MJC Fiber Flux by Smith

My friends Smith & Lady went to the Morganites: Fiber In Flux opening reception this past Friday in the hometown.  Smith kindly sent some excellent raw photos of my works in the show. I did some color-correcting due to the hot harsh gallery lights, and -presto- an instant almost-no-writing blog, on a grey cool rainy day. So: here is my part of the show, with many thanks, Smiths.




‘The Rationale Escapes Me’






Lady K with ‘Up My Sleeve’ – a book made in 2013 that’s not on the web site and is hard to photograph.




‘It’s Academic’ (note to self: send more detailed installation instructions).

…and not about Chance


Aimee kindly sent a quick report, saying last night’s opening of Morganites: Fiber in Flux was crowded and good, and also this photo. It shows her beautiful, persimmon-dyed jiseung lamp, Julie McLaughlin’s lovely kimono (you can learn to make one, too), and the start of my piece, It’s Academic, along with a wall work by Jared Ackerstrom.  Very nice; this is one opening reception I would have absolutely enjoyed.

And, I’ve forgotten to say, as of last week, both my summer classes are full; also very nice!  I’m grateful for, and am really going to like this year’s minimal one-trip, two-class schedule (and especially, ending and celebrating it by taking Aimee’s class: just what I need).



Still about Chance


Chance is six months old. We’re still learning each other. I’m trying to discern his nature, apart from the energies and behaviors typical of his life stage. What I know: he definitely has a sense of humor, makes his doggy jokes. He’s a thief, not to be trusted with kitchen counters, shoes or socks (thievery also is part of his humor). He has a superb internal clock. He’s hyperaware of his environment: sounds, sight, motion, scents, seemingly in that order. He needs to be with his people, hates to be alone; he’s very loyal and loving, but aloof with strangers. He’s vocal: not just a barker / growler, but a talker (if anything would still convince me there is Aussie in the mix, it would be that). Most importantly, he is clearly a beastie who was born to DO something, relentlessly: in an ideal life, he would be chasing down stags, say, and afterwards lying on a vast stone hearth in front of a roaring fire, contentedly chewing on a huge haunch of something while his people drank goblets of mead.


That’s not even remotely likely to happen (except, perhaps, the mead in regular glasses).  The wide-open farm country he was (however accidentally) bred in, from strong dogs who were originally acquired to work, no longer has any use for his kind; had his litter not been rescued and brought to the city, they’d have all been killed. So, I am searching for work to give him in the environment we’re both stuck with.  Though he’s appointed himself my guardian, I’m not sure he’ll make even a home hearing dog. (I’m not quite giving up the idea yet; just observing.  He’s got the sensitivity, but he is still just a rowdy pup, too early to tell).


We had a big schooling breakthrough this week, though it sort of horrified me: one of the trainers told me the martingale collar I’d been using was way too soft, and so we put him into a prong collar.  Though its advocates say they’re more humane than a chain collar, I kind of shudder at the medieval look of them. But it really does get his attention where other collars don’t, and fortunately, I’m able to use it ‘dead’ – with both chain loops held by the leash. He immediately responds to quick, gentle pressure rather than the sharp correction a single loop would provide. It felt a little like putting the right bit on a horse. His ‘heel’ immediately, vastly improved, and we’ve begun working up to what will become the first of his jobs: accompanying me on the daily two-mile-or-more, brisk, steady ‘power walk’ that is part of my neglected physical therapy. (He gets a loose-leash, sniffing / exploring alley walk of his own, later).  He can also do Paul’s morning mile. Taking care of this athletic boy will help us both to actually take care of ourselves. That’s win / win, however it is accomplished (and later on, I’m told, we will be able to switch back to the gentler collar).


For the rest of his physical needs, like daily running, I’m still experimenting, seeing what occupies and motivates him (and gives Lupe a break, though they do play daily; she’s ten years old). This week I tested some cheap-o stuff. Though he immediately broke both two-for-a-dollar small frisbees, he really liked chasing after their gliding aerial action, so I’ll invest in another, sturdier, flexible kind. I tried a lightweight smooth soccer-sized ball, too: he warily barked at it for a few days, I suspect because it moved on its own in the wind. As soon as he learned to play with it, he loved it, but it promptly popped like a balloon.  So, this is his sort-of half-birthday present: it was an immediate, HUGE hit. Run, run, run! He played for over an hour,  brought it back indoors, and napped with it.


Springing and Flux



I’ve still got an intermittent nasty cough, but at long last, I spent a beautiful, balmy, sunny weekend in the gardens.  (Poor Paul is slowly improving but still down). The very first thing I did was to clean up and fence in the back strips, so the dogs could have full access to the yard.


