Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Am I done yet?

I am about to glaze over from computer work. After being in the studio a large portion of the day, I hit the computer tonite to first work on phrases and now I am completing some applications for next year. It's hard to believe I am already planning so far ahead, but its absolutely necessary because the deadlines for a few shows come up within the next two weeks. Plus I wanted to enter a couple local juried competitions which are due and that is finally done too. Only two more apps and I will be current up to Oct 1. And this is just the beginning.

We are having lovely weather here. My walk was very enjoyable this morning. I can hardly believe there is such low humidity. Is this really St. Louis in August!?!?!

Grandkids are coming for a sleep over tomorrow. John will pick them up from day care while I am at Yoga so I will miss the dinner part of the program and I feel bad about that but not bad enough to miss Yoga of course. Seriously, John has urged me to go to Yoga, probably because that helps keep me sane which makes his life more manageable too. I did talk to Aidan on the phone today and he seems excited about the sleep over. He said Ian was coming too which of course I knew but it was cute to hear him say it, like he is bringing his little brother along.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Back at it

We got home Sunday night and are trying to get back into a routine. On the drive home I kept wondering about the cats and sure enough there was one small batch of poop in the dining room, groan. It was on the other side of the room which means my orange spray strategy must have worked at least in one area. However, due to the fact it was in a different spot, I didn't see it and of course stepped on one of the little petrified turds with my bare foot. Welcome home.

Then John noticed that the fountain the cats use for their water dish, yeah, yeah, I know, who provides an artisan made pottery fountain for their cats.......well, let's just say that wasn't our origianl intent.......anyway, the fountain was dirty, the bottom was very scummy. So I think there is a chance the cats may have just been pissed about that and were trying to send us a signal. John cleaned the whole thing out yesterday which is no small task considering the multiple pieces, including the pump and all these ceramic rocks that have to be washed individually. Anyway, our carpet is poop-free at the moment.

Now I need to face all those canvasses I prepped. I tried a new strategy at this show and carried scans of images that I intended to use on new works with me so I could ponder them and write my captions during slow times of the show. Which there were a lot of at this show unfortunately. It was actually a really good idea and I feel like I got a lot done plus I am very anxious to work with some of the photos now. Lots of studio time this week, hooray!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

I'm so Excited!!

I am the Queen of having the booth next to the award winner. Last year at Schlafly, I was sandwiched between Best of Show (my friend Greg - I try not to hold that against him) and 2nd place which was a jeweler. At Shaw last year my friend Caroline won Best of Show. At Brookside this year, Best of Show was across from me plus I was next to 2nd place. It seems that I bring good luck to those around me, ha, ha, like I have anything at all to do with their winning. And even though I have been pleased for the prize winners, I have secretly been hoping that one day it might be me.

At my most recent show, Madison, I witnessed a walk by judging situation. All 3 judges placed their sticker on my sign without ever entering by booth. In fact, none of them even so much as glanced at my booth, at me, or my work. They simply placed their sticker without even breaking stride. It was so disappointing. All I wanted was for them to look at my art and thoughtfully consider me as a contender.

Today the judging was amazing. There were 3 judges and each one walked into my booth and said hello. Each one really looked at my work. Two of them queried me about the art, my process, the techniques and what inspires me. One even circled my name as he left the booth. I felt very validated and, for the first time, believed that my work had truly been considered.

So when my name was called I was just ecstatic. Of course I acted calm when I walked up to accept the ribbon with my fake nonchalant but gracious attitude. Inwardly I was jumping up and down like a kid. I won an Award of Excellence which means I got this big ass red ribbon and a $500 cash prize plus admittance to next year's show without going through the jury process. I know it wasn't best of show or even best of my category, but to me it was all the world. It was my first award and an amazing thrill that I will never forget. I'm just so excited!!

Friday, August 26, 2005

You look pretty vicious to me

What a day it was. We arrived about noon to begin our setup. This is a tent within a tent deal where there are these huge tents and then the artists set up their tents underneath them. It is kind of cool really because there are ceiling fans and the large tent helps keep the sun (and in this instance) rain off the patrons. We had unloaded our tent and had it about half set up when John said he was hungry and asked if I would go get him some of the free lunch they were serving to artists. It was a short walk and I got over there to find just one hot dog left which I grabbed immediately along with a bag of Fritos and a couple cookies. The rain started as I was filling my plate and the staff was clearing the food as quickly as I could grab it. I covered everything with a second paper plate and the sky simply opened up. Unbelievable torrential downpour. I ran back to the tent and was pretty much drenched. John ate the measly little hotdog, I had most of the Fritos and we called it lunch.

We continued our set up and I really had to question our sanity at one point as I was holding the metal legs of the tent with visible lightning all around me. Yikes. Then John setting up the lights and checking our electricity with all this standing water everywhere. Good grief, I spent way too many years in insurance claims to be party to this!

