Thursday, March 22, 2018

Peeps 2018

Last night we attended the opening of the annual Peeps Art Show at the Racine Art Museum.

It landed on a night when we had everything scheduled at the same time (2 violin lessons, Latin, orchestra rehearsal, parent meeting for the model UN trip--that was a lot to reschedule or get to late), so we only had time to run through the exhibit and then hit the road again.  (Ask how much we have on the calendar for today or tomorrow--nothing of course.  Because the scheduling gods hate us.)

We left before they announced the awards, but I did read online this morning that Quinn's piece received the Racine Mayor's Award for the under 13 category!  He created "Peepsconsin"--a county map of Wisconsin made of Peeps (that he did freehand, I might add).

I'm more than a little surprised that Aden's "Jurassic Peep" didn't get at least an honorable mention since it was quite the show stopper and was even featured at the entrance to the exhibit.  (Maybe it will still get the coveted Peeple's Choice Award by show's end.)

Dog being helpful
My entry this year was a Peeps Violin.  The Peeps Orchestra I made last year was quite popular in our violin store window after the museum show was over, so I thought it would be fun to make something else that would look good there again.  I had an old destroyed violin that we'd covered in paint and beads about ten years ago that I decided to scrape off and decorate with Peeps.

I played with flattening Peeps with a rolling pin, but that didn't go as well as I hoped, and hot glue can do funny things to marshmallows.  For most of the instrument I wound up just cutting off the backs of the Peeps and attaching them with their own natural stickiness.  The f-holes are felt, and the strings are yarn.  (You're not supposed to use any food other than Peeps according to the rules, otherwise some kind of licorice strands would have been tempting.)

I take an odd sort of pride in the fact that even though the whole thing is ridiculous (and no, you can't play it except as maybe a maraca since there are some clackity objects caught inside), the setup in terms of string spacing and bridge placement is better than on a lot of terrible student violins that walk into my store that need my help.

Peeps are not an easy medium to work in.  We've found if you need to cut them up to do anything with, it's best to let them get really stale first.  Fresh Peeps are incredibly squishy.  Even stale Peeps gum up a lot of scissors, but fresh ones are really unwieldy.  We experimented briefly with melting Peeps, which has potential for future projects.  They're just sugar, so they caramelize when heated up enough, and we played with pulling them into long strands.

Also, we discovered the hard way that there is a lot of variation in terms of the color of Peeps depending on where and when you buy them.  So even though we stock up on a lot of Peeps when we're all thinking out our projects, we know now that if you run out of a particular color you can't count on purple Peeps from Target matching the purple Peeps from the grocery store.

This year with Easter being so early we were kind of rushed and only had a few days to put anything together.  Aden's was literally still drying as we drove to drop it off at the museum twenty minutes before the final deadline.  Mona was wrapped up in a different project and didn't get to a Peeps piece this year at all.  But we plan to think ahead in 2019!  The Peeps show is just too much fun not to want to be a part of it.

Go check out the exhibit if you happen to be in the Racine area!  It runs through April 8th.  (Or swing by the violin store after that.  We'll have at least our things in the window for a while.)  Happy Peeps Break!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Cube Club

I have a cube collection--Meaning a collection of puzzles centered around Rubik's cubes.

I remember very clearly when Rubik's cubes arrived in the United States in the early 80s.  I wanted one.  It spoke to me in a way few things did.  I liked that it was colorful and compact and could fit nicely in your hands.  I liked that it was something that would take time to figure out.

I also come from a family of collectors, so in my home growing up it was accepted and even encouraged that if you liked something for you to collect and save anything related to it.  So I didn't just have a cube and a solution book, I had all the cubes and all the solution books I could find.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentine's Box

My mom is amazing.  She's an amazing artist, person, and grandmother, too, not just amazing as a mom.  I'm one of only three people in the world, however, who get to judge her directly on the mom-front, and the vote is unanimous that she is the best.

I've been struggling with how well I measure up in that role lately.  I know I am good enough most days, and there are moments I'm satisfied that I've done something I can be proud of, but I've never felt more inadequate to the task than in recent years.  I appreciate most of the freedom I have now that my kids are more independent compared to the baby and toddler years, but I miss the relative simplicity of their worlds being so small.  Often the first time I see them on an average day is when I get home from work.  They are beyond my reach.  It's a helpless feeling.  I worry I should be doing more for them but it's hard to know what.

When I look back on my own childhood and think about how much my mom managed to do, I can't figure out how she did it.  She would sew us real clothes, not just Halloween costumes.  She kept the house much cleaner than I'm able to keep my own and certainly changed the sheets more often.  She tended the garden, did all the bookkeeping, did all the labor at the art gallery full time, and somehow also maintained her career as a successful artist.

And then there was the food.  My mom prepared us excellent homemade meals every day.  I don't remember us ever getting food delivery or take out when we were growing up.  Once my brothers and I were intrigued by the look of something called "pizza" on a Little Caesar's commercial, and we asked if we could try some, so the next night my mom served up homemade pizza in the same broad pan she made lasagna in.  It didn't look the same as in the commercials (shapes are strangely important to kids, and the ones in the adds were circles cut into triangles and this was a rectangle cut into squares, so that was distracting) but it was good.  I don't remember her making it again, though.  In our house (usually on a Wednesday when I leave work early to take Quinn across town to Latin after school then have to pick up Aden right afterward so the two of them can do violin lessons until 7:00) there is often actual Little Caesar's pizza on the table so that people coming and going can grab something to eat before getting shuttled to the next place.  It's fine, I don't really beat myself up about it, but I know my mom would have managed it differently somehow and I am awestruck.

Saturday, January 27, 2018


Two of the things I most want to define myself by (aside from my relationships and my attempts at being a decent person) are my instrument making and my writing.  Yet somehow, more often than not, the treadmill of chores takes priority, as do the needs of others around me like my kids and my customers and even our silly dog.  There are rehearsals to attend and meals to make and little things like filling the gas tank and collecting dishes from around the house that nibble away at my available time.  Whole days, then weeks, then months, and even years slip by where I'm not doing the things I most want to do.  Stepping back, that looks ridiculous.

I know how to fix this, I just have to do it.

When I talk to younger women in instrument making the main questions they have for me are about how to keep doing it after having children.  (I remain fascinated by the fact that this is never an automatic question about men.  No one assumes once a man has children  he won't be able to continue doing his work.  The expectations of women are different, both about us and by us.)  And I tell them that the answer is simple, just not easy to do:

You must carve out time that is yours and be ruthless and unapologetic about protecting it.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Word of the Day

I love weird coincidences.  I don't read anything into them, I just enjoy how they can make otherwise ordinary moments seem far more intriguing.

Our weird coincidence in the first weeks of this new year involves a word from my childhood:  Floccinaucinihilipilification.