What on earth are you going to say about it?

The title of this post is a direct quote. It is what Joanna said when she realized that I had uploaded this portrait to my WordPress media library. The trio is a set of Uneeda PeeWee Dolls that Joanna’s mother had unearthed from her attic. Having been returned to their owner, they arrived at the farm at a time of year when warm clothing was essential, and they had none. Joanna went to work, for it was her intention to make a gift of the dolls to a young friend of hers. She knitted (hat, headband, sweaters, and one undergarment), crocheted (hair scrunchie, collars, shoes, and one undergarment), and sewed (pants) for a week, off-and-on and around-the-edges. She asked periodically, while working on the project, Am I crazy to be doing this? Isn’t it funny that I asked the very same question of her yesterday afternoon, up to my waist in ice water, as I grabbed some photos before an advancing snow storm. My answer to her question, and hers to mine was, certainly not, for we both recognize the importance of having a creative outlet. I will be the first to admit that I have always been quick to speak the mantra … Git-r-done. I accept the charge of having applied the mandate too rigidly when the kids were growing up. I accept the charge of having applied it too rigidly to myself. As a result of this myopic focus on getting things done I don’t believe that I ever properly learned how to relax or to call time out. I had hobbies when I was a kid. But surely those were intended to keep me busy. College, graduate school and, since then, academic appointments and the farm have effectively eliminated free time. Time to be creative, and to exercise the right side of my brain (although the pop psychology of lateralization has long since been debunked, the myth persists … so we’ll simply perpetuate it here). Joanna has known all along that taking time for one’s self was important, on several levels. [Note the use of two words (one’s self) rather than one (oneself).] I have been blind to her example. Until recently. As I am now firmly established in what we euphemistically refer to as mid-life, I have come to realize and to appreciate the value of stepping back from work and of doing things that are good for the soul. Although I realize the importance and value of this, I’m not yet very good at it yet. But, practice makes perfect.


31 thoughts on “What on earth are you going to say about it?

  1. First, a nod to Joanna for the knitting, and to you for showing it. My mother sewed and knit all of my dolls’ clothing when I was young. One of my favorites was a red and white ice-skating outfit for my Terry Lee doll, complete with skirt, jacket, tasseled hat, and a pair of knitted ice skate covers. The best part of it? Mom knit a matching outfit for me. We were quite a pair, my dolly and me.

    This aside of yours resonated: ” The down-side to a newly developed awareness is realizing just how much time you’ve wasted.” We’ve all wasted time in one way or another, but even the wasted hours have helped to make us who we are. That may be why this always has been one of my favorite songs. It takes a somewhat more hopeful and charitable view of our time-wasting.

    • I clicked the link, hit the sound button on my computer … within a few seconds Joanna said, I love that song! Me too. Thanks for understanding. It sound as if we are all of an approximate vintage! D (+J)

        • We both trail you by a few … but not many. Although I resigned my academic post last July, I’m not quite retired. Having never had a sabbatical I’m taking a year off and then we’ll see. Leaving academia has lifted a great weight, for which I am thankful. We both look forward to our near and distant futures. Bring it on!

    • No … they aren’t airbrushed. One way of making images look that way is to use something like Adobe Lightroom and to make a ‘clarity’ adjustment … clarity influences contrast in the mid-tones without much affecting the noise. Having said that, I will report that there was no adjustment to clarity made when processing this image. I added a bit of sharpening and increased the exposure of the background a bit … but that’s it. Thanks for the observation though. D

  2. This image is better than the ones manufacturers of toys use in their marketing! The light is just perfect! I am just extrapolating from my own experience with quickly trying to take a photo of some ‘things’ … and having to deal with weird shadows everywhere.

    And I fully agree – ‘cooling off’ from a very busy life takes a while. Perhaps that could be even be measured in terms of stress hormones or the like or specifically wired neurons that need to recombine in a different way?

    • Surely blood-levels of stress hormones like adrenaline respond to what we’re doing during the day. At work, they must be pretty high … and at home, when we’re blogging (!) I assume that they drop to pretty low levels. Thanks for the appreciation of the image … perhaps I could go into corporate photography? I hope your Austrian winter isn’t too bad … ours here has been pretty harsh. I’m looking forward to spring.

      • I think photography of commercial products is undervalued – as well as food photography.

        Our winter has been extremely mild so far – well above zero C and (a bit of) snow only on two days. The forecast says we will have more snow tomorrow. But I have seen photos from the US east coast after the recent storm – quite a difference!