Anyway, we finished about 3 and were both totally wet and filthy dirty. I was so grateful we had a hotel to check in to so we could clean up before the Preview Party. John's athletic shoes were trashed, his socks were black with dirt. I had worn my Chaco sandals and they are made for water, so they were fine but dirty and my hair was a mess. I suggested that we go get a pair of sandals for John to wear since there was so much water everywhere it seemed the only logical solution. Now keep in mind that in 13 years of marriage I have never been able to get this man to wear sandals. We found a pair of Nike slip on pool sandals that were on sale; perfect. John saw the logic of my choice and let me buy them. We came back to the room, he showered and put on his new sandals. And he has ALBINO feet. I swear to God I don't think his feet have ever seen the light of day before. I couldn't help but cracking up which I honestly don't think he appreciated. I feel so sure his feet were happy to get out.

We went back to the show about 6 and snarfed appetizers from some of the food vendors then had a little of the dinner that had been provided for the artists. At some point during the evening there were 2 guys standing outside my booth looking at all the art. They were there for quite some time, to the point I said, "it's ok, you are welcome to come in, I won't bite". And the one guy looks right at me and says "You look pretty vicious to me." wink, wink. Hahahahahaha, nervous laughter from me. Later on when our friends John and Darryl showed up, we went over to visit another artist friend of theirs and the guy was in that booth. He instantly recognized me and looked at John and said, "Oh, be careful, she's vicious, she bites..." John didn't even blink an eye and said, "oh, but not that hard."

Pre Show Jitters

Well, I guess I am finally ready. We packed up the art last night; 84 pieces to be exact valued at $15,840. It seems like a decent amount but I wish I had more. It is so hard to know how much to carry and display, this is one of those things artists never talk about. It has been my experience that artists in general are kind of a cagey bunch; like they feel if they share any information it will somehow detract from their own position. Artists who have been doing the Art Fair circuit for years and years especially, hold back information and don't seem interested in meaningful discussions with "newbies." We generally do everything we can to appear seasoned and try to act like we know what we are doing. And we do fine most of the time except for that incident at Brookside where we dollied in on a luggage carrier, one of those $15 things from K-mart that we bought because we didn't have room to fit a real dolly in the truck. Oh yeesh did I look like a dork when all the other artists had these enormous industrial strength dollies and I could only carry about 80 pounds on my little collapsible luggage thingie. Luckily we recently upgraded to a camper shell on the truck which vastly expands our cargo space so we can now carry a real dolly too.

But I have found only a few truly open people and I just love it when that happens. My friend Rhonda, for instance, is a show veteran of 25 years and we have become very close and openly share tips with one another, often talking a couple times a week, planning strategies, etc. We will try for some of the same shows next year; we seem to feed off each other's energy which is really nice if you can get into a groove with someone like that. Plus I love her art and own a piece myself . Rhonda has had a hugely successful year and carried about $40,000 inventory to her biggest show. Just hearing that sort of number makes me break out into hives and my inventory sounds so small in comparison. But I do believe it will be perfect for this show. I am simply in that pre-show mode where I am second guessing myself and it's time for John to hit me in the head with a ball bat or something. I will truly need more for Kansas City though; from what I have heard, this amount will not be adequate.

Which is why I have 16 prepared canvasses that are ready to be worked upon my return. Plus I have scanned some of my new photos and will carry the images with me so that I can consider their meaning and hopefully write some captions during the show. At the last minute (meaning about 4 pm yesterday) I suddenly decided I didn't want to make the 54 mile drive back and forth all weekend so I booked a room at the Hampton Inn. It will make life much easier on us as the show ends tonite at 10pm and opens tomorrow at 10am so being just a few miles away will allow for a more leisurely experience. Plus John can shuttle back and forth to the room if he wants.

The only downside is this cat situation. I had a talk with each cat individually yesterday, did this loving supportive little "I don't know if you're the one, but we still love you" talk (while John was laughing his ass off in the background) then I sprayed a bunch of orange citrus spray on the rug cause cats hate oranges. And we had a poop-free morning, hooray! But now I am nervous about us leaving for a couple days.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Eeny Meeny Miny Mo

We are a 3 cat family. Merlin is the huge Maine Coon cat, Gilligan is the white one - he only has one eye, the result of an unfortunate drive by cat shooting, and Isadora is the Rubinesque Calico. I adopted Gil and Izzy(brother and sister) when I was going through my second divorce. Husband #2 and I had dogs which I love too, but I had always wanted a cat and he didn't. These two were my "treat" to myself and I love them dearly for being such great companions to me at a tough time in my life. They had been abandoned by their cat mother and raised by people, so they are extremely social and act a lot like dogs, run to the door to greet you, respond when you are talking, that sort of thing. John and I inherited Merlin about 7 years ago when he was perhaps a year old and he just changed our lives; I know how nuts that must sound, but it's true. He is the most loving creature I have ever known. Merlin is my #1 studio cat; the minute he hears the door, that cat will come running from whatever he is doing simply to go to the studio with me. Gil loves the studio too, but Merlin insists on his own chair, really he tries to take whatever chair I happen to be using, he is quite a pig and loves laying behind me on the chair. Since he is so big, it means I am frequently perched on just the very edge of a chair. Plus he likes to meditate. No joke, I call him and tell him I am going to meditate and he comes and sits with me until I am finished. He is an amazing animal, "otherworldly" per my friend Karyl. And all three of them are "Catdogs" per my friend Beth. Bottom line, we (at least me, I am not sure John feels so strongly) are obsessed with these animals.

