Improv, Improve

I’ve spent most of the past week building and doing a lot of crawling around on the studio floor, and I now have a lovely wee drybox / stack dryer system for making flat sheets (yes, me) plus, at last, a small counter next to the sink.  All of it was built with recycled lumber, save for a way-too-nice sheet of sanded birch plywood contributed by Paul. It was exactly the right size I needed, cut in half. Oh, and I did go and buy a new fan. The system is built into an old worktable I slapped together many years ago in my Pilsen studio, also made of unfinished scrap. Now it’s all shored up, sanded, waterproofed and beginning its third life. The build was fraught with odd setbacks (it took a day to sawdust-proof the studio; all three people who volunteered to help cancelled, so I built it alone; Paul’s brand-new sander burned out and died exactly 12 minutes out of its box; working with odd-sized scrap lumber is like putting together a puzzle with missing pieces, and so on). But, it’s done and lovely.  There are features you can’t see, such as having the output protected but ventilated, and a filtered intake; the fan is cushioned against vibration and you can work on the table easily while the system is running. I think it’s also quiet, but how can I tell?  It can dry sheets up to 24″ x 28″. I’ll be using it almost immediately. Below: before and after.

During all that, I got my first pair of prescription glasses ever; progressive bifocals.  But they’re going back; the close focus needs major adjustment.  That, along with extensive testing because I hadn’t had my eyes checked since high school, took an entire day, and I hope it doesn’t take another to fix them.  Particularly since it involves going to a mall. But other than the fact that they’re just plain old, my eyes are fine and healthy.

There’s lots more, but no time.  My work was cited in this article, and I am pleased. There’s no author credit, but: somebody gets it.  Thanks, whoever you are.

(Oh wait; I just noticed it’s part of the 40 over 40 series that Chicago Art Mag has been running. There was a call for mature artists. I could have entered myself but didn’t.  So serendipitous to have that arrive along with bifocals, no?)

Even a false Spring…

Busy busy busy, with not much to say, so I’ll say what I can with photos.

The rest of these arrived…

…and duly traveled to where my work lives between shows. LOOK! Almost no snow.

Now they are moving around in smaller batches, so I really needed to make this…

…and I decided that it’s time to live with a few. They glow in the increasing light, instantly remind me of so very, very many good things.

I eliminated most of the web site quirks and had a lovely sushi fest and favourite bar-athon with special peeps this week; there were some nice offers in the inbox (thanks!), but one missed deadline. Today: plans have been drawn up, materials and volunteer help have been gathered and a satisfying bit of building begins in the paper studio; metaphorical building continues. Onward…

Two Fourteen Eleven

If you are in the Chicago area (or if you can get here), we want you.  Just think: if you had taken this class, you might’ve had much less cabin fever while snowed in…

This morning I woke to a valentine card.  I don’t think either of us has ever acknowledged this particularly commercial holiday before, together or separately.  It seems odd to have that happen after we’ve been married, rather than early on when (presumably) we were trying to impress each other. Odd is good. I hope you had a fine VDay, if it’s something you celebrate.

Otherwise, we move on and things move in and out.  These contain bookshrooms. One crate got shipped out and two of three crates came home, but the identical third went to Fort Worth for some odd reason.  Technology was definitely that way too, but I finally got large web site changes mostly finished and with great effort, published, though it took a long late-night tech support chat session to make that happen, and the site still has many odd quirks that need tweaking; endless. Downstairs, an old friend (on his first visit to make use of my studio) employed cutter and beater to turn a large piece of old linen into new sketchbook pages in less than five hours. Here they are loft drying in posts:

What else?  Arranging things, planning the next projects, beginning to get ready for Penland. The snow is melting, and I have lovely new rubber boots that are as comfortable as old shoes. It’s all odd, all good, and…that’s all.

Typically Atypical.

I’m having a busy February, atypically so, but my body wants to deny that and be in hibernation while the tundra is frozen. This leaves me feeling a wee bit scattered and up in the air even when I can easily see progress, which makes no sense, which is, in fact, typical for February.  Still, I love living in four full seasons.

I’ve had an equal number of disappointments and delights fly in and out of the inbox this week. I’m looking forward to the day, which may (I hope) come soon when I will be free to evolve the Blahg into what I’d like it to become. Right now, too much is happening to even effectively continue the dull diaristic thang; I need to live it, not write it. I’ve been working on the web site when I can, which makes me need to get away from the computer altogether.  So far, I’ve only published the odd bibliography page.

Out in the world: if you are near Philadelphia, I have work in this show, which opens this Sunday, February 13, thanks to curator Lisa Heller.  If you are near Denver that day Aimee Lee will teach you about the wonders (and they are many) of Hanji here; and if you can’t, you have a second chance to hear about hanji from Aimee on February 16. And if you are in Chicago, get on over to North Branch Projects for a visit or one of the Community Binding sessions.  I (finally) visited earlier this week, and I was impressed; you will be too. And there are still  spaces open in Portable Papermaking at Evanston Print & Paper, March 5th. If you can come to North Carolina for eight weeks (you know you want to!), there are still three places open in the veritable paper and book extravaganza at Penland…where I will also be showing work in the spring instructor’s exhibition.  And if you are in the Pacific Northwest, you can still go see Tim Ely’s show at the Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane through April 16.  I ran into this great article late, but I’m glad I did, and I wish I could see it.

In the regular mail, UPS, FedEx and out visiting old Aiko’s friends and others, no disappointments and only delights, including comfy new rubber boots and an envelope of gifts from the North Country from Velma and Nolan: books and stories…thank you!

Pleasantly Adrift (with postscript)

Happy Imbolc, Chinese New Year and Snowpocalypse, Day Two.  Chicago was/ is supposedly the epicenter of the massive storm; this morning’s Trib sums up the impact on Chicago.  Personally, I rather love storms (and being snowed in) and this one was (and is still) quite spectacular.  Our power was out from 6 last night to 6:30 this morning, though, and that meant no heat, but we could light the stove. I bundled up, drank lots of hot ginger tea, and read by flashlight till midnight, stopping periodically to watch it all through the windows, particularly during the surreal thunder and lightning. Our 24-hour blizzard warning lifts in about 3 hours.  I’ll probably just have to venture out, alone because dog Lupe who normally loves snow refuses to leave the back porch. The drifts are well over her head. If you’re where it’s heading next, stay warm and enjoy.

In another world, I truly appreciated this thoughtful analysis of (S)Edition that appeared online a few days ago. I’m quite pleased that someone finally ‘got’ the darkness in the piece, though the writer in this case seems to have focused on those aspects. Most often, it’s the other way around; folks respond to (S)Edition’s playfulness and humor and shy away from its disturbing aspects. Still, it was my intention to open up a complex, wide-ranging resonance using a deceptively simple image, and it’s most gratifying to have someone thoroughly engage with it.  Thanks, Ms. Alissa: though it might have been scarier, I wish you could have seen all 99.

While I was writing this, the snow stopped and our street was actually plowed – that’s record time!  Below is a giant SUV abandoned in the middle of the street, shot just over an hour ago.  Several neighbors came out to push it to the curb for the plow. Fun! Though digging out, I predict, will not be.

PS: Five hours later.  Paul’s snowblower laid down and died almost immediately. Ditto for a second one.  Seven neighbors from four households (including me) with one functional snowblower between us banded together and shoveled out all our houses and cars and did the same for a few of our elderly neighbors as well.  The piles of snow are taller than me.

Two freed Subarus…