Was in Wonderland (with Wonky Wireless)

RaininMaine

Hello!  At last, we have contact!  I’ve missed you. A few hours ago, I arrived on Martha’s Vineyard, my second island of the summer, after a nine-plus hour drive and a boat ride, and am being treated extremely well by my lovely hostess and her daughter.  Haystack was Stupendously Good.  Unbelievably so!  It was an incomparable, unique, exciting residency – with just one tiny drawback: the wireless hated me.  I was not able to log in to the Blahg via laptop nor phone, and e-mail went totally haywire, too.

I have SO MUCH to tell and show you!  But the next few days will be packed with even more great things, so there is going to have to be a massive time-travel blog series when I get back to Chicago – or maybe even along the way. For now, I will just say hello again, and go sleep (and sleep, and sleep).  See you soon!

HaystackSeaFoto

 

Pre-road Victory Dance!

I’m leaving in two days and so (of course) am ridiculously busy, and (of course) shouldn’t be taking the time to blog. However, yesterday, I found reason to be glad for all the medical tests that added to my schedule: a personal victory!

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The Morgan in festive mode last October.

Here’s the story: when I had my own magic health insurance card after becoming a full-time employee of an academic corporation (the acquisition of said card being a motive for signing on), we workers were required to have yearly health screenings that included blood work, in order to identify potential problems.  My screening results were consistently excellent until 2008, the year that the chicanery leading to my leaving shot into high gear. At that point, my risk factors also suddenly shot up into alarming ranges; by January 2009, they were termed dangerous, and there were little red flag icons all over the report.  At the end of 2010, when I regained health coverage through Paul, the problems had not abated much, and (scary-to-me) drugs were prescribed.  Given my history with extreme reactions to seemingly innocuous meds, I just did not want to take them, so I swore I would alleviate the problems on my own. When I was hospitalized overnight in October 2011 (the last time I had blood work done), even though I’d brought the risk levels down by 30 points, they were still too high and the meds were still prescribed (and I still refused to take them). Though I’d left the toxic workplace at the end of the 2009 academic year, I was still enmeshed in an odd way with the corporation. In spring 2012, I ended that involvement voluntarily, simply to cut that malevolent presence out of my life once and for all, and then I decided to slow down and spend these past six months at home.  Yesterday, the current blood work results arrived, and all of my risk factors were in the ‘optimal’ or ‘near optimal’ range once again. I’m back! And I did it without Big Pharm.

It’s sad – and in itself sick – that one of the ‘rewards’ of 15 years of dedicated work was five years of high health risk. I never made the connection at the time, and (typically for targets) didn’t even recognize  the situation for what it was. As I later learned, it’s a common phenomenon.  Even though I didn’t come by the information on sites like this until it was too late to use in the harmful situation, I’ve still been able to use it to understand and heal. I hope that awareness grows, and that people involved in similar situations will be able to identify them early, and protect themselves against the condoned effects of corporate culture. I am one of the very lucky ones: I’ve not only survived, I’ve been able to eradicate the damage and regain my health.  That is something to celebrate! I’ll begin doing just that in two days, with visits to healthy, thriving, exemplary work environments: making stops at the Morgan Conservatory and Women’s Studio Workshop on my way to Haystack, and then Seastone Papers, Penland, and the Morgan again.

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My backyard in festive mode right now.

In another better world, I’m very happy to be participating in Emily Martin’s wonderful Pantone Postcard Project. I love the idea, and volunteered the second I saw the call for participants, but was already too late; they were all gone.  But, someone’s had to drop out, so I am now the post-deadline pinch-hitter.  My default card arrived yesterday and it is the perfect color for me, a deep luscious forest green! It’ll be my very first project in Maine.  Stay tuned for News From The Road!

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And something else to celebrate.

The lull before the road

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Somewhere in the sea of arriving mortarboards is our new engineer, with a nice job waiting for him, too.

The past week has been a time of mostly non-art activity, save for a whole lot of e-mail and one (mostly) pleasant exhibition opening. There’s been family time, and being very proud at our nephew’s graduation, time with friends, and too much time within health care system red tape. Getting my hearing checked and hearing aids tweaked before I return to a public summer is essential, but even though I’m never not going to be deaf, that still requires a referral from primary care, which in turn led to the barrage of yearly tests that come with being Of A Certain Age With Health Coverage: I hadn’t had them for about three years, which earned me a few exasperatedly polite lectures. Three years seems reasonable to me so I complied with almost all, even though I feel fine (and even though I’m fully aware that if I were unable to produce the magic card, no one would care. I have an uninsured friend in her 70s who has never had a single one of these tests, ever.) Just one more remains, and on Monday I can finally visit the audiologist for the thing I needed in the first place.

