In-Between Time

I’m loving this sort-of suspended stage between winter holidays, though, as I’ve been learning, this will always also be my most intense time of missing the Bro, not painfully, but poignantly. I’m thinking of some new year-end celebrations to try on for size.


I had a great time installing at Prairie State (here is the guide for the show), and a wonderful warm time with the family the next day (where long-held traditions are now beginning to shift as lives evolve, as well.) Our December 24 and 25 were warm, quiet, nice and very, very well-fed: we shopped together and cooked up a storm.


Boxing Day was a welcome gift: a sunny, 48F day to spend in the gardens. I was able to do several things I thought I’d sacrificed by extending the Ragdale residency (not that there was any contest.) My little urban ecosystem is now ready for winter, and I’ve seeded milkweed, cleome, fennel, dill, nigella and lunaria (reserving some milkweed to start indoors too.) The 27th was drizzly and my first day to just totally relax; yesterday I again spent outdoors, though it was much colder, wrapping up the last bits of garden work.


I may have lost several plants during the reinstallation of a fence that blew down on Halloween. And, when I came home from Ragdale for Thanksgiving, I discovered a leak in the ceiling. After assessments and estimates and holidays, materials arrived today by a huge mobile crane; tomorrow and Wednesday, we’re getting a new main roof. My task will be to keep Chance calm while alien beings swarm over the heavens of his secure indoor world.  I plan to keep him with me while I work in the basement studio, unpacking from the residency and setting up for the winter.  He likes it there; so much to sniff. I’m not sure what (if anything) the roofing job will do to the house gardens (also just seeded) but we’ll be ready for spring revelations with a cozy roof to winter under first. I’m looking forward to that: a three-month span of projects planned, most at my own pace.


Today was the day of 1,000 cranes. OK, well, three; before this retrieval truck there were the big city tree-trimming crews with their own cranes and shredder for the big stuff. Chance is deathly afraid of large machines, but he did OK in my office while I wrote this blog about nothing, really.)

Hello, 2014!

I started to do my annual odd search engine terms roundup, but guess what?  There weren’t any really great weird ones this year.  They were quite specific: for me, for individual works, for residencies and/or places I’ve taught, papermaking equipment or techniques, friends, people I’ve mentioned and book arts references.  Though I do like the oddities, 2013 says some rather good things about the folks who drop in: thank you!


2013 was a really good year, I think because of my decision to spend more time at home, and the high quality of the 12 places I did travel to. I hope to be revisiting some of them here on the blog this winter,  and on MakerCentric. I have some great hopes for 2014, my most intentionally quiet year yet, and I’ve put some good effort into making some of those hopes manifest, beginning quite soon.


We’ll have a quiet, warm New Year’s Eve at home, as Chicago gets blanketed with fresh snow (I’m still not quite out from under this lengthy cold / sinus / respiratory thing). I’ll be wishing you all a happy, healthy, productive and above all peacefully balanced 2014!



Belated wishes


I hope you’ve all had warm and happy holidays, and that they continue on through the new year. Today Paul is out  at the family get-together 50 miles away, but I am at home.  I’ve been battling a nasty and tenacious sinus and respiratory bug for six days now, and don’t want to infect anyone. We’ve had a good, if necessarily subdued time in spite of that. I even managed to make us two full holiday dinners (one vegan, one not) and some ugly but tasty pies. Hopefully it’ll abate soon, and I’ll get back to doing and blogging. Cheers!

Happy Merry Peace and Warmth



Final backyard kozo tally: 1 pound, 1.5 ounces / 496 grams.

I do love the holiday lull, the quietened inbox that happily brings good wishes from friends, and also the company of nearby friends and friends who are temporarily in town.  I spent the weekend with two lovely folks in the studio, reminding me a bit of a pre-holiday baking session, but with fiber and the beautiful bronze beater instead of cookies and an oven: very nice. I wish for many more such days.


Festive (and huge) flax bubbles.