So imagine my dismay when I walk into the house (upon our return from Cincinnati) to find cat shit on the oriental rug in the dining room. I immediately checked the litter boxes to see if they were overly full which they were not. I assumed that perhaps they had been too full at some point during our absence and one of the cats acted out. So I cleaned everything up and truly didn't think any more about it.

But today it happened again. I was so stunned I called for John. We both stared at this new, obviously "fresh" pile, once again on the oriental rug in the dining room. I was furious. But anyone who has owned cats knows that getting mad doesn't really help, you can't actually "yell" at a cat effectively. So instead we stood there and discussed it, analyzing the size of the turds and discussing which cat might be responsible for this brazen act. We decided it must not be Merlin because the turds were simply too small and, truth be known, he is probably our favorite, so we would both look for any way to defend him. We don't think it is Gil either (or at least I don't think it's Gil) as he doesn't have an attitude that would cause him to act out like that. But Izzy, well, that's another story. She's a calico for one thing and they are not that smart. Plus she is full of attitude. For instance, if we are gone for too long, she will stop greeting the cat sitter; she simply gets pissed off that we haven't returned and doesn't care who is feeding her and won't take the time to greet them. She really was meowing a lot tonite sitting next to John on the couch and meowing her ass off. It seemed like she seriously wanted something so he got the brush and spent some time brushing her, found some knots and got them all worked out so she looked nice and glossy. She then lay down on the floor and appeared to be very content. Perhaps she just wanted attention. Perhaps it wasn't even her. Who knows, I just hope it doesn't happen again.

On Fire

I have been working like I am on fire. Yesterday I got into a really nice groove and completely finished every single canvas I had prepped. I got the varnish onto the pieces from last week and painted the sides black. Everything is wired. My inventory looks quite nice for the show this weekend and I am getting excited now as I realize I've missed doing shows during this "off" period.

I ran out to get some more black paint yesterday, this was maybe 5:30 pm; I had this glorious full day stint in my studio, jumped out of bed and went down there right away, so I didn't even shower until perhaps 4:30 or 5. But anyway, I was driving home and saw that there is now a 2nd Hummer living in our neighborhood!??! I knew there was one because it lives right by us and I see it all the time; an enormous red beast. So now there is a yellow one too. Wonder how they are enjoying these gas prices. And how on earth they park them! Also saw a bunch of deer when I was coming home; a couple mothers with their young. They are so completely adorable. We had a fawn in our yard last week and it was so cute to watch, still a bit uncertain on it's wobbly legs.

We are having some decently cool weather which is a lovely change. I hope it holds for this weekend, that would be super. It is very nice for walking. Seems like it is getting darker earlier than I remember but John pointed out that San Francisco is farther north and it happens later there so I guess that is what I recall. Anyway, I am not quite ready for that. I don't mind the winter really, in fact I kind of enjoy going into a hibernation mode because I get a lot done during those times. But it seems awfully early. I only mention this because I wanted to walk to the ice cream place last night but it was already fairly dark by the time we finished dinner :-( Isn't that sad?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

I felt the whole thing

I am writing this in the car, as John drives home. Naturally I had big plans to document the trip as I went along rather than trying to recall details after the fact. Hmmm, best laid plans. It is so hard to explain what's it's like when I am back in Cincinnati. Basically every single minute is filled and I have very little time to myself. To say there's a lot going on is an understatement. In retrospect I feel like we managed a decent balance among friends and family; hopefully we left each person satisfied they had spent at least some quality time with us. I know that I feel good about the trip. Except I will need to go into Detox, having consumed way too much food and drink these past few days. The Usual Suspects - Skyline chili and LaRosa's pizza. My mom says I only come home for the food.

Chris (my brother) and his wife hosted a get together on Friday night with my parents, 2 cousins, their families and my aunt. There are suddenly lots of little ones running around and that is fun. For years it seemed no one in the family was breeding but they have gone wild lately, especially my cousin Brian who has 4 children under the age of 4. It is crazy, but in a good way and the new twin baby boys are simply adorable. I got to hold both of them. The one named after my youngest brother Bradley seems a little cuter to me, probably cause he has more hair, unlike my brother at this stage in his life. It is very strange to hold a baby named after another family member. I can't quite bring myself to say his (the baby's) name out loud as it feels really weird and I noticed no one else in my immediate family was able to say his name either. We kept calling him "the one with hair." I also got a big kick out of my niece Cassandra. She is 18 months old and a total charmer, hilarious to be around. She and Curtis (age 8) are our god-children; they are adorable and perfect.

