A Photo Shoot, Good Neighbors, and A Wishing Tree

IMG_0750It’s done: I applied to Crafty Wonderland. Included in my whirlwind of effort is a new website! You can visit Carrot Condo (carrotcondo.com) to see pictures of my Storybooks You Can Color and Cards You Can Color. I will continue to add to it as more books, cards, and calendars get completed.

My husband helped me take photos of the storybooks and cards on our wedding anniversary. Maybe this is pitiful, but I found it quite romantic huddled in our dining room on a rainy day trying to get all the pictures taken while our kiddo napped. I thought our set-up looked quite professional:

The kiddo’s highchair served as my coloring area, and the halogen lights have been tucked in the crumbling garage for nearly a decade–but they still worked.

I’ll know on September 22nd if I got in or not. Crossing fingers until then.

In the meantime, I’ve continued buying and reading Street Roots like I said I would and have two quotations to share with you.

The first I read a few weeks ago before the current refugee crisis became wide-spread news. I’ve always felt horrified by any refugee experience–having to leave your home with nowhere else to go and facing even more dangers and challenges in an attempt to find a safe place. I’m finding hope and courage in the stories of people who have made the journey and re-settled and have gotten on with living their lives.

Apala Barclay, a cartoonist and illustrator, said his plight in Liberia actually gave him the skills and muscle he needed to make it in a new country: “One minute my family had things, the next minute we were at the bottom. It prepared me to come to this country and work from nothing to where I am today.” (August 7-13 Street Roots)

Then, I read about a woman who talks casually and cheerfully about what I think must be one of the hardest roles in the world: being a single mother. She raised three children and attended college at the same time. The dean even told her she should quit school because she’d never make it. She credits the community she lived in “…I had been living in a housing project, and the women in the housing project, we made friends and helped each other. … there was a subculture that helped people (like me) get by.” (August 7-13 Street Roots)

I’m starting to see just how vital community, friends, family, and neighbors are in the world and in my life.

I stepped outside the other day to take a walk with the kiddo, still kind of reeling from the news about refugees, of losing all basic security and comfort, when two things happened.

First, my next-door neighbor came out and asked if we’d like a train set for our kiddo. And then, voila, there she is giving us an entire set of wooden track and trains in perfect condition from her own childhood. It’s just begging to be played with, and we can’t wait to begin.

Second, after tucking the train set away in the house, we started our walk, but half-a-block later, I ran into another neighbor who grows a front yard full of lush, gorgeous plants, like dahlia flowers the size of dinner plates. I asked her for advice about growing tomatoes (because mine have struggled while everyone else’s thrive in this weirdly hot Portland summer). She said, “Just a minute” and left.

When she came back, she gave us a large bag full of perfectly shaped brightly colored tomatoes.

I told her I’d just been feeling scared about life but now realized having awesome neighbors provides a great sense of security. She smiled like she totally got what I was feeling and gave me a fist bump.

It’s not just that two nice people gave us nice things–it’s that they thought of us at all, that they wanted to share something, and that these moments strengthen invisible tethers between us–that “web of mutuality” Dr. Martin Luther King talked about–it’s there, not always easy to see, but incredibly resilient and lasting.

For more evidence of this, check out my friend Deb Johnson Nies’s wishing tree on Facebook. Lightning struck a tree in her front yard, so she made a sign inviting people to write and hang wishes on the part of the tree that remained. Everything that has happened since is quite magical.

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About TRISTA

I write and illustrate stationery, cards, customized snail mail (yes, you can receive handwritten and illustrated letters in your mail!!), coloring books, and more. My business name is "Carrot Condo." After teaching English for 15 years (gasp!), I am now a full-time parent and part-time artist slowly, but steadily, building a creative business and life. You can read more at carrotcondo.com or see my products at etsy.com/shop/CarrotCondo. Thanks for your interest and support!!
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10 Responses to A Photo Shoot, Good Neighbors, and A Wishing Tree

  1. Rose L. says:

    I am always amazed at the resiliency of people. We all encounter difficulties in our lives-medical, emotional, financial-some ore than others, and many do pull up their pants and continue on. Those who have to leave the known and enter the unknown face such changes and battles but seem to find a way to endure. Some do fall and crawl, some need extra helping hands and hopefully find them, some get dragged down. We always hope for the best.
    It is good to hear encouraging stories. I think that is one of the reasons I would read so many “Chicken Soup” books, though many stories did bring tears to my eyes.
    Now as I am dealing with Bells Palsy, I am encouraged by those who have had to face more difficult times and it keeps me going!

  2. Deb Nies says:

    Thank you mentioning the Wishing Tree here, Trista. I can’t wait to hear about Crafty Wonderland results! xo

    • TRISTA says:

      The Wishing Tree is so cool! I’ll let you all know what I learn next week about the craft show…kind of in limbo as I wait to find out, even though I have plenty of other things to do.

  3. heatherseattle says:

    I saved reading this for a time when i could savor it and it was so worth the wait. I just loved every little bit of this post and, as usual, a lot of it resonated with what i’ve been thinking about lately too. Your anniversary sounded like marriage perfection to me – the two of you coming together to build a dream. I love it. xoxo and thank you for always blogging so vulnerably. It is such a gift for you to share with us and we’re so lucky to be able to read it.

    • TRISTA says:

      Thank you, Heather! I kept hesitating about sharing my goals, but it kind of helps … it makes me see that the WORST thing that can happen is I don’t get into the craft show. That’s it. Making it public puts in in perspective.

  4. Alex Hurst says:

    Congratulations on the books, they look fabulous! And that lighting set-up really is professional. ๐Ÿ˜€

    The Syrian crisis has been a really difficult thing to watch unfold, especially because I feel helpless except to be knowledgable about it.

    I understand your feelings about neighbors. They are so important, especially when in a foreign country. My next door neighbor has made me feel like my house here really is a home. I am going to miss her so much.

    • TRISTA says:

      Thanks for following the Carrot Condo blog, Alex! I think you’re my second follower!!!

      Yes, the Syrian crisis and so many others that I hear/read in the news. I figure it’s better to know about it, even if there’s not a lot I can do individually, than to stick my head back into the sand.

      I think you wrote about your neighbor in one blog post, yes? The one who asked if you were as hungry as a cat or something like that? Anyway, your move is going to be so exciting, but so hard, too. You’re leaving behind some really lovely people and experiences. I know I say this a lot to you, but: I sense another book topic here! (I’ll win you over to creative nonfiction eventually!)

      • Alex Hurst says:

        That’s a different person, actually! But it shows how kind people are out here. ๐Ÿ™‚ I will most definitely write a nonfiction one day. Just when I feel I have an end to the story to tell. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Debs says:

    Trista, its been too long since I last visited your blog and I have done a mega catch up read. Heatherseattle puts it beautifully that you seem able to post in an open manner about your feelings of vulnerability without sounding in any way “me, me, me” about it. I am very excited about your current project and hope that it will be the success that you deserve it to be. There’s a huge “thing” about colouring for adults too over here in the UK – maybe we’ll see you breaking into that market too one day?

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