know someone who had one replaced.”

“I know someone who had two replaced,” I bested.

“You know those cars that have so many parts replaced they are practically brand new?” he asked, taking the conversation in a related-unrelated direction.

“Yeah. Can you do that with a human? Replace so many parts and organs they become a ‘new’ person?” I chuckled at the thought.

“That would be weird.” He looked out the window, and that was probably my cue to stop the conversation. But I didn’t.

“What about a brain transplant?” I ventured. “That might make someone a new person.”

“They can’t do that.” He went for the logical, but I wasn’t having it.

“But what if they could?” I pressed. “You would be a new person. You might not even remember who you were; you wouldn’t recognize your family or your friends….” I tried to think about the multitude of dilemmas presented by this type of major operating system transplant.

“You’d have someone else’s memories and thoughts,” W started to engage, but then stopped. “But they don’t do that.”

“Maybe it wouldn’t really be a brain transplant.” My mind was working overtime as I tried to wrap my head around this concept. “Maybe you’d wake up and say, ‘Oh look! I got a new body!’ For the person whose brain it was, it would be a body transplant.”

Oh my! I believe I’m thankful they haven’t figured out how to do this type of surgery. At least they haven’t figured it out yet….