So anyway, before everyone else arrived, John mixed Cecilia(s-i-l) and I some drinks. Nice frothy Pina Coladas from a mix that Cecilia had. It wasn't until the next morning we realized there was NO alcohol in them which is a mean and rotten trick that John will hopefully never repeat (and yes honey, if you are reading, I know it wasn't intentional). Cecilia quipped, "No wonder I was feeling the whole thing."

That kind of summed up the night for me too. At one point, between my dad, my brother and my cousins, I was reminded that Ohio decided the last election. Yikes there were some scary ideas being bandied about and I left the room rather than bite my tongue off or get into some animated debate(or rant) with people who have already made up their minds. It is so strange how we were raised by the same parents in the same home yet my brother and I seem to have come from different planets. I have already told him that, if he dies (God forbid) I will raise his children in a more liberal environment.

Saturday was the wedding and it was very nice. I don't recall ever seeing a bride and groom who appeared so genuinely happy - both radiating pure unadulterated happiness. Also the first wedding I've been to with a coffee bar. Karl was reveling in his role as Father of the Bride and Lois could win an award as step mom of the year - she was supportive in every way imaginable. I know that Ali was so grateful for her assistance and organizational ability.

The reception was fun too. Lately I've been thinking about dancing and wishing I knew how to dance, I mean really dance without having to be drunk first and without fear of embarrassing myself. A couple weeks ago I asked John if we could take lessons. Actually I would probably need to take lessons on my own first as I am such a very poor dancer that I wouldn't want to subject John to my beginning efforts. But hope springs eternal so I gave it a run last night. Tried not to lead and I was better in that regard but I did step on his toes a number of times, ugh. My dress turned out great by the way and here's a pic for those of you who asked.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

New Works

Here are some of my new works. I love the image with the dog that I used in the collage on the top left. It cracks me up that these guys apparently went in to have their portrait made and took their dog. Gotta wonder what they were thinking.

I finally took a batch of canvasses over to my photographer the other day and he took these great shots. You should check out his website.

It has been a crazy week but I guess nothing is new with that. The good news is I am getting a lot done. We ended up delaying our trip to Cincinnati because I have been so busy and there was a chance my brain would explode if we left too early and I feel sure John didn't want to deal with that in the car. I needed to get more work done before I could leave without being plagued by feelings of neglect. I had this vision we would travel 400 miles then basically be sitting around watching my brother work on his paving project. That would have driven me crazy (short trip) because I would have been thinking of everything I could have been doing if I was in the studio. We are leaving tomorrow morning for real. I will have to say I am not overly enthused about the trip. I am feeling pulled in too many directions by various family members; my family tends to do this to me or better said, I allow them to do this to me. I know they all love me but to manipulate with guilt is just not good.

Lots of office stuff nagging at me this week and I have finished much of it. I am going to try to do some computer stuff in the car and hopefully organize my thoughts a bit so I feel a little more settled by the time we get back home. You see, in addition to building inventory, I need to simultaneously plan the "winter" season of shows. This will be Florida mainly. Then early Spring possibly in Texas and Tennessee. But I need to research the specifics of available shows and make some sort of hopefully intelligent decision as to which ones to enter. Plus all these extra shows means a bunch more slides which I ordered last night to include the new art plus a fresh booth photo. When I get back I need to tackle the applications because many are due by mid Sept. I also have couple local shows I want to enter and those apps are due the first week of Sept. This may sound like no big deal but you cannot imagine how long it takes to do them. Every single show has different requirements; there is no "industry standard" in the art biz. So you have to carefully read the app then follow the instructions to the dot lower left of the slide or was that the upper right, etc, etc. I can only do a couple apps a day or I get stupid. It averages up to an hour for each one.

I had a great time last night visiting a (kind of) new friend and touring her adorable house. It was just what I needed to brighten an otherwise crappy week; a little wine and lots of laughter. So thanks R, you know who you are.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Frock fetish

We are heading off to Cincinnati in a few days to attend a wedding. Our Seattle friends, the folks we went to Hawaii with, this is their daughter's wedding. Since my family lives in Cincinnati, we will do a little catch up on the family front and spend a couple days with my brother's gang and then a couple days with Mom and Dad.

I have been plagued by what to wear to this wedding. I told my friend Claire, "you might not believe this, but I have nothing to wear." She said, "you're right, I don't believe that." And so it goes.

I started this quest many months ago. Lois (bride's step-mom) and I shopped in Hawaii but I tried to keep my focus on Lois (as any good friend would do) because the step-mom's role is important and crystal clear. She must look thinner, younger and more hip than the 1st wife. Naturally she will be dressed in more chic, cutting edge attire. 'Nuff said, I've been there, done that. Lois will look fantastic - she has been training like a maniac the last month and although we didn't find the right dress in Hawaii, I have kept up with her search via the internet, seen scans, color choices, shoe picks, etc. She will be understated yet gorgeous.

