When Nice Things Hem You In—and Obscure What’s Sneaking Up on You

Foreword note: Before I share the following, let me make it clear: I love trees, and woods, and the shady, wind-shielding privacy they offer—up to a point! I hadn’t realized how far beyond that point we’d gotten…

 

Above photos taken four years ago. I evidently took no pictures of these trees since then, since they became just a wall of green.

From my journal, November 30, 2017:

Startled by the date, suddenly surprised that it’s the last day of November! [This is especially odd, considering how often I’ve been peering at the calendar!]

It’s been an interesting month…

Yesterday was an interesting day…

I’d planned to run errands early, and avoid the chain saw noise that would accompany tree removal by the driveway. But my head still ached, my sinuses were still so stuffed I felt oxygen deprived, and my throat kept stinging all the way up through my right ear. So I decided to stay home and rest.

As it turned out, the preliminary sawing wasn’t very loud (smaller chain saw), and even the big stuff later I was able to muffle and distract my mind from, with ear buds plugged into computer.

And what a blessed difference once that middle tree fell!

When I peeked out the bedroom window to observe the progress, the opened view hit me like a refreshing breeze or cool drink on a hot, thirsty day [though this day was neither]—or [more appropriately], a flung-open prison door!

That wall of evergreen had grown so big and tall and solid and dark, it had been making me feel closed in, limited, confined. Now, as in the past, I go to that window happily, able to gaze out over meadow and sky, to see the clouds in pale shades of color stretched across the horizon. [We can now also see the animals that run up and down the slope beyond the line of evergreens or sneak into hiding places to eat things we don’t want them to.] Now, with all the wood cut into logs and all the debris hauled away, it’s a very happy thing.

When I went outside later, for a sudden errand after all (that I’ll tell about later), I saw that we even got a Charlie Brown Christmas tree out of the timbering operation—with lots of cute little pine cones festooning it already!

It’s so quirky and scraggly, but fresh and piney-smelling, I’ve actually been thinking of hauling it into the house and setting it up, at some point during December, at least. But I’m not sure. I haven’t had a Christmas tree up inside for several years now, and that little treetop, scrawny as it is, just might do what the whole tree it came from was doing before it came down: crowding life and obscuring the fuller, better view.

Though Advent has sneaked up on me again, I’ve been pondering it, lots. What a great focus its forward look might be for this December! Could it help prevent the month’s becoming just a haphazard pile of busy distraction that obscures Christ more than reveals Him? Its expectant seeking might open up the view to a far more meaningful Christmas than the more familiar traditional preparations (trees and bells and jelly-belly elves)—if we keep our beloved December doings trimmed to appropriate size…

Well, God, with his remarkable sense of humor, evidently has been helping with this:

Just a few days before Thanksgiving, our double wall oven died! (And yes, we were hosting the Dinner.) Finding new ovens to fit our available space proved difficult. When, this week, we finally found the brand and model we thought would work best, another surprise: Online searching revealed that this day, November 30th, was the final 39%-off sale day for this exact model!

We scooted right out and ordered the set, but the earliest delivery date offered was December 19th! This is long past my usual cookie baking time, people!

But maybe that’s the point, hmm?

***

Questions to ask myself (and you may ask yourself, if you like):

-What typically grows so big in my life at this time of year, that it crowds and blocks out Christ?

-Can I trim these things to reasonable size, or would they be better cut out  and hauled away?

-Regarding each family tradition or ritual, which of them don’t really have much to do with Christ’s first or second advent?

A post I hope to publish soon (called “Gotham’s Dirty Little Christmas Secret”) might help sort these things out (if I can just alleviate this pesty cold enough to think straight…)

*****

Mini Collage #31: “Round Up”

Overheard conversation:

Young daughter to father, while pushing her small hand against his belly: “You need to get some exercise. You’re out of shape!”

Mini Collage #31, “Round Up” cSylvia Robertson, 2017

Father to daughter: “I’m not out of shape. Round is a shape!”

What kind of shape are you “in”— or “into” right now?

Round seems to be the shape I often fixated on during my “31 Days”—er, I mean 29.

