Wednesday, December 31, 2008

my bold new year's resolution last year hasn't yet been accomplished, so I've decided to try again this year.

a solo show. perhaps everything I make in a year, or a month, or up until now, or about a particular theme.

no sense getting too detailed at this point of the plan.

at the moment, I'm deciding between green tea and earl grey.

but, if it comes to that, I've got shows ready to hang. this isn't a difficult thing to do, when you make things out of whatever you happen to come across, for whatever odd and solitary particular reasons.

and then there's that whole conversation to be had about what constitutes a show, exactly. or solo. I'm not a rock nor an island, however hard and isolated I feel at times. and communication brushes distance and time aside, learning takes place when the teacher or the student isn't even aware of the passing back and forth of possibility.

anyway. a to-do list, then. or a might-do, could-do list.

Monday, December 29, 2008


for snow, for christmas, for grandpa and big sister, caught in the storm. one of the last rooms at the holiday inn, a half hour and yet three long days away.

chains! two sets the right size! and a break in the weather. and my husband, the christmas hero, bringing home the best gift.

snowmen, a melting fort in the shape of a heart, icicles, seemingly endless wet boots and snowpants draped over heat registers or hung over curtain rods. decorated gingerbread from a kit. lavishly, lovingly sprinkled sugar cookies made from scratch and a nice madagascar bourbon vanilla, a tablespoon where a teaspoon was called for.

friends over, lights, candles, more baking, an unexpected parcel from faraway, and underneath it all the sweet pine sighing scent of the tree cut to fit the corner.

small house and six people plus two cats, cold nights with cheerful fires and then rain, melting the snow, and happysad goodbyes, and waiting now, again.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

so tonight I didn't tell my daughter the story of persephone.

but as she was asking once again (she loves fruit) for some pomegranate seeds, I mentioned the story, as if in passing, and she said, oh is there a story about pomegranates, how interesting.

the other day my smallest daughter passed the phone (she was talking to her oldest faraway sister) to her middle sister, saying, my sister will be speaking next. very much like an adult, in her tone, though the words made the older sister (my once only daughter) and me laugh.

I had two wire holders a friend gave me. meant to hold the lids from plastic food containers. one holds our saucepan lids and the other holds the boots upside down over the heat register, we've had a few days of snow and melting and today the girls took it into their heads to be snow cheetahs, or that's the story I got, and go barefoot in the snow. they won't do that again. I hate my feet! (screamed the younger of the bootless, sockless, silly creatures) I want them tooken off!

god help me, I laughed. but not openly until later. I expect they've learned their lesson now, and they still have all their toes. so it was a pretty full day. and now bread's been baked (not my own dough, just thawed white bread dough left to rise on the counter and bake while the grinch stole christmas again) and the house is tidy. no school again tomorrow, no school until the first week of january.

Monday, December 15, 2008

it was too cold today and tonight to spend much time in the shed.

so I didn't get to work on the coffee shrine as I'd hoped to. oh well. it's good to have projects.

my mother, quoting someone (I think), said that in order to be happy you needed to have three things: someone to love, something to do and something to look forward to.

she was often unhappy. I wish that hadn't been the case. I'd say it's to blame for a large part of my own sadness. the part I'm not responsible for, of course. because once I recognize it as a tendency, however much the getting of it was not my choice, the continuing of it certainly is.

but then again, it occurred to me earlier tonight that as I allow myself to be made uncomfortable (depair or giddiness) by the extremes, the middle becomes broader somehow, like a hammocking sort of effect. perhaps it's the wild swinging back and forth, wearing a groove in the soft middle like path, or a nest.

anyway. I took some cameraphone pictures of the coffee shrine last night. so I've posted those, in case it amuses you to see them.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

so I looked up behooved. it was sort of what I had meant.

I mean, at the time I wrote it, I thought it, so I meant it in that sense.