For me, the first dress popped up spontaneously when I was at the mall back in June. Walked by Express (of all places!) and saw a dress through the window. Dashed in to check it out, a green silk sundress, kind of bohemian yet kind of sexy, studded with very tasteful beading; a knee length sassy little number, I loved it! There was only was a size 2. Thought I would try it and low and behold it actually fit, meaning I got it zipped without breaking a sweat. But I was, hmmm, how to say this on a family blog, spilling over the top. It was on sale though and a SIZE 2 (I mean how often does that happen, like NEVER), plus I had been watching my weight and thought it might be fine if I lost a couple more pounds, plus did I mention it was a size 2? All you similarly minded fashionistas know what's coming next. I bought it.

In July we were up in Wisconsin at the art fair and I ate fried food. I felt fat and was convinced I would never be able to get in to the lovely silk dress. There was a rack of dresses on the sidewalk, on sale of course. I found a very cute one with a sort of a flamenco effect, longer in the back, shorter in the front; truly, it looks better than this description is making it sound. Plus it didn't hug my tummy and had draping in all the right places. Dress #2.

At the end of July I tried my silk dress on again and yes, it still zipped, but I had an honest talk with myself about the mono-boob factor which could not be ignored. Sadly, I returned it.

On Saturday I tried on dress #2 with my shoes, etc to see how it looks. I have lost my "art fair" weight and am feeling lean and mean. Actually I always feel pretty mean, but the leanness is new. The dress looked frumpy, what the hell was I thinking!??! I took a chance and asked John. He said it didn't make me look as thin as I really am. He should trademark that remark because it is simply brilliant.

Yesterday I went shopping, just going to dash in to Famous to use the coupon and pick up something acceptable. I grabbed the first dress I saw, my size, petite even, and tried it on. Adorable. Would match my black high heel sandals. It had been marked down about 47 times and, with the coupon, it was $18. Bought it.

But maybe there was something better? It's an illness I know, but I kept looking. Somehow I found myself in the shoe department and there was the most fantastic bronze shoe, just a perfect transitional sandal, very high heel yet still comfy. I suddenly was desperate to have a dress to go with this shoe.

Three hours and 4 dresses later, I drove home, exhausted. Did a fashion show for John. He liked the $18 dress a lot but ultimately settled on my very last pick of the day which was a sleek 2 piece coffee colored skirt and halter set. That was perfect with the bronze shoe. And the skirt was a size 2.

Now to find the right bra.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

It's not all Fun and Games

I get the feeling that many people imagine the life of an artist as some sort of perpetually idyllic pursuit where the artist just leaps out of bed each day so eager to pursue the dream. I used to imagine it that way and it is all that, really it is. But it is also a lot of organization and business stuff too and I hate to say it, but I probably spend 50% of my time doing bullshit tasks that have to be done but I really hate doing them so I need to whine a bit. Bear with me....

For instance, yesterday I wanted to send out some postcards for the Midwest Salute to the Arts that is happening in 2 weeks. My husband is so diligent (read ANAL) about keeping my mailing list up to date and I thought it would be fairly easy for me to jump in to Excel, sort through the IL people who might want to attend that show and create some mailing labels. Good lord, let's say 2 hours later after many foul words, much gnashing of teeth and (I am embarrassed to say) even a few tears of frustration, I finally got that Mail Merge thingie to actually work. I don't know why it is so difficult, if it's just me or if it's really a pain in the ass program, but it seemed to be more complicated that I was expecting. Certainly not what I was in the mood for. I pressed on mainly because I was way pissed off and wasn't going to let the computer beat me plus I have all these shows coming up and will have the need to do this a number of times in the coming weeks. The story does have a happy ending though as I was able to make it work and printed my labels, added a note as to my booth #, etc and got those in to the mail.

Then I headed in to the studio hoping to get some work done. There was so much stuff all over I couldn't find anything. All the new stuff I got at the flea market, 2 shipments from Dick Blick, items I had been using, things I had thought about using, you name it; everywhere - the tables, floor, basically every single surface was covered. And I suddenly felt like it was all smothering me and quashing my creative energy to the point where I could barely breathe. Not literally of course, but figuratively. I decided I would just at least move all the new canvasses and stack them neatly in a better out of the way spot. Then I thought I would just organize my ribbons. Then maybe put the magazines in the storage boxes I got at Ikea. Well, one thing led to another and about 4 hours later I was finished. I ended up with this......

The first shot(you can click to enlarge), upper left, is the main work area where I sit. One chair is for me, the other for Merlin who insists on his own padded rotating chair despite two adorable cat beds which are just a couple yards away. 2nd shot, upper right is the organization area with my boxes and bags full of all the little things I use in my work. Note my economical nature; pizza boxes and ziplock bags make great storage devices! Properly labeled so I can find them and because I am just a trifle anal myself. Below are my maps and books - clip art and vintage - that I use creating the work. The 3rd shot, lower left is the varnish/paste paper station depending on what I am doing at the time. It happens to be varnish in this shot. And the last shot is my bookcase (with books for reading, art books mainly) with my altar on top.