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It was very hard to hear in the gallery; but that’s one of the things the show is about.

I will be on the road in one week. Now is prep time, checking off the list of tasks and making the list of things to be packed, all of which seems much more extensive after a long home stay. I’m actually having some mixed emotions, and a disinclination towards blogging / facebooking / web site updates or really, working at any public presence.(Hopefully, that will change next week.) I’ve liked being home, very much; I’ve enjoyed deliberately slowing down, and I have utterly valued this time of turning my full attention to Life rather than Career for once.  That is an outlook I definitely want to maintain during my travels, my time teaching, and from now on. I hope I’m ready; I’m very glad to be beginning with a residency, where I can use part of my time to form good holistic habits to carry with me through the summer.

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I do know that I’ll be very glad for one of the things awaiting me: new, open ocean views.

Other Work

 

Disclaimer: Don’t read this if you’re not interested in aging, or if you don’t want to think about that yet.

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 In the late afternoon, the Mystery Reflection moves up the wall, and consolidates into one sphere.

The work of the next few weeks: finishing things up and getting ready for leaving, as well as putting final touches to the fall / winter schedule, though I am still awaiting word on a couple of key aspects of that. I didn’t get as much done during my six months as I would have liked on house projects, but hey: old-home-owning is an ongoing process. I am quite pleased with the art / work I did (some of which still falls under ‘finishing things up’) and a few of the experiments: discoveries made.

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It might be coming from this little metal vent on the neighbor’s roof. But I can’t see how.

There has been considerable Other Work done during this six months that I haven’t written much about, involving my personal physical plant; old-body-ownership is definitely another process.  A couple of months ago, I became a vegan, in order to address several ongoing problems. I’m happy to say that it’s working on them all; I feel absolutely great (worth the considerable learning curve: I had to work at eating enough!).

I also worked through a course of physical therapy to solve a problem that had been keeping me from doing the ‘regular’ p/t exercises, the ones that I need to do for the knees for the rest of my life. During the past three months, I’ve finally been able to resume that work of training my muscles to shift bones.

Body work is definitely work. In my case, it’s an all-too-literal daily grinding, popping, pulling and, yes: sharp pain and later, ache. Much worse, however, is the certain loss of mobility (and even greater pain and ache) without it, far scarier to me than deafness ever was.

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Paul and friend Pat put this whirlpool in for me years ago; I finally finished the trim this past winter, and added art.  It’s an absolute luxury that truly, truly helps after the p/t; I will miss this while on the road!

The most important work was learning to incorporate it all into daily life, to make this work happen in concert with the art, admin, and all the rest.  It’s been successful, here at home. What I have yet to learn is how to maintain and sustain that mix while on the road, and especially while teaching, during which I tend to jettison everything else. So, that learning will be a vital part of the summer’s Other Work.

But now, after a fit of heat then cold, we are back to a mild lovely spring, and today and tomorrow, the work is: gardens.

Days of Thanksgiving continue

I’m home, and though I did take Sunday for an all-day, no-alarm Giant Thud, I still have a week of busy-ness and overlapping events (all of which I’m grateful for) before I begin truly settling in for the winter, and quietly begin to process all that’s occurred this year.

First, the art that happened in Vermont:

Here’s where the ear was installed (just one, because I’m not sure my bit of structural jury-rigging is going to keep this one any more stable than the first).  Initially, I wanted them to be on dead trees only. I was at dinner at one point, thinking aloud about how I was to differentiate between dead and live trees in late November. Vermont Studio Center co-founder Jon Gregg was at my table and said, “You are in Vermont.  People drill into live trees all the time.” And so I spent Wednesday afternoon hanging out over the river, grateful for all the tree-climbing I did as a child.  I was too good with my dyeing, and the ear side blends into its setting, making it quite difficult to discern from across the river.  That isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all.

I might like this a little better this way, but still remain somewhat unconvinced.

