Thursday, January 29, 2015

dyefest dreams

Two consecutive days of sunshine and I'm dreaming in color.

I was also in the studio packing up some orders and had a hard time finding any purples or browns.

The raw materials have dwindled.
I'll have to do an inventory and 
see what's on sale at  my sources.

If anyone has any worn, holey or raggedy cotton or linen tablecloths, etc. that you were going to dump, get in touch!

I'm feeling the need for blue/gold/green fingers and feet even though dye season is months away.

I want to be ready when the first string of days of 75+ degree weather is on us.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A book review and giveaway!

   "Poole's Paradise”            by John Vorhaus - 

In keeping with my promise to self to spend as much time reading as writing (liar!) I'm going to be reviewing the books here from time to time. After a year of heavy duty personal tests, all I want from my entertainment lately, is, well, entertainment. 

I'm happy to report that John Vorhaus delivers big time with “Poole's Paradise”.

Set in a New England college town in the mid-seventies, young Alexander Poole has already twigged to the hard truth that the world does not revolve around him and he's okay with it, ready to take in what life has to teach. 

To label this a coming of age story would be missing a bet. I promise you'll be rewarded with some unexpected wisdom. You know, the things that make you go “Hmmm.”

Alex is looking for answers, and his place in this world, as many of us were, in a time when the only way to get the True Truth was to interact with people face to face, ask questions and weigh the answers; take chances, have adventures and deal with the consequences of your actions in real time. Flesh and blood! No Google, no Wikipedia, no texting. Hell, pay-phones were few and far between.

I'm willing to bet that the vast majority of my readers had their college experiences in the late sixties to mid seventies. If you kept sufficient brain cells intact and memory persists, mean existence will fall away as you slip in to “Poole's Paradise” and you will recall how fraught with double edged delights those years actually were. I could almost be sad for young people today. Almost.

Yes, yes, there's sex, drugs and rock and roll and a class or two, here and there, but all in (usually) well considered measures and all to a purpose. Not only does the author pin the times, places and people to the wall perfectly, he gets the social mindset (or lack thereof) right on. He does it all justice and then some, working our language like a circus ringmaster works lions and tigers.

I hope Vorhaus gets to write the screenplay when the time comes. I laughed out loud in many places and was kept turning pages when I should have been trying to get some sleep. Who needs to sleep when you are time traveling?

Hey, don't take my word for it. I just now read a fistful of great reviews. Let the casting begin!

If you are at all interested  email me and I'll eventually have Sweetie pick a random winner and I'll send you my spare copy of “Poole's Paradise”. You'll just have to live with fact that it's inscribed by the author to yours truly which is another tale itself.

PS. I immediately indulged myself with my first electronic read, 
Lucy in the Sky” - also by John Vorhaus. Set a few years further back in time than Poole's Paradise, when we were all pretty much in the dark about what came next in life. Big questions, big answers all delivered with his signature whip cracking language at a pace that never lets up. Wonder is a watchword. 

Loved the book but hated the e-reading experience. Call me a Luddite, but I'll suffer the wait for the paper editions from now on.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sight & Sound

Something very new from the other Creative under the roof, Colin Lacativa.

The music will be available at here at midnight tomorrow.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

still seeking truth

I popped my head into the studio this morning just as the sun came over the ridge. So cold in there I could see my breath.

I may drag the heater in there and futz around later on. After cooking and cleaning and maybe a walk and most certainly, a nap.

Arlee Barr picked me to carry on this Art Chain thing on FB. I really can't imagine doing it for five days. I rummaged around in my image files and found some good images of somewhat recent work, if 2012 can be considered recent. Still, I needed to look at the real things I used to make.

While in here, I took a hard look at a piece that's been hanging on the small design wall since it was stuck to the canvas in 2010.

"Firefly Cotillion" even made it to the front of my business cards that year. A pretty good representation of what I was up to at the time.

I studied it for a while and started thinking about how all these little elements seemed to running around inside their life looking for something.

 Not lost or desperate, but purposeful, like they knew they'd find it eventually, if they just kept at it. Little seekers.