Now, as I look at these pictures I am starting to feel like maybe it *is* all fun and games after all and I'm getting kinda excited. So I gotta go and make some art!!!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Busy Bee

I have been immersed in new work. It feels good. The Flea Market got me cranked up and now the ideas are really buzzing in an invigorating way. I have so many new photos it is almost hard to know where to start. I decided to scan only a few at a time so I can work in batches. That seems to be going well and allows me a chance to get to know each piece a little better.

Plus I am playing around with writing my own captions rather than pulling them from vintage source material like I normally do. This is a slower process but allows me to be more expressive. I do have to spend more time with each image though thinking about what it is telling me if that makes any sense. But it’s fun! Now I am anxious to see how other people receive them, if they think the new works are funny. I think some of them are hilarious but I have sort of a weird sense of humor sometimes. Or at least that is what I am told.......hmmm......

And thanks to everyone who has inquired about my hip. It is feeling much better. I took a week off exercise to allow it to heal and also started wearing my orthotics again (in my workout shoes only, I hate to look like a total dork) because I have a feeling the whole issue may be coming from my foot. Yesterday was my first day back to exercise and I did a 30 minute walk (NO running) and it felt fine. I was slightly stiff later after sitting in the car, but otherwise ok. Plus went to Yoga and did a lot of good deep stretching. I have a massage appointment tomorrow which will help too. So I am taking it easy and trying to be smart.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Home Again

I didn't sleep well last night and woke up ridiculously early. For some reason I thought a dark hotel room sans cat, sans snoring man would be exactly the sleep remedy I needed, but it didn't work out for me this trip. Anyway, I was dressed, packed and checked out by 7 am. Hit Starbucks for a Grande 2% Latte with an extra shot and 2 packs of Sweet 'n' Low. Plus the 10 year anniversary Jagged Little Pill CD by Alanis Morissette, acoustic version.

I had routed out a slightly different return trip specifically concocted to avoid those bastard toll ways just in the event my picture was posted anywhere. The weather was a perfect 67 degrees, so I had the sunroof open, music cranked. My coffee was superb. I was ripping along enjoying the gorgeous pastoral farmland watching the morning haze lift up from the earth. It was serenely beautiful and I was so pleased with myself, thinking, now THIS is what I wanted to do, just hit the road......

Except I was going the wrong friggin direction.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Trip Snips

Friday Tollmania
Chicago is big. I mean really really big as in it takes forever to get anywhere and there are so many damn freeways. Luckily I Mapquested all my expeditions before I left home. Hotel to Ikea. Ikea to Paper Source. Paper Source to Hotel. No room for error that way. Lots of the roads are toll ways. John had warned me to have change ready, which I did, but I didn’t realize the majority of them were the unattended kind meaning no people or change making ability. I was doing great with the whole system until the exit before Ikea. Out of quarters by then, I threw 3 dimes into the little basket. I anticipated the green light and rolled forward but the light never turned green. I had no idea what to do and was then too far forward; tried to back up but the car behind me was right on my butt plus there were other cars behind him. So I got another dime and heaved it at the basket but of course I missed. And finally I said, fuck it, and just drove through. There was a loud alarm going off and my heart started palpitating as I kept driving and waiting for something to happen, like gates to come down out of the sky and encircle my car or the toll booth police to appear out of nowhere and cuff me. Truly I had paid the correct amount so I am not certain what happened except dimes are so little maybe the machine missed counting one of them? I have this ridiculous compulsion to try to contact the Toll booth people to see what I should do. I bet they photograph license plates but I don’t know if they track out of state people or not. Or maybe they track us even more diligently and I’ll have to serve a term in a 3rd world prison for a toll violation.

Friday night – Misbehavior Reigns
Got a little crazy and drank too much at the Mill Race Inn which is a lovely place on the river, a truly idyllic setting. They have 3 restaurants and I chose the outdoor one since it was such a glorious evening. I sat at the bar because it feels more acceptable to be alone that way. Of course there was some freak several bar stools down. I had seen him when I entered and purposely left a lot of space between us but he was not to be deterred. Now I should first say I have a special knack for attracting freaks, I don’t know what it is about my face that says talk to me, freak, but it always happens. Like the guy during my freshman year of college, the one who had been hit by a train (like literally hit by a train, it was on the news) and his brains spilled out of his head and weren’t put back in right according to campus rumor. Or the guy in high school, the one I actually went to a dance with just because I felt bad for him. I attract these people. Here’s the thing, I try to be polite but it sometimes (read ALL THE TIME) gets me in to trouble. I mean this guy started talking to me and I didn’t want to be flat out rude, so I answered his question but he thought everything I said was hysterically funny and he had a very loud distinctive laugh. One of those laughs where you instantly know, this person is not right in the head. He took my polite but non-engaging answer as his opening and just wouldn’t leave me alone. By this time the band was setting up and a woman came over to get some beer for the musicians. She started talking to me or actually I might have started with her to avoid the freak. Anyway, she brought a guitar player over to hang with me before they got started and between sets. Turns out he is also a sculptor who worked in the movies for many years until he was seriously injured on the job. He sculpted all kinds of things in well known movies such as the ice sculpture in My Best Friend’s Wedding. He was a very nice man and interesting to talk with. The freak, thank goodness, was cut off from drinking and left the bar only to be replaced by a Lounge Lizard who moved to sit on the other side of me. He was cute but still a lounge lizard. Between the Lizard and Sculptor, I had drinks (oh yay, just what I needed) all night long until I slapped myself in the head and finally toddled back to my hotel.