These two are in progress still, a few more things to be added to the tall one, structural work on the smaller.

I packed the car up Wednesday night after open studios, documented the ear location Thanksgiving morning, then had a lovely, sunny drive, skirting the Canadian border to arrive at Velma’s warm, wonderful North Country sanctuary. The day was just perfect: sunny, not-cold, a spontaneous meadow milkweed harvest, a tasty dinner for four with even tastier conversation (which I could hear ALL of; excellent after a month of meals in a room with 50+), and Velma and I talking, talking, talking late into the night and resuming in the morning. Just: wonderful. Also to see so much of her work in person! I wanted to stay.  I left with generous gifts of milkweed, flax and cedar fiber, a perfect packed lunch and this:

my own ‘witches’  brew’ – eco-dye bundles (my first ever!) of linen and paper –  to be opened in a few days, to extend the day’s warmth and friendship whenever I look at them.  On a rainy drive heading south to be funneled onto interstate blandness, I marveled at the connections the internet allows us, once again.  In an earlier life, Velma and I would have been neighbors (just before our paths diverged, and I chose art school, a partner I am still friends with acquired acres in the North Country and built a house there, where he lived for many years).  And yet, Velma and I met anyways, for which I am very grateful, as well as for meeting her sweet, smart, intrepid companion Wendy: border collie love and wistfulness on my part (she is a bit camera shy up close).

I hit some nasty weather, lake effect snow/hail and nasty winds coming off Lake Erie, all the way down from Buffalo NY to Cleveland.  At one point, a long line of us were doing 25 miles an hour with flashers on, and I decided I was being stupid, and that I would stop as soon as I saw a motel, but by the time I did, it had cleared enough to just become an annoying, no longer dangerous drive. I gratefully arrived at Cindy’s late, and we, too stayed up late talking, talking, talking, and made some tentative summer plans.  She didn’t see my note asking to be woken next morning, which was ultimately good; I slept a couple of hours longer than I would have, which I was thankful for during the drive home.  Then: the bank, to FINALLY deposit the check that had sat uselessly on my desk all month in Vermont, a quick stop at Busta gallery to pick up my (thankfully packed) work, and a visit and lovely homemade-by-Lady lunch and talking, talking, talking at the Smiths‘ (where I forgot to retrieve my hearing aid case, which is thankfully a reason to return – as if I need one!)  I really, really wanted to stay at Velma’s, Cindy’s and Smiths’ (and to stop at the Morgan and stay too) but I was also very, very grateful to arrive safely home, and for the fact that I’ll be staying put for a good while now.

Yesterday, I delivered the work to ZIA gallery for this: the opening reception is on Saturday, the same day as the Ragdale holiday party (where I’ll go, quickly, first). ZIA gallery director (and artist) extraordinaire Anne Hughes was packing things to be shipped to Miami for this…and a portion of (S)Edition is attending!

Lupe can also be camera-shy up close, but she has not left my side for more than a few minutes since I returned.  And now, today: I’m sending some things off to Australia, hanging up the wee seasonal lights, and The Bro arrives for a week of Our-Own-Early-Winter celebration: more abundance to be very thankful for.

Outrunning hurricanes

Unbelievably, I am in Vermont.  I pulled up outside just in time for dinner after 12+ hours on the road yesterday, something I should not do and will not again; my feet and legs were still vibrating unpleasantly when I went to bed hours later.

Hurricanes and Halloween.

Wednesday, I wrote the last blog and caught up with all sorts of paperwork (electronically), and notified Vermont Studio Center that I would probably not be arriving till Monday, though the session began Sunday.  On Thursday, I was finally well enough to make it out of the house, still slightly bleary; I ran delayed errands, delivered a lot of artwork and picked up a couple of lovely items I bought for the studio, thanks to Evanston Print & Paper‘s generosity. Friday, Paul and I addressed the house (which I am sorry to say was absolutely disgusting; when I return, we’re having a guest for a late, weeklong delayed Thanksgiving celebration; now it can be kept decent for that) and I re-packed, switching out things from Ragdale for what I plan to do here.  That evening, I had a lovely visit from and impromptu dinner out with Gail Stiffe, who was visiting Chicago post-conference. We both discovered that we would be back at the Morgan the very next day! I offered a ride, but she had already booked a bus ticket.  I got only a few hours’ sleep so I could leave early in the morning, but was delayed; didn’t leave till 8 am, braced myself for horrendous traffic…and there was…none!  No traffic at all and I made my fastest time out of town ever: 38 minutes. (It was Saturday, and I didn’t even realize it; that’s what being knocked out for several days will do for you).