I had forgotten how very much fun it is to be around a creature who is experiencing his first spring. Chance is just ecstatic, and periodically he runs up to me, pretty much shouting his totally obvious message: “WOW! This is SO COOL!” It’s great for Lupe, too, much more and better exercise than our walks. She’s initiated a game they play constantly: she is ‘herding dog’ and Chance is ‘you can’t herd me hahaha’ – with periodic double herding going on. And then they both sleep deeply, and Chance sleeps all night!


There’s lots more to do – there always is – both indoors and out, but this also means that dogs can spend time happily in the yard, and I can return to the studio quite soon, and finally have that full balance. In the meantime, this show opens Friday (copy below from the Cleveland Plain Dealer). I really do feel a strong ‘home’ connection to the Morgan, though mostly I experience it vicariously through Aimee, so I am utterly pleased to have been included as a Morganite. (And, the day after, Chance is six months old).

Morganites flier

FIBER IN FLUX – Heights Arts is presenting the paper exhibit, Morganites: Fiber in Flux April 25 – June 7 at the gallery located at 2175 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. An opening reception is planned 6-9 p.m. April 25 with a curator talk and poetry reading to be held 7 p.m. May 8.

Curated by Tom Balbo, artist and artistic director of Cleveland’s Morgan Papermaking Conservatory, the exhibition highlights Morgan Conservatory artists, featuring the collaborative effort of papermaking and the transference of craft, technique, and ideas. Works represent both handmade and commercial grade papers and fibers. This show illustrates a wide range of paper art processes including sculpture, print, pulp painting, book arts, painting and drawing.

Participating artists are Jared Akerstrom, Margaret Bakke, Tom Balbo, Melissa Jay Craig, Yuko Kimura, Aimee Lee, Stephanie Lee, Pam McKee, Julie McLaughlin, Mason Milani, Victoria Pickett, Steve Pittelkow, Lauren Sammon, Tony Trausch, Susan Vincent, Kirstin Wilders, and Paula Zinsmeister.


crawling out


I was quite wrong, thinking that I was finished with the flu after two days. That was just the end of the violent phase. It lingered on in a most uncomfortable form, and, alas, has been passed to Paul. During it, more snow and cold temperatures came. The snow’s gone now, and its arrival made a good thing out of the fact that I had not yet cleared the gardens, but still: an insult.  We missed Tuesday’s pup class, neither of us were well enough. Chance returned to the vet yesterday. The rest of his stitches came out and he is no longer drugged. Fortunately I do actually seem to be getting better; someone has to direct his considerable energy as it returns, and also to begin to deal with with the total wreck the house has become with both humans ill. That will be me.


I did some rather belated reading about aging during it all. Yes, I am hitting the time when the flu strikes harder (not that I really needed to confirm what I vividly experienced, I just wasn’t capable of much else). I guess that is why people retire to warm climates.  I won’t do that, but what I will try is a flu shot for the first time next fall.  It doesn’t prevent contracting it, but supposedly buffers: you get a milder case.  Paul had one, and that’s what ’s happened for him.  Today he has no voice, and my ears are somewhat worse from the assault on my sinuses.  We’re lucky that we have many years of alternative communication under our belts. (Gardens, very soon, please. And studio. And spring: true, headed-towards-summer, no-going-back spring?)


(Let’s try this again, and get it right, shall we?)

Oh, important SUMMER CLASS addendum / update: the Morgan class is now full; a waiting list is being created, but there are other 3D courses available, including Julie McLaughlin’s Big Ass Paper Kimono class, and Tom Balbo’s pulp casting extravaganza. There was one single space left open at Women’s Studio Workshop last time I checked, and I’m afraid that’s it for me this summer. Thanks for your understanding and interest!

Wee bumps in the road

Chance went in to the vet Tuesday to have the bandages taken off his rear leg, where the little useless dewclaw was removed. (Miraculously the bandage was still on, though much chew-frayed). He had pulled open two of the four stitches, which had gotten infected; of course we couldn’t see that through the bandage.  He hadn’t damaged them by chewing, they’d torn from his too-active antics (though as prescribed, he didn’t go for any walks, nor have any training sessions till Monday). We were supposed to keep him quiet, which we did to the best of our ability, but he is a strong, athletic young guy, bursting with energy. So he had a laser treatment, got a new bandage, antibiotics and: tranquilizers.


Which was just as well, because by Tuesday evening, I had started to feel pretty strange, enough that I asked Paul to  take over as handler at puppy class, something I don’t usually do (and the trainers don’t recommend).  The vet, recognizing Chance’s energy and personality, had said, “He’ll heal anyways eventually, go ahead and take him to class before you start the meds, he needs that.”

