Limbering (after Limbo)

This is the first image I ever saw of the soon-to-be-mine Bronze Beater. That long green wire was the (scary) way it was grounded electrically. Yikes.

Earlier this week, I finally, finally, finally broke through a gargantuan writer’s block, which was (not surprisingly) centered around another academic cover letter and somehow extended to everything I needed to write.  This block was even more of a monster than the one I had for a similar endeavor exactly two years ago. In celebration, I decided to take Thursday off, and played around in the morning, and spent the afternoon and evening in the studio, just pulling sheets, making something for an old friend, thinking about my next piece, enjoying guilt-free free time.

Friday, the e-mail: “the beater will be finished today or tomorrow” and these lovely small photos, taken as its roll and bedplate were being ground in.  Hooray!

Today, off to Vespine to say my final farewell and pick up my piece.

Tonight and tomorrow: pack up the piece to immediately be shipped elsewhere, where it will soon be included in a fabulous online auction.  I’ll post a link when it’s ready, but plan ahead! You will be able to Buy This Book, and help fund a marvelous place —>

Also today and tomorrow: finish printing, burning cds and packing up applications and other things: massive mailing on Monday.  The rest of the week: big big studio revisions, receiving and storing all the work from The Leaf and The Page, and then: figuring out the logistics of the Beater Retrieval Road Trip!

Sea In Sight

I bought a better desk chair. Interview finished (fun but painstaking) and sent, another web page revised, another cover letter ready for (extensive) editing, more (aiee) new opportunities have been added to the February first deadline. By then I will have been writing and editing and re-writing and re-editing for an entire month of wan grey days.

Silence is an ocean.

Speech is a river.

When the ocean is searching for you, don’t walk

into the language-river. Listen to the ocean,

and bring your talky business to an end.

Traditional words are just babbling

in that presence, and babbling

is a substitute for sight. – Jalal ad-Din Rumi

Later today, close to the ocean in Brooklyn, my beater will be turned on and running at long last!

I fancy I will be able to feel its vibrations, calling me towards the sea.


so I am a bit of a dramahblahg queen today.

But I am so very weary of sitting and writing, was under a pall of a friend’s sad story – and of no sunlight for days and days – and sorely in need of good news.

When I opened the e-mail titled Your Beater,

I shouted


at the top of my lungs,

startled Paul,

scared Lupe.

Two more things to be built on its cover,


the bronze beauty

comes home.

Heal and Tow, ’round we go.

Chan ann leis a’chiad bhuille thuiteas a’chraobh.*

For days and daze now, I’ve been having this continual feeling of trying to run in deep mud; it’s probably just my winter cycle, but a tad oppressive, nonetheless. Progress is being made, but sooo very slowly, with setbacks abounding, a strange dogged forward, back, forward dance.

I ended up using an older piece instead of the (unfinished) new one for a group show entry, and am running later than I wanted to be for a few other things. Fortunately (sort of), the article that’s being written got broken into several smaller, more comprehensive ones, and I have a couple of extra days to finish the interview. My car got swiped again but I now have a brand-new tail light, and got the dimmed headlight fixed and a new battery in the bargain. My cell phone fell out of my pocket, and I had to re-trace the multiple steps of a busy, busy day, but I found it, some decent soul turned it in rather than using all its minutes.

On the other hand, in an obsessive push (and with inappropriate timing, likely) I got the entire new website mapped out, and re-wrote the front-page blurb and resume to put things into perspective, which felt very good.  But, when publishing the revisions, I somehow lost an entire web page (the site for the Respite show) which will now need to be re-built. I also dug deeply into iWeb, and learned exactly how to do what I want. But now I am a bit daunted by the task I’ve set myself. Days and daze of scanning need to take place. I will absolutely love it, when it’s finished, but I sure wish I could hire someone else to do it (to do a lot of things, actually).

I’m taking a break today, to get a badly needed haircut, and to get some equally required sanity in the studio. Then: back to the interview, the next deadlines, the site, and siting sitting sitting in front of this wee box.

* It is not with the first stroke that the tree falls.

Oh, and the Vespine folks got a well-deserved farewell…I hope to make it down for the last day of Retrospect.

Prepare to Inhale

It’s never over, but the first applications (and another slew of recommendation letters) are done and gone. The final push was hilarious in many ways, or at least is now that I am finished. 1. I finally completed a draconian academic job application which, if it had been printed out, would have been the size of a major suburb’s yellow pages. I uploaded the entire glut of documents, hit ‘send’ – and then (and only then) got an instant auto-reply: ‘The position is cancelled because of a hiring freeze. Have a nice career!’  2.  Between mid- afternoon, when I checked for image specs, and mid-evening, when I was ready to upload, a residency program changed its entire application process, image requirements, fee and the deadline I’d just managed to make. Hilarious.

Next up is finishing off my interview, which will be pleasurable. After that, one more academic application (a late listing that I am actually quite intrigued by), and – hooray! – the studio, to finish a piece for a show, and to make something for a birthday…and then it’s back to the February deadlines.  But now I have the CVs and powerpoints and statements and philosphies and blablablahs all updated, and this page made, so it will be easier. Right? I am thinking that the new website might look something like the portfolio page, though I am not sure about the type; it looks much, much nicer before it’s published. I don’t think the typeface changes, it just goes all fat.

Enough!  I’m off to a lavish ‘sushi night’ with my grrrlz, though this time we’re going for bulgogi and other Korean BBQ delights.  With alcohol. Definitely.  And then a stop on the way home to pick up one of my last-minute recommendation letters.