(though the dictionary definition - and granted I didn't dig too far for alternate definitions and did only the minimum as far as etymological research. so what I mean I suppose, or mean I thought I meant, or-

uh huh. pardon the confusion, I'm beside myself, waiting to catch another glimpse of the raccoons that showed up beside the shed around eleven or so last night. sneaky buggers, but fat with whatever croaking creatures they had stuffed themselves with, coming to top off an almost-midnight snack with a dessert of dried then rain-softened brown bread, thrown out two days ago to rest obliquely on the hunks of dirt slowly sculpting or being sculpted, the ones I had plans for but no energy to move the plans towards any sort of fruition.)

the way the word has been defined in the past didn't completely suit my use of it in the present, that's what I might have been meaning to say a paragraph ago. I choose to call that art rather than error, or impulse rather than affectation of metaphor, or simile, no, metaphor. simile uses like or as.

so anyway, I got lost in the first bit, but whatever. raccoons came last night, behooved is a cool word, I made up a poem in the shed that begins

he behooved me.

there's more, but it's not ready to type yet. phrases have been coming to me for some time, years now, I've got notebooks full. lately I've been keeping better track, writing down more, remembering more. though other times my memory is hazy. I blame that on having to do not only my own remembering, but the reminding for three other people.

so I'll probably write more poems in bits and pieces, and then when there's quiet and a need to write, or cut and glue, or rip and turn over and paint through with food colouring mixed with water and glue, and tell stories inside my head, I'll make books. seems like a good occupation for winter nights. and if I start printing (and maybe drawing/painting on) some of my photographs, and cutting and ripping up my drawings and paintings, I'll have plenty of illustrations.

so what if it takes forever, or a week and then it's on to the next thing. at the moment, I see it, this possible bookmaking future, and it seems appropriate and sensible, a good use of my time, as much as any other, unless any other becomes necessary.

tonight I lit a candle in that three legged (now no-legged) lantern a friend gave me, and hung it in the window of the shed, because the screen another friend gave me, the screen that was hung with clothespins in the window keeping out some of the wind and rain was dusty and is currently being washed by the rain that softened the bread the raccoons started to eat last night before I gently clicked and shuffled to let them know I was there, and then, when all they did was look at me and wonder what sort of odd, lumpy lumbering creature was suddenly and erroneously in their restaurant, then I shuffled louder and chucked at them, and they chose to let me walk back to the house in some privacy, while they waited almost patiently in the bamboo.

two of the houses on my quiet

(ish. there are kids all over, of course. and leafblowers and heat pumps.)

dead-end street are for sale. the one across the street that the bank is selling, and the one beside us that the man is selling, his (ex?) wife gone, the foundations on the new house barely dug.

now is the time to be who I am. I want, after all, to attract new people as good as the people I am currently blessed with. I love my little neighbourhood. I'm so glad we found it, the girls are growing up as closely as I can imagine possible to the way I did, except for the sad distance of my own family, and my husband's.

so I have to work harder to keep those connections this year. there's a family history wanting to be written, that's another thing.

but anyway. I'd love to have kind, well-mannered, free-thinking

(and my definition of free-thinking includes belief in whatever, if the belief is considered and practiced, and not just inherited and spoken)

new neighbours in the new year. in case my wants are being taken into consideration, you know.

(and if they're not, oh well. there's always bamboo. grows like lightning, except it's much more subtly invasive. subversive, you could say, if you wanted to. a subversion of bamboo. my collective noun of the day.)

Friday, December 12, 2008

and another. (prototype, I mean.)

I figure seeing as how I bought the thing, and used it until it was no longer functioning the way it was intended to

(though I could have managed the low-tech way we've been making coffee, my husband wanted a new coffeemaker, and I must admit that though he got one too tall to fit under the cupboard and I had to move it to another counter, it's a nice machine, very slick but easy to use and pretty, as coffeemakers go.)

and of course it'll never decompose, or at least not in my lifetime

(how long does it take metal and plastic to do that? does it ever? it must. I mean, metal will rust, and maybe the plastic will get brittle and break and turn into powder but seriously, that's got to take some time.)

it behooves me.