Behind the studio.

I got to the Morgan and put 2lbs of flax (I had none at home) to beat in the red monster beater; the Morgan folks had kindly soaked it for me overnight.  I had a great time talking to Susan and Tom and heard more about the conference and made some future plans; it was lovely to be there as it always is, for any reason. I beat Gail by an hour.  I drained the flax down to fit in one bucket (tossing out most of the hemicellulose, but I am casting with it, not making sheets).  On the way to Ohio, I kept getting text and social media messages, saying I was heading towards Hurricane Sandy, so Susan checked out the predictions for me. It seemed prudent to do the entire drive Sunday, instead of stopping overnight as I’d planned. I drove to Cindy’s and we only had a few minutes’  visit; she went out and I was in bed by 8 pm (which wasn’t hard to do; I was mightily fried by then and not capable of anything else); up and out early and a long, nasty drive, with Sandy pushing lots of rain and wind in front of her: rain from Ashtabula, Ohio to Syracuse, NY; advance high wind all through Vermont, rocking the car.  I was so tired (again) I didn’t even unload the studio last night; did that and set it up today (and snagged the last half-bag of casting plaster, woohoo!).  Now, this evening, we’ve got our predicted Sandy-related winds; spectacular gusts out there, and we’ve been told what to do in case of a power outage.  I’m wishing safety to everyone in Sandy’s path!

Hello, Sandy…

(Just as a side note, because of my damaged ears, I can be extremely sensitive to rapid pressure changes in the atmosphere.  All day, I’ve been a bit dizzy; now that the winds have arrived, I’m fine…)

Roof birds and Sandy…

Fabulously Industrious

Visual musical notation: some of the first day’s works hung to dry…

I’m back in Chicago now, doing a great deal of thinking about how absolutely fortunate I’ve been with my classes all summer.  It’s been SO rich!  The two-day workshop at the Morgan, which I had thought might be something of an anticlimax because of its short time span, was definitely no exception.  I had a fantastic time, and was amazed at what -and how much! – everyone accomplished in those two short days.

The dye table was a popular second-day spot.

There are beaucoup images of the workshop, all over the internet.  The Morgan’s are here, participant Erin’s are here, and participant Elizabeth has posted 7 pages of images here! This is a good thing, because, although I’m embellishing this post with some of my own shots, I was a bit busy and didn’t have time to take many.

Mike, Julie, and Tom’s (eventual) topper.

My old friend Joanne came by on Friday to help with prep on one of those kinds of days when the universe decided to mess around, which included having me setting off a truly obnoxious security alarm.  I really, really, really enjoyed the company of my 4th floor flatmates, Julie (who honored me by taking the class) and her husband Mike. Intern Abbey was a great help, as (as always!) was absolutley everyone at the Morgan: great help, great fun, and easygoing while being hardworking, industrious, and tremendously hospitable – Cleveland to the core!  The lovely Susan Kelly even packed me a little (biodegradable) sack of snacks and bottled water for the road, and Tom Balbo was, well: Tom…he is the heart of the Morgan, and the Morgan is unique.  All of you coming for the conference in October: you are in for a multitude of treats. See you then!

Abbey and The Colors…

I get to go back in just about two weeks for my summer treat: Aimee’s class. I am so happy about that.

Industrious Pulp Application meets Industrial Landscape

In the meantime there is unpacking, a show to see, artwork to finish (hooray), deferred taxes, two interviews (one to be completed, another begun), web site and MakerCentric updates, yard sale organizing and last but definitely not least, some serious reflecting about teaching to be done, along with not-too-bad gartden weeding (those last two are likely to happen at the same time). Right now, it’s predicted to reach 101 degrees out there today, and whatever I am allergic to in the Chicago high summer is out in full force, so itchy eyes, sneezing and benadryl hazes put it all on the back burner till I readjust. But rest assured, I am also basking in an extended glow.  Thank you, Arrowmont, Women’s Studio Workshop, and the Morgan!

