Monday, September 22, 2008

aging grace

The end of summer always seems to feel as though I am scraping the bottom of the barrel... and every year September manages to become the Great Turnaround Month. I had been working my tail off doing visual merchandising at Terrain for a few weeks, rearranging the store for harvest time, sweating it out under the beating sun, marching back and forth across the acres of property, goring myself on a tree trunk and coming within inches of getting myself a heatstroke... trying to bounce back from months of not working and non-existent print sales. Last year I had a fairly horrific birthday and did not have great hopes that turning 31 would go much smoother.

new growth
new growth © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Shanners and Michael had been acting suspiciously for some weeks and I had a feeling they were plotting something. I had asked Michael if he would get me a new watch for my birthday. Mine had died and I gone through the two amazing-yet-tacky $3 watches I bought online which lasted 5 wearings each on average, prior to self-destructing. A couple days before my birthday he told me the watch we both liked was out of stock so he'd have to think of something else.

peril's comet
peril's comet © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

When I got home from work the night before my birthday, I wandered into the bathroom and noticed the lid of the toilet was open. Because The Magnificent likes to drink out of the toilet, I generally make a point keeping it shut. I thought it was odd, but I had been running late that morning and imagined I might have forgotten. I stepped into the kitchen and immediately all the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end... I spied a sign stuck to the cupboard next to the kitchen sink. It said Open Me!

candle © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

I had the feeling someone was in the apartment. Looking over my shoulder I opened the cupboard a crack, and there was a box, with a note. Lo and behold, Michael had snuck into my apartment while I was at work and hid a box of cupcakes, since he couldn't be there at midnight to be the first to wish me a happy birthday, he wanted to leave a little something for me.

electric © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Before the sun was up I was heading off to my last day of visual merchandising work. I spent the day putting the finishing touches on the harvest section (most of which had been erected while I was away) with Matt.

bay breeze
bay breeze © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Just before it started to rain I was asked to do a quickie shoot for an email blast for harvest.

harvest time at Terrainharvest time at terrain © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Wrapped in the creative director's jean jacket and an unruly poncho, Matt and I filled in displays with hay and pine needle fill in the increasingly monsoon-like weather. I was soaked to the skin and coated in mud and wet hay.

seaside © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

It didn't seem like an ideal way to celebrate but I was in good company all day long... and I headed home to get cleaned up and heave out to dinner with Michael. When I got to his house he was anxious to lay his gift on me. I was rather taken aback to see that he not only gotten me the watch we liked, but he also got me the MiniDigi Rolleiflex I have been pining for for quite some time. It was too adorable... and ridiculously generous. We hustled out to get out super-Mexicans on at the warm and intimate Xochitl in south Philly. It was a totally killer birthday.... little did I know it was nowhere near over.

hair on end
hair on end © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Eager to use my new camera I got up early to make a run to Best Buy to get a new card reader for my new itty bitty toy fire engine red toy. Michael had told me he was picking me up at my house at 11am to take us to brunch. He had been promising to fill my day with excitement including the highly unlikely Ukulele Fest featuring Uke Skywalker and Tuba Fett. I wasn't buying it either.

dried flowers
dried flowers © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

I called Michael to ask him if it was ok if I ran out and got back a couple minutes late. He repeatedly hedged between telling me to stay put and to go quickly until it was too late for me to leave. I had called my mom while waiting for Michael to show up and she sounded uncharacteristically chipper before 11, for someone who doesn't normally awaken before noon (she works night shift). Scooping me up at the stroke of 11, we made our way down to Cafe Estelle... I was sleepy and needed coffee desperately, my normal uncharming morning self. As we stepped out of the car and approached the door, I spotted Shanners just inside the door. Knowing I was about to be surprised I braced myself. A whole bunch of my friends had shown up for brunch... and then not 20 minutes later, my parents appeared. I did not see that one coming at all. A whole lot of love, gifting, coffee and cake mania gathered up together for me... courtesy Shanners, my mom and Michael all tirelessly planning my where and whenabouts for the weekend. It was a really great morning. I planned to meet up with a few other people later that night for drinks. Not having seen most of these people in months, it felt pretty spectacular.