(I think. I'm not clear on behooving.)

it behooves me to make something out of it and what better thing to do than use the filter basket as a basket

(with some modifications, sandpaper, paint, wire or at least that's what came to mind, I haven't started it yet, might never, but I'm pretty sure I will)

and the rest of it

(for the time being. it's got parts. I love things with parts. and I have one of those little starry screwdrivers. I'm curious to see what's inside the machine.)

will become a shrine to coffee, which someone in some little coffeeshop might fall in love with. maybe I'll get free coffee out of the deal. anything's possible, in theory, even impossibility, I suppose.

just a cameraphone picture for now. the carafe part of the coffemaker is gone, I didn't act quickly enough to save it, which is a shame. I would have liked to fill it with various things and take pictures of it. oh well. so there's just a little clay bowl and candle sitting on the hotplate, a very simple sort of shrine. and the basket's still attached, that'll change, and free up some space. there are holes, of course, where the hot water used to drip through. I expect wire will go there, with something or some things hung on it. melted pieces of plastic, possibly.

dave, I hope you don't mind, but I've melted some of the light filter samples. they're quite pretty. something in between butterflies and autumn leaves. pictures of those to come at some point.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

consider it a prototype.

lightpainted alphabet on bliptv

easy to upload, anyway, and it plays, though it's giving me some sort of error message about metadata. persnickety.

tonight I might read the imovie manual and find out why my pictures were cropped. too big? some odd setting I have to adjust? no matter. I'm out of new things to read, "the week" and "the nation" won't be here for a few days, and it's either the imovie manual or the manual for the new coffeemaker.

did I mention that, that the old one stopped working? we waited until this payday to replace it, so we've been boiling water and pouring it through the swung out filter basket, with the pot sitting on the tile counter beside the non-functioning unit, the coffee cooling quickly. which has been fine, not as easy as filling the thing and flipping the switch and waiting for that throaty cheery gurgle, but still. it's not chopping wood and hauling water. and without the pot sitting on the hotplate there's not that awful (to me) old coffee smell. I turn the coffeemaker off as soon as I can, preferring to drink the stuff cold or reheated rather than cooked. but my husband has a less sensitive nose and palate for some things.

and now a nice relatively simple new white general electric digital coffeemaker sits on the counter, and the old one has been rescued from the trash bin. I don't care what he says, a shrine is what it's going to become. he just doesn't share my particular vision, and that's fine. otherwise there'd be the two of us, saving pieces of junk from the landfill as if me turning it into something else is anything other than buying it a little more time.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

the light-painted alphabet. my first imovie.

and I haven't worked out exactly how to use it. I have two manuals. it's possible I may consult them at some point. I've looked at a few help files, but I'd rather figure it out and occasionally dip into the manual and have the two kinds of learning intersect than click on links, I try to limit my computer time, it hurts me to type too much but oh I love seeing the words come up, I won't deny it. I wonder if a typewriter might be better? handwriting is good but not as easily shared, though I suppose I could write and take cameraphone pictures and send right to my email or right to the blog I suppose, can I do that? I must be able to do that.

not that it matters.

anyway. so some of the pictures got cropped by some other authority than my own, I don't know what happened. most of these looked more like letters. but like I said, the next batch is better. I'm really enjoying this whole experiment.

Oh! my eight year old is all excited because her class is doing a section on native american culture and today she did some weaving, and had tips for me if I ever wanted to consider trying it, and also that she learned to say a phrase that meant thank you for letting me be here.

it was a sweet mothering moment, so I'm surprising everyone with cinnamon buns in the morning. my seven year old's been rumpelstiltskin lately. but we had a good talk today (I've been rumpelstiltskin's mother, apparently, and where do you think he learned his rude and selfish behaviour from?) and I think the talk will sink in both ways and do some good. the house smells wonderful, the cinnamon buns (frozen bread dough, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins, rising in the bundt pan a friend gave me) are perfuming the whole house, and in the morning I'll make a cream cheese glaze, and tomorrow's payday and I'm going to buy a bag of gravel and a can of paint and a new paintbrush, so I get to go to the hardware store and check to see if the cat is sleeping on top of the sandpaper. and they have candy, chewy sugary spearmint leaves. and it's thursday, the best day of the week, situated just perfectly between the industry of monday and the relaxation of sunday.


the movie will have to be a link in the next post. for some reason since switching to this mac, I don't get an add video option on my posts, just spelling and image and preview. it's inconvenient. so I'll have to figure that out, or post it elsewhere and then post that link.

