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Friday, December 30, 2011

Coming in 2012

Am hoping to lend a hand with some set design/construction for this project this Spring. My first foray into the world of theater and set design. Please pledge if you can, every little bit helps.



Saturday, December 24, 2011

In conclusion

The three of us, Tofino 2011
Christmas eve, the year is winding down. We're watching videos from the first years Mark and I were together, almost a decade now, I am overwhelmed by the complicated feelings of what is now past and what must lay ahead. Pearl was little, my parents looked younger, my property looked more wild. Time marches on, so do I. Am thinking about the year ahead now and what I would like to accomplish or at least inch myself toward. More writing, less slacking. Better eating, more moving around. More reading, more learning, greater understanding. More time with those I love, less time worrying about the things I have no control over. Maybe some surfing, certainly more walking and bike riding, better knitting, more complicated sewing, greater ease.

2011 was fine. I met some goals, wrote more words, raised and butchered the chickens, let a few things go, welcomed a new life. It was all good, another year filled with good memories, small trips. It's an extraordinary life this and I have learned to be kind to myself and those around me, so I will continue to do as I have done and move incrementally toward the person I want to be.

Cheers to you and yours. See you on the flipside.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Saturday with the folks

I guess it's in the air. Everyone's parents are getting old, failing and decrepit. Our roles as parents and children are crossing over one another at the dividing line. We make suggestions and come up with solutions, shouting them from where we stand, our minds and bodies still keeping pace, mostly. Saturdays we visit Eddy first, now in care, it's depressing. We stay a shamefully short amount of time, but how long can you sit watching someone sleep? We move west to the city and see my dad, now 84 and his wife. My parents I say and pause, my mother is dead. My stepmother, now my only female parent has Alzheimers or some other dementia-like disease, and my father are the parents of record. They are one unit, bound tighter now that she is dependent on him entirely and he is more dependent on us, our open arms, palms raised up offering help with anything, everything. We eat lunch with them, bake cookies, clean up here and there. We are jovial and encouraging, helping her with the words she can no longer connect with, seeing that he is not becoming overwhelmed with this new position of care giving he has been thrust into. After a time we go outside with him discreetly and discuss things that need to be discussed while the dogs pull and sniff around the block that surrounds the house, circumnavigating the island of their despair. On the way home we stop to see Mark's mother who is the best off of all of them fiercely independent still and able to mother us a little which feels like a relief because we are not ready to cut loose that generational buffer between us and our own eventual demise. At night I dream again and again of my mother and relive her illness, she is well and then not well and then dead again and I forget how it happened but I am grateful she comes to visit me and I suppose it will be this way with all of them and then me and on and on.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 81

I am not one for wallowing or whining. I have been unable to write because I have fallen into horrendous laziness. I mean to write and I wake up early to do it when the house is quiet but I refuse to leave my bed and then I decide I can write in bed, if that is what it takes, but I don't write much because I know inside that one needs to sit up properly or even stand if possible and somehow I convince myself to stay in bed and an hour passes and I think I need a little nap so I turn over and then I am done. When I wake up the next day and cannot reach the notebook I write in I decide that maybe I should be writing short pieces or god forbid finish the other 9 things I have on the go and the bed feels warm and I decide to get up and be a super mom for an hour and then go to work. Everyday the little emails come from the writing group and everyday they are right on. I don't know the whole the story yet and maybe I don't care but I do because the last time I wrote I discovered a love triangle that was not there before and that was interesting and I felt curious but then the bad me drank 4 glasses of wine and stoked the fire and got under the quilt and fell asleep until the middle of the night and went to bed and read the rest of "War of Art" and realized that my territory is my work, I am happiest there and I just happen to have a lot of it right now and so the story trudges on. It takes me a long time to do things, we know this. Many things I have done and finished and liked took me a long time to do. I might not finish the story in the prescribed remaining 9 days even though I keep telling myself I will suddenly begin to go hard and race to the finish line my pages flying around me. It won't happen that way. I will take a walk each day and find time here and there to write and rewrite and to think about the whole thing in pieces and I will not sling mud at myself and tell myself horrible things about my habits and tendencies, instead I will re read all the emails and be curious about the story and one day it will resolve itself and the whole experience will be framed as positive because it was the first time and I took it on and I kept going.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving

The day came. And it was different than what I thought it would be. It didn't happen where I thought it would, the cast was slightly different. It was cold, I called that. I had knives and gloves and bags and I had a clear mind. A resolved mind, or a resigned mind. I checked my mind in somewhere else, there would be no complicating this process with how I felt about it. It would be a mechanical series of events. Slit the throat while holding the bird firmly between my knees. Lift the flapping bird carefully not to bruise the wing meat and place it head down into the metal funnels, tie the feet, let it bleed. Repeat, until the rack of funnels was full. No more room at the inn. Move to the next step. Untie the feet and lift the limp bird up and carry it to the scalding tank, where for 3 or 4 seconds I swish the bird from side to side, lifting and dunking, watching the accumulated shit balls stuck in the chest feathers mostly dissolve away. Lift the now dripping bird up and test pull a few wing feathers out to make sure the scalding has been effective. If needed, dip again, swish again. Carry the bird, always by the feet to the plucker. Resting on the edge of the plucker, cut off the feet, neatly, at the knee. Let the bird slide into the plucker until there are 4 or 5 inside. Turn on the plucker. Step away and slit more throats while kneeling on the frozen ground. Tie and untie, dip, swish, cut, pluck until all 25 birds are heaped into a clean white plastic container. Next step. Evisceration. With knives rinsed and sharpened and new gloves on we begin to gut the birds in unison standing next to each other at the evisceration rack. Evisceration station. First, cut off the oil gland which is below the anus, next, cut around the anus and gently pull out the guts. The guts are warm and unless they are punctured are not that disgusting, I am not thinking about anything beyond getting this job done neatly. Pull the guts out, the heart, the lungs, the liver. Save the livers and hearts and some necks. I am not being as thrifty as I should be, my feet are getting wet. If it weren't for the greenhouse where this is taking place, we'd all be much colder. Once cleaned the birds rest in a cold bath of water. There is ice on top, this is a good thing. They float in the water and look cold but like meat and that is a good thing. They are no longer living creatures, they have stepped across the threshold and have become food. This is a good thing. We bag them up. My fingers are numb and I can't open the ziploc bags. The bags, once loaded are pleasingly heavy. We clean up what we need to. I wash the feet and set them aside in a bucket and then bag them up. I hose feathers into a pile and we scrub blood from the metal bleed rack. It's done and we go home and get warmed up. I let myself think again, and the feelings I have the most of are related to accomplishment and righteousness. Once you have killed something with the intention of eating it you have crossed your own threshold from bystander to hunter.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wasteful

There is no picture for this post. If there were you wouldn't like it. The distended anus of a chicken as it propels itself forward shitting one final shit as its heart stops and its nerves fire one last time and it lands way off in the corner of the pen causing me to grab at it with the pitch fork. All I can think is what a waste, 3 months of feeding and it can't be eaten. The butchering takes preparation and will happen in two days on another farm near here. If I were a farm wife, I'd know what to do in this situation. I might even have an over-sized pot boiling on the wood cook-stove up in the farmhouse, sharpened knives at the ready. 15 or 20 minutes and it would be ready to cook for my hungry family. If I were a farm wife I wouldn't  have on a Pashmina scarf under my chartreuse green coat, I wouldn't be worried about feathers and blood and guts. I might even have pigs that I could throw the entrails to like little treats or god forbid the entire chicken if it were suspect enough. I am not a farm wife, I am a designer and I have no time to pluck a chicken today because I need to finish a rush job, butchering a suddenly dead chicken was not on my docket for the day. Even still, I feel the futility as the limp body heavy with meat gets tossed into the woods, hopefully some other animal will discover it and eat it. Happy early Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Today, a link