        • Yes. My mother lives in Boston and reports that trying to navigate the city and surrounding suburbs, by auto or by public transportation, is very difficult to nearly impossible.

  3. There is something so appealing about this picture. I think it’s the combination of vintage charm of the dolls and Joanna’s modern clothes. They look like they’re wearing jeans! I’m pretty sick of the abundance of snow outside but the white, fluffy stuff surely makes for the perfect backdrop. You both created something special from these dolls that were languishing in the attic. Glad they will have new life and be enjoyed. Isn’t that the definition of recycling? 🙂

  4. The dolls and their outfits are absolutely adorable! What a great photo of them. Kudos to both of you for pursuing the things that really matter to you.

  5. Joanna did some really nice work. Did they show up without clothes? It is much too cold, even for dolls, and kudos to Joanna for providing some warmth. The photographer has done well here too.

    I am trying to learn to relax. Not in the same way, however. I do allow myself free time and that is how I am here. Photography for me is essential, so the time I spend in the field and in front of the computer I do not consider as using my free time (but I do not have a second job like you). I am trying to spend a little time in quiet mindfulness, clearing my mind. That is difficult. Try having an mind emptied of exterior thoughts and responses focusing on one thing for a few minutes. All kinds of thoughts creep in. It is frustrating but Mary Beth says, and I have read, that it can make a huge difference in how we deal with stress and allows us to relax.

      • Hrmph. Work has been keeping me busy until early afternoon and the farm-in-winter seems to be keeping me busy until dinner time. I repeat – hrmph. The sheep have been going through hay like it’s water and everything is just more difficult when it’s cold and snowy. Lots of what we had on the ground melted and then turned to ice several days ago and this had made for some tough footing. We’ve not had lots of blue sky and sunshine and this weekend isn’t promising much either. I hear you are in for yet another blast of snow? We’ll get a bit on Saturday but from what I understand it’ll be accompanied by temperatures near zero. I can hear the wind howling as I write this reply. I have yet to be out with the new pack … I’ll try for a walk along our nearby rail trail if the schedule permits on Sunday. I’m really looking forward to warmer weather, blue skies, and sunshine. Thanks for checking in. How have you been getting along?

        • You are a busy fellow – here’s another hrmph for you. We had about a 1/2″ today but the temps got into the mid-20s. Tomorrow we’ll be lucky to get to the mid-teens with at the most single digits below zero, if not the teens below, for Friday night and greeting me Saturday morning. I may not venture out. Ice is losing its charm very quickly now, even for ice photography. I have heard varying reports for the amounts predicted here for Sunday, but it sounds like a few inches at least with the possibility of 6-8 inches. But it should be fluffy stuff as the temps will be very low again along with a steady wind all day. I sure hope those sheep show you some appreciation come shearing time.

          • It’s interesting you mention the sheep. They never, ever, look cold … no matter what the winter temperatures. It is always reassuring when walks out to check on them and they simply turn to wonder why I have bothered. The cold bothers us much more than it troubles them. It’s the chickens that don’t like winter. They take the cold temperatures, and especially the snow and ice, as a personal insult. And, egg production slows dramatically in the cold. This can’t last much longer though. A few more weeks and things will begin to improve. Promise.

            • I am beginning to feel like your chickens … it’s becoming personal. The snow has moved up a day and we’ll start seeing it around mid-day tomorrow through Sunday evening. -8° tonight and Sunday night. Not sure if I will be feeling baaaad enough to get out there or not. Stay warm. Maybe you should bring the chickens in to the house tonight.

  6. The clothes that Joanna made are too cute! I love the expression on the dolls’ faces. It looks like they are quietly judging whoever they are looking at 🙂 Your newly developing awareness of the meaning of life is very exciting …

    • Yeah. The down-side to a newly developed awareness is realizing just how much time you’ve wasted. But, better late than never – isn’t that what they say?

      • Oh yeah, thinking about wasted time is the worst thing to do, and it actually wastes MORE time. Of course, we all do it anyway. It’s hard, this whole thing. 🙂

  7. The picture is adorable and I can appreciate your comments as well. I am one of those people, also, who cannot relax and passively do nothing, because unless I am involved in the active process of creating, I feel I’m wasting precious time. The need to create is stronger in some of us, and so for this reason we are never able to just sit and contemplate our bellybuttons. It would be like spending our lives watching daytime TV and sitcoms, and what could be more stultifying than that? Those who are resourceful and creative are blessed, especially because we possess meaningful methods of expression.

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