(Admittedly, I have no Day #29 or 30. But I excuse myself—like the above dad—by pleading a late start. As for the 31 collages promised: Delivered, as pre-announced! You can go back and count…)

Anyhow, I realize in retrospect that rounded forms caught my attention and dominated the design in six more of those 31 collages. These:

Mini Collage # “Cut and Flip, Round” cSylvia Robertson, 2017
Mini Collage #15, “A Beautiful Ride” cSylvia Robertson, 2017
Mini Collage #11, “Round on the Ground” cSylvia Robertson, 2017
Mini Collage #5, “Be Like the Bird…” cSylvia Robertson, 2017
Mini Collage #9, “Fleur de Free” cSylvia Robertson, 2017
Mini Collage #4, “We Sail Through Time” cSylvia Robertson, 2017

In addition, circles or rounded forms play an important part in all of these (ten more):

Mini Collage #23, “Only Words”        cSylvia Robertson, 2017
Mini Collage #7, “Rocking Chair Care” cSylvia Robertson, 2017
Mini Collage #14, “Inward Exploration” cSylvia Robertson, 2017
Mini Collage #2, “On Being Transparent” cSylvia Robertson, 2017
Mini Collage #19, “On Being Transparent, 2 cSylvia Robertson, 2017
Mini Collage #3, “Birds and Dragon Flies” cSylvia Robertson, 2017
Mini Collage #8 “Which Way is Out?” cSylvia Robertson, 2017
Mini Collage # 12, “Books and Bottles” cSylvia Robertson, 2017
Mini Collage #1 “Swishy Skirt Fishies” cSylvia Robertson, 2017
Mini Collage #1o, “Let’s Not Play Crazy Games” cSylvia Robertson, 2017

We could even stretch it and say the hearts are very rounded in this one…

Mini Collage #25, “Lovelights and Blues” cSylvia Robertson, 2017

and the distant umbrellas in this one, though technically octagons, look very like circles…

Mini Collage #16, “Got it Made in the Shade” cSylvia Robertson, 2017

And oh, yes, the flowers dominating this foreground are round, aren’t they?

Mini Collage #22, “Birds in Lush Growth” cSylvia Robertson, 2017

That would make 20 out of 31. Almost 2/3! No other particular shape predominates so much.

Is this important? Maybe. I need to ponder it more myself as I review all of these.

The thing is, collage—like any expressive art form—can show us things about our inner thoughts, feelings, and desires that we might not have noticed. Sometimes contemplating it helps uncover obscured issues we need to work with—therapeutically, or as a means of setting and assessing goals that match our inner climate.

At the silent retreat I attended last January, in an optional “creative journaling” session, we attendees were asked to draw a shape: without overthinking, just draw whatever our hand happened to put down on the page before us.

We were then invited to consider why we chose it, and what thoughts and feelings it seemed to conjure as we gazed at it. Then anyone who wanted to share their reflections could do so.

Someone displayed a triangle, sharing thoughts it brought to her mind, someone else an elongated rectangle. Me? I felt like the odd man out. It seemed all the others had chosen a simple geometrical form. I had drawn, and kept retracing, a free-form label-less rounded shape. I felt somehow embarrassed, like the kid who thinks she “didn’t do it right” because her product seems so different.

When considering what might have prompted me to choose it, I felt reticent, shy, embarrassed. After returning to my room, I thought, oh, this is silly, rumpled the paper and tossed it into the wastebasket. But after thinking about it more later, I ended up retrieving it and flattening it out on the tabletop, smoothing with my hands. Emerging from my mind were reminders of a deep disappointment in my life. Soon I was realizing here was something well worth bringing before God during my retreat.

I know I’m not revealing my innermost thoughts here, but that would take some time, be deeply personal, and involve other people who wouldn’t appreciate being the subject of a public forum blog post. Also, as they say, “it’s complicated,” and I still need to give it, and all these rounded patterns, some further pondering.

So, this 31st mini collage rounds up this series. I not only “feel” finished, but I’ve already started working on a new challenge for November: to write a 50,000 word “novel” before December.

I may even illustrate it with collage—or with that shape from January’s retreat—because what I’ve begun writing is bound to touch on the subject revealed in my heart.

***

What about you? Want to try it? Just take any old piece of paper, and any old drawing implement, and draw the first shape your hand finds itself making. And ponder: Why did I do that? What was I thinking, and feeling, down deep inside? Should I take this before God? Better yet, start by asking God to reveal anything important before you draw.