The good news is I didn’t dance.
The bad news is that John had been trying to reach me for several hours, naturally I didn’t hear the phone because of the loud music. He had been cooking dinner, this being one major league difference between me and John……he cooks for himself. Now me, if I was on my own, I might cook something as exotic as a Boca burger but I would more likely eat cereal and yogurt. Or hard boiled eggs. But John cooks and he sliced the end of his finger off which necessitated several hours in Urgent Care to make the bleeding stop. Good Lord, talk about guilt. Wife hanging in a bar, husband at Urgent Care. I am still flogging myself.

Saturday – Who is Stalking Who?
I spent the early part of the morning trying to get sober; I swear to God I was still drunk when I woke up and the very insipid coffee here at the hotel was simply not going to cut it. So I went over to Starbucks and got some real coffee before I headed to Burger King for some grease, a sure cure in Mary Beth's book of hangover remedies. Instantly felt better.

I arrived at the Flea Market early, having been told that is the best strategy but it meant I had to stand in line for about a half hour. There was a “regular” in front of me and we got to talking and he decided to take me under his wing and show me the ropes. So he shared his strategies going so far as to lead me to his favorite first stop, the “everything is one dollar, that’s one dollar folks” spot. We then went our separate ways but I bumped into him later on and he once again shared a good place for photos with me. Way cool of him to be so generous.

And then it happened. I ran in to my stalker. If you have been reading since the Xanga days you might remember my stalker, Beth, who followed me up to Wisconsin for a show. Well, not really, I think she was actually visiting family but it makes a better story the other way around. Oddly, Beth is the person who told me about this Flea Market in the first place. And damned if she wasn’t there! I thought I was delusional when I first saw her. She and her husband are nice and funny and just so adorable, like you want to be their neighbors and have martinis on the terrace with them.

All in all, the Flea Market was a total hit with me. I got tons of interesting items, photos especially. And some other paper stuff, some ribbons, buttons, the usual suspects, but they are all fresh and new and therefore very exciting to me. I am seriously invigorated and can’t wait to get back to work. I've just got this pesky little five hour drive to tackle first.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Princess Vision Quest

I ran away from home today. Not really, since John knows where I am, but I am on a trip by myself which is quite unusual. So unusual because I have NEVER done this before, I mean never traveled by myself, never eaten out by myself, or anything like that. I'll just confess right now and say that I am a princess. Basically I have had someone taking care of me all my life. First it was my parents then my 3 husbands. Yikes, that looks crazy in print like I am a real relationship risk, ha, ha. Only to the 4 year mark though which is when my first 2 marriages ended. I told John going in that life with me would be a roller coaster ride and that 4 years was typically a rough spot for me. We are coming up on 13 lucky years so clearly we are doing something right. John particularly is skilled at managing our marriage; he is quite adept at taking care of the princess. Thus he approved my plan to venture forth on my own. I don’t think he “gets it” necessarily, my need to do this, but he is supportive and I am very grateful for that.

It all started when I read this book, “The Pull of the Moon,” by Elizabeth Berg. It is about a 50 year old woman who runs away from home. Obviously women running away from home is not a unique thought(although I don’t think a lot actually act on it) and the book didn’t initiate this thought pattern for me but rather confirmed an idea that had been rolling around in my head for awhile. I couldn’t say how long exactly, but for several years at least I have had this overwhelming desire to head out ON MY OWN. Driving of course, meandering if I wanted, and setting my own course. And so here I am, in St. Charles, IL. I came to this place specifically so I could kill 2 birds with one stone(even my running away lacks a certain spontaneity) and hopefully gather some new collage stuff at the Kane County Flea Market. But I also wanted to ramble around and see how it feels to just do whatever. Whenever. I played around with the concept today and drove off the beaten path. I stopped in Morris, Il and went to several antique shops and bought some interesting stuff. I talked to people and found out about another flea market on Sunday, even went so far as to write down the directions and I think I will stop there on the way home.

My friend Michelle just got back from a Vision Quest where she had to be self sufficient for God knows how many days, camping out in the wilderness, placing a rope around her tent because rumor has it rattlesnakes won’t slither over a rope. (As an aside, I should mention that John saw something on the Discovery channel where snakes DID slither right across a rope but I didn't have the heart to tell Michelle till afterwards). Anyway, Michelle suggested that it sounded like I was going on a Princess Vision Quest. And so I am.

