Saturday, December 26, 2009

Gnomes, art and magic

We have moved through the holiday. It was a low day. Neither the husband, the dog or the girl got out of jammies all day. I changed from pjs into lounge wear, and then back again at the appropriate time. I also did not make a single cohesive meal all day, since we had a ton of leftovers from Christmas Eve. We ate carrots and dip for lunch. I watched a documentary on Heidi Fleiss and the newest HP movie and needle felted most of the day (I made a gnome environment). I didn't get on-line after morning coffee (does blackberry reading count?) I took three baths, and helped my daughter fall in love with a firetruck. And didn't lift the shades once.

I was depressed, I suppose. My kid died. I imagine most Christmases will have a twinge of ache for what isn't. I was thankful for not having to be present for anyone but this little family. We just say no these days to invites we can't handle. We do not push ourselves to be jolly. There were moments of absolute silent heartbreak. When I heard my husband say to his mother, "It is just the three of us today." When I read one of Bea's new books with a character named Lucy and Bea asked if it was our Lucy. When the fourth stocking hung empty next to ours. (Why did I even put it up?) My sister-in-law called and told me she was thinking about us this week. She also lost a child at 40 weeks many years before I came on the scene. In the early weeks, she called, but I haven't talked to her since March. I do not begrudge her that. I cannot imagine being eight years out and be thrust into that raw space of loss again. She asked me if I felt Lucy all around. And I didn't know what to say to her. No, I don't. No, I didn't. That is the fucking problem. I am bereft of imagination or sensitivity. I can't dream her. I can't see her in shadows. She isn't in my arms. I have no magic.

Still, I know that if Lucy were anywhere, it would be with me. I am all she knew. I love her more than the air. But sometimes, just for a minute, I'd like to feel her again.


A number of times in the past few months, someone has asked me a question like "Gnomes?" And I realize that I never really answer that question. We sort of enjoy gnomes around the house. If something unexplained happens, we attribute it first to gnomes, and then find out the real story. We have this incredible book called The Secret Life of Gnomes. It is quite famous. (the cover is at the left) If you have seen anything about gnomes, this is probably the book. It is kind of largish, and has beautiful illustrations about the gnome world. There is also a Gnome Christmas, illustrated by Rien Poortvielt too. I just love the universe of gnomes. So magical and beautiful. If you have never looked through it, it is quite incredible--elaborate and detailed. When Beatrice is underfoot and being impatient, I tell her to grab the gnome book. She can look at it for an inordinate time. After Bea turned one, I looked for small toys to litter my diaper bag. And I found a woman on Etsy who makes beautiful gnomes, and then it became a "thing," I suppose, since we began traveling with gnomes. I made them a "gnome pocket" to house them on the road. When she is bored, in doctor's offices, waiting for dinner, or just on the train, I pull them out and we have adventures with our gnomes. I created a moss environment to house the gnomes when we are home. I have taken it down recently, but that is what the picture is below. Gnomes and mushrooms. I admit I always have had a garden gnome, even when I didn't have a garden. I called him kitchen gnome, and he sat in my kitchen. He still does. He is what I am kissing in my profile picture.

So, why gnomes? I have no friggin' idea. I wouldn't wear gnome t-shirts or have gnome-inspired housewares, though occasionally I do say answer the "what's up" question with "Just hangin' with my gnomies."  We aren't into tacky gnomes, just hiding gnomes around the house, imagining they do stuff for us, help animals...everyone has a thing. And this is ours. But connecting the above to the middle, I suppose, part of it is a desire for some magic in our world. For a hidden world where little beings are kind to the universe and live for five centuries and always have living babies and rarely die and eat bread made out of one acorn, one walnut, one know, magic. I miss magic.


So apropos of nothing, last night, I got six anonymous comments asking me to check out pictures, buy Via.gara and/or invest in Panamanian real estate. And while I am intrigued, I also accidentally erased a comment I wanted, and so I am going anonymous-less. Sorry to anyone who commented that way. I suggest opening an anonymous gmail account that is something like ihateangie(at)gmail(dot)com or yaygnomes(at)gmail(dot)com. Alright, that might be taken, but you know, I hate to limit communication in this way, but that Anonymous dude is such an a-hole.