In writing my novel I am being pulled into an arena that is all about a standard form of story telling and because I am inexperienced I am following it. It is like learning a language I may never speak or understand and I feel lost and foreign in the face of it but I am sticking with it. I am reminded of Lydia Davis who when I was introduced to her writing style felt like a sign from the universe that maybe I could be a writer too. While I understood that reality is what you make around yourself and not something that is thrust upon you I had not been able to translate that to the way I saw words and stories. I am becoming more comfortable with this notion and Lydia Davis is the embodiment of all that is possible in the realm of story telling.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Manifesto

I am not a long suffering mother. I am a person who, if you piss me off with your one word answers will stop speaking to you. I will make your supper and stoke the fire and do many of the jobs you said you'd do because I understand this one true thing. You are a child. Even though you wear a push -up bra and make-up, you are little more than a baby in a growing body and you know nothing and you know everything. And it is my job to push back now and then and then hug you 15 minutes later when you crawl out of your room knowing you were wrong or if not wrong, 13. And I don't need to forgive you because I was never mad at you in the first place I was just pushing back because that was what  was needed in that moment when I asked you those questions. You are a good kid and I am a dedicated parent and none of this feels like suffering because I won't let it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Are you experienced?

Meat birds at 5 Weeks

It's Sunday here where I sit, somewhere it's Monday and I will be thrust into that reality soon enough but until then I will enjoy Sunday. As I sit and write this in my espresso induced sweat my head is full and strangely empty all at once. I feel calm mostly but occasionally have a flash of things that need my attention and I try to add them to the list for the coming week, things I must do, food I must cook, emails I must respond to. For now though we are listening to Neil Young and my husband is sitting across from me the way he does at his house and we have our laptops spread out on the kitchen table and the kid is recuperating down the hall with a semi nasty cough watching endless movies on cable-TV.

I have done nothing to document the chicks development as I had wanted to and time is leaving this idea in its dust. I imagined pages of quaint gestural drawings, spontaneous captivating paintings and daily photos. I even considered building a small lit cove in which I could drop a chicken or two for a couple of real money shots but I have not done any of it. In its place is growing disappointment and harsh words directed inward to the file of things I just never got to. They are six weeks old now, we are on the home stretch, in the next 3 weeks we will organize the butchering day and even though I never thought I had the stomach for this type of activity (and maybe I don't) I am willing myself to fall headlong into the experience. Why not. Why shouldn't I attempt to butcher 27 meat birds at home with borrowed chicken butchering equipment? This has been the work of farm women for millennia why should I be squeamish and spared.

In casual conversation regarding the butchering of various commonly farmed animals the question of what to do with the plethora of nasty bits that we refined North Americans deem un-consumable, it occurred to me that I would be in possession of a treasure trove of chicken feet, a delicacy in the Chinese community. One of the strange features of the Cornish Cross breed are their huge feet and thick legs. In an effort not to waste them I inquired about eating them to my Chinese friend who's old mother is visiting soon. I half expected her to be completely grossed out but instead she waxed poetic about the wonderful experience of eating them as a child, their fried exterior concealing a delicious gelatinous interior. She went on to tell how she had gone with her mother to Chinatown to the chicken butcher where you could choose a live bird and have it butchered on the spot, carrying home the recently live bird in a shopping bag.

So my new fantasy is that this old woman from China via Los Angeles, who has been described as looking like Nelsen Mandela will join us on butchering day perhaps wielding her own cleaver and be our guide. Women working together to shouts in Cantonese and English, and cries of the chickens as their throats are slit while the pile of beautiful yellow legs grows to be taken home and enjoyed for Thanksgiving.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wanting

I am struck this afternoon by a young Libyan woman expressing her joy at Muammar Gadaffi's death. She said "We can want anything now". What struck me is that living in a democracy as I do I have never been in a situation where there were things I could not have. The only thing between me and the things I desired was usually hard work and I have generally worked hard. Lately I have been faced with a question that I can't seem to answer, it has risen out of the work I am doing on the novel I am writing. The question is: what does the hero want, and so I invert this question and wonder what do I want. An old friend resurfaced this week and she expressed her want as a desire to thrive. I keep running up against the question and I can't quite drill it down. Sometimes I think it stems from a lack of interest in anything or an interest in everything, it might be both, a plethora of choice has numbed me. I am happy doing very little, watching the meat birds eating is pleasant, so is watching the laying hens peck around. I am pensive and quiet, I enjoy that. I want to do what I want to do, not what I have to do. This is the challenge, trying to frame the want in a positive way, I want this, not, I don't want that. I don't want to die for example. I don't want to have to work for money forever. I want to work at what I want to work at. All the other stuff I have. A family, a good relationship, a place of my own. Maybe that's it, I have what I want, wanting more would be gluttony.

I realize in writing all this that picture for this post is rather meaningless except that it's what I am working on at the moment. It's a Rowan Yarns pattern by Kaffe Fassett. I cheaped out and didn't by the prescribed Rowan Yarn, it was just too expensive but the stuff I chose may be too soft, not structural enough, but we'll see. Looking at it here I actually don't mind it and some blocking will help. I am learning the hard way to go faster with these projects so that the details are handled consistently. I think I made the right front panel slightly longer than the left. Asymmetry is a look perhaps.

Beyond all of this I was invited to a birth this week of an old and dear friend so at the moment I am reveling in the amazing process of her tiny son appearing in a bath of water not 36 hours ago. My husband is flying home tonight after 10 days away and I am looking forward to being in his company again and hearing his stories. I am struck, struck by all of the love and connection I have witnessed this week. I guess if I wanted anything it would just be more of the same.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Happiness


Here is something cheerful for friday, a cat in a sweater courtesy of the good people at The Yarn Monkey. If this doesn't cheer you up instantly you are probably dead, get off the computer. Mark is away so I am off to have a visit with Eddy, today I will read to him from the book I have been grueling through. I had a surprise root canal yesterday and although it was a bit horrifying to learn about the whole process the total lack of pain I am experiencing today is so good. A person like me who spends a lot of time in her head should not have to encounter any more pain than the pain I imagine I am in. Happy Friday, get your cat in a sweater. I am thinking of making one for one of the meat birds whose feathers are slow to come in. Cheers!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Vine Maple Wood

The woods are wet and slimy and as I walk past I wonder is there something to be done with Vine Maple branches. Shall I put the call out via Facebook? Can they be woven into furniture or other useful household items, can I make a coffee pot or a pressure cooker, can I conjure skis and boots for winter time leisure pursuits? I fear though, that the answer is wreaths. You can bend them into slimy circles and hang them on the front of your rustic home in the woods and they will do nothing but hang there through these winter seasons and in spring wasps will build nests in them and eventually they will come down and next fall I will think the same thing again, can anything be done with Vine Maple wood?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Light and rain.

Wrote 1200 words this morning. It's raining again but I actually feel okay about it. The dread I felt yesterday going into the barn to clean the chicks pen dissipated quickly, somehow the thick mat of shit and straw did not strike me as that disgusting. This morning they were all hungry so I just fed them and cleaned their water, I will change their bedding later on. I checked in on my laying hens 3 and found them still roosting in the dark coop. Lazy wenches. I went and got a light for them and set the timer, it will come on at 5am when I get up to write and stay on until noon. I watched them as they adjusted to the light coming to life almost instantly and went outside to scratch around. I even gave them a few cock-a-doodle-dos to bring home the point. The dog shot me a weird look. I guess the new darkness has it's effect on all of us. I went to sleep at around 7:30pm last night, a trend I really don't want to fall into but something happens to me after dinner when the darkness comes early. I fall into a low level temporary depression. I have things I want to do but it's nearly impossible to motivate myself and I can only see the merits of lying down. Mondays are trouble for me anyway, I am blue after the weekend with Mark and not quite in full swing for a week of mothering. It passes, today is better. The rain has subsided so it's time to get out for walk, honestly I really like this life and the pace I have set for myself.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Not much.

