Saturday, January 30


I woke up this morning to a rousing rendition of the neighbors singing "If you're happy and you know it, stomp your feet! stomp, stomp!" with their kids. We can often hear them through the walls. They do not know this. (The mom does a great dinosaur roar.)

An unexpected snowfall began in late afternoon. And it's still going. It's lovely.

Studio-work today was accompanied by Miss Marple, played by Joan Hickson, on VHS. I love that woman. And I love my studio space heater.

Horsemanship 101 begins tomorrow. The stable e-mailed me and recommended layers and lots of wool. I hope I don't freeze to death. Or till I cry. That would be embarrassing. I'd better bring those little hand warmer thingies my dad always gives me at Christmas. I know I have some around here somewhere.

In fact, I might slip some in my boots. It's gonna be bitter out there.

Hope you're having some adventures this weekend, too.

Friday, January 29

fortified with fudge

It was an errands type of day today. I wrote my lists, got my travel tea mug ready, popped in my audiobook, and turned on my car seat heaters.  Because it's 23* here before the wind chill.  This afternoon I hit all the little places I've not gotten to lately: I found a mirror for the bathroom at the thrift shop, got cat litter (Mimi's been saying it's time,) stocked up on Joe's O's at Trader Joe's (among other essentials), picked up a year's worth of back issues of Art In America at the library for a quarter apiece, stopped by the gallery to measure the bathroom window for the curtain I'm sewing, oh, and got some vegan peanut butter fudge at Whole Foods. Now that was really important.

I made sure to bring lots of water and some fruit, because, I don't know about you, but usually when I'm out, I don't stop to eat. I just keep going, keep pushing. And then I arrive home fried. Because there's always one more thing to stop and do. And I can usually eke it out.

But not today. Today I ate. Today I rested. Today I had fudge.

And I feel great.

I also brought home a little stuffed Pooh-bear for Lucy from the thrift shop, which Donovan promptly stole and is upstairs grooming right now. Lucy can't wait to get it back so she can chew the eyes off (she does that right away) and tug its shirt off. Sigh.

Thursday, January 28

Tees and cinnamon

January 7, 2009, from my journal:

"I saw men rock-climbing at Livezey Rock with two dogs, a bottle of champagne, and half a chocolate cake.

A woman, older, opening her car door, to release a burst of perfume almost visible, almost palpable. Little glass lamps in the coffeeshop window throwing white spots onto the walls. Me in a tee, warm enough out for a tee - reading, Tim on his laptop, drinking a french press. We're planning tonight's dinner - we have to walk home - we walked here.

I had so many ideas in bed last night - almost got up to journal, but laid there, thinking, with deep clarity, thought following thought."

Today, a little over a year later, Tim and I also walked to the coffeeshop. It started snowing as we turned the corner down from the house. I wasn't wearing only a tee. And I don't buy caffeinated things there anymore: I get a big vanilla steamer sprinkled liberally with cinnamon. I brought The Artist's Way to work on. And we sat in the back, near the windows, just how we like.

Then we walked home, and I cleaned up my studio, which has been a mess. I got a postcard ready to send to a friend, and sent a clipping on a Backyard Chickens class off to my sister. I wrestled with the cat over who gets to sit in the chair. She won. I moved all my bubble wrap to the basement, and made a few lists. I popped in a Foyle's War DVD, and ate some chocolate chip cookies, and messed around with my sewing machine.

I really like these evenings in the studio.

And my life is still as interesting and complex and fun as it was last year around this time.

Which is good.

Wednesday, January 27

seven things

  • Tea steaming, awaiting drinking.
  • Watched Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring last evening with Tim. A Korean film: very good. Very, very good.
  • Still figuring out my SX-70 camera, but it's mainly a love relationship.
  • Joy joy joy joy; Sun's out, thank the Gods.
  • Big plans for the studio today. I've been messing around with my sewing machine, sewing collages and just trying to have some fun. Not necessarily trying to make stuff to sell. Just trying to have fun and tap into my gut and work a little from that space, and not so much from the esoteric, serious space.
  • I could've kicked myself last night: I went to my Sugar-Free Baking class without my camera. This is something I must not do. We work on a large stainless steel table and everything looks like a still life on it: the bags of flours, the teaspoons, the spills, the colors. Last night we did a blind tasting of five sweeteners: malt barley, honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, and rice syrup.  The teacher had dollops of them in varying glasses: a couple of wine glasses, a shot glass, and the like. That little setup, with the different shaped glassware, the silver teaspoons lolling in each glass, the varying colors...And I hadn't brought my camera. That kind of thing really kills me.
  • I have a couple of big fat prisms hanging in the downstairs window, and in the morning the sun streams through them and bathes the room in rainbows, which slowly move around and lay on different objects, and sometimes me or the cat. They always make me smile.

