Sunday, October 14, 2018

History Repeats Itself (Maybe)

It's a long story why I couldn't take a new picture so you'll suffer along with an OLD picture while I tell my story- a story involving parallel universes and time travel and yes, history (possibly) repeating itself(although the image is pertinent.)
I am hard at work constructing things that look like pillows, but are actually sculptures. (Yes, they can be used as pillows and if you come to City Wide Open Studios in New Haven on the last weekend of the month, you'll be informed of all the many uses...) These (admittedly soft) sculptures all bear the now iconic WTF motif. I am making a brilliant pile of these sculptures so as to function as an irresistible heap of jewel-toned eye candy. We'll see how well this works. I have warned Bob that we will no doubt become the permanent custodians of many "sculptures" and lucky friends and family members know what they will be getting for Xmas this year.
Which leads to my historic sad-sack pillow story. When I was 14 or 15 years old, I made a quilted pillow in an art class. As my mother (aka Mommy) was a seamstress, we had boxes and boxes of fabric remnants in our attic and I thought to fashion several more pillows from these scraps. A bit later, I thought to be enterprising, and I produced a slew of these laboriously hand made quilted pillows to try and sell at our local fair. My sister Beatrice and her partner John made stained glass objects and we decided to share a table. Beatrice and John cleaned up: they sold tons of their lovely stained glass pieces and bought a large color television with their profits. Guess how much I made? How about nada? I didn't even sell one (at a bargain $20 each!!!!). People looked at them and complimented me but couldn't even pony up a lousy $20 to help a kid see that her hard work and gumption paid off.  *1. Great lesson learned! WTF!!!!

And this story gets even worse as I further attempted to find an outlet for all that entrepreneurial energy and talent. I had Mommy drive me to a store in Guilford that had specialty items and one of a kind hand made niceties and I presented my pillows to the owner. This man dismissively commented that "they had pillows for sale made by blind people".*2. Well, that put the kabosh on my early efforts to "follow my bliss"; so much for "do what you love and the money will follow". Hahahaha.
So here we are, almost 48 years later, and I have a sudden sense of deja vu all over again. Didn't I already go that pillow route? Am I being set up by fate? That's where I come to the time travel part. I want to go back in time and help that young artist (ME!) rewrite her her-story and sell ALL the pillows- now "sculptures" (as art is obviously more expensive). I want a parallel universe to provide an entirely different outcome: I want success and to be rewarded for all my sweat-shop emulating, bloody finger-tip inducing, third world mimicking hard (American!) labor to pay off. Please, please just let me sell even one...*3.

*1. And here's another peculiar detail... I still have most of the pillows. No kidding! Our living room chairs sport many fine example of my childish sewing efforts. I guess they wore well... and were worth the measly $20 price!

*2. I admit the irony of me having damaged my left eye so that I now have limited sight and probably could get away with marketing my work as "having been made by blind people".

*3. The weirdest thing is that even if I bring all of the sculptures and tee shirts (yes! I'm doing tee shirts, too!) home with me, it can be said of me "she persisted". Let's face it: artists just don't give up and admit defeat easily.

Sunday, October 7, 2018


Somehow, Bob and I successfully miss giant parts of contemporary American "culture" and survive just fine thank you. This week, despite all the news (love affairs with murdering despots, less-than-Supreme Court nominees etc etc) Bob and I discovered The Kardashians.
It was one of those weird 3 o'clock in the morning discussions that arise when we both wake up and start taking about whatever odd subject crosses our minds. I can't recall- but I'll blame Bob- which one of us said, "Just who are The Kardashians?" We started to amass the little bits and bots we both know: they seem to have big butts and large (most probably) implanted lips. There are many of them, divided into camps: Kardashians and Jenners and they have alliterative names (Khloe, Kim, Kylie, Kibble, Kanye). But what did we really know about them?
I have been able to accidentally identify a segment of the cast of players simply by standing in check-out lines and reading magazine headlines and from following the news scroll while on the Internet. They are ubiquitous (did I need to remind you?) but we had no idea that they've been on air for something like 15 years. That's impressive and says something about America's affection for stupid rich people and "reality" TV.*
Bob spend the better part of an evening watching snippets of Kardashian highlights on YouTube. We learned charming trivia about the extended tribe including ex's with names like Scott Dicksick (hey! If I had a dick it would be sick after sleeping with a Kardashian!) and the bizarre pursuit of sperm so that "all of the children would have the same father". They seem to enjoy creating artificial kontroversies and konflicts within their elaborate dynasty; the better to propagate spinoffs. I don't care if they enthrall an audience of millions, Bob and I found The Empire of Special K boring and vapid. Gosh! What will we discover next week?**