Without looking things over, I think it's a theme that runs through my work still.
 details from "Firefly Cotillion"

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

someday I'll finish this

I pulled "Firmament" from the chaos of the studio and added it back to the river basket. If I can do nothing else, I can make french knots with gold metallic thread.

For the first time this piece is putting me in mind of the ceiling at Grand Central Station in New York.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sunday, January 18, 2015

a sunday stitch

Some days nothing comes easy. There is no order or sense to events. This is what happens to me when I only have twentyfour hour span with no obligations or responsibilities.

 Here is something I know about. The river basket has be waiting patiently.

(Jake & Charlie stopped by and we went out for a slice. It's been a while)

5pm and the winter light fails for the day. My fingers are stiff and balky but can still feel the needle through the layers.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Lifted Up

What a treat. Got up early to catch up on some routine household stuff that had gotten away from me. Fed the cats and took my coffee back to bed and started in on my Christmas gifts.

I won't whine about not having enough time to read. Bye bye FB.

I made a run to B&N to cash in a gift card and got a copy of "the Bone Clocks" by David Mitchell. I normally don't buy hardcover but after spending an hour trying to find anything else I was happy to find at least one book that was on my to read list.

The contents of the shelves in the fiction aisle was mostly stomach turning tripe if the back covers were any indication of what was inside. Life is good.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

a spin cycle in perdition

this is copied from a letter to a friend. If you are as tired of illness as I am, skip this one. Come back another day. I'll live.

"This is the first time I've been near the computer since Monday night. On the way home from Charlie's I stopped at Burger King and by midnight I was deathly ill. In all the years I have indulged at fast food joints, this is the first time I've had actual food poisoning. 

the funny part is that in my day job, one of the things I do is take reports of customer illnesses from restaurant managers. Sometimes we snicker amongst ourselves. No more. And I know why people don't bother going to the doctor. It comes on too fast and you'd die in the waiting room, if you could get seen at all. There is nothing to do but suffer.

I literally spent most of the night sitting on the john with a trash can between my knees. At one point all three of our cats were sitting there watching me. I think they had a pool going to see when I'd pitch forward to land face down in the litter box.

The next 24 hours I lay in the bed, staggering to from the bathroom. Ebola would have been nice. At least the CDC would have come taken me to a nice hospital bed. Colin delivered ginger ale and water at arms length because, at first, I thought I had finally gotten the stomach virus that Jake and Missy had but the speed at which this blew through my body pointed to a bad whipper. 

At some point Tuesday afternoon, my mother's ghost visited me. I wasn't even surprised. 

First she called on the phone and then we sat at her kitchen table. Drinking coffee, me waving off her cigarette smoke, the two of us eating half a Sara Lee pound cake. we argued, I appealed to logic. She gave me her wisdom of the ages routine . All the time she was making her Christmas list.
It was so real.

After a night of dreamless sleep I woke up feeling like I had been trampled like elephants. I am fairly sure I have a broken rib. I woke up in time to have my little buddy delivered to my doorstep since I was still breathing and able to be upright. His little face was good medicine.

At some point in my delirium, my friend, the artist Pat Chauncey, died after a long struggle with cancer.

We never met but over the course of the past two years she has been a source of strength and inspiration. She will be missed by a vast army of friends and family.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

choice bits

I wasn't expecting to spend the day with Charlie today but, it was that or housework. Tough choice. He's teething and likes to chew on stuff like a puppy. And put his feet into his mouth.

It was a good writing day. I made myself laugh several times. I don't know if that's a good sign or not, but I'm happy with it. Sometimes you lose your way. Today was a wayfinding day.

Also gave over two plus precious hours to a movie late in the day. "Birdman" starring Michael Keaton, was remarkable. Just astonishing film adventuring, particularly if you are fond of the theater.

 I'm staying with my plan of NOT watching trailers - going into a film with no idea what I was getting into. I will not be shy about asking for a refund if a movie turns out to be really bad. So far, no losers.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

trick or tool (from Feb 2012)

I have been idly dreaming about having a small, vintage manual typewriter, as if that would help. I don't even know if I can still type on a manual machine and if I started using one would it wind up crippling me and what about that day job? I still spend eight hours a day on the computer and get paid for it. No matter how I lust after the sleek, shiny black vintage machines for sale all over the web, I'm not going to get one until I actually put my fingers on the keyboard and whack away for awhile; see how it feels.