Sunday, January 24

attend opening? check.

Whereabouts, beeswax and books

Going to the openings of exhibitions I am in terrifies me. (Okay, maybe terrify is a teeny bit strong. But only a teeny.) Especially if Tim can't go cause he's working. Like Saturday night. Oh, the crowds, the small-talk, the crowds. Crowds are not my thing. But the people-watching makes it all worth it. Like the lady tonight who pushed by me, muttering, "I have to get a glass of wine." Or the memorable woman in the thigh-high slitted black dress and stilletos. And she wasn't young. I found a seat and watched people's shoes for a while. Two people tripped over a floor sculpture. A pair of black over-the-knee stilleto boots walked by. An elderly man plopped down next to me and stated that he couldn't find his wife. She finally showed up a few minutes later wearing a fabulous necklace and wanting her picture taken by her painting. He plodded off. A black sequin jacket walked by. A bunch more fabulous necklaces walked by. This went on for about an hour. Hundreds of people packed the room. I was kept very busy people-watching and sipping at my Pellegrino.

I finally had to go up to the podium and accept a prize for my sculpture. I left almost immediately after this, and as I was looking for my coat, I overheard someone say, "There were so many different ages of people accepting awards! That one girl was really young." Then I stepped out of the coatroom, wrestling my sweater on, and her friend (who looked about my age) looked at me and said, "Her!"

Now, I'm 32. And I get that all the time. (I last got it 6 days ago in my cooking class.) And it always surprises me. Oh, I know I'll love it when I'm old. But for now, I'm just surprised. I spent a lot of time, blood, sweat and tears to get to where and who I am now, and to have about a decade knocked off my age, well, it's kind of funny. It rather leaves me breathless. I admit I haven't decided whether it's a marvelous thing or a diss. I feel like I'm a happy 32 inside.

So it was on the tip of my tongue to blurt out, "I'm 32." But I smiled and murmured thank you, even though I really wanted to know how old she thought I was, and why. Is it my exceedingly youthful gait? My unwrinkled skin? (ha.) My slight chipmunk cheeks? (that's my guess.)

I may never know.

Here's to keeping up the mystery.

Saturday, January 23

a bushel of fun

I've been thinking about Tim. It's not his birthday or anything. But he does work a 12-hour shift as a nurse and that means that when he leaves in the afternoon, I don't see him till I wake up the next morning. So I'm bound to think about him every so often as I drift about the house and hunker down in the studio. Last night I was lying awake in bed, something that often happens because I need to stop reading exciting books just before I turn the lights out, and I was appreciating my buckwheat pillow. It's a pillow filled with buckwheat hulls which form and arrange to your head and neck and it gives wonderful support. At least, mine would if it weren't huge, and didn't weigh 17 pounds. A 17 pound pillow. That's right.

A few years back I gave Tim a surprise buckwheat pillow for his birthday. It was 11 pounds. A manageable size. Very pleasant. A size that's easily dealt with when one is half-asleep and needs to rearrange one's pillow. So Tim decided to surprise me with a buckwheat, and perhaps thinking if enough is good, more is better, chose the hefty 17 pounder. This is more the size that makes one think one is in bed with a bull seal when one awakens at 2:12am needing to rearrange one's pillow. I finally scooped out two (large) Ziploc bags full of hulls and it is now a delightful pillow. The pillow it was meant to be. The pillow my neck dreamed of.  And we have lots of extra hulls in the closet, just in case we might need them for anything someday.

This is the same man who, the other morning, picked a handful of Brazil nuts out of his cereal and, walking over to the cutting board, laid them there, saying, "I don't like these." I think he thought they might disappear. Like the cutting board had a transport pad.

