Centering and writing

Duck Dodgers

Mike and I used to watch Duck Dodgers together because geeks. It was a slightly more grown up cartoon, one whose slapstick humor had carefully interwoven adult references and wordplay. In one episode, The Eager Young Space Cadet, (essentially Porky Pig) was flipping out about something. Dodgers replied, Find your center, honey-baked. Both Mike and I thought it was hysterical, and have since used the line on one another when we’re completely stressing out about something.

It has been nice, today, to be able to have a calm, centering day. Saturday, we had people over to watch our beloved Hokies lose yet another came. Sunday, Mike and I went to see Ender’s Game. Rachael was out of school on Monday and Tuesday for parent teacher conferences and the election. Seriously, watching election returns come in is really stressful when you feel like the fate of the privacy of your uterus and vagina is hanging on who will be your next governor. (And I still can’t totally relax because the attorney general race is still too close to call.)

But today. Today has been one of those quiet days where it’s warm enough to open the windows and let the breezy November air fill your house. I took Zoë for a walk so she and I could get some exercise. As we walked, I noticed something. I was absorbing everything: the colors; the sounds; the smells; how everything felt. I was mentally taking notes as I took the time to simply be in the moment. Maple trees were so red that they looked as though their color had been saturated in a photo editor. The wind created music through wind chimes and scattering dried leaves. The leaves covered the ground and beckoned Zoë to search among them for the beautiful ones, which she collected like jewels. Fallen, open pine cones mocked me for not having been patient enough to wait to collect them.


I have found, regardless of whether my writing is on par with classic literature or pure garbage, that writing has been very cathartic for me. (Classic literature probably used “fuck” much more artfully than I.) But I realized today that the writing process isn’t just sitting down to the computer and typing something out. It starts when I observe my world. Think about it. Savor it. Connect with it. Think about how I can share it with others so they may connect with it as well. When I think about those words and images, I become very calm and centered. It’s a feeling I can carry with me for awhile, like being enveloped in a warm blanket. But eventually the warmth cools, and I start to look for what is next.

Creepy creepy crawly crawly


I finished Boris 2.0 yesterday. I had painted him and then set him aside since I was consumed with other things: Girl Scouts; the costume dance; laziness. But I had to finish him yesterday, not just because it was Halloween, but because Jill and Kevin were coming with their girls to trick or treat with us. We spent time carving pumpkins, eating food, donning glow stick bracelets as we tromped around the neighborhood on a mild, rainy night, and stayed up way too late talking and making up for lost time.


Trick or treating was a set of wonderful memories that will last forever. Rachael and Ella, our goddaughter, held hands as they walked from house to house as different versions of Rapunzel. Ella made sure to inform homeowners, in her adorable, proper British accent, that she was a fairy princess Rapunzel. Zoë knew exactly what to do and trotted up to each house without prompting. We only had to retrieve her once after she decided to invite herself into Rachael’s friend’s house. Lucie, almost 13 and only mildly angsty, ambled along with the little ones in her zombie attire. I was proud of my girls as they bravely approached the “murder house”. Zoë didn’t seem to notice the dismembered body on the bloody slab in their driveway. Rachael was really nervous, but I gently coaxed her along, reminding her that none of this was real. My small, sometimes shy girl clearly and audibly said trick or treat to the ghostly princess and masked murderer who held her sugary prize for braving the darker side of Halloween. Later, Mike told her that she didn’t have to walk up to any house she didn’t want to. She replied, But I really wanted the candy. Overcoming fear for candy. She has priorities! Next door to the murder house, spooky organ music played from a stereo system through their second floor speakers. Lit tiki torches illuminated, (auto correct tried to make that “ill unitards”. I should have left it alone) skeletons hanging from trees. Rachael was frightened again by the homeowner answering the door as a Crypt Keeper. But can I just say, that was my favorite house of the night. The CD for the music kept skipping, stealing all of its spooky thunder. It was the musical equivalent of The Albino coughing in the middle of scaring the crap out of Westley.

How to make Boris 2.0

Boris wasn’t difficult to make, but he was pretty time consuming. This isn’t really a project you can knock out at the last minute. You’ll need:

Two balloons
White all purpose glue
Brush of choice (I used a foam wedge brush)
Newspaper cut into approximately 1, 2, and 3 inch rectangle strips
Black paint
Googly eyes
Large chenille pipe cleaners

Determine what sort of spider you want to make. That will determine the size to which you will blow up your balloons. I used this little guy, who was hanging out on our neighbor’s deck, as inspiration.

Tie your balloons together.

Pour glue into a disposable cup and add some water to dilute it. The ratio is about 4 parts glue, 1 part water. You’ll want something around the consistency of whole milk or heavy whipping cream. Paint the glue onto newspaper and where you will place the paper on the balloon. Putting it on the balloon as well will help the paper adhere to the balloon a bit better. Use the larger strips for the larger areas and the smaller strips for the smaller areas. If your strips are too large, they will pucker when placed on the balloon. As you place the next piece of paper on the balloon, make sure you paint some glue on the piece of paper already on the balloon and slightly overlap the pieces of paper. Continue until everything is covered.

You’ll want to repeat this process for at least two more layers, letting each layer dry before applying a new layer. Try to place the paper on the next layer in a different direction than the previous layer to ensure maximum coverage and avoid seams. I found it’s pretty easy to get lost as to where you’ve been when placing new layers. To avoid this, use a dark marker to divide the balloons into quadrents, clearly marking the intersection. Once you’ve finished all the layers, paint your spider however you choose. I just used washable black tempera paint. Allow paint to dry. Depending on the paint you use, you may need to paint a few coats to hide the newsprint.

Now you’re ready to make your spider as silly, scary, or anatomically incorrect as you’d like. Use scissors to punch a small hole in the spider’s abdomen. The balloon will pop and your head will pop off.

Do not freak out. Trim some of the popped balloon off. Pull out your hot glue gun and smother the tied off portion of the head in glue and insert it back inside the hole where the abdomen and head separated. Hold the head in place until the glue cools and the head is secure, just a couple of minutes. Place chenille pipe cleaner inside the hole you’ve created and repeat 7 times.
Boris wants to give you a hug!

I also placed shorter pipe cleaners in the head for his chelicerae. Glue on googly eyes in whichever pattern makes you happy. Check out close up pictures of spiders before gluing on the eyes. It will scare the shit out of you and make you check behind your toilet before sitting, but you’ll have a great idea for placing the eyes.

I chose to use cheesecloth. I know it was realistic for spider web because in the few seconds I spent going inside for tape, a small spider had taken up residence in the cheesecloth I had already hung from the plant hanger. I used hot glue to attach the cheese cloth to his abdomen, and then tied the cheesecloth to the plant hanger.