This is all I can safely say. Tuesday I begin writing the novel in earnest and I can't talk about the story to anyone. I have to hold it close to my breast like a sacred object. In the meantime I will try and write about other stuff like the freakish chickens I am raising and our rising sadness about Eddy who is now living in care and knows it isn't right. We're all dying but his case is more acute. To tide you over here is a picture of me with my new love interest.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Untitled

So it's day 13 of the meat bird project and day 24 of the 90 Day Novel. I hope I don't confuse the two. I jut moved the chicks out of their stock tub into a child's swimming pool which felt like pure genius to me as the tractor I have for them felt too big and drafty. The pool offers some additional protection. I had one death yesterday, probably from  a heart attack due to rapid growth. These birds are genetic freaks, their thick post like legs tell the tale. I continue as I am told, to imagine the world of my story, the characters are emerging like slow moving zombies out of the primordial ooze. I am still distracted so I am reading the The War of Art which is all about resistance. It encouraged me to blog today because as we know too well not blogging is akin to becoming constipated. I have issues but I am trying to train my mind away from them and toward the world of the story. It's more interesting.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

9 weeks to meat


The chicks arrived last Thursday just as we left for Oregon in the pouring rain. My partner in crime collected them and got them all cozy in the stock tank I had set up for them in my little barn. It's helpful having another person invested in this rather dodgey project. Chicks are fragile and the whole process of raising them feels precarious to me. I once drowned 25 birds by accident early on in the process when they were small and unable to stay warm. My waterer lost suction in the night and filled the metal stock tank with water, just enough to soak each little downy bird and they struggled to pile themselves up on top of each other to reach the light but it was all for naught and in the morning when I discovered the mishap they were just a wet mass of dead chicks. I was horrified. I stood in the barn and screamed for help, no one came. My daughter was 3ish at the time, I had to keep her from seeing them, the pile of transparent limp bodies, their eyes shut but visible through thin skin. I carry this horror with me and each time I go to check on them I feel a slight panic rise up in me as I step across the threshold of the barn. So far they are okay. I don't need to be caring for 30 chicks at the moment but I am, and in a way maybe it's good for me. In an effort to outrun the winter doldrums I have packed my fall beyond recognition so that everyday is filled with multiple activities. At night I write my list and in the morning I follow it like an automaton forcing myself to think less and do more. Surprisingly it seems to be working. I feel okay, less gray than usual and more energetic despite giving up my new found love, coffee. It would be nice not to have to work so hard at feeling reasonable but this is who I am so I have to try new things as my brain chemistry changes. I changed my diet recently too at the suggestion of my naturopath. My blood pressure is still high and at the moment my head is pounding but that is just today. This too shall pass. There is something purposeful about being needed by 30 tiny birds that you will one day butcher and slather in BBQ sauce. For today they need food and clean shavings and to be warm and I can handle that.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Brief Explanation from Inside

What the hell was she thinking? The goal was simple. To take a writing course. Only this schmuck, who is incapable of thought deeper than water collecting inside a contact lens can't do it. First of all she didn't consider that writing a novel in 90 days means you need to have a shred of an idea for a story. Second of all she is not doing the homework. She thinks about the story a lot but it's in such a superficial way that I am pretty sure nothing will ever come of it. Poor thing doesn't care enough about anything to make it work.What it comes down to is she doesn't care about what makes people tick enough to pay attention long enough to gather any clues about dilemma, conflict, transformation. And now the blog is suffering too, I'd cry if I had eyes. All she is excited about these days is going for little trips in the vintage trailer and being outside puttering around clipping the bushes and checking on the little chicks and walking, always wanting to walk. Occasionally she thinks about the bills she has to pay and what kind of paint to buy to paint the chuck-box she built. And now winter is coming and it has begun to rain and soon she is going to want to sit by the fire and knit constantly. She's not a writer. I know. I live inside her head.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Forgiveness

Dear Father,
It's been 11 days since my last blog post. Please forgive me as I have had a lot on my mind and while I try to maintain a healthy writing practice there are many influences beyond my control that seem to unite against me. Please forgive me lord. Eddy is in the hospital and we are all sort of stunned and not sure what is next for him. I don't think he is dying, I think he is just profoundly tired and I can relate dear lord for I am tired too and although I have much work to do I mostly just want to lay on my couch and drink wine. The weather has been fine and I wanted to thank you for that but it makes me sleepy in the afternoon and it makes taking long walks difficult as I freckle so badly dear lord and I know that the devil did that to me not you because you you made folks like Selma Hayek and she doesn't freckle so it must be that the devil is in me. Speaking of the devil. I need to ask forgiveness for making little images of the devil because I adore his pointed little horns and his sharp beard and the mustache, oh how I love the mustache. But really I need to beg for forgiveness because I am wasting time here when I should be working. I will abuse myself later in your name, hope that's cool. xo me p.s., maybe pass this along to Mother Mary, in hindsight she is probably who I meant to talk to.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Happy Maniac


Moving right along. The kid is back at school and I am looking forward to the fall and feeling hopeful and inspired. By Rosh Hashanah I'll have a new crown on the lower left side of my mouth and I am not missing the symbolism here. I have not been able to bite down on much lately due to my fragile state and like a true manic person on a long awaited upswing I am going to take on way more than I probably should in response to all the down time I took over the summer. So here goes. I am going to embark on a 90 day novel writing course, seemed like a good idea and now I have committed myself mentally to it. Work is picking back up just in time, the bills are piling up and the one scary thing I have been forcing myself to face most days is my checking account balance. Additionally I have just ordered 30 meat birds in chick form. It will take 9 weeks to raise them and I have no idea who will butcher them, god I hope it's not me. My tenant is going in with me and she is a brave and hardy soul so maybe I can follow her lead. Saw a dead deer at the side of the road which reminds me to finish the story I am working on, it's about a deer but also the dead deer is a reminder that time is not endless. I have decided not to worry about my elderly parents going to Europe for two weeks. Instead I will focus on my job of looking after their ill behaved Cocker-Spaniel. I finished my self portrait. Still not entirely sure how I feel about it but will list it on my Etsy site just to see if anyone bites. I hope you are all well and biting down hard on things that you desire.

Monday, August 29, 2011

September Manifesto


Because I didn't have to, I spent the weekend working in my studio. Since January I have been working on a series of self portraits in an effort to give myself a vehicle for experimentation beyond my daily work. I began by taking photos of myself and then making paintings using water colors. In the beginning the paintings were small now they are bigger. I have never been adept with water color but I did it anyway. Each piece has resulted in a satisfying surprise. Needless to say the creative process or the process of making something is mysterious. You never know how things will turn out and often this uncertainty stops me from making anything and based on the number of self help books on the subject I am not the only one. I am still trying to keep connected to my morning pages and the self portrait series has given me some clearly defined parameters in which to make visual work. I bought a bunch of wood mounted Linonelum blocks a few months ago with a mind to create some lino-cuts but the mood never quite struck me until a few days ago. The pieces above are some of the results. I intend to add 2 more layers to the piece which will involve some type. I am not sure how I feel about the cartoon-ish nature of the drawing but I do like the authentically thoughtful facial expression. The main thing about these pieces is to not question them too heavily. I am trying to accept first that they are valid because of their mere existence and I will think more deeply about them once I have a lot of them to consider.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Humanity Failing

I feel my faith in humanity slipping away. I am speaking in the most general terms of course. I feel old as I think this, but the youth today are completely lackluster. They are poorly dressed, soft, and dull in their thinking. They are easily led and prone to violence.