Bookbinding sewing samples by Betsy Palmer Eldridge. Sushi by Oysy.


I had to take a break from the writing for three days there, so now am heading back to it with a vengeance.  There was a family emergency that needed input, and a flaring up of health issues lingering from – and brought about by – last year’s formidable stress. The good news is that, during the research I did over the past few days, I’ve discovered a way to deal with them that will not involve prescription drugs, nor the AMA. Part of it requires daily low-impact, gentle exercise, so I’m back to the Forest Preserve. I’m going out now for more – in 36 degree sun! – and then getting back to the deadlines.  When they are finished, Chicago will be in the middle of a January thaw. I’m looking forward to that and, at last, the studio.

I am still thinking of these patterns, or rather patterns upon patterns.

Attack squirrel. “Yo!  No pictures!”


I’m still involved in the write-a-thon; today, it’s Application Land. I am truly, truly having to push myself to get through them. I sit here working, hours pass, and then suddenly I  realize how little I’ve done. Daily walks don’t seem to help, but rather, they result in sketches and studio ideas that I can’t get to till this is all finished.  It will all come to a crescendo in a few days, when I hit the shared deadline for most, with a few isolated February stragglers here and there.

Patterns I’m thinking of and sketching right now.

Last night’s farewell to Vespine was very well attended despite bitter windy cold; inside it was comfortable and warm in many more ways than thermostat degrees. The Vespine folks all looked great, dressed semi-formally in black dresses or suits; a proper sendoff.  I was feeling quite subdued, and couldn’t help wondering throughout the evening where and how this community will gather next, but: I never once wondered if it would, so that’s good.

This and this are now officially part of my summer. I’m excited over the newness of PBI, and SO very, very, very happy to be returning to WSW…I think it has already become another touchstone sort of place for me.  I’m eager to see everyone. And now, back to the grind. If you’ve got ten minutes, this video that’s flying around Facebook (another factor in my writing quagmire) is interesting.  I wish I could churn my apps out like this. Or, hey, even with 2007’s efficiency.

Endings and New Things

Even with an abbreviated list of applications, I’m on my third straight day of writing, with no end in sight.  So, how am I taking a break?  By tossing off a Blahg.  I never promised to make sense…though I am ensconced in my warm upstairs studio on my very comfortable drafting chair for the duration, rather than sitting in my cold office on a very cheap desk chair (something I should rectify, come to think of it).

Things coming up this weekend: Friday, the reception for Retrospect at Vespine gallery.  It is also a farewell party.  After seven years, Vespine is closing its doors, which makes me sad for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that Chicago needs what Vespine is, an independent, artist-run venue strongly dedicated to book and paper arts – with ‘independent’ and the unique, personalized collective vision that’s made the gallery so popular being the keywords. Retrospect features small works from a great many of the folks who have exhibited with Vespine over time; I’m showing the Solstice book.  Read their farewell via the link, and if you’re in town, please come out from 7-10 pm, to see the work, toast Jamie, Shawn, Leah and Doug, and help celebrate seven great years.

On Sunday, driving weather permitting (if not, perhaps the Metra train) I plan to venture out to the Illinois State Museum at Lockport, for Doug Stapleton’s final curator’s tour of The Leaf and The Page.  Originally opening at the Thompson Center in Chicago in the fall of 2008, after a 16-month run in three Illinois State Museum locations, this excellent show closes on January 29.  Last chance to see it, if you are anywhere near!  For me, the closing will necessitate a cold day in the storage space, carefully tucking away a fair number of works, until they all venture out again later this year to new upcoming shows.

Now (sigh) back to the writing.  The entire first day was spent on clearing off a huge pile of recommendation letters for a lot o’ good folks who want to continue their graduate educations; currently I’m working on some excellent (so, a bit enjoyably tough) e-mail interview questions for a forthcoming article, some way overdue class descriptions and, yeah…a few job applications, too; then, on to the pared-down residency list. Almost all of the residencies I’ve decided to try for are brand-new for me: wish me luck, OK?


Paperwhites, started 31 December ’09

‘Twas a quiet Hogmanay here, very intentionally and comfortably so.  Some long neglected home issues were finally taken care of as the year closed out, and that was very good, setting the stage for progress.  As midnight approached, I savored the final dram of last year’s bottle of insanely expensive good whisky, and then toasted 2010 with this year’s even more gloriously extravagant gift from Paul. Ahhhhhh…slainte mhor to you all for 2010!

The first e-mail of the year brought news of my long-awaited beater, with photos of its newly improved bedplate, which now has nine deeper grooves instead of six shallow ones.  It didn’t mention a completion date, but left me feeling good, knowing that when I am able to fetch the bronze beauty home, it will have been most minutely, conscientiously, generously restored.

Right now, in the earliest days of 2010, there is a significant and slightly cryptic internal sea change going on. I went through my list of applications, and eliminated a number of residencies that had earlier seemed quite appealing. For some reason, my instincts are still telling me to stay closer to home, or at least to leave myself open, and to only apply for a very few select possibilities.  I have no logical reason for this; it is an entirely intuitive action. This choice is, I admit, mystifying the conditioned, habitual portion of my personality, the part that urges me to always push, push, push. It’s pretty strong.  But lately, I am also hearing from somewhere inside, “You don’t need to prove anything.  Wait and see. ” So, we shall (all) see…

Why, if someone gives you a bulb-in-a-box, you should not wait for a ‘better time’ to plant it.  These things have their own agendas.  But there are two more un-prematurely ejaculated projections at the top…