Did I mention that John filled my car up with gas before I left?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I scared my Coach

I have been working with an artist's coach for a couple of weeks now. She is a psychotherapist and life coach, but since she is also an artist, she can relate to issues very specific to artists. During our last session I revealed how many shows I have coming up and the inventory that I would need to fill the booth, satisfy sales, replenish, etc. And I scared my coach. Ugh. Well, I work better under pressure, what can I say. And it's not like I don't have some inventory already, I mean I do have a fair amount that I will use. But I couldn't decently fill the booth with what I have on hand. Which means I need to work my ass off for the next month at least.

So, what am I doing? Heading off to Chicago to clear my brain. Hmmm, seems logical, huh?!?! We can only hope this trip will help me to regain the focus I have lost recently. Oddly, going to a good flea market usually does that for me as I get all inspired by the weird things I find and my mind starts buzzing in a bunch of different directions. I have to hold the faith it will happen again or my greatest fear will descend upon ideas will dry up. There, I put it in writing, actually came out into the open with it. Clearly this is the thing that scares me the most, that I will someday run out of ideas, be so uninspired that I produce insipid and boring art. I guess this 6 week break seems more and more stupid to me because my brain is turning to mush.

On an up note, I did get some real work done the last 2 days and am happy to report the latest commission is now finished. Plus I have 5 small pieces done and I am actually pleased with them. New colors, new themes, new materials - fun, fun fun!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Where I left my heart

Ok, I know it's a song already, but sometimes I think I really did leave my heart in San Francisco. It is strange how I am so sad lately, literally pining away as though the City (we always capitalize "city" when referring to SF) were a lost lover. We went to see "Must Love Dogs" Friday night and there was a preview for an upcoming movie that had been filmed in SF. I got tears in my eyes just watching the preview as I recognized so many spots near our old house. I would say I am homesick except it isn't even my hometown and I only lived there for 5 years after all. But it penetrated my soul or more accurately, the City helped me discover my soul.

It is where I got the courage to "out" myself as an artist. It is where I learned how much I love nature and how I need to be around the water. Where I learned to use my own 2 feet as my primary mode of transportation and the Muni as my backup; I learned that I really don't like to drive so much anyway. I downsized my dwelling and never felt so free as I did with fewer possessions and less space. I learned to sleep with the sounds of the City, windows open nearly year round, no heating or cooling costs to speak of. I learned daily market type shopping, buy just what you need for one meal, after all you are carrying it home and the store is just a block away. It was such a different life than anything this suburban girl had ever experienced and I just breathed it in through every pore and was somehow nourished.

There is something magical about that city and I guess that is what I miss the most, other than my dear friends who, thank goodness, still communicate with me regularly. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to live there. I've been back in the Midwest almost 2 years and it is wonderful here, don't get me wrong. But my heart is still partially in San Francisco. I am thinking it's about time for me to buy a plane ticket.......hmmmm........

And in more local news, we have a woodpecker who drinks from our hummingbird feeder. The first time I saw him ( I am assuming it is a boy) he was standing on one of the feeder's perches right outside the window above our kitchen sink. I thought he was confused, but no, he put his beak down into the right place and started to drink. Then he went back for more. He is quite friendly really, stares right in the window at me and visits almost every day for his little sugar fix.

I have injured my hip and I am not sure how I did it. Possibly my run/walk program? But I have done this for years and I don't recall a specific incident or anything that would have caused this. My right hip just started aching like crazy maybe 2-3 weeks ago. Or possibly even longer. I have a little dose of my mom in me because I have always believed I should just "shake it off," and it will eventually go away. God forbid I go to a Dr. or anything like that. So I stopped walking for a few days but it didn't seem any better. So I resumed my walking and started stretching more, concentrating on hip flexor stuff. I got a massage but the therapist couldn't even reach the sore spot it is so deep within my hip, like the socket itself. Now it hurts after most everything, walking, running, sitting, sleeping, most everything I do. Tonight I went to Yoga and we did some wonderful stretching that really helped it a lot. In fact I was feeling pretty good which is why I didn't even think twice when we got to the balance postures. I did Eagle easily enough standing on my left leg, then switched to my right leg. Oh my goodness, I thought I was going down it hurt so badly. No other moves seemed to bother it, but that full weight bearing posture was a killer and I was semi-limping when I left. It even got a little worse after the drive out to help John babysit. I am now all cranked up on Advil and it is feeling better, but obviously not right. Stairs are bad; luckily we live on all 3 stories of our house.....ugh. I think I am going to really suck it up this time and take some time off all exercise and see if it gets any better. If not, I have a physical at the end of September and I will mention it to my Dr. I am also scheduled for a bone scan beings I am a small boned white woman with a family history of some Osteo stuff that I cannot recall the name of!?!? Oh, I think that would be Osteoporosis. This aging is a bitch.