This is also the same man who, while in a lobster restaurant in Nova Scotia with yours truly, perfectly imitated Donovan, our rottweiler, choking on a piece of branch, (this is something I ask him to do sometimes) to the alarm of all the surrounding booths. Do not imitate choking in a lobster restaurant in Nova Scotia. Ever. That one can still bring me to tears, bless him.

This is the man who, one night while camping in a rather spooky field in Belgium, (again, I need to stop with the reading before bed) unexpectedly surprised me by pulling two wine glasses from his pack, along with a bottle of red, which he had been carting around secretly for 3 days. The glasses were perfect little balloons. Let me add that when you are carrying a pack around for months on end, usually extra weight is not tolerated. Like a bottle of wine. Neither are delicate objects, like little balloon glasses. But he did it. And I loved it.

This is the man who spent hours following the leafcutter ants around when we visited Costa Rica.

The man who calls me to the upstairs porch to look at the sunset.

He can juggle snowballs.

And every afternoon on our Colorado trip, he whipped up some delicious cashew butter & jam sandwhiches. He has a very interesting method. I learned a lot.

He's also great at grilling things. And he's good at getting Lucy to imitate the Sphinx.

Mimi loves him.

And Donovan trusts him implicity when confronting waves.

In fact, both dogs are really crazy about him. Especially since he lets them on the couch. Bad Tim. Bad.

Strange babies love him.

He's also really good at throwing snowballs in just a certain way, so Donovan gets really contorted catching them and I can laugh myself silly.

And every time I say, "Babe, can you please turn down the music/film/radio/etc.," he promptly turns it down. (I think he's a teeny bit deaf from all the years of concerts without earplugs: I, on the other hand, carry them at all times in my bag. I wore a pair just the other day when I went to see the the River Dance Chicago troupe.) We both know it's important to protect my delicate eardrums so their keen sensitivity will still be useful when we are old and living in a cabin by a lake, so I can listen for bear when I let the dogs out last thing at night.

Protecting my hearing is really important to me. And he's totally on board with that.

He's actually totally on board with a lot of odd things I do.

Because he's a good sport.


Friday, January 22

san fran slides/ mom's

butterflies and desire

I got back downtown to the Academy of Natural Science the other afternoon. There are a lot of creepy stuffed animals there in sort of large dioramas. Those I don't like much. But they have a little butterfly garden area inside with lots of butterflies and moths from exotic places (as in, not native.)  And let me tell you, the guy who works there is being wasted. Butterfly Mike really ought to be living in Costa Rica or Ecuador and getting to really live the life instead of living in a small room stuffed with lantana, spouting wonderful stories (about rogue wasps who unexpectedly emerge from chrysalises and must be popped into the deep freeze) and rolling Latin names off his tongue to anyone who makes it past the stuffed polar bear and musk oxen and to the live butterfly rooms.  Once there, one's coat must come off.  It's a hearty 80-something with clouds of mist blowing around. The Blue Morphos are careening by on shocking wings. Rotting bananas are delectably set around in various spots to tempt the little guys to take a rest so I can stare.  Apparently there are no plants there that match any of the species' laying plants, since they're not native and aren't supposed to breed. As in, the lovelies spend all of their 1-3 weeks of life drumming around, looking for their plant upon which to lay their eggs and feel fulfilled. Only, they never find it cause it isn't there. I found this rather poignant. I also found poignant the examples of mother-of-pearl shells made into buttons, a fashion in the 1920's which almost wiped out those little shell-dwellers, the (um, stuffed) baby panda, and the area of stuffed endangered animals. Stuffed endangered animals.  Hmm.

Thank goodness for Butterfly Mike.

Wednesday, January 20

when do you pause?

"When do you pause? When do you paint or pant? When write family, loll on moss, hear Mozart and watch the glitter of the sea?"

-Paul Child, from My life in France by Julia Child

Tuesday, January 19

a look at the fam

I went to my mom's yesterday to try out some of her camera lenses with my camera. Of course, when there, in between being followed around and stepped on by Lucy, figuring out those tricky lenses, and dealing with that strange disembodied feeling that I feel at the house where I grew through teenagehood, I came upon mom's slide carousels. 13 of them. All packed with old slides of Gramom and Poppop's trips out west and to Maine, my mom's life in San Francisco, my parent's wedding (magenta velvet) and various other tidbits of our family and life and travels throughout the past half-century. I lugged them all home and spent all evening scanning slides. Along the way, I found some oddities. You know, slides that are kind of...hmmm. As follows.

