So what the hell was that all about? The “Pardon Our Dust” thing?
I wanted to change up the look of my blog. I thought it needed some freshening.
I spent the last four days messing around with a new theme.
I dithered over palettes. I added new fonts.
I spent a lot of time trying teaching myself enough additional Illustrator to make a banner that with images I had made or chosen previously to symbolize the blog.
After a lot of trial and error, Googling and help chats, I finally figured out how to create a “clipping mask” in Illustrator to round the corners of the image I made of my face and shoulders, with the heart on the sleeve.
I wanted it round.
Mike liked my roundness.
I got mad about how much elements of the “Creative Cloud” that I wasn’t using cost.
Then I freaked out (hey, no project is truly complete without a little OCD smeared on!) about whether I’d still have the right to use the stuff I had previously created if I didn’t keep subscribing.
The (very nice and helpful, by the way – thanks Adobe) chat people said I can keep and use what I already downloaded and created. (Sorry, OCD, take a seat. Or a knee, as the case may be.)
Then, as I was scrolling through the blog with the new theme applied, to make sure I liked the (eleventy-hundreth) palette I had chosen, I noticed that all my “featured images” from past posts had disappeared.
Apparently, I neglected to notice where, if anywhere, there was space for a “featured image” in the new theme.
I’m fond of some my photos used as “featured images,” and refer to them occasionally as “that picture up there” in the posts where they appear; I didn’t want to spend weeks going back to putting them wherever they might fit in the new theme.
Which made me take another look and realize that new theme was a bit too cutesy or “whimsical” to encase my content on grief and loss, despite some other content that is funny. Or that tries to be.
Back to “2016.”
When I switched back, I remembered the reasons I chose 2016 in the first place.
It has elements I want and doesn’t confuse me with stuff I don’t need.
And Mike died in 2016.
Which reminded me that, when I started the blog, I chose the “2016” theme as a way to keep Mike close while trying a new thing without him, missing him.
So good things came of the whole manic, circular, redesigning exercise.
I got new art that I made myself, even though I’m a total amateur as a designer. I won’t have to settle for banner images I don’t like much, anymore.
I learned more about using tools I’d have to use if I ever need to modify that art again.
I tweaked things a little – a slightly modified color here or there. I’m not even sure exactly what I changed, anymore. But during the process I learned which parts of the “palettes” go where, and where I can use a custom color.
I got the pleasure of days filled with creative flow: that feeling you get when you are working on something you care about, and you forget what time it is and you only think about how to make your project better and get it right.
I also got to remember my Dad with gratitude. He taught me to apply reason to observation to solve a problem, accomplish a task, fix things that are broken or assemble things that are new.
He called that process “using your bean.”
Dad enabled me to “use my bean” to accomplish something I didn’t know how to, but very much wanted, to do.
Dad also had an expression, usually uttered with sly determination and a not a little glee, while forging ahead down an unknown country road or pressing on through eight inches of recent snow on less-than-optimal tires: “We’re takin’ her through!” he’d say.
I don’t remember ever getting stuck, when Dad was driving.
And then finally, it all came back to Mike, whose bravery and generosity in the last weeks of his life were breathtaking, heartbreaking and inspiring. Memories of Mike and of 2016 were, and still are, central to helping me move forward, fight my fears and carry on. They help me “take her through.” I’m grateful for the bittersweet reminder of him whenever I think about my blog’s “theme,” in both content and design.
So, “redecorating” my blog turned into a pretty good Harold.
Still climbing life’s spiral staircase, I remain,
Your clumsily creative, sometimes manic, mostly anxious but still takin’ her through,