 Although I had an ancient manual typewriter as a kid, I never learned to touch type until the late eighties on a computer keyboard. The whole notion is probably a pipe dream fueled by watching a couple of episodes of Band of Brothers last weekend. There were several scenes of a soldier pecking away at portable typewriter, so incongruous yet so ubiquitous during World War II.

I spent a lot of time over the weekend looking for an archive of the music that used to be on my Ipod. Last week I accidentally gave the poor little thing a lobotomy and thought that restoring it would be a click or two away. Hah! That restoration took the better part of the weekend but mission accomplished. I'm finding that sleeping with earbuds in and the volume turned way, way down on the playlist sinisterly entitled “sleepingpod” is has a canceling effect on my increasingly aggravating tinnitus. Some interesting dream trains have left the station as well.

In the middle of that file search I came across a long lost short story that I started back in the early '90s. To my surprise it still had legs, crookedy and wobbling, but legs. What started out as a harmless and common fantasy tale rolled quickly into Twilight Zone/Stephen King territory, no surprise to anyone who knows me. This file was created and saved in an ancient program called Lotus Word Pro (I still have the floppy discs somewhere) and had been clumsily converted to a more universal file type. There were many errors in that conversion; formatting was lost and a myriad of crazed hieroglyphs were randomly inserted in the text. It was also obvious that there was no spell checker in the house and/or the writer was somehow impaired.

Dropping this file into OpenOffice and starting to edit it just for typos and formatting was good for most of yesterday morning. What with the side trips and diversions that are all too available when working on a laptop with a great internet connection, the morning evaporated with little to show for it and now, Tuesday morning is well on it's way to history too. All this brought me back to thinking about what it would be like to use an old typewriter with just enough interference between the brain and the paper to check my pace and keep my thoughts in order, without the distractions.

My first typewriter was a behemoth from the thirties or forties that my mother dragged home from a yard sale. I really can't recall the make, something common like Remington or Underwood, but due to it's advanced age, ribbons for it were impossible to find. I bought fresh, replacement ribbons for whatever brand I could get cheap and then wind them by hand onto the large metal spools of my machine – messy but effective. It had trapdoors on the side for access to the ribbons and at some point, I allowed my pet rat to hide out inside the machine. We won't talk about the day that I idly tapped a key and snipped off the tip of his tail.

I typed my homework for fun which probably bothered my teachers. I don't know what they were expecting when they came across my typed papers in a stack of hand scrawled assignments but I rarely delivered if my grades were any measure of success. When I figured out that a C or B would keep me out of jail or the doghouse with my parents, that was good enough for me. Grading should be kept secret from kids as long as possible.

I also wrote letters, specifically, begging letters to all the missions to the United Nations for every flyspeck country that belonged to the UN and a few that didn't. I'm sure my name got on some government lists when I was eight or nine. 

What I was begging for was canceled postage stamps from their home countries and, man, where they happy to oblige. I think I must have created at least a handful of jobs for people working at carefully tearing off the colorful, beautiful stamps from letters sent from all over the world. I didn't really even have a collection РI had a hoard! I started out with the best intentions, like all those skipping down the road to hell, but the response to my letters was so overwhelming that I quickly became blas̩ about the stack of fat, brown envelopes that would be waiting for me when I got home from school. After a quick perusal for anything new or different, everything got tossed in the desk drawer but I kept pounding out letters and spending my allowance on postage.

Once I got tired of getting duplicates of stamps that I already had too many of, I turned to typing papers for classmates who would dictate to me over the phone or give me chicken scratch notes on legal pads. Bigger brains than mine who didn't have access to a typewriter abounded. Then again there were the papers that I corrected and finally, rewrote,  until a couple of teachers twigged and recognized my style scattered throughout the three fifth grade history and English classes. My career as a copywriter/editor was squashed by a short meeting with the principal where I promised to stop giving it away and promised myself to charge more and work more carefully.

