Friday, February 4, 2011

February, let me count the ways


Yesterday there was a mention on Facebook that this is Niece's Week. In honor of that, let me introduce you to my only niece, Alia, who is an artist living in Fremantle, West Australia. The painting, Feeding the Fish, is a piece she created, by invitation, for the Vasse Art Awards silent auction there.

As February is now 1/7th gone, it seems redundant to write the welcoming post I'd had in mind. Simply stated, I am a big fan of this little month for the following reasons:

When growing up there were two school holidays.
Paper crafts at home and school connected to the honored Presidents and Valentine's Day.
Valentine candy.
My birthday, on the 8th, and my elementary school best friend's birthday on the 10th.
Cupcakes, parties, my mother's crepe paper party hats, multiple Nancy Drew books.
A lot of red and many hearts.
Winter trips to Yosemite with my Girl Scout troop. Hanging around the Lodge, imagining myself to be a skier.

I will always be a fool for paper. February is a permission slip to indulge that obsession with abandon. Heart-shaped stickers know no season, nor does glitter. Lacy doilies, ribbons, the list reaches from here back to the walnut office desk upon which I did my crafting until I moved away from home. My sister still has the desk, a gift from the newspaper owner who employed our father. With the desk is its original chair, recovered who knows how many times.

There is nothing flimsy about February. Its holidays have tradition and substance. As I have spent decades making my own Valentines, it am not troubled that the so-called romantic event is a greeting card, candy and, more recently, diamond retailer's dream. Sweethearts come and go, love remains, the heart as a symbol endures. It is a shape that pleases me. If I had been a 1950s movie star, of course I would have a heart-shaped swimming pool. Or a Judith Leiber bag. Or both, plus plenty more.

A February surprise was waiting for me this morning when I checked my email. In the mid-1980s I wrote a story about an inflatable toy, Bulgy the whale, which is posted on my desperately out-of-date website. "Bulgy the Whale" in the subject line from an unknown address got the day off to a mysterious start. The writer had found one of the elderly toys and, through Google, was led to my story and me. I told him what little I could about my beach toy and about an amusement park ride friends had mentioned, also named Bulgy. As I checked Google, there seemed to be lots of information related to the ride. That the writer found my link, and sent a note, felt like a message, a sign, of some sort, though I could not say what.

I would like to defend my month but the recent brutal and excessive weather she/he delivered cannot be prettied. There are many who will not think kindly of February because of it. Knowing that anything, everything, can change in a moment, I will sit with thoughts of Februarys past, of today's unexpected communication and drawers filled with Valentine materials. Even without the indulgence of candy, birthday cake or ice cream, it is still a sweet month, one I am happy to claim as mine.

20 comments:

Angella Lister said...

I love that painting by your niece. She's very talented!

And you make an excellent argument for February. Happy birthday when it comes!

Erin in Morro Bay said...

Yes, yes, yes! February is the best - especially for those of us that have our birthdays in this shortest but most wonderful month! And I still love Febraury, even though it has now dropped so much snow that my Lynne Perrella workshop in Taos is canceled. I will spend my birthday on the sunny Central Coast, instead of snowy Taos. Happy Birthday to us!
Erin

Vespersparrow said...

What a loving post, Marylinn, and we are alike in that we are stupefied with happiness to have our hands on lace, ribbon, doilies, fabric, anything of a beautiful color. With so many blizzards whitening the world and then turning it a greasy gray, it is a must that all the stuff be gathered, spread out, chosen and used to make something we've loved making, and give it away with the love gluing two hearts together. Happy birthday, dear Marylinn. Indulge, indulge!xo

Robert the Skeptic said...

Wow, I really like that painting.

Antares Cryptos said...

Like how the water reflects on the skin.
Paper, glorious paper. I know the feeling. Washi tape :)
As to February, hopefully calmer than January.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Angella - Thank you, she will be pleased with your comment. She is very talented. I appreciate your birthday wishes.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Erin - A very Happy Birthday to us (will you remind me of your birthday...I know it is written somewhere...ha, but where is always the question.) I'm sorry that Lynne's workshop was cancelled but the sunny, Central Coast is a beautiful second choice.

Laoch of Chicago said...

February is a month wrapped in sorrow.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Melissa - Thank you so much for your wishes. That so many of you have been under winter's siege does make the notion of things red and warm and cozy all that much more appealing. Winter-by-proxy, for our version of chill in no way compares. Here's to glue and all that it connects. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Robert - Thank you. So do I...Alia does wonderful things with light and water.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Antares Cryptos - I have yet to claim washi tape as one of my materials, but have been many times to Pretty Tape's Etsy site, trying to choose...We certainly hope that February is done smacking most of the country around. Glad you like the painting.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Laoch - It has certainly been wrapped in anything but joy for you and your fellow Chicagoans. As a February fan, it does seem apologies are indicated. Good to see you here, for I'd heard of power outages and other unwelcome conditions. I hope things are warmer, better, closer to normal. Take good care.

JeannetteLS said...

Your niece is SO talented. Mine turns eighteen tomorrow and after the ice storm of today I shall go tomorrow and revel in it. Unfortunately, February is not a month for me--still, you know what? It cheered me up immeasurably to read about a month that OTHER people DO love! Thanks for a great introduction to your blog.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Jeannette - Happy Birthday to your niece who must be another of February's fans, to some extent at least. My aunts have meant so much to me, I hoped that I could introduce Alia and her brilliant work to a wider audience. Thank you for your visit. Wishing you a benevolent February.

Antares Cryptos said...

Marylinn, I had a satisfying obsession with water reflection and droplets. I appreciate your niece's skill.

As to Washi tape, great mixed-media supply and makes to do lists more visually pleasing.:)

Not familiar with that etsy store, will have a look

Marylinn Kelly said...

Antares Cryptos - When Googling washi paper tape, they came up through the etsy link. It seemed like a good place to stop and browse. Looking forward to having some to play with.

grrl + dog said...

It IS a kindness that they bothered to contact you..

a long overdue acknowledgement?

We are melting here in february

Marylinn Kelly said...

Denise - My brother near Perth reported some blazing, humid days...hope you have cool places to escape. I was happy to hear from someone about the toy, if not the story, hands reaching back, pulling the past forward.

KleinsteMotte said...

Happy birthday tomorrow. Of course this is a sweet month for you. It should be. I love the art work of your niece and the part that someone discovered you :)

Marylinn Kelly said...

KleinsteMotte - Welcome. How nice to see you here. Thank you for birthday wishes. I'm glad you enjoyed Alia's painting.