*****

Previous posts in this series:

Day 1 Mini Collage and 31-Days Introduction

Day 2 Collage: Nothing-But-Junk Fish

Day 3 Collage: What Grabs Your Heart?

Day 4 Collage: Why I Chose to do this 31 Days–Really

Day 5 Collages: On Being Transparent

Day 6 Collage: Salute to Birds and Dragonflies

Day 7 Collage: Got it Made in the Shade

Collage Day 8: Three Good Children’s Books to Inform Our Lives

Day 9 Collage: Smiles, Smiles (What Makes You Smile?)

Day 10 Collage: Which Way is Out?

Day 11 Collage: Rugged Rocks or Rugs?

Day 12 (non-junk-mail)  Collage: “Be Like the Bird…”

Lovelights and Blues (Day 13 Collage)

Day 14 Collage: “Fleur de Free” (Extended Cut Shape Technique)

Day 15 Collage: The Beauty of Serenity

Day 16: Two Collages, Just for the Enjoyment

Day 17 Collage Talk: “Only Words”

Day 18 Collage: Broken Hearts Can Soar

Day 19 Collage: Collage as Therapy? (Plus Cut-and-Fold-Back Technique)

Day 20 Collage: A Beautiful Ride

Day 21 Collage: Birds in Lush Growth

Day 22 Collage: Hope

Day 23 Collage: Start Something New Before Finishing the Now

Collage Day 24: Eight Women and an Unseen Guest

Collage Day 25: Sailing Through 31 Days (Or Any Other Commitment)

Collage Day 26: What Do You Do With a Mistake?

Day 27 Collage: Crazy Games

Day 28 Collage: Abstract

Day 28 Collage: Abstract

Today, again, just an image. A few more thoughts and questions should follow at the beginning of next week—at the end of the 31 Days.

I call it just “Abstract.” If you have been following “31 Days” here, you may notice in it elements or other “echoes” from various mini college themes or components past. I find something a little Dali-esque about it. Gaze at it for a little while and you may find yourself in a mental landscape that stretches deep and far, and that may inspire calm, and rest. If that is so for you, good. May it be a help to rest your mind this weekend, and rest your body, soul, and spirit in the Peace of God.

*****

Previous posts in this series:

Day 1: 31 Days Introduction

Day 2 Collage: Nothing-But-Junk Fish

Day 3 Collage: What Grabs Your Heart?

Day 4 Collage: Why I Chose to do this 31 Days–Really

Day 5 Collages: On Being Transparent

Day 6 Collage: Salute to Birds and Dragonflies

Day 7 Collage: Got it Made in the Shade

Collage Day 8: Three Good Children’s Books to Inform Our Lives

Day 9 Collage: Smiles, Smiles (What Makes You Smile?)

Day 10 Collage: Which Way is Out?

Day 11 Collage: Rugged Rocks or Rugs?

Day 12 (non-junk-mail)  Collage: “Be Like the Bird…”

Lovelights and Blues (Day 13 Collage)

Day 14 Collage: “Fleur de Free” (Extended Cut Shape Technique)

Day 15 Collage: The Beauty of Serenity

Day 16: Two Collages, Just for the Enjoyment

Day 17 Collage Talk: “Only Words”

Day 18 Collage: Broken Hearts Can Soar

Day 19 Collage: Collage as Therapy? (Plus Cut-and-Fold-Back Technique)

Day 20 Collage: A Beautiful Ride

Day 21 Collage: Birds in Lush Growth

Day 22 Collage: Hope

Day 23 Collage: Start Something New Before Finishing the Now

Collage Day 24: Eight Women and an Unseen Guest

Collage Day 25: Sailing Through 31 Days (Or Any Other Commitment)

Collage Day 26: What Do You Do With a Mistake?

Day 27 Collage: Crazy Games

Day 27 Collage: Crazy Games

Just this collage today, with questions and commentary possibly to follow later:

      Mini Collage #10    Let’s Not Play Crazy Games!           cSylvia Roberston, 2017

 

*****

Previous posts in this series:

Day 1 Mini Collage and 31-Days Introduction

Day 2 Collage: Nothing-But-Junk Fish

Day 3 Collage: What Grabs Your Heart?