All these years later and I'm still giving it away and someplace in a second hand store or, more likely, a landfill, there is a hulking, golden typewriter with the mummified remains of a rat's tail tip deep in it's bowels.

Thursday, January 08, 2015


Just a quick note of thanks to everyone who commented here and to those who reached out to me privately. 

To better days, lots of them.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

not depression

I'm coming to terms with the fact that there will always be sets of cues or circumstances that will just plain rip my heart open. Yesterday was one of them. I was well enough to venture out for some provisions. Just before leaving, I missed a call on the cell. It was from someone who I haven't heard from in too long. Someone who never called me or acknowledged Jimmy's passing. It hurt then and I let it go. The missed call took me right back to square one.

After venting to my dear sister long distance, I decided that any further negativity would not serve anything. I couldn't be angry. I just didn't have the sap for it.

The outing wiped me out and I came home and crawled under the covers too sick and sad and sorry for myself to even cry. I missed Jimmy so much. His caring, his love, his concern for my well being. I have been out of reserves and running on empty. I was tired of being tough. It would be too much like work to lay down and die. The only thing that kept me going was that my grandson was coming to spend the day the next day. I was needed. And needed in shape to handle the day. So I washed my face and made a point of getting a good night's rest. Safe to say, this little scrap of life is saving mine.

Charlie was five months old on the first of the year and growing and changing while I watch. From the very first time I held him I felt my husband's love, down through our son, to this child and if no one is around, I have a little cry for myself. A joy cry.

Trouble is, I have to stop it somehow because today, Charlie caught me and I could see concern and confusion on his little face. It was quite remarkable. He almost always greets me with a smile. First comes the recognition and then, the emotion, he's happy to see me.

Now I watch him examining faces for cues before he reacts. Already he knows that it's not all about him. He's rolling over in all directions and will probably stand and walk before he's any good at crawling, just like his Daddy and his uncle. .

So after the lunch jug today, he fussed a little and I tucked him up under my chin. I can feel his whole body relax and give over to his need for rest. He heaved a sigh, patted me on the left shoulder three time, crammed his right hand into my cleavage and was asleep. I'll cry now kiddo. Quietly.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Lost Weekend Redux

Dispiriting is putting it mildly.

I don't even care enough to feel bad about it. Since midday Thursday I am simply taking up space and resources. It was only three weeks ago that I suffered a whole week of being sick. I can't tell cold from flu. It hardly matters once it's on you. If  boogers were gold I'd be rich, rich, rich.

Amazon Prime has disgorged a heap of new books that I can't open my eyes wide enough to read and this is as much as I can manage with my new wireless keyboard,  the old one dispatched by a strategically placed cat hurk.

When I finally figured out that  the new season of Downton Abby would not be airing last night (or did it?) I went back to the bed. 

I knew I couldn't read or type so the only thing I had with me was a yellow legal pad and a pencil. How much harm could I do? I wanted to think about my other novel, the one I started first. Think in organizational terms. It's no wonder the name on my Christmas stocking read “Fool”.

There was one line on the pad this morning – don't forget your purpose –   followed by a rather ominous void. I don't know if  I was writing about writing or life. I still don't and I still don't have any answers. 

But this morning I am able to take a whole breath, stand up long enough to put away some clean dishes and type this up. I'm alive and there's a mission out there somewhere. 

the sun beckoned me into the studio but the view was depressing.
studio in post holiday chaos

Thursday, January 01, 2015

to the new year

"Live in the moment, remember the past, dream for the future"

2014 was a difficult year. Necessarily transformational. There were many lows, but the highs shine the brightest.  There will be many more radical changes going forward. I've come to recognize how spoiled I was by the stability of my old life. Now, being primary caretaker for this little guy trumps all other concerns.
I am so honored and blessed.

As to working with fiber, I still just don't know.

At the very least I will be taking advantage of a glut of raw materials and be dying vintage cloth and threads for other fiber artists. Gal's gotta make a living, still.

The writing goes forward. Talk about uncharted territory! All I keep seeing about writing and publishing is - there are no RULES! Baloney.

No matter what medium you are working in you have to know the rules before you can do a good job of breaking them.