*It also partially helps to explain The Orange Menace's ascension to power.
**In all honesty, The Kardashians did keep us from dwelling on the destruction of democracy for a few hours this week.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Terrible Week! But Good Harvest

Grapes! Tons of grapes! 84 squash! (count 'em... Bob did!) Lots of green (and yellow) beans in the freezer! Quite the bountiful harvest. And all of Nature's goodness offsets some of the cosmic shit swirling around. Sometimes it helps to just stop and count the squash...
I don't even want to dwell on or dive into why this week (past couple of weeks, actually) were so atrocious but I guess it starts with discovering a co-worker doing weird- and potentially dangerous- "research" on a work computer and the management not dealing with this in any way at all. Or my not getting a raise... and then we all get our hours cut. So work sucked!!
I guess I am dwelling on why things have been awful. And we get politics; yes, it all seems to devolve back to The Orange Menace and his evil agenda. A bit of lying and bragging to the UN and (more) insulting our allies. Supreme Court picks that are less than Supreme... triggering more than just a little PTSD in yours truly. Let's talk vegetables, please!
Well here's a bright spot. My sister Cathy gave us an exciting Day of the Dead decoration that, for all of it's being a dead person, looks pretty happy. Probably because it's not following the news. I do seem to be incapable of not listening to the horror story that is our current predicament.
Here's a happier note: I've been working my butt off in preparation for being included in a couple of shows and I'm receiving good feedback on my work.  For City Wide Open Studios this year, I'm pushing my "WTF" theme which has become a series and will be featured in my "WTF Emporium". Many colorful WTF items will be for sale and I just recently had a curator call me and rave about my work and wonder if  they could cluster a stack of my WTF pillows in a window. (They can't as I'm still making them!) But it was nice to know someone is thinking of me and my work!
Here's a small one I finished. My work was also put up on Instagram (in a promotional posting for a anti-gun show I'm included in) and called "quirky" which I think is just fine. I myself have been known to be "quirky" so I guess it's a good catch-all.
Today was a better day all around. Not only did I get good art input, I seemed to cross paths with better people who semi-restored a tiny bit of my (lack of) faith in humanity. If there are so many good/nice/reasonable people out there, why do all the bad/evil/insane people get into politics!??!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Planting That Big Tree Part 2

How's that for an ungainly silhouette? It's still bound up so it looks like those tall narrow things I pose next to at botanic gardens. Well, this is how I left off, with the tree awaiting planting...
So the next day- because we were all tuckered out from excavating enormous holes (like I could see the Chinese Embassy it was so deep!)- we vowed to get the tree installed in the ground, in it's new home.
I was certain that the tree- all 250 or 300 pounds of it- was going to land on Bob or me but it went swimmingly, thanks to Bob and his masterful engineering abilities. He laid planks sloping down into the hole and used a crowbar and a log and instructed me move what where as he carefully maneuvered the tree down.The next thing you know- hey presto! The tree was safely inserted. Bob even got finess-y about shifting just the right trunk to the front.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Biggest Tree We'll Ever Plant