Apparently I still feel a seasonal need to scrape bark: cleaned dogbane in progress.

Paul and I jumbled communications, he referring to Christmas as the attending celebration, and me as December 25th. I just discovered today that we’re home tomorrow; not at the family gathering which will take place on Friday.  That’s an unexpected gift: no horrendous holiday traffic and a day to do whatever we please.  So, we ran out and got festive but stress-free food fixings, and it’ll be a warm, relaxed day tomorrow: cooking things up in the kitchen and in the studio. And we still have the family to look forward to as well. That’s merry!


I wish you all the words in today’s blog title, whatever and however you celebrate! (And I wish some of you were here to share this lovely peaceful brand of merriment.)

Pie, Productivity, Play

We’ve been having a lovely, relaxed and rather hilarious time here. That said, I’m still working: resolving curating issues, helping a few folks apply to grad schools (the only type of effective academic recommendations I can still do). I’m also applying for a few things soon, so, thanks to last summer’s hard drive crash, once again I must research myself from February 2010 till now, to update the various CVs and resumes. Blahg is invaluable for that! And I’m hammering out the schedules for the de-installation of Natural Cycles and the details of the next quickly upcoming 2012 shows…. so there is really little change, other than the Company of Good Friends and Too Much Good Food (if there is such a thing). I guess the biggest difference of having a holiday week on our own terms is my personal internal permission not to evaluate each day solely in terms of productivity, of What Got Done or more accurately: What Didn’t Get Done. There’s a lesson here about balance: perhaps I should declare 2012 a holiday year.

Paul ensured both productivity and great pleasure with his absolutely amazing gift. He took a look at the structure of a borrowed mould and deckle I’d admired and praised, snuck off to the wood shop, and made seven of them for me! They were all cut from a single clear slab of recycled old-growth lumber, once part of a massive convention center display. I’ll be able to increase my class sizes, and will have new sheet sizes for my own work as well. I am beyond pleased!  (And, he’s going to do all the waterproofing!) Beautiful, yes?

So It Goes


I’m a zombie. I’ve just spent the last two and a half days glued to my computer, preparing for the semester that begins Monday (coordinating guest artists, events, writing syllabae, setting up multiple meetings, building new course web sites, adding new info, making new handouts; the last time I taught my spring classes was 2007, so a lot of updating was required).  In addition, I’ve been finishing an app and the paperwork for an upcoming show and residency, booking plane tickets for a visiting artist spot in March.  My butt actually hurts from sitting (and has probably spread a few more inches as well). But, I’m essentially done, except for one class that will be finalized in meetings. So what am I doing now that I can take a break?

Oh, well, it’s too late at night to begin anything else, and I wanted to post a blog, so that I can have tomorrow, my final free day, for me. After running to a Kinko’s in the morning to print out the app and paperwork,  and dropping those into the FedEx box (I still haven’t gotten a new printer, mine is dead), I’ll take some apples that have gotten too soft to the forest preserve for my deer friends, and then the rest of the day, I’ll be in the studio.

Here’s a nice link, if you have a printer.  Have fun with this, and maybe some good or at least interesting things will occur that I can actually blog about while I’m in the void for the next sixteen weeks.  Maybe.

Now I’m going to sleep and spend tomorrow clearing my head, trying to make things all lush, peaceful and calm in there, hoping to keep them that way.


Frozen Trivialities


Neighbor performing time-honored winter ritual

I am in Application Land, crankin’ ‘em out. They still take forever, always longer than I want, and I wish to hell some sort of image standardization could be implemented for the residencies, at least. (Though happily, and finally, this is the first year on record I have been able to send digital images everywhere; last year, there were still places that required slides). But everyone wants different formatting, different numbers of images; today, yet another PowerPoint…

Chicago was -5 Fahrenheit, with a -40 degree windchill yesterday (-12 overnight); yep, I was out in it, getting stuff printed and mailed by the mid-month postmark deadline. It’s better today (+8). I’m trying to wrap these up in time for tomorrow’s balmy 26 degrees, when I can comfortably return to my way-too-freakin’-cold-right-now basement studio.