On our annual camping trip I overheard such a youth speaking. She was the female of the species, voluptuous but otherwise physically crude. She had died hair, pre-straightened for the outing to the lake. She was with friends, another couple and her companion who was another stellar example of the point I am trying to make. They were messing around as young, drunk people will do on hot summer days, on remote lakes. They were talking as they messed, floating in big plastic inflatable rings, oblivious to the majestic natural setting. He noticed she had a tattoo stretching the length of her exposed side, dipping into and out of her white over-taxed bikini, at both ends. It was some sort of script, not English, not an Asian dialect, perhaps First Nations but not entirely. He asked her what it said. She said " I forget" then giggled a bit "I got it a long time ago". I wanted to yell at her "You better make something up to tell people otherwise you're going to be exposed as a complete idiot for your whole pathetic life!" I thought better of it and went back to ready my book.

Later on at the same spot some young people gathered with their kids and dogs and chaos for the afternoon. The dogs fetched and were obedient for the most part but at the end of the day when they had all packed up and slowly disappeared, one little dog got left behind, just left behind. One little dog named Duchess sitting there sort of bewildered but perhaps a little relieved to be free of it's negligent caregivers, grateful to not be eaten by their Pit Bulls.

I'm worried there are multiple generations of people who were not raised by anyone with any sense. The spawn arrived, was wrapped in synthetic blankets with Disney motifs and then left in front of televisions and dog bowls fighting for crumbs with Pit Bulls and Chihuahuas. In order to survive, the girls got sexy and the boys got violent and no one learned to read or plant a garden. I saw these people at the County Fair pushing their baby strollers, tattoos on display. The women all looking vacant, the men looking mean and sure enough the night after we were there, there was a shooting in between the midway and the milking displays. No one was killed but a young gang member was arrested. It was shocking in a non-surprising way. Walking on the midway while my kid road the crappy rides I felt like I was walking through a horror film where the art director had done an excellent job of finding all of the most-malformed and horrific examples of this sub race of humans. Only it wasn't a movie set, it was real and that's why I feel sort of sick at the moment.

I foolishly read some of the comments left on the story about the shooting. Of course the conversation went very quickly to issues of racism and immigration. I feel the problem stems from a feeling of deep hopelessness but not the sort that I suffer from which is only one side of a coin, the other side of which is filled with incredible options, kept separate solely by my own apathy. These youth live in a world without the smallest knowledge of any of these options, their hopelessness unrecognized as even a state beyond their own reality and the realities of those around them.

They need support, someone to raise them up with compassion and expose them to a world where they matter. I am not sure how to do this but I am going to think about it. Yesterday I apologized to a young man who upon hearing my apology told me to go fuck myself. I was sort of surprised but also felt for him. What a world to live in where you can't even accept the smallest of kind gestures. I felt bad for a bit as I walked back home feeling like the world was changing and that I would never want to walk along my road again. I don't want to make that choice. I want to be out in the world with the freaks and the malcontents so I will go again and when I see this guy on the road I will wave at him in my friendly way because that's the world I want to live in.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Looking forward

I was in this place again with my little family feeling all grateful and happy like eating a comforting and healthful soup. No news, no internet, no endless facebook updates, no regrets. Another summer is coming to a close, like a good novel it had it's ups and downs. I am still fragile, more so than I probably care to admit but I think change does this to me. Things are changing. Fall is coming, the kid is changing, the old man is changing, my parents are changing, it's a lot to reconcile in 2 short months. Fall is a time of renewal too and I am eternally optimistic about everything, including my ability to rebound to the person I want to be again. I have plans to reno my bedroom, sewing projects, knitting projects and more portraits that perhaps I could show somewhere, someday. I really believe that we can all be happy in spite of the trajectory we are all on, hurtling toward infirmity and sure death. As long as there are calm lakes to swim in I'll be fine.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Episode

It was 45 minutes before he began to be responsive. We ate our hamburgers because we didn't know what else to do and they were cooked. One of us would get up and check on him periodically. The time passes slowly and initially you are calm and do what has worked in the past, but then more time passes and we began to think maybe this is it, this is how it ends but you don't stop yet, you keep reacting just in case. We were moving around the house not really talking to one another but in our minds we were both concocting strategies for what to do. Eventually the ER was the answer and that's where Mark took him, only by the time we called an ambulance and arranged to meet them just inside the Canadian border he was coming around, nicely. He squeezed my hand when I asked him to but would not speak. In the car as they pulled out of the driveway I waved at Eddy and he waved back, like nothing was wrong. He was fine but the trip to the emergency could not be aborted and so Mark kept on, making up for the other times when we did not take him perhaps. At midnight they were back home and we were there to meet them, having cleaned up the dinner dishes and crossed the border into Canada, with the dogs and everything else.

At the doctor today Eddy sits looking down and we talk about him like he isn't there, but he is there. He looks mad at times, and scared at other times. He says very little or nothing. We learned from the doctor that when he has one of these episodes we need to elevate his feet. This is good simple advice and it makes me feel empowered for when this happens again. Mark is not so sure and he requests a change to some different meds to try and avoid the seizure all together. We went years without any of these episodes and now they are quite frequent. His state is precarious, his circulation poor, he is slow to respond to much stimulus, he is forgetting how to eat, but he's alive. So we go along with him moment by moment, ill-equipped as we are, our resolve propping him up. It's all we can do.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Painted


Because you have all been so good and have not stood too close to me, and have not been too needy in general, I have made a painting. I actually had a strategy with this one but it does not behoove me to explain it to you. Because you are wise enough, you might intuit it. Wise you are and good also. I am calming down nicely, doing some things around the house again, feeling less out of control, noticing how much I like order and putting things into an orderly state, engaging my hands. Whatever it is, a mania, an obsession. I never go too long doing things, allowing myself to be distracted away from my work and other commitments. I designed a whole book in 4 days. That has to count for something. The in-laws came to stay at the weekend and they are such good company I was really cheered up and I have been sewing again. Words are difficult just now and the stories are not stories, rather they are disconnected lines and I wonder if I should just stick to pictures. I swam in the lake yesterday while the dogs thrashed and barked and it felt like how I dream summer should be.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Quit yer crying

The pity party is over. Time to recycle the empties, clean the ashtrays, and wipe the sticky tears off the floor. My bed is made, my clothes are put away, my room is tidy. There is solid ground under my oversize feet, I have much to be thankful for and all the rest that I have no control over can fuck off. It's sunny in the PNW so maybe I'll go for a swim in the lake.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Remission


So let's just say I was losing it. It was subtle. I kept it to myself but I was losing it. It felt like melting. And then without warning it started to come back. I regained it. Somewhere between pouring concrete, and waiting for the kids dance class to end. I had been talking to the new neighbors who were there too, and are recently in love, and I got carried away listening to them. He was standing behind her, hands on her hips the whole time and it felt good to just see them be in love and it made me think about what I have and I started to feel good. Love is so good and we are lucky to have it. And then the CSA box arrived and I felt good about the good food I eat, I made a big Greek salad and tzanziki and I visited a sage a friend who has known me a long time. A person who I can be myself around, my whole self, and it crept back. She suggested swimming might help and being with people. I have no idea what IT is but when I feel like I am losing grip on IT I get so worried and perplexed. How did I let IT go. Like those teeth dreams from college, where they are suddenly all rotten and you are in your mouth, peering out. And you think FUCK, how did I let this happen. Anyway, I am going to go see the doctor and sort out this BP thing. I have been so worried about it and that is maybe what's causing me to feel so horrendous. My sage friend has a sage husband who is very good-natured and I am entertaining the idea of changing my thinking to be positive all the time and not to worry but it's hard because as women we have the evil force of hormones to deal with and they are unruly like that Damien kid in the Omen. You can't just love it away, sometimes you seriously need to drive a stake through IT.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Concrete

