Wednesday, March 26, 2008

on being nice... (karma in the form of free)

so, it's spring. there are daffodils popping up everywhere and i've been thinking about "nice" a lot lately. i have very clear memories of being in 3rd grade and my teacher having a list of "trash words" written on pieces of crumpled up paper and falling into a cardboard cut-out drawing of a trash can, stapled to the wall of our classroom. her most hated "trash word" was nice. ok, so maybe "nice" isn't the most attractive looking word, but mrs. wexner's (hi mrs. wexner!) reason for putting nice on the list was that nicedidn't say much. it wasn't descriptive enough; it wasn't specific enough in feeling or meaning. it was just nice

at the time i just took note of the word and reminded myself to never use it. instead say things like: kind, giving, sweet, warm, loving, generous, affectionate, friendly... just not nice. but what's wrong with that, really? don't we have plenty of descriptive words for generic unpleasant feelings? on a daily basis i run into: ugh, blech, blarg, hmph! and grrr... i'm desperate for nice.

i spent years in art school learning how to talk about artwork, how to critique and most important, how not to say nice. apparently, a piece of art can be: moving, quiet, comforting, gentle, light, airy, open & welcoming, but never nice.

well, sometimes i look at a painting and all the elements click together and i feel like i'm looking at a picture of home, and it smells good and it's just the right temperature, and nothing is threatening and its just nice.

i've had the wonderful fortune of raising a puppy (as you all have no doubt gathered from all my obsessive "mason eating, mason sleeping, mason with his paw up, mason almost sleeping, mason eating again, mason in any-number-of-sweaters" posts) these last couple of months since shiloh passed, and one thing i have felt more and more in tune to is the idea of "nice". when you're crate training, you have to be nice to your neighbors; it's niceto sleep in (when puppy sleeps in!), it's so NICE
to have a friend to go running in the park with again; and for a toddler and an infant pup, estelle and mason really do play so nicelytogether. and look how NICE he looks!

i've been putting nice out more and more, and as i do, i find myself pulling in more and more nice. it's not hard to be nice. estelle, who's only just turned 2, says "please" & "thank you" (unsolicited and with out reminder, and accurately, EVERY TIME) as well as "bless you" whenever she hears a sneeze... and if you don't respond, she'll walk right up to your face and say "bless you" again. a few months ago, i was driving downtown (leaving whole foods, harbor east, and turning onto president street,for you visual learner locals) and got stopped at a red light just before a blind turn. up ahead there was a MASSIVE "puddle" (i think tiny lake is more accurate) in my lane just beyond the turn (which i couldn't see from there), and the man in the car next to me, to my left, beeped his horn and flailed his arms and did everything he could to get my attention, (which as a woman in the city, i've learned to ignore), and when i finally acknowledged him and rolled my window down, he shouted "to you want to pull in front of me when the light changes, so you don't have to drive through that water?!"

who does that!?

even more recently, i was in the mood for peanut butter and jelly... i mean, serious PB&J cravings. i only had enough jelly left for one sandwich, but that was all i needed. i had bread, in the freezer, not usually an issue, but there was a chance it would be freezer burned (oh, because my freezer and cabinets are like "non-perishable goods" graveyards... seriously, if there's ever an earthquake or whatever, just come over, i got you covered). i made the sandwich anyway and was SO looking forward to it... but the first bite proved my freezer burn theory to be correct and i swallowed it and then pouted, turning to AJ (who was looking on with hope) and said "it tastes like freezer". wouldn't you know that sweet boy o'mine left the room and came back with 2 slices of his own bread and then painstakingly scraped the PB & J off the freezer bread with a butter knife and spread it onto the new bread, as carefully as possible, while i sat there, staring at him, in amazement.


well, i'm gonna do for nice, what J.T. (that's justin timberlake y'all) did for "sexy" (that's "bring it back" for those of you who wisely do not listen to top 40 radio). i've decided that i am going to reward those of you nicefolks, who regularly read this blog (though maybe don't comment) and those of you i've met online, at shows and in other random ways, who regularly support me, encourage me and are generally NICE to me!

these are brand new items to the greenstarstudio line... tooth fairy pillows (or "small versions of knitimals with mini pockets on their backs for whatever purpose you see fit" pillows!). each one is about 5-6" tall and has a little pocket sewn on back-- perfect for collecting teeth (if you know me you're probably wondering how i brought myself to even type that, as normally the crushing weight of my mouth-phobia would have caused me to have an anxiety attack... i'm thinking about nicer things, that's how). they retail for $40 and come with a penny in the pocket (because it's bad luck to give someone an empty pocket... and if teeth might be involved, you'll want all the luck you can get". they are, like the Knitimals they are based on, hand knit without patterns, so they are 100% unique.

I will be giving away TWO of these little guys to two lucky readers who do two things:
1.) post a comment below about something NICE!!! (it can't hurt to have so many positive thoughts in one place, right?) and
2.) add your name to my mailing list (there's a handy button along the side now--- if you're already on the mailing list, do it again please! i am trying to consolidate and clean up the 7 different places i gather info from!).
*make sure i can tell by your comment who you are, so i can contact you if you win one of these little guys.
** if you don't "win" (and really, aren't we all winners?) one, there will be some for sale on Etsy starting this coming Friday.
You'll have until noon, NEXT Friday (April 4th). I'll put all the names in a hat and draw 2 winners.
Best of luck! xoxo, danamarie


greetingarts said...

Oh, what a great job you've done! I've made little tooth pillows with pockets on the back, but out of felt. Yours are adorable.

My "nice" story is of my girls, one age 5 going on her first field trip to the zoo, the other age 2, waiting patiently for Sister to come home. Right before we left to go pick up the Kindergartener, my youngest carefully picked a dandelion with a long stem from the front yard, carried it gingerly in the car all the way to the school, and then held it in front of her with both hands to welcome her dear sister home. So NICE!

