Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Idle Hands

Idle hands are the devil's tools.

In my case, this means turning on the television to the bottom rung of reality television, like the Real Housewives of Tulsa. Pure evil, those shows, and yet so deliciously crappy, I am drawn to it like a moth to flame. "OOO, elitist wannabes with too much plastic surgery, I love it." I even get excited when I see a television commercial for something that looks so terrible only an idiot would watch it. It reminds me of the one day I was in Circle K absolutely parched. And whilst perusing the iced tea section, there was this sort of Generation X kind of marketed tea in a can. It had all kinds of disenfranchised quotes, and just oozed a kind of non-conformist ennui that grungy 90s kids loved. Okay, so this story really did take place in 1994, so hence the flannel covering, but you know, I am old. Anyhow, I actually said out loud, "Mmmmm, that looks good." IT WAS IN A CAN. I couldn't actually even see the liquid. So rather than succumbing to the marketing bastards, I tend to get involved in creative things that both overwhelm and inspire me. Creativity begets creativity in my mind, so I like the challenge of signing up for things outside of my comfort zone, like planning retreats, or painting twenty paintings in two weeks. So, let me share what December brings for my idle hands.

Mother Henna's Handmade Gift Exchange. I am paired up with the lovely Erin. After exchanging emails about what we would like to receive, it occurred to me that it was unfortunate timing that my last blog post was about my horrible ability to handsew ornaments, because that is precisely what I am going to do for her. Well, the first one, actually turned out quite nice. I will take photographs and after she receives her gifts in the mail, I will post them with her gifts to me. Any ideas about good felt sewn ornaments for a newlywed?

The lovely and incredibly generous Tina at Living without Sophia and Ellie has organized 25 days of Giveaways. Twenty-five bloggers are giving away gifts on their blogs for twenty-five days. I am just one of those bloggers. On December 8th, I will be giving away an original watercolor painting of mizuko jizo.

Mizuko jizo are bodhisattvas unique to Japan who specifically guide miscarried, aborted and stillborn children into their next life. "Historically, Japanese Buddhists believed that existence flowed into a being slowly, like liquid. Children solidified only gradually over time and weren't considered to be fully in our world until they reached the age of seven. Similarly, leaving this world -- returning to the primordial waters -- was seen as a process that began at 60 with the celebration of a symbolic second birth. A mizuko lay somewhere along the continuum, in that liminal space between life and death but belonging to neither. True to the Buddhist belief in reincarnation, it was expected (and still is today) that Jizo would eventually guide the mizuko down another pathway into being. The idea behind the offering was to bid the mizuko farewell and wish it luck in the life it would have to come.” (from Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein)

When I began reading about about Mizuko Jizo, I was fascinated with the image of Jizos. They are usually portrayed as happy little monks with a red bib. A pillar of rocks standing next to the statues, as well as offerings of toys. They are often childlike, yet wise, in appearance. I began painting jizos as a form of meditation and my own Mizuko Kuyo or ritual. I paint them from my soul, giving them blessings and prayers I want for my own daughter on her journey. I am particularly fond of the six prayers paintings because each prayer is associated with one of the six realms—Hell, Hunger, Animality, Anger, Humanity and Heaven. The painting I am giving away is a Six Prayers painting, with six mizuko jizo on a purple background. It is 6" x 9" which makes the image easily frame-able in a 5" x 7" frame.

The color is very faded on this photograph, but it is subtle and kind. At any rate, I have pulled this listing from my Etsy site for just this giveaway. My date is December 8th, but I will put the blog post up on December 6th. By leaving a comment on the December 6th post, you will be entered in the random drawing which will happen ON December 8th at 8p and posted on the 9th.

And thirdly is something that doesn't require any signing up or creative expression, but rather something to share each of our good fortune this year. In the memory of the beautiful Peyton Elizabeth, Once a Mother has set up a site to collect item for families at the Connecticut Children Medical Center. You can click here to find out more information on how to help Kristin pay the kindness forward. Remember that Random Act of Kindness experiment? This is a great way to do it. Yesterday, while grocery shopping, Beatrice and I went into the newborn area of the market, and began just grabbing stuff. It was fun, and we are not quite done yet with our package, but I urge you to do what you can to help in Peyton's memory.

I'm trying to think what else I am doing, but that is about it. I also mentioned on Knocked Up, Knocked Down, that I enjoy giving assvice about everything, though I also mentioned that I think the readers of this blog are too smart to actually ask me questions knowing full well that most of the answers I would give would involve monkeys and/or gnomes. But I have never sort of opened up the floor for people to ask questions. So I am doing that to help my idle neurons. Anyone have any questions for me to answer? About me? About babyloss? About stillbirth? About painting? About monkeys and/or gnomes? Also, anyone have any cool December projects they want to share? Consider this comment section an open forum for questions, answers, creative projects and things to distract me.


  1. Dear Angie, you are overwhelmingly awesome.



  2. I love my Angie Jizo painting, and am looking for the perfect frame so it can be displayed properly.

    M said it perfectly:)


    PS-Please give Sarah a big hug from me and insist that she give you one from me, in reverse.

  3. What they said. And something funny is that today I thought about sending you this link to the NYT article about how giving makes the giver cope better with whatever is hard in their life (29 Days of Giving:, but then I thought, meh, Angie is so all over this, she doesn't need the research to back her up. Et voila!

  4. Agreed with the awesomeness.;) Squared.

    And re: newlyweds - there is a German tradition about ormaments for a newly married couples first year tree.

    Totally googled & C/P'd all this below...

    According to the old German tradition, the
    tree of a newlywed couple should include
    these twelve ornaments to insure blessing
    and happiness for their life

    An Angel - God's Guidance in the Home
    A Rose - Beauty and Affection
    A Rabbit - Hope and Faith
    A Teapot - Hospitality
    A Pine Cone - Motherhood and Fruitfulness
    A Santa - Unselfishness and Goodwill
    A House - Shelter and Protection
    A Fruit Basket - Generosity
    A Bird - Happiness and Joy
    A Flower Basket - Good Wishes
    A Heart - True Love
    A Fish - Christ's Blessing

  5. I have a giant landscape collage I've been dreaming of starting, and working on over a long slow time, and eventually finishing and hanging in my sunroom. Maybe I'll start working on it this month, this cold season of indoor time... Thanks for the inspiration, Angie. :)

  6. Angie,

    You rock. I'm inspired to be a more giving person and to watch more crap the same blog post. That's magic!

  7. Since it's my first Christmas without my daughter, I'm going to do a tree all in butterflies. I'm also going to donate a few toys in Ella's honor. But, I love what Once A Mother is doing. I'm going to look into that more. I love the way you write. You are great.

  8. You inspired me to make some handmade ornaments with Lil Mama. Your description fits our creations too! We had fun making them though.

  9. make me feel, well...idle. You're awesome.

  10. Those paintings are just are so talented...

  11. your paintings are so gorgeous. i feel an overwhelming sense of calm when i view them.


  12. I love your artwork, your talents seem endless; writing, art, poetry. I would like to thank you so much for mentioning Doing Good In Her Name. I was touched to see Peyton's little button on your post, it really moved me. You are amazing. Your generous spirit truly inspires me.

  13. Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

  14. Anonymous, thank you? Could be because I was absolutely paralyzed with grief in the beginning and not much capable of higher thinking other than "My daughter is dead."


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