On top of everything else I made a concrete pad over the weekend. It was Pearl's birthday so I waited until the sleepover guests went home and then I began. It was raining but I was undeterred in my lightweight raincoat, one of three raincoats I own and I pondered as the climate deteriorates, er changes we will need different clothes to function well in the gray moist world. I built the frame first, 4 feet by 6 and set it in place. I filled it with rocks and metal leftover from the two double box springs I tried to burn poor-white-trash-style on the burn pile. The cheap fabric melted away, the wood charred but the metal remained. I was pleased by how easily the metal springs came off the superstructure, no tools required beyond my gloved hands. The frame for the concrete was big and I underestimated the concrete it would require to fill it, so after mixing 4-60lb bags I stopped, took off my rain coat and started collecting rocks to fill the voids. I have a surplus of rocks here and so off I went and picked them up one after another until the bucket I was collecting them in weighed just enough to carry. I would dump each one and I found myself saying "just nine more loads" each time. I made about 2 dozen trips looking for mid size rocks, digging into the muddy earth with my hands and pulling them up, moving from spot to spot letting the rocks decide my path. On Monday I rested. On Tuesday I mixed up 11 more bags of concrete one by one and filled the spaces not taken up by the rocks from Sunday. At 4:30 it was done. Mark helped me screet the surface with a 2 x 4 and then he finished the edges because that is what he does and I am beyond grateful. I went and looked at the finished slab this morning and felt quite pleased that it is done and although the surface is flat and smooth I hold the memory of what lies beneath.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Derailed


Sometimes it just doesn't pay to go out in public. I was supposed to give blood yesterday but my Blood pressure was off the charts so they sent me home. The funniest part about it was the nice guy who took my vitals trying to make sense of me telling him I was anxious and nervous. He reminded me that I knew them and that I should feel okay but what he couldn't see or hear were the alarms going off inside in my body fueled by hormones, lack of sleep, feelings of fear and confusion and all of it lined up like a parade marching band of all cymbals clanging and marching and no one in step and I was smiling and nodding and acting like maybe it could be okay but my heart was pounding and that part he could clearly hear. He was right to send me home. I needed to rest. My body knew it needed to rest. As stated here previously I do not vacation well and I had just returned from an entire week away from home. An entire week of not sleeping well, eating crap and drinking more booze and less water than normal, and not exercising or doing any of the activities I had planned to do to quell my black soul. So there I sat behind a vinyl partition, pulse racing, once again choosing duty to a faceless blood blank over my own well being. My self which often feels like a flaccid appendage of my body seems to cause so much trouble at times and needs so much fucking attention and care that it's astounding. So I came home and instead of throwing myself on the couch I went to my office and thought about doing things I like and I made a sketch of a Chuckbox that I could build from wood and glue and it would keep me organized while camping and it felt like a good compromise between my hands and my head, and for my heart I will remember to sleep, to read, and paint, and walk or run so that I don't explode, at least not just yet. This helped too.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Traveling Companion

Riding east on the WestCoast Express June/2011

I have been trying to compose an appropriately poignant post about my daughter, about the great depth of feeling I have for her and the rewards and trials of being a parent. But the time moves so quickly and I find I barely have time to think the whole post through, I am in the trenches as it were just living with her and enjoying it immensely. School is out now so we are on this odyssey called summer vacation wherein I try to be dedicated to near non-stop fun while still trying to work full-time. Summer, like life, is fleeting. I have never been a good playmate mom, I am impatient at best but I have always tried to just spend time with this child, slow myself down and expose her to the world in the best way I know how. In the summer that means visiting family and friends, camping, boating, riding bikes, reading and eating things we generally avoid in the off-season. I am making up for lost time I suppose. When she was 3, my husband and I split up and so began a 50/50 split of her time between us. Split straight down the middle, which was very limiting and to my mind not what I signed up for. One tries to adapt and make best use of the 50% without complaint, but it did wear on me and I felt like I got short changed until abut 18 months ago when the schedule was changed and she was with me more. Recently things changed again, and she was with me all the time and so that is what we have settled into and it feels so good to me. She is a wonderful person, not perfect but I never expected that. I feel like we have achieved the state I most desired as a parent, that we are traveling companions. She is a great traveler, she's adaptable and curious and she likes to tell stories about the things we see along the way, either from everyday life of the special trips we make like the time we just spent with my dad and stepmother. I am loading her up with interesting memories so that when she is grown and has her own kids she can look back at the crazy car trips with Mark and I and model her own childrens experiences after them as Mark and I are doing with her. She is a willing companion and I am so grateful to have her along.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursday Song


Thursday already. I had a vague notion I might blog everyday this week, oh well, best laid plans and all that. I also thought I wouldn't drink any wine, you know as an experiment and I was successful on Monday so I celebrated on Tuesday. Things have been sort of wild around here so best not to make any sudden lifestyle changes, we need predictability in these unpredictable times. Pearl described this to me the other day in regard to her father who seems to have decided to return to the area, once again readjusting our little apple cart. In addition to that some animal was eating all our chickens. There are two things you should never try with me, one is upsetting my revenue stream, the other is upsetting my home food production. I like eggs and my flock has been reduced in one week from 9 hens to 3. Without going into the gory details I treed a raccoon on Tuesday and had him disposed of in short order along with the leftover debris of 9 cedar trees sent to the mill in the winter. If only I could clear up all my problems this way. The sun is shining but it is still uncomfortably cool for the date on the calendar and earlier this week when the whole sky was gray and low I couldn't help but think about Cormac McCarthy's The Road as I walked my own road imagining the nuclear winter and thinking grim thoughts about the future of the world. But today, the sun is shining and there are strawberries to pick and freeze to make smoothies in the winter for my precious child who is so articulate about everything. The slash fire is finished burning now and the yard looks better, the hens are safe, things are moving along as they tend to no matter what. My work docket is full and varied and I am humbled and grateful. I have eggs in the fridge.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Duality

There is a certain newness and potential of a Monday morning, that when I don't feel too wretched, is really rather exhilarating. Spending time with my dad often means having deep conversations about the heaviness of things. This is where I got my "this half empty glass is still quite full" attitude. During solemn childhood walks his pathos was transferred to me, not through his hands as he always walked ahead of us just a little. He needed that distance to sort himself out I suppose, but the grayness did waft backwards off him onto me. His is a world of duality and he told me a few days ago to not worry about the why and instead to just carry on in the right direction. We discuss politics, mostly American politics and we feel depressed and then we touch on all the great things Americans have done and we feel hopeful once again. And this is how the conversations ebb and flow, we discuss luck and perseverance, and the importance of learning throughout your lifetime and the joy of reading and listening to opera. I swear a lot and then feel bad later that he thinks I am coarse. I listen to him and realize he is more conservative than I thought he was based on our rather relaxed upbringing. He is slumped over more now and he walks slowly, a museum crawl and I find it makes me tired and I want to surge ahead but I don't, I stay in the space with him and take in what he has to offer me because I know the supply is limited. With all this weight I still feel okay despite my anxiety tugging at my stomach and today is Monday and I am starting again and I can hear my dad encouraging me to soldier on and I might just say the same thing back to him.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Going Away



My dad and stepmother at the Reifel Wildlife Sanctuary, Westham Island BC

Have just spent a few days at my fathers house and not surprisingly woke up this morning with a raging headache, nausea and fear and anxiety rising like a raging river. It's been a few hours and I feel more normal but also tender. I had wanted to go and spend some time with the old folks to see how they're doing and now I know. I would say they are ready for some help. My dad is good for his age and my stepmother has Alzheimer's which we have known about for some time. She's mostly okay, generally cognizant but justifiably pissed off and prone to fussing. She was always this way but it's heightened now. We had some good chats over multiple glasses of wine and she seemed herself but there were moments when she would lash out and that was a bit hard to witness. My dad is not a touchy-feelie overly nurturing guy so it's hard for him to deal with her in this new and devolving state. He's used to her being capable and in charge and she is so much less that way now. I feel pretty drained after only 4 days, I can only imagine how they feel. I need to get in touch with all my siblings and report my findings, there are 8 of us between them. I am not looking forward to this but I feel like the time is right and there have not been any big crisis yet but there is certainly potential.