Thus ends my 2012 summer teaching tour…

Moisture is essential

Things grow when it’s wet; my hair included, it grows tighter, into wild ringlets, and it’s pointless to attempt to control it in any way.

Rosendale…

I am in Cleveland, at the Church Of Not Quite So Much Pain & Suffering, the Irreverend Smith and His Beloved Lady Presiding (as well a feline high priestess), and I have one curly head. The Church is a most excellent place to be on a steamily humid Cleveland summer day (or any season).  Being here helps to negate a blog that I wrote in my brain during the long drive, or rather, makes me want to put it on a back burner to simmer into a more tender, subtler concoction.

After the last deluge, near Salamanca NY.  Relieved, I stopped to rest by visiting the National Seneca / Iroquois Museum: informative and excellent.

It wasn’t a very pleasant drive; long copious downpours had me hydroplaning across a way too large portion of southern New York state, which made me even more grateful for old friends.  I could actually hear departed friend Mr. Ed, who long before I met him had left a lucrative, company-jet style corporate job for the freedom of the road as an independent hauler, detailing his driving strategies as he did for me on one long drive during a deluge years ago. I followed his advice and arrived safely to these two folks who, like Ed did and his wife Mary still does, accept me always just as I am, as I do them.  And here we are now, close in three separate worlds, surrounded by fans moving the damp air into cool eddies all around us, clicking on our keyboards and slowly beginning a day with easy flow (and perhaps more than one blog).

(Contented sigh).

The Morgan Kozoland is now too vast to capture in one snapshot (though I will try).

A little later, I’ll be off to the Morgan, to begin some work in wet pulp in wet air.  I stopped by yesterday while it was closed just to drop off my things and check out the kozo plantation.  It can no longer just be called a garden, it is thriving in Cleveland’s fluctuations; so many things and people do.

All this, and Lunch

Written June 30: I am at Women’s Studio Workshop (ahhh!), writing this to publish tomorrow while I wait to become sleepy, not just tired. I am staying in the Atwood House apartment, which is a great, comfortable space; its sole drawback is fluctuating wireless, currently at zero.

I will need one.

It was a not-unpleasant drive, split into two segments with a good solid night of luxurious relaxing and conversation at the House of Smith, between. We did have some nonsense, laughs, and tales, and good food, and we caught up on the things we don’t blog or send out on social media. We discussed the act of not publishing, too.

That was very, very good for me; long hours driving are also long quiet hours for thinking. Talking with friends, particularly those you have known forever, brings added, trusted perspectives to mull over.

Here are two of the many things I thought about for miles and miles today:

  1. On and off, for the past few weeks, I’ve been writing and re-re-editing a post that I haven’t published.  It has to do with once being told that I would ‘never eat lunch in this town again’ (though the actual words were: ‘I will destroy you’).  The post was sparked by spuriously twisted written ‘information’, showing me that that particular destructive effort is still ongoing. Yes, it disturbed me. Though I did eventually write a piece that was sufficiently vague yet still pointed, talking with both Smithfriends confirmed that the uneasy gut reaction that kept me from posting it was wise. Even before I reached the Catskills, I decided that addressing the issue at all would simply draw that sick, malicious energy back into my life. No. Enough.
  2. In Cleveland, I learned that my Morgan class is full, with a waiting list.  That makes it unanimous: I’m playing to SRO audiences in every class this summer! (Pats self on back). The number of grads from degree programs around the country is much higher than ever before, which pleases me to no end, because it continues a vital quality of exchange that I’ve been missing; and the dialogue is even richer than it was before, because the classes are also filled with teachers at all levels, and established artists as well, with fascinating, varied contributing perspectives. Excellent. And much, much better to think about.

As if to validate my decision, as soon as I arrived and hooked up to some live wireless, a link to this piece was in the mail.  Though I still think it makes me sound much cooler than I actually am, I cannot help but be delighted that the publication’s title is Quiet Lunch, and this is a tasty slice of it, the cherry on top of a Good Decision. (Thank you, QL!).

June 1st: And now: quiet time in the lovely cool studio, beating fiber and liesurely setting up for what I know will be a grand session (or rather the first of two grand sessions). And thinking about how sweet it is when the trip is a return one. Cleveland, WSW, the Morgan: all different types of homes for me. And thinking about making new homes, as well. And also, appropriately, eating lunch. Right now.

A few stories begun at Arrowmont. To be continued here…