Saturday, October 31, 2009

Spirits on the Land

Can you feel it? All around me the earth is slowing down, tucking in for a long rest. Only the spiders and spores and decomposition are active, bringing an end to the gift that was summer of 2009. Halloween always feels like the end to me. If I could choose, I would say that New Year's Day should fall on November 1st as that is the day the clocks turn the wrong way for an hour and we begin something altogether new. And strange.

I am behind. Deadlines I cannot meet. So far traction has eluded me as I try to catch up on all that I've neglected all year. Friends I want to visit, e-mails I've stashed in various folders and then forgotten to answer. I am writing myself a note of forgiveness for all of that and moving forward. I will catch up eventually. I plan to. I mean to. In the meantime, read this.

Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew on a button.

Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll's tiny shoes in pairs, don't worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.

Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.

Don't sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.

Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

~louise erdrich

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Coming November 1st

Not available on my news stand until Monday so I haven't read the article yet but there is much excitement among the girls; Olga is having fits because she wasn't chosen for the front pages - you know what divas performers can be. Skylar is pawing the ground to see if his picture has been included and I am just happy that the little troupe of hams, I mean players, get to go out into the world and say hello.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Journalfest 2009

Last Wednesday, after a great overnight visit from Stephanie and Vince, we all threw our stuff in our various cars and headed north to Port Townsend, Washington, for Journalfest, along with approximately 130 other journal addicts from all over the world.

What greeted me there was gorgeous Pacific Northwest marine weather, dancing rainbows, autumn leaves and plenty of idle time to play in my journal. Time out from bills, telephones, the routine of home.

Where I could admire the books others had made, exchange ideas and form friendships.

Where I could learn about and buy a mobile PoGo printer made by Polaroid. Danger; this could give you the wants.

Where I could take classes from somebody else for a change and not have to ship boxes or schlepp packets or have a teaching on my mind. It was a wonderful holiday.

Teesha had a great band in the Commons to play for us on the last night and lots of wine to drink. We scribbled, laughed, sashayed to the music and had a perfectly delightful time.

I got to take a class from Anahata and try out all her techniques. I've never had to buy a pizza cutter for class supplies before.

Anahata is a great teacher, a great designer and a nice person. I feel so lucky to have gotten this class with her.

I also took a class from Theo Ellsworth who taught me against my expectations that I do not lack the doodling gene. I started from the middle of the above image and worked my way outward until it started looking fishy and then smiled happily at what had emerged under my pen.

Theo is writing a book entitled "The Quiet Family" about his family of thoughtful introverts. I laughed that I came from the loud family and did the drawing above to illustrate my thought. It was really fun. Maybe I should have been a cartoonist. he he.
On the last day I took a class from my comadre, Alex Shur. I've long been curious about her watercolor technique of finding critters in the soup. The thing that is so weird is that the critters look nothing like anything you've drawn in the past. Check out Lyle Lovett.

And then this entire menagerie of rodents, rabbits and whatzits. This is not how I draw!

A chicken with a hand coming out of its butt. And a Greek matron eating an olive.

An angel with only one wing.

Mercury, with unruly hair blowing smoke out his mouth. Strange stuff but fun too.

One of the coolest things I saw at Journalfest was a small, thick journal made by a woman who had filled over 500 of such books with her magical paintings. She shared with me that she just made an accordian style book and then glued on a fabric spine so I made one this morning to show you guys. In the photo above I'm folding strips of 4" wide Fabriano Roma paper like an accordian.

Then I affix the backs of the folds with a dab of ATG tape so the pages won't bulge out when they get wet.

The last thing I do is root around in my fabric scraps for a piece that calls out to me and I glue that with heavy gel medium to the spine of the book.

This is what the book looks like when it is all glued and dry. You can see the wad of thick gel that holds the pages to the fabric in the back. This is exactly the way paperback books are bound except the folded papers make it much, much stronger. Easy squeezy.