The good news I suppose is that when we arrived on Tuesday they were both tense and when we left they were cheerful which proves to me that they need more contact with all of us. It seems a simple solution considering the severity of what's happening.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Eddy


Holy cow. I have to make this snappy. Had so many plans to make some drawings and paintings, in particular a painting of Eddy. He is not well, he is not himself or he is a new version of himself, we're not sure. Mark has been caring for him now for close to 8yrs and we think he had a stroke some weeks ago, but he seemed to rally and we thought it was a cold and he got better in a few days but now he is slow again and he just seems glum which makes us glum too. He's near the end of the line and I think he knows enough to know that he's really confused and weak and not a player any longer, not even close. It's distressing to all of us. Because he is weak his bathing schedule has been disrupted which in purely mechanical terms is tricky. Mark had to give him a sponge bath at the kitchen counter because he would not wake up long enough to get into the shower. It's tough on everyone but toughest on Eddy. We don't take him to the doctor for these things, our approach is practical, sympathetic but also realistic. What if he had cancer? We'd probably let it go. I suppose it's palliative care that we are providing. Mark is softening with him and we talk about just meeting him where he is, going easy on our expectations of his abilities and awareness. He was better yesterday and we were able to get him through the shower. And so it goes one day at a time.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sleep Credits

Perpetual Birthday Calendars printed by Moi, available on Etsy

There is nothing better than waking up to a notification that someone you don't know has sent you money for something you made. Last nights sleep earned me 35 big dollars, (minus $10 for shipping), leaving me with 25 big dollars to reinvest in boxed wine, I mean letterpress supplies and shoes for baby. Who said sleep was a waste of time, certainly not me. Be the first on your block to get one, these things are going like hotcakes, sort of.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Disruption

Sample of grass collected during the walk.

I hate the dogs who come barking, biting and bitching as I walk. They hurl themselves down bucolic driveways, from rest on sundecks, snarling and lunging until they hit invisible walls of electricity or lengths of rope. I am peaceful as I go along because that is my mission, the goal of the whole activity to clear the poisonous slackitude from my mind and the road complies. It stretches itself out straight and open with only one big turn which I can easily navigate with my narrow body, narrow dog on narrow leash at my side. I look up and down as I go, noticing the grasses, Buttercup, Skunk Cabbage, the beginning of Indian Paintbrush and so many more silent road residents whose names I don't know. Do they know my name as I pass by occasionally stopping to yell "back-off" at the charging retrievers? What is the point of this walk, designed to calm me if my blood pressure shoots up while my body tenses forming and expelling the words that I launch not really toward the dogs at all but at the house they have emerged from. Hoping the words will drift along with the cottonwood fluff and be heard by the woman who lives there. What I wish she could experience are the jagged spikes as my heart pounds against my chest, feel them like sharp jabs in her temples. As I wait for the car—that I know is approaching—holding my breath as it rushes up to us and meets the dogs now in the middle of the road. Will today be the day they get hit? I am always surprised by how loud I can yell in these situations. It stops the dogs, perhaps saves their lives and I move on following the freshly mowed edge of the road with my eyes but still conscious of my disturbed heart.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Enjoy this.

I'm busy right now with work and thinking about my story. I have been writing but I have also been walking a lot and just thinking and things are beginning to fall into place. I have also been doing some drawing but because I have so much work at the moment and quite a few bills to pay the work is taking the front seat while the rest is just chilling in the way back. So in the meantime, listen to this. It's from Radiolab a great show that I love, lots of talk about thought and experience, it makes me weak in the knees sometimes.

Me, Myself, and Muse - Radiolab

Friday, June 3, 2011

Respite

One of the details from my daily walk.

Life inside my head can be exhausting. The constant vigilance, taking note of my mental state all the time, it's like adjusting and readjusting wool underwear, it just never feels right. So naturally I am pleased when I have the opportunity to just act, to think quickly and then burst into action.

It happened this week during my daily walk. I came across one of the neighbors horses, loose in his yard. The owner was at work and must have put the horse in his orchard for grazing and the horse got out and was lurching around the yard, testing the sensation of gravel under his hooves by the fire pit, tasting the BBQ and generally looking a bit freaked out by this sudden freedom. Without too much labored thought I attached my nervous dog to a fence post and intercepted the horse as he trotted toward the road, I raised my arms in the air to make myself appear authoritative, I grabbed him by the mane with my right hand and then held his nose in my left and sort of steered him toward the gate of the paddock. I spied some nasty bailing twine which I grabbed from the bucket of water (and horse shit) it was floating in and threw it around his neck and nose, making a quick halter so I could hold him and get the paddock fence open, splattering mud on my face in the process. I made the good-horse-go-forward clicking sounds and in he went, I closed up the gate being careful not to get shocked and went and rescued the dog who was really nervous because the horse was now very close to her, albeit on the other side of the fence. Then we carried on and I felt terribly brave and capable. It's been years since I've had much to do with a horse but it all comes back.

Farther down the road near the creek I stood for awhile looking skyward and watched a young eagle swoop and soar and then settle in the trees. Some smaller birds were heckling him, foolish and brave I thought and for a moment I imagined how exciting it would be to see the eagle swoop down and pick up the spaniel who had come out to follow us. I made it to Friday and they were playing some Bob Marley on the radio and it made me think of my youth and my husband and the weekend and I felt like I had hit on the just the right adjustment.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Self Portrait Saturday

Self Portrait, May 28, 2011

Of all the paintings so far, this one best captures my terminal attitude of concern. I generally pass myself off as a mostly laid-back smart alec but this is what the mask conceals. Oh well. Hey, I'm getting my hair cut today, it's way overdue. It's been a year since my last one and my hair has turned into straw in the interim due to the crappy Trader Joe's shampoo I use. I worked on the story today, have been reading Lydia Davis as well which is helpful because her stories are all over the map structurally so I find that helpful. I have never been so good at doing things the conventional way and I find it strange that I need some permission to be non-traditional in my writing. Anyway, it's worth saying that I couldn't pay for the therapeutic effect these paintings afford me. I wonder if the next paintings post hair cut will be sassier? I'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Storytelling

I am working on writing a story. I realize that I am not confident that I know exactly how to write a story but I am not letting that stop me. I have some key events to weave into something and I am not sure that I know where it is all going but I am moving forward with it anyway. My biggest fear is that the story won't go anywhere, that there will be no climax or resolution. Do these things even exist or is there just resignation, acceptance and adaption. I have no answers but maybe answers are not even a reasonable goal. I am writing this story and as things come to mind I put them in, like I am making a salad. I am a good salad maker so maybe I can focus on that, and making the story won't feel so uncharted. Now that I have mentioned it here I will have to finish it and present it somehow, that's okay, I am interested in finishing things these days.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Small Talk