I also want to remind everyone again to submit something to still life 365. I am so excited for my new project, but I really cannot do it without submissions. No one really wants 365 days of my please please consider sending anything in! We are starting January 1st. You can submit at the email stilllife365days(at)gmail(dot)com. More details are available at still life 365, or just email me. I'd be happy to talk to you more about it.

YAY, art.


  1. Angie, I love your gnomes!! They are soo cute. Seems like our holiday routine was the same: PJs, art & baths...

    As for the 365... you'll get an email soon...
    Wishing you all the magic you need! xoxo

  2. 1) I will think about something to submit to Still Life 365. Really cool idea.

    2) Thanks for the explanation about gnomes. I need to look them up on wikipedia to find out more about what they actually ARE.

    3) Another holiday gone by, time to think about what isn't. I'm glad you survived. :-)

    4) That panamanian real state and viagra paragraph: random.

  3. I want gnomes to live in my house too! Or maybe I already have some and I should just look more closely. Do you have to leave out a bowl of milk for them or is that just brownies?

  4. I don't have that sort of magic either, and always feel a small twinge of guilt that I don't. And we canceled each and every one of our holiday plans, including the traditional Jewish Christmas of Chinese food and a movie, which was just for us to begin with. Pajamas just seemed like the way to go yesterday. I'm glad you have the gnomes- every house needs a little magic. Thinking of all of you with love.

  5. Many times I wish I could feel my babies again. I think Lucy knows you love her more than the air. I love the gnomes and am happy you found a little magic. xx

  6. WOW, Angie I grew up with that book! We had it in our house when I was a small. I loved it and spent hours reading in it, way into my teenage years for sure. I don't actually remember when the books (there are two) appeared first in our house, nor where the books itself went.

    One of my favorite bits in it is the cuddle circle, you need to squat down to cuddle a child/comfort a child...
    And I loved all the gnome "tech", well, craft and the operations on how to save the dear etc.

    sigh, nice memories for me, thank you!!

    xx Ines

  7. I think I may need to get some gnomes. Or some magic. Or both.


  8. Glad you had the love of your partner and daughter as you all remembered Lucy. Hoping you have moments of peace through the rest of the holiday season, and lots more love of course. And love the gnomes. Laughed out loud at the gnomies actually. (((Hugs)))

  9. You know, I imagine A is roaming the universe, finding his own magic, getting to do some incredibly cool stuff. This was my wish for him.

    I have this thing (born out of observing some seriously effed-up family interactions) about how my children don't owe me a thing. I don't mean when they are little and they have to behave with respect and pick up their toys. I mean that they aren't the ones responsible for my happiness. And that they are not required to spend time with me when they grow up. Hopefully they will want to, but I've told people to shoot me if I start guilting my children into anything at all, whether while they are kids or when they become adults.

    So I kinda figured I should let A go in the same way-- to make sure to tell him that he doesn't owe me a thing, and that he should be free to go do what he wants/needs to do.

    So I don't normally feel him around either. But I think of that as a good thing. I hope it means that if he is anywhere, he is having grand adventures. Or at least some fun.

    PJs day sounds like a good way to go. Sad in places, of course, but right.

  10. Things on my list for today:

    1. try and figure out this 365 thing. (I know, I'm a little slow)

    2. read blogs

    3. think about stuff.

  11. I have been looking for the right gnome for my garden. I'm particular, not cute-sy, not freaky, just a gnome that I can, at least in my mind, put on slug patrol, and imagine him walking around killing slugs.

  12. Also lacking in magic here, although desperately yearning to find some.

    Of course Lucy would be with you.

    My grandmother had a copy of The Secret Life Of Gnomes. Such a complete little universe. I wish they really were hidden around the place, doing benevolent things.



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