Just be glad that I didn't write the blog I was starting yesterday! A hint: the title was "A Bad Mood". Enough of that! Today was great and my mood matched it because Bob and I bought a tree! That's it, wrapped up looking like some giant dildo and eliciting stares as we drove home.
 I have been researching and shopping for a clump of birches, partly because I have always admired them and partly because we have all this empty space cheerfully provided by that tornado that visited. We needed shade and a feature to partially block our neighbor's house and a focal point. I wanted something jazzy that had several seasons of interest. I really like the very white birches but have been warned that they succumb to all kinds of borers and leaf miners and they're brittle and they break. So I turned up several cultivars of Betula nigra (River birch, more familiarly) with the varieties "Duraheat" (lousy name!) and "Cully's Heritage" being recommended as particularly attractive with extra exfoliating bark- bronzey golden brown that peels to reveal salmon pink and creamy under bark, with foliage that turns vivid yellow in the fall. After many trips and phone calls to nurseries, I found what I was looking for...
It was a lovely day, we took a pleasant drive to one of our favorite nurseries and... they didn't have the size we were looking for, despite it being mentioned on a "specimens list" that had been emailed only the week before. All that was available were gigantic and twice what we were looking at spending. Alas! But another employee at the nursery checked and located one that was about to be "upgraded" and graduated to more expensive status as it had grown so lustily this year. She sold it to us for the lower price (literally like 1/2 the price!) Hooray!!!
They wrapped this cluster up and helped to load it and suddenly it appeared like twice as big as it had. I was shopping for a (hahahaha) five or six foot individual and we got us a ten foot tree at a bargain price and I started thinking, "And now we have to get this sucker home and plant it". I'm certain Bob was having similar thoughts. It just looked bigger and bigger and bigger.
As you can see in the above pictures, it rode home quite happily and we got it off the truck intact- or I should say, BOB got it off the truck with ropes and gently inching it towards the planks he posted at the rear of the truck and slid it down. I dutifully held ropes and pulled on my side but nothing budged; I tried.
But I sent Bob into the house after he wrestled the tree onto the ground. He needed a rest and I could handle the next phase: digging the biggest hole I've ever dug. I have graduated from annuals to perennials to shrubs and bushes and small saplings to trees! (But I assured Bob: this IS the biggest tree we will ever plant.)
And here's my lovely assistant Robin, ideally suited to helping me dig. She did a marvelous job of loosening the soil so that I could shovel it onto the pile.
The pile got even bigger than that! Bob is going to finish the hole tomorrow and then we're going to plant. I'll post additional pictures of that Herculean task. But in the meantime, take a look at the detail of this bark. This particular clump is nice, too, as it has four trunks and will create a really remarkable presence in the vast empty wilderness left by the tornadoes destruction. Why, it will probably look like it was always here. Let's see if our friends notice it the next time they visit!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Crazy Town!

A fair warning: for those of you who don't want to read an incoherent and obscure rant, just look at the pretty flowers and leave. (They are, by the way, all zinnias plucked from our cut flower area of the vegetable garden. Don't know why the colors got sort of dark; I think I was a bit late in photographing them and they are darkening with age. Then I manipulated the boring background.)
So nothing to report except... Fear! Unhinged! Fire and Fury! Lodestar! Collusion/No Collusion! Witch hunt! Lyin' New York Times! Lyin Ted Cruz! Lyin' Hillary! Hoax! Fake news!
Anonymous! I am the Resistance! WTF! Again: WTF! And I like that a new parlour game was invented: name the anonymous White House staff person responsible for the Op ED.
So, hi! I'm having an average week in an average year and lovin' it. I guess you have to go with it or lose your mind. I will leave it to others to determine whether I've lost my mind or not but welcome to Crazy Town! Are we supposed to feel relief that a few individuals in the administration see themselves as "adults" and voices of reason? That does little to reassure me. I do feel like we're being driven off a cliff and I didn't ask to go along on that ride.
I know, I know... this is the messy tirade that I threatened but I was on the verge of explosion and this blog posting was my safety valve to blow off steam before I went super nova. And I could go on and on and on. But I'll spare you and stop here. I will do better next time. I promise.*

* You want to know what would make me feel even better? Waking up and discovering this was all a really bad dream. Not gonna happen, is it?

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Bee in My Bonnet

While I may be referring to "bees in my bonnet" metaphorically- like I do have crazy things buzzing around mentally and emotionally and socially and politically, I'll put those temporarily on hold and discuss the REAL bees.
Case in point is our hummingbird feeder where our beloved hummingbirds gorge themselves at this time of year, in preparation for their long flight south for the winter months. However, instead of hummers, we have attracted hundreds of deranged and suicidal honey bees. These bees have a million flower choices to pick from but have somehow, in a misguided and fatal mission, decided to main line sugar water. They can't get enough: some of them actually squeeze themselves into the tiny holes provided for hummingbird beaks and then they drown. This is doubly terrible as the honeybees- pollinators that we are more than happy to draw to our garden and help make our local honey- are dying in our feeder in crazy numbers. And worse, my friends the hummingbirds are unable to dine at the feeder because of all the swarming bees! I can't win!
In disgust, I took down the feeder and cleaned it and have stored it for the season...
And on another even less appealing note, Bob calls my attention to the gigantic hornets nest (Or wasp nest?) that is being duly constructed outside my studio window. Who knew? I've had that window cracked open and have walked directly beneath that huge hive with nary a problem, blissfully unawares of the hundreds (perhaps thousands!) of wasps building a megalopolis above my head! Not much you can do about that until cold weather comes except be careful and don't go poking any long sticks into it! There are plenty of other places to go looking for trouble!