singular © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday morning Michael and I set off to fulfill my very special birthday request... I asked for a house. For some weeks I had been eying up a house I spotted on my way to work. Sitting on a long stretch of road that was lined with abandoned houses, slated for development, at the top of a hill, wildly overgrown and hidden away. I stopped by one night after work to see if there was a way in, sure enough... though it was boarded at the front the back was hanging wide open. It was a huge white house with green trim, missing most of its windows, probably built in the 60s. From what little we found, it appeared to have been abandoned at an unknown date and attempts were made to renovate it and then they just kind of gave up on it. There was very little vandalism, and it didn't appear as though there had been squatters. The last family to reside there left in no hurry, most of their possessions left with them. They were awfully fond of their wallpaper. There were no less than 9 different wild patterns used in the house, most of which was sagging or had fallen completely and was making a paper waterfall down the main staircase. It was a grand house... it made me sad to think someone gave it up. If only I had the money to save it, I would in a heartbeat. I'm sure it was suffering from a bit of rot, but it seemed to be almost entirely stable throughout, aside from the bathrooms which had been pillaged for its copper piping fairly thoroughly. It was a blindingly hot day and we spent a few hours there, climbing over wallpaper and broken glass; I tested out my new camera. It was the most spectacular birthday weekend in memory.

tang © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

A few days after, one of the most-read arts/crafts/design blogs out there, ohjoy!, which happens to be based in Philly, wrote about the constructs. Since then I have seen about 8 other blogs following in her footsteps.... and the etsy sales have been flowing back in after a very long dry spell. The boost has brought incalculable eyes this way and I am very thankful... from what my stats tell me, about 600 hits to my portfolio website, and probably about 200 to my blog (hey I really needed a fresh post, obvs). Thank you so much Joy!!

{A few other equally exciting things led to this point, but until they come together, I will hold my tongue.}

Did I mention I've been beaming non-stop for days?

Yeah a lil bit...

Michael and I had to postpone our camping trip indefinitely, which we were planning for next week, so in lieu of getting earthy, we decided to hunt down Omar Little. We played tourist in B-More for a day this last weekend. I think the aquarium, while still fun, was most amazing in my childhood memories.

diving bell
diving bell © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

No longer are the dolphins out for all to see, hidden behind extra admission, no jellyfish, no bother cleaning up the glass so you can actually see the fish, once you fight your way through the irritable parents and the rowdy children. There were still delights... like a little kid, remembering the unbelievable things I used to know by heart about the more bizarre species on display.

thirds © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

On the advice of just about everyone, we visited the American Visionary Art Museum. Unfortunately they were between rotating exhibits, so they only had a smidgen of what they would normally have on display.

bedazzler © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved.

One piece in particular really struck me- a mental patient had embroidered her 'last will and testament' on a piece of fabric... what she had written was described as word salade, partially coherent text, mixed up with random words, accusations and names.... which is exactly what I have a prime example of here. To finally have a term for this abstract and otherwise indescribable thing, which apparently is fairly common, not the just language of Violet.

outsiders in
outsiders in © Laura Kicey. All Rights Reserved. Michael and I at the AVAM.

The next couple weeks hold at least one more exciting shoot, and more extensive explorations near my last conquest. Not to mention more Terrain action to come. Stay tuned.

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Anonymous Steve Cleff said...

Hi, Facebook told me we might know each other and we don't, but we have a bunch of friends in common. Anyway, I followed the link here from your profile there to see if I knew you and I was blown away by your photography! I love the pictures here and hope to see more in the future. Steve

7:43 AM, September 25, 2008  
Blogger helveticaneue said...

hi Steve! Thanks for the kind words. If you've ever been to a camp naked terror party chances are we've been in the same room at least. And if you haven't you're missing out! Thanks for stopping by!

9:40 AM, September 25, 2008  

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