(teacher, can I hand it in tomorrow?)

Friday, December 5, 2008

so I've got six pieces of art made of reclaimed materials in a show & sale in a very cool little gallery.

and even though this sounds hopelessly goofy and over-dramatic (me? histrionic? never!) I must admit that the night before I took them in, I held one of them and broke helplessly into tears, and rocked it like it was a child, which of course it is.

the broken vessel saved for anything, everything, the potter's child, his joy, his burden.

so I packed them all up carefully in a painted fruit crate, along with a couple of little gifts for the bundle of energy that curates the space, and drove them into portland.

I'd been to this space once before to volunteer as a greeter for an open studio time. I joked that I did more gritting my teeth than greeting, but I'd also brought one of my daughters with me and when I'm mother I have a hard time being myself, or no, that's not it exactly. I have a hard time not being my mother-self. which is different than my shara-self or my artist-self or whatever. so between the drive that first time (I got slightly lost, had to call my husband for alternate directions once I figured out where I was exactly, and this made me anxious) and then the fact that I was feeling my way around a new place and this always gives me some moments of having to make accommodations in my brain-map for how I fit into it, and not knowing exactly what was expected of me, and being somewhat naturally shy (except when I'm naturally social) and keeping an eye on my daughter to make sure she didn't make unplanned alterations to anyone's art, well. it was a good experience, but wearying. even though the space is lovely, the people are amazing, and I was doing it whole-heartedly because I wanted to help out, it depleted me. this was because, while my heart was fully engaged, my brain was split between self and mother. and mother almost always wins. or when it doesn't, it makes for disjointed thinking/action just by diverting energy.

does any of this make sense? I suspect not. no matter.


so this time I went alone. and got lost. and called for directions. and got lost again. and was driving, panicking, and talked myself out of that panic, telling myself (out loud) that it wouldn't do any good to panic, what I needed to do was breathe and calm down, and find a place to stop where I wouldn't get myself any more turned around, and figure out on my own where I was and how to get back across the river and find the place I needed to be.

and so I did.

and I hauled my fruit crate up a few flights of stairs and then magic happened, the pieces flew out of my arms and onto the walls and onto the white pillars or plinths (plinths was the name in my head when I saw them, however incorrect it may be, I don't know at the moment and don't feel inclined to stop now to check) that the curator brought out, and then there they were, my found and cosseted darlings, all cardboard and cheap paint and wire. and I felt free of them, and longing for them, and proud of them and then I swept the floors and straightened other people's art and helped adjust lighting and chatted and took a few pictures and hugged the curator goodbye and walked lightly and surely down the stairs, smiling, and stood by the car in the parking lot eating a crisp sweet pink lady apple and a piece of gouda cheese with my arms bare in the cool afternoon and a seagull crying overhead and then I went home, with no getting lost at all.

and made supper, and helped with homework, and sent an email saying thank you, and now here I am, the girls gone to school, my night-shift husband sleeping, breakfast dishes waiting and the sun shining on the shed, two cats lazing around, the laundry caught up and the whole day gleaming, mine to make anything that comes to visit.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

so for a good part of the day I was sweet, kind and patient.

but finally, in the home stretch I snapped, and yelled.


wednesday. my least favourite day of the week, for various reasons too persnickety to go into.

but it was a minor outburst, more frustration than anger, and all it says is I let myself get too low, and so it's early to bed for me tonight. a busy end of the week and weekend ahead.

first, though, a cup of green tea with honey. and some time and quiet to make something, or unmake it, whichever best works through whatever it is that's troubling me. sometimes that doesn't become clear until I forget that I'm bothered at all, which I suppose is perspective working its magic, or magic working its perspective, I don't know which. it could, of course, be both.

and no-one seems in the slightest bit put out by my childish display (I stamped my foot, like a petulant, pouting child) so I suppose it's not that big a deal. I do tend to give things more weight than is necessary sometimes.

I feel old today, and tired, heavy with possibilities curled and fluid, pushing everything else out of the way in their unthinking need to grow bigger than the confines of a temporary and insufficient home.