He certainly did. After nearly a week off to recuperate, Chance was a total, out-of-control rotten brat, though Paul didn’t let him get away with anything. By the end of class, I was a soupy, eye-watering, nose-dripping, coughing mess, and I stayed that way for over 48 hours. I had so far escaped any sort of flu or respiratory problems in 2014, even sailing through three polar vortexes, and yet, as soon as the weather finally got good: wham. I had plans, but everything shut down and Wednesday I slept and slept and was miserable the little time I was awake, though I did do a brief training session with Chance as best as I could: that boy needs it, tranquilizers, flu-ridden owner or not. Paul had to be out Thursday, so I stayed semi-awake, watching Chance’s half-tranquilized butt (I cut the pills in half during the day; the full dose makes him wobbly drunk). At night he gets a whole pill and everyone sleeps and heals. Today, finally, I can breathe and I’m hoping the pup’s leg is healing too.


Why the garden needs (standing-up) fences: we put these down when we found Chance shoulder-deep in mud last month; you can see his impressive hole lower right.  He may have dug out a giant hosta I put in this shady spot last year, but I have more to transplant if need be.

Though a rainy weekend is predicted, very soon I’ll be busy at one of my favorite aspects of life / work, in the garden: cleaning up for spring, feeding, scattering some early hardy seeds, trimming back roses, red-twig dogwood and mulberry, making and putting up a new tall trellis for the clematis, and fencing everything so I can enjoy both pup and plants.

The past few days were just a bump in the road: I’m still liking my life now better than ever.  This is one of the best things I’ve read lately that describes why. It’s spot-on.



Comforts of home and hometown

April came in fast: surgery for Chance on the first, and then constant mostly effective efforts to keep him quiet for a week, which had to include The Cone.  I attended training class without him, and it was very good for me to have time to observe the other pups working.


I resolved all but one last exhibition, cleared out my office (used as literal cold storage during what has been officially proclaimed the coldest winter that has ever been recorded in Chicago), got taxes ready, packed and loaded up work for the Morganite show, and had a sweet, fast trip to Cleveland, where my only regret was that I didn’t get to see Aimee’s solo show (and also check out its location).


It was a Morganite convergence weekend. Time there Saturday was short but rich: dropping the work, hanging a wee bit with Julie, Tom, Bruce, Mason as they all worked away, and seeing the working beater room, all the stuff happening with the Asian Paper Center, the latest fantastic donation of a superb collection of binding tools, a Kensol, brass type and a very sweet smaller working Washington hand press, and to take in the fallow garden, the winter-aged ears (I’ll write more about those soon). That evening there were twelve for a lovely dinner cooked by Mike and salad by Julie (massaged by Mason).  The Morgan is one place where I can always enjoy that sort of gathering: time to have side talks with everyone I want to see, and it absolutely doesn’t matter how much I do or don’t hear at the table: what I do hear is great, and when I don’t, I’m just plain pleased to be watching so many people I like so much relaxed and enjoying each other, and feeling the warmth that provides (even when everyone is a bit tired, including me).


The Morgan garden, waiting. I didn’t take many photos there and none during the party. At the Morgan, I’m often too busy talking and/or using my eyes to listen. With the Smiths, silences and images are a natural, easy part of the whole.


Two good portraits happened; Smith writing above, Lady at the Market below.


The rest of the time: my other warm hometown place to be, the gentle, sharp-witted, easygoing poetic energy of the Smiths and Mandikat. There, there are long, long friendships still unfolding, and this time the addition of Joanne and briefly, Wendy; and vicariously sharing in Lady’s full ongoing gathering of and intimacy with her environment and community energy. I so much like this chapter of the Smithstory: something long-deserved.  Saturday morning, a trip to the lifelong constant of the West Side Market.  Smith and I returned Sunday for a hometown farewell, viewing a mural of community by long ago colleague, cartoonist Gary Dumm, in excellent collaboration with spouse Laura Dumm.


In the middle of the drive between (western Ohio, eastern Indiana) there were still big crusty patches of dwindling icy snow on the northern sides of the freeway ditches.


At home, by Sunday, the cone was too full of duct tape repairs to be of any more use. The hind-leg bandage is frayed but still intact and will come off at the vet’s tomorrow, when Chance should be cleared to go for walks again and back to class in the evening. Today we began regular training again outdoors, Lupe had a long grand walk, and I planned my early garden work and pup-proofing for later this week. Spring.

And in the meantime, this show opened in Arizona, this class has only one space left, and this (larger) one has four spaces, and I am going to stick around after that for a gift to myself, and take this. Yes!


(Oh, I also bought and installed a new kitchen gate.)