That may be my father but I don't really think so. I know he can't do splits.

But that is my mom on the right, with the family that she moved to San Francisco with. Notice both the poodle and the kid on leashes as they move smoothly through the airport.

Here is my mom again, feeding squirrels on the moon.

That must have been around the time Gramom went to the moon. In a lime green suit. I love this. I'm pretty sure this is actually the Petrified Forest. But still. Lime green suit.

And then there's this drunken sailor. I mean, me. This is at our cabin. I'm balefully chewing on something, wearing a fishing cap, without pants on. Hmm. Must've been quite a day. 

But my favorite find: 
My snazzy mom.

In purple velour. 

Monday, January 18

to-do list (done.)

I understand the benefits of to-do lists. I really do. I have one or a few going at all times. (And for some reason I like to bite the corners off. I think that's called pica.) But sometimes it's good for me to hearken back to my "done" lists. Just to see if/that I did something.  Let's take a gander over the past year:

Set up and stock Etsy shop. Done.

Find Volvo V70 XC wagon. Tangle with used car salesman and win. Done.

Road trip to Venice, Florida, (where I grew up) with Tim & dogs in Wednesday, my Volvo V70. Drive way too far each day to make it. Show Tim his first gator in the wild. Done.

Take a trip to Woodstock, NY, to meet friend, Somer, halfway between our states for a weekend of fun. See a bear. Surprise a man who's getting the business done on his front parts on a supposedly empty mountain-top trail. Dance weird hiking dance. Done.

Solo road trip to Narcisse Snake Dens, Manitoba, Canada, to see the snakes awaken from hibernation. Try to do headstand. Stay in a tiny room over a noisy bar one night with locked door. Scribble furiously in journal. Done.

Organize three-person show at Orchard Artworks. Make lots of new work for show. Attend opening. Done.

Grow lots of veggies in garden. Meet Tim for dinner in backyard often to grill said veggies and sit by chiminea at dusk with fireflies. Done.

Get an exhibition agreement with the Art Association of Harrisburg for a solo show in 2011. Done.

Finish 4' long paper snake sculpture Search. Done.

Road trip & camping with Tim & dogs through Blue Ridge Mountains. Swim in Shenandoah River for an afternoon. Enjoy beautiful vistas while waiting for the dogs to do their business. Done.

Trip to Colorado with Tim. Go to Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Drive around. See a fox in downtown Boulder. Stay a few days extra by myself: go to Rocky Mountain National Park. See elk. Done.

Exhibit at Perkins Center for the Arts, NJ. Done.

Sell paper sculpture The Conversation to Jersey City Museum for their permanent collection. Done.

Order business cards. Done.

Purchase red Danskos. Done.

Finish 42" high paper sculpture latitude longitude, which was begun in December 2007 by self-given deadline of December 2009. Exruciating, but Done.

Find SX-70 Polaroid Land camera. Win vicious, sweat-producing bidding war on ebay for this item. Score! Done.

Purchase D90 camera. Go B & H Photo. Done.

Exhibit at Philadelphia's City Hall. Twice. Done.

Go get acupuncture for the first time ever. Done.

Win sculpture prize for paper and wax sculpture Whereabouts at Woodmere Art Museum. Done.

Go thrifting all year like a madwoman. Done.

Start collecting Pyrex. Done.

Sign up for local Basic Horsemanship class. Done.

Start stock-piling Polaroid film. Done.

Order postcards of some of my photos for my shop. Fun and Done.

Bite the bullet and just take that hot bath every day once weather turns cold. Load bath with essential oils and burn my bum every fourth bath. Done.

Sign up for Sugar-free Baking class. Done.

Sign up for Detox Foods class. Done. 

Discover Green & Black's dark chocolate with cherries, with ginger, with just about anything. I'll eat it. Done.

Whew! Looking back at all of that, it's hard to remember that at times I feel I'm not doing enough. Goodness. Gracious. Me.