And now I'm home for the winter; eating ripe persimmons and drinking cups of hot tea. I have a big list of projects I hope to complete and a strong desire to cook more so I'll pop in and out as my mood dictates. Thanks for stopping by and thanks to all who touched my heart at Journalfest. We are a special community, we writers and paper lovers. It's good to share the love.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Harvest & Journalfest

Today my work list is a mile long but it's my last chance to post before leaving for Journalfest so here I am; scattered but earnest in my effort to procrastinate and avoid getting down to business. We'll start with recent journal pages. Here I've cut some new stencils, rubber stamps, and well, you know. The usual fun stuff.

The journal is often a reflection of the mind. Big, tangled thoughts; dreams mixed with reality.

Experiments and records.


Holding on to what is precious. The things you wish you could carry with you always.

I've also been shooting willy-nilly around the garden and house. John is busy with the harvest. Above is the strange roots on his blue corn.

We got an amazingly large harvest off the tall corn that he thought would never ripen and last night we visited our friends from Oaxaca who taught us how to parch the corn on the grill. It was soooo good, tasting just like corn nuts only more tender and without all the salt and oil. Now John is all heated up to make nixtamal and grind his own corn for tortillas.

The beautiful Federley tomato.

Black figs from the tree. They are so beautiful; I love figs and pomegranates for being so guarded of their beauty. Sex-ay!

A bumper crop of peppers drying in the warm garage.

My favorite variety of squash. No butter needed. Tastes like pumpkin pie. (we bake them in a pyrex pan with a little water)

Tomatillos for the green salsa.

Last year the squirrels got all the walnuts but this year we had fewer squirrel families and a bumper crop of walnuts as a result.

This is a thistle flower from an artichoke plant. It is as big as your palm. I wrote a poem after seeing a bee squirming around in the blossom. Here it is:

Meditation on that bee
threading halleluias
through the
lilac thistle blossoms
trailing prayer flags
whispering grace
and amen.

Thank you for humoring me. See you in a week or so.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sculpy Dolls

Hey, well, no posts for a week and then two in one day; it's feast or famine around here. I've been making dolls again.

I admit that posting the photos of student work inspired me to get out the clay. That and the fact that it's the first moment I've had in the studio. I hardly knew where to start with so many ideas twirling around vying for attention. Finally I settled down though and made a body for the demo head I started in the class at Art & Soul.

I've named her Bianca and she is very special to me. With chenille from a student (thanks Chris!) I fashioned white polka dots for her. With me it's either dots or stripes. In this case dots.

And then along came this one which I have named Green for my own reasons. It's Green's Birthday in a day or two and so she and Bianca are going to go to their favorite Thai restaurant and then eat ice cream afterward. They like to do that.

Green is a warrior; very strong and brave. She has known Bianca for many years and Bianca admires her.

I was going to give her a superhero cape but Green shrugged it off and settled for the helmet instead.

Bianca is more of a conformist than Green is; she likes to hide in sheep's clothing.

She is loving Oregon's mild weather so far this autumn and even heard tree frogs croaking outside. She plans on staying cozy this winter in her fuzzy coat of wool. Chenille. Whatever.

Happy Birthday, Green. This one's for you. xo

Beach Fog

I'm blaming my foggy state of mind on the recent family trip to Pacific City. Each day there I moved slower than the previous day. Now that I am home my gear is stuck in "do nothing". I'm trying to ignore computerland until I get my speed up again. After such an all-out summer it's to be expected.

John and I playing in the sand; listening to the crashing waves, smelling the fresh, salt air, seeing the surging rollers that somehow empty the mind of all cares, thoughts, memories.

We played games and ate lavish meals.

Danced on the beach at daybreak and sunset.

Read a little.

Took long beach walks.

Ran the dogs.

Acted silly.

Emptied of all pesterments.

Safely in the arms of Mother earth. Oh, how perfect is a day by the sea.