So, being still so self-involved, and having nothing interesting to update Blahg with, I remembered how much I used to like reading Smith’s lists of the weird search engine terms people used to find his web site. I don’t have the capability to see those on my site, but I can here. By far, most people are actually looking for me, and secondarily for specific subjects I’ve written about. They’re nowhere near as funny as Smith’s, but here are some of the odder phrases people have used to find Blahg in the past few months:

  • Trees on hills
  • cross ness
  • Riverness
  • trains mist
  • train mist
  • mist train
  • Missour forests
  • Farm Land flickr
  • fun alcoholic
  • Art of a Bard
  • De Composed Art
  • Small and Narrow galley kitchens
  • Lewsi isalnd Scotalnd
  • What is Oddiology?
  • crinkle for church windows
  • Badlands Wow
  • oakey jay and melissa …….and my favorite:
  • my virgin won’t work

The Hermit’s Nine Days


I finally, finally finished my gorgeous ‘new’ upstairs studio/ bindery last night.  It took nine days, though those days also included working hard on some time-consuming apps and some highly unwelcome e-intrusions, with attendant emotional baggage.  There was also a day when I got completely knocked out by citra-solv fumes; I was rendered useless. It was necessary to soften and scrape years of ancient adhesive and tape off of the now-gorgeous drafting table top;  two entire yogurt cups filled with sticky sludge. Bleah!

All my teaching stuff is now fully incorporated into my home studio stuff, except for two shelves of samples and some files that are in shared offices where I teach. (My first-floor home office is Another Story best left for later; that involves re-vamping the tech and another excruciating sorting process that will involve digitizing great quantities of material). For the first time in seventeen years, my teaching tool kit is even emptied; I will now select specific tools for certain days, and carry them in as needed.

Still to come in the bindery: repairing the slides for the large drawer on the drafting table and resolving a protective surface for the top, the arrival of a new drafting chair on wheels, and the fun of moving around and selecting the art for the walls, which I’ll keep for a day when I need a lift in mood.  But, I’ll begin working in here immediately, and it will never, ever be this clean and organized again, so I wanted to post photos.

I’ve been enjoying being a hermit and selfishly focusing on my own needs. I think that’s another reason I like residencies; my immediate social circle is mostly limited to the pleasure of getting to know a few fellow residents.  I feel absolutely no desire to go out, and even (OK, slightly guiltily) missed two lovely annual parties…but those were also the citra-solv day, and the day after.

Now, back to three more I–want-these apps, and (S)Edition.  I’m ready for them all. What I’m not ready for is to have this all end in 12 more days.

Here’s my virtual circular tour:










Ugh.  I am and have been slogging through the improvements in my upstairs studio/ bindery; the cheapo white shelving/ drawer unit that you see in the top photo is one of them.  It will replace the dresser on the right, which has to go so I can move a much-needed large drafting table in. Also being moved to accommodate that are the cutter (with the old drawing table as a new, better support for it), the nipping press, the Kwikprint with its stand and drawers of type. The studio’s an intricate puzzle box, and any addition to it requires a total make-over. Meanwhile, books and art from my old office are being moved in, up here and in my home office/ library on the first floor. Stuff stuff stuff stuff stuff, all stuffed into two jigsaw-puzzle type spaces.

As with the old work office, it’s the sorting that’s the worst.  I’m throwing a lot out, and planning a GIANT art-garage sale sometime during the warmer months. Too…much…stuff.  I’m a hermit while this is happening because it’s got to be done by the time I head back into the semester.  Because of that, I am sooo looking forward to a friend’s bash this weekend.  And then, back to it, and (finally) back to the art.

Still, the sorting, while essentially making room for the future, is an amusing trip through my past as well.  I don’t generally keep non-digital photos around, but I ran across these, and scanned them.  Kind of a hoot:


19 (gulp) 50s


1970s (with my sister, Laurie)