The artist in me wants to hang up the phone, close the door and be alone. I have lost my appetite for small talk. I can't track the simplest of conversations, I just don't care. I want my meals to arrive on wheels. I've had a really good day in my studio. I had a list of 4 things to accomplish and accomplish them I did and now they are done I want to sink into my head and make something for myself. Say something that is an expression of me. I heard a great poem today and I thought the poem is the thing for me but if it had been a story about straw bale houses I could have just as easily said, yes, the straw bale building is the thing for me. I am looking for attachment to something, something to be made by me, for me alone. But the slipping in is not to be because it is supper time and supper time means the mother, leader of the small pack must stop what she is doing and set an example for the others, for the husband and child and even the dog and cat have their own expectations of the human leader. So in I go, across the yard, east of my office to make the supper and wash the sheets and assume the roll that I have taken on and that I love in some ways and resent in others. There is nothing to be done, days come and go and I do my writing and one day when the time is right I will disappear into the page and they will feed themselves and the cat and dog will be long dead and I won't have replaced them and there will be stories and paintings and they will make my small talk for me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

On second thought

I had a whole shoe rant going but with all this sun it's hard to be committed to whiny negativity. I'll get some shoes for spring, somehow. They'll be black not rust or pea green but I will survive. Instead I want to say something about Facebook. I turned off all notifications to my email and Blackberry because I was getting a little obsessed, so now when I check in after a few hours away from FaceCrack it's like opening a little present, seeing peoples likes and comments feels good. So there, back to work all of you.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Shameless Self Promotion


Okay this could be confusing so stay focused, I have a second blog. It's not as quirky as this one as it's attached to my company website but hopefully it's still valid. It's a good place to see the work I do for money, MONEY!, not just this pleasant drivel I make for amusement and to keep myself from leaping into the river which I might have done this week. Holy crap was it ever wet, but thankfully we got some sun and all is forgiven, for now. For total ease of following my every move you can like me on Facebook and get a non stop barrage of ME at no extra charge.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Amy Butler Shirt

I have been spending a lot of time in my bedroom lately. I am rich in places to be creative in my life. I am lucky to have an entire building dedicated to myself and I am also fortunate to have a large bedroom that I don't have to share with anyone. I have been sewing there and am trying to finish things in a short amount of time so that the season for which the garment I am making was intended does not pass without me being able to sport my hard work. I am interested in training myself to have better habits, to do things with more care and sewing falls into this category. I have always done it but I have not always done it well. I used to get so frustrated that I often ended up in tears. I also made a lot of clothes that were not exactly constructed well but they were good enough and I wore them. I am in a wholly different place in my development these days and I find I have amazing focus and am not afraid of ripping seams out to replace them with better ones. More precise ones. I am not trying to achieve any kind of perfection, rather I am attempting to really be in the process of making something and really do it until it meets with my satisfaction. I see precision as a viable goal. So the Amy Butler Liverpool Tunic is complete! I still need to put some buttons on it and then it will be ready to wear and I can start on the next thing. Each completed project signals permission to begin the next thing and so I go, making, making, until the end of time.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Almost Spring


Poor little bloggie I have been walking past you like the mouse parts I step over to get to my room at the end of a each long day. Spring is in hard labor here and we keep starting and stopping, my mind is mushy and contracted and I worry that it's something dire but that's just me. It's friday finally and my sleep was cut open by a familiar voice from around the corner of my doorless bedroom, Mom? and there I was. Alive again and it's Friday so soon and Mark is coming over and the weekend calls for more rain. It's going to be Mother's Day which is okay but not a big deal for me, it's just another day in my life. I've been writing on paper, listening to words, writing down smells and the complicated feelings that arise from the emails I get and from the world that parades past me daily, there is no tidy way to put it all here and so I just fill up the notebooks that no one will ever see, and I hope that one day I can sit down for about 5 years and sort it all out into something useful or funny, the story of how I birthed myself at home alone. There is nothing new there, nothing I am experiencing that hasn't been felt by women before in the spring during a hard birth of this desirous season.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

New Sketchbook Cover

Self Portrait April 2011

I carry a notebook around with me all the time, it helps to keep me focused and to remember fleeting ideas. The books I have been using are the ones I was making to sell at the Bellingham Farmers Market several years ago. I had a few in reserve and every time I started a new one I would make a little collage on the inside front cover to sort of launch the whole thing. I am about to start a new one so I decided to make a painting on the cover. The photo is from the Clint Eastwood High Plains Drifter photo tribute I did one sunny afternoon in April. My dad gave me this very nice gray poncho shawl thing with fringe and it made me think of Clint, except with green grass and dandelions. What I am most excited about is seeing what happens to the painting as it gets worn out as the sketchbook gets used. Painting on the gray board was a challenge and I switched back to the old play set of watercolors. The weekend is over and I think we are back to rain on Monday. Osama Bin Laden has been killed and his body taken into American custody, a strange description. I am not jumping up and down. So much blood has been shed, so many dollars spent and we're still no closer to a peaceful society, maybe it just isn't in our nature.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Don't slash

More reasons to just end it all now because you'll just never be this good. Variety Showcase.

I'm kidding of course (sort of). Alas in spite of all absence of prowess in any medium we continue to bang our bloodied heads against the walls of creative self expression. Looking for ways to let our tiny voices be heard, our malformed ideas sprouting like vines from under nuclear reactors. We make what we can, what else is there to do? It's spring and damn it's pretty out and it would be sad to have come this far only to miss summer so just pick up your knitting or whatever and put down that razor blade.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Better than yesterday

Incredibly, sleep cures everything. With only one small near death freak out experience right as I dropped off, the night was pleasant and dream filled. I can't recall what the dreams were about now but that is typical. The cat kept purring and stepping on me, I do remember that. He's awfully heavy but makes up for it by being the best highest quality free cat ever. The weekend officially ended at 3pm today and I whacked a huge section of dry blackberries out of the area behind my house while taking a break from using my brain non-stop. When Pearl was safely home I took a short nap because I am inevitably sad once my husband clears out and I am left to face the week on my own. Who will make my supper, why is there no wine? These are my immediate concerns. Not bad.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Duality

Best not to comment too specifically on what's really pissing me off the most today so instead I am thinking dreamy thoughts about "Fantastic Mr Fox" and how perfect art can be in contrast to this fucked up dreary existence we are all leading. Another pair of shoes? Why yes, I'll take two.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Queen

I grew up with the Queen looking down on me like god in places where it behooved me to speak quietly, particularly the Post Office in the small northern town where I lived. And because I was not trained formally to believe in god I did believe in the queen because she was so real and ever present. I felt my parents, who had emigrated from Great Britain, were somehow related to her. The young Queen who I encountered behind the Post Office wickets, wore a beautiful blue gown and sash sporting her very lovely yet understated crown, surrounded by a gilt frame covered in a patina of small town dust. She was the Queen of the school I attended, she was always there looking down on me with an expression that was part benevolence part duty. She represented many of the values I was raised with, staying calm, speaking well, tending the garden, wearing rubber boots in spring, thinking sensible thoughts and not showing off, all good stuff I think. As The Royal Wedding approaches and the excitement builds for William and Kate's big day I see the Queen as less of a god and more like a granny who must be terribly proud of her grandson. I bet she feels sad about the Lady Di business, she is after all only human and being British the stiff upper lip does quiver at times. I know mine will on the big day.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Unfinished

Self Portrait in progress 04/14/11

Here's the latest self portrait I am working on. I have switched to larger paper and am taking a slower approach. In the beginning I would paint the thing in one sitting. This piece I drew last week with 2H lead which is harder and leaves less information on the paper. I finally sat down and started to paint this morning after I dropped Pearl at school. Hopefully I will be able to add more color to this one, baby steps. When I went to bed last night the moon was out, casting shadows in the yard and I slept well and had some good dreams which is always a pleasure. Today is sunny and cool a stark change from the snow we woke up to yesterday. I took the dog for a walk on the road and am now settling in to my office to do my client work. And so it goes another day.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Process