And you're so nice to give us a chance to win one of your cuties. Thanks!

Stacey said...

Such cute little knitimals! Love 'em!

OK, here's my nice story. My daughter, who just turned one, loves to read before we put her to bed at night. Last night, we were looking at 'Pat the Bunny' for the 200th time, and when it came time to sniff the flowers on one of the pages, she leaned in, breathed loudly on it, and after smelling it, sighed, 'ahhhhh.' Just like I do. She's so observant--and it was so funny! And, nice too. :)

Adding my name to your mailing list now. Thanks for giving us a chance to win something super nice!

Danielleorama said...

darnit! My mind is blank. I can only think...I would kill for a knitimal....and i guess that isn't very nice :(

Anonymous said...

You know, Dana. You are nice. The comment you made on Flickr about the little loon I made was "nice"--in fact, it made me smile. Your knitanimals are not "nice" they are wonderful and also make me smile--including little ol' Ringo who sits happily in my work studio keeping me company day after day--and well, that is nice too.

Sounds like I am sucking up, doesn't it? Well, I meant it all!
Holly (as in Beeper Bebe, baby)

hello pineapples said...

Sad to say, but not a lot of nice things come to mind immediately. So kudos for making me think about nice things. I did come up with something nice: I've been making a lot of trips to the vet lately with a sick kitty. Two of my friends have, without any hesitation, been giving me rides back and forth. They've even stuck around during visits. When one of them could only give me a ride there, I was able to call the other and she came to pick me up - even though she was just getting home after being out all day for work, a meeting and a run. It's been a huge help since cash is tight (and vet bills really don't help) and they'd rather help me out than have me take kitty in a cab.

Also nice: this give-away! You could just sell your fantastic knitimals on etsy, but you're being super nice and giving some away. Should I win, it will be sent to my friend's daughter, seeing as she has recently started to lose her teeth (and I have all my adult teeth). and I've just noticed that on your etsy you're being nice to animals and donating some of your sales to the SPCA...all this niceness is making me think about what nice things I can do for someone else.

Gina Cooper said...

Hi there, I LOVE your blog and that little puppy dog that is in the photos...He is just precious and now I want one just like him..I love your work and these little critters are so whimsical and make you smile..heck they would make anyone smile...I love seeing all the talent out there and the creative mediums in which people use them...Thanks for the opportunity to WIN one of these little cuties...If I win, he will be MINe ALL MIne!!! I sound like daffy also love the fact that you are taking care of animals in need through the ASPCA. I too give to that when I can...We love animals and just wish each and everyone of them could know what it feels like to be loved...

Eva said...

how funny... i just had finished writing you an email when i discovered your updated post on the needle... wow, you're so nice to be giving away 2 of your creations :)

also, it was fun to read the blog about "nice" and see what other people have commented so far. it's just nice to read about all these nice things!

So let's see... trying to isolate some nice moments... when my 9 yr old sister looks at me in amazement (like I'm a superhero)- that's super nice... when my dog used to greet me when coming home, no matter what kind of crappy day I may have had, he was always there, happy as can be to see me- it didn't matter what i looked like, how grumpy i was, or anything- total unconditional love- that's nice! and sometimes the most simple things in life are the nicest... like smelling cut grass, or drinking cup of hot chocolate on a cold day, or smelling fireplaces on a cold day... know what i mean :)

and to finish it off, if i end up winning one of these, i will give it to my little sister, cuz that would be nice- since I'm already a lucky owner of crabbe your knitimal and she's loosing lots of her baby teeth these days ;-)

trinlayk said...

I love your photos and the knitimals.

Especially that navy stripe bunny!

Nice things:
Spring is coming and the snow is melting.

Purrs from my kitties. (Who are sitting together with me and not squabling over who has more of Meowmy's attention.)

Friends, who came to pick me up, and take me out to lunch...

trinlayk said...

Oh and I'm going to Oddcon!
and putting my monsters & aliens in the art show! wheeee....

jillytacy said...

I love the idea of "bringing nice back." There isn't enough nice in the world these days. I try to bring nice back by holding doors open, smiling at strangers, giving people compliments, telling people you appreciate their help & service, using kind words, telling friends & family that I love and appreciate them and volunteering in my community. Simple gestures like this really can brighten someone else's day. Being nice can be easy, everyone should try it.

trinlayk said...

Nice is fun:
I'm so happy with this one:

debby said...

'nice all around'

love reading your posts! wanted to share my nice story about living in spain: i'm from baltimore & had never thought that i could leave the rough & tumble city, the assortment of people, the many things to do. long story short: well, i did. at first it was difficult getting use to the very laid back lifestyle that spaniards enjoy. they actually take a siesta, most shops close in the afternoon & re-open in the evening. one of the (at first) strangest experiences was that cars stopped/slowed down when pedestrians needed to cross. what?! not something i was use to from baltimore (people in cars give you a dirty look for trying to cross a street). i'm not sure if it's all of spain, but when you're at a crosswalk (most are speed bumps with zig zag lines to indicate a crosswalk) cars let you cross. what a nice gesture to allow someone to cross & not want to run them down. no road rage here. i wish this courtesy was adopted everywhere, especially charm city. ps. have you inquired with judy/alice @ the w.a.m store to sell your works? i'd love to see them there. ciao.

bumblebird said...

These little guys are all so sweet!
A talented painter and a plush creator-a girl after my own heart! :)

When my little girl says right out of the blue-"Your my best friend" along with a nice big hug...

When my husband lets me sleep in and helps the girls get ready for the day...

Happy Spring!