Day 4 Collage: Why I Chose to do this 31 Days–Really

Day 5 Collages: On Being Transparent

Day 6 Collage: Salute to Birds and Dragonflies

Day 7 Collage: Got it Made in the Shade

Collage Day 8: Three Good Children’s Books to Inform Our Lives

Day 9 Collage: Smiles, Smiles (What Makes You Smile?)

Day 10 Collage: Which Way is Out?

Day 11 Collage: Rugged Rocks or Rugs?

Day 12 (non-junk-mail)  Collage: “Be Like the Bird…”

Lovelights and Blues (Day 13 Collage)

Day 14 Collage: “Fleur de Free” (Extended Cut Shape Technique)

Day 15 Collage: The Beauty of Serenity

Day 16: Two Collages, Just for the Enjoyment

Day 17 Collage Talk: “Only Words”

Day 18 Collage: Broken Hearts Can Soar

Day 19 Collage: Collage as Therapy? (Plus Cut-and-Fold-Back Technique)

Day 20 Collage: A Beautiful Ride

Day 21 Collage: Birds in Lush Growth

Day 22 Collage: Hope

Day 23 Collage: Start Something New Before Finishing the Now

Collage Day 24: Eight Women and an Unseen Guest

Collage Day 25: Sailing Through 31 Days (Or Any Other Commitment)

Collage Day 26: What Do You Do With a Mistake?

 

 

Collage Day #26: What Do You Do with a Mistake?

What do you do when you make a mistake? What if your whole final result looks like a mistake?

You could just get rid of it, throw it out of your sight and your life.

But you might be missing an opportunity. To experiment. To learn. To create something better out of something flawed and disappointing.

I didn’t like this collage I made. At. All.

Everything in it just seemed to compete. There was no focal point, no effective contrast or flowing pattern. It just looked bleh to me.

I wanted to throw it out.

But I decided to fool around with it, take it apart, find other ways to use the parts–maybe in a different way with different elements.

The glue wasn’t stuck so badly that I couldn’t remove the red, clashing segments. With that clashing gone, I was able to mess around with what was left, and create a better composition. And harmony.

Notice how your eye follows the lines up to the daffodils in the “near” corner. Better composition. I felt a lot better with that. And now the pallet consists of greens and yellows and beiges, and neutral black (and a little white) give the contrast. Much more serene.

Now what about the red pattern? I thought it would look much better on a background echoing some of the blues veined through it.

I found some in my junk mail stash. I especially liked the misty quality one page had when coupled with the red. But I didn’t have enough red to make a complete collage.

I was sure I had more of it somewhere. I remembered it was from a full-page ad for Turning Leaf wine, and was sure I’d kept what I hadn’t used.

Sure enough, there it was, in one of my file folders.

I kind of got carried away cutting out whimsical trees. But I like what I ended up with.

And that’s the important thing with collage. And with a lot of other things in life.

What do you do with your mistakes? Do you ever use them to produce something better?

*****

Previous posts in this series:

Day 1 Mini Collage and 31-Days Introduction

Day 2 Collage: Nothing-But-Junk Fish

Day 3 Collage: What Grabs Your Heart?

Day 4 Collage: Why I Chose to do this 31 Days–Really

Day 5 Collages: On Being Transparent

Day 6 Collage: Salute to Birds and Dragonflies

Day 7 Collage: Got it Made in the Shade

Collage Day 8: Three Good Children’s Books to Inform Our Lives

Day 9 Collage: Smiles, Smiles (What Makes You Smile?)

Day 10 Collage: Which Way is Out?

Day 11 Collage: Rugged Rocks or Rugs?

Day 12 (non-junk-mail)  Collage: “Be Like the Bird…”

Lovelights and Blues (Day 13 Collage)

Day 14 Collage: “Fleur de Free” (Extended Cut Shape Technique)

Day 15 Collage: The Beauty of Serenity

Day 16: Two Collages, Just for the Enjoyment

Day 17 Collage Talk: “Only Words”

Day 18 Collage: Broken Hearts Can Soar

Day 19 Collage: Collage as Therapy? (Plus Cut-and-Fold-Back Technique)

Day 20 Collage: A Beautiful Ride

Day 21 Collage: Birds in Lush Growth

Day 22 Collage: Hope

Day 23 Collage: Start Something New Before Finishing the Now

Collage Day 24: Eight Women and an Unseen Guest

Collage Day 25: Sailing Through 31 Days (Or Any Other Commitment)