As much as I drag my feet when it's time to put a proposal together for a job I found today that I actually felt good about doing it. This is an improvement. I like making money and I feel pretty sure that what I do has real value. Where it gets sticky for me is laying out the entire process and assigning a dollar amount to each task, every job is different, each client is unique. So I decided to approach it in a different way. I started a few days ago, making a sketch of the process, a time line of sorts. I broke the whole process into 4 phases and then broke down the tasks in each phase and assigned time to each one. Now if I get the job I won't have to do much thinking about the process because I will have it all mapped out and if you're like me structure is super important. It's funny these little moments of clarity I have. I have been doing this work a long time but I still try to make the process better each time. I don't want to go through life dragging my feet, dreading the minutiae. I was inspired this week by this artist. We are not robots and there is a creative aspect to everything I do. After I sent my proposal off I went for a long drizzly walk, it snowed this morning, and tonight after I fulfill my duties as a mom I will reward myself with some more portrait painting.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Trade

©2011 Rolling Table on Wheels

I have a list as long as my arm of things I want to do. Some of them I have to do, like finish my taxes and make more money but still I manage to come up with other things to add to this list ensuring it will never be complete. I wonder if when I am 97 I will start backing off on the list thing. I have had on my list or rather on my radar a table on wheels for my office. Apparently I have been thinking about it for quite some time because in speaking to my friend Greg today he said oh yes the old table on wheels idea. Hmmm. Greg's a woodworker and so I asked if I could take a woodshop class over at his house to build the damn thing and he agreed. In return I promised to browbeat him into building a website for himself which he can totally do and I will just keep him focused on the task and make it pretty for him. Attached is the sketch of said table and Greg said I should make a 3-D model of it using Sketch-Up. Because we are getting older and our brains are shrinking I have recently dedicated myself to learning to use new programs and to use the programs I already know how to use better. Look at that, an entire post and I didn't even mention death once. Must be spring.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Jealousy

Lately I seem to be questioning everything, actually I guess I have always questioned everything except maybe relationship choices, that's another story. I question the whole blogging thing, why do we do it? What the hell is the point? And Facebook? Why? (Another day there too.) Who really gives a shit? I came across this blog during my constant quest for attention, recognition and understanding about why people read other peoples blogs. Is it to get info about great products to help streamline your important experience as a stay-at-home frustrated mom or to get more recipes that you will never cook because all you eat is salad and cereal? I am looking for inspiration, I am looking for a reason to stay here, to stay in the game. I met a friend in the bank the other day, he has lung cancer. We talked a little bit about that and he asked me if I had ever had a psychotic break and I laughed and said well no in fact, but I do spend every minute of every day trying to avoid having one. I have merely dipped my toes into panic attacks and deep depression but I am trying to steer clear of a full psychotic break at all costs. So I blog, and I look for other blogs out there to help me along. So sorry if I don't get why some house wife in Alabama with a visually confusing blog about her 11 kids has 6 billion followers and I have 20 and about 6 who read every time I post. It doesn't matter, the activity of posting creates my safe haven and the little comments only serve to encourage me, and while I feel jealous of those goddamn popular mommy bloggers, this is who I am really paying attention to. Props to Cupcake for making her visible to me.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ranting Rant Rant

I think Rupert Murdoch has the ability to change the course of American politics and perhaps the world at large. There, I said it. Glenn Beck has been sent packing and driving north today I thought about the power this media outlet wields and how they waste it. Like leaving the gas pumping onto the pavement at the gas bar. Inconsiderate sons of bitches laying to waste so much potential. If there is a god I hope he smites them, really smites them hard with dirty pointed sticks, with thorns and conjunctivitis. Sadly though, Glenn will go and be successful elsewhere, maybe on some Tea Party network and Fox will get their advertisers back and everyone will go back to buying toilet paper at Walmart to wipe their gigantic asses and I'll opt to disappear into the Canadian wilderness with my books and my knitting and my tiny morsel of hope that I keep in a canning jar. Sweet dreams America, how'd you get so fat anyway?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Looking busy

Recently completed coat.

Try to keep busy. Apparently after all these years of existence this is all we can collectively come up with to keep our minds off what troubles us. Be it religious genocide, eternal strife, impending death or absent children. Keep busy the chorus sings. I sew to fill the time between doing client work and lying motionless on the couch, my mind running wild with scenarios of danger cooked up from the local news and periodic viewings of crime shows. Pearl is going off for a few days with her dad and I will practice the time honored tradition of keeping busy. I still remember the weight of responsibility the first night I spent with her and I took it on, my instinct to nurture and protect overtook me. So now you might think a few days off would be something I look forward to but instead it is just the opposite. I feel like the herding dog, left purposeless, panting and nervous at the gate waiting for its flock to return. My little flock of one who lays sleeping 15 feet away from me.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

New SIte!

…and it's live. The website I have been working on for the past year or so is finally here. The plight of the Shoemaker's barefooted children is true. I spend way more time on client work than I do on my own promotional efforts but like most things I set my hand to, they do get done, eventually. It is with great pride that I launch my fourth website associated with my own company. One tip, it works more like a book than a website. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sleep Disorder

So it turns out that my habit of falling asleep at the the drop of hat and then waking up screaming, sometimes kicking and in a panic that death has a stranglehold on me is an actual thing. It's a sleep disorder with a long name that I've already forgotten. I slept better last night with this info so there will be no pill taking for me. With my personal history I do not need another thing to potentially make a habit of. So there, sleep well if you can. It's hit or miss for me, sometimes the night is friendly sometimes it's an asshole.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Off-Track

I'm easily stymied. If in between things, at the end of one thing and not quite ready to begin another thing, I drift. Until I am ready to engage my brain in focused thoughtful work I loiter in the kitchen and eat or mindlessly clean dog nose prints off the doors, or just sit and stare. I am easily distracted and what felt up a week ago now feels down. I don't want to cook, I don't want to start my taxes. I need to think of numbers and scenarios for a client that I may or may not want. The things I want to be doing are jammed up behind the things I should be doing which are in turn pushed up against the things I am not doing and so I can feel my mood spiraling into chaos. To make matters worse I ate a crappy fast food hamburger today, the worst in terms of self destructive behavior in my books. The sensible thing of course is to stop whining and take a walk or a ride or do the pilates DVD I bought but have yet to do. I feel better just writing this itchiness down somewhere, thanks for listening big empty blog void.

One positive note, I saw "Secretariat" and really liked it. Who doesn't love a good horse story.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Self Portrait Tuesday

Here's my painting for today. It's a bit wonky as I painted it from a photo taken with my phone. Generally I print these photos out but last night I just used my phone. It was challenging, the photo had almost no color and I am still struggling with the paint in tubes. I also need some new brushes. I still have those feelings as I drop off to sleep that I have forgotten to reset some kind of alarm that will prevent me from dying, and I wake feeling disoriented my lap covered in books, pen in hand. I am trying to break my bedtime TV habit choosing instead to make notes about the following day, further efforts to keep myself on task. It seems to be helping my generalized anxiety. This is a busy week culminating in a busy weekend, so off I go.

I am reminded of my mother who never slept in but at the end of her life in her methadone haze she would sleep late. I would look in on her and on one particularly sunny February morning she admitted to secretly enjoying the laziness of sleeping in. Today I admit to really enjoying being stripped bare by these paintings, making them and posting them and not worrying